“But after the game’s been won?” expostulated Thad.
“Oh, that’s a different thing,” admitted his chum. “Then we feel that we can afford to be generous without being put in a possible hole. Every true player is ready to take off his cap and give a beaten rival a hearty cheer. It sort of eases up the sting of defeat a bit, too, as all of us know.”
As they parted at the gate in front of Thad’s home he once more returned to the subject that had such a strong hold on his mind.
“If anything crops up that you think would interest me, about that tramp, of course, I mean, Hugh, please give me the sign, won’t you?” Thad asked.
Hugh did not seem disposed to take his chum into his confidence just then; perhaps he wanted to make more certain that his faint suspicions were well grounded before committing himself to a disclosure.
“Sure I will, if I learn anything positive, Thad,” he merely said; “and in the meantime we’ll keep tabs on Brother Lu’s eccentric actions, hoping to catch him off his guard,” and later on Thad realized that these last words were rather significant.
AN ADVENTURE ON THE ROAD
On Saturday morning Hugh had an errand that took him out of town. Once again it was to the farm where his mother secured that lovely sweet butter, without which the hot biscuits would never taste quite so fine. And as her customary supply had not turned up, with Sunday just ahead, nothing would do but that Hugh must take a little run out on his wheel, and fetch several pounds home with him.
It was about half-past eight when he threw himself in the saddle and started. A more charming summer morning could hardly be experienced. The sun might be a bit hot later on, but just then the air was fragrant with the odor of new-mown grass, the neighbors’ lawns having been attended to on the preceding day, but not raked up; the birds sang blithely in the hedges and among the branches of the trees, and in Hugh’s soul there rested the joy that a tired high-school scholar finds when the end of the week brings a well-deserved holiday.
As he rode quietly along, not desiring to be in too great a hurry, Hugh’s mind somehow reverted to the last occasion when he had gone out to this same farm, in Thad’s company, as it happened. He could again in imagination see the old tramp as he got his solitary meal, with the aid of those useful empty tomato cans, and the little blaze he had kindled among the trees alongside the road.
Passing the spot revived these memories vividly. To think that weeks had gone and all that time Brother Lu had stuck to his guns, holding out at the humble Hosmer cottage, and eating the bread of dependence!
“But something tells me the end is coming pretty soon now,” Hugh muttered, as he continued on his way.
It was not so very far beyond that identical spot he discovered a large car standing at one side of the road, where the woods grew quite thickly. The chauffeur sat there, idly waiting, it seemed. Hugh had more than once known the same thing to happen, when parties touring from some neighboring town stopped to eat lunch in a spot they fancied, or, it might be, to gather wild flowers.