Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Left End Edwards
Author: Barbour, Ralph Henry, 1870-1944
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Left End Edwards" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



LEFT END EDWARDS

[Illustration: The "Forward Pass"]



LEFT END EDWARDS

BY

RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

AUTHOR OF

THE HALF-BACK, ETC.

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

CHARLES M. RELYEA

[Illustration]

NEW YORK

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS

Made in the United States of America

          COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY
          DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY



CONTENTS


          CHAPTER                                  PAGE

               I FATHERS AND SONS                    3

              II OFF TO SCHOOL                      13

             III STOP THIEF!                        24

              IV OUT FOR BRIMFIELD!                 40

               V NUMBER 12 BILLINGS                 51

              VI CLUES!                             62

             VII THE CONFIDENCE-MAN                 73

            VIII IN THE RUBBING ROOK                86

              IX BACK IN TOGS                       98

               X "CHEAP FOR CASH"                  112

              XI "HOLD 'EM, THIRD!"                125

             XII CANTERBURY ROMPS ON--AND OFF      142

            XIII SAWYER VOWS VENGEANCE             157

             XIV A LESSON IN TACKLING              170

              XV STEVE WINNOWS SOME CHAFF          182

             XVI MR. DALEY IS OUT                  202

            XVII THE BLUE-BOOK                     212

           XVIII B PLUS AND D MINUS                225

             XIX THE SECOND PUTS IT OVER           235

              XX BLOWS ARE STRUCK                  251

             XXI FRIENDS FALL OUT                  267

            XXII STEVE GETS A SURPRISE             285

           XXIII DURKIN SHEDS LIGHT                297

            XXIV THE DAY BEFORE THE BATTLE         309

             XXV TOM TO THE RESCUE                 323

            XXVI AT THE END OF THE FIRST HALF      334

           XXVII STEVE SMILES                      346

          XXVIII THE CHUMS READ A TELEGRAM         360



ILLUSTRATIONS


  The "Forward Pass"                                _Frontispiece_

                                                         FACING PAGE

  Steve slipped on the tiling and fell sidewise into the water
    (page 166)                                                     80

  "Lift!" instructed the quarter-back. "Lift me up and yank my
    feet out from under me! Use your weight and throw me back!"   178

  It was Steve, Steve on his back, with only his head and
    shoulders above the water                                     324



LEFT END EDWARDS



CHAPTER I

FATHERS AND SONS


"Dad, what does 'Mens sana in corpore sano' mean?"

Mr. Edwards slightly lowered his Sunday paper and over the top of it
frowned abstractedly at the boy on the window-seat. "Eh?" he asked.
"What was that?"

"'Mens sana in corpore sano,' sir."

"Oh!" Mr. Edwards blinked through his reading glasses and rustled the
paper. Finally, "For a boy who has studied as much Latin as you have,"
he said disapprovingly, "the question is extraordinary, to say the
least. I'd advise you to--hm--find your dictionary, Steve." And Mr.
Edwards again retired from sight.

Steve, cross-legged on the broad seat that filled the library bay, a
seat which commanded an uninterrupted view up and down the street,
smiled into the open pamphlet he held.

"He doesn't know," he said to himself with a chuckle. "It's something
about your mind and your body, though. Never mind." He idly fluttered
the leaves of the pamphlet and glanced out into the street to see if any
friends were in sight. But it was Sunday afternoon, and rainy, and the
wide, maple-bordered street, its neat artificial stone sidewalks
shimmering with moisture, was quite deserted. With a sigh Steve went
back to the pamphlet. It bore the inscription on the outer cover:
"Brimfield Academy," and, below, in parenthesis, "William Torrence
Foundation."

"What does 'William Torrence Foundation' mean, dad?" asked the boy.

Again Mr. Edwards lowered his paper, with a sigh. "It means, as you will
discover for yourself if you will take the trouble to read the
catalogue, that a man named William Torrence gave the money to establish
the school. Now, for goodness sake, Steve, let me read in peace for a
minute!"

"Yes, sir. Thank you." Steve turned the pages, glanced again at the
"View of Main Building from the Lawn" and began to read. "In 1878
William Torrence, Esq., of New York City, visited his native town of
Brimfield and interested the citizens in a plan to establish a school on
a large tract of land at the edge of the town which had been in the
Torrence family for many generations. Two years later the school was
built and, under the title of Torrence Seminary, began a successful
career which has lasted for thirty-two years. Under the principalship of
Dr. Andrew Morey, the institution increased rapidly in usefulness, and
in 1892 it was found necessary to add two wings to the original
structure at a cost of $34,000, also the gift of the founder. Dr.
Morey's connection with the school ended four years later, when the
services of the present head, Mr. Joshua Fernald, A.M., were secured.
The death of Mr. Torrence in 1897, after a long and honoured career,
removed the school's greatest friend and benefactor, but, by the terms
of his will, placed it beyond the reach of want for many years. With new
buildings and improvements made possible by the generous provisions of
the testament the school soon took its place amongst the foremost
institutions of its kind. In 1908 the charter name was changed to
Brimfield Academy--William Torrence Foundation, the course was
lengthened from four years to six and the present era of well-deserved
prosperity was entered on. Brimfield Academy now has accommodations for
260 boys, its faculty consists of 19 members and its buildings number 8.
Situated as it is----"

Steve yawned frankly, viewed again the somnolent street and idly turned
the pages. There were several pictures, but he had seen them all many
times and only the one labelled "'Varsity Athletic Field--Gymnasium
Beyond" claimed his interest for a moment. At last,

"They've got a peach of an athletic field, dad," he observed
approvingly. "I can see six goals, and that means three gridirons. And
there's a baseball field besides. The catalogue says that 'provision is
also made for tennis, boating and swimming,' but I don't see any tennis
courts in the picture."

"All right," grunted his father from behind the paper.

"I wonder," continued Steve musingly, "where you get your boating and
swimming. It says that Long Island Sound is two and a half miles
distant. That's a long old ways to go for a swim, isn't it?"

Mr. Edwards laid the paper across his knees and regarded the boy
severely. "Steve," he said, "about the only thing I've heard from you
since that catalogue arrived is the athletic field and the gymnasium.
I'd like to refresh your mind on one point, my son."

"Yes, sir?" said Steve without much eagerness.

"I'd like to remind you that you are not going to Brimfield Academy to
play football or baseball, or to swim. You're going there to study and
learn! I don't propose to spend four hundred and fifty dollars a year,
besides a whole lot for extras, to have you taught how to kick a
football or make a home-hit. And----"

"A home-run, sir," corrected Steve humbly.

"Or whatever it is, then. I expect you to buckle down when you get there
and learn. Remember that you've got just two years in which to prepare
yourself for college. If you aren't ready then, you don't go. That's
flat, my boy, and I want you to understand it. So, if you have any idea
of football and tennis as your--er--principal courses you want to get it
right out of your head. Now, for a change, suppose you have a look at
the studies in front of you, and don't let me hear anything more about
the gymnasium or the--the what-do-you-call-it field."

"All right, sir." Steve obediently turned the pages back. "Just the
same," he said to himself, "he didn't know what 'mens sana in corpore
sano' meant any better than I did! Bet you _he_ didn't kill himself
studying when _he_ went to school!" With a sigh he found the "Courses of
Study" and read: "Form IV. Classical. Latin: Vergil's Aeneid, IV--XII,
Cicero and Ovid at sight, Composition (5). Greek: Xenophon's Hellenica,
Selections, Iliad and Odyssey, Selections, Sight Reading, Reviews,
Composition (5). German (optional) (4). French: Advanced Grammar and
Composition, Le Siege de Paris, Le Barbier de Saville----"

At that moment a shrill whistle sounded outside the library window and
Steve's eyes fled from the pamphlet to the grinning face of Tom Hall set
between two of the fence pickets. The Catalogue of Brimfield Academy was
tossed to the further end of the seat, and Steve, nodding vigorously
through the window, jumped to his feet.

"I'm going for a walk with Tom, sir," he announced half-way to the hall
door. Mr. Edwards, smothering a sigh of relief, glanced at the weather.

"Very well," he said. "Don't get your feet wet. And--er--be back before
it's dark."

Steve disappeared into the dim hallway and Mr. Edwards gave honest
expression to his sense of relief by elevating his feet to the seat of a
neighbouring chair, dropping the newspaper and, with a luxurious sigh,
composing himself for his Sunday afternoon nap. But peace was not yet
his, for a minute or two later Steve came hurrying in again. Mr. Edwards
opened his eyes with a frown.

"Sorry, sir," said Steve, "but Tom wants to see the catalogue."

His father nodded drowsily and Steve, securing the pamphlet, stole out
again with creaking Sunday shoes. Very quietly the front door went shut
and peace at last pervaded the house. In the library, Mr. Edwards,
dropping into slumber, was dimly conscious of a last disturbing thought.
It was that he was going to miss that boy of his a whole lot after next
week!

"It's all right," declared Tom Hall as he took the catalogue from Steve
with eager fingers. "At least, I'm pretty sure it is. He said at dinner
that he'd think it over, and when he says that it means--that it's all
right. What do you say, eh?"

"_Bully!_" That was what Steve said. And he said it not only once but
several times and with varying degrees of enthusiasm and volume. And, as
though fearing his chum would doubt his satisfaction, he accompanied
each "_Bully!_" with an emphatic thump on Tom's back. Tom, choking and
coughing, squirmed out of the way.

"Here! Ho-ho-hold on, you silly chump! You don't have to kill a fellow!"

"Won't it be dandy!" exclaimed Steve, beaming. "We can room together!
And--and----"

"You bet! And we can have a bully time on the train, too. Gee, I never
travelled as far as that alone!"

"I have! It's lots of fun! You eat your meals in a dining-car and
there's a smoking-room where you can sit and chin as late as you want to
and you get off at the stations and walk up and down the platform and
you tip the negro porters and----"

"Wouldn't it be great if we both made the football team, Steve? Of
course, you'll make it anyway, and I might if I had a little luck.
Townsend said last year I didn't do so badly, you know, and if----"

"Of course you'll make it! We both will; next year anyway. I'll bet
they've got lots of fellows on the team no better than you are, Tom.
Wait till I show you the athletic field. It's a corker!" And Steve's
fingers turned the pages of the school catalogue eagerly. "How's that?"
he demanded at last in triumph.

They paused under a dripping tree while Tom viewed the picture, Steve
looking over his shoulder.

"It's fine!" sighed Tom at last. "Gee, I hope--I hope he lets me!"

"Let's go over there now so you can show him this," suggested Steve.
But Tom shook his head wisely.

"Not now," he said. "He don't like to be disturbed Sunday afternoons.
He--he sort of has a nap, you see."

"Just like dad," replied Steve. "Bet you when I get as old as that I
won't stick around the house and go to sleep. Say, Tom, what does 'Mens
sana in corpore sano' mean?"

"A sound mind in a sound body," replied Tom promptly. "Why?"

"It's in here and I asked dad and he didn't know." Steve chuckled. "He
made believe he was peevish with me, so's he wouldn't have to fess up.
Dad's foxy, all right!"

"Well, you ought to have known, Steve," said Tom severely.

"Sure," agreed Steve untroubledly. "That's what he said. Let's take that
a minute. I want to show you the picture of the campus."

"Let's sit down somewhere and look it over," said Tom. "I told father
that it was a school where they were terribly strict with the fellows
and you had to study awfully hard all the time. I wonder if it is."

"I don't believe so," answered Steve. "They say so much about football
and baseball and things like that you can tell they aren't cranky about
studying. And look at the pictures of the different teams in here.
There's the baseball nine, see? Pretty husky looking bunch, aren't they?
And--turn over--there you are--there's the football team. Some of those
chaps aren't any bigger than I am, or you, either. Good looking
uniforms, aren't they? Say, dad gave me a lecture on not thinking I was
going there to just play football. Fathers are awfully funny sometimes!"

"You bet! I wonder--I wonder--would you mind if we tore out a couple of
these pictures before he sees it? I'm afraid he might think there was
too much in it about athletics."

"No, tear away! Here, I'll do it. We'll take the pictures of the teams
out. How about the athletic field? Better tear that out too, do you
think?"

"Well, maybe, just to be on the safe side, you know. Don't throw 'em
away, though. We might want to look at them again. Let's go over to the
library where we can talk, Steve."



CHAPTER II

OFF TO SCHOOL


Possibly you are wondering why two boys, each of whom was possessed of a
perfectly good home of his own, should select the Tannersville Public
Library as a place in which to converse. The answer is that Steve's
father and Tom's father were in the same line of trade, wholesale
lumber, and had a few years before fallen out over some business matter.
Since that time the two men had been at daggers drawn during office
hours and only coldly civil at other times. Steve was forbidden to set
foot in Tom's house and Tom was as strictly prohibited from entering
Steve's. Had the fathers had their way at the beginning of the quarrel
the boys would have ceased then and there to have anything to do with
each other. But they had been close friends ever since primary school
days and, while they reluctantly respected the dictum as to visiting at
each other's residences, they had firmly refused to give up the
friendship, and their fathers had finally been forced to sanction what
they could not prevent.

At the time this story opens, the quarrel between the two men, each a
prominent and well-to-do member of the community, still continued, but
its edge had been dulled by time. Both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Hall took
active parts in municipal affairs and so were forced to meet often and
to even serve together on various committees. They almost invariably
took opposite sides on every question, but they did not allow their
personal quarrel to interfere with their public duties.

The boys had at first found the condition of affairs very irksome, but
had eventually got used to it. It was hard not to be able to run in and
out of each other's houses as they had done when they had first known
each other, but there were plenty of opportunities to be together away
from home and they made the most of them and were well-nigh inseparable.
Mr. Edwards had declared, when announcing the fact in the preceding
spring, that Steve was to go to boarding school, that he was sending the
boy away to remove him from the questionable association of Tom Hall.
But Steve gave little credence to that statement, for he knew that
secretly his father thought very well of Tom. The real reason was that
Steve had not been making good progress at high school, owing
principally to the fact that he gave too much time to athletics and not
enough to study. Mr. Edwards concluded that at a boarding school Steve
would be under a stricter discipline and would profit by it. Steve's
mother had died many years before, and his father, while perfectly able
to command a large army of employees, was rather helpless when it came
to exercising a proper authority over one sixteen-year-old boy!

Naturally enough, Tom, when he had learned of his chum's impending
departure in the fall for boarding school, began a vigorous campaign to
secure parental permission to accompany him. Mrs. Hall had soon yielded,
but Mr. Hall had held out stubbornly until almost the last moment. "I
guess," he had said more than once, "you see enough of that Edwards boy
without going off to the same boarding school with him! If you want to
go to some other school I'll consider it, Tom, but I'm blessed if I'll
have you tagging after Steve Edwards the way you propose!" But in the
end he, too, capitulated, though with ill-grace, and for a week there
were not two busier persons in all Tannersville than Steve and Tom.
Steve had taken time by the forelock and had accumulated most of the
necessary outfit, but Tom had to attend to all his wants in six
weekdays, and there was much scurrying around the shops by the two
lads, much hurry and worry and bustle in the Hall mansion. You had to
take with you such a lot of silly truck, you see! Or, at least, that is
the way Tom put it. The catalogue informed them that they must provide
their own sheets, pillow-cases, spreads, towels, napkins and laundry
bags, as well as take with them a knife, fork and spoon each. Steve
sarcastically wondered if the school gave them beds to sleep in! The
situation was further complicated by the eleventh-hour discovery on the
part of Mrs. Hall that Tom's clothing, while quite good enough for
Tannersville, would never do for Brimfield Academy, and poor Tom had to
be fitted to new suits of clothes and shoes and hats and various other
articles of apparel.

They were to leave early Monday morning, for in that way they could
reach Brimfield before dark. Both boys, who had set their hearts on a
night in a sleeping-car, with all its exciting possibilities, begged to
be allowed to make their start Monday evening, which would allow them to
arrive at school Tuesday forenoon in plenty of time. But neither Steve's
father nor Tom's would listen to the suggestion.

"Then I'll get there a whole day before school opens," grumbled Tom,
"and have to stay there all alone Monday night."

"It won't hurt you a bit," replied Mr. Hall. "And the catalogue says
that students will be received any time after Monday noon. I'm not going
to have you two reckless youngsters travelling around the country
together at night."

Tom, recognising the inevitable, said no more.

There was a somewhat awkward ten minutes at the station, for both Mr.
Edwards and Mr. Hall, the latter accompanied by his wife, went down to
see the boys off. The men nodded coldly to each other and then the odd
situation of two boys who were to travel together side by side taking
leave of their parents at opposite ends of the same car developed.
Tannersville is not a large town and those who were on the platform that
morning when the New York express pulled in understood the dilemma and
smiled over it. Steve and Tom were both rather relieved when the
good-byes were over and the train was pulling out of the station.

"Blamed foolishness," muttered Steve as he met Tom where their bags were
piled on one of the seats.

"Yes, don't they make you tired?" agreed the other. "Say, how much did
you get?"

Steve thrust his fingers into a waistcoat pocket and drew out a
carefully folded and very crisp ten-dollar bill, and Tom whistled.

"I only got seven," he said; "five from father and two from mother. I
guess that will do, though. The only things we have to pay for are
dinner and getting across New York. Got your ticket safe?"

Ensued then a breathless, panicky minute while Steve searched pocket
after pocket for the envelope which contained his transportation to
Brimfield, New York. The perspiration began to stand out on his
forehead, his eyes grew large and round and his gaze set, Tom fidgetted
mightily and persons in nearby seats, sensing the tragedy, grinned in
heartless amusement. Then, at last, the precious envelope came to light
from the depths of the very first pocket in which he had searched and,
with sighs of vast relief, the two boys subsided into the seat. By that
time Tannersville was left behind and the great adventure had begun!

There are lots of worse things in life than starting off to school for
the first time when you have someone with you to share your pleasant
anticipations and direful forebodings. It is an exciting experience, I
can tell you! The feeling of being cast on your own resources is at once
blissfully uplifting and breathtakingly fearsome. Suppose they lost
their way in New York? Suppose they were robbed of their tickets or
their pocket money? You were always hearing about folks being robbed on
trains, while, as for New York, why, every fellow knew that it was
simply a den of iniquity! Or suppose the train was wrecked? It was Tom
who supplied most of these direful contingencies and Steve who
carelessly--or so it seemed--disposed of them.

"If we lost our way we'd ask a policeman," he said. "And if anyone
pinched our money or our tickets we'd just telegraph home to the folks
and wait until we heard from them."

"Where'd we wait?" asked Tom with great interest.

"Hotel."

"They wouldn't let us in unless we had money, would they?" Tom objected.
"Maybe we could find the United States consul."

"That's only when you're abroad," corrected Steve scathingly. "There
aren't any United States consuls in the United States, you silly chump!"

"I should think there ought to be," Tom replied uneasily. "What time do
we get to New York?"

"Two thirty-five, if we're on time. We ought to be. This is a peach of a
train; one of the best on the road. Bet you she's making a mile a minute
right now."

"Bet you she isn't!"

"Bet you she is! I'll ask the conductor."

That gentleman was approaching, and as they yielded their tickets to be
punched Steve put the question. The conductor leaned down and took a
glance at the flying landscape. "About forty-five miles an hour, I
guess. That fast enough for you, boys?"

"Sure," replied Tom. "But he said we were going a mile a minute."

"No, we don't make better than fifty anywhere. You in a hurry, are you?"

"Only for dinner," laughed Steve. "Where do we get dinner, sir?"

"There's a dining-car on now," was the reply. "Or you can get out at
Phillipsburg at twelve-twenty-three and get something at the lunch
counter. We stop there five minutes."

"Me for the dining-car," declared Steve when the conductor had moved on.
"What time is it now, I wonder."

It was only a very few minutes after eight, the discovery of which fact
occasioned both surprise and dismay. "Seems as though it ought to be
pretty nearly noon, doesn't it?" asked Tom.

"Yes. What time did you have breakfast? I had mine at half-past six."

"Me too. Let's go through the train and see if we can find some apples
or popcorn or something."

The trainboy was discovered in a corner of the smoking-car and they
purchased apples, chocolate caramels and salted peanuts, as well as two
humorous weeklies, and found a seat in the car and settled down to
business. They were both frightfully hungry, since excitement had
prevented full justice to breakfasts. It was horribly smoky in that car,
but Steve declared that he liked it, and Tom, although his eyes were
soon smarting painfully, pretended that he did too.

"I suppose we'll have to smoke at school," said Tom without enthusiasm.

Steve considered the question a moment. "I don't believe we will unless
we want to," he replied at last. "We can say it's because we're in
training, you know. They don't allow you to smoke when you're trying for
the football team or anything like that."

Tom sighed his relief. "It makes me horribly squirmy," he said. "I
thought, though, that if all the fellows did it, you know, I'd better,
too. In all the stories about boarding schools I've ever read, the
fellows smoke on the sly and get found out. Don't see much fun in that,
though, do you?"

"No." Steve devoured the last of his apple and started on the peanuts.
"I don't believe those stories very well, anyway. There's always a
goody-goody hero that gets suspected of something he didn't do and knows
who really did it all the time and won't tell. And then he saves another
fellow from drowning or something and it turns out that it was that
fellow who did it, you know, and he goes and fesses up to the principal
and the principal asks the hero's pardon in class and the captain of the
football team comes to him and begs him to play quarter-back or
something, which he does, and the school wins its big game because the
hero gets the ball and runs the length of the field with it and scores a
touchdown. I guess boarding school isn't really very much like that,
Tom. I guess there's a heap more hard work to it than those fellows who
write the stories tell you about. Anyway, we'll soon find out."

"Still, I guess some of those things do happen sometimes," said Tom a
trifle wistfully, unwilling to relinquish the story-book romance.
"Fellows do get wrongly accused of--of things, and they do rescue other
fellows from drowning--sometimes, and fellows do win football games. I'd
like to do that and be a hero!"

"Sure! So would I. Bet you, though, there won't be any of that kind of
stuff at Brimfield. I dare say we'll wish ourselves out of it long
before Christmas! If anyone wrongly accuses me of anything you can bet
I'll make a kick. You won't see me getting punished for what some other
fellow's done. That's all right in stories, but not for yours truly! Not
a bit of it, Tom!"



CHAPTER III

STOP THIEF!


They descended on the dining-car at twelve o'clock promptly, being
unable to remain away any longer, and gave an excellent imitation of a
visitation of locusts performing their well-known devastating act. If
any two travellers by land or sea ever received their money's worth in
food it was Steve and Tom. They took the menu card and briskly demanded
everything in order, and when, having finished their dessert, they made
the discovery that a criminally careless waiter had deprived them of
pineapple sherbert, they immediately and indignantly saw to it that the
omission was corrected. Afterwards, groaning with happiness and
repletion, they dragged themselves back to their own car and subsided on
the seat in beatific silence.

An hour later they came out of their stupor to stare eagerly, excitedly
out at the indications of the approaching metropolis. Meadows strung
with enormous and glaring signboards gave place to towns and presently
there came a pause at a station where other trains whisked in and out
with amazing frequency. Then on again, and they were suddenly dipping
into a tunnel, conscious of an unpleasant pressure against their
eardrums. Tom's expression of bewildered alarm moved a kind-hearted
neighbour across the car aisle to lean over and explain smilingly that
the train was now running under the river, a piece of information but
little calculated to remove Tom's fears had he given the slightest
credence to it, which he didn't.

"I guess," he muttered resentfully close to Steve's ear, "he thinks
we're a couple of 'greenies' for fair! Going under a river!"

And then, almost before Tom's indignation had given way again to alarm,
the tunnel was left behind and they were in New York at last, a
dimly-lighted, subterranean New York filled with hurrying crowds,
bustle, noise, confusion and importunate porters. Even though the two
boys emerged to the platform in a somewhat dazed condition, they had no
intention of wasting perfectly good pocket money having their bags
carried for them, and so started out to find the office of the baggage
transfer company quite bravely. For a minute they had only to follow the
hurrying throng of fellow-passengers, but soon this throng divided and
went separate ways and Steve and Tom, resting their arms by depositing
their hand luggage on the lower step of an apparently interminable
flight of broad stairs, looked about for someone to question. But
everyone seemed in a terrible hurry, and when, at last, Steve ventured
to put a query to a benevolent-looking elderly gentleman who clutched a
tightly-rolled umbrella in one hand and an afternoon paper in the other,
he almost had his head bitten off! In the end, they proceeded up the
stairway and at last came upon a returning porter who gave them their
direction. By the time they had reached the transfer company's office
they had walked so far that Tom wondered whether most of the city was
not contained inside the station!

Presently, though, he saw that it wasn't. For they found themselves
standing outside the terminal on a street that stretched, apparently,
for millions of miles in each direction! They had received detailed
advice from the man in the transfer company's office as to the best
method of reaching the Grand Central Station, and the directions had
sounded quite easy to follow. But now the feat didn't look so simple,
for the man had told them to take a car going in a certain direction and
there wasn't a car in sight! Moreover, when Tom came to look for
car-tracks there weren't any! He pointed out the fact to Steve, and
Steve, at first a bit dismayed, at last shrugged his shoulders and
observed his chum pityingly.

"You don't suppose all the cars in this town run on tracks, do you?" he
asked.

"What do they run on then?"

"Why--er--you wait and see!"

"That's all right, but it's almost three o'clock and our train goes from
the other station at a quarter-past, and----"

"Well, we'll ask someone," said Steve. But, oddly enough, there was no
one to ask. For a town as large as New York that block of street was
strangely deserted. A team or two passed and an elderly woman crept by
on the opposite sidewalk, but no one came near them. Finally Steve
muttered:

"Looks to me as if we were on the wrong street. Maybe there are two
doors to this old station, Tom."

"Of course there are! Let's walk down to that corner. There goes a car
now!" And Tom, as though his future happiness depended on catching that
particular car, seized his bag and started down the street at a run.
Steve followed more leisurely, and when he reached the corner Tom was
talking to a policeman. It was all very simple. They had made the
mistake of leaving the terminal by a wrong exit and had emerged on to a
cross-town street. After that it was easy. A car lumbered up, the
policeman stopped it for them, they climbed aboard, were hurled half the
length of the aisle and fell into seats. A few minutes later they
transferred to a cross-town line without misadventure.

"They certainly make you step lively in this town," panted Tom,
clutching a strap and narrowly avoiding a seat in the lap of a very
stout lady. "Glad I don't have to live here!"

Steve, however, whose eyes were darting hither and thither in a
desperate effort to lose none of the sights, was more favourably
disposed toward the city. Even when, owing to a blockade at one of the
street intersections, it became evident that they could not possibly
make the three-fifteen train to Brimfield, Steve refused to be troubled.
"Maybe," he said, "we'll have time to walk around a bit and see
something. Say we do it, anyway, Tom?"

"No, sir, this place is too blamed big! First thing we'd know we'd be
lost for fair and never would get to Brimfield. When I get to that
station I'm going to sit down and stay there!"

When they did reach it the three-fifteen train had been gone nearly ten
minutes, and inquiry at a window labelled "Information" elicited the
announcement that the next train available for them would not leave
until three-fifty-eight, since Brimfield, it seemed, was not a
sufficiently important station to be served by all the trains.

"That gives us half an hour," said Steve eagerly. "Let's check our bags
somewhere and go out and look around."

"Yes, and get lost! No, sir, not for mine!"

"Oh, don't be such a scarecrow! Come on!"

But Tom was obdurate. "You go if you want to," he said, "but I'm going
to sit down right here and wait. You can leave your bag and I'll look
after it. Only, if you don't get back by a quarter to four I'm going to
the train, and I'll take your bag with me."

"All right. I just want to go out front awhile. I'll be back in ten
minutes. You stay here. And keep your eye on the bags, Tom. I guess
there's a lot of sneak-thieves around here." And Steve looked about him
suspiciously, his glance finally falling on Tom's left-hand neighbour, a
youth of perhaps nineteen years upon whose good-looking face rested an
amused smile. Instantly, however, the paper he was holding was raised to
hide his face, and Steve frowned. The fellow was, thought Steve,
altogether too well-dressed and slick-looking to be honest, and that
smile disturbed him. He leaned down and whispered in Tom's ear:

"Look out for the fellow next to you! I think he's a crook!"

Tom turned an alarmed glance to his left and a disturbed one on Steve.
"I--I guess," he said with elaborate carelessness, "I'll sit over there
where it's lighter." Whereupon he gathered the bags up and literally
fled across the waiting-room, Steve at his heels. In his new location,
out of sight of the suspected youth, he said hoarsely: "I reckon he was
a pickpocket, don't you?"

"You can't tell," responded Steve, shaking his head knowingly. "Anyway,
you want to keep an eye on those bags every minute. I'll be right back,
though. Want to see my paper?" And Steve handed an _Evening Sun_,
purchased on the car, to his chum and wound his way through the throng
toward the entrance.

Left to himself, Tom looked at the clock and saw that the hour was
three-thirty-two, glanced apprehensively about him in search of possible
malefactors, dragged the bags closer to his feet and unfolded the paper.
But he couldn't find much to interest him in it. Besides, he had to look
at the clock every few minutes, and whenever a man in a uniform
appeared with a megaphone and announced the impending departure of a
train Tom had heart disease, seized both bags and crouched ready for
instant flight until he was assured that the word "Brimfield" was not
among the list of stations enunciated through the trumpet. It was after
he had sunk back with a sigh of relief on finding that a train for
"Pittsburgh, Chicago and the West" was not his that he discovered that
an empty seat at his right had been occupied during his strained
interest in the announcer. Glancing around he saw that the occupant was
the well-dressed, good-looking youth who had been seated next to him
before. The youth seemed very interested in the paper he was reading,
his gaze being apparently fixed on a column headed "Tiger's Football
Players Report," but Tom refused to be deceived. Only the fact that a
grey-coated station policeman was standing within hail kept him from a
second flight. Steve, he reflected nervously while he wound both feet
around the bags, would return in a minute or two and then they could go
to the train. Tom devoutly wished himself and the bags there now. Once
he was conscious of the fact that the youth beside him was glancing his
way, but he pretended not to be aware of it. Then his neighbour spoke.

"Princeton ought to have a pretty good team this year," he observed
genially. Tom, his heart in his mouth, nodded.

"Y-yes," he said.

"Interested in football?" went on the other. Tom dared a quick glance at
the smiling face and shook his head.

"No, thank you. I mean--yes, a little." He didn't want to talk because
he had read that confidence men always engaged their victims in
conversation before selling them counterfeit money or leading them to
gamble away their savings. Tom's eyes darted anxiously about in search
of Steve and he wondered how soon the smooth-voiced stranger would call
him by name or ask after the folks in Tannersville. He hadn't long to
wait!

"It's a great game," pursued the other. Then, after a short pause: "Say,
I've met you before, haven't I? Your face looks familiar."

"No," answered Tom shortly, digging his feet convulsively against the
bulging sides of the bags on the floor.

"My mistake, then. I thought perhaps you were from Tannersville,
Pennsylvania."

Tom almost jumped, although he had been expecting some such remark. It
was, he reflected agitatedly, absolutely marvellous the way these
fellows learned things! In a moment the fellow would tell him his name!

The fellow didn't, though. He only said:

"Tannersville is a fine town. Ever been there?"

Tom shook his head energetically. "Never!" he fibbed.

"Oh!" The confidence-man--for Tom had fully decided that such he
was--seemed disappointed. But he wasn't discouraged. "Which way are you
travelling?" he asked.

Tom did a lot of thinking then in a fragment of a minute.

"Philadelphia," he blurted.

"Philadelphia! Why, say, you're in the wrong station. You ought to go to
the Pennsylvania Terminal. I guess you're a stranger here, eh? Tell you
what I'll do. You come with me and I'll put you on a car that'll take
you right there."

"I--I've got to wait for a friend," muttered Tom desperately, sending an
appealing glance toward the policeman who had now begun to saunter
slowly away.

"That so? Well----" The other got up with a glance at the clock and
reached down for his suit-case. Tom's gaze followed the direction of
that hand closely. It was, he thought, odd that a confidence-man should
carry a suit-case, but that might be only an attempt to avert suspicion.
The bag held the inscription "A. L. M., Orange, N. J." Probably the bag
had been stolen. Tom fixed that inscription firmly in his mind. "I'll
have to be going," said "A. L. M." "Sorry I can't be of assistance to
you, kid. I thought that maybe if you were going my way, out to
Brimfield, I could give you a hand with your bags."

Tom gasped! How did he know about Brimfield?

"Thanks," he muttered. "I--I'll get on all right." Standing there in
front of him "A. L. M." looked very youthful to be such a deep-dyed
villain and Tom felt a bit sorry for him. But the villain was smiling
broadly and, as it seemed to Tom, a trifle mockingly.

"Better keep a sharp lookout for crooks," advised the other. "There are
lots of 'em about here. See that old chap over there with the basket of
fruit in his lap?" The stranger moderated his voice and leaned toward
Tom. Tom, turning his head a trifle to follow the other's gaze, felt one
of the bags between his feet move and made a grab toward it. But the
stranger had not, apparently, touched it, unless with a foot. "That," he
was saying, "is Four-Fingered Phillips, one of the cleverest
confidence-men in New York. Well, so long!"

The other moved away, walking nonchalantly past the station policeman
who had now wandered back to his post. Tom held his breath. But the
policeman, although he undoubtedly followed the youth with his gaze for
a moment, failed to act, and Tom was not a little relieved. Even if the
fellow was a crook he seemed an awfully decent sort and Tom was glad he
hadn't been arrested.

It was getting perilously near a quarter to four now and still Steve had
not returned. Tom watched the long hand crawl toward the figure IX, saw
it reach it and pass. He would, he decided then, give Steve another five
minutes. His gaze fell on "Four-Fingered Phillips" and he viewed that
gentleman perplexedly. He didn't look in the least like a
confidence-man. He appeared to be about sixty years of age, eminently
respectable and slightly infirm. He clutched a basket of fruit and an
ivory-headed cane and seemed quite oblivious to everything about him.
New York, reflected Tom, with something like a shudder, must be a
terribly wicked place! And then, while he was still striving to discern
signs of depravity under the gentle and kindly exterior of the elderly
confidence-man, a young woman, leading a little boy of some three or
four years of age and bearing many bundles, hurried up to "Four-Fingered
Phillips," spoke, helped him to his feet and guided him away toward the
train-shed. Tom sighed. It was too much for him! Of course he had read
of female accomplices, but it didn't seem that a four-year-old child
could be a part of the game! For the first time he wondered whether "A.
L. M.," perhaps chagrined at his failure to decoy Tom to some secret
lair, had deceived him about "Four-Fingered Phillips"!

Then it was ten minutes to four, good measure, and Tom, in a sudden
panic, seized his bags, gazed about him despairingly and made for the
train-shed. He had given Steve fair warning, he told himself, and now he
could just fend for himself. But his steps got slower and slower as he
approached the gate and when he reached it he set the bags down, got his
ticket out and waited. After all, it would be a pretty mean trick to
leave Steve. At least, he'd wait there until the last moment. The
minutes passed and the hands on the clock further along the barrier
crept nearer and nearer to the time set for the departure of the
Brimfield accommodation. Tom wondered when the next train after this one
would leave.

"Going on this train, son?" asked the gateman.

"Yes," answered Tom, and took a step toward the gate. Then he stopped
and shook his head. "No, I guess not," he muttered. "When does the next
one go, sir?"

"Where to?" asked the gateman, punching the ticket of a late arrival.

"Brimfield."

"Four-twelve." The gate closed and the matter was irrevocably settled.
Tom took his bags and hurried back to the waiting-room and found his
place again. No Steve was in sight!

"I'll give him ten minutes," said Tom savagely. "Then I'll go. And--and
I won't come back the next time!"

And then, just as the clock announced the hour Steve appeared, a little
flushed and breathless, but smiling broadly.

"Gee, you ought to have been with me, Tom!" he said excitedly. "There
was a peach of a fire just around in the next street! Seven engines and
a hook-and-ladder and hundreds of hose-carts and one of those
water-towers! And most of the engines were automobiles, Tom! It was
corking!"

"Maybe it was," replied Tom coldly. "I'm going to Brimfield on the
four-twelve. What you going to do? Find another fire?"

"Why, no. When I saw I'd lost that other train I thought I might as
well wait and see the fire out. There's lots of time, anyway. We'll have
plenty of school before we get through with it, Tom."

"That's all right," responded Tom bitterly, "but you're way off if you
think it's any fun for me sitting around here and waiting for you while
you have a good time going to fires!"

"You said you didn't want to go----"

"Well, what if I did?" demanded Tom, working himself into a very
respectable fit of anger. "I _didn't_ want to go. But that's no reason
why you should leave me alone for the rest of the day to--to stave off
robbers and thieves and confidence-men and--and all!"

"Oh, well, come on," said Steve. "We haven't done anything but lose a
train----"

"We've lost two trains!"

"And the man says there's another at twelve minutes after."

"And we'll lose that if you stand here talking much longer," declared
Tom peevishly. "Take up your bag and come along. There's only six or
seven minutes."

"Where is it? Haven't you got it?"

"Got what?"

"My bag," said Steve crossly.

"Isn't it staring you in the face?" asked Tom disgustedly, indicating
the suit-case against the seat. "Are you blind?"

"That? That isn't mine. Where----" Steve looked at the bag in Tom's hand
and then around the floor. "_Where's mine?_"

"What!" Tom was gazing in stupefied amazement at the bag between them.

On the end appeared the legend: "A. L. M., Orange, N. J."



CHAPTER IV

OUT FOR BRIMFIELD!


Just as the conductor, snapping his watch shut, waved his hand to the
engineer of the four-twelve two boys hurried down the platform and, with
the assistance of a negro porter, climbed to the last platform of the
moving train. From there, much out of breath, they entered the car,
pushed aside a curtain and sank on to the seats of the smoking
compartment. And as he did so each set a suit-case between his legs and
the front of the seat in a way that suggested that only over his dead
body could that bag be removed!

The first of the two, the one with his back to the engine, was a
nice-looking youth of fifteen--almost sixteen, to be quite
accurate--with a broad-shouldered, slim-hipped body that spoke of the
best of physical condition. He had a pair of light-brown eyes, a short
straight nose, a nice mouth and a rather sharp chin. His face was
tanned, and slightly freckled as well, and he was tall for his age. His
full name was Stephen Dana Edwards.

His companion was an inch shorter, a little heavier in build, although
quite as well-conditioned physically, and was lighter in colouring. His
hair was several shades less dark than his friend's, although it, too,
was brown, his eyes were grey and under the sunburn his skin was quite
fair. His full name was Thomas Perrin Hall.

Good, healthy, frank-looking youths both of them under normal
conditions, but at this present moment very far from appearing at their
best. Each face held an expression of gloom and resentment; on Mr.
Stephen Edwards' countenance sat what might well be termed a scowl. And,
after a minute, by which time the train had plunged into the tunnel and
the travellers had somewhat recovered their breaths, the latter young
gentleman gave voice to a remark which went well with his expression.

"I like the way you looked after it," he said with deep sarcasm. Mr.
Thomas Hall, returning the other's scowl, drummed with his heels on the
suit-case.

"Why didn't you stay and look after it yourself?" he asked angrily. "It
isn't my fault that you went off chasing after fire-engines."

"I didn't chase after fire-engines. You said you'd watch my bag and----"

"I did watch it!"

"Oh, yes, fine! Let someone pinch it right under your eyes! I notice you
managed to keep your own bag all right!"

"Oh, dry up!" growled Tom.

Silence ensued until a conductor appeared and demanded tickets. Yielding
their transportation, the boys were informed that they were in a parlour
car and must pay twenty-five cents apiece to ride to Brimfield. Tom laid
hold of his bag with a sigh, but Steve unemotionally produced a quarter
and so Tom followed suit. When the conductor had disappeared again
through the curtain Steve said:

"Why didn't they tell us this was a parlour car? How were we to know?"

"They just wanted our money, I suppose," replied Tom bitterly.
"Everybody in this place is after your money. I wish I was home!"

"So do I," agreed Steve gloomily. More silence then, until,

"I don't see how he ever did it," remarked Tom. "I had both bags between
my feet. He was certainly slick. I suppose when he told me to look at
'Four-Fingered Phillips' I sort of turned around and switched my legs
away from the bags. But he must have been mighty quick."

"Of course he was quick," said Steve contemptuously. "I warned you
against that fellow."

"That's all right, but I'll bet he'd have played the same trick if it
had been you instead of me," replied Tom warmly.

"I'll bet he wouldn't!"

"All right!" Tom shrugged his shoulders and looked out the window. They
had the compartment to themselves, which, in view of the remarks which
were passed, was fortunate.

"It isn't all right, though," pursued Steve. "That bag had all my things
in it: pajamas, brushes and comb and collars and handkerchiefs and--and
everything! I'd like to know what I'm going to sleep in!"

"I dare say we'll get our trunks to-night," said Tom soothingly. "If we
don't you can have my pajamas."

"What'll you wear?" asked Steve more graciously.

"Anything. I don't mind. I say, Steve, let's see what's in the bag he
left!"

"Would you?" asked Steve doubtfully.

"Why not? He's got yours, hasn't he?"

Steve lifted the suit-case to the seat beside him and tried the catch.
It was not locked and opened readily. There wasn't a great deal in it: a
pair of lavender pajamas at which Steve sniffed sarcastically, a
travelling case fitted with inexpensive brushes and things and marked
"A. L. M.," a pair of slippers, a magazine, a soiled collar, one clean
handkerchief and a grey flannel cap with a red B sewed on the front
above the visor.

"Wonder whose they are," mused Tom, as Steve spread the trousers of the
pajamas out and viewed them dubiously. They were several sizes two large
for Steve, but they might do if his trunk didn't come in time. "I
suppose that fellow swiped this bag, found there wasn't anything
valuable in it and thought he'd swap it for another."

"Maybe there was something valuable in it when he got it," said Steve.
He tossed the things back and closed it again. "It's a pretty good
suit-case; better than mine. Do you suppose it would do any good to
advertise?"

"I don't suppose so. Besides, that cop said that he'd have them search
the pawnshops. If the police don't find it I guess an advertisement
wouldn't do any good, Steve."

"Well, I suppose there's no use crying over spilled milk," replied the
other, setting the suit-case back in its place. "After all I can buy new
things for five dollars or so and I guess father will send me the money
when I tell him about it."

Tom frowned thoughtfully. Finally, "Say, Steve, if you won't tell him
how it happened I'll pay for what you lost myself."

"What for?"

"I--I'd rather he didn't know, that's all."

"Oh! Well, I won't tell him you had anything to do with it, Tom. You
didn't, either," he added after a moment. "It wasn't your fault, Tom.
It--it would have happened to me just the same way, I'll bet."

"You could just say that the bag was stolen, couldn't you?" asked Tom
more cheerfully. "I mean you needn't go into particulars, you know. It
doesn't really matter _how_ it happened as long as it _did_ happen."

"No, of course not. I'll just say it was stolen while we were waiting
for the train. I guess five dollars will be enough. Let's see. Pajamas
cost two and a half, brushes----"

"You getting off at Brimfield, gentlemen?" asked the porter, putting his
head through the curtains and waving a brush at them.

"Yes. Are we there?" asked Tom startledly.

"Pretty near, sir. Want me to brush you off, sir?"

"I guess so." By the time that ceremony had been impressively performed
and two dimes had changed places from the boys' pockets to the porter's,
the train was slowing down for the station. A moment later they had
alighted and were looking about them.

The station was small and attractive, being of stone and almost covered
with vines, and beyond it, across the platform, several carriages were
receiving passengers. A man in a long and shabby coat accosted them.

"Carriage, boys? Going up to the school?"

"Yes," replied Steve. "How much?"

"Twenty-five cents apiece. Any trunks?"

"Two. Can you take them up with us?"

"I'll have 'em up there in half an hour. Just you give me the checks."

"The checks," murmured Steve, a look of uneasiness coming to his face.

"Haven't you got them?" asked Tom anxiously.

Steve nodded. "I've got them all right," he said grimly, "but these are
the transfer company's checks. We--we forgot to get new ones at the
station!"

"Thunder!" said Tom disgustedly. "Now what'll we do?"

"I'll look after it, gentlemen," said the driver comfortingly. "I'll
have the agent telegraph the numbers back and they'll send 'em right
along. It'll cost about half a dollar."

"Will we get them to-night?" asked Steve.

"You might. I wouldn't like to promise, though. Anyway, they'll be along
first thing in the morning. Thank you, sir. Right this way to the
carriage. I'll look after the bags."

"Not mine, you won't," replied Tom grimly, tightening his clasp on it.
"I wouldn't trust the President of the United States with this bag.
Anyway," he added as he followed Steve and the driver across the
platform to a ricketty conveyance, "not if he lived in New York!"

By that time all the other carriages had rolled away, and while they
waited for their driver to arrange with the station agent about the
trunks they examined their surroundings. There wasn't much to see. The
station was at the end of a well-shaded street, and beyond, across the
right of way, the country seemed to begin. There were one or two houses
within sight, set back amidst trees, and at the summit of a low hill the
wheel of a windmill was clattering merrily. There were many hills in
sight, all prettily wooded, and, on the whole, Brimfield looked
attractive. They searched vainly for a glimpse of the school buildings,
and the driver, returning just then, explained in reply to their
inquiry, that the school was nearly a mile away.

"You could have seen it from the train if you'd been looking," he added.
"It's about a quarter of a mile from the track on the further side
there. Get-ap, Abe Lincoln!"

Their way led down the straight and shaded street which presently began
to show houses on either side, houses set in small gardens still aflame
with autumn flowers and divided from the road by neat hedges or
vine-clad fences. Then there were a few stores clustering about the
intersection of the present street and one running at right angles with
it, and a post-office and a fire-house and a diminutive town hall. The
old horse turned to the right here and ambled westward.

"You boys are sort of late," observed the driver conversationally.

"Why, school doesn't begin until to-morrow, does it?" asked Tom.

"No. I meant you was late for to-day. About twenty boys came this
afternoon, most of 'em on the train before this one. There was Prouty
and Newhall and Miller and a lot of 'em. You're new boys, though, ain't
you?"

They acknowledged it and the driver nodded.

"Thought I didn't remember your faces. I got a good memory for faces, I
have. Well, you're coming to a fine school, boys, a fine school! I guess
there ain't another like it in the country. I been driving back and
forth for nigh on twelve years and I know it pretty well now. Know lots
o' the boys, too. Nice fellers, they be. Always have a good word for me.
Generous, they be, too. Always handin' me a tip and thinkin' nothing of
it."

Steve nudged Tom with his elbow. "That's fine," he said. "You must be
pretty rich by now."

"Rich? Me rich?" The driver shook his head sorrowfully. "No, sir, there
ain't much chance o' gettin' rich at this business, what with the high
cost of feed and all. No, gentlemen, I'm a poor man and I don't never
expect to be aught else. Get-ap, Abe Lincoln!"

The village, or what there was of it, had been left behind now and the
road was winding slightly uphill through woodland. The sun was slanting
into their faces, casting long shadows. Now and then a gate and the
beginning of a well-kept driveway suggested houses set out of sight on
the wooded knolls about them. The carriage crossed the railroad track
and the driver pointed ahead of him with his whip.

"There's the school," he said; and the boys craned forward to see.

"Gee, but ain't it big!" muttered Steve.



CHAPTER V

NUMBER 12 BILLINGS


The woods had given way to open fields, and they could follow with their
eyes the course of the road ahead as it turned to the left and ran,
almost parallel to the railroad, past where a pair of stone gate-posts
guarded the entrance to the Academy. From the gate a drive went winding
upward, hidden now and then by trees and shrubs, to where, at the crest
of a hill, a half-dozen buildings looked down upon them with numberless
windows.

"That's Main Hall," said Tom, "the big one in the centre. I remember it
in the catalogue."

"And that's the gym at this end," added Steve. "It's a pretty good
looking place, isn't it? What's the building where the tall chimney is,
driver?"

"Torrence. There's rooms upstairs and a dining-room on the first floor.
That chimney's from the kitchen at the back. Then the building in the
middle's Main Hall, as they call it. That was the original building. I
remember when there wasn't any others. The one to the left of it's
Hensey Hall. The fellows that lives there are called 'Chickens,'"
chuckled the man. "Then there's Billings beyond Hensey, and The Cottage,
where Mr. Fernald lives, is just around the corner, like. You can see
the porch of it if you look."

But they couldn't, for at that moment the carriage turned to enter the
gate and their view was cut off by a group of yellowing beeches.

Presently the carriage stopped in front of a broad flight of stone steps
and the boys climbed out.

"Fifty cents, gentlemen," said the driver as he lifted the bags out.
"Thank you, sir. Thank _you_, sir! I'll have your trunks up first thing
in the morning. Just walk right in through the door and you'll find the
office on your right. They'll look after you there. Much obliged,
gentlemen. Any time you want a rig or anything you telephone to Jimmy
Hoskins. That's me. Good-night, gentlemen, and good luck to you!"

Steve had contributed an extra quarter, which doubtless accounted for
Mr. Hoskins' extreme affability. Bags in hand they climbed the well-worn
granite steps and entered a dim, unlighted corridor. An open door on the
right revealed a room divided by a railing, in front of which were a
half-dozen wooden chairs and beyond which were two desks, some filing
cabinets, a book-case, a letter-press, some chairs and one small,
middle-aged man with a shining bald head which was raised inquiringly as
Steve led the way to the railing.

"How do you do, boys," greeted the sole occupant of the office in a
thin, high voice. "What are the names, please?" As he spoke he took a
card from a pile in front of him and dipped a pen in the ink-well.

"Stephen D. Edwards, sir."

"Full name, please."

"Stephen Dana."

"Very good. Place of residence?"

"Tannersville, Pennsylvania."

"A wonderful state, Pennsylvania. Parents' names, please."

"Charles L. Edwards. My mother isn't living."

"Tut, tut, tut!" said the school secretary regretfully and
sympathetically. "A great misfortune, Edwards. Now, you are entering by
certificate?"

"Yes, sir, from the Tannersville High School."

"And your age?"

"Fifteen; sixteen in----"

"Fifteen will do, thank you." He drew out a drawer in a small cabinet
set at the left of the broad-topped desk and ran his fingers over the
indexed cards within it, finally extracting one and laying it very
exactly above the one on which he had been setting down the information
supplied by Steve. For a moment he silently compared the two. Then he
nodded with much satisfaction. "Quite so, quite so," he said. "You will
room in Billings Hall, Number 12, Edwards. You are provided with linen
and other articles required?"

"Yes, sir, but my trunk hasn't got here yet."

"Quite so. One moment." He drew a telephone toward him, pressed a button
on a little black board set at one end of the desk, glanced at the clock
between the two broad windows and spoke into the transmitter: "Mrs.
Calder? Edwards, 12 Billings, hasn't his trunk yet. Will you have his
room made up, please? Eh? Quite so! Yes, 12 Billings. Just a moment." He
turned to Steve. "May I ask whether the young gentleman with you is your
room-mate, Hall?"

"Yes, sir."

"And his trunk, too, is missing?"

"Yes, sir."

"Quite so. Yes, Mrs. Calder, both beds, please. Thank you." He hung up
the receiver and pushed the instrument aside. "That is all, Edwards. I
trust you will like the school. Should you want anything you may come
to me here or you will find your Hall Master, Mr. Daley, in Number 8
Billings. Now, if you please, Hall."

Tom, in turn, answered the little man's interrogations and at last they
were free to seek their room.

"Billings is the last dormitory to your right as you leave this
building," said the secretary, "and you will find Number 12 on the
second floor at the further end. Supper is served at six o'clock in the
dining-room in Wendell, which is the last building in the other
direction. As we have very few students with us yet, the supper hour is
shortened and it will greatly assist if you will be prompt."

The boys thanked him and sought their room. A broad flagstone walk ran
the length of the row of six buildings and along this they strode past
the first building, which was Hensey, to the one beyond. The dormitories
were uniform in material and style of architecture, each being three
stories in height, the first story of stone and the others of red brick.
The entrance was reached by a single stone step, above which hung an
electric light just beginning to glow wanly in the early twilight.
Inside, two slate steps led to the first floor level and here a
fireproof door divided the staircase well from the corridor. A flight of
stone stairs took them to the second floor. "Rooms 11 to 20" was
inscribed on the door and Steve pushed it open and led the way down to a
very clean, well-lighted corridor to Number 12. There could be no
mistake about it, for the figures were very plainly printed on the white
door. Under the room number was a little metal frame which they
afterwards discovered was for the purpose of holding a card bearing the
names of the occupants. Steve pushed the door open and, followed by Tom,
entered.

There was still enough light from the one broad window to see by, but
Steve found a switch near the doorway and turned on the electricity. It
was a pretty forlorn looking place at first glance, but doubtless the
fact that the two beds were unmade, that the window-seat was empty of
cushions and that the two slim chiffoniers and the desk-table were bare
had a good deal to do with that first impression. The boys set their
bags down and looked about them rather dejectedly. Finally,

"I suppose when we get our things around it'll look different," murmured
Tom.

Steve grunted and tried a bed. "That feels pretty good," he said. "I
hope Mrs. Thingamabob won't forget to make it. Which side do you want?"

"I don't care," replied Tom. "There isn't any difference, I guess."

There didn't appear to be. The door was at the right as you entered, and
beside it was a good-sized closet. The room was about fifteen feet long,
from closet to window, by some twelve feet wide. A brown grass rug
filled most of the floor space. The wainscoting, of clean white pine,
ascended four feet and ended in a narrow ledge or shelf, devised, as
they afterwards discovered, to hold photographs or small pictures which
the rules prohibited them from placing on the walls. The walls were
painted a light buff. The furniture consisted of two single-width beds,
two chiffoniers, a study table and two straight-backed chairs. The beds
were against the opposite walls, the table in the geometrical centre of
the rug, the chiffoniers occupied a portion of the remaining wall space
on each side and the two chairs were set between beds and bureaus. The
window was in a slight bay and there was a six-foot seat below it. The
room was lighted by a two-lamp electrolier above the table, but from one
socket depended a green cord, suggesting that a previous occupant had
used a drop light.

"I wonder," said Steve, "where we are supposed to wash."

"Let's look for the bathroom," suggested Tom. So they returned to the
silent corridor and presently discovered a commodious bath and wash-room
at the farther end. There were six set bowls and four tubs there, and
Tom thought it was pretty fine. Steve, however, was in a mood to find
fault and he objected to the bathroom on several different counts. For
one thing, it was too far away. Then, too, he didn't see how twenty
fellows were going to wash at six bowls. Tom, however, promptly
demonstrated how one fellow could do it by returning to Number 12 and
bringing back his wash-cloth. In his absence Steve had been
experimenting with the liquid soap apparatus with which each bowl was
supplied, and by the time Tom got back was able to tell him why he
didn't approve of them! By the time they had both cleaned up it was time
to find the dining-hall, and so, leaving the light burning in brazen
disregard of a notice under the switch, they clattered downstairs again
and set off for the other end of the Row, as the line of buildings was
called.

Two or three boys were standing on the steps of Wendell when they
reached it and they were aware of their frankly curious gaze as they
passed them. The dining-hall wasn't hard to find, for its double doors
faced them as they entered the building. They left their caps on one of
the big racks outside and rather consciously stepped inside the doorway.
It was a huge room, seemingly occupying the entire first floor of the
building, and held what appeared to be hundreds of tables. Only four of
them were occupied now, two across the hall from the door and two at one
end. A boy of about seventeen or eighteen, wearing an apron and carrying
a tray of dishes, saw them, and, setting down his burden, conducted them
to one of the tables nearby. There were already five boys at the board
and they each and all stared silently while Steve and Tom slid into
their chairs. The newcomers surmised that they, too, were new boys, for,
unlike the fellows at the next table beyond, who were laughing and
chatting quite light-heartedly, they applied themselves grimly and
silently to their food and seemed to view each other with deep distrust.

Steve and Tom, striving against the embarrassment that held them,
conversed together in whispers. "It's a whaling big room," said Steve.
"Just like a hotel, isn't it? Wonder what we get to eat."

"Bet you I'll eat it, whatever it is," replied Tom. "I'm as hungry as a
bear!"

They weren't left long in doubt, for a second waiter appeared very
promptly and set their repast before them. There was cold roast beef, a
baked potato apiece, toasted muffins, milk and cocoa, preserves and
cookies. By the time they were half through their supper most of the
others had finished and hurried away, removing much of the embarrassment
of the situation. Steve ventured to stretch his legs comfortably under
the table and turn his head to regard the occupants of the tables at the
far end of the hall.

"I guess some of those are teachers," he said. "Gee, but I'd like some
more meat. Would you ask for it?"

"I don't know. No one else did. These muffins are bully, only there
aren't enough of them. I wonder if we'll sit here regularly."

"I don't suppose so. We'll probably be shoved to one of those tables
over there by the wall. What time do you suppose they have breakfast?
We'll have to ask someone, I guess. Didn't he say something about a Hall
Master?"

"Yes, in Number 8. We'll stop and ask him when we go back." There was a
scraping of chairs at the end of the room and several older boys and
two or three men came down the room toward the door. Steve and Tom
turned to look and suddenly Tom seized his companion's arm.

"It's him!" he exclaimed.

"Who?" asked Steve.

"Or--anyway it looks lots like him," continued Tom breathlessly.

"Who looks like what?" demanded the other impatiently.

"Why, the tall fellow just going out now! See him? He--he looks just
like the fellow in the station, the fellow who took your bag! The
confidence-man!"



CHAPTER VI

CLUES!


"The confidence-man?" asked Steve incredulously. "Oh, you run away and
play, Tom! What would he be doing here? Don't be a silly goat!"

"Well, I suppose it isn't he, but--but he certainly looked just like
him."

"Pshaw, I saw him too, didn't I? Well, that chap doesn't look anything
like him."

"Then you didn't look at the fellow I meant," returned Tom doggedly.
"I--I believe it was he, Steve!"

"Oh, sure," said Steve sarcastically, "and the fellow behind him is a
famous second-story burglar and the man with the flannel trousers on,
who looks like a teacher, is a popular murderer. He escaped from Sing
Sing this morning. And the little man with the grey moustache----"

"That's all right," replied Tom earnestly, "but you'll find I'm right.
It--it was he, I tell you! There couldn't be two people as much alike!"

"You'd better follow him then," laughed Steve, "and ask him for my
suit-case. Tell him I want my pajamas, will you?"

But Tom refused to treat the matter so lightly. He was evidently quite
convinced that he was really on the trail of the thief, and all Steve's
ridicule failed to move him from that conviction. He was too anxious to
begin the search for the "confidence-man" to do justice to the rest of
his supper, and when, at last, they were once more outside the building
he gazed up and down the Row eagerly and was disappointed to find that
neither his quarry nor anyone else was visible in the half-darkness. As
they passed Torrence Hall, however, an open window on the first floor
sent a flood of light across the walk, and Tom, crossing the narrow
strip of turf that divided building from pavement, raised himself on his
tiptoes and looked into the room. The next instant a face appeared with
disconcerting suddenness within a foot of his own and the occupant of
the room, who had been reclining on the window-seat, enquiring abruptly:

"Well, fresh, what do you want?"

"N-Nothing, thanks," stammered Tom, withdrawing quickly.

"Keep your head out of my window then," was the indignant response, "or
I'll come out there and teach you manners!"

Tom hurried away into the friendly darkness and joined Steve, who was
chuckling audibly.

"Did you find him, Tom?"

"No." And then, as Steve continued to be amused, Tom said with spirit;
"I should think you'd be enough interested to help a fellow instead of
giggling like a silly goat!"

"Oh, I'm not a Sherlock Holmes," replied Steve airily. "Detecting isn't
in my line."

"I should think you'd want to get your bag back, though. I tell you that
was really the fellow, Steve. Don't you believe me?"

"Oh, yes!"

"You don't, though," said Tom bitterly. "All right, then. You find your
own bag. I'm through."

"Oh, don't say that!" begged Steve. "You were doing so nicely. Look,
there's a lighted window up there, Tom. If you get a ladder now----"

"Aw, cut it!" growled Tom.

Mr. Daley was in when they rapped at the door of Number 8, on the first
floor of Billings, and, accepting his invitation to enter, they found
themselves in a very cosy, lamp-lighted, nicely furnished study, from
which a smaller room, evidently a bedroom, opened. Mr. Horace Daley was
a young man with an embarrassed manner and a desire to appear quite at
ease. He shook hands heartily, stumbled through a few words of welcome
and arranged chairs for them. He asked a good many questions, invariably
remarking "Fine!" with deep enthusiasm after every answer and smiled
jovially at all times. But the boys saw that he was much more
embarrassed than they were and were secretly pleased and amused. When at
last the instructor had finished the usual questions and was searching
around in his mind for more, Steve began asking for information.
Breakfast, responded Mr. Daley, was at seven-thirty and ran half an
hour. Chapel was at eight-fifteen usually, although there would be none
to-morrow, as school did not officially begin until noon. The first
recitation hour was nine o'clock. Dinner ran from twelve-thirty to
one-thirty. Recitations began again at two and lasted until half-past
three. Supper was at six. Between seven and eight the students were
required to remain in their rooms and study, although on permission of
the House Master one could study in the library instead. All lights were
supposed to be out at ten-thirty. And Mr. Daley hoped the boys would
get on swimmingly and become very fond of Brimfield.

"I--ah--I want you to feel that I am ready and anxious to help you at
any time, fellows. I--ah--want you to look on me as--ah--as a big
brother and come to me in your--ah--perplexities and troubles, should
you have any, and of course there are bound to be--ah--little worries at
first. One has to accustom oneself to any--ah--new environment. Don't
hesitate to call on me for advice or assistance. Sometimes an older
head--ah--you see what I mean?"

Steve replied that they did and thanked him and, with Tom crowding at
his heels, withdrew.

"He's a funny dub," confided Steve, as they made their way up to the
next floor. "Guess he must be new here. What does he teach, Tom?"

"Modern languages, I think the catalogue said. His first name is
Horace."

"Horace!" Steve chuckled. "It ought to be Percy. Hello, they've fixed
the beds up."

The room looked far more habitable when Steve had switched the light on.
Tom sighed luxuriously as he stretched himself out on one of the beds.
"Bet you I'm going to do a tall line of sleeping to-night, Steve," he
said. "This bed isn't half bad, either."

"Well, don't put your feet all over the spread," replied Steve. "Get up
out of that and unpack your bag, you lazy duffer."

"I will in a minute. I'm tired. Say, what do you think of this place,
anyway, Steve?"

"The school? Oh, I guess it'll do. You can't tell much about it yet, I
suppose. I'm going to snoop around to-morrow after breakfast and see the
sights. I suppose things will be a lot different when the crowd comes. I
guess we're the only fellows in this dormitory to-night."

"Scared?" asked Tom, with a grin. "Remember Horace is downstairs to
protect you."

"Huh! Bet you he'd crawl under the bed if he saw a burglar! I wonder if
the rest of the faculty is like him."

"Oh, I dare say he's all right when you get to know him," said Tom, with
a yawn. "Say, pull down that window, Steve. It's getting chilly in
here."

"Get up and move around and you won't feel chilly," replied Steve
unsympathetically. "Gee, I wish I had my pajamas and things."

"You might have had them by this time if you'd helped me look for that
fellow," said Tom. "I'm just as certain as I am that I'm lying here
that the fellow we saw in the dining-hall was the fellow who swiped your
suit-case!"

"Oh, forget that," said Steve disgustedly. "Common-sense ought to tell
you that a sneak thief you saw in New York wouldn't be having his supper
here at Brimfield!"

"He was, though," replied the other stubbornly.

"Oh, run away! Don't you suppose there are two people who look alike in
this world?"

"Not as much alike as those two."

"Why, you didn't even get a good look at the fellow in the dining-hall.
He had his back turned to you."

"Not when I saw him first, he didn't," answered Tom with a vigorous
shake of his head. "I saw his face before he turned at the doorway and
_it was him_!"

"You mean it was he, you ignoramus. All right, Tom, have your own way
about it. Only someone ought to warn the principal about him. Why, he
might run off with a couple of the buildings some night!"

"Enjoy yourself," murmured Tom. "But you'll find I was right some day,
you old pig-headed chump!"

"When I do I--I'll make you a present," answered Steve, with a grin.

"Any present you'd give me wouldn't cut much figure, I guess," said the
boy on the bed contemptuously.

"Is that so? Say, what'll I do with this bag?" Steve laid the suit-case
in question on his bed and threw open the lid. "The pajamas look clean,
anyway," he continued as he viewed them. "I suppose I'll have to wear
them." He drew the cap out and set it on his head. "Wonder what the B
stands for, Tom."

"What bee?" asked Tom lazily.

"The B on this cap," replied the other, studying it.

Tom suddenly sat up on the bed. "Why, Brimfield, of course!" he
exclaimed in triumph. "There now! Was I right or wasn't I?"

"Shucks! It might stand for anything: Brown, Brooklyn, beans,
brownbread, basketball----"

"Yes, and Brimfield! And aren't the Brimfield colours maroon-and-grey,
and isn't that cap grey, and isn't that B maroon?"

"It's red."

"So is maroon, a brownish-red." Tom had deserted his bed and was turning
the cap about eagerly. "This belongs to some fellow here who has won
his letter, Steve," he said with deep conviction.

"Some fellow who has _lost_ his letter, you mean," replied Steve with a
laugh. "All right; it will save me from buying a cap when I make the
football team. How does it look on me?"

"It's too big," said Tom. "It's about a seven, I guess. That's what that
fellow would wear, I think." Tom frowned thoughtfully. "Are there any
more clues?" he asked, dropping the cap and seizing the pajamas
excitedly.

"Sure! There are brushes in the case and they mean that the fellow has
hair on his head, Tom. So there's no use looking for a bald-headed man,
eh? That's what they call 'the process of elimination,' isn't it? Say,
what are you trying to do with those things? Ruin them? Please remember
that I've got to wear them to-night."

"Looking for laundry marks," replied Tom. "But there aren't any. I guess
they're new ones." He dropped the pajamas regretfully and turned his
attention to the other objects in the bag. "A magazine," he muttered.

"'Fine'!--as Horace would say. The man can read. Therefore he is not
blind. Elimination again! At this rate we'll know all about him in a
minute, Tom. Gee, but you're a wise guy. Have a look at the collar and
tell me the fellow's name. Go on!"

"It begins with an M, anyway," muttered Tom, studying the object in
question.

"Ha!" exclaimed Steve melodramatically. "The net is closing! He has hair
on his head, is not blind, wears purple pajamas and spells his name with
an M! The rest is easy, Tom. Put your hat on and we'll go out and get
him."

"Oh, shut up, you silly goat!" Tom had the magazine in his hands again
and was glancing through it. Suddenly, with an exclamation, he thrust it
into Steve's hands. "There! Hold it up and let it fall open itself,
Steve!"

"All right. What about it?"

"Look where it opened!"

"Page 64."

"Yes, but what's there?"

"'Men Who Have Made Football History, by----'"

"There you are! Don't you see! That's what he was reading. He's a
football man and that B is his football letter!"

"Oh! But, say, Tom, you're forgetting that this suit-case is supposed to
have been stolen from someone else. Then what?"

"We don't know that it was. We just thought so. It looks now as if it
really belonged to the fellow."

"And he went and swapped it for mine? What would he do that for?"

"Maybe he thought yours might have something valuable in it," faltered
Tom. "Maybe--say, Steve, perhaps he got yours by mistake!"

"Sure!" replied the other sarcastically. "Reached down and dragged it
from under your feet, thinking all the while it was his. Sounds very
probable--I don't think!"

"Well, you can see for yourself----"

"What was that?" interrupted Steve.

"What was what?"

"I thought I heard a knock at the door." They listened. It sounded
again. Steve hustled the things back into the bag and slammed the lid
shut in a twinkling. Then, "Come in!" he called.

The door opened and a tall youth stepped inside. He carried a suit-case
in one hand. Tom gasped. It was the "confidence-man"!



CHAPTER VII

THE CONFIDENCE-MAN


"Hi," greeted the visitor, with a smile, as he slid the suit-case across
the floor and faced the two boys. "Want to swap bags?"

"That--that's mine!" exploded Steve. "Where'd you get it?"

The visitor pulled a chair out from the wall and seated himself
nonchalantly. "And that," he responded, nodding at the bag on the bed,
"is mine. I didn't think the pajamas would fit you and I was mighty sure
yours wouldn't fit me. So I dropped around to make an exchange."

"You're the fellow in the station!" exclaimed Tom accusingly.

"Right-o! I'm the 'sneak-thief.'"

"I knew it!" declared Tom triumphantly. "I saw you in the dining-hall
and told Steve it was you and he wouldn't believe it!"

"Wouldn't he?" laughed the visitor.

"I suppose it's some sort of a silly joke," said Steve bewilderedly.
"Would you mind telling me why you--why you took my bag?"

"Glad to, Edwards. You _are_ Edwards, aren't you? I thought so. And this
chap's Hall? Well, my name's Miller. So now we know each other. Would
you mind sitting down, you fellows?"

Steve sank on to the bed and Tom retreated to the unoccupied chair, from
where he viewed Miller with fascinated attention.

"It was this way, you fellows," explained Miller. "I may be a bit
thin-skinned, but I don't like being called a sneak-thief. Edwards here
told you, Hall, to look after your bags because there were sneak-thieves
around. And then he looked at me very impolitely. After he went away I
saw that you really did suspect me of being something of the sort and it
occurred to me that it might be amusing to teach you chaps not to pass
compliments."

"I didn't mean you to hear me," said Steve confusedly.

"I couldn't help it, as you spoke right out," replied Miller drily.
"Well, so when Hall changed his seat I went along and tried to talk to
him. But he was foxy, Hall was. He wasn't going to be fooled! When it
got to be train time I spun him a yarn about a harmless old man across
the room and got him to look at him. Then I changed the bags. I thought
you fellows would take the same train and I meant to give you back your
bag then. But you weren't on it and so I suppose you were looking around
the station for me. Was that it?"

"I didn't get back in time," said Steve. "We didn't find out about the
bags until the train had gone. Then we did look around, and we told a
policeman, and----"

Miller put his head back and laughed delightedly. "Bully!" he cried.
"You chaps are wonders!"

"Well, what would you have done?" asked Tom indignantly. "How were we to
know that it was a joke?"

"Oh, I'd have done the same thing, of course," answered the other
soothingly. "Only the idea of the New York police department being on
the lookout for me struck me as a bit humorous."

"Tom says you asked him about Tannersville," said Steve. "How did you
know he was from there?"

"Not difficult," chuckled Miller. "It's on the end of his bag. And I
knew he was coming to Brimfield because there was a tag on the handle. I
couldn't make out your names, but I could see 'Brimfield, N. Y.' all
right."

Steve and Tom smiled foolishly. "I never thought of that," murmured
Tom. "We--we thought you were a confidence-man!"

"So I thought you thought," laughed Miller. "Well, here's your property,
Edwards. I dare say it was rather a mean joke to play on you, but you
sort of invited it, you see."

"I don't care now that I've got it back," responded Steve
philosophically. "Tom was certain you were the fellow who took my bag
when he saw you in dining-hall and he was all heated up about it. Wanted
to arrest you at once, I guess."

"Well, I was right, though, wasn't I?" demanded Tom. "You said it
couldn't be the same chap. But I _knew_!"

"Yes, you're some sleuth," agreed Steve. "You were right and I was
wrong, as you always are."

"How about that present you were to give me?" inquired Tom.

"You'll get it, all right; just before Christmas." Then, to Miller:
"We--I had your things out of your bag," he said apologetically. "I
thought I'd have to wear those pajamas."

"They'd have been a bit large, I guess," laughed Miller. "Still, they
are brand-clean and you could have wrapped them around you a few times
and turned them up at the feet and hands. Well, how have you chaps
found everything? All right?"

"Yes, thanks," said Steve. "We forgot to check our trunks at the Grand
Central Station, though, and so we're sort of hard-up for things to
wear."

"Too bad." Miller smiled. "I guess you chaps haven't travelled around
much, eh?"

"Not much. This is the first time we've ever been so far east."

"Well, I don't blame you for getting a bit confused in New York. It's a
tough old place to get around in unless you know the ropes. If you need
collars or anything maybe I can help you out. I suppose, though, mine
wouldn't fit."

"We'll get on all right, thanks," replied Steve. "Our trunks will surely
be along in the morning. The man who drove us up here had the agent
telegraph back for them and said he'd fetch them as soon as they came."

"Jimmy Horse? He will if he doesn't forget."

"This fellow said his name was Hoskins, I think," said Tom.

"Yes, we call him Jimmy Horse. He will probably be along with them
before noon. Just depends on whether he remembers them and how busy he
is. Still, not many fellows get here before the eleven o'clock train
and so he ought to find time to bring the trunks. If he doesn't show up
soon after breakfast you'd better telephone to him. The booth's in Main
Hall, around the corner from the office. I suppose you saw old 'Quite
So'?"

"Who?" asked Steve.

"Mr. Brooke, the secretary. We call him 'Quite So' because he's always
saying that. Didn't you notice?"

"I did," said Tom. "I thought maybe he was Mr. Fernald, though."

"No, you won't see Josh much. He lives around the corner there in The
Cottage. You'll be lucky if you don't see him, too. When you call on
Josh it's usually because you've been and gone and done something. He
will be at Faculty Reception to-morrow evening, though. That's in Upper
Hall at eight o'clock. Better go, fellows; everyone does. Have you met
your Hall Master, Mr. Daley?"

"Yes, we stopped in at his room after supper," answered Steve. "Is
he----" He hesitated.

Miller laughed. "Go on and say it, Edwards! Is he what?"

"I was going to ask if he was liked."

"Oh, yes, Daley's all right. Rather shy, but he's young yet. This is
only his second year. You'll like him better when you've known him
awhile. What form are you fellows in?"

"Fourth. At least, we hope we are."

"Oh, you'll make it. They'll put you in, anyway, and then drop you back
if you don't keep up. That's a pleasant little trick of theirs here.
You'll have Daley in French and German. Take my advice and don't have
fun with him just because you can. Most of the new fellows try to make
life a burden to him because he gets kind of rattled and tries to
swallow his tongue when he talks. But they're generally sorry for it
later. He stands about so much and then--bing! Off you go to Josh! And
here's another tip, fellows. Always be dead serious with 'Uncle Sim.'
That's Mr. Simkins, Greek instructor. If you can look as if you'd lost
all your friends and bitten your tongue you'll make a big hit with him.
He doesn't know a joke even when it's labelled and can't stand any
flippancy. I made a pun in class once; I've forgotten what it was, but
it was a bright and scintillant little effort; and Uncle Sim told me I'd
end on the gallows. He's never forgotten that and still views me with
deep suspicion."

"We will try to remember," laughed Steve. "I suppose you are in the
Sixth Form?"

"Yes, this is my last year here. I ought to have been out last year, but
I slipped a cog when I first came and got dropped a form. You see, I
made the mistake of thinking that the principal branches were Football,
Baseball and Hockey. When I'd woke up to the fact that a little
attention to mathematics and languages and such foolishness was required
it was too late, and--plop!--sound of falling!"

Steve recalled a similar warning of his father's and silently made up
his mind then and there to not make Miller's mistake.

"Do you play football?" asked Tom. "I mean, are you on the team?"

"Yes, I--I'm on the team." Miller's smile had an odd quality that
puzzled Tom at the moment. "You chaps know the game?"

"Steve has played more than I have," replied Tom. "He was on our high
school team at left end last year. He's pretty good, Steve is. I didn't
make the 'Varsity, but I played a couple of years with the scrubs."

"Tom plays a good game," said Steve. "I suppose it's pretty hard to get
on the team here."

"About the same as anywhere," answered Miller. "If you show the goods
you're all right." He viewed Steve speculatively and then turned an
appraising gaze on Tom. "You chaps look pretty fit for this time of
year. What do you weigh, Edwards?"

[Illustration: Steve slipped on the tiling and fell sidewise into the
water]

"About a hundred and thirty-eight."

"You look solid, too," said Miller approvingly. "You chaps show up in
togs day after to-morrow at four. Look me up and I'll see that you get a
good chance to show what you can do. Where have you played, Hall?"

"At tackle, mostly. I played half a little last fall."

"You look rather likely, I think. Don't be disappointed if you don't
make the first or second this year, fellows. Keep going. There's your
hall team. Try for that. You'll get lots of good fun and experience. I
tell you this not to discourage you but because we've kept a lot of last
year's fellows and it's going to be harder than usual to break into the
first team, I guess. And that means that a good many of the second team
fellows will be disappointed and will have to stay where they are. Hard
on them, but lucky for the school. I don't know whether you chaps
understand the football situation with us?"

"I don't believe so," replied Steve.

"Well, it's like this. When I came here four years ago there wasn't any
team. Before that, five or six years before, they'd played, but about
that time football got into disfavour and the faculty stopped it. I
believe they allowed the hall teams to play, but that didn't last long.
My second year here they lifted the ban and we started a team. Of course
it didn't amount to much that first year and we got licked right and
left. The next year, though, we did a good deal better, and last year we
turned out a mighty good team. We lost only two games out of nine and
tied one. Unfortunately, though, one of the games we lost was the game
with Claflin, which is our big game of the year. Claflin has beaten us
three years running now and this year we're out for revenge with a
rolling R. Considering that we've played only three seasons, we've got a
pretty good start. Our coach is a dandy, a chap named Robey; played with
Brown the year they downed Pennsy; and he's been building up this year's
team ever since he started in. At first we didn't have more than forty
candidates to choose from. Last year about sixty fellows turned out and
this fall I guess we'll have nearer eighty. Robey started the hall teams
up again year before last and that helped a lot. The best of the hall
team chaps went into the second last year, and now, this year, we've got
fellows with three years' experience behind them. So, you see, Edwards,
we haven't got much football history at Brimfield and our system is
still pretty new, but we're getting on! And this fall if we don't lick
Claflin--well, if we don't, I'll have missed my guess."

Miller's lean, good-looking face had lighted up with enthusiasm during
his recital, and, when he had ended, as though impatient to begin the
campaign which was to end in the rout of the enemy, he got up and took a
turn the length of the room. He didn't look the least bit in the world
like a confidence-man to-night and the two boys marvelled at their
earlier suspicions. Miller was tall, lean with the leanness of muscles
unhampered by useless flesh, and lithe. He had very clear brown eyes, a
straight nose and high cheek bones that somehow reminded Steve of the
engraved portrait of John C. Calhoun that hung in the library at home.
Altogether, from the top of his well-shaped head to the soles of his
rubber-shod feet, he was good to look at, clean-cut, well-groomed,
healthy and very much alive. Steve found himself wishing that some day
he might find himself playing shoulder to shoulder with Miller. He hated
to think what would happen to the enemy in such a case!

Miller paused at the table, thrust his hands into his pockets and
smiled a trifle apologetically. "Well, that's the way it is, you chaps,"
he went on. "So, whether you make the first or the second or neither,
you keep on playing and trying. There's another year coming for you
fellows; two of them, in fact. Keep that in mind, and if you don't get
what you want this year keep plugging. And don't fail to come out
Wednesday and do your best. You'll get a fair show and if you can play
the game well enough you'll get places. Now I must run along with my
bag. I'm glad to have met you chaps. If I can help you in any way don't
fail to call on me. You'll find me in 7 Hensey. Come and see me anyway.
Miller's the name. And, by the way, I'm glad you chaps took my little
joke so decently and didn't get waxy about it. If you had, I'd probably
have told it around and you'd have got a lot of joshing. As it is, no
one knows it and no one will. Good-night."

And Miller, his suit-case in hand, smiled, nodded and went out. They
could hear him whistling merrily until the landing door had closed
behind him.

"I meant to ask him what position he played," said Steve regretfully.
"I'll bet he's a corker, though!"

"I'll bet you he is," agreed Tom warmly.

"And he seemed a rattling good sort, too, didn't he?"

"Yes. And I'm glad I lost my bag. If I hadn't we mightn't have known
him, seeing that he's a Sixth Form fellow."

"I guess he's sort of prominent," mused Tom. "He gives you the idea of
being someone, doesn't he?"

"Oh, he's someone, all right! Do you think he really wants us to call on
him, Tom? Or--or was he just being polite?"

"Both, I guess. I don't suppose we'd better call unless he asks us
again. We don't want to act fresh, you know. Besides," and Tom smiled
mischievously, "I'm not sure we ought to associate with him."

"Why not?" asked Steve incredulously.

"Well, seeing that he's a confidence-man----"



CHAPTER VIII

IN THE RUBBING ROOM


After breakfast the next morning, a breakfast eaten with excellent
appetites, the two boys set out on a sightseeing tour about the school.
They went first to the gymnasium. The big front door was locked, but
Steve was not to be denied and eventually gained entrance through a
little door at the rear which led into the boiler-room and from there
found their way into the main basement where were situated the big
swimming tank, a commodious baseball cage and a bowling alley. On the
floor above they found themselves in a square hall, entered from the
front door, from which other doors led to the gymnasium, the locker and
bathrooms and a small office bearing the sign "Physical Director." From
the hall a fireproof stairway ascended with a turn to the running-track
and a large room which was evidently used as a meeting hall. Settees
were neatly arranged in front of a platform, a row of low windows
admitted a flood of morning sunshine and against the walls hung many
photographs of athletic teams. Most of them showed groups of track and
field men, although a few were of hockey sevens and there were three
football teams in evidence. The explorers paid more attention to these
photographs than the others, and Steve, whose patriotism was already
strong, read the inscriptions on the lower margins with disfavour.

"Huh!" he grumbled. "'Brimfield 0; Claflin 12'; 'Brimfield 3; Claflin
11'; 'Brimfield 6; Claflin 9.' Bet you next time it'll be some
different, Tom!"

"Rather!" said Tom stoutly. "Let's go on down and see the gym."

They tried the chest-weights and tested the bars and experimented with
about everything they found down there, and then went into the adjoining
compartment and peered into the shower-baths and passed on the merits of
the steel lockers.

"The fellow who built this gym knew what he was doing," declared Steve
approvingly. "Some of these lockers have got things in them," he
continued, peeping into one. "There's a bat in here, and a towel and
some clothes."

Tom had wandered through a doorway at the end of the locker compartment
and now summoned Steve to join him. There was a high table in the centre
of the small room and a set of metal shelves alongside which held
numerous bottles and boxes. "It's the rubbing room," said Steve. "Here,
get busy, Tom!" And he hoisted himself to the table and stretched out on
his back.

"Yes, sir," said Tom. "Where's it hurt you? This the spot?"

And Tom began such an enthusiastic manipulation of Steve's ribs that the
latter set up a howl and precipitately tumbled off the table. It was at
that moment that an unpleasant voice startled them.

"Beat it, you fresh kids! You've got no business in here!"

The speaker was a heavy-set youth of perhaps nineteen years of age. He
had closely-cropped ashy-brown hair over a round face from which a pair
of pale-blue eyes glowered upon them. He was standing in the doorway and
his hands were thrust into the pockets of a pair of very wide-hipped
knickerbockers. Somehow, standing there with his sturdy, golf-stockinged
legs well apart and his loose trousers pulled out at the sides, he
reminded Tom of a clown at a circus, and Tom made the mistake of
grinning. The big youth caught sight of the grin and stepped into the
rubbing room with a deepening scowl on his face.

"Wipe it off!" he said threateningly.

Steve and Tom looked at the table.

"Wipe what off?" asked Tom, at a loss.

"Wipe that grin off your ugly face," answered the other. "And get out of
here, both of you, and stay out. If you don't, I'll throw you out!"

This somewhat astounding threat caused an exchange of surprised glances
between the culprits. Neither Steve nor Tom were quarrelsome, nor had
they had more than a boy's usual share of fist battles, but the bullying
speech and attitude of the round-faced youth was so uncalled for and
exasperating that Steve's temper got the better of him for the moment.

"We weren't doing any harm here," he declared indignantly. "And we'll
get out, but we're not afraid of you, even if you have got piano legs!"

The big fellow pulled his hands from his pockets with an angry growl
and, clenching his fists, strode toward the boys. But at that instant
footsteps sounded in the locker room, and the bully's hands dropped and
he turned his head toward the door just as a small, red-haired and
freckle-faced little Irishman came into sight.

"Hello, Eric the Red," he said jovially. "An' what might you be doin'
down here, me boy?"

"I'm telling these fresh kids to get out of here," replied the youth.
"Any objections?"

The little Irishman seemed surprised, and he smiled, but the boys noted
that his small and rather greenish eyes narrowed.

"None at all, at all, me boy. If I had I'd very soon tell you, d'ye see?
But what harm are they doin'? Sure, if I don't mind them bein' here, why
would you?"

"They haven't any business in this room, and you know it, Danny. They're
too fresh, anyway."

"Well, that's what we all are at some time. Let the boys be. Was you
wantin' anything, boys?"

"No, we were just looking around the place. This door was open and we
came in. We didn't know there was any harm in it," concluded Steve.

"No more there was," said Danny soothingly.

"They were rough-housing all over the place," growled the big fellow.
"If you can stand it I can, though. Only"--and he turned a wrathful gaze
on Steve--"if you ever get fresh with me again you'll get the licking
that's coming to you, kid." He turned away toward the locker room. "Say,
Danny, got a key to my locker? I've lost mine and I want to get into it
a minute."

"I have not," replied Danny cheerfully. "You'll have to have one fitted,
me boy."

"Hasn't anyone a master-key?" demanded the other.

"They have not. Find Patsy; he'll fit one for you in ten minutes."

"That's a funny state of things," grumbled the big fellow. "They ought
to have duplicates on hand. Somebody's always losing a key, and----"

The rest was lost as the youth disappeared into the further room. Danny
winked gravely at the two boys.

"Who is he?" asked Steve curiously.

"Him? His name's Sawyer, Eric Sawyer. He is sufferin' from a terrible
complaint, boys, an' it makes him that cross a bear would run away from
him, I'm thinkin'!"

"What's the trouble with him?"

"He has what the doctors do be callin' an ingrowin' grouch," replied
Danny soberly. "'Tis due to over-exposure of the ego, they tell me,
resultin' in an inflamed condition of the amoor proper, that same bein'
French an' maybe beyond your comprehension."

The boys laughed and Danny swung himself to the table and patted it
invitingly. "Sit down, boys, an' tell me all about it," he said. "Who
may you be, now?"

"His name is Hall and mine is Edwards," replied Steve, as he and Tom
followed Danny's example and swung their feet from the table. "We're new
boys."

"I suspected as much," replied Danny drily. "An' where might be your
place of residence?"

"Tannersville, Pennsylvania."

"Think o' that now!" marvelled Danny. "Sure, you're a long ways from
home. Is this place you say anywhere near Philadelphia?"

"Oh, no, it's a long ways from there. It's out in the western part of
the state."

"I was in Philadelphia once to see the games at the college over there,"
pursued Danny. "It's a fine town."

"Would you mind--telling us who you are?" asked Tom.

"I would not. I have no unseemly pride. My name is Mister Daniel Parnell
Moore, and I have the extraordinary honour of bein' the trainer at this
institution o' learnin' and Fine Arts, the Fine Arts bein' athletics,
football, baseball, hockey _an'_ tinnis. An' now you know!"

"Thank you," said Tom politely. "I hope you didn't mind my asking you."

"Not a bit! You may ask me anything you like, Jim."

"My name isn't Jim," replied Tom, with a smile.

"It ain't?" The trainer seemed surprised. "Sure, he said your last name
was Hall, didn't he? An' I never seen a Hall whose front name wasn't
Jim."

"I'm sorry," laughed Tom, "but mine isn't; it's Tom."

Danny Moore shook his head sadly. "An' you," he said, turning to Steve,
"maybe you'll be tellin' me next your name ain't Sam?"

"It's Steve."

"It might be," agreed Danny doubtfully. "But all the Edwardses I ever
knew was Sams. But I'm not disputin' your word, d'ye mind! 'Tis likely
you know, me boy. An' what do you think o' this rural paradise o'
knowledge?"

"I guess we like it pretty well, what we've seen of it," answered Steve.
"Have you been here long?"

"Two years; this is my third. It's a nice schools, as schools go. I
never had much use for them, though. In the Old Country we never held
with them much when I was a lad. I dare say you boys'll be tryin' to
play football like all the rest of them?"

"We're going out for the team," said Steve, "although I guess, from what
a fellow told us last night, we don't stand much show. He said that most
of the last year's players were back this fall."

"That's so. We lost but four by graduation. They were some o' the best
in the bunch, though. 'Tis queer how the ones that is gone is always the
best, ain't it? Who was this feller you was talkin' to?"

"His name is Miller. Do you know him? I suppose you must, though."

"Miller? Do you mean Andy Miller?"

"I don't know. He didn't tell us his other name."

"The initials were A. L. M., though," reminded Tom.

"That's right. Is he a pretty good player?"

"He does fairly well," answered Danny Moore carelessly. "Not that I pay
much heed to him, though. I see him around sometimes. I wouldn't think
much of what he tells you, though. I don't. If you see him I'd be
obliged if you'd tell him that."

But there was a twinkle in Danny's eye and Steve resolved to tell Miller
no such thing. "What position does he play?" he asked.

Danny frowned thoughtfully. "It might be end, right or left. I forget. I
pay no heed to the likes o' him. He's only the captain, d'ye see?"

"Captain!" exclaimed the two boys startledly, eyeing each other in
amazement.

"Sure," said Danny. "An' why not?"

"Er--there's no reason," replied Steve, "only--he didn't say anything
about being captain."

"And why would he be after incriminating himself?" Danny demanded.

The boys digested this news in silence for a moment. Then,

"Does that fellow who was just in here play?" asked Tom.

"He does. He plays right guard, and he plays it well. I'll say that for
him. Well, it's catchin' no fish I am sittin' here gassin' with you
fellers. Make yourselves to home. I must be gettin' on."

"I guess we'll go, too," said Steve.

They followed the trainer up the stairway to the hall above. There he
pulled a bunch of keys from his pocket and unlocked the big front door
for them. "Now, look at that, will you?" he exclaimed in amazement as he
turned a small key over between his fingers. "I wouldn't be surprised if
that key would fit them lockers down there. Ain't that a pity, an' him
wantin' it all the time?"

The boys smiled and agreed gravely that it was. Danny sighed, shook his
head and dropped the keys back into his pocket. "If you have trouble
with him," he said to Steve, "hit for his head, boy, for you'll make no
impression on the body of him."

"Thanks, but I don't expect he will bother me again."

"I know. I'm only tellin' you. A word to the wise, d'ye mind? Good luck
to you, boys."

"Thanks. We're much obliged to you, Mr. Moore."

"Mr. Moore! Help! Listen." And Danny bent confidentially. "I won't be
mindin' if you call me Mister Moore when we're by ourselves, d'ye see;
but don't be doin' it in the presence of others. Them as didn't know
might think I was one of the faculty, d'ye see. Call me Danny an' save
me self-respect!"

When the door had closed behind them on the grinning countenance of
Danny, Steve looked at his watch and exclaimed startledly.

"Nearly ten o'clock!" he said. "And we promised to telegraph to the
folks this morning. Let's see if the trunks have come and then hustle to
the telegraph office."



CHAPTER IX

BACK IN TOGS


Brimfield Academy was in full swing. The term was a day old and one
hundred and fifty-three youths of various ages from twelve to twenty had
settled down, more or less earnestly, to the school routine. In 12
Billings trunks had been unpacked and the room had taken on a look of
comfort and coziness, although several things were yet lacking to
complete its livableness. For instance, an easy-chair of some sort was a
crying necessity, a drop-light would help a lot, and a cushion and some
pillows on the window-seat were much needed. Tom argued that if the
window-seat was furnished they would not require an easy-chair, but
Steve held out for the added luxury.

Both boys, Steve by a narrower margin than he suspected, had made the
Fourth Form, and this afternoon, as they expeditiously changed into
football togs, their glances more than once stole to the imposing piles
of books on the study table, books which hinted at many future hours of
hard work. Steve, pulling on a pair of much worn and discoloured canvas
trousers, sighed as his eye measured again the discouraging height of
his pile. It was almost enough to spoil in advance the pleasure he
looked forward to on the gridiron!

The athletic field lay behind the school buildings and was a fine level
expanse of green turf some twelve acres in extent. There were three
gridirons, a baseball diamond, a quarter-mile running-track and a round
dozen of tennis courts there. A well-built iron-framed stand, erected in
sections, and mounted on small wide-tread wheels could be moved about as
occasion required, and at present was standing in the middle of the
south side of the football field. On the whole Brimfield had reason to
be proud of her athletic equipment, field and gymnasium, as well as of
her other advantages.

The scene along the Row as the two friends clattered out of Billings was
vastly different from that presented the afternoon of their arrival. Now
the walk was alive with boys, heads protruded from open casements and
wandering couples could be seen lounging along the gate drive or over
the sloping lawn that descended to the road. First practice had been
called for four o'clock and the big dial in the ivy-draped tower of Main
Hall pointed its hands to three-forty when Steve and Tom turned into
the path between Torrence and Wendell leading to the gymnasium and the
field beyond. Already, however, the fellows were turning their steps
that way, some in playing togs but more in ordinary attire, the latter,
yielding to the lure of a warm September afternoon, bent on finding an
hour's entertainment stretched comfortably at ease along a side line or
perched on the stand.

"That's pretty, isn't it?" asked Tom, as they looked across the nearer
turf to where the broad expanse of playing ground, bordered on its
further side by a wooded slope, stretched before them. The early frosts
had already slightly touched the trees over there, and hints of
russet-yellow and brick-red showed amongst the green. Nearer than that,
more colour was supplied by an occasional dark red sweater amongst the
groups loitering about the edge of the gridiron.

"It surely is pretty," agreed Steve. "I wonder if Miller's there yet. He
told us to look him up, you know."

"Maybe he will give us a send-off to the coach," suggested Tom. "He
could, you know, since he is captain. I guess it won't do us any
harm--me, anyway--to have someone speak a word for us, eh?"

"Wonder what the coach is like," said Steve, nodding agreement. "Miller
seemed to think he was pretty good. That's a dandy turf there, Tom;
level as a table. They haven't marked the gridiron out yet, though."

"I suppose they don't need it for a day or two," replied the other,
trying not to feel self-conscious as he neared the crowd already on
hand. "I don't see Miller, do you?"

Steve shook his head, after a glance about him, and, rolling his hands
in the folds of his sweater, not because the weather was cold but
because that was a habit of his, seated himself at the bottom of the
stand. Tom followed him and they looked about them and conversed in low
voices while the throng grew with every minute. So far neither had made
any acquaintances save that of Andy Miller--unless Eric Sawyer could be
called such!--and they felt a little bit out of it as they saw other
boys joyously hailing each other, stopping to shake hands or exchange
affectionate blows, or waving greetings from a distance. They had made
the discovery, by the way, that the proper word of salutation at
Brimfield was "Hi"! It was invariably "Hi, Billy"! "Hi, Joe"! and the
usual "Hello" was never heard. Eventually Steve and Tom became properly
addicted to the "Hi"! habit, but it was some time before they were able
to keep from showing their newness by "Helloing" each other.

The stand became sprinkled with youths and the turf along the edge of
the gridiron held many more. A man of apparently thirty years of age,
wearing a grey Norfolk suit and a cap to match, appeared at the corner
of the stand just as the bell in Main Hall struck four sonorous peals.
He was accompanied by three boys in togs, one of them Captain Miller.
The coach was a clean-cut chap with a nice face and a medium-sized, wiry
figure. He had sandy hair and eyebrows that were almost white, and his
sharp blue eyes sparkled from a deeply tanned face upon which, at the
moment, a very pleasant smile played. But even as Steve and Tom watched
him the smile died abruptly and he pulled a black leather memorandum
book from a pocket and fluttered its leaves in a businesslike way.

Miller had predicted that this fall some eighty candidates would appear,
but he had evidently been over-sanguine. Sixty seemed nearer the correct
number than eighty. But even sixty-odd looked a good many as they
gradually gathered nearer the coach. Steve and Tom slipped from their
places and joined the throng.

"Last year's first and second team players take the east end of the
field," directed Mr. Robey. "All others remain here. I'm going to tell
you right now, fellows, that there's going to be a whole lot of hard
work this fall, and any of you who don't like hard work had better keep
away. This is a good time to quit. You'll save your time and mine too.
All right now! Take some balls with you, Milton, and warm up until I get
down there. Now, then, you new men, give me your names. Where's
Lawrence? Not here yet? All right. What's your name and what experience
have you had, my boy?"

One by one the candidates answered the coach's questions and then
trotted into the field where Eric Sawyer was in command. Andy Miller and
Danny Moore stood at the coach's elbow during this ceremony, and when,
toward the last, Steve and Tom edged up, they were greeted by both.

"Here's the fine lad," said Danny, who caught sight of Steve before
Miller did. "Mr. Sam Edwards, Coach, a particular friend of mine."

Steve, rather embarrassed, started to say that his name was not Sam, but
Miller interrupted him.

"So here you are, Edwards? Glad to see you again. I've been looking for
you and Hall to drop in on me. How are you, Hall? Robey, these two have
had some experience on their high school team and I think they'll bear
watching. Shake hands with Mr. Robey, Edwards."

"Glad to know you," said the coach. "What's your position, Edwards?"

"I've been playing end, sir."

"End, eh? You look fast, too. We'll see what you can do, my boy. And
you,--er----"

"Jim Hall," supplied Danny. "Another close friend o' me boyhood, sir,
an' a fine lad, too, be-dad!"

"Tackle, sir, mostly," replied Tom.

"It's a relief to find a couple who aren't bent on being backs," said
the coach with a smile to Miller. "All right, fellows. We'll give you
all the chance in the world. Report to Sawyer now."

Steve and Tom, with the parting benediction of a portentious wink from
Danny Moore, joined the thirty-odd candidates of many ages and sizes
who, formed in two rings, were passing footballs under the stern and
frowning regard of Eric Sawyer. They edged their way into one of the
circles and were soon earnestly catching and tossing with the rest. If
Sawyer recognised them as the boys who had aroused his ire in the
rubbing room the day before, he showed no sign of it. It is probable,
though, that their football attire served as a sufficient disguise.
Sawyer apparently took his temporary position as assistant coach very
seriously and bore himself with frowning dignity. But it was not at all
beneath his dignity to call erring candidates to order or to indulge in
a good deal of heavy satire at the expense of those whose inexperience
made them awkward. Neither Steve nor Tom, however, fell under the ban of
his displeasure.

Falling on the ball followed the passing, and, in turn, gave place to
starting and sprinting. For this they were formed in line and Sawyer,
leaning over a ball at one end of the line, snapped it away as a signal
for them to leap forward. By that time the warmth of the day and the
exertion had tuckered a good many of them out and Sawyer found much
fault with the performances.

"Oh, get moving, you chap in the black shirt there! Watch the ball and
dig when I snap it! That's it! Go it! _Hard!_ All right for you, but
about a dozen of you other chaps got left entirely. Now get down there
and throw your weight forward. Haven't any of you ever practised starts
before? Anyone would think your feet were glued down! Get in line again.
Ready now! Go, you flock of ice-wagons!"

Fortunately for the softer members of the awkward squad, practice was
soon over to-day, and Steve and Tom somewhat wearily tramped back with
the rest across to the gymnasium, determined to have the luxury of a
shower-bath even if they would have to get back into their togs again
after it.

"We'd better see about getting lockers," said Steve. "I wonder where you
go."

"They cost a dollar a year," answered Tom, who knew the contents of the
school catalogue by heart, "and if we don't make the team we won't need
the lockers."

"Sure we will. If we use the swimming pool we'll need a place to keep
our clothes. And even if we don't make the big teams we'll play with the
Hall, probably. Wish we had them now and didn't have to go back to the
room to change. I'm tired, if you care to know it!"

"So am I," panted Tom. "Sawyer worked us hard for a warm day."

"Yes, and did you notice that fat fellow? There he is ahead there, with
the striped stockings. He was just about all in and puffing like a
locomotive."

"He was probably tender," said Tom.

"Yes, he--Tender! That'll do for you!" said Steve indignantly, aiming a
blow at Tom's ribs which was skilfully evaded. "Let's stop at the
office in here and see if we can get lockers."

They could. Moreover, Mr. Conklin, the physical director, informed them,
to their deep satisfaction, that the charge of one dollar each would be
placed on their term bill if they wished. They wished with instant
enthusiasm and departed, keys in hand, to find their lockers. They found
the room thronged with fellows in various stages of undressing, while
from the baths came deep groans and shrill shrieks and the hiss and
splash of water. Their lockers were side by side at the farther end of
the last aisle; and, after making certain that the keys fitted them,
they began to get out of their clothes, only to make the discovery when
partly disrobed that they had no towels.

"I'm going to ask someone to lend me one," said Steve. "You can use an
end of it if I get it. I'm going to have that shower or bust."

A cheerful-faced youth draped in a frayed bathrobe came up at that
moment and Steve sought counsel of him.

"Towel? I'd lend you one in a minute, but mine are all soiled. You can
see for yourself." He nodded toward the open door of his locker on the
floor of which lay a pile of what were evidently bath towels. "I forgot
to send them to the wash before I went away in the spring. If you ask
Danny he might let you have one. I guess he's around somewhere."

Steve found the trainer leaning against the doorway of the rubbing room.
"'Tis Sam Edwards!" greeted Danny. "An' how did it go to-day, me boy?"

"Pretty good, thanks. Could you lend me a couple of towels,
Mister--er--Danny?"

"I doubt have I got any, but I'll look an' see," and Danny disappeared
into the room behind him.

"Here you are, Sam," he said in a moment. "They're small but select.
Fetch 'em back when you're through with 'em, if you please. They're
school property, d'ye mind, and it's me that's answerable for them."

Steve promised faithfully to restore them and bore them back in triumph
to where Tom had paused in his undressing to await the result of the
errand. A minute later they were puffing and blowing in adjoining baths,
with the icy-cold water raining down on their glowing bodies. A brisk
drying with the borrowed towels, a return to their uninviting togs and
they were ready to be off. Steve couldn't find Danny, but he left the
towels on the table in the rubbing room and he and Tom climbed the
stairs again. In the hall above there was a large notice board and Tom
stopped to glance at some of the announcements pinned against it.

"Here a minute, Steve," he said. "Look at this." He laid a finger on a
square of paper which bore in almost illegible writing this remarkable
notice: "What Will You Give? Dirt Cheap! Terms Cash! One fine oak Morris
chair, good as new. Three cushions, very pretty. One pair of skates.
Eight phonograph records. Large assortment of bric-a-brac. Any fair
offer takes them! Call early and avoid disappointment. Durkin, 13
Torrence."

"Is it a joke?" asked Steve doubtfully.

"No, there are lots of them, see." Sure enough, the board held fully a
dozen similar announcements, although the others were not couched in
such breezy language. There were chairs, cushions, tables, pictures,
golf clubs, rugs and all sorts of things advertised for sale, while one
chap sought a purchaser for "a stuffed white owl, mounted on a branch,
slightly moth-eaten. Cash or exchange for books."

Steve laughed. "What do you know about that?" he asked. "Say, why don't
we look at some of the things, Tom? Maybe we could save money. Let's
call on Mr. Durkin and look at his Morris chair, eh?"

"All right. Come ahead. Anything else we want?"

"I don't suppose we could pick up a cushion that would fit our
window-seat, but we might. I'll write down some of the names and rooms."

"We might buy the white owl, Steve. Ever think you'd like a white owl?"

"Not with moths in it, thanks," replied Steve. There was pen and ink on
the ledge outside the window of the physical director's office and Steve
secured paper by tearing a corner from one of the notices. When he had
scribbled down the addresses that sounded promising they set off for
Torrence Hall. Number 13 was on the second floor, and as they drew near
it their ears were afflicted by most dismal sounds.

"Wha-what's that?" asked Tom in alarm.

"Fiddle," laughed Steve. "Wonder if it's Mr. Durkin."

The wailing sounds ceased as Steve knocked and a voice called "Come in!"
When they entered they saw a tall, lank youth standing in front of a
music-rack close to the window. He held a violin to his chin and waved
his bow in greeting.

"Hi!" he said. "Sit down and I'll be right with you. I've got one bit
here that's been bothering me for an hour." He turned back to his music,
waved his bow in the air, laid it across the strings and drew forth
sounds that made the visitors squirm in the chairs they had taken. One
excruciating wail after another came from the tortured instrument, the
lank youth bending absorbedly over the notes in the failing light and
apparently quite oblivious to the presence of the others. Finally, with
a sigh of satisfaction, he laid his bow on the ledge of the stand, stood
his violin in a corner of the window-seat and turned to the visitors.

He was an odd-looking chap, tall and thin, with a long, lean face under
a mop of black hair that was badly in need of trimming. His near-sighted
eyes blinked from behind the round lenses of a pair of rubber-rimmed
spectacles and his rather nondescript clothes seemed on the point of
falling off of him.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said politely, "but it's getting dark
and I did want to get that thing before I quit. Want to buy something?"



CHAPTER X

"CHEAP FOR CASH"


"Yes, we saw that you had a Morris chair," replied Steve. He glanced
perplexedly around the room. There was no Morris chair in sight, nor
were any of the other articles advertised to be seen. "That is, if
you're Durkin."

"That's me. The chair is downstairs in the storeroom. It's a corking
chair, all right, and you're sure to want it. I'm sorry, though, you
didn't get around before it got so dark, because the light down there
isn't very good."

"Well, we could come again in the morning," said Steve. "There's no
hurry."

"I think you'd better see it now," said Durkin with decision. "It is a
bargain and if you waited someone might get ahead of you. We'll go
down."

"Er--well, how much is it?"

"All cash?"

"Why, yes, I suppose so."

"It makes a difference. Sometimes fellows want to pay part cash and part
promise, and sometimes they want to trade. If you pay cash you get it
cheaper, of course."

"All right. How much for it?"

Durkin looked the customers over appraisingly. "Let's have a look at it
before we talk about the price," he said. "If I said five dollars now,
when you haven't seen it, you might think I was asking too much."

"I surely would," replied Steve firmly. "If that's what you want for it
I guess there's no use going down to see it."

"I didn't say that was the price," answered Durkin. "I'll make the price
all right. You fellows come and see it." And he led the way out into the
corridor. Steve glanced questioningly at Tom, and Tom smiled and
shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, all right," said Steve. "Let's see it."

Durkin led the way to the lower hall and then down a pair of dark and
very steep stairs to the basement. "You wait there," he instructed,
"until I switch the light on. Now then, this way."

Durkin took a key from a nail and unlocked the door of a room
partitioned off in a corner of the basement. The boys waited, and
Durkin, having disappeared into the gloom of the storeroom, presently
reappeared, dragging after him a very dusty brown-oak chair with a slat
back, broad arms and a much-worn leather seat.

"There you are," he said triumphantly, pushing the object into the faint
gleam of light which reached them from the foot of the stairs. "There's
a chair that'll last for years."

"But you said it was a Morris chair," exclaimed Tom. "That's no Morris
chair!"

"Oh, yes, it is," Durkin assured them earnestly. "I bought it from him
myself last June."

"Bought it from whom?" asked Steve derisively.

"From Spencer Morris, of course. Paid a lot for it, too. Have a look at
it. It's just as good as it ever was. The leather's a little bit worn at
the edges, but you can fix that all right. It wouldn't cost more than
half a dollar, I suppose, to put a new piece on there."

"Look here," said Steve disgustedly, "you're a fakir! What do you
suppose we want with a relic like that? You said you had a Morris chair
and now you pull this thing out to show us. Is that all you've got?"

"Oh, no, I've got a lot of good things in there," answered Durkin
cheerfully, peering into the gloomy recesses of the storeroom. "How
about some pictures, or a pair of fine vases, or----"

"Have you another arm-chair?" asked Steve impatiently.

"No, this is the only one. I've got some dandy cushions, though, for a
window-seat. Let me show you those." And Durkin was back again before
Steve could stop him. Tom was grinning when Steve turned an indignant
look upon him.

"Morris chair!" growled Steve. "Silly chump!"

"Here you are!" Durkin came proudly forth, heralded by a cloud of
pungent dust, and tossed three cushions into the chair. "Look at those
for bargains, will you? Fifty cents apiece and dirt cheap."

"We don't want cushions," growled Steve disgustedly. But Tom was
examining them and presently he looked across at his chum. "We might buy
these, Steve. They're not so bad."

Steve grudgingly looked them over. Finally, "We'll give you twenty-five
cents apiece for them," he said.

"Twenty-five! Why, they're worth a dollar!"

"All right, you keep them."

Durkin hesitated and sighed. Finally, as the boys showed a strong
inclination to seek the stairway, "Give me a dollar for the lot," he
said. Steve questioned Tom with his eyes and Tom nodded.

"All right," said Tom, "but it's more than they're worth."

"You'd have to pay a dollar and a half if you bought them new," said
Durkin. "Honest! Now, about that chair----"

"Nothing doing!" interrupted Steve decisively.

"It's a good chair, and comfortable--say, sit down and just try it, will
you?" Durkin removed the cushions and Steve, with a shrug, seated
himself. When he got out Tom took his place. It _was_ comfortable.

"How much?" asked Steve carelessly.

"Three-fifty, and dirt----"

"Give you a dollar and a half."

Durkin looked so pained that Tom quite pitied him. But he only said
patiently: "You don't want to buy, you fellows; you're looking for
gifts. That chair at three dollars is a real, genuine bargain, and----"

"You said three and a half before," Tom corrected.

"Did I? Well, it ought to be three and a half, but you may have it for
three, even if I lose money on it."

"No fear," grunted Steve. "We'll split the difference and call it two."

"Make it two-fifty and it's yours."

"Couldn't do it. Two or nothing."

"All right," said Durkin placidly. "Take it along. Now let me show
you----"

"No, sir!" laughed Steve. "You don't show us another thing, Durkin. Pile
the cushions on here, Tom, and take hold."

"Wait till I lock this door and I'll give you a lift," said Durkin.

Between them they got the chair upstairs and outdoors. Then Steve paid
three dollars to Durkin and the transaction was completed.

"Thank you," said Durkin. "And, say, if you want anything else, you come
and see me. I've got a lot of good stuff down there. And if you want to
sell anything any time I'm your man. I'll pay you good prices, fellows.
So long."

The two boys felt rather conscious as they carried the chair along the
Row, but although they passed a good many fellows on the way, no one
viewed their performance with more than mild interest. As they were
about to lift their burden through the entrance of Billings, however,
the door opened from inside and a tall boy with a 'varsity football cap
on the back of his head almost ran into them. Drawing aside to avoid
them, his eyes fell on the chair and he stopped short.

"Back again!" he exclaimed delightedly. "Good old article. Where'd you
find it, fellows?"

"Bought it from a fellow named Durkin, in Torrence," replied Steve.

"So 'Penny' had it?" The chap lifted the cushions heaped on the seat of
the chair and viewed it interestedly. "Well, you got a chair with a
history," he said. "That belonged to me three years ago. I bought it
from a fellow named Lansing, and he got it second-hand from a shop in
White Plains. I sold it to Spencer Morris and I suppose Penny got it
from him. And the old article looks 'most as good as new! Do you mind
telling me how much you paid for it?"

"Two dollars," said Steve. "He wanted three at first."

The tall chap laughed. "Two dollars! What do you know about that? I paid
a dollar and a half for it and sold it to Morris for a dollar. I'll bet
Penny didn't give Spencer more than fifty cents for it. He's a wonder,
he is! Those cushions aren't bad. I'll give you a half for the red one."

"We don't want to sell, thanks," said Steve.

"Well, if you do, let me know. I'm in 4. My name's Fowler." And he
nodded and went on. Up in their room, when they had set the arm-chair
down and placed it to their liking, Steve said:

"Think of that long-haired idiot getting two dollars out of us for this
thing. I've a good mind to go back and tell him what I think of him."

"What's the difference?" asked Tom. "It's a perfectly good chair, and if
we hadn't met that Fowler chap we'd never known we'd been stung. It's
worth two dollars, anyway, no matter what Durkin paid for it."

"I suppose it is," granted Steve. "And it _is_ comfortable. Look here;
we'll have to have another one now, or we'll be scrapping to see who
gets this!"

"Not if we can find a cushion for the window-seat," said Tom. "We might
see some more of those fellows you have on your list."

"To-morrow," said Steve. "It's almost supper time. I guess we didn't do
so badly for three dollars. Wasn't it funny, though, we should have run
into a fellow who used to own it? Wonder who Fowler is."

"I saw him at the field this afternoon," replied Tom. "I guess he's on
the first team. We could have made sixteen cents if we'd sold him the
cushion he wanted."

"You're as bad as Durkin!" laughed Steve. "Wonder why he called him
'Penny,' by the way. The fellow had a regular second-hand shop down
there, didn't he? Do you suppose all that truck in there belonged to
him?"

"I don't know. I know one thing, though, and that is that I'm mighty
glad I don't room with Durkin and have to listen to that fiddling of
his!"

"That's not much worse than your snoring," replied Steve unkindly.

The next day further search revealed a cushion which just fitted the
window-seat, not surprising in view of the fact that the window-seats
throughout the dormitories were fairly uniform in size. The cushion cost
them two dollars. It was covered with faded green corduroy and in places
was pretty well flattened out by much service. But it answered their
purpose and really looked quite fine when in place. Tom cast doubts on
the positive assertion of the seller that it was filled with genuine
hair, but Steve said that didn't matter as long as it was comfortable.
They piled their three pillows on it and stretched themselves out on it,
one at a time, and voted it good enough for anyone. There was a good
deal of dust in it, but, as Steve said, if they were careful about
getting up and down they wouldn't disturb it! By this time Number 12
began to look quite sumptuous. They had placed several framed pictures
and many photographs and trinkets against the walls and had draped the
tops of the chiffoniers with towels. They had also made up a list of
things to bring back with them after the Christmas holidays, a list that
included all sorts of articles from a waste-basket to an electric
drop-light. The latter they had not been able to find in their
bargain-hunting and could not purchase in the village even if they had
sufficient money. Their pocketbooks were pretty lean by the time they
had been there a week, for, beside the expenditures for furnishings,
they had, between them, paid two dollars for a year's subscription to
the school monthly, and had made quite an outlay for stationery. Tom, in
fact, was practically bankrupt and had sent an "S. O. S.," as he called
it, to his father.

Meanwhile, every afternoon save Sunday they donned their togs and toiled
on the gridiron. Mr. Robey was already bringing order out of chaos and
the sixty-odd candidates now formed a first, second and third squad.
Steve and Tom both remained in the latter for the present, nor did Tom
entertain much hope of getting out of it until he was dropped for good.
Steve had made something of a reputation as a player at home, and his
former team-mates there firmly expected to hear that he had made the
Brimfield 'varsity without difficulty and was showing the preparatory
school fellows how the game ought to be played. Tom, too, expected no
less for him, and perhaps, if the truth were known, Steve entertained
some such expectations himself! But Tom wasn't deceived as to his own
football ability and was already wondering whether, when he was dropped
from the 'varsity squad, he would be so fortunate as to make his hall
team.

But there was a surprise in store for both of them. The first cut came
about ten days after the opening of school, and the candidates dwindled
from sixty-odd to a scant fifty. Steve's surprise lay in the fact that
he was not promoted to the second squad, Tom's to the even more
startling circumstance that he survived the cut!

Eric Sawyer had been relieved from his superintendence of the awkward
squad and had gone to his old position of right guard on the first team.
The third squad was now under the care of a youth named Marvin, a
substitute quarter-back on last year's second team. He was a cheerful,
hardworking little chap and the "rookies" took to him at once. He was
quick to find fault, but equally quick to applaud good work, and under
his charge the third squad, composed now of some fourteen candidates,
began to smooth out. A half-hour session with the tackling dummy was now
part of the daily routine and many a fellow who had thought rather well
of himself suffered humiliation in the pit. Steve was one of these.
Tackling proved to be a weak point with him. Even Tom got better results
than he did, and every afternoon Steve would scramble to his feet and
wipe the earth from his face to hear Marvin's patient voice saying: "Not
a bit like it, Edwards. Don't shut your eyes when you jump. Keep them
open and see what you're doing. Once more, now; and tackle below the
knees." And then, when the stuffed figure had been drawn, swaying
crazily, across the square of spaded turf once more, and Steve had
leaped upon it and twisted his arms desperately and convulsively about
it, "That's a little better," Marvin might say, "but you'd never stop
your man that way."

Steve was getting discouraged about his tackling and a little bit
incensed with Marvin. "He takes it out on me every time," he confided to
Tom one afternoon after practice. "Lots of the fellows don't do it a bit
better and he just says 'Fair, Jones' or 'That's better, Freer,' and
that's all there is to it. When it comes my turn, he just makes up his
mind I'm not going to do it right and then rags me. Didn't I do it just
as well as you did to-day, Tom?"

Tom, intensely loyal though he was, had to shake his head. "Maybe you
did, Steve; I don't do it very well myself, but you--you don't seem to
get the hang of it yet. You will, of course, in a day or two. I don't
believe Marvin means to rag you, though; he's an awfully decent fellow."

But Tom's day or two stretched into a week or two, and one by one
fellows disappeared from the awkward squad, some to the private walks of
life and the consolation of hall football and some, fewer in number
these, to the squad ahead. Brimfield played its first game of the year
one Saturday afternoon with Thacher School, and came through with flying
colours. But Thacher presented a line-up considerably younger and
lighter than Brimfield's, and the victory brought no great glory to the
Maroon-and-Grey. Steve and Tom watched that contest from the side-line,
Tom with absorbed interest and Steve rather disgruntedly. His visions
had not included any such situation as this!

That evening Steve made his first big mistake.



CHAPTER XI

"HOLD 'EM, THIRD!"


The term was a fortnight old when Thacher went down in defeat, 10 to 3,
and by that time both Steve and Tom had made acquaintances here and
there, and so when, after study hour that Saturday night, Steve
announced carelessly that he was "going around to Hensey to see a
fellow," Tom took it for granted that his chum was off to look up some
new friend. Perhaps, since they usually made calls together, he wondered
a little that Steve didn't ask him along, but he didn't mind being left
out on this particular occasion since he was having a good deal of
trouble just then with trigonometry and wanted to put in more time on
Monday's lesson.

When Steve entered Hensey he passed into the first corridor and knocked
on the door of Number 7. The card there held the names: "Andrew Loring
Miller--Hatherton Williams." A voice bade him enter and Steve walked in.
Andy Miller and his room-mate were both in, Andy sprawled on the
window-seat, which was much too short for his long body, and Williams
seated at the study table. Andy jumped up as the visitor entered.

"Glad to see you, Edwards," he said cordially. "Shake hands with
Williams. Hat, this is Edwards of the fourth. Sit down, won't you?"

Williams, who was a heavy, dark-complexioned youth of eighteen with a
flat nose and a broad mouth, shook hands politely, murmuring something
that Steve took to mean that he was pleased to meet him, and sank back
to his seat. Steve took the easy-chair that Andy pushed forward.

"Well, how are you?" asked the football captain genially. "Haven't run
across any more confidence-men, I hope."

Steve smiled none too heartily and cast a glance toward Williams. But
the latter's blank expression showed that the allusion meant nothing to
him and proved that, as far as Williams was concerned, Miller had kept
his promise of secrecy.

"No, not yet," answered Steve. "I thought I'd just drop in a minute and
call."

"Of course. Glad you did. How's your friend?"

"Tom! He's fine, thanks. I--he wasn't through studying, so I didn't wait
for him."

"And how's football going?" asked Andy. "Getting on pretty well?"

"I think so. Not so very well, though. I--I don't seem to please Marvin
very well with tackling."

"Oh, you'll get onto that all right," said Andy cheerfully. "Fact is, I
don't think a fellow ever really learns much at the dummy. It's dumping
a chap in real playing that shows you what's wanted. Don't you think so,
Hat?"

"Dummy practice is a good thing," answered Williams morosely.

He sat tilted back on the chair, hands in pockets, staring at the floor.
He seemed a gloomy sort of fellow, Steve thought, and was relieved when
Williams added: "Guess I'll run over to Johnny's for a minute," and,
muttering something about being glad to have met the visitor, found a
cap and wandered out.

"I suppose," said Steve, when the door had closed, "it's necessary for a
fellow to learn how to tackle, but it seems to me that if you aren't
awfully good at it you might get a chance to show what you can do
besides that."

"I guess I don't quite understand what you mean," responded Andy.

"I mean that if I can't tackle the dummy well enough to please Marvin,"
answered Steve a trifle bitterly, "I do as well as lots of other
fellows, and--and it doesn't seem fair to keep me back just for that.
Lots of fellows have been taken on to the second squad that can't play
as well as I can, Miller."

"Oh! I see." Andy's eyes narrowed a little and he looked at Steve more
intently. "You mean that you aren't getting a fair show, Edwards?"

"It doesn't seem so to me. I played with my high school team for two
years at left end and--and did pretty well. Of course, I don't say that
I'm as good as some of the fellows here, but I do think that I'm as good
as--as a lot of them; and a heap better than three or four that have
gone to the second squad lately. I don't get a chance to show what I can
do where I am now, Miller. Marvin doesn't even let me into signal drill
more than half the time, and then he puts me at half or tackle and I've
never played either of those places. And when I told him so the other
day he just laughed and said that one place was as good as another on
the third! And he rags me every day about my tackling and--and I don't
think it's fair! If he will give me a chance I'll pick up tackling all
right. You say yourself that a fellow learns it more from playing than
from dummy work."

"So I did," said Andy thoughtfully. Then, after a moment: "Look here,
Edwards, I think you've got a wrong idea in your head. If Marvin isn't
satisfied with your tackling, it's because you don't do it right.
Marvin's a good man and he knows football. Now, if you expect to play
end you ought to know how to tackle, Edwards. What's the good of getting
down the field, no matter how fast you may be, if you can't stop the man
with the ball when you get there?"

"I can stop him! I've played for two years and----"

"What you've done before, Edwards, isn't any criterion with us. You may
have been a regular wonder in--what's the place? Tannerstown----"

"Tannersville. I don't say I was a wonder, but----"

"Just a minute! You may have been a star on your high school team and
yet not worth a copper cent to us, Edwards. I never saw your team play,
but it's pretty likely that their brand of football and ours are
different."

"I think we play as good football as you fellows played to-day," said
Steve.

"Maybe. I'm not especially proud of the game we put up this afternoon.
But that isn't the sort of football we play in mid-season, my friend.
I'm sorry you think you aren't getting a fair deal, Edwards, but you
mustn't expect me to interfere with Marvin. I couldn't do it. The most I
can do is give you a little piece of advice which you won't care for
probably. It's this: Do as you're told to do, Edwards, and do it as hard
as you know how! Just as soon as you show Marvin that you are ready to
go into the second squad, you'll get there. And don't get it into your
head that Marvin has it in for you or doesn't know what he is doing.
Marvin's a particularly bright young man. If he wasn't he wouldn't have
the third squad to weed out, for that's a job that requires a whole lot
more patience and brains than any other job I know of on a football
field."

Andy paused, and Steve, who was gloomily regarding a scarred knuckle,
made no reply.

"Use your head, man," continued the captain in a lighter tone. "You
don't suppose, do you, that we are letting anything good get by us as
long as we've got eyes to see with? Not much! You probably have an idea
that Marvin is keeping you off the second. He isn't. You're keeping
yourself off. Mull that over, Edwards. And don't--don't do this again."

Steve looked a question.

"I mean don't come to me or to Mr. Robey with any hard-luck stories. It
isn't done. If I didn't know you a little, Edwards, I'd think you were
pretty poor stuff. But I guess you didn't stop to consider how it would
look. As you have done it, I'm glad you came to me instead of Mr. Robey.
He wouldn't have liked it a bit." After a pause: "How's Hall getting
on?"

"Pretty well, I guess," replied Steve. He stood up and frowned at the
green globe of the reading lamp for a moment. Then, "I'm sorry I said
anything, Miller," he remarked. "I guess it wasn't quite a fair thing to
do. Only I thought--maybe----"

"You thought," said Andy cheerfully, "that perhaps I'd give you a lift.
Didn't you, Edwards?"

"I suppose so."

"In other words, you wanted me to advance you over the next man on the
strength of our acquaintance. Sounds as though you had rather a punk
impression of me, Edwards."

"I haven't! I--I suppose, though, I didn't stop to figure it out much.
It seemed to me that Marvin wasn't giving me a fair show, and here it is
the last of September already, and I'm just where I started----"

"That's your fault, not Marvin's," responded Andy with a smile. He
walked over and laid a hand on the younger boy's shoulder. "Brace up,
Edwards," he said kindly. "Don't waste your time looking for favours.
Don't want them. Buckle down and grit your teeth and just show Marvin
and the rest of us that you're so good he can't keep you on the third!
That's your line, old man. And now, just as a bit of encouragement, I'll
tell you that Robey and I have noticed your work in the field and we've
liked it. You carry yourself like a veteran and you follow the ball
well, and we both expect big things from you some day. Perhaps you won't
make good this year, but there's next year and the year after. Put your
nose back on the grindstone, Edwards, grin hard and tell Marvin to turn
faster!"

"All right," laughed Steve. "Thanks. I guess you're right. And--and I'm
not sorry now I came."

"Good! Now sit down again and let's have a chin. How do you like the
school? Have you met many of the fellows yet?"

"You're making the same mistake, Edwards," said Marvin the next Monday
afternoon. He spoke a trifle wearily. "Get your body in _front_ of the
runner and not at one side. Bind his legs together with your arms, then
block him with your body and lift him back. If you do that he's _got_
to stop, and when he falls he will fall towards his own goal and not
yours. Try it over now."

And when Steve had tried it over, Marvin glanced at him sharply. It
seemed to him that for almost the first time the candidate had really
tried! He hadn't made a clean tackle, but he had profited by the
instruction that had been heaped upon him for two weeks, and little
Marvin mentally patted himself on the back and was very pleased with
himself, for Marvin, although he would probably never play through a big
game, and knew it, was as unselfishly devoted to the interests of the
team as any fellow there.

"That's a heap better, Edwards," he said eagerly. "Now see if you can't
do it just right the next time."

After that it seemed to Marvin that Steve tried harder and it seemed to
Steve that the little quarter-back was more appreciative. On Tuesday, as
the squad jogged away from the tackling pit, Marvin said:

"Edwards, let me see you after practice, will you?"

Steve, assenting, examined Marvin's face doubtfully. A week ago he would
have expected trouble from such a request, but to-day Marvin's face held
only good-will and a sort of eager friendliness, and while Steve
wondered more than once during the remainder of practice what Marvin
wanted of him he had no unpleasant forebodings.

There was to be a game on the morrow, the only mid-week contest of the
season, and the first squad was released early. That gave Coach Robey a
chance to give undivided attention to the second and third and he made
the most of it. He and Andy Miller, the latter trailing a grey blanket
after him, joined the third squad when the first team and substitutes
had trotted away to the gymnasium and at once displayed a flattering but
embarrassing interest. The Third was practising signals, eleven men in
the line-up and two or three more following and watching. Marvin was
driving them from a position at the rear, occasionally darting into the
line, to correct a fault or illustrate a play. Unfortunately, Carmine,
who was at quarter, noticed the coach's advent and immediately got
flustered. When two plays had gone wrong Mr. Robey said:

"Marvin, you get in there and play quarter for a minute and give that
man a chance to remember his signals. You come back here and look on,
son."

After that the squad ran through plays with vim and snap. Now and then
there was a mix-up, but the signals went pretty well. After each play
the coach or Captain Miller, or sometimes both, criticised and
explained. The plays were few and simple; straight plunges by the backs
with an occasional forward pass; but almost every time the critics found
some fault to correct. Steve was playing at left tackle, fighting
valiantly against an imaginary opponent, and once, trotting back to his
position after a short charge over the turf, he caught the eyes of Andy
and Mr. Robey fixed on him speculatively. He hoped as he settled down
again and listened for the signals that Captain Miller had not told the
coach of that visit on Saturday night! He wanted to forget that himself
and he wanted Andy Miller to forget it.

"That'll be all, Marvin," said Mr. Robey presently. He clapped his
hands. "Everyone in, please!" he called. The players flocked to the
bench and picked up sweaters and blankets, while Mr. Robey and Andy
conversed over the coach's little black book. Finally: "We'll have a
short scrimmage, fellows," he announced. "Second squad take the east
goal and kick off to the third. Pick out your men, Brownell. You too,
Marvin. Who do you want to start?"

It was the first scrimmage for the third squad fellows and they raced on
eagerly. Steve was sent in as left tackle again and Tom beside him at
guard. The pigskin soared away from the toe of a second squad forward,
was gathered in by a third squad half-back near the twenty-yard line and
was down five yards further on. "Line up, Third!" piped Carmine shrilly.
"Give it to 'em hard now!"

There wasn't the finished skill displayed by the 'varsity team, but
there was enough enthusiasm to almost make up for the lack of science.
Back came the ball, the forwards sprang together, a half darted past
right tackle, spinning like a top, faltered, went on, was stopped short
by the Second's backs and borne back, grunting "Down! Down!" with all
the breath left in his body.

"Second down!" proclaimed Joe Lawrence, the manager, jumping into the
mêlée. "Six to go."

Mr. Robey and Andy Miller followed the teams closely, watching and
shouting directions, the coach on the third squad side and Andy behind
the second.

"Good work, you fellow!" applauded Andy, darting up to slap the half on
the back and send him back to his place breathless but grinning. "That's
the way to do it! Now, then, once more. You've got six to go. Let me see
you get it. Play lower, you fellows in the line! Get down there! Lift
'em and throw 'em back! That's the ticket!"

But the gain was scant and Carmine walked back to kick.

"Get through and block this!" panted the second's quarter, dodging back
and forth for a likely opening.

"You fellow on the end there!" cried Andy. "Play back further and stop
that tackle!"

"Watch for a forward pass!" warned a second squad back. "Spread out,
Billy!"

"Hold 'em!" shouted Carmine.

Then came the signals, back sped the ball--a poor pass--the second came
tearing through, Carmine dropped the ball and swung his leg and away it
floated. A second squad back caught it near the side-line, tucked it
under his arm and started back. The third squad's right end had been
blocked and now, eager to make up for lost time, he overran and missed
his tackle entirely and the second's back came speeding up the field
near the side-line, a hastily-formed interference guarding him well. Ten
yards, fifteen, twenty, and then Carmine wormed through and brought the
runner to earth.

"That's one on you, right end," said Andy sternly. "You got boxed to
the king's taste that time. Now, third, see what you can do on the
defence."

"Draw your line in, Carmine," called Marvin. "Look where you are, man!
The ball's almost on the twenty yards! Peters, close up there! Now push
'em back, third!"

"Who's that right end, Dick?" asked Andy of Marvin.

"Chap named Holt. He isn't very good."

"How would it do to try Edwards there? He looks clever."

"That's his position, Andy, but the kid can't tackle. I'll give him a
try, though. That's rotten, third! Blaisdell, where were you then? For
the love of mud, man, watch the ball! Five yards right through you! Now
get back there and stop them!"

"Second down, five to go," called Lawrence. "You left end on the second,
you were off-side then. Next time I'll penalise you. Watch out for it."

"Same formation!" piped the second's quarter. "Make it good, fellows!
Let's score now!"

"Hold 'em, third! Don't give 'em an inch. Get down there, Peters!"

"Third down!" called Lawrence a moment later. "You've got three and a
half to go, second!"

"That's the stuff!" cried Carmine jubilantly, dealing blows of approval
on the bent backs of the forwards. "That's the way to stop 'em! Now once
more, third!"

Then, "Fourth down and a yard and a half to go," announced Lawrence.

"Kick formation!" called the attacking quarter. "Simmons back!"

"Block this! Block it! Get through now, fellows!"

"Hold hard there, second!" There was a moment of silence. Then the ball
shot back. Simmons caught it waist-high, dropped it, kicked and went
down under the charge of the desperate second squad players. But the
ball sailed over the cross-bar and the second had scored.

"That'll do, Holt," said Marvin. "Edwards, you play right end.
Saunders!" A substitute struggled out of his sweater and came racing on.
"Go in at left tackle, Saunders. Pearse, you'd better kick off."

The game went on, the second squad bringing the pigskin back twelve
yards on the kick-off and then hammering through for fifteen more before
the third forced them to punt. Carmine caught on his thirty-five yards,
made a short gain and was downed. Twice the third got through for a yard
or two and then Carmine again fell back to kick. This time the pass was
a good one and Carmine got off an excellent punt that went over the head
of the opposing quarter-back and bobbed along toward the goal. The left
half scuttled to his assistance and, when the ball was in the quarter's
arms, threw himself in front of the first of the foe. But that
particular adversary was canny. He twisted aside, leaped over the
stumbling half and dived for the runner. It was a poor tackle and the
man with the ball struggled on for three yards after he was caught, but
the ball was down on the second's twenty-seven yards, and Steve, picking
himself up from the recumbent enemy, heard Marvin shouting: "A rotten
tackle, Edwards, but fine work down the field!" And, "Good stuff, you
end!" approved the coach, while Tom, beaming, patted him ungently on the
back.

The scrimmage was over a minute later, and, although the second had
triumphed by that goal from the field, the third trotted back to the
gymnasium feeling very well pleased with themselves. They had had their
baptism by fire and had acquitted themselves well. Steve and Tom,
panting but happy, had almost reached the gymnasium when Steve
recollected his engagement with Marvin.

"I've got to go back," he said in dismay. "I promised Marvin to see him
after practice."

"There he comes now," said Tom, nodding toward where the little quarter
was approaching with Mr. Robey and Andy Miller. Steve stopped beside the
path and Tom fell back to wait for him.

"I forgot you wanted me to wait, Marvin," said Steve apologetically, as
the trio came up.

"Oh, that's all right, Edwards. I forgot myself. Another day will do
just as well. I didn't know we were to have scrimmage to-day."

"You keep up that stuff you showed to-day, Edwards," said Mr. Robey,
"and we'll have you on the second the first thing you know." Then his
glance passed Steve to Tom. "You too, Hall. I watched you. You're doing
well. Keep it up."

The three went on, and Steve and Tom silently followed. Neither spoke
until they reached the steps. Then,

"I'm awfully glad," said Tom.

"So am I," replied Steve heartily. "Bet you you'll make the second
before the week is out."

"I meant about you, Steve," said Tom simply.



CHAPTER XII

CANTERBURY ROMPS ON--AND OFF


But existence at Brimfield Academy wasn't all football, by any means,
nor all fun. There was a lot of hard work mixed up with the play, and
both Steve and Tom found that an immense amount of study was required of
them. They each had thirty recitations a week, and in both Greek and
Latin their preparation at high school had, not unnaturally, been
deficient. That meant hard sledding for a while. Tom realised the fact
before Steve would, and so spared himself some trouble. Steve resented
the extra study necessary and for the first fortnight or so trusted to
luck to get him through. And for a time luck stood by him. He had a way
of looking wise in class that imposed for a while on "Uncle Sim," as Mr.
Simkins was called, but after Steve had fallen down three or four times
the instructor scented the truth of the matter and then Steve's life
became a burden to him. Mr. Simkins took delight, it seemed, in calling
on him at the most unexpected moments until, one day, in sheer
desperation, Steve gave utterance to the answer "not prepared." That
was to Uncle Sim what a red rag is to a bull! There was a scathing
dressing-down then and there, followed by a visit that evening from Mr.
Daley. Steve was secretly uneasy, for more than one story of summary
justice on the part of the Greek and Latin instructor had reached him,
but he presented a careless front to the Hall Master. Mr. Daley was
plainly eager to help, but, as usual, he was embarrassed and nervous,
and Steve, who had taken a mild dislike to him, resented his
interference.

"The stuff's too hard," he said in answer to Mr. Daley's inquiries.
"Look at the lesson we had to-day, sir; all that and this, over to here;
sight reading, too. And two compositions so far this week! I just didn't
have time for it last night, and so when he called on me to-day I told
him I wasn't prepared. And then he--he ragged me in front of the class
and gave me a page and a half to write, beside to-morrow's lesson. I
can't do it, and that's all there is to it!"

"Er--yes, yes, I see. I'm sorry, Edwards. Now, let us have a look at
this. Yes, there's quite a lot of it. You--ah--you didn't have much
Latin before you came here, I take it?"

"Had enough," growled Steve, "but nothing like this. I've had Cæsar and
some Cicero. I never had any luck with Latin, anyway." And Steve viewed
the open book with distaste.

"It's the quantity, then, you find--ah--difficult," said Mr. Daley. "As
far as grammar is concerned, I take it you are--ah--well grounded,
Edwards?"

"I suppose so. But look at the length of the lesson we have!"

"Yes. Very true. But, of course, to complete a certain amount of work in
the year it is--ah--necessary to do quite a good deal every day. Now
maybe you--ah--haven't been really setting your mind on this. I know in
my own case that I very often find myself--ah--skimping, so to speak; I
mean going over a thing without really getting the--ah--the meat out of
it. I'm almost certain that if you really settled your mind on this,
Edwards, that you'd get along very well with it. Suppose now that you
give twice as much time to it to-night as you usually do. If some other
study must suffer, why, let it be your French and I will let you by
to-morrow if you aren't well prepared. And--ah--I wish when you've been
over this you'd come down and let me--ah--go over it with you lightly. I
think--I think that would be an excellent idea, Edwards."

"Oh, I'll try it," grumbled Steve, "but it isn't any use. And look at
what I've got to translate for him!"

"Yes, yes, I see. Well--ah--bring your book down after awhile and we'll
see what can be done. How are you getting on, Hall?"

"Pretty well, sir. I find it a bit stiff, too, but maybe after awhile
I'll get the hang of it."

"That's the way to talk!" exclaimed the instructor approvingly.
"That--ah--that is the right attitude, Hall. Make up your mind that it
will come and it _will_ come. We all have our--our problems, and the
only way to do is to--ah--face them and ride straight at them. So often,
when we reach them, we find them--ah--we find them so very much more
trivial than we had supposed. They're like--like hills seen from a
distance that look terrifically steep. When we--ah--reach them we find
them easy grades after all. You see what I mean? Yes, yes. Well, I shall
expect you in my study later, Edwards. I want you--both of you, that
is--to realise that I am very eager to be of assistance at any time.
Possibly I can't help very much,--but--ah--I am most willing, boys."

"Silly chump," growled Steve when the door had closed behind Mr. Daley.
"I wish--ah--he'd--ah--mind his own--ah--business!"

But Tom didn't smile. "I think the chap means to be awfully decent,
Steve," he said thoughtfully. "The trouble is, I guess, he's scared to
death of the fellows. You can see that in class."

"He's a regular granny," replied Steve. "Wish he had this stuff to do. I
guess he wouldn't be so light and airy about it!"

"You'll go down and let him help you, though, won't you?" asked Tom
anxiously.

"Oh, I suppose so. He can do the whole thing if he wants to. Where is my
dictionary?"

With Mr. Daley's help, freely offered and grudgingly accepted, Steve
weathered that crisis. And secretly he was grateful to the Hall Master,
though he still pretended to believe and possibly did half believe that
the latter was a sort of mollycoddle. Tom told him indignantly once that
since Mr. Daley had been so awfully decent to him he ought to stop
poking fun at him. To which Steve cheerfully made answer that even a
mollycoddle could be decent at times!

Brimfield played Canterbury High School on a Wednesday afternoon in
early October and had a good deal of a scare. Canterbury romped on to
the field like a bunch of young colts, and continued to romp for the
best part of three ten-minute periods, long after Brimfield had decided
that romping was no longer in good taste! Led by a small, wiry,
red-headed quarter-back, who was likewise captain, and directed from the
side-line by a coach who looked scarcely older than the big youth who
played centre for them, the Canterbury team took the most astounding
liberties with football precedents. They didn't transgress the rules,
but they put such original interpretations on some of them that Mr.
Conklin, who was refereeing, and Mr. Jordan, instructor in mathematics,
who was umpiring, had their heads over the rules-book nearly half the
time! Now and then they would march to the side-line and consult the
Canterbury coach. "Where do you get your authority for that play?" Mr.
Conklin would ask a trifle irritably. Thereupon, silently but with a
twinkle in his eye, the coach would gravely take the book, flip the
pages, lay a finger on a section and return it.

"Hm," Mr. Conklin would say. "Hm; but that seems to be in direct
contradiction of another rule over here!"

"Quite likely," the coach would reply indifferently. "There are quite a
few contradictions there. Of course, you may accept either rule you
like, gentlemen."

Disarmed in such wise, the officials invariably decided the play to be
legal, and Quarter-back Milton, of Brimfield, would protest volubly and
get very, very red in the face in his attempt to carry his point and, at
the same time, omit none of the respect due a faculty member! It was
hard on Milton, that game, and several times he nearly had apoplexy.

Then, too, Canterbury did the most unexpected things at the most
inopportune moments. When Brimfield expected her to rush the ball she
was just as likely to get off a kick from close formation. When the
circumstances indicated an attack on the short side of the field
Canterbury's backs swung around the other end. When a close formation
was to be looked for she swung her line half across the field, so
confusing the opponents that they acted as though hypnotised. The
forward pass was to Canterbury a play that afforded her infinite
amusement. She used it in the most unheard of locations; in midfield,
under the shadow of her own goal, anywhere, everywhere and almost always
when least expected. At the end of the second period Brimfield trotted
away to the gymnasium dazed and tired of brain, with the score 7 to 0
against her.

The surprising thing about the visitors was that they played as though
they were just having an afternoon of good fun. They romped, like boys
playing leap-frog or follow-my-leader. They romped up the field and they
romped down the field and, incidentally, over and through and around
their opponents. And the more care-free and happy Canterbury became, the
more anxious and laboured grew Brimfield. The Maroon-and-Grey reminded
one of a very staid and serious middle-aged party with a grave duty to
perform trying to restrain the spirited antics of a small boy with no
sense of decorum!

When the second half began, Canterbury added insult to injury. Instead
of booting the pigskin down the field in an honest and earnest endeavour
to obtain distance, she deliberately and with malice aforethought,
dribbled it on the bias, so to speak, toward the side-line. Benson,
right end, should certainly have got it, but he was so perplexed that he
never thought of picking it up until a Canterbury forward had performed
the task for him and had raced nearly twenty yards down the field! It
was an unprecedented thing to do, or, at least, unprecedented at
Brimfield, and the audience voiced its disapproval strongly. But as the
ball had gone the required ten yards there was nothing to do but
smile--a trifle foolishly, perhaps--and accept the situation. And the
situation was this: Canterbury had kicked off and gained over thirty
yards without losing possession of the ball! But in one way that play
was ill-advised. Brimfield had stood all sorts of jokes and pranks from
the enemy with fairly good grace, but this enormity was too much.
Brimfield was peeved! More than that, she was really angry! And, being
angry, she forgot that for twenty minutes she had been outplayed and
started in then and there to administer a licking to the obstreperous
small boy.

Even then, however, Canterbury continued to romp and enjoy herself. She
found hard sledding, but she worked down to Brimfield's eight-yard line
before she was finally halted. Then her right half romped back for a try
at goal and joyously booted the ball. But, to the enormous relief of the
onlookers, the ball went under the bar instead of over, and Canterbury
romped back again. That third period was very evenly contested,
Brimfield, smarting under a sense of wounded dignity, playing well
together and allowing Canterbury no more opportunities to attempt
scores. The visitors, still untamed, sprang strange and weird
formations and attacks. A favourite trick was to start a play without
signals, while one of her men was ostensibly tying a shoe-lace yards
away or requesting a new head-guard near a side-line. It invariably
happened, though, that the shoe-lace was tied in time to allow the youth
to get the ball on a pass and attempt a joyous romp around the
opponent's end. There was no scoring in the third period, but the
whistle blew with the pigskin down on Canterbury's twenty-five yards and
Brimfield with four to go on third down.

As there was no practice that afternoon, Steve and Tom saw the game from
the grand stand, with two cronies named Draper and Westcott. Draper's
first name was Leroy and he was called Roy. He was a tow-haired
youngster of fifteen with very bright blue eyes and a tip-tilted nose
that gave him a humorously impertinent look. He, like Steve and Tom, was
a Fourth Former. His home was in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and, while
Pittsburg was a good hundred miles from Tannersville, the fact that they
were citizens of the same glorious commonwealth had drawn he and Steve
together. Harry Westcott was a year older and came from a small town in
Connecticut. He was Roy's room-mate in Torrence. He had a slim,
small-boned body and a good-looking face with an aquiline nose and a
pair of very large soft-brown eyes. His dark hair was brushed straight
back from his forehead and was always very slick. Harry was what Roy
called "a fussy dresser" and affected knickerbockers and golf-stockings,
negligée shirts of soft and delicate hues of lavender or green or blue
and, to quote his disrespectful room-mate once more, "symphonic ties."
Harry was the embodiment of aristocratic ease and always lent a "tone"
to any gathering. He maintained an air of what he probably considered
well-bred composure and tabooed enthusiasm. Harry never declared that a
thing was "bully" or "fine and dandy"; he mildly observed that it was
"not half bad." This pose amused him, doubtless, and entertained his
friends, and underneath it all he was a very normal, likable chap. It
was Roy Draper who broke the strained silence that had endured until the
whistle put an end to the third period.

"I wouldn't give a cent for Canterbury's chances in the next period," he
said. "Look at Andy's face, fellows. It has the 'blood-lust' on it. When
Andy looks that way something has just got to happen!"

"He looks annoyed," assented Harry.

"You'd be annoyed if you had your lip cut the way his is," chuckled Roy.

"Do you think we'll beat them?" asked Tom anxiously.

"Nothing can save them," replied Roy conclusively. "Andy has his dander
up."

"It took him long enough to get it up," grumbled Steve. "He let those
fellows run rings around us in the first half."

"That's his foxy way. Now he's got them all tired out and we'll go in
and rip 'em up. You watch!"

"There's Marvin going in for Milton," announced Tom. "Say, those chaps
haven't made a change in their line-up yet."

"One," corrected Harry. "They put in a new right guard last period.
They're a funny lot, seems to me. You'd think they were having the time
of their lives."

"I like that, though," said Roy. "After all, you know, this thing of
playing football is supposed to be amusement."

"It's a heap more like hard work, though," replied Harry. "Not that I
ever played it much."

"Did you ever play at all?" asked Roy.

"Once or twice at grammar school. It was too fatiguing, though."

"I'll bet it was," chuckled Roy. "I'd like to see you playing, old
thing."

"I did, though; played right half-back. A fellow stuck his elbow into my
face and I knocked him flat. Captain said it was part of the game, you
know, and I shouldn't have done it. I said that any fellow who bumped my
nose would have to look for trouble. Then the umpire put me off and the
game lost a real star."

"Here we go," said Steve. "Now let's see if they can carry it over."

They didn't, however, just then. Canterbury held finely in the shadow of
her goal and Marvin's forward pass to Captain Miller went out at the
twelve-yards. But Canterbury was forced to punt a moment later, and
Brimfield took up the march again. On the adversary's thirty-yard line,
with six to go on the third down, Norton, full-back, attempted an
impossible drop-kick--he was standing over forty yards from the
cross-bar--and made it good.

"What did I tell you?" demanded Roy, digging Steve with his elbow.

"That's only three points, though," answered Steve doubtfully. "We
couldn't make a touchdown."

"It isn't over yet," said Roy confidently. "We're getting better all the
time."

Canterbury gave the ball to Brimfield for the kick-off and Fowler booted
it down to the opponent's fifteen yards. Andy Miller was under it all
the way and upset an ambitious Canterbury back before he was well
started. Canterbury tried two plunges and then punted from her
twenty-five-yard line to Brimfield's fifty. Marvin caught and brought
the stand to its feet by reeling off twelve yards across the field
before he was downed. Then Brimfield found herself and went down the
gridiron by steady plunges, plugging the Canterbury line for good gains
from tackle to tackle. Norton, at full-back, was the hero of that
period. Time after time he took the pigskin and landed it for a gain.
Marvin, cool and heady, ran the team beautifully, and when four minutes
of playing time remained, Brimfield was again knocking at Canterbury's
door, the pigskin on the latter's eighteen yards.

"First down!" proclaimed Roy triumphantly. "Here's where she goes over,
old thing!"

"Let her go," replied Harry. "I'm watching."

"I hope they don't try another silly field-goal," muttered Steve.

"Not on first down, they won't. Bully work, Norton! Did you see it?
Three yards easily!"

Then Marvin himself cut loose for four around left end and the
Canterbury coach hustled three substitutes on. But Brimfield was not to
be denied now. It was first down on Canterbury's seven yards, and, with
the spectators yelling like Indians, Kendall, right half, took the ball
on a delayed pass, found an opening outside right tackle and slipped
through and over the line for six more points.

Captain Miller kicked goal and the score stood 10 to 7. Another minute
of play followed, with Brimfield again pushing the high school team
before her, and then the game was over and the quartette on the stand
thumped each other elatedly--all save Harry--and ambled down to join the
throng that spread over the field on its homeward way.

"What did I tell you?" asked Roy. "You can't fool your uncle!"

"You hate yourself, don't you?" drawled Harry. "Come on over to the
room, you fellows."

Canterbury, having cheered the victor wholeheartedly, romped home.



CHAPTER XIII

SAWYER VOWS VENGEANCE


Miter Hill School followed Canterbury the next Saturday and was an
unexpectedly weak opponent. The contest was slow and lifeless and
dragged its weary length along until almost twilight. Miter Hill's
players were in poor physical condition and, since the afternoon was
warm and close, made a poor showing. The weather affected Brimfield,
too, although she was not as susceptible to injury as the other team.
Miter Hill was forever getting hurt, it seemed, and the audience which
had braved a remorseless sun and a horde of blood-thirsty midges soon
began to grumble.

The game was further slowed down in the last two periods by the
substitution of half the members of the second and third squads for the
Maroon-and-Grey. Even Tom had a three or four-minute experience on the
'varsity, something which he had long ceased hoping for, while Steve
played nearly all of the fourth period at right end. He did very well,
there, although Miter Hill was too weak in all departments of the game
to afford any of her opponents a fair test. Toward the last the contest
degenerated into more or less of a farce, Miter Hill tuckered and played
out, and Brimfield, with a line-up of third and fourth substitutes,
fumbling and mixing signals and running around like a hen with her head
off!

By that time those who had remained so long began to view the game as
what it really was, a comedy of errors, and got lots of fun out of it.
When Peters, at centre, passed the ball at least two feet above the
upstretched hands of Harris, who wanted to punt, and at least nine
youths raced back up the field in pursuit of it, shoving, tripping,
falling, rolling, and when it was Peters himself who finally dropped his
one hundred and seventy-odd pounds on it, the onlookers rocked in their
seats and applauded wildly. Later on another dash of humour was supplied
when Carmine poised the ball for a forward pass only to discover that no
one of his side was in position to take it. The quarter-back shouted
imploringly, running back and across the field, dodging two or three of
the enemy and by some miracle holding the ball out of harm's way all the
while. When, at last, thoroughly desperate, he heard someone shout from
across the field to throw the ball, he threw it, and not until the
catcher had reeled off twenty yards or more toward Brimfield's goal did
Carmine discover that he had been cruelly deceived by the Miter Hill
right end! Even Mr. Robey, who had been viewing the game rather grimly,
had to swing on his heel to hide a smile at that fiasco. But, if the
subs didn't do much in the way of attack, they at least held the enemy
from crossing their line, and the weird contest at last came to a close
with the one-sided score of 26 to 0.

On Monday there was a fine shake-up, for the Miter Hill game, if it had
not held any thrills, had at least shown up many faults, individual and
otherwise. Several second squad men went to the first as substitutes,
Fowler was shifted from left tackle to left guard on the first and two
members of the third squad were advanced to the second. These latter
were Freer, half-back, and Hall, guard. Tom was both surprised and
delighted, while seriously doubting the coach's wisdom. Later, when he
found that Steve had not secured promotion as well, most of his delight
vanished.

"I don't see why they put me on the second," he said, "and left you on
the third. I don't play half the game you do, Steve."

Steve tried hard to be gracious, but only partly succeeded. "I dare say
they want guards and don't want ends," he replied. "Of course you've
been doing good work, Tom, and deserve promotion and I'm awfully glad
you've got it, but, just the same, I don't think I'm getting a square
deal."

"I don't either! I wish they'd left me alone and taken you on. Peters
says Robey will be disbanding the third squad in a week or so, too. Of
course they'll put you on the second before that, though."

"I don't believe they will," replied Steve morosely. "I dare say I'll be
dropped entirely. I thought I was getting on pretty well, but Marvin
evidently doesn't think so. I'm getting kind of sick of it, anyway, Tom.
I wish I'd stayed at home. I could have if I'd made a good hard kick."

That was a hard week for the 'varsity, for Coach Robey had every man on
the team, with the possible exceptions of Miller and Innes, guessing.
Men came in from the second squad, were tried out and usually let go
again. All sorts of shifts in the line and back-field were tried. On
Wednesday, Eric Sawyer, who had been looked on as a fixture at right
guard, found himself ousted by Gafferty, from the second, and a member
of the "bench brigade." Sawyer didn't like that at all. It was a
terrific blow to his pride and self-esteem, and for many days he was
like a bear with a sore head. As a matter of fact, although Sawyer
didn't suspect it, his deposal was in the nature of a taste of
discipline. Sawyer had been too certain of his place and had grown
careless. At the end of a week he went back again, with the warning that
he would have to show more than he had been showing if he was to stay
there. It was while he was still decorating the bench, however, that
Steve again fell foul of him.

The unseasonably warm weather held well into the middle of October, and
it was one evening a day or two after Sawyer's removal from the regular
line-up that Steve and Tom, rather fagged from an hour's study in a
close room, picked up Roy and Harry and went over to the gymnasium for a
dip in the tank. The swimming tank was a favourite resort of the younger
fellows between eight and ten at night, but, for some reason, the older
boys seldom appeared there in the evenings. To-night, though, when the
quartette, having changed into swimming trunks, reached the tank they
found five upper-class fellows swinging their bare legs from the side of
the pool and amusing themselves by criticising the antics of the
youngsters. There was Eric Sawyer, Jay Fowler and three others whom
neither Steve nor Tom knew save by sight. The tank was well populated,
for the warmth of the evening made the thought of cool water very
agreeable, and there was much noise and splashing going on.

Steve and Harry went in from the spring-board at the deeper end of the
pool, while Tom and Roy dived from the floor. A couple of tennis balls
were flying around in the tank and the newcomers were soon taking their
parts in the fun. Presently the group of older fellows, having grown
tired of guying the "kids," dived into the water. Getting possession of
one of the balls, they tried to keep it to themselves, and soon there
was a merry and good-natured battle on between the five big chaps on one
side and the younger occupants of the tank on the other. The echoing
room rang with laughter and excited cries as the contending sides swam
and floundered for the possession of the tennis ball. The big chaps had
their hands full, for they were outnumbered four to one, but age and
strength counted for them and not infrequently a youngster, rather than
undergo a ducking at ungentle hands, yielded the ball and swam away with
squeaks of terror. But there were others who fought valiantly enough,
taking punishment laughingly when it came and pressing the older
fellows closely. Steve was one of the more daring of the enemy and never
hesitated to dispute the possession of the ball with anyone. Once when
it came skipping along half the length of the tank, he went after it
hand over hand, only to miss it when Eric Sawyer reached it an instant
ahead of him. Sawyer, grinning, drew back the hand holding the tennis
ball.

"Want it, kid?" he asked.

Steve, guessing what was coming, dived, but he was not quick enough and
the ball landed with a round smack on his right ear. A wet tennis ball,
thrown from the distance of a few feet, is capable of hurting
considerably, and Steve, dashing the water from his face, felt very much
as though he had been kicked by a mule and had difficulty in keeping the
tears from his eyes.

"Get it?" laughed Sawyer.

"Yes, and so will you," gasped Steve. The ball lay bobbing about a yard
away and he grabbed it. Sawyer turned and struck out across the tank,
only his head above water. Steve, thoroughly angry, aimed at him,
changed his mind and swam after him, to the awed delight of the others.
Sawyer, thinking he had removed himself from danger, turned at the side
of the tank to look back. The next thing he knew the ball struck him
fairly on the nose, and, with a howl of pain and surprise, he
disappeared under the water.

"Swim, Edwards!" shrieked the youngsters. "He'll get you!"

Steve did turn away, but it seemed too much like running and so he
paused, treading water there, while the angry face of Sawyer popped into
view again. The ball had bounded away and been captured by one of the
youngsters, but Sawyer didn't look for it. With a leap he started toward
Steve. The latter realised that Sawyer meant to wreak vengeance, and
that the matter had got past the stage of fun. Here, it seemed, was a
time when discretion was the better part of valour, and Steve dived.

Fortunately, he was a good swimmer. Turning quickly under water, he
raced toward the far end of the tank. Dimly he heard shouts and laughter
above, but he didn't come to the surface until twenty long strokes had
taken him far away from where Sawyer, at a loss, was casting about the
middle of the tank for him. His reappearance was heralded by shouts of
applause from the younger fellows, many of whom, scenting real trouble,
had scrambled out of the water. Sawyer, warned of Steve's whereabouts,
looked down the tank, saw him and started pell-mell after him. Again
Steve went under, swam cautiously toward the side until he could see the
white tiles within reach and then edged back the way he had come. He
tried to reach the shallow end of the tank before taking breath, but the
effort was too great, and when he stuck his head out for an instant he
found that those at the edge of the tank had been following his
under-water progress and were shouting and laughing down at him from
above. More than that, however, their interest had appraised Sawyer of
his whereabouts, and even as Steve, blinking the water from his eyes and
replenishing his lungs, looked about him, his pursuer almost reached
him.

Scorning concealment now, Steve made straight for the shallow end of the
pool. Swimming like his was a revelation to many of those who saw it and
a hearty burst of applause followed him all the way to the ladder, which
he gained several yards in advance of Sawyer. Steve darted up the rungs
and ran to the side of the tank, the fellows scattering out of his path.
Sawyer pulled himself out of the water and followed, puffing with anger
and exertion.

"Oh, let him go, Eric," advised Fowler. "You can't catch him."

"Yes, forget it," advised others.

But Sawyer had no idea of forgetting it. "I'll break his silly head for
him," he growled as he followed Steve around the edge. Then began a
chase that was both exciting and amusing. Egged on by the laughing
spectators the two boys raced around the pool, Steve managing to keep
always one lap ahead, slowing down when Sawyer showed signs of faltering
and sprinting when the older boy, gathering fresh energy, went on again.
It was a stern chase with a vengeance and might have lasted all night or
until one or the other dropped in his tracks had not one of Sawyer's
comrades taken a hand in the game.

Steve, breathing hard but good for many more circuits of the track, came
trotting along one side of the pool where the youth in question stood
with Fowler. There was a clear space of three feet between him and the
edge, but just as Steve drew abreast the older chap stepped forward in
his path, and Steve, trying to dodge around him, slipped on the tiling
and fell sidewise into the water. Sawyer, with a grunt of triumph,
plunged in from the opposite edge and was on Steve in a twinkling.

"Now, you fresh kid," exclaimed Sawyer angrily, seizing Steve's neck in
a big hand as soon as his head came up, "you're going to get what's
coming to you!"

Steve, battling for breath, gasping and gurgling, tried to wrench away,
but the clasp on his neck was too strong for his efforts and down he
went, squirming and struggling, until his head was under water. He
managed to reach around and get a grip of Sawyer's bathing trunks, but
that was small advantage. The big fellow had him at his mercy. Steve's
head was throbbing when at last he was allowed to lift it out of the
water again, gasping for breath. But the grip on his neck didn't relax.
He was conscious that the laughter had died away, conscious of Sawyer's
grinning face beside him, and then down he was plunged again without
warning, just managing to draw a little breath into his aching lungs
before the water closed over him. It seemed that his tormentor held him
down longer this time, and when, at last, he found the lights in his
eyes again and could breathe once more, he was ready to give up the
struggle. He had long since released his hold on Sawyer's trunks, and
now his hands were clasped desperately about the other boy's wrists. And
yet when Sawyer's growling voice said in his ear, "Had enough, kid? Beg
my pardon?" Steve managed to shake his head.

"Want more, eh?" asked Sawyer. "All right, kid!" The clasp on his neck
tightened again and he felt himself being once more thrust downward. And
then, suddenly, he was free, and when, fighting his way back to the
surface, he looked dazedly, there was Tom clinging to Sawyer's neck,
thrashing and squirming.

"You let him be, you big bully!" Tom was saying. "You let him be!"

"Let go of my neck, you silly little fool!" gasped Sawyer, striving to
break the boy's hold.

"You let him be!" gurgled Tom, half-drowned but clinging like a limpet.
"You let him be, you big bully!"

Then the two went under and Steve, recovering his breath, wrenched them
apart somehow and pulled poor Tom to the side of the tank. Sawyer,
breathing with difficulty after Tom's choking grasp about his neck,
floundered to the edge, got a sustaining grip on the rim of the tank and
glared angrily at the two boys.

"I'll get you for this, you smart Alecks," he declared chokingly.
"You're too fresh, both of you. Don't you know better than to grab a
fellow around the neck in the water, you fool kid?"

But Tom was too far gone to answer. "That's what you did, isn't it?"
Steve demanded. "That's a funny way to talk!"

"It is, is it?" sneered Sawyer. "I'll show you something that is funny
some time, and don't you forget it!"

Still growling, he swam away toward the nearer ladder, while Steve, with
Roy and Harry and others helping, lifted Tom out of the tank and then
followed himself. Tom was very, very sick there for a minute and the
younger fellows were properly sympathetic and indignant. Presently they
half carried Tom back to the locker room and helped him into his
clothes, and then, Roy and Harry in attendance, Steve conveyed him back
to Billings and laid him on his bed, a very weak but now quite cheerful
Tom.

"He nearly drowned me, didn't he?" he asked with a grin. "But I choked
him good, you bet! Bet you his old neck will be sore for a week,
fellows!"

"You want to keep away from him for awhile," said Harry with a direful
shake of his head. "He's a mean chap when he's mad."

"Huh!" grunted Tom. "So'm I!"



CHAPTER XIV

A LESSON IN TACKLING


One direct result of that affair in the tank was that Steve found
himself something of a school celebrity because of his swimming prowess.
Within a few days he had good-naturedly agreed to give instruction to
some half-dozen acquaintances and might have taken on a half-dozen more
had he had the time for it. But there was only an odd hour or two during
the day for swimming and he soon found that, although he got a good deal
of fun out of instructing the others, it was taking too much of his
time. It was Roy's suggestion--Roy being one of the most enthusiastic
pupils--that those who wanted instruction should be on hand at a given
hour each day. The suggestion was adopted, and Edwards's Swimming Class
soon became a recognised institution. Five o'clock was the hour set, at
which time the tank was not much used, and Steve, having returned from
football practice, donned swimming trunks and repaired to the pool where
he usually found from four to a dozen boys awaiting him, since, by
attending to them all at once, he could look after a dozen as easily as
a few. Most of the pupils were boys of from thirteen to seventeen,
although there were two older fellows in the class, Jay Fowler and
Hatherton Williams. Both were Sixth Formers and both were football men.
Mr. Conklin, the physical director, gave enthusiastic endorsement and
encouragement. Brimfield had never supplied instruction in swimming,
something which the director had long regretted, and Mr. Conklin, could
he have had his way, would have made attendance at Steve's swimming
class compulsory for the younger boys and so have instituted a new
feature in the course of physical instruction. But Steve, willing to
teach a few fellows who could already swim the finer points of the
science, balked at teaching the rudiments to a half-hundred water-shy
youths who would have to be coaxed and coddled. Mr. Conklin tried his
best to persuade him, but Steve refused firmly.

They had a whole lot of fun during that swimming hour. Fowler and a
younger chap named Toll were the more accomplished performers in the
class, barring Steve himself, and every session ended with several very
earnest races in which Fowler, allowing Toll a five-yard handicap,
usually nosed out the younger boy in a contest of four times the length
of the tank. Then there was generally a free-for-all, the fellows lining
up on the edge of the pool, diving at the word from Steve and swimming
to the further end, where, after touching the wall, they turned and
hustled back to the start. Sometimes when football practice had been
more than usually gruelling, Steve stayed out of the water and
instructed from the floor, but more often he went in with the others and
followed them in their practice swims. Naturally it was the fancy diving
and the racing strokes that most of the fellows wanted to learn, but
Steve, who had never in his life before tried to teach anyone anything,
displayed a good deal of hard common-sense as an instructor and insisted
that each of his pupils should master one thing thoroughly before taking
up another. The result was that, barring one or two fellows who would
probably in any case have failed to become expert swimmers, the class
made really remarkable progress, and there came a time, although it was
considerably later in the school year, when both Jay Fowler and
Hatherton Williams could equal most of Steve's feats.

Tom started with the class, wisely deciding after his experience with
Eric Sawyer that the ability to keep one's head out of water was a fine
thing to have. But Tom was not cut out for a human fish and soon gave it
up. Roy Draper learned fairly well. He tried to induce Harry to join the
class, but Harry preferred to stay with Tom and look on from the floor.
When winter set in, Steve's class increased in numbers until in January
he was conducting the natatory education of more than two dozen fellows.
It was Mr. Conklin who arranged for an exhibition the latter part of the
winter and Steve was very proud of his pupils' work on that occasion. It
was held one Saturday afternoon and everyone attended, including even
"Josh," more formally known as Mr. Joshua Fernald, the principal. There
was fancy diving and swimming, a short game of water polo and all kinds
of races, beside which Steve showed some six or eight different strokes,
swam the length of the tank under water and performed other quite
startling feats to the delight of his audience. Mr. Fernald shook hands
with him afterwards and said several very nice things. But all this is
far beyond my story, and I am only telling of it because it led the
following autumn to the installation of a swimming instructor at
Brimfield and the addition of swimming to the list of "required studies"
for the boys of the four lower forms. The instructor came to the school
twice a week and put in two very busy hours there. So you see that
fracas between Steve and Eric Sawyer that evening strangely enough
resulted in important consequences and, since a knowledge of swimming is
a most useful one, worked for good.

But there were other consequences of that fracas as well, and I must get
back to those. Larchville Academy followed Miter Hill on Brimfield's
schedule and administered the first defeat of the season to the
Maroon-and-Grey. It wasn't so much that Brimfield played poorly as that
Larchville played unusually well. The visitors presented an aggregation
of big, well-trained youths who, most of them having been on their team
the previous year, were far in advance of Brimfield in the matter of
season development. Larchville's performance was what one might expect
in November, but scarcely looked for in the second week of October. Her
men played together all the time and her team-work stood out in strong
contrast to that of Brimfield, who had scarcely begun as yet to develop
such a thing. The final score was 17 to 3, and the only consolation was
found in the fact that Larchville's end of it might well have been much
larger. Brimfield's three points came as the result of one really
brilliant advance for half the length of the field followed by a neat
place-kick by Williams. The rest of the game was very much Larchville,
and Brimfield was on the defence most of the time.

And, to give credit where it belongs, it was Eric Sawyer who, back in
his position at right guard, held his side of the line firm on two
anxious occasions when Larchville was striving to hammer out touchdowns
under the shadow of her opponent's goal. On the whole, Brimfield played
good football that day and no one justly came in for adverse criticism.
Captain Miller, at left end, was spectacular under punts and played his
usual hard, steady game. Innes at centre was impregnable until the final
period. Williams, if a trifle weaker than his opponent, made up for it
by scoring the three points for his side. Benson, at right end, was less
successful than Captain Miller, but was good on the defence. The
back-field, although inclined to go it "every man for himself," showed
up well, especially when the enemy was in possession of the ball.
Milton, the first-choice quarter-back, ran the team like a general,
while Norton, the big full-back, proved the only consistent gainer
through the line. In spite of the fact that she had met with defeat,
Brimfield found encouragement in that contest, and, after the first few
minutes of regrets, spent the rest of the day unstintedly praising her
warriors.

There was only light practice the following Monday for those who had
taken part in the Saturday game, a fact which once more allowed Coach
Robey to give a good deal of attention to the second and third squads.
Steve was playing right end regularly now on the third, and Tom was
alternating at left guard on the second. The third squad was now down to
only eleven members, and when, after a hard hour of signal work and
fundamentals, the second and third were lined up for a ten-minute
scrimmage, Marvin had to borrow substitutes as needed from the second.
There was no scoring that day, but there was an awful lot of hard work.
Steve made one or two good plays down the field, but, as usual, was weak
on stopping the runner when he reached him. After they were dismissed,
Marvin stopped him as he was trotting off with the others.

"I say, Edwards, are you very tired?" he asked.

"N-no, I guess not," Steve replied.

"Then I wish you'd stay out a few minutes and let me try to show you
about tackling." Steve glanced distastefully at the dummy and doubtfully
at Marvin. But the latter smiled and shook his head. "Never mind the
dummy, Edwards," he said. "We'll have our fun right here. I'm going to
be the dummy and you're to stop me. Did they take all the balls away?
Never mind, we'll imagine the ball. Now, first of all I'm going to show
you how I'd handle you if you were the runner. Stand where you are,
please."

Marvin dropped in front of Steve and threw his arms about his legs just
above the knees. "There's your position, Edwards," he explained. "You
see I have my body in front of you. You've not only got to work against
my grip around your legs but you've got to push against my weight and
resistance. Try it."

Steve did try it, but he could only shuffle an inch or two.

"See?" asked Marvin. "Now, then, having tackled you, it's up to me to
put you down. If I let you come forward of your own impetus you'll fall
toward my goal, and by stretching out your arms you'll put the ball two
yards nearer the goal than where you stand. Of course you wouldn't risk
holding the ball at arms' length unless there was a possibility of
getting it across a goal-line by doing it. But even if you hold the ball
at your stomach you'll gain a yard by falling forward. Now my play is
to throw you the other way--like this!"

With a heave Marvin sent Steve toppling backward, much to that youth's
surprise. Marvin jumped lightly to his feet, held out a hand to the
other and pulled him up.

"See how it's done?" he asked cheerfully. "Now you try it. Never mind
diving; just drop where you are on your hip. That's it! Swing your arms
around tight! Higher up, though. Remember if you're playing end the
rules prohibit you from tackling a runner below the knees. That's
better. Now, then, over with me!"

But it wasn't so easy. Marvin, smuggling an imaginary ball in his arms,
struggled and twisted and it was all Steve could do to keep him from
gaining ground, to say nothing of throwing him back.

[Illustration: "Lift!" instructed the quarter-back. "Lift me up and yank
my feet out from under me! Use your weight and throw me back!"]

"Lift!" instructed the quarter-back. "Lift me up and yank my feet out
from under me! Use your weight and throw me back!"

But in trying to lift the other, Steve allowed Marvin to slip past him
and the quarter fell forward instead of backward.

"Try again," said Marvin. "It's got to be all one motion, so to say,
Edwards. Get your man, wrap your arms around him and heave. Sometimes
you can't do better than stop him. If he's coming hard, you won't be
able to put him back. He's got to be more or less erect to make that go.
But do it whenever you can. Now, then, once more! Down you go! That's
the stuff! Bully work! Don't be afraid of hurting me! _Put me back!_"

Steve actually did it that time and was so pleased that he was grinning
all over his face when Marvin scrambled to his feet again.

"That was a lot better. Once get the idea fixed in your head, Edwards,
and it'll come easy. You'll do it without a thought. Once more now, and
put some ginger into it. Here I come!"

Marvin walked a couple of steps forward, Steve dropped and gripped his
knees, heaved and over went the quarter. A dozen times Marvin made him
practise it, and then,

"All right," he said. "Now I'm going to run toward you, Edwards. I'm
going to get by you if I can, too. You've got to do your best to stop
me. Don't try any flying tackles, and remember that you've got to have
one foot on the ground when you get me. All right now!"

Steve was glad they had the gridiron practically to themselves, for he
cut a poor figure the first three times that he tried to reach the
elusive quarter-back. Once Marvin caught him with a straight arm and
sent him toppling out of his path, once Marvin dodged him completely,
twirling on one heel and darting past him beyond reach, and once the
little quarter-back wrenched himself loose after being tackled. But the
fourth time Steve was more successful, and after that he reached the
runner every time even if he didn't always stop him short. Even when
Steve had his arms gripped tightly about Marvin's knees, the latter was
almost always able to somehow make another yard or two before he was
willing to call "Down!" But Steve learned more in that half-hour than he
had learned all the season, and when, after awhile, the two boys,
panting and perspiring but satisfied with themselves, walked back to the
gymnasium, Steve had the grace to thank Marvin.

"That's all right," replied the other. "I knew you could play the game,
Edwards, if you could once get the hang of making a decent tackle. And I
knew, too, that the trouble with you was that you'd just sort of made up
your mind that you couldn't learn, that you didn't understand what I've
been trying to show you. There won't be any third squad after the middle
of the week, Edwards, and if you hadn't shown something more than
you've been showing in the tackling line I couldn't conscientiously have
sent you up to the second."

"That was mighty decent," muttered Steve.

"Well, you mustn't take it as a personal favour, Edwards," answered
Marvin with a smile, "although I'm glad to do it for you. You see, I
don't want to let any good material get away. And I think you are good
material, and if there was any possibility of your being of use to the
second squad I wanted to get you there. Now, to-morrow we'll have
another go at it, and the next day too, and every day until you can
tackle a runner as well as you can handle a ball or play in the line. Is
that a bargain?"

"Yes," replied Steve heartily. "And thanks, Marvin."



CHAPTER XV

STEVE WINNOWS SOME CHAFF


Two days later the third squad ceased to be and all but four of its
members retired to private life. Of those four, one was Steve. Steve
went on to the second team as substitute end. With him went Carmine,
Peters and Saunders, while from the second a batch of half-a-dozen
youths disappeared. That was the eighteenth of October. The candidates
who had survived this final cut were safe to finish the season out. Of
them some twenty-four were on the 'varsity and sixteen on the second.
The preliminary season was ended, and with the next game, that with
Benton Military College, which was to be played at Hastings-on-Sound,
the serious work might be said to begin.

The second, under Brownell, became a separate aggregation, moved to its
own training table in the dining-hall, had its own signals and practised
on its own gridiron. It even had its own coach, for a graduate named
Boutelle--soon shortened to "Boots"--appeared on the scene and took
command. "Boots" was a rather large man of thirty-odd years who had
graduated from Brimfield before the days of football there. He had
learned the game very thoroughly, however, at college, and was
enthusiastically eager to impart his knowledge. He was a friend of Mr.
Robey, and it was understood that he was giving his services as a favour
to the head coach. But it was soon evident that he was thoroughly
enjoying it, and he entered into his task with heart and soul. In fact
he was so anxious to develop a good team that one of the first things he
did was to unwittingly fall foul of the faculty. The third day there he
announced that until further notice there would be morning practice
between ten and twelve for all who could attend it. Morning practice
lasted one day. Then faculty drew the attention of Mr. Boutelle to the
rule which forbade the use of the athletic field to students during
recitation hours. Mr. Boutelle was disgusted and tried to argue about it
with the principal, but had to give in finally. But in spite of being
required to limit practice to the afternoon hours, the second came fast
and there were some very pretty games between it and the 'varsity in
those days.

Steve started in as a second choice right end, a chap named Sherrard
having first claim to the position. Tom was plugging along at right
guard and doing well. He was a trifle light for the place, but he was a
steady player and a heady one and it took him less than a fortnight to
oust his rival from the position. Tom was a surprise both to himself and
to Steve. Steve had never taken his chum very seriously as a football
player, probably because Tom was not the spectacular sort, but he was
forced to acknowledge now that the latter had beaten him at his own
game!

The members of the second didn't see the Benton game for the reason that
"Boots" wouldn't consider it at all. What, waste an afternoon looking on
when they might be holding practice? Not if he knew it! But the absence
of some sixteen members of the second team didn't keep Brimfield from
being well represented at that contest, for most every other fellow in
school journeyed across to Hastings-on-Sound with the 'varsity and
witnessed a very good, if in one way unsatisfactory, game. For Brimfield
and Benton tussled with each other through four ten-minute periods
without a score. Perhaps Benton had slightly the better of the argument,
although not many Brimfieldians would acknowledge it. At least, it is
true that Benton came nearer to scoring than her adversary when, on
Brimfield's five-yard line, she lost possession of the ball by a fumble.
On the other hand, Brimfield tried one field-goal from an impossible
angle and missed.

The next Monday, with several of the regulars out of the 'varsity
line-up, the second won a 6 to 0 victory, and "Boots," choosing to
ignore the 'varsity's weakness on that occasion, requested the second to
observe what could be accomplished by making the most of their
opportunities to practice! The fellows, quite as well pleased as their
coach, although not taking to themselves so much credit as he accorded
them, smiled, and said, "Yes, sir," very politely and winked amongst
themselves. But they liked "Boots"; liked him for his enthusiasm and for
the tireless energy he displayed in their behalf. If you can't make the
'varsity it is at least something to be able to help develop it, and
that is what the second was doing, very loyally and gladly. And when in
the process of aiding in its development it was possible to beat it, the
second shook hands with itself and was cock-o'-the-walk for days after!

Steve, like most others on the second, had relinquished hope of getting
on the 'varsity. A month ago he would have scornfully refused to
consider anything less than a position on the first team, but Steve had
had his eyes opened not a little. There _was_ a difference between the
sort of football played by Brimfield and the kind played by the
Tannersville High School team, and Steve now recognised the fact.
Perhaps he secretly still thought himself deserving of a place on the
'varsity--frankly, I think he did--but whereas a month ago he would not
have hesitated to make the fact known, he had since learned that at
Brimfield it was not considered good form to blow your own horn, as the
saying is.

But if he was disappointed at falling short of the final goal of his
ambition, he was nevertheless having a very good time on the second.
There was a lot of fine fellows there and the spirit of camaraderie was
strong, and grew stronger as the season progressed. The second was
perhaps almost as proud of their organisation as was the 'varsity of
theirs, and when, the week after the Benton game, they once defeated and
twice tied the other team, you might have thought they had vanquished
Claflin, so haughty and stuck-up did they become!

Steve played under a severe handicap that week, for once more he and
"Uncle Sim" were at outs. With Mr. Daley's assistance and encouragement,
and by a really earnest period of application on his own part, he had
successfully weathered the previous storm and had even been taken into
Mr. Simkins' good graces. But football is a severe taskmaster, if one
allows it to become such, and what with a strong desire to distinguish
himself on the second--animated to some extent by the wish to show Mr.
Robey what he had missed for the 'varsity--and a commendable effort to
profit by Marvin's teaching, he had soon begun to ease up on his Greek
and Latin, which were for him the most difficult of his courses. And now
"Uncle Sim" was down on him again, as Steve put it, and on the eve of
the Cherry Valley contest he was in a fair way to have trouble with the
Office. Mr. Simkins' patience, perhaps never very long, was about
exhausted. He had reason on his side, however, for Steve was by no means
the only student who was in difficulties at that time. On Friday morning
Mr. Simkins had indulged in sarcasm.

"Well, well," he said, leaning back in his chair and folding his hands,
"I dare say it is too much to require you young gentlemen to study when
it is such fine weather for football. What a pity it is that lessons and
play conflict, is it not, Wilson?"

Wilson was too canny to make audible reply, however, and the instructor
proceeded blandly.

"I wonder if Mr. Fernald would postpone recitations until after you
have finished football for the year. I think I'll suggest it to him.
For, really, you know, this sort of thing is only wasting my time; and
yours too, young gentlemen, for you might be out kicking a
leather-covered bag of wind around the ground instead of sitting here
cudgelling your poor brains--eh? Let us say heads, rather. The evidence
is too slight to warrant the use of the first word--cudgelling your
heads, then, trying to 'fake' lessons you've never looked at. I
sympathise with you deeply. I commiserate. I--I am almost moved to
tears. My heart goes out to you, young gentlemen."

Mr. Simkins looked so sad and woebegone that the older boys, who knew
him well, trembled in their shoes. The room was very silent. With Mr.
Simkins the storm was always in proportion to the calm, and the present
calm was indeed portentous. The instructor fought for a moment with his
emotions. Then he sighed.

"Well, until we have permission to discard recitations, I presume we
must go on with them, such as they are." His gaze roved sympathetically
over the class, most of whom showed a strong desire to escape his
attention. Finally, "Edwards," he said softly and, as it seemed to
Steve, maliciously, "let us proceed with the dull and untimely lesson.
Kindly translate the tiresome utterances of this ignorant man who
preferred wisdom and eloquence to athletics and football, Edwards. You
may begin where your--hm--brilliant predecessor regretfully left off.
For the moment, pray, detach your thoughts from the verdant meadows and
the sprightly football, Edwards. And--ah--don't, _please_ don't tell me
that you are not prepared. Somehow that phrase afflicts my ears,
Edwards, and were you to make use of it I should, I fear, be driven
to--ah--strong measures. Now, Edwards, if you will be so kind."

Well, Steve was _not_ prepared, as it happened, but he knew better than
to say so, and, putting on an expression of confidence and pleasure as
though Mr. Simkins had offered him the rarest of privileges, he plunged
bravely into a paragraph of Cicero's Orations. But it was hard going and
he was soon stumbling and hesitating, casting about desperately for
words. A long, deep sigh travelled from the platform.

"That will do, Edwards," said Mr. Simkins sorrowfully. "Your rendering
is novel and interesting. It is, possibly, an improvement on the
original matter, but the question very naturally arises, Edwards,
whether we have the right to improve on Cicero. Of course he had his
limitations, Edwards, and his faults, and yet"--Mr. Simkins shook his
head slowly and thoughtfully--"on the whole, Edwards, I think perhaps we
should accept him as we find him, viewing his faults with a leniency
becoming great minds, tolerating much, Edwards, for the sake of
the--ah--occasional golden kernel to be detected in his mass of chaff by
such giant intellects as yours. You _do_ detect an occasional kernel of
sense, Edwards?"

Steve, miserably pretending a huge interest in the cover of his book,
forebore to reply.

"You don't?" Mr. Simkins seemed both pained and surprised. "But I assure
you they are there, Edwards, few in number perchance, but really to be
found. Perhaps--hm--perhaps it would be a pleasant, at all events a
profitable, occupation for you to make an earnest search for them. If
you will see me after class, Edwards, I shall esteem it a pleasure to
indicate a few pages of chaff for you to winnow. Thank you. Pray be
seated."

That was why Steve was in anything but an enviable frame of mind that
Friday evening. Mr. Simkins had pointed out exactly four pages of chaff
for his winnowing, and the winnowing was to be done with pen and ink and
the "occasional golden kernels" indicated by Steve on the margin of his
paper. Steve was angry and depressed.

"What's the use of trying to get along with him?" he demanded of Tom.
"He has it in for me, and even if I had every lesson down pat he'd be
after me all the time just the same. If it wasn't for--for the team I'd
quit right now."

"Don't be a chump," replied Tom good-naturedly. "You know yourself,
Steve, you haven't been studying lately."

"Well, where's a fellow to get time to study?" asked Steve. "Look at
what I have to do this evening!"

"You won't do it if you don't sit down and get started," said his chum
soothingly. "You tackle the other stuff and then I'll help you with that
Latin. I guess we can get through it together."

"It'll take me an hour to do those six pages," grumbled Steve. "I wish
Simkins would choke!"

Steve got by on Saturday, with difficulty, but had a hard time of it
when the instructor requested him to give his reasons for selecting
certain passages of the immortal Cicero as being worthy of especial
commendation. The rest of the class found it very amusing, but Steve
failed to discern any humour in the proceedings. Fortunately, Mr.
Simkins was merciful and Steve's martyrdom was of short duration. After
that, for a few days at least, Steve's Latin was much better, if not the
best.

The game with Cherry Valley deserves only passing mention. Viewed
beforehand as a severe test of the Brimfield team's defence, the contest
proved a walkover for the Maroon-and-Grey, the final score standing 27
to 6. Cherry Valley was weak in all departments of the game, and her
single score, a touchdown made in the fourth period, was hammered out
when all but two of the Brimfield players were first and second
substitutes. Of Brimfield's tallies two were due to the skill of
Hatherton Williams, who twice placed the pigskin over the bar for
field-goals, once from the twenty-five yards and once from near the
forty. The Brimfield backs showed up better than at any time in the
season, and Norton and Kendall gained almost at will. There was still
much to criticise and Mr. Robey was far from satisfied with the work of
the eleven as a whole, but the school in general was vastly pleased.
Coming a week after that disappointing 0 to 0 game with the military
academy, the Cherry Hill game was decidedly encouraging.

So far Erie Sawyer had treated both Steve and Tom with silent contempt
whenever he encountered them, although his scowls told them that they
were by no means forgiven. Naturally, since Eric was on the 'varsity and
the two chums on the second, they saw each other practically every
afternoon on the field or in the gymnasium. But it wasn't difficult to
avoid a real meeting where so many others were about. Roy Draper
pretended to think that Eric was only biding his time, waiting for an
opportunity to murder the two in cold blood, and delighted to draw
gruesome pictures of the ultimate fate of his friends.

"I guess what he will really do," he said on the Sunday afternoon
following the Cherry Valley game when he and Harry Westcott were in
Number 12 Billings, "is to decoy you both over to the Sound some fine
day and drown you."

"Just how will he manage it?" asked Tom, who was tumbling everything in
the room about in his search for a mislaid book.

"He will probably tie heavy weights to your necks and drop you into a
deep hole in the ocean," replied Roy promptly. "Then you will be eaten
by sharks."

"And what would we be doing all the time he was tying the weights to
us?" asked Steve sarcastically.

"Nothing, because he'd chloroform you first," returned Roy triumphantly,
much pleased with his readiness. "You'd be insensible."

"Meaning without sense," murmured Harry. "It wouldn't take much
chloroform."

"Huh! Don't you talk!" said Steve. "You'll never have brain-fever!"

"Ha!" scoffed Harry. "Sarcasm, the refuge of small intellects!"

"Come on," said Tom. "It's nearly three-thirty. Bother Sawyer, anyway.
He's not troubling me any."

"That's all right," replied Roy, as he got up from the window-seat, "but
when you wake up some fine morning and find yourself bathed in your own
life's blood you'll wish you'd listened to me."

"I can't help listening to you. You talk all the time. Besides, I
shouldn't call it a fine morning if I woke up dead. I--I'd think it was
a very disagreeable day! Are you coming, Steve?"

"I suppose so," replied Steve with a groan. "I wish practice was in
Halifax, though. I'm tired to-day." He got up from his bed, on which he
had been lying in defiance of the rules, and stretched himself with a
yawn.

"You'll be tireder when the first gets through with us," said Tom
grimly. "Robey will sick all his subs on us to-day, I guess; and subs
always think they have to kill you just to show how good they are."

"If anyone tries any funny-business with me to-day he will get in
trouble," growled Steve as he pulled his cap on and followed the others
through the door. "I just hope someone will try it on!"

Tom's prediction proved correct. The first-string men were given easy
practice and faced the second for only ten minutes in scrimmage. Then
they were trotted off to the gymnasium and the 'varsity substitutes took
their places. Steve relieved Sherrard at right end in the second period
and played so poorly that he received more than one "calling-down" by
"Boots." His temper seemed to be in a very ragged condition to-day, and
he and Lacey, who played at left tackle on the first, got into several
rumpuses in which hands were used in a manner not countenanced by the
rules of football. Finally, Steve was sent off to make way for a second
substitute, who played the position so well during the few minutes that
remained that Steve became even more disgruntled. When practice was over
he joined Tom, Roy and Harry--the latter pair having watched proceedings
from the stand--and made his way to the gymnasium in a very poor state
of mind. Roy, who didn't believe in humouring folks, tried to twit Steve
on his "scrapping" with Lacey, but Steve flared up on the instant and
Roy was glad to change the subject. After that, Steve was gloomily
silent until the gymnasium was reached.

As chance had it, the first-string fellows had just completed dressing
and begun to leave the building as the others arrived there, and Steve,
leading the way through the big door, collided with a boy who was on his
way out. There was really plenty of room for the two to pass each other,
but Steve was not in a frame of mind to give way to anyone and the
result was that the other chap received the full force of Steve's
shoulder.

"Who are you shoving?" demanded an angry voice.

Steve turned and confronted Eric Sawyer. "Don't take all the room if you
don't want to be shoved," answered Steve belligerently. Eric was
accompanied by a younger fellow, who instantly withdrew to the safety of
the further side of the hall. "You're too big, anyway," continued Steve.
Tom and the others, at his heels in the open doorway, gasped and stared
at Steve in amazement. Eric's countenance depicted a similar emotion for
an instant, and I think he, too, gasped. Then he sprang forward and
gave Steve a push that sent him staggering away from the door.

"You fresh kid!" he growled. "You keep out of my way after this or
you'll get hurt. I've stood about all of your nonsense I mean to!"

Steve leaped back with clenched hands and flashing eyes, but Harry
stepped between, while Tom and Roy caught hold of Steve.

"That'll be about all, Sawyer," said Harry quietly. "You can't fight a
fellow a head smaller than you, you know."

"Don't you butt in," growled Eric. "I don't intend to fight him, but
I'll give him a mighty good spanking if he bothers me any more. Come on,
Whipple."

Steve, struggling against the grasps and pleas of Tom and Roy, strove to
get between Eric Sawyer and the door. "Spank me, will you?" he said
angrily. "You let me be, you fellows! Take your hands off me! I'll show
him he can't push me around!"

"I won't push you the next time," laughed Eric contemptuously. "I'll
turn you over my knee! You, too, you other freshie." He glared at Tom,
but Tom was too busy with Steve to make reply. "You want to both of you
keep away from me after this."

And, with a final scowl, Eric went out, followed by his companion who
ventured a weak and ingratiating smile as he passed. By that time the
hall was half-full of curious spectators, and Steve, finding his enemy
gone, allowed himself to be conducted to the stairway.

"I'm not through with him yet," he declared. "I'll teach him to push me
around like that!"

"Oh, cut it!" said Roy disgustedly. "Don't be a silly ass, Steve. You
began it yourself and you got what was coming to you. A nice fight you
would put up against Sawyer!"

"It's no affair of yours," replied Steve hotly. "No one asked you to
butt in on it, anyway. You too, Tom! The next time you keep out of my
affairs. Do you understand?"

Tom said nothing, but Roy shrugged his shoulders as they entered the
locker room. "If you want to make a fool of yourself, all right, Steve.
I won't interfere again. Don't worry."

"I'm no more of a fool than you are," responded Steve. "You fellows make
me sick. Just because Sawyer's a little bigger, you let him kick you all
over the shop."

"He's never kicked me," drawled Harry. "But if he tried to I'd run. I
may not be a hero, but I know what's what! Put your head under the cold
water tap, Steve."

Steve replied to that advice with a scowl, and Harry and Roy turned back
to make their way upstairs again and across to Torrence.

"He acted like a silly kid," said Roy crossly.

"Yes, he was in a beast of a temper to-day, anyway. Wonder what's the
matter with him. He's like a bear with a sore head. He had pluck to
stand up to Sawyer, though. I'd have run."

"So would he, probably, if he hadn't been so mad," chuckled Roy. "You
can be awfully brave if you get mad enough!" Then he added more
seriously: "Sawyer will get him some day surely, after this."

"Oh, Sawyer isn't as bad as he's painted, I guess," replied Harry. "The
trouble with Steve is that he's pig-headed or something."

"He fancies himself a bit," said Roy. "He will get over it after he's
been here longer. You can't help liking him, though, and I'll be sorry
if he gets out."

"Why should he get out?" asked Harry in surprise.

Roy shrugged. "Maybe he won't, but he will if he doesn't get a hunch
and buckle down to study. 'Uncle Sim' has got it in for him hard. Some
fine day Steve will get an invitation to the Cottage, Josh will tell him
a few things, Steve will get lumpy and--good-night! You see if it
doesn't turn out that way."

"Why the dickens doesn't he study, then?" grumbled Harry. "He's got
brains enough."

"Oh, sure, he's got the brains," answered Roy as he held open the door
at Torrence, "but he hasn't discovered yet that there's someone else to
think of besides Steve. If he doesn't want to do a thing he
won't--unless he's made to. Look at the way he played to-day! Just
because he felt lumpy he didn't think it was worth while to do anything
but scrap with that other chap. Folks won't stand for that very long and
some day Steve will wake up with a bang!"

"You going over to swim?" asked Harry when they had reached their room.

Roy shook his head gently. "Not this afternoon, I think, thanking you
just the same. I'd be afraid Steve would pull me under water and drown
me!" Roy chuckled as he seated himself and, thrusting his hands in his
trousers pockets, surveyed his shoes smilingly. "Poor old Steve! He's in
for a heap of trouble, I guess, before he gets ready to settle down as
a useful member of our charming little community."

"Seems to me," said Harry, "about the best thing you do to-day is
predict trouble for folks. You're as bad as What's-his-name's raven; you
croak."

"The gentleman's name was Poe," returned Roy sweetly. "But perhaps
you've never studied American literature."

"I thought Poe was a football hero at Princeton or somewhere," laughed
Harry. "What did he ever do for American literature?"

"American history was more in his line," replied Roy. "Football history.
Find your ball and let's go down and pass. I won't croak a single,
solitary croak, old thing."



CHAPTER XVI

MR. DALEY IS OUT


The reason for Steve's ill-temper was the receipt that morning of a
letter from his father. Mr. Edwards wrote that he had just been informed
by the principal that Steve's work was far from satisfactory. "He tells
me," wrote Mr. Edwards, "that your general attitude toward your studies
is careless and that in Latin especially you are not keeping up with
your class. Now I can't be worried by this sort of thing. I give you
fair warning that if you don't mend your ways you'll be taken out of
school and put to work here in the office, and there won't be any more
talk about college. If Mr. Fernald had said you were not able to do the
work, that would be another thing, but he distinctly accuses you of not
trying and not caring. I suppose the whole amount of the matter is that
you're paying too much attention to football. If I get another complaint
about you this year I shall write Mr. Fernald to forbid you to play
football or any other game until you show that you mean business. If
that doesn't bring you around I shall take you out of school. Fair
warning, Steve."

Steve knew his father well enough to be certain that he would do just as
he threatened, and the future looked particularly dark to him that day.
Of course, if he had plenty of time he could master his Latin--and his
Greek, which was troubling him less but was by no means a favourite
course--as well as any other study, he told himself. But there was so
much to be done! And try as he might, he could never seem to find time
enough for study. If he gave up football it would, perhaps, be easy
enough, but, he asked himself bitterly, what was the good of going to
school and doing nothing but study? What was the good of knowing how to
play football if he wasn't to have a chance to use his knowledge? It was
all the fault of the faculty. It tried to get too much work out of the
fellows in too short a time. But these reflections didn't help his case
any. It was up to him to make good with Latin. Otherwise his father
would write to Josh, as he threatened, and there'd be no more football.
If he could get through the next month, by which time the football
season would be at an end, it would be all right. After that he could
give more time to lessons. He might, too, he told himself, give up those
swimming lessons. But they came at an hour when it was terribly hard to
get a fellow's mind down to study. And, besides, he enjoyed those
lessons. The only thing to do was to stay at home in the evenings and
keep his nose in his books. Tom didn't have much trouble, he reflected,
and why should he? Sometimes he got thoroughly angry with Tom for the
ease with which that youth mastered lessons!

To make matters worse, just at that time, there was due the last of the
week an original composition in French, designed by Mr. Daley as a test
for the class. French did not bother Steve much, although this was
partly due to the fact that Mr. Daley had been very lenient with him,
knowing that he was having trouble in the classical courses. But writing
an original composition in French was a feat that filled Steve with
dismay. What the dickens was he to write about? Mr. Daley had announced
that the composition must contain not less than twelve hundred words.
That approximated six pages in a blue-book. Steve sighed, frowned, shook
his head and finally shrugged his shoulders. After all, there was no use
worrying about that yet. There still remained three days for the
composition, and the most important thing now was to make a showing in
Latin. French could wait. If he didn't find time for the
composition--well, Mr. Daley was easy! He'd get by somehow!

So Steve pegged away hard at his Latin for several days and made a very
good showing, and Mr. Simkins, who had been contemplating harsh
measures, took heart and hoped that further reports to the principal
would be unnecessary. But what with Latin and Greek and mathematics and
history and English, that French composition was still unwritten when
Thursday evening arrived. It had been a hard day on the gridiron and
Steve was pretty well fagged out when study hour came. He had told
himself for several days that at the last moment he would buckle down
and do that composition, but to-night, with a hard lesson in geometry
staring him in the face, the thing looked impossible. Across the study
table, Tom was diligently digging into Greek, his French composition
already finished and ready to be handed in on the morrow. Steve looked
over at him enviously and sighed. He hadn't an idea in his head for that
composition! After a while, when he had spoiled two good sheets of paper
with meaningless scrawls, he pushed back his chair. There was just one
course open. He would go down and tell Mr. Daley that he couldn't do it!
After all, "Horace" was a pretty reasonable sort of chap and would
probably give him another day or two. In any case, it was impossible to
do the thing to-night. He glanced at his watch and found that the time
was ten minutes to eight. Tom looked up inquiringly as Steve's chair
went back.

"I'm going down to see 'Horace,'" said Steve. "I can't do that French
composition, and I'm going to tell him so. If he doesn't like it, he may
do the other thing."

Tom made no reply, but he watched his chum thoughtfully until the door
had closed behind him. Then he dug frowningly for a moment with the nib
of a pen in the blotter and finally shook his head and went back to his
book.

When Steve was half-way between the stairwell and Mr. Daley's door, the
latter opened and Eric Sawyer came out. Steve was in no mood to-night to
pick a quarrel and he passed the older fellow with averted eyes, dimly
aware of the scowl that greeted him. When he knocked at the instructor's
door there was no reply and, after a moment, Steve turned the knob and
entered. At the outer door Eric had paused and looked back.

Mr. Daley's study was lighted but empty. Satisfying himself on the
latter point, Steve turned to go out. Then, reflecting that, since the
instructor had left the lights on, he was probably coming right back, he
decided to await him. He seated himself in a chair near the big
green-topped table. Almost under his hand lay a blue-book, and in idle
curiosity Steve leaned forward and looked at it. On the white label in
the upper left-hand corner he read: "French IV. Carl W. Upton. Original
composition." Steve viewed that blue-book frowningly, envying Upton
deeply. Upton, whom he knew by sight, was the sort of fellow who always
had his lessons and who was forever being held up by the instructor to
the rest of the course as a shining example of diligence. He roomed on
the floor above Steve. It was, Steve reflected, just like Upton to get
his composition done and hand it in in advance of the others. He
wondered what sort of stuff Upton had written, and lifted the blue-book
from the table.

"En Revanche!" he read as he turned to the first page. His lip curled.
That was a silly title. He dipped into the story. It was something about
a French soldier accused of cowardice by an officer. Steve, puzzling
through the first page, grudgingly acknowledged that Upton had written
pretty good stuff. But his interest soon waned, for some of the words
were beyond him, and he idly tossed the book back on the table. He
wished, though, that that was his composition and not Upton's. He
wondered if Mr. Daley had seen it. Somehow the position of the book, in
the geometrical centre of the big writing-pad, suggested that Upton had
found the instructor out and had left the book. If he had that book
upstairs it wouldn't be hard to copy the composition out in his own
hand-writing. It would be a whole lot like stealing, but----

Steve looked fascinatedly at the book for a minute. Then his hand went
out and he was once more turning the pages of neat, close writing. Of
course, he wouldn't really do a thing like that, but--well, it would
solve a mighty big problem! And what a hole that self-sufficient Upton
would be in! He couldn't prove that he had left the book in Mr. Daley's
study, at least not unless the instructor had seen it there; and somehow
Steve was pretty sure he hadn't. Of course a decent chap wouldn't do a
trick like that, only--well, it would certainly be easy enough!

Upstairs, Tom was still deep in his Greek, but he looked up as Steve
came in. "Find him?" he asked.

Steve shook his head. "No, he was out. I--I'll go down again." Instead
of reseating himself at the table, he fidgetted aimlessly about the
room, looked out the window, sat down on the seat, got up again, went to
the closet, returned to the table and stood looking down on Tom with a
frown. Tom closed his book with a sigh of relief and met his chum's
gaze.

"Going to tackle that composition now?" he asked encouragingly.

"I guess so," answered Steve carelessly. "Are you through?"

"Yes. I think I'll run over to Harry's a minute. I suppose you won't
come."

"Not likely, with this pesky thing to do." Steve sank into his chair,
picked up a pencil and drummed irritably on the table. "Maybe, though,"
he went on after a moment, "I'll get up early and do it. I don't feel
much like it to-night."

"Just the same," returned Tom as he picked up his cap, "I'd do it
to-night if I were you and get it over with."

"Oh, if you were me you'd had it done a week ago Tuesday," replied Steve
with vast sarcasm. "I guess I'll go along."

"How about your math?" asked Tom doubtfully.

Steve shrugged. "I'll get by," he answered. "Anyway, I don't intend to
stay cooped up here all the evening. I'll have a go at it when I get
back, maybe."

"We-ell." Tom looked as though he wanted to advise against that course,
but he didn't. Instead, "Do you mind waiting for me a minute?" he asked.
"I want to run down and ask Mr. Daley about something, if he's back. Do
you want to see him if he's there? I'll whistle up to you if you like."

Steve shook his head indifferently. "I'll see him when we come back," he
answered. "Hurry up."

Tom was back in two or three minutes. "Still out," he announced as he
put back on the table the French book he had taken with him. "He's
getting a bit dissipated, I'm afraid, staying out after eight!"

"There's a faculty meeting to-night, I think," responded Steve. "Are you
ready?"

He found his cap and followed Tom. In the corridor the latter glanced
back. "Better turn out the light," he said. "They've been after the
fellows lately about leaving it burning."

Grumblingly Steve stepped back and snapped the switch. "Who's monitor
here, anyhow?" he asked.

"Upton," answered Tom. "And they say he's right on his job, too."

"He would be," growled the other. "He's a regular teacher's pet." As
they went down the stairs Steve said: "I came across Eric Sawyer in the
hall when I went down to find 'Horace'."

"Really?" asked Tom. "Did he--say anything?"

"No. I didn't want any trouble with him to-night and so I made believe I
didn't see him."

"That's the stuff," Tom approved. "I guess if we leave him alone he
won't bother us."

"I'm likely to bother him before I get through with him," replied Steve
darkly as they left the building. "He can't shove me around as he did
and get away with it!"

"Oh, come, Steve!" expostulated Tom patiently. "You know very well you
shoved him first. What's the use of being sore about that?"

"He bumped into me," denied Steve. "I didn't shove."

"Well, you gave a mighty good imitation of it," replied Tom drily.
"Seems to me it was about an even thing, and I'd forget it, Steve."

"Maybe you would," muttered Steve, "but I don't intend to."



CHAPTER XVII

THE BLUE-BOOK


It was almost half-past nine when they got back to the room. An hour in
the society of Roy and Harry had done wonders for Steve's spirits, and
on the way upstairs he cheerfully announced that he intended to tackle
that geometry before he went to bed. As Tom switched the light on,
Steve's glance encountered a piece of paper on the floor. It had
evidently been slipped in under the door.

"Who's this from?" he muttered as he bore it to the table. "Someone was
too lazy to open the door and come in."

"What is it?" asked Tom, bending over Steve's shoulder.

"It's from that idiot Durkin," chuckled the latter. "'Got just what you
fellows need. Shoe-blacking stand, two brushes, all complete. Cheap.
Come and see it. P. Durkin.'"

"A shoe-blacking stand!" laughed Tom. "Say, he must have seen your
shoes, Steve."

"Must have seen yours, you mean!" Steve crumpled the note up and dropped
it in the basket under the table. "I guess we don't want any more of
Mr. Durkin's bargains."

"Still, this 'Morris' chair turned out pretty well," said Tom, settling
himself in it with a book. "And perhaps if we had that thing you'd keep
your shoes looking better."

"Well, there's one thing about my shoes," returned Steve good-naturedly,
"and that is the heels are blacked. Which is more than you can say of
yours, my smart young friend."

Tom was about to deny the imputation when footsteps sounded in the
corridor and there came a knock on the door.

"Come in," said Tom very politely. That step could only be Mr. Daley's,
he thought. And when the door opened he found his surmise correct. Mr.
Daley looked more nervous and embarrassed than usual as he entered.

"Good-evening, boys," he said. "I--er--I wonder if I might speak to you
just a moment, Edwards."

"Certainly, sir."

"I'll get out, Mr. Daley," said Tom, rising.

"Er--well, if you don't mind, Hall; just for a minute. Thank you so
much."

Tom went out, closing the door behind him, and Mr. Daley cleared his
throat.

"Will you sit down, sir?" asked Steve.

"Er--thanks, yes, just for a minute. I--er--I believe you called this
evening when I was out, Edwards."

"Yes, sir, about eight."

"Yes, yes. Sorry I was not in. I wonder if--if you happened to see a
blue-book on my table when you were there, Edwards."

"Yes, sir, there was one there," replied Steve after an instant's
hesitation.

"Ah, then Upton was not mistaken. He says he left one. Unfortunately, I
am not able to find it, Edwards. You--er--you don't happen to know where
it is, Edwards?"

"I, sir!" Steve's tone was incredulous. "Why, no, Mr. Daley. It was on
the table when I left, and----"

"Er--just a moment!" Mr. Daley held up a hand, smiling nervously. "I
don't mean to suggest that you carried the book off intentionally,
Edwards, but it occurred to me that possibly you might have--er--taken
it up by mistake, absentmindedly, so to say, and--er--brought it up here
with you."

"No, sir, I didn't." Steve looked at the instructor questioningly. "I
don't see why you'd imagine that, sir, either."

"Er--well, I knew--that is, someone told me that you were in my room,
Edwards, and I thought--that possibly--quite by accident--you
had--er----"

"I was in your room, Mr. Daley, and I waited two or three minutes for
you; maybe longer; and the blue-book was on the table when I went in and
it was there when I came out."

"You--you had a blue-book in your hand, however, did you not, when
you--er--left?"

"A blue-book? No, sir."

"Oh! That is strange, Edwards. You are certain you didn't take down a
blue-book of your own and bring it back again?"

"Absolutely sure, sir."

"But--er--someone saw you leave my room, Edwards, with a blue-book in
your hand."

Steve flushed and his voice held an angry tremor as he answered:
"Someone was mistaken, Mr. Daley, whoever he was. Seems to me, sir, if
the book is missing, you'd better ask that 'someone' about it."

"Um; yes; maybe." Mr. Daley blinked embarrassedly. "I--er--I thought
that perhaps you had brought down your French composition and had
possibly, in leaving, taken up Upton's book with your own by mistake.
You--er--you're quite sure that didn't happen, Edwards?"

"I'm positive, because I haven't done my composition, sir."

"Haven't done it?"

"No, sir," replied Steve a trifle defiantly.

"But--er--it's pretty late, and you know they are to be handed in
to-morrow, Edwards. You are having trouble with it?"

"I--I haven't started it yet. I--I just can't do it, Mr. Daley. I never
could do original things like that. That's why I went down to see you. I
wanted to ask if you'd let me have a couple more days for it. You see,
sir, I've been having a pretty hard time with Latin, and--and there
hasn't been any time for the composition, sir."

"I see." Mr. Daley viewed Steve dubiously. "I'm sorry, Edwards. I'm
afraid you are not--er--trying very hard to accomplish your work these
days."

"I am trying, sir, but--but the Latin--" Steve hesitated. "Mr. Simkins
is awfully hard on me, Mr. Daley, and----"

"And I am not?" Mr. Daley smiled sadly. "And so you thought you'd trust
to my--er--good-nature, eh? Really, Edwards, you are asking a good deal,
you know. You've had nearly ten days for that composition; a scant
twelve hundred words on any subject you liked; and it seems to me that
if you had really wanted to do it you could have found the time. I don't
want to be hard on you, but--er--I'm afraid I shall have to insist on
your handing in that composition not later than to-morrow noon. I have
been very lenient with you, Edwards, very. You--er--you must see that
yourself. But--er--this sort of thing can't go on all the term. You
really must get down to work."

"If I could have another day for it," begged Steve, "I could get it
done, sir."

"You have had ten days already; to be exact, nine and a half, Edwards. I
don't think I should make any exception in your case. I'm sorry."

Steve stared at his shoes, a somewhat mutinous expression on his face.
After a moment, "It isn't fair to say I'm not trying," he broke out. "I
_am_ trying, but things are too hard here. They ask too much work of a
fellow. Why, if I was to get B's in all my courses I'd have to study
eight hours a day! A fellow wants to do something beside stick in his
room and grind, Mr. Daley. He wants to get out and--and play sometimes.
If you're on the football team you don't have any time in the
afternoons and then, when evening comes, you're tired and sleepy."

"But you have time between recitations in the morning, Edwards, to do
some studying, do you not? Other boys manage to both work and play. Why
can't you? Look at your room-mate. I believe that he is--er--on one of
the football teams. He seems to get his lessons fairly well. I presume
that he has written his composition?"

"Yes, sir."

"Of course. It is probably here somewhere." Mr. Daley's eyes inspected
the pile of books at his elbow, and the corner of a blue-book met his
gaze. "This is doubtless it." He drew it forth. "It doesn't look such a
herculean task, Edwards. Here are seven pages, rather more than
required, I'd say, and----"

Mr. Daley ceased abruptly, and, after a moment, Steve, who had been
gloomily regarding the floor, looked across. The instructor was
observing him strangely.

"Do you know whose book this is, Edwards?" he asked.

"I suppose it's Tom's. It isn't mine," he added moodily.

"It is Carl Upton's."

"Carl----" Steve stared bewilderedly.

"It seems that you must have--er--taken it after all, Edwards."

"But I didn't, sir! Tom will tell you that----"

He faltered, and a puzzled look came into his eyes as he regarded the
book in the instructor's hand.

"Well, really, Edwards,"--Mr. Daley spoke lightly, but his countenance
was grave--"you mustn't expect me to put it down to a miracle. If you
didn't put the book here on your table, who did? Unless Hall knows
something about it? Was he in my study this evening?"

There was a bare instant of hesitation. Then, "No, sir," replied Steve
steadily.

"Er--you are sure? He might have called on me when you were out."

"We were together all the evening, Mr. Daley."

"Then----" The instructor cleared his throat nervously.

"I guess--I guess it's up to me, sir," said Steve.

Mr. Daley sighed. "I think it must be." There was silence for a moment.
Then, "Why?" asked Mr. Daley gently.

"I don't know, sir."

"You couldn't have thought of--er--making unfair use of it?"

"I----" Steve hesitated again. Finally, "Perhaps I did for a moment.
But--I shouldn't have, sir," he added earnestly.

"I hope not, Edwards. But--why did you take it? You--er--must have known
that it would--er--be missed."

"I"--Steve seemed to be searching for an answer--"I just took it to--to
get even with Upton."

"To get even with him? He has--er--done something, then, to--er--annoy
you?"

"Yes, sir. That is, well--I don't like him."

Mr. Daley observed Steve dubiously. At last, "I wish I could believe
that explanation, Edwards," he said. "As inexcusable as such--er--such
an action would be, it would still be preferable to--to what I am forced
to suspect. But the whole thing is beyond me." The instructor spread his
hands in a gesture of despair. "I can't understand it, Edwards." After a
minute, "It must have been an accident," continued Mr. Daley almost
pleadingly. "You--er--you perhaps mistook the book for your own----"

"I didn't have any," muttered Steve.

"Well." Mr. Daley cleared his throat. "I--I must think it over. I--I
scarcely know what to say, Edwards. I'm sorry, very sorry." He arose
and moved to the door. "Come and see me to-morrow noon, please.
We--er--must talk this over again. Good-night, Edwards."

"Good-night, sir." Steve stood up until the door had closed and then
sank back into his chair again, a very miserable look on his face.

"What a crazy place to hide it!" he murmured.

The door opened and Tom came in, Tom with an expression half troubled
and half humorous. "What's up?" he asked in a low voice.

"Oh, nothing," replied Steve carelessly, avoiding Tom's eyes. "He jumped
me because I hadn't done my comp. Says I must turn it in by noon
to-morrow."

"Is that all?" Tom heaved a sigh of relief. "When he asked me to get out
I thought it was something pretty serious."

"Isn't that old composition serious enough?" asked Steve with a laugh
that didn't sound quite true.

"Yes, I suppose so. Look here, Steve, if you'll tackle it now, I'll help
you all I can with it. It won't take long. What time is it?"

"Have you done yours?" asked Steve.

"Yes," replied the other unenthusiastically. "It's done, but--but I
guess it's pretty rotten. If I get a C on it I'll be doing well. I
thought maybe I'd go over it again, but--I guess it'll have to do."

"Where is it?"

"Here somewhere." Tom searched at the far end of the table and drew a
blue-book to light. "Want to see it?"

Steve took it and glanced over it, a puzzled frown on his forehead.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom. "Don't you like it? I guess it is pretty
punk, though."

"It's all right, as far as I know," answered Steve, returning the book.
"Only--I don't understand----"

"Don't understand what? Say, you're as mysterious as--as--Sherlock
Holmes!"

"Nothing. By the way, a funny thing happened." Steve wandered toward the
window, his back to Tom, "When I went down to find 'Horace' I picked up
a blue-book that was on his table and brought it up here. It was
Upton's. I--I hadn't any recollection of doing it, but he found it lying
on the table. Of course I felt like a fool."

"Oh," said Tom after a moment. "That--that was funny. I didn't see you
bring it in with you." There was a note of constraint in his voice that
did not escape Steve.

"I don't remember bringing it in," he replied. "I saw it on the table
down there and--and looked at it, had it in my hand, but I don't
remember bringing it up."

"Funny," said Tom lightly. "Did--did he say anything?"

"Oh, no. Of course I denied it at first, said I couldn't have taken it,
but he said I must have, unless--unless you had. He asked if you were in
his room and I said no."

"But I was!" exclaimed Tom. "Don't you remember? I went down just before
we went out. But there wasn't any blue-book on his table then. At least,
I didn't see any."

"Well, it doesn't matter. I told him you hadn't been there. I--I'd let
him think so, anyway. There's no use having any more bother about the
old thing."

"Well, but--you're sure he wasn't waxy? Of course I didn't take the
book; you can prove that I didn't have it when I came back; but if he's
acting ugly about it, why--I'll tell him I was in there too. He can lay
it on me if he wants to. I--I think I'll tell him, Steve."

"You keep out of it," answered Steve roughly. "What's the use of having
any more talk about it? He's got the book and there's no harm done."

Tom considered a moment. Then, "You're certain?" he asked.

"Certain of what?"

"That--that it's all right, that he doesn't blame you for it."

"Oh, he knows I did it, but he doesn't mind. What time is it?"

"A quarter past ten. What are you doing?"

Steve was ripping his bed to pieces. "I want a couple of blankets," he
said. "Haven't we some thumb-tacks somewhere?"

"Table drawer," replied Tom. "What's the game?"

"I'm going to do that rotten composition." Steve climbed to a chair, and
with the aid of push-pins draped one of the blankets over the door and
transom. Then he pulled the window-shade close and hung the second
blanket inside the casement. "There! Now if anyone sees a light in this
room they'll have to have mighty good eyes. You tumble into bed, Tom,
and try to imagine it's dark."

"Bed? Who wants to go to bed?" asked Tom, smothering a yawn. "I'm going
to help you with it."

"No, you're not," replied Steve doggedly. "I'm going to do it and I'm
going to do it all myself if it takes me until daylight. Now shut up."



CHAPTER XVIII

B PLUS AND D MINUS


At half-past ten the next morning Mr. Daley hurried into the class-room
where French IV was already assembled, stumbled over the edge of the
platform--the boys would have gasped with amazement had he neglected to
do that--and took his seat. On one corner of the table in front of him
was a pile of blue-books. He drew it toward him and ran a hand along the
edges of the books.

"Has everyone handed in his composition?" he asked.

There was no reply and he seemed surprised. "I--er--I am to understand,
then, that you have all turned your books in?"

Still no dissenting voice. Mr. Daley's gaze travelled over the class
until it encountered Steve at the rear of the room. He opened his mouth,
hesitated, closed it again, cleared his throat and finally pushed the
pile of books aside.

"Very well," he said. "I shall mark these this evening. You
will--er--kindly get them to-morrow. Now then, 'Le Siege de Paris'; we
left off where, Upton?"

At a few minutes past twelve Steve knocked at Mr. Daley's door, and,
obeying the invitation, entered. The instructor was seated at his desk,
a litter of blue-books in front of him and a pipe in his mouth. The
latter he laid aside as the boy appeared.

"You said you wanted to see me, sir," said Steve.

"Er--yes, Edwards. Sit down, please." The instructor took up his pipe
again, hurriedly put it aside, seized a pencil and jotted nervously on
the back of a book. Finally,

"I--er--find your composition here," he said. "When did you write it?"

"Between half-past ten last night and two o'clock this morning."

"Hm!" Mr. Daley swung around in his chair, viewed the oblong of
landscape framed by the window for a moment and swung back again. There
was a faint smile about his eyes. "Edwards, you--er--are a bit
disconcerting. I presume you know that the rules require you to be in
bed with lights out at ten-thirty?"

"Yes, sir."

"Hm! And you--er--deliberately transgressed that rule?"

"I didn't see anything else to do, Mr. Daley. You said I must turn that
in by noon and there wouldn't have been time this morning to do it."

"Logically reasoned, my boy, but----" The instructor shook his head.
"You mustn't expect me to compliment you on your performance, Edwards.
To perform one duty by neglecting another is hardly--er--commendable. If
it were not that you had transgressed a rule of the school, Edwards, I
might compliment you quite highly. Your composition--I--er--I've been
glancing through it--is really very good. I don't mean that you have not
made mistakes of grammar, for you have, lots of them, but--er--you have
written a well-constructed and--er--well-expressed narrative. What
I--er--especially like about it is the subject. You have written of
something you know about, something close at home, so to say. I--er--I
am not much of a swimmer myself, but I presume that the instructions you
have laid down here are--er--quite correct. In fact, Edwards, I'll even
go so far as to say that I fancy one might take this composition of
yours and--er--really learn something about swimming. And--er--if you
have ever tried to learn anything of the sort--golf, rowing,
tennis--from a hand-book you will realise that that is high praise."

"Yes, sir. Thank you."

"I had decided to mark your composition with a B, Edwards. Perhaps the
many mistakes in grammar would ordinarily indicate a C, perhaps even a C
minus, but the--er--other merits of the exercise are so pronounced that,
on the whole, I think it deserves a B."

"Thank you, sir."

"Er--just a moment." The instructor held up a hand. "I said that I had
decided to give you a B, Edwards. That, however, was before I had
learned when this was written. I shall now give it a D minus.
You--er--you understand why, Edwards?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'm sorry, but I--er--must take into consideration the facts in the
case. And those facts are that you neglected your work until the last
moment and then disobeyed one of the well-known rules of the school in
order to perform it. There is one other thing I might do. I might credit
you with a B on your exercise and report you to the Office for
disobeying the rules. But--er--I think, on the whole, that the first
method is the more satisfactory. You understand, of course, that
anything under a C in this test is equivalent to failure?"

"Yes, sir."

"Hm; exactly. Therefore, Edwards, you will be required to make up nearly
a month's work in French. I shall have to ask you to prove to me that
you are in line with the rest of the class. But you will have a full
week to do this and I--er--I suspect that you will not find it very
difficult." Mr. Daley took up a blue pencil and marked a large "D-" on
the corner of the blue-book. "You might as well take this now, Edwards.
Bring me another composition not later than a week from to-day, please."
The instructor fluttered the leaves of a memorandum-pad and made a note
opposite a future date. "I have not corrected it, but, as you have it to
do over, that is not necessary."

Mr. Daley leaned back in his chair and gazed for a minute at the table.
Then,

"There is one other thing, Edwards," he said hesitantly. "About last
night, you know; the--er--the misappropriation of Upton's blue-book.
Have you--er--thought that over?"

"I suppose so, sir."

"Hm! I should like to ask you one question and receive an absolutely
truthful reply, Edwards."

"Yes, sir."

"When you took that book to your room did you intend to--er--make a
wrong use of it?"

"No, sir. I saw the book on your table, Mr. Daley, and--and it did occur
to me that it would be easy to copy it out in my own writing and--and
turn it in as my work, sir. I read a little of it and put it back on the
table. But I don't at all remember seeing it again after that, sir, and
that's the truth. I haven't the slightest recollection of having it in
my hand when I left this room or of putting it on the table upstairs.
And--and I'd like you to believe me, sir."

"I want to, Edwards, I want to," replied Mr. Daley eagerly.
"And--er--to-day your story sounds much more plausible. I can imagine
that, with the thought of your own composition in mind and doubtless
worrying you, you might easily have--er--absentmindedly picked that book
from the table here when you went out and taken it to your room without
being conscious of the act. I believe that to be quite possible,
Edwards, and I am going to think it happened just that way. I have never
observed any signs of--er--dishonesty in you, my boy, and I don't think
you are a liar. We will consider that matter closed and we will both
forget all about it."

"Thank you, sir," replied Steve gratefully.

"But, Edwards, this seems to me a good time to tell you that--er--that
your attitude toward--er--your work and toward those in authority has
not been satisfactory. You have--er--impressed me as a boy with, to use
a vulgar expression, a grouch. Now, get that out of your system,
Edwards. No one is trying to impose on you. Your work is no harder than
the next fellow's. What you lack is, I presume, application. I--er--I
don't deny that possibly you are pressed for time when it comes to
studying, but that is your fault. Your football work is exacting, for
one thing, although there are plenty of fellows--I could name twenty or
thirty with whom I come in contact--who manage to play football and
maintain an excellent class standing at the same time. So, Edwards, the
fault lies somewhere with you, _in_ you, doubtless. Now, what do you
think it is?"

"I don't know, Mr. Daley." Steve shook his head hopelessly. "I want to
do what's right, sir, but--but somehow I can't seem to."

"When you study do you put your mind on it, or do you find yourself
thinking of other things, football, for instance?"

"I guess I think of other things a good deal," replied Steve.

"Football?"

"I guess so; football and--and swimming and--lots of things, sir."

"There's a time for football and a time for study, Edwards. You will
have to first of all--er--leave football behind you when you come off
the field. Swimming, the same way. It won't work. I've seen it tried too
often, Edwards. You--er--you wouldn't want to have to give up football,
I suppose?"

"No, sir!" Steve looked up in alarm.

"But it might come to that, my boy. You're here to learn, you know, and
we would not be treating your parents fairly--or you either--if we
allowed you to waste your time. Football is an excellent sport; one of
the best, I think; but it's only a sport, not a--er--profession, you
know. All the knowledge of football in the world isn't going to help you
when you leave here and try to enter college. By the way, I presume you
intend to go to college, Edwards?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then keep that in mind. Remember that you're getting yourself ready for
it. Perhaps that will make your work seem better worth doing. How are
you getting on with your Latin?"

"Very well, sir, just now."

"Better see that 'just now' becomes 'all the time,' Edwards. Why, look
here! You can do the work set you and play football or baseball or
anything else if you'll make up your mind to it. You're a bright, normal
fellow, with the average amount of brains. Systematise, Edwards! Arrange
your day right. Mark down so many hours for recitations, so many hours
for study, so many hours for play, and stick to your schedule. You'll
find after awhile that it comes easy. You'll find that you--er--you'll
miss studying when anything keeps you from it. When you go out of here I
want you to do that very thing, my boy. I want you to go right up to
your room, take a sheet of paper and make out a daily schedule. And when
you've got it done put it somewhere where you'll see it. And stick to
it! Will you?"

"Yes, sir; that is, I--I'll do my best."

"Good!" Mr. Daley held out a hand, smiling. "Shake hands on it, Edwards.
You may not believe it, but half of--er--doing a thing consists of
making up your mind to it! Well, that's all, I think. Er--you'd better
look me up this evening and we'll settle about that French. Good-bye.
Hope I haven't made you late for dinner."

Steve drew a deep breath outside the door, puckered his lips and
whistled softly, but it was a thoughtful whistle; as thoughtful as it
was tuneless, and it lasted him all the way upstairs and into his room.
Tom had gone, evidently having wearied of waiting for his friend to
accompany him to dinner. Steve's own appetite was calling pretty loudly,
but, having slipped the blue-book out of sight under a pile on the
table, he dropped into his chair, drew a sheet of paper to him and began
on the schedule. It took him almost a half-hour to complete it, and he
spoiled several sheets in the process, but it was finally done, and,
heading it "Daley Schedule," with a brief smile at the pun, he placed it
on his chiffonier and hurried across to Wendell.



CHAPTER XIX

THE SECOND PUTS IT OVER


"What do you know about that?" demanded Tom the next day. "'Horace' gave
me a B on my comp! Of course, I'm not kicking, but I'll bet he made a
mistake. Maybe he got nervous and his pencil slipped!"

"Seems to me," returned Steve coldly, "he knows better than you do what
the thing is worth. He's not exactly an idiot, you know."

Tom stared in some surprise. "I didn't say he was an idiot, did I?
Considering the things you've said about 'Horace' I don't think you need
take that high-and-mighty tone!"

"Well, don't be a chump, then," replied Steve. "If Mr. Daley gave you a
B you deserved a B."

"Thanking you kindly," murmured Tom as he disappeared behind the pages
of the blue-book to digest the corrections and criticisms on the
margins. Steve's manner since the night he had remained up until morning
to write that composition had been puzzling. He had very little to say
to Tom, and when he did speak, spoke in a constrained manner quite
unlike him. And more than once Tom had caught Steve observing him with
an expression that he couldn't fathom. There was something up, that was
certain, but what it was Tom couldn't imagine. It wasn't that Steve was
cross or disagreeable. For that matter, his disposition seemed a good
deal improved. But he was decidedly stand-offish and extraordinarily
quiet. Tom wanted to ask outright what the trouble was, but, for some
reason, he held back. As the days passed, Steve's manner became more
natural and he ceased looking at Tom as though, to quote the latter's
unspoken simile, he was a new sort of an animal in a zoo! But some
constraint still remained, and, after awhile, Tom accepted the situation
and grew accustomed to it. By that time he had grown too proud to ask
for an explanation. The two chums spent less time together as a result,
Steve becoming more dependent on Roy for companionship and Tom on Harry.
When they were all four together, which was very frequently, it was not
so bad, but when Steve and Tom were alone conversation was apt to
languish.

Tom at first was inclined to blame Steve's "Daley Schedule" for the
change, for that schedule had quite altered Steve's existence. He lived
by a strict routine which he followed with a dogged determination quite
foreign to his ways as Tom knew them. He got up on time in the morning,
reached the dining-hall almost as soon as the doors were opened, spent a
scant twenty minutes there and then went directly back to his room to
browse over his recitations for the day. Once Tom found him there
hunched up in a corner of the window-seat while the chambermaid, viewing
his presence distastefully, draped the furniture with bedding and did
her best with broom and duster to discourage him from a repetition of
the outrage. Between ten and eleven on three days a week Steve put in an
hour of study in the room. On other days he managed to snatch two
half-hour periods in the library between recitations. At six he was
almost invariably awaiting the opening of the doors for dinner, and well
before seven he was at his table again. Usually he studied until nine,
although now and then he closed his books at half-past eight and
followed Tom to Number 17 Torrence. Roy called him the Prize Grind and
interestedly inquired what scholarship he was trying for. Steve accepted
the joking with a grim smile.

It wasn't easy. For the first few days he had to drive himself to his
work with bit and spur. His feet lagged and he groaned in
spirit--perhaps audibly, too--as he approached his books. But he did it,
and little by little it became easier, until, as Mr. Daley had
predicted, it had become a habit with him to do certain things at
certain hours and he was uncomfortable if his routine was disarranged. I
don't think Steve ever got where he loved to study, but he did
eventually reach a pride of attainment that answered quite as well. He
found as time went on that it was becoming easier to learn his lessons
and easier to remember them when learned, and by that time he had taught
himself to command over his thoughts, and when he was struggling through
a proposition in geometry he wasn't wondering whether he would beat out
Sherrard for the position of regular right end on the second before the
season was over. In other words, he had learned concentration.

But all this was not yet. That first week, in especial, was hard
sledding, and that French composition almost drove him to distraction
and gave him brain fever before it was done. But done it was and on
time, and, while the best that Mr. Daley would allow it was a C plus,
Steve was distinctly proud of it. And in that week he demonstrated to
the instructor's satisfaction that he was up with the class in French. I
think Mr. Daley was very willing to be convinced and that he met Steve
quite half-way. Latin was still a bugaboo to Steve, but it, too, was
getting easier. On the whole, that schedule, backed by a grim
determination, was making good.

Meanwhile football pursued its relentless course. Every day the first
and second fought it out for gradually increasing periods and every day
the season grew nearer its close and the Claflin game, the final goal,
loomed more distinct. Phillips School came and went and Brimfield marked
up her fifth victory. Phillips gave the Maroon-and-Grey a hard tussle,
and the score, 12 to 0, didn't indicate the closeness of the playing.
For Brimfield made her first touchdown by the veriest fluke and only
gained her second in the last few minutes of play, when Phillips,
outlasted, weakened on her six-yard line and let Norton through. On the
other hand, Phillips had the ball thrice inside Brimfield's twenty
yards, missed a field-goal by the narrowest of margins and, with the
slightest twist of the luck, might have proved the victor.

"Boots" had hammered the second into what Mr. Robey unhesitatingly
declared to be one of the best scrub teams he had ever seen, and there
was more than one contest between it and the 'varsity that yielded
nothing to an outside game for hard fighting and excitement. Steve and
his rival, Sherrard, were running about even for the right end position.
Steve's tackling had improved vastly under Marvin's tutoring, and it was
his ability in that department that possibly gave him a shade the better
of the argument with Sherrard. So far there had been no decided slump in
the playing of either team, and, since a slump is always looked for at
some time during the season, both Mr. Robey and Danny Moore were getting
anxious. Danny almost begged the fellows to go stale a little. "It ain't
natural," he declared. "It's got to come, so let it and have it over
with." Neither had there been any injuries of moment. On this score
Danny had no regrets, however. He was a good trainer and prided himself
on his ability to condition his charges so that they would escape
injuries.

Of course there had been plenty of bruises--one mild case of
charley-horse, several dislocated or sprained fingers, a wrenched ankle
or two and any number of cuts and scrapes, but none of the injuries had
interfered with work for more than three or four days and not once had
any first-string member of the 'varsity missed an outside game by reason
of them. Steve's share of the injuries was a bruised shoulder sustained
in a flying tackle that was more enthusiastic than scientific, and the
thing bothered him for several days but did not keep him off the field.
Tom, who played opposite Jay Fowler in scrimmage, was forever getting
his countenance disfigured. Not that Fowler meant to leave his mark, but
he was a big, powerful, hard-fighting chap and there were plenty of
times when both parties to the practice games quite forgot that they
were friends. Tom was seldom seen without a strip of court-plaster
pasted to some portion of his face.

It was four days after the Phillips game, to be exact, on the following
Wednesday, that the first and second got together for what turned out to
be the warmest struggle of the season in civil combat. It was a cold,
leaden day, with a stinging breeze out of the northeast, and every
fellow who wore a head-guard felt as full of ginger as a young colt. The
second trotted over from their gridiron at four and found the first on
its toes to get at them. Things started off with a whoop. The second
received the kick-off and Marvin ran the ball back forty yards through a
broken field before he was nailed. Encouraged by that excellent
beginning, the scrub team went at it hammer and tongs. There was a fine
old hole that day between Sawyer and Williams, and the second's backs
ploughed through for gain after gain before the opposing line was
cemented together again there. By that time the ball was down near the
'varsity's ten yards and Captain Miller was frothing at the mouth, while
the opposing coaches were hurling encouragement at their charges and the
pandemonium even extended to the side-lines, where the school at large,
in a frenzy of excitement, shouted and goaded on the teams.

Twice the first held, once forcing Harris back for a loss, and then
Marvin called for kick formation and himself held the ball for Brownell.
What happened then was one of those unforeseen incidents that make
football the hair-raising game it is. There was a weak spot in the
second's line and, with the passing of the ball to Marvin, the 'varsity
forwards came rampaging through. Brownell swung his leg desperately,
trusting to fortune to get the pigskin over the upstretched hands of the
charging enemy, but it swung against empty air. Marvin, seeing what was
bound to happen, fearing the result of a blocked kick, snatched the ball
aside just as Captain Brownell swung at it, rolled over a couple of
times out of the path of the oncoming opponents, scrambled to his feet
and, somehow, scuttled past a half-dozen defenders of the goal and fell
over the line for a touchdown.

The 'varsity afterwards called it "bull-luck" and "fluke" and several
other belittling names, but "Boots" said it was "quick thinking and
football, by jiminy!" At all events the second scored and then leaped
and shouted like a band of Comanche Indians--or any other kind of Indian
if there's a noisier sort!--and generally "rubbed it in."

After that you may believe that the 'varsity played football! But
nevertheless the first ten-minute period ended with the second still six
points to the good and her goal-line intact. The teams were to play
three periods that day and "Boots" ran four substitutes on the field
when the next one began. One of them was Steve.

It is no light task to play opposite the 'varsity captain and not come
off second best, but the consensus of opinion that evening was to the
effect that Steve had done that very thing. The wintery nip had got into
Steve's blood, I think, for he played like a tiger-cat on the defence,
ran like a streak of wind and tackled so hard that Coach Robey had to
caution him. Twice in that period the first came storming down to the
second's twenty yards and twice they were held there. Once Milton was
nailed on a round-the-end run and once Still fumbled a pass and Freer
fell on it.

Steve carried out his part of a forward-pass play with excellent
precision later and seemingly had a clear field and a touchdown in sight
for a moment. But Milton managed to upset him on the thirty yards, and
the gain--Steve had negotiated four white lines before the 'varsity
quarter got him--eventually went for naught, since Marvin fumbled a
minute later and Sawyer squirmed through and captured the ball.

Neither side scored nor came very near it in that period. Steve, who was
having the time of his life, beamed joyously when the whistle, starting
the third period, found him still in the line-up. He had feared that
"Boots" would put Sherrard back. But Steve didn't realise the kind of a
game he had been putting up. If he had he would have credited "Boots"
with more sense. Tom, with two brand-new facial contusions to his
credit, was relegated to the bench for the last round. Perhaps "Boots"
thought it only fair to allow Gafferty some of the decorations that
Fowler and others were handing out!

The first tried a kicking game in order to reach striking distance and,
since she always had the better of the argument there, forced the
second slowly and very surely back past the middle of the field. Then
Marvin, realising the futility of pitting Freer and himself against
Norton and Williams and Milton, either one of whom could outpunt the
second from five to ten yards, started a rushing game on his thirty-five
yards, swinging Harris and Freer around the ends for small gains and
himself taking the pigskin for a delayed plunge through centre that put
the scrubs on their forty-five-yard line and gave them their first down
of the period.

But the next three tries pulled in only six yards, and Freer punted. For
once he had plenty of time and the oval travelled far down into the
enemy's territory and was caught by Kendall, who took it back a scant
five yards before Turner, the second's left end, got past the
hastily-formed interference and upset him. The 'varsity made four
through the left side of the line and got her first down on a fake kick
that caught the second napping. She again secured her distance on three
tries, and the lines faced each other near the middle of the field.

What happened then was never definitely explained. Whether Milton
fumbled the pass from centre or whether Still missed the toss from
Milton, history doesn't record. Not that it matters, however. The fact
is that the ball was suddenly seen to go rolling back up the field as
though animated by a desperate desire to score a touchdown on its own
hook. The 'varsity backs hit the line hard and went tumbling through, to
the frenzied shouts of "Ball! Ball!" from Milton and the opponents. The
latter, trying to get past the 'varsity and gain the bobbing pigskin,
got so inextricably mixed up with the enemy that the ball went on
rolling around, under the pranks of the helpful wind, for a
heart-breaking length of time. Then, as it seemed, every fellow on the
field started for it at once!

Steve had made a wild attempt to get through inside of Andy Miller, but
Miller had sent him sprawling, and when he got to his feet again he was
one of the last in the mad rush. How it happened that Eric Sawyer, not
overly fast on his feet, reached the pigskin first, or, at least,
finally, is a mystery. But it was Eric who at length plunged out of the
confusion, ball in arm, shook off three or four tacklers and started
hot-footed toward the distant goal. By some unusual burst of speed he
not only got a clear start of the rest, but shot past Steve before that
youth could intercept him. Marvin had followed the others toward the
'varsity's goal and now between Eric and the final white lines, some
forty-five yards distant, lay a clear field. And Eric, spurred on by the
knowledge that here was perhaps the one chance of his lifetime to make a
spectacular run for half the length of the gridiron and score a
touchdown, worked his sturdy legs as they had probably never been worked
before!

But he was not to go unchallenged. The enemy was hot on his track, Steve
in the lead. And with the enemy, doing their best to upset or divert the
pursuit, came a half-dozen of the 'varsity. It was a wildly confused
race for a minute. Then the slow-footed ones dropped behind and the
procession consisted of Eric, running desperately some five yards ahead
of Steve, Steve pounding along at his heels, Williams striving to edge
Freer toward the side of the field, Marvin leading Captain Miller by a
scant yard, and one or two others dropping gradually away as the race
progressed. Near the twenty-five-yard line Williams managed to upset
Freer and went down with him in the effort, Andy Miller drew even with
Marvin, and Eric glanced behind him for the first time, at the same
moment heading a bit further toward the centre of the gridiron.

That move lost him a stride of his lead, and Steve made a final spurt
that took just about all the breath left in his body. On the fifteen
yards his hand went out gropingly, touched Eric's back and fell away.
Near the ten-yard line Steve launched himself forward and his arms
settled about Eric's thighs, slid down to his knees and tightened. Eric
went down, dragged forward another yard and then, panting and weak, gave
it up. Then Marvin settled ungently on his back, to make assurances
doubly sure, Andy Miller threw him off very promptly and Steve rolled
over on his back and fought for breath.

The rest of the teams came panting up, the audience along the side-line
howled and cheered gloriously, if a trifle breathlessly, having itself
raced down the field in an effort to keep abreast of the drama, and
delighted members of the second team lifted Steve to his tottering feet,
thumped him on the back and shrieked praise into his singing ears.

After that, with the ball on the second's eight yards, the 'varsity
should have scored easily. And yet, so gallantly did the scrubs dig
their toes into the trampled turf that thrice the 'varsity was held for
a scant gain and, finally, with one down remaining, Williams dropped
back to the twenty-yard line and dropped a field-goal.

"Boots" was almost moved to tears and looked as though he wanted to
embrace each and every member of his team. For what was a puny three
points when the second had six to its credit? The things that Miller
said were extremely derogatory, while Coach Robey walked back to the
middle of the field with a disapproving air. In the four minutes that
remained, there was football played that _was_ football! The 'varsity,
smarting under impending defeat, went at it with a desperation that
promised everything. That it failed of what it promised was only because
the second, buoyed up by the knowledge of victory in its grasp, fought
like veterans. There was some fierce playing during those two hundred
and forty brief seconds, and the fellow who finally trudged off the
field without a scar felt himself dishonoured. Substitutes were thrown
into the fray by both sides, although "Boots," having fewer men to call
on, was handicapped. Steve went out in favour of Sherrard soon after the
kick-off, and Tom relieved Gafferty. The coaches raged and urged, the
rival captains scolded and implored and the quarters danced around and
acted like wild-men. And then, suddenly, the ball was seized, a whistle
blew and it was all over. And the panting players, tense of face,
dripping with perspiration, drew apart to view each other at first
scowlingly and then with slowly spreading grins, taking toll of their
own injuries and the enemy's.

"Good work, second," said Mr. Robey. "That's all for to-day. Get your
blankets and run all the way in."



CHAPTER XX

BLOWS ARE STRUCK


The second went off jubilantly. Steve was a hero for an hour. In the
locker room "Boots" said some nice things to them, pointed out a few
faults and took himself away just as the first team and its substitutes
came piling in. Most of them looked pretty grim about the mouths.
Evidently in the few minutes that Mr. Robey had detained them on the
field, they had been provided with food for thought. Andy Miller
encountered Steve on his way to the bath.

"That was good work, Edwards," he said heartily. "You fellows certainly
put it over us to-day." He shook his head ruefully. "We ought to have
got that touchdown in the last period." Then he smiled grimly, and,
"We'll get you to-morrow, though," he said with conviction. "How's
everything with you?"

"Fine and dandy, thanks," replied Steve heartily.

"Good! You haven't been around to see me, by the way. You and Hall must
think a confidence-man isn't a proper acquaintance."

"We're coming around soon, Miller. The fact is, I--well, I made such a
mutt of myself that last time----"

"Oh, nonsense! That's all right, Edwards. Don't let that worry you.
Besides, you took my advice, I guess, and that squares it. Mind if I
give you some more, by the way?"

"Of course not! I wish you would."

"Only this, Edwards. On defence don't watch the ball. They'll tell you
to, but don't do it. Watch your opponent. Watch his eyes. He will tell
you when the ball's snapped. He's got to watch it and you haven't, and
then if you keep your eyes on him you can guess where he's coming almost
before he starts. It may sound cheeky for me to tell you this, because,
as a matter of absolute fact, Edwards, you played all around me
to-day----"

"Oh, piffle, Miller!"

"Yes, you did," insisted the captain grimly. "I know it, if you don't.
But you try what I tell you to-morrow and see what a jump you'll get on
the other fellow. Come around and see me soon, you and Hall."

Andy moved away and Steve hurried on to find a shower before the new
crowd claimed them all. He was pretty well fagged out this afternoon,
and for once the thought of that swimming class didn't appeal. But after
a tepid shower and then a hard rush of ice-cold water over his tired
body, he felt different. Coming out of the bath he almost collided with
Eric Sawyer. Eric had a nasty cut over his right eye that gave him a
peculiarly ugly expression, and it was soon evident that Eric's temper
was as ugly as his appearance.

"Hello, fresh," he growled, scowling at Steve and barring his way in the
narrow passage. "What call had you to butt in on me to-day?"

"I was playing the game, that's all," replied Steve coolly.

"You think you're a wonder, don't you? Well, you wouldn't have got me if
I hadn't slipped. And the next time you interfere with me on the field
or anywhere else I'll fix you for keeps. Now you mind that, you fresh
young kid."

"You're a wonder at making threats, Sawyer," returned Steve angrily.
"Why don't you do something besides talk?"

"I'd give you a good thrashing if you weren't so small," Eric growled.

"Oh, that's all right," replied Steve airily. "We can't all have piano
legs, you know."

"Say, you let my legs alone! For two cents I'd tell what I know about
you, you cheater, and we'd see how long you'd stay so cocky!"

"What you know about me?" laughed Steve. "You go right ahead and tell
anything you want to, Sawyer. Whatever it is, it's a lie, I guess."

"Oh, is it? It's a lie that you swiped Upton's blue-book with his
composition in it, I suppose. It's a lie that you were going to use it
until Daley went up to your room and found it, I dare say. It's----"

"Yes, it is a lie, and you know it, Sawyer," flamed Steve. "If you tell
any story like that around----"

"I'll tell what I please, kid, and you can't stop me." Several fellows
came along the passage, viewing the two curiously, and Eric dropped his
voice a note. "You stop bothering me, Edwards, or I will tell, and if I
do, this place will be too hot for you. We don't like cheaters here----"

Steve sprang at him madly, but Eric stepped aside and Steve's blow went
past.

"None of that!" warned Eric in a low, ugly voice. "Ah, you want it, do
you?"

Steve hit again and Eric countered and got in a blow on the younger
boy's neck that sent him staggering against the wall. Then arms wrapped
themselves around Steve and a voice said:

"Here, what's up, Eric? Cut it out, Edwards!"

Steve, struggling, found himself in the firm grasp of Innes, the big
first team centre-rush. "He called me a cheat!" he cried angrily. "You
let me go, Innes!"

"So he is a cheat," returned Eric contemptuously. "He swiped Carl
Upton's French composition and was going to hand it in as his own if
Daley hadn't caught him at it!"

"That's a lie!" cried Steve. "Ask Mr. Daley himself! You're saying it
because I kept you from making that touchdown, you--you----"

"Hold on, Edwards!" said Innes. "Don't call names." By this time the
passage had filled with fellows, among them Andy Miller. Miller pushed
forward.

"What's up, Jack?" he asked of the centre. Innes shrugged his big
shoulders.

"Oh, just a scrap. Run along, you fellows. It's all over."

"It isn't over!" declared Steve, still trying to detach himself from the
big fellow's grasp. "He's got to take it back! He's got to take it back
or fight!"

"Cut it out, Edwards!" said Miller sternly. "Don't act like a kid.
What's the trouble, Eric, anyway?"

"Oh, this kid got fresh with me," replied Eric with a malevolent glare
at Steve. "Said I had piano legs----" There was an audible snicker from
some of the audience--"and I told him to shut up and he made a swipe at
me and I shoved him away. That's all."

"He said I cheated!" raged Steve.

"So you did. You stole Upton's French comp. out of Daley's room and he
found it on your table."

"That's a lie! I don't know how that book got there. Mr. Daley will tell
you----"

"Cut it, Edwards! I saw you carry the book out of the room myself! Now
what do you say?"

"I say you lie! I say----"

"Stop that, Edwards!" Miller turned to Eric. "You've got no right to say
things like that, Eric, and you know it. I don't believe he did anything
of the sort. If he had, Mr. Daley would have had him expelled. Now you
two fellows stop squabbling. You've been at it all the fall. If you
don't, I'll see that you both lose your positions. And that goes!"

"Then tell him to let me alone," replied Eric with a shrug.

"Oh, forget it, Sawyer," exclaimed a voice down the passage. "You're
twice as big as he is. Let the kid alone."

"Sure, I'll let him alone," growled Eric with an angry glare in the
direction of the speaker. "Only he's got to stop getting fresh with me.
I've warned him half-a-dozen times."

"And you'll have to warn me half-a-dozen more times," responded Steve
grimly, "if you think I'm going to stand around and be called names. If
I were as big as you are, you wouldn't dare----"

"That'll be about all from both of you," said Andy Miller. "Now beat it.
If I hear of any more trouble from either of you while the season lasts,
I'll have you both out of the game in a wink. If you've got to row, do
it after we've beaten Claflin. Move on now! Get off the corner, all of
yez!" And Andy good-naturedly pushed the fellows before him down the
passage. Innes released Steve, but stepped between him and Eric.

"Come on, Edwards," he said with a laugh. "Be good and get your clothes
on. Cap will do just what he says he will, too. You take my advice, kid,
and bury the hatchet."

Steve went back to his locker, and with trembling hands dressed himself.
Harry Westcott and Tom joined him and asked in low voices about the
trouble. But Steve was non-communicative. He was wondering how much of
Eric Sawyer's charge the fellows who had heard it were believing.
Finally,

"No swimming to-day?" asked Tom.

Steve shook his head. "No," he answered. "Tell the fellows, will you?
I'm--I'm too tired. I'm sorry."

"It's pretty late, anyway," murmured Harry. Together the three crossed
the room toward the door. Already, as it seemed to Steve, fellows were
regarding him suspiciously. Eric was not in sight, having gone on to his
bath, for which two at least of the trio were thankful. Harry left them
at the corner of Torrence, and Steve and Tom went on in silence to their
room. Somehow it seemed difficult nowadays for them to find things to
talk about. Steve resolutely sat himself down and drew his books toward
him, while Tom, after fidgetting around for a few minutes, announced
that he was going over to the office to see if there was any mail, and
went out again. Steve was glad when he had gone, for he was relieved
then of further pretence of studying. He couldn't get his mind on his
books. The encounter with Eric Sawyer had left him irritable and
restless, and he couldn't help wondering whether the fellows believed
what Eric had said. He was grateful to Andy Miller for the latter's
support, but it was doubtful if Andy's words had convinced anyone. And
the charge was an ugly one. Steve winced when he considered it. It had
seemed to him as he had left the locker room that already the fellows
there had looked at him differently. He could imagine them talking about
him and weighing Eric's story. Further reflections were interrupted by
the reappearance of Tom, an open letter in hand and several newspapers
sticking from a pocket.

"Nothing for you but a couple of papers," he said. "What do you suppose
those silly fathers of ours are doing now?"

"Fighting a duel?" asked Steve with an attempt at humour.

"Not quite," Tom answered, "but they're getting ready for a law-suit."

"What about?"

"I can't make out," replied the other disgustedly, scanning the letter
again. "It's something about some contract for building supplies,
though. Gee, they make me tired! Always squabbling!"

"Who's bringing the suit, your father or mine?" asked Steve.

"Mine," said Tom hesitantly.

"Then I don't see that you need to blame my dad for it," retorted Steve.

"It takes two to make a quarrel, though," answered Tom sagely. "I don't
believe my father would start anything like that unless--unless there
was some reason for it."

"Oh, I suppose my father beat him out on a contract and he got sore,"
said Steve, with a short laugh. Tom looked across in surprise and
puzzlement. The tone was unlike Steve, while never before had they taken
sides in their fathers' disagreements. Tom opened his mouth to reply,
thought better of it and slowly returned the letter to its envelope.

"I guess it'll blow over," he said finally. "I hope so."

Steve shrugged his shoulders. "Let them fight it out," he said. "It may
do them good."

The next day it was soon evident to Steve that Eric Sawyer's story of
the purloined blue-book was school property. Fellows whom he knew but
slightly or not at all observed him doubtfully, others greeted him more
stiffly--or so Steve thought--while even in the manners of such close
friends as Roy and Harry and one or two more he fancied that he could
detect a difference. Much of this was probably only imagination on
Steve's part, but on the other hand there were doubtless many fellows
who for one reason or another chose to believe the story true. Steve was
popular amongst a small circle of acquaintances and well enough liked by
others who knew him only to speak to, but, naturally enough, there were
fellows in school who envied him for his success at football or took
exception to a certain self-sufficient air that Steve was often enough
guilty of. These, together with a small number who owed allegiance to
Eric Sawyer, found the story quite to their liking and doubtless told
and retold it and enlarged upon it at every telling. At all events,
Steve knew that gossip was busy with him. More than once conversation
died suddenly away at his approach, and he told himself bitterly that
the school had judged him and found him guilty. He passed Andy Miller in
the corridor between recitations, and Andy, being in a hurry and having
a good many things on his mind at that moment, said, "Hi, Edwards!" in a
perfunctory sort of way and went by with only a glance. Steve concluded
that even Andy was against him now, in spite of his defence yesterday.
In the afternoon it seemed that there was a difference in the attitudes
of his team-mates on the second, and, so inflamed had his imagination
become by this time, he even imagined he detected a contemptuous tone in
"Boots'" speech to him! The result was that Steve "froze up solid," to
use Roy's phrase, and, secretly hurt and angry, presented a scowling
countenance to the world that was sufficient to discourage those who
wanted and tried to let him see that they didn't believe Eric's story.

When he got back to his room after the swimming lesson that afternoon,
he found Tom nursing a very red and enlarged nose. He had a wet towel in
his hand and was gingerly applying it to the inflamed feature.

"What--where----" began Steve.

"Scrap with Telford," replied Tom briefly.

"What about?" demanded Steve.

"Nothing much."

"Let's see your nose."

Tom removed the towel and Steve viewed it. "He must have given you a
peach," he said critically. "What did you do?"

Tom smiled reminiscently. "Nothing much," he answered.

"Huh! Let's see your knuckles. 'Nothing much,' eh? They look it! Did
faculty get on to it?"

Tom shook his head. "No, it was back of the gym. Just the two of us. It
didn't last long."

"Who got the worst of it?"

"That depends on what you call the worst," answered Tom judicially. "I
got this and he got one like it _and_ a black eye. At least I suppose
it's black by this time. It looked promising."

Steve laughed. Then he said severely: "You ought to know better than
take chances like that, Tom. Suppose faculty got on to it. Besides,
fighting's pretty kiddish for a Fourth Former!"

Tom viewed Steve amusedly over the wet towel. "Coming from you, Steve,
that sounds great!" he said.

"Never mind about me. What I do doesn't affect you. What were you
fighting about?"

Tom looked vacant and shook his head. "I don't know. Nothing special, I
guess."

"Don't be a chump! You didn't black his eye and get that beautiful nose
for nothing, I suppose. What was it?"

"Well, Telford said--he said----"

"You're a wonder!" declared Steve. "Don't you know what he said?"

"I forget. It was something--something I didn't like. So I slapped his
face. That was on the gym steps. He said 'Come on back here.' I said
'All right.' Then we--we had it. Then he said he was wrong about
it--whatever it was, you know--and we sort of apologised and sneaked
off." Tom felt of his nose carefully. "I saw about a million stars when
he landed here!"

"That's the craziest stunt I ever heard of!" said Steve disgustedly.
"And you want to hope hard that no one saw it. If faculty hears of it,
you'll get probation, you chump."

"I know. It won't, though. No one saw us."

"Who's Telford, anyway?" Steve demanded.

"Telford? Oh, he's a Fifth Form fellow."

"What does he look like?"

"Look like?" repeated Tom vaguely. "Oh, he's a couple of inches taller
than I am and has light brown hair and--and a black eye!"

"Is he the fellow who goes around with Eric Sawyer?" demanded Steve
suspiciously. "Wear a brown plaid Norfolk? The fellow who shoved me into
the pool the night we had that fracas with Sawyer?"

"Did he? I don't remember. I didn't see who did that. I--I guess maybe
he's the chap, though. I've seen him with Sawyer, I think."

"What did he say?" asked Steve quietly.

"Who say?"

"Telford."

"When?"

"To-day! When you had the row! For the love of Mike, Tom, don't be a
fool!"

"I don't remember what he said."

"Was it about--me?"

"You? Why would it be about you?" Tom attempted a laugh.

"Was it?" Steve persisted.

Tom shook his head, but his gaze wandered. Steve grunted.

"It was, then," he muttered.

"I didn't say so," protested Tom.

"I say so, though." Steve was silent a moment. Then, "Look here, Tom,
there's no use your fighting every fellow who says things about me," he
said. "If you try that, you'll have your hands full. I--I don't care
what they say, anyway. Just you keep out of it. Understand?"

"Sure," answered the other untroubledly.

"Of course"--Steve hesitated in some embarrassment--"of course I
appreciate your standing up for me and all that, but--but I'll fight my
own battles, thanks, Tom."

"You're welcome," murmured Tom through the folds of the towel. "Keep
the change. I'll fight if I want to, though."

"Not on my account, you won't," said Steve sternly.

Tom grinned. "All right. I'll do it on my own account. Say, I'll bet
Telford's nose is worse than mine, Steve. I gave him a bully swat!"



CHAPTER XXI

FRIENDS FALL OUT


On the eleventh of November Brimfield played her last game away from
home. Chambers Technological Institute was her opponent. About every
fellow in school went over to Long Island and witnessed a very sad
performance by their team. The slump had arrived. That was evident from
the first moment of play. Brimfield was outpunted, outrushed and
outgeneraled. Chambers ran up 17 points in the first half and 13 more in
the last, while all Brimfield could do was to make one solitary
touchdown and a field-goal, the latter with less than thirty seconds of
playing time left. Williams missed the goal after the touchdown by some
ten yards. Not only was Brimfield outplayed, but she showed up
wretchedly as to physical condition. It was a warm day and the
Maroon-and-Grey warriors seemed to feel the heat much more than their
opponents and were a sorry-looking lot by the end of the third period.

The second team attended the game in a body, "Boots" for once relenting,
and looked on in stupefied sorrow while their doughty foe was
humiliated and defeated.

"Gee, I wish Robey would put us in in the next half," sighed Gafferty to
Steve after the second period had reached its sad conclusion. "I'll bet
you we'd put up twice the game the 'varsity has."

"I don't see what ails them," responded Steve quite affably. The
calamitous drama unfolding before him had for the moment made him forget
his rôle of aloofness and cynical indifference. "Why, even Andy Miller
is up in the air! He hasn't caught a pass once, and he's had four
chances, and he's missed enough tackles to fill a book!"

"One grand slump," said Gafferty. "That's what it is, Edwards, one
wonderful, spectacular, iridescent slump! And the only person who is
pleased is Danny, I guess. He's been begging the 'varsity fellows to get
stale and be done with it. And now they've obliged him. Too bad, though,
they couldn't have slumped the first of the week. It's fierce to be
beaten by a tech school!"

In the third period Coach Robey hustled the best of his substitutes on
in the hope of stemming the tide of defeat, and, while the new men
showed more dash and go, they couldn't stop the triumphant advance of
the black-and-orange enemy. To make matters worse, when it was all
over, Benson, who played right end, had a strained ligament in his
ankle, Williams was limping with a bad knee and Quarter-back Milton had
to be helped on and off the cars like a confirmed invalid. There wasn't
a regular member of the 'varsity who could have stood up against a hard
gust of wind five minutes after the final whistle had blown!

The school returned to Brimfield disgruntled, disappointed and critical.
There was scarcely a fellow on the train who didn't have a perfectly
good theory as to the trouble with the eleven and who wasn't willing and
eager to explain it. As for the game with Claflin, now just a fortnight
distant, why, it was already as good as lost! Anyone would have told you
that. The only point of disagreement was the size of the score. That
ran, according to various estimates, from 6 to 0 to 50 to 3. It was a
wonder they allowed Brimfield that 3! But all this was on the way home.
Gradually the reaction set in and hope crept back. After all, a slump
was something you had to contend with. It happened to every team some
time in the season. Perhaps it was lucky it had come now instead of
later. Of course, Chambers Tech was only a fair-to-middling team and
Brimfield ought to have beaten her hands down, but since she hadn't,
there was no use in worrying about it. By the time supper was over that
evening, the stock of the Brimfield Football Team had risen to close to
par, and anyone who had had the temerity to even suggest the possibility
of a victory for Claflin would have been promptly and efficaciously
squelched!

The Chambers game resulted in a shake-up. That it was coming was hinted
on Monday when only a few of the substitutes on the first were given any
work and four of the second team fellows were lifted from their places
and shifted over to what represented the 'varsity that day. These four
were Trow and Saunders, tackles; Thursby, centre, and Freer, half-back.
On Tuesday the first-string 'varsity men were back at work, with the
exception of Benson, whose ankle was in pretty bad condition. Thursby
was given a try-out at centre and Saunders at left tackle in the short
scrimmage that followed practice. Thursby showed up so brilliantly that
many predicted the retirement of Innes to the bench. Saunders failed to
impress Coach Robey very greatly and he and Freer and Trow went back to
the second the next day. The slump was still in evidence and the work
was light until Thursday. Benson was still on crutches and his place was
being taken by Roberts. Thursby ran Innes such a good race for the
position of centre-rush that a substitute centre named Coolidge suddenly
found his nose out of joint and faced the prospect of viewing the
Claflin game from the bench.

The school held its first mass meeting on Wednesday evening of that week
and cheered and sang and whooped things up with a fine frenzy. The
discouragement of the Chambers game was quite forgotten. Andy Miller, in
a short speech, soberly predicted a victory over Claflin, and the
audience yelled until the roof seemed to shake. Coach Robey gave a
résumé of the season, thanked the school for its support of the team,
pledged the best efforts of everyone concerned and, while refusing to
say so in so many words, hinted that Brimfield would have the long end
of the score on the twenty-fifth. After that the football excitement
grew and spread and took possession of the school like an epidemic.
Recitations became farces, faculty fumed and threatened--and bore it,
and some one hundred and fifty boys fixed their gaze on the twenty-fifth
of November and lived breathlessly in the future.

There was a second mass meeting on Saturday, a meeting that ended in a
parade up and down the Row, much noise and a vast enthusiasm. Brimfield
had met Southby Academy in the afternoon and had torn the visitors to
tatters, scoring almost at will and sending the hopes of her adherents
soaring into the zenith. To be sure, Southby had presented a rather weak
team, but, as an offset to that, Brimfield had played without the
services of the regular right end, without her captain and with a
back-field largely substitute during most of the game. There was nothing
wrong with Andy Miller, but it was thought best to save him for the
final conflict. The last fortnight of a football season is a hard period
for the captain, no matter how smoothly things have progressed; and
Brimfield had had a particularly fortunate six weeks. Andy Miller was
not the extremely nervous type, but, nevertheless, he had lost some
fourteen pounds during the month and was far "finer" than Danny Moore
wanted to see him. So Andy, dressed in "store clothes," saw the Southby
game from the side-line, hobnobbing with the coaches and Joe Benson,
still on crutches, and with Norton, who, after smashing out two
touchdowns in the first period, was also taken out to be saved.

There was no trace of the slump left, and the final score that Saturday
afternoon was 39 to 7, and the school was hysterically delighted, which
accounts for the added enthusiasm which kept them marching up and down
the Row in the evening until the patience of a lenient faculty was
exhausted, and Mr. Conklin, prodded into action by a telephone message
from the Cottage, appeared and dispersed the assembly.

The second team was to go out of business on Thursday, and several
members of it were eager to end the season with a banquet. Freer and
Saunders dropped in on Steve and Tom Sunday afternoon to talk it over
and win their support. It was a nasty day, rainy and blowy and cold, and
most of the fellows were huddling indoors around the radiators. Steve
and Tom, on opposite sides of the table, were chewing the ends of their
pens and trying to write their Sunday letters when the visitors came.
Steve was studiedly haughty, as, to his mind, became one who was
unjustly suspected of dishonesty. The visitors seemed puzzled by his
manner and presently addressed themselves almost entirely to Tom, who,
anxious to atone for his room-mate's churlishness, was nervously affable
and unnaturally enthusiastic.

"We don't see," explained Saunders, "why we shouldn't be allowed to have
a banquet after we quit training. We deserve it. We've done as much, in
a way, as the 'varsity fellows to win from Claflin. We've been the goats
all the season and it seems to me we ought to get something out of it.
What we want to do is to go to Josh and get him to give us permission to
have a blow-out in the village Thursday night."

"Or here," supplemented Freer, "if he won't let us go to the village.
What do you fellows think?"

"I think it's a good scheme," answered Tom. "And we might get one over
on the 'varsity, too. I mean we'd have our banquet and lots of fun
whether we won from Claflin or not, while the 'varsity, if it loses the
game, doesn't enjoy its banquet very much, I guess."

"Well, will you fellows come around to Brownell's room to-night after
supper? Al is willing enough, but, being captain, he doesn't want to
start the thing himself. We're going to see all the fellows this
afternoon and then have a sort of a meeting this evening about eight.
You'll come, Edwards?"

"Yes, thanks."

"All right. Come on, Jimmy. We've got several of the fellows to see
yet."

"There wouldn't be very many of us, would there?" asked Tom. "Now that
Robey has pinched Thursby there's only about fifteen left on the team."

"Sixteen, but we thought we'd get Robey to come if he would, and
'Boots,' of course, and maybe Danny. That would make nineteen in all."

"Where would you have it? Is there a hotel in the village?"

"Not exactly, but there's a sort of a boarding-house there; 'Larch
Villa,' they call it. They'd look after us all right. They've got a fine
big dining-room which we could have all to ourselves. We haven't talked
price with them yet, but Al says we could probably get a good feed for
about a dollar and a half apiece. That wouldn't be so much, eh?"

"Cheap, I'd call it," said Freer.

"We'd have beefsteak and things like that, you know," continued Saunders
enthusiastically, "things that are filling. No froth and whipped cream,
you know! And lots of gingerale!"

"Sounds good," laughed Tom. "I wish it was to-night. Do you think Mr.
Fernald will let us?"

"I don't see why not. I spoke to Mr. Conklin about it and he said he
would favour it if Josh came to him about it. If he won't let us go to
the village, we thought maybe he'd let us have our feed here after the
regular supper, if we paid for it ourselves. Well, you fellows show up
about eight. Don't forget, because we want to get the whole bunch there
and talk it all over and appoint a committee to see Josh."

Tom was silent for a minute after the visitors had departed. Then,
hesitatingly, "Steve," he said, "what's the good of acting like that
with fellows?"

"Like what?" asked Steve.

"You know well enough. Freezing up and talking as if you had a mouthful
of icicles. You might be--be decently polite when fellows come in. Freer
is a dandy chap, and Saunders is all right, too. But you treated them as
if they were--were a couple of cut-throats."

"I wasn't impolite," denied Steve. "As long as those fellows choose to
think what they do about me, you can't expect me to slop over with
them."

"You haven't any way of knowing what they think about you," said Tom
vigorously. "You take it for granted that every fellow in school
believes that yarn of Sawyer's. I don't suppose a dozen fellows ever
gave it a second thought."

"I know better. Don't you suppose I can tell? Almost every chap I know
treats me differently now. Even--even Roy--and Harry--act as if they'd
rather not be seen with me!"

"Oh, piffle!" exclaimed Tom indignantly. "That's a rotten thing to say,
Steve! Why, you might as well say that I believe the yarn!"

"You?" Steve laughed meaningly. "You wouldn't be likely to."

"Then neither would Roy or Harry. They haven't known you as long as I
have, but they know you wouldn't do a thing like that."

"I don't see why not," replied Steve stubbornly. "The book was found on
this table. And Sawyer says he saw me with it. I guess it would be
natural for them to believe what Sawyer says."

"They don't, though, as I happen to know," replied Tom stoutly. "Even if
you did bring the book up here, that doesn't mean that you were going
to--to use it. What really happened, I suppose, was that you took it up
without thinking and didn't realise you had it when you came back."

Steve stared at him incredulously. "Well, of all the cheek!" he gasped.

"What do you mean?" asked Tom.

"I mean that that's a fine thing for you to get off," answered Steve
indignantly. "You'll be saying next that you saw me bring the book in
here that night!"

"I didn't, but--hang it, Steve, the thing _was_ here! You told me so
yourself. I thought you confessed that you brought it up without
knowing."

"Oh, cut it," said Steve wearily. "I'm willing to be decent about it,
Tom, but I don't want to listen to drivel like that."

"Drivel?" repeated the other, puzzled. "Say, what's the matter with you,
anyway, Steve? I don't say you meant to cheat with the old book; I know
mighty well you didn't; I told Telford so and convinced him of it, too;
but I don't see why you need to get so hot under the collar when I--when
I simply remind you that you _did_ bring the book up here!"

"So _I_ brought it up, did I?" asked Steve with an ugly laugh.

"Well, didn't you? Who did, then? You know well enough I didn't."

"Do I? How do I know it? Look here, Tom, we might as well have a
show-down right now. I did not bring that blue-book into this room. I
did not take it out of 'Horace's'. But 'Horace' found it on this table,
poked under a pile of books. Now, then, what do _you_ know about it?"

Tom stared in wide-eyed amazement for a moment. "You--you mean to say
you think I did it!" he gasped finally.

Steve shrugged his shoulders.

"But--but you were here when I came back from downstairs, Steve! You saw
that I didn't have it!"

"I didn't see anything of the sort. I didn't notice whether you had
anything in your hands when you came in. Why should I? You might have
slipped it under your coat. There's no use trying that game, Tom."

"Then why--why did you tell 'Horace' you took the book yourself if you
knew you didn't?"

"Because one of us must have, you idiot."

"Oh, I see," answered Tom thoughtfully. "You wanted to keep me out of
it, eh? Look here, Steve, what would I want with Upton's composition? My
own was written two days before."

Steve shrugged his shoulders again impatiently. "That puzzled me. I
didn't know. You did say afterwards, though, that your own comp. was
pretty rotten. I didn't know but what----"

"You have a fine opinion of me, haven't you?" asked Tom bitterly.
"You've known me ever since we were kids at kindergarten and you think
that of me! Thanks, Steve!"

"Well, what----"

"Now you hold on! I'm going to tell you something." Tom was on his feet
now, his hands on the edge of the table, his gaze bent sternly on his
chum who was seated across the littered surface. "I didn't even see that
blue-book of Upton's. I'll swear it wasn't on Mr. Daley's table when I
went down there. I know nothing of how it got into this room. I tell you
this on my word of honour, Steve. Do you believe me?"

Steve's gaze met Tom's troubledly, then shifted. "Oh, if you say so, I
suppose I'll have to. But if you didn't bring the book up here----"

"That means you don't believe me," said Tom quietly. "Very well. Now,
one more thing, Steve." Tom's eyes were blazing now, though his face was
white. "Don't you speak to me unless you have to from now on, until you
come to me and tell me that you believe what I've told you!"

"But, Tom, you can see yourself that it's mighty queer! If you----"

"You heard what I said! Perhaps you think I owe you something for trying
to shield me from Mr. Daley. I don't, though. When you set me down for a
cheat you more than squared that account. That's all. After this I
don't want you to speak to me."

Steve shrugged his shoulders angrily. "That goes," he said. "When you
want me to speak to you, you'll ask me, Tom! And don't you forget it!"

Both boys went back to their letters in silence. After a while Steve put
on a raincoat and tramped down the stairs and over to Hensey. He meant
to call on Andy Miller, but Andy was out and only the saturnine Williams
was in the room. Although Steve had grown to like Williams very well,
yet, in his present mood, the right tackle was not the sort of company
Steve craved, and after a few minutes of desultory football talk he went
on. He would have called on Roy and Harry, but now that he and Tom had
quarrelled they would, he thought, side with Tom. In the end he found
himself in the gymnasium. Several fellows were splashing about in the
tank and Steve joined them. For an hour he forgot his troubles in
performing stunts to the envious appreciation of the others in the pool.
Applause was grateful to him that afternoon, and when he had dressed
himself again and, avoiding the room, had gone across to Wendell to wait
for the doors to open for supper, he felt better. Perhaps, he told
himself, Tom really didn't know anything about that plaguey book, but
even so he needn't get so cocky about it! Besides, someone must have put
the book on their table and--well, the evidence was certainly against
Tom!

It wasn't much fun eating supper with Tom at his elbow as grim and stiff
as a plaster statue. Fortunately, Steve was well into his meal before
Tom came in, and meanwhile there were others of the second team to talk
to if he wanted. With no Tom to converse with he found it difficult to
persist in his rôle of haughty indifference toward the others.
Besides--and it came to him with rather a shock--what they thought of
him was no more than he had been thinking of Tom! Hang it, it was all
pretty rotten! He'd like to choke Eric Sawyer!

It didn't take the rest of the fellows at the training table long to
make the discovery that the two friends were at outs. Trow, a
pale-faced, shock-haired chap, took delight in trying to engage them
both in conversation at the same time, thereby increasing the
embarrassment. Steve was heartily glad when he had finished his supper
and could leave the table. Returning to his room under the circumstances
was not appealing, but there seemed nowhere else to go. There was the
library, of course, but it was a dismal place on a Sunday evening, and
he didn't want to read. But, as it proved, he needn't have considered
avoiding the room, for Tom didn't return after supper, and Steve
finished his letter home in solitude. At eight he went over to Al
Brownell's room in Torrence, not because he was especially interested in
the project to be discussed, but because he had agreed to attend the
gathering and was glad, besides, to get away from Number 12 Billings.
Life in Number 12 didn't promise to be very delightful for awhile, he
thought dolefully.

In Brownell's room Steve carefully took a position as far distant from
Tom as was possible. There was a lot of talk and a good deal of fun, and
in the end Steve found himself chosen one of a committee of five to call
on the principal and request the permission they desired. At a little
after nine he walked back to Billings alone. Tom didn't return until ten
and then, with never a word between them, they undressed and went to
bed. Steve didn't get to sleep very easily that night. More than once he
was sorely tempted to speak across the darkness and tell Tom that he did
believe him and that he was sorry. And I think he would have done it,
too, in the end if Tom had not fallen asleep just then and announced the
fact in the usual melodic manner. Whereupon Steve frowned, punched his
pillow and flopped over.

"It isn't bothering him any," he thought. "If he wants me to speak to
him, he'll have to say so. Cranky chump!"



CHAPTER XXII

STEVE GETS A SURPRISE


Mr. Fernald was surprisingly complaisant on Monday when the committee
from the second team waited on him at the Cottage. He gave them
permission to hold their banquet in the village and even said several
nice things to them about their share in the development of the
'varsity. He warned them against rowdyism, told them they must be back
promptly at nine o'clock and said he hoped they'd have a good time!
After which, much surprised and not a little embarrassed, the committee
backed out of the room and returned joyfully to spread the tidings. A
second committee, headed by Saunders, had already been appointed to
arrange for the banquet in case permission was secured and by Tuesday
everything was complete. I may say here that the event duly came off on
Thursday evening and was a big success. But as neither Steve nor Tom was
present, our interest in the banquet is slight.

On Monday the _Review_ came out. The school paper was published on the
twentieth of the month, and the December issue contained, among other
features, a rather interesting résumé of the football season by Mr.
Robey and a list of the games played to date. The coach's article was
too long to reproduce, but the summary of the season's contests was
brief enough to be set down here:

          Sept. 30--Brimfield 10; Thacher 3

          Oct. 4--Brimfield 10; Canterbury 7

          Oct. 7--Brimfield 26; Miter Hill 0

          Oct. 14--Brimfield 3; Larchville 17

          Oct. 21--Brimfield 0; Benton 0

          Oct. 28--Brimfield 27; Cherry Valley 6

          Nov. 4--Brimfield 12; Phillips 0

          Nov. 11--Brimfield 9; Chambers 30

          Nov. 18--Brimfield 39; Southby 7

Brimfield had played nine games, of which she had won six, lost two and
tied one, not a bad record, as the _Review_ rather complacently pointed
out, for a school whose football history dated back but a few years. But
Brimfield didn't waste much time contemplating past performances. Had
the team won every game in its schedule by an overwhelming score, the
season would still be a dismal failure if it lost to Claflin, just as,
if it finally won its big game, the school would rise up and call it
blessed even had it lost every other contest of the season. In other
words, Claflin was the only foe that really counted, and the Claflin
game was the final test by which the Brimfield Football Team stood or
fell.

Claflin School, at Westplains, New York, some twelve miles distant from
Brimfield, was a larger school in point of enrolment, a very much older
school and far more "select." I don't intend to imply by that term that
the Claflin students were a finer set of fellows than those at
Brimfield. Doubtless they would have averaged up about the same. But
Claflin liked to be considered "select" and so I might as well accord
her the distinction. Claflin had been educating the youth of New York
and surrounding states for almost a hundred years, and nowadays fathers
applied for admission for their boys about as soon as the boys were
born. The school was in that respect like a club with a long waiting
list. If a boy wasn't "entered" by the time he was five or six years old
at the latest, he stood small chance of getting in when the time came.

Claflin had won from Brimfield three years on end, or ever since they
had been playing together. She had started out by according Brimfield a
mid-season date. The following year she had placed the game a week later
and last year she had put it last on her schedule, Brimfield having by
then proved herself an adversary of real merit. Oddly enough, Claflin
had for some time been without a special rival and had gladly bestowed
the honour on the Maroon-and-Grey as soon as the latter had shown
herself worthy. This fall Claflin had had an unusually successful
season, having played seven games and won all but the last, that with
Larchville. Larchville, who had defeated Brimfield 17 to 3, had also
taken the measure of Claflin to the tune of 12 to 6. Brimfield read of
it in the Sunday papers and took comfort. After all, Claflin was not
unbeatable it seemed. Her defeat by Larchville, coupled with Brimfield's
overwhelming victory over Southby, lent next Saturday's game a roseate
glow, viewed from a Brimfield view-point. In fact, by Monday Brimfield
was almost confident of at last winning from the Blue, and the question
of a proper celebration of the victory was up for discussion. Of course
it should be a whopping big bonfire, with a parade and speeches and
singing and plenty of music! But Brimfield had never yet celebrated such
a stupendous event and consequently there were no precedents to guide
them. Neither was it known what attitude faculty would take in regard to
such an affair. But a few choice spirits in the upper forms made
tentative arrangements to the extent of picking out a likely spot in a
corner of the athletic field for the fire and locating such loose
material as might come in handy as fuel.

Monday's practice was short and easy. Even the second had an off-day.
The 'varsity players were given a blackboard lecture in the meeting-room
in the gymnasium after supper and were put through an examination on
plays and signals. On Tuesday the practice was as stiff as ever. Coach
Robey was not altogether satisfied with the defence, and there were
forty-five minutes of the hardest sort of scrimmage in which the second
was given the ball at various distances from the 'varsity goal and told
to put it over. The field was closed to spectators that day and it was
hard hammer-and-tongs football all the way. "Boots" drove the second
with whip and spurs and the second responded nobly. But the best it
could do was to drop a field-goal over the bar in the third period of
the scrimmage, after having been held a half-dozen times by a desperate
adversary. Steve played about as well that afternoon as he had ever
played in his life. For once he had no worries on his mind. To be sure,
there was still his falling-out with Tom and his quarrel with the school
at large, but those things seemed rather to lend him a new strength than
to bother him. He played with a dash and a reckless disregard for life
and limb that made Coach Robey observe him with a new interest. Tom
performed with his customary steadiness and more than once put it over
on Fowler and on Churchill, who substituted him. They were some three
dozen very tired youths who finally straggled back to the gymnasium when
the work was over.

On Wednesday the last real practice of the season was to be held, since
the Thursday performance was more in the nature of an exhibition for the
school than real work, and on Friday afternoon the team was to journey
over to Oakdale, on the Sound, and remain there until Saturday forenoon.
But the weather proved unkind on Wednesday. In the middle of the
forenoon the wind veered around to the south and a drizzle of rain set
in. By three o'clock the drizzle had grown into a very respectable
downpour and the gridiron was slow and slippery. But Mr. Robey was not
to be deterred and, with Danny Moore anxiously hovering about like a hen
with a batch of ducklings, the 'varsity was put through a half-hour of
signal work, punting and catching. Then the second, wet and muddy, came
across to the first team gridiron and the two elevens leaped at each
other again. Danny followed close behind, cautioning and scolding, and
more than one player was dragged out of the mêlée and sent off to the
gym in spite of the coach's pleas and protestations.

"I'll not have them hurted," reiterated Danny stubbornly. "'Tis no sort
of a day for hard work, Coach. I've got 'em through this far an' I'll
not be havin' them breakin' their legs an' arms for the sake of a bit of
practice, sir."

"Hang their arms and their legs!" fumed Mr. Robey. "They might as well
not have any as start the game Saturday half-baked! Give me a chance,
Danny!"

"'Tis takin' big chances, sir, playin' 'em on this sort of a field."

"Then we'll take chances!" growled the coach. "Now get in there, first,
and rip it up! Show what you can do! You've got six to go on third down;
put it over! Wait a minute! Thursby! Get in there for Innes and hold
that centre of the line steady."

"Trot all the way in, my boy, and get a good rubbin'," directed Danny to
the discomforted Innes. "Hi! Put your blanket on! Are you crazy?"

"Play lower there, Hall! Throw them back, second!" entreated "Boots."
"Don't let them have an inch!"

Then the first piled through Brownell for three yards, slipping in the
mud, panting, grunting to the accompaniment of thudding feet and the
_swish_ of wet canvas. Above the players a cloud of steam hovered as
they disentangled themselves. Danny darted into the confusion. Benson
was on his back, thrashing his arms.

"Water!" bawled Danny.

A helper raced on with a slopping pail. Danny's fingers went exploring.

"Ankle," groaned Benson, and Danny shot a triumphantly accusing look at
Coach Robey. In a minute Benson was being helped off and the game was on
again, but Mr. Robey showed a distinct aversion to meeting the trainer's
glance. Later, in the gymnasium, it was known that Benson had hurt the
bad ankle again and would not be able to play the game through on
Saturday, even if he was allowed to get into it at all. Coach Robey
accepted the tidings with a shrug and a scowl.

"Fine!" he said sarcastically. "Claflin's left end is the best player
they've got. Roberts will stand a fine chance against him! Look here,
Danny, I thought you said Benson's ankle was all right?"

"So I did! And so it was all right!" sputtered Danny. "But I didn't say
he could go out an' play on a field like that to-day, did I?"

"All right. It can't be helped now. Where's Captain Miller?"

Danny bent his head backward toward the rubbing room. "In there," he
answered shortly.

"Heard about Benson?" asked the coach.

Andy, looking a trifle pale and tired, nodded silently as the rubber
kneaded his back. Mr. Robey frowned a moment.

"You'll have to change over," he said finally. Andy grunted agreement.
"And we'll have to take Turner or Edwards from the second to-morrow and
beat him into shape."

"Edwards is the better," said Andy.

"I suppose so. If he played the way he played yesterday and to-day he
might have a chance against Mumford. Still----"

"I'd better take that end," said Andy. "Let Roberts start the game at
left and then put in Edwards--unless Benson mends enough."

"He won't," said the coach pessimistically. "You can't play end with a
sore ankle. He's out of it, Andy. Tough luck, too. I'll find Edwards and
tell him to join the squad to-night. He's got to learn signals and plays
and----" The coach's voice dwindled into silence and he gloomed
frowningly out the window. "I wish now I'd let Danny have his way," he
lamented. "We could have run through plays indoors and had a hard
practice to-morrow. Well----" He shrugged his shoulders again and his
gaze came back to Andy. "How are you?" he asked. "You look a bit
fagged."

"I'll be all right after supper," replied the captain. "I'll be glad
when Saturday night comes, though." And he smiled a trifle wanly as he
slipped off the table.

Mr. Robey grunted. "So will I. Somehow, this year seems to mean more,
Andy. Still, there's no use in worrying about it. Much better not think
of it any more than you can help."

"I know," agreed Andy as he wrapped a big towel about his glowing body
and moved toward the door, "but when you're captain it--it's a whole lot
different. There's Edwards over there. Shall I call him?"

The coach nodded. "I think so. He's better than Turner, isn't he? Left
end is Turner's position, though."

"Edwards'll take to it quick enough. He's got more bulldog than Turner
has, too. I guess he's the man for us. Oh, Edwards! Will you come over
here a minute?"

Steve pushed his way through the crowded aisles, past Thursby who winked
and grinned and whispered "You're going to catch it!" past Tom who
turned his head away as he approached, past Eric Sawyer, a big hulk in a
crimson bathrobe, who scowled upon him, and so to where, by the rubbing
room door, the captain and coach awaited him. It was Mr. Robey who
brusquely made the announcement. The coach was anxious and tired to-day
and his voice was harsh.

"Edwards, you join the 'varsity to-night. We may have to use you at left
end. Benson's pretty badly hurt, I understand. Be upstairs at
eight-fifteen promptly. You've got to learn the signals and about
fifteen plays before Saturday. Tell your coach I've taken you, please."

"Yes, sir." Steve's eyes, round and questioning, turned to the captain.
Andy smiled a little.

"Rather sudden, eh?" he asked. "Do your best to learn, Edwards. Get the
signals and plays down pat. There isn't much time, but you can do it if
you'll put your mind on it. You wanted to make the 'varsity, you know,
and now you've done it, and here's your chance to make good, Edwards.
But you've got to work like thunder, old man!" He laid a hand on Steve's
shoulder and his fingers tightened as he went on. "Everyone's got his
hands full right now, you see, and there's no one to coach you much.
You've got to buckle down and learn things yourself. You can do it, all
right. And on Saturday, if you get in--and I can't see how you can help
it--you've got to play real football, Edwards. Think you can do all
that?"

"Yes." Steve's heart was thumping pretty hard and his breathing was
uncertain, as though he had raced the length of the field with a pigskin
tucked in the crook of his arm, and his gaze sought the floor for fear
those two would read the almost tragic ecstasy that shone in them.
"Yes," he repeated, "I'll learn. And I'll--I'll play!"

"All right. You'd better join the 'varsity table to-night. See Lawrence
about it. That's all." Coach Robey nodded and turned away. Andy Miller,
following, paused and stepped back. One hand clutched the folds of the
big towel about him, the other was stretched out to Steve.

"I'm glad, Edwards," he said in a low voice as Steve's hand closed on
his. Steve nodded. He wasn't quite certain of his voice just then.
"You'll do your best for us, won't you, old man?"

Steve gulped. "I--I'll play till I drop," he muttered huskily.



CHAPTER XXIII

DURKIN SHEDS LIGHT


Steve felt frightfully lonely that evening. He wanted so much to talk
over his good fortune with Tom. But Tom, very grave of countenance, sat
in frozen silence across the table and never so much as glanced his way.
Had he done so he might have caught one of the wistful looks bent upon
him and, perhaps, relented. Not being able to discuss the amazing thing
which had happened to him, detracted at least half the pleasure, Steve
sadly reflected. Of course Tom knew of it, for Steve had sat at the
'varsity training table at supper-time and he could still hear in
imagination the buzz of interest that had filled the hall when, somewhat
consciously skirting the second team table, he had walked to the corner
and sank into a seat between Fowler and Churchill. They had been very
nice to him at the 'varsity table. Only Roberts, who might be expected
to view his appearance with misgivings, had eyed him askance. Poor Joe
Benson was confined to the dormitory. Thursby, himself only a recent
addition to the big squad, grinned at Steve from the length of the long
table in a way which seemed to say: "They had to have us! I guess we
fellows on the second team are pretty bad, what?"

But now, back in his room, with his books spread out before him and his
mind in a strange tumult of elation and fear and dejection, he hardly
knew whether to be glad of or sorry for his promotion. Study, at all
events, was quite out of the question to-night, but luckily he was well
enough up in his lessons to be able to afford one hour of idleness. He
considered writing home to his father and recounting the story of his
good fortune to him, for it seemed that he must talk to someone about
it, and he even dragged a pad of paper toward him and unscrewed his
fountain pen. But, after tracing meaningless scrawls for several
minutes, he gave it up. He didn't want to write a letter; he wanted to
talk to Tom!

He saw the hands of his watch creep toward the hour of eight, after
which he might give up pretence of study, don a sweater and a pair of
canvas "sneakers" and go over to the gymnasium. The thought of that and
of the next three days put him in a blue funk. What if he couldn't learn
the signals, or, having learned them, forgot them in the game? What if
he disappointed Andy and Coach Robey when the time came? He had visions
of getting his signals mixed, of fumbling the ball at critical moments,
of losing the game through his stupidity. There were times when he
devoutly hoped that Joe Benson would recover the use of that ankle and
get into the contest so that he [Steve] might not be called on to take
part!

Then, at last, eight o'clock struck sonorously in the tower of Main
Hall, and he closed his books with a sigh of relief, piled them up and
went to the closet. When he was ready to go out Tom was still bent over
his studies. Steve hesitated a moment with his hand on the knob. He
wanted Tom to wish him luck. He wondered if Tom guessed how sort of
lonesome and scared he felt. But Tom never even raised his eyes and so
Steve went out, closing the door softly behind him, and made his way
through a dripping rain to the lighted porch of the gymnasium. Only a
half-dozen fellows were there when he reached the meeting room. The
settees had been moved aside and the floor was empty and ready for them.
Steve nodded to the others and perched himself on one of the low
windowsills to wait. In twos and threes the players stamped up the
stairs, laughing, jostling. Milton and Kendall, entering together,
seized each other and began to waltz over the floor. Steve wondered how
they could take such a serious business so light-heartedly. Then Joe
Lawrence, the manager, a football under his arm, came in with Williams
and, glancing at his watch, began calling the roll. In the middle of it
Coach Robey and Andy Miller and Danny Moore arrived. More lights were
turned on and Mr. Robey swung the blackboard on the platform nearer the
front.

"We'll try Number Six," he announced. Very quickly and surely he
scrawled the formation on the board, added curving lines and dotted
lines, dropped the chalk and faced the room. "All right, Milton.
First-string fellows in this and the rest of you watch closely."

"Line up!" chirped Milton. "Formation A!" The players sprang to their
places, their rubber-soled shoes patting softly on the boards.
"21--14--63--66!" called the quarter. "21--14--63----"

The backs, who had shifted to the left in a slanting tandem, trotted
forward, the ball was passed, the line divided and Still slipped
through.

"Norton, you were out of position," said Mr. Robey. "Look at the board,
please. Your place is an arm's length from left half. You've got to
follow closely on that. Try it again, please."

So it went for nearly an hour, the substitutes gradually taking the
places of the first-string players. Steve, who had had the signals
explained to him earlier, managed to get through without mistakes, but
as an end he had little to do in the drill. After the coach had watched
them go through some fourteen plays, the settees were dragged out into
the floor again, the players seated themselves and the coach drew
diagrams and explained them and examined the squad in signals as he went
along. It was all over at a little after nine, but not for Steve. Andy
Miller took him back to his room with him and for a good half-hour Steve
was coached on formations, plays and signals. When, finally, he went
back to Billings his head was absolutely seething and it was long after
eleven before sleep finally came to him. When it did, it was a restless
and disturbed slumber that was filled with dreams and visions.

He awoke earlier than usual the next morning, feeling almost as tired as
when he had gone to bed. But, although he strove to snatch a nap before
it was time to get up, sleep refused to return to him. His mind was too
full. Across the room Tom was snoring placidly, both arms clutched about
a pillow and his face almost buried from sight. Steve envied him his
untroubled state of mind. Then he began to go over what he had learned
the evening before and found himself in a condition of panic because for
the life of him he couldn't remember half of the stuff that had been
hammered into his tired brain! Steve was not the only fellow at training
table that morning who showed a distaste for the excellent breakfast
that was served. More than one chap looked pale and anxious and only
trifled with the food before him. Steve stumbled through recitations,
earning a warning look from "Uncle Sim," managed to observe more or less
faithfully the schedule he had set for himself and turned up at dinner
table with a very good appetite. After dinner he wrote a notice and
posted it on the bulletin board in the gymnasium.

"No Swimming Classes until Monday. S. D. Edwards."

The school turned out to a boy that afternoon and paraded to the field
to watch the final practice. Massed on the grand stand, they sang their
songs and cheered the players and the team all during a half-hour of
signal drill and punting. There was no scrimmage until the first-string
men had trotted off the field. Then the 'varsity substitutes and the
second team faced each other for fifteen minutes and the second scored a
field-goal. Steve played at left end on the substitute eleven, made one
or two mistakes in signals and failed at any time to distinguish
himself. But the game was slow and half-hearted, for the substitutes
were continually warned against playing too hard and so risking injury.
When it was over, the second cheered the 'varsity, the subs cheered the
second and the spectators formed two abreast again and trailed across
the field to the gymnasium and there once more cheered everyone from
Captain Miller and Coach Robey down to the last substitute--who was
Steve--Danny Moore and Gus, the rubber. It had drizzled at times during
the afternoon, but before the final "Rah, rah, Brimfield! Rah, rah,
Brimfield! Rah, rah, Brim-f-i-e-l-d!" had died away, the clouds broke in
the west and the afternoon sun shone through. This was accepted joyfully
as a good omen and the crowd outside the gymnasium broke into a chorus
of ecstatic "A-a-ays!"

Practice was over early, and at half-past four Steve, parting from
Thursby at the corner of Wendell, made his way along the Row, half
wishing that he had not cancelled the swimming hour to-day. At the
entrance to Torrence a voice hailed him from the doorway, and "Penny"
Durkin, wild of hair and loose-limbed, stepped out.

"Hello," said Durkin. "Say, I've got the dandiest rug upstairs you ever
saw, Edwards. It's a regular Begorra."

"What's a Begorra?" asked Steve with a smile.

"Oh, it's one of those rare Oriental rugs, you know."

"You mean Bokhara," laughed Steve.

Durkin blinked. "Something like that," he agreed. "Anyway, it's a peach.
Come up and have a look at it."

"No, thanks. I'm not buying rugs to-day."

"Tell you what I'll do," pursued Durkin, undismayed. "I'll fetch it over
to your room and you can see how it looks. It's got perfectly wonderful
tones of--of old rose and--and blue and----"

"Nothing doing, Durkin. We don't need any rugs."

"You're missing a bargain," warned the other. "Say, I've still got that
shoe-blacking stand I told you about. No, I didn't tell you, did I? I
left a note under your door one evening, though. Did you get it?"

"Note? Why, yes, I think so. Yes, we got it. I'd forgotten."

Durkin chuckled. "That was the time I gave Sawyer the scare."

"How?" asked Steve idly.

"Didn't he tell you?"

"Sawyer? Not likely." And Steve smiled.

"That's so, I did hear that you and he were scrapping one day. You used
to be pretty chummy, though, didn't you?"

"Never," replied Steve with emphasis. Durkin blinked again and looked
puzzled.

"Well, he was trying to find you that night. So I supposed----"

"What night?"

"The night I went to tell you about that shoe-blacking stand. It's
almost as good as new, Edwards----"

"You say Sawyer was looking for me that night? How do you know? He
couldn't have been, because I'd met him earlier in the hall downstairs."

"I don't know. He said he was. Anyhow, he was in your room----"

"Sawyer?" demanded Steve incredulously. "Eric Sawyer?"

Durkin nodded.

"You're crazy," laughed Steve.

"Well, he was," answered the other indignantly. "He came out just as I
was tucking that note under the door and fell over me and let out a
yell you could have heard half-way to New York. You see, I didn't know
there was anyone there. I knocked at first and thought I heard someone
moving around in there. Then I tried the door and it was locked----"

"You had the wrong room," said Steve. "We never lock our door except
when we go to bed."

"Wrong room nothing! You got the note, didn't you? Well, I didn't leave
any notes anywhere else."

"But--now, look here, Durkin. I want to get this right. You say you went
to our room and knocked and---- Was there a light there?"

"No. The transom was dark. When I couldn't get in I went back down the
corridor to where the light is and scribbled that note. Then I went back
and tucked it under the door. I guess I didn't make much noise because I
had a pair of rubber-soled shoes on and so Sawyer didn't hear me.
Anyway, he opened the door just then and it was fairly dark there and he
nearly broke his silly neck on me. Scared me, too, for the matter of
that! I didn't think there was anyone in there. Say, is there anything
up? You look sort of funny."

"N-no, nothing much. You're sure it was Sawyer who came out?"

"Of course I'm sure. He let out a yell and picked himself up and began
to scold. Wanted to know what I meant by it and I said I was sticking a
note under your door and he said 'Oh!' and something about wanting to
see you and waiting for you. Then he said he guessed you weren't coming
back yet and he'd go on."

"What time was this, Durkin?"

"Oh, a little after eight, I suppose; half-past, maybe. I stopped to see
Whittaker on the floor below, I remember. He said he'd look at that
stand, but he never did. If you want a bargain, Edwards, now's your
chance. I'll let you have it for a dollar and a quarter. It cost two and
a half. I bought it from----"

"Oh, confound your old stand! Look here, Durkin, will you tell Mr. Daley
just what you've told me if I want you to?"

"Eh?" asked Durkin in alarm. "Oh, I don't know. I don't want to get
anyone into trouble. I--I'd rather not, I guess. You see, Sawyer----"

"If you will, I--I'll buy your old shoe-blacking stand or your rug
or--or anything you like!" said Steve earnestly. "Will you?"

"Why, maybe I might if you put it that way. The rug's two dollars."

"All right," answered Steve impatiently. "Where are you going to be for
the next hour?"

"Upstairs, practising. Come and see it any time you like. It really is a
peach, Edwards, and it's scarcely worn at all. It--it's a prayer rug,
too, and they're scarcer than hens' teeth nowadays!"

But Steve was already yards away and Durkin shrugged his shoulders and
turned back into Torrence.

"Wonder what's up," he murmured. "I'd hate to get Sawyer into a scrape.
Still, if he will buy that rug----"



CHAPTER XXIV

THE DAY BEFORE THE BATTLE


Tom was attiring himself in his Sunday best. It was almost six o'clock
and one of Hoskins' barges was to leave Main Hall at half-past with the
members of the second team, for this was the evening of the banquet in
the village. Tom didn't feel unduly hilarious, however. He was sorry
that the football season was over, for one thing, for he loved the game.
And then existence of late had been fairly wearing and mighty
unsatisfactory. His quarrel with Steve was a tiresome affair and he
didn't see just how it was to end. For his part, in spite of the fact
that his chum had hurt him a good deal by his mean suspicion of him, he
was ready to make up, only--well, he had some pride, after all, and it
did seem as if the first overtures should come from Steve. No, on the
whole, Tom wasn't looking forward to the banquet with any great amount
of enjoyment. If Steve was going to be there, too----

Someone came hurrying down the corridor, the room door flew open and
there stood Steve himself, a radiant and embarrassed look on his face,
his gaze searching the room for Tom. His face fell a little as he found
the room apparently empty, and then lighted again as his glance
discovered Tom at the closet door, Tom half-dressed and with a pair of
trousers dangling over his arm. Out went Steve's hand as he turned.

"I'm sorry, Tom," he said simply. "I was a beast."

Tom took the hand that was offered and squeezed it hard.

"That's all right," he stammered. "So was I."

"No, you were right, Tom," answered Steve convincedly. "I hadn't any
business suspecting you of a thing like that. And--and I want to tell
you first that I knew I was wrong a long time ago, before this happened.
You believe that, don't you?"

"Yes, Steve, but--what is it that's happened?"

"It's all clear as daylight," said Steve, grinning happily as he seated
himself on the bed and tossing his cap toward the table. "It was Sawyer
did it. He put up the whole job. He fessed up when 'Horace' got at him.
Durkin met him coming out and----"

"Hold on!" begged Tom. "I don't quite get you, Steve!"

Steve laughed. "Sort of confused narrative, eh? Well, listen, then. Drop
those trousers and sit down a minute."

"All right, but the barge leaves at half-past----"

"Never you mind the barge, old man! You're not going in it. I'll come to
that later, though."

"Take your time," said Tom, dropping into a chair. "I love to hear your
innocent prattle."

"Shut up! It's like this, Tom. I met Durkin awhile ago and he got to
talking about that shoe-blacking stand. Remember the note he left here
that night?" Tom nodded. "Well, it came out that while he was putting it
under our door Eric Sawyer walked out and fell over him."

"Out of here?"

"Right-o! Sawyer said he'd been waiting to see me. Now you remember I'd
seen him coming out of Daley's room earlier, eh? Well, it seems that
Sawyer saw a chance to put up a game on me. So after I'd gone upstairs
again, he sneaked back to 'Horace's' room, got that confounded blue-book
of Upton's and waited his chance. After we'd left the room he came up
here and slid the thing among some books on the table there. While he
was in here Durkin came along and knocked and Sawyer slipped over and
locked the door. Then he waited until he thought Durkin had gone and
unlocked the door again and came out. But old Durkin had written a note
to us down under the light and come back with it and he was putting it
under the door when Sawyer came out and fell over him. Of course, when
Durkin told me that I had a hunch what had happened and I hot-footed it
to 'Horace.' He confessed that it was Sawyer who had told him he'd seen
me carrying off the book. So he streaked off after Sawyer, found him
somewhere and took him to Durkin's room. Sawyer----"

"Were you there too?" asked Tom excitedly.

"No, he told me to wait in his study for him. He was back in about a
half-hour looking sort of worried. Of course Sawyer had to own up. He
told 'Horace' that he'd just done it for a joke, but 'Horace' didn't
believe him for a cent. And there you are!" Steve ended in breathless
triumph. Tom viewed him round-eyed.

"What--what about Sawyer?" he asked.

"I don't know for certain, but I think Sawyer's on pro. Anyway, Tom, I
know this much: You don't go to any old banquet to-night."

"I don't? Why don't I?"

"Because I met Lawrence downstairs a few minutes ago. He was looking for
you."

"Wh-what for?" asked Tom faintly.

"Robey says you're not to break training, Tom! You're to report at the
'varsity table to-night for supper!" Whereupon Steve, his eyes dancing,
jumped from the bed and pulled Tom to his feet. "What do you say to
that, old Tommikins?" he exulted.

Tom, dazed, smiled weakly. "Do you mean--do you mean they want me to
_play_?" he murmured.

"Oh, no," scoffed Steve, pushing him toward the bed on which he subsided
in a heap. "They want you to carry the footballs and sweep the gridiron!
Of course they want you to play, you old sobersides! Don't you see that
with Sawyer on pro there's a big hole in the line? I suppose they'll
give Churchill the first chance at it, but he won't last the game
through. Think of both you and I making the 'varsity, Tom! How's that
for luck, eh? Not bad for the old Tannersville High School, is it? I
guess we've gone and put Tannersville on the map, Tom!"

"Gee, I'm scared!" muttered Tom, looking up at Steve with wide eyes.
"I--I don't believe I'll do it!"

"You don't, eh? Well, you're going to do it! Get your old duds on and
hurry up. It's after six."

"I'll have to tell Brownell I'm not going to the feast." Tom gazed
fascinatedly at his best trousers draped across the chair back. "Anyway,
I wasn't keen on going--without you," he murmured.

"There's only one drawback," said Steve a few minutes later, when they
were on their way to supper. "And that is that I promised Durkin to buy
a rug from him."

"A rug? We don't need any rug, do we?" asked Tom.

"Not a bit. But this is a genuine Begorra; Durkin says so himself. And I
agreed to buy it if he'd tell 'Horace' about Sawyer. Unless--unless
you'd rather have the shoe-blacking stand, Tom?"

"I would. If we had that, perhaps you'd keep your shoes decent!"

Steve tipped Tom's cap over his eyes. "Rude ruffian!" he growled
affectionately.

There was no practice at Brimfield Friday, for as soon as the last
recitation of the day was over the 'varsity team and substitutes piled
into two of Hoskins' barges in front of Main Hall to be driven over to
Oakdale, some five miles distant. The school assembled to see them off,
and there was much hilarity and noise. Joe Lawrence, note-book in hand,
flustered and anxious, mounted the steps and called the names of the
squad members.

"Benson!"

"Here," responded Benson from where, at the far end of one of the
barges, he sat, crutches in hand, looking a bit disconsolate.

"Churchill, Corcoran, Edwards, Fowler, Gleason, Guild, Hall, Harris,
Innes--Innes?"

"Coming fast!" shouted a voice from the edge of the throng, and the big
centre, suit-case in hand, pushed his way toward the barges.

"Right through!" laughed the fellows. "Hit the line, Innes! A-a-ay!"

"Kendall," continued Lawrence. "Lacey, Marvin, Miller, Milton, McClure,
Norton, Roberts, Still, Thursby, Williams!"

"All present and accounted for," announced a voice in the crowd. "Home,
James!"

Coach Robey and "Boots" appeared. Danny Moore, who with Gus, the rubber,
sat on the driver's seat surrounded with suit-cases, took the bags, Joe
Lawrence and Tracey Black, assistant manager, squeezed into the already
overcrowded barges, Blaisdell, baseball captain, called for a cheer
and, amidst a thunderous farewell, the squad, grinning and waving,
disappeared down the drive, through the gate and out on to the road.

Oakdale was fairly deserted at this time of year. Most of the summer
cottages were closed, but the little hotel kept open the year around,
and when, at four o'clock, the barges pulled up in front of it, fires
were snapping in the open fireplaces and everything was in readiness for
the squad's reception. Followed a very merry and rather boisterous time
while the fellows, bags in hand, sought their rooms to don their togs
and report for light practice on the lawn. There was only signal drill
to-day, and that was brief. Afterwards the centres practised passing and
the kickers limbered up a little, but by five the work was over and the
fellows were free to do what they liked. Some gathered around the two
big fireplaces in the hotel, others went for strolls along the road, and
still others, Steve and Tom amongst the number, sought the little cove
nearby where a diminutive and rather pebbly beach curved from point to
point and a boat-landing stuck out into the quiet water. The trees and
grass went almost to the edge and there were comfortable benches along
the bank from which one might look across the Sound to the Long Island
shore or watch the boats pass. It had been a fair, mild day and the
light still held. Steve and Tom sauntered down to the float and Steve
dipped an inquiring hand into the water.

"Say, that isn't a bit cold," he announced. "What do you say to a swim,
Tom?"

"Fine, only we haven't any suits."

"Maybe they've got some at the hotel. Let's ask." On the way up they met
Norton, Williams and Marvin. "Come on in swimming, fellows," called
Steve.

"Can we?" asked Norton. "Who says so?"

"Why not? We're going to see if we can find some trunks or something."

"All right. You'd better ask the coach, though." This from Marvin. "He's
in the office, I think. If you find any trunks bring some for us,
Edwards."

The clerk was rather dubious at first, but eventually returned with a
miscellaneous collection of bathing togs from which the boys finally
evolved three pairs of trunks and two suits. Meanwhile Mr. Robey had
given hesitant permission.

"If the water's very cold, Edwards, don't try it, please. And, in any
case, don't stay in more than ten minutes. That goes for all of you."

There was a bathing pavilion farther along, reached from the little
beach by a flight of wooden steps, and to this the five boys proceeded,
examining the attire the clerk had provided with much amusement.

"I won't be able to swim a stroke," declared Norton. "I'll just be
doubled up laughing at Hath in that blue-striped thing he has there."

"Huh," growled Williams, "I don't think you'll get any prizes for beauty
yourself!"

By this time the news of their exploit had gone out and other fellows
were hurrying to the hotel to seek bathing suits. A few secured them and
the rest followed down to watch. When they met outside, dressed for the
plunge, the five went off into gales of laughter. Hatherton Williams in
a blue-and-white-striped suit many sizes too small for him cut a
ridiculous figure, while Norton, whose faded red trunks had lost their
gathering string, held his attire frantically with one hand and implored
a pin! Tom's trunks were strained to the bursting point and Steve's were
inches too large for him. Only Marvin had fared well, being dressed in
what he called "a real classy two-piece suit." The two pieces didn't
match in either colour or material, but they nearly fitted and, unlike
Hatherton Williams' regalia, were innocent of holes. Norton declared
that he was extremely glad it was getting dark, since otherwise if the
pin one of the onlookers had supplied him with gave way, he'd have to
stay in the water.

Steve and Marvin led the way to the float and they all plunged in. Tom,
shaking the water from his head, faced Steve accusingly when he had
regained his breath. "Thought you said it wasn't cold!" he shrieked.
"It's freezing! Br-r-r!"

"Move around and get warm," advised Norton, striking out. "It isn't bad
when you get used to it."

But Tom, accustomed to the tempered water of the school tank, groaned
and refused to be optimistic. "Bet it isn't a bit over forty-five," he
muttered.

Steve was already well out in the cove, pursued by Norton. Some of the
boys who had failed to find suits had launched a decrepit rowboat and,
with one broken oar, were splashing about near the float. Far out in the
Sound a big white steamer passed eastward, her lights showing white in
the gathering darkness and the strains from her orchestra coming
faintly across the quiet water. The boys in the rowboat stopped
skylarking to discuss what steamer it was, and Marvin, who had swam up
behind and laid hands on the gunwale, told them that it was the
_Lusitania_ and that if they didn't agree with him he'd tip them over.
Discussion ceased at once. The four mariners instantly declared that he
was right. Churchill even went so far as to say that he had known it was
the _Lusitania_ all the time; that he could always tell her by her
funnels. Innes, who was seated in the stern and filling his position to
the limit, acknowledged that for an instant--oh, the merest fraction of
a second!--he had thought the steamer was the _Ne'er-do-well_, Berlin to
Kansas City, but that he had seen his mistake almost instantly! By which
time, the _Priscilla_, New York to Fall River, had passed out of sight,
and Marvin, merely tipping the boat until the water ran in a bit over
one side, just as a mark of esteem, swam off before Guild could reach
him with the broken oar.

Tom and Williams were paddling about not far off the landing, Tom
floating on his back most of the time and complaining about the
temperature of the water, when Norton swam up, puffing and blowing.

"Where's Steve?" asked Tom. Norton nodded toward the Long Island shore.

"Somewhere out there," he answered. "He was too much for me. I had to
quit. The chump swims like a--a dolphin. I'm going in, fellows. I'm
getting cold."

"I guess we'd all better," agreed Williams. "Hello! What's that?"

"_Help!_" From somewhere beyond the mouth of the little cove the cry
came, sharp, imperative, and was repeated again while they listened.

"It's Edwards," muttered Norton uneasily. "I suppose he's only trying to
get a rise out of us. He can swim like----"

"Must be," agreed Williams. "Can you see him?"

The cove was dim now and the surface of the water beyond held a sheen of
light that confused the vision.

"I'm not sure," muttered Norton. "I thought I did--for a minute."

"Who was that yelling out there?" shouted one of the fellows in the
boat.

"Must be Edwards," answered Williams. "Can you see him?"

"No. Do you suppose----"

"_Help!_ This way!" The cry came again, fainter now, and someone in the
boat seized the broken oar and began to churn the water with it, sending
the crazy craft circling about in its length.

"He's in trouble!" cried Norton. "Cramps, probably. I'm off, Hath. Will
you come? Where's Hall?"

"He started a minute ago," answered Williams, striking out with long
hard sweeps of legs and arms. "There he is, ahead."

"Come on with that boat, you fellows!" shouted Norton. "And hurry it
up!"



CHAPTER XXV

TOM TO THE RESCUE


"We've only got one oar," answered a desperate voice.

"Put it over the stern and scull it," directed someone on the float.
There was a splash in reply, and Innes, who had promptly vacated his
seat, crawled dripping to the landing. Hatherton, Williams, Norton and
Marvin were already swimming desperately toward the mouth of the cove,
while several fellows on land were running hard to the point, following
the curving shore. The rowboat was at last under way, but making slow
progress. Norton was the best swimmer of the trio, or, at least, the
fastest, and Williams and Marvin were soon hopelessly in the rear. But
Norton, if he could distance the other two, found that he was gaining
but slowly on Tom, who, swimming as he had never swam before, as he
didn't know he could swim, was already well out toward the mouth of the
cove.

His limbs were aching already, and his lungs were hurting as he fought
his way through the water and against a slow-coming tide. But the only
thought that possessed him was that Steve was in trouble out there,
perhaps drowning, and that he must get to him. The water splashed into
his eyes and blinded him, for Tom was not an adept swimmer, and not once
could he so much as sight Steve. Neither was the appeal for help
repeated and Tom's heart sank. Behind him, as he was dimly aware, others
were following, and he wished they would hurry. Once, when he was
opposite the points, he tried to call, but his lungs were too tired to
respond in more than a whisper. Then he was past the gloom of the cove,
the water was alight with the afterglow and little choppy waves dashed
against him. Gasping, he paused an instant, brushed one arm against his
dripping face and looked about him. For a moment nothing met his anxious
gaze. Then a darker spot on the darkening water appeared a dozen yards
away and Tom went on desperately, panic-stricken for fear that when he
reached it it would prove to be only a bit of driftwood.

[Illustration: It was Steve, Steve on his back, with only his head and
shoulders above the water]

But it wasn't. It was Steve, Steve on his back, with only his head and
shoulders above the water, eyes closed in a dead-white face and his arms
weakly moving now and then as though in an unconscious endeavour to keep
the helpless body afloat. A great wave of relief and joy almost stopped
Tom's heart for an instant. Then his hand went out and caught one of
Steve's wrists.

"It's all right, Steve," he gasped weakly. "Don't grab me. They're
coming with the boat."

There was no reply from Steve, and Tom, pulling the arm over his
shoulder, as he had seen Steve himself do so many times in the tank when
illustrating the way to rescue a drowning person, felt the weight of the
inert form on his back as he turned and strove to swim slowly back
toward the cove. To swim with one arm, even to keep himself afloat so,
was no light task for Tom, and now, with the weight of Steve's body
bearing him down, he found the struggle too much for him. He
relinquished all attempts to swim and centred his efforts in keeping
afloat. If only Norton and the rest would come! He listened. There was a
splashing somewhere nearby, but it was too dark now to see a dozen feet
away. Tom drew all the breath he could find into his lungs and let it
out in a weak shout.

"Help!" he gasped. "Here!"

Then there was an answering hail from close by, a mighty churning of the
water and a dim form plunged alongside.

"Have you got him?" cried Norton. "Give him to me, Hall. Hath! Over
here!"

Tom didn't relinquish quite all his burden, though. He still had one of
Steve's arms around his neck when, a minute later, Marvin and Williams
having reached them meanwhile, the rowboat appeared out of the darkness.
It was no light task to get Steve into the boat, but it was accomplished
somehow, and then, Tom dragging astern, hands clutching the gunwale
grimly, and the others, too, claiming at least partial support from the
boat, the rescuers turned shoreward. Wisely, Churchill, who handled the
oar, headed the boat toward the nearer point, and when the keel
grounded, eager hands were waiting to lift Steve out and hurry him back
to the hotel. Tom crawled out of the water and subsided on the bank,
still fighting for breath and feeling rather sick at his stomach.
Between Fowler and Milton he was lifted and half carried, weakly
protesting that he could walk all right and promptly crumpling up when
they allowed him to try.

Steve had been taken up to the room he was occupying, and Danny Moore
was administering to him when Tom was brought in and laid on his bed.
Steve was already talking weakly and Danny was telling him to keep
still.

"Don't be talking," he said. "Fit that bottle to your back and keep
covered up. You'll be fine in an hour. An' who've you got there? Well,
if it ain't my old friend Jim Hall!"

Tom smiled faintly as Danny bent over him.

"An' so you been tryin' to drown yourself too, have you?" continued
Danny. "Well, well,'tis queer tastes you have, the two of you! Drink a
bit o' this, Jim, and lie still."

Mr. Robey came in and Danny nodded reassuringly to him. "They'll be fine
as fiddles in an hour, Coach. Now you boys scatter out o' here an' leave
them have a bit nap."

Tom didn't remember much for awhile after that, for he must have fallen
promptly to sleep. When he awoke, the light was turned low and Steve was
sitting on the edge of the bed. On a chair beside him was a tray from
which appetizing odours curled toward him. Tom blinked sleepily.

"Hello," he murmured. "What's up?"

"I am and you're not," answered Steve. "I've brought you some supper.
Are you hungry?"

Recollection returned then and Tom observed his chum anxiously.

"Are you all right!" he demanded. "Did they say you could get up?"

"Of course. You can too after you eat. But you were asleep and Danny
said you might as well have it out. How are you feeling?"

Tom sat up experimentally and took a deep breath. "All right," he
answered stoutly, although as a matter of fact he was full of stiff
spots and queer aches. "And--and I'm hungry."

"Good stuff!" laughed Steve. He lifted the tray to Tom's lap and took
the covers from the dishes. "There isn't an awful lot here," he added
apologetically, "but Danny said you'd be better if you didn't eat such a
big supper. Do you mind?"

"No, I guess there's enough. That soup smells good. What's that there?
Roast beef? Fine!" And Tom fell diligently to work.

Steve watched in silence a moment. Then,

"I say, Tom," he said.

"Huh?" asked the other, his mouth full.

"You know I--I'm much obliged."

Tom nodded carelessly. "All right," he said in a gruff voice. "It wasn't
anything. Norton and Williams and those others did it."

"You got there first," said Steve. "I guess if you hadn't I--I wouldn't
have waited for the rest. It was mighty plucky, and--and I----"

"Oh, cut it," growled Tom. "It wasn't anything, you ass. What the
dickens did you go away out there for anyway?" Tom became indignant.
"Haven't you got any sense?"

"Not much," laughed Steve. Then, soberly, "It's the first time I ever
had cramps, and I don't ever want them again! I thought I was a goner
there for a while, Tom. They caught me right across the small of my back
and I couldn't any more move my legs than I could fly. All I could do
was shout and wiggle my arms a bit, and the pain was just as though
something--say a swordfish--was cutting me in two!" Steve shook his head
soberly. "It--it was fierce, Tom!"

"Serves you right! You had no business swimming way out there in water
like that and scaring us all to pieces!" Tom was very severe as to
language, but the effect was somewhat marred by the fact that he had
filled his mouth with food. Nevertheless, Steve took the rebuke quite
meekly. All he said was:

"And think of you rescuing me, Tom! Why, you aren't any sort of a
swimmer! But it certainly was mighty pluck----"

Tom pointed a fork at Steve and interrupted indignantly. It was
necessary to head Steve off from further expressions of gratitude. "I
like your cheek!" said Tom. "Can't swim! How do you suppose I got out
there to you, you silly chump? You didn't see any water-wings or
life-preservers floating around, did you? Or do you think I walked?
Can't swim! Well, of all the----"

"You know what I mean, Tom. I meant you couldn't swim--er--well, that
you weren't a wonder at it!"

"Huh!" grunted Tom. "Don't you talk about swimming after this. You
weren't doing much of it when I got to you!"

"No one can swim when he has cramps," responded Steve meekly. "How was
the supper?"

Tom gazed at the empty dishes. "All right--as far as it went. I'm going
to get up. What time is it and what's going on downstairs?"

"Nothing much just now. We just got through supper. They're taking the
chairs and tables out of the dining-room so we can have signal drill at
eight. Mr. Robey said you were to get into it if you felt all right.
There's someone else downstairs who wants to see you too." And Steve
grinned wickedly. "I told him I'd try to arrange an interview."

"Who is it?" asked Tom suspiciously.

"His name is Murray."

"I don't know any Murray. What is this, a joke?"

"Far from it, Tom. Mr. Murray is a newspaper man. He came over to get
the line-up for to-morrow's game from Mr. Robey and got here just as
they were talking about that silly stunt of mine. He laid around and
waited for me and got it all out before I knew he was a newspaper chap.
Now he wants to see you. I _think_ he wants your photograph, Tom!"

"You were a silly ass to talk to him, Steve. He will go and put it in
the paper, I suppose."

"Wouldn't be surprised," agreed Steve, smiling. "He seemed to think he
had a fine yarn. Of course I laid it on pretty thick about your heroism
and all that."

Tom viewed him darkly as he got into his coat. "If you did
I'll--I'll----"

"Take me back to the Sound and drop me in again! No, I didn't, Tom, but
he does know all about it and of course he will put it in the papers.
'Boots' says the--the Something-or-Other Press will get hold of it and
send it all over the country. I've been wondering whether we ought to
telegraph the folks so they won't have a fit if they read about it
to-morrow."

"What's the use? They'll know you're all right. Bet you that Mr.
Newspaper Man doesn't catch me, though! Who's that hitting the ivories?"

"Gleason, I guess. He was playing before supper. He's fine, too. Knows a
whole bunch of college songs and stuff from the musical shows. We're
going to have a concert after practice. They say Danny Moore can sing
like a bird. Andy was telling me that last year they had a regular
vaudeville show here. Everybody did something, you know; sang or danced
or spoke a piece. It must have been lots of fun. I wish----"

Steve, who had been wandering around the room, hands in pockets, paused
as he caught the expression on Tom's face. "What's the matter?" he
asked.

"That's what I want to know," replied Tom. "Seems to me you're mighty
chatty all of a sudden. Is it the effect of the bath?"

Steve smiled, sighed and shook his head. "Tom," he said, "I've just got
to talk or do something this evening. I--I'm as nervous as a--a cat!
Ever feel that way?"

Tom viewed him scornfully as he patted his tie into place. "Have I? Why,
you silly chump, I'm scared to death this minute! Whenever I think
about--about to-morrow I want to run down to the ocean and swim straight
across to Africa!"

"Honest?" Steve brightened perceptibly. "But you don't show it, Tom."

"What's the good of showing it? All I hope is that the barge will make
so much noise going back to-morrow that you won't hear my knees knocking
together!"



CHAPTER XXVI

AT THE END OF THE FIRST HALF


Saturday dawned clear and crisp, with a little westerly breeze stirring
the tops of the leafless trees and fluttering the big maroon flag with
the grey B that hung from the staff at the back of the grand stand. That
was not the only flag displayed, for here and there all along the Row
small banners hung from windows, while to add to the patriotic effect
all the red and grey cushions in school were piled against the casements
to lend their colour. There were few recitations that morning and there
might just as well have been none, I fancy. The squad got back from
Oakdale at one-thirty, after an early dinner, and were driven directly
to the gymnasium, pursued by the school at large with vociferous
greetings.

Claflin began to put in an appearance soon after that. Hitherto
Brimfield had travelled to Westplains to meet her rival, and this was
the first time that the Blue had invaded the Maroon-and-Grey fastness.
Hoskins did a rushing business that day, for Claflin had sent nearly her
entire population with the team, and many of the visitors were forced
to walk from the station. There was an insouciant, self-confident air
about the Claflin fellows that impressed Brimfield and irritated her
too. "You'd think," remarked Benson, watching from a window in the gym
the visitors passing toward the field, "that they had the game already
won! A stuck-up lot of dudes, that's what I call them!" But Benson was
not in the best of tempers to-day and possibly his judgment was warped!

The Claflin team arrived in one of Hoskins' barges and took possession
of the meeting-room upstairs to change into their togs. They were a
fine-looking lot of fellows, and they, too, had that same air of
confidence that Benson had found annoying. By a quarter past two the
stage was set. The grand stand was filled to overflowing, the settees
and chairs, which had been brought out to supplement the permanent
seats, were all occupied, and many spectators were standing along the
ropes. Over the stand the big maroon-and-grey banner floated lazily in
the breeze. The field had been newly marked out and the cream-white
lines shone dazzlingly in the sharp sunlight. It was a day for light
wraps and sweaters, but many visitors, arriving in motor cars that were
now parked behind the gymnasium, were clad in furs. It was distinctly a
social occasion, for fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts and
uncles had descended upon the school in numbers and half the fellows
were parading around before the hour set for the game with admiring
relatives or friends, showing their rooms and the dining-hall and the
gymnasium, and looking all the time a bit bored at the fuss and secretly
enjoying it. Harry Westcott was seen with his father and sister in tow,
while Roy Draper was surrounded by an enthusiastic flock of female
relatives.

Overhead a clear blue sky, scarcely so much as flecked with a cloud,
arched radiantly. The breeze was much too light to place a handicap on
either goal, and when, at a quarter after two, the visiting team trotted
across from the gymnasium, ducked under the rope at the end of the grand
stand and started to warm up it was seen that the long punts she sent
away showed scarcely any influence from the wind. Of course Claflin,
banked at the east end of the stand, greeted her warriors royally, and,
of course, Brimfield gave them a hearty cheer, too. But that acclaim was
nothing to the burst of applause that went up when the home team, twenty
strong, led by Andy Miller, romped on. Then Brimfield shouted herself
hoarse and made such a clamour that the cheer which the Claflin leaders
evoked a moment later sounded like a whisper by comparison.

Ten minutes of brisk signal work, punting, catching and goal-kicking
followed, and then, while along the road an occasional screech from a
belated automobile sounded, the teams retired to opposite sides of the
field, the maroon-and-grey megaphones, which had been keeping time to a
song sung by some hundred and thirty youths, died away and the
comparative quiet that precedes the beginning of battle fell over the
field. The officials met on the side line and then, accompanied by
Captain Miller, walked to the centre of the field. From the farther side
a blue-sleeved and blue-stockinged youth advanced to meet them. A coin
spun, glittering, in the air, fell, rolled and was recovered. Heads bent
above it, the group broke up and Andy Miller waved to his players. Then
blankets and sweaters were cast aside and ten maroon-sleeved youths
gathered about their leader. There was a low-voiced conference and the
team scattered over the east end of the field. Brimfield had won the
toss, had given the kick-off to Claflin and Captain Burrage had chosen
the west goal and what slight advantage might come from a breeze at his
back.

Andy Miller and the two coaches had arranged the line-up the evening
before. There had been some indecision as to filling one or two
positions for the start of the game, and the line-up as it was presented
when the whistle blew held several surprises for the school. Here it is,
and the Claflin list as well:

          BRIMFIELD.                             CLAFLIN.

          Roberts, l. e.                   r. e., Chester
          Lacey, l. t.                       r. t., Mears
          Fowler, l. g.                    r. g., Colwell
          Innes, c.                            c., Kenney
          Hall, r. g.                      l. g., Johnson
          Williams, r. t.                  l. t., Bentley
          Miller, r. e.                    l. e., Mumford
          Milton, q. b.                   q. b., Ainsmith
          Harris, l. h. b.              r. h. b., Burrage
          Kendall, r. h. b.          l. h. b., Whittemore
          Norton, f. b.                   f. b., Atkinson

"Are you ready, Brimfield? Ready, Claflin?"

The whistle piped, a Claflin linesman stepped forward, swung a long leg
and the battle was on. Williams caught the ball on the thirty-yard line.
On a fake kick play Miller tried Claflin's right tackle and made but two
yards. Norton punted to Claflin's thirty, where Burrage fumbled the
ball and Ainsmith recovered it. Claflin at once punted out of bounds to
Brimfield's forty-five-yard mark. Kendall made three yards around the
enemy's right end and then, on the next play, failed at the line. Milton
tried a forward pass to Miller, but the ball grounded and Norton kicked
to Claflin's twenty-yard line.

Two tries by the Blue netted little and she again punted and the ball
was Brimfield's on her own forty-seven yards. Harris failed to gain
through Claflin's left tackle and Brimfield was penalised fifteen yards
for holding. On a criss-cross against left tackle Harris was tackled for
a loss and Norton then punted to Whittemore and the latter ran the ball
back fifteen yards before he was stopped. On a try through Hall the
Blue's full-back failed to gain. But on a second attempt at the other
side of centre he smashed through for seven yards. A delayed pass by the
Claflin quarter gave his side first down on Brimfield's thirty-five-yard
line. Atkinson again tried Hall and gained less than a yard. Ainsmith
attempted the Brimfield left end and was thrown by Harris for a
five-yard loss. Captain Burrage tried Brimfield's right end and failed.
With one down left and fifteen yards to gain Burrage tried a forward
pass. It was successfully captured, but the distance was short and the
pigskin went to Brimfield on her thirty-eight yards.

Norton punted on first down and Claflin returned it. Kendall misjudged
the ball and it rolled to the Maroon's twelve yards. Milton fell on it
there. Kendall and Norton gained two yards each through centre, and
Norton punted to Brimfield's forty-five yard line, where Burrage made a
fair catch.

The stands grew very quiet while the Claflin quarter-back poised the
ball. Then Burrage stepped forward and sent it speeding away. But the
kick was short and Norton caught the ball on his five-yard line and,
behind excellent interference, ran it back to the thirty-yard line
before he was thrown by Chester. From there Norton punted to the Blue's
thirty and Claflin returned the punt on first down to her adversary's
forty yards. Harris caught it, but was nailed in his tracks by Mumford,
who made a spectacular tackle which won applause from friend and foe
alike. Time was called for an injury to Mumford, but he was soon on his
feet again.

Claflin was penalised for off-side on the next play. Norton went through
right guard for first down and Brimfield shouted joyously. Kendall
failed to gain. Norton made a yard and then dropped back to kick
formation. The play, however, proved to be a forward pass to Roberts.
Roberts was out of position and the pigskin was intercepted by the
Claflin quarter. It was then the Blue's ball on her forty-five yards.
Hall let the runner through for a yard and Claflin pulled off a
successful forward pass to her left end on Brimfield's thirty-nine-yard
line. The Blue's full-back was stopped in an attempt on the opposite
right tackle and a penalty for off-side brought the ball to near the
middle of the field. Claflin then punted to Brimfield's seven yards and
the whistle sounded the end of the first quarter.

The stand cheered while the players traversed the field to line up under
the shadow of the west goal.

Brimfield thrust Norton at the Claflin centre when the play began again
and the big full-back made three yards. Then he dropped behind his
goal-line and punted, the ball going out of bounds at the twenty-four
yards. Claflin cheered loudly as the teams lined up.

Claflin's full-back made a yard through the centre, but lost the
distance when, on the next down, he went against Lacey. Captain Burrage
dropped back to kicking position on the thirty-five-yard line and once
more Brimfield's goal was in danger. The pass was straight and true.
Burrage dropped the ball and swung his foot. But two Brimfield forwards
had broken through and as the ball left the ground Andy Miller blocked
it. There was a mad scramble for the pigskin, Williams at last falling
on it on his twenty-five yards. Norton punted poorly, the ball going
diagonally across the gridiron, and it was Claflin's first down on
Brimfield's twenty-eight yards. Atkinson came through centre for a yard,
and then Burrage once more dropped back for a try at goal. The attempt
looked rather desperate, for the kicker was standing almost on the
forty-yard line, but Brimfield's supporters held their breaths until the
Claflin half-back had swung his long leg. Then a vast shout of relief
went up from where the maroon-and-grey megaphones waved tumultuously,
for Burrage had made a bad mess of the drop-kick and the ball rolled
along the ground and was captured by a Brimfield back.

Still went in for Harris, who had been hurt in the scramble. On the
second down, with seven to go, Norton received the ball at full speed
from Milton, broke through the Claflin line and, pursued by the wild
cheers of the Brimfield spectators, made fifty-five yards through a
broken field, at last landing the ball on Claflin's twenty-yard line.
It looked as though Brimfield's moment of victory was at hand. Time was
taken out for a Claflin injury and eventually Atkinson was replaced by a
substitute. Brimfield made two tries at the enemy's right end and gained
four yards. Williams dropped out of the line and retreated to Claflin's
twenty-five-yard line. The ball was almost opposite the middle of the
cross-bar when it went back to him on the pass from centre, but Innes
had thrown it low and Williams was hurried by the Blue's forwards, who
came crashing through. The ball went three yards wide of the left-hand
upright and Brimfield in the stand groaned.

Claflin put the ball in play on her twenty-five yards and Whittemore
punted to Milton on Brimfield's forty-five. Milton plunged back some
twelve yards before he was brought down. Norton punted on second down to
the Blue's ten yards and the ball was run back ten by the Claflin
quarter. The game then became a punting duel and after three exchanges
Kendall, getting the ball on his own thirty-five-yard line, ran it back
to the opponent's forty, dodging beautifully through a broken field and
throwing off at least a half-dozen tacklers. Brimfield tried Claflin's
left tackle twice and totalled five yards. A penalty, however, set her
back ten yards, and Norton punted again to Claflin's twenty yards.
Gleason was sent in by Coach Robey in place of Lacey. Claflin failed to
gain and Whittemore punted to Still on the Maroon's forty-four yards.
Norton tried the enemy's centre and failed of a gain and then punted out
of bounds at Claflin's fifteen. Claflin sent in a substitute right end
and Coach Robey put Corcoran in for Kendall. Claflin punted to midfield
and Corcoran made one yard through the enemy's centre. An off-side play
by the Blue gave Brimfield five yards and took the ball to the Blue's
forty. Still gained two at left tackle and the half ended with the
pigskin on Claflin's thirty-eight yards, the score 0 to 0.

The teams trotted off, blanket-draped, toward the gymnasium, the
substitutes trailing along behind, and the stand broke into excited
discussion of the game. So far the honours had been fairly even,
although toward the end of the second period the ball had remained in
Claflin territory most of the time. In fact, after Williams' try for
goal, the pigskin had never been nearer to Brimfield's last white mark
than her thirty-five-yard line. Claflin averaged some four and a half
pounds more than the home team, but in spite of that an unbiased critic
would have given Brimfield the honours in the attacking game. Her play
seemed smoother, her men better drilled. Neither team had shown great
ability at line-plunging, although Norton's fine rush of fifty-five
yards and Kendall's run of twenty-five gave Brimfield the benefit of the
ground-gained figures. Each side had good reason to claim the ultimate
victory, and each did so, meanwhile cheering and singing and working the
enthusiasm up to a fine pitch.



CHAPTER XXVII

STEVE SMILES


Steve caught up with Tom on the way to the gymnasium. Tom was a
disreputable looking object. His upper lip had been cut and had swollen
to almost twice its normal size, and he had lost half an inch of skin
from one cheek. When he smiled, which he did as Steve grabbed him by the
arm, the effect was absolutely diabolical.

"You're the goods, Tommikins!" exclaimed Steve, squeezing the arm he
held. "They didn't make an inch through you. You were great!"

"They got through once or twice," mumbled Tom.

"Oh, for a yard or so," scoffed Steve. "Who gave you that peach of a
mouth, Tom?"

"Johnson, I think." He touched it gingerly. "It feels as big as a
house."

"You're a blooming hero, Tom. Say, Marvin told me the New York papers
have got all about that business at Oakdale yesterday. He didn't see it,
but someone told him. Wouldn't you love to read what they say? I'm
going to get the papers as soon as the game's over."

"Silly rot," mumbled Tom. They were waiting for the throng ahead to get
through the doorway. When they followed Tom paused a moment in the
hallway, his gaze following the striped legs of the Claflin players as
they went up the stairs. Steve tugged at his arm.

"Come on, slow-poke! What's the matter?"

"Nothing. That is, I was just thinking how rotten those fellows will
feel if they get beaten."

"Maybe they won't," said Steve soberly. "If they don't, think how rotten
we'll feel!"

Tom smiled, wincing with the twinge from his swollen lip. "I suppose
someone's got to feel bad. Come on."

In the locker room and in the rubbing room beyond all was bustle. The
rubber was hard at work over the table and Danny Moore was already busy
with surgeon's plaster and medicated gauze and nasty smelling lotion.
There was very little talk as yet. Fellows sank on to benches and
wearily relaxed their tired muscles. Mr. Robey and "Boots" were
consulting in low tones by one of the grated windows. Tom eased himself
to a seat and began to strip down one torn woollen stocking, displaying
an abrasion along the shin bone that brought an exclamation from Steve.

"Shut up," said Tom. "Swipe a bunch of that absorbent cotton from Danny
for me, will you? If he sees this he will make a fuss about it. I don't
want it to get stiff on me. Hi, Fowler, how is it?"

"All right," replied the left-guard, working a bunch of bleeding
knuckles experimentally. "It was hot work, though. Can we hold them next
half, Hall?"

"Sure! They're as tired as we are, I guess. Besides, we had them on the
run there toward the last."

Tom dragged himself off to the wash-room to bathe his leg with the
cotton Steve had brought.

"Ten minutes more," announced Lawrence.

"Hurry in to the table, you fellows," called Danny. "Williams, come here
and let me see that knee of yours."

"It's all right now, Danny," said Williams. But he limped across and was
freshly bandaged. Mr. Robey left the window and sought Captain Miller,
while "Boots," consulting the scribbled notes in his little book, went
from player to player, criticising and advising.

"Five minutes!" called Lawrence.

"Hurry up, fellows," said Coach Robey. "Don't let's keep them waiting.
Everyone all right? Just a word then. You fellows played well, and I
want to tell you so. You made mistakes; everyone does. Never mind that
now. You've got another chance. That's the main thing. We're going to
win this game. We're going to score two touchdowns and we're going to
hold them off, fellows. You can do it if you make up your minds to. I
want every one of you to go back on the field looking as though you'd
just come out of a Turkish bath and hadn't done a lick of work. I want
every mother's son of you to smile from the time you leave this building
until the last whistle blows. If I see one of you who isn't smiling I'll
pull him out! We want to make those fellows understand right away that
we're going to win, that we _know_ we're going to win and that we can't
help being happy about it! But you've got to do more than smile. You've
got to work like the dickens! You've got to work just about twice as
hard as you've been working. Any one of you who thinks he can't do that
say so now." Mr. Robey's eyes searched the earnest, attentive faces
around him. "All right. Now, there's just one important criticism I've
got to make. You fellows were slow. Milton was slow in getting his
signals off and the rest of you were slow in starting. If you'll speed
up you'll get the jump on those fellows every time. I want to see you do
it. I want to see you _jump_! I'll pull out the first man of you who
doesn't start the instant the play begins. Understand that, please. I'll
forgive mistakes, but I won't stand for slowness. All right. Here's the
line-up: Edwards, Gleason, Fowler, Thursby, Hall, Williams, Miller,
Milton, Still, Kendall, Norton. How much time is there, Joe?"

"About three minutes," answered Lawrence.

"All right. On the trot now!"

The cheer leaders leaped to their places as the teams came hustling back
to the field and waved their megaphones and dropped them and beat time
with clenched hands as the cheers burst forth.

"_Rah, rah, Brimfield! Rah, rah, Brimfield! Rah, rah, Brimfi-e-ld!_"

"_Claflin! Claflin! Claflin! Rah, rah, rah, Claflin! Claflin! Claflin!_"

And then Fowler had thudded the ball away with a long swing of his foot
and the last half had begun.

The Claflin full-back pulled the ball out of the air, quick interference
formed about him and he came charging back up the field.
Five--ten--fifteen yards! Then Miller pulled him down with a savage
tackle and the two teams faced each other. Umpire and referee dodged out
of the way, Ainsmith called his signals and a back tore at Williams. The
secondary defence sprang to the point of attack. There was an instant of
confused heaving and swaying. Then the whistle sounded and the lines
straightened again.

"Second down! Seven to gain!"

Steve, profiting by Miller's advice, kept his gaze fixed on the face of
the opposing end who was edging out into the field. Then the ball was in
play and the Claflin end came tearing down upon him, dodged to the right
and then strove to slip past him inside. But Steve met him squarely with
his shoulder and sent him sprawling. Behind him the teams were off under
a punt and he recovered himself and raced along. It was Milton's ball on
his thirty-yard line. Brimfield punted on first down and Claflin tore
off three yards through centre and then kicked. Neither team was able to
gain consistently through the line and each punted on second or third
down. Brimfield had a trifle the better of the exchanges, aided a little
by the breeze which had freshened since the beginning of the game. With
the ball on Claflin's forty-two yards a fumble was recovered by
Ainsmith for a loss of seven yards, and on third down Claflin attempted
a forward pass which was intercepted by Captain Miller and carried to
Claflin's thirty-yard mark. Brimfield cheered encouragingly and Norton
smashed through left tackle for four. Kendall added two more and on a
wing shift Still made the distance and the ball was down on the Blue's
twenty yards. Two yards through centre by Norton was followed by a wide
end run and the loss of four yards, Still being captured by Captain
Burrage. Norton failed to gain at the line and Williams dropped back to
kick.

Milton followed to hold the ball for him and Brimfield held her breath.
Thursby passed low to the quarter and when the ball arose it bounded
away from a charging Claflin forward and went dancing and rolling back
up the field. It was finally secured by Gleason on Claflin's
thirty-three yards. Three tries by the Maroon netted but six and again
Williams went back. This time the kick was short and Claflin secured the
ball on her five-yard line and ran it in to the thirteen. Claflin made
four around Steve's end and three through Williams. Then Whittemore
punted to midfield.

Brimfield returned to her line-smashing and secured first down on the
Blue's thirty-six yards. There a forward pass to Captain Miller grounded
and Milton made a short punt to the Blue's ten yards. Steve upset
Burrage in his tracks. Claflin tried the Brimfield centre twice for four
yards and punted to the fifty-yard line. Milton came back twelve and
Kendall added six around the enemy's left end. Norton secured first down
through right guard. Time was called and Danny Moore scurried on with
his pail. Milton was injured and led off, Marvin taking his place. A
forward pass to Captain Miller netted twelve yards. Marvin carried the
ball through centre for two and Kendall met a stone wall when he tried
to get past Johnson. Norton made a yard through left tackle and Williams
dropped back to the twenty-yard line. The Brimfield supporters were
cheering wildly, imploring a touchdown, but it seemed that a field goal
was the best they were to have.

"Get through and block it!" implored the Claflin quarter.

"Hold that line!" shrieked Marvin.

Back came the ball, Williams swung his leg, ran back and to the right
and passed to Steve. But the ball went wide and settled into the arms of
the Claflin right end. Dodging and feinting that speedy youngster tore
off thirty-five yards before he was brought down and the ball was
Claflin's on Brimfield's forty yards. The Blue found her stride again
then and plunged through Fowler twice for good gains, finally securing
her distance on the Maroon's twenty-eight. Fowler, who was staggering,
was taken out and McClure came on. Claflin tried Steve's end and made
four yards and then, on a fake kick formation, got three more through
centre. Burrage tried a drop-kick for goal from the thirty-yard line,
but McClure broke through and blocked it, the ball going to the Blue on
Brimfield's thirty-eight yards. Two tries at the line gave Claflin three
yards and Ainsmith shot the ball away to Mumford at the far side of the
field. Miller stopped the runner after a twelve-yard gain. Claflin
worked the ball back toward the centre of the field in two downs and
then, faking a kick, gained two yards through Hall. It was third down,
with three to go, and again Burrage tried a placement. The ball went
wide and came back to the twenty-five-yard line. Norton punted on second
down and time was called after Claflin had caught and run back five.

Churchill replaced Tom at right guard when the last quarter started and
Lacey returned to the game at left tackle. Claflin put Atkinson back at
full and trotted in a substitute right tackle. On the first play
Ainsmith smashed through the Brimfield line for ten yards, and then
added two more. The weak place was Williams. Atkinson got four and then
two through the centre. With the pigskin on Brimfield's forty yards an
intricate wing shift failed to fool the Maroon and Whittemore was
stopped after a gain of a yard, the ball going to Brimfield.

Marvin gained two through left tackle and Norton punted. Claflin ran
back to her thirty-four yards. On the next play Claflin was set back
fifteen yards for holding and, after an attempted forward pass which
grounded, punted to the Maroon's forty-five. Marvin caught and dodged
back fifteen yards before he was stopped. On the first play he shot the
ball to Steve, and Steve, making a good catch, reeled off ten before he
was brought down. Another forward pass to Captain Miller gained five.
Norton plunged at the line for three and Kendall failed to gain. With
the ball on Claflin's twenty-two yards Williams went back. It was a
fake, however, Marvin taking the ball for a straight plunge through
centre, which gave Brimfield first down on Claflin's eighteen. Norton
plugged the centre for two and Kendall swept around the Blue's left end
for three more. With the pigskin on Claflin's thirteen-yard line a
score seemed certain. But Norton was stopped for no gain and once more
Williams dropped back to kick.

Williams, however, was badly tuckered and was so slow in getting the
ball away that again Claflin blocked and the ball was captured by
Mumford on the twenty-five-yard line. Claflin punted on first down and
the ball went out of bounds at the Blue's forty. Norton kicked to
Claflin's fifteen and Ainsmith ran back to his thirty-six, receiving a
salvo of applause from the blue section of the stand. Claflin made four
around Miller's end and on the next play was presented with five,
Brimfield being detected off-side. Atkinson made six through Williams
and followed it with two more past Lacey. On a fake kick Ainsmith got
through Thursby for three, taking the ball across the centre line for
first down. A forward pass to right end was upset by Steve and Claflin
punted on second down. Kendall caught on his twenty-five and was stopped
at the thirty. Brimfield made seven in two plunges at the left side of
the opposing line and then Still fumbled. Marvin recovered and Norton
kicked to Claflin's thirty. Steve and Miller upset Ainsmith where he
caught. Claflin was now playing on the defensive and kicked on first
down. The punt was short and Kendall got it on Claflin's forty-eight
yards and made ten before he was caught.

The timer announced four minutes to play. Claflin sent in a new
quarter-back and Coach Robey replaced Williams with Gleason. Williams
was groggy and had to be carried off the field. From the grand stand
came imploring cries from Brimfield for a touchdown and equally
imploring shouts of "Hold 'em! Hold 'em!" from Claflin.

Still took the pigskin on a criss-cross and made four around Claflin's
right end. Norton shot through centre for the rest of the distance,
placing the ball on the Blue's twenty-eight. With Williams out of the
game it was a touchdown or nothing. Kendall and Still plugged the left
of the Blue's line for two yards each and Norton got around the other
end for three. With three to go on third down Marvin worked a delayed
pass and made first down on the Blue's seventeen yards. The time-keeper
announced three minutes left. Thursby gave place to Coolidge. Norton
plunged through right tackle for five, but someone had held and
Brimfield was set back fifteen. Kendall tried the Claflin left end and
gained four on a long run across the field. Marvin took the ball for a
plunge through centre, but was thrown back for a loss. Norton was
forced to punt and put the ball out of bounds at the five-yard line.

The time-keeper announced one minute left and Claflin punted from behind
her goal-line, the ball going high and being caught by Marvin on the
Blue's thirty yards. Brimfield, desperate for a score, lined up quickly
and Norton struck the Claflin centre and piled through for ten yards.
The Blue was weakening. Kendall added four and Still made a yard at left
tackle. On the fifteen-yard line Marvin sent McClure back as if to try
for a goal. Evidently Claflin accepted the bluff in good faith, for,
although there were cries of "Fake!" the Claflin ends played well in.
Marvin called his signals once, hesitated and pulled Kendall closer in
to protect the kicker. Then, "Signals!" he shouted. "16--34--27--19!" He
glanced sharply around the back-field. "16--34--27----"

Back went the ball, but not to McClure. The quarter had it and was
stepping back out of the path of the plunging players. Then his arm shot
out and off went the ball, arching to the left, over the end of the
battling, swaying lines, straight and far and true to where a lithe
figure stood with upraised hand near the Blue's ten-yard line. Too late
Claflin saw her error. Steve ran a step forward, felt the pigskin
settle into his outstretched hands, whirled on his heel and sped toward
the goal-line. The Claflin right end was almost on him as he crossed the
five-yard mark, but when desperate arms settled about Steve's legs and
brought him crashing to earth he was well over that last white line and
the day was won! Frantic blue-stockinged youths dropped mercilessly down
upon him and drove the breath from his body, in his ears was a wild and
terrific clamour of frenzied joy and faintly a whistle shrilled. Steve,
his nose buried in the soft sod, clutched the ball tightly beneath him
and smiled in the darkness.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE CHUMS READ A TELEGRAM


The tumult was over, although from the Row came at times a wild shout of
exultation from some enthusiastic youth. In 12 Billings, Steve and Tom
were dressing for the banquet. There was no feverish hurry in their
movements. Tom sat for minutes at a time with a shirt draped across his
knees and smiled fatuously through swollen lips. There was plenty of
time. The banquet was not to be until seven, and it was now still but a
little past six. When they spoke they spoke slowly, lazily, as though
nothing much mattered, as though Fate had given them everything they
wanted and nothing was left to be desired. Steve, dreamily slipping a
belt through the loops of his best trousers, said:

"Tom, when I look at you I'm ashamed of myself. There you are with a
face like a war map and one leg all bunged up, and here am I without a
scratch. I've got a bum wrist, but it doesn't show." And Steve scowled
at the offending member.

Tom grinned. "You can have my mouth if you want it," he said. After a
minute he spoke again. "I was glad about Benson," he said.

Steve nodded. "So was I."

Tom laughed. "Yes, you looked it!"

"Well, I didn't know why Robey was taking me out, of course. It seemed
after I'd made that touchdown that he'd ought to let me play the game
out. Benson was rather--rather pathetic when he hobbled on. I'm glad
he's got his letter, though."

"Yes, and there's only one thing I'm not glad about," responded Tom
thoughtfully, beginning to squirm into his shirt. "I'm not glad we
missed that goal. I wanted that extra point."

"How could we help missing it? Andy isn't any goal kicker, and all the
others were afraid to try, I suppose. What's the odds, though! We won,
and six to nothing is good enough, isn't it?"

"Mm--yes; seven to nothing would have looked better, though."

"And you're the fellow," scoffed Steve, "who was almost crying awhile
back because Claflin would feel bad if we licked her!"

Tom only grunted. Steve went into a daydream with one leg in his
trousers until, presently, Tom laughed softly.

"What are you choking about?" asked Steve.

"Just thinking. Remember, Steve, coming on in the train how we were
talking about what--what it would be like here?"

"N--no," answered Steve. "Were we?"

"Yes. I remember you said that in the stories the hero was always
suspected of something he hadn't done and you said you'd bet that if
anyone tried that on you you'd make a kick."

"Well, what of it?"

"You didn't, though. Some of the fellows thought you'd swiped that
blue-book that time and you didn't make a murmur."

"Because----"

"Because you thought I'd done it and was trying to shield me. I know.
Then you said that in the stories the hero saves someone from drowning
and the football captain puts him into the big game and he wins it by a
wonderful run the length of the field."

"That's right, isn't it? All the school stories have it like that, don't
they?"

"I know."

"Well, then----"

"The funny thing is that it happened like that to us, Steve, or pretty
nearly. I don't mean that I--I actually saved you from drowning,
but----"

"You sure did, though!"

"Anyway, it was something like that, wasn't it? And then you went and
won the game in the last minute of play, just as they do in the
stories."

"I didn't make any run the length of the field," denied Steve. "All I
did was catch the ball and go ten yards with it. Nothing wonderful about
that."

"Still, it's all pretty much like the story-writers tell it, after all,
eh? That's what struck me as funny."

"Huh! It doesn't seem to me much like it is in the stories. Say, we
forgot about the papers, Tom!"

"What papers?"

"The New York papers, with the account of the thrilling rescue at
Oakdale, with your picture----"

"He didn't get any picture of me," said Tom grimly.

"He made you talk, though," laughed Steve.

"He'd make anyone talk," Tom grunted.

"By Jove!" He jumped suddenly to his feet, and with more animation than
had been displayed in Number 12 for a half-hour hurried to the closet.

"What's up?" asked Steve in surprise.

"Telegram," came in smothered tones from Tom. "Here it is. Lawrence
handed it to me in the gym after the game. Said it came at noon, but
Robey wouldn't let him give it to me. Bet you it's from my dad."

Tom tore the end from the yellow envelope and there was silence in the
room for a moment. At last, with a queer expression on his battered
countenance, he walked across and held the message out to Steve. "It's
for you, too," he said quietly.

Steve took it and read: "Tannersville, Pa., Nov. 25. Morning papers have
account of Oakdale scrape grateful to you for your rescue of Steve God
bless you show this to Steve your father joins me in love to you both.
John T. Edwards."

Steve let the telegram fall and stared blankly at Tom.

"What--do--you know--about that?" he gasped. "They've made it up, Tom!"

Tom nodded gravely. "It--it----" A slow smile overspread his face.
"Honest, Steve, that's better than winning the game!"

"You bet it is! And you did it!"

"Oh, no." Tom's eyes twinkled merrily. "You did it yourself, Steve, by
trying to get drowned!"


THE END



THE OUTDOOR CHUMS SERIES

By CAPTAIN QUINCY ALLEN


The outdoor chums are four wide-awake lads, sons of wealthy men of a
small city located on a lake. The boys love outdoor life, and are
greatly interested in hunting, fishing, and picture taking. They have
motor cycles, motor boats, canoes, etc., and during their vacations go
everywhere and have all sorts of thrilling adventures. The stories give
full directions for camping out, how to fish, how to hunt wild animals
and prepare the skins for stuffing, how to manage a canoe, how to swim,
etc. Full of the spirit of outdoor life.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS
          Or The First Tour of the Rod, Gun and Camera Club.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS ON THE LAKE
          Or Lively Adventures on Wildcat Island.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS IN THE FOREST
          Or Laying the Ghost of Oak Ridge.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS ON THE GULF
          Or Rescuing the Lost Balloonists.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS AFTER BIG GAME
          Or Perilous Adventures in the Wilderness.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS ON A HOUSEBOAT
          Or The Rivals of the Mississippi.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS IN THE BIG WOODS
          Or The Rival Hunters at Lumber Run.

          THE OUTDOOR CHUMS AT CABIN POINT
          Or The Golden Cup Mystery.

=12mo. Averaging 240 pages. Illustrated. Handsomely bound in Cloth.=

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BOBBSEY TWINS BOOKS

For Little Men and Women

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of "The Bunny Brown" Series, Etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

=12mo. DURABLY BOUND. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING=

       *       *       *       *       *

Copyright publications which cannot be obtained elsewhere. Books that
charm the hearts of the little ones, and of which they never tire.

          THE BOBBSEY TWINS
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH SERIES

By GERTRUDE W. MORRISON

       *       *       *       *       *

=12mo. BOUND IN CLOTH. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING.=

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a series full of the spirit of high school life of to-day. The
girls are real flesh-and-blood characters, and we follow them with
interest in school and out. There are many contested matches on track
and field, and on the water, as well as doings in the classroom and on
the school stage. There is plenty of fun and excitement, all clean, pure
and wholesome.


          THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH
          Or Rivals for all Honors.

          A stirring tale of high school life, full of fun,
          with a touch of mystery and a strange initiation.


          THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH ON LAKE LUNA
          Or The Crew That Won.

          Telling of water sports and fun galore, and of
          fine times in camp.


          THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH AT BASKETBALL
          Or The Great Gymnasium Mystery.

          Here we have a number of thrilling contests at
          basketball and in addition, the solving of a
          mystery which had bothered the high school
          authorities for a long while.


          THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH ON THE STAGE
          Or The Play That Took the Prize.

          How the girls went in for theatricals and how one
          of them wrote a play which afterward was made over
          for the professional stage and brought in some
          much-needed money.


          THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH ON TRACK AND FIELD
          Or The Girl Champions of the School League.

          This story takes in high school athletics in their
          most approved and up-to-date fashion. Full of fun
          and excitement.


          THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH IN CAMP
          Or The Old Professor's Secret.

          The girls went camping on Acorn Island and had a
          delightful time at boating, swimming and picnic
          parties.


       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH SERIES

By GRAHAM B. FORBES


Never was there a cleaner, brighter, more manly boy than Frank Allen,
the hero of this series of boys' tales, and never was there a better
crowd of lads to associate with than the students of the School. All
boys will read these stories with deep interest. The rivalry between the
towns along the river was of the keenest, and plots and counterplots to
win the champions, at baseball, at football, at boat racing, at track
athletics, and at ice hockey, were without number. Any lad reading one
volume of this series will surely want the others.

          THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH
          Or The All Around Rivals of the School

          THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH ON THE DIAMOND
          Or Winning Out by Pluck

          THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH ON THE RIVER
          Or The Boat Race Plot that Failed

          THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH ON THE GRIDIRON
          Or The Struggle for the Silver Cup

          THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH ON THE ICE
          Or Out for the Hockey Championship

          THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH IN TRACK ATHLETICS
          Or A Long Run that Won

          THE BOYS OF COLUMBIA HIGH IN WINTER SPORTS
          Or Stirring Doings on Skates and Iceboats

=12mo. Illustrated. Handsomely bound in cloth, with cover design and
wrappers in colors.=

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of the Popular "Bobbsey Twins" Books

       *       *       *       *       *

          Wrapper and text illustrations drawn by
          FLORENCE ENGLAND NOSWORTHY

       *       *       *       *       *

=12mo. DURABLY BOUND. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING.=

       *       *       *       *       *

These stories by the author of the "Bobbsey Twins" Books are eagerly
welcomed by the little folks from about five to ten years of age. Their
eyes fairly dance with delight at the lively doings of inquisitive
little Bunny Brown and his cunning, trustful sister Sue.

Bunny was a lively little boy, very inquisitive. When he did anything,
Sue followed his leadership. They had many adventures, some comical in
the extreme.

          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CHRISTMAS TREE COVE

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS SERIES

BY VICTOR APPLETON

       *       *       *       *       *

=UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING. INDIVIDUAL COLORED WRAPPERS.=

       *       *       *       *       *

Moving pictures and photo plays are famous the world over, and in this
line of books the reader is given a full description of how the films
are made--the scenes of little dramas, indoors and out, trick pictures
to satisfy the curious, soul-stirring pictures of city affairs, life in
the Wild West, among the cowboys and Indians, thrilling rescues along
the seacoast, the daring of picture hunters in the jungle among savage
beasts, and the great risks run in picturing conditions in a land of
earthquakes. The volumes teem with adventures and will be found
interesting from first chapter to last.

          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS IN THE WEST
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS ON THE COAST
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS IN THE JUNGLE
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS IN EARTHQUAKE LAND
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS AND THE FLOOD
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS AT PANAMA
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS UNDER THE SEA
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS ON THE WAR FRONT
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS ON FRENCH BATTLEFIELDS
          MOVING PICTURE BOYS' FIRST SHOWHOUSE
          MOVING PICTURE BOYS AT SEASIDE PARK
          MOVING PICTURE BOYS ON BROADWAY
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS' OUTDOOR EXHIBITION
          THE MOVING PICTURE BOYS' NEW IDEA

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW SERIES

       *       *       *       *       *

=May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list=

       *       *       *       *       *

          BIRDS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY NELTJE BLANCHAN. ILLUSTRATED

          EARTH AND SKY EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY JULIA ELLEN ROGERS. ILLUSTRATED

          ESSAYS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE

          FAIRY TALES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE

          FAMOUS STORIES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE

          FOLK TALES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE

          HEROES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE

          HEROINES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            COEDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE AND KATE STEPHENS

          HYMNS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY DOLORES BACON

          LEGENDS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE

          MYTHS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY HAMILTON W. MABIE

          OPERAS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY DOLORES BACON. ILLUSTRATED

          PICTURES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY DOLORES BACON. ILLUSTRATED

          POEMS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY MARY E. BURT

          PROSE EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY MARY E. BURT

          SONGS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            EDITED BY DOLORES BACON

          TREES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY JULIA ELLEN ROGERS. ILLUSTRATED

          WATER WONDERS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY JEAN M. THOMPSON. ILLUSTRATED

          WILD ANIMALS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY JULIA ELLEN ROGERS. ILLUSTRATED

          WILD FLOWERS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW
            BY FREDERIC WILLIAM STACK. ILLUSTRATED

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



CHARMING BOOKS FOR GIRLS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list

          WHEN PATTY WENT TO COLLEGE, By Jean Webster.
          Illustrated by C. D. Williams.

          One of the best stories of life in a girl's
          college that has ever been written. It is bright,
          whimsical and entertaining, lifelike, laughable
          and thoroughly human.


          JUST PATTY, By Jean Webster.
          Illustrated by C. M. Relyea.

          Patty is full of the joy of living, fun-loving,
          given to ingenious mischief for its own sake, with
          a disregard for pretty convention which is an
          unfailing source of joy to her fellows.

          THE POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL, By Eleanor Gates.
          With four full page illustrations.

          This story relates the experience of one of those
          unfortunate children whose early days are passed
          in the companionship of a governess, seldom seeing
          either parent, and famishing for natural love and
          tenderness. A charming play as dramatized by the
          author.


          REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM, By Kate Douglas Wiggin.

          One of the most beautiful studies of
          childhood--Rebecca's artistic, unusual and
          quaintly charming qualities stand out midst a
          circle of austere New Englanders. The stage
          version is making a phenomenal dramatic record.


          NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA, By Kate Douglas Wiggin.
          Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

          Additional episodes in the girlhood of this
          delightful heroine that carry Rebecca through
          various stages to her eighteenth birthday.


          REBECCA MARY, By Annie Hamilton Donnell.
          Illustrated by Elizabeth Shippen Green.

          This author possesses the rare gift of portraying
          all the grotesque little joys and sorrows and
          scruples of this very small girl with a pathos
          that is peculiarly genuine and appealing.


          EMMY LOU: Her Book and Heart, By George Madden Martin.
          Illustrated by Charles Louis Hinton.

          Emmy Lou is irresistibly lovable, because she is
          so absolutely real. She is just a bewitchingly
          innocent, huggable little maid. The book is
          wonderfully human.

       *       *       *       *       *

_=Ask for complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction=_

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26TH ST. NEW YORK



THE CHILDREN'S CRIMSON SERIES

       *       *       *       *       *

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list

       *       *       *       *       *


The Editors; and What the Children's Crimson Series Offers Your Child

In the first place, "The Children's Crimson Series" is designed to
please and interest every child, by reason of the sheer fascination of
the stories and poems contained therein.

To accomplish such an end, a vast amount of patient labor, a rare
judgment, a life-long study of children, and a genuine love for all that
is best in literature, are essential factors of success.

Kate Douglas Wiggin (Mrs. Riggs) and Nora Archibald Smith possess these
qualities and this experience. Their efforts, as pioneers of
kindergarten work, the love and admiration in which their works are held
by all young people, prove them to be in full sympathy with this unique
piece of work.

Let all parents, who wish their little ones to have their minds and
tastes developed along the right paths, remember that once a child is
interested and amused, the rest is comparatively easy. Stories and poems
so admirably selected, cannot then but sow the seeds of a real literary
culture, which must be encouraged in childhood if it is ever to exercise
a real influence in life.

       *       *       *       *       *

EDITED BY KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN AND NORA ARCHIBALD SMITH

   THE FAIRY RING: _Fairy Tales for Children 4 to 8_

   MAGIC CASEMENTS: _Fairy Tales for Children 6 to 12_

   TALES OF LAUGHTER: _Fairy Tales for Growing Boys and Girls_

   TALES OF WONDER: _Fairy Tales that Make One Wonder_

   PINAFORE PALACE: _Rhymes and Jingles for Tiny Tots_

   THE POSY RING: _Verses and Poems that Children Love and Learn_

   GOLDEN NUMBERS: _Verses and Poems for Children and Grown-ups_

   THE TALKING BEASTS: _Birds and Beasts in Fable_
                              EDITED BY ASA DON DICKINSON

   CHRISTMAS STORIES: "_Read Us a Story About Christmas_"
                              EDITED BY MARY E. BURT AND W. T. CHAPIN

   STORIES AND POEMS FROM KIPLING: "_How the Camel Got His Hump," and
                                      other Stories_

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of "The Bobbsey Twins Series."

       *       *       *       *       *

=12mo. BOUND IN CLOTH. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING=

       *       *       *       *       *

The adventures of Ruth and Alice DeVere. Their father, a widower, is an
actor who has taken up work for the "movies." Both girls wish to aid him
in his work and visit various localities to act in all sorts of
pictures.

          THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS
          Or First Appearance in Photo Dramas.

          Having lost his voice, the father of the girls
          goes into the movies and the girls follow. Tells
          how many "parlor dramas" are filmed.


          THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS AT OAK FARM
          Or Queer Happenings While Taking Rural Plays.

          Full of fun in the country, the haps and mishaps
          of taking film plays, and giving an account of two
          unusual discoveries.


          THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS SNOWBOUND
          Or The Proof on the Film.

          A tale of winter adventures in the wilderness,
          showing how the photo-play actors sometimes
          suffer.


          THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS UNDER THE PALMS
          Or Lost in the Wilds of Florida.

          How they went to the land of palms, played many
          parts in dramas before the camera; were lost, and
          aided others who were also lost.


          THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS AT ROCKY RANCH
          Or Great Days Among the Cowboys.

          All who have ever seen moving pictures of the
          great West will want to know just how they are
          made. This volume gives every detail and is full
          of clean fun and excitement.


          THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS AT SEA
          Or a Pictured Shipwreck that Became Real.

          A thrilling account of the girls' experiences on
          the water.


          THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS IN WAR PLAYS
          Or The Sham Battles at Oak Farm.

          The girls play important parts in big battle
          scenes and have plenty of hard work along with
          considerable fun.

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 18, "Seve" changed to "Steve". (what Steve said)

Page 82, "pamajas" changed to "pajamas". (the pajamas would)

Page 191, "imaginery" changed to "imaginary". (an imaginary ball)

Page 196, "belligerantly" changed to "belligerently". (answered Steve
belligerently)

Page 243, "concensus" changed to "consensus". (but the consensus)

Advertisement for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, "phenominal" changed to
"phenomenal". (making a phenomenal)

Advertisement for Emmy Lou, "hugable" changed to "huggable". (huggable
little maid)





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Left End Edwards" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home