It was the call of the watch-holder, and, as he spoke the word, two
scantily clad figures leaped toward each other.
“Take him easy now, Cap!” cautioned Bill to his larger brother.
“Go in and finish him!” advised Mersfeld to North, for whom he was
acting as second. Merton was keeping time, and Ward, the other Senior
who had been the unbidden guest at the little spread was referee.
It was the fight between North and Cap Smith—the fight which was the
inevitable outcome of the interference when the bully was mistreating
The contest took place where all such affairs were “pulled off,” if
I may use such a term, in a well-secluded spot back of the baseball
“Watch his left!” was the further advice of Bill, who was acting as
second, gave to his brother, while Mersfeld sarcastically cut in with:
“Look out for biting in the clinches, North.”
It was a useless insult, for Cap never answered it.
Narrowly he watched his opponent, looking into his eyes, and trying to
guess, by close observations of those organs, how the lead would be.
Out shot North’s left, after a weak feint with his right. Cap was not
deceived. Cleverly he blocked the blow and countered with his left. His
aim was a bit short, but it caught North over the eye, too lightly to
raise a mark, however.
The fight was now on, and for a time blows were delivered with such
rapidity that the onlookers were in doubt as to who was having the best
of it. It was give and take, yet it was not brutal.
For the lads were both healthy and strong, and the soft gloves which
the Seniors had insisted that they wear, precluded any serious damage
to either. Nor were they scientific enough to do any material harm, for
though they had both taken boxing lessons, they were far from being in
the class with pugilists.
North half turned, made a feint as though to drive his right into Cap’s
face, quickly shifted, and shot out his left.
“Wow!” cried Mersfeld in anticipation of what was about to happen to
the youth against whom he bore a grudge.
But it was the unexpected which took place, for North in making the
shift had left himself unguarded for one fatal moment.
In shot the ready left of Cap Smith, straight from the shoulder, with
all the steam behind it which our hero could muster, and North was
neatly bowled over, bleeding slightly from the nose.
“First blood for us!” called Bill shrilly.
“Well, you needn’t shout over it, and bring McNibb here!” grumbled
Mersfeld, as he hurried to his fallen champion.
“I—I’m all right!” gasped North. “My—my foot slipped on the grass.”
“Like fun!” retorted Pete. “You’ll have some more of those ‘slips’
before it’s over.”
“That’ll do,” spoke Ward quietly. He looked at his classmate.
“Time,” called Merton, for North had been attended by his second, while
Bill looked after Cap, who was in no way distressed.
“Don’t hurry to finish him,” whispered Bill, as Cap arose from his knee
to go forward. “You can do him.”
“I don’t know about that,” was the cautious reply. “He has a strong
right, and guards pretty well. I just managed to get in.”
“Don’t let him get you that way again,” advised Mersfeld to his friend.
“It’s too risky.”
“I won’t, if I can help it.”
They were at it again, hammer and tongs, giving and taking. Several
body blows were exchanged, making both lads grunt, but doing no damage.
Then, when Cap tried for another left to the jaw he either
miscalculated, or North guarded quickly, for Cap’s fist came against
his opponent’s forearm, and the next minute our hero went down under a
well directed blow, that eventually closed his right eye. But he did
not mind this, got up quickly and was at it again.
Seeing his advantage in the next round North hammered away at Cap’s
optic, thereby not only causing the Smith lad exquisite pain, but
greatly hampering him in the fight, for his vision was reduced by half.
“You’ve got him now!” exulted Mersfeld, when the round was over, and
he was spraying his man with water from a ginger ale bottle. “Keep at
“Oh, he’s got lots of go yet,” declared North. “If I can close his
other eye I’ll have him though.”
“Then play for that.”
North tried to, but he was so intent on this that he left his own chin
unguarded. Cap did not care much about inflicting visible punishment on
the bully, but he did want to end the fight, for which, truth to tell,
he had no great hankering.
Once more his reliable left went boring in, and North gently went over
backwards, coming heavily down in the grass. He almost took the count,
but the time keeper was merciful, and allowed him a few seconds.
“He’s about all in,” whispered Bill to his brother, when after some
feeble and cautious sparring the round was at an end. “Finish him up.
I’m afraid McNibb or some of the profs. might come.”
“So am I. Here goes for a knock-out.”
Cap tried for it, but North was shifty. He was playing on the defensive
now, for he found that Cap was more cautious and was guarding his
damaged eye well. And North did not dare open his guard enough to come
back strong. Therefore he clinched several times, hanging heavily on
his opponent to tire him.
Cap tried to avoid this, and there was considerable leg work which was
hard on the breathing apparatus. He thought he saw one good chance, and
sent in an upper cut, but it fell short, and he got a blow on the ear
that made his head ring.
Thereafter he was more cautious.
“You must do him up soon,” implored Bill. “Can’t you take a chance?”
“I’m afraid to, with my bad eye.”
“That’s so. Well, use your own judgment.”
But the next round was the last, and the end came most unexpectedly.
North led with his right, intending to try once more his feinting,
shifting tactics. But he made a miscalculation. Cap blocked with his
left, and sending in a cross-counter with his right caught North on the
side of the head.
Down went the bully like a log, not badly hurt, but stunned enough to
make him take the count. There was no chance to allow the fatal ten
seconds to elapse, however, for, from the crowd that surrounded the two
contestants came the cry:
“Here comes Prexy!”
“Skip! Here’s Dr. Burton!”
“Come on, Cap! Get into your coat—never mind your shirt—out this
way!” cried Bill, Pete and Whistle-Breeches in the same breath.
Cap looked afar, and saw the figure of the venerable president bearing
down on them. The head of Westfield school was eagerly perusing one
book, and had another under his arm.
Cap hurriedly dressed as best he could. He saw North slowly rising,
assisted by his friends. Cap started toward him.
“Where you going?” demanded Bill.
“To shake hands—it’s all over. I want to be friends.”
“You’ve no time. I doubt if we can get away as it is.”
Bill, Pete, Whistle-Breeches and some of the others tried to get Cap
in their midst, so that his blackened eye would not be seen. They
hoped to be able to get back to their rooms by a round-about path, but,
alas for their hopes. Dr. Burton looked up, saw them, and changing his
course, bore down more directly on them.
“It’s all up!” groaned Pete.
Bill looked around, and saw North and his friends hurrying into the
dressing rooms under the grandstand. He wished he had thought of that,
but there was no time now.
“What’ll you say when he asks you what’s up?” asked Whistle-Breeches.
“Guess I’ll have to tell the truth,” answered Cap.
“Couldn’t you say you ran into the fence catching a foul ball?”
“Nothing doing,” was his brother’s retort. “The doctor would guess
right in a minute. Besides, I wouldn’t fake it that way.”
“Of course not. I was only joking. Well, he’ll be here in a second.
He’s looking at us as if undecided whether we were Greek roots or some
Sanskrit characters. Maybe he’ll pass us up,” went on Bill.
“No such luck!” groaned Pete. “Pull your cap down farther over your
eyes, and maybe he won’t see the bruise.”
But all the efforts of the lads were seemingly to go for naught. The
venerable president, squinting at them through his thick spectacles,
smiled in a friendly fashion, as he came nearer. The students halted
and touched their caps.
“Ah, boys, just coming from a game?” inquired Dr. Burton.
“Yes, sir,” answered Whistle-Breeches, who, being slightly taller than
Cap, had stepped in front of him.
“Ah, and who won, may I ask?”
“We—er—that is we didn’t finish,” answered Bill, hoping to draw
attention away from Cap.
“The season has opened well, I hope,” went on the doctor. “And there
are good chances for keeping the pennant here, I trust?”
“We’re going to try hard,” put in Pete, who, being on the other side,
trusted to draw the attention of the president farther away from his
brother. As for that hero he remained quiet.
“Pull your cap farther down!” again advised Bill in a hoarse whisper.
Whether it was that or whether he would have noticed it anyhow, the
eyes of the president went straight to Cap’s bruised countenance. He
saw the blackened eye, and the cuts and scratches.
“Ah, there has been an accident, I see,” he remarked, and he advanced
closer to the lad.
“Er—yes—that is I—”
“Cut it out,” whispered Bill, nudging his brother in the back.
“Hit by a ball, I suppose,” went on the president. “And yet they say
baseball is comparatively harmless. Why, you look almost as if you had
been through a football scrimmage, Smith.”
“Ye—yes, sir,” stammered Cap.
“Better have it attended to right away,” continued Dr. Burton. “That
eye looks very painful.”
“It is,” murmured Cap.
“And you had better wear a stronger mask,” were the doctor’s parting
words, as he turned aside. There was a queer smile on his face, and
his eyes twinkled behind his glasses. He opened his book at the place
where a cautious finger had kept the pages apart, and passed on.
“Talk about luck!” exclaimed Whistle-Breeches hoarsely. “He never even
suspected that there’d been a fight. Oh, you Cap!”
“Suspected!” burst out Bill. “I’ll bet he knows all about it!”
“He did not!” declared the other lad. “Why, he’s so interested in that
book that I don’t believe he remembers now whether he spoke to us or
“He doesn’t; eh?” exclaimed Bill. “Say, he went off reading his book
upside down, and if that doesn’t indicate that he’s on to our game, and
is laughing at our attempts to keep it from him, I’d like to know what
it does mean?”
“Was his book upside down?”
“Surest thing you know. Say, what the doctor doesn’t know wouldn’t
cover a postage stamp. But it was white of him not to let on. You’re
“Yes, regular Smith luck,” put in Whistle-Breeches.
“Well, don’t take any chances. Cut away to your room. I can get you
some raw beefsteak for the optic.”
“An oyster is better,” declared Pete, and they scientifically discussed
the various merits of the two.
“If we had Professor Clatter here he’d paint it with some eye dope and
Cap would look all to the merry.” suggested Bill. But the traveling
medicine man was not available, and Cap had to do the best he could.
It was some days before he was decently presentable and North was just
as bad. Of course the faculty must have suspected the reason for the
darkened eyes and bruised faces, but as there was no official report
or complaint, nothing was said of it, and the matter was dropped.
The upper classmen took up the question, and a sort of truce was
patched up between Cap and the bully, but though North professed to be
friendly there was a sullen look in his eyes, and Cap knew he would do
him a bad turn if he got the chance. Mersfeld and North were thicker
than ever, and the Smith boys agreed among themselves to be on their
Meanwhile there was baseball a plenty. Some league games were played,
and a number of minor contests took place. It was drawing close to the
time for the annual Freshman battle on the diamond with Tuckerton, and
this game was always a hotly contested one, and eagerly looked forward
to by the first year students and their friends.
“We stand a better chance to win this time, than ever before,” remarked
Armitage, who was captain of the first year team. “We’ve got Bill to
pitch, and he’s a wonder.”
The Varsity twirler did occupy the box for the Freshmen nine, and no
objection had been raised to this arrangement until nearly time for the
Tuckerton game. Then the nine of that school sent in a formal protest,
objection to Bill on the ground that though a first year lad, he was
not properly a member of the Freshman team, since he was the Varsity
“Well, we’ll just ignore that objection, and if they don’t want to
play with Bill in the box we’ll claim the game by forfeit,” decided
Armitage. The dispute waxed hot and an appeal was taken to the student
body which governed athletics among the members of the school league.
They decided that Bill could pitch.
“Well, he won’t if we fellows have any spunk,” declared Borden, the
“Spunk? How do you mean?” asked Swain, the pitcher.
“I mean that we can put up a game on him so that he can’t pitch against
us, and they’ll have to put in Potter, the substitute. We can knock
_him_ out of the box, but Bill Smith is no easy mark. It means losing
the game for us to bat against Bill.”
“But what can we do?” asked Swain.
“Get Bill out of the way the day before the game.”
“Kidnap him, of course. Spirit him away, and keep him in cold storage
until we win. Are you game?”
“Can it be done?” asked Swain.
“Of course. I’ll arrange it, if you fellows will help.”
“Certainly we will, but how is it to be done?”
“Easy enough. We’ll just meet him in the dark on the road, bundle him
into my auto, and take him to a quiet place where he can’t get away.”
Borden was a rich youth, and had an automobile which he had brought to
school with him.
He went more into detail about his plan, and after realizing that it
would mean losing the game if Bill pitched against them, his teammates
somewhat reluctantly agreed to the scheme. They thought they were
within their rights for they totally disagreed with the finding of the
governing body that Bill was entitled to pitch as a Freshman, even
though he was on the Varsity.
“Suppose they find out we did it, and take the game from us even after
we win?” suggested Cadmus, who was the Tuckerton Freshman catcher.
“They’ll never discover it,” boasted Borden. “They’ll lay it to some of
the Sophs or Juniors at Westfield, and Bill will never recognize us for
we’ll wear masks.”
“All right, we’re with you,” decided his chums. “Now for the details.”
These were soon settled. It was agreed that Bill should be captured the
night before the game, when there would be little chance that he could
be rescued in time to play.
“But how will we get hold of him,” asked Cadmus.
“I’ll send him some sort of a message,” replied Borden. “I’ll write a
note, in a disguised hand, and ask him to call at a certain place in
the village. We’ll be on the lookout and when he goes past that lonely
stretch of woods, on the main road we’ll grab him, run him off in my
car to a place I know of, and leave him there.”
“Suppose some of his brothers or friends come with him?” Swain wanted
“Oh, well, we can get away with Bill before they realize what’s up. You
fellows want everything too easy.”
When, on the night before the game with Tuckerton, Bill Smith received
a note, asking him to call at a certain hotel in the village, there
to talk over baseball matters, the pitcher showed the missive to his
“Looks sort of fishy,” decided Cap.
“What name is signed to it?” inquired Pete.
“Just says ‘Baseball Crank,’” was the reply. “I think it’s a joke.”
“Are you going?” asked Whistle-Breeches.
“Might as well. But I’m going to go easy, and take a look around before
I go inside. Maybe I can turn the tables.”
“Tell you what we’ll do,” broke in Cap.
“We’ll all go with Bill. Then, if there’s any trouble we can help him.
Maybe North or Mersfeld put up this game.”
“That’s right,” agreed Bill. “I’ll be glad if you fellows will come
along, though it may be straight after all.”
So, after obtaining from the proctor permission to go to the village
on condition that they would be back before locking-up time, the
three Smith brothers, and Whistle-Breeches sallied forth. They never
suspected there might be a joke perpetrated on them while on their way,
rather expecting some game in the village, and so proceeded along the
highway in careless ease, singing and joking.
As they reached a lonely stretch of woods, just below getting into the
village, three figures sprang out from the underbrush. Over their faces
were strips of cloth, and at the first sight of the trio our friends
drew back in some alarm, feeling they had met with a gang of highwaymen.
“That’s the one—in the centre!” called a hoarse voice, and a grab was
made for Bill. Before his brothers or Whistle-Breeches could rally to
his aid he was borne off, struggling and kicking against his unknown
“Into the car with him—quick!” was the whispered order, and, ere
the three lads left standing in the road had recovered from their
astonishment, there sounded the chug-chug of an automobile, and Bill
was whisked away.
“Well, wouldn’t that get your goat!” gasped Cap, as he stood looking
at the fast-disappearing red tail lamp of the machine. “They’ve got
“Come on after ’em!” yelled Pete, starting down the highway on a run.
“We’ve got to rescue him!”