The Winning Touchdown/Chapter 31

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CHAPTER XXXI


AFTER THE CHAIR


The four chums begged off from football practice directly after the first lecture the next morning, when they had a clear period until noon.

"Say, what's up?" demanded Kindlings, to whom they made the request.

"We want to go to Haddonfield and get our chair," explained Phil.

"And you want me to knock out a morning's practice, when you know how much the team needs it," went on the captain, reproachfully.

"We don't need it—so much," declared Sid.

"No, you fellows think you're perfect, I guess," and the captain looked injured, and spoke sarcastically.

"It isn't that," said Tom, eagerly, "but if we don't go, our chair may vanish again. We'll put in hard practice when we come back."

"Oh, well, then, go ahead," conceded Kindlings after a consultation with the coach. "I'll make you pay for it, though. If we lose the Boxer game, it will be up to you fellows."

"We won't lose!" declared Tom, confidently.

They caught the next trolley car for town, and, piloted by Frank, headed for the second-hand shop on the little side street.

"Now we'd better map out a plan of campaign," suggested Phil, as they neared the place. "If we go into the place, and demand the chair, the fellow may insist that he has a good claim on it, and raise a row. We can't take it away by force, and——"

"We sure can!" broke in Tom, indignantly. "That chair is our property, and we have a right to take it wherever we find it."

"Suppose the dealer bought it in good faith from some one who stole it from our room?" asked Sid.

"That makes no difference," went on Tom, who thought that perhaps some day he would study law. "If the dealer hasn't a good title to it, he can't claim it. We can take it away from him."

"How?" asked Sid. "Get a policeman and have him ride it away for us in the patrol wagon?"

"Yes, we could do that," agreed Frank, "but it would be sure to raise a row, and draw a crowd, and then folks would blame it on the pranks of some of the Randall boys. We can't afford to have that happen. Prexy wouldn't like it."

"But we've got to get our chair," insisted Sid.

"Isn't there some sort of a legal way of doing it?" asked Phil. "Can't we go to court and get a search warrant."

"What we need, in case we locate the chair, is a writ of replevin," declared Tom, as if he knew all the ins and outs of the legal game.

"Is replevin any relation, say a second cousin, to lis pendis?" asked Frank, who seemed to have a special fondness for that term.

"Nothing like it," asserted Tom. "To replevin your goods, it means you get a court order to take them wherever you can find them. Now my plan is this: We'll go into the store, look around until we locate our chair, and then boldly demand it. If the fellow refuses to give it up we'll go get a policeman, and swear out a warrant against him for receiving stolen goods. That's what it amounts to, and we three fellows are witnesses enough, and can prove that the chair is ours."

"Good!" cried Phil. "We're with you, Tom."

No better plan having been proposed, Tom's was agreed to, and they proceeded on toward the shop, having come to a halt to discuss the situation.

Eagerly they peered forward as they swung around the corner. Each of the three wanted to be first to sight their beloved chair. As for Frank, he felt that he had already seen it.

"That's the place," suddenly remarked the Californian. "That shop with the spinning wheel sign over the door. It's a queer old place, kept by a down-east Yankee, to judge by his talk."

"The worst kind of a fellow with whom to talk business such as we have," said Sid. "He'll stand on his rights to the last inch or penny. But there's no help for it."

They were almost in front of the place now, and they strove to appear indifferent—as though they were merely strolling by; for, as Tom said, first they wanted to catch a glimpse of their chair in the window, and then they would have the evidence they needed.

Four pairs of eyes were turned simultaneously toward the dingy casement, in which stood an odd assortment of chairs, tables, small sofas and other antique furniture. Four gasps of breath told more plainly than any words the shock of surprise that followed the glances.

"It isn't there!" cried Tom.

"It's gone!" added Sid. Truly enough there was no big, old-fashioned, easy chair in the window.

"Maybe it's in the other," suggested Frank. "I told you I wasn't sure whether it was the left or right window."

Phil darted across the doorway.

"It isn't over here, either!" he cried, as a rapid survey of the contents of that window disclosed the fact that it contained only some brass warming pans, a broken spinning wheel, some andirons and fire tongs.

"Perhaps it's inside," came from Frank. "This fellow changes his window goods every other day to attract trade. Let's go in."

There was nothing else to do after they had assured themselves, by eager glances through the windows, that their chair could not be seen from without.

"Well, gentlemen, what can I do for you today?" asked a little wizened man, with a much wrinkled face, as he came forward, briskly rubbing his hands. His face was smooth shaven, and seemed to be made of some kind of upholstery leather. His blue eyes were deep set, under shaggy brows. "Like something to furnish your college rooms with?" he went on, making a shrewd and correct guess as to their character. "I've got some sporty things, all right."

"Real sporty, eh?" asked Tom. "Something that will make our den look homelike?"

"Sure. Why, I can sell you a pair of andirons dirt cheap. Real antiques they be, too. Come over in the Mayflower. Then I've got a lot of Revolutionary muskets and swords you can hang up on the walls, and make it look like a regular den. Could you use a spinning wheel? I've got a dandy that just came in. I sold one like it to some girls from Fairview Institute the other day, and they paid me a good price. I could let you have this one a little cheaper, if you bought all your stuff from me. You're from Boxer Hall, ain't ye?"

"No, from Randall!" exclaimed Phil, indignantly.

"I—I meant to say Randall all the while!" exclaimed the man, in some confusion. "I don't know what's gittin' into me lately. Guess I need a new pair of eyes. That's twice I made a mistake like that. I might have knowed you was from Randall, of course. You fellers are goin' to beat them all holler in the championship game, ain't ye?"

"We hope so," answered Phil, "but we came to look for an old easy chair. We need one for our room, and we heard you had one that would suit us.'

"Easy chairs for college rooms? Why, I've got 'em by the bushel!" exclaimed the man, eager for business. "Look here!': and he led the way to the rear of his shop. "I've got 'em in Colonial style, early English, Flemish, Louis the Fourteenth, and almost any kind you like. What'll you have?"

The chums eagerly looked around the shop. Their chair was not in sight. Somehow their hearts sank, and they hardly dared ask the next question.

"Let's see a good, old-fashioned, easy chair. We don't care whether it's early Flemish or late Irish," said Phil.

"Something like the one you had in your window the other day," put in Tom. "A friend of ours saw that one, and told us about it. We'd like to look at that."

The dealer, who had been marching hopefully toward the rear of his shop, suddenly paused. He turned around and looked at the boys.

"Were you meanin' a big chair, with reddish-brown velour on it, and——"

"Claw legs!" interrupted Sid, eagerly.

"And lions' heads on the arms," put in Phil.

"That's it!" cried Tom. "Where is it? Show us that one!"

The dealer glanced at them sharply.

"Well, now I'm monstrous sorry," he began apologetically, "but I just traded that chair—traded it last night..

"Traded it?" gasped Frank.

"Last night?" echoed Sid.

"Yes," went on the dealer. "I had no call for it. You see, that old-fashioned upholstered stuff is out of date. What folks want now is real antiques like Louis the Fourteenth, or Mission. Mission is great stuff! Now I've got a Mission chair, in real Spanish leather, that——"

"How'd you come to trade our chair—I mean the one we hoped to call ours," and Phil quickly corrected himself, for it had been decided they would make no claim until they had assured themselves that it was really their chair.

"Well, the fact is a feller who's in the same line of business as I am wanted it more than I did," explained the Yankee dealer. "He offered me two spinning wheels for it, and I took him up. I've got quite a call for spinning wheels. Them girls over at Fairview College likes 'em for their rooms."

"That's so," murmured Phil, regretfully. "Ruth told me she got one the other day for their den."

"And you traded off our—I mean that easy chair?" went on Sid.

"Yes, I couldn't get rid of it, so I let it go."

"How'd you come to get hold of it?" asked Tom.

"Who'd you trade it to?" inquired Frank, and his question was the more practical. Yet the dealer answered Tom first.

"I bought it from a Hebrew peddler," he replied. "He come along one day with a load of stuff, and offered me the chair with some other things. Said he'd been buying 'em up at different colleges around here, and trading stuff for 'em. So I took the chair, and it was one of the few times I've been stuck. Still, I didn't make out so bad, as I got the spinning wheels for it."

"So you can't show it to us," spoke Sid.

"No, that chair's gone. But I've got lots of others. There's one real antique, in horsehair, and——"

"No, thanks!" interrupted Phil. "We'd slide off that every time we tried to go to sleep, it's so slippery."

"Then there's that Mission——" began the dealer, eagerly.

"No, we want one like that one which was in the window," spoke Tom.

"By the way, with whom did you say you traded it?" asked Frank, casually, as if it did not matter.

"I don't know his name," spoke the dealer. "I've done some business with him before, but not much."

"Is he in Haddonville?" Phil wanted to know.

"No, he's out in the country somewhere. Lives on a little farm, I believe, and does the furniture business as a side line. He also upholsters chairs, I understand. It was some name like Cohen, or Rosasky, or Isaacs I really forget. But now, if you're lookin' for chairs——"

"No, thank you," interrupted Tom. "I don't think we care to look at any to-day. If you could put us on the track of the one we saw, we might get that, and then we could buy others of you." He added this as a bait to the trader.

"Well, I'm very sorry, but I can't, for the life of me, think of the name of the man who took that old chair," declared the dealer. "But if it was a spinning wheel now, or something in Mission, I could——"

"Come on, fellows," interrupted Tom, sadly. "I—I guess we don't want anything to-day."

"Now I've got a real gem in Louis the Fourteenth," went on the man eagerly.

"No," said Phil, decidedly.

"Or early Flemish."

"Nothing doing," declared Sid.

"Or a Colonial sideboard and a warming pan—a warming pan is dead swell in the room of a college lad."

"No, we don't——" began Tom.

"Let's jolly him along," whispered Frank Simpson. "We want to get on the trail of that Hebrew. Now if we buy say, a warming pan, of this man, he may give us more information..

"Right!" whispered Tom, eagerly. "Why didn't I think of it myself? Of course! We do need a warming pan," he went on, winking at Phil and Sid, who at first thought their chum was out of his mind. Now if we could get a nice copper one, pretty good sized, it might do in place of the chair."

"For you to sit on," murmured Sid, keeping a straight face.

"I've got just what you want!" declared the dealer, happy now at the prospect of business. "Come back this way to the warming pan department. I've got one that came over in the vessel that followed the Mayflower."

"It must have been the Jilliflower," murmured Sid, with a silent chuckle.