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   Chapter 10 THE GAME IN THE NEXT ROOM.

Frank Merriwell's Nobility; Or, The Tragedy of the Ocean Tramp By Burt L. Standish Characters: 7443

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


When Merry appeared in his stateroom he was greeted with a storm of questions.

"Well, what does this mean?"

"Trying to dodge us?"

"Running away?"

"Muts the whatter with you-I mean what's the matter?"

"Where have you been?"

"Stand and give an account of yourself!"

Then he told them a little story that astounded them beyond measure. He explained how he had taken a fancy to look the steamer over and had fallen in with the engineer. Then he related how he had visited the engine room and been thrown into the stoke-hole.

But when he told the name of his assailant the climax was capped.

"Harris?" gasped Rattleton, incredulously.

"Harris?" palpitated Diamond, astounded.

"Harris?" roared Browning, aroused from his lazy languidness.

"On this steamer?" they shouted in unison.

"On this steamer," nodded Frank, really enjoying the sensation he had created.

"He-he attacked you?" gurgled Rattleton, seeming to forget his recent sickness.

"He did."

"And you escaped after being thrown into the stoke-hole?" fluttered Diamond.

"I am here."

"And you didn't kill the cur on sight?" roared Browning.

"He is in the hold in irons."

"Serves him right!" was the verdict of Frank's three friends.

"Well, this is what I call a real sensation!" said the Virginian. "You certainly found something, Frank!"

"Well, that fellow has reached the end of his rope at last," said Harry, with intense satisfaction, once more stretching himself in his bunk.

"That's pretty sure," nodded Jack. "Attempted murder on the high seas is a pretty serious thing."

"He'll get pushed for it all right this time," grunted Browning, beginning to recover from his astonishment.

Then they talked the affair over, and Frank gave them his theory of Sport's presence on the steamer, which seemed plausible.

"This is something rather more interesting than the superstitious man or the Frenchman," said Diamond.

"The superstitious man was interesting at first," observed Merry; "but I've a fancy that he might prove a bore."

Then Bruce grunted:

"Say, does Fact and Reason err,

And, if they both err, which the more?

The man of the smallest calibre

Is sure to be the greatest bore."

While they were talking, the sound of voices came from the stateroom occupied by the Frenchman. Soon it became evident that quite a little party had gathered in that room.

The boys paid no attention to the party till it came time to turn in for the night. Then they became aware that something was taking place in the adjoining room, and it was not long before they made out that it was a game of poker.

As they became quiet, they could hear the murmur of voices, and, occasionally, some person would speak distinctly, "seeing," "raising" or "calling."

Diamond began to get nervous.

"Say," he observed, "that makes me think of old times. Many a night I've spent at that."

"What's the matter with you?" said Frank. "Do you want to go in there and take a hand?"

"Well," Jack confessed, "I do feel an itching."

"I feel like getting some sleep," grunted Bruce, "and they are keeping me awake."

"Why are they playing in a stateroom, anyhow?" exclaimed Frank. "It's no place for a game of cards at night."

"That's so," agreed Rattleton, dreamily. "But you are keeping me awake by your chatter a good deal more than they are. Shut up, the whole lot of you!"

There was silence for a time, and then, with a savage exclamation, Diamond sprang out of his berth and thumped on the partition, crying:

"Come, gentlemen, it's time to go to bed! You are keeping us awake."

There was no response.

Jack went back to bed, but the murmuring continued in the next stat

eroom, and the rattle of chips could be heard occasionally.

"What are we going to do about it, Merriwell?" asked Jack, savagely.

"We can complain."

But making a complaint was repellent to a college youth, who was inclined to regard as a cheap fellow anybody who would do such a thing, and Diamond did not agree to that.

"Well," said Frank, "I suppose I can go in there and clean them all out."

"How?"

"At their own game," laughed Merry, muffledly.

"If anybody in this crowd tackles them that way I'll be the one," asserted the Virginian.

"Then nobody here will tackle them that way," said Frank, remembering how he had once saved Diamond from sharpers in New Haven.

Frank was a person who believed that knowledge of almost any sort was likely to prove of value to a man at some stage of his career, and he had made a practice of learning everything possible. He had studied up on the tricks of gamblers, so that he knew all about their methods of robbing their victims. Being a first-class amateur magician, his knowledge of card tricks had become of value to him in more than one instance. He felt that he would be able to hold his own against pretty clever card-sharps, but he did not care or propose to have any dealings with such men, unless forced to do so.

The boys kept still for a while. Their light was extinguished, but, up near the ceiling, a shaft of light came through the partition from the other room.

Diamond saw it. He jumped up and dragged a trunk into position by that partition. Mounted on the trunk, he applied his eye to the orifice and discovered that he could see into the Frenchman's room very nicely.

"What can you see?" grunted Browning.

"I can see everyone in there," answered Jack.

"Name them."

"The Frenchman, the Englishman, the superstitious man, and our fresh friend, Bloodgood."

"Same old crowd," murmured Frank.

"Yes, and a hot old game!" came from the youth on the trunk. "My! my! but they are whooping her up! They've got plenty to drink, and they are playing for big dust."

"Tell them to saw up till to-morrow," mumbled Bruce.

Jack did not do so, however. He remained on the trunk, watching the game, seeming greatly interested.

A big game of poker interested him any time. It was through the influence of Frank that he had been led to renounce the game, but the thirst for its excitements and delights remained with him, for he had come from a family of card-players and sportsmen.

"Come, come!" laughed Frank, after a while; "I can hear your teeth chattering, old man. Get off that trunk and turn in."

"Wait!" fluttered Jack-"wait till I see this hand played out."

In less than half a minute he cried:

"It's a skin game! I knew it was!"

"What's the lay?" asked Merry.

"That infernal Frenchman is a card-sharp!"

"I suspected as much."

"His pal is the Englishman. They are standing in together."

"Yes?"

"Sure thing. They are bleeding Bloodgood and Slush. Bloodgood thinks he's pretty sharp, and I have not much sympathy for him; but I am sorry for poor little Slush. He should have paid attention to some of his signs and omens. He knew something disastrous would happen during this voyage, and I rather think it will happen to him."

Then Diamond thumped the wall again, crying:

"Stop that business in there! Mr. Slush, you are playing cards with crooks-you are being robbed! Get out of that game as soon as you can!"

There was a sudden silence in the adjoining room, and then M. Rouen Montfort was heard to utter an exclamation in French, following which he cried:

"I see you to-morrow, saire! I make you swallow ze lie!"

"You may see me any time you like!" Diamond flung back.

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