“Well, well, well!” said Archie. “Here we are again, what!” He prodded the boy amiably in the lower ribs. “You’re just the chap I was looking for. Got anything on for the time being?”
The boy said he had no engagements.
“Then I want you to stagger round with me to a chappie I know on Sixth Avenue. It’s only a couple of blocks away. I think I can do you a bit of good. Put you on to something tolerably ripe, if you know what I mean. Trickle along, laddie. You don’t need a hat.”
They found Mr. Blake brooding over his troubles in an empty shop.
“Cheer up, old thing!” said Archie. “The relief expedition has arrived.” He directed his companion’s gaze to the poster. “Cast your eye over that. How does that strike you?”
The long boy scanned the poster. A gleam appeared in his rather dull eye.
“Some people have all the luck!” said the long boy, feelingly.
“Would you like to compete, what?”
The boy smiled a sad smile.
“Would I! Would I! Say!...”
“I know,” interrupted Archie. “Wake you up in the night and ask you! I knew I could rely on you, old thing.” He turned to Mr. Blake. “Here’s the fellow you’ve been wanting to meet. The finest left-and-right-hand eater east of the Rockies! He’ll fight the good fight for you.”
Mr. Blake’s English training had not been wholly overcome by residence in New York. He still retained a nice eye for the distinctions of class.
“But this is young gentleman’s a young gentleman,” he urged, doubtfully, yet with hope shining in his eye. “He wouldn’t do it.”
“Of course, he would. Don’t be ridic, old thing.”
“Wouldn’t do what?” asked the boy.
“Why save the old homestead by taking on the champion. Dashed sad case, between ourselves! This poor egg’s nominee has given him the raspberry at the eleventh hour, and only you can save him. And you owe it to him to do something you know, because it was your jolly old mater’s lecture last night that made the nominee quit. You must charge in and take his place. Sort of poetic justice, don’t you know, and what not!” He turned to Mr. Blake. “When is the conflict supposed to start? Two-thirty? You haven’t any important engagement for two-thirty, have you?”
“No. Mother’s lunching at some ladies’ club, and giving a lecture afterwards. I can slip away.”
Archie patted his head.
“Then leg it where glory waits you, old bean!”
The long boy was gazing earnestly at the poster. It seemed to fascinate him.
“Pie!” he said in a hushed voice.
The word was like a battle-cry.
WASHY STEPS INTO THE HALL OF FAME