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The Tireless Foe






The Giants opened at Chicago, and the results were none too good.
The Cubs, who just then were in the midst of a spurt, clawed and bit
their way to victory in two games of the four, and the Giants were
lucky to break even. As it was, the two games they won were annexed
by the terrific batting of Joe, who was hitting like a demon. In the
four games he made three home runs, and two of them were lined out
when there were men on bases. All pitchers looked alike to him, and he
played no favorites. The rest he had had from pitching had made him all
the more effective as a batsman.

His fame as a hitter had spread through all the cities of the League,
and the Chicago grounds were filled to their capacity during the
Giants' visit. Most of the spectators were as eager to see him hit one
of his mammoth homers as they were to see the home team win. Cheers
greeted him every time he came to the bat. He was the greatest drawing
card that the Giants had or ever had had.

Opinion was divided as to whether he or Kid Rose of the Yankees was
the greatest hitter. Each had his partisans. Rose had been longer
in the limelight, and those who had made up their minds that he was
the greatest hitter that ever lived were reluctant to see their idol
replaced by a newcomer. Many confidently predicted that Joe would
not last, that his work was only a flash in the pan. Others declared
that he did not have to bat against as good pitching in the National
League as was shown in the American, and that therefore Rose's work was
superior. But as Joe kept on, day in and day out, lacing out tremendous
hits that landed in the bleachers and at times sailed over the fence,
the doubters grew silent, or joined in the wild applause as Joe jogged
around the bases and crossed the plate standing up.

The keenest interest was manifested in the race that the Yankees were
making to land the flag in the American League. If they should come out
on top, the World Series would be held between New York teams, and Rose
and Joe could be seen in action against each other. That would help to
settle the question as to which had a right to wear the batting crown
of the world. It would be a battle of giants, and it was certain that,
if such a contest took place, there would be delegations to see it
from all parts of the country.

McRae was no longer content to use Joe simply as a pinch hitter. He
wanted to take full advantage of his marvelous hitting, and so he
put him in the regular line-up and played him every day. Wheeler was
relegated to the bench and Joe took his place in the field. The manager
also changed his batting order, putting Joe fourth in the cleanup
position. And again and again his judgment was vindicated by the way
Joe cleaned up with homers, sending his comrades in ahead of him.

The day the third Chicago game was played was a very hot one, and Joe
and Jim were tired and warm. Jim had pitched that day and won, after a
gruelling contest, and Joe had varied his ordinary routine by knocking
out two home runs instead of one.

Joe was seated in his hotel room, writing a letter to Mabel. Jim had
stepped down to the office to get some stationery, for he had the
pleasant task on hand of writing to Clara.

A knock came at the door, and in answer to his call to enter, a bellboy
stepped into the room, bearing a pitcher and glasses.

"Here's the lemonade you ordered, boss," he said, as he put his burden
on a convenient stand.

"Lemonade?" repeated Joe in some surprise. "I didn't order any."

"Clerk sent me up with it, sir," said the bellboy respectfully. "Said
it was for Mr. Matson, room four-seventeen. This is four-seventeen,
isn't it?" he asked as he glanced at the number on the door, which he
had left open.

"This is four-seventeen, all right, and I'm Mr. Matson," Joe answered.
"But I didn't order anything. I'll tell you how it is though," he
added, as a thought struck him. "My friend who is sharing the room with
me has just gone down to the lobby, and he's probably told the clerk to
send it up. That's all right. Leave it there."

"Shall I pour you out a glass, sir?" asked the boy, suiting the action
to the word.

"If you like," responded Joe carelessly, taking a quarter out of his
pocket as a tip.

The boy thanked him and withdrew, closing the door behind him. Joe
finished the paragraph he was writing, and then picked up the glass. He
took a sip of it and put it down.

"Pretty bitter," he said to himself. "Not enough sugar. Still it's
cooling, and I sure am warm."

Again he lifted the glass to his lips, but just then Jim burst into the
room.

"Whom do you think I saw just now?" he demanded.

"Give it up," replied Joe. "But whoever it was, you seem to be all
excited about it. Who was it?"

"Fleming!" answered Jim, as he plumped down into a chair.

"Fleming!" repeated Joe with quickened interest. "What's that fellow
doing here? I thought he hung out in New York."

"That's what I want to know," replied Jim. "Wherever that fellow is,
there's apt to be dirty work brewing. And the frightened look that came
into his eyes when he saw me, and the way he hurried past me, made me
uneasy. He acted as if he'd been up to something. I don't like the idea
of a pal of Braxton being in the same hotel with us."

"I don't care much for it myself," answered Joe. "Still, a hotel is
open to anybody, and this is one of the most popular ones in the city.
It isn't especially surprising that you should happen to run across
him."

"Not surprising perhaps, but unpleasant just the same," responded Jim.
"It leaves a bad taste in my mouth."

"Well," laughed Joe, "take the bad taste out with a glass of this
lemonade you sent up. It isn't very good--it has a bad taste of its
own--but it will cool you off."

He raised his glass to his mouth as he spoke. But in an instant Jim was
on his feet and knocked the glass from his hand. It fell on the floor
and splintered in many pieces.

Joe looked at him in open-eyed amazement, too astonished to speak.

"Don't touch the stuff!" cried Jim. "What do you mean by saying I sent
it up?"

"Didn't you?" asked Joe. "The bellboy said he had been told to bring it
to me, and as I hadn't ordered it, I jumped to the conclusion that you
had."

"Not I!" replied Jim. "But I can guess who did!"

"Who?"

"Fleming."

The two friends looked fixedly at each other.

"Do you mean," asked Joe, after a moment in which surprise and
indignation struggled for the mastery, "that that lemonade was doped?"

"Doped or poisoned, I'll bet my life," affirmed Jim. "Let's get to
the bottom of this thing. Quick, old man! Perhaps Fleming is still
somewhere in the hotel."

"Not a chance," replied Joe, jumping to his feet. "If he's mixed up in
this, he's getting away as fast as his legs or a car can carry him. But
we'll go down and see what we can learn from the clerk."

They went to the head clerk, whom they knew very well. He was an ardent
fan, and his face lighted up as he saw the friends approaching.

"Saw you play to-day, gentlemen," he said. "Those two home runs of
yours were whales, Mr. Matson. And your pitching, Mr. Barclay, was all
to the mustard."

"Sorry to beat your Chicago boys, but we needed that game in our
business," laughed Joe. "But what I want to see you about just now is a
personal matter. Did you get an order from me or from my room to send
up any lemonade?"

The clerk looked surprised.

"No," he replied. "I didn't get any such request. Wait a moment until I
see the telephone operator."

He consulted the girl at the telephone, and was back in a moment. "No
message of any kind came from your room to-night," he announced.

"But one of your bellboys brought it up," persisted Joe.

"Which one of them was it?" asked the clerk, pointing to a group of
them lounging about.

"None of them," responded Joe, as he ran his eye over them.





Next: Champions Of The League

Previous: Lining Them Out



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