“What does this mean?”
“Somebody has been at this box!”
“The fireworks have all been shot off!”
“Hurry up with that display!” came from the fence. “Don’t keep us waiting all night!”
“Thought you was going to show us something better than that show at the square!” piped in a small boy.
“We have been swindled!” groaned Ham.
“Somebody has tricked us,” gasped Carl. “Oh, this is dreadful!”
“What’s the matter, boys?” asked Mr. Dudden, coming up, followed by Mr. Spink.
“The box is full of—–of rubbish, father!”
“Somebody set off the things and put them back burnt up,” added Ham.
After that there was considerable excitement. The box was overturned and out tumbled the remains of the square celebration. With the articles came a small basket, wrapped in a brown paper and sealed up. Ham tore the covering from the basket and out dropped—–two lemons! On one was a bit of paper labeled Ham and on the other a paper marked Carl.
“Oh, just let me catch the fellow who played this trick!” roared Ham, dancing around in his rage. “Won’t I just fix him! Won’t I though!”
“Ain’t you going to set off them fireworks?” called a boy from the fence.
“Don’t believe they’ve got any to set off,” said another.
“It’s a shame to keep us waiting here,” put in a third.
“You shut up, all of you!” cried Carl, who was as angry as Ham. “We’ll set off the fireworks when we choose. Oh, if this isn’t the limit!” he murmured.
With no fireworks worth mentioning, the proposed celebration could not come off, and everybody was bitterly disappointed. The crowd outside the fence began to jeer, and some small boys threw lumps of soft mud at Ham and Carl. Then Mr. Dudder got angry and ordered everybody off, and took his guests into the mansion. Ham and Carl were so chagrined they knew not what to do.
“We must find out who did this,” said Ham.
“Maybe it was Snap Dodge and his crowd,” suggested Carl. “It would be just like them.”
“If they are guilty—–I’ll fix them!” went on Ham, bitterly. “They had no business to touch our fireworks. Just think what they cost us!
“And it made us the laughingstock of the whole town,” added Carl, sourly.
“I’ve got an idea—–that celebration at the square—–maybe they held it with our fireworks!”
“What! Say, it must be so! Oh, what fools we were! Of course it was them. I see it all now—–’Carlham fireworks’ indeed! That’s Carl and Ham, as plain as day.”
“Yes, and the ‘Swimmer Company’ is plain enough, too. They did this to get even for taking their clothes away that day.”
“We can’t say they stole the fireworks. If we do they may say we stole their clothes.”
“We won’t say anything—–but let us get square, the first chance we get,” and so it was decided. It was several days before Ham and Carl heard the last of the “grand celebration” they had reported they would give.