Chapter III. Phil to Rescue

Phil Forrest was in a panic of uneasiness.

No sooner had his own section started than he made the discovery that Teddy Tucker was not on board. Then the lad went through the train in the hope that his companion had gotten on the wrong car. There was no trace of Teddy.

In the meantime Teddy had slowly clambered to the roof of the stock car, where he stretched himself out, clinging to the running board, with the big car swaying beneath him. The wind seemed, up there, to be blowing a perfect gale, and it was all the boy could do to hold on. After a while he saw a light approaching him. The light was in the hands of a brakeman who was working his way over the train toward the caboose.

He soon came up to where Teddy was lying. There he stopped.

"Well, youngster, what are you doing here?" he demanded, flashing his light into the face of the uncomfortable Teddy.

"Trying to ride."

"I suppose you know you are breaking the law and that I'll have to turn you over to a policeman or a constable the next town we stop at?"

"Nothing of the sort! What do you take me for? Think I'm some kind of tramp?" objected the lad. "Go on and let me alone."

The brakeman looked closer. He observed that the boy was soaking wet, but that, despite this, he was well dressed.

"What are you, if not a tramp?"

"I'm with the show."

The brakeman laughed long and loud, but Teddy was more interested in the man's easy poise on the swaying car than in what he said.

"Wish I could do that," muttered the lad admiringly.

"What's that?"

"Nothing, only I was thinking out loud."

"Well, you'll get off at the next stop unless you can prove that you belong here."

"I won't," protested Teddy stubbornly.

"We'll see about that. Come down here on the flat car behind this one, and we'll find out. I see some of the show people there. Besides, you're liable to fall off here and get killed. Come along."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"I'll fall off if I try to get up."

"And you a showman?" laughed the brakeman satirically, at the same time grabbing Teddy by the coat collar and jerking him to his feet.

The trainman did not appear to mind the giddy swaying of the stock car. He permitted Teddy to walk on the running board while he himself stepped carelessly along on the sloping roof of the car, though not relaxing his grip on the collar of Teddy Tucker.

Bidding the boy to hang to the brake wheel, the brakeman began climbing down the end ladder, so as to catch Teddy in case he were to fall. After him came the Circus Boy, cautiously picking his way down the ladder.

"Any of you fellows know this kid?" demanded the trainman, flashing his lantern into Teddy's face. "He says he's with the show."

"Put him off!" howled one of the roustabouts who had been sleeping on the flat car under a cage. "Never saw him before."

"You sit down there, young man. Next stop, off you go," announced the brakeman sternly.

"I'll bet you I don't," retorted Teddy Tucker aggressively.

"We'll see about that."

"Quit your music; we want to go to sleep," growled a showman surlily.

The brakeman put down his lantern and seated himself on the side of the flat car. He did not propose to leave the boy until he had seen him safely off the train.

"How'd you get wet?" questioned Tucker's captor.

"Some fellows ducked me."

The trainman roared, which once more aroused the ire of the roustabouts who were trying to sleep.

They had gone on for an hour, when finally the train slowed down.

"Here's where you hit the ties," advised the brakeman, peering ahead.

"Where are we?"

"McQueen's siding. We stop here to let an express by. And I want to tell you that it won't be healthy for you if I catch you on this train again. Now, get off!"

Teddy making no move to obey, the railroad man gently but firmly assisted him over the side of the car, dropping him down the embankment by the side of the track.

"I'll make you pay for this if I ever catch you again," threatened Teddy from the bottom of the bank, as he scrambled to his feet.

Observing that the trainman was holding his light over the side of the car and peering down at him, Teddy ran along on all fours until he was out of sight of the brakeman, then he straightened up and ran toward the rear of the train as fast as his feet would carry him, while the railroad man began climbing over the cars again, headed for the caboose at the rear.

Teddy had gained the rear of the train by this time, but he did not show himself just yet. He waited until the flagman had come in, and until the fellow who had put him off had disappeared in the caboose.

At that, Teddy sprang up, and, swinging to the platform of the caboose, quickly climbed the iron ladder that led to the roof of the little boxlike car. He had no sooner flattened himself on the roof than the train began to move again.

Only one more stop was made during the night and that for water. Just before daylight they rumbled into the yards at Atlantic City, and Teddy scrambled from his unsteady perch, quickly clambering down so as to be out of the way before the trainmen should discover his presence.

But quickly as he had acted, he had not been quick enough. The trainman who had put him off down the line collared the lad the minute his feet touched the platform of the caboose.

"You here again?" he demanded sternly.

Teddy grinned sheepishly.

"I told you you couldn't put me off."

"We'll see about that. Here, officer." He beckoned to a policeman. "This kid has been stealing a ride. I put him off once. I turn him over to you now."

"All right. Young man, you come with me!"

Teddy protested indignantly, but the officer, with a firm grip on his arm, dragged the lad along with him. They proceeded on up the tracks toward the station, the lad insisting that he was with the show and that he had a right to ride wherever he pleased.

"Teddy!" shouted a voice, just as they stepped on the long platform that led down to the street.

"Phil!" howled the lad. "Come and save me! A policeman's got me and he's taking me to jail."

Phil Forrest ran to them.

"Here, here! What's this boy done?" he demanded.