AROUND THE WORLD
Pitching on a Grand Tour
By LESTER CHADWICK
"BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS," "BASEBALL JOE IN THE BIG LEAGUE," "THE RIVAL PITCHERS," "THE RIGHT-OARED VICTORS," ETC.
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
BOOKS BY LESTER CHADWICK
THE BASEBALL JOE SERIES 12mo. Cloth. Illustrated
BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS BASEBALL JOE ON THE SCHOOL NINE BASEBALL JOE AT YALE BASEBALL JOE IN THE CENTRAL LEAGUE BASEBALL JOE IN THE BIG LEAGUE BASEBALL JOE ON THE GIANTS BASEBALL JOE IN THE WORLD SERIES BASEBALL JOE AROUND THE WORLD
THE COLLEGE SPORTS SERIES 12 mo. Cloth. Illustrated
THE RIVAL PITCHERS A QUARTERBACK'S PLUCK BATTING TO WIN THE WINNING TOUCHDOWN THE EIGHT-OARED VICTORS
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, New York
Copyright, 1918, by Cupples & Leon Company
Baseball Joe Around the World
Printed in U. S. A.
CHAPTER PAGE I In Deadly Peril 1 II Quick As Lightning 12 III The Stranger's Visit 22 IV The Top Of The Wave 32 V Lucky Joe 40 VI Circling The Globe 49 VII The Gathering Of The Clans 60 VIII The Rival Teams 67 IX The Under Dog 75 X By A Hair 84 XI A Close Call 93 XII A Dastardly Attack 103 XIII Danger Signals 112 XIV A Weird Game 119 XV The Bewildered Umpire 128 XVI Putting Them Over 135 XVII "Man Overboard" 143 XVIII One Strike And Out 150 XIX Braxton Joins The Party 155 XX In Mikado Land 164 XXI Running Amuck 175 XXII Taking A Chance 183 XXIII An Embarrassed Rescuer 191 XXIV The Blow Falls 200 XXV The Cobra In The Room 207 XXVI In The Shadow Of The Pyramids 213 XXVII The Signed Contract 220 XXVIII Whirlwind Pitching 227 XXIX The Ruined Castle 234 XXX Brought To Book—Conclusion 240
BASEBALL JOE AROUND THE WORLD
IN DEADLY PERIL
"Great Scott! Look at this!"
Joe Matson, or "Baseball Joe," as he was better known throughout the country, sprang to his feet and held out a New York paper with headlines which took up a third of the page.
There were three other occupants of the room in the cozy home at Riverside, where Joe had come to rest up after his glorious victory in the last game of the World's Series, and they looked up in surprise and some alarm.
"Land's sakes!" exclaimed his mother, pausing just as she was about to bite off a thread. "You gave me such a start, Joe! What on earth has happened?"
"What's got my little brother so excited?" mocked his pretty sister, Clara.
"Has an earthquake destroyed the Polo Grounds?" drawled Jim Barclay, Joe's special chum and fellow pitcher on the Giant team.
"Not so bad as that," replied Joe, cooling down a bit; "but it's something that will make McRae and the whole Polo Grounds outfit throw a fit if it's true."
Jim snatched the paper from Joe's hands, with the familiarity born of long acquaintance, and as his eyes fell on the headlines he gave a whistle of surprise.
"'Third Major League a Certainty,'" he read. "Gee whiz, Joe! I don't wonder it upset you. That's news for fair."
"Is that all?" pouted Clara, who had been having a very interesting conversation with handsome Jim Barclay, and did not relish being interrupted.
Mrs. Matson also looked relieved and resumed her sewing.
"Is that all?" cried Joe, as he began to pace the floor excitedly. "I tell you, Sis, it's plenty. If it's true, it means the old Brotherhood days all over again. It means a fight to disrupt the National and the American Leagues. It means all sorts of trickery and breaking of contracts. It means distrust and suspicion between the members of the different teams. It means—oh, well, what doesn't it mean? I'd rather lose a thousand dollars than know that the news is true."
"But perhaps it isn't true," suggested Clara, sobered a little by her brother's earnestness. "You can't believe half the things you see in the papers."
"Will it hurt your position with the Giants, Joe?" asked Mrs. Matson, her motherly instincts taking alarm at anything that threatened her idolized son.
Joe stopped beside his mother's chair and patted her head affectionately.
"Not for a long time if at all, Momsey," he replied reassuringly. "My contract with the Giants has two years to run, and it's as good as gold, even if I didn't throw a ball in all that time. It wasn't the money I was thinking about. As a matter of fact, I could squeeze double the money out of McRae, if I were mean enough to take advantage of him. It's the damage that will be done to the game that's bothering me."
"Perhaps it won't be as bad as you think," ventured his mother. "You know the old saying that 'the worst things that befall us are the things that never happen.'"
"That's the way to look at it," broke in Jim heartily. "Let's take a squint at the whole article and see how much fire there is in all this smoke."
"And read it out loud," said Clara. "I'm just as much of a baseball fan as either of you two. And Momsey is, too, after all the World's Series games she's seen played."
It is to be feared that Mrs. Matson's eyes had been so riveted on Joe alone, in that memorable Series when he had pitched his team to victory, that she had not picked up many points about the game in general. But anything that concerned her darling boy concerned her as well, and she let her sewing lie unheeded in her lap as Joe read the story from beginning to end.
"Seems to be straight goods," remarked Jim, as Joe threw the paper aside.
"They've got the money all right," rejoined Joe. "They've got two or three millionaires who are willing to take a chance and put up the coin."
"One of the names seems to be rather familiar," remarked Jim, with a sidewise look at Joe. "Do you remember him?"
"I remember him," replied Joe grimly, "but I'd bet a dollar against a plugged nickel that he remembers me better yet."
"Who is it?" asked Clara with quickened interest.
"Beckworth Fleming," replied Joe.
"Rather a pretty name," remarked Mrs. Matson absently.
"Prettier than he was when Joe got through with him," interposed Jim with a grin.
Mrs. Matson looked up, shocked.
"Oh, I hope Joe didn't hurt him!" she exclaimed.
"Whatever Joe did was for the good of his soul," laughed Jim. "I can't say as much for his body."
"It's all right, Momsey," smiled Joe. "He was insolent to Mabel, and I had to give him a thrashing. But that's neither here nor there. He's the spoiled son of a very rich man, and he's one of the men behind this new league. 'A fool and his money are soon parted,' and he'll probably be wiser when he gets through with this than he is now."
"But why shouldn't they start a new league if they want to?" asked Mrs. Matson. "I should think they had a right to, if they wanted to do it."
"Of course they have a right to," agreed Joe. "This is a free country, and any man has a right to go into any legitimate business if he thinks there's money in it. Neither the National League nor the American League have a mortgage on the game. But the trouble is that there aren't enough good players to go round. All the really good ones have been already gobbled up by the present leagues. If the new league started in with unknown players, it wouldn't take in enough money to pay the batboys. The consequence is that it tries to get the players who are already under contract by making them big offers, and that leads to all sorts of dishonesty. You take a man who is making three thousand a year and offer him six if he'll break his contract, and it's a big temptation."
"They'll be after you, Joe, sure as shooting," remarked Jim. "It would be a big feather in their cap to start off with copping the greatest pitcher in the game. They'd be willing to offer you a fortune to get you. They figure that after that start the other fellows they want will be tumbling over themselves to get aboard."
"Let them come," declared Joe. "I'll send them off with a flea in their ear. They'll find that I'm no contract jumper."
"I'm sure that you'd never do anything mean," said his mother, looking at him fondly.
"There isn't a crooked bone in his head," laughed Clara, making a face at him as he threatened her with his fist.
"The contract is enough," said Joe; "but even if I were a free agent, I wouldn't go with the new league and leave McRae in the hole. I feel that I owe him a lot for the way he has treated me. He took me from a second-string team and gave me a chance to make good on the Giants. He took a chance in offering me a three-year contract in place of one. I'm getting four thousand, five hundred a year, which is a good big sum whatever way you look at it. And you remember how promptly he came across with that thousand dollars for winning twenty games last season."
"We remember that, don't we, Momsey?" said Clara, patting her mother's hand.
"I should say we did," replied Mrs. Matson, while a suspicious moisture came into her eyes. "Will we ever forget the day when we opened that letter from the dear boy, and the thousand-dollar bill fell out on the table? It gave us all the happiest time we have had in all our lives."
Jim, too, mentally blessed that big bill which had brought the Matson family to witness the World's Series games and so had enabled him to meet Joe's charming sister. Perhaps that vivacious young lady read what was passing in his mind, for her eyes suddenly dropped as they met Jim's eloquent ones.
Joe flushed at this reference to his generosity, and Clara was quick to cover her own slight confusion by rallying her brother.
"He's blushing!" she declared.
"I'm not," denied Joe stoutly, getting still redder.
"You are so," averred his sister in mock alarm. "Stop it, Joe, before it gets to your hair. I don't want a red-headed brother."
Joe made a dash at his tormentor, but she eluded him and got into another room.
"Come along, Jim," said Joe, picking up his cap. "Let's warm up a little. We want to keep our salary wings in good condition, and maybe the open air will help to get the bad taste of the new league out of our mouths."
They went into an open lot near by and had a half-hour's practice, pitching to each other at a moderate pace, only now and then unlimbering some of the fast balls that had been wont to stand opposing batters "on their heads" in the exciting games of the season just ended.
"How does the old soup bone feel?" inquired Jim.
"Fine as silk," replied Joe; "I was afraid I might have strained it in that last game. But it feels as strong now as it did at the beginning of the season."
They had supper a little earlier than usual that night, for with the exception of Joe's father, who was busy on a new invention, they were all going to a show that evening at the Riverside Opera House. It promised to be an interesting entertainment, for the names of several popular actors appeared on the program. But what made it especially attractive to Joe and his party was the fact that Nick Altman, the famous pitcher of the "White Sox" of Chicago, was on the bill for a monologue. Although, being in the American League, Joe and Jim had never played against him, they knew him well by reputation and respected him for his ability in their chosen profession.
"As a pitcher he sure is classy," remarked Joe. "They say that fast inshoot of his is a lulu. But that doesn't say that he's any good on the stage."
"He's pulling in the coin all right," replied Jim. "They say that his contract calls for two hundred dollars a week. He won't have to eat snowballs this winter."
"Jim tells me that a vaudeville manager offered you five hundred dollars a week the day after you won the championship for the Giants," said Clara.
"So he did," replied Joe, "but it would have been a shame to take the money."
"Such a shrinking violet," teased his sister.
"I'm sure he would make a very good actor," said his mother, who would have been equally sure that he would make a good president of the United States.
The night was fine, and the town Opera House was crowded to its capacity. There was a buzz and whispering as Joe and his party entered and made their way to their reserved seats near the center of the house, for Riverside regarded the famous pitcher as one of its greatest assets. He had given the quiet little village a fame that it would never have had otherwise. In the words of Sol Cramer, the hotel keeper and village oracle, Joe had "put Riverside on the map."
There were three or four sketches and vaudeville turns before Altman, who, of course, was the chief attraction as far as Joe and his folks were concerned, came on the stage. He had a clever skit in which baseball "gags" and "patter" were the chief ingredients, and as he was a natural humorist his act went "big" in the phrase of the profession. Knowing that Joe lived in Riverside and would probably be in the audience, Altman adroitly introduced his name in one of his anecdotes, and was rewarded by a storm of applause which clearly showed how Joe stood in his home town.
"You own this town, Joe," laughed Jim, who was seated between him and Clara—Jim could be depended on these days never to be farther away from Clara than he could help.
"Yes," mocked Clara. "Any time he runs for poundkeeper he's sure to be elected."
Joe was about to make some laughing retort, when his quick eye caught sight of something that made the flush fade from his face and his heart lose a beat.
From the wing at the left of the stage a tiny wisp of smoke was stealing.
Like lightning, his quick brain sensed the situation. The house was old and would burn like tinder. There were only the two exits—one on each side of the hall. And the place was crowded—and his mother was there—and Clara!
His plan was formed in an instant. He must reach a narrow corridor, by which, out of sight of the audience, he could gain the back of the stage and stamp out whatever it was that was making that smoke.
He rose to slip out, but at that moment a big bulk of a man sitting two seats ahead of him jumped to his feet with a yell.
"Fire! Fire!" he shouted wildly. "The house is on fire!"
QUICK AS LIGHTNING
For one awful instant the crowd sat as though paralyzed.
But in that instant Joe acted.
With one powerful leap he reached the frenzied shouter, his fist shot out, and the man went down as though hit with an axe.
Up the aisle Joe went like a flash, cleared the orchestra rail at a bound, and with one more jump was on the stage.
The audience had risen now and was crowding toward the aisles. Women screamed, some fainted, and all the conditions were ripe for a panic.
Above the hubbub, Joe's voice rang out like a trumpet.
"Keep your seats!" he shouted. "There's no danger. I tell you to keep your seats."
The crowd halted uncertainly, fearfully, and Joe took instant advantage of the hesitation.
"You know me," he cried. "I tell you there's no danger. Haven't you ever smelled cigar smoke before?"
The suggestion was a happy one, and the crowd began to quiet down, regaining their courage at the sight of that indomitable figure on the stage.
Jim had been only two jumps behind Joe in his rush to the front, and while Joe was calming the crowd Jim had rushed into the wing and dragged down some draperies that had caught fire from a gas jet. In a moment he had trampled them underfoot and the danger was over.
The orchestra had seemed to keep its wits better than the rest of the throng, and Joe signaled to the leader to strike up a tune. The next instant the musicians swung into a popular air, and completely reassured, the people settled down into their seats.
And while Joe stands there, exulting in his triumph over the panic, it may be well for the sake of those who have not read the preceding books of this series to sketch something of his life and adventures up to this time.
Joe's first experience in the great game in which he was to become so famous was gained on the diamond of his own home town. He did so well there that he soon became known in the towns around as one of the best players in the county. He had many mishaps and difficulties, and how he overcame them is told in the first volume of the series, entitled, "Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars; Or The Rivals of Riverside."
A little later on, when playing on his school nine, he had obstacles of a different character to surmount. The bully of the school sought to down him, but found that he had made a mistake in picking out his victim. Joe's natural skill and constant practice enabled him to win laurels for himself and his school on the diamond, and prepared him for the larger field that awaited him when later on he went to Yale.
As may be easily understood, with all the competition he had to meet at the great University his chance was long in coming to prove his class in the pitching box. But the homely old saying that "it is hard to keep a squirrel on the ground" was never better exemplified than in his case. There came a time when the Yale "Bulldog" was hard beset by the Princeton "Tiger," and Joe was called on to twist the Tiger's tail. How well he did it and what glory he won for his Alma Mater can be read in the third volume of the series, entitled: "Baseball Joe at Yale; Or, Pitching for the College Championship."
But even at the top notch of his popularity, Joe was restless at college. He was bright and keen in his studies and had no difficulty in standing up well in his classes. But all his instincts told him that he was made for the out-of-door life.
His mother had hoped that Joe would enter the ministry, but Joe, although he had the greatest respect for that profession, did not feel that his life work lay in that direction. He had been so successful in athletic sports and took such pleasure in them that he yielded to his natural bent and decided to adopt professional baseball as his vocation.
His mother was sorely grieved at first, and the more so as she felt that Joe was "stepping down" in entering the professional ranks. But Joe was able to show her that scores of college men were doing the same thing that he planned to do, and she had too good sense to press her opposition too far.
The opening that Joe was looking for came when he was offered a chance to play in the Pittston team of the Central League. It was only a minor league, but all the great players have been developed in that way, and Joe determined to make it a stepping stone to something higher. How he speedily rose to leadership among the twirlers of his league is told in the fourth volume of the series, entitled: "Baseball Joe in the Central League; Or, Making Good as a Professional Pitcher."
While Joe had been winning his spurs, the keen-eyed scouts of the big leagues had not been idle. The St. Louis team of the National League drafted him into their ranks and took him away from the "bushes." Now he felt that he was really on the highway to success. Almost from the start he created a sensation, and it was his pitching that brought his team into the first division.
A still wider field opened up before him when after one year with St. Louis he was bought by the New York Giants. This had been his ambition from the start, but he had scarcely dared to hope that his dream would come true. He promised himself that he would "pitch his head off" to justify the confidence that McRae, the Giants' manager, had put in him. How he came through an exciting season and in the final game won the championship for his team can be seen in the sixth volume of the series, entitled: "Baseball Joe on the Giants; Or, Making Good as a Ball Twirler in the Metropolis."
Of course this brought him into the World's Series, in which that year the Boston Red Sox were the Giants' opponents. It proved to be a whirlwind series, whose result remained in doubt until the last inning of the last game. Joe had fearful odds to contend against since an accident to Hughson, the Giants' standby, put the bulk of the pitching burden on our hero's shoulders. Unscrupulous enemies also sought by foul means to keep him out of the Series, but Joe's indomitable will and magnificent pitching won out against all odds, as told in the volume preceding this, entitled: "Baseball Joe in the World Series; Or, Pitching for the Championship."
If ever a man had earned a rest it was Joe, and, as we have seen, he was taking it now in his home town. Jim Barclay, a fine young Princeton man and second-string pitcher on the Giants, had come with him, not so much, it is to be suspected, because of his fondness for Joe, though that was great, as to be near Clara, Joe's charming sister, who had been working all sorts of havoc with poor Jim's heart.
By the time the orchestra had finished the tune, the panic had about subsided. But Joe was taking no chances and he motioned for a repetition. The leader obeyed, and at the end of this second playing the danger was entirely over. The audience was seated, with the exception of the man whom Joe had knocked down, who slunk shame-facedly out of the hall holding his hand on the place where the blow had landed.
And now that the peril had passed, it was Joe who was panic-stricken. Though brave as a lion and quick as a panther in an emergency, he was the most modest of men and hated to pose as a hero. He was wondering what he should say or do, when Altman solved the problem by coming up to him with both hands extended. That gave the audience its cue, and in a moment a tempest of cheers swept the hall.
"What's the matter with Matson?" someone shouted in a stentorian voice.
"He's all right!" came back in a roar.
"Who's all right?"
"Matson! Joe Matson! Baseball Joe!"
Men crowded forward, and in a moment Joe was surrounded by his friends and fellow townsmen, most of whom had known him when he was in knickerbockers and now were more proud of him than they had ever been, even when he returned to Riverside crowned with the laurels of his last great season. Joe was mauled and pounded until he was almost out of breath, and it was a relief when at last he had made his way back to his mother and sister.
They were both crying openly with joy and pride, and the looks they turned on Joe were a greater reward than all the plaudits of his friends.
There was no going on with the performance after that. The nerves of the audience were too highly keyed by the great peril that had been escaped. And they had a more dramatic scene to remember and talk about than anything that could be given them from the stage.
In the excitement, a great many of those present had lost track of the friends or relatives that had been with them, and from all sides came various calls.
"Where is Frank?"
"Did you see what became of my sister Bessie?"
"Oh, Bill! I say, Bill! Where are you?"
Many of the scenes were most affecting. Women would rush into each other's arms, crying with joy to find that the lost ones were safe.
"I can tell you it's a grand good thing that panic was stopped so quickly," remarked one man to another, as he gazed admiringly at the hero of the occasion.
As Joe and his folks were leaving, a tall, well-dressed man stepped up to Joe and extended his hand.
"Let me congratulate you, Mr. Matson," he said effusively. "That was a splendid thing you did to-night. I never saw anything finer."
"I'm afraid you exaggerate it," deprecated Joe.
"Not at all," said the stranger. "By the way, Mr. Matson, it's a coincidence that I came to town with the express purpose of seeing you on a business matter. But I didn't expect that my first meeting with you would be under such exciting circumstances."
He took a card from his pocket and handed it to Joe.
"My name, as you see, is Westland," he continued. "I'm stopping at the hotel, and I would be glad to see you there or at any place that may be convenient to you some time to-morrow."
"Suppose you call at my home to-morrow morning," said Joe. "It's only about five minutes' walk from the hotel."
"You needn't bother about giving me the directions," said Westland, with an ingratiating smile. "Everybody in Riverside knows where Baseball Joe lives. I'll be around at eleven o'clock."
He lifted his hat and departed, while Joe and the others walked toward home.
"What do you suppose he wants of you, Joe?" asked Clara, with lively curiosity.
"Oh, I don't know," answered her brother carelessly. "Some reporter probably who wants to get the sad story of my life."
"If it is, he'll have something to write about after to-night," put in Jim. "Great Scott! Joe, if that had happened in New York it would be spread all over the front page of to-morrow's papers."
"Oh, Joe, I'm so proud of you," sighed his mother happily.
"You're a brother worth having!" exclaimed Clara warmly.
Jim was on the point of saying that Joe was a brother-in-law worth having, but checked himself in time.
They had almost reached the house when Clara began to laugh.
"What's the joke?" inquired Jim.
But Clara only laughed the harder until they became a little alarmed.
"No, I'm not hysterical," she said, when she could speak. "I only happened to remember what tune it was the orchestra played. I suppose it was the first thing the leader thought of, and he didn't have time to pick out another. Do you remember what it was?"
They cudgeled their brains, but could not recall it.
"What was it?" asked Jim.
"'There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town To-night!'"
THE STRANGER'S VISIT
Promptly the next morning at eleven, Westland put in an appearance at the Matson home. He was carefully groomed and everything about him indicated money. He fairly exuded prosperity.
He greeted Joe with a cordiality that seemed a trifle overdone, considering their brief acquaintance.
"By George, Mr. Matson," he said, "this town has fallen for you all right. The whole place is buzzing with that affair of last night, and I don't wonder. If it hadn't been for you, the coroner and undertaker would be busy this morning."
"Oh, I don't know," responded Joe. "If I hadn't got to it someone else would. It wasn't much of a blaze anyway, and ten to one it would have gone out of itself."
"Modest I see," laughed Westland. "They say that all great men are. But you can't get anyone in this town to take such a slighting view of it as you do yourself."
"You said last night that you had a business matter you wanted to see me about," suggested Joe, in order to change the subject.
"So I have," replied Westland, "and I've traveled over a thousand miles to talk to you personally about it."
He lighted a fresh cigar while Joe waited indifferently. He had been interviewed so much in the last year or two on all conceivable subjects that his curiosity was scarcely awakened.
"Of course, Mr. Matson," began Westland, "you've heard of the new major league that has just been organized and——"
Joe's bored feeling vanished and he was wide-awake in an instant. So this was what the visit meant! Jim's prediction was coming true sooner than he had expected.
"Pardon me, Mr. Westland," he interrupted, "but if this is about baseball, I have a friend visiting me who is as much interested in the game as I am. In fact, he's a player himself. It's Jim Barclay of the Giants. You've heard of him, of course. Hello there, Jim!" he called, as he threw open the door into the adjoining room, where Jim was watching a distracting dimple come and go in Clara's cheek as they chatted together.
"Really, Mr. Matson," said Westland, visibly flustered, "much as I would like to meet Mr. Barclay, I would rather——"
But just then Jim came strolling in, and Joe hastened to introduce him. He had used the stratagem in order to have a witness at hand. He was determined that no false or twisted version of the interview should be given out broadcast in the interest of the new league.
Despite his annoyance, Westland was diplomat enough to make the best of the situation, and he acknowledged the introduction graciously.
"Mr. Westland called in connection with the new league we were reading about yesterday, Jim," explained Joe, "and I knew that you would be interested and so I called you in."
Jim's jaw set a trifle, but he only nodded and Westland went on:
"I'm a business man, Mr. Matson, and so are you. So I won't beat around the bush, but come straight to the point. You're the greatest pitcher in the country, and we want to secure your services for the new league. We've got oceans of money behind us, and we're prepared to let you name your own terms. We'll give you anything in reason—or out of reason for that matter—if you'll sign up with us."
He delivered himself of this with the air of a man sure of having his offer accepted. But if he had expected Joe to gasp with astonishment and delight, he was disappointed.
"Well," said Joe quietly, after a moment's pause, "that's certainly a very liberal proposition——"
"Oh, we're no pikers," put in Westland complacently.
"But there's one little thing in the way," Joe went on; "and that is that I'm already signed up with the Giants for the next two years."
Westland saw that he was in for a tussle and braced himself.
"Of course, of course," he said, with the tolerant smile of a man of the world. "I didn't think for a minute that McRae would let his kingpin run around loose without being signed up. But you know what baseball contracts are. They're so jug handled that no court would uphold them for a minute. In fact, McRae wouldn't dare to bring it into court. He may threaten and bluster, but that will be the end of it. That ten-day clause alone would kill it with any judge."
"Even admitting that I could break my contract with the Giants and get away with it," said Joe, leading him on, "what guarantee would you have that I wouldn't do the same thing with you if I should want to?"
"The guarantee of your own self-interest," replied Westland, flicking the ash from his cigar. "We'd make it so much worth your while to stay with us that there wouldn't be any inducement to go anywhere else."
"In other words," said Joe, with a touch of sarcasm, "if you once bought me you'd rely on your money to see that I'd stay bought."
"Now, now, Mr. Matson," put in Westland deprecatingly, "there's no use putting it in so harsh a way as that. This is simply business I'm talking to you, and in this world every man has got to look out for Number One. Now I don't know how much money McRae pays you, but I make a guess that it's about five thousand a year, a little more or a little less. Now I'll tell you what we're prepared to do. We'll hand you twenty thousand dollars the day you put your signature to a contract with us. Then we'll agree to pay you fifteen thousand dollars a year for a three-years' term. And to make the whole thing copper riveted, we'll put the whole amount in the bank now, subject to your order as you go along. So that even if the new league should break up, you could loaf for three years and be sixty-five thousand dollars to the good."
With the air of one who had played his trump card and felt sure of taking the trick, Westland from out his pocket drew a fountain pen.
"Put up your pen, Mr. Westland," said Joe calmly, "unless you want to write to those who sent you here that there's nothing doing."
Jim brought his fist down on the arm of his chair with a bang.
"That's the stuff, Joe!" he cried jubilantly. "You knocked a home run that time."
A look of blended astonishment and vexation came into Westland's eyes. He seemed to doubt the evidence of his ears.
"Surely you're joking, Mr. Matson," he said. "No man in his senses would turn down such an offer as that."
"I must be out of my senses then," replied Joe, "for that's exactly what I'm doing."
"Perhaps you think we're bluffing," said Westland, "but money talks, and here is where it fairly shouts."
He drew from his pocket a roll of bills of large denominations and laid it on the table.
"There's the signing-up money," he explained. "They wanted me to bring a certified check, but I insisted on the actual cash. Count it if you like and take it to the bank if you doubt that it's good. There's twenty thousand dollars in that roll, and every cent of it's yours if you put your name at the bottom of this contract."
He laid an official-looking document on the table beside the bills, and leaned back in his chair, ostensibly intent on the end of his cigar, but watching Joe keenly from the corner of his eyes.
That pile of crisp yellowbacks was more money than Joe had ever seen at one time in his life, except through the bars of a cashier's cage. And all he had to do was to reach out, sign his name, and the next minute thrust the bills into his pocket. They meant independence. They meant security. They meant the power and comfort and luxury that money can give.
But they also meant treachery and dishonor, and Joe never wavered for an instant.
"It's a lot of money, Mr. Westland," he agreed, "but it isn't enough."
A look of relief came into Westland's eyes. Perhaps his task wasn't hopeless after all.
"If that's the case, perhaps we can raise the figures a little," he said eagerly, "although we thought we were making a very liberal offer. But as I said before, we're no pikers, and we wouldn't let a few thousands stand between us. State your terms."
"You don't understand," replied Joe. "What I meant was that there isn't money enough in your whole crowd to make me go back on my word and jump my contract."
"Hot off the bat!" exclaimed Jim. "Gee, I wish McRae and Robbie and the rest of the Giant bunch could have heard this pow-wow."
Westland evidently had all he could do to contain himself. He had felt so serenely confident in the power of his money that he had scarcely allowed himself to think of failure. Yet here was his money flouted as though it were counterfeit, and he himself, instead of being greeted with open arms, was being treated with scorn and contempt.
"Upon my word, Mr. Matson," he said, with an evident effort to keep cool, "you have a queer way of meeting a legitimate business proposition."
"That's just the trouble," retorted Joe. "It isn't legitimate and you know it. In the first place you're offering me a good deal more than I'm worth."
"Oh, I don't know about that," expostulated Jim loyally. "There's at least one man in the league getting that much, and he never saw the day when he was a better man than you are."
"More than I'm worth," repeated Joe. "Still, if that were all, and you were simply trying to buy my baseball ability, it would be your own affair if you were bidding too high. But you don't want to give me all this money because I'm a good pitcher. It's because you want to make me a good liar. You think that every man has his price and it's only a matter of bidding to find out mine."
"Now, now!" said Westland, spots of color coming into his cheeks.
"And more than that," went on Joe, not heeding the interruption, "you want to make me a tool to lead others to break their contracts, too. I'm to be the bellwether of the flock. You figure that if it's once spread abroad that Matson has jumped into the new league, it will start a stampede of contract breakers. I tell you straight, Westland, it's dirty business. If you want to start a new league, go ahead and do it in a decent way. Get new players and develop them, or get star players whose contracts have expired. Play the game, but do it without marked cards or loaded dice."
Westland saw that he had lost, and he threw diplomacy to the winds.
"Keep your advice till it's asked for!" he snarled, snatching up the money and jamming it viciously into his pocket. "I didn't come to this jay town to be lectured by a hick——"
"What's that?" cried Joe, springing to his feet.
Westland was so startled by the sudden motion that he almost swallowed his cigar. Before Joe's sinewy figure he stepped back and mumbled an apology. Then he reached for his hat, and without another word stalked out of the house, his features convulsed with anger and chagrin.
As he flung himself out of the gate, he almost collided with a messenger boy bringing a telegram to Joe.
The latter signed for it and tore it open hastily. It was from the Giants' manager and read:
"I hear the new league is coming after you hotfoot. But I'm betting on you, Joe.
He handed it over to Jim who read it with a smile.
"Betting on me, is he?" said Joe. "Well, Mac, you win!"
THE TOP OF THE WAVE
While they were still discussing the telegram, Joe's father came home to lunch from the harvester works where he was employed. He seemed ten years younger than he had before the trip to the World's Series, which he in his quiet way had enjoyed quite as much as the rest of the family.
He greeted the young men cordially.
"I met a man a little way down the street who seemed to have come from here," he said, as he hung up his hat. "He had his hat jammed down on his head, and was muttering to himself as though he were sore about something."
"He was," replied Jim with a grin. "He laid twenty-five thousand dollars on the table, and he was sore because Joe wouldn't take it up."
Mr. Matson looked bewildered, but his astonishment was not as great as that of Clara, who at that moment put her head in the door to announce that lunch was ready.
"What are you millionaires talking about?" she asked.
"What do millionaires usually talk about?" answered Jim loftily. "Money—the long green—iron men—filthy lucre—yellowbacks——"
"If you don't stop your nonsense you sha'n't have any lunch," threatened Clara, "and that means something, too, for mother has spread herself in getting it up."
"Take it all back," said Jim promptly. "I'm as sober as a judge. Lead me to this lunch, fair maiden, and I'll tell you nothing but the plain, unvarnished truth. But even at that, I'm afraid you'll think I'm romancing."
The merry group seated themselves at the table, and Clara, all alive with curiosity, demanded the fulfilment of Jim's promise.
"Well," said Jim, "the simple truth is that that fellow who was here this morning offered Joe sixty-five thousand dollars for three years' work."
Mrs. Matson almost dropped her knife and fork in her amazement. Mr. Matson sat up with a jerk, and Clara's eyes opened to their widest extent.
"Sixty-five thousand dollars!" gasped Joe's father.
"For three years' work!" exclaimed Mrs. Matson.
"Why," stammered Clara, "that's—that's—let me see—why, that's more than twenty-one thousand dollars a year."
"That's what," replied Jim, keenly relishing the sensation he was causing. "And it wasn't stage money either. He had brought twenty thousand dollars with him in bills, and he laid it down on the table as carelessly as though it was twenty cents. And all that this modest youth, who sits beside me and isn't saying a word, had to do to get that money was to put his name on a piece of paper."
"Joe," exclaimed Clara, "do tell us what all this means! Jim is just trying to tantalize us."
"Stung!" grinned Jim. "That's what comes from mixing in family matters."
"Why, it's this way, Sis," laughed Joe. "That fellow traveled a thousand miles to call me a hick. I wouldn't stand for it and made him take it back and then he got mad and skipped."
"Momsey," begged Clara in desperation, "can't you make these idiots tell us just what happened?"
"Them cruel woids!" ejaculated Jim mournfully.
"Do tell us, Joe!" entreated his mother. "I'm just dying to know all about it."
Teasing his mother was a very different thing from teasing Clara, who was an adept at that art herself, and Joe surrendered immediately.
They forgot to eat—all except Jim, who seldom carried forgetfulness so far—while he told them about Westland's call and his proposition to Joe to break his contract and jump to the new league.
Sixty-five thousand dollars was a staggering amount of money, a fortune, in fact, in that quiet town, and yet there was not one of that little family who didn't rejoice that Joe had turned the offer down.
"You did the right thing, Joe," said his father heartily; "and the fact that lots of people would call you foolish doesn't change things in the least. A man who sells himself for a hundred thousand dollars is just as contemptible as one who sells himself for a dollar. I'm proud of you, my boy."
"I could have told beforehand just what Joe would do," said Mrs. Matson, wiping her eyes.
"You're the darlingest brother ever!" exclaimed Clara, coming round the table and giving him a hug and a kiss.
The thought of Clara being a sister to him had never appealed to Jim before, but just at that moment it would have had its advantages.
For the rest of the meal all were engrossed in talking of the great event of the morning—that is, all but Joe, who kept casting surreptitious glances at the clock.
"Don't get worried, Joe," said his sister mischievously, as she intercepted one of his glances. "Mabel's train doesn't get in until half-past two, and it isn't one o'clock yet."
Joe flushed a little and Jim laughed.
"Can you blame him?" he asked.
"Not a bit," answered Clara. "Mabel's a darling and I'm crazy to get hold of her. After Joe, though, of course," she added.
Joe threw his napkin at her but missed.
"Sixty-five thousand dollars for a baseball player who can't throw any straighter than that," she mocked. "It's a lucky thing for the new league that you didn't take their money."
"Maybe I had better take their money after all!" cried Joe tantalizingly.
At these words Clara threw up her hands in mock horror.
"You just dare, Joe Matson, and I'll disown you!"
"Ah-ha! And now I'm disowned and cast out of my home!" exclaimed the young baseball player tragically. "Woe is me!"
"I don't believe any decent player would ever have anything to say to you, Joe, if you did such a mean thing as that," went on Clara seriously. And at this Joe nodded affirmatively.
An hour later, all three, chatting merrily, were on their way to the train. But their progress was slow, for at almost every turn they were stopped by friends who wanted to shake hands with Joe and congratulate him on his presence of mind the night before.
"One of the penalties of having a famous brother," sighed Clara, when this had happened for the twentieth time.
"You little hypocrite," laughed Jim. "You know that you're just bursting with pride. You're tickled to death to be walking alongside of him. Stop your sighing. Follow my example. I'm tickled to death to be walking alongside of you and you don't hear me sighing. I feel more like singing."
"For goodness' sake, don't," retorted Clara in mock alarm. "Oh, dear, here's another one!"
"Were you addressing me when you said 'dear'?" asked Jim politely.
Clara flashed him an indignant glance, just as Professor Enoch Crabbe, of the Riverside Academy, stepped up and greeted Joe. He was earnest in his congratulations, but his manner was so stilted that they looked at each other with an amused smile, as he stalked pompously away.
"I wonder if he believes now that I can throw a curve," laughed Joe.
"He ought to ask some of the Red Sox who whiffed away at them in the World Series," said Jim with a grin. "They didn't have any doubt about it."
"Professor Crabbe had very serious doubts," explained Joe. "In fact, he said it was impossible. Against all the laws of motion and all that sort of thing. I had to rig up a couple of bamboo rods in a line, and get Dick Talbot, a friend of mine in the moving-picture business, to take a picture of the ball as it curved around the rods, before I could prove my point."
"Did it convince him?" queried Jim.
"It stumped him, anyway," replied Joe. "But sometimes I have a sneaking notion that he thinks yet that Dick and I played some kind of a bunco game on him by doctoring the film."
"Well, I hope that nobody else stops us," remarked Clara. "It seems to me that almost everybody in Riverside is on the street this afternoon."
"It wouldn't be such an awful mob at that," replied Jim. "But it's a safe bet that one man at least won't stop Joe to shake hands with him."
"Who is that?" asked Clara.
"The fellow who yelled 'Fire' in the hall last night," answered Jim with a grin.
"I hope I didn't hurt him," observed Joe, thoughtfully.
"Perish the thought," replied Jim. "You just caressed him. He was a big fellow, and he probably sat down just to take a load off his feet."
"I'm glad he wasn't a Riverside man, anyway," remarked Joe, loyal to his home town. "I never saw him before. Probably he came from some place near by."
"Oh, then, of course he won't mind it," chaffed Jim.
"Of all the nonsense——" Clara was beginning, when her eye caught sight of a figure she recognized on the station platform which they had nearly reached.
She nudged her brother's elbow.
"There's the man you were talking to this morning," she said in a low voice.
"By George, so it is!" replied Joe, as he followed her glance. "And he's talking to Altman. Trying to make him a convert."
"A renegade, you mean," growled Jim.
Westland saw the party coming, and with a scowl turned his back upon them.
Altman, however, greeted Joe with a smile and, excusing himself to Westland, went over to meet him with extended hand.
"How are you, old scout?" he exclaimed. "You sure batted .300 last night."
Joe greeted him cordially, while Jim and Clara strolled on toward the end of the platform. It was astonishing what good company those two were to each other, and how well they bore the absence of anybody else from their conversation.
"I'm feeling fine as silk," was Joe's response to Altman's question.
"Didn't sprain your salary wing, or anything like that?" grinned Altman. "You fetched that fellow an awful hit in the jaw."
"I hated to do it, but it was coming to him," laughed Joe.
"Well, if there are any doctors' bills, I guess the Riverside people will be willing to take up a collection to pay them," replied Altman. "It's mighty lucky for the town that you happened to be in the crowd last night."
"I suppose you're off to keep your next engagement," said Joe, to change the subject. "By the way, Nick, that was a mighty nifty skit of yours at the hall last night. It brought down the house. It ought to pull big everywhere."
"I'm glad you liked it," replied Altman. "I'm booked for twenty weeks and I'm drawing down good money."
"I suppose you'll be with the White Sox next year, as usual," said Joe.
"W-why, I suppose so," he said slowly. "My contract with them has another year to run. To tell the truth, though, Joe, I'm somewhat unsettled."
"Why," said Joe, "you're not going to give up the game for the stage, are you?"
"Oh, nothing like that," replied Altman. "I'd rather play ball than eat, and I'll stick to the game as long as this old wing of mine can put them over the plate. But whether I'll be with the White Sox or not is another question."
"Some other team in the American league trying to make a dicker for you?" asked Joe.
"Not that I've heard anything about," responded Altman. "But the American League isn't the whole cheese in baseball—nor the National League, either, for that matter."
"I see Westland has been talking to you," said Joe. "I don't want to butt in, Nick, but don't let him put one over on you."
"The new league seems to have barrels of money," replied Altman, evading a direct answer. "This fellow Westland seems aching to throw it to the birds—he's got a wad in his pocket that would choke a horse."
"Yes," said Joe dryly, "I've seen that wad before. But take a fool's advice, Nick, and stick to the old ship."
"That's all very well," said Altman. "But a man's worth all that he will bring in any other line of work—and why shouldn't it be so in baseball? Who is it that brings the money in at the gate, anyway? We're the ones that the public come to see, but it's the bosses that get all the money."
"Lay off on that 'poor, down-trodden slave' talk, Nick," said Joe earnestly. "You know as well as I do that there are mighty few fellows who get as well paid for six months' work as we ball players do. But, leave that out of the question for a minute—don't you suppose the backers of this new league are just as eager to make money out of us as anybody else? Do you think they're in the game for the sport of it? And don't you know that the coming of a new league just now is likely to wreck the game? You know how it was in the old Brotherhood days—they did the same crooked work then that they're trying to do now—bribing men to jump their contracts by offers of big money. The game got a blow then that it took years to recover from, and there wasn't a single major league player that in the long run, didn't suffer from it. Play the game, Nick—and let's show these fellows that they can't buy us as they would so many cattle."
Altman was visibly impressed, and Westland, who had been watching proceedings out of the corner of his eye, thought it time to intervene. He strolled down toward them and without looking at Joe, spoke directly to Altman.
"Train's coming, Nick," he said. "I just heard the whistle. I'll stay with you so that we can get seats together in the smoker."
"Well, good-bye, Joe!" said Altman. "I'm glad to have seen you again, anyway, and I'll promise not to do anything hastily."
And as Jim and Clara came hurrying up at that moment, Joe had to be content with the hope that, at least, he had put a spoke in Westland's wheel.
The train was in sight now, and all thoughts of baseball were banished for the moment at the thought of what that train was bringing to him.
With a rush and a roar the train drew up at the station. The colored porter jumped down the steps of the parlor car to assist the descending passengers.
Joe uttered an exclamation, and Clara gave a little squeal of delight as two young people, whom a family resemblance proclaimed to be brother and sister, came hurriedly down the steps.
In a moment they were the center of an eager and tumultuous group.
"Mabel!" exclaimed Joe,—at least that was all that they heard him say just then. What he said to her later on is none of our business.
The girls hugged and kissed each other, much to the aggravation of the masculine contingent, while Reggie Varley extended his two hands, which were grasped cordially by Joe and Jim.
The romance which had culminated in the engagement of Mabel Varley and Joe dated back two years earlier. Joe had been in a southern training camp, in spring practice with his team, when one day he had been lucky enough to stop a runaway horse which Mabel had been driving, and thus saved her from imminent danger and possible death. The acquaintance, so established, rapidly deepened into friendship and then into something stronger.
Mabel was a charming girl with lustrous brown eyes, wonderful complexion and dimples that came and went in a distracting fashion, and it was no wonder that Joe before long was a helpless but willing captive. She, on her part, developed a sudden fondness for the great national game to which she had hitherto been indifferent.
They had met many times during the season, and with every meeting her witchery over Joe had become more potent. He had stolen a glove from her during one of his visits to Goldsboro, her home town in the South, and during the exciting games of the last World's Series he had worn it close to his heart when he had pitched his team to victory.
And when he told her this on the night following the famous game that had set the whole country wild with excitement, and told her too, that victory meant nothing, unless she shared it with him, she had capitulated and promised to become his wife.
Reggie, her brother, had formed Joe's acquaintance earlier than Mabel and in a less pleasant way. He was a rather foppish young man who cultivated a mustache that the girls called "darling," and affected what he fondly believed to be an English accent.
In a railway station he had left his valise near where Joe was sitting, and, on his return, found that the valise had been opened and some valuable jewelry stolen from it. He had rashly accused Joe of the theft, and had narrowly escaped a thrashing from that indignant young man, in consequence.
The matter had been patched up at the time, and afterward, when Joe learned that he was Mabel's brother, had been forgiven entirely. The men were now on the most cordial of terms, for Reggie, despite his peculiarities and though he would never "set the river on fire" with his intellectual ability, was by no means a bad fellow.
There was a merry hubbub of greetings and exclamations while the men arranged for the baggage and the girls asked each other twenty questions at once and then the party paired off for the walk to the Matson home—that is, Joe and Mabel and Jim and Clara, formed the pairs, while Reggie was, so to speak, a fifth wheel to the coach!
Not that this bothered Reggie in the least. He ambled along amiably, dividing his talk and attentions impartially, serenely unconscious that each pair was willing to bestow him upon the other.
"We ought to have a band playing 'See, the Conquering Hero Comes,'" remarked Jim to Mabel, who was walking in front with Joe.
"I know he's a hero," said Mabel, her eyes eloquent as she looked at Joe. "I can hardly pick up the paper but what it calls him the hero of the World's Series."
"I don't mean a baseball hero," said Jim, "but a real, honest-to-goodness hero—the life-saver and all that kind of stuff, you know."
"Yes," joined in Clara, "you came a day too late, Mabel. You ought to have seen Joe at the Opera House last night. He was simply great."
"At the Opera House?" Mabel repeated, in some bewilderment.
"Sure," chaffed Jim. "Didn't you know Joe'd gone on the stage?"
"Yes," said Clara, carrying out the mystification. "He made a hit, too."
"There was at least one man in the audience he made a hit with," chuckled Jim.
"Don't let them fool you, Mabel," said Joe, tenderly. "There was just a little excitement at the Opera House last night and Jim and I took a hand in stopping it. They're making an awful lot of a very simple matter."
"You've no idea what a voice Joe has for public speaking," persisted the irrepressible Jim. "Last night he was a howling success."
"Clara, dear, tell me all about it," entreated Mabel. "We girls are the only ones who can talk sense."
Thus appealed to, Clara told about the circumstances of the night before, and, as may be imagined, Joe did not suffer in the telling. If the latter had needed any other reward for his exploit he found it in Mabel's eyes as she looked at him.
"I thought I knew all about you before," she said, in a half whisper, "but I'm learning all the time!"
CIRCLING THE GLOBE
When the party reached the Matson home, motherly Mrs. Matson took Mabel into her arms as she had long since taken her into her heart. Then Clara took her up to her room to refresh herself after the journey, while Jim and Joe took care of Reggie and his belongings.
"Oh, I'm so glad that you've got here at last!" exclaimed Clara, as she placed an affectionate hand on Mabel's shoulder.
"And you may be sure that I'm glad that I am here," was the happy response. "I declare, this place almost feels like home to me."
"Well, you know, we want it to feel like home to you, Mabel," answered Joe's sister, and looked so knowingly at the visitor that Mabel suddenly began to blush.
In the meantime, Joe had taken Reggie to the room which the young man was to occupy during his stay. Joe carried both of the bags, which were rather heavy, for the fashionable young man was in the habit of taking a good share of his wardrobe along whenever he left home.
"Some weight to one of these bags, Reggie," remarked Joe good-naturedly, as he deposited the big Gladstone on the floor with a thud. "You must have about three hundred and fifteen new neckties in there."
"Bah Jove, that's a good joke, Joe, don't you know!" drawled Reggie. "But you're wrong, my boy; I haven't more than ten neckties with me on this trip."
"Say, I'm glad to know you've got so many. Maybe I'll want to borrow one," went on Joe, continuing his joke.
"Of course you can have one of my neckties if you want it, Joe," returned the fashionable young man quickly. "I've got a beautiful lavender one that ought to just suit you. And then there is a fancy striped one, red and green and gold, which is the most stunning thing, don't you know, you ever saw. I purchased it at a fashionable shop on Fifth Avenue the last time I was in New York. If you wore that tie, Joe, you would certainly make a hit."
"Well, you see, I'm not so much of a hitter as I am of a pitcher," returned Joe; "so I guess I'd better not rob you of that tie. Come to think of it, I got several new ties myself last Christmas and on my birthday. I think they'll see me through very nicely. But I'm much obliged just the same. And now, Reggie, make yourself thoroughly at home."
"Oh, I'll be sure to do that," returned Mabel's brother. "You're a fine fellow, Joe; and I often wonder how it was I quarreled with you the first time we met."
"We'll forget about that," answered Joe shortly.
Naturally the men returned to the living room first, and while they were waiting impatiently for the girls to rejoin them, Joe caught sight of a letter resting against the clock on the mantelpiece.
He took it up and saw that it was addressed to himself, and that it bore the postmark of New York. He recognized the handwriting at once.
"It's from McRae," he said. "The second message I've received from the old boy to-day, counting the telegram this morning. Excuse me, fellows, while I look it over."
He tore it open hastily and read with glowing interest and excitement.
"The World Tour's a go!" he cried, handing the letter over to Jim. "Mac's got it all settled at last. When we said good-bye to him in New York it was all up in the air. But trust Mac to hustle—he's got enough promises to make up the two teams and now he's calling on us, Jim, to keep our word and go with the party. We're all to meet in Chicago for the start on the nineteenth of the month."
"Gee!" exclaimed Jim. "That doesn't give us very much time. Let's see," as he snatched up a newspaper and scanned the top line. "To-day's the sixteenth. We'll have to get a wiggle on."
"Bah Jove," lisped Reggie. "It's bally short notice, don't you know? How long will you fellows be gone?"
"Just about six months," said Joe, his face lengthening as he reflected on what it meant to be all that time away from Mabel.
"What's all this pow-wow about?" came a merry voice from the door, as the girls tripped in, their arms about each other's waist.
"I'm glad we girls aren't as talkative as you men," said Clara, mischievously.
"When we do talk we at least say something," added Mabel. "What is it, Joe?"
"I'm afraid it's rather bad news in a way," said Joe. "I've just got a letter from McRae in which he tells me that he's completed all arrangements for a baseball tour around the world. You know, Mabel, that I spoke to you about it just before we left New York. But it was only a vague idea then and something of the kind is talked about at the end of every baseball season. Usually though, it only ends in talk, and the teams make a barnstorming trip to San Francisco or to Cuba. But this time it seems to have gone through all right. And now Mac is calling upon Jim and me to go along."
"My word!" broke in Reggie, "anyone would think it was a bally funeral to hear you talk and see your face. I should think you'd be no-end pleased to have a chance to go."
To tell the truth, neither Joe nor Jim seemed elated at the prospect. Joe's eyes sought Mabel, while Jim's rested on Clara, and neither one of those young ladies was so obtuse as not to know what the young men were thinking.
"When do you have to go?" asked Clara, soberly.
"We have to be in Chicago by the nineteenth," answered Joe, "and we'll have to leave here the day before. To-day's the sixteenth and you can see for yourself how much time that gives us to stay in Riverside."
"No rest for the wicked," said Reggie, jocularly. "'Pon honor, you boys have earned a rest after the work you did against the Red Sox."
Clara was very far from her vivacious self as she thought of the coming separation, but Joe was surprised and the least bit hurt to see how lightly Mabel seemed to regard it.
"It's too bad, of course," she said, cheerfully, "but we'll have to make the best of these two days at least. It's a pity, though, that it wasn't November nineteenth instead of October."
"We could have started a bit later if it were only for the foreign trip," explained Jim, "but we're going to play a series of exhibition games between here and the Coast, and we've got to take advantage of what good weather there is left. If we can only get to the Rockies before it's too cold to play, we'll be all right, because in California they're able to play all the year round."
"My word!" exclaimed Reggie, "I don't see why they don't cut out the exhibition games altogether. I should think this country had had baseball enough for one season."
"Not when the Giants and an All-American team are the players," replied Joe. "The people will come out in crowds—they'll fairly beg us to take their money."
"And it will be worth taking," chimed in Jim. "Do you know how much money the teams took in before they reached the coast on their last World's Trip? Ninety-seven thousand dollars. Count them, ladies and gentlemen—ninety-seven thousand dollars in good American dollars!" he added grandly.
"That sounds like a lot of money," said Reggie, thoughtfully.
"And they'll need every cent of it too," said Joe. "It's the only way a trip of that kind can be carried on. The teams travel in first-class style, have the finest quarters on the ship, and stay at the best hotels. In the games abroad there won't be money enough taken in, probably, to cover expenses. Then the money we've taken in from the exhibition games will come in handy."
"How many men are going in the two teams?" inquired Clara.
"I imagine each team will carry about fourteen men," replied Joe. "That will give them three pitchers, two catchers, an extra infielder and outfielder, beside the other members of the team. That ought to be enough to allow for sickness or accident."
"How much do you fellows expect to get out of it for yourselves?" asked Reggie.
"That's just a matter of guess work," Joe replied. "I understand that what is left after all expenses are paid will be divided equally among the players. On the last World's Trip I think it amounted to about a thousand dollars apiece. But then again, it may not be a thousand cents. All we really know is that we'll have a chance to see the world in first-class style without its actually costing us a dollar."
"Oh, you lucky men!" said Clara, with a sigh. "You can go trotting all over the world, while we poor girls have to stay at home and look for an occasional letter from your highnesses—that is, if you deign to write to us at all."
"I'll guarantee to keep the postman busy," said Jim, fervently.
"Same here," said Joe, emphatically, as his eyes met Mabel's.
"Do you know just what route you'll follow?" Reggie asked.
"Our first stop will be at Hawaii," replied Joe, consulting his letter. "So that the first game we play outside of the States will still be under the American flag. We'll see Old Glory again, too, when we strike the Philippines. But that will come a little later. After we leave Hawaii, we won't see dry land again until we get to Japan."
"I fancy we'll get some good games there, too," broke in Jim. "Those little Japs have gone in for the game with a vengeance. Do you remember the time when their Waseda and Keio University teams came over to this country? They gave our Princeton and Yale fellows all they could do to beat them."
"Yes," said Joe, "they're nifty players when it comes to fielding and they're fleet as jack rabbits on the bases—but they're a little light at the bat. When it comes to playing before their home crowds they'll be a pretty stiff proposition."
"Do you take in China at all?" asked Reggie.
"We'll probably stop at Shanghai and Hongkong," replied Joe. "I don't imagine the Chinks can scrape up any kind of a baseball team, but there are big foreign colonies at both of those places and they'll turn out in force to see players from the States. Then after touching at Manila, we'll go to Australia, taking in all the big towns like Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. While of course the Australians are crazy about cricket, like all Englishmen, they're keen for every kind of athletic sport, and we're sure of big crowds there. After that we sail for Ceylon and from there to Egypt."
"I'd like to see Egypt better than any other place," broke in Clara. "I've always been crazy to go there."
"It's full of curiosities," remarked Jim. "There's the Sphinx, for instance—a woman who hasn't said a word for five thousand years."
Clara flashed a withering glance at him, under which he wilted.
"Don't mix your Greek fable and your Egyptian facts, Jim," chuckled Joe.
"Fact. Since this trip's been in the wind, I've been reading up. Those Egyptian sphinxes—those that haven't a ram's or a hawk's head—have a man's, not a woman's, head."
"That's why they've been able to keep still so long, then!" exclaimed Jim.
"You mean thing!" cried Mabel.
"Don't lay that up against me," he begged, penitently, "and I'll send you back a little crocodile from the Nile."
"Oh, the horrid thing!" cried Clara with a shudder.
"I'm doing the best I can," said Jim, plaintively. "I can't send you one of the pyramids."
"That's the last we'll see of Africa," went on Joe. "After that, we set sail for Italy and land at Naples. Then we work our way up through Rome, Florence, Milan, Monte Carlo, Marseilles, Paris and London. We'll stay about a month in Great Britain, visiting Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin. Then we'll make tracks for home, and maybe we won't be glad to get here!"
The vision conjured up by this array of famous cities offered such scope for endless surmise and speculation that they were surprised at the flight of time when Mrs. Matson smilingly summoned them to supper.
Of course, Joe sat beside Mabel and Jim beside Clara. If, in the course of the evening meal, Joe's hand and Mabel's met beneath the table, it was purely by accident. Jim, on his side would cheerfully have risked such an accident, but had no such luck.
Joe was happy, supremely happy in the presence by his side of the dearest girl in all the world. Yet there was a queer little ache at his heart because of the apparent indifference with which Mabel had viewed their coming separation.
"You haven't said once," he said to her in a low tone, with a touch of tender reproach, "that you were sorry I was going."
"Why should I," answered Mabel, demurely, "since I am going with you?"
THE GATHERING OF THE CLANS
If Mabel had counted on creating a sensation, she succeeded beyond her wildest hopes.
For a moment, Joe thought that he must have taken leave of his senses.
"What!" he cried, incredulously, half rising to his feet.
This sudden ejaculation drew the attention of all the others seated at the table.
"Land sakes, Joe!" expostulated his mother, "you almost made me upset my tea cup. What's the matter?"
"Enough's the matter," responded Joe, jubilantly. "That is, if Mabel really means what she said just now."
"What was it you said, Mabel dear?" asked Clara.
"Come, 'fess up," invited Jim.
"I guess I'll let Reggie tell the rest of it," said Mabel, blushing under the battery of eyes turned upon her.
"All right, Sis," said Reggie, affably. "Bah Jove, I give you credit for holding in as long as you have. The fact is," he continued, beaming amiably upon all the party, "the governor asked me to take a trip to Japan and China, and Mabel put in to come along. I didn't twig what the little minx was up to, until she said we could go on the same steamer that took the baseball party. Lots of other women—wives of the managers and players and so on—will go along, I understand. So there's the whole bally story in a nutshell. Rippin' good idea I call it—what?"
"Glory hallelujah!" cried Joe, grasping Mabel's hand, openly this time.
"It's simply great!" cried Jim, enthusiastically.
"You darling, lucky girl!" exclaimed Clara, while Mr. and Mrs. Matson smiled their pleasure.
"Had you up in the air for a minute, didn't it, old top?" grinned Reggie.
"I should say it did," Joe admitted. "I thought for a minute I was going crazy. Somebody pinch me."
Jim reached over and accommodated him.
"Ouch!" cried Joe, rubbing his arm. "You needn't be so literal."
"There's nothing I wouldn't do for my friends," said Jim, piously.
Questions poured in thick and fast.
"How can you possibly get ready in time?" asked Clara. "It's the sixteenth now, and the teams leave Chicago on the nineteenth."
"Oh, we're not going to make the trip across the country," explained Mabel, flushed with happiness. "Reggie and I will join the party in San Francisco or Seattle, or wherever they start from. So that will give us nearly a month, and I'm going to spend most of that right here—if you can stand me that long."
Clara came round the table and gave her an impulsive hug.
"I'd be glad to have you stay here forever," said Mrs. Matson fervently.
Just here a thought struck Joe.
"It's the greatest thing ever that you're going as far as Japan," he said. "But why can't you keep on with us and swing right around the circle?"
"You greedy boy!" murmured Mabel.
"We've thought of that too," explained Reggie. "The governor promised Mabel a trip round the world as soon as she got through with the finishing school. She could have gone last year if she had chosen, but she got so interested in baseball——"
"Reggie!" murmured Mabel, warningly.
"Well, anyway," said Reggie a little lamely, "she didn't go, and so I put it up to the governor that there was no reason she couldn't go now. He saw it the same way—he's a rippin' good sort, the governor is—and he's left it to us to make the trip all the way round—that is, if I can get through my business in Japan in time."
"If you don't get through in time, there'll be murder done," threatened Joe.
In the animated talk that ensued all took a part. But toward the end of the meal, Joe noticed that Jim was a little more subdued than was usual with him, and that some of the sparkle and vivacity had vanished from Clara's eyes and voice.
He glanced from one to the other and knew the reason. He knew how deep the feeling was growing between the two and realized what the coming six-months' separation would mean to them. A generous impulse came to him like a flash.
"Listen folks," he said. "Surprises seem to be in fashion, so here's another one. Clara's going along with us."
Astonishment and delight held Clara speechless—then she rose and flung her arms impulsively about her brother's neck, and for the second time that day Jim would have been willing to let her be a sister to him also.
Jim reached his brawny hand across the table.
"Put her there, Joe, old boy!" he said. "You're the finest fellow that ever wore shoe leather."
"Won't it be just glorious!" exulted Mabel.
"There never was such a boy in all the world," murmured Joe's mother.
"But, Joe dear, won't it be too great an expense?" suggested Clara. "You know it's less than a month since you sent us that thousand-dollar bill that took us to the World's Series."
"That's all right, Sis," reassured Joe, patting her hand. "Remember I cleared nearly four thousand dollars extra in the World's Series, and this won't put much of a dent in that. You just go ahead and doll yourself up—and hang the expense."
And so it was settled, and it is safe to say that a group of happier young people could not be found anywhere than those who discussed excitedly, until late into the night, the coming trip with all its marvelous possibilities.
The next two days flew by all too rapidly. The girls, of course, had plenty of time, but Joe and Jim had a host of things to attend to and a very limited time to do them in. But somehow, Joe made time enough to say a lot of things to Mabel that, to lovers at least, seem important, and Jim, though not daring to go quite so far, looked and said quite enough to deepen the roses in Clara's cheeks and the loveliness in her eyes.
It was hard to part when the time for parting came, but this time there was no long six-months' separation to be dreaded—that is, as far as the young folks were concerned.
Mr. and Mrs. Matson had counted on having their son with them throughout the fall and winter, but they had been accustomed for so long to merge their own happiness in that of their children that they kept up bright faces while they said good-bye, although Mrs. Matson's smile was tremulous.
A day and night of traveling and the ball players reached Chicago, where, at the Blackstone, they found McRae awaiting them—the same old McRae, aggressive, pugnacious, masterful, and yet with a glint of worry in his eyes that had not been there at the close of the World's Series.
Robbie was there too, rotund and rubicund, but not just the Robbie who had danced the tango with McRae before the clubhouse on the occasion of the great victory.
But if worry and anxiety had set their mark upon the manager and trainer of the Giants, it had not affected the players, who were lounging about the corridor of the hotel.
A bunch of them, including Burkett and Denton and good old Larry, gave the newcomers a tumultuous welcome.
"Cheer, cheer, the gang's all here!" cried Larry.
McRae clasped Joe's hand in a grip that almost made him wince.
"So the new league hasn't got you yet, Joe?" he cried.
"No," laughed Joe, returning his clasp; "and it never will!"
THE RIVAL TEAMS
Robbie, who had come up just in time to hear Joe's last words, gave him a resounding thump on the back.
"That's the way to talk, Joe, old boy!" he cried. "I've been telling Mac all along that no matter who else weakens he could bet his last dollar on you."
"Not that I needed any bracing up," declared McRae. "I know a man when I see one, and I count on you to the limit. I didn't send that telegram because I had any doubt, but I knew that they'd make a break for you first of all and I didn't want you to be taken by surprise. By the way, have any of them turned up yet?"
"A chap named Westland came to see me the very day I got your telegram," replied Joe.
"And he came well heeled, too," put in Jim. "Money was fairly dripping from him. He just ached to give it away. It was only up to Joe to become a bloated plutocrat on the spot."
"Offered good money, did he?" asked McRae, with quickened interest.
"Twenty thousand dollars right off the bat," replied Jim. "Fifteen thousand dollars a year for a three-year contract. And as if that weren't enough, he offered to put the money in the bank in advance and let Joe draw against it as he went along."
McRae and Robbie exchanged glances. Here was proof that the new league meant business right from the start. It was a competitor to be dreaded and it was up to them to get their fighting clothes on at once.
"That's a whale of an offer," ejaculated Robbie.
"They've thrown their hat into the ring," remarked McRae. "From now on it's a fight for blood."
"There's no need of asking what Joe said to that," said Robbie.
"I wish you'd been behind the door to hear it," grinned Jim. "The way Joe lighted into him was a sin and a shame. He fairly skinned him alive. It looked at one time as if there would be a scrap sure."
"It would have been a tremendous card for them to get the star pitcher of the World's Series," said McRae with a sigh of relief. "And in these days, when so many rumors are flying round it's a comfort to know there's one man, at least, that money can't buy. There isn't a bit of shoddy in you, Joe. You're all wool and a yard wide."
At this moment, Hughson, the famous pitcher who had been a tower of strength to the Giants for ten years past, came strolling up, and Joe and Jim fell upon him with a shout.
"How are you, Hughson, old man?" cried Joe. "How's that wing of yours getting along?"
"All to the good," replied Hughson. "I stopped off for a day or two at Youngstown and had it treated by Bonesetter Reese. I tell you, that old chap's a wonder. He tells me it will be as good as ever when the season opens."
"I'm mighty glad you're going along with us on this trip," said Jim, heartily. "It wouldn't seem like the Giant team with you out of it."
"I'm going through as far as the coast anyway," answered Hughson. "More for the fun of being with the boys than anything else. But I don't think I'll make the trip around the world. I made a half promise some time ago to coach the Yale team this coming spring, and they don't seem inclined to let me out of it. And I don't know if after all it may not be best to rest up this winter and get in shape for next year."
The three strolled on down the corridor, leaving McRae and Robbie in earnest conversation.
"How many of the boys is Mac taking along?" asked Joe.
"I think he figures on about fourteen men," replied Hughson. "That will give him three pitchers, two catchers, an extra infielder and outfielder, besides the seven other men in their regular positions. That'll allow for accident or sickness and ought to be enough."
"Just as I doped it out," remarked Joe.
"On a pinch, McRae could play himself," laughed Jim. "No better player ever held down the third bag than Mac when he was on the old Orioles. The old boy could give the youngsters points even now on winging them down to first."
"For that matter, Robbie himself might go in behind the bat," grinned Joe. "No ball could get by him without hitting him somewhere."
"It would be worth the price of admission to see Robbie running down to first," admitted Hughson, with a smile.
"What kind of a team has Brennan got together for the All-American?" asked Joe.
"Believe me; it's a good one," replied Hughson. "He's got a bunch of the sweetest hitters that he could get from either league. They're a bunch of fence breakers, all right. When those birds once get going, they're apt to send any pitcher to the shower. You'll have all you want to do, Joe, to keep them from straightening out your curves."
"I don't ask anything better," replied Joe, with a laugh. "I'd get soft if they were too easy. But who are these ball killers? Let me know the worst."
"Well," said Hughson, "there's Wallie Schalk behind the bat—you know how he can line them out. Then there's Miller at first, Ebers at second, McBride at short and Chapman at third. The outfielders will probably be Cooper and Murray and Lange. For pitchers Brennan will have Hamilton, Fraser and Ellis,—although Ellis was troubled with the charley-horse toward the end of the season, and Banks may take his place."
"It's a strong team," commented Jim, "and they can certainly make the ball scream when they hit it. They're a nifty lot of fielders, too. I guess we'll have our work cut out for us, all right."
"Both Mac and Brennan have got the right idea," said Hughson. "Too many of these barnstorming trips have been made up of second string men, and when people came to see the teams play and didn't find the real stars in the line-up they naturally felt sore. But they're going to get the simon-pure article this time and the games are to be for blood. Anyone that lays down on his job is going to get fired. It'll be easy enough to pick up a good man to take his place."
"What's the scheme?" asked Joe. "Are we two teams to play against each other all the time, or are we to take on some of the local nines?"
"I don't think that's been fully worked out yet," replied Hughson. "I know we're going to play the Denver nine and some of the crack California teams."
"Easy meat," commented Jim with a grin.
"Don't you believe it," rejoined Hughson. "Don't you remember how the Waco team trimmed us last spring? Those fellows will play their heads off to beat us—and they'll own the town if they succeed. They figure that they'll catch us off our guard and get the Indian sign on us before we wake up."
"Yes. But do you think they can get the Indian sign so easily?"
"No, I don't."
"Of course, those minor teams will play their very best, because it would be a feather in their cap if they could take a game away from us. They'll probably look around and pick up the very best players they can, even if they have to put up some money for the purpose. Just the same, we ought to be able to polish them off with these."
"Well, of course, we've got to expect to lose some games. It would be a remarkable thing to go around the world and win every game."
"Yet it might be done," broke in Jim.
"I suppose there'll be quite a party going along with the teams, just for the sake of the trip," observed Joe.
"You've said it," replied Hughson. "At least half of the men will have their wives along, and then there's a whole bunch of fans who have been meaning to go round the world anyway who will think this a good chance to mix baseball and globe trotting. Altogether I shouldn't wonder if there would be about a hundred in the party. Some of the fellows will have their sisters with them, and you boys had better look out or you'll lose your hearts to them. But perhaps," he added, as he saw a look of quick intelligence pass between the chums, "you're already past praying for."
Neither one of them denied the soft impeachment.
"By the way," said Hughson, changing the subject, "while I think of it, Joe, I want to give you a tip to be on your guard against 'Bugs' Hartley."
"Why, what's he up to, now?" inquired Joe.
"I don't know," Hughson replied. "But I do know that he's sore at you through and through. He's got the idea in that twisted brain of his that you got him off the Giant team. I met him in the street the other day——"
"Half drunk, I suppose," interjected Jim.
"More than half," replied Hughson. "He's got to be a regular panhandler—struck me for a loan, and while I was getting it for him, he talked in a rambling way of how he was going to get even with you. Of course I shut him up, but I couldn't talk him out of his fixed idea. He'll do you a mischief if he ever gets the chance."
"He's tried it before," said Joe. "He nearly knocked me out when he doped my coffee. Poor old 'Bugs'—he's his own worst enemy."
"But he's your enemy too," persisted Hughson. "And don't forget that a crazy man is a dangerous man."
"Thanks for the tip," replied Joe. "But 'threatened men live long' and I guess I'm no exception to the rule!"
THE UNDER DOG
"Talking of angels!" exclaimed Jim, giving Joe a sharp nudge in the ribs.
Joe looked up quickly and saw Hartley coming down the corridor.
"It's 'Bugs,' sure enough," he said. "And, for a wonder, he's walking straight."
"Guess he's on his good behavior," remarked Hughson. "There's a big meeting of the American League here just now, winding up the affairs of the league, now that the playing season is over. Maybe Hartley thinks he has a chance to catch on somewhere. Like everybody else that's played in the big leagues, he hates to go back to the bushes. He'd be a find, too, if he'd only cut out the booze—there's lots of good baseball in him yet."
"He's a natural player," said Joe, generously. "And one of the best pitchers I ever saw. You know how Mac tried to hold on to him."
"I don't think he has a Chinaman's chance, though, of staying in big league company," observed Jim. "After the way he tried to give away our signals in that game at Boston, the Nationals wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole, and I don't think the American has any use for him either. You might forgive him for being a drunkard, but not for being a traitor."
Hartley had caught sight of the group, and at first seemed rather undecided whether to go on or stop. The bitter feeling he had for Joe, however, was too strong to resist, and he came over to where they were. He paid no attention to Jim, and gave a curt nod to Hughson and fixed a malignant stare on Joe.
"All dolled up," he said, with a sneer, as he noted the quiet but handsome suit that Joe was wearing. "I could have glad rags, too, if you hadn't bilked me out of four thousand dollars."
"Cut out that talk, Bugs," said Joe, though not unkindly. "I never did you out of anything and you know it."
"Yes, you did," snarled Hartley. "You got me fired from the Giants and did me out of my share of the World's Series money."
"You did yourself out of it, Bugs," said Joe, patiently. "I did my best to have Mac hold on to you. I never was anything but your friend. Do you remember how Jim and I put you to bed that night in St. Louis when you were drunk? We took you up the back way so Mac wouldn't get next. Take a fool's advice, Bugs—cut out the liquor and play the game."
"I don't want any advice from you!" sneered Hartley. "And take it from me, I'll get you yet."
"Beat it, Bugs!" Jim broke in sternly, "while the going's good. Roll your hoop now, or I'll help you."
Hartley hesitated a moment, but took Jim's advice and with a muttered threat went on his way.
"Mad as a March hare," murmured Jim, as they watched the retreating figure.
"Do a man a favor and he'll never forgive you," quoted Joe.
"Where did he get his grouch against you?" asked Hughson, curiously.
"Search me," replied Joe. "I think it dates from the time when he was batted out of the box and Mac sent me in to take his place. I won the game and Bugs has been sore at me ever since. He figured that I tried to show him up."
"I wonder how he got here?" mused Hughson. "The last time I saw him was in New York, and the money I lent him wasn't enough to bring him on."
"Perhaps Mac gave him transportation," suggested Jim.
"Not on your life," rejoined Hughson. "Mac's got a heart as big as a house, but he hates a traitor. You see, though, Joe, I was right in giving you the tip. Keep your eyes open, old man."
Joe was about to make a laughing reply, but just at that moment Larry and Denton came along with broad smiles of welcome on their faces, and the unpleasant episode was forgotten.
It was a jolly party that left Chicago the next morning for the trip around the world. The managers had chartered a special train which was made up wholly of Pullman sleepers, a dining car and a smoker.
It was travel de luxe, and the sumptuous train was to be their home for the full month that would elapse before they reached the coast.
"Rather soft, eh, for the poor baseball slaves," grinned Jim, as he stretched out his long legs luxuriously and gazed out of the window at the flying telegraph poles.
"This is the life," chanted Larry Barrett.
"Nothing to do till to-morrow," chimed in Denton. "And not much even then."
"Don't you boys go patting yourselves on the back," smiled Robbie, looking more like a cherub than ever, as he stopped beside their seats on his way along the aisle. "These games, remember, are to be the real thing—there's going to be no sloppy or careless work just because you're not playing for the championship. They're going to be fights from the time the gong rings till the last man is out in the ninth inning."
If Robbie wanted action, he got it, and the first games had a snap and vim about them that augured well for the success of the trip. It is true that the players had not the stimulus that comes from a fight for the pennant, but other motives were not lacking.
There was one game which was a nip-and-tuck affair from start to finish. At the end of the fourth inning the score stood 1 to 1, and at the end of the sixth inning the score had advanced so that it stood 2 to 2.
"Say, we don't seem to be getting anywhere in this game," remarked Jim to Joe.
"Oh, well, we've got three more innings to play," was the answer.
In the seventh inning a most remarkable happening occurred. The All-Americans had three men on bases with nobody out. It looked as if they might score, but Joe took a sudden brace and pitched the next man at the bat out in one-two-three order.
The next man up knocked a pop fly, which Joe gathered in with ease.
"That's the way to do it, Joe!" sang out one of his companions. "Now go for the third man!"
The third fellow to the bat was a notable hitter, and nearly every one thought he would lace out at least a two-bagger, bringing in probably three runs. Instead, however, he knocked two fouls, and then sent a liner down to first base, which the baseman caught with ease; and that ended the chance for scoring.
"That's pulling it out of the fire!" cried McRae. The showing had been a good one, but what made the inning so remarkable was the fact that in one-two-three order the Giants got the bases filled exactly as they had been filled before. Then, more amazing still, the next man was pitched out, the second man knocked a pop fly to the pitcher, and it was Joe himself, coming to the bat, hit out a liner to third base, which was gathered in by the baseman, thus ending the Giants hope of scoring.
"Well, what do you know about that!" cried Brennan. "The inning on each side was exactly alike, with the exception that our third man out flied to first base, while your man flied to third."
But that ended the similarity both in batting and in scoring, for in the eighth inning the Giants added another run to their score, and held this lead to the end, even though the All-Americans fought desperately in the effort to tie the score.
"Oh, we had to win," said one of the Giants. "Too many of our folks looking at us to lose."
Many members of the teams had their wives or sisters with them, and defeat would have been galling under the eyes of the fair spectators.
Then, too, the Giants had their reputation to sustain as the Champions of the World. On the other hand, the All-Americans were anxious to show that even though they had not been in the World's Series, they ought to have been—and it was a keen delight to them to make their adversaries bite the dust.
Add to this the fact that there was a strong spirit of rivalry, good-natured but intense, between the scrappy McRae and the equally pugnacious Brennan, whose team had been nosed out by the Giants in that last desperate race down the stretch for the pennant, and it is no wonder that the crowds kept getting larger in every city they played, that the gate receipts made the managers chuckle, that the great city papers gave extended reports of the games and that the baseball trip around the world began to engross the attention of every lover of sports in the country.
Joe had never been in finer fettle. His fast balls went over the plate like bullets from a gatling gun. His fadeaway was working to a charm. He wound the ball near the batters' necks and curved it out of reach of their bats with an ease and precision that explained to the applauding crowds why he was rated as the foremost pitcher of the day.
Jim, too, showed the effect of his season's work and Joe's helpful coaching, and between the two they accounted for three of the games won by the Giants before they reached Colorado. Two other games had gone to the All-Americans in slap-dash, ding-dong finishes, and it was an even thing as to which team would have the most games to its credit by the time they had reached the Pacific coast.
The tension was relaxed somewhat when they reached Denver, where, for the first time, instead of fighting it out between themselves a team picked from both nines was to play the local club.
"Here's where we get a rest," sighed Mylert, the burly catcher of the Giant team.
"It will be no trick at all to wipe up the earth with these bushers," laughed Larry Barrett.
"What we'll do to them will be a sin and a shame," agreed "Red" Curry, he of the flaming mop, who was accustomed to play the "sun field" at the Polo Grounds.
"It's almost a crime to show them up before their home crowd," chimed in Iredell, the Giant shortstop.
But if the local club was in for a beating, they showed no special trepidation as they came out on the field for practice. If the haughty major leaguers had expected their humble adversaries to roll over and play dead in advance of the game itself, they were certainly doomed to disappointment.
The home team went through its preliminary work in a snappy, finished way that brought frequent applause from the crowds that thronged the stand.
Before the game, Brennan, of the Chicagos, sauntered over to Thorpe, the local manager, who chanced to be an old acquaintance.
"Got a dandy crowd here to-day, Bill," he said. "We ought to give them a run for their money. Suppose I lend you one of our star pitchers, just to make things more interesting."
"Thank you, Roger," Thorpe replied, with a slow smile, "but I think we're going to make it interesting for you fellows, anyway."
"Quit your kidding," grinned Brennan, with a facetious poke in the ribs, and strolled back to the bench.
The gong rang, the field cleared, and the visiting team came to the bat. Larry, who had finished the season in a blaze of glory as the leading batsman of the National League came up to the plate, swinging three bats. He threw away two of them, tapped his heels for luck and grinned complacently at the Denver pitcher.
"Trot out the best you've got, kid," he called, "and if you can put it over the plate I'll murder it."
BY A HAIR
The pitcher, a dark-skinned, rangy fellow, wound up deliberately and shot the ball over. It split the plate clean. Larry swung at it—and missed it by two inches.
He looked mildly surprised, but set it down to the luck of the game and squared himself for a second attempt. This time he figured on a curve, but the boxman out-guessed him with a slow one that floated up to the plate as big as a balloon.
Larry almost broke his back in reaching for it, but again fanned the air. The visiting players, who had looked on rather languidly, straightened up on the bench.
"Some class to that pitcher," ejaculated Willis.
"It isn't often that a bush leaguer makes a monkey out of Larry," replied Burkett.
"I've seen these minor league pitchers before," grinned "Red" Curry. "They start off like a house afire, but about the fifth inning they begin to crumple up."
The third ball pitched was a wide outcurve at which Larry refused to bite. He fouled off the next two and then swung savagely at a wicked drop that got away from him.
"You're out," called the umpire as the ball thudded into the catcher's mitt, and Larry came back a little sheepishly to his grinning comrades on the bench.
"What's the matter, Larry?" queried Iredell, as he moved up to make room for him. "Off your feed to-day?"
"You'll find out what the matter is when you face that bird," snorted Larry. "He's the real goods, and don't you forget it."
Denton, the second man in the batting order, took a ball and a strike, and then dribbled an easy roller to the box, which the swarthy pitcher had no trouble in getting to first on time.
Burkett, who followed, had better luck and sent a clean single between first and second. A shout went up from the Giant bench, which became a groan a moment later, when a snap throw by the pitcher nailed Burkett three feet off the bag.
The half inning had been smartly played and the Giants took the field with a slightly greater respect for their opponents.
Joe had pitched the day before, and it was up to Fraser to take his turn in the box. He walked out to his position with easy confidence. He was one of the best pitchers in either league, and it was he who had faced Joe in that last battle royal of the World's Series and had gone down defeated, but not disgraced.
But to-day from the start, it was evident that he was not himself. His speed was there and the curves, but control was lacking.
"Wild as a hawk," muttered McRae, as the first Denver man trotted down to base on balls.
"Can't seem to locate the plate at all," grunted Robbie.
"He'll pull himself together all right," remarked Brennan, hopefully.
But the prophecy proved false, and the next two men up waited him out and were also rewarded with passes. The bases were full without a hit having been made, and the crowds in the stand were roaring like mad.
Brennan from the coaching lines at first waved to Fraser and the latter, drawing off his glove, walked disgustedly to the bench.
"What's the matter with you to-day?" queried McRae. "You seemed to think the plate was up in the grandstand."
"Couldn't get the hang of it, somehow," Fraser excused himself. "Just my off day, I guess."
Hamilton succeeded him in the box, and from the way he started out it seemed as though he were going to redeem the poor work of his predecessor. He struck out the first man on three pitched balls, made the second send up a towering foul that Mylert caught after a long run, and the major leaguers began to breathe more freely.
"Guess he'll pull out of the hole all right," remarked Robbie.
But for the next batter, Hamilton, grown perhaps a trifle too confident, put one over in the groove, and the batter banged out a tremendous three-bagger to right field. Curry made a gallant try for it but could not quite reach.
Three runs came over the plate, while the panting batsman slid to third. The crowd in the stands went wild then, and Thorpe, the manager of the local team, grinned in a mocking way at Brennan.
"Is this interesting enough?" he drawled, referring to Brennan's patronizing offer to lend him a player.