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FRANK MERRIWELL'S RACES
BURT L. STANDISH
Author of "Frank Merriwell's Schooldays," "Frank Merriwell's Trip West," "Frank Merriwell's Chums," "Frank Merriwell's Foes," etc.
Philadelphia David McKay, Publisher 604-8 South Washington Square
Copyright, 1903 By Street & Smith
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER I. HORSE TALK. CHAPTER II. AN ADVENTURE ON THE ROAD. CHAPTER III. TEACHING A RASCAL A LESSON. CHAPTER IV. BIRDS OF A FEATHER. CHAPTER V. WHAT A HAIR CAN DO. CHAPTER VI. PRINCE AND THE EAVESDROPPER. CHAPTER VII. THE PLOT. CHAPTER VIII. TAKING CHANCES. CHAPTER IX. A STRONG ACCUSATION. CHAPTER X. A FIGHT AGAINST ODDS. CHAPTER XI. A MATTER OF SPECULATION. CHAPTER XII. THE CHALLENGE. CHAPTER XIII. THE WRESTLING MATCH. CHAPTER XIV. PLOTTING FUN. CHAPTER XV. THORNTON'S "MASH." CHAPTER XVI. ANOTHER CHALLENGE. CHAPTER XVII. PURE GRIT. CHAPTER XVIII. AFTER THE BOAT RACE. CHAPTER XIX. THE YALE SPIRIT. CHAPTER XX. SPURNING A BRIBE. CHAPTER XXI. ON THE SPECIAL TRAIN. CHAPTER XXII. THE FIGHT ON THE TRAIN. CHAPTER XXIII. SEEN AGAIN. CHAPTER XXIV. TWO WARNINGS. CHAPTER XXV. THE THEATRE PARTY. CHAPTER XXVI. TRAPPED. CHAPTER XXVII. AN EMISSARY FROM THE WEST. CHAPTER XXVIII. FRIENDS OR FOES. CHAPTER XXIX. TALK OF A TOUR. CHAPTER XXX. A HOT RUN. CHAPTER XXXI. AN INCENTIVE TO WIN. CHAPTER XXXII. THE RUN TO THE STATION. CHAPTER XXXIII. ENEMIES AT WORK. CHAPTER XXXIV. BASEBALL. CHAPTER XXXV. KIDNAPED. CHAPTER XXXVI. THE TOURNAMENT. CHAPTER XXXVII. TO VICTORY—CONCLUSION.
FRANK MERRIWELL'S RACES
"He's a beauty!"
Jack Diamond uttered the exclamation. He was admiring a horse Frank Merriwell had lately purchased.
"He is," agreed Danny Griswold, with his hands thrust deep into his trousers pockets and his short legs set far apart. "But think of paying a thousand dollars!"
"He looks like a racer," declared Bruce Browning, who showed unusual interest and animation for a fellow who was known as the laziest man at Yale.
"He's got the marks of a swift one," asserted Diamond, walking around the bay gelding, which Frank Merriwell had led out into the middle of the stable floor for inspection. "He is rangey, has clean limbs, and a courageous eye. I shouldn't wonder if he could cover ground in a hurry."
"I did not buy him for a racer," asserted Frank. "I purchased him as a saddle horse purely for my own use and pleasure."
"You must have money to burn," chirped Griswold. "Your old man must have made loads of it. I had an uncle four times removed once who made money, but he got arrested when he tried to pass it."
"That reminds me of my father and his partner," said Browning, with apparent seriousness. "They formed a strange sort of a partnership. One of them stayed in New York all the time, while the other remained in California. In this manner they managed always to have plenty of money between them."
"Oh, goodness!" gasped Diamond, "if you fellows keep this up, I shall want to get away."
"If you want to get a weigh, we'll try to find some scales for you," chuckled Griswold, his eyes twinkling.
"They say Dan Dorman's father has plenty of money," said Frank.
"I've heard so," admitted Browning. "But Dorman is too mean to make much of a drain on the old man's pile."
"That's right," nodded Griswold. "Why, he is so mean that in the winter, when his hair gets long, he wets it thoroughly, and then goes out in the open air and lets it freeze."
"What does he do that for?"
"So he can break it off and save the price of a hair-cut!"
"Say," cried Diamond, desperately, "I thought you fellows were talking about a horse!"
"No," yawned Browning, "we're talking about a jackass."
Every one but Jack seemed to appreciate this, for they all grinned.
"Well," said the lad from Virginia, "Merriwell has brought out his horse for us to inspect, and I move we do so. After this is over, you may talk of anything you please."
"It is rather remarkable that you should pay such a price for a mere saddle horse," declared Browning.
"I simply kept my promise," smiled Frank.
"The one I made to myself when this horse enabled me to overtake a runaway that was dragging Winifred Lee to danger and possible death. This is the animal on which I pursued the runaway, and I took him without asking leave of the owner. I vowed that if this horse enabled me to catch and stop the runaway before Miss Lee was harmed I would own the creature if it took my last dollar," he added.
"And that," cried Griswold, trying to strike a dramatic attitude—"that is true love!"
"Well, I don't know as I blame you, Merriwell," admitted Bruce. "Winifred Lee is a stunning girl. But it strikes me that the owner of the horse swindled you."
A bit of additional color had risen to Frank's cheeks, and he looked strikingly handsome. The boys knew it would not do to carry the joke about Winnie Lee too far, and so they refrained.
"The man who owned the horse did not want to sell him at any price," explained Frank. "I induced him to set a price that he thought would settle me, and then I snapped him up so quickly it took away his breath."
"I should think your guardian would have kicked at throwing up a thousand for such a purpose."
"He did," laughed Frank, looking at Diamond, who showed a little confusion. "You remember that Jack, Rattleton and myself went on to Springfield to meet him a few days ago?"
"And got arrested for kidnaping a baby!" chuckled Griswold. "That was a corker. We didn't do a thing to you fellows when you got back here!"
"That's right," admitted Jack, dolefully. "Not a thing! You simply marched us through the streets and onto the campus with a band and banners and made a stunning show of us!"
"Well," said Frank, "Professor Scotch, my guardian, was so glad to get out of the scrape when the judge discharged us that he gave up the thousand without a flutter. That's how I got the money."
"Well," yawned Browning, "now you have the horse, you'll find him an expensive piece of furniture. It takes money to take care of 'em and feed 'em."
Diamond had been inspecting the gelding from all sides, surveying him with the air of one who knows something about horses, and he now asked:
"Has the creature a pedigree, old man?"
"Sure," nodded Frank. "Its pedigree is all right. I have it somewhere, but I don't care so much for that."
"Oh, I don't know! It may prove of value to you some day."
"Well, you may take a fancy to enter Nemo in a race or two."
"If he should win, you'll want his pedigree."
"I suppose that is right, but I am no sportsman of the turf; that is professional. Amateur sports are good enough for me."
"Honest horse racing is one of the grandest sports in the world!" cried Jack, with flashing eyes.
"Honest horse racing!" laughed Griswold. "What's that? Where do you find anything like that?"
"Oh, there is such a thing."
"There may be, but people are not used to it."
"That's why I do not think much of horse racing," declared Frank. "There are too many tricks to it to suit me."
"Oh, there are tricks to any sort of sport."
"Very few to college sports. If a man is caught at anything crooked it means ruin for his college career, and he is sure to carry the stigma through life. I tell you college sports are honest, and that is why they are so favored by people of taste and refinement—people who care little or nothing for professional sports. The public sees the earnestness, the honesty, and the manhood in college sports and contests, and the patrons of such sports know they are not being done out of their money by a fake. Prize fighting in itself is not so bad, but the class of men who follow it have brought disgrace and disrepute upon it. Fights are 'fixed' in advance by these dishonest scoundrels, and the man who backs his judgment with his money is likely to be done out of his coin by the dirtiest kind of a deal."
"What makes me sore," said Diamond, "is that some sensational newspapers should send professional bruisers to witness our college football games and denounce them as more brutal than prize fights."
"That makes me a trifle warm under the collar," admitted Browning. "But I don't suppose we should mind what that class of papers say. Their motto is 'Anything for a sensation,' and the intelligent portion of the newspaper readers is onto them. These papers have faked so many things that they carry no weight when they do tell the truth."
"I wouldn't mind putting Nemo into a race just to see what sort of stuff there is in him," admitted Frank.
"Why don't you do it?" cried Diamond, eagerly.
"I wouldn't want to enter him in any of the races around here."
"Take him to New York."
"No; those races are beyond my limit. All I want to do is try him for my own satisfaction."
"Then run him into the Mystic Park races at Bethany. You can do that quietly enough."
"That's so," said Browning. "You can do that without attracting too much attention to yourself."
"We'll all go up and see the race," declared Griswold. "It will be great sport. Do it, old man!"
"But where can I get a jockey I can trust?"
"You'll have to scrub around for one, and take chances."
"No!" cried Merriwell, as a sudden thought struck him. "I can do better than that."
"I have the fellow."
"A colored boy at home. He is fond of horses."
"Has he ever ridden in a race?"
"Did he win?"
"Once. My uncle, who kindly left me his fortune, was a crank on fast horses, and he owned a number of them. Toots could ride some of them that would allow nobody else to mount them. Uncle Asher had horses in the races every year, but he was often 'done' by his jockeys. He knew it well enough, but he found it impossible to get the sort of jockey he wanted. Toots begged to ride a race, but he was a little shaver, and uncle was afraid. Finally, one day, just before a race was to come off, Uncle Asher discovered that his jockey had sold out. At the last moment he fired the fellow, and was forced to let Toots ride, or withdraw his horse. Toots rode, and won. The next time he rode he might have won, but the horse was doped."
"He's just the chap you want!" nodded Jack, with satisfaction. "Put Nemo into the Bethany races, and let Toots ride him."
"I'll think of it," said Frank.
A hostler approached the group.
"Howdy do, Mr. Merriwell, sir?" he said. "One of your friends called to see your horse this morning, sir."
"One of my friends?" cried Frank, in surprise. "Who was it?"
"He gave his name as Diamond, sir—Jack Diamond."
Merriwell immediately turned on Jack and asked:
"Hello, how about this? Did you call to see Nemo this morning?"
"Not much!" exclaimed Jack. "This is the first time I have been here. The hostler is mistaken."
"You must have misunderstood your visitor, Grody," said Frank. "He could not have given his name as Jack Diamond, for this is Jack Diamond here."
The man stared at Jack, and then shook his head.
"That's not the feller," he declared.
"Of course not. Your visitor must have given you some other name."
"Not on your life," returned Grody, promptly. "He said his name was Jack Diamond, sir, and I will swear to that."
"Well, this is somewhat interesting!" came grimly from Frank. "What did he do, Grody?"
"He looked Nemo over, sir."
"Looked Nemo over how—in what way?"
"Why, I offered to take Nemo out of the stall, but he said no, not to bother, as he only wished to glance at the horse. He went to the stall, which same I showed him, and looked in. The door wasn't locked, for I had just been cleanin' the stall out. He opened the door and stood there some little time. First thing I knew he was gone. I went and looked into the stall, and he was examinin' Nemo's feet. He seemed wonderful interested in the horse, and I saw by the way he acted he knew something about horses."
"The interest deepens," observed Frank. "Go on, Grody."
"When he came out of the stall he says to me, says he, 'Merriwell has struck a right good piece of horseflesh there.' Says I, 'In the best of my judgment he has, sir.' Says he, 'I understand he paid a fancy figure for the gelding, something like a thousand, he told me.' Says I, 'If he told you that I have no doubt he told you correct, sir.' Then says he, 'Does he mean to race him?' 'That,' says I, 'bein' a friend of Mr. Merriwell, is something what you should know as well as I, or better.' Then he says, says he, 'Horses is mighty uncertain property, for you never can tell what may happen to them.' In this I agreed with him, but there was something about him I didn't like much. Then he went away."
"This is highly interesting," exclaimed Frank. "What did this fellow look like, Grody? Can you describe him?"
"Well, I looked him over rather careful like, sir, but I don't know as I can describe him particular, except that he had on a checked suit and wore a red necktie, in which were a blazer, genuine, or to the contrary. I know horses, but I'm no judge of diamonds. He was smooth shaved, and his jaw were rather square and his hair short. The eyes of him never looked straight at me once. Somehow I didn't think he were a student, for he made one or two breaks in the words he said that made his talk different from your student's. He didn't have that sort of real gentleman way with him neither."
Frank turned to his friends.
"Now what do you suppose this business means, fellows?" he asked.
"It means crookedness!" declared Diamond, rather excitedly. "I am dead sure of that!"
"It looks that way," admitted Browning.
"But what sort of crookedness can it mean?" asked Frank, bewildered. "What is the game?"
"That will develop later; but there is some kind of a game on, be sure of that," asserted Jack. "If not, why should anybody come here and give a fictitious name? That gives the whole thing away. Look out, Frank, all your enemies are not sleeping!"
"Well, it is time they let up on me," said Merriwell, seriously. "They have brought nothing but disaster and disgrace on themselves thus far, and——"
"Some of them are looking for revenge, mark what I say."
"I am tired of being bothered and harassed by petty enemies!" exclaimed Frank. "I have had considerable patience with the fellows who have worked against me, but there is a limit."
"That's right, and they would have reached the limit with me long ago," declared Diamond.
"Well, it is like this, Jack," said Frank; "it is almost always true that not all of a man's enemies are bad fellows. To begin with, you remember that you were my enemy, and now we are friends, and this is not the first time such a thing has happened with me."
"Well, if a man were bucking against me, I do not think I would wait to see how he would turn out before I bucked back."
"Oh, I am not in the habit of doing that. You will remember that I bucked back pretty hard in your case."
Jack did remember it, and he felt that Merriwell was capable of holding his own with his foes.
"You will do well to look out for your horse, all the same," said Diamond.
"That's right," grunted Browning. "If I were in your place, Merriwell, I'd watch out pretty sharp."
"I will," said Frank. "I'll have Toots come on here and keep watch over Nemo most of the time. When he is not here, Grody can take his place. If I have an enemy who thinks of stealing my horse, he'll have hard work to accomplish his design."
"Unless he does it before you get things arranged," said Griswold. "Put him up, Merriwell, and let's get out."
"I am going for a ride," said Frank. "Put the saddle on him, Grogan. Will see you later, fellows, if you are going now."
"We'll wait till you leave," yawned Browning. "There's no reason why we should tear our clothes hurrying away."
"You are not liable to tear your clothes doing anything," laughed Frank.
AN ADVENTURE ON THE ROAD.
Grody soon had Nemo saddled and bridled. The horse was eager to be away, as he showed by his tossing head, fluttering nostrils and restless feet.
"Whoa, boy," said Frank, soothingly. "Don't be so impatient. We'll get away in a moment."
He swung into the saddle, the stable doors rolled open, and away sprang the gelding.
The remaining lads hurried out of the stable to watch Frank ride, Grody accompanying them.
"He seems like he were a part of the horse," declared the hostler, admiringly. "That young gentleman were born to handle horses, he were."
"He is, indeed, a graceful rider," nodded Diamond. "I am sure he did not learn in any riding academy, for he rides naturally. The riding academies all turn out riders with an artificial and wooden style. There is no more distressing sight than the riders to be seen in Central Park, New York, almost any afternoon. They bounce around in the saddle like a lot of wooden figures, and it is plain enough that many of them do not bounce because they want to, but because they think it the proper thing. Southerners ride naturally and gracefully. Mr. Merriwell rides like a Southerner."
"He rides like Buffalo Bill," said Browning, with an effort. "Bill is the best rider I ever saw."
Diamond was watching Merriwell and the horse, a queer look on his face. Finally he exclaimed:
"By Jove! there's something the matter with Nemo!"
"What is it?" asked Griswold. "I didn't notice anything."
"The horse shows a suspicion of lameness," asserted Jack.
"You have good eyes to detect it," observed Browning, doubtingly. "I can't see that anything is the matter with the horse."
"I'll wager he goes lame before Merriwell returns."
"If he does, I shall think you have great discernment."
Merriwell turned a corner and disappeared.
"Come, fellows," said Griswold, "let's shuffle along."
"Merriwell is altogether too generous," declared Diamond, as the trio walked away.
"In what way?" asked Browning.
"With his enemies. I know you and I were both enemies to him in the beginning, and——"
"He threw us down hard."
"That's all right; but there are enemies you have to hold down."
"Merriwell didn't do a thing to Hartwick!" exclaimed Griswold, grinning. "He scared the fellow so he ran away from college, and nobody knows where he went."
"Yes, but Merriwell gave him the opportunity to skip and escape the disgrace that must follow public exposure of his acts. Some fellows would have exposed him and brought about his expulsion."
"That's right," chirped Griswold. "Merriwell was as generous with Hartwick as he could be with such a fellow. He might have used him much worse than he did."
"And do you fancy Hartwick thinks any more of Merriwell for not exposing him publicly?" asked Jack.
"Oh. I don't know."
"Well, I will wager that he does not. More than that, I'll venture that Hartwick, wherever he may be, cherishes a fierce desire for revenge, and longs for the day when he will be able to get back at Frank. Merry will hear from that chap again."
And there the subject was dropped.
Frank enjoyed the ride upon Nemo's back, for the horse seemed intelligent and something of a comrade. The boy talked to his mount as if the animal could understand every word he uttered.
He had ridden beyond the limits of the city before he noticed that Nemo was limping the least bit.
"What's the matter, old fellow?" asked Frank, with concern. "Have you hurt yourself some way?"
Nemo shook his head. It almost seemed that the animal was answering the question in the negative.
"You must have stepped on a stone," Merriwell declared. "Why, you are really beginning to limp in earnest!"
Frank immediately dismounted, after having decided it was Nemo's left hind leg or foot that was lame.
"I'll make an inspection, and see if I can discover what is the matter," said the boy, anxiously.
He examined both of the horse's hind feet, but could not see that anything was wrong.
"If that rascally shoer has blundered in his work he'll not get another chance at you, boy," Merriwell declared.
After patting Nemo's neck and fondling the fine creature a bit, Frank mounted once more.
But Nemo limped worse than ever.
"This is singular," muttered the perplexed lad. "I don't understand it at all. There's something wrong, for a fact."
He watched the horse, and decided that he had made no mistake in locating the lameness in the left hind leg.
Again he dismounted and made an examination, and again the result was far from satisfactory.
"I wish you might speak and tell me what is the matter," said Frank, in dismay. "I'll have you examined without delay by somebody who knows his business."
He rode slowly into the outskirts of the city.
Of a sudden there was a rattle of wheels and a clatter of hoofs behind him.
He turned and looked back, to see a carriage coming along the road at a reckless rate. Two persons were seated in the carriage, and the horse was covered with sweat.
"Why are those fools driving like that?" muttered Merriwell. "Are they drunk, or is it a matter of life or death?"
"Get out of the road!"
The command was hoarsely shouted, and Frank reined aside, having no desire to get in the way of the reckless driver.
Once more the boy on the horse turned to look back.
"Drunk, sure enough," he decided. "And they are two young fellows, too. Students on a tear, perhaps."
The occupants of the carriage had been drinking heavily, but they were not so drunk that they did not recognize the boy in advance when he turned in the saddle the second time.
"Hey, Rolf!" exclaimed the one who was not driving. "It's Merriwell!"
"That's what it is!" cried the driver. "I haven't seen him for some time, but I know his face too well to ever forget it!"
"He's out on his new horse."
"Run him down! run him down! Throw him off! Now's our chance!"
The driver was just intoxicated enough to be utterly reckless of consequences, and he snarled:
"Hang me if I don't do it!"
And then, when they were very near the boy and the horse, he suddenly reined toward Frank with the intention of running into Merriwell's mount.
In another moment there might have been a grand smash there on the road, but Frank had caught the words "Run him down!" and he gave Nemo a light cut with the whip, at the same time pulling him still farther into the ditch.
Nemo was not used to the whip, and he leaped like a flash. Such a spring would have unseated any but a most expert rider, but the boy in the saddle seemed to move as a part of the horse. Into the ditch they went, and past them spun the carriage containing the two reckless young men.
The carriage came very near upsetting. It careened and spun along on two wheels, threatening to hurl its occupants into the ditch, for the driver had reined the horse back toward the middle of the road. Both clung on for life.
"Don't blame me!" muttered Merriwell, through his teeth. "You were looking for a smash."
But the carriage did not go over; it righted at last. One of the young men looked back and shook his fist at the boy on the horse, and then away they went in a cloud of dust.
"If that was not Evan Hartwick, I am greatly mistaken!" exclaimed Frank, as he reined Nemo back into the road. "So he is back here as soon as this? I know what that means. He is looking for revenge on me."
Frank had seen the face of the driver as the carriage spun past, and he added:
"Hartwick's companion is somebody I know. I did not obtain a fair look at him, but—great Scott! it was the card sharp, Rolf Harlow!"
Harlow was a fellow who had entered Harvard, but had not completed his second year there, leaving suddenly for reasons not generally known.
A Yale man by the name of Harris, familiarly known as "Sport," because of his gambling inclinations, had known Harlow, and had introduced him to a number of Yale students.
Harris and Harlow were both poker players, but they claimed that they played the game "merely for amusement."
A number of Harris' acquaintances had been induced to enter into the game, and there had been some very "hot sittings."
No one seemed to suspect that Harlow was crooked, for he almost always lost, although he never lost large sums.
Harris won almost continually. He seemed to be the luckiest fellow in the world in drawing cards. He would hold up one ace on a large jackpot and catch two more aces and a small pair. It seemed the greatest kind of "bull luck."
Harry Rattleton, Merriwell's roommate, was following the game. Frank tried to induce him to keep away, but it was without avail.
Then Frank seemed to take an interest in the game, and it was not long before he proved that Harlow was a card manipulator, and caught him at one of his tricks.
That finished Harlow's career at plucking Yale "fruit," and the fellow left New Haven suddenly.
Harris had remained under a cloud of suspicion since that time, as there seemed very little doubt but he had been in league with Harlow, and they had divided the plunder between them.
The proof had not been sufficient to incriminate Harris, but it had been enough to make him unpopular and cause him to be shunned.
He had seemed to take this very meekly, but some of Merriwell's friends declared that Harris had not forgotten or forgiven, and that he would strike back at Frank if the opportunity ever presented.
Now Harlow was back in New Haven, and Hartwick, who had been forced to leave college to escape expulsion, was also there.
That meant something.
"Hartwick, Harlow and Harris—the three hard tickets. They are birds of a feather. All they need is Ditson to make a most delectable quartet!"
So muttered Frank Merriwell, as he gazed at the receding cloud of dust.
Frank began to realize that there was more trouble in store for him.
"I shall not deal gently with that gang this time," he declared, with a hard-set face. "This little adventure has put me on my guard, and I don't propose to let them have much fun with me. Those two fools were just full enough to drive right into me with the hope of doing me an injury, without a thought of their own necks. They might have been thrown out and killed, but they did not hesitate because of that. The one thought was to do me some way—any way. Hartwick always was a desperate fellow, but I did not fancy Harlow could be such a chap. However, he was driving that horse, and the way he drove was proof enough that he is careless of life and limb at times."
For some time Frank paid very little attention to Nemo, but the lameness of the horse became so pronounced at last that he could not help observing it once more.
"That worries me, old fellow," he admitted, with a troubled face. "It is something I can't understand."
He rode slowly back to the stable.
It was growing dark when he arrived at the stable. A strange man was standing outside as Frank rode up. The man looked keenly at the boy and the horse, and then, as the doors rolled open, followed into the stable.
"Horse is lame, eh?" he said, questioningly. "I didn't notice that when he went out. He wasn't lame then, was he?"
Frank paid not the least attention to this question. The man was a stranger, and the boy did not care to talk with him.
"I spotted that horse when yer rode out, young man," the stranger persisted. "Fine lookin' critter—just the kind I've been wantin' some time for a saddle horse. Whose critter is it?"
"Grody," said Frank, utterly ignoring the man, "I want you to see if you can tell what ails Nemo. He is lame in one of his hind feet. He was taken that way after I had been out a while. I think it possible there is something the matter with the way he is shod. Will you look after him without delay?"
"To be sure, sir—I'll not fail, sir," said Grody.
"Then the horse belongs ter you, does it?" asked the strange man, coming forward and addressing Frank in a point-blank manner. "I am a horseman, and I know all about critters. If there's anything the matter—and there seems to be—I can tell what it is in five minutes. Shall I make an examination, young man?"
"No, sir!" came sharply from Merriwell's lips. "I do not propose to have strangers fooling around my horse. I do not know you, sir, so your offer is respectfully declined."
TEACHING A RASCAL A LESSON.
"Now hold on, young man, don't be so fast," said the stranger. "You do not know me now, and I don't blame yer fer not wantin' anybody yer don't know doing anything fer yer horse; but here's my card—Professor James Colbath—and now I know you have heard of me. I am one of the greatest veterinary surgeons in the country."
Frank ignored the card, and the man began to show signs of anger.
"This is no bluff!" he exclaimed. "It's on the level. I have nary doubt but I can find out what's the matter with the critter in five minutes, and if I don't give yer a square deal I don't want a cent for my services, that's all."
He would have lifted one of Nemo's feet, but Frank cried:
"Drop that! I tell you I don't want you, and I won't have you! Get away from this horse!"
The man growled and stiffened up.
"All right," he said, somewhat savagely. "I did think of trying to buy the critter off yer, but you're too flip. If the animal stays lame, don't blame me."
Although Frank had seemed to pay very little attention to the stranger, he was inspecting him closely. He saw the man had pulled his hat down over his eyes, and wore his coat collar turned up. He had a black beard that concealed his features to a great extent.
Grody was also looking the stranger over closely. He fancied he detected a familiar sound in the man's voice. The light in the stable was rather dim, and that served to make the inspection of the boy and the hostler rather unsatisfactory.
All at once, Grody started as if struck by a sudden idea. As soon as possible, he whispered in Frank's ear:
"That mug is the same chap that were here this afternoon, sir."
"The same chap? What chap?"
"The one what gave his name as Diamond."
"No? You said that fellow had no beard."
"I don't believe this man's beard is all right."
Frank was aroused. He fancied that he saw a ray of light.
The fellow who had called himself Professor Colbath turned away. He had heard the hostler whisper, and he caught Frank's question. Immediately he showed a desire to get out.
Leaving the horse to Grody, Frank quickly placed himself before the stranger, saying:
"Hold on a minute. I don't know but I'll talk with you a little."
"No, yer won't!" growled the man. "I'm done tryin' to talk with a fresh youngster like you—I'm done with you."
"Well, I am not done with you!"
Frank's voice rang out sharp and stern.
"What do you want?" asked the man, uneasily.
"I want to see your face."
"Well, look at it, and when ye've seen it I'll proceed to smash yours! I don't take no insolence from a kid!"
"Take off your hat!"
"And that beard—take it off!"
"Ye're crazy!" cried the man, as he started back.
Frank gave a spring and a grab with both hands. One hand snatched away the cap, and the other tore off the black beard, which, indeed, proved to be false.
The man uttered an exclamation of rage, and struck at Frank, who dodged the blow.
"Is this the fellow, Grody?" cried Frank.
"The same mug!" declared the hostler, excitedly.
"Well, that's all I want to know!" burst from Frank, as he flung the hat and beard to the floor. "So you were monkeying around my horse to-day, you fakir! Well, what you need is a pair of good black eyes, and I propose to give them to you!"
Snap!—off came the boy's jacket in a twinkling, and he still stood between the unmasked man and the door.
The man, who was a coarse-looking young ruffian, ground his teeth and uttered some violent language.
"Git out the way!" he snarled. "I'm a fighter, and I'll kill yer! I can put yer ter sleep with one punch!"
Merriwell's blood was thoroughly stirred, and he felt just like teaching the fellow a lesson. Although a youth in years, Frank was, as my old readers know, a trained athlete, and he could handle his fists in the most scientific manner.
"I am going to give you a chance to put me to sleep," he shot back. "I see your dirty game from start to finish! You are a fakir of the worst sort, and you tried to work me. You did something to my horse to make him lame, and you thought you would get a fat pull out of me for doctoring him. Instead of that, you have run your head into a bad scrape, and it will be damaged when you get it out."
"You talk big for a kid. Why, I can blow yer over with my breath."
"It is strong enough. But I don't go over so easy. Up with your hands if you are such a fighter! I'm coming for you!"
"All right! If ye're bound to have it, come on!"
The man put up his guard, and then Merriwell went at him, while Grody gasped for breath, thinking the college lad could be no match for the young ruffian.
There were a few swift passes, and then Frank went under the fellow's guard and gave him a terrific uppercut on the chin. That was a staggerer, and the boy followed it up while the man was dazed.
Punk!—biff!—two blows, one on the body and the other fairly in the eye.
The second blow nearly knocked the man down, and it made him as fierce as a famished tiger. Snarling like an enraged beast, he tried to close in on the lively lad.
"Oh, let me get hold of you!" he grated. "I'll crush the life out of ye!"
Frank avoided the rush by stepping aside, and gave the fellow another body blow as he passed.
Body blows, however, were not as effective as they should have been, on account of the fellow's clothing, and Merriwell quickly decided to waste no more energy in that manner.
The man turned, and went for Frank again. This time the boy did not try to get out of the way, but he met his antagonist squarely, and gave him a heavy one in the other eye.
"That ought to make them mates," said Frank, with a laugh. "You won't know yourself when you look in the glass to-morrow morning. Perhaps it'll teach you better than to try any of your rackets on a boy. You can't always tell what you are getting up against."
The man's teeth could be heard grinding together. He was so furious that he quite lost his head. Then Frank sailed in to finish the affair as soon as possible.
Grody held his breath, nearly bursting with astonishment and admiration.
"Oh, say!" he chuckled. "I never saw a youngster what were that fellow's match! He's hot stuff!"
The hostler could scarcely believe it possible that Merriwell was giving the scoundrel a first-class whipping, but this became more and more evident with each passing moment.
In fact, Frank was struck just once during the entire encounter, and that was a glancing blow on the forehead, which he scarcely noticed. He thumped the rascal to his heart's satisfaction, and then knocked him flat with a round-arm swing that landed on the jaw.
The ruffian lay on the floor and groaned. When he started to get up Merriwell exclaimed:
"There, I think that will do you for to-night! When you want some more of the same just come fooling around my horse!"
He caught the man by the shoulders, yanked him to his feet, ran him to the door, and booted him out of the stable.
Having done this, Frank turned back and coolly put on his coat.
"There, Grody," he said, "I feel better. I think it is possible I have given that rascal a lesson he will not forget in a hurry."
The hostler stared, and then he cried:
"Mr. Merriwell, sir, you are a wonder! If as how you were to go inter ther ring you'd make some of the duffers hustle. That were the neatest job what I ever see!"
"It was not so much of a trick," declared Frank. "The fellow is strong, I'll warrant, but he is too heavy on his feet and too slow in his movements. There are scores of fellows in college who can polish him off."
"I will allow I never knowed you college chaps were able to fight like that before. I knowed some of you were for fighting among yourselves all right, but I didn't think you could go up against a reg'ler scrapper."
"It's a part of the education at Yale," smiled Frank; "and I've found it comes in handy occasionally. The man who can't fight his way through this world in one manner or another gets walked over by chaps who are not his equal in any other way. I do not believe a man should fight only at the proper time, but when he has to fight, I hold that he should be able to do a good turn at it."
"Well, you can do your turn all right, sir."
"Now, Grody, Nemo must receive proper attention. I am sure that fellow did something to make the horse lame. What he did I can't tell. I don't see how he did it without getting his brains kicked out."
Grody hesitated, and then he said:
"Mr. Merriwell, sir, I wants to tell ye something."
"All right, Grody, go on."
"I didn't tell all what happened in the stall to-day when that bloke were here."
"Oh, you didn't?"
"No, sir. What called my attention to the fact that he had gone inter the stall were a racket."
"What sort of a racket?"
"Nemo kicked and squealed, sir, and I heard the man speaking to him. Then I ran over and looked in."
"What was the rascal doing, Grody?"
"He were examinin' Nemo's feet, sir."
"And that was when he got in his dirty work!" cried Frank, angrily. "I'm afraid I didn't thump him as much as he deserved! I feel like hunting him up and giving him a few more!"
BIRDS OF A FEATHER.
In a little back room of a saloon three young men were sitting. They were talking earnestly, for all that two of the three showed they had taken altogether too much liquor to be entirely sober.
"We're glad to see you, Sport," one of the drinkers declared.
"Well, I am glad to see you, Harlow, old man, and you, too, Hartwick, although we were never friendly before you left Yale so suddenly."
"That was my fault," admitted Hartwick, huskily. "I didn't know enough to pick out the right sort of pals. I trusted too much to Ditson. He's no good!"
"Now there is where you make a mistake," asserted Sport Harris, quickly. "I know Ditson has no nerve, but he hates the same fellow we hate, and he is good to do the dirty work. We can make use of him, Hartwick."
"I don't know anything about him," confessed Harlow.
"No, he hasn't the nerve to play poker, and so you did not get acquainted with him when you were here."
"I don't know that he hates Merriwell so much," growled Hartwick. "You remember that Ditson blowed everything to Merriwell, and that is why I was forced to skip. Oh, I'd like the satisfaction of punching the face off the dirty little traitor!"
"But what caused Ditson to blow? He says you misused him."
"I choked the cad a little, that is all."
"But there was something back of that," declared Harris. "What led you to choke him?"
"Oh, we had a little trouble. He was trying to squeeze me too hard, and I wouldn't stand for it."
"Trying to squeeze you?"
"Well, I don't mind telling you. You know I tried to mark Merriwell for life by punching my foil through the mask that protected his face while we were engaged in a fencing bout. I had prepared my foil for that in advance by fixing the button so I could remove it, and by sharpening the point of the foil. I wanted to spoil the fellow's pretty face!"
The most malignant hatred was expressed in Hartwick's words and manner. He went on:
"I tried the trick, but did not succeed. Ditson carried off the foil, and kept it. He would not give it up, although he promised to a hundred times. He used it to aid in blackmailing me. When he asked me for money, I did not feel like refusing him, for he could throw me down hard by turning the foil over to Merriwell. But he carried the thing too far.
"One night when I was in a bad mood he tried to squeeze more money out of me. He had been living in luxury for some time, while I was broke almost continually. I kicked and refused to give up. Then he had the insolence to threaten me with exposure. I lost my head and choked him. Directly after that he turned like a viper and blowed everything to Merriwell. That was my downfall. I had to skip. Is there any reason why I should not hate the sneak?"
"No, I do not wonder that you are sore on him; but he did not make anything out of the trick."
"Didn't make anything! Why, he forced me out of college!"
"That was not the main thing he was looking for."
"Then what was?"
"He hoped to get in with Merriwell, and he fancied Merriwell would think him a fine fellow for blowing."
"Well, he made a mistake in Frank Merriwell, for Merriwell despised him all the more, although he did nothing to injure Ditson. He does not recognize Ditson at all, and now Ditson is more eager than before to do Merriwell an injury."
"All the same, Ditson can't be trusted."
"Not unless he is so deep in the game that it means ruin for him to blow. Then he is caught. As I said in the first place, he is a good man to do the dirty work that we do not want to touch."
"I think Harris is right," nodded Harlow, "and you may get a chance to even up with Ditson by throwing him down when we have fixed Merriwell nicely."
"But you want to remember you are going up against a bad man in Frank Merriwell," warned Sport. "I do not care to be forced out of Yale."
"Of course not," said Hartwick and Harlow.
"You fellows have not so much to look out for. You can do things that would be beyond me."
"We made a bluff at doing something to-day," growled Hartwick. "We were out for a drive, and we came upon Merriwell. He was on his new horse, and we tried to run him down, but he got out of the way."
"I don't know but it is a good thing he did," confessed Harlow. "If we had struck him there'd been a general smashup. I was driving, and we were making the old nag hit a hot pace. We came near going bottom up as it was."
"You must have been badly rattled," exclaimed Harris.
"Oh, I don't know," laughed Hartwick, harshly. "We've been up against it for the past three days. Eh, Harlow?"
"That's what," nodded the card sharp. "Hartwick is a hard man to follow. He can kill more stuff than anybody I ever saw."
"Well," said Harris, "I have asked Ditson to come in here this evening. I took a chance on it, for I thought we could get rid of him easily enough if we didn't want him. He is liable to be along at any moment."
Harlow looked at a handsome watch.
"A quarter to ten," he said. "He ought to be around soon if he is coming at all."
"He will be. Where'd you get that ticker, old man?"
"Oh, I took it off a sucker in a game. I'll have to soak it if I don't strike some sort of graft pretty soon. I'm getting down to hard pan."
"I suppose you are all right, Hartwick?" questioned Harris. "You can call on your old man and make him give up any time."
"Well, I guess not! I haven't been able to get a dollar out of the old duffer since I left college. He is icy toward me, and he says I can go it for myself and be hanged."
"That's pleasant! What have you been doing to gather in the coin?"
"Why, confound it! haven't I formed a partnership with Harlow! I don't know anything about card tricks, but he works all of that, and I win the money. He gives me the hands to do it on, you see. If there is suspicion aroused, the poor suckers take to watching me, and they are unable to catch me at anything crooked. Our only trouble is to find the right sort of fruit for plucking. We generally pretend we are strangers to each other. Sometimes we have a little disagreement over the table, just to fool the fools all the more."
"That's first-rate," laughed Harris. "I wish the gang here was not onto Harlow. I could get you some ripe plums."
"And that's what made me so sore on Merriwell," growled Harlow. "But for that fellow we'd be right in it now. Oh, I want to soak him some way, and soak him hard!"
"And we'll find a way to soak him, too!" growled Hartwick. "Let's have another round, fellows."
He pushed a button and a waiter appeared. Drinks were ordered. When they were brought, Ditson came in with the waiter.
"Hello, Roll!" called Harris. "Glad you came along. Mr. Ditson, Mr. Harlow. I think you have met the other gentleman."
Ditson started and turned pale when he saw Hartwick, who was glowering at him.
"Oh, yes! Mr. Ditson has met me!" said Evan, significantly. "We do not need an introduction!"
Ditson seemed on the point of getting out in a hurry, but Harris arose and took him by the arm.
"It's all right," he assured. "Sit down, Roll."
"What sort of a game is this?" hesitatingly asked Ditson, keeping his eyes on Hartwick. "Have you fellows got me in here to do me up?"
"Nothing of the sort."
"Not but I'd like to do you, and do you good," confessed Hartwick, "but Harris won't have it."
"No," said Sport; "I hold that we are all united by our hatred for a common foe, and we cannot afford to be anything but friends."
"All the same, it was a dirty deal you gave me, Ditson," growled Evan, who seemed to be longing to pick a row with the newcomer.
"You forced me into it," declared Ditson, weakly.
"How was that?"
"You know well enough. You set on me like a mad tiger, and I'll bet you would have choked me to death in your room if you hadn't been seized with one of your attacks of heart trouble. I was afraid of you, and I had to do something to protect myself."
"So you blew the whole thing to Merriwell! That was a brave trick. But I understand Merriwell has turned you down in great shape since that."
"Well, he hasn't used me right," admitted Ditson. "Sometimes I think I'd like to kick the wind out of him, but I know I can't do it."
"You may have the chance to take the wind out of him," said Harris. "Sit down, old man, and we will talk matters over. What are you drinking?"
"Bring me a sherry flip, waiter," ordered Ditson, seeing the waiter had paused outside.
Then he sat down in a chair offered him, saying:
"If there's any sure way of doing Merriwell up, I'm in for it; but I give it to you straight that I am sick of trying to do him and having him come out on top. It's got to be a sure thing this time, or I don't touch it."
Beyond a thin partition in a room next to the one occupied by the four plotters sat a man who had a cut and bruised face and a pair of swollen black eyes.
This man had been drinking heavily. A bottle of whiskey and a glass sat on the little table before him. He was alone in the room.
He had seemed to suddenly lose all interest in the whiskey, and he was leaning against the board partition with his ear close to a crack, intently listening to the talk of the four lads in the next room.
The man had heard Frank Merriwell's name spoken, and that was the first thing to attract his attention to what the occupants of the next room were saying.
"That's the fellow!" muttered the man, hoarsely. "He's the one what gave me these beautiful peepers and pretty mug! I'll give him something worse than this before long."
Then he decided to listen.
"Wonder if them chaps is his friends? I'll jest see what they're sayin' about him."
It was not long before the man was able to hear enough to satisfy him that the lads in the next room were anything but friends of Frank Merriwell, and he listened with fresh eagerness.
He heard Ditson come in with the waiter, and caught much of the conversation that followed. Then Ditson sat down, and the plotters lowered their voices.
"That settles it!" exclaimed the man. "I'm goin' right in there and see if they don't want to take me inter the gang. Them college ducks will be jest the fellers to help me in gettin' back at Frank Merriwell."
He got up, left the little room, and went around to the door of the other room. Without stopping to knock, he opened the door and walked in.
"H'waryer," he saluted, as the four lads stared at him in amazement. "My name's Mike Hogan, and I want ter join in with ther push."
"Get out of here, you bum!" cried Hartwick, fiercely. "You are intruding on a private party."
"Hold hard, young feller!" returned the fellow who had given his name as Mike Hogan. "Don't call me a bum! I'm onto your curves, and there ain't no reason why you and me shouldn't be friends."
"Friends!" exclaimed Hartwick—"friends! Well, I prefer to choose my friends."
"And you didn't make much of a success when you chose a young gent here what is named Ditson. Keep yer seat!"
"Press the button, Harlow, and we'll have this fellow thrown out!" came savagely from Hartwick's lips.
"Wait a minute before you press the button," urged Mike Hogan. "Do you see this face?"
"It's a peach, now, ain't it?"
"You can consider yourself lucky if it isn't worse than that when you get out of here, my man."
"Don't 'my man' me, young feller! I don't like it! Do yer know who give me this face and these two beautiful eyes?"
"No, and we——"
"Well, I'll tell yer who it was. It was a feller what goes by the name of Frank Merriwell."
"Well, he did a first-class job," commented Harris. "That really looks like some of Merriwell's work."
"He done it," nodded Mike. "Nacherlly I ain't got no love to speak of for him. Well, I was in the room next to this just now, and as I was leanin' against the partition I happened to overhear what you chaps was sayin' in here. From what I heard, I judged you didn't love this Merriwell none to brag about, and I says to myself, 'Mike, if you want to get even, them is the boys to hitch fast to.' Then I got right up and came in here without bein' invited. I hope you'll excuse me, gents, but I couldn't help it under the circumstances. I had a sort of feller-feelin' for you chaps, and I thought mebbe we might arrange some sort of a deal together that would do this Merriwell, and do him for keeps. I'm not a chap with much education, but I'll bet anything I can hate just as hard as you fellers, and if there's anybody I hate on the earth, it's Frank Merriwell.
"There, now, gents, you have heard what I have ter say, and I hope you'll tumble ter ther fact that I am on the level. This is no case of stringing. I want ter pay back that feller for these two black eyes and this mug. Mebbe you can help me to do it, and I can help you to square yerselves with him at the same time. If that is right, why shouldn't we kinder go into partnerships for a short period? I put the question to yer, and you can do as ye please."
The quartet at the table looked at one another inquiringly and doubtingly. They seemed to hesitate.
"If this man tells the truth, and I should judge that he does, he may be of service to us and we to him," said Sport Harris.
"That's right," nodded Harlow. "If Merriwell gave him that mug and those beautiful eyes, I don't wonder that he wants to get square."
Hartwick was silent. He was looking Mike Hogan over, and he was thinking:
"Is it possible I have fallen to the point where I have to take such a fellow as a comrade? No! It will not be as a comrade. We can use him as a tool, perhaps, and that is what we will do, if we use him at all."
"Sit down," invited Hartwick, suddenly rising and offering Mike his chair. "I'll get another. I want to hear just how you came by those eyes."
Hogan sat down at the table and Hartwick brought a chair from a corner.
"We are all anxious to hear how you came by those eyes," declared Harlow.
"Some gent order drinks, and I will tell ye. Never mind," he cried, as he saw them look at each other knowingly, as if they thought he was trying to work them for liquor, "I'll order, myself! Don't you think for a second that I'm broke!"
Then he flung a small roll of bills on the table before them, reached past Harlow, and pressed the button. When the waiter appeared, he said:
"Give these gents anything they want, Pete."
"Wot if they orders champagne?" grinned Pete, winking at the boys.
"Then bring it, dern ye!" snarled Hogan, as he grabbed up the roll of money and thrust it at the waiter. "Take the pay out of that and gimme the change."
Drinks were ordered and quickly brought. Hogan paid for them and gave the waiter a quarter as a tip.
"How about it, Pete?" he asked. "Am I all right?"
"Ye're all right, Mike," declared the waiter, promptly; "and the young gents will find that anything you says sticks."
Then he went out.
"Now," said Hogan, "before I begin I want to tell you chaps this: I'm on the make. That is how I happened to get up against this chap Merriwell. I heard that he paid a cool thousand for that horse of his, and I kinder admitted that a boy who could pay that sum for a horse must be in circumstances that would permit him to burn money in an open grate. Such a chap was worth my attention. I know horses from their hoofs to the tips of their ears. There ain't much of anything I don't know about 'em. And I knew Merriwell must be stuck on the horse for which he paid a thousand plunks.
"Well, gents, I'll tell ye my scheme. I kinder thought it would be easy to play the horse doctor, and work Merriwell for a good pot. All that was necessary was to make something ail the horse. Then I went round to the stable where he keeps the critter, after I had first learned the name of one of Merriwell's friends. I wanted to get at the horse, and I knew it wouldn't be easy unless I appeared to be on the inside track with Merriwell. I went round and said I was this friend of Merriwell, and in that way I got into the stall with the horse.
"Don't you care what I done to make that horse lame, but I done it all right. When Merriwell rode out this afternoon the critter went to limpin' under him. When he came back to the stable I was there, but I had changed my clothes and I wore a beard. I introduced myself as a horse doctor, and offered to cure his horse, or not to charge him a dollar. If I cured the critter, which I could do easy, I meant to charge him a hundred dollars, and I thought he'd be fool enough to pay it without a kick."
"That shows you didn't know the kind of a fellow you were trying to fool," said Harris.
"I found that out all right. He wouldn't make any talk with me. Then when I got hot and was going away he suddenly took a notion to stop me. The first thing I knew he had snatched off my hat and beard, and the hostler recognized me as the same chap as was in to see the horse this afternoon.
"I didn't feel alarmed then," Mike went on, "for Merriwell is a young chap, and I know something about fighting. That is, I thought I knew something about it. I'm not sure about that now. I told him to get out of the way, or I would do him up. I saw my scheme was bu'sted, but I felt sure it'd be some time before he'd find out what ailed his horse.
"That young fool didn't seem at all scared of me. He wouldn't get out of the way and let me go, but he put himself in my way, and then we had it. When we got through I found that I had it, and I had it bad. There ain't no need to tell just what happened. Take a look at my mug and you'll see for yourself. That young cuss can fight like a tiger!
"But now I'm goin' to get level with him, and don't you fergit it! I'll make him sorry that he ever gave Mike Hogan a pair of black eyes! I'll never be satisfied till I have done him the worst kind of a turn.
"I heard you chaps talkin', and it struck me that we might pull together to do him dirt. That's why I came right in. What do you say to it?"
The boys looked at each other, and then they nodded approval.
"You'll do," said Harris. "You may prove a very valuable man for us."
WHAT A HAIR CAN DO.
At his first opportunity to get away from recitations the following day Frank took Diamond and Rattleton and hastened down to the stable to find out how Nemo was coming along.
Grody, who had just saddled a horse for a gentleman, met Frank, and the expression on his face was anything but reassuring.
"Well, how is the pony this morning?" asked Merriwell, anxiously.
"Just as lame as he were, sir," answered Grody. "I've been tryin' to find out what it were that happened to him, but I can't, sir."
"Did you take him to the shoer the first thing this morning and have his feet examined, as I directed?"
"I did that, sir."
"And what did the shoer say?"
"He located the lameness in the same foot what we said were lame, sir, and he took off the shoe, but he said as how it were all right, and no fault of the shoeing. He didn't know but a nail might have gone too deep, sir, but he found that were not it."
This was anything but satisfactory, and Frank showed it by his face.
"Well," he said, "you know I told you to summon Dr. Cobb, if it proved something beyond the shoeing."
"And that were what I done, sir."
"And the doctor could not tell what ailed the horse?"
"The doctor has not come yet, sir. He were busy when I send the message to him, but he said—— Here he is now, sir."
A rig drew up at the door, and a short, stubbed, red-bearded man stepped out. This man entered the stable with a quick step and called to the hostler:
"Well, Grody, did you telephone me?"
"Yes, sir, I did, sir," said the hostler, quickly.
"Important case, you said?"
"Yes, sir, very important."
"Where's the horse?"
"I'll bring him right out, sir."
The hostler hastened to do so, and Dr. Cobb looked keenly at Nemo.
"Walk him around," directed the doctor.
"Just a bit lame," commented the doctor. "It may be a slight strain. It doesn't seem to be much."
"But it grows worse when he is taken out on the road," said Frank. "It was very bad yesterday afternoon."
The doctor glanced at the boy.
"Your horse?" he asked.
"When did you first notice he was lame?"
"Had him out this morning?"
"Grody took him to the shoer, that's all."
"What did he say?"
"Said there was nothing the matter with the way Nemo is shod."
"Perhaps he lied. Didn't want to hurt his business. Did he do anything?"
"Yes, he reset the shoe on the lame foot."
"Hum! Horse may be all right by to-morrow or next day."
"I do not think he will, doctor."
"Eh? Why not?"
"Because I have reasons to believe he was made to go lame."
"Is that so? Well, now the matter becomes more interesting. What causes you to think anything of the sort?"
Frank explained, and the doctor listened attentively to his story.
"This is worth investigating," he declared. "I know a few of the tricks of these fellows, and I think I'll find out what was done to your horse, if anything was done."
The boys watched the doctor with great interest. They saw him examine the lame leg from the knee down. In doing this he put on a pair of spectacles.
Nemo was nervous. He seemed afraid the doctor would hurt him, and it was not found easy to make him stand.
At last Dr. Cobb uttered a sharp exclamation.
"Bring my case, which you will find under the seat in my carriage, Grody," he directed.
Grody hastened to obey.
"Have you found out what the matter is, doctor?" Frank anxiously asked.
"I believe so, but I am not sure yet."
Jack and Harry came near, eager to learn what had been done to lame the horse.
The doctor opened his case, and took out some tweezers.
"Do you see this hair here?" he asked, having brushed the fetlock aside and taken the end of a hair in his fingers.
The boys saw it, but wondered what that hair could have to do with the lameness of the horse.
"It is not the right color," declared the doctor. "You see it is white, instead of being the color of the other hairs here."
Despite himself Frank felt his anger rising. How could the color of a hair make the horse lame? Did the man take him for a fool because he was a boy?
The three boys exchanged glances, and Harry made a threatening gesture at the back of the doctor's head.
"I see the hair is white, sir," said Frank, his voice cold and hard; "but I scarcely think a white hair could make my horse go lame. I know I am a boy, but I do not like to be taken for a fool."
The doctor looked up and saw the indignation expressed on the faces of the three lads. Then he chuckled in a singular way and said:
"Wait till I get through, young man. I do not take you for a fool ordinarily, but you can easily make a fool of yourself over this matter."
He had taken the short white hair, which was very coarse, in his fingers, having separated it from the others.
"Notice the peculiar place where this hair seems to grow," he directed. "It is not a part of the fetlock, but the fetlock hid it from view. I am going to pull this hair out, but first I want you to notice that there is another hair, it seems, on the other side of the ankle, and it is just like this. See it?"
The boys saw it.
"In a moment you won't see it," declared the doctor, as he adjusted the tweezers, getting a careful grip on the end of the hair. "Here it comes."
Then he quickly drew it out and Nemo started a bit, but was quieted by Grody.
"Young man," said the doctor, "look at this. This hair appeared to be about an inch in length, but now it is three inches long. It is not broken off, and yet it has no root. I will guarantee there is not another hair on this horse like it! I will guarantee it did not grow on this horse! I will guarantee it was what made this horse lame! And I do not want my fee if this horse shows any lameness two hours from now!"
The boys were astonished, as their faces indicated.
"But, doctor, I do not understand!" cried Frank. "You must explain. How could a hair——"
"I will explain. It's an old trick, but one seldom tried. This hair came from the tail of a white horse. It was threaded into a long, keen needle. The fellow who got at your horse yesterday was an expert. With one jab of that needle he passed the hair through the flesh just back of this cord. It went in at one side, and came out on the other. After that, while he was pretending to look at the horse's feet, he clipped off the ends, and the hair was left in there. It could remain a day or so without doing any particular injury, but it was bound to make the horse lame as soon as he used that leg much. If it had been left there permanently it might have ruined the horse. That is all, young man."
"Why was a white hair chosen, doctor?"
"The fellow felt sure it would not be noticed, and yet he could quickly locate it by its color when the time came for him to cure your horse of its lameness."
Once more the boys looked at each other, and this time it was plain they realized there were some things they did not know.
"Doctor," said Frank, promptly, "I wish to beg your pardon. I believe I said something rather hastily, but now I wish to say that you know your business thoroughly."
The doctor smiled, and closed his case.
"I have been in the business all my life," he said, "but I expect to continue to learn something new about it as long as I live. I will say that I doubt if I should have seen what was the matter with your horse if you had not told me of the fellow you believed had lamed him and how the horse kicked up a racket when the man was in the stall. That set me to looking for tricks, and I found the hair."
Frank offered to pay the doctor, but he refused to take it then, saying:
"Here's my card, young man. If your horse is all right this afternoon you may send me five dollars. You may need me again some time."
Then he strode out of the stable, flung the case under the seat, scrambled into his carriage, caught up the reins, and away he went in a hurry.
"Well, may I be farred and tethered—I mean tarred and feathered!" cried Harry Rattleton. "I never saw anything like that before."
"Nor I," confessed Jack Diamond. "It's astonishing! I have learned something to-day that I never knew before. I never would have dreamed that a hair could lame a horse in that way!"
"You want to look out for Nemo now," said Harry, "and not let that chap get at him again."
"I mean to," asserted Frank. "I have sent for my colored boy, Toots, to come on and keep watch here when Grody is unable to do so. Till he gets here, Grody, I want you to watch Nemo like a hawk. I hardly think the whelp will try another trick, but there is no telling. I gave him a bad thumping."
"But not half what he deserved!" cried Diamond.
PRINCE AND THE EAVESDROPPER.
Nemo's lameness seemed to vanish as if by magic, and Frank was well satisfied. Grody took the utmost care of Nemo till Toots arrived.
The colored boy was delighted to come on to New Haven, and, as he was a lover of horses, his new occupation suited him very well. When Frank could not find time to take the horse out for his daily exercise Toots did it.
One evening a party of students gathered in Diamond's room. He had invited them there to show them his new bulldog.
Diamond had a fad, and it was dogs. His dog had caused trouble between Diamond and Merriwell early in their college career by taking a strip out of Frank's trousers. That dog had received mortal injuries in a fight, and now Diamond had another dog.
"Isn't he a beauty!" cried Jack, as he displayed the ugly-looking brute. "Look at that head and those jaws! He comes from a line of gladiators."
"What do you call him, Diamond?" asked Ben Halliday.
"Put not thy trust in princes," croaked Dismal Jones.
"Is he kind?" asked Bandy Robinson.
"Oh, he has a sunny disposition," assured Jack, smiling.
"A sunny disposition," chirped Griswold, from the top of the table, upon which he had climbed so that he might be out of the way. "By that I presume that you mean he will make it hot for any other dog he may tackle."
"Hold on, Danny, old man!" cried Jack, reprovingly. "Haven't I treated you right?"
"Not lately, but if you've got any beer in the coop you can."
"That gives me a pain!" cried Robinson.
"You must have been eating window glass," chuckled Griswold. "That's how you happen to feel the pane."
"You ramed little bunt—I mean you blamed little runt!" exclaimed Rattleton, catching Danny by the neck. "If you keep up this reckless punning you'll receive a check some day."
"I hope so," was the instant retort. "I'm broke, and I sent to the governor for one to-day."
"Let him alone, Harry," advised Merriwell, laughing. "You simply make him worse by talking to him."
"That's the only thing I have against Griswold," declared Jack. "He will pun in the most reckless manner at all times. Some of his jokes are not what they are cracked up to be."
"Like the eggs we used to get down at Mrs. Harrington's when we were freshmen," grinned Griswold.
"Even the vilest sinner may repent and be forgiven," came solemnly from Dismal Jones. "There's a faint ray of hope for Griswold."
"But it's mighty dim," declared Robinson.
Once more attention was given to Jack's dog, and Diamond pointed out the animal's fine features.
"When are dogs at their best?" asked Halliday, seriously.
"In winter," Griswold instantly put in. "There are no flies on them then."
"Smother him!" howled Robinson, wildly.
"Smother time," cackled Danny, as he slipped off the table and dodged around a chair to get out of reach.
Halliday caught up a pair of scissors and pretended to sharpen them, looking at Griswold as if he meant to shed his gore.
"What are you going to do?" asked Danny. "Going into the scissors-grinding business? It's great when things are dull."
It was plain that Danny could not be suppressed, and so the boys tried to ignore him. Prince was admired some more, and then Halliday picked up a banjo, put it in tune, and sang a song.
"Your voice is somewhat off color to-night, old man," observed Robinson, "and I think you skipped a bar."
"You don't know him," cried Griswold, instantly. "I was out with him last night and he didn't skip any."
Then almost every other fellow in the room grabbed up something and threw it at Danny, who could do nothing but shield his face and take the pelting he received.
"Diamond is a dog crank, and Merriwell is a horse crank," said Robinson. "By the way, I hear you think of racing your horse this spring, Merriwell?"
"Who told you that?" asked Frank.
"Who told me? Oh, I don't know. Is it a secret? I think I have heard several fellows speak of it."
"Oh, I don't know as it is a secret," said Frank. "I may try him in some small country race, if I get a good opportunity; but I am not likely to have much of a chance, between baseball, rowing, and my studies. I'm kept pretty busy."
"The only wonder to me is that you get time to study at all," declared Halliday. "I never before saw a fellow who could carry on so many things at the same time and make successes of them all."
"I hear two more men have been dropped a class," said Diamond.
"That's right," sighed Jones. "Dorman and Street have departed hence. May peace go with them."
"Poor old Easy!" exclaimed Robinson. "He was a fine fellow, but he was altogether too easy. He wouldn't skin, and he couldn't keep up with the push."
"There are some other fellows who are bound to go sooner or later," observed Rattleton. "I can name several."
"Both Harris and Ditson are bound to get it in the neck," said Griswold. "They are skinners of the worst kind."
"That's right," agreed Halliday. "Ditson is an expert at it. He spends more time and ingenuity in concocting schemes to fool the examining tutor or professor than it would take to learn his subjects ten times over."
"Sure's you're born!" exclaimed Jones. "Why, he has his finger nails, cuffs, and the palms of his hands covered with writing and diagrams every time he knows he is to be called up, and in this way he always succeeds in making a clean rush."
"Harris knows something about photography," said Halliday, "and he is continually making minute pictures of diagrams and writing, which he arranges on little tabs, which he can hold in his palm. He seldom flunks, but he'll trip some time."
"Hanged if I can see why fellows should work so hard to fool tutors or professors when they might learn all that was required of them without half the trouble," cried Harry.
"That is easy enough to explain," smiled Merriwell. "Harris is a natural gambler. He delights in excitement and danger, and he actually enjoys taking such desperate ventures."
"Well, there is something in that," laughed Rattleton. "I never regarded it that way before. I'll be fanged if there isn't hascination in it—no, I'll be hanged if there isn't fascination in it!"
"It's too bad this matter was mentioned, fellows," said Merriwell, with pretended seriousness. "I regret it very much."
"Why?" asked Robinson, curiously.
"Notice how excited Rattleton has become over it? He's not quite such a sport as Harris, but he had rather take chances on anything than eat, and it's ten to one he'll be skinning within a week."
"Sometimes a fellow has to skin," declared Griswold.
"Did you ever, Danny?" asked Diamond.
"Did I? Well! I have a patent scheme of my own."
"What is it?" asked Rattleton, eagerly.
"Why, I have a box of chalk crayons which I bought for myself. I have soaked them in alum water till they are hard, and I usually have several of them about my person. They are covered with diagrams and everything that may prove interesting or necessary. But I want to tell you something. I never use 'em unless I am driven to the wall."
"By that he means the blackboard," laughed Halliday.
"And you were talking about Harris and Ditson being skinners!" came reproachfully from Jones. "My dear young man, there is a place that burneth with fire and brimstone!"
"That is reserved for liars," chuckled Danny. "Jones, beware, any moment may be your next."
"That's right," agreed Jones, sadly. "I am sure I shall not live to see another day—if I die to-night."
"Gentleman," said Merriwell, "death is a grave subject to jest upon. You'd better bury it."
"That's all right," put in Robinson. "If he catches cold any of us may go to coffin."
"I'll not undertaker pun," murmured Rattleton.
Then there was a deathlike silence, and the lads all looked at one another reproachfully.
"Let's change the subject," cried Diamond. "Speaking of Ditson, I believe he claims to have blue blood in his veins. Says his ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and were among the first to settle in this country."
"They may have settled," said Griswold, "but none of his family has ever settled since that time. They owe everybody that will trust them."
"Ditson has stuck his friends right and left since coming to Yale, till he has not a friend left," said Robinson.
"Why, he owed Hartwick several hundred dollars when Hartwick left," declared Diamond.
"Just the same, Hartwick is back in New Haven and in is chummy with Ditson again," asserted Jones.
Merriwell displayed some interest.
"How do you know he is chummy with Ditson?" he asked.
"I have seen them together!"
"That means something!" cried Rattleton, excitedly. "Those pads are cotting—I mean those cads are plotting! You want to look out for trouble, Merry!"
"I will!" exclaimed Frank. "Ditson is treading on dangerous ground. If he makes a break, I'll descend on him. I have been easy with a chap of his treacherous nature quite long enough."
"Too long!" burst fiercely from Diamond. "If I had been in your place I'd ended Mr. Ditson's career long ago."
"I don't know what the fellows can do to injure me," said Frank.
"They'll find some way to give it to you if you don't watch out," said Rattleton. "Perhaps one of them hired that fellow to lame your horse."
"You think a great deal of that horse," said Jack. "You want to be constantly on your guard or something will happen to it."
"Toots is on the watch, and any one will have hard work getting the best of that darky. He is about as sharp as they make 'em."
"He is a very clever coon," admitted Harry; "and he seems to know his business, still you can't tell what may happen."
"I wouldn't have anything happen to Nemo for worlds. I don't quite understand why I think so much of that horse, but he is a wonderfully intelligent creature."
"Don't tell that you care so much for him. If your enemies were to find it out they would scheme to fix Nemo."
"I'd have no mercy on the person that injured that horse."
"What's the matter with your dog, Jack?" asked Robinson. "He is acting in a very queer manner."
Prince was sniffing at the door, whining and growling, while the hair on his neck bristled in a significant manner.
Diamond got up and quickly approached the door. In a moment he flung it open, and out shot Prince.
There was a sound of swiftly retreating feet, a clatter on the stairs, a scramble, a shout of pain or fear, and a sudden blow.
"Quick, fellows!" cried Jack, excitedly. "Prince has found an eavesdropper!"
They rushed out, they sprang down the stairs, and at the foot they found the dog, apparently in a dazed condition, but with a piece of cloth in his mouth.
"Good dog!" cried Jack. "Where is he?"
Prince growled and chewed away at the piece of cloth.
"He got away," said Frank. "He must have struck Prince with a heavy cane, or a club, for we heard the blow. The dog was stunned, but he held fast to this piece of the fellow's trousers."
"After him!" spluttered Rattleton. "He may not be able to get away! We'll try to capture him!"
But the effort was vain. The eavesdropper had made good his escape.
After a little time the boys all came back to Diamond's room. They found Jack examining the piece of cloth, which he had taken from the bulldog with no small difficulty.
"It is from somebody's trousers," said Jack, seriously. "Whoever the sneak was, he'll have to buy a new pair. He hit Prince a frightful blow behind the ear, but the good old fellow held fast to this trophy."
"If we'd nabbed the fellow, we wouldn't have done a thing to him—not a thing!" cried Griswold.
"See if any of you fellows recognize this piece of cloth as belonging to the clothing of any chap you know," invited Diamond.
They all examined it.
"If I mistake not," said Dismal Jones, "this came from a certain section of a certain individual's trousers, and the section to which I refer is located about eight inches south of the back strap."
"And the fellow," exclaimed Robinson, "the fellow is——"
"Roland Ditson!" finished Rattleton.
"In that case," said Diamond, "Merriwell's enemies have received a good tip concerning his fondness for Nemo. You will have to be doubly careful about that horse after this, Frank."
If Roland Ditson was the person from whose trousers the piece of cloth had been torn he took good care to destroy what he had retained of the breeches without delay, for they were never again seen in his possession.
The figure on the cloth was not pronounced enough to distinguish it in a manner to make it absolute proof that it came from a garment owned by Roland.
Nevertheless Diamond accused Ditson of listening at his door, but Roll vigorously denied that he had done so. Diamond told him he was a natural-born prevaricator, and let it go at that.
But Ditson was watched like a hawk by the boy from Virginia, for Jack felt sure the fellow was up to crookedness.
Frank Merriwell knew that if Ditson had been listening to the conversation that was taking place in that room his enemies must know in what light he regarded Nemo.
This caused Frank to caution both Toots and Grody to redouble their vigilance in watching over and caring for the splendid creature.
"Don' yo' worry about me, Marser Frank," assured the darky lad. "Dat's de fines' hawse dat dis chile ebber seen, an' I'se gwan ter watch ober heem lek he wus de apple ob mah eye."
"I have decided to enter Nemo in the Mystic Park races at Bethany, Toots," Merriwell declared, "and I think I'll let you ride him, my boy."
Toots showed two rows of gleaming ivories and beamed with the greatest delight.
"If yer done dat, Marser Frank, I'se gwan ter win on dat hawse jes ez shore ez yeh bawn, sar!" he cried. "I'se done rid dat critter enough teh know he's a wondah, sar. Dat hawse is wuf a forchune, sar!"
"If you win, Toots, I may give you a chance to ride him in some races later in the season."
"If I don' win dat race, I done hope I nebber dror annodder bref, sar!" cried the darky boy, excitedly. "Dat'll show yo' what yo' kin do at de Coney Islan' races. If yo's gwan ter gamble on dat hawse, yo's a dead sho' winnar, sar!"
"I am not much of a gambler, Toots, but I may back Nemo for a little something."
"Yo'll win, Marser Frank. If dis darky ebber knowed what he wus talking about yo'll win!"
Frank's enemies seemed remarkably quiet, but something told him that every move he made was watched. This was true, and they soon knew exactly what races he intended to enter Nemo for, and that the darky was going to ride the horse.
One night Harris, Hartwick, Harlow, Ditson and Mike Hogan met in the saloon where they had first formed a combine against Merriwell. They were there by appointment, called together by Hartwick, who seemed to have assumed the leadership.
Hartwick was taking no chances on any thin partitions, and so he secured a little back room in the place, where it seemed that nothing could be overheard by any one who might chance to be watching them.
Drinks were ordered, and when they were brought and the waiter had departed Hartwick said:
"Gentlemen, we may as well get down to business at once. I have called you together to make arrangements for striking a blow at our common enemy."
"Well, I think it's erbout time!" growled Mike Hogan. "I've been wantin' ter do something fer a long while, but you have kept holdin' me back."
"You have been too much on the jump, my friend," said Hartwick, scowling. "If we'd let you gone it alone you'd had Merriwell on his guard, and that would have ruined everything."
"It strikes me that Merriwell is on his guard now," observed Harris. "He acts as if he knew there was something in the wind."
"Well, he doesn't know what."
"I don't know about that, either. He guards that horse as if the animal was worth its weight in dollar bills."
"Which comes entirely from the fact that Hogan here tried to knock the horse out once," declared Harlow.
"I don't know about that, either," said Hartwick. "But I want to say one thing here and now: If there's any one of this party who is playing double and carrying information to Merriwell, he'd better order his own coffin without delay, for he is bound to be found out, and we'll throw him cold in a minute."
He looked at Ditson in a most significant manner as he said this, but Roll showed no signs of guilt.
"Well, what's yer plan of war, boss?" asked Hogan, impatiently.
"Don't get in too much of a hurry," scowled Hartwick.
"We know Merriwell intends to enter Nemo in the Mystic Park races, at Bethany."
"That is the time to get at him."
"He has money to burn. Get him to back Nemo for large sums for any of the first three positions. Give him all sorts of odds, if necessary; but get him to chuck up the dough, and then beat him out."
"That's all right," growled Hogan; "but where's the dough comin' from what is shoved up against his good stuff?"
"Let me alone for that," said Hartwick, significantly. "I know a way to get it, and we'll have it. I wish we might get Merriwell to stake his entire fortune on that horse. We'd end his career at Yale."
"I'd like to know how you are going to get so much money, Hart?" he cried. "Why, I had to lend you twenty as capital the last game of poker you entered."
"Don't let anything worry you if you don't know all about it, Sport," advised Hartwick. "You've got your twenty back, haven't you?"
"Well, you can't kick."
"All right; but I'm afraid your scheme won't work out very well."
"It will, just as hard, if we can depend on Mike here to make sure Merriwell's horse does not win."
"Watcher want me ter do?" asked Mike.
"Doctor the animal at the last moment, if you can't buy off the jockey."
"That's easy! But where does my share of ther profits come in?"
"You shall have your share, don't you worry. We'll have that all arranged in advance."
"Then that goes! I am with yer, gents."
"What are the rest of us to do?" asked Harris.
"There will be something for all of us to do. Ditson must continue to play the spy on Merriwell."
"And that's the most dangerous job of all!" cried Roll. "You know what came near happening to me the night I found out Merriwell intended to put Nemo in the Mystic Park races. I was nearly chewed up by Diamond's dog."
"But you escaped with your life," said Harris.
"Because I took that cane with the loaded end. If it hadn't been for that the infernal dog would have eaten me. I hit him an awful blow. It would have killed any other dog."
"Well," said Harlow, "we'll strike a different kind of a blow directly—one that will do more than lay out a dog."
It was the day of the spring races at Mystic Park, and Bethany was filled with strangers. Horsemen, sporting men, sightseers, touts, race-track gamblers, women in gay attire, and all the different kinds of persons usually seen at a country horse race in the State of Connecticut were on hand.
A number of Yale lads had come up to Bethany to attend the races. The most of them were friends of Frank Merriwell. Some of his enemies were there, also.
Frank had brought Nemo up himself, and he scarcely slept the night before the races. He felt that there was danger in the air.
Nemo had been entered in the "free for all," and his name was on the bills. Frank had been informed that he would be given odds that his horse did not take a purse. He had received an anonymous letter ridiculing him for thinking of entering such a horse. He had been taunted and told that he dared not stake money on Nemo.
Merriwell knew well enough that there was a plot afloat, and it seemed that the scheme was to make him lose money on his horse. If he had been timid he would have hesitated about backing Nemo for anything; but the ones who had been taunting him had reckoned well on his mettle, and they had succeeded in pricking his pride and arousing him.
Frank had seen Nemo work on a track with Toots in the saddle. He had timed the horse repeatedly, and he felt confident that Nemo could not fail to take a position if he were in proper form when he entered the race.
Frank sent for money. He demanded it. His guardian did not feel like refusing, as he remembered that his last effort to suppress Frank had resulted in a most painful train of incidents, the culmination being his arrest for kidnaping a baby. He sent Frank a check for the sum desired.
When Bethany was reached Merriwell was approached by a tall, thin man, who wore a Prince Albert coat and looked like a parson. This man introduced himself as John Baldwin, and he proved to be very "smooth."
Frank knew in a moment that the stranger was trying to catch him for a sucker. He felt like knocking the man down, but, instead of that, he bet three hundred and fifty dollars against a thousand dollars that Nemo would take a purse in the "free for all."
John Baldwin departed, apparently looking for other bloods who wished to take flyers. But Frank was to see Baldwin again. The man came back and in the most sneering manner possible, offered to let him out of his bet for fifty dollars. He told Frank that Nemo was a "dead one" and could not even crawl. The result was that Merriwell bet the man five hundred even that Nemo would take a purse, and there were but three purses in the "free for all."
After Baldwin departed the second time Frank regretted that he had not booted the insolent fellow.
"Never mind," thought the lad. "I'll win his cash all right."
In the morning there was a row in the stable where Nemo was kept. Toots was found vigorously punishing a flashily dressed negro.
"Tek dat, yo' dirty brack nigger!" shouted Toots, as he smashed the other fellow on the nose. "Yo' cayn't com' 'roun' dis chile wid none ob yere 'swinuations an' yore offers ob money to throw de race! I'll kick part ob yore panjaloons clean out frough de top of yore hade, yo' brack son ob a gun!"
The colored boy fought like a furious tiger, and the other fellow, after trying to strike back a few times, took to his heels, leaving a smashed silk hat behind him.
"What's the matter, Toots?" asked Frank, who had rushed to the scene of the conflict, accompanied by others.
"Mattah, sar?" cried Toots, fiercely. "Why, dat brack whelp come call me out ob de stall har, an' he says to me, says he, 'If yo' pulls Nemo so he don' take a purse it am wuff two hundred dollars to yo'.' An' he flashes his roll ob bills in mah face. I didn't wait fo' no mo' conwersashun, sar, but I jes' soaked him a dandy under der ear."
"Good boy, Toots!" laughed Frank. "You're all right!"
"Well, w'en dey fools 'roun' dis chile dey strikes hot stuff," grinned the boy.
Frank knew now that there was a "job" to knife him in the race. Rattleton and Diamond were on hand, and they took turns in helping Toots keep guard over Nemo.
Merriwell was angry. He went out looking for John Baldwin. When he found Baldwin he offered to bet all the money he had about him that Nemo would take either the first or the second purse. Baldwin snapped at the bet in a manner that showed he believed he had a "soft thing."
"You'll go back to Yale broke," he sneered.
"Don't let that worry you," returned Frank, coolly. "It strikes me that the fellow who is furnishing you with cash stands a chance of dropping something."
"You say that very mildly. You're scared now."
"If I had more money about my clothes I'd put it all up."
"That shows what an easy thing you are. I'll take your paper against my good money, and now you don't dare do a thing."
"How much do you want to risk that way?"
"Any sum you like."
"I'll go you for five hundred."
Frank had made the original selection of stakeholder, and he had chosen a man who was interested in the track, but was known to be perfectly square. This choice had proved satisfactory to Baldwin.
Once more this man was hunted up, and he felt it his duty to caution Frank. The boy simply smiled.
"Don't lose any sleep about me, Mr. Davis," said Frank, quietly. "It isn't necessary."
Twenty minutes after this bet was made John Baldwin informed Evan Hartwick.
"Good!" cried Hartwick, fiercely. "If I get hold of that piece of paper I'll use it to ruin Frank Merriwell at Yale. I can do it! Nemo must be fixed for fair!"
Then he rushed away.
"Oh, well!" said Baldwin, with a satisfied smile; "I don't care which way the wind blows now. I have made my commission on this work to-day, and I have nothing to lose. If those fellows slip up in their plans it won't be my funeral."
Then he lighted a cigar and strolled away.
Rattleton and Diamond watched Nemo closely, permitting Toots to get an hour's sleep. Then the colored boy came out feeling first rate, and Merriwell showed up to take his friends to have something to eat.
"By Jove!" he exclaimed, with a happy laugh. "One of you fellows will have to loan me the money to settle for the feed. I've staked every cent on Nemo, and I haven't enough left to purchase a sandwich."
"Whew!" whistled Diamond. "Haven't you been plunging pretty steep, old man?"
"Oh, I don't know!" smiled Frank. "We'll have money to start a conflagration with when we return to New Haven."
"I think so," agreed Jack; "but there are slips."
"Now, Toots," said Frank, "we are going to leave Nemo in your care for a short time. You know what I expect of you."
"Yes, sar, an' you may 'pend on me, sar."
"All right, my boy. Come on, fellows."
Away the three went, arm in arm, laughing and joking, like the light-hearted fellows they were.
Ten minutes after they left Toots decided to give Nemo some water. He stepped out of the stall for a bucket. As he picked it up he fancied he heard a suspicious sound inside the stall, and he hurried back.
When the colored boy stepped into the stall he saw a tough-looking young man in a plaid suit offering Nemo an apple. It was Mike Hogan.
"G'wan frum dat hawse, man!" shouted Toots, as he flung the bucket straight at Mike's head.
The bucket struck Hogan, knocked him down, and he lay stunned almost beneath the feet of Frank Merriwell's racer.