Bill Bruce of Harvard

Bill Bruce of Harvard

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Bill Bruce of Harvard
Patten, Gilbert (Standish, Burt L.) ( Author, Primary )
Poucher, Edward A. ( Illustrator )
Dodd, Mead and Company
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Adventure stories, American -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Harvard University -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )


General Note:
On front endpaper: "Harvard Advocate, Oct. 1910." Original gray pictorial cloth. Facsimile dust jacket.

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Source Institution:
University Of South Florida
Holding Location:
University Of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
030032506 ( ALEPH )
35959256 ( OCLC )
C21-00032 ( USFLDC DOI )
c21.32 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Added automatically
Children's Literature Collection

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It seemed that the cheering would never cease (Page 98)




Copyright, 1g10, by DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY Publislted September, 1g10 QUINN a IOOEN CO. PRUS RA.MWAY, N J,








ILLUSTRATIONS It seemed that the cheering would never cease. (Page 98) One final rousing cheer for Bill Bruce-Frontispiece Good old Bill! Facing page 32 Benson's ugly mongrel dog was in hot pur suit of a frightened horse that bore a blonde-haired girl in riding cos tume It began to appear that he was going in for a strike-out record 186 296


BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD CHAPTER I THE CHANCE FoR four innings Kemp had held the Yale bat ters at his mercy. His speed was dazzling, and his sharp, high in-shoot mowed down the best stickers on the New Haven team. Even Watkins, the steady, the sure-eyed, the never -failing-Watkins, the terror of all college pitchers, who up to date had not been fanned during the season-Watkins struck out twice in those four innings. When Kemp faced the enemy at the beginning of the fifth, he had issued no passes, and but one puny scratch hit had been made off him. Kemp knew that the eyes of that gathering of college men, old grads, pretty girls, and baseball enthusiasts-of both sexes and of varying ages from ten to sixty-were on him as he toed the slab at the beginning of the fifth; and he smiled slightly with self-satisfaction, giving his head a toss which flung back a dark curl that had fallen over his moist forehead He felt that he was an unusually handsome young fellow, straight, sup ple, clean-limbed, bronzed, athletic, and the finest pitcher of the Harvard varsity nine; so why


2 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD should he not command the admiration of that great crowd which had assembled at Soldiers' Field to witness the opening game of the yearly Harvard-Yale series? Harold Kemp was seldom wholly free from self-consciousness and pride. Whether play!ng billiards or baseball, he bore constantly in mind the fact that he was a person to command atten tion, both by his unusual physical attainments and by his easily acquired skill in whatever sport or pastime pleased his somewhat fickle fancy. He had mastered the art of posing effectively in base ball togs or in full dress, and he did not forget it now, as he smiled benignly, half pityingly, on the slender Yale batter who faced him. In the second inning Harvard had come within an ace of putting the blanket on Powell, the Yale pitcher, having hammered him for three plain singles and a d01.ible, Kemp himself starting the bingling after one man was out. As Kemp crossed the rubber, giving the home team its first score, a thousand tiny crimson balloons were set free, and soared skyward, resembling a joyous flock of birds, while the stand billowed like a red sea and roared like a tropical typhoon. Three runs had been chalked to Harvard's credit, and many Yale spectators were aghast over the stubbornness of Captain Hopkins in declining to pull Powell off the slab in the face of such punishment. Powell settled down at last and ended the agony by striking out Cummings, Har-


THE CHANCE 3 vard's great head man of the list, and forcing Price to pop to short. To the pessimistic Yale following, however, the damage seemed to be irremediable. For weeks baseball experts had predicted that the game would be a pitchers' battle between Powell and Kemp. Granting that these experts had been endowed with the power of prophecy, it would shortly be necessary for the timid dwellers of Cambridge and Boston to retire to their cyclone cellars, while the victorious braves of Harvard held the usual howling scalp-dance to celebrate an athletic victory over Yale. Kemp's record for the season had caused the sharps to declare him a worthy successor to the great Bob Downing, whose pupil he was and who had forecast wonderful things for him. He had pitched many of the hard games, and yet had taken care not to overwork, permitting the second pitcher, Bruce, to relieve him at the dic tates of his judgment, as his influence with Cap tain Whitney seemed absolute. A few fellows ventured to whisper that on one or two occa sions Kemp had ducked and permitted Bill Bruce to face a rising storm of base-hits; but they were regarded as jealous, and were silenced by the indignant scorn of Hal's host of admirers. Bruce, tall, gangling, sandy-haired, and freckle faced, was on the bench now, his brown eyes aglow with satisfaction over Harvard's succeis and Kernp's fine work. Although he believed


4 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD that there was not one chance in a thousand for him to get into a game against Yale, the second pitcher was on hand in case the unexpected should happen. The band was playing "Up the Street," and hundreds of voices were blending in the chorus of that grand college song as Tooker, Yale's slim center-fielder, stepped out to the plate to lead off in the fifth. Kemp was certain that he knew Tooker's weak spot; therefore, with perfect con fidence in his ability to pull the batter, he smilingly and gracefully delivered a sharp out drop. Tooker had selected a long bat. With this he reached nearly a foot beyond the plate and smote the ball with such a crack that it lifted half the spectators to their feet and brought a sudden spasm of revengeful joy to every Yale heart. Cummings, who patrolled Harvard's middle pasture, turned his back on the home plate and ran as though his life depended on it. Having judged the distance, he looked over his shoulder and located the ball with that rare skill that had marked him as the best outfielder developed at Cambridge in many a long year. To his dismay, the ball was holding up better than he had fancied it would. When Cummings leaped for the horse hide a thousand hearts leaped with him, and when he missed by a fraction of an jpch hearts fell like leaden weights.


THE CHANCE 5 Running the ball down, Cummings whipped it back into the diamond in time to hold Tooker at third; but the Yale man had demonstrated that Kemp was vulnerable, and his comrades who followed proceeded to put on their batting clothes. Ferguson singled, sending To.oker across the rubber. Powell smashed a sizzler through Harvard's short field, and McRea dropped an unexpected bunt in front of the pan, scoring Ferguson and himself reaching first amid the confusion. Then Kemp hastily got aboard the balloon and made a grand ascension. Graydon, heading Yale's batting-list, was waiting to duplicate the work of his team-mates. The confident, eager look on his face broke the Harvard pitcher's nerve. Kemp smiled no longer; he could not hide his anxiety. It would not do to let Gray don hit safely; for that would surely tie the score, and might put Yale in the lead. In try ing to fool Graydon, Kemp pitched himself into a hole; and then, when forced to find the plate, he discovered instead that he had lost his control. Graydon walked, filling the corners ; and the Yale crowd went stark, staring mad. There was a hasty consultation at the Harvard bench. Macomber, the coach, had Graves, the manager, by the collar. Whitney hesitated at third, seeking a cue from the bench, and the Yale players tried to rush things along before tlie home team could recover its balance and Kemp


6 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD could settle down. Whitney gave a signal, and Bill Bruce began to shed his sweater. Kemp saw this and literally "blew up," hitting Watkins in the ribs, which forced a run and tied the score. This was how it happened that Bill Bruce got his opportunity in the game; and probably there were not twenty persons present who did not be lieve that it was all over with Harvard when the tall, awkward freshman pitcher walked upon the diamond to take Kemp's place. It was before the time when freshmen were barred from the varsity. Harvard was in des perate straits for twirlers when Hawkins, a "scout," discovered Br;uce at an obscure preparatory school and practically brought him to Cam bridge by force of arms. Hawkins had con fidence in the freckled greenhorn; but others, with few exceptions, were still skeptical. Stan Hastings was the only man of the team who sought to remonstrate with Whitney for the change. Stan dashed over from first as Bruce made a move from the bench. Good Lord I he gasped. It's suicide, Walt! We may as well give them the game." Whitney waved him back. We'll give them the game if we keep Kemp in," he said. Give him a chance to steady down. Delayplay for time I But Whitney had decided, knowing that he was backed by Macomber and Graves; and the freshman went on the slab.


CHAPTER II BRUCE IN THE BOX IT was a bitter pill for Harold Kemp to swallow. His face was pale, but his heart burned with anger and shame as he walked to the bench. His eyes were peculiar, the left one being dark brown and the other gray, except when he was exasperated or when he plotted retaliation upon some person who had incurred his displeasure. At such times the gray eye took on a greenish tinge like those of a cat. It was green now as he fixed it on Barry Macomber. Why wasn't I given a show? he demanded fiercely. "Look at the rotten support I got! Cummings missed that fly, and then Abbott let an easy grounder get through him. It was fine en couragement for a man to pitch his arm off, wasn't it?" Macomber made no retort, and Kemp, sullenly pulling a crimson blanket about his shoulders, sat down to watch Yale make a holy show of Bill Bruce. The freshman was warming up a bit by throw ing a few to Hastings, the Yale captain having courteously smiled his perm i ssion. In the stands the Yale rooters were singing joyously, while the


8 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Harvard cohorts cheered in a desperate effort to keep up their own courage and stiffen the backbones of their players. Old John," in his red-banded plug hat, his Galways seeming to bristle with apprehensive excitement, did one of his rare stunts; for he got out in front of the Harvard section and led the cheering. The sun was shining, and the breeze was balmy with the sweetness of early June. Swal lows skimmed the air, and afar above the Charles some white gulls winged across the sapphire sky. It was a day to dream; but there was no dream ing within the fenced inclosure of Soldiers' Field. There a subtle something, potent and painful, yet delicious with the thrills of mingled hope and fear, gripped hard the heart of every spectator. Some were white-lipped and silent as they sat stone-cold upon the seats; some were flushed and burning with a fever that pumped the blood tingling through their veins; some laughed and shouted, and then fell dumb with dread of the terrible thing that soon must happen. For these were true lovers of baseball and loyal admirers of the Crimson or of the Blue; and those lads on the diamond were imbued with much of that same patriotism for their colors which has filled the hearts of thousands who have fallen beneath their country's flag in battle. The singing ceased; the cheering stopped; there was a lull-a hush-a dread suspense. The tall freshman had placed his brass-tipped


BRUCE IN THE BOX 9 shoe upon the rubber plate. The infielders crouched, muscles taut, nerves tense, ready. The outfielders held themselves alert to run in any direction. The base-runners moved off the sacks at the admonition of the coachers. Pope, Yale's shifty little short-stop, hunched over the pan and twiddled his bat. Behind the rubber Bowers crouched froglike, glaring through the wires of his mask as he gave a signal. Pope swatted the first ball delivered by Bruce, driving it on a dead line into Abbott's hands. Abbott snapped the leather to Mumford at second, and Mumford sizzed it up the line to first, catch ing both runners off the cushions. For one dazed second the spectators were dumb; then, as the truth dawned upon them, the Harvard stand upheaved like a red tidal wave; and a wild, ear-splitting, joyous yell was flung across the field. At the home bench Graves seized Macomber and hugged him, while somebody smashed Graves a hilarious, heavy-handed blow between the shoulder-blades. When Abbott trotted blushingly to the bench, his hand was clutched and wrung, and he was congratulated until he begged off. Bill Bruce walked in unnoticed save by Kemp, who observed, with a disagreeable laugh: Somebody flung a whole bunch of horse shoes at you that time." "That's right," agreed Bruce cheerfully. "Abbie was right there with the goods."


10 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD And now the cheering squad recovered from its disruption and heartily honored the hero of the triple play. Rah I rah I rah I Rah I rah I rah! Rahl rah! rah! Abbot-t-tl" We squirmed out of a small hole that time, boys," said Whitney. "That was a rattling triple play. Fine work-fine work I "But the score is tied," muttered Hastings gloomily, and we'll never hold them down with Bruce in the box." For all their relief over the sudden interrup tion of Yale's triumphant progress, the majority of the team entertained feelings of apprehension and dread akin to that which clouded Stan Hastings' fine face; and, relapsing from the mad spasm of joy that had overwhelmed them, the Harvard spectators and sympathizers were also troubled by the thought that the enemy had .. batted Kemp out and were undoubtedly confident that they could bump the freshman with even greater ease. The head of Harvard's list was up, and Whitney urged Cummings to get after Powell; but the crafty Yale pitcher forced the great Cambridge sticker to pop to second, led Price to hit weakly to short, and then struck out Captain Whitney himself. It's all over," declared a Cambridge pessi mist. "Yale's got this game in a walk." As the home team took the field, Bruce trotted out, with none of Kemp's confident grace. h


BRUCE IN THE BOX II must be confessed that he was nervous and not a little anxious. In spite of a struggle to appear cool, he could feel his heart beating unsteadily high in his breast, and the freckled splotches on his face were brown, murky islands in a sea of pallor. He threw a few to Hastings before Wetherbee, the batter, got into position. Wetherbee waited and forced Bruce to put one over. Getting what he wanted, the batter drove a long liner into left field, and Cameron muffed it after a short, sharp run. Wetherbee took sec ond with ease, and the rejoicing from the Yale stand was enough to rattle almost any raw pitcher. Hopkins batted a daisy-cutter at Abbott, and the hero of the previous inning stripped the laurels from his own brow by fumbling the ball and juggling it while the batter raced to first and Wetherbee made a daring dash for third. Knowing that a hasty throw from Abbott might be fatal, Whitney yelled for the short-stop to hold it" as the latter finally scooped up a double handful of horsehide, sod, and good green grass. Yale was happy, Harvard was desperate, and Bill Bruce was worried. Indeed, the tall fresh man was so worried that, on receiving the ball from Abbott, he stood with it in his hands and dumbly let Hopkins steal second behind his back. When the shouts of his team-mates aroused him, it was too late to stop the pilferer, and he had sense enough not to attempt a useless throw. The


12 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Yale coachers were laughing; the whole Yale team was laughing; and a roar of laughter came from the Yale stand, answered by a groan from the opposite side of the field. The face of Bill Bruce, pale at first, now flushed fever-hot. He knew that they were laughing at him, and he burned with mingled shame and anger. Happening to glance toward the Harvard bench, he saw Harold Kemp smiling in a sneering way as he spoke to Macomber and Graves, both of whom looked disgusted. In a twinkling resentment and resolve cooled Bruce's blood, steadied his nerve, and squared his grim Scotch jaw. Tooker was at the pan, anxious to drive in a run. Bruce had sized this batter up while sitting on the bench, and he was sure he knew the kind of a ball Tooker could not hit safely. He pitched now with perfect control and clear-headed judg ment. Tooker missed, fouled, let two go by, and then missed again, having beell' fooled at last by a sudden change of pace and a slow drop when he expected speed. Still Tooker himself, the members of both teams, and most of the spec tators were disinclined to give Bill Bruce the credit, thinking it more of an accident than any thing else. "Never mind that," cried Pope from the coaching-line. "It'll never happen again. Come on, Wetherbee-come on I Get off that hassock. Ferg will score you."


BRUCE IN THE BOX 13 Ferguson meant to do it, and he picked out the second ball handed up by Bruce. It looked good; but, to the batter's dismay, he simply lifted a weak little pop which the pitcher took with out moving from his tracks. Two men were out, and Harvard perked up wonderfully. Nevertheless, they still believed that it was sheer luck, and that the lightning which, contrary to the hoary adage, had struck twice in the same place, surely could not be in voked by prayer to reduplicate the miracle. Powell, palpitant to win his own game, would hit; and if he placed the ball safely and well, ffi:o runners would cross the plate. Bowers, squatting, gave the signal. Bruce, for the first time, shook his head; and the catcher reluctantly called for another ball. It came whistling with a slight in-swerve across the ter's shoulders, and Powell's bat found nothing but empty air. "Str-r-rike I called the umpire. "Look out-look out for those, Nickl" cried Hopkins from the line between second and third. "Make 'em be good." Powell let the next one pass. It was a ball. Then followed a slow one, delivered with a swing and snap that fooled the batter into striking fore the tantalizingly lingering ball was within reach. Powell grimaced and regained his balance, irritated by the knowledge that he had made


14 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD himself ridiculous and by a low chuckle from behind the wires that meshed Bowers' face. Again the suspense was nerve racking. Again a hush settled over the field and the stands. The cheerers of both sides gathered breath, hopeful that in another moment they would be splitting their throats with joy. Even the coachers seemed to find their tongues hampered by a leaden gag. A swallow skimmed across the diamond. Bill Bruce, watched by a thousand eyes, moistened his fingers, kicked a pebble from be neath his feet, and once more shook his head as Bowers signaled : Then he nodded, and his long right arm swung flail-like through the air. The ball was high it looked too high, at first. But suddenly it shot downward past Powell's shoulders, and at an angle across his breast. The batter saw it drop, and weakly tried to hit when it was too late With a plunk, the ball settled into the beaten pocket of Bowers' big mitt, and every loyal Harvard fan howled himself black in the face.


CHAPTER III A DUEL ON THE DIAMOND Goon work, Bill I ctied Macomber heartily, as the freshman reached the bench. I knew you would do it." "Did you?" said Bruce dryly. "Well, I guess you were the only one." Captain Whitney wiped the perspiration from his face with his shirt-sleeve. "That was a relief," he confessed. "They had us on the anxious seat. A clean single would have been ruinous Think you can hold them, Bill? "I can try," was the modest answer; and it was notable that the freshman made no reference to the poor support that had placed him in the hole from which he had pulled himself by his own judgment and skill. Harold Kemp, his blanket draped about his shoulders, had nothing to say; but there was a shadowy sneer hovering at the corners of his mouth as he regarded Bruce slantwise with his mismated eyes. Besides jealousy, there was in that look the intolerant disdain which Kemp had always entertained for this raw countryman, with whom he was forced to associate on the team, IS


16 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD but whom he had never recognized elsewhere by so much as the blinking of an eye. Under no circumstances did Harold ever forget that he was the son of J. Edwin Kemp, of "Kemp & Bradburn, Brokers," New York; and this had seemed quite satisfactory to him until some time spent in Cambridge taught him that the Boston aristocracy looked behind the dollars in a family, demanding blood as well as boodle. Kemp's particular chum on the team was Stanwood Hastings, the scion of an old Boston family, with a lineage running back to Plymouth Rock, a home on Beacon Street, and a fortune made in copper bought at fourteen and sold at nine hundred. Harold was proud of his friendly footing with Stan and his people, for here was a family with pedigree as well as pelf; and the New Yorker who gets the privilege of freely wiping his feet on the door-mat of such a Boston home may well think himself favored of the gods. It was Hastings' turn at the bat, and, as he chose his "wagon-tongue" from the carefully laid out row, he gave Kemp a look of disheart ened sympathy and dejectedly shook his head in a manner that plainly bespoke his hopelessness. Then he stepped up and hit a weak grounder to third, being thrown out with ease and without haste. Whitney besought Abbott to "do something," but the best "Abbie could do was to drop a little fly into the yearning paws of Ferguson.


A DUEL ON THE DIAMOND 17 "Come on, Bruce; you're up," called Whitney, and the startled freshman seized a bat and stepped forth. Over in front of the Harvard stand, the leader of the cheerers caught up his big mega phone, gave a command through it, dumped it to the ground, and wildly waved his arms. The first cheer for Bruce was hurled lustily across the field, and Bill proceeded to strike out in a disgraceful manner by swiping blindly at three wide ones. Harold Kemp laughed outright, and nothing better could have happened for Bill Bruce just then. That contemptuous laugh again aroused the freshman's Scotch fighting blood, and put him on his mettle. He knew what Kemp thought, and he resolved to show the sneering fellow that he was mistaken. The pitching of Bruce in the seventh inning swept the scales from many a skeptical eye. He had speed when he wanted it, he had elusive curves, he had a baffling change of pace; but, best of all, he had perfect control and clear headed intuitive judgment. He seemed to divine precisely the sort of ball the batter expected him to deliver, and then he gave the batter something surprisingly different. McRae, the tail-ender on the list, was almost too easy. He did not touch the ball once, and }\e missed Bill's last bender by more than a foot. Then came Graydon, who fouled twice, but failed


18 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD to graze a speedy shoot that actually seemed to dodge the bat. And now Bruce found himself up against the real thing; for the next hitter was Watkins W atkins the terror. This was the real test of the stuff that was in him, and he knew that nine out of ten spectators were certain that the famous Yale batter would hit safely. Those spectators saw a splendid battle of wits; for Watkins was one of those rare batters whq have a way of fooling pitchers who try to fool them. He had no weaknesses with the stick; but he often led pitchers to believe that such was not the case, and just when one fancied that he had discovered Watkins' vulnerable point the Yale man would undeceive him by cracking out a stinging, well-placed drive that was generally good for two sacks or more. Watkins had an eye, too; he would not go after a ball that was not over the plate. In tight places the pitchers who knew him best per mitted him to walk when possible to do so with out forcing a run. But now the bases were empty; and Bill Bruce, gaunt and grim-jawed, welcomed the test without a tremor. The first ball was a trifle too close, and Watkins let it pass without suffering a penalty. The next, delivered with a long side-swing, came over at an odd angle; and the batter fouled it, which cost him a strike and put Bruce on even terms. The pitcher did not accept the catcher's first


A DUEL ON THE DIAMOND 19 signal following this, but forced Bowers to change. Then he tried an underhand rise that was productive of another foul, and Bruce had a shade the best of the argument. This advantage did not last long, however, as the Yale man re fused to look at a coaxer; which evened things once more. Bruce worked deliberately and coolly, yet without any great waste of time. While he de clined to hurry, there was no real reason to com plain of delay on his part. His perfect control enabled him to bend the ball over the rubber from any angle; and foul followed foul with nerve-trying, heart-testing regularity. The spectators realized at last that they were watching a magnificent duel; yet the most of them believed that there could be but one termi nation. Watkins was "spoiling the good ones," and he would tire Bruce in the end. The fresh man would weary or lose heart, and the Yale man would triumph. Three balls had been called; but the struggle continued. There were no men on bases, and therefore there was no coaching. Nor was there any cheering. With each swing of the pitcher's long arm, Watkins swung the bat; and the ball caromed off in a foul. The end came at last, and suddenly. Many thought that Bruce had exhausted his tricks of delivery, but they were mistaken. With his toe on one end of the slab, he stepped straight out


20 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD to one side with the other foot, and brought his arm over. The ball left his fingers at the mo ment when his hand seemed to be extended at full reach above his head. Apparently, it was not a curve he threw; but from his extended hand the ball shot downward on a slant, to cross the outside corner of the plate. Watkins struck at it with a sharp, vicious snap-and missed 1


CHAPTER IV GOOD OLD BILL I DIDN'T think he had it in him," said Hastings, reaching the bench and seating himself beside Kemp while the Harvard cheering still rolled joyously across the field. If he can keep it up he 's--" Look at the big duffer I muttered Harold, sick with jealous envy as Bruce, beet-red and suddenly self-conscious, awkwardly touched his cap in acknowledgment of the splendid salute given him by the Harvard stand. "He thinks himself the whole show now." Captain Whitney walked in with the freshman, speaking a few words of not too ardent praise One or two of the other players flung Bill con gratulations, but as yet none of them was inclined to be demonstrative. He's a better man than I thought," said Hastings honestly That was great pitching, Hal. A man who strikes out Watkins has a right to feel a bit chesty." "I struck him out twice," reminded Kemp sourly. I know you did, old fell ow. You pitched a great game up to the fifth." 21


22 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD And then got benched because of rotten sup port." "It was hard luck; but I suppose Whitney thought he had to do something to break Yale's streak. Both Macomber and Graves were calling for a change." "Whitney lacks backbone," declared Kemp bitterly. I'm jolly good and raw over this business, and I've got a right to be. I'm in prime form to-day, and I could have won this game hands down-with any kind of backing. Wonder what your sister thinks about it? She's up there in the stand, and she knows the game." "No girl living knows it better," nodded Stan. Agnes is a thorough baseball crank, and she never misses a point. Really she cares more about the game than I do." You can imagine how I feel to be benched in this humiliating manner, with her looking on. Somebody's going to hear something from me after this. Yale will win-mark my word. We can't hit Powell. There goes Cameron now!" Cameron had hit into the diamond, and was thrown out long before he could sprint to first. Bowers followed with a high foul that Hopkins smothered, and a few moments later Mumford put up an easy infield fly. The seventh inning ended with the score still tied. While the two teams were changing positions,


"GOOD OLD BILL 23 the Yale crowd sang Boola in a lusty manner that spoke of unwavering confidence. They seemed to fancy the bird of victory hovering ready to perch upon their banner. "Well, well, we've fooled long enough, boys," called Hopkins, as little Pope pawed the bats over in search of his own handle-wound swat stick." "Start us off, Jimmy." Jimmy grinned, danced out to the pan, and basted the second ball pitched by Bruce. It was a hissing liner, sent smoking-hot straight at Abbott. Poor Abbott! Already his cup of sweetness had turned bitter, and he now quaffed it to the dregs. The ball bounded from his hands. He made a dive for it, caught it up, juggled it, dropped it, chased it, and booted it clean across the diamond. But for the promptness of Bruce in getting after the ball, Pope might have taken second on what should have been an out. Head hanging, face like fire, the luckless Harvard short-stop returned to his position. Already the coachers were on their lines, chat ting away exultantly in a manner calculated more to disturb Bruce than to instruct the runner. Wetherbee, who followed Pope, was at the pan, ready for business. It looked like Yale's oppor tunity to break the tie and get a lead that would settle the game. Pope took a chance on the first ball pitched to Wetherbee. Down the line to second he


24 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD scudded, as though his life depended on it. He knew the power and accuracy of Joe Bowers' wonderful wing, and he threw himself headlong in a diving slide for the sack. The ball came straight as a bullet into the hands of M-qmford, but in his haste to tag the sliding man Mumford dropped it. Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, Harold Kemp unconsciously hugged himself, whispering the satisfaction it would have been traitorous to speak aloud. "It's all off now! The freshman will go to pieces." But Bruce declined to go to 12ieces, despite the feverish coaching, the frantic cheering, and the fantastic capering of Pope seeking to provoke a wild throw to second. U nruffied as a moun tain-sheltered summer lake, he struck out Wetherbee. Seeming to have forgotten Pope, he sud denly snapped the ball to Abbott, who had cov ered second; and Jimmy paid dearly for his dancing, Abbie getting him off the sack by a foot. Then, while Harvard howled and waved the crimson pennants, Bill took Captain Hopkins himself in hand, and made the Yale leader look like a grammar-school boy batter, :finally fooling Hop by catching him off his guard and putting a straight sizzler over the heart of the pan for the third strike. A yell went up from the crimson-crested stand. What's the matter with Bill? demanded one section of the stand.


"GOOD OLD BILL" Wha-a-at Bill? stentorianly questioned another section. Bill Bruce I was the answer. Upon which the entire stand united m one great roar: He's-all-rig ht/" The odds on the game had changed. Harvard stock was up many points, while Yale had taken a great slump. As the excitement had begun to subside somewhat, not a few Yale men were heard asking one another about Bruce. Who was he-where from-who had ever heard of him? And how had Harvard chanced to get hold of him? The soul of Harold Kemp writhed within him as he saw Walter Whitney rush from third, take the freshman's arm, and come toward the bench, laughingly congratulating Bruce. There was no reserve in Whitney's manner now; he was proud of Bill Bruce, and he said so. Others of the team followed Walter's example in speaking out, and Kemp cursed beneath his breath. But the game was not yet over. With Powell betraying not a symptom of weakening, Harvard still yearned in vain for the needed run that would break the tie. It had become a pitchers' battle, in which, to finish the eighth, the Yale wizard took Harvard's three leading batters in hand and mercilessly mowed them down, Whitney being the only one who got a chance to try a sprint for first, which was brought to a termina tion by a line-throw from McRea that smashed


26 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD into Ferguson's mitt with the Crimson captain hopelessly stretching his legs twenty feet away. Greatly relieved, Yale barked joyfully. Harvard retorted with assurance, and both teams girded up their loins for the strain of the ninth inning. There was not a shadow of self-consciousness in the manner of Bruce as he opened up on Tooker. His face stony, his jaws locked, he whipped the ball over with skill and command that sent it twisting and shooting across the cor ners, and forced the batter to swing hopelessly to prevent the umpire calling strikes on him. Tooker was quickly benched, and the rangy Ferguson shared the same unhappy fate a few moments later. Shuddering spectators hugged themselves in ecstasies of delight or of disappoint ment. Lord, what pitching I they whispered. Powell was the last man up. After walloping the air twice, he made a bid for glory and the game by smashing the horsehide on the trade mark. The crash of the bat was followed by the spat of the ball as it was stopped in its bul let-like course by the outshot bare right hand of Bruce. Without wincing-although he afterward confessed that it nearly took his hand offBill tossed the ball on the ground and jogged toward the bench. It was Mumford-a detestably fresh" fel low with an odious cackling laugh-who slapped Kemp on the shoulder and shouted in his ear;


"GOOD OLD BILL" Say, Hal, isn't this a hair-lifter I What do you think of old Bill? Isn't he a bird?" Oh, yes, he's a bird I muttered the sore hearted man, longing to punch Mumford. With the exception of Mumford, the players were not inclined to be demons.trative now. They gathered, grim-faced, speaking in low tones and looking as though the crisis of a lifetime lay before them. Whitney spoke a word or two to Hastings as Stan picked out a bat. No one paid the slightest attention to the feverish cheering. Powell wore his accustomed air of supreme confidence in his own powers. Yale men in the stand were offering odds on an extra-inning game -with no takers. Hastings was plainly nervous as he stepped out to the plate. Looking-up toward a certain section of the Crimson stand, he caught the flutter of a white handkerchief in the hand of his sister, who was sitting there with her chum, Marion Mayhew. Then he pounded one of Powell's in-shoots, and the ball nearly broke McRea's shins. Before the Yale fielder could recover and get the sphere for a throw, Stan was hopelessly close to first, and Hopkins yelled: "Hold it!" The Harvard stand howled madly. Coachers bobbed up on the lines. Whitney seized Abbott by the shoulders and hissed something into his ear as Abbie was getting his bat. Powell smiled. Abbott, following instructions, dumped the first


. 28 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD pitched ball down in front of the pan, dying gallantly in the sacrifice that landed Hastings securely on second. Who was the next batter? It was Bruce who stepped out awkwardly, with a Louisville slugger" in his hand and a fight ing frown on his face. All right, Nick," called Hop kins. You know this man. He's easy." Powell nodded, and then drove Hastings back to second; for the Harvard runner was taking a daring lead toward third, ready to try for a score on any kind of a hit. Hastings would not be intimidated, persisting in taking all the dis tance possible There was a lull, and a Harvard rooter with a lusty voice yelled: "Win your own game, Bill I Good old Bill I" The first ball was not over. Bruce missed the second and failed to swing at the third, which clipped a corner and was declared a strike by the umpire. "He's a snap Nick old man" chuckled Pope. "Fan him." Still Hastings crouched on the line, muscles taut, every sense alert, ready to dash if the chance came, but holding no real hope that it could come through Bruce. Powell took his time, cool, calculating, confi dent. Bruce flashed one quick glance at an opening toward right field between Ferguson


"GOOD OLD BILL" and Graydon. A clean single sent through that opening would do the business, if Hastings kept his feet and his courage. The ball came, piping-hot, from Powell's fingers. Bill planted his bat squarely against it and drove it skimming along the ground through that opening, having placed his hit with the skill of a Keeler. Bedlam followed. The Harvard stand up heaved with a wild roar, men and women leap ing to their feet. Hastings tore over third and turned toward the plate. Wetherbee, in the right garden, had secured the ball at last. He made a desperate throw to the pan to cut off that fatal run; but, with the speed of a mettled racer, Hastings hit the high places and ended with a dust-lifting slide that left him lying with his hand on the rubber as Hopkins reached to tag him. In that uproar no one heard the umpire shout, Safe I" But his gesture could not be mistaken, and the Crimson rooters went raving, howling, blithering mad. Bill Bruce had "won his own game," and henceforth his name was to stand deeply chiseled on the tablet for baseball heroes in Harvard's athletic hall of fame.


CHAPTER V A PAIR OF DARK EYES BRUCE knew the next turn on the programme, and he did not stop to get his sweater from the bench as the crowd came pouring upon the field like a flood after a cloudburst. Setting his course for the Locker Building, the lanky freshman per mitted no grass to grow beneath his feet. The frenzied Harvard men who would have lifted him upon their shoulders looked for him with out avail. The band .assembled in front of the stand and prepared hurriedly for business. By the time the musicians were ready to strike up, the under graduates had formed, eight or ten abreast; and the snake-dance began, to the lively strains of "Our Director." Around the diamond went that wildly rejoicing army of students, weaving from side to side in the fantastic dance of victory, like a monster serpent writhing on its course. Crimson banners waved, hats were flung high in the air, and it seemed that the very dome of heaven would be cracked by the cheers hurled up to it. In the stands people stood and waved their banners. In front of the Yale section the Harvard men paused to cheer the Elis, and the lads 30


A PAIR OF DARK EYES 31 from New Haven retorted like true sports and royal good losers. After this exchange of courte sies, the band boomed on again, and the proces sion headed for the gate. It was a grand triumphal march up the street to Harvard Square. All along the way the houses and shops were decorated with crimson. Doors and windows were filled by tradespeople and pretty girls who laughed and shouted and waved their flags. The marching students had taken up the air of '' Our Director," and were whistling it as one man while they trudged along. The people who lined the sidewalks waved and cheered and rejoiced, as they might have done over the winning of a great battle that had pre served the life of the nation. On from the Square into the Yard, and through to Harvard Hall, went the procession. In front of that building it halted. The windows above were open, and in them appeared a number of the professors, smiling down with well-satisfied benignity upon the swarming students below. The leader of the senior class mounted the steps and called for cheers for all the ball-players, the subs, the coachers, and--'' One final rousing cheer for Bill Bruce-Good old Bill! Already they were growing hoarse from their voice-paralyzing efforts, but the answer to that call seemed to make the old Tree shudder. The response might have delighted a Dewey back


32 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD from Manila Bay, or a Sampson fresh from Santiago. The procession moved again, marching round the Yard and calling the score of the game beneath the windows of the buildings. Out of those windows hung wild-eyed, red-faced, howl ing students, some pounding pieces of board together, some beating brass fenders, and some hammering on tin pans or pails. Everyone was making a noise, and the racket was deafening. On the outskirts of the crowd lingered two girls who had followed the joyous parade from Soldiers' Field. One of these girls, Agnes ings-a slender, vivacious brunette, with fine dark eyes and cheeks to match the Harvard banner she carried-was afire with the enthusiasm and elation of the moment; but her companion, Marion Mayhew-a tall, willowy blonde-had lost her flag and also much of her interest, judging from the wearied and somewhat bored expression on her face. Isn't it fine I" exclaimed Agnes, for the hun dredth time. "What wouldn't I give to be a man-a Harvard man-to-day I But the next best thing is to be the sister of a Harvard man who plays on the varsity nine." "Oh, yes," agreed Marion languidly. "That explains your great interest in baseball; but give me a football game any day-I can understand that. Half the time I can't make out what is


"One final rousing cheer for Bill BruceGood old Bill


A PAIR OF DARK EYES 33 happening in a baseball game. But I do know they were just horrid when they stopped Harold -Mr. Kemp-from pitching, and put that dreadfully uncouth long-armed fellow in his place. I presume Mr. Kemp was perfectly dis gusted; for I haven't caught sight of him since the game ended, and all the other players are here being cheered and honored." All the others, except that uncouth long armed fell ow,' who saved the game by taking Mr. Kemp's place when he went to pieces," said Agnes. I haven't seen anything of him, and I wonder what has become of him. But for him, Marion, Yale would have won. He's a great pitcher. He's a dandy!" Marion shrugged her shoulders and gave her crimson parasol a twirl. He can't be better than Mr. Kemp," was her promptly expressed opm10n. I heard several people say he was nothing but a raw freshman, and lacking in ex perience." I fancy," said Agnes, those wise people have changed their minds by this time. He showed them all that he was not as raw as he looked; and if I know anything about baseball he's the man who is qualified to fill the shoes of Bob Downing, the greatest pitcher Harvard ever produced." Oh, I don't see how you can say that, when everybody reckons on Mr. Kemp as the one to


34 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD take Bob Downing's place. Mr. Kemp himself told me--" That he was the real thing? That's Hal," said the dark-eyed girl, with a laugh. Oh, I know him pretty well; for isn't he Stan's chum? He holds no mean opinion of himself and his abilities." You wouldn't like him to hear you speaking of him that way." "Itwouldn't be the first time. I've told him frankly that I consider him the most conceited man I've ever met." "It isn't conceit. He's handsome and talented, and-and rich." Don't blame him for that," said Agnes quickly. Every fellow can't have the good fortune to be born poor." Marion gasped, but recovered herself immedi ately; for this was like her friend, whose only worldly pride seemed to lie in her assured de scent from old Puritan stock. There was, however, very little ot the Puritan about Agnes. In spite of birth and breeding, in spite of environment and education, her pet aver sion was a blue-stocking"; and up to date she had stubbornly declined to read Browning. Judging from her looks, and her disregard for form and fuss, she should have come from some where south of Wilmington-Baltimore, for first choice; but, from the moment she opened her laughing lips to converse and hit the broad a"


A PAIR OF DARK EYES 35 full and fair, all doubt was dispelled; for only a Bostonian to the manner trained and of the elect ever spoke like that. The racket and cheering in the Yard was at the highest pitch when the sharp eyes of Agnes espied two men who were slipping quickly past the outer eddies of the human whirlpool. In another moment her hand was on the sleeve of the slight, solemn, bespectacled man, and she was saymg: "Mr. Gould, I am surprised to see you are not taking part in the celebrating. Have you no college spirit, or are you too old and dignified to show enthusiasm?" Off came the hat of Asa Gould, familiarly known as "The Philosopher"; and a faint smile augmented the tiny wrinkles which crept out toward his temples from beneath the thick lenses of his spectacles. I may look like a dead one, Miss Hastings," he wheezed huskily, but I haven't engaged my coffin yet. If I could borrow a good healthy voice for a while, I'd get out there and bark my head off with the rest of the bunch. But I'm hoping I've already perpetrated permanent injury on my vocal cords, for then I can go through life explaining proudly to all in quiries that I did it the day old Bill Bruce walloped Yale to a whisper. By the way, have you ever met him? This is the man -this is Bruce himself Bill, my boy,


36 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD this is Miss Agnes Hastings. You know her brother." "I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Bruce," said Agnes, offering her hand. I've been look ing for you here in the Yard. All the other play ers are here, and I couldn't understand why the real hero was absent." In ordinary clothes Bruce seemed, if pos sible, even more awkward than in his baseball suit; and he blushed painfully at the touch of her gloved fingers. But he had a good, strong manly face; and, despite his embarrassment, his brown eyes looked straight into the admiring eyes of the girl. You g-give me too much credit, Miss Hast ings," he said, with a slight stammer. "I was rather lucky." Was it luck when you struck out Tooker, Powell, McRae, Graydon, and the great Watkins? Was it luck when, after two horrible errors behind you in the eighth, you caught a runner off second and then fanned the next two batters? Was it luck when you laced out that splendid 'hit in the last inning and drove in the winning run? If that was all luck, Mr. Bruce, then there is nothing like skill in baseball, and I shall take no further interest in the game. It was your grand pitching and your timely hit that gave Harvard the game, as you must know; and you should be ashamed of yourself for call ing it luck! There!"


A PAIR OF DARK EYES 37 Bill caught his breath, and the Philosopher chuckled softly. The flush of enthusiasm in Agnes' cheeks made her charming; the tall fresh man thought her the prettiest girl he had ever seen. "That closes the case," said Gould, "and de cision is rendered in favor of the plaintiff. The trouble with William, Miss Hastings, is that he has a malignant attack of ingrowing modesty. He has yet to learn that the good bluffer dines at the first table, while the modest fellow takes leavings at the second." Agnes now bethought herself to present Marion, who bowed graciously to Gould, but gave Bruce a rather freezing nod. I am inclined to think, myself," she ob served, that there is a great deal of luck in baseball. Look what happened after they were mean enough to stop Mr. Kemp from pitching. The next batter hit the ball, didn't he? But he hit it right at somebody, and they got the whole side out in a flash. Wasn't that luck?" "It looked like good luck for me," nodded Bruce. "It might have happened if Mr. Kemp had stayed in," said Marion, and then there would have been no need to change pitchers." "Just what I told Gould," said the modest freshman. Fie-fie I murmured the Philosopher. "Also piff I What might have been never could


38 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD have been, the testimony of Maud Muller not withstanding. As a pitcher Kemp is generally reliable, but he stepped aboard the airship in the fifth inning to-day; and but for Bruce the game would have gone to the bow-wows." "Oh, here is Mr. Kemp himself, Agnes-and Stan, too! cried Marion delightedly. Having seen the girls, Kemp and Hastings approached. Stan spoke to both Gould and Bruce, but Harold seemed to have eyes only for the fair ones of the quartet. "Where have you been, Bruce?" asked Hastings. Everyone is calling for you. Don't be selfish. Give the gang a chance to do a little hero-worshiping." Once more Bill took alarm. I wouldn't face that crowd for a thousand dollars," he declared. Back to the pastures for me." But he hesitated long enough to see Kemp take possession of Agnes in his polite and mas terly manner, leading her away, with Stan and Marion following. As she departed, however, the dark-haired girl turned to give him a nod and a smile. And that night, while Harvard painted Bos ton carmine, Bruce dreamed of baseball and a pair of bewitching dark eyes.


CHAPTER VI SORELY HIT HAVING passed a disagreeable and restless night, Harold Kemp slept late the following morning. The sun glared in at his window, and a slight breeze was stirring the lace curtains, when he awoke and was instantly seized by a feeling of dissatisfaction with himself and all the world. Kemp had a suite in Claverly-study, bed room, and bath-swagger enough to satisfy his luxurious taste, and yet distinctly inviting and comfortable. Costly Turkish rugs were on the floor; a window-seat was piled high with cushions; well-filled bookcases lined the walls; and the pictures of the various athletic teams were all handsomely framed. The bric-a-brac and ornaments were such as made the room dis tinctively that of a Harvard man. There were Harvard flags, crossed foils with boxing-gloves beneath them, dumb-bells, a smoking-table, and many pipe-racks holding all sorts of pipes-from the humblest brier to the delicately colored meer schaum, carved with Kemp's class numerals, which he had won in a raffle at Sanborn's in his freshman days. Of course, Kemp had supplied plenty of lazy 39


40 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD leather-covered Morris chairs; and, since he was a man who entertained, his tea-table was pro vided with a swinging brass pot and dainty china. Across a corner of the room stood a rosewood cased piano, the rack near it being piled high with music, which ranged, as the Philosopher had observed, "from the classical to the pro fane." But Kemp's standing as a college man was best attested by his shingles." These proud me mentoes told that he was a member of the most exclusive societies. At first Kemp wondered vaguely at the emo tion of dissatisfaction that seized upon him, as it was quite unusual under any circumstances for him to feel otherwise than wholly and completely content with himself. He yawned, stretched his long arms, and then frowned darkly at the little onyx clock on the dresser; for the hands indi cated that it was twelve minutes to nine, and he had missed breakfast at the training-table by nearly an hour. Despite the time, Harold felt that he might have slept still longer had he not been awakened by some unpleasant sound. Soon he was fully aroused by a repetition of that sound-a mingled grunt, grumble, and groan, prolonged into a despondent plaint, rising from the street in front of the hall. It was the never-to-be-forgotten voice of "Annie," Old John's donkey, which so often resounded dolefully through the Yard, up-


SORELY HIT 41 setting the gravity of classes and disturbing the dignity of professors. J oho himself called out a cheerful guttural good-marnin', fri'nd," and was answered lightly by someone who then went whistling on his way, piping "Our Director" with a clear shrillness that brought the climax of the Yale game vividly to Kemp's memory, and caused him to sit boltupright in bed. Maxim," growled Hal. Curse his whis tling! He's always at it." He arose, entered the bathroom, and turned on the tap. But even the bath and the clean shave that followed could not soothe his disturbed sp1nt. He found some perplexity in choosing a suit from his elaborate wardrobe, and was still meditating over a bewildering array of necktiesHal's scarfs were the wonder and envy of nearly everyone-when someone banged familiarly on his door, and Herbert Holbrook strolled in, pipe in mouth, followed by Babe Bates. I say, Hal, old fellow," cried Holbrook, "what happened to you last night? Haven't put eyes on you since the game. Weren't you to be an usher at the spread? "I believe so," answered Kemp indifferently, as he knotted his tie with deliberation, "but I don't suppose my absence checked the festivities." It dampened the pleasure of at least one radiant maiden," chuckled Bates. She wanted me to organize a search-party to unearth you.


42 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD You should have seen her; she was a perfect pastel-all blue filigree work and moonshiny lace from toe to topknot. And waltz-my boy, she doesn't waltz; she floats I She was the tran splendent star amid a group of scintillant satel lites that turned old Memorial into a soulentrancing--" Cut out the astronomy, Babe! interrupted Kemp, as he gave the carefully formed knot of his tie a final twist to make it look careless. I presume you are speaking of Miss Hastings? Dear, no I I mean her friend, Miss Mayhew, the tall and ravishing Juno with the blonde aurora. Miss Hastings was there, but she wasn't in it for a second with the resplendent Marion." "You have a prolific flow of adjectives," said Hal. "Of course the affair was a howling success-it always is." "Oh, sure," chirped Bates, his rosy cheeks aglow. "And I don't suppose you have for gotten that this is the day of days when the fair sex from the four corners of the earth will swoop down upon us, swarm through the Yard, capture Memorial Hall, and hold the fort until they are ejected by main force. This is Class Day, Hal, and the old trees are already gayly bedecked and festooned with a gorgeous array. of Chinese Ian terns." "And, as usual," complained Kemp, "it is going to be insufferably hot and beastly tire some. Class Day is a bore, and I swear I'm


SORELY HIT 43 in no mood to trot around through the humidity and be buttonholed and questioned to death by every dame who sees my usher's badge and wants to know something I don't know myself." "You're in a lovely mood this morning," ob served Holbrook, who had straddled a chair and now sat with his arms resting on the back. Overslept and missed your regular training table breakfast, I see. Well, now you can come out to the Holly Tree and eat some real food. You should have been with the braves when we captured Boston last night. We painted her beautifully, from the Lenox to the Parker House. Some of the warriors held a grand pow wow in the Touraine, and I myself participated in a howling scalp-dance at the Reynolds. It was perfectly lovely." Evidently you made a struggle to live up to your reputation, Chief," said Hal wearily. Holbrook, who had high cheek-bones, coarse dark hair, and a swarthy complexion, was familiarly known among his classmates and com panions as "The Indian" and "Big Chief"titles of honor acquired through an escapade of his freshman days, when he stole a cigar-store wooden Indian, which he kept in his room, deco rated in Navajo blankets, through an entire term. Although a quiet, peaceable person under ordi nary circumstances, Holbrook was known to be a bad man when aroused, and the discreet were not inclined to provoke him to anger.


44 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD "It is the duty of every man to sustain his reputation with zeal," retorted Holbrook gravely. You have yours to sustain, Kemp; and you can't afford to let an unknown freshman snatch any feathers from your war-bonnet." At this thrust Hal flushed angrily, and a bit of green glinted in his gray eye, while his mouth curved in a "I'm not worrying about that," he asserted promptly. Things broke badly for me in the game yesterday; but any man of sense could see it was in my support at a critical point, and not in my pitching. The freshman is welcome to all the glory he captured. I'll square myself at New Haven next week." "That's the talk," piped Bates, seating him self at the piano and giving the keys a bang. "All this fanfare over Bill Bruce is rot. He's good for a greenhorn, but you must undeceive the silly chumps who have formed the egregiously erroneous opinion that he is a better man than you." I'm not troubling myself over anyone who is fool enough to think that," scoffed Kemp, with a disagreeable laugh. Don't torture the piano, Bates; you give me a headache." The door was gently pushed open, and the Philosopher, morning newspaper in hand, wan dered in. "Morning, fellows," he murmured, squinting over his thick spectacles. How doth the busy


SORELY HIT 45 little bee?' The shining hours' are passing, you know. Have you seen the N ews1 Kemp? I haven't had an opportunity to see even a fried egg and a corn-roll this morning," was Harold's irritated answer. In his heart he secretly disliked Gould, although at the same time he entertained a queer respect for the fellow. No breakfast? said Asa, m surp nse. "Then, don't let me detain you, for a man's very soul limps unless his body is properly sus tained by the staff of life. Here's my paper. y OU should read vVebb's report of the game. He seems to think that in Bruce Harvard has found a great pitcher at a time of desperate need. Any how, that's what he says." Again Kemp flushed, shrugging his shoulders and disdaining the proffered paper. Webb is a knowing ass," he sneered. I don't care much for his baseball truck. He never had a good word for me. I shall read the report in the Mercury." But the Mercury man also has a stiff puff for Bruce." Kemp glared at Gould. "I you agree with those sapient minds? I noticed you in proud association with that pauper freshman after the game yesterday. Queer how ready some fellows are to take up with any common skate if he hap pens to win a little notoriety at baseball or football."


46 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD The Philosopher regarded Hal with an air of mild remonstrance and reproof. Envy disguised as disdain is the token of a narrow soul," he said quietly. Don t scoff at a man because of his humble circumstances, old man. Bruce seems like a decent fellow, even if he has not been as fortunate as some others." He's grinding through college on charity. Why, he couldn't afford to pay the difference be tween the cost of his ordinary cheap board and the training-table fare. You ought to know he has been assisted in that." Which is no unusual thing. He didn't ask it, and I doubt if he knows he has received such 'assistance It was arranged without consulting him." Which makes him no less a receiver of charity," said Hal, getting his hat. "If you fellows want to lounge here, make yourselves at home." But they took his broad hint and left at once, the Philosopher being the first to get out. Confounded annoying prig I said Hal, as the door closed behind Gould. Neither Holbrook nor Bates had any com ment to make, although the latter grinned in a silly fashion as he departed. Unspeakably upset, and angry to the core, Kemp paused to tear the baseball band from his hat and fling it disdainfully on the floor.


CHAPTER VII THE CUD OF BITTERNESS KEMP might have breakfasted in one of the clubs to which he belonged; but he knew that he would be likely to meet familiars there, and just now he was in no mood to talk with anybody. Therefore he walked grimly up Mount Auburn Street and over to "Rammy's," a place seldom fre quented by the members of his particular set. In this way he avoided encountering the invaders who were already beginning to swarm into the Yard. It was nearing the hour for the dull, soporific exercises at Sanders Theater to begin; but, being merely a junior, he thanked fortune that he was not supposed to take even a remote interest in them. But even at Rammy's he was not wholly to escape annoyance. Two weary freshmen were seeking to appease the indefinable desires of their rebellious stomachs by heroically spooning down soft-boiled eggs, the while they told each other what a devil of a night they had passed through. One of them mentioned Bruce, and immediately both nearly blew up with enthusiasm and pride. This was little short of revolting to Hal, who 47


48 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD hastened to swallow his coffee and a portion of the food he had ordered, paid his check, and got out, leaving the callow cubs still rhapsodizing over the brilliant baseball accomplishments and sudden glory of their classmate. Where to go was a question that now troubled the disturbed and disgruntled lad. The turmoil of this overcrowded day he would have heartily welcomed, but for the mortifying memory of that frightful fifth inning when Fate had handed him a solar-plexus jolt. As the laurel-crowned hero of the varsity nine, he would have accepted with a politely bored expression and secret inward delight the homage that must have fallen to him; but now he felt that his laurels had been pilfered by another, who, of humble birth and rustic breeding, must wear them, at his best, with the air of a clown. While pretending to despise it, in his secret heart Kemp loved adulation; and this was the day on which his fancy had pictured himself pointed out by his classmates, and by others who happened to recognize him as Harvard's great pitcher. Often had he conjured up a pleasant vision of pretty girls in groups, who whispered his name as he passed and who gazed after his handsome presence in a flutter of worshipful awe. He had imagined old grads nudging one another and saying in low tones, There's Kemp -a wizard-old Bob Downing's equal." And all the while he would carry himself with an


THE CUD OF BITTERNESS 49 atmosphere of total unconsciousness and modest indifference to his own greatness and fame. Thinking of what he had missed, and unjustly blaming Bruce for the loss, he found himself again on Mount Auburn Street, chewing the cud of bitterness as he beat a retreat toward Claverly. He had taken off his usher's badge and thrust it from view into a pocket. On the way he had to pass one of his clubs, and he saw with mingled surprise and relief that at this hour there were no idlers on the piazza. The place seemed to beckon to him, and he suddenly decided to go in. There were a few men inside, and Harold nodded a bit distantly to one or two as he made his way to the library, eagerly yet apprehensively found a News, chose a leather-covered chair in a secluded corner, and sat down to read Webb's report of the game. In less than two minutes he was white with rage; for Webb made no bones of saying that Yale's success in batting Kemp out of the box had proved to be a good thing for Harvard, who had thus been forced to use Bruce and had found in the freshman a pitcher who was m every way Kemp's superior. The discomfited junior was aroused by the voice of Twiddy Traddles, who came loafing up, a cigarette in his mouth and a genial smile on his silly face. "Just reading about it?" chirped Twiddy. Great old game, wasn't it? We twisted the


50 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD bulldog's tail, eh? What do the newspapers have to say about it? I never can find time to read the papers, you know." Tweed Traddles was a well-meaning little person, an annoying bore, a general butt of ridi cule; but a fellow at whom it was useless to swear, for he was sure to accept it as a joke, and nothing one could say was sufficient to squelch him. If you want to know what the papers say, you'll have to find time to read them, for all of me," growled Hal, dropping the News. Twiddy removed the cigarette from his mouth and whistled softly, at the same time elevating his thin eyebrows a bit. Stung I he cried cheerfully. Didn't real ize I was getting on your corns, old man." Kemp shrugged his fine shoulders as he arose and turned away. In the lounging-room he en countered Hastings, who had just come in. Had it been possible, he would have avoided even Stan; but there was no escape. "Where the dickens have you been, old man?" questioned Hastings. "You weren't at break fast. Just came from your rooms-been looking for you." Got glued to the mattress," explained Kemp, forcing an apology for a smile. When I tore myself loose it was too late for breakfast." But I didn't see you at the hop last night, and I fancied you turned in early to pound your


THE CUD OF BITTERNESS 51 ear. Of course, I knew you weren't with the rabble over in town." I did retire at a beastly decorous hour, but it didn't prove especially beneficial in the way of rest and recuperation. Can't seem to form the prosaic habit of sleeping well in the early hours of the night, you know." Hastings was too discerning not to get an ink ling of the truth. "You're not looking well," he said. The strain of too much slab-work is telling on you. It's a good thing we've found a man who is capable of shouldering a share of the pitching in the hard games." Oh, hell I said Hal. "You shouldn't take it that way," protested Stan. You have played baseball too much not to know that the best pitchers are bound to get their bumps at times." "And you have played it enough to know where to place the blame for that bad streak yesterday. It takes the heart out of a man when he gets rotten backing in that sort of a game. But what disgusts me is the fact that everybody has got the idea that that farmer freshman is a phenomenon, when anybody with a lick of horse sense could see it was a lucky triple play that broke Yale's streak and kept her from putting the game on ice right then and there. Mightn't it have been the same if Whitney had kept me in?" "Of course it might," said Stan soothingly.


52 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD No one denies there was luck as well as skill in that triple. Still, to be fair, we've got to give Bruce credit for clever work after he settled down and struck his gait. He grew better every inning. Naturally he captured a lot of une x pected glory, for no one could believe he could hold down the Elis' best hitters the way he did. You can't wonder that his performance created a stir, and you shouldn't get disturbed over it." "I'm not," declared Kemp, although the words of his friend had caused him to writhe inwardly. "The farmer is nothing to me, off the field; but, as you say, he might help out in some of the games, and I hate to see him spoiled by a lot of > cheerful admiring idiots who are sure to swell his head with their gush." Well, let's forget it to-day. You're an usher, aren't you? You should do your duty like a hero. your badge? "I must have left it in my room. Think I'd better get it. See you later, Stan." Hastings was disposed to accompany Hal to Claverly; but Kemp shook him on the club steps and hurried away. More than ever was he averse to mingling with the crowd, where he must en counter persons who would insist on commenting upon the Yale game, a subject that had become positively obnoxious to him. Before long the name of Bill Bruce spoken in his hearing would be the matador's red flag flaunted before the eyes of the wounded and infuriated bull.


CHAPTER VIII THE BOUNDERS THE big spreads" were on; and Kemp thanked Heaven that, being only a junior, his time had not come to entertain a mob of tiresome relatives and friends; for in his present mo ad the task would have been nothing short of odious. In the seclusion of his rooms he smoked more than the one strong cigar allowed him by his coach and trainer; but tobacco, instead of having the de sired soothing effect, keyed his nerves to a painful tension and left him cursing his luck, baseball, his friends, Class Day, Cambridge, and pretty nearly the whole universe. He was finally found by Marion, who sailed in upon him, followed by her mother and Waldo Poort, the ponderous, fat-witted son of a Chicago pork-packer who had made a mint in canning" Poort's Pickled Pigs' Feet being the brand by which he had blazed his way to fortune. If there was one person in all the world more in tolerable to Kemp than Marion's mother, it was this same Waldo Poort, with 1 his dull, heavylidded eyes and his porcine profile, which, com bined with the public knowledge of his father's business, had won him the unenviable name of "Piggy." 53


54 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Mrs. Mayhew was a tall, angular, overdressed, and much-bejeweled woman, nearing the fifty mark, but battling fruitlessly, with the assistance of facial massage, rouge-pot, and hair-restorers, to give Father Time the lie. It was her oft-repeated and preposterously amusing declaration that, see ing them together, strangers invariably mistook herself and her daughter for sisters. The first time Babe Bates heard this statement from her lips, he snickered outright, but he managed to turn the inopportune explosion of merriment into a pretended sneeze, chokingly begging pardon and murmuring something about a cold in the head. The Mayhews were not Bostonians; they came from somewhere in the Middle West, where old Ben Mayhew, a plain, prosperous farmer and hog-raiser, had, after arriving at middle age, made a sudden staggering fortune in oil. May hew would have been content to enlarge and renovate the old homestead, with the intention of occupying it as his home for the remaind6r: of his days; but, yearning for social conquest and believing that the magic key of was all they needed, his wife and to bring pressure to bear upon him, so that he finally sold the old place an.d permitted himself to be lured, against his judgment, to the Athens of America: A fine house was purchased on Bay State Road; and, with their servants, their carriages, and a hundred other luxuries to which they were


THE BOUNDERS 55 unaccustomed, they settled to the siege. After three years of painful and discouraging searching with the golden key, they had failed to find a single aristocratic lock that it would fit. The one door that had opened to them was forced through the accidental and interesting meeting in Chicago, some years before, between Ben Mayhew and Hathaway Hastings. Mayhew was in the city to sell hogs; Hastings had come on to buy stocks. The latter was held up by footpads one night on La Salle Street. Happening to have an unusual amount of money in his clothes, he disdained a threatening pistol and started to put up a fight, at the same time shouting for help. He was promptly knocked down, and the ruffians were kicking and beating him into silence when a strong-armed stranger put in an appearance and routed them all; though, while hammering and hurling the scoundrels right and left, he received a nasty knife-jab in the shoulder. The rescuer was Mayhew. After the Mayhews came to Boston, Hastings' gratitude made him desirous of doing something for them; but it was some time before he suc ceeded in prevailing on his reserved and exclu sive wife to call upon and receive the would-be climbers. He did prevail at last; but Mrs. Hastings arbitrarily drew a line beyond which she would not go, positively declining to become the social sponsor of the unblushingly ambitious and hopelessly bourgeoise Mrs. Mayhew. How ..


56 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD ever, the two girls, Agnes and Marion, became fast friends; and it was through Agnes that Marion met Harold Kemp, the college chum of Stan Hastings. What do you mean by such conduct, Hal? demanded Marion, with mock severity, as she swept into the room, with her mother and Piggy behind her. Here you are, playing the hermit in your cave while everybody else is having a glorious time. I've been looking all over for you and questioning everybody I know, but I'd never have dreamed of finding you hived up here if Stan hadn't given me a hint. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, making us come here to get you out." Really you ought, you bad boy I declared Mrs. Mayhew, offering her hand and giving him the high wig-wag. Marion would come to look you up, and I was insuppressably morti fied when we encountered a lot of fellows racing through the corridor in a perfectly scandalous state of dishybill." Some chaps on the way to the swimming tank, Mrs. Mayhew," explained Kemp, giving Waldy a vengeful look. Poort should have told you, madam, of the danger of having your fine sensibilities shocked by such a spectacle." Huh I grunted Piggy. "Never thought of that. Why the deuce do a lot of fellows seem to enjoy slopping around in wet water? No one volunteered to enlighten him on this


THE BOUNDERS 57 perplexing point, and he relapsed into soggy silence. "I think, my dear Hal," said Marion's mother, lifting her lorgnette with a flourish, and survey ing her surroundings, "I think your rooms have a very distinctive atmosphere." "Thank you," said Kemp. "One might say a distingweed atmosphere," added the matron. One would know at a glance that their occupant must be a person of culture and refinement. Your ornaments and bricky brack indicate that you have the taste of a corner sore." Thank you," murmured Kemp once more, without the flutter of an eyelash, although he saw Marion's color heighten a bit. The girl hastened to suppress her mother tem porarily by urging her to rest in the easy-chair by the bay window, where she could not so readily monopolize the conversation. Hal found a chance to hiss in Poort's ear: Why the devil did you bring them here? "Huh?" grunted Waldy, in dull surprise. "Didn't. They brought me." We've just come from the Pudding spread," said Marion, returning. Really, there was an awful crush, and it was frightfully warm. I saw lots of fellows I know-Mr. Sinclare, Mr. Tait, Pierce Jarvis, Walter Whitney, and a dozen others. I was really worried because I hadn't seen you anywhere, Hal. I asked Pierce


58 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD if he imagined you could be ill, and he said he thought you were rather knocked out. He must be right, for you aren't looking a bit well.' Inwardly railing at the poor wit of Jarvis, which plainly had missed fire so far as Marion was concerned, Kemp assured her that he was in almost painful good health. "Then why in the world are you staying here alone? she asked. Everybody else is doing something." "Perhaps that is why I am not," was his weak subterfuge. I prefer not to be precisely like everybody else." "You weren't at the dance last night." Nothing puts a baseball man to the bad like dancing." But Walter Whitney and one or two others of the team were there." All seniors, of course. They feel so bad over leaving college soon that they don't care what happens to them." I missed you, Hal. You're such a delightful waltzer." Huh I exploded Piggy. Little chance you would have had, Kemp. Only got one two-step with her, myself." Declining to remain where she had been abandoned in the bay window, Mrs. Mayhew had hoisted anchor and was making a cruise of inspection around the room, watched uneasily by Kemp, who feared lest she might discover /


THE BOUNDERS 59 some picture or motto or ornament which would be a greater shock to her than the sight of those half-dressed youths sprinting for the swimming tank. She paused, however, in front o'f the book cases, and surveyed the array of volumes with evi dent wonder. Dear me I she said. Is it possible you have to learn everything there is in all these books before you can graduate, Hal? Why, you'll be a perfect dillytanty." Oh, no, Mrs. Mayhew; you'll perceive I have a liberal supply of fiction among my books, and that is intended for both ornament and di version." "Ah, fiction? murmured Mrs. Mayhew, reading the titles and the authors' names with the aid of her lorgnette. Then you have Jittery tastes? Marion is great on litterchewer. She's always reading the latest novels, and I myself am forming Jittery tastes I don't think I ever heard about any of the books you have here, Hal; you seem to have so many by the same authors, Dickens and Scott and Thack-er-Thackeray." You're not going to remain in seclusion all day, are you, Hal? asked Marion hastily, with her most fetching smile. Do come out with us. If you refuse, we'll settle down right here and keep you company the rest of the day." He was afraid she meant it, and he decided that the only way to get rid of them was to take them out and lose them somewhere in the crowd.


6o BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD So, with a sudden impulse, he seized his hat and betrayed a willingness to accompany them that was little short of eagerness. Mrs. Mayhew, examining the hand-carved frame of a picture, seemed loath to go. Really," she said, "this is the first restive place I've found to-day, and my feet are trou bling me extensively. I think I shall call in my shyropperdist to-morrow. This is a most beauti ful frame, Hal; the floru;.er-de-lees is very delicate and effective." "It's getting late, mother," said the girl. "The afternoon is slipping away. It is past three." "As late as that?" sighed Mrs. Mayhew. Gracious, how tempus does fugit/" Well satisfied over her success in getting Harold out, Marion rested her gloved hand on his arm, leaving her mother to the care of Poort, who accepted the task with stupid resignation, but not without a pang of jealousy" toward Kemp. Although Hal had eaten but one meal, and very little at that, he was not conscious of hunger. True, an unpleasant gnawing sensation disturbed him vaguely; but this he did not fancy was hunger. Now for the first time that day Hal saw the Yard thronged with visitors, the fair sex in such gay summer millinery that the eye was entranced and held spellbound. They were everywhere, on the betrodden grass, on the steps of Stoughton


THE BOUNDERS 61 and Hollis; and, lining, in a gorgeous varicolored border, the parapet of Matthews. There were elderly ladies, puffy old men, mid dle-aged ladies, and occasionally strange young men, almost invariably accompanying begowned seniors, whose relatives they were. There was the ceaseless yet irregular babble of voices, the tramp of feet, the rustle of skirts, and the rhythmical beat of a band discoursing music from some shady but still humidly oppressive spot. Hal knew that they were dancing in Memorial; and it seemed to him that, given a pretty and attractive partner, the average Harvard man would dance with unquestioned enjoyment in Hades. Kemp suspected that Marion entertained a well-hidden but none the less vicious design to drag him by seeming accident into the whirling vortex of dancers. He lifted his hat in response to the salutation of two men who passed on, and Marion was instantly agog. "Wasn't that tall, handsome fellow on the left Mr. Palgreave, the football player?" she asked. Yes, that was Tom Palgreave, captain of the varsity eleven; and the other chap was Dwight Morse, stroke of the crew." I adore football," declared the girl. Row ing is fine, too; but I never did like baseball, and I detest it since the shabby way you were treated in that game yesterday. Think of them


, 62 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD taking you out, to put in a person like that Bruce I" It had come at last, the thing he had hoped and prayed she would forget to mention. Why was it that everybody insisted on bringing up that, to him, unspeakably painful subject? As though conjured before them by the speak ing of his name, they simultaneously beheld Bill Bruce, dressed in his humble best, red as a Harvard banner, and surrounded by a galaxy of ad miring girls, among whom Agnes Hastings stood forth in pink-gowned prominence before Kemp's jealous eyes.


CHAPTER IX A DISAPPOINTING DAY ONE thing that had influenced Hal to yield so readily to the blandishments of Marion was his hope that he might chance upon Agnes during the stroll through the Yard; but now, having found her again in the company of the humble freshman from whom, seconded by her brother, he had snatched her not far from this same spot some twenty-four hours before, he felt himself ablaze with such wrath that he dared not trust himself to look again in her direction. Now it happened that the one thing Marion had feared was that they would encounter Agnes, and her heart leaped rebelliously into her throat at sight of her friend. She was not a little sur prised to note that Kemp had quickened his step and was hurrying straight on, apparently un aware of Agnes' proximity. Believing for the moment that he had not seen her, Marion also turned her head away and made no effort to check him. Marion-Marion! called the wheezing voice of her mother, don't scuttle along so fast. You are putting me horse de combat trying to keep in sight of you."


64 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Convinced at last that Hal really meant to ignore Agnes, and tingling with satisfaction be cause of it, Marion restrained him by a firm pressure on his arm. Still within view of the group that encompassed Bruce, they paused and waited for Mrs. Mayhew and Poort to come up. The matron was blowing heavily; Piggy was perspiring and purple. Gracious sakes I gasped Mrs. Mayhew. "You were walking with such acceleration that we could barely keep you in view." "That's right," growled Poort. "This is no sprinting match, Kemp, old man. It's too hot to hurry, you know." Hal muttered an apology, and they moved on more leisurely, Marion's cup of triumph being filled to overflowing by a side-shot glance which told her beyond question that they had been seen and were still watched by Agnes. They met Asa Gould and Wallace Price, who lifted their hats as they passed. Marion did not know Price, and she had formed a pronounced dislike for Gould; so she held her head high and overlooked them both. As for Hal, he had frequently failed to see Price when encountering the humble right-fielder of the nine elsewhere than on the ball-field; and, still feeling piqued at the Philosopher, he gave them a frozen phantom of a bow that was even more cutting than the cut direct. Bur-r-rrl" Price shivered grotesquely as the


A DISAPPOINTING DAY 65 two passed on their way. What do you think of that for a frosty one?" "A college-bred cad, like a college-bred fool, is the champion of his class," murmured Asa, unruffled. Somehow Kemp could devise no polite excuse that would enable him to make his escape after reaching the Yard. When he vaguely hinted at an empty stomach, Marion gushed about the spreads, and sought to drag him away to the nearest one, forcing him to protest that he had left his ticket at Claverly. Poort, catching the conversation, assured Hal that it would be all right-he would fix it; but Kemp had no relish for a late appearance at Beck or at the Hemenway Gymnasium, where he knew he could not fail to meet numerous acquaintances of both sexes, to whom he would be compelled to introduce the Mayhews, mother and daughter. Not that he would have been so tremendously averse on Marion's account; for really she was a strikingly handsome girl, and no more shallow and frivolous than most of the self-admiring society girls he knew; but her proletarian old bounder of a mother was alto gether too much, and he shuddered with horror at the thought of what might happen. And so they wandered around until the setting of the tide toward the Delta bore them thitherKemp unwilling, but helpless-to witness the ceremonies. As they passed in through the en-


66 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD trance, they found boys holding baskets of con fetti and many-colored streamers, from which everyone took a liberal supply. A little later they were packed in with a tier of people half way up the parapet of human beings that circled the arena, in which had gathered all the seniors, every man garbed in cap and gown. Still cynical and sour, Kemp took no part in the cheering for the President of the United States, the president of the college, the crew, the track team, the eleven, the nine, or the ladies. Nor did he join that grand chorus in singing Fair Harvard." No throb of patriotism stirred his cankered soul. Suddenly, at a signal, showers of confetti rained down from thousands of hands upon the assem bled seniors, burying them beneath a beautiful vari-colored snow-storm that filled the mirth laden air. Amid shouts and laughter, the stream ers of paper shot out from every side and from top to bottom of the human parapet, weaving into a cobweb pattern that fell upon the heads and shoulders of the begowned young men below. / It was a beautiful spectacle. As they were moving out with the crowd, Mrs. Mayhew tapped Kemp on the arm and observed loudly: "That was what I call a grand fine alley, Hal." Then and there he resolved to get away, if it took a leg. He fancied that everyone was staring at him and wondering if that jewel-


A DISAPPOINTING DAY 67 bedecked woman with the loud voice and un mistakably plebeian air were his mother. The smiles of the people around him were 'as dagger thrusts, and the sound of laughter rang hatefully in his burning ear ,s. Next," said Marion happily, keeping close at Hal's side, I think we should go to Beck. I've not forgotten you are hungry, Hal. Re freshments first, and then you must take us to the gym or to Memorial-of course you have tickets?" This was his chance. "I'll have to get my tickets," he said. "No, don't think of coming with me. Take them along to Beck, Poort, and wait for me there." He literally tore himself away, and nearly ran over Twiddy Traddles in his dash for the nearest gate. Twiddy shouted an inquiry as to the locality of the fire, but received no reply whatever; and Kemp was gone amid the crowd. At Beck they waited in vain for his return. Twilight came on and softened into a Japanese lantern-lighted night. Poort was sent to look for Kemp; but, on returning with the report that Hal was not in his rooms at Claverly, he dis covered that Marion had captured a careless freshman, and once more Piggy found himself burdened with the mother. He swore beneath his breath, and thrn apologized to Mrs. Mayhew for an asthmatic attack. They made their way to Memorial beneath


68 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD the soft glow of the lanterns which festooned the old elms. From a distance came the music of mandolins and banjos shot through at intervals with the shivery quiver of tambourines. The mandolin club was getting in its work somewhere. Marion was hungry and disappointed. She did not wish to dance with the ponderous Piggy, and her freshman did not have tickets. It was very ungentlemanly of Kemp, and she doubted if she would ever speak to him again. As she stood enviously watching the dancers, she espied Agnes on the arm of Walter Whitney. Instantly she was seized with a feeling of satis faction over the fact that Hal had seemed to forget Agnes for one day, at least. Agnes had seen them together in the Yard. If she saw neither of them again for the day, she might be led to think almost anything. At once Marion fell back and, to the disappointment of Poort, announced that she was tired and would go home,


CHAPTER X HAUNTING PHANTOMS GIVEN a thin skin and an overweening self esteem, anyone will experience periods, more or less protracted, of the utmost discomfort and wretchedness. But to this acute and exagger ated sense of ego add a bitterly jealous tendency, and the unfortunate wretch is certain to suffer at times such mental anguish as makes the physical torments of the Inquisition seem tame by com parison. As in the days of the wise king, pride goeth before a fall"; and Kemp had worn his plumes haughtily up to the hour of his undoing at the hands-or the bats-of the Elis. His sorest hurt, however, did not come from the regret over his failure to hold Yale down; but from thinking of the success of the man who had superseded him on the slab. He felt like Sir Kay, unhorsed and desperately wounded by the lout Beaumains at whom he had scoffed and sneered. While this wound was not one to be quickly healed by Doctor Time, Hal soon came to a realizing sense of the folly of attracting attention to it; and he went to some pains, of ten too obvious 69


70 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD to be adroit, to give the impression that he had not been hurt at all. With the passing of Class Day, he resumed his old methods and habits, grinding as little as might be-which was not much, as he had a happy faculty of "getting past" on an equip ment that would have landed any other fellow on probation in short order ;-and he was already safe on finals. The spell of seductive June was in his blood, and the only thing that aroused and awakened him to activity and real life was the necessity of keeping in practice and condition, and the determination to be in the very finest trim on the day when he should face Yale on her own field and proudly redeem himself. He did not doubt that he would be able to wipe out the memory of his misfortune on Sol diers' Field by the fine performance he would assuredly put up at New Haven. He worked regularly with Bowers each afternoon, receiving scarcely a word of suggestion or coaching. He also did the required amount of batting and position-fielding. Of course, he saw Bill Bruce, who was likewise faithfully on hand; but he gave the freshman no more notice than he would have bestowed on an uninteresting mongrel that had chanced to stray across his path. Friends and flatterers, of whom he had not a few, told him what they knew he would do in the New Haven game. For a time he believed that they spoke prophetically, and, soothe

HAUNTING PHANTOMS 71 vainglorious dreams, brought his disturbed spirit back to its usual condition of haughty com placency. As the day approached, however, he became gradually aware of a vague, indefinable uneasi ness and apprehension. At first he sought to escape from this unpleasant thing by refusing to recognize its existence. He developed a re markable nervous activity and an astonishingly unnatural desire for companionship and amuse ment, which surprised and those who had regarded him as a most exclusive fellow, easily bored and quick to say so. It was noteworthy that he actually courted the society of some men whom he had previously seemed inclined to shun-Maxim, the melodious, who was forever humming or whistling some popular air; Bates, the rosy-cheeked innocent, who had a painful habit of punning; Holbrook, the grim and silent, whose rank pipe contami nated the atmosph ere wherever he went; even Twiddy Traddles, with his silly chatter and idiotic laughter; and Asa Gould, with his tomb stone smile and philosophical platitudes. They fell to commenting on this singular change in the man, for everyone observed it Bates declared him in love; Holbrook felt sure he had a troubled conscience; Walter Whitney feared he had overworked; Asa Gould said he was haunted-and Asa was right. In spite of himself, Kemp could not laY. the


72 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD ghost of memory. Although he had sought to shoulder the blame upon the rest of the team1 he knew in his secret heart that Yale had found him and had taken his measure in the game on Soldiers' Field. And as the time for the New Haven game approached, the hateful memory awoke and aroused a band of unwelcome attend ant phantoms-doubt and dread in all their kindred forms-until he was on the verge of a pitiful funk. The thought of what might hap pen made him writhe inwardly, although he set his teeth and commanded an outward appear ance of calm. "You're not looking well to-day, Kemp," said Whitney, on the field, the day before the team was to start for New Haven. "You're not ill, are you?" "N-no, I think not," replied Hal falteringly. "Reckon I'm all right." But at that very moment he was seized by a desire to be ill when the time came to start. In that manner alone could he escape the ordeal he now dreaded. It is barely possible that Kemp might have resorted to this cowardly subterfuge, but for the knowledge that Bruce would be the man to fill his shoes. Of course, with malicious secret glee he pictured Yale banging the freshman all over the field; but, were this to happen, the third and deciding game would take place on neutral ground, and there could be no escape for him


HAUNTING PHANTOMS 73 then. What, on the other hand, if Harvard won with Bruce in the box?. He knew that would mean the finish of college baseball so far as he was concerned, and he had actually dreamed of being chosen to captain the nine in his senior year. There was only one thing for him to do; he must face the music-and win. So Kemp steeled himself; and not even Stan Hastings, who was more nearly a chum to him than anyone else, suspected that he entertained anything other than an eager desire to face the Eli batters again. No one knew of the horrible nights of dread through which he was constantly haunted and harassed, waking or sleeping, by the threatening phantom of failure. Finally came the day on which the team left for New Haven. The early morning was dull and gloomy, with lowering clouds and a half hearted drizzle of rain. Kemp arose in the gray gloom of dawn, cursing himself because he had obtained no really refreshing sleep. A damp odor that reminded him of decaying roses drifted in at his open window, and added to the feeling of depression that actually weighted him down. The sight of his pale, gaunt image in the mirror did not serve to cheer him in the least. Once more he would have given almost anything in the world to escape what lay before him, without betraying his cowardice. The usual cheering mob filled Harvard Square when the time came for the team to take the


74 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD special car which would carry them to the Back Bay station. It had stopped raining and the sun was now and then thrusting a golden spear through a momentary break in the fleeing clouds. The promise of a good day, and the excitement of getting off, stimulated Harold and brought some of the old swagger into his bearing as, with his team-mates, the substitutes, the manager and the coaches, he swung aboard the waiting trolley. In the throng packed about the car were many fellows who were eager to give a word of en couragement. "Hello, Abbott! Play the game, Abbie." Say, Cummings, show those Elis how to run bases." "Hey, Bowers! Wing all right, Joe? They can't steal sacks on you I Hi, hi, Hast ings I Stretch yourself for the wide ones, old man. Got to win, you know." "Good luck, Whitney I Bring home the pelt of that bulldog, Whit!" Then someone cried: Twist 'em round their necks, Kemp. You know how." The smile that crossed Hal's face vanished as Twiddy Traddles yapped idiotically: "You're all to the good, boys, with two slab artists like our Hal and good old Bill. You can't help winning." Hal's disgust over having his name coupled with that of Bruce passed unnoticed; for the president of the senior class had been boosted to the top of the car, from which elevation he


HAUNTING PHANTOMS 75 now called for the usual cheers, which were given with a will. When the car started, the crowd ran shouting and cheering after it. At the Back Bay station swarms of students thronged the platform and made the smoky, cavernous tun nel echo until the train had whisked the team away. "What's the matter, Kemp? You look wor ried, old man." The speaker was Bowers, who had stopped beside Hal's seat. Kemp shrugged his shoulders and forced a smile. I'm not exactly worried, Bowers," he said; but I'm hoping the boys will play together and back m e up better than they did in the last game. If they don't, I'm afraid luck won't break our way again." The catcher seemed to hesitate; but finally, after his usual blunt style, he blurted: "If you're going to pitch to-morrow, you want to forget what happened last time." Later Joe mun,nured confidentially in the ear of his friend, Mark Cummings: I'm blamed sorry, but I'm afraid Kemp has got a bad attack of cold feet."


CHAPTER XI THE LETTER IN New Haven the team put up at Heublein's. In the afternoon they got out for practice, and Kemp, in his finest form, made the ball burn through Joe Bowers' thick mitt. Nor was speed his only equipment; he opened up an assortment of shoots and benders that made old Joe grin approvingly. Bill Bruce limbered his arm with Driscoll, the substitute catcher, doing stopping. He also took his turn at batting practice, and swung a "slugger" to good effect. Macomber re marked that Bill seemed to have a good batting eye. The evening was a quiet one, everybody retiring before the hour of ten. Kemp and Hastings bunked together. As Stan was undressing, Hal handed him a letter, observing, with a scornful laugh: Here's a proposal I received a few days ago. I think I'll sign. Want to come along? Great inducements." Hastings took the rather voluminous letter, and sat on the edge of the bed, reading at first with very litle interest, but gradually losing his air of listlessness as he progressed. 76


THE LETTER 77 BALSAM BEACH, MAINE, June 8. MR. HAROLD D. KEMP, Claverly Hall, Cambridge, Mass. DEAR SIR: As manager of the Balsam Beach Baseball Club of the Pine Tree League, I am going to make you a private and confidential proposition, which I sincerely hope you will give your serious consideration. This is the second year of our league, the championship being won last season by Limeport, which is a much larger place than Balsam Beach. This sea son, however, we are determined to have at any expense the pennant-winning team; but it is also our object to have the club made up of gentlemanly young men, mostly college play ers, of whom we need not be ashamed. There will be no rowdies, muckers, or professionals on our team. Balsam Beach is a comparatively young summer resort, con nected with Limeport, the railroad terminal, by trolley-line. It has a summer population of some six thousand people. There are two modern summer hotels, a fine bathing beach, beautiful drives, golf-links, good fishing, and many other attractions to make it the ideal spot for a summer outing. At present the beach is visited mainly by wealthy people, many of whom have built or are building beautiful and expensive summer homes here. Not a few of these summer residents are keenly inter ested in baseball, and have subscribed most liberally to the sup port of the team, which will enable us this season to pay salaries that can be touched by few minor-league teams. Of course, you understand that our league is simply an or ganization of our own, called a league for the purpose of arousing interest, and in no way connected with the big pro fessional leagues. A man does not run any risk of being branded as a professional simply by playing on one of the three teams of the Pine Tree League. Last year we had three well known college men here at the Beach, while Limeport had two and White Springs had five. Some of these men took the pre caution to play under fictitious names, which, however, I believe to be entirely unnecessary, not to say foolish. In case any


78 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD question as to professionalism arose, it might be awkward ex plaining why false names had been chosen. Now, Mr. Kemp, I will come to the point of my proposition. Last year we lost the pennant solely because we lacked a strong pitcher; otherwise we had by far the best team in the league. This year we have resolved to have a crackerjack twirler at any cost, and I now offer you one hundred dollars ($100.00) a week for ten weeks, including board at the Sagamore, the swell hotel of Balsam Beach. I have full authority to do this, as the funds raised and pledged for the support of the team will be placed in my hands to be used as my judgment dictates, and no ques tions asked. But, if you wish to take every precaution, there is no necessity of signing a contract or entering into arrange ments with me, either oral or written. We open the season with Limeport on July 4th. If you decide to come, write at once to John A. Burnham, manager of the Sagamore Hotel, stating when you will arrive, and asking that a room with bath be reserved for you. I shall be told of this, and shall understand that my offer is accepted. Nor will it be necessary for you to accept money directly from anyone. Every Saturday a letter addressed to you, con taining a little present, will reach you through the mail. If you li:e ever questioned on the point, you will be able truthfully to say you did not receive a dollar from the hand of any man as payment for playing baseball in Balsam Beach. And I give you my word of honor that no one will ever learn about it from me. I hope you will consider this offer favorably. In case you decide to come, be sure to apply at once for accommodations at the Sagamore. If no word is received from you before the 14th, I shall know you are not coming. Should you decide to come, bring with you, if possible, an infielder-third-baseman or shortstop. Such a man will be treated the same as yourself, with the exception, of course, that he will receive less money; eighteen dollars ($18.00) a week being the limit. Yours truly, WM. 'Pi. BANNON.


THE LETTER 79 Having finished reading, Hastings looked up, his cheeks flushed, his eyes flashing indignation. He found Kei:np smiling on him in a quizzical manner. Well, of all insulting things, this is the limit!" cried Stan hotly. "But it must be a josh. It can't be on the level." "Why not?" asked Hal. A hundred dollars a week-and keeps at a swell summer hotel I Think of that. It's pre posterous." It is; but the off er is sincere, neverthe less." "A hundred dollars a week to pitch on a team at a little scrub coast-resort up in Maine I How can they afford to pay such money? They can't; but they're fools enough to do it, just the same. Let a baseball rivalry start in some of these country towns, and there is hardly any limit of expense and extravagance that may not be overstepped. The people of one place get hot and resolve to have a better nine than tae ad jacent towns can procure. They raise money by subscription, organize an association, choose a board of directors, and pitch on a guileless idiot who is willing to manage the team for glory, and whose certain reward is sneers and jeers and criticism and curses. "Usually these spasms last three or four sea sons in a section. By that time all the towns con cerned have accumulated a lot of debts, beneath


80 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD which they are hopelessly swamped, and a good portion of which are never paid. The fool direct ors have grown wary and wise after getting stuck repeatedly for bills that could not be dodged, and no more victims can be found to direct-and pay. The supply of managers has been brickbatted and cursed into retirement, and baseball pines and languishes thereabouts until the coming of another generation of enthusiastic suckers. It's this way at Balsam Beach, Stan. This is the second year of their so-called 'league,' and therefore the fever is at its height. Last year Limeport won the championship. Balsam Beach is aroused, and has registered a vow to retaliate with a vengeance, this coming season. They have contributed lavishly to a fund for the purpose of getting the very best amateur talent that can be procured. The manager realizes that their prin cipal weakness last season lay in their pitching staff. This year he will remedy the error, cost what it may. Probably he has never seen me pitch in his life; but he's read about me in the newspapers, and has decided that I'm the man Balsam Beach needs. With me on the team, the weak spot will be remedied, and they will triumph over Limeport-he fancies. It seems worth a hundred a week and the best board in town. Hence this interesting proposal from Mr. Bannon." Interesting proposal I exclaimed Stan, with


, THE LETTER 81 a sudden burst of indignation. The man who wrote that letter ought to be shot. He's a scoundrel." "Oh, I don't know," said Hal, as he folded the sheets, returned them to the envelope, and slipped the letter into his pocket. He seems to me like a pretty shrewd chap in his way." Hastings arose from the bed. Shrewd I He's snaky I Look at the crafty wording of that letter. He knows what it would mean if you accepted his offer. He knows you would become a pro fessional. He knows that never again could you honestly play on any college team. I tell you, that letter is an insult, Hal. The man takes you for what he is himself-a dishonest sneak and a rascal. He proposes to arrange it so you will be paid regularly and boarded and lodged, but in such a manner that you will be able truthfully to say you did not receive a dollar from the hand of any man for playing baseball.' By Jovel that's the limit." Kemp's lips curved in a laugh. "Don't get so disturbed over it, Stan," he said, shrugging his fine shoulders. I don't suppose you are worry ing for fear I'll accept the offer? Oh, no; you don't have to. But what if this offer had been made to some chap in different circumstances some poor fell ow who needed the money, and needed it bad." "Like Bruce, say?" "Yes, like Bruce suppose this man Bannon


82 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD should offer him a hundred a week and board--" "He'd grab it, you bet your life." He might." Might I sneered Hal. He would:" Well, there you are-a promising man ruined for the team if the fact leaked out. In any case, a man debauched and made dishonest." "Probably that wouldn't worry him if the truth didn't leak. You know it hasn't worried some others. Between us, old man, we both know or suspect that there are men playing on various college teams who might be barred as profes sionals if the truth concerning their summer ball-playing could be proven and the rules were enforced. Every year college men play up in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Northern New York. They all receive pay; but to prove it-there's the rub. The ietter you have just read illustrates how the managers of these sum mer clubs protect the college men on their teams from exposure. If I needed money, I shouldn't be afraid to play at Balsam Beach or almost any where else. I'm sure I could cover my tracks." "But playing on a salaried team practically makes one a professional, whether he takes money or not." You've got to prove the team is salaried; sometimes that's difficult, especially with a man ager like this man Bannon. He may be a rascal, Stan, but I rather admire him."


THE LETTER The discussion ended there; but before getting into bed Hastings turned to his companion, saying: I wish you would let me have that letter, Hal." Eh? exclaimed Kemp. What for? I'd like to turn it over to the Athletic Com mittee, if you don't want it." But I do want it. You see, it's my first professional offer, and I think I'll keep it as a curiosity. I'm thinking of framing it and hang ing it in my rooms." Oh, all right. Let's hit the hay. Plenty of sleep means a lot to us to-night." Being in perfect health and the pink of condi tion, Stan did not woo sleep in vain; but in spite of mental suggestion, even though he counted thousands of imaginary sheep jumping over an imaginary wall-even though he experimented with many other slumber-invoking devicesKemp heard a neighboring clock boom forth the hours until the night was well on the wane. When at last he did sleep, it was to dream that he was pitching madly, desperately, as though a life lay in the balance; and that the Elis were hilariously hammering the balls into the hazy distance and joyously capering around the sacks and over the plate in a never-ending procession.


CHAPTER XII THE HOUR AND THE MAN IT was the day before Commencement at Yale, and the old grads owned the town. They came flocking in from the four corners of the earth, rejuvenated by the prospect of meeting old classmates, and of revisiting all the familiar scenes of their college days. They were like a lot of capering colts, despite their beards and bald heads. For the hour they turned back the hands of Time and became boys again, forgetting that they were men of affairs, established in the world as merchants, doctors, lawyers, and fol lowers of a hundred other occupations and pro fessions. The old-time spirit of good-fellowship and springtime optimism again possessed them, warming the cockles of their hearts, and pumping the blood through their bodies with the full, strong current of other years. And Yale held out her arms, welcoming them back with the ivy-green, rose-sweet smile of June at maturity. The elm-shaded campus, the vine bedecked college buildings, the remnants of the initial-carved fence-these were for all; and for 84


THE HOUR AND THE MAN 85 many who were of the elect there were the mystic houses of the secret societies. So, with arms about one another's shoulders, Tom and Dick and Harry recalled the old days and sang the old songs, and toasted each other and Old Yale as of yore. By midday the town seemed full to overflowing-and still they came. At an early hour in the afternoon a strange, fantastic procession formed and took up its line of march out toward Yale Field, on which the Blue and the Crimson were to meet again that day and battle for glory, as they had met and battled many times before, In the line were nearly a score of bands, each leading the assembled grads from some class, who now to the last man were dressed in the most grotesque and picturesque manner imagi nable. There were hoboes with tin cans, clowns be spangled and bedaubed, cowboys carrying wooden pistols, Indians in feathers and war-paint, old women in poke bonnets and pantalettes, Continen tal soldiers wearing full uniform, and hundreds who had simply devised some original and highly ridiculous form of masquerade costume. Laugh ing, cheering, and singing, they tramped away behind the blatant bands on their dusty march to the field. Bronzed and lusty with bounding vigor, the clear-eyed young men of the rival teams were carried out to the field in open barges, cheered all


86 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD the way. The houses along the route were gen erally decorated with blue, but here and there one flaunted the defiantly. No one dreamed of the cold, heavy heart which one of those youthful gladiators carried in his bosom. Kemp tried to laugh and jest with his companions, but he soon abandoned the effort and relapsed into silence; for even to himself it seemed that his manner was so unnatural that it must attract attention and cause some of the fellows to suspect the truth. His mental condi tion was little short of pitiful; yet his suffering was caused wholly by the dread of what might happen to himself, not through apprehension over the possible defeat of his team He was not the kind to think of his college first and of himself afterward Presently he found himself trotting upon the field with the others, and heard the thundered salute from the crimson-flaunting section of the stand: "Rahl rah! rah! Rahl rah! rah! Rahl rah! rah 1 Har-vard l Har-vard l Har-vard 1 It was fine, to be sure. It was blood-warming enough; but even this stirring slogan failed to banish the chill from his veins and imbue him with that eager gladness to welcome the ordeal that is one of the most essential assets of a man who is about to take part in any athletic contest. Yale had been doing various luck-invoking stunts upon the field. "Handsome Dan," gayly


THE HOUR AND THE MAN 87 bedecked with enormous bows of blue ribbon, had been trotted around the diamond, barking lustily in answer to the Yale cheers which greeted his appearance. The dazzling white lime-lines were drawn with mathematical precision, the foul flags were properly placed, and everything was ready. There was no dallying. Off came the sweaters, and, to the last substitute, the teams fell to limber ing up in a businesslike manner. Apparently Kemp was as willing as any man among them; but the icy fingers of apprehension held fast their grip on his laboring heart. "Come on, Bruce," called old Joe Bowers, as he punched a pocket into his big mitt, "get out there with Kemp. I'll catch you both. Driscoll is going to bat to the outfield." Hal did not give Bill even a glance as the tall freshman stepped into position two yards to his left. Each was provided with a ball, and by turns they sent it plunking into the molded pocket of the catcher's mitt. Both began moderately and gradually to let themselves out. After a while Macomber sauntered into a posi tion from which he could watch them and note their curves. In a few moments he was joined by Graves. Kemp knew that they were there, and, in spite of himself, his nervousness increased. At the outset Hal was wild; and after reaching for a few of the wide ones, Bowers called for the


88 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD extra catching-mitt and tossed it on the ground in front of him, telling the two pitchers to put the ball over that. Bruce had beautiful control, and his curves broke sharp and clean. He could put the ball over whenever he wished; and he quickly demon strated that, if he were to pitch, an umpire with a keen eye and good judgment would find him cutting the corners that day. His high ball was swift, having a jump and an occasional inward shoot, while he commanded a drop that made Joe smile and nod approvingly. Kemp did not fail to observe all this, and a feeling of icy anger caused him to become still more erratic in his own work. In his heart he cursed the freshman bitterly. "But I'll show them when I get i nto the game," he said to himself. It was an ideal day for a baseball game; the sky was blue, the air was balmy, and there was not enough wind stirring to trouble the fielders in judging flies. The practice of both teams brought frequent bursts of applause from their appreciative and confident admirers. Apparently there was a great deal of cheering over nothing at all; but the immense crowd was surcharged with excitement and expectation, and it was nec essary to open the safety-valve as the pressure rose. The bands were playing, heard only by the people in their immediate vicinity The cheer-

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THE HOUR AND THE MAN 89 leaders, already perspiring copiously, were rn their places with the big megaphones. The two captains were consulting with the umpire ; the game was about to begin. Kemp had seated himself on the bench, his sweater fll!ng protectingly over his right arm. Bruce had pulled his sweater on, and no one seemed to be giving him any attention. But there was a slight hitch. Macomber and Graves, detaching themselves from a few privi leged ones who had joined them, signaled Cap tain Whitney, who trotted over to them; and for a few moments their heads were close together. They were giving him a final bit of suggestion or advice. Whitney turned and walked toward the bench, his eyes fixed on Kemp, his face wearing a grave express10n. Hal looked at him, with a sudden feeling that something unexpected was coming. "I'm going to put Bruce in to start the game, Hal," said Walter.

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CHAPTER XIII THE STRONGHEARTED KEMP'S first sensation was one of almost un speakable relief; for now he would not be com pelled to pass through the ordeal which had so overwhelmed him with apprehension and dread. This emotion of satisfaction, however, was quickly followed by a throb of anger and a feeling of injustice which drove every other im pression from his mind. Like everyone else, Bill Bruce had supposed that Kemp would be sent to the slab for Harvard, and he was a bit bewildered when he was informed by Hastings that he had been selected to do the pitching in the early stages of the struggle. The manner in which this information was con veyed to him seemed to betoken a doubt as to his ability to hold Yale down, despite his bril liant performance against that team at Cambridge; and he knew that the slightest betrayal of weakness on his part would be the signal for his benching. Instead of making him nervous and over-anxious, this was the very thing to put him on his mettle. As Yale took the field and Harvard led off at the bat, Bill had plenty of time to get his poise 90

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THE STRONG-HEARTED 91 and make ready for the work that lay before him Involuntarily he looked at Harold Kemp, feeling something like a throb of sympathy for the man who, he fancied, must be keenly disappointed. Hal was sitting as though turned to stone, his bronzed face wearing a sickly pallor; but, as he felt Bill's eyes upon him, his cheeks flushed, and he turned sharply, giving the freshman a glare of hatred that no words could convey. After that Bruce wasted no sympathy on Kemp. The mighty cheer of the Yale crowd was still breaking across the field when Powell, who was again on the slab for the Blue, handed up the first ball to Cummings, and the bat cracked against the leather. There was a sharp, exultant "Ah I from the Harvard stand, followed instantly by a disgusted Oh I "-for Pope had leaped into the air and made a sensational onehanded catch. Instantly the Yale cheering re doubled. Price fanned in a hurry, following which Whitney rolled an easy grounder into McRea's hands; and Bruce shed his sweater. The cheer leaders, whose backs were to the field, stimulated the Harvard crowd to roar its war cry as the team trotted out, the men scat tering like an opening fan to their positions. But somehow there seemed to be an intonation of surprise-or was it dismay?-in that cheer. Bill Bruce detected this; and his strong, freckled face wore something like a grim smile of

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92 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD resolution as he secured the ball and turned toward Hastings for a few arm-limberers, ere the first Yale batter took his place at the pan. On the occasion when he had first faced the Elis, Bruce had been attacked by stage fright; but now a feeling of confidence and calmness per vaded him, and he did not wonder at it. He believed in himself to-day, and before he sent the first ball twisting over the outside corner of the plate he was confident that he would pitch a winning game. Graydon, Yale's first batter, was a tricky rascal who had a way of deceiving either pitcher or umpire to his own advantage. At times he hit very well, yet his success in getting to first came through craftiness far more than stick-work; and, once landed on the initial sack, being a daring and heady base-runner, he had a way of making the circuit if there was a possibility of doing so. Bruce had studied the man, and knew his artifices-such as pretending that he was off guard, in order to tease the pitcher into putting one over; crouching on the shoulder-high ones, to make them look too high; crowding close to the plate and thrusting out a hip or a shoulder, to get hit glancingly while he pretended to dodge the ball. Knowing these tricks, Bill proceeded at once to whip the horsehide over without "wasting" one, at the same time using speed that gave the

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THE STRONG-HEARTED 93 fellow little chance to get hit intentionally, if he possessed the nerve to try it. Graydon fell an easy victim, fanning with ludicrous weakness after having two strikes called on him. Watkins did no better, although he was given a rouser" by the stand as he stepped out with a jaunty air and his famous strike-outless bat. And when the long-geared Harvard freshman concluded his opening turn on the slab by polishing off Jimmy Pope with three pitched balls, his name, hitched to the tail of the mighty Harvard cheer, was hurled across the field like a thrice-exploding bombshell. Thus began one of the fiercest pitchers' battles ever seen on a college diamond; for Powell, spurred by the sensational start of the Harvard twirler, did his prettiest to return the compliment without delay, and succeeded, to the wild delight of the roaring Yale crowd. For five innings not a man on either side reached first. The cheering and singing became continuous. It was apparent that the bands played at intervals; but this could be told only by vision; for, though the musicians were going through the motions," the shouting of the specta tors drowned the sound of the music. In the sixth the Yale crowd billowed to its feet with a wild, hoarse yell as Wetherbee batted a slow bounder to Abbott, who handled the ball awkwardly and overthrew first in his haste to catch the runner. The lucky runner tore over

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94 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD first and was safe on second before Price, who had rushed to back up Hastings, could get the ball back into the diamond. With no one out and a man on second, the prospect of getting one run, at least, looked very bright for the Blue. It grew still brighter when Captain Hopkins laid down a clever bunt just inside the first-base line, and Wetherbee scooted to third while Hopkins was suffering the penalty at first. Abbott's rank error, and Hopkins' fine sacrifice, had placed the Crimson in dire peril; for in this sort of game a single run might spell victory, At this point many persons-and not a few of them were in sympathy with Harvard-expected to see Bill Bruce weaken. The cheer leaders nearly jerked their arms off in the effort to draw cheers from the already hoarse throats of the wild-eyed, purple-faced tiers of people who were shaking with excitement. The coach ers barked and gesticulated frantically from oppo site sides of the diamond; and surely all this wild hubbub, this frenzied demonstration, this ear benumbing uproar was enough to disturb a vet eran pitcher-and even the more a raw, unsea soned freshman. Those who doubted Bruce, those who hoped for his undoing, and those who feared it might come, were soon to realize that they had failed to estimate correctly this uncomely chap, who was made of the stuff that invariably enables a

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THE STRONG-HEARTED 95 man to rise to emergencies. While Bill dallied to tie his shoe-which did not need tying, as it had not become untied he was doing some tall thinking. If the squeeze play was tried by Yale and Tooker succeeded in hitting the ball at all, the chances were in favor of Wetherbee crossing the pan in safety. This was the time of all times to attempt such a play. There was but one sure way to baffle it; Tooker must not be permitted to hit the ball. As he placed his foot on the slab and leaned forward to get Bowers' signal, Bruce could see old Joe's eyes gleaming anxiously through the meshes of the cage. The catcher's face seemed to wear a sort of brownish-gray pallor. Bowers also feared that the squeeze play might be tried, with disastrous effect for Harvard; and so, in order that Bill might keep the ball beyond the batter's reach, he called for an out-curve To Joe's surprise, the tall fellow on the slab shook his head. Reluctantly and apprehensively, the catcher signed for an in-shoot. It came over, shoulder high and piping hotnot an easy ball for many batters to hit, even though it may not curve. But this one curved; Bill actually twisted that ball round Tooker's neck. Ere the ball left his fingers, however, Bruce knew that Wetherbee had leaped from third and was dashing for the plate as though the loss of a single second meant also the of life, happiness, and all he held dear on earth.

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96 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Tooker did his best to hit that ball, but his best was not good enough; for it took a shoot that actually seemed to carry it round behind him before it spanked into Bowers' mitt. The quick witted Yale man stepped back as though to get away from the plate in order to give plenty of room, but really attempted to bother the catcher by getting in his way. Bowers, however, was as quick as a cat; he dodged past Tooker, covered the base line, and laid the ball on the runner as the latter feebly and hopelessly tried to slide. Yale, sickeningly disappointed, was silent; Harvard, hilariously jubilant, howled. Bill Bruce, grim, unsmiling, but satisfied, attended strictly to business, and settled Tooker's hash on strikes. But Yale accepted the failure in her usual bull dog style, which seemed to indicate that the Crimson had simply delayed the inevitable. The great crowd recovered quickly and sent the Boola song resounding across the field, while the players continued to give Powell perfect sup port. This splen:did work again preventing the visitors from reaching first, the undergraduates and the mighty gathering of old grads united in chanting: No hope for Harvard I The sixth inning passed without a score, and it began to seem that Harvard would do noth ing in the seventh; for two men were out, and the sacks unoccupied, when Bruce came to bat. Powell was not wholly without fear of his

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THE, STRONG-HEARTED 97 worthy antagonist; for, although fast fielding had nipped Bill at first base, the freshman had hit the ball hard on his second turn at bat. The Yale pitcher tried to fool Bill; but Bill, with fine judgment, waited and obtained the first and only pass" handed out during the game. There seemed to be little real danger, never theless; for Cameron, who followed, although a fine fielder, was known as a weak "sticker." It is impossible, however, to foretell what astonishing thing may happen in a game of baseball. At this juncture, just when knowing Harvard men were groaning because the hitter was not a man like Price or Whitney or Hastings, Cameron smashed the horsehide hard enough to start the stitches, and drove it on a line into left field. Bruce was off for second as bat and ball met. He did not wait to see where the ball was going; but, as he raced down the base line, his eyes discovered it shooting into the field, and he knew on the instant that it was a clean hit. Furthermore, he decided that it was good for two cushions Those who had previously thought Bill Bruce rather slow and awkward were led to open their eyes widely by what they now beheld. The freshman let himself out, and the way he cov ered ground was little short of marvelous Over second he went with the dash of a mettled racer, and he ate up the intervening ground to third as though he were shod with the seven-league boots.

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98 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD The Harvard crowd was gasping for breath as Bill came on. They saw Watkins pick up the ball and square himself for the throw as Whitney, on the coaching line, taking a desperate chance, waved furiously for the freshman to keep on. Watkins threw to stop that score; and, fast though Bruce was running, the ball tra':eled faster. Many a Harvard man groaned with dismay; some even shut their eyes, unwilling to witness the put-out at the pan which would dash their suddenly raised hopes to the ground. Those closed eyes were snapped wide open in another moment at the sound of a sudden wild yell of joy that filled their ears, coming from thousands of throats. They saw Bill Bruce, almost hidden by a cloud of dust, lying flat on his stomach, his left hand on the rubber plate, while Hopkins, who had been compelled to step into the diamond in order to get the ball, which had curved several yards in its course, was lunging-too late to tag the runner and stop the score. Perhaps there wasn't a demonstration then l It seemed that the cheering would never cease. They cheered for Bruce, then for Cameron, and then for old Harvard, until they were quite out of breath and compelled to cease because they simply could not keep it up. Cameron had reached third on the throw to the plate, and now there were hopes that he might

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THE STRONG-HEARTED 99 squeeze in with another run; but Powell had lost none of his cunning, and he slaughtered old Joe Bowers at the pan. .If Bruce could continue to hold the Elis down. the game was won. His work up to this point had been marvelous; yet there were still many who feared or hoped that he would weaken. But, if such a thing were possible, Bill grew better. Of the last nine Yale men to face him, only one made a strong bid for a hit. Graydon, leading off in the ninth, smashed the ball on a line toward right field; but Stan Hastings, keeping well off the sack and back of the base line, shot into the air and pulled the liner down with his bare hand. Whether that took the courage out of Yale or not, Watkins and Pope both died in the batter's box, and Harvard had won with a single score. Bill Bruce, the freshman, had made a record long to be remembered, shutting Yale out without a hit-on her own field I Why describe the demonstration that followed? This time good old Bill did not escape; his pro tests unheeded, he was carried round and round the Yale diamond on the shoulders of his dancing, shouting, and singing college mates. New Haven belonged to the Harvard lads that night. They paraded the streets with music and with cheers. Some even proposed invading Yale's campus; but the hot-headed ones were re strained by their more discreet companions, and

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100 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD this action, which would have precipitated trou ble, was not attempted. The splendid news was sent hot over the wires without delay, and there was red fire and rejoicing in Cambridge as well as in New Haven. Of course there was a big dinner at Heublein's, when the team broke training and ate and drank, each man to suit his own taste. There were speeches and toasts and singing and cheering far into the night. Some who celebrated became very mellow toward midnight, and these were cared for and stowed away by their more sober friends. As a rule, they objected to retiring up to the last minute; and when they were finally overcome and subdued, they continued to cheer huskily for Bill Bruce and for Harvard, even as they were forcibly put to bed with their boots on. Bill found himself the hero of the hour; there was no escaping from these fellows who wrung his hand until his shoulder was so weary that he laughingly expressed a fear that he would never be able to pitch another game. Of his team mates one alone failed to give him the glad hand; Kemp disappeared directly after the game, and could not be found. Sophomores, juniors, seniors, Harvard men of all sorts and all degrees of social standing, united to honor the freshman whom many of them had hitherto overlooked or ignored. Bill's heart glowed with the genial good fellowship of it all, and he folt for tht; first

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THE STRONG-HEARTED 101 time that he was now a part of old Harvard itself. Hitherto, even though a student, he had seemed to stand aloof from most of his classmates; and he had felt himself removed to the point of lonely isolation from the great mass of college men whom he met day after day. Now a door had suddenly opened, and he had crossed a threshold. He was in the fold; he was one of those Whose hearts are strong, whose hearts are true Ever to Harvard--ever to Harvard!

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CHAPTER XIV THE HATRED OF SIMON VANE BEFORE the third hour of a sunny June after noon had commenced to wane, Asher Mullen, farmer, drove into Fogg's Corners with an open wagon and a limping horse, and stopped at Simon Vane's store. This store was likewise the post office at the Corners, a country crossroads settle ment, further made up of half a dozen dwelling houses, a small red schoolhouse, a blacksmith's dingy shop, and a tiny white box of a church. Mr. Mullen piloted his faltering nag to a long hitching rail near the amazingly high board fence that marked the dividing line between the land and that of old Duncan Bruce, the blacksmith, the roof of whose shop could be seen over the obstruction. Lowering himself cautiously from the Mullen, limping like his horse-for he had one short leg-pulled a halter from beneath the seat, and tied the old mare to the rail with the same care he would have given a fiery and skittish colt; after which he bobbed away slowly toward the store, carrying a firkin of butter in one hand and a basket of eggs in the other. Howdy, Trux I said Mr. Mullen, address-102 I

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THE HATRED OF SIMON VANE 103 ing a fleshy, coatless, collarless man who sat on the edge of the elevated, dusty store platform, languidly whittling a piece of soft pine. How are ye t'-day?" "Wall, not very well, thankee, Asher," an swered the fat man, with an evident effort. "This early hot weather is a-takin' holt of me pritty severe Hot weather I chuckled the farmer, who was wearing a shabby fur cap on his head and a soiled, faded woolen scarf about his neck. Why, I ain't seen no genuine hot weather sence I come back from Injianny with the ager. I s'pose the weather has helped your rheumatiz some, Trux?" Wall, yes, I s'pose it has; but when it ain't one thing ailin' me it seems to be the other. Hannah she asked me to cut some wood fer her last night, and I caught an awful kink in my back, so I couldn't git my boots off. Never slept a wink all night for the pain, and I tell you I'm lame t'-day. It's purty tough on a man to be used up the way I be at my age, with a family on his hands to s'port." "Near as I can figger it, Trux, you ain't contributed much toward the s'port of your family in the last ten year or more. If it wasn't for your wife doin' dressmakin' and workin' out, you'd 'a' been callin' on the town for assistance long before this." Trux Bigelow gave the speaker a mildly re sentful and injured look. "It ain't my fault that

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104 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD I was born with a delicate constitution and poor health, is it?" he demanded. I ain't never seen a really well day sence I can remember; but folks that is well and strong never seem to have no sympathy for them that's ailin'. Now there's old Dunc Bruce, he's alwus been hearty and strong as an ox, and I'll bate he's knocked me more'n a hundred times 'bout not workin', and me scarce able to crawl round for the rheumatism, the asthmy or something else; but now he's come to it hisself at last, and if he pulls through and gits outdoors ag'in, maybe he won't be shootin' off his sarcasm at other unfortunates; for they say he'll never be much more good, and some body'll have to take care of him the rest of his life. Mind you, Asher, I ain't rejoicin' over the hard luck of no man, specially an old man like him; but I can't help mentionin' that it kinder behooves them that's able and well to have sympathy with folks that ain't so fortunate as they be." "Why, Trux, what's the matter with Bruce? I ain't heard about it." "Ain't ye? He's had a stroke." "Sho-you don't say!" Yep; had it yisterday. His boy, Will, home from college for the summer, found the old man a-layin' senseless in the shop, and lugged him over to the house. Whole left side paralyzed, and the doctor says Dunc Bruce won't never do no more horseshoein' or blacksmithin' of no kind. Dr.

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THE HATRED OF SIMON VANE 105 Tinker's over there now; you can see his rig in the yard." I saw it as I drove in, but I s'posed the doc tor was callin' to see the little girl. This is purty hard on Bruce, with a family to take care of, and a daughter that's crippled for life." "And a high-toned son that's got an idee nor thin' but a fine college education is good enough for him. I ruther guess Will Bruce'll have to give that up now, and stay to home to take care of the old folks and his sister. I alwus said Dunc Bruce couldn't afford to send that boy to college." Hold on, Trux I I don't cal'late it's ever cost the old man a dollar to send Will away to school. That boy's come purty nigh earnin' his own money. He's worked in his father's shop vacations ever sence he could blow a bellers or swing a hammer, and there ain't a better hoss shoer this side of Portland. 'Sides that, he's cut wood winters an' hired out any odd times when his father could spare him. I had him through hayin' time last year, and he was the best man I've got hold of in five year. He's earnt his own money, and saved it, too." "That's jest it-that's jest it!" nodded Bigelow, beginning to whittle on a new piece of soft pine. "He kept the money he earnt and wasted it payin' his way to college, when he should 'a' turned it in to help clear the mortgage the old man had to put on his property to carry on that lawsuit 'tween him and Vane. Now that Dunc can't work no

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106 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD more, what's liable to happen? Why, maybe the mortgage'll be foreclosed, and the whole family turned out of doors." I don't cal'clate the property is mortgaged heavy, and I guess Will Bruce ain't the sort of boy to see his folks suffer." Hope yer right, Asher; but times is bad, and money's skurce. Anyhow, I'll guarantee Will won't be able to finish up at college. I ain't re joicin' over nobody's misfortune, as I said before; but, now old Dunc Bruce really knows what it is to be sick, I guess I won't never have to stand no more of his sneers about my own com plaints." I'll have to run over and find out how he is, before I go home." You needn't take that trouble unless you want to. Widder Pegger is there now, and she'll report to the whole neighborhood soon's the doctor leaves. The doctor come past her house, and he hadn't got his hoss hitched before I see the wid der's shawl comin' up the road. She's better'n a newspaper hereabouts, Asher." Simon Vane, the storekeeper and postmaster at Fogg's Corners-a thin, angular, sour-looking old man-appeared, newspaper in hand, in the open doorway, wearing a shabby straw hat and no coat, and canted his head downward to peer slantwise over his steel-bowed spectacles at the farmer. He was chewing tobacco, as usual. Like Bigelow, Vane wore no collar, and his vest was unbuttoned

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THE HATRED OF SIMON VANE 107 from top to bottom. He was not a neat man, his clothes being soiled, while his hard face had a sort of grimy look, as though it were in crying need of soapsuds and a scrubbing brush. A large seed wart on the side of the storekeeper's crooked nose could not be said to add anything in the way of attractiveness to his features. How are yer, Asher? said Simon Vane, in a harsh, unpleasant voice, which was precisely the kind of voice one would expect such a man to possess. "What have you fetched in t'-day?" Howdy do, Sime? nodded the farmer, mounting the steps. Got some butter an' a few aigs. You know my wife she does make 'mighty good butter; and as for aigs, them Plymouth Rocks of mine beat all creation." The price of aigs has gone down two cents a dozen sence last week," said the storekeeper, stepping back to admit Mullen, and there ain't much market for home-made butter sence the creamery over to White Springs has opened up." He shuffled behind the counter in a reluctant manner, expressive of apparent regret that neces sity or business courtesy compelled him to enter into negotiations with this whilom customer. The store and post office was of a type found only in remote and extremely rural sections, con taining a miscellaneous assortment of dry goods, groceries, and hardware, not a little of which had been on the dusty shelves for a period of time that taxed the memory of the oldest inhabitant ;

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rn8 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD a stock that, taken as a whole, staggers description or enumeration. In one corner, near the dingy front window, was that portion of the room set off for the handling of Uncle Sam s mail, a dozen or more glass-ended letter boxes, having a general delivery and stamp window at one side of them, and, behind the glass, a revolving letter wheel, the pro jecting rim of which extended through a wooden slot, so that anyone not renting a private box could turn the wheel from the outside until he had found that part upon which letters addressed to him were thrust cornerwise behind strips of tape. In the middle of the store stood an old barrel stove, around which on winter evenings the politicians and statesmen of Fogg's Corners assembled to settle national issues. Asher Mullen deposited the basket of eggs and the firkin of butter on the counter before the store keeper, and loosened the woolen scarf about his throat, before displaying his wares. You can alwus find a market for Marthy's butter, and you know it, Sime," said the farmer positively. You sold ev'ry pound of it to the hotels at the Beach last year, and you said your. self you could 'a' handled ten times as much if you'd had it. They've opened up for the summer at the Beach and--" "The Sagamore's made a contract with the creamery this year, and I can't rely on the board ing houses, Asher. Things have changed sence

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THE HATRED OF SIMON VANE rn9 last year. Then, sence Pike Carter started out with a cart pickin' up aigs for the Boston market, it's got so I can't hardly afford to bother with the few folks bring in to me; 'taint worth the trouble." "Hurni Well, I s'pose I'll have to be takin' my truck to Limeport next. I can alwus find a market there, and usually prices is jest a dite higher'n you're willin' to give, Sime; but it's a long drive with the old mare, and my other boss is sick with the glanders. Now, if you won't take this stuff--" I ain't said I wouldn't take it, have I? snapped the storekeeper. How many aigs you got?" Four dozen and a half, and about twenty pounds of butter." "Aigs are worth seventeen cents; butter nineteen-in trade." Guess I'll have to drive the old mare over to Limeport. You paid me twenty-three cents for butter all last summer, and I oughter git the same price now, Sime. I wanted some sugar and tea and raisins and other things, and I'd like to trade with you; but--" 'Tain't no use, Asher; I can't pay no such price for butter. Why, I wouldn't offer nobody else more'n eighteen cents; but, seein' as it's you, I'll call it nineteen and a half." For fully twenty miutes they dickered in this manner, until finally, after Mullen had made two

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110 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD feints at departing with his goods, the price of butter was raised to twenty cents a pound, "trade," and a bargain was struck. The farmer watched with a careful and zealous eye as the eggs were counted and the butter weighed, after which he brought out his written list, and the storekeeper began doing up packages of raisins, sugar, tea, and other commodities of exchange, weighing to the raisin and to the gram. While this business was going forward, a mid dle-aged woman, wearing a hideous yellow and green plaid shawl, came bustling in, followed wearily by Truxon Bigelow, bringing his knife and piece of soft pine. The new arrival was Mrs. Betsey Pegger, a widow and newsmonger of re nown throughout those parts. Mrs. Pegger was not in any sense a comely lady, being afflicted with a chronic cold in the head, and given to much snuffling and sneezing. "Why, how do you do, Midster Mullen I" she sniffed. Idsen't id awful aboud poor Duggan Bruce I I've just cub frob there, and I heard Dogder Tigger tell Will Bruce with my owd ears thad his fadther would odways be a hobeless idvalid for the rest of his endire life. I thig id's the most piddiful case I ever knew. A-choo I A-choo A-choo I I do believe I've cod more code cubbing oud wid odly this shawl over my shoders." "Why don't you wear furs and woolens the

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THE HATRED OF SIMON VANE III year round, the way I do, Mis' Pegger? sug gested the farmer. I'm mighty sorry to hear about Bruce, and I hope he'll pull out of it bet ter'n expected. Doctors don't alwus hit it right, you know." "And sometimes folks git well in spite of 'em," sagely observed Trux, cutting notches with his knife. I never took no stock in doctors, and I cal'clate I'd been dead and buried years ago if I'd ever let any of 'em come foolin' round me with pills and powders and drugs. I've managed to keep alive in spite of all my ailin's, just be cause I've positively refused to let any doctor dose me to death." "I dode know whad the Bruces will do," said the widow, shaking her head mournfully, and dis regarding the annoyance of Simon Vane, who was growling and swearing beneath his breath as he lighted his black clay pipe and puffed fiercely at it. Poor Mis' Bruce has had her share of trials a'd sufferi'g id this world. Liddle J eddie bei'g bord with hib disease was a dreadful shog to her, a'd now to have Duggan took dowd before they could pay off thad mor'gage thad was forced od them by thad dreadful lawsuit--" It's a judgment on the old pirate I snarled Simon Vane, taking his pipe from his mouth and flourishing it wildly in the air, his eyes glaring and his grimy face working with passion. I ain't no religious man myself; I don't pray and attend church reg'lar the way old Bruce does; but

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112 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD I say it's the hand of God smitin' a two-faced, psalm-singing, hypocritical old fraud, and I'm rejoicin' because he's got his just dues at last." Why, Sibod I gasped the widow. I mean just what I say I shouted the excited man, leaning over the counter and striking it a blow with his clenched bony fist. I ain't laughed so hard in ten year as I did when they told me that Will Bruce had found the old man stiff with a stroke in the blacksmith's shop, t'other side of that board fence out there. I've felt better sence I heard that piece of news than I've felt sence I don't know when. Why shouldn't I feel good? I hate Dunc Bruce worse'n p'izen, and I'll hate him as long as I live. I'll rejoice when the day comes that they give him his last ride in a hearse down to the cemetery, and I hope I live to see that day." Idsen't id terrible I choked Mrs. Pegger, aghast. "Now, look here, Simon," protested Asher Mullen, "that ain't right, or even decent! You and Dunc Bruce had a fool quarrel over two foot of land, and it cost you both a lot of money that went into the pockets of them sharp lawyers; but that's all been settled by the courts at last, and you oughter be satisfied and put aside such hard feel in's; for you beat him, and now he's done up so he may not git out of the house for a long day to come."

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THE HATRED OF SIMON VANE 113 I hope he never gits out till he1's brought out feet first I relentlessly declared Simon Vane, undying rancor expressed in his words, in his bit terly harsh voice, and in every contorted linea ment of his unpleasant face.

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CHAPTER xv; ETHEL VANE SILENCE bound the little group. Simon Vane leaned forward belligerently, his black T. D. poised and gripped in his left hand, while his knobby, knuckly, clenched right fist re mained pressed hard on the counter, where it had fallen when he delivered that fierce blow of em phasis. There was a mingling of outraged indig nation and open defiance of public opinion in his attitude, and in the steady glare of his eyes over the spectacles that bestrode the bridge of his crooked nose, on the right side of which the big cracked wart bristled even as his thin hair bristled all round the brim of the old straw hat on his b'ald head. Right or wrong, he had not faltered or wavered in his attitude toward Duncan Bruce and his family since the inception of the quarrel; and, instead of soothing his soured soul, a dearly bought victory had added to his vindictiveness a hundredfold. The widow, shocked and stunned, forgot to sniffle or sneeze for some seconds, standing with her jaw drooping and her open hands upheld. Asher Mullen regarded Vane with a mild aspect of regret and helplessness. Truxon Bigelow, the II4

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ETHEL VANE 115 least disturbed of them all, calmly whittled on, finally seeking to break the tension by observing: I dunno's I blame Sime any for feelin' the way he does, and he's sorter had my sympathy ever sence he was set on and choked by old Bruce when he was tearin' down that first board fence." To Bigelow's surprise, the storekeeper turned on him with the fierceness of a savage beast. Keep your sympathy for them that wants it, you worthless, woman-supported loafer 1 snarled Vane "When I want it I'll let ye know. You'd better bestow some of it on your wife, and show that you've got some part of a man in ye, by goin' to work and earnin' a few dollars to help take care of your family, instid of wastin' your time whittlin' and whinin' about poor health. You never come inter my store that I don't have to sweep up arter ye. Git out-git out, now, and take your whittl i n' with ye I Well, I declare I said inexpressibly hurt. "That's what a man gits by bein' sym pathetic with them that don't know enough to 'preciate it. All right, Sime, I'll git out, and I won't bother you no more till you feel different toward me If anything could git me riled," rasped Vane, glaring at Bigelow's broad back as it d i sappeared through the open door, it would be to have a thing like that offer me sympathy. That's too much. I'll be much obliged to you, Mis' Pegger, and to you, too, Asher Mullen, if you doa't

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r 16 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD cuss the Bruces in my store. I ain't allowed no member of my family to mention the name before me in the last two year, and other folks generally understand it ain't best to talk much about 'em around here." Lands I breathed the widow. I'll cer taidly be careful hereardfer. You nearly fright ened me oud of my sedses, Midster V ade. A-chool A-a-chool I'm cerdin I've cod more code. I dode subbose there's addy mail for me, ids there? "Nope, northin' t'-day, Betsey. Why, you got a letter week before last, and you can't be ex pectin' another as soon as this." "Last March I had two ledders in one weeg," reminded Mrs. Pegger. "If you kept that up," observed Mr. Mullen, "you'd soon be encumberin' the United States mail with your private co-respondence." From the rooms above the store came the sound of a melodeon, somewhat out of tune, and a shrill, high-pitched girlish voice singing. The words of the song could be distinguished, and involun tarily the trio listened. "A winning way, a pleasant smile, Dressed so neat, but quite in style, Merry chaff, your time to while, Has little Annie Rooney! "That's Ethel," said the storekeeper. "Ai'd id lovely!" snuffed Mrs. Pegger. "I do admire to hear her play a'd si'g."

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ETHEL VANE I 17 She's spqilt her voice screechin' like that actress she heard the time she went to a show while visitin' her aunt in Waterville,'' complained Vane. "That visit was the wust thing that ever happened to her; she ain't never been contented and satisfied to home sence." Do hush," implored the widow. I love to hear her si'g, addyhow." She's my sweetheart, I'm her beau; She's my Annie, I'm her Joe; Soon we'll marry, nev-er to part; Little Annie Rooney is my sweetheart." Purty good-purty good I approved Asher Mullen, shaking his head with an odd sidewise jerk that was expressive of admiration. I re member the fust time I ever heard her sing. It was at the Sunday school picnic in Bradbury's grove four or five year ago, and she certainly done it fine. She was. dressed in pink with blue rib bons, that day, and she looked just like a little fairy. One thing, Sime, you must acknowledge: she didn't take any of her good looks from her father." She's been spoilt by folks ft.atterin' her and tellin' her she's good-lookin'," growled the store keeper. "It's helped turn her head-got it full of foolish idees, and made her dissatisfied with her lot and her surroundin's. I wish people knew enough to keep their mouths shut." "Your boy warn't content here either, was he,

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u8 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Sime? That song made me think of him. Where is Joe now-and what d'ye hear from him? How's he gittin' along?" He's doin' fine," answered Simon, striking a match to relight his pipe, which he had permitted to go out, and wrinkling his nose as he got the odor of brimstone. Fine. He says he wouldn't come back to live in the country if 'you'd give him the whole of this township." What's he
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ETHEL VANE 119 on the cheese box and pulling hard at his pipe, "Joe was actin' as agent for some big concern. He warn't very explicit, but I took it to be some sorter insurance, for he writ that he was sellin' policy. Young fellers like him never do seem to think it wuth while botherin' to go inter details." Wall, I certain hope he makes his way in the world all right," nodded the f'armer. He will," declared Vane positively. He never did go in for foolin' away his time and wastin' his father's money on a high-toned eddycation; but I'll bate anything he'll git along bet ter'n some of them that do them things." Deep down in his heart there was a sore spot that he tried to hide; for it had been a great dis appointment that, far from seeking or desiring a college training, his son had persistently neg lected to make the most of the opportunities presented by the little country school, wasting his boyhood and youth in idleness, and approach ing manhood with indifference and without am bition. Although his thin lips had never whispered a word of it to anyone, he had often compared his own boy with the son of his hated neighbor; and the contrast between them caused his envious soul to writhe. "Here cubs the dogder," said Mrs. Pegger, peering out at the open door. The doctor's turnout stopped outside, and a smooth faced, brisk-stepping young man in dark clothes entered the store, spoke to the two men,

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120 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD smiled on the widow, and jingled a bunch of keys as he unlocked a letter box. "Well, doctor," said Mr. Mullen, bobbing forward and shaking hands, I'm ruther anxious to know if what we've heard about Bruce is as bad as it seems. Is he actually laid up for good?" I'm afraid it will be some time before he recovers, if he ever does," answered the physician gravely. "It is almost certain that he will be a cripple for the remainder oi his life." I swan-that's a shame I It's goin' to be tur rible hard on the family." There was a sound of light, quick footsteps on the stairs, a rustle of skirts and a flaxen-haired girl of seventeen appeared. She was the store keeper's daughter, Ethel, a slender wisp of a creature, with babyish blue eyes and a pretty face, which was somewhat marred by a slightly petulant and pouting mouth She wore a bright pink shirt-waist, tight-fitting black silk skirt, and French-heeled boots, such as no other girl had ever displayed in Fogg's Corners Why, Dr. Tinker," she exclaimed, as if greatly surprised, I didn't know you were here. Isn't it a perfectly lovely day? But goodness knows we deserve to have fine weather, if we're compelled to spend it around this lonesome neigh borhood. Sometimes I want to fly." My dear," said the physician, hat in hand, I more than half suspect you have the wings hidden somewhere about you."

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ETHEL VANE 121 "Now, doctor," she cried, suppressing a gig gle, you do say such flattersome things I But, really and truly, don't you think this just the pokiest old hole in the world? I don't see how you can endure it after going to college and seeing something life. You know I'm simply sick to death of it." You look very healthy, indeed, for a person as ill as that." Oh, but I am really sick, and you can't blame me. I'm sure I never was born to spend my whole life in such a dreary place. I just get crazy to go somewhere and do something. I hate the very sight of these old dusty roads and miser able country houses, and there are absolutely al most no interesting people to meet. Of course present company is always excepted. I think I shall go crazy unless I do get away from Fogg's Corners soon." Dear me I sniffed the widow, her open hands upheld. "Whad ails the chide? Do hear her go od I Goodness me I Ker-choo I Ker-choo l Ker-choo I Oh, she has them fits sometimes," said the storekeeper sourly, and they're growin' more frequent and violent. The only thing that'll cure her, says I, is ter git out and hustle for herself a while; but the old lady she won't hear to lettin' Ethel go 'way from home." And I have to stay here like a prisoner in a dungeon I" cried the girl fretfully. It's some-

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122 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD thing terrible-it's killing me I It's actually crushing to a person of any accomplishment, to be buried alive in such a place. It's blighting to all talent. Do tell me how you manage to endure it, doctor I" Why, I have to, Miss Vane. You know my parents are very old-almost helpless-and they must be cared for in their declining years." Oh, but you might put them out with people who'd be glad to board them for the price." The doctor shook his head. I couldn't do that," he said. "They are too old, and too fixed in their habits and attachments, to leave their home; and so I've come home to take care of them while they live." "Well, I don't suppose you'll hang around long after they're gone. I'm sure I wouldn't. You ought to be located in a big city. I'm just mad to go to Boston. Joe says I could make a hit there. He writes me about the theaters, and he says he sees any amount of girls on the stage who can't hold a candle to me. Now, that may sound conceited, but I'm only telling what he writes. He says, too, that lots of them can't sing a bit better than me, and if--" "She's just plumb loony about the stage," rasped old Simon disgustedly. She thinks it and talks it and dreams it all the time. She's cut out all the picters of actresses and actors from the magazines, and framed them passypatoot, and plastered the walls of her room with

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ETHEL VANE 123 'em. I offered to let her git a job over at one of the Beach hotels, but she--" "Think I'm going to wait on tables? scoffed the girl disdainfully. Never I I've got higher aspirations than that. Some day I'll show the pokey people around here something. They can't always keep me buried here." Well, I must be going," said the doctor, who for some moments had been seeking an oppor tunity to get away. She followed him outside after he had bidden them good-day, and checked him with a hand on his sleeve as he was about to get into his carriage. "Tell me, doctor," she urged, in a low tone, after a hasty glance over her shoulder to make sure her father had not followed them out, tell me about old Mr. Bruce. Is it really serious?" "It is, indeed; I'm afraid his days of usefulness are over." "You-you saw-Will Bruce, of course?" "Yes, I saw him and had a long talk with him." What did he have to say? What can he do now? Will he go back to college in the fall? Really, I don't know, Miss Vane Will is a fine fellow, and it will be a shame if he is com pelled to give up college now. Still, I don't see how they are going to get along unless he stays home to look after the family." "Now, that's what I call hard luck," breathed the girl. I know just how he'll feel, and I'm

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124 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD awful sorry for him. I didn't dare ask questions before paw, but I was just dying to find out. You know, Will and I used to-we were-he was sort of sweet on me before the old folks had that fuss." She was stammering and hesi tating, giggling a bit, her cheeks bright with warm color. I shall be sorry for the boy if he does find it necessary to abandon his plans for finishing his education," said the doctor, repressing a smile and speaking gravely. I do hope it won't turn out that bad. I've watched from my window, but I haven't got as much as a peep at him since he came home. Father'd kill me; but, just the same, if I do get a chance, I shall tell Will that he has my sym pathy." She watched the doctor driving down the road, and sighed. When he had vanished she cast a timid glance in the direction of the Bruce home stead, and sighed again; after which she turned and reluctantly re-entered the dim and dingy old store.

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CHAPTER XVI JENNIE AT an early hour on the following morning, Bill Bruce, in working clothes, crossed the road from his home to the dingy old blacksmith shop, and opened up with an air that plainly bespoke busi ness. He flung the door wide, hung his coat on a black peg, and started a fire in the forge. From his stricken father he had learned what unfinished work remained to be completed, and he was there to at it. Simon Vane, opening his store for the day, heard the clang of hammer and anvil coming from beyond the towering board fence, and twisted his face into an unpleasant grin as he muttered: So ye've gone at it, have ye I Well, I ruther guess you'll stay right there and keep at it for several years to come, instid of gallivanting off to college, if you want to keep the roof over the old folks' heads." Seth Benson, the stage driver, passing on his way to Limeport, hearing the rhythmic beat of the hammer, twisted round on his seat to look through the open door into the cavern-like gloom of the shop, and to catch a fleeting glimpse of a 125

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126 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD brawny, bare-armed young Vulcan in the glow of a white-hot iron, from which sparks flew in pyrotechnic showers at every blow. Bruce continued steadily and cheerfully at his work as the morning advanced, without so much as one regretful glance at the smiling, sunny world outside. He could not whistle while wielding the heavy hammer, but he did so at intervals when pumping the forge bellows. Lis tening to those lively snatches of melody from his pursed lips, one might never have dreamed that there could be anything of sadness in his heart; yet he had lately suffered a blow which appar ently had destroyed all his bright plans for the future, and had blighted his prospects in a breath. He had talked it over with his mother, who had insisted on discussing the matter in spite of her bravely suppressed grief over the calamity that had befallen the man to whom she had given her heart long years before, and to whom she had stood fast through all the vicissitudes of life. He had caressed and consoled her with the tenderness of a strong, self-sacrificing nature; and when she had spoken to him of the bitterness of being balked just when the goal of his youthful am bitions lay within his grasp, he had checked her with a bit of her own philosophy, saying that all things come right for them who wait and trust." At twilight, with a robin calling outside the open window, through which came a breeze that

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JENNIE 127 moved the muslin curtains and swept across the stricken man's bed, bringing the scent of bloom ing things from the little flower garden, the father had called his son. When Bill responded and stood looking down upon the time-marked face and the head of iron-gray that rested on the white pillow, old Duncan asked feebly and anxiously: Well, lad, what will ye do now? Don't worry about that or about anything, father," was the answer, as the tall young fellow stooped and gently grasped the horny hand that lay on the coverlet. I wondered how I could make the best of the summer, and now I know. I shall take the shop and run it until you get out again for work." And what if I shouldna get oot at all, Willwhat then? I think I can keep the old shop open, father. You know I've picked up something of the work at odd times while helping you, and you told me once that I could turn a horseshoe and set it as well as any man." "But how aboot college, lad? Ye canna gi' that up." "Why not? I'll not be the first chap who's wished to through college and found it im possible. A college education is a good thing, but a ma:n can get through the world and succeed without it." And here was Bill, on this bright morning,

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128 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD manfully taking up the work that lay before him, and putting to rout the torturing imp of regret by whistling at the forge. In his humble best at Cambridge he had appeared awkward and plain; but now, in soiled working clothes and shiny leather apron, his fine arms bared, muscular, and browned by the suns and winds of many a base ball field, his awkw ardness seemed magically changed to strong, manly grace, and his plain ness gave way before an indescribable something that made him truly handsome. Some three hours after the shop was opened, his sister Jennie, a thin little wisp of a creature with large brown eyes in which there lurked a pathetic suggestion of pain, came hopping across from the house, with the aid of a single crutch, followed by a bleating pet lamb. Bruce, having just completed the task of setting a tire upon the wheel of an old road wagon, looked up as a shadow appeared in the doorway, and discovered her. Hello, N en I he cried, using the pet name that she had manufactured for herself when she was still lisping as she talked. I was begin ning to wonder if you had forgotten me entirely. Come in-come in I Here's a nice clean piece of board I'll put on this box, so you may sit down to rest without soiling your dress. This shop is a dirty place for a clean little girl." "Mother told me I'd better stay away and not bother you, Will," she said, gravely accepting the

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JENNIE 129 seat he had prepared, and leaning the crutch against her knee; but I got tired and lone some playing with Nanny, and I heard you ham mering and whistling, and I just had to come." I'm glad you did," he said, for, on my word, I was getting a bit lonesome myself." Oh, were you truly-and won't I bother you at all? Do you get lonesome? Isn't it an awful bad feeling to have? "Awful," he admitted, nodding with mock seriousness. It's almost as bad as the mumps." It's worse-lots worse," she hastened to de clare. Sometimes it just makes me feel ready to die. Only for Nanny, I believe I never could have lived through the spring till you got home again, Will." His eyes glowed, and he would have caressed her, had not his hands been black with grime. "And were you really longing for me to come home? he asked, his deep voice soft with feel ing. Dear little N en I" "I'm awful glad you've come, Will. Nobody talks to me same as you do. Father didn't like me to come here ; it seemed to bother him, some how. Mother always is busy, and she sends me outdoors, 'cause the doctor he says I ought to get the air a lot, and never stay in the house only when I'm tired or the weather is bad. Last year I had a pet crow, but a bad boy shot I had a chicken and Nanny this spring; but the chicken died, and only Nanny is left. I can

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130 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD talk to Nanny; but a lamb can't talk back, and lots of times I get just hungry for something that can talk back to me." Although his lips were smiling, there was a mist in the eyes of Bill Bruce. He knew all about the pangs of loneliness; for during his first weeks at college he had often talked to the bare walls of his room, and to the tintype picture of his unfortunate crippled sister, feeling hungry for someone to talk back to him. The cosset timidly remained outside the door, bleating distressfully for its mistress, who sought in vain to entice it to enter. When Bill would have brought the lamb in, it ran away, shaking its head with something like defiance, although it continued to call plaintively. "Nanny gets lonesome, too," said Jennie. Sometimes she just really seems to cry, and I hate awful to leave her alone. But I don't think it would be so hard for me if I wasn't lame; if I could run and play same as a lamb can, I'm sure I wouldn't get so lonesome." Bill brought another box, 'ctnd sat down near her. "It won't hurt me to rest a few minutes," he said, and I haven't had half a chance to talk with you, N en, since coming home. I've only one more job on hand; I've got to repair that mowing machine yonder; but it won't take an hour. Father's being taken ill so unexpectedly has upset everything, and I know I've neglected you shamefully, sis."

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JENNIE 11311 "Oh, no," she retorted quickly, with a serious shake of her head and an air that made her seem far too old for her years; I think I understand how it was, Will. It has been just terrible for mother, and I didn't seem to know the right words to tell her how I felt and how sorry I was. My being lame doesn't make so much difference, you know, for I'm only a little girl and there's no one depending on me; but it does seem awful to have father taken down all at once, and to hear the doctor say that maybe he'll have to stay in bed for ever and ever so long. Last night I prayed for him to get well soon, Will. I've been praying for God to cure me from being lame and make me like other girls and boys who have two good legs and can go to school and have so much fun; but last night in my prayer I told Him I'd never ask no more favors for my self if He'd only cure my father soon, and I tried to have faith that He'd do it, for the minister says we must have faith when we pray." Bill turned his head aside and coughed; and his fingers, hastily brushed across his face, left two smutty streaks beneath his eyes. I hope," he said, his voice oddly choked, that your prayer may be answered, N en; and I hope, also, that some day you may be well and strong, so that you can go to school and have as much fun as other children." Oh, do you think there's really any chance

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132 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD for that?" cried the child eagerly, her thin fingers intertwined. Yes, I think so. In these times there are great doctors who perform wonderful cures." "Well, Dr. Tinker said I might be helped by a specialist, though he wasn't sure I could be cured so that I wouldn't be lame at all; but I'd be just as happy if I could get so I wouldn't have to use a crutch, even if I did limp some. The doctor said it would cost an awful lot of money, and we haven't got that." Perhaps some of our wealthy relatives may leave us a legacy yet," jested Bill laughingly. "We'd have some money we wouldn't be so awful poor, if it wasn't for the trouble with Mr. Vane. I've heard father and mother talk about it when they thought me asleep, and now when I see Mr. Vane I have a feeling right here that makes me sick, and I turn my head away and won't look at him. He hates us all, Will; but Ethel doesn't, for she told me so herself. "Ethel I" breathed Bruce, color mounting slowly into his freckled cheeks. I don't believe she is bad, brother," said the child. One day I was down by the brook toss ing little stones into the water, and she came and saw me and sat down near me and talked a long time. When I told her I got lonesome she said she did, too; and she said she'd die if she had to stay here at Fogg's Corners much longer. She said her father and our father were crazy to fuss

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JENNIE over a little bit of land and go to court and let the lawyers get so much money out of them. She said it was a shame for neighbors to be enemies." Bill was listening with keen interest. As Jen nie paused, he urged her to go on. She asked me to promise not to tell that she had taiked with me like that; but I did tell mother, and mother said I mustn't mention it to father. She asked me lots of questions-all about you and how you were getting along at college." Did she? Yes; and she said she was glad you were doing well, for she had always liked you a lot." "Did she say that?" Oh, yes, indeed. She was awfully nice, Will, though she did say she hated the Corners and would never come back here as long as she lived if she ever got away. There's mother calling! She caught up her crutch and hopped away to the door, answering the call of her mother; while Bill, with a long, deep breath, arose and resumed his labor at forge and anvil.

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CHAPTER XVII BILL GETS A BIT OF ADVICE SHORTLY before midday Gideon Philbrook drove up to the open door of the blacksmith shop and, leaving his horse standing without being hitched, stalked in, discovering Bill banking the forge fire before leaving for dinner. Philbrook was a farmer and horse-trader; but his devotion to the latter fascinating occupation made such inroads upon his time that there was little left for sow ing or reaping, and while he was devoting his days to the thrifty accomplish1'1ent of working off a spavined ten-dollar nag in exchange for one with ring-bone or glanders, worth perchance some two or three dollars more, his fences were sagging, his truck patch running to weeds, and his long un, painted buildings falling into decay and ruin. He1-lo I" he grunted, with an intonation of surprise, as he discerned the tall young man at the forge. Didn't s'pect to find nobody here. What be you doin'? "How do you do, Mr. Philbrook!" nodded Bill, having turned and recognized the man. I'm running the shop now." Be ye? Sn um if 'tain't Will I Didn't know ye was home. Heard your old man was took with 134

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BILL GETS A BIT OF ADVICE 135 a stroke and wouldn't never be able to do no more work, so I come round on my way to Limeport to see if 'twarn't possible to hitch my road wagon on behind and haul it over there to have the tire set." You'll find the tire set already, sir." You don't say I Why, I left the wagon day before yisterday, and I heard your father was took the same day. Thought mebbe he didn't have a chance to do the job before he got that stroke." "He didn't; I set the tire myself this morning." "Wall, I declare! So you've jest pulled off your co't and gone right at it I Didn't s'pose work of this sort would agree with ye sence you've got to goin' to a high-tone college. Understood you was goin' to study to be a doctor or lawyer, or some sort of perfessional man that don't have to do no kind of manual labor. Us hard-workin' folks have to scratch gravel year in and year out to make both ends meet; but, for one, I ain't envious; and I s'pose I've said more'n fifty times that I'd be glad to see ye do well and git inter somethin' where you could make a good livin' 'thout havin' to work for it." Your good wishes are much appreciated, Mr. Philbrook; but I have never expected or desired to get along without labor, and I am sure that most successful professional men have to work hard." Uh-hum I coughed Gideon doubtfully. Mebbe so-mebbe so I But the kind of work

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136 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD they do sartin won't never raise many blisters. I s'pose you took holt to finish up the jobs your father had left on hand? Yes, and to take care of any further work that may come in. As a favor, Mr. Philbrook, I wish you would let people know that Bruce's black smith shop will be open, and that they'll find me here to attend to the work they may bring in." "I vuml So you're goin' to run the shop right along, be ye? Wall-wall! But how about goin' back to finish up at college? I may not be able to return to college at all. It seems doubtful if I can; for the doctor gives little hope that father will ever be able to take up his trade again." Mr. Philbruok walked over and critically ex amined the reset tire upon his wagon. "It seems to be all right," he admitted, in answer to an inquiry from Bill; "but of course you can't be expected to do as well as the old man-you ain't had the experience. How much is it?" When told that the bill was seventy-five cents, Gideon slowly and reluctantly dug a flat, thin purse from his trousers, and spent a great deal of time in fishing a quarter, three dimes, two nickels and seven pennies from the receptacle. He counted the money over in his palm several times. I guess that's nigh enough," he finally said, dumping the change into the young smith's hand.

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BILL GETS A BIT OF ADVICE 137 It's a pretty stiff price for such a small job, any how. Now, if you'll help me run her out, I'll hitch her on behind and take her home, instid of drivin' over to Limeport t'day." Bruce assisted the man at the task, and saw him on his way before going to dinner. His mother met him at the door as he entered, and he greeted her with a smiling face. Just coming to call ye, lad," she said. Having already washed some of the dirt from his hands in the tempering tub, he gave her a caress and a kiss, called cheerily to Jennie, and then completed his ablutions at the kitchen sink, with plenty of warm water and soap. Before sit ting down to eat he stepped in to see his father for a few moments, and told the sick man how easy he had found the work at the shop, and how much he had enjoyed it. Perhaps no one in that household-not even his mother-felt the misfortune and sorrow of what had happened more keenly than did Bill; yet he declined to wear a long face, and when he entered it seemed that he brought with him much of the bright sun shine of that smiling June day. After he had gravely said grace and was par taking of the simple fare, Bill talked of his fore noon in the shop as though it had been one of the pleasantest in his whole experience; and there was something so infectious in his cheerful bend ing of the neck to the yoke that his mother was heartened and Jennie became almost gay.

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138 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Barely had Bill returned to the shop when a little, bald-headed, fussy old man drove up to the door and called him without getting out of the top buggy in which he sat. "You're Dunc Bruce's boy, eh?" said the man, surveying him quickly from head to feet. I belong in White Springs, and I generally git my blacksmithing done in Limeport; but I don't want to drive over there to-day, and my hoss has cast a shoe Tobias Sprowl said he had heard you was running the shop since your father was took down, and I thought I'd see if you could set this shoe for me. Here 'tis." I think I can do the job all right, Mr. Hefflin," assured Bruce, as the man held up the horse shoe for inspection. He assisted in unhitching the animal and lead ing it into the shop, listening the while to the little man's fretful complaint about the careless ness and incompetence of most blacksmiths. The work of resetting the shoe was done in an unhesi tating manner that soon convinced the patron that the young smith was no novice. Two broken nails were removed from the hoof, which was pared and prepared for the shoe that was burned into its setting and deftly nailed, each nail being properly turned out. broken, and finally rasped off smooth. --" Well, well," said the patron, when the task was over and the bill paid, I guess you ain't so green at this. Never pricked the critter once,

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BILL GETS A BIT OF ADVICE 139 and never started a single nail wrong. I lost one mighty good hoss from bad shoeing, and I've been partic'lar ever sence. Lige Drew, over to Lime port, is a good blacksmith when he's sober; but lately you never can tell if you'll find him sober or not, and I'm gettin' ruther sick of foolin' with him. It's full as nigh to come here as 'tis to go there, and hereafter I may have more or less work for you. Sorry to hear about your father. Hope he'll pull out of it all right." This patron had not long departed when another with a horse that needed to be shod all round, saying that he had been sent by Gideon Philbrook. Bill was kept busy on this job until the afternoon was well on the wane. He found a breathing spell at last, and fancied him self quite alone until, a pungent, aromatic odor drifting to his nostrils, he looked up and dis covered, standing in the doorway, a flat-chested young man in swagger apparel, hands in trousers pockets, cigarette pendulate from moistened lower lip. Although fully two years had passed since their last meeting, on which well-remembered occasion the other had worn the soiled, ill-fitting clothes of a slouchy country youth, Bill instantly recognized his visitor. In some doubt he waited, how ever, for Joe Vane to speak. Ah, there, Will, old sport I said the grocer's son, with a friendly grin, his cigarette bobbing with each word. Guess you don't know me."

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140 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD "Oh, yes, I do, Joe," returned Bruce, al though I must admit that you have changed some since I saw you last." Well, I should guess yes," nodded Vane. I've got some of the hayseed out of my hairthat's what! I've knocked around a bit since then, and I've seen a lot of real life. But you look just about the same; you haven't changed much, though you are some older." Despite the enmity between the two families, young Vane assumed a familiar, conciliatory man ner, although he did not offer to shake hands with Bruce. "I didn't know you were home, Joe," said Bill. "Just sifted in to-day. Gave the old folks and sis a surprise party. Kind of expected they'd slaughter the fatted calf and make merry; but, on my word, I got the cold shoulder from the whole outfit except Ethel. The old lady didn't have much to say; but the governor growled like a dog with a sore ear, and said he s'posed I'd come home to loaf around and eat up all the profits he could make in his business. Nice reception, that!" He finished with a scornful laugh. -"It must have been unpleasant," observed Bruce, by way of saying something. It was rotten I said Joe cheerfully. My old man's getting grouchier every day." He won't like it if he finds out you've come here and talked with me." Then let him lump it. He's been dead a long

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BILL GETS A BIT OF ADVICE 141 time, though he don't know it. I'm not consulting a corpse about my actions. Ethel tells me your old gent is benched for keeps, and that you've started to carry on the shop. Now that's tough cheese." "My father has had a stroke of paralysis." Hard luck, old man. That won't knock you out of college, will it? "I hope not, but it may." Gee whiz I That'll be a bumper. And you've just got to coming in baseball I" How do you know about that?" I read the newspapers, my boy-the sportin' pages, anyhow. They had lots to say about the way you walloped it to Yale. I was proud of you, Bill. Told everybody you was an old friend and schoolmate of mine. Have a cigarette? Snapping the butt aside, he produced a box of cigarettes and extended it toward Bruce. "Thank you," said Bill; "I don't smoke." "Don't? Thought all college guys did. I don't much, myself-not more'n eight or ten packs a day." This statement was made with an air of pride as he struck a match and lighted up. "But you always was an odd duck," he added. Ever hear of Tim Dugan? Don't think I ever have. Who is he?" Friend of mine, and the slickest backstop that ever stood behind the pan. Brought him down with me. Going to get .him a job in the league. It opens next week, you know; and they say they're going to have a swift bunch over at the

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142 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Beach. Bill Bannon is getting together a team to eat 'em up, and I hear he's paying all kinds of money. Say, why don't you get into the league? You can make more ducats playing baseball this summer than you can running this old shop a year." "Perhaps that's true," admitted Bill; "but it's against rules, and I'd make myself a professional if I played for money. I couldn't ever pitch again on my college team." "Aw, say, that's a musty one! I've heard it before. Everybody knows that half the college men who are any good at it play summer baseball for money. If they're a bit slick they can get away with it, and never slip a cog." Whoever does it is dishonest; he has to lie and deceive." "That don't keep 'em awake nights. Lyin' comes easy to nine men out of ten. It's a rotten rule, anyhow. Why shouldn't a man who can play baseball make a dollar out of it if he gets a chance?" "I won't enter into a discussion on that point," said Bruce. The rule stands, and it can't be dodged-honestly. If I should ever play summer baseball for money, I'd never pitch again for Harvard, whether I was branded as a profes sional or not. My conscience wouldn't let me." Vane shrugged his narrow shoulders. You wanter chloroform that conscience," he sneered, permitting a thin blue haze of smoke to dribble

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BILL GETS A BIT OF ADVICE 143 from his mouth as he spoke. It'll interfere with your sccess in life. I've found out that the guys who get away with the goods don't set up nights soothin' their consciences. If you'll take the trouble to investigate, I'll bet you'll find several college men playin' in the Pine Tree League under fake names this season." Let them do it, if they wish. I shall not." Vane observed two persons passing the shop. "There's Dugan walkin' with Ethel," he said. He's taken a great shine to her, and she likes to hear him tell about the city. She's dotty on the city, you know; and I'll stake my pile she flies the coop some day. I want you to meet Dugan." He hailed the man with Ethel, who excused himself without lifting his hat, and came saunter ing toward the shop, while the girl walked on, with a lingering backward glance. "Tim," said Joe, with a flourish of his hand, "I want you to know my friend Bruce-Bill Bruce, the Harvard pitcher that trimmed Yale this year." Dugan, a tough-looking young man with a bullet head, surveyed Bruce from top to toe, nodding in acknowledgment of the introduction. Is dis der gazabe? he asked, with an intona tion of surprise. He don't look much like dem college mu ts." "Oh, Bill is one of the plain people," said Vane, with a grin. He can pull off his sweater and get busy with work, even if he is a college man. And he can pitch ball, too, I reckon :

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144 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD He's rangy enough," admitted Dugan, "but I never did have no use fer college players. Dere was t'ree of 'em on der Whitingsville team last year, and dey made me sick playin' to der grand stand and mashin' der ladies. I can pick a bunch of has-been perf essionals dat can trim any college team in der country." Bill laughed good-naturedly. If you'll look through your big professional teams," he said, you'll discover lots of fast men who learned the fine points of the game at college." "Nit!" denied Dugan. "Dem fellers was players before dey ever seen a college. I know what I'm talkin' about. Der colleges is all der time pikin' round fer new material, an' w'en dey spots a promisin' man dey rakes him in an' pays his tuition an' board, an' fixes it so he can slide t'rough easy on his playin'. An' den dey makes rules about perfessionals I It was Joe Vane's turn to laugh. What did I tell you, Bruce?" he cried. "It's a crooked game all the way, and you're a lobster if you let the wool be pulled over your eyes. Wake up and get what's coming to you, same as other folks. If you've got any appetite for baseball, you're a fool to stay here in this dirty old shop, slaving like a dog while you might be making four times as much money playing the game I A few minutes later Vane and Dugan departed, leaving Bill Bruce to meditate in doubt and per plexity on a most disturbing thought.

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CHAPTER XVIII THE WORM IN THE BUD LATE in the afternoon Bill discovered the doc tor's turnout in the yard across the road, and the doctor just coming from the house, medicine case in hand. He hurried over to ask about his father, and was disappointed when he learned that as yet there were few signs of improvement. "You can't expect it as soon as this, Will," said the medicine man. He'll be in bed for some time." Is there any hope that he will ever fully re cover, doctor? There's a chance, although he'll never be the man he was before." Bruce returned to the shop, thinking of his father as he had known him-a powerful, raw boned man, a stranger to bodily ills, hard and unyielding as his own anvil, fixed and immovable in every conviction and belief. Especially set and stern had old Duncan been upon religion, steeped to the core in the old-fashioned hell-fire brand, and satisfied beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was the only kind that could save any man from eternal damnation'. In Bill's boyhood this religion had seemed a terrible and terrifying thing, at which he shuddered and revolted, in 145

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146 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD spite of himself and his fear that such shrinking was akin to the unpardonable sin. Nevertheless, as he grew older, his av._ersion was intensified, and it was almost remarkable that the fanatical old man did not succeed in driving his only son into the abyss of atheism or infidelity. But now his affliction had chastened and changed Duncan in a wonderful way, and the man who had seemed to be of adamant was soft ened and altered until Bill's heart bled for him. When the first day of work in the shop was done, Bill ate supper with his mother and sister, listening while Mrs. Bruce told of the neighbors who had called to inquire concerning the sick man and to express sympathy for him and for the family. "They all spoke o' ye, lad," she said. Most o' them were anxious to know wad ye ha' to leave college, and someway I couldna help thinkin' that some wad be glad if ye did. It may be un Christian o' me, but the gude Lord knows I couldna help thinkin' it." "They needn't worry themselves about me, mother," said Bill, laughing. "Whether I go through college or not, Heaven giving me health and strength, I'll make my way in the world, and I'll not see want come to anyone who is near and dear to me." She smiled, a mist in her eyes, and said, for the hundredth time since his return home: A gude boy-a bonnie lad to cheer any mother's heart!"

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THE WORM IN THE BUD 1147 He sat awhile at his father's bedside and read, at old Duncan's request, the one hundred and seventh psalm. At times .the lips of the afflicted man moved gently as though in whispered prayer, while the words of the Psalmist fell upon his ear: 0 give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath re deemed from the hand of the enemy Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affiiction and iron." "Ay, ay, that is richt, lad," interrupted old Duncan. When ye are young and strong an' well, ye dinna think o' the day when ye maun sit in darkness wi' the shadder o' death nigh upon ye; but the day maun come to a' men born o' woman, an' then it is well if he ha' the comfort o' the Word. Read on, lad." Because they rebelled against the words of God, and condemned the council of the Most High: Therefore He brought down their hearts with labor; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bonds in sunder. Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

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148 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Even so," said old Duncan, with perfect faith, even so I ha' cried unto Him, an' He ha' hearkened an' wi' bring me out o' darkness and the shadow o death. Ye maunna rebel agen the word o' God, lad." In the deepening twilight, with the dewy smells of evening in his nostrils, and the hopeful, uplift ing words of the Psalmist still echoing within his soul, Bill walked slowly down the road to the old bridge that spanned the alder-lined stream, whose every careless curve and placid pool and tinkling miniature waterfall was well remem bered by him. Truly, he thought, the change that had come upon his father was marvelous to the verge of inspiring awe; and he no longer felt resentment or rebellion against a faith that could sustain and soothe in the extremity when human aid seemed to be helpless. At the bridge he leaned on the railing, and looked down at the mirrored stars in the tiny deep hole where as a boy he had fished for chubs, with an alder branch for a pole, a piece of string serving as a line, and a bent pin in place of a hook. The brook, which clamored over its rocky bed in early spring, had dwindled to a mere thread, that whispered here and there amid the stones and reflected bits of starlight at inter vals, until it was lost in the shadows of its crowd ing bushy banks. Something led Bill down to the edge of the

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THE WORM IN THE BUD 149 stream where, near some bushes, he found the rock on which he had often sat in the heat of summer days and dangled his bare feet in the cool pellucid pool. He sat there once more, thinking somewhat sadly of the changes time had wrought -of his boyish dreams and longings; of his lonely, heart-burning eagerness for the day to come when he would turn his back on Fogg's Corners and go out over the Dixfield Hills into the living, luring world of magic and mystery which lay beyond that horizon-blotting barrier. That day had come; but now he was back, to stay; how long-Heaven alone could decide. His heart swelled into rebellion within him the old fierce rebellion against his lot that had so of ten tortured the boy, whose heart was filled with horror lest his life should mean no more than the lives of the contented, narrow-souled plodders amid whom he found himself; and who had many times stretched out his yearning hands to the cold horizon and the pitiless hills, as a prisoner, perishing for freedom, beats against the iron bars of his wretched cell. He fell to meditating on Joe Vane's words. That not a few college men made a handsome thing by playing summer baseball he knew, and he doubted the wisdom or justice of the rule which br..anded all such men as pro"fessionals; but still he could never bring himself to violate the rule and continue-a hypocrite and a liar-to play with the varsity nine.

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150 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD He had long looked forward to the glorious day when he should be recognized as a regular member of his college nine, and that day had come in spite of all bringing with it the full measure of pride and joy, without in the least destroying his natural modesty; but now the worm was in the bud, for harsh Fate had put forth an iron hand, with a threat to bar him from further advance along that road. He might hammer the long summer days away in the old blacksmith shop; but his labor there could bring him barely sufficient money to take care of the family and to pay the doctor's bills, and, with the mortgage suspended like the sword of Damocles over his head, what hope was there that he would be able to return to Harvard when September came? Should he play summer baseball, beyond doubt he could save enough from his salary to meet every demand and take him through another term of college. But never again could he wear a Harvard uniform. For him no more the suspense, the uncertainty, the fears, the hopes, the fierce joys, the bitter disappointments in fight ing for the Crimson. For him no more the blood electrifying thrill in the cheering of the Harvard hosts, gone mad with happiness over his work upon the slab. He had thirsted for a college education; but, now that he had tasted the sweet cup of success in college baseball, he was, though strong of soul,

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THE WORM IN THE BUD 151 like one made more than willing captive by a subtle and potent drug. Never again could Cam bridge hold contentment for him, were he deliber ately to sell himself for that which would rob him of his birthright-that which, though tempting now, he knew full well must some day seem to be a miserable mess of pottage. The darkness deepened as he sat there, pos sessed by these thoughts; the stars grew clearer and more plentiful in the sky, and a whippoor will called plaintively from the border of the alder-lined stream. He was aroused by the sound of voices. Two persons had come down the road to gether, stopped upon the bridge, and stood a mo ment by the rail above his head. Neither saw him seated on that stone, a blacker shadow than that of the bushes at his back; but, looking up ward, he beheld them outlined against the stars. I guess I won't walk any farther," said the voice of Ethel Vane. Ezra Benson, who lives in the next house, keeps an ugly old dog; and, besides, I must get back in a hurry, or I'll have father in my hair. He wouldn't stand for me strolling after dark with a stranger." "Aw, w'at's der matter wit' der old guy?" laughed Tim Dugan. "Does he want ter keep you chained up like a kid? You ain't no kid; you're old enough to be let loose before you break the halter. Besides, I ain't no stranger; I'm your brother's pal, an' Joe will give it to

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152 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD you straight dat I'm on der level. As I was spielin' to you, you're certainly all the candy. Just t'row a few glad rags on you and turn you loose on Tremont Street any Saturday afternoon, and you'll have every skirt on der row pea-green wit' jealousy, an' all der Willie boys catchin' cramps in deir necks from rubberin' : Dis forsaken hole ain't no place fer a peach like you-why, it ain't on der map I" The girl sighed. I'm not going to stay here much longer," she said. I've stood it about as long as I can. Really, I must get back to the house." Bill Bruce was choked with indignation at the thought of Joe Vane throwing his unsophisti cated sister into the company of a man like Dugan, whose manners and language marked him for what he was-the coarse, illiterate product of the city's slums. He arose from the rock and climbed back to the road as the murmur of their voices died in the distance, and fol lowed slowly until his home was reached. When he turned into his own yard, the dim, yellowish light from the window of Simon Van e's store revealed three figures on the steps of the building; and he caught the sound of Ethel's remon strating voice, mingled with the chaffing laughter of her brother. Again he felt like kicking Joe Vane. Jennie had gone to bed. After making sure that there was nothing he could do for his father,

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THE WORM IN THE BUD 153 Bill, bearing a small kerosene lamp in his hand, mounted the stairs to his own little old room under the eaves. It was a plain yet comfortable room, with a dormer window that looked out on the small orchard below and on the blue Dixfield Hills far away. There was an old rag carpet on the floor; a high-posted bed, immaculately clean; a chair, a stand, and the combined bookcase and writing desk that he had made with his own hands, one winter long ago. There were his tat tered school books, Prescott's Conquest of Mexico," a "History of Mormonism," Fox's Book of Martyrs," two or three volumes of travels, and the one novel he had ever owned, David Copperfield." Drawing the window shade, he sat down once more in that familiar room; and for the moment it seemed that he was yet a boy, and that the many experiences through which he had passed since going away to school and college were no more than a continuation of his boyish dreams. He closed his eyes, and again he was on Soldiers' Field, pitching in the first great game against Yale, when he had been called upon to fill the breach made by the failure of Harvard's star slabman. He felt the heart-quivering thrill, the awful tension on his nerves, the delicious joy of getting command of himself and believing that he was equal to the emergency. Then he turned dizzy with sheer happiness, as

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154 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD once more he lived over that great ninth inning, and seemed to hear still echoing in his ears Harvard's mad yell of elation when he hit Powell's hot bender through the chosen opening and sent it cutting a swath of daisies in the right field, while Hastings raced home from second with the winning tally. That, in truth, had been a red letter day in his career. No," he whispered, fixed at last in his determination-fixed as the eternal hills, I'll play no summer baseball for money, as long as there re mains the shadow of a hope that without doing so I may finish my course at Harvard I After a time he began glancing over his books. On the tattered fly-leaf of the old "Third Reader he found something written in pencil, and he smiled as he recognized the crude girlish chirography as Ethel's. He continued to smile, though a bit sadly, as he read the lines, lacking in originality, but sincere enough, he fancied, when they were penciled there: If you love me as I love you, No knife can cut our love in two. Instantly memory pictured her as she had been at that time-a shy, modest little flaxen-haired reed of a girl, in calico and heavy high shoes which she detested. He remembered the day when he found those lines written in his book, and how all through the long afternoon session that followed he had tried to make her look at

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THE WORM IN THE BUD 155 him, which she did at last, blushing like fire beneath his eyes, and running away when school was out, so that he could not walk home with her and carry her books and slate, as he sometimes did. But now, somehow, he felt that she was changed, greatly changed-or was it he himself who had changed? He put aside the Third Reader" and took up "David Copperfield," the wonderful book which he had read in secret, in order to avoid the dis pleasure of his stern old father, who abominated all novels as sinful, wicked lies, and works of Satan." He recalled his poignant grief over the pathetic story of Little Em'ly and Steerforth, that splendid youth whom he had admired and abhorred at one and the same time. And now his flitting fancy made him think of Ethel as Little Em'ly, and of himself as the faithful Ham; when he sought to place Tim Dugan in Steer forth's shoes, the whole thing became so ludi crously incongruous that he laughed aloud. He read a bit until his eyelids drooped; then he went to bed and slept soundly, with no dream to warn him that Ethel's Steerforth was soon to chance across her path.

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CHAPTER XIX THE MYSTERIOUS PITCHER BILL was whistling Up the Street" and beating time with the hammer upon a piece of red-hot iron, when Joe Vane came strutting into the shop, followed by Tim Dugan. The clothes of both were dust-laden, while their faces were flushed; and there was in the look and manner of each something that led the young smith to believe that they had been drinking. "Hello, old Plug-at-it!" cried Vane familiarly. Hammer your head off, if you want to; but you ought to be getting tired of it by this time. I've known campaign orators, a-tryin' to ketch votes, to give a spiel about the dignity of labor; but 'most every one of 'em had a shine on the seat of his trousers, an' mighty few callouses on his hands. It's all right to do manual labor if you can't raise the price of a meal ticket no other way; but nowadays you don't find nobody except immigrants and country Jakes and chumps earnin' their livin' by the sweat of their brows. People that really amount to anything find some easier way to reap the long green." "Sure, me boy," agreed Dugan. "A man is a dub ter work w'en he can duck it. Gimme a light, Joe."

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THE MYSTERIOUS PITCHER 157 Vane produced a handsome silver match safe, which was attached to one end of the showy double watch-chain strung across his fancy vest, and handed over some matches to his companion, who relighted a half-smoked cigar. You won't have to smoke butts after next week, Tim," cried Joe boisterously. I kinder thought I could land ye all right with Bill Ban non." He turned to Bruce. Dugan's goiri' to have a try-out behind the bat for the Beach," he explained. I landed him, and he'll de liver the goods. He'll be the makin' of the team; for it takes an experienced backstop to handle young pitchers and get the best work out of 'em. You oughter know what it means to have a good man on the receivin' end." With a pair of grimy tongs the young smith seized the now dully glowing piece of hammered iron, and thrust it hissing into a half barrel of dark water. An odor suggestive of burning sulphur rose with the tiny cloud of steam, and smothered that other odor of liquor which seemed to ooze from the visitors. "Mr. Dugan is in luck," said Bill, by way of being agreeable. "Nit!" wheezed Dugan modestly. "It's his nibs, der manager over at der Beach, dat's in luck. W'y, he owned dat he was up against it for a catcher, an' he was even t'inkin' of givin) a high school kid a try at it. I'll show the J oshuays in dis hayseed league a few stunts be-

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158 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD hind der pan dat'll make 'em set up and take notice." Vane was rolling a cigarette, a trick which he performed with the deftness of one in perfect practice. Now, don't you get the idee that this league is goin' to be made up of hayseeds, Tim," he cautioned, a bit resentfully, 'cause you'll fool yerself if ye do. They'll be a lot of scrappy youngsters on the teams, and some of em'll be sure to git inter fast perfessional comp'ny later on. Bannon tole me he'd picked up a bunch of the swiftest college players in the country, in cludin' one great college pitcher that was gain' to draw a fancy salary and live in swell style at the Sagamore. Say, Will, you're a chump to do this sort of dirty, sweaty, lonesome, back-breakin' work for the few measly ducats you can pick up at it, when you might be pullin' a fat envelope every week and havin' a snap, and no end of fun, playin' baseball. I can't see what you're a-think in' of." Bill smiled grimly. Perhaps you're right, Joe," he admitted; "but I have my reasons. Who is this great college pitcher? "It's a secret, and Bannon wouldn't tell his name. All he'd say was that the man was fast enough for the big leagues, and the Beach was dead lucky ter nail him. I'll bet he draws a fancy salary; fer they've raised a bi g sum by sub scription this year, and they say they're gain' ter

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THE MYSTERIOUS PITCHER 159 scoop the pennant at any old price. If you'd went after this place you might 'a' got it your self, Bill, my boy-who knows?" Perhaps so, but I never could have pitched on my college team again." "Aw, rats I" sneered Dugan, leaning against the tool bench and making a slight miscalcula tion as to the distance, which caused him to bring up with a shock and an oath. "It's a ten-ter-one shot dis man Bannon's signed is fixed der same way you are; but you bet your bones dat won't badder him none. He'll be handin' 'em up fer his college team next spring, jest der same; an' nobody'll never make no holler about it. Dey all do it, young feller, an' you're a chump dat you don't git inter der game." What's the dif' 'twixt playin' summer base ball for a salary and playin' college baseball for yer board and expenses, and mebbe a-gittin' some thin' more through advertisin' privileges on pro grammes or some other old way? questioned Vane. If you could investigate, Will, I'll bet you'd find plenty of sly blokes in Harvard, or Yale, or any other college, gettin' along one way or the other. P'r'aps you know for a fact that some fellers git special privileges? This was more of an interrogation than the statement of a possibility. "Not with the knowledge of the faculty or the athletic board-not at Cambridge," asserted Bill positively. "It may be that in one or two rare

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16o BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD instances some unfortunate but deserving man is quietly helped by a few fellows who hand themselves together for that purpose; but I don't believe such cases are at all common, and I'm sure the facts are always kept from the athletic board." "Now, don't you t'ink it," put in Dgan, with a slight hiccough, as he assumed a very wise and knowing air. "Don't you t'ink it, me boy! Dey're allus dead on, an' nine cases outer ten dey pull der dough from der athletic funds an' let der little bunch of s'posed-ter-be generous guys distribute it to der athletes what are hired in dis very way to keep up der glorious standard of der college. An' then dey shoot off a lot of hot air 'bout perfessionalism I Wouldn't it make yer sick I Say, Joe, got anyt'ing left on yer hip? Me tongue is gittin' so dry it rattles in me mouth." Oh, I guess there's enough left to wet our whistles," replied Vane jocularly, bringing forth a half-emptied pint bottle from his hip pocket. Here, Will, old slave-have a drink." But Bruce declined to accept the uncorked and proffered bottle, saying: You'll have to excuse me! I don't drink." At this Vane shrugged his narrow shoulders, laughing in a sneering manner. Why, what a model duck you are I he cried. You'll be sproutin' wings if you keep on. How d'yer do it at Harvard? The way them college fellers git lit up after they win a big baseball or football game, you'd never s'pose there was a solitary one

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THE MYSTERIOUS PITCHER 161 of 'em that belonged to the white ribbon brigade. What's keepin' you on the sprinkler? s'prise me if it was some promise you made to your dear mamma before you went away to school." "You're right about that," said Bill quietly, ignoring the fellow's sneer. I gave my mother my word that I'd never touch liquor, and I shall keep that pledge. Her brother died with the tremens." "Shuffled off with the D. T.'s, eh? And, havin' lost her brother like that, I s'pose she thinks everybody else that drinks is bound to kick the bucket the same way. That's about as much sense as a woman has; they're all alike, and they give me a cramp." Well, I'm gittin' a cramp waitin' fer that bot', pal," growled Dugan. "It's rotten bum booze dey peddle in dis prohibition country, but a man's gotter stan' fer it or drink hard cider, an' that stuff'll eat der linin' out a cast-iron stomach." He drank from the bottle, permitting the liquor to run down his throat without seeming to swal low at all, until Vane cried out in alarm for him not to be a pig. Joe tried to imitate Dugan, who handed back the bottle without blinking, wiping his mouth on his coat sleeve; but the fiery stuff strangled Vane and set him to gasping and cough ing violently. He was ashamed of this, as though he had betrayed some unmanly weakness; and, when he could get his breath, he sheepishly

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162 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD sought to make an excuse by saying that he had become so familiar with good stuff" in Boston that he could not seem to get back into the habit of drinking the barbed wire that was sold in his native State. Bill was ashamed on Joe's account, for quite another reason; but he had seen enough of the world to realize the folly of wasting good advice on a chap like Vane, especially on one in the fellow's present condition. Therefore, he silently turned again to his work at the forge and anvil. Joe flung the empty bottle through an open window, and looked at his watch. "Gittin' toward hash time, Tim," he said. "Wonder if the old woman knows we're back, I'll be able ter eat a dozen fried hemlock knots after tankin' up with that stuff. Say, Will, I'll find out who Bannon's great college pitcher is when he reports next Monday. All the other men will be at the Beach by Saturday, but the star slab artist has sent word he can't get along before Monday night. The Beach opens the season Tuesday with White Springs. Wednesday is the Fourth, and both the Beach and White Springs play Limeport in Limeport, where there's a celebration. Somethin' doin', my boy! If Ban non's bunch looks good to me, I'm goin' ter back 'em with my long green. S'pose you'll take in the celebration at Limeport, and of course you'll see one of the ball games, anyhow. Ther Beach in the afternoon."

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THE MYSTERIOUS PITCHER 163 I don't know," said Bill doubtfully. I hardly think I'll get over to the cel e b ra tion. I'd like to see a game, but I think I'd better keep away. There may be work to do here in the shop on the Fourth; if there isn't, I know there are lots of things that should be done around the house-things that have been neglected, and which no woman should do, especially one who has a sick man to look after, besides doing her regular housework." Oh, you poor slave I mocked Joe, ready to depart with Dugan. "All you seem to think of is work. 'Course ther celebration won't be nuthin' great, but it'll keep lots of folks here abouts from dyin' with dry rot. You're a lobster, anyhow, to waste your time here, when you might be havin' fun and makin' four or five times as much money." Bruce worked steadily until supper time. As he removed his father's shiny black leather apron, he muttered to himself: "Joe Vane may be right; perhaps I'm a fool, but I've got some of my father's blood in me, and he has been noted for his obstinate way of per sisting in any course he might decide to pursue." On Sunday Bill attended services in the little white church, his mother remaining at home for the first time in many years, to sit beside old Duncan's bed and read to him from the Bible. Neither Ethel nor any of her family was in church, which was a decided disappointment to

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164 BILU BRUCE OF HARVARD Bill, who had fancied that he might see her there as in the old days, when he used to crane his neck to steal a bashful glance at her from his father's pew, well down under the pulpit. It must be confessed that he gave little heed to the dry sermon; for his mind persisted in speculating on the identity of the mysterious col lege pitcher who had been signed at a large salary, according to Joe Vane, by the manager of the Balsam Beach team. He wondered if the man could possibly be anyone he had ever seen on any of the teams of the "big five," or was he some phenom from one of the smaller col leges? True, he had heard whispered rumors that certain stars, of other colleges besides Harvard, could be branded as professionals, if anyone cared to investigate their careers; but he was disinclined to think it possible that any defender of the Crimson could be found in that despised class. Buried in such thoughts, he was surprised when the congregation arose to sing the closing hymn, and he found that the old parson had finished his sermon. As soon as possible after the bene diction, he hastened out of the church and away; but he could not escape several of the neighbors, who inquired about his father's condition, and expressed their pleasure over seeing him at home again. He was not at all inclined to put on airs with these people; but he had been touched by the fact, noted by his mother, that many recent

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THE MYSTERIOUS PITCHER 165 callers at the house, although expressing sym pathy, had somehow seemed to feel a certain ill concealed satisfaction over his probable inabilityi to finish his college course. Jennie, with her pet lamb for company, was waiting for him at the back door, where her mother had permitted her to sit upon the step, so that she could not be seen by the church peo ple on their way home. On this day, at least, there was as little as possible of work about the Bruce home; and no play at all, with the permission of the parents. Nevertheless, Jennie spent two long, delightful afternoon hours with her beloved big brother, sitting beneath a shady tree down by the brook, whither he had carried her the greater part of the distance across the fields, the cosset lamb bleating pathetically after its mistress when stopped at the first fence. Bill told her all about his life in Cambridge, which seemed to the child like some far land of mystery and romance; and when his methodless narrative finally brought him to speak of base ball and tell the story of the two great games in which he had participated, he unconsciously grew so realistic that the spell-enchanted little girl seemed to see the field, the contesting play ers, the great throngs of people; and in her ears sounded the crack of bat and ball, the music of the band, the singing and the cheering. Oh, Will I she breathed, when he had fin-

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166 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD ished describing the joyous celebrations that had followed these victories. Oh, Will, wasn't it grand!" "It was," he said. "It paid me for all the years of hard work it cost me to get there." The Fourth was no holiday for Bruce; for in the morning he shod a yoke of oxen and mended a broken harrow, and during the re mainder of the day he busied himself about the house, finding, as he had expected, scores of things to be done. He even cleared the table, jestingly pretending that his mother was a lady in such affluent circumstances that she could af- ford to keep a maid, and that he was a raw importation from the Emerald Isle, Bridget O'Hoolihan by name. As Bridget, his brogue was so delightful, and his remarks so funny, that Jennie laughed louder and longer than she had laughed in many a day; and when he put on his mother's big apron and prepared to wash the dishes, having informed Mrs. Bruce that the kitchen was no place for a rale lady, mom, an' besoides, Oi don't want yez watchin' to see how many dishes Oi break," the little lame girl was so overcome by his comi cal manner of shaking the apron at the protesting mistress of the house that her merriment brought tears to her eyes. There were likewise tears in the eyes of Bill's mother, which she slyly brushed away, declaring that he was behaving ridicu lously, but, as he was a stubborn Bruce, she sup-

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THE MYSTERIOUS PITCHER 167 posed she would have to submit to being brow beaten by him. Once, later in the day, Bill paused outside the back door and turned his face toward the south east, where Limeport lay, thinking that at this hour one of the baseball games was in progress, and feeling a quickly crushed regret that fate had kept him from seeing it. About nine o'clock on Thursday morning, Joe Vane entered the blacksmith's shop, in high spirits. Hey, Bill I he cried. "You missed the game of yer life yisterday. Oh, it was a corker I Wowl Didn't we rub it into Limeportl You bet your sweet life-six to a frosty vacuum. Shut 'em out on their own ground, before the biggest bunch of howlin' people that ever saw a game in that smoky burg. That was goin' some, eh? Oh, say, but didn't it hurt 'eml Kemblehe's their manager-was sore as the devil. But they couldn't touch Bannon's star slab artist. Say, he's all right, Will; I've been knocked down to him. He's a swell duck, but he acts like a sport and a good feller, just the same He must have an iron arm. Went up against Limeport yisterday, after pitchin' the openin' game Tuesday at ther Beach and trimmin' ther Springs six to two. I reckon Bannon has to dig down deep to pay that lad his weekly dosh, but he's worth it. With him as mainstay, the Beach's got the pennant nailed a'ready."

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168 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Who is this wonder? asked Bill eagerly, resting his heavy hammer on the anvil and roll ing his right sleeve higher, revealing a sinewy arm that was both strong and supple. Don't s'pose you could guess if you tried." Joe grinned tantalizingly. Yit you oughter. He's a mighty well-known college twirler." "I can't guess," confessed Bruce, for I don't know any well-known college pitcher I'd like to suspect of breaking the rules this way. I won't try. Who is he, Joe? "You know him pretty well." Is that so? "Sure. You've seen him lots of times." Have I? said Bruce, puzzled and piqued. "He must be a man who is hard up, or else he'd never sell himself in such a way." That's where you're way off, old boy; his father's rich, and he don't have to play for money." Then he's a--" Bill checked himself abruptly. "What's the fellow's name, Joe?" he asked. "Harold Kemp," answered Joe.

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CHAPTER XX A NEW PROBLEM NEAR the middle of the following forenoon, a top-buggy containing a brisk-appearing, dapper young man stopped at the door of the blacksmith shop. The man sprang out at once, and hitched his horse to a ringbolt set in the heavy door casing, after which he entered the shop, pulling off his driving gloves. How do you do, Mr. Kemble?" said Bruce, recognizing the druggist baseball manager of Limeport, and feeling an insuppressible throb of excitement, caused by the instant conviction that he knew what business had brought the man there. How d'ye do? returned the visitor, sizing Bill up with a restless, critical eye. "You're Will Bruce, aren't you-old Duncan Bruce's son?" "Yes, sir; Duncan Bruce is my father." "Well, you're a husky-looking chap, and that's a fact." Kemble nodded, with an air of approval that was meant to be most agreeable Long geared, rangy, put up just about right. I under stand your father's sick, and you're running his shop. Rather dull here, I should fancy. Pretty 169

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170 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD hard work for a young fellow, especially for a college man. It must be anything but pleasant." "Oh, I don't know," returned Bill. "It isn't the kind of work I'd select; but it isn't so bad, and a man can do almost anything if it's neces sary." Guess that's so," agreed the druggist, though I can't imagine myself doing work of this sort. Can't be much money in it, either. I understand you're a baseball pitcher." Bill knew what was coming; he had made no mistake in thinking he could divine the purpose of the man's visit. I've pitched some at school and college," he admitted. "Did pretty well, too, eh? You pitched in both of Harvard's games with Yale this year, didn't you?" Yes, sir." "And Harvard won. That ought to be pretty fair evidence that you're a good man. But how does it happen that you're not playing summer baseball? There's more money in it than you can make shoeing horses." That's true, Mr. Kemble; but if I were to play baseball for money I'd make myself a pro fessional, and that would bar me from playing on my college team." "Oh, pshaw! Get out! That's all guff. Heaps of college men do it. They keep on play ing with their college teams, just the same. I

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A NEW PROBLEM know; for I'm manager of the Limeports, and I've got one or two college chaps. The Beach team's made up almost wholly of college play ers. Their star twirler is Kemp, right off your own Harvard nine." That doesn't make it a whit less dishonor able," returned Bill warmly. If it becomes known at Cambridge that Harold Kemp, or any other Harvard player, has accepted money for playing summer baseball, he'll be branded a professional and barred from the Harvard team." "That may be true," said the Limeport man ager, laughing; but how will it ever become known? Who can prove that any of these fel lows accept money? They're down this way rusticating. It's perfectly natural that they should have a little sport playing ball. They've signed no contracts. The most of them will take care that nobody sees them receive the money when they get their weekly salaries." But they know that they have broken the rules," persisted Bruce. "That's all right; they're not going to be chumps enough to advertise it. Some of them resort to certain little expedients to cover their tracks. Over at the Beach some of 'em make a bluff at waiting on the tables at the Sagamore House. Once or twice a week they actually do a little work of that sort. You see, they can swear that was what brought them down here, and that they got into baseball for fun. Now,

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172 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD I've got a proposition to make to you. We need another first-class pitcher. I think you might fill the bill. Drop this dirty work, and come over to Limeport. I'll hire you to draw soda at the fountain in my store. You needn't put in much time at it. If you appear for half an hour or so, two or three days a and wear a white coat behind my soda slab, it will be enough to serve as a blind. The rest of the time you can take it easy and play baseball when you are needed on the team. I'll pay you well for it." Bill had listened quietly as Kemble hastily disclosed this plan to deceive, but he shook his head in a decisive way which told that the propo sition met no favor with him. I wouldn't think of such a thing, Mr. Kem ble," he said. But the Limeport manager persisted. "You've been working your way through college, haven't you? he asked. Yes, sir." "And you've found it a hard pull, sure. You'll find it harder now that your father is knocked out. I've heard your father's property is mortgaged. That's bad. How do you expect to take care of that, support your folks, and put yourself through college, by ordinary day labor? You can't do it." "Perhaps not," admitted Bill. "You can't do it," repeated Kemble, deter mined to impress the point. "You look like a

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A NEW PROBLEM 173 fellow with sense. You know you can't do it. But you've got a talent by which you might make good money this summer. These college rules that make a man a professional if he plays ball for money are all wrong. They're ridiculous and unfair. They don't give a man a show. Such miserable rules ought to be broken. Why, lots of poor chaps never could get through col lege any other way. They simply have to play for money. They do it, too. Why shouldn't you? Your friend Kemp--" Bill lifted his strong hand. Don't call him my friend." "Why, you both pitched on the Harvard nine! I supposed you would be friendly, under such circumstances." We are not." Well, never mind. He'll make enough money this summer so that he can cut a swell at Harvard. Fred Clark, of Limeport, saw Harvard play Yale in Cambridge this year. He says you're a better pitcher than Kemp. I'll give you twenty-five dollars a week to pitch for our team. That will be clean money; for we'll board you." It wouldn't be clean money if I took it under the conditions you have stated. I can't do it." "How much do you want? Name your price." It was Kemble's settled belief that every man had a price. Bruce was so quiet in his manner of saying that he would not take the matter into con-

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174 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD sideration at any price that the visitor fancied he was working for a better offer. "Tell you what," he said suddenly, as though expe cting to sweep Bruce off his feet, I'll make it thirty-five a week. Think of that." But the grim young smith declined to think of it, and Kemble betrayed signs of vexation. Confound it I he exclaimed. We've got to have you. We can't let the Beach get the jump on us. All the fans are howling, now. They're sore. It's ridiculous-it's too much, but hang me if I won't make it fifty! There you are-fifty dollars a week, and board. Five hundred dollars for ten weeks of baseball playing. You can shut up this old shop and come right along with me. I'll wait till you're ready. How long will it take you?" It must be confessed that Bill was staggered a bit; but his jaw grew set, and a dogged look of obstinacy crept into his brown eyes. "I shouldn't wait, if I were you, Mr. Kem ble," he said; "for if you do you won't get back to Limeport until after the baseball season is over." The visitor could scarcely believe that he had heard aright. He stared at the bare-armed, leather-aproned youth, in perplexed astonish ment, doubt, and incredulity. "You don't mean you're going to turn down an offer like that, do you? he finally managed to ask.

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A NEW PROBLEM "I mean," explained Bill concisely, "that you can't raise money enough to hire me to play base ball in Limeport this summer." Kemble's chagrin and disappointment bordered on disgust. And I took you for a fellow of good sense I he exclaimed. Confound ityou're crazy you're idiotic I" Bruce was forced to smile. Perhaps I seem that way to you, sir. I won't attempt to make you look at this matter from my viewpoint, for I'm sure I'd fail. You have my answer to your offer. My conscience will not permit me to play baseball for money at the present time." The druggist whirled sharply, and walked to the door, nervously drawing on his driving gloves. On the point of leaving the shop, he stopped and turned. "Young man," he said scornfully," if you ever hope to make a success in this world, you'll have to stretch that narrow-gauge conscience of yours. Perhaps you'll come to your senses and change your mind. Think it over." He unhitched his horse, jumped into the buggy, and turned back toward Limeport. Bill heard the wheels rumble over the piece of ledge that outcropped in the road halfway to the stream, and then he resumed work, whistling Fair Harvard somewhat untunefully. At dinner that day Bill was cheerful almost to the point of jovial hilarity, and his exuberance enlivened and lightened the entire household.

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'176 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Even old Duncan smiled on him from the bolster ing pillows, and made inquiries about affairs at the shop, receiving the assurance that everything was going along finely. When Bill returned to the shop, Jennie accompanied him, hopping along at his side with the aid of her crutch, the pet lamb capering about her. Truxon Bigelow, coatless as usual, sat on the steps of Simon Vane's store, whittling a piece of soft pine. He eyed Bill languidly, and sighed. "I'd give considerable," he muttered, "if I was only well and strong like him." Huh I" snorted the storekeeper, who had chanced to pause in the doorway and overhear the remark. You're jest as able to work as he is; only he has to do it, and you let your wife s'port ye. Guess he'll find out before the sum mer's over that there's some diff'runce between blacksmithin' and playin' baseball. I notice he ain't slinging' on a great deal o' style sence he got home from college." I'll have to go over to the shop and have a talk with him some day,'' said Bigelow. I've meant to, before this; but alwus I'm plumb done up by the time I've walked as fur as this, and I hev to stop here to rest. I uster have palpitation of the heart, an' it's sorter come back onter me ag'in lately. You know, my father he was took off with heart trouble." Yep, at the tender, youthful age of eighty nine." Simon nodded sarcastically. He was

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A NEW PROBLEM 177 old enough to die, anyhow, and he'd never been sick a day in his life; so when he kicked the bucket sudden they called it heart disease. They had to lay it on su'thin'. You don't take arter your father a great deal, do ye, Trux?" "Nope; I'm more like my mother. She was always delicate and ailin', and I cal'late I in herited her tendencies. Speakin' about baseball, I hear they're a-payin' mighty high for players over to the Beach and Limeport. I wonder why Will Bruce don't try to git onter one of them teams, instid of workin' like a dog in his father's shop. 'Course he could make lots more money at it." "I dunno 'bout that, Trux; I ruther doubt it." Why, Sime, I've heerd that he's purty good io baseball." You kin hear 'most anything, Trux. If he did 'mount to much at it he'd be playin' some where instid of workin'; for my boy Joe says the managers of some o' these back country clubs is easy marks, and pay more money than they do in a lot of the reg'lar league teams. He says Bannon, over to the Beach, is shellin' out like a sucker, and ev'rybody's workin' him to the last notch. You see, they don't really have to sign no contract when they hire on one of these teams; and so, arter they've shown that they're fast and got folks stuck on them, they purtend they've had a better offer from some club somewhere else, and make b'lieve they're goin' to leave. Everybody

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178 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD hears about it in short order, and then there is a howl goes up. Folks git after the manager and tell him he must keep his good players at any price; so the players git their salaries raised out of all sense or proportion. No, I don't no stock in them yarns about Will Bruce bein' much of a baseball player; for if he was he'd never stick to that shop and pound iron all summer when he could be gittin' three or four times as much money without doin' no real work at all." Jennie, with the lamb nibbling near, played on a bit of green grass over by the high board fence. Bruce came out after an hour of steady work, and asked her what she was doing to amuse herself. Oh, I'm just pretending that I'm a married lady living in a fine house in a big city, and Nanny is a real fashionable caller that has dropped in. Do you think, Will, that, after I grow up, I'll ever get married and go away somewhere to a city to live? Do you spose I'd enjoy it if I did? I couldn't do any housework, you know, because I'm lame; but I'd have hired help, wouldn't I?" "Why, sure, you would," he answered heartily, resolved at once to avoid that first question. "All fine ladies who live in cities have servants." They must have an awful lot of money to afford more than one," said Jennie. I don't understand why it is that some folks have so

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A NEW PROBLEM 179 much more money than others. It doesn't seem just right to me." "Tut-tut!" He laughed. "You're talking like a Socialist now, and socialistic theories are very unpopular with the plutocracy as a body, and also with the larger part of the self-satisfied bourgeois middle class." She did not understand, but he had succeeded in diverting her from that dangerous point; and he left her still pretend-ing that she was a lady and talking to Nannie as she fancied a real lady would. Some time later, hearing the lamb bleating lonesomely at the door, he looked up from his work and discovered Jennie sitting on her clean box near the tool-littered work-bench. She had hopped in so softly that he had not heard her. She was sitting with drooping shoulders, wearing an expression of sadness that struck Bill like a knife-stab. What's the matter, N en? he asked. "Why have you stopped playing and come into this gloomy old shop? He fancied that there were tears on her cheeks. I don't want to play married lady any more, Will," she replied. "Oh tired of it?" No, only just--What's the use to play I'm something I never can be, anyhow? Nobody' d want a lame wife that had to walk with a crutch."

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180 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD He dropped his work and did his best to cheer her, succeeding after a time in diverting her thoughts into another channel; but for the re mainder of the afternoon he was depressed by the pathos of her misfortune, and by the knowl edge that she had begun to realize that it must affect her entire life. Turning the corner of the house, on his way to the back door at supper time, he caught a glimpse of Mrs. Pegger's hideous plaid shawl in the kitchen. The widow was there with a copy of a week-old newspaper in her hand. She greeted him with a snuffle and a sneeze. Jennie, her thin hands clasped in her lap, a strange look of eagerness on her face, was sitting on a low stool, the crutch lying beside her. Mrs. Bruce was taking up the supper. I've judst been readi'g the modst wodderful thi'g to your mudther, Will," explained the visi tor. I saw id in this paber, a'd I brode id ride over. Id's all aboud a celebraded dogder who is curi'g labe childred with hib disease judst the sabe as liddle J eddie has, a'd he dode use any idstruments or do any cuddi'g. Here's the piece, ride here, a'd you cad read id yourself. Woddend id be sple'did if you only had enough mod dey to tage J eddie to thad dogder a'd have hib cure her so she could wog like odther people? "You can't believe everything you read in the papers, Mrs. Pegger," said Bill. "Besides, if it is true, of course the doctor who performs these

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A NEW PROBLEM 181 wonderful operations charges enormous fees for his services." No, indeed, nod in the cases of poor peoble. The paber says he perforbs some oberations for nodthi'g. If you odly had moddey enough to pay egsbenses, maybe he would cure your sisder. I've god to go hobe a'd gid my subber, bud I'll leave the paber so you cad read aboud id yourself. A-a-choo-a-choo I Goodness gracious I I do believe I've c od more code, ruddi'g oud id such a hurry." Bruce made a struggle to be cheerful at supper; but this attempt was transparently an effort at deception, and it proved to be a discouraging failure; so he finally gave it up. Although he refrained from looking directly at his sister, he knew that she was watching him, as though seeking some sign of hope or encouragement in his face. When the meal was over she brought him the paper and asked him to read the piece, and she continued to watch him as he complied. Do you think it's true, Will? she asked, when he had finished. Behind the child's back Mrs. Bruce made a warning sign. I don't know, N en" he answered, lifting her to his lap and holding her close. As I told Mrs. Pegger, the papers print many things that are not true." But if it is so, and this great doctor could just see me, he might cure me so I'd never be

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182 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD lame any more, so I could run and play like other little girls, and so when I grow up I could be a real married lady and have a home like other folks." There was a lump in his throat. "Perhaps when you grow older you'll get over your lame ness, anyhow. A long time ago, Dr. Proctor, of Limeport, said it was possible you might outgrow your lameness." She shook her head. I don't think I can ever get well like that," she said, with an air of judg ment too deep for her years; for it seems as though I am getting worse instead of better. Unless someone like this great doctor can help me, I've just got to be a cripple all my life." That night Bill Bruce slept poorly; for he felt that a new and troublesome problem had entered into his life-a problem that might break down his resolutions and change his whole career.

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CHAPTER XXI THREADS OF FATE BILL paused at his work, and turned toward the door of the shop, through which a hay scented breeze bore a sudden commotion of sounds, growing rapidly more and more distinct-the clatter of horses' hoofs, the fierce bark, ing of a dog, shouts of men, and the frightened scream of a woman. With swift strides, he reached the door, and beheld the cause of the disturbance. Benson's ugly mongrel dog was in hot pur suit of a frightened horse that bore, clinging desperately to the horn of her saddle, a blondehaired girl in riding costume. Three other riders, two young men and a middle-aged woman, were following; and Bruce knew that it was the woman who had uttered that scream of fear. One of the young men was close upon the dog, and suddenly he leaned far over, having reversed his riding whip, and struck the creature such a blow with the heavy butt of the implement that the snarling yellow beast was sent rolling over and over in the dust of the road. That settled the dog; with his tail between his legs, he turned and made for his home by the 183

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184 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD shortest course, while the young man who had delivered the blow spurred on, overtook the frightened horse that bore the girl, seized the bit, and brought' the animal to a full stop at some dis tance beyond Vane's store. The girl had retained some degree of self-possession, and, although she was quite pale, she betrayed no symptoms of swooning or collapse. Bill Bruce reached the road and saw the sec ond young man, a little chap with bulging eyes and a familiar look, go bouncing past, hanging to his mount with immense difficulty. The woman rider followed closely, and she appeared to be far more frightened .than her horse, which was easily reined down, seeming disposed to stop of its own accord when the excitement was over. The lady promptly tumbled off into the arms of the little who had likewise dismounted with more haste than grace, and who, finding himself embarrassed by such a burden, relin quished the bridle of his horse and applied his entire attention and both arms to the task of preventing the lady from sinking in the dust. Opportunely, Joe Vane had rushed out from his father's store, capturing and holding the busy young man's horse. The animal bearing the empty side-saddle exhibited no disposition to run away, but Joe seized him also by the bit. There was no necessity for the young smith to offer assistance, nor was he disposed to do so, having discovered by this time that the four

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THREADS OF FATE 185 strangers in Fogg's Corners were no strangers to him. This discovery sent him back to his labor when he had assured himself that he was not mistaken; for he had no wish to be seen gaping with the idle curiosity of a yokel. But, no matter how he might wish it, he was not to escape observation thus simply. The man who had checked the dog with that sure, strong armed blow came leading one of the horses into the semi-gloom of the shop, and addressed Bill. "This horse has cast a shoe, my man," he said patronizingly. Get busy right away and set another in place of it, will you?" Bruce turned from the forge and faced Harold Kemp. "The devil I" said Kemp. We've met before," said Bill. Never mind about introducing yourself." Kemp glared. Can you set a horseshoe? he finally asked, with an air of conscious superiority and contempt that made Bill feel a strong desire to hit him. Hitch your horse over there," directed the young smith, "and I'll do the job when I'm done with this bit of work." And, ignoring the auto cratic, impatient fellow, he deliberately pursued his task to its completion. Harold Kemp hesitated, a flush of anger rising to his face; but finally, shrugging his shoulders, he led the horse to the side of the shop and hitched him to a ringbolt.

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r86 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Voices sounded at the door, and Twiddy Traddles appeared, followed by Marion May hew and her mother, both of whom, holding up their long riding skirts, hesitated in the doorway. Dear me," said Mrs. Mayhew, what a dreadfully dirty place I Don't touch anything, Marion, for if you do you'll certainly get smooched." Traddles was babbling. Another golden op portunity lost. I've always yearned to do some thing heroic, but whenever I get the chance I flunk. I've got my father to thank for it, too. My mother is a courageous woman-. as bnwe as a lion; while my father is just about as brave as a rabbit. Their blood commingles in my veins. Under ordinary circumstances, when there is no peril and no chance to distinguish myself, I am my mother's son, and I long to perform noble and hazardous deeds; but the moment anything happens to give me the chance, under stress of excitement, I am dad's boy, and just about the biggest coward that ever came down the pike. I think, ladies, if you'll exrnse me, I'll solace my agitated nerves with a cigarette Poor Twiddy I said Marion, ': You did your part nobly; you mamma and kept her from mussing falling right there in the road." laughing. supported herself by "That's very true, indeed," agreed Mrs. May hew. Only for you Twiddy, I know I should have flopped. I was frightened horrid by that

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. : I, ':1'. ..... p .Benson's ugly mongrel dog was in hot pursuit of a frightened horse that bore a blondhaired girl in riding costume

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THREADS OF FATE 187 nasty dog, and when my horse began to go so fast I was bounced till I thought it would jar my teeth loose. I know it must have shaken my hair down. Marion, how is my coif er?" Traddles offered Kemp the cigarettes, and Harold took one. How long will it take to fix your nag up, Hal? inquired the little chap, striking a match and holding it for Kemp to get a light. "Ask him," growled Harold, with a jerk of his head toward Bruce. Twiddy turned to do so, and got his first square look at the leather-aproned, b a re-armed fellow at the forge. His jaw drooped, and the cigarette would have fallen, had it not clung tenaciously to his moistened lower lip. "'Pon my soul," he finally gasped, "it's Bill Bruce-our Bill-good old Bill!" Bruce smiled grimly, and gave Traddles a nod as he grasped with tongs the piece of work he had just finished, and thrust it hissing into the half barrel of water. I'll attend to Mr. Kemp's horse immedi ately," he said. Good gracious!" breathed Marion, also greatly surprised. "Is it that-that person? What is he doing here? Mrs. Mayhew surveyed the grimy smith as she might have looked upon a curious and interesting animal.

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188 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD "Who is it, Marion?" she asked. "It can't be anyone you know." It's that fellow they put in to pitch for Harvard in the Yale games when everybody went to see Harold pitch," explained the girl, lowering her voice a little, yet speaking loudly enough for Bill to hear every syllable. It was the meanest shame I ever heard of, and I told Walter Whitney so myself." But, my dear, said her mother, speaking with even less effort to prevent Bruce from hear ing, "you don't mean to tell me that this-this common, dirty person is a student at Harvard, a college patronized by the boomondy, the very elight, and most aristocratic young men? Such a thing is perfectly preposterous I Then_ the lady wondered why Bill laughed as he examined the feet of the horse one by one and made ready to fit and set a shoe in place of the one that was missing. Kemp stood watching, impatiently tapping his leg with the riding crop that had ended the sport of Benson's dog. Mother and daughter, vul garly snobbish and ill bred, were amusing to Bruce; but Kemp, silently sneering and insolently superior, was irritating to a degree that made it difficult for Bill to repress his resentment. Traddles, as usual, was a mess; yet he seemed to feel a touch of shame over the wretchedly bad breed ing of the Mayhews; for he made a half-hearted effort to be agreeable to Bill, asking a few fool-

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THREADS OF FATE 189 ish, fidgety questions of a personal nature, which the young smith answered a bit curtly while pumping the bellows. Joe Vane came in as Bruce was burning the shoe into place on the carefully pared hoof of the horse. He was proud of his acquaintance with Kemp, toward whom he bore himself as one who feels it a fine privilege to be recog nized and treated with tolerant friendship by a person of finer clay. Say, but you did give old Benson's cur a soaker, Mr. Kemp I" he chuckled. "Wisht you'd finished the critter. He's a nuisance. I've took care of the other nags. Bruce'll have this one fixed up all right in short order. He knows his business, Will does. You two sports oughter be well acquainted, both havin' pitched on the same Harvard team. I've been tryin' to git Will to chuck this dirty work and try for a posish in the league; but he's got some old-woman notions about playin' for money, and he won't do it." Kemp snapped the remnant of his cigarette spinning into the little pile of sweepings and scraps near the anvil. He's right," he said; and I dare say he'll be far more successful by sticking to his horse shoeing." It was a sneer at Bill's ability as a pitcher, but the young smith seemed too busy to hear, or to heed if he heard. "Dear me," fussed Mrs. Mayhew, sniffing the wisp of smoke which had curled upward as the

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190 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD hot shoe was deftly and quickly pressed upon the horse's hoof; "what a dreadful odor! 'And I haven't my vinegaretty with me." Vane made haste to offer Kemp his cigarettes, selecting and lighting one himself, the smoke of which he inhaled, while seeking to manipulate it in imitation of the swagger mannerisms of the other. Having cooled the horseshoe by plunging it in water, Bruce returned, secured the uplifted foot of the horse between his knees, and began swiftly and deftly nailing the shoe in place. "Crickeyl" said Traddles, attentively watch ing the process. That's deuced clever, Billdeuced My word, I don't see how you ever learned the trick I Bruce was rasping off the projecting points of the nails and smoothing the hoof, when Ethel Vane paused in the door and called her brother. She was attired, with unusual taste, in a light summer dress, and her flaxen hair was dressed becomingly in imitation of a picture she had seen in a magazine. Never in her life had she looked prettier, and Kemp gave her a stare of surprise and admiration. Mother wants to see you before you go to the Beach to-day, Joe," she said. She's got an errand for you." Grumbling beneath his breath about the old woman always wanting something, Vane followed her as she slowly turned back, having first met

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THREADS OF FATE 191 Harold Kemp's stare with a flitting, fleeting, coquettish glance. I say, Joe-just a moment I called Hal, hastening after them and pretending to have a word of some importance for Vane. Ethel paused, as though waiting for her brother, and Joe improved the opportunity to introduce Kemp, who bowed and smiled over her seemingly hesitating hand, expressing his pleas ure at meeting Vane's sister, in language and manner that brought a flood of color to her cheeks. Bill had dropped the horse's hoof, and he stood watching them, frowning deeply. Mrs. May hew and he r daughter likewise were disturbed, the woman venting her vexation in muttered words, while Marion bit her lip and tossed her head, her eyes flashing. Tweed Traddles chuckled with his usual asinine simplicity, and observed that Kemp had a keen eye for beauty. Returning to the shop, Harold glanced back to get a last glimpse of the girl before she vanished beyond the high board fence. You seem exceedingly interested in your new acquaintance, Hal," said Marion, unable to re press her annoyance. She's a devilish pretty girl," declared Kemp; a genuine country pink." But she's like all country girls," put in Mrs. Mayhew disdainfully. They're frightfully raw and uncultured, and they know absolutely noth-

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192 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD ing of the fine e sses of life. Put them into high society and they all make the most dreadful fox paws." Kemp saw that Bruce had completed his work, and, with the same crushing superiority, pro duced his money and asked how much he was to pay. When told, he attempted to add half a dollar as a tip. "You've made a mistake," said Bill, refusing to accept the amount. That's fifty cents too much." "That's all right," nodded Hal. "Take it, my good fellow." But Bill disdainfully declined, and Kemp was compelled to return the piece of silver to his pocket, which he did with a shrug and a laugh that was the essence of an insult. When they were gone, Bill drew a breath of relief. Some day," he growled, Harold Kemp will get what's coming to him from me, and I shall take great pleasure in delivering the goods

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CHAPTER XXII SHATTERED HOPES JENNIE slept so late on Sunday morning that Bill's mother sent him to call her. The door of her room being slightly ajar, he discovered her still in bed, and tiptoed softly in, to arouse her with a kiss. By the bed he paused, suddenly stabbed by her delicate, almost ethereal look, and by the expression of pathetic hopelessness and resignation that was beginning to leave an imprint upon her. As he stooped to touch her thin cheek with his lips, she smiled and murmured in her sleep; a moment later her eyes opened, and she saw him bending over her. Good-morning, N en," he said, with a laugh. I'm afraid I spoiled a pleasant dream." Oh, such a lovely dream I she breathed. I thought the wonderful doctor had cured me without hurting me one bit, and that I could walk and run just as well as anybody I'm sorry you woke me, Will. If I could only keep on dreaming that dream forever I It was the last blow at the breastworks of his already wavering resolution. His face did not 193

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194 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD betray his sudden surrender, but somewhere within him he seemed to feel something give way. "N en," he said quietly, "little sister, your dream may come true." She sat up quickly, seeking to put her arms about his neck. Oh, Will-oh, Will 1 she cried, in childish excitement. "How can it come true? Mother says it would cost so much, .and we haven't the money." He hugged her slender form tight in his powerful arms, and kissed her again. Don't ask questions, N en," he said. "Just leave it to me. I've always found a way to do anything I really wanted to do, and I am going to take you to that doctor." That Sabbath was drearily long to Bill, who could not remember the time when he had not dreaded the coming of this day of the week, given over by his parents to rigorous religious devotion, and throughout which in that house hold any remote approach to mirth, or even to a mild outward show of pleasure, was sternly suppressed. Jennie remained to sit beside old Duncan, who was beginning to show some signs of improvement, and Bill escorted his mother to church in the morning. As on the previous Sunday, he profited little by the sermon, his mind being occupied by other matters. After the service, however, he was com-

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SHATTERED HOPES 195 pelled to wait for his mother, who was immedi ately surrounded by commiserating neighbors, asking about her husband and expressing grati fication to learn that he seemed to be on the mend." Mrs. Pegger sniffed and elbowed her way forward and gave Mrs. Bruce a black-mitted hand. Her week-day shawl of plaid had retired in favor of one of shiny black silk, fringed and well worn. I'm very glad to see you oud to churgh agaid, Mis' Bruce," she declared. "We missed you so mudge last Sudday. Howi:iy, Will? How're you, a'd how is liddle Jeddy? She's sudge a sweed chide, a'd id is sudge a piddy she must alwads be labe, when she mide be cured by thad gread dogder if you odly had the moddy to tage her to hib for treatment. But I suppose thad's oud of the quedshun, now thad your poor fadther is sig a'd never will be able to worg no more. I dode see how you're goi'g to be able to go bag to college, yourself; for some body's god to tage care of the fabbily, and ev'ry neighbor I've togged with seebs to thi'g you'll have to give ub your notion of gedding a fine educashud, a'd stay hobe a'd rud your fadther's shob. Of course, id'll be priddy hard for you to give ub your gread plads; but you've god to do your dudy, a'd the good Lord knows we all have our trials a'd tribulations id this world. Achoo I -a-a-choo! Goodness sages! I do wish they'd

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196 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD keeb the widdows shud in this churge, so there wouldn't always be a draved." "Will," said his mother, as they were walk ing homeward, it is a great shame that your people ha' come to be such a load upon ye, lad. If only your father hadna got into the law wi' Simon Vane, this trouble the Lord ha' let come upon us wouldna keep ye from college." "Don't you worry about that, mother," he said quickly. I'll make my way somehow. The very fact that some folks seem to rejoice over our misfortunes simply makes me all the more deter mined. I'll get there yet." His unshaken courage and confidence filled her with admiration, even while she could not con ceive of any possible means by which he could attain his ambition. Nearly an hour before noon the next day, Bill closed and locked the shop. Going to the house, he changed his working clothes for the best suit he possessed, which, although it had been care fully kept, showed signs of wear and was scarcely up to the season in style. His mother looked at him in surprise when he came down to dinner. "Why, Will," she said, "where are ye going, lad, that ye ha' dressed up so?" "I'm going over to the Beach, mother," he answered. I've cleaned up all the work in the shop, and I feel that it will do me gQ9c;i to take

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SHATTERED HOPES, 197 a half-holiday. I need a little diversion, and the Limeport baseball team plays at the Beach this afternoon." She looked at him doubtfully. How'll ye get over there?" she asked. "Ye ha' na team to take ye." Then I'll use Shanks' mare. Now, don't be disturbed, mother. I'm not going to neglect my work, and I'm going for a good reason, which I'll explain on my return." He had not covered a mile of the road when he was overtaken by Asher Mullen, wearing his heavy coat and scarf, as usual, and bound for the Beach with butter and eggs. Bill readily accepted an invitation to ride. How's it happen you're footin' it over this way t'day, Will?" asked Mr. Mullen curiously. "Ain't goin' to the Beach to rusticate with the fashionable folks, be ye? Hardly,'' replied Bill, smiling. I didn't happen to have any work on hand at the shop, and I took a fancy to see a baseball game this afternoon." The farmer clucked to the slightly limping horse. Shet up shop, did ye? he said. Mebbe you'll lose a job; somebody may come with a hoss to be shod, or somethin'. Your father al ways stuck close to his business, and folks knowed they could depend on findin' him at the shop. That's how he prospered, and he'd be purty fairly

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198 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD well fixed if he hadn't got inter that lawsuit with Sime Vane. Lawin' is bad business; the pesky lawyers alwus git the best end of it. But my sympathy alwus was mainly with your father. Sime is narrer as a cowpath through a scrub pas ture. I can't do business with him no more. He wants both ends and a piece outer the middle ev'ry time-pays the meanest prices for ev'ry thing, and then makes you take it out in trade. That way he ketches a feller both comin' and goin'. They've opened a new boardin' house over to the Beach, and I've made arrangements to f,rnish butter for twenty-four cents a pound and aigs at twenty cents a dozen, cash, and I'll have a market for consider'ble of my garden truck as fast as it comes on. Sime Vane won't squeeze me no more while the season lasts. If he'd been decent and fair 'bout that dividin' line, there wouldn't 'a' been no lawsuit, and your folks wouldn't be so hard put to it now that your father is down on his back." There may have been right and wrong on both sides," admitted Bill. "That's nearly al ways the case." Mebbe so-mebbe so 1" Mullen nodded wisely. But it's goin' to be mighty tough on you, gittin' upset in your ambition for a college eddication. You've studied hard and worked hard to git to college, and it must grind ye some to be knocked outer it now."

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SHATTERED HOPES 199 I haven't given it up by any means, Mr. Mullen." "Sho! Ain't ye?" No, indeed." I don't see how you're goin' to keep on at college and keep things runnin' to home. You certain can't do it blacksmithin' summers and va cations. I'm afeard your plans are clean upsot, Will. Giddap, Betsey I You're slower'n cold merlasses." Bill felt a sudden desire to impart a confidence to this sociable, friendly, well-meaning old man. I'm going over to the Beach to look for a job," he said. "Really? You don't mean it! Well, now, I declare I What sort of a job? Playing baseball." "Whew! Is they much money in that?" "Yes, it pays well." It don't seem possible. But don't you think it'll be purty bad policy, shettin' up the shop at the Corners? Folks'll be kinder sore over it when they find out you're off playin' baseball, and they'll git to takin' their work somewheres else." If I can get a place pitching on one of the teams in the Pine Tree. League, I'll make almost as much money in a few weeks as I could by working a year at the shop." "You don't say!" cried Mr. Mullen incredu lously. I never heard o' such a thing." But," added Bill, suppressing any sign uf

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200 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD regret, I can never play again on my college team; for I shall be rated as a professional." "That don't seem jest right; but still, I don't s'pose it makes much difference to you." It makes a great difference. If I had no one but myself to think of, there isn't money enough in this county to hire me to play baseball while I am still in college." Asher Mullen shook his head slowly and un comprehendingly. "You're a queer sort, Will," he said; not much like most young fellers they raise round these parts. But I cal'late you've got a purty level head, and I'll resk ye-I'll resk ye. You'll come out all right somehow, for you've alwus had grit and perseverance. I wish ye good luck, boy." They talked in this manner all the way to the Beach. Some time before they could see the ocean, Bill began to inhale long breaths; for the air had become permeated with the salt tang of the sea, and it gave him a delightful feeling of vim and vigor, in strong contrast to the sense of oppressive heaviness produced by the hot inland atmosphere. Afar they could hear the roar of the surf as it rolled on the sandy shore; and, save for a dull sensation of regret, he would have felt like shouting when at last the great, combing, foam-capped breakers and the broad blue expanse of the open ocean came into view. Balsam Beach wore its usual summertime holi day atmosphere. Flags were flying from the

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SHATTERED HOPES 201 staffs in front of the two big hotels, and above the lawns of several cottages. There were many people-gentlemen, ladies, and children, all in light summer attire-to be seen upon the veran das and in the vicinity of the hotels. Smart rigs, drawn by spirited horses with shining coats and cropped tails, whirled along the streets. Many people were bathing in the surf, and many more, sitting under umbrellas or strolling upon the shore, were watching them. At the pier lay a small white excursion steamer. Numerous small boats were moving to and fro, rolling and dipping on the swells, and at least a score of snowy sails could be seen out beyond the southern point, on which stood the cylindrical white lighthouse. A trolley car, "loaded to the guards," rolled in and discharged its passengers at the end of the line near the Sagamore. It was a crowd of fans from Limeport, accompanying their base ball team to the battlefield. With his men, who were carrying bags of bats, Bruce saw the dapper druggist manager of the Limeports. He hastened after the man, and overtook him. How do you do, Mr. Kemble? he said. Why, hello I cried Kemble. What are you doing here? Come over to see the game, eh?" "I'd like a word with you, if you have the time." The manager snapped out his watch. "What is it?" he asked.

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202 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD I've changed my mind, sir. I'm ready to accept the offer you made me." Kemble whistled. Oh-ho I he cried. Come to your senses, have you? I thought you would. But it's too late, now." Too late? said Bill, feeling a strange throb of mingled dismay and relief. "You mean--" I've got a pitcher-Condon, of Tufts. He's going to pitch to-day. I don't need you. You were a chump not to snap me up when I came after you. Come over to the field and watch Condon make monkeys of the Beachites." Bill stood watching the crowd straggling up the street toward the baseball field. Although he was disappointed, there was in his heart a feeling of relief, amounting almost to gladness. After all, though he had come to the point of sacrificing himself for his sister, the opportunity was no longer open. He had brought himself to it, sorrowfully thinking that never again would he wear a Harvard uniform; but now he would go back to the blacksmith's old shop at Fogg's Corners, and somehow he would find a way to return to Cambridge, and when the baseball season came round again he would pitch for the Crimson. He laughed. Then he was smitten by a sudden sense of selfishness that checked his laughter instantly. Perhaps he might succeed in returning to college unsullied by the taint of professionalism; but what would become of Jenny? Tha_ t he might play base-

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SHATTERED HOPES 203 ball on his college team, that he might pitch for Harvard, he was willing to let pass this possible chance for little N en to be cured of her lameness. He would taste again the joys of fiercely fought baseball contests; in his ears would ring the cheers of admiring throngs; he might become the hero and idol of his college comrades-but his unfortunate sister would remain a cripple for life, because of his unworthy thirst for approba tion and popularity. The thought of this would trouble him forever; whenever his eyes rested on her halting figure and on her thin, pathetic face, he must feel condemned and conscience-stricken, and despise himself for his meanness. He went striding up the street toward the baseball field, soon coming in sight of the en closure, which was surrounded by a high board fence. Above the covered grand stand a flag was languidly flying in the faint breeze that came from the sea. A steady stream of people flowed in by the gate. He got into line, and paid a quarter for admission. Bill's heart gave a throb as he looked around and saw the grand stand, already filled to over flowing with ladies and gentlemen in summer ap parel, while the bleachers behind the white chalked lines from the plate to first and third bases were rapidly being taken by those arriving. A hum of voices was in the air. The Beachites, in loose gray suits, were practicing. Harold Kemp, handsome, graceful, self-possessed, and

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204 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD conscious, as usual, of his own fine appear ance, was limbering his arm, Dugan catching him. The plunk of the ball into Dugan's mitt sent a tingling thrill over Bruce, and filled him with sudden intense longing to handle the sphere. The crack of bat and ball, as a man clipped out a hot grounder to the infield, made that longing an obsession. With the exception of Dugan, who seemed wholly out of place among them, the Balsam Beach players were a clean, wholesome-looking bunch of youngsters. Bill discerned the manager, whom he knew by sight, standing near the home team's bench. Slipping under the rail in front of the bleachers, he walked swiftly toward the man. Bannon turned as his name was spoken. Without faltering, Bruce introduced himself and asked for a trial at pitching. "Oh, Bruce-Bruce of Harvard?" said the manager. "I know about you. Had an eye on you, and I'd made a proposition to you after that last Yale game, if I hadn't got hold of an other man I was fishing for. You live over at Fogg's Corners, don't you? Yes? Well, I can't do anything with you now. My pitching staff is full. Kemp is a corker. I was lucky to get him. You see, he's summering here-stopping at the Sagamore. No, can't do a thing for you now. However, if anything happens to any of

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SHATTERED HOPES 205 my pitchers and I need a man to fill in, I'll let you know." This time there was nothing but bitter dis appointment m Bill's heart. He turned away dejectedly. "I can't stay here and watch the game," he thought. "I can't!" He made straight for the gate, and passed out. Behind him, the Limeport crowd cheered sud denly as their team, in playing suits, trotted out from the dressing-room beneath the grand stand.

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CHAPTER XXIII ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY I A HAND pulled at Bill's coat; a voice spoke his name. Looking round, he saw and recognized a pug-nosed, freckled lad, the son of a Limeport blacksmith, whose shop had been de stroyed by fire-so Bill's mother had written in one of her letters to him-near the last of February. "Hello, Tommy," said Bruce, trying to assume a cheerful air. Over to see the game? "Nope," was the answer. "We've been liv ing here since the middle of May. Dad took the Sagamore blacksmith shop to run this summer, y' know."1 "No, I didn't know." He did. There wasn't no insurance on our shop that burnt down; ev'rythin' a total loss. Dad was tryin' to set up again when he got an offer to take the Sagamore shop for the summer, and he grabbed it. But it seems like he couldn't dodge hard luck. A hoss kicked him day before yisterday, and broke his leg." "That was hard luck," cried Bill sympathiz ingly. "It was tough." "Pritty tough," nodded the boy, though it 2o6

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ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY 207 might 'a' been worse. Dad he's been carryin' an accident policy four years now, and never got a red cent outer it before. He'll draw eighteen a week while he's laid up; and Mr. Burnham, the hotel manager, is goin' to let us keep on livin' rent free, in the cottage where we are." "Well, it really might be worse," agreed Bill. Sure," said Tommy cheerfully. We ain't much upset, but Mr. Burnham he's in a stew to git somebody to run the shop. Dad happened to think of you. I was waitin' to tell Mr. Burnham 'bout ye when I saw you comin' up this way. He sent me after ye; he wants you to come see him right off." "Who-Mr. Burnham?" "Yep; you'll find him in the office of the Sagamore. Mebbe I'd better go 'long with ye." The boy escorted Bill to the huge white sum mer hotel, on the broad verandas of which guests were idling in great high-backed rocking-chairs, reading, chatting, or watching the distant bathers in the breakers, and the sail-patched expanse of blue sea. Bruce felt somewhat awkward and out of place, as he followed Tommy Marshal up the steps and entered the hotel. The boy pro ceeded to the desk in the big, airy office, and spoke, without any show of awe, to the haughty, superior clerk who chanced to be on duty. "Tell Mr. Burnham," said Tommy, "that I've brought the man he wants to see."

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208 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD The clerk was unmistakably dis.pleased by this manner of making a request that was somewhat like a command, and he took his time about some trivial task, so that Bill began to wonder if he had heard, or if, having heard, he did not mean to ignore the lad. Finally, however, after care lessly surveying Bill, as though regarding a crea ture of such common clay as to be very far be neath the social scale of one so exalted as he, he turned, and disappeared through a doorway. In a few moments he reappeared, opened a waist high gate, and stated, in a mechanical colorless voice, that Mr. Burnliam would see the caller in his private office. The manager of the Sagamore, a man of forty, with a sprinkling of gray on his temples and in his carefully trimmed beard, was writing at a large roll-top desk, the pigeon holes of which were stuffed to bursting with papers. He put aside his pen, picked up a smoldering cigar, and turned a pair of shrewd brown eyes on Bill Bruce, who stood before him, hat in hand "This is the feller, Mr. Burnham," announced the boy. "All right," said the manager, producing a silver quarter and snapping it spinning through the air, to be deftly caught by Tommy. That will take you in to the baseball game. Chase yourself, if you want to see the first inning." Expressing his thanks, the boy disappeared without delay.

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ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY 209 "You're a blacksmith? said Mr. Burnham. Know the business thoroughly, do you? I'm not exactly a greenhorn at it, sir," was the quiet reply. "We need a man to take the Sagamore shopgot to have one, in fact. Marshal recommended you. You're rather young, but, if you know your business, age won't matter. I'll give you fifteen dollars a week and your board, to run the shop." If I should accept your offer," said Bruce, I'd be compelled to close my father's shop at Fogg's Corners." But fifteen dollars a week, clean money, is more than you can make out there in the country." That may be true; but closing the shop would be a bad thing, as people would get into the habit of going elsewhere to have their work done, and for that reason it would prove poor policy." "You're rather shrewd, young man. I've made you a liberal offer, but I must have a smith. I'll make it twenty and board; that's the very best I can do. What do you say? Bill made an instantaneous calculation. Ten weeks at the Beach would give him two hundred dollars. It was not enough for his purpose; but his baseball plans had fallen through, and this seemed to be the next best method of earning a fairly large sum of money in a short time. How ever, he resolved not to do hastily anything that he might afterward regret.

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210 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD I'll have to consult my parents, Mr. Burn ham," he said. I can't answer at once." But I must have an answer by to-morrow, at the latest. Will you agree to let me know by to-morrow night? If you won't come, I'll have to hustle for a man." Bill promised, and took his departure, the manager's last words urging him to consider the proposition favorably. He had covered more than half the road to the Corners, when Asher Mullen, on the way home, overtook him once more. "Well, I swan I cried the farmer, in surprise, peering over the woolen scarf which he had wrapped round his neck and chin. Kinder thought I must be mistook when I see ye footin' it back ahead of me. Git aboard. Didn't stay to the baseball game, did ye? No," answered Bill, as he climbed up along side Mr. Mullen. I didn't feel much like it." You look sorter disapp'inted. Didn't things pan out the way you cal'lated they would?" "No. I lost my opportunity to get a position as pitcher." Sho I That's too bad. But mebbe it's just as well. You'd had to shet up your father's shop, and that would 'a' hurt the business. This base ball must be mighty unreliable; but folks has alwus got to have their hosses shod, and other blacksmithin' work done." Bruce opened his lips to tell of the offer he had

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ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY 21 r received from the manager of the Sagamore, but suddenly changed his mind and held his peace. After Jennie had gone to bed that night, Bill told his father and mother about his visit to Balsam Beach, keeping nothing back, although he felt sure that his fruitless efforts to secure a posi tion as pitcher would arouse the grim disapproval of old Duncan. In the simplest manner possible he gave his reasons, explaining that professional baseball seemed to offer the only method by which he could obtain in a short time a considerable sum of money, which was so sorely needed. He told them how he had planned to use some of the money to defray the expenses of taking Jennie to the doctor who was having surprising success in curing children with similar afflictions. In conclusion, he mentioned the opportunity to take charge of the Sagamore blacksmith shop, stating that he had declined to give an answer until he could consult his parents. With his eyes fixed on his son, Duncan Bruce listened without betraying his thoughts by word or sign; but Bill's mother was greatly perturbed, and when he had finished she began giving at once her views upon the unwisdom of closing the shop at the Corners. It would mean the ruin o' the business, lad," she said, and what could we do then? Ye ha' your duty to do, Will." That is true, mother," he replied; and for that very reason I was ready to play baseball

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112 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD for money, which would prevent me from ever playing again on my college team. I'm going to finish my college course some time, if I live. If Jennie can be cured and there's any way for me to earn money to take care of the expenses, it is my duty to do it, no matter what it may cost me in the way of personal pride and pleasures." Oh, Will, I ken it mun be hard for ye to gi' it up, but, 'less ye forget your father and mither in their distress, I fear ye'll na go back to college again." "Where is your faith, mother? You've always said a way would be opened for the needy and deserving. I'd be ashamed if I were to give up and quit in the face of my first real difficulty in life." It was characteristic of Bill that he, who had cheerfully faced and_ overcome hundreds of ob stacles that would have disheartened one less resolute, should regard this misfortune, which to others might have worn the aspect of a calamity, as his first great difficulty, and one that must be and should be surmounted. "Twenty dollars a week, the money ye can earn at the Sagamore shop, willna be enough for everything, lad," said old Duncan, speaking up at last. No; but I hope to earn more than that, father. Accidents sometimes happen to baseball pitchers, and any day some team in the league may need

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ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY 213 a man to pitch a game. If I'm there, right at hand, I'll get the chance." Would they gie ye much for that, boy? I wouldn't pitch a game for less than twenty dollars. If they were hard pushed for a man they'd pay it, too. If I pitched well, won the game, and proved that I was worth the money, I might get a chance at it once or twice a week. Who knows? Perhaps, in that way, with my wages for running the shop, I might make as much as I could get playing regularly with one team." But ye would ha' the shop to look after, and ye couldna' neglect it." I don't believe there would be work enough to keep me busy in the shop all the time. Be sides, the hotel people consider baseball as a profitable attraction for the Beach, and they help support the game by contributing money and boarding some of the players. I'm certain Mr. Burnham would let me off for a few hours of an afternoon once or twice a week." But again his mother raised her voice in ob jection, entreating him to abandon a project that must affect future patronage of the home shop by turning business away from its closed door. Peace, Esther-peace l said old Duncan, to the surprise of both Bill and his mother. "Ye arena qualified to judge what is the best course for the lad to pursue. He ha' showed a clear head an' good judgment in the past, an' it mayna

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214 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD be the haight o' weesdom fa' ather o' us to inter fere wi' him now. In midsummer there isna much work to be done i' the old shop here, an' so it wi' not make so much harm should it be closed. Let the lad do as he theenks best. Go to bed, Will, an' sleep on it. If i' the morn ye theenk wise to go to the Beach, bring me the key o' the old shop." Bill "slept on it," and when he arose in the morning he made preparations to go to the Beach. At breakfast his mother wore a mournful counte nance, for his reappearance in that well-worn black suit betrayed his decision. Jennie, too, was distressed because he was going away, which would prevent her from seeing him every day during vacation; but he promised her that he would come home every Sunday, and that served to abate her grief somewhat. His mother helped him pack the little old trunk that had carried his belongings when he journeyed to preparatory school and to Cam bridge, and, as on those other occasions, he saw her shed no tears, although he doubted not that her eyes would be dimmed as they watched his retreating form. He himself was quite jovial, doing his best to cheer everyone; for something seemed to tell him that he was making no blunder. This time it was necessary for him to journey to the Beach by a roundabout route. The stage would take him and his trunk to Limeport, and from thence he could travel to Balsam Beach by

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ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY 215 trolley. When the stage stopped at Vane's store for the mail, Bill was waiting at the front gate. He had given his father the key to the shop, and old Duncan had wished him good luck. He kissed his mother good-by, and hugged little N en, who clung to him with her thin trms and tried to laugh down the sobs that kept rising in her throat. "Just you wait, little sister," he said. "Just you wait till we take that trip to Boston to see the great doctor." Benson, the stage driver, helped him put the trunk on the wagon. Jennie called to him, and came hopping after him on her crutch. He stooped to embrace her again, and she put into his buttonhole a rose which she had plucked from the fragrant bush that bloomed beside the door of his home. "For my big, good, handsome brother," she whispered; and his heart leaped and his cheeks burned hot, for never before had anyone called him handsome. In her eyes he was. He looked back ere the wagon passed over the ledge. His mother was still in the doorway, and Jennie was kneeling just outside the gate, her arms around the neck of the cosset lamb.

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CHAPTER XXIV SOLD CHEAP FOR three days Bill labored steadily, early and late, to clean up the work that lay before him and came flowing in upon him. He found himself dog-tired when night came, and not long after supper he went to bed. The Sagamore was overcrowded with guests, so that even some of the rooms for servants and laborers had been given to patrons who were willing to accept almost any kind of accommoda tions. Already it seemed sure that Balsam Beach would see the most prosperous season in its history. Having no room for Bruce at the hotel, the manager had made arrangements for him to board and lodge at the home of the Marshals; and there he settled down, in a little slope-ceilinged room with one window, from which he could see the lighthouse on South Point, and the broad expanse of the ocean beyond. True, he could not find much time to gaze upon that prospect; but while dressing mornings he did not fail to look forth for a moment or two at the sun rising, red or golden, into a blushing sapphire sky, and ere retiring at night he drank in the beauty of lll6

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SOLD CHEAP 217 the moon-silvered sea, and was soothed by the ponderous, murmured monody of the distant surf Always for him tl;ie sea had held a subtle charm, and he was glad that fortune had brought him near it. He was troubled at times by the dark frown of the problem which had planted itself like Giant Despair in his pathway, and threatened, in spite of his courage and resistance, to carry him captive to Doubting Castle; but he was by nature an optimist, and faith in the ultimate triumph of right was ingrained in him from a long line of positive dogmatic ancestors. So he went on grimly, almost stolidly, waiting for the door of opportunity to open, and wasting no time on re grets over what now seemed like a fair prospect that he had spurned and then sought to retrieve when it was too late. Tommy Marshal talked baseball at every meal, and at other times, when he could find anyone to listen. He was literally bubbling over with en thusiasm, and his faith in the superiority of the Beach nine was unlimited. As a pitcher, Kemp was his idol. He's the greatest ever I the boy would de clare. They ain't got northin' that can touch him in this league. Kemble's new feller, Condon, ain't in it with Kempie. I guess he must be the greatest college pitcher in the country. I bate Bannon has to cough a fancy price for him; for he's a swell duck, and there ain't northin' too

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218 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD good for his blood. He puts on just as much style as any of the blue bloods at the Sag." Sometimes Tommy tried to question Bill con cerning Kemp, for he had learned that Bruce was a HarvarQ. student; but these efforts brought such a dearth of information that he finally abandoned them, concluding that the blacksmith really knew very little about Kemp, and much less about baseball. The Beach team played at home on Thursday, and Bill, working in the shop, heard at intervals the cheering and shouting of the crowd. From the back window of the shop he could look out across the open fields, and see the high board fence which surrounded the baseball park. The sound of the cheering gave him a queer sensation-a fierce, trembly longing to fling down his tools and rush away to the scene of the struggle; but he kept at his labor, as though deaf and ob livious to everything outside the shop. That night Tommy volunteered the informa tion that the Beach had been beaten by White Springs. Ban put Osgood in to start with,'' said the dejected boy; but he ain't much, and them Springites pounded him all over the pasture in the third innin'. Then Ban tried Frost, who done purty fair till the seventh, when them Springs fellers warmed him in great shape. Kemp kicked like a steer. He didn't want to go in, for he's been pitchin' more'n his share, any-

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SOLD CHEAP 219 how; but Ban begged him, and he tried to save the game. 'Twarn't no use; couldn't northin' stop the hittin' then. I heard Kemp sayin' after the game that he didn't perpose to wallop his wing off for nobody, and I don't blame him. If we had another pitcher as good as Kemp, right now, we could git the pennant cinched inside of two weeks." "Another pitcher," thought Bill. "It's my chance. But Kemp would throw me down with the manager if he knew. I'd better keep still until they've just got to have somebody right away." Around ten o'clock on Saturday forenoon, Joe Vane, wearing a glaring lavender necktie and a plaid negligee shirt that literally screamed, came sauntering into the shop, smoking a cig arette. Ah, there, Old Industry I he cried, with a wigwag of his hand. So you've shook the rural regions, also. That was wise. There's nothing doing out where the elderberries grow. I'd pass away if I had to hang around Fogg's Corners a month. I have to be in the push, where the long green grows plentiful and is easy to pluck. A feller couldn't con a sawbuck out of one of them J oshuas at the Corners if he tried the gold brick gag; they ain't got the money to give up, that's why." Bill was in no hurry. He flung one leg over the anvil, rested his elbow on his knee and his

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220 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD chin on his hand, and surveyed Vane with good natured wonderment. "Joe," he said, "it beats me." "Hey? What?" "How you do it." "Do what?" "Cut such a swell without working." Joe planted his feet wide apart, thrust one hand into his pocket, poised the cigarette daintily in the fingers of his other hand, and grinned com placently. Work I he sneered disdainfully. It's only the marks and suckers that work; the wise guys work them. If you've got a sneakin' idee in your nut that folks ever git rich in these times by indus try and frugality, just you fergit it soon as you can. There's nothing to it, Will, old fel-take my word, there's nothing to it. The gazabe who gits ahead and prospers in these days does the trick with his brain, not with his hands." Joe's manner was both amusing and irritating, but Bill suppressed any feeling of annoyance aroused by the fellow's bumptiousness. Somebody must work as long as there is work to do, Joe," he said, smiling. "Well, you cafl bet your sweet life it won't be me. I know my little book, and I never was born to garner my bread by the sweat of my brow. Ethel told me she see you over here, and that's how I happened to git on that you was runnin' this shop." \

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SOLD CHEAP 221 Ethel?" Yep; she's here, too. Got a slick posish at the Saggie." Wai tress? "Well, I guess nit!" cried Vane indignantly. I! No hash slinging for her I She's behind the cigar counter. It's a snap. All she has to do is look fetchin', pass out the weeds to customers, and make change. It's dead easy, for the prices are on the boxes, so she can't make no mistakes. You know they like to have a good looker behind the cigar counter, for it draws trade. Say, but they do soak on the prices sump'n fierce I It's just plain robbery, but these rusticators seem to stand for it, all right. Kemp got EthBl the posish at the Saggie." Kemp I Bill started, and felt his skin prickle and his face grew hot. He partly straightened up, but his leg remained over the anvil, and his grimy clinched fist was pressed down upon it. Joe perceived the sudden change that swept over the strong face of the young smith, and he grinned as he fancied that he understood the cause of it. You uster be sorter stuck on Ethel before our old fool dads got into a law scrape," he said, lighting a fresh cigarette from the stub of the other, which he snapped carelessly toward the open door. She liked you, too. But she's changed a lot, lately, and she's got her idees up,

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222 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD so there's nobody too good for her, if he's ai mil lionaire's son, or a duke. You can't feaze sis. She's read all about chorus girls marryin' rich bloods and members of the peerage and becomin' grand ladies, and it wouldn't s'prise me if she turned the trick herself. She's got Kemp going some, already. Know what he done? He rode all the way out to the Corners last Sunday with a swell rig, and took sis for a drive. What d'yer think of that?" Vane have been surprised had Bruce told precisely what he thought of it; but Bill set his teeth hard and kept still, knowing well that anything he might say would be no more than seed wasted on stony ground. But, say, lemme tell ye the joke I Joe rattled on. Oh, it's a corker I While they was out drivin' last Sunday, Ethel and Hal, they met the Mayhews. Both the girl and the old dame, her stiff-necked mamma, was furious; and now, sence Ethel's come over to the hotel, they're plumb speechless. All they can do is glare and hold their necks stiff. Sis has certain cut the tall blonde out with Kemp. He's a fine feller, Bill. Him an' me has got to be pretty thick of late. He's free with his money, too. Loaned me a good wad, and I've made a fat thing backin' the Beach team. He tips me off when not to bet-told me to keep my long green in my jeans when the Springs was over here Thursday, and so I didn't lose northin' on that game.

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SOLD CHEAP 223 Pickin' winners is easier'n workin', Will; but I don i t cal'late you'd make a great success at it. You might make a good thing in baseball, though; and I still think you're a chump that you don't do it. Hal says Bannon's got to get somebody to help him out that's better'n Osgood or Frost, for he doesn't propose to pitch his wing off down here in this hayseed league; and I don't blame him. If you was to watch your chance and hit Bannon at just the right time, you'd get onto the team." But now Bill Bruce felt that he could not play on the same team with Hal Kemp-never again, not even on his college team. And so, Joe offer ing to keep his eyes open and tell Bill when it was the best time for him to see the manager, the smith thanked him curtly, brusquely, and said that he need not trouble himself. "Oh, all right," said Vane, shrugging his shoulders. "If you want to, you can keep on pounding your head off. 'Tain't my funeral. But I swear I can't understand a feller with the kind of a conscience you've got. I'm glad I ain't built that way." His contempt for Bill was thinly disguised, and, having little more to talk about, he finally departed, pausing at the door to light still another cigarette, ere he strolled leisurely down the street with the swagger air of a summer sojourner who felt beyond question that he was made of much finer clay than the natives who spent the entire year in that village by the sea. Could he have known the

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224 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD thoughts of the young blacksmith, just then Vane would have been astounded to find that he had aroused the scorn and contempt of Bruce when he confessed that he had accepted money from Kemp; for which favor, Bill doubted not, he had pretended to see no motive save friendship in the sudden and remarkable interest which the broker's son took in Ethel. Bill walked to the door of the shop and stood, hands on hips, gazing after the dapper figure of the retreating fellow, over whose shoulder now and then curled a tiny ribbon of smoke. "Your price was cheap, Joe," he muttered Dirt cheap 1

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CHAPTER XXV THE NET OF DESTINY BILL spent a quiet Sunday at home, and was back at the Beach to open the Sagamore shop as early as usual on Monday morning. Between nine and ten o'clock in the forenoon, a stout, red-faced man, with sandy chin-whiskers, trimmed square as a block, and liberally sprinkled with gray, led a limping horse into the shop. The man was dressed in a suit of rough Scotch tweed, and wore a cap. At first glance Bruce thought him one of the hotel stable hands; but, after a second look, he decided that his estimate was an error-a conclu sion that was confirmed when the man removed his cap and mopped the shining bald spot on his head with a silk handkerchief fished up from a hip-pocket, at the same time generously cursing the hot weather. Say, young feller," said the man, "I wish you'd take a look at this animal and see if you can tell what the devil ails him. The other black smith said he was shod wrong, but he didn't do the critter a cussed bit of good. I paid five hundred for the hoss for my daughter to ride, and I've been hiring another critter for her ever 225

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226 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD sence we come here. Looks to me like I'd got burnt-and I reckoned I was a right fair judge o' hosses, at that." Bill had noted that the creature was lame in the right hind foot. He picked up the foot, looked at the shoe, and felt beneath the fetlock. The horse was nervous, and Bruce fancied that t here were slight tokens of heat and inflammation a bove the hoof. Well, what d'yer think? asked the stranger brusquely. I'd like to remove this shoe," said Bill. "Go ahead," nodded the man. "If you can find out what's the matter you'll do me a favor. I hate to think I've been a sucker in a hoss trade Bill soon had the shoe off. A single paring from the foot revealed a tiny spot that looked suspicious, and, following up this clue, cutting and probing into the horny substance, the young smith finally touched something that caused the horse to jump and snort and jerk its foot away, betraying unmistakable symptoms of being hurt. "I fancied that might be it," said Bruce. "What is it?" questioned the man, who had watched the proceedings with anxious interest. "A broken nail that has touched the quick," explained Bill. Well, I swear I said the owner of the horse; and he proceeded to do so in a fluent manner that would have done credit to Commodore Trunnion himself.

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THE NET OF DESTINY 227 Why the devil didn't the other man find that out?" asked the stranger, having relieved his feel in gs in a measure. I don't know," confessed Bruce. I suppose it has been getting worse since then, and he may not have seen any sign of it. Probably he was honest in thinking the horse had been shod wrong." I judge you know your business, young feller. Can you get that infernal nail out?" I think so, sir." It was no simple task to cut away the hoof around the end of the broken nail; for the horse objected, and Bill needed the aid of the animal's master to keep the creature steady; and even then the smith was once upset, and his tool-box sent flying with an outshot hoof. Nevertheless, Bruce finally got hold of the nail with some stout pincers, and pulled it forth. With quiet triumph, he held it up for the man to see. Think there's any chance it'll do the critter permanent harm? asked the stranger. I don't think so. I'll use a disinfectant and plug the place where I've cut, which will keep dirt or gravel from working into it under the shoe. I have an idea that the horse will be all right in a day or two "Well, you've relieved my mind most mightily, and I reckon I owe you somethin' fancy for the job Go ahead and fix the little pony up, my boy."

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228 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Bill washed and soaked the spot with a disin fectant, plugged it, and reset the shoe, covering it completely. But, when the grateful man tried to force a ten-dollar bill on him, the smith objected, and persisted in refusing to accept more than regular pay for the time spent on the work. Well, now say, I judge this sawbuck will do you as much good as 'twill me," said the stranger earnestly, and I want you to take it. I've had to work for my money, and I know how it is." If I took it," said Bruce, with a smile, I'd feel in duty bound to turn it in to the people who hire me to run this shop; so, you see, you wouldn't be doing me any good. I can't accept a cent above the regular charge." Regretfully the man returned the ten-dollar bill to his pocket, and paid the price Bill had asked. If I can ever do you a favor, young feller," he said, don't be bashful about callin' on. My name is Ben Mayhew, and I'm stoppin' at the Sagamore with my wife and daughter. Doin' nothin' but loaf round a high-toned summer hotel, where you have to dress in a b'iled shirt and swaller-tailed coat for dinner, and folks find their chief diversion in gossipin' about each other and snubbin' other folks they don't consider quite up to their set, is gettin' sorter monotonous; and maybe, if you don't object, I'l drop round here sometimes and chat a bit with ye when you ain't too busy." Bruce said that he would be pleased to see Mr.

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THE NET OF DESTINY 229 Mayhew at any time; and, after twisting off a chew of tobacco from a plug he carried, the man led his horse away. "So that is Marion Mayhew's father," mut tered Bill, looking after the sturdy retreating figure. I must say that his daughter resembles him very little." This proved to be the beginning of a rather singular friendship between Ben Mayhew and the young blacksmith, the man coming to the shop and talking with Bill almost every day thereafter. With surprising rapidity, the two got on familiar terms; for Mayhew had taken a strong liking to Bruce, and, although not demonstrative, he was not one to make concealment of his regard. And Bill, usually taciturn and backward with new acquaintances, feeling quite at ease with this man, surprised himself by the freedom with which he talked of his own affairs. Sometimes he checked the impulse, fearing that so much of personal mat ters would prove tiresome to the other; but al ways, in a manner which seemed to indicate little of mere idle curiosity, he was encouraged to go on. In this way, piece by piece, and a little at a time, Mayhew learned a great deal about William Bruce, the blacksmith and Harvard student. Al ways Bill spoke of personal matters with modesty and repression; yet his new friend, who was much more than twice his age, came to know how, as a mere boy, he had resolved to obtain a college education, and thereafter had bent his every effort

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230 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD to that end; how he had toiled by day and studied by night; saved his money and made little for tunate investments with it-buying a colt one year and selling it the next for three times wha. t he paid; purchasing various broken or dis carded farming implements and machines, repair ing them at his father's shop, and selling them at a handsome profit; securing at a low price the stumpage of a piece of timber land, cutting it clean, and transporting the logs to a sawmill, and the wood to Limeport, thus adding several hun dred dollars to his school fund; and how, by various other methods and devices, he had per sistently and doggedly progressed toward his goal. All this had proved far more interesting to Benjamin Mayhew-a plain, unlettered man who had no liking for the forms, conventions, foibles, and shams of society, and who himself had worked hard with hand and brain-than Bill be gan to imagine. Mayhew listened, chewed to bacco, asked questions, swore occasionally, and in time got the story complete. Over one point Mayhew expended a great deal of profanity, and that was the college rule mak ing a man a professional if he played baseball or entered into any athletic contest for money. Such a rule, he declared, was unfair, outrageous, unjust. "But," said he, "I reckon they don't enforce it very strict; for there must be a right smart number o' college students playin' baseball for money round these parts."

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THE NET OF DESTINY 231 Students in Maine colleges are permitted to do so," explained Bruce. All the college fellers on these here teams ain't Maine students. There's that youngster Kemp that Marion knows-he goes to Harvard, same as you." If he is playing for a salary he is violating the rule, and it it became known he'd be barred from the Harvard nine." Well, I don't believe he's playin' for his health," said Mayhew dryly. "If he can do it, you can." Bill shook his head. If I should do such a thing, my conscience would never let me play college baseball again; but, much as I should regret that, I'd give it all up if I could only make enough money to take my sister to that doctor and help me get back to college." Bruce had spoken of Jennie and of his deter mination, at any cost or deprivation for himself, to take her to the famous doctor for treatment. In this project Mayhew seemed even more in terested than in other matters concerning the young blacksmith, and he referred to it fre quently, discovering Bill's tender affection for his crippled sister, and his loyalty to his parents. When he learned of the lawsuit with Simon Vane, however, and the resultant mortgage on the Bruce homestead, he threw up his hands in dismay. My boy," he said, "with that load on your

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232 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD shoulders, you'll never get back to college in God's world." Bill Bruce smiled grimly. Not this year, or next, perhaps," he admitted. I did think, at first, that I might find a way to return in the fall; but I'm beginning to realize that the moun tain is too big for me to climb in a hurry. All the same, I'll climb it, if it takes ten years of my life; I'm going to be graduated from Harvard some day." The man arose, and slapped Bill on the shoulder. "That's the right kind o' stuff I" he cried, with hearty approval. "That's clear gritand, by the everlastin', I'll bet you'll get there I Stick to it, boy, and you'll win out." But, as day after day passed, and Bruce re ceived no invitation to pitch a game for either Limeport or White Springs, although he had notified the managers of both teams that, for due compensation, he might arrange to do so on almost any afternoon, his hopes of immediately making anything worth while out of baseball began to wane and weaken. Through Tommy Marshal he learned that both Limeport and the Springs had tried out new pitchers, brought from a distance at considerable expen se, and that it was said that Bannon was on a still hunt for a first class twirler, to lighten the burden which was causing Kemp to growl and rebel. Whenever the Beach played. at home, Bill could hear the shouts and cheering come drifting

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THE NET OF DESTINY 233 over from the ballground, and th ose s ou nds filled him with a fierce des i re to fling aside to ols and leather apron and hurry to the s c ene of the struggle; but, although he was sick with longing, he tried to close his ears and ignore the temptation. Knowing that it would make resistance the harder for him if he should watch a game1 he kept to the shop1 even though work had slackened so that he might easily have got off for an hour or more. One day he met Kemp face to face upon the street, but he was not at all touched-indeed, he was glad-when the other passed on as though they were total strangers. The fellow's snobbery and contempt held no sting for Bill Bruce. He likewise encountered Marion Mayhew and her mother, and it gave him some amusement to see them hold their heads high and look straight through him, with cold and haughty eyes, as though he had been an object transparent or quite beneath notice. He did not obtain a glimpse of Ethel during the first week or more following her coming to the Sagamore. At supper on Friday night Tommy Marshal behaved a bit queerly, and kept looking at Bill in an odd way. Suddenly the boy said: You don't care northin' about baseball nohow, 'do ye?" I?" said Bill, in surprise. "What makes you think so, Tommy?" "Why, you don't seem to take no interest in it. You ain't bin to see a game, though 'most

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234 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD ev'rybody round here goes; and you don't talk about it." Perhaps I care too much for baseball, and that's why I don't talk about it." I never knowed you was a player till to-day." "How did you find it out to-day?" "I heard Hal Kemp and Bannon talkin' about ye out to the field, when the team was prac ticin' this afternoon." Did you? said Bill, feeling his heart give a thump and his cheeks flush. What were they saying about me? You know, Bannon he's been tryin' to git another pitcher to help Kemp out, but he ain't had no luck, for it's so late in the season that all the good pitchers have been gobbled up. He was askin' Kemp about ye, and that was the first I ever knowed that you could pitch." "Asking Kemp about me, was he?" said Bruce slowly. "What did Kemp have to say?" Tommy was embarrassed. Oh, not a great deal," he answered evasively. I hardly fancy he said anything favorable, Tommy," said Bili encouragingly. "Come, I'll wager he didn't give me much of a boost." "Well, not much," admitted the boy, grinning. Tell me just what he did say." Why, Bannon he said suthin' about tryin' you in a game; but Kemp said you'd never last an innin' ag'inst either Limeport or the Springs. Said you just happened to pitch a _Jair game for

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THE NET OF DESTINY 235 Harvard, but that ev'rybody knowed it was acci dent and good support, and you never could do it again. He tole Bannon that both Limeport and the Springs has asked him about you, and he'd tole them you was n. g. for this league." Which was very kind of Mr. Kemp," said Bill. He knew now why he had received no over tures from the managers in the Pine Tree League, and resentment and hatred for Kemp scorched his soul like a white-hot iron. He thought of the man as maliciously holding him back in his pur pose to give his sister her one chance to be cured, and again he was obsessed by that almost uncon trollable thirst to put hands of violence on the wretch. On going to bed that night, he could not sleep. His brain was in a tumult, and he tossed and turned, vainly striving to stop thinking The murmur of the sea did not lull him as usual, but seemed to disturb and irritate him. Finally he arose, dressed, and slipped quietly out of the house for a walk in the open air. The night was close and humid, the air laden with midsummer odors, and the sky overcast, with a pallid, frazzled moon peering through the rifts at intervals. Fireflies flickered in the languid gloom of low, open spots. The hotels displayed a few faint lights, and sometimes from the veran. das of cottages came the murmuring voices of people who were loath to retire. At a distance

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236 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD he heard a woman singing, accompanied by a piano. There was something subtle, seductive in this night of subdued yet disquieting odors and sounds. Bill was agitated by a singular intoxicating emo tion which he could not understand, a yearning for something indefinable, intangible, yet potent. Unbidden, half-formed thoughts of dreamy lands of romance drifted through his disturbed mind. He found himself wandering along the shore, where the sharp sand crunched beneath his feet, and the surf seemed subdued and suppressed by the weight of the heavy air and the torpid night, which was shot through with a faint sheen of moonlight that silvered the crests of the breaking waves. He strolled southward toward the point on which the lighthouse held its lamp high, like a glowing star. Out of the misty murk two figures came toward him, arm in arm-a man and a maid, speaking low; he bending his head to look down into her upturned face, on which the moon, emerging from the heavier clouds, shed a sifted shower of light. Bill stopped in his tracks, catching his breath with a hissing sound, his horny fists clinched. The girl saw him, uttered a little cry, and shrank closer to the man. He stood motionless, and looked at Harold Kemp, as the fellow gave him a glance and said something to soothe his startled companion. They passed on, and back to Bill's

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THE NET OF DESTINY 237 ears floated a catch of laughter from the lips of the girl mingling with the laughter of the man Bruce watched their receding figures until the moonlight died as the moon wallowed into yet denser clouds, which cast a dark shadow over shore and sea-a shadow which seemed to fall blackest upon the heavy heart of the lone wan derer on the beach. Poor Ethel I whispered Bill. Poor little girl I Poor fool I

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CHAPTER XXVI STERN STUFF HIS second Sunday visit home after taking the shop at the Beach gave Bill a most agreeable surprise; for he found his father dressed, sitting up, and plainly greatly improved. "Look ye, lad," said the old man, with solemn joy, an' behold a marvel o' God's mercy. I can move my left leg, and I ha' lifted the Bible from the stand wi' my left hand. Mayhap ye remem ber the even ye read to me out o' the Good Book, an' noo a'ready, ye see, I can say wi' David: 0. gi' thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth foraver.' Trust in Him, my lad, and He wi' deliver ye safe from all trials an' affieections." There was something beautiful and grand in the old man's simple faith in the mercy of God, and more than ever Bill felt himself softened toward the religion of his parents, which had once seemed so harsh and repellent, but which had proved to be an anchor and a buoy to hold fast and sustain the soul in a time of sore disaster and distress. "Yes, Will," said his mother, her old eyes glowing, only yesterday Doctor Tinker said 238

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STERN STUFF 239 he couldna say but there might be a chance for your father to regain complete the use o' his limbs. We can see in it surely the hand o' Heaven." Bill was destined to be surprised again that day. The afternoon being warm and delightful, to the wonderment of his mother and the delight of Jennie, he induced his father, with his aid, to leave the house and sit on an old rustic bench beneath the great horsechestnut tree in the east yard. He practically carried old Duncan part of the distance, but the invalid made a display of strength and improvement that augured well for the future. The second surprise came while they were all sitting in the shade of the tree, Bill telling of his work at the-Beach; Jennie, her crutch beside her, sitting on the grass at his feet, and the lamb nibbling near by. A man rode up on horseback, turned into the yard, and dismounted. "Well," he said, coming forward with the bridle rein of the horse over his arm, may I be blowed if I ain't found ye without askin' no directions of anybody." His face glowing, Bill arose and grasped the outstretched hand of Benjamin Mayhew, whom he introduced to his parents. The man uncovered his bald head as he bowed before Mrs. Bruce, and declared his satisfaction at meeting Bill's mother. Ye'll ha' to grant pardon if I dinna nse,

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240 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD sir," said old Duncan, shaking hands with May hew; "but I ha' met wi' a slight meesfortune, and I am na quite so spry as I should be other wise." "Keep your settin', Mr. Bruce-keep your set tin'," requested Mayhew. "Your son he's told me about it, and I'm right glad to see that you're gittin' up and out ag'in. Dunno's I know just how to sympathize, never havin' been sick a day in my life, though I once did get a dirty knife jab in the shoulder that come cussed near puttin' me on the shelf." He mopped his head with his handkerchief, and turned his eyes on Jennie. "So this is your sister, is it, Bill? She looks somethin' like ye, boy. Howdy do, little chick? Now, don't you disturb yourself; set right there where ye be. You folks ain't got no idee what a sorter comfortable picter you all made, a-settin' out here under this tree, as I come up. This is what suits me to a charm; it's got loafin' round on the veranda of the Sagamore beat a mile, and I'd rather have a little country home like this than the finest stone house on Bay State Road. I'm sorter old-fashioned, and puttin' on frills and style and doing the swell society act ain't in my line none at all. I get so damned sick of it sometimes that I'm ready to crawl into a ground hog's hole and stay there for a rest. I beg your pardon, madam, but I've got such a habit of ex pressin' myself strong that I sometimes forget when a lady is present."

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STERN STUFF Insisting that the visitor should sit on the bench beside his father, Bill took charge of the horse, which he hitched near by. "The little pony's rather light for me," said Mayhew, as Bruce returned; "but I couldn't get another saddle horse at the Beach to-day, and I wanted to ride over here and see ye at home, boy. The critter's plumb cured of its lameness, thanks to you. That was a good job, and I don't feel that I half paid ye for it; but mebbe I'll square the account some time." "You've more than squared it, Mr. Mayhew," declared Bill. "You've kept me from being lonesome by visiting me at the sh. op and talking with me when I was a bit blue for the want of company." Say, boy, I reckon you wasn't thirstin' for agreeable comp'ny no more'n I was. Real men with the bark on are powerful scarce around the Sagamore; I don't cotton to the sort that finds it a howling diversion to drink afternoon tea and talk folderol with a bunch of women; and, when it comes to dancing with enameled, bare-necked, giddy old girls, who oughter be dangling grand children on their laps, you can me com plete. None of that nonsense for Ben Mayhew, thankee." Dancing," said old Duncan, is invented o' the devil." "Well, I dunno about that," laughed May hew. I reckon it's all right for young people_i \

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242 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD but it is plumb ridiculous to see a lot of starched up old has-beens that should know better a-pran cing around coltish to fiddle music." Mq. Bruce regarded the visitor with silent dis approval, of which, however, he was wholly un aware. Bill turned the drift of conversation by speaking of the weather, but this simply led May hew to anathematize the heat and denounce the advertisements which had lured him to Balsam Beach by proclaiming it a cool and restful resort. "It's cold enough when the east wind blows and the confounded fogs come in from the Bay of Fundy," he said; "but other times it's hotter'n the hinges o'-the-the hot place; and as for rest, a man with societj-stung wife and daughter has to step some to keep up with the procession. I swear I'm about ready to throw up my hand, quit the game, and go back to town all by my lone some, to see if I can't find a little real rest and recooperation." Mrs. Bruce made an excuse to leave them, but when she would have taken Jennie into the house, Mayhew asked her to let the child stay; which she did with reluctance, as though she feared the little girl might hear from the lips of this rough spoken man language not suitable for her ears. Mayhew observed the lamb, as it kept near Jennie, and began talking to her about her pet. At first she was somewhat shy about answering; but there was something encouraging in his manner, which softened toward her, in a way;

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STERN STUFF 243 and slowly he drew her into conversation, al though at times she glanced toward her father, fearing his disapproval if she should talk too much. But old Duncan made no sign, and the look on her brother's face gave her heart, and she chattered on in her unaffected childish way, which, however, had something pathetically old and sad about it. Mrs. Bruce, returning after a time, was sur prised and almost dismayed to find Jennie seated on Ben Mayhew's knee, and again she would have taken her away; but the man objected laughingly, saying that they had become great friends already, and that he was just talking to her about her brother's plan to take her to the doctor who might cure her lameness I am much afeared, sir," said old Duncan, that Will ha' been indiscreet in raisin' false hopes i' the child's breast." "I dunno about that," said Mayhew. "I've heard about that there doctor, and report says he does plumb remarkable things." "It isna that, sir; but I canna see, wi' a' the other load on his shoulders, how the lad ever can raise the money to pay expenses. Ye see, Mr. Mayhew, it ha' pleased the Lord to lay a great burden upon us, but we mun bear it i' patience and humility." "Well, now, I can't agree with ye on that point; for I don't believe the Lord had a blamed thing to do with it. As for patience and humil-

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244 BILL BRUCE 0.F HARVARD ity, they're right excellent qualifications for beasts of burden, but they don't often help hustlin' human bein's on the road to success. It takes brains, sand, and fightin' blood to succeed in these times; and I've got an idee that Bill is made up of that sort o' stuff. I'll back him as a winner, and it ain't often I fail to pick the critter that's due to come under the wire first. I like Bill, and I've told him so. Hirn and me has got to be right good friends, and I'm reckon in' on him rnakin' good in this game he's up ag'inst." Duncan shook his head. "Ye're not a relee gious man, Mr. Mayhew, and until ye shall be born again ye canna understand them that are. It is the teaching o' the Master o' which I ha' spoke to ye." I ain't lookin' to git into an argument on religion," grinned Mayhew; "and I acknowl edge rnebbe that side o' my natur' is some de ficient. I'm just a plain, ordinary human critter; but my doctrine is the doctrine o' pluck and push. There's nothin' in this world a man o' determination can't get if he just wants it bad enough; and I reckon that them that's honest and just, kind with their families, and square with their neighbors, is goin' to stand about as good chance o' gittin' past old Saint Pete as most o' the church members." Mrs. Bruce was shocked, and her husband lapsed into grim, disapproving silence.

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STERN STUFF 245 Mayhew lingered a while longer, talking with Bill and Jennie. Finally he declared that he must go, and Bill brought the horse. Before leaving, the visitor lifted Jennie in his strong arms and kissed her, saying earnestly: "Just you keep on believin' that you're goin' to be cured by that doctor, little girl, and I shouldn't wonder if it come true; for you've got the right kind of a brother, and he's goin' to do his level best for ye. Mebbe I'll see ye ag'in some day, too, when I get hungry for some body to talk to, and Bill's too busy to have me botherin' him." He shook hands with Bill, bade old Duncan and his wife good-day, and rode off down the road, waving his hand as he was passing from view. For some minutes following the visitor's de parture, the little group beneath the chestnut tree was silent. Finally Bill spoke up. "Mr. Mayhew is rough and brusque," he said apologetically; but I'm sure he shows his worst side. I like him, for he's been sociable and saved me some lonesome hours at the Beach." "And I like him," said quickly, "'cause he likes you." He's an unregenerate, ungodly man," said old Duncan. Ye shouldna cast your lot wi' sin ners, lad, nor find pleasure in their company." He is coarse and profane, Will," said his mother. "I fear such a man wi' do ye harm."

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CHAPTER XXVII THE LIAR ONE day, as Bill was returning to the shop after dinner, which was served at midday at the Marshals', he heard his name called by a musical, girlish voice as he was passing the Sagamore, and, turning, he saw Agnes Hastings coming toward him, with Tweed Traddles trotting dog fashion at her heels, carrying a pair of tennis racquets. He recognized her instantly, although he had not seen her since Class Day, and he felt his heart give a knock at his ribs and then con tinue to flutter there. She was dressed in a most fetching summer gown, and, as usual, her cheeks were aglow and her eyes sparkling. To add to the surprise and confusion of Bruce, she offered him her hand right there before all those staring people on the hotel veranda. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw you, Mr. Bruce," she said, with a laugh, as he falter ingly, almost fearfully, permitted her to place her slender, warm fingers in his palm. I had to ask Twiddy if it was really you. What in the world are you doing here at Balsam Beach.? "I'm wor-working here, Miss Hastings,'1 he 246

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THE LIAR 247 answered, although the slight stammer was not caused by any feeling of shame at being forced into such a confession; for he was undisturbed by false pride, and he had never regarded honest labor as a disgrace. At that moment, standing before her in his plain clothes, a loose dark tie knotted under the collar of his blue woolen shirt, his finely-shaped head bared, he looked much better than he had at Cambridge, adorned in the best suit he owned. Indeed, she quickly decided that this man whom she had fancied as quite different was really almost handsome, in a way; and surely there was something fine and strong about him which she missed in most of the polished and tiresomely worldly-wise young men -whom she knew. In spite of his awkwardness, there was in his per sonality an attraction, a magnetism which she had felt pronouncedly at their first meeting, and which now seemed ever more evident; and he was not by any means a boor or a common rustic, for, although reared in the country, his home life and training had developed a certain digni fied simplicity of manner which betokened the gentleman by nature. Miss Hastings "-Traddles grinned-" you behold before you the village blacksmith. The smith, a mighty man is he, .. With large and sinewy hands; And the mu s cles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands."

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248 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Oh-a blacksmith I said Agnes. Really and truly? Why, I always thought blacksmiths wore dirty clothes and had grimy hands. It doesn't seem possible." Yet, as she said it, there was nothing in her words to cause pain or em barrassment; indeed, it brought a smile to Bill's face, and in a moment, without an apparent effort, she had put him at his ease. He had thought her charming the first time they met, and now she seemed to be far more so. "I am working in the hotel blacksmith shop, Miss Hastings," he explained. "My home is only a few miles from Balsam Beach. But I did not dream of seeing you here. When did you come?" "Yesterday. Stan is with me. I think this place and I want to stay here a whole month. I'm going to take in all the baseball games. Do you play? "No." "Why not? I should think they'd want you, the man who downed Yale, the successor to the great Bob Downing. Oh, I'll never forget that game at Cambridge, when they put you in to pitch after Hal Kemp was batted out of the box I Nobody expected you could save that game; you won it with your grand pitching and that splen did hit in the ninth inning. But the game at New Haven was even better. Why, you never gave the Elis a single score-not even a safe hitand you made the only run for Harvard. How

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THE LIAR 249 the Harvard crowd did shriek and roar! I was so excited I didn't know what I was doing-and I broke my parasol." The remembrance filled her with enthusiasm which she seemed to radiate like an electric dynamo. She was totally oblivious to the staring people on the veranda, who were wondering why the pretty girl in tennis dress should stand there before them all talking animatedly to that tall, plain-looking "native." Traddles, however, was aware of the battery of eyes turned on them, and he fidgeted uneasily as she continued, with undiminished earnestness, to speak of baseball and Bill Bruce's accom plishments in the two games in which she had seen him take part. She was amazed to learn from Bill that he had not even seen one of the games in the Pine Tree League. I don't see how you can stay away," she said Does your work confine you as closely as that?" "No," he answered, smiling a little; "but, as I can't play, I think it best to keep away. If I should attend a game, I might get so interested that I'd chase them up and neglect my duties in the shop." Thus he hid from her the real heart of his reason for shunning the games. Will your brother play, do you think? "No-o," she replied," I don't believe he will. You know, Stan isn't a real crank, like me; and besides, he says the kind of baseball they are

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250 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD playing here savors too much of professionalism for him. Still, Hal Kemp is playing." Kemp does lots of things he wouldn't like to see reported in the Sunday papers," chuckled Twiddy; "but I don't believe, now that you've arrived, he'll hang around the cigar stand in the hotel as much as he has been doing." Oh, he needn't alter his habits in the least on my account," said the girl, with a slight, disdain ful shrug of her shapely shoulders. His interest in any attraction he may have discovered at the cigar stand doesn't concern me, although it's a bit amusing." "Well, Marion Mayhew hasn't found
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THE LIAR turned back along the veranda, and found Stan Hastings reading a summer novel at the far end. Hal drew up one of the big chairs, and seated himself. Stan," he said, "just now I happened to see Agnes talking to that clodhopper Bruce." "What Bruce?" asked Hastings, turning down a leaf in the book. "Why, you know, Bill Bruce-you know that hayseed freshman Bill Bruce I cried Stan, surprised. Is he here?" Yes, he's here, working in the hotel black smith shop He lives out here in the country a few miles. Agnes was talking to him directly in front of the hotel, and everybody on the veranda was staring at her. You know, Bruce is a jay, and he looks the part. I think you had better caution Agnes, for you don't want the peo ple here to imagine she is on friendly terms with that man. It will cause talk." I wouldn't disturb myself abotlt her if I were you, Hal," said Hastings, somewhat warmly. "I feel quite positive she won't do anything very shocking. As for you, it seems that you haven't much to say, considering what I've heard about you already since arriving here Kemp flushed. Who has been telling you anything about me? he demanded sharply. "According to Traddles, your conduct with the girl who waits on the cigar stand is a matter

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252 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD of general gossip, and has greatly offended Ma rion Mayhew and her mother." Traddles is an ass-a consummate ass I blazed Hal. I'll wring his neck I "I wouldn't do that, Hal. A man like you can't afford to go carriage driving and strolling by moonlight with a girl he wouldn't intro duce to the young ladies of his own set-and I hardly presume you'd do that with the cigar girl." Oh, a fellow's got to amuse himself some how, Stan, especially in an inf em ally dull hole like this. Every chap does it, you know. The Vane girl is rather pretty, but her head is as empty as a drum, and I'm tired of her. I give you my word I did it to harrow giddy old Mamma Mayhew, more than anything else. That woman kept on my trail like a Pawnee Indian; I couldn't turn round that she wasn't there with Marion, and she persisted in thrusting Marion on my hands at every conceivable excuse. I got desperate, old man. Actual rudeness didn't seem to feaze either of them, but when I flirted a bit with the Vane girl they had spasms. The old dame threw a few fits, gathered Marion under her wing, and withdrew from the field with great hauteur-and I thanked Heaven sincerely. That was the game, Stan; I had to play it for self protection. I'm going to cut the country maiden out, now." "You couldn't afford it, Kemp; it was a bad

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THE LIAR 253 play. Agnes is dead on, and you know I've never been highly successful in my efforts to awaken her special interest in you." But she seems to take special interest in Bill Bruce." That's because of his great work on the slab at Harvard. She's a baseball crank, to the bone. And, speaking of baseball, Hal, how does it hap pen you are playing here on a team which I understand is made up of salaried men? Aren't you taking chances of being branded as a profesh?" Kemp was uneasy. Oh, I don't think so. You know, this back country league isn't con nected with any regular association." That doesn't make any difference; the play ers on these teams-the most of them, at any rate -are salaried men. I don't suppose you are tak ing money for your playing? "I should say not!" cried Kemp, with a great show of indignation. I don't have to. You know that." Yes, I know that," nodded Hastings; but I know they pay pitchers foolishly attractive salaries down here, and I haven't forgotten that letter." "What letter?" "The one you showed me at Heublein's in New Haven. It was from the manager of this same Balsam Beach nine, and contained an offer of one hundred dollars a week and board at this

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254 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD very hotel if you would come here and pitch. Here you are I Stan had turned the veranda rocker somewhat to bring himself around, facing Kemp, at whom he gazed steadily with his fine, dark-brown eyes, which seemed to be seeking the truth in Hal's face. In spite of every effort at self-control and an assumed air of injured innocence, Kemp felt that both his face and manner overflowed with betrayal, and, in sudden irrepressible wrath, he swore. What in hell do you take me for, Hastings? he blazed. Do you think I'm a cheap skate, a common mucker? You know I wouldn't play professional baseball for five hundred a week. It's an insult for you to--" Stan checked him with an uplifted hand. least," he said, I take you for a gentleman. The lady. yonder heard your language." You have no right to insinuate that I would play for money," rasped Hal, lowering his voice, but maintaining that air of outraged indigna tion which his anger made appear exceed ingly natural and unassumed. It certainly was the last thing I could have expected from you. If I even needed money it would be different, but you are aware that my circumstances--" "Yes, I know about that," nodded Hastings, not at all disturbed by the fellow's resentful furore; but you will admit that it must seem

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THE LIAR 255 a bit suspicious to me to find you playing ball here, after being shown that letter in which the manager of this very team held out all sorts of blandishments to induce you to bite at his sur prising offer, telling of many college men who ac cepted salaries, and elaborating a scheme by which you might obtain the weekly amount and live, all expenses paid, at this hotel, without sign ing a contract or making as much as a direct written or oral acceptance of the proposition. It was to be arranged so that you could say, without lying, that for your baseball playing you did not receive a dollar from the hand of any man.' I remember very well indeed with what subtle care and craft that letter was worded. And here you are I Kemp cooled down wonderfully during this speech, and when it was finished he snapped his fingers and burst out laughing. Really, old man," he said, I had almost forgotten about the cleverness with which that letter was constructed. Taking it all into conI suppose it must seem rather singular to find m<; playing baseball on this team, and I don't wonder that you look at it as you do. I came here by chance, after any memory of Ban non's offer had passed from my mind; for I de stroyed that letter. I found it dull, and jumped at the chance to play baseb a ll for amusement. I hope you'll believe me when I swear on my word of honor as a gentleman that there's nothing in

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256 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD it for me but sport-absolutely nothing. You'll take my word, won't you? "Certainly," said Stan, with hearty satisfac tion. When you say it that way, I believe you, Hal. Give me a cigarette, please." Both lighted cigarettes, and they fell to talking of other matters in an easy and amicable manner.

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CHAPTER XXVIII THROWN OVER -KEMP proceeded to besiege Agnes with atten tions, ignoring her indifference and coldness, which at times amounted to positive disdain. He seemed to be absorbed by a sort of desperate determination which would brook no rebuff, and in his colossal egotism he refused to believe that there could be a girl on earth who must not in course of time succumb to his charms of per sonality. It must be admitted that every precedent had been of a sort to establish such a conviction in his mind; for, with conquering confidence and with out pleading or entreaty, he had never failed to win for his own those of the sex who chanced to captivate his fancy. Where others, held firmly aloof by some seemingly unapproachable fair one, faltered, lost heart, and gave up the effort as hopeless, he stepped in without hesitation or doubt, and serenely carried off the pnze. Ethel Vane quickly felt a change in Hal's manner toward her, and it filled her with alarm, dismay, and anger; for, like the silly little crea ture that she was, she had thought him truly in 257

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258 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD love with her, and had believed every whispered word and lying promise which he had breathed into her eager ears. She quickly grew nervous, anxious, preoccupied, and pale. The smiles which she had been charged to bestow without favor on the patrons of the cigar stand faded from her face; and her indifference to business became so marked that the hotel manager found occasion to warn her that she would have to do better. All day long she watched for a glimpse of Kemp as he sauntered with his habitual swagger through the lobby, and she would sigh when he passed without as much as a glance in her direc tion. She thought how at first, disdainful of com ment, he had often lingered over the cigar case to chat and laugh with her; but he no longer ap proached, even to make purchases. She had feared to reproach him because of this growing coldness; for, in spite of the intimacy between them, she still regarded him with more or less awe as a scion of wealth and a person of a higher social stratum than herself; but day by day, as she brooded, anger kindled and burned within her, fanned by jealousy when she beheld his un tiring pursuit of and devoted attentions to Agnes Hastings. Formerly Kemp had seemed eager to make appointments with her, and, when possible, they had met each night somewhere outside the hotel; but now there we re nq more evening strolls on

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THROWN OVER 259 the beach, no more delightful drives along un frequented country roads. One evening, as she was turning in the day's receipts at the desk, spe saw Kemp pass through the office and leave the hotel. As soon as pos sible, she followed him. Reaching the main street of the village, she saw him enter a drug store, through the window of which, standing on the opposite side of the way, she watched him purchase several packages of cigarettes. When he came out, smoking, she continued to follow him, and, on a corner, as he turned to retrace his steps, they met face to face. "Ethel I" he said, surprised and annoyed. Trembling with excitement, she put her hand on his arm. "I want to talk with you, Hal," she said. "Won't you walk down to the beach?" "No," he answered, somewhat gruffly, "not to-night." "Why not? You must. I haven't seen you for days-it seems like months. I must have a talk with you." It's impossible," he declared decisively. I'm going to cut that business out; for it is making gossip, and I can't afford to have people talking about me." Why, you never seemed to care for that. You said you didn't mind the wagging tongues of the people at the hotel; you laughed at their chatter. If you did care, you should have thought of it before. It isn't that. I know what

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260 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD it is. You can't fool me. It's that dark-haired girl from Boston. Oh, I can see a thing or two, Mr. Kemp I But you shan't shake me for her in any such a mean way." While that interview lasted, it was decidedly unpleasant for Kemp. At first she upbraided him almost wildly, although she was frightened by her own boldness; and then she fell to coaxing and pleading. When Hal returned to the hotel, Traddles was lounging on the almost deserted veranda. He hailed Kemp's appearance with joy. "Deuced lonesome, old chap," he said. "Sit down, and let's have a smoke. Where have you been, you sly dog-taking a stroll with the little cigar girl? Twiddy," said Kemp, sinking gracefully i nto the embrace of a big rocker, you talk too much with your mouth. You make me weary. If you hadn't been such a natural-born ass, I should have trimmed you good and proper for tattling to Stan Hastings and his sister. You succeeded in queering me with Agnes to such an extent that it will cause me to be carefully circumspect for some time, in order to reinstate myself. There's only one method by which you can square your self." "Hanged if I'm not sorry, Hal. I didn't think." You never do-that's the matter with you. If you'd try to use your meager supply of gray mat-

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THROWN OVER 261 ter for thinking purposes, perhaps you wouldn't be such an unmitigated chump." "It seemed like a joke, and I thought you didn't care; you didn't seem to care for the May hews, and I knew they'd tell on you." Yes, that's right. I realized it, and declined to let the sun set on the wrath I bore you." What do you want me to do to square myself? Want me to tell Agnes it was nothing but josh ing? I'll say you simply jollied a bit with the Vane girl and set the old hens around here to cackling." "That wouldn't do any good, and it's a safe bet you'd mess it and make matters worse. You know you can't cut any ice with Agnes; so what's the use to doddle around after her? If you must have a fair one to amuse you, there's Ethel Vane. In that way you can help me out, and do some thing to square yourself." Twiddy sat bolt upright, and stared while Kemp calmly lighted a fresh cigarette. After a time the astonished little chap breathed: "Well, I'll be blowed I Have a cigarette," said Hal. Here are some fresh ones I just bought down at the drug store." Traddles accepted one from the box, but did not light it for several moments. Finally he laughed, and struck a match. "You're a cooler, Kemp," he mumbled, with the cigarette between his lips and his cupped

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262 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD hands reflecting the light of the match upon his soft, good-natured face. So you're tired of the country maid, and you want me to take her off your hands." "That's about the size of it," admitted Kemp unblushingly. For looks she's got more than half the summer girls around this place beaten a: Philadelphia square. She won't encumber you much, for she's busy all day ; but she's very fond of moonlight strolls and things which savor of the clandestine and romantic." Traddles blushed, and yet he was pleased by Kemp's proposition. But she's gone on you, Hal," he said, and I don't fancy she'd even look at anyone else." "I think she will. We've had our little fall ing out, and she must realize that the jig is up. Doesn't the idea appeal to you? I don't know. She isn't so worse, that's true. I'll have to think it over. I'd feel like thirty cents if I should lay myself out to shine up to her and then get the frigid stand-off." "You won't. I'll give you odds that she'll fall to you like a ripe plum. I've got to pitch to morrow, and I'm going to hit the feathers pretty soon. If old Bannon doesn't get another man to relieve me in the hard games, I'm going to draw the line. He's depending on me altogether too much." But, as long as you're not on salary, you don't have to P.,itch unless you want to."

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THROWN OVER H Oh, of course not," said Kemp hastily; "but I take some pride in the team, and as long as I'm on it I should hate to see it slump. What's that newspaper in your pocket?" The Star." Let me take it to look over before going to bed, will you? I'd like to see what stocks are doing. This cursed slump has knocked the bot tom clean out of the market, and it wouldn't surprise me if the bears had my old man flying signals of distress." You don't mean that the house is in any danger, do you? Hardly that," answered Kemp, accepting the paper from Traddles. The old boy is too slick at the game to let 'em squeeze him dry, although I've known him to be pinched pretty hard more than once. He's full of resources, however, and he always pulls out right side up with care. Coming on to bed, Trad? S'pose I may as well," said Twiddy. "Nothing to stay up any longer for." The next day Traddles bought six packs of cigarettes of Ethel Vane at six different times, lingering near the stand on each occasion to make some light agreeable talk with the girl, and exer cising his powers of fascination and flattery to their full extent. He was satisfied over his prog ress; for Ethel, hoping to stir Kemp to jealousy, was more than ready to flirt. That evening he walked with her on the beach.

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264 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Joe Vane had discovered that some misunder standing had occurred between his sister and Kemp, and, chancing to observe her returning from that stroll with Twiddy, he was both aston ished and angered. As soon as he had eaten breakfast on the following morning, he hurried to the Sagamore. Say," he growled, "what's the matter with you, anyhow? Have you gone dippy? What do you mean by promenading evenings with that little two-spot I seen you with last night? You must have bats in your belfry." I presume I am at liberty to walk out with any gent I choose," returned the girl sharply. It's no business to you, Joe." Oh, isn't it, now? Well, I ruther think it is. Are you trying to queer yourself with Hal Kemp?" "Mr. Kemp is absolutely nothing to me," averred Ethel, with a toss of her head. Joe was staggered. Look here, what's the matter between you and him?" he asked anx iously. I've seen there was somethin' up. I hope you ain't fool enough to have a fuss with Kempie. He's all right. He's a corker, and I told you to stick by him. If you don't you'll make the biggest mistake ever-now, that's straight. He's a swell, and he's got money." "There are others," said Ethel. There's mighty few in his class. Not that little peanut you was with, Kemp could

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THROWN OVER buy and sell that monkey. If you've had any trouble with Hal, just you fix it up in a hurry, sis. I've been having a bad streak the last few days; and I've got it in the neck for fair. Kemp s always been free and liberal with me, but how can I give him the touch if you and him is on the outs?" She was flushed and outraged now, and Joe suddenly thought that he had never seen her look so well. You want me to crawl round after that fel low so that you can borrow money from him, do you? she said, in a low, vibrant tone. I thank you, but I've got some pride. Mr. Kemp may as well understand first as last that I'll be no second string to his bow. He can't pick me up and drop me when he pleases. Anyhow, I'm not likely to get stung in the same way more than once. Let him stick to his high-toned Boston girl. I'll show him there are other fellows besides him." A light broke on young Vane. So that's what's the matter, is it? Come, sis, don't be a goose. Of course Kemp's got to be nice to swell girls he knows, but he thinks you're just about the smoothest article that ever came down the pike; for he told me so. If you're up to snuff, you'll stick by him just the same, and work him to the limit. Don't get green-eyed over other girls he happens to shine up to a bit. Be wise, and tangle him so tight he can't break away

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266 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD without doing the right thing. I suppose you went and got hot under the collar and told him to chase himself. You can't afford it, Ethel." But she had listened to Kemp in faith and complete belief, and all Joe's urging affected her determination not at all. Joe could not understand, and, in high dudgeon; he finally left her, swearing that all girls were alike, fools without exception.

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CHAPTER XXIX BILL SEES A GAME THE season in the Pine Tree League was at its height, and Bruce had abandoned the idea of earning money by playing baseball, when, on re turning to the shop one day after dinner, he found Joe Vane and Tim Dugan there. Joe was trying to take a half-emptied bottle of whisky from Dugan, who was plainly intoxicated. Lemme alone I growled Tim, pushing his companion away. W'at's der matter wit' yer? I'm all right. I'm onter your curves; you wanter drink it all up yerself." "You're loaded to the guards, Tim," said Joe, unaware that Bill had entered and was stand ing behind him. "You've got to catch this afternoon, and you won't be able to see the ball when it comes over if you don't quit right now." "Oh, fergit it-fergit it! I know my capacity, an' I don't need no guardeen. Dis is der first decent stuff I've got me mitts on sence comin' up here inter dis forsaken country, where dey make der booze outer carbolic acid an' e x trac' of log wood. Anodder drink won't do me no hurt; it'll just brace me up."

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268 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD "Another swaller will be your finish. You've got all you can carry." Dugan 's bloodshot eyes fell on Bill. 'Lo I he mumbled thickly. "Here's your frien', Joeyour frien' you said was such a honeycooler, though I ain't seen him pitchin' in no games round here. Mebbe you t'ink I'm drunk, but I'll leave it ter him if I ain't sober-disgustin'ly sober." Joe turned apologetically to Bruce. Hope you don't mind, Will," he said, "but I had to get Tim outer sight, and I brdught him in here. He's soused for fair. I'm tryin' to keep him from tankin' up any more, so he'll be able to catch this afternoon." I don't believe he'll be able to do that now," declared Bill, surveying with mingled aversion and pity the man, who could not stand without swaying unsteadily to the point 6f lurching. "The Beach will need another catcher to-day." Hear that, Tim I cried Joe. Now will you quit? Do you want to get fired? You know what Bannon told you the last time." Bannon can go to blazes I snarled Dugan. He won't turn me down, fer he can't git no man ter fill me place. If it wasn't for me, w'at would dem kid pitchers do? I know how ter work der batters, an' dat's w'at makes der pitchin' count. Wit' a raw backstop ter hold him, Kemp hisself would be pounded all over der pastures. But he makes me sick, for he t'inks he's der

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BILL SEES A GAME 269 whole t'ree-ring circus and a couple er side-shows t'rown in. Some time he'll get his, an' mebbe it'll reduce der size of his nut some. Won't you have something wit' me?" This invitation was extended to Bill, and Dugan held out the uncorked bottle. Vane snatched it suddenly and threw it out of the open back window of the shop. A crash of glass had barely announced the fate of the bottle and its contents when, with a howl of anger, the intoxi cated man flung himself on Vane, clutching him by the throat. Joe was like a child in the hands of Dugan. Bruce interfered instantly; seizing Dugan's wrists, he broke his hold and thrust Vane aside, beyond reach. Joe staggered against the wall of the building, which kept him from falling Then, to his wonderment, he saw the young blacksmith handle Tim Dugan with positive ease, quickly forcing him down into a sitting position on a box, and holding him in spite of his fierce struggles to free himself and arise. He smashed me bottle," wheezed Dugan, his face purple with wrath and the strain of his in effectual efforts. I'll break his mug I "Not in this shop," said Bill grimly. "You may as well keep still, for you can't get up now." Vane wondered at Bill's surprising strength. He had regarded Dugan as a powerful man; yet Bruce mastered him, suppressed him, held him helpless, apparently without half trying. After

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270 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD a time, the struggling man gave up and sat there, panting. "W'at's der matter wit' youse?" he gurgled resentfully. Dis ain't none o' your funeral, nohow." Bill began talking to the man in an earnest way, telling him that Joe had acted as his friend, and seeking to convince him of his folly. He com pelled Dugan to listen; but the befuddled man was impressed as much by the smith's superior strength as by the logic of his words. "That's the truth, Tim," said Joe. "You know I ain't no crank, and if you want to get a bun on I won't make a holler, if you'll take an off day when you ain't got to catch. The Springs is gettin' dangerous, and we'll drop into second posish if we lose to-day. Bannon's worried, and he's made Kemp agree to pitch. I've got a ten spot up on the game a'ready." Dugan pulled down the corners of his mouth and, with an effort, turned his ble ared eyes upon Vane. I wouldn't mind if 'twasn't so cussed hard to get decent stuff ter drink round dese parts,'' he mumbled sullenly. "You hadn't no right ter wa'ste it. W'at do I care if old Ban's worried I He reckons it's all in der pitchin', and Kemp's got everybody bluffed inter t'inkin' him der great est wiz ever. He's got curves an' speed, but dere ain't nuttin'
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BILL SEES A GAME 271 prayer dat could trim him a mile. It's been me work behind der willers dat's kept der team where it is, but I don't see no bokays comin' my way." Ev'rybody knows what you've done, Tim, and we depend on you to-day. If you can't catch, we'll lose sure. Try ter sober up, and if we win I'll buy you a quart after the game." Aw, g'wan l I can get me own stuff after der game; w'at I needs is enough ter keep me nerve stiddy now. Me boy, you're takin' yer life in your ban's w'en yer gits gay wit' me same as ye did jest now. If 't'adn't been fer dis young gent wit' de iron mitts, I'd cert'inly wrung your neck fer smashin' dat bottle." Having relieved his feelings with this statement, Dugan became calm and resigned in a boozy way, and there was no further trouble to restrain him. Half an hour before the game was to begin, Vane and the catcher left the shop, Dugan appearing to be somewhat sobered, although he was plainly in poor condition to play base ball. Bill had no work whatever to do, and he tried in vain to find something at which he could busy his hands and occupy his mind. It was lonely in the shop, and Ben Mayhew had not appeared for several days-which led the young smith to fancy that the man was becoming wearied of his society, Bruce was annoyed by an intense restlessness, a yearning for something; and this, he finally con-

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272 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD eluded, was a gnawing desire to divert himself by watching one of the league games. At last he re moved his apron, washed up, made sure his clothes were brushed clean, donned coat and cap, and left the shop. He made his way to the stables, which were located near by, and found a hostler who promised to watch the shop and call him from the ball field in case he should be needed. The game was in progress, and Kemp was pitch ing for his team in the first half of the second in ning. As Bill entered, Hal shot over a scorch ing high inshoot. The batter swiped desperately, missed, spun round like a top, and then savagely flung his bat aside; for it was his third failure, and the Beachites were shouting from the bleachers. Bruce had hurried to reach the field until he found himself running, and now he was panting a little; but it was from a sensation of eagerness to which he had finally yielded, rather than be cause of such light exertion. Like a war horse, he seemed to sniff the smoke of battle; while his eye kindled, his cheek glowed, and his heart beat high. The emotions which moved him were like those experienced by one long exiled from home and the scenes beloved, when fortune per mits him again to plant his feet upon his native heath. It was the third put-out for the Beach, and Kemp walked toward the bench, swaggering the

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BILL SEES A GAME 273 least bit and smiling egotistically as he lifted his cap in recognition of the applause which came from the covered grand stand, where men and women were clapping their hands and waving handkerchiefs. Bill also smiled, a trifle sar castically, for he had often seen the man bear himself in that same superior, conceited, half disdainful manner, which was offensive yet amusing. The opposing pitcher was a youngster whom the White Springs manager had unearthed in some remote rural region-a fellow who had "country" written all over him, husky, hard as nails, greatly lacking in experience, but built of the right stuff and greedy for slab work. He had a good face, and Bruce conceived an instant liking for him. But I suppose that's because he's pitching against Kemp," thought Bill. "That's enough to make me like almost any man." He was some what ashamed of this feeling, which he regarded as pure fatuity. The first man up hit and was sacrificed to second; for the Springs catcher was a wonder ful thrower to bases, and past experience had taught the Beachites that it was folly for a run ner to attempt a steal unless he could get a big lead on the pitcher's delivery. The chattering coaches, the tense excitement of the eager spectators, the dull sound of the ball striking the catcher's mitt, the eye's motion picture

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274 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD of the field of players and the watching throng in summer garb, a background of green woods and purple hills, overhead that inverted bowl they call the sky," blue as a royal sapphire; and the summer sun lavishing a shower of golden light over the world-such a scene, in such a setting, was enough to stir the most sluggish blood. That he might be readily found should he be sought by the hostler, Bill remained in the vicinity of the gate, together with a little bunch of standees. He saw another batter reach first by a scratch single, and then the two runners moved along on a slow grounder toward first which cost the hitter dear and obviated all chance for a "squeeze play." Nevertheless, although two were out, a fine, heady sticker came next in order; and a portion of the crowd on the bleachers began rooting for runs. Whether or not the pitcher was disturbed by this, he promptly handed out a pass and filled the corners. One of his team-mates aroused Tim Dugan by giving him a shake and informing him that it was his turn at bat, Dugan took a long breath, blinked his eyes, found a bat, and hoisted him self apathetically to his feet. "Come, Duge," urged the captain of the team; "get against it and give us some runs now. We've got to have 'em." While the local catcher was pulling himself together at the plate, the pitcher whipped over a straight one for a called strike.

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BILL SEES A GAME 275 "Dat's all right," muttered Dugan. "Just do it ag'in, an' I'll knock der cover off." Bill saw that the man was in a condition of torpor resulting from the relapse following his indulgence in liquor, and it was not surprising that Dugan should strike blindly and aimlessly at the next ball, although it was plainly beyond his reach. The angry captain of the team sharply implored him to "use his head," but it did no good; for Tim struck at the third ball after it was in the qiitt of the backstop, completing a fan-out that awakened the ridicule of the specta tors and filled his fellow-players with exaspera tion. "Hello, Bruce!" said a voice at Bill's elbow, and he turned to see Stan Hastings lighting a cigarette. So you're taking in the game. Couldn't smoke in the grand stand without blowing it into the faces of the ladies, and I came over here for a whiff. Besides, I was bored to death with Traddles, and I left Agnes to endure him as best she can. What do you think of the game?" There was something unusually friendly in Stan's manner; for Hastings had always car ried himself distantly toward Bill, except when they were on the ball field together. "I haven't seen much of it-only half of a full inning. I don't even know how the score stands." The Beach made three runs in the first inning, mainly on errors. The other team hasn't scored yet; but it will directly, unless that catcher

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276 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD braces up. He's numb, and he can't hold Kemp I think he's been drinking." Shouldn't wonder," nodded Bill. I've been thinking," said Stan, that there might be a little sport in picking up a team to play the Beach some day when they're not busy with their regular schedule. I don't care such a deuced lot about baseball, you know; but I'm tired of golf and tennis, and it would be some ... thing for amusement. I've met two or three chaps who can play some, and we might find enough local players to fill out a nine. Mentioned it to Agnes, and she had spasms of enthusiasm. Said it would be jolly good sport, and even pre dicted that we'd make the leaguers go some if you would pitch. How does the idea hit you, old man?" Bill promptly and frankly confessed that it hit him most favorably, owning up that he was really thirsting to into a game. "We'll talk it over and see what can be done," said Hastings. Look at Kemp He's warm, all right. Dugan dropped that third strike and let the hitter get to first." But that was not the worst of Dugan's bad work; for, when the runner attempted to steal second, Tim threw the ball into center field, and the man romped on to third, scoring a short time later on a long fly to left. It was a matter of no credit, whatever, to Dugan that the Springs secured no further runs in the inning, as Tim

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BILL SEES A GAME 277 made a mess of his catching, fumbling disgrace fully, and using such poor judgment in handling ba'tters that Kemp was kept busy refusing to ac cept his signals. Even when Hal shook his head, Tim sometimes repeated a signal two or three times. Finally, the visitors were retired with two runners on the sacks, and Kemp arrived at the bench in a state of wrath that caused him to make a few exceedingly warm remarks to Dugan. The visiting pitcher seemed to "strike his pace"; for, in a most business-like manner, he swiftly fanned two batters and retired the third on an infield fly. Tim Dugan did much better in the fourth, although he was far from being up to his usual form; and, with Kemp burning 'em over savagely, the Springs barely succeeded in getting one man to first. Hal can pitch sometimes," remarked Hast ings, still lingering near the gate. But Bill, although he felt that he might be showing himself churlish, said nothing. The locals did not accomplish anything that would affect the result of the game, and the fifth inning opened with the strong end of the batting order up for the visitors. Nevertheless, Kemp would have kept White Springs from scoring had not Dugan dumbly looked for an inshoot after calling for an out. He did not even touch the ball which Kemp bent rather wide of the plate, and a runner came home comfortably from third.

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278 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD When they were on the bench again, Dugan blamed Hal for the crossing of signals "; but Kemp withered him with a few low, sharp words and a look of unspeakable contempt. If you keep that man behind the bat," he said to the captain, we'll certainly lose this game. He's solely responsible for both runs the Springs got." Balsam Beach did not have another catcher, and therefore Dugan continued to do the back stopping. The Springs pitcher improved as the game progressed, and became especially effective in tight places, repeatedly preventing the home team from adding to the score when tallies seemed al most a certainty; but Kemp was hindered from rising to his highest mark by his own anger and the bungling work of Dugan, although a com bination of good luck and good support by the rest of the team enabled him to check further ad vance of the enemy until the eighth inning. A hit, a sacrifice, and a base on balls aroused the loyal fans from the inland town; but Kemp lured the following hitter into hoisting an infield fly to short, and set his friends and admirers to cheering. Then came calamity. The runners on the sacks tried for a double steal, and Dugan, seeking to get the most dangerous man at third, threw weirdly wild into left field. The ball, as though maliciously resolved to assist Tim in delivering the game to the Springs, mischievously bounded away from the fielder who was trying to back

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BILL SEES A GAME 279 up," and both runners scored, amid the mad yells of the Springs spectators and the disgusted, dole ful groans of others. Kemp would have quit at once; but Bannon begged him to remain at his post, and he did so, although it was plain that he had no further heart for the work. He handled the ball with disdain ful indifference and disregard for Dugan; but, although two hits followed and the next batter smashed out a smoking liner, Hal shot out his bare hand and got the horsehide as it was hum ming past. Dropping the ball at his feet, he walked to the bench without showing by a sign that he heard the applause evoked by his light ning one-handed catch. When Dugan attempted to explain, Kemp turned his back. With the pitcher for the Springs betraying no symptoms of a letdown, the locals could not even get a man to first in either the eighth or the ninth; and, although the visitors obtained no more tallies, the four runs presented them by Dugan carried the game; and the majority of the crowd left the field in a highly dissatisfied and disap pointed frame of mind. Someone called to Bruce as he was starting to make a short cut back to the shop, and, turning, he saw Agnes Hastings approaching, accom panied by her brother and Traddles. "Wasn't it dreadful!" exclaimed the girl. Losing a game that way is perfectly exasper ating."

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280 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD But it wasn't Kemp's fault," said Bill, his lack of sympathy for Hal making him all the more determined to be just. He pitched well enough to shut the Springs out." "It was that prize performer behind the pan who did it," chattered Traddles. "Even good old Bill Bruce would have been handicapped by such backstopping." "No, it wasn't Hal Kemp's fault," agreed Agnes; but his posing is tiresome. He thinks himself the whole show, and I told him so the other day. He didn't like it." "That was odd," commented her brother, with a smile. Stan is going to get up a team and challenge the Beach," said Agnes. "You're going to pitch, Mr. Bruce." "Which settles it, you see," nodded Stan laugh ingly Agnes generally has her way, and we'll have to submit, although I'm inclined to fancy it will be an awful slaughter for us." Oh, I don't know," said the girl. If you can just get a good catcher to hold Mr. Bruce, I wouldn't bet any money on the league nine-and I'm going to cheer for you, anyhow." That night Bannon released Dugan, and, hear ing of it early the next day, Hastings hastened to secure Tim for the picked-UP, team. Then he challenged the leaguers.

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CHAPTER XXX WHAT THE SCOUT SAW MR. MITT SULLIVAN, "scout" for the New York Nationals, advanced boldly to the desk of the Sagamore and made inquiry for Harold Kemp. Whether he chanced to be in an amazingly af fable mood or was dazzled and awed by the dia mond "headlight" that blazed from the knot of Mr. Sullivan's noisy necktie, in comparison to which his own "spark" seemed as a white bean beside a walnut, the usually cold and lofty clerk came down from his elevation and thawed in stantly, informing the inquirer that he believed Kemp might be found at the ball park, where a game was taking place. Practice, I s'pose? said Sullivan; pulling his flamboyant vest down over a malt-and-hops stomach, and producing two fat black cigars, one of which he rolled across the open register. "Smoke!" That single word was more of a command than a polite inquiry, yet the clerk meekly and almost gratefully accepted the weed. "Why, I believe," he explained, "it's a sort of game." But there's only three teams in this three cornered, scrub-bush league; and two of 'em was 281

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282 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD to play in Limeport this afternoon, I see by the posters." It's not a league game here,'' said the clerk, actually forgetting himself to such an e x tent that he struck a match, leaned across the register, and held it for Mr. Sullivan to light his cigaron beholding which performance, a mild old gentleman, a guest of the house, who happened to be worth only a paltry million and who had been coldly snubbed on every possible occasion by the autocrat of the desk, fell into a most distressing fit of coughing and choking, while getting back the false teeth which he had nearly swallowed in his alll:azement. "One of our guests picked up a team to play our league nine." "Thanks," said Mr. Sullivan, accepting the at tention of the clerk as though it were simply what he expected. Don't s'pose I'll be likely to see Kemp pitching a game like that, for I under stand he's the whole push down in this neck of the woods? I'm sure I don't know whether he'll pitch any to-day or not," answered the clerk. "But I presume it's not likely, as Manager Bannon re serves him for the critical games in the regular league series. I haven't had an opportunity to see him perform, but I understand he's really a wizard." Still you can't always tell how these young colts will pan out," observed Mr. Sullivan sagely. "How do I get to your ball park? Is it far?"

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WHAT THE SCOUT SAW 283 The clerk gave minute directions, and the big man swung ponderously out of the hotel, turning aside for no one. He arrived at the baseball grounds just as the umpire called play" and the first batter of the picked-up team advanced to the plate; for at the last moment there had been some delay caused by the absence of a player who had promised Hastings that he would be on hand-which compelled Stan to take on Tweed Traddles to fill right field, although he felt that it would be far better to leave that territory un occupied. To the surprise of Bannon, Kemp had asked to pitch, laughingly declaring that it would be good sport for him; and deriding the suggestion that it was advisable for him to rest, in order that he might be in his best form to pitch one of the two league games which the Beach was scheduled to play in the next two days. Don't worry about me," he had said. "I'll take it easy and make monkeys of that bunch. It'll be good practice, and I'll quit when I get tired of it." And so it happened that Mitt Sullivan, who had made a pilgrimage to Balsam Beach for the purpose of trying to get a line on Harold Kemp, had the unexpected privilege, on the day of his arrival, of seeing the Harvard star perform. Mr. Sullivan lost no time in making inquiries, and, on being informed that the man on the slab was Kemp himself, looked the young fellow over

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284 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD with the keen, discerning eye of a man who so rarely made mistakes in judging undeveloped talent that he was carrying a carte-blanche com mission to secure new blood for his team on such terms as he should see fit to make. "Stuck on himself,'' decided the scout; "but that's natural with youngsters. Have to have it pounded out of 'em before they're any good." He settled down on the bleachers, to smoke and watch the work of Kemp. The suits of the scrub players were heterogene ous, yet all had secured baseball togs, even Traddles being attired in an old Limeport uniform which Tommy Marshal had dug up somewhere. Tommy himself, proudly wearing khaki pants, a red shirt, and a gray cap, was to play at short for need of a better man. Kemp smiled on Thad Wilson, the scrub's first batter, a youthful prep-school man, who was to fill left field. Hal knew that Agnes Hastings and Marion Mayhew were in the stand, and he was aware that both had displayed great inter est in the picked-up team-something quite natu ral for Agnes, but certainly a bit of spite on the part of Marion, who of late had followed the lead of her mother in making occasional uncompli mentary remarks concerning the Harvard pitcher whom she had once admired without reserve. Ashe, the new catcher, adjusted his mask and gave a signal, and, still smiling, Harold proceeded to show Wilson up by whipping over a few shoots

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WHAT THE SCOUT SAW 285 which the latter could not fathom even to the extent of making a foul. Too bad, Stan I laughed Hal, as Hastings took Wilson's place in the batter's box. I'm afraid your phenoms won't be able to make it very interesting for the crowd to-day." "Oh, you can't tell yet," returned Stan good naturedly. "Perhaps it won't be such a snap as you fancy." In spite of Kemp's speed and skill, Hastings caught a crooked one near the end of his bat, and straightened it out for a clean single. Come on, Bill," he called from first, as Bruce arose from the bench. You know this man, and you haven't forgotten what you did to Powell down at New Haven. Get after him." Kemp continued to smile; but his apparent good humor had turned to a sneer, and, although seemingly disdainful to the point of carelessness, he could not have tried harder had the result of a great college game depended on his efforts. Three times the blacksmith fouled, and then Hal fooled him completely with a wonderful drop, and laughed again as Bill returned to a place beside Wilson on the bench. "Miss Hastings' rural hero won't look so good to her after this exhibition is over," he thought, as he received the ball from Ashe and waited for the next batter. On the first delivery to Oakman, recommended for right field by Tommy Marshal, Hastings tried to steal second. Ashe made a throw worthy of

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286 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Tim Dugan at his best, and Stan was out as he slid for the cushion. "No use to take such chances, old man," said Kemp. What's the good? You can't get scores all by your lonesome-not to-day, anyhow." He turned his glance toward the grand stand as he sauntered to the bench and flung his Harvard sweater over his shoulders, perfectly con vinced that he was the most striking figure upon the field, and, therefore, the magnet that must surely attract the dark eyes of Agnes. He was wholly unaware of the watching scout who, light ing another fat cigar, muttered to himself: That cub is due to get a lot of it walloped out of him some day." Sullivan scarcely noticed Bruce until Bill began limbering his arm by throwing to Hastings, while Dugan buckled on the body protector. Even then the big league representative regarded the young smith with indifference, although he could see that Bill had the build and bearing of a man in whom there might be possibilities. Thirsting for revenge, although with little hope that this game would yield anything of the sort, the former catcher for the Beach squared himself behind the pan, and called to Bill, as he signaled: Come on now, son-let's show dese swell guys dat dey ain't so much I Get der foist one, now I Coverly, who led off for the leaguers, missed once, made two fouls, refused to reach for a brace of coaxers, and finally batted an easy

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WHAT THE SCOUT SAW 287 grounder to Tommy Marshal. In his excitement, Tommy, although he had time to spare, threw the ball into the first-base bieachers, and Caverly made third on what should have been a put-outwhich caused some merriment among the specta tors and the players on the bench. Of course, Tommy felt badly, but Bruce told him not to mind and to get after the next one just the same, although Dugan growled disgustedly. Bill kept the ball high on Flobert, who, not a little to his surprise, could not touch it, although he did his best. Kemp laughed at Flobert as the man sat down after striking out. "You must he careless to let that Reuben fan you, Bob," said Hal. But when Jack Wilkes, shortstop and captain of the team, and one of its surest batters, suffered the same fate as Flobert, both players and spec tators began to sit up and take notice. Mr. Mitt Sullivan's indifference melted into mild interest, and he informed himself that the long-armed pitcher with the freckles seemed to have some thing up his sleeve that was worth observing Get after him, Springall," urged Kemp, as the next batter left the bench. Look out for his high one. That's all he's got; and he's easy, if you don't let him pull you with it." Springall did not strike out; but he lifted an easy fly over third, which the scrub basemanW allace, a Brown freshman-should have cap tured with comparative ease, but which he mis-

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288 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD judged, and muffed when he made a desperate lunge to get it. With two out, Coverly had sprinted for the pan, and he scored on Wallace's error. "Hard luck, Bruce," said Hastings; but Tim Dugan remarked that it was rotten playing. It was Kemp's turn to hit. Pet bat in hand, he advanced to the plate, feeling certain that he would find the ball, no matter where Bruce might put it. Again he smiled on Bill with that in sufferable sneer, and the young smith felt his blood burning through his veins. Nevertheless, in spite of his intense dislike for the man, and unheeding the two rank errors which had given the leaguers a run, Bruce maintained perfect self-control and composure. Get dis gent, son," implored Dugan, whose feeling of hatred for Kemp could not be hidden. He t'inks he's der whole t'ing, but I ain't never seen no smoke comin' outer his shoes-it's mostly gas. Show him up." Kemp laughed. "You're a pitiful sorehead, Dugan," he remarked, in a low tone, setting him self in graceful batting form. Bill toed the slab and cast a glance toward first, which led Dugan to observe that he would take care of the runner if the fellow ventured to go down. Everyone present knew that it was almost sure death for a runner to try to steal with Tim in his best throwing form; but Bruce de clined to let Springall creep far from the sack,

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WHAT THE SCOUT SAW 289 driving him back by a quick throw, on which Hastings, who covered the base beautifully and could tag a man like a flash of lightning, came within an ace of getting a put-out. Although the pitcher used no preliminary swing, he put speed into the ball when he handed it up to Kemp, and Hal bit at the saine sort of a high shoot against which he had warned Springall. Dat's der boy!" chuckled Dugan, as the ball stung through his heavy rnit. He can't see dat kind." Hal recovered his batting position at once, maintaining his scornful smile not without a con scious effort, resolving that he would not be caught by another high one. With this thought uppermost, he disdained Bill's next offering, only to see it take a marvelous drop across his shoul ders and hear the umpire call a strike. Some of the villagers started a feeble cheer, and Kemp heard the sound of clapping corning from the grand stand. He shook his head at the um pire, his smile having turned to an angry frown. Dugan was chuckling in a way not calculated to soothe Hal's wrath. You're an easy mark for a man dat knows how ter pitch," he muttered, for Kemp's ears alone. The batter gripped his stick, set his teeth, and swore to himself that he would get a hit. His changeable right eye was as green as that of a cat. He felt his nerves quivering the least bit in his

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290 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD wrists, although outwardly he was grimly calm. Even in practice, he had never batted against Bruce, and he had always believed he could hit the man with ease. The next ball was a wide one that curved be yond the plate; but in his eagerness Kemp came near going after it, checking the swing just in time. "Near caught him dat time, son," chuckled Dugan, returning the sphere promptly, and crouching to give a signal beneath his outspread mit. He's jest prolongin' der agony. He's yours." Bill glanced toward first as he toed the rubber and moistened his fingers. The spectators, nine out of ten of whom had come to the field expect ing to witness a laughably one-sided exhibition, watched with surprise and breathless interest, wondering if the Sagamore blacksmith could pos sibly fan Kemp, who had established a reputation as a batter as well as a pitcher. Suddenly Bruce pitched. It looked like a straight, swift ball, shoulder high; and Hal snapped his bat round, sharp and square, to meet it. The leather rose with a jump that caused Dugan to reach for it, clearing the bat by many inches. "You're out!" cried the umpire; and Kemp flung his bat viciously toward the collection near the bench. Mr. Mitt Sullivan, who had carelessly per-

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WHAT THE SCOUT SAW. 291 mitted his cigar to go out, turned to his left-hand neighbor on the bleachers and inquired: Who's that pitcher?" The person to whom this question was put hap pened to be Benjamin Mayhew, and he answered: "He is Bruce, the Sagamore blacksmith, and he can play baseball just as well as he can shoe horses. The boy's a friend of mine, and I reckon he's built of the right stuff." Shouldn't wonder," nodded the scout. "Mebbe it won't be time wasted watchin' him."

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CHAPTER XXXI A PITCHERS' BATTLE RIDDEN by wrath and goaded by the spur of humiliation, Kemp became for a time a veritable fury upon the slab, pitching with such savage speed that he mowed down dazed batters in rota tion and was held by the young catcher only with great difficulty, frequent flinching, and evident signs of pain. Even Dugan fell easily before him, and the feeble batting efforts of Tommy Marshal and Tweed Traddles were pitifully ludicrous; so that, by the time nine men had faced hirn, the scrub had taken three turns at bat, with Hastings the only one to see first base. To the majority of the spectators this sort of slab work seemed good, and it roused considerable applause; but at least one of the witnesses looked on with a coldly criti cal eye and without complete approval. That young feller is a great pitcher," said Benjamin Mayhew. He'll wallop his wing off at that rate," de clared Mitt Sullivan; and there ain't no need of it, with a lot of baby batters up against him. He ain't usin' his head, and a man who don't do that has got a plenty to learn. Real hitters would hold a barbecue off that speed. T'other 292

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A PITCHERS' BATTLE 293 man's got more sense, and he's pitchin' a better game." It was true that, despite poor support, Bruce was holding the enemy down with surprising suc cess; for not a single clean hit had been made off him, and he prevented scoring in the second and third innings, although in both the leaguers got a runner to third. Hot stuff, son," said Tim Dugan heartily, as Bill came to the bench after fanning Springall in the last of the third and leaving Flobert a dead one, with only the final stretch of base line be tween him and the plate. I didn't t'ink you had it in yer; but I give it toyer on der level, wit'out no joshin', dat you've got dat swellhead Kemp skinned a mile." Hal is sore," laughed Hastings. I've seen him that way before. If we could have a little batting luck now we might put him off his feet." It seemed, however, that Kemp was determined to keep up the pace; for he began by fanning Wilson. But Stan seemed to have his Harvard comrade's measure, and again he hit safely. Hal gave Bruce one contemptuous glance, and then settled down to strike him out. The blacksmith refused to reach for the benders, however, forcing Kemp to put the ball over to save himself from issuing a pass. Bill picked out the first good one and dropped it soggily in front of the pan, getting away toward first with such speed that Ashe had to hustle in order to throw him out.

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294 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Although this made two out, another safe hit might send in a run, and Kemp proved that his nerves were unsteady by hitting Oakman in the ribs. "Put it over anywhere, Easy," invited Tim Dugan, with a grin. Dey all look alike ter me, wit' you on der fii;.i.n' line." The old-timer rapped the rubber sharply with the end of his bat; and Hal, seeking to catch him off guard and get a called strike, hastily sent one straight over. That is, he tried to send 1t over; and it would have cut the plate in halves had not Dugan, on the alert for anything, stopped it with his bat. Tim planted the club against the leather with precision and skill, and drove the ball humming on a line into right field. Hastings was eating up the ground on the way to third before Dugan's bat fell to the sod; and Wilson, who had taken a position on the coach ing line, frantically fanned him toward home with both arms, at the same time shouting for Oak man to "hit the high places." As Stan romped across the pan, the spectators cheered, and then grew suddenly still; for Wilson, taking a chance, sent Oakman along, although Flobert had chased the ball down in the field. Flobert threw to Springall, who had run out a bit toward the field, leaving Wilkes, the short-stop, to cover second. "Home it!" cried Wilkes, and, whirl ing the instant the sphere came into his clutches, Springall put it to the plate.

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A PITCHERS' BATTLE 295 Slide I shrieked Wilson, and Oakman made a headlong dive for the rubber; but the ball reached Ashe at the right height, and soon enough for him to tag the sliding man ere the latter's fingers touched the plate. "You're out I declared the umpire. Nevertheless, the score was tied, and even Kemp knew that the scrub had been prevented from taking the lead by the closest possible margin. Furthermore, the tally had been earned by good, clean hitting, w hile the score chalked to the credit of the leaguers was the outcome of the rankest sort of errors. This time Hal did not strut or swagger as he walked to the bench-something which Mr. Mitt Sullivan observed with a smile and commented upon to Benjamin May hew, with whom he had already become quite friendly. The manager of the league team was highly displeased, and he ex pressed his feelings in a few sarcastic remarks as his men seated themselves on the bench, inquiring of Kemp, who was search ing for his bat, if it was not about time for him to begin showing up the monkeys-which sent Hal out to hit in a frame of mind that led him to slash fiercely and without judgment at the twist ers Bruce warped over. Once, twice, three times in swift succession he struck, and then realized, with emotions unspeakable, that once more the man he detested had not permitted him even to foul the ball.

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296 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD By this time the spotlight of universal interest was focused on Bill Bruce, who, however, seemed to be absolutely insensible or indifferent to the fact that he was the sensation of a game which very few persons had fancied would be worth watch ing. The smith kept steadily and serenely at his work, not even appearing to hear the eloquent encomiums of Dugan, who improved every oppor tunity to reiterate that Bill had 'em all beaten, and that there was nothing in the alder bush league-which was a term of derision for the Pine Tree-that could touch him. Indeed, Bill's pitching improved steadily; and, not daring to rely to any extent upon his support, it began to appear that he was going in for a strike-out record. N"either Evans nor Riley, the hitters who followed Kemp, could find the ball; and the fifth inning opened with the majority of the crowd rooting heartily for the scrub. It was no credit to Kemp that the picked-up team -did not make scores in the fifth; for he sud denly became a mark,'' and every man who faced him hit safely. Having got to the sacks, however, the men became numb. Wallace started to steal second before Kemp made a move to pitch, and was easily thrown out. Marshal and Lovett were on second and first when the latter pranced down the line, forcing Tommy, who, in an effort to save the situation, made a desperate dash for third, and died game. Then Tweed Traddles, paralyzed and overjoyed at the result

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It began to appear that he was going m for a strike-out record

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A PITCHERS' BATTLE 297 of a blind swipe by which he bum pe d a weak single into short right field, turned the wrong way after crossing the cushion, and found Flobert waiting for him with the ball. Even after he was tagged and declared out, Twiddy rubbed his drooping chin and wondered about it. "If you can ever win wit' dis bunch o' dead ones, you're a wonder, son," said Dugan to Bruce. Kemp told Captain Wilkes at once that he was not feeling right and wished to be relieved. Wilkes would have sent in another pitcher, but Bannon objected. "You wanted to pitch this game, Mr. Kemp," he said. "Now, why don't you your medi cine like a man? Are you going to quit just because it isn't such a snap as you thought it would be? I'd rather lose a cool hundred than get trimmed by this picked-up aggregation of dubs. Get into gear and save this game for us. If you stop now you'll show a yellow streak, and it'll be the end of your prestige in the league." Of course, Kemp resented this kind of talk; but Bannon declined to take anything back, and Hal had a little time to think it over while his team-mates were batting. Only a little time, how ever; for Caverly was the only man who hit the ball, and this he did after Ashe and Fillmore had fanned, lifting an easy fly to center. Although he did not have to move from his tracks, Wilson dropped the ball, following which he made a miserable throw to Lovett, and Caverly dashed

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298 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD on to third. He got no farther, for Bruce settled down to strike out Floberta feat which he seemed to accomplish with ease, although the fellow was reckoned as the Beach's surest sticker. Kemp's meditations terminated, and he returned to the slab. Having concluded that anger had nearly been his undoing, Hal tried to steady himself and pitch in his best form. Striking out Wilson and Hast ings, he was again beginning to feel well satis fied with himself when Bruce stepped forth for his third turn with the willow. Bill had fanned once and sacrificed once; a safe hit he had not yet obtained. "And he shan't have one now, con found him!" thought Kemp A moment later, Bill fell on the first ball handed up to him, smashing it over the head of Coverly and far, far to the extreme limit of left field. The shouting crowd was amazed by the burst of speed with which the seemingly awkward young blacksmith tore along the baselines; but Hastings held him at third, and was sorry afterward, feeling convinced that Bill might have scored, which he frankly acknowledged. Tim Dugan begged Oakman to get first some how. "If ye'll jest git onter dat hassock," he said, "I'll drive yer home Make him walk yegit hit wit' der pill-do somet'in', fer der love o' Mikel" Bannon sneered at his players. If you permit that bunch of sticks t o trim you, you'll be the josh

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A PITCHERS' BATTLE 299 of the league," he said. "What's the matter with you, anyhow? Why don't you brace up and do something? Don't look at me, Mr. Bannon I" flung back Kemp. "It's impossible for me to play the whole game. You can't expect much of a team that can't hit a pitcher of that caliber." I haven't seen you doing anything to brag about,'' observed Flobert. "You've been up twice and struck out both times." Let's get together and start something,'' urged Captain Wilkes, securing a bat. "This sort of business will never do. Quit fooling, now." He trotted forth in a determined manner, and rolled an easy grounder to Bruce, who, feeling sure of Hastings, was tantalizingly slow about fielding and throwing to first, permitting Wilkes to run his legs off in a hopeless cause, and finally shooting the ball like a bullet to Stan, in time to get the man by three yards. "Mr. Bannon,'' said Wilkes, as soon as he could get back to the bench, there's the pitcher you've been looking for. I can't hit him safely. At any rate, I haven't so far, nor has anybody else." Kemp told me," said the manager, that the fell ow was no good." Well, he looks pre tty good to me," confessed Wilkes; and, if I remember right, he's the man who won both the Yale games for Harvard this year."

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., 300 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Kemp heard this and kept silent, although he blazed inwardly. Springall was at the pan, and Hal came next. His courage, however, was down to zero; and he was cursing himself for his folly in taking part jn this wretched game-something for which he was wholly responsible, as both captain and man ager, fancying a weaker pitcher would do quite as well, had been disinclined to use him in such a contest. Not for a moment had he dreamed that Bill Bruce would be able to make anything more than a pitiful showing with such a team behind him, and a mingling of malice and egotism had filled him with eagerness to have a hand in the humbling of the man he hated. "Come, Kemp-get into it now!" He started at the sound of Wilkes' voice. "Springall," he muttered. "What-what has he--" "Struck out," said Wilkes. "Cresar's ghost! Can't anybody hit that man? It's awful! I'll be ashamed to look anybody in the face around here, after this." Hal tried not to look at Dugan, who grinned through the meshes of the mask, inviting: "Come on, Mr. Easy pound der air an' git der agony over. Some folks t'ought you was a won der, but dey'll know wot real pitchin' is round dese parts arter to-day." Kemp knew now that he would simply waste his time in trying to bat against Bruce, but he

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A PITCHERS' BATTLE 301 took his position and went through the motions. That was all; like a rank greenhorn who feels himself outclassed by a skillful pitcher, he swung feebly at two wide ones, and then let a beauty divide the pan for a called third strike. "We've got dis game cinched if you keep up der pace, son," declared Dugan, beaming on Bill while pawing the bats over. Wit' dat sort o' pitchin', you an' me can do der work, an' der rest o' der bunch can go ter sleep when dey don't have ter take deir turns swingin' der bat." This time, however, although he hit the ball, Tim did not drive it out of the diamond; and he died on the way to first. Wallace and Marshal were easy, Kemp mowing them both down at the plate. Scenting a possible victory, Bruce took no chances with Evans, Riley, or Ashe. He had their weak spots located, and, with amazing con trol, he put the ball precisely where he wished; and not one of the trio obtained anything more encouraging than a weak foul. The game had proved to be a pitchers' battle, with Bill wearing the laurels; for thus far not a clean hit had he yielded to the enemy. Not one of the spectators had come to the field ex pecting to witness anything of the sort, and the dismay of the leaguers was exceeded only by the delight and enthusiasm of the spectators over the great slab work of Bruce. Bill's team-mates were likewise exuberant, Tommy Marshal being ready

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302 BILL BRUCE OF HARV ARD to explode with a high pressure of admiration. Hastings, although never an effusive chap, came up to Bill, who had flung a sweater over his right shoulder and seated himself to watch the course of events in the opening half of the eighth, placed a hand almost affectionately on his shoulder, and said quietly: "Bruce, you'll be Harvard's mainstay in the box next year." Such a prediction, coming unsolicited from Stan's lips, was the highest possible compliment; and Bill, forgetting for the moment the cordon of ill fortune which Fate had flung around him, felt his heart leap and exult. To return to bridge, to battle again beneath the crimson ban ner with those comrades whose hearts were strong and true-that was the great desire of his soul. Kemp's jealous eyes saw Hastings stand beside Bill, lay a hand on his shoulder, and speak to him in that open manner of friendly apprOl\Tal; and, guessing what words Stan spoke, Hal's lips drew back from his fine teeth in a sneering snarl. Again fired by a tempest of fury which he could not fully conceal, although he made an effort to do so, he pitched at an awful pace; his burning speed was something to fill Lovett and Traddles with dismay and terror, and it was not remark able that they were cut down like weeds by a keen sickle. Even Wilson fared but little better, hitting weakly to shortstop and being thrown out

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) A PITCHERS' BATTLE 303 before he could get fairly into a running stride for first. Fine twirling, Kemp," said Wilkes, walking in at Hal's side. Lots of good it will do, with nobody hitting that specimen from the back pastures,'; muttered Hal, shrugging his shoulders. Wilkes tried to josh his men into batting humor, but his word picture of the disgrace in being beaten by the scrub did not arouse them to the point of solving the young blacksmith's delivery. Once more only three men faced Bruce, although Bill did not register three strike-outs. Flobert, the last batter, hit the ball hard, and sent a whistling daisy cutter straight at Tommy Marshall. Tommy did not flinch; getting the ball cleanly, he took his time and made a splendid line throw to Hastings. Bill walked from the diamond with his arm across the boy's shoulders, and that was the proudest moment of Tommy's young life. Kemp had a premonition of disaster when he saw Hastings step out to the pan. Filled with sudden fear, he sought to lure Stan into reach ing, but was finally forced to put one over. Stan tapped it lightly, getting one of those surprising long, easy hits that are sometimes made by an effort to secure a safe single. By sharp run ning, he reached second without being forced to slide. Either I'm lucky or you're pretty easy for

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304 BILL BRUCE OF HARV ARD me to-day, Kemp,'' laughed Stan. That's three out of four times up." No need to remind Hal of it! He knew, and he aiso remembered with foreboding how Stan had scored after hitting safely in the fourth in ning. Ball in hand, he turned and beheld Bill Bruce waiting. He had no intention of sending the first ball over; but he did so, using speed. Bill snapped his bat round and found the horse hide fairly, putting it out on a line over the head of Evans in deep center, who made a ludicrously ineffectual jump for it. The sphere went dancing over the ground to the fence, where it struck a post and caromed far off to one side, Evans pursuing it wildly. Bill Bruce again showed the shouting spectators that he could run, and he fol lowed Hastings across the rubber before the ball could be captured and relayed to Ashe. Hastings was delighted. "Bill," he said, "you have won your own game. It seems to be a con firmed habit with you." Although Kemp pitched in a half-hearted man ner after that, the team behind him continued to play ball, and the scoring came to an end. Wilkes kept his men fighting up to the last, but in the fina1 half of the ninth Bruce became more terrible than ever. After fouling repeatedly, Wilkes missed a high inshoot and retired. Springall likewise made one or two fouls, but missed a marvelous drop by a foot or more, and turned sadly to the bench.

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) A PITCHERS' BATTLE 305 Here's der last victim, son-an' der easiest," chuckled Dugan, as Kemp, white as chalk, stepped to the pan. Hal surely was easy enough, for he could not even foul the ball. Bill fanned him in short order, and the surprising game ended, the scrub having defeated the leaguers by a score of three to one. Mr. Mitt Sullivan, rising from his seat on the bleachers, observed to Benjamin Mayhew: Your friend, the blacksmith, is a comer, or I don't know a ball player from a coalheaver. Reckon I'll have to have a little talk with him."

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CHAPTER XXXII A WARY FISH As soon as possible after the game Bill slipped away and, accompanied by Tommy, hurried to his boarding-house. He was deaf to the boy's enthusiastic praise, and Tommy was greatly puzzled because, instead of appearing elated by his ( success, the hero of the day seemed deeply de jected. Truth was Bill was thinking of Stan Hastings' prediction and how impossible it would be for him to return to Cambridge in September, and he was overwhelmed with keenest regret. At supper Bruce still had little to say, although he was compelled to smile at Tommy's story of the game, as related to his parents. The boy be came highly indignant over Mr. Marshal's in timation that the league team had not tried very hard to win, and, in spite of his mother's reproof, he reiterated over and over that they had done their darndest." Supper over, Bill strolled up to the shop by way of doing something. Benjamin Mayhew, who, much to the chagrin of both his wife and daughter, had a habit of wandering around the stables and talking with the hostlers, saw the 306

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A WARY FISH young smith unlocking the shop door and came hurrying over. "Well," he cried, "you came right near show ing 'em how to pitch baseball to-day, Bill. I don't know too much about the fine points of that game, but I swear I did enjoy watchin' them fellers slammin' at the ball and lookin' foolish when they never touched it. I reckon it took some of the conceit out of 'em." "I was pretty lucky, Mr. Mayhew," said Bruce. The hell you was l snorted Mayhew. I called it skill, and so did the gent who set side of me. He said you had the makin' of a great pitcher in you, and I judge he knew what he was talkin' about. He was mighty interested in you and asked a heap of questions about you and your family. By the way, boy, I was over to see your folks yesterday." Were you? How did you find them? 1 Oh, they're gettin' along first-rate, I reckon. Your father is becomin' pretty chipper and spry, and he told me the doctor had give him encour agement that he might be able to work again after all. Still I sort o' fancied he was some worried over somethin' he didn't tell me about." "Yes," nodded Bill. I imagine I know what it is. Both father and mother feel very sorry that our hard luck will keep me from returning to college this fall." Mebbe 'twon't; how d'ye know?

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308 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Oh, I've given that up." "For good?" No; simply for the present. I'll have to lose a year, but I'm going through Harvard, no mat-----. ter how long it takes me." That's the sand I exclaimed Mayhew ap provingly. "That's the grit I like to see. I didn't get a chance to talk much with your mother; she don't seem to have much use for me. But I did have a little chat with your sister. I say, boy, I've got a proposition to make in regard to Jennie, and I hope you'll look on it favor able. I'm goin' back to Boston Wednesday, next week, and I want to take her along with me." "You want to tut-take Jennie to Boston with you, Mr. Mayhew? cried Bill, startled and amazed. "That's what," nodded the man. "I'm mighty interested in her, and if she can be operated on to cure that lameness, the sooner it's done the better. The older she is, the harder it's going to be. I'll look out for her same as if she was my own child, don't you worry about that. If that doctor who's been performin' them sort o' operations can cure her she'll be cured, if you leave it to Ben May hew." But I-I'm afraid I haven't saved money enough to--" "Who said anything to you about money? I reckon I've got enough to pay the bills."

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A WARY FISH Why, I can't-I couldn't let you--" "Can't ye? Then I reckon you're gain' to let your sister peg along with her crutch until it's too late for anything to be done for her. I thought you cared a whole lot about her." I do," declared Bruce; "but I have no right to ask you to--" "You ain't asked me no thin'; I'm askin' you. Now, look here, boy, how long do you reckon it's gain' to take ye, workin' for day wages and havin' your family to s'port and doctor's bills to pay, to save up money enough to meet the charge a great surgeon would make to operate on your sister? We won't mention your tryin' to scrape together dough enough at the same time to take ye back to college. I've found ye purty sound and sensible about most matters, and you want to let your sense work over this question a bit. The plain truth is that you've bit off more'n you can chaw. I like you, Bill, and I'm askin' you as a friend to let me give you a lift. If you refuse, it'll be a mighty disapp'intment to me. But you ain't gain' to refuse; on account of your sister you can't afford to refuse. You can't let pride stand in your way now. I know you're proud, and I admire ye for it; but in this case you've got other things to consider." With his hands on Bill's shoulders, he continued to talk with earnestness that proved irresistible, and finally Bruce yielded. "I'll have to consult my parents," he said;

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310 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD "but Jennie shall go with you if I can gain their consent." Good I cried Mayhew in satisfaction. I'm right sure you can bring 'em round to it if you put up the proper kind o' talk. Stick right by 'em and hand out the logic and eloquence the best you know how and you'll win 'em over, though I judge your mother's going to be the hard nut to crack." A wonderful change had come over Bill Bruce when he turned his steps toward the Marshal home that night, for he felt that a portion of the burden whose crushing weight was staggering him had been lifted from his shoulders. His heart had grown light and a feeling of elation per meated his entire being I'll get there yet," he whispered to himself. Providence usually opens a road for the man who is determined to go ahead." And he was right. Tommy Marshal met him on the way. "There's a man waitin' at the house to see you," announced the boy. "He's a swell dresser, you bet; and he wears some shiners to knock your eye out and a watch-chain big enough for a yoke oxen to haul logs with. He says he's got im portant business with ye." The man proved to be Mr. Mitt Sullivan, who, with a half-smoked cigar in his mouth, rose from Mrs. Marshal's easiest rocker as Bruce entered the little sitting-room. Howdy do? said the scout, affably offering

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A WARY FISH JI I a huge hand. I seen you do some twirling this afternoon, and it struck me maybe there's the makings of a real pitcher in ye, so I dropped round to see ye for a little chat. I represent one of the major league teams, and it's my business to look up youngsters for the managet to try out." Sullivan was not disposed to beat around the bush, for experience had taught him that nine out of ten young players approached by the repre sentative of a big league flattered and daz zled by the sudden arrival of the opportunity they most ardently desired, could be swept off their feet with a rush and irrevocably committed, bound, and nailed fast ere they had time to catch their breath and give the matter calm considera tion. Bill was surprised, something which he plainly betrayed, but he listened non-committally t
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312 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD on affixing their names to contracts had been of use to them in paying their way through college. Later their salaries as members of regular league teams had given them the needed funds with which to set themselves up in such professional or business careers as they saw fit to choose. The scout even declared that he could name more than one formerly prominent college base ball man-since a professional-who had placed himself in a position to assist his family and had tided himself through to the securing of his sheepskin by "making a deal" that bound him to don the uniform of some big league organiza tion immediately after graduating. He had learned enough concerning Bruce and his affairs from Benjamin Mayhew to make him confi dent he knew just what strings to pull, and he pulled them with absolute assurance of success, which was not diminished by the calm, inscrutable look upon the face of the listening youth. He sought to impress the point that there was no reason whatever that a man who entered into such an agreement should be at all embarrassed about continuing to play upon his college team, as the deal could easily be kept absolutely secret; and he concluded by stating that he was prepared to do the proper thing by Bill if he would affix his signature, in the presence of any trusted friendly witness he himself might choose, to a contract. When Mr. Sullivan had finally run down, like an eight-day clock, Bruce spoke. It seems to

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A WARY FISH me," he said, that you are looking a long dis tance ahead. It will be three years before I get through Harvard. I've heard of college men being nailed some months, or even a year, before they graduated, but never quite as long a time before as this." "And you're dead right about that, my boy," readily confessed the scout; but this case is dif ferent. I give it to you straight that I come down here into the pastures lookin' after another man that'll be loose to play professional next year, and his name is Kemp; but, since observing you both work to-day, I've decided that we ain't got no use for him and we do want you. When it comes to lookin' ahead, you know every big league team in the business has a string on enough young colts to make up three or four nines and keeps 'em farmed out with the minor leagues to ripen. Every one of them is watched close and constant, and them that shows signs of comin' up to form is give a try-out when the clubs go South in the spring Sometimes it takes four or five seasons for a raw one to get properly cooked-and a lot never are more'n half baked. Every year the competition for new blood is growing keener, and they're givin' me more license than I uster have to take a chance on a greenie. Then, too, mebbe you won't stick in college till you graduate. There are a few ifs, and I'm gambling on 'em some." While I'm naturally somewhat flattered bY,

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314 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD your proposition, Mr. Sullivan," said Bill," I may as well tell you now that, as long as I have the slightest hope or prospect of playing on my college team, I shall not sign a contract or pledge myself in any manner to play professionally after gradu ating. Had you come to me a few weeks ago, I might have been desperate or weak enough to bite your hook; but my affairs have taken such a change lately that your bait does not tempt me in the least. Under any conditions, I would have quit college baseball instantly on playing for money or accepting an advance payment for pledging myself to do so." Mr. Sullivan smiled wisely. I've heard others put up a game of talk along the same lines,'' he said; but it's all rot about quitting college baseball 'cause you sign a contract to play profesh' sometime in the future. I can name enough men who've done it and nobody ever been the wiser. It's a dirty rule anyhow that ties a poor man's hands and keeps him from helpin' himself financially if he wants to stay with his college team. It ain't fair, for it gives the rich feller the advantage. You've got to look out for yourself, and if you ain't clever enough to do that you won't have nobody's sympathy. You've got others besides yourself to think about, too, and you owe them more of a duty than any college. This is the chance of your life, an' you can't afford to pass it up, for mebbe you'll never git another opportunity. You listen to me, and you

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A WARY FISH may be drawin' a fancy salary a few years from now as one of the star slabmen of the National League." With all the persuasive power at his command, Sullivan rung numerous changes on this form of argument, his original assurance of landing the fish gradually wilting in the shadow of annoy ance and dismay caused by the calm, unwavering decision of the young smith, who obstinately refused to be lured into the net. Eventually the big man lost his temper and made the break which brought the interview to an abrupt termi nation, for he called Bill a "mule-headed fool," upon which Bruce, burning hot and looking decidedly pugnacious, rose, opened the door, and informed him that his room was much preferred to his company. A few rods from the house Sullivan paused to fire up a fresh cigar. The light of the match gleamed on a flushed and perspiring face and a thick-lipped mouth pulled down at the corners into an ugly twist of disappointment. He had just passed through a most unusual experience, prec edent and the knowledge of Bruce's financial and family affairs having led him to believe he would have no trouble whatever in tying the lad up tight and secure. It is a prevailing human fallacy to increase the adjudged valuation of thing greatly desired pro rata with the difficulty of its acquisition, and during the last ten minutes or so the minnow Mitt Sullivan had come to dip

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316 BILL BRUCE OF HARV ARD with a hand-net had taken on the proportions of a whale worth landing with a golden harpoon. "And I'll git him, too, or I'm a mut," growled Mr. Sullivan, as he walked away chewing sav agely at the fat cigar.

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CHAPTER XXXIII OUT INTO THE WORLD WHEN Bruce reached home next Sunday he was met at the by his mother, who put her arms about his neck and kissed him with unusual ten derness on both cheeks. There seemed to be something of deep joy in her manner, and yet, knowing all her ways and moods as he did; Bill instantly fancied she was far from being at her ease. N en came hopping on her crutch to be lifted in his strong arms and held tight, while she gave him a bear hug and kissed him three or four times as a sparrow pecks at a crumb. Then old Duncan appeared, walking quite stead ily with the help of his cane, and they shook hands, Bill telling how glad he was to see his father so wonderfully improved. "Yea, lad," said Duncan, his old face wearing a look of high, sober elation; I ha' reasons to gi' thanks unto the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endureth forever. He ha' redeemed me from the hand o' mine enemy. I cried unto Him i' my trouble, an' he delivered me oot o' my distress." As they sat in the cool front room, with the shades drawn .low to soften the light and shut 317

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318 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD out the glare of the August sunshine, which had baked the mown fields brown and was making the world pant beneath shimmering waves of heat, Bill told them of his recent experiences, refrain ing only in speaking of Mitt Sullivan and his offer. With such cleverness as he could command, he led up to Benjamin Mayhew's proposal, which he sought to present in the most favorable light. As she listened, his mother's face gradually took on a look that plainly bespoke her complete disapproval; but Bill noted that his father, with bent head and eyes fixed upon the oval braided rug that marked the exact center of the floor, seemed uncertain and contemplative. With all the diplomacy he could command, Bill presented the matter in such a light as would most strongly appeal to the man whose word had ever been, and still was, law in that household. Suddenly Mrs. Bruce spoke: "I canna believe ye ha' thought serious o' this thing, Will. The man isna fit to ha' the charge o' an innocent child like your sister, for he is blasphemous and un godly." He is a rough, kind-hearted, big-souled man who has been a good friend to me, mother," said Bill earnestly. "It is true that he is somewhat coarse of speech; but, if I am any judge of human nature, he is a man to tie to." But we ha' no right to ask such a favor o' him, lad." "Just what I said, but he reminded me that he

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OUT INTO THE WORLD 319 was doing the asking, not I; and he was so sincern and earnest that I finally yielded on condition that the plan met full approval here at home." "I canna gi' my approval-never," said Mrs. Bruce. Bill resorted to further logic and persuasion, showing plainly that this was a wonderful oppor tunity, still choosing his language that it might not be wasted on the silent man who remained staring at the braided rug. Through it all he was con stantly cautious not to suggest a determination on his own part which might arouse the opposition of old Duncan, who was by nature combative and contrary. It was Mrs. Bruce who did it by repeating over and over that she could never give her approval to such a plan. "Hush ye, woman," said old Duncan, finally lifting his eyes from the rug. Is it na said that the Lord doth work i' wondrous ways His mar vels to perform? and ha' na we been gi' token o' late that the words are true? This may be His own work, and, if so be, is it for you to question or rebel? I ha' na doot this man, though unre ligious, has a kind heart; and, if the lad ha' confidence i' him and believes it is right, he shall take the child to Boston." Bill knew that was sufficient, and, while he joy ously thanked his father, with continued diplo macy, he did his best to pacify his mother and bring her into line. "Ah, well," she finally sighed, "it may be

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320 BILL BRUCE OF HARV ARD right, Will, that this is the hand o' the Lord, though it seems na like it. We ha' yet to tell ye how he ha' lifted us up in our time o' distress and delivered us out o' the power o' the enemy." Then she told how Simon Vane, bitter and per sistent in his rancor toward old Duncan, had acquired the mortgage and the notes which the blacksmith had been compelled to give while carrying on the lawsuit, and, one of these notes falling due, had demanded payment in full of interest and principal on threat of foreclosure. "I didna tell ye about the note, lad," said Dun can, for I felt that ye had enough to disturb and worry over, and I had na doot that Nathan Smol lett, who let me ha' the money, would accept his interest an' gi' us a' the time we asked. Not once did I think that Nathan would let my enemy ha' that note." "Great Cresarl" cried Bill. "What are we going to do about it? Vane will push us to the limit." His mother smiled on him. Ye ha' na under stood when we ha' said that the Lord ha' re deemed us from the hand o' the enemy. We ha' paid that note, principal and interest." Paid it-how?" asked Bill, wonderingly. Where did the money come from? For a moment his parents hesitated and ex changed glances. "Tell him, wife," said old Duncan. Then Bill heard of a man who had appeared, as

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OUT INTO THE WORLD 321 if in answer to prayer, and handed over three hundred odd dollars on condition that Bill's parents should induce him to sign a little paper which would bind him to play baseball with the New York Nationals immediately on leaving col lege. Neither of the old people knew that the huge stranger with the immense gold chain stretched across a glaring vest that covered an expansive stomach had stood outside the open window and smilingly smoked a fat black cigar while drinking in every word of the prayer in which Duncan laid the matter in detail before the Lord. And Mitt Sullivan, innocently posing as Heaven's messenger, putting to shame the A. D. T. service by the amazing promptness with which he appeared, worked his cards with such clever ness that the old folks joyously accepted the money, pledging themselves to get their son's signature to that document if it were possible. We ken ye would be glad o' the privilege to save us so easy fra the wicked man who ha' tried his hardest to work ruin upon us, Will," finished his mother. "Yea, lad," nodded his father, "ye ha' only to put your name here on the paper, and, as ye would persist i' that sinful game, unmindful o' my words, ye will be able to make good wages at it when ye ha' done wi' college." Bill glanced at the paper and dropped it on the stand placed against the wall between the two front windows. I'm sorry," he said ; I can't

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322 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD sign it. The moment I did so I'd make myself a professional. I'm very sorry you accepted the money from that man. I would have found some other way of raising it." Although he spoke calmly, they could see that he was greatly disturbed and annoyed. His mother tried persuasion, but, with unusual bluntness, he cut her short with the declaration that nothing in the world could induce him to sign that contract. It was impossible for him to make them understand his standpoint, and so he made no earnest effort. "But what are we to do, lad?" asked his father. We ha' taken the money and used it. What do we gi' the man in return? You promised to get my signature to that paper if you could, and by seeking t do so you have kept your part of the contract. There is nothing more to be done." When Jennie was told she was going to Bos ton to see the great doctor" she was overjoyed at first; but, on learning that she was to go with 1 Mr. Mayhew and that Bill could not accompany her, she became frightened, and it required all her brother's tact and power of encouragement to keep up her spirits. However, when Bill had talked to her a long time, she gave her pledge to do exactly as he wished, promising th:;tt she would be brave. She was brave, too, and Mayhew found her dressed in her best clothes and waiting for him

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I OUT INTO THE WORLD 323 when he came on Tuesday with a glittering car riage and a spirited span of horses t o ta k e her to Balsam Beach, where she was to spend the night ere setting out early on the following morning for that great city of which she had imagined many marvelous things. At the last moment Mrs. Bruce broke down and cried, and the little lame girl, fighting back her own tears while trying to laugh, hugged and kissed both her parents again and again. Don't cry, mother," she pleaded. Just think fine it will be when the great doctor has made me all well and I can walk without a crutch and maybe run and play with Nannie." Then she caressed the lamb, which had followed her out to the road where the fine carriage waited and the handsome horses pawed and stamped as if im patient to bear her off upon the first stage of her wonderful journey. "I dinna ken what makes me greet so," said the tear-blinded mother; "but I canna help feel ing I mightna see my little lassie alive again." "Madam," said Mayhew, "I give you my word I'll look arter her like she was my own child, and the word of Ben Mayhew is as good as his bond. I'll bring her back to ye safe and cured if there's a doctor living that can cure her. I reckon it's hard for ye to let her hard-but-I beg your pardon-such things has to be sometimes." Good-bys were said; Jennie's little box, with

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324 BILIJ BRUCE OF HARVARD leather handles nailed onto the ends, which served her for a trunk, was put aboard; she found her self seated beside Mr. Mayhew, and away they went down the road and over the bridge-away, away, out into the big wonderful world of which she had dreamed so much and seen so little. l

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CHAPTER XXXIV THE ROAD OPENS \yHEN Mitt Sullivan came round to inquire why Bill had not signed the contract he heard an opinion of himself and his methods that was not at all complimentary The young smith spoke calmly, briefly, and to the point, and when Bill concluded the scout knew his fancied cleverness and strategy had led him to part with three hundred and eighteen dollars in a very careless man ner. I'm game," he said cheerfully. "We'll charge it to sundry expenses. All the same, my boy, you can consider yourself bound to the Giants." I shall not consider myself bound in any manner," retorted Bruce. "At present, un fortunately, I am unable to return your money; but some day I'll pay it back to last red copper." Say," said Sullivan, combined with your other qualities you've got just enough mule to make you a first-class fighting pitcher in an up hill game." Tommy Marshal heard enough of this conver sation to form a fairly correct idea concerning what had happened, and henceforth he was a most 325

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326 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD humble and devoted worshiper of the man who had received a bona fide offer from a representa tive of one of the biggest of the Big League teams, and turned it down. Although Tommy never missed a game at the Beach, his former high opinion of the local league team had altered greatly. One day at practice he heard Bannon ask Wilkes who would pitch against Limeport in the afternoon, and the captain replied that he would be compelled to send Fillmore onto the firing line, Kemp having declined to serve. Refused, eh? growled the manager. "And he hasn't pitched for four days I If he's got an idea that I'm keeping him around for his society he's decidedly mistaken. We've got to have an other slabman, Wilkes, and I'm going after that man Bill Bruce to pitch to-day." Kemp was some distance away, but he seemed to hear Bannon speak that name, for, flinging down a bat he had been "weighing," he turned and came forward. "What's that?" he asked. "What did you say about Bruce, Mr. Bannon?" "Wilkes was telling me you wouldn't pitch this afternoon, and so I'm going to try for the fellow who trimmed you with a bunch of never-wasers behind him. If he can hand 'em up that fashion to-day, we'll take a fall ou_t of the lime-' burners." "Let me tell you something, Mr. Manager," said Kemp slowly, distinctly, and impressively;

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THE ROAD OPENS 327 "the day that fellow Bruce wears a Beach uni form, I quit for good." To Hal's surprise and anger, Bannon promptly retorted: "Then you'll be around to turn in your suit to-night, for I'm going to Bruce to-day if his price is within reason." At this point Tommy volunteered the opinion that Bannon might not succeed in holding forth sufficient inducements to tempt a man who had refused an offer from the New York Nationals, and, when questioned, gladly told all he knew of the affair, growing indignant at Kemp's derision of the story. "You don't have to believe it," he cried warmly; but if you'll take the trouble to ask his folks over at Fogg's Corners you'll find out that the man who was after Bill give 'em three hundred dollars to git him to sign a contract." If he's good enough for the New Yorks," said Bannon, "maybe he might do for us." But when the manager sought Bill and made a proposal he was informed that he had come too late. "A few weeks ago," said Bruce, I'd jumped at the chance; but now you haven't got money enough to hire me." During the next two weeks Bill worked cheer fully early and late, anxiously waiting for and eagerly reading his daily letter from Ben May hew. Those letters told him that Jennie had been examined by the doctor, who was most encourag-

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328 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD ing in his opinion concerning her chance of being cured, that all arrangements had been made for the operation, and finally that the operation had been performed with complete success, leaving no doubt whatever concerning the eventual result. No wonder Bill was cheerful. Old Duncan was recovering in a manner little short of mar velous, even venturing to putter a little in the old shop across the road, and Dr. Tinker himself told Bill he would not be surprised if his father resumed work within a month or two. The shadows which had hung so thick over Bill Bruce were lifting. From Tommy Bruce learned that Kemp had left the Beach and the local team was falling off in standing at such a rate that it bade fair to finish at the foot of the list. If they'd grabbed you when you wanted to join 'em," said the boy, they'd be top-notchers now, with the pennant the same as clinched." Late one afternoon Joe Vane, looking somewhat soiled and rumpled, strolled into the shop. "Thought I'd drop round and say Will," he said. I'm going to pull my freight to-morrow. It's me for the Hub again, and if YQU catch me round these parts in ten years to come give me a wide berth, for you'll know I'm clean dippy and ought to be in a padded cell. This has been a devil of a summer I "Apparently you've had poor luck since you called on me last, Joe," said Bill.

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THE ROAD OPENS 329 "Hard luck! Nothing but! Things was comin' my way one time, but they took a turn. I'm clean down to my uppers now. This sportin' life certain is hell I Begun to get it in the neck when old Bannon fired Dugan. Tim had good judgment on the way the games was goin', and I had things comin' as long as he was givin' me tips. After he dug out, I couldn't seem to pick a winner. No matter what team I bet on, it went crazy for fear it would win. Then me and Kemp we sorter had a fallin' out. Twixt us, Bill, I'm ruther sore on Kemp. I don't think he treated Ethel just square after that Hastings girl struck the Beach. All the same, he made a guy of him self chasing that high stepper. She didn't care for him a little, and he was sorter left out in the frosty, not even havin' the Mayhew girl to take up with as a consoler; for she and her stiff-neck of a mother had piked off for the White Mountains. I guess Ethel showed him she had sperrit-I guess she did I She let him understand he wasn't the only plum in the puddin'. Why, all the swell guys went woozy over her. They was all smilin' at her, and she could come pretty nigh takin' her pick for a stroll any night when she was off duty. I always knowed she was pretty, but I didn't suppose she'd be so devilish fetchin' with the men. She's got some swell togs since landin' in Balsam Beach, and now, when she sails past, ev'ry man has rubber in his neck. She's got a Boston drummer on the string now. He's a great

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330 BILL BRUCE OF HARV ARD pal of Harry Anger, the big theatrical man, and he's gain' to git Ethel a posish on the stage. She'll make good, too, you see. She knows her little book a'ready. Gittin' back to Boston I'd had to travel blind baggage only for sis. She's flush, and she let me have the money to make it Pullman, like a trust magnate. That's the kind of sister to have. Any girl that's pretty can do it if she only knows the game. All men are suckers, a'nd the older they grow the quicker they take the hook." By the time the voluble fellow had reached this point, Bruce, filled with pity for the foolish girl and burning with indignation toward her venal brother, found it impossible to repress his feel ings, and the things he said to Vane sent Joe off in a state of high dudgeon and resentment. For some time after that, although deeply ab sorbed by. his own affairs, Bill thought often of the little blue-eyed, flaxen-haired girl he had known in other days; and his heart welled full with tenderness over the past, regret for the pres ent, and fear for the future. On the day after Vane's departure from the Beach Stan Hastings and his sister drove up and stopped at the door of the blacksmith shop. Bill came out, fancying there was work of some sort for him to do; but, like Joe, they had come to say they were leaving for Boston on the follow ing day. They were very cordial and Agnes would have shaken wit4 pim1 but" he;

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THE ROAD OPENS 331 laughingly showed his soiled hands and protested that he did not wish to put her to the expense of buying another pair of gloves. Not a little to his own surprise, he was wholly at ease, which made him appear much better than usual under such circumstances, so that Stan afterwards ad mitted to his sister that Bill was not half bad looking and had a bearing which seemed to be token good breeding and good blood. Well, old Tubal Cain, thou man of might," laughed Stan, after to-day we'll no longer hear the ringing music of your hammer strokes, nor catch now and then a glimpse of you lifting high your brawny hand in the red light of the furnace. We go home to-morrow, and I'm glad; for Bal sam Beach is beginning to pall on me." I'm sorry," said Agnes, "for I've enjoyed my self very much. It is fine here, and I think I shall come back again next year. I've scarcely seen you at all, Mr. Bruce, but I know your work has kept you very busy." The way she looked at him with her fine brown eyes gave him a queer, indescribable feeling. "But, busy as he was," said Stan, he found time to demonstrate the fact that he's destined to be Harvard's greatest pitcher, not even except ing the Great Bob Downing. Just wait till next spring, and then keep your eye on old Bill Bruce." Spare my blushes,'' smiled Bill. "You're putting it on a bit thick, Hastings." "Not a bit too thick," vigorously declared Stan.

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332 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD You broke Kemp's heart the day you pitched against him. From that time on he was simply a star of the third magnitude, and when Hal can't shine as the chief stellar attraction he soon grows weary." "Oh," said Agnes, Hal never could be a truly great pitcher, for he isn't built of the right stuff. Harvard will elect Bill captain some day." "And that's no dream," nodded her brother. I'll see you back at Cambridge before long, old chap. It will be only a short time now." "We hope to see you at our home also," were the next words Agnes uttered-words which gave Bill a thrill of surprise. "You know we some times entertain a few of Stan's particular friends." Oh, we'll have Bill over to the house with the bunch," asserted Hastings. When they drove away Bruce watched them from the door of the shop. Finally, taking a long, deep breath, he turned back to his forge. But now, for the first time, the interior of the shop was gloomy and oppressive, and even the sun shine outside lacked its usual brightness. A feeling of loneliness settled upon him. It seemed that everybody was going away, and he was gripped by a restless yearning desire to do the same. For a time he was buoyed by the thought that Stan Hastings, cold and distant with men of inferior station, had met him at last as an inti mate, personal friend, called him "old chap," and supported his sister in what was practically

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THE ROAD OPENS 333 an invitation to one of the most exclusive Beacon Street homes; but this feeling of satisfaction waned as he realized how unlikely it was that he would get back to Harvard in another year a nd, if he did return, how utterly impossible it would be for him, dressing with necessary economy that kept him almost shabby, to make himself present able for even the least formal social events. A week later Bill met Benjamin Mayhew and Jennie in Limeport. Jennie was wearing steel supports to hold her hip in place, but she was looking very well indeed and literally beaming with happiness. She hugged and kissed her brother with almost exuberant delight, telling him breathlessly how the doctor had said that in an other month or so she would be able to walk as well as anyone without the supports. That's right, my boy," assured Mayhew, shaking hands heartily with Bruce. She's as good as cured right now, and she'll never be lame again. There ain't nothin' come nowhere near givin' me so much satisfaction as this here job. I didn't feel half as good over it when I struck oil on the old farm." Bill had engaged a turnout and driver to take them to Fogg's Corners, and they drove homeward through the twilight with the crickets an nouncing from the brown roadside fields that autumn was near. Mayhew accompanied them. A light was shining from the sitting-room win dows of the Bruce homestead and the old folks

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334 BILL BRUCE OF HARV ARD were waiting to receive them. At the rumbling sound of wheels on the bridge, for which they were eagerly listening, Duncan and his wife came hurrying out to the gate, the mother agitated and overjoyed and the old man holding himself in re straint with the utmost difficulty. Oh, my lassie-my bonnie little lassie 1 cried the woman, holding out her arms as Bill lifted the child from the carriage. There were tears and laughter and all the joy ous, foolish things that should attend such a home-coming; and when they were assured that Jennie was truly as good as cured their thank fulness and gratitude could not be expressed in words. "It is the kind mercy o' God," said Mrs. Bruce. "We mun gi' thanks to Him." "Yea," said Duncan; "but we shouldna neg lect to gi' a few to His servant that He raised up for the work." No one enjoyed supper more than Ben Mayhew that night, even though, sitting at the table and listening to Jennie as she told of the wonderful things she had seen and experienced, he fre quently forgot that there was food before him. He talked little himself, save when it became nec essary to reply to words addressed to him, and Bill fancied the man's manner and style of speech had altered remarkably, having lost much of its rough brusqueness. Not once throughout the evening did a bit of profanity slip from May-

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THE ROAD OPENS 335 hew's lips, and, although he did not kneel, he bowed his head when old Duncan prayed at the conclusion of the meal. Ere retiring that night Mayhew asked Bill to walk out with him, mystifying the young man by saying he wished to talk over a little matter of business. They walked down the road to the bridge, beneath which the summer-shriveled stream no longer rippled and murmured, and there, turning abruptly and putting a hand on Bill's shoulder, the man suddenly said: I've got some money I want to let out at three per cent. You don't happen to know a young feller who could make profitable use of it, do you?" Astonished, Bruce stammered, "Why, I-I don't-think I do." "Well, if you don't, I do. You're the feller. Now hold on while I prove it to ye. You've been right frank in tellin' me as a friend how you've worked to get a college education and how you stand financially after getting up against the run of hard luck that overtook you lately. You wasn't makin' any bids for sympathy or help either, that was plain. I made up my mind some time ago that you deserved to win and that I was going to back ye to come under the wire with flying colors. If you don't have any help you'll pull through all right, but it will take a lot out of ye, and you'll have to waste valuable time. Heaps of men are cramped and held back for I /

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336 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD lack of working capital. They manage to get along somehow, but they could do better if they had more money behind them. That's the way with you, boy. I've got money in three per cent. bonds, and I consider the investment safe and solid and satisfactory. I've got money layin' idle, too, and if I choose to invest it at three per cent. in the education of a man who's bound to be a winner, that's my business." But I-I can't give you any security." All I want is your signature to a note, pay able when you get damned good and ready to pay it, whether it's in one year or ten. That's good enough security for me, and if I'm satis fied nobody else has any kick coming." Bill was overwhelmed. "It doesn't seem right,'' he muttered. "Why not? What's wrong about it? It's dead right. I'm offering a plain business proposition in a business way." "Think of the chances you're taking." A man takes some chances in almost every thing. I don't know of any investment the re turns of which could give me more satisfaction. I'm reckoning on you as a success when you leave college and get into harness. You can pay me then as it comes easy and handy. Now there's no more talk to be made about it. It's all settled except the amount needed, but I reckon four or five hundred should do as a starter, with more to draw on as you need it. We'll fix it up in the

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THE ROAD OPENS 337 mornmg. Let's pike back to the house and go to bed." Although Bill went to bed soon, he did not sleep for a long time. He lay trying to meditate calmly upon the situation, and finally, with a deep sigh, he murmured: "The road is open, and I'll follow it." The crickets, fiddling in the moonlight outside his open window, lulled him to slumber and pleasant dreams.

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CHAPTER XXXV BACK TO HARVARD BILL BRUCE came back to Cambridge and the same small, poorly furnished room in College House which he had occupied during his fresh man year. From the window of his room he could see the night lunch cart across the street, which he had often patronized ere getting on the training table. To this day he continued to won der how the table could afford to give such meals for three-fifty a week, wholly unaware that cer tain students had clubbed together to make up the difference between that amount and the regular price of ten dollars. Bruce found a "goodie" busy with broom and dust cloth, and she beamed upon him affection ately; for somehow, although not in a position to give tips, he had a way of winning consideration and favors. Well, Margaret," he said, dropping his suit case and looking around, "it's good to be back again." "And it's good to see ye back, Mr. Bruce," said the woman. "I thought perhaps ye'd be af ther roomin' elsewhere in some one of the swell doormatories."

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BACK TO HARVARD 339 Oh, no," smiled Bill, this will have to be good enough for me for another year." When she was gone he se_ t about arranging the scanty furniture and few books to suit him. There were no baths in College House, and the students who roomed there were compelled to use wash bowls and sponges, going to the gymnasium for showers. Only the poorer class of men were content to put up with such accommodations. Bill had thought of getting a room somewhere in a private house, for Ben Mayhew had urged him to have more consideration for his own com fort, but had firially decided to follow his original methods of careful economy. He was after an education and he believed, everything considered, he could afford to ignore appearances. Outside the clanging, cumbersome red cars were bringing in students who dropped off with their hand luggage and sought their rooms, arid frequently Bill heard the long-drawn, indescrib able cry of friend hailing friend-" Ay-y-y-y-y, Bobbie I "Ay-y-y-y-y, Chuck I And, despite his satisfaction in being there again, a feeling of lonely aloofness stole over him. What a great thing it must be to have enough money so one need not worry over finances I Then a man could afford to make friends. That day Bruce found a freshman, a slender, blue-eyed chap, who was looking for a room mate, and took him in. Foster was his name, and pe very raw, but had an agreeabk1 jolly way,

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340 BILL BRUCE OF HARV ARD and, without much inquiry, Bill accepted him as a welcome acquisition. The fellow came from somewhere up York State, had long hair, spoke with a drawl, and volunteered the information that, being an orphan, his aunt, a good-hearted but somewhat close-fisted old lady, was putting him through college. Not only, thought Bill, would Foster serve as company, but he would assist in reducing the expense of room rent and coal bills. Foster proved to be a volatile, talkative man, who seemed more than willing to take advice from Bruce in the matter of "making both ends meet," and betrayed considerable satisfaction over the fact that he had obtained a sophomore for a roommate and companion. Late in the afternoon, each having written letters home and needing stamps, they walked out together to the post office. "Ay-y-y-y-yl" cried someone. "There's Bill -good Old Bill Bruce I It was Babe Bates, rosy-cheeked as ever, who came rushing forward, followed more leisurely by Herbert Holbrook, and grabbed Bill's hand. Holbrook likewise shook hands cordially. Both men wore their trousers rolled high and were thoroughly well dressed with the exception of their weird and remarkable headgear, which consisted of most disreputable old slouch hats, filled with cigar-burnt holes and encircled by leather bands fastened by nails.

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BACK TO HARVARD 341 They nodded when Bill introduced his room mate, but gave Foster no further attention. The freshman pricked up his ears as he heard them talking of Bill's triumphant performance in the Yale baseball games. "You ought to come out for the eleven," said Holbrook. I believe you can make it, Bill, and we've got to down the Elis on the gridiron in order to keep up the good work." "Make it!" cried Bates. "You bet your sweet life I Old Bill's got the stuff in him to get there with both feet if he does come out." But I think I'll let football alone," laughed Bruce, and stick to my regular knitting. A man's got to plug some if he wants to be free from the worry of looking for a card from the office." "Why didn't you tell me," asked Foster, as they left the post-office and turned for a stroll through the Yard, that you played on the varsity nine? Mingled. with reproach there was a great amount of newborn respect in his manner. I don't know," answered Bill. "I didn't happen to think of it." "Those friends of yours," said the freshman, are certainly sure-enough swells. They acted like they thought you some cheese, too." Bill laughed. They rambled around the Yard, Bruce telling the names of the various recitation halls and dormitories. He was greeted by more than a

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342 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD dozen men, all of whom seemed to know him very well, although to save his life he could not re member the names of several of them. In that short walk he came to realize that there had been a great change since the days when, as an obscure freshman, he had yet to prove his mettle and win his spurs upon the diamond. Even among those who did not venture to hail him there were not a few who turned to look after him, and he heard more than one speaking of him as "good Old Bill." While this was embarrassing, it is not strange that it warmed the cockles of his heart, put to rout the last remnant of loneliness, and made him feel that he was no longer a nobody in that great mass of undergradu ates, among whom the identity of a man may be so completely smothered. Foster had discovered, to his surprise, that the shabby, poverty-pinched sophomore who had taken him in as a roommate was a real college celebrity, and for the time his freedom and familiarity, which had amounted almost to su periority, were subdued and changed to admira tion, mingled with elation over his own good fortune. Still he could not quite become recon ciled to the fact that such a well-known and noted personage at Harvard should live so humbly, without the slightest pretense in personal adorn ment or outward show. On the following day the college year opened, and Foster, directed by Bruce, had no trouble

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BACK TO HARVARD 343 about appearing promptly at recitations in the various classrooms. The freshman knew it would be necessary to go slow on the scanty al lowance from his aunt, and he had mentally resolved to profit by the experience and advice of his sophomore friend. Fqr three or four days Foster walked the strait and narrow path; but finally, being a free and-easy chap and having a faculty for mak ing acquaintances, he fell in with some jolly chaps of his own class, got into a pipe raffie at Sanford's, took up pool-playing, and eventually came rolling in from over the bridge in the wee sma' hours, flushed, loquacious, thick-tongued, and bearing the odor of beer. Bill did not make the mistake of wasting his breath on the boy that night, but talked to him the next morning when Foster had a headache and the usual case of remorse. The freshman, searching his pockets, discovered that he had squandered in one night more than his regular allowance for two weeks, and he became terrified and repentant. Thereafter he shunned his gay friends for at least a full week; but in time he drifted in with them again, and before the end of the month he was touching Bruce for a loan to tide him over until the coming of the next check from his aunt. Somehow Bill had formed a decided liking for Foster, and he tried to show the lad the folly of one in his circumstances attempting to travel with

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344 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD chaps who were not so restricted in finances. The boy knew all this was true, and again he readily made pledges which were kept until his allowance came to hand. Two evenings later Bill learned that Foster had set forth with a bunch to do Chinatown. It was near eleven o'clock when Bill, having found Foster with a roistering set in a chop suey restaurant on Harrison Avenue, succeeded in get ting him out of the place by cajolery. On the street the boy became unmanageable and per sisted in stopping pedestrians and demanding that they should cheer for old Bill Bruce, the greatesh basheball pi'cher 'tever fanned an Eli." He fell on three well-dressed, quiet chaps and held them up with dire threats of personal vio lence if they declined to cheer, and Bruce, dis mayed, recognized one of the trio as Stan Hastings. Hello, Bill," said Stan. Haven't put eyes on you since college opened. What are you doing here?" "We're painting the town," slobbered Foster before Bruce could frame a reply. Oh, we're having a devil of a night! Come 'long with ush and we'll show you a hot time. Maybe we'll kill a polishman 'fore we go home. Bring your friend 'long, old fel." If this chap is a friend of yours," said Hast ings, "you'd better take him home in a cab, unless you're looking for a ride in the Black Maria."

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BACK TO HARVARD 345 Burning with shame, Bill dragged Foster away. Round the corner on Essex Street he shook the freshman until his teeth rattled, and, having suc ceeded in making him angry, tucked him under one arm and marched him off at a lively rate by the most inconspicuous route to Cambridge, paus ing only to shake him up again whenever he remonstrated and attempted to rebel. By the time they reached College House Foster was somewhat sobered, although inclined to weep, and he was put to bed pathetically protesting that he had been shamefully and cruelly abused by the man he had hitherto cherished as a bosom friend. The next day Hastings hunted Bruce up and found him in his room. Bill was surprised at Stan's appearance, but still, despite his humble quarters, he was not put to confusion by false shame or pride. He gave the caller a chair, and Stan, with the delicate breeding of a thorough gentleman, did not betray by a look or a sign that he had even observed the shabby bareness of the room. I've been intending to look you up for some time, Bill," said Hastings. "Agnes has asked for you a dozen times. I've been frightfully busy, you know, though I suppose that's a deuced poor excuse. How is everything? First-rate," answered Bruce. Haven't any cause to complain." Good I've heard some of the fellows speak of you occasionally. You know practically every-

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346 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD body expects you to be our first pitcher next spring. A great many are of the opinion that Kemp has seen his best days, and I know beyond question that you've got him beaten a mile. Didn't know but you'd come out for the eleven." "No; baseball's enough for me. I'm willing to let other chaps go in for football." "And that's wise. Really a pitcher can't afford to run the chances of getting hurt at football, especially a pitcher of your caliber. We're go ing to have some chaps over to the house for something on the chafing-dish to-night. Agnes is rather clever getting up such messes. Can you come?" "Nun-no, I can't," stammered Bruce. "It's good of you to invite me, Hastings; but, to tell you the truth, this is the best suit I own, and I wouldn't care to present myself in these clothes at the most informal party. Much as I appreciate your invitation, you'll understand that circum stances make it impossible for me to appear out socially." I'm sorry," said Stan, sincerely. ""Agnes will be disappointed. I told her about meeting you last night." "But, Great Scott!" cried Bill, dismayed, "I hope you didn't tell her that--" "Oh no" assured Hastings I wouldn't do that. Still you were all right last night, although your friend--" He's my roommate, a freshman by the name

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BACK TO HARVARD 347 of Foster," explained Bill. "He's a good sort of fellow, but a little careless at times. I was get ting him home when you saw us." Stan nodded that he understood, and turned the drift. You ought to get the management of a dining club, Bill. I'm sure you could get to gether ten or a dozen men of your class to make up such a club. Try it. You should also be come a member of one of the regular college clubs. I don't believe you'd have any trouble making the A. A." I can't afford it, Hastings, no matter how much I might wish to become a member. I'm sailing as close to the wind as possible, and there'll be no college club life for me." "H'm," coughed Stan, rising. "Seems to me the Association can't afford to do without you. By the way, drop in on me sometime at Beck. Glad to see you any time." He shook hands again and departed. Two weeks later Bruce, much to his amaze ment, was properly notified that he had been elected to honorary membership in the Harvard Athletic Association. "Hastings did it," he muttered when he could get his breath.

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CHAPTER XXXVI SHADOWS FOSTER was in a flutter. Bill looked up from the book over which he had been frowning for the last half hour or more. What is it, Ned? he asked, seeking to repress a show of annoy ance. The dull light of a gray November afternoon sifted in at the window, giving the room a more than usually cheerless aspect. There was a flush in the boy's cheeks. He had just come in. I've had a slight controversy with Dillingham and some fellows," he said. I told them they were asses to credit every piece of fool gossip that came to their ears." "Judging by your somewhat heated appear ance, the controversy was rather warm. What was it about?" "Yo. u." Me?" breathed Bill, surprised. "Yes. Do you know. the story someone has put into circulation? "Don't think I do. What is it?" "They say you will be protested as a profes sional and barred from the nine in the spring." Bill closed the book and put it aside. In-348

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SHADOWS 349 deed I he exclaimed. I wonder who's respon sible for such a ridiculous hoax? I told Dillingham it was ridiculous," cried Foster. I told them it was a clean case of malice, slander, libel. I tried to find out how such a yarn started." It isn't likely anybody will believe it." Oh, but that's the nasty part of it-they do believe it. Dillingham said he wasn't at liberty to reveal the source of his information, but claimed he had it straight that you had pledged yourself to a professional team and accepted money. He declared you were paying your way through college with that money. Of course it's a miserable lie." Bill felt his heart give a sudden thump, and a sickly cold sensation crept over him. In a moment he knew upon what foundation this story was based and realized with consternation unspeak able that the case against him would look black indeed. "Of course it's a miserable lie," repeated Foster, dismayed by the singular look that had settled on Bill's face. You-you didn't do any thing like that? You couldn't be bought that way. Why, good God, Bruce," the agitated freshman cried, that would be a calamity I You're the man we depend on to give us the championship in the spring. Everybody is count ing on you. You should hear what they say about you. I'd give anything in the world to be as

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350 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD famous as you, Bill. And now if anything happens-if you've got into a trap so that they can make you out a professional oh, hell I" "If you have these spells often you'd better see a doctor," said Bill, as Foster made a broken, frothing fi.l\ish, wholly unable to command lan guage to express what he felt. With an effort the freshman drew himself up stiffly, seemed to fight down the emotions which theatened to choke him, beat time with his index finger as he counted ten, and then asked in a fairly steady voice: "There's nothing in it, is there, Bill?" I'm not a professional, Foster." I knew it I shouted the boy. Now I'll tell those fellows it's a dirty lie. I'll soak 'em. I'll tell 'em you say the whole story is a lie from start to finish." "No, Ned, I don't wish you to do that." Eh? Don't wish me to? Why not? For a reason which I cannot give. In future keep still and don't get into any controversies over me. Let the gossips tattle; it won't do any harm." Foster was again doubtful and dismayed. Why, got to say something when I hear them talking about you, Bill; I can't keep still, I'm your roommate. They'll ask me what I know about it, and--" "Answer that you don't know a thing, and that will be the truth."

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SHADOWS 351 Disappointed, uncertain, and in a state of ap prehension, the freshman stood and stared at Bruce for a long silent minute. "You say you're not a professional," he finally muttered, "yet you won't let me contradict the story to that effect. That's devilish queer." "It may seem queer to you," said Bill quietly; but I have my reasons." You say this story won't do any harm. Per haps not; but I believe in nipping a lie in the bud. That's my way. I suppose you know your own business, but I think you're making a mis take. Anyhow, you've fixed it so I'll have to keep away from Dillingham and his bunch. I can't hear them spreading that yarn, and keep still. You ought to run it down. You ought to trace it to its source and then climb all over the nasty skunk who set it going." Bill believed he knew the source of the story, and again his heart was filled to choking with resentment and rage toward Harold Kemp. Through some channel, while at Balsam Beach, Kemp had heard of Mitt Sullivan's transaction with Bill's parents, and now the jealous, malicious fellow had set afloat the report that Bruce was bound to a professional nine. And Bill knew beyond reasonable doubt that Kemp had accepted money for his services with Bannon's team. For a fleeting moment he thought of retaliating with such a public statement, but immediately he put that impulse aside.

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352 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD No," he decided, rising and reaching for his cap; such a method of getting revenge is puerile, and I'd simply put myself on his level." He went out for a walk and chose Brattle Street, which seems to be about the only place a man can walk in Cambridge. A brisk turn in the raw, cold air set his blood circulating and relieved the choking pressure in his chest. Re turning, he came face to face with Joe Vane in the Square. Joe's face was pale and he wore a strangely excited and desperately determined look. Hello, Will," he said nervously. "You're the very Tell me where that guy Kemp hangs out." I believe he rooms in Claverly Hall," said Bruce. "You don't look especially prosperous, Joe. Going to touch him up for a loan? Nit. I've got more important business than that with him. He's got to come to time and do the right thing, or he'll find himself peeping through a grating. Oh, never mind what I mean, but i just want three minutes' conversation with Mr. Kemp. He'll see I mean business. He won't put. up any bluff to me when he finds out the sort of scrape he's in. I'll bring him to time." Joe's hands were trembling as he lighted a cigar ette, and Bill could see that he was straining every nerve to hold himself steady. How is Ethel?" inquired Bruce. How has she made it since coming to the city?" She got a posish in the chorus of the Dainty

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SHADOWS 353 Belles Burlesquers and was on the road a while," replied Vane; but she had to quit on account of her heal th. Where's this Claverly Hall? Bill gave the necessary directions and Joe hur ried away, forgetting to say good-by. Bruce watched him until his narrow-shouldered figure vanished in the gloom of the misty, marrow piercing night that was coming on. Foster was not in the room, and Bill walked the bare floor for a while, thinking sadly of Ethel and oppressed by a sinister foreboding of calamity. Poor girl I" he muttered. Poor little fool I" Supper he forgot for a time, there were so many other things to think about; but finally he wandered out to Frosler's for a hot dog" and a cup of coffee. Frosler, in shirtsleeves, white apron, and spectacles, was shaking dice with a customer to see whether he should pay double or nothing. Having the fortune to win, he was politely requested to charge the double amount to his patron's account, which he obligingly did. Two fellows at the far end of the counter glanced at Bill as he came in and then exchanged whis pers. Bruce felt that he knew what they were saying, and again a throb of anger toward Kemp shot through his heart. From Frosler's something led him straight to the clubrooms in which he had seldom appeared since being made an honorary member. In spite of himself he felt a desire to know if they were

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35+ BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD talking about him there and how he would be received. In the reading-room a little knot of men were talking earnestly. Hastings was one of these, and Bill's blood took fire as he saw that Kemp was another. Bill was seen, and he knew at once from the way in which they were smitten by a sudden hush that he had been the topic of conversation. "The man," said Hastings, signaling Bruce. Bill, we were speaking of you. Kemp just offered to wager me a ten-spot that you'd never deny the silly story that some idiot has started about your accepting money which binds you to pitch for a league nine as soon as you leave college." I said," corrected Kemp in his most mad dening, sneering manner, "that he could not .deny it without lying. Of course there is nothing to prevent him from lying." "Nothing," said Bill, facing the man, every nerve in his body taut as bowstrings, save the fact that I lie." "Oh," mocked Kemp, "I hardly fancy a lie would choke a cheap fellow like you." Bill was surprised to see the chap behind Hal Kemp catch him with both arms to keep him from measuring his length on the rug, and then he knew he had struck the man he hated a fearful lightning-like blow full and fair between the eyes, and he was following up to strike again.

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SHADOWS 355 He was seized by Hastings, and the others sprang between to keep them apart. No, Bill-no, not here! gasped Stan .. Good Lo rd! a fight in these rooms! It means expulsion." I simply handed him what was coming to him," said Bill hoarsely. He's been looking for it for some time."

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CHAPTER XXXVII A FRIEND IN NEED ALTHOUGH club occurrences were not supposed to be matters for general discussion or gossip, the story of Bruce's encounter with Kemp leaked somehow, and thereafter it was a bold fellow in deed who had the courage to question Bill about the disagreeable rumor concerning him. There was one person, however, who unhesitatingly bearded the lion in his den. Benjamin Mayhew, whom Bill had barely seen once since returning to Cambridge, and that only for a few minutes on a street car, came over the bridge and found Bruce alone in his room. "So this is where you hang out, is it?" said the man, surveying his surroundings somewhat dis dainfully after shaking hands heartily with Bill. "Well, say, you ain't putting on a great deal of dog, are you? I've heard my girl tell about the swell rooms of you college men, but I don't see any Turkish rugs and pianos and mahogany fur niture scattered round this joint. Dad burned if it ain't just about as bare as our old kitchen on the farm before I tapped the spouter." I can't afford to go in for style, Mr. May hew," said Bill, offering a chair which the visitor 356

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A FRIEND IN NEED 357 ignored. "It doesn't make much difference, for I have very few friends and scarcely any callers." And, next to the football stars, who have the call at this particular season, you're one of the best-known and most-talked of men in this here college. They're a-talkin' about you right smart of late, so Marion says, and some of the things they're sayin' don't sound just right to me. That's one reason why I've come over to see ye, though I've been intendin' to drop in on ye for some time. Of course you've heard about the report that you've bound yourself to a professional base ball team and accepted advance money, which will bar you from playing any more with the college nine? "Yes, I've heara about it, Mr. Mayhew." Well, now, tell me straight just what there is in it." Bill did so, and when Mayhew had listened attentively to the facts he swore with his habitual lack of reserve. "I'm damned, Bill," he said, "if I thought it of ye I You ain't used me right. Why in blazes didn't you tell me before? I'm your friend, ain't I? I consider you the best friend I have ever known, Mr. Mayhew." Then I had a right to know about that there affair, and you'd oughter told me. Thunder and guns I I'd fixed it for you in no time. I'd handed Sullivan back his measly three hundred and eighteen quicker than you could spit."

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358 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD But I-I couldn't ask you to--" "You ain't never asked me to do northing. That's what I'm sore about. What's a friend good for if you can't use him when you need him? That sort of a friend don't amount to shucks. If you'd been frank and open with me they'd had no foundation for such a yarn. I suppose a man might get track of Sullivan through the manager of the New York Nationals." "What are you going to do, Mr. Mayhew? Never you mind, boy. But I'll tell you some thing you're going to do. I've got an interest in you, ain't I? Well, when I take an interest in anything I want to see it prosper, and general appearance is a right big factor in prosperity. Even if you're bound to live in a den like this, you ain't got no right to go round looking shabby. I want you to wear better clothes." But-but this is the best suit I own," stam mered Bill, red as fire and a trifle indignant. I've got to be economical, and I can't afford--" Rot I You can be economical enough and still dress presentable. Don't get hot, for you know I mean right, if I do speak plain without beating round the bush. I ain't much of a dresser my self, and my wife is forever drumming me about my personal appearance; but I do know it's a fact that a young man who wants to get on and mingle with folks worth while just has to wear

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A FRIEND IN NEED 359 respectable clothes. I don't mean that he should make a dude of himself or anything like that, but he can't look like a sign of hard times. I'm going to send a man round to see you, and I want you to promise to accept what he's commissioned to deliver." "I've been thinking I'd have to buy a cheap ready-made suit pretty soon," said Bill. "You wait for the man I'll send. Don't waste your money on any back number hand-me-downs off the pile. Leave it to me, boy. I'm goin' on a little trip, but I'll see you again in a few days." That same day Lufkin, a college tailor of con siderable popularity with men who did not insist on having their clothes made by some swell estab lishment in Boston, called on Bruce with samples; and Bill finally selected a medium-priced suit of black serge and was measured for it. Mayhew had given a rush order, and the tailor requested Bruce to come round to the shop late the follow ing afternoon for a try-on. It chanced that Benjamin Mayhew again dropped in on Bill as the new suit was being de livered by Lufkin in person. Bill had slipped it on that the tailor might be certain it was a satis factory fit, and Lufkin was on the point of departing when Mayhew entered. Hold on," said Bill's friend. Let me look her over. That's first-rate, boy, and it makes you look pretty swell, though I don't see why you

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360 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD selected black. Ain't expecting to attend a funeral, are ye? I hope I won't have to do anything like that very soon, Mr. Mayhew," smiled Bruce. I hope not, too. Wait a minute, Lufkin. What's the damage on this job? He drew forth a fat wallet. "The suit is paid for," said the tailor. Hey? cried Mayhew. Paid for? "Yes, sir; Mr. Bruce insisted on paying." When the tailor was gone, Ben Mayhew took Bruce to task. I sent that man here to make a suit for you," he growled, and I meant to pay for it." "I couldn't let you do that," said Bill. "If you're my friend, as you claim, you won't force charity upon me. You've been far too kind, but some day I shall pay you, with interest, every dollar you have loaned me." I'll bet my life on it," nodded the man. You're the kind that alwus pays all debts in full. Boy, if you needed five thousand dollars I'd let you have it to-morrer." "Thank you," said Bill, grateful for such a statement of confidence. I certainly hope I won't have to plunge into debt to that ex tent." The visitor took a chair, seated himself, cut a chew of tobacco from a pocket plug with the gummy blade of a big knife, tucked the quid into his cheek, closed the knife with a snap, and asked:

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A FRIEND IN NEED 361 Heard anything more of that yarn about you being barred from the nine next spring?" "Not a word." Mebbe it's sort of blowing over. Perhaps it didn't amount to northing nohow." "Even if it blows over for the present," said Bill, I have a premonition that it will be re vived as the baseball season draws near." "Have you any notion who started the story?" I think it was put in circulation by Harold Kemp." Shouldn't wonder," nodded Mayhew. I never did cotton to that critter, though both my wife and Marion they thought him the finest colt on the course one time. Lately they don't have so much to say about him. I reckon they sorter got their fill last summer when he became so thick with that little cigar girl at the Sagamore. I was right glad of it, for I'd made up my mind the old lady would rope him for Marion, and he didn't appeal to me as a son-in-law. S'pose he got sore because you trimmed him in that game at the Beach He always looked down on me as a most in ferior creature,"said Bill. No, he never looked down on you," disputed Mayhew, because he wasn't on the proper eleva tion. As a man you're head and shoulders over that cad. If he tried to hurt ye by startin' that yarn about you being a professional he's going to make a miserable fizzle of it."

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.' 362 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD "I didn't touch that money, Mr. Mayhew; but my folks accepted it and used it, which will make the charge against me look rather bad. I'm afraid it is going to give me serious trouble." "Not a bit of trouble," grinned the man, shift ing his quid of tobacco. That's all fixed." Fixed? cried Bruce, astonished. How? I've been on to New York and hunted up Mr. Sullivan. He's got his money back." Bill could find no words to express his feelings. Three times he tried to speak, but not a sound issued from his parted lips. "Yes," chuckled Benjamin Mayhew, taking a paper from his pocket and unfolding it, I've settled that business for good. I not only took a receipt from Nicholas K. Sullivan, Esq., but I made him appear before a notary public and sign and swear to a statement to the effect that he had tried to bind you to the New Yorks, but that you had teetotally refused and that you had never accepted a dollar in money from him. I rather judge this little document will put the kibosh on that damn fool yarn." He placed the paper in Bill's hand.

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CHAPTER XXXVIII ONE MORE UNFORTUNATE IF Traddles had stopped to knock, he would not have obtained admission; but, trying the door first and finding the spring lock off, he sauntered in without announcing himself. There was a light in Kemp's bedroom, and through the partly open door Twiddy caught a glimpse of Hal, divested of coat and waistcoat, in the act of pack ing a large traveling-bag. In the semi-darkness of the study the visitor stumbled against a chair, barking his shins and making a sudden racket. "Who the devil is that?" cried Kemp in great alarm. "It's me," said Twiddy, shamelessly. "What's the matter with your old chairs? Why don't they stay where they belong instead of wandering around any old place and tripping a man and skinning his leg and tempting him to break the commandments? That blessed chair just natu rally lay in ambush for me and-and--" He ceased his chatter, for he had arrived at the bed room door and obtained a fair look at Kemp. Hal's face was white as chalk and the look in his mismated eyes was that of a hunted man. \

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364 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD "Why, Kempie, old chap," cried Traddles, "what's the matter with you? Are you ill?" "No," answered Hal, drawing a long, deep breath and plainly making an effort to speak in a natural tone, I'm not ill. I thought I sprung the lock on that door. Didn't care to entertain callers to-night." But Twiddy could not be blinded to the fact that Kemp was agitated and unnerved. Various articles of wearing apparel were scattered over the bed, and the room was in disorder. The half packed traveling-bag was suggestive of a medi tated journey. Where are you going? inquired the unwel come visitor. Got a call, eh? "Wait till I fasten that door," said Hal, press ing a button that snapped on the lights in the study. I don't want everybody blundering in here." Twiddy lighted a cigarette while Kemp was attending to the door. Hal turned off the study lights when he returned. "It may be better if these rooms are not illuminated this evening," he observed. Something's gone wrong, old chap," said Traddles, watching Kemp select a few choice neckties from his amazing stock and place them in the bag. "Of course if you don't want to tell--" "Give me a cigarette," begged Kemp sud denly. (' Perhaps it will steady my nerves a bit."

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ONE MORE UNFORTUNATE 365 His hands trembled slightly as he lighted the cigarette. Yes, everything has gone wrong, Trad. The jig is up for me; my college days are ended." Traddles gasped. The deuce you say I You don't mean you're going to leave college-for good?" "Yes; I want to get off on that nine o'clock train for New York, and I didn't intend anyone should know a thing about it until I was gone." "Tell me what's happened, Hal.". Perhaps you recall one night at Balsam Beach that I spoke to you about the bears having my old man in a tight corner? Well, they got him at last; they took his pelt clean. The firm of Kemp & Bradburn, brokers, suspended to-day and J. Edwin Kemp is ruined. He hasn't a dollar left." Why, that's terrible! said Traddles, sym pathetically. It's hellish! rasped Hal, suddenly shaking like a leaf with passion and despair. Think of the old fool letting them knife him after he's played the game successfully for more than twenty years I It's a crime, and he ought to be hanged for it! I've heard him say that only bunglers put themselves in position to get trimmed by these cursed robber stock manipulators, and I know he always held in scorn anybody who did get caught. Now he's done it himself. If everything's gone, what will become of me? How'll I live? I can't work I"

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, 366 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD Oh, perhaps it won't pan out as bad as you think," said Twiddy, in an attempt to offer some consolation. What makes you go tearing off to New York? Why don't you wait until you can get further particulars? You can't do any good by rushing home." Kemp snapped his half-smoked cigarette through the open door onto the tiled floor of the bathroom and nervously resumed the work of packing. It's no use, I've got to skip, Twiddy," he said. I've had just the devil's own luck. Everything has gone wrong-and I--" He stopped, crouching, one quivering hand up lifted in a gesture commanding silence as a sud den sharp knock sounded on the door. Keep still I he whispered chokingly. Don't an swer I Don't make a sound I The knock was repeated twice, after which someone kicked the door and departed whistling. Kemp straightened up with a sucking intake of breath. Only one of the fellows," he mut tered in such evident relief that Traddles won dered. "What time is it?" He looked at his watch, which came near slipping from his nerve less fingers, and brushed a lock of hair back from his damp forehead. I mustn't miss that train. You're my friend, Traddles, aren't you?" Sure," answered Twiddy, wondering still more, for never before had Hal Kemp seemed to care a rap whether he was his friend or not. Little by little Traddles was becoming convinced

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ONE MORE UNFORTUNATE 367 that it had required something more fear-inspiring than the failure of Hal's fathc::r to take the cour age out of the man in this fashion and make him shrink and cower, pale and shivering, at every sudden sound. "Don't tell anyone I'm gone," entreated Kemp, as he brought a number of toilet articles from the bathroom and dumped them into the yawning leather bag. Let them discover for themselves. There'll be talk enough when they do find it out." He flung on his coat and vest and took a derby hat and long overcoat from the wardrobe. No need to hurry so," said Twiddy. You've got loads of time." Kemp put on the overcoat and hat and gave a quick glance at his image in the mirror. Dissatis fied, he flung the derby on the bed and found an old battered slouch hat in the wardrobe. With the overcoat buttoned, the collar turned up, and the hat pulled down, he presented a somewhat sinister appearance. Jove I said .Traddles; anybody' d imagine by your looks that you were a fugitive from justice." Is that so? muttered Kemp, dismayed. Perhaps you're right. I suppose I'm making a fool of myself." With which he hurriedly un buttoned the overcoat and changed the slouch hat for the derby. After another look at his watch, he snapped the traveling-bag shut, buckled

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368 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD the straps, found his gloves, and was ready to go. "Traddles," he suddenly said, "if you know when you're well off you'll keep your face closed good and tight. You don't want to get involved in this miserable affair." I? said Twiddy. Why, how can I get involved? I didn't--" You knew the girl and were friendly with her." The girl? What girl? "Ethel Vane." Where does she come in? Certainly I know her, but I wasn't ever very friendly with her, though she sort of used me as a makeshift for a few days after you tired of her. Is she giving you trouble, Hal? "She certainly is. It was a cursed unlucky day when I put eyes on her. She's dead." Dead? gasped Twiddy. Why-how--" She died at four o'clock this afternoon in a private sanatorium." Good God I" groaned Traddles, inexpress ibly horrified. The train was crowded and Bill had moved over to give the seat on the aisle to a little old man with a crooked cane and a crooked back. Lean ing against the window, he gazed out at the flit ting frozen landscape, unconscious of a slight,

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ONE MORE UNFORTUNATE 369 regular, rhythmical billowy movement of the car, but hearing as in a dream the sound of the rolling wheels upon the rails. That sound, resembling the low, sad, deep note of an organ, recalled a scene of sorrow he fain would have forgotten. In fancy he again beheld the interior of the little white church at Fogg's Corners, the solemn gath ering of people, the mourners with handker chiefs held to their eyes, the weeping relatives, and especially the stony-faced old father, who, although he shed no tears, seemed more crushed and broken by the unexpected blow than anyone else. He saw again the white casket, buried in flowers, and heard the trembling voice of the gray old parson telling them that the little flaxen haired girl they had known and loved had passed on to a brighter land. He remembered most vividly the minister's quotation from Hosea, second chapter, fifteenth verse: "And she shall sing there as in the days of her youth." Desiring to remember her as he had known her in life, Bill had felt it impossible to look on her dead face; but he followed the hearse to the grave and saw the casket, still heaped with flowers, lowered from view into the narrow pit. In the night it snowed and covered with a soft white shroud the mound which marked her last restingplace. Poor little girl I whispered Bill, his eyes moist. Poor Ethel I At Newburyport he became aware that a

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370 BILL BRUCE OF HARVARD lady had entered the car and paused in the aisle, looking vainly for a vacant seat. In a moment he rose, hat in hand, offering his, which was accepted with thanks. He observed that she was a woman past middle-age, with a sweet, wholesome face and that indescribable but readily recognized manner which invariably marks the person of birth and station. The old man with the crooked cane got off at Salem, assisted by Bill. When Bruce returned the lady had moved over to the window, and she smilingly nodded for him to take the seat at her side. The train is very crowded to-day," she said, "and I could not get a seat in the chair car. It was thoughtful of you to offer yours so quickly." "Oh, no," said Bill; "no man will let a lady stand." "Some do," she smiled; "but it is apparent you go not belong to that class." They conversed pleasantly all the way to the North Station, where he assisted her from the car, carrying her small hand-bag. On the plat form a fine-looking young man and a charming girl with the most bewitching dark eyes in all the world were waiting for the lady. Hello, mother," laughed Stan Hastings, while Agnes kissed the lady. Who's this you have with you? On my word, it's Bill-old Bill Bruce! If this isn't remarkable! How are you, Bill, old chap I

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ONE MORE UNFORTUNATE 371 Stan gave him a hearty, friendly handshake, and then Bruce, blushing and thrilled, once more had the rare pleasure of holding the hand of Agnes for a moment in his own. Once more he felt his heart leap and his nerves vibrate deli ciously as she smiled on him and told him she was glad to see him. So this is the Bruce my children have spoken of so often lately," said Mrs. Hastings. "It was indeed strange that I should meet him this way. ,You must call on us, Mr. Bruce. Both Stan wood and Agnes have spoken of having you over at the house. Can't you come for tea Wednes day evening? "Why" faltered Bill "I-I--" "You can't put up the bluff you gave me once," cried Stan, with a flashing, significant glance at Bill's dark tailor-made suit, in which he looked very well indeed. You must accept this time, old man." "Of course he'll accept," said Agnes decisively. "We shall expect you around six., BilV' Bill-she called him that I And for the first time he was thoroughly reconciled to the nick name that had once seemed so odious to him. Again that night, as upon the night following their first meeting, he dreamed sweet dreams of a pair of dark eyes. THE END


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