The expected members of the new local team arrived before noon that day.
In the afternoon Cameron had them out for practice.
They were, indeed, for the most part, well-known players, seven of them,
at least, being professionals with records. Several were league men who
had been blacklisted for one offense or another. Taken all together,
they were a tough set and just the aggregation to win a game by
bulldozing when other methods failed. They made a team that was certain
to be heartily approved by the local toughs.
These players, the most of them, also stopped at the Mansion House. They
looked Frank’s team over, with no effort to conceal their merriment and
disdain. To them Merry’s players were a lot of stripplings.
“We’ll eat ’em up,” said Big Hickey, the Indianapolis man. “Why, dey
won’t last t’ree innin’s.”
“Sho’ not,” chuckled Wash Johnson, the colored player from the Chicago
Giants. “Dey is a lot o’ college fellers. Nebber seen none o’ dem
college fellers dat could play de game wid professionals. No, sar.”
“They ain’t got-a da nerve,” observed Tony Tonando, the Italian from
Kansas City. “Sometimes they play one-a, two or three-a inning first-a
rate; but they no keep-a it up.”
“Easy frightened, easy frightened,” grunted Wally Weaver, the Indian.
“When they play too well, then jump in and scare them. That’s easy.”
“Look here, you chaps,” said Tunk Moran, who had made a great reputation
on the Springfield, Illinois, team, but had been fired for drinking, “I
happen to know something about Frank Merriwell, and you’re off your
trolley if you think you’re going to win from him by scaring him. If you
beat that chap you’ll have to play baseball, and don’t you forget it.”
The others laughed at this and ridiculed Moran.
“All right,” he growled. “Just you wait until after the game and see if
you don’t agree with me.”
The appearance of Cameron’s team in suits when they left the hotel to
march to the ball ground was the signal for a great demonstration on the
part of the youngsters of Cartersville, who were waiting to escort them.
The cheering brought a number of the Merries to windows to look out, and
they saw their opponents-to-be set off down the street, followed by the
“Behold the gladiators whom we are to meet in the arena!” cried Jack
“They’re a hot bunch of old-stagers,” grunted Browning.
“It will keep us busy to cool them off,” said Frank. “Don’t get the idea
that they are has beens. Half of them could play on fast league teams if
they were not crooked and rebellious. They will go after us savage, with
the idea of taking the sand out of us at the very start.”
“On the other hand,” said Rattleton, “if we get a start on them early in
the game all the hoodlums will be against us and we’ll be in danger of
“I have thought about that,” declared Frank. “I have a plan. Come,
fellows, and we’ll talk it over.”
They gathered in one room, and Merry explained his plan, speaking as
“Rattleton is right in fancying it will not do to get a big lead on
those fellows at an early stage in the game. Of course, we might not be
able to do so, even if we tried; but should the opportunity offer, we
must still refrain from it and take chances on our ability to pull out
toward the end. Cameron has no idea of permitting us to take the game
under any circumstances. If we started off like winners the hoodlums
would be set on us. I’ve had more than one experience with hoodlums.
They can make it hot for any team by crowding down to the base lines,
insulting the players, stoning them and doing a hundred things to rattle
them. I am confident that, as long as the crowd has a belief that the
local team is sure to win it will behave in a fairly decent manner.
Cameron will make an effort to hold the toughs in check. Therefore, we
must resort to the stratagem of keeping close to the enemy all through
the game, with the hope of winning at the very finish by an unexpected
spurt that will take them by surprise. Of course, we may lose in this
manner; but I am confident it is also our only chance of winning.”
“I think you are right, Merry,” agreed Hodge. “If you could fix it with
Cameron so that we may have our last turn at bat, there is a possible
show for us.”
“I’ll do what I can,” assured Merriwell, “although it is possible he
will refuse such a request if I make it. If we can’t get our last turn
at bat we’ll have to do the best we can. But I wish you all to keep in
mind the scheme I have proposed, and play from the start with the idea
of holding them down and keeping close to them, so that we may have a
chance at the finish.”
To this they agreed readily enough.
During the remainder of the day they saw nothing of the strange woman
who had befriended them.
The following morning, directly after breakfast, a stranger appeared at
the Mansion House.
He was a quiet, smooth-faced young man, and he registered as “Warren
Doom betrayed interest at once when he learned there was to be a
baseball game in town that afternoon, and when he was told that the
locals were to meet Frank Merriwell’s team, his interest became genuine
enthusiasm. He was purchasing a cigar at the counter when he received
this bit of information.
“Going to play Merriwell’s team?” he cried. “Well, I struck this place
at the proper moment! I’ve seen Merriwell pitch once, and he’s a wonder.
I’ve always longed to see him again. Your team hasn’t a chance against
“What’s that?” exclaimed the man behind the counter disdainfully. “I
reckon you don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ve got a team right
here in this town that can skin anything outside the two big leagues.
Our players are professionals and crackajacks. This Merriwell bunch
looks like a lot of boys. They’re amateurs, and Cartersville will bury
them up this afternoon.”
“Oh, come, come!” smiled Doom. “It’s plain you are the one who doesn’t
know what he’s talking about. I don’t care how many professionals you
have, Merriwell will defeat you. I’ll bet on it.”
“How much will you bet?” was the hot inquiry.
“Anything from ten dollars to ten thousand.”
“That’s a bluff.”
“Is it? I’ll back it up.”
“Of course it is a bluff,” said another voice, as Carey Cameron, puffing
at a cigarette, came sauntering up. “The cocksure gentleman never saw
ten thousand dollars.”
Doom turned with his freshly lighted cigar in his mouth and his hands in
his pockets, surveying Cameron critically.
“Who are you?” he inquired. “Why are you so sudden to chip into this?”
“I’m the manager of the Cartersville baseball team, and my name is
Cameron. I happened to hear you making a lot of bluff betting talk,
which I am positive you can’t back up.”
“How positive are you?”
“Positive enough to stake ten thousand dollars against a similar sum
that Cartersville will win to-day. Put up—or shut up!”
“I don’t happen to have ten thousand dollars in cash on my person.”
“Of course not!” cried Cameron sneeringly. “Bluffers never are able to
“I believe you have a good bank in town?”
“Yes; the First National.”
“Well, I have with me a certified check for ten thousand dollars, and I
believe the cashier at your bank will recognize it as good. If you are
not running a bluff I’ll step out to the bank with you and deposit my
check in the hands of one of the bank officials, with the understanding
that I am backing Frank Merriwell and you are to put up a similar sum to
back your own team. Now you put up—or shut up!”
Cameron was somewhat surprised, but he recovered quickly, still
confident that Doom was still bluffing.
“Come on!” he almost shouted. “Come out to the bank! I can raise ten
thousand dollars if your old check is good. I’ll do it, too! It will be
like finding a small fortune.”
The man from Chicago was ready to go.
“But wait a moment,” said the manager of the local team. “I want to tell
you something. I hate to be fooled, and it makes me very disagreeable.
In case I accompany you to the bank and find this is what I believe it
to be—a bluff—you’ll be very sorry. I warn you that you’ll leave
Cartersville in such a condition that you’ll require medical attention
for some time to come.”
“Come on, man,” said Doom, with curling lips. “You are wasting your
breath. You’ll find I am in earnest, although I fancy you are the one
who will squeal.”
Together they left the hotel and started for the bank.
The man who had sold Doom a cigar and overheard this conversation ran
out after them and told what had happened to a number of loiterers who
were in front of the hotel. Immediately these loiterers hustled away
after Cameron and Doom, greatly excited over what they had heard.
“Ten thousand dollars!” exclaimed one. “Cameron will make a fortune off
this first game!”
“I don’t believe it!” declared another. “Nobody is fool enough to bet
Cameron ten thousand dollars.”
“The man is joking,” was the opinion expressed by a third.
“Then it will be a mighty poor joke for him when Carey Cameron is done
with him,” said the first.
Outside the bank they lingered and waited. Cameron and Doom were inside
a full quarter hour, but finally they appeared. Immediately the crowd
besieged the manager of the local team to know if such a bet had really
“Sure thing,” nodded Cameron, with a smile of confidence. “This
gentleman had a certified check that was good, and I covered it. There
is a wager of ten thousand dollars on the result of the game to-day.”
The report spread like wildfire. In less than an hour, it seemed, every
man, woman, and child over six years of age in Cartersville knew of the
amazing wager that had been made. The report was wired to surrounding
towns and carried into the country in various ways.
By midday people from out of town began to appear in Cartersville. At
first they straggled in, but as the time passed they came faster and
thicker. They came from the country in conveyances of all sorts, while
the 12.48 P.M. train brought at least a hundred. The streets took on a
surprising appearance of life. Men gathered in groups and discussed the
wonderful bet that had been made. Some were skeptical and pronounced it
an advertising dodge on the part of Cameron. Others there were who knew
the stakeholder, or knew those who did know him, and they protested that
the wager was on the level.
At any rate, never had so much excitement over a game of baseball been
aroused in such a brief time in the whole State of Iowa.
A later train brought a still larger number of visitors, and the influx
from the country continued up to the hour for the game to begin.
No sooner were the gates opened at the ball ground than the great crowd
waiting outside made a push to get in and secure seats. It required the
united efforts of a number of local officers, who had been summoned by
Cameron for that purpose, to hold the eager people back.
In the meantime Merriwell and his friends had learned of the wager. At
first all were inclined to laugh over it, thinking, like many others,
that it was an advertising scheme. After a while, however, they began to
have reasons to believe there was something of truth in the report.
“By Jove!” cried Morgan. “We’ll be playing for a fortune this afternoon,
“If such a bet has actually been made,” said Rattleton, “we won’t have
any show to win.”
“Wh-wh-why not?” demanded Gamp.
“Don’t you fancy for a moment that Carey Cameron is the sort to lose
that amount of money. He’ll fix it somehow so he can win.”
“Dost hear the croaker?” inquired Jack Ready. “Rattles, you have a very
“See if I’m not right!” exclaimed Harry. “Cameron is no fool.”
“I am certain that he depends mainly on the skill of his players,” said
Frank. “He cannot believe it possible that a lot of amateurs stand a
show of downing those professionals. There will be nothing crooked as
long as it appears to him that his players have the best chance to take
the game. We must fool them, fellows.”
“We’ll do our best, Frank,” was the assurance they gave him.
Never had there been such a wonderful outpouring to witness a baseball
game in all that region. When Frank and his players entered the
inclosure they found the stand packed, the bleachers black with people,
and a great gathering held back by ropes stretched on both sides of the
field. Besides that, the officers employed by Cameron were kept busy
chasing spectators out of the outfield.
Not only did it seem that all Cartersville was there, but more than a
like number of people had come in from outside the town.
The Merries were received with a hearty cheer. They hurried to their
bench, lost no time in laying out their bats, pulling off their
sweaters, adjusting gloves and preparing for practice. At a word from
Frank they trotted briskly onto the field, and practice began.
Merry warmed up with Stretcher as catcher, while Hodge and Starbright
batted to the men practicing on the diamond and in the field.
Frank was slow and deliberate in warming up. He did not use speed, but
limbered his arm gradually. Toward the last he threw two or three fairly
swift ones and let it go at that.
The players, however, went at it in earnest from the very start, and
both infield and outfield work was of a snappy and sensational order.
At a quarter to three the local players, with Cameron leading them,
appeared. Instantly there was a great uproar from the toughs of the town
who had been supporting Cameron. They rose up and yelled like a lot of
Indians. Not only that, but they insisted that every one else should
yell and threatened those who did not.
“Them’s our boys!” they cried. “Cheer, you duffers—cheer!”
If any one declined to cheer he suddenly found himself beaten over the
head by two or three of the toughs, who insisted that he must “open up,”
and this came near causing a general riot.
Not for at least five minutes after the arrival of the Cartersville team
did the commotion cease. Even then there were symptoms of anger and
resentment in a number of places amid the crowd, and it seemed as if a
spark might fire the powder and bring about an explosion.
Frank called his players from the field, and the home team went out for
Merry found an opportunity to speak with Cameron, but the local manager
insisted on his privilege of choosing innings, declining to toss a coin
“All right,” smiled Frank. “Take your choice.”
Imagine his surprise when Cameron said:
“We’ll go to bat first.”
“Suit yourself,” nodded Frank, with pretended disappointment.
Cameron had played into his hands without knowing it.
The practice of the locals was soon over.
Then big Dick Starbright was accepted as the umpire. The time for the
game to begin had arrived. Merriwell gave the signal, and his players
ran out onto the field, scattering to their different positions.
Frank entered the pitcher’s box.
“Play ball!” cried Starbright.
At this point, to the astonishment of Frank, the mysterious veiled woman
darted onto the diamond and grasped his arm with her gloved hand.
“Win this game, Frank Merriwell!” she urged huskily. “My fortune—yes, my
life—depends upon it!”
“I assure you, Miss Blake, that I shall do my best to win,” said
Merriwell wonderingly; “but I can’t understand what you mean by the
statement that your fortune and your life depend upon it.”
“I am backing you.”
“Why, I thought——”
“You know about the bet of ten thousand dollars on the result of this
“Of course. A gentleman from Chicago, by the name of Doom, made that
wager with Cameron.”
“Doom is my agent,” declared the woman.
“It is true. He wagered my money. It is all I have in the world. I also
happen to know that ten thousand dollars is practically all Carey
Cameron possesses. If I win he will be ruined. I must win.”
Frank was both perplexed and annoyed.
“I ask your pardon in advance for speaking plainly,” he said, “but I
must tell you that I think you very foolish to take such a risk. You
know all the chances are against us. If we win we must do so by
strategy. I cannot understand why you should make such a venture.”
“I hate Carey Cameron!” she hissed. “I wish to ruin him—to strip him of
his last dollar! He married my sister and treated her in the most brutal
and inhuman manner until he forced her to give him all of her fortune,
which he squandered in dissipation and gambling. After that he used her
in the most inhuman manner, making her a prisoner in her own house. Her
baby he starved and abused until the poor thing died. In the end my
sister’s mind gave way, and he placed her in a madhouse.
“Why shouldn’t I hate him? Now you understand my reasons! I have sworn
to ruin him, and for that purpose I am living here in Cartersville. He
does not know me. He never saw my face, but I bear a strong resemblance
to my sister as she looked when he married her, and I fear he might
detect the resemblance should he behold me unveiled. For that reason I
keep my face hidden constantly.
“You know my secret, Frank Merriwell. You are the first to whom I have
revealed it since coming here. I hope to strike a blow at him to-day. If
I fail—if you lose the game—my money will be gone, and I shall have no
means of keeping up the struggle. What will there be for me then? I
might as well be dead!”
At last Frank understood her secret, but that did not relieve him of his
vexation on account of her folly, as he considered it. He saw that she
was extremely impulsive. She had accepted this crude method of seeking
revenge on Cameron, without sufficiently considering the danger that the
result might be disastrous to herself; but now, as the struggle was
about to begin, a full realization of the peril made her tremble and
There was no rectifying her folly. The only way to save her was to win
“Play ball! play ball!” howled the rough element of the crowed. “Put her
off the field!”
“Merriwell has a mash!” shouted a man.
“Do your goo-gooing after the game,” advised another.
“Miss Blake,” said Frank earnestly, “you may rely on me to do my best;
but I warn you in advance that the chances are strongly in favor of
“I have confidence in you,” she declared. “That is why I made that
wager. I have had confidence in you from the moment when I first set
eyes on you. Something tells me you are the sort of a man who triumphs.
You will win—you must!”
“It would be a great misfortune for me to lose,” confessed Frank; “but
you will be forced to bear uncertainty until the very end of the game,
as we dare not take the lead too soon.”
Once more declaring her confidence in him, and seeming not to mind the
cries of the crowd, she retired from the diamond and the game began.
Following was the line-up of each team:
Grady, cf. Ready, 3d b.
Moran, ss. Morgan, ss.
Johnson, 1st b. Badger, lf.
Madison, rf. Hodge, c.
Tonando, 3d b. Merriwell, p.
Gibson, lf. Gamp, cf.
Hickey, 2d b. Browning, 1st b.
Collins, c. Rattleton, 2d b.
Weaver, p. Dunnerwurst, rf.
A yell of delight went up from the crowd as Grady met the first ball
pitched and drove out a scorching single.
“We’re off! we’re off!” whooped Gibson, as he capered down to the
coaching line back of first. “Keep it going, Moran!”
Moran responded by bunting and attempting to “beat it out.”
On the bunt Grady reached second, but Frank got the ball and threw Moran
out at first.
“All right, chillun!” grinned Johnson, the colored player, as he ran out
to hit. “Why, we’s gwine to make a hundred right heah.”
Frank gave him a swift inshoot.
“G’way dar, ma-a-an!” shouted Johnson. “Yo’ll sho’ hurt yo’ wing if yo’
tries to keep dat speed up.”
“One ball,” announced Starbright.
“Dat’s right, Mistah Umpiah,” commented the negro. “Make him git ’em
ober de pan. If he do, I’s gwine to slam it right ober de fence.”
The next one was too far out.
“Come on, ma-a-an,” urged Johnson. “Yo’ll nebber fool dis chicken dat
Merry tried a high ball, using lots of speed.
The batter hit it fairly and laced it on a line far into the field.
“Yah! yah! yah!” he whooped, as he scooted for first. “Dat pitcher was
made fo’ me.”
Sitting on the bench, Carey Cameron saw Grady come home on the hit,
while Johnson reached third base.
“This is going to be too easy,” said Cameron, to one of the substitutes.
“It won’t do to run the score up too high and not give those poor dubs a
show, for it will disgust the crowd and hurt baseball here for the rest
of the season. I’ll have to hold the boys down the moment they get the
game well in hand.”
The crowd began to ridicule Frank.
“Is that the great pitcher we’ve heard about?”
“He’s a fake!”
“That’s not the genuine Frank Merriwell!”
“Take him out!”
“Knock him out of the box!”
“Put him in the stable!”
Mat Madison was the next batter. The big bruiser made an insulting
remark to Frank as he took his position at the plate.
“You’ll be a puddin’ for me,” he declared.
Instantly Merry resolved to strike Madison out. He gave Hodge a signal
which Bart understood.
Frank began with the double shoot. Madison fancied the first ball
pitched was just what he wanted and slashed at it with all his strength.
“Strike one!” cried Starbright.
“Accident,” said Madison. “I’ll hit the next one I go after.”
Merry reversed the curve, and Madison missed again, much to his
wonderment and disgust.
“Give me another just like that,” he urged.
“Here it is,” said Merry, and he actually pitched another of the same
sort as the last.
“You’re out!” declared Starbright, as the bruiser missed the third time.
Madison was astounded and infuriated.
“Wait till my turn comes again!” he snarled, as he flung the bat down.
“Get-a ready to score, you black-a rascal,” cried Tonando to Johnson, as
he danced out to the plate.
“I’s waitin’, ma-a-an,” retorted Johnson, dancing off third and back
again. “Just yo’ git any kind of a hit an’ see me cleave de air.”
Tonando let one pass and then met the next, getting a safe single on a
fast grounder that Rattleton failed to touch.
“Just as e-e-easy, chillun!” laughed Johnson, as he came home. “Why, dis
is a cinch!”
The crowd now redoubled its ridicule of Merriwell.
Gibson prepared to hit, being overconfident. To his surprise, he missed
twice. Then he put up an easy infield fly and was out, which retired the
Cartersville had made two runs in the first inning, and every man on the
team felt that they might have obtained many more with ease.
Without letting them secure too many runs, Merry had placed them in a
frame of mind that would enable him to deceive them for a while, at
least, before they awoke to their mistake.
The first three batters for the visitors fanned the air, seeming utterly
bewildered by the curves and speed of Weaver, the Indian pitcher.
“Oh, you’re pretty stickers!” derided a small boy. “You won’t git a hit
In the second inning neither team scored, although it seemed more by
bungling good fortune than anything else that the Merries held their
The fact was that Cameron had warned his players not to get too long a
lead. He was perfectly at his ease, fully believing his team quite
outclassed the visitors and could win the game by heavy batting in a
single inning, if necessary.
In this manner the game slipped along with neither side making further
runs until the sixth inning.
In the last of the sixth the visitors sprang a surprise on Cameron’s
men. Morgan led off with a hit, Badger sacrificed him to second. Hodge
sacrificed him to third, and Frank brought him home with a slashing
That made the spectators sit up and take notice.
It also aroused Carey Cameron, causing him to realize the possible
danger that the amateurs might make a spurt when such a thing was least
expected. He was relieved when Weaver struck Gamp out.
“We must have some more runs, boys,” said Cameron, as his players
gathered about him. “Jump right in now and make them. Not too many, but
enough to have the game safely in hand.”
They responded by getting a single score, and it seemed that pure
accident prevented the piling up of several more.
In the last of the seventh the Merries did not make a run, Weaver
seeming to have them at his mercy.
Again in the eighth, although Cartersville got two men onto the sacks,
no scores were made on either side.
The ninth inning opened with the score three to one in favor of the
“That’s really lead enough,” said Cameron; “but one or two more runs
will not spoil the game. I want you to make two scores, boys. You have a
fine opening, for Moran starts it.”
“I’ll agree to get a hit,” said Moran, “if they’ll just help me circle
He was positive he could get a hit then, but some of his conceit
evaporated when he fanned twice and was fooled both times.
There had not been much complaint against Starbright’s work as umpire,
for Cartersville was holding the lead and fancied that lead could be
increased any time. Just now Moran was unable to kick, as he was
swinging at the balls.
Apparently Merriwell put the next ball just where the batter wanted it.
But again Moran missed, greatly to his dismay.
“Oh, you’re a mark!” sneered Madison. “Wait till I git at him! I ain’t
got no hits to-day, but I’ve been waitin’ for this chance.”
Johnson was in position to strike.
“Look out fo’ me, ma-a-an,” he grinned. “Dis time I puts it ober de
fence. Allus does it once in a game.”
He tried hard—too hard, in fact. Like Moran, he fell an easy victim to
Frank was now pitching in his best form, having thrown off all attempt
Madison swore he would get a hit. He realized that his reputation as a
heavy batter had suffered that day.
The crowd yelled and hooted at Frank, seeking to rattle him, but his
face was perfectly grave and he seemed deaf to the uproar. In the stand
he saw a veiled woman, who sat silent and rigid, her gloved hands
clasped. He knew she was watching him, her heart heavy with despair, for
it seemed that the locals had won.
At the beginning of the game Merry had resolved not to let Madison get a
hit. Now, as the fellow came up for the last time, Frank pitched with
bewildering speed, his curves being sharp and baffling.
Although every ball pitched was a strike, Starbright had confidence in
Merry and declared two, at which the batter did not offer, to be
Then Merry wound up with his surprising slow ball, which seemed to hang
in the air, and Madison struck too soon.
“You’re out!” cried Starbright.
“Well, it’s all right, fellows,” laughed Cameron. “You have to hold them
down, that’s all. It’s easy for Weaver. The game is ours.”
Frank spoke to his players in low tones as they gathered around him at
“We must go after it now,” he said. “There must be no tie. We must win
it in this inning—or lose it. You’re the first batter, Bart.”
Hodge was grim and determined as he walked to the plate. He let the
first ball pass, but hit the second and lined it out.
Hickey made a jump to one side, struck out his glove and caught the
ball. It was a handsome catch of what had looked like a safe two-bagger.
Bart’s head dropped a moment as he turned back toward the bench, but it
came up at once, and he spoke to Frank, making himself heard above the
uproar, for the crowd was yelling like madmen:
“You can do it just the same, Frank. That was a case of horseshoes.”
Merry did not try for a long hit. One run would do no good. He attempted
to place a safe single, and drove a liner into an opening in right
Gamp followed, but the hopes of the visitors sank when Joe fanned out in
the most dismal manner.
The only chance now seemed for Browning to make a long, safe hit, and
the big fellow tried for it. Instead of hitting as he expected, he sent
a slow one rolling toward Moran.
Never in all his life did Bruce cover ground as he did then. Those who
fancied him to be a huge, heavy, lazy fellow now saw him fairly fly over
the ground, and he reached first a good stride ahead of the ball.
“Safe!” declared Starbright.
Sitting on the bench, Hodge groaned as he saw Rattleton, pale and
unsteady, step out to strike.
“It’s all off!” Bart muttered. “Harry can’t hit that pitching!”
Weaver flashed over a speedy one.
Harry did not move.
“One strike!” declared Starbright, his honesty compelling him to declare
Weaver sent in another one.
Bart Hodge leaped into the air with a yell of astonishment and joy.
It was the hit of Rattleton’s whole career in baseball. Clean over the
most distant portion of centre-field fence sailed the ball, disappearing
A second yell escaped Bart’s lips, and he began “throwing cartwheels,”
while Merriwell, Browning, and Rattleton capered round the bases and
The spectators seemed dazed.
No one, however, was more dazed than Carey Cameron. He did not move from
Their experience with the sporting element of Cartersville had been so
unpleasant that Frank and his friends had no desire to remain longer in
the town. Greatly to their surprise they were not molested in any way by
the friends of Carey Cameron, who seemed to have received a knockout
blow, and the Merries left the town by the first train for the East.
Their objective point was Ashport, where a gentleman by the name of
Robert Ashley had offered a magnificent trophy to be contested for by
all legitimate amateurs who wished to enter a cross-country running
contest. It was not that Frank, or any of his team, intended to enter
the contest that had influenced Merry to take in Ashport on his journey
to the East, but he had heard much about the man who was promoting the
event, and what he had heard had been favorable.
Ashley was an Englishman, and shortly after graduating from Oxford he
had found himself, at the death of his father, left with but a small
portion of the fortune he had been led to believe he should inherit.
Quickly realizing that the income of this reduced fortune would not
support him in the style he desired, he put aside family and caste
prejudice against “trade” and formed an unfortunate business alliance
with a shrewd rascal, who quickly succeeded by crooked methods in
robbing him of what he had left, and then threw him over to face the
By the sale of personal effects, Ashley raised something like three
hundred pounds, and with this in his pocket he bade farewell to England
and turned his face toward America.
There is no need to recount his career in this country, but let it
suffice to say that, after many hardships and severe struggles, he
“struck it rich” in Colorado. For him “the mining game” was a successful
one, and within five years after fortune turned, he retired from the
struggle, many times a millionaire. His success in the face of
disappointment and hard luck he attributed to his persistence,
endurance, and staying power; and many a time he averred that these
qualities—to some extent hereditary—had been cultivated, developed, and
brought to perfection by such school-day and college sports as
cross-country running and hare and hounds.
Ashley had conceived a great admiration and love for the country in
which he had retrieved his fallen fortunes. After a visit to his former
home in the old country, he returned to the United States and finally
settled near Ashport, on the Ohio River. Whether or not he was attracted
by the name of the town it is impossible to say; but there he found
precisely the sort of country he admired and his fortune permitted him
to purchase a large estate.
He soon became actively concerned in many charitable works and he took a
great interest in all sorts of healthy outdoor sports, participating in
such as were adapted to his years and encouraging those in which he
could not longer indulge. He founded the Ashport Amateur Athletic
Association, which, although located in the country, was within easy
range of many thriving towns and two large and prosperous cities; and,
in the two years of its existence, it had made such rapid advancement in
membership and achievement that it was regarded as one of the leading
organizations of the sort in the country.
Among the members of the club were several former college men of note in
athletics, not the least of whom was Carl Prince, who became known as
the “Georgetown Wonder” when he had twice broken the American college
record in the quarter-mile run.
Other ex-college men who had accomplished things on the track and the
cinder path and later joined Ashport were Clifford Clyde, of Yale, and
Hugh Sheldon, Michigan’s remarkable hurdler and steeplechaser.
Mr. Ashley had a theory that distance running was neglected in America,
and he sought to arouse interest in it. For this purpose he had offered
a prize to be contested for at Ashport on a certain date, by any and all
legitimate amateurs of America who wished to enter the cross-country
The sporting columns of the newspapers had thoroughly advertised the
coming event, and had commented much on the beauty and costliness of the
trophy. Having seen these articles in the papers, Frank Merriwell
planned to reach Ashport on the trip East with his athletic team in time
to witness the contest.
It happened, however, that Paul Proctor, the president of the Ashport A.
A., a Harvard grad, knew Merry well and took pains to extend him an
invitation to participate in the contest.
Although Frank had not given any thought to a participation in the
events, he had gladly accepted Proctor’s invitation, and on the day of
the tryouts he watched them from the observatory of the clubhouse which
was located at the shoulder of an oval mile track that had been
constructed for all sorts of foot races. From this observatory could be
obtained a clear and complete view of the track and grounds of the
Ashport Athletic Association.
Back of the clubhouse and to the east lay Ashport, a thriving,
up-to-date village. The river swept in a horseshoe-like curve to the
south. To the north was the estate of Robert Ashley, comprising hundreds
of acres of green fields, broad meadows, hills, valleys, and wild
woodland. On one of the hillsides, surrounded by splendid old trees,
stood Ash Hall. In order to build a home to suit himself, Mr. Ashley had
razed a house that formerly stood on the same spot.
“Who is the pacemaker?” asked Merry, as he watched the runners through a
pair of field glasses.
“That is Carl Prince, of Batavia,” answered Paul Proctor.
“Not Prince, the Georgetown Wonder?”
“The same fellow. He’s just as fast to-day as he was at college, when he
became known as the Georgetown Wonder.”
“He was a great quarter-miler,” nodded Frank, having lowered the glasses
for a moment; “but I don’t recall that he ever made a reputation as a
“Not at college,” admitted Proctor. “He didn’t go in for long-distance
work then. He has since becoming a member of the Ashport A. A.”
“I am inclined to fancy he has not changed his methods to any great
extent, and you know long-distance work is much different from sprinting
and dashes. True it is running, but runners are divided into three
classes—the sprinters, the middle-distance men, and the long-distance or
cross-country men. Those adapted for the second class named, or who have
won records or events in that class, find it more easy to become
cross-country men than do those of the first class.”
“What makes you think Prince has not changed his methods?”
“His stride, his carriage, and his tenseness. Sprinters are under strain
from start to finish in a race, and their muscles are taut. They are
liable to tie up in long runs. They forget to relax, and their muscles
become overstrained. When a man ties up in a long run he’s liable not to
finish at all. He finds himself run out at a time and point when he
should be at his very best.”
“Hollingsworth has considerable confidence in Prince.”
“Who is Hollingsworth?”
“Our trainer. He’s an Englishman, and he knows his business. He was
formerly the champion of the Middlesex Cross Country Club, in England.
We were lucky to get hold of him here.”
“Long-distance and cross-country running seems to be a fad with your
“Naturally,” smiled the president of the club. “Mr. Robert Ashley, who
founded the club, gave us our field and track and built this handsome
clubhouse for us, is a crank on that sort of sport. In his day, he was
the greatest cross-country and hare-and-hounds man in Oxford.”
“He is an Englishman?”
“Yes. That is, he was. He’s a naturalized American now. Made a fortune
in mining and settled here. That splendid house you can see on the hill
yonder is where he lives. It is modeled after the old English country
mansion, and he calls it Ash Hall. Mr. Ashley claims that cross-country
running is the finest sport in the world to develop staying power and
endurance in a young man, and he says staying power is what the modern
young man needs to make him successful in business. He thinks there are
too many sprinters in business, who make a hot dash for a while, but are
unable to keep up the pace until successful.”
Frank smiled and nodded.
“It is my opinion that Mr. Ashley is a man of wisdom and generosity,” he
said. “The runners are coming down the straight course to the stand. We
can get a better view of them now.”
He again lifted the glasses to his eyes, an example followed by several
As the runners came nearer, Frank lowered the glasses and watched them
with the naked eye.
“Yes,” he murmured, “I’m afraid Prince will tie up in a long run. He is
inclined to carry his chin a bit too high.”
“We are placing a great deal of reliance in him,” said Proctor, as if a
bit vexed by Merry’s criticism. “Hollingsworth has chosen him as a
leader to work out the bunch.”
“Who is that second fellow—the one with the mop of light hair?”
“That’s Tom Bramwell.”
“His form is better than that of Prince; but he hasn’t the range, and
I’m afraid he’s a bit too heavy.”
“Oh, Bramwell never did anything brilliant in his life. Nobody counts on
“He’s just the man who’s liable to surprise everybody in a match of this
sort. There is a pretty runner to the left of him—the slender little
“That’s Clifford Clyde, a Yale man.”
“No; he was suspended in his sophomore year and never tried to get
“He runs easy, but lifts his feet just a little too high. The man behind
him is the best runner in the lot, if he didn’t have one bad fault.”
“That’s Hugh Sheldon, the University of Michigan hurdler. What’s the
“The way he carries his arms. He swings them across his body, and thus
fails to get the proper lift of a direct forward swing. There is lost
motion in that swing.”
“There seems to be something the matter with them all,” muttered
Proctor, with a disappointed air.
“It is seldom you see a runner without faults,” smiled Frank. “And some
mighty good men have bad habits in running. Many wonderfully good
English long-distance runners have the fault of swinging their arms
across their bodies, yet, for all of this, they generally defeat
Americans in cross-country running and in other things which demand
“That’s what Mr. Ashley says, except he has made no mention of the bad
arm action of the English. If Americans run in better form, why don’t
they defeat the English?”
“Because they have not the stamina—the stay. They have not been properly
“Oh, do you believe in a rigid form of training for all men?”
“Not at all. I have arrived at a point in life when I firmly believe the
old saw: ‘What’s one man’s meat is another man’s poison.’ You can’t put
a bunch of men in training and force them all to conform to set and
rigid rules with the best result. Above everything else, a runner must
have some love for his work and a great ambition to excel. Then he
should study himself and find out just the sort of work that agrees with
him in training. He should not shirk. He should take all he can stand
without injury. He should consult with his trainer, and the trainer must
have discernment and sense enough not to underwork or overwork that man.
It requires a trainer of mighty keen discernment to determine just what
is best for a bunch of five or six men with different natures, different
habits, and varying ability. It’s likely you have done well in engaging
an English trainer, as the English excel in this style of running. How
often has he sent the men cross country?”
“Only twice thus far. He says he can get the best out of them by working
them on the track where he can watch them. He’s a good runner himself,
but in going cross country he cannot watch all the men, you know.”
Merriwell looked mildly surprised, opened his mouth to speak, then
closed his lips and remained silent.
Hodge also betrayed surprise, but maintained the silent demeanor that
had made him non-conspicuous since entering the observatory.
Proctor was too shrewd not to note Frank’s action.
“What were you thinking of saying, Merriwell?” he asked.
“Oh, not much,” answered Frank.
The runners had now turned the shoulder near the clubhouse, and all
leaned over the rail to watch them as they passed the long, low
bathhouse, which was also the residence of the track master.
After a moment, Proctor said:
“I wish you would tell me what you started to say a bit ago, Merriwell.”
“I don’t think I had better.”
“It’s not the thing for me to come here and criticise the methods of
“You may do so privately to me.”
Still Frank was disinclined, seeking to divert Proctor from this inquiry
by calling his attention to the fact that Bramwell had a beautiful
stride and no lost motion.
“If he had more range,” said Merry, “he would be the man of that lot to
“It’s strange Hollingsworth doesn’t think so—or, at least, hasn’t said
anything about it,” said Proctor.
“Perhaps Hollingsworth understands Bramwell’s disposition and doesn’t
wish the fellow to get too good an opinion of himself. You know that
spoils a runner occasionally.”
Proctor slipped over close to Frank. The two men were now at the western
side of the observatory, still watching the runners and talking in low
tones. Hodge leaned on the southern rail and seemed absorbed in thought.
“What were you going to say about Hollingsworth’s methods a short time
ago, Merriwell?” persisted the president of the club.
“It is now three days before the great match?”
“Already contestants are coming in. If you will take the pains to look
yonder and watch the woods on the side of that hill away there, using
the glass, you will soon see three runners emerge and descend the hill.
They are some of the men who are going to compete, and they are getting
practical cross-country work.”
Proctor seized the glass and leveled it as directed. After fifteen or
twenty seconds, he muttered:
“You’re right! There comes one of them—yes, and there is another! Now I
can see all three of them. How in the world did you discover them?”
“Oh, I often look around. I surveyed the country, with the aid of that
glass, when we first came up here. There are two more chaps hidden in
that valley yonder, while still a third, a solitary fellow, is skirting
the bend of the river down yonder. It’s likely I have not seen all the
men who are out getting practical cross-country work to-day, for we know
that at least a dozen are stopping in Ashport.”
“Well, here are your men hammering round a fine, smooth track. Why, they
should have quit track running long ago. For the past two weeks they
should have run cross country at least five times a week, directed by
the trainer. One day out of every six in the last two weeks could have
been given to work here on the track, where Hollingsworth would be able
to watch the men and note their peculiarities and progress. Has Mr.
Ashley taken special note of Hollingsworth’s methods?”
“No; but he has confidence in Hollingsworth.”
“Well, I’m not infallible,” laughed Frank. “I’m only giving my ideas;
but I have received those ideas from experience and from the suggestion
of men of experience. I don’t wish to set myself up as authority,
Proctor, for I——”
“You might,” interrupted Proctor quickly. “You are recognized in this
country as authority on most amateur sports.”
“But I have never tried for a record in cross-country running.”
“Why don’t you try in this contest? The champions of the United States
will take part. Look at these entries: Harvey Neil, New York Athletic
Club; Philip Pope, Bay State A. A., Boston; Arthur Huntley, Bison A. A.,
Buffalo; Farwell Lyons, of the Chicago Clippers, and many others, among
whom are several college grads and ex-collegians of note. It would be a
great thing for us to have Frank Merriwell in the contest. Come on, old
man! The course has been laid off and will be announced to-morrow.
You’re in time to go over it with the men before the race.”
“But, my dear fellow,” smiled Merry, “you seem to forget that I ought to
put in two or three weeks of consistent training for such a contest if I
meant to enter.”
Unheard and unobserved, a red-faced chap in a sweater had mounted the
steps to the observatory. He had a Scotch cap pushed back on his head,
and he paused with his hands on his hips, surveying Merriwell’s back
with a look of disapproval, while he listened to the words of Frank and
“But I have heard it claimed that you keep yourself constantly in
training, and you are now finishing a tour with your own athletic team.
If you remain here and do not enter, it will be fancied that you were
afraid. People will ask why you were present and failed to compete for
the splendid Ashley trophy.”
“There is another reason why I should not enter,” said Merry. “That
trophy ought to be won by a member of this club. If I did enter, I’d go
after it in earnest as it is my rule never to do a thing unless I do my
“But, according to your criticism, Carl Prince has no chance of winning,
our men are being coached wrong, and all of them have faults. We have no
real chance of winning, it seems.”
“You appear to forget what I have said about Bramwell.”
“Even he lacks the range, you have said.”
“But I think he has the courage and endurance. It is endurance and heart
that count in a contest of this sort, providing the runner has had
something like correct training. You pressed me for my idea of your
trainer’s methods, and what I said was spoken in confidence. I have no
desire to injure Hollingsworth, who may be sincere and a very good
The chap in the sweater smiled disdainfully, continuing to listen, an
expression of mingled anger and craft on his unpleasant face.
“Of course if you will not enter that settles it,” said Proctor; “but I
don’t believe Bramwell can defeat Pope, of Boston, or Huntley, of
“How about Neil?”
“He is not the best man from his club.”
“Well, I’d like to see one of your men take that trophy, Proctor. I
don’t want it.”
The fellow in the sweater laughed rather harshly and sarcastically,
causing every one in the observatory to turn quickly and look at him.
“Hollingsworth!” exclaimed Proctor.
“Mr. Merriwell is very generous,” observed the laughing man cuttingly.
“It’s an easy thing for ’im to be generous in such a manner, and no one
will hever suspect ’im of timidness. He can travel on his record. I
think he is hextremely wise in keeping hout of this race.”
It was Hollingsworth, the English trainer, who betrayed his origin
whenever excited in the least by the misuse of the letter “h” in his
speech. In ordinary conversation he seldom did this.
Proctor knew at once that the trainer had overheard some of their talk,
which threw him into confusion.
Merriwell did not seem disturbed. He surveyed Hollingsworth with quiet
Proctor hastened to introduce them.
Hollingsworth did not remove his hands from his hips, but gave a little
jerk of his bullet head in acknowledgment of the introduction.
“I knew it was Mr. Merriwell,” he said. “No one helse would think of
being so hextremely generous.”
These words were meant to be very cutting.
“Besides,” continued the Englishman, as Frank did not speak at once, “no
one helse is so wonderfully wise.”
Bart Hodge was frowning blackly. He had taken an instant dislike to
Hollingsworth. He afterward confessed a desire to punch the fellow on
Proctor sought to mediate and pour oil on the waters.
“Mr. Merriwell was speaking in strict confidence to me,” he declared.
“He did not intend that any one should overhear.”
“And,” said Frank, “I had no thought that any one would come up behind
us with such pantherish steps that we could not know he was listening to
conversation not intended for his ears.”
The red face of Hollingsworth took on a deeper tinge.
“I ’ave seen these gents who go round offering secret criticisms!” he
exclaimed warmly. “They think to do more ’arm that way than by speaking
hout with courage; but hoften it is the case that they hinjure no one,
as they seldom know what they are talking habout.”
This was meant as another deep thrust at Merry.
“You’ll get what’s coming to you if you keep it up!” thought Hodge. “If
Merry doesn’t deliver the goods, I will!”
Frank knew Bart would smart under such conditions, and he gave the
quick-tempered fellow a glance of warning.
Merriwell was the guest of the Ashport A. A., and he wished no encounter
with the trainer.
“I have not the least desire to say anything to injure you, Mr.
Hollingsworth,” he declared calmly. “On the contrary, I am inclined to
give you Englishmen all the credit you deserve in long-distance and
cross-country work, and that is a great deal, for you stand at the
This seemed to quiet the trainer a little, although it did not wholly
“But you have no call to come here and discuss me with the president of
the club,” he asserted. “I know my business, sir. If you don’t think so,
look into the records of Overby and Hare, of the Middlesex Cross Country
Club, England. I trained both of those men.”
“I know about them. Hare could not defeat Orton, the American, at the
steeplechase in your own country. Orton won the championship of England.
Already he held the championship of America, and later, at Paris, he
became champion of the world.”
Hollingsworth flushed again.
“Horton was an accident!” he cried. “You never produced a man like ’im
before, and you never will hagain!”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” returned Frank, with slightly uplifted
eyebrows. “We’re just getting into such work in earnest over here. You
have been training men for it a long, long time. Generation after
generation of long-distance men have followed each other at your
colleges. We’re beginning to press you hard. Twenty or thirty years from
now you’ll find yourselves following in our lead.”
“Never!” snapped the Englishman. “You Hamericans are conceited, that’s
what’s the matter with you! Heven in this race I wouldn’t be surprised
to see an Englishman take the trophy.”
“But you have no English runner in this club who is formidable.”
“Then it seems you do not expect one of your own runners to win.”
“I ’ope one of them will,” said Hollingsworth hastily. “I ’ave done my
best, but a man can’t make champions hout of poor material.”
“Occasionally he can,” denied Frank.
“Oh, I suppose you might, you ’ave a way of haccomplishing such wonders!
Better get hup your courage and henter. I don’t think it would be so
’ard for one or two of our members to defeat you.”
“You tempt me—really you do,” smiled Merriwell.
“You ’aven’t the nerve.”
“’Ardly. If you did, as sure as my name is ’Erbert ’Ollingsworth, I’d
wager you wouldn’t finish better than third.”
“Just to show you I can finish second, at least,” Frank laughed, “I may
reconsider my determination and enter for the run. In fact, I think I
“I ’ope you don’t back hout,” sneered Hollingsworth; “but, considering
who is hentered already, I fear you will.”
Frank had settled his mind.
“Put your fears at rest,” he advised.
“Well, if you get shown up after being so critical,” said the
Englishman, “I shall not shed tears. Mr. Proctor, I wish to see you
after training is over. Will you wait for me here, or come over to the
“I’ll see you downstairs, Hollingsworth.”
The Englishman nodded to Proctor and the two gentlemen at the west side
of the observatory, who had listened to the talk, but had offered to
take no part in it, descended the steps, disappearing from view.
“I give you my word, Frank,” said Hodge hotly, “that I’d rather punch
that fellow than any man I’ve encountered in a whole year! I simply
ached to hit him, but, of course, I wouldn’t pick up a quarrel with him
“I hope you refrain from picking a quarrel with him anywhere as long as
we remain in Ashport.”
“But he was so confounded insolent!”
“Which is the manner of some Englishmen of a certain grade. They
entertain a contempt for Americans and are unable to conceal it. The
better class, like Mr. Ashley, for instance, have come to understand and
“You seem to be a rather broad-minded young man,” said one of the
gentlemen. “I observed that you held yourself in perfect restraint
throughout that talk with Hollingsworth just now.”
“Too much restraint is as bad as none,” muttered Hodge.
“That depends on what you consider too much,” said Frank, who had caught
“I tell you,” said Proctor, speaking to Merry and Bart, “I’m inclined to
believe Hollingsworth has not worked our men out properly. He’ll have to
give them some cross-country work now.”
“But it’s pretty late,” reminded Merriwell. “They must not be
overworked. There is danger of overworking them at this stage. Don’t let
him push them until they go stale on the eve of the contest.”
“If one of our men does not win,” said Paul, “I hope you get that
“Thank you. I have decided to try for it, but I still think it should go
to a member of this club. Who is the Englishman entered, and where is he
from? Hollingsworth said he’d not be a bit surprised to see an
Englishman walk off with the trophy.”
“He must have been thinking of Arthur Huntley, of Buffalo.”
“Is he English?”
“I believe so. I think, though, he is now a naturalized American.”
“We’ll have to take a little interest in Huntley, Bart,” said Frank. “I
wish to know why Hollingsworth fancies he may win the trophy.”
“Simply because the fellow is an Englishman,” said Hodge.
But Merry shook his head.
“Hollingsworth is not a fool, and he knows there will be other good
cross-country men in the race. No doubt he sympathizes with Huntley, but
Huntley must be unusual in order to lead this man to believe he will
At this moment one of the gentlemen called attention to a carriage that
was approaching the clubhouse. Immediately Proctor announced that Mr.
Ashley was one of the two gentlemen in the carriage.
“He is bringing the trophy!” cried the president of the club, in great
eagerness. “He stated he would show it here this afternoon. Come down,
gentlemen—come down and see it!”
They descended from the observatory and went down to the parlor, where
they found Mr. Ashley had already arrived, the carriage being outside
The gentleman who accompanied Mr. Ashley carried in his hand a leather
bag, which seemed quite heavy.
“That bag contains the trophy, I think,” said Frank to Bart, as Proctor
hastened to speak to Ashley.
The founder of the club was a man of slender, wiry build, an Englishman
of the higher grade, who had not acquired that ponderous solemnity most
Americans expect to see in Britishers of middle age and of his standing.
In many respects he was more like an American than a typical Englishman.
His hair and mustache contained a liberal sprinkling of gray. He was
plainly dressed in brown.
Mr. Ashley had been expected, and there was a large gathering of members
in the parlor. He greeted them in a pleasant manner, yet without
“Put the bag on the table in the centre of the room, Mr. Graham,” he
said, and his companion did as directed.
Herbert Hollingsworth entered and hurried to Mr. Ashley.
“The men have just finished work for the day,” he said. “They are in the
bathhouse. It will be thirty or forty minutes before they can be here.”
“We will wait until they can come before showing the trophy,” said
Ashley. “How are our boys showing up?”
“Splendidly, sir. Prince and Clyde are in the pink of condition.”
“That is good. How about Sheldon and Bramwell?”
“Oh, they will be pretty sure to make a good showing, especially
Sheldon. Bramwell is persistent.”
Proctor gave Frank and Bart a nod, upon which they approached and were
introduced to Mr. Ashley, who shook hands warmly with both of them.
“Mr. Merriwell,” he said, “I am particularly glad to meet you. Are you
going to enter?”
“Well,” smiled Frank, giving Hollingsworth a glance, “I have been
persuaded to do so, although I did not contemplate it when I came here.”
“I persuaded him, sir,” the trainer hastened to declare. “To me it
seemed an opportune time to demonstrate that Mr. Merriwell is not the
only one in his class.”
Ashley was quick to catch something amiss in the manner of
“This contest has been advertised as open for all registered amateurs in
this country,” he said, at once. “Every one is welcome to compete, and
may the best man win.”