Baseball Joe on the School Nine/Chapter 5

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"Well, Joe, what do you think about it?" Tom Davis glanced at his chum across the room as he asked this question. It was several hours after the snow battle, and the two lads were studying, or making a pretense at it.

"Think about what, Tom?"

"Oh, you know what I mean—what happened to-day, and how it's going to affect your chances for the nine. They look rather slim, don't they?"

"Well, Tom, I don't mind admitting that they do. I didn't know Hiram was such a high-mucky-muck in baseball here. But there's no use crying over spilled milk. He and I would have had a clash sooner or later, anyhow, and it might as well be first as last."

"It's too blamed bad though," went on Tom.

"Yes," agreed Joe, "especially as I picked out Excelsior Hall because their nine had so many victories to its credit, and because it had a good reputation. That's what partly induced you to come here, too, I guess."

"Well, yes, In a way. Of course I like baseball, but I'm not so crazy after it as you are. Maybe that's why I'm not such a good player. If I can hold down first, or play out in the field, it suits me; but you—"

"I want to be pitcher or nothing," interrupted Joe with a smile, "but I'm afraid I'm a long way from the box now."

"Yes, from what I can hear, Hiram has the inside track in the baseball game. He's manager chiefly because he puts up a lot of money for the team, and because his friends, what few he has, are officers in the organization."

"Who's captain?" asked Joe. "Maybe I could induce him to let me play even if Hiram is down on me."

"Nothing doing there," replied Tom quickly. "Luke Fodick is captain, or, rather he was last year, I hear, and he's slated for the same position this season. Luke and Hiram are as thick as such fellows always are. When Hiram is hit Luke does the boo-hoo act for him. No, Luke will be down on you as much as his crony is. But maybe we can get up a second nine, and play some games on our own hook!"

"None of" Joe exclaimed quickly. "I'm not an insurgent. I play with the regulars or not at all. They'd be saying all sorts of things against me if you and I tried to start an opposition team."

"That's so. Still it mightn't be a bad idea, under the circumstances, to have another team, if it wasn't for what the school would say."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, Excelsior got dumped in the inter-scholastic league last season. They play for the blue banner you know—a sort of prize trophy—and it was won by Morningside Academy, which now holds it. That's why I say it might be a good thing to have some more ginger in the team here. I know you could put it in, after the way you pitched on the Silver Stars when they licked the Resolutes."

"Well, it can't be done I'm afraid," Joe rejoined. "There can only be one first team in a school, and I don't want to disrupt things or play second fiddle. If I can't get on the nine I'll have to stay off, that's all. But it's going to be mighty tough to sit still and watch the other fellows play, and all the while just itching to get hold of the ball—mighty tough," and Joe gazed abstractedly about the room.

"I wish I could help you, old man, but I can't," said Tom. "I suppose this clash with Hiram had to come but I do wish it had held off until after the season opened. Once you were on the nine you could show the fellows what stuff you had in your pitching arm, and then Hiram and Luke could do their worst, but they couldn't get you off the team."

"That's nice of you to say, but I don't know about it," remarked Joe. "Well, I'm about done studying. I wish——"

But he did not finish the sentence, for there came a knock on the door—a pre-arranged signal in a certain code of raps, showing that one of their classmates stood without.

"Wait a minute," called Tom, as he went to open the door.

His quick view through the crack showed the smiling faces of Teeter and Peaches, and there was an audible sigh of relief from Joe's room-mate. For Tom had fallen behind in his studies of late, and had been warned that any infractions of the rules might mean his suspension for a week or two.

"Gee, you took long enough to open the door," complained Teeter, "especially considering what we have with us."

"Don't you mean 'whom' you have with you?" asked Joe, nodding toward Peaches.

"No, I mean 'what'," insisted Teeter with a grin as he unbuttoned his coat and brought into view several pies, and a couple of packages done up in paper.

"Oh, that's the game, is it?" asked Joe with a laugh.

"And there's more to it," added Peaches, as he produced two bottles from the legs of his trousers. "This is the best strawberry pop that can be bought. We'll have a feast as is a feast; eh, fellows?"

"Lock the door!" exclaimed Tom, and he did it himself, being nearest to it. "There may be confiscating spirits abroad in the land to-night."

"Old Sixteen is abroad, anyhow," spoke Teeter with a laugh, "but I guess we'll be safe. I have a scheme. If worst comes to worst."

"What is it?" asked Joe.

"You'll see when the time comes—if it does. 'Now, on with the dance—let joy be unconfined!' Open the pop, Peaches, and don't sample it until we're all ready. Got any glasses, you fellows? This is a return game for the treat you gave us the other night."

"Then we'll find the glasses all right," spoke Joe with a laugh.But what's your game, not to let old Sixteen catch us at this forbidden mid-night feast? Have you dummies in your beds?"

"Not a dum. But watch my smoke."

From the parcels he carried, Teeter produced what looked to be books—books, as attested by the words on their cover—books dealing with Latin, and the science of physics.

"There are our plates," he said as he laid the books down on the table. Then Joe and Tom saw that the books were merely covers pasted over a sort of box into which a whole pie could easily be put. "Catch the idea," went on Teeter. "We are eating in here, which is against the rules, worse luck. But, perchance, some monitor or professor knocks unexpectedly. Do we have to hustle and scramble to conceal our refreshments? Answer—we do not. What do we do?"

"Answer," broke in Peaches. "We merely slip our pie or sandwiches or whatever it happens to be, inside our 'books,' and go right on studying. Catch on?"

"I should say we did!" exclaimed Joe. "That's great!"

"But what about the bottles of strawberry pop?" asked Tom. "We can't hide them in the fake books."

"No, I've another scheme for that," went on Teeter. "Show 'em, Peaches."

Thereupon Peaches proceeded to extract the corks from the bottles of liquid refreshment. From the packages Teeter had brought he took some other corks. They had glass tubes through them, two tubes for each cork. And on one tube in each cork was a small rubber hose.

"There!" exclaimed Teeter as Peaches put the odd corks in the bottles. "We can pour out the pop with neatness and dispatch into our glasses and at the same time, should any one unexpectedly enter, why—we are only conducting an experiment in generating oxygen or hydrogen gas. The bottles are the retorts, and we can pretend our glasses are to receive the gas. How's that?"

"All to the horse radish!" cried Joe in delight.

"Then proceed," ordered Teeter with a laugh; and when all was in readiness each lad sat with a fake book near him, into which he could slip his piece of pie at a moment's warning, while on the table stood the bottles of pop with the tubes and hose extending from their corks—truly a most scientific-looking array of flasks and glassware.

"Now let's talk," suggested Teeter, biting generously into a pie. "That was a great fight we had to-day, all right."

"And there might have been one of a different kind," added Peaches. "Hear anything more from Hiram, Joe?"

"No, I don't expect to—until the next time, and then I suppose we'll have it out."

"I guess Joe's goose is cooked as far as getting on the nine is concerned," ventured Tom.

"Sure thing," agreed Peaches.

"Yet we're going to need a new pitcher," went on Teeter. "Probably two of 'em?"

"How's that?" asked Tom interestedly.

"Why Rutherford, our star man of last year, graduated, and he's gone to Princeton or Yale. Madison, the substitute who was pretty good in a pinch game, graduated, too; but we thought he was coming back for an extra course in Latin. I heard to-day that he isn't, and so that means we'll have to have two new box-men. There might be a show for Joe."

"Forget it!" advised Peaches. "Not the way Hiram and Luke feel. They went off by themselves right after supper to-night, and I heard them saying something about Joe here, but I couldn't catch what it was. Oh, they're down on him all right, for Joe backed Hiram to a to-day, and that hasn't happened to the bully in a blue moon."

"Oh, well, I guess I can live if I don't get on the nine my first season here," spoke Joe. "I'll keep on trying though."

Thus the talk went on, chiefly about baseball, and gradually the strawberry pop was lowered in the bottles, and the pie was nearly consumed.

"Guess you had all your trouble for nothing, Teeter," remarked Tom. "We aren't going to be interrupted to-night."

Hardly had he spoken than there was the faint rattle of the door knob. It was as if some one had tried it to see if the portal was unlocked before knocking. Slight as the noise was, the lads heard it.

"Quick! On the job!" whispered Teeter. He crammed the rest of his pie into the fake book, as did the others.

"Study like blazes!" was Teeter's next order.

There came a knock at the door.

"Young gentlemen have you any visitors?" demanded the omnious voice of Professor Rodd.

Teeter placed the ends of the rubber tubes one in each of two glasses before Joe could answer.

"I heard voices in there—more than two voices," went on the Latin instructor grimly, "and I demand that you open the door before I send for Dr. Filhnore and the janitor."

Tom slid to the portal and unlocked it. Professor Rodd stepped into the room and his stern gaze took in the two visitors. But he also saw something else that surprised him.

On the table was apparatus that very much resembled some used for experiments in the physics class. And, wonder of wonders, each of the four lads held a book in his hand—a book that the merest glance showed to be either a Latin grammar or a treatise on chemistry.

"What—why—?" faltered the professor.

"Aliqui—aliquare aliqua," recited Teeter in a sing-song declension voice. "Aliquorum—aliquarum—aliquorum." Then he pretended to look up suddenly, as if just aware of the presence of the instructor.

"Oh, good evening. Professor Rodd," said Teeter calmly.

"What does this mean?" exclaimed the teacher "Don't you know it is against the rules for students to visit in each others' rooms after hours without permission?"

"I knew it was—that is for anything but study," replied Teeter frankly. "I didn't think you minded if we helped each other with our Latin." Oh! what an innocent look was on his face!

"Oh!—er—um—and you are studying Latin?" asked the professor, while a pleased smile replaced his frown.

"Yes, Professor," put in Peaches. "And I can't seem to remember, nor find, what the neuter plural accusative of 'some' is. I have gone as far as aliquos—aliquas, but—"

"Aliqua—aliqua!" exclaimed the Professor quickly. "You ought not to forget that. We had it in class the other day."

"Oh, yes, so we did! " exclaimed Teeter. "I just remember now; don't you, Joe?"

"Yes," murmured Joe, wondering whether or not they had turned the tables on the teacher.

"I am glad to see you so studious," went on Mr. Rodd. "And I see you do not neglect your physics, either. Ah—er—what is the red liquid in the bottles," and he looked at what remained of the strawberry pop.

It was the question Tom and Joe had feared would be asked. But Teeter was equal to the emergency.

"Professor," he a9ked innocently, "isn't there some rule regarding quis used in the indefinite in connection with aliquis?"

"Yes, and I am glad you spoke of that," said Mr. Rodd quickly, rubbing his hands, much pleased that he had a chance to impart some Latin information. "Quis indefinite is found in the following compounds: aliquis—someone; si quis, if any; ne quis, lest any; ecquis, num quis, whether any. I am very glad you brought that up. I will speak of it in class to-morrow. But I must go now."

The boys began to breathe easier and Teeter, who had been whispering declensions to himself, left off.

"Oh, by the way," spoke the Professor, as if he had just thought of it: "I don't mind you boys studying together, if you don't stay up too late. But it is better to ask permission. However, I will speak to Dr. Fillmore about it, and it will be all right from now on. I am pleased that some of my students are so painstaking. I wish more were."

With a bow he left them and they tried not to give way to their exultation until he was far down the corridor.

"Say, talk about pulling off a stunt! We did it all right!" exclaimed Joe.

"I should say yes," agreed the others.