Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER III AN UPSET
"Here you are, Joe. Best team in the stable. I could have hired 'em out
twice over since you went; but I wouldn't do it. Other folks have got
the scare, too, about friends on the stalled train," and the livery boss
handed Joe the reins of a pair of prancing horses, hitched to a light,
but strong cutter.
"Thanks, Mr. Blasser," said Joe. "I'll take good care of 'em."
"And hold 'em in a bit at the start," advised the man. "They haven't
been out for a couple of days, and they're a bit frisky. But they'll
calm down after a while."
With a jingle of bells, and a scattering of the snow from their hoofs,
the horses leaped forward when Joe gave them their heads, and down the
whitened street they trotted, on the way to Deep Rock Cut.
This was a place where the railroad went through a rocky defile, about a
mile long. It had been the scene of more than one wreck, for there was
a dangerous curve in it, and in the Winter it was a source of worry to
the railroad men, for the snow piled high in it when there was a storm
of more than usual severity. In the Summer a nearby river sometimes rose
above its banks, and filled the cut with water, washing out the track.
Altogether Deep Rock Cut was a cause of much anxiety to the railroad
management, but it was not practical to run the line on either side of
it, so its use had been continued.
"And very likely it's living up to its reputation right now," mused Joe,
as he drove down the main street, and then turned to another that would
take him out of the town, and to a highway that led near Deep Rock Cut.
"It sure must be living up to its reputation right now, though, of
course, the storm is to blame.
"Whew! It certainly does blow!" he commented, as he held the reins in
one hand, and drew more closely about his throat the muffler he had
brought with him. "Stand to it, ponies!" Joe called to the sturdy
steeds. They had started off at a lively pace, but the snow soon slowed
them down. They started up again, however, at the sound of Joe's voice,
and settled down into a steady pull that took them over the ground at a
Now that he was actually on the way to the rescue Joe allowed his
thoughts to go back to the baseball letter that was in his pocket, next
to the one from Mabel.
"I wonder how they came to pick me out?" he mused, as he recalled the
possibility that he would go to St. Louis. "They must have had a scout
at some of the Central League games, though generally the news of that
is tipped off beforehand.
"That must have been the way of it, though," he went on, still communing
with himself. "I don't know that I played so extra well, except maybe at
the last, and then--then I just had to--to make good. Well, I'm glad
they picked me out. Wonder if any other members of the Pittston team are
slated to go? Can't be, though, or Gregory would have told me of it.
"And I wonder how much more salary I'll get? Of course I oughtn't to
think too much about money, for, after all, it's the game I like. But,
then, I have to live, and, since I'm in organized baseball, I want to be
at the top of the heap, the same as I would if I were a lawyer, or a
doctor. That's it--the top of the heap--the New York Giants for mine--if
I can reach 'em," and he smiled quizzically.
"Yes, I guess lots of the fellows would give their eye teeth to have my
chance. Of course, it isn't settled yet," Joe told himself, "but there
must have been a good foundation for it, or Gregory wouldn't have taken
the trouble to write to me about it."
Joe found the road to Deep Rock Cut fully as bad, in the matter of
snowdrifts, as he had expected. It was rather slow going when he got to
the open country, where the wind had full sweep, and progress, even on
the part of the willing horses, was slower.
Joe picked out the best, and easiest, route possible, but that was not
saying much, and it was not until nearly three o'clock, and growing
quite dark, that he came within sight of the cut. Then the storm was so
thick that he could not see the stalled train.
"I'll have to leave the team as near to it as I can get, and walk in to
tell Reggie and Mabel that I've come for them," Joe decided.
The highway crossed the railroad track a short distance from the end of
the cut nearest Riverside, and Joe, halting a moment to listen, and to
make sure no trains were approaching, drove over the rails.
"Though there isn't much danger, now, of a train getting through that,"
he said to himself, as he saw the big drift of snow that blocked the
cut. Behind that drift was the stalled train, he reflected, and then, as
he looked at the white mound, he realized that he had made a mistake.
"I can never get through that drift myself," he said. "I'll have to
drive up to the other end of the cut, by which the engine and cars
entered. Stupid of me not to have thought of that at first."
He turned his horses, and again sought the highway that led along the
cut, parallel to it, and about a quarter of a mile distant. Joe
listened, again hoping he could hear the whistle of the approaching
rescue-train, for at the station he had been told one was being fitted
out, and would carry a gang of snow shovelers. But the howl of the wind
was all that came to his ears.
"This means another mile of travel," Joe thought, as he urged on the
horses. "It will be pitch dark by the time I get back to town with them.
I hope Mabel doesn't take cold. It sure is bitter."
Joe found the going even harder as he kept on, but he would not give up
"There's one consolation," he reasoned, "the wind will be at our backs
going home. That will make it easier."
The road that crossed the track at the other end of Deep Rock Cut was
farther from the beginning of the defile, and Joe, leaving the horses in
a sheltering clump of trees, struggled down the track, the rails of
which were out of sight under the snow.
"I wonder if Mabel can walk back?" he said aloud. "If not I guess Reggie
and I can carry her. It's pretty deep. I didn't get here any too soon."
Something dark loomed up before him, amid the wall of white, swirling
"There's the train!" exclaimed Joe, in relief.
It was indeed the rear coach of the stalled passenger train, and, a
moment later, Joe was climbing the snow-encumbered steps. It proved to
be the baggage car, and, as Joe entered, he surprised a number of men
who were smoking, and playing cards on an upturned trunk.
"Hello!" exclaimed one of them, in surprise at the sight of the ball
player. "Where'd you come from? Is the rescue-train here?"
"Not yet," Joe answered. "I came to take a couple of friends into town."
"Say, I wish I had a friend like you!" cried the man, with a laugh. "I
sure would like to get into town; but I don't dare start out and tramp
it--not with my rheumatism. How much room have you got in your airship?"
"I came in a cutter," responded Joe, with a smile.
"Say, you got some grit!" declared the man. "I like your nerve!"
"Oh, Joe's got plenty of nerve--of the right sort!" called a brakeman,
and Joe, nodding at him, recognized a railroad acquaintance who had
been present at some of the town ball games.
"A couple of my friends are in one of the coaches, Mr. Wheatson,"
explained Joe. "I'm going to drive back with them."
"Go ahead and look for 'em," invited the brakeman. "The train is yours,
as far as I'm concerned. I guess we're tied up here all night."
"They're going to start out a rescue-train," Joe informed the men in the
baggage car, for the telegraph wires had gone down after the first
message, telling of the stalled train, had been sent.
"That's good news," replied one of the men. "Well, all we can do is to
stay here, and play cards. It's nice and warm in here, anyhow."
"Yes, it will be until the coal for the engine gives out," spoke a
player, who seemed to take a rather gloomy view of matters. "And what
are we going to do about supper? I'd like to know that!"
Joe wished he could have brought along enough food for all the stranded
passengers, but this was impossible. He went on through the train, and
presently came to where Mabel and her brother were seated in the parlor
car, looking gloomily out at the storm.
"Well!" exclaimed Joe, with a smile, as he stood just back of them. They
both turned with a flash, and a look of pleased surprise came over the
faces of Reggie and his sister as they saw him.
"Joe Matson!" cried Reggie, jumping up, and holding out his hand. "Where
in the world did you come from? I didn't know you were on this train."
"I wasn't," laughed Joe. "I just boarded it, and I've come for you," he
added, as he gave Mabel his hand.
"Oh, but I'm glad to see you!" she exclaimed. "Isn't this just perfectly
awful, to be snowed in like this! And they tell us there's no chance of
getting out to-night."
"There is for you," remarked Joe, quietly.
"How?" asked Reggie, quickly. "Did they push the relief-train through?"
"I'm all the relief-train there is," announced Joe, and he told about
having the cutter in readiness.
"Say, that's fine of you!" cried Reggie. "Shall we go with him, Mabel?"
"Well, I rather guess so," she answered. "I couldn't stay here another
"It won't be much fun traveling through the storm," Joe warned his
friends. At this Reggie looked a bit doubtful, but his sister exclaimed:
"I don't mind it! I love a storm, anyhow, and I just can't bear sitting
still, and doing nothing. Besides, there isn't a thing to eat aboard
this train, for they took off the dining car right after lunch."
"I brought along a little something. It's in the cutter," Joe said. "I
didn't bring it in here for fear the famished passengers would mob me
for it," he added, with a smile. "Well, if you're willing to trust
yourself with me, perhaps we'd better start," he went on. "It is getting
darker all the while, and the snow is still falling."
"I'll be ready at once!" cried Mabel. "Reggie, get down the valises;
will you, please? Can you take them?" she asked of Joe.
"Oh, yes--room for them in the cutter," he assured her.
The other passengers looked on curiously, and enviously, when they heard
where Reggie and his sister were going. But, much as Joe would have
liked to take them all to a place of comfort, he could not. The three
went back to the baggage car, and, saying good-bye to the card-players,
stepped out into the storm.
"I guess your brother and I had better carry you, Mabel," suggested Joe,
as he saw the deep snow that led along the track to where he had left
"Indeed you'll not--thank you!" she flashed back at him. "I have on
stout shoes, and I don't mind the drifts." She proved it by striding
sturdily through them, and soon the three were at the cutter, the
horses whinnying impatiently to be gone.
"Have some hot coffee and a sandwich," invited Joe, as he got out the
basket, and served his guests.
"Say, you're all right!" cried Reggie. Mabel said nothing, but the look
she gave Joe was reward enough.
The coffee in the vacuum bottle was warm and cheering, and soon, much
refreshed from the little lunch, and bundled up well in the robes Joe
had brought, Reggie and his sister were ready for the trip to town.
"Step along!" cried the young baseball player to the horses, and glad
enough they were to do so. Out to the highway they went, and it was not
until they were some distance away from the cut that Joe noticed how
much worse the going was. The snow was considerably deeper, and had
drifted high in many more places.
"Think you can make it?" asked Reggie, anxiously.
"Well, I'm going to make a big try!" responded Joe. "I've got a good
Half an hour later it was quite dark, but the white covering on the
ground showed where the road was faintly outlined. Joe let the horses
have their heads, and they seemed to know they were going toward their
stable, for they went along at a good pace.
"There's a bad drift!" exclaimed Joe as, ahead of him, he saw a big
mound of snow. He tried to guide the horses to one side, and must have
given a stronger pull on the reins than he realized. For the steeds
turned sharply, and, the next moment, the cutter suddenly turned over on
its side, spilling into the snow the three occupants.