The gloved hands of the woman quivered as she restored the whip to the
driver. She did not look back, although an expression of disappointment
came from her hidden lips.

“Lucky for him he moved lively,” said Frank, as she sank down at his

“Some evil charm protects him!” breathed the mysterious woman. “I did
not wish to kill him—then. I hoped to drive over him and maim him!”

“It is plain that you have no liking for the man.”

“Like him? I loathe and detest the sight of his wicked face, his
treacherous eyes and his cruel mouth! When I behold him something in my
heart struggles and burns until it is only by the utmost restraint that
I keep myself from flying at him.”

“He has done you a great wrong?”

“Yes, me and one dearest to me in all the world.”

“He knows you, and that is why you keep yourself veiled?”

“He has never seen my face.”

By the time the driver had quieted and restrained the frightened horse,
and Merry looked back. He saw at a distance his companions making all
haste in that direction, and he knew Cameron had not interfered with
them, which gave him a feeling of relief.

“The boys are coming,” he said. “I thought that man might try to stop

The woman directed the driver to pull the horse down to a walk, which he
succeeded in doing.

“I do not wish to seem inquisitive,” said Merry; “but it is no more than
natural that I should be greatly interested in Carey Cameron after what
has happened.”

“Quite natural,” admitted the woman. “He is a gambler.”

“I thought it by his appearance.”

“He has traveled much, making his living by gambling. His former home
was here, and he returned here a few months ago. As a boy he was a
baseball enthusiast, and that explains his wonderful interest in the
game. When he came back here he sided with the vicious element, and I
believe he has been appointed manager of the team they mean to put in
the place of the one organized by Gaddis. I do not know much about it,
but I have learned that they believe this team will be able to defeat
anything in these parts. He has secured a number of players blacklisted
in the big leagues. Cameron will run the team to make money for

“How can he make money out of baseball in a town like this?”

“He will gamble on the games.”

“But if he has a team that is far superior to any team it meets he’ll
find no one to bet on the other teams.”

“When that happens he will bet on the other teams himself.”

“You mean——”

“That I know his treacherous nature. He will betray his friends. He’ll
not wager money openly on an opposing team. It is likely he will openly
bet small sums on his own team. His supposed-to-be friends will do the
betting. Some agent of Cameron will bet Cameron’s money, and you may be
sure that his team will lose that game.”

“In short, he will double-cross his friends, and that is the worst form
of treachery.”

“That man is capable of anything, Mr. Merriwell! To carry out his ends
he would commit murder!”

“He’ll reach the end of his rope some day.”

“I trust that day is not far in the future!”

By this time they had reached the outskirts of the town. The road led up
a low hill, near the crest of which, set back amid some trees, could be
seen a rather gloomy-looking house. This house the mysterious woman
indicated with a slight gesture, explaining that they were bound

“It is your home?” questioned Merry.

“For the time being it serves me as home,” she replied. “I have occupied
it two months.”

“You do not belong in this town?”

“No; before coming here two months ago I had never seen the place. I
shall be happy when I leave it to return no more.”

“You do not like Cartersville?”

“I detest the place! It is run by hoodlums and ruffians. There are some
respectable people here, but the vicious element predominates, and
respectable people are afraid to stand up for their rights.”

“A fine place in which to play baseball!” laughed Merry.

“No worse place in Iowa.”

“Perhaps it is just as well that we are not going to play here.”

“You are better off.”

The boys were not far behind when they reached the gate and turned into
the grounds surrounding the gloomy house amid the trees. The house was
shuttered, and many of the shutters were closed.

At the front step Merry sprang from the carriage and assisted his
strange companion to alight.

As the others of his party came up Frank said:

“Fellows, although this lady has been kind enough to offer us the
shelter of her house, I fear we are intruding in a certain way. I am
sure we are putting her to great inconvenience, and I wish to——”

“Mr. Merriwell,” interrupted the veiled woman, “I have tried to make it
plain that you are not placing me at any inconvenience. I will add that
my circumstances are such that the sum you may pay me for the
accommodation of yourself and friends will be very acceptable. Oh! I’m
going to take pay! You may give whatever sum you choose; I am satisfied
that it will be satisfactory. I think this should put you more at your

“To a certain extent it does,” admitted Merry.

“Then come in.”

The woman turned toward the door, which opened at once. As Merry
followed her he saw the door had been opened by a singularly
grave-looking Chinaman.

“John,” said the mysterious woman, “these are my guests.”

“Velly well, miss,” nodded the Celestial.

“They will remain as long as they choose and are to have the best the
house affords while here.”

“Velly well, miss.”

“Take them upstairs and let them select their own rooms.”

“Velly well, miss.”

Then, turning to Frank, the woman said:

“Dinner will be served in an hour. I think you will be ready by that

“Yah,” muttered Hans. “I vos readiness alretty soon.”

“If you wish to send to the station for anything in the way of baggage I
will call a man to attend to that.”

“There is nothing at the station that we shall need to-night,” said
Frank. “We had better leave our stuff there. We have everything
necessary for present wants in our hand bags.”

“Show them up, John.”

“Velly well, miss.”

They followed the Chinaman of the solemn and respectful manner and the
limited vocabulary.


“Well, this is not half bad,” grunted Browning, as he stretched himself
on one of the double beds which had delighted his eyes. “It’s a lot
better than camping outdoors overnight.”

“Thou speakest truly, weary knight,” said Ready. “The prospect of a
supperless bed on the greensward was not at all cheerful to me, and the
lady with the somber drop curtain over her radiant features came to our
rescue at the proper time.”

“This is the experience of a lifetime,” put in Morgan. “I’m wondering
over it yet. Can you shed any light on the subject, Frank?”

Merry told them what he had learned while in the carriage with the
mysterious woman.

“Well,” smiled Starbright, as he finished, “we can thank our stars that
she has no use for Mr. Carey Cameron. Evidently she has offered us this
hospitality because we seem to be the special objects of Mr. Cameron’s

“She did come plenty near hiking over Cameron when he tried to hold her
up,” said Badger. “It sure was a close call for that gent. Way he acted
after that, I thought he was going to pull a gun and try to pot you

“And then I th-th-thought he was going to cuc-cuc-come at us,” observed

“It was lucky for him that he decided to let us alone,” declared Hodge.

“Yah!” cried Hans. “You bet my life he vos luckiness!”

“This whole affair is most peculiar from start to finish,” said Dade
Morgan. “It has many mysterious features, and not the least mysterious
is this strange young woman who keeps her face hidden by a heavy veil
and who lives here in this gloomy house. Who is she? and what is she?”

“I scarcely think you will find any one in Cartersville who can answer
those questions,” said Frank. “It is not for us to be too inquisitive
while accepting her hospitality.”

“In one sense, we are not exactly accepting hospitality,” asserted
Stretcher. “What we receive we’re going to pay for.”

“It is hospitality none the less.”

“I dud-dud-don’t believe she tut-tut-took us in because she needs the
mum-mum-money,” declared Gamp.

“That was a bluff,” nodded Hodge.

“She made that assertion,” said Frank, “in order that we might accept
her kindness with greater freedom. It was very good of her to attempt to
make us feel more at home and less like intruders by giving us a chance
to pay for what we shall obtain.”

“Vainly I speculate upon her looks,” murmured Ready. “I wonder be she
dark or be she light?”

“Young or old?” came from Badger.

“Plain or pretty?” put in Rattleton.

“Sus-she’s a bub-blonde,” declared Gamp positively.

“Nix; she vos a prunette,” said Hans, just as positively.

“She’s about thirty-five years old,” guessed Starbright.

“Not a day over twenty,” asserted Morgan.

“I’ll guarantee she’s as homely as a hitching post,” grunted Browning.

“I would like to make a wager that she is exceptionally good-looking,”
said Stretcher.

“All this speculation about her leads to nothing,” interrupted Frank.
“Besides that, as long as we are beneath this roof too much curiosity
concerning her is a matter of poor taste. It’s up to us to accept what
she has provided, pay for it liberally, and be very grateful for her
kindness. That she is a person of courage she has demonstrated by
defying the ruffianly element of the town, which has the entire place
subjugated and trembling beneath a reign of terror. I admire her nerve,
and I am ready to render her assistance or give her protection if
occasion arises.”

“You are mit me in dot!” exclaimed Dunnerwurst. “I vill stood by her vid
my last drop uf gore. How apoudt you, Choe? Speech up und declaration

“I gug-gug-guess she can depend on the whole of us to bub-bub-back her,”
said Gamp.

“We’re still in the land of the hostiles,” reminded Jack Ready. “His
nibs, Mattie Madison, must still be smarting a trifle over what happened
to him when he endeavored to lay violent hands on our leader, and it is
probable that he will seek retaliation.”

“Besides that,” smiled Badger, “Carey Cameron must be some sore because
he failed to hold Merry up and the lady whipped the horse in an attempt
to run him down. I have a notion we’ll hear further from him. That’s

Darkness came on slowly. The rooms were supplied with oil lamps, which
the boys lighted. They prepared for dinner, and at the expiration of an
hour after they entered the house a set of chimes in the lower hall
summoned them.

They filed down and were conducted to the dining room by the same solemn
Chinaman who had admitted them to the house.

The dining room was almost severe in its plainness, but a long table was
tastefully spread and decorated, being lighted by lamps and candles.
They began to find seats around it before they discovered there were
only eleven chairs.

“It’s all right,” said Merry, in a low tone. “It’s plain we’re not to
enjoy the society of our hostess during this meal.”

When they were seated two women in black, with white aprons, appeared
and served soup.

At first the boys were somewhat oppressed by the situation, but Merry
soon started things up with a jest and they began to enjoy themselves.

“Although we met a warm reception in this town,” said Frank, “it was not
much worse than the reception given Ready the first time he visited
Niagara Falls. When Jack stepped off the trolley he found several
carriages waiting for passengers. He capered over to one of them and
asked the man to drive him to the falls. The man said he would be
pleased to drive him there, but he didn’t have a harness that would fit

“That man was a trifle nearsighted,” declared Jack, good-naturedly
taking the laugh this had aroused. “He failed to note my marvelous
beauty, and he thought he could get gay with me. He lost as much as
fifty small coins of the realm by that joke.”

“You should remember, Jack,” said Rattleton, “that beauty is only din
skeep—er, that is skin deep.”

“But I’m very thick-skinned,” retorted Ready promptly. “Tra-la-la!”

“Vale, in Puffalo,” said Dunnerwurst, “I vos consulted.”

“Insulted, Hans,” corrected Morgan.

“Shoot yourseluf apoudt der bronunciation,” gurgled Hans. “Dese vos der
vay in vich id habbened. A street car vos riding on me ven a chent who
vos intoxicated came apoard. A numper uf laties peen on dot car, und I
thought id vos a shame. I rose me up und caldt to der corn doctor. Says
I to dot corn doctor: ‘Do you bermit intoxicationed men to ride der cars
ondo?’ ‘Yah,’ saidt der corn doctor. ‘Sid down und shut up und nopody
vill know you vos drunk.’ Dot made a seddlement by me, und don’d you
vorget him.”

“Did you notice that terrible thing about the epidemic in Chicago?”
asked Frank seriously.

“The epidemic? What epidemic?” asked Rattleton instantly.

“Why, the whole city is sick. I saw it in the newspaper this morning.
The first words I read in the paper were: ‘Chicago, Ill.’”

Somebody groaned. It was Browning, who had dropped his fork and seemed
about to collapse.

“That makes me ill myself!” he gasped huskily. “I never thought it of
you, Merry! You are rapidly descending to the level of such buffoons as
Ready and his kind.”

“I admit it was a bad one,” smiled Frank, “and I promise not to do it

In this manner they caused the meal to pass off merrily, and an
excellent meal it proved to be. All were hungry, but when the dessert
was over even Dunnerwurst confessed that he was more than satisfied.

As they were leaving the dining room Frank was about to ask for the
hostess, when she appeared. Merry again protested that they feared they
were causing her great inconvenience.

“Not at all,” she declared. “I shall not be home to-night, and I decided
to caution you before leaving the house. At the top of the stairs and at
the rear there is a room with a black door. Although you have perfect
liberty in the rest of the house, I wish it understood that you are to
keep away from that room with the black door.”

“You may depend on it that we’ll not go near the room,” pledged Merry

“And should you hear strange sounds in the night there will be no cause
for alarm. Pay no attention to anything you may hear. That is all. I
shall return before you leave in the morning.”

She then bade them good night in a pleasant manner, and, being dressed
for the street and still heavily veiled, left at once.

“More mystery!” grunted Browning, as they were once more gathered in the
big room upstairs.

“A room with a bub-bub-bub-black door!” exploded Gamp.

“Und stranch noises may hear us in der nighdt!” cried Dunnerwurst.
“Poys, you vos indo a haunted house!”

“La! la!” said Jack Ready easily. “I am ne’er disturbed by departed
spirits. They alarm me not.”

“Why did she go out to-night?” questioned Hodge.

“It is my idea,” laughed Frank, “that we will occupy about all the beds
in the house. Quite likely she went out to find a place to sleep. I feel
guilty over it, but she insisted that we were putting her to no

“And prevaricated like a lady,” said Ready.

“There isn’t a bub-bub-bit of danger that I’ll go poking round on the
top floor looking for a room with a bub-bub-black door,” declared Gamp.

“I’m afraid I’ll not sleep very well to-night,” acknowledged Rattleton.

“I vos anodder,” confessed Hans. “Vrankie, vos ghosts afraidt uf you?”

“Not that I know of,” answered Merry.

“Vale, in der room vich you haf selectioned dere vos a couch, as vell as
a ped.”


“Couldt you bermit dot couch to sleep on me?”

“You want to sleep on the couch in that room?”


“All right; I’m willing.”

“But don’t you dare to snore,” warned Hodge. “I’m going to sleep with
Frank, and I can’t sleep when I hear any one snoring.”

“I vill nod dood id,” promised the Dutchman. “I vill nod snore so loudt
as a visper.”

“All right,” nodded Bart; “the couch for you.”

“If we escape from this town with our lives I’ll be thankful,” said

“Lo, and behold! you are exceedingly timid,” mocked Ready.

They soon fell to joking and laughing, after their usual manner, and, in
spite of the mystery which seemed to hover near, the evening passed

Some time in the night Frank was awakened by something that caused him
to lift his head from the pillow and listen.

At first he could not make out what it was, but after a while he decided
that it was some person singing somewhere in the house. Finally the
singing became somewhat more distinct, and he decided that it was the
voice of a woman. The song, as best he could determine, was a lullaby,
such as a mother might croon above the crib of her sleeping babe. It was
strangely pathetic and gave Frank a peculiar sensation of sadness. To
him it seemed as if the person who sang that song had met with a
terrible affliction and was thus softly pouring forth the grief of a
broken heart.

Merry thought of the warning of the mysterious veiled woman and how she
had cautioned them to pay no attention to anything they might hear.
Still he could not resist the impulse to slip softly from the bed, steal
to the door, open it and listen.

The singing seemed to come from the upper part of the house. A moment
after he opened the door it stopped, and, although he remained there for
fully ten minutes, he heard it no more.

Hodge was sleeping soundly, and Dunnerwurst breathing heavily, on the
verge of snoring, when Merry crept back into bed.

It was some time after that before Merriwell again closed his eyes in
sleep. He longed to investigate the mystery, but the promise made to the
veiled woman restrained him. He was inclined to fancy he had not slept
at all when he was once more awakened.

Something soft and cold, almost clammy, was touching his cheek gently
with a patting motion.

In a twinkling he was wide awake, but he did not stir.

He felt a presence near him and knew some one or something was bending
over the bed!

A chill ran over him.

The touch on his cheek was like the cold hand of a dead person!

Then he heard a voice—that of a woman—which softly murmured:

“Sleep, my baby—sleep! Mother is near!”

Fear passed from Frank in a twinkling, and he stirred, making a grab at
the hand that had touched him.

Quick as he was, he was not quick enough, although he barely missed as
the hand was snatched away.

Springing up, he saw a shadowy figure in white gliding toward the door.

At that moment Dunnerwurst awoke and beheld the figure as it flitted
past the couch.

Uttering a squawk of terror, the Dutchman rolled off the couch with a

Hodge leaped from the bed and grappled with Frank as Merry came round
the foot in pursuit of the mysterious visitor. Before he could realize
his mistake Hans had clutched them both round the legs, chattering:

“Safe me from der ghost! Safe me! safe me!”

Frank broke away, but the visitor was gone. Merry rushed out of the
room, but he was too late.

This racket had aroused the others, and they came flocking from their
rooms, demanding the cause of the trouble.

“Hans had a bad case of nightmare, I think,” said Merry.

They found the Dutchman with his head under the couch, whither he had
attempted to crawl. Bart struck a light and Merry pulled Dunnerwurst

“Vos der ghost gone alretty yet?” asked Hans, his teeth chattering.

“There was no ghost,” assured Frank.

“Don’d you toldt me so!” palpitated the frightened fellow. “Der ghost
seen me mit my own eyes! Yah!”

“Nonsense,” said Merriwell. “I tell you there was no ghost.”

“Vot vos id dot seen me all in vite?” demanded Hans.

“That was either Bart or myself. If you’re going to kick up such a
disturbance you’ll have to sleep somewhere else.”

It proved no simple matter to convince the Dutchman that he had not seen
a ghost. The boys ridiculed him until he relapsed into sulky silence,
and finally all went back to bed.

“What was it, Merry?” asked Bart, when they were once more in bed.
“Wasn’t there some person in this room?”

“Sh!” cautioned Frank. “Don’t let Hans hear you. Some one was here.”

“I thought so. What happened?”

Merriwell told of hearing the singing and again falling asleep, to be
finally aroused by the touch of an ice-cold hand and to hear the voice
of a woman who seemed to fancy she was speaking to a sleeping babe.

“I take no stock in spooks,” said Hodge; “but I’ll be rather pleased
when we get out of this ranch.”

“On the contrary,” averred Merry, “if it were not a breach of
hospitality I’d like to remain here for the purpose of solving the

Ten minutes later he was sound asleep, and he slept soundly until


The boys were finishing their breakfast when John, the Chinaman,
appeared and stated that there was a gentleman at the door who wished to
speak with Frank.

Frank left the table and went to the door, Hodge following him, in case
there should be trouble.

Carey Cameron was waiting on the step.

“That heathen is decidedly inhospitable,” laughed Cameron pleasantly,
removing a cigarette from his lips and holding it between a discolored
thumb and forefinger. “He left me standing out here, like a huckster.
But I understand that visitors—with the exception of yourselves—are not
welcome in this house.”

Merriwell waited for the man to announce why he had called.

“I presume you’re surprised to see me here at this early hour,” said the
man. “Oh, I’m alone! There’s no trickery about it. You need not be

“You quite mistake my feelings,” assured Merry.

“I have a proposition to make to you.”

“Have you?”

“I fancy you think it nervy of me, but I’m willing to explain and
apologize. You may have learned of the baseball mix-up in Cartersville.”

“I have heard something about it.”

“Well, perhaps you know that I am manager of the new Cartersville
baseball team. Gaddis and his bunch of stiffs have been put out of
business. He has taken to the woods. Two of his best men have signed
with me. The others are in retirement.”

Merriwell wondered what the man was driving at.

“My team will be complete to-day and every man on hand ready for
business. I had arranged to open the season to-morrow with Bloomfield.
Received a message late last evening that Bloomfield would not appear.
The duffers! They are afraid to come.”

“If what I have heard about past methods of conducting baseball here is
true,” said Merry, “I don’t wonder that Bloomfield canceled.”

“Oh, somebody has been giving you a lot of hot air. You can’t believe
all you hear. It is possible the rooters have been rather rough on
visiting teams in the past, but I’m going to cut that out.”

“Are you?”

“Sure thing.”

“It’s a good idea,” said Hodge sarcastically.

“There’ll be no need of winning games in future by intimidating
visitors,” said Cameron. “When you learn the line-up of my team you’ll
agree that I have the players. Among them I have Johnson, the great
colored player, formerly of the Chicago Giants. Then there is Moran,
from Springfield; Hickey, of Indianapolis; Tonando, with the Kansas City
team last season; and Weaver, the great Indian fielder. The others are
just as good. I have a team that can defeat anything on the turf in the
middle West, and when we get into trim we’ll be able to make some of the
big leaguers hustle. I’m going to give Cartersville and southern Iowa
such baseball as was never before seen in these parts.”

“How does this interest me?” inquired Frank.

“I’m coming to that. I presume you’re rather hot over your treatment in
this town.”

“You presume correctly.”

“Well, I don’t blame you; but you see Gaddis was given fair notice to
quit, and he persisted in holding on. He had no business to make a
contract with you. At that time he had been told to get out and warned
that he would not be able to play after a certain date. He had an idea
that the law would support him, and he attempted to fight me and the
majority of baseball people in town. We had to make it good and hot for
him. We began by driving visiting teams out of the place without giving
them a chance to play. We thought Gaddis would throw up the sponge when
he found he couldn’t get teams here. At last we were compelled to get
after Gaddis himself, and yesterday he tumbled and skipped.”

“All this explaining does not justify you in the least.”

“Perhaps not; but there you are. I’m ready to apologize, if that suits
you better.”

“Even an apology can’t square it,” asserted Hodge.

“I’m very sorry,” declared Cameron. “I’ve told the boys that you are to
be treated with the utmost courtesy during the rest of your stay in

“Which will be very brief,” said Frank. “We shall leave on the ten A.M.
train to-day.”

“I hope not. I am here to offer you inducements to play with my team
to-morrow. It will be the opening game, and I know we’ll turn out a mob
of people.”

“When it comes to nerve,” said Bart, “that is just about the full

“If you’ll play,” Cameron went on, “I’ll give you a fixed sum, or I’ll
pay you two-thirds the net gate receipts, win or lose. Besides that I’ll
put you up at the Mansion House, and the best Cartersville affords shall
be yours. Can you ask for anything fairer?”

“It sounds very fine,” laughed Merry; “but what we have seen and heard
has taught us the folly of dealing with you and the class of people you

“Then you refuse?”

“Yes, sir!”

“You’re afraid! That’s what’s the matter! You have made a great
reputation, and you’re afraid of being defeated.”

“That is the very least of my fears, sir. We opened in Los Angeles with
the Chicago Cubs, defeating them two out of three games. I hardly think
we would fear you after that.”

“Oh, I don’t know! If you had lost all three games to the Chicagos it
would have been no disgrace. After your triumphant career this season,
you might feel sore if you dropped a game to a new team here in

“As far as possible,” said Merry, “I seek to deal with gentlemen.”

Cameron flushed the least bit, and a wicked look came to his eyes.

“I don’t fancy the insinuation!” he exclaimed. “I have apologized and
endeavored to set things straight. If you are looking for further

He checked himself, changing his manner in a moment.

“That’s nonsense!” he laughed. “I’m sorry you are afraid. I have heard
of you, Mr. Merriwell. You have a reputation for nerve, but it seems
that you have very little real nerve. You are challenged to play my
team. You dare not play! You know I can defeat you. You’re a squealer!”

“All that sort of talk never drove me into anything I had decided not to
do, and never could,” said Frank.

Then, to his surprise, the mysterious woman, still wearing the heavy
veil, stepped quickly from the house and placed a hand on his arm.

“Accept the challenge, Mr. Merriwell,” exclaimed the lips hidden behind
the veil. “Play him for my sake—and defeat him! You can do it!”

“Do you realize, miss, the manner in which we shall be handicapped? We
are in a strange town, and a place where there is little chance that
we’ll be given a fair show. Even the umpire would be against us.”

“To satisfy you on that point,” cried Cameron, “I’ll permit you to
select your own umpire. How is that? If you have a man with you who can
umpire the game, I’ll accept him. You can’t squeal—if you have the

“Play him!” again urged the mysterious woman. “For my sake!”

“With the understanding that I am to furnish the umpire——” began Merry.

“It’s a go!” cried Cameron, in satisfaction. “With the team I shall put
onto the field, it will be an easy matter to defeat you. There’ll be no
need of anything but straight and legitimate baseball to do that.”

“Very well,” said Merry. “We’ll play you, Mr. Cameron.”

As Cameron departed the strange woman spoke excitedly to Frank.

“You will win!” she declared. “I feel it! I know it! He is confident
there is no need to resort to crooked methods to defeat you. He’ll try
to get bets on the game. I hope he loses heavily. I’ll back you! I have
money. You shall take it and cover his bets.”

“I beg your pardon, miss,” protested Frank, “but I have certain scruples
about betting. I may have made wagers in the past, but I am sure I shall
never again do so, either with my own money or that of another.”

“Let her bet on us, if she wants to,” urged Hodge warmly. “I, too, feel
it in my bones that we’ll take a fall out of Cameron’s great
aggregation. I know every fellow on the team will play as if for his
very life.”

Merry shook his head.

“I can make no exceptions to the rule I have laid down for myself,” he
said. “Even if Cameron is confident of success, and begins a square
game, he may resort to treachery if he becomes alarmed before the
finish. He’ll not intend to lose the opening game with his team. That
would disgust the tough element that is backing him. He would lose
prestige at once.”

Frank was immovable on his point.

The boys were greatly surprised when Merry informed them of the
challenge and acceptance.

“Py Shimminy!” cried Dunnerwurst. “Ve vill gif them der greatest run
their money for that you efer saw. Id vill peen a satisfaction to dood
them up. Yah!”

Frank explained that they were to supply the umpire, which caused no
small amount of satisfaction.

“We are to move to the Mansion House, fellows,” he said. “We’ll impose
on Miss Blake no longer.”

“You have not imposed on me in the least,” assured the hostess. “If you
defeat Cameron, I shall be more than repaid.”

“But we are going to pay you good, cold cash for what we have received.
That was the agreement.”

She began to demur, but Frank insisted that she had made that a part of
the agreement when she took them in, and at last she consented to accept

Having settled by compelling her to take twenty dollars, although she
was unwilling to the very last to accept more than ten, the boys picked
up and started off gayly for the hotel.

“I toldt you vot,” said Hans, as they descended the hill, “I vos glat to
got dot house oudt uf. No matteration vot you say, I vos postiveness I
seen a ghost last nighdt indo. Id scooted me by like a streak of vind,
und id gif me der shiverings all ofer your back. Dot blace been

Although they laughed at him, the Dutchman continued to insist that he
had seen a ghost.

As they marched into town they were observed with curiosity by the
people of the place. A mob of youngsters quickly gathered and followed
them along the street.

At the Mansion House they found Mat Madison and several of his
companions of the previous day standing on the steps. Apparently they
had been waiting for Frank and his team to appear.

Madison leered at Merry.

“Say,” he cried, “you won’t prance with your head so high in the air
after our team gits through with you to-morrow. We’ll take some of the
starch outer you.”

“Great blizzards!” exclaimed Badger. “Does that play on Cameron’s team?”

“You bet,” answered the bruiser. “Cameron signed me for my hittin’.
There ain’t no pitcher in the business that I can’t hit.”

“That should make you tremble, Frank,” laughed Morgan.

None of the young thugs offered to molest Merry or his party as they
entered the hotel.

Cameron was waiting for them in the office.

“Here you are, I see!” he cried. “I was afraid you might back out, after
all, and try to skip out of town.”

“Your fears were quite groundless,” said Merriwell.

“Well, everything is fixed for you here. I told you I’d arrange it.
You’re to have the very best the house affords, and I’ll settle the
bills. I can afford to, considering the trimming we’re going to hand out
to you to-morrow.”

“You seem inclined to count your chickens before they are hatched,” said

“Do you have an idea that you’ll win?”

“Of course.”

“Want to make a little wager?”


“Why not?”

“I never bet.”

“A poor excuse is better than none. Of course, that means you dare not

“It means just what I said—I never bet.”

“Oh, well, if any of your bunch feels like sporting a little I’ll be
open for business up to the time the umpire calls ‘Play!’ It adds
interest to any event to make a little wager on it. I’m not in baseball
for my health. We’re going to pay you the biggest part of the gate
money, and so I’ll have to catch some money somehow. Considering your
record, there ought to be some sports with nerve enough to take a chance
on you.”

Cameron’s manner was offensive, although it was not likely he meant it
to be.

The accommodations at the Mansion House were none too good, and the
place seemed poor enough after the plain comforts of the private house
they had just left. Nevertheless, they were inclined to make the best of
everything, kicking being in disfavor among them.

At the earliest opportunity Merry took occasion to seek information
concerning the mysterious woman who lived on the hill; but he soon
discovered that no one in the place knew much about her, save that she
had appeared some ten weeks before and leased the house for the summer.
The place was furnished, its owner having gone abroad after the death of
his wife. When Miss Blake moved in, no one seemed to know. Shortly after
taking the house she reappeared in Cartersville, and the people of the
town discovered that she as occupying the house, together with a number
of servants, both male and female.

“No one could be found who had ever seen her without her heavy veil. She
had discouraged all efforts at familiarity or friendliness on the part
of the villagers. It appeared to be a matter of wonder that Merriwell
and his friends had been admitted to the house, as they were the only
ones outside the members of her household to cross the threshold since
she took possession. One old woman gossip of the town had made repeated
attempts to get in on one pretext or another, but had been rebuffed each
time. The townspeople were not only piqued and mystified by the woman,
they were not a little offended, and the rougher element had threatened
to tear the veil from her face in order to see what she looked like.”

All this was interesting but unsatisfactory. Merry felt that he would
sincerely regret to leave Cartersville without solving the mystery of
the veiled woman.