The Circus Boys On the Mississippi by Edgar B. P. Darlington
Chapter XIX. Teddy Joins the Band
"I would suggest that you divide the band into two parts and have them play on deck as we approach the next stand," said Phil later that evening.
"I think that a most excellent plan," decided Mr. Sparling. "We will work it whenever we get in after daylight. It might not be a bad idea to try it tomorrow morning. I'll allow the musicians overtime for it, so there should be no objection on their part. We will make a triumphal entry into Des Moines, providing nothing happens to us in the meantime."
Mr. Sparling's face darkened as he thought of the dastardly attempts that had been made against his young charges.
"I will see the leader before I turn in. You had better go to bed now, Phil. You have been keeping pretty late hours and working unusually hard. Good night."
"Good night," answered Phil pleasantly.
Man and boy had come to be very fond of each other, and Phil Forrest could not have felt a more genuine affection for Mr. Sparling had the latter been his own father.
"A noble fellow," was Mr. Sparling's comment as the youth walked away from the cabin.
At half-past three o'clock the next morning the boat's passengers were awakened by the blare of brass, the crash of cymbals and the boom of the big bass drum.
They tumbled out of bed in a hurry, for few of them knew of the plan of the owner to give an early morning concert on the deck of the "Fat Marie."
Teddy Tucker struck the floor of his cabin broadside on.
"Wake up, Phil! We're late for the show. It's already begun and here we are in bed."
"Guess again, Teddy," answered Phil sleepily. "Don't you know where you are?"
"I thought I did, but I don't. Where am I?"
"In our cabin on the ship."
"But the band, the band?"
"It is playing for the benefit of the natives along the shore."
"Oh, pooh! And here I am wide awake. Do you know what time it is?"
"It is only twenty minutes of four."
"In the afternoon? Goodness we are late."
"No, in the morning, you ninny. This is a shame. I'll bet that band concert was your suggestion, Phil Forrest."
Phil admitted the charge.
"Then you must take your medicine with the rest of us. Come out of that!"
One of Phil's feet was peeping out from under the covers. Teddy saw it and grabbed it. Being a strong boy, the mighty tug he gave was productive of results.
Phil landed on his back on the floor, with a resounding thump and a jolt that made him see stars.
"Teddy Tucker, look out; I'm coming!"
"You had better look out; I'm waiting."
The two supple-limbed youngsters met in the middle of the cabin floor and went down together. They were evenly matched, and the muscles of their necks stood out like whip cords as they struggled over the floor, each seeking to get a fall from his antagonist.
Teddy managed to roll under the bed, and there they continued their early morning battle, but under no slight difficulties. Every time one of the gladiators forgot himself and raised his head, he bumped it. Phil tried to force Teddy out from under the bed, but Teddy refused to be forced.
"When--when I get you out of here I am going to do something to you that you won't like, Teddy Tucker," panted Phil.
"What--what you going to do to me?"
"I'm going to pour a pitcher of cold water on your bare feet."
The thought of it sent Teddy into a nervous chill. He would rather take a sound thrashing, at any time, than have that done to him. Now he struggled more desperately than ever to hold Phil under the bed. At last, however, the boys rolled out and Teddy's shoulders struck the cabin floor with a bang that sent the pitcher jingling in the wash bowl.
Phil sprang up, seized the water pitcher, making a threatening move with it toward his companion.
"Wow! Don't, don't!" howled Teddy.
Phil pursued him around the cabin, the water splashing from the pitcher to the floor. Teddy yelling like a wild Indian every time he stepped in the puddles.
The window was open and the band was playing just outside.
Suddenly a new plan occurred to Teddy--a plan whereby he might escape from his tormentor.
Taking a running start he sprang up, making a clean dive through the window head-first.
The lad had intended to land on his hands, do a cartwheel and come up easily on his feet. But the best-laid plans sometimes go wrong.
The bass drummer was pounding his drum right in line with the window. Teddy did not see the drum until too late to change his course. His head hit the drum with a bang. He went clear through it, his head protruding from the other side. And there he stuck!
"Oh, wow!" howled the Circus Boy.
The other members of the band, discovering that the drum was no longer marking time for them, got out of tune and came to a discordant stop.
The leader, whose side had been toward the drummer at the time, did not know what had happened. He was furious. He was about to upbraid them when he discovered the head of Teddy Tucker protruding from the head of the drum.
The bass drummer paid no attention to him. Instead he grabbed the offending boy by the feet, bracing his own feet against the rim of the instrument, and began to pull. The drummer was red in the face, perspiring and angry.
Teddy popped out like a pea from a pod. The Circus Boy was not yet out of his trouble. With unlooked-for strength the irate drummer threw the lad over his knees, face down, and raised the drumstick aloft.
This drumstick, as our readers well know, is made of heavy leather--that is the beating end is--and is hard. To add to the distress of the victim, Teddy was in his pink pajamas and they were thin.
The stick came down with more force than seemed necessary.
"Ouch! Stop it! I'll pay you back for keeps for that!"
"Oh, Phil!" Teddy was making desperate efforts to squirm away now, but his position was such that he was unable to bring his full strength to bear on the task.
The stick was raised for another blow, but there came an interruption that took all thought of continuing the punishment out of the mind of the angry drummer.
"Stop it! I don't want to be a drum!" howled the boy.
A pitcher of water was emptied over the drummer's head, a large part of the water running down and soaking Teddy to the skin, causing that young gentleman to howl lustily.
It gave the boy the opportunity he was looking for, however. With a quick twist he wrenched himself free from the grasp of the drummer, dropped on all fours and was up and away, a pink streak along the port side of the "Fat Marie."
Phil had come to the rescue of his companion. He now jerked the window shut and slammed the blind in place, after which he quickly got into his clothes, fully expecting that he should have a call from the bass drummer.
There was a great uproar on deck about that time, with much shouting and unintelligible language--at least unintelligible to Phil.
Before he had finished dressing, Teddy came skulking in, rubbing himself and muttering threats as to what he proposed to do to the drummer.
"You did it! You did!" he shouted, pointing a finger at Phil Forrest.
"It strikes me that you did something, too--"
"No I didn't. Something was done to me. I had on my pajamas, too," wailed the boy. "I'm glad you soaked him, though. Why didn't you throw the pitcher at him, too?"
"Oh, no, it might have hurt him, Teddy."
"Hurt him? Pshaw! Maybe the drumstick didn't hurt me. Oh, no!"
"Well, get dressed. I will go out and see if I can pour oil on the troubled waters. You stay here. I don't want you mixing it up with the drummer. I'll attend to him."
Phil first hunted up Mr. Sparling, whom he found shaving in his cabin.
"Why good morning, Phil. Why this early call?"
"I called to ask you what a new set of heads will cost for the bass drum?"
"I think they are worth about fifteen dollars. Why do you ask?"
"Because Teddy and myself have just smashed the heads out of the one belonging to the band."
Mr. Sparling paused in his shaving long enough to glance keenly at Phil. There was a twinkle in his eyes. He knew that his Circus Boys had been up to some mischief. Phil was as solemn as an owl.
"It was this way," explained the lad, as he related how the accident had occurred.
Mr. Sparling sat down and laughed.
"Never mind the drum heads. We have others for just such an emergency, I do not mind a little fun once in a while. We all have to blow off steam sometimes."
"No, sir; we shall pay for the drum heads. To whom does the drum belong?"
"The drummer, I think."
"Very well; thank you."
Phil hastily withdrew from the cabin and hurried back to his own stateroom.
"Teddy," he said, "I want seven-fifty from you."
"Seven dollars and a half, please."
Teddy began pawing over his trousers. All at once he paused, looking up at Phil suspiciously.
"You want to borrow seven-fifty, do you?"
"No, I want you to contribute it."
"To the fund."
"What fund? What are you talking about?"
"Those drum heads are worth fifteen dollars and we are going to pay the owner of the drum for the damage we did. I will give half and you half."
"What!" shrieked Teddy.
"Come, pay up!"
"What! Give that fellow money when he's taken more than twenty- five dollars worth out of my hide? I guess not! What kind of an easy mark do you think I am? Pay him yourself. You did it."
"Teddy, do you want me to give you a good thrashing, right here and now?"
"You can't do it. You never could," returned Teddy, belligerently.
"Come, hand out the money!"
Teddy eyed his companion for a full minute; then, thrusting a hand slowly into his own trousers' pocket, brought forth a goodly roll of bills from which he counted off eight dollars.
"Tell him to keep the change."
"I will, thank you," said Phil with a merry twinkle in his eyes.
"It's like taking candy out of the mouth of a babe. I'll get more than eight dollars' worth out of that bass--he's baser than he is bass. Bass sounds like a fish, doesn't it--out of that bass drummer when I get a good fair chance at him. Sometime when he isn't looking, you know. I wonder if he could be the fellow who stole my egg?" questioned Teddy reflectively.
Phil went out laughing, to make his peace with the drummer.