“But the Bird boys won the prize of a silver cup!”
“What if they did? It was by a hair’s breadth, Mr. Smarty!”
“And their monoplane was proven to be faster than the big biplane you built, Puss Carberry!”
“Oh! was it? Don’t you be too sure of that, Larry!”
“Didn’t it land on the summit of Old Thunder Top ahead of you and Sandy, in the race that afternoon? Tell me that!” and Larry Geohegan bristled up to the recognized bully of Bloomsbury, while a dozen fellows clustered around on the deck of the big power boat, listening eagerly to this war of words.
They were on their way home from a very exciting game of baseball that had been played at Cranford, across the lake. And after ten innings of hot work the nine from Bloomsbury had won. But not until they had changed pitchers, upon tying the score in the ninth, after coming up from behind.
Puss and Larry both wore the uniform of the home players, and there were others on the boat who also belonged to the team. In fact, the staunch vessel had been placed at the disposal of the baseball club for this day, by Commodore Elliott, the rich owner.
Larry had never been one of the adherents whom Puss could call upon to back him up when he tried conclusions with a hostile faction; in fact, Larry had always been an admirer of Frank Bird, who was recognized as the most persistent rival the bully had ever encountered in his whole career since coming to Bloomsbury.
Puss allowed a contemptuous expression to take possession of his face, and even shrugged his broad shoulders, after a nasty fashion he had, that often angered the one he was arguing with more than words could have done.
“Aw! rats!” he said, in a disagreeable, rasping voice. “Everybody knows that I’d won that same race only for trouble with my engine. Frank was lucky, just like he generally is when he goes in for anything. Look at him today, being called in to pitch in the tenth! We had ’em badly rattled, and they were on the toboggan sure. Yet Frank, the great hero, gets credit for winning that game. Didn’t the Bloomsbury crowd cheer him to the echo, though, and want to ride him on their shoulders? Wow! it makes me sick, to see such toadyism!”
“What’s all this big noise about, fellows? Didn’t I hear my name mentioned?” asked a tall lad with a frank face and clear brown eyes, as he pushed forward.
It was Frank Bird himself, who had been talking with his cousin Andy, and several other fellows, in the bow of the launch, and by accident heard the voices that were raised in dispute.
Percy Carberry, known among his comrades simply as “Puss,” did not flinch when he found himself face to face with the boy he detested so thoroughly. They had never as yet actually come to blows; but Puss believed that his muscular powers were far superior to those of his more slender rival, and just now he was in a particularly bitter frame of mind.