He was passing a building in the course of erection. It stood flush with the sidewalk, and the contractor had laid down a board walk over the sidewalk, and had covered it with a roofed staging.
Just as Dick passed under this, still on a lope, a long pole was thrust quickly out from the blackness inside the building. Between Dick’s moving legs went the pole.
Bump! Down came Dick, on both hands and one knee. Then he rolled over sideways.
Away back in the building the young pitcher heard fast-moving feet.
In a flash Dick tried to get up. It took him more time than he had expected. He clutched at one of the upright beams for support.
Half a dozen people had seen the fall. Stopping curiously, they soon turned, hurrying toward Prescott.
Forgotten, in an instant, was the youngster’s pain. His face went white with another throbbing realization.
“The game to-morrow! This knee puts me out!”
THE HOUR OF TORMENTING DOUBT
“Oh, no! That mustn’t be. I’ve got to pitch in to-morrow’s game!”
Prescott ground out the words between his clenched teeth. The consciousness of pain was again asserting itself.
“What’s the matter, Prescott?” called the first passer-by to reach him.
“Matter enough,” grumbled Dick, pointing to the pole that lay near him. “See that thing?”
“Yes. Trip over it?”
“I did. But some one thrust it between my legs as I was running past here.”
“Sho!” exclaimed another, curiously. “Now, who would want to do that?”
“Anyone who didn’t want me to pitch to-morrow’s game, perhaps,” flashed Dick, with sudden divination.
“What’s this?” demanded a boy, breaking in through the small crowd that was collecting. “Dick—–you hurt?”
It didn’t take Dave many seconds to understand the situation.
“I’ll bet I know who did it!” he muttered, vengefully.
“Who?” spoke up one of the men.
But Dick gave a warning nudge. “Oh, well!” muttered Dave Darrin. “We’ll settle this thing all in our own good time.”
“Let me have your arm, Dave,” begged young Prescott. “I want to see how well I can walk.”
The young pitcher had already been experimenting, cautiously, to see how much weight he could bear on his injured left leg.
“Take my arm on the other side,” volunteered a sympathetic man in the crowd.
Dick was about to do so, when the lights of an auto showed as the machine came close to the curb.
“Here’s a doctor,” called some one.
“Which one?” asked Dick.
“Good!” muttered Dave. “Dr. Bentley is medical examiner to the High School athletic teams. Ask Dr. Bentley if he won’t come in here. Stand still, Dick, and put all the weight you can on your sound leg.”