Left Guard Gilbert
by Ralph Henry Barbour
CHAPTER I. THE
BOY FROM KANSAS
CHAPTER II. IN
CHAPTER III. AMY
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. DON
GOES TO THE
CHAPTER VI. THE
CHAPTER IX. THE
WIDTH OF A
CHAPTER X. TIM
CHAPTER XI. MR.
CHAPTER XII. THE
JOKE ON MR.
WALTON WRITES A
CHAPTER XV. A
CHAPTER XVI. DON
DROPPED FROM THE
FRIENDS FALL OUT
CHAPTER XX. AMY
APPEARS FOR THE
CHAPTER XXI. THE
DOCTOR TELLS A
COACH ROBEY IS
CHAPTER XXV. TIM
CHAPTER I. THE BOY FROM KANSAS
Coach Robey, coatless, vestless, hatless, his old flannel trousers
held up as by a miracle with the aid of a leather strap scarcely
deserving the name of belt, pushed his way through the first squad
players. The Brimfield Head Coach was a wiry, medium-sized man of about
thirty, with a deeply-tanned face from which sharp blue eyes looked out
under whitish lashes that were a shade lighter than his eyebrows and
two shades lighter than his sandy hair. As the afternoon was
excessively hot, even for the twenty-first day of September and in
proximity to Long Island Sound, Mr. George Robey's countenance was
bathed in perspiration and the faded blue silk shirt was plastered to
That was left half through guard-tackle, wasn't it? Then don't put
the ball in your arm, St. Clair. You ought to know better than that. On
plays through the line hold it against your stomach with both hands.
How long do you think you'd keep that ball in your elbow after you hit
the line? Someone would knock it out in about one second! Now try it
again and think what you're doing. All right, Carmine. Same play.
The panting and perspiring backs crouched once more, Carmine shrilly
called his signals, Thayer and Gafferty plunged against an imaginary
foe as Thursby shot the ball back and St. Clair, hugging the pigskin
ecstatically with wide-spread fingers, trotted through the hole,
stopped, set the ball on the grass and wiped his streaming face with
the torn sleeve of a maroon jersey.
All right, said the coach. That will do for today. In on the
The first squad, exhaling a long, deep sigh of relief as one man,
set their faces toward the gymnasium and trotted slowly off, their
canvas-clad legs swish-swashing as they met. Coach Robey walked
further down the sun-baked field to where the nearer of the remaining
four squads was at work.
Oh, put some pep into it, McPhee! called the coach as he
approached. You all look as if you were asleep! Come on now! Wake up!
Jones, get up there. You're away out of position. That's better. Now
then, Quarter! Hold up! What's your down?
Third, sir, and four to go.
All right. Show me what you're going to do with it. Head up,
Martin! Look where you're going.
36274386! grunted the quarter-back. 36
Signal! cried Gordon, at right half.
McPhee straightened, cast a withering look at the half-back, wiped
the perspiration from the end of his sun-burnt nose and repeated:
Gordon shifted his feet, and
Hold up! barked the coach. Gordon, don't give the play away.
Shifting your feet like that makes it a cinch for the other fellow. Get
your position now and hold it until the ball's passed. All right. Once
36274386! wailed McPhee. 3627
The pigskin shot into his waiting hands, Gordon leaped forward, took
it at a hand-pass and ran out behind his line, left half in advance,
turned sharply in and set the ball down.
First down! called McPhee. Sturges over.
Hold up! Try a forward pass, McPhee. You're on the ten yards and
it's third down. Get into this, you ends. Put some pep into it!
Signal! Martin back! 37321471Hep! The backs jumped to the
left one stride. 3732
Back flew the ball to the full-back, right end shot out and down the
field across the mythical last line, the defence surged against the
imaginary enemy and Martin, poising the ball at arm's length, threw
over the line to Lee.
All right, commented the coach. That'll be all for today. Trot
all the way in, fellows.
Five minutes later the field was empty of the sixty-odd boys who had
reported for the second day's practice and the sun was going down
behind the tree-clad hill to the west. In the gymnasium was the sound
of rushing water, of many voices and of scraping benches. Mr. Robey
wormed his way through the crowded locker-room to where Danny Moore,
the trainer, stood in the doorway of the rubbing-room in talk with Jim
Morton, this year's manager of the team. Morton was nineteen, tall,
thin and benevolent looking behind a pair of rubber-rimmed spectacles.
Did you put them on the scales, Dan? asked the coach.
Sure, the first, second and third, sir. Some of 'em dropped a good
three pounds today. By gorry, I feel like I'd dropped that much
It certainly is warm. Look here, Jim, is this all we get to work
on? How many were out today?
Sixty-two, Coach. That's not bad. I suppose there'll be a few more
dribble along tomorrow and the next day.
Well, they look pretty fair, don't you think? Some of the new
fellows seem to have ideas of football. All the last year fellows on
All but Gilbert. He hasn't shown up. I don't know why, I'm sure.
Better look him up, said the coach. Gilbert ought to make a
pretty good showing this year, and we aren't any too strong on guards.
Gilbert rooms with Tim Otis, I think, replied Morton. Oh, Tim!
A light-haired boy of seventeen, very straight, and very pink where
an enormous bath-towel failed to cover him, wormed his way to them.
Say, Tim, what's the matter with Gilbert? asked Morton. Isn't he
Tim Otis shrugged a pair of broad, lean shoulders. He hasn't got
here yet, Morton. I don't know what's happened. He wrote me two weeks
ago that he'd meet me at the station in New York yesterday for the
three-fifty-eight, but he wasn't there and I haven't heard a word from
Probably missed his connection, suggested Morton. He lives out
West somewhere, doesn't he?
Yes, Osawatomie, Kansas.
It probably takes a good while to get away from a place with a name
like that, said Mr. Robey drily. Well, when he shows up, Otis, tell
him to get a move on if he wants a place.
Yes, sir, I will. I'm pretty certain he will be along today some
time. I wouldn't be surprised if he was here now.
All right. By the way, Otis, how do you feel at right half? Seem
strange to you?
No, sir, I don't notice it. I did play right, you know, two years
ago on the second. Seems to me it's easier to take the ball from that
Well, don't try the fool trick your side-partner did today, said
Mr. Robey, smiling. Putting the ball under your elbow for a line
plunge is a fine piece of business for a fellow who's been playing
Tim laughed. I guess he did that because it was just practice, sir.
He knows a lot better than to do it in scrimmage.
I hope so. Well, hurry Gilbert along, will you? If he doesn't get
out here inside of a few days he won't find much of a welcome, I'm
afraid. I'm not going to keep positions open for anyone this year, not
with the first game coming along in four days!
Don't you worry, Mr. Robey, replied Tim, with a chuckle and a
flash of white teeth. I'll have him out here the first day he shows
up, even if I have to lug him all the way. Don't think I'll have to,
though, for you couldn't keep Don from playing football unless you tied
Nice chap, commented Morton, nodding at Tim as the latter returned
to his bench. Awfully clean-cut sort.
A fine lad, agreed Danny Moore, and Mr. Robey nodded thoughtfully.
I don't believe we're going to miss Kendall and Freer as much as I
thought, he said after a moment. Otis looks to me like a fellow who
will stand a lot of work and grow on it. Well, I'm going to get a
shower and get out of this sweat-box. As soon as you get time, Jim, I
wish you'd catalogue the players the way we did last year and let me
have the list. You know how Black did it, don't you?
Yes, sir. I'll have the list ready for you tomorrow.
Good! Got a towel I can use, Dan? I haven't brought any yet.
Thanks. The coach nodded and sought a place to disrobe. The trainer's
gaze followed him until he was lost to sight beyond the throng.
I wonder will he put it over again this year, he mused.
Surest thing you know, asserted Morton. Think I'm going to have
the team licked the year I'm manager, Danny? Not so you'd notice it!
Well, between you and him, chuckled Danny, I've no doubt you'll
turn out a fine team. Say, he's the lad that can do it, though, now
ain't he? Four years he's been at it, and it's fifty-fifty now, ain't
Yes, we lost the first two years and won last year and the year
before. It was Andy Miller's team that started the ball rolling for us.
No one could have won those first two years, anyhow, Danny. Robey had
to start at the bottom and build up the whole thing. We hadn't been
playing football here for several years before that. It takes a couple
of years at the least to get a foundation laid. If we win this year
we'll have something to boast of. No other team ever beat Claflin three
Maybe we won't either. I'm hoping we do, though. Still and all, it
don't do to win too many times. You get to thinking you can't lose,
d'ye see, and the first thing anyone knows you're all shot to pieces.
I've seen it happen, me boy.
Oh, I dare say, Danny, but don't let's start the losing streak
until next year. I want to manage a winning team. Well, so long. See
about some cooler weather tomorrow, will you?
I will so, replied the little trainer gravely. I'll start
arrangements to once.
Meanwhile Tim Otis, again arrayed in grey flannels and a pair of
tan, rubber-soled shoes rather the worse for a hard summer, was on his
way along the Row to the last of the five buildings set end to end on
the brow of the hill. As he swung in between Wendell and Torrencethe
gymnasium stood behind Wendell, and, save for the Cottage, as the
principal's residence was called, was the only building out of
alignmenthe saw the entrances to dormitories and Main Hall thronged
with youths who evidently preferred the coolness of outdoors to the
heat of the rooms, while others were seated on the grass along the
walk. It almost seemed that the entire roster of some one hundred and
eighty students was before him. He answered many hails, but declined
all inducements to tarry, keeping on his way past Main Hall and Hensey
until Billings was reached. There he turned in and tramped to the right
along the first floor corridor to the open door of Number 6, a room on
the back of the building that looked out upon the tennis courts and,
beyond, the football and baseball fields. From the fact that no sound
came from the room, Tim decided that Don Gilbert had, after all, and in
spite of what Tim called a hunch, failed to arrive. But when he
entered his mistake was instantly apparent. A maroon-coloured cushion
hurtled toward him, narrowly missing the green shade of the droplight
on the study table and, thanks to prompt and instinctive action on the
part of Tim, sailed on, serene and unimpeded, into the corridor.
Whereupon Tim uttered a savage whoop of mingled joy and vengeance and,
traversing the length of the room in four leaps, hurled himself upon
the occupant of the window-seat.
CHAPTER II. IN NUMBER SIX
FOR a long minute confusion and the noise of battle reigned supreme.
Then, in response to a sudden yelp of pain from Don, Tim drew off,
panting and grinning. Don was extending a left hand, funereally wrapped
in a black silk handkerchief, further along the window-seat and away
from the scene of action.
Hello! said Tim. What's the matter with that?
Hurt it a little, replied Don.
Well, I supposed you had, you idiot! How? Hit it against your
The other smiled in his slow fashion. We had a sort of a wreck
coming on. Out in Indiana somewhere. I got this. That's why I'm behind
I'm beastly sorry, old man! I didn't notice the crêpe. Did I hurt
No. I yelled so you wouldn't. Preparedness, you know. Safety first
and so on. It isn't much. How's everything here?
Tim seated himself at the other end of the seat, took his knees in
his hands, and beamed.
Oh, fine! Say, I'm tickled to death to see your ugly mug again,
Don. You aren't a bit handsomer, are you?
I've been told I was. Trouble with you is, you don't recognise
manly beauty when you see it.
Oh, don't I? Tim twirled an imaginary moustache. I recognise it
every time I look in the glass! Well, how are you aside from the bum
Great! I've just had a séance with Josh. I tried to register and
sneak by, but Brooke wouldn't have it that way. 'Er, quite so, Gilbert,
quite so, but Ierthink you had better see Mr. Fernald.' So I did,
and Josh read me the riot act. Thought for awhile he was going to send
me home again.
But didn't you tell him your train was wrecked?
Yes, but he didn't believe in it much. Thought I was romancing, I
guess. Got a railway guide and showed me how I might have got here on
time just the same. Maybe he's right, but I couldn't figure it out in
Cincinnati. Besides, I didn't get away with much of anything besides
pajamas and overcoat and shoes, and so I had to refit. That lost me the
first connection and then I got held up again at Pittsburg. So here I
am, the late Mr. Gilbert.
Josh is an idiot, said Tim disgustedly. Didn't he see your hand?
How did he think you did that if you weren't in a wreck?
Oh, I kept that in my pocket and I guess he didn't notice it. He
came around all right in the end, though. We parted friends. At least,
Well, what about that? Tim nodded at the injured hand. How'd you
cut you, burn you?
Yes. Things got on fire.
You're the most vivid descriptionist I ever listened to! Come
across with the sickening details. How did it happen? I didn't see
anything about it in the papers.
Probably wasn't on the sporting page, replied Don gravely.
Oh, dry up and blow away! Wasn't it in the papers?
Cincinnati papers had it. I haven't read the others. It wasn't much
of a wreck really. Engineer killed, fireman scalded, about twenty
passengers injured more or less. Several considerably more. Express
messenger expected to pass out. Just a nice, cosy little wreck with
nono spectacular features, as you might say.
Well, come on! How did it happen?
Freight train taking a siding and went to sleep at it. Our engine
bumped the other engine and they both went smash. Hot coals and steam
and so on got busy. It was about five in the morning. Just getting
lightish. Everyone snuggled up in bed. Biff! Wow! I landed out
on the floor on my hands and knees. Everyone yelled. Car turned half
over and sat that way. Doors got jammed. We beat it out by the windows.
I was a Roman Senator with a green berth curtain wrapped about me.
Afterwards I sneaked back and pulled out my shoes and overcoat. Always
sleep with my shoes under my pillow, you see. Good idea, too. If I
hadn't had them there I'd never have got them. Couldn't get my bag out.
Car was on fire by that time. Three others, too. They saved all but the
one I was in and the express and baggage cars. After awhile a wrecking
train came and then a lot of us walked to a village about a mile and a
half away and had breakfast and went on to Cincinnati about noon.
Gee! But, still, you know, I don't see how you got burned.
Well, things were pretty hot. Some of them got burned a lot worse
than I did. Had to pull some of them out the windows and through the
roofs. Women, too. Lucky thing our car had only two in it. Two women, I
mean. Things were fairly busy for awhile.
Must have been. The engineer was killed straight off, eh?
Ours was. The other one managed to jump. Firemen got off all right,
too. The other fireman. Ours got caught and scalded like the dickens.
Saw the engineer myself. Don frowned and shuddered. Nasty mess he
was, too, poor fellow. Let's talk about something else. I don't like to
remember that engineer.
Too bad! But, say, you were lucky, weren't you? You might have been
killed, I suppose.
Might have, maybe. Didn't come very near it, though. First wreck I
ever saw and don't want to see any more. Funny thing, though, I didn't
mind it at all until I was on the train going to Cincinnati.
Excitement, I suppose. Then I came near keeling over, honest! What do
you know about that, Timmy?
I guess anyone would have. How bad is your burn?
Not bad. Hurts a bit, though. It's the inside of the fingers and
the palm. It'll be all right in a few days, I guess. Doctor chap said
I'd have to have it dressed every day for awhile.
But, Great Scott, Don, what about football?
I've thought of that. Nothing doing for a week or so, I guess.
Rotten luck, eh?
Beastly! And Robey was telling me only half an hour ago to hurry
you up. Said you'd have to come right out if you wanted a place. Still,
when he understands what the trouble is
I'll see him tonight, I guess. Who's playing guard, Tim?
Joe Gafferty, left; Tom Hall, right. Walton and Pryme and Lawton
are all after places. Walton's been doing good work too, I think.
All the fellows back?
Every last one. Remember Howard, who played sub half-back for the
second last year? He's showing great form. Still, you can't tell much
yet. There's to be scrimmage tomorrow. We play Thacher Saturday, you
know. Sort of quick work and I don't believe we'll be anywhere near
ready for them.
Thacher's easy. We beat them 26 to 3 last year.
Twenty-three to three.
Twenty-three. Bet you!
I don't bet, Timmy. Know I'm right, though. Anyway, Thacher's easy.
Tell me the news.
Oh, there isn't anything startling. We had the usual polite party
at Josh's last night. Shook hands with the new chaps and told 'em how
tickled we were to see them. Ate sandwiches and cake and lemonade
andby the way, we've got a new master; physics; Moller his name is;
Caleb Moller, B.A. Quite a handsome brute and a swell dresser. Comes
from Lehigh or one of those Southern colleges, I believe.
Lehigh's in Pennsylvania, you ignoramus.
Is it? answered Tim untroubledly. All right. Let it stay there.
Anyhow, Caleb is some cheese.
Where's Rollinson gone?
Don't know what happened to Rollo. Draper said he heard he'd gone
to some whopping big prep school up in New Hampshire or somewhere.
Or some other Southern school, suggested Don soberly.
Dry up! And, say, get a move on. It's nearly time for eats and I'm
Timmy, I never saw the time you weren't starved. All right. I'm
sort of hungry myself. Haven't had anything since about ten o'clock
this morning. Ran out of money. Got here with eight cents in my pocket.
That and my tuition check. I'd have cashed that if I could have and had
a dinner. I was sure hungry!
Well, wash your dirty face and hands, said Tim, and come along.
Oh, say, Don, wait till you see the classy Norfolk suit I've got. I
enticed dad into Crook's when we struck the city; told him I had to
have some hankies and ties, you know. Then I steered him up against
this here suit, and this here suit made a hit with him right away. If
he could have got into it himself he'd have walked out in it. It's sort
of green with a reddish thread wandering carelessly through it. It's
some apparel, take it from me.
Maybe I will if it fits me, responded Don.
Take it from you.
Gee, but you're bright! Getting wrecked's put an edge on you,
sonny. I'm afraid that suit wouldn't fit you, though, Don. You've grown
about an inch since Spring, haven't you? You're beastly fat, too.
I am not, denied Don, good-humouredly indignant. I've kept in
strict training all summer. What you think is fat is good hard muscle,
Timmy. Feel of that arm if you don't believe it.
Yes, quite village-blacksmithy.
Village-blacksmithy. 'The muscles of his mighty arms were strong as
iron bands,' or something like that. Get out of the way and let me wash
Don retired to his dresser and passed the brushes over his brown
hair and snugged his tie up a bit. The face that looked back at him
from the mirror was not, perhaps, handsome, although it by no means
merited Tim's aspersions. There was a nice pair of dark brown eyes,
rather slumberous looking, a nose a trifle too short for perfection and
a mouth a shade too wide. But it was a good-tempered, pleasant face, on
the whole, intelligent and capable and matching well the physically
capable body below, a body of wide shoulders and well-knit muscles and
a deep chest that might have belonged to a youth of eighteen instead of
seventeen. Compared with Tim Otis, who was of the same age, Don Gilbert
suffered on only two countsquickness and vivacity. Tim, well-muscled,
possessed a litheness that Don could never attain to, and moved,
thought and spoke far more quickly. In height Don topped his friend by
almost a full inch and was broader and bigger-boned. They were both, in
spite of dissimilarity, fine, manly fellows.
Tim, wiping his hands after ablutions, turned to survey Don with a
quizzical smile on his good-looking face. And, after a moment's
reflective regard of his chum's broad back, he broke the silence.
Say, Don, he asked, glad to get back?
Don turned, while a slow smile crept over his countenance.
Su-u-re, he drawled.
CHAPTER III. AMY HOLDS FORTH
BRIMFIELD ACADEMY is at Brimfield, and Brimfield is a scant thirty
miles out of New York City and some two or three miles from the Sound.
It is more than possible that these facts are already known to you; if
you live in the vicinity of New York they certainly are. But at the
risk of being tiresome I must explain a little about the school for the
benefit of those readers who are unacquainted with it. Brimfield was
this Fall entering on its twenty-fifth year, a fact destined to be
appropriately celebrated later on. The enrollment was one hundred and
eighty students and the faculty consisted of twenty members inclusive
of the principal, Mr. Joshua L. Fernald, A.M., more familiarly known as
Josh. The course covers six years, and boys may enter the First Form
at the age of twelve. Being an endowed institution and well supplied
with money under the terms of the will of its founder, Brimfield boasts
of its fine buildings. There are four dormitories, Wendell, Torrence,
Hensey and Billings, all modern, and, between Torrence and Hensey, the
original Academy Building now known as Main Hall and containing the
class rooms, school offices, assembly room and library. The dining hall
is in Wendell, the last building on the right. Behind Wendell is the
gymnasium. Occupying almost if not quite as retiring a situation at the
other end of the Row, is the Cottage, Mr. Fernald's residence. Each
dormitory is ruled over by a master. In Billings Mr. Daley, the
instructor in modern languages, was in charge at the period of this
story, and since it was necessary to receive permission before leaving
the school grounds after supper, Don and Tim paused at Mr. Daley's
study on the way out. Don's knock on the portal of Number 8 elicited an
instant invitation to enter and a moment later he was shaking hands
with the hall master, a youngish man with a pleasant countenance and a
manner at once eager and embarrassed. Mr. Daley was usually referred to
as Horace, which was his first name, and, as he shook hands, Don very
nearly committed the awful mistake of calling him that! After greetings
had been exchanged Don explained somewhat vaguely the reason for his
tardy arrival and then requested permission to visit Coach Robey in the
village after supper.
Yes, Gilbert, buterbe back by eight, please. I'm not sure that
Mr. Robey isn't about school, however. Have you inquired?
No, sir, but Tim says he isn't eating in hall yet, and so
Ah, in that case perhaps not. Well, be back for study hour. If
you're going to supper I'll walk along with you, fellows. Mr. Daley
closed his study door and they went out together and, as they trod the
flags of the long walk that passed the fronts of the buildings, Mr.
Daley discoursed on football with Tim while Don replied to the
greetings of friends. They parted from the instructor at the dining
hall door and sought their places at table, Don's arrival being greeted
with acclaim by the other half-dozen occupants of the board. Once more
he was obliged to give an account of himself, but this time his
narrative was considered to be sadly lacking in detail and it was not
until Tim had come to his assistance with a highly coloured if not
exactly authentic history of the train-wreck that the audience was
satisfied. Don told him he was an idiot. Tim, declining to argue the
point, revenged himself by stealing a slice of Don's bread when the
latter's attention was challenged by Harry Westcott at the farther end
of the table.
Westcott, who was one of the editors of the school monthly, The
Review, had developed the journalistic instinct to a high degree of
late and had visions of a thrilling story in the November issue. But
Don utterly refused to pose as a hero of any sort. The best Harry could
get out of him was the acknowledgment that he had seen several persons
removed from the wreck and had helped carry one to the relief train
later. That wasn't much to go on, and, subsequently, Harry regretfully
abandoned his plan.
After supper Don and Tim walked down to the village and Don had a
few minutes of talk with the coach. Mr. Robey was sympathetic but
annoyed. Although he didn't say so in so many words he gave Don to
understand that he had failed in his duty to the school and the team in
allowing himself to become concerned in a train-wreck. He didn't
explain just how Don could have avoided it, and Don didn't think it
worth while to inquire.
You have that hand looked after properly and regularly, Gilbert,
he said, and watch practice until you can put on togs. Losing a week
or so is going to handicap you. No doubt about that. And I'm not making
any promises. But you keep your eyes open and maybe there'll be a place
for you when you're ready to work. It's awfully hard luck, old chap.
See you tomorrow.
Don went back to school through the warm dusk slightly cast down,
although he had previously realised that football would be beyond him
for at least a week. It is sometimes one thing to acknowledge a fact
oneself and another to hear the same fact stated by a second person.
There's a certain finality about the latter that is convincing. But if
Don was downcast he didn't show it to his companion. Don had a way of
concealing his emotions that Tim at once admired and resented. When Tim
felt bluewhich was mighty seldomhe let it be known to the whole
world, and when he felt gay he was just as confiding. But Donwell, as
Tim often said, he was worse than an Indian!
After study they sallied forth again, arm in arm, and went down the
Row to Torrence and climbed the stairs to Number 14. As the door was
half open knocking was a needless formalityespecially as the noise
within would have prevented its being heardand so Tim pushed the
portal further ajar and entered, followed by Don, on a most animated
scene. Eight boys were sprawled or seated around the room, while
another, a thin, tall, unkempt youth with a shock of very black hair
which was always falling over his eyes and being brushed aside, was
standing in a small clearing between table and windows balancing a
baseball bat, surmounted by two books and a glass of water, on his
chin. So interested was the audience in this startling feat that the
presence of the new arrivals passed unnoted until the juggler, suddenly
stepping back, allowed the law of gravity to have its way for an
instant. Then his right hand caught the falling bat, the two books
crashed unheeded to the floor and his left hand seized the descending
tumbler. Simultaneously there was a disgruntled yelp from Jim Morton
and a howl of laughter from the rest of the audience. For the juggler,
while he had miraculously caught the tumbler in mid-air, had not been
deft enough to keep the contents intact and about half of it had gone
into the football manager's face. However, everyone there except Morton
applauded enthusiastically and hilariously, and Larry Jones, sweeping
his offending locks aside with the careless and impatient grace of a
violin virtuoso, bowed repeatedly.
Great stuff, approved Amory Byrd, rescuing his books from the
floor. Do it again and stand nearer Jim.
If he does it again I'm going into the hall, said Morton
disgustedly, wiping his damp countenance on the edge of Clint Thayer's
bedspread. You're a punk juggler, Larry.
All right, you do it, was the reply. Larry proffered the bat and
tumbler, but Morton waved them indignantly aside.
I don't do monkey-tricks, thanks. Gee, my collar's sopping wet!
Oh, that's all right, called someone. You'll be going to bed
soon. Say, Larry, do that one with the three tennis balls.
Isn't room enough. I know a good trick with coins, though. Any
fellow got two halves?
Groans of derision were heard and at that moment someone discovered
the presence of Don and Tim and Larry's audience deserted him. When the
new-comers had found accommodations, such as they were, conversation
switched to the all-absorbing subject of football. Most of the fellows
assembled were members of the first or second teams: Larry Jones was a
substitute half; Clint Thayer was first-choice left tackle; Steve
Edwards, sprawled on Clint's bed, was left end and this year's captain;
the short, sturdy youth in the Morris chair was Thursby, the centre;
Tom Hall, broad of shoulders, was right guard; Harry Walton, slimmer
and rangier, with a rather saturnine countenance, was a substitute for
that position. Jim Morton was, as we know, manager, and only Amoryor
AmyByrd and Leroy Draper, the tow-headed, tip-nosed youth sharing
the Morris chair with Thursby, were, in a manner of speaking,
But being a non-combatant didn't prevent Amy Byrd from airing his
views and opinions on the subject of football, and that he was now
doing. Every year, he protested, I have to hear the same line of
talk from you chaps. It's wearying, woesomely wearying. Now, as a
matter of fact, every one of you knows that we've got the average
material and that we'll go ahead and turn out an average team and beat
Claflin as per usual. The only chance for argument is what the score
will be. You fellows like to grouse and pretend every fall that the
team's shot full of holes and that the world is a dark, dreary, dismal
place and that winning from Claflin is only a hectic dream. For the
love of lemons, fellows, chuck the undertaker stuff and cheer up. Talk
about something interesting, or, if you must talk your everlasting
football, cut out the sobs!
Oh, dry up, Amy, said Tom Hall. You oughtn't to be allowed to
talk. Someone stuff a pillow in his mouth. No one has said we were shot
full of holes, but you can't get around the fact that we've lost a lot
of good players and
Oh, gee, he's at it again! wailed Amy. Yes, Thomas darling,
you've lost two fellows out of the line and two out of the backfield
and there's nothing to live for and we'd better poison ourselves off
before defeat and disgrace come upon us. All is lost save honour! Ah,
woe is me!
Cut it out, Amy, begged Edwards. You don't know anything about
football, you idiot.
Two in the line and two in the backfield is good, jeered Tim.
We've lost Blaisdell and Innes and Tyler
Never was any good, interpolated Amy.
And Roberts and Marvin
And Kendall and Harris! concluded Tim triumphantly.
Never mind, Timmy, you've still got me! replied Amy sweetly. Gee,
to hear you rave you'd think the whole team had graduated!
So it has, practically!
Ah, yes, and I heard the same dope this time last year. We'd lost
Miller and Sawyer and Williams andand Milton and a dozen or two more
and there wasn't any hope for us! And all we did was to go ahead and
dodder along and beat Claflin seven to nothing! Not so bad for a
lifeless corpse, what?
Steve Edwards laughed. Well, maybe we do talk trouble a good deal
about this time of year. It's natural, I guess. You lose fellows who
played fine ball last year and you can't see just at first how anyone
can fill their places. Someone always does, though. That's the bully
part of it. I dare say we'll manage to dodder along, as Amy calls it,
and rub it into old Claflin as we've been doing.
First sensible word I've heard tonight, said Amy approvingly. I
wouldn't kick so much if I only had to hear this sort of stuff
occasionally, but I'm rooming with the original crêpe-hanger! Clint
sobs himself to sleep at night thinking how terribly the dear old
team's shot to pieces. If I remark in my optimistic, gladsome way,
'Clint, list how sweetly the birdies sing, and observe, I prithee, the
sunlight gilding yon mountain peak,' Clint turns his mournful
countenance on me and chokes out something about a weak backfield! Say,
I'm gladder every day of my life that I stayed sane and
Stayed what? exclaimed Jim Morton incredulously.
And didn't become obsessed with football mania!
Where do you get the words, Amy? sighed Clint Thayer admiringly.
Amy's the original phonograph, commented Tim. Only he's an
improvement on anything Edison ever invented. You don't have to wind
No, he's got a self-starting attachment, chuckled Draper.
Returning to thethe original contention, continued Amy in superb
disdain of the low jests, I'll bet any one of you or the whole kit and
caboodle of you that we beat Claflin again this year. Now make a noise
like some money!
Amy, we don't bet, remarked Tom Hall. At least, not with money.
Betting money is very wrong. (Amy sniffed sarcastically.) But I'll
wager a good feed for the crowd that we have a harder time beating
Claflin this year than we had last. And I'll
Oh, piffle! I don't care whether you have to work harder to do it
or not. I say you'll do it! Hard work wouldn't hurt you, anyway. You're
a lot of loafers. All any of you do is go out to the field and strike
an attitude like a hero. Why
Cries of expostulation and threats of physical violence failed to
disturb the irrepressible Amy.
Tell you what I'll do, you piffling Greeks, I'll blow you all off
to a top-hole dinner at the Inn if Claflin beats us. There's a sporting
proposition for you, you undertakers' assistants!
Yah! What do we do if she doesn't? exclaimed Walton.
Amy surveyed him coldly. He didn't like Harry Walton and never
attempted to disguise the fact. Why, Harry, old dear, you'll just keep
right on squandering your money as usual, I suppose. But I don't want
you to waste any on me. This is a one-man wager.
No, it isn't, said Leroy Draper, I'm in on it, Amy. I'll take
half of it.
All right, Roy. But our money's safe as safe! This bunch of
grousers won't get fat off us, old chap!
Say, said Walton, who had been trying to get Amy's attention for a
minute, what's the story about my squandering my money? Anybody seen
you being careless with yours, Amy?
Not that I know of. I'm not careless with it; I'm careful. But
being careful with money is different from having it glued to your skin
so you have to have a surgical operation before
Oh, cut it, Amy, said Tim.
I spend my money just as freely as you do, returned Walton hotly.
You talk so much with your face
Let it go at that, Harry, advised Tom Hall soothingly. Amy's just
That's all, agreed Amy sweetly. Just talking. You're the original
little spendthrift, Harry. I'm going to write home to your folks some
time and warn 'em. Hold on, you chaps, don't hurry off. The night is
still in its infancy. Wait and watch it grow up. Steve! Sit down!
Thanks, I've got to be moseying along, replied Captain Edwards.
It's pretty near ten. I think it would be a rather good idea if we had
a rule that football men were to be in their rooms at a quarter to ten
all during the season.
I can see that you're going to be one of these here martinets you
read about, said Tim with a sigh. Steve, remember you were young once
He never was! declared Amy with decision. Steve was grown-up when
he was quite young and he's never got over it. Thank the Fates I
don't have to be bossed by him! Are you all leaving? Clint, count the
spoons and forks! Come again, everyone. I've got lots more to say.
Good-night, Don. Glad to see you back again, old sober-sides. Sorry
about that fin of yours. Be careful with him, Tim. You know how it is
with the dear old team. We need every man we can get. Hold on, Harry!
Did you drop that quarter? Oh, I beg pardon, it's only a button. That's
right, Thurs, kick the chair over if it's in your way. We don't care a
bit about our furniture. For the love of lemons, Larry, don't grin like
that! Think of the team, man! Remember your sorrows! Good-night!
Half-way to Billings Don broke the silence.
Fellows are funny, aren't they? he murmured.
Funny? How do you mean? asked Tim.
Oh, I don't know, replied Don after a thoughtful moment.
They'rethey're so different, I guess.
Who's different from who?
Everyone, answered Don, smothering a yawn.
Tim viewed him in the radiance of the light over the doorway with
profound admiration. Don, you're a brilliant chap! Honest, sometimes I
wonder how you do it! Doesn't it hurt?
Don only smiled.
CHAPTER IV. THE FIRST GAME
DON sat on the bench and watched the game with Thacher School. With
him were nearly a dozen other substitutes, but they, unlike Don, were
in football togs and might, in fact probably would, get into the game
sooner or later. There was no such luck for Don so long as his hand
remained swathed in bandages, and he was silently bewailing his luck.
At his right sat Danny Moore, chin in hand and elbow in palm, viewing
the contest from half-closed eyes. The trainer was small and red of
hair and very freckled, and he was thoroughly Irish and, in the manner
of his race, mightily proud of it. Also, he was a clever little man and
a good trainer.
An attempted forward pass by the visitors grounded and the horn
squawked the end of the first period. Danny turned his beady green eyes
on Don. Likely you're wishin' yourself out there with the rest of 'em,
boy, he said questioningly.
Don nodded, smiled his slow smile and shook his head. I guess I
won't get into it for a week yet. Doc says this hand has got to do a
lot of healing first. He has a fine time every day pulling and cutting
the old skin off it. Guess he enjoys it so much he will hate to have it
heal. I should think, Danny, that if I had a heavy glove, sort of
padded in the palm, I might play a little.
Sure, I'll fix you up something real nate, replied Danny readily.
Nate an' scientific, d'ye see? An' so soon as the Doc says the word
you come to me an' I'll be having it ready for you.
Will you? Thanks, Danny. That's great! I would like to get back to
practice again. I'm afraid I'll be as stiff and stale as anything if I
stay out much longer.
Go easy on your eating, lad, and it'll take you no time at all to
catch up with the rest of 'em. Spread this hand for me while I see the
shape of it. What happened to your finger there?
I broke it when I was a little kid, playing baseball.
Sure, whoever set it for you must have been cross-eyed, said the
trainer, drily. 'Tis a bum job he did.
Yes, it's a little crooked, but it works all right.
You'd have hard work gettin' your engagement ring over that lump,
I'm thinking. It's a fortunate thing you're not a girl, d'ye mind.
Don laughed. Engagement rings go on the other hand, don't they,
Faith, I don't know. Bad luck to him, he's done it again!
Who? What? asked Don startledly.
Jim Morton. That's twice today he's spilled most of the water from
the pail. Well, I'll have to go an' fill it, I suppose.
Danny went off to get the water bucket and the teams lined up again
near the visitors' twenty-five yard line. Coach Robey had put in a
somewhat patched-up team today. Captain Edwards was at left end, Clint
Thayer at left tackle, Gafferty at left guard, Peters at centre, Pryme
at right guard, Crewe at right tackle, Lee at right end, Carmine at
quarter, St. Clair and Gordon at half and Martin at full. It was not
the best line-up possible, but it was so far handling the situation
fairly satisfactorily. The practice of the last two days had developed
one or two strains and proved more than one of the first-choice fellows
far below condition. Tim Otis was out for a day or two with a twisted
knee and Tom Hall with a lame shoulder. Thursby had developed an
erratic streak the day before and was nursing his chagrin further along
the bench. Holt, the best right end, was in trouble with the faculty,
and Rollins, full-back, had pulled a tendon in his ankle. A full team
of second-and third-string players were having signal work on the
In the stands a fairly good-sized gathering of onlookers was
applauding listlessly at such infrequent times as the maroon-and-grey
team gave it any excuse. Thus far, however, exciting episodes had been
scarce. The weather, which was enervatingly warm, affected both elevens
and the playing was sluggish and far from brilliant. The Brimfield
backs, with the exception of Carmine, who was always on edge, conducted
themselves as if they were at a rehearsal, accepting the ball in an
indifferent manner and half-heartedly plunging at the opposing line or
jogging around the ends. As the first half drew to a close both goal
lines were still unthreatened and from all indications would remain so
for the rest of the contest. A slight thrill was developed, though,
just before the second period came to an end when a Thacher half-back
managed to get away outside Crewe and romped half the length of the
field before he was laid low by Carmine. After that there was an
exchange of punts and the teams trotted off to the gymnasium.
Don left the bench with the others, but did not follow them to the
dressing room. Instead, he strolled down the running track and across
to the practice field, where Tim was superintending the signal
practice. Don joined him and followed the panting, perspiring players
down the field. Tim's conversation was rather difficult to follow,
since he continually interrupted himself to instruct or admonish the
I feel like a slave-driver, pushing these poor chaps around in this
heat. How's the game going? No score? We must be playing pretty punk, I
guess. What sort of a team hasJones, you missed your starting signal
again. For the love of mud, keep your ears open!Thacher must be as
bad as we are. Who's playing in my place? Gordon? Is he doing
anything?Try them on that again, McPhee, will you? Robbins, you're
supposed to block hard on that and not let your man through until the
runner's got into the line.I could have played today all right, but
that idiot, Danny, wouldn't let me. My knee's perfectly all right.
Then why do you limp? asked Don innocently.
Force of habit, said Tim. What time is it?
Don consulted his silver watch and announced a quarter to four.
Thank goodness! That'll do, fellows. You'd better get your showers
before you try to see that game. If Danny catches you over there the
way you are he will just about scalp you! By the way, McPhee, you saw
what I meant about that end-around play, didn't you? You can't afford
to slow up the play by waiting for your end to get to you. He's got to
be in position to take the pass at the right second. Otherwise they'll
come through on you and stop him behind the line. There ought to be
absolutely no pause between Smith's pass to you and your pass to
Compton, or whoever the end is. You get the ball, turn quick, toss it
to the end and fall in behind him. It ought to be almost one motion. Of
course, I know you fellows were pretty well fagged today, but you don't
want to let your ends think they can take their time on that play, old
man, for it's got to be fast or it's no earthly good. Thus endeth the
lesson. Come on, Don, and we'll go over and add the dignity of our
presence to that little affair.
They reached the bench just as the two teams trotted back and
Brimfield's supporters raised a faint cheer. Don imagined that there
was a little more vim in the way the maroon-and-grey warriors went into
the field for the second half and the results proved him right.
It was the home team's kick-off, and after Captain Edwards, in the
absence of Hall, had sped the ball down to Thacher's twenty yards and a
Thacher player had sped it back to the thirty, Brimfield settled down
to business. Probably Coach Robey's remarks in the interim had been
sufficiently caustic to get under the skin. At all events Brimfield
forced Thacher to punt on third down and then almost blocked the kick.
As it was, the ball hurtled out of bounds near the middle of the field
and became Brimfield's on her forty-eight. Two plunges netted five
yards, and then St. Clair, returning to form, ripped his way past
tackle on the left and fought over two white lines before he was
halted. Gordon and Martin made it first down in three tries and Carmine
worked the left end for four more. Thacher stiffened then, however, and
after two ineffectual plunges St. Clair punted and Brimfield caught on
her goal line and ran back a dozen yards, Lee, right end, missing his
tackle badly and Steve Edwards being neatly blocked off. But Thacher
found the going even harder than her opponent had and in a moment she,
too, was forced to punt.
This time it was St. Clair who caught and who, eluding both Thacher
ends, ran straight along the side line until he was upset near the
enemy's thirty-five yards. As he went down he managed to get one foot
over the line and the referee paced in fifteen yards, set the ball to
earth and waved toward the Thacher goal.
Martin faked a forward pass and the ball went to Gordon for a try at
right tackle. Thayer and Gafferty opened a fine hole there and Gordon
romped through and made eight before the Thacher secondary defence
brought him down. Martin completed the distance through centre. From
the twenty-four yards to the ten the ball went, progress, however,
becoming slower as the attack neared the goal. On a shift that brought
Thayer to the right side of the line, St. Clair got around the short
end for three and Martin added two more, leaving the pigskin on the
five-yard line. It was third down and Martin went back to kick. But
after a moment's hesitation Carmine changed his signals and the ends
stole out toward the side lines. Thacher proceeded to arrange her
forces to intercept a forward pass and again Carmine switched. The ends
crept back and Martin retired to the fifteen-yard line and patted the
turf. Carmine knelt in front of him and eyed the goal. Then the signals
came again, and with them the ball, and it was Martin who caught it and
not Carmine. Two steps to the right, a quick heave, a frenzied shouting
from the defenders of the goal, a confused jostling, and Captain
Edwards, one foot over the line, reached his arms into the air, pulled
down the hurtling pigskin, tore away from one of the enemy, lunged
forward and went down under a mass of bodies, but well over the goal
Brimfield found her enthusiasm then, and her voice, and cheered
loudly and long, only ceasing when Carmine walked out with the ball
under his arm and flung himself to the turf opposite the right hand
goal post. Thursby, hustled in by Coach Robey, measured distance and
direction, stepped forward and, as the line of Thacher warriors swept
forward with upstretched hands, swung his toe against the ball and sent
it neatly across the bar.
With the score seven to nothing against her, Thacher returned to the
fray with a fine determination, but, when the teams had changed places
after the kick-off and the last period had begun, she speedily found
that victory was not to be her portion. Mr. Robey sent in nearly a new
team during that last ten minutes and the substitutes, fresh and eager,
went at it hammer-and-tongs. Thacher enlisted fresh material, too, but
it couldn't stop the onslaught that soon took the ball down the field
to within close scoring distance of her goal. That Brimfield did not
add another touchdown was only because her line, overanxious, was twice
found off-side and penalised. Even then the ball went at last to within
six inches of the goal line and it was only after the nimble referee
had dug into the pile-up like a terrier scratching for a bone in an
ash-heap that the fact was determined that Thacher had saved her bacon
by the width of the ball. She kicked out of danger from behind her goal
and after two plays the final whistle blew.
It was a very hot and very weary crowd of fellows who thronged the
dressing room in the gymnasium five minutes later and, above the swish
of water in the showers, shouted back and forth and discussed the game
from as many angles as there had been participants. Possibly Brimfield
had no very good reason for feeling proud of her afternoon's work, for
last year she had defeated Thacher 26 to 3. That game, however, had
taken place two weeks later in the season, when the Maroon-and-Grey was
better off in the matter of experience, and so perhaps was not a fair
comparison. At all events, Brimfield liked the way she had come back
in that third period and liked the way in which the substitutes had
behaved, and displayed a very evident inclination to pat herself on the
Tim, who had haled Don into the gymnasium on the way back to hall,
tried his best to convince all those who would listen to him that they
had played a perfectly punk game and that nothing but the veriest fluke
had accounted for that score. But they called him a sore-head and
laughed at him, and even drove him away with flicking towels, and he
finally gave it up and consented to accompany Don back to Billings,
limping a trifle whenever he thought no one was looking.
Don missed Tim at supper, for the training tables started that
evening and Tim went off to one of them with his napkin ring and his
own particular bottle of tomato catsup, leaving his chum feeling
forlornly out of it.
CHAPTER V. DON GOES TO THE SECOND
LIFE at Brimfield Academy settled down for Don into the accustomed
routine. The loss of one day made no difference in the matter of
lessons, for with Tim's assistancethey were both in the Fifth
Formhe easily made up what had been missed. They were taking up
German that year for the first time and Don found it hard going, but he
managed to satisfy Mr. Daley after a fashion. Don was a fellow who
studied hard because he had to. Tim could skim his lessons, make a good
showing in class and remember enough of what he had gone over to appear
quite erudite. Don had to get right down and grapple with things. He
once said enviously, and with as near an approach to an epigram as he
was capable of, that whereas Tim got his lessons by inhaling them, he,
Don, had to chew them up and swallow them! But when examination time
came Don's method of assimilation showed better results.
The injured hand healed with incredible slowness, but heal it did,
and at last the day came when the doctor consented to let his impatient
pupil put on the padded arrangement that the ingenious Danny Moore had
fashioned of a discarded fielder's glove and some curled hair, and Don
triumphantly reported for practice. His triumph was, however,
short-lived, for Coach Robey viewed him dubiously and relegated him to
the second squad, from which Mr. Boutelle was then forming his second
team. Boots was a graduate who turned up every Fall and took charge
of the second or scrub team. It was an open secret that he received no
remuneration. Patriotism and sheer love of the game were the
inducements that caused Mr. Boutelle to donate some two months of time
and labour to the cause of turning out a second team strong enough to
give the first the practice it needed. And he always succeeded.
Boutelle's Babies, as someone had facetiously termed them, could
invariably be depended on to give the school eleven as hard a tussle as
it wantedand sometimes a deal harder. Boots was a bit of a driver and
believed in strenuous work, but his charges liked him immensely and
performed miracles of labour at his command. His greeting of Don was
almost as dubious as had been Coach Robey's.
Of course I'm glad to have you, Gilbert, but the trouble is that as
soon as we've got you nicely working Mr. Robey will take you away.
That's a great trick of his. He seems to think the purpose of the
second team is to train players for the first. It isn't, though. He
gives me what he doesn't want every year and I do my best to make a
team from it, and I ought to be allowed to keep what I make. Well,
never mind. You do the best you can while you're with us, Gilbert.
Maybe he won't have me this year, said Don dejectedly. He seems
to think that being out for a couple of weeks has queered me.
Well, you don't feel that way about it, do you?
No, sir, I'm perfectly all right. I've watched practice every
afternoon and I've been doing a quarter to a half on the track.
Hm. Well, you've got a little flesh that will have to come off, but
it won't take long to lose it this weather. Sit down a minute. They
were in front of the stand and Mr. Boutelle seated himself on the lower
tier and Don followed his example. Let me see, Gilbert. Last year you
played left guard, didn't you?
And if I remember aright your chief difficulty was in the matter of
I'm twelve pounds heavier this fall, air.
Yes, but some of that'll come off, I guess. However, that doesn't
matter. You were getting along pretty well at the last of the season, I
remember. Who's ahead of you on the first?
Well, Gafferty's got the first choice, I guess. And then there's
You can beat Walton, said Boots decisively. Walton lacks head. He
can't think things out for himself. You can. What you'll have to do
this year, my boy, is speed up a little. It took you until about the
middle of the season to find your pace. Remember?
Yes, sir, I know.
Well, you won't stay with us long, as I've said, and so I'm not
going to build you into the line, Gilbert. I've got some good-looking
guard material and I can't afford to work over you and get dependent on
you and then have Robey snatch you away about the middle of the fall.
That won't do. But I'll tell you what we will do, Gilbert. We'll use
you enough to bring you around in form slowly. You'll play left guard
for awhile every day. But what I want you to really do is to help with
the others. You've been at it two years now and you know how the
position ought to be played and you've got hard common-sense. I'll put
the guard candidates in your hands. See what you can do with them.
There's a couple of likely chaps in Kirkwell and Merton, and there are
two or three more after positions. You take them in charge, Gilbert,
and show me what you know about coaching. What do you say?
Why, Mr. Boutelle, II don't know that I can show anyone else what
to do. I can play the position myself after a fashion, butwell, I
guess it's another thing to teach, isn't it?
Oh, I don't know. It is if you go into it with the idea that it is,
but don't do that. Play the position as it ought to be played, tell the
others why, call them down when they make mistakes, pat them on the
back when they do right. Just forget that you're trying to teach. If a
fellow came to you and said: 'Gilbert, I want to play guard but I don't
know how, and I wish you'd tell me how you do it,' why, you wouldn't
have any trouble, would you?
N-no, sir, I guess not, replied Don a trifle doubtfully.
Well, there you are. Try it, anyway. You'll get on all right. I'll
be right on hand to dig the spurs in when your courage fails. Mr.
Boutelle smiled. We're going to have a dandy second team this fall, my
boy. We've got nothing to build on, only a lot of green material, and
that's the best part of it. I don't care how inexperienced the material
is if it's willing to learn and has the usual number of arms and legs
and such things and a few ounces of grey matter in the cranium. Well,
here we go. Nothing today but passing and punting, I guess. Sure your
hand's all right?
Yes, sir, thanks. I don't really need this contrivance; it's
awfully clumsy; but Doc said I'd better wear it for a few days.
Best to be on the safe side. I'll have you take one squad of these
chaps, I guess, and I'll give the other to Lewis. You know the usual
stuff, Gilbert. Rest 'em up now and then; they're soft and the
weather's warm. But work 'em when they're working. Any fellow who
soldiers gets bounced. All out, second squad!
There wasn't anything that afternoon but the sort of drudgery that
tries the enthusiasm of the tyro: passing the ball in circles, falling
on it, catching it on the bound and starting. Don was surprised to
discover how soft he was in spite of his daily exercise on the cinders.
When the hour's practice was over he was just about as thankful as any
of the puffing, perspiring youths around him. Considering it afterward,
Don was unable to view the material with the enthusiasm Mr. Boutelle
had displayed. To him the thirty-odd boys who had reported for the
second team were a hopeless lot, barring, of course, a few, not more
than four in all, who had had experience last season. In another week
Mr. Robey would make a cut in the first squad and the second would find
itself augmented by some ten or twelve cast-offs. But just now the
second squad looked to Don to be a most unlikely lot. When he confided
all this to Tim that evening the latter said:
Don't you worry, old man. Boots will make a team out of them. Why,
he could make a football team out of eleven clothing store dummies!
Sometimes I think that Boots ought to be head coach instead of Robey.
I've got nothing against Robey, either. He's a bit of a 'miracle man'
himself, but for building a team out of nothing Boutelle has him
both shoulders to the mat!
I don't believe Boots would want to coach the first, replied Don.
I don't know. He's sort ofwell, he kind of likes toOh, I don't
Very clearly explained, Donald.
Well, Boots, if he was a soldier, would be the sort that would want
to lead a charge where the odds were against him. See what I mean?
You mean he has a hankering for the forlorn chance business? Maybe
so. That's not a bad name for the second, is it? The Forlorn Chances! I
guess you've got him dead to rights, though. Boots is for the under dog
every time. I guess coaching the first and having his pick of the
players wouldn't make any sort of a hit with Boots. It would be too
tame. Boots likes to take three discarded veterans, two crips and a
handful of green youngsters and whittle them into a bunch that will
make us sweat and toil to score on. And, what's more, he does it! Bet
you anything, Don, this year's second will be every bit as good as last
I won't take it, because I think so myself, laughed Don. I can't
see how he's going to do it, Tim, but something tells me he will!
Oh, with you to coach the guards it will be no trick at all, said
Don smiled thinly. I'll make an awful mess of it, I guess, he
Not you, boy! and Tim slapped him encouragingly on the back.
You'll blunder right ahead to glory, same as you always do. You'll
make hard work of it and all that, but you'll get there. Don, you're
exactly like the porpoiseno, the tortoise in the fable. You don't
look fast, old man, but you keep on moving ahead and saying nothing and
when the hares arrive you're curled up on the finish line fast asleep.
Tortoises can't curl up, though, can they? And, say, what the dickens
is a tortoise, anyway? I always get tortoises and porpoises mixed.
A porpoise is a fish, replied Don gravely. And a tortoise is a
land turtle. But they're both anthropoids.
Are they? asked Tim vaguely. All right. Here, what are you
grinning at? Anthropoids nothing! An anthropoid is a monkey oror
You're an anthropoid yourself, Timmy.
Meaning I'm a monkey?
Not at all. Here, look it up. And Don shoved a dictionary across
the table. Tim accepted it suspiciously.
All right, he said, but if it's what I think it is you'll have to
fight. Anthesis, anthropocosmicSay, I'm glad you didn't call me
that! Here it is. Now let's see. 'Anthropoid, somewhat like a human
being in form or other characteristics'! Something likeYou wait
till I get you in the tank again! 'Something like a human being'! For
two cents I'd lay you on the bed and spank you with that tennis
I've got two cents that say you can't do it, replied Don.
Well, I could if there wasn't so much of you, grumbled Tim. Now
shut up and let me stuff awhile. Horace has been eyeing me in a way I
don't like lately. How's your German going?
Not very well. It's a silly language, I think. But I guess I'll get
the hang of it after awhile. What I want to know is why they can't make
their letters the way we do.
Because they're afraid someone might be able to read the plaguy
stuff. Tell you what we'll do, Don.
What'll we do?
We'll go for a swim in the tank after study. Will you?
Don winked slowly. Not after that threat, thanks.
I won't touch you, honest to goodness, Don! Did you learn to swim
any better this Summer?
Where would I learn? asked the other. There's no place to swim
out my way, unless it's the river.
Well, don't the rivers in Kansas contain water?
Yes, sometimes! Winter, usually. If you'll promise not to grab me
when I'm not looking I'll go. I hate the taste of that tank water,
You ought to know how to swim, old man. Never mind, Mr. Conklin
will get hold of you this Winter and beat it into you.
I can swim now, replied Don indignantly.
Oh, yes, you can swim like a hunk of lead! The last time I saw you
try it you did five strokes and then got so elated that you nearly
drowned yourself trying to cheer! I could teach you in three lessons if
you'd let me.
Much obliged, but nothing doing, Timmy. I'd as lief drown by myself
as have you hold my head under water.
That was just a joke, Don. I won't ever do it again. I wanted you
to get used to the water, you see.
I don't mind getting used to it outside, but I hate to fill up with
it, Tim. It tastes very nasty. You may be a good teacher, but I don't
like your methods.
Well, we'll go and have a dip, anyway, laughed Tim. It'll set us
up and refresh us after our arduous stuffing.
If you don't cut out the chatter there won't be any stuffing,
warned Don. It's almost half-past now. And I've got three solid pages
of this rot to do. Dry up, like a good pal.
CHAPTER VI. THE SEARCH OF ADVENTURE
BY that time Brimfield had played her second game and lost it, 6 to
14, to Canterbury High School. Canterbury was not considered very
formidable and Brimfield usually had little trouble with her. But this
year things had gone wrong from the start of the game to the finish,
wrong, that is, from Brimfield's point of view. Fumbling had been much
in evidence and poor judgment even more. Carmine had worked like a
Trojan at quarter-back for two periods, but had somehow failed to
display his usually good generalship, and McPhee, who had taken his
place at the beginning of the second half, while he ran the team well,
twice dropped punts in the backfield, one of which accounted for
Canterbury's second touchdown and goal. Oddly enough, it was the
veterans who failed most signally to live up to expectations, and of
all the veterans Tom Hall was the worst offender. Possibly Tom's
shoulder still bothered him, but even that couldn't have accounted for
all his shortcomings. Crewe, who played tackle beside Tom, was not a
very steady man, and Tom's errors threw him off his game badly, with
the result that, until Coach Robey put Pryme in for Tom in the third
period, Canterbury made a lamentable number of gains at the right of
the Brimfield line. Even Tim Otis, usually undisturbed by anything
short of an earthquake, was affected by the playing of the others and
finally had what he called a brain-storm in the third period, getting
the signals twisted and being thrown back for an eight-yard loss. That
misadventure bothered him so that he was heartily glad when Gordon was
rushed in a few minutes later.
The team took the beating to heart and the school at large was
disposed to indulge in sarcasm and bitterness. Only Coach Robey seemed
undisturbed. He lavished no praise, you may be sure, but, on the other
hand, neither did he utter any criticism after the contest was over.
Instead, he laid off more than half the line-up on Monday and Tuesday,
and, since the weather continued almost unseasonably warm, the rest was
just what the fellows needed. Wednesday's practice went with a new snap
and vim and those who broiled in the afternoon sun and watched it found
grounds for hope.
It was on Wednesday that Don began his connection with the second
team, and by then the injured hand was so well along that he was able
to discard the glove. Three days of kindergarten work followed, with,
on Saturday, a short signal drill. The first team journeyed away that
afternoon to play Miter Hill School, and Don would have liked very much
to have gone along. But Boots put his charges through a good, hard hour
and a half of work, and Don had all he could attend to at home. Just
before supper he did, however, walk down to the station and meet Tim
when the team arrived home. Tim, who seemed remarkably fresh for a
youth who had played through the most of four ten-minute periods,
scorned the coach and he and Don footed it back.
Twenty to nothing, my boy, said Tim exultantly. They never had a
look-in. It was some game, believe me, dearie! And I want to tell you,
too, that Miter Hill is fifty per cent better than Canterbury ever
thought of being!
That's fine, said Don. What sort of a game did you play?
Me? Oh, I was the life of the party. Got off two nice little runs,
one for thirty and the other for forty-five yards. Got a touchdown the
second time. I wouldn't have, though, if Steve hadn't paced me most the
way down and put the quarter out. Old Steve played like a whirlwind
today. We all did, I guess. There was only one fumble, and that wasn't
anyone's fault. Holt got a forward pass and a Miter Hill chap plunged
into him and just about knocked the breath out of him and he let go of
Twenty to nothing? Three touchdowns, then.
Yep, and Rollins only missed one goal. Rollins scored once, I
scored once and Steve took over the last one.
No, end-around. It went off great, too. We were way back on the
eighteen yards, I think it was, and we worked the fake forward pass
play, with Steve taking the ball from Carmine. We fooled them finely.
They never got onto it at all until Steve was over the line. Some of
the fellows who were doing so much grousing last week ought to have
come along today and seen some real football. Robey was as pleased as
anything. You could tell that because he looked sort of cross and told
us how bad we were!
Wish I'd seen it, mourned Don.
It was some game, all right, all right! We're going to have a
modest celebration this evening; just Tom Hall and Clint Thayer and Hap
Crewe, maybe, and yours truly. Better come along. Will you?
Where are you going?
Oh, just down to the village. We'll leave the window open.
You'll get nabbed if you try that, demurred Don. Better not,
Well, we may be back by ten. No harm in having a way open in case
something delays us, though. We'll have a little feed at the Inn, you
Don't be a chump, growled Don. You're in training and you know
mighty well Robey won't stand for any funny-business.
What Robey doesn't know isn't going to hurt him, replied Tim
untroubledly. And he won't know anything about this because he's off
for home on the seven o'clock train. Tom heard him tell Steve he
wouldn't be back until Monday noon.
Yes, but someone will see you and Robey'll hear of it. And then
you'll get the dickens from him and be hauled up to the office. Better
not risk it, Timmy.
Gee, you're worse than Mr. Poe's crow! Or was it a raven? What's
the difference, anyhow? Now don't tell me they're both anthropeds or
pods, or whatever it is, because I'm onto you as a disseminator of
knowledge! I never got even with you yet for calling me 'something like
a human being'.
I'll take it back, then; you aren't. But, just the same, Tim, I
wish you'd cut out the celebration.
You're all the time interfering with my innocent pleasures,
protested Tim. Why, bless you, dearie, we aren't going to cut-up.
We're merely going to stroll quietly to the village, trolling a song,
mayhap, and look in the windows.
That'll take you a long time, Don laughed. There are only half a
Wrong. A fellow opened a watchmaker's emporium next door to the
post office t'other day and has a most fascinating window. It has four
alarm clocks, three pairs of cuff-links and a chronometer in it! Oh,
it's swell! Do you realise, Don, that slowly but surely our little
village is taking on thethe semblance of a metropolis? All we want is
a movie palace!
Let's start one. They say there's a lot of money in them.
Bet there is! We've got three or four at home, and they're peaches.
Full every minute, too. I went a lot last Summer; had filmitis, I
guess. But how about the party? Will you come along?
Oh, come on, Don! Have a heart! Be one of our merry gang.
I'd rather not, thank you. I like Josh well enough, but I don't
like to stand on the carpet and hear him say 'Until further notice,
Gilbert.' Nothing doing, Tim!
And Don remained adamant the rest of the way to school and while
they made a hurried toilet and rushed to dining hall in an effort to
reach it before the food gave out.
The team members received an ovation that evening when they entered
the dining hall. It seemed as if the school wanted to make up for its
unkindness of a week before. Some few of the fellows, recalling
sarcastic comments overheard, were inclined to be haughty and
unforgiving, but eventually they melted. Don, now at the second
training-table, presided over by Mr. Boutelle, saw that Coach Robey's
chair was vacant, which fact bore out Tim's statement that the coach
had gone home over Sunday. But, even granting that, Don didn't approve
of Tim's celebration, for, as he very well knew, after a football
victory fellows were very likely to be carried away by their enthusiasm
and to forget such trifling things as rules and regulations. He
determined to try again to dissuade Tim after supper.
But Tim, who was in a very cheerful and expansive mood, refused to
be dissuaded. Instead, he turned the tables and begged so hard for Don
to come with him that Don finally relented. After all, there was no
harm in the excursion if they got permission and were back in hall by
ten o'clock. And it was a wonderfully pleasant, warm evening, much too
fine an evening to spend indoors, andwell, secretly, Don wanted some
fun as much as any of them, perhaps!
Permission was easily obtained and at seven they met Tom Hall and
Clint Thayer in front of Torrence. Crewe failed them, but Tim said it
didn't matter; that there were only four Three Musketeers anyhow! So
they set off for the village in high spirits, through a warm, fragrant,
star-lighted evening, with no settled plan of action in mind save to do
about as they liked for the succeeding three hours. Clint Thayer had a
strip of plaster across the saddle of his nose, which gave him a
strangely benign expression. Tom walked a bit stiffly and confessed to
a peach of a shin, which probably meant something quite different
from what it suggested. Only Tim, of the three first team fellows, had
emerged unscathed, and he referred to the fact in an unpleasantly
superior manner which brought from Tom Hall the remark that it was easy
enough to get through a game without any knocks if you didn't do
anything! Whereupon Tim flicked him across the cheek with an imaginary
glove, the challenge was issued and accepted and the two fought an
exciting duel with rapiersas imaginary as the gloveon the sidewalk,
feinting, thrusting, parrying, until Clint cried The guard! The
guard! and they all raced down the road to the nearest lamp-post,
where Tim insisted on looking to his wounds. To hear him tell it, he
was as full of holes as a sieve, while, on the same authority, Tom was
a dead man. Tom denied being dead, but Tim insisted and refused to pay
any heed to him all the rest of the way to the village on the ground
that, being dead, Tom had no business to talk.
But when they reached what Tim called the heart of the city Tom
was allowed to come to life again. The heart of the city consisted of
the junction of two village streets whereon were located the diminutive
town hall, the post office, a fire house and five stores. They began
with the druggist's, ranging themselves in front of one of the two
windows and pretending to be overwhelmed with the beauty and
magnificence of the goods displayed.
What beautiful soap, exclaimed Tom. I never saw such beautiful
soap, fellows. Pink and green and white! Looks almost good enough to
wash with, doesn't it?
And get on to the lovely toilet set in the green velvet box,
begged Tim awedly. Scissors and brushes and little do-funnies and
I'm going to buy a bottle of that hair-grower, announced Don. I
want to raise a beard.
Let's get a bottle and present it to Uncle Sim, suggested Clint.
Uncle Sim was Mr. Simkins, the Greek and Latin instructor, and was
noticeably bald. The others chuckled and thought very well of the
suggestion until Tom discovered that the price, as stated on the label,
was one whole dollar. They had, they decided, better uses for what
little money they carried. Eventually they went inside, and sat on
stools in front of the small soda fountain and drank gaily-coloured
concoctions which, according to Tim, later, sounded better than they
tasted. Having exhausted the amusement to be derived from the drug
store, they went to the fire house next door and, pressing their noses
against the glass, debated what would happen if an alarm was rung in.
There was a box beside the doors, a most tempting red box and Tim eyed
it longingly until Don led him gently but firmly away from temptation.
In the small store across the street they examined all the books and
magazines displayed on the counters, which didn't take long, as
literature was not a large part of the stock. Tim spent ten cents for a
football guide, explaining that he had always wanted to know some of
the rules of that game! Don bought some candy and Clint a bag of
peanuts, although the others protested that if they ate truck they'd
spoil their appetites for real food. The force of the protest was
somewhat marred by the actions of the protestants, who helped
themselves liberally to the contents of the two bags.
There was a convenient fence a few steps along the street and they
perched themselves on the top rail and consumed the peanuts and candy
and watched the rush of the great city, to again quote the poetic
Tim. During the next twenty minutes exactly eight carriages and four
automobiles entered their range of vision; and at that Clint insisted
that they had counted one automobile twice. He accused it of going
around the block in order to add to the confusion. Possibly some three
dozen people passed within sight, although that may have been a too
liberal estimate. Tom at last declared that he couldn't stand the
excitement any longer; that his brain reeled and his eyes ached; and
that he was going to find a quiet spot far from the dizzy whirl. So
they adjourned to the grocery and butcher shop and talked learnedly of
loins and shoulders and ribs. And Clint dragged what he alluded to as a
brisket into the conversation to the confusion of the others, who had
never heard of it and didn't believe in it anyway. Tom said Clint meant
biscuit and that this wasn't a bakery. Then he caught sight of some
rather pathetic and unseasonable radishes and, having a passion for
radishes, went in and purchased four bunches. That outlay led to an
expenditure for salt, and as a large, round pasteboard carton of it was
the least they could buy, they retreated down the street to the Inn
porch, trickled the salt along the top of the railing, drew up chairs
and consumed the radishes at their leisure. All, that is, save Tim. Tim
didn't like radishes, called them fire-crackers and pretended to be
deeply disgusted with his companions for eating them.
When the radishes were consumed they invaded the Inn and assaulted
the water tank in force. Then, as there were practically no sights left
to be viewed, they went back to their chairs and, as Tom had it, waited
for inspiration. Don was for trolleying over to the shore, having a dip
in the ocean and returning to school in good time. But Tim pointed out
that the trolley line was a good half-mile distant, that he had not
filled himself with radishes and was consequently quite famished for
food and favoured remaining within easy distance of the Inn so that, in
case he grew faint, he could reach sustenance. Don's motion was
defeated. In view of what eventually occurred, that was, perhaps,
CHAPTER VII. FIGHTING FIRE
THIS, said Tim presently, is a bit dull, if you ask me. I came
out for some excitement. Let's do something.
What? asked Clint, yawning loudly.
The others groaned.
That's all right for you chaps, but I'm getting hungry, Tim
asserted. I thought we were going to have a feed. They'll be closing
this place up the first thing we know. How about a rarebit, fellows?
Oh, let's wait awhile, said Don. Let's take a walk and get up an
Walk! jeered Tim. Gee, I've walked enough. And there's nothing
the matter with my appetite right now. Tell you what Tim paused.
An automobile was stopping in front of the Inn. The headlights suddenly
dimmed and the single occupant, a tall man in a light overcoat, got
out, walked up the path, ascended the steps and passed into the house.
Now, who's he? asked Tim. Say, I wish he'd loan us his car for
Run in and ask him, suggested Tom. He looked kind.
Maybe he'd give us a ride if we asked him, pursued Tim. It's a
peach of a car; foreign, I guess.
It's a Mercy Dear, said Tom.
Or a Fierce Sorrow, hazarded Clint.
Bet you it's a Cheerless, said Don, or a Backhard.
Don't care what it is, persisted Tim. I want a ride in it.
Let's go down and stand around it with our fingers in our mouths,
said Tom, with a chuckle. Perhaps he will take pity on us and ask us
Or we might open the door for him, offered Don.
At that moment Clint, who had left his chair to lean across the
railing and gaze past the end of the porch, interrupted with an
exclamation. Say, fellows, what's that light over there? he asked
Fire, by jingo! cried Tim.
That's what! agreed Tom. Say, you don't suppose it's the school,
Of course not! The school's over that way. Besides, that fire's
away off; maybe two miles. Come on! And Clint started for the steps.
Wait! called Tim. I want to see the engine come out. Bet you it's
a fine sight! Anyway, we can't foot it two miles.
Maybe it isn't that far, said Don. Fires look further than they
Yes, and nearer, too, replied Tim. Think we ought to run over and
tell them about it?
But that question was speedily answered by the sudden clanging of a
gong inside the fire house, followed by the sound of running footsteps
and, an instant later, the wild alarm of the shrill-tongued bell in the
My word! exclaimed Tom. I didn't know there were so many folks in
the town! Already a small-sized crowd had gathered in front of the
fire house, some fifty yards up the street. The doors rolled open and a
figure pushed through the throng and loped across the street and
disappeared. The bell clanged on and on. Don and Clint and Tom made a
dash for the steps. Tim slid over the railing. But before any of them
had more than reached the sidewalk the tall owner of the automobile
catapulted himself down the steps, hailing them as he came.
Where is it, boys? he shouted.
Over there, answered Clint, pointing. But the glow in the sky was
scarcely visible from the sidewalk and they all swarmed back to the
I see, said the man. Some farm house, I guess. They'll know at
the fire house. He sprang down the steps again, the boys streaming
after him. He was already in the car when Tim asked breathlessly: You
Sure! Want to come? Pile in, then. There are some packages in
there. Look out for them.
Clint had already put his foot down hard on something that, whatever
it might be, was never meant to be walked on, but he made no mention of
the fact. The car leaped forward, swung to the right, stopped with a
jerk six inches from a lamp-post, backed, straightened out and careened
along to the fire house. All was excitement there. Men were rushing
into the building and rushing out again, agitatedly donning rubber
coats and hats. Speculation was rife. A score of voices argued as to
the location of the fire. The throng swayed back and forth. The man in
the car demanded information as he drew up at the curb and a dozen
answers were flung at him. Then a small, fat man ran up and leaned
excitedly across the front of the auto. Hello, Mr. Brady! he panted.
You going out there?
Yes, but I've got a load, Johnson. Where is it?
Don't no one seem to know. Jim Cogswell knows, but he's gone for
Look out! Here they come! Get that auto out of the way there!
Stand aside, everyone! Get a move on, Jim! A lean little man in his
shirt sleeves suddenly appeared leading two jogging horses, while a
third horse trotted along behind. The crowd scampered aside and the
horses beat a tattoo on the floor as they wheeled to their places. Mr.
Brady jumped from his seat, pushed his way through the crowd as it
closed in again about the doorway and disappeared. Tim whooped with
What did I tell you? he demanded. Didn't I say it would be a
great sight? Gee, I haven't had such a good time since I had the
Mr. Brady reappeared, scrambled back to his seat and slammed the
door behind him. Jim says it's Corrigan's barn, he said. Sit tight,
boys! The car leaped forward once more, took the first corner at
twenty miles an hour, took the next at thirty and then, in the middle
of a firm, hard road, simply roared away into the starlit darkness, the
headlights throwing a great white radiance ahead. Tim, on the front
seat, whipped off his cap and stuffed it into his pocket. Behind, the
three boys huddled themselves low in the wide seat while the wind tore
Must be going ninety miles an hour! gasped Clint.
Suppose we bust something! said Tom awedly.
Don braced his feet against the foot-rail. Let it bust! he
That was a memorable ride. Tim owned afterward that he thought he
had ridden fast once or twice before, but that he was mistaken. I
watched that speedometer from the time we turned the second corner, he
declared, and it never showed less than fifty-three and was generally
around sixty! If I hadn't been so excited I'd been scared to death!
Now and then one of the boys behind looked back along the road, but
if anyone was following them the fact wasn't apparent. Almost before
they were conscious of having travelled any distance the car topped a
slight hill at a dizzy speed and the conflagration was in sight. A
quarter of a mile distant a big barn was burning merrily. The car
slowed down at the foot of the descent, swung into a lane and pitched
and careened toward the burning structure. Other buildings were
clustered about the barn and a good-sized white dwelling house stood in
dangerous proximity. Between house and barn, standing out black against
the orange glow of the fire, was a group of women and children, while a
few men, not more than a half-dozen it seemed, were wandering hither
and thither in the radiance. A horse with trailing halter snorted and
dashed to safety as the automobile turned from the lane and came to a
stop under an apple tree.
Far as we go! shouted Mr. Brady. Come on, boys, and lend a hand!
The lights dimmed, the engine stopped and the occupants of the car
scrambled out and ran up the lane. They can't save that barn, panted
Mr. Brady, but they'd ought to save the rest of them.
A man attired principally in a pair of overalls and a flannel shirt
and carrying an empty bucket advanced to meet them.
Is the engine coming? he asked listlessly.
They hadn't started when I left, answered Mr. Brady, and I guess
you needn't look for them for fifteen or twenty minutes. Got any water
handy when it does come?
I've got a tank full up there, and there's a pond behind the house.
But I don't know's they can do anything. Looks to me like everything's
bound to go. Well, I got insurance.
Got plenty of buckets? asked Mr. Brady, peeling off his coat. How
many men are here?
About six or seven, I guess. Yes, there's buckets enough, but the
heat's so fierce
Animals all out?
There's some pigs down there. We tried to chase 'em out, but the
plaguy things wouldn't go. We got the horses and cows out and a couple
o' wagons. All my hay's done for, though. And there's a heap o'
machinery in there
Well, we can save the other buildings, can't we? asked Mr. Brady
impatiently. Get your buckets and your men together, Corrigan. Here
are five of us, and we can make a line and keep the roofs wet down
until the engine comes, I guess. Send the women for all the pails and
things you've got. Get a hustle on, man!
Mr. Corrigan hesitated a moment and then trotted away. The water
supply was contained in a wooden tank set some ten feet above ground,
and high beyond that, dimly discernible through the cloud of smoke, the
spectral arms of a wind-mill revolved imperturbably. Mr. Brady,
followed by the boys, went on around to the further side of the burning
building. It was a huge hip-roofed structure. One end, that nearest the
house, was already falling, and the tons of crackling hay in the mows
glowed like a furnace. The heat, even at the foot of the wind-mill, a
hundred feet or more away, was almost intolerable. A row of one-story
buildings ran along one side of the barn, so near that the flying
sparks blew over rather than on to them. Several other detached
structures stood at greater distances. Mr. Brady, surveying the scene,
shook his head doubtfully.
Guess he's right, he said. There's not much use trying to save
those nearer buildings. We couldn't stay on those roofs a minute. I
guess the chief danger will be from sparks lighting on the house and
that creamery there. Things are mighty dry.
Four or five men dangling empty buckets, one of them Mr. Corrigan's
son and the others neighbours, came up and asked about the fire
department and Mr. Brady repeated what he had told the older man. What
we've got to do, he continued, is to keep the roof on the house and
the dairy wet. Those sparks are flying all over them. What's that small
building over there?
That's the ice-house, Mr. Brady.
Well, we won't bother about that. How many are there of us?
Six, I guess, said one of the men, but another corrected him.
Old Man Meredith and Tom Young just drove in, he announced. That
makes eight of us, and there's five of you
Well, come on, then, Mr. Brady interrupted briskly. You fellows
get your pails full and look after the dairy. Get on the roof, a couple
of you, and keep it wet down. The rest can lug water. Got a ladder
handy? All right. Somebody fetch it in a hurry. Hold on! Isn't there
water in the dairy?
Yes, sir, plenty of it.
Then fill your buckets inside and hand them up to the men on the
roof. I'll take my gang and go over to the house.
The following half-hour was a busy time for the four boys. Mr. Brady
and Don stood precariously athwart the ridge of the house roof while
Tim and Clint and Tom, later assisted by others, filled buckets in the
kitchen, raced up two flights of stairs and a short ladderoften
losing half of their burden on the wayand passed them through a
skylight to those outside. A dozen times the dry shingles caught fire
under the rain of sparks, but Mr. Brady, climbing along the ridge like
a cat, tossing buckets of water with unerring precision, kept the fire
at bay. It was warm work for all. On the roof the heat of the fire was
unpleasantly apparent, while in the house it was stiflingly close and
the work of carrying the pails up and down stairs soon had the three
boys in a fine perspiration and badly off for breath!
When the engines arrived, heralded by loud acclaim from the
onlookers, who had by then multiplied remarkably, the barn was merely a
huge pyre of glowing hay and burning timbers, only one far corner
remaining erect. The piggery and adjoining buildings were ablaze in
several places. The creamery roof had caught once or twice, but each
time the flames had been subdued. If the engine and hose-cart and two
carriages bearing members of the volunteer fire department had been
slow in arriving, at least the fire-fighters got to work expeditiously
and with surprisingly little confusion. Don, pausing for a moment in
his labour of passing buckets to look down, decided that Brimfield had
no cause to be ashamed of its department. In a jiffy the hose-cart was
rattling across the yardand, incidentally, some flower bedsin the
direction of the pond behind the house, and a moment or two later the
engine was pumping vigorously and a fine stream of water was wetting
down the roofs of the threatened structures. Axes bit into charring
timbers, sparks flew, enthusiastic, rubber-clad firemen dashed here and
there, shouting loudly, the audience cheered and the worst was over!
With the collapse of the remaining section of barn wall the danger
from sparks was past, and, emptying one final bucket, Mr. Brady,
followed by a very wet, very tired and very warm Don, crept back
through the skylight and joined the others below. Mr. Brady rescued his
coat, led the way to the kitchen pump and drank long and copiously,
setting an example enthusiastically emulated by the boys. Tim declared
that if he drank as much as he wanted there wouldn't be enough water
left to put out the fire with!
Well, boys, said Mr. Brady, finally setting down the dipper and
drawing a long breath, I guess we did pretty well for amateurs, eh? I
don't know whether we get any thanks, for I've a suspicion that
Corrigan would have been just as pleased if everything had gone. From
the way he talked when we got here I guess he wanted the insurance
more'n he did the buildings! Mr. Brady chuckled. Well, we put one
over on him in that case, eh? Want to stick around much longer? I guess
most of the fun's over; unless they're going to serve some of that
They got the pigs out, chuckled Tim. They were running around
here awhile ago like crazy. About twenty of them, big and little,
squealing and getting between people's feet. Those pigs had the time of
Well, then, suppose we start along home? said Mr. Brady. You
They agreed that they were. The remains of the barn were already
blackening, and, while the firemen, evidently determined to make the
most of the occasion, were still swinging axes and pouring water on the
already extinguished and well-soaked buildings, there was no danger of
further trouble. Mr. Corrigan, surrounded by a group of sympathetic
neighbours, was cataloguing his losses and Mr. Brady called to him as
Good-night, Corrigan! Sorry for you, but you've saved your house
Yes, sir, Mr. Brady. I'm greatly obliged to you, sir, and them
young fellers, too. It's a bit of a loss, sir, but there's pretty good
That's fortunate. Good-night! Mr. Brady chuckled as they went on
into the darkness of the orchard. Bet you he's downright peeved with
us, boys, for wetting that roof down! I happen to know that he's been
losing money on this place for five years and been trying to sell it
for a twelvemonth.
You don't suppose, began Tom, that heerthat he
Set the fire? Well, I'd rather not suppose about that. As there's
no evidence against him we'd better give him the benefit of the doubt,
CHAPTER VIII. COACHING THE TACKLES
THE ride back was far less exciting. Mr. Brady drove the big car
leisurely and conversed with Clint, who had succeeded to the seat of
honour in front. Mr. Brady, it appeared, had a poultry farm some
distance on the other side of Brimfield. He seemed a trifle surprised
and pained when he discovered that Clint had never heard of the Cedar
Ridge Poultry Farm, and at once issued an invitation to visit it.
You come over some time and I'll show you some stock that'll open
your eyes. Bring your friends along. Tell the conductor on the trolley
where you want to go and he'll set you down right at my gate. You can't
miss it, though, anyhow, for I've got nearly a quarter of a mile of
houses there. Silver Campines are my specialty. Raise a few White
Wyandottes, too. You wouldn't think to look at me that the doctors came
mighty near giving me up ten or eleven years ago, eh? Did, though. That
was just after I finished college. They said the only thing would save
me was hiking out to Colorado or Arizona or New Mexico. Some said one
place and some said another. Seeing that they couldn't decide, I
settled the question myself. Came out here, bought ten acres of
landI've got nearly forty nowand lived in a tent one Summer while
my house was building. Doctors said it wouldn't do, but I fooled them.
Slept out of doors every night, worked like a slave fourteen hours a
day and put on flesh right from the start. I'm not what you'd call fat
now, I guess, but you ought to have seen me then! An old chap I had
putting up my first chicken house told me he could work me in nicely
for a roosting pole! Went back to one of the doctors three years ago
and had him look me over. He had to admit that I was a pretty healthy
specimen. You could see that he was downright peeved about it, though!
Mr. Brady chuckled. Then I settled the matter to my own satisfaction
by taking out some life insurance. When I got my policy I stopped
worrying about my health. You drop over some afternoon and let me show
you how to live like a white man and make a little money, too. There's
no life like it, and I wouldn't go back to the city if they gave me the
Ritz-Carlton to live in!
[Illustration: Finally, Don was unceremoniously yanked up and
Clint responded that he and the others would like very much to visit
Cedar Ridge some day, but that just now they were all pretty busy in
the afternoons with football. That struck a responsive chord and Mr.
Brady harked back to his school and college days when he, too, had
fondled the pigskin. I wasn't much of a player, though, he
acknowledged. I was sort of tall and puny-looking and not very strong.
Still, I did get into my school team in my senior year and played on my
freshman team in college. The next year I had to give it up, though.
I'd like to come over some day and see you fellows play. I've always
been intending to. I haven't seen a real smashing football game for
years. That's funny, too, for I can remember the time when I used to
think that if I could get on my 'varsity eleven I'd die happy. He
laughed as he swept the searchlights around a corner. A man's
ambitions change, don't they? Now what I want to do is to raise the
champion egg producer. I'm going to do it, too, before long.
And Clint quite believed it. Any man, he told himself, who could
take command of a situation as Mr. Brady had that evening, and who
could make enough money in the poultry business to own a three-thousand
dollar automobile was capable of anything!
When they approached the town Mr. Brady swung off to the left,
explaining that he would take the boys up to the school. There was a
moment of silence and then Clint protested weakly. Shucks, was the
reply, it won't take five minutes longer, and after the way you
fellows have worked tonight you don't deserve to have to walk home!
Well, thenthen I guess you'd better let us out at the corner,
said Tim. We'd hate to wake up the masters, Mr. Brady.
Oh, that's it, eh? Mr. Brady laughed loudly. Stayed out too late,
I'm afraid we have, sir, said Clint. We're supposed to be in hall
before ten and it's long after that now. If you'll let us out at the
corner of the grounds we can sort of sneak around back and maybe get in
without being seen. Faculty's beastly strict about outstaying leave.
The car crossed the railroad track and presently pulled up quietly
in the gloom of the trees along the road and the four boys noiselessly
descended, shook hands, promised to pay a visit some day to Cedar Ridge
and stole off to the right through the darkness. A moment later the
tiny red light of the automobile vanished from sight. Tim called a halt
at the wall. You'd better bunk out with us tonight, Clint, he
whispered. We'll beat it around back of the gym and get in the shadows
of the buildings. Say, Don, you're sure we left that window unlatched?
Of course we did! It hasn't been closed for a week.
Then forward, my brave comrades! If anyone sees us we'd better
scatter and hide out for awhile.
They climbed over a stone wall and made their way through a grove
adjoining the school grounds, keeping close to the boundary fence. It
was as dark as pitch in the woods and every now and then one or another
would walk into a tree or fall over a root. Don's teeth were chattering
like castanets, for the night had grown cooler and a little breeze was
blowing from the west, and his clothing was still far from dry. They
crept past the back of the Cottage very cautiously, for there were
lights upstairs and down, and breathed easier when the black bulk of
the gymnasium loomed before them and they could crawl over the fence
and drop back into school ground. From the corner of the gymnasium to
Billings was a long distance, and looked just now longer than it ever
had before. Also, in spite of the fact that there was no moon, the
night was surprisingly light and Tim scowled disapprovingly at the
stars as they paused for an instant at the corner of the building to
get their breaths.
Keep low, advised Tim, and make for Torrence. Then we'll stay
close to the walls of the buildings. You want to see if there's a
window open in Torrence, Clint?
No, I'll stay with you fellows. I'd probably walk into a chair or a
table and someone would take me for a burglar.
Come on, then. Haste to yon enfolding darkness!
They hasted, and a second or two after were creeping, doubled up
lest their heads show above the darkened windows and arouse unwelcome
curiosity, along the rear of Torrence. Then they raced across the space
dividing Torrence from Main Hall and repeated the proceedings until,
finally, they were under the windows of Number 6 Billings. Both were
open at the bottom and their doubts and tribulations were at an end.
Clint was assisted in first, Tom followed and then Tim and, finally,
Don was unceremoniously yanked up and through.
Eureka! breathed Tim. Can you make it to your room, Tom? If you
don't want to risk it you can bunk out here on the window-seat or
You may have half of my bed, offered Don. But Tom was already
removing his shoes.
If Horace hears me, he whispered, he's got better ears than I
think he has. Good-night, fellows. We had a bully time, even if we
didn't get that rarebit!
Tim groaned hollowly. There! Now you've gone and reminded me that
I'm starved to death!
Shut up, warned Don. Don't forget that Horace's bedroom is right
there. He nodded toward the wall. Beat it, Tom, and don't fall over
The door opened soundlessly, closed again and Tom was gone. They
listened, and, although the transom was slightly open, not a creak or a
shuffle reached them. He's all right, whispered Tim. Me for bed,
fellows. Want to come in with me, Clint, or will you luxuriate on the
Window-seat, thanks. Got a coat or something?
Tim pulled a comforter from the closet shelf and tossed it to him,
and quietly and quickly they got out of their clothes and sought their
couches. Ten minutes later three very healthy snores alone disturbed
the silence of Number 6.
The next morning Clint joined the others and walked unobtrusively
along the Row with them in the direction of Wendell and breakfast, but
when he reached Torrence he quite as unobtrusively slipped through the
doorway and sought his room to repair his appearance and relieve the
anxiety of Amory Byrd. And that seemed to conclude the adventure for
all hands, and Don, for one, was extremely thankful that they had
escaped detection and the punishment which would have certainly
followed. But that Sunday afternoon, while on his way to Torrence to
recover a book which Leroy Draper had borrowed in the Spring and
neglected to return, he fell in with Harry Walton and made the
disconcerting discovery that he had congratulated himself too soon. Don
had no particular liking for Walton, although he by no means held him
in the disdain that Amy Byrd and some others did, and he was a little
surprised when Harry fell into step beside him.
Have a good time last night? asked Harry with an ingratiating
Last night? echoed Don vacantly. He remembered then that Lawton
roomed in Number 20 Billings, directly above Number 6. What about last
Harry winked meaningly and chuckled. Well, I guess there was a
party, wasn't there? I noticed you got home sort of late.
Did I? What makes you think that?
I happened to be looking out my window, Don. It was sort of hot and
I wasn't sleepy. Who were the other fellows?
Other fellows? I guess you didn't see any others, Walton.
Harry's saturnine countenance again wreathed itself with a growing
grin. Didn't, eh? All right. I probably imagined them.
Maybe you were asleep and dreamed it, said Don gravely. Guess you
must have, Walton.
Oh, I'm not going to talk, Don. You needn't be afraid of that.
I'm not, responded the other drily. Well, I'm going in here. So
Bye, Don. I'm mum.
Don nodded and entered Torrence, but on the way upstairs he frowned
disgustedly. He didn't believe for an instant that Walton would
deliberately get them into trouble, but he might talk so much that the
facts would eventually work around to one of the masters. Don wished
that almost any fellow he knew save Walton had witnessed that entry by
the window of Number 6. Later, when he returned from his visit to Roy
Draper, without the book, by the way, since it had mysteriously
disappeared, he recounted his conversation with Walton to Tim. Tim
didn't let it bother him any, however.
Harry won't give us away. Why should he? Besides, if he did he
would know mighty well that I'd spoil his brunette beauty!
Well, he may tell it around and Horace or somebody'll hear it.
That's all I'm worrying about.
Don't worry, Donald. Keep a clear conscience and you'll never know
what worry is. That's my philosophy.
Don smiled and dismissed the matter from consideration.
On Monday he had his first try at coaching the second team tackles
and found that, after all, he got on fairly well. There were four
candidates for the positions and two of them, Kirkwell and Merton,
promised well. Kirkwell, in fact, had already had a full season of
experience on the second. Merton was a graduate from his last year's
hall team. The other two, Brace and Goodhugh, were novices and had
everything to learn, and it was with them that Don laboured the
hardest. Monday's practice ended with a ten-minute scrimmage between
two hastily selected teams, and Don, for the first time that fall,
played in his old position of left guard. Merton, who opposed him,
found that he still had much to learn.
On Tuesday, after a long and grilling tackling practice at the
dummy, Coach Boutelle announced his line-up for the scrimmage against
the first team, and Don was disappointed to find that Kirkwell and not
he was down for left guard. The right guard position went to Merton.
Don, with Mr. Boutelle and a half-dozen of the more promising
substitutes, followed their team about the field, Boots criticising and
driving and Don breaking in with hurried instructions to the guards.
The first team had no trouble in piling up four touchdowns that
afternoon, even though three regulars were still out of the line-up.
Between the short periods Don coached Kirkwell and Merton again, and
Kirkwell, who was a decent chap but fancied himself a bit, was inclined
to resent it.
Chop it off, Gilbert, he said finally. Give a fellow a chance to
use his own brains a little. I'm no greenhorn, you know. I played guard
all last year on this team.
I know you did, answered Don. And I don't say you can't play your
position all right. But the best of us make mistakes, and Boots has
told me to look out for them and try and correct them. I'd a lot rather
be playing than doing this, Kirkwell, but while I am doing it I'm going
to do it the best I know how. A fellow who isn't in the game sees a lot
the player doesn't, and when
Oh, all right. Only don't tell me stuff I know as well as I know my
name, Gilbert. Don't nag.
Sorry. I'll try not to. But you see what I mean about that
stiff-arm business, don't you? Don't get out of position when you're
not sure where the play's coming, Kirkwell. Stiff-arm your man and hold
him off until you see what's doing. Then you can play him right or left
or shove him back. Once or twice you waited too long to find out where
the play was coming and you didn't hold your man off. Get me?
Yes, but we don't all play the position the same way, you know.
What's the good of sparring with your man when you've got to find where
the play's coming? You can't watch the ball and your opponent too, can
It doesn't sound reasonable, said Don, but you can! You watch
Hall do it, if you don't believe me. Maybe you don't actually look two
ways at once, Kirkwell, but you can watch your man and locate the play
at the same time. I suppose it comes with practice.
I'd like to see you do it, replied Kirkwell aggrievedly.
Watch Hall do it. He's the best guard around here. I'm not setting
up as an example.
You talk like it, muttered Kirkwell. But Merton, who had been a
silent audience, stepped in to Don's support.
Gilbert's only trying to help us, Ned. Quit grousing. Come on;
In spite of mutinous objections Kirkwell profited by Don's advice
and instruction and soon showed an improvement in his defensive
playing. It didn't appear that day, for Kirkwell was replaced by Don
before the second period was more than a few minutes old, while Merton
gave way to Goodhugh. Don's advent considerably strengthened the left
of the second team's line and more than once during his brief presence
there he had the satisfaction of outwitting Tom Hall and once got clear
through and smeared a play well behind the first team's line.
Boots cut his squad from day to day and on Friday only some eighteen
candidates remained. Brace went with the discard. Between parting with
Brace and Goodhugh, Don, when consulted, chose to sacrifice the former.
Possibly young Brace suspected Don's part in his release, for, for some
time after that, he viewed Don with scowls.
Don's hand was now entirely healed, although the scars still showed,
and, according to the doctor, would continue to show for a long time.
Mr. Boutelle used Don at right guard during some portion of every
scrimmage game against the first, a fact which caused Kirkwell a deal
of anxiety. Kirkwell had from the first, and not unreasonably, resented
Don's appearance with the second team squad. Don had been, as every
fellow knew, slated for the first team, and Kirkwell thought it was
unfair of him to drop back to the second and try to do him out of his
place. Feeling as he did, it isn't surprising that he took more and
more unkindly to Don's teaching. It took all of Don's good nature at
times to prevent an open break with Kirkwell. Once the latter accused
Don of trying to ball him up so that he would play poorly and Don
would get the position. The next day, though, he made an awkward
apology for that accusation and was quite receptive to Don's criticisms
and instructions. But Don's task was no easy one and it grew harder as
the season progressed and the second team, especially as to its
linemen, failed to develop the ability Mr. Boutelle looked for. Don
more than once was on the point of resigning his somewhat thankless
task, but Tim refused to sanction it, and what Tim said had a good deal
of influence with Don.
Well, then, he said moodily, I hope Kirkwell will break something
and get out of it.
Tut, tut, remonstrated Tim. Them's no Christian sentiments.
I do, though. Or, anyway, I hope something will happen to let me
out of it. Boots said he was afraid Robey would take me on the first,
but I don't see any chance of it.
I don't see why he doesn't, though, mused Tim. Your hand's all
right now and you're playing a corking good game. You can work all
around any guard he's got except, maybe, Tom. Tom's rather a bit above
the average, if you ask me. Neither Walton nor Pryme amounts to a whole
Robey's been playing Walton a good deal lately, said Don. I
wouldn't be surprised if he put him in ahead of Gafferty before long.
There isn't a lot to choose between them, I guess, answered Tim.
Gafferty's no earthly good on offence. Wait till we run up against
Benton tomorrow. Those huskies will show Gafferty up finely. And maybe
some more of us, Tim added with a chuckle.
Oh, well began Don, vaguely, after a minute.
But Tim interrupted. Know what I think? I think Robey means to take
you on the first later and is letting you stay with Boots just so
you'll get fined down and speeded up a bit. You know you're still a
little slow, Donald.
I am? Don asked in genuine surprise. I didn't know it. How do you
mean, slow, Tim?
Tim leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers together behind
his head. Every way, Donald. I'm telling you this for your own good,
dearie. I thought you realised it, though, or I'd have said it before.
You start slow and you don't get up steam until the play's about over.
If it wasn't that you're an indecently strong chap we'd get the jump on
you every time. We do, as it is, only it doesn't do us much good,
because you're a tough chap to move. Now you think it over, Don. See if
you can't ginger up a bit. Bet you anything that when you do Robey'll
have you yanked off that second team in no time at all!
I'm glad you told me, said Don, after a moment's consideration. I
thought I was doing pretty well this fall. I know well enough it was
being all-fired slow that kept me off the first last fall, but I surely
thought I'd picked up a whole lot of speed. I'll have to go back to
practising starts, I guess.
Oh, never mind the kindergarten stuff, old man. Just put more jump
into it. You'll find you can do it all right, now that you know about
it. Why, I'll bet you'll be performing like a Jack rabbit before the
Like a jackass, more likely, responded Don ruefully.
No, for a jackass, dearie, doesn't take a hint.
Well, but I don't believe I can play any faster, Tim. If I
could I'd be doing it, wouldn't I? Just naturally, I mean.
Never mind the conundrums, Don. You try it. If you do I'll be
willing to guarantee you a place on the first.
I guess your guarantee wouldn't cut much ice, objected Don, with a
laugh. Then he sobered and added: Funny game, though, me coaching
Kirkwell and Merton and Goodhugh. Looks as if I was the one needed the
Sure. We all need it. No one's perfect, Don, although, without
boasting, I will say that I come pretty near it.
You come pretty near being a perfect chump, if that's what you
Tim shook his head. It isn't at all what I mean. Now cut out the
artless prattle and let me find some sense in this history stuffif
there is any!
CHAPTER IX. THE WIDTH OF A FINGER
AT chapel the next morning Mr. Fernald, the principal, after the
usual announcements had been made, lifted a newspaper from the table at
his side and ran his eyes over an item there. I have here, he said,
a copy of this week's Brimfield Times, which tells of an
incident of which I had not learned. In telling of a fire on Saturday
night last which destroyed a barn and damaged other buildings on the
farm of Mr. William Corrigan, some three miles from the village, the
Times makes mention of the valuable assistance of a Mr. Grover
Brady and four boys of this school. According to the Times, Mr.
Brady and four boys dashed to the scene in a high-powered automobile,
organised a bucket brigade and savedMr. Fernald consulted his
authority againsaved the dwelling house from the devouring element.
The metaphor is that of the paper. Possibly the Times is
misinformed with regard to the heroic young firemen, although I hope
not. I should be very pleased to discover that they were really
Brimfieldians. If they were, if they are before me at this moment, I
trust they will signify the fact by standing up. I'm sure we'd all like
to know their identity and give them well-deserved applause. Now then,
will the modest heroes kindly reveal themselves?
Silence ensued, a silence broken only by a few whispers and some
shuffling of feet. Every fellow's eyes searched the room, or, at least,
that is true of almost every fellow. Tim smiled innocently and
expectantly at the principal, Clint studied the back of the head in
front of him most interestedly, Don observed the scar in his hand
absorbedly and Tom grinned because Steve Edwards was whispering from
the side of his mouth: Why don't you get up, you bloomin' hero, why
don't you get up? Harry Walton was smiling that knowing smile of his
and doing his best to catch Don's eye. And Don somehow knew it and
didn't dare look toward him.
I'm disappointed, said Mr. Fernald after a minute. Either the
paper is mistaken or the fellows are over-modest. Well, if they won't
speak for themselves perhaps someone else will volunteer to wrest them
from the obscurity they so evidently court. How about that, boys?
Anyone know who the heroes are?
Again silence for an instant, and then, in various parts of the
room, the sudden moving of seats or tramping of feet as though someone
was about to get up. But no one did, and some of the younger boys in
front began to titter nervously. Mr. Fernald smiled and laid the
Brimfield Times back on the table.
No heroes amongst us, eh? Well, doubtless if any of you had been
there you'd have performed quite as well as these unknown young
gentlemen did. I like to think so. Dismissed.
Do you think he suspects us? asked Tom as he ranged himself beside
Tim on the way out. Gee, I thought once he was looking right at me!
That's what it is to have a guilty conscience, replied Tim, in a
virtuous tone. Of course he doesn't suspect. If he did he'd have named
us, sure as shooting. The funny part of it is that he hasn't thought
about what time the fire was! Maybe the paper didn't say. If he knew
that he'd probably be a sight more anxious to find us!
I was scared stiff that Harry Walton would blab. I didn't dare look
Harry doesn't know you were with us. He recognised Don, or says he
did, and he naturally thinks I was along, but he doesn't know who the
other two were. If he opens his mouth I'll brain him.
I guess he won't. He's a sort of a pup, but he isn't mean enough
for that. Gee, but it almost ruined my appetite for breakfast!
Even if Josh did find out, said Tim as they turned into Wendell,
he wouldn't do much to us, I guess. It wasn't our fault the fire was
late in getting started, and the paper calls us heroes
I don't believe it does. That's some of Josh's nonsense. I'm going
to get a copy of the Times and see what it does say.
Take my advice and let the Times alone, advised Tim. Why,
I wouldn't be seen with a copy of it in my possession! It would be
circumstantial evidence, or corroborative evidence or something horrid,
and I'd get pinched for sure. You keep away from the Times,
There was a good deal of interested speculation as to the identity
of the four youths who had participated in the rescue of Farmer
Corrigan's dwelling, but the general opinion was to the effect that the
local paper had erred. One fellow made the suggestion in Don's hearing
that if faculty would look it up and see who had leave of absence
Saturday night they might spot the chaps. Don sincerely hoped the idea
wouldn't occur to Mr. Fernald!
But interest in the matter soon waned, for Brimfield was to play
Benton Military Academy that afternoon and what sort of a showing she
would make against that very worthy opponent was a far more absorbing
subject for speculation. Benton had been defeated handily enough last
year, but reports from the military academy this Fall led Brimfield to
expect a hard contest. And her expectations were fulfilled.
Benton brought at least a hundred neatly uniformed rooters along and
the field took on a very gallant appearance. The visitors seemed gaily
confident of victory and from the time they marched into the field and
took their places in the stand until the kick-off there was no
cessation of the songs and cheers from the blue-clad cohorts. Coach
Robey started his best men in that game and, as was quickly proved,
needed to. The first period was a bitterly contested punting duel in
which Rollins, and, later, St. Clair came off second best. But the
difference in the kicking of the rival teams was not sufficient to
allow of much advantage, and the first ten-minute set-to ended without
a score. In fact, neither team had been at any time within scoring
distance of the other's goal line. When play began again Benton changed
her tactics and started a rushing game that for a few minutes made
headway. But a fumble cost her the ball and a possible score on the
Maroon-and-Grey's twenty-yard line and the latter adopted the enemy's
plan and banged at the soldiers' line for fair gains. A forward pass
brought the spectators to their feet and gained twenty-two yards for
Brimfield, Steve Edwards being on the receiving end of a very pretty
play. But Benton stiffened presently and Brimfield was forced to kick.
That kick spelled disaster for Brimfield. Rollins dropped back to
near his own thirty yards and sent a remarkable corkscrew punt to
Benton's twenty. It was one of the prettiest punts ever seen on the
Brimfield gridiron, for it was so long that it went over the
quarter-back's head, so high that it enabled the Maroon-and-Grey ends
to get well down under it and was nicely placed in the left-hand corner
of the field. The Benton quarter made no effort to touch it while it
was bounding toward the goal line, for with both Edwards and Holt
hovering about him a fumble might easily have resulted, and it was only
when the pigskin had settled down to a slow, toppling roll and it was
evident that it did not mean to go over the line that the Benton
quarter seized it. What happened then was little short of a miracle.
Both Captain Edwards and Holt took it for granted that the quarter-back
meant to drop on the ball and call it down, and, since there was no
necessity to smother the opponent, each waited for the other to tackle
and hold him. But the first thing anyone knew the Benton quarter had
the ball in his hands, had squirmed somehow between Edwards and Holt
and was speeding up the middle of the field!
Between him and the fifty-yard line friend and foe were mingled, and
to win through seemed a preposterous undertaking. And yet first one and
then another of the enemy was passed, team-mates formed hasty
interference for the runner and, suddenly, to the consternation of the
Brimfield stand, the quarter, with the ball snuggled in the crook of
his left elbow, was out of the mêlée, with a clear field before him and
two Benton players guarding his rear. Crewe made a desperate effort to
get him near the thirty-yard line, but the interference was too much
for him, and after that, although Brimfield trailed the runner to the
goal line and over, there was no doubt as to the result. And when the
Benton quarter deposited the ball squarely between the posts and laid
himself down beside it friend and foe alike arose from their seats and
cheered him long and loudly. Never had a more spectacular run been made
there, for not only had the quarter practically traversed the length of
the field, but had eluded the entire opposing eleven.
Benton deserved to secure the odd point by kicking goal, but
goal-kicking was the quarter-back's business and he was far too
tuckered to try, and so the player who did make the attempt failed
miserably, and Benton had to be satisfied with those six points.
Probably she was, for she cheered madly and incessantly while the
period lasted and then spent the half-time singing triumphant paeans.
And those military academy chaps could sing, too! Brimfield, a bit
chastened, listened and applauded generously and only found her own
voice when the Maroon-and-Grey warriors trotted back again.
Carmine had given place to McPhee at quarter and Holt to Cheep at
right end. Otherwise Brimfield's line was the same as in the first
half. McPhee opened his bag of tricks soon after play began and
double-passes and delayed-passes and a certain fake plunge at guard
with quarter running wide outside the drawn-in end made good gains and
took the ball down the field with only one halt to Benton's
twenty-three yards. There the military academy team solved a fake-kick
and St. Clair was laid low behind his line. Rollins made up the lost
distance and a little more besides, and finally, with the ball on
Benton's nineteen yards on fourth down, Captain Edwards called for a
try-at-goal and Rollins dropped back to the thirty. Fortunately the
Maroon-and-Grey forwards held back the plunging enemy in good style,
Rollins had all the time he wanted, the pigskin dropped neatly over the
bar, and the score-board figures proclaimed 6 to 3.
Benton kicked off and once more Brimfield started up the field, St.
Clair, Tim Otis and Rollins banging the line from end to end and
Edwards varying the monotony by sweeping around behind and launching
himself off on wide runs. But the advance slackened near the middle of
the field and an attempted forward pass was captured by Benton. That
play brought the ten-minute period to an end.
Benton tried the Brimfield centre and got through for four yards,
hit it again and made three and placed the ball on the home team's
forty-yard line. Time was called for Brimfield and Danny Moore trotted
on to administer to Gafferty. The left guard was soon on his feet
again, although a trifle unsteady, it seemed, and Benton, with three
yards to gain, swung into the other side and pushed a half-back through
for the distance. Carmine replaced McPhee and Holt went back to end
position. Benton once more thrust at Gafferty and, although the
secondary defence plugged the hole, went through for two yards. Time
was again called and this time the trainer led Joe Gafferty off the
field, the latter protesting bitterly, and Harry Walton was hurried in.
Benton tried a forward pass and made it go for a small gain and then,
on third down, got past Thayer and reached the eighteen before Carmine
tipped up the runner. Across the gridiron, Benton's supporters yelled
mightily and a second touchdown looked imminent.
Benton fumbled and recovered for a two-yard loss and then sent that
heroic quarter up the field to try a drop kick. It looked easy enough,
for the ball was near the twenty-eight yards and in front of the right
hand goal post. Captain Edwards implored his men to block the kick and
comparative quiet fell over the field. Back shot the ball and the
quarter's foot swung at it, but the left side of the Benton line
crumbled and Hall and Crewe flung themselves into the path of the ball.
Four seconds later it was snuggled under Tim Otis's chest near the
thirty-five yards, for Tim had followed the forwards through and
trailed the bouncing pigskin up the field.
That misadventure seemed to take the heart out of the visitors, and
when Brimfield, with new courage and determination, smashed at her line
she fell back time and again. Substitutes were sent in lavishly, but
although the right side of the Benton line stiffened for awhile, the
left continued weak. Coach Robey sent in Compton to replace Steve
Edwards and, later, Howard for St. Clair. With the best part of five
minutes left, Brimfield hoped to put over a winning touchdown, and the
backs responded gallantly to Carmine's demands. Near the enemy's
forty-yard line Rollins threw a neat forward to Holt and the latter
raced along the side of the field for a dozen yards before he was
forced over the line. That took the ball to Benton's twenty-one. Two
tries at the line netted but six yards and Compton took the pigskin on
an end-around play and just made the distance.
Brimfield hammered the enemy's left wing and reached her five-yard
line in three downs, but Benton, fiercely determined, her feet on the
last line mark, was putting up a strong defence. Tom Hall, captain pro
tem., and Carmine consulted. A forward pass might succeed, and if it
did would win the game, but Benton would be watching for it and neither
Holt nor Compton was a brilliant catcher of thrown balls. A goal from
the field would only tie the score, but it seemed the wisest play. So
Rollins dropped back to the twenty and stretched his arms. But Benton
was sure a forward was to result and when the ball went back her
attempts to block the kick were not very enthusiastic. That was
fortunate for Brimfield, for Thursby's pass had been short and Rollins
had to pick the ball from the turf before he could swing at it. That
delay was almost his undoing, since the Benton forwards were now
trickling through, and it was only by the veriest good fortune that the
ball shot between them from Rollins's toe and, after showing an
inclination to pass to the left of the goal and changing its mind in
mid-air, dropped over the bar barely inside the post. Brimfield cheered
and the 3 on the board changed to 6. Coach Robey called Rollins and Tim
Otis out, replacing them with Martin and Gordon. Brimfield kicked off
once more and, with a scant minute and a half to play, the
Maroon-and-Grey tried valiantly to add another score.
Carmine caught on his twenty and took the ball to the thirty-six
before he was stopped, and Brimfield cheered wildly and danced about in
the stand. Plugging the line would never cover that distance to the
farther goal line and so Carmine sent Gordon off around the left end.
But Gordon couldn't find the hole and was run down for no gain. A
forward pass, Carmine to Compton, laid the ball on the forty-eight
yards. Howard slid off right tackle for six and, on a fake-kick play,
Martin ran around left end for seven more. Brimfield shouted
imploringly from the stand and, across the field, Benton cheered
incessantly, doggedly, longing for the whistle.
The Benton team used all allowable methods to waste time. The
timekeeper hovered nearby, his eyes darting from the galloping hand of
his watch to the players. Twenty-nine seconds, he responded to Tom
Hall's question. Carmine clapped his hands impatiently.
Signals now! Make this good! Left tackle over! 27578816! Hep!
The backs swung obliquely to the right, Carmine dropped from sight,
his back to the line, Benton's left side was borne slowly away,
fighting hard, and confusion reigned. Then Carmine whirled around,
sprang, doubled over, through the scattered right side of the enemy's
line, challenged only by the end, who made a desperate attempt at a
tackle but failed, and, with only the opposing quarter between him and
the goal line, raced like the wind. About him was a roaring babel of
sound, voices urging him on, shouts of dismay, imploring shrieks from
behind. Then the quarter was before him, crouching with out-reached
hands, a strained, anxious look on his dirt-streaked face.
They met near the twenty-yard line. The Benton quarter launched
himself forward. Carmine swung to the left and leaped. A hand groped at
his ankle, caught, and Carmine fell sprawling to the turf. But he found
his feet like a cat, wrenched the imprisoned ankle free and went
staggering, stumbling on. Again he fell, on the five-yard line, and
again the Benton quarter dived for him. But Carmine was not to be
stopped with the line only five short yards away. He wrested himself to
his feet again, the arms of the Benton quarter squirming about his
knees, plunged on a stride, dragging the enemy with him, found his legs
locked firmly now, struggled desperately and then flung himself
sidewise toward the last white streak. And as he fell his hands,
clasping the ball, reached forward and a whistle blew.
It was said afterward that a half-inch decided that touchdown. And
the half-inch was on the wrong side of the line! Carmine wept frankly
when he heard the decision and Tom Hall had to be held away from the
referee, but facts were facts and Carmine had lost his touchdown and
Brimfield the victory by the width of a finger!
Benton departed joyously, cheering and singing, and Brimfield tried
hard to be satisfied with a drawn game. But she wasn't very successful,
and for the next few days the referee's decision was discussed and
derided and regretted.
What sorrow Don felt was largely mitigated when, after supper that
evening, Steve Edwards found him in front of Billings. You come to us
Monday, Don, said the captain. Robey told me to tell you. Joe
Gafferty's got a rib caved in and is out of it for a fortnight at
least. Get Tim to coach you up on the signals. Don't forget.
As though he was likely to!
CHAPTER X. TIM EXULTS AND EXPLAINS
WHEN Don told Tim the latter insisted on performing a triumphal
dance about the room to the tune of Boola. When Don squirmed himself
loose Tim continued alone until the droplight was knocked to the floor
at the cost of one green shade. Then he threw himself, panting but
jubilant, on his bed and hilariously kicked his feet in air. Don
observed him with a faint smile.
You wooden Indian, you! exclaimed Tim, sitting up and dropping his
feet to the floor with a crash. There you stand like aa graven
image, looking as though you'd just received an invitation to a
funeral! Cheer, you idiot! Make a noise! Aren't you tickled to death?
You bet I am! replied Don.
Well, do something, then! You ought to have a little of my Latin
temperament, Don. You'd be a heap easier to live with. If it was I who
had just been waited on humbly by the first team captain and invited to
join the eleven I'dI'd make aa noise!
What do you think you've been doing? laughed Don. You'll have
Horace in here in a minute. Steve says you're to coach me on the
Tomorrow! Tim waved his hand. Time enough for that, Don. Just now
it behooves us to celebrate.
How? asked Don.
Tim thought long and earnestly. Finally, Let's borrow Larry Jones's
accordion and serenade Josh! he said.
Let's not. And let's not go to a fire, either! Think of something
Then we'll go out and bay at the moon. I've got to do something! By
the time Joe's got his busted rib mended you'll have that left guard
position nailed to the planks, Don.
How about Walton? asked Don dubiously.
A fig for Walton! Two figs for him! A whole box of figs! All you've
got to do is speed up a bit and
Suppose I can't?
Suppose nothing! You've got to! If you don't you'll have me
to fight, Donald. If you don't cinch that position in just one week
II'll take you over my knee and spank you with a belt! Come on over
to Clint's room. Let us disseminate the glorious tidings. Let us
I'd rather learn the signals, said Don. There's only tonight and
tomorrow, you know.
Tim appealed despairingly to the ceiling with wide-spread hands.
There's no poetry in his soul, he mourned, no blood in his veins!
He faced Don scornfully. Donald P. Gilbert is your name, my son, and
the P stands for Practical. All right, then, draw up a chair and let's
have it over. To think, though, that I should have to sit indoors a
night like this and teach signals to a wooden-head! I wooden do it for
anyone else. Ha! How's that! Get a pad and a pencil and try to look
All right? Mark 'em down, then. Starting at the left, number your
holes 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 6, 4, 2. Got that? Number your left end 1, the
next man 3, the next 5. Omit centre. Right guard 6, right tackle 4,
right end 2. Now, your backfield. Quarter 0, left half 7, right half 8,
Gee, that's hard to remember, murmured Don.
And hard to guess, answered Tim. Now, your first number, unless
it's under thirty, is a fake. If it's under thirty it means that the
next number is the number of a play. Over thirty, it means nothing.
Your second digit of your second number is your runner. The second
digit of the third number is the hole. The fourth number, as you
doubtless surmise, is also a fake. Now, then, sir! 65472398! What
Left half between end and tackle.
On the left. Correct. 19877729?
I don't know. Nineteen calls for a numbered play.
Right again, Mr. Gilbert, your performance is startling! The pity
of it is, though, that about the time you get these signals pat
Robey'll change them for the Claflin game. So far we've only got eight
numbered plays, and they aren't complicated. Want to go into them
No, I guess not. I'd rather get these holes and players sort of
fixed in my mind first. We'll go over the plays tomorrow, if you don't
It will break my heart, but I'll do it for you. Now will you come
over to Clint's?
I'd rather not, Tim. You go. I want to mull over these signals.
Presently, having exhausted his vocabulary on his room-mate, Tim
went. Don settled his head in his hands and studied the numbered
diagram for the better part of an hour. Don was slow at memorising, but
what was once forced into his mind stayed there. A little before ten
o'clock he slipped the diagram under a box in a bureau drawer and went
to bed with a calm mind, and when Tim returned riotously a few minutes
later Don was sleeping peacefully.
On Monday, in chapel, Don and the heroes of Farmer Corrigan's
conflagration had another shock, and Don, for one, wondered when he was
to hear the last of that affair. Since last week, said Mr. Fernald
drily, when I requested the four boys who helped to put out a fire at
the Corrigan farm to make themselves known to an admiring public, I
have gained an understanding of their evident desire to conceal their
identities. I am forced to the conclusion that it was not altogether
modesty that kept them silent. The fire, it appears, did not break out
until nearly half-past nine. Consequently the young gentlemen were
engaged in their heroic endeavours at a time when they should have been
in their dormitories. I have not yet found out who they were, but I am
making earnest efforts to do so. Meanwhile, if they wish to lighten the
consequences of their breach of school regulations, I'd earnestly
advise them to call and see me. I may add that, in view of the unusual
circumstances, had they made a clean breast of the affair I should have
dealt very leniently with them. That is all, I think. Dismissed.
None of the culprits dared to so much as glance at the others on the
way out of the hall, but afterward, when breakfast was over, they
gathered anxiously together in Number 6 Billings and discussed the
latest development with lowered voices, like a quartette of anarchists
arranging a bomb party.
He's right up on his ear, said Clint gloomily. If he gets us now
he will send us all packing, and don't you doubt it!
Piffle! This from Tim, the least impressed of the four. Probation
is all we'd get. Didn't the paper say we were heroes?
No, it didn't, answered Tom shortly. And I wish that paper was in
Might as well be fired as put on pro, said Clint. It would mean
no more football this year for any of us. My word, wouldn't Robey be
Wouldn't I be! growled Tom. Look here, do you really suppose he's
trying to find out who we were, or was that just a bluff to scare us
into 'fessing up!
Josh isn't much of a bluffer, observed Don judiciously. What he
says he means. What I don't savvy is why he hasn't found out already.
Every hall master has a record of leaves.
Yes, but it was Saturday night and I'll bet half the school had
leave, said Tim. I dare say, though, that if any fellows are
suspected we're amongst 'em, Don. Being on the first floor, Josh knows
we could sneak in easily. Still, he can't prove it on us.
I'm not so sure, replied Don thoughtfully. Suppose he asked Mr.
A dismayed silence ensued until Tom laughed mirthlessly.
That's one on us, he said. We never thought of that. Maybe he has
asked Brady already.
Brady doesn't know our names, said Tim. You didn't tell him, did
No, he didn't ask. But he could easily describe us so that Josh
would recognise us, I guess.
That's the trouble with being so plaguy distinguished looking,
mourned Tim. Seems to me, fellows, that there's just one thing to be
did, and did sudden.
You mean warn Mr. Brady? asked Clint.
Exactly, my discerning young friend. Maybe the horse is stolen
What horse? asked Tom perplexedly.
Merely a figure of speech, Tom. I was about to observe when so
Oh, cut out the verbiage, growled Tom.
That possibly it was too late to lock the stable door, continued
Tim, but we'd better do it, just the same. Let's see if he has a
Of course he has, said Clint, but I don't think it would be safe
to call him up. We'd better see him. Or write him a letter.
He wouldn't get a letter until tomorrow, maybe, objected Don. One
of us had better beat it over to his place as soon as possible and ask
him to keep mum.
I can't go, said Tom. I've got four recits this morning and Robey
would never let me off practice.
I don't believe any of us will do much work this afternoon, said
Tim. I'll go if Robey'll let me cut. I wish someone would come along,
though. It's a dickens of a trip to make alone. You come, Clint.
I will if I can. We'll ask Robey at dinner. What shall we say to
this Brady man?
Just tell him what's doing and ask him to forget what we looked
like if Josh writes to him or calls him up or anything. Brady's a good
old scout, I'll bet, added Tim with conviction. Maybe we'd better buy
a setting of eggs to get on the good side of him.
Don't be a chump, begged Tim. I don't call this a comedy
situation, if you do, Tim. I'd certainly hate to get on pro and have to
Don't be a chump, begged Tom. I don't say it's a comedy, but
there's no use weeping, is there? What's done is done, and we've got to
make the best of it, and a laugh never hurt anyone yet.
Well, then, let's make the best of it, answered Tom peevishly.
Talking doesn't do any good.
Neither does grouching, said Tim sweetly. You leave it all to
Clint and me, Tom. We're a swell pair of fixers. If we can get to Brady
before Josh does we're all right. And it's a safe wager Josh hasn't
asked Brady yet, for if he had he'd be on to us. There's the nine
o'clock bell, fellows, and I've got a recit. See you later. Hope for
the best, Tom, and fear the worst!
Tim seized his books and dashed out, followed more leisurely by
Clint. Tom remained a few minutes longer and then he, too, took his
departure, still filled with forebodings. Don, left to himself, drew a
chair to the table and began to study. Truth, however, compels me to
state that what he studied was not his German, although he had a
recitation coming in forty minutes, but two sheets of buff paper torn
from a scratch-pad and filled with writing interspersed with numerals
and adorned with strange diagrams, in short, Tim's elucidation of the
eight numbered plays which up to the present comprised Brimfield's
budget of tricks. It can't be said that Don covered himself with glory
in Mr. Daley's German class that morning or that the instructor was at
all satisfied, but Don had the secret satisfaction of knowing that
stored away in the back of his brain was a very thorough knowledge of
the Brimfield football signal code and of Mr. Robey's special plays.
CHAPTER XI. MR. BRADY FORGETS
THAT afternoon Don's knowledge stood him in good stead, for with
more than half the first-string players excused from practice, his
services were called on at the start, and, with McPhee and Cotter
running the squad, the signal drill was long and thorough. Harry Walton
viewed Don's advent with disfavour. That was apparent to Don and anyone
else who thought of the matter, although he pretended a good-natured
indifference that wasn't at all deceiving. Don more than once caught
his rival observing him with resentment and dislike, and, remembering
that Harry Walton had been a witness of his unconventional return to
hall that night, he experienced misgivings. Of course, Harry wouldn't
peach, butwell, Don again wished anyone rather than Harry had
stumbled on the secret.
But he didn't have much time for worrying about that matter, for
Coach Robey went after them hard that day. In the practice game with
the second team Don started at left guard and played the position until
within a few minutes of the whistle. Then Harry Walton, who had been
disgruntledly adorning the bench, took his place. He didn't look at Don
as he accepted the latter's head-guard, but Don was well aware that
Harry felt anything but good-will for him. Naturally enough, Harry had,
Don reflected, expected to step into Gafferty's place without
opposition when news of the extent of the latter's injury had become
known, and it was undoubtedly a big disappointment to him to discover
that he had to fight a new opponent. Don could sympathise with Harry,
for he had endured disappointments himself during his brief football
career, but it is difficult to sympathise very enthusiastically when
the subject of your sympathy shows his dislike for you, and Don
metaphorically shrugged his shoulders as he trotted up to the
It isn't my fault, he said to himself. I didn't bust Joe
Gafferty's rib and I'm not responsible for Robey's taking me on the
first team. Walton will just have to make the best of it.
Don couldn't flatter himself that he had played that afternoon with
especial brilliancy, although he had managed to hold his end up fairly
well. The fact was that he had been so intent on getting speeded into
his performance that he had rather skimped the niceties of line-play.
And he wasn't at all certain that he had shown any more speed than
usual, either. He awaited Mr. Robey's appearance in the locker-room
with some apprehension, certain that if he had erred badly he would
soon learn of it. When the coach did arrive at the tail of the
procession of panting players and said his say without once singling
out Don for special attention, the latter was relieved. He couldn't, he
told himself, have done so very badly, after all!
Tom walked back to Billings with Don to learn the result of Tim's
and Clint's embassy to the Cedar Ridge Poultry Farm, for the two had
obtained leave of absence from Mr. Robey and had set forth on their
journey the minute a three o'clock recitation was finished. Tim wasn't
in Number 6 when they reached it, but he and Clint tramped in soon
after, dusty and weary but evidently triumphant. Tim narrated their
Missed the three-fifty car, just as I told Clint we would if he
I had to find a cap to wear, didn't I? interpolated Clint.
Well, we found the place all right, fellows, and, say, it's some
poultry farm, believe me, dearies! Isn't it corking, Clint?
Clint grunted assent, stretching tired legs across the floor.
There's about a thousand acres of it, I guess, and a mile of red
chicken houses and runs, or whatever you call 'em. How many hens and
things did he tell us he had, Clint?
Eighteen hundred, I think. Maybe it was eighteen thousand. I don't
remember. All I know is there were chickens as far as you could see,
and then some.
Never mind the descriptive matter, urged Tom. What did he say?
Had Josh been at him? Did he promise
I'm coming to that, dearie. When we found him he was doing
something to that car of his in a cute little garage. And, say, it's an
eight-cylinder Lothrop, and a regular jim-dandy! Well, he took us into
his house first
Tom groaned in despair.
And fed us on crackers and cake and ginger ale. Say, he's got a
peach of a bungalow there; small but entire; and a cute little Jap who
cooks and looks after things for him. Well, then he took us out and
showed us around the place. Chickens! Gee, I didn't know there were so
many in the world! And we saw the incubators and thewhat you call
For the love of mud! exclaimed Tom. Can't you get down to dots?
Is it all right or isn't it?
Tim smiled exasperatingly. Then he showed us
Tom arose to his feet and took a step toward him.
It's all right, said Tim hurriedly. Everything, Thomas! We told
him what was up and how we didn't want Josh to find out it was us who
attended Mr. Corrigan's fire party and asked him if he would please not
remember what we looked like if Josh asked him. And he said
He laughed, interrupted Clint, and chuckled himself.
That's right! He laughed a lot. 'You're a little bit late,' he
said. 'Mr. Fernald called me up by telephone nearly a week ago,
fellows, and wanted to know all about it.' 'You didn't tell him?' I
yelped. 'No, I couldn't,' he said. 'You see, you hadn't told me your
names, and it was pretty dark that night and somehow or other I just
couldn't seem to recall what you looked like! Mr. Fernald sounded
considerably disappointed and like he didn't quite believe me, but that
can't be helped.' Say, fellows, I wanted to hug him! Oror buy an egg
or something! Honest, I did! He's all right, what?
He's a corker! said Tom, sighing with relief. You don't suppose
Corrigan or any of the others there that night would remember us, do
Not likely. Mr. Brady didn't think so, anyway.
Then it's all to the merry! cried Tom. Gee, but that's a load off
Off your what? asked Tim curiously.
It's all right if Harry Walton keeps quiet, said Don. If he gets
If he does I'll beat him up, said Tim earnestly. But he won't. He
wouldn't be such a snip, in the first place, and he wouldn't dare to in
N-no, I guess not, agreed Don. But his tone didn't hold much
conviction. Only, if
I'll tell you fellows one thing, announced Tom vehemently.
Don't strain yourself, advised Tim.
And that, continued the other, scowling at the interruption, is
that no one gets me into any more scrapes until after the Claflin
Gee, to hear you talk, exclaimed Tim indignantly, anyone would
think we'd tied you up with a rope and forcibly abducted you! Who's
idea was it, anyway, to go to the village that night?
Yours, if you want to know! I don't say I didn't go along willingly
enough, Tim. What I do say isnever again! Anyway, he added,
not until football's over!
Morgan's School, which had defeated Brimfield the year before, 6 to
3, came and departed. Brimfield took the visitor's measure this time,
and, although she only scored one touchdown and failed to kick goal,
the contest was far less close and interesting than the score would
suggest. Brimfield played the opponents to a standstill in the first
half and scored just before the end of it. In the third quarter Coach
Robey began substituting and when the last ten minutes started the
Maroon-and-Grey had only three first-string fellows in her line-up. The
substitutes played good football and, while not able to push the
pigskin across Morgan's line, twice reached her fifteen yards and twice
tried and narrowly missed a goal from the field.
On the whole it could not be said that Brimfield's performance that
blustery Saturday afternoon was impressive, for she was frequently
caught napping on the defensive, showed periods of apathy and did more
fumbling, none of which resulted disastrously, than she should have.
Tim Otis had a remarkably good day and was undeniably the best man in
the backfield for the home team. Carmine played a heady, snappy game,
and Don, who played the most of three quarters at left guard, conducted
himself very well. Don's work was never of the spectacular sort, but at
his best he was a steady and thoroughly reliable lineman and very
effective on defence. He was still slow in getting into plays, a fact
which made him of less value than Joe Gafferty on attack. Even Harry
Walton showed up better than Don when Brimfield had the ball. But
neither Gafferty nor Walton was as strong on defence as Don.
Walton had been very earnestly striving all the week to capture the
guard position, but the fact that Don had been played through most of
the Morgan's game indicated that the latter was as yet a slight
favourite in Coach Robey's estimation. During the week succeeding the
Morgan's game the two rivals kept at it nip and tuck, and their
team-mates looked on with interest. At practice Mr. Robey showed no
favour to either, and each came in for his full share of criticism, but
when, the next Saturday, the team journeyed away from home and played
Cherry Valley, it was again Don who started the game between Thayer and
Thursby and who remained in the line-up until the fourth period, by
which time Brimfield had piled up the very satisfactory score of
twenty-six points. In the final five minutes Cherry Valley managed to
fool the visitors and get a forward pass off for a gain that placed the
ball on Brimfield's fourteen yards, and from there her drop-kicker put
the pigskin over the cross-bar and tallied three points. The game was
uninteresting unless one was a partisan, and even then there were few
thrills. Brimfield played considerably better than in the Morgan's game
and emerged with no more important damages than a wrenched ankle, which
fell to the share of Martin, who had taken Rollins's place in the last
Joe Gafferty came back to practice the following Monday, but was
missing again a day or two later, and the school heard with some dismay
that Joe's parents had written to Mr. Fernald and forbidden Joe to play
any more football that year. Joe was inconsolable and went around for
the next week or so looking like a lost soul. After that he accepted
the situation and helped Mr. Boutelle coach the second. That second had
by that time been shaken together into a very capable and
smooth-running team, a team which was giving the first more and more
trouble every day. Coach Robey had again levied on it for a player,
taking Merton to the first when Gafferty was lost to him, and again Mr.
Boutelle growled and protested and, finally, philosophically shrugged
his shoulders. A week later Merton was released to the second once more
and Pryme, who had been playing at right guard as a substitute for Tom
Hall, was tried out on the other side of centre with good results.
Pryme's advent as a contender for the left guard position complicated
the battle between Don and Harry Walton, and until after the Southby
game the trio of candidates indulged in a three-cornered struggle that
was quite pretty to watch.
Unfortunately for Don, that struggle for supremacy threatened to
affect his class standing, for it occupied so much of his thought that
there was little left for study. When, however, the office dropped a
hint and Mr. Daley presented an ultimatum, Don realised that he was
taking football far too seriously, and, being a rather level-headed
youth, he mended his ways. He expected, as a result, to find himself
left behind in the race with Walton and Pryme, but, oddly enough, his
game was in no degree affected so far as he could determine. In fact,
within a few days the situation was simplified by the practical
elimination of Pryme as a contender. This happened when, just before
the Southby game, Tom Hall, together with eight other members of Mr.
Moller's physics class went on probation, and Pryme was needed at right
I have mentioned Tom's probation very casually, quite as if it was a
matter of slight importance, but you may be sure that the school viewed
it in no such way. Coming as it did little more than a fortnight before
the big game, it was looked on as a dire catastrophe, no more and no
less; and the school, which had laughed and chuckled over the incident
which had caused the catastrophe, and applauded the participants in it,
promptly turned their thumbs down when the effect became known and
indignantly dubbed the affair silly kid's play and blamed Tom very
heartily. How much of the blame he really deserved you shall judge for
yourself, but the affair merits a chapter of its own.
CHAPTER XII. THE JOKE ON MR. MOLLER
AMY BYRD started it.
Or, perhaps, in the last analysis, Mr. Moller began it himself. Mr.
Moller's first name was Caleb, a fact which the school was quick to
seize on. At first he was just Caleb, then Caleb the Conqueror,
and, finally, The Conqueror. The Conqueror part of it was added in
recognition of Mr. Moller's habit of attiring himself for the class
room as for an afternoon tea. He was a new member of the faculty that
fall and Brimfield required more than the few weeks which had elapsed
since his advent to grow accustomed to his grandeur of apparel. Mr.
Caleb Moller was a good-looking, in fact quite a handsome young man of
twenty-five or six, well-built, tall and the proud possessor of a
carefully trimmed moustache and Vandyke beard, the latter probably
cultivated in the endeavour to add to his apparent age. He affected
light grey trousers, fancy waistcoats of inoffensive shades, a frock
coat, grey gaiters and patent leather shoes. His scarf was always
pierced with a small black pearl pin. There's no denying that Mr.
Moller knew how to dress or that the effect was pleasing. But Brimfield
wasn't educated to such magnificence and Brimfield gasped loudly the
first time Mr. Moller burst on its sight. Afterward it laughed until
the novelty began to wear off. Mr. Moller was a capable instructor and
a likeable man, although it took Brimfield all of the first term to
discover the latter fact owing to the master's dignified aloofness.
Being but a scant eight years the senior of some of his pupils, he
perhaps felt it necessary to emphasise his dignity a little. By the
last of October, however, the school had accepted Mr. Moller and was,
possibly, secretly a little proud to have for a member of its faculty
one who possessed such excellent taste in the matter of attire. He was
universally voted a swell dresser, and not a few of the older fellows
set themselves to a modest emulation of his style. There remained,
however, many unregenerate youths who continued to poke fun at The
Conqueror, and of these was Amy Byrd.
It isn't beyond the bounds of reason that jealousy may have had
something to do with Amy's attitude, for Amy was a swell dresser
himself and had a fine eye for effects of colour. Amy's combinations of
lavender or dull rose or pearl-grey shirts, socks and ties were
recognised masterpieces of sartorial achievement. The trouble with Amy
was that when the tennis season was over he had nothing to interest
himself in aside from maintaining a fairly satisfactory standing in
class, and I'm sorry to say that Amy didn't find the latter undertaking
wildly exciting. He was, therefore, an excellent subject for the
mischief microbe, and the mischief microbe had long since discovered
the fact. Usually Amy's escapades were harmless enough; for that
matter, the present one was never intended to lead to any such
unfortunate results as actually attended it; and in justice to Amy it
should be distinctly stated that he would never have gone into the
affair had he foreseen the end of it. But he couldn't see any further
into the future than you or I, and soyes, on the whole, I think it
may be fairly said that Amy Byrd started it.
It was on a Tuesday, what time Amy should have been deep in study,
that Clint Thayer, across the table, had his attention wrested from his
book by the sound of deep, mirthful chuckles. He glanced over
questioningly. Amy continued to chuckle until, being bidden to share
the joke or shut up, he took Clint into his confidence. Clint was
forced to chuckle some himself when he had heard Amy through, but the
chuckles were followed by earnest efforts to dissuade his friend from
his proposed scheme.
He won't stand for it, Amy, Clint protested. He will report the
lot of you to Josh and you'll be in a peck of trouble. It would be
terribly funny, all right, but you'd better not try it.
Funny! My friend, it would be excruciating! And I certainly am
going to have a stab at it. Let's see who will go into it. Steve
Edwardsno, Steve wouldn't, of course. Tom Hall will, I'll bet. And
Roy Draper and Harry Wescott, probably. We ought to get as many of the
fellows as we can. I wish you were in that class, Clint.
I don't. You're a chump to try such a trick, Amy. You'll get pro
for sure. Maybe worse. I don't believe Moller can take a joke; he's too
Oh, rot! He will take it all right. Anyway, what kick can he have?
We fellows have just as much right to
You'll wish you hadn't, said Clint. See if you don't!
Clint's prophecy proved true, and Amy did wish he hadn't, but that
was some days later, and just now he was far too absorbed in planning
his little joke to trouble himself about what might happen as a result.
As soon as study hour was over he departed precipitately from Number
14. Torrence and Clint saw no more of him until bedtime. Then his
questions met only with more chuckles and evasion.
The result did not appear until two days later, which brings our
tale to the forenoon of that unlucky Thursday preceeding the Southby
contest. Mr. Moller's class in Physics 2 met at eleven o'clock that
morning. Physics was an elective course with the Fifth Form and a
popular one, many of the fellows taking it only to fill out their
necessary eighteen hours a week. Mr. Moller, attired as usual with
artistic nicety, sat in his swivel chair, facing the windows, and
drummed softly on the top of the desk with immaculate finger-tips and
waited for the class to assemble.
Had he been observing the arriving students instead of the tree-tops
outside he might have noticed the peculiar fact that this morning, as
though by common consent, the students were avoiding the first two rows
of seats nearest the platform. But he didn't notice it. In fact, he
didn't turn his head until the gong in the lower hall struck and,
simultaneously, there sounded in the room the carefully-timed tread of
many feet. Then The Conqueror swung around in his chair, felt for the
black ribbon which held his tortoise shell glasses and, in the act of
lifting the glasses to his well-shaped nose, paused and stared.
Down the side aisle of the room, keeping step, grave of mien, walked
nine boys led by the sober-countenanced Amy Byrd. Each was attired in
as near an approach to Mr. Moller's style as had been possible with the
wardrobes at command. Not allin fact, only twowore frock coats, and
not all had been able to supply themselves with light grey trousers,
but the substitutions were very effective, and in no case was a fancy
waistcoat wanting. Wing collars encircled every throat, grey silk
scarves were tied with careful precision, stick-pins were at the proper
careless tilt, spats, some grey, some tan, some black, covered each
ankle, a handkerchief protruded a virgin corner from every right sleeve
and over every vest dangled a black silk ribbon. That only a few of
them ended in glasses was merely because the supply of those aids to
vision had proved inadequate to the demand. Soberly and amidst an
appalling silence the nine exquisites paced to the front of the room
and disposed themselves in the first two rows.
Mr. Moller, his face extremely red, watched without word or motion.
The rest of the class, their countenances too showing an unnatural
ruddiness, likewise maintained silence and immobility until the last of
the nine had shuffled his feet into place. Then there burst upon the
stillness a snigger which, faint as it was, sounded startlingly loud.
Whereupon pent up emotions broke loose and a burst of laughter went up
that shook the windows.
It seemed for a minute that that laughter would never stop. Fellows
rolled in their seats and beat futilely on the arms of their chairs,
gasping for breath and sobriety. And through it all Mr. Moller stared
in a sort of dazed amazement. And then, when the laughter had somewhat
abated, he arose, one hand on the desk and the other agitatedly
fingering his black ribbon, and the colour poured out of his cheeks,
leaving them strangely pallid. And Amy, furtively studying him, knew
that Clint had been right, that Mr. Moller couldn't take a joke, or, in
any event, had no intention of taking this one. Amy wasn't frightened
for himself, in fact he wasn't frightened at all, but he did experience
a twinge of regret for the others whom he had led into the affair. Then
Mr. Moller was speaking and Amy forgot regrets and listened.
I am going to give you young gentlemenwas it imagination on
Amy's part or had the instructor placed the least bit of emphasis on
the last wordtwo minutes more in which to recover from your
merriment. At the end of that time I shall expect you to be quiet and
orderly and ready to begin this recitation. He drew his watch from his
pocket and laid it on the desk. So that you may enjoy thisthis
brilliant jest to the full, I'll ask the nine young gentleman in the
front rows to stand up and face you. If you please, Hall, Stearns,
Draper, Fanning, Byrd
It was several seconds before this request was responded to. Then
Amy arose and, one by one, the others followed and faced the room. Amy
managed to retain his expression of calm innocence, but the others were
ill at ease and many faces looked very sheepish.
Now, then, announced Mr. Moller quietly. Begin, please. You have
A dismal silence ensued, a silence broken at intervals by a nervous
cough or the embarrassed shuffling of feet. Mr. Moller calmly divided
his attention between the class and the watch. Surely never had one
hundred and twenty seconds ticked themselves away so slowly. There was
a noticeable disinclination on the part of the students to meet the
gaze of the instructor, nor did they seem any more eager to view the
various and generally painful emotions expressed on the countenances of
the nine. At last Mr. Moller took up his watch and returned it with its
dangling fob to his pocket, and as he did so some thirty sighs of
relief sounded in the stillness.
Time's up, announced the instructor. Be seated, young gentlemen.
Thank you very much. The nine sank gratefully into their chairs. I am
sure that we have all enjoyed your joke vastly. You must pardon me if,
just at first, I seemed to miss the humour of it. I can assure you that
I am now quitequite sympathique. We are told that imitation is
the sincerest flattery, and I accept the compliment in the spirit in
which you have tendered it. Again I thank you.
Mr. Moller bowed gravely and sat down.
Glances, furtive and incredulous, passed from boy to boy. Amy heaved
a sigh of relief. After all, then, Mr. Moller could take a joke! And
for the first time since the inception of the brilliant idea Amy felt
an emotion very much like regret! And then the recitation began.
That would have ended the episode had not Chance taken a hand in
affairs. Mr. Fernald very seldom visited a class room during
recitations. One could count such occurrences on one hand and the
result would have sufficed for the school year. And yet today, for some
reason never apparent to the boys, Mr. Fernald happened in.
Harry Westcott was holding forth when the principal's tread caught
his attention. Westcott turned his head, saw and instantly stopped.
Proceed, Westcott, said Mr. Fernald.
Westcott continued, stammeringly and much at random. Mr. Fernald
quietly walked up the aisle to the platform. Mr. Moller arose and for a
moment the two spoke in low tones. Then the principal nodded, smiled
and turned to retrace his steps. As he did so his smiling regard fell
upon the occupants of the two front rows. A look of puzzlement banished
the smile. Bewilderment followed that. Westcott faltered and stopped
altogether. A horrible silence ensued. Then Mr. Fernald turned an
inquiring look upon the instructor.
May I ask, he said coldly, what thisthis quaint exhibition is
intended to convey?
Mr. Moller hesitated an instant. Then: I think I can explain it
better, sir, later on, he replied.
Mr. Fernald bowed, again swept the offenders with a glance of
withering contempt and took his departure. Mr. Moller looked troubledly
after him before he turned to Westcott and said kindly: Now, Westcott,
we will go on, if you please.
What passed between principal and instructor later that day was not
known, but the result of the interview appeared the next morning when
Mr. Fernald announced in chapel that because they had seen fit to
publicly insult a member of the faculty he considered it only just to
publicly inform the following students that they were placed on
probation until further notice. Then followed the names of Hall,
Westcott, Byrd, Draper and five others. Mr. Fernald added that but for
the intercession of the faculty member whom they had so vilely
affronted the punishment would have been far heavier.
Nine very depressed youths took their departure from chapel that
morning. To Tom Hall, since the edict meant that he could not play any
more football that season, unless, which was scarcely probable, faculty
relented within a week or so, the blow was far heavier than to any of
the others. Being on probation was never a state to be sought for, but
when one was in his last year at school and had looked forward to
ending his football career in a blaze of glory, probation was just
about as bad as being expelled. In fact, for a day or two Tom almost
wished that Mr. Fernald had selected the latter punishment. What made
things harder to bear was the attitude of coaches and players and the
school at large. After the first shock of surprise and dismay, they had
agreed with remarkable unanimity that Tom had not only played the fool,
but had proved himself a traitor, and they didn't fail to let Tom know
their verdict. For several days he was as nearly ostracised as it was
possible to be, and those days were very unhappy ones for him.
Of course Tom was not utterly deserted. Steve Edwards stood by him
firmly, fought public opinion, narrowly escaped a pitched battle with
the president of the Sixth Form, worried Coach Robey to death with his
demands that that gentler man intercede for Tom at the office and tried
his best all the time to keep Tom's spirits up. Clint and Don and Tim
and a few others remained steadfast, as did Amy, who, blaming himself
bitterly for Tom's fix, had done everything he could do to atone.
Following that edict in chapel, Amy had sought audience with Mr.
Fernald and begged clemency for the others.
You see, sir, Amy had pleaded earnestly, I was the one who
started it. The others would never have gone into it if I hadn't just
simply made them. Why
Mr. Fernald smiled faintly. You're trying to convince me, Byrd,
that boys like Draper and Hall and Stearns and Westcott are so
weak-willed that they allowed you to drag them into this thing against
their better judgment and inclinations?
Yes, sir! At leastperhaps not exactly that, Mr. Fernald, but II
nagged them and dared them, you see, sir, and they didn't like to be
dared and they just did it to shut me up.
It's decent of you, Byrd, to try to assume all the blame, but your
story doesn't carry conviction. Even if it did, I should be sorely
tempted to let the verdict stand, for I should consider boys who were
so easily dragged into mischief badly in need of discipline. I do wish
you'd tell me one thing, Byrd. How could a fellow, a manly, decent
fellow like you, think up such a caddish trick? Wounding another man's
feelings, Byrd, isn't really funny, if you stop to consider it.
I didn't mean to hurt Mr. Moller's feelings, sir, replied Amy
earnestly. WeI thought it would just be aa sort of a good joke to
dress like him, sir, andand get a laugh from the class. I'm sorry. I
guess it was a pretty rotten thing to do, sir. Only I didn't think
about it that way.
I believe that. Since you've been here, Byrd, you've been into more
or less mischief, but I've never known you to be guilty before of
anything in such utterly bad taste. Unfortunately, however, I can't
excuse you because you didn't think. You should have thought.
Yes, sir, agreed Amy eagerly, and I don't expect to be excused,
sir. I only thought that maybe you'd let up on the others if you knew
how it all happened. I thought maybe it would do just as well if you
expelled me, sir, and let the other fellows off easy. Tom Hall
I see. It's Hall who's worrying you, is it? You're afraid Hall's
absence from the team may result disastrously! Possibly it will. If it
does I shall be sorry, but Hall will have to take his medicine just
like the rest of you. Perhaps this will teach you all to think a little
before you act. No, Byrd, I shall have to refuse your offer. Expelling
you would not be disciplining the rest, nor would it be an equitable
division of punishment. The verdict must stand, my boy.
Amy went sorrowfully forth and announced the result to Clint. I
think he might have done what I wanted, he complained a trifle
You're an utter ass, said Clint with unflattering conviction.
What good would it do you to get fired in your last year?
None, but if he'd have let the others off
Do you suppose that the others would have agreed to any such
bargain? They're not kids, even if you try to make them out so. They
went into the thing with their eyes open and are just as much to blame
as you are. They wouldn't let you be the goat, you idiot!
They needn't have known anything about it, Clint. Oh, well, I
suppose there's no use fussing. I don't care about the others. It's Tom
I'm sorry for. And the team, too. Pryme can't fill Tom's shoes, and
we'll get everlastingly walloped, and it'll be my fault, and
Piffle! Tom's a good player, one of the best, but he isn't the
whole team. Pryme will play the position nearly as well. I'm sorry for
Tom, too, but he's the one who will have to do the worrying, I guess.
Now you buck up and quit looking like a kicked cur.
If only the fellows didn't have it in for him the way they have,
mourned Amy. Everyone's down on him and he knows it and he's worried
to death about it. They're a lot of rotters! After the way Tom's worked
on that team ever since he got on it! Why, he's done enough for the
school if he never played another lick at anything! And I'll tell you
another thing. Someone's going to get licked if I hear any more of this
You'll have to lick most of the school then, replied Clint calmly.
Try not to be a bigger chump than nature made you, Amy. You can't
blame the fellows for being a bit sore at Tom. I am myself. Only I
realise that he didn't mean to get into trouble with the office, and
the rest of them don't, I reckon. It'll all blow over in a few days.
Cheer up. A month from now you won't care a whoop.
If we're beaten by Claflin I'll get out of school, answered Amy
All right, son, but don't begin to pack your trunk yet. We won't
CHAPTER XIII. SOUTHBY YIELDS
THE game with Southby Academy that week was played away from home.
As a general thing Southby was not a formidable opponent and last
year's contest had resulted in a 17 to 3 win for Brimfield. But this
Fall Southby had been piling up larger scores against her opponents and
her stock had risen. Consequently Brimfield, being deprived of Tom
Hall's services at right guard and of Rollins's at full-back, journeyed
off that morning more than a little doubtful of the result of the
coming conflict. Most of the school went along, since Southby was
easily reached by trolley and at a small outlay for fares, and
Brimfield was pretty well deserted by one o'clock. Out of some one
hundred and eighty students a scant forty remained behind, and of that
two-score we can guess who nine were!
The game started with Edwards at left end for Brimfield, Thayer at
left tackle, Gilbert at left guard, Peters at centre, Pryme at right
guard, Sturges at right tackle, Holt at right end, Carmine at quarter,
St. Clair at left half, Otis at right half and Martin at full-back.
Later on, toward the end of the second quarter, Thursby went in at
centre, and in the fourth period several substitutes had their chances,
amongst them Harry Walton.
Walton had begun to realise that he was playing a losing game. Since
Pryme had been shifted back to the right side of the line Don Gilbert
had come more than ever to the fore and Harry had spent a deal more
time with the substitute squad in practice and on the bench during
scrimmage than he approved of. Harry had a very special reason for
wanting to win that left guard position and to play in it during the
Claflin game, and this afternoon, sitting on the side line with a dozen
other blanketed substitutes and enviously watching Don in the coveted
place, his brain evolved a plan that promised so well that by the time
the second period had started he was looking almost cheerful. And that
is saying a good deal, since Harry Walton's countenance very seldom
Southby showed her mettle within five minutes of the kick-off, when,
getting the ball on a fumble on her forty-five yard line, she tore off
thirty-three yards on a complicated double-pass play and then, ripped
another down from the astonished adversary. On the Maroon-and-Grey's
nine yards, however, her advance was halted, and after two downs had
resulted in a loss, she sent her kicker back and placed a neat drop
over the cross-bars, scoring three points before the stop-watch had
ticked off six minutes of playing time.
That score was apparently just what Brimfield needed to bring her to
her senses, for the rest of the period was marked by brilliant
defensive work on her part, followed toward the end of the twelve
minutes by some equally good attacks. When the teams changed places
Brimfield had the pigskin on Southby's thirty-eight yards with four to
go on third down. A forward pass, Carmine to St. Clair, produced three
of the required four and Martin slipped through between left guard and
tackle for the rest. After that ten well-selected plays took the ball
to the sixteen yards. But there Southby rallied, and Steve Edwards,
dropping back as if to kick, tore off five more around the left end. A
touchdown seemed imminent now, and the hundred or so Brimfield rooters
shouted and cheered madly enough. But two plunges at the right of the
Southby line were stopped for scant gain and, with Martin back, a
forward pass to Holt missed that youth and fell plump into the hands of
a Southby end, and it was Southby's ball on her eight yards when the
dust of battle had cleared away.
That was Brimfield's last chance to score in that half and when the
whistle sounded Southby had the pigskin once more in her adversary's
So far the teams had proved evenly matched in all departments, with
a possible slight superiority in punting belonging to the visitors. St.
Clair and Martin divided the punting between them and together they
managed to outmatch the efforts of the Southby kicker. In the line both
teams were excellent on defence, and both showed similar weakness in
attack. In Tom Hall's place Pryme had worked hard and had, on the
whole, done all that was expected of him. But he wasn't Tom Hall, and
no amount of coaching would make him Tom's equal that Fall. Pryme
lacked two factors: weight and, more especially, experience. Southby
had made some good gains through him in the first half and would have
made more had not Peters and Sturges helped him valiantly. As to the
backfields, a disinterested spectator would have liked the Brimfield
players a bit the better, less perhaps for what they actually
accomplished that day than for what they promised. Even with Rollins
out, the Maroon-and-Grey backs showed a fine and consistent solidarity
that was lacking in the opponents. Coach Robey was a believer in
team-play as opposed to the exploitation of stars, while Southby, with
a remarkable half-back in the person of a blonde-haired youth named
Elliston, had built her backfield about one man. As a consequence, when
Elliston was smothered, as was frequently the case, since Southby's
opponents naturally played for him all the time, the play was stopped.
Today Captain Edwards had displayed an almost uncanny ability to get
Elliston when the play was in his direction, and so far the
blonde-haired star had failed to distinguish himself save in that one
thirty-three-yard gambol at the beginning of the contest. What might
happen later was problematical, but so far Brimfield had solved
Elliston fairly well.
A guard seldom has an opportunity to pose in the limelight, and so
you are not to hear that Don pulled off any brilliant feats that
afternoon. What he did do was to very thoroughly vindicate Mr. Robey's
selection of him for Gafferty's position by giving an excellent
impersonation of a concrete block on defence and by doing rather better
than he had ever done before when his side had the ball. Don had
actually speeded up considerably, much as Tim had assured him he could,
and while he was still by no means the snappiest man in the line, nor
was ever likely to be, he was seldom far behind his fellows. For that
matter the whole line of forwards was still much slower than Mr. Robey
wanted them at that time of year, and Don showed up not badly in
comparison. After all, what is needed in a guard is, first and
foremost, fighting spirit, and Don had that. If he was a bit slower to
sense a play, a little later in getting into it, at least when he did
start he started hard and tackled hard and always played it safe. In
the old days when a guard had only his small territory between centre
and tackle to cover, Don would have been an ideal player for the
position, but now, when a guard's duties are to free-lance, so to
speak, from one end of the line to the other and to get into the play
no matter where it comes, Don's qualifications were more limited. A
guard in these amazing times is soldier and sailor too, and Don, who
liked to deal with one idea at a time, found it a bit confusing to have
to grapple with a half-dozen!
Brimfield returned to the battle at the beginning of the second half
highly resolved to take no more fooling from her opponent. Fortune
ordered it that the south goal should fall to her portion and that a
faint but dependable breeze should spring up between the halves. That
breeze changed Coach Robey's plans, and the team went on with
instructions to kick its way to within scoring distance and then batter
through the line at any cost. And so the spectators were treated to a
very pretty punting exhibition by both teams, for, wisely or unwisely,
Southby accepted the challenge and punted almost as often as her
adversary. That third period supplied many thrills but no scoring, for
although Brimfield did manage to get the ball on Southby's
twenty-five-yard line when a back fumbled, the advantage ended there.
Two rushes failed, a forward pass grounded and when St. Clair tried to
skirt his own left end he was pulled down just short of his distance
and Southby soon punted out of danger.
When time was called both teams made several substitutions. Don
yielded his place to Harry Walton, Crewe went in at right tackle and
McPhee took Carmine's position at quarter. With the advantage of the
wind no longer hers, Brimfield abandoned the kicking game and used her
backfield for all it was worth. From the middle of the field to
Southby's thirty yards she went without much difficulty, St. Clair,
Martin and Tim Otis carrying the ball for short but consistent gains.
But at the thirty Southby braced and captured the pigskin on downs by a
matter of inches. It was then that Elliston repeated. Following two
attempts at Pryme's position, which yielded a scant four yards,
Elliston got away around Steve Edwards's end and, with some good
interference for the first ten or twelve yards, passed the whole field
except McPhee and was only brought down by that player after he had run
to Brimfield's twenty-six yards.
Southby's adherents cheered wildly and demanded a touchdown, and it
looked for awhile as though their team was to give them what they asked
for. Southby twice poked a back through the centre of the
maroon-and-grey line and then tore off ten yards around Clint Thayer,
Steve Edwards being put wholly out of the play. Then, however,
Brimfield dug her cleats and held the enemy, giving a very heartening
exhibition of stubborn defence, and again Southby decided that half a
loaf was better than none and tried a field-goal. She ought never to
have got it, for the left side of her line was torn to ribbons by the
desperate defenders. But she did, nevertheless, the ball in some
miraculous manner slipping through the upstretched hands and leaping
bodies and just topping the bar.
Those three added points seemed to spell defeat for Brimfield, and
many of her supporters in the stand conceded the victory to Southby
then and there. But the team refused to view the matter in that light
and came back fighting hard. With only some seven minutes of the twelve
left, McPhee opened the line when Southby had finally been forced to
punt from her twelve yards and St. Clair had caught on his forty-five,
and started a series of direct-pass plays that, coming as they did on
the heels of an afternoon of close-formation plays, confused the enemy
until the ball had been planted near her thirty-five yards. Brimfield
fought desperately then, closing her line again and sending Edwards off
on an end-around run that took the pigskin eight yards nearer the last
It was then that St. Clair really showed what was in him. Four times
he took the ball and four times he plunged, squirming, fighting,
through the Southby centre and, with the Brimfield shouts cheering him
on, put the leather down at last on Southby's eighteen. Otis got three
off left tackle and McPhee tried the same end for no gain. Martin went
back and, faking a kick, threw forward to Edwards, who romped to the
nine yards before he was smothered. It was fourth down then, with less
than a yard to go, and St. Clair was called on. A delayed-pass did the
business and Southby was digging her toes into her seven yards. Martin
slid off right tackle for two, bringing the ball nearly in front of
goal, and the defenders again fell back.
Carmine was sent in again for McPhee and Lawton took Pryme's place.
Carmine evidently brought instructions, for Captain Edwards fell back
to kicking position after the conference, and the ball was passed to
him. But with only five to go and three downs to do it in a drop-kick
was not likely, especially as three points would still leave Brimfield
beaten, and so Southby disregarded the bluff. But if a kick was out of
the question a forward pass was not, and it was a forward pass that
Southby set herself for. And so, with her ends drawn out and her backs
spread, the touchdown came easily. For Steve faked a throw to the
right, where Holt apparently waited, and then dashed straight ahead,
the ball against his ribs, his head down and his feet flying, struck
the hastily-formed massing of Southby's centre like a battering ram and
literally tore his way through until, when he was at last pulled down,
he was five yards over the line!
Since Brimfield needed that goal badly, Rollins, in spite of
bandages, was sent in for Martin, and, when Carmine had canted the ball
to his liking, very calmly put it squarely between the uprights above
The remaining minute and a half of play brought no results and
Brimfield trotted off victor by the narrow margin of one point, while
her adherents flowed across the field cheering and flaunting their
banners in triumph.
CHAPTER XIV. WALTON WRITES A NOTE
THE Southby game was played on the sixth of November, a fortnight
before the final contest with Claflin School, and practically marked
the end of the preparatory season. Brimfield would meet her blue-legged
rival with what plays she had already learned and the time for
instruction was passed. The remaining two weeks, which held but ten
playing days, would be devoted to perfecting plays already known, to
polishing off the rough angles of attack and defence and to learning a
new set of signals as a matter of precaution. Those ten days were
expected to work a big improvement in the team. Whether they would or
not remained to be seen.
On the whole, Brimfield had passed through a successful season. She
had played seven games, of which she had lost one, won five and tied
one. Next week's adversary, Chambers, would in all likelihood supply a
sixth victory, in which case the Maroon-and-Grey would face Claflin
with a nearly clean slate. Claflin, on her part, had hung up a rather
peculiar record that Fall. She had played one more game than Brimfield,
had won four, lost one and tied three. She had started out strongly,
had had a slump in mid-season and was now, from all evidence at hand,
recovering finely. On comparative scores there was little to choose
between the rivals. If any perceptible advantage belonged to Brimfield
it was only because she had maintained a steadier pace.
There was a lay-off for most of the first-string players on Monday,
a fact which gave Harry Walton a chance to conduct himself very capably
at left guard during the four ten-minute periods of scrimmage with the
second. Don didn't go near the field that afternoon and so was saved
any of the uneasiness which the sight of Walton's performance might
have caused him. Rollins got back for a short workout and showed few
signs of his injury. The second team, profiting by some scouting done
by Coach Boutelle and Joe Gafferty on Saturday, tried out the Claflin
formation and such Claflin plays as had been fathomed against the first
team and made some good gains thereby until the second-string players
solved them. On Tuesday Harry Walton disgruntledly found himself again
relegated to the bench during most of the practice game and saw Don
open holes in the second team's line in a style that more than once
brought commendation from Coach Robey. Walton glowered from the bench
until Cotter disgustedly asked if he felt sick. Whereupon Walton
grinned and Cotter, with a sigh, begged him to scowl again!
The first team presented its full strength that afternoon, and Mr.
Boutelle's Claflin plays made little headway. With Rollins back in
place, the first team scored almost at will during three periods, and
even after an entirely new backfield was put in it continued to smash
the second up very effectually. Mr. Boutelle scolded and raved and
threatened, but all to scant purpose. The first got its plays off very
smoothly, played low and hard and, for once, played together. The final
score that day was the biggest ever piled up in a practice contest, 30
to 3. Had Mr. Robey allowed Rollins to try goals from touchdowns it
would have been several points larger.
Tom Hall had so far carefully avoided the field, but today he
appeared there and sat in the stand with Roy Draper and tried his best
to be cheerful. But his best wasn't very good. Already the feeling
against him had largely subsided, and the school, realising, perhaps,
that Tom's loss to the team did not necessarily spell defeat for it,
was inclined to be sorry for him. But Tom didn't realise that, since he
still kept to himself and was suspicious of advances. He hadn't
quarrelled with the school's verdict, but it had hurt him and, as he
didn't like being hurt any more than most of us, he avoided the chance
of it. In those days he stuck pretty close to his room, partly because
the office required it and partly because he had no heart for mingling
with his fellows. Roy Draper had to plead long and earnestly that
afternoon to get him to the gridiron. As badly as he felt about losing
his place on the team, however, Tom didn't begrudge Pryme his good
fortune, and he was honestly pleased to see that the latter, in spite
of his deficiencies, would doubtless fill the right guard position very
capably in the Claflin game. He studied Pryme's work attentively that
afternoon, criticised it and praised it and showed no trace of
He will do all right, he confided to Roy. Crewe will help him a
lot, and so will Thursby. If he could use his hands a bit better he'd
be fine. He holds himself nicely, doesn't he? On his toes all the time.
I hate to see a lineman play flat-footed. That's one trouble with Don
Gilbert. Don's doing a heap better than he did last year, though. I
guess he's every bit as good as Joe Gafferty. He's a regular whale on
defence, isn't he? He's a queer chap, Don, but a mighty nice one.
Don, replied Roy in his somewhat didactic manner, is the sort of
fellow I'd pick out to be cast away on a desert island with. He isn't
so scintillant, you know, but he'd wear forever.
That's him to a T. Tom chuckled. They tell me Harry Walton is as
mad as a hatter because Don butted in and grabbed that position away
from him. Can't say I altogether blame him, either. That is, there's no
use getting mad about it, but it is tough luck. Harry isn't a half-bad
If he can play good football, answered Roy, I'm glad to know it.
I've always wondered what Walton was for.
Tom laughed. Oh, he isn't so bad, I guess. His manner's against
I've noticed it, said Roy drily. Also his looks and his remarks
and a number of other things. Larry Jones says he comes from the best
sort of family.
A fellow's family doesn't prove anything, I guess.
Evidently not. There's the whistle. Let's go back. Presently Roy
added, as they headed for Torrence: I can quite understand why
Walton's family sent him to school.
Why they sent him to school? repeated Tom questioningly.
Yes, it was to get rid of him.
You've certainly got your little hammer with you, said Tom, with a
smile. What's Harry done to you?
Not a thing. I wouldn't advise him to, either. I just don't like
him, Tom. Can't stand being in the same room with him. Well, see you
later, old chap. And, say, think over what I said aboutyou know.
Oh, that's all right, replied Tom, with a shrug of his broad
shoulders. Fellows can think what they like about me. I don't blame
them. But you can't expect me to like it!
I know, Tom, but they don't feel that way now. It was just for a
day or two. I've heard a lot of fellows say lately that it's nonsense
blaming you, Tom. So come out of your shell, like a sensible chap, and
show that you don't feel anyany ill-will.
Well, I don't, I suppose. As for coming out of my shell, I'll be
crawling out pretty soon. Don't bother about me, Roy. I'm feeling fine.
Perhaps what Tom really meant was that he was feeling a whole lot
better than he had a few days before, for he certainly had not become
quite reconciled to the loss of his position with the team. He was
getting used to the idea, but he wasn't happy over it. When he squarely
faced the fact that when Claflin came trotting onto the field on the
twentieth he would be sitting in the grand stand instead of being out
there in togs, his heart sank miserably and he hardly knew whether he
wanted to kick something or get off in a corner and cry. At such
moments the question of whether his school fellows liked him or
detested him bothered little. If he could only play against Claflin, he
assured himself, the school might hate him to its heart's content!
Going on to Billings and his room, he considered what Roy had told
him of the altered sentiment toward him, but somehow he didn't seem to
care so much today. Watching practice had brought back the smart, and
being liked or disliked seemed a little thing beside the bigger
trouble. Still, he thought, if Roy was right perhaps he had better meet
fellows half-way. There was no use in being a grouch. As a starter and
in order to test the accuracy of Roy's statement, he decided that he
would drop in on Carl Bennett, who roomed in Number 3. Bennett was a
chap he rather respected and, while they had never been very close
friends, Tom had seen a good deal of the other during the Fall. But
Bennett was not in and Tom was making his way back to the stairs when
the door of Number 6 opened and Harry Walton came out. Perhaps it was
Roy's dressing-down of that youth that prompted Tom to be more decent
to him than usual. At all events, Tom stopped and hailed him and they
conversed together on their way up the stairs. It wasn't until later
that Tom, recalling Harry's grudge against Don, wondered what had taken
him to the latter's room. Then he concluded that Harry had probably
been calling on Tim, and thought no more of it. Just now he asked Harry
how he was getting on with the team and was a little puzzled when Harry
replied: All right, I guess. Of course, Gilbert's got the call right
now, but I'm going to beat him out before the big game. Did you see
Yes. You fellows put up a great game, Harry.
I didn't get into it for more than ten minutes. Robey's playing Don
Gilbert for all he knows. Harry laughed disagreeably. Robey's a bit
of a fox.
How's that! Tom inquired.
Oh, he's sort of keeping me guessing, you see. Thinks I'll get
worried and dig harder.
Huh. I see. You seem mighty certain of that place, Harry.
Sure, I'm certain. You just wait and see, old top. Harry nodded
and entered his room across the hall, leaving Tom a trifle more
sympathetic toward Roy's estimation of him. Walton certainly did have a
disagreeable manner, he reflected.
As a matter of fact, Harry hadn't been calling on anyone in Number 6
for the simple reason that he had found no one at home. Moreover, he
had expected to find no one, for he had left Tim at the gymnasium and
seen Don and Harry Westcott sitting in the window of the latter's room
in Torrence as he passed. What he had done was leave a hastily scrawled
note for Don on the table in there, a note which Don discovered an hour
later and which at once puzzled and disturbed him.
Come up and see me after supper will you, the note read, with a
superb disdain of punctuation, I want to see you. Important. H.
What's he want to see you about? asked Tim when Don tossed the
note to him to read.
I don't know. Don frowned thoughtfully.
I hope he isn't going to make trouble about that old business.
What old business? asked Tim carelessly, more interested in a set
of bruised knuckles than anything else just then.
Why, you know Harry saw us climbing in the window that night.
Saw us climbWell, what of it? That was years ago. Why should he
want to make trouble about that? And how could he do it? I'd like to
see him start anything with me.
Oh, well, I just happened to think of that.
More likely he's going to ask you to break a leg or something so he
can get your place, chuckled Tim. Don't you do it, Don, if he does.
It doesn't pay to be too obliging. Ready for eats?
In a minute. Don dropped the note and began his toilet, but he
didn't speak again until they were on their way down the stairs. Then:
If it should be that, he remarked, I wouldn't know whether to punch
his head or laugh at him.
Don't take any chances, advised Tim grimly. Punch his head.
Better still, bring the glad tidings to me and let me do it. Why, if
that idiot threatened to open his face about us I'd give him such a
walloping that his own folks wouldn't recognise the remnants! Gee, but
I'm hungry tonight! Toddle along faster and let's get there before
Rollins and Holt and the rest swipe all the grub.
CHAPTER XV. A PROPOSITION
DON sought Harry Walton's room soon after supper was over and found
neither Harry nor his room-mate, Jim Rose, at home. He lighted the
droplight, found a magazine several months old and sat down to wait. He
had, however, scarcely got into a story before Harry appeared.
Hello, greeted the latter. Sorry I was late. Had to stop at the
library for a book. In proof of it he tossed a volume to the table. I
asked you to come up here, Gilbert, because I have a proposition to
make and I thought you wouldn't want anyone around. Harry seated
himself, took one knee into his clasped hands and smiled at the
visitor. It was a peculiarly unattractive smile, Don decided.
Proposition? Don frowned perplexedly. What sort of a proposition,
Well, I'll tell you. It's like this, Gilbert. You see, old man, you
and I are fighting like the mischief for the left guard position and so
far it's about nip-and-tuck, isn't it?
Don viewed the speaker with some surprise. Is it? he asked. I
thought I had rather the best of it, Walton.
Harry smiled and shrugged. That's only Robey's foxiness. I'm not
saying he might not pick you for the place in the end, of course, but I
stand just as good a show. Robey doesn't like to show his hand. He
likes to keep you guessing. I'm willing to bet that if nothing happened
he'd drop you next week and stick me in there. Of course you might get
in for awhile in the Claflin game, if I got hurt, but I wouldn't advise
you to bank much on that because I'm rather lucky about not getting
hurt. Honestly, Gilbert, I don't really think you've got much of a
chance of final selection.
Don observed his host's countenance with some bewilderment. Well,
he said at last, that may be so or not. What is it you want me to do?
I'll tell you. Harry tried hard to look ingenuous, but only
succeeded in grinning like a catfish. It's this way. My folks are
coming up for the Claflin game; father and mother and kid brother, you
know. Well, naturally, I'd like to have them see me play. They think
I'm going to, of course, because I've mentioned it once or twice in my
letters. I'd feel pretty cheap if they came up here and watched me
sitting on the bench all through the game. See what I mean, old man?
Don nodded and waited.
Well, so I thought that as your chance is pretty slim anyway maybe
you wouldn't mind dropping out. I wouldn't ask you to if I really
thought you had much chance, you know, Gilbert.
Oh! That's it? Well, I'm sorry if you're folks are going to be
disappointed, Walton, but I don't feel quite like playing the goat on
that account. You might just write them and sort of prepare them for
the shock, mightn't you? Tell them there's a bare chance that you won't
get into the fracas, you know. I would. It would soften the blow for
Walton scowled. Don't be funny, he said shortly. I've given you
the chance to drop out gracefully, Gilbert, and you're a fool not to
But why should I drop out! Don't you suppose I want to play in the
Claflin game just as much as you do?
Perhaps you do, but you won't play in it any way you figure it. If
you don't quit willingly you'll quit the other way. I'm giving you a
fair chance, that's all. You've only got to make believe you're sick or
play sort of rottenly a couple of times. That will do the trick for you
and there won't be any other trouble.
Say, what are you hinting at? demanded Don quietly. What have you
got up your sleeve?
Plenty, Gilbert. I've got enough up my sleeve to get you fired from
There was a moment of silence. Then Don nodded thoughtfully. So
that's it, is it? he murmured.
That's it, old man. Harry grinned. Think it over now.
What do you think you've got on me? asked Don.
I don't think. I know that you and three other fellows helped put
out that fire that night and that you didn't get back to hall until
long after ten-thirty. Harry dropped his knee, thrust his hands into
his pockets, leaned back in his chair and viewed Don triumphantly. I
don't want to go to faculty with it, Gilbert, although it's really my
duty and I certainly shall if you force me.
Hm, mused Don. But wouldn't faculty wonder why you'd been so long
Probably. I'd have to tell the truth and
I guess that would hurt, interpolated the other drily.
And explain that I'd tried to shield you fellows, but that my
conscience had finally prevailed. And Harry grinned broadly. Josh
wouldn't like it, but he wouldn't do anything to me. What he'd do to
you, though, would be a plenty, Gilbert. It would be expulsion, and you
know that as well as I do.
Yes, I do. Don dropped his gaze to his hands and was silent a
moment. Then: Of course you've thought of what it would mean to you,
Walton? I wouldn't be likely to keep you out of it, you know.
Harry shrugged. Fellows might talk some, but I'd only be doing my
duty. As long as my conscience was clear
You're a dirty pup, Walton, said Don, and if I wasn't afraid of
getting the mange I'd give you the beating you deserve.
Calling names won't get you anything, Gilbert. I'm not afraid of
anything you could do to me, anyway. I may be a pup, but I'm where I
can make you sit up and beg, and I'm going to do it.
You think you are, said Don contemptuously. Let me tell you now
that I'd rather be fired a dozen times than make any bargains with a
common skunk like you!
That means you want me to go ahead and tell Josh, does it?
It means that you can do anything you want to, Walton. Don stood
up. But if you do go to faculty with the story you'll get the worst
licking you ever had or heard of, and fellows will make it so
unpleasant here for you that you won't stay much longer than I do. Now
you think it over!
What fellows say or think won't hurt me a mite, thank you, and I'm
not afraid of you or any of your friends, Gilbert. Wait a minute now.
We're not through yet.
I am, thanks, replied Don, moving toward the door.
Oh, no you're not. You may feel heroic and all that and too mad to
give in just now, but you're not considering what it will mean if you
make me squeal to faculty. Why, we wouldn't have a ghost of a show with
I thought you considered yourself quite as good a guard as me,
Walton, answered Don.
I do, old man. But I don't think I'm able to take the places of all
the other fellows who would be missing from the team.
Don turned, with his hand on the door-knob, and stared startledly.
What do you mean by that? he asked.
I thought that would fetch you, chuckled Harry. I mean that
you're not the only one who would quit the dear old school, Gilbert.
You haven't forgotten, I suppose, that there were three other fellows
mixed up in the business?
No, but faculty would have to know more than I'd tell them before
they'd find out who the others were.
Oh, you wouldn't have to tell them, old man.
Meaning you would? You don't know, Walton.
Don't I, though? You bet I do! I know every last one of them!
You told me
Oh, I let you think I didn't, Gilbert. No use telling everything
I don't believe it! But, in spite of the statement, Don did
believe it and was trying to realise what it meant. .
Don't be a fool! Why wouldn't I know? If I could see you why
couldn't I see Clint Thayer and Tim Otis and Tom Hall? You were all as
plain as daylight. Of course, Tom's out of it, anyway, but I guess
losing a left tackle and a right half-back a week before the game would
put rather a dent in our chances, what? And that's just what will
happen if you make me go to Josh with the story!
You wouldn't! challenged Don, but there was scant conviction in
his tone. Harry shrugged his shoulders.
Oh, I'd rather not. I don't want to play on a losing team, and
that's what I'd be doing, but you see I've sort of set my heart on
playing right guard a week from Saturday, Gilbert, and I hate to be
disappointed. Hate to disappoint my folks, too.
They must be proud of you!
They are, take it from me. Harry's smile vanished and he looked
ugly as he went on. Don't be a fool, Gilbert! You'd do the same thing
yourself if you had the chance. You're playing the hypocrite, and you
know it. I've got you dead to rights and I mean to make the most of it.
If you don't get off the team inside of two days I'll go to Josh and
tell him everything I know. It isn't pretty, maybe, but it's playing
your hand for what there is in it, and that's my way! Now you sit down
again and just think it all over, Gilbert. Take all the time you want.
And remember this, too. If I keep my mouth shut you've got to keep
yours shut. No blabbing to Tim Otis or Clint Thayer or anyone else.
This is just between you and me, old man. Now what do you say?
The thing's as crazy as it is rotten, Walton! How am I to get off
the team without having it look funny?
And how much do I care whether it looks funny or not? That's up to
you. You can play sick or you can get out there and mix your signals a
few times or you can bite Robey in the leg. I don't give a hang what
you do so long as you do it, and do it between now and Saturday. That's
right, sit down and look at it sensibly. Mull it over awhile. There's
CHAPTER XVI. DON VISITS THE DOCTOR
WHAT did Walton want of you? asked Tim a half-hour later, when the
occupants of Number 6 were settled at opposite sides of the table for
Walton? repeated Don vaguely. Oh, nothing especial.
Nothing especial? Then why the mysterious summons? Did he make any
crack about that little escapade of ours?
He mentioned it. Shut up and let me get to work, Tim.
Mentioned it how? What did he say? Any chance of beating him up?
I've always had a longing, away down deep inside me, Donald, to place
my fist violently against some portion of Walton'serfacial contour.
Say, that's good, isn't it? Facial contour's decidedly good, Don.
Fine, responded the other listlessly.
Tim peered across at him under the droplight. Say, you look as if
you'd lost a dozen dear friends. Anything wrong? Look here, has Walton
been acting nasty?
Don't be a chump, Tim. I'm all right. Or, anyway, I'm only sort
ofsort of tired. Dry up and let me stuff.
Oh, very well, but you needn't be so haughty about it. I don't want
to share your secrets with dear Harry. Everyone to his taste, as the
old lady said when she kissed the cow.
Tim's sarcasm, however, brought no response, and presently, after
growling a little while he pawed his books over and dropped the
subject, to Don's relief, and silence fell. Don made a fine pretence of
studying, but most of the time he couldn't have told what book lay
before him. When the hour was up Tim, who had by then returned to his
usual condition of cheerful good nature, tried to induce Don to go over
to Hensey to call on Larry Jones, who, it seemed, had perfected a most
novel and marvellous trick with a ruler and two glasses of water. But
Don refused to be enticed and Tim went off alone, gravely cautioning
his room-mate against melancholia.
Try to keep your mind off your troubles, Donald. Think of bright
and happy things, like me or the pretty birds. Remember that nothing is
ever quite as bad as we think it is, that every line has a silver
clouding and thatthat it's always dawnest before the dark. Farewell,
you old grouch!
Don didn't have to pretend very hard the next day that he was
feeling ill, for an almost sleepless night, spent in trying to find
some way out of his difficulties, had left him hollow-eyed and pale.
Breakfast had been a farce and dinner a mere empty pretence, and
between the two meals he had fared illy in classes. It was scarcely
more than an exaggeration to tell Coach Robey that he didn't feel well
enough to play, and the coach readily believed him and gave him over to
the mercies of Danny Moore.
The trainer tried hard to get Don to enumerate some tangible
symptoms, but Don could only repeat that he was dreadfully tired and
out of sorts. Eat anything that didn't agree with you? asked Danny.
No, I didn't eat much of anything. I didn't have any appetite.
Sure, that was sensible, anyway. I'll be after giving you a tonic,
me boy. Take it like I tell you, do ye mind, keep off your feet and get
a good sleep. After breakfast come to me in the gym and I'll have a
look at you.
Don took the tonicwhen he thought of itate a fair supper and
went early to bed, not so much in the hope of curing his ailment as
because he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. He slept pretty
well, but was dimly conscious of waking frequently during the night,
and when morning came felt fully as tired as when he had retired.
Breakfast was beyond him, although Mr. Robey, his attention drawn to
Don by Harry Walton's innocent You're looking pretty bum, Gilbert,
counselled soft boiled eggs and hot milk. Don dallied with the eggs and
drank part of the milk and was glad to escape as soon as he could.
Danny gave him a very thorough inspection in the rubbing room after
breakfast, but could find nothing wrong. Sure, you're as sound as
Colin Meagher's fiddle, me boy. Where is it it hurts ye?
It doesn't hurt anywhere, Danny, responded Don. I'm all right, I
suppose, only I don't feeldon't feel very fit.
A bit fine, you are, and I'm thinking you'd better lay off the work
for today. Be outdoors as much as you can, but don't be tiring yourself
out. Have you taken the tonic like I told ye?
I've taken enough of the beastly stuff, answered Don listlessly.
Danny laughed. Sure, it's the fine-tasting medicine, lad. Keep at
it. And listen to me, now. If you want to play agin Claflin, Donny, you
do as I'm tellin' you and don't be thinkin' you know more about it than
I do. Sure, Robey won't look at ye at all, come a week from tomorrow,
if you don't brace up.
Oh, I'm all right, Danny, thanks. Maybe if I rest off today I'll be
That's what I'm tellin' you. See that ye do it.
That afternoon he watched practice from the bench without getting
into togs and saw Harry Walton play at left guard. He would much rather
have remained away from the field, but to have done so might, he
thought, have looked queer. Coach Robey was solicitous about him, but
apparently did not take his indisposition very seriously. 'Take it
easy, Gilbert, he said, and don't worry. You'll be all right for
tomorrow, I guess. You've been working pretty hard, my boy. Better pull
a blanket over your shoulders. This breeze is rather biting. Can't have
you laid up for long, you know.
Harry Walton performed well that afternoon, playing with a vim and
dash that was something of a revelation to his team-mates. Tim was
evidently troubled when he walked back to hall with Don after practice.
For the love of mud, Don, he pleaded, get over it and come back! Did
you see the way Walton played today? If he gets in tomorrow and plays
like that against Chambers Robey'll be handing him the place! What the
dickens is wrong with you, anyway?
I'm just tired, responded Don.
Tired! Tim was puzzled. What for? You haven't worked since day
before yesterday. What you've got is malaria or something. Tell you
what we'll do, Don; we'll beat it over to the doctor's after supper,
But Don shook his head. Danny's tonic is all I need, he said. I
dare say I'll be feeling great in the morning.
You dare say you will! Don't you feel sure you will? Because I've
got to tell you, Donald, that this is a plaguy bad time to get laid
off, son. If you're not a regular little Bright Eyes by Monday Robey'll
can you as sure as shooting!
I wouldn't much care if he did, muttered Don.
You wouldn't muchSay, are you crazy? Tim stopped short on the
walk and viewed his chum in amazement. Is it your brain that's gone
back on you? Don't you want to play against Claflin?
I suppose so. Yes, of course I do, but
Then don't talk like a piece of cheese! You'll come with me to the
doctor after supper if I have to drag you there by one heel!
And so go he did, and the doctor looked at his tongue and felt his
pulse and pawed him over, as Don put it, and ended by patting him on
the back and accepting a nice bright half-dollarhalf-price to Academy
studentsin exchange for a prescription.
You're a little nervous, said the doctor. Thinking too much about
that football game, I guess. Don't do it. Put it out of your mind. Take
that medicine every two hours according to directions on the bottle and
you'll be all right, my boy.
Don thanked him, slipped the prescription in a pocket and headed for
school. But Tim grabbed him and faced him about. You don't swallow the
prescription, Donald, he said. You take it to a druggist and he gives
you something in a bottle. That's what you swallow, the stuff in the
bottle. I'm not saying that it mightn't do you just as much good to eat
the paper, but we'd better play by the rules. So come on, you
Oh, I forgot, murmured Don.
Of course you did, agreed the other sarcastically. And, look
here, if anyone asks you your name, it's Donald Croft Gilbert. Think
you can remember that? Donald Croft
Oh, dry up, said Don. How much will this fool medicine cost me?
How much have you got?
About eighty cents, I think.
It'll cost you eighty cents, then. Ask me something easier. I don't
pretend to know how druggists do it, but they can always look right
through your clothes and count your money. Never knew it to fail!
But it failed this time, or else the druggist counted wrong, for the
prescription was a dollar and Tim had to make up the balance. He
insisted on Don taking the first dose then and there, so that he could
get in another before bedtime, and Don meekly obeyed. After he had
swallowed it he begged a glass of soda water from the druggist to take
the taste out of his mouth, and the druggist, doubtless realising the
demands of the occasion, stood treat to them both. On the way back Tim
figured it that if they had only insisted on having ice-cream sodas
they would have reduced the price of the medicine to its rightful cost.
Don, though, firmly insisted that it was worth every cent of what he
had paid for it.
No one, he said convincedly, could get that much nastiness into a
small bottle for less than a dollar!
CHAPTER XVII. DROPPED FROM THE TEAM
WHETHER owing to Danny Moore's tonic, the doctor's prescription or a
good night's rest, Don awoke the next morning feeling perfectly well
physically, and his first waking moments were cheered by the knowledge.
Then, however, recollection of the fact that physical well-being was
exactly what wasn't required under the circumstances brought quick
reaction, and he jumped out of bed to look at himself in the mirror
above his dresser in the hope of finding pale cheeks and hollow eyes
and similar evidences of impending dissolution. But Fate had played a
sorry trick on him! His cheeks were not in the least pale, nor were his
eyes sunken. In short, he looked particularly healthy, and if other
evidence of the fact was needed it was supplied by Tim. Tim, when Don
turned regretfully away from the glass, was sitting up and observing
him with pleased relief.
Ata boy! exclaimed Tim. Feeling fine and dandy, aren't you? I
guess that medicine was cheap at the price, after all! You look about a
hundred per cent better than you did yesterday, Donald.
Don started to smile, caught himself in time and drew a long sigh.
You can't always tell by a fellow's looks how he's really feeling, he
Oh, run away and play! What's the matter with you? You've got
colour in your face and look great.
Too much colour, I'm afraid, said Don, shaking his head
pessimistically. I guessI guess I've got a little fever.
Tim stared at him puzzledly. Fever? What for? I meanSay, are
No. My face is sort of hot, honest, Tim. And so it was, possibly
the consciousness of fibbing and the difficulty of doing it
successfully was responsible for the flush. Tim pushed his legs out of
bed and viewed his friend disgustedly.
Don, you're getting to be one of those kleptomaniacsno, that
isn't it! What's the word? Hydrochondriacs, isn't it? Anyway, whatever
it is, you're it! You've got so you imagine you're sick when you
aren't. Forget it, Donald, and cheer up!
Oh, I'll be all right, thanks, responded the other dolefully. I
guess I'm lots better than I was.
Of course you are! Why, hang it, man, you've simply got to be O. K.
today! If you're not Robey'll can you as sure as shooting! Smile for
the gentleman, Don, and then get a move on and come to breakfast.
I don't think I want any breakfast, thanks.
You will when you smell it. Want me to start the water for you?
If I was a hydrochondriac I wouldn't want any water, would I?
Hypochondriac's what I meant, I guess. Hurry up before the mob gets
Tim struggled into his bath-robe and pattered off down the corridor,
leaving Don to follow at his leisure. But, instead of following, Don
seated himself on the edge of his bed and viewed life gloomily. If Tim
refused to believe in his illness, how was he to convince Coach Robey
of it? He might, he reflected, rub talcum on his face, but he was
afraid that wouldn't deceive anyone, the coach least of all. And,
according to his bargain with Harry Walton, he must sever his
connection with the team today. If he didn't Walton would go to the
principal and tell what he had witnessed from his window that Saturday
night, and not only he, but Tim and Clint as well, would suffer. And,
still worse, the team would be beaten by Claflin as surely asas Tim
was shouting to him from the bathroom! He got up and donned his
bath-robe and set off down the corridor with lagging feet, so wretched
in mind by this time that it required no great effort of imagination to
believe himself ailing in body.
To his surpriseand rather to his disgusthe found himself
intensely hungry at breakfast and it was all he could do to refuse the
steak and baked potato set before him. Under the appraising eye of Mr.
Robey, he drank a glass of milk and nibbled at a piece of toast, his
very soul longing for that steak and a couple of soft eggs! Afterward,
when he reported to Danny, the trainer produced fresh discouragement in
Fine, me boy! declared the trainer. You're as good as ever,
aren't you? Keep in the air all you can and go light with the dinner.
II don't feel very fit, muttered Don.
Get along with you! You're the picture of health! Don't be saying
anything like that to Mr. Robey, or he might believe it and bench you.
Run along now and mind what I tell you. Game's at two-fifteen today.
It was fortunate that Don had but two recitations that morning, for
he was in no condition for such unimportant things. His mind was too
full of what was before him. At dinner it was easy enough to obey
Danny's command and eat lightly, for he was far too worried to want
food. The noon meal was eaten early in order that the players might
have an hour for digestion before they went to the field. Chambers came
swinging up to the school at half-past one, in all the carriages to be
found at the station, while her supporters trailed after on foot. The
stands filled early and, by the time the Chambers warriors trotted on
to the gridiron for their practice, looked gay and colourful with
Don kept close to Tim from the time dinner was over until they
reached the locker-room in the gymnasium. Tim was puzzled and disgusted
over his chum's behaviour and secretly began to think that perhaps,
after all, he was not in the condition his appearance told him to be.
Don listlessly dragged his playing togs on and was dressed by the time
Coach Robey came in. He hoped that the coach would give him his
opportunity then to declare his unfitness for work, but Mr. Robey paid
no attention to him. He said the usual few words of admonition to the
players, conferred with Manager Morton and the trainer and disappeared
again. Captain Edwards led the way out of the building at a few minutes
before two and they jogged down to the field and, heralded by a long
cheer from the stand, took their places on the benches. It was a fine
day for football, bright and windless and with a true November nip in
Chambers yielded half the gridiron and Coach Robey approached the
bench. All right, first and second squads, he said cheerfully. Try
your signals out, but take it easy. Rollins, you'd better try a
half-dozen goals. Martin, too. How about you, Gilbert? You feeling all
Don felt the colour seeping out of his cheeks as the coach turned
toward him, and there was an instant of silence before he replied with
N-no, sir, I'm not feeling veryvery fit. I'm sorry.
You're not? Mr. Robey's voice had an edge. Danny says you're
perfectly fit. What's wrong?
II don't know, sir. I don't feelwell.
A number of the players still within hearing turned to listen. Mr.
Robey viewed Don with a puzzled frown. Then he shrugged impatiently.
You know best, of course, he said shortly, but if you don't work
today, Gilbert, you're plumb out of it. I can't keep your place open
for you forever, you know. What do you say? Want to try it?
Don wished that the earth under his feet would open up and swallow
him. He tried to return the coach's gaze, but his eyes wandered. The
first time he tried to speak he made no sound, and when he did find his
voice it was so low that the coach impatiently bade him speak up.
I don't think it would be any good, sir, replied Don huskily.
II'm not feeling very well.
There was a long silence. Then Mr. Robey's voice came to him as cold
as ice. Very well, Gilbert, clean your locker out and hand in your
things to the trainer. Walton!
Go in at left guard on the first squad. Mr. Robey turned again to
Don. Gilbert, he said very quietly, I don't understand you. You are
perfectly able to play, and you know it. The only explanation that
occurs to me is that you're in a funk. If that's so it is a fortunate
thing for all of us that we've discovered it now instead of later.
There's no place on this team, my boy, for a quitter.
Coach and players turned away, leaving Don standing alone there
before the bench. Miserably he groped his way to it and sat down with
hanging head. His eyes were wet and he was horribly afraid that someone
would see it. A hand fell on his shoulder and he glanced up into Tim's
I heard, Don, said Tim. I'm frightfully sorry, old man. Are you
sure you can't do it!
Don shook his head silently. Tim sighed.
Gee, it's rotten, ain't it? Maybe he didn't mean what he said,
though. Maybe, if you're all right Monday, he'll give you another
chance. I'mI'm beastly sorry, Don!
The hand on his shoulder pressed reassuringly and drew away and Tim
hurried out to his place. Presently Don took a deep breath, got to his
feet and, trying his hardest to look unconcerned but making sorry work
of it, skirted the stand and retraced his steps to the gymnasium. His
one desire was to get out of sight before any of the fellows found him,
and so he pulled off his togs as quickly as he might, got into his
other clothes, made a bundle of his suit and stockings and shoes and
left them in the rubbing-room where Danny could not fail to find them
and then hurried out of the building and through the deserted yard to
Billings and the sunlit silence and emptiness of his room.
There was very little consolation in the knowledge that he had done
only what was right. Martyrdom has its drawbacks. He had lost his
position with the team and had been publicly branded a quitter. The
fact that his conscience was not only clear but even approving didn't
help much. Being thought a quitter, a coward, hurt badly. If he could
have got at Harry Walton any time during the ensuing half-hour it would
have gone hard with that youth. After a time, though, he got command of
his feelings again and, since there was nothing better to do, he seated
himself at the window and watched as much of the football game as was
visible from there. Once or twice he was able to forget his trouble for
a brief moment.
Chambers put up a good game that day and it was all the home team
could do to finally win out by the score of 3 to 0. For two periods
Chambers had Brimfield virtually on the run, and only a fine fighting
spirit that flashed into evidence under the shadow of her goal saved
the latter from defeat. As it was, luck took a hand in matters when a
poor pass from centre killed Chambers's chance of scoring by a
field-goal in the second quarter.
Brimfield showed better work in the second half and twice got the
ball inside the visitor's twenty-yard line, once in the third period
and again shortly before the final whistle blew. The first opportunity
to score was lost when Carmine called for line-plunges to get the
pigskin across and Howard, who was playing in St. Clair's position
because of a slight injury to the regular left half, fumbled for a
four-yard loss. Chambers rallied and took the ball away a minute later.
In the fourth period dazzling runs outside of tackles by Tim Otis and
hard line-plugging by Rollins and Howard took the ball from Brimfield's
thirty-five to the enemy's twenty-five. There a forward pass
groundedChambers had a remarkable defence against that playand, on
third down, Rollins slid off left tackle for enough to reach the
twenty. But with only one down remaining and time nearly up, a
try-at-goal was the only course left, and Rollins, standing squarely on
the thirty-yard line, drop-kicked a scanty victory.
In some ways that contest was disappointing, in others encouraging.
Team-play was more in evidence than in any previous game and the
maroon-and-grey backfield had performed prodigiously. And the plays
had, as a general thing, gone off like clock-work. But there were weak
places in the line still. Pryme, at right guard, had proved an easy
victim for the enemy and the same was true, in a lesser degree, of
Harry Walton, on the other side of centre. And Crewe, at right tackle,
had allowed himself to be boxed time after time. It might be said for
Crewe, however, that today he was playing opposite an opponent who was
more than clever. But the way in which Chambers had torn holes in
Brimfield's first defence promised poorly for next Saturday and the
spectators went away from the field feeling a bit less sanguine than a
week before. No team that is weak at both guard positions can hope to
win, was the general verdict, and it was fully realised that Claflin's
backs were better than Chambers's. For a day or two there was much talk
of a petition to the faculty asking for the reinstatement of Tom Hall,
but it progressed no further than talk. Josh, it was known, was not the
kind to reverse his decision for any reason they could present.
And yet, although the weekly faculty conference on Monday night had
no written petition to consider, the subject of Tom's reinstatement did
come before it and in a totally unprecedented manner.
CHAPTER XVIII. GOOD-BYE, TIMMY!
TIM found a dejected and most unsatisfactory chum when he got back
to the room after the Chambers game that Saturday afternoon. All of
Tim's demands for an explanation of the whole puzzling affair met only
with evasion. Don was not only uncommunicative, but a trifle
short-tempered, a condition quite unusual for him. All Tim could get
from him was that he felt perfectly punk and wasn't going to try to
change Mr. Robey's decision.
I'm through, he said. I don't blame Robey a bit. I'm no use on
the team as I am. He'd be foolish to bother with me.
Well, all I can say, returned Tim, with a sigh of exasperation,
is that the whole thing is mighty funny. I guess there's more to it
than you're telling. You look like thirty cents, all right enough, but
I'll wager anything you like that you could go out there and play just
as good a game as ever on Monday if Robey would let you and you cared
to try. Now couldn't you!
I don't know. What does it matter, anyhow? I tell you I'm all
through, and so there's no use chewing it over.
Oh, all right. Nuff said. Tim walked to the window, his hands
thrust deep in his pockets, and, after a minute's contemplation of the
darkening prospect without, observed haltingly: Look here, Don. If you
hear things you don't like, don't get up on your ear, eh?
What sort of things? demanded the other.
Tim hesitated a long moment before he took the plunge. Then: Well,
some of the fellows don't understand, Don. You can't altogether blame
them, I suppose. I shut two or three of them up, but there's bound to
be some talk, you know. Some fellows always manage to think of the
meanest things possible. But what fellows like that say isn't worth
bothering about. So just you sit snug, old man. They've already found
that they can't say that sort of thing when I'm around.
Thanks, said Don quietly. What sort of things do you mean?
You mean that they're calling me a quitter?
Well, some of them heard Robey get that off and they're repeating
it like a lot of silly parrots. I called Holt down good and hard. Told
him I'd punch his ugly face if he talked that way again.
Don't bother, said Don listlessly. I guess I do look like a
quitter, all right.
Piffle! And, hang it all, Robey had no business saying that, Don!
He couldn't really believe it.
Why couldn't he? On the face of it, Tim, I'd say that I looked a
whole lot like a quitter.
But that's nonsense! Why would you or any fellow want to quit just
before the Claflin game? Why, all the hard work's done with, man! Only
a little signal practice to go through with now. Why would you want to
quit? It's poppycock!
Well, some fellows do get cold feet just before the big game. We've
both known cases of it. Look at
Yes, I know what you're going to say, but that was different. He
never had any spunk, anyway. Nobody believed in him but Robey, and
Robey was wrong, just as he is about you. Anyway, all I'm trying to say
is that there's no use getting waxy if some idiot shoots off his mouth.
The fellows who really count don't believe you aa quitter. And the
whole business will blow over in a couple of days. Look how they talked
about Tom at first!
They didn't call him a quitter, though. They were just mad because
he'd done a fool thing and lost the team. I wouldn't blame anyone for
thinking me aa coward, and I can't resent it if they say it.
Can't, eh? Well, I can!
Don smile wanly. Thought you were telling me not to, Tim.
Tim muttered. There was silence for a minute in the twilit room.
Then Tim switched on the lights and rolled up his sleeves preparatory
to washing. The whole thing's perfectly rotten, he growled, but
we'll just have to make the best of it. Ten years from now
Yes, but it isn't ten years from now that troubles me, interrupted
Don thoughtfully. Itit's right this minute. And tomorrow and the
next day. And the day after that. I've a good mind to
To what? demanded Tim from behind his sponge.
Nothing. I was justthinking.
Well, stop it, then. You weren't intended to think. You always do
something silly when you get to thinking. Wash up and come on to
I'm not going over tonight, answered Don. I'm not hungry. And,
anyway, I don't feel quite like facing it yet.
Now, look here, began Tim severely, if you're going to take it
I'm not, I guess. Only I'd rather not go to supper tonight. I am
through at the training-table and I funk going back to the other table
just now. Besides, I'm not the least bit hungry. You run along.
Tim observed him frowningly. Well, all right. Only if it was me I'd
take the bull by the horns and see it through. Fellows will talk more
if you let them see that you give a hang.
They'll talk enough anyway, I dare say. A little more won't
I just hope Holt gets gay again, said Tim venomously, shying the
towel in the general direction of the rack and missing it by a foot.
Want me to bring something over to you?
No, thanks. I don't want a thing.
We-ell, I guess I'll beat it then. Tim loitered uncertainly at the
door. I say, Donald, old scout, buck up, eh?
Oh, yes, I'll be all right, Timmy. Don't you worry about me.
Andand thanks, you know, forfor calling Holt down.
Oh, that! Tim chuckled. Holt wasn't the only one I called down
either. Then, realising that he had not helped the situation any by
the remark, he tried to squirm out of it. Of course, Holt was the
one, you know. The others didn't really say anything, oror
Don laughed. That'll do, Tim. Beat it!
And Tim, red-faced and confused, beat it.
For the next five minutes doors in the corridor opened and shut and
footfalls sounded as the fellows hurried off to Wendell. But I doubt if
Don heard the sounds, for he was sunk very low in the chair and his
eyes were fixed intently on space. Presently he drew in his legs, sat
up and pulled his watch from his pocket. A moment of speculation
followed. Then he jumped from the chair as one whose mind is at last
made up and went to his closet. From the recesses he dragged forth his
bag and laid it open on his bed. From the closet hooks he took down a
few garments and tossed them beside the bag and then crossed to his
dresser and pulled open the drawers. Don had decided to accept Coach
Robey's title. He was going to quit!
There was a train at six-thirty-four and another at seven-one for
New York. With luck, he could get the first. If he missed that he was
certain of the second. The dormitory was empty, it was quite dark
outside by now and there was scarcely a chance of anyone's seeing him.
If he hurried he could be at the station before Tim could return from
supper. Or, even if he didn't get away until the seven-one train, he
would be clear of the hall before Tim could discover his absence and
surmise the reason for it. To elude Tim was the all-important thing,
for Tim would never approve and would put all sorts of obstacles in his
way. In fact, it would be a lot like Tim to hold him back by main
force! Don's heart sank for a moment. It was going to be frightfully
hard to leave old Timmy. Perhaps they might meet again at college in a
couple of years, but they would not be likely to see each other before
that time, and even that depended on so many things that it couldn't be
confidently counted on.
Don paused in his hurried selection of articles from the dresser
drawers and dropped into a chair at the table. But, with the pad before
him and pen in hand, he shook his head. A note would put Tim wise to
what was happening and perhaps allow him to get to the station in time
to make a fuss. No, it would be better to write to him later; perhaps
from New York tonight, for Don was pretty sure that he wouldn't be able
to get a through train before morning. So, with another glance at his
watch, he began to pack again, throwing things in every which-way in
his feverish desire to complete the task and leave the building before
Tim got back. He came across a scarf that Tim had admired and laid it
back in the top drawer. It had never been worn and Tim should have it.
And as he hurried back and forth he thought of other things he would
like Tim to have. There was his tennis racket, the one Tim always
borrowed when Don wasn't using it, and a scarf-pin made of a queer,
rough nugget of opal matrix. He would tell Tim he was to have those and
not to pack them with the other things. The thought of making the gifts
almost cheered him for awhile, and, together with the excitement of
running away, caused him to hum a little tune under his breath as he
jammed the last articles in the bag and snapped it shut.
It was sixteen minutes past now. He would, he acknowledged, never be
able to make the six-thirty-four, with that burden to carry. But the
seven-one would do quite as well, and he wouldn't have to hurry so. In
that case, then, why not leave just a few words of good-bye for Tim? He
could put the note somewhere where Tim wouldn't find it until later;
tuck it, for instance, under the bed-clothes so that he would find it
when he pulled them down. He hesitated a moment and then set his bag
down by the door, dropped his overcoat and umbrella on the bed and
seated himself again at the table. Tim was never known to take less
than a half-hour for supper and he still had a good ten minutes'
Dear Timmy [he wrote hurriedly], I'm off. It's no
use sticking around any longer. Fellows aren't
going to forget as soon as you said and I can't
stay on here and be thought a quitter. So I'm
taking the seven-one to New York and will be home
day after tomorrow. I wish you would pack my
things up for me when you get time. There isn't
any great hurry. I've got enough for awhile.
You're to keep the racket and the blue and white
tie and the opal matrix pin and anything else you
like to remember me by. Please do this, Tim. I'll
write from home and tell you about sending the
trunk. I'm awfully sorry, Tim, and I'm going to
miss you like anything, but I shan't ever come
back here. Maybe we will get together again at
college. I hope so. You try, will you? Good-bye,
Tim, old pal. We've had some dandy times together,
haven't we? And you've been an A1 chum to me and I
wish I wasn't going off without saying good-bye to
you decently. But I've got to. So good-bye, Timmy,
old man. Think of me now and then like I will of
Your friend always,
That note took longer to write than he had counted on, and when he
got up from the table and looked at his watch he was alarmed to find
that it was almost half-past six. He folded the paper and tucked it
just under the clothes at the head of Tim's bed, took a last glance
about the room, picked up coat and umbrella and turned out the light.
Then he strode toward the door, groping for his bag.
CHAPTER XIX. FRIENDS FALL OUT
TIM didn't enjoy supper very much that evening. The game had left
him pretty weary of body and mind, and on top of that was Don and his
trouble, and try as he might he couldn't get them out of his thoughts.
Mr. Robey was not at table; someone said he had gone to New York for
over Sunday; and so Tim didn't have to make a pretence of eating more
than he wanted. And he wanted very little. A slice of cold roast beef,
rather too rare to please him, about an eighth of one of the inevitable
baked potatoes, a few sips of milk and a corner of a slice of toast as
hard as a shingle, and Tim was more than satisfied. Tonight he was not
especially interested in the talk, which, as usual after a game, was
all football, and didn't see any good reason for sitting there after he
had finished and listening to it. All during his brief meal he was on
the alert for any mention of Don's name, and more than once he glared,
almost encouragingly, at Holt. But Holt had already learned his lesson
and was doing very little talking, and none at all about Don. Nor was
the absent player's name mentioned by anyone at that table, although
what might be being said of him at the other Tim had no way of knowing.
He stayed on a few minutes after he had finished, eyeing the
apple-sauce and graham crackers coldly, and then asked Steve Edwards to
Off his feed, remarked Carmine as Tim passed down the dining hall
on his way out. First time I ever saw old Tim have nerves.
It's Don Gilbert, probably, said Clint Thayer. They're great
pals. Tim's worried about him, I guess.
What do you make of it, Steve? asked Crewe, helping himself to a
third slice of meat.
What is there to make of it? asked Steve carelessly. The chap's
all out of shape, I suppose. I don't know what his trouble is, but I
guess he's a goner for this year.
It's awfully funny, isn't it? asked Rollins. Gilbert always
struck me as an awfully plucky player.
Has anyone said he isn't? inquired Clint quietly.
N-no, no, of course not! Rollins flushed. I didn't mean anything
like that, Clint. Only I don't see
He hasn't been looking very fit lately, offered Harry Walton. I
noticed it two or three days ago. Too bad!
Yes, you're feeling perfectly wretched about it, I guess, said big
Thursby drily, causing a smile around the table. Walton shrugged and
rewarded the speaker with one of his smiles that were always
unfortunately like leers.
Oh, I can feel sorry for him, said Walton, even if I do get his
place. Gilbert gave me an awfully good fight for it.
Oh, was there a fight? asked Thursby innocently. I didn't notice
Thursby got a real laugh this time and Harry Walton joined in to
save his face, but with no very good grace.
If anyone has an idea that Don Gilbert is scared and quit for that
reason, observed St. Clair, he'd better keep it to himself. Or,
anyhow, he'd better not air it when Tim is about. He nearly bit my head
off in the gym because I said that Don was a chump to give up like this
a week before the Claflin game. Tim flared up likelike a gasoline
torch and wanted to fight! I didn't mean a thing by my innocent remark,
but I had the dickens of a time trying to prove it to Tim! And he
almost jumped into you, too, didn't he, Holt?
Yes, he did, the touchy beggar! You all heard what Robey said,
I didn't hear, interrupted Steve, and
Why, he said
And, as I was about to remark, Holt, I don't want to. And it will
be just as decent for those who did hear to forget. Robey says lots of
things he doesn't mean or believe. Perhaps that was one of them. I'm
for Don. If he says he's sick, he is sick. You've all seen him play for
two years and you ought to know that there isn't a bit of yellow
anywhere in his make-up.
That's so, agreed several, and others nodded, Holt amongst them.
I didn't say he was a quitter, Steve. I was only repeating what
Robey said, and Tim happened to hear me. Gee, I like Don as well as any
of you. Gee, didn't I play a whole year with him on the second?
Gee, you did indeed! replied Crewe, and, laughing, the fellows
pushed back their chairs and left the table.
Tim didn't hurry on his way along the walk to Billings, for he was
earnestly trying to think of some scheme that would take Don's mind off
his trouble that evening. Perhaps he could get Don to take a good, long
walk. Walking always worked wonders in his own case when, as very
infrequently happened, he had a fit of the blues. Yes, he would propose
a walk, he told himself. And then he groaned at the thought of it, for
he was very tired and he ached in a large number of places!
Only a few windows were lighted in Billings as he approached it, for
most of the fellows were still in dining hall and the rule requiring
the turning out of lights during absence from rooms was strictly
enforced. Only the masters were exempted, and Tim noticed as he passed
Mr. Daley's study that the droplight was turned low by one of those
cunning dimming attachments which Tim had always envied the instructor
the possession of. Tim would have had one of those long ago could he
have put it to any practical use. He passed through the doorway and
down the dimly lighted corridor, the rubber-soled shoes which he
affected in all seasons making little sound. He was surprised to see
that no light showed through the transom of Number 6, and he paused
outside the door a moment. Perhaps Don was asleep. In that case, it
would be just as well to not disturb him. But, on the other hand, he
might be just sitting there in the dark being miserable. Tim turned the
knob and pushed the door open.
The light from the corridor and the fact that Don had stopped
startledly at the sound of the turning knob prevented an actual
collision between them. Tim, pushing the door slowly shut behind him,
viewed Don questioningly. Hello, he said, where are you going?
For a walk, replied Don.
Why the coat and umbrella? Andoh, I see! Tim's glance took in
the bag and comprehension dawned. So that's it, eh?
There was an instant of silence during which Tim closed the door and
leaned against it, hands in pockets and a thoughtful scowl on his face.
Yes, that's it, said Don defiantly. I'm off for home.
What's the big idea?
You know well enough, Tim. II'm not going to stay here and bebe
pointed out as a quitter. I'm
Wait a sec! What are you doing now but quitting, you several sorts
of a blind mule? Think you're helping things any byby running away?
Don't be a chump, Donald.
That's all well enough for you. It isn't your funeral. I don't care
what they say about me if I don't have to hear it. I'm sorry, Tim,
butbut I've just got to do it. Ithere's a note for you in your bed.
I didn't expect you'd be back before I left.
I'll bet you didn't, son! said Tim grimly. Now let me tell you
something, Don. You're acting like a baby, that's what you're doing!
It's all fine enough to say that you don't care what fellows say as
long as you don't hear it, but you don't mean it, Don. You would care.
And so would I. If you don't want them to think you a quitter, for the
love of mud don't run away likelike one!
I've thought of all that, Tim, but it's the only thing to do.
The only thing to do, your grandmother! The thing to do is to stick
around and show folks that you're not a quitter. Don't you see
that getting out is the one thing that'll make them believe Robey was
Oh, I dare say, but I've made up my mind, Tim. I'm going to get
that seven-one train, old man, and I'll have to beat it. If you want to
walk along to the station with me
And carry your bag? asked Tim sweetly. He turned the key in the
lock and then dropped it in his pocket. Don took a stride forward, but
was met by Tim's challenging frown. There's no seven-one train for you
tonight, Donald, said Tim quietly, nor any other night. Put your bag
down, old dear, and hang your overcoat back in the closet.
[Illustration: Will you unlock that door? Demanded Don angrily]
Don't act like a silly ass, begged Don. Put that key back and let
me out, Tim!
Yes, I willlike fun! The only way you'll get that key will be by
taking it out of my pocket, and by the time you do that the seven-one
train will be half-way to the city.
Please, Tim! You're not acting like a good chum! Just you
That's just what I am acting like, returned Tim, stepping past the
other and switching on the lights. And you'll acknowledge it tomorrow.
Just now you're sort of crazy in the head. I'll humour you as much as
possible, Donald, but not to the extent of letting you make a perfect
chump of yourself. Sit down and behave.
Tim, I want that key, said Don sternly.
Tim shrugged. Can't have it, Don, unless you fight for it. And I'm
not sure you'd get it then. Now look here
You've no right to keep me here!
I don't give a hang whether I've got the right or not. You're going
to stay here.
There are other trains, said Don coldly. You can't keep that door
I don't intend to try, but it'll stay locked until the last train
tonight has whistled for the crossing back there. Make up your mind to
Don looked irresolutely from Tim to the door and back again. He
didn't want to fight Tim the least bit in the world. He wasn't so sure
now that he wanted to get that train, either. But, having stated his
purpose, he felt it encumbent on him to carry it out. Then his gaze
fell on the windows and he darted toward them.
But Tim had already thought of that way of escape and before Don had
traversed half the distance from door to windows Tim had planted
himself resolutely in the way. No you don't, Donald, he said calmly.
You'll have to lick me first, boy, and I'm feeling quite some
I don't want to lick you, said Don irritably, but I mean to get
that train. You'd better either give up that key or stand out of my
Neither, thanks. And, look here, if we get to scrapping Horace will
hear us and then you won't get away in any case. Be sensible, Don, and
give it up. It can't be done, old man.
Will you unlock that door? demanded Don angrily.
No, confound you, I won't!
Then I'm going out by the window!
And I say you're not. Tim swiftly peeled off his coat. Anyway,
not in time to get that train.
Don dropped his bag to the floor and tossed overcoat and umbrella on
his bed. I've given you fair warning, Tim, he said in a low voice. I
don't want to hurt you, but you'd better stand aside.
I don't want to get hurt, Don, replied the other quietly, but if
you insist, all right. I'm doing what I'd want you to do, Don, if I
went crazy in the head. You may not like it now, but some day you'll
tell me I did right.
You're acting like a fool, answered Don hotly. It's no business
of yours if I want to get out of here. Now you let me pass, or it'll be
the worse for you!
Don, will you listen to reason? Sit down calmly for five minutes
and let's talk this thing over. Will you do that?
No! And I won't be dictated to by you, Tim Otis! Now get out of the
You'll have to put me out, answered Tim with set jaw. And you're
going to find that hard work, Donald. We're both going to get horribly
mussed up, and
But Tim didn't finish his remark, for at that instant Don rushed
him. Tim met the onslaught squarely and in a second they were
struggling silently. No blows were struck. Don was bent only on getting
the other out of the way and making his escape through the open window
there, while Tim was equally resolved that he should do nothing of the
sort. In spite of Don's superior weight, the two boys were fairly
equally matched, and for a minute or two they strained and tussled
without advantage to either. Then Tim, his arms wrapped around Don's
body like iron bands, forced the latter back a step and against a chair
which went crashing to the floor. Don tore at the encircling arms,
I don'twant tohurt you, he muttered, butI willif you
There was no answer from Tim, but the grip didn't relax. Don worked
a hand under the other's chin and tried to force his head back. Tim
gave a little and they collided with the window-seat, stumbled and slid
together to the floor, Don on top. For a moment they writhed and
thrashed and then Don worked his right arm loose, slowly tore Tim's
left hand away and held it down to the floor.
Let go or I'll punch you, Tim, he panted.
Don strained until he felt Tim's other hand giving, and then, with a
sudden fling of his body, rolled clear and jumped to his feet. But Tim
was only an instant behind him and, panting and dishevelled, the two
boys confronted each other, silent.
I'm going out there, said Don after a moment.
Tim only shook his head and smiled crookedly.
I am, Tim, andand you mustn't try to stop me this time!
I'vegot to, Don!
I'm giving you fair warning!
Don took a deeper breath and stepped forward. Don't touch me! he
warned. But Tim was once more in his path, hands stretched to clutch
and hold. Out of my way, Tim! Fair warning! Don's face was white and
his eyes blazing.
No! whispered Tim, and crouched.
Then Don went on again. Tim threw himself in the way, a fist shot
out and Tim, with a grunt, went back against the pillows and slipped
heavily to the floor.
Don's hands fell to his sides and he stared bewilderedly. Then, with
a groan, he dropped to his knees and raised Tim's head from the floor.
Gee, but I'm sorry, Timmy! he stammered. I didn't mean to do it,
honest! I was crazy, I guess! Timmy, are you all right!
Tim's eyes, half-closed, fluttered, he drew a deep breath and his
head rolled over against Don's arm.
Timmy! cried Don anxiously. Timmy! Don't you hear me! I
didn't hit you awfully hard, Timmy!
Tim sighed. Whattime is it? he murmured.
Time? Never mind the time. Are you all right, Tim?
Tim opened his eyes and grinned weakly. Hear the birdies sing, Don!
It was a lovely punch! Help me up, will you?
Don lifted him to the window-seat. I'm horribly sorry, Tim, he
said abjectedly. II didn't know what I was doing, chum! I wishI
wish you'd hand me one, Tim! Go on, will you?
Tim laughed weakly. It's all right, Donald. Just give me a minute
to get my breath. Gee, things certainly spun around there for a
Where'd I hit you?
Right on the point of the jaw. Tim felt of the place gingerly. No
harm done, though. It just sort ofjarred me a bit. What time is it?
Don glanced at the tin alarm clock on his dresser. Ten of seven,
he answered. What's that got to do with it?
Well, you can't make the seven-one now, Donald, unless you fly all
the way, can you?
Oh! said Don, rather blankly. II'd forgotten!
Good thing, muttered Tim. Wish you'd forgotten before! If anyone
ever tells you you're a nice good-natured, even-tempered chap, Don,
don't you believe him. You send 'em to me!
I didn't know I could lose my temper like that, replied the other
shamefacedly. Timmy, I'm most awfully sorry about it. You believe
that, don't you?
Sure! Tim laughed. But I'll bet you're not half as sorry as you
would have been tomorrow if I'd let you go! Don, you're an awful ass,
now aren't you?
Don nodded. I guess I am, Timmy. And you're aa brick, old man!
Huh! Any more trains to New York tonight?
There's one at twelve-something, answered Don, with a grin.
Thinking of catching it?
Not a bit!
All right then. Tim dug in his pocket and then tossed the door-key
beside him on the cushion. Better unpack your bag, you silly ass. Then
we'll go out and get some air. I sort of need it!
Some three hours later Tim, tossing back his bed-clothes, exclaimed:
Hello! What have we here?
That's just a note I wrote you, said Don hurriedly. Hand it here,
I should say not! I'm going to read it!
No, please, Tim! It's just about two or three things I was going to
leave you! Hand it over, like a good chap!
Something you were going to leave me? said Tim as he let Don wrest
the sheet of paper from him. Oh, I see. Well,he felt carefully of
the lump on his chinI guess you left me enough as it is, dearie!
CHAPTER XX. AMY APPEARS FOR THE
PRACTICE on Monday was a wretched affair. To be sure, many of the
fellows who had played in the Chambers game had been excused, but that
didn't account for the fact that those who did take part went at their
work as if half asleep. Both McPhee and Cotter failed to get any life
into the first, and the second, while it, too, seemed to have taken
part in the general slump, managed to score twice while the first was
with difficulty wresting three touchdowns from its opponent. Mr. Robey
shouted himself red in the face, Steve Edwards, who followed practice,
pleaded and exhorted, and a stocky, broad-shouldered, bearded
individual who made his appearance that afternoon for the first time
frowned and shook his head, and all to small purpose. The players
accepted scoldings and insults as a donkey accepts blows, untroubledly,
apathetically, and jogged on at their own pace, guilty of all the sins
of commission and omission in the football decalogue.
There was much curiosity about the newcomer and many opinions as to
his identity were hazarded on the bench that afternoon. It was quite
evident that he was a football authority, for Coach Robey consulted him
at times all during practice. And it was equally evident that they were
close friends, since the stranger was on one occasion seen to smite the
head coach most familiarly between the shoulders! But who he was and
what he was doing there remained a secret until after supper. Then it
became known that his name was Proctor, Doctor George G. Proctor, that
he was a practising physician some place in the Middle West and that he
was visiting Coach Robey. But that was unsatisfactory data and some
enterprising youth hunted back in the football records and, lo, the
mystery was explained. Eight years before Gus Proctor had played
tackle on the Princeton eleven and in his junior and senior years had
been honoured with a position on the All-American Team. Subsequently he
had coached at a college in Ohio and had put said college on the map.
Now, having stolen away from home to see Princeton and Yale play next
Saturday, he was staying for a day or two with Mr. Robey. After that
became generally known Doctor Proctor was gazed at with a new respect
whenever he appeared on field or campus.
Don and Tim went up to Number 12 that night after supper to call on
Tom Hall. Tim was having hard work making Don face the music. If Don
could have had his way he would have kept to himself, but Tim insisted
on dragging him around. Just keep a firm upper lip, Donald, he
counselled, and show the fellows that there's nothing in it. That's
the only way to do. If you keep skulking off by yourself they'll think
So I am, muttered Don.
You're not, either! You've done nothing to be ashamed of! Keep that
in mind, you silly It. Now come along and we'll go up and jolly Tom a
Steve Edwards was not at home, but Amy Byrd was enthroned on the
window-seat when they entered in response to Tom's invitation, and Amy
had evidently been holding forth very seriously on some subject.
Don't mind us, said Tim. Go ahead, Amy, and get it off your
Hello, said Amy. Hello, Don, old man. Haven't seen you for an
age. Make yourselves at home. Never mind Tom, he's only the host. How
did you like the practice today, Tim?
I didn't see it, but I heard enough about it. It must have been
It was perfectly punk, growled Tom. I should think Robey would
want to throw up his hands and quit!
Did you see it, Don? asked Amy.
No, I didn't go over. What was the trouble?
Well, I'm no expert, replied Amy, taking his knees into his arms
and rocking gently back and forth on the seat, but I'd say in my
ignorant way that someone had unkindly put sleeping-potions in the milk
at training-table! The only fellow who seemed to have his eyes more
than half open was McPhee. Mac showed signs of life at long intervals.
The rest sort of stumbled around in their sleep. I think Peters
Oh, we're going to get a fine old drubbing next Saturday, said Tom
pessimistically. And what a fine exhibition for that chap Proctor!
I'll bet Robey could have kicked the whole team all the way back to the
gym. He looked as though it would have done him a world of good to have
a try at it!
Oh, well, these things happen, said Tim cheerfully. It's only a
slump. We'll get over it.
Slump be blowed! said Tom. This is a fine time to slump, five
days before the game!
I know that, too, but there's no use howling about it. What we
need, Tom, is to have you get back there at right guard, old man.
That's what I've been saying, exclaimed Amy earnestly. I want Tom
to go to Josh and ask him to let him play, but he won't. Says it
wouldn't be any good. You don't know whether it would or not, Tom,
until you try it. Look here, Josh doesn't want us to get beaten
Saturday any more than we want it ourselves, and if you sort of put it
up to him like that
I'd look well, wouldn't I? laughed Tom. Telling Josh that unless
he let me off pro the team would get licked! Gee, that's some modest,
You don't have to put it like that, replied Amy impatiently.
Bebe diplomatic. Tell him
What we ought to do, interrupted Tim, is get up a petition and
have everyone sign it.
I thought of that, too, said Amy, but this dunder-headed Turk
won't stand for even that.
Why not, Tom? asked Don.
And after that? asked Amy sweetly.
Well, look here, you chaps. Tom scowled intently for a moment.
Look here. It's this way. Josh put a bunch of us on pro, didn't he?
Well, what right have I to go and ask to be let off just because I
happen to be a football man? You don't suppose those other fellows like
it any better than I do, do you?
Oh, forget that! I'm one of them, and I'm having the time of my
life. It's been the making of me, Tom. I'm getting so blamed full of
learning that I'll be able to loaf all the rest of the year; live on my
income, so to say. And Amy beamed proudly.
That's all right, answered Tom doggedly, but I don't intend to
cry-baby. I'm just as much in it as any of you. If Josh wants to let us
all off, all right, but I'm not going to ask for aa special
You don't need to, said Tim. Let the fellows do it. That has
nothing to do with you. What's to keep us from going ahead and getting
up a petition?
Because I ask you not to, replied Tom simply. It's only fair that
we should all be punished alike.
But you're not, said Don.
We're not? Why aren't we? asked Tom in surprise.
Because you're getting it harder than Amy and Harry Westcott and
the others, answered Don quietly. They aren't barred from any sport,
and you are.
By Jove, that's a fact! exclaimed Amy.
Butbut we all got the same sentence, protested Tom.
I know you did, butDon smiledput it like this. I hate
parsnips; can't bear them. Suppose you and I were punished for
something we'd done by being made to eat parsnips three times a day
forfor a month! You like them, don't you? Well, who'd get the worst
of that? The sentence would be the same, but thethe punishment would
be a heap worse for me, wouldn't it?
'Father was right'! said Tim.
Oh, father never spoke a truer word! cried Amy, jumping up from
the window-seat. That settles it, Tom! Get some paper, Tim, and we'll
write that petition this minute and I'll guarantee to get fifty
signatures before ten o'clock!
You'll do nothing of the sort, said Tom stubbornly. Don talks
like a lawyer, all right, but he's all wrong. And, anyway, I'm out of
football and I'm going to stay out for this year. I've quit training
and I probably couldn't play if Josh said I might. So that
Oh, piffle, said Amy. Quit training! Everyone knows you never
quit training, Tom. You could go out there tomorrow and play as good a
game as you ever did. Don't talk like a sick duck!
There's no reason why I should play, though. Pryme's putting up a
Pryme is doing the best he knows how, said Tim, but Pryme can't
play guard as you can, Tom, and he never will, and you know it! Now
have a grain of sense, won't you? Just sit tight and let us put this
thing through. There isn't a fellow in school who won't be tickled to
death to sign that petition, and I'll bet you anything you like that
Josh will be just as tickled to say yes to it. Whatever you say about
Josh Fernald, you've got to hand it to him for being fair and square,
Josh is all right, sure. I haven't said anything against him, have
I? But I won't stand for any petition, fellows, so you might as well
get that out of your heads. Besides, my being on the team or off it
isn't going to make a half of one per cent's difference next Saturday.
There was silence in the room for a moment. Then Amy went dejectedly
back to the window-seat and threw himself on it at full length. I
think you might, Tom, he said finally, if only on my account!
Why on your account? laughed Tom.
Because I'm the guy that got you all into the mess, that's why. And
I've felt good and mean about it ever since. And now, when we think up
a perfectly good way toto undo the mischief I made, you act like a
mule. Think what a relief it would be to my conscience, Tom, if you got
off pro and went back and played against Claflin!
I don't care a continental about your conscience, Amy. In fact I
never knew before that you had one!
I've got a very nice one, thanks. It's well-trained, too. It
Amy's voice trailed off into silence and for the next five minutes or
so he took no part in the conversation, but just laid on the cushions
and stared intently at the ceiling. Then, suddenly, he thumped his feet
to the floor and reached for his cap.
What time is it? he demanded.
Most eight, said Tim. We'd better beat it.
What time began Amy. Then he stopped, pulled his cap on his
head and literally hurled himself across the room and through the door,
leaving the others to gaze at each other amazedly.
Well, what's wrong with him? gasped Tim.
He's got something in that crazy head of his, answered Tom
uneasily. Don't let him start that petition business, Tim, will you? I
don't want to seem mean or anything, you know, but I'd rather let
things be as they are. Come up again, fellows. And maybe today's
showing doesn't mean anything, Tim, just as you said. We'll hope so,
Faculty conferences took place on Monday evenings at half-past seven
in the faculty meeting room in Main Hall. At such times, with the
principal, Mr. Fernald, presiding at the end of the long table and all
members of the faculty able to attend ranged on either side, all and
sundry matters pertaining to the government of the school came up for
discussion. The business portion of the conference was followed by an
informal half-hour of talk, during which many of the students were
subjected to a dissection that would have surprised them vastly had
they known of it. Tonight, however, the executive session was still
going on and Mr. Brooke, the secretary, was still making notes at the
foot of the table, when there came a rap at the door.
Mr. Fernald nodded to Mr. Brooke. See who it is, please, he said.
The secretary laid down his pen very carefully on the clean square
of blue blotting-paper before him, pushed back his chair and opened the
door a few inches. When he turned around his countenance expressed a
sort of pained disapprobation. It's Byrd, sir, announced Mr. Brooke
in a low, shocked voice. He says he'd like to speak to you.
Byrd? Well, tell him I'm busy, replied the principal. If he wants
to wait I'll see him after the conference. AlthoughMr. Fernald
glanced at the clockit's only four minutes to eight and he'd better
get back to his room. Tell him I'll see him at the Cottage at nine, Mr.
Brooke. As I was saying, and Mr. Fernald faced the company again, I
think it would be well to arrange for a longer course this Winter. Last
year, as you'll recallEh? What is it?
He says, sir, that it's a faculty matter, announced Mr. Brooke
deprecatingly, and asks to be allowed to come in for a minute.
A faculty matter? Well, in that caseAll right, Mr. Brooke, tell
him to come in.
As Amy entered eight pairs of eyes regarded him curiously; nine, in
fact, for Mr. Brooke, closing the door softly behind the visitor, gazed
at him in questioning disapproval.
Well, Byrd, what can we do for you? Mr. Fernald smiled, doubtless
with the wish to dispel embarrassment. But he needn't have troubled
about that, for Amy didn't look or act in the least embarrassed. I'm
afraid, continued the principal, that I can't offer you a chair, for
we're rather busy just now. What was it you wanted to speak of?
I guess it looks pretty cheeky, sir, for me to butt in here,
replied Amy, with a smile, but it's rather important, sir, andand if
anything's to be done about it it'll have to be done tonight.
Really? Well, it does sound important. Suppose you tell us about
Thank you, sir. Amy paused, gathering his words in order. It's
this, Mr. Fernald: when we fellows were put on proprobation, I mean,
it was intended that we should all get the same punishment, wasn't it,
Let me see, that was the affair ofAh, yes, I recall it. Why,
yes, Byrd, naturally it was meant to treat you all alike. What
complaint have you?
It isn't exactly a complaint, sir. But it's this way. There were
nine of us altogether. It was my fault in the first place because I put
them up to it. They'd never thought of it if I hadn't. Amy glanced at
Mr. Moller. It was a pretty silly piece of business, sir, and we got
what we deserved. Butbut none of us meant toto hurt anyone's
feelings, sir. It was just a lark. We didn't think that
We'll allow that, Byrd. Please get down to the purpose of this
unusual visit, said Mr. Fernald drily.
Yes, sir. Well, eight of us it doesn't matter so much about. We
aren't football men and being on probation doesn't cut so muchI mean
it doesn't matter so much. But Tom Hall's a football man, sir, and it's
different for him. This is his last year here and losing his place on
the team was hard lines. That's what I'm trying to get at, sir. You
meant that we were all to be punished the same, but we weren't. It's
just about twice as hard on Tom as it is on the rest of us. You see
that, sir, don't you?
There was a moment of silence and then Mr. Simkins coughed. Or did
he chuckle? Amy couldn't tell. But the principal dropped his eyes and
tapped his blotter with the tip of the pencil he held. At last:
That's a novel point of view, Byrd, he said. There may be
something in it. But I must remind you that the Lawand the faculty
stands for the Law heretakes no cognisance of conditions
existinghem! Mr. Fernald glanced doubtfully down the table. Perhaps
it should, though. We'll pass that question for the moment. What is it
you suggest, Byrd?
Well, sir, the team's in punk shape. It was awful today. It needs
Tom, sir; needs him awfully. I don't say that we'll beat Claflin if he
should play, Mr. Fernald, but I'm mighty sure we won't if he doesn't.
And it seemed to me that maybe you and the other faculty members hadn't
thought of how much harder you were giving it to Tom than to the rest
of us, and that if you did know, realise it, sir, you'd maybe consider
that he'd had about enough and let him off so he might play Saturday.
The rest of us haven't any kick coming, sir. It's just Tom. And he
doesn't know that I'm here, either. We tried to get him to let us
petition faculty, but he wouldn't. He said he was going to take the
same punishment as the rest of us.
Then he doesn't agree with your contention, Byrd?
Oh, he sees I'm right, Mr. Fernald, but hehe's obstinate!
Mr. Fernald smiled, as did most of the others.
Byrd, I think you ought to take a law course, said the principal.
I might answer you as I started to by pointing out that it is no
business of ours whether a punishment is going to hit one fellow harder
than another; that just because it might should make that one fellow
more careful not to transgress. But you've taken the wind out of my
sails by getting me to testify that we intended the punishment to be
the same for all. You've put us in a difficult place, Byrd. If we
should lift probation in Hall's case it would seem that we had
different laws for team members than for boys unconnected with
athletics. You've made a very eloquent plea, but I don't just see
Mr. Fernald hesitated. Then: Possibly someone has some suggestion, he
added, and it seemed to Amy that his gaze rested on Mr. Moller for an
At all events it was the new member of the faculty who spoke. If I
might, sir, he said hesitatingly, I'd like to make the suggestion
that probation be lifted from all. It seems to me that that
wouldwould simplify things, Mr. Fernald.
Hm. Yes. Possibly. As the target of the extremely vulgar
proceeding, Mr. Moller, the suggestion coming from you bears weight.
Byrd, you'd better get to your studies. You'll learn our decision in
the morning. Your action is commendable, my boy, and we'll take that
into consideration also. Good-night.
Good-night, sir. Good-night, sirs. Thank you.
Amy retired unhurriedly, unembarrassedly, and with dignity, as
befitted one who had opened the eyes of Authority to the error of its
The next morning Mr. Fernald announced in chapel that at the request
of Mr. Moller, and in consideration of good behaviour, the faculty had
voted to lift probation from the following students: Hall
But just there the applause began and the other eight names were not
CHAPTER XXI. THE DOCTOR TELLS A
TUESDAY, with the return of all first-string players to the line-up
and the appearance of Tom Hall once more at right guard, practice went
about a hundred per cent better, and those who turned out to watch it
went back to the campus considerably encouraged. The showing of the
team naturally had an effect on the spirit of the mass meeting that
evening. Ever since the Southby game the school had been holding
meetings and getting up steam for the Claflin contest, but they had
been tame affairs in contrast with tonight's. Brimfield was
football-crazy now, for the Big Game loomed enormous but four days
away. Fellows read football in the papers, talked football and, some of
them, dreamed football. The news from Claflin was read and discussed
eagerly. The fortunes of the rival eleven were watched just as closely
as those of the home team. When a Claflin player wrenched an ankle
Brimfield gasped excitedly. When it was published that Cox, of the blue
team, had dropped fourteen goals out of twenty tries from the
thirty-five-yard line and at a severe angle, depression prevailed at
Brimfield. The news that the Claflin scrubs had held the first to only
one touchdown in thirty minutes of play sent Brimfield's spirits
soaring! Fellows neglected lessons brazenly and during that week of the
final battle there was a scholastic slump that would undoubtedly have
greatly alarmed the faculty if the latter, rendered wise by experience,
hadn't expected it.
The first team players were excused from study hour subsequent to
Monday in order that they might attend blackboard lectures and signal
drills in the gymnasium. On Tuesday night, after an hour's session, and
in response to public clamour, they filed onto the platform just before
the meeting was to begin at nine-fifteen and, somewhat embarrassedly,
seated themselves in the chairs arranged across the back. Mr. Fernald
was there, and Mr. Conklin, the athletic director, and Coaches Robey
and Boutelle, and Trainer Danny Moore, and Manager Morton and Childers,
captain of the baseball team. And Steve Payne was at the piano. Also,
sitting beside Mr. Robey, was Doctor Proctor.
Childers, who was cheer leader that Fall, presided, and, after the
assemblage had clapped and shouted A-a-ay! as each newcomer appeared
on the platform, opened proceedings with the School Song. Then Mr.
Fernald spoke briefly, Captain Edwards followed, each being cheered
loudly and long, and Childers introduced Mr. Robey. What we are all
anxious to know tonight, said Childers, is whether we're going to win
next Saturday. Mr. Fernald has said that he hopes we shall,
Captain Edwards has said that he thinks we shall, and now we're
going to hear from the only one who knows! Fellows, a long cheer
for Mr. Robey, and make it good! Are you all ready? Now then!
Brimfield! Brimfield! Brimfield! Rah, rah, rah! Rah, rah, rah! Rah,
rah, rah! Brimfield! Brimfield! Brimfield! Robey!
When the cheering, and the shouting and clapping and stamping that
followed for good measure, had quieted down, Mr. Robey said: Fellows,
Captain Childers is much too flattering. I'm not gifted with
second-sight, even if he thinks so. I don't know any more than he does
or you do whether we're going to win on Saturday. Like Mr. Fernald, I
hope we are and, like Captain Edwards, I think we are.
Cheers interrupted then. But I don't want to make any prediction. I'll
say one thing, though, and that is this: If the team plays the way it
can play, if it makes full use of the ability that's in it, there's
only one thing that can happen, and that's a Brimfield victory! I've
got every reason to expect that the team will do its utmost, and
that is why I say that I think we'll win. We must remember that we're
going up against a strong team, a team that in some ways has shown
itself so far this season our superior. I don't say that the Claflin
eleven is any better than ours. I don't think so, not for a
moment. Our team this Fall is as good as last year's team. We've had
our little upsets; we always do; but we've come down to practically the
eve of the game in good shape. Every fellow has done his best and, I am
firmly convinced, is going to do a little better than his best on
Saturday afternoon. And that little better is what will decide the
game, fellows. After the coaches have done their part and the players
have toiled hard and earnestly and enthusiastically, why then it all
comes down to fight! And so it's fight that's going to win the
You fellows must do your part, though. You must be right back of
the team, every minuteand let them know it. Cheering helps a team to
win, no matter what anyone may say to the contrary. Only cheer at the
right times, fellows. Just making a noise indiscriminately is poor
stuff. But I don't need to tell you this, I guess, because your cheer
leader knows what to do better than I do. But let the team know that
you're right with them, backing them up all the time, fighting behind
them, boosting them along! It counts, fellows, take my word for it!
And now there's one other thing I want to say before I make way for
someone who can really talk. It's this, fellows. Don't forget the team
that has helped us all season, the team that doesn't get into the
limelight. And don't forget the coach, who has worked just as hard,
perhaps a good deal harder, to develop that team than I've worked. I'm
going to ask you to show your appreciation of the unselfish devotion of
Coach Boutelle and one of the finest second teams Brimfield has ever
Mr. Robey bowed and retreated and Childers jumped to his feet.
A cheer for Coach Boutelle, fellows! he shouted. A long cheer and
a whopper! And, when it had been given lustily: And now one for the
second team! he cried. Everyone into it! Onetwothree! The
enthusiasm was mounting high now, and, after the cheer had died away,
there were demands for a song. We want to sing! proclaimed the
meeting. We want to sing!
Childers held up a hand. All right, fellows! Just a minute, please!
We've got a guest with us this evening, an honoured guest, fellows.
Those of you who know football history know his name as well as you
know the names of Heffelfinger and DeWitt and Coy and Brickley andand
many others in the Football Hall of Fame! I know you want to hear from
him and I hope he will be willing to say a few words. Childers glanced
at Doctor Proctor and the latter, smiling, shook his head
energetically. He says he will be glad to, fellows, continued
Childers mendaciously, amidst laughter, and so I'm going to call first
for a cheer forif the gentleman will pardon me'Gus' Proctor, famous
Princeton and All-America tackle, and after that we're going to listen
very attentively to him. Now, then, everyone into this! A long cheer
for Doctor Proctor!
I'm an awfully poor speaker, fellows, began the doctor, when he
had advanced to the front of the platform. I appreciate this honour
and if I don't do justice to the fine reputation youryour imaginative
cheer leader has provided me with you must try to forgive me. Speaking
isn't my line. If any of you would like to have a leg sawed off or
something of that sort I'd be glad to do it free of charge just to
prove thatwell, that there's something I can do fairly
I saw your team practice yesterday and I thought then that perhaps
an operation would benefit it. Then I saw it again today and discovered
that my first diagnosis was wrong. Fellows, I call it a good team. I
think you've got material there that's equal to any I've ever seen on a
school team. Your coach says he won't prophesy as to your game on
Saturday. I've known George Robey for ten years. He isn't a bad sort,
take him all around, but he's a pessimist of the most pessimistic sort.
He's the kind of chap who, if you sprang that old reliable one on him
about every cloud having a silver lining, would shrug his shoulders and
say, 'Humph! More likely nickel-plated!' That's the sort he is, boys.
Now I'm just the opposite, and, at the risk of displeasing George, I'm
going to tell you that, from what I've seen of the Brimfield football
team in practice, I'm firmly convinced that it's going to win!
Loud and prolonged cheering greeted that prediction, and it was
fully a minute before the speaker could proceed.
I've played the game in my day and I've coached teams, boys, and I
think I've got a little of what your coach disclaimed. I mean a sort
ofwell, not second-sight, but a sort of ability to tell what a team
will do from the looks of the players on it. In my profession we have
to study human nature a lot and we get so we can classify folks after
we've looked them over and watched them awhile. We make mistakes
sometimes, but on the whole we manage fairly well to put folks in the
classes they belong in. Doing that with the members of your team I find
that almost without exception they class with the kind of fellows who
don't like to be beaten! And when a fellow doesn't like to be
beaten he isn'tnot very often.
I think I can read in the faces I see here tonight a great deal of
that same spirit, and if the team has it and you fellows behind the
team have it, why, I wouldn't give a last year's plug-hat for Claflin's
chances next Saturday!
Football, continued Doctor Proctor presently, is a fine game.
It's fun to play and it's a wonderful thing to train a fellow's body
and mind. I've heard lots of folks object to it on various scores, but
I've never heard an objection yet that carried any weight. More often
than not those who run football down don't know the game. Why, if it
did no more than teach us obedience and discipline it would be worth
while. But it does far more than that. It gives us strong, dependable
bodies, it teaches us to thinkand think quick, and it gives us
courage, physical and moral. I'm going to tell you of an incident that
I witnessed only a few weeks since if you'll let me. I fear I'm taking
up too much time
There were cries of No, no! and Go ahead!
I'll try to be brief. Last Fall I was travelling on a train out my
way, to be exact some eighty miles west of Cincinnati, when we had an
accident. A freight train was slow about taking a side track and we
came along and banged into it. It was about five o'clock in the morning
and most of the passengers were asleep. A wreck's a nasty thing in any
case, but when it happens at night or before it is light enough to see
it is worse. The forward cars of our train and the freight caught fire
from the engines, and there was a good deal of loose steam around, and
things were pretty messy for awhile. There happened to be another
doctor on the train and, as soon as we got our bearings, we started a
first-aid camp alongside the track. Some of the passengers, mostly in
the day coaches up front, were badly burned and we had our hands full.
There is always more or less confusion in an affair of that sort
and it was some minutes after the accident before the rescue work got
under way. But one of the first rescuers I noticed was a young chap, a
boy in fact, probably about seventeen years old. He didn't have a great
deal on, I remember, but he was certainly Johnny-on-the-spot that
morning! It was he who brought the first patient to me, a little
dried-up Hebrew peddler I judged him, who had been caught under some
wreckage in the forward day-coach. He had a broken forearm and while I
was busy with him I saw this young chap climbing in and out of windows
and wading through wreckage and always coming out again with someone.
How many folks he pulled away from the flames and the scalding steam I
don't know, but I never saw anyone work harder or moremore
efficiently. Yes, efficiently is just the word I want! And I said to
myself at the time: 'That fellow is a football man! And I'll bet he's a
good one!' You see, it wasn't only that he had courage to risk himself,
but he had the ability to see what was to be done and to do it, and do
it quick! Why, he was pulling injured women and children and men from
those burning, overturned cars before a grown-up man had sensed what
had happened! And later on, when we'd done what we could for the burned
and scalded bodies and limbs, I got hold of the boy for a moment. I
asked him his name and he told it, and then I said: 'You've played
football, haven't you?' And he said he had, a little. He wasn't much of
a talker, and when some of us said some nice things about what he had
done he got horribly fussed and tried to get away. But someone wanted
to shake hands with him, and he wouldn't, and I saw that his own hand
was burned all inside the palm, deep and nasty. 'How did you do that?'
I asked him as I dressed it. Oh, he didn't know. He thought he'd got
his hand caught between some beams or something; couldn't get it out
for a minute. It wasn't much of a burn! Well, the wrecking train and a
hospital train came along about then and I lost sight of that chap, and
I didn't see him again.
I've told the story because I think it bears me out when I say that
football is fine training. I don't say that that boy wouldn't have been
just as brave and eager to help if he hadn't been a football player,
but I do maintain that he wouldn't have known what to do as readily or
how to do it and wouldn't have got at it as quickly. And when the
flames are eating their way back from car to car quickness means a
whole lot! That's the end of my story, boys. But while I've been
telling it I've been looking for some sign to tell me that you
recognised the hero of it. I don't find the sign and I'm puzzled.
Perhaps you're so accustomed to heroes here at Brimfield that one more
or less doesn't stir you. For the satisfaction of my own curiosity I'm
going to ask you if you know who I've been talking about.
A deep silence was the only answer. The doctor's audience looked
extremely interested and curious, but no one spoke.
I see. You don't know. Well, perhaps I'd better not tell then. But
a chorus of protest arose. The doctor hesitated, and his gaze seemed to
rest intently on a spot at one side of the hall and about half-way
back. Finally, when silence had fallen again: I guess I will tell, he
said. It can't do him or you any harm. It may help a little to know
that there's one amongst you fine enough to do what I've described.
I've never seen that boy from the moment the wrecking train reached the
scene of the wreck until tonight, and so I've never spoken to him
again. But as I sat on the platform here awhile ago I looked and saw
him. I don't forget faces very easily, and as you can understand, I
wasn't likely to forget his. As I say, I haven't spoken to him yet, but
I'm going to now.
There was a silence in which a dropped pin would have made a noise
like a crowbar. Half the audience had turned their heads in the
direction of Doctor Proctor's smiling gaze, but all eyes were fixed on
his lips. The breathless silence lengthened. Then the doctor spoke.
How is your hand, Gilbert? he asked.
CHAPTER XXII. COACH ROBEY IS PUZZLED
SOME twenty minutes later Don dropped into a chair in Number 6 and
heaved a deep sigh of relief. Gee, he muttered, I wouldn't go
through that again forfor a million dollars!
Tim chuckled as he seated himself beyond the table. Why not? he
asked innocently. I thought everyone treated you very nicely.
A smile flitted across Don's face. I suppose they did, onlyI
guess that was the trouble! I felt like an awful fool, Tim! Look here,
what did he have to go and tell everything he knew for? I was afraid he
was going to and I wanted like anything to sneak out of there, but the
place was so quiet I didn't have the nerve! At first I didn't suspect
that he had seen me. I didn't recognise him until he stood up to speak
this evening. Yesterday I thought he looked sort of familiar, but I
couldn't place him. Hehe talks too much!
He said some awfully nice things about you, old man.
He said a lot of nonsense, too! Exaggerated the whole thing, he
did. Why, to listen to him you'd think I saved about a thousand people
from certain death! Well, I didn't. I helped about six or seven folks
out of those cars. They were sort of rattled and didn't seem to know
enough to beat it.
They weren't in any danger, then?
No, not much. All they had to do was crawl out of the way.
Then they weren't any of them burned, Don?
A few were.
How about the man with the broken arm?
Oh, he'd got caught somehow. Don looked up and saw Tim's laugh.
Well, he added defensively, he needn't have told about it like that,
right out in front of the whole school, need he?
You bet he need! Donald, you're a bloomin', blushin' hero, and
we're proud of you! And when I say blushing I mean it, for you haven't
I guess you'd blush, growled Don, if it happened to you!
I dare say, but it never will. I'll never have the whole
school get up on their feet and cheer me like mad for three solid
minutes! And I'll never have Josh shake my hand off and beam at me and
tell me I'm a credit to the school! Such beautiful things are not for
poor little Tim!
Don sighed. Well, it's over with, anyway.
Over with, nothing! It won't be over with as long as you stay here,
Donald. A hero you are and a hero you remain, old chap. Andand I'm
mighty proud of you, you old humbug! Telling us you didn't do anything
but help lug folks to the relief train, or something!
I didn't say that, replied Don defensively.
You let us think it. Gee, if I'd done anything like that I'd have
put it in the papers! Tim chuckled and then went on seriously. You
don't need to worry about the fellows thinking you a quitter any more,
do you? I guess Proctor settled that once and for all, Don. And suppose
you'd run away home the other night. This wouldn't have happened and
fellows would have said you had a yellow streak. I guess it was a
mighty lucky thing you have little Tim to look after you, dearie!
I'm glad I didn't, said Don earnestly. I'd have made a worse mess
of it, shouldn't I? II'm sorry you got that punch, though, Timmy.
Forget it! It was worth it! Being the room-mate of a hero atones
for everything you ever did to me, Donald. I'm that proud
But Tim didn't finish, for Don started around the table for him.
* * * * *
At the time this conversation was taking place Mr. Robey and Doctor
Proctor were walking back to the former's room in the village through a
frosty, starlit night.
You certainly managed to spring a sensation, Gus, observed the
coach as they turned into the road.
I should say so! Well, that boy deserved all the cheering and
praise he received. And I'm glad I told that story.
Well, it's got me guessing, responded the other. Look here, Gus,
take a chap like the one you described tonight. What would you think if
he quit cold a week before the big game?
Quit? How do you mean, George?
Just that. Develops an imaginary illness. Tells you he doesn't feel
well enough to play, in spite of the fact that he has nothing more the
matter with him than you or I have. Probably not so much. Shows
absolute relief when you tell him he's dropped. What would you say to
You mean Gilbert did that? Mr. Robey assented. I wondered why he
wasn't on the platform with the rest of the team, mused the doctor.
I'd say there was something queer about it, George. When did this
Last week. Thursday or Friday, I think. He'd been laid off for a
day or so and I thought he'd gone a bit fine, although he's rather too
phlegmatic to suffer much from nerves. Some of the high-strung chaps do
go to pieces about this time and you have to nurse them along pretty
carefully. But Gilbert! Well, on Saturdayyes, that was the dayhe'd
been reported perfectly fit by the trainer and just as a matter of form
I asked him if he was ready to play. And, by Jove, he had the cheek to
face me and say he wasn't well enough! It was nonsense, of course. He'd
simply got scared. I told him so and dropped him. But it's curious that
a boy who could do what you told of this evening could prove a quitter
You say he seemed relieved when you let him go?
Yes, he showed it plainly.
That is funny! I wonder what the truth of it is?
Nerves, I suppose. Cold feet, as the fellows say.
Never! There's something else, old man, that you haven't got hold
of. Can he play?
Y-yes. Yes, he can play. He's the sort that comes slow and plays a
bit logy, but he's steady and works hard. Not a brilliant man, you
know, but dependable. He's been playing guard. Losing him has left us a
bit weak on that side, too.
Why not take him back then? Look here, George, you're a good coach
and all that, but you're a mighty poor judge of human nature.
It's so, though. You've only got to study that chap Gilbert to see
that he isn't the quitting kind. His looks show it, his manner shows
it, the way he talks shows it. He's the sort that might want to quit;
we all do sometimes; but he couldn't because he's got stuff in him that
wouldn't let him!
That's all well enough, Gus, but facts are facts. Gilbert did
quit, and quit cold on me. So theories don't count for much. And this
human nature flapdoodle
I don't say he didn't quit. But I do say that you've made the wrong
diagnosis, George. Did you talk to him? Ask him what the trouble was?
Go after the symptoms?
No, I'm no physician. He said he wasn't feeling well enough to
play. I told him we had no place for quitters on the team. He had
nothing to say to that. If you think I can feel the pulse and look at
the tongue of every fellow
Doctor Proctor laughed. And take his temperature too, eh? No, I
don't expect you to do that, George. But I'll tell you what I would do,
and I'd do it tomorrow too. I'd call around and see Gilbert. I'd tell
him that I wasn't satisfied with the explanation he'd made and I'd ask
him to make a clean breast of the trouble, for he must be in some
trouble or he wouldn't thank you for firing him. And then I'd stop
cutting off my nose to spite my face and I'd reinstate him tomorrow
Hmph! The trouble with you doctors is that you're too romantic. You
imagine things, you
We have to imagine, George. If we stuck to facts we'd never get
anywhere in our profession! You try a little imagination, old chap.
You're too matter-of-fact. What you can't see you won't believe in.
I certainly won't! As the kids say, seeing's believing.
Well, there's a very unattractive board fence across the road,
George. On the other side of it there are shrubs and grass. I can't see
them, but I know they're there.
More likely tin-cans and ashes, grunted Mr. Robey.
Pessimist! laughed the other. But never mind; ashes or grass,
something's there, and you can't see it and yet you've got to
acknowledge the existence of it. Now haven't you?
I suppose so, butMr. Robey laughedI'd rather see it!
Climb the fence and have a look then! But you'll try my plan with
the boy, won't you?
Yes, I will. If only to satisfy my curiosity, Gus. Hang it, the
chap can't be a quitter!
He isn't. I'll stake my reputation asas a romanticist on that!
I'd like mighty well to stay and solve the mystery with you, but I'll
have to jump for that early train. I wish, though, that you'd drop me a
line and tell me the outcome. I'm interestedand puzzled.
All right. I'm not much of a letter-writer, though. I'll see you
before you go back and tell you about it. You'll be in New York on
Sunday, won't you?
Until two o'clock. Have lunch with me and see me off. Come to the
hotel as early as you can and we'll hold post-mortems on the games.
Let's hope that Princeton and Brimfield both win next Saturday,
CHAPTER XXIII. CROSS-EXAMINATION
DON found being a hero an embarrassing business the next day. The
masters bothered him by stopping and shaking hands and saying nice
things, and the fellows beamed on him if they weren't well enough
acquainted to speak and insisted on having a full and detailed history
of that train-wreck if they were! Of course they all, masters and
students, meant well and wanted to show their admiration, but Don
wished they wouldn't. It made him feel horribly self-conscious, and
feeling self-conscious was distinctly uncomfortable. At breakfast table
his companions referred to last evening's incident laughingly and poked
fun at Don and enjoyed his embarrassment, but it wasn't difficult to
tell that Doctor Proctor's narrative had made a strong impression on
them and increased their liking for Don. When, just before Don had
finished his meal, Mr. Robey left the training-table and crossed the
room toward him he braced himself for another scene in which he would
have to stand up and be shaken by the hand, and possibly, and worst of
all, listen to some sort of an apology from the coach. But Don was
spared, for Mr. Robey only placed a hand on the back of his chair,
included the rest of the occupants of the table in his Good-morning,
and said carelessly: Gilbert, I wish you'd drop over to Mr. Conklin's
office some time this morning and see me. What time can you come?
Half-past ten, sir?
That will be all right, thanks.
The coach returned to his table, leaving Don wondering what was up.
Possibly, he thought, the coach wanted to make some sort of retraction
of his accusation of Saturday, although Don didn't believe that Mr.
Robey was the sort to funk a public apology. If it wasn't that it could
only be that he was to be offered his place on the team again. Don
sighed. That would be beastly, for he would have to tell more fibs, and
brand new ones, too, since not even a blind man would believe him ill
now! It was something of a coincidence that Don should run across
Walton in the corridor a few minutes later. Don was for passing by with
no recognition of the other, but Walton, with a smirk, placed himself
fairly in the way.
Great stuff, Gilbert, he said with an attempted heartiness. Some
hero, eh, what?
Drop it, Walton! Don lowered his voice, for others were passing
toward the doorway. And I'll thank you not to speak to me. You know my
opinion of you. Now shut up!
Walton found nothing to say until it was too late. Don approached
the gymnasium after his ten o'clock recitation with lagging feet. He
had scant taste for the impending interview and would have gladly
avoided it if such a thing had been possible. But he didn't see any way
out of it and he heard the big door bang to behind him with a sinking
heart. Why, he hadn't even thought up any new excuse!
Mr. Robey and Mr. Conklin, the athletic director, were both in the
latter's room when Don knocked at the half-opened door. Mr. Conklin
said Good-morning and then followed it with: I've got something to
attend to on the floor, Robey, if you'll excuse me, and went out,
closing the door behind him. Don wished he had stayed. He took the
chair vacated by the director and faced Coach Robey with as much ease
as he could assume, which was very little. The coach began without much
I didn't ask you over here to talk about last night, Gilbert, or to
offer you any apology for what I said on the field last Saturday. I
don't believe much in spoken apologies. If I'm wrong I show it and
there's no mistake about it. I think I was wrong in your case, Gilbert.
And I'll say so, if you like, very gladly, and act so if you'll prove
I don't want any apology, sir, answered Don. I guess you were
Well, that's what I want to find out. What was the trouble,
Why, just what I said, Coach. II didn't feel very fit and I
didn't think it would be any use playing, feeling like I did. If you
don't feel well you can't play very well, and so I thought I'd say so.
I didn't mind being dropped, sir. I deserved it. Andand that's quite
all right. Don got up, his eyes shifting to the door.
Wait a minute! Let's get the truth of this. You're lying, aren't
Don tried to look indignant and failed, tried to look hurt and
failed again. Then he gave it up and dropped his gaze before the
searching eyes of the other. I'm feeling some better now, he
Coach Robey laughed shortly. Gilbert, you can't lie worth a cent!
Now, look here. I'm your friend. Why not come across and tell me what's
up? I know you weren't sick. Danny gave you a clean bill of health that
morning. And I know you haven't got any nerves to speak of. There's
something else, Gilbert. Now what is it?
Then why did you act that way?
II just didn't want to play.
Didn't want to play! Why not?
I wasn't doing very well, and it was pretty hard work, and there
was Walton after the place, too. He could play better than I could.
Who told you so? Walton? asked the coach drily.
I could see it, murmured Don.
So you were suddenly afraid of hard work, eh? It had never bothered
you before, had it? Last year or this year either?
No, I guess not.
Perhaps it was more because you felt that Walton would be a better
man for the place, then? surmised the coach.
Don agreed eagerly. It was a case of any port in a storm by now and
he was glad enough to have the coach find an explanation. Yes, sir, I
guess that was it.
Well, that was generous of you, said the other approvingly. But
didn't it occur to you that perhaps I would be a better one to decide
that matter than you? You've never known me to keep a fellow on the
team for sentimental reasons, have you?
Hm. Now when was itI mean how long before last Saturday was
itthat you and Walton talked it over?
Sir? Don looked up startledly. Iwethere wasn't any talk about
it, he stammered.
Well, what did Walton say?
Don hesitated, studying Mr. Robey's face in the hope of discovering
how much that gentleman knew. Finally: When do you mean? he asked.
I mean the time you and Walton talked about which was the best man
for the position, replied the other easily. To himself he reflected
that he was following Gus Proctor's advice with a vengeance! But he was
by this time pretty certain of his ground.
I don't remember that we everexactly did that, Don faltered.
There was some talk, maybe, but hehe never said anything like that.
Why, that he was a better guard.
Then what put the idea in your head, Gilbert?
I suppose I just saw it myself.
But you were playing the position pretty regularly before Thursday
or whatever day it was you were taken ill, weren't you?
Then how could you tell that Walton was better?
I don't know. Hehe seemed better. And then Tim told me I was too
Tim Otis? Otis had better mind his own business, grumbled the
coach. So that was it, then. All right. I'm glad to get the truth
of the matter. The little tightening of Don's mouth didn't escape him.
Now, then, I'm going to surprise you, Gilbert. I'm going to surprise
you mightily. I'm going to tell you that Walton is not a better
left guard than you. He isn't nearly so good. That does surprise you,
Don nodded, his eyes fixed uneasily on the coach's.
Well, there it is, anyway. And so I think the best thing for all of
us, Gilbert, is for you to come back to work this afternoon.
Don's look of dismay quite startled the other.
But I'd rather not, sir! II'm out of practice now. I've quit
training. I've been eating all sorts of things; potatoes and fresh
bread and pastryno end of pastry, sir!andand candy
Mr. Robey grunted. You don't show it, he said. Anyway, I guess
that won't matter. I'll chance it. Three o'clock, then, Gilbert.
Don's gaze sought the floor and he shook his head. I'd rather not,
sir, if you don't mind, he muttered.
But I do mind. The team needs you, Gilbert! And now that I know
that you didn't quit because you were afraid
I did, though! Don looked up desperately. That was the truth of
Mr. Robey sighed deeply. Gilbert, he said patiently, if I
couldn't lie better than you can I wouldn't try it! You weren't afraid
and you aren't afraid and you know it and I know it! So, then, is it
After a moment Don nodded silently.
You think he's a better man than you are, eh?
Don nodded again, but hesitatingly.
Or you've taken pity on him and want him to play against Claflin,
Yes, sir. You see, his folks are going to be here and they'll
expect him to play!
Oh, I see. You and Walton come from the same town? But of course
you don't. How did you know his folks were coming, then?
He told me.
Aboutsome time last week.
Was it the day you had that talk about the position and which of
you was to have it?
I guess so. Yes, sir, it was that time.
And he, perhaps, suggested that it would be a nice idea for you to
back out and let him in, eh?
Don was silent.
Did he? insisted the coach.
He said that his folks were coming
And that he'd like to get into the game so they wouldn't be
Something like that, murmured Don.
And you consented?
Not exactly, but I thought it over andand
Mr. Robey suddenly leaned forward and laid a hand on Don's knee.
Gilbert, he asked quietly, what has Walton got on you?
CHAPTER XXIV. ALL READY,
THOSE who braved a chill east wind and went out that afternoon to
watch practice enjoyed a sensation, for when the first team came
trotting over from the gymnasium, a half-hour later because of a
rigorous signal quiz, amongst them, dressed to play, was Don Gilbert! A
buzz of surprise and conjecture travelled through the ranks of the
shivering onlookers, that speedily gave place to satisfaction, and as
Don, tossing aside his blanket, followed the first-string players into
the field a small and enthusiastic First Form youth clapped
approvingly, others took it up and in a moment the applause crackled
along the side line.
That's for you, whispered Tim to Don. Lift off your head-guard!
But Don glanced alarmedly toward the fringe of spectators and hid as
best he could behind Thursby! Practice went with a new vim today.
Doubtless the return of Don heartened the team, for one thing, and then
there was a snap of winter in the air that urged to action. The second
was as nearly torn to tatters this afternoon as it had ever been, and
the first scored twice in each of the two fifteen-minute periods.
Boutelle's Babies were a lame and tired aggregation when the final
Later it became known that Walton was out of it, had emptied his
locker and retired from football affairs for the year. All sorts of
stories circulated. One had it that he had quarrelled with Coach Robey
and been incontinently fired. Another that he had become huffy over
Gilbert's reinstatement and had resigned. None save Don and Coach Robey
and Walton himself knew the truth of the matter for a long time. Don
did tell Tim eventually, but that was two years later, when his vow of
secrecy had lapsed. Just now he was about as communicative as a sphinx,
and Tim's eager curiosity had to go unsatisfied.
But what did he say? Tim demanded after practice that
afternoon. He must have said something!
Don considered leisurely. No, nothing special. He said I was to
report for work.
Well, what did you say?
I said I would!
Well, what about Walton? Where does he get off?
I don't know.
Tim gestured despairingly. Gee, you're certainly a chatty party!
Don't tell me any more, please! You may say something you'll be sorry
I'll tell you some day all about it, Tim. I can't now. I said I
Then there is something to tell, eh? I knew it! You can't fool your
Uncle Dudley like that, Donald! Tell me just one thing and I'll shut
up. Did you and Walton have a row the time you went to see him in his
Don shook his head. No, we didn't.
Well, then, why
You said you'd shut up, reminded the other.
Oh, all right, grumbled Tim. Anyway, I'm mighty glad. Every
fellow on the team is as pleased as Punch. I guess the whole school is,
too. It was mighty decent of Robey, wasn't it? Do you know, Don,
Robey's got a lot of sense for a football coach?
Don often wondered what had occurred and been said at the interview
between Mr. Robey and Harry Walton. The coach had sworn Don to silence
at the termination of their interview. If Walton asks you whether you
told me about the business you can say you did, if you like. Or tell
him I wormed it out of you, which is just about what I did do. But
don't say anything to anyone else about it; at all events, not as long
as Walton's here. I'm going to find him now and have a talk with him. I
don't think you need be at all afraid of anything he may do after I get
through with him. You fellows clearly did wrong in outstaying leave
that night, but you had a fairly good excuse and if you'd had enough
sense to go to faculty the next morning and explain you'd have all got
off with only a lecture, I guess. Your mistake was in not confessing.
However, I don't consider it my place to say anything. It's an old
story now, anyhow. Be at the gym at three with your togs, Gilbert, and
do your best for us from now on. I'm glad to have you back again. What
I said that afternoon you'd better forget. I'll show the school that
I've changed my mind about you. I suppose I ought to make some sort of
an apology, but
Please don't say anything more about it, sir, begged Don.
Well, I'll say this, Gilbert: You acted like a white man in taking
your medicine and keeping the others out of trouble. You certainly
deserve credit for that.
I don't see it, replied the boy. I don't see what else I could
have done, Mr. Robey!
The coach pondered a moment. Then he laughed. I guess you're right,
at that! Just the same, you did what was square, Gilbert. All right,
then. Three o'clock. He held out his hand and Don put his in it, and
the two gripped firmly.
Hurrying back to Main Hall, Don regretted only one thing, which was
that he had in a way broken his agreement with Walton to say nothing
about their bargain. Coach Robey, though, had pointed out that the
agreement had been terminable by either party to it, and that in
confessing to him Don had been within his rights. Walton can now go
ahead and take the matter to faculty, as he threatened to do, said the
coach. Only, when I get through talking to him I don't think he will
And apparently he hadn't, for no dire summons reached Don from the
office that day or the next, nor did he ever hear more of the matter.
Walton displayed a retiring disposition that was new and novel. On such
infrequent occasions as Don ran across him Walton failed to see him.
The day of the game the latter was in evidence with his father, mother
and younger brother; Don saw him making the rounds of the buildings
with them and he wondered in what manner Walton had accounted to his
folks for his absence from the football team. Walton stayed on at
school, very little in evidence, until Christmas vacation, but when the
fellows reassembled after the recess he was not amongst them. Rumour
had it that he had been taken ill and would not be back. Rumour was
proved partly right, at all events, for Brimfield knew him no more.
* * * * *
The first and second teams held final practice on Thursday. The
first only ran through signals for awhile, did some punting and
catching and then disappeared, leaving the second to play two
fifteen-minute periods with a team composed of their own second-string
and the first team's third-string players. After that was over, the
second winning without much effort, the audience, which had cheered and
sung for the better part of an hour, marched back to the gymnasium and
did it some more, and the second team, cheering most enthusiastically
for themselves and the first and the school and, last but by no means
least, for Mr. Boutelle, joyously disbanded for the season.
There was another mass-meeting that evening, an intensely fervid
one, followed by a parade about the campus and a good deal of noise
that was finally quelled by Mr. Fernald when, in response to demands,
he appeared on the porch of the Cottage and made a five-minute speech
which ended with the excellent advice to return to hall and go to bed.
The players didn't attend the meeting that night, nor were they on
hand at the one that took place the night following. Instead, they
trotted and slithered around the gymnasium floor in rubber-soled shoes
and went through their entire repertoire of plays under the sharp eyes
of Coaches Robey and Boutelle. There was a blackboard lecture, too, on
each evening, and when, at nine-thirty on Friday, they were dismissed,
with practice all over for the year, most of them were very glad to
slide into bed as quickly as possible. If any of them had the jumps
that night it was after they were asleep, for the coach had tired them
out sufficiently to make them forget that such things as nerves were a
part of their system!
But the next morning was a different matter. Those who had never
gone through a Claflin contest were inclined to be finicky of appetite
and to go off into trances with a piece of toast or a fork-full of
potato poised between plate and mouth. Even the more experienced
fellows showed some indication of strain. Thursby, for instance, who
had been three years on the first team as substitute or first-choice
centre, who had already taken some part in two Claflin games, and who
was apparently far too big and calm to be affected by nerves, showed a
disposition to talk more than was natural.
Don never really remembered at all clearly how that Saturday morning
passed. Afterward he had vague recollections of sitting in Clint
Thayer's room and hearing Amy Byrd rattle off a great deal of
nonsensical advice to him and Clint and Tim as to how to conduct
themselves before the sacrifice (Amy had insisted that they should line
up and face the grand-stand before the game commenced, salute and
recite the immortal line of Claudius's gladiators: Morituri te
salutant!); of seeing Manager Jim Morton dashing about hither and
thither, scowling blackly under the weight of his duties; of wandering
across to the woods beyond the baseball field with Tim Otis and Larry
Jones and some others and sitting on the stone wall there and watching
Larry take acorns out of Tim's ears and nose; and, finally, of going
through a perfectly farcical early dinner in a dining hall empty save
for the members of the training-table. After that events stood out more
clearly in his memory.
Claflin's hosts began to appear at about half-past one. They wore
blue neckties and arm-bands or carried blue pennants which they had the
good taste to keep furled while they wandered around the campus and
poked inquisitive heads into the buildings. Then the Claflin team,
twenty-six strong, rolled up in two barges just before two, having
taken their dinner at the village inn, disembarked in front of Wendell
and meandered around to the gymnasium laden with suit-cases and things
looking insultingly care-free and happy, and, as it couldn't be denied,
Don, observing from the steps of Torrence, wondered how they managed
to appear so easy and careless. No one, as he confided to Tom Hall and
Tim, would ever suspect that they were about to do battle for the
Huh, said Tom, that's nothing. That's the way we all do when we
go away to play. It's this sticking at home and having nothing to do
but think that takes the starch out of you. When you go off you
feel as if you were on a lark. Things take your mind off your troubles.
But, just the same, a lot of those grinning dubs are doing a heap of
worrying about now. They aren't nearly as happy as they look!
They're a lot happier than they're going to be about three hours
from now, said Tim darkly. That struck the right note, and Tom and Don
laughed, and Tim laughed with them, and they all three put their
shoulders back and perked up a lot!
And then it was two o'clock and they were pulling on their togs in
the locker-room; and Danny Moore was circulating about in very high
spirits, cracking jokes and making them laugh, and Coach Robey was
dispatching Jim Morton and Jim's assistant on mysterious errands and
referring every little while to his red-covered memorandum book and
looking very untroubled and serene. And then there was a clamping of
feet on the stairs above and past the windows some two dozen pairs of
blue-stockinged legs moved briskly as the visitors went across to the
field for practice. And suddenly the noise was stilled and Coach Robey
was telling them that it was up to them now, and that they hadn't a
thing in the world to do for the next two hours but knock the tar out
of those blue-clad fellows, and that they had a fine day for it! And
then, laughing hard and cheering a little, they piled out and across
the warm, sunlit grass, past the line of fellow-students and home-folks
and towners, with here and there a pretty girl to glance shyly and
admiringly at them as they trotted by, and so to the bench. Nerves were
gone now. They were only eager and impatient. Squads out! sang Mr.
Robey. Off came sweaters and faded blankets and they were out on the
gridiron, with Carmine and McPhee cheerily piping the signals, with
their canvas legs rasping together as they trotted about, and with the
Brimfield cheer sounding in their ears, making them feel a little
chokey, perhaps, but wonderfully strong and determined and proud!
And presently they were back in front of the bench, laughing at and
pummelling one another, and the rival captains and the referee were
watching a silver coin turn over and over in the sunlight out there by
the tee in midfield. Behind them the stand was packed and colourful.
Beyond, Brimfield was cheering lustily again. Across the faded green,
at the end of the newly-brushed white lines, nearly a hundred Claflin
youths were waving their banners and cheering back confidently.
Claflin kicks off, sang Captain Edwards. We take the west goal.
Come on, fellows! Everyone on the jump now!
A long-legged Claflin guard piled the dirt up into a six-inch cone,
laid the ball tenderly upon it, viewed the result, altered it, backed
off and waited.
All ready, Claflin? All ready, Brimfield?
The whistle blew.
CHAPTER XXV. TIM GOES OVER
COACH ROBEY put his best foot forward when the first period started
by presenting the strongest line-up he had. Fortunately, Brimfield had
reached the Claflin game with every first-string man in top shape,
something that doesn't often happen with a team. There was Captain
Edwards at left end, Thayer at left tackle, Gilbert at left guard,
Thursby at centre, Hall at right guard, Crewe at right tackle, Holt at
right end, Carmine at quarter, St. Clair at left half, Otis at right
half and Rollins at full.
Opposed to them was a team fully their equal in age, weight and
experience. The Claflin forwards were a bit taller and rangier, and
their centre, unlike Thursby, was below rather than above average size.
Behind their line, the four players were, with the exception of Grady,
full-back, small and light. But they were known to be fast and heady
and Claflin didn't make the mistake of underestimating their ability.
The left half, Cox, was a broken-field runner of renown as well as
Claflin's best goal-kicker. Perhaps it would have been difficult that
fall to have picked two teams to oppose each other that were more
evenly matched than those representing the Maroon-and-Grey and the
For the first few minutes of play each eleven seemed to be feeling
out its opponent. Two exchanges of punts gained ground for neither
side. Brimfield got her backfield working then on her twenty yards and
St. Clair and Tim tried each side of the blue line and in two downs
gained a scant six yards. Rollins punted out at Claflin's forty-seven.
The Blue got past Hall for two and slid off Holt for three more. The
next rush failed and Claflin punted to Carmine on the fifteen. The
Blue's ends were down on Carmine and he was stopped for a five-yard
gain. Rollins tried a forward pass to Edwards, but threw short and the
ball grounded. Tim Otis ran the left end for four and, on a delayed
pass, Rollins heaved himself through centre for the distance, and
Brimfield cheered loudly when the linesmen pulled up stakes and trailed
the chain ten yards nearer the centre of the field.
A second forward pass was caught by Holt, but he was brought down
for a scant three-yard gain. Once more Rollins attempted the centre of
the blue line, but this time he was stopped short. On third down
Rollins punted and Claflin caught on her forty and ran the ball back to
the middle of the field. Claflin then found Crewe for four yards and
completed her distance on a straight plunge between Gilbert and Thayer.
It was the Blue's turn to cheer then and she performed valiantly.
Claflin tried Edwards's end, but made nothing of it, poked Cox past
Crewe for a couple of yards, made three around Holt and then punted.
St. Clair misjudged the distance and the ball went over his head and
there was a scamper to the goal line. Carmine finally fell on the ball
for a touchback and the excitement in the stands subsided. Brimfield
smashed Otis at the Blue's centre and reached the twenty-five-yard
line. St. Clair made three on a skin-tackle play at the right and
Rollins got the distance on a plunge after a fake-kick. Brimfield again
made first down on the forty-two yards and her supporters howled
gleefully. A moment later they had new cause for rejoicing when Rollins
pegged the ball across the field to Edwards and the Maroon-and-Grey's
captain scampered and dodged along the side of the field for thirteen
yards before he was tackled. Time was called for a Claflin back and
Brimfield drew off for a consultation, the result of which was seen in
the next play.
Carmine called Gilbert to the right side of centre, the backs spread
themselves in wide formation ten yards behind the line and Steve
Edwards, as the first signal began, ran back, straightened out as the
ball was snapped, raced along behind his forwards and swept around his
right end. Claflin's right end and half-back plunged outside of Thayer,
were met by St. Clair and Rollins, and Carmine, having taken the ball
on a long pass from Thursby, raced past them and then swung quickly in
and found an almost clear field ahead.
Two white lines passed under his twinkling feet and then, near the
twenty, he was challenged by a Claflin back. Carmine eluded him,
crossed a third line, found himself confronted by the Blue's quarter,
attempted to slip by on the outside, was tackled and borne struggling
across the side line and deposited forcibly on the ground.
When the ball was stepped in by the referee it was set down some
four inches inside the fifteen-yard line. In the stands and along the
side of the field Brimfield was cheering triumphantly, imploringly, and
waving her banners. The linesmen scampered in obedience to the
referee's waving arm.
First down! shouted the official. All right, Brimfield? Ready,
Claflin? The whistle piped again.
Rollins was stopped squarely on a try at right guard and Otis made a
scant three past the left tackle. Under the shadow of her goal-posts,
Claflin was digging her cleats in the turf and fighting hard. Rollins
went back. Get through, Claflin! Block this kick! cried the Blue's
quarter-back. Get through! Get through! Back went the ball
from Thursby, a trifle high but straight enough, Rollins poised it,
swung his leg, and then, tucking the pigskin under his arm, sprang away
to the left. Shouts of alarm, cries of warning, the hurried rush of
feet and rasping of canvas! Bodies crashed together and went down.
Rollins, at the ten yards now, side-stepped and got past a blue-legged
defender, turned in and went banging straight into the mêlée. Arms
clutched at him. He was stopped momentarily. Then he wrested free,
plunged on for another yard and went to earth.
Second down! cried the referee when he had bored through the pile
of squirming bodies and found the ball. He glanced along the five-yard
line, set the pigskin to earth again, and About two feet to go! he
added. Brimfield was shouting incessantly now, standing and waving.
Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Across the field Claflin sent back
a dogged chant: Hold 'em, Claflin! Hold 'em, Claflin! Hold 'em,
But surely Claflin couldn't do that! It seemed too much to ask or
expect. Otis made it first down off left tackle, placing the ball on
the three yards. Before the next play could be started the period ended
and the teams flocked to the water pails and then tramped down to the
other end of the field. The cheering never paused, even if the playing
did. Childers, red-faced and perspiring, kept the Brimfield section
busy every instant. Once more, now! A long cheer with nine
'Brimfields'! That's good! Keep it up! We're going to score, fellows!
Let's have it again! All into it!
Only three yards to go and four downs to do it! Claflin lined up
desperately, her forwards digging their toes barely inside their last
line, her backfield men skirmishing anxiously about behind it. Push
'em back, Claflin! You can do it! Don't give 'em an inch! Stop 'em
right here, fellows! Low, low, get low, you fellows! Charge into
'em and smother this play! The Claflin quarter, pale of face, thumped
crouching backs and watched the foe intently.
Put it over now! shrilled Carmine. Here we go! Get down there,
Rollins leaped forward, took the ball from Carmine and smashed
straight ahead. There was a moment of doubt. His plunging body stopped,
went on, stopped, was borne back.
Second down! Two and a half to go!
Again the signals, the line shifted, Claflin changed to meet the
shift. St. Clair slewed across and slammed past the Claflin left
tackle. But the secondary defence had him in the next instant and he
was thrust, fighting, back and still back. But he had gained. A yard
and a half! proclaimed the referee.
You've got to do it, Brimfield! shouted Edwards intensely. Don't
let them get the jump on you like that! Get into it, Crewe! Watch that
man, Gilbert! Come on now! Put it over!
Signals! shrieked Carmine. Make it go this time! Over with it!
Back went Rollins, hands outstretched. Fake! shouted Claflin.
Watch the ball! Watch the ball!
Rollins's arms fell, empty, as St. Clair grabbed the pigskin and
swept wide to the right. In! In! cried Carmine. St. Clair
turned and shot toward the broken line. His interference did its part,
but the Claflin left end had fooled Holt and it was that blue-legged
youth who got St. Clair and thumped him to the sod. An anxious,
breathless moment followed. Brimfield called for time and St. Clair, on
his back, kicked and squirmed while they pumped the air back into his
lungs. The referee, kneeling over the ball, squinted along the line.
Fourth down and about two to go! he announced.
St. Clair had lost a half-yard! Claflin cheered weakly. Steve
Edwards and Carmine consulted.
We'd better kick it over, said Carmine. They're getting the jump
on us every time, Steve. Carmine's voice was husky and he had to gasp
his words out. Steve, panting like an engine, shook his head.
We need the touchdown, he said. We'll put it over. Try 11. Tim
can make it.
St. Clair walked back to his place. The whistle sounded again. Come
on, Brimfield! gasped Carmine. This is your last chance! If you don't
do it this time you'll never do it! Play like you meant it! Stop your
fooling and show 'em football! Every man into this and make it go! Hall over! Signals! Hall pushed his way to the left of the line.
Claflin shuffled to meet the change. Signals! 833811106!
Signals! cried St. Clair. Carmine turned on him, snarling.
Use your bean! Change signals! Hall over! 61161137!
Back shot the ball to the quarter. Off sped St. Clair around his
end, followed by Rollins. Carmine crouched, back to the line, while he
counted five. Then Tim Otis shot forward, took the delayed pass, jammed
the ball against his stomach and went in past Thursby on the right.
Tim struck the line as if shot out of a gun. There was no hole
there, but Tim made one. If the secondary defence, overanxious, had not
been fooled by that fake attack at their end Tim would never have
gained a foot. But as it was Claflin was caught napping in the centre
of her line. Tim banged against a brawny guard, Carmine, following him
through, added impetus, the Claflin line buckled inward! Shouts and
grunts, stifled groans of despair from the yielding blue line! Then
Brimfield closed in behind Tim and he was borne off his feet and on and
over to fall at last in a chaos of struggling bodies well across the
The ball went over to the right of the goal and Carmine decided on a
punt-out. Unfortunately, Thayer juggled the catch and so Brimfield lost
her try-at-goal. But six points looked pretty big just then and
continued to look big all the rest of the half and during the
succeeding intermission. Brimfield's supporters were confident and
happy. They sang and cheered and laughed, and the sun, sinking behind
the wooded ridge, cast long golden beams on the flaunting maroon
And then the teams came trotting back once more and cheers thundered
forth from opposing stands. Howard had taken St. Clair's place, it was
seen, and Claflin had replaced her right guard. But otherwise the teams
were unchanged. Brimfield kicked off and Claflin brought her supporters
to their feet by running the ball back all the way to the
forty-five-yard line. That was Cox, the fleet-footed and elusive, and
the Blue's left half got a mighty cheer from his friends and generous
applause from the enemy. After that Claflin tried a forward pass and
gained another down, and then, from near the middle of the field,
marched down to Brimfield's thirty-three before she was stopped. The
Maroon-and-Grey got the ball on downs by an inch or two only.
Brimfield tried the Claflin ends out pretty thoroughly and with Otis
and Howard carrying, took back most of Claflin's gain. But a forward
pass finally went to a Claflin end instead of Holt and the tables were
suddenly turned. It was the Blue's ball on Brimfield's forty-six then,
and Claflin opened her bag of tricks. Just how Cox got through the
centre of the Brimfield line no one ever explained satisfactorily, but
get through he did, and after he was through he romped past Otis and
Rollins and raced straight for the goal. Carmine and Howard closed in
on him and it was Carmine who brought him down at last on the twelve
How Claflin shouted and triumphed then! The Blue came surging down
the field to line up against the astounded enemy, determination written
large on every countenance. A plunge at Gilbert gained a yard and was
followed by a three-yard gain off Holt. Then Claflin fumbled and
recovered for a two-yard loss and, with eight to go on fourth down,
decided that a goal from field was the best try. And, although
Brimfield tried hard to get through to the nimble-footed Cox, and did
smear the Blue's line pretty fairly, the ball went well and true across
the bar, and the 0 on the score-board was changed to a 3!
CHAPTER XXVI. LEFT GUARD GILBERT
THAT finished the scoring in the third period. All that Claflin
could do was to bring back Brimfield's punts and try desperately to
find holes in the maroon-and-grey line that weren't there. Both teams
were showing the effects of hard playing, and when the third quarter
ended substitutes were hurried in from both benches. For Brimfield,
McPhee relieved Carmine, Lee went in for Holt and Sturges for Crewe.
Claflin put in a new right end, a fresh full-back and returned her
original right guard to the line-up.
McPhee brought instructions from Coach Robey. Brimfield was to hold
what she had and play the kicking game. If she got within the Blue's
thirty-yard line she was to let Rollins try a drop-kick.
Rollins punted regularly on second down and just as regularly
Claflin rushed until the fourth and then punted back. After five
minutes of play, during which the ball went back and forth from one
thirty-yard line to the other, it dawned on Claflin that she was making
no progress. A new full-back trotted in and displayed his ability by
sending the ball over McPhee's head on his first attempt. Fortunately,
though, the punt, while long, was much too low, and McPhee had plenty
of time to go after the pigskin, gather it in and run back a dozen
yards before the Claflin ends reached him. But after that McPhee played
further back and Rollins put still more power into his drives.
With almost ten minutes of the final period gone, Claflin, grown
desperate, tried what forward passing would do. The first time, she
lost the ball to Thayer, and Clint got ten yards before he was thrown,
but the second attempt went better and Cox, who made the catch, ran
across three white lines and only stopped when Edwards dragged him down
from behind. Claflin got another first down by two plunges at the right
of the opponent's line and a wide end-run. Then a penalty set her back
fifteen yards and she had to punt after two ineffectual attempts at
rushing. Otis got through for five yards and then Rollins punted again.
The head linesman announced five minutes to play. On the stands the
spectators were beginning to depart. Claflin was back on her
thirty-five yards, banging desperately at the maroon-and-grey line,
desperately and a bit hopelessly. A forward pass was knocked down by
Captain Edwards, an assault at the left of the Brimfield line was
smeared badly, Cox tried the other end and was laid low for a loss.
Howard, on a double pass, swept around the enemy's left for fifteen
yards and then squirmed past tackle for six more. Rollins kicked to
Claflin's ten and Edwards nailed the Blue's quarter before he could
move. Brimfield cheered encouragingly. But Claflin, after getting four
around Sturges, punted out of danger to Brimfield's forty-seven.
Three minutes! announced the timekeeper.
Otis got two at centre and Rollins again fell back to kick. The ball
came to him low and he juggled it. Claflin poured through the right of
the line, the ball bounded back from some upthrown arm and went dancing
along the field. Blue players and maroon dashed after it. Hall almost
had it, but was toppled aside by a Claflin man. Carmine dived for it
and missed. Then Tim Otis and a Claflin forward dropped upon it
simultaneously and struggled for its possession. Tim always maintained
that he got more of it than his opponent, and got it first, but the
referee awarded it to Claflin and dismayedly Brimfield gathered
together and lined up only twenty yards from her goal!
[Illustration: The runner smashed into sight, wild-faced for an
instant before he put his head down and charged in]
Two minutes, fellows! shouted the Claflin quarter-back exultantly.
We've got time to do it! Come on now, come on! We can win it right
now! All together, Claflin! We've got them on the run! They're all-in!
They're ready to quit!
The Claflin full-back faked a kick and circled around Lee's end for
a six-yard gain. Then the Blue's right half plugged the line and got
three more past Hall. It was one to go on third down. Another attack on
Hall was pushed back, but Claflin made it first down by sending Cox
squirming around Thayer. The ball was on the eleven yards now. It was
Brimfield's turn to know the fear of defeat. Edwards implored and
bullied. Claflin banged at Gilbert for a yard. A quarter-back run
caught Steve Edwards napping and put the pigskin on the seven yards.
Brimfield's adherents, massed along the side line, shouted defiantly.
Across the darkening, trampled field, the Claflin cohorts were
imploring a touchdown.
Third down! Six to go! shouted the referee, hurrying out of the
On side, Claflin right end and tackle! warned the umpire.
The signals came again and the Claflin full-back smashed into the
left of the opposing team. But it was like striking a stone wall that
time. Perhaps the ball nestled a few inches nearer the goal, but no
more than that. It was Don who bore the brunt of that attack and after
the piled-up bodies had been pulled aside he and the Claflin full-back
remained on the ground. On came the trainers with splashing buckets.
Don came to with the first swash of the big, smelly sponge on his face.
Danny Moore was grinning down at him.
Are ye hurt? he asked.
Don considered that a moment. Then he shook his head. I'mall
right,Danny, he murmured. Justhelp meup.
Don't be in a hurry. Take all the time the law allows ye. Danny's
fingers travelled inquiringly over the boy's body. Where do you feel
it? he asked.
Don kept his eyes stoically on the trainer's. If he flinched a
little when Danny's strong fingers pressed his right shoulder it was so
little that the trainer failed to see it. Nearby, the Claflin full-back
was already on his feet. Tim came over and knelt by the trainer's side.
Anything wrong, Don? he asked in a tired, anxious voice.
Not a thing, replied Don cheerfully. Give me a hand, will you?
I'm sort of wabbly, I guess.
On the side line Pryme, head-guard in hand, was trotting up and
down. Coach Robey was looking across intently. Don shook himself,
stretched his armsno one ever knew what that cost him!and trotted
around a few steps. Then, out of the corner of his eyes, he saw the
coach say something to Pryme, saw the disappointed look on the
substitute's face and was half sorry for him. The whistle blew again
and Don was crouching once more beside Thursbywhy, no, it wasn't
Thursby any longer! It was Peters, stout, complacent Peters, wearing a
strangely fierce and ugly look on his round countenance!
Now hold 'em, Brimfield! chanted McPhee. Hold 'em hard! Don't let
them have an inch!
Far easier said than done, though! A quick throw across the end of
the line, a wild scramble and jumble of arms, a faint Down!
and, at the right end of the Brimfield line, a mound of bodies with the
ball somewhere down beneath and to all appearances across the goal
line! Anxious moments then! One by one the fallen warriors were pulled
to their feet while into the pile dove the referee. The timekeeper
hovered nearby, watch in hand. Then the referee's voice:
Claflin's ball! First down! A foot to go!
Line-up! Line-up! shrieked the Claflin quarter. We've got time
yet! Put it over!
Fight, Brimfield! shouted Steve Edwards. There's only forty
seconds! Hold them off! Don't let them get it! Tom! Peters! Don! Get
into it now!
Then a moment of silence save for the gasping breath of the players.
The Claflin quarter shouted his signals, the ball sped back, the lines
heaved. Straight at the left guard position plunged the back. Stop
him! growled Peters. The secondary defence leaped to the rescue.
Back went the man with the ball. Down! he cried in smothered
tones. The referee pushed in and heeled the mark.
Second down! A foot and a half to go!
Don knew now that if he had fooled Danny Moore he had not fooled the
Claflin quarter-back. That quarter knew or guessed that he had been
hurt and was playing for him. Don gritted his teeth and ground his
cleats into the sod. Well, they'd see!
The signals again, broken into by Steve Edwards's shrill voice in
wild appeal. Steve was wellnigh beside himself now. Peters was growling
like a bear in a cage. Then again the plunge, hard and quick, the whole
Claflin backfield behind it! Don felt an intolerable pain as he pushed
and struggled. Despair seized him for an instant, for he was being
borne back. Then someone hurtled into him from behind, driving the
breath from his lungs, and he was staggering forward.
Peters was yanking him to his feet, a wild-eyed Peters mouthing
strange exultant words. They can't do it! No, never! Not if they were
to try all night! We put 'em back again, Gilbert! We'll do it again!
Come on, you blue-legged babies! Try it again! You'll never do it!
Don, dazed, swaying giddily, groped back to his place. Thayer was
muttering, too, now. Don wondered if they were all crazy. He was quite
certain that he was, for otherwise things wouldn't revolve around him
in such funny long sweeps. Then his mind was suddenly clear again. The
Claflin quarter was hurling his signals out hurriedly, despairingly,
fighting against time. Don didn't listen to those signals for he knew
where the attack would come. And he was right, for once more the blue
right guard and tackle sprang at him to bear him back. And then the
runner smashed into sight, wild-faced for an instant before he put his
head down and charged in. But Don didn't yield. Peters, roaring loudly,
was fighting across him, and, front and rear, reinforcements hurled
themselves into the mêlée. Don closed his eyes, every muscle in his
body straining forward. A roar of voices came to him only dimly. Ages
* * * * *
He wondered if Danny Moore had nothing better to do than eternally
swab his face with that beastly old sponge! Why didn't he pick on some
other fellow? Don felt quite aggrieved and tried to say so, but
couldn't seem to make any sound. Then he realised that he had forgotten
to open his lips. When he did he got a lot of cold water in his mouth
and that made him quite peevish. He tried to raise his right hand,
changed his mind about it and raised his left instead. With that he
pushed weakly at the offending sponge.
Take it away, he muttered. I'mdrowned.
Can you walk or will we carry you? asked Danny in businesslike
Walk, said Don indignantly. Let me up. Recollection returned.
Did they make it? he gasped.
They did not. Lie still a bit.
Yes, but Don's voice grew faint and he closed his eyes again.
The sponge gave a final pat and disappeared. Whatwhat down was
that? asked Don anxiously.
Thenthen they've got another! Help me up, Danny, will you? We've
got to stop them, you know. I don't believe theycan do it, do you? We
put them back twice, you know.
Sure you did, said the trainer soothingly. Here you are, Tim.
Take his feet. And you get your arm under his middle, Martin. So!
Careful of the shoulder, boys. He's got a fine broken blade in there!
Wait! Don kicked Tim's hands away from his ankles as, raised to a
sitting posture by Danny and Martin, his puzzled glance swept the
field. Where'swhere's everyone? he gasped.
If you mean the team, laughed Tim, they're beating it for the
Oh! said Don. Butbut what happened? They didn'this voice
sankthey didn't do it, did they, Tim?
Of course they didn't, old man! We pushed them back three times and
we'd have done it again if the whistle hadn't saved them!
Then we won! exclaimed Don.
Surest thing you know, dearie! If you don't believe it listen to
that band of wild Indians over in front of the gym! Now are you ready
to be lugged along?
Yes, thanks, sighed Don.