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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10778

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The "King Deed" of Daring

"Yes; that performance helped a lot."

Herr Schimmelpodt was prevailed upon, by Mr. Morton, to come around on another evening to show some further feats with his great strength.

Around the waist-line the German was flabby; the fat rolled in heavy ridges. Feeling aware of this defect in personal appearance Herr Schimmelpodt determined to devote some of his abundant leisure to getting his belt line into smaller compass. But the German would not do this before all eyes in the public, gym. So he and some other well-to-do business men who were conscious that the years had dealt too generously by them in the matter of flesh, hired a small hall and converted it into a private gym.

It was all the doings of Dick & Co., just the same.

The town was ripe, now, for performances in extraordinary athletics.

Fate willed it that there should be a chance.

Once a year an opera company of considerable prominence appeared at Gridley for one evening.

Whenever this evening came around, it was made the occasion for a big time in local society. The women of the well-to-do families turned out in their most dazzling finery.

This year "Lohengrin" was to be sung at the local opera house. Dick could have obtained, at "The Blade" office, free seats for Dave and himself for this Friday night. But they were still in close training, and there was a game on for the afternoon of the day following. For that reason nine o'clock found both of the young men in bed and asleep.

Near the opera house the street was thronged with carriages.

Carriage after carriage drove up and discharged its load of handsomely

dressed women and their more severely attired escorts. All of

Gridley that could attend the opera were in evening dress.

During the evening a half gale of wind sprang up. While all was light and warmth inside, outside the wind howled harder and harder. By the time that the music lovers began to pour out, the blast was furious.

Leaning on the arm of her escort, as her carriage drove up to the door, one beautifully gowned woman stepped out. Over her hair was thrown a black, filmy scarf in which nestled a number of handsome diamonds.

Just as she reached the curb, but before she could step into the waiting carriage, this woman gave a shriek of dismay.

The gale had caught at her diamond-strewn head-covering. Like a flash that costly creation was caught up from her hair and borne on the wind.

Others standing by saw the costly thing whisked obliquely up into the air. It was still ascending on the blast when it passed out of the range of vision.

"O-o-o-oh! My beautiful jeweled scarf!" sobbed the woman hysterically.

The crowd quickly formed about her. She was recognized as Mrs.

Macey, the wife of a wealthy real estate operator.

"It was careless not to have it fastened more securely, but it's no use to cry over what can't be helped now, my dear," replied her husband. "Get into the carriage and I'll see if any trace can be found of the scarf."

Still sobbing, Mrs. Macey was helped into the carriage. Then

Mr. Macey enlisted the help of the bystanders.

In every direction the street was searched. The fronts of the buildings opposite were examined; the gratings in the sidewalk were peered through. But there was no trace, anywhere, of the jeweled scarf.

"It will be worth two hundred and fifty dollars for anyone to find it and return it to me," shouted Mr. Macey. That scattered the searchers more widely still. Presently a woman friend drove home with Mrs. Macey, while her husband remained to push the search. He kept at it until two o'clock in the morning, half a hundred men and boys remaining in the search.

Then Mr. Macey gave it up. The gaudy, foolish trifle was worth about five thousand dollars. As the night wore on Mr. Macey began to have a pessimistic notion that perhaps some one had found the scarf but had been too "thrifty" to turn in such a precious article for so small a reward.

"I guess it may as well be given up," sighed Mr. Macey, after two in the morning. "I'm going home, anyway."

The readers of "The Blade" that crisp October morning knew of

Mrs. Macey's loss.

There was much talk about the matter around the town. People who walked downtown early that morning peered into gutters and down through sidewalk gratings. Then, at about seven o'clock a sensation started, and swiftly grew.

One man, glancing skyward, had his attention attracted to something fluttering at the top of the spire of the Methodist church, more than half a block away from the opera house. It was fabric of some sort, and one end fluttered in the breeze, though most of the black material appeared to be wrapped around the tip of the weather vane in which the spire staff terminated.

"That's the jeweled scarf, I'll bet a month's pay!" gasped the discoverer. Then, mindful of the reward, he dashed to the nearest telephone office, asking "central" to ring insistently until an answer came over the Macey wire.

"Hullo, is that you, Mr. Macey?" called the discoverer, a teamster.

"Then come straight up to the Methodist church. I'll be there.

I've discovered the jeweled scarf."

"How--how many jewels are left on it?" demanded Mr. Macey.

"Come right up! I'll tell you all about it when you get here."

Then the teamster rang off, after giving his

name. The real estate man came in a hurry, in a runabout. His wife, pallid and hollow-cheeked, rode in the car with him. To Mr. Macey the teamster pointed out the barely visible bit of black fluttering a hundred and sixty feet above the pavement.

"Now how about the reward, Mr. Macey?" demanded the teamster.

"That will be paid you, if you return the scarf to Mrs. Macey," replied the real estate man dryly.

The teamster's jaw dropped. For the uppermost eighteen feet of the spire consisted of a stout flagpole. Below this was the sloping slate roof of the top of the steeple proper. Only a monkey or a "steeplejack" could get up there, and on a day like this, with a half gale still blowing, a steeplejack might be pardoned for declining the task.

Swiftly the news spread, and a great crowd collected. Dave Darrin heard of it right after breakfast, and hurried to get Dick Prescott. Together the chums joined the crowd.

"You'll have to get a steeplejack for the job, Mr. Macey," the chums heard one man advise the real estate operator.

Only one was known. His home was some forty miles away. Mr. Macey tried patiently to get the man over the long distance telephone. Some member of the man's family answered for him. The expert was away, and would not be home, or available, for three days to come at least.

"Never mind, Macey," laughed the friend, consolingly. "It'll wait. No one in Gridley will take the scarf. It's safe up there."

"Huh! Is it, though?" snorted the real estate man. "At any minute the strong wind may unwind it and send it whirling off over the town. Or the gale may tear it to pieces, scattering the diamonds over a whole block, and not one in ten of the stones would ever be found."

Mrs. Macey sat in the runabout, a picture of mute misery.

Herr Schimmelpodt elbowed his way through the outskirts of the crowd and stood absorbing his share in the local excitement.

"Ach! I am afraid dere is von thing dot you gan't do, Bresgott," smiled the German. "Ach! By chimminy, though, I don't know yet."

"I was wondering myself whether I could make a good try at steeple climbing," laughed Dick eagerly. "The money sounds good to me anyway."

"No; I don't know. I think it would be foolish," replied Herr

Schimmelpodt.

"I believe you could get up there, Dick," muttered Darrin, in a low voice.

"Then you could, Dave."

"I think I could," nodded Darrin. "And, by crickets, if you were here, Dick, I'd certainly try it."

"Try it anyway, then," urged Prescott.

"Not unless you balk at it," returned Darrin.

"I'm not going to balk at it," retorted Dick, flushing just a bit. "But you spoke of it first, Dave, and I think you ought to have first chance at the reward."

"Tell you what I'll do," proposed Darrin, seriously. "We'll toss for it, and the winner has the try."

"I'll go you," nodded Prescott.

Herr Schimmelpodt, regarding them both seriously, saw that they meant it.

"Boys, boys!" he remonstrated. "Don't think of it yet!"

"Why not?" asked Dick.

"You would be killed," remonstrated the big German.

"Is that the best opinion you have of us, after the way you've been praising us athletes for two years?" laughed Prescott.

"I'll toss you for it, Dick," nudged Dave.

"What's this?" demanded Mr. Macey.

"Prescott and I are going to toss for it, to see who shall have the first chance to climb the spire and flagstaff," replied Dave.

"Nonsense! Out of the question," almost exploded Mr. Macey. "It would be like murder to allow either of you to try. That's work for a regular steeplejack."

"Well, what is a steeplejack?" demanded Dick. "He's a fellow of good muscle and nerve, who can stand being in high places. Either of us could climb a flagpole from down here in the street. Why can't either of us go up there, just as well, and climb from the steeple roof?"

"Prescott, have you any idea of the strength of the wind up there?" demanded the real estate man. "It's blowing great guns up there!"

"Get some one to toss the coin, and either you or I call," insisted

Darrin.

Some one told Mrs. Macey what was being proposed.

"Oh, stop them!" she cried, leaning forward from the runabout. "Boys, boys! Don't do anything wildly rash like that! I'd sooner lose the scarf than have lives risked."

"She needn't worry," sneered some one in the crowd. "The High School dudes are only bluffing. They haven't either o' them the sand to do a thing like that."

Both Prescott and Darrin heard. Both flushed, though that was all the sign they gave.

"Herr Schimmelpodt, you must have a cent," suggested Dick. "Toss it, will you, and let Darrin call the turn."

Grumbling a good deal the German produced the required coin. He fingered it nervously, for a moment, then flipped it high in the air.

"Tails!" called Dave.

It came down heads.

"Oh, well, the best two out of three," insisted Dick.

"That fellow's nerve is going already," laughed some one. "He's anxious for the other fellow to get the honor."

There was a grim twitching at the corners of prescott's mouth, but he said nothing.

Again the coin was tossed. This time Dick called:

"Heads!"

He won.

"I'm ready," announced Dick quietly.

"I congratulate you, old fellow," murmured Dave eagerly. "And I'm going with you to the base of the flagpole! The last climb is yours you've won it!"

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