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THE
ARRIVAL OF JIMPSON

And Other Stories
for Boys about Boys

BY

RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

AUTHOR OF BEHIND THE LINE, WEATHERBY’S INNING,
ON YOUR MARK! ETC.

ILLUSTRATED

logo

New York
D. Appleton and Company
1904


Copyright, 1904, by
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

Published, September, 1904


TO

H. D. R.

IN MEMORY OF THE
WINTER OF ’98-’99


The following stories first appeared in St. Nicholas, The Youth’s Companion, Pearson’s Magazine, and The Brown Book. To the editors of these periodicals the author’s thanks are due for permission to republish the tales.

CONTENTS

The Arrival of Jimpson
Barclay’s Bonfire
Marty Brown—Mascot
Parmelee’s “Spread”
“No Holding”
Class Spirit
The Father of a Hero
The Hazing of Satterlee 2d
A Pair of Poachers
Brewster’s Début
“Mittens”

THE ARRIVAL OF JIMPSON

Copyright, 1898, by The Century Co. All rights reserved.

I
THE DEPARTURE

The rain fell in a steady, remorseless drizzle upon the rain-coats and umbrellas of the throng that blocked the sidewalks and overflowed on to the car-tracks; but the fires of patriotism were unquenchable, and a thousand voices arose to the leaden sky in a fierce clamor of intense enthusiasm. It had rained all night. The streets ran water, and the spouts emptied their tides between the feet of the cheerers. The lumbering cars, their crimson sides glistening, clanged their way carefully through the crowds, and lent a dash of color to the scene. The back of Grays loomed cheerless and bleak through the drizzle, and beyond, the college yard lay deserted. In store windows the placards were hidden behind the blurred and misty panes, and farther up the avenue, the tattered red flag above Foster’s hung limp and dripping.

Under the leafless elm, the barge, filled to overflowing with departing heroes, stood ready for its start to Boston. On the steps, bareheaded and umbrellaless, stood Benham, ’95, who, with outstretched and waving arms, was tempting the throng into ever greater vocal excesses.

“Now, then, fellows! Three times three for Meredith.”

“’Rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! Meredith!” A thousand throats raised the cry; umbrellas clashed wildly in mid-air; the crowd surged to and fro; horses curveted nervously; and the rain poured down impartially upon the reverend senior and the clamorous freshman.

“Fellows, you’re not half cheering!” cried the relentless Benham. “Now, three long Harvards, three times three and three long Harvards for the team.”

“Har-vard, Har-vard, Har-vard! ’Rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! Har-vard, Har-vard, Har-vard! Team!”

Inside the coach there was a babel of voices. Members of the eleven leaned out and conversed jerkily with friends on the sidewalk. Valises and suit-cases were piled high in the aisle and held in the owners’ laps. The manager was checking off his list.

“Cowper?”

“Here.”

“Turner?”

“All right.”

“Truesdale?”

“Hey? Oh, yes; I’m here.” The manager folded the list. Then a penciled line on the margin caught his eye.

“Who’s Jameson? Jameson here?”

“Should be Jimpson,” corrected the man next to him; and a low voice called from the far end of the barge:

“Here, sir.” It sounded so much like the response of a schoolboy to the teacher that the hearers laughed with the mirth begot of tight-stretched nerves. A youth wearing a faded brown ulster, who was between Gates, the big center, and the corner of the coach, grew painfully red in the face, and went into retirement behind the big man’s shoulder.

“Who is this fellow Jimpson?” queried a man in a yellow mackintosh.

“Jimpson? He’s a freshie. Trying for right half-back all fall. I suppose Brattle took him along, now that Ward’s given up, to substitute Sills. They say he’s an A 1 runner, and plucky. He’s played some on the second eleven. Taunton told me, the other day, that he played great ball at Exeter, last year.”

The strident strains of the Washington Post burst out on the air, urging the cheerers to even greater efforts. They were cheering indiscriminately now. Trainer, rubbers, and coaches had received their shares of the ovation. But Benham, ’95, with his coat soaked through, was still unsatisfied, and sought for further tests. Two professors, half hidden under umbrellas, had emerged from the yard, and were standing at a little distance, watching the scene.

“Three times three for Professor Dablee!” The cheers that followed were mixed with laughter, and the two professors moved off, but not until the identity of the second had been revealed, and the air had filled with the refrain of “’Rah, ’rah, ’rah! Pollock!”

“They look as though they ought to win; don’t you think so?” asked one of them.

The other professor frowned.

“Yes, they look like that; every eleven does. You’d think, to see them before a game, that nothing short of a pile-driver or dynamite could drive them an inch. And a few days later they return, heartbroken and defeated.”

Across the square floated a husky bellow:

“Now, then, fellows! Once more! All together! Three times three for Harvard!”

The band played wildly, frenziedly, out of time and tune; the crowd strained its tired throats for one last farewell slogan; the men in the barge waved their hands; the horses jumped forward; a belated riser in Holyoke threw open a front window, and drowsily yelled, “Shut up”; and the Harvard eleven sped on its way up the avenue, and soon became a blur in the gray vista.

“Say, Bob, you forgot to cheer Jimpson.”

The wearied youth faced his accuser, struck an attitude indicative of intense despair, and then joyfully seized the opportunity.

“Fellows! Fellows! Hold on! Three times three for Jim—Jim—who’d you say?”

“Jimpson,” prompted the friend.

“Three times three for Jimpson! Now, then, all together!”

“Say—who is Jimpson?” shouted a dozen voices at once.

“Don’t know. Don’t care. Three times three for Jimpson!”

And so that youth, had he but known it, received a cheer, after all. But he didn’t know it—at least, not until long afterward, when cheers meant so much less to him.

II
A LETTER

New Haven, Conn., November 19.

Dear Mother: I can imagine your surprise upon receiving a letter from this place, when your dutiful son is supposed to be “grinding” in No. 30 College House, Cambridge. And the truth is that the dutiful son is surprised himself. Here am I, with some thirty-five other chaps, making ready for the big football game with Yale to-morrow. Here is how it happened:

Yesterday morning, Brattle—he’s our captain—came to my room, routed me out of bed, and told me to report to the coaches for morning practise. You know, I’ve been trying for substitute right half-back. Ward, the regular, sprained his knee in the Dartmouth game, and a few days ago it went lame again. So now Sills has Ward’s place, and I’m to substitute Sills. And if he gets laid out—and maybe I ought to hope he won’t—I go in and play. What do you think of that? Of course Sills may last the entire game; but they say he has a weak back, only he won’t own up to it, and may have to give up after the first half. Gates told me this on the train. Gates is the big center, and weighs 196. He is very kind, and we chummed all the way from Boston. I didn’t know any of the fellows, except a few by sight—just enough to nod to, you know.

We left Cambridge in a driving rain, and a big crowd stood out in it all, and cheered the eleven, and the captain, and the college, and everything they could think of. Every fellow on the first and second elevens, and every “sub” was cheered—all except Mr. Jimpson. They didn’t know of his existence! But I didn’t feel bad—not very, anyhow. I hope the rest of the fellows didn’t notice the omission, however. But I made up my mind that if I get half a show, I’ll make ’em cheer Jimpson, too. Just let me get on the field. I feel to-night as though I could go through the whole Yale team. Perhaps if I get out there, facing a big Yale man, I’ll not feel so strong.

You know, you’ve always thought I was big. Well, to-day I overheard a fellow asking one of the men, “Who is that little chap with the red cheeks?” I’m a midget beside most of the other fellows. If I play to-morrow, I’ll be the lightest man on the team, with the exception of Turner, our quarter-back, who weighs 158. I beat him by three pounds.

Such a hubbub as there is in this town to-night! Everybody seems crazy with excitement. Of course I haven’t the slightest idea who is going to win, but to look at our fellows, you’d think they would have things their own way. I haven’t seen any of the Yale players. We practised on their field for an hour or so this afternoon, but they didn’t show up. There was a big crowd of Yale students looking on. Of course every fellow of us did his very worst; but the spectators didn’t say anything—just looked wise.

Most of the fellows are terribly nervous to-night. They go around as though they were looking for something, and would cry if they didn’t find it soon. And the trainer is the worst of all. Brattle, the captain, is fine, though. He isn’t any more nervous than an alligator, and has been sitting still all the evening, talking with a lot of the old graduates about the game. Once he came in the writing-room, where I’m sitting, and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he smiled, and said to tell you that if anything happened he’d look after my remains himself! Maybe he thought I was nervous. But if I am, I’m not the only one. Gates is writing to his mother, too, at the other table.

Give my love to Will and Bess. Tell Will to send my old skates to me. I shall want them. There is fine skating on Fresh Pond, which, by the way, is a lake.

We’re ordered off to bed. I guess some of us won’t sleep very well. I’m rather excited myself, but I guess I’m tired enough to sleep. I’ll write again when I get back to college. With bushels of love to all,

Yours affectionately,

Tom.

III
THE “ARRIVAL”

Jimpson sat on the ground, and watched with breathless interest two charging, tattered, writhing lines of men. Jimpson felt a good deal like an outcast, and looked like a North American Indian. Only legs and face were visible; the rest of Jimpson was enveloped in a big gray blanket with barbaric red borders. Some two dozen counterparts of Jimpson sat or lay near by, stretching along the side-line in front of the Harvard section of the grand stand. Behind them a thousand enthusiastic mortals were shouting pæans to the goddess of victory, and, unless that lady was deaf, she must have heard the pæans, however little she approved of them. The most popular one was sung to a well-known tune:


Jimpson felt like an outcast, and looked like an Indian.
“As we’re strolling through Fifth Avenue
With an independent air,
The ladies turn and stare,
The chappies shout, ‘Ah, there!’
And the population cries aloud,
‘Now, aren’t they just the swellest crowd,
The men that broke Old Eli at New Haven!’”

And a mighty response swept across the field from where a bank of blue rose from the green of the field to the lighter blue of the sky. It was a martial air, with a prophecy of victory:

“Shout aloud the battle-cry
Of Yale, Yale, Yale!
Wave her standard far and high
For Yale, Yale, Yale!
See the foe retreat before us,
Sons of Eli, shout the chorus,
Yale, Yale, Yale, Yale, Yale!”

Harvard and Yale were doing battle once more, and twenty thousand people were looking on. The score-board announced: Harvard, 4; Yale, 0. Yale’s ball. 15 minutes to play.

The story of twenty minutes of the first half is soon told. It had been Yale’s kick-off. Haag had sent the ball down the field to Harvard’s 20-yard line, and Van Brandt had gathered it in his long arms, and, with Meredith ahead, had landed it back in the middle of the field. But the fourth down gave it to their opponents after a loss of two yards, and the pigskin went down again to Harvard’s territory, coming to a stop at the white line that marked thirty-five yards. Here Harvard’s new half-back kick had been tried, and the ball went high in air, and the field went after it; and when the Yale full-back got his hands on it, he was content with a bare five yards, and it was Yale’s ball on her 40-yard line. Then happened a piece of ill luck for the wearers of the blue. On the second down, Kurtz fumbled the pass, the ball rolled toward Yale’s goal, and Brattle broke through the opposing left tackle and fell on it.

And while a thunderous roar of joy floated across the field from the followers of the Crimson, the teams lined up on Yale’s thirty yards. Twice Meredith tried to go through between center and left guard, and a bare yard was the reward. Then Van Brandt had run back as for a kick; the ball was snapped, passed to Sills, Harvard’s right half-back, and, with it safely under his arm, he had skirted the Yale left, and fallen and wriggled and squirmed across the goal-line for the first touch-down.

Then ensued five minutes of bedlam, and after the victorious seats had settled into excited complacency, Van Brandt had tried for goal. But success was too much to hope for, and the two teams trotted back to the middle of the field, with the score 4 to 0. Then had the sons of Eli shown of what they were made, and in the next ten minutes the ball had progressed with fatal steadiness from the center of the field to the region of the Crimson’s twenty yards. And now it was Yale’s ball on the second down, and the silence was so intense that the signal was heard as plainly by the watchers at the far end of the field as by the twenty-two stern-faced warriors who faced each other almost under the shadow of the goal-posts.

Twelve, six, twelve, fifty-two!

And the backs, led by the guards, hurled their weight against Harvard’s right tackle; and when the ball was found, Baker held it within a few inches of the 10-yard line.

The cheers of Yale had now grown continuous; section after section passed the slogan along. The stand across the field looked to Jimpson like a field of waving blue gentians. On the Harvard seats the uproar was less intense, and seemed a trifle forced; and the men near by were breathing heavily, and restively creeping down the line.

Again the lines were formed. Jimpson could see the tall form of the gallant Gates settle down into a hunchback, toad-like position to receive the coming onslaught. Billings, the right tackle, was evidently expecting another experience like the last. He looked nervous, and Gates turned his head and spoke to him under cover of the first numbers of the signal.

The guards were back of the line again, and their elbows almost brushed as they stood between the half-backs. Silence reigned. The referee skipped nimbly out of the way.

Seven, seventeen, eighty-one, thirty!

Again the weakening tackle was thrust aside, and although the Crimson line held better, the ball was three yards nearer home when the whistle blew, and Billings, somewhat dazed, had to call for a short delay.

“First down again,” muttered a brawny sub at Jimpson’s elbow. “Why doesn’t he take Billings out?”

Again the signal came. Again a jumbled mass of arms and legs for a moment hid the result. Then the men on the stand overlooking the goal-line arose en masse, and a mighty cheer traveled up the field, growing in volume until Jimpson could not hear his own groans nor the loud groans of a big sub. Back of the line, and almost equidistant of the posts, lay the Yale full-back; and the ball was held tightly to earth between outstretched hands. The prostrate players were slowly gaining their feet; but Billings and Sills lay where they had fallen. Then Brattle stepped toward the side line, holding up his hand. With a leap Jimpson was on his feet. But the big chap beside him had already pulled off his sweater, and now, tossing it into Jimpson’s face, he sped gleefully toward the captain.

Jimpson sat down again in deep disappointment; and a moment later, Billings, supported on either side, limped from the gridiron, amid the cheers of the Harvard supporters. Sills was on his feet again, and the trainer was talking to him. Jimpson could see the plucky fellow shaking his head. Then, after a moment of indecision, the trainer left him, the whistle sounded, the Crimson team lined up back of the line, and Kurtz was poising the ball for a try at goal. The result was scarcely in doubt, and the ball sailed cleanly between the posts, a good two feet above the cross-bar; and the score-board said, “Harvard, 4; Yale, 6”; and there were three minutes more of the half.

Back went the ball to the 55-yard line, and loud arose the cheers of the triumphant friends of Yale. Gates kicked off, and Warner sent the ball back again, with a gain of ten yards. Sills caught it and ran, but was downed well inside Harvard territory, and the half ended with the ball in Yale’s hands. Jimpson seized his blanket, and trotted after the eleven to the quarters. He found Gates stripping for a rub-down.

“Well, my lad,” panted the latter, “could you discern from where you were just what kind of a cyclone struck us?” But Jimpson was too much interested for such levity.

“Do you think I’ll get in this half, Gates?”

“Can’t say. Take a look at Sills, and judge for yourself.”

That gentleman was having his lame back rubbed by a trainer, but he appeared to Jimpson good for at least another quarter of an hour.

It seemed but a moment after they had reached the rooms that the word of “Time’s up, fellows,” was passed, and renewed cheering from without indorsed the fact. But a moment or two still remained, and that moment belonged to Brattle. He stood on a bench and addressed the hearers very quietly:

“We’re going to kick, this half, fellows. I want every man to get down the field on the instant, without stopping to hold. I don’t think they can keep us from scoring at least once more; but every man has got to work. When the time comes to put the ball over the line, I expect it to go over with a rush. Let every man play the best game he knows, but play together. Remember that lack of teamwork has often defeated us. And now, fellows, three times three for Harvard!”

And what a yell that was! Jimpson went purple in the face, and the head coach cheered his spectacles off. And then out they all went on a trot, big Gates doing a coltish handspring in mid-field, to the great delight of the Crimson’s wearers. The college band played; thirty thousand people said something all together; and then the great quadrangle was silent, the whistle piped merrily, and the ball soared into air again.

Jimpson took up his position on the side-line once more, and watched with envious heart the lucky players. For the great, overwhelming desire of Jimpson’s soul was to be out there on the torn turf, doing great deeds, and being trampled under foot. He watched the redoubtable Sills as a cat watches a mouse. Every falter of that player brought fresh hope to Jimpson. He would have liked to rise and make an impassioned speech in the interests of humanity, protesting against allowing a man in Sills’s condition to remain in the game. Jimpson’s heart revolted at the cruelty of it.

Some such idea as this he had expressed to Gates, that morning; and the big center had giggled in deep amusement; in fact, he had refused to recognize the disinterested character of Jimpson’s protest.

“Don’t you think,” Jimpson had pleaded, “that I might ask Brattle to give me a show in the second half?”

“No, I don’t,” Gates had answered bluntly. “You’re an unknown quantity, my boy; as the Frenchies say, you haven’t ‘arrived.’ For a player who hasn’t ‘arrived’ to try to give the captain points would be shocking bad taste. That’s how it is. Sills is a good player. As long as he can hold his head up, he’ll be allowed to play. When he’s laid out, Brattle will give you a show. He can’t help himself; you’re the only chap that he can trust in the position. And look here; when that time comes, just you remember the signals, and keep your eyes on the ball. That’s all you’ll have to do. Don’t take your eyes off the leather, even if the sky falls!”

Jimpson remembered the conversation, and thought ruefully that it was easy enough for a fellow who has everything that heart can desire to spout good advice to chaps on the side-lines. Perhaps if Gates were in his (Jimpson’s) place he’d not be any too patient himself. The score-board said fifteen minutes to play. Sills still held up his stubborn head, and Jimpson’s chances grew dimmer and dimmer as moments sped.

Harvard’s kicking tactics had netted her long gains time and again, and twice had she reached Yale’s 10-yard line, only to be grimly held and hurled back. Yale, on the other hand, had only once reached scoring distance of their opponent’s goal, and had been successfully held for downs. Veterans of the game declared enthusiastically, between bets, that it was “the snappiest game of the decade!” and supporters of Harvard said among themselves that it was beautifully conducive to heart-disease. Perhaps never had the two colleges turned out teams so evenly balanced in both offense and defense. The bets had become “one to two that Harvard doesn’t score again.”

Harvard’s quarter had given place to a substitute, and her left guard had retired injured. Yale had fared no better, possibly worse, since her crack full-back had been forced to yield to a somewhat inferior sub. And now the hands on the score-board turned again, and only ten minutes remained.

The ball was down near Harvard’s 40-yard line, and when it was snapped back, Sills took it for a “round-the-end run.” But Yale’s big left half-back was waiting for him, and the two went to earth together near the side-line and almost at Jimpson’s feet. And then it was that that youth’s heart did queer feats inside him, and seemed trying to get out. For Sills lay a while where he had fallen, and when he could walk the doctor had sent him from the field. Brattle beckoned to Jimpson. With trembling fingers Jimpson struggled with his sweater; but had not a neighbor come to his assistance, he would never have wriggled out of it before the game was called.

Brattle met him, and, laying an arm over his shoulder, walked him a few paces apart. Jimpson’s heart, which had become more normal in action, threatened another invasion of his throat, and he wondered if everybody was looking on. Then he stopped speculating, and listened to what the captain was saying.

“We’ve only eight minutes to play. The ball has got to go over, Jimpson. I’ve seen you run, and I believe you can make it if you try. The ball is yours on the second down. Try the right end; don’t be afraid of swinging out into the field. Whatever you do, don’t let go of the ball. If Turner puts you through the line, keep your head down, but jump high. Now, go in, and let’s see what you can do.” He gave Jimpson an encouraging slap on the back that almost precipitated that youth into the quarter, and Jimpson saw the broad backs before him settling down, and heard the labored breathing of the men.

Ninety-one, twenty-eight, seventy-three, sixty-four—six!

Jimpson suddenly found himself pushing the left half-back against a surging wall of tattered blue. Then some one seized him about the waist, and he picked himself up from the ground eight feet away from the scene of battle.

“That’s what comes of being so small and light,” he growled to himself, as he trotted back. But the thirst of battle was in Jimpson’s soul, and he marked the Yale end who had treated him so contemptuously.

The try between right tackle and end had netted a bare yard, and Jimpson tried to look self-possessed while his back was running with little chills and his throat was dry as dust. The next chance was his, and he waited the signal anxiously, to learn whether the pass was direct or double. The other half-back imperceptibly dropped back a foot. The quarter looked around. The lines swayed and heaved.

Twenty-seven, sixty-three, forty-five, seventy-two—five!

Jimpson leaped forward; the left half-back darted across him, the quarter passed neatly, and, with the Harvard left end beside him, he was sweeping down to the right and into the field. The Yale end went down before the mighty Cowper; and Jimpson, sighting a clear space, sped through. He could feel the field trailing after him, and could hear the sounds of the falling men. Before him in the distance, a little to the left, came the Yale full-back. Almost upon him was the Yale left half, looking big and ugly. But, with a final spurt, Van Brandt ran even, and gave the shoulder to the enemy; and as they went down together, Jimpson leaped free, and, running on, knew that at last he was left to shift for himself. Of the foes behind he had no fear; of the full-back running cautiously down on him he feared everything. But he clutched the ball tighter, and raced on straight as an arrow toward the only player between him and the goal that loomed so far down the field.

He heard now the mighty sound of voices cheering him on, saw without looking the crowded stands to the right; and then something whispered of danger from behind, and, scarcely daring to do so, lest he trip and fall, glanced hurriedly over his shoulder into the staring eyes of a runner. And now he could hear the other’s short, labored gasps. Before him but a scant ten yards was the full-back. Jimpson’s mind was made up on the instant. Easing his pace the least bit, he swung abruptly to the left. He well knew the risk he ran, but he judged himself capable of making up the lost ground. As he had thought, the pursuer was little expecting such a deliberate divergence from the course, and, as a result, he overran, and then turned clumsily, striking for a point between Jimpson and the left goal-post. The full-back had noted the change, of course, on the instant, and was now running for about the same intersecting point as the other. The three runners formed a triangle. For the moment the pursuer was out of reckoning, and Jimpson could give all his skill to eluding the full-back, who faced him, ready for a tackle.

And here Jimpson’s lighter weight stood him in good stead. Clutching the ball tightly, he made a feint to the left, and then flung himself quickly to the right. As he did so he spun around. The full-back’s hand reached his canvas jacket, slipped, and found a slight hold upon his trousers; and Jimpson, scarcely recovered from his turn, fell on one knee, the full-back also falling in his effort to hold. At that moment the pursuer reached the spot, and sprang toward Jimpson.

The shouts had ceased, and thirty thousand persons were holding their breath. The next moment a shout of triumph went up, and Jimpson was speeding on toward the Yale goal. For as the last man had thrown himself forward, Jimpson had struggled to his feet, the full-back following, and the two Yale men had crashed together with a shock that left the full-back prostrate upon the turf. The other had regained himself quickly, and taken up the pursuit; but Jimpson was already almost ten yards to the good, and, although his breath was coming in short, painful gasps, and the white lines seemed rods apart, the goal became nearer and nearer. But the blue-stockinged runner was not done, and the cries of the Crimson well-wishers were stilled as the little space between the two runners grew perceptibly less.

Jimpson, with his eyes fixed in agony upon the last white line under the goal-posts, struggled on. One ankle had been wrenched in his rapid turn, and it pained frightfully as it took the ground. He could hear the steps of the pursuing foe almost at his heels, and, try as he might, he could not cover the ground any faster. His brain reeled, and he thought each moment that he must fall.

But the thought of what that touch-down meant, and the recollection of the captain’s words, nerved him afresh. The goal-line was plain before him now; ten yards only remained. The air was filled with cheers; but to Jimpson everything save that little white line and the sound of the pounding steps behind him was obliterated.

Success seemed assured, when a touch on his shoulder made the landscape reel before his eyes. It was not a clutch—just fingers grasping at his smooth jacket, unable as yet to find a hold.

The last white line but one passed haltingly, slowly, under his feet. The fingers traveled upward, and suddenly a firm grasp settled upon his shoulder. He tried to swing free, faltered, stumbled, recovered himself with a last supreme effort, and, holding the ball at arm’s length, threw himself forward, face down. And as the enemy crashed upon him, Jimpson tried hard to gasp “Down!” but found he couldn’t, and then—didn’t care at all.

When he came to he found a crowd of players about him. Faces almost strange to him were smiling, and the captain was holding his head. His right foot pained frantically, and the doctor and rubbers were busy over him.

“Was it—was it over?” he asked weakly.

“Easy, old chap—with an inch to spare,” replied the lips above. “Listen!”

Jimpson tried to raise his head, but it felt so funny that he gave up the effort. But, despite the woolen sweater bunched up for a pillow, he heard a deep roar that sounded like the breakers on the beach at home. Then he smiled, and fainted once more.

But the score-board had changed its figures again: Harvard, 8; Yale, 6. Touch-down. Harvard’s ball. 3 minutes to play.

And the deep, exultant roar went on, resolving itself into “H-a-r-vard! H-a-r-vard!”


The band was playing Washington Post. Harvard Square was bright under a lurid glow of red fire. Cheering humanity was packed tight from the street to the balustrade of Matthews, and from there up and across the yard. Cannon crackers punctuated the blare of noise with sharp detonations. The college was out in full force to welcome home the football heroes, and staid and prim old Cambridge lent her quota to the throng. From the back of Grays the cheering grew louder, and the crowd surged toward the avenue. The band broke ranks and skeltered after. A four-horse barge drew up slowly at the curb, and, one after another, the men dropped out, tightly clutching their bags, and strove to slip away through the throng. But each was eventually captured, his luggage confiscated, and himself raised to the shoulders of riotous admirers. When all were out and up, the band started the strains of Fair Harvard, and thousands of voices joined in. The procession moved. Jimpson, proud and happy and somewhat embarrassed, was well up in the line. When the corner was turned and the yard reached the roar increased in volume. Cheers for the eleven, for Harvard, for Brattle, were filling the air. And then suddenly Jimpson’s heart leaped at the sound of his own name from thousands of throats.

“Now, fellows, three long Harvards, and three times three for Jimpson!” In the roar that followed Jimpson addressed his bearers.

“Won’t you please let me go now? I—I’m not feeling very well, and—and I’m only a sub, you know.”

The plea of illness moved his captors, and Jimpson was dropped to earth, and his valise restored. There was no notice taken of him as he slipped stealthfully through the outskirts of the throng, and as he reached the corner of Holden Chapel he paused and listened.

To the dark heavens arose a prolonged, impatient demand from thousands of Harvard throats. The listener heard, and then fled toward the dark building across the street, and, reaching his room, locked the door behind him. But still he could hear the cries, loudly and impatiently repeated: “We—want—Jimp-son! We—want—Jimp-son! Jimp-son!”


BARCLAY’S BONFIRE

Copyright, 1898, by The Youth’s Companion. All rights reserved.

Cobb, 1901, assistant editor of the Daily Quarmazi, left the office, crossed the road and entered the college yard by the simple expedient of placing one hand on the fence and vaulting over upon the forbidden grass. Cobb had a Latin book under one arm—for even if one labors on a college paper to mold undergraduate opinion, he is not exempt from a certain amount of class attendance—and carried an open letter in his hand. His round, good-natured face wore a broad grin; and whenever he looked at the letter the grin increased.

He entered the first entrance to Grays Hall, bounded up two flights of narrow stairway, and pounded at a door. An invitation to enter came faintly through two thicknesses of oak, and Cobb confronted the single occupant of the room.

“How are you, Barclay? Thanks, no, can’t stop! Just dropped ’round to leave this with you. Got it in this morning’s mail at the office. Said to myself, ‘Just one man in college who’ll take interest in this; that’s Barclay.’ So I brought it to you. Might answer it, eh? Good idea, seems to me. Hope you’ll be able to do something about it. ’Bye!” And Cobb, grinning like a jovial satyr, was gone.

Barclay, ’99, laid his pen aside with slow deliberateness, marked his place in the big Greek lexicon beside him, and took up the letter. It was addressed to the editor of the Quarmazi, and was signed “Hiram G. Larkin, Yale, ’99.” The writer asked to be put in communication with some student in the rival college who was interested in checkers. He dwelt enthusiastically on the formation of a dual checker league. He pointed out the fact that although chess, whist and other games of skill and science were recognized and participated in each year by teams representing the two universities, the noble game of checkers had been hitherto wofully neglected. He suggested that teams be formed at each university, and that a tournament be played to decide the championship.

When Barclay laid aside the letter, his long and ascetic face held an expression of enthusiastic delight. The one dissipation and hobby of Barclay’s studious existence was checkers. He held a college-wide reputation as a “grind” of the most pronounced type. Barclay did not look down on the usual pleasures and frolics of the undergraduate; they simply had for him no appeal. He had nothing against football or baseball or track athletics; but he felt no enthusiasm for any of them.

Of course he was always glad when the college teams won; he was “patriotic” to a high degree, and sometimes, when the bonfires burned and the students cheered and sang, he acknowledged a wish, lying deep down in his heart, that he, too, might be able to derive pleasurable emotions from such celebrations. Barclay, in short, loved Xenophanes and Xenophon; and next to them, checkers.

Before he went to bed that night he answered the Yale man’s letter; indorsed the project voluminously; pledged immediate cooperation, and remained fraternally his, Simonides P. Barclay.

I have no intention of specifying in detail the steps which resulted in the formation of the Intercollegiate Checkers Association. Barclay and Larkin wrote to each other at least every other day, and at the end of three weeks the matter was settled—not, perhaps, just as they had hoped for. Barclay had labored heroically to find a membership for the Checkers Club, but without avail. None wanted to join. Many scoffed, and instead of enthusiasm, he awakened only ridicule. And the Yale man reported like results. So when the rival teams met in a private room in Young’s Hotel one December day, they consisted of just Larkin, Yale, ’99, and Barclay.

The tournament was held behind tightly closed doors; consequently I am unable to report the play for the reader’s benefit. Enough that deep silence and undoubted skill held sway until dusk, at which time the two teams passed into the dining-hall and ate a dinner, at which much good feeling was displayed by both, and at which the day’s play was rehearsed scientifically, from oysters to coffee. The teams then shook hands and parted at the entrance.

Barclay boarded a car and returned to college, filled with overwhelming triumph. He had won three out of the seven games and drawn two. The checkers championship rested with Harvard!

Such a spirit of jubilation possessed Barclay that when he reached his unadorned room and had changed his gold-rimmed glasses for his reading spectacles, he found that Greek for once did not satisfy. He tried light reading in the form of a monograph on the origin of Greek drama, but even then his attention wandered continually. He laid down the book, wiped his glasses thoughtfully and frowned at the green lamp-shade. Plainly something was wrong; but what? He pondered deeply for several minutes. Then his brow cleared, and he settled his “specs” over his lean nose again; he had found the trouble.

“The victory,” said Barclay, soberly, to the lamp-shade, “demands a celebration!”

The more he thought of it the more evident it appeared that the day’s triumph over the Yale Checkers Club deserved some sort of a public jubilee. He might, considered Barclay, put his head out of the window and cheer. But he wasn’t sure that he knew how. Or he might shoot off a revolver—if he had one. Or he might start a bonfire—ah, that was it; a bonfire! The idea appealed strongly to him; and he remembered that as a boy on a New Hampshire farm bonfires had ever moved him strangely.

He arose and thrust his feet into a pair of immense overshoes, tied a muffler about his long neck, donned his worn ulster, turned down the lamp, and passed out of the room. Yes, he would celebrate with a bonfire. A victory over Yale at checkers was quite as important in Barclay’s estimation as a triumph over the blue-stockinged football warriors.

Fifteen minutes later a window at the upper end of the college yard was slammed open, and a voice bawled into the frosty night:

“Heads out! All heads out!”

Then up and down the quadrangle, casements were raised and broad beams of light glowed out into the gloom, while dozens of other voices passed on the slogan:

“Heads out, fellows! Heads out!”

“What’s up?” cried a thin voice from an upper window of Thayer.

“Bonfire in front of University!” was the answer.

“Bonfire in the yard! All heads out!” sped the cry.

“Everybody get wood!” shouted a voice from Weld.

“Everybody get wood!” shouted half a hundred other voices.

Then windows were shut and eager youths clattered down-stairs and into the yard, and suddenly the quiet night had become a pandemonium. In front of University Hall a lone figure fed, with shingles and odd bits of wood, a small bonfire, which cast its wan glow against the white front of the sober pile, as if dismayed at its own temerity. For bonfires in the yard are strictly forbidden, and it was many years before that the last one had sent its sparks up in front of University. Barclay knew this, and welcomed the danger of probation or dismissal as adding an appropriate touch of the grand and heroic to his celebration.

“Everybody get wood!” “What’s it for?” “’Rah for the bonfire!” “Who’s doing it?” “Wood, wood, get wood, fellows!”

One of the first to reach the scene was Cobb, 1901. A dozen others were close behind him.

“Hello, what’s up? What we celebrating?” he asked breathlessly; then he caught a glimpse of the thin, bespectacled visage of Barclay, and gasped, “Why, why, it’s old Barclay!”

“’Rah for Barclay, old grind!” shouted another. “He’s the stuff! Everybody get wood!”

At that moment a worn-out hen-coop arrived suddenly on the scene, and a shower of sparks told that the fire was gaining courage.

“But, say, old man, what’s it all about?” asked Cobb.

“We are celebrating a victory over Yale,” answered Barclay, soberly, as he adjusted a plank with his foot. There was no undue excitement exhibited by this tall figure in the long ulster, but underneath his calm the blood raced madly through his veins, and a strange and well-nigh uncontrollable joy possessed him as the flames leaped higher and higher. He stooped and picked a brand from the edge of the fire. He waved it thrice about his head, sending the flaring sparks over the ever-increasing crowd.

“Hooray!” he yelled, in queer, uncanny tones.

“’Rah, ’rah, ’rah!” answered the throng. “Everybody get wood!”

“But what’d we do to ’em?” asked Cobb, wonderingly. “What was the victory?”

“Won the checker championship!” answered Barclay, proudly.

A roar of laughter went up; fellows fell on their neighbors’ necks and giggled hysterically; a football man sat down in the fire and had to be rescued by his friends; Cobb hugged Barclay and patted him on the back.

“Good old Barclay!” he gurgled. “Oh, good old Barclay! Won the checker champ—champ—champ—oh, dear, oh, dear! Somebody hit me before I—I——”

“More wood!” bawled some one. “’Rah for Barclay, the champion checkerist! Everybody cheer for Barclay!”

And everybody did, many, many times. More wood leaped from out the darkness and fell upon the flaming heap, which now rose to the fellows’ shoulders and crackled right merrily. The vicinity of the bonfire was black with yelling, laughing students; and every moment their number grew, as the light was seen at distant dormitories or the shouting was heard across the avenue.

“Speech!” cried the throng. “Speech! Speech!” And Barclay was quickly elevated to the shoulders of Cobb and another, and from there spoke feelingly of the inception and growth of the Checkers Club; of the tournament and of the victory. Very few heard all that speech, for it was cheered incessantly; and those at the edge of the crowd yelled: “Who’s the fellow that’s talking?” “What’d he do?” “It’s Dewey!” “No, it’s——”

At that moment some one started a song, and by common impulse the students formed in line and began the circuit of the yard, Barclay, on the shoulders of the two riotous friends, leading the procession. Thrice around they went, singing the college songs, cheering on every provocation, clasping arms and swinging ecstatically from side to side and raising such an uproar as the old college had not often heard.

“The most gorgeous bonfire since we won the boat-race!” panted a senior, at the end of the parade. “And the biggest celebration; but I’d like jolly well to know what it’s for!”

“Join hands!” was the cry, and soon three great rings of dancing, striding youths were circling the fire, their fantastic shadows leaping grotesquely across the front of the buildings. And just when the frolic was at its height, and the fire was crackling more joyously than ever; just when the quiet winter stars were hearkening for the fiftieth time to the hoarse cheers in honor of Barclay, the dean and three professors walked into the circle of radiance, and the throng melted as if by magic, until Barclay, spectacleless, hatless, but exultant, was left standing alone by his bonfire.

“Ah, Mr. Barclay,” said the dean, pleasantly, “will you kindly call on me to-morrow?”


“I think we will let the matter drop,” said the dean next day, hiding a smile under an affected frown, “if you will promise, Mr. Barclay, to indulge yourself in no more—ah—” the dean’s voice failed him, and he swallowed spasmodically twice before he found it again—“no more celebrations of victory.”

And Barclay, very remorseful and chastened this morning, promised, and hurried off to his beloved Greek.

Both Barclay and the Yale Checkers Club graduated from their respective universities the following spring, and consequently the Intercollegiate Checkers Association died. But although gone, it is not forgotten; and “Barclay’s bonfire” is still spoken of as “the most gorgeous thing that ever happened.”


 

MARTY BROWN—MASCOT

Copyright, 1898, by The Century Co. All rights reserved.

Martin—more familiarly “Marty”—Brown’s connection with the Summerville Baseball Club had begun the previous spring, when, during a hotly contested game with the High School nine, Bob Ayer, Summerville’s captain, watching his men go down like nine-pins before the puzzling curves of the rival pitcher, found himself addressed by a small snub-nosed, freckle-faced youth with very bright blue eyes and very dusty bare feet:

“Want me ter look after yer bats?”

“No.”

“All right,” was the cheerful response.

The umpire called two strikes on the batsman, and Bob muttered his anger.

“I don’t want nothin’ fer it,” announced the boy beside him, insinuatingly, digging a hole in the turf with one bare toe.

Bob turned, glad of something to vent his wrath upon. “No! Get out of here!” he snarled.

“All right,” was the imperturbable answer.

Then the side was out, and Bob trotted to first base. That half inning, the last of the seventh, was a tragedy for the town nine, for the High School piled three runs more on their already respectable lead, and when Bob came in he had well-defined visions of defeat. It was his turn at the bat. When he went to select his stick he was surprised to find the barefooted, freckle-faced youth in calm possession.

“What—?” he began angrily.

Marty leaped up and held out a bat. Bob took it, astonished to find that it was his own pet “wagon-tongue,” and strode off to the plate, too surprised for words. Two minutes later, he was streaking toward first base on a safe hit to center field. An error gave him second, and the dwindling hopes of Summerville began to rise again. The fellows found the High School pitcher and fairly batted him off his feet, and when the side went out it had added six runs to its tally, and lacked but one of being even with its opponent. Meanwhile Marty rescued the bats thrown aside, and arranged them neatly, presiding over them gravely, and showing a marvelous knowledge of each batsman’s wants.

Summerville won that game by two runs, and Bob Ayer was the first to declare, with conviction, that it was all owing to Marty. The luck had changed, he said, as soon as the snub-nosed boy had taken charge of the club’s property.

Every one saw the reasonableness of the assertion, and Marty was thereupon adopted as the official mascot and general factotum of the Summerville Baseball Club. Since then none had disputed Marty’s right to that position, and he had served tirelessly, proudly, mourning the defeats and glorying in the victories as sincerely as Bob Ayer himself.

Marty went to the grammar-school “when it kept,” and in the summer became a wage-earner to the best of his ability, holding insecure positions with several grocery and butcher stores as messenger and “special delivery.” But always on Saturday afternoons he was to be found squatting over the bats at the ball-ground; he never allowed the desire for money to interfere with his sacred duty as mascot and custodian of club property. Every one liked Marty, and he was as much a part of the Summerville Baseball Club as if one of the nine. His rewards consisted chiefly of discarded bats and balls; but he was well satisfied: it was a labor of love with him, and it is quite probable that, had he been offered a salary in payment of the services he rendered, he would have indignantly refused it. For the rest, he was fifteen years old, was not particularly large for his age, still retained the big brown freckles and the snub nose, had lively and honest blue eyes, and, despite the fact that his mother eked out a scanty living by washing clothes for the well-to-do of the town, had a fair idea of his own importance, without, however, risking his popularity by becoming too familiar. The bare feet were covered now by a pair of run-down and very dusty shoes, and his blue calico shirt and well-patched trousers were always clean and neat. On his brown hair rested, far back, a blue-and-white baseball cap adorned with a big S, the gift of Bob Ayer, and Marty’s only badge of office.

To-day Marty had a grievance. He sat on a big packing-box in front of Castor’s Cash Grocery and kicked his heels softly against its side. Around him the air was heavy with the odor of burning paper and punk, and every instant the sharp sputter of fire-crackers broke upon his reverie. It was the Fourth of July and almost noon. It was very hot, too. But it was not that which was troubling Marty. His grief sprung from the fact that, in just twenty minutes by the town-hall clock up there, the Summerville Baseball Club, supported by a large part of the town’s younger population, would take the noon train for Vulcan to play its annual game with the nine of that city; and it would go, Marty bitterly reflected, without its mascot.

Vulcan was a good way off—as Marty viewed distance—and the fare for the round trip was $1.40, just $1.28 more than Marty possessed. He had hinted to Bob Ayer and to “Herb” Webster, the club’s manager, the real need of taking him along—had even been gloomy and foretold a harrowing defeat for their nine in the event of his absence from the scene. But Summerville’s finances were at low ebb, and, owing to the sickness of one good player and the absence of another, her hopes of capturing the one-hundred-dollar purse which was yearly put up by the citizens of the rival towns were but slight. So Marty was to be left behind. And that was why Marty sat on the packing-case and grieved, refusing to join in the lively sport of his friends who, farther up the street, were firing off a small brass cannon in front of Hurlbert’s hardware store.

Already, by ones and twos, the Vulcan-bound citizens were toiling through the hot sun toward the station. Marty watched them, and scowled darkly. For the time he was a radical socialist, and railed silently at the unjust manner in which riches are distributed. Presently a group of five fellows, whose ages varied from seventeen to twenty-one, came into sight upon the main street. They wore gray uniforms, with blue and white stockings and caps of the same hues, and on their breasts were big blue S’s. Two of them carried, swung between them, a long leather bag containing Marty’s charge, the club’s bats. The players spied the boy on the box, and hailed him from across the street. Marty’s reply was low-toned and despondent. But after they had turned the corner toward the station, he settled his cap firmly on his head and, sliding off the box, hurried after them.

The station platform was well filled when he gained it. Bob Ayer was talking excitedly to Joe Sleeper, and Marty, listening from a distance, gathered that Magee, the Summerville center-fielder, had not put in his appearance.

“If he fails us,” Bob was saying anxiously, “it’s all up before we start. We’re crippled already. Has any one seen him?”

None had, and Bob, looking more worried than before, strode off through the crowd to seek for news. Of course, Marty told himself, he didn’t want Summerville to lose, but, just the same, if they did, it would serve them right for not taking him along. A long whistle in the distance sounded, and Bob came back, shaking his head in despair.

“Not here,” he said.

A murmur of dismay went up from the group, and Marty slid off the baggage-truck and approached the captain.

“Say, let me go along, won’t yer, Bob?”

Bob turned, and, seeing Marty’s eager face, forgot his worry for the moment, and asked kindly: “Can you buy your ticket?”

“No.” Marty clenched his hands and looked desperately from one to another of the group. The train was thundering down the track beside the platform. “But you fellows might buy me one. And I’d pay yer back, honest!”

“Say, Bob, let’s take him,” said Hamilton. “Goodness knows, if we ever needed a mascot, we need one to-day! Here, I’ll chip in a quarter.”

“So’ll I,” said Sleeper. “Marty ought to go along; that’s a fact.”

“Here’s another.” “You pay for me, Dick, and I’ll settle with you when we get back.” “I’ll give a quarter, too.”

“All aboard!” shouted the conductor.

“All right, Marty; jump on,” cried Bob. “We’ll find the money—though I don’t know where your dinner’s coming from!”

Marty was up the car-steps before Bob had finished speaking, and was hauling the long bag from Wolcott with eager hands. Then they trooped into the smoking-car, since the day-coaches were already full, and Marty sat down on the stiff leather seat and stood the bag beside him. The train pulled out of the little station, and Marty’s gloom gave place to radiant joy.

The journey to Vulcan occupied three-quarters of an hour, during which time Bob and the other eight groaned over the absence of Magee and Curtis and Goodman, predicted defeat in one breath and hoped for victory in the next, and rearranged the batting list in eleven different ways before they were at last satisfied. Marty meanwhile, with his scuffed shoes resting on the opposite seat, one brown hand laid importantly upon the leather bag and his face wreathed in smiles, kept his blue eyes fixedly upon the summer landscape that slid by the open window. It was his first railway trip of any length, and it was very wonderful and exciting. Even the knowledge that defeat was the probable fate ahead of the expedition failed to more than tinge his pleasure with regret.

At Vulcan the train ran under a long iron-roofed structure, noisy with the puffing of engines, the voices of the many that thronged the platforms, and the clanging of a brazen gong announcing dinner in the station restaurant. Marty was awed but delighted. He carried one end of the big bag across the street to the hotel, his eager eyes staring hither and thither in wide amaze. Vulcan boasted of a big bridge-works and steel-mills, and put on many of the airs of a larger city. Bob told Marty that they had arranged for his dinner in the hotel dining-room, but the latter demurred on the score of expense.

“Yer see, I want ter pay yer back, Bob, and so I guess I don’t want ter go seventy-five cents fer dinner. Why, that’s more’n what three dinners costs us at home. I’ll just go out and get a bit of lunch, I guess. Would yer lend me ten cents?”

Marty enjoyed himself thoroughly during the succeeding half-hour: He bought a five-cent bag of peanuts and three bananas, and aided digestion by strolling about the streets while he consumed them, at last finding his way to the first of the wonderful steel-mills and wandering about freely among the bewildering cranes, rollers, and other ponderous machines. He wished it was not the Fourth of July; he would like to have seen things at work. Finally, red-faced and perspiring, he hurried back to the hotel and entered a coach with the others, and was driven through the city to the ball-ground. This had a high board fence about it, and long tiers of seats half encircling the field. There were lots of persons there, and others were arriving every minute. Marty followed the nine into a little dressing-room built under the grand stand, and presently followed them out again to a bench in the shade just to the left of the home plate. Here he unstrapped his bag and arranged the bats on the ground, examining them carefully, greatly impressed with his own importance.

The Vulcans, who had been practising on the diamond, trotted in, and Bob and the others took their places. The home team wore gray costumes with maroon stockings and caps, and the big V that adorned the shirts was also maroon. Many of them were workers in the steel-mills, and to Marty they seemed rather older than the Summervilles. Then the umpire, a very small man in a snuff-colored alpaca coat and cap, made his appearance, and the men at practise came in. The umpire tossed a coin between Bob and the Vulcans’ captain, and Bob won with “heads!” and led his players into the field. A lot of men just back of Marty began to cheer for the home team as Vulcan’s first man went to bat.

It were sorry work to write in detail of the disastrous first seven innings of that game. Summerville’s hope of taking the one-hundred-dollar purse home with them languished and dwindled, and finally faded quite away when, in the first half of the seventh inning, Vulcan found Warner’s delivery and batted the ball into every quarter of the field, and ran their score up to twelve. Summerville went to bat in the last half plainly discouraged. Oliver struck out. Hamilton hit to second base and was thrown out. Pickering got first on balls, but “died” there on a well-fielded fly of Warner’s.

Vulcan’s citizens yelled delightedly from grand stand and bleachers. Summerville had given a stinging defeat to their nine the year before at the rival town, and this revenge was glorious. They shouted gibes that made Marty’s cheeks flush and caused him to double his fists wrathfully and wish that he were big enough to “lick somebody”; and they groaned dismally as one after another of the blue-and-white players went down before Baker’s superb pitching. Summerville’s little band of supporters worked valiantly against overwhelming odds to make their voices heard, but their applause was but a drop in that sea of noise.

The eighth inning began with the score 12 to 5, and Stevens, captain and third-baseman of the Vulcans, went to bat with a smile of easy confidence upon his face. He led off with a neat base-hit past short-stop. The next man, Storrs, their clever catcher, found Warner’s first ball, and sent it twirling skyward in the direction of left field. Webster was under it, but threw it in badly, and Stevens got to third. The next batsman waited coolly and took his base on balls. Warner was badly rattled, and had there been any one to put in his place he would have been taken out. But Curtis, the substitute pitcher, was ill in bed at Summerville, and helpless Bob Ayer ground his teeth and watched defeat overwhelm him. With a man on third, another on first, and but one out, things again looked desperate.

Warner, pale of face, wrapped his long fingers about the ball and faced the next batsman. The coaches kept up a volley of disconcerting advice to the runners, most of it intended for the pitcher’s ear, however. On Warner’s first delivery the man on first went leisurely to second, well aware that the Summerville catcher would not dare to throw lest the runner on third should score. With one strike against him and three balls, the man at bat struck at a rather deceptive drop and started for first. The ball shot straight at Warner, hot off the bat. The pitcher found it, but fumbled. Regaining it quickly, he threw to the home plate, and the Vulcan captain speedily retraced his steps to third. But the batsman was safe at first, and so the three bases were full.

“Home run! Home run, O’Brien!” shrieked the throng as the next man, a red-haired little youth, gripped his stick firmly. O’Brien was quite evidently a favorite as well as a good player. Warner and Oliver, Summerville’s catcher, met and held a whispered consultation to the accompaniment of loud ridicule from the audience. Then the battery took their places.

“Play for the plate,” cried Bob at first base.

Warner’s first delivery was a wide throw that almost passed the catcher. “Ball!” droned the umpire. The men on bases were playing far off, and intense excitement reigned. On the next delivery Warner steadied himself and got a strike over the plate. A shout of applause from the plucky Summerville spectators shattered the silence. Another strike; again the applause. O’Brien gripped his bat anew and looked surprised and a little uneasy.

“He can’t do it again, O’Brien!” shrieked an excited admirer in the grand stand.

But O’Brien didn’t wait to see. He found the next delivery and sent it whizzing, a red-hot liner, toward second. Pandemonium broke loose. Sleeper, Summerville’s second-baseman, ran forward and got the ball head high, glanced quickly aside, saw the runner from first speeding by, lunged forward, tagged him, and then threw fiercely, desperately home. The sphere shot like a cannonball into Oliver’s outstretched hands, there was a cloud of yellow dust as Stevens slid for the home plate, and then the umpire’s voice droned: “Out, here!”

Summerville, grinning to a man, trotted in, and the little handful of supporters yelled themselves hoarse and danced ecstatically about. Even the Vulcan enthusiasts must applaud the play, though a bit grudgingly. For the first time in many innings, Marty, squatting beside the bats, drew a big scrawling 0 in the tally which he was keeping on the ground, with the aid of a splinter.

It was the last half of the eighth inning, and Bob Ayer’s turn at the bat. Marty found his especial stick, and uttered an incantation beneath his breath as he held it out.

“We’re going to win, Bob,” he whispered.

Bob took the bat, shaking his head.

“I’m afraid you don’t work as a mascot to-day, Marty,” he answered smilingly. But Marty noticed that there was a look of resolution in the captain’s face as he walked toward the box, and took heart.

Summerville’s admirers greeted Bob’s appearance with a burst of applause, and Vulcan’s captain motioned the field to play farther out. Vulcan’s pitcher tossed his arms above his head, lifted his right foot into the air, and shot the ball forward. There was a sharp crack, and the sphere was sailing straight and low toward center field. Bob touched first and sped on to second. Center field and left field, each intent upon the ball, discovered each other’s presence only when they were a scant four yards apart. Both paused—and the ball fell to earth! Bob, watching, flew toward third. It was a close shave, but he reached it ahead of the ball in a cloud of dust, and, rising, shook himself in the manner of a dog after a bath. Summerville’s supporters were again on their feet, and their shouts were extraordinary in volume, considering their numbers. Vulcan’s citizens, after a first burst of anger and dismay, had fallen into chilling silence. Marty hugged himself, and nervously picked out Howe’s bat.

The latter, Summerville’s short-stop and a mere boy of seventeen, was only an ordinary batsman, and Marty looked to see him strike out. But instead, after waiting with admirable nerve while ball after ball shot by him, he tossed aside his stick and trotted to first base on balls, amid the howls of the visitors. Summerville’s first run for four innings was scored a moment later when Bob stole home on a passed ball.

Summerville’s star seemed once more in the ascendant. Howe was now sitting contentedly on second base. “Herb” Webster gripped his bat firmly and faced the pitcher. The latter, for the first time during the game, was rattled. Bob, standing back of third, coached Howe with an incessant roar:

“On your toes! Get off! Get off! Come on, now! Come on! He won’t throw! Come on, come on! That’s right! That’s the way! Now! Wh-o-o-a! Easy! Look out! Try it again, now!”

Baker received the ball back from second, and again faced the batsman. But he was worried, and proved it by his first delivery. The ball went far to the right of the catcher, and Howe reached third base without hurrying. When Baker again had the ball, he scowled angrily, made a feint of throwing to third, and, turning rapidly, pitched. The ball was a swift one and wild, and Webster drew back, then ducked. The next instant he was lying on the ground, and a cry of dismay arose. The sphere had hit him just under the ear. He lay there unconscious, his left hand still clutching his bat, his face white under its coat of tan. Willing hands quickly lifted him into the dressing-room, and a doctor hurried from the grand stand. Bob, who had helped carry him off the field, came out after a few minutes and went to the bench.

“He’s all right now,” he announced. “That is, he’s not dangerously hurt, you know. But he won’t be able to play again to-day. Doctor says he’d better go to the hotel, and we’ve sent for a carriage. I wish to goodness I knew where to find a fellow to take his place! Think of our coming here without a blessed substitute to our name! I wish I had Magee for a minute; if I wouldn’t show him a thing or two! Warner, you’d better take poor Webster’s place as runner; I’ll tell the umpire.”

In another moment the game had begun again, Warner having taken the place of the injured left-fielder at first base, and Sleeper having gone to bat. Vulcan’s pitcher was pale and his hands shook as he once more began his work; the injury to Webster had totally unnerved him. The immediate result was that Sleeper knocked a two-bagger that brought Howe home, placed Warner on third and himself on second; and the ultimate result was that five minutes later, when Oliver fouled out to Vulcan’s third-baseman, Sleeper and Wolcott had also scored, and the game stood 12 to 9.

Bob Ayer meanwhile had searched unsuccessfully for a player to take the injured Webster’s place, and had just concluded to apply to Vulcan’s captain for one of his substitutes, when he turned to find Marty at his side.

“Are yer lookin’ fer a feller to play left field?”

“Yes,” answered Bob, eagerly. “Do you know of any one?”

Marty nodded.

“Who?”

“Me.”

Bob stared in surprise, but Marty looked back without flinching. “I can play, Bob; not like you, of course, but pretty well. And, besides, there ain’t no one else, is there? Give me a show, will yer?”

Bob’s surprise had given place to deep thought. “Why not?” he asked himself. Of course Marty could play ball; what Summerville boy couldn’t, to some extent? And, besides, as Marty said, there was no one else. Bob had seen Marty play a little while the nine was practising, and, so far as he knew, Marty was a better player than any of the Summerville boys who had come with the nine and now sat on the grand stand. The other alternative did not appeal to him: his pride revolted at begging a player from the rival club. He turned and strode to the bench, and Marty eagerly watched him conferring with the others. In a moment he turned and nodded.

A ripple of laughter and ironic applause crept over the stands as Marty, attired in his blue shirt and unshapen trousers, trotted out to his position in left field. The boy heard it, but didn’t care. His nerves were tingling with excitement. It was the proudest moment of his short life. He was playing with the Summerville Baseball Club! And deep down in his heart Marty Brown pledged his last breath to the struggle for victory.

Vulcan started in on their last inning with a determination to add more runs to their score. The first man at bat reached first base on a safe hit to mid-field. The second, Vulcan’s center-fielder and a poor batsman, struck out ingloriously. When the next man strode to the plate, Bob motioned the fielders to spread out. Marty had scarcely run back a half dozen yards when the sharp sound of ball on bat broke upon the air, and high up against the blue sky soared the little globe, sailing toward left field. Marty’s heart was in his mouth, and for the moment he wished himself back by the bench, with no greater duty than the care of the bats. It was one thing to play ball in a vacant lot with boys of his own age, and another to display his powers in a big game, with half a thousand excited persons watching him. At first base the runner was poised ready to leap away as soon as the ball fell into the fielder’s hands—or to the ground! The latter possibility brought a haze before Marty’s eyes, and for an instant he saw at least a dozen balls coming toward him; he wondered, in a chill of terror, which was the real one! Then the mist faded, he stepped back and to the right three paces, telling himself doggedly that he had to catch it, put up his hands——

A shout of applause arose from the stands, and the ball was darting back over the field to second base. Marty, with a swelling heart, put his hands in his trousers pockets and whistled to prove his indifference to applause.

The batsman was out, but the first runner stood safely on third base. And then, with two men gone, Vulcan set bravely to work and filled the remaining bases. A safe hit meant two more runs added to Vulcan’s score. The fielders, in obedience to Bob’s command, crept in. The grand stand and the bleachers were noisy with the cheers of the spectators. Warner glanced around from base to base, slowly settled himself into position, and clutched the ball. The noise was deafening, but his nerves were again steady, and he only smiled carelessly at the efforts of the coaches to rattle him. His arms shot up, and a straight delivery sent the sphere waist high over the plate.

“Strike!” crooned the umpire. Applause from the Summerville deputation was drowned in renewed shouts and gibes from the rest of the audience. Warner received the ball, and again, very deliberately, settled his toe into the depression in the trampled earth. Up shot his arms again, again he lunged forward, and again the umpire called:

“Strike two!”

The batter stooped and rubbed his hands in the dust, and then gripped the stick resolutely. The ball went back to Warner, and he stepped once more into the box. For a moment he studied the batsman deliberately, a proceeding which seemed to worry that youth, since he lifted first one foot and then the other off the ground and waved his bat impatiently.

“Play ball!” shrieked the grand stand.

Warner smiled, rubbed his right hand reflectively upon his thigh, glanced casually about the bases, lifted one spiked shoe from the ground, tossed his arms up, and shot the ball away swiftly. Straight for the batsman’s head it went, then settled down, down, and to the left as though attracted by Oliver’s big gloves held a foot above the earth just back of the square of white marble. The man at bat, his eyes glued to the speeding sphere, put his stick far around, and then, with a sudden gasp, whirled it fiercely. There was a thud as the ball settled cozily into Oliver’s leather gloves, a roar from the onlookers, and above it all the umpire’s fatal:

“Striker—out!”

Marty, watching breathless and wide-eyed from the field, threw a handspring and uttered a whoop of joy. The nines changed places, and the last half of the last inning began with the score still 12 to 9 in favor of Vulcan.

“Play carefully, fellows,” shouted Vulcan’s captain as Hamilton went to bat. “We’ve got to shut them out.”

“If youse can,” muttered Marty, seated on the bench between Bob and Wolcott.

It looked as though they could. Bob groaned as Hamilton popped a short fly into second-baseman’s hands, and the rest of the fellows echoed the mournful sound.

“Lift it, Will, lift it!” implored Bob as Pickering strode to the plate. And lift it he did. Unfortunately, however, when it descended it went plump into the hands of right field. In the stand half the throng was on its feet. Bob looked hopelessly at Warner as the pitcher selected a bat.

“Cheer up, Bob,” said the latter, grinning. “I’m going to crack that ball or know the reason why!”

The Vulcan pitcher was slow and careful. They had taken the wearied Baker out and put in a new twirler. Warner let his first effort pass unnoticed, and looked surprised when the umpire called it a strike. But he received the next one with a hearty welcome, and sent it speeding away for a safe hit, taking first base amid the wild cheers of the little group of blue-and-white-decked watchers. Hamilton hurried across to coach the runner, and Bob stepped to the plate. His contribution was a swift liner that was too hot for the pitcher, one that placed Warner on second and himself on first. Then, with Hamilton and Sleeper both coaching at the top of their lungs, the Vulcan catcher fumbled a ball at which Howe had struck, and the two runners moved up. The restive audience had overflowed on to the field now, and excitement reigned supreme. Another strike was called on Howe, and for a moment Summerville’s chances appeared to be hopeless. But a minute later the batter was limping to first, having been struck with the ball, and the pitcher was angrily grinding his heel into the ground.

“Webster at bat!” called the scorer.

“That’s you, Marty,” said Wolcott. “If you never do another thing, my boy, swat that ball!”

Marty picked out a bat and strode courageously to the plate. A roar of laughter greeted his appearance.

“Get on to Blue Jeans!” “Give us a home run, kid!” “Say, now, sonny, don’t fall over your pants!”

It needed just that ridicule to dispel Marty’s nervousness. He was angry. How could he help his “pants” being long? he asked himself, indignantly. He’d show those dudes that “pants” hadn’t anything to do with hitting a baseball! He shut his teeth hard, gripped the bat tightly, and faced the pitcher. The latter smiled at his adversary, but was not willing to take any chances, with the bases full. And so, heedless of the requests to “Toss him an easy one, Joe!” he delivered a swift, straight drop over the plate.

“Strike!” droned the little umpire, skipping aside.

Marty frowned, but gave no other sign of the chill of disappointment that traveled down his spine. On the bench Wolcott turned to his next neighbor and said, as he shook his head sorrowfully:

“Hard luck! If it had only been some one else’s turn now, we might have scored. I guess little Marty’s not up to curves.”

Marty watched the next delivery carefully—and let it pass.

“Ball!” called the umpire.

Again he held himself in, although it was all he could do to keep from swinging at the dirty-white globe as it sped by him.

“Two balls!”

“That’s right, Marty; wait for a good one,” called Wolcott, hoping against hope that Marty might get to first on balls. Marty made no answer, but stood there, pale of face but cool, while the ball sped around the bases and at last went back to the pitcher. Again the sphere sped forward. Now was his time! With all his strength he swung his bat—and twirled around on his heel! A roar of laughter swept across the diamond.

“Strike two!” cried the umpire.

But Marty, surprised at his failure, yet undaunted, heard nothing save the umpire’s unmoved voice. Forward flew the ball again, this time unmistakably wide of the plate, and the little man in the snuff-colored alpaca coat motioned to the right.

“Three balls!”

Bob, restlessly lifting his feet to be off and away on his dash to third, waited with despairing heart. Victory or defeat depended upon the next pitch. A three-bagger would tie the score, a safe hit would bring Sleeper to the bat! But as he looked at the pale-faced, odd-looking figure beside the plate he realized how hopeless it all was. The pitcher, thinking much the same thoughts, prepared for his last effort. Plainly the queer little ragamuffin was no batsman, and a straight ball over the plate would bring the agony to an end. Up went his hand, and straight and sure sped the globe.

Now, there was one kind of ball that Marty knew all about, and that was a nice, clean, straight one, guiltless of curve or drop or rise, the kind that “Whitey” Peters pitched in the vacant lot back of Keller’s Livery Stable. And Marty knew that kind when he saw it coming. Fair and square he caught it, just where he wanted it on the bat. All his strength, heart, and soul were behind that swing. There was a sharp crack, a sudden mighty roar from the watchers, and Marty was speeding toward first base.


There was one kind of ball that Marty knew all about.

High and far sped the ball. Center and left fielder turned as one man and raced up the field. Obeying instructions, they had been playing well in, and now they were to rue it. The roar of the crowd grew in volume. Warner, Bob, and Howe were already racing home, and Marty, running as hard as his legs would carry him, was touching second. Far up the field the ball was coming to earth slowly, gently, yet far too quickly for the fielders.

“A home run!” shrieked Wolcott. “Come on—oh, come on, Marty, my boy!

Warner was home, now Bob, and then Howe was crossing the plate, and Marty was leaving second behind him. Would the fielder catch it? He dared look no longer, but sped onward. Then a new note crept into the shouts of the Vulcans, a note of disappointment, of despair. Up the field the center-fielder had tipped the ball with one outstretched hand, but had failed to catch it! At last, however, it was speeding home toward second base.

“Come on! Come on, Marty!” shrieked Bob.

The boy’s twinkling feet spurned the third bag and he swung homeward. The ball was settling into the second-baseman’s hands. The latter turned quickly and threw it straight, swift, unswerving toward the plate.

Slide!” yelled Bob and Warner, in a breath.

Marty threw himself desperately forward; there was a cloud of brown dust at the plate, a thug as the ball met the catcher’s gloves. The little man in the alpaca coat turned away with a grin, and picked up his mask again.

Safe, here!

The score was 13 to 12 in Summerville’s favor; Marty’s home run had saved the day!

In another minute or two it was all over. Sleeper had popped a high fly into the hands of the discomfited center-fielder, and the crowds swarmed inward over the diamond.


It was a tired, hungry, but joyous little group that journeyed back to Summerville through the soft, mellow summer twilight. Marty and the leather bat-case occupied a whole seat to themselves. Marty’s freckled face was beaming with happiness and pride, his heart sang a pæan of triumph in time to the clickety-click of the car-wheels, and in one hand, tightly clenched, nestled a ten-dollar gold piece.

It was his share of the hundred-dollar purse the nine had won, Bob had explained, and it had been voted to him unanimously. And next spring he was to join the team as substitute! And Marty, doubting the trustiness of his pockets, held the shining prize firmly in his fist and grinned happily over the praise and thanks of his companions.

“It wasn’t nothin’, that home run; any feller could have done that!” And, besides, he explained, he had known all along that they were going to win. “Why,—don’t you see?—the other fellers didn’t have no mascot!”


PARMELEE’S “SPREAD”

The room was old-fashioned, a dark-walled parallelogram, the farthest end of which was seldom reached by the light which crept through the two small-paned windows. Overhead four huge rafters passed from side to side.

The ledges beneath the windows formed wide seats, which were upholstered in somber corduroy. The mantel above the large fireplace was narrow, high, a mere shelf, designed a century ago to hold the twin candlesticks and the snuffers on their silver tray.

The occupant had wisely confined the furnishings to old-style mahogany in quaint Chippendale forms. The green-shaded student-lamp on the desk under the heavy bronze chandelier gave almost the only modern touch. Yet with all its gloom, the apartment was singularly homelike and restful.

Perhaps this thought occurred to Parmelee, ’00, as he closed the door behind him, for his gaze swept slowly over the room, and he sighed once as he removed his cap and gown and laid them carefully aside. He crossed to one of the windows, and sank back dispiritedly against the cushions.

Parmelee’s face, seen in the warm light of a late June afternoon, lost something of its usual paleness, but the serious lines about the mouth and the pathos of the deep-set brown eyes were accentuated.

The face, on the whole, was strikingly handsome. The forehead under the dark hair was broad and high; the nose straight and fairly large; the mouth, despite its grave lines, seemed made for smiles; the chin was full and firm. Yet the expression now was one of weariness and melancholy.

Through the open windows came faintly the strains of a waltz from the band in the college yard. Over the top of a vividly green chestnut-tree the western sky was beginning to glow with the colors of sunset. Now and then a student in cap and gown, or the more brilliant attire appropriate to class-day, hurried past the house; but for the most the little street was deserted and still.

Parmelee had done his duty. He had conscientiously taken part in all the exercises of the day, excepting only those about the tree. When the procession that had marched about the yard and cheered the buildings had dissolved, he had hurried away to his room, lonesome and downhearted.

Every one seemed so disgustingly happy! Fellows with nice mothers and pretty sisters, cousins or sweethearts appeared to flaunt them before Parmelee’s eyes; fellows hurrying off to somebody’s spread thrust him unceremoniously out of the way with muttered apologies. He was so out of it all! He had no womenfolk to take care of, no friends to greet, no spreads to attend. He was simply a nonentity; merely “Parmelee, that hunchbacked fellow.”

That was Parmelee’s trouble. All his life he had been a “hunchback.” As a boy he had often taken flight before the merciless gibes of his companions, too sick at heart to follow his first impulse to stand and fight.

When he had entered the preparatory school he had enclosed himself in a shell of sensitiveness, and had missed many a friendship that might have been his. At college it had been the same. He believed his deformity to be repellent to others, and credited them with sentiments of distaste or pity, when, as was generally the case, the attractiveness of his countenance made them blind to his defect of form. Naturally fond of athletics, he believed himself barred from them. He made few acquaintances and no friends; no friends, that is, except one.

Philip Schuyler and he had met in their freshman year. Schuyler, refusing to be repelled, had won his way through Parmelee’s defenses, and the two had been inseparable until shortly before the last Christmas recess. Then they had quarreled.

The cause had been such a tiny thing that it is doubtful if either still remembered it. Pride had prevented the reconciliation which should have followed, and the two friends had drifted widely apart.

Parmelee sometimes told himself bitterly that Schuyler had made the quarrel an excuse for ending a companionship of which he was wearied. Schuyler had quickly found new friends; Parmelee simply retired more deeply than before into his shell. It meant more to him, that quarrel, than to Schuyler. He had lost the only real friend of his life. The wound was a deep one, and it refused to heal. On this day it ached more than it had for months.

Parmelee glanced at his watch, suddenly realizing that he was hungry. He had missed his lunch. It was yet far from the dinner-hour, he found.

Then he remembered that his boarding-house would be practically given over that evening to a spread. He shrank from the idea of facing the throng that would be present. The restaurants would be crowded. A solitary dinner in town was not attractive. The only alternative was to go dinnerless, or—yes, he could have something here in his room. He smiled a trifle bitterly.

“It will be Parmelee’s spread,” he said.

He went out and turned his steps toward the avenue. In the store he surprised the clerk by the magnitude of his order. The whimsical idea of having a spread of his own grew upon him. The expense meant nothing to him.

When he was ready to return, the bundle of his purchases was so large that for the moment he was dismayed. Then he took it in his arms and retraced his steps.

Back in his room, the first difficulty that confronted him was the lack of a tablecloth, but this was presently solved by spreading two immense white bath-towels over the study table. Then he began the distribution of the viands.

The matter of table decoration was something of a problem, and in the solving of it he forgot his depression, and even whistled a tune while trying to decide whether to bank all the oranges together or to distribute them in a sort of border about the edge of the table.

A few plates would have been an aid, but it was possible to do without them. The olives occasioned much bother by refusing to emerge on the point of the knife-blade from the narrow neck of their tall bottle. This difficulty was at last obviated by pouring off the brine and emptying the olives upon a sheet of letter-paper. The canned meats and the glasses of jellies and the tins of crackers he arranged with geometrical precision, forming stars, circles and diamonds in outline. The oranges formed a pyramid in the center of the board, topped with a bunch of vivid radishes.

Parmelee stood off and viewed the result, at first critically, then with approval. Displacing the big armchair, he shoved the banquet-table up to one of the windows, and set a fiddle-backed mahogany chair before it. The effect was incongruous, and he chuckled aloud.

“You’re the loneliest-looking chair I ever saw!” he exclaimed. “Here, this is better.”

He seized another chair and placed it at the opposite side of the table.

“There, that balances. Besides, one should always make provision for the unexpected guest. Perchance, the president or the dean may drop in.”

He gave a final look at the repast and disappeared into the bedroom at the back. Presently the sound of splashing water told its own story.

At that moment the house door slammed, footsteps sounded in the hall, and there was a knock at Parmelee’s door. But Parmelee, rioting at the basin in the back room, heard nothing. After an interval the knocking was repeated. Then the knob turned and the door opened.

The visitor was a very erect, white-whiskered man of about fifty, possessing a degree of stoutness that set off to the best advantage his well-cut black coat, white waistcoat and gray trousers. His dark eyes gleamed with kindliness and humor.

He held his shining hat and his gloves in his hand, and looked questioningly about the room. Then the sound of Parmelee’s ablutions caught his ear, and he took a step forward.

“Is there any one at home?” he called.

Parmelee, in his shirt-sleeves, the water dripping from the end of his nose, came to the inner doorway, the towel clutched desperately in one hand, and stared with amazement.

“I beg your pardon, sir, for this intrusion,” the visitor said. “I knocked, and receiving no answer, took the liberty of entering unbidden. We old graduates lay claim to many privileges on class-day, you know; nothing is sacred to us.”

He paused. Parmelee grasped the towel more firmly, as if it were a weapon of defense to be used against the invader, and nodded silently. His gaze fell on the banquet, and amazement gave way to dismay.

“I escaped from my wife and daughter after much scheming,” continued the visitor, “in order to slip down here and have a look at this room. I haven’t seen it for—well, not since I graduated, and that was twenty-nine years ago this month.”

“Ah!” Parmelee had found his tongue. “You lived here while in college?”

“Four years. After I entered the law school I roomed in town. But don’t let me disturb you. I’ll just glance round a moment, if I may.”

Parmelee’s courtesy came to the surface again. The visitor’s designs were plainly above suspicion. It was very awkward, but——

“Certainly, sir; just make yourself at home. If you’ll pardon me for a moment, I’ll get my coat on.”

The visitor bowed deprecatingly, and Parmelee disappeared again. He reentered the study a moment later, to find that the visitor had laid aside his hat and gloves, and, with hands clasped behind him, was looking from a window across the vista of trees and roofs at the sunset sky. He turned as Parmelee approached, sighed, smiled apologetically, and waved a hand toward the view.

“I have just accomplished a wonderful feat,” he said. “I have wiped out a quarter of a century.”

Parmelee smiled politely. “I presume you find things much changed?” he asked.

“Yes, yes; but not here. That view is almost the same as it was when I sat in that window there, studying, reading, dreaming, just as we all will when we’re young; just as I dare say you have done many times.”

“But I fancy, sir, your dreams came true.”

“My boy, none of our dreams ever come true just as we dream them. They couldn’t; they are much too grand. I have nothing to complain of and much to be happy for, but”—he shook his head, smiling wistfully—“I’m not the hero of those dreams.”

“I suppose it’s idle work, picturing the future, dreaming of the great things we’re going to do,” answered Parmelee, soberly; “but—it’s hard not to.”

“No, no, don’t think that!” The visitor laid a hand for a moment on Parmelee’s shoulder, then darted a quick look of surprise at the place his fingers had touched. Parmelee saw it, and a wave of color dyed his face. But the other continued after a pause that was almost imperceptible. “Don’t think that, my boy. Life wouldn’t be half what it is without dreams. And who knows? Perhaps yours are destined to come true. I hope they will.”

“They never have,” said Parmelee, bitterly.

The older man smiled. “But there’s time yet.” He turned and walked slowly about the apartment, nodding his head now and then, viewing the dark rafters as he might have viewed old friends, and putting his head in the bedroom door, but declining Parmelee’s invitation to enter.

Reminiscences came to his mind, and he told them lightly, entertainingly. He stood for several moments in front of the empty fireplace, and sighed again as he turned away.

He moved toward where he had laid his hat and gloves. “I left word with my wife to tell my son to come here for me, but I don’t see him.” He picked up his hat and looked out into the street. “He took part in the tree exercises; he would have to change his clothes afterward, and that would take some time. I dare say if I walk up the street I shall meet him.”

Parmelee struggled in silence with his reserve; then he said:

“I—I wish you’d wait here for him, sir. You see, it’s just possible that you might miss him if you went.”

“But you’re certain I sha’n’t be in the way? Your guests will not arrive for a while?”

“I’m not expecting any one, sir.”

“Indeed!” The visitor glanced at the banquet and looked puzzled. “Pardon me; I thought you were giving a small spread. I shall be very glad to remain if I’m not in your way.”

He laid aside his hat and took a seat. Parmelee retired to the window and frowned at the banquet. Of course he had not been asked to explain it, but no other course seemed possible; the situation was ridiculous. He would make a clean breast of it. Somehow it did not seem difficult to tell things to the kind-faced stranger.

“I dare say you think I’m crazy,” he said, “with all that stuff spread out there and—and nobody coming, but—” And then he explained things, although not very lucidly, for he was disturbed by a realization of the absurdity of the affair. But the visitor seemed to understand, and when Parmelee had ended, he exclaimed, with concern:

“Why, then I’ve been keeping you from your supper! And no lunch, you say? I’d no idea, I assure you—” He seized his hat again. Parmelee sprang to his feet.

“No, no, I’m not in the least hungry! That is, I’m in no hurry.”

The older man hesitated.

“But if you’ve had no lunch, you must be starved! Indeed, I’m sure you must be! I can appreciate your condition in a measure, for my own lunch was a sorry affair, although I did get a few bites. Don’t let me keep you a moment longer.”

“But—but—” exclaimed Parmelee. The visitor paused with his hand on the door-knob. “Perhaps—you must be hungry yourself, and—if you wouldn’t mind the lack of knives and forks—and plates—I’d be awfully glad——”

“Well, really now, I’ve half a mind to accept,” laughed the other. “The truth is, I’m as hungry as a bear. These boarding-houses on class-day—” He shook his head expressively. “You are sure I’m not taking some one else’s place?”

“No, indeed,” answered Parmelee. “The fact is, I set that chair there for you half an hour ago.”

“For me?” inquired the visitor.

“Well, for the unexpected guest. You see, sir, the one chair looked so lonely. Have you room enough? Shall I move the desk out a bit? It’s awkward having no plates—or forks—or anything. If you will take this penknife, sir? And—wait a moment! The very thing!”

Parmelee excitedly seized two old blue plates from over the mantel, dusted them on a corner of the nearest bath-towel, and presented one to the guest.

“Queer I didn’t think of these, isn’t it? I think you’ll find that sliced chicken very fair. Do you eat olives? I’ve never tried cold Saratoga chips myself, but they look rather good.”

He proffered one article after another in a very fever of hospitality. In his eagerness he distributed the olives impartially over the whole board and brought the pièce de résistance, the pyramid of oranges, tumbling into ruins.

The guest laid down his pocket-knife and looked gravely across at his host.

“Is—is anything the matter?” faltered Parmelee.

“I must refuse to go on until I see you eating something.”

“Oh!” Parmelee blushed and seized a tin of potted turkey at random. After that the banquet progressed finely. The unexpected guest did full justice to the repast, and the unaccustomed host remembered his own hunger and satisfied it. More than that, he forgot his shyness and was radiantly happy. And after a while, when the last of the strawberries had disappeared, he suddenly found himself telling, in the most natural way in the world, things that he had never told any one before, except, perhaps, Philip Schuyler. He stopped short in the middle of a sentence in sudden embarrassment.

“And so your deformity, such a little thing as it is, has worked all this—this misery?” mused the guest. “Dear, dear, such a pity, my boy, so unnecessary!”

“Unnecessary?” faltered Parmelee.

“Surely. You’ve been so mistaken when you have credited all kinds of unpleasant sentiments to people. They can’t care any the less for you because your back is not as straight as theirs. The fault has been yours, my boy; you haven’t given people a chance to get near to you. You’ve held them off at arm’s length all your life. Take my advice. After this go out among them; forget your suspicions, and see for yourself if I’m not right. When God put a hump between your shoulders he made up for it in some other way, you may depend upon that. And although I’ve known you but an hour, I think I know wherein the Lord has made it up to you. But I’m not going to tell you; it might make you vain.”

Parmelee raised his own eyes to the smiling ones across the table.

“I don’t think you need have any apprehensions on that score, sir,” he said, a trifle unsteadily.

“Well, perhaps not. I dare say you need a little more vanity. But think over what I’ve said, and if you can, act on it.”

“I will,” answered the other, earnestly. “And I’m—I’m very grateful. I don’t think I ever—looked at it quite that way, you see.”

“I’m certain you never have. And another thing; I wouldn’t be too quick to bring in a verdict in the case of that friend you’ve told me of. I think when you learn the truth you’ll find you’ve done him an injustice. And forgive me if I hurt you, my boy, but I think you’ve been more to blame than he has. It seems to me that you were the one to take the first step toward reconciliation. Well, I really must be going to hunt up my family. They’ll think I’m lost. I don’t know what’s happened to Philip, I’m sure.”

“Philip?” asked Parmelee, quickly.

“My son,” answered the visitor, proudly. “He graduates this spring. Philip Schuyler. Perhaps you’ve met him?”

“I——”

There was a knock at the door. Parmelee drew himself up very straight, perhaps to give the lie to the pallor of his face.

“Come in!” he called, and the door swung open.

The youth who confronted them looked with white, set face from one to the other. There was an instant of awkward silence. Then, “Father!” he exclaimed, in a low voice.

“Why, Philip, what’s the matter?” Parmelee’s guest moved quickly to the door. “Did you think I was lost?”

The son laughed uneasily.

“I didn’t know you were coming here; I only learned it from mother a few minutes ago.” It sounded like an apology, and the older man looked apprehensively from his son to his host.

“But was there—any reason why I shouldn’t have come here, Phil?”

Philip Schuyler glanced from his father to Parmelee’s set face, then dropped his eyes.

“Of course not, sir,” he replied. “It was only that I didn’t know but I’d miss you. Such a crowd in town!” he muttered.

“That’s all right, then,” said his father. “And now I want to make you acquainted with a friend of mine. I’ve only had the honor of calling him such for an hour or so; but two persons can become pretty well acquainted in that time, especially over the table,” he added, smiling. “Phil, this is—but, dear me, I don’t know your name!”

“John Parmelee,” answered his host.

“Ah, Phil, this is Mr. Parmelee, who has been exceedingly kind and has ministered to my wants, outward and inward. I want you to know him. Somehow I have an idea you two youngsters will get on together. Mr. Parmelee, this is my son, Philip.”

Philip bowed without moving from his place at the door. Parmelee gave a gulp and strode forward, his hand outstretched.

“We—we’re not new acquaintances, Mr. Schuyler,” he said.

“Ah!” The older man watched while the two shook hands constrainedly. “Ah!” he repeated. It was a very expressive word as he uttered it, and Parmelee, glancing at his face, saw that he understood the situation. The two unclasped their hands, and for a moment viewed each other doubtfully.

“If you know each other, that makes simpler the request I was about to make,” said Parmelee’s guest. “I want Mr. Parmelee to come and make us a visit for a week or so, Phil. I think the North Shore sunshine will take some of that white out of his face. Just see if you can’t persuade him, won’t you?” He turned away toward the window. The two at the doorway looked at each other for an instant in silence. Then Philip Schuyler put out his hand, and Parmelee grasped it.

“You’ll come?” asked Philip, softly. Parmelee nodded.

“If you want me.”

“Of course I do! And, I say, Jack, it’s—it’s all right now, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Phil; it was never anything else,” answered Parmelee, a trifle huskily. The two gripped hands silently, smilingly, and turned to Mr. Schuyler.

“Are you ready, dad?”

“Eh? Oh, yes. And, Mr. Parmelee, perhaps you wouldn’t mind joining us? I’d like you to meet Phil’s mother and sister. It—it might be a good chance to test the value of my advice, eh?” Parmelee hesitated for a moment, then took up his gown.

“Thank you, sir, I think it might,” he said.


“NO HOLDING”

The captain, the head coach and the trainer of the Hillton Academy football team sat about the table in the head coach’s room. It was the evening of November 27th, and on the morrow, Thanksgiving day, the wearers of the crimson were to meet on the gridiron their old-time rivals of St. Eustace Academy, in the final and most important contest of the year.

The drop-light illumined three thoughtful faces. Bob Syddington, captain, a broad-shouldered and fine-looking lad of eighteen, traced figures on the green-leather table-covering and scowled intently. Gardiner, the head coach, a man of thirty, wrote on a sheet of paper with a scratching pen. The trainer and the school’s physical director, Mr. Beck, leaned back in his chair, his eyes from behind the gold-rimmed glasses fixed speculatively upon Syddington. Gardiner looked up.

“Cantrell at left half, of course?”

Syddington nodded.

“He won’t last the game,” said the trainer, “but he’s good for the first half.”

The coach’s pen scratched again. Syddington scowled more darkly and his hand trembled a little over the leather.

“How about right half?” Gardiner glanced fleetingly at the captain and then, questioningly, at the trainer. The latter spoke after a moment:

“Well, Lane’s first choice, isn’t he?”

“To my mind, yes,” answered Gardiner, “but Syddington thinks Servis should start the game; that while he’s not so brilliant as Lane, he’s more steady. I don’t share Syddington’s distrust of Lane, but if he thinks he’s going to feel that he has better support behind him, I’m willing to hold Lane out until he’s needed.”

“Then there’s Lane’s knee,” said Syddington, without looking up.

“The knee’s all right,” said Beck, decisively. “Physically Lane’s in as good shape as he was before the injury.”

“Ye-es, but Servis has never been hurt,” answered Syddington. “Seems to me that makes him less liable to injury now.”

His face was pale and there were little stubborn creases about the mouth. The trainer opened his lips as if to reply, but closed them again. Gardiner examined his pen and waited. Restraint was in the air.

“I think we’d better start with Servis,” said Syddington, after a moment. He heaved a sigh of relief and shot a glance at Beck.

The latter’s face wore an expression of disappointment, which disappeared under the lad’s scrutiny, but which, nevertheless, caused Syddington to transfer his gaze to the table and sent a flush to his cheeks.

Gardiner wrote for a moment. “That leaves only full-back, and Hale’s our man there. And that finishes the line-up. I’ll read it over.”

Then he and Beck discussed once more the plan of the battle.

Bob Syddington heard nothing. He was fighting a battle of his own, and his thoughts were far from pleasant. To do a dishonorable act knowingly, deliberately, is in itself disagreeable enough to a boy who has all his life hated mean actions. But to know that two persons in whose eyes one particularly wants to appear clean and honorable are aware of the act adds greater bitterness.

Syddington entertained no illusions. He knew that when he had caused Servis’s name to be placed in the line-up instead of Lane’s he had done a dishonorable thing. And he knew that both the head coach and the trainer were equally aware of the fact, and that he had fallen far in their estimation; that henceforth they must hold him, at the best, in pitying contempt. A monstrous price, he told himself bitterly, to pay for next year’s captaincy!

And he was not only injuring himself, but by deposing Lane he was placing in jeopardy the team’s success in the “big game.” There was never a doubt but that Lane was the man for the position of right half-back. Without exception he was the most brilliant player at Hillton. He had won the game with Shrewsburg by a sixty-yard run for a touch-down. More than once in minor games he had brought the spectators to their feet by his daring running or hurdling. It was almost a certainty that if he went into the St. Eustace game he would do just what the school expected, and by brilliant playing become the hero of the year. And there lay the rub.

Only the day before, Carter, the right tackle, had warned him: “If there was an election now, Bob, we’d make you captain again by a majority of one or two. But if Lane goes in and does his usual spectacular stunt, he’ll be the next captain as sure as fate. Take my advice and keep him out somehow. You’ve got Servis and Jackson, and—well, don’t be an ass!” And Syddington had shaken his head and answered righteously, “I can’t do that, Tom.”

And now he had done it!

He clenched his hands under the table and hated himself with an intensity that hurt. Gardiner and the trainer talked on. The clock on the mantel ticked monotonously.

It was not as if Lane would make a poor captain. On the contrary, Syddington knew that he would prove a good one. That the captain did not altogether like him, Lane knew. He had said a few days before—it had never been meant for Syddington’s ears, but nevertheless had reached them—“I’ll never get into the St. Eustace game until every other back is in the hospital. Syddington’s no fool!” And now Syddington hated Lane more than ever because he had rightly judged him capable of dishonesty.

And Lane would know, and Gardiner and Beck and Carter; and the fellows would suspect. But—and that was the worst of all—he himself could never forget. The clock struck the half-hour, and Gardiner looked up.

“Half after nine! This won’t do. We must get to bed. Don’t bother about to-morrow, Syddington. Get your mind off the game and go to sleep. It’ll be all right.”

Syddington rose and took up his overcoat. After he had struggled slowly into it he faced the others as if about to speak, but instead walked to the door in silence.

“Good night!” said Gardiner.

“Good night, Syddington!” echoed Beck.

The boy thought he could already detect a different tone in their voices, a foretaste of that contempt with which in future they were to consider him.

“Good night; good night, sir!” he answered, miserably. Then, with the door opening under his hand, he turned, his face pale but resolute, with something that was almost a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

“Mr. Gardiner, I wish you’d change that line-up, please.”

“Of course, if there’s anything——”

“I’d like Lane to go in at right half instead of Servis. Thank you, sir. Good night!”

When the door had closed coach and trainer faced each other smilingly.

“I didn’t think he could do it,” said Beck.

“Nor did I,” answered Gardiner. “And he didn’t.”


The autumn sunlight had disappeared slowly from the field of battle, and the first shadows of evening grew and deepened along the fences. The second half of the game was well-nigh over, and the score-board told the story thus:

Hillton 6        Opponents 8
Hillton’s Ball
3 Down        4 Yds to Gain
7 Minutes to Play

Over on the Hillton sections of the stand the cheering was hoarse and incessant, and crimson banners waved ceaselessly. It has ever been Hillton’s way to shout loudest under the shadow of defeat.

Hillton’s one score had been secured in the first three minutes of play. Quick, steady tackle-back plunges had carried the ball from the center of the gridiron to St. Eustace’s six-yard line before the latter team had awakened to its danger. From there Cantrell had skirted the Blue’s right end and Hale, the Hillton full-back, had kicked an easy goal.

But St. Eustace had pulled herself together, and from that time on had things her own way, forcing her rival to abandon offense and use every effort to protect her constantly threatened goal. Yet it was not until the half was almost over that St. Eustace finally managed to score, pushing her full-back through for a touch-down and afterward kicking goal.

The second half had started with honors even, but on his five-yard line Hale had failed miserably at a kick, and had been borne back for a safety. And now, with but seven minutes left, with the ball on Hillton’s fifty-yard line and four yards to gain on the third down, the Crimson was fighting valiantly against defeat.

Syddington, pale and panting, measured the distance to the St. Eustace goal with his eyes and groaned. If only Lane or Sanford, who had taken Cantrell’s place, could be got away round an end! If only they could get within kicking distance of that cross-bar! If——

“34—29—96—12!”

Lane was hurdling the line at right guard. Syddington dashed into the mêlée, shoving, shouting hoarsely. The blue line gave and Lane fell through, squirming, kicking. The Hillton stand went wild with joy. The score-board proclaimed first down.

“Get up! Get up!” called Syddington, a sudden note of hope in his strained voice. “That’s the stuff! We can do it again! Hard, fellows, hard!”

Aching, dizzy, but happy, nevertheless, red-faced and perspiring, Carl Lane dropped the ball and trotted back to his position.

“Signal!” cried Colton. “27—34—”

Lane crept, crouching, back of Sanford.

“—87—5!”

He dashed forward in the wake of the other half, the ball thumped against his stomach, was clasped firmly, and the next instant he was high in air. Arms thrust him back, others shoved him forward. For an instant the result was doubtful; then the St. Eustace players gave, the straining group went back, slowly at first, then faster. Lane, kicking friend and foe impartially in his efforts to thrust himself forward, felt himself falling head foremost. Some one’s elbow crashed against his temple, and for a moment all was dark.

When he came to, his face was dripping from the sponge and his head ached as if it would burst; but the score-board once more proclaimed first down, and the crimson-decked section of the grand stand had gone suddenly crazy. His name floated across to him at the end of a mighty volume of cheers.

He picked himself up, shook himself like a dog emerging from water, grinned cheerfully at Carter, and sped back of the line. Syddington, his blue eyes sparkling with newborn hope, thumped him on the shoulder as he passed.

They were past the middle of the field now, and once more Lane struck the blue-stockinged right guard for a gain. St. Eustace was yielding. Hillton was again on the offensive. From the fifty yards to the thirty-two went the conquering Crimson, Lane, Sanford and Hale hurdling, plunging, squirming between tackle and tackle. St. Eustace’s center trio were weak, battered, almost helpless.

Syddington gazed longingly at the farthest white line, now well in view. If only Lane could skirt the end! There was no longer any thought of rivalry in his heart. If Lane could make a touch-down and save them from defeat, he might have the captaincy and welcome.

The St. Eustace quarter called for time. The battered center and right guard were taken out and their places filled with new men. The timekeeper approached, watch in hand.

“Two minutes more,” he announced.

Syddington’s heart sank; the panting players reeled before his eyes, and he grasped Carter’s shoulder to steady himself. Only two minutes! And success almost within grasp! He turned swiftly to Colton.

“Two minutes, Dan! Did you hear? There isn’t time to work it down. Try the ends; give it to Lane! We’ve got to score, Dan!” He thumped his clenched hands against his padded thighs and stared miserably about him. Colton patted him on the back.

“Cheer up, Bob,” he whispered—his voice was now such that he could only whisper or shout—“cheer up! We’ll make it. Two minutes is time enough to win in!” The whistle sounded again.

“Right tackle—back!” cried the quarter. Carter dropped out of the line.

“Signal! 16—34—58—5!”

A tandem play on left guard netted two yards; the new center was a good man. Syddington’s heart was leaping into his throat and thumping back again painfully. He clenched his hands, watched his man with every nerve and muscle tense, and awaited the next signal. Would it never come? What was the matter with Colton? Did he not know he was losing——

“Sig—” began the quarter; then his voice gave out in a husky whisper. “Signal!” he repeated, hoarsely.

“Block hard!” shouted Syddington.

“Watch out for fake!” shrieked the St. Eustace captain.

“44—22——”

The Blue’s right half ran back to join the quarter up the field. Hale, the Crimson’s full-back, stood with outstretched hands on the thirty-six-yard line, with Lane and Sanford guarding him. Syddington swung his arms and crouched as if on edge to get down under the punt, yet out of the corners of his eyes he was watching the St. Eustace left tackle as a cat watches a mouse.

“44—22—11—6!” gasped Colton.

Center passed the ball back straight and clean to Hale, and the latter sped it on at a short side pass to Lane, who had dropped back; Sanford dashed at the right end of the line, and Lane, the pigskin hugged close and his right arm rigid before him, fell in behind. Sanford sent the St. Eustace end reeling backward, and Syddington put the Blue’s full-back out of the play and went crashing to the ground with him. Sanford and Lane swept through outside of tackle and sped toward the goal.

Crimson banners waved and danced. The game was lost or won in the next few seconds. Victory for Hillton, defeat for her rival, lay in the crossing of those eight trampled white lines by the lad who, with straining limbs and heaving chest, sped on behind his interference.

Sanford, lithe and fleet, held a straight course for the right-hand goal-post. Ahead, with staring eyes and desperate faces, the St. Eustace quarter and right half advanced menacingly. Behind, pounding footsteps told of stern pursuit.

Then the quarter-back was upon them, face pale and set, arms outstretched, and Lane swung to the right. Sanford’s shoulder met the foe, and the two went to earth together, Sanford on top. He was up again in the instant, and, unharmed, once more running fleetly. But Lane was ahead now, and before him, near the ten-yard line, the blue-clad half-back was waiting. The man ahead stood for defeat, for Lane doubted his ability to get round him. Even running was agony, and dodging seemed out of the question. But just as hope deserted him Sanford came into sight beside him.

“Faster!” he panted. “To the right.”

Lane had no time to make his lagging limbs obey ere Sanford and the foe were piled together at his feet. He plunged blindly over the writhing heap, stumbled, fell on one knee, staggered up again, saw the yellowish turf rising and sinking before him, felt his knees doubling up beneath him, fell, rolled over twice, crawled and wriggled on knees and elbows from force of habit, and then closed his eyes, laid his head on his arm and was supremely content.

Syddington sped down the field with the roar of three thousand voices in his ears, and a great, almost sickening happiness at his heart.

Hillton had won!

For the moment thought refused to go beyond that wonderful fact. His team, the boys whom he had threatened, coaxed, driven, struggled with for months, had beaten St. Eustace!

He thrust his way through the little group and dropped to his knees. Lane opened his eyes and for an instant stared blankly into his face. Then recollection returned and he raised his head. Above him rose the goal-posts. He grinned happily.

“Over, eh, Syddington?” he asked, weakly.

“Yes, Lane, over. Are you all right?”

“Yes; a bit tuckered, that’s all. Let me up, please.”

They helped him to his feet, and he stretched his aching muscles cautiously. Beck handed him his head harness, and he turned and limped off. The cheering, which had almost subsided for want of breath, took on new vigor, and he went up the field to the wild refrain of “Lane! Lane! Lane!”

Hale kicked goal and the teams lined up for the kick-off once more. But when the ball had fallen into the arms of the Hillton left end the whistle shrilled and the battle was at an end. The score-board said:

Hillton 12. Opponents 8.

The crowds were over the ropes on the instant, and while the wearied crimson players were hoarsely cheering their defeated rivals, they were seized and borne off to where the band was playing Hilltonians. Then the procession round the field began. And when it had formed, Carl Lane, left half-back, borne upon the shoulders of four stalwart, shrieking friends, was at the head. And Syddington, almost at the end of the line of swaying heroes, saw, and was more than content.

“They’ll make him captain the day after to-morrow,” he said to himself, “and I’m glad—glad!”

And with the band playing as it had not played for two years, with every voice raised in song, Hillton marched triumphantly back to the campus.


It was the evening of the day following Hillton’s victory. The songs and cheering were over, and the big bonfire was only a mound of ashes. Syddington had lighted a fire in the study grate, for an east wind was sweeping across the Hudson and rattling the casements fiercely.

It was all over! The boys had broken training, the field was left to the pranks of the winter winds, canvas jackets and padded trousers were put away, and the football season was at an end. Well, it had been a successful one, and next year——

His hands dropped and he sat upright, staring blankly before him. He had forgotten. Next year meant little to him now. Lane had earned the captaincy twice over. If it must go to some one other than himself, he was glad that Carl Lane was to be that person. He would nominate Lane himself. He began to fashion a little speech in his mind; and when he was in the middle of it, there came a knock at the door and Lane entered. Syddington stared a moment in surprise.

“How are you, Lane? Glad to see you,” he said, finally. “I—I was just thinking about you when you knocked. Sit down, won’t you?”

“Thanks.” Lane tossed his cap on the table and drew a chair toward the hearth. “Cold, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Syddington went back to the armchair and wondered what the visit meant. Lane had not the air of a casual caller; his face was serious and held a suggestion of embarrassment. There was a moment’s silence; then Lane went on in a tone of frank sincerity:

“Look here, Syddington. The fellows are talking about the captaincy.” He was watching Syddington closely. “And I find that I can have every vote but four.”

“I don’t know who the four are,” answered Syddington, bravely, “but if I’m one of them you can count me out. I’m going to vote for you, and if you’ll let me, I’ll put your name up.”

“Thank you. I didn’t expect that. I fancied you’d want it yourself.”

“So I do. So does every fellow, I guess. But you’ve won it, Lane, fair and square, and I don’t begrudge it to you. I’ll acknowledge that I did at first, but after you won the game——”

“You mean that you knew before the game that I might get the captaincy?” Lane’s voice was full of wonder.

“Yes. Carter told me.”

“And you let me play?”

“Yes, although—” he faltered—“although I came near not.”

“I see. And I owe you an apology. I didn’t think you’d let me on, and I said so. I think it was a mighty plucky thing to do, mighty plucky, Syddington, and—and awfully decent. And now, look here. What I came here to say was just this.” He rose and took his cap from the table. “I can have the captaincy to-morrow, perhaps, but of course I’m not going to accept it.”

“Not going to—to——”

“Would you take it if you were in my place? If I had given you the chance to win the big game, knowing that if you did you’d get the captaincy; if you knew I’d set my heart on keeping it; if I’d slaved all fall to turn out the finest team Hillton’s had in years; if—if——”

“But that has nothing to do with it,” faltered the other.

“Yes, it has everything to do with it,” said Lane, earnestly. “It’s a matter of fair play—and no holding. If I took that captaincy after what you’ve done I’d detest myself.”

“But—but it doesn’t seem right.”

“It is, though. You’re a captain from head to heels, and I’m not. And—I guess that’s all.” He moved toward the door. Syddington followed with pale face.

“I—I don’t know how I can thank you, Lane, honestly! If you change your mind——”

“I sha’n’t. And as for thanks—I think we’re quits. Good night!”

“Good night!” replied Syddington. “I—” he faltered and the color flooded into his cheeks—“I—I want to shake hands with you, Lane.”


CLASS SPIRIT

Peter Doe descended the marble steps of the big dormitory with discouragement written large upon his face. When he reached the sidewalk he drew a blank book from his pocket and studied it with frowning brows until he had crossed the avenue, and, half-unconsciously, perched himself on the top rail of the college fence. Then he sighed and returned the book to his coat.

Peter had been canvassing for the freshman crew for four days. Armitage and the rest had spoken cheerfully of eight hundred dollars as the probable result of his labors. To-day Peter shook his head ruefully. The book in his pocket held subscriptions representing only two hundred and sixty-four dollars, of which nearly half was “pledged,” a term possessing doubtful significance. And Peter was discouraged.

When Ronald Armitage—popular, influential and much sought—had requested Peter to join the squad of canvassers, Peter had been secretly much flattered, and had acquiesced instantly, gladly. For two whole days he had haunted the dormitories, indifferent to all discourtesies.

Peter was glad to be of service to his class. He believed that a man’s first duty was to his college, his second to his class, his third—well, the third did not as yet trouble him. He stood just five feet six and one-half inches, and had all a small man’s admiration for brawn and athleticism. His complexion was pink and white, a fact which worried him so much that in summer he spent precious hours lying with his face upturned to the sun in the hope that he would tan. But he never did; he simply got very red and the skin peeled off his nose.

Peter’s crowning glory was his hair, which was of the color of red gold. It was very beautiful hair from an artistic point of view, but it did not please Peter. At preparatory school it had won him the name of “Little Goldie,” a title which still clung to him among his acquaintances. He was good at studies, and was visibly impressed with the seriousness of existence.

After a while Peter slipped from the fence. He was eighteen years old, and at eighteen discouragement is a matter of a moment. Peter set his face toward Haworth Hall and Vance Morris, resolved to play his last card. Vance Morris was one of the richest men in college, and by far the wealthiest in the freshman class.

Peter had gone to school with him at St. Matthew’s, but their acquaintance was only of the nodding kind. Armitage had told Peter that Morris was “good for a hundred at least.” Fortune had apparently played into the collector’s hands at the very beginning of his canvassing, for, crossing the yard in the morning he had encountered Morris, and had, not without a struggle with his diffidence, stopped him and asked for a subscription.

“We, that is, Armitage and the others, you know, thought that about one hundred dollars would be—er—enough,” he had announced. Whereupon Morris, who was plainly in a hurry to reach the square, had grinned and replied:

“Really? That’s very modest of them, isn’t it? Don’t you think they’d rather have a thousand?”

The tone had made Peter feel a bit uncomfortable, but he had managed to give audible expression to the belief that a hundred would do very nicely; upon which Morris had again grinned down upon him from his six feet two inches, and had started away.

But Peter had trotted after him. “Then we—then I may look for one hundred, Morris?”

“You may,” the other had answered. “Oh, yes, you may look for it. There’s my car.”

It was a hard race to the square, but Peter sprinted desperately and swung himself up on the rear platform a second after Morris.

“You—you promise?” gasped Peter.

“Oh, yes, confound you! Get off or you’ll break your neck!”

Peter did not break his neck, but he afforded much amusement to a group of students by rolling riotously over the street for several yards. To-day, as he skirted the yard toward Morris’s room, he recalled that hard-bought promise and was comforted. Another hundred would bring his list up to the sum of three hundred and sixty-four dollars, far removed from the fabulous amount predicted by Armitage, but, after the ill success of the past four days, something over which to rejoice. During the bitterest moments of his laboring, Peter had comforted his soul with thoughts of that one hundred dollars.

Peter found Morris alone, lying at ease in a big, hospitable armchair, and in good humor.

“Hello!” Morris held forth a big, brown hand. “Glad to see you. Sit down.”

Peter made known the object of his visit, and finally Morris yawned and stretched a hand toward his desk.

“All right; toss me my check-book.”

Peter eagerly brought book and pen, ink and blotter, and the big freshman, using the arm of the chair for support, scrawled illegible characters. Then he tore off the little strip of pale-green paper and handed it to Peter.

“That’s the best I can do for you.”

He yawned again and closed his eyes. Peter opened his. “But—but this—this is for only ten dollars!”

“You’re good at figures,” muttered Morris, sleepily.

Peter stared at him in silence while the brass-dialed clock ticked twenty times. This, then, was the realization of his magnificent hopes!

A paltry ten dollars where he had looked for a hundred! What would Armitage and the others say? What would they think of him? Peter’s voice trembled in shrill, indignant protest:

“This isn’t fair, Morris! It isn’t honest! It isn’t—isn’t decent! Why, you promised a hundred, and I—we all counted on it; and now—now you give me this measly little ten!”

Morris swung slowly round and stared in bewilderment.

“Well!” he muttered, in awestruck tones.

“You ought to do more than this for the crew!” Peter went on, waving the check wildly in air. “You can afford to give what you promised, and—and by jiminy, you’ve got to!”

“Got to!” growled the other. He drew himself from the chair until he towered above Peter like a step-ladder above a footstool. He put his hands in the pockets of his jacket and looked down in frowning amusement. “Got to!” he repeated.

Peter’s face blanched from pale to the perfect whiteness of newly fallen snow, but he held his ground. His voice broke, but he answered:

“Yes.”

Morris laughed and slapped Peter on the shoulder.

“Good for you! But look here, take that check and get out. It isn’t your funeral, you know. And besides, ten dollars isn’t to be sneezed at. If every fellow in the class gave ten dollars——”

“But you know every fellow can’t!” broke in Peter. “You know lots of them can’t afford to give anything! But you can, Morris; you can afford to give what you promised—more than that.”

“Oh, leave off!” said Morris. “Run along with your check, like a good little boy.”

Peter hesitated; then he folded the slip of paper and placed it in his pocket. Taking the pen, he dipped it into the ink and wrote a receipt. Then he faced Morris again.

“Yes, I’ll take this on account. But I’ve got to have ninety more,” he said, doggedly. “And I’m going to have it. I’m going to keep at it until I get it. You’ve got to do what is right, Morris!”

“You’re like what’s-his-name’s raven,” sighed the other. “But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. When you get a hundred dollars out of me for the crew, I’ll—I’ll give you another fifty!” He laughed uproariously.

Peter strode to the door, and when he reached it turned and faced Morris impressively.

“Remember your promise!”

The door closed sternly behind him. Morris dropped into the armchair and laughed until the tears came. That was on Thursday.

The next day Peter returned. Morris’s study was filled with students. Morris was courteous to a fault, but Peter refused to be placated.

“Can you let me have that ninety dollars for the freshman crew to-day?” he asked. The crowd grinned. Morris shook his head and looked devastated with grief.

“I regret that I can not; not to-day. Perhaps next fall—or a year from yesterday, now——”

When the door was closed between him and the laughing enemy, Peter turned and shook a small, tightly clenched fist. “Wait!” he whispered, hoarsely.

That was on Friday.

Returning across the yard from chapel the next morning, Peter encountered Wyeth, Morris’s roommate. He carried a valise, and Peter knew that he was going home over Sunday.

“Beg pardon,” said Peter, “but can you tell me where I can find Morris?”

Wyeth hesitated. Then he laughed and played traitor. He jerked his head in the direction of Haworth, and scuttled for the car. Peter’s heart leaped as he hurried across the campus. When he reached the dormitory he crossed the courtyard and sprang up the stairs two at a time. The outer door was ajar. On the inner he knocked boldly. There was no response. He knocked again, then entered the study. The room was deserted. The sunlight shone in brightly through one window, where the curtain was drawn back. Peter investigated the bedroom to the left. It was empty. He crossed to the opposite door. Within lay Morris on a gorgeous brass bedstead, his big chest rising and falling in mighty respirations, his half-opened mouth emitting sounds resembling the subterranean roar of an idle geyser. One arm lay straight beside him; the other crossed his body, clutching the embroidered quilt.

The clock in the next room ticked on, slowly, monotonously, while Morris slept and Peter evolved an idea, an idea so grand, so desperate, that his flaming locks stirred uneasily upon his scalp and his breath came in gasps. Then he sighed as if from his very shoes. His mind was made up!

He crept into the study and locked the hall door, dropping the key into his pocket. On the wall by the fireplace hung a monstrous Mexican hat, three pairs of spurs, a quirt, and, gracefully encircling these, a long, braided rawhide lariat. With the aid of a chair Peter took the lariat from its place and crept noiselessly back to the bedroom. The giant still slept. With thumping heart Peter set to work.

For the next ten minutes he worked like a beaver—or a burglar. He made eight trips under the bed. At seven minutes past nine by the brass-dialed clock the last knot was tied, and Peter, trembling, breathless but triumphant, viewed his work with satisfaction. His enemy was delivered into his hands!

He returned to the study. He had no right, he told himself, to disturb Morris’s slumber; he must wait until the sleeper woke of his own accord. The hands of the clock crept round toward ten. Peter recollected that he was missing an English lecture, and would undoubtedly be kept from German. His regret, however, was but passing.

He took up a magazine, but had turned only two leaves when there reached him a sound like the spouting of a leviathan. He drew his knees together and shivered. The giant was waking! Then the bed creaked alarmingly and Peter crept to the door. At the same instant Morris opened his eyes, yawned, blinked, yawned again, tried to stretch his arms, and stared.

“Hello, Goldie! That you? What in thunder——”

He raised his head as far as circumstances allowed and saw himself, like Gulliver, enmeshed in a network of thongs. Amazement gave way to understanding, understanding to appreciation, appreciation to laughter. The bed shook. Peter gained courage and entered.

“Oh, Goldie,” cried the giant, “you’ll be the death of me yet, I know you will!”

Peter waited in silence.

“I didn’t think you were such a joker, Goldie, honest, I never did!”

“I’m glad I’ve amused you,” replied Peter, with immense dignity. “I assure you I had no idea of a joke.”

“No idea of a joke!” said Morris, vainly striving to wipe his streaming eyes on the pillow-slip by rolling his head. “Then what do you call this?”

“Business.”

“Business? Oh, well, call it what you like; it’s good, mighty good. To think that you managed to hog-tie me like this without waking me up! It’s—it’s— By the way, what time is it?”

“Just ten o’clock.”

“Great Scott! You don’t mean it? Here, untie these knots and let me up. I was going to be in town at eleven.”

Peter shook his head. Morris stared. The truth dawned.

“You don’t mean—” he began, incredulously. Peter nodded.

Well, I’ll be jiggered!

He lay and stared in amazement. Peter stared uncompromisingly back. The study clock ticked unnaturally loud. Peter was pale and Morris was of a redness that verged on purple. The storm broke suddenly.

“Why, you little red-headed, snub-nosed idiot!” bellowed Morris. “When I get up I’ll smash you into slivers! I’ll——”

He strove mightily to wrest himself from the clutches of the encircling lariat. He heaved, strained, twisted, writhed; but rawhide is uncompromising to a degree. At the end of one strenuous minute he subsided, panting, perspiring, glaring like a trapped lion. Peter sat down on the edge of the bed.

“I don’t want you to think,” he announced, “that I have taken this course willingly; you—you have driven me to it. I gave you full warning.”

Morris roared loudly, inarticulately. Peter waited politely, then continued, “I gave you fair warning. I told you I had to have the money. I regret putting you to this—this inconvenience, and——”

For a space the bed rocked like a scow in a squall.

“And assure you that as soon as you do your duty to the freshman crew and to yourself I’ll let you up.”

“Duty!” frothed Morris.


“Duty!” frothed Morris.

Peter interlaced his fingers round one knee and settled himself comfortably against the foot-rail. He observed the captive gravely, dispassionately, almost indulgently, as a just parent might view a disobedient child to whom punishment is being meted out. Then he began to talk. He pointed out to Morris that a college man’s duty does not end with himself; that he should consider the good of the university and his class, and stand ready and eager to support the honor of each to the best of his ability; that he should be willing to sacrifice his personal pleasure to that end. Class spirit, said Peter, was one of the most beautiful things about college life.

Peter talked leisurely, eloquently, even convincingly. Having established—to his own satisfaction, at least—the claim that the class body possesses on its members, he passed to the subject of the benefits of athletics. When he had exhausted that, he indicated the self-evident fact that athletics can prosper only with the support of the students. Morris by this time had raged himself dry of expletives, and was a silent, if unenthusiastic, auditor.

Peter was encouraged, and his eloquence increased. The freshman class, he declared, was in many ways the most important of all. Its contests on track, field and river were watched with interest second only to that given to the struggles of the varsity teams and crews. The class that attained honor in its freshman year established a stable basis for future glory. Those whose privilege it was to make possible that honor, either by labor or by financial support, should deem themselves fortunate.

Morris was now groaning impotently. Peter brushed a stray wisp of red-gold hair from his brow and went on, his eyes transfixing his victim. There were many in the class, he said, who could afford to contribute but little to the cause. There were others so fortunate as to be in position to give generously. It was the duty, the privilege of every fellow to give according to his means. In the case of Morris——

The clock chimed the half-hour. Morris gave a deep sigh and yielded.

“Goldie, for heaven’s sake cut it out!” he begged. “Let me up and I’ll write you a check for fifty dollars.”

“Ninety,” corrected Peter, firmly.

“Well, ninety.”

Peter rose and untied several knots. The result was not quite what Morris had expected. He found only his right arm free.

“Where’s your check-book?” asked Peter.

“In the desk. Aren’t you going to let me up?”

The only response was the sound of pen on paper. When Peter reappeared he placed the book before his captive and put the pen into his hand. “After you’ve signed,” he said.

Morris grumbled, but with some difficulty affixed his signature to the check for ninety dollars. Peter tore it off and once more presented the book. Morris stared. “What’s this?” he demanded.

“Another one for fifty,” answered Peter, quietly. “Remember your promise.”

“My promise?” cried Morris.

“Certainly. When I got one hundred from you for the crew you were to give me fifty more. Have you enough ink?”

Morris glowered, glancing from Peter’s inexorable countenance to the open check-book. Then he grinned craftily and signed.

“Now you’ve got to untie me,” he said.

Peter folded the two slips carefully and placed them in his pocket. Then he wrote a receipt for one hundred and forty dollars, Morris watching him uneasily.

“Thank you!” said Peter, laying down the receipt. “I am certain that you’ll be glad in the end that you were able to do so much for the crew. I am now going over to the bank”—Morris writhed—“to get these cashed. As soon as possible I’ll return and set you free.”

For a moment Morris fought against fate. Then he capitulated.

“Hold on, Goldie! I know when I’m beaten. I give you my word I won’t stop those if you’ll let me up now. What’s more, I won’t lay a hand on you, honor bright!”

Peter set about untying the knots; it was a long task.

“Had breakfast?” asked Morris, presently.

Peter had not. He had quite forgotten it.

“Well,” said Morris, “wait until I get my clothes on and we’ll go over to Brimm’s and have some.”

“All right,” stammered Peter. He flushed with pleasure and embarrassment.

“But what I can’t understand,” said Morris, a little later, stretching his cramped arms above his head, “what I can’t understand is why you want to go to all this bother about crew money. It isn’t your funeral.”

Peter Doe paused in the labor of undoing a particularly obstinate knot that confined Morris’s chest, and stared at the conquered giant in real surprise.

“Why, class spirit, of course!” he said.


THE FATHER OF A HERO

The Hero sat in the window-seat, and nursed his knee and frowned. He was rather young to be a hero, he lacked a month of being twenty; he looked eighteen. He had a round face, with a smooth, clear skin, over which spring suns had spread an even coat of tan that was wonderfully becoming. His eyes were blue, and his hair was as near yellow as hair ever is. For the rest, he was of medium height, slim, and well-built. His name was James Gill Robinson, Jr. Throughout college he was known as “Rob”; on the baseball diamond, the players, according him the respect due a superior, called him “Cap.” His father, with the privilege of an extended acquaintance, called him “Jimmie.”

The father leaned back in a dark-green Morris chair, one gray-gaitered foot swinging and his right thumb reposing between the second and third buttons of his white vest. This was a habit with the thumb, and meant that Mr. James Gill Robinson, Sr., was speaking of weighty matters, and with authority. The father was well this side of fifty and, like his son, looked younger than he was, for which an admirable complexion was to be thanked. He wore side-whiskers, and the brows above the sharp blue eyes were heavy and lent emphasis to the aggressive character of the lower part of his face. But if he was aggressive he was also fair-minded, and if he was obstinate he was kind-hearted as well; and none of these are bad qualities in a lawyer. And of course he was smart, too; as the father of James Gill Robinson, Jr., he couldn’t have been anything else.

Through the open window the length of the Yard was visible, intensely green and attractively cool. Fellows with straw hats adorned with fresh new bands of all colors and combinations of colors, fellows flannel-trousered and vestless, lounged on the grass or intersected the verdant, tree-shaded oblong, bearing tennis racquets or baseball bats. It was mid-June, warm, clear, and an ideal Saturday.

The Hero turned from a brief survey of the outside world and faced his father again, listening respectfully to the latter’s remarks, but quite evidently taking exception to the gist of them. At length he was moved to defense.

“But look here, dad, seems to me the showing I made last year proves that I haven’t neglected study.”

“That’s not the point, sir. I’ll acknowledge that you—ah—did uncommonly well last year. I was proud of you. We all were. And I take it for granted that you will do equally well, if not better, this year. I expect it. I won’t have anything else, sir! But you don’t gather my meaning. This is an old subject of controversy between us, Jimmie, and it does seem to me that by this time you should have come to an understanding of the position I take. But you haven’t; that’s clear, sir, and so I’ll state it once more.”

He paused, and glanced at a massive gold watch.

“It is twelve minutes after two; I’m not detaining you?” he asked, with a broad suggestion of sarcasm.

“No, sir, I have ten minutes yet,” answered the Hero.

“Ah, thank you. Well, now—” Mr. Robinson drew his eyebrows together while he silently marshaled his arguments. Then—“I have never,” he said, “opposed athletic sports in moderation. On the contrary, I think them—ah—beneficial. Mind you, though, I say in moderation, distinctly ‘in moderation!’ In fact, in my own college days I gained some reputation as an athlete myself.”

The Hero suppressed a smile. His father’s reputation had been gained as short-stop on a senior class nine that, with the aid of pistols, old muskets, and brass bands, had defeated, by a score of 27 to 16, a sophomore team, his father having made three home runs by knocking the ball into a neighboring back yard. The Hero had heard the history of that game many times.

“But you, sir,” continued Mr. Robinson, severely, “you, sir, are overdoing it. You are allowing athletics to occupy too much of your time and thought. I take to-day to be an average one?”

“Hardly, sir,” answered the Hero. “Saturday is always busier than week-days, and to-day we have one of our big games.”

“I am glad to hear it, very glad. I reached here at eleven o’clock, and you dragged me out to the field while you practised batting. At twelve you had a recitation. At one you took me to the training table, where I sat among a large number of very—ah—frivolous young men who constantly talked of things I do not, and do not care to understand. You have now kindly allowed me a half-hour of your society. In a minute or two you will tear off to the field again, to be there, so you tell me, until half past five. Now, sir, I ask you, is what I have described an equable adjustment of study and athletics, sir?”

“I’m very sorry, dad,” replied the Hero, earnestly. “If I’d known you were coming to-day I could have fixed things a little differently. But as it was, I couldn’t very well give you much time. I wish you’d come out to the game, sir. It’s going to be a thundering good one, I think. Princeton is after our scalps.”

“No, Jimmie, I refuse to lend countenance to the proceedings. You are overdoing it, sir, overdoing it vastly! Why, confound it, sir, who are you here at Harvard? What do I see in the morning paper? ‘Robinson is confident.’ ‘Plucky captain and first-baseman of the Harvard nine looks for a victory over the Tigers.’ That’s the sort of stuff I read, sir! A whole column of it! That’s who you are, sir; you’re just the baseball captain; you’re not James Robinson, Jr., not for a minute! And the papers are full of silly talk about you, and refer to you as ‘Rob.’ It’s disgraceful, if nothing else!”

“Well, dad, I don’t like that sort of notoriety any better than you do, but I don’t think it’s fair to blame me for it. When you win a big case at home it’s just the same, sir; the papers even print your picture sometimes, and that’s more than they do with mine, because they can’t get it.”

His father glared silently. It was too true to bear contradiction. But he wasn’t one to back down any further than was absolutely necessary.

“Maybe, sir, maybe. But let me inform you that winning an important case in the courts is decidedly different from winning a game of baseball before a lot of shouting, yelling idiots with tin horns and flags! Eh? What?”

“Well, I don’t altogether agree with you there, dad. In either case it’s a matter of using your brain and doing your level best and keeping your wits about you. The results may not be on a par as to importance, sir, although—” he smiled slightly—“maybe it depends some on the point of view. I tell you what, sir,” he went on, “you come out to the Princeton game this afternoon and if, when it’s over with, you say that trying to win a big game of college baseball isn’t worth doing, why, I’ll give up the captaincy and have nothing more to do with such things next year! What do you say, sir?”

“I refuse to enter into any such agreement, sir. Moreover, I have no intention of sitting on a plank in the hot sun and watching a lot of idiots run around the bases. No, sir, if you’ve got to take part in that game, as I suspect you have, you go ahead and I’ll look after myself. Only I must have at least one undisturbed hour with you before my train goes.”

“Certainly, dad; I’ll be with you all the evening. I hope you’ll be comfortable. You’ll find the library at the Union very pleasant if you want to read. I will be back here at about half after five. I do wish, though, you’d come out, sir.”

“You’ve heard me on that subject, Jimmie,” replied Mr. Robinson, severely. “Naturally, you—ah—have my wishes for success, but I must decline to make myself miserable all the afternoon.”

After the Hero had gone, Mr. Robinson, with much grumbling, strove to make himself comfortable with a book. But he had looked upon his journey to Cambridge as something in the way of a holiday, and sitting in a Morris chair didn’t conform to his idea of the correct way of spending it. The Yard looked inviting, and so he took the volume and went out under the trees. But he didn’t read. Instead he leaned the back of his immaculate gray coat against a tree-trunk and fell to thinking. From where he sat he could see, at a distance, the window of the room that he had occupied during his last two years in the Law School. That window suggested memories.

Presently he heard a voice near by. A fellow passing along in front of Matthews was hailing another.

“Aren’t you going over to the game?” he asked.

“Sure. What time is it?”

“Ten of three. Better come along now. I’ll wait for you.”

A moment later the other emerged from the doorway.

“How are you betting?” he asked.

“Even that we win.”

“Think so? Princeton’s got a wonderful young nine, they say.”

“So have we. ‘Rob’ says we’re going to win, and what he says goes, my boy.”

“Yes, he knows his business all right.”

“Well, I guess! He’s the best captain Harvard’s had for years and years, and he’s as level-headed as they make them. All ready?”

They went off in the direction of the Square. Mr. Robinson watched them and wondered what they would say if they knew “Rob’s” father had overheard them. He rather wished they could have known who he was. Then he frowned impatiently as he realized that in a moment of weakness he had coveted glory in the rôle of “Rob’s” father. But he was glad he had overheard that conversation. Even if Jimmie was paying altogether too much attention to baseball and too little to the graver features of college life, still he was glad that Jimmie was a good captain. He was—yes, he was proud of that.

It was very cool and restful there on the grass, with the whispering of the little breeze in the leaves above him, and he laid the book carefully aside, folded his hands, and closed his eyes. The Yard was deserted now save for the squirrels and the birds, and so for quite an hour none disturbed Mr. Robinson’s slumber. Once his hat fell off, and after a sleepy attempt to find it he let it go. His trousers gradually parted company with his gaiters, exposing a length of thin, black-clad ankle. Altogether he presented a most undignified spectacle, and a squirrel who ran down the tree-trunk and surveyed him from a position a foot or two above his head chattered his disapprobation. Perhaps it was this that woke Mr. Robinson up.

He yawned, arranged his trousers, recovered his hat, and looked at his watch. It was just four o’clock. He felt rather stiff, but the nap had rested him, and so he returned the book to the room with the idea of taking a walk. Swinging his gold-headed cane jauntily, he passed through the Square and made his way toward the river. The breezes would be refreshing, he told himself. But long before he reached the bridge disturbing sounds came to him, borne on the little west wind that blew in his face:

“Ha-a-ar-vard! Ha-a-ar-vard! Ha-a-ar-vard!”

He crossed the bridge, left the river behind and went on. Now from the right, around the corner of the Locker Building, came wild, confused cries:

“That’s pitching, old man; that’s pitching!” “Now, once more; make him hit it!” “Put it over; you can do it!” “Hai, hai, hai! Now you’re off! Down with his arm! On your toes, on your toes!” “Look out! Twenty minutes, Mr. Umpire!” “He’s out at first!

Then the cheering began again.

Mr. Robinson frowned, but kept on his way. He was back of the stands now. The scene was hidden from the street by a long strip of canvas. He looked about him; the road was deserted hereabouts. He stooped and strove to look under the canvas, but he saw only a pair of sturdy, red-stockinged legs. The cheering became wild and incoherent, and was punctuated with hand-clapping and the stamping of many feet on the boards. Mr. Robinson went on at a faster gait, something of excitement appearing in his face. At the gate a few loiterers stood about. Mr. Robinson approached one of them and asked with elaborate indifference:

“What—ah—what is the score?” “Seven to six in favor of Princeton. They’ve knocked Miller out of the box.”

“Indeed?” Mr. Robinson glanced at his watch. “I—ah—suppose the game is about over?”

“Last of the sixth. There, that’s three out. This is the seventh now.” From the left somewhere came cheers for Princeton.

“Thank you.” Mr. Robinson turned and went on, followed by long, inspiriting “Ha-a-ar-vards!” But the scenery was not attractive and the breeze was no longer cool. He stopped, frowned, and gazed absorbedly at the sidewalk, drawing figures with the end of his cane in the gravel.

“It must be very close,” he muttered. Then, after a moment, “Jimmie will be badly disappointed if they’re beaten.”

With sudden resolution he stuck his cane under his arm, pulled his waistcoat free of wrinkles, and walked quickly, determinedly, back to the entrance. At the ticket booth he drew a bill from his pocketbook and, in the act of purchasing, recalled his informant of a few minutes before. He was still there, craning his head and listening.

“Here, do you want to see the last of this?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” was the eager answer.

“Two tickets, please.”

Mr. Robinson strode through the gate followed by a freckle-faced, rather tattered youth of sixteen, and sought a seat.

“You come along with me,” he said to the boy. “I may want to know who some of these fellows are.”

Seats were hard to find, but in the end they obtained them on a stand back of third base. Mr. Robinson settled his stick between his knees and looked about him. The triangle of stands was crowded with excited men and women; men in straw hats and all sorts of vivid shirts, women in cool cotton dresses, with here and there a touch of crimson ribbon. The field stretched away green and level as a carpeted floor to the river and the boathouse. Princeton was at the bat. Mr. Robinson turned to his new acquaintance.

“Seven to six, you said?” The boy glanced at the little black score-board.

“Yes, sir, that’s right. See? Harvard made three in the first and two in the third and one in the fifth, and Princeton made three in the third and four in the fifth. That’s when they didn’t do a thing to Miller. Gee, I could hear ’em hittin’ him outside there! I’d like to been inside then, wouldn’t you?”

“Hm, yes,” replied Mr. Robinson.

“Say, what made you so late?” asked the other with a suspicion of a grievance in his voice. “Gee, if I’d been going to this game I bet you I’d been on time!”

“I—ah—I was detained,” replied Mr. Robinson. He realized that the boy held him in some contempt, and knew that it would never do to tell the whole truth about it; the other would simply look upon him as a lunatic. Clearly, too, he owed his acquaintance an apology. “I am sorry that I didn’t get here sooner,” he said, “so that you could have seen—ah—more of the contest.”

“So’m I,” was the frank response. Then, “Still, maybe if you’d come before you wouldn’t have taken me in with you?”

“That’s true; maybe I wouldn’t have—ah—noticed you. So perhaps it’s just as well, eh?”

“Yep. Hi-i-i!

Mr. Robinson gave attention to the game in time to see the second Princeton batter thrown out at first. The stands subsided again, and the ushers waved their hats and the cheering broke out afresh.

“Supposing you tell me who some of the men are,” suggested Mr. Robinson.

“Sure thing. That’s Hanlon pitching. He’s pretty good, but he ain’t as good as Miller, they say. I guess ‘Mill’ must have had an off day. And that’s Morton catching. Say, he’s a peach!”

“Indeed?”

“You bet; a regular top-of-the-basket peacherina! You just keep your eye on him.”

“Thank you, I will,” answered the listener. “And the small fellow at first base?”

The boy turned and stared at him, open-eyed and open-mouthed. Then he whistled softly but with emphasis.

“Say!” he exclaimed, finally, “where’ve you been?”

“Well, I—” Mr. Robinson faltered, and the other gave a grunt of disgust.

“Gee, I thought everybody knew ‘Rob’!”

“Knew——?”

“‘Rob.’ His name’s Robinson; they call him ‘Rob’ for short. He’s the captain, of course. Didn’t you know that?”

“Well, yes, I did, now that you mention it,” answered the man humbly. “Is—is he pretty good?”

“Pretty good! Why, he’s a star! He’s a wonder! He’s—” Words failed him. “Say, you must live in Chelsea!” he said at last.

“Chelsea?” repeated Mr. Robinson. “No, I don’t live there.”

“Anybody’d think you did,” muttered the boy.

The third man went out on a long fly to center field, and Harvard trotted in to bat.

“If Harvard loses this game,” said the boy, “it’ll break her record. She ain’t lost one this year. That’s Greene going to bat. He ain’t much good at hittin’; he generally strikes out.”

Greene sustained his reputation, and a tall youth, whom Mr. Robinson was informed was Billings, the left-fielder, made a hit to short-stop and reached first by a bad throw. Harvard filled the bases in that inning and the excitement became intense. A base-hit would bring in the desired two runs. But the Princeton pitcher wound himself into knots and untangled himself abruptly and threw wonderful balls, and the umpire, a short, round, little man with a deep voice, yelled “Strike!” “Strikes!” “Striker’s out!”

“Aw, thunder!” lamented Mr. Robinson’s companion. “That’s two gone. Ain’t that mean?”

Mr. Robinson, sitting on the edge of his seat, clutching his cane desperately with both hands, nodded. Over on the other stands, across the diamond, they were standing up and cheering grimly, imploringly. The Harvard short-stop took up his bat and faced the pitcher. Back of second and third bases the coaches were yelling loudly:

“On your toes, Charlie, on your toes! Go down with his arm! Now you’re off! Whoa-a-a! Look out for second-baseman! All right! He won’t throw it! Whoa-a-a!

“Strike!” called the umpire.

“Aw, gee!” muttered the boy.

“Now, lively. Watch his arm! Come on, come on! Hi, hi, hi! Look out for passed balls! Now you’re off!

“Strike two,” called the umpire.

Mr. Robinson thumped the boards with his cane.

Then there came a crack as the batsman found the ball, and the men on bases rushed home. But the arching sphere fell softly into the left-fielder’s hands, and the nines again changed places. Mr. Robinson and his acquaintance exchanged looks of disgust.

“Wasn’t that rotten?” asked the boy with the freckled face.

“Awful!” answered Mr. Robinson.

Nothing happened in either half of the eighth inning, but the suspense and excitement were intense, nevertheless. Princeton reached second once, but that was the end of her chances. Harvard got her first man to first, but the succeeding three struck out. The cheers were hoarse, incessant. The ushers waved hats and arms wildly. And Princeton went to bat for the first of the ninth.

“Now, then, fellows, get together!” Mr. Robinson recognized his son’s voice, cheerful, hopeful, inspiriting. The Hero was trotting to his place at first. “Ginger up, everybody, and shut them out!”

“All right, Cap!” “We’ve got them on the run, Cap!” “Lucky ninth, Rob!” The in-fielders were answering with the same cheerful assumption of confidence. To the right of Mr. Robinson a section of the stand was waving orange and black streamers and flags, and cheering joyously. The Princeton pitcher stepped to the plate.

But Hanlon, if he wasn’t the equal of the deposed Miller, was on his mettle. The batter had two strikes called on him, and then struck at a deceptive drop. The ball thumped into the hands of Morton, the “top-of-the-basket peacherina.”

“Striker’s out,” droned the little man in black.

Then came a long hit over short-stop’s head and the batsman reached first without hurrying. A moment later he had stolen second. The next man sent him to third, but was put out himself at first.

“Gee, a hit will bring him in, won’t it?” asked the boy. “But there’s two out. Maybe——”

The man at bat had found a high ball and had sent it whizzing down the base-line, eight feet or more in the air. The man on third was speeding home, the runner racing for first. The Hero threw his arms over his head and jumped lightly off his toes. The next instant he was rolling head over heels, but one hand was held triumphantly aloft and in it was the ball.

He’s out!” called the umpire.

The panting, weary crimson-legged players trotted in amid a salvo of applause. Mr. Robinson was beaming proudly, delightedly across at the Hero. The boy was shouting absurdly and beating the planks with his heels.

“Gee, if they can only make two runs they’ll have ’em beaten!” he cried, excitedly.

“Yes,” said Mr. Robinson; “do you think they can?”

“I dunno. Maybe they can. Say, didn’t I tell you that ‘Rob’ was a corker? Did you see that catch? That wasn’t anything for him; I’ve seen him do better stunts than that; that was just ordinary, that was!”

Now had come Harvard’s last chance. After the one round of cheering that greeted the first man at the plate, silence fell. The man was Morton, the catcher, and he struck out miserably, and turned away toward the bench with wobegone countenance. The Harvard second-baseman took his place. With two strikes and two balls called on him, he hit out a straight grounder between second-baseman and short-stop and reached first by a good margin. The next man struck at the first ball and it passed the catcher. The man on first took second. Then the Princeton pitcher steadied down.

“Strike two,” said the umpire.

Then the batter hit at a low ball and popped it high and straight over the base. The audience held their breath. Down—down it came plump into the catcher’s hands.

“Two gone,” groaned the boy with the freckled face. And then, “Hi! Here comes ‘Rob’!”

The Hero was picking out a bat, carefully, calmly, and the stands were shouting “Robinson! Robinson! Robinson!” hoarsely, entreatingly. The Hero settled his cap firmly, wiped his hands in the dust and gripped his bat. Then he stood, blue-eyed, yellow-haired, smiling, confronting the Princeton pitcher. The latter doubled and unbent.

“Ball,” droned the umpire. The Hero tapped the base and smiled pleasantly. The pitcher studied him thoughtfully, while the catcher knelt and beat his mitten in signal for a “drop.” Again the pitcher went through his evolutions, again the ball sped toward the plate. Then there was a loud, sharp crack!

High and far sailed the sphere. The Hero’s crimson stockings twinkled through the dust as he turned first and raced for second. The man who had been on second crossed the plate. The stands were sloping banks of swaying, shrieking humanity. Far out in the green field beyond the center’s position the ball fell, a good ten feet beyond the frantic pursuers. Then the center-fielder seized it and hurled it in to short-stop with a hard, swift throw that made the runner’s chances of reaching the plate look dim. But he was past third and still running like a twenty-yard sprinter, while along the line beside him ran and leaped and shouted two coaches:

Come on, Cap! Come on! You can do it, Cap! You can do it! Run hard! Hard!

Short-stop swung, and threw straight and sure toward where the catcher, with outstretched arms and eager white face, awaited it above the dust-hidden plate. Ball and runner sped goalward. The stands were bedlams of confused shouts and cries. Mr. Robinson was on his feet with the rest, his hat in one hand, his gold-mounted cane in the other. He had been shrieking with the rest, stamping with them, waving with them. His face was red and his eyes wide with excitement. And now he measured the distance from ball to plate, from plate to runner, with darting glances, and raised his voice in one final, triumphant effort:

Slide, Jimmie! Slide!

Above the riot of sound arose that despairing command. The ball thumped against the catcher’s mit and his arm swung swiftly outward and downward. But it didn’t hit the runner. He was sprawling face down above the plate in a cloud of brown dust. Jimmie had slid.

“Safe!” cried the umpire.


Two hours later the Hero and his father were at dinner in a Boston hotel. Mr. Robinson dropped a crumb into his empty soup-plate and smiled across the table in the manner of one well pleased with the world.

“I haven’t seen a game of baseball like that, Jimmie,” he said, “since we won the class championship back in ’73.” He looked reminiscent for a moment; then asked suddenly: “By the way, didn’t you say they’d make you captain again next year?”

“They will, if I’ll take it, sir.”

“If you’ll take it! What’s to prevent your taking it? Don’t be a fool, Jimmie!”

The Hero applied his napkin to his lips to hide a smile.

“Very well, sir,” he replied, gravely, “I won’t.”


THE HAZING OF SATTERLEE 2d

Satterlee 2d tossed his arms over his head and opened his eyes. It was of no use. As a much smaller boy—he was now thirteen years of age—his mother, on putting him to bed, had always counseled “Now shut your eyes and go to sleep.” And it had worked to a charm; so infallibly that Satterlee 2d had unconsciously accepted it as a law of nature that in order to go to sleep one had only to close one’s eyes. To-night, after lying with lids forced so tightly together that they ached, he gave up the struggle. Something was plainly wrong.

He snuggled the comforter up under his nose and stared into the darkness. A thin, faint pencil of light was discernible straight ahead and rather high up. After a moment of thought he knew that it stole in at the top of the door from the hall, where an oil lamp flickered all night on a bracket. From his right came faint gurgles, as regular as clockwork. That was Sears, his room-mate, fast clasped in the arms of Morpheus. Satterlee 2d envied Sears.

Back of him the darkness was less intense for a little space. The shade at the window was not quite all the way down and a faint gray light crept in from a cloudy winter sky. Satterlee 2d wondered what time it was. Sears had blown out the light promptly at ten o’clock, and that seemed whole hours ago. It must be very late, and still he was not sleepy; on the contrary, he couldn’t remember having ever been wider awake in his life. His thoughts flew from one thing to another bewilderingly.

It had been very sudden, his change from home life to boarding-school. His mother had not been satisfied with his progress at the grammar-school, and when brother Donald, Satterlee 2d’s senior by two years, had returned from Dr. Willard’s school for Christmas vacation, healthy looking and as full of spirits as a young colt, the decision was made; Thomas should go back to school with Donald.

Thomas was amazed and delighted. Until that moment he had conscientiously treated all mention of Willard’s with scathing contempt, a course absolutely necessary, since Don was in the habit of chanting its praises at all times and in all places in a most annoyingly superior manner. But as soon as he learned that he too was to become a pupil at Willard’s Tom swore instant allegiance, for the first time hearkening eagerly to Don’s tales of the greatness of the School, and vowing to make the name of Thomas Polk Satterlee one to be honored and revered by future generations of Willardians. He would do mighty deeds in school hall and campus—more especially campus—and would win wonderful popularity. And then he bade a moist-eyed farewell to home and parents, and, in care of his travel-hardened brother, set forth for boarding-school, filled with pleasurable excitement and fired with patriotism and grand resolves.

One thing alone had worried Satterlee 2d; the school catalogue, which he had studied diligently from end to end, stated very distinctly—in fact, in italics—that hazing was strictly forbidden and unknown at the institution. Brother Don, on the other hand, told scalp-stirring tales of midnight visitations to new boys by groups of ghostly inquisitors. These two authorities, the only ones at Tom’s command, were sadly at variance. But experience had taught Satterlee 2d that printed text was on the whole more apt to be truthful than Brother Don; and he gained comfort accordingly.

He had made his début at Willard’s in proper style, had been formally introduced to many other young gentlemen of ages varying from twelve to eighteen years, had shaken hands humbly with Burtis, the school leader, and had officially become Satterlee 2d.

He and his new roommate, Sears, had become firm friends in the short period of three hours, and, realizing Sears’s good-will toward him, he had listened to that youth’s enigmatic warning, delivered just as the light went out, with respect.

“Say, if anything happens to-night, don’t wake me; I don’t want to know anything about it.”

Satterlee 2d’s troubled questioning elicited only sleepy and very unsatisfactory answers, and he had laid awake, hour after hour, or so it seemed, with ears strained for suspicious sounds. But none had come, and now—he yawned and turned over on the pillow—now he thought that he could go to sleep at last. He closed his eyes.

Then he opened them again. It seemed hours later, but was in fact scarcely five minutes. A bright, unhallowed light shone on his face. White-draped figures, silent and terrible, were about him.

Ghosts!” thought Satterlee 2d.

But just as he had gathered sufficient breath for a satisfactory scream of terror, and just as some one had forced the corner of a pillow into his mouth, recollection of Brother Donald’s tales came to him and his fears subsided. With the supernatural aspect removed, the affair resolved into an unpleasant but not alarming adventure. It is idle to relate in detail the subsequent proceedings. Blindfolded and attired only in a bath-robe, hastily thrown over his nightshirt, he was conducted along corridors and down long flights of stairs, over strange, uneven expanses of frozen ground, skirting frightful abysses and facing dangers which, had he believed the asseverations of his captors, were the most awful ever mortal braved. Despite his incredulity he was glad when the end of the journey was reached. He was led stumbling down three very chilly stone steps and brought to a halt. The atmosphere was now slightly warmer, and this at least was something to be thankful for.

“Neophyte,” said a deep voice which sounded suspiciously like Brother Don’s, “you have passed unscathed through the Vale of Death. The first period of your initiation into the Order of the Grinning Skull is accomplished. We leave you now to dwell alone, until dawn gilds the peak of yonder mountain, among the Spirits of the Under World. Should you survive this, the most terrible ordeal of all, you will be one of us and will be admitted into the secrets and counsels of our Order. Farewell, perhaps forever!”

The hands that held him drew away, he heard the sounds of retreating footsteps, of a closing door and a creaking bolt. He remained motionless, his heart beating against his ribs. He wanted to cry out, to bring them back, but pride was still stronger than fear. The silence and damp odor of the place were uncanny. He thought of tombs and things, and shuddered. Then summoning back his waning courage, he tore the bandage from his eyes. Alas, he was still in complete darkness.

Satterlee 2d’s reading had taught him that the proper thing to do in such situations was to explore. So he put forth his hands and stepped gingerly forward. He brought up against a cold, reeking stone wall. He followed it, found a corner, turned at right angles, soon found another corner, and then worked back, at length coming in contact with the steps and a heavy door. All efforts to move the latter were vain. The floor was of wood and sounded hollow. The place had a clammy, unwholesome feeling, and now was beginning to strike him as decidedly wanting in warmth and comfort.

Suddenly his subsiding fear gave way before a rush of anger and he stamped a slippered foot. A nice trick to play on a fellow, he declared aloud; he’d tell Don what he thought of it in the morning, and he’d punch somebody’s head, see if he didn’t! In his wrath he stepped impetuously forward and gave a shriek of horror. He was up to his knees in icy water.

He clambered out and sat shivering on the planks, while the knowledge came to him that his prison was nothing else than the spring-house, which Don had exhibited to him that afternoon during a tour of sight-seeing. A narrow staging surrounded a large pool, he remembered; in his journey about the place he had kept in touch with the walls, and so had escaped a wetting, until his impetuous stride had plumped him into it. Cold, wet, angry and miserable, he crept to the farther corner of the house, to get as far as possible from the drafts that eddied in under the door, and placing his back against the wall and wrapping his wet garments about his knees, closed his eyes and tried to go to sleep. He told himself that sleep was out of the question. But he was mistaken, for presently his head fell over on one side and he slumbered.

When he awoke with a start, aroused by the sound of the opening of the door, he stared blankly into the gloom and wondered for a moment where he was. An oblong of gray at the end of the spring-house drew his gaze. Two forms took shape, stumbled down the steps, and were lost in the darkness. Then the door was closed again save for a narrow crevice. His first thought that rescue was at hand was instantly dispelled. Some one coughed painfully, and then:

“Phew, I’m nigh dead with cold,” said a weak, husky voice. “Two miles from the village you said it was, didn’t yer? I’ll bet it’s five, all right.”

“Well, you’re here now, ain’t yer?” responded a deeper voice, impatiently. “So shut up. You make me tired, always kicking about something. What do you expect, any way? Think the old codger’s going to drive into town and hand the money over to yer? If you want anything you’ve got to work for it.”

The two had sprawled themselves out on the floor to the left of the doorway. Satterlee considered. Perhaps if he made his presence known, the men, who were evidently tramps, would let him depart unmolested. On the other hand, maybe they would be angry and cut his throat promptly and very expertly, and drop his body into the pool. He shivered and clenched his fists, resolved to perish bravely. He wished he were home in his own bed; he wished—then he stopped wishing and listened.

“How long we got to stay here?” asked the first tramp wearily.

“We’ll wait till ’bout twelve. The doctor’s a great hand at staying up late, I hear.”

“What time do you say it is now?”

“Half past eleven, I guess.”

“Phew!” The other whistled lugubriously. “I’ll be dead with the cold by that time, Joe.” He went off into a paroxysm of coughing that made Satterlee 2d, in spite of his terror, pity him, but which only brought from his companion an angry command to make less noise.

“All right,” was the husky response, “give me some ’baccy, Joe? There’s more’n time fer a bit of a smoke.” There followed sounds from across the darkness and Satterlee 2d surmised that each was filling his pipe. Then a match flared suddenly and lighted up the scene. The boy shut his eyes and held his breath. Then he opened them the least crack and peered across. The men were sitting just to the left of the doorway, diagonally across from him. Between them lay the black oblong of water splashed with orange by the flickering match. Satterlee 2d wondered if it would never burn out! He could see only a tangled beard, a glittering, half-closed eye, two big hands, between the fingers of which the guarded light shone crimson. The light went out and he drew a monstrous sigh of relief. The odor of tobacco floated across to him, strong and pungent.

The two smoked silently for a moment. Satterlee 2d stared wide-eyed into the darkness and tried to discover a way out of the difficulty. From what little conversation he had overheard he judged that the tramps meditated some crime against Doctor Willard, probably robbery. If he entertained any doubt upon the subject it was quickly dispelled. The tramp with the cough was talking.

“Who’s goin’ inside, Joe?”

“You; you’re smallest an’ lightest an’ can get through the window easy. I’ll stand watch. If I whistle, make a run for it an’ try to get into the woods across the road.”

“Ye-es, but I don’t know the lay of the room like you do, Joe.”

“Well, I’m goin’ to tell yer, ain’t I? When yer get through the window, turn to yer right an’ keep along the wall; there ain’t nothin’ there but bookcases; when yer get to the corner there’s a round table; look out fer that. Keep along the wall again; there’s more book-shelves, about six or eight feet of ’em. Then you comes to a high case with a lid that lets down an’ makes a desk and swingin’ glass doors above it; you know the sort o’ thing I mean, eh?”

“Old-fashion’ secretary,” said the other, evidently proud of his knowledge.

“Correct! Well, you want to let down the lid——”

“Locked?”

“Likely it is; use ther little jimmy; the money’s in the lower drawer on the left side. I don’t know what all’s there; better clean the drawer out, see?”

Satterlee 2d was thinking hard, his heart in his throat and his pulse hammering. He must get out of the spring-house somehow and warn the doctor. But how? The men were practically between him and the door. To make a dash for liberty would surely result disastrously; if they caught him—Satterlee 2d’s teeth chattered! If he waited until they went out and then followed he might be able to arouse the doctor or scare the burglars away, if they didn’t bolt the door again on the outside, and so make him once more a prisoner. The only plan that seemed at all feasible was to creep inch by inch to the doorway and then make a dash for freedom. An impatient stir across the spring-house warned him that whatever plan was to be tried must be attempted speedily. He wriggled softly out of his bath-robe, gathered the skirt of his nightgown in one hand, took a long breath, and started forward on his hands and knees. The men were talking again, and one of the pipes was sizzling loudly.

All went well for a moment, a moment that seemed an age, and he had reached a point half-way to the door, when his hand slipped on the wet boards with a noise, faint but distinct. He stopped short, his hair stirring with fright.

“S—sh!” One of the men scrambled to his feet.

“What’s the matter?” growled the other.

“I heard somethin’—over there.”

“A frog, likely, you fool; got a match?”

Satterlee 2d was desperate. He was lost unless he could reach the doorway first. He started forward again with less caution, and one knee struck the floor sharply. A light flared out, and for a moment he stared across the pool into two pairs of wide-open, gleaming eyes. Then the match dropped into the water with a tiny hiss, and Satterlee 2d leaped for the door. The streak of light was now but a scant two yards distant. Near at hand sounded feet on the planking, and from the pool came a splashing as one of the men rushed through the water. Then a hand grasped the boy’s bare ankle. With a shriek he sprang forward, the grasp was gone, and from behind him as he fled stumbling up the steps came the sound of a heavy fall and a cry of triumph.

“I’ve got him!”

“You’ve got me, you fool! Let go!”

The next instant Satterlee 2d was through the doorway, had slammed the portal behind him, and had shot the big iron bolt despairingly. With closed eyes he leaned faint and panting against the oak while blow after blow was rained on it from within and hoarse oaths told of the terror of the prisoners. But the stout door showed no signs of yielding, and Satterlee 2d opened his eyes and looked about him. The night was cloudy, but the school-buildings were discernible scarce a stone-throw away.

When Doctor Willard, awakened from sleep by the wild jangling of the bell, drew his dressing-gown about him and looked forth, it was with astonishment and alarm that he beheld a white-robed youth pulling excitedly at the bell-knob. His astonishment was even greater when, having found and adjusted his spectacles, he made out the youth to be Satterlee 2d, who, by every rule of common sense, ought at that moment to be asleep in the dormitory.

“But—but I don’t understand,” faltered the doctor. “Do you mean that you have a gang of burglars locked up in the spring-house?”

“Yes, sir; two, sir; two burglars, sir!”

“Dear me, how alarming! But how——?”

“Don’t you think we could get the police, sir?”

“Um—er—to be sure. The police; yes. Wait where you are.”

The window closed, and presently the tinkle of a telephone bell sounded. A minute or two later and Satterlee 2d, cold and aching, sat before the big stove in the library, while the doctor shook and punched the coals into activity.

“I’ve telephoned for the police,” said the doctor, gazing perplexedly over his spectacles. “And now I would like to know what it all means, my boy.”

“I—I was in the spring-house, sir,” began Satterlee 2d, “when I heard a noise——”

“One moment,” interrupted the doctor. “What were you doing in the spring-house at midnight?”

Satterlee dropped his eyes. He searched wildly for an explanation that would not incriminate Donald and the others. Finally he gave it up.

“I—I’d rather not say, if you please, sir.”

“Um,” said the doctor. “Very well, we’ll pass over that for the present. What happened when you heard a noise?”

Before Satterlee 2d had finished his story there came the sound of wheels on the driveway without, which sent the doctor to the door. For a minute the boy listened to the hum of voices in the hallway. Then he commenced to nod—nod——

He awoke to find the winter sunlight streaming through the windows of the doctor’s guest-chamber, and to learn from the clock on the mantel that it was long after breakfast time. His clothes were beside him on a chair and he tumbled into them hurriedly, the events of the night flooding back to memory. He ate breakfast in solitary grandeur, his thoughts fixed miserably on the explanation that must follow. His indignation against Donald and the others had passed; he pitied them greatly for the punishment which he felt certain would soon be meted out to them. And he pitied himself because it was his lot to bring that punishment about. His visions of popularity faded into nothingness. For a moment he thought of cutting it all; of walking straight from the dining-room to the station and disappearing from the scene.

But when he pushed back his half-eaten breakfast and arose to his feet it was to grip his hands rather tight, and with pale cheeks walk, laggingly but directly, to the school hall. Prayers were over, and the doctor was rubbing his spectacles reflectively, preparatory to addressing the pupils. Satterlee 2d’s advent created a wave of excitement, and all eyes were on him as he strode to his seat. The doctor donned his glasses and surveyed the scene.

“Satterlee 2d!”

That youth arose, his heart thumping sickeningly.

“There was a portion of your story,” said the head master suavely, “which you did not tell last night. Kindly explain now, if you please, how you came to be in the spring-house at midnight.”

Satterlee 2d looked despairingly at the doctor, looked desperately about the room. Brother Donald was scowling blackly at his ink-well. Burtis, the school leader, was observing him gravely, and in his look Satterlee 2d thought he read encouragement. The doctor coughed gently.

Satterlee 2d had been taught the enormity of lying, and his conscience revolted at the task before him. But Don and the others must be spared. He made a heroic effort.

“Please, sir, I went to get a drink.”

Depressing silence followed. Satterlee 2d’s eyes sought the floor.

“Indeed?” inquired the doctor, pleasantly. “And did you get your drink?”

“Yes, sir.” Satterlee 2d breathed easier. After all, lying wasn’t so difficult.

“Ah, and then why didn’t you return to the dormitory?”

“The—door was locked, sir.”

Somebody near by groaned softly. Satterlee 2d wondered.

“On the inside?” pursued the doctor.

Too late Satterlee 2d saw his blunder. He gazed appealingly at the inexorable countenance on the platform. Then,

 

“No, sir,” he answered in low tones, “on the outside.”

“Strange,” mused the head master. “Do you know who locked it?”

“No, sir.” He gave a sigh of relief. That, at least, was no more than the truth.

“You may sit down.” Satterlee 2d sank into his seat.

“Which of you locked that door?” The doctor’s gaze swept the schoolroom. Silence followed. Then two youths were on their feet simultaneously. One was Burtis, the other was Satterlee 1st. The doctor turned to the former.

“Am I to understand that you had a hand in this, Burtis?” he asked, surprise in his voice.

“No, sir. If you please, sir, what I want to say is that the school as a whole had nothing to do with this hazing, sir, and we—we don’t like it. And if those that had a hand in it don’t own up, sir, I’ll give their names. That’s all, sir.”

He sat down. Young Mr. Sears signified excited approbation by clapping his hands until he found the doctor’s gaze upon him, whereupon he subsided suddenly with very red cheeks. The doctor turned to Satterlee 1st.

“Well, sir?”

Brother Donald shot an angry glance at Burtis.

“Burtis needn’t talk so big, sir; he’d better give a fellow a chance before he threatens——”

“That will do, my boy; if you have anything to say let me hear it at once.”

“I—I locked that door, sir.”

“Indeed? And did you have any help in the matter?”

Brother Donald dropped his gaze and was silent. Then, with much shuffling of unwilling feet, slowly, one after another, five other boys stood up.

“Well, Perkins?” asked the doctor.

“I helped,” said that youth.

“And the rest of you?” Four subdued voices answered affirmatively. The doctor frowned from one to the other. Then,

“You may take your seats,” he said, severely.

The six sank into their places and miserably awaited judgment. The doctor ran his fingers thoughtfully over the leaves of the big dictionary on the corner of his desk, then began to speak. The discourse that followed was listened to with flattering attention. It dealt very fully with the evils of hazing and seemed to promise something quite unusual in the way of punishment. Brother Donald had fully five minutes of the discourse all to himself, but appeared not at all stuck up because of the attention. In fact, when he had listened to all the doctor had to say on the subject of brotherly conduct, his countenance was expressive of shame rather than conceit. Altogether, it was quite the most exhaustive “wigging” in the recollection of the oldest pupil in the school, and therefore it was with genuine surprise that the Doctor’s concluding sentences were heard.

“In the present case,” he said, “I am inclined to be lenient. Unwittingly you have prevented the probable loss to me of several hundred dollars, and have secured the arrest of two members of society who are—hem—better placed in jail than outside. This does not morally exempt you from blame; your conduct is none the less despicable; but, nevertheless, in view of these circumstances, I shall make your punishment as light as is consistent. But first you will give me your promise that never, so long as you are in my school, will you take part in or countenance hazing in any form, shape or manner whatsoever. Have I that promise?”

Six voices sounded as one.

“Very well. Now I shall require all six of you to remain within bounds until the Easter vacation. This means that you will not be privileged, as usual, to visit the village on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. That is all. You will please carefully remember what I have said. We will now take up the lessons.”

A well-defined murmur of relief passed over the room. Then,

“If you please, sir,” said a voice, quietly, from among the boys.

The doctor glanced up.

“What is it, Satterlee 2d?”

“If you please, sir, I’d like to take the punishment with the others, sir.”

“Indeed?” The doctor looked puzzled. “And for what reason?”

“For—for lying, sir.”

“For what?”

“For—for not telling the truth, sir.”

“H—m.”

The doctor removed his spectacles and polished them slowly, very slowly, as if he were doing some hard thinking. Then he replaced them and faced the class.

“I—hem—I will exempt you from punishment. It isn’t what you deserve, not by a great deal, but—you may thank Satterlee 2d.”

Satterlee 2d’s popularity began at that moment.


A PAIR OF POACHERS

Tom Pierson strode briskly down the hill, fishing-rod in hand. As long as he had been in sight of the school he had skulked in the shadow of the hedges, for he knew that Satterlee 2d was looking for him, and the society of that youth was the last thing he desired at present. For Satterlee 2d possessed the highly erroneous idea that the best way to catch trout was to make as much noise as possible and to toss sticks and pebbles into the brook. And so Tom, a devout disciple of Izaak Walton, preferred to do without his chum when he went fishing.

The time was a quarter after four of a late May afternoon. Tom had tossed the last book into his desk and slammed the lid just fifteen minutes before. From the school-hall he had sneaked to the dormitory, and secured his rod, line, and flies. Even as he had descended warily by means of the fire-escape, he had heard the voice of Satterlee 2d calling his name in the corridor. He had reached the brook path undetected by dodging from dormitory to school-hall and from school-hall to engine-house, and so to the protecting shadows of the high hedge that marked the western limit of the school-grounds. Most of the other two dozen pupils of Willard’s were down on the field, busy with balls and bats. But no form of athletics appealed to Tom Pierson as did angling, and to-day, with the white clouds chasing one another across the blue sky and the alder-bordered brook in sight, he was almost happy. Almost, but not quite; for even at sixteen life is not always clear of trouble. Tom’s trouble was “Old Crusty.” If it were not for “Old Crusty,” he thought gloomily, as he swung his pole through the new grass, he would be quite happy.

“Old Crusty’s” real name, you must know, was Professor Bailey: he was one of the two submasters; and as for being old, he was in truth scarce over forty—a good ten years younger than Doctor Willard, the head master, to whom, for some reason, the fellows never thought of referring as “Old Willard.” Professor Bailey and Tom had never, from the first, got on at all well together. The professor believed Tom quite capable of mastering mathematics as well as others of his form, and had scant patience for the boy’s sorry performances. Tom believed that “Old Crusty” dealt more severely with him than with the rest—in short, to use his own expression, that the professor “had it in for him.” One thing is certain: the more the submaster lectured Tom and ridiculed his efforts before the class, the more he kept him in after school, the less Tom knew of mathematics, and the wider grew the breach between pupil and teacher.

In all other studies Tom was eminently successful, and there is no doubt but that with a better understanding between him and the submaster the former would have made a creditable showing in the science that was at present the bane of his life. But, as it was, Tom hated “Old Crusty” with a great hatred, while the submaster felt for Tom a large contempt, if not an absolute aversion. And it must be acknowledged that Tom gave him sufficient cause.

A great deal of this passed through Tom’s mind as he descended the path and reached the shelter of the low-spreading alders that marked the course of the brook. But, with the sound of the bubbling water in his ears, he put trouble behind him. Laying aside his coat, he fitted his split-bamboo rod, and studied the sky and the pool before him. Then he chose a rather worn brown fly, and cast it gently into the center of the limpid basin. Above him the branches almost met, and he knew from experience that if he hooked a trout he would have to play him down-stream before he could land him. Ten minutes passed, but, save for the inquiring nibble of a sunfish or similar small fry, he found no encouragement. The sun went behind a large cloud, and Tom changed his fly for a bright red-and-gray one. But even that failed to entice the trout. He grew impatient, for the school rules required him to be back in bounds by half past five. Presently he drew in his line, donned his coat, and made his way noiselessly down-stream. When he had gone some ten yards, creeping from bank to rock and from rock to bank again, not without more than once filling his scuffed shoes with water, he came to a fence, the rails of which reached straight across the stream, which here narrowed to a rocky cascade. On the trunk of a big willow at one side there was a board. On the board was the legend:

PRIVATE PROPERTY

TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED

TO THE FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW

Tom winked at the sign, and climbed the fence. He did it so nimbly and expeditiously as to suggest a certain amount of experience. In truth, Tom had crossed that fence before, not once but several times, since the trout had commenced to bite that spring. If it will make his conduct appear any less heinous, it may be said in his behalf that he always gave a fair trial to that part of the brook within the school-grounds, and only when success failed him there did he defy the law and become a trespasser on the estate of Fernwood. It would be interesting to know whether old Father Walton always respected “No trespassing” signs. Whether he did or did not, he appears to have left as a heritage to his followers a special code of morals where forbidden property is concerned; for often a man who will hold the theft of an apple from a roadside orchard in utmost horror will not hesitate to extract a fish from a neighbor’s brook and bear it off in complacent, untroubled triumph. If I have dealt at undue length upon this subject, it is because, for the sake of my hero, I wish the reader to view such amateur poaching as his with as lenient an eye as possible.

Fernwood held one widely celebrated pool, from which, even when all of the other pools refused to give up a single fish, the practised angler could invariably draw at least a trio of good-sized trout. Toward this ideal spot Tom Pierson, making his way very quietly that he might not disturb and so cause unnecessary trouble to a couple of very alert gardeners, directed his steps. Once, in spite of care, his line became entangled, and once he went to his knees in the icy water. Yet both these mishaps but whetted his appetite for the sport ahead. When he had gained a spot a dozen yards up-stream from the big pool, he paused, laid aside pole-rod and paraphernalia, and crept cautiously forward to reconnoiter. If, he argued very plausibly, discovery was to fall to his lot, at least it were better to be found guiltless of fishing-tackle. He crouched still lower, as, over by a clump of dead willows within the school bounds, he espied through the trees the jauntily appareled Satterlee briskly whipping the surface of the brook with unsportsmanlike energy and apparent disregard of results. Tom, however, knew himself to be unobserved, so felt no fear from that source. But just as the dark waters of the pool came into sight between the lapping branches, a sound, close at hand and unmistakable as to origin, caused his heart to sink with disappointment. There would be no fishing for him to-day, for some one was already at the pool. The soft click of a running-reel came plainly to his ears.

He paused motionless, silent, and scowled darkly in the direction of the unseen angler. Then he went forward again, peering under the leaves. At least he would know who it was that had spoiled his sport. Three steps—four; then he suddenly stood upright and gasped loudly. His eyes opened until they seemed about to pop out of his head, and he rubbed them vigorously, as though he doubted their evidence. After a moment he again stooped, this time sinking almost to his knees, and never heeding the icy water that well-nigh benumbed his immersed feet. On the farther side of the broad pool, in plain sight, stood “Old Crusty!”

He was hatless and coatless, and palpitant with the excitement of the sport. His lean and somewhat sallow face was flushed above the prominent cheek-bones, and his gray eyes sparkled brightly in the gloom of the clustering branches. He stood lithely erect, the usual studious stoop of the shoulders gone for the time, and, with one hand firmly grasping the butt of his rod and the other guarding the reel, was giving every thought to the playing of a big trout that, fly in mouth, was darting and tugging until the slender basswood bent nearly double. As Tom looked, surprised, breathless with the excitement of his discovery, the fish shot under the shelter of an overhanging boulder, weary and sulky, and the angler began slowly to reel in his line. Inch by inch came the trout, now without remonstrance, now jumping and slashing like ten fishes, yet ever nearing the captor and the landing-net. It was a glorious battle, and Tom, forgetting all else, crept nearer and nearer through the leaves until, hidden only by a screen of alder branches, he stood at the up-stream edge of the basin. At length, resisting heroically, fighting every inch of the way, the trout was drawn close in to the flat rock where stood his exultant captor. The latter reached a hand softly out and seized the landing-net. Then, kneeling on the brink of the pool, with one leg, he made a sudden dip; there was an instant of swishing, then up came net and trout, and——

At the end of the pool there was a terrifying splash, a muttered cry, and Tom, forgetful of his precarious footing, sat down suddenly and forcibly on a stone, his legs up to the knees in water. The landing-net dropped from the angler’s hand, and the trout, suddenly restored to his element, dashed madly off, while the reel screeched loudly as the line ran out. The professor, white of face, stared amazedly at Tom. Tom stared defiantly, triumphantly back at the professor. For a long, long minute the two gazed at each other across the sun-flecked water. Then, with a shrug of his shoulders, “Old Crusty” stooped and recovered his rod. When he again faced the boy there was a disagreeable expression about his mouth.

“Well, Pierson,” he said as he wound up his line, “you’re better at playing the spy than at studying your lessons, it seems.”

The blood rushed into Tom’s face, but he held his tongue. He could well afford to pass the insult, he argued with savage triumph; “Old Crusty” was in his power. He had only to inform Dr. Willard, and, beyond a doubt, the submaster’s connection with the school would terminate instantly. The head master held poaching to be the deadliest of sins, and poaching on Fernwood especially heinous. That his enemy was poaching, that he did not hold permission to whip the big pool, was evident from the confusion into which Tom’s sudden entry on to the scene had thrown him. Yes, “Old Crusty” could vent his anger to his heart’s content; for, when all was said, Tom still held the whip-hand. But then the enormity of the crime with which he had been charged struck Tom with full force, like a blow in the face. At Willard’s, as at all schools, spying, like tale-bearing, was held by the pupils to be something far beneath contempt. And “Old Crusty” had called him a spy! The blood again dyed the boy’s face, and he clambered to his soaking feet and faced the submaster angrily.

“It’s a lie!” he said hotly. “I was not spying. I didn’t follow you here.”

The submaster raised his eyebrows incredulously.

“Is that the truth?” he asked.

“I don’t lie,” answered Tom, with righteous indignation, glaring hatred across the pool.

“Ah,” said the other. “In that case I beg your pardon. I retract my remark, Pierson.”

The line was again taut, and now, apparently indifferent to the boy’s presence, he began to play the trout once more, warily, slowly. Tom looked on from his rock, the intensity of his anger past. He was forced to acknowledge that “Old Crusty” had at least apologized honestly and fairly; he wished he hadn’t: somehow, he felt at a disadvantage. And there was the enemy proceeding with his wicked sport for all the world as though Tom did not hold his fate in his hand, as it were! Tom swelled with indignation.

“I suppose you know you’re poaching?” he asked, presently, breaking the long silence. The submaster did not turn his head; he merely drew his brows together as though in protest at the interruption. Tom scowled. What a hardened criminal “Old Crusty” was, to be sure!

The trout had but little fight left in him now, and his journey back across the pool was almost without excitement. Only when he felt the imminence of the shore did he call upon his flagging strength and make one last gallant struggle for liberty. To such purpose did he battle then, however, that the man at the rod was forced to play out a yard or so of line. Tom’s interest was again engaged, and, much against his inclination, he had to acknowledge that “Old Crusty” was a master angler. And with that thought came another and a strange one, and it was just this:

“Why,” he asked himself, “if he can be as wonderfully patient with a trout as all that, why can’t he be a little patient with me?”

Suddenly, with the trout almost under the bank, the angler paused and looked about him, at a loss. Tom instantly divined his quandary; the landing-net was floating on the surface of the pool fully three yards distant. Tom grinned with malicious satisfaction for a moment; but then——

“Will you take the rod a minute?” asked “Old Crusty,” just as though there was no enmity between them. “I’ll have to get that net somehow.”

Tom looked from the net to his soaking shoes and trousers. There was but one thing to do.

“I’ll get it,” he answered. “I’m wet already.”

He threw aside coat and hat, and waded in. The professor watched him with expressionless face. Tom secured the runaway net, and came out, dripping to his armpits, at the submaster’s side. But when he offered the net the other only asked anxiously:

“Do you think you can land him? The leader’s almost cut through, and I’m afraid to bring him in any farther.”

Tom hesitated, net in hand.

“That will be all right,” continued the other; “I promise you I’ll never tell that you had a hand in it.”

Tom flushed.

“I wasn’t thinking of that,” he said. “Hold him steady, and I’ll get him.”

He knelt on the rock and looked for the trout. It was nearly two yards away and well under the water. He put one foot over the edge and groped about until he found a support for it below the surface. But even then his arm was too short to get the net to the fish.

“Can’t you coax him in another foot?” he asked anxiously.

“I’ll try,” answered “Old Crusty.” “If the line will hold——”

He wound gingerly. The gleaming sides of the trout came toward the surface. Tom reached out with the net, slipped it quietly into the pool, and moved it toward the prey.


Tom moved the net toward the prey.

“Now!” whispered the professor, intensely.

Up came the landing-net, and with it, floundering mightily and casting the glittering drops into the air, came the captive.

“Well done!” cried the professor, laying aside his rod. Praise from an enemy is the sweetest praise of all, and Tom’s heart gave a bound. The professor seized the trout, took it from the net, and, laying it upon the bank, removed the hook from its gasping mouth. Then, with a finger crooked through its gill, he held it admiringly aloft.

“Isn’t he a beauty?” he asked.

“You bet!” replied Tom, in awestruck tones. “The biggest I ever saw in this stream. Must be two pounds and a half, sir?”

“Well, two pounds easily,” answered “Old Crusty,” shutting one eye and hefting his troutship knowingly.

“What will you do with him?” asked Tom.

The other smiled. For answer he knelt again on the rock, and, removing his hold, allowed the fish to slide from his open palms back into the pool. Tom’s eyes grew round with surprise. The trout, after one brief moment of amazement quite as vast as the boy’s, scuttled from sight. Tom turned questioning eyes upon the professor. The latter shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

“I don’t want him; he would be of no use to me, Pierson. All I want is the joy of catching him.”

He turned, donned his hat and coat, and began to wind up his line, examining the frayed leader critically. Tom began to feel uncomfortable; it seemed to him that the truce should be at an end now, and that he ought to take his departure. But he didn’t; he merely stood by and watched. Presently the professor turned to him again, a rather rueful smile on his lips.

“Pierson,” he said, “what are you going to do with me now that you’ve caught me here where poachers and trespassers are forbidden?”

Tom dropped his gaze, but made no answer. The submaster thrust the sections of his rod into a brown leather case and slipped his fly-book into his coat pocket. Then he said suddenly:

“Look here, Pierson, I’m going to ask a favor of you: don’t say anything about this to the doctor, please.”

Tom’s momentary qualm of pity disappeared. “Old Crusty” was begging for mercy! The boy experienced the glow of proud satisfaction felt by the gladiator of old when, his foot on the neck of the vanquished opponent, he heard the crowded Colosseum burst into applause. But with the elation of the conqueror was mingled the disappointment of one who sees the shattering of an idol. “Old Crusty” had been to him the personification of injustice and tyranny; but never once had Tom doubted his honesty or courage. An enemy he had been, but an honored one. And now the honesty was stripped away. “Old Crusty” had not the courage to stand up like a man and take his punishment, but had descended so low as to beg his enemy to aid him in the cowardly concealment of his crime! And this man had dared to call him a spy! Tom gulped in an effort to restrain his angry indignation.

And all the while he had been looking across the pool, and so was not aware that the submaster had been studying his face very intently, or that the submaster’s lips held a queer little smile oddly at variance with the character of a detected criminal at the mercy of his enemy.

The detected criminal continued his specious pleading.

“You see, Pierson,” he said, “there’s just one thing that can happen to a person in my position convicted of poaching, and that’s discharge. Of course you don’t recognize much difference between discharge and resignation; but I do: the difference is apparent when it comes to obtaining a new position. A discharged instructor is a hopeless proposition; one who has resigned may, in the course of time, find another place. And so what I ask you to do is to keep quiet and give me time to resign.”

“Oh!” said Tom. His faith in mankind was reestablished. He had misjudged the enemy. After all, “Old Crusty” was worthy of his hatred. He was very glad. But before he could find an answer the other went on:

“If I were a younger man, Pierson, my chances would be better. But at my time of life losing my position means a good deal. You must see that. And—could you give me until to-morrow evening?”

Tom nodded without looking up. He wanted to say something, he didn’t at all know what. But the elation was all gone, and he felt—oh, miserably mean!

“Thank you,” said the submaster, pleasantly. “And now I think we’d best go home. You should get those wet clothes off as soon as possible.” He looked at his watch. “I had no idea it was so late,” he muttered. “We’ll have to hurry.” He moved off along the edge of the stream, and Tom recovered coat and hat and followed. He didn’t feel happy. His thoughts were fixed on matters other than his footing, and more than once he went into the brook. Presently he broke the silence.

“Are you going to—resign, sir?”

“Doesn’t that seem best, Pierson?”

“I—I don’t know,” muttered Tom. There was another silence, lasting for a few yards. Then, “I—I wish you wouldn’t, sir,” he said with a gulp.

“Eh?” The submaster paused, turned, and faced him in surprise. “What’s that, Pierson?”

Tom cleared his throat.

“I said—I wished you wouldn’t; resign, you know.”

“What do you mean?” asked the other. “Do you want to have me discharged, or——”

“No, sir, I don’t,” answered the boy, getting his voice back. “I—I’m not going to tell at all, sir—ever!”

“How’s that?” asked the submaster, in puzzled tones. “You don’t like me the least bit in the world, my boy; in fact, I’m not sure you don’t hate me heartily. Doesn’t it strike you that you’ve got your chance now? Get rid of me, Pierson, and there’ll be no mathematics—for a while.”

“I don’t want to get rid of you,” muttered Tom, shamefacedly. “I—I didn’t like you: you’d never let me; you’ve always been as hard on me as you could be. I can get those lessons—I know I can!—if you’ll only not be down on me. I did hate you, sir”—he looked up with a gleam of the old defiance—“but I don’t any longer.”

“Why?” asked “Old Crusty,” after a moment, very quietly and kindly. Tom shook his head.

“I don’t know—exactly. I guess because you’re a good trout fisher, and you begged my pardon, and—and you treated me like—like—” He faltered and came to a pause, at a loss for words. But the other nodded his head as though he understood.

“I see,” he muttered. Then, “Look here, Pierson,” he said, “I see that I’ve been mistaken about you; I’ve been greatly at fault. I tell you so frankly; and—I’m sorry. If I were going to remain I think you and I would get on a lot better together.”

“Yes, sir,” answered Tom, eagerly. “And—and couldn’t you stay, sir?”

The other was silent a moment, looking smilingly at the boy’s bent head. At length, “If I should accept of your—ah—mercy, Pierson, it would have to be understood that there was no bargain between us. I think we’d get on better, you and I, but I wouldn’t buy your silence. If you ever needed a wigging or any other punishment I’d give it to you. Would you agree to that?”

“I don’t want any old bargain, sir,” Tom cried. “And I’ll take the punishment. I’m—I’m not a baby!”

“Good! Shake hands. Now let us hurry home.”

“Yes, sir, but—just a minute, please.” Tom darted into the wood and came back with his rod and flies. He did not try to conceal them, but he looked sheepishly up into the submaster’s face. This was a study of conflicting emotions. In the end amusement got the better of the others, and he viewed Tom with a broad smile.

“And so there is a pair of us, eh?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” answered Tom. The submaster laughed softly and put one hand companionably upon the boy’s shoulder.

“Pierson,” he said, “suppose you and I agree to reform?”

“All right, sir.”

“No more poaching, eh? After this we’ll stick to our own preserves.”

“Yes, sir. I’m willing if you are.”

“Because, after all, we can’t improve on that trite old proverb which says that honesty is the best policy, can we?”

“No, sir,” Tom responded.

They left the thicket together and began the ascent of the meadow hill. Twilight was gathering, and a sharp-edged crescent of silver glowed in the evening sky above the tower of the school-hall. It was the submaster who broke the silence first.

“And yet there are fine trout in the big pool,” he said, musingly.

Tom sighed unconsciously. “Aren’t there, though?” he asked.

“I took one out one day last spring that weighed nearly three pounds,” continued the submaster.

Tom sighed again. “Did you?” he asked dolefully.

“Yes; and—look here, Pierson, tell me, how would you like to fish there as often as you wanted through the trout season?”

“I’d like it!” answered Tom, briefly and succinctly, wishing, nevertheless, that the submaster wouldn’t pursue such a harrowing subject.

“Would you? Well, now, I haven’t the least doubt in the world but that I can obtain permission for you. Mr. Greenway is a friend of mine, and while he wouldn’t care to allow the whole school to go in there, I’m certain that——”

“A friend of yours?” gasped Tom. “Then—then——”

The submaster smiled apologetically as he replied:

“No, Pierson, I wasn’t poaching.”

Tom stared in amazement and dismay.

“But—but you said——”

“No, I didn’t say it, but I allowed you to think it; and I plead guilty to a measure of deceit. But I think you’ll forgive it, my boy, because it has led to—well, to a better understanding between us. Don’t you think it has?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Tom, wondering but happy.

“Good; and— Hello, there’s the bell!” cried the submaster. “Let’s run for it!”

And they did.


BREWSTER’S DÉBUT

I

The gong clanged, the last man sprang aboard, and the car trundled away to the accompaniment of a final lusty cheer from the crowd which still lingered in front of the hotel. Then a corner was turned, and the last long-drawn “Er-r-rskine!” was cut short by intercepting walls. The throngs were streaming out to the field where, on the smooth green diamond, the rival nines of Robinson and Erskine were to meet in the deciding game of the season. For a while the car with its dozen or so passengers followed the crowds, but presently it swung eastward toward the railroad, and then made its way through a portion of Collegetown, which, to one passenger at least, looked far from attractive.

Ned Brewster shared one of the last seats with a big leather bat-bag, and gave himself over to his thoughts. The mere fact of his presence there in the special trolley-car as a substitute on the Erskine varsity nine was alone wonderful enough to keep his thoughts busy for a week. Even yet he had not altogether recovered from his surprise.

Ned had played the season through at center field on the freshman nine, and had made a name for himself as a batsman. On Thursday the freshman team had played its last game, had met with defeat, and had disbanded. Ned, trotting off the field, his heart bitter with disappointment at the outcome of the final contest, had heard his name called, and had turned to confront “Big Jim” Milford, the varsity captain.

“I wish you would report at the varsity table to-night, Brewster,” Milford had said. Then he had turned abruptly away, perhaps to avoid smiling outright at the expression of bewilderment on the freshman’s countenance. Ned never was certain whether he had made any verbal response; but he remembered the way in which his heart had leaped into his throat and stuck there, as well as the narrow escape he had had from dashing his brains out against the locker-house, owing to the fact that he had covered most of the way thither at top speed. That had been on Thursday; to-day, which was Saturday, he was a substitute on the varsity, with a possibility—just that and no more—of playing for a minute or two against Robinson, and so winning his E in his freshman year, a feat accomplished but seldom!

Ned had been the only member of the freshman nine taken on the varsity that spring. At first this had bothered him; there were two or three others—notably Barrett, the freshman captain—who were, in his estimation, more deserving of the good fortune than he. But, strange to say, it had been just those two or three who had shown themselves honestly glad at his luck, while the poorest player on the nine had loudly hinted at favoritism. Since Thursday night Ned had, of course, made the acquaintance of all the varsity men, and they had treated him as one of themselves. But they were all, with the single exception of Stilson, seniors and juniors, and Ned knew that a freshman is still a freshman, even if he does happen to be a varsity substitute. Hence he avoided all appearance of trying to force himself upon the others, and so it was that on his journey to the grounds he had only a bat-bag for companion.

The closely settled part of town was left behind now, and the car was speeding over a smooth, elm-lined avenue. Windows held the brown banners of Robinson, but not often did a dash of purple meet the gaze of the Erskine players. At the farther end of the car McLimmont and Housel and Lester were gathered about “Baldy” Simson, the trainer, and their laughter arose above the talk and whistling of the rest. Nearer at hand, across the aisle, sat “Lady” Levett, the big first-baseman. Ned wondered why he was called “Lady.” There was nothing ladylike apparent about him. He was fully six feet one, broad of shoulder, mighty of chest, deep of voice, and dark of complexion—a jovial, bellowing giant whom everybody liked. Beside Levett sat Page, the head coach, and Hovey, the manager. Then there were Greene and Captain Milford beyond, and across from them Hill and Kesner, both substitutes. In the seat in front of Ned two big chaps were talking together. They were Billings and Stilson, the latter a sophomore.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” Billings was saying. “If we lose I’ll buy you a dinner at the Elm Tree Monday night; if we win you do the same for me.”

“Oh, I don’t bet!”

“Get out! That’s fair, isn’t it, Brownie?”

A little round-faced chap across the aisle nodded laughingly. His name was Browne and he played short-stop. He wrote his name with an e, and so his friends gave him the full benefit of it.

“Yes, that’s fair,” said Browne. “We’re bound to lose.”

“Oh, what are you afraid of?” said Stilson.

“No; that’s straight! We haven’t much show; we can’t hit Dithman.”

You can’t, maybe,” jeered Stilson.

“I’ll bet you can’t either, my chipper young friend!”

“I’ll bet I get a hit off him!”

“Oh, one!”

“Well, two, then. Come, now!”

“No; I won’t bet,” answered Browne, grinning. “If there’s a prize ahead, there’s no telling what you’ll do; is there, Pete?”

“No; he might even make a run,” responded Billings. “But it’s going to take more than two hits to win this game,” he went on, dropping his voice, “for I’ll just tell you they’re going to pound Hugh all over the field.”

“Well, what if they do get a dozen runs or so?” said Stilson. “Haven’t we got a mighty batter, imported especially for the occasion, to win out for us?”

“Whom do you mean?” asked Billings.

“I mean the redoubtable Mr. Brewster, of course—the freshman Joan of Arc who is to lead us to vict——”

“Not so loud,” whispered Browne, glancing at Ned’s crimsoning cheeks.

Stilson swung around and shot a look at the substitute, then turned back grinning.

“Cleared off nicely, hasn’t it?” he observed, with elaborate nonchalance.

Ned said to himself, “He’s got it in for me because he knows that if I play it will be in his place.”

The car slowed down with much clanging of gong, and pushed its way through the crowd before the entrance to the field. Then, with a final jerk, it came to a stop. “All out, fellows!” cried Hovey; and Ned followed the others through the throng, noisy with the shouts of ticket and score-card venders, to the gate and dressing-room.

II

Ned sat on the bench. With him were Hovey, the manager, who was keeping score, Hill and Kesner, substitutes like himself, and, at the farther end, Simson, the trainer, and Page, the head coach. Page had pulled his straw hat far over his eyes, but from under the brim he was watching sharply every incident of the diamond, the while he talked with expressionless countenance to “Baldy.” Back of them the grand stand was purple with flags and ribbons, but at a little distance on either side the purple gave place to the brown of Robinson. Back of third base, at the west end of the stand, the Robinson College band held forth brazenly at intervals, making up in vigor what it lacked in tunefulness. In front of the spectators the diamond spread deeply green, save where the base-lines left the dusty red-brown earth exposed, and marked with lines and angles of lime, which gleamed snow-white in the afternoon sunlight. Beyond the diamond the field stretched, as smooth and even as a great velvet carpet, to a distant fence and a line of trees above whose tops a turret or tower here and there indicated the whereabouts of town and college.

Ned had sat there on the bench during six innings, the sun burning his neck and the dust from the batsman’s box floating into his face. In those six innings he had seen Erskine struggle pluckily against defeat—a defeat which now, with the score 12-6 in Robinson’s favor, hovered, dark and ominous, above her. Yet he had not lost hope; perhaps his optimism was largely due to the fact that he found it difficult to believe that Fate could be so cruel as to make the occasion of his first appearance with the varsity team one of sorrow. He was only seventeen, and his idea of Fate was a kind-hearted, motherly old soul with a watchful interest in his welfare. Yet he was forced to acknowledge that Fate, or somebody, was treating him rather shabbily. The first half of the seventh was as good as over, and still he kicked his heels idly beneath the bench. Page didn’t seem to be even aware of his presence. To be sure, there were Hill and Kesner in the same box, but that didn’t bring much comfort. Besides, any one with half an eye could see that Stilson should have been taken off long ago; he hadn’t made a single hit, and already had three errors marked against him. Ned wondered how his name would look in the column instead of Stilson’s, and edged along the bench until he could look over Hovey’s shoulder. The manager glanced up, smiled in a perfunctory way, and credited the Robinson runner with a stolen base. Ned read the batting list again:

Billings, r. f.
Greene, l. f.
Milford, 2b., Capt.
Lester, p.
Browne, ss.
Housel, c.
McLimmont, 3b.
Levett, 1b.
Stilson, c. f.

There was a sudden burst of applause from the seats behind, and a red-faced senior with a wilted collar balanced himself upon the railing and begged for “one more good one, fellows!” The first of the seventh was at an end, and the Erskine players, perspiring and streaked with dust, trotted in. “Lady” Levett sank down on the bench beside Ned with a sigh, and fell to examining the little finger of his left hand, which looked very red, and which refused to work in unison with its companions.

“Hurt?” asked Ned.

“Blame thing’s bust, I guess,” said “Lady,” disgustedly. “Oh, Baldy, got some tape there?”

The trainer, wearing the anxious air of a hen with one chicken, bustled up with his black bag, and Ned watched the bandaging of the damaged finger until the sudden calling of his name by the head coach sent his heart into his throat and brought him leaping to his feet with visions of hopes fulfilled. But his heart subsided again in the instant, for what Page said was merely:

“Brewster, you go over there and catch for Greene, will you?” And then, turning again to the bench, “Kesner, you play left field next half.”

Ned picked up a catcher’s mitt, and for the rest of the half caught the balls that the substitute pitcher sent him as he warmed up to take Lester’s place. Greene didn’t keep him so busy, however, that he couldn’t watch the game. Milford had hit safely to right field and had reached second on a slow bunt by Lester. The wavers of the purple flags implored little Browne to “smash it out!” But the short-stop never found the ball, and Housel took his place and lifted the sphere just over second-baseman’s head into the outfield. The bases were full. The red-faced senior was working his arms heroically and begging in husky tones for more noise. And when, a minute later, McLimmont took up his bat and faced the Robinson pitcher, the supporters of the purple went mad up there on the sun-smitten stand and drowned the discordant efforts of the Robinson band.

McLimmont rubbed his hands in the dust, rubbed the dust off on his trousers, and swung his bat. Dithman, who had puzzled Erskine batters all day and had pitched a magnificent game for six innings, shook himself together. McLimmont waited. No, thank you, he didn’t care for that out-shoot, nor for that drop, nor for— What? A strike, did he say? Well, perhaps it did go somewhere near the plate, though to see it coming you’d have thought it was going to be a passed ball! One and two, wasn’t it? Thanks; there was no hurry then, so he’d just let that in-curve alone, wait until something worth while came along, and—Eh! what was that? Strike two! Well, well, well, of all the umpires this fellow must be a beginner! Never mind that, though. But he’d have to look sharp now or else——

Crack!

Off sped the ball, and off sped McLimmont. The former went over first-baseman’s head; the latter swung around the bag like an automobile taking a corner, and raced for second, reaching it on his stomach a second before the ball. There was rejoicing where the purple flags fluttered, for Captain Milford and Lester had scored.

But Erskine’s good fortune ended there. McLimmont was thrown out while trying to steal third, and Levett popped a short fly into the hands of the pitcher. Greene trotted off to the box, and Ned walked dejectedly back to the bench. Page stared at him in surprise. Then, “Didn’t I tell you to play center field?” he ejaculated.

Ned’s heart turned a somersault and landed in his throat. He stared dumbly back at the head coach and shook his head. As he did so he became aware of Stilson’s presence on the bench.

“What? Well, get a move on!” said Page.

Get a move on! Ned went out to center as though he had knocked a three-bagger and wanted to get home on it. Little Browne grinned at him as he sped by.

“Good work, Brewster!” he called, softly.

Over at left, Kesner, happy over his own good fortune, waved congratulations. In the Erskine section the desultory hand-clapping which had accompanied Ned’s departure for center field died away, and the eighth inning began with the score 12-8.

III

From center field the grand stands are very far away. Ned was glad of it. He felt particularly happy and wanted to have a good comfortable grin all to himself. He had won his E. Nothing else mattered very much now. So grin he did to his heart’s content, and even jumped up and down on his toes a few times; he would have liked to sing or whistle, but that was out of the question. And then suddenly he began to wonder whether he had not, after all, secured the coveted symbol under false pretense; would he be able to do any better than Stilson had done? Robinson’s clever pitcher had fooled man after man; was it likely that he would succeed where the best batsmen of the varsity nine had virtually failed? Or, worse, supposing he showed up no better here in the outfield than had Stilson! The sun was low in the west and the atmosphere was filled with a golden haze; it seemed to him that it might be very easy to misjudge a ball in that queer glow. Of a sudden his heart began to hammer at his ribs sickeningly. He was afraid—afraid that he would fail, when the trial came, there with the whole college looking on! Little shivers ran up his back, and he clenched his hands till they hurt. He wished, oh, how he wished it was over! Then there came the sharp sound of bat against ball, and in an instant he was racing in toward second, his thoughts intent upon the brown speck that sailed high in air, his fears all forgotten.

Back sped second-baseman, and on went Ned. “My ball!” he shouted. Milford hesitated an instant, then gave up the attempt. “All yours, Brewster!” he shouted back. “Steady!” Ned finished his run and glanced up, stepped a little to the left, put up his hands, and felt the ball thud against his glove. Then he fielded it to second and trotted back; and as he went he heard the applause, loud and hearty, from the stands. After that there was no more fear. Robinson failed to get a man past first, and presently he was trotting in to the bench side by side with Kesner.

“Brewster at bat!” called Hovey, and, with a sudden throb at his heart, Ned selected a stick and went to the plate. He stood there swinging his bat easily, confidently, as one who is not to be fooled by the ordinary wiles of the pitcher, a well-built, curly-haired youngster with blue eyes, and cheeks in which the red showed through the liberal coating of tan.

“The best batter the freshmen had,” fellows whispered one to another.

“Looks as though he knew how, too, eh? Just you watch him, now!”

And the red-faced senior once more demanded three long Erskines, three times three, and three long Erskines for Brewster! And Ned heard them—he couldn’t very well have helped it!—and felt very grateful and proud. And five minutes later he was back on the bench, frowning miserably at his knuckles, having been struck out without the least difficulty by the long-legged Dithman. The pride was all gone. “But,” he repeated, silently, “wait until next time! Just wait until next time!”

Billings found the Robinson pitcher for a two-bagger, stole third, and came home on a hit by Greene. Erskine’s spirits rose another notch. Three more runs to tie the score in this inning, and then—why, it would be strange indeed if the purple couldn’t win out! Captain Milford went to bat in a veritable tempest of cheers. He looked determined; but so did his adversary, the redoubtable Dithman.

“We’ve got to tie it this inning,” said Levett, anxiously. “We’ll never do it next, when the tail-enders come up.”

“There’s one tail-ender who’s going to hit that chap in the box next time,” answered Ned.

“Lady” looked amused.

“You’ll be in luck if it comes around to you,” he said. “We all will. Oh, thunder! Another strike!”

A moment later they were on their feet, and the ball was arching into left field; and “Big Jim” was plowing his way around first. But the eighth inning ended right there, for the ball plumped into left-fielder’s hands. “Lady” groaned, picked up his big mitt, and ambled to first, and the ninth inning began with the score 12 to 9.

Greene was determined that Robinson should not increase his tally, even to the extent of making it a baker’s dozen. And he pitched wonderful ball, striking out the first two batsmen, allowing the next to make first on a hit past short-stop, and then bringing the half to an end by sending three glorious balls over the corner of the plate one after another, amid the frantic cheers of the Erskine contingent and the dismay of the puzzled batsman. Then the rival nines changed places for the last time, and Robinson set grimly and determinedly about the task of keeping Erskine’s players from crossing the plate again.

And Milford, leaning above Hovey’s shoulder, viewed the list of batting candidates and ruefully concluded that she would not have much trouble doing it.

The stands were emptying and the spectators were ranging themselves along the base-lines. The Robinson band had broken out afresh, and the Robinson cheerers were confident. The sun was low in the west, and the shadows of the stands stretched far across the diamond. Kesner, who had taken Lester’s place in the batting list, stepped to the plate and faced Dithman, and the final struggle was on.

Dithman looked as calmly confident as at any time during the game, and yet, after pitching eight innings of excellent ball, it scarcely seemed likely that he could still command perfect form. Kesner proved a foeman worthy of his steel; the most seductive drops and shoots failed to entice him, and with three balls against him Dithman was forced to put the ball over the plate. The second time he did it, Kesner found it and went to first on a clean hit into the outfield past third, and the purple banners flaunted exultantly. Milford’s face took on an expression of hopefulness as he dashed to first and whispered his instructions in Kesner’s ear. Then he retired to the coaches’ box and put every effort into getting the runner down to second. But Fate came to his assistance and saved him some breath. Dithman lost command of the dirty brown sphere for one little moment, and it went wild, striking Greene on the thigh. And when he limped to first Kesner went on to second, and there were two on bases, and Erskine was mad with joy. Milford and Billings were coaching from opposite corners, Milford’s bellowing being plainly heard a quarter of a mile away; he had a good, hearty voice, and for the first time that day it bothered the Robinson pitcher. For Housel, waiting for a chance to make a bunt, was kept busy getting out of the way of the balls, and after four of them was given his base.

Erskine’s delight was now of the sort best expressed by turning somersaults. As somersaults were out of the question, owing to the density of the throng, her supporters were forced to content themselves with jumping up and down and shouting the last breaths from their bodies. Bases full and none out! Three runs would tie the score! Four runs would win! And they’d get them, of course; there was no doubt about that—at least, not until McLimmont had struck out and had turned back to the bench with miserable face. Then it was Robinson’s turn to cheer. Erskine looked doubtful for a moment, then began her husky shouting again; after all, there was only one out. But Dithman, rather pale of face, had himself in hand once more. To the knowing ones, Levett, who followed McLimmont, was already as good as out; the way in which he stood, the manner in which he “went down” for the balls, proved him nervous and overanxious. With two strikes and three balls called on him, he swung at a wretched out-shoot. A low groan ran along the bench. Levett himself didn’t groan; he placed his bat carefully on the ground, kicked it ten yards away, and said “Confound the luck!” very forcibly.

“You’re up, Brewster,” called Hovey.

“Two gone! Last man, fellows!” shouted the Robinson catcher, as Ned tapped the plate.

“Last man!” echoed the second-baseman. “He’s easy!”

“Make him pitch ’em, Brewster!” called Milford. The rest was drowned in the sudden surge of cheers from the Robinson side. Ned faced the pitcher with an uncomfortable empty feeling inside of him. He meant to hit that ball, but he greatly feared he wouldn’t; he scarcely dared think what a hit meant. For a moment he wished himself well out of it—wished that he was back on the bench and that another had his place and his chance to win or lose the game. Then the first delivery sped toward him, and much of his nervousness vanished.

“Ball!” droned the umpire.

Milford and Levett were coaching again; it was hard to say whose voice was the loudest. Down at first Housel was dancing back and forth on his toes, and back of him Milford, kneeling on the turf, was roaring: “Two gone, Jack, remember! Run on anything! Look out for a passed ball! Now you’re off! Hi, hi, hi! Look out! He won’t throw! Take a lead—go on! Watch his arm; go down with his arm! Now you’re off! Now, now, now!

But if this was meant to rattle the pitcher it failed of its effect. Dithman swung his arm out, danced forward on his left foot, and shot the ball away.

“Strike!” said the umpire.

Ned wondered why he had let that ball go by; he had been sure that it was going to cut the plate, and yet he had stood by undecided until it was too late. Well! He gripped his bat a little tighter, shifted his feet a few inches, and waited again. Dithman’s expression of calm unconcern aroused his ire; just let him get one whack at that ball and he would show that long-legged pitcher something to surprise him! A palpable in-shoot followed, and Ned staggered out of its way. Then came what was so undoubtedly a ball that Ned merely smiled at it. Unfortunately at the last instant it dropped down below his shoulder, and he waited anxiously for the verdict.

“Strike two!” called the umpire.

Two and two! Ned’s heart sank. He shot a glance toward first. Milford was staring over at him imploringly. Ned gave a gasp and set his jaws together firmly. The pitcher had the ball again, and was signaling to the catcher. Then out shot his arm, the little one-legged hop followed, and the ball sped toward the boy at the plate. And his heart gave a leap, for the delivery was a straight ball, swift, to be sure, but straight and true for the plate. Ned took one step forward, and ball and bat met with a sound like a pistol-shot, and a pair of purple-stockinged legs were flashing toward first.

Up, up against the gray-blue sky went the sphere, and then it seemed to hang for a moment there, neither rising nor falling. And all the time the bases were emptying themselves. Kesner was in ere the ball was well away, Greene was close behind him, and now Housel, slower because of his size, was swinging by third; and from second sped a smaller, lithe figure with down-bent head and legs fairly flying. Coaches were shouting wild, useless words, and none but themselves heard them; for four thousand voices were shrieking frenziedly, and four thousand pairs of eyes were either watching the flight of the far-off ball, or were fixed anxiously upon the figure of left-fielder, who, away up near the fence and the row of trees, was running desperately back.

Ned reached second, and, for the first time since he had started around, looked for the ball, and, as he did so, afar off across the turf a figure stooped and picked something from the ground and threw it to center-fielder, and center-fielder threw it to third-baseman, and meanwhile Ned trotted over the plate into the arms of “Big Jim” Milford, and Hovey made four big black tallies in the score-book. Three minutes later and it was all over, Billings flying out to center field, and the final score stood 13-12. Erskine owned the field, and Ned, swaying and slipping dizzily about on the shoulders of three temporary lunatics, looked down upon a surging sea of shouting, distorted faces, and tried his hardest to appear unconcerned—and was secretly very, very happy. He had his E; best of all, he had honestly earned it.


Ned trotted over the plate into the arms of “Big Jim” Milford.

“MITTENS”

There was a loud and imperative knock at the study door. Stowell growled to himself at the interruption, took a deep breath and bellowed, “Come in!”

Then his eyes went back to the book on his knees. The knock was unmistakably that of “Chick” Reeves, and with “Chick” Stowell never stood on ceremony. But when a full minute had passed after the door had closed, without any of “Chick’s” customary demonstrations, such as the overturning of chairs, the wafting of pillows across the room, or the emitting of blood-curdling whoops, Stowell became alarmed for his fellow freshman’s health, and so, after many groans and much exertion, he sat up and put his head around the corner of the big armchair. What he saw surprised him.

The visitor was a stranger; a tall, raw-boned youth of about seventeen, with a homely, freckled face surmounted by a good deal of tousled, hemp-colored hair. His eyes were ridiculously blue and his cheeks held the remains of what had apparently been a generous tan. Altogether the face was attractive, if not handsome; the blue eyes looked candid and honest; the nose was straight and well-made; the mouth suggested good nature and strength of purpose. But it is not to be supposed that Jimmie Stowell reached these numerous conclusions on this occasion. On the contrary, the impression he received was of an awkward, illy-clothed boy holding a small paper parcel.

“Hello!” said Stowell.

The visitor had evidently been at a loss, for the back of the armchair had hidden his host from sight, and he had turned irresolutely toward the door again. Now he faced Stowell, observing him calmly.

“Hello!” he answered. He crossed the study deliberately, unwrapping his parcel as he went.

“Er—want to see me?” asked Stowell, puzzled.

“If you please.” There was no evidence of diffidence in the caller’s manner, and yet Stowell found it hard to reconcile his appearance with that commanding knock at the portal. The blue-eyed youth threw back the wrapping from his bundle and held it forth. Stowell took it wonderingly. Five pairs of coarse blue woolen mittens met his gaze. He frowned and viewed the caller suspiciously.

“What is it,” he growled, “a joke?”

“Mittens,” answered the other imperturbably. “I’m selling them.”

“Oh, I see.” He handed them back. “Well, I never wear them.” He turned toward his chair. “Hang these peddlers!” he said to himself.

“They’re very warm,” suggested the other.

“They look it,” answered Stowell, grimly. “But I wear gloves.”

“Oh, excuse me.” The visitor began to wrap them carefully up again. “That’s what everybody says. I wish I’d known it before.”

“But, Great Scott!” exclaimed Stowell, “you didn’t really think that any one wore that sort of thing nowadays? Why they look like—like socks!”

“Yes, I suppose they do. But up our way we generally wear them. You see, they’re warmer than gloves.”

“Where do you come from?”

“Michigan.”

“Michigan! Well, what are you doing here, then?”

“Studying.” He looked surprised at the question.

“Do you mean that you’re in college?” asked Stowell, in amazement. The other nodded.

“I’m a freshman.” Stowell’s perplexity increased. “I thought,” the other went on, “that I could sell some of these around college. I didn’t know about you all wearing gloves. I—I guess I’ll have to give it up.” There was disappointment in his voice.

“Are you doing this to make money?” Stowell asked.

“Yes, I’m only asking sixty cents. Does that seem too much?”

Stowell thought it was a good deal too much, but he didn’t say so, and the other went on.

“They’re regular lumberman’s mittens, you know, made of best woolen yarn and mighty warm. Of course, they don’t cost me that much, but I have to make something on them.”

“Oh, that’s reasonable enough,” said Stowell, hurriedly, “and, I tell you what you do. I’m dead broke this morning, but you come in later in the week and bring me a couple of pairs and I’ll have the money for you.”

But to his surprise the other shook his head smilingly.

“You just want to help me,” he said. “You wouldn’t wear them, I guess. But I’m thankful to you.” He placed his parcel under his arm and moved toward the door.

“Well, but hold on,” cried Stowell. “Don’t be an ass! Look here— By the way, what’s your name?”

“Shult.”

“Well, now you bring those along and I’ll wear them. You say they’re warm; that’s what I want, something warm. And—look here, have you got them in any other color?”

“No, they’re always blue, you know.”

“Oh!” Stowell felt that he had displayed unpardonable ignorance. “Yes, of course. Well, you bring a couple of pairs, say, Wednesday, will you?”

“All right,” answered Shult. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” murmured Stowell. The door closed behind his visitor and he went grinning back to his chair.

Half an hour later when “Chick” Reeves did come in, playfully tipping Stowell and the armchair on to the hearth-rug by way of greeting, Stowell told him about the Michigan freshie who was peddling blue woolen mitts, and told it so well that “Chick” sat on the floor and howled with delight.

“And you are going to wear them?” he gurgled.

“Why, I’ll have to,” answered Stowell, ruefully. “I wanted to help the beggar, and he wouldn’t sell them to me unless I wore them.”

“Then I’ll have to have a pair, too.”

“Oh, you’ll need a couple of pairs,” laughed Stowell, “one for week-days and one for Sundays.”

“Of course I will. A chap needs something nice for the theater. Where does ‘Mittens’ hang out?”

“Don’t know, I’m sure. His name’s Shoot or Shult; you can find him in the catalogue.”

“I will. And, say, maybe he sells blue socks, too, eh? If the cooperative hears of it they’ll have the law on him. Did you ask him if he had a license?”

“No.” Stowell looked down at Reeves thoughtfully.

Then he said slowly, “Now, look here, ‘Mittens,’ as you call him, is all right. So don’t go to having fun with him, hear?”

“Not me,” grinned “Chick.”

“Oh, no, you naturally wouldn’t,” growled Stowell. “But if you do I’ll break your head for you.”

Stowell had quite forgotten his strange visitor of the day before when, on Tuesday morning, he met him on the steps of University. Shult’s clothes looked more ill fitting than before, and it cost Stowell, who was accompanied by two extremely select members of his class, somewhat of an effort to stop and speak to him.

“Hello, Shult,” he said, “how are you getting along?”

The dealer in blue mittens flushed, whether with embarrassment or pleasure Stowell couldn’t tell, and paused on his way down the granite steps.

“Not very well,” he answered. “I—I’ve sold three pairs so far.”

“Hard luck,” answered Stowell. “Don’t forget mine, will you?”

“Oh, no; I’m—I’ll bring them to-morrow. Do you want them long or short?”

“Er—well, what would you suggest?” asked Stowell gravely.

“The long ones keep your wrists warmer, of course,” said Shult.

“Of course, I’ll take that kind,” Stowell decided. “I’ve a friend, by the way, fellow named Reeves, who said he’d take a couple of pairs. He was going to look you up. Seen him yet?”

“No, I haven’t. I could—I could call on him if you think he’d like me to?”

“No, it wouldn’t pay; you’d never find him in. I’ll tell him to look you up. Where’s your joint?”

“Joint?”

“Yes, your room, you know.”

“Oh,” said Shult. He gave an address that Stowell had never heard of. “I’m usually in at night,” he added.

They parted, and Stowell joined the two grinning freshmen inside. Their names were Clinton and Hazlett.

“Who’s your handsome friend?” asked one.

“Looks like a genius,” laughed the other. “What’s his line?”

“Mittens,” answered Stowell, gravely.

“What?”

“Mittens.”

Then the green door swung behind him.

At four o’clock the next afternoon Clinton, Hazlett and Stowell were sitting in the latter’s study. The fire roared in the grate and a northwest wind roared outside the curtained windows. There came a resounding thump on the door, and, without waiting a response, “Chick” Reeves bounded in. Standing just inside, he closed the portal, shook imaginary snowflakes from his cap, shivered and blew on his hands.

“Br-r-r,” he muttered, “’tis bitter cold! The river is caked with chokes of ice! I can not cross the river to-night! Hark, how the wind howls round the turret!”

Then, with sudden abandonment of melodrama, he made his way to the grate, spread his legs apart, and, with his back to the flames, grinned broadly upon Stowell. Gradually his grin grew into a laugh.

“You’re an awful idiot,” said Stowell.

“I know, I know,” chuckled Reeves. “But I’ve got the biggest joke you ever heard! It’s—it’s like a story. Listen, my children.” He turned to Stowell. “You remember ‘Mittens’?” Stowell nodded.

“I’ve been to see him, and——”

“Did you buy some mittens?” asked Hazlett, who, with Clinton, had at last heard of Stowell’s protégé.

“Yes, but listen. He lives in the queerest place you ever heard tell of; it’s down on one of those side streets toward the bridge; a regular tenement-house with brats all over the front steps and an eloquent, appealing odor of boiled cabbage and onions in the air. Well, I asked a woman in a calico wrapper where Mr. Shult lived and she directed me up two flights of stairs; told me to knock on the ‘sicond door to me roight.’ I knocked, a voice called, ‘Come in, Mrs. Brannigan,’ and I went in, politely explaining that, despite certain similarities of appearance, I was not Mrs. Brannigan. Well”—“Chick’s” risibilities threatened to master him again; he choked and went on. “Well, there was ‘Mittens.’ He was sitting in a sort of kitchen rocker with a Latin book on his knee and—and— Say, what do you think he was doing?”

“Grinding,” said Clinton.

“Sawing wood,” said Hazlett.

Stowell shook his head.

“You’d never guess,” howled Reeves, “never in a thousand years! He was—was—oh, golly!—he was knitting!”

Knitting!” It was a chorus of three incredulous voices.

“Yes, knitting! Knitting blue-woolen mittens!”

“By Jove!” muttered Stowell.

Clinton and Hazlett burst into peals of laughter.

“You—you ought to have seen his expression when he saw that I wasn’t Mrs. Brannigan,” went on “Chick,” wiping the tears from his eyes. “He stared and got as red as a beet; then he tried to get the thing out of sight. Of course, I apologized for intruding when he was busy, and he said it didn’t matter. And after a while he told me all about it. Seems he lives up in the backwoods—or whatever you call ’em—in Michigan; up among the lumber-camps, you know. His father’s dead, he told me, and his mother keeps a sort of hotel or boarding-house or something. Of course,” added “Chick,” with a note of apology in his voice, “that isn’t funny. But it seems that when he was a kid they taught him to knit, and made him do socks and mittens and things. I’ve forgotten a lot of it, but he wanted to go to college and hadn’t any money to speak of, and so they borrowed a little somewhere—enough for tuition—and now he’s trying to make enough on mittens to pay his board. He gets his room free for teaching some of the little Brannigans, I believe. He’s spunky, isn’t he? But I thought I’d keel over on the floor when I saw him sitting there for all the world like an old granny in the Christmas pictures, just making those needles fly. Maybe he can’t knit!”

“And then what?” asked Stowell, quietly.

“Chick’s” grin faded out a little.

“Why—er—that’s all, I guess. I ordered two pairs of the funny things and came away.”

Clinton and Hazlett were still chuckling. “Chick” looked from them to Stowell doubtfully and began to wonder what ailed the latter’s sense of humor.

“Knitting!” murmured Clinton, “think of it!”

“Yes,” said Stowell, suddenly, “that’s awfully funny, ‘Chick.’ Funniest thing I’ve heard for a long while. Do you know—” the tone made his friend stare in surprise—“I think you’ve got one of the most delicate humorous perceptions I’ve ever met up with. You have, indeed. Only you, ‘Chick,’ could have seen all the exquisite humor in the situation you’ve described. You ought to be proud of yourself.”

Clinton and Hazlett had ceased their chuckles and were looking over at their host, their faces reflecting the surprise and uneasiness upon “Chick’s.”

“Here’s a poor duffer,” went on Stowell, “without money; father dead; mother takes boarders to make a living; wants to go to college and learn to be something a little better than a backwoods lumberman. He gets enough money together somehow—I think you said they borrowed it, ‘Chick’?”

That youth nodded silently.

“Yes, borrowed enough to pay the tuition fee. And then he’s thrown on his own resources to make enough to buy himself things to eat. I suppose even these backwoods beggars have to eat once in a while, Clint? And having learned how to knit blue-woolen mittens—awfully funny looking things, they are—he just goes ahead and knits them, rather than starve to death, and tries to sell them to a lot of superior beings like you and me here, not knowing in his backwoods ignorance that we only wear Fownes’s or Dent’s, and that we naturally look down on fellows who——”

“Oh, dry up, old man,” growled “Chick.” “I haven’t been saying anything against the duffer. Of course he’s plucky and all that. You needn’t jump on a fellow so.”

“Yes, he has got grit, and that’s a fact,” Clinton allowed. “Only, of course, knitting—well, it’s a bit out of the ordinary, eh?”

“I suppose it is,” answered Stowell. “In fact ‘Mittens’ is a bit out of the ordinary himself. He’s——”

There was a knock at the door, and, in response to Stowell’s invitation, Shult, tall, ungainly, tow-haired, freckle-faced, entered and paused in momentary embarrassment as his blue eyes lighted on Reeves.

“Hello, Shult; come in,” called Stowell. “Have you brought those mittens?”

Shult had, and he undid them carefully, and crossing the study, handed them to their purchaser.

“Ah,” continued Stowell, drawing one of the heavy blue things on to his hand, “long wrists, I see. That’s fine. Like to see them, Bob?” Hazlett said that he would. Every one was very silent and grave. Reeves, after nodding to Shult, had busied himself with a magazine. Now he leaned over Hazlett’s shoulder and examined the mittens with almost breathless interest. Clinton craned his head forward and Stowell handed the other pair to him for inspection. Shult stood silently by, his embarrassment gone.

“Look as though they’d be very warm,” said Hazlett, in the voice of one hazarding an opinion on a matter of national importance. He looked inquiringly, deferentially, up at Shult.

“Warm as toast,” said the latter.

“Seem well made, too,” said Clinton. Then he colored and glanced apologetically at Stowell. Stowell turned his head.

“Do you get these hereabouts, Shult?” he asked. There was a moment’s hesitation. Then,

“I—I knit them myself,” said the freshman, quietly.

“Not really!” exclaimed Stowell, in much surprise. “Did you hear that, Clint? He makes them himself. It must be quite a knack, eh?”

“I should say so!” Clinton exclaimed, enthusiastically. “It—it’s an accomplishment!”

“By Jove!” said Hazlett. They all stared admiringly at Shult.

“But, I say, don’t stand up,” exclaimed Stowell. “‘Chick,’ push that chair over.”

Shult sat down. He was very grateful to Reeves for not telling what he had seen during his call, and grateful to the others for not laughing at his confession. It had taken quite a deal of courage to make that confession, for he had anticipated ridicule. But instead these immaculately dressed fellows almost appeared to envy him his knowledge of the art of knitting woolen mittens. He was very pleased.

“I wonder—” began Clinton. He glanced doubtfully at his host. “I think I’d like to have some of these myself. Have you—er—any more, Mr. Shult?”

“Oh, yes; I can make a pair an evening, anyhow. I—I didn’t suppose you fellows would care for them.”

“Nonsense,” said Stowell. “They’re just what a chap needs around here. I—I used to wear them when I was a boy; after all, there’s nothing like old-fashioned mitts to keep your hands warm.”

“Nothing!” said Clinton.

“Nothing!” echoed Hazlett.

“Nothing!” murmured Reeves.

“If you could let me have—ah—about two pairs——”

Clinton’s request was firmly interrupted by his host.

“Nonsense, Clint, you’ll need at least four. I’m going to have a couple more myself.”

“I dare say you’re right. If you could let me have four pairs, Mr. Shult, I—ah—should be very much obliged.”

“And me the same,” said Hazlett.

“Yes, certainly,” answered Shult, flustered and vastly pleased. “You shall have them right off.”

“And let me see, ‘Chick,’” said Stowell, “didn’t I hear you say you wanted a couple more pairs?”

“Yes, oh, yes,” Reeves replied explosively. “Er—two pairs, please.”

Shult looked surprised. Fortune was favoring him beyond his wildest hopes. He muttered an incoherent answer. Then Stowell gravely paid him for the two pairs of intensely blue and shapeless objects in his lap and Shult made the exact change after repeated searches in three different pockets. At the door he turned.

“You are all very kind to me,” he said, gravely and earnestly. “I’m—I’m thankful to you.”

Stowell murmured politely.

After the door had closed there followed several moments of silence. Then a smile crept over Stowell’s face and was reflected on the faces of the others. But nobody laughed.


Possibly the reader recalls the epidemic of blue-woolen mittens that raged in college that winter. One saw them everywhere. The fashion started, they say, among a certain coterie of correct dressers in the freshman class and spread until it enveloped the entire undergraduate body. None could explain it, and none tried to; blue-woolen mitts were the proper thing; that was sufficient. At first the demand could not be supplied, but before the Midyears were over the Cooperative Society secured a quantity, and the furnishing stores followed its example as soon as possible. But blue-woolen mitts in sufficient quantities to fill the orders were difficult to find, and long before the shops had secured the trade in that commodity, one Shult, out of Michigan, had reaped a very respectable harvest and found a nickname which, despite the lapse of years and the accumulation of honors, still sticks—“Mittens.”

THE END