Chapter XVII. The Charge of the Paste Brigade
 

Phil's plans were formed instantly.

He ran to a place where he had seen a painter's sign earlier in the day. Reaching there he ordered the painter to send out to the Ward Building a gang of painters with their swinging platform, tackle and full equipment, telling the man briefly what was wanted of him after the apparatus reached the building in question.

"Now hurry it, and I'll double the price you ask if you get there and do the work I am asking of you."

The painter needed no further inducement. Once again money made its announcement in unmistakable tones.

Phil again started off on a run. Reaching the Ward Building he found his banner men and lithographers gathering. A few moments after his arrival the livery wagon with the paste, brushes and paper, came dashing up with Henry, the porter, standing guard over it. Teddy had thoughtfully turned out all the available men in the livery stable and came charging down the street, driving them before him, howling at every jump. That is, Teddy was howling; as he did whenever the occasion presented itself.

By this time quite a crowd had been attracted to the scene, not understanding what all the excitement was about. None of the rival posters had appeared as yet. Phil had got a very good start.

Telling off three of his banner men he sent them to the roof, while the painter was preparing to swing his scaffold.

"I am afraid I shall have to block your store for a short time, Mr. Storekeeper," said Phil, entering the store. "Our friend is going to try to take the place by storm, I think, and we shall have to stand him off."

"He had better not try it," growled the proprietor.

"He will, just the same. But, with your permission, he will not get upstairs to the roof while I am here."

"Do whatever you like. I've got his money, but it's here for him when he wants it."

Phil, having arranged with the proprietor, went out and gave his final instructions to his men.

"You are not to let a man through here unless with my permission," he said. "I am going up to the roof. If anything occurs, call me at once. Teddy, I leave the front of the store in your hands while I am away. There is trouble brewing. I feel it in my bones."

"Yes; trouble for the other fellow," grinned Teddy.

In a very short time the painters had succeeded in swinging their scaffold over the roof. An interested crowd was watching the proceeding from the street.

The banner men climbed down on the swinging platform, and, as if by magic, the Sparling banners began appearing on the big wall.

About this time shouting down in the street drew the attention of Phil Forrest. Stepping to the edge of the roof he looked down. A crowd was pressing his men back.

In the lead was the manager of the canary car.

"Drive them off!" roared Phil. "Don't let them get by you!"

"We will!" shrieked Teddy Tucker, now in his element.

Phil turned and hurried down the ladder to the upper floor, then took the stairs in a series of jumps until he had reached the ground floor.

Teddy Tucker had proved himself a real general. He had armed his forces with paste brushes, which he had first thoroughly soaked in the sticky paste pots.

Teddy was dancing up and down the line.

"Paste them, fellows!" he roared. "Paste them good and proper. We'll stick them to the walls when we get them properly daubed!"

With a yell the Sparling crowd began wielding the paste brushes. They wielded them effectively, too. Every sweep of the brushes found a human mark.

Shouts of rage followed the onslaught, above which could be heard the voice of the manager of the canary car, urging the crowd on to violence.

Phil came dashing out.

"Drive them back!" he shouted. "But be careful that you do not hurt anybody. Keep your heads, men!"

"Look out--the police are coming!" shouted a voice.

"Never mind the police! Give it to them!" cried the rival.

A squad of bluecoats came charging down the street.

"Steady, fellows! Don't do anything that will cause the police to take you in," cautioned Phil.

The crowd in front gave way as the police charged in; and, as they did so, the Circus Boy pushed his way to the front of his own line.

A sergeant made for him with upraised club, but Phil did not flinch.

"Wait a minute, officer!" he cautioned.

"I arrest you for disturbing the peace!" was the stern reply.

"You will do nothing of the sort, sir. We have not broken the peace. We are within our rights, protecting our own property and the property of this gentleman," pointing to the proprietor of the store.

"Arrest them! They are stealing my property!" came the cry from the rival manager.

"I guess you had better both come over to the police station, and we will let the captain settle this," decided the sergeant.

"Wait!" commanded the rival. "I have here an injunction commanding this fellow to stop work. I have bought the right to banner this location, and he has stepped in and taken it away from me."

"Is this right?" demanded the sergeant, appealing to the storekeeper, whom he knew well.

"No, it's all wrong. That man has bought nothing. He left his money on my counter after I had sold my wall to this young man here."

"Is this right?" repeated the sergeant turning to Phil.

"I am inclined to think it is. If that man has obtained an injunction, he has done so by false representation. Here is my contract, properly signed, giving us the right to put up our banners, and that is exactly what we are going to do in spite of all the police in the state. You can't stop us. You had better not try."

The sergeant glanced over the paper and scratched his head. He was at a loss what to do. At that moment a lieutenant came running up, demanding to know what the trouble was about.

The sergeant explained, handing the contract to his superior. After perusing it, the lieutenant passed the paper back to Phil.

"You can't stop this man as long as he is not disturbing the peace. That fellow's injunction is not worth the paper it is written on. This is a contract as plain as the nose on your face."

"That is the way it strikes me," answered Phil, with a pleasant smile.

"Disperse the crowd. Keep half a dozen men on duty here, and, if there is any further disturbance, lock them all up."

"Thank you," said Phil, edging near the lieutenant. "And, now that the matter is all settled, if you will call at the Sparling advance car this afternoon, at five o'clock, I shall be happy to furnish you with tickets for yourself and family. That is not a bribe, because we have got the matter all straightened out."

The lieutenant smiled.

"I'll do it," he said. "Five o'clock, you say?"

"Yes."

"Now, get out of here, the whole crowd of you. And you, young fellow," indicating the manager of the canary rival, "if you create any further disturbance in this town, you'll go to the cooler, and stay there. Do you understand?"

The rival manager tried to protest, but the lieutenant started for him.

"I want my money!" he shouted.

"Come and get it. I don't want your money."

"I told you that before," called the storekeeper.

"Go, get your money, and get out of here!" commanded the lieutenant.

Crestfallen and now thoroughly subdued, the manager of the canary car made his way through the crowd; his money was thrust into his hands; then, calling upon his men to follow him, he hurried away.

"There, I guess we won't hear any more from our canary bird friend today," decided Teddy, strutting about and throwing out his chest.

"Not today, perhaps," answered Phil Forrest; "but I am thinking we have not heard the last of him yet. We shall have to look pretty sharply, or he will get the best of us yet. This is a game that one person cannot expect to win at every day. Boys, you may go back to your lithographing now. The police will see that we are protected until we have finished bannering this building."

Phil walked off half a block to survey the work going on high up in the air.

"That location is worth five hundred dollars to any show," he mused. "And I got it for forty. Good job!"