Noon came

“Here! Come back!” cried Cap.

“What for?” demanded Pete, pausing in the darkness, and gazing first
toward the disappearing red light and then toward where his brother

“You can’t catch an auto, no matter if you are a good base runner,”
replied the older Smith lad. “Come here.”

“That’s right, I guess there isn’t much use running,” admitted Pete
dubiously, as he slowly returned.

“But they’ve got Bill, and we ought to help him. Maybe they’ll hold him
for a ransom.”

“It’s only a joke,” decided Cap. “Come on, we’ve got to use our brains
against these fellows, and maybe we can turn the tables on them. First
we’ll go on to town, and see if any of them really are at the hotel. We
may get a line on them there.”

But there was no trace of any one at the hostelry who might, by any
stretch of the imagination, be considered as of those who had a part in
the kidnapping.

“Back to school,” ordered Cap. “We’ll see if there’s anything doing

It did not take long to learn that no hazing was going on that night,
and that none of the various school societies were engaged in any
pranks, and when it was made clear that neither Mersfeld nor North had
been out of their rooms, they were absolved from the half-suspicion
that pointed to them.

“But Bill’s gone,” said Pete blankly.

“Yes, and it’s up to us to find him,” decided Cap. “I guess to-morrow—”

“By Jove, to-morrow is the date for the big Freshman game with
Tuckerton!” exclaimed Whistle-Breeches. “You know how they protested
against him. I’ll bet a cookie, without a hole in it, that—”

“Say no more!” burst out Bob Chapin, with a tragic gesture. “The plot
is laid bare! Tuckerton has our hero! On to the rescue!”

But it was too late to do anything that night, though probably had
the college authorities been appealed to they would have permitted
further search. However our friends preferred to work out the problem

Meanwhile poor Bill was being rapidly carried away, whither he knew
not. All that he was aware of was that a cloth had been wound around
his head and face to prevent him from seeing or from crying out. Then
he was bundled into an auto, and the car was speeded up.

Bill tried to listen and catch any sounds that might indicate where he
was being taken, but Borden, who wanted to make speed had the muffler
cut out and the only noise the pitcher heard was that made by the

It was a rough road over which he was being taken, and the car swayed
and pitched from side to side, tossing Bill about. When he first felt
himself grabbed by his unknown assailants he had tried to struggle away
from them, but they had skilfully wound ropes about his legs and arms,
and now, bundled up as he was in one corner of the gasoline vehicle,
he tried in vain to free himself. But the ropes held.

At length, however, lack of air, by reason of the cloth being too
tightly drawn over his head, caused the unlucky lad to give utterance
to a muffled appeal.

“I say, you fellows don’t want me to smother; do you?” he demanded.

“No, of course not,” came the cool answer. “If you’ll promise not to
make a row we’ll take off some of the horse blankets. How about it?”

Bill listened intently. He did not recognize the voice. He was minded
to return a fierce answer, that he would suit himself about calling for
help, but he recalled that in many cases discretion is the better part
of valor. So, rather meekly, he made answer:

“I’ll be good, kind Mr. Highwayman!”

There was a stifled laugh at this.

“Takes it well,” remarked one of his captors in a whisper.

“Yes—but wait,” was the significant comment. “You take off some of the
wrappings. Be careful he doesn’t spot you.”

Bill was soon more comfortable, as far as breathing was concerned, but
his limbs were still cramped from the cords that bound them, and he
was in a most uncomfortable position. He seemed to be reclining in the
tonneau of the car, and some one was in the seat with him. He tried
his best to make out the features, but it was dark, and the half masks
which his captors wore prevented recognition.

Nor did the voices afford any clew, for when those in the auto spoke
it was either in half whispers or in mumbled words so that the tones
were not clear. At first Bill thought it was some of the students from
Westfield who were playing a joke on him, but later he changed this
opinion. He had an idea that it was either Mersfeld, North or some of
their crowd, but the conversation among his captors soon disclosed that
they were not these lads.

“I wonder what they want of me, anyhow,” mused Bill. “It was foolish to
pay any attention to that note. I wish I had looked more carefully at
the writing.”

Yet, as he tried to recall the characters he was sure he had never seen
the hand before.

“It’s a joke, though, sure,” decided the pitcher. “And it’s some young
fellows who have me in tow. Guess I’ll talk and see if they’ll answer.”

He squirmed into an easier position, and fired this question at those
in the auto:

“Where are you taking me?”

“You’ll soon see,” was the reply.

“If I ever find out who you are, I’ll pay you back well for this,” went
on Bill.

“You’re welcome to—if you find out,” was the significant answer.

“I know you!” suddenly exclaimed the captive. “You’re fellows from
Sandrim, trying to get even for us boys taking your boats,” went on
Bill, for, not long before that, the lads from Westfield had carried
a lot of boats from their rival school, and deposited the craft in
the middle of their own campus. “You’re from Sandrim,” declared Bill

A laugh was his only answer. The auto kept up the speed, and presently
turned from the main road, into a sort of lane.

“Is this the place?” asked the lad who was in the tonneau with Bill.

“A little farther,” answered the one at the wheel. “Look out he doesn’t
slip away from you.”

“Oh, I’ve got him,” was the reply, and a hand took a firmer grip of
Bill’s shoulder.

The car came to a sudden stop. A door of a building which the pitcher
could see was a sort of shack, or hut, was opened, and a shaft of light
came out.

“Is that you—” began a voice.

“Yes, keep quiet!” was the quick retort. “We’ve got him. Help carry him
to the room, and don’t talk.”

Before Bill could prevent it he was again tied up, and some one lifted
him from the car. He was carried along in the darkness, trying in vain
to make out what sort of a place he was in.

Then he was laid, none too gently, on a pile of some rags in a corner
of a dark room. The door was closed and Bill was left alone with his
anxious and gloomy thoughts.

“Potato salad!” he gasped, half aloud, for the rags had been removed
from around his head, “I hope I get away from here in time to play in
the Freshman game to-morrow! It will be fierce if I don’t.”

Bill listened. He could hear the auto puffing away. He was left alone
in the deserted shack—at least he thought he was alone, for he heard
no noise.

* * * * *

Bright and early the next morning Pete and Cap were up, ready to go
to the rescue of their brother. They arranged to cut their lectures
that day, as did also Whistle-Breeches, and, though many more students
wanted to take part in the search, it was thought best not to make too
much of the affair.

“For, whoever has done it will hear about us getting excited about it
and they’ll have more of a laugh on us than ever,” declared Cap. “It’s
a disgrace that we ever let Bill be captured.”

“We couldn’t help it,” was Pete’s opinion. “But we’ll get him back.”

Their first move in the morning was to go to the place where the
kidnapping had occurred. There they saw the marks of some auto wheels,
but, as several cars had passed by in the meanwhile it was impossible
to do any tracing.

“We’ve got to make inquiries,” decided Cap. “We’ll ask along the road,
of farmers and the people we meet.”

They did not have much success for they could not describe the auto,
nor those in it, and many cars had gone over the road.

“It’s my notion that you’re lookin’ fer a needle in the haystack,” was
the opinion of one farmer whom they asked, and when the boys thought of
it, they nearly agreed with him.

“But what will we do at the game if he doesn’t show up?” demanded
Captain Armitage. “It will be fierce to go up against Tuckerton without
Bill in the box.”

“What _can_ we do?” asked Pete hopelessly when a good part of the
morning had gone, and there was no trace of the missing pitcher.

“Go right to Tuckerton, and accuse them!” suggested the irate captain.
“Tell them we know they spirited Bill off, and demand that they produce
him, or we’ll not play.”

“They’d laugh at us,” said Cap. “Call us kindergartners, and all that
sort of thing. No, we can’t crawl that way. But I believe the Tuckerton
fellows _did_ have a hand in the game, and if we can only find out
which of them hired an auto I think we’d have a clew.”

“Maybe one of them owns a car,” suggested Whistle-Breeches. It was a
new thought for the searchers, and it was received joyously.

“By Jinks! That’s the stuff!” cried Cap. “Pete, you get on that trail,
and I’ll inquire at the only garage in town if any of the fellows from
Tuckerton hired a gasoline gig there. I’ll meet you at the cross roads.”

This was a place about half-way between the two schools which were only
a few miles apart.

With Pete went Whistle-Breeches, to help in the inquiry, and Bob Chapin
accompanied Cap. Meanwhile Captain Armitage was in despair, for he had
counted on Bill to win the biggest part of the game, and without him
he was sure his nine would lose. On the other hand there was rejoicing
in the Tuckerton camp, when it was known that Bill was missing, though
only a few of the members of the nine and its supporters, guessed the
cause of his absence.

Noon came, and Bill was still among the missing. Cap had obtained no
news at the town garage, and though Pete had learned that Borden of
Tuckerton, owned a car, he could not locate that youth or his machine.
For the nine had some grounds a distance from the school to practice
before the big game.

“I guess it’s no use,” said Cap despairingly. “It’s a queer sort of a
joke, if that’s what it is, and it looks as if Bill would be out of the
game. You’ll have to play without him, Armitage.”

“Well, I’ll wait until the last minute,” decided the captain. “He may
get away and join us. Lucky it’s on our own grounds. We’ll have that
advantage. Poor Bill. I wonder where he is?”

Bill Smith, about that same time, was wondering the same thing. He had
dozed off after his captors had left him, but, with the first glint of
morning sun into the room where he was a prisoner he had awakened. He
was still bound.

“Well, this is pretty punk!” he exclaimed. “To think that they got
ahead of me this way! I wonder where I am, anyhow? And I wonder how I
can get away, and back—Great muskmelons! If I don’t show up at the

The thought was too much for Bill. He resolved on bold tactics.
Considering that his promise not to make an outcry ended with the
leaving of his captors, he raised his voice in a shout.

“Help! Come here, somebody! Let me out! Police!”

Bill didn’t particularly want the police, for he knew that his
captivity was the result of some school prank, and the boys never
called on the officers of the law if they could help it. But “Police!”
was an easy word to say, and it carried well. Therefore the captive
yelled it again and again.

But there was no answer to his cries, and after straining his throat
until it ached, the pitcher decided that he had better save his breath
and try other means to escape.

“First to see if I can’t get rid of some of these ropes on my arms and
legs,” he murmured. He tugged and strained at them, after wiggling to
a sitting position, but the knots had been made with care, and held.
Bill tried to pull his hands from the loops but it was useless, and his
feet were equally secure. He could not gnaw through the ropes as he had
sometimes read of prisoners doing, for his hands were tied behind his

“I certainly am up against it,” he said aloud. Then, for the first
time, he took note of his prison. He was in a vacant room, evidently
in some old fashioned house, to judge by the character of the woodwork
and the wall paper. There were two windows, and a door, the latter
apparently quite solid.

“Let’s have a look outside,” suggested Bill to himself. He struggled to
his feet, and, by a series of hops, gained the windows. He was in the
third story of a house, set in the midst of a neglected garden, and the
scene that met the lad’s gaze was unfamiliar to him.

“I might be a hundred miles from nowhere, for all I can tell,” he
concluded dubiously. “Well, now for a try at the door.”

Hopping over to the portal Bill turned around with his back to it, and
managed to reach the knob with his hands. It turned, but the door was

“Nothing doing there!” exclaimed the captive. “Well, here’s for
some more noise.” He yelled and shouted at the top of his voice,
accompanying himself by beating on the door with his bound fists.
Silence was his only answer.

Once more Bill hopped to the window. He looked out, hoping he might see
some one to whom he could appeal. Then, as he gazed helplessly out, he
noted a nail driven into one side of the casement. At once a plan came
into his mind.

“If I can rub the rope that binds my hands, up and down over the head
of that nail, I may fray the ropes enough to break them,” he remarked
aloud, for it made it seem less lonesome to speak thus. “Once I get my
hands loose—” Bill did not finish, but he had great hopes of what he
could then do.

He began at once with the rusty nail as a knife. It was hard work, and
several times his hands slipped and his wrists were scratched, but he
kept at it, and finally found that the cords were giving way. He worked
faster, and then, with a sudden strain he found his arms free. Then it
was an easy matter to loosen his feet, and he stood up unbound.

“Now for a try at that door!” exclaimed the lad, and after giving the
knob a vigorous turn, and vainly pulling on the portal he began to kick
it violently.

He was engaged in this, at the same time yelling and demanding to be
released, when the door suddenly opened. So suddenly in fact that
Bill toppled outward with it, and was caught in the arms of a big
man who entered quickly, carrying the captive backward with him, and
immediately locking the portal again.

Surprise bereft the lad of speech for a moment, and the man, after
gazing at him, and noting the ropes on the floor, remarked:

“Well, you got rid of ’em yourself, I see. If you’d have waited a
little longer I’d have taken ’em off. I’m a little late getting here
with your breakfast.”

“Breakfast!” gasped Bill. “You’d have taken off the ropes! Say, what
kind of a game am I up against, anyhow?”

“Oh, I guess it’s all right,” said the man easily.

“Well it isn’t all right,” declared Bill. “If you don’t let me out of
here right away there’s going to be the biggest row you ever saw,” and,
as if in support of his assertion the pitcher rushed over and began
kicking on the door again.

“Hum! Them fellers was right,” murmured the man seemingly not a bit
disturbed by what Bill was doing.

“What fellows?” demanded the pitcher, pausing in his attack.

“The ones what brought you here. They said you’d cut up rough, and make
a lot of fuss, an’ by gum, they was right! I guess you sure enough do
need a straight-jacket.”

“A straight-jacket!” gasped poor Bill. “Say, for the love of cats, tell
me what I’m up against; won’t you?”

“I don’t know, I’m sure,” was the calm reply. “I was told to humor
you until the keeper come, an’ I’m doin’ it. What would you like for

“I don’t want any—let me out!” pleaded Bill. He was beginning to see
the joke now.

“I don’t dast,” replied the man. “The fellers what brung you here
said you was dangerous at times, an’ I might be held responsible. They
fetched you here in an automobile, an’ arranged with me to leave you
in this vacant house of mine until they could come again, with keepers
from the lunatic asylum, to take you away. I’m expectin’ ’em every
minute, but they said I was to untie you by daylight, an’ feed you, as
you was less violent when it wasn’t dark.”

“Say, look here!” cried Bill. “Do you think I’m crazy?”

“I’m sure of it,” was the answer. “At least, no, I ain’t neither. There
I clean forgot to say what them fellers told me to. No you ain’t crazy.
I am, an’ everybody else is, but you’re sane. That’s what they said
I was to tell you, if you asked me that question. All crazy persons
thinks they are sane,” he went on in explanation. “You’re sane.”

“But look here!” pleaded the captive. “Of course I’m sane. I’m a
student at Westfield, and the fellows who brought me are either
students from there, or from some other school, playing a joke on me.
Now let me go!”

The man shook his head.

“They told me you’d say that, too,” he said. “I can’t let you go. I
promised to keep you here until the keepers came, an’ I’m goin’ to
do it. Now take it easy and you’ll be all right. I’ll bring you some
breakfast. You look hungry.”

“I am, but say—” Then the hopelessness of appealing any further to the
man came forcibly to Bill, and he was silent.

“That’s better,” announced the man, preparing to unlock the door again.
“I live over here a little way. This house belongs to me, but it’s been
vacant some time, so you can yell and holler all you please—no one
will hear you. I’ll go get you some victuals. Is there anything special
you’d like? My wife is a good cook.”

“Oh, bring anything,” said poor Bill. He knew that he would have to eat
if he was to keep up his strength, for he had determined to try to
escape by the windows as soon as he was left alone again. He had a wild
idea of making a rush when the farmer opened the door, but a look at
the bulky frame of the man made him change his mind.

The food was good and Bill ate a hearty meal. Then he was left alone
again, the farmer, on locking the door, saying that he expected the
keepers any moment. It was evident that he believed the stories the
captors of Bill had told him.

Once he was alone, and when a look from the windows had assured him
that he was not being watched, Bill began to put into operation his
plan of getting away.

He hoped that the ropes which had bound him would enable him to make
his way down them out of the window, but on tying the pieces together
he discovered that they were not long enough.

“Up against it!” exclaimed the lad, until, looking more carefully out
of the end casement he discovered that a stout lightning rod ran near
it, down the side of the house.

“That’s just the cheese, if it will hold me,” murmured the lad. “I’m
going to try it anyhow.”

He crawled out on the window sill, tested the rod as best he could, and
then swung himself down it. To his joy it held, and in a few seconds he
was safe on the ground.

“Now to find out where I am, and streak it for school and the game!” he
murmured, looking around to see that the farmer was not in sight. He
got his bearings and was soon out on a dusty highway. He ran for some
distance until a turn in the road hid the house of his captivity from
him, and then slowed down to a walk.

The surroundings were still unfamiliar to him, but meeting a man
driving a carriage he learned that he was near the village of
Belleville, about twenty miles from Westfield.

“And it’s coming on noon, I haven’t half enough to buy a railroad
ticket, and the game is called at two o’clock!” groaned Bill. “I
certainly am up against it good and hard!”

The man whom he had accosted was going in the wrong direction, or he
would have given the lad a lift. However, he did consent to drive him
to the railroad station.

“I’ll see if I can’t give the agent a hard-luck story, and have him
trust me for a ticket,” thought the pitcher.

But the station agent proved to be a hard-featured man, who had once
lost a dollar by lending it to a young lady who told him a pathetic
story, and he turned a deaf ear to Bill’s pleading.

“No money no ticket,” he declared.

“But look here,” gasped Bill. “Some fellows, either at my school, or
from Tuckerton, played a joke on me last night—kidnapped me. I’m to
pitch in the championship Freshman baseball game at two o’clock this
afternoon, and I’ve just _got_ to be there. I’ll pay you back if you
trust me for a ticket. Or say, you can ship me as express, C. O. D. and
the boys will pay the charges at Westfield.”

“Live stock has to travel in cattle cars, not as express,” answered the
agent with a grim smile. “Besides I don’t believe in baseball anyhow.
Some boys was battin’ a hall once, an’ they busted one of the windows
in this ticket office. I had to pay for it, too! I ain’t got no manner
of likin’ for baseball.”

Bill saw that it was no use in pleading, and turned away. With despair
in his heart he noted that it was nearly one o’clock. He might as well
give up. Already the players were beginning to get ready for the game.
In fancy he could hear the words of wonder at his absence from the

“They may think I threw the game,” thought Bill, and then he remembered
that his brothers and Whistle-Breeches had seen him captured, and would
tell the story.

“They’d come to the rescue if they only knew where to come, too,”
thought Bill gloomily.

The pitcher was in desperate straits. A search through his pockets
disclosed the fact that he had nothing to pawn on which to raise money,
even if there had been a pawn shop in the village. He was just giving
up, deciding to walk to Westfield, hoping to arrive before dark, when,
as he left the station he nearly collided with a pretty girl, who was
just entering, having alighted from a trim little motor car, that was
still puffing outside.

“I beg your pardon,” mumbled Bill.

“Oh!” exclaimed the girl. “I—why it’s Mr. Smith!” she cried, holding
out her hand. “I’m glad to meet you again. But why aren’t you over at
school at the big game? I’m on my way there.”

For a moment you could have knocked Bill down with the wind from a
slow ball, as he afterward expressed it. He looked at the girl, and
recognized her as Miss Ruth Morton, to whom he had been introduced by
Bob Chapin at one of the school games.

“Miss Morton!” he murmured. “I—Oh, if you’re going to Westfield will
you take me? I’m marooned!”

Then, rapidly, he blurted out the whole story of his capture and his
inability to get back.

“Take you! Of course I’ll take you!” exclaimed Miss Morton. “I have to
stop for a girl friend, who is going to the game with me, but there’ll
be plenty of room for you.”

“I’ll ride on the mud guard or hang on back!” exclaimed Bill, a gleam
of hope lighting his woe-begone countenance. “Only I want to beat

“And I want you to, even if a—a friend of mine goes there. I think it
was an awfully mean trick they played on you.”

“Oh, I’m not _sure_ any Tuckerton fellows did it,” said Bill, who
wanted to play fair. “It may have been some of the Westfield crowd,”
but he had his own opinion.

Miss Morton, who had come to the station to inquire about some express
package, hurried out to her car, followed by Bill. He offered to run it
for her, but she was not a little proud of her own ability to drive.

“We’ve got to make time,” suggested the pitcher nervously.

“I can do it,” the girl assured him, and, once she had thrown in the
third gear, the pitcher had no reason to complain of lack of speed.

Miss Morton’s girl friend—Miss Hazel Dunning—was taken aboard and
then, with Bill sitting on the floor in front, and resting his feet on
the mud-guard step, for the machine was only a runabout, the trip to
Westfield was begun.

Back on the school diamond there was an anxious throng of students and
players. The news of Bill’s kidnapping was known all over, and while
there was despair in the ranks of the Westfield Freshmen and their
supporters, there was ill-concealed joy among the Tuckerton nine and
their adherents.

“Those fellows know where Bill is,” declared Cap.

“But we don’t dare accuse them,” agreed Pete.

“And we’ll lose the game,” went on Armitage dubiously.

Bill never forgot his trip with Miss Morton. She was a daring driver,
for a girl, and once or twice took chances that made even the
nerve-hardened pitcher wince. But with a merry laugh she sped on, after
cutting in ahead of a load of hay, on a narrow bridge.

Once there was a hail from a speed-watching constable but the girl kept

“There’s oil on my number, and I never expect to come this way again,”
she declared recklessly.

“If only we don’t get a blow-out!” murmured Miss Dunning.

“Don’t you dare suggest such a thing, Hazel!” cried Miss Morton.

She turned on more speed. It lacked five minutes to two, and Bill knew
the game would be called on the dot. They were two miles away, and
could hardly get there on time, but the pitcher consoled himself with
the reflection that at least he could take part after the first inning.

“Are we going to make it?” asked Miss Dunning.

“We’ve _got_ to!” declared Miss Morton, as she swung around in front
of a farm wagon, thereby causing the grizzled driver symptoms of heart

Bill could hear the shouts on the diamond now. He was in a fever of
excitement, and stood up to catch a first glimpse of the field. Miss
Morton, with her lips set firmly around her pretty mouth grasped the
steering wheel more rigidly and drove on. Toward the diamond she
turned. There was another cheer from the crowd, but Bill could not see
what was going on, and feared the game had started. There came a break
in the throng and he had a glimpse of the field. What he saw reassured

“I’m just in time!” he gasped. “They’re only practicing!”

He leaped out as the girl brought the car to a sudden stop with both
brakes grinding and screeching.

“See you later! A thousand thanks—never could have done it but for
you, Miss Morton!” burst out Bill as he ran over the grass. “I’ll never
forget it.”

“Me either,” murmured the girl. “I never drove so fast before in all my
life, but I wasn’t going to tell him so,” she confided to her chum, as
they left the car and walked toward the grand stand.

“Play ball!” called the umpire.

“Wait! Wait!” begged Bill breathlessly, as he ran forward. “I’m in
time! I can play. Where’s Armitage? I’ve been locked up—couldn’t get
here before! Can’t I play?”

A cheer greeted Bill’s unexpected appearance. His brothers who had
given up hope rushed forward to clap him on the back. Whistle-Breeches
did a war dance around him. There was wild rejoicing among the
Westfield Freshmen. The Tuckerton Freshmen looked glum.

“Well, he got here after all,” muttered Swain, the pitcher, to Captain

“Yes. That farmer must have let him go before I meant him to.”

“What are you going to do—protest again?” asked Cadmus.

“No; what’s the use? I think they’re suspicious as it is. All we can
do now is to play to beat ’em. Hang the luck anyhow, but—I s’pose it
serves us right.” Borden had the grace to admit that much.

Meanwhile Bill had rapidly told the story of his captivity and his ride
in the auto.

“I tell you what we ought to do!” declared Armitage angrily, “we ought
to refuse to play them, and claim the game. The idea of kidnapping our

“Easy!” exclaimed Cap.

“That’s right,” put in Bill. “I wasn’t hurt any, and it was rather a
lark after I got away. Besides we don’t know for sure that Borden and
his crowd did it, though I’m almost positive it was his auto. But never
mind. Let’s play ball.”

“It’s too late to get into uniform,” remarked the captain, “and we’re
to take the field.”

“I’ll pitch as I am, and borrow a uniform when it’s our turn to bat,”
spoke Bill.

“But can you twirl?” inquired his brother. “After what you’ve been
through—away all night—knocked around in an auto, no decent meal—”

“That’s where you’re wrong, I had one good meal, and the next one can
wait until we win the game. Miss Morton—she’s several kinds of a
pretty brick, by the way—she got some sandwiches on the trip in. My!
She’s a stunner! How she did drive! She—”

“Oh, get in your box, and play ball,” interrupted Armitage, with a
laugh at Bill’s enthusiasm.

There were dubious looks on the faces of the Tuckerton players at the
advent of the talented pitcher, but a gleam of hope came when Borden
whispered that he might be all out of condition from his captivity, and
could not hold his own in the box.

Curiously enough it did not occur to any of the conspiring rivals of
Westfield that they had taken an unfair advantage in spiriting Bill
away. They felt that he had no right, as the Varsity pitcher, to play
with the Freshmen against them.

But if they hoped that Bill was out of condition they were doomed to
disappointment, for when he had put on his glasses, which Cap had
brought with him on a forlorn chance, Bill never pitched better ball.
At first he was a little stiff, and issued several passes, whereat
there was rejoicing among the visitors, and grim despair in the ranks
of the home team. But Bill shook off his momentary indisposition, and
when the final inning had ended in a dazzling succession of plays, the
Westfield team had won by a score of ten runs to three.

“Wow, Oh, wow!” cried Armitage, hugging Bill. “If you hadn’t come along
we’d have been in the soup!”

“Nonsense!” objected Bill.

“It’s true,” said Whistle-Breeches. “Swain was in great form to-day.”

“But Bill was better,” added Pete.

“You could make a story out of what you went through,” drawled Bob
Chapin. “Ring in Miss Morton as the heroine.”

“Only for her I’d never have made it,” agreed Bill, as he went over to
shake hands with the pretty, blushing girl.

“Oh, it was fine! Fine!” cried Miss Morton, as she greeted Bill and his
companions who surrounded her and Miss Dunning.

“Perfectly wonderful the way you struck out the last three men,” went
on the other girl.

Bill blushed behind his ears. He was too tanned to have the color show

And so the Tuckerton-Westfield Freshmen game passed into school
history, and Bill never really found out who had kidnapped him. In fact
he never tried, for he concluded that his suspicions were good enough,
and he did not want revenge.

The summer crept on, and the close of the term was near at hand. More
games were played, and Westfield was doing well. She did not have, as
yet by any means, a clear title to the pennant. In fact the loss of a
few games would mean that Tuckerton or Sandrim would get it, but the
Smith boys and their chums were working hard.

As for Mersfeld he was still under the ban, for when he was allowed
to resume athletics he had gone so stale that after a try-out he was
relegated to the ranks of the subs for the Varsity, and Bill’s place as
first pitcher was undisputed. And there was bitterness in the heart of
the former twirler.

“Oh, if I could only get square with him!” he muttered to North.

“There’s only one way to put him out of the running,” declared that

“And that is—?”

“To get his special glasses. He can’t get another pair made in time
now, for that old codger of an astronomer has been arrested I hear, and
the other professor hasn’t been around lately. There’s only a week more
before the close of the season, and if you get the specks Bill couldn’t
pitch. You might have a chance then.”

“I wish we could get ’em, but we risked it once, and—”

“We’ll have to do it differently this time. No more trying to sneak
into his room. We’ve got to take the glasses away from him personally.”

“How? Hold him up some dark night? That won’t do, for he only carries
them with him going to and from the games.”

“And that’s just when I mean to take them. If we could get him into
what would look like a friendly scrimmage say, one of us could frisk
the glasses out of his pocket, and he’d be left when he tried to pitch
next time.”

“Can it be done?”

“Sure. If you’re with me just hang around the next time Bill comes
off the diamond. I’ll start something, you come back at me, we’ll run
around Bill and his brothers—maybe upset ’em, and in the confusion if
I can’t get the glasses I’m no good. I know where he carries ’em.”

“All right, North. If I can only get back on the team I’d do anything!”

“Then it’s settled,” was the reply, and the two cronies walked away
together, talking of their mean plot.

Their chance came the next day, when a crowd of the players were
returning from the ball field after a practice game.

“Tag, you’re it!” suddenly cried North to Mersfeld, and he
began circling about Bill, Pete and Cap, who were walking with

“Oh, cut it out!” cried Mersfeld, as if in objection, and he tripped
North up. The latter in falling made a grab for Bill, as if to save
himself, and in an instant the two went down in a heap and there was a
laughing, struggling crowd of youths rolling over the grass in what was
apparently a friendly scrimmage.