Editor's Note: This is an ongoing series which runs each Thursday morning titled the Richland Chronicles, by author Paul Lintern. It is set in the 1860s and tells the story of Richland County through the eyes of young people. The books are available from Lintern for $25 a set, tax and shipping included. Each book is about 120 pages written for intermediate readers (4th grade) with local illustrations. Volume I is Amelia Changes Her Tune. Volume II is Isaac and Wolf Paw Find Their Home. Volume III is Autumn Keeps Her Secret. Volume IV is Mr. Gamble Starts a School. Volume V is Jacob Blows his Horn. Volume VI is Cassie Fights the War. Volume VII is Emilene Adopts Her Family.
“There is no getting around it. Those are good ballplayers,” Gopher said, as they came in following the Red Stockings’ last at bat.
“At least they only scored two this inning,” Birdlegs replied.
“I think they have a train to catch,” Bull added. “And they didn’t want to run up the score.”
“We did hold them to under 50,” Glue piped in.
The scorekeepers over there look tired.
“Let’s face it. There is not a player out there who isn’t better than every one of us,” Smokey said.
“And I thought we were pretty good,” Mo said.
“We are pretty good. You’re gonna see that when we face other teams — human teams,” Smokey said.
“What are these, machines?” Mo asked.
“I wonder,” Smokey pondered.
“Every one of them was hand-picked,” Ice Wagon said, as they all watched the team warming up in the ﬁeld for the last time.
“Remember, every one of them is getting $1,000 to play this summer. A thousand bucks!”
What would I do with a thousand dollars? That’s a lot of wintergreens.
“Hey, if they paid me $1,000, I’d be that good, too,” Spider said.
The bench erupted with laughter.
“I think it’s the other way around, Spider,” Bull replied.
“Get to be that good, and then you get the money.”
“You think the money thing will catch on?” Jacob asked.
“I don’t know, Kid. Maybe by the time you are shaving, every city will have a professional team.”
Jacob should have been insulted, but instead he just seemed thoughtful.
He’s wondering what he would do with $1,000, too.
Middle of the ninth inning: Cincinnati 48, Mansﬁeld, 13.
+ + +
Grace had noticed him ﬁrst, oﬀ to the right, closer to the plate, but under an umbrella, on a platform built for the occasion. Several others sat with him on the platform.
She had seen him several innings before, and kept stealing glances his way, throughout the game. He seemed to be enjoying the game, in between conversations with those around him.
Look at him sitting there, like he is a king or something, she thought.
Finally, about the ﬁfth inning, she had asked Papa about him.
“I ﬁgured he’d be here today,” Papa said. “He was one of the promoters of this game. He had signs up all over downtown, and even had a couple of wagons bring people out from downtown.”
It was when the ﬁddlers started in, the next inning, that Grace saw him notice her. His look confused her.
It looks like he’s enjoying it, then the next minute he is frowning. I hope we’re not in trouble.
Just now, though, Grace saw him leave the platform and start her way. She looked around to see if there were somewhere else he might be going, but no, it was straight toward the knoll.
“Papa, I think Mr. Wiler’s coming here” Grace said.
“That so? Well, he had better speak carefully.”
You, too, Papa.
“Hello Mr. Zimmerman.”
“Quite a nice day for a game. A good crowd, too.”
“Too bad the game is not turning out as we had hoped,” Papa said.
“Oh, that can hardly be helped. This team is a monster. A machine. They will give ﬁts to whatever team takes them on,” he said.
Mr. Wiler cleared his throat, and said, “I am very sorry to hear about your Inn. Mrs. Zimmerman’s father and I came to Richland about the same time, and we were competitors, but not really. I was working the town clientele and he the country travelers. We both liked being hospitable.”
“I know that once the trains started through the area, the Inn was on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, but I still liked to reminisce with Jacob, God rest his soul.”
Before anyone could respond, though, he turned to Martin.
“But you, Young Man, are the reason I came over here. I have a proposition.”
Martin stood up and faced Mr. Wiler, where before he was facing away; listening while trying to pay attention to the game.
“I want to give you the materials to rebuild your house. I understand you were remodeling the Inn as your newly wedded home.”
“Mr. Wiler, I couldn’t accept….”
“I said it was a proposition. I want to provide your building materials, if you will hire on in my hotel as assistant manager, with full salary as well, of course. The materials would be a, a signing bonus.”
“Mr. Wiler that is more than generous,” Marty said.
“Yes, it is,” Cassie added, standing up next to Martin.
“But I am afraid we cannot accept.
“You see, Mr. Wiler, there are certain policies in your hotel that we, our family, cannot abide.”
Mr. Wiler looked straight at Grace.
I suppose it’s my fault, again.
“I am aware of that, Mrs. Burns,” he said. “And I respect that. I recently had occasion to reconsider my policies, and found it timely to let go of my manager, Mr. McFarland. We no longer see eye to eye."
Mister ’ol Hands on Hips is gone?
“A wise man recently reminded me of why so many brave boys fought to defend our Union, and how today things are diﬀerent than they were before the War.”
That’s Mr. Tim!
“And how, if some things have not yet changed, it is time they did.”
I told him it was a good talk.
“You would be hired to see that those changes are made, to the beneﬁt of the community, and our hotel.
“Can you handle that, Son?”
“You will see this is a good decision, a good change,” Martin replied, and the men shook hands.
“Well now, let’s cheer on our team in its last at bat. I hope the ﬁddles have one more song in them.”
Maybe we should play “Taps.”