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Produced by Jim Ludwig

In the Three Town League

Donald Ferguson


I. Some of the Scranton Boys
II. The Man with the Cough
III. Hugh has Suspicions
IV. The Barnacle that Came to Stay
V. Scranton Tackles Bellevue High
VI. A Hot Finish
VII. What Thad Saw
VIII. A Bad Outlook for Brother Lu
IX. Setting the Man Trap
X. How Jim Pettigrew Fixed It
XI. Something Goes Wrong
XII. Scranton Fans Have a Painful Shock
XIII. Hugh Tries His "Fade-Away" Ball
XIV. Farmer Bernard Collects His Bill
XV. The Puzzle is Far from Being Solved
XVI. An Adventure on the Road
XVII. The Wonderful News
XVIII. When the Wizard Waves His Wand
XIX. Scranton High Evens Matters Up
XX. A Glorious Finish - -Conclusion



"Too bad that rain had to come, and spoil our practice for today, boys!"

"Yes, and there's only one more chance for a work-out between now and
the game with Belleville on Saturday afternoon, worse luck, because
here it's Thursday."

"We need all the practice we can get, because if that O.K. fellow,
who dropped in to see us from Belleville, tells the truth, both his
club and Allandale are stronger than last year. Besides, I hear they
have each set their hearts on winning the championship of the Three
Town High School League this season."

"For one, I know I need more work at the bat. I've improved some, but
I'm not satisfied with myself yet."

"You've improved a whole lot, Owen!"

"That's right, 'Just' Smith, he's made such progress in bunting, and
picking out drops and curves and fast ones, under the watchful eye of
our field captain, Hugh Morgan here, that several other fellows on the
nine are below him in batting average right now, and I regret to say
I'm one of the lot."

The boy who answered to the name of Owen turned red at hearing this
honest praise on the part of his fellow students of Scranton High;
but his eyes sparkled with genuine pleasure at the same time.

A bunch of well-grown and athletic-looking high-school boys had left
the green campus, with its historical fence, behind them, and were on
their way home. It was in the neighborhood of two o'clock, with
school over for the day.

Just as one of them had said, a drizzly rain in the morning had
spoiled all chance for that day of doing any practice in the way of
playing ball. Mr. Leonard, second principal of the Scranton schools
under Dr. Carmack (who was also county supervisor, with dominion over
the Allandale and Belleville schools), had consented to act as coach
to the baseball team this season. He was a Princeton grad. and had
gained quite some little fame as a member of the Tiger nine that swept
Yale off its feet one great year.

Besides Owen Dugdale, there were "Just" Smith, Thad Stevens, Hugh
Morgan, Kenneth Kinkaid and Horatio Juggins in the bunch that started
off from the school grounds in company, though they would presently
break away as they neared their several homes.

"Just" Smith had another name, for he had been christened Justin;
but he himself, in answering to the calls for Smith, would always
call out "Just Smith, that's all," and in the course of time it clung
to him like a leech.

Kenneth Kinkaid, too, was known far and wide as "K.K.," which of
course was only an abbreviation of his name. Some said he was a
great admirer of Lord Kitchener, who had recently lost his life
on the sea when the vessel on which he had started for Russia was
sunk by a German mine or submarine; and that Kenneth eagerly took
advantage of his initials, being similar to those of Kitchener of
Khartoum fame.

Horatio Juggins was an elongated chap whose specialty, besides capturing
balloon fliers out in right field with wonderful celerity, consisted
in great throwing to the home plate, and also some slugging when at bat.

Thad Stevens was the catcher, and a good one at that, everybody seemed
to believe. He, too, could take his part in a "swat-fest" when a
rally was needed to pull the Scranton boys out of a bad hole. Thad
had always been a close chum of the captain of the team, Hugh Morgan.
Together they had passed through quite a number of camp outings, and
were said to be like twins, so far as never quarreling went.

This same Hugh was really a clever fellow, well liked by most of the
Scranton folks, who admired his high sense of honor. He was averse
to fighting, and had really never been known to indulge in such
things, owing to a promise made to his mother, the nature of which
the new reader can learn if he wishes, by securing the first volume
of this Series. In so doing he will also learn how on one momentous
occasion the peace-loving Hugh was brought face to face with a dilemma
as to whether he should hold his hand, and allow a weaker friend to be
brutally mauled by the detestable town bully, Nick Lang, or stand up in
his defense; also just how he acquitted himself in such an emergency.

First "K.K." dropped away from the group as he came to the corner that
was nearest his home. Boy-like, he sang out to the rest as he swung

"I'm as hungry as a bear, fellows, and I happen to know our hired
girl's going to have corned beef and cabbage for noon today. That's
said to be a plebeian dish, but it always appeals to me more than
anything else."

"Huh! you needn't boast, K.K.," said the Juggins boy, "over at _our_
house Thursday is religiously given over to vegetable soup, and I'm
good for at least three bowls of it every time. Then it's also a
baking day, so there'll be fresh bread rolls, as brown on the outside
as nuts in November. Whew! I just can't hold back any longer," and
with that Horatio started on a dog-trot through a short cut-off that
would take him to a gate in the back fence of his home grounds.

So presently when Owen and "Just" Smith had also separated themselves
from the balance there were only Thad and Hugh remaining; nor did
they waste any time in talking, for a high-school boy is generally
ferociously hungry by the time two in the afternoon comes around;
although at intermission, around eleven in the morning, in Scranton
High they were given an opportunity to buy a lunch from the counter
where a few substantial things, as well as fresh milk and chocolate,
were dispensed by a woman who was under the supervision of the school

"Since our baseball practice is off for today, Thad," remarked Hugh,
as they were about to separate, "suppose you drop over and join me.
I've got an errand out a short distance in the country, and we can
walk it, as the roads are too muddy and slippery for our wheels."

"Yes, I have hated riding on slippery roads ever since I had that
nasty spill, and hurt my elbow last winter," replied the other,
rubbing his left arm tenderly at the same time, as though even the
recollection after months had passed caused him to have tender memories
of the pain he had endured. "Lucky it wasn't my right wing that
got the crack, Hugh, because it sometimes feels sore even now, and
I'm sure it would interfere with my throwing down to second. But of
course I'll join you. I've nothing else that I want to this afternoon."

"Mother asked me if I'd go out to the Sadler Farm for her the first
chance I got, and already it's been put off too long, owing to our
keeping continually at practice every afternoon this week. She gets
her fresh sweet butter from Mrs. Sadler, and their horse is sick, so
they don't deliver it nowadays. Look for you inside of half an hour,

"I'll be along, never fear," sang out his chum, as he hurried off,
doubtless smelling in imagination the fine warm lunch his devoted
mother always kept for him on the back of the stove.

Thad was at the back door of the Morgan house inside of the stipulated
time, and being perfectly at home there he never bothered knocking,
but stalked right in, to find Hugh doing something in his own room.
Like most high-school boys' "dens," this apartment was a regular
curiosity shop, for the walls were fairly covered with college pennants,
and all manner of things connected with athletic sports, as well
as pictures that indicated a love for fishing and gunning on the
part of the young occupant; but every illustration was well chosen,
and free from the slightest taint of anything bordering on the vulgar
or the sensational. There was not a single picture of a notorious
or famous boxer; or any theatrical beauties, to be seen. Evidently
Hugh's fancy ran along the lines of clean sport, and healthy outdoor

So the two chums started off for a walk, their pace a brisk one,
because the air after that recent spell of rain was quite cool and
invigorating, Indeed, once Thad even deplored the fact that Mr.
Leonard had thought it best to call off practice for that afternoon.

"Well," remarked Hugh on hearing him say that, "Mr. Leonard was of
the opinion we were rather overdoing the matter, and might go stale.
He told me so, and said that in his experience he had known more than
a few teams to overdo things, and lose their best gait in too much
work. He says one more test ought to put the proper fighting spirit
in us, and that he feels confident we'll be keyed up to top-notch
speed by tomorrow night. I think our pitcher, Alan Tyree, is doing
better than ever before in his life; and those Belleville sluggers
are going to run up against a surprise if they expect him to be an
easy mark."

In due time they reached the farm, and securing several pounds of
freshly-made butter that had not even been salted, and was called
"sweet butter," they started back. Thad proposed that they take a
roundabout route home, just for a change; and this small thing was
fated to bring them into contact with a trifling adventure that would
cause them both considerable bewilderment, and be a cause for
conjecture for days and weeks to come.

"I smell wood smoke," remarked Thad, after they had gone about a
third of the distance; "and as the wind is almost dead ahead the fire
must be in that direction. There's no house in that quarter that I
remember, Hugh. There, now can see smoke coming out of that thin
patch of woods yonder. I wonder if they're meaning to cut those
trees down and clear more land?"

"No, you're away off there, Thad," remarked Hugh, just then. "I can
glimpse the fire now, and there's just one chap hanging over it.
Don't you see he's a Weary Willie of a hobo, who's getting his dinner
ready with wet wood. Here's a chance for us to see just how the thing
is done, so let's make him a friendly call!"



Thad seemed quite agreeable.

"Do you know I've never come in close contact with any tramp," he went
on to remark, as they turned their faces toward the patch of trees
where the smoke arose, "and I've always wanted to watch just how they
managed. I note that this fellow has a couple of old tomato cans
he's picked up on some dump, and they're set over the fire to warm
up some coffee, or something he's evidently gotten at a back door.
Perhaps he'll be sociable, and invite us to join him in his
afternoon meal. I guess they eat at any old time, just as the notion
seizes them, eh, Hugh?"

"They're a good deal like savages in that respect, I understand,"
the other told him. "You know Indians often go a whole day without
breaking their fast; but when they do eat they stuff themselves until
they nearly burst. There, he has seen us coming in, for he's shading
his eyes with his hand, and taking a good look."

"I hope we haven't given him a scare," chuckled Thad, "under the
impression that one of us may be the sheriff, or some indignant
farmer who's lost some of his chickens lately, and traced them feathers
to this camping spot."

The hobo, however, did not attempt to run. He watched their approach
with interest, and even waved a friendly hand toward the two lads.

"Why, evidently he's something of a jolly dog," remarked the surprised
Thad, "and there are no chicken feathers around that I can notice.
Hello, bo', getting your five o'clock tea ready, I see."

At these last words, called out louder than ordinary, the man in the
ragged and well-worn garments grinned amiably.

"Well, now, young feller," he went on to say in a voice that somehow
was not unpleasant to Hugh's ear, "that's about the size of it. I
haven't had a bite since sun-up this morning, and I'm near caving in.
Out for a walk, are you, lads?"

"Oh! we live in Scranton," Hugh explained, "and I had an errand up
beyond. We went by another road, and came back this way, which is
why we sighted your smoke. Fact is, Thad, my chum here, has never
seen a knight of the railroad ties cooking his grub, and he said
he'd like to drop in and learn just how you managed, because he's
read so much about how splendidly tramps get on."

"That's all right, young feller," said the other, cheerily. "Find
seats on that log yonder. I ain't got much in my larder today,
but what there is will fill a mighty big vacuum in my interior,
let me tell you. This here is coffee in the first can - -mebbe
not just what you boys is accustomed to at your breakfast tables,
but good enough for me when it's piping hot. I don't take any frills
with wine either, in the way of cream and sugar, leaving all that
for those that sit at white tablecloths and have silver as well
as china dishes. In this other can I've got some soup. Never mind
where I got it; some ladies, bless their hearts, are pretty kind;
and I always make it a point to carry several empty tomater cans
with me wherever I go. Besides that, in this newspaper here I've
got some bread, and two fine pieces of bologna sausage that I bought
in a village I came through. So altogether I'm expecting to have
a right swell feast pretty soon."

Thad looked interested in these things. He even peeped into the two
cans, and decided that wherever the tramp got that coffee it certainly
could be no "slops," for it had the real odor. The warmed-over soup,
too, smelled very appetizing, Thad admitted. On the whole, he
concluded that tramps were able to make out very well, when they knew
the ropes of the game, and how to beg at back doors.

Hugh, on the other hand, was more interested in the man himself than
in his limited possessions. He saw that the other was past middle
age, for his face was covered with a bristly beard of a week's growth,
verging on gray. His cheeks were well filled out, and his blue eyes
had what Hugh determined was a humorous gleam about them, as though
the man might be rather fond of a joke.

He was the picture of what a regular tramp should be, there could
be no getting around that, Hugh determined. He rather believed
that, like most of his kind, this fellow also had a history back
of him, which would perhaps hardly bear exploiting. Doubtless there
were pages turned down in his career, things that he himself seldom
liked to remember, giving himself up to a life of freedom from care,
and content to take things each day as they came along, under the
belief that there were always sympathetic women folks to be found who
would not refuse a poor wanderer a meal, or a nickel to help him along
his way.

Apparently he had been just about ready to sit down and make way
with his meal at the time the boys arrived on the scene; for he now
took both tin carts from their resting places over the red embers of
his fire, and opening the package produced the bread and the bologna.
This latter looked big enough to serve a whole family of six; but
then a tramp's appetite is patterned very much on the order of a
growing boy's, and knows no limit.

Having spread his intended food around him as he squatted there, the
hobo gave the boys a queer look.

"You'll excuse me if I don't ask you to join me, youngsters," he went
on to say. "I'd do the same in a jiffy if the supply wasn't limited;
besides, I don't know just what sort of a reception I'm going to meet
with in your town."

"Oh! no apologies needed, old chap," said Thad, quickly. "We had
our lunch only an hour or so ago and couldn't take a bite to save us
now. But say everything seems mighty good, if the smell counts for
much. So pitch right in and fill up. We'll continue to sit here
and chat with you, if you don't mind, Bill."

"That's all right, governor, only my name don't happen to be Bill,
even if I belong to the tribe of Weary Willies. I'm known far and
wide as Wandering Lu; because, you see, I've traveled all over the
whole known world, and been in every country the sun shines on.
Just come from the oil regions down in Texas, because, well, my
health is failing me, and I'm afraid I'm going into a decline."

At that he started to coughing at a most tremendous rate. Thad
looked sympathetic.

"You certainly do seem to have a terribly bad cold, Lu," he told
the tramp, as the other drew out a suspicious looking red handkerchief
that had seen better days, to wipe the tears from his eyes, after he
had succeeded in regaining his breath, following the coughing spell.

The man put a dirty hand in the region of his heart and winced.

"Hurts most around my lungs," he said, "and mebbe I've got the con.
I spent some time in a camp where fifty poor folks was sleeping
under canvas down in Arizona, and I'm a whole lot afraid I may have
caught the disease there. So, being afraid my time would soon come
I just made up my mind to look up a sister of mine that I ain't
heard a word from for twenty years or more, and see if she was in
a position to support me the short time I'd have to live."

Thad heard this with evident interest. At the same time it occurred
to him the stalwart tramp was hardly a fit subject for a speedy death;
indeed, he looked as though he might hold out for a good many years
still, except when he fell into one of those coughing spells, and
seemed to be racked from head to foot with the exertion.

Hugh saw that the fellow had an engaging manner, and a smooth tongue.
He was trying to make out just what sort of a man this same Lu might
be, if one could read him aright. Was he crooked, and inclined to
evil ways; or, on the other hand, could he be taken at face value
and set down as a pretty square sort of a fellow?

"Listen, young fellers," remarked the still eating hobo, later on,
"didn't you tell me you lived in the place called Scranton, when
you're to home?"

"Yes, that's so," Thad assured him. "Know anybody there, Lu, and do
you want us to take him your best compliments?"

The tramp grinned amiably.

"I reckon you're something of a joker, younker," he went on to say.
"Now, about the folks in Scranton, I suppose you boys know about
everybody in town?"

"Well, hardly that," Hugh told him, "since Scranton is a place of
some seven or eight thousand inhabitants, and new people are constantly
coming in."

"All the same," added Thad, "we do know a good many, and it's just
as likely we might be acquainted with your friend. What's his name,
Wandering Lu?"

"First place, it ain't a he at all, but a lady," the other explained,
looking a little serious for once.

"Oh! excuse the mistake, will you?" chuckled Thad, highly amused at
the airs the disreputable looking grizzled old chap put on when he
made this statement. "Well, we have some acquaintance among the
ladies of the town also. They're nearly all deeply interested just
now in helping Madame Pangborn do Red Cross work for her beloved
poilus over in brave France. I suppose now you've traveled through
that country in your time, Lu?"

"Up and down and across it for hundreds of miles, afoot, and in
trains," quickly replied the old fellow, "and say, there ain't any
country under the sun that appeals more to me than France did. If I
was twenty years younger, hang me if I wouldn't find a way to cross
over there now, and take my place in the trenches along with them
bully fighters, the French frog-eaters. But I'm too old; and
besides, this awful cough grips me every once in so often."

Even the mention of it set him going again, although this time the
spasm was of shorter duration, Hugh noticed; just as though he had
shown them what he could do along such lines, and did not want to
exhaust himself further.

"But about this lady friend of yours, Lu, would you mind mentioning
her name, and then we could tell you if we happen to know any such
person in Scranton?" and Thad gave the other a confiding nod as
if to invite further confidence.

"Let's see, it was so long back I almost forget that her name was
changed after she got hitched to a man. Do you happen to know a
chap who goes by the name of Andrew Hosmer?"

The boys exchanged looks.

"That must be the sick husband of Mrs. Hosmer, who sews for my mother,"
remarked Thad, presently. "Yes, I remember now that his first name
is Andrew."

"Tell me," the tramp went on, now eagerly, "is his wife living, do
you mean, younker, this Mrs. Hosmer, and is her name Matilda?"

"Just what it happens to be," Thad admitted. "So she is the lady
you want to see, is she, Lu? What can poor old Mrs. Hosmer, who
has seen so much trouble of late years, be to you, I'd like to know?"

The man allowed a droll look to come across his sun-burned face with
its stubbly growth of gray beard. There was also a twinkle in his
blue eyes as he replied to this query on the part of Thad Stevens.

"What relation, you ought to say, younker, because Matilda, she's
my long-lost sister, and the one I'm a-hopin' will nurse me from
now on till my time comes to shuffle off this planet and go hence!"

The two boys heard this stunning announcement with mingled feelings.
Thad looked indignant while Hugh on his part tried to read between
the lines, and understand whether there could be any meaning to the
tramp's declaration than what appeared on the face of it.



"Well, old man," remarked Thad, "I'm afraid you're in for a
disappointment about as soon as you strike Scranton; because if Mrs.
Hosmer is your long-lost sister, she isn't in any position to help
you pass the time away till you kick the bucket. Why, even as it is,
she has a hard time getting along, and my mother as well as some of
the other ladies give her sewing to do to help tide over. She can
hardly make enough to keep herself and her husband going."

The tramp shook his head sadly.

"Say, I'm right grieved to hear that, son," he went on to observe,
seriously. "Course it's goin' to be a hard blow to poor old Lu,
after working his way up here all these months, and nearly coughing
his head off at times, to find out that his only relation in the
wide world ain't well off in this world's goods. But then Matilda
she always was soft-hearted, and mebbe now she might find a hole
in her humble home where her poor old brother could stay the short
time he's got in this world of trouble and sorrow. I could do with
less to eat if I had to, gents; and blood was always thicker'n water
with Matilda."

Thad felt indignant. The idea of this sleek-looking old rascal
settling down on his poor sister, and making her support him, was
too much for his temper.

"Well, I'd be ashamed if I were you, Wandering Lu, to even think of
letting any woman earn my living for me, no matter if she did happen
to be a sister. As it is, she's hard pushed at times to get enough
food together for herself and her husband."

"Why, what's the matter with Andrew; why can't he do his share?"
demanded the other, boldly, and Thad thought he looked disgusted at
the poor prospect before him.

"Mr. Hosmer is really sick," explained the boy; "and there's no
humbug about his ailment, either. I heard the doctor tell my mother
that it was partly due to a lack of substantial food for years.
You see, the woman herself was ill for a long time, and her husband
worked himself to skin and bone trying to provide for her. Then
she got over her trouble, and now it's his turn to go under. He has
tried to work a number of times, but fainted at his bench in the
shop from sheer weakness."

"Gee! I'm sorry to hear that," muttered the other, shrugging his
broad shoulders as he spoke, and shaking his head from side to side,
as though he feared some hope he had been cherishing was on the
point of vanishing. "But then mebbe Andrew he may get better again,
and be able to work at his trade, because if I really got consumption
there ain't any chance for me to be doin' in this world."

Thad showed signs of growing angry, but pinched his arm, and muttered
in his ear:

"Just hold your horses, Thad. We can't stop him, if he's set on

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Online LibraryDonald FergusonThe Chums of Scranton High out for the Pennant → online text (page 1 of 10)