Baseball Joe on the School Nine/Chapter 30

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There were the usual cheers first by the victors and then by the vanquished, and it would be hard to say which were the heartiest. For Morningside was a good loser and next to a well-beaten rival, she loved a staunch victorious one.

"You fellows certainly did us up good and proper—the worst beating we ever got," admitted Captain Dalton to Ward.

"That's what we came here for," was the reply. "It was Joe's twirling that did it."

"Get out!" cried the modest pitcher.

"Yes, that certainly held us down," went on Dalton. "We couldn't seem to find you. I'll need some new pitchers next season, I guess, for you certainly batted Ted and Sam all over. But I'm not kicking. How are you fixed for next year, Joe? Don't you want to come to Morningside?" and he laughed.

"I don't know," answered our hero. "I haven't quite made up my mind what I shall do. I'm going to play ball, I know that much, anyhow.

"I should think you would—any fellow who can twirl the horsehide as you can. Well, might as well get off these togs," spoke Dalton. "I won't need 'em here any more this season, though I'm going to join some amateur team for the vacation if I can."

The cheering and yelling kept up for some time; and then with the glorious Blue Banner, that meant so much to them in their possession, the Excelsior Hall lads started back for the school.

"So you don't know what you are going to do next season, eh, Joe?" asked Tom, as he and his chum were riding back. "I thought you'd stick on here."

"Well, I'd like to, first rate but I don't know how dad's business is going to be since this second robbery. I may have to leave school."

"Oh, I hope not. So they haven't any trace of the missing papers and models?"

"Not according to what I last heard. I'm going to get on the trail of that scamp, Holdney, this vacation, though."

As might have been guessed, there was a big banquet for the baseball team that night. And such a spread as It was, held in the big gymnasium. Every player came in for his share of praise, and there was so much of it for Joe; and his health was drunk In soda and ginger ale so often that his complexion was like that of Peaches'—red and white by turns. But nearly everyone felt that he deserved all the nice things that were said about him, not only for his share in the victory, but for what he had suffered.

There were two absentees at the banquet—and only two. One was Hiram Shell and the other Luke Fodick. Luke humbly told Dr. Fillmore that he thought it best to leave the school after what had happened. The good doctor thought so, too, for it would have been hard for Luke to live down what he had done.

As for Hiram, he said nothing, but when he knew that Luke had made his confession, the bully, after using harsh language to his former crony, quietly packed his things and went also. He sent word to Sam, at Morningside, that "the jig" was up, and there was a pre-vacatlon vacancy on the books of that institution.

It was never definitely stated who had pulled down the statue, but the withdrawal of Hiram, Luke and Sam was confession enough.

It was in the midst of the banquet, when Joe had been called upon to respond to the toast, "The Baseball Nine," that a messenger was seen to enter with a telegram.

"It's for Joe Matson," the boy announced loudly enough for all to hear. "Gee, but he's de stuff; eh? I'd like to shake hands wit a pitcher like dat! I'm goin' t' be one mysel' some day. Here's de tick-tick, sport," and he passed the message to Joe, at the same time regarding our hero with worshipful eyes.

Joe read the message at a glance, and a change come over his face.

"No bad news, I hope," murmured Tom, who stood near him.

"No, it's the very best!" cried the young pitcher, and he showed Tom the telegram. "I wired dad that we'd won the game," Joe stated.

Mr. Matson said in his telegram:

"Best of congratulations. Models and papers recovered. Everything all right."

"Hurray!" yelled Tom, waving the message above his head. "Three cheers for Baseball Joe!" and, when the cheers had subsided he briefly informed his mates what the telegram meant to our hero. Mr. Matson would still retain his fortune, and probably make more money than ever out of his patents.

"Gee! Dis is great!" murmured the diminutive messenger, as he listened to the cheers and watched the jolly crowd of students. "I wish I was studyin' here!"

Joe shook the messenger's hand and left in it a crisp bill, to show his appreciation of the good news the lad had brought. And the toasting, the cheering and singing went on again.

"Now you can continue your studies," said Tom to Joe.

"Yes, I suppose so," was the answer.

"Maybe I'll even go to college.

What were his further fortunes on the diamond I shall tell you in the next book of this series, to be called: "Baseball Joe at Yale; or Pitching for the College Championship." In that we shall see him in adventures as strenuous as any he had yet encountered.

"One last song, fellows, and then we'll quit!" called Peaches. "I want you all to join with me in singing: 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow,' and by 'He' I mean Joe Matson—Baseball Joe!"

And as the strains of that ever-jolly, and yet somewhat sad, song are dying away, we will take our leave for a time of Baseball Joe and his friends.