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   Chapter 10 TIP SCAMMON TALKS—-BUT NOT ENOUGH

The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10324

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


If that ugly blow hadn't proved a glancing one, Dick Prescott might have been for a long siege of brain fever.

As it was, he was slightly stunned for the moment.

By the time he could leap up and look about him, rather dizzily, his late assailant had made a clean escape.

"No time to waste on a fellow who's got away," quoth Dick.

He staggered slightly, at first, as he hurried from the yard back into the alleyway.

"Now, you quiet down!" commanded Dave Darrin hoarsely. "No more from you, Mr. Thug!"

"Lemme go, or it'll be worse for ye!" threatened a harsh voice that, nevertheless, had a whine in it.

"What use to let you go, Tip Scammon?" demanded Darrin. "We know you, and the police would pick you up again in an hour."

"Lemme go, and keep yer mouth shut," whined the fellow. "If ye don't, ye'll be sorry. If ye do lemme go, I'll pay ye for the accommodation."

"Yes," retorted Dave, scornfully. "You'd pay us, I suppose, with money you picked up in some way resembling the trick you played on Dick Prescott."

"Well, money's money, ain't it?" demanded Tip, skeptically.

"Some kinds of money are worse that dirt," growled Greg Holmes.

This was the conversation, swiftly carried on, that Dick heard as he stepped back to his friends.

Scammon was lying on his back on the ground, with Dave seated across his chest. Greg bent back the wretch's head, holding a short club that the two freshmen had taken away from Tip in the scuffle.

"Where's the other one, Dick?" gasped Dave, as he saw young Prescott coming back alone.

"He got away," muttered Dick. "He hit me over the head, and stunned me for a moment, or I'd be holding onto him yet."

"Who was he?" demanded Greg, breathlessly.

"I don't know," Dick admitted. "I'd give a small part of the earth to know and be sure about it."

That admission of ignorance was a most unfortunate one. Tip Scammon heard it, and the fellow grinned inwardly over knowing that his late companion had not been recognized.

"What are we going to do with this fellow, Dick?" asked Dave.

"I'm wondering whether he ought to be arrested or not," Dick replied.

"Fellows, I feel mighty sorry for Tip's father."

And well might all three feel sorry. So, far as was known, this crime against Dick was the first offense Tip had committed against the law. He was a tough character, and regarded as one of the worse than worthless young men of Gridley. Tip was a handy fellow, a jack-of-all-trades, with several at which he might have made an honest living--but he wouldn't. Yet Tip's father was old John Scammon, the highly respected janitor at the High School, where he had served for some forty years.

"I say, fellows, I wonder if we can let Tip go--now that we know the whole story?" breathed Dick.

"Say, I'll make it worth yer while," proposed Tip, eagerly.

"How about the law?" asked Dave Darrin, seriously. "Have we any right to let the fellow go, when we know he has committed a serious crime?"

"I don't know," replied Prescott. "All I'm thinking of is good, honest old John Scammon."

"It'd break me old man's heart--sure it would," put in Tip, cunningly.

At the first cry from Belle and Laura Bentley, however Mrs. Meade, who was also in the secret, had hurried down into Clark Street. Just as it happened she had espied a policeman less than a block away. That officer, posted by Mrs. Meade, now came hurrying down the alleyway.

"Oho! Tip, is it?" demanded the policeman. "Let him up, Darrin.

I can handle him. Now, then, what's the row about?"

Thereupon Dick and his chums had to tell the story. There was no way out of it. Officer Connors heard a little of it, then decided:

"The station house is the place to tell the rest of this. Come along, Tip. And you youngsters trail along behind."

Though the station house was not far away, a good-sized crowd was trailing along by the time they reached the business stand of the police. Tip was hustled in through the doorway, the three young freshmen following. Leaning over the railing, smoking and chatting with the sergeant at the desk, was plain clothes man Hemingway.

"Hullo," muttered that latter officer, "what's this?"

"A slice out of one of your cases, I guess, Hemingway, from what I've heard," laughed Connors. "According to these boys, Tip is the fellow who knows the inside game of the High School thefts."

"Let's have Scammon in the back room, then," urged Hemingway, leading the way to the guard room. The sergeant, also, followed, after summoning a reserve policeman to the desk.

Then followed a sharp grilling by the keen, astute Hemingway. Dick and his chums told what they had heard Tip say before they pounced upon him. Tip, who was a round-headed, short, square-shouldered fellow of twenty-four, possessed more of the cunning of the prize ring than the cleverness of the keen thief.

"I've been caught with the packages on me," he admitted, bluntly, and with some show of bravado. "I guess I can't get outer delivering 'em."

"Then you stole that pin and the gold watch from the locker at the High School?" demanded Hemingway, swiftly.

"Yep."

"How d

id you get into the locker room?" shot out Hemingway.

"Guess!" leered Tip, exhibiting some cheap bravado.

"Maybe I can find the answer in your clothes," retorted the plain clothes man. "Stand still."

The search resulted in the finding of about ten dollars, a knife, and three queer-looking implements that Hemingway instantly declared to be pick-locks.

"You used these tools, and slipped the lock, did you?" asked Hemingway.

"Didn't have to," grinned Tip.

"Took an impression of the lock, then, and made a key, did you?"

"Right-o," drawled Tip.

"I'll look into your lodgings," muttered Hemingway. "Probably I'll find you've got a good outfit for that kind of work. I remember you used to work for a locksmith."

Tip, however, was not scared. He knew that there was nothing at his lodgings to betray him.

"Then you used these picklocks to open Prescott's locked trunk with?" was Hemingway's next question.

"'Fraid I did," leered Tip.

"What time of the day did you get into the Prescott flat?"

"'Bout ten o'clock, morning of the same day ye went through

Prescott's trunk an' found the goods there."

"The same goods that you placed in the trunk, Tip, after breaking into the Prescott flat while Mr. and Mrs. Prescott were down in their store and young Prescott was at the High School?"

"That's right," Tip grinned.

"You picked the lock of young Prescott's trunk, stowed the watch and pin away in there, and then sprung the lock again?"

"Why, say, ye muster seen me," declared Scammon, admiringly.

"The week before that day you must have been at the High School, helping your father, especially in the basement during session hours."

"I sure was," Tip admitted. "I had ter, didn't I, to have a chance ter get inter the locker room?"

"What did you say the name of the fellow was who hired you to do the trick?" swiftly demanded Hemingway, changing the tack.

"I b'lieve I didn't say," responded Tip, giving a wink that included all present.

"Tell me now, then."

"Not if ye was to hang me for refusing," declared Scammon, with sudden obstinacy.

"Yet you've told us everything else," argued the plain clothes man.

"Might jest as well tell ye everything else," retorted Tip. "Didn't these High School kids find the packages on me?"

"Then tell us who the chap was that you were talking with tonight."

"Not fer anything ye could give me," asserted Tip Scammon, with great promptness.

"Oh, well, then," returned Hemingway, with affected carelessness, "Prescott can tell us the name of the chap he grappled with in that back yard."

"Yep! Let young Prescott tell," agreed Tip with great cheerfulness. That was as far as the police could get with the prisoner. He readily admitted all that was known, and he had even gone so far as to tell how he had stolen the watch and the pin, and how he had secreted them in Dick's trunk, but beyond that the fellow would not go further.

"Did you have anything to do with placing Ripley's pin in Prescott's pocket?" questioned Hemingway.

"Nope," declared Tip, in all apparent candor.

"Know anything about that?"

"Nope."

"Then how did you know that that particular morning was the right morning to hide the other two stolen articles in Prescott's trunk?"

"I heard, on the street, what was happenin'," declared Tip, confidently. "So I knew 'twas the right time ter do the rest of the trick."

At last Hemingway gave up the attempt to learn the name of the party with whom Tip had been talking in Stetson's Alley on this night. Then Tip was led away to a cell.

"Come on, fellows," muttered Dick to his chums. "Since Tip is under arrest, anyway, and has confessed, and since the whole thing is bound to become public, I want to run down to 'The Blade' office, find Len Spencer, and send him up here to get the whole, straight story. With this yarn printed I can go back to school in the morning!"

"Now, see here, Dick," expostulated Dave Darrin, as the three chums hurried along the street, "in the station house you told the police you didn't get a look at the other fellow's face."

"Well, that was straight," Prescott asserted.

"Do you mean to say you don't know who the fellow was--you really don't?" persisted Dave Darrin.

"I don't know," Dick declared flatly.

"You've a suspicion, just the same," asserted Greg Holmes, dryly.

"Possibly."

"Who was it, then?" coaxed Greg Holmes.

"Was it Fred Ripley?" shot out Dave Darrin.

"Will you fellows keep a secret, on your solemn honor, if I tell you one?" Dick questioned.

Dave and Greg both promised.

"Well, then," Prescott admitted, "I'm convinced in my own mind that it was Fred Ripley that I had hold of for an instant tonight. But I didn't see his face, and I can't prove it. That's why I'm not going to tell about it. But this fellow wore lavender striped trousers, just like a pair of Fred's. There is just a chance or two in a thousand that it wasn't Ripley--and I'm not going to throw it all over on him when I can't prove it. Fellows, I know just what it feels like to be under suspicion when you really didn't do a thing. It hurts--awfully!"

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