H. Irving Hancock.

The High School Boys in Summer Camp online

. (page 10 of 11)
Online LibraryH. Irving HancockThe High School Boys in Summer Camp → online text (page 10 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


"I'm not going to try again," announced Tag. "What I want is
for you to keep away from me, and not follow me. If you do - -well,
you can guess the answer! Now, as I'm going, give me that gun."

"I won't," Dick declared firmly, holding it by the muzzle and
ready to employ the weapon as a club.

"You'll make a lot of trouble and danger for yourself and the
girls if you don't put the gun on the ground and walk away from
it," warned Tag, glowering.

"I won't drop the only weapon that I have," Dick returned firmly.
"You could down me easily unless I had something like this to
swing. As long as these young women are under my protection I
will not give up the only weapon that I have."

"If I press the trigger of this pistol," challenged Tag, "will
you be able to offer the girls much protection then?"

"Perhaps not," Prescott rejoined. "But shooting me will be the
only way that you can get this gun from me."

There could be no doubt that the high school boy meant just what
he said. Tag, who was not accustomed to wasting time in crises,
turned angrily on his heel.

"Hold on there a moment," called Dick. The other boy baited,
turning about. "Do you remember what I told you the other day?"
demanded Prescott.

"You've told me a lot of things I never took from any other kid,"
growled Tag.

"Do you remember what I told you about your father, his love for
you, and his desire to meet and claim you?"

"Old Bill Mosher's love?" laughed Tag harshly. "I'd stay and
laugh a while at that, but I've other business for to-day."

"No; your real father, Mr. Page!" Dick cried after him, as Tag
started away. "Bill Mosher found you in a railroad wreck. Your
real father is a man of wealth. He is nearly broken down from
the many anxieties of trying to find you. He spent last night
at our camp. This morning he and friends of his started off to
find you. Tag, come back here, and I'll take you into camp."

"No, thank you!" leered the larger boy. "I've been taken into
camp before, and you're the lad that turned the trick. You turned
me over to Valden and Simmons, and they turned me over to the
warden at the jail. I'm not going back to that jail - -_alive_!"

"You foolish fellow! Can't you understand?" bellowed Dick, following
Tag as he once more turned away. "I'm telling you the truth,
and your father is only too anxious to employ all his wealth in
protecting whatever rights you may have. Bill Mosher was seen
at the jail yesterday, and he admitted that you were not his son,
but that he found you as a baby at a railroad wreck! Tag, use
your brains, for once, and come back to camp to meet your father!"

"Good-bye!" laughed the larger boy derisively, increasing his
fast walk to a run.

Desperately, Dick Prescott followed. As Tag sprinted, so did
the high school boy.

Looking back, young Mosher tripped over a root, and fell heavily.
The revolver flew from his hand landing several feet away. Prescott
was now so close that Tag sprang to his feet and ran on without
making any effort to recover his lost weapon.

Then the larger boy dived into a thicket. He did not appear again.
Master of every hidden path in these forests, he seemed likely
enough to get away without leaving a trace of a trail.

Dick halted, brought to his senses by the realization that he
had deserted the three high school girls who had been entrusted
to his escort. He turned about. At the spot where Tag had tripped
he bent over to pick up the abandoned revolver.

One glance into the cylinder was enough. There wasn't a cartridge
in the weapon.

"Just as I thought," laughed Dick triumphantly. "Tag had no notion
of shooting anyone. For fear he might do so, if too closely cornered,
he threw away the ammunition. He relied on the bad reputation
of the Moshers to make officers hesitate if they encountered him
with firearms in his hands."

Then Prescott called for the girls, whom he quickly rejoined.

"You didn't catch him?" asked Laura.

"Not I," laughed Dick. "He knows every trail in these woods and
in a sprint, Tag Mosher could leave me hitched to a tree."

"I'm thankful you didn't catch him," quivered Miss Bentley. "He's
a terrible fellow."

"Is he?" laughed Prescott good-humoredly. "As a bad man Tag Mosher,
or young Page, as he really ought to be called, is about the biggest
bluff that I've ever heard of. Look at these weapons. Both unloaded.
Yet, when Tag broke jail, he carried away ammunition enough to
hold a company of militia at bay. Tag doesn't want to shoot anyone.
All he wants to do is to scare pursuers."

"He's a ruffian, anyway," Belle declared.

"Why? Was he very rough with you?" Dick inquired. "Did he tear
your rings off recklessly, and hurt your hands?"

"No; but be held my hand so firmly that I simply couldn't pull
it out of his clutch," Belle replied. "Then he took off my rings
as easily and in as matter-of-fact way as though they were his
own property."

"He really didn't mean to hurt you," Dick explained. "He has
been trained, from babyhood, to make his living by appropriating
other people's belongings, and he was only obeying his training.
The officers are after him, and Tag, not wishing to be caught,
wants to put considerable distance between himself and these woods.
Yet no matter what he does, or where he goes, the officers will
finally find him. Law is supreme, and triumphs in the end. No
man may defy the police and courts of a nation and get away with
it for any great length of time."

"Would you have tried to catch him, if we hadn't been with you?"
asked Laura.

"Yes," Dick admitted. "Though under the circumstances I had no
right to do anything but stay here with you and try to protect
you. Shall we go on with the collecting?"

"If the other girls want to do so," agree Susie Sharp.

"If we want to?" Laura echoed. "After the fright we've had?
All that we want to do is to - - -"

"Get back to camp?" smiled Dick. "I'm wholly agreeable. Truth
to tell, I've had such a fright that my nerves are shattered."

"Your nerves shattered?" echoed Belle scornfully. "Tell that
to someone who never lived in Gridley, Dick Prescott! You flew
at that fellow like a tiger."

"But look at the magnificent help I had!" smiled Dick.




CHAPTER XXI

THE MEDICAL EXAMINER TALKS TRAINING


"Do you want a suggestion, Prescott?" inquired Dr. Bentley.

The physician and his party had been over at the high school boys'
camp for something like twenty minutes, that same afternoon, watching
the training work that the young athletes were undergoing.

"Yes, sir," Dick answered promptly. Then a sudden thought striking
him, he added:

"Perhaps I can make a suggestion, doctor, that is even more immediate
in its nature than yours."

"Then I shall be glad to have it," smiled Laura's father.

"Did you leave that chauffeur to watch your camp?"

"No; he has gone to Five Corners to post the young women's numerous
letters. But the camp doesn't need a guard, does it?"

"It does, as long as Tag Mosher is at large, sir. Harry, won't
you go over to the doctor's camp and stay there until the chauffeur
returns?"

"Yes," agreed Hazelton.

"If you sight Tag, or any other doubtful-looking characters, just
give a yell, and we'll all come over."

"Would that young scamp bother our camp, really?" inquired the
physician.

"Certainly he would," Dick went on promptly. "Mosher, Page, or
whoever he really is, is just as natural an anarchist as the world
ever saw. He has never had anything of his own, and whenever
he sees anyone else's property that will serve him, he just says,
'Tag, you're It!' That's the way he got his nickname."

"I believe I'll go over with Harry and see if anything is missing,"
declared Dr. Bentley. "In the meantime, Prescott, suppose you
and your squad rest until I return. Just make yourselves agreeable
to the girls. I'll endeavor to be back promptly. When I come
back I shall be prepared to offer you some training suggestions
that may be of value to you."

So the flushed young athletes rested, except Harry, who departed
with the physician.

In fifteen minutes Dr. Bentley returned.

"Your warning came too late, Prescott," announced Laura's father
cheerily. "Our camp has been visited."

"Tag Mosher?" gasped Prescott.

"Impossible to say," was the smiling answer. "The caller forgot
to leave a card. But someone has cleaned us out of about a dozen
tins of food and some packages of biscuit. It must have been
quite a little load. Just by chance I also happened to think
to look at my medicine case. One vial is missing therefrom."

"What medicine did he take, did you say, sir?" asked Dave Darrin
much interested.

"I believe I didn't say," replied Dr. Bentley. "Perhaps later
on I shall tell you."

"If the thief took only a dozen tins," said Mrs. Bentley, "there
is food enough left so that we needn't worry about immediate famine.
And we have two cars, either one of which may be despatched to
bring further supplies."

"Tag is really going to move away from here, then," decided Dick
thoughtfully.

"Why do you say that?" asked Dr. Bentley.

"Because Tag has a fine appetite, and an abundance of muscle.
Instead of a dozen tins he would have taken three or four times
that amount. It is only his need for traveling in light marching
order that made him so moderate in the tax he levied."

"It's only an incident," continued Dr. Bentley. "And I am glad
of it. It shows that the young scamp is still in this neighborhood,
and that means that there is still a fair chance of his being
captured."

"I wonder why he stole one particular drug from your case?" Dick
mused aloud.

Dr. Bentley smiled, not relieving Prescott's curiosity as to the
name of the missing drug.

"It can't be that Tag means to commit suicide, as a last resort,
can it?" Dick suggested.

"I think not," smiled Dr. Bentley.

Then the leader of Dick & Co. gave up further effort along this
line to secure the desired information.

"I started in to offer you a suggestion, Prescott," continued
the medical man.

"Yes, sir; it had something to do with training, I believe."

"Before I tell you what I have to say, Prescott, suppose you put
each of your 'men' through the stunts they were doing before."

"Which one first, sir?"

"Any one of the young men."

"Dave!" called Dick.

Darrin stepped forward.

"One moment," said Dr. Bentley. He felt Dave's pulse, then nodded.
"Go ahead, Darrin."

Dave started in with the work.

"Speed it up!" ordered Dick. "Faster! Drive!"

Darry continued at his training work until Dr. Bentley called:

"Stop! Now, stand still, young man."

Bending over, Dr. Bentley placed one ear against Dave's chest,
watch in hand, while the others looked on curiously.

"Just what I thought," nodded the physician, looking up at last.
"Prescott, you have a lot of bright ideas in training, but you're
driving your squad too hard. Darrin's heart doesn't come down
to normal speed as soon as it should."

"Anything wrong with the heart, sir" asked Darry.

"Nothing. It's the trainer that's wrong," replied Dr. Bentley.
"It is a fault with a lot of trainers without long experience
that they work an athlete's heart overtime. Darrin's heart should
have slowed down in a little more than half the time required
in this instance. Set another man at work, Prescott. I can show
you how to do this properly. Let the others work as hard as Darrin
did. I want data to work on. Then I'll lay down a few suggestions
that will serve you well."

This not being interesting to the high school girls, they chatted
among themselves.

In the end Dr. Bentley read off some figures he had jotted down,
and explained to Prescott what he must regard as a satisfactory
heart performance after each bit of training work.

"Now, whenever you don't bring your work, fairly close to these
limits you'll know that you're overdoing the training," Dr. Bentley
explained. "If you overdo on training then you injure the chances
of the men of your squad. The wise trainer keeps within limits.
Keep within such limits, and you'll find that, bit by bit, your
men can endure more and more, and still pass satisfactorily as
to diminishing heart speed after stopping grilling."

"It's mighty good of you to explain all this to us, sir," Dick
protested, gratefully.

"Not in the least," replied Dr. Bentley. "You may recall the
fact that I'm medical examiner to the High School Athletic
Association."

"And I also recall, sir," Prescott rejoined, "that for your work
with the high school athletes you accept a salary of only one
dollar a year, in place of the hundred dollars that the Athletic
Association offered."

"Well, if I cut prices in selected instances, that's my own affair,
isn't it?" smiled the physician.

"Now, we'll go on with the training work," Dick soon announced,
stepping forward. "Reade! Darrin!"

So the work went on, though it was not quite so grilling after
that. The girls looked on with interest, at first, but there
was no contest in hand - -nothing for any "side" to win, so presently
the high school girls found the spectacle less interesting.

Tom, standing by, mopping his face, turned to see that Miss Marshall,
her red parasol resting over one shoulder, had strolled away.

"That was kind of Clara," laughed Tom.

"What was?" inquired Belle.

"To take that red sunshade further off. It made me perspire to
look at it."

"Red silk shuts out some of the worst rays of the sun," Laura
explained wisely.

"Does it?" asked Tom. "I know there must be some excuse for carrying
a red sunshade."

Then suddenly he colored, remarking:

"That wasn't very gallant of me, but I didn't mean it quite the
way it sounds."

"And a red parasol helps throw a little tinge of color over a
face that hasn't any too much color of its own," added Susie.
"Clara is always more or less pale in summer."

"She might be a lot more pale if any of those wild cattle were
to roam back this way," smiled Dr. Bentley.

Hardly had he uttered the words when, from the edge of the woods,
there came a piercing scream, followed by a deep, bass bellow
that seemed to shake the ground.

All hands turned instantly, to see Clara running frantically,
waving the parasol in her fright, while not very far behind her
charged a bull, its head lowered.

"Drop your parasol!" cried Greg. "Throw it away."

"Then turn and run in another direction!" shouted Darrin.

Neither Dr. Bentley nor Dick Prescott uttered a word. They had
no advice ready at the instant, but turned and ran toward the
imperiled girl as fast as they could go.

Unused to such exercise, Dr. Bentley, who got the first start,
was quickly panting and red of face.

By him like a streak shot Dick Prescott, running with the speed
of the sprinter.

To face the bull empty handed was worse than useless. Dick had
to form his plans as he ran.




CHAPTER XXII

PLAYING RAGTIME ON MR. BULL


"Drop your parasol! Throw it away!" screamed her friends in unison.

But Clara, emitting another shriek, seemed too frightened to
comprehend. She tried to redouble her speed, but the bull was
rapidly gaining on her in the pursuit.

As all stood gazing at the panic-stricken girl, Dick Prescott
shot across the field.

What happened next was that Dick snatched the flaming red parasol
from her hand, then swung her shoulders about, thus forcing the
girl to face in another direction.

"Run - -the way you're headed!" he yelled hoarsely.

The bull was close upon them. Giving the parasol a flourish in
the maddened animal's face, Prescott started off in the direction
from which the bull had come.

"Get up a tree, Prescott, as quickly as you can!" panted Dr. Bentley.

But Dick, not even pausing to shake his head, put all his effort
into a fresh burst of speed.

Running away from the camp, flaunting the red parasol, Dick was
followed closely by the bellowing bull. For a short distance,
anyway, the sprinter could run as fast as the pursuer.

Dick swiftly decided, now that he had the bull in voluntary tow,
to lead the animal where the trees were thicker. Here an agile
candidate for football honors ought to be able to daze and exhaust
the bull by darting from tree to tree.

The plan had its dangers, however, and Dick knew them well.

Once in among the trees Dick tossed the parasol to one side, then
darted off on an oblique line.

Bellowing, stumbling, the bull turned clumsily to follow him.

Again Dick changed his course, though, purposely, he took pains
not to get too far from camp.

Now he saw his chums running towards him.

"Keep away! Don't get near the bull!" he yelled.

"We've sent Dan to get the rope in the tent," Reade called back.

"Now, what in the world do the boys think they're going to do
with a rope?" Prescott wondered.

Suddenly, as he dodged off on a new track to escape the bull,
a plan flashed into Prescott's mind.

"Get up a tree!" yelled Dave.

"Hardly time enough," Dick retorted, dodging again and sprinting
briefly out of harm's way. "When Dan brings the rope throw it
so that one end will rest in the lowest fork of that young chestnut
tree."

Dave Darrin heard, understood and nodded.

"Rope's ready in the chestnut tree," he called, as Dick started
on still another track, pursued, clumsily, by the angry bull.

"Get back out of harm's way," shouted Dick. "Get back, or you
will hinder me."

In three changing sprints Dick manoeuvred to reach the chestnut
tree, though the clumsy bull was barely twenty feet behind him
and coming fast.

As the rope hung from the crotch of the tree both ends trailed
on the ground. Seizing both lines Dick went up rapidly hand over
hand, his feet braced against the tree trunk. In this position
he was able to run nimbly up the side of the trunk.

Bump! The bull's head landed against the tree, the shock nearly
bringing the high school boy to the ground. Dick managed to hold
on to the rope, though his feet slipped from the trunk.

Rapidly he drew himself up into the crotch of the tree. Bump - -again!
Any animal with a head less hard would have been stunned outright.

Even Mr. Bull, after the second charge at the tree, backed off,
head lowered, pawing the ground, willing to consider ere making
a renewed attack.

The tree was in no danger of snapping. It was too stout for that.
Prescott's only danger, just at present, was that of being dislodged
by the force of those mad charges.

Turning, and beholding his friends closer than was safe, Prescott
shouted to them:

"Get back, fellows! You can't do any good here now, and the bull
may turn on you. Get 'way back! I'll call you when I'm ready
for your help."

"What do you think you're going to be able to do up that tree?"
jeered Danny Grin, as he nevertheless backed away with the others.

"I'm going to do something, if there's any way to do it," Dick
answered. "How is Clara?"

"Safe," pronounced Tom.

"Hysterical?"

"No; only trembling."

Dick had hauled up the rope. Now, with a speculative air, he
was making a slip noose at one end. He still hadn't a very definite
idea of what he was going to do to the bull. Prescott was making
a lariat, though he had no skill in the use of such a thing.

Presently, however, the mad animal came closer, stamping, head
lowered.

"Nice fellow! Nice fellow!" Dick called mockingly. "Wouldn't
you like to have me come down to talk with you?"

Attracted by the voice, the bull raised its head, showing its
flaming eyes.

"I wonder!" mused Dick, half aloud, as he leaned out cautiously
over a limb. "I wonder."

Then, by way of finding out, he dropped the noose suddenly. It
fell over the animal's head and around its neck.

Warned by the touch of the rope, the bull backed hastily off,
nearly hauling the high school boy out of the tree.

"There's just one chance to get you, and that's happening now,"
mused Dick Prescott, as, still holding to the rope, he fairly
shot down the tree trunk.

For an instant the bull watched as though incredulous. It gave
Dick time to touch his feet to the ground, passing the rope loosely
once around the tree trunk.

As the bull lumbered forward Prescott pulled on his rope, while
retreating in the opposite direction.

All in a twinkling the bull's head was close to the tree, and
Dick with the end of the rope in his hands, and aided by the twist
around the tree, had a leverage that enable him to hold the bull
there.

For a few moments the dirt fairly flew before the maddened animal's
efforts to free itself. Then, finding itself a prisoner, with
its head fastened close to the tree, the bull again stopped to
consider.

"You fellows can come over here now," Dick called. "The bull
is safely caught - -provided neither the rope nor the tree break."

With a yell of delight Dick's chums ran to the spot. Dr. Bentley
came, too, though he walked.

Dick's success did not seem destined, how ever to last. A halt
and a rest seemed to give the bull strength far greater than it
had used in pulling against the rope before. With an angry snort
the animal dug its hind hoofs into the soil and began to back
away.

"Help!" called Prescott, suddenly, for he found the rope slipping
through his fingers, the friction burning his flesh. Mr. Bull
had succeeded in backing four feet away from the tree. He would
speedily be able to free himself altogether.

Tom and Dave now came running. They threw their weight and muscle
upon the rope to hinder the captive animal. But that great creature
seemed likely soon to overcome the strength of all those combined
against him.

"Come on!" called Dick, backing away on a new course. "Off this
way, to the next tree behind me. Hold on and pull for every pound
you're worth."

Seeing his opponents plainly engaged in making some new move the
wild animal halted, eyeing them balefully. That hesitation proved
fatal to his immediate freedom, for Dick had succeeded in getting
the rope around the tree behind him. Now he took another quick
hitch, supplementing this with a knot, then another and a third.

"I guess we may all let go of the rope now," Prescott smiled.
"I don't believe the bull can pull successfully against that
triple knot."

Mr. Bull was trying it, at any rate. His angry bellows were almost
as loud as the roaring of a lion. Dirt flew. The beast exerted
its whole power in its efforts to get free.

"The knot will hold," pronounced Dr. Bentley, after a critical
survey. "The great danger is friction, which may wear out that
part of the rope hitched around the first tree. If that happens
we shall all have to run for our lives. Come back here, Prescott!
What are you going to do?"

For Dick, leaving the little group, had started on a run for the
bull.




CHAPTER XXIII

WHAT TAG "BORROWED" FROM THE DOCTOR


"I want to see how the rope is faring," Dick explained.

"If it fares badly," called Dr. Bentley dryly, "you will find
your curiosity possibly fatal. Come back here. It is time for
us to be getting away. I am sorry we have no fire arms, or we
could settle Mr. Bull very quickly. Come along, boys! Come,
Dick!"

But Prescott, for once, didn't prove over, tractable. He went
closer, anxiously studying the condition of the rope wound around
the first tree. Until Dick was ready to go none of his chums
would leave the scene. Dr. Bentley had turned away; but when
he found himself unaccompanied, he wheeled about once more.

"You can't do anything - -except run in danger, Dick," the physician
called anxiously.

"I am studying this business trying to find out if there isn't
something that I can do," Prescott replied.

"There isn't," Dr. Bentley assured the boy, walking over to him,
"and by staying you're only putting your life in almost certain
jeopardy."

But Prescott shook his head and went on studying the turn of rope
around the tree trunk.

"You foolhardy fellow, I wish I had authority to order you away
from here," exclaimed the physician irascible.

"I know you think I'm foolhardy, sir," Dick answered respectfully,
"but, from the way the rope is fraying, this beast is going to
be free presently. I feel that I simply have to find a way to
prevent his doing mischief. We boys can take to trees, but how
about the girls? How about Mrs. Bentley?"

"They can get inside of the wooden houses at need," urged Dr.
Bentley. "It is hardly likely that even a crazy bull would attack
a wooden house."

"He might charge through our camp, though, and frankly, doctor,
we can't afford to lose that camp," Prescott argued.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10

Online LibraryH. Irving HancockThe High School Boys in Summer Camp → online text (page 10 of 11)