Left End Edwards
by Ralph Henry Barbour
LEFT END EDWARDS
[Illustration: The Forward Pass"]
LEFT END EDWARDS
RALPH HENRY BARBOUR
THE HALF-BACK, ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
CHARLES M. RELYEA
Made in the United States of America
COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
FATHERS AND SONS
CHAPTER II. OFF
CHAPTER IV. OUT
CHAPTER VII. THE
CHAPTER VIII. IN
THE RUBBING ROOM
CHAPTER IX. BACK
“CHEAP FOR CASH”
CHAPTER XIV. A
CHAPTER XVI. MR.
DALEY IS OUT
CHAPTER XVIII. B
PLUS AND D MINUS
CHAPTER XIX. THE
SECOND PUTS IT
BLOWS ARE STRUCK
FRIENDS FALL OUT
STEVE GETS A
THE DAY BEFORE
CHAPTER XXV. TOM
TO THE RESCUE
CHAPTER XXVI. AT
THE END OF THE
THE CHUMS READ A
LEFT END EDWARDS
CHAPTER I. FATHERS AND SONS
Dad, what does 'Mens sana in corpore sano' mean?
Mr. Edwards slightly lowered his Sunday paper and over the top of it
frowned abstractedly at the boy on the window-seat. Eh? he asked.
What was that?
'Mens sana in corpore sano,' sir.
Oh! Mr. Edwards blinked through his reading glasses and rustled
the paper. Finally, For a boy who has studied as much Latin as you
have, he said disapprovingly, the question is extraordinary, to say
the least. I'd advise you tohmfind your dictionary, Steve. And Mr.
Edwards again retired from sight.
Steve, cross-legged on the broad seat that filled the library bay, a
seat which commanded an uninterrupted view up and down the street,
smiled into the open pamphlet he held.
He doesn't know, he said to himself with a chuckle. It's
something about your mind and your body, though. Never mind. He idly
fluttered the leaves of the pamphlet and glanced out into the street to
see if any friends were in sight. But it was Sunday afternoon, and
rainy, and the wide, maple-bordered street, its neat artificial stone
sidewalks shimmering with moisture, was quite deserted. With a sigh
Steve went back to the pamphlet. It bore the inscription on the outer
cover: Brimfield Academy, and, below, in parenthesis, William
What does 'William Torrence Foundation' mean, dad? asked the boy.
Again Mr. Edwards lowered his paper, with a sigh. It means, as you
will discover for yourself if you will take the trouble to read the
catalogue, that a man named William Torrence gave the money to
establish the school. Now, for goodness sake, Steve, let me read in
peace for a minute!
Yes, sir. Thank you. Steve turned the pages, glanced again at the
View of Main Building from the Lawn and began to read. In 1878
William Torrence, Esq., of New York City, visited his native town of
Brimfield and interested the citizens in a plan to establish a school
on a large tract of land at the edge of the town which had been in the
Torrence family for many generations. Two years later the school was
built and, under the title of Torrence Seminary, began a successful
career which has lasted for thirty-two years. Under the principalship
of Dr. Andrew Morey, the institution increased rapidly in usefulness,
and in 1892 it was found necessary to add two wings to the original
structure at a cost of $34,000, also the gift of the founder. Dr.
Morey's connection with the school ended four years later, when the
services of the present head, Mr. Joshua Fernald, A.M., were secured.
The death of Mr. Torrence in 1897, after a long and honoured career,
removed the school's greatest friend and benefactor, but, by the terms
of his will, placed it beyond the reach of want for many years. With
new buildings and improvements made possible by the generous provisions
of the testament the school soon took its place amongst the foremost
institutions of its kind. In 1908 the charter name was changed to
Brimfield AcademyWilliam Torrence Foundation, the course was
lengthened from four years to six and the present era of well-deserved
prosperity was entered on. Brimfield Academy now has accommodations for
260 boys, its faculty consists of 19 members and its buildings number
8. Situated as it is
Steve yawned frankly, viewed again the somnolent street and idly
turned the pages. There were several pictures, but he had seen them all
many times and only the one labelled 'Varsity Athletic
FieldGymnasium Beyond claimed his interest for a moment. At last,
They've got a peach of an athletic field, dad, he observed
approvingly. I can see six goals, and that means three gridirons. And
there's a baseball field besides. The catalogue says that 'provision is
also made for tennis, boating and swimming,' but I don't see any tennis
courts in the picture.
All right, grunted his father from behind the paper.
I wonder, continued Steve musingly, where you get your boating
and swimming. It says that Long Island Sound is two and a half miles
distant. That's a long old ways to go for a swim, isn't it?
Mr. Edwards laid the paper across his knees and regarded the boy
severely. Steve, he said, about the only thing I've heard from you
since that catalogue arrived is the athletic field and the gymnasium.
I'd like to refresh your mind on one point, my son.
Yes, sir? said Steve without much eagerness.
I'd like to remind you that you are not going to Brimfield Academy
to play football or baseball, or to swim. You're going there to study
and learn! I don't propose to spend four hundred and fifty dollars a
year, besides a whole lot for extras, to have you taught how to kick a
football or make a home-hit. And
A home-run, sir, corrected Steve humbly.
Or whatever it is, then. I expect you to buckle down when you get
there and learn. Remember that you've got just two years in which to
prepare yourself for college. If you aren't ready then, you don't go.
That's flat, my boy, and I want you to understand it. So, if you have
any idea of football and tennis as yourerprincipal courses you want
to get it right out of your head. Now, for a change, suppose you have a
look at the studies in front of you, and don't let me hear anything
more about the gymnasium or thethe what-do-you-call-it field.
All right, sir. Steve obediently turned the pages back. Just the
same, he said to himself, he didn't know what 'mens sana in corpore
sano' meant any better than I did! Bet you he didn't kill
himself studying when he went to school! With a sigh he found
the Courses of Study and read: Form IV. Classical. Latin: Vergil's
Aeneid, IVXII, Cicero and Ovid at sight, Composition (5). Greek:
Xenophon's Hellenica, Selections, Iliad and Odyssey, Selections, Sight
Reading, Reviews, Composition (5). German (optional) (4). French:
Advanced Grammar and Composition, Le Siege de Paris, Le Barbier de
At that moment a shrill whistle sounded outside the library window
and Steve's eyes fled from the pamphlet to the grinning face of Tom
Hall set between two of the fence pickets. The Catalogue of Brimfield
Academy was tossed to the further end of the seat, and Steve, nodding
vigorously through the window, jumped to his feet.
I'm going for a walk with Tom, sir, he announced half-way to the
hall door. Mr. Edwards, smothering a sigh of relief, glanced at the
Very well, he said. Don't get your feet wet. Anderbe back
before it's dark.
Steve disappeared into the dim hallway and Mr. Edwards gave honest
expression to his sense of relief by elevating his feet to the seat of
a neighbouring chair, dropping the newspaper and, with a luxurious
sigh, composing himself for his Sunday afternoon nap. But peace was not
yet his, for a minute or two later Steve came hurrying in again. Mr.
Edwards opened his eyes with a frown.
Sorry, sir, said Steve, but Tom wants to see the catalogue.
His father nodded drowsily and Steve, securing the pamphlet, stole
out again with creaking Sunday shoes. Very quietly the front door went
shut and peace at last pervaded the house. In the library, Mr. Edwards,
dropping into slumber, was dimly conscious of a last disturbing
thought. It was that he was going to miss that boy of his a whole lot
after next week!
It's all right, declared Tom Hall as he took the catalogue from
Steve with eager fingers. At least, I'm pretty sure it is. He said at
dinner that he'd think it over, and when he says that it meansthat
it's all right. What do you say, eh?
Bully! That was what Steve said. And he said it not only
once but several times and with varying degrees of enthusiasm and
volume. And, as though fearing his chum would doubt his satisfaction,
he accompanied each Bully! with an emphatic thump on Tom's
back. Tom, choking and coughing, squirmed out of the way.
Here! Ho-ho-hold on, you silly chump! You don't have to kill a
Won't it be dandy! exclaimed Steve, beaming. We can room
You bet! And we can have a bully time on the train, too. Gee, I
never travelled as far as that alone!
I have! It's lots of fun! You eat your meals in a dining-car and
there's a smoking-room where you can sit and chin as late as you want
to and you get off at the stations and walk up and down the platform
and you tip the negro porters and
Wouldn't it be great if we both made the football team, Steve? Of
course, you'll make it anyway, and I might if I had a little luck.
Townsend said last year I didn't do so badly, you know, and if
Of course you'll make it! We both will; next year anyway. I'll bet
they've got lots of fellows on the team no better than you are, Tom.
Wait till I show you the athletic field. It's a corker! And Steve's
fingers turned the pages of the school catalogue eagerly. How's that?
he demanded at last in triumph.
They paused under a dripping tree while Tom viewed the picture,
Steve looking over his shoulder.
It's fine! sighed Tom at last. Gee, I hopeI hope he lets me!
Let's go over there now so you can show him this, suggested Steve.
But Tom shook his head wisely.
Not now, he said. He don't like to be disturbed Sunday
afternoons. Hehe sort of has a nap, you see.
Just like dad, replied Steve. Bet you when I get as old as that I
won't stick around the house and go to sleep. Say, Tom, what does 'Mens
sana in corpore sano' mean?
A sound mind in a sound body, replied Tom promptly. Why?
It's in here and I asked dad and he didn't know. Steve chuckled.
He made believe he was peevish with me, so's he wouldn't have to fess
up. Dad's foxy, all right!
Well, you ought to have known, Steve, said Tom severely.
Sure, agreed Steve untroubledly. That's what he said. Let's take
that a minute. I want to show you the picture of the campus.
Let's sit down somewhere and look it over, said Tom. I told
father that it was a school where they were terribly strict with the
fellows and you had to study awfully hard all the time. I wonder if it
I don't believe so, answered Steve. They say so much about
football and baseball and things like that you can tell they aren't
cranky about studying. And look at the pictures of the different teams
in here. There's the baseball nine, see? Pretty husky looking bunch,
aren't they? Andturn overthere you arethere's the football team.
Some of those chaps aren't any bigger than I am, or you, either. Good
looking uniforms, aren't they? Say, dad gave me a lecture on not
thinking I was going there to just play football. Fathers are awfully
You bet! I wonderI wonderwould you mind if we tore out a couple
of these pictures before he sees it? I'm afraid he might think there
was too much in it about athletics.
No, tear away! Here, I'll do it. We'll take the pictures of the
teams out. How about the athletic field? Better tear that out too, do
Well, maybe, just to be on the safe side, you know. Don't throw 'em
away, though. We might want to look at them again. Let's go over to the
library where we can talk, Steve.
CHAPTER II. OFF TO SCHOOL
Possibly you are wondering why two boys, each of whom was possessed
of a perfectly good home of his own, should select the Tannersville
Public Library as a place in which to converse. The answer is that
Steve's father and Tom's father were in the same line of trade,
wholesale lumber, and had a few years before fallen out over some
business matter. Since that time the two men had been at daggers drawn
during office hours and only coldly civil at other times. Steve was
forbidden to set foot in Tom's house and Tom was as strictly prohibited
from entering Steve's. Had the fathers had their way at the beginning
of the quarrel the boys would have ceased then and there to have
anything to do with each other. But they had been close friends ever
since primary school days and, while they reluctantly respected the
dictum as to visiting at each other's residences, they had firmly
refused to give up the friendship, and their fathers had finally been
forced to sanction what they could not prevent.
At the time this story opens, the quarrel between the two men, each
a prominent and well-to-do member of the community, still continued,
but its edge had been dulled by time. Both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Hall
took active parts in municipal affairs and so were forced to meet often
and to even serve together on various committees. They almost
invariably took opposite sides on every question, but they did not
allow their personal quarrel to interfere with their public duties.
The boys had at first found the condition of affairs very irksome,
but had eventually got used to it. It was hard not to be able to run in
and out of each other's houses as they had done when they had first
known each other, but there were plenty of opportunities to be together
away from home and they made the most of them and were well-nigh
inseparable. Mr. Edwards had declared, when announcing the fact in the
preceding spring, that Steve was to go to boarding school, that he was
sending the boy away to remove him from the questionable association of
Tom Hall. But Steve gave little credence to that statement, for he knew
that secretly his father thought very well of Tom. The real reason was
that Steve had not been making good progress at high school, owing
principally to the fact that he gave too much time to athletics and not
enough to study. Mr. Edwards concluded that at a boarding school Steve
would be under a stricter discipline and would profit by it. Steve's
mother had died many years before, and his father, while perfectly able
to command a large army of employees, was rather helpless when it came
to exercising a proper authority over one sixteen-year-old boy!
Naturally enough, Tom, when he had learned of his chum's impending
departure in the fall for boarding school, began a vigorous campaign to
secure parental permission to accompany him. Mrs. Hall had soon
yielded, but Mr. Hall had held out stubbornly until almost the last
moment. I guess, he had said more than once, you see enough of that
Edwards boy without going off to the same boarding school with him! If
you want to go to some other school I'll consider it, Tom, but I'm
blessed if I'll have you tagging after Steve Edwards the way you
propose! But in the end he, too, capitulated, though with ill-grace,
and for a week there were not two busier persons in all Tannersville
than Steve and Tom. Steve had taken time by the forelock and had
accumulated most of the necessary outfit, but Tom had to attend to all
his wants in six weekdays, and there was much scurrying around the
shops by the two lads, much hurry and worry and bustle in the Hall
mansion. You had to take with you such a lot of silly truck, you see!
Or, at least, that is the way Tom put it. The catalogue informed them
that they must provide their own sheets, pillow-cases, spreads, towels,
napkins and laundry bags, as well as take with them a knife, fork and
spoon each. Steve sarcastically wondered if the school gave them beds
to sleep in! The situation was further complicated by the eleventh-hour
discovery on the part of Mrs. Hall that Tom's clothing, while quite
good enough for Tannersville, would never do for Brimfield Academy, and
poor Tom had to be fitted to new suits of clothes and shoes and hats
and various other articles of apparel.
They were to leave early Monday morning, for in that way they could
reach Brimfield before dark. Both boys, who had set their hearts on a
night in a sleeping-car, with all its exciting possibilities, begged to
be allowed to make their start Monday evening, which would allow them
to arrive at school Tuesday forenoon in plenty of time. But neither
Steve's father nor Tom's would listen to the suggestion.
Then I'll get there a whole day before school opens, grumbled Tom,
and have to stay there all alone Monday night.
It won't hurt you a bit, replied Mr. Hall. And the catalogue says
that students will be received any time after Monday noon. I'm not
going to have you two reckless youngsters travelling around the country
together at night.
Tom, recognising the inevitable, said no more.
There was a somewhat awkward ten minutes at the station, for both
Mr. Edwards and Mr. Hall, the latter accompanied by his wife, went down
to see the boys off. The men nodded coldly to each other and then the
odd situation of two boys who were to travel together side by side
taking leave of their parents at opposite ends of the same car
developed. Tannersville is not a large town and those who were on the
platform that morning when the New York express pulled in understood
the dilemma and smiled over it. Steve and Tom were both rather relieved
when the good-byes were over and the train was pulling out of the
Blamed foolishness, muttered Steve as he met Tom where their bags
were piled on one of the seats.
Yes, don't they make you tired? agreed the other. Say, how much
did you get?
Steve thrust his fingers into a waistcoat pocket and drew out a
carefully folded and very crisp ten-dollar bill, and Tom whistled.
I only got seven, he said; five from father and two from mother.
I guess that will do, though. The only things we have to pay for are
dinner and getting across New York. Got your ticket safe?
Ensued then a breathless, panicky minute while Steve searched pocket
after pocket for the envelope which contained his transportation to
Brimfield, New York. The perspiration began to stand out on his
forehead, his eyes grew large and round and his gaze set, Tom fidgetted
mightily and persons in nearby seats, sensing the tragedy, grinned in
heartless amusement. Then, at last, the precious envelope came to light
from the depths of the very first pocket in which he had searched and,
with sighs of vast relief, the two boys subsided into the seat. By that
time Tannersville was left behind and the great adventure had begun!
There are lots of worse things in life than starting off to school
for the first time when you have someone with you to share your
pleasant anticipations and direful forebodings. It is an exciting
experience, I can tell you! The feeling of being cast on your own
resources is at once blissfully uplifting and breathtakingly fearsome.
Suppose they lost their way in New York? Suppose they were robbed of
their tickets or their pocket money? You were always hearing about
folks being robbed on trains, while, as for New York, why, every fellow
knew that it was simply a den of iniquity! Or suppose the train was
wrecked? It was Tom who supplied most of these direful contingencies
and Steve who carelesslyor so it seemeddisposed of them.
If we lost our way we'd ask a policeman, he said. And if anyone
pinched our money or our tickets we'd just telegraph home to the folks
and wait until we heard from them.
Where'd we wait? asked Tom with great interest.
They wouldn't let us in unless we had money, would they? Tom
objected. Maybe we could find the United States consul.
That's only when you're abroad, corrected Steve scathingly. There
aren't any United States consuls in the United States, you silly
I should think there ought to be, Tom replied uneasily. What time
do we get to New York?
Two thirty-five, if we're on time. We ought to be. This is a peach
of a train; one of the best on the road. Bet you she's making a mile a
minute right now.
Bet you she isn't!
Bet you she is! I'll ask the conductor.
That gentleman was approaching, and as they yielded their tickets to
be punched Steve put the question. The conductor leaned down and took a
glance at the flying landscape. About forty-five miles an hour, I
guess. That fast enough for you, boys?
Sure, replied Tom. But he said we were going a mile a minute.
No, we don't make better than fifty anywhere. You in a hurry, are
Only for dinner, laughed Steve. Where do we get dinner, sir?
There's a dining-car on now, was the reply. Or you can get out at
Phillipsburg at twelve-twenty-three and get something at the lunch
counter. We stop there five minutes.
Me for the dining-car, declared Steve when the conductor had moved
on. What time is it now, I wonder.
It was only a very few minutes after eight, the discovery of which
fact occasioned both surprise and dismay. Seems as though it ought to
be pretty nearly noon, doesn't it? asked Tom.
Yes. What time did you have breakfast? I had mine at half-past
Me too. Let's go through the train and see if we can find some
apples or popcorn or something.
The trainboy was discovered in a corner of the smoking-car and they
purchased apples, chocolate caramels and salted peanuts, as well as two
humorous weeklies, and found a seat in the car and settled down to
business. They were both frightfully hungry, since excitement had
prevented full justice to breakfasts. It was horribly smoky in that
car, but Steve declared that he liked it, and Tom, although his eyes
were soon smarting painfully, pretended that he did too.
I suppose we'll have to smoke at school, said Tom without
Steve considered the question a moment. I don't believe we will
unless we want to, he replied at last. We can say it's because we're
in training, you know. They don't allow you to smoke when you're trying
for the football team or anything like that.
Tom sighed his relief. It makes me horribly squirmy, he said. I
thought, though, that if all the fellows did it, you know, I'd better,
too. In all the stories about boarding schools I've ever read, the
fellows smoke on the sly and get found out. Don't see much fun in that,
though, do you?
No. Steve devoured the last of his apple and started on the
peanuts. I don't believe those stories very well, anyway. There's
always a goody-goody hero that gets suspected of something he didn't do
and knows who really did it all the time and won't tell. And then he
saves another fellow from drowning or something and it turns out that
it was that fellow who did it, you know, and he goes and fesses up to
the principal and the principal asks the hero's pardon in class and the
captain of the football team comes to him and begs him to play
quarter-back or something, which he does, and the school wins its big
game because the hero gets the ball and runs the length of the field
with it and scores a touchdown. I guess boarding school isn't really
very much like that, Tom. I guess there's a heap more hard work to it
than those fellows who write the stories tell you about. Anyway, we'll
soon find out.
Still, I guess some of those things do happen sometimes, said Tom
a trifle wistfully, unwilling to relinquish the story-book romance.
Fellows do get wrongly accused ofof things, and they do rescue other
fellows from drowningsometimes, and fellows do win football games.
I'd like to do that and be a hero!
Sure! So would I. Bet you, though, there won't be any of that kind
of stuff at Brimfield. I dare say we'll wish ourselves out of it long
before Christmas! If anyone wrongly accuses me of anything you can bet
I'll make a kick. You won't see me getting punished for what some other
fellow's done. That's all right in stories, but not for yours truly!
Not a bit of it, Tom!
CHAPTER III. STOP THIEF!
They descended on the dining-car at twelve o'clock promptly, being
unable to remain away any longer, and gave an excellent imitation of a
visitation of locusts performing their well-known devastating act. If
any two travellers by land or sea ever received their money's worth in
food it was Steve and Tom. They took the menu card and briskly demanded
everything in order, and when, having finished their dessert, they made
the discovery that a criminally careless waiter had deprived them of
pineapple sherbert, they immediately and indignantly saw to it that the
omission was corrected. Afterwards, groaning with happiness and
repletion, they dragged themselves back to their own car and subsided
on the seat in beatific silence.
An hour later they came out of their stupor to stare eagerly,
excitedly out at the indications of the approaching metropolis. Meadows
strung with enormous and glaring signboards gave place to towns and
presently there came a pause at a station where other trains whisked in
and out with amazing frequency. Then on again, and they were suddenly
dipping into a tunnel, conscious of an unpleasant pressure against
their eardrums. Tom's expression of bewildered alarm moved a
kind-hearted neighbour across the car aisle to lean over and explain
smilingly that the train was now running under the river, a piece of
information but little calculated to remove Tom's fears had he given
the slightest credence to it, which he didn't.
I guess, he muttered resentfully close to Steve's ear, he thinks
we're a couple of 'greenies' for fair! Going under a river!
And then, almost before Tom's indignation had given way again to
alarm, the tunnel was left behind and they were in New York at last, a
dimly-lighted, subterranean New York filled with hurrying crowds,
bustle, noise, confusion and importunate porters. Even though the two
boys emerged to the platform in a somewhat dazed condition, they had no
intention of wasting perfectly good pocket money having their bags
carried for them, and so started out to find the office of the baggage
transfer company quite bravely. For a minute they had only to follow
the hurrying throng of fellow-passengers, but soon this throng divided
and went separate ways and Steve and Tom, resting their arms by
depositing their hand luggage on the lower step of an apparently
interminable flight of broad stairs, looked about for someone to
question. But everyone seemed in a terrible hurry, and when, at last,
Steve ventured to put a query to a benevolent-looking elderly gentleman
who clutched a tightly-rolled umbrella in one hand and an afternoon
paper in the other, he almost had his head bitten off! In the end, they
proceeded up the stairway and at last came upon a returning porter who
gave them their direction. By the time they had reached the transfer
company's office they had walked so far that Tom wondered whether most
of the city was not contained inside the station!
Presently, though, he saw that it wasn't. For they found themselves
standing outside the terminal on a street that stretched, apparently,
for millions of miles in each direction! They had received detailed
advice from the man in the transfer company's office as to the best
method of reaching the Grand Central Station, and the directions had
sounded quite easy to follow. But now the feat didn't look so simple,
for the man had told them to take a car going in a certain direction
and there wasn't a car in sight! Moreover, when Tom came to look for
car-tracks there weren't any! He pointed out the fact to Steve, and
Steve, at first a bit dismayed, at last shrugged his shoulders and
observed his chum pityingly.
You don't suppose all the cars in this town run on tracks, do you?
What do they run on then?
Whyeryou wait and see!
That's all right, but it's almost three o'clock and our train goes
from the other station at a quarter-past, and
Well, we'll ask someone, said Steve. But, oddly enough, there was
no one to ask. For a town as large as New York that block of street was
strangely deserted. A team or two passed and an elderly woman crept by
on the opposite sidewalk, but no one came near them. Finally Steve
Looks to me as if we were on the wrong street. Maybe there are two
doors to this old station, Tom.
Of course there are! Let's walk down to that corner. There goes a
car now! And Tom, as though his future happiness depended on catching
that particular car, seized his bag and started down the street at a
run. Steve followed more leisurely, and when he reached the corner Tom
was talking to a policeman. It was all very simple. They had made the
mistake of leaving the terminal by a wrong exit and had emerged on to a
cross-town street. After that it was easy. A car lumbered up, the
policeman stopped it for them, they climbed aboard, were hurled half
the length of the aisle and fell into seats. A few minutes later they
transferred to a cross-town line without misadventure.
They certainly make you step lively in this town, panted Tom,
clutching a strap and narrowly avoiding a seat in the lap of a very
stout lady. Glad I don't have to live here!
Steve, however, whose eyes were darting hither and thither in a
desperate effort to lose none of the sights, was more favourably
disposed toward the city. Even when, owing to a blockade at one of the
street intersections, it became evident that they could not possibly
make the three-fifteen train to Brimfield, Steve refused to be
troubled. Maybe, he said, we'll have time to walk around a bit and
see something. Say we do it, anyway, Tom?
No, sir, this place is too blamed big! First thing we'd know we'd
be lost for fair and never would get to Brimfield. When I get to that
station I'm going to sit down and stay there!
When they did reach it the three-fifteen train had been gone nearly
ten minutes, and inquiry at a window labelled Information elicited
the announcement that the next train available for them would not leave
until three-fifty-eight, since Brimfield, it seemed, was not a
sufficiently important station to be served by all the trains.
That gives us half an hour, said Steve eagerly. Let's check our
bags somewhere and go out and look around.
Yes, and get lost! No, sir, not for mine!
Oh, don't be such a scarecrow! Come on!
But Tom was obdurate. You go if you want to, he said, but I'm
going to sit down right here and wait. You can leave your bag and I'll
look after it. Only, if you don't get back by a quarter to four I'm
going to the train, and I'll take your bag with me.
All right. I just want to go out front awhile. I'll be back in ten
minutes. You stay here. And keep your eye on the bags, Tom. I guess
there's a lot of sneak-thieves around here. And Steve looked about him
suspiciously, his glance finally falling on Tom's left-hand neighbour,
a youth of perhaps nineteen years upon whose good-looking face rested
an amused smile. Instantly, however, the paper he was holding was
raised to hide his face, and Steve frowned. The fellow was, thought
Steve, altogether too well-dressed and slick-looking to be honest, and
that smile disturbed him. He leaned down and whispered in Tom's ear:
Look out for the fellow next to you! I think he's a crook!
Tom turned an alarmed glance to his left and a disturbed one on
Steve. II guess, he said with elaborate carelessness, I'll sit
over there where it's lighter. Whereupon he gathered the bags up and
literally fled across the waiting-room, Steve at his heels. In his new
location, out of sight of the suspected youth, he said hoarsely: I
reckon he was a pickpocket, don't you?
You can't tell, responded Steve, shaking his head knowingly.
Anyway, you want to keep an eye on those bags every minute. I'll be
right back, though. Want to see my paper? And Steve handed an
Evening Sun, purchased on the car, to his chum and wound his way
through the throng toward the entrance.
Left to himself, Tom looked at the clock and saw that the hour was
three-thirty-two, glanced apprehensively about him in search of
possible malefactors, dragged the bags closer to his feet and unfolded
the paper. But he couldn't find much to interest him in it. Besides, he
had to look at the clock every few minutes, and whenever a man in a
uniform appeared with a megaphone and announced the impending departure
of a train Tom had heart disease, seized both bags and crouched ready
for instant flight until he was assured that the word Brimfield was
not among the list of stations enunciated through the trumpet. It was
after he had sunk back with a sigh of relief on finding that a train
for Pittsburgh, Chicago and the West was not his that he discovered
that an empty seat at his right had been occupied during his strained
interest in the announcer. Glancing around he saw that the occupant was
the well-dressed, good-looking youth who had been seated next to him
before. The youth seemed very interested in the paper he was reading,
his gaze being apparently fixed on a column headed Tiger's Football
Players Report, but Tom refused to be deceived. Only the fact that a
grey-coated station policeman was standing within hail kept him from a
second flight. Steve, he reflected nervously while he wound both feet
around the bags, would return in a minute or two and then they could go
to the train. Tom devoutly wished himself and the bags there now. Once
he was conscious of the fact that the youth beside him was glancing his
way, but he pretended not to be aware of it. Then his neighbour spoke.
Princeton ought to have a pretty good team this year, he observed
genially. Tom, his heart in his mouth, nodded.
Y-yes, he said.
Interested in football? went on the other. Tom dared a quick
glance at the smiling face and shook his head.
No, thank you. I meanyes, a little. He didn't want to talk
because he had read that confidence men always engaged their victims in
conversation before selling them counterfeit money or leading them to
gamble away their savings. Tom's eyes darted anxiously about in search
of Steve and he wondered how soon the smooth-voiced stranger would call
him by name or ask after the folks in Tannersville. He hadn't long to
It's a great game, pursued the other. Then, after a short pause:
Say, I've met you before, haven't I? Your face looks familiar.
No, answered Tom shortly, digging his feet convulsively against
the bulging sides of the bags on the floor.
My mistake, then. I thought perhaps you were from Tannersville,
Tom almost jumped, although he had been expecting some such remark.
It was, he reflected agitatedly, absolutely marvellous the way these
fellows learned things! In a moment the fellow would tell him his name!
The fellow didn't, though. He only said:
Tannersville is a fine town. Ever been there?
Tom shook his head energetically. Never! he fibbed.
Oh! The confidence-manfor Tom had fully decided that such he
wasseemed disappointed. But he wasn't discouraged. Which way are you
travelling? he asked.
Tom did a lot of thinking then in a fragment of a minute.
Philadelphia, he blurted.
Philadelphia! Why, say, you're in the wrong station. You ought to
go to the Pennsylvania Terminal. I guess you're a stranger here, eh?
Tell you what I'll do. You come with me and I'll put you on a car
that'll take you right there.
II've got to wait for a friend, muttered Tom desperately,
sending an appealing glance toward the policeman who had now begun to
saunter slowly away.
That so? Well The other got up with a glance at the clock and
reached down for his suit-case. Tom's gaze followed the direction of
that hand closely. It was, he thought, odd that a confidence-man should
carry a suit-case, but that might be only an attempt to avert
suspicion. The bag held the inscription A. L. M., Orange, N. J.
Probably the bag had been stolen. Tom fixed that inscription firmly in
his mind. I'll have to be going, said A. L. M. Sorry I can't be of
assistance to you, kid. I thought that maybe if you were going my way,
out to Brimfield, I could give you a hand with your bags.
Tom gasped! How did he know about Brimfield?
Thanks, he muttered. II'll get on all right. Standing there in
front of him A. L. M. looked very youthful to be such a deep-dyed
villain and Tom felt a bit sorry for him. But the villain was smiling
broadly and, as it seemed to Tom, a trifle mockingly.
Better keep a sharp lookout for crooks, advised the other. There
are lots of 'em about here. See that old chap over there with the
basket of fruit in his lap? The stranger moderated his voice and
leaned toward Tom. Tom, turning his head a trifle to follow the other's
gaze, felt one of the bags between his feet move and made a grab toward
it. But the stranger had not, apparently, touched it, unless with a
foot. That, he was saying, is Four-Fingered Phillips, one of the
cleverest confidence-men in New York. Well, so long!
The other moved away, walking nonchalantly past the station
policeman who had now wandered back to his post. Tom held his breath.
But the policeman, although he undoubtedly followed the youth with his
gaze for a moment, failed to act, and Tom was not a little relieved.
Even if the fellow was a crook he seemed an awfully decent sort and Tom
was glad he hadn't been arrested.
It was getting perilously near a quarter to four now and still Steve
had not returned. Tom watched the long hand crawl toward the figure IX,
saw it reach it and pass. He would, he decided then, give Steve another
five minutes. His gaze fell on Four-Fingered Phillips and he viewed
that gentleman perplexedly. He didn't look in the least like a
confidence-man. He appeared to be about sixty years of age, eminently
respectable and slightly infirm. He clutched a basket of fruit and an
ivory-headed cane and seemed quite oblivious to everything about him.
New York, reflected Tom, with something like a shudder, must be a
terribly wicked place! And then, while he was still striving to discern
signs of depravity under the gentle and kindly exterior of the elderly
confidence-man, a young woman, leading a little boy of some three or
four years of age and bearing many bundles, hurried up to
Four-Fingered Phillips, spoke, helped him to his feet and guided him
away toward the train-shed. Tom sighed. It was too much for him! Of
course he had read of female accomplices, but it didn't seem that a
four-year-old child could be a part of the game! For the first time he
wondered whether A. L. M., perhaps chagrined at his failure to decoy
Tom to some secret lair, had deceived him about Four-Fingered
Then it was ten minutes to four, good measure, and Tom, in a sudden
panic, seized his bags, gazed about him despairingly and made for the
train-shed. He had given Steve fair warning, he told himself, and now
he could just fend for himself. But his steps got slower and slower as
he approached the gate and when he reached it he set the bags down, got
his ticket out and waited. After all, it would be a pretty mean trick
to leave Steve. At least, he'd wait there until the last moment. The
minutes passed and the hands on the clock further along the barrier
crept nearer and nearer to the time set for the departure of the
Brimfield accommodation. Tom wondered when the next train after this
one would leave.
Going on this train, son? asked the gateman.
Yes, answered Tom, and took a step toward the gate. Then he
stopped and shook his head. No, I guess not, he muttered. When does
the next one go, sir?
Where to? asked the gateman, punching the ticket of a late
Four-twelve. The gate closed and the matter was irrevocably
settled. Tom took his bags and hurried back to the waiting-room and
found his place again. No Steve was in sight!
I'll give him ten minutes, said Tom savagely. Then I'll go.
Andand I won't come back the next time!
And then, just as the clock announced the hour Steve appeared, a
little flushed and breathless, but smiling broadly.
Gee, you ought to have been with me, Tom! he said excitedly.
There was a peach of a fire just around in the next street! Seven
engines and a hook-and-ladder and hundreds of hose-carts and one of
those water-towers! And most of the engines were automobiles, Tom! It
Maybe it was, replied Tom coldly. I'm going to Brimfield on the
four-twelve. What you going to do? Find another fire?
Why, no. When I saw I'd lost that other train I thought I might as
well wait and see the fire out. There's lots of time, anyway. We'll
have plenty of school before we get through with it, Tom.
That's all right, responded Tom bitterly, but you're way off if
you think it's any fun for me sitting around here and waiting for you
while you have a good time going to fires!
You said you didn't want to go
Well, what if I did? demanded Tom, working himself into a very
respectable fit of anger. I didn't want to go. But that's no
reason why you should leave me alone for the rest of the day toto
stave off robbers and thieves and confidence-men andand all!
Oh, well, come on, said Steve. We haven't done anything but lose
We've lost two trains!
And the man says there's another at twelve minutes after.
And we'll lose that if you stand here talking much longer,
declared Tom peevishly. Take up your bag and come along. There's only
six or seven minutes.
Where is it? Haven't you got it?
My bag, said Steve crossly.
Isn't it staring you in the face? asked Tom disgustedly,
indicating the suit-case against the seat. Are you blind?
That? That isn't mine. Where Steve looked at the bag in Tom's
hand and then around the floor. Where's mine?
What! Tom was gazing in stupefied amazement at the bag between
On the end appeared the legend: A. L. M., Orange, N. J.
CHAPTER IV. OUT FOR BRIMFIELD!
Just as the conductor, snapping his watch shut, waved his hand to
the engineer of the four-twelve two boys hurried down the platform and,
with the assistance of a negro porter, climbed to the last platform of
the moving train. From there, much out of breath, they entered the car,
pushed aside a curtain and sank on to the seats of the smoking
compartment. And as he did so each set a suit-case between his legs and
the front of the seat in a way that suggested that only over his dead
body could that bag be removed!
The first of the two, the one with his back to the engine, was a
nice-looking youth of fifteenalmost sixteen, to be quite
accuratewith a broad-shouldered, slim-hipped body that spoke of the
best of physical condition. He had a pair of light-brown eyes, a short
straight nose, a nice mouth and a rather sharp chin. His face was
tanned, and slightly freckled as well, and he was tall for his age. His
full name was Stephen Dana Edwards.
His companion was an inch shorter, a little heavier in build,
although quite as well-conditioned physically, and was lighter in
colouring. His hair was several shades less dark than his friend's,
although it, too, was brown, his eyes were grey and under the sunburn
his skin was quite fair. His full name was Thomas Perrin Hall.
Good, healthy, frank-looking youths both of them under normal
conditions, but at this present moment very far from appearing at their
best. Each face held an expression of gloom and resentment; on Mr.
Stephen Edwards' countenance sat what might well be termed a scowl.
And, after a minute, by which time the train had plunged into the
tunnel and the travellers had somewhat recovered their breaths, the
latter young gentleman gave voice to a remark which went well with his
I like the way you looked after it, he said with deep sarcasm. Mr.
Thomas Hall, returning the other's scowl, drummed with his heels on the
Why didn't you stay and look after it yourself? he asked angrily.
It isn't my fault that you went off chasing after fire-engines.
I didn't chase after fire-engines. You said you'd watch my bag
I did watch it!
Oh, yes, fine! Let someone pinch it right under your eyes! I notice
you managed to keep your own bag all right!
Oh, dry up! growled Tom.
Silence ensued until a conductor appeared and demanded tickets.
Yielding their transportation, the boys were informed that they were in
a parlour car and must pay twenty-five cents apiece to ride to
Brimfield. Tom laid hold of his bag with a sigh, but Steve
unemotionally produced a quarter and so Tom followed suit. When the
conductor had disappeared again through the curtain Steve said:
Why didn't they tell us this was a parlour car? How were we to
They just wanted our money, I suppose, replied Tom bitterly.
Everybody in this place is after your money. I wish I was home!
So do I, agreed Steve gloomily. More silence then, until,
I don't see how he ever did it, remarked Tom. I had both bags
between my feet. He was certainly slick. I suppose when he told me to
look at 'Four-Fingered Phillips' I sort of turned around and switched
my legs away from the bags. But he must have been mighty quick.
Of course he was quick, said Steve contemptuously. I warned you
against that fellow.
That's all right, but I'll bet he'd have played the same trick if
it had been you instead of me, replied Tom warmly.
I'll bet he wouldn't!
All right! Tom shrugged his shoulders and looked out the window.
They had the compartment to themselves, which, in view of the remarks
which were passed, was fortunate.
It isn't all right, though, pursued Steve. That bag had all my
things in it: pajamas, brushes and comb and collars and handkerchiefs
andand everything! I'd like to know what I'm going to sleep in!
I dare say we'll get our trunks to-night, said Tom soothingly. If
we don't you can have my pajamas.
What'll you wear? asked Steve more graciously.
Anything. I don't mind. I say, Steve, let's see what's in the bag
Would you? asked Steve doubtfully.
Why not? He's got yours, hasn't he?
Steve lifted the suit-case to the seat beside him and tried the
catch. It was not locked and opened readily. There wasn't a great deal
in it: a pair of lavender pajamas at which Steve sniffed sarcastically,
a travelling case fitted with inexpensive brushes and things and marked
A. L. M., a pair of slippers, a magazine, a soiled collar, one clean
handkerchief and a grey flannel cap with a red B sewed on the front
above the visor.
Wonder whose they are, mused Tom, as Steve spread the trousers of
the pajamas out and viewed them dubiously. They were several sizes two
large for Steve, but they might do if his trunk didn't come in time. I
suppose that fellow swiped this bag, found there wasn't anything
valuable in it and thought he'd swap it for another.
Maybe there was something valuable in it when he got it, said
Steve. He tossed the things back and closed it again. It's a pretty
good suit-case; better than mine. Do you suppose it would do any good
I don't suppose so. Besides, that cop said that he'd have them
search the pawnshops. If the police don't find it I guess an
advertisement wouldn't do any good, Steve.
Well, I suppose there's no use crying over spilled milk, replied
the other, setting the suit-case back in its place. After all I can
buy new things for five dollars or so and I guess father will send me
the money when I tell him about it.
Tom frowned thoughtfully. Finally, Say, Steve, if you won't tell
him how it happened I'll pay for what you lost myself.
II'd rather he didn't know, that's all.
Oh! Well, I won't tell him you had anything to do with it, Tom. You
didn't, either, he added after a moment. It wasn't your fault, Tom.
Itit would have happened to me just the same way, I'll bet.
You could just say that the bag was stolen, couldn't you? asked
Tom more cheerfully. I mean you needn't go into particulars, you know.
It doesn't really matter how it happened as long as it did
No, of course not. I'll just say it was stolen while we were
waiting for the train. I guess five dollars will be enough. Let's see.
Pajamas cost two and a half, brushes
You getting off at Brimfield, gentlemen? asked the porter, putting
his head through the curtains and waving a brush at them.
Yes. Are we there? asked Tom startledly.
Pretty near, sir. Want me to brush you off, sir?
I guess so. By the time that ceremony had been impressively
performed and two dimes had changed places from the boys' pockets to
the porter's, the train was slowing down for the station. A moment
later they had alighted and were looking about them.
The station was small and attractive, being of stone and almost
covered with vines, and beyond it, across the platform, several
carriages were receiving passengers. A man in a long and shabby coat
Carriage, boys? Going up to the school?
Yes, replied Steve. How much?
Twenty-five cents apiece. Any trunks?
Two. Can you take them up with us?
I'll have 'em up there in half an hour. Just you give me the
The checks, murmured Steve, a look of uneasiness coming to his
Haven't you got them? asked Tom anxiously.
Steve nodded. I've got them all right, he said grimly, but these
are the transfer company's checks. Wewe forgot to get new ones at the
Thunder! said Tom disgustedly. Now what'll we do?
I'll look after it, gentlemen, said the driver comfortingly. I'll
have the agent telegraph the numbers back and they'll send 'em right
along. It'll cost about half a dollar.
Will we get them to-night? asked Steve.
You might. I wouldn't like to promise, though. Anyway, they'll be
along first thing in the morning. Thank you, sir. Right this way to the
carriage. I'll look after the bags.
Not mine, you won't, replied Tom grimly, tightening his clasp on
it. I wouldn't trust the President of the United States with this bag.
Anyway, he added as he followed Steve and the driver across the
platform to a ricketty conveyance, not if he lived in New York!
By that time all the other carriages had rolled away, and while they
waited for their driver to arrange with the station agent about the
trunks they examined their surroundings. There wasn't much to see. The
station was at the end of a well-shaded street, and beyond, across the
right of way, the country seemed to begin. There were one or two houses
within sight, set back amidst trees, and at the summit of a low hill
the wheel of a windmill was clattering merrily. There were many hills
in sight, all prettily wooded, and, on the whole, Brimfield looked
attractive. They searched vainly for a glimpse of the school buildings,
and the driver, returning just then, explained in reply to their
inquiry, that the school was nearly a mile away.
You could have seen it from the train if you'd been looking, he
added. It's about a quarter of a mile from the track on the further
side there. Get-ap, Abe Lincoln!
Their way led down the straight and shaded street which presently
began to show houses on either side, houses set in small gardens still
aflame with autumn flowers and divided from the road by neat hedges or
vine-clad fences. Then there were a few stores clustering about the
intersection of the present street and one running at right angles with
it, and a post-office and a fire-house and a diminutive town hall. The
old horse turned to the right here and ambled westward.
You boys are sort of late, observed the driver conversationally.
Why, school doesn't begin until to-morrow, does it? asked Tom.
No. I meant you was late for to-day. About twenty boys came this
afternoon, most of 'em on the train before this one. There was Prouty
and Newhall and Miller and a lot of 'em. You're new boys, though, ain't
They acknowledged it and the driver nodded.
Thought I didn't remember your faces. I got a good memory for
faces, I have. Well, you're coming to a fine school, boys, a fine
school! I guess there ain't another like it in the country. I been
driving back and forth for nigh on twelve years and I know it pretty
well now. Know lots o' the boys, too. Nice fellers, they be. Always
have a good word for me. Generous, they be, too. Always handin' me a
tip and thinkin' nothing of it.
Steve nudged Tom with his elbow. That's fine, he said. You must
be pretty rich by now.
Rich? Me rich? The driver shook his head sorrowfully. No, sir,
there ain't much chance o' gettin' rich at this business, what with the
high cost of feed and all. No, gentlemen, I'm a poor man and I don't
never expect to be aught else. Get-ap, Abe Lincoln!
The village, or what there was of it, had been left behind now and
the road was winding slightly uphill through woodland. The sun was
slanting into their faces, casting long shadows. Now and then a gate
and the beginning of a well-kept driveway suggested houses set out of
sight on the wooded knolls about them. The carriage crossed the
railroad track and the driver pointed ahead of him with his whip.
There's the school, he said; and the boys craned forward to see.
Gee, but ain't it big! muttered Steve.
CHAPTER V. NUMBER 12 BILLINGS
The woods had given way to open fields, and they could follow with
their eyes the course of the road ahead as it turned to the left and
ran, almost parallel to the railroad, past where a pair of stone
gate-posts guarded the entrance to the Academy. From the gate a drive
went winding upward, hidden now and then by trees and shrubs, to where,
at the crest of a hill, a half-dozen buildings looked down upon them
with numberless windows.
That's Main Hall, said Tom, the big one in the centre. I remember
it in the catalogue.
And that's the gym at this end, added Steve. It's a pretty good
looking place, isn't it? What's the building where the tall chimney is,
Torrence. There's rooms upstairs and a dining-room on the first
floor. That chimney's from the kitchen at the back. Then the building
in the middle's Main Hall, as they call it. That was the original
building. I remember when there wasn't any others. The one to the left
of it's Hensey Hall. The fellows that lives there are called
'Chickens,' chuckled the man. Then there's Billings beyond Hensey,
and The Cottage, where Mr. Fernald lives, is just around the corner,
like. You can see the porch of it if you look.
But they couldn't, for at that moment the carriage turned to enter
the gate and their view was cut off by a group of yellowing beeches.
Presently the carriage stopped in front of a broad flight of stone
steps and the boys climbed out.
Fifty cents, gentlemen, said the driver as he lifted the bags out.
Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir! I'll have your trunks up first
thing in the morning. Just walk right in through the door and you'll
find the office on your right. They'll look after you there. Much
obliged, gentlemen. Any time you want a rig or anything you telephone
to Jimmy Hoskins. That's me. Good-night, gentlemen, and good luck to
Steve had contributed an extra quarter, which doubtless accounted
for Mr. Hoskins' extreme affability. Bags in hand they climbed the
well-worn granite steps and entered a dim, unlighted corridor. An open
door on the right revealed a room divided by a railing, in front of
which were a half-dozen wooden chairs and beyond which were two desks,
some filing cabinets, a book-case, a letter-press, some chairs and one
small, middle-aged man with a shining bald head which was raised
inquiringly as Steve led the way to the railing.
How do you do, boys, greeted the sole occupant of the office in a
thin, high voice. What are the names, please? As he spoke he took a
card from a pile in front of him and dipped a pen in the ink-well.
Stephen D. Edwards, sir.
Full name, please.
Very good. Place of residence?
A wonderful state, Pennsylvania. Parents' names, please.
Charles L. Edwards. My mother isn't living.
Tut, tut, tut! said the school secretary regretfully and
sympathetically. A great misfortune, Edwards. Now, you are entering by
Yes, sir, from the Tannersville High School.
And your age?
Fifteen; sixteen in
Fifteen will do, thank you. He drew out a drawer in a small
cabinet set at the left of the broad-topped desk and ran his fingers
over the indexed cards within it, finally extracting one and laying it
very exactly above the one on which he had been setting down the
information supplied by Steve. For a moment he silently compared the
two. Then he nodded with much satisfaction. Quite so, quite so, he
said. You will room in Billings Hall, Number 12, Edwards. You are
provided with linen and other articles required?
Yes, sir, but my trunk hasn't got here yet.
Quite so. One moment. He drew a telephone toward him, pressed a
button on a little black board set at one end of the desk, glanced at
the clock between the two broad windows and spoke into the transmitter:
Mrs. Calder? Edwards, 12 Billings, hasn't his trunk yet. Will you have
his room made up, please? Eh? Quite so! Yes, 12 Billings. Just a
moment. He turned to Steve. May I ask whether the young gentleman
with you is your room-mate, Hall?
And his trunk, too, is missing?
Quite so. Yes, Mrs. Calder, both beds, please. Thank you. He hung
up the receiver and pushed the instrument aside. That is all, Edwards.
I trust you will like the school. Should you want anything you may come
to me here or you will find your Hall Master, Mr. Daley, in Number 8
Billings. Now, if you please, Hall.
Tom, in turn, answered the little man's interrogations and at last
they were free to seek their room.
Billings is the last dormitory to your right as you leave this
building, said the secretary, and you will find Number 12 on the
second floor at the further end. Supper is served at six o'clock in the
dining-room in Wendell, which is the last building in the other
direction. As we have very few students with us yet, the supper hour is
shortened and it will greatly assist if you will be prompt.
The boys thanked him and sought their room. A broad flagstone walk
ran the length of the row of six buildings and along this they strode
past the first building, which was Hensey, to the one beyond. The
dormitories were uniform in material and style of architecture, each
being three stories in height, the first story of stone and the others
of red brick. The entrance was reached by a single stone step, above
which hung an electric light just beginning to glow wanly in the early
twilight. Inside, two slate steps led to the first floor level and here
a fireproof door divided the staircase well from the corridor. A flight
of stone stairs took them to the second floor. Rooms 11 to 20 was
inscribed on the door and Steve pushed it open and led the way down to
a very clean, well-lighted corridor to Number 12. There could be no
mistake about it, for the figures were very plainly printed on the
white door. Under the room number was a little metal frame which they
afterwards discovered was for the purpose of holding a card bearing the
names of the occupants. Steve pushed the door open and, followed by
There was still enough light from the one broad window to see by,
but Steve found a switch near the doorway and turned on the
electricity. It was a pretty forlorn looking place at first glance, but
doubtless the fact that the two beds were unmade, that the window-seat
was empty of cushions and that the two slim chiffoniers and the
desk-table were bare had a good deal to do with that first impression.
The boys set their bags down and looked about them rather dejectedly.
I suppose when we get our things around it'll look different,
Steve grunted and tried a bed. That feels pretty good, he said. I
hope Mrs. Thingamabob won't forget to make it. Which side do you want?
I don't care, replied Tom. There isn't any difference, I guess.
There didn't appear to be. The door was at the right as you entered,
and beside it was a good-sized closet. The room was about fifteen feet
long, from closet to window, by some twelve feet wide. A brown grass
rug filled most of the floor space. The wainscoting, of clean white
pine, ascended four feet and ended in a narrow ledge or shelf, devised,
as they afterwards discovered, to hold photographs or small pictures
which the rules prohibited them from placing on the walls. The walls
were painted a light buff. The furniture consisted of two single-width
beds, two chiffoniers, a study table and two straight-backed chairs.
The beds were against the opposite walls, the table in the geometrical
centre of the rug, the chiffoniers occupied a portion of the remaining
wall space on each side and the two chairs were set between beds and
bureaus. The window was in a slight bay and there was a six-foot seat
below it. The room was lighted by a two-lamp electrolier above the
table, but from one socket depended a green cord, suggesting that a
previous occupant had used a drop light.
I wonder, said Steve, where we are supposed to wash.
Let's look for the bathroom, suggested Tom. So they returned to
the silent corridor and presently discovered a commodious bath and
wash-room at the farther end. There were six set bowls and four tubs
there, and Tom thought it was pretty fine. Steve, however, was in a
mood to find fault and he objected to the bathroom on several different
counts. For one thing, it was too far away. Then, too, he didn't see
how twenty fellows were going to wash at six bowls. Tom, however,
promptly demonstrated how one fellow could do it by returning to Number
12 and bringing back his wash-cloth. In his absence Steve had been
experimenting with the liquid soap apparatus with which each bowl was
supplied, and by the time Tom got back was able to tell him why he
didn't approve of them! By the time they had both cleaned up it was
time to find the dining-hall, and so, leaving the light burning in
brazen disregard of a notice under the switch, they clattered
downstairs again and set off for the other end of the Row, as the line
of buildings was called.
Two or three boys were standing on the steps of Wendell when they
reached it and they were aware of their frankly curious gaze as they
passed them. The dining-hall wasn't hard to find, for its double doors
faced them as they entered the building. They left their caps on one of
the big racks outside and rather consciously stepped inside the
doorway. It was a huge room, seemingly occupying the entire first floor
of the building, and held what appeared to be hundreds of tables. Only
four of them were occupied now, two across the hall from the door and
two at one end. A boy of about seventeen or eighteen, wearing an apron
and carrying a tray of dishes, saw them, and, setting down his burden,
conducted them to one of the tables nearby. There were already five
boys at the board and they each and all stared silently while Steve and
Tom slid into their chairs. The newcomers surmised that they, too, were
new boys, for, unlike the fellows at the next table beyond, who were
laughing and chatting quite light-heartedly, they applied themselves
grimly and silently to their food and seemed to view each other with
Steve and Tom, striving against the embarrassment that held them,
conversed together in whispers. It's a whaling big room, said Steve.
Just like a hotel, isn't it? Wonder what we get to eat.
Bet you I'll eat it, whatever it is, replied Tom. I'm as hungry
as a bear!
They weren't left long in doubt, for a second waiter appeared very
promptly and set their repast before them. There was cold roast beef, a
baked potato apiece, toasted muffins, milk and cocoa, preserves and
cookies. By the time they were half through their supper most of the
others had finished and hurried away, removing much of the
embarrassment of the situation. Steve ventured to stretch his legs
comfortably under the table and turn his head to regard the occupants
of the tables at the far end of the hall.
I guess some of those are teachers, he said. Gee, but I'd like
some more meat. Would you ask for it?
I don't know. No one else did. These muffins are bully, only there
aren't enough of them. I wonder if we'll sit here regularly.
I don't suppose so. We'll probably be shoved to one of those tables
over there by the wall. What time do you suppose they have breakfast?
We'll have to ask someone, I guess. Didn't he say something about a
Yes, in Number 8. We'll stop and ask him when we go back. There
was a scraping of chairs at the end of the room and several older boys
and two or three men came down the room toward the door. Steve and Tom
turned to look and suddenly Tom seized his companion's arm.
It's him! he exclaimed.
Who? asked Steve.
Oranyway it looks lots like him, continued Tom breathlessly.
Who looks like what? demanded the other impatiently.
Why, the tall fellow just going out now! See him? Hehe looks just
like the fellow in the station, the fellow who took your bag! The
CHAPTER VI. CLUES!
The confidence-man? asked Steve incredulously. Oh, you run away
and play, Tom! What would he be doing here? Don't be a silly goat!
Well, I suppose it isn't he, butbut he certainly looked just like
Pshaw, I saw him too, didn't I? Well, that chap doesn't look
anything like him.
Then you didn't look at the fellow I meant, returned Tom doggedly.
II believe it was he, Steve!
Oh, sure, said Steve sarcastically, and the fellow behind him is
a famous second-story burglar and the man with the flannel trousers on,
who looks like a teacher, is a popular murderer. He escaped from Sing
Sing this morning. And the little man with the grey moustache
That's all right, replied Tom earnestly, but you'll find I'm
right. Itit was he, I tell you! There couldn't be two people as much
You'd better follow him then, laughed Steve, and ask him for my
suit-case. Tell him I want my pajamas, will you?
But Tom refused to treat the matter so lightly. He was evidently
quite convinced that he was really on the trail of the thief, and all
Steve's ridicule failed to move him from that conviction. He was too
anxious to begin the search for the confidence-man to do justice to
the rest of his supper, and when, at last, they were once more outside
the building he gazed up and down the Row eagerly and was disappointed
to find that neither his quarry nor anyone else was visible in the
half-darkness. As they passed Torrence Hall, however, an open window on
the first floor sent a flood of light across the walk, and Tom,
crossing the narrow strip of turf that divided building from pavement,
raised himself on his tiptoes and looked into the room. The next
instant a face appeared with disconcerting suddenness within a foot of
his own and the occupant of the room, who had been reclining on the
window-seat, enquiring abruptly:
Well, fresh, what do you want?
N-Nothing, thanks, stammered Tom, withdrawing quickly.
Keep your head out of my window then, was the indignant response,
or I'll come out there and teach you manners!
Tom hurried away into the friendly darkness and joined Steve, who
was chuckling audibly.
Did you find him, Tom?
No. And then, as Steve continued to be amused, Tom said with
spirit; I should think you'd be enough interested to help a fellow
instead of giggling like a silly goat!
Oh, I'm not a Sherlock Holmes, replied Steve airily. Detecting
isn't in my line.
I should think you'd want to get your bag back, though. I tell you
that was really the fellow, Steve. Don't you believe me?
You don't, though, said Tom bitterly. All right, then. You find
your own bag. I'm through.
Oh, don't say that! begged Steve. You were doing so nicely. Look,
there's a lighted window up there, Tom. If you get a ladder now
Aw, cut it! growled Tom.
Mr. Daley was in when they rapped at the door of Number 8, on the
first floor of Billings, and, accepting his invitation to enter, they
found themselves in a very cosy, lamp-lighted, nicely furnished study,
from which a smaller room, evidently a bedroom, opened. Mr. Horace
Daley was a young man with an embarrassed manner and a desire to appear
quite at ease. He shook hands heartily, stumbled through a few words of
welcome and arranged chairs for them. He asked a good many questions,
invariably remarking Fine! with deep enthusiasm after every answer
and smiled jovially at all times. But the boys saw that he was much
more embarrassed than they were and were secretly pleased and amused.
When at last the instructor had finished the usual questions and was
searching around in his mind for more, Steve began asking for
information. Breakfast, responded Mr. Daley, was at seven-thirty and
ran half an hour. Chapel was at eight-fifteen usually, although there
would be none to-morrow, as school did not officially begin until noon.
The first recitation hour was nine o'clock. Dinner ran from
twelve-thirty to one-thirty. Recitations began again at two and lasted
until half-past three. Supper was at six. Between seven and eight the
students were required to remain in their rooms and study, although on
permission of the House Master one could study in the library instead.
All lights were supposed to be out at ten-thirty. And Mr. Daley hoped
the boys would get on swimmingly and become very fond of Brimfield.
IahI want you to feel that I am ready and anxious to help you
at any time, fellows. Iahwant you to look on me asahas a big
brother and come to me in yourahperplexities and troubles, should
you have any, and of course there are bound to beahlittle worries
at first. One has to accustom oneself to anyahnew environment.
Don't hesitate to call on me for advice or assistance. Sometimes an
older headahyou see what I mean?
Steve replied that they did and thanked him and, with Tom crowding
at his heels, withdrew.
He's a funny dub, confided Steve, as they made their way up to the
next floor. Guess he must be new here. What does he teach, Tom?
Modern languages, I think the catalogue said. His first name is
Horace! Steve chuckled. It ought to be Percy. Hello, they've
fixed the beds up.
The room looked far more habitable when Steve had switched the light
on. Tom sighed luxuriously as he stretched himself out on one of the
beds. Bet you I'm going to do a tall line of sleeping to-night,
Steve, he said. This bed isn't half bad, either.
Well, don't put your feet all over the spread, replied Steve. Get
up out of that and unpack your bag, you lazy duffer.
I will in a minute. I'm tired. Say, what do you think of this
place, anyway, Steve?
The school? Oh, I guess it'll do. You can't tell much about it yet,
I suppose. I'm going to snoop around to-morrow after breakfast and see
the sights. I suppose things will be a lot different when the crowd
comes. I guess we're the only fellows in this dormitory to-night.
Scared? asked Tom, with a grin. Remember Horace is downstairs to
Huh! Bet you he'd crawl under the bed if he saw a burglar! I wonder
if the rest of the faculty is like him.
Oh, I dare say he's all right when you get to know him, said Tom,
with a yawn. Say, pull down that window, Steve. It's getting chilly in
Get up and move around and you won't feel chilly, replied Steve
unsympathetically. Gee, I wish I had my pajamas and things.
You might have had them by this time if you'd helped me look for
that fellow, said Tom. I'm just as certain as I am that I'm lying
here that the fellow we saw in the dining-hall was the fellow who
swiped your suit-case!
Oh, forget that, said Steve disgustedly. Common-sense ought to
tell you that a sneak thief you saw in New York wouldn't be having his
supper here at Brimfield!
He was, though, replied the other stubbornly.
Oh, run away! Don't you suppose there are two people who look alike
in this world?
Not as much alike as those two.
Why, you didn't even get a good look at the fellow in the
dining-hall. He had his back turned to you.
Not when I saw him first, he didn't, answered Tom with a vigorous
shake of his head. I saw his face before he turned at the doorway and
it was him!
You mean it was he, you ignoramus. All right, Tom, have your own
way about it. Only someone ought to warn the principal about him. Why,
he might run off with a couple of the buildings some night!
Enjoy yourself, murmured Tom. But you'll find I was right some
day, you old pig-headed chump!
When I do II'll make you a present, answered Steve, with a grin.
Any present you'd give me wouldn't cut much figure, I guess, said
the boy on the bed contemptuously.
Is that so? Say, what'll I do with this bag? Steve laid the
suit-case in question on his bed and threw open the lid. The pajamas
look clean, anyway, he continued as he viewed them. I suppose I'll
have to wear them. He drew the cap out and set it on his head. Wonder
what the B stands for, Tom.
What bee? asked Tom lazily.
The B on this cap, replied the other, studying it.
Tom suddenly sat up on the bed. Why, Brimfield, of course! he
exclaimed in triumph. There now! Was I right or wasn't I?
Shucks! It might stand for anything: Brown, Brooklyn, beans,
Yes, and Brimfield! And aren't the Brimfield colours
maroon-and-grey, and isn't that cap grey, and isn't that B maroon?
So is maroon, a brownish-red. Tom had deserted his bed and was
turning the cap about eagerly. This belongs to some fellow here who
has won his letter, Steve, he said with deep conviction.
Some fellow who has lost his letter, you mean, replied
Steve with a laugh. All right; it will save me from buying a cap when
I make the football team. How does it look on me?
It's too big, said Tom. It's about a seven, I guess. That's what
that fellow would wear, I think. Tom frowned thoughtfully. Are there
any more clues? he asked, dropping the cap and seizing the pajamas
Sure! There are brushes in the case and they mean that the fellow
has hair on his head, Tom. So there's no use looking for a bald-headed
man, eh? That's what they call 'the process of elimination,' isn't it?
Say, what are you trying to do with those things? Ruin them? Please
remember that I've got to wear them to-night.
Looking for laundry marks, replied Tom. But there aren't any. I
guess they're new ones. He dropped the pajamas regretfully and turned
his attention to the other objects in the bag. A magazine, he
'Fine'!as Horace would say. The man can read. Therefore he is not
blind. Elimination again! At this rate we'll know all about him in a
minute, Tom. Gee, but you're a wise guy. Have a look at the collar and
tell me the fellow's name. Go on!
It begins with an M, anyway, muttered Tom, studying the object in
Ha! exclaimed Steve melodramatically. The net is closing! He has
hair on his head, is not blind, wears purple pajamas and spells his
name with an M! The rest is easy, Tom. Put your hat on and we'll go out
and get him.
Oh, shut up, you silly goat! Tom had the magazine in his hands
again and was glancing through it. Suddenly, with an exclamation, he
thrust it into Steve's hands. There! Hold it up and let it fall open
All right. What about it?
Look where it opened!
Yes, but what's there?
'Men Who Have Made Football History, by'
There you are! Don't you see! That's what he was reading. He's a
football man and that B is his football letter!
Oh! But, say, Tom, you're forgetting that this suit-case is
supposed to have been stolen from someone else. Then what?
We don't know that it was. We just thought so. It looks now as if
it really belonged to the fellow.
And he went and swapped it for mine? What would he do that for?
Maybe he thought yours might have something valuable in it,
faltered Tom. Maybesay, Steve, perhaps he got yours by mistake!
Sure! replied the other sarcastically. Reached down and dragged
it from under your feet, thinking all the while it was his. Sounds very
probableI don't think!
Well, you can see for yourself
What was that? interrupted Steve.
What was what?
I thought I heard a knock at the door. They listened. It sounded
again. Steve hustled the things back into the bag and slammed the lid
shut in a twinkling. Then, Come in! he called.
The door opened and a tall youth stepped inside. He carried a
suit-case in one hand. Tom gasped. It was the confidence-man!
CHAPTER VII. THE CONFIDENCE-MAN
Hi, greeted the visitor, with a smile, as he slid the suit-case
across the floor and faced the two boys. Want to swap bags?
Thatthat's mine! exploded Steve. Where'd you get it?
The visitor pulled a chair out from the wall and seated himself
nonchalantly. And that, he responded, nodding at the bag on the bed,
is mine. I didn't think the pajamas would fit you and I was mighty
sure yours wouldn't fit me. So I dropped around to make an exchange.
You're the fellow in the station! exclaimed Tom accusingly.
Right-o! I'm the 'sneak-thief.'
I knew it! declared Tom triumphantly. I saw you in the
dining-hall and told Steve it was you and he wouldn't believe it!
Wouldn't he? laughed the visitor.
I suppose it's some sort of a silly joke, said Steve bewilderedly.
Would you mind telling me why youwhy you took my bag?
Glad to, Edwards. You are Edwards, aren't you? I thought so.
And this chap's Hall? Well, my name's Miller. So now we know each
other. Would you mind sitting down, you fellows?
Steve sank on to the bed and Tom retreated to the unoccupied chair,
from where he viewed Miller with fascinated attention.
It was this way, you fellows, explained Miller. I may be a bit
thin-skinned, but I don't like being called a sneak-thief. Edwards here
told you, Hall, to look after your bags because there were
sneak-thieves around. And then he looked at me very impolitely. After
he went away I saw that you really did suspect me of being something of
the sort and it occurred to me that it might be amusing to teach you
chaps not to pass compliments.
I didn't mean you to hear me, said Steve confusedly.
I couldn't help it, as you spoke right out, replied Miller drily.
Well, so when Hall changed his seat I went along and tried to talk to
him. But he was foxy, Hall was. He wasn't going to be fooled! When it
got to be train time I spun him a yarn about a harmless old man across
the room and got him to look at him. Then I changed the bags. I thought
you fellows would take the same train and I meant to give you back your
bag then. But you weren't on it and so I suppose you were looking
around the station for me. Was that it?
I didn't get back in time, said Steve. We didn't find out about
the bags until the train had gone. Then we did look around, and we told
a policeman, and
Miller put his head back and laughed delightedly. Bully! he cried.
You chaps are wonders!
Well, what would you have done? asked Tom indignantly. How were
we to know that it was a joke?
Oh, I'd have done the same thing, of course, answered the other
soothingly. Only the idea of the New York police department being on
the lookout for me struck me as a bit humorous.
Tom says you asked him about Tannersville, said Steve. How did
you know he was from there?
Not difficult, chuckled Miller. It's on the end of his bag. And I
knew he was coming to Brimfield because there was a tag on the handle.
I couldn't make out your names, but I could see 'Brimfield, N. Y.' all
Steve and Tom smiled foolishly. I never thought of that, murmured
Tom. Wewe thought you were a confidence-man!
So I thought you thought, laughed Miller. Well, here's your
property, Edwards. I dare say it was rather a mean joke to play on you,
but you sort of invited it, you see.
I don't care now that I've got it back, responded Steve
philosophically. Tom was certain you were the fellow who took my bag
when he saw you in dining-hall and he was all heated up about it.
Wanted to arrest you at once, I guess.
Well, I was right, though, wasn't I? demanded Tom. You said it
couldn't be the same chap. But I knew!
Yes, you're some sleuth, agreed Steve. You were right and I was
wrong, as you always are.
How about that present you were to give me? inquired Tom.
You'll get it, all right; just before Christmas. Then, to Miller:
WeI had your things out of your bag, he said apologetically. I
thought I'd have to wear those pajamas.
They'd have been a bit large, I guess, laughed Miller. Still,
they are brand-clean and you could have wrapped them around you a few
times and turned them up at the feet and hands. Well, how have you
chaps found everything? All right?
Yes, thanks, said Steve. We forgot to check our trunks at the
Grand Central Station, though, and so we're sort of hard-up for things
Too bad. Miller smiled. I guess you chaps haven't travelled
around much, eh?
Not much. This is the first time we've ever been so far east.
Well, I don't blame you for getting a bit confused in New York.
It's a tough old place to get around in unless you know the ropes. If
you need collars or anything maybe I can help you out. I suppose,
though, mine wouldn't fit.
We'll get on all right, thanks, replied Steve. Our trunks will
surely be along in the morning. The man who drove us up here had the
agent telegraph back for them and said he'd fetch them as soon as they
Jimmy Horse? He will if he doesn't forget.
This fellow said his name was Hoskins, I think, said Tom.
Yes, we call him Jimmy Horse. He will probably be along with them
before noon. Just depends on whether he remembers them and how busy he
is. Still, not many fellows get here before the eleven o'clock train
and so he ought to find time to bring the trunks. If he doesn't show up
soon after breakfast you'd better telephone to him. The booth's in Main
Hall, around the corner from the office. I suppose you saw old 'Quite
Who? asked Steve.
Mr. Brooke, the secretary. We call him 'Quite So' because he's
always saying that. Didn't you notice?
I did, said Tom. I thought maybe he was Mr. Fernald, though.
No, you won't see Josh much. He lives around the corner there in
The Cottage. You'll be lucky if you don't see him, too. When you call
on Josh it's usually because you've been and gone and done something.
He will be at Faculty Reception to-morrow evening, though. That's in
Upper Hall at eight o'clock. Better go, fellows; everyone does. Have
you met your Hall Master, Mr. Daley?
Yes, we stopped in at his room after supper, answered Steve. Is
he He hesitated.
Miller laughed. Go on and say it, Edwards! Is he what?
I was going to ask if he was liked.
Oh, yes, Daley's all right. Rather shy, but he's young yet. This is
only his second year. You'll like him better when you've known him
awhile. What form are you fellows in?
Fourth. At least, we hope we are.
Oh, you'll make it. They'll put you in, anyway, and then drop you
back if you don't keep up. That's a pleasant little trick of theirs
here. You'll have Daley in French and German. Take my advice and don't
have fun with him just because you can. Most of the new fellows try to
make life a burden to him because he gets kind of rattled and tries to
swallow his tongue when he talks. But they're generally sorry for it
later. He stands about so much and thenbing! Off you go to Josh! And
here's another tip, fellows. Always be dead serious with 'Uncle Sim.'
That's Mr. Simkins, Greek instructor. If you can look as if you'd lost
all your friends and bitten your tongue you'll make a big hit with him.
He doesn't know a joke even when it's labelled and can't stand any
flippancy. I made a pun in class once; I've forgotten what it was, but
it was a bright and scintillant little effort; and Uncle Sim told me
I'd end on the gallows. He's never forgotten that and still views me
with deep suspicion.
We will try to remember, laughed Steve. I suppose you are in the
Yes, this is my last year here. I ought to have been out last year,
but I slipped a cog when I first came and got dropped a form. You see,
I made the mistake of thinking that the principal branches were
Football, Baseball and Hockey. When I'd woke up to the fact that a
little attention to mathematics and languages and such foolishness was
required it was too late, andplop!sound of falling!
Steve recalled a similar warning of his father's and silently made
up his mind then and there to not make Miller's mistake.
Do you play football? asked Tom. I mean, are you on the team?
Yes, II'm on the team. Miller's smile had an odd quality that
puzzled Tom at the moment. You chaps know the game?
Steve has played more than I have, replied Tom. He was on our
high school team at left end last year. He's pretty good, Steve is. I
didn't make the 'Varsity, but I played a couple of years with the
Tom plays a good game, said Steve. I suppose it's pretty hard to
get on the team here.
About the same as anywhere, answered Miller. If you show the
goods you're all right. He viewed Steve speculatively and then turned
an appraising gaze on Tom. You chaps look pretty fit for this time of
year. What do you weigh, Edwards?
[Illustration: Steve slipped on the tiling and fell sidewise into
About a hundred and thirty-eight.
You look solid, too, said Miller approvingly. You chaps show up
in togs day after to-morrow at four. Look me up and I'll see that you
get a good chance to show what you can do. Where have you played,
At tackle, mostly. I played half a little last fall.
You look rather likely, I think. Don't be disappointed if you don't
make the first or second this year, fellows. Keep going. There's your
hall team. Try for that. You'll get lots of good fun and experience. I
tell you this not to discourage you but because we've kept a lot of
last year's fellows and it's going to be harder than usual to break
into the first team, I guess. And that means that a good many of the
second team fellows will be disappointed and will have to stay where
they are. Hard on them, but lucky for the school. I don't know whether
you chaps understand the football situation with us?
I don't believe so, replied Steve.
Well, it's like this. When I came here four years ago there wasn't
any team. Before that, five or six years before, they'd played, but
about that time football got into disfavour and the faculty stopped it.
I believe they allowed the hall teams to play, but that didn't last
long. My second year here they lifted the ban and we started a team. Of
course it didn't amount to much that first year and we got licked right
and left. The next year, though, we did a good deal better, and last
year we turned out a mighty good team. We lost only two games out of
nine and tied one. Unfortunately, though, one of the games we lost was
the game with Claflin, which is our big game of the year. Claflin has
beaten us three years running now and this year we're out for revenge
with a rolling R. Considering that we've played only three seasons,
we've got a pretty good start. Our coach is a dandy, a chap named
Robey; played with Brown the year they downed Pennsy; and he's been
building up this year's team ever since he started in. At first we
didn't have more than forty candidates to choose from. Last year about
sixty fellows turned out and this fall I guess we'll have nearer
eighty. Robey started the hall teams up again year before last and that
helped a lot. The best of the hall team chaps went into the second last
year, and now, this year, we've got fellows with three years'
experience behind them. So, you see, Edwards, we haven't got much
football history at Brimfield and our system is still pretty new, but
we're getting on! And this fall if we don't lick Claflinwell, if we
don't, I'll have missed my guess.
Miller's lean, good-looking face had lighted up with enthusiasm
during his recital, and, when he had ended, as though impatient to
begin the campaign which was to end in the rout of the enemy, he got up
and took a turn the length of the room. He didn't look the least bit in
the world like a confidence-man to-night and the two boys marvelled at
their earlier suspicions. Miller was tall, lean with the leanness of
muscles unhampered by useless flesh, and lithe. He had very clear brown
eyes, a straight nose and high cheek bones that somehow reminded Steve
of the engraved portrait of John C. Calhoun that hung in the library at
home. Altogether, from the top of his well-shaped head to the soles of
his rubber-shod feet, he was good to look at, clean-cut, well-groomed,
healthy and very much alive. Steve found himself wishing that some day
he might find himself playing shoulder to shoulder with Miller. He
hated to think what would happen to the enemy in such a case!
Miller paused at the table, thrust his hands into his pockets and
smiled a trifle apologetically. Well, that's the way it is, you
chaps, he went on. So, whether you make the first or the second or
neither, you keep on playing and trying. There's another year coming
for you fellows; two of them, in fact. Keep that in mind, and if you
don't get what you want this year keep plugging. And don't fail to come
out Wednesday and do your best. You'll get a fair show and if you can
play the game well enough you'll get places. Now I must run along with
my bag. I'm glad to have met you chaps. If I can help you in any way
don't fail to call on me. You'll find me in 7 Hensey. Come and see me
anyway. Miller's the name. And, by the way, I'm glad you chaps took my
little joke so decently and didn't get waxy about it. If you had, I'd
probably have told it around and you'd have got a lot of joshing. As it
is, no one knows it and no one will. Good-night.
And Miller, his suit-case in hand, smiled, nodded and went out. They
could hear him whistling merrily until the landing door had closed
I meant to ask him what position he played, said Steve
regretfully. I'll bet he's a corker, though!
I'll bet you he is, agreed Tom warmly.
And he seemed a rattling good sort, too, didn't he?
Yes. And I'm glad I lost my bag. If I hadn't we mightn't have known
him, seeing that he's a Sixth Form fellow.
I guess he's sort of prominent, mused Tom. He gives you the idea
of being someone, doesn't he?
Oh, he's someone, all right! Do you think he really wants us to
call on him, Tom? Oror was he just being polite?
Both, I guess. I don't suppose we'd better call unless he asks us
again. We don't want to act fresh, you know. Besides, and Tom smiled
mischievously, I'm not sure we ought to associate with him.
Why not? asked Steve incredulously.
Well, seeing that he's a confidence-man
CHAPTER VIII. IN THE RUBBING ROOM
After breakfast the next morning, a breakfast eaten with excellent
appetites, the two boys set out on a sightseeing tour about the school.
They went first to the gymnasium. The big front door was locked, but
Steve was not to be denied and eventually gained entrance through a
little door at the rear which led into the boiler-room and from there
found their way into the main basement where were situated the big
swimming tank, a commodious baseball cage and a bowling alley. On the
floor above they found themselves in a square hall, entered from the
front door, from which other doors led to the gymnasium, the locker and
bathrooms and a small office bearing the sign Physical Director. From
the hall a fireproof stairway ascended with a turn to the running-track
and a large room which was evidently used as a meeting hall. Settees
were neatly arranged in front of a platform, a row of low windows
admitted a flood of morning sunshine and against the walls hung many
photographs of athletic teams. Most of them showed groups of track and
field men, although a few were of hockey sevens and there were three
football teams in evidence. The explorers paid more attention to these
photographs than the others, and Steve, whose patriotism was already
strong, read the inscriptions on the lower margins with disfavour.
Huh! he grumbled. 'Brimfield 0; Claflin 12'; 'Brimfield 3;
Claflin 11'; 'Brimfield 6; Claflin 9.' Bet you next time it'll be some
Rather! said Tom stoutly. Let's go on down and see the gym.
They tried the chest-weights and tested the bars and experimented
with about everything they found down there, and then went into the
adjoining compartment and peered into the shower-baths and passed on
the merits of the steel lockers.
The fellow who built this gym knew what he was doing, declared
Steve approvingly. Some of these lockers have got things in them, he
continued, peeping into one. There's a bat in here, and a towel and
Tom had wandered through a doorway at the end of the locker
compartment and now summoned Steve to join him. There was a high table
in the centre of the small room and a set of metal shelves alongside
which held numerous bottles and boxes. It's the rubbing room, said
Steve. Here, get busy, Tom! And he hoisted himself to the table and
stretched out on his back.
Yes, sir, said Tom. Where's it hurt you? This the spot?
And Tom began such an enthusiastic manipulation of Steve's ribs that
the latter set up a howl and precipitately tumbled off the table. It
was at that moment that an unpleasant voice startled them.
Beat it, you fresh kids! You've got no business in here!
The speaker was a heavy-set youth of perhaps nineteen years of age.
He had closely-cropped ashy-brown hair over a round face from which a
pair of pale-blue eyes glowered upon them. He was standing in the
doorway and his hands were thrust into the pockets of a pair of very
wide-hipped knickerbockers. Somehow, standing there with his sturdy,
golf-stockinged legs well apart and his loose trousers pulled out at
the sides, he reminded Tom of a clown at a circus, and Tom made the
mistake of grinning. The big youth caught sight of the grin and stepped
into the rubbing room with a deepening scowl on his face.
Wipe it off! he said threateningly.
Steve and Tom looked at the table.
Wipe what off? asked Tom, at a loss.
Wipe that grin off your ugly face, answered the other. And get
out of here, both of you, and stay out. If you don't, I'll throw you
This somewhat astounding threat caused an exchange of surprised
glances between the culprits. Neither Steve nor Tom were quarrelsome,
nor had they had more than a boy's usual share of fist battles, but the
bullying speech and attitude of the round-faced youth was so uncalled
for and exasperating that Steve's temper got the better of him for the
We weren't doing any harm here, he declared indignantly. And
we'll get out, but we're not afraid of you, even if you have got piano
The big fellow pulled his hands from his pockets with an angry growl
and, clenching his fists, strode toward the boys. But at that instant
footsteps sounded in the locker room, and the bully's hands dropped and
he turned his head toward the door just as a small, red-haired and
freckle-faced little Irishman came into sight.
Hello, Eric the Red, he said jovially. An' what might you be
doin' down here, me boy?
I'm telling these fresh kids to get out of here, replied the
youth. Any objections?
The little Irishman seemed surprised, and he smiled, but the boys
noted that his small and rather greenish eyes narrowed.
None at all, at all, me boy. If I had I'd very soon tell you, d'ye
see? But what harm are they doin'? Sure, if I don't mind them bein'
here, why would you?
They haven't any business in this room, and you know it, Danny.
They're too fresh, anyway.
Well, that's what we all are at some time. Let the boys be. Was you
wantin' anything, boys?
No, we were just looking around the place. This door was open and
we came in. We didn't know there was any harm in it, concluded Steve.
No more there was, said Danny soothingly.
They were rough-housing all over the place, growled the big
fellow. If you can stand it I can, though. Onlyand he turned a
wrathful gaze on Steveif you ever get fresh with me again you'll get
the licking that's coming to you, kid. He turned away toward the
locker room. Say, Danny, got a key to my locker? I've lost mine and I
want to get into it a minute.
I have not, replied Danny cheerfully. You'll have to have one
fitted, me boy.
Hasn't anyone a master-key? demanded the other.
They have not. Find Patsy; he'll fit one for you in ten minutes.
That's a funny state of things, grumbled the big fellow. They
ought to have duplicates on hand. Somebody's always losing a key,
The rest was lost as the youth disappeared into the further room.
Danny winked gravely at the two boys.
Who is he? asked Steve curiously.
Him? His name's Sawyer, Eric Sawyer. He is sufferin' from a
terrible complaint, boys, an' it makes him that cross a bear would run
away from him, I'm thinkin'!
What's the trouble with him?
He has what the doctors do be callin' an ingrowin' grouch, replied
Danny soberly. 'Tis due to over-exposure of the ego, they tell me,
resultin' in an inflamed condition of the amoor proper, that same bein'
French an' maybe beyond your comprehension.
The boys laughed and Danny swung himself to the table and patted it
invitingly. Sit down, boys, an' tell me all about it, he said. Who
may you be, now?
His name is Hall and mine is Edwards, replied Steve, as he and Tom
followed Danny's example and swung their feet from the table. We're
I suspected as much, replied Danny drily. An' where might be your
place of residence?
Think o' that now! marvelled Danny. Sure, you're a long ways from
home. Is this place you say anywhere near Philadelphia?
Oh, no, it's a long ways from there. It's out in the western part
of the state.
I was in Philadelphia once to see the games at the college over
there, pursued Danny. It's a fine town.
Would you mindtelling us who you are? asked Tom.
I would not. I have no unseemly pride. My name is Mister Daniel
Parnell Moore, and I have the extraordinary honour of bein' the trainer
at this institution o' learnin' and Fine Arts, the Fine Arts bein'
athletics, football, baseball, hockey an' tinnis. An' now you
Thank you, said Tom politely. I hope you didn't mind my asking
Not a bit! You may ask me anything you like, Jim.
My name isn't Jim, replied Tom, with a smile.
It ain't? The trainer seemed surprised. Sure, he said your last
name was Hall, didn't he? An' I never seen a Hall whose front name
I'm sorry, laughed Tom, but mine isn't; it's Tom.
Danny Moore shook his head sadly. An' you, he said, turning to
Steve, maybe you'll be tellin' me next your name ain't Sam?
It might be, agreed Danny doubtfully. But all the Edwardses I
ever knew was Sams. But I'm not disputin' your word, d'ye mind! 'Tis
likely you know, me boy. An' what do you think o' this rural paradise
I guess we like it pretty well, what we've seen of it, answered
Steve. Have you been here long?
Two years; this is my third. It's a nice schools, as schools go. I
never had much use for them, though. In the Old Country we never held
with them much when I was a lad. I dare say you boys'll be tryin' to
play football like all the rest of them?
We're going out for the team, said Steve, although I guess, from
what a fellow told us last night, we don't stand much show. He said
that most of the last year's players were back this fall.
That's so. We lost but four by graduation. They were some o' the
best in the bunch, though. 'Tis queer how the ones that is gone is
always the best, ain't it? Who was this feller you was talkin' to?
His name is Miller. Do you know him? I suppose you must, though.
Miller? Do you mean Andy Miller?
I don't know. He didn't tell us his other name.
The initials were A. L. M., though, reminded Tom.
That's right. Is he a pretty good player?
He does fairly well, answered Danny Moore carelessly. Not that I
pay much heed to him, though. I see him around sometimes. I wouldn't
think much of what he tells you, though. I don't. If you see him I'd be
obliged if you'd tell him that.
But there was a twinkle in Danny's eye and Steve resolved to tell
Miller no such thing. What position does he play? he asked.
Danny frowned thoughtfully. It might be end, right or left. I
forget. I pay no heed to the likes o' him. He's only the captain, d'ye
Captain! exclaimed the two boys startledly, eyeing each other in
Sure, said Danny. An' why not?
Erthere's no reason, replied Steve, onlyhe didn't say
anything about being captain.
And why would he be after incriminating himself? Danny demanded.
The boys digested this news in silence for a moment. Then,
Does that fellow who was just in here play? asked Tom.
He does. He plays right guard, and he plays it well. I'll say that
for him. Well, it's catchin' no fish I am sittin' here gassin' with you
fellers. Make yourselves to home. I must be gettin' on.
I guess we'll go, too, said Steve.
They followed the trainer up the stairway to the hall above. There
he pulled a bunch of keys from his pocket and unlocked the big front
door for them. Now, look at that, will you? he exclaimed in amazement
as he turned a small key over between his fingers. I wouldn't be
surprised if that key would fit them lockers down there. Ain't that a
pity, an' him wantin' it all the time?
The boys smiled and agreed gravely that it was. Danny sighed, shook
his head and dropped the keys back into his pocket. If you have
trouble with him, he said to Steve, hit for his head, boy, for you'll
make no impression on the body of him.
Thanks, but I don't expect he will bother me again.
I know. I'm only tellin' you. A word to the wise, d'ye mind? Good
luck to you, boys.
Thanks. We're much obliged to you, Mr. Moore.
Mr. Moore! Help! Listen. And Danny bent confidentially. I won't
be mindin' if you call me Mister Moore when we're by ourselves, d'ye
see; but don't be doin' it in the presence of others. Them as didn't
know might think I was one of the faculty, d'ye see. Call me Danny an'
save me self-respect!
When the door had closed behind them on the grinning countenance of
Danny, Steve looked at his watch and exclaimed startledly.
Nearly ten o'clock! he said. And we promised to telegraph to the
folks this morning. Let's see if the trunks have come and then hustle
to the telegraph office.
CHAPTER IX. BACK IN TOGS
Brimfield Academy was in full swing. The term was a day old and one
hundred and fifty-three youths of various ages from twelve to twenty
had settled down, more or less earnestly, to the school routine. In 12
Billings trunks had been unpacked and the room had taken on a look of
comfort and coziness, although several things were yet lacking to
complete its livableness. For instance, an easy-chair of some sort was
a crying necessity, a drop-light would help a lot, and a cushion and
some pillows on the window-seat were much needed. Tom argued that if
the window-seat was furnished they would not require an easy-chair, but
Steve held out for the added luxury.
Both boys, Steve by a narrower margin than he suspected, had made
the Fourth Form, and this afternoon, as they expeditiously changed into
football togs, their glances more than once stole to the imposing piles
of books on the study table, books which hinted at many future hours of
hard work. Steve, pulling on a pair of much worn and discoloured canvas
trousers, sighed as his eye measured again the discouraging height of
his pile. It was almost enough to spoil in advance the pleasure he
looked forward to on the gridiron!
The athletic field lay behind the school buildings and was a fine
level expanse of green turf some twelve acres in extent. There were
three gridirons, a baseball diamond, a quarter-mile running-track and a
round dozen of tennis courts there. A well-built iron-framed stand,
erected in sections, and mounted on small wide-tread wheels could be
moved about as occasion required, and at present was standing in the
middle of the south side of the football field. On the whole Brimfield
had reason to be proud of her athletic equipment, field and gymnasium,
as well as of her other advantages.
The scene along the Row as the two friends clattered out of Billings
was vastly different from that presented the afternoon of their
arrival. Now the walk was alive with boys, heads protruded from open
casements and wandering couples could be seen lounging along the gate
drive or over the sloping lawn that descended to the road. First
practice had been called for four o'clock and the big dial in the
ivy-draped tower of Main Hall pointed its hands to three-forty when
Steve and Tom turned into the path between Torrence and Wendell leading
to the gymnasium and the field beyond. Already, however, the fellows
were turning their steps that way, some in playing togs but more in
ordinary attire, the latter, yielding to the lure of a warm September
afternoon, bent on finding an hour's entertainment stretched
comfortably at ease along a side line or perched on the stand.
That's pretty, isn't it? asked Tom, as they looked across the
nearer turf to where the broad expanse of playing ground, bordered on
its further side by a wooded slope, stretched before them. The early
frosts had already slightly touched the trees over there, and hints of
russet-yellow and brick-red showed amongst the green. Nearer than that,
more colour was supplied by an occasional dark red sweater amongst the
groups loitering about the edge of the gridiron.
It surely is pretty, agreed Steve. I wonder if Miller's there
yet. He told us to look him up, you know.
Maybe he will give us a send-off to the coach, suggested Tom. He
could, you know, since he is captain. I guess it won't do us any
harmme, anywayto have someone speak a word for us, eh?
Wonder what the coach is like, said Steve, nodding agreement.
Miller seemed to think he was pretty good. That's a dandy turf there,
Tom; level as a table. They haven't marked the gridiron out yet,
I suppose they don't need it for a day or two, replied the other,
trying not to feel self-conscious as he neared the crowd already on
hand. I don't see Miller, do you?
Steve shook his head, after a glance about him, and, rolling his
hands in the folds of his sweater, not because the weather was cold but
because that was a habit of his, seated himself at the bottom of the
stand. Tom followed him and they looked about them and conversed in low
voices while the throng grew with every minute. So far neither had made
any acquaintances save that of Andy Millerunless Eric Sawyer could be
called such!and they felt a little bit out of it as they saw other
boys joyously hailing each other, stopping to shake hands or exchange
affectionate blows, or waving greetings from a distance. They had made
the discovery, by the way, that the proper word of salutation at
Brimfield was Hi! It was invariably Hi, Billy! Hi, Joe! and the
usual Hello was never heard. Eventually Steve and Tom became properly
addicted to the Hi! habit, but it was some time before they were able
to keep from showing their newness by Helloing each other.
The stand became sprinkled with youths and the turf along the edge
of the gridiron held many more. A man of apparently thirty years of
age, wearing a grey Norfolk suit and a cap to match, appeared at the
corner of the stand just as the bell in Main Hall struck four sonorous
peals. He was accompanied by three boys in togs, one of them Captain
Miller. The coach was a clean-cut chap with a nice face and a
medium-sized, wiry figure. He had sandy hair and eyebrows that were
almost white, and his sharp blue eyes sparkled from a deeply tanned
face upon which, at the moment, a very pleasant smile played. But even
as Steve and Tom watched him the smile died abruptly and he pulled a
black leather memorandum book from a pocket and fluttered its leaves in
a businesslike way.
Miller had predicted that this fall some eighty candidates would
appear, but he had evidently been over-sanguine. Sixty seemed nearer
the correct number than eighty. But even sixty-odd looked a good many
as they gradually gathered nearer the coach. Steve and Tom slipped from
their places and joined the throng.
Last year's first and second team players take the east end of the
field, directed Mr. Robey. All others remain here. I'm going to tell
you right now, fellows, that there's going to be a whole lot of hard
work this fall, and any of you who don't like hard work had better keep
away. This is a good time to quit. You'll save your time and mine too.
All right now! Take some balls with you, Milton, and warm up until I
get down there. Now, then, you new men, give me your names. Where's
Lawrence? Not here yet? All right. What's your name and what experience
have you had, my boy?
One by one the candidates answered the coach's questions and then
trotted into the field where Eric Sawyer was in command. Andy Miller
and Danny Moore stood at the coach's elbow during this ceremony, and
when, toward the last, Steve and Tom edged up, they were greeted by
Here's the fine lad, said Danny, who caught sight of Steve before
Miller did. Mr. Sam Edwards, Coach, a particular friend of mine.
Steve, rather embarrassed, started to say that his name was not Sam,
but Miller interrupted him.
So here you are, Edwards? Glad to see you again. I've been looking
for you and Hall to drop in on me. How are you, Hall? Robey, these two
have had some experience on their high school team and I think they'll
bear watching. Shake hands with Mr. Robey, Edwards.
Glad to know you, said the coach. What's your position, Edwards?
I've been playing end, sir.
End, eh? You look fast, too. We'll see what you can do, my boy. And
Jim Hall, supplied Danny. Another close friend o' me boyhood,
sir, an' a fine lad, too, be-dad!
Tackle, sir, mostly, replied Tom.
It's a relief to find a couple who aren't bent on being backs,
said the coach with a smile to Miller. All right, fellows. We'll give
you all the chance in the world. Report to Sawyer now.
Steve and Tom, with the parting benediction of a portentious wink
from Danny Moore, joined the thirty-odd candidates of many ages and
sizes who, formed in two rings, were passing footballs under the stern
and frowning regard of Eric Sawyer. They edged their way into one of
the circles and were soon earnestly catching and tossing with the rest.
If Sawyer recognised them as the boys who had aroused his ire in the
rubbing room the day before, he showed no sign of it. It is probable,
though, that their football attire served as a sufficient disguise.
Sawyer apparently took his temporary position as assistant coach very
seriously and bore himself with frowning dignity. But it was not at all
beneath his dignity to call erring candidates to order or to indulge in
a good deal of heavy satire at the expense of those whose inexperience
made them awkward. Neither Steve nor Tom, however, fell under the ban
of his displeasure.
Falling on the ball followed the passing, and, in turn, gave place
to starting and sprinting. For this they were formed in line and
Sawyer, leaning over a ball at one end of the line, snapped it away as
a signal for them to leap forward. By that time the warmth of the day
and the exertion had tuckered a good many of them out and Sawyer found
much fault with the performances.
Oh, get moving, you chap in the black shirt there! Watch the ball
and dig when I snap it! That's it! Go it! Hard! All right for
you, but about a dozen of you other chaps got left entirely. Now get
down there and throw your weight forward. Haven't any of you ever
practised starts before? Anyone would think your feet were glued down!
Get in line again. Ready now! Go, you flock of ice-wagons!
Fortunately for the softer members of the awkward squad, practice
was soon over to-day, and Steve and Tom somewhat wearily tramped back
with the rest across to the gymnasium, determined to have the luxury of
a shower-bath even if they would have to get back into their togs again
We'd better see about getting lockers, said Steve. I wonder where
They cost a dollar a year, answered Tom, who knew the contents of
the school catalogue by heart, and if we don't make the team we won't
need the lockers.
Sure we will. If we use the swimming pool we'll need a place to
keep our clothes. And even if we don't make the big teams we'll play
with the Hall, probably. Wish we had them now and didn't have to go
back to the room to change. I'm tired, if you care to know it!
So am I, panted Tom. Sawyer worked us hard for a warm day.
Yes, and did you notice that fat fellow? There he is ahead there,
with the striped stockings. He was just about all in and puffing like a
He was probably tender, said Tom.
Yes, heTender! That'll do for you! said Steve indignantly,
aiming a blow at Tom's ribs which was skilfully evaded. Let's stop at
the office in here and see if we can get lockers.
They could. Moreover, Mr. Conklin, the physical director, informed
them, to their deep satisfaction, that the charge of one dollar each
would be placed on their term bill if they wished. They wished with
instant enthusiasm and departed, keys in hand, to find their lockers.
They found the room thronged with fellows in various stages of
undressing, while from the baths came deep groans and shrill shrieks
and the hiss and splash of water. Their lockers were side by side at
the farther end of the last aisle; and, after making certain that the
keys fitted them, they began to get out of their clothes, only to make
the discovery when partly disrobed that they had no towels.
I'm going to ask someone to lend me one, said Steve. You can use
an end of it if I get it. I'm going to have that shower or bust.
A cheerful-faced youth draped in a frayed bathrobe came up at that
moment and Steve sought counsel of him.
Towel? I'd lend you one in a minute, but mine are all soiled. You
can see for yourself. He nodded toward the open door of his locker on
the floor of which lay a pile of what were evidently bath towels. I
forgot to send them to the wash before I went away in the spring. If
you ask Danny he might let you have one. I guess he's around
Steve found the trainer leaning against the doorway of the rubbing
room. 'Tis Sam Edwards! greeted Danny. An' how did it go to-day, me
Pretty good, thanks. Could you lend me a couple of towels,
I doubt have I got any, but I'll look an' see, and Danny
disappeared into the room behind him.
Here you are, Sam, he said in a moment. They're small but select.
Fetch 'em back when you're through with 'em, if you please. They're
school property, d'ye mind, and it's me that's answerable for them.
Steve promised faithfully to restore them and bore them back in
triumph to where Tom had paused in his undressing to await the result
of the errand. A minute later they were puffing and blowing in
adjoining baths, with the icy-cold water raining down on their glowing
bodies. A brisk drying with the borrowed towels, a return to their
uninviting togs and they were ready to be off. Steve couldn't find
Danny, but he left the towels on the table in the rubbing room and he
and Tom climbed the stairs again. In the hall above there was a large
notice board and Tom stopped to glance at some of the announcements
pinned against it.
Here a minute, Steve, he said. Look at this. He laid a finger on
a square of paper which bore in almost illegible writing this
remarkable notice: What Will You Give? Dirt Cheap! Terms Cash! One
fine oak Morris chair, good as new. Three cushions, very pretty. One
pair of skates. Eight phonograph records. Large assortment of
bric-a-brac. Any fair offer takes them! Call early and avoid
disappointment. Durkin, 13 Torrence.
Is it a joke? asked Steve doubtfully.
No, there are lots of them, see. Sure enough, the board held fully
a dozen similar announcements, although the others were not couched in
such breezy language. There were chairs, cushions, tables, pictures,
golf clubs, rugs and all sorts of things advertised for sale, while one
chap sought a purchaser for a stuffed white owl, mounted on a branch,
slightly moth-eaten. Cash or exchange for books.
Steve laughed. What do you know about that? he asked. Say, why
don't we look at some of the things, Tom? Maybe we could save money.
Let's call on Mr. Durkin and look at his Morris chair, eh?
All right. Come ahead. Anything else we want?
I don't suppose we could pick up a cushion that would fit our
window-seat, but we might. I'll write down some of the names and
We might buy the white owl, Steve. Ever think you'd like a white
Not with moths in it, thanks, replied Steve. There was pen and ink
on the ledge outside the window of the physical director's office and
Steve secured paper by tearing a corner from one of the notices. When
he had scribbled down the addresses that sounded promising they set off
for Torrence Hall. Number 13 was on the second floor, and as they drew
near it their ears were afflicted by most dismal sounds.
Wha-what's that? asked Tom in alarm.
Fiddle, laughed Steve. Wonder if it's Mr. Durkin.
The wailing sounds ceased as Steve knocked and a voice called Come
in! When they entered they saw a tall, lank youth standing in front of
a music-rack close to the window. He held a violin to his chin and
waved his bow in greeting.
Hi! he said. Sit down and I'll be right with you. I've got one
bit here that's been bothering me for an hour. He turned back to his
music, waved his bow in the air, laid it across the strings and drew
forth sounds that made the visitors squirm in the chairs they had
taken. One excruciating wail after another came from the tortured
instrument, the lank youth bending absorbedly over the notes in the
failing light and apparently quite oblivious to the presence of the
others. Finally, with a sigh of satisfaction, he laid his bow on the
ledge of the stand, stood his violin in a corner of the window-seat and
turned to the visitors.
He was an odd-looking chap, tall and thin, with a long, lean face
under a mop of black hair that was badly in need of trimming. His
near-sighted eyes blinked from behind the round lenses of a pair of
rubber-rimmed spectacles and his rather nondescript clothes seemed on
the point of falling off of him.
Sorry to keep you waiting, he said politely, but it's getting
dark and I did want to get that thing before I quit. Want to buy
CHAPTER X. CHEAP FOR CASH
Yes, we saw that you had a Morris chair, replied Steve. He glanced
perplexedly around the room. There was no Morris chair in sight, nor
were any of the other articles advertised to be seen. That is, if
That's me. The chair is downstairs in the storeroom. It's a corking
chair, all right, and you're sure to want it. I'm sorry, though, you
didn't get around before it got so dark, because the light down there
isn't very good.
Well, we could come again in the morning, said Steve. There's no
I think you'd better see it now, said Durkin with decision. It is
a bargain and if you waited someone might get ahead of you. We'll go
Erwell, how much is it?
Why, yes, I suppose so.
It makes a difference. Sometimes fellows want to pay part cash and
part promise, and sometimes they want to trade. If you pay cash you get
it cheaper, of course.
All right. How much for it?
Durkin looked the customers over appraisingly. Let's have a look at
it before we talk about the price, he said. If I said five dollars
now, when you haven't seen it, you might think I was asking too much.
I surely would, replied Steve firmly. If that's what you want for
it I guess there's no use going down to see it.
I didn't say that was the price, answered Durkin. I'll make the
price all right. You fellows come and see it. And he led the way out
into the corridor. Steve glanced questioningly at Tom, and Tom smiled
and shrugged his shoulders.
Well, all right, said Steve. Let's see it.
Durkin led the way to the lower hall and then down a pair of dark
and very steep stairs to the basement. You wait there, he instructed,
until I switch the light on. Now then, this way.
Durkin took a key from a nail and unlocked the door of a room
partitioned off in a corner of the basement. The boys waited, and
Durkin, having disappeared into the gloom of the storeroom, presently
reappeared, dragging after him a very dusty brown-oak chair with a slat
back, broad arms and a much-worn leather seat.
There you are, he said triumphantly, pushing the object into the
faint gleam of light which reached them from the foot of the stairs.
There's a chair that'll last for years.
But you said it was a Morris chair, exclaimed Tom. That's no
Oh, yes, it is, Durkin assured them earnestly. I bought it from
him myself last June.
Bought it from whom? asked Steve derisively.
From Spencer Morris, of course. Paid a lot for it, too. Have a look
at it. It's just as good as it ever was. The leather's a little bit
worn at the edges, but you can fix that all right. It wouldn't cost
more than half a dollar, I suppose, to put a new piece on there.
Look here, said Steve disgustedly, you're a fakir! What do you
suppose we want with a relic like that? You said you had a Morris chair
and now you pull this thing out to show us. Is that all you've got?
Oh, no, I've got a lot of good things in there, answered Durkin
cheerfully, peering into the gloomy recesses of the storeroom. How
about some pictures, or a pair of fine vases, or
Have you another arm-chair? asked Steve impatiently.
No, this is the only one. I've got some dandy cushions, though, for
a window-seat. Let me show you those. And Durkin was back again before
Steve could stop him. Tom was grinning when Steve turned an indignant
look upon him.
Morris chair! growled Steve. Silly chump!
Here you are! Durkin came proudly forth, heralded by a cloud of
pungent dust, and tossed three cushions into the chair. Look at those
for bargains, will you? Fifty cents apiece and dirt cheap.
We don't want cushions, growled Steve disgustedly. But Tom was
examining them and presently he looked across at his chum. We might
buy these, Steve. They're not so bad.
Steve grudgingly looked them over. Finally, We'll give you
twenty-five cents apiece for them, he said.
Twenty-five! Why, they're worth a dollar!
All right, you keep them.
Durkin hesitated and sighed. Finally, as the boys showed a strong
inclination to seek the stairway, Give me a dollar for the lot, he
said. Steve questioned Tom with his eyes and Tom nodded.
All right, said Tom, but it's more than they're worth.
You'd have to pay a dollar and a half if you bought them new, said
Durkin. Honest! Now, about that chair
Nothing doing! interrupted Steve decisively.
It's a good chair, and comfortablesay, sit down and just try it,
will you? Durkin removed the cushions and Steve, with a shrug, seated
himself. When he got out Tom took his place. It was comfortable.
How much? asked Steve carelessly.
Three-fifty, and dirt
Give you a dollar and a half.
Durkin looked so pained that Tom quite pitied him. But he only said
patiently: You don't want to buy, you fellows; you're looking for
gifts. That chair at three dollars is a real, genuine bargain, and
You said three and a half before, Tom corrected.
Did I? Well, it ought to be three and a half, but you may have it
for three, even if I lose money on it.
No fear, grunted Steve. We'll split the difference and call it
Make it two-fifty and it's yours.
Couldn't do it. Two or nothing.
All right, said Durkin placidly. Take it along. Now let me show
No, sir! laughed Steve. You don't show us another thing, Durkin.
Pile the cushions on here, Tom, and take hold.
Wait till I lock this door and I'll give you a lift, said Durkin.
Between them they got the chair upstairs and outdoors. Then Steve
paid three dollars to Durkin and the transaction was completed.
Thank you, said Durkin. And, say, if you want anything else, you
come and see me. I've got a lot of good stuff down there. And if you
want to sell anything any time I'm your man. I'll pay you good prices,
fellows. So long.
The two boys felt rather conscious as they carried the chair along
the Row, but although they passed a good many fellows on the way, no
one viewed their performance with more than mild interest. As they were
about to lift their burden through the entrance of Billings, however,
the door opened from inside and a tall boy with a 'varsity football cap
on the back of his head almost ran into them. Drawing aside to avoid
them, his eyes fell on the chair and he stopped short.
Back again! he exclaimed delightedly. Good old article. Where'd
you find it, fellows?
Bought it from a fellow named Durkin, in Torrence, replied Steve.
So 'Penny' had it? The chap lifted the cushions heaped on the seat
of the chair and viewed it interestedly. Well, you got a chair with a
history, he said. That belonged to me three years ago. I bought it
from a fellow named Lansing, and he got it second-hand from a shop in
White Plains. I sold it to Spencer Morris and I suppose Penny got it
from him. And the old article looks 'most as good as new! Do you mind
telling me how much you paid for it?
Two dollars, said Steve. He wanted three at first.
The tall chap laughed. Two dollars! What do you know about that? I
paid a dollar and a half for it and sold it to Morris for a dollar.
I'll bet Penny didn't give Spencer more than fifty cents for it. He's a
wonder, he is! Those cushions aren't bad. I'll give you a half for the
We don't want to sell, thanks, said Steve.
Well, if you do, let me know. I'm in 4. My name's Fowler. And he
nodded and went on. Up in their room, when they had set the arm-chair
down and placed it to their liking, Steve said:
Think of that long-haired idiot getting two dollars out of us for
this thing. I've a good mind to go back and tell him what I think of
What's the difference? asked Tom. It's a perfectly good chair,
and if we hadn't met that Fowler chap we'd never known we'd been stung.
It's worth two dollars, anyway, no matter what Durkin paid for it.
I suppose it is, granted Steve. And it is comfortable.
Look here; we'll have to have another one now, or we'll be scrapping to
see who gets this!
Not if we can find a cushion for the window-seat, said Tom. We
might see some more of those fellows you have on your list.
To-morrow, said Steve. It's almost supper time. I guess we didn't
do so badly for three dollars. Wasn't it funny, though, we should have
run into a fellow who used to own it? Wonder who Fowler is.
I saw him at the field this afternoon, replied Tom. I guess he's
on the first team. We could have made sixteen cents if we'd sold him
the cushion he wanted.
You're as bad as Durkin! laughed Steve. Wonder why he called him
'Penny,' by the way. The fellow had a regular second-hand shop down
there, didn't he? Do you suppose all that truck in there belonged to
I don't know. I know one thing, though, and that is that I'm mighty
glad I don't room with Durkin and have to listen to that fiddling of
That's not much worse than your snoring, replied Steve unkindly.
The next day further search revealed a cushion which just fitted the
window-seat, not surprising in view of the fact that the window-seats
throughout the dormitories were fairly uniform in size. The cushion
cost them two dollars. It was covered with faded green corduroy and in
places was pretty well flattened out by much service. But it answered
their purpose and really looked quite fine when in place. Tom cast
doubts on the positive assertion of the seller that it was filled with
genuine hair, but Steve said that didn't matter as long as it was
comfortable. They piled their three pillows on it and stretched
themselves out on it, one at a time, and voted it good enough for
anyone. There was a good deal of dust in it, but, as Steve said, if
they were careful about getting up and down they wouldn't disturb it!
By this time Number 12 began to look quite sumptuous. They had placed
several framed pictures and many photographs and trinkets against the
walls and had draped the tops of the chiffoniers with towels. They had
also made up a list of things to bring back with them after the
Christmas holidays, a list that included all sorts of articles from a
waste-basket to an electric drop-light. The latter they had not been
able to find in their bargain-hunting and could not purchase in the
village even if they had sufficient money. Their pocketbooks were
pretty lean by the time they had been there a week, for, beside the
expenditures for furnishings, they had, between them, paid two dollars
for a year's subscription to the school monthly, and had made quite an
outlay for stationery. Tom, in fact, was practically bankrupt and had
sent an S. O. S., as he called it, to his father.
Meanwhile, every afternoon save Sunday they donned their togs and
toiled on the gridiron. Mr. Robey was already bringing order out of
chaos and the sixty-odd candidates now formed a first, second and third
squad. Steve and Tom both remained in the latter for the present, nor
did Tom entertain much hope of getting out of it until he was dropped
for good. Steve had made something of a reputation as a player at home,
and his former team-mates there firmly expected to hear that he had
made the Brimfield 'varsity without difficulty and was showing the
preparatory school fellows how the game ought to be played. Tom, too,
expected no less for him, and perhaps, if the truth were known, Steve
entertained some such expectations himself! But Tom wasn't deceived as
to his own football ability and was already wondering whether, when he
was dropped from the 'varsity squad, he would be so fortunate as to
make his hall team.
But there was a surprise in store for both of them. The first cut
came about ten days after the opening of school, and the candidates
dwindled from sixty-odd to a scant fifty. Steve's surprise lay in the
fact that he was not promoted to the second squad, Tom's to the even
more startling circumstance that he survived the cut!
Eric Sawyer had been relieved from his superintendence of the
awkward squad and had gone to his old position of right guard on the
first team. The third squad was now under the care of a youth named
Marvin, a substitute quarter-back on last year's second team. He was a
cheerful, hardworking little chap and the rookies took to him at
once. He was quick to find fault, but equally quick to applaud good
work, and under his charge the third squad, composed now of some
fourteen candidates, began to smooth out. A half-hour session with the
tackling dummy was now part of the daily routine and many a fellow who
had thought rather well of himself suffered humiliation in the pit.
Steve was one of these. Tackling proved to be a weak point with him.
Even Tom got better results than he did, and every afternoon Steve
would scramble to his feet and wipe the earth from his face to hear
Marvin's patient voice saying: Not a bit like it, Edwards. Don't shut
your eyes when you jump. Keep them open and see what you're doing. Once
more, now; and tackle below the knees. And then, when the stuffed
figure had been drawn, swaying crazily, across the square of spaded
turf once more, and Steve had leaped upon it and twisted his arms
desperately and convulsively about it, That's a little better, Marvin
might say, but you'd never stop your man that way.
Steve was getting discouraged about his tackling and a little bit
incensed with Marvin. He takes it out on me every time, he confided
to Tom one afternoon after practice. Lots of the fellows don't do it a
bit better and he just says 'Fair, Jones' or 'That's better, Freer,'
and that's all there is to it. When it comes my turn, he just makes up
his mind I'm not going to do it right and then rags me. Didn't I do it
just as well as you did to-day, Tom?
Tom, intensely loyal though he was, had to shake his head. Maybe
you did, Steve; I don't do it very well myself, but youyou don't seem
to get the hang of it yet. You will, of course, in a day or two. I
don't believe Marvin means to rag you, though; he's an awfully decent
But Tom's day or two stretched into a week or two, and one by one
fellows disappeared from the awkward squad, some to the private walks
of life and the consolation of hall football and some, fewer in number
these, to the squad ahead. Brimfield played its first game of the year
one Saturday afternoon with Thacher School, and came through with
flying colours. But Thacher presented a line-up considerably younger
and lighter than Brimfield's, and the victory brought no great glory to
the Maroon-and-Grey. Steve and Tom watched that contest from the
side-line, Tom with absorbed interest and Steve rather disgruntedly.
His visions had not included any such situation as this!
That evening Steve made his first big mistake.
CHAPTER XI. HOLD 'EM, THIRD!
The term was a fortnight old when Thacher went down in defeat, 10 to
3, and by that time both Steve and Tom had made acquaintances here and
there, and so when, after study hour that Saturday night, Steve
announced carelessly that he was going around to Hensey to see a
fellow, Tom took it for granted that his chum was off to look up some
new friend. Perhaps, since they usually made calls together, he
wondered a little that Steve didn't ask him along, but he didn't mind
being left out on this particular occasion since he was having a good
deal of trouble just then with trigonometry and wanted to put in more
time on Monday's lesson.
When Steve entered Hensey he passed into the first corridor and
knocked on the door of Number 7. The card there held the names: Andrew
Loring MillerHatherton Williams. A voice bade him enter and Steve
walked in. Andy Miller and his room-mate were both in, Andy sprawled on
the window-seat, which was much too short for his long body, and
Williams seated at the study table. Andy jumped up as the visitor
Glad to see you, Edwards, he said cordially. Shake hands with
Williams. Hat, this is Edwards of the fourth. Sit down, won't you?
Williams, who was a heavy, dark-complexioned youth of eighteen with
a flat nose and a broad mouth, shook hands politely, murmuring
something that Steve took to mean that he was pleased to meet him, and
sank back to his seat. Steve took the easy-chair that Andy pushed
Well, how are you? asked the football captain genially. Haven't
run across any more confidence-men, I hope.
Steve smiled none too heartily and cast a glance toward Williams.
But the latter's blank expression showed that the allusion meant
nothing to him and proved that, as far as Williams was concerned,
Miller had kept his promise of secrecy.
No, not yet, answered Steve. I thought I'd just drop in a minute
Of course. Glad you did. How's your friend?
Tom! He's fine, thanks. Ihe wasn't through studying, so I didn't
wait for him.
And how's football going? asked Andy. Getting on pretty well?
I think so. Not so very well, though. II don't seem to please
Marvin very well with tackling.
Oh, you'll get onto that all right, said Andy cheerfully. Fact
is, I don't think a fellow ever really learns much at the dummy. It's
dumping a chap in real playing that shows you what's wanted. Don't you
think so, Hat?
Dummy practice is a good thing, answered Williams morosely.
He sat tilted back on the chair, hands in pockets, staring at the
floor. He seemed a gloomy sort of fellow, Steve thought, and was
relieved when Williams added: Guess I'll run over to Johnny's for a
minute, and, muttering something about being glad to have met the
visitor, found a cap and wandered out.
I suppose, said Steve, when the door had closed, it's necessary
for a fellow to learn how to tackle, but it seems to me that if you
aren't awfully good at it you might get a chance to show what you can
do besides that.
I guess I don't quite understand what you mean, responded Andy.
I mean that if I can't tackle the dummy well enough to please
Marvin, answered Steve a trifle bitterly, I do as well as lots of
other fellows, andand it doesn't seem fair to keep me back just for
that. Lots of fellows have been taken on to the second squad that can't
play as well as I can, Miller.
Oh! I see. Andy's eyes narrowed a little and he looked at Steve
more intently. You mean that you aren't getting a fair show, Edwards?
It doesn't seem so to me. I played with my high school team for two
years at left end andand did pretty well. Of course, I don't say that
I'm as good as some of the fellows here, but I do think that I'm as
good asas a lot of them; and a heap better than three or four that
have gone to the second squad lately. I don't get a chance to show what
I can do where I am now, Miller. Marvin doesn't even let me into signal
drill more than half the time, and then he puts me at half or tackle
and I've never played either of those places. And when I told him so
the other day he just laughed and said that one place was as good as
another on the third! And he rags me every day about my tackling
andand I don't think it's fair! If he will give me a chance I'll pick
up tackling all right. You say yourself that a fellow learns it more
from playing than from dummy work.
So I did, said Andy thoughtfully. Then, after a moment: Look
here, Edwards, I think you've got a wrong idea in your head. If Marvin
isn't satisfied with your tackling, it's because you don't do it right.
Marvin's a good man and he knows football. Now, if you expect to play
end you ought to know how to tackle, Edwards. What's the good of
getting down the field, no matter how fast you may be, if you can't
stop the man with the ball when you get there?
I can stop him! I've played for two years and
What you've done before, Edwards, isn't any criterion with us. You
may have been a regular wonder inwhat's the place? Tannerstown
Tannersville. I don't say I was a wonder, but
Just a minute! You may have been a star on your high school team
and yet not worth a copper cent to us, Edwards. I never saw your team
play, but it's pretty likely that their brand of football and ours are
I think we play as good football as you fellows played to-day,
Maybe. I'm not especially proud of the game we put up this
afternoon. But that isn't the sort of football we play in mid-season,
my friend. I'm sorry you think you aren't getting a fair deal, Edwards,
but you mustn't expect me to interfere with Marvin. I couldn't do it.
The most I can do is give you a little piece of advice which you won't
care for probably. It's this: Do as you're told to do, Edwards, and do
it as hard as you know how! Just as soon as you show Marvin that you
are ready to go into the second squad, you'll get there. And don't get
it into your head that Marvin has it in for you or doesn't know what he
is doing. Marvin's a particularly bright young man. If he wasn't he
wouldn't have the third squad to weed out, for that's a job that
requires a whole lot more patience and brains than any other job I know
of on a football field.
Andy paused, and Steve, who was gloomily regarding a scarred
knuckle, made no reply.
Use your head, man, continued the captain in a lighter tone. You
don't suppose, do you, that we are letting anything good get by us as
long as we've got eyes to see with? Not much! You probably have an idea
that Marvin is keeping you off the second. He isn't. You're keeping
yourself off. Mull that over, Edwards. And don'tdon't do this again.
Steve looked a question.
I mean don't come to me or to Mr. Robey with any hard-luck stories.
It isn't done. If I didn't know you a little, Edwards, I'd think you
were pretty poor stuff. But I guess you didn't stop to consider how it
would look. As you have done it, I'm glad you came to me instead of Mr.
Robey. He wouldn't have liked it a bit. After a pause: How's Hall
Pretty well, I guess, replied Steve. He stood up and frowned at
the green globe of the reading lamp for a moment. Then, I'm sorry I
said anything, Miller, he remarked. I guess it wasn't quite a fair
thing to do. Only I thoughtmaybe
You thought, said Andy cheerfully, that perhaps I'd give you a
lift. Didn't you, Edwards?
I suppose so.
In other words, you wanted me to advance you over the next man on
the strength of our acquaintance. Sounds as though you had rather a
punk impression of me, Edwards.
I haven't! II suppose, though, I didn't stop to figure it out
much. It seemed to me that Marvin wasn't giving me a fair show, and
here it is the last of September already, and I'm just where I
That's your fault, not Marvin's, responded Andy with a smile. He
walked over and laid a hand on the younger boy's shoulder. Brace up,
Edwards, he said kindly. Don't waste your time looking for favours.
Don't want them. Buckle down and grit your teeth and just show Marvin
and the rest of us that you're so good he can't keep you on the third!
That's your line, old man. And now, just as a bit of encouragement,
I'll tell you that Robey and I have noticed your work in the field and
we've liked it. You carry yourself like a veteran and you follow the
ball well, and we both expect big things from you some day. Perhaps you
won't make good this year, but there's next year and the year after.
Put your nose back on the grindstone, Edwards, grin hard and tell
Marvin to turn faster!
All right, laughed Steve. Thanks. I guess you're right. Andand
I'm not sorry now I came.
Good! Now sit down again and let's have a chin. How do you like the
school? Have you met many of the fellows yet?
You're making the same mistake, Edwards, said Marvin the next
Monday afternoon. He spoke a trifle wearily. Get your body in front
of the runner and not at one side. Bind his legs together with your
arms, then block him with your body and lift him back. If you do that
he's got to stop, and when he falls he will fall towards his own
goal and not yours. Try it over now.
And when Steve had tried it over, Marvin glanced at him sharply. It
seemed to him that for almost the first time the candidate had really
tried! He hadn't made a clean tackle, but he had profited by the
instruction that had been heaped upon him for two weeks, and little
Marvin mentally patted himself on the back and was very pleased with
himself, for Marvin, although he would probably never play through a
big game, and knew it, was as unselfishly devoted to the interests of
the team as any fellow there.
That's a heap better, Edwards, he said eagerly. Now see if you
can't do it just right the next time.
After that it seemed to Marvin that Steve tried harder and it seemed
to Steve that the little quarter-back was more appreciative. On
Tuesday, as the squad jogged away from the tackling pit, Marvin said:
Edwards, let me see you after practice, will you?
Steve, assenting, examined Marvin's face doubtfully. A week ago he
would have expected trouble from such a request, but to-day Marvin's
face held only good-will and a sort of eager friendliness, and while
Steve wondered more than once during the remainder of practice what
Marvin wanted of him he had no unpleasant forebodings.
There was to be a game on the morrow, the only mid-week contest of
the season, and the first squad was released early. That gave Coach
Robey a chance to give undivided attention to the second and third and
he made the most of it. He and Andy Miller, the latter trailing a grey
blanket after him, joined the third squad when the first team and
substitutes had trotted away to the gymnasium and at once displayed a
flattering but embarrassing interest. The Third was practising signals,
eleven men in the line-up and two or three more following and watching.
Marvin was driving them from a position at the rear, occasionally
darting into the line, to correct a fault or illustrate a play.
Unfortunately, Carmine, who was at quarter, noticed the coach's advent
and immediately got flustered. When two plays had gone wrong Mr. Robey
Marvin, you get in there and play quarter for a minute and give
that man a chance to remember his signals. You come back here and look
After that the squad ran through plays with vim and snap. Now and
then there was a mix-up, but the signals went pretty well. After each
play the coach or Captain Miller, or sometimes both, criticised and
explained. The plays were few and simple; straight plunges by the backs
with an occasional forward pass; but almost every time the critics
found some fault to correct. Steve was playing at left tackle, fighting
valiantly against an imaginary opponent, and once, trotting back to his
position after a short charge over the turf, he caught the eyes of Andy
and Mr. Robey fixed on him speculatively. He hoped as he settled down
again and listened for the signals that Captain Miller had not told the
coach of that visit on Saturday night! He wanted to forget that himself
and he wanted Andy Miller to forget it.
That'll be all, Marvin, said Mr. Robey presently. He clapped his
hands. Everyone in, please! he called. The players flocked to the
bench and picked up sweaters and blankets, while Mr. Robey and Andy
conversed over the coach's little black book. Finally: We'll have a
short scrimmage, fellows, he announced. Second squad take the east
goal and kick off to the third. Pick out your men, Brownell. You too,
Marvin. Who do you want to start?
It was the first scrimmage for the third squad fellows and they
raced on eagerly. Steve was sent in as left tackle again and Tom beside
him at guard. The pigskin soared away from the toe of a second squad
forward, was gathered in by a third squad half-back near the
twenty-yard line and was down five yards further on. Line up, Third!
piped Carmine shrilly. Give it to 'em hard now!
There wasn't the finished skill displayed by the 'varsity team, but
there was enough enthusiasm to almost make up for the lack of science.
Back came the ball, the forwards sprang together, a half darted past
right tackle, spinning like a top, faltered, went on, was stopped short
by the Second's backs and borne back, grunting Down! Down! with all
the breath left in his body.
Second down! proclaimed Joe Lawrence, the manager, jumping into
the melee. Six to go.
Mr. Robey and Andy Miller followed the teams closely, watching and
shouting directions, the coach on the third squad side and Andy behind
Good work, you fellow! applauded Andy, darting up to slap the half
on the back and send him back to his place breathless but grinning.
That's the way to do it! Now, then, once more. You've got six to go.
Let me see you get it. Play lower, you fellows in the line! Get down
there! Lift 'em and throw 'em back! That's the ticket!
But the gain was scant and Carmine walked back to kick.
Get through and block this! panted the second's quarter, dodging
back and forth for a likely opening.
You fellow on the end there! cried Andy. Play back further and
stop that tackle!
Watch for a forward pass! warned a second squad back. Spread out,
Hold 'em! shouted Carmine.
Then came the signals, back sped the balla poor passthe second
came tearing through, Carmine dropped the ball and swung his leg and
away it floated. A second squad back caught it near the side-line,
tucked it under his arm and started back. The third squad's right end
had been blocked and now, eager to make up for lost time, he overran
and missed his tackle entirely and the second's back came speeding up
the field near the side-line, a hastily-formed interference guarding
him well. Ten yards, fifteen, twenty, and then Carmine wormed through
and brought the runner to earth.
That's one on you, right end, said Andy sternly. You got boxed to
the king's taste that time. Now, third, see what you can do on the
Draw your line in, Carmine, called Marvin. Look where you are,
man! The ball's almost on the twenty yards! Peters, close up there! Now
push 'em back, third!
Who's that right end, Dick? asked Andy of Marvin.
Chap named Holt. He isn't very good.
How would it do to try Edwards there? He looks clever.
That's his position, Andy, but the kid can't tackle. I'll give him
a try, though. That's rotten, third! Blaisdell, where were you then?
For the love of mud, man, watch the ball! Five yards right through you!
Now get back there and stop them!
Second down, five to go, called Lawrence. You left end on the
second, you were off-side then. Next time I'll penalise you. Watch out
Same formation! piped the second's quarter. Make it good,
fellows! Let's score now!
Hold 'em, third! Don't give 'em an inch. Get down there, Peters!
Third down! called Lawrence a moment later. You've got three and
a half to go, second!
That's the stuff! cried Carmine jubilantly, dealing blows of
approval on the bent backs of the forwards. That's the way to stop
'em! Now once more, third!
Then, Fourth down and a yard and a half to go, announced Lawrence.
Kick formation! called the attacking quarter. Simmons back!
Block this! Block it! Get through now, fellows!
Hold hard there, second! There was a moment of silence. Then the
ball shot back. Simmons caught it waist-high, dropped it, kicked and
went down under the charge of the desperate second squad players. But
the ball sailed over the cross-bar and the second had scored.
That'll do, Holt, said Marvin. Edwards, you play right end.
Saunders! A substitute struggled out of his sweater and came racing
on. Go in at left tackle, Saunders. Pearse, you'd better kick off.
The game went on, the second squad bringing the pigskin back twelve
yards on the kick-off and then hammering through for fifteen more
before the third forced them to punt. Carmine caught on his thirty-five
yards, made a short gain and was downed. Twice the third got through
for a yard or two and then Carmine again fell back to kick. This time
the pass was a good one and Carmine got off an excellent punt that went
over the head of the opposing quarter-back and bobbed along toward the
goal. The left half scuttled to his assistance and, when the ball was
in the quarter's arms, threw himself in front of the first of the foe.
But that particular adversary was canny. He twisted aside, leaped over
the stumbling half and dived for the runner. It was a poor tackle and
the man with the ball struggled on for three yards after he was caught,
but the ball was down on the second's twenty-seven yards, and Steve,
picking himself up from the recumbent enemy, heard Marvin shouting: A
rotten tackle, Edwards, but fine work down the field! And, Good
stuff, you end! approved the coach, while Tom, beaming, patted him
ungently on the back.
The scrimmage was over a minute later, and, although the second had
triumphed by that goal from the field, the third trotted back to the
gymnasium feeling very well pleased with themselves. They had had their
baptism by fire and had acquitted themselves well. Steve and Tom,
panting but happy, had almost reached the gymnasium when Steve
recollected his engagement with Marvin.
I've got to go back, he said in dismay. I promised Marvin to see
him after practice.
There he comes now, said Tom, nodding toward where the little
quarter was approaching with Mr. Robey and Andy Miller. Steve stopped
beside the path and Tom fell back to wait for him.
I forgot you wanted me to wait, Marvin, said Steve apologetically,
as the trio came up.
Oh, that's all right, Edwards. I forgot myself. Another day will do
just as well. I didn't know we were to have scrimmage to-day.
You keep up that stuff you showed to-day, Edwards, said Mr. Robey,
and we'll have you on the second the first thing you know. Then his
glance passed Steve to Tom. You too, Hall. I watched you. You're doing
well. Keep it up.
The three went on, and Steve and Tom silently followed. Neither
spoke until they reached the steps. Then,
I'm awfully glad, said Tom.
So am I, replied Steve heartily. Bet you you'll make the second
before the week is out.
I meant about you, Steve, said Tom simply.
CHAPTER XII. CANTERBURY ROMPS
But existence at Brimfield Academy wasn't all football, by any
means, nor all fun. There was a lot of hard work mixed up with the
play, and both Steve and Tom found that an immense amount of study was
required of them. They each had thirty recitations a week, and in both
Greek and Latin their preparation at high school had, not unnaturally,
been deficient. That meant hard sledding for a while. Tom realised the
fact before Steve would, and so spared himself some trouble. Steve
resented the extra study necessary and for the first fortnight or so
trusted to luck to get him through. And for a time luck stood by him.
He had a way of looking wise in class that imposed for a while on
Uncle Sim, as Mr. Simkins was called, but after Steve had fallen down
three or four times the instructor scented the truth of the matter and
then Steve's life became a burden to him. Mr. Simkins took delight, it
seemed, in calling on him at the most unexpected moments until, one
day, in sheer desperation, Steve gave utterance to the answer not
prepared. That was to Uncle Sim what a red rag is to a bull! There was
a scathing dressing-down then and there, followed by a visit that
evening from Mr. Daley. Steve was secretly uneasy, for more than one
story of summary justice on the part of the Greek and Latin instructor
had reached him, but he presented a careless front to the Hall Master.
Mr. Daley was plainly eager to help, but, as usual, he was embarrassed
and nervous, and Steve, who had taken a mild dislike to him, resented
The stuff's too hard, he said in answer to Mr. Daley's inquiries.
Look at the lesson we had to-day, sir; all that and this, over to
here; sight reading, too. And two compositions so far this week! I just
didn't have time for it last night, and so when he called on me to-day
I told him I wasn't prepared. And then hehe ragged me in front of the
class and gave me a page and a half to write, beside to-morrow's
lesson. I can't do it, and that's all there is to it!
Eryes, yes, I see. I'm sorry, Edwards. Now, let us have a look at
this. Yes, there's quite a lot of it. Youahyou didn't have much
Latin before you came here, I take it?
Had enough, growled Steve, but nothing like this. I've had Caesar
and some Cicero. I never had any luck with Latin, anyway. And Steve
viewed the open book with distaste.
It's the quantity, then, you findahdifficult, said Mr. Daley.
As far as grammar is concerned, I take it you areahwell grounded,
I suppose so. But look at the length of the lesson we have!
Yes. Very true. But, of course, to complete a certain amount of
work in the year it isahnecessary to do quite a good deal every
day. Now maybe youahhaven't been really setting your mind on this.
I know in my own case that I very often find myselfahskimping, so
to speak; I mean going over a thing without really getting theahthe
meat out of it. I'm almost certain that if you really settled your mind
on this, Edwards, that you'd get along very well with it. Suppose now
that you give twice as much time to it to-night as you usually do. If
some other study must suffer, why, let it be your French and I will let
you by to-morrow if you aren't well prepared. AndahI wish when
you've been over this you'd come down and let meahgo over it with
you lightly. I thinkI think that would be an excellent idea,
Oh, I'll try it, grumbled Steve, but it isn't any use. And look
at what I've got to translate for him!
Yes, yes, I see. Wellahbring your book down after awhile and
we'll see what can be done. How are you getting on, Hall?
Pretty well, sir. I find it a bit stiff, too, but maybe after
awhile I'll get the hang of it.
That's the way to talk! exclaimed the instructor approvingly.
Thatahthat is the right attitude, Hall. Make up your mind that it
will come and it will come. We all have ourour problems, and
the only way to do is toahface them and ride straight at them. So
often, when we reach them, we find themahwe find them so very much
more trivial than we had supposed. They're likelike hills seen from a
distance that look terrifically steep. When weahreach them we find
them easy grades after all. You see what I mean? Yes, yes. Well, I
shall expect you in my study later, Edwards. I want youboth of you,
that isto realise that I am very eager to be of assistance at any
time. Possibly I can't help very much,butahI am most willing,
Silly chump, growled Steve when the door had closed behind Mr.
Daley. I wishahhe'dahmind his ownahbusiness!
But Tom didn't smile. I think the chap means to be awfully decent,
Steve, he said thoughtfully. The trouble is, I guess, he's scared to
death of the fellows. You can see that in class.
He's a regular granny, replied Steve. Wish he had this stuff to
do. I guess he wouldn't be so light and airy about it!
You'll go down and let him help you, though, won't you? asked Tom
Oh, I suppose so. He can do the whole thing if he wants to. Where
is my dictionary?
With Mr. Daley's help, freely offered and grudgingly accepted, Steve
weathered that crisis. And secretly he was grateful to the Hall Master,
though he still pretended to believe and possibly did half believe that
the latter was a sort of mollycoddle. Tom told him indignantly once
that since Mr. Daley had been so awfully decent to him he ought to stop
poking fun at him. To which Steve cheerfully made answer that even a
mollycoddle could be decent at times!
Brimfield played Canterbury High School on a Wednesday afternoon in
early October and had a good deal of a scare. Canterbury romped on to
the field like a bunch of young colts, and continued to romp for the
best part of three ten-minute periods, long after Brimfield had decided
that romping was no longer in good taste! Led by a small, wiry,
red-headed quarter-back, who was likewise captain, and directed from
the side-line by a coach who looked scarcely older than the big youth
who played centre for them, the Canterbury team took the most
astounding liberties with football precedents. They didn't transgress
the rules, but they put such original interpretations on some of them
that Mr. Conklin, who was refereeing, and Mr. Jordan, instructor in
mathematics, who was umpiring, had their heads over the rules-book
nearly half the time! Now and then they would march to the side-line
and consult the Canterbury coach. Where do you get your authority for
that play? Mr. Conklin would ask a trifle irritably. Thereupon,
silently but with a twinkle in his eye, the coach would gravely take
the book, flip the pages, lay a finger on a section and return it.
Hm, Mr. Conklin would say. Hm; but that seems to be in direct
contradiction of another rule over here!
Quite likely, the coach would reply indifferently. There are
quite a few contradictions there. Of course, you may accept either rule
you like, gentlemen.
Disarmed in such wise, the officials invariably decided the play to
be legal, and Quarter-back Milton, of Brimfield, would protest volubly
and get very, very red in the face in his attempt to carry his point
and, at the same time, omit none of the respect due a faculty member!
It was hard on Milton, that game, and several times he nearly had
Then, too, Canterbury did the most unexpected things at the most
inopportune moments. When Brimfield expected her to rush the ball she
was just as likely to get off a kick from close formation. When the
circumstances indicated an attack on the short side of the field
Canterbury's backs swung around the other end. When a close formation
was to be looked for she swung her line half across the field, so
confusing the opponents that they acted as though hypnotised. The
forward pass was to Canterbury a play that afforded her infinite
amusement. She used it in the most unheard of locations; in midfield,
under the shadow of her own goal, anywhere, everywhere and almost
always when least expected. At the end of the second period Brimfield
trotted away to the gymnasium dazed and tired of brain, with the score
7 to 0 against her.
The surprising thing about the visitors was that they played as
though they were just having an afternoon of good fun. They romped,
like boys playing leap-frog or follow-my-leader. They romped up the
field and they romped down the field and, incidentally, over and
through and around their opponents. And the more care-free and happy
Canterbury became, the more anxious and laboured grew Brimfield. The
Maroon-and-Grey reminded one of a very staid and serious middle-aged
party with a grave duty to perform trying to restrain the spirited
antics of a small boy with no sense of decorum!
When the second half began, Canterbury added insult to injury.
Instead of booting the pigskin down the field in an honest and earnest
endeavour to obtain distance, she deliberately and with malice
aforethought, dribbled it on the bias, so to speak, toward the
side-line. Benson, right end, should certainly have got it, but he was
so perplexed that he never thought of picking it up until a Canterbury
forward had performed the task for him and had raced nearly twenty
yards down the field! It was an unprecedented thing to do, or, at
least, unprecedented at Brimfield, and the audience voiced its
disapproval strongly. But as the ball had gone the required ten yards
there was nothing to do but smilea trifle foolishly, perhapsand
accept the situation. And the situation was this: Canterbury had kicked
off and gained over thirty yards without losing possession of the ball!
But in one way that play was ill-advised. Brimfield had stood all sorts
of jokes and pranks from the enemy with fairly good grace, but this
enormity was too much. Brimfield was peeved! More than that, she was
really angry! And, being angry, she forgot that for twenty minutes she
had been outplayed and started in then and there to administer a
licking to the obstreperous small boy.
Even then, however, Canterbury continued to romp and enjoy herself.
She found hard sledding, but she worked down to Brimfield's eight-yard
line before she was finally halted. Then her right half romped back for
a try at goal and joyously booted the ball. But, to the enormous relief
of the onlookers, the ball went under the bar instead of over, and
Canterbury romped back again. That third period was very evenly
contested, Brimfield, smarting under a sense of wounded dignity,
playing well together and allowing Canterbury no more opportunities to
attempt scores. The visitors, still untamed, sprang strange and weird
formations and attacks. A favourite trick was to start a play without
signals, while one of her men was ostensibly tying a shoe-lace yards
away or requesting a new head-guard near a side-line. It invariably
happened, though, that the shoe-lace was tied in time to allow the
youth to get the ball on a pass and attempt a joyous romp around the
opponent's end. There was no scoring in the third period, but the
whistle blew with the pigskin down on Canterbury's twenty-five yards
and Brimfield with four to go on third down.
As there was no practice that afternoon, Steve and Tom saw the game
from the grand stand, with two cronies named Draper and Westcott.
Draper's first name was Leroy and he was called Roy. He was a
tow-haired youngster of fifteen with very bright blue eyes and a
tip-tilted nose that gave him a humorously impertinent look. He, like
Steve and Tom, was a Fourth Former. His home was in Pittsburg,
Pennsylvania, and, while Pittsburg was a good hundred miles from
Tannersville, the fact that they were citizens of the same glorious
commonwealth had drawn he and Steve together. Harry Westcott was a year
older and came from a small town in Connecticut. He was Roy's room-mate
in Torrence. He had a slim, small-boned body and a good-looking face
with an aquiline nose and a pair of very large soft-brown eyes. His
dark hair was brushed straight back from his forehead and was always
very slick. Harry was what Roy called a fussy dresser and affected
knickerbockers and golf-stockings, negligee shirts of soft and delicate
hues of lavender or green or blue and, to quote his disrespectful
room-mate once more, symphonic ties. Harry was the embodiment of
aristocratic ease and always lent a tone to any gathering. He
maintained an air of what he probably considered well-bred composure
and tabooed enthusiasm. Harry never declared that a thing was bully"
or fine and dandy; he mildly observed that it was not half bad.
This pose amused him, doubtless, and entertained his friends, and
underneath it all he was a very normal, likable chap. It was Roy Draper
who broke the strained silence that had endured until the whistle put
an end to the third period.
I wouldn't give a cent for Canterbury's chances in the next
period, he said. Look at Andy's face, fellows. It has the
'blood-lust' on it. When Andy looks that way something has just got to
He looks annoyed, assented Harry.
You'd be annoyed if you had your lip cut the way his is, chuckled
Do you think we'll beat them? asked Tom anxiously.
Nothing can save them, replied Roy conclusively. Andy has his
It took him long enough to get it up, grumbled Steve. He let
those fellows run rings around us in the first half.
That's his foxy way. Now he's got them all tired out and we'll go
in and rip 'em up. You watch!
There's Marvin going in for Milton, announced Tom. Say, those
chaps haven't made a change in their line-up yet.
One, corrected Harry. They put in a new right guard last period.
They're a funny lot, seems to me. You'd think they were having the time
of their lives.
I like that, though, said Roy. After all, you know, this thing of
playing football is supposed to be amusement.
It's a heap more like hard work, though, replied Harry. Not that
I ever played it much.
Did you ever play at all? asked Roy.
Once or twice at grammar school. It was too fatiguing, though.
I'll bet it was, chuckled Roy. I'd like to see you playing, old
I did, though; played right half-back. A fellow stuck his elbow
into my face and I knocked him flat. Captain said it was part of the
game, you know, and I shouldn't have done it. I said that any fellow
who bumped my nose would have to look for trouble. Then the umpire put
me off and the game lost a real star.
Here we go, said Steve. Now let's see if they can carry it over.
They didn't, however, just then. Canterbury held finely in the
shadow of her goal and Marvin's forward pass to Captain Miller went out
at the twelve-yards. But Canterbury was forced to punt a moment later,
and Brimfield took up the march again. On the adversary's thirty-yard
line, with six to go on the third down, Norton, full-back, attempted an
impossible drop-kickhe was standing over forty yards from the
cross-barand made it good.
What did I tell you? demanded Roy, digging Steve with his elbow.
That's only three points, though, answered Steve doubtfully. We
couldn't make a touchdown.
It isn't over yet, said Roy confidently. We're getting better all
Canterbury gave the ball to Brimfield for the kick-off and Fowler
booted it down to the opponent's fifteen yards. Andy Miller was under
it all the way and upset an ambitious Canterbury back before he was
well started. Canterbury tried two plunges and then punted from her
twenty-five-yard line to Brimfield's fifty. Marvin caught and brought
the stand to its feet by reeling off twelve yards across the field
before he was downed. Then Brimfield found herself and went down the
gridiron by steady plunges, plugging the Canterbury line for good gains
from tackle to tackle. Norton, at full-back, was the hero of that
period. Time after time he took the pigskin and landed it for a gain.
Marvin, cool and heady, ran the team beautifully, and when four minutes
of playing time remained, Brimfield was again knocking at Canterbury's
door, the pigskin on the latter's eighteen yards.
First down! proclaimed Roy triumphantly. Here's where she goes
over, old thing!
Let her go, replied Harry. I'm watching.
I hope they don't try another silly field-goal, muttered Steve.
Not on first down, they won't. Bully work, Norton! Did you see it?
Three yards easily!
Then Marvin himself cut loose for four around left end and the
Canterbury coach hustled three substitutes on. But Brimfield was not to
be denied now. It was first down on Canterbury's seven yards, and, with
the spectators yelling like Indians, Kendall, right half, took the ball
on a delayed pass, found an opening outside right tackle and slipped
through and over the line for six more points.
Captain Miller kicked goal and the score stood 10 to 7. Another
minute of play followed, with Brimfield again pushing the high school
team before her, and then the game was over and the quartette on the
stand thumped each other elatedlyall save Harryand ambled down to
join the throng that spread over the field on its homeward way.
What did I tell you? asked Roy. You can't fool your uncle!
You hate yourself, don't you? drawled Harry. Come on over to the
room, you fellows.
Canterbury, having cheered the victor wholeheartedly, romped home.
CHAPTER XIII. SAWYER VOWS VENGEANCE
Miter Hill School followed Canterbury the next Saturday and was an
unexpectedly weak opponent. The contest was slow and lifeless and
dragged its weary length along until almost twilight. Miter Hill's
players were in poor physical condition and, since the afternoon was
warm and close, made a poor showing. The weather affected Brimfield,
too, although she was not as susceptible to injury as the other team.
Miter Hill was forever getting hurt, it seemed, and the audience which
had braved a remorseless sun and a horde of blood-thirsty midges soon
began to grumble.
The game was further slowed down in the last two periods by the
substitution of half the members of the second and third squads for the
Maroon-and-Grey. Even Tom had a three or four-minute experience on the
'varsity, something which he had long ceased hoping for, while Steve
played nearly all of the fourth period at right end. He did very well,
there, although Miter Hill was too weak in all departments of the game
to afford any of her opponents a fair test. Toward the last the contest
degenerated into more or less of a farce, Miter Hill tuckered and
played out, and Brimfield, with a line-up of third and fourth
substitutes, fumbling and mixing signals and running around like a hen
with her head off!
By that time those who had remained so long began to view the game
as what it really was, a comedy of errors, and got lots of fun out of
it. When Peters, at centre, passed the ball at least two feet above the
upstretched hands of Harris, who wanted to punt, and at least nine
youths raced back up the field in pursuit of it, shoving, tripping,
falling, rolling, and when it was Peters himself who finally dropped
his one hundred and seventy-odd pounds on it, the onlookers rocked in
their seats and applauded wildly. Later on another dash of humour was
supplied when Carmine poised the ball for a forward pass only to
discover that no one of his side was in position to take it. The
quarter-back shouted imploringly, running back and across the field,
dodging two or three of the enemy and by some miracle holding the ball
out of harm's way all the while. When, at last, thoroughly desperate,
he heard someone shout from across the field to throw the ball, he
threw it, and not until the catcher had reeled off twenty yards or more
toward Brimfield's goal did Carmine discover that he had been cruelly
deceived by the Miter Hill right end! Even Mr. Robey, who had been
viewing the game rather grimly, had to swing on his heel to hide a
smile at that fiasco. But, if the subs didn't do much in the way of
attack, they at least held the enemy from crossing their line, and the
weird contest at last came to a close with the one-sided score of 26 to
On Monday there was a fine shake-up, for the Miter Hill game, if it
had not held any thrills, had at least shown up many faults, individual
and otherwise. Several second squad men went to the first as
substitutes, Fowler was shifted from left tackle to left guard on the
first and two members of the third squad were advanced to the second.
These latter were Freer, half-back, and Hall, guard. Tom was both
surprised and delighted, while seriously doubting the coach's wisdom.
Later, when he found that Steve had not secured promotion as well, most
of his delight vanished.
I don't see why they put me on the second, he said, and left you
on the third. I don't play half the game you do, Steve.
Steve tried hard to be gracious, but only partly succeeded. I dare
say they want guards and don't want ends, he replied. Of course
you've been doing good work, Tom, and deserve promotion and I'm awfully
glad you've got it, but, just the same, I don't think I'm getting a
I don't either! I wish they'd left me alone and taken you on.
Peters says Robey will be disbanding the third squad in a week or so,
too. Of course they'll put you on the second before that, though.
I don't believe they will, replied Steve morosely. I dare say
I'll be dropped entirely. I thought I was getting on pretty well, but
Marvin evidently doesn't think so. I'm getting kind of sick of it,
anyway, Tom. I wish I'd stayed at home. I could have if I'd made a good
That was a hard week for the 'varsity, for Coach Robey had every man
on the team, with the possible exceptions of Miller and Innes,
guessing. Men came in from the second squad, were tried out and usually
let go again. All sorts of shifts in the line and back-field were
tried. On Wednesday, Eric Sawyer, who had been looked on as a fixture
at right guard, found himself ousted by Gafferty, from the second, and
a member of the bench brigade. Sawyer didn't like that at all. It was
a terrific blow to his pride and self-esteem, and for many days he was
like a bear with a sore head. As a matter of fact, although Sawyer
didn't suspect it, his deposal was in the nature of a taste of
discipline. Sawyer had been too certain of his place and had grown
careless. At the end of a week he went back again, with the warning
that he would have to show more than he had been showing if he was to
stay there. It was while he was still decorating the bench, however,
that Steve again fell foul of him.
The unseasonably warm weather held well into the middle of October,
and it was one evening a day or two after Sawyer's removal from the
regular line-up that Steve and Tom, rather fagged from an hour's study
in a close room, picked up Roy and Harry and went over to the gymnasium
for a dip in the tank. The swimming tank was a favourite resort of the
younger fellows between eight and ten at night, but, for some reason,
the older boys seldom appeared there in the evenings. To-night, though,
when the quartette, having changed into swimming trunks, reached the
tank they found five upper-class fellows swinging their bare legs from
the side of the pool and amusing themselves by criticising the antics
of the youngsters. There was Eric Sawyer, Jay Fowler and three others
whom neither Steve nor Tom knew save by sight. The tank was well
populated, for the warmth of the evening made the thought of cool water
very agreeable, and there was much noise and splashing going on.
Steve and Harry went in from the spring-board at the deeper end of
the pool, while Tom and Roy dived from the floor. A couple of tennis
balls were flying around in the tank and the newcomers were soon taking
their parts in the fun. Presently the group of older fellows, having
grown tired of guying the kids, dived into the water. Getting
possession of one of the balls, they tried to keep it to themselves,
and soon there was a merry and good-natured battle on between the five
big chaps on one side and the younger occupants of the tank on the
other. The echoing room rang with laughter and excited cries as the
contending sides swam and floundered for the possession of the tennis
ball. The big chaps had their hands full, for they were outnumbered
four to one, but age and strength counted for them and not infrequently
a youngster, rather than undergo a ducking at ungentle hands, yielded
the ball and swam away with squeaks of terror. But there were others
who fought valiantly enough, taking punishment laughingly when it came
and pressing the older fellows closely. Steve was one of the more
daring of the enemy and never hesitated to dispute the possession of
the ball with anyone. Once when it came skipping along half the length
of the tank, he went after it hand over hand, only to miss it when Eric
Sawyer reached it an instant ahead of him. Sawyer, grinning, drew back
the hand holding the tennis ball.
Want it, kid? he asked.
Steve, guessing what was coming, dived, but he was not quick enough
and the ball landed with a round smack on his right ear. A wet tennis
ball, thrown from the distance of a few feet, is capable of hurting
considerably, and Steve, dashing the water from his face, felt very
much as though he had been kicked by a mule and had difficulty in
keeping the tears from his eyes.
Get it? laughed Sawyer.
Yes, and so will you, gasped Steve. The ball lay bobbing about a
yard away and he grabbed it. Sawyer turned and struck out across the
tank, only his head above water. Steve, thoroughly angry, aimed at him,
changed his mind and swam after him, to the awed delight of the others.
Sawyer, thinking he had removed himself from danger, turned at the side
of the tank to look back. The next thing he knew the ball struck him
fairly on the nose, and, with a howl of pain and surprise, he
disappeared under the water.
Swim, Edwards! shrieked the youngsters. He'll get you!
Steve did turn away, but it seemed too much like running and so he
paused, treading water there, while the angry face of Sawyer popped
into view again. The ball had bounded away and been captured by one of
the youngsters, but Sawyer didn't look for it. With a leap he started
toward Steve. The latter realised that Sawyer meant to wreak vengeance,
and that the matter had got past the stage of fun. Here, it seemed, was
a time when discretion was the better part of valour, and Steve dived.
Fortunately, he was a good swimmer. Turning quickly under water, he
raced toward the far end of the tank. Dimly he heard shouts and
laughter above, but he didn't come to the surface until twenty long
strokes had taken him far away from where Sawyer, at a loss, was
casting about the middle of the tank for him. His reappearance was
heralded by shouts of applause from the younger fellows, many of whom,
scenting real trouble, had scrambled out of the water. Sawyer, warned
of Steve's whereabouts, looked down the tank, saw him and started
pell-mell after him. Again Steve went under, swam cautiously toward the
side until he could see the white tiles within reach and then edged
back the way he had come. He tried to reach the shallow end of the tank
before taking breath, but the effort was too great, and when he stuck
his head out for an instant he found that those at the edge of the tank
had been following his under-water progress and were shouting and
laughing down at him from above. More than that, however, their
interest had appraised Sawyer of his whereabouts, and even as Steve,
blinking the water from his eyes and replenishing his lungs, looked
about him, his pursuer almost reached him.
Scorning concealment now, Steve made straight for the shallow end of
the pool. Swimming like his was a revelation to many of those who saw
it and a hearty burst of applause followed him all the way to the
ladder, which he gained several yards in advance of Sawyer. Steve
darted up the rungs and ran to the side of the tank, the fellows
scattering out of his path. Sawyer pulled himself out of the water and
followed, puffing with anger and exertion.
Oh, let him go, Eric, advised Fowler. You can't catch him.
Yes, forget it, advised others.
But Sawyer had no idea of forgetting it. I'll break his silly head
for him, he growled as he followed Steve around the edge. Then began a
chase that was both exciting and amusing. Egged on by the laughing
spectators the two boys raced around the pool, Steve managing to keep
always one lap ahead, slowing down when Sawyer showed signs of
faltering and sprinting when the older boy, gathering fresh energy,
went on again. It was a stern chase with a vengeance and might have
lasted all night or until one or the other dropped in his tracks had
not one of Sawyer's comrades taken a hand in the game.
Steve, breathing hard but good for many more circuits of the track,
came trotting along one side of the pool where the youth in question
stood with Fowler. There was a clear space of three feet between him
and the edge, but just as Steve drew abreast the older chap stepped
forward in his path, and Steve, trying to dodge around him, slipped on
the tiling and fell sidewise into the water. Sawyer, with a grunt of
triumph, plunged in from the opposite edge and was on Steve in a
Now, you fresh kid, exclaimed Sawyer angrily, seizing Steve's neck
in a big hand as soon as his head came up, you're going to get what's
coming to you!
Steve, battling for breath, gasping and gurgling, tried to wrench
away, but the clasp on his neck was too strong for his efforts and down
he went, squirming and struggling, until his head was under water. He
managed to reach around and get a grip of Sawyer's bathing trunks, but
that was small advantage. The big fellow had him at his mercy. Steve's
head was throbbing when at last he was allowed to lift it out of the
water again, gasping for breath. But the grip on his neck didn't relax.
He was conscious that the laughter had died away, conscious of Sawyer's
grinning face beside him, and then down he was plunged again without
warning, just managing to draw a little breath into his aching lungs
before the water closed over him. It seemed that his tormentor held him
down longer this time, and when, at last, he found the lights in his
eyes again and could breathe once more, he was ready to give up the
struggle. He had long since released his hold on Sawyer's trunks, and
now his hands were clasped desperately about the other boy's wrists.
And yet when Sawyer's growling voice said in his ear, Had enough, kid?
Beg my pardon? Steve managed to shake his head.
Want more, eh? asked Sawyer. All right, kid! The clasp on his
neck tightened again and he felt himself being once more thrust
downward. And then, suddenly, he was free, and when, fighting his way
back to the surface, he looked dazedly, there was Tom clinging to
Sawyer's neck, thrashing and squirming.
You let him be, you big bully! Tom was saying. You let him be!
Let go of my neck, you silly little fool! gasped Sawyer, striving
to break the boy's hold.
You let him be! gurgled Tom, half-drowned but clinging like a
limpet. You let him be, you big bully!
Then the two went under and Steve, recovering his breath, wrenched
them apart somehow and pulled poor Tom to the side of the tank. Sawyer,
breathing with difficulty after Tom's choking grasp about his neck,
floundered to the edge, got a sustaining grip on the rim of the tank
and glared angrily at the two boys.
I'll get you for this, you smart Alecks, he declared chokingly.
You're too fresh, both of you. Don't you know better than to grab a
fellow around the neck in the water, you fool kid?
But Tom was too far gone to answer. That's what you did, isn't it?
Steve demanded. That's a funny way to talk!
It is, is it? sneered Sawyer. I'll show you something that is
funny some time, and don't you forget it!
Still growling, he swam away toward the nearer ladder, while Steve,
with Roy and Harry and others helping, lifted Tom out of the tank and
then followed himself. Tom was very, very sick there for a minute and
the younger fellows were properly sympathetic and indignant. Presently
they half carried Tom back to the locker room and helped him into his
clothes, and then, Roy and Harry in attendance, Steve conveyed him back
to Billings and laid him on his bed, a very weak but now quite cheerful
He nearly drowned me, didn't he? he asked with a grin. But I
choked him good, you bet! Bet you his old neck will be sore for a week,
You want to keep away from him for awhile, said Harry with a
direful shake of his head. He's a mean chap when he's mad.
Huh! grunted Tom. So'm I!
CHAPTER XIV. A LESSON IN TACKLING
One direct result of that affair in the tank was that Steve found
himself something of a school celebrity because of his swimming
prowess. Within a few days he had good-naturedly agreed to give
instruction to some half-dozen acquaintances and might have taken on a
half-dozen more had he had the time for it. But there was only an odd
hour or two during the day for swimming and he soon found that,
although he got a good deal of fun out of instructing the others, it
was taking too much of his time. It was Roy's suggestionRoy being one
of the most enthusiastic pupilsthat those who wanted instruction
should be on hand at a given hour each day. The suggestion was adopted,
and Edwards's Swimming Class soon became a recognised institution. Five
o'clock was the hour set, at which time the tank was not much used, and
Steve, having returned from football practice, donned swimming trunks
and repaired to the pool where he usually found from four to a dozen
boys awaiting him, since, by attending to them all at once, he could
look after a dozen as easily as a few. Most of the pupils were boys of
from thirteen to seventeen, although there were two older fellows in
the class, Jay Fowler and Hatherton Williams. Both were Sixth Formers
and both were football men. Mr. Conklin, the physical director, gave
enthusiastic endorsement and encouragement. Brimfield had never
supplied instruction in swimming, something which the director had long
regretted, and Mr. Conklin, could he have had his way, would have made
attendance at Steve's swimming class compulsory for the younger boys
and so have instituted a new feature in the course of physical
instruction. But Steve, willing to teach a few fellows who could
already swim the finer points of the science, balked at teaching the
rudiments to a half-hundred water-shy youths who would have to be
coaxed and coddled. Mr. Conklin tried his best to persuade him, but
Steve refused firmly.
They had a whole lot of fun during that swimming hour. Fowler and a
younger chap named Toll were the more accomplished performers in the
class, barring Steve himself, and every session ended with several very
earnest races in which Fowler, allowing Toll a five-yard handicap,
usually nosed out the younger boy in a contest of four times the length
of the tank. Then there was generally a free-for-all, the fellows
lining up on the edge of the pool, diving at the word from Steve and
swimming to the further end, where, after touching the wall, they
turned and hustled back to the start. Sometimes when football practice
had been more than usually gruelling, Steve stayed out of the water and
instructed from the floor, but more often he went in with the others
and followed them in their practice swims. Naturally it was the fancy
diving and the racing strokes that most of the fellows wanted to learn,
but Steve, who had never in his life before tried to teach anyone
anything, displayed a good deal of hard common-sense as an instructor
and insisted that each of his pupils should master one thing thoroughly
before taking up another. The result was that, barring one or two
fellows who would probably in any case have failed to become expert
swimmers, the class made really remarkable progress, and there came a
time, although it was considerably later in the school year, when both
Jay Fowler and Hatherton Williams could equal most of Steve's feats.
Tom started with the class, wisely deciding after his experience
with Eric Sawyer that the ability to keep one's head out of water was a
fine thing to have. But Tom was not cut out for a human fish and soon
gave it up. Roy Draper learned fairly well. He tried to induce Harry to
join the class, but Harry preferred to stay with Tom and look on from
the floor. When winter set in, Steve's class increased in numbers until
in January he was conducting the natatory education of more than two
dozen fellows. It was Mr. Conklin who arranged for an exhibition the
latter part of the winter and Steve was very proud of his pupils' work
on that occasion. It was held one Saturday afternoon and everyone
attended, including even Josh, more formally known as Mr. Joshua
Fernald, the principal. There was fancy diving and swimming, a short
game of water polo and all kinds of races, beside which Steve showed
some six or eight different strokes, swam the length of the tank under
water and performed other quite startling feats to the delight of his
audience. Mr. Fernald shook hands with him afterwards and said several
very nice things. But all this is far beyond my story, and I am only
telling of it because it led the following autumn to the installation
of a swimming instructor at Brimfield and the addition of swimming to
the list of required studies for the boys of the four lower forms.
The instructor came to the school twice a week and put in two very busy
hours there. So you see that fracas between Steve and Eric Sawyer that
evening strangely enough resulted in important consequences and, since
a knowledge of swimming is a most useful one, worked for good.
But there were other consequences of that fracas as well, and I must
get back to those. Larchville Academy followed Miter Hill on
Brimfield's schedule and administered the first defeat of the season to
the Maroon-and-Grey. It wasn't so much that Brimfield played poorly as
that Larchville played unusually well. The visitors presented an
aggregation of big, well-trained youths who, most of them having been
on their team the previous year, were far in advance of Brimfield in
the matter of season development. Larchville's performance was what one
might expect in November, but scarcely looked for in the second week of
October. Her men played together all the time and her team-work stood
out in strong contrast to that of Brimfield, who had scarcely begun as
yet to develop such a thing. The final score was 17 to 3, and the only
consolation was found in the fact that Larchville's end of it might
well have been much larger. Brimfield's three points came as the result
of one really brilliant advance for half the length of the field
followed by a neat place-kick by Williams. The rest of the game was
very much Larchville, and Brimfield was on the defence most of the
And, to give credit where it belongs, it was Eric Sawyer who, back
in his position at right guard, held his side of the line firm on two
anxious occasions when Larchville was striving to hammer out touchdowns
under the shadow of her opponent's goal. On the whole, Brimfield played
good football that day and no one justly came in for adverse criticism.
Captain Miller, at left end, was spectacular under punts and played his
usual hard, steady game. Innes at centre was impregnable until the
final period. Williams, if a trifle weaker than his opponent, made up
for it by scoring the three points for his side. Benson, at right end,
was less successful than Captain Miller, but was good on the defence.
The back-field, although inclined to go it every man for himself,
showed up well, especially when the enemy was in possession of the
ball. Milton, the first-choice quarter-back, ran the team like a
general, while Norton, the big full-back, proved the only consistent
gainer through the line. In spite of the fact that she had met with
defeat, Brimfield found encouragement in that contest, and, after the
first few minutes of regrets, spent the rest of the day unstintedly
praising her warriors.
There was only light practice the following Monday for those who had
taken part in the Saturday game, a fact which once more allowed Coach
Robey to give a good deal of attention to the second and third squads.
Steve was playing right end regularly now on the third, and Tom was
alternating at left guard on the second. The third squad was now down
to only eleven members, and when, after a hard hour of signal work and
fundamentals, the second and third were lined up for a ten-minute
scrimmage, Marvin had to borrow substitutes as needed from the second.
There was no scoring that day, but there was an awful lot of hard work.
Steve made one or two good plays down the field, but, as usual, was
weak on stopping the runner when he reached him. After they were
dismissed, Marvin stopped him as he was trotting off with the others.
I say, Edwards, are you very tired? he asked.
N-no, I guess not, Steve replied.
Then I wish you'd stay out a few minutes and let me try to show you
about tackling. Steve glanced distastefully at the dummy and
doubtfully at Marvin. But the latter smiled and shook his head. Never
mind the dummy, Edwards, he said. We'll have our fun right here. I'm
going to be the dummy and you're to stop me. Did they take all the
balls away? Never mind, we'll imagine the ball. Now, first of all I'm
going to show you how I'd handle you if you were the runner. Stand
where you are, please.
Marvin dropped in front of Steve and threw his arms about his legs
just above the knees. There's your position, Edwards, he explained.
You see I have my body in front of you. You've not only got to work
against my grip around your legs but you've got to push against my
weight and resistance. Try it.
Steve did try it, but he could only shuffle an inch or two.
See? asked Marvin. Now, then, having tackled you, it's up to me
to put you down. If I let you come forward of your own impetus you'll
fall toward my goal, and by stretching out your arms you'll put the
ball two yards nearer the goal than where you stand. Of course you
wouldn't risk holding the ball at arms' length unless there was a
possibility of getting it across a goal-line by doing it. But even if
you hold the ball at your stomach you'll gain a yard by falling
forward. Now my play is to throw you the other waylike this!
With a heave Marvin sent Steve toppling backward, much to that
youth's surprise. Marvin jumped lightly to his feet, held out a hand to
the other and pulled him up.
See how it's done? he asked cheerfully. Now you try it. Never
mind diving; just drop where you are on your hip. That's it! Swing your
arms around tight! Higher up, though. Remember if you're playing end
the rules prohibit you from tackling a runner below the knees. That's
better. Now, then, over with me!
But it wasn't so easy. Marvin, smuggling an imaginary ball in his
arms, struggled and twisted and it was all Steve could do to keep him
from gaining ground, to say nothing of throwing him back.
[Illustration: Lift! instructed the quarter-back. Lift me up and
yank my feet out from under me! Use your weight and throw me back!]
Lift! instructed the quarter-back. Lift me up and yank my feet
out from under me! Use your weight and throw me back!
But in trying to lift the other, Steve allowed Marvin to slip past
him and the quarter fell forward instead of backward.
Try again, said Marvin. It's got to be all one motion, so to say,
Edwards. Get your man, wrap your arms around him and heave. Sometimes
you can't do better than stop him. If he's coming hard, you won't be
able to put him back. He's got to be more or less erect to make that
go. But do it whenever you can. Now, then, once more! Down you go!
That's the stuff! Bully work! Don't be afraid of hurting me! Put me
Steve actually did it that time and was so pleased that he was
grinning all over his face when Marvin scrambled to his feet again.
That was a lot better. Once get the idea fixed in your head,
Edwards, and it'll come easy. You'll do it without a thought. Once more
now, and put some ginger into it. Here I come!
Marvin walked a couple of steps forward, Steve dropped and gripped
his knees, heaved and over went the quarter. A dozen times Marvin made
him practise it, and then,
All right, he said. Now I'm going to run toward you, Edwards. I'm
going to get by you if I can, too. You've got to do your best to stop
me. Don't try any flying tackles, and remember that you've got to have
one foot on the ground when you get me. All right now!
Steve was glad they had the gridiron practically to themselves, for
he cut a poor figure the first three times that he tried to reach the
elusive quarter-back. Once Marvin caught him with a straight arm and
sent him toppling out of his path, once Marvin dodged him completely,
twirling on one heel and darting past him beyond reach, and once the
little quarter-back wrenched himself loose after being tackled. But the
fourth time Steve was more successful, and after that he reached the
runner every time even if he didn't always stop him short. Even when
Steve had his arms gripped tightly about Marvin's knees, the latter was
almost always able to somehow make another yard or two before he was
willing to call Down! But Steve learned more in that half-hour than
he had learned all the season, and when, after awhile, the two boys,
panting and perspiring but satisfied with themselves, walked back to
the gymnasium, Steve had the grace to thank Marvin.
That's all right, replied the other. I knew you could play the
game, Edwards, if you could once get the hang of making a decent
tackle. And I knew, too, that the trouble with you was that you'd just
sort of made up your mind that you couldn't learn, that you didn't
understand what I've been trying to show you. There won't be any third
squad after the middle of the week, Edwards, and if you hadn't shown
something more than you've been showing in the tackling line I couldn't
conscientiously have sent you up to the second.
That was mighty decent, muttered Steve.
Well, you mustn't take it as a personal favour, Edwards, answered
Marvin with a smile, although I'm glad to do it for you. You see, I
don't want to let any good material get away. And I think you are good
material, and if there was any possibility of your being of use to the
second squad I wanted to get you there. Now, to-morrow we'll have
another go at it, and the next day too, and every day until you can
tackle a runner as well as you can handle a ball or play in the line.
Is that a bargain?
Yes, replied Steve heartily. And thanks, Marvin.
CHAPTER XV. STEVE WINNOWS SOME CHAFF
Two days later the third squad ceased to be and all but four of its
members retired to private life. Of those four, one was Steve. Steve
went on to the second team as substitute end. With him went Carmine,
Peters and Saunders, while from the second a batch of half-a-dozen
youths disappeared. That was the eighteenth of October. The candidates
who had survived this final cut were safe to finish the season out. Of
them some twenty-four were on the 'varsity and sixteen on the second.
The preliminary season was ended, and with the next game, that with
Benton Military College, which was to be played at Hastings-on-Sound,
the serious work might be said to begin.
The second, under Brownell, became a separate aggregation, moved to
its own training table in the dining-hall, had its own signals and
practised on its own gridiron. It even had its own coach, for a
graduate named Boutellesoon shortened to Bootsappeared on the
scene and took command. Boots was a rather large man of thirty-odd
years who had graduated from Brimfield before the days of football
there. He had learned the game very thoroughly, however, at college,
and was enthusiastically eager to impart his knowledge. He was a friend
of Mr. Robey, and it was understood that he was giving his services as
a favour to the head coach. But it was soon evident that he was
thoroughly enjoying it, and he entered into his task with heart and
soul. In fact he was so anxious to develop a good team that one of the
first things he did was to unwittingly fall foul of the faculty. The
third day there he announced that until further notice there would be
morning practice between ten and twelve for all who could attend it.
Morning practice lasted one day. Then faculty drew the attention of Mr.
Boutelle to the rule which forbade the use of the athletic field to
students during recitation hours. Mr. Boutelle was disgusted and tried
to argue about it with the principal, but had to give in finally. But
in spite of being required to limit practice to the afternoon hours,
the second came fast and there were some very pretty games between it
and the 'varsity in those days.
Steve started in as a second choice right end, a chap named Sherrard
having first claim to the position. Tom was plugging along at right
guard and doing well. He was a trifle light for the place, but he was a
steady player and a heady one and it took him less than a fortnight to
oust his rival from the position. Tom was a surprise both to himself
and to Steve. Steve had never taken his chum very seriously as a
football player, probably because Tom was not the spectacular sort, but
he was forced to acknowledge now that the latter had beaten him at his
The members of the second didn't see the Benton game for the reason
that Boots wouldn't consider it at all. What, waste an afternoon
looking on when they might be holding practice? Not if he knew it! But
the absence of some sixteen members of the second team didn't keep
Brimfield from being well represented at that contest, for most every
other fellow in school journeyed across to Hastings-on-Sound with the
'varsity and witnessed a very good, if in one way unsatisfactory, game.
For Brimfield and Benton tussled with each other through four
ten-minute periods without a score. Perhaps Benton had slightly the
better of the argument, although not many Brimfieldians would
acknowledge it. At least, it is true that Benton came nearer to scoring
than her adversary when, on Brimfield's five-yard line, she lost
possession of the ball by a fumble. On the other hand, Brimfield tried
one field-goal from an impossible angle and missed.
The next Monday, with several of the regulars out of the 'varsity
line-up, the second won a 6 to 0 victory, and Boots, choosing to
ignore the 'varsity's weakness on that occasion, requested the second
to observe what could be accomplished by making the most of their
opportunities to practice! The fellows, quite as well pleased as their
coach, although not taking to themselves so much credit as he accorded
them, smiled, and said, Yes, sir, very politely and winked amongst
themselves. But they liked Boots; liked him for his enthusiasm and
for the tireless energy he displayed in their behalf. If you can't make
the 'varsity it is at least something to be able to help develop it,
and that is what the second was doing, very loyally and gladly. And
when in the process of aiding in its development it was possible to
beat it, the second shook hands with itself and was cock-o'-the-walk
for days after!
Steve, like most others on the second, had relinquished hope of
getting on the 'varsity. A month ago he would have scornfully refused
to consider anything less than a position on the first team, but Steve
had had his eyes opened not a little. There was a difference
between the sort of football played by Brimfield and the kind played by
the Tannersville High School team, and Steve now recognised the fact.
Perhaps he secretly still thought himself deserving of a place on the
'varsityfrankly, I think he didbut whereas a month ago he would not
have hesitated to make the fact known, he had since learned that at
Brimfield it was not considered good form to blow your own horn, as the
But if he was disappointed at falling short of the final goal of his
ambition, he was nevertheless having a very good time on the second.
There was a lot of fine fellows there and the spirit of camaraderie was
strong, and grew stronger as the season progressed. The second was
perhaps almost as proud of their organisation as was the 'varsity of
theirs, and when, the week after the Benton game, they once defeated
and twice tied the other team, you might have thought they had
vanquished Claflin, so haughty and stuck-up did they become!
Steve played under a severe handicap that week, for once more he and
Uncle Sim were at outs. With Mr. Daley's assistance and
encouragement, and by a really earnest period of application on his own
part, he had successfully weathered the previous storm and had even
been taken into Mr. Simkins' good graces. But football is a severe
taskmaster, if one allows it to become such, and what with a strong
desire to distinguish himself on the secondanimated to some extent by
the wish to show Mr. Robey what he had missed for the 'varsityand a
commendable effort to profit by Marvin's teaching, he had soon begun to
ease up on his Greek and Latin, which were for him the most difficult
of his courses. And now Uncle Sim was down on him again, as Steve put
it, and on the eve of the Cherry Valley contest he was in a fair way to
have trouble with the Office. Mr. Simkins' patience, perhaps never very
long, was about exhausted. He had reason on his side, however, for
Steve was by no means the only student who was in difficulties at that
time. On Friday morning Mr. Simkins had indulged in sarcasm.
Well, well, he said, leaning back in his chair and folding his
hands, I dare say it is too much to require you young gentlemen to
study when it is such fine weather for football. What a pity it is that
lessons and play conflict, is it not, Wilson?
Wilson was too canny to make audible reply, however, and the
instructor proceeded blandly.
I wonder if Mr. Fernald would postpone recitations until after you
have finished football for the year. I think I'll suggest it to him.
For, really, you know, this sort of thing is only wasting my time; and
yours too, young gentlemen, for you might be out kicking a
leather-covered bag of wind around the ground instead of sitting here
cudgelling your poor brainseh? Let us say heads, rather. The evidence
is too slight to warrant the use of the first wordcudgelling your
heads, then, trying to 'fake' lessons you've never looked at. I
sympathise with you deeply. I commiserate. II am almost moved to
tears. My heart goes out to you, young gentlemen.
Mr. Simkins looked so sad and woebegone that the older boys, who
knew him well, trembled in their shoes. The room was very silent. With
Mr. Simkins the storm was always in proportion to the calm, and the
present calm was indeed portentous. The instructor fought for a moment
with his emotions. Then he sighed.
Well, until we have permission to discard recitations, I presume we
must go on with them, such as they are. His gaze roved sympathetically
over the class, most of whom showed a strong desire to escape his
attention. Finally, Edwards, he said softly and, as it seemed to
Steve, maliciously, let us proceed with the dull and untimely lesson.
Kindly translate the tiresome utterances of this ignorant man who
preferred wisdom and eloquence to athletics and football, Edwards. You
may begin where yourhmbrilliant predecessor regretfully left off.
For the moment, pray, detach your thoughts from the verdant meadows and
the sprightly football, Edwards. Andahdon't, please don't
tell me that you are not prepared. Somehow that phrase afflicts my
ears, Edwards, and were you to make use of it I should, I fear, be
driven toahstrong measures. Now, Edwards, if you will be so kind.
Well, Steve was not prepared, as it happened, but he knew
better than to say so, and, putting on an expression of confidence and
pleasure as though Mr. Simkins had offered him the rarest of
privileges, he plunged bravely into a paragraph of Cicero's Orations.
But it was hard going and he was soon stumbling and hesitating, casting
about desperately for words. A long, deep sigh travelled from the
That will do, Edwards, said Mr. Simkins sorrowfully. Your
rendering is novel and interesting. It is, possibly, an improvement on
the original matter, but the question very naturally arises, Edwards,
whether we have the right to improve on Cicero. Of course he had his
limitations, Edwards, and his faults, and yetMr. Simkins shook his
head slowly and thoughtfullyon the whole, Edwards, I think perhaps
we should accept him as we find him, viewing his faults with a leniency
becoming great minds, tolerating much, Edwards, for the sake of
theahoccasional golden kernel to be detected in his mass of chaff
by such giant intellects as yours. You do detect an occasional
kernel of sense, Edwards?
Steve, miserably pretending a huge interest in the cover of his
book, forebore to reply.
You don't? Mr. Simkins seemed both pained and surprised. But I
assure you they are there, Edwards, few in number perchance, but really
to be found. Perhapshmperhaps it would be a pleasant, at all events
a profitable, occupation for you to make an earnest search for them. If
you will see me after class, Edwards, I shall esteem it a pleasure to
indicate a few pages of chaff for you to winnow. Thank you. Pray be
That was why Steve was in anything but an enviable frame of mind
that Friday evening. Mr. Simkins had pointed out exactly four pages of
chaff for his winnowing, and the winnowing was to be done with pen and
ink and the occasional golden kernels indicated by Steve on the
margin of his paper. Steve was angry and depressed.
What's the use of trying to get along with him? he demanded of
Tom. He has it in for me, and even if I had every lesson down pat he'd
be after me all the time just the same. If it wasn't forfor the team
I'd quit right now.
Don't be a chump, replied Tom good-naturedly. You know yourself,
Steve, you haven't been studying lately.
Well, where's a fellow to get time to study? asked Steve. Look at
what I have to do this evening!
You won't do it if you don't sit down and get started, said his
chum soothingly. You tackle the other stuff and then I'll help you
with that Latin. I guess we can get through it together.
It'll take me an hour to do those six pages, grumbled Steve. I
wish Simkins would choke!
Steve got by on Saturday, with difficulty, but had a hard time of it
when the instructor requested him to give his reasons for selecting
certain passages of the immortal Cicero as being worthy of especial
commendation. The rest of the class found it very amusing, but Steve
failed to discern any humour in the proceedings. Fortunately, Mr.
Simkins was merciful and Steve's martyrdom was of short duration. After
that, for a few days at least, Steve's Latin was much better, if not
The game with Cherry Valley deserves only passing mention. Viewed
beforehand as a severe test of the Brimfield team's defence, the
contest proved a walkover for the Maroon-and-Grey, the final score
standing 27 to 6. Cherry Valley was weak in all departments of the
game, and her single score, a touchdown made in the fourth period, was
hammered out when all but two of the Brimfield players were first and
second substitutes. Of Brimfield's tallies two were due to the skill of
Hatherton Williams, who twice placed the pigskin over the bar for
field-goals, once from the twenty-five yards and once from near the
forty. The Brimfield backs showed up better than at any time in the
season, and Norton and Kendall gained almost at will. There was still
much to criticise and Mr. Robey was far from satisfied with the work of
the eleven as a whole, but the school in general was vastly pleased.
Coming a week after that disappointing 0 to 0 game with the military
academy, the Cherry Hill game was decidedly encouraging.
So far Erie Sawyer had treated both Steve and Tom with silent
contempt whenever he encountered them, although his scowls told them
that they were by no means forgiven. Naturally, since Eric was on the
'varsity and the two chums on the second, they saw each other
practically every afternoon on the field or in the gymnasium. But it
wasn't difficult to avoid a real meeting where so many others were
about. Roy Draper pretended to think that Eric was only biding his
time, waiting for an opportunity to murder the two in cold blood, and
delighted to draw gruesome pictures of the ultimate fate of his
I guess what he will really do, he said on the Sunday afternoon
following the Cherry Valley game when he and Harry Westcott were in
Number 12 Billings, is to decoy you both over to the Sound some fine
day and drown you.
Just how will he manage it? asked Tom, who was tumbling everything
in the room about in his search for a mislaid book.
He will probably tie heavy weights to your necks and drop you into
a deep hole in the ocean, replied Roy promptly. Then you will be
eaten by sharks.
And what would we be doing all the time he was tying the weights to
us? asked Steve sarcastically.
Nothing, because he'd chloroform you first, returned Roy
triumphantly, much pleased with his readiness. You'd be insensible.
Meaning without sense, murmured Harry. It wouldn't take much
Huh! Don't you talk! said Steve. You'll never have brain-fever!
Ha! scoffed Harry. Sarcasm, the refuge of small intellects!
Come on, said Tom. It's nearly three-thirty. Bother Sawyer,
anyway. He's not troubling me any.
That's all right, replied Roy, as he got up from the window-seat,
but when you wake up some fine morning and find yourself bathed in
your own life's blood you'll wish you'd listened to me.
I can't help listening to you. You talk all the time. Besides, I
shouldn't call it a fine morning if I woke up dead. II'd think it was
a very disagreeable day! Are you coming, Steve?
I suppose so, replied Steve with a groan. I wish practice was in
Halifax, though. I'm tired to-day. He got up from his bed, on which he
had been lying in defiance of the rules, and stretched himself with a
You'll be tireder when the first gets through with us, said Tom
grimly. Robey will sick all his subs on us to-day, I guess; and subs
always think they have to kill you just to show how good they are.
If anyone tries any funny-business with me to-day he will get in
trouble, growled Steve as he pulled his cap on and followed the others
through the door. I just hope someone will try it on!
Tom's prediction proved correct. The first-string men were given
easy practice and faced the second for only ten minutes in scrimmage.
Then they were trotted off to the gymnasium and the 'varsity
substitutes took their places. Steve relieved Sherrard at right end in
the second period and played so poorly that he received more than one
calling-down by Boots. His temper seemed to be in a very ragged
condition to-day, and he and Lacey, who played at left tackle on the
first, got into several rumpuses in which hands were used in a manner
not countenanced by the rules of football. Finally, Steve was sent off
to make way for a second substitute, who played the position so well
during the few minutes that remained that Steve became even more
disgruntled. When practice was over he joined Tom, Roy and Harrythe
latter pair having watched proceedings from the standand made his way
to the gymnasium in a very poor state of mind. Roy, who didn't believe
in humouring folks, tried to twit Steve on his scrapping with Lacey,
but Steve flared up on the instant and Roy was glad to change the
subject. After that, Steve was gloomily silent until the gymnasium was
As chance had it, the first-string fellows had just completed
dressing and begun to leave the building as the others arrived there,
and Steve, leading the way through the big door, collided with a boy
who was on his way out. There was really plenty of room for the two to
pass each other, but Steve was not in a frame of mind to give way to
anyone and the result was that the other chap received the full force
of Steve's shoulder.
Who are you shoving? demanded an angry voice.
Steve turned and confronted Eric Sawyer. Don't take all the room if
you don't want to be shoved, answered Steve belligerently. Eric was
accompanied by a younger fellow, who instantly withdrew to the safety
of the further side of the hall. You're too big, anyway, continued
Steve. Tom and the others, at his heels in the open doorway, gasped and
stared at Steve in amazement. Eric's countenance depicted a similar
emotion for an instant, and I think he, too, gasped. Then he sprang
forward and gave Steve a push that sent him staggering away from the
You fresh kid! he growled. You keep out of my way after this or
you'll get hurt. I've stood about all of your nonsense I mean to!
Steve leaped back with clenched hands and flashing eyes, but Harry
stepped between, while Tom and Roy caught hold of Steve.
That'll be about all, Sawyer, said Harry quietly. You can't fight
a fellow a head smaller than you, you know.
Don't you butt in, growled Eric. I don't intend to fight him, but
I'll give him a mighty good spanking if he bothers me any more. Come
Steve, struggling against the grasps and pleas of Tom and Roy,
strove to get between Eric Sawyer and the door. Spank me, will you?
he said angrily. You let me be, you fellows! Take your hands off me!
I'll show him he can't push me around!
I won't push you the next time, laughed Eric contemptuously. I'll
turn you over my knee! You, too, you other freshie. He glared at Tom,
but Tom was too busy with Steve to make reply. You want to both of you
keep away from me after this.
And, with a final scowl, Eric went out, followed by his companion
who ventured a weak and ingratiating smile as he passed. By that time
the hall was half-full of curious spectators, and Steve, finding his
enemy gone, allowed himself to be conducted to the stairway.
I'm not through with him yet, he declared. I'll teach him to push
me around like that!
Oh, cut it! said Roy disgustedly. Don't be a silly ass, Steve.
You began it yourself and you got what was coming to you. A nice fight
you would put up against Sawyer!
It's no affair of yours, replied Steve hotly. No one asked you to
butt in on it, anyway. You too, Tom! The next time you keep out of my
affairs. Do you understand?
Tom said nothing, but Roy shrugged his shoulders as they entered the
locker room. If you want to make a fool of yourself, all right, Steve.
I won't interfere again. Don't worry.
I'm no more of a fool than you are, responded Steve. You fellows
make me sick. Just because Sawyer's a little bigger, you let him kick
you all over the shop.
He's never kicked me, drawled Harry. But if he tried to I'd run.
I may not be a hero, but I know what's what! Put your head under the
cold water tap, Steve.
Steve replied to that advice with a scowl, and Harry and Roy turned
back to make their way upstairs again and across to Torrence.
He acted like a silly kid, said Roy crossly.
Yes, he was in a beast of a temper to-day, anyway. Wonder what's
the matter with him. He's like a bear with a sore head. He had pluck to
stand up to Sawyer, though. I'd have run.
So would he, probably, if he hadn't been so mad, chuckled Roy.
You can be awfully brave if you get mad enough! Then he added more
seriously: Sawyer will get him some day surely, after this.
Oh, Sawyer isn't as bad as he's painted, I guess, replied Harry.
The trouble with Steve is that he's pig-headed or something.
He fancies himself a bit, said Roy. He will get over it after
he's been here longer. You can't help liking him, though, and I'll be
sorry if he gets out.
Why should he get out? asked Harry in surprise.
Roy shrugged. Maybe he won't, but he will if he doesn't get a hunch
and buckle down to study. 'Uncle Sim' has got it in for him hard. Some
fine day Steve will get an invitation to the Cottage, Josh will tell
him a few things, Steve will get lumpy andgood-night! You see if it
doesn't turn out that way.
Why the dickens doesn't he study, then? grumbled Harry. He's got
Oh, sure, he's got the brains, answered Roy as he held open the
door at Torrence, but he hasn't discovered yet that there's someone
else to think of besides Steve. If he doesn't want to do a thing he
won'tunless he's made to. Look at the way he played to-day! Just
because he felt lumpy he didn't think it was worth while to do anything
but scrap with that other chap. Folks won't stand for that very long
and some day Steve will wake up with a bang!
You going over to swim? asked Harry when they had reached their
Roy shook his head gently. Not this afternoon, I think, thanking
you just the same. I'd be afraid Steve would pull me under water and
drown me! Roy chuckled as he seated himself and, thrusting his hands
in his trousers pockets, surveyed his shoes smilingly. Poor old Steve!
He's in for a heap of trouble, I guess, before he gets ready to settle
down as a useful member of our charming little community.
Seems to me, said Harry, about the best thing you do to-day is
predict trouble for folks. You're as bad as What's-his-name's raven;
The gentleman's name was Poe, returned Roy sweetly. But perhaps
you've never studied American literature.
I thought Poe was a football hero at Princeton or somewhere,
laughed Harry. What did he ever do for American literature?
American history was more in his line, replied Roy. Football
history. Find your ball and let's go down and pass. I won't croak a
single, solitary croak, old thing.
CHAPTER XVI. MR. DALEY IS OUT
The reason for Steve's ill-temper was the receipt that morning of a
letter from his father. Mr. Edwards wrote that he had just been
informed by the principal that Steve's work was far from satisfactory.
He tells me, wrote Mr. Edwards, that your general attitude toward
your studies is careless and that in Latin especially you are not
keeping up with your class. Now I can't be worried by this sort of
thing. I give you fair warning that if you don't mend your ways you'll
be taken out of school and put to work here in the office, and there
won't be any more talk about college. If Mr. Fernald had said you were
not able to do the work, that would be another thing, but he distinctly
accuses you of not trying and not caring. I suppose the whole amount of
the matter is that you're paying too much attention to football. If I
get another complaint about you this year I shall write Mr. Fernald to
forbid you to play football or any other game until you show that you
mean business. If that doesn't bring you around I shall take you out of
school. Fair warning, Steve.
Steve knew his father well enough to be certain that he would do
just as he threatened, and the future looked particularly dark to him
that day. Of course, if he had plenty of time he could master his
Latinand his Greek, which was troubling him less but was by no means
a favourite courseas well as any other study, he told himself. But
there was so much to be done! And try as he might, he could never seem
to find time enough for study. If he gave up football it would,
perhaps, be easy enough, but, he asked himself bitterly, what was the
good of going to school and doing nothing but study? What was the good
of knowing how to play football if he wasn't to have a chance to use
his knowledge? It was all the fault of the faculty. It tried to get too
much work out of the fellows in too short a time. But these reflections
didn't help his case any. It was up to him to make good with Latin.
Otherwise his father would write to Josh, as he threatened, and there'd
be no more football. If he could get through the next month, by which
time the football season would be at an end, it would be all right.
After that he could give more time to lessons. He might, too, he told
himself, give up those swimming lessons. But they came at an hour when
it was terribly hard to get a fellow's mind down to study. And,
besides, he enjoyed those lessons. The only thing to do was to stay at
home in the evenings and keep his nose in his books. Tom didn't have
much trouble, he reflected, and why should he? Sometimes he got
thoroughly angry with Tom for the ease with which that youth mastered
To make matters worse, just at that time, there was due the last of
the week an original composition in French, designed by Mr. Daley as a
test for the class. French did not bother Steve much, although this was
partly due to the fact that Mr. Daley had been very lenient with him,
knowing that he was having trouble in the classical courses. But
writing an original composition in French was a feat that filled Steve
with dismay. What the dickens was he to write about? Mr. Daley had
announced that the composition must contain not less than twelve
hundred words. That approximated six pages in a blue-book. Steve
sighed, frowned, shook his head and finally shrugged his shoulders.
After all, there was no use worrying about that yet. There still
remained three days for the composition, and the most important thing
now was to make a showing in Latin. French could wait. If he didn't
find time for the compositionwell, Mr. Daley was easy! He'd get by
So Steve pegged away hard at his Latin for several days and made a
very good showing, and Mr. Simkins, who had been contemplating harsh
measures, took heart and hoped that further reports to the principal
would be unnecessary. But what with Latin and Greek and mathematics and
history and English, that French composition was still unwritten when
Thursday evening arrived. It had been a hard day on the gridiron and
Steve was pretty well fagged out when study hour came. He had told
himself for several days that at the last moment he would buckle down
and do that composition, but to-night, with a hard lesson in geometry
staring him in the face, the thing looked impossible. Across the study
table, Tom was diligently digging into Greek, his French composition
already finished and ready to be handed in on the morrow. Steve looked
over at him enviously and sighed. He hadn't an idea in his head for
that composition! After a while, when he had spoiled two good sheets of
paper with meaningless scrawls, he pushed back his chair. There was
just one course open. He would go down and tell Mr. Daley that he
couldn't do it! After all, Horace was a pretty reasonable sort of
chap and would probably give him another day or two. In any case, it
was impossible to do the thing to-night. He glanced at his watch and
found that the time was ten minutes to eight. Tom looked up inquiringly
as Steve's chair went back.
I'm going down to see 'Horace,' said Steve. I can't do that
French composition, and I'm going to tell him so. If he doesn't like
it, he may do the other thing.
Tom made no reply, but he watched his chum thoughtfully until the
door had closed behind him. Then he dug frowningly for a moment with
the nib of a pen in the blotter and finally shook his head and went
back to his book.
When Steve was half-way between the stairwell and Mr. Daley's door,
the latter opened and Eric Sawyer came out. Steve was in no mood
to-night to pick a quarrel and he passed the older fellow with averted
eyes, dimly aware of the scowl that greeted him. When he knocked at the
instructor's door there was no reply and, after a moment, Steve turned
the knob and entered. At the outer door Eric had paused and looked
Mr. Daley's study was lighted but empty. Satisfying himself on the
latter point, Steve turned to go out. Then, reflecting that, since the
instructor had left the lights on, he was probably coming right back,
he decided to await him. He seated himself in a chair near the big
green-topped table. Almost under his hand lay a blue-book, and in idle
curiosity Steve leaned forward and looked at it. On the white label in
the upper left-hand corner he read: French IV. Carl W. Upton. Original
composition. Steve viewed that blue-book frowningly, envying Upton
deeply. Upton, whom he knew by sight, was the sort of fellow who always
had his lessons and who was forever being held up by the instructor to
the rest of the course as a shining example of diligence. He roomed on
the floor above Steve. It was, Steve reflected, just like Upton to get
his composition done and hand it in in advance of the others. He
wondered what sort of stuff Upton had written, and lifted the blue-book
from the table.
En Revanche! he read as he turned to the first page. His lip
curled. That was a silly title. He dipped into the story. It was
something about a French soldier accused of cowardice by an officer.
Steve, puzzling through the first page, grudgingly acknowledged that
Upton had written pretty good stuff. But his interest soon waned, for
some of the words were beyond him, and he idly tossed the book back on
the table. He wished, though, that that was his composition and not
Upton's. He wondered if Mr. Daley had seen it. Somehow the position of
the book, in the geometrical centre of the big writing-pad, suggested
that Upton had found the instructor out and had left the book. If he
had that book upstairs it wouldn't be hard to copy the composition out
in his own hand-writing. It would be a whole lot like stealing, but
Steve looked fascinatedly at the book for a minute. Then his hand
went out and he was once more turning the pages of neat, close writing.
Of course, he wouldn't really do a thing like that, butwell, it would
solve a mighty big problem! And what a hole that self-sufficient Upton
would be in! He couldn't prove that he had left the book in Mr. Daley's
study, at least not unless the instructor had seen it there; and
somehow Steve was pretty sure he hadn't. Of course a decent chap
wouldn't do a trick like that, onlywell, it would certainly be easy
Upstairs, Tom was still deep in his Greek, but he looked up as Steve
came in. Find him? he asked.
Steve shook his head. No, he was out. II'll go down again.
Instead of reseating himself at the table, he fidgetted aimlessly about
the room, looked out the window, sat down on the seat, got up again,
went to the closet, returned to the table and stood looking down on Tom
with a frown. Tom closed his book with a sigh of relief and met his
Going to tackle that composition now? he asked encouragingly.
I guess so, answered Steve carelessly. Are you through?
Yes. I think I'll run over to Harry's a minute. I suppose you won't
Not likely, with this pesky thing to do. Steve sank into his
chair, picked up a pencil and drummed irritably on the table. Maybe,
though, he went on after a moment, I'll get up early and do it. I
don't feel much like it to-night.
Just the same, returned Tom as he picked up his cap, I'd do it
to-night if I were you and get it over with.
Oh, if you were me you'd had it done a week ago Tuesday, replied
Steve with vast sarcasm. I guess I'll go along.
How about your math? asked Tom doubtfully.
Steve shrugged. I'll get by, he answered. Anyway, I don't intend
to stay cooped up here all the evening. I'll have a go at it when I get
We-ell. Tom looked as though he wanted to advise against that
course, but he didn't. Instead, Do you mind waiting for me a minute?
he asked. I want to run down and ask Mr. Daley about something, if
he's back. Do you want to see him if he's there? I'll whistle up to you
if you like.
Steve shook his head indifferently. I'll see him when we come
back, he answered. Hurry up.
Tom was back in two or three minutes. Still out, he announced as
he put back on the table the French book he had taken with him. He's
getting a bit dissipated, I'm afraid, staying out after eight!
There's a faculty meeting to-night, I think, responded Steve. Are
He found his cap and followed Tom. In the corridor the latter
glanced back. Better turn out the light, he said. They've been after
the fellows lately about leaving it burning.
Grumblingly Steve stepped back and snapped the switch. Who's
monitor here, anyhow? he asked.
Upton, answered Tom. And they say he's right on his job, too.
He would be, growled the other. He's a regular teacher's pet. As
they went down the stairs Steve said: I came across Eric Sawyer in the
hall when I went down to find 'Horace'.
Really? asked Tom. Did hesay anything?
No. I didn't want any trouble with him to-night and so I made
believe I didn't see him.
That's the stuff, Tom approved. I guess if we leave him alone he
won't bother us.
I'm likely to bother him before I get through with him, replied
Steve darkly as they left the building. He can't shove me around as he
did and get away with it!
Oh, come, Steve! expostulated Tom patiently. You know very well
you shoved him first. What's the use of being sore about that?
He bumped into me, denied Steve. I didn't shove.
Well, you gave a mighty good imitation of it, replied Tom drily.
Seems to me it was about an even thing, and I'd forget it, Steve.
Maybe you would, muttered Steve, but I don't intend to.
CHAPTER XVII. THE BLUE-BOOK
It was almost half-past nine when they got back to the room. An hour
in the society of Roy and Harry had done wonders for Steve's spirits,
and on the way upstairs he cheerfully announced that he intended to
tackle that geometry before he went to bed. As Tom switched the light
on, Steve's glance encountered a piece of paper on the floor. It had
evidently been slipped in under the door.
Who's this from? he muttered as he bore it to the table. Someone
was too lazy to open the door and come in.
What is it? asked Tom, bending over Steve's shoulder.
It's from that idiot Durkin, chuckled the latter. 'Got just what
you fellows need. Shoe-blacking stand, two brushes, all complete.
Cheap. Come and see it. P. Durkin.'
A shoe-blacking stand! laughed Tom. Say, he must have seen your
Must have seen yours, you mean! Steve crumpled the note up and
dropped it in the basket under the table. I guess we don't want any
more of Mr. Durkin's bargains.
Still, this 'Morris' chair turned out pretty well, said Tom,
settling himself in it with a book. And perhaps if we had that thing
you'd keep your shoes looking better.
Well, there's one thing about my shoes, returned Steve
good-naturedly, and that is the heels are blacked. Which is more than
you can say of yours, my smart young friend.
Tom was about to deny the imputation when footsteps sounded in the
corridor and there came a knock on the door.
Come in, said Tom very politely. That step could only be Mr.
Daley's, he thought. And when the door opened he found his surmise
correct. Mr. Daley looked more nervous and embarrassed than usual as he
Good-evening, boys, he said. IerI wonder if I might speak to
you just a moment, Edwards.
I'll get out, Mr. Daley, said Tom, rising.
Erwell, if you don't mind, Hall; just for a minute. Thank you so
Tom went out, closing the door behind him, and Mr. Daley cleared his
Will you sit down, sir? asked Steve.
Erthanks, yes, just for a minute. IerI believe you called
this evening when I was out, Edwards.
Yes, sir, about eight.
Yes, yes. Sorry I was not in. I wonder ifif you happened to see a
blue-book on my table when you were there, Edwards.
Yes, sir, there was one there, replied Steve after an instant's
Ah, then Upton was not mistaken. He says he left one.
Unfortunately, I am not able to find it, Edwards. Youeryou don't
happen to know where it is, Edwards?
I, sir! Steve's tone was incredulous. Why, no, Mr. Daley. It was
on the table when I left, and
Erjust a moment! Mr. Daley held up a hand, smiling nervously. I
don't mean to suggest that you carried the book off intentionally,
Edwards, but it occurred to me that possibly you might haveertaken
it up by mistake, absentmindedly, so to say, anderbrought it up
here with you.
No, sir, I didn't. Steve looked at the instructor questioningly.
I don't see why you'd imagine that, sir, either.
Erwell, I knewthat is, someone told me that you were in my
room, Edwards, and I thoughtthat possiblyquite by accidentyou
I was in your room, Mr. Daley, and I waited two or three minutes
for you; maybe longer; and the blue-book was on the table when I went
in and it was there when I came out.
Youyou had a blue-book in your hand, however, did you not, when
A blue-book? No, sir.
Oh! That is strange, Edwards. You are certain you didn't take down
a blue-book of your own and bring it back again?
Absolutely sure, sir.
Butersomeone saw you leave my room, Edwards, with a blue-book
in your hand.
Steve flushed and his voice held an angry tremor as he answered:
Someone was mistaken, Mr. Daley, whoever he was. Seems to me, sir, if
the book is missing, you'd better ask that 'someone' about it.
Um; yes; maybe. Mr. Daley blinked embarrassedly. IerI thought
that perhaps you had brought down your French composition and had
possibly, in leaving, taken up Upton's book with your own by mistake.
Youeryou're quite sure that didn't happen, Edwards?
I'm positive, because I haven't done my composition, sir.
Haven't done it?
No, sir, replied Steve a trifle defiantly.
Buterit's pretty late, and you know they are to be handed in
to-morrow, Edwards. You are having trouble with it?
II haven't started it yet. II just can't do it, Mr. Daley. I
never could do original things like that. That's why I went down to see
you. I wanted to ask if you'd let me have a couple more days for it.
You see, sir, I've been having a pretty hard time with Latin, andand
there hasn't been any time for the composition, sir.
I see. Mr. Daley viewed Steve dubiously. I'm sorry, Edwards. I'm
afraid you are notertrying very hard to accomplish your work these
I am trying, sir, butbut the Latin Steve hesitated. Mr.
Simkins is awfully hard on me, Mr. Daley, and
And I am not? Mr. Daley smiled sadly. And so you thought you'd
trust to myergood-nature, eh? Really, Edwards, you are asking a
good deal, you know. You've had nearly ten days for that composition; a
scant twelve hundred words on any subject you liked; and it seems to me
that if you had really wanted to do it you could have found the time. I
don't want to be hard on you, buterI'm afraid I shall have to
insist on your handing in that composition not later than to-morrow
noon. I have been very lenient with you, Edwards, very. Youeryou
must see that yourself. Buterthis sort of thing can't go on all the
term. You really must get down to work.
If I could have another day for it, begged Steve, I could get it
You have had ten days already; to be exact, nine and a half,
Edwards. I don't think I should make any exception in your case. I'm
Steve stared at his shoes, a somewhat mutinous expression on his
face. After a moment, It isn't fair to say I'm not trying, he broke
out. I am trying, but things are too hard here. They ask too
much work of a fellow. Why, if I was to get B's in all my courses I'd
have to study eight hours a day! A fellow wants to do something beside
stick in his room and grind, Mr. Daley. He wants to get out andand
play sometimes. If you're on the football team you don't have any time
in the afternoons and then, when evening comes, you're tired and
But you have time between recitations in the morning, Edwards, to
do some studying, do you not? Other boys manage to both work and play.
Why can't you? Look at your room-mate. I believe that he iseron one
of the football teams. He seems to get his lessons fairly well. I
presume that he has written his composition?
Of course. It is probably here somewhere. Mr. Daley's eyes
inspected the pile of books at his elbow, and the corner of a blue-book
met his gaze. This is doubtless it. He drew it forth. It doesn't
look such a herculean task, Edwards. Here are seven pages, rather more
than required, I'd say, and
Mr. Daley ceased abruptly, and, after a moment, Steve, who had been
gloomily regarding the floor, looked across. The instructor was
observing him strangely.
Do you know whose book this is, Edwards? he asked.
I suppose it's Tom's. It isn't mine, he added moodily.
It is Carl Upton's.
Carl Steve stared bewilderedly.
It seems that you must haveertaken it after all, Edwards.
But I didn't, sir! Tom will tell you that
He faltered, and a puzzled look came into his eyes as he regarded
the book in the instructor's hand.
Well, really, Edwards,Mr. Daley spoke lightly, but his
countenance was graveyou mustn't expect me to put it down to a
miracle. If you didn't put the book here on your table, who did? Unless
Hall knows something about it? Was he in my study this evening?
There was a bare instant of hesitation. Then, No, sir, replied
Eryou are sure? He might have called on me when you were out.
We were together all the evening, Mr. Daley.
Then The instructor cleared his throat nervously.
I guessI guess it's up to me, sir, said Steve.
Mr. Daley sighed. I think it must be. There was silence for a
moment. Then, Why? asked Mr. Daley gently.
I don't know, sir.
You couldn't have thought ofermaking unfair use of it?
I Steve hesitated again. Finally, Perhaps I did for a moment.
ButI shouldn't have, sir, he added earnestly.
I hope not, Edwards. Butwhy did you take it? Youermust have
known that it woulderbe missed.
ISteve seemed to be searching for an answerI just took it
toto get even with Upton.
To get even with him? He haserdone something, then,
Yes, sir. That is, wellI don't like him.
Mr. Daley observed Steve dubiously. At last, I wish I could believe
that explanation, Edwards, he said. As inexcusable as suchersuch
an action would be, it would still be preferable toto what I am
forced to suspect. But the whole thing is beyond me. The instructor
spread his hands in a gesture of despair. I can't understand it,
Edwards. After a minute, It must have been an accident, continued
Mr. Daley almost pleadingly. Youeryou perhaps mistook the book for
I didn't have any, muttered Steve.
Well. Mr. Daley cleared his throat. II must think it over. II
scarcely know what to say, Edwards. I'm sorry, very sorry. He arose
and moved to the door. Come and see me to-morrow noon, please.
Weermust talk this over again. Good-night, Edwards.
Good-night, sir. Steve stood up until the door had closed and then
sank back into his chair again, a very miserable look on his face.
What a crazy place to hide it! he murmured.
The door opened and Tom came in, Tom with an expression half
troubled and half humorous. What's up? he asked in a low voice.
Oh, nothing, replied Steve carelessly, avoiding Tom's eyes. He
jumped me because I hadn't done my comp. Says I must turn it in by noon
Is that all? Tom heaved a sigh of relief. When he asked me to get
out I thought it was something pretty serious.
Isn't that old composition serious enough? asked Steve with a
laugh that didn't sound quite true.
Yes, I suppose so. Look here, Steve, if you'll tackle it now, I'll
help you all I can with it. It won't take long. What time is it?
Have you done yours? asked Steve.
Yes, replied the other unenthusiastically. It's done, butbut I
guess it's pretty rotten. If I get a C on it I'll be doing well. I
thought maybe I'd go over it again, butI guess it'll have to do.
Where is it?
Here somewhere. Tom searched at the far end of the table and drew
a blue-book to light. Want to see it?
Steve took it and glanced over it, a puzzled frown on his forehead.
What's the matter? asked Tom. Don't you like it? I guess it is
pretty punk, though.
It's all right, as far as I know, answered Steve, returning the
book. OnlyI don't understand
Don't understand what? Say, you're as mysterious asasSherlock
Nothing. By the way, a funny thing happened. Steve wandered toward
the window, his back to Tom, When I went down to find 'Horace' I
picked up a blue-book that was on his table and brought it up here. It
was Upton's. II hadn't any recollection of doing it, but he found it
lying on the table. Of course I felt like a fool.
Oh, said Tom after a moment. Thatthat was funny. I didn't see
you bring it in with you. There was a note of constraint in his voice
that did not escape Steve.
I don't remember bringing it in, he replied. I saw it on the
table down there andand looked at it, had it in my hand, but I don't
remember bringing it up.
Funny, said Tom lightly. Diddid he say anything?
Oh, no. Of course I denied it at first, said I couldn't have taken
it, but he said I must have, unlessunless you had. He asked if you
were in his room and I said no.
But I was! exclaimed Tom. Don't you remember? I went down just
before we went out. But there wasn't any blue-book on his table then.
At least, I didn't see any.
Well, it doesn't matter. I told him you hadn't been there. II'd
let him think so, anyway. There's no use having any more bother about
the old thing.
Well, butyou're sure he wasn't waxy? Of course I didn't take the
book; you can prove that I didn't have it when I came back; but if he's
acting ugly about it, whyI'll tell him I was in there too. He can lay
it on me if he wants to. II think I'll tell him, Steve.
You keep out of it, answered Steve roughly. What's the use of
having any more talk about it? He's got the book and there's no harm
Tom considered a moment. Then, You're certain? he asked.
Certain of what?
Thatthat it's all right, that he doesn't blame you for it.
Oh, he knows I did it, but he doesn't mind. What time is it?
A quarter past ten. What are you doing?
Steve was ripping his bed to pieces. I want a couple of blankets,
he said. Haven't we some thumb-tacks somewhere?
Table drawer, replied Tom. What's the game?
I'm going to do that rotten composition. Steve climbed to a chair,
and with the aid of push-pins draped one of the blankets over the door
and transom. Then he pulled the window-shade close and hung the second
blanket inside the casement. There! Now if anyone sees a light in this
room they'll have to have mighty good eyes. You tumble into bed, Tom,
and try to imagine it's dark.
Bed? Who wants to go to bed? asked Tom, smothering a yawn. I'm
going to help you with it.
No, you're not, replied Steve doggedly. I'm going to do it and
I'm going to do it all myself if it takes me until daylight. Now shut
CHAPTER XVIII. B PLUS AND D MINUS
At half-past ten the next morning Mr. Daley hurried into the
class-room where French IV was already assembled, stumbled over the
edge of the platformthe boys would have gasped with amazement had he
neglected to do thatand took his seat. On one corner of the table in
front of him was a pile of blue-books. He drew it toward him and ran a
hand along the edges of the books.
Has everyone handed in his composition? he asked.
There was no reply and he seemed surprised. IerI am to
understand, then, that you have all turned your books in?
Still no dissenting voice. Mr. Daley's gaze travelled over the class
until it encountered Steve at the rear of the room. He opened his
mouth, hesitated, closed it again, cleared his throat and finally
pushed the pile of books aside.
Very well, he said. I shall mark these this evening. You
willerkindly get them to-morrow. Now then, 'Le Siege de Paris'; we
left off where, Upton?
At a few minutes past twelve Steve knocked at Mr. Daley's door, and,
obeying the invitation, entered. The instructor was seated at his desk,
a litter of blue-books in front of him and a pipe in his mouth. The
latter he laid aside as the boy appeared.
You said you wanted to see me, sir, said Steve.
Eryes, Edwards. Sit down, please. The instructor took up his
pipe again, hurriedly put it aside, seized a pencil and jotted
nervously on the back of a book. Finally,
Ierfind your composition here, he said. When did you write
Between half-past ten last night and two o'clock this morning.
Hm! Mr. Daley swung around in his chair, viewed the oblong of
landscape framed by the window for a moment and swung back again. There
was a faint smile about his eyes. Edwards, youerare a bit
disconcerting. I presume you know that the rules require you to be in
bed with lights out at ten-thirty?
Hm! And youerdeliberately transgressed that rule?
I didn't see anything else to do, Mr. Daley. You said I must turn
that in by noon and there wouldn't have been time this morning to do
Logically reasoned, my boy, but The instructor shook his head.
You mustn't expect me to compliment you on your performance, Edwards.
To perform one duty by neglecting another is hardlyercommendable.
If it were not that you had transgressed a rule of the school, Edwards,
I might compliment you quite highly. Your compositionIerI've been
glancing through itis really very good. I don't mean that you have
not made mistakes of grammar, for you have, lots of them, buteryou
have written a well-constructed anderwell-expressed narrative. What
Ierespecially like about it is the subject. You have written of
something you know about, something close at home, so to say. IerI
am not much of a swimmer myself, but I presume that the instructions
you have laid down here areerquite correct. In fact, Edwards, I'll
even go so far as to say that I fancy one might take this composition
of yours anderreally learn something about swimming. Anderif
you have ever tried to learn anything of the sortgolf, rowing,
tennisfrom a hand-book you will realise that that is high praise.
Yes, sir. Thank you.
I had decided to mark your composition with a B, Edwards. Perhaps
the many mistakes in grammar would ordinarily indicate a C, perhaps
even a C minus, but theerother merits of the exercise are so
pronounced that, on the whole, I think it deserves a B.
Thank you, sir.
Erjust a moment. The instructor held up a hand. I said that I
had decided to give you a B, Edwards. That, however, was before I had
learned when this was written. I shall now give it a D minus.
Youeryou understand why, Edwards?
I'm sorry, but Iermust take into consideration the facts in the
case. And those facts are that you neglected your work until the last
moment and then disobeyed one of the well-known rules of the school in
order to perform it. There is one other thing I might do. I might
credit you with a B on your exercise and report you to the Office for
disobeying the rules. ButerI think, on the whole, that the first
method is the more satisfactory. You understand, of course, that
anything under a C in this test is equivalent to failure?
Hm; exactly. Therefore, Edwards, you will be required to make up
nearly a month's work in French. I shall have to ask you to prove to me
that you are in line with the rest of the class. But you will have a
full week to do this and IerI suspect that you will not find it
very difficult. Mr. Daley took up a blue pencil and marked a large
D- on the corner of the blue-book. You might as well take this now,
Edwards. Bring me another composition not later than a week from
to-day, please. The instructor fluttered the leaves of a
memorandum-pad and made a note opposite a future date. I have not
corrected it, but, as you have it to do over, that is not necessary.
Mr. Daley leaned back in his chair and gazed for a minute at the
There is one other thing, Edwards, he said hesitantly. About last
night, you know; theerthe misappropriation of Upton's blue-book.
Have youerthought that over?
I suppose so, sir.
Hm! I should like to ask you one question and receive an absolutely
truthful reply, Edwards.
When you took that book to your room did you intend toermake a
wrong use of it?
No, sir. I saw the book on your table, Mr. Daley, andand it did
occur to me that it would be easy to copy it out in my own writing
andand turn it in as my work, sir. I read a little of it and put it
back on the table. But I don't at all remember seeing it again after
that, sir, and that's the truth. I haven't the slightest recollection
of having it in my hand when I left this room or of putting it on the
table upstairs. Andand I'd like you to believe me, sir.
I want to, Edwards, I want to, replied Mr. Daley eagerly.
Anderto-day your story sounds much more plausible. I can imagine
that, with the thought of your own composition in mind and doubtless
worrying you, you might easily haveerabsentmindedly picked that
book from the table here when you went out and taken it to your room
without being conscious of the act. I believe that to be quite
possible, Edwards, and I am going to think it happened just that way. I
have never observed any signs oferdishonesty in you, my boy, and I
don't think you are a liar. We will consider that matter closed and we
will both forget all about it.
Thank you, sir, replied Steve gratefully.
But, Edwards, this seems to me a good time to tell you
thaterthat your attitude towarderyour work and toward those in
authority has not been satisfactory. You haveerimpressed me as a
boy with, to use a vulgar expression, a grouch. Now, get that out of
your system, Edwards. No one is trying to impose on you. Your work is
no harder than the next fellow's. What you lack is, I presume,
application. IerI don't deny that possibly you are pressed for time
when it comes to studying, but that is your fault. Your football work
is exacting, for one thing, although there are plenty of fellowsI
could name twenty or thirty with whom I come in contactwho manage to
play football and maintain an excellent class standing at the same
time. So, Edwards, the fault lies somewhere with you, in you,
doubtless. Now, what do you think it is?
I don't know, Mr. Daley. Steve shook his head hopelessly. I want
to do what's right, sir, butbut somehow I can't seem to.
When you study do you put your mind on it, or do you find yourself
thinking of other things, football, for instance?
I guess I think of other things a good deal, replied Steve.
I guess so; football andand swimming andlots of things, sir.
There's a time for football and a time for study, Edwards. You will
have to first of allerleave football behind you when you come off
the field. Swimming, the same way. It won't work. I've seen it tried
too often, Edwards. Youeryou wouldn't want to have to give up
football, I suppose?
No, sir! Steve looked up in alarm.
But it might come to that, my boy. You're here to learn, you know,
and we would not be treating your parents fairlyor you eitherif we
allowed you to waste your time. Football is an excellent sport; one of
the best, I think; but it's only a sport, not aerprofession, you
know. All the knowledge of football in the world isn't going to help
you when you leave here and try to enter college. By the way, I presume
you intend to go to college, Edwards?
Then keep that in mind. Remember that you're getting yourself ready
for it. Perhaps that will make your work seem better worth doing. How
are you getting on with your Latin?
Very well, sir, just now.
Better see that 'just now' becomes 'all the time,' Edwards. Why,
look here! You can do the work set you and play football or baseball or
anything else if you'll make up your mind to it. You're a bright,
normal fellow, with the average amount of brains. Systematise, Edwards!
Arrange your day right. Mark down so many hours for recitations, so
many hours for study, so many hours for play, and stick to your
schedule. You'll find after awhile that it comes easy. You'll find that
youeryou'll miss studying when anything keeps you from it. When you
go out of here I want you to do that very thing, my boy. I want you to
go right up to your room, take a sheet of paper and make out a daily
schedule. And when you've got it done put it somewhere where you'll see
it. And stick to it! Will you?
Yes, sir; that is, II'll do my best.
Good! Mr. Daley held out a hand, smiling. Shake hands on it,
Edwards. You may not believe it, but half oferdoing a thing
consists of making up your mind to it! Well, that's all, I think.
Eryou'd better look me up this evening and we'll settle about that
French. Good-bye. Hope I haven't made you late for dinner.
Steve drew a deep breath outside the door, puckered his lips and
whistled softly, but it was a thoughtful whistle; as thoughtful as it
was tuneless, and it lasted him all the way upstairs and into his room.
Tom had gone, evidently having wearied of waiting for his friend to
accompany him to dinner. Steve's own appetite was calling pretty
loudly, but, having slipped the blue-book out of sight under a pile on
the table, he dropped into his chair, drew a sheet of paper to him and
began on the schedule. It took him almost a half-hour to complete it,
and he spoiled several sheets in the process, but it was finally done,
and, heading it Daley Schedule, with a brief smile at the pun, he
placed it on his chiffonier and hurried across to Wendell.
CHAPTER XIX. THE SECOND PUTS IT OVER
What do you know about that? demanded Tom the next day. 'Horace'
gave me a B on my comp! Of course, I'm not kicking, but I'll bet he
made a mistake. Maybe he got nervous and his pencil slipped!
Seems to me, returned Steve coldly, he knows better than you do
what the thing is worth. He's not exactly an idiot, you know.
Tom stared in some surprise. I didn't say he was an idiot, did I?
Considering the things you've said about 'Horace' I don't think you
need take that high-and-mighty tone!
Well, don't be a chump, then, replied Steve. If Mr. Daley gave
you a B you deserved a B.
Thanking you kindly, murmured Tom as he disappeared behind the
pages of the blue-book to digest the corrections and criticisms on the
margins. Steve's manner since the night he had remained up until
morning to write that composition had been puzzling. He had very little
to say to Tom, and when he did speak, spoke in a constrained manner
quite unlike him. And more than once Tom had caught Steve observing him
with an expression that he couldn't fathom. There was something up,
that was certain, but what it was Tom couldn't imagine. It wasn't that
Steve was cross or disagreeable. For that matter, his disposition
seemed a good deal improved. But he was decidedly stand-offish and
extraordinarily quiet. Tom wanted to ask outright what the trouble was,
but, for some reason, he held back. As the days passed, Steve's manner
became more natural and he ceased looking at Tom as though, to quote
the latter's unspoken simile, he was a new sort of an animal in a zoo!
But some constraint still remained, and, after awhile, Tom accepted the
situation and grew accustomed to it. By that time he had grown too
proud to ask for an explanation. The two chums spent less time together
as a result, Steve becoming more dependent on Roy for companionship and
Tom on Harry. When they were all four together, which was very
frequently, it was not so bad, but when Steve and Tom were alone
conversation was apt to languish.
Tom at first was inclined to blame Steve's Daley Schedule for the
change, for that schedule had quite altered Steve's existence. He lived
by a strict routine which he followed with a dogged determination quite
foreign to his ways as Tom knew them. He got up on time in the morning,
reached the dining-hall almost as soon as the doors were opened, spent
a scant twenty minutes there and then went directly back to his room to
browse over his recitations for the day. Once Tom found him there
hunched up in a corner of the window-seat while the chambermaid,
viewing his presence distastefully, draped the furniture with bedding
and did her best with broom and duster to discourage him from a
repetition of the outrage. Between ten and eleven on three days a week
Steve put in an hour of study in the room. On other days he managed to
snatch two half-hour periods in the library between recitations. At six
he was almost invariably awaiting the opening of the doors for dinner,
and well before seven he was at his table again. Usually he studied
until nine, although now and then he closed his books at half-past
eight and followed Tom to Number 17 Torrence. Roy called him the Prize
Grind and interestedly inquired what scholarship he was trying for.
Steve accepted the joking with a grim smile.
It wasn't easy. For the first few days he had to drive himself to
his work with bit and spur. His feet lagged and he groaned in
spiritperhaps audibly, tooas he approached his books. But he did
it, and little by little it became easier, until, as Mr. Daley had
predicted, it had become a habit with him to do certain things at
certain hours and he was uncomfortable if his routine was disarranged.
I don't think Steve ever got where he loved to study, but he did
eventually reach a pride of attainment that answered quite as well. He
found as time went on that it was becoming easier to learn his lessons
and easier to remember them when learned, and by that time he had
taught himself to command over his thoughts, and when he was struggling
through a proposition in geometry he wasn't wondering whether he would
beat out Sherrard for the position of regular right end on the second
before the season was over. In other words, he had learned
But all this was not yet. That first week, in especial, was hard
sledding, and that French composition almost drove him to distraction
and gave him brain fever before it was done. But done it was and on
time, and, while the best that Mr. Daley would allow it was a C plus,
Steve was distinctly proud of it. And in that week he demonstrated to
the instructor's satisfaction that he was up with the class in French.
I think Mr. Daley was very willing to be convinced and that he met
Steve quite half-way. Latin was still a bugaboo to Steve, but it, too,
was getting easier. On the whole, that schedule, backed by a grim
determination, was making good.
Meanwhile football pursued its relentless course. Every day the
first and second fought it out for gradually increasing periods and
every day the season grew nearer its close and the Claflin game, the
final goal, loomed more distinct. Phillips School came and went and
Brimfield marked up her fifth victory. Phillips gave the
Maroon-and-Grey a hard tussle, and the score, 12 to 0, didn't indicate
the closeness of the playing. For Brimfield made her first touchdown by
the veriest fluke and only gained her second in the last few minutes of
play, when Phillips, outlasted, weakened on her six-yard line and let
Norton through. On the other hand, Phillips had the ball thrice inside
Brimfield's twenty yards, missed a field-goal by the narrowest of
margins and, with the slightest twist of the luck, might have proved
Boots had hammered the second into what Mr. Robey unhesitatingly
declared to be one of the best scrub teams he had ever seen, and there
was more than one contest between it and the 'varsity that yielded
nothing to an outside game for hard fighting and excitement. Steve and
his rival, Sherrard, were running about even for the right end
position. Steve's tackling had improved vastly under Marvin's tutoring,
and it was his ability in that department that possibly gave him a
shade the better of the argument with Sherrard. So far there had been
no decided slump in the playing of either team, and, since a slump is
always looked for at some time during the season, both Mr. Robey and
Danny Moore were getting anxious. Danny almost begged the fellows to go
stale a little. It ain't natural, he declared. It's got to come, so
let it and have it over with. Neither had there been any injuries of
moment. On this score Danny had no regrets, however. He was a good
trainer and prided himself on his ability to condition his charges so
that they would escape injuries.
Of course there had been plenty of bruisesone mild case of
charley-horse, several dislocated or sprained fingers, a wrenched ankle
or two and any number of cuts and scrapes, but none of the injuries had
interfered with work for more than three or four days and not once had
any first-string member of the 'varsity missed an outside game by
reason of them. Steve's share of the injuries was a bruised shoulder
sustained in a flying tackle that was more enthusiastic than
scientific, and the thing bothered him for several days but did not
keep him off the field. Tom, who played opposite Jay Fowler in
scrimmage, was forever getting his countenance disfigured. Not that
Fowler meant to leave his mark, but he was a big, powerful,
hard-fighting chap and there were plenty of times when both parties to
the practice games quite forgot that they were friends. Tom was seldom
seen without a strip of court-plaster pasted to some portion of his
It was four days after the Phillips game, to be exact, on the
following Wednesday, that the first and second got together for what
turned out to be the warmest struggle of the season in civil combat. It
was a cold, leaden day, with a stinging breeze out of the northeast,
and every fellow who wore a head-guard felt as full of ginger as a
young colt. The second trotted over from their gridiron at four and
found the first on its toes to get at them. Things started off with a
whoop. The second received the kick-off and Marvin ran the ball back
forty yards through a broken field before he was nailed. Encouraged by
that excellent beginning, the scrub team went at it hammer and tongs.
There was a fine old hole that day between Sawyer and Williams, and the
second's backs ploughed through for gain after gain before the opposing
line was cemented together again there. By that time the ball was down
near the 'varsity's ten yards and Captain Miller was frothing at the
mouth, while the opposing coaches were hurling encouragement at their
charges and the pandemonium even extended to the side-lines, where the
school at large, in a frenzy of excitement, shouted and goaded on the
Twice the first held, once forcing Harris back for a loss, and then
Marvin called for kick formation and himself held the ball for
Brownell. What happened then was one of those unforeseen incidents that
make football the hair-raising game it is. There was a weak spot in the
second's line and, with the passing of the ball to Marvin, the 'varsity
forwards came rampaging through. Brownell swung his leg desperately,
trusting to fortune to get the pigskin over the upstretched hands of
the charging enemy, but it swung against empty air. Marvin, seeing what
was bound to happen, fearing the result of a blocked kick, snatched the
ball aside just as Captain Brownell swung at it, rolled over a couple
of times out of the path of the oncoming opponents, scrambled to his
feet and, somehow, scuttled past a half-dozen defenders of the goal and
fell over the line for a touchdown.
The 'varsity afterwards called it bull-luck and fluke and
several other belittling names, but Boots said it was quick thinking
and football, by jiminy! At all events the second scored and then
leaped and shouted like a band of Comanche Indiansor any other kind
of Indian if there's a noisier sort!and generally rubbed it in.
After that you may believe that the 'varsity played football! But
nevertheless the first ten-minute period ended with the second still
six points to the good and her goal-line intact. The teams were to play
three periods that day and Boots ran four substitutes on the field
when the next one began. One of them was Steve.
It is no light task to play opposite the 'varsity captain and not
come off second best, but the consensus of opinion that evening was to
the effect that Steve had done that very thing. The wintery nip had got
into Steve's blood, I think, for he played like a tiger-cat on the
defence, ran like a streak of wind and tackled so hard that Coach Robey
had to caution him. Twice in that period the first came storming down
to the second's twenty yards and twice they were held there. Once
Milton was nailed on a round-the-end run and once Still fumbled a pass
and Freer fell on it.
Steve carried out his part of a forward-pass play with excellent
precision later and seemingly had a clear field and a touchdown in
sight for a moment. But Milton managed to upset him on the thirty
yards, and the gainSteve had negotiated four white lines before the
'varsity quarter got himeventually went for naught, since Marvin
fumbled a minute later and Sawyer squirmed through and captured the
Neither side scored nor came very near it in that period. Steve, who
was having the time of his life, beamed joyously when the whistle,
starting the third period, found him still in the line-up. He had
feared that Boots would put Sherrard back. But Steve didn't realise
the kind of a game he had been putting up. If he had he would have
credited Boots with more sense. Tom, with two brand-new facial
contusions to his credit, was relegated to the bench for the last
round. Perhaps Boots thought it only fair to allow Gafferty some of
the decorations that Fowler and others were handing out!
The first tried a kicking game in order to reach striking distance
and, since she always had the better of the argument there, forced the
second slowly and very surely back past the middle of the field. Then
Marvin, realising the futility of pitting Freer and himself against
Norton and Williams and Milton, either one of whom could outpunt the
second from five to ten yards, started a rushing game on his
thirty-five yards, swinging Harris and Freer around the ends for small
gains and himself taking the pigskin for a delayed plunge through
centre that put the scrubs on their forty-five-yard line and gave them
their first down of the period.
But the next three tries pulled in only six yards, and Freer punted.
For once he had plenty of time and the oval travelled far down into the
enemy's territory and was caught by Kendall, who took it back a scant
five yards before Turner, the second's left end, got past the
hastily-formed interference and upset him. The 'varsity made four
through the left side of the line and got her first down on a fake kick
that caught the second napping. She again secured her distance on three
tries, and the lines faced each other near the middle of the field.
What happened then was never definitely explained. Whether Milton
fumbled the pass from centre or whether Still missed the toss from
Milton, history doesn't record. Not that it matters, however. The fact
is that the ball was suddenly seen to go rolling back up the field as
though animated by a desperate desire to score a touchdown on its own
hook. The 'varsity backs hit the line hard and went tumbling through,
to the frenzied shouts of Ball! Ball! from Milton and the opponents.
The latter, trying to get past the 'varsity and gain the bobbing
pigskin, got so inextricably mixed up with the enemy that the ball went
on rolling around, under the pranks of the helpful wind, for a
heart-breaking length of time. Then, as it seemed, every fellow on the
field started for it at once!
Steve had made a wild attempt to get through inside of Andy Miller,
but Miller had sent him sprawling, and when he got to his feet again he
was one of the last in the mad rush. How it happened that Eric Sawyer,
not overly fast on his feet, reached the pigskin first, or, at least,
finally, is a mystery. But it was Eric who at length plunged out of the
confusion, ball in arm, shook off three or four tacklers and started
hot-footed toward the distant goal. By some unusual burst of speed he
not only got a clear start of the rest, but shot past Steve before that
youth could intercept him. Marvin had followed the others toward the
'varsity's goal and now between Eric and the final white lines, some
forty-five yards distant, lay a clear field. And Eric, spurred on by
the knowledge that here was perhaps the one chance of his lifetime to
make a spectacular run for half the length of the gridiron and score a
touchdown, worked his sturdy legs as they had probably never been
But he was not to go unchallenged. The enemy was hot on his track,
Steve in the lead. And with the enemy, doing their best to upset or
divert the pursuit, came a half-dozen of the 'varsity. It was a wildly
confused race for a minute. Then the slow-footed ones dropped behind
and the procession consisted of Eric, running desperately some five
yards ahead of Steve, Steve pounding along at his heels, Williams
striving to edge Freer toward the side of the field, Marvin leading
Captain Miller by a scant yard, and one or two others dropping
gradually away as the race progressed. Near the twenty-five-yard line
Williams managed to upset Freer and went down with him in the effort,
Andy Miller drew even with Marvin, and Eric glanced behind him for the
first time, at the same moment heading a bit further toward the centre
of the gridiron.
That move lost him a stride of his lead, and Steve made a final
spurt that took just about all the breath left in his body. On the
fifteen yards his hand went out gropingly, touched Eric's back and fell
away. Near the ten-yard line Steve launched himself forward and his
arms settled about Eric's thighs, slid down to his knees and tightened.
Eric went down, dragged forward another yard and then, panting and
weak, gave it up. Then Marvin settled ungently on his back, to make
assurances doubly sure, Andy Miller threw him off very promptly and
Steve rolled over on his back and fought for breath.
The rest of the teams came panting up, the audience along the
side-line howled and cheered gloriously, if a trifle breathlessly,
having itself raced down the field in an effort to keep abreast of the
drama, and delighted members of the second team lifted Steve to his
tottering feet, thumped him on the back and shrieked praise into his
After that, with the ball on the second's eight yards, the 'varsity
should have scored easily. And yet, so gallantly did the scrubs dig
their toes into the trampled turf that thrice the 'varsity was held for
a scant gain and, finally, with one down remaining, Williams dropped
back to the twenty-yard line and dropped a field-goal.
Boots was almost moved to tears and looked as though he wanted to
embrace each and every member of his team. For what was a puny three
points when the second had six to its credit? The things that Miller
said were extremely derogatory, while Coach Robey walked back to the
middle of the field with a disapproving air. In the four minutes that
remained, there was football played that was football! The
'varsity, smarting under impending defeat, went at it with a
desperation that promised everything. That it failed of what it
promised was only because the second, buoyed up by the knowledge of
victory in its grasp, fought like veterans. There was some fierce
playing during those two hundred and forty brief seconds, and the
fellow who finally trudged off the field without a scar felt himself
dishonoured. Substitutes were thrown into the fray by both sides,
although Boots, having fewer men to call on, was handicapped. Steve
went out in favour of Sherrard soon after the kick-off, and Tom
relieved Gafferty. The coaches raged and urged, the rival captains
scolded and implored and the quarters danced around and acted like
wild-men. And then, suddenly, the ball was seized, a whistle blew and
it was all over. And the panting players, tense of face, dripping with
perspiration, drew apart to view each other at first scowlingly and
then with slowly spreading grins, taking toll of their own injuries and
Good work, second, said Mr. Robey. That's all for to-day. Get
your blankets and run all the way in.
CHAPTER XX. BLOWS ARE STRUCK
The second went off jubilantly. Steve was a hero for an hour. In the
locker room Boots said some nice things to them, pointed out a few
faults and took himself away just as the first team and its substitutes
came piling in. Most of them looked pretty grim about the mouths.
Evidently in the few minutes that Mr. Robey had detained them on the
field, they had been provided with food for thought. Andy Miller
encountered Steve on his way to the bath.
That was good work, Edwards, he said heartily. You fellows
certainly put it over us to-day. He shook his head ruefully. We ought
to have got that touchdown in the last period. Then he smiled grimly,
and, We'll get you to-morrow, though, he said with conviction. How's
everything with you?
Fine and dandy, thanks, replied Steve heartily.
Good! You haven't been around to see me, by the way. You and Hall
must think a confidence-man isn't a proper acquaintance.
We're coming around soon, Miller. The fact is, Iwell, I made such
a mutt of myself that last time
Oh, nonsense! That's all right, Edwards. Don't let that worry you.
Besides, you took my advice, I guess, and that squares it. Mind if I
give you some more, by the way?
Of course not! I wish you would.
Only this, Edwards. On defence don't watch the ball. They'll tell
you to, but don't do it. Watch your opponent. Watch his eyes. He will
tell you when the ball's snapped. He's got to watch it and you haven't,
and then if you keep your eyes on him you can guess where he's coming
almost before he starts. It may sound cheeky for me to tell you this,
because, as a matter of absolute fact, Edwards, you played all around
Oh, piffle, Miller!
Yes, you did, insisted the captain grimly. I know it, if you
don't. But you try what I tell you to-morrow and see what a jump you'll
get on the other fellow. Come around and see me soon, you and Hall.
Andy moved away and Steve hurried on to find a shower before the new
crowd claimed them all. He was pretty well fagged out this afternoon,
and for once the thought of that swimming class didn't appeal. But
after a tepid shower and then a hard rush of ice-cold water over his
tired body, he felt different. Coming out of the bath he almost
collided with Eric Sawyer. Eric had a nasty cut over his right eye that
gave him a peculiarly ugly expression, and it was soon evident that
Eric's temper was as ugly as his appearance.
Hello, fresh, he growled, scowling at Steve and barring his way in
the narrow passage. What call had you to butt in on me to-day?
I was playing the game, that's all, replied Steve coolly.
You think you're a wonder, don't you? Well, you wouldn't have got
me if I hadn't slipped. And the next time you interfere with me on the
field or anywhere else I'll fix you for keeps. Now you mind that, you
fresh young kid.
You're a wonder at making threats, Sawyer, returned Steve angrily.
Why don't you do something besides talk?
I'd give you a good thrashing if you weren't so small, Eric
Oh, that's all right, replied Steve airily. We can't all have
piano legs, you know.
Say, you let my legs alone! For two cents I'd tell what I know
about you, you cheater, and we'd see how long you'd stay so cocky!
What you know about me? laughed Steve. You go right ahead and
tell anything you want to, Sawyer. Whatever it is, it's a lie, I
Oh, is it? It's a lie that you swiped Upton's blue-book with his
composition in it, I suppose. It's a lie that you were going to use it
until Daley went up to your room and found it, I dare say. It's
Yes, it is a lie, and you know it, Sawyer, flamed Steve. If you
tell any story like that around
I'll tell what I please, kid, and you can't stop me. Several
fellows came along the passage, viewing the two curiously, and Eric
dropped his voice a note. You stop bothering me, Edwards, or I will
tell, and if I do, this place will be too hot for you. We don't like
Steve sprang at him madly, but Eric stepped aside and Steve's blow
None of that! warned Eric in a low, ugly voice. Ah, you want it,
Steve hit again and Eric countered and got in a blow on the younger
boy's neck that sent him staggering against the wall. Then arms wrapped
themselves around Steve and a voice said:
Here, what's up, Eric? Cut it out, Edwards!
Steve, struggling, found himself in the firm grasp of Innes, the big
first team centre-rush. He called me a cheat! he cried angrily. You
let me go, Innes!
So he is a cheat, returned Eric contemptuously. He swiped Carl
Upton's French composition and was going to hand it in as his own if
Daley hadn't caught him at it!
That's a lie! cried Steve. Ask Mr. Daley himself! You're saying
it because I kept you from making that touchdown, youyou
Hold on, Edwards! said Innes. Don't call names. By this time the
passage had filled with fellows, among them Andy Miller. Miller pushed
What's up, Jack? he asked of the centre. Innes shrugged his big
Oh, just a scrap. Run along, you fellows. It's all over.
It isn't over! declared Steve, still trying to detach himself from
the big fellow's grasp. He's got to take it back! He's got to take it
back or fight!
Cut it out, Edwards! said Miller sternly. Don't act like a kid.
What's the trouble, Eric, anyway?
Oh, this kid got fresh with me, replied Eric with a malevolent
glare at Steve. Said I had piano legs There was an audible
snicker from some of the audienceand I told him to shut up and he
made a swipe at me and I shoved him away. That's all.
He said I cheated! raged Steve.
So you did. You stole Upton's French comp. out of Daley's room and
he found it on your table.
That's a lie! I don't know how that book got there. Mr. Daley will
Cut it, Edwards! I saw you carry the book out of the room myself!
Now what do you say?
I say you lie! I say
Stop that, Edwards! Miller turned to Eric. You've got no right to
say things like that, Eric, and you know it. I don't believe he did
anything of the sort. If he had, Mr. Daley would have had him expelled.
Now you two fellows stop squabbling. You've been at it all the fall. If
you don't, I'll see that you both lose your positions. And that goes!
Then tell him to let me alone, replied Eric with a shrug.
Oh, forget it, Sawyer, exclaimed a voice down the passage. You're
twice as big as he is. Let the kid alone.
Sure, I'll let him alone, growled Eric with an angry glare in the
direction of the speaker. Only he's got to stop getting fresh with me.
I've warned him half-a-dozen times.
And you'll have to warn me half-a-dozen more times, responded
Steve grimly, if you think I'm going to stand around and be called
names. If I were as big as you are, you wouldn't dare
That'll be about all from both of you, said Andy Miller. Now beat
it. If I hear of any more trouble from either of you while the season
lasts, I'll have you both out of the game in a wink. If you've got to
row, do it after we've beaten Claflin. Move on now! Get off the corner,
all of yez! And Andy good-naturedly pushed the fellows before him down
the passage. Innes released Steve, but stepped between him and Eric.
Come on, Edwards, he said with a laugh. Be good and get your
clothes on. Cap will do just what he says he will, too. You take my
advice, kid, and bury the hatchet.
Steve went back to his locker, and with trembling hands dressed
himself. Harry Westcott and Tom joined him and asked in low voices
about the trouble. But Steve was non-communicative. He was wondering
how much of Eric Sawyer's charge the fellows who had heard it were
No swimming to-day? asked Tom.
Steve shook his head. No, he answered. Tell the fellows, will
you? I'mI'm too tired. I'm sorry.
It's pretty late, anyway, murmured Harry. Together the three
crossed the room toward the door. Already, as it seemed to Steve,
fellows were regarding him suspiciously. Eric was not in sight, having
gone on to his bath, for which two at least of the trio were thankful.
Harry left them at the corner of Torrence, and Steve and Tom went on in
silence to their room. Somehow it seemed difficult nowadays for them to
find things to talk about. Steve resolutely sat himself down and drew
his books toward him, while Tom, after fidgetting around for a few
minutes, announced that he was going over to the office to see if there
was any mail, and went out again. Steve was glad when he had gone, for
he was relieved then of further pretence of studying. He couldn't get
his mind on his books. The encounter with Eric Sawyer had left him
irritable and restless, and he couldn't help wondering whether the
fellows believed what Eric had said. He was grateful to Andy Miller for
the latter's support, but it was doubtful if Andy's words had convinced
anyone. And the charge was an ugly one. Steve winced when he considered
it. It had seemed to him as he had left the locker room that already
the fellows there had looked at him differently. He could imagine them
talking about him and weighing Eric's story. Further reflections were
interrupted by the reappearance of Tom, an open letter in hand and
several newspapers sticking from a pocket.
Nothing for you but a couple of papers, he said. What do you
suppose those silly fathers of ours are doing now?
Fighting a duel? asked Steve with an attempt at humour.
Not quite, Tom answered, but they're getting ready for a
I can't make out, replied the other disgustedly, scanning the
letter again. It's something about some contract for building
supplies, though. Gee, they make me tired! Always squabbling!
Who's bringing the suit, your father or mine? asked Steve.
Mine, said Tom hesitantly.
Then I don't see that you need to blame my dad for it, retorted
It takes two to make a quarrel, though, answered Tom sagely. I
don't believe my father would start anything like that unlessunless
there was some reason for it.
Oh, I suppose my father beat him out on a contract and he got
sore, said Steve, with a short laugh. Tom looked across in surprise
and puzzlement. The tone was unlike Steve, while never before had they
taken sides in their fathers' disagreements. Tom opened his mouth to
reply, thought better of it and slowly returned the letter to its
I guess it'll blow over, he said finally. I hope so.
Steve shrugged his shoulders. Let them fight it out, he said. It
may do them good.
The next day it was soon evident to Steve that Eric Sawyer's story
of the purloined blue-book was school property. Fellows whom he knew
but slightly or not at all observed him doubtfully, others greeted him
more stifflyor so Steve thoughtwhile even in the manners of such
close friends as Roy and Harry and one or two more he fancied that he
could detect a difference. Much of this was probably only imagination
on Steve's part, but on the other hand there were doubtless many
fellows who for one reason or another chose to believe the story true.
Steve was popular amongst a small circle of acquaintances and well
enough liked by others who knew him only to speak to, but, naturally
enough, there were fellows in school who envied him for his success at
football or took exception to a certain self-sufficient air that Steve
was often enough guilty of. These, together with a small number who
owed allegiance to Eric Sawyer, found the story quite to their liking
and doubtless told and retold it and enlarged upon it at every telling.
At all events, Steve knew that gossip was busy with him. More than once
conversation died suddenly away at his approach, and he told himself
bitterly that the school had judged him and found him guilty. He passed
Andy Miller in the corridor between recitations, and Andy, being in a
hurry and having a good many things on his mind at that moment, said,
Hi, Edwards! in a perfunctory sort of way and went by with only a
glance. Steve concluded that even Andy was against him now, in spite of
his defence yesterday. In the afternoon it seemed that there was a
difference in the attitudes of his team-mates on the second, and, so
inflamed had his imagination become by this time, he even imagined he
detected a contemptuous tone in Boots' speech to him! The result was
that Steve froze up solid, to use Roy's phrase, and, secretly hurt
and angry, presented a scowling countenance to the world that was
sufficient to discourage those who wanted and tried to let him see that
they didn't believe Eric's story.
When he got back to his room after the swimming lesson that
afternoon, he found Tom nursing a very red and enlarged nose. He had a
wet towel in his hand and was gingerly applying it to the inflamed
Whatwhere began Steve.
Scrap with Telford, replied Tom briefly.
What about? demanded Steve.
Let's see your nose.
Tom removed the towel and Steve viewed it. He must have given you a
peach, he said critically. What did you do?
Tom smiled reminiscently. Nothing much, he answered.
Huh! Let's see your knuckles. 'Nothing much,' eh? They look it! Did
faculty get on to it?
Tom shook his head. No, it was back of the gym. Just the two of us.
It didn't last long.
Who got the worst of it?
That depends on what you call the worst, answered Tom judicially.
I got this and he got one like it and a black eye. At least I
suppose it's black by this time. It looked promising.
Steve laughed. Then he said severely: You ought to know better than
take chances like that, Tom. Suppose faculty got on to it. Besides,
fighting's pretty kiddish for a Fourth Former!
Tom viewed Steve amusedly over the wet towel. Coming from you,
Steve, that sounds great! he said.
Never mind about me. What I do doesn't affect you. What were you
Tom looked vacant and shook his head. I don't know. Nothing
special, I guess.
Don't be a chump! You didn't black his eye and get that beautiful
nose for nothing, I suppose. What was it?
Well, Telford saidhe said
You're a wonder! declared Steve. Don't you know what he said?
I forget. It was somethingsomething I didn't like. So I slapped
his face. That was on the gym steps. He said 'Come on back here.' I
said 'All right.' Then wewe had it. Then he said he was wrong about
itwhatever it was, you knowand we sort of apologised and sneaked
off. Tom felt of his nose carefully. I saw about a million stars when
he landed here!
That's the craziest stunt I ever heard of! said Steve disgustedly.
And you want to hope hard that no one saw it. If faculty hears of it,
you'll get probation, you chump.
I know. It won't, though. No one saw us.
Who's Telford, anyway? Steve demanded.
Telford? Oh, he's a Fifth Form fellow.
What does he look like?
Look like? repeated Tom vaguely. Oh, he's a couple of inches
taller than I am and has light brown hair andand a black eye!
Is he the fellow who goes around with Eric Sawyer? demanded Steve
suspiciously. Wear a brown plaid Norfolk? The fellow who shoved me
into the pool the night we had that fracas with Sawyer?
Did he? I don't remember. I didn't see who did that. II guess
maybe he's the chap, though. I've seen him with Sawyer, I think.
What did he say? asked Steve quietly.
To-day! When you had the row! For the love of Mike, Tom, don't be a
I don't remember what he said.
Was it aboutme?
You? Why would it be about you? Tom attempted a laugh.
Was it? Steve persisted.
Tom shook his head, but his gaze wandered. Steve grunted.
It was, then, he muttered.
I didn't say so, protested Tom.
I say so, though. Steve was silent a moment. Then, Look here,
Tom, there's no use your fighting every fellow who says things about
me, he said. If you try that, you'll have your hands full. II don't
care what they say, anyway. Just you keep out of it. Understand?
Sure, answered the other untroubledly.
Of courseSteve hesitated in some embarrassmentof course I
appreciate your standing up for me and all that, butbut I'll fight my
own battles, thanks, Tom.
You're welcome, murmured Tom through the folds of the towel. Keep
the change. I'll fight if I want to, though.
Not on my account, you won't, said Steve sternly.
Tom grinned. All right. I'll do it on my own account. Say, I'll bet
Telford's nose is worse than mine, Steve. I gave him a bully swat!
CHAPTER XXI. FRIENDS FALL OUT
On the eleventh of November Brimfield played her last game away from
home. Chambers Technological Institute was her opponent. About every
fellow in school went over to Long Island and witnessed a very sad
performance by their team. The slump had arrived. That was evident from
the first moment of play. Brimfield was outpunted, outrushed and
outgeneraled. Chambers ran up 17 points in the first half and 13 more
in the last, while all Brimfield could do was to make one solitary
touchdown and a field-goal, the latter with less than thirty seconds of
playing time left. Williams missed the goal after the touchdown by some
ten yards. Not only was Brimfield outplayed, but she showed up
wretchedly as to physical condition. It was a warm day and the
Maroon-and-Grey warriors seemed to feel the heat much more than their
opponents and were a sorry-looking lot by the end of the third period.
The second team attended the game in a body, Boots for once
relenting, and looked on in stupefied sorrow while their doughty foe
was humiliated and defeated.
Gee, I wish Robey would put us in in the next half, sighed
Gafferty to Steve after the second period had reached its sad
conclusion. I'll bet you we'd put up twice the game the 'varsity has.
I don't see what ails them, responded Steve quite affably. The
calamitous drama unfolding before him had for the moment made him
forget his role of aloofness and cynical indifference. Why, even Andy
Miller is up in the air! He hasn't caught a pass once, and he's had
four chances, and he's missed enough tackles to fill a book!
One grand slump, said Gafferty. That's what it is, Edwards, one
wonderful, spectacular, iridescent slump! And the only person who is
pleased is Danny, I guess. He's been begging the 'varsity fellows to
get stale and be done with it. And now they've obliged him. Too bad,
though, they couldn't have slumped the first of the week. It's fierce
to be beaten by a tech school!
In the third period Coach Robey hustled the best of his substitutes
on in the hope of stemming the tide of defeat, and, while the new men
showed more dash and go, they couldn't stop the triumphant advance of
the black-and-orange enemy. To make matters worse, when it was all
over, Benson, who played right end, had a strained ligament in his
ankle, Williams was limping with a bad knee and Quarter-back Milton had
to be helped on and off the cars like a confirmed invalid. There wasn't
a regular member of the 'varsity who could have stood up against a hard
gust of wind five minutes after the final whistle had blown!
The school returned to Brimfield disgruntled, disappointed and
critical. There was scarcely a fellow on the train who didn't have a
perfectly good theory as to the trouble with the eleven and who wasn't
willing and eager to explain it. As for the game with Claflin, now just
a fortnight distant, why, it was already as good as lost! Anyone would
have told you that. The only point of disagreement was the size of the
score. That ran, according to various estimates, from 6 to 0 to 50 to
3. It was a wonder they allowed Brimfield that 3! But all this was on
the way home. Gradually the reaction set in and hope crept back. After
all, a slump was something you had to contend with. It happened to
every team some time in the season. Perhaps it was lucky it had come
now instead of later. Of course, Chambers Tech was only a
fair-to-middling team and Brimfield ought to have beaten her hands
down, but since she hadn't, there was no use in worrying about it. By
the time supper was over that evening, the stock of the Brimfield
Football Team had risen to close to par, and anyone who had had the
temerity to even suggest the possibility of a victory for Claflin would
have been promptly and efficaciously squelched!
The Chambers game resulted in a shake-up. That it was coming was
hinted on Monday when only a few of the substitutes on the first were
given any work and four of the second team fellows were lifted from
their places and shifted over to what represented the 'varsity that
day. These four were Trow and Saunders, tackles; Thursby, centre, and
Freer, half-back. On Tuesday the first-string 'varsity men were back at
work, with the exception of Benson, whose ankle was in pretty bad
condition. Thursby was given a try-out at centre and Saunders at left
tackle in the short scrimmage that followed practice. Thursby showed up
so brilliantly that many predicted the retirement of Innes to the
bench. Saunders failed to impress Coach Robey very greatly and he and
Freer and Trow went back to the second the next day. The slump was
still in evidence and the work was light until Thursday. Benson was
still on crutches and his place was being taken by Roberts. Thursby ran
Innes such a good race for the position of centre-rush that a
substitute centre named Coolidge suddenly found his nose out of joint
and faced the prospect of viewing the Claflin game from the bench.
The school held its first mass meeting on Wednesday evening of that
week and cheered and sang and whooped things up with a fine frenzy. The
discouragement of the Chambers game was quite forgotten. Andy Miller,
in a short speech, soberly predicted a victory over Claflin, and the
audience yelled until the roof seemed to shake. Coach Robey gave a
resume of the season, thanked the school for its support of the team,
pledged the best efforts of everyone concerned and, while refusing to
say so in so many words, hinted that Brimfield would have the long end
of the score on the twenty-fifth. After that the football excitement
grew and spread and took possession of the school like an epidemic.
Recitations became farces, faculty fumed and threatenedand bore it,
and some one hundred and fifty boys fixed their gaze on the
twenty-fifth of November and lived breathlessly in the future.
There was a second mass meeting on Saturday, a meeting that ended in
a parade up and down the Row, much noise and a vast enthusiasm.
Brimfield had met Southby Academy in the afternoon and had torn the
visitors to tatters, scoring almost at will and sending the hopes of
her adherents soaring into the zenith. To be sure, Southby had
presented a rather weak team, but, as an offset to that, Brimfield had
played without the services of the regular right end, without her
captain and with a back-field largely substitute during most of the
game. There was nothing wrong with Andy Miller, but it was thought best
to save him for the final conflict. The last fortnight of a football
season is a hard period for the captain, no matter how smoothly things
have progressed; and Brimfield had had a particularly fortunate six
weeks. Andy Miller was not the extremely nervous type, but,
nevertheless, he had lost some fourteen pounds during the month and was
far finer than Danny Moore wanted to see him. So Andy, dressed in
store clothes, saw the Southby game from the side-line, hobnobbing
with the coaches and Joe Benson, still on crutches, and with Norton,
who, after smashing out two touchdowns in the first period, was also
taken out to be saved.
There was no trace of the slump left, and the final score that
Saturday afternoon was 39 to 7, and the school was hysterically
delighted, which accounts for the added enthusiasm which kept them
marching up and down the Row in the evening until the patience of a
lenient faculty was exhausted, and Mr. Conklin, prodded into action by
a telephone message from the Cottage, appeared and dispersed the
The second team was to go out of business on Thursday, and several
members of it were eager to end the season with a banquet. Freer and
Saunders dropped in on Steve and Tom Sunday afternoon to talk it over
and win their support. It was a nasty day, rainy and blowy and cold,
and most of the fellows were huddling indoors around the radiators.
Steve and Tom, on opposite sides of the table, were chewing the ends of
their pens and trying to write their Sunday letters when the visitors
came. Steve was studiedly haughty, as, to his mind, became one who was
unjustly suspected of dishonesty. The visitors seemed puzzled by his
manner and presently addressed themselves almost entirely to Tom, who,
anxious to atone for his room-mate's churlishness, was nervously
affable and unnaturally enthusiastic.
We don't see, explained Saunders, why we shouldn't be allowed to
have a banquet after we quit training. We deserve it. We've done as
much, in a way, as the 'varsity fellows to win from Claflin. We've been
the goats all the season and it seems to me we ought to get something
out of it. What we want to do is to go to Josh and get him to give us
permission to have a blow-out in the village Thursday night.
Or here, supplemented Freer, if he won't let us go to the
village. What do you fellows think?
I think it's a good scheme, answered Tom. And we might get one
over on the 'varsity, too. I mean we'd have our banquet and lots of fun
whether we won from Claflin or not, while the 'varsity, if it loses the
game, doesn't enjoy its banquet very much, I guess.
Well, will you fellows come around to Brownell's room to-night
after supper? Al is willing enough, but, being captain, he doesn't want
to start the thing himself. We're going to see all the fellows this
afternoon and then have a sort of a meeting this evening about eight.
You'll come, Edwards?
All right. Come on, Jimmy. We've got several of the fellows to see
There wouldn't be very many of us, would there? asked Tom. Now
that Robey has pinched Thursby there's only about fifteen left on the
Sixteen, but we thought we'd get Robey to come if he would, and
'Boots,' of course, and maybe Danny. That would make nineteen in all.
Where would you have it? Is there a hotel in the village?
Not exactly, but there's a sort of a boarding-house there; 'Larch
Villa,' they call it. They'd look after us all right. They've got a
fine big dining-room which we could have all to ourselves. We haven't
talked price with them yet, but Al says we could probably get a good
feed for about a dollar and a half apiece. That wouldn't be so much,
Cheap, I'd call it, said Freer.
We'd have beefsteak and things like that, you know, continued
Saunders enthusiastically, things that are filling. No froth and
whipped cream, you know! And lots of gingerale!
Sounds good, laughed Tom. I wish it was to-night. Do you think
Mr. Fernald will let us?
I don't see why not. I spoke to Mr. Conklin about it and he said he
would favour it if Josh came to him about it. If he won't let us go to
the village, we thought maybe he'd let us have our feed here after the
regular supper, if we paid for it ourselves. Well, you fellows show up
about eight. Don't forget, because we want to get the whole bunch there
and talk it all over and appoint a committee to see Josh.
Tom was silent for a minute after the visitors had departed. Then,
hesitatingly, Steve, he said, what's the good of acting like that
Like what? asked Steve.
You know well enough. Freezing up and talking as if you had a
mouthful of icicles. You might bebe decently polite when fellows come
in. Freer is a dandy chap, and Saunders is all right, too. But you
treated them as if they werewere a couple of cut-throats.
I wasn't impolite, denied Steve. As long as those fellows choose
to think what they do about me, you can't expect me to slop over with
You haven't any way of knowing what they think about you, said Tom
vigorously. You take it for granted that every fellow in school
believes that yarn of Sawyer's. I don't suppose a dozen fellows ever
gave it a second thought.
I know better. Don't you suppose I can tell? Almost every chap I
know treats me differently now. Eveneven Royand Harryact as if
they'd rather not be seen with me!
Oh, piffle! exclaimed Tom indignantly. That's a rotten thing to
say, Steve! Why, you might as well say that I believe the yarn!
You? Steve laughed meaningly. You wouldn't be likely to.
Then neither would Roy or Harry. They haven't known you as long as
I have, but they know you wouldn't do a thing like that.
I don't see why not, replied Steve stubbornly. The book was found
on this table. And Sawyer says he saw me with it. I guess it would be
natural for them to believe what Sawyer says.
They don't, though, as I happen to know, replied Tom stoutly.
Even if you did bring the book up here, that doesn't mean that you
were going toto use it. What really happened, I suppose, was that you
took it up without thinking and didn't realise you had it when you came
Steve stared at him incredulously. Well, of all the cheek! he
What do you mean? asked Tom.
I mean that that's a fine thing for you to get off, answered Steve
indignantly. You'll be saying next that you saw me bring the book in
here that night!
I didn't, buthang it, Steve, the thing was here! You told
me so yourself. I thought you confessed that you brought it up without
Oh, cut it, said Steve wearily. I'm willing to be decent about
it, Tom, but I don't want to listen to drivel like that.
Drivel? repeated the other, puzzled. Say, what's the matter with
you, anyway, Steve? I don't say you meant to cheat with the old book; I
know mighty well you didn't; I told Telford so and convinced him of it,
too; but I don't see why you need to get so hot under the collar when
Iwhen I simply remind you that you did bring the book up
So I brought it up, did I? asked Steve with an ugly laugh.
Well, didn't you? Who did, then? You know well enough I didn't.
Do I? How do I know it? Look here, Tom, we might as well have a
show-down right now. I did not bring that blue-book into this room. I
did not take it out of 'Horace's'. But 'Horace' found it on this table,
poked under a pile of books. Now, then, what do you know about
Tom stared in wide-eyed amazement for a moment. Youyou mean to
say you think I did it! he gasped finally.
Steve shrugged his shoulders.
Butbut you were here when I came back from downstairs, Steve! You
saw that I didn't have it!
I didn't see anything of the sort. I didn't notice whether you had
anything in your hands when you came in. Why should I? You might have
slipped it under your coat. There's no use trying that game, Tom.
Then whywhy did you tell 'Horace' you took the book yourself if
you knew you didn't?
Because one of us must have, you idiot.
Oh, I see, answered Tom thoughtfully. You wanted to keep me out
of it, eh? Look here, Steve, what would I want with Upton's
composition? My own was written two days before.
Steve shrugged his shoulders again impatiently. That puzzled me. I
didn't know. You did say afterwards, though, that your own comp. was
pretty rotten. I didn't know but what
You have a fine opinion of me, haven't you? asked Tom bitterly.
You've known me ever since we were kids at kindergarten and you think
that of me! Thanks, Steve!
Now you hold on! I'm going to tell you something. Tom was on his
feet now, his hands on the edge of the table, his gaze bent sternly on
his chum who was seated across the littered surface. I didn't even see
that blue-book of Upton's. I'll swear it wasn't on Mr. Daley's table
when I went down there. I know nothing of how it got into this room. I
tell you this on my word of honour, Steve. Do you believe me?
Steve's gaze met Tom's troubledly, then shifted. Oh, if you say so,
I suppose I'll have to. But if you didn't bring the book up here
That means you don't believe me, said Tom quietly. Very well.
Now, one more thing, Steve. Tom's eyes were blazing now, though his
face was white. Don't you speak to me unless you have to from now on,
until you come to me and tell me that you believe what I've told you!
But, Tom, you can see yourself that it's mighty queer! If you
You heard what I said! Perhaps you think I owe you something for
trying to shield me from Mr. Daley. I don't, though. When you set me
down for a cheat you more than squared that account. That's all. After
this I don't want you to speak to me.
Steve shrugged his shoulders angrily. That goes, he said. When
you want me to speak to you, you'll ask me, Tom! And don't you forget
Both boys went back to their letters in silence. After a while Steve
put on a raincoat and tramped down the stairs and over to Hensey. He
meant to call on Andy Miller, but Andy was out and only the saturnine
Williams was in the room. Although Steve had grown to like Williams
very well, yet, in his present mood, the right tackle was not the sort
of company Steve craved, and after a few minutes of desultory football
talk he went on. He would have called on Roy and Harry, but now that he
and Tom had quarrelled they would, he thought, side with Tom. In the
end he found himself in the gymnasium. Several fellows were splashing
about in the tank and Steve joined them. For an hour he forgot his
troubles in performing stunts to the envious appreciation of the others
in the pool. Applause was grateful to him that afternoon, and when he
had dressed himself again and, avoiding the room, had gone across to
Wendell to wait for the doors to open for supper, he felt better.
Perhaps, he told himself, Tom really didn't know anything about that
plaguey book, but even so he needn't get so cocky about it! Besides,
someone must have put the book on their table andwell, the evidence
was certainly against Tom!
It wasn't much fun eating supper with Tom at his elbow as grim and
stiff as a plaster statue. Fortunately, Steve was well into his meal
before Tom came in, and meanwhile there were others of the second team
to talk to if he wanted. With no Tom to converse with he found it
difficult to persist in his role of haughty indifference toward the
others. Besidesand it came to him with rather a shockwhat they
thought of him was no more than he had been thinking of Tom! Hang it,
it was all pretty rotten! He'd like to choke Eric Sawyer!
It didn't take the rest of the fellows at the training table long to
make the discovery that the two friends were at outs. Trow, a
pale-faced, shock-haired chap, took delight in trying to engage them
both in conversation at the same time, thereby increasing the
embarrassment. Steve was heartily glad when he had finished his supper
and could leave the table. Returning to his room under the
circumstances was not appealing, but there seemed nowhere else to go.
There was the library, of course, but it was a dismal place on a Sunday
evening, and he didn't want to read. But, as it proved, he needn't have
considered avoiding the room, for Tom didn't return after supper, and
Steve finished his letter home in solitude. At eight he went over to Al
Brownell's room in Torrence, not because he was especially interested
in the project to be discussed, but because he had agreed to attend the
gathering and was glad, besides, to get away from Number 12 Billings.
Life in Number 12 didn't promise to be very delightful for awhile, he
In Brownell's room Steve carefully took a position as far distant
from Tom as was possible. There was a lot of talk and a good deal of
fun, and in the end Steve found himself chosen one of a committee of
five to call on the principal and request the permission they desired.
At a little after nine he walked back to Billings alone. Tom didn't
return until ten and then, with never a word between them, they
undressed and went to bed. Steve didn't get to sleep very easily that
night. More than once he was sorely tempted to speak across the
darkness and tell Tom that he did believe him and that he was sorry.
And I think he would have done it, too, in the end if Tom had not
fallen asleep just then and announced the fact in the usual melodic
manner. Whereupon Steve frowned, punched his pillow and flopped over.
It isn't bothering him any, he thought. If he wants me to speak
to him, he'll have to say so. Cranky chump!
CHAPTER XXII. STEVE GETS A SURPRISE
Mr. Fernald was surprisingly complaisant on Monday when the
committee from the second team waited on him at the Cottage. He gave
them permission to hold their banquet in the village and even said
several nice things to them about their share in the development of the
'varsity. He warned them against rowdyism, told them they must be back
promptly at nine o'clock and said he hoped they'd have a good time!
After which, much surprised and not a little embarrassed, the committee
backed out of the room and returned joyfully to spread the tidings. A
second committee, headed by Saunders, had already been appointed to
arrange for the banquet in case permission was secured and by Tuesday
everything was complete. I may say here that the event duly came off on
Thursday evening and was a big success. But as neither Steve nor Tom
was present, our interest in the banquet is slight.
On Monday the Review came out. The school paper was published
on the twentieth of the month, and the December issue contained, among
other features, a rather interesting resume of the football season by
Mr. Robey and a list of the games played to date. The coach's article
was too long to reproduce, but the summary of the season's contests was
brief enough to be set down here:
Sept. 30Brimfield 10; Thacher 3
Oct. 4Brimfield 10; Canterbury 7
Oct. 7Brimfield 26; Miter Hill 0
Oct. 14Brimfield 3; Larchville 17
Oct. 21Brimfield 0; Benton 0
Oct. 28Brimfield 27; Cherry Valley 6
Nov. 4Brimfield 12; Phillips 0
Nov. 11Brimfield 9; Chambers 30
Nov. 18Brimfield 39; Southby 7
Brimfield had played nine games, of which she had won six, lost two
and tied one, not a bad record, as the Review rather
complacently pointed out, for a school whose football history dated
back but a few years. But Brimfield didn't waste much time
contemplating past performances. Had the team won every game in its
schedule by an overwhelming score, the season would still be a dismal
failure if it lost to Claflin, just as, if it finally won its big game,
the school would rise up and call it blessed even had it lost every
other contest of the season. In other words, Claflin was the only foe
that really counted, and the Claflin game was the final test by which
the Brimfield Football Team stood or fell.
Claflin School, at Westplains, New York, some twelve miles distant
from Brimfield, was a larger school in point of enrolment, a very much
older school and far more select. I don't intend to imply by that
term that the Claflin students were a finer set of fellows than those
at Brimfield. Doubtless they would have averaged up about the same. But
Claflin liked to be considered select and so I might as well accord
her the distinction. Claflin had been educating the youth of New York
and surrounding states for almost a hundred years, and nowadays fathers
applied for admission for their boys about as soon as the boys were
born. The school was in that respect like a club with a long waiting
list. If a boy wasn't entered by the time he was five or six years
old at the latest, he stood small chance of getting in when the time
Claflin had won from Brimfield three years on end, or ever since
they had been playing together. She had started out by according
Brimfield a mid-season date. The following year she had placed the game
a week later and last year she had put it last on her schedule,
Brimfield having by then proved herself an adversary of real merit.
Oddly enough, Claflin had for some time been without a special rival
and had gladly bestowed the honour on the Maroon-and-Grey as soon as
the latter had shown herself worthy. This fall Claflin had had an
unusually successful season, having played seven games and won all but
the last, that with Larchville. Larchville, who had defeated Brimfield
17 to 3, had also taken the measure of Claflin to the tune of 12 to 6.
Brimfield read of it in the Sunday papers and took comfort. After all,
Claflin was not unbeatable it seemed. Her defeat by Larchville, coupled
with Brimfield's overwhelming victory over Southby, lent next
Saturday's game a roseate glow, viewed from a Brimfield view-point. In
fact, by Monday Brimfield was almost confident of at last winning from
the Blue, and the question of a proper celebration of the victory was
up for discussion. Of course it should be a whopping big bonfire, with
a parade and speeches and singing and plenty of music! But Brimfield
had never yet celebrated such a stupendous event and consequently there
were no precedents to guide them. Neither was it known what attitude
faculty would take in regard to such an affair. But a few choice
spirits in the upper forms made tentative arrangements to the extent of
picking out a likely spot in a corner of the athletic field for the
fire and locating such loose material as might come in handy as fuel.
Monday's practice was short and easy. Even the second had an
off-day. The 'varsity players were given a blackboard lecture in the
meeting-room in the gymnasium after supper and were put through an
examination on plays and signals. On Tuesday the practice was as stiff
as ever. Coach Robey was not altogether satisfied with the defence, and
there were forty-five minutes of the hardest sort of scrimmage in which
the second was given the ball at various distances from the 'varsity
goal and told to put it over. The field was closed to spectators that
day and it was hard hammer-and-tongs football all the way. Boots"
drove the second with whip and spurs and the second responded nobly.
But the best it could do was to drop a field-goal over the bar in the
third period of the scrimmage, after having been held a half-dozen
times by a desperate adversary. Steve played about as well that
afternoon as he had ever played in his life. For once he had no worries
on his mind. To be sure, there was still his falling-out with Tom and
his quarrel with the school at large, but those things seemed rather to
lend him a new strength than to bother him. He played with a dash and a
reckless disregard for life and limb that made Coach Robey observe him
with a new interest. Tom performed with his customary steadiness and
more than once put it over on Fowler and on Churchill, who substituted
him. They were some three dozen very tired youths who finally straggled
back to the gymnasium when the work was over.
On Wednesday the last real practice of the season was to be held,
since the Thursday performance was more in the nature of an exhibition
for the school than real work, and on Friday afternoon the team was to
journey over to Oakdale, on the Sound, and remain there until Saturday
forenoon. But the weather proved unkind on Wednesday. In the middle of
the forenoon the wind veered around to the south and a drizzle of rain
set in. By three o'clock the drizzle had grown into a very respectable
downpour and the gridiron was slow and slippery. But Mr. Robey was not
to be deterred and, with Danny Moore anxiously hovering about like a
hen with a batch of ducklings, the 'varsity was put through a half-hour
of signal work, punting and catching. Then the second, wet and muddy,
came across to the first team gridiron and the two elevens leaped at
each other again. Danny followed close behind, cautioning and scolding,
and more than one player was dragged out of the melee and sent off to
the gym in spite of the coach's pleas and protestations.
I'll not have them hurted, reiterated Danny stubbornly. 'Tis no
sort of a day for hard work, Coach. I've got 'em through this far an'
I'll not be havin' them breakin' their legs an' arms for the sake of a
bit of practice, sir.
Hang their arms and their legs! fumed Mr. Robey. They might as
well not have any as start the game Saturday half-baked! Give me a
'Tis takin' big chances, sir, playin' 'em on this sort of a field.
Then we'll take chances! growled the coach. Now get in there,
first, and rip it up! Show what you can do! You've got six to go on
third down; put it over! Wait a minute! Thursby! Get in there for Innes
and hold that centre of the line steady.
Trot all the way in, my boy, and get a good rubbin', directed
Danny to the discomforted Innes. Hi! Put your blanket on! Are you
Play lower there, Hall! Throw them back, second! entreated
Boots. Don't let them have an inch!
Then the first piled through Brownell for three yards, slipping in
the mud, panting, grunting to the accompaniment of thudding feet and
the swish of wet canvas. Above the players a cloud of steam
hovered as they disentangled themselves. Danny darted into the
confusion. Benson was on his back, thrashing his arms.
Water! bawled Danny.
A helper raced on with a slopping pail. Danny's fingers went
Ankle, groaned Benson, and Danny shot a triumphantly accusing look
at Coach Robey. In a minute Benson was being helped off and the game
was on again, but Mr. Robey showed a distinct aversion to meeting the
trainer's glance. Later, in the gymnasium, it was known that Benson had
hurt the bad ankle again and would not be able to play the game through
on Saturday, even if he was allowed to get into it at all. Coach Robey
accepted the tidings with a shrug and a scowl.
Fine! he said sarcastically. Claflin's left end is the best
player they've got. Roberts will stand a fine chance against him! Look
here, Danny, I thought you said Benson's ankle was all right?
So I did! And so it was all right! sputtered Danny. But I didn't
say he could go out an' play on a field like that to-day, did I?
All right. It can't be helped now. Where's Captain Miller?
Danny bent his head backward toward the rubbing room. In there, he
Heard about Benson? asked the coach.
Andy, looking a trifle pale and tired, nodded silently as the rubber
kneaded his back. Mr. Robey frowned a moment.
You'll have to change over, he said finally. Andy grunted
agreement. And we'll have to take Turner or Edwards from the second
to-morrow and beat him into shape.
Edwards is the better, said Andy.
I suppose so. If he played the way he played yesterday and to-day
he might have a chance against Mumford. Still
I'd better take that end, said Andy. Let Roberts start the game
at left and then put in Edwardsunless Benson mends enough.
He won't, said the coach pessimistically. You can't play end with
a sore ankle. He's out of it, Andy. Tough luck, too. I'll find Edwards
and tell him to join the squad to-night. He's got to learn signals and
plays and The coach's voice dwindled into silence and he gloomed
frowningly out the window. I wish now I'd let Danny have his way, he
lamented. We could have run through plays indoors and had a hard
practice to-morrow. Well He shrugged his shoulders again and his
gaze came back to Andy. How are you? he asked. You look a bit
I'll be all right after supper, replied the captain. I'll be glad
when Saturday night comes, though. And he smiled a trifle wanly as he
slipped off the table.
Mr. Robey grunted. So will I. Somehow, this year seems to mean
more, Andy. Still, there's no use in worrying about it. Much better not
think of it any more than you can help.
I know, agreed Andy as he wrapped a big towel about his glowing
body and moved toward the door, but when you're captain itit's a
whole lot different. There's Edwards over there. Shall I call him?
The coach nodded. I think so. He's better than Turner, isn't he?
Left end is Turner's position, though.
Edwards'll take to it quick enough. He's got more bulldog than
Turner has, too. I guess he's the man for us. Oh, Edwards! Will you
come over here a minute?
Steve pushed his way through the crowded aisles, past Thursby who
winked and grinned and whispered You're going to catch it! past Tom
who turned his head away as he approached, past Eric Sawyer, a big hulk
in a crimson bathrobe, who scowled upon him, and so to where, by the
rubbing room door, the captain and coach awaited him. It was Mr. Robey
who brusquely made the announcement. The coach was anxious and tired
to-day and his voice was harsh.
Edwards, you join the 'varsity to-night. We may have to use you at
left end. Benson's pretty badly hurt, I understand. Be upstairs at
eight-fifteen promptly. You've got to learn the signals and about
fifteen plays before Saturday. Tell your coach I've taken you, please.
Yes, sir. Steve's eyes, round and questioning, turned to the
captain. Andy smiled a little.
Rather sudden, eh? he asked. Do your best to learn, Edwards. Get
the signals and plays down pat. There isn't much time, but you can do
it if you'll put your mind on it. You wanted to make the 'varsity, you
know, and now you've done it, and here's your chance to make good,
Edwards. But you've got to work like thunder, old man! He laid a hand
on Steve's shoulder and his fingers tightened as he went on.
Everyone's got his hands full right now, you see, and there's no one
to coach you much. You've got to buckle down and learn things yourself.
You can do it, all right. And on Saturday, if you get inand I can't
see how you can help ityou've got to play real football, Edwards.
Think you can do all that?
Yes. Steve's heart was thumping pretty hard and his breathing was
uncertain, as though he had raced the length of the field with a
pigskin tucked in the crook of his arm, and his gaze sought the floor
for fear those two would read the almost tragic ecstasy that shone in
them. Yes, he repeated, I'll learn. And I'llI'll play!
All right. You'd better join the 'varsity table to-night. See
Lawrence about it. That's all. Coach Robey nodded and turned away.
Andy Miller, following, paused and stepped back. One hand clutched the
folds of the big towel about him, the other was stretched out to Steve.
I'm glad, Edwards, he said in a low voice as Steve's hand closed
on his. Steve nodded. He wasn't quite certain of his voice just then.
You'll do your best for us, won't you, old man?
Steve gulped. II'll play till I drop, he muttered huskily.
CHAPTER XXIII. DURKIN SHEDS LIGHT
Steve felt frightfully lonely that evening. He wanted so much to
talk over his good fortune with Tom. But Tom, very grave of
countenance, sat in frozen silence across the table and never so much
as glanced his way. Had he done so he might have caught one of the
wistful looks bent upon him and, perhaps, relented. Not being able to
discuss the amazing thing which had happened to him, detracted at least
half the pleasure, Steve sadly reflected. Of course Tom knew of it, for
Steve had sat at the 'varsity training table at supper-time and he
could still hear in imagination the buzz of interest that had filled
the hall when, somewhat consciously skirting the second team table, he
had walked to the corner and sank into a seat between Fowler and
Churchill. They had been very nice to him at the 'varsity table. Only
Roberts, who might be expected to view his appearance with misgivings,
had eyed him askance. Poor Joe Benson was confined to the dormitory.
Thursby, himself only a recent addition to the big squad, grinned at
Steve from the length of the long table in a way which seemed to say:
They had to have us! I guess we fellows on the second team are pretty
But now, back in his room, with his books spread out before him and
his mind in a strange tumult of elation and fear and dejection, he
hardly knew whether to be glad of or sorry for his promotion. Study, at
all events, was quite out of the question to-night, but luckily he was
well enough up in his lessons to be able to afford one hour of
idleness. He considered writing home to his father and recounting the
story of his good fortune to him, for it seemed that he must talk to
someone about it, and he even dragged a pad of paper toward him and
unscrewed his fountain pen. But, after tracing meaningless scrawls for
several minutes, he gave it up. He didn't want to write a letter; he
wanted to talk to Tom!
He saw the hands of his watch creep toward the hour of eight, after
which he might give up pretence of study, don a sweater and a pair of
canvas sneakers and go over to the gymnasium. The thought of that and
of the next three days put him in a blue funk. What if he couldn't
learn the signals, or, having learned them, forgot them in the game?
What if he disappointed Andy and Coach Robey when the time came? He had
visions of getting his signals mixed, of fumbling the ball at critical
moments, of losing the game through his stupidity. There were times
when he devoutly hoped that Joe Benson would recover the use of that
ankle and get into the contest so that he [Steve] might not be called
on to take part!
Then, at last, eight o'clock struck sonorously in the tower of Main
Hall, and he closed his books with a sigh of relief, piled them up and
went to the closet. When he was ready to go out Tom was still bent over
his studies. Steve hesitated a moment with his hand on the knob. He
wanted Tom to wish him luck. He wondered if Tom guessed how sort of
lonesome and scared he felt. But Tom never even raised his eyes and so
Steve went out, closing the door softly behind him, and made his way
through a dripping rain to the lighted porch of the gymnasium. Only a
half-dozen fellows were there when he reached the meeting room. The
settees had been moved aside and the floor was empty and ready for
them. Steve nodded to the others and perched himself on one of the low
windowsills to wait. In twos and threes the players stamped up the
stairs, laughing, jostling. Milton and Kendall, entering together,
seized each other and began to waltz over the floor. Steve wondered how
they could take such a serious business so light-heartedly. Then Joe
Lawrence, the manager, a football under his arm, came in with Williams
and, glancing at his watch, began calling the roll. In the middle of it
Coach Robey and Andy Miller and Danny Moore arrived. More lights were
turned on and Mr. Robey swung the blackboard on the platform nearer the
We'll try Number Six, he announced. Very quickly and surely he
scrawled the formation on the board, added curving lines and dotted
lines, dropped the chalk and faced the room. All right, Milton.
First-string fellows in this and the rest of you watch closely.
Line up! chirped Milton. Formation A! The players sprang to
their places, their rubber-soled shoes patting softly on the boards.
21146366! called the quarter. 211463
The backs, who had shifted to the left in a slanting tandem, trotted
forward, the ball was passed, the line divided and Still slipped
Norton, you were out of position, said Mr. Robey. Look at the
board, please. Your place is an arm's length from left half. You've got
to follow closely on that. Try it again, please.
So it went for nearly an hour, the substitutes gradually taking the
places of the first-string players. Steve, who had had the signals
explained to him earlier, managed to get through without mistakes, but
as an end he had little to do in the drill. After the coach had watched
them go through some fourteen plays, the settees were dragged out into
the floor again, the players seated themselves and the coach drew
diagrams and explained them and examined the squad in signals as he
went along. It was all over at a little after nine, but not for Steve.
Andy Miller took him back to his room with him and for a good half-hour
Steve was coached on formations, plays and signals. When, finally, he
went back to Billings his head was absolutely seething and it was long
after eleven before sleep finally came to him. When it did, it was a
restless and disturbed slumber that was filled with dreams and visions.
He awoke earlier than usual the next morning, feeling almost as
tired as when he had gone to bed. But, although he strove to snatch a
nap before it was time to get up, sleep refused to return to him. His
mind was too full. Across the room Tom was snoring placidly, both arms
clutched about a pillow and his face almost buried from sight. Steve
envied him his untroubled state of mind. Then he began to go over what
he had learned the evening before and found himself in a condition of
panic because for the life of him he couldn't remember half of the
stuff that had been hammered into his tired brain! Steve was not the
only fellow at training table that morning who showed a distaste for
the excellent breakfast that was served. More than one chap looked pale
and anxious and only trifled with the food before him. Steve stumbled
through recitations, earning a warning look from Uncle Sim, managed
to observe more or less faithfully the schedule he had set for himself
and turned up at dinner table with a very good appetite. After dinner
he wrote a notice and posted it on the bulletin board in the gymnasium.
No Swimming Classes until Monday. S. D. Edwards.
The school turned out to a boy that afternoon and paraded to the
field to watch the final practice. Massed on the grand stand, they sang
their songs and cheered the players and the team all during a half-hour
of signal drill and punting. There was no scrimmage until the
first-string men had trotted off the field. Then the 'varsity
substitutes and the second team faced each other for fifteen minutes
and the second scored a field-goal. Steve played at left end on the
substitute eleven, made one or two mistakes in signals and failed at
any time to distinguish himself. But the game was slow and
half-hearted, for the substitutes were continually warned against
playing too hard and so risking injury. When it was over, the second
cheered the 'varsity, the subs cheered the second and the spectators
formed two abreast again and trailed across the field to the gymnasium
and there once more cheered everyone from Captain Miller and Coach
Robey down to the last substitutewho was SteveDanny Moore and Gus,
the rubber. It had drizzled at times during the afternoon, but before
the final Rah, rah, Brimfield! Rah, rah, Brimfield! Rah, rah,
Brim-f-i-e-l-d! had died away, the clouds broke in the west and the
afternoon sun shone through. This was accepted joyfully as a good omen
and the crowd outside the gymnasium broke into a chorus of ecstatic
Practice was over early, and at half-past four Steve, parting from
Thursby at the corner of Wendell, made his way along the Row, half
wishing that he had not cancelled the swimming hour to-day. At the
entrance to Torrence a voice hailed him from the doorway, and Penny"
Durkin, wild of hair and loose-limbed, stepped out.
Hello, said Durkin. Say, I've got the dandiest rug upstairs you
ever saw, Edwards. It's a regular Begorra.
What's a Begorra? asked Steve with a smile.
Oh, it's one of those rare Oriental rugs, you know.
You mean Bokhara, laughed Steve.
Durkin blinked. Something like that, he agreed. Anyway, it's a
peach. Come up and have a look at it.
No, thanks. I'm not buying rugs to-day.
Tell you what I'll do, pursued Durkin, undismayed. I'll fetch it
over to your room and you can see how it looks. It's got perfectly
wonderful tones ofof old rose andand blue and
Nothing doing, Durkin. We don't need any rugs.
You're missing a bargain, warned the other. Say, I've still got
that shoe-blacking stand I told you about. No, I didn't tell you, did
I? I left a note under your door one evening, though. Did you get it?
Note? Why, yes, I think so. Yes, we got it. I'd forgotten.
Durkin chuckled. That was the time I gave Sawyer the scare.
How? asked Steve idly.
Didn't he tell you?
Sawyer? Not likely. And Steve smiled.
That's so, I did hear that you and he were scrapping one day. You
used to be pretty chummy, though, didn't you?
Never, replied Steve with emphasis. Durkin blinked again and
Well, he was trying to find you that night. So I supposed
The night I went to tell you about that shoe-blacking stand. It's
almost as good as new, Edwards
You say Sawyer was looking for me that night? How do you know? He
couldn't have been, because I'd met him earlier in the hall
I don't know. He said he was. Anyhow, he was in your room
Sawyer? demanded Steve incredulously. Eric Sawyer?
You're crazy, laughed Steve.
Well, he was, answered the other indignantly. He came out just as
I was tucking that note under the door and fell over me and let out a
yell you could have heard half-way to New York. You see, I didn't know
there was anyone there. I knocked at first and thought I heard someone
moving around in there. Then I tried the door and it was locked
You had the wrong room, said Steve. We never lock our door except
when we go to bed.
Wrong room nothing! You got the note, didn't you? Well, I didn't
leave any notes anywhere else.
Butnow, look here, Durkin. I want to get this right. You say you
went to our room and knocked andWas there a light there?
No. The transom was dark. When I couldn't get in I went back down
the corridor to where the light is and scribbled that note. Then I went
back and tucked it under the door. I guess I didn't make much noise
because I had a pair of rubber-soled shoes on and so Sawyer didn't hear
me. Anyway, he opened the door just then and it was fairly dark there
and he nearly broke his silly neck on me. Scared me, too, for the
matter of that! I didn't think there was anyone in there. Say, is there
anything up? You look sort of funny.
N-no, nothing much. You're sure it was Sawyer who came out?
Of course I'm sure. He let out a yell and picked himself up and
began to scold. Wanted to know what I meant by it and I said I was
sticking a note under your door and he said 'Oh!' and something about
wanting to see you and waiting for you. Then he said he guessed you
weren't coming back yet and he'd go on.
What time was this, Durkin?
Oh, a little after eight, I suppose; half-past, maybe. I stopped to
see Whittaker on the floor below, I remember. He said he'd look at that
stand, but he never did. If you want a bargain, Edwards, now's your
chance. I'll let you have it for a dollar and a quarter. It cost two
and a half. I bought it from
Oh, confound your old stand! Look here, Durkin, will you tell Mr.
Daley just what you've told me if I want you to?
Eh? asked Durkin in alarm. Oh, I don't know. I don't want to get
anyone into trouble. II'd rather not, I guess. You see, Sawyer
If you will, II'll buy your old shoe-blacking stand or your rug
oror anything you like! said Steve earnestly. Will you?
Why, maybe I might if you put it that way. The rug's two dollars.
All right, answered Steve impatiently. Where are you going to be
for the next hour?
Upstairs, practising. Come and see it any time you like. It really
is a peach, Edwards, and it's scarcely worn at all. Itit's a prayer
rug, too, and they're scarcer than hens' teeth nowadays!
But Steve was already yards away and Durkin shrugged his shoulders
and turned back into Torrence.
Wonder what's up, he murmured. I'd hate to get Sawyer into a
scrape. Still, if he will buy that rug
CHAPTER XXIV. THE DAY BEFORE THE
Tom was attiring himself in his Sunday best. It was almost six
o'clock and one of Hoskins' barges was to leave Main Hall at half-past
with the members of the second team, for this was the evening of the
banquet in the village. Tom didn't feel unduly hilarious, however. He
was sorry that the football season was over, for one thing, for he
loved the game. And then existence of late had been fairly wearing and
mighty unsatisfactory. His quarrel with Steve was a tiresome affair and
he didn't see just how it was to end. For his part, in spite of the
fact that his chum had hurt him a good deal by his mean suspicion of
him, he was ready to make up, onlywell, he had some pride, after all,
and it did seem as if the first overtures should come from Steve. No,
on the whole, Tom wasn't looking forward to the banquet with any great
amount of enjoyment. If Steve was going to be there, too
Someone came hurrying down the corridor, the room door flew open and
there stood Steve himself, a radiant and embarrassed look on his face,
his gaze searching the room for Tom. His face fell a little as he found
the room apparently empty, and then lighted again as his glance
discovered Tom at the closet door, Tom half-dressed and with a pair of
trousers dangling over his arm. Out went Steve's hand as he turned.
I'm sorry, Tom, he said simply. I was a beast.
Tom took the hand that was offered and squeezed it hard.
That's all right, he stammered. So was I.
No, you were right, Tom, answered Steve convincedly. I hadn't any
business suspecting you of a thing like that. Andand I want to tell
you first that I knew I was wrong a long time ago, before this
happened. You believe that, don't you?
Yes, Steve, butwhat is it that's happened?
It's all clear as daylight, said Steve, grinning happily as he
seated himself on the bed and tossing his cap toward the table. It was
Sawyer did it. He put up the whole job. He fessed up when 'Horace' got
at him. Durkin met him coming out and
Hold on! begged Tom. I don't quite get you, Steve!
Steve laughed. Sort of confused narrative, eh? Well, listen, then.
Drop those trousers and sit down a minute.
All right, but the barge leaves at half-past
Never you mind the barge, old man! You're not going in it. I'll
come to that later, though.
Take your time, said Tom, dropping into a chair. I love to hear
your innocent prattle.
Shut up! It's like this, Tom. I met Durkin awhile ago and he got to
talking about that shoe-blacking stand. Remember the note he left here
that night? Tom nodded. Well, it came out that while he was putting
it under our door Eric Sawyer walked out and fell over him.
Out of here?
Right-o! Sawyer said he'd been waiting to see me. Now you remember
I'd seen him coming out of Daley's room earlier, eh? Well, it seems
that Sawyer saw a chance to put up a game on me. So after I'd gone
upstairs again, he sneaked back to 'Horace's' room, got that confounded
blue-book of Upton's and waited his chance. After we'd left the room he
came up here and slid the thing among some books on the table there.
While he was in here Durkin came along and knocked and Sawyer slipped
over and locked the door. Then he waited until he thought Durkin had
gone and unlocked the door again and came out. But old Durkin had
written a note to us down under the light and come back with it and he
was putting it under the door when Sawyer came out and fell over him.
Of course, when Durkin told me that I had a hunch what had happened and
I hot-footed it to 'Horace.' He confessed that it was Sawyer who had
told him he'd seen me carrying off the book. So he streaked off after
Sawyer, found him somewhere and took him to Durkin's room. Sawyer
Were you there too? asked Tom excitedly.
No, he told me to wait in his study for him. He was back in about a
half-hour looking sort of worried. Of course Sawyer had to own up. He
told 'Horace' that he'd just done it for a joke, but 'Horace' didn't
believe him for a cent. And there you are! Steve ended in breathless
triumph. Tom viewed him round-eyed.
Whatwhat about Sawyer? he asked.
I don't know for certain, but I think Sawyer's on pro. Anyway, Tom,
I know this much: You don't go to any old banquet to-night.
I don't? Why don't I?
Because I met Lawrence downstairs a few minutes ago. He was looking
Wh-what for? asked Tom faintly.
Robey says you're not to break training, Tom! You're to report at
the 'varsity table to-night for supper! Whereupon Steve, his eyes
dancing, jumped from the bed and pulled Tom to his feet. What do you
say to that, old Tommikins? he exulted.
Tom, dazed, smiled weakly. Do you meando you mean they want me to
play? he murmured.
Oh, no, scoffed Steve, pushing him toward the bed on which he
subsided in a heap. They want you to carry the footballs and sweep the
gridiron! Of course they want you to play, you old sobersides! Don't
you see that with Sawyer on pro there's a big hole in the line? I
suppose they'll give Churchill the first chance at it, but he won't
last the game through. Think of both you and I making the 'varsity,
Tom! How's that for luck, eh? Not bad for the old Tannersville High
School, is it? I guess we've gone and put Tannersville on the map,
Gee, I'm scared! muttered Tom, looking up at Steve with wide eyes.
II don't believe I'll do it!
You don't, eh? Well, you're going to do it! Get your old duds on
and hurry up. It's after six.
I'll have to tell Brownell I'm not going to the feast. Tom gazed
fascinatedly at his best trousers draped across the chair back.
Anyway, I wasn't keen on goingwithout you, he murmured.
There's only one drawback, said Steve a few minutes later, when
they were on their way to supper. And that is that I promised Durkin
to buy a rug from him.
A rug? We don't need any rug, do we? asked Tom.
Not a bit. But this is a genuine Begorra; Durkin says so himself.
And I agreed to buy it if he'd tell 'Horace' about Sawyer.
Unlessunless you'd rather have the shoe-blacking stand, Tom?
I would. If we had that, perhaps you'd keep your shoes decent!
Steve tipped Tom's cap over his eyes. Rude ruffian! he growled
There was no practice at Brimfield Friday, for as soon as the last
recitation of the day was over the 'varsity team and substitutes piled
into two of Hoskins' barges in front of Main Hall to be driven over to
Oakdale, some five miles distant. The school assembled to see them off,
and there was much hilarity and noise. Joe Lawrence, note-book in hand,
flustered and anxious, mounted the steps and called the names of the
Here, responded Benson from where, at the far end of one of the
barges, he sat, crutches in hand, looking a bit disconsolate.
Churchill, Corcoran, Edwards, Fowler, Gleason, Guild, Hall, Harris,
Coming fast! shouted a voice from the edge of the throng, and the
big centre, suit-case in hand, pushed his way toward the barges.
Right through! laughed the fellows. Hit the line, Innes! A-a-ay!
Kendall, continued Lawrence. Lacey, Marvin, Miller, Milton,
McClure, Norton, Roberts, Still, Thursby, Williams!
All present and accounted for, announced a voice in the crowd.
Coach Robey and Boots appeared. Danny Moore, who with Gus, the
rubber, sat on the driver's seat surrounded with suit-cases, took the
bags, Joe Lawrence and Tracey Black, assistant manager, squeezed into
the already overcrowded barges, Blaisdell, baseball captain, called for
a cheer and, amidst a thunderous farewell, the squad, grinning and
waving, disappeared down the drive, through the gate and out on to the
Oakdale was fairly deserted at this time of year. Most of the summer
cottages were closed, but the little hotel kept open the year around,
and when, at four o'clock, the barges pulled up in front of it, fires
were snapping in the open fireplaces and everything was in readiness
for the squad's reception. Followed a very merry and rather boisterous
time while the fellows, bags in hand, sought their rooms to don their
togs and report for light practice on the lawn. There was only signal
drill to-day, and that was brief. Afterwards the centres practised
passing and the kickers limbered up a little, but by five the work was
over and the fellows were free to do what they liked. Some gathered
around the two big fireplaces in the hotel, others went for strolls
along the road, and still others, Steve and Tom amongst the number,
sought the little cove nearby where a diminutive and rather pebbly
beach curved from point to point and a boat-landing stuck out into the
quiet water. The trees and grass went almost to the edge and there were
comfortable benches along the bank from which one might look across the
Sound to the Long Island shore or watch the boats pass. It had been a
fair, mild day and the light still held. Steve and Tom sauntered down
to the float and Steve dipped an inquiring hand into the water.
Say, that isn't a bit cold, he announced. What do you say to a
Fine, only we haven't any suits.
Maybe they've got some at the hotel. Let's ask. On the way up they
met Norton, Williams and Marvin. Come on in swimming, fellows, called
Can we? asked Norton. Who says so?
Why not? We're going to see if we can find some trunks or
All right. You'd better ask the coach, though. This from Marvin.
He's in the office, I think. If you find any trunks bring some for us,
The clerk was rather dubious at first, but eventually returned with
a miscellaneous collection of bathing togs from which the boys finally
evolved three pairs of trunks and two suits. Meanwhile Mr. Robey had
given hesitant permission.
If the water's very cold, Edwards, don't try it, please. And, in
any case, don't stay in more than ten minutes. That goes for all of
There was a bathing pavilion farther along, reached from the little
beach by a flight of wooden steps, and to this the five boys proceeded,
examining the attire the clerk had provided with much amusement.
I won't be able to swim a stroke, declared Norton. I'll just be
doubled up laughing at Hath in that blue-striped thing he has there.
Huh, growled Williams, I don't think you'll get any prizes for
By this time the news of their exploit had gone out and other
fellows were hurrying to the hotel to seek bathing suits. A few secured
them and the rest followed down to watch. When they met outside,
dressed for the plunge, the five went off into gales of laughter.
Hatherton Williams in a blue-and-white-striped suit many sizes too
small for him cut a ridiculous figure, while Norton, whose faded red
trunks had lost their gathering string, held his attire frantically
with one hand and implored a pin! Tom's trunks were strained to the
bursting point and Steve's were inches too large for him. Only Marvin
had fared well, being dressed in what he called a real classy
two-piece suit. The two pieces didn't match in either colour or
material, but they nearly fitted and, unlike Hatherton Williams'
regalia, were innocent of holes. Norton declared that he was extremely
glad it was getting dark, since otherwise if the pin one of the
onlookers had supplied him with gave way, he'd have to stay in the
Steve and Marvin led the way to the float and they all plunged in.
Tom, shaking the water from his head, faced Steve accusingly when he
had regained his breath. Thought you said it wasn't cold! he
shrieked. It's freezing! Br-r-r!
Move around and get warm, advised Norton, striking out. It isn't
bad when you get used to it.
But Tom, accustomed to the tempered water of the school tank,
groaned and refused to be optimistic. Bet it isn't a bit over
forty-five, he muttered.
Steve was already well out in the cove, pursued by Norton. Some of
the boys who had failed to find suits had launched a decrepit rowboat
and, with one broken oar, were splashing about near the float. Far out
in the Sound a big white steamer passed eastward, her lights showing
white in the gathering darkness and the strains from her orchestra
coming faintly across the quiet water. The boys in the rowboat stopped
skylarking to discuss what steamer it was, and Marvin, who had swam up
behind and laid hands on the gunwale, told them that it was the
Lusitania and that if they didn't agree with him he'd tip them
over. Discussion ceased at once. The four mariners instantly declared
that he was right. Churchill even went so far as to say that he had
known it was the Lusitania all the time; that he could always
tell her by her funnels. Innes, who was seated in the stern and filling
his position to the limit, acknowledged that for an instantoh, the
merest fraction of a second!he had thought the steamer was the
Ne'er-do-well, Berlin to Kansas City, but that he had seen his
mistake almost instantly! By which time, the Priscilla, New York
to Fall River, had passed out of sight, and Marvin, merely tipping the
boat until the water ran in a bit over one side, just as a mark of
esteem, swam off before Guild could reach him with the broken oar.
Tom and Williams were paddling about not far off the landing, Tom
floating on his back most of the time and complaining about the
temperature of the water, when Norton swam up, puffing and blowing.
Where's Steve? asked Tom. Norton nodded toward the Long Island
Somewhere out there, he answered. He was too much for me. I had
to quit. The chump swims like aa dolphin. I'm going in, fellows. I'm
I guess we'd all better, agreed Williams. Hello! What's that?
Help! From somewhere beyond the mouth of the little cove
the cry came, sharp, imperative, and was repeated again while they
It's Edwards, muttered Norton uneasily. I suppose he's only
trying to get a rise out of us. He can swim like
Must be, agreed Williams. Can you see him?
The cove was dim now and the surface of the water beyond held a
sheen of light that confused the vision.
I'm not sure, muttered Norton. I thought I didfor a minute.
Who was that yelling out there? shouted one of the fellows in the
Must be Edwards, answered Williams. Can you see him?
No. Do you suppose
Help! This way! The cry came again, fainter now, and
someone in the boat seized the broken oar and began to churn the water
with it, sending the crazy craft circling about in its length.
He's in trouble! cried Norton. Cramps, probably. I'm off, Hath.
Will you come? Where's Hall?
He started a minute ago, answered Williams, striking out with long
hard sweeps of legs and arms. There he is, ahead.
Come on with that boat, you fellows! shouted Norton. And hurry it
CHAPTER XXV. TOM TO THE RESCUE
We've only got one oar, answered a desperate voice.
Put it over the stern and scull it, directed someone on the float.
There was a splash in reply, and Innes, who had promptly vacated his
seat, crawled dripping to the landing. Hatherton, Williams, Norton and
Marvin were already swimming desperately toward the mouth of the cove,
while several fellows on land were running hard to the point, following
the curving shore. The rowboat was at last under way, but making slow
progress. Norton was the best swimmer of the trio, or, at least, the
fastest, and Williams and Marvin were soon hopelessly in the rear. But
Norton, if he could distance the other two, found that he was gaining
but slowly on Tom, who, swimming as he had never swam before, as he
didn't know he could swim, was already well out toward the mouth of the
His limbs were aching already, and his lungs were hurting as he
fought his way through the water and against a slow-coming tide. But
the only thought that possessed him was that Steve was in trouble out
there, perhaps drowning, and that he must get to him. The water
splashed into his eyes and blinded him, for Tom was not an adept
swimmer, and not once could he so much as sight Steve. Neither was the
appeal for help repeated and Tom's heart sank. Behind him, as he was
dimly aware, others were following, and he wished they would hurry.
Once, when he was opposite the points, he tried to call, but his lungs
were too tired to respond in more than a whisper. Then he was past the
gloom of the cove, the water was alight with the afterglow and little
choppy waves dashed against him. Gasping, he paused an instant, brushed
one arm against his dripping face and looked about him. For a moment
nothing met his anxious gaze. Then a darker spot on the darkening water
appeared a dozen yards away and Tom went on desperately, panic-stricken
for fear that when he reached it it would prove to be only a bit of
[Illustration: It was Steve, Steve on his back, with only his head
and shoulders above the water]
But it wasn't. It was Steve, Steve on his back, with only his head
and shoulders above the water, eyes closed in a dead-white face and his
arms weakly moving now and then as though in an unconscious endeavour
to keep the helpless body afloat. A great wave of relief and joy almost
stopped Tom's heart for an instant. Then his hand went out and caught
one of Steve's wrists.
It's all right, Steve, he gasped weakly. Don't grab me. They're
coming with the boat.
There was no reply from Steve, and Tom, pulling the arm over his
shoulder, as he had seen Steve himself do so many times in the tank
when illustrating the way to rescue a drowning person, felt the weight
of the inert form on his back as he turned and strove to swim slowly
back toward the cove. To swim with one arm, even to keep himself afloat
so, was no light task for Tom, and now, with the weight of Steve's body
bearing him down, he found the struggle too much for him. He
relinquished all attempts to swim and centred his efforts in keeping
afloat. If only Norton and the rest would come! He listened. There was
a splashing somewhere nearby, but it was too dark now to see a dozen
feet away. Tom drew all the breath he could find into his lungs and let
it out in a weak shout.
Help! he gasped. Here!
Then there was an answering hail from close by, a mighty churning of
the water and a dim form plunged alongside.
Have you got him? cried Norton. Give him to me, Hall. Hath! Over
Tom didn't relinquish quite all his burden, though. He still had one
of Steve's arms around his neck when, a minute later, Marvin and
Williams having reached them meanwhile, the rowboat appeared out of the
darkness. It was no light task to get Steve into the boat, but it was
accomplished somehow, and then, Tom dragging astern, hands clutching
the gunwale grimly, and the others, too, claiming at least partial
support from the boat, the rescuers turned shoreward. Wisely,
Churchill, who handled the oar, headed the boat toward the nearer
point, and when the keel grounded, eager hands were waiting to lift
Steve out and hurry him back to the hotel. Tom crawled out of the water
and subsided on the bank, still fighting for breath and feeling rather
sick at his stomach. Between Fowler and Milton he was lifted and half
carried, weakly protesting that he could walk all right and promptly
crumpling up when they allowed him to try.
Steve had been taken up to the room he was occupying, and Danny
Moore was administering to him when Tom was brought in and laid on his
bed. Steve was already talking weakly and Danny was telling him to keep
Don't be talking, he said. Fit that bottle to your back and keep
covered up. You'll be fine in an hour. An' who've you got there? Well,
if it ain't my old friend Jim Hall!
Tom smiled faintly as Danny bent over him.
An' so you been tryin' to drown yourself too, have you? continued
Danny. Well, well,'tis queer tastes you have, the two of you! Drink a
bit o' this, Jim, and lie still.
Mr. Robey came in and Danny nodded reassuringly to him. They'll be
fine as fiddles in an hour, Coach. Now you boys scatter out o' here an'
leave them have a bit nap.
Tom didn't remember much for awhile after that, for he must have
fallen promptly to sleep. When he awoke, the light was turned low and
Steve was sitting on the edge of the bed. On a chair beside him was a
tray from which appetizing odours curled toward him. Tom blinked
Hello, he murmured. What's up?
I am and you're not, answered Steve. I've brought you some
supper. Are you hungry?
Recollection returned then and Tom observed his chum anxiously.
Are you all right! he demanded. Did they say you could get up?
Of course. You can too after you eat. But you were asleep and Danny
said you might as well have it out. How are you feeling?
Tom sat up experimentally and took a deep breath. All right, he
answered stoutly, although as a matter of fact he was full of stiff
spots and queer aches. Andand I'm hungry.
Good stuff! laughed Steve. He lifted the tray to Tom's lap and
took the covers from the dishes. There isn't an awful lot here, he
added apologetically, but Danny said you'd be better if you didn't eat
such a big supper. Do you mind?
No, I guess there's enough. That soup smells good. What's that
there? Roast beef? Fine! And Tom fell diligently to work.
Steve watched in silence a moment. Then,
I say, Tom, he said.
Huh? asked the other, his mouth full.
You know II'm much obliged.
Tom nodded carelessly. All right, he said in a gruff voice. It
wasn't anything. Norton and Williams and those others did it.
You got there first, said Steve. I guess if you hadn't II
wouldn't have waited for the rest. It was mighty plucky, andand
Oh, cut it, growled Tom. It wasn't anything, you ass. What the
dickens did you go away out there for anyway? Tom became indignant.
Haven't you got any sense?
Not much, laughed Steve. Then, soberly, It's the first time I
ever had cramps, and I don't ever want them again! I thought I was a
goner there for a while, Tom. They caught me right across the small of
my back and I couldn't any more move my legs than I could fly. All I
could do was shout and wiggle my arms a bit, and the pain was just as
though somethingsay a swordfishwas cutting me in two! Steve shook
his head soberly. Itit was fierce, Tom!
Serves you right! You had no business swimming way out there in
water like that and scaring us all to pieces! Tom was very severe as
to language, but the effect was somewhat marred by the fact that he had
filled his mouth with food. Nevertheless, Steve took the rebuke quite
meekly. All he said was:
And think of you rescuing me, Tom! Why, you aren't any sort of a
swimmer! But it certainly was mighty pluck
Tom pointed a fork at Steve and interrupted indignantly. It was
necessary to head Steve off from further expressions of gratitude. I
like your cheek! said Tom. Can't swim! How do you suppose I got out
there to you, you silly chump? You didn't see any water-wings or
life-preservers floating around, did you? Or do you think I walked?
Can't swim! Well, of all the
You know what I mean, Tom. I meant you couldn't swimerwell,
that you weren't a wonder at it!
Huh! grunted Tom. Don't you talk about swimming after this. You
weren't doing much of it when I got to you!
No one can swim when he has cramps, responded Steve meekly. How
was the supper?
Tom gazed at the empty dishes. All rightas far as it went. I'm
going to get up. What time is it and what's going on downstairs?
Nothing much just now. We just got through supper. They're taking
the chairs and tables out of the dining-room so we can have signal
drill at eight. Mr. Robey said you were to get into it if you felt all
right. There's someone else downstairs who wants to see you too. And
Steve grinned wickedly. I told him I'd try to arrange an interview.
Who is it? asked Tom suspiciously.
His name is Murray.
I don't know any Murray. What is this, a joke?
Far from it, Tom. Mr. Murray is a newspaper man. He came over to
get the line-up for to-morrow's game from Mr. Robey and got here just
as they were talking about that silly stunt of mine. He laid around and
waited for me and got it all out before I knew he was a newspaper chap.
Now he wants to see you. I think he wants your photograph, Tom!
You were a silly ass to talk to him, Steve. He will go and put it
in the paper, I suppose.
Wouldn't be surprised, agreed Steve, smiling. He seemed to think
he had a fine yarn. Of course I laid it on pretty thick about your
heroism and all that.
Tom viewed him darkly as he got into his coat. If you did
Take me back to the Sound and drop me in again! No, I didn't, Tom,
but he does know all about it and of course he will put it in the
papers. 'Boots' says thethe Something-or-Other Press will get hold of
it and send it all over the country. I've been wondering whether we
ought to telegraph the folks so they won't have a fit if they read
about it to-morrow.
What's the use? They'll know you're all right. Bet you that Mr.
Newspaper Man doesn't catch me, though! Who's that hitting the
Gleason, I guess. He was playing before supper. He's fine, too.
Knows a whole bunch of college songs and stuff from the musical shows.
We're going to have a concert after practice. They say Danny Moore can
sing like a bird. Andy was telling me that last year they had a regular
vaudeville show here. Everybody did something, you know; sang or danced
or spoke a piece. It must have been lots of fun. I wish
Steve, who had been wandering around the room, hands in pockets,
paused as he caught the expression on Tom's face. What's the matter?
That's what I want to know, replied Tom. Seems to me you're
mighty chatty all of a sudden. Is it the effect of the bath?
Steve smiled, sighed and shook his head. Tom, he said, I've just
got to talk or do something this evening. II'm as nervous as aa
cat! Ever feel that way?
Tom viewed him scornfully as he patted his tie into place. Have I?
Why, you silly chump, I'm scared to death this minute! Whenever I think
aboutabout to-morrow I want to run down to the ocean and swim
straight across to Africa!
Honest? Steve brightened perceptibly. But you don't show it,
What's the good of showing it? All I hope is that the barge will
make so much noise going back to-morrow that you won't hear my knees
CHAPTER XXVI. AT THE END OF THE
Saturday dawned clear and crisp, with a little westerly breeze
stirring the tops of the leafless trees and fluttering the big maroon
flag with the grey B that hung from the staff at the back of the grand
stand. That was not the only flag displayed, for here and there all
along the Row small banners hung from windows, while to add to the
patriotic effect all the red and grey cushions in school were piled
against the casements to lend their colour. There were few recitations
that morning and there might just as well have been none, I fancy. The
squad got back from Oakdale at one-thirty, after an early dinner, and
were driven directly to the gymnasium, pursued by the school at large
with vociferous greetings.
Claflin began to put in an appearance soon after that. Hitherto
Brimfield had travelled to Westplains to meet her rival, and this was
the first time that the Blue had invaded the Maroon-and-Grey fastness.
Hoskins did a rushing business that day, for Claflin had sent nearly
her entire population with the team, and many of the visitors were
forced to walk from the station. There was an insouciant,
self-confident air about the Claflin fellows that impressed Brimfield
and irritated her too. You'd think, remarked Benson, watching from a
window in the gym the visitors passing toward the field, that they had
the game already won! A stuck-up lot of dudes, that's what I call
them! But Benson was not in the best of tempers to-day and possibly
his judgment was warped!
The Claflin team arrived in one of Hoskins' barges and took
possession of the meeting-room upstairs to change into their togs. They
were a fine-looking lot of fellows, and they, too, had that same air of
confidence that Benson had found annoying. By a quarter past two the
stage was set. The grand stand was filled to overflowing, the settees
and chairs, which had been brought out to supplement the permanent
seats, were all occupied, and many spectators were standing along the
ropes. Over the stand the big maroon-and-grey banner floated lazily in
the breeze. The field had been newly marked out and the cream-white
lines shone dazzlingly in the sharp sunlight. It was a day for light
wraps and sweaters, but many visitors, arriving in motor cars that were
now parked behind the gymnasium, were clad in furs. It was distinctly a
social occasion, for fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts and
uncles had descended upon the school in numbers and half the fellows
were parading around before the hour set for the game with admiring
relatives or friends, showing their rooms and the dining-hall and the
gymnasium, and looking all the time a bit bored at the fuss and
secretly enjoying it. Harry Westcott was seen with his father and
sister in tow, while Roy Draper was surrounded by an enthusiastic flock
of female relatives.
Overhead a clear blue sky, scarcely so much as flecked with a cloud,
arched radiantly. The breeze was much too light to place a handicap on
either goal, and when, at a quarter after two, the visiting team
trotted across from the gymnasium, ducked under the rope at the end of
the grand stand and started to warm up it was seen that the long punts
she sent away showed scarcely any influence from the wind. Of course
Claflin, banked at the east end of the stand, greeted her warriors
royally, and, of course, Brimfield gave them a hearty cheer, too. But
that acclaim was nothing to the burst of applause that went up when the
home team, twenty strong, led by Andy Miller, romped on. Then Brimfield
shouted herself hoarse and made such a clamour that the cheer which the
Claflin leaders evoked a moment later sounded like a whisper by
Ten minutes of brisk signal work, punting, catching and goal-kicking
followed, and then, while along the road an occasional screech from a
belated automobile sounded, the teams retired to opposite sides of the
field, the maroon-and-grey megaphones, which had been keeping time to a
song sung by some hundred and thirty youths, died away and the
comparative quiet that precedes the beginning of battle fell over the
field. The officials met on the side line and then, accompanied by
Captain Miller, walked to the centre of the field. From the farther
side a blue-sleeved and blue-stockinged youth advanced to meet them. A
coin spun, glittering, in the air, fell, rolled and was recovered.
Heads bent above it, the group broke up and Andy Miller waved to his
players. Then blankets and sweaters were cast aside and ten
maroon-sleeved youths gathered about their leader. There was a
low-voiced conference and the team scattered over the east end of the
field. Brimfield had won the toss, had given the kick-off to Claflin
and Captain Burrage had chosen the west goal and what slight advantage
might come from a breeze at his back.
Andy Miller and the two coaches had arranged the line-up the evening
before. There had been some indecision as to filling one or two
positions for the start of the game, and the line-up as it was
presented when the whistle blew held several surprises for the school.
Here it is, and the Claflin list as well:
Roberts, l. e. r. e., Chester
Lacey, l. t. r. t., Mears
Fowler, l. g. r. g., Colwell
Innes, c. c., Kenney
Hall, r. g. l. g., Johnson
Williams, r. t. l. t., Bentley
Miller, r. e. l. e., Mumford
Milton, q. b. q. b., Ainsmith
Harris, l. h. b. r. h. b., Burrage
Kendall, r. h. b. l. h. b., Whittemore
Norton, f. b. f. b., Atkinson
Are you ready, Brimfield? Ready, Claflin?
The whistle piped, a Claflin linesman stepped forward, swung a long
leg and the battle was on. Williams caught the ball on the thirty-yard
line. On a fake kick play Miller tried Claflin's right tackle and made
but two yards. Norton punted to Claflin's thirty, where Burrage fumbled
the ball and Ainsmith recovered it. Claflin at once punted out of
bounds to Brimfield's forty-five-yard mark. Kendall made three yards
around the enemy's right end and then, on the next play, failed at the
line. Milton tried a forward pass to Miller, but the ball grounded and
Norton kicked to Claflin's twenty-yard line.
Two tries by the Blue netted little and she again punted and the
ball was Brimfield's on her own forty-seven yards. Harris failed to
gain through Claflin's left tackle and Brimfield was penalised fifteen
yards for holding. On a criss-cross against left tackle Harris was
tackled for a loss and Norton then punted to Whittemore and the latter
ran the ball back fifteen yards before he was stopped. On a try through
Hall the Blue's full-back failed to gain. But on a second attempt at
the other side of centre he smashed through for seven yards. A delayed
pass by the Claflin quarter gave his side first down on Brimfield's
thirty-five-yard line. Atkinson again tried Hall and gained less than a
yard. Ainsmith attempted the Brimfield left end and was thrown by
Harris for a five-yard loss. Captain Burrage tried Brimfield's right
end and failed. With one down left and fifteen yards to gain Burrage
tried a forward pass. It was successfully captured, but the distance
was short and the pigskin went to Brimfield on her thirty-eight yards.
Norton punted on first down and Claflin returned it. Kendall
misjudged the ball and it rolled to the Maroon's twelve yards. Milton
fell on it there. Kendall and Norton gained two yards each through
centre, and Norton punted to Brimfield's forty-five yard line, where
Burrage made a fair catch.
The stands grew very quiet while the Claflin quarter-back poised the
ball. Then Burrage stepped forward and sent it speeding away. But the
kick was short and Norton caught the ball on his five-yard line and,
behind excellent interference, ran it back to the thirty-yard line
before he was thrown by Chester. From there Norton punted to the Blue's
thirty and Claflin returned the punt on first down to her adversary's
forty yards. Harris caught it, but was nailed in his tracks by Mumford,
who made a spectacular tackle which won applause from friend and foe
alike. Time was called for an injury to Mumford, but he was soon on his
Claflin was penalised for off-side on the next play. Norton went
through right guard for first down and Brimfield shouted joyously.
Kendall failed to gain. Norton made a yard and then dropped back to
kick formation. The play, however, proved to be a forward pass to
Roberts. Roberts was out of position and the pigskin was intercepted by
the Claflin quarter. It was then the Blue's ball on her forty-five
yards. Hall let the runner through for a yard and Claflin pulled off a
successful forward pass to her left end on Brimfield's thirty-nine-yard
line. The Blue's full-back was stopped in an attempt on the opposite
right tackle and a penalty for off-side brought the ball to near the
middle of the field. Claflin then punted to Brimfield's seven yards and
the whistle sounded the end of the first quarter.
The stand cheered while the players traversed the field to line up
under the shadow of the west goal.
Brimfield thrust Norton at the Claflin centre when the play began
again and the big full-back made three yards. Then he dropped behind
his goal-line and punted, the ball going out of bounds at the
twenty-four yards. Claflin cheered loudly as the teams lined up.
Claflin's full-back made a yard through the centre, but lost the
distance when, on the next down, he went against Lacey. Captain Burrage
dropped back to kicking position on the thirty-five-yard line and once
more Brimfield's goal was in danger. The pass was straight and true.
Burrage dropped the ball and swung his foot. But two Brimfield forwards
had broken through and as the ball left the ground Andy Miller blocked
it. There was a mad scramble for the pigskin, Williams at last falling
on it on his twenty-five yards. Norton punted poorly, the ball going
diagonally across the gridiron, and it was Claflin's first down on
Brimfield's twenty-eight yards. Atkinson came through centre for a
yard, and then Burrage once more dropped back for a try at goal. The
attempt looked rather desperate, for the kicker was standing almost on
the forty-yard line, but Brimfield's supporters held their breaths
until the Claflin half-back had swung his long leg. Then a vast shout
of relief went up from where the maroon-and-grey megaphones waved
tumultuously, for Burrage had made a bad mess of the drop-kick and the
ball rolled along the ground and was captured by a Brimfield back.
Still went in for Harris, who had been hurt in the scramble. On the
second down, with seven to go, Norton received the ball at full speed
from Milton, broke through the Claflin line and, pursued by the wild
cheers of the Brimfield spectators, made fifty-five yards through a
broken field, at last landing the ball on Claflin's twenty-yard line.
It looked as though Brimfield's moment of victory was at hand. Time was
taken out for a Claflin injury and eventually Atkinson was replaced by
a substitute. Brimfield made two tries at the enemy's right end and
gained four yards. Williams dropped out of the line and retreated to
Claflin's twenty-five-yard line. The ball was almost opposite the
middle of the cross-bar when it went back to him on the pass from
centre, but Innes had thrown it low and Williams was hurried by the
Blue's forwards, who came crashing through. The ball went three yards
wide of the left-hand upright and Brimfield in the stand groaned.
Claflin put the ball in play on her twenty-five yards and Whittemore
punted to Milton on Brimfield's forty-five. Milton plunged back some
twelve yards before he was brought down. Norton punted on second down
to the Blue's ten yards and the ball was run back ten by the Claflin
quarter. The game then became a punting duel and after three exchanges
Kendall, getting the ball on his own thirty-five-yard line, ran it back
to the opponent's forty, dodging beautifully through a broken field and
throwing off at least a half-dozen tacklers. Brimfield tried Claflin's
left tackle twice and totalled five yards. A penalty, however, set her
back ten yards, and Norton punted again to Claflin's twenty yards.
Gleason was sent in by Coach Robey in place of Lacey. Claflin failed to
gain and Whittemore punted to Still on the Maroon's forty-four yards.
Norton tried the enemy's centre and failed of a gain and then punted
out of bounds at Claflin's fifteen. Claflin sent in a substitute right
end and Coach Robey put Corcoran in for Kendall. Claflin punted to
midfield and Corcoran made one yard through the enemy's centre. An
off-side play by the Blue gave Brimfield five yards and took the ball
to the Blue's forty. Still gained two at left tackle and the half ended
with the pigskin on Claflin's thirty-eight yards, the score 0 to 0.
The teams trotted off, blanket-draped, toward the gymnasium, the
substitutes trailing along behind, and the stand broke into excited
discussion of the game. So far the honours had been fairly even,
although toward the end of the second period the ball had remained in
Claflin territory most of the time. In fact, after Williams' try for
goal, the pigskin had never been nearer to Brimfield's last white mark
than her thirty-five-yard line. Claflin averaged some four and a half
pounds more than the home team, but in spite of that an unbiased critic
would have given Brimfield the honours in the attacking game. Her play
seemed smoother, her men better drilled. Neither team had shown great
ability at line-plunging, although Norton's fine rush of fifty-five
yards and Kendall's run of twenty-five gave Brimfield the benefit of
the ground-gained figures. Each side had good reason to claim the
ultimate victory, and each did so, meanwhile cheering and singing and
working the enthusiasm up to a fine pitch.
CHAPTER XXVII. STEVE SMILES
Steve caught up with Tom on the way to the gymnasium. Tom was a
disreputable looking object. His upper lip had been cut and had swollen
to almost twice its normal size, and he had lost half an inch of skin
from one cheek. When he smiled, which he did as Steve grabbed him by
the arm, the effect was absolutely diabolical.
You're the goods, Tommikins! exclaimed Steve, squeezing the arm he
held. They didn't make an inch through you. You were great!
They got through once or twice, mumbled Tom.
Oh, for a yard or so, scoffed Steve. Who gave you that peach of a
Johnson, I think. He touched it gingerly. It feels as big as a
You're a blooming hero, Tom. Say, Marvin told me the New York
papers have got all about that business at Oakdale yesterday. He didn't
see it, but someone told him. Wouldn't you love to read what they say?
I'm going to get the papers as soon as the game's over.
Silly rot, mumbled Tom. They were waiting for the throng ahead to
get through the doorway. When they followed Tom paused a moment in the
hallway, his gaze following the striped legs of the Claflin players as
they went up the stairs. Steve tugged at his arm.
Come on, slow-poke! What's the matter?
Nothing. That is, I was just thinking how rotten those fellows will
feel if they get beaten.
Maybe they won't, said Steve soberly. If they don't, think how
rotten we'll feel!
Tom smiled, wincing with the twinge from his swollen lip. I suppose
someone's got to feel bad. Come on.
In the locker room and in the rubbing room beyond all was bustle.
The rubber was hard at work over the table and Danny Moore was already
busy with surgeon's plaster and medicated gauze and nasty smelling
lotion. There was very little talk as yet. Fellows sank on to benches
and wearily relaxed their tired muscles. Mr. Robey and Boots were
consulting in low tones by one of the grated windows. Tom eased himself
to a seat and began to strip down one torn woollen stocking, displaying
an abrasion along the shin bone that brought an exclamation from Steve.
Shut up, said Tom. Swipe a bunch of that absorbent cotton from
Danny for me, will you? If he sees this he will make a fuss about it. I
don't want it to get stiff on me. Hi, Fowler, how is it?
All right, replied the left-guard, working a bunch of bleeding
knuckles experimentally. It was hot work, though. Can we hold them
next half, Hall?
Sure! They're as tired as we are, I guess. Besides, we had them on
the run there toward the last.
Tom dragged himself off to the wash-room to bathe his leg with the
cotton Steve had brought.
Ten minutes more, announced Lawrence.
Hurry in to the table, you fellows, called Danny. Williams, come
here and let me see that knee of yours.
It's all right now, Danny, said Williams. But he limped across and
was freshly bandaged. Mr. Robey left the window and sought Captain
Miller, while Boots, consulting the scribbled notes in his little
book, went from player to player, criticising and advising.
Five minutes! called Lawrence.
Hurry up, fellows, said Coach Robey. Don't let's keep them
waiting. Everyone all right? Just a word then. You fellows played well,
and I want to tell you so. You made mistakes; everyone does. Never mind
that now. You've got another chance. That's the main thing. We're going
to win this game. We're going to score two touchdowns and we're going
to hold them off, fellows. You can do it if you make up your minds to.
I want every one of you to go back on the field looking as though you'd
just come out of a Turkish bath and hadn't done a lick of work. I want
every mother's son of you to smile from the time you leave this
building until the last whistle blows. If I see one of you who isn't
smiling I'll pull him out! We want to make those fellows understand
right away that we're going to win, that we know we're going to
win and that we can't help being happy about it! But you've got to do
more than smile. You've got to work like the dickens! You've got to
work just about twice as hard as you've been working. Any one of you
who thinks he can't do that say so now. Mr. Robey's eyes searched the
earnest, attentive faces around him. All right. Now, there's just one
important criticism I've got to make. You fellows were slow. Milton was
slow in getting his signals off and the rest of you were slow in
starting. If you'll speed up you'll get the jump on those fellows every
time. I want to see you do it. I want to see you jump! I'll pull
out the first man of you who doesn't start the instant the play begins.
Understand that, please. I'll forgive mistakes, but I won't stand for
slowness. All right. Here's the line-up: Edwards, Gleason, Fowler,
Thursby, Hall, Williams, Miller, Milton, Still, Kendall, Norton. How
much time is there, Joe?
About three minutes, answered Lawrence.
All right. On the trot now!
The cheer leaders leaped to their places as the teams came hustling
back to the field and waved their megaphones and dropped them and beat
time with clenched hands as the cheers burst forth.
Rah, rah, Brimfield! Rah, rah, Brimfield! Rah, rah, Brimfi-e-ld!
Claflin! Claflin! Claflin! Rah, rah, rah, Claflin! Claflin!
And then Fowler had thudded the ball away with a long swing of his
foot and the last half had begun.
The Claflin full-back pulled the ball out of the air, quick
interference formed about him and he came charging back up the field.
Fivetenfifteen yards! Then Miller pulled him down with a savage
tackle and the two teams faced each other. Umpire and referee dodged
out of the way, Ainsmith called his signals and a back tore at
Williams. The secondary defence sprang to the point of attack. There
was an instant of confused heaving and swaying. Then the whistle
sounded and the lines straightened again.
Second down! Seven to gain!
Steve, profiting by Miller's advice, kept his gaze fixed on the face
of the opposing end who was edging out into the field. Then the ball
was in play and the Claflin end came tearing down upon him, dodged to
the right and then strove to slip past him inside. But Steve met him
squarely with his shoulder and sent him sprawling. Behind him the teams
were off under a punt and he recovered himself and raced along. It was
Milton's ball on his thirty-yard line. Brimfield punted on first down
and Claflin tore off three yards through centre and then kicked.
Neither team was able to gain consistently through the line and each
punted on second or third down. Brimfield had a trifle the better of
the exchanges, aided a little by the breeze which had freshened since
the beginning of the game. With the ball on Claflin's forty-two yards a
fumble was recovered by Ainsmith for a loss of seven yards, and on
third down Claflin attempted a forward pass which was intercepted by
Captain Miller and carried to Claflin's thirty-yard mark. Brimfield
cheered encouragingly and Norton smashed through left tackle for four.
Kendall added two more and on a wing shift Still made the distance and
the ball was down on the Blue's twenty yards. Two yards through centre
by Norton was followed by a wide end run and the loss of four yards,
Still being captured by Captain Burrage. Norton failed to gain at the
line and Williams dropped back to kick.
Milton followed to hold the ball for him and Brimfield held her
breath. Thursby passed low to the quarter and when the ball arose it
bounded away from a charging Claflin forward and went dancing and
rolling back up the field. It was finally secured by Gleason on
Claflin's thirty-three yards. Three tries by the Maroon netted but six
and again Williams went back. This time the kick was short and Claflin
secured the ball on her five-yard line and ran it in to the thirteen.
Claflin made four around Steve's end and three through Williams. Then
Whittemore punted to midfield.
Brimfield returned to her line-smashing and secured first down on
the Blue's thirty-six yards. There a forward pass to Captain Miller
grounded and Milton made a short punt to the Blue's ten yards. Steve
upset Burrage in his tracks. Claflin tried the Brimfield centre twice
for four yards and punted to the fifty-yard line. Milton came back
twelve and Kendall added six around the enemy's left end. Norton
secured first down through right guard. Time was called and Danny Moore
scurried on with his pail. Milton was injured and led off, Marvin
taking his place. A forward pass to Captain Miller netted twelve yards.
Marvin carried the ball through centre for two and Kendall met a stone
wall when he tried to get past Johnson. Norton made a yard through left
tackle and Williams dropped back to the twenty-yard line. The Brimfield
supporters were cheering wildly, imploring a touchdown, but it seemed
that a field goal was the best they were to have.
Get through and block it! implored the Claflin quarter.
Hold that line! shrieked Marvin.
Back came the ball, Williams swung his leg, ran back and to the
right and passed to Steve. But the ball went wide and settled into the
arms of the Claflin right end. Dodging and feinting that speedy
youngster tore off thirty-five yards before he was brought down and the
ball was Claflin's on Brimfield's forty yards. The Blue found her
stride again then and plunged through Fowler twice for good gains,
finally securing her distance on the Maroon's twenty-eight. Fowler, who
was staggering, was taken out and McClure came on. Claflin tried
Steve's end and made four yards and then, on a fake kick formation, got
three more through centre. Burrage tried a drop-kick for goal from the
thirty-yard line, but McClure broke through and blocked it, the ball
going to the Blue on Brimfield's thirty-eight yards. Two tries at the
line gave Claflin three yards and Ainsmith shot the ball away to
Mumford at the far side of the field. Miller stopped the runner after a
twelve-yard gain. Claflin worked the ball back toward the centre of the
field in two downs and then, faking a kick, gained two yards through
Hall. It was third down, with three to go, and again Burrage tried a
placement. The ball went wide and came back to the twenty-five-yard
line. Norton punted on second down and time was called after Claflin
had caught and run back five.
Churchill replaced Tom at right guard when the last quarter started
and Lacey returned to the game at left tackle. Claflin put Atkinson
back at full and trotted in a substitute right tackle. On the first
play Ainsmith smashed through the Brimfield line for ten yards, and
then added two more. The weak place was Williams. Atkinson got four and
then two through the centre. With the pigskin on Brimfield's forty
yards an intricate wing shift failed to fool the Maroon and Whittemore
was stopped after a gain of a yard, the ball going to Brimfield.
Marvin gained two through left tackle and Norton punted. Claflin ran
back to her thirty-four yards. On the next play Claflin was set back
fifteen yards for holding and, after an attempted forward pass which
grounded, punted to the Maroon's forty-five. Marvin caught and dodged
back fifteen yards before he was stopped. On the first play he shot the
ball to Steve, and Steve, making a good catch, reeled off ten before he
was brought down. Another forward pass to Captain Miller gained five.
Norton plunged at the line for three and Kendall failed to gain. With
the ball on Claflin's twenty-two yards Williams went back. It was a
fake, however, Marvin taking the ball for a straight plunge through
centre, which gave Brimfield first down on Claflin's eighteen. Norton
plugged the centre for two and Kendall swept around the Blue's left end
for three more. With the pigskin on Claflin's thirteen-yard line a
score seemed certain. But Norton was stopped for no gain and once more
Williams dropped back to kick.
Williams, however, was badly tuckered and was so slow in getting the
ball away that again Claflin blocked and the ball was captured by
Mumford on the twenty-five-yard line. Claflin punted on first down and
the ball went out of bounds at the Blue's forty. Norton kicked to
Claflin's fifteen and Ainsmith ran back to his thirty-six, receiving a
salvo of applause from the blue section of the stand. Claflin made four
around Miller's end and on the next play was presented with five,
Brimfield being detected off-side. Atkinson made six through Williams
and followed it with two more past Lacey. On a fake kick Ainsmith got
through Thursby for three, taking the ball across the centre line for
first down. A forward pass to right end was upset by Steve and Claflin
punted on second down. Kendall caught on his twenty-five and was
stopped at the thirty. Brimfield made seven in two plunges at the left
side of the opposing line and then Still fumbled. Marvin recovered and
Norton kicked to Claflin's thirty. Steve and Miller upset Ainsmith
where he caught. Claflin was now playing on the defensive and kicked on
first down. The punt was short and Kendall got it on Claflin's
forty-eight yards and made ten before he was caught.
The timer announced four minutes to play. Claflin sent in a new
quarter-back and Coach Robey replaced Williams with Gleason. Williams
was groggy and had to be carried off the field. From the grand stand
came imploring cries from Brimfield for a touchdown and equally
imploring shouts of Hold 'em! Hold 'em! from Claflin.
Still took the pigskin on a criss-cross and made four around
Claflin's right end. Norton shot through centre for the rest of the
distance, placing the ball on the Blue's twenty-eight. With Williams
out of the game it was a touchdown or nothing. Kendall and Still
plugged the left of the Blue's line for two yards each and Norton got
around the other end for three. With three to go on third down Marvin
worked a delayed pass and made first down on the Blue's seventeen
yards. The time-keeper announced three minutes left. Thursby gave place
to Coolidge. Norton plunged through right tackle for five, but someone
had held and Brimfield was set back fifteen. Kendall tried the Claflin
left end and gained four on a long run across the field. Marvin took
the ball for a plunge through centre, but was thrown back for a loss.
Norton was forced to punt and put the ball out of bounds at the
The time-keeper announced one minute left and Claflin punted from
behind her goal-line, the ball going high and being caught by Marvin on
the Blue's thirty yards. Brimfield, desperate for a score, lined up
quickly and Norton struck the Claflin centre and piled through for ten
yards. The Blue was weakening. Kendall added four and Still made a yard
at left tackle. On the fifteen-yard line Marvin sent McClure back as if
to try for a goal. Evidently Claflin accepted the bluff in good faith,
for, although there were cries of Fake! the Claflin ends played well
in. Marvin called his signals once, hesitated and pulled Kendall closer
in to protect the kicker. Then, Signals! he shouted.
16342719! He glanced sharply around the back-field.
Back went the ball, but not to McClure. The quarter had it and was
stepping back out of the path of the plunging players. Then his arm
shot out and off went the ball, arching to the left, over the end of
the battling, swaying lines, straight and far and true to where a lithe
figure stood with upraised hand near the Blue's ten-yard line. Too late
Claflin saw her error. Steve ran a step forward, felt the pigskin
settle into his outstretched hands, whirled on his heel and sped toward
the goal-line. The Claflin right end was almost on him as he crossed
the five-yard mark, but when desperate arms settled about Steve's legs
and brought him crashing to earth he was well over that last white line
and the day was won! Frantic blue-stockinged youths dropped mercilessly
down upon him and drove the breath from his body, in his ears was a
wild and terrific clamour of frenzied joy and faintly a whistle
shrilled. Steve, his nose buried in the soft sod, clutched the ball
tightly beneath him and smiled in the darkness.
CHAPTER XXVIII. THE CHUMS READ A
The tumult was over, although from the Row came at times a wild
shout of exultation from some enthusiastic youth. In 12 Billings, Steve
and Tom were dressing for the banquet. There was no feverish hurry in
their movements. Tom sat for minutes at a time with a shirt draped
across his knees and smiled fatuously through swollen lips. There was
plenty of time. The banquet was not to be until seven, and it was now
still but a little past six. When they spoke they spoke slowly, lazily,
as though nothing much mattered, as though Fate had given them
everything they wanted and nothing was left to be desired. Steve,
dreamily slipping a belt through the loops of his best trousers, said:
Tom, when I look at you I'm ashamed of myself. There you are with a
face like a war map and one leg all bunged up, and here am I without a
scratch. I've got a bum wrist, but it doesn't show. And Steve scowled
at the offending member.
Tom grinned. You can have my mouth if you want it, he said. After
a minute he spoke again. I was glad about Benson, he said.
Steve nodded. So was I.
Tom laughed. Yes, you looked it!
Well, I didn't know why Robey was taking me out, of course. It
seemed after I'd made that touchdown that he'd ought to let me play the
game out. Benson was ratherrather pathetic when he hobbled on. I'm
glad he's got his letter, though.
Yes, and there's only one thing I'm not glad about, responded Tom
thoughtfully, beginning to squirm into his shirt. I'm not glad we
missed that goal. I wanted that extra point.
How could we help missing it? Andy isn't any goal kicker, and all
the others were afraid to try, I suppose. What's the odds, though! We
won, and six to nothing is good enough, isn't it?
Mmyes; seven to nothing would have looked better, though.
And you're the fellow, scoffed Steve, who was almost crying
awhile back because Claflin would feel bad if we licked her!
Tom only grunted. Steve went into a daydream with one leg in his
trousers until, presently, Tom laughed softly.
What are you choking about? asked Steve.
Just thinking. Remember, Steve, coming on in the train how we were
talking about whatwhat it would be like here?
Nno, answered Steve. Were we?
Yes. I remember you said that in the stories the hero was always
suspected of something he hadn't done and you said you'd bet that if
anyone tried that on you you'd make a kick.
Well, what of it?
You didn't, though. Some of the fellows thought you'd swiped that
blue-book that time and you didn't make a murmur.
Because you thought I'd done it and was trying to shield me. I
know. Then you said that in the stories the hero saves someone from
drowning and the football captain puts him into the big game and he
wins it by a wonderful run the length of the field.
That's right, isn't it? All the school stories have it like that,
The funny thing is that it happened like that to us, Steve, or
pretty nearly. I don't mean that II actually saved you from drowning,
You sure did, though!
Anyway, it was something like that, wasn't it? And then you went
and won the game in the last minute of play, just as they do in the
I didn't make any run the length of the field, denied Steve. All
I did was catch the ball and go ten yards with it. Nothing wonderful
Still, it's all pretty much like the story-writers tell it, after
all, eh? That's what struck me as funny.
Huh! It doesn't seem to me much like it is in the stories. Say, we
forgot about the papers, Tom!
The New York papers, with the account of the thrilling rescue at
Oakdale, with your picture
He didn't get any picture of me, said Tom grimly.
He made you talk, though, laughed Steve.
He'd make anyone talk, Tom grunted.
By Jove! He jumped suddenly to his feet, and with more animation
than had been displayed in Number 12 for a half-hour hurried to the
What's up? asked Steve in surprise.
Telegram, came in smothered tones from Tom. Here it is. Lawrence
handed it to me in the gym after the game. Said it came at noon, but
Robey wouldn't let him give it to me. Bet you it's from my dad.
Tom tore the end from the yellow envelope and there was silence in
the room for a moment. At last, with a queer expression on his battered
countenance, he walked across and held the message out to Steve. It's
for you, too, he said quietly.
Steve took it and read: Tannersville, Pa., Nov. 25. Morning papers
have account of Oakdale scrape grateful to you for your rescue of Steve
God bless you show this to Steve your father joins me in love to you
both. John T. Edwards.
Steve let the telegram fall and stared blankly at Tom.
Whatdoyou knowabout that? he gasped. They've made it up,
Tom nodded gravely. Itit A slow smile overspread his face.
Honest, Steve, that's better than winning the game!
You bet it is! And you did it!
Oh, no. Tom's eyes twinkled merrily. You did it yourself, Steve,
by trying to get drowned!