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- The Rover Boys in Business - 9/39 -

ground was as dry as any one could wish. The day was a Saturday, and, of course, a holiday both at Brill and Roxley. By eleven o'clock, a carryall had taken a large number of the students to Ashton, where they were to take a special train for Roxley. All of the automobiles at Brill were in use, and with them all of the turnouts that could be hired in the vicinity.

"No time to spare!" sang out Tom, as he ran the automobile up to the college steps.

"I am ready," said Sam, who had a dresssuit case with Tom's uniform and his own in it.

"Where is Songbird?"

"I don't know, I thought he was with you."

"Here I am!" came the cry, and the would-be poet of the college came rushing across the campus. He was dressed in his very best suit, and wore a rose in his buttonhole.

"Wait! I almost forgot the horns!" cried Sam, and he darted back into the building, to reappear a few seconds later with several long tin horns. Into the automobile piled the boys, and then, with a loud sounding of the horn, Tom turned on the power, and the machine started off in the direction of Hope, soon reaching the spot where the automobile had gone into the river.

"That poor chap didn't hurt his machine much. so I have heard," remarked Sam, as they bowled along over the bridge. "But, I think it might have been better if he had come out of it scott free, and the auto had gone to pieces."

"We ought to call on him, Sam," returned Tom. "I would like to find out whether or not he is related to Jesse Pelter."

"Oh, don't bother about that to-day. Let your, mind rest on the game-- and the girls," and Sam grinned faintly.

The run to the seminary did not take long. The Laning girls stood waiting on the porch, and once they were in the car, the machine was headed in the direction of the Sanderson cottage.

Nellie occupied the front seat with Tom, while Sam was in the tonneau with Grace and Songbird. The younger girl was in her usual happy mood, but Nellie's face showed worriment.

"Have you heard anything more about the missing ring?" questioned Tom, while on the way to the Sanderson farmhouse.

"Not a thing, Tom," answered Nellie, soberly.

"Of course they have questioned the hired help?"

"Yes. And they have also questioned a number of the teachers and the students."

"Has Miss Harrow said anything more about it to you?"

"No, but every time we meet, she gives me such a cold look that it fairly makes me shiver. Oh, Tom, sometimes I don't know how I am going to stand it!" And now the girl showed signs of breaking down.

"There, there! Don't think about it any more, Nellie-- at least, for to-day. Think of the jolly good time we are going to have and how we are going to defeat Roxley."

"Do you think Brill will win, Tom? I heard some of the girls at Hope say that they were sure Roxley would come out ahead. They said they have an unusually strong nine this year, and that they have already won some games from the strongest nines around here."

"Well, that is true. Nevertheless, we hope to come out ahead."

"Sure we'll come out ahead!" cried Songbird. "With Tom in the box it's a cinch."

"Just what I say," broke in Sam. "Tom has got some curves that are bound to fool them."

In order to make time, Tom had put on nearly all the speed of which the car was capable, and in a short while they came in sight of the Sanderson farm. Mr. Sanderson was at work in an apple orchard near by, and waved his hand to them as the machine drew up to the horse-block.

"Better come along," sang out Sam, gaily.

"I wouldn't mind a-seein' the game," returned the old farmer. "But I've promised to pick these early apples and ship 'em. I wish you boys luck." And then he brought over a pail full of apples, and dumped them in the tonneau of the car. Minnie, looking as fresh and sweet as ever, was on the piazza, and when the car stopped she hurried down the garden walk. Songbird leaped out and helped her in beside Grace, shaking hands at the same time.

"Good gracious, Pa! how could you do so?" said Minnie, reproachfully, as she stepped between the apples.

"Oh, I thought as how ye might git hungry on th' way," returned Mr. Sanderson, with a broad grin. "If ye don't want to eat them, you feed your hosses on 'em." And he laughed at his little' joke.

"We'll eat them fast enough don't worry," cried Sam, and then, with a toot of the horn, the automobile proceeded on its way to Roxley.



"Some crowd, this!"

"Well, I should say so! Say, this is the biggest crowd we ever had at any game."

"And look at the new grandstand, all decked out in flags and banners!"

"And look at the automobiles! We'll have to hurry up, or all the parking space will be gone."

"Hurrah, Brill! Come down here to see us defeat you, eh?" And a merry looking student, wearing the colors of Roxley on his cap, and waving a Roxley banner in his hand, grinned broadly at Tom and the others.

"No, we came to bury you," retorted Sam. "It's all over but the shouting." And then he took up one of the horns he had brought, and sounded it loudly.

"Better let me take the car to the other end of the grounds," suggested Songbird. "You fellows will want to get into your uniforms and into practice."

"Oh, we want to get good seats for the girls first," broke in Tom. "It won't take long to park the machine."

In a moment more, they found themselves in a perfect jam of touring cars, motor cycles, and carriages. Finding a suitable spot, Tom brought the touring car to a standstill, turned off the power, and placed the starting plug in his pocket. Then the entire party made its way as rapidly as possible to the grandstand, one-half of which had been reserved for the students of Brill and their friends. Here Songbird took charge of matters.

"Just leave it all to me," he said. "You fellows go in and win."

"Yes, you must win, by all means, Tom!" cried Nellie. "Just remember that I've got my eye on you."

"Yes, we all want you to win," came from Minnie Sanderson. "I am going to root-- isn't that the right word?-- for all I know how."

"That's the word!" cried Sam. "I declare, before you get through, you'll be a regular baseball fan!" And at this sally there was a general laugh.

Tom and Sam would have liked it had they been able to stay with the girls longer, but the other members of the team were already in the dressing room, donning their uniforms, and thither the Rovers made their way. A short while later, the word was passed around, and the Brill team marched out on the grounds for practice; even Sam, as a substitute, taking part. Evidently, the outsiders living in that vicinity were of the opinion that the game would be well worth seeing, for long after the grandstand and the bleachers were filled, the crowd kept coming in the several gates.

"My, but this is going to be the banner game so far as attendance goes," remarked Sam to Bob.

"Yes, and it will bring us in a neat bit of money," returned the Brill captain.

"How are they going to divide this year?"

"One-third and two-thirds," returned Bob; meaning thereby that the winning team would take two-thirds of the receipts, and the losing team the remaining third. This money, of course, did not go to the individual players, but was put into the general athletic fund of each college.

Roxley won the toss, and as a consequence, Brill went to bat first. As the first man took his position, there were cries of all sorts, mingled with the tooting of many horns and the sounds of numerous rattles.

"Now then, Brill, show 'em what you can do!"

"Knock a home run first thing!"

"Don't let 'em see first, Roxley! Kill 'em at the plate!"

The Roxley pitcher took his position, wound up; and the ball came in quickly.

"Ball one."

"That's right! Make him give you a good one."

Again the ball came in, and this time, as it was a fairly good one, the batter swung for it, and missed.

"Strike one."

The Rover Boys in Business - 9/39

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