Dave Porter and His Rivals/Chapter 5
THE BOYS AND A BULL
"Wonder what Sam wants?" said Dave, as the shouting continued. "I guess I'll have to go and see."
He ran over the rocks in the direction of the cries, and soon came in sight of his chum.
"Hurry up!" cried Sam. "I want you!"
"What is it, Sam?" questioned Dave.
"We are going to have trouble."
"What, have Jasniff and those others come here?"
"No, but maybe it's just as bad, Dave. Just look toward the autos."
Dave did as requested, and his face became a study. He was half inclined to laugh, yet, having been brought up in the country, he well knew the seriousness of the situation.
The two automobiles stood side by side, about three yards apart. Between them was a big and angry-looking bull, tramping the ground and snorting viciously. The bull had a chain around his neck, and to the end of this was a small-sized tree stump, which the animal had evidently pulled from the ground in his endeavor to get away from his pasture. The tree stump had become entangled in the wheel of one of the automobiles, and the bull was giving vicious jerks, first one way and then another, causing the machine to "slew around" in an alarming fashion.
"Sam, we'll have to get him out of there!" cried Dave. "If we don't he may break that wheel or do worse."
"I'm afraid he'll run off with the car!" gasped Sam. He was almost out of breath from running and calling.
By this time the others were coming up. At the sight of the savage bull several of the girls commenced to scream.
"Oh, we'll be killed!"
"Can't somebody drive him away!"
"Look! look! He is dragging one machine into the other!"
"You girls had better keep back," warned Dave. "If he breaks loose he may come for you."
"Oh, Dave, do be careful!" cried Jessie.
"Yes, yes, don't go too close," added his sister.
"What do you suppose we can do?" questioned the senator's son, as the boys gathered in a group at a little distance, and the girls got behind them.
"If I had a hooked pole I'd soon fix him," answered Dave.
"How?" asked Phil, who knew little or nothing about bulls.
"See that ring in his nose? I'd hook him in that and then keep him at the end of the pole. That always brings 'em to terms."
"But we haven't got any hook," said Ben. "We might make one, though," he added.
A small hatchet had been brought along—with which to chop firewood—and securing this the boys quickly cut two slender but strong saplings, and trimmed them of their branches.
"There is a hook in our car," said Jessie. "If you could only get that!"
"Don't you try it," said Ben. "I've known a bull to leap into a wagon, and this one might leap right into the auto and wreck everything and hurt you in the bargain."
"I'll use a tree root for a hook," said Dave, and quickly found what he wanted, and bound it fast to one of the poles by means of a fishing line he happened to be carrying.
"Now, Ben, you stand by to prod him, if he gets too rambunctious," went on Dave, as he handed the second pole to his chum.
"All right," answered Ben. He, too, had been brought up on a farm, and knew a little about bulls.
The animal had quieted down for a moment, and was grazing on some grass between the automobiles. But, as the lads approached, he raised his head, pawed with his hoof, and gave a vicious snort.
"He means to fight, Dave!" cried Ben. "We've got to be on our guard."
"Oh, do be careful!" cried Belle. To her this beast of the farm looked more terrifying than those she had seen on the ranch.
With great caution Dave approached the bull from one side while Ben approached from the other. The animal snorted again, and lowered his horns. All the girls began to scream.
"Better be quiet," called out Dave. "You'll only excite him more."
"Oh, be careful!" answered Jessie, in a horrified whisper.
At that moment the bull backed up against one of the automobiles, and then moved forward again. This action released the tree stump, so that the beast was now free to go where he pleased. He started straight for Ben.
"Prod him!" yelled Dave, and Ben promptly did as requested, catching the bull in the mouth with his stick. Then, as the animal turned aside, Dave jumped closer, put out his stick, and caught the improvised hook in the nose ring.
"Good! you've got him!" shouted Phil. "Can we help you any?"
"I don't think so—keep quiet," was the reply.
The bull snorted wildly for a moment, and Dave had all he could do to keep the animal at the pole's length. But he knew how to twist the ring, and this speedily brought the beast to terms. The snorting ceased, and the bull stood still, glaring viciously at his captor, but not daring to attempt an attack.
"Come, gee haw!" cried Dave, presently; and with caution commenced to pull on the pole. Slowly the bull stepped after him, dragging the chain and stump behind him.
"What are you going to do with him?" called out Roger.
"Tangle him up in the bushes—if I can," was the answer, and Dave turned in the direction of the brushwood lining the watercourse.
At this point there were a good many sharp rocks and twisted roots of bushes and trees, and it was not long before the loose stump caught on them.
"Come on, we'll fasten him good and hard!" cried Phil, dashing up behind the bull, and as quickly as it could be done he and the others piled some loose rocks against the tree stump, so that it would be next to impossible for the bull to work it free.
"Now you can let him go, Dave," said Ben, who had stood guard with his pole. "We've got him as fast as he ever was." And then Dave let loose from the ring, much to the animal's relief, for he chanced to have a tender nose, and the twisting of the ring hurt him a good deal.
"Are you sure he won't get away and come for us?" questioned Laura, as all drew to a safe distance.
"He won't get away very soon," answered Ben. "But we ought to notify his owner of what we have done."
"Whose bull is it?" asked one of the girls.
"I give up—I never saw him before."
"I think the bull belongs to the Hook Stock Farm," said Dave, mentioning a farm located about a mile away. "I don't know of anybody else around here who would own a bull. When we go home we can stop at the farm and tell them of what has happened."
Leaving the animal quietly grazing among the bushes, the boys and girls walked over to the automobiles, to learn if any damage had been done. In his movements the bull had scratched some paint from the wheels and the mudguards, but that was all, for which they were thankful.
"Well, it's about time to start for home," said Dave, consulting his watch. "Remember, we are to go the long way around,—and stop at the Hook place in the bargain."
"I'm ready to go," answered Jessie. The presence of the bull still disturbed her.
Yet it was some little time before they started, for the things had to be packed, and several of the boys and girls wanted to get photographs of the picnic party. Then Dave cranked up, and Roger did the same. All piled in, and the start for home was begun.
"I'll wager that Nat Poole, Link Merwell, and Nick Jasniff are the maddest boys in this State," was Phil's comment, as the first car rolled on, with he and Dave on the front seat.
"I believe you, Phil," answered the driver of the machine. "And if Jasniff and Merwell really do go to Rockville Academy you can make up your mind that they will cause us all the trouble possible."
"I don't believe the better class of fellows at the military academy will take to those chaps."
"Neither do I. But there are some mean boys at that school—you remember them—and Merwell and Jasniff will flock with that bunch. Oh, they'll try their best to down us, you see if they don't!" declared Dave.
On the road beyond the picnic ground they came to a spot where some rocks and logs had been piled up and then taken away again. All gazed at the spot with interest.
"I guess Pete Barnaby did this—under directions from Nat Poole," said Ben.
"Yes, and Jed Sully made him, or the Poole crowd, clear it away again," answered Dave. "They'll not close this road as long as Sully is roadmaster."
"Be on your guard, Dave!" sang out Roger. "Those rascals will play some trick on us, if they can."
"I'm on the watch!" answered Dave.
As they bowled along all kept their eyes on the alert, and it was well that they did so, for at a turn they suddenly came upon some broken bottles thrown down just where the machines had to pass. Dave gave a yell of warning, and turned off the power and applied the brakes just in time, and, as before, Roger had to turn into the bushes, to avoid striking the turnout ahead.
"They thought they'd make us cut our tires," said Dave.
"Right you are," answered Phil. "Phew! If we had gone over that glass we might have had some nasty punctures or blow-outs."
"They ought to be arrested for this!" said Sam, wrathfully. "It's against the law to put glass on a public highway."
"We can't prove they did it," answered Ben. "If we accused them, of course they would deny it. But it shows their meanness."
The boys got out and picked up some of the glass, and swept the rest aside as well as they could. Then the machines were started up once more, and soon they came in sight of the Hook Stock Farm, and Dave beckoned to a man who stood near the gateway.
"Have you lost one of your bulls?" he asked.
"We sure have!" answered the man, quickly. "What do you know about him?"
"We know he tried to run off with our autos," returned Dave, with a grin, and then told the man the story, and described where the animal could be found. While he was speaking two other stock farm hands came up. They had been looking for the bull since early morning.
"He's a valuable beast," said one of the men. "I hope he ain't hurt none."
"He isn't hurt and we are mighty glad he didn't hurt us," said Phil.
"Oh, he won't hurt nobody if he's left alone," said the man.
"How can he hurt anybody, if he is left alone?" was Roger's dry query. But the man was too dull to see the joke.
From the stock farm hands, the boys found out which were the best roads to take, and then passed on again, up hill and down dale for a distance of six miles, when they came out on a broad and well-kept highway.
"Good! This is what I like!" cried Dave, and turned on the power until the touring car was moving along at a lively rate. Roger "hit her up," as he called it, also, and before long they had covered an additional ten miles. Then they had to go over a hill, beyond which lay the village of Lester.
"Let us stop at Lester for some ice-cream soda," whispered Phil to Dave, and the latter agreed.
At the foot of the hill there was a turn, and Dave slowed up to make this, and Roger did likewise. Then, as they passed a deep and muddy ditch, Dave gave a cry and came to a stop.
"Look there!" he called out, pointing down into the ditch.
All gazed to where he pointed. There, in the water and mud, rested the racing car belonging to Pete Barnaby. And standing in the mud up to his knees was the sporty man himself, looking the picture of woeful despair.