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solved now that he would drop around there You see a lot of things from the bench that very soon and pay his bill before his money you don't see from the stand. Besides, was gone. After paying his school-bill for you 've got to know football to understand the first half year, he and Ned had shared it. Now you take" slightly more than twenty dollars, but since "I beg your pardon! Did you say anythen there had been many expenses. They thing about understanding football?". had each had to purchase playing togs and “Well, I understand a lot more about it stationery, and, finally, had donated two than you do," replied the other, warmly. dollars apiece to the football fund at the “I've been playing it a week, have n't I?” mass-meeting Friday night of the week before. “Sure, but I 'll bet you don't know how Viewed from a financial standpoint, that much a safety counts!" meeting had n't been a great success, and it "I don't need to. That's up to the referee. was no secret that, unless more money was But I know some football, just the same. forthcoming, the team would be obliged to And I punted forty-seven yards yesterday, cancel at least one of its away-from-home too!” games. But it had resulted in bringing out "In how many punts?" inquired Laurie, a big field of candidates, and there had been innocently. a lot of enthusiasm. The next day, viewing Ned threw a book at him and the subject his reduced exchequer, Laurie had ruefully
was closed. observed that he guessed a dollar would have In his own line, baseball, Laurie was not been enough to give, but Ned had called setting the world on fire. He was gaining a him a "piker” and a "tight-wad” and other familiarity with the position of center fielder scornful things. Yesterday Ned had bor- on the scrub nine, and batting practice was rowed half a dollar, which was more than a at least not doing him any harm. But he fourth of Laurie's remaining cash; and the certainly had displayed no remarkable first of October was still a week distant. ability; and if Ned had gained a notion to Realizing the latter fact, Laurie changed his the contrary, it was merely because it pleased mind about settling his account at the Widow Laurie to fool him with accounts of imagiDeane's. But, he reflected, with another nary incidents in which he, Laurie, had shone friendly glance in Polly's direction, it would most brilliantly. As Ned knew even less n't be right to withhold his trade from the about baseball than he had known of footstore. And he was n't anywhere near the ball, almost any fairy-tale "went” with him, limit of indebtedness yet!
and Laurie derived much amusement thereTwo listless periods followed the intermis- by; decidedly more, in fact, than he derived sion, the only inspiring incident coming from playing!
, when, near the end of the third quarter, On Monday morning Laurie dragged Ned Pope, Hillman's full-back, foiled in his at- over to the Widow Deane's for ginger-ale, tempt to get a forward-pass away, smashed professing a painful thirst. The Widow past the enemy and around his left end for greeted them pleasantly, recalling their a run that placed the pigskin six yards short names, and provided them with the requested of the last white line. From there, the home beverage. Laurie's thirst seemed to have team managed to push its way to a touch- passed, for he had difficulty in consuming his down, the third and last score of the day. portion. When, presently, he asked politely The final figures were 10 to 7, in Hillman's about Polly, it developed that that young favor, and neither side was very proud of the lady was quite well enough to attend high outcome.
school as usual. Laurie said, “Oh!" and Ned returned to Number 16 half an hour silently promised himself that the next time later in a most critical frame of mind and he got thirsty it would be in the afternoon. spent ten minutes explaining to Laurie just Ned ate two doughnuts and was hesitating when and how the school team had failed. over raspberry tarts when Laurie dragged At last, Laurie interrupted him to ask, "Have him away. “Can't you think of anything you told this to Mr. Mulford, Ned?”
but eating?" demanded the latter, dis"Mr. Mulford? Why-oh, go to the
Why-oh, go to the gustedly. Ned only blinked. dickens!"
“Ginger-ale always makes me hungry," he “Seems to me he ought to know," said explained calmly. Laurie, gravely.
Two days later, the twins awoke to cloudy “That 's all right. You can be sarcastic skies, and by mid-forenoon a lazy drizzle was if you like, but I 'm talking horse-sense. falling, which later turned to a downright gray welter.
tempest of wind and rain. At four, the base- fumbling into the moist bag when the clouds ball candidates scooted to the field-house for opened suddenly and such a deluge fell as cover, although, peering forth through a made them gasp. In distance they were but drenched window, Laurie discerned the a long block from school; but with the rain football players still at work. Lee Murdock descending on them as though poured from said he guessed the equinoctial storm had a million buckets, their thought was of come, and that if it had, there 'd be no prac- immediate shelter. tice for a couple of days. Laurie tried to "Wow! yelped Lee. "Let 's get out of
" look broken-hearted and failed dismally. this! Here's a house. Come on!” Taking advantage of a lull in the downpour, There was an opening in a high hedge, and he and Lee, with many of the others, set a short brick walk from which the drops were forth for school. They were still far short rebounding knee-high,
rebounding knee-high, and, seen dimly of the gymnasium, however, when the torrent through the deluge, a porch at the end of it. began again, and it was a wet, bedraggled, They reached it in what Laurie called three and breathless crowd that presently pushed leaps and a jump, and, under shelter of the through the door. George Watson, who had roof, drew breath and looked back into the been playing tennis before the rain started,
The park was invisible, and was philosophically regarding a pair of even the high lilac hedge was only a blurred “unshrinkable” flannel trousers which, so he shape. Lee had to shout to make himself declared, had already receded an inch at the heard above the rain. bottoms. It was George who suggested "Wonder who lives here," he said. "I that, after changing to dry clothing, they go don't remember this house.' over to the Widow's and have ice-cream at "Sure you do!" said George. “This is the
“ his expense. Not possessing a rain-coat of Coventry house. We're on the side porch." his own, Laurie invaded Number 15 and “Oh!" Lee gazed doubtfully into the borrowed Kewpie's. It was many sizes too rain. “Well, anyway, it ’ll do. Gee, my large, but it answered. The Widow's was trousers are soaked to the knees! How long full when he and George and Lee got there, do you suppose this will keep up?": and the pastry counter looked as though it “You said for two days,” answered Laurie, had been visited by an invading army. cheerfully, trying to dry his neck with a There was still ice-cream, though, and the moist handkerchief. three squeezed into a corner and became "I mean this shower, you chump!" absorbedly silent for a space. Polly was help- “Call this a shower? What 's a clouding her mother, and Laurie exchanged greet- burst like in this part of the country then?” ings with her, but she was far too busy for "We don't have such things," answered conversation. Lee treated to a second round George, who was peering through a sideof ice-cream, and afterward Laurie bought a light into the dim interior. “Say, I thought bag of old-fashioned chocolates. He hoped this place was empty,” he continued. "I Polly would wait on him, but it was Polly's can see chairs and a table in there." mother who did so and asked after his brother "No, some one rented it this fall,” said as she filled the paper sack.
Lee. “I noticed the other day that the "I do hope you 're looking after him and front door was open and the grass had been that he has n't eaten those raspberry tarts cut. I would n't want to live in the place, yet," she said pleasantly.
though." “Yes 'm,” said Laurie. “I mean, he has “Why?” inquired Laurie. n't.” He thought it surprising that the But before any answer came, the door was Widow Deane was able to tell them apart. suddenly opened within a few inches of Even Kewpie and George frequently made George's nose and a voice said: mistakes.
“You fellows had better come inside until It was still pouring when they went out it's over." again, and they hurried up the street and around the corner into School Park, their
CHAPTER VIII progress somewhat delayed by the fact that
IN THE MISER'S HOUSE Laurie had placed the bag of candy in an outside pocket of Kewpie's capacious rain- The invitation came from a boy of about coat and that all three had difficulty in sixteen, a slim, eminently attractive chap, finding it. Lee had just popped a big who smiled persuasively through the aperchocolate into his mouth and George was ture. Laurie knew that he had seen him somewhere, but it was not until they had "Might as well get dry a bit first. followed, somewhat protestingly, into a fire 's all laid.” The boy held a match at hallway and from there into a large and the grate and in a moment the wood was shadowy drawing-room that he recognized snapping merrily. “Pull up some chairs,
fellows. Here, try this. Some rain, is n't it?”
“Rather,” agreed Lee.'“By the way, do you know
Turner? And Watson?” The three boys shook hands. “I did n't know you lived here," Lee continued. “Saw the house had been taken, but did n't know who had it. Corking big place, is n't it?"
Starling laughed. "It 's big all right, but it's not so corking. Let me have that raincoat, Turner. The rooms are so frightfully huge that you get lost in them! I have the bedroom above this, and the first morning I woke up in it I thought I was in the Sahara Desert! This was the only place we could find, though, that was for rent, and we had to take it. Dad came here on short notice and we did n't have much time to look around. Pull up closer to the fire, Watson, and get your feet dry. I 've got some slippers upstairs if you want to take your shoes off.”
“No, thanks. I guess the wet did n't get
through. I've seen “'YOU FELLOWS HAD BETTER COME INSIDE UNTIL IT 'S OVER'"
you over at school,
have n't I?" him as one of the day pupils. Lee, it seemed, "Yes, I 'm a day boy; one of the 'Hep, knew him slightly and called him by name. heps!”
"We ought n’t to come in here,” Lee Lee grinned. "Sort of a mean trick, that, apologized. “We're soaking wet, Starling.” Starling, but they always do it every year.'
"It does n't matter,” answered their host. “Wish I 'd known about it beforehand. “Wait till I find a match and we 'll have a I'd have sneaked over a fence and through a fire here."
window. It was fierce! I was the last fel"Don't bother, please,” George protested. low to get in this fall.
low to get in this fall. Dad made applica "We're going right on in a minute."
tion in August, and some fellow who had
entered in the spring changed his mind; down to the boat. He did n't use the train otherwise, I'd have had to go to the high because it cost too much. Of course, when school."
he died, folks expected to find that he had “That would have been an awful fate,” left a mint of money; but all any one could said George, gravely.
discover was about two thousand dollars in “Oh, I would n't have minded. I like one of the banks here—that, and this propHillman's, though. Do any of you chaps
. Do any of you chaps erty. The heirs, whoever they were, pretty play tennis?”
near tore the insides out of the house, they "I try to," answered George.
say, looking for coin, but they did n't get “Wish you 'd give me a game some day. anything." Tennis is about the only thing I know much "And at night the old codger's ghost walks about, and I saw some dandy courts over at around," added Lee; "and if you follow him, the field.”
he 'll take you to the place the money 's “Glad to," George assured him. “Any hidden." day you like, Starling. I'm not much of a "Honest?" exclaimed Starling, joyfully. player, though, so don't expect a lot."
“Gosh, that 's great! I always wanted to “Guess you 're good enough to handle me," live in a house with a ghost." laughed the other. “I like it better than I “I'm sorry then,” said George, “for I just can play it. How about to-morrow after- made that part up.” noon?"
“You did ?” Lee looked incredulous. "Suits me,” answered George. “Three- “Where do you come in? I 've heard that thirty?”
ever since I came here." “Fine! I 'm going to get Dad to build a “No, sir, you may have heard the rest of court in the yard here if I can. There's the story, but not the part about the ghost. lots of room, but there 's a tumble-down old I wrote the yarn up in my junior year for an grape-arbor right in the middle."
English comp., and tucked on the ghost “Yes, there's surely room enough,” feature as a sort of added climax. Got good agreed Lee. “We used to come over here marks, too, and the Orstead paper published last fall and get pears.
There 's a dandy the thing. I 'll show it to you, if you like." seckel tree back there. I'd say there was Lee looked unconvinced still, and Starling room for two or three courts if some of the disappointed. “Well, it 's a good story, trees were cut down."
anyway, and makes the place more interest“What could he do with three of them?” ing. Some day I 'll have a look myself for asked Laurie.
the hidden millions." “I suppose we 'd have to get the owner's “Guess the old chap never had that much," permission to even take that rickety old said George. "Thirty or forty thousand is arbor down,” Starling said.
about what he was supposed to have salted “I thought the owner was dead," Lee
"Scarcely worth bothering about," observed George chuckled. “If he was dead, he Laurie, with a yawn. would n't be the owner, you simple! Old “But look here, what became of the serCoventry died three or four years ago, but
vant?" asked Starling. "Maybe he got the somebody owns the place, of course. If dough and made off with it." what they tell of the old chap is true, it must "Lots of folks thought that,” replied have broken his heart to know he could n't George; "but the theory did n't pan out for a take the place with him! Maybe he took cent. The negro stuck around here for his money with him, though. Anyway, the quite awhile and then ambled off somewhere. story goes that he had slathers of it, and they He claimed that old Coventry died owing could only find a couple of thousands when him a month's wages, and tried to get some he died.”
one to pay him, but I guess he never got any “What was he, a miser?” asked Starling. of it, if it was really owing.”
“Yes, one of the sort you read about in the “Where did he go to?" asked Starling. stories. Lived here all alone for years and “I don't know. New York City, I think.” years with only a negro servant. They say "I'll bet he either had the money or knew you could never see a light in the place at where it was," declared Starling, with night, and he never went off the front porch conviction. “Don't you see, fellows, he did more than a couple of times a year. Then a just what any one would do in his case? carriage came for him and he got in and went He stuck around so he would n't be suspected.
If he 'd gone right off, folks would have said “Look here," said Lee, “do you mean that he was trying to avoid being asked about the the Widow Deane was one of old Coventry's money.
And then he faked up the yarn heirs?" about the old gentleman owing him wages.
“Of course! Did n't you know it? She A first-class detective would have got trace was a half-sister. She lived over in New of the coin, I 'll wager!”
Jersey, she told me, until her husband died. "You've been reading Sherlock Holmes," Then she wrote to old Coventry, asking him laughed Lee. "Why don't you follow up to help her because she did n't have much your clue, find the negro, and restore the lost money, and he invited her to come here. wealth to the starving heirs?"
She thought he meant to give her a home "Huh! If he did get the money, he 's with him; but when she got here, the best where even Sherlock Holmes would n't find he would do was rent her that little house him by this time. Some one should have around on Pine Street and stock it up for her followed the fellow and kept watch on him as a store. Then he built a fence between right then. How old was he, Watson?" the two places. It used to be open right
“About fifty, I guess. They say he had through.” white whiskers, anyway. Oh, he did n't “Gee, you certainly know a lot of ancient know any more than he said he did. He was history!” marveled Lee. all right. He had been with old Coventry “I believe in being thorough,” laughed for years and years, one of those old-time George. “When I tackle a subject I get a family servants, you know, honest and faith- fall out of it." ful. Why, he went on something fierce when “So when I trail the murderer-I mean the the old chap died!"
thief," reflected Starling, "I'll be doing the “Say, how much of this guff is real and old lady back there a good turn, won't I?” how much of it is English composition?" “Surest thing you know!" agreed George. asked Lee, suspiciously. “How do you know "And she needs the money,
I don't the negro took on when the old codger died? believe she makes a fortune out of that emYou were n't here."
porium. And that daughter of hers is a nice “Maybe I heard it,” replied George, kid, too." grinning.
“How many other heirs are there to share "Yes, and maybe you just made it up, like in the money when Starling finds it?" asked the stuff about the ghost," Lee retorted Laurie. sarcastically. “I've heard the yarn two or "I don't know. Quite a bunch, I believe. three times, but I never heard that the negro The old chap was n't married, and the heirs had white whiskers or that he went into are nephews and nieces and things like that. mourning!"
The Widow 's the only one living around "It 's a fact, though," declared the other, here, though." warmly. “I prepared mighty well on that “Well, when I do find it," laughed Starcomp.; talked with half a dozen persons who ling, “I 'll keep it quiet and hand it all over knew the story. Got most of the stuff from to the Widow." the Widow Deane, though. Old Coventry "He wants to make a hit with Polly," said had been dead only about two years then Lee. “He's a fox." and folks were still talking about him. The “I 've never seen her,” Starling denied. Widow does n't think the old chap had nearly "Well, she's a mighty pretty girl,” George as much money as he was supposed to have.” avowed. “If you don't believe me, ask Nod.”
“She has the little store around on the Laurie looked intensely innocent and very back street?'' asked Starling.
surprised. “Why me?" he asked blandly. “Yes. She took that as her share."
George shook his head, grinning. "You “Her share of what?" demanded Lee. can't get away with it, son! Think I did n't
"Why, of the estate. Old Coventry owned see you making love to the old lady this the whole half block right through from afternoon?" Walnut Street to Pine. She rented that “Well,”' Laurie laughed, “I thought it was house from him until he died; paid a good Polly you spoke of." stiff price, too; and then, when the estate "Sure, but she was busy waiting on a was finally settled, she took it as her share, bunch of juniors and so you made up to the although she had to pay the other heirs Widow. We saw you smirking and talking something because they claimed that it was sweet to her, did n't we, Lee? Butter would worth more than she had a right to.”
n't have melted in the dear lamb's mouth.