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Title: Left Tackle Thayer
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 Tackle Thayer" ***

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



[Illustration: Victory]



Left Tackle Thayer

BY

RALPH HENRY BARBOUR


AUTHOR OF

LEFT-END EDWARDS,
LEFT GUARD GILBERT, ETC.


ILLUSTRATED BY
CHARLES M. RELYEA



1915



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                  PAGE
    I  A NEW BOY AND AN OLD ONE    .    .   3
   II  CAPTAIN INNES RECEIVES .    .    .  18
  III  AMY AIRS HIS VIEWS     .    .    .  31
   IV  CLINT CUTS PRACTICE    .    .    .  42
    V  ON THE SECOND     .    .    .    .  53
   VI  THE RUNAWAY WHEEL .    .    .    .  65
  VII  LOST!   .    .    .    .    .    .  77
 VIII  THE MYSTERIOUS AUTO    .    .    .  89
   IX  UNDER SUSPICION   .    .    .    . 104
    X  BURIED TREASURE   .    .    .    . 118
   XI  BRIMFIELD MEETS DEFEAT .    .    . 129
  XII  PENNY LOSES HIS TEMPER .    .    . 148
 XIII  AMY WINS A CUP    .    .    .    . 163
  XIV  THE TEAM TAKES REVENGE .    .    . 180
   XV  A BROKEN FIDDLE   .    .    .    . 196
  XVI  AMY TAKES A HAND  .    .    .    . 210
 XVII  A STRANGER INTERRUPTS  .    .    . 223
XVIII  A RAID ON THE SECOND   .    .    . 233
  XIX  MR. DETWEILER INSTRUCTS.    .    . 244
   XX  'VARSITY vs. SECOND TEAM    .    . 259
  XXI  THE LETTER THAT WASN'T WRITTEN   . 270
 XXII  DREER LOOKS ON    .    .    .    . 288
XXIII  CLINT HAS STAGE-FRIGHT .    .    . 297
 XXIV  IN THE ENEMY'S COUNTRY .    .    . 313
  XXV  VICTORY!     .    .    .    .    . 327



ILLUSTRATIONS

VICTORY     .    .    .    .    .  _Frontispiece_

NOW AND THEN THEY SPOKE, BUT SO SOFTLY
  THAT THE BOYS COULD NOT HEAR WHAT
  WAS SAID  .    .    .    .    .    .    .   90

"FUNNY YOU DIDN'T MAKE A SUCCESS OF
  IT!" CHUCKLED CLINT .    .    .    .    .  170

"NO, HE WON'T!" EXCLAIMED CLINT, JUMPING
  TO HIS FEET    .    .    .    .    .    .  292



LEFT TACKLE THAYER



CHAPTER I

A NEW BOY AND AN OLD ONE

A boy in a blue serge suit sat on the second tier of seats of an
otherwise empty grand-stand and, with his straw hat pulled well over his
eyes, watched the progress of a horse-drawn mower about a field. The
horse was a big, well-fed chestnut, and as he walked slowly along he
bobbed his head rhythmically. In the seat of the mower perched a thin
little man in a pair of blue overalls and a shirt which had also been
blue at one time, but which was now faded almost white. A broad-brimmed
straw hat of the sort affected by farmers, protected his head from the
noonday sun. Between the overalls and the rusty brogans on his feet
several inches of bare ankle intervened, and, as he paraded slowly
around the field, almost the only sign of life he showed was when he
occasionally stooped to brush a mosquito from these exposed portions of
his anatomy. The horse, too, wore brogans, big round leather shoes which
strapped over his hoofs and protected the turf, and, having never before
seen a horse in leather boots, the boy on the grand-stand had been for
a while mildly interested. But the novelty had palled some time ago, and
now, leaning forward with his sun-browned hands clasped loosely between
his knees, he continued to watch the mower merely because it was the
only object in sight that was not motionless, if one excepts the white
clouds moving slowly across a blue September sky.

Now and then the clouds seemed to shadow the good-looking, tanned face
of the youth, producing a troubled, sombre expression. The truth is that
Master Clinton Boyd Thayer was lonesome and, although he would have
denied it vigorously, a little bit homesick. (At sixteen one may be
homesick even though one scoffs at the notion.) Clinton had left his
home at Cedar Run, Virginia, the evening before, had changed into a
sleeper at Washington just before midnight, and reached New York very
early this morning. From there, although he had until five in the
afternoon to reach Brimfield Academy, he had departed after a breakfast
eaten in the Terminal and had arrived at Brimfield at a little before
nine. An hour had sufficed him to register and unpack his bag and trunk
in the room assigned to him in Torrence Hall. Since that time--and it
was now almost twelve o'clock--he had wandered about the school. He had
peeped into the other dormitories and the recitation building, had
explored the gymnasium from basement to trophy room and, finally, had
loitered across the athletic field to the grand-stand, where, for the
better part of an hour, he had been sitting in the sun, getting lonelier
every minute.

Clint--everyone had always called him Clint and we might as well fall in
line--had never been farther north than Baltimore; and today he felt
himself not only a long way from home but in a country somehow strangely
and uncomfortably alien. The few persons he had encountered had been
quite civil to him, to be sure; and the sunlight was the same sunlight
that shone down on Cedar Run, but for all of that it seemed as if no one
much cared where he was or what happened to him, and the air felt
differently and the country looked different, and--and, well, he rather
wished himself back in Virginia!

He had never been enthusiastic about going North to school. It had been
his mother's idea. Mr. Thayer was willing that Clint should prepare for
college in his native state, but Clint's mother had other ideas. Mr.
Thayer had graduated from Princeton and it had long been settled that
Clint was to be educated there too; and Clint's mother insisted that
since he was to attend a Northern college it would be better for him to
go to a Northern preparatory school. Clint himself had not felt strongly
enough about it to object. Several of his chums had gone or were going
to Virginia Military College; and Clint would have liked to go there
too, although the military feature didn't especially appeal to him.
Brimfield Academy, at Brimfield, New York, had finally been selected,
principally because a cousin of Clint's on his father's side had once
attended the school. The fact that the cousin in question had never
amounted to much and was now clerking in a shoe store in Norfolk was not
held against the school.

So far the boy had liked what he had seen of Brimfield well enough. The
thirty-mile journey from New York on the train had been through an
attractive country, with now and then a fleeting glimpse of water to add
variety to the landscape; and the woods and fields around the Academy
were pretty. From where he sat at the east end of the athletic field he
could look along the backs of the buildings, which ran in a row straight
along the edge of a plateau. Nearest at hand was the gymnasium. Then
came Wendell and Torrence, the latter having the honour of being
Clint's abode for the ensuing nine months. Next was Main Hall,
containing recitation rooms, the assembly room, the library and the
office; an older building and built all of brick whereas the other
structures were uniformly of stone as to first story and brick above.
Beyond Main Hall were Hensey and Billings, both dormitories, and, at the
western end of the row and slightly out of line, The Cottage, where
dwelt the Principal, Mr. Fernald, of whom Clint knew little and, it must
be confessed, cared, at the present moment, still less. In front of the
buildings the ground fell away to the country road over which Clint had
that morning travelled behind a somnolent grey horse and a voluble
driver, to the last of which combination he owed most of his information
regarding the Academy.

Behind the buildings--in school parlance, the Row--lay the athletic
field, almost twelve acres in extent, bordered on the further side by a
rising slope of forest. Here there were football grid-irons--three of
them, as the six goals indicated--quarter-mile running-track, a baseball
diamond and a dozen tennis courts. The diamond was most in evidence, for
the grand-stand stood behind the plate and the base paths, bare of turf,
formed a square in front of it. Even the foul lines had not been
utterly obliterated by sun and rain, but were dimly discernible, where
the mower had passed, as yellower streaks against the vivid green. It
was a splendid field; Clint had to acknowledge that; and for a time the
thought of playing football on it had almost dispersed his gloom. But
the after-reflection that for all he knew his services might not be
required on the Eleven, that very possibly his brand of football was not
good enough for Brimfield, had caused a relapse into depression. Thrice
he had told himself that as soon as the plodding horse reached the
further turn he would get up and go back to his room, and thrice he had
failed to keep his promise. He wondered who his room-mate was to be and
whether that youth had yet arrived, but his curiosity was not strong
enough to get him up. Now, however, the mower was again traversing the
opposite end of the field, and again approaching the further corner, and
once more he made the agreement with himself, really meaning to live up
to it. But, as events proved, he was not destined to keep faith.

From around the corner of the stand furthest from the Row appeared a boy
in a suit of light grey flannels. The coat, hanging open, displayed a
soft shirt of no uncertain shade of heliotrope. A bow-tie of
lemon-yellow with purple dots nestled under his chin and between the
cuffs of his trousers and the rubber-soled tan shoes a four-inch expanse
of heliotrope silk stockings showed. A straw hat with a particularly
narrow brim was adorned with a ribbon of alternating bars of maroon and
grey. He was indeed a cheerful and colourful youth, his cheerfulness
being further evidenced by the jaunty swinging of a stick which he had
apparently cut from a willow and by the gay whistling of a tune. On
sight of Clint, however, the stick stopped swinging and the whistling
came to an end in the middle of a note.

"Hi!" said the youth in surprised tones.

"Hello," answered Clint politely.

The newcomer paused and viewed the boy on the stand with frank
curiosity. Then his gaze wandered across to the mower, which was at the
instant making the turn at the further corner, over by the tennis
courts. Finally,

"Bossing the job?" he asked, nodding toward the mower.

Clint smiled and shook his head. "No, just--just loafing."

"Hot, isn't it?" The other pushed the gaily-ribboned hat to the back of
his head and drew a pale lavender handkerchief across his forehead.
"Been moseying around over there in the woods," he continued when Clint
had murmured agreement. "Studying Nature in her manifold moods. Nature
is some warm today. There's a sort of a breeze here, though,
isn't there?"

Clint agreed again, more doubtfully, and the boy who had been studying
Nature seated himself sidewise on a seat below, drawing his feet up and
clasping his hands about his knees. He was a good-looking, merry-faced
chap of seventeen, with dark-brown eyes, a short nose liberally freckled
under the tan and a rather prominent chin with a deep dimple in it. His
position revealed a full ten inches of the startling hose; and, since
they were almost under his nose, Clint gazed at them fascinatedly.

"Some socks, are they not?" inquired the youth.

Clint, already a little embarrassed by the other's friendliness, removed
his gaze hurriedly.

"They're very--nice," he murmured.

The other elevated one ankle and viewed it approvingly. "Saw them in a
window in New York yesterday and fell for them at once. I've got another
pair that are sort of pinky-grey, ashes of roses, I guess. Watch for
them. They'll gladden your heart. You're new, aren't you?"

"Yes, I got here this morning," replied Clint. "I suppose you're--you're
not."

"No, this is my third year. I'm in the Fifth Form. What's yours?"

"I don't know yet. I reckon they'll put me in the Fourth."

"I see. How's everything below the Line?"

"Below the line?" repeated Clint.

"Yes, Mason and Dixon's. You're from the South, aren't you?"

"Oh! Yes, I come from Virginia; Cedar Run."

The other chuckled. "What state did you say?" he asked.

"Virginia," responded Clint innocently. "Great! 'Vay-gin-ya.'" He shook
his head. "No, I can't get it."

It dawned on Clint that the other was trying to mimic his pronunciation
of the word, and he felt resentful until a look at the boy's face showed
that he intended no impertinence.

"I love to hear a Southerner talk," he went on. "There was a chap here
named Broland year before last; came from Alabama, I think. He was fine!
Red-hot he was, too. You could always get a fall out of Bud Broland by
mentioning Grant or Sherman. He used to fly right off the handle and
wave the Stars-and-Bars fit to kill! We used to tell him that the war
was over, but he wouldn't believe it."

Clint smiled doubtfully. "Is he here now?" he asked.

"Broland? No, he only stayed a little while. Couldn't get used to our
ways. Found school life too--too confining. He used to take trips, and
Faculty didn't approve."

"Trips?" asked Clint.

The other nodded. "Yes, he used to put a clean collar in his pocket and
run down to New York for week-ends. Faculty was sort of narrow-minded
and regretfully packed him off home to Alabam'. Bud was a good sort,
but--well, he needed a larger scope for his talents than school
afforded. I guess the right place for Bud would have been a good big
ranch out West somewhere. He needed lots of room!"

Clint smiled. "What time do we eat?" he asked presently, when they had
silently watched the passage of the mower. The other boy tugged at a fob
which dangled at his belt and produced a silver watch.

"Let's see." He frowned intently a moment. "I was twelve minutes fast
yesterday afternoon. That would make me about twenty minutes ahead now.
I'd say the absolutely correct time was somewhere between
eleven-fifty-eight and twelve-six. And dinner's at half-past."

"Thank you," laughed Clint. He pulled forth his own watch and looked at
it. "I make it two minutes after," he said, "and I was right this
morning by the clock in the station in New York."

"Two minutes past, eh?" The boy below set his timepiece and slipped it
back under his belt. "It must be great to have a watch like yours. I
used to have one but I left it at the rink last Winter and it fell into
the snow, I guess, and I never did find it. Then I bought me this. It's
guaranteed for a year."

"Why don't you take it back, then?"

"Oh, I've got sort of used to it now. After all, there's a certain
excitement about having a watch like this. You never know whether you're
going to be late or early. If I have to catch a train I always allow
thirty minutes leeway. It's twelve o'clock, all right. Solomon's quit."
He nodded toward where the man in the blue overalls was unhitching the
horse from the mower. "You can't fool Solomon on the dinner hour."

"Is that his name?" inquired Clint.

"I don't suppose so. That's what he's called, though. He never says
anything and so he seems to be all-fired wise. There's a lot in that, do
you know? Bet you if I didn't talk so much I'd get the reputation of
being real brainy. Guess I'll have to try it." He grinned broadly and
Clint smiled back in sympathy.

"Let's tell our names," said the other. "Mine's Byrd; first name, Amory;
nicknamed Amy. Pretty bad, but it might be worse."

"Mine's Clinton Thayer."

"Thayer? We've got some cousins of that name. They're Northerners,
though. Live in New Hampshire. No relation to you, I guess. I suppose
fellows call you Clint, don't they?"

"Yes."

"All right, Clint, let's mosey back and have some dinner. I had a
remarkably early repast this morning and feel as though I could trifle
with some real food."

"So do I," replied Clint as he climbed down. "I had my breakfast at
half-past six."

"Great Scott! What for?"

"The train got in at six and there was nothing else to do. I got here
before nine."

"You did? I thought I was one of the early Byrds--Joke! Get it?--but I
didn't sight the Dear Old School until after ten. Couldn't find any
fellows I knew and so went for a walk. Most of the fellows don't get
here until afternoon. By the way, who do you room with?"

"I don't know," replied Clint. "I didn't ask. They put me--"

"I don't know either," sighed Amy. "I found a lot of truck in my room,
but I haven't seen the owner yet. The fellow who was in with me last
year has left school. Gone to live in China. Wish I could! I suppose the
fellow I draw will be a regular mutt." They had reached the corner of
Wendell, and Amy paused. "The dining room's in here. If you don't mind
waiting until I run up and wash a bit we'll eat together."

"I'd like to," answered Clint, "but I reckon I'll wash too."

He moved along with the other toward the next dormitory.

"Aren't you in Wendell?" asked Amy.

"No, this next one. Torrey, isn't it?"

"Torrence." Amy stopped and viewed him With sudden interest. "Say, what
number?"

"Fourteen."

"_Well, what do you know about that_?"

"What?" Clint faltered.

"Why--why--" Amy seized his hand and shook it vigorously. "Clint, I
want to congratulate you! I do, indeed!"

Clint smiled. "Thanks, Byrd, but what about?"

"Byrd?" murmured the other disappointedly. "Is that the best you can do
after our long acquaintance? You--you grieve me!"

"Amory, then," laughed Clint.

"Call me Amy," begged the other. "You'll call me worse than that when
you've known me longer, but for now let it be Amy."

"All right. And now, please, what am I being congratulated for?"

Amy's face became suddenly earnest and sober, "Because, my young friend,
you are especially fortunate. A kindly Providence has placed you in the
care of one of the wisest, most respected, er--finest examples of young
manhood this institution affords. I certainly do congratulate you!"

Amy made another grab at Clint's hand, but the latter foiled him.

"You mean the fellow I'm going to room with?" he asked.

"Exactly! Faculty has indeed been good to you, Clint. You will take up
your abode with a youth in whom all the virtues and--and
excellencies--"

"Who is he?" demanded Clint suspiciously.

"His name"--Amy drew close and dropped his voice to an awed and
thrilling whisper--"his name is--Are you prepared?"

"Go on. Ill try to stand it."

"His name, then, is Amory Munson Byrd!"

"Amory Mun--"

"--son Byrd!"

"You mean--I'm in with you?"

"I mean just that, O fortunate youth! Forward, sir! Allow me to conduct
you to your apartment!" And, putting his arm through Clint's, he dragged
that astonished youth into dormitory.



CHAPTER II

CAPTAIN INNES RECEIVES

"What's that awful noise?" asked Clint startledly, looking up from his
book.

It was the evening of the second day of school and Clint and Amy Byrd
were preparing lessons at opposite sides of the green-topped table in
Number 14 Torrence.

"That," replied Amy, leaning back until his chair protested and viewing
his room-mate under the shade of the drop-light, "is music."

"Music!" Clint listened incredulously. From the next room, by way of
opened windows and transoms, came the most lugubrious wails he thought
he had ever listened to. "It--it's a fiddle, isn't it?" he demanded.

Amy nodded. "More respectfully, a violin. More correctly a viol-_din._
(The joke is not new.) What you are listening to with such evident
delight are the sweet strains of Penny Durkin's violin." Amy looked at
the alarm clock which decorated a corner of his chiffonier. "Penny is
twelve minutes ahead of time. He's not supposed to play during
study-hour, you see, and unless I'm much mistaken he will be so informed
before the night is much--"

"_Hey, Penny! Cut it out, old top_!"

From somewhere down the corridor the anguished wail floated, followed an
instant later by sounds counterfeiting the howling of an unhappy dog.
Threats and pleas mingled.

"Penny! For the love of Mike!"

"Set your watch back, Penny!"

"Shut up, you idiot! Study's not over!"

"Call an officer, please!"

But Pennington Durkin was making too much noise on his instrument to
hear the remonstrances at first, and it was not until some impatient
neighbour sallied forth and pounded frantically at the portal of Number
13 that the wailing ceased. Then,

"What is it?" asked Durkin mildly.

"It's only ten minutes to nine, Penny. Your clock's fast again. Shut up
or we'll kill you!"

"Oh!" said Penny surprisedly. "Are you sure? I set my watch--"

"Oh, forget it! You say that every night," was the wearied response.
"How the dickens do you think anyone's going to study with that noise
going on?"

"I'm very sorry, really," responded Penny, "If I'd known--"

"You never do know, Penny!" The youth outside strode back to his room
and slammed the door and quiet prevailed once more. Amy smiled.

"Poor Penny," he said. "He suffers much in the cause of Art. I refuse to
study any more. Close up shop, Clint, and let's talk. Now that you've
been with us a whole day, what do you think of us? Do you approve of
this institution of learning, old man?"

"I think I'm going to like it," replied Clint soberly.

"I do hope so," murmured Amy anxiously. "Still, any little changes you'd
like made--"

"Well, you asked me, didn't you?" laughed Clint. "Besides, how can I
help but like it when I am honoured by being roomed with you?"

"Sarcasm!" hissed Amy. "Time's up!" He slammed his book shut, tossed it
on a pile at his elbow, yawned and jumped from his chair. "Let's go
visiting. What do you say? Come along and I'll interdoodle you to some
of our prominent criminals. Find your cap and follow me."

"I wish," said Amy, as they clattered down the stairs in the wake of
several other boys who had lingered no longer than they after nine
o'clock had struck, "I wish you had made the Fifth Form, Clint."

"So do I," was the reply. "I could have if they'd stretched a point."

"Um; yes," mused the other. "Stretched a point. Now that's something I
never could make out, Clint."

"What!"

"Why, how you can stretch a point. The dictionary describes a point as
'that which has position but no magnitude.' Seems to me it must be very
difficult to get hold of a thing with no magnitude, and, of course,
you'd have to get hold of it to stretch it, wouldn't you? Now, if you
said stretch a line or stretch a circle--"

"That's what you'll need if you don't shut up," laughed Clint.

"A circle?"

"No, a stretcher!"

"What a horrible pun," mourned Amy. "Say, suppose we drop in on Jack
Innes?"

"Suppose we do," replied Clint cheerfully. "Who is he?"

"Football captain, you ignoramus. Maybe if you don't act fresh and he
takes a liking to you he will resign and let you be captain."

"Won't it look--well, sort of funny?" asked Clint doubtfully as they
passed along the Bow.

"What? You being captain?"

"No, our going--I mean _my_ going to see him, Won't he think I'm trying
to--to swipe?"

"Poppycock! Jack's a particular friend of mine. You don't have to tell
him you want a place on the team, do you? Besides, there'll likely be
half a dozen others there. Here we are; one flight."

They turned in the first entrance of Hensey and climbed the stairs.
Innes's room, like Clint's, faced the stair-well, being also Number 14,
and from behind the closed door came a babel of voices.

"Full house tonight," observed Amy, knocking thunderously. But the
knocking wasn't heard inside and, after a moment, Amy turned the knob
and walked in, followed by Clint. Nearly a dozen boys were crowded in
the room and each of the two small beds sagged dangerously under the
weight it held.

"We knocked," said Amy, "but you hoodlums are making so much noise
that--"

"Hi, Amy! How's the boy?" called a youth whose position facing the door
allowed him to discover the newcomers. Heads turned and other greetings
followed. It was evident to Clint that his room-mate was a popular chap,
for everyone seemed thoroughly glad to see him.

"Come here, Amy," called a big fellow who was sprawled in a Morris
chair. Amy good-naturedly obeyed the summons and the big fellow pulled
up a leg of the other boy's trousers. "They're grey, fellows," he
announced sorrowfully. "Someone's gone and died, and Amy's in mourning!"

"Grey!" exclaimed another. "Never. Amy, tell me it isn't true!"

"Shut up! I want to interdoodle my most bosom friend, Mr. Clinton
Thayer, of Vay-gin-yah, sah! Clint, take off your hat."

The merriment ceased and the occupants of the room got to their feet as
best they might and those within reach shook hands.

"That large lump over there," indicated Amy, "is Innes. He's one of your
hosts. The other one is Mr. Still; in the corner of the bed; the
intelligent-looking youth. The others don't matter."

"Glad to know you, Thayer," said Jack Innes in a deep, jovial voice.
"Hope you can find a place to sit down. I guess that bed near you will
hold one more without giving way."

Clint somewhat embarrassedly crowded on to a corner of the bed and Amy
perched himself on an arm of the Morris chair. A smallish,
clever-looking fellow across the room said: "You're a punk introducer,
Amy. Thayer, my name's Marvin, and this chap is Hall and the next one is
Edwards, and Still you know, and then comes Ruddie, and Black--"

"Red and Black," interpolated Amy.

"And next to Innes is Landers--"

"Oh, forget it, Marvin," advised Still. "Thayer won't remember. Names
don't matter, anyway."

"Some names," retorted Marvin, "have little significance, yours amongst
them. I did the best I could for you, Thayer. Remember that. What's the
good word, Amy?"

"I have no news to relate," was the grave response, "save that Jordan
obtruded his shining cranium as we came in and requested me to inform
you fellows that unless there was less noise up here--"

Jeers greeted that fiction. "I love your phrases, Amy," said Marvin.
"'Shining cranium' is great"

"Oh, Amy is one fine little phraser," said Innes. "Remember his theme
last year, fellows? How did it go, Amy? Let me see. Oh! 'The westerning
sun sank slowly into the purple void of twilight, a burnished copper
disk beyond the earth's horizon!'"

"I never!" cried Amy indignantly.

"He loves to call a football an 'illusive spheroid,'" chuckled another
chap.

"So it is," asserted Amy vehemently. "I know, because I tried to play
with one once!"

"I'll bet a great little football player was lost when you forsook the
gridiron for the--the field of scholarly endeavour," said Tom Hall.

"He's caught it, too!" groaned the youth beside him, Steve Edwards.
"Guess I'll take him home."

"You're not talking that way yet, are you, Thayer?" asked Jack Innes
solicitously.

"I don't think so," replied Clint with a smile.

"You will sooner or later, though. The fellow who roomed with Amy last
year got so he couldn't make himself understood in this country and had
to go to Japan."

"China," corrected Amy, "China, the Land of the Chink and the
chop-stick."

"There he goes!" moaned Still.

"What I haven't heard explained yet," said Steve Edwards, "is what's
happened to Amy's glad socks. Why the sobriety, Amy?"

"Wouldst hear the sweet, sad story?"

"Wouldst."

"Then give me your kind attention and I willst a tale unfold. You see,
it's like this. Clint there can tell you that just the other day I was a
thing of beauty. My slender ankles were sheer and silken delights.
But--and here's the weepy place, fellows--when I disrobed I discovered
that the warmth of the weather had affected the dye in those gladsome
garments and my little footies were like unto the edible purple beet of
commerce. And I paid eighty-five cents a pair for those socks, too.
I--I'm having them washed."

When the laughter had ceased, Ruddie, who seemed a serious-minded youth,
began a story of an uncle of his who had contracted blood-poisoning from
the dye in his stockings. What ultimately happened to the uncle Clint
never discovered, for the others very rudely broke in on Ruddie's
reminiscences and the conversation became general and varied. The boy
next to Clint, whose name he learned later was Freer, politely inquired
as to how Clint liked Brimfield and whether he played football. To the
latter question Clint confided that he did, although probably not well
enough to stand much of a chance here.

"Oh, you can't tell," replied Freer encouragingly. "Come out for
practice tomorrow and see. We're got a coach here that can do wonders
with beginners."

"Of course I mean to try," said Clint. "I reckon you wear togs, don't
you, when you report?"

"Yes, come dressed to play. You'll get a workout for a week or so,
anyway. Three-thirty is the time. You won't feel lonesome. We've got
more fellows here this year than we ever had and I guess there'll be a
gang of new candidates. Got a lot of last year's 'varsity players left,
too, and we ought to be able to turn out a pretty fair team."

"Where does Captain Innes play?" Clint asked

"Centre, and he's a peach. Marvin, over there, is first-string quarter
this year. Edwards will be one of our ends and Hall will have right
guard cinched, I think."

"And where do you play?" Clint inquired.

"Half, when I play," laughed the other. "I'm going to make a good fight
for it this year. How'd you know I did play, though?"

"I--just thought so," said Clint. "You sort of look it, you know."

That seemed to please Freer. "Well, I've been at it three years," he
said, "and this is my last chance."

"I hope you make it."

"Thanks. Same to you! Well, I must get along."

The gathering was breaking up. Most of the fellows were careful to bid
Clint good night as they went and several told him to get Amy to bring
him around to see them. Captain Innes crowded his way through the
confusion of visitors and furniture and sought Clint where he stood
aside in the corner.

"I believe you play football, Thayer?" he said inquiringly.

"Yes, some."

"Well, you're modest, anyway," the big centre laughed. "Don't overdo it,
though; it doesn't pay. What's your position?"

"I played tackle at home."

"Well, you come out tomorrow and show your goods, Thayer. We need all
the talent we can get. Hope to see you do splendidly. Good night.
Awfully glad to have met you. Good night, Amy. Hope those socks will
come out all right."

"They'll never be the same," replied Amy sadly. "Their pristine
splendour--"

"Get out of here, Amy! You remind me unpleasantly of tomorrow's English
and the fact that I haven't looked at it yet!" And Freer, who was a
rather husky youth, pushed Amy into the corridor without ceremony.

On the way back to Torrence Clint asked curiously: "How do you suppose
Innes knew I played, Amy?"

"Oh, he's a discerning brute," responded the other carelessly.

"But he said he _believed_ I did. That sounds as if someone had told
him. Did you?"

"Well," replied the other hesitantly, "now that you mention it, summon
it, as it were, to my attention, or, should I say, force it on my
notice; or, perhaps, arouse my slumbering memory--"

"Meaning you did?"

"I might have."

"When?"

"'S afternoon. We met by chance. Casually I mentioned the fact that you
were probably one of the niftiest little linemen that ever broke through
the--er--stubborn defence of a desperate enemy--"

"You idiot!"

"And that, if properly encouraged, you would very likely be willing to
lend your helpful assistance to the Dear Old Team. And he said: 'Bless
you, Amy, for them glad tidings. All is not lost, With Clint Thayer to
help us, victory may once more perch upon our pennant!' Or maybe it was
'banner.'"

"Honest, Amy," pleaded Clint, "what did you say?"

"Only that you were rooming with me and that I'd heard you say you,
played and that I meant to bring you around to see him this evening."

"And he said?"

"He said 'Of course, bring him along.'"

"Oh," murmured Clint

"Just the remark I was about to make," declared Amy.



CHAPTER III

AMY AIRS HIS VIEWS

Clint settled down into his appointed niche at Brimfield, one of one
hundred and seventy-two individuals of various ages between twelve and
twenty. At Brimfield there were six forms, and Clint had, after a brief
examination, been assigned to the fourth. He found that he was well up
with the class in everything save Greek and Latin, and these, Greek
especially, soon proved hard sledding. The instructor, Mr. Simkins--or
"Uncle Sim," as he was called--was no easy taskmaster. He entertained a
profound reverence for Aristotle and Vergil and Cicero and Homer and all
the others, and failed to understand why his classes thought them
tiresome and, sometimes, dry. His very enthusiasm, however, made him
easy to impose on, and many a fellow received good marks merely because
he simulated a fervid interest. But Clint was either too honest or
possessed too little histrionic talent to attempt that plan, and by the
time the Fall term was a week old, he, together with many another, was
just barely keeping his head above water. He confessed discouragement
to his room-mate one evening. Amy was sympathetic but scarcely helpful.

"It's tommyrot, that's what it is," Amy said with conviction. "What good
does it do you to know Greek, anyway? I'll bet you anything that Uncle
Sim himself couldn't go to Athens tomorrow and order a cup of coffee and
a hard-boiled egg! Or, if he did order them, he'd get a morning
newspaper and toothpick. Last Spring I was in the boot-blacking emporium
in the village one afternoon and Horace came in to get his shoes
shined. There--"

"Who is Horace!" asked Clint dejectedly.

"Mr. Daley; modern languages; you have him in French. Well, there was a
notice stuck on the wall across the place. It was in Greek and I
couldn't make anything out of it at all and I asked Horace what it said.
Of course he just read it right off, with a mere passing glance; did he
not? Yes, he did not! He hemmed and hawed and muttered and finally said
he couldn't make out the second word. I told him that was my trouble,
too. Then we asked the Greek that runs the place and he told us it said
that shines on Sundays and holidays were ten cents. Of course, Horace
isn't a specialist in Greek, but still he's been through college, and
what I say is--"

"I don't believe the men who wrote the stuff really understood it," said
Clint.

"Oh, they understood a little of it, all right. They could sign their
names, probably. The only consolation I find is this, Clint. A couple of
hundred years from now, when everyone is talking Esperanto or some other
universal language, the kids will have to study English. Can't you see
them grinding over the Orations of William Jennings Bryan and wondering
why the dickens anyone ever wanted to talk such a silly language? That's
when we get our revenge, Clint. We won't be around to see it, but it'll
be there."

Clint had to smile at the picture Amy drew, but he didn't find as much
consolation as Amy pretended to, and Xenophon didn't come any easier. He
was heartily glad when the study-hour came to an end and he could
conscientiously close his books.

The termination of that hour was almost invariably announced by the
dismal squawking of Penny Durkin's fiddle. Sometimes it was to be heard
in the afternoon, but not always, for Penny was a very busy youth. He
was something of a "shark" at lessons, was a leading light in the
Debating Circle and conducted a second-hand business in all sorts of
things from a broken tooth-mug to a brass bed. Penny bought and sold and
traded and, so rumour declared, made enough to nearly pay his tuition
each year. If you wanted a rug or a table or a chair or a picture or a
broken-down bicycle or a pair of football pants you went to Penny, and
it was a dollar to a dime that Penny either had in his possession, or
could take you to someone else who had, the very thing you were looking
for. If you paid cash you got it reasonably cheap--or you did if you
knew enough to bargain craftily--and if you wanted credit Penny charged
you a whole lot more and waited on you promptly for the instalment at
the first of each month. And besides these activities Penny was a
devoted student of music.

He was an odd-looking fellow, tall and thin, with a lean face from which
a pair of pale and near-sighted eyes peered forth from behind
rubber-rimmed spectacles. His hair was almost black and was always in
need of trimming, and his garments--he seldom wore trousers, coat and
vest that matched--always seemed about to fall off him. Clint's first
glimpse of Penny came one afternoon. The door of Number 13 was open as
Clint returned to his room after football practice and lugubrious
sounds issued forth. It was very near the supper hour and Penny's room
was lighted only by the rays of the sinking sun. Against the window
Clint saw him in silhouette, his hair wildly ruffled, his violin under
his chin, his bow scraping slowly back and forth as he leaned
near-sightedly over the sheet of music spread on the rack before him.
The strains that issued from the instrument were awful, but there was
something fine in the player's absorption and obvious content, and what
had started out as a laugh of amusement changed to a sympathetic smile
as Clint tiptoed on to his own door.

The sorrow of Penny's young life was that, although he had made
innumerable attempts, he could not succeed in the formation of a school
orchestra. There was a Glee Club and a Musical Society, the latter
composed of performers on the mandolin, banjo and guitar, but no one
would take any interest in Penny's project. Or no one save a fellow
named Pillsbury. Pillsbury played the bass viol, and once a week or so
he and Penny got together and spent an entranced hour. Time was when
such meetings took place in Penny's room or in Pillsbury's room, but
popular indignation put an end to that. Nowadays they took their
instruments to the gymnasium and held their chamber concerts in the
trophy room. Amy one day drew Clint's attention to a fortunate
circumstance. This was that, while there was a connecting door between
Number 14 and Number 15, there was none between Number 14 and Number 13.
That fact, Amy declared, rendered their room fairly habitable when Penny
was pouring out his soul. "It's lucky in another way," he added, staring
darkly at the buff-coloured wall that separated them from Number 13. "If
that door was on this side I'd have broken it open long ago and
done murder!"

Clint laughed and inquired: "Who rooms on the other side?"

"Schuman and Dreer." The contemptuous tone of his reply caused Clint to
ask:

"Anything wrong with them?"

"Oh, Schuman's all right, I guess, but Dreer's a pill." There was a
wealth of contempt in the word "pill" as Amy pronounced it, and Clint
asked innocently what a "pill" was.

"A pill," replied Amy, "is--is--well, there are all sorts of pills. A
fellow who toadies to the instructors is a pill. A fellow who is too
lazy to play football or baseball or tennis or anything else and
pretends the doctor won't let him is a pill. A fellow who has been to
one school and got fired and then goes to another and is always
shooting off his mouth about how much better the first school is is the
worst kind of pill. And that's the kind Harmon Dreer is. He went to
Claflin for a year and a half and then got into some sort of mess and
was expelled. Then the next Fall he came here. This is his second year
here and he's still gabbing about how much higher class Claflin is and
how much better they do everything there and--oh, all that sort of rot.
I told him once that if the fellows at Claflin were so much classier
than we are I could understand why they didn't let him stay there. He
didn't like it. He doesn't narrate his sweet, sad story to me any more.
If he ever does I'm likely to forget that I'm a perfect gentleman."

But Clint's neighbours were not of overpowering interest to him those
days. There were more absorbing matters, pleasant and unpleasant, to
fill his mind. For one thing, he was trying very hard to make a place on
one of the football teams. He hadn't any hope of working into the first
team. Perhaps when he started he may, in spite of his expressed doubts,
have secretly entertained some such hope, but by the end of the second
day of practice he had abandoned it. The brand of football taught by
Coach Robey and played by the 'varsity team was ahead of any Clint had
seen outside a college gridiron and was a revelation to him. Even by the
end of the first week the first team was in what seemed to Clint
end-of-season form, although in that Clint was vastly mistaken, and his
own efforts appeared to him pretty weak and amateurish. But he held on
hard, did his best and hoped to at least retain a place on the third
squad until the final cut came. And it might just be, he told himself in
optimistic moments, that he'd make the second! Meanwhile he was enjoying
it. It's remarkable what a lot of extremely hard work a boy will go
through if he likes football, and what a deal of pleasure he will get
out of it! Amy pretended to be totally unable to get that point of view.
One afternoon when Clint returned to prepare for supper with a lower lip
twice the normal size of that feature Amy indulged in sarcasm.

"Oh, the proud day!" he declaimed, striking an attitude. "Wounded on the
field of battle! Glory! Triumph! Pæans! My word, old top, but I
certainly am proud to be the chum of such a hero! I'm so sot-up I could
scream for joy. Football's a wonderful pastime, isn't it?"

"Silly chump!" mumbled Clint painfully.

"Yes, indeed, a wonderful pastime," ruminated Amy, seating himself on
the window-seat and hugging one knee. "All a fellow has to do is to go
out and work like a dray-horse and a pile-driver and street-roller for a
couple of hours every afternoon, get kicked in the shins and biffed in
the eye and rolled in the dirt and ragged by one coach, one captain and
one quarter-back. That's all he has to do except learn a lot of signals
so he can recognise them in the fraction of a second, be able to recite
the rules frontward and backward and both ways from the middle and live
on indigestible things like beef and rice and prunes. For that he gets
called a 'mutt' and a 'dub' and a 'disgrace to the School' and, unless
he's lucky enough to break a leg and get out of it before the big game,
he has twenty-fours hours of heart-disease and sixty minutes of glory.
And his picture in the paper. He knows it's his picture because there's
a statement underneath that Bill Jones is the third criminal from the
left in the back row. And it isn't the photographer's fault if the
good-looking half-back in the second row moved his head just as the
camera went _snap_ and all that shows of Bill Jones is a torn and
lacerated left ear!"

"For the love of Mike, Amy, shut up!" pleaded Clint. "You talk so much
you don't say anything! Besides, you told me once you used to play
yourself when you first came here."

"So I did," agreed Amy calmly. "But I saw the error of my ways and quit.
In me you see a brand snatched from the burning. Why, gosh, if I'd kept
on I'd be a popular hero now! First Formers would copy my socks and
neckties and say 'Good morning, _Mister_ Byrd,' and the _Review_ would
refer to me as 'that sterling player, Full-back Byrd.' And Harvard and
Yale and Princeton scouts would be camping on my trail and offering me
valuable presents and taking me to lunch at clubs. Oh, I had a narrow
escape, I can tell you! When I think how narrow I shudder." He proved it
by having a sort of convulsion on the window-seat. "Clint, when it's all
said and done, a fellow's a perfect, A-plus fool to play football when
he can enlist in the German army and die in a trench!"

"I got away for twenty yards this afternoon and made a touchdown,"
proclaimed Clint from between swollen lips, trying to keep the pride
from his voice.

Amy threw up his hands in despair.

"I'll say no more," he declared. "You're past help, Clint. You've tasted
blood. Go on, you poor mistaken hero, and maim yourself for life. I
wash my hands of you."

"You'd better wash them of some of that dirt I see and come to supper,"
Clint mumbled. "Gee, if I'd talked half as much as you have in the last
ten minutes I'd be starved!"



CHAPTER IV

CLINT CUTS PRACTICE

Brimfield played the first game on her schedule a few days later,
winning without difficulty from Miter Hill School in ten-minute periods
by a score of 17 to 0. There was much ragged football on each side; but
Brimfield showed herself far more advanced than her opponent and had,
besides, the advantage of a heavier team. Clint looked on from the
bench, with some forty others, and grew more hopeless than ever of
making good this year. His present status was that of substitute tackle
on the third squad, and it didn't look as though he'd get beyond that
point. If he had expected his introduction to Jack Innes to help his
advancement he must have been disappointed, for the Captain, while he
invariably spoke when he saw him, and once inquired in the locker-room
how Clint was getting along, paid little attention to him. So far as
Clint could see, nobody cared whether he reported for practice or not.
Toward the end of an afternoon, when the third was fortunate enough to
get into a few minutes of scrimmage with the second, Clint usually
finished up at right or left tackle. But he couldn't help thinking that
were he not there his absence would go unremarked. Even on the to him
memorable occasion when he broke through the second's line on a fumble
and, seizing the ball, romped almost unchallenged over the last four
white lines for a touchdown the incident went apparently unnoticed. One
or two of his team-mates patted him approvingly on the back, but that
was all. Clint was beginning to have moments of discouragement.

But two days after the Miter Hill game an incident occurred which proved
him wrong in thinking that no one knew or cared whether he reported for
practice. That morning's Greek had gone unusually badly for Clint and
Mr. Simkins had kept him after class and talked some plain talk to him.
When Clint's final recitation of the day was over at three he was
out-of-sorts and depressed. He felt very little like playing football
and still less like studying, but Mr. Simkins had as much as told him
that unless a decided improvement was at once apparent some direful fate
would be his, and the instructor had a convincing way of talking and
Clint quite believed him. Consequently, of two evils Clint chose the
more necessary and dedicated that afternoon to the Iliad. The dormitory
was very quiet, for it was a fine, mild day and most of the fellows were
out-of-doors, and concentration should have been easy. But it wasn't.
Clint couldn't keep his mind on his book, try as he might. Through the
open window came sounds from the grid-irons and ball-field; shouts, the
honking of Manager Black's horn, the cries of the coaches and players,
the crack of bat and ball where the Nine was holding Fall practice;
even, now and then, the voices of the tennis players far down the field.
He tried closing the window, but that made the room hot and stuffy, and
he opened it again. Four o'clock sounded and he was still dawdling. Then
footsteps sounded on the stairs, the door of Number 13 opened and shut,
and a minute or two later the wailing of Penny Durkin's violin broke
onto the silence of the deserted dormitory. That ought to have ended
Clint's chances of study, it seemed, but, oddly enough, after he had
listened for five minutes or so, his eyes sought the page in front of
him and then--well, then it was more than an hour later, the violin was
silent and someone was knocking on his door!

Clint gazed with surprise on the pencilled notes adorning the margins of
the pages, from them to the open lexicon, from that to the pencil in
his hand. He had absolutely done five pages! And then the knock at the
door was repeated and Clint stammered "Come in!" and Tracey
Black entered.

The football manager was a slimly-built, nervous-mannered chap of
eighteen and wore glasses through which he now regarded Clint
accusingly.

"What's wrong with you, Thayer?" he demanded bruskly. "Sick?"

"Sick" repeated Clint vaguely. "No, thanks, I'm all right."

"Then why do you cut practice?" asked Black severely. "Don't you know--"
It was then that Black recalled Clint's face and remembered having met
him in Innes's room a week before. "Hello," he said in a milder tone. "I
didn't recognise you. Er--you see, Thayer, when you fellows don't show
up I have to find out what the reason is. Maybe you didn't know it, but
it's the customary thing to get permission to cut practice."

"Oh! No, I didn't know it, Black," replied Clint. "I'm sorry. I got in a
mess with my Greek and thought I'd better stay away and take a fall out
of it. Besides, I didn't think anyone would care if I didn't report."

"Didn't think anyone would care!" exclaimed Black, seating himself on an
arm of the Morris chair and viewing Clint with astonishment. "How the
dickens do you suppose we can turn out a team if we don't care whether
fellows report or not? Suppose the others thought that, Thayer, and
stayed away!"

"I meant that--that I'm not much use out there and it didn't seem to me
that it mattered very much if I stayed away once. I'm sorry, though, if
I've done wrong."

"Well, that's all right," returned Black, mollified. "If you didn't
know, that's different. Only another time you'd better see Mr. Robey and
get permission to cut. You see, Thayer, at this time of year we need all
the fellows we can get. Maybe you think you're not very important out
there, but that isn't the way of it at all. Everyone counts. You are
all--ah--you are all parts of the--ah--machine, if you see my drift,
Thayer, and if one part is missing, why--ah--Well, you see what I mean?"

"Yes, of course. I'll remember the next time."

"Well, I wouldn't let there be any next time if I were you. To be frank,
Thayer, Robey doesn't like fellows to cut. If you do it much he's
awfully likely to tell you to--ah--stay away altogether!"

"Well, in my case--" began Clint, with a smile.

"Now today," went on Black, "Robey wanted you for the second when Tyler
got hurt and you weren't there and we had to play a second squad
half-back at tackle. Robey didn't like it and jumped on me about it. And
of course I had to tell him that I hadn't given any cuts. I'm not
supposed to, anyway, but he seemed to think that maybe I had. If you
don't mind, Thayer, it wouldn't be a bad idea to tell him if he asks you
that you were--ah--sick, you know."

"Do you mean," asked Clint incredulously, "that he wanted me to play on
the second this afternoon?"

"Yes, you see Tyler got an awful bat on the head and he's out of the
game for several days, I guess. It's none of my business, in a way, of
course, but, if you don't mind me saying so, Thayer, it's a poor idea to
let chances get by. If you'd been there today you might have had a slice
of luck and found yourself on the second for keeps. A fellow's got to be
on the _qui vive_ all the time and not miss any chances, old chap."

"I reckon that's so," agreed Clint regretfully. "You don't think he
will want me for the second tomorrow, Black?"

"Oh, maybe. You be there, anyhow. And if he asks you you'd better fake
sickness, I think."

"I dare say he won't remember by tomorrow," said Clint. "But if he
does--"

"Don't bank on that," replied Black, shaking his head. "Robey has a
fierce memory. You'll find that out for yourself if you stay around
awhile longer."

"If I do," murmured Clint.

"Well, I think you will unless you get Robey down on you by too many
cuts."

"Really?" Clint asked eagerly.

"Sure. You see most fellows want to be backs or ends; about eight out of
ten want to be half-backs and the ninth wants to be either full-back or
end. The tenth fellow is willing to play in the line."

"Oh," said Clint. "And how about quarters?"

"You have to almost beg 'em to try for quarter-back. I don't know why,
but almost every fellow is leery of that position. Usually a coach makes
a quarter out of a fellow who thinks he's a born half or end. Well, I
must beat it. See you tomorrow, then?"

"Yes, indeed, I'll be there!" replied Clint earnestly. "Thanks for
coming around."

"Oh, that's all right. All in the way of duty, you know. So long!"

Clint thoughtfully placed a marker in his book and closed it.

"That's a good afternoon's work," he reflected, "but if it's lost me a
place on the second--" He shook his head ruefully. Then he smiled.

"Gee," he murmured, "I don't know whether I'm more scared of Mr. Simkins
or Mr. Robey!"

The next day he made such a satisfactory showing in Greek that Mr.
Simkins took him back into his good graces. "Ha, Thayer," he said, "you
lead me to suspect that you spent a little time on your lesson last
evening. I am not doing you an injustice, Thayer?"

"No, sir, I put in two hours on it."

"Marvellous! Is there any other member of the class who wasted
so much of his time in such manner? Raise your hands, please.
One--two--three--Burgess, you hesitate, do you not? Ah, I thought so!
You were merely going to scratch your head. Wise youth, Burgess. Scratch
hard. Set up a circulation if possible. Hm. That will do, Thayer.
Burgess, if it is not asking too much--"

Unfortunately--or perhaps fortunately--Clint's showing on this occasion
was accepted by Mr. Simkins as a standard to which future performances
were required to conform. "What has been done once may be done again,
Thayer," he would inform him. And Clint, not being able to deny the
logic of this statement, was forced to toil harder than ever. But there
came a time, though it was not yet, when he found that his difficulties
were lessening, that an hour accomplished what it had taken two to
accomplish before; and that, in short, Greek, while not a study to
enthuse over, had lost most of its terrors. But all that, as I say, came
later, and for many weeks yet "Uncle Sim" pursued Clint in his dreams
and the days when he had a Greek recitation were dreaded ones.

The afternoon following that on which he had absented himself from
practice saw Clint approaching the field at three-thirty with
misgivings. He feared that Coach Robey would remember his defection
against him and at the same time he knew that he would feel flattered if
the coach did! The question was soon settled, for Clint had no more than
reached the bench when Mr. Robey's eyes fell on him.

"Thayer!"

"Yes, sir!" Clint hurried toward him.

"Where were you yesterday?"

"In my room, sir. I had--"

"Sick?"

"No, sir, I wanted to--"

"Anyone tell you you might cut practice?"

"No, sir, I didn't know--"

"Never mind what you knew or didn't know. You know now that if you stay
away again without permission you'll get dropped. That's all."

Clint returned to the bench contentedly. After all he was, it seemed,
not such an unimportant unit as he had supposed! Later he discovered
that Tyler was not present and hoped so hard that he would fall heir to
that disabled player's position on the second squad that he fell under
the disfavour of the third squad quarter-back and was twice called down
for missing signals.

And then, when, finally, the first and second lined up for a
twenty-minute scrimmage, he saw the coveted place again filled by the
substitute half-back and found himself sitting, blanket-wrapped, on
the bench!

Tracey Black, catching his eye between periods, smiled sympathetically.
Tracey could have told him that Coach Robey was punishing him for
yesterday's misdemeanour, but he didn't, and the explanation didn't
occur to Clint. And the latter followed the rest back to the gymnasium
after practice was over, feeling very dejected, and was such poor
company all evening that Amy left him in disgust at nine and sought more
cheerful scenes.



CHAPTER V

ON THE SECOND

At the end of a fortnight Clint had, so to speak, become a regular
student of Brimfield Academy in good standing. That is, he had learned
the manners and customs and the language, for Brimfield, like every
similar institution, had its own ways and its own speech. Clint no
longer said "Hello!" or "How do you do?" on meeting an acquaintance. He
said "Hi!" and threw his head back with a little jerk. He bought a
diminutive grey cap with a small visor and wore it so far on the back of
his head that it was not discernible from the front. (If you belonged on
one of the teams you wore your insignia in maroon above the visor, or,
if you had won two "B's," you wore a maroon cap instead and the insignia
was in grey. But Clint hadn't come to that yet.) He offhandedly referred
to the Principal as "Josh," to the instructors as "Horace" or "Uncle
Sim" or "Jordy," as the case might be. He knew that a Hall Master was an
"H.M."; that he and one hundred and seventy-one other youths were, in
common parlance, "Brims"; that a "Silk Sock" was a student of Claflin
School, Brimfield's athletic rival; that Wendell Hall was "Wen";
Torrence, "T"; Hensey, "Hen" or "The Coop," and Billings, "Bill." Also
that an easy course, such as Bible History, was a "doze"; that to study
was to "stuff"--one who made a specialty of it being, consequently, a
"stuffer"; that a boy who prided himself on athletic prowess was a
"Greek"; that a recitation was a "recit"; that the recitation rooms were
"cells," and many other important things.

He subscribed to the school monthly, the _Review_,--or, rather, he
chipped in with Amy, which produced the same result at half the
cost,--contributed to the Torrence Hall football fund, became a member,
though not yet a very active one, of the debating club and paid in his
dues, and spent all his October and November allowance in advance,
together with most of the money he had in hand, in the purchase of a
suit of grey flannel at the local tailoring establishment. When
completed--of course it couldn't be paid for at once--it was at least
two sizes too large for him, such being the accepted fashion at
Brimfield just then; had the pockets set at rakish angles, exhibited a
two-and-a-half-inch cuff at the bottom of the trousers and contained a
cunning receptacle for a fountain pen and pencil in the waistcoat,
(Clint called it a vest, but the tailor set him right.) Amy viewed that
suit with frank envy, for the coat was fully two inches wider across the
shoulders than his and the trouser cuffs were deeper. He tried it on
before the glass and promptly offered to buy it of Clint at an advance
of two dollars, which offer was as promptly declined.

"The trouble with my coat," said Amy mournfully when all blandishments
had failed and he was regretfully removing the garment, "is that it
pretty near fits me. I told the man he was making it too snug!"

By this time Canterbury High School had been met and defeated, by the
score of 15 to 6, and the football team had entered on its third week.
Clint still hung on, sometimes much discouraged, and took his share of
hard knocks and gruelling labour. Tyler having returned to his position
on the second, Clint told himself that his last chance to make that team
had vanished. But, just when he had about given up hope of advancement,
a fortuitous combination of briskness on the part of the weather and
"ginger" on the part of Clint produced unexpected results.

The 'varsity team was composed largely of substitutes when scrimmage
with the second began that afternoon, for the Canterbury game three days
before had left a number of the regulars rather played out. Lacking a
left tackle for Saunders' place, Coach Robey took Cupples from the
second, and Captain Turner, of the latter team, filled the vacancy with
Bobbins, who, like Clint, was a new candidate. Clint viewed the
proceeding gloomily. It seemed to him that he was more justly entitled
to a place on the second's list of substitutes than Bobbins. His
judgment was speedily vindicated, for Bobbins put up such a weak
exhibition at left tackle that Turner impatiently sent him off, and the
scrimmage stopped while he looked doubtfully toward the bench.

"I want a tackle," he announced. "Who's there, Danny?"

Danny Moore, the trainer, ran a sharp eye along the blanketed line.
"Tackle!" he cried. "Who's playing tackle?"

Both Clint and another boy jumped forward, and as it happened Danny's
sharp green eye fell first on Clint. "Get in there, then, on the
second, me boy!"

Morton, the assistant manager, who was keeping the record, called as
Clint trotted past him, "Hi! What's the name?"

"Thayer," answered Clint.

"Left tackle," instructed Captain Turner. "Know the signals?"

"Yes," Clint replied, jumping into place. Kingston, a heavily-built,
shock-headed youth whom Clint knew well enough to nod to, played left
guard. "Hi!" he said as Clint poised himself in the line. "Use your arms
and turn him in, boy!"

"Help your guard," instructed Turner, at left end, "and watch for an
inside run."

It was the 'varsity's ball near the second's twenty-five-yard line, and
Carmine, who had taken Marvin's place at quarter, sent Still plunging at
the left of the second's line on the first play. Roberts, who played
opposite Clint, was a big, heavy chap, and when he threw himself forward
Clint, who had been playing too high, was hurled aside like a chip and
Still went through for three yards before the secondary defence brought
him down. Turner thumped Clint on the back.

"Watch for that, left tackle! Play lower! Get the jump!"

The next play struck the centre and piled through Peters for the
distance. An end run, with Carmine carrying the ball, was spoiled by
Turner. Then came another attack on the left. Clint, playing a half-yard
outside the opposing end, watched the ball snapped and sensed the play.

"Left!" he shouted. "Left!" He heard Kingston grunt as he plunged into
his opponent. Then he was holding Roberts off as best he could, neck and
hip, and Kendall, the 'varsity right half, was cutting in. With a lunge,
Clint pivoted around Roberts and tackled hard and firm as the half-back
came through. He was dragged a foot or two before his secondary defence
hurled itself against the runner, but the gain was less than a yard and
Turner thumped him ecstatically as he pulled himself out of the pile.

"That's the ticket, feller! Run him out and get him! Third down, second!
Stop 'em now!"

The second didn't stop them, but it made them resort to a fake-kick to
get their distance on fourth down. From the fifteen yards Kendall tried
a field-goal and missed narrowly and the second put the ball in play on
the twenty yards.

The first play went through for two yards on the other side of the line.
Then came a criss-cross, with the runner plunging at right guard. Clint
started with the ball and had his man out instantly. The play followed
through for three yards. Again the quarter chose that point and again
the second's left side made the opening. But, with three to go on fourth
down, a punt was imperative and Martin, the full-back, was called on. As
Martin was a right-foot punter Clint had little to do save get through
and down the field, and the instant the ball was snapped he dashed into
his opponent, beating him by a fraction of a second and upsetting his
balance beautifully. When the sound of boot and leather came Clint was
past the 'varsity's backfield and, with Turner but a yard or two in
advance, was sprinting fast. Carmine was playing back in centre, with
Kendall across the field, and it was into Carmine's territory that the
ball was going. Suddenly Clint saw Carmine start quickly up the field
toward them and guessed that the kick was short. Kendall was heading
across to interfere for the catcher.

"Get the interference," cried Turner.

But it wasn't to happen that way, for Edwards had circled around and,
even as Turner issued his command, Edwards and Kendall went over
together in a heap and the ball settled into Carmine's arms. Turner
leaped toward him, Carmine swayed aside and Turner went past. It was
Clint who hurled himself at the quarter, wrapped eager arms about his
knees and toppled him to earth so savagely that the pigskin bounded out
of his clutch. There was a scramble for the ball, but Tyler, the
second's right tackle, got it and reached the twenty-yard line before he
was pulled down from behind.

"That's the way to tackle, Thayer!" Clint, trotting down the field to
the new line-up, turned to find Coach Robey beside him. "That was good
work," commended the coach. "Keep it up."

The 'varsity made some changes then. Kendall went out and was replaced
by Freer, Still gave way to St. Clair, and Gafferty went in for Hall at
right guard. The fresh players saved the day for the 'varsity, for,
although the second finally reached the twelve yards, it could go no
further, and Captain Turner's try at a place-kick went a yard under the
cross-bar. And that ended the practice for the day.

In the locker-room Turner sought Clint out and said several nice things
about his playing, ending with: "Guess we'll have to have you on the
second, Thayer. You report to me tomorrow."

That undoubtedly was the turning point in Clint's football career for
that year, for three days later the second cut came and the third squad
ceased to be. Some fifteen fellows retired to private life or to their
Hall teams and the rest were gathered into the second or went to the
'varsity to be tried out as substitutes. Clint was pretty certain that,
had it not been for that Tuesday performance, he would have been one of
the unfortunate fifteen.

Amy pretended to view Clint's advancement to the second team with alarm.
"First thing I know," he said gloomily, "I'll be rooming with a regular
Greek. You'll be having photographs taken to show your superb physical
development, I dare say, and writing letters to the _Bulletin_ signed
'Athlete.' As a matter of fact, Clint, I happened to see that
performance this afternoon and you didn't fool me a bit. You tackled
Carmine because he was in the way and you ran into him and put your arms
around him to keep from falling on your nose. It was no brilliancy of
yours that made the poor chap fumble the ball. You hit him like a load
of bricks! If I'd been Carmine I'd have up and biffed you one! You
were--were distinctly ungentlemanly, Clint. You should remember that
even in football there are limits. To deliberately try to kill an
opponent, as you did today, is not considered good form. Besides,
Carmine's a friend of mine. We come from the same metropolis. It would
be a very painful thing if I had to write home to his folks that he had
been killed on the field of battle by my room-mate. A most painful and
embarrassing duty for me, Clint."

"It's going to be my painful and embarrassing duty to stuff a towel in
your silly mouth in about two minutes," replied Clint. "How did you
happen to see practice? I thought you were going to play tennis
with Scannel."

"He didn't show up. I suppose his courage failed him at the last
moment."

"Yes, it must be trying to beat anyone the way he beats you. I don't
blame him for shirking it."

"When Bob Scannel beats me," replied Amy serenely, "you'll be playing
football on the Varsity, old top, and I'll be getting A's in math., a
far, far day!"

"I suppose I'll be going to training table before long," said Clint
reflectively.

Amy groaned. "There you go! That's the sort of stuff I'll have to listen
to from now on. I hope to goodness you choke on a prune! That's about
all you'll get there; prunes and boiled rice. I'm not sure about the
rice, either, at the second's table. I think the second simply has
prunes. Boiled prunes for breakfast, roast prunes for dinner and dried
prunes for supper. I--I shall expect to notice a wonderful imprunement
in you very soon, Clint."

"And that's the sort of stuff _I_ have to listen to!" exclaimed the
other. "Honest, Amy, you make the bummest jokes!"

"I think that was rather good, myself," said Amy cheerfully. "I believe
I'll send it to the _Bulletin_. I've observed of late that the
_Bulletin_ has lacked humour."

"Did it ever have any?" asked Clint, folding the letter he had been
struggling over.

"Unconsciously, yes. Last year someone contributed a sonnet called
'Truth.' No one could see much sense in it until some smart chap
discovered that the first letters of each line spelled 'The Bulletin is
Punk.' Now when you want anything printed in the _Bulletin_ you have to
send a sworn statement that there isn't an acrostic concealed in it. The
editors went gunning for the fellow who sent in the sonnet, but they
never found him."

Clint laughed. "They didn't try 14 Torrence, then, did they?" he
inquired. Amy smiled noncommittingly.

"Your insinuation pains me," he murmured.

"Why don't you deny it, then?"

"It is quite unnecessary. Anyone knowing my blameless career--"

"Have you saved a copy of it?"

"I believe there's one somewhere in my scrapbook," replied Amy
carelessly. "Some time, if you are good, I'll look it up. Meanwhile, if
you're through with your ridiculous chatter, we'll go to supper."



CHAPTER VI

THE RUNAWAY WHEEL

The following Saturday Brimfield went to Thacher to play Thacher School.
As there was to be no practice for the second team, Clint decided to see
the game. Rather to his surprise, Amy readily agreed to accompany him.
Amy pretended a deep disdain for football and seldom attended practice
or, for that matter, minor contests. It is probable that he consented to
go to Thacher less to watch the game than for the sake of Clint's
society, for by that time the two were fairly inseparable. The team
started off about noon, but the "rooters", most of whom had
eleven-thirty recitations, started an hour later, after a hurried
dinner. Thacher was only twenty-odd miles away, but the journey occupied
more than an hour, since it was necessary to take train to Wharton and
change there to the trolley line.

It was a mild day, sunny and cloudless, and travelling, especially on
the electric car, was very pleasant. The fellows were full of spirits
and a bit noisy, and played pranks on each other and had a thoroughly
good time. The only untoward incident occurred when Peters, the second
team centre, fell off the running-board of the trolley car and rolled
down a six-foot embankment. Fortunately the accident occurred on a curve
and the car was running slowly. Still more fortunately, perhaps, Peters
was a rotund youth well padded with flesh and he sustained no injuries
beyond a sprained thumb. By the time the car had been stopped and
hurried back to the rescue Peters was climbing a trifle indignantly up
the bank. For the rest of the way he amused himself and others within
hearing by estimating the amount of damages he could collect from the
railway company.

Something like an hour later, however, when Peters made the discovery
that in his spectacular disembarkment he had emptied his pocket of all
the money he had with him, a matter of ninety-four cents, he could no
longer see the humorous aspect of the incident. For nearly two months he
conducted a campaign of correspondence with the railway company seeking
a refund of his money. Peters' claim against the company became a
standing joke. In the end he was defeated. His contention that the
company owed him the amount of money lost from his pocket resulted,
after many days, in a reply from the claims agent to the effect that
since the money was undoubtedly just where he had lost it and could be
found by search the company could not be held responsible. To this
Peters laboriously wrote that since the money had been abstracted from
him while a passenger on the company's car it was up to the company to
find it and return it to him. Also that, if the loss wasn't made good,
he would bring suit against the company for injuries sustained. After a
lapse of a fortnight the agent countered with a statement that as Peters
had been riding on the running-board, contrary to the rules of the
company, the company was in no way liable for his injury. Peters replied
that he had not ridden on the running-board from choice but that he had
been unable to find accommodations on any other part of the car, and he
wanted ninety-four cents, please. Whereupon a brief epistle announced
that the matter had been referred to the legal department and, upon
advice, the road was regretfully obliged to refuse further consideration
of the claim. That settled the matter, except that Peters wrote once
more and told the agent quite frankly what he, Peters, thought of the
railway, its officers, legal department, road-bed, rolling-stock and
claims department; especially claims department! Undoubtedly the
company had grounds for libel after the receipt of that epistle, but it
never made use of them.

But we are far ahead of our story.

The Thacher game was not especially interesting. Thacher faced Brimfield
with a light team, and, unable to gain consistently through the line,
reverted to kicking. This gave the visiting backs some good practice in
the handling of punts but gained the home team little advantage.
Brimfield rolled up twenty-six points in four ten-minute periods and was
scored on but once when, in the third quarter, Thacher managed a
brilliant field-goal from the enemy's thirty-three yards.

The contest was all over before four o'clock and Brimfield made a wild
rush from the grounds to the town in the endeavour to get the
four-fifteen trolley for Wharton. The team, which was provided with a
coach, and about half the "rooters" succeeded, but the rest, Clint and
Amy among them, arrived too late.

As there was not another car until a quarter to five, they set out to
kill time by viewing the town. Thacher was not a very large place and,
after wandering up one side of the main street and down the other,
looking in all the windows, and leisurely partaking of college-ices at
the principal drug store, there was still ten minutes left to be
disposed of. At the moment of making the discovery they were a block
from the square from which the trolley car trundled away to Wharton, and
they could have covered the distance in something like ten seconds from
a standing start. In spite of this, however, they never got that car!

Gradually they had become separated from the other fellows, and now they
were alone in their grandeur watching the efforts of a youth of about
twenty to start an automobile which stood in front of Thacher's
principal hotel, the Commercial House. They were not especially
interested in the spectacle and really didn't much care whether the
youth ever got going, but there wasn't much else to look at. Every time
the engine started and the youth made a wild dash at the throttle he
reached it too late. Before he could pull it down the chug-chugging died
away. Several minutes passed and Clint viewed the clock in front of a
jewelry store across the street apprehensively. It was seventeen minutes
of five. He tugged Amy's sleeve.

"Come on," he said. "We don't want to miss this one."

"Right-o," replied Amy. "Let's see, though, if he makes it this time."

"Say, one of you fellows pull that throttle down when I get her going,
will you?" asked the automobilist. Amy nodded and put his hand on
the quadrant.

"Now then!" The engine started after several crankings and Amy pulled a
lever. Unfortunately, however, he pulled the wrong one and the engine,
as Amy said, immediately choked to death. The youth observed him more in
sorrow than in anger and drew a sleeve over his perspiring forehead.

"Awfully sorry," said Amy. "I got the wrong handle. Try it again."

The clock showed four-forty-four and Clint saw the car roll around the
corner into the square. "Come on," he begged. "We'll have to beat it,
Amy." Amy nodded, but the youth was cranking again and he didn't want to
desert his post. This time their combined efforts were crowned with
success. The car awoke to a steady, frantic chugging. The youth mopped
his forehead again.

"Want a ride?" he asked. "I'm going by the school."

"Not our school," said Amy. "We're from Brimfield."

"Well, I'll put you down in Wharton before the trolley gets there.
That's where I'm going. Jump in."

Amy looked eagerly at Clint. "Want to?" he asked.

"Got to," replied Clint gloomily. "There goes the car, you silly chump!"

"All right," said Amy. "We don't have to get there until five-twenty,
anyway. Come on, Clint."

They climbed into the back of the car and threw themselves luxuriously
against the cushions.

"Home, James," commanded Amy.

The driver turned and grinned. He was a not-over-clean youth, and his
hair was badly in need of a barber's attentions, but he was evidently
good-natured. The car, which was an old one and had undoubtedly seen
much better days, swung around and headed back toward Thacher School and
the football field. The youth talked to them over his shoulder.

"She's hard to start," he said, "when she's been standing, but she can
go all right. You wait till we're out of town and I'll show you. I got
to go over to Wharton to get Mr. Cumnock."

"Who's he?" asked Amy disinterestedly.

"He runs the Commercial House. He comes out from New York on the
express and I go over and get him."

"Oh, is this his car?"

"No, it belongs to Sterry, the liveryman. I drive for him. It's been a
good car in its day, but it's pretty old now. Runs pretty well, though,
when it's in shape."

"I hope," said Clint, "it's in shape today."

"Sure. I was two hours fixing it this morning. Now I'll show you if she
can go."

He did and she could! They passed the school and the football field at a
thirty-mile clip and, a little further out of town, hit it up still
faster. Clint and Amy bumped around in the tonneau like two dried peas
in a pod. The engine was by no means noiseless and from somewhere under
their feet there came a protesting grind that nearly drowned their
efforts at conversation. Not that that mattered, though, for they were
going too fast to talk, anyway. At first they were a bit uneasy, but
presently when they found that the car did not jump into a ditch or
vault a fence, they got over their nervousness and thoroughly enjoyed
the well-nigh breathless sensation. The driver lolled back on his spine
with a nonchalance that aroused Clint's admiration and envy. He wondered
whether he would ever own a car and be able to go dashing through the
scenery at forty miles an hour like this. And he was still wondering
when something happened.

It happened so quickly that it was all over before it had begun. At
least, so Amy declared afterwards. The car, which fortunately had
decreased its speed to negotiate an abrupt turn in the road, suddenly
shot down a slope at the left, turned around once and stopped with a
disconcerting abruptness, its radiator against a four-inch birch tree.
Clint and Amy picked themselves from the bottom of the tonneau and
stared, more surprised than frightened. Behind them, on the level road,
a wheel--present investigation showed that it was the forward left
one--was proceeding firmly, independently on its way! As they looked,
open-mouthed, it began to wobble, as though doubtful of the propriety of
going off on its own hook like that, and finally, after turning around
several times, like a dog making its bed, it subsided in the dust.

The driver of the car, still clutching the steering-wheel, turned a
mildly surprised gaze on the boys. "Now, what," he asked slowly, "do you
think of that?"

They both thought it decidedly strange, but they didn't say so. Clint
laughed uncertainly and took a long breath and Amy viewed his
surroundings interestedly.

"When," asked Amy, "does the next car go, please?"

That flippant remark broke the tension and the driver climbed gingerly
out and viewed the bare hub. "It's lucky," he ruminated, "I had you
fellows in back there. If you hadn't been there I guess she'd have
turned turtle on me. Well, say, I've known this old boiler to do a heap
of tricks, but this is a new one on me, all right!" He stood off and
sought inspiration by scratching his head. The boys joined him on the
ground. "Just naturally slid off the hub and rolled away!" murmured the
youth. "What do you think of that?"

"I'd hate to tell you what I think of it," responded Amy. "Can you put
it on again?"

"Yes, but it won't stay, because the nut's gone." He went off and
rescued the wheel. "I guess the nut and the hub-cap came off down the
road somewhere. Might look for 'em, but like as not they're a mile or
two back."

"What will you do then?" asked Clint.

"Foot it to Wharton, I guess. Maybe I can find a telephone this side
somewhere." He reflected. "I guess there's one at Maxwell's Stock Farm
about three miles from here. I'll get Bumstead in Wharton to send out
and tow me in."

"That's all right for you," said Amy, "but what are we supposed to do?"

"Guess you'll either have to foot it or wait till someone comes along.
Sorry, but I didn't know that wheel was thinking of leaving."

"Do you reckon there'll be someone along?" asked Clint.

"Sure to be sooner or later."

"We'll get 'sooner or later' if we're not back at school in time for
supper," murmured Amy. "Guess we'd better hike along, Clint. How far is
Wharton from here?"

"About five miles, by road," said the youth. "Maybe less if you cross
over there and hit the trolley line. Say, if you get over there you
might catch a car. What time is it?"

"Just five-three," answered Clint.

"Oh, well, then there won't be one along for most a half-hour. That'll
be your shortest way, though."

"We'll never get back before six," said Clint.

"More likely eight," replied Amy. "Well, it can't be helped. We might as
well make the best of it. What are you going to do?"

The driver of the automobile looked up the road and down. "I might go
back and look for that nut," he muttered, "or I might go on to
Maxwell's, or I might stay here and wait for someone to come along.
Guess I'll wait a while."

"Well, we've got to beat it," said Amy. "Sorry about your car. Is there
anything we can do if we ever reach Wharton?"

The youth shook his head philosophically. "No, I'll get word to Bumstead
before you get there, I guess. Much obliged. I'm sorry I got you into
such a fix, fellows. I meant well." He grinned broadly.

"That's all right," Clint replied. "It wasn't your fault. Good-bye.
Straight across that field there, you say? How far is it to
the trolley?"

"About half a mile, I guess. You'll see the poles pretty quick.
Good-bye, fellows. Hope you get home all right. So long."



CHAPTER VII

LOST!

It was all well enough for the automobile driver to tell them go
straight across the field, but it was quite another thing to do it, for
there was a broad and deep stream in the middle of it and no sign of a
bridge anywhere in sight. There was nothing to do but follow the stream
in the general direction of Wharton until they could reach the trolley
line. That brook wound in a most exasperating manner, finally heading
back toward where they supposed the dirt road to be. Amy stopped and
viewed it disgustedly.

"I'm going to wade it," he declared.

But Clint persuaded him against that plan, pointing out that he would be
extremely uncomfortable riding on the trolley car with his clothes
soaking wet. Amy grumblingly agreed to give the stream another chance to
behave itself. By that time they had been walking fully fifteen minutes
and the scene of the accident was lost to sight and as yet there was no
trace of the trolley line. Clint looked at his watch.

"I reckon," he said, "we wouldn't get that car even if we were on the
other side now. The best thing for us to do is hit the road again and
beat it for Wharton on foot."

Amy agreed and they turned their backs on the stubborn brook and set off
across a meadow which presently gave place to a hill-side field
overgrown with bushes and weeds and prickly vines which clung to their
trousers and snarled around their feet. Clint said they were wild
raspberry and blackberry vines and Amy replied that he didn't care what
sort of vines they were; they were a blooming nuisance. To avoid them,
they struck westward again toward a stone wall, climbed it and found
themselves in a patch of woods. They kept along the stone wall, dodging
in and out through the trees, and ascending a hill. Presently it dawned
on Clint that the stone wall, like the brook, was having fun with them.
For, instead of running straight, as one would expect any decent stone
wall to run, it was bending all the time to the west. Clint knew it was
the west because the sun was disappearing there; perhaps _had_
disappeared by now. He acquainted Amy with the discovery and they
crawled across the wall again and found themselves in a worse tangle of
briers than before. But they were desperate now. It was well after five
and the shadows were getting long and black. They were both secretly
rather glad to be out of the woods, although progress through the briers
was far from enjoyable.

Finally Amy, pausing to wrest himself from the frantic clutches of a
blackberry vine, raised his head and viewed Clint solemnly.

"Clint," he announced, "I've got something to tell you."

"Fire away."

"We're lost."

"I knew that ten minutes ago," was the reply.

"Then why didn't you tell a fellow? When I'm lost I like to know it.
It's the--the uncertainty that worries me. Now that I know I shall never
see school and Josh again I feel better." Amy looked about him
appraisingly. "Have you noticed any berries or nuts, Clint? I suppose
we'll have to live on them for a few days."

"You're the only nut I've seen so far," laughed Clint. "Come on and
let's get out of here. If I've got to be lost I'd rather be lost where
there aren't so many stickers."

"Yes," agreed Amy, "I suppose we must do the usual thing. We must walk
until we drop. Then we cover ourselves with leaves, pillow our heads on
a rock and sleep the sleep of exhaustion."

"What was that?" asked Clint.

"What was what? Don't tell me you heard a bear!"

"I guess it was the trolley car. Only it seemed to come from over that
way, and that fellow said the trolley line was over there."

"I don't believe that fellow very well," responded Amy pessimistically.
"He said he'd get us to Wharton, and he didn't. He said his old car
would go, and it didn't. He said we could cross that field, and it
didn't--I mean we couldn't. Anyway, I propose we find the road again and
sit down and wait until someone comes along and gives us a lift."

"That's all very well, but which way _is_ the road?"

Amy considered. "Search me," he said finally. "Let's play it's over
there, though. After all, it doesn't matter which way you walk when
you're lost. You always walk in circles. We'll be back here in a while,
Clint. Why not make believe we've walked and are back again?"

"Don't be an idiot," said Clint. "Come on. It'll be dark first thing we
know and then we _will_ be in a fix!"

"And I'm getting most awfully hungry," murmured Amy. "I shall search for
berries as we toil weariedly onward."

When they at last left the pasture behind them they found themselves in
another wood. Clint leaned hopelessly against a tree and shook his head.

"This has ceased to be a joke, Amy. We're just about lost as anything."

"Right-o!" Then he added cheerfully: "But we didn't walk in a circle,
Clint. That's something. And that road must be somewhere around here.
When you think of it it's mighty funny. There we were with a perfectly
good road on one side of us and a trolley line on the other. We haven't
crossed either of them. Now where the dickens are they?"

"The way I figure it," replied Clint thoughtfully, "is that the trolley
was a lot farther off than he said it was and that the road turned to
the left again after we got off it. One thing is certain, and that is
that if we haven't crossed it it must be in front of us somewhere, and
the only thing to do is keep on going."

"Until we drop," agreed Amy. "I shall begin and look for a nice
comfortable place to drop. Say, we won't get a thing but hard looks
when we get back--if ever we do."

"We'll be lucky if we get off with hard looks, I reckon," said Clint
gloomily.

They went on through the woods. They were tired now and it was quite
dark under the trees and they made slow progress. Once Clint tripped
over a fallen branch and measured his length and once Amy ran head-on
into a sapling and declared irately, as he rubbed his nose, that he
would come back the next day with an axe and settle matters. At last,
after a silence of many minutes: "We're doing it, I'll bet you
anything," said Amy.

"Doing what?" asked Clint from the twilight.

"Walking in a circle. We must be. We've been in this place for twenty
minutes, at least, and we haven't found a way out yet. Which way is it
you go when you walk in a circle? To the left, isn't it?"

"Right, I think," answered Clint doubtfully.

"No, I'm pretty sure it's the left. Tell you what we'll do, we'll take
shorter steps with our right legs, Clint"

They tried it, but nothing resulted. It was pitch-black now and, since
the sun was gone, getting chillier every minute. Clint wished he had put
on a vest, or, rather, waistcoat. He was about ready to give up when a
patch of grey showed ahead and they made toward it to find themselves at
the edge of the wood on a little hill. Below them spread uncertainly a
bare field. Overhead a few stars shone. If the road was near it was too
dark to see it. They sat down on the ground to rest. For several minutes
neither spoke. Then Clint heard a chuckle from Amy.

"Glad you find it so funny," he grumbled resentfully.

"I was just thinking of something," gurgled Amy. "This is Saturday, you
know, and we always have cold lamb for supper on Saturdays. I hate
cold lamb."

"I don't see where the joke comes in," grumbled Clint.

"Why, I don't have to eat the lamb, do I? Isn't that funny?"

"No, it isn't. I could eat cold--cold--cold dog! Come on. We might as
well walk as sit here and freeze to death."

"I've read," said Amy, "that freezing was a pleasant death, but it
doesn't seem so. Maybe, though, it's painful just at first." He arose
with a groan and followed Clint down the slope. There were more briers,
and now and then they stumbled over outcropping rocks. The field seemed
interminable, but after awhile Clint bumped into a wall. They climbed
over it and started on again.

"If there was only a moon," said Clint, "it would help some. You can't
see a blessed thing."

"If there was a moon it wouldn't get through the clouds. It feels to me
as if it might rain."

"You certainly have cheerful thoughts," Clint grumbled. "I wonder if it
would do any good if we yelled."

"We might try it. Suppose we give the Brimfield cheer, Clint."

"Oh, shut up! You make me tired, Amy. Come on, now. Yell as loud as you
can. All ready?"

"Hold on I What am I to yell?"

"Yell 'Help!' you idiot!"

"Oh, all right." They raised their voices together in a loud appealing
shout. Then they listened. Not a sound answered them.

"Once more," said Clint. Again they shouted and again they listened.
Deep silence, broken only by the chirping of crickets.

"No good, I guess," said Clint despondently.

"Nobody home," murmured Amy. "Now what? I'll tell you frankly, as man to
man, that I can't go on walking all night, Clint. I'm dog-tired and my
left leg's got a cramp in it and I'm weak with hunger. Let's find a
cosy corner somewhere and go to sleep."

"I reckon we'll have to. I'm about all in, too. We'd better find a place
where there's more shelter than there is here, though. Gee, but we are
certainly a fine pair of idiots!"

"We are indeed!" assented Amy with enthusiasm. "I suppose that the time
will come, perhaps twenty or thirty years from now, when we'll be able
to look back on this night's jolly adventures and appreciate all the fun
we're having, but just now--" Amy's voice trailed off into silence.

"Jolly adventures!" grunted Clint. "Don't talk rot!"

Five minutes later they stopped. That is, Clint stopped and Amy ran into
him with a grunt.

"I suppose you haven't got a match, have you?" asked Clint.

"Right-o! You're a fine little supposer," chattered Amy.

"There's something here and I want to see what it is," said Clint. As he
spoke he moved forward a step or two and felt around in the darkness.
"It feels like a fence," he muttered, "a board fence. No, it isn't, it's
a house! Here's a window."

"A hole, I'd call it," said Amy. "Let's find the door."

They moved to the right, following the building, and promptly collided
with a tree. They had to go around that, since there was no room to
squeeze past it. Then the hut, for it was evidently no more, presented a
doorway, with a door half-open on broken hinges. They hesitated
a moment.

"Wonder what's inside," said Clint in a low voice.

"Spooks," suggested Amy, none too bravely.

"Shut up! Would you go in?"

"Sure, I would. Come on."

Very cautiously they edged past the crazy door, their hands stretched
warily ahead. There was a sudden scurrying sound from the darkness and
they jumped back and held their breaths.

"P-probably a rat," whispered Amy.

"Or a squirrel," said Clint. They listened. All was silent again. A damp
and musty odour pervaded the place. Under their feet the floor boards
had rotted and as they made a cautious circuit of the interior they trod
as often on soil as on wood. The hut was apparently empty of everything
save a section of rusted stovepipe, dangling from a hole in the roof,
some damp rags and paper in a corner and a broken box. Clint discovered
the box by falling over it with a noise that sent Amy a foot off the
ground. When all was said the advantages presented by the hut were few.
It did protect them from the little chill breeze that stirred and it put
a roof over their heads, although, as Clint said, if it rained before
morning they'd probably find the roof of little account. On the other
hand, it was damper than the outdoors and the mustiness was far from
fragrant. They decided, however, to take up their quarters there until
morning. Looking for the road was evidently quite useless, and, anyway,
they were much too tired to tramp any longer. They found a place away
from door and window where some of the floor-boards still survived and
sank down with their backs to the wall. Amy heaved a great sigh
of relief.

"Gee," he muttered, "this is fine!"

"Pull the blanket up," murmured Clint with a pathetic effort at humour.
Amy chuckled weakly.

"I can't reach it," he said. "Guess it's on the floor. Anyway, the night
air is very beneficial."

"Could you eat anything if you had it, Amy?"

"Shut up, for the love of Mike! I could eat a kitchen range. Clint, did
I cast any aspersions awhile ago on cold lamb?"

"Uh-huh," said the other faintly.

"I was afraid so. I wish I hadn't now. A great, big platter of cold lamb
would--would--Oh, say, I could love it to death! Gee, but I'm tired! And
sleepy, too. Aren't you?"

Clint's response was a long, contented snore. Amy grunted. "I see you're
not," he murmured. "Well--" He pushed himself a little closer to Clint
for warmth and closed his eyes.

Many times they stirred and muttered and reached for bedclothes that
were not there, but I doubt if either of them once really fully awoke
until a sudden glare of light illumined the hut and flashed on their
closed eyelids.

[Illustration: Now and then they spoke, but so softly that the boys
could not hear what was said]



CHAPTER VIII

THE MYSTERIOUS AUTO

They awoke then, alarmed and confused, and stared with sleepy eyes at
the white radiance which, entering door and window, showed with
startling detail the bare walls of their refuge. Even as they looked the
light vanished and, by contrast, the darkness seemed blacker than ever.

"Awake, Amy?" whispered Clint.

"Yes. Say, what the dickens was that?"

"I don't know. Listen!"

From somewhere not far away came the steady purring of a motor car.
Their minds didn't work very quickly yet, and it was fully a minute
before Clint exclaimed: "An auto! Then we must be near the road!"

He scrambled to his feet and crept, unsteadily because of chilled limbs,
to the doorway. Amy followed. At first there was nothing to be seen. The
night was still cloudy. But the sound of the running motor reached them
distinctly, and, after a minute of strained peering into the darkness,
they made out a line of trees against the sky. Apparently there was a
road between them and the trees and the automobile was in the road. But
no lights showed from it.

"Do you suppose," whispered Amy, "it's that fellow looking for us?"

"No, but maybe, whoever it is, he will give us--"

Clint's whisper stopped abruptly. A light flashed a few yards away, such
an illumination as might be from a pocket electric lamp, and a voice
broke the stillness. Clint grasped Amy's arm, warning to silence.
Footsteps crossed the ground toward the hut.

Again the light flashed, but this time its rays were directed toward the
ground and showed two pairs of legs and something that looked like a
stout stick. Then it went out again and the footsteps stopped. The two
men, whoever they were and whatever they were doing, remained some
twenty feet from the watchers at the door. Now and then they spoke, but
so softly that the boys could not hear what was said. Neither could they
determine what the other sound was that reached them. It seemed almost
as though the men were scuffing about the ground, and the absurd notion
that they had lost something and were seeking it occurred to both. But
to look for anything in the dark when there was a light at hand was too
silly, and that explanation was discarded. For fully ten minutes--it
seemed much longer to the shivering pair in the doorway--the motor
chugged and the men continued their mysterious occupation. Amy's teeth
were chattering so that Clint squeezed his arm again. Then the light
again flashed, swept the ground for an instant and was as suddenly shut
off, and the footsteps retreated.

The boys eased their cramped positions. A minute passed. Then they
leaped aside from the doorway, for the flood of white light from the car
was again illumining the hut and the engine was humming loudly. A moment
of suspense, and the light swept past them, moved to the right, fell on
a line of bushes and trees, turned back a little and bored a long hole
in the darkness at the bottom of which stretched a roadway. And then,
with a final sputter of racing engine and a grind of gears, the car
sprang away up the road, the light dimmed and blackness fell again. The
chugging of the auto diminished and died in the distance. Amy arose
stiffly from where he had thrown himself out of the light.

"Now, what the dickens?" he demanded puzzledly.

"I can't imagine," replied Clint. "And I don't much care. What gets me
is why we didn't speak to them!"

"That's so," agreed Amy. "Somehow, there was something sort of sneaky
about them, though, wasn't there? Bet you anything they were robbers
or--or something."

"Robbers don't usually travel around the country at night in autos,"
said Clint thoughtfully. "But I felt the way you did about them, I
guess. I sort of felt that it would be just as well if we didn't butt
in! One of them had a club that looked right hefty."

"Let's go out there and see if we can find anything," suggested Amy.

"All right, but I don't suppose we can even find the place in the dark."

They went out very cautiously and tramped about where it seemed that the
mysterious visitors had been, and Amy even got down on hands and knees
and felt over the ground. But nothing of moment rewarded their search,
the only thing either of them discovered being a head-high bush into
which Clint walked. At last:

"Well, this isn't much fun," said Amy. "And I'm cold clear through. Now
we know where the road is, Clint, let's get on it and walk. At least it
will warm us up."

"All right. I wish I knew what those fellows were up to, though. Maybe
if we waited until daylight--"

"And froze to death! Nothing doing," chattered Amy. "Curiosity killed a
cat, and although I don't feel exactly kittenish, I refuse to take any
chances. What time do you suppose it is?"

"About midnight, I guess." Clint drew out his watch, but he couldn't
even discern the outline of it. "A fellow's a fool to go without
matches," he muttered disgustedly.

"Bet you it's a whole lot later than that," said Amy. "Anyway, let's get
going. Which direction do you think Wharton is?"

They debated that for some time after they had reached the road, and in
the end they decided that the town lay to their left, although, as Clint
pointed out, the men in the automobile had gone in the opposite
direction.

"They might be going to Thacher," said Amy. "Anyhow, we're bound to get
somewhere in time. All I ask of Fortune is a bed and a breakfast; and I
could do without the bed, I guess. Somewhere in the world, Clint there
are two cups of hot coffee waiting for us. Is that not a
cheering thought?"

"I wish I had mine now," replied the other shiveringly. "I dare say
we're headed in the wrong direction for Wharton."

"Say not so," exclaimed Amy, whose spirits were rapidly returning.
"Courage, faint heart! Onward to coffee!"

For awhile they speculated on the mysterious mission of the two men in
the automobile, but neither of them could offer a satisfactory solution
of the problem, and finally they fell silent. Fortunately the road ran
fairly straight and they got off it only once. After they had been
walking what seemed to them to be about an hour, although there was no
way of knowing, Clint called attention to the fact that he could see the
road. Amy replied that he couldn't, but in a moment decided that he
could. To the left of them there was a perceptible greying of the sky.
After that morning came fast. In a few minutes they could make out dimly
the forms of trees beside the way, then more distant objects became
visible and, as by a miracle, the sleeping world suddenly lay before
them, black and grey in the growing light. Somewhere a bird twittered
and was answered. A chilling breeze crept across a field, heralding the
dawn and bringing shivers to the boys. Soon after that they came across
the first sign of life, a farm with a creaking windmill busily at work,
and a light showing wanly in an upper window of the house.

"Some poor fellow is getting out of a nice, warm bed," soliloquised Amy.
"How I pity him! Can't you see him shaking his fist at the alarm-clock
and shivering as he gets into his panties?"

"He's lucky to have a nice, warm bed," responded Clint. "If I had one it
would take more than an alarm-clock to get me out of it!"

"Me too! Say, what do you think about sneaking over there to the stable
and hitting the hay for a couple of hours? Maybe the chap might give us
some coffee, too."

"More likely he'd set the dog on us at this time of morning," answered
Clint. And, to lend weight to his objection, a challenging bark came
across the field.

"Right-o," agreed Amy. "I didn't want any coffee, anyway. Isn't that a
sign-post ahead?"

It was a sign-post, looming black and forbidding, like a wayside gibbet,
where a second road turned to the left. "Wharton, 2 M--Levidge's Mills,
4 M--Custer, 6 M," they read with difficulty.

"We can do two miles in half an hour easily," said Amy. "Gee, I can
almost smell that coffee, Clint!"

They went on in the growing light, passing another farm-house presently
and another unfriendly dog. The greyness in the east became tinged with
rose. Birds sang and fluttered. A rabbit hopped nimbly across the road
ahead of them and disappeared, with a taunting flick of his little white
tail, in the bushes. Further on a chipmunk chattered at them from the
top of the wall and then, with long leaps, raced ahead to stop and eye
them inquiringly, finally disappearing with a last squeal of alarm. A
second sign-post renewed their courage. Wharton, it declared, was but a
mile distant. But that was a long, long last mile! They were no longer
sleepy, but their legs were very tired and the chilly breeze still bored
through their coats. But their journey came to an end at last.
Straggling houses appeared, houses with little gardens and truck patches
about them. Then came a factory building with row on row of staring
windows just catching the first faint glow of the sun. Then they crossed
a railroad and plunged into the town.

But it was a silent, empty town, for this was Sunday morning, and their
steps on the brick sidewalk echoed lonesomely. The awful thought that
perhaps there would be no eating-place open assailed them and drew a
groan of dismay from Amy. "Still," he declared, "if the worst comes to
the worst, we can break a window and get taken to jail. They feed you in
jail, don't they?" he added wistfully.

But near the centre of town a cheering sight met their anxious eyes. A
little man in a white apron was sweeping the doorway of a tiny
restaurant, yawning and pausing at intervals to gaze curiously toward
the approaching travellers. Before they reached him, however, his
curiosity either gave out or was sated, for, with a final tap of the
broom against the doorway, he disappeared. "Suppose," exclaimed Amy, "he
changes his mind and locks up again!" They urged tired feet to a faster
pace and reached the door. On one wide window was the legend:
"Cannister's Café." The door was closed but unlocked. They opened it
and entered.

There was no one in sight, but from beyond a partition which ran across
the room at the back came the cheering sounds of rattling dishes and the
heartening fragrance of coffee. There were eight small tables and a
little counter adorned with a cash register and a cigar case, and
these, excepting an appropriate number of chairs, comprised the
furnishings; unless the various signs along each wall could be included.
These announcements were printed in blue on grey card-board, and the
boys, sinking into chairs at the nearest table, read them avidly: "Beef
Stew, 15 Cents"; "Pork and Beans, 10 Cents"; "Boiled Rice and Milk, 10
Cents"; "Coffee and Crullers, 10 Cents"; "Oysters in Season"; "Small
Steak, 30 Cents"; "Buy a Ticket--$5.00 for $4.50"; "Corn Beef Hash, 15
Cents; With 1 Poached Egg, 20 Cents."

Their eyes met and they smiled. It was pleasantly warm in the little
restaurant, the sun was peeping in at the window, the odour of coffee
was more delightful than anything they had ever inhaled and it was
extremely good to stretch tired legs and ease aching muscles, and for
several minutes they were content to sit there and feast their hungry
eyes on the placards and enjoy in anticipation the cheer that was
to follow.

"What are you going to have?" asked Amy presently.

"Beans and a lot of bread-and-butter and seventy-five cups of coffee,"
replied Clint rapturously.

"Corned beef hash for mine. And a lot more coffee than that. Say, why
doesn't he come?"

Evidently the proprietor had drowned the sound of their entrance with
the rattle of dishes, for the swinging door in the partition remained
closed and the little ledged window beside it showed only a dim vista of
hanging pots and saucepans. Amy rapped a knife against the edge of a
glass and the noise at the rear ceased abruptly, the door swung open and
the man in the enveloping white apron viewed them in surprise. He was a
bald-headed, pink-faced little man with a pair of contemplative
blue eyes.

"Morning, boys," he said. "I didn't hear you come in. Don't usually get
customers till most seven on Sundays. Want something to eat?"

"Yes, can we have something pretty quick?" asked Clint. "We're nearly
starved."

"Well, I ain't got anything cooked, but the fire's coming up fast and it
won't take long. What would you want?"

They made known their wishes and the little man leisurely vanished
again. A clock above the counter announced the time to be twenty-five
minutes to seven.

"We might have got him to bring us some coffee now," said Amy.

"I'd rather wait until I get my breakfast," Clint replied. "I wonder
when we get a train for Brimfield. I reckon they don't run very often
on Sundays."

"Maybe this chap can tell us. We'll ask him when he comes back."

Other and delicious odours mingled with the coffee fragrance, and a
promising sound of sizzling reached them. "That," said Amy, settling
back luxuriously and patting his waistcoat, "is my corned beef hash. I
sort of wish I'd ordered an egg with it. Or, maybe, two eggs. Guess I
will. Some crullers would taste pretty good, wouldn't they?"

"Anything would taste good," agreed Clint longingly.

Ten minutes passed and the door opened to admit another customer. After
that they drifted in by ones and twos quite fast. The boys gathered that
the newcomers were men employed at the railway yards nearby, and
presently Amy questioned one who was reading a paper at the next table.

"Can you tell us when we can get a train for Brimfield?" he asked.

"Brimfield? Yes, there's one at seven-twelve and one at
nine-forty-six."

"I guess we couldn't get the seven-twelve," said Amy, glancing at the
clock. "The other would be all right."

"I ain't sure if that one stops at Brimfield, though. Say, Pete, does
the nine-forty-six stop at Brimfield?"

"No," replied a man at another table. "Express to New York."

"You're wrong," volunteered a third. "It runs accommodation from here on
Sundays."

"That's so," agreed the other. "I'd forgot."

Amy thanked his informant and at that moment the proprietor, who had
been in and out taking orders, appeared with the boys' breakfasts. The
baked beans and the hash were sizzling hot and looked delicious, and the
coffee commanded instant attention. A plate piled with thick slices of
bread and two small pats of very yellow butter completed the repast. For
five minutes by the clock not a word was said at that table. Then,
having ordered a second cup of coffee apiece, the boys found time
to pause.

"Gee, but that was good!" murmured Amy. "I suppose I must have eaten
awfully fast, for I don't seem to want those eggs now."

"How about the crullers?" asked Clint.

"They wouldn't be half bad, would they? Have some?" Clint nodded and
four rather sad-looking rings of pastry appeared. It was still only a
quarter past seven and, since they could not continue their journey
before nine-forty-six, they consumed the crullers and their second cups
of coffee more leisurely. The little restaurant began to get pretty
smoky, and the combined odours of a dozen breakfasts, now that they had
completed their own repasts, failed to delight them. But they stayed on,
hating the thought of the walk to the station, quite satisfied to remain
there without moving in the warmth and cheerful bustle. If they could
have laid their heads against the wall and gone to sleep they'd have
asked nothing more. Amy nodded drowsily once or twice and Clint stared
out the sunny window with the somnolent gaze of a well-fed cat. It was,
he reflected, a very beautiful world. And then their pleasant day-dreams
were disturbed by the sudden and rather boisterous entry of a big,
broad-shouldered man who seemed to take entire possession of the
restaurant and quite dwarf its size.

"Hello, boys!" The newcomer skimmed his hat dexterously to a peg, pulled
out a chair with twice as much noise as usually accompanies such an
operation and plumped his big body into it with a heartiness which
almost set the dishes to rattling in the kitchen. Everyone in the room
except the two boys answered his greeting.

"Hello, Mike! How's the lad?"

"Fine! And hungry to beat the band! Can, you old rascal! Where are you?
Fry me a couple of eggs and some bacon, Can, and draw one."

"All right, Mike!" The proprietor's pink face showed for an instant at
the window. The newcomer opened a morning paper with a loud rustling,
beating the sheets into place with the flat of a huge hand. "You fellows
hear about the burglary?" he asked.



CHAPTER IX

UNDER SUSPICION

"Burglary? No. Where was it?" asked several voices.

"Black and Wiggin's jewelry store."

"_What?_ Who says so?"

"I says so! I seen it just now."

"Saw the burglary?"

"Naw! Saw where they'd cut a chunk out of the window and gone in. Where
you fellows been all morning?"

"Maybe you did it, Mike," suggested a small man across the room, winking
to his neighbour.

"Maybe I wished I had!" was the reply. "They say they got away with
nearly a thousand dollars' worth of stuff. Blew the safe, they did, and
cleaned it out pretty."

"That right? When was this, Mike?"

"Some time last night. A watchman at the collar factory says he seen an
automobile stop around the corner near the Baptist Church about three
o'clock. Says it didn't have no lights on it. He didn't think much about
it, though, he says, and the next time he came round front he looked
again and it was gone. The papers had it last week where there was a job
just like that done over to Maynard. Two ginks in an automobile came
along one night and lifted six or eight hundred dollars' worth of stuff
out of a gent's furnishing shop. If they don't raise my pay at the Yards
pretty quick I'm going to hire me an automobile, fellows."

This aroused laughter, and an excited discussion of the burglary
followed, during which Mr. Cannister quite forgot his orders on the
stove and was only recalled to them by an odour of scorching eggs. Two
of the customers, having finished breakfast, made known their intention
of visiting the scene of the crime, and went out. At the first table
inside the door two boys were regarding each other with round and
inquiring eyes.

"Do you suppose--" began Clint. But Amy hissed him to silence.

"Wait till we hear more," he cautioned.

But, although they listened with all ears, little more information was
forthcoming, save that one Carey, Chief of the local police, was already
busy. "He's telephoned all around," said Mike, "and told them to look
out for the automobile. But, say, what chance has he got, eh? You can't
stop every automobile that goes through and search it for jewelry!"

"What sort of jewelry did they get, Mike?" asked the proprietor.

"Rings and pins and things like that." He chuckled. "It seems that
whoever closed up last night left the box they keep their diamonds and
stones that ain't set in out of the safe. They found it back of the
counter this morning. The robbers hadn't ever seen it. I guess they'd be
good and mad if they knew!"

"Come on," whispered Amy. They settled their checks and left the
restaurant, trying to disguise their eagerness. After the door had
closed behind them the man whom they had asked about the Brimfield
trains inquired: "Who are those boys, Can?"

"Don't know. They walked in here about six-thirty and wanted some
breakfast. Said they was nigh starved. Looked it, too. And mighty tired.
Nice-appearing young fellows. Off on a lark, maybe, trampin'
around country."

"Thought they were strangers here. Got any more coffee, Can?"

       *       *       *       *       *

"What do you think?" asked Amy eagerly as they walked up the street.

"I don't know," replied Clint doubtfully. "What would they be doing
there?"

"Burying the stuff they stole, of course! That's what they did, all
right. You see if it isn't. Maybe they'll offer a reward and all we'll
have to do is go there and dig the things up and--"

"I guess we'd better find the police station and tell what we know,
reward or no reward," answered Clint. "And another thing we'd better do
is telephone to school and tell them we aren't dead. We're going to
catch the mischief, anyway, I reckon, but we might as well save
ourselves all we can. Wonder where there's a telephone."

"There's a blue sign over there in the next block," said Amy.
"Who--who's going to do the talking?"

"Well, you're pretty fond of it," suggested Clint.

"Not today! Not on Sundays, Clint! I never could talk on Sundays! You'd
better do it. And get Josh himself, if you can. He'll like it better
than if he hears it from an H.M. Tell him we got lost and--"

But Amy's further instructions were interrupted. A blue-coated policeman
who had been observing their approach with keen interest hailed them
from the curb at the corner.

"Hello, boys!" he said. "Where'd you come from?"

"We came from Thacher," replied Clint. "That is, we came from there this
morning, or, rather, last night. We're from Brimfield, really."

"Are, eh? Thought you said Thacher. What you doing here?''

"Waiting for a train. We lost our way last night and only got here this
morning."

"Why didn't you take the seven-o'clock then?"

"We didn't know about it until it was too late. We were getting some
breakfast at a restaurant down the street there. We're going to take the
nine-forty-six."

"The nine-forty-six is an express to New York, son. What's your name?
And what's his?"

"My name's Thayer and his is Byrd. We go to Brimfield Academy."

"Do, eh? Aren't you a long way from home?"

"Yes. You see, we went over to Thacher to the football game and lost the
trolley. And then a fellow offered to give us a ride in an automobile as
far as this place and we got in and a wheel came off and we had to walk
the rest of the way. But we got lost in the woods somewhere and--"

"What sort of a looking fellow was this? The one with the auto, I mean?"

"Oh, he was about twenty years old, with kind of long hair, light-brown,
and sort of greyish eyes."

"Tell you his name?"

"No, sir, we didn't ask him. He drives the auto for some liveryman in
Thacher, he said."

"Hm. Well, that may be all right, kids, but I've been instructed to look
out for suspicious characters this morning, and I guess you'd both
better step around to the station with me." He smiled. "I don't suppose
the Chief'll keep you very long, but he might like to ask you some
questions. See?"

The boys nodded not over-enthusiastically and accompanied the officer.
The police station was but a half-block distant on a side street and
their captor ushered them up the steps and into a room where a tall,
bushy-whiskered man with much gold on his shoulders sat writing at a
flat-topped desk.

"Chief, here's a couple of youngsters I met on Main Street just now. I
guess they're all right, but I thought maybe you'd like to look
'em over."

The Chief nodded and proceeded to do so. He had a most disconcerting
stare, had the Chief, and the boys began to wonder if they had not,
perhaps, after all performed that burglary!

"Well, boys," he said finally, "where do you belong?"

"Brimfield Academy," replied Amy.

"Running away, are you?"

"No, sir, we're trying to get back. We went to Thacher yesterday with
the football team and started over here in a fellow's auto and it broke
down about--about four miles back and we got lost and slept in a sort of
hut and got here this morning."

"Where was the hut?" asked the official.

"Just off the road between here and Thacher. About four miles, or maybe
five."

"Nearer six," corrected Clint. "We walked four miles, I guess, before we
found that sign-post."

The Chief questioned particularly regarding the automobile and its
driver, finally taking up the telephone and inquiring of the two local
garages if such a car had been brought in for repairs. Both garages
replied that they hadn't seen the car and the Chief looked back at Amy
speculatively.

"He must have gone back and found that nut," said Amy, "and repaired it
himself."

"Maybe," said the Chief. "Who did you say the fellow drove the auto
for?"

"I didn't say. I've forgotten the name. Some liveryman in Thacher."

"And he was coming here to get the hotel proprietor, eh?"

"That's what he said."

"And you didn't see him again?"

"No, sir, not unless--"

"Unless what?"

Amy glanced inquiringly at Clint and Clint nodded.

"Unless he was in the car that stopped at the hut in the night,"
concluded Amy, "and I don't believe he was."

The Chief exchanged a quick look with the policeman and asked
indifferently: "Oh, there was a car stopped in the night, eh? What for?
Who was in it?"

"We couldn't see who was in it. We were asleep in the hut and woke up
with the light in our eyes. Then we heard the car chugging on the road
and two men got out and came toward the hut and sort of--sort of walked
around for about ten minutes and then went off again."

"Walked around? What were they walking around for?"

"I don't know, sir, but--"

"We think," interrupted Clint, "that they were the men who robbed the
jewelry store and that they were burying the things they had stolen."

"You do, eh? Who told you any jewelry store had been robbed?"

"We heard some men talking about it at the restaurant where we had
breakfast."

"Where was that?"

"About five blocks that way," said Clint.

"Cannister was the name on the door," explained Amy.

"If you thought the men in the automobile were burying something why
didn't you find out what it was after they had gone?"

"We didn't think that until we got here and heard about the burglary. We
didn't know what they were doing. It was dark and we had no matches.
After they had gone we did sort of feel around there to see if we could
find anything, but we couldn't."

"What time was it?"

"I suppose it was about four o'clock. We couldn't see our watches."

The Chief held a hand across the desk. "Let me see yours," he said.

"See what, sir?" asked Clint.

"Your watch." Clint took it off and laid it in the Chief's hand. It was
a plain and inexpensive gold watch and was quite evidently far from new.
The Chief examined it, opened the back and read the number, and referred
to a slip of paper beside him. Then he asked for Amy's and smiled as Amy
passed him his nickel timepiece.

"All right," he said, returning them. "What did those two men look
like?"

"We couldn't see, sir," replied Amy. "They just had an electric torch
and they lighted it only twice. We could just see two pairs of legs and
that was all. And a stick."

"A stick?"

"I think it was a shovel," said Clint.

"Were the lights on the car lighted all this time?"

"No, sir, they put them out."

"Could you see the car enough to say whether it was a big one or a
little one?"

"No, sir," said Clint, "but I have an idea it was sort of small. The
engine sounded like it."

"Suppose you give me your names." They did so and the Chief took off the
telephone receiver again. "Hello! Get me Brimfield Academy at
Brimfield. This is Chief Carey. I want to talk with the president--"

"Principal, sir," whispered Amy.

"With the principal." A minute or two passed in silence. Then: "Hello,"
said the Chief. "Is this Brimfield Academy? Well, who am I talking to,
please? Mr. Ferner? Fernald?" He looked questioningly at Clint and Clint
nodded his head. "Well, this is the Chief of Police at Wharton. Have you
got two boys at your school named Clinton Thayer and Amory Byrd, Mr.
Fernald? Have, eh? Are they there now?... I see. Well, I guess I've got
them here.... No, no, nothing like that. There's been a robbery here and
the boys seem to think they have a clue to it. I wanted to find out if
they were all right. Yes, they're right here. Certainly, sir."

The Chief held out the telephone and Clint took it.

"Mr. Fernald? This is Thayer, sir. We're awfully sorry, sir, but we got
lost last night and had to sleep in a hut near here and we've only just
got here a little while ago. We are coming right back, sir."

"How did you happen to get lost?" asked the principal's voice.

Clint explained as best he could.

"Byrd is there with you?"

"Yes, sir. Do you want to speak to him?"

"No. Get back here as soon as you can and come and see me at once. I
want this explained a little better, Thayer. That's all. You're
not--um--you're not in trouble with the police?"

"No, sir."

"All right. Get back on the first train."

Clint sighed with relief as he returned the telephone to the desk.

"Was he very waxy?" asked Amy anxiously.

"Not very, I reckon," Clint replied. "He wants us to beat it back and
see him at once."

"I can scarcely restrain my eagerness," murmured Amy.

"What train were you thinking of taking?" asked the Chief, drawing the
telephone toward him again.

"They said there was one at nine-forty-six," replied Clint, "but
this--this officer says it doesn't stop at Brimfield."

"We'll soon find out, boys." The Chief consulted a time-table and
nodded. "Brimfield at ten-fifteen." He looked at the big clock on the
wall. "Seven-forty-five," he muttered. "I guess we can make it." He put
the receiver to his ear once more. "Operator? Wharton, 137-M, please.
Hello! That you, Gus? This is Dave Carey. Say, Gus, I want an auto to
hold five of us besides your driver. What say? Yes, right away. Well,
hunt him up. Get here by eight sure. At the station, yes. All right."
The Chief returned the receiver and leaned back. "I guess," he said,
"you boys had better show us where that place is and we'll have a look
at it. It doesn't seem probable to me that the crooks would hide that
stuff in a hole, but they might have. If it was getting late they might
have been afraid they'd get held up and searched before they got clear.
Anyway, we'll have a look."

"Is there any reward for it?" asked Amy.

"Not that I know of," laughed the Chief. "I guess there's a reward for
the capture of the fellows who did it. If you can show us where they are
you might make a couple of hundred dollars, son. The Jewellers'
Protective Association would be glad to square you."

"I'm afraid I don't get that," mourned Amy. "How much is the stuff worth
that they swiped?"

"Oh, seven or eight hundred, I guess. Wiggin didn't seem to know just
what had been taken. Here's a list of some of it, though. Seven watches,
eleven seals and a lot of pins and brooches and studs. They missed the
unset stones, the thieves did. Bill, you dig up a couple of spades
somewhere and bring around here by eight."

The policeman disappeared and the boys seated themselves to wait.



CHAPTER X

BURIED TREASURE

Some twenty minutes later they were headed in a big seven-seating
automobile toward the scene of the boys' early morning adventure. On the
front seat with the chauffeur sat Chief Carey and in the tonneau were
Clint and Amy and two policemen, one of them the officer who had taken
them to the station. At their feet were two brand-new spades.

It was a fine, clear morning and promised to be quite warm by noon. But
Clint and Amy snuggled down into the seat and presented as small a
portion of their anatomies as was possible to the fresh morning breeze
that rushed by them. They passed the first sign-post and the second and
the first farm they had seen, but after that the road was quite
unfamiliar since they had travelled over it in the dark. The car whisked
along at an even thirty-mile speed until, shortly after the farm-house
was passed, Clint suggested that as neither he nor Amy were certain as
to the location of the hut the car proceed more slowly. After that a
careful look-out was kept. No one in the car could recall a hut of any
sort along the road, and, when they had travelled at least eight miles
from Wharton without finding it, Chief Carey showed signs of impatience.
The car was stopped and a consultation was held. The boys reiterated
their statement that the hut, to the best of their knowledge, was
between four and six miles from Wharton. Finally it was decided that
they should turn around and go back slowly in order that the boys could
identify the spot where the automobile had met its mishap the afternoon
before. Clint was not at all certain that he would know the place when
he saw it again, but Amy stoutly asserted that he would recognise it at
once. And he did.

There, finally, was the quick turn in the road and beyond, still plainly
visible, the tracks of the auto in the looser soil and turf of the bank
and meadow.

"There's the tree we ran into," pointed out Amy, "and there's the field
we went across. Now let's see. We found a stream there; you can see it,
can't you? Then we followed along this side of it and up that sort
of hill--"

But beyond that he couldn't trace their wanderings. Woods and pastures
ran into each other confusingly. One thing was explained, however, or,
rather, two things; why they didn't find the trolley line and why they
didn't succeed in reaching the road again. The trolley line, the
chauffeur explained, was more than a mile distant, and the road ahead of
them turned widely to the left just beyond. They had, consequently,
roamed over a stretch of country at least two miles broad between dirt
road and railroad. When they went on, which they did very slowly, all
hands peered intently along the right side of the highway. They had
proceeded possibly three-quarters of a mile when one of the officers
called out and the car stopped.

"I think I saw it," he said. "Anyway, there's something there. Back up a
little, Tom." The chauffeur obeyed and the quest was at an end. There
was the hut, but so hidden by young oak trees with russet leaves still
hanging that only from one point was it noticeable. Out they all piled.

"Now," said the Chief, "you boys get in there and stand just where you
did last night and then come out and indicate about where those fellows
dug--if they did dig."

Clint and Amy obeyed and the others followed slowly across the
intervening space. The hut stood further from the road than it had
seemed to in the night. A good thirty yards separated the two, and the
yellowing turf of long meadow grass was interspersed here and there with
clumps of goldenrod and asters and wild shrubs and with small
second-growth trees. At the side of the doorway was the tree which they
had collided with, a twenty-foot white birch. The hut was even more
dilapidated than they had supposed. It looked as if a good wind would
send its twisted, sun-split grey boards into a heap. Inside, however,
with the sunlight streaming through doorway, window and cracks, it
looked more inviting than it had at night. Weeds were growing between
the rotting boards and in one corner a hornets' nest as big as their
heads hung from a sagging rafter.

"Gee," muttered Amy, "I'm glad we didn't accidentally disturb that,
Clint!"

In the doorway they stood and tried to re-enact the happenings of the
night. It wasn't easy to decide on the spot where the men had stood,
however, but finally they agreed as to its probable location and walked
toward the road, keeping a little to the left, for some fifteen yards.
That brought them close to a six-foot bush which, they decided, was the
one Clint had walked into. The Chief and the others joined them.

"About here, you think?" asked the Chief.

"Yes, sir, as near as we can tell," replied Clint, none too confidently.
They viewed the place carefully, but, save that the grass seemed a
trifle more trampled than elsewhere, there was nothing to indicate that
the soil had been disturbed. Nothing, at least, until one of the
officers picked up a torn and twisted oak-seedling some sixteen inches
long which lay a few feet away. It's brown roots were broken as if it
had been pulled up by force and tossed aside. The Chief nodded and went
minutely over the turf for a space several yards in extent, finally
giving a grunt of satisfaction.

"Here you are," he said, straightening his body and pointing the toe of
one broad shoe at the ground. "They lifted the turf off and put it back
again. A pretty good job to do in the dark, I say. Bring your
shovels, men."

It was easy enough to see the spot now that the Chief had found it. The
turf had been cut through with a shovel or spade and rolled or lifted
back. Close looking showed the incision and there still remained some
loose soil about the roots of the grass at one side, although the men
had evidently striven carefully to hide all traces of their undertaking.
In a moment the turf was once more up and the spades were plunging into
the loosened soil beneath. Clint and Amy watched excitedly. Presently
one of the officers stopped digging, since there was now only room for
one spade in the excavation. Once there was an expectant pause while the
digger reached in with his hands and grubbed in the moist red gravel.
But it was only a stone he pulled out.

The hole was down almost two feet now and the Chief was beginning to
frown anxiously. "They made a good job of it," he growled. "I guess--"

But he forgot to say what he guessed, for just at that moment there was
an exclamation from the officer who was wielding the spade and all bent
forward as he dropped his implement and reached down into the hole. When
he straightened up again he brought a small bundle wrapped in a piece of
black rubber sheeting. The Chief seized it and unwrapped the sheeting,
laying bare a small pasteboard box tied with a piece of pink string.
With the string undone and the lid off one glance was enough to show
that they had found the stolen jewelry.

"That's the stuff, all right," said the Chief with satisfaction. "And I
guess it's all here, from the looks. You'd better dig down and make
sure, though."

The officer obeyed, while the others crowded around the Chief. The
stolen things had been tossed carelessly into the box, a few still
wrapped in squares of tissue paper but the most rattling together
indiscriminately. There were watches and scarfpins and brooches and
studs and watch charms and several bracelets and one platinum and gold
chain. The robbers had selected carefully, for every article was
valuable, although it still seemed possible that the Chief's estimate of
seven hundred dollars was generous enough.

"They'll be some surprised if they ever come back for it, won't they?"
asked the chauffeur with a chuckle. "Say, Chief, why don't you set a man
to watch for 'em?"

"I would if I knew when they were coming," replied the official drily.
"But they may not come back here for a month. Maybe they won't then.
They won't if we can get our hands on them," he added grimly.

The officer who had been probing the hole further reported nothing more
there, and, well satisfied, they returned to the car.

"I'll check this up when we get back to the station," said the Chief,
tossing the box carelessly to the seat. "Black and Wiggin are mighty
lucky to get it back. They wouldn't have if it hadn't been for these
chaps. Say, boys, you tell Wiggin he ought to give you something for
this. You certainly deserve it." And the officers agreed.

"Oh, if there isn't any reward offered," said Amy, "we don't want
anything."

"Well, he ought to be willing to give you something. How much time is
there before that train goes? Most an hour? That's all right then. We'll
go back to the station and I'll 'phone Wiggin to come around."

The return trip was made in quick time and almost before they knew it
the boys were back in the Chief's office at the station house. The Chief
wouldn't consent to their leaving until Mr. Wiggin had arrived, although
they both declared that the jeweller didn't owe them anything and that
they mustn't on any account lose their train.

"You won't," replied the Chief. "You can walk to the station in three
minutes and you've still got forty. Sit down there while I check this
stuff up."

They obeyed and looked on while he dumped the things from the box to the
top of the desk and pulled his memorandum toward him. One by one he
pushed the articles aside and checked the list with a pencil. Finally he
chuckled. "Wiggin didn't know much more'n half the stuff he lost," he
said. "There's nine watches here instead of seven and a lot more other
things than he's got down here on his list. Here he is now, I guess."

Mr. Wiggin was a bewhiskered, nervous-mannered little man and he hurried
into the Chief's office as though he had run all the way from his
house or store.

"Well, well, Chief!" he exclaimed breathlessly. "So you've found it, eh?
I want to know! I want to know! Got the thieves too, eh?" He scowled
darkly at Clint and Amy, and Amy was heard to assert under his breath
that he hoped Mr. Wiggin would choke. The Chief laughed.

"No, we haven't got the thieves, Mr. Wiggin. These boys gave us the clue
that led to the stuff. Shake hands, boys, with Mr. Wiggin. That's Byrd
and that's Thayer. They're Brimfield Academy fellows, Mr. Wiggin, and
they happened to see the thieves burying the things about five miles out
of town toward Thacher." Whereupon the Chief told the story to the
jeweller and the latter, recovering from his embarrassment, insisted on
shaking hands again.

"I want to know!" he ejaculated, beaming at them like a pleased sparrow.
"I want to know! Smart lads, eh, Chief? Now--now--" He hesitated, his
eyes darting from Clint to Amy and from Amy to the Chief. Then he
cleared his throat nervously, slapped his hands together gently and
continued. "There--hem--there was no reward offered, boys, but--"

"That's all right," replied Amy briskly. "We don't want anything, Mr.
Wiggin."

"No, no, of course not, of course not! Only--hem--I was thinking
that--possibly, say, fifty dollars between you, or--"

"No, thanks," interrupted Clint. "We're glad we were able to help you
recover the things, sir. And now I reckon we'll have to be getting to
the station."

But Mr. Wiggin was the sort who becomes more insistent against
opposition. Really, the boys must take something! Really they must! He
appealed to Chief Carey, and the Chief agreed. "Now--now--" continued
the jeweller, "say a watch apiece, if they didn't like to take money.
Just a gold watch. Here were two nice ones!"

In the end his insistence won, the boys becoming at last too embarrassed
and too fearful of losing their train to refuse longer. A handsome gold
watch, not much thicker than a book-cover, was attached to Amy's chain,
while Clint, having a perfectly good watch already, was invited to
select something else from the array on the desk and finally allowed
himself to become possessed of a diamond and ruby scarfpin which was
much the finest thing he had ever owned. And then, with ten minutes to
reach the station in, they shook hands with the jeweller and Chief Carey
and relievedly hurried out, the Chief's hearty invitation to come and
see him again pursuing them into the corridor.

A very few minutes afterwards they were seated in the train and speeding
toward Brimfield.

"And now," said Amy brightly, "all we've got to do is to give our little
song and dance to Josh!"



CHAPTER XI

BRIMFIELD MEETS DEFEAT

The interview with Mr. Fernald was not, however, the ordeal they had
feared. The principal pointed out to them that they should have returned
from Thacher to Wharton by trolley with the other students, and not
experimented with a strange automobile. When the boys had shown proper
contrition for that fault Mr. Fernald allowed a note of curiosity to
appear in his voice.

"Now," he said, "about this burglary, Byrd. What--a--what was all that?"

So Amy narrated in detail and they exhibited their presents and the
principal was frankly interested. He smiled when he returned Clint's
scarfpin. "You young gentlemen had quite an adventure, and I consider
that you behaved very--ah--circumspectly. I congratulate you on your
rewards. If I remember rightly, Byrd, you lost a watch last Winter."

"Yes, sir, I left it at the rink."

"This is much too fine a one to lose. See if you can't hold on to it.
You may be excused from church attendance this morning. If you'll take
my advice you'll clean up and then get some sleep. As near as I can see
you didn't have much last night."

"Thank you, sir," said Amy. "I'm sorry we--got lost, Mr. Fernald."

"Are you, Byrd?" There was a twinkle in the principal's eye. "You know
if you hadn't got lost you wouldn't have a nice new watch!"

They were challenged several times before they reached their room by
boys who wanted to know where they had been and what had happened to
them, but both were too sleepy and tired to do the subject justice and
so they observed a mysterious reticence and resisted all pleas. They
bathed, Amy nearly falling asleep in the tub, and then stretched
themselves out gratefully on their beds. That was the last either knew
until, almost two hours later, Penny Durkin began an ambitious attempt
on Handel's largo in the next room. They managed to get to dining hall
without being penalised for tardiness and ate like wood-choppers.

That evening they went over to Hensey and called on Jack Innes and Amy
told the story of their adventures to a roomful of fellows who utterly
refused to believe a word of it until Clint had subscribed to the main
facts and the watch and scarfpin had been passed around. You could
scarcely have blamed them for their incredulity, either, for the story
as Amy told it was wonderfully and fearfully embroidered. It was a good
story, though, a mighty good story. Amy acknowledged that himself!

"It's a wonder," jeered Tracey Black, "you didn't stay over at Wharton
and help your friend the Chief capture the robbers!"

"He wanted us to," replied Amy gravely, "but of course we couldn't. We
gave him some good advice, though, and told him he could call us up by
'phone if he got stuck."

"Gee, I'll bet that was a big relief to him," said Steve Edwards. "I
feel sort of sorry for those burglars, fellows. They haven't a ghost of
a show now."

Amy smiled tolerantly.

After that the conversation got around to the absorbing subject of
football and stayed there until the gathering broke up. There was some
discussion of yesterday's contest, but more of the next Saturday's game
with Morgan's School. Morgan's was a new opponent on Brimfield's
schedule and not a great deal was known about its prowess. Black
thought, or pretended to think, that the Maroon-and-Grey was in for a
beating, but couldn't give any very convincing reasons.

"Oh, piffle," grunted Still, "who ever heard of Morgan's School until
you put it on the schedule, Tracey?"

"I didn't put it on. Lawrence did, naturally. And it's silly to say that
no one ever heard of Morgan's. Just because it isn't near New York you
think it can't possibly be any good!"

"Where is it, anyway?" inquired Tom Hall.

"Manningsville, Delaware," replied the manager. "It's a whopping big
school, with about three hundred fellows, and last year they licked
about everyone they met up with."

"Time, then, they came up here and saw a real team," said Marvin. "Bet
you we score twice as much as they do, Tracey."

"Bet you we don't! Bet you the sodas for the crowd!"

"Got you," answered Marvin, pulling Still's pillow further under his
head where he lay sprawled on the bed. "Get your mouths fixed, fellows.
Mr. Black's treat!"

"What do you think, Jack?" asked Edwards.

"Shucks, I don't know anything about it. And I don't see that it
matters. If we beat them, all right; if they beat us, all right. The
main thing is to play the best we know how and get as much fun and
profit as we can out of the game. I don't care a brass tack about any of
the games except Claflin and Chambers. I would like to beat Chambers,
after the way they mussed us up last year. By the way, fellows, I got
word from Detweiler this morning and he says he will come about the
first of November and put in a week or so on the tackles and ends.
That's bully news, isn't it?"

Several agreed enthusiastically that it was, but Gilbert, a second team
substitute, who was a protégé of Marvin's, asked apologetically who
Detweiler was.

"Joe Detweiler was all-America tackle on the Princeton team last year,"
responded Captain Innes, "and the year before that, too. He was captain
here five years ago."

"Oh, _that_ Detweiler!" said Gilbert. "I didn't know!"

"Your ignorance pains me sorely, Gilbert," said Amy. "You could be
excused for not recalling the name of the President, for not knowing
whether Thomas Edison or J.P. Morgan built the first steamboat or
whether Admiral Dewey was a hero or a condition of the weather, but,
Gilbert, not to know Detweiler proves you hopeless. I'm sorry to say
it, but your mind is evidently of no account whatever. Detweiler, you
poor benighted nut, is a Greek of the Grecians! He has a chest
measurement of ninety-eight inches under-all! His biceps are made of
Harveyised steel and his forceps--"

"For the love of Mike, Amy, shut up!" begged Marvin.

"Oh? very well! If you want the poor idiot to go through life with no
knowledge of the important--er--"

"We do!" agreed Innes.

"Of course I know who Detweiler is," said Gilbert, a trifle indignantly.
"But there might be more than one, mightn't there? How did I know--"

"More than one Detweiler!" exclaimed Amy horrifiedly. "Is there more
than one Washington? More than one Napoleon? More than one Huxley? More
than one Thackeray? More than one--one Byrd?"

"You bet there are!" asserted Black. "There are jays and parrots!"

"Amy, you're a crazy nut," laughed Innes.

"A nut I may be," replied Amy with dignity, "but I have raisins."

There was an excruciating howl of agony and Amy was violently set upon,
deposited on the nearer bed and pummelled until he begged for mercy.
When quiet was restored Edwards asked: "Is 'Boots' coming back this
year, Jack?"

"Yes, he'll be here in a day or two, I think. Robey had a letter from
him last week."

"Thought someone said he wasn't coming back," observed Still.

"He said in the Spring he didn't think he could," explained Jack, "but
you couldn't keep him away if you tried, I guess. You second team
fellows will know what hustling means when he takes hold of
you, Thayer."

Clint smiled and looked politely interested, but the subject was not
continued, for at that moment, Amy, who had been craftily biding his
time, reached out and pulled Still's chair over, and in the ensuing
confusion the gathering broke up. On the way along the Row, Clint asked
Amy about the mysterious "Boots."

"His name is Boutelle," explained Amy. "We call him 'Boots' for short; a
sort of a _last_ name." Amy chuckled gleefully.

"What's the joke?" asked Clint.

"Didn't you get it? _Last_ name; see? 'Boots'--last!"

"Oh!"

"Thank you! I was afraid I'd have to explain it for you in a
_foot_-note."

"What's he do? Coach the second?"

"He do. And he's a mighty nice chap, 'Boots' is. The fellows were quite
crazy about him last year. He did good work, too. Turned out a second
that was some team, believe me! Maybe if 'Boots' gets hold of you,
Clint, you may amount to something. I've done what I could for you, but
I think you've got where you need a firmer hand."

"You're getting where you need a firm foot," laughed Clint. "And I'm the
one to apply it!"

"Tut, tut!" murmured the other. "Never start anything, Clint, you can't
finish. Right wheel, march! Oh, dear, Penny is at it again! And I had
hoped for a quiet evening!"

The middle of the week Mr. Boutelle arrived and the second team got down
to business. The training-table was started, and including Coach
Boutelle was made up of sixteen members. "Boots" presided at the head
and Captain Turner at the foot, and Clint was sandwiched in between
Kingston, who played guard, and Don Gilbert, a substitute guard. The
team had its own signals now and practised on its own gridiron each
afternoon until it was time to scrimmage with the 'varsity. Clint was
first choice right tackle, with Robbins close behind and hard after him.
Being at training-table was lots of fun, although Clint regretted
leaving Amy. The latter's dire forebodings regarding the food at the
second's table proved unjustified. They had plenty to eat and of the
sort that was best for them. Steaks and chops and roasts formed the meat
diet, eggs appeared at breakfast and supper, there was all the milk they
could drink, and fresh vegetables and light desserts completed the
menus. "Boots" was rather strict in the matter of diet and fresh bread
agitated him as a red flag agitates a bull. Clint thought he had never
seen so much toast in his life as appeared on and disappeared from the
second team's table that Fall. Another thing that "Boots" would not
tolerate was water with meals. It was, he declared, ruinous to the
digestion. "All the milk you want, but no water" was "Boots'" rule, and
in consequence the four big white pitchers that stood in a row down the
middle of the board had to be refilled at every meal. The boys at the
training-tables paid a dollar a week extra for board, but Clint still
felt that he was cheating someone and feared it was the cow!

"Boots" worked them hard, but his own enthusiasm was so contagious that
he soon had them as eager as he was, and the afternoon when they kept
the 'varsity from scoring during two twelve-minute periods was a
red-letter day, and supper that evening was almost like a banquet.
Fortunately the 'varsity table and the second team table were separated
by the width of the hall. Otherwise the 'varsity fellows might have
taken exception to some of the remarks that passed between the elated
second team members.

That scoreless tie did not take place just yet, however. Just now the
second was only finding itself and the 'varsity romped through or around
it almost at will. The final scrimmage before the Morgan's School
contest was on Friday and the Varsity had no trouble scoring twice in
twenty minutes of actual playing time. But even then the second was
beginning to show possibilities and the first team fellows were forced
to work hard for the two touchdowns they secured. Coach Robey was
unusually grim that afternoon and so many changes were made in the
line-up of the 'varsity that Assistant Manager Morton's brain reeled as
he tried to keep track of the players. It was suspected that the head
coach was far from satisfied with the first-string backs and it was
predicted on the stand that afternoon that before the season was much
older there would be considerable of a shake-up in their ranks. Freer
was looked on as having a good chance to displace Kendall, and St.
Clair, who although he had been playing but one year was developing
rapidly into a clever half, had many partisans who considered him the
equal of the veteran Still.

On Saturday "Boots" put the second through an hour's scrimmage and
consequently the Varsity game with Morgan's School was nearly half over
when Clint and the others pulled on sweaters and blankets and hustled
across to the nearby gridiron and settled to watch. Morgan's presented a
very husky lot of chaps, long-legged, narrow-hipped fellows who appeared
to be trained to the minute.

"They look," confided Clint to Don Gilbert, "as if they were all the
same height and size and style. They must buy 'em by the dozen."

Gilbert chuckled. "'Buy them' is good," he said. "They say half of them
don't pay a cent of tuition. Same way with their baseball fellows. I
know a chap who goes to Prentiss Hall, and Prentiss and Morgan's are
rivals, you know. He says half the fellows who play football and
baseball and things at Morgan's don't have to pay a cent."

"Maybe he's prejudiced," laughed Clint. "You hear a lot of that sort of
stuff, Gilbert, and it's always about the other fellow!"

"Well, that's what Dave Larned says, anyway. Say, they _are_ fast
though, aren't they!" ejaculated Gilbert.

They certainly were, as Brimfield was discovering to her cost. With the
second quarter almost over and no score by either side, the
orange-and-blue-stockinged visitors were behaving very much as if they
meant to put a touchdown over. Morgan's had secured the ball by fair
catch on her own thirty-eight yards after a poor attempt at a punt by
Harris, and now she was turning Brimfield's right flank nicely. Trow,
tackle on that side, was boxed twice in succession; Roberts, right end,
was bowled over and two rushes gained first down on the twenty-five-yard
line. Coach Robey sped Holt in for Roberts and Holt managed to upset the
next play for a yard gain. Then Morgan's swung her attack against left
guard and Churchill was caught napping and the whole backfield swept
over him for four yards. A fake-kick, with the ball going to a rangey
Morgan's full-back, proved good for the rest of the distance; Edwards
missing a tackle that would have spoiled the attempt far back of the
line. The only thing that saved Brimfield from being scored on then and
there was the decision of the Orange-and-Blue's quarter-back to pass up
a field-goal in favour of a touchdown. From the thirteen yards a
goal-from-field was more than a possibility, but the quarter was
ambitious and wanted six points instead of three, and so plugged the
ball across the field to a waiting end on a forward pass. Fortunately
for the defenders of the west goal Edwards dived into the catcher at the
last moment and the ball grounded. And then, before another play could
be pulled off, the whistle blew.

When the third period began the head coach had made many substitutions.
Blaisdell had taken Churchill's place at left guard, Gafferty had gone
in for Hall in the other guard position, Freer was at right half instead
of Kendall and Rollins had ousted Harris at full-back. Whatever may have
been said to the Brimfield warriors during that fifteen minutes'
breathing space, it brought results. Marvin speeded the team up and the
men no longer allowed their opponents to get the jump on them each time.
In the first five minutes Brimfield was twice penalised for off-side
play. Marvin got away for a thrilling run along the side line soon after
Morgan's kicked off, and placed the pigskin on the enemy's thirty-four
yards after a gain of over forty. Then Rollins, who was a
heavily-built, hard-plugging chap, smashed the line on the right and,
keeping his feet cleverly, bored through for six. A forward failed and,
on third down, Freer punted to the Morgan's twelve yards and both
Edwards and Holt reached the catcher before he could start. A whirlwind
double-pass back of the line sent a half around Edwards' end and gained
three, and was followed by a skin-tackle play that secured three more
past Trow. But Morgan's had to punt then, and a fine kick followed and
was caught by Still on his forty-five. With good interference he secured
five before he was thrown. Brimfield, still working fast, reached the
opponent's thirty-five before a punt was again necessary. This time
Innes passed low and Freer kicked into the mêlée and the pigskin danced
and bobbed around for many doubtful moments before Marvin snuggled it
under him on the Morgan's forty-three yards. From there a forward went
to Still and gained seven, and, playing desperately, the Brimfield backs
ploughed through for two firsts and placed the ball on the twenty-yard
line. One attempt at the left side lost ground and a delayed pass
followed by a plunge at centre secured but three yards. Rollins then
dropped back to the twenty-five and, with the stand very quiet, dropped
the ball over for three points and the first score of the game.

Brimfield applauded relievedly and Morgan's kicked off again. But the
period ended a minute later and the teams changed goals. Morgan's put in
three substitutes, one, a short, stocky guard, leading Clint to remark
that the Orange-and-Blue's supply of regular goods had given out. But
that new guard played real football and braced up his side of the line
so that Brimfield soon left it respectfully alone and applied its
efforts to the other. Injuries began to occur soon after the final ten
minutes commenced and two Morgan's and two Brimfield players retired to
the side lines. Brimfield lost Captain Innes and Trow. Innes' injury was
slight, but Trow got a blow on the back of his head that prevented him
from realising what was going on for several minutes.

Morgan's came back hard in that last quarter and soon had the
Maroon-and-Grey on the defensive. A fumbled punt by Carmine, who had
taken Marvin's place a minute before, was secured by a Morgan's end and
the aspect of the game changed very suddenly. The Orange-and-Blue was
now in possession of the ball on Brimfield's twenty-six yards, and it
was first down. Coach Robey rushed Hall and Churchill back to the
line-up, evidently well weighted down with instructions, and, after a
conference with clustered heads, Brimfield faced the enemy again.
Morgan's adopted old-style football with a vengeance and hurled her
backs at the line between tackles. Twice she was stopped, but on a third
attempt Brimfield broke squarely in two where Thursby was substituting
Captain Innes and half the visiting team piled through. First down was
secured on another attack at the same place and the ball was on the
defender's sixteen yards. Two yards more came past right tackle and two
through centre--Morgan's had discovered the weakness of Thursby's
defence--and the ten-yard line was almost underfoot. A conference
ensued. Evidently some of the enemy were favouring a field-goal, but the
quarter still held out for all the law would allow and a line-shift was
followed by a quick toss of the ball to one side of the field. Luckily
for the home team, however, it was Steve Edwards' side that was chosen,
and Edwards, while he was not quick enough to prevent the catch, stopped
the runner for a yard gain. It was third down then, with the ball out of
position for a field-goal and ten yards to a touchdown and the Brimfield
supporters, urging their team to "Hold 'em!" breathed easier.

"Fourth down! Five to go!" announced the referee.

"Stop 'em!" panted Marvin.

Then the Morgan's drop-kicker moved back to the twenty-yard line and
well to the left of centre, and centre stood sidewise as though to make
an oblique pass. It hardly seemed possible that Morgan's would attempt a
goal from such an angle, but still there was but one down left and the
Brimfield line, though it had yielded short gains, was not likely to
give way to the enemy for the five yards necessary for a first down.
Captain Innes watched the Orange-and-Blue formation doubtfully, striving
to guess what was to develop. In the end he scented a fake-kick and
warned his line.

"Fake!" he shouted. "Fake! Watch that ball! Get that end, Steve! Hold
'em, hold 'em, Brimfield!"

And Brimfield held them. At least, Brimfield held all but one of them.
It was unfortunate that that one should have been the one who had the
ball! Just what really happened was a matter of discussion for many
days. It occurred so suddenly, with such an intricate mingling of backs
and forwards, that Brimfield was unable then or later to fathom the
play. Even from the side line, where Coach Robey and a dozen or more
substitutes looked on intently, that play was puzzling. All that seemed
clear then or afterwards was that the ball did actually go to the
drop-kicker, that that youth swung his leg in the approved fashion, that
one of the backs--some said the quarter, while others said one of the
halves--ran back and took the pigskin at a hand-pass, and that
subsequently a tackle who had played on the end of the line was seen
tearing across the goal line well toward the other side of the field.
There had undoubtedly been a lateral pass, perhaps two, but the Morgan's
players had so surrounded the play that the whole thing was as
unfathomable as it was mysterious and as mysterious as it was
unexpected. The one fact that stood out very, very clearly was that the
enemy had scored a touchdown. And, although she afterwards failed to
kick the goal, she had accomplished enough to humble Brimfield. In the
two minutes remaining the home team played desperately, trying its
hardest to secure the ball and get away for a run. But the visitors
refused to yield possession and the whistle sounded a defeat for the
Maroon-and-Grey.

"I think," said Manager Black to Quarter-back Marvin as they met at the
entrance to the gymnasium, "I'll take a walnut sundae."

What Quarter-back Marvin replied to Manager Black was both impolite and
forceful.



CHAPTER XII

PENNY LOSES HIS TEMPER

What annoyed Brimfield Academy most about that beating was the fact that
Morgan's School was a stranger. Being defeated in early season was
nothing to be sore about; it happened every year, sometimes several
times; and the score of 6 to 3 was far from humiliating; but to be
defeated by a team that no one had ever heard about was horribly
annoying. Of course Tracey Black insisted to all who would listen that
Morgan's, instead of being unknown to fame, was in reality a strong team
with a fine record behind it and an enviable reputation in its own part
of the world. But Tracey didn't convince anyone, I think, and the school
continued to be disgruntled for the better part of a week, or possibly
until the Varsity went away the following Saturday and won a clean-cut
victory from Benton Military Academy. Last year the two schools had
played a no-score tie game and consequently the Maroon-and-Grey's
victory this year was more appreciated.

Meanwhile Marvin had settled his wager at the village soda fountain and
had listened with commendable patience to Tracey's "I-told-you-so"
remarks. All that Marvin said was, when Tracey had rubbed it in
sufficiently: "There's just one thing you want to do, Tracey, and that
is get a date with those guys for next year. I won't be here, but it'll
do me a whole lot of good to hear that we have rammed that old touchdown
down their throats with one or two more for good measure."

"Say, you're not sore or anything, are you?" laughed Tracey.

"Never you mind. I can take a licking as well as the next chap, but when
a team works a sleight-of-hand gag on you, that's something
different yet!"

"I'll bet anything!" said Steve Edwards, "that they had two balls that
day! If they didn't, I'm blessed if I can see how they got that one
across the field there."

"Maybe that chap who made the touchdown had a string tied to it,"
suggested Still. "That wouldn't be a bad scheme, eh?"

"I don't know how they did it," said Marvin soberly, setting down his
empty glass with a last fond look, "but if you take my advice, Tracey,
you'll have it understood next year that there's to be no miracles!"

Clint regretted that defeat, but it didn't affect his spirits any. As a
matter of fact, Clint had reached a state of second team patriotism that
precluded his being heart-broken about anything save a humiliating
beating of the second. And most of the other members of Mr. Boutelle's
constituency felt the same way. It was regrettable to have the school
team worsted, but the main thing in life was the glory of the second. If
Coach Robey had suggested that Clint should throw in his lot with the
'varsity just then Clint might have felt flattered but he would probably
have gently and firmly declined the promotion. "Boots," in short, had in
a bare fortnight endowed his charges with an enthusiasm and _esprit de
corps_ that was truly remarkable. "Anyone would think," said Amy one day
when Clint had been singing the praises of the second team, "that you
dubs were the only football players in school. Ever hear of the 'varsity
team, Clint? Of course I may be mistaken, but I've been given to
understand that they have one or two fairly good men on the 'varsity."

Clint grinned. "That's what _they_ tell you, Amy!"

"Well, of all the swank!" exclaimed the other incredulously.

"What's that?"

"Side, swell-headedness, dog, intolerable conceit--er--"

"That'll do. You talk like a dictionary of synonyms."

"You talk like a blooming idiot! Why, don't you know that the second
team is nothing on earth but the 'goat' for the 'varsity?"

"Yes, and the 'goat' butts pretty hard sometimes," chuckled Clint.

Amy threw up his hands in despair. "You fellows are so stuck on
yourselves," he said finally, "that I suppose you'll be expecting Robey
to discharge the 'varsity and let you play against Claflin!"

"He might do worse, I dare say," returned Clint carelessly.

"Might do--Here, I can't stand this! I'm going out! Where's my cap?" And
Amy fled.

Clint didn't see a great deal of Amy those days except during study
hour, for Amy was busy with the Fall Tennis Tournament. Besides playing
in it he was managing it, and managing it entailed much visiting in the
evenings, for the tournament insisted on getting horribly mixed up every
afternoon owing to the failure of fellows to play when they were
supposed to, and it was one of Amy's duties to hunt up the offenders and
threaten them with all sorts of awful fates if they didn't arise at some
unseemly hour the next morning and play off the postponed match before
Chapel. Clint went over to the courts one afternoon before practice in
the hope of seeing his room-mate perform. But Amy was dashing around
with a score-sheet in hand and the matches in progress were
not exciting.

"Who's going to win?" asked Clint when Amy had subsided long enough to
be spoken to. "Or, rather, who's going to get second place?"

"Second place? Why second place?" asked Amy suspiciously.

"Just wondered. Of course, as you're running the thing you'll naturally
get first place, Amy. I was curious to know who you'd decided on for
second man."

Amy laughed. "Well, it will probably be Holt, if he can spare enough
time from football practice to play. He's had a match with Lewis on for
two days now. They've each won a set and Holt can't play in the
afternoon and Lewis refuses to get up early enough in the morning. And
there you are!"

"Why don't you award the match to yourself by default?" inquired Clint
innocently.

"To myself? How the dickens--Oh, get out of here!"

Clint got out and as he made his way across to the second team gridiron
he heard Amy's impassioned voice behind him.

"Say, Grindell, where under the Stars and Stripes have you been? Lee has
been waiting here for you ever since two o'clock! You fellows certainly
give me a pain! Now, look here--"

Clint chuckled. "Funny," he reflected, "to get so excited about a tennis
tournament. Now, if it was football--"

Clint shook his head over the vagaries of his friend and very soon
forgot them in the task of trying to keep the troublesome Robbins where
he belonged, which, in Clint's judgment, was among the second team
substitutes. That was a glorious afternoon for the second team, for they
held the 'varsity scoreless in the first period and allowed them only
the scant consolation of a field-goal in the second. "Boutelle's
Babies," as some waggish first team man had labelled them, went off in
high feather and fancied themselves more than ever.

Clint smiled at himself all the way to his room afterwards. He had
played good football and had thrice won praise from "Boots" that
afternoon. Even Jack Innes had gone out of his way to say a good word.
He had clearly outplayed Saunders, the 'varsity left tackle, on attack
and had held his own against the opposing end on defence. More than
that, he had once nailed the redoubtable Kendall well behind the line,
receiving an extremely hard look from the half-back, and had on two
occasions got down the field under the punt in time to tackle the
catcher. Yes, Clint was very well satisfied with himself today, so well
pleased that the fact that he had bruised his left knee so that he had
to limp a little as he went upstairs didn't trouble him a mite. He hoped
Amy would be back from that silly tennis tournament so that he might
tell him all about it. But Amy wasn't back, as he discovered presently.
What met his eyes as he opened the door from the staircase well,
however, put Amy quite out of his mind for awhile.

The door of his own room was closed, but the doors of 13 and 15 were
open, and midway between them a rather startling drama was being
enacted. The participants were Penny Durkin, Harmon Dreer and a smaller
boy whose name afterwards transpired to be Melville. Melville was no
longer an active participant, though, when Clint appeared unnoted on the
scene and paused across the corridor in surprise. It was Penny and
Harmon Dreer who held the centre of the stage.

"What are you butting in for?" demanded Dreer angrily. "I'll cuff the
kid if I want to. You get out of here, Penny."

"You weren't cuffing him," replied Penny hotly. "You were twisting his
arm and making him cry. Now you let the kid alone, Dreer. If you want to
try that sort of thing you try it on me."

"All right!" Dreer stepped forward and shot his closed fist into Penny's
face. The blow missed its full force, since Penny, seeing it coming,
dodged so that it caught him on the side of the chin. But it was enough
to send him staggering to the wall.

"You keep out of it, you skinny monkey!" shouted Dreer. "All you're good
for is to make rotten noises on that beastly fiddle of yours! Want
more, do you?"

Penny evidently did, for he came back with a funny sidelong shuffle,
arms extended, and Dreer, perhaps surprised at the other's pluck, moved
cautiously away.

"You've had what was coming to you, Durkin," he growled. "Now you keep
away from me or you'll get worse. Keep away, I tell you!"

But Penny Durkin suddenly jumped and landed, beating down the other's
guard. Dreer staggered back, ducking his head, and Penny shot a long arm
around in a swinging blow that caught the other under his ear and
Dreer's knees doubled up under him and he sprawled on the threshold
of his room.

"Durkin!" cried Clint. "Stop it!"

Penny turned and observed Clint quite calmly, although Clint could see
that he was trembling in every nerve and muscle.

"I'm not going to touch him again," replied Penny.

"I should think not!" Clint leaned over the motionless Dreer anxiously.
"Here, take hold of him and get him inside. You help, too, kid, whatever
your name is. Get him on the bed and shut the door. That was an awful
punch you gave him, Durkin."

"Yes, he can't fight," replied Penny unemotionally, as he helped carry
the burden to the bed. "He'll be all right in a minute. I jabbed him
under the ear. It doesn't hurt you much; just gives you a sort of a
headache. Wet a towel and dab it on his face."

"What the dickens was it all about, anyway?" asked Clint as he followed
instructions.

"Well, he was twisting young Melville's arm and the kid was yelling
and--"

"You'd have yelled yourself," muttered the boy, with a sniffle.

"I came out and told him to stop it and he didn't. So I pulled the kid
away from him and he got mad and punched me in the cheek. So I went for
him. He's a mean pup, anyway, Dreer is."

The subject of the compliment stirred and opened his eyes with a groan.
Then he looked blankly at Clint. "Hello," he muttered. "What's the--" At
that moment his gaze travelled on to Penny and he scowled.

"All right, Durkin," he said softly. "I'll get even with you,
you--you--"

"Cut it out," advised Clint. "How do you feel?"

"All right. Tell him to get out of my room. And that kid, too."

Penny nodded and retired, herding Melville before him, followed by the
scowling regard of Dreer.

Clint tossed the towel aside. "I'll beat it, too, I guess," he said.
"You'll be all right if you lie still awhile. So long."

"Much obliged," muttered Dreer, not very graciously. "I'll get square
with that ugly pup, though, Thayer. You hear what I tell you!"

"Oh, call it off," replied Clint cheerfully. "You each had a whack. What
more do you want? So long, Dreer."

"Long," murmured the other, closing his eyes. "Tell him to--look
out--Thayer."

Clint's first impulse was to seek Penny, but before he reached the door
of Number 13 the strains of the fiddle began to be heard and Clint, with
a shrug and a smile, sought his own room.

He spread his books on the table, resolved to do a half-hour's stuffing
before supper. But his thoughts wandered far from lessons. The scrap in
the corridor, Penny's unexpected ferocity, the afternoon's practice, the
folks at home, all these subjects and many others engaged his mind.
Beyond the wall on one side Penny was scraping busily on his violin. In
the pauses between exercises Clint could hear Harmon Dreer moving about
behind the locked door that separated Numbers 14 and 15. Then the door
from the well swung open, footsteps crossed the hall and Amy appeared,
racket in hand. After that there was no more chance of study, for Clint
had to tell of the fracas between Penny and Dreer while Amy, stretched
in the Morris chair, listened interestedly. When Clint ended Amy
whistled softly and expressively.

"Think of old Penny Durkin scrapping like that!" he said. Then, with a
smile, he added regretfully: "Wish I'd seen it! Handed him a regular
knock-out, eh? What do you know about that? Guess I'll go in and shake
hands with him!"

"Dreer?" asked Clint innocently.

"Dreer! Yah! Penny. Someone ought to thank him on behalf of the school.
Who was the kid? Charlie Melville?"

"I didn't hear his first name," replied Clint, nodding.

"He's a young rotter. Dare say he deserved what Dreer was giving him,
although I don't believe in arm-twisting. Dreer ought to have
spanked him."

"Then you don't think Penny had any right to interfere?"

"Don't I? You bet I do! Anyone has a right to interfere with Harmon
Dreer. Anyone who hands him a jolt is a public benefactor."

"I fear you're a trifle biased," laughed Clint.

"Whatever that is, I am," responded Amy cheerfully. "What was Melville
doing to arouse the gentleman's wrath?"

"I didn't hear the details. Dreer assured me twice that he was going to
get even with Penny, though."

"Piffle! He hasn't enough grit! Penny should worry! Say, what are you
making faces about?"

"I--it's my knee. I got a whack on it and it sort of hurts when I bend
it."

"Why didn't you get it rubbed, you silly chump. Let's see it."

"Oh, it's nothing. It'll be all right tomorrow."

"Let--me--see--it!" commanded Amy sternly. "Well, I'd say you did whack
it! Stretch out there and I'll rub it. Oh, shut up! I've rubbed more
knees than--than a centipede ever saw! Besides, it won't do to have you
laid up, Clint, old scout. Think of what it would mean to the second
team--and the school--and the nation! I shudder to contemplate it. That
where it is? I thought so from your facial contortions. Lie still, can't
you? How do you suppose I can--rub if--you--twist like--that?"

"Don't be so--so plaguey enthusiastic!" gasped Clint.

"Nonsense! Grin and bear it. Think what it would mean if you were lost
to the team!"

"Oh, dry up," grumbled Clint. "How did you get on with your silly tennis
today?"

"All right. We'll finish up tomorrow, I guess. I play Kennard in the
morning. He's a snap."

"Why don't you pick out someone who can play? Don't win the tournament
too easily, Amy. They'll get onto you."

"That's so, but I can't afford to take any chances. There you are! Now
you're all right. Up, Guards, and at them!"

"I'm not a guard; I'm a tackle," corrected Clint as he experimentally
bent his knee up and down. "It does feel better, Amy. Thanks."

"Of course it does. I'm a fine little massewer. Let's go and eat."

But the next morning that knee was stiff and painful and although Amy
again administered to it, it was all Clint could do to hobble to Wendell
for breakfast. "Boots" sternly demanded an immediate examination and an
hour later Clint was bandaged about his knee like a mummy and told to
keep away from practice for several days and not to use his leg more
than he had to. He limped out of the Physical Director's room in the
gymnasium with the aid of a cane which Mr. Conklin had donated and with
a dark scowl on his face.

"Of all the mean luck!" he muttered disgustedly. "Just when I was going
well, too! Now, I suppose, Robbins will get my place, hang him! Bet you
this settles me for the rest of the season!"



CHAPTER XIII

AMY WINS A CUP

In the afternoon Clint hobbled down to the tennis courts to watch the
final match in the tournament between Amy and Holt. They were hard at it
when he arrived and half a hundred enthusiasts were looking on and
applauding. Clint didn't play tennis and thought it something of a waste
of time. But today he had his eyes opened somewhat. Amy was a brilliant
player for his years, and Holt, who was a substitute end on the varsity
football team, was scarcely less accomplished. In fact, Holt had secured
the lead when Clint reached the court and the score of the first set was
5-2 in his favour.

"Byrd hasn't found himself yet," volunteered a boy next to Clint. "He
lost two games on his service. Banged the balls into the net time after
time. He'll get down to work presently, though, I guess."

Even as Clint's informant ended there came a burst of handclapping and
Harry Westcott, who was umpiring, announced: "The games are 5--3.
Holt leads."

Amy had the service and secured two aces at once, Holt returning twice
into the net. Then a double fault put the score 30--15. Holt got the
next service and lobbed. Amy ran up and smashed it safe into the further
corner of the court. Again Holt tried lobbing, and this time he got away
with it, for Amy drove the ball out. With the score 40--30, Amy served a
sizzling ball that Holt failed to handle and the games were 5--4. The
boy beside Clint chuckled.

"He's getting down to work now," he said.

But Amy's hope of making it five--all died quickly. Holt won on his
first service and although Amy returned the next he missed the back line
by an inch. Holt doubled and the score was 30--15. Amy tried to draw
Holt to the net and pass him across court, but Holt secured applause by
a difficult back-hand return that just trickled over the net and left
Amy standing. The set ended a minute later when Amy drove the service
squarely into the net.

"Holt wins the first set," proclaimed Westcott, "six games to four."

The adversaries changed courts and the second set started. Again Amy won
on his service and again lost on Holt's. There were several good
rallies and Amy secured a round of hearty applause by a long chase down
the court and a high back-hand lob that Holt failed to get. Amy was
playing more carefully now, using easier strokes and paying more
attention to placing. But Holt was a hard man to fool, and time and
again Amy's efforts to put the ball out of his reach failed. The set
worked back and forth to 4-all, with little apparent favor to either
side. Then Amy suddenly dropped his caution and let himself out with a
vengeance. The ninth game went to forty-love before Holt succeeded in
handling one of the sizzling serves that Amy put across. Then he
returned to the back of the court and Amy banged the ball into the net.
A double fault brought the score to 40-30, but on the next serve Amy
again skimmed one over that Holt failed with and the games were 5-4.

"I hope he gets this," murmured Clint.

"Hope he doesn't," replied his neighbour. "I want to see a deuce set."

So, apparently, did Holt, but he was too anxious and his serves broke
high and Amy killed two at the start. Then came a rally with both boys
racing up and down the court like mad and the white ball dodging back
and forth over the net from one side to the other. Holt finally secured
the ace by dropping the ball just over the canvas. Amy, although he ran
hard and reached the ball, failed to play it. Another serve was returned
low and hard to the left of the court, came back in a high lob almost to
the back line, sailed again across the canvas with barely an inch to
spare and finally landed in the net. Holt looked worried then. If he
lost the next ace he would have lost the set. So he tried to serve one
that would settle the matter, but only banged it into the net. The next
one Amy had no trouble with and sped it back along the side line to the
corner. But Holt was there and got it nicely and again lobbed. Amy
awaited with poised racket and Holt scurried to the rear of the court.
Then down came Amy's racket and the ball sailed across almost to the
back line and bounded high, and although Holt jumped for it, he missed
it and it lodged hard and fast in the back net.

"Byrd wins the set, 6--4! The score is one set each!"

Amy, passing the end of the net to change court, stopped a moment in
front of Clint. "How's the knee?" he asked.

"Rotten, thanks. Say, I thought you said you weren't taking chances,
Amy."

Amy grinned and doubling up the towel with which he had been wiping his
face and hands let it drive. Clint caught it and draped it over his
knees. "Go on and take your beating," he taunted.

But it was quite a different Amy who started in on that third and
deciding set. Holt never had a real chance after the first two games.
Amy took them both, the first 50-0 on his service and the second 30-50
on Holt's. After that Amy found himself and played tennis that kept the
gallery clapping and approving most of the time. It was only when he had
run the set to 4-0 that he eased up a little and allowed Holt the
consolation of one game. The next went to deuce and hung there some
time, but Amy finally captured it. By that time Holt's spirit was pretty
well broken and he put up scarcely any defence in the final game and Amy
slammed his serves over almost unchallenged and won a love game.

"Game, set and match to Byrd!" announced Westcott above the applause.
"Byrd wins the School Championship!"

Amy and Holt shook hands across the net and Clint, hobbling up, tossed
Amy the towel. "Got a conundrum for you, Amy," he said. "Want to
hear it?"

"Shoot!" replied Amy, from behind the towel.

"Why are you like a great English poet?"

"Give it up. Why, Mr. Johnsing, am I like a great English poet?"

"Because," replied Clint, edging away, "you surely can play tennis,
son!"

"Play ten--Oh! Help! Officer, arrest this man!"

"Huh," said Clint, "that's a better joke than you ever sprung. Where are
you going?"

"To get that nice pewter mug over there and then to the gym for a
shower. Come along and then I'll go over with you and watch that
wonderful team of yours bite holes in the turf."

Some of the fellows who remained demanded a speech when Amy accepted the
trophy from Westcott.

"Fellow-citizens," responded Amy, "I can only say that this is the
proudest moment of my young and blameless life. Thank you, one and all.
Where's the flannel stocking that goes with this, Harry?"

The bag couldn't be found, however, and Amy bore away his prize without
it. They paused at a neighbouring court to watch for a moment a
white-clad quartette of boys who were battling for the doubles
championship. "Semi-final round," explained Amy. "The winners meet
Scannel and Boynton tomorrow. It'll be a good match. What's the
score, Hal?"

[Illustration: "Funny you didn't make a success of it!" chuckled Clint]

"Brooks and Chase have won one set and they're three--love on this,
Amy," replied the boy addressed.

"Thought so," said Amy. "I picked them to meet Scannel and Boynton. And
I'll bet they beat 'em, too."

"Why didn't you enter the doubles?" asked Clint.

"Oh, I had enough to do looking after the thing," replied Amy, "and
getting through the singles."

Clint smiled. "I reckon the real reason was that you didn't want to hog
the show and take both prizes, eh?"

"No fear of that, I guess," answered the other evasively. "Aren't you
coming over to the gym with me?"

"I'll wait for you over yonder," said Clint. "Conklin says I mustn't use
this leg very much. Hurry up and come back. I'll be on the stand
over there."

The second was still practising when Clint reached the seats, some of
them tackling the dummy in the corner of the field and others, backs
and ends these, catching punts. Over on their own gridiron the 'varsity
was hard at it, the two squads trotting and charging about under the
shrill commands of Marvin and Carmine. Presently the rattle and bump of
the dummy ceased and the tackling squad returned to the gridiron and
"Boots" cleared the field for signal work. The backs and ends came
panting to the bench, and Captain Turner, spying Clint in solitary
grandeur, walked over to the foot of the stand.

"How's the knee, Thayer?" he asked anxiously.

"Much better, thanks," replied Clint, more optimistically than
truthfully. Turner nodded.

"That's good," he said approvingly. "Go easy with it, old man, and don't
take chances. Conklin says it's only a bruise, but knees are funny
things. You don't want to get water on it. We need you too much, Thayer.
Come on down to the bench."

"Thanks, but I'm waiting for Byrd. Did Conklin say how long I'd be out?"

"No, but you needn't worry, I guess. A couple of days more will put you
all right." Turner nodded and hurried back to where "Boots" was making
the line-up. When the squad took the field Clint saw that Cupples had
taken his place at right tackle and that Robbins was at left. This, he
reflected with some satisfaction, was doubtless because Robbins was not
quite so good as he, Clint, and the left of the 'varsity line was the
strongest. Hinton's piping voice sang the signals and the squad,
followed by the substitutes, began its journeys up and down the
gridiron. Amy joined Clint presently, still lugging his pewter trophy,
and the two boys leaned back against the seat behind them and looked on.
Clint, when the squad was near enough for him to hear the signal,
translated for Amy's benefit, as: "Right half outside of left guard.
Watch it!" or "Here's a forward to Turner, Amy. There he goes! Missed
it, though. That was a punk throw of Martin's."

"It's all well enough for you fellows to pretend that you know what's
going to happen when the quarter-back shouts a lot of numbers to you,"
observed Amy, hugging his knees and exposing a startling view of
crushed-raspberry socks, "but I'm too old a bird--no pun intended this
time--to be caught. Besides, I played once for a couple of weeks, and I
know that signals didn't mean anything to me."

"Funny you didn't make a success of it!" chuckled Clint.

"The quarter-back just bawls out whatever comes into his head and then
he tosses the ball to whichever chap looks as if he was wide enough
awake to catch it and that chap makes a break at the line wherever he
happens to think he can get through," continued Amy convincedly. "All
this stuff about signals is rot. Now we'll see. Where's this
play going?"

Clint listened to the signal. "Full-back straight ahead through centre,"
he said.

"What did I tell you?" Amy turned in triumph. Clint laughed.

"Otis got the signal wrong," he explained, "and crossed in front of
Martin."

"Oh, certainly! Yes, indeed!" agreed Amy with deep sarcasm. "Honest,
Clint, I think you really believe that stuff!"

"I have to," grunted Clint. "Here it goes right this time."

The signal was repeated and Martin dashed forward, took the pigskin at a
hand-pass and went through the centre. Amy grunted. "You just happened
to guess it," he said. "Where are they going?"

"Over to scrimmage with the 'varsity. Come along."

"Would you?" asked Amy doubtfully. "Somehow I hate to see the 'varsity
trampled on and defeated, Clint. Would you mind asking 'Boots' to be
merciful today! Tell him you've got a friend with you who's soft-hearted
and hates the sight of blood."

Amy made himself particularly objectionable during the ensuing
half-hour. The 'varsity was in fine fettle today and ripped the second
team wide open for three scores in the two periods played. Amy pretended
to think that every 'varsity success was a second team victory.

"There, that 'varsity fellow has taken the ball across the line, Clint!
Isn't that great? How much does that count for the second? Six, doesn't
it? My, but your team is certainly playing wonderful football, chum.
What I don't understand, though, is the--the appearance of satisfaction
displayed by the 'varsity, Clint. Why is that? Carmine is patting
Kendall on the back just as if he had done something fine! I suppose,
though, that they're so used to being defeated that they can pretend
they're pleased! Let me see, that makes the score 13 to for the
second, eh?"

"Oh, dry up!" laughed Clint. "The 'varsity's having one of its good
days, that's all, and we're playing pretty rotten. We have to let them
win once in a while. If we didn't they might not play with us. There
goes St. Clair in for Still."

"I hear that Still is fairly punk this Fall," said Amy. "Too bad, too,
for he was a dandy man last year. He had some sort of sickness in the
Summer, Freer tells me. Still never said anything about it for fear he'd
lose his place."

"That so? I'm sorry for Still, for he's a nice chap, but that St. Clair
is surely a wonder, Amy. He hasn't any weight to speak of, but he's the
fastest backfield man they've got, with the exception of Marvin, maybe."

"Well, I don't know much about the game," said Amy, "but it seems to me
that Carmine is a better quarter than Marvin. He seems to have more
ginger, don't you think?"

"Perhaps, but Marvin's a steadier fellow. More dependable. Handles punts
a heap better. Knows a lot more football than Carmine. I like the way
Carmine hustles his team, though. I reckon Marvin will have to get a
hump on him or he'll be losing his job."

"Which is the fellow who has your place, Clint?"

"The tall fellow on this end; just pulling his head-guard down; see
him?"

"Yes. How is he doing?"

"Mighty well, I'd say," responded Clint ruefully. "He's playing better
than I've ever seen him play all Fall. There he goes now! Let's see if
he gets under the ball."

Martin had punted, a long, high corkscrew that "hung" well and then came
down with a rush toward the waiting arms of Kendall. Captain Turner had
got away with Robbins at his heels, but Lee, the other end, had been
sent sprawling by Edwards, of the 'varsity, and Cupples, playing right
tackle, was far behind the kick. Carmine dived at Turner as the ball
settled into Kendall's arms, and brought him down, and Robbins threw
himself at the runner. But Kendall leaped aside, spinning on a heel, and
Robbins missed him badly. It was a second team forward who finally
stopped Kendall after the latter had raced across four white lines. Amy
observed Clint severely.

"Why that unholy smirk on your face?" he asked.

"I wasn't," denied Clint.

"You was! It pleased you to see Robbins miss the tackle, and you needn't
deny it. I'm surprised at you, Clint! Surprised and pained. You should
feel sorry for the poor dub, don't you know that?"

"Yes, I know it," replied Clint.

"Well, are you?"

"I am not!"

"Neither am I," said Amy, with a chuckle. "I hope he misses 'em all and
bites his tongue!"

A few minutes later the second again covered itself with glory,
according to Amy, when Harris of the 'varsity skirted its left end and
romped across the goal line for a third touchdown. Amy applauded with
glee and thumped Clint on the shoulder. "Bully for our side, Clint!" he
gloated. "We've gone and made the 'varsity score another touchdown for
us! Oh, but we're the snappy little heroes, what? Let's see if Jack can
kick a goal and give us another point. Now then! There we go! Did he or
didn't he?"

"He did," replied Clint gloomily.

"Fine! That puts the second 20 to 0, eh? Say, you've got a team there to
be proud of, old top! Never again will I cast aspersions on it,
or--What's up? Why the--the exodus?"

"They're through. Come on home."

"Couldn't stand the punishment any longer, eh?" asked Amy cheerfully.
"Ah, poor, disgraced, downtrodden 'varsity! My heart bleeds for them,
Clint! I could sit me down and weep--"

"You'll weep all right if you don't shut up!" declared Clint savagely.
"And don't walk so fast. I've got a bum knee."

Halfway to Torrence Amy stopped suddenly and clasped a hand to his
forehead. "Woe is me!" he declaimed.

"What is it?" asked Clint impatiently.

"I've left my pretty little trophy behind. I'll have to beat it back,
Clint, and rescue it. Can't you picture the poor little thing sitting
there all alone in pathetic solitude, forlorn and deserted?"

"I'll bet no one would steal it," said Clint unkindly.

"Perhaps not, perhaps not, but suppose it rained, Clint, and it's little
insides got full of water! I mustn't risk it. Farewell!"

Amy didn't get back to the room until half an hour later, but he had his
precious tennis trophy, and explained as he placed it on top his
chiffonier and stood off to view the effect, that he had stopped at the
courts to learn the results and afterwards at Main Hall to get mail.
"Brooks and Chase won two straight," he said, "just as I expected they
would. What did I do with that score-sheet, by the way? Oh, here it is."
He drew it from an inner pocket of his jacket, and with it a blue
envelope which fell to the floor. He picked it up, with a chuckle. "Look
at this, Clint. I found it in the mail and nearly had heart disease. Too
well do I know those blue envelopes and Josh's copper-plate writing!
Catch it. I tried to think of something I'd done, and couldn't, and then
I opened it and found that thing!"

Clint drew a sheet of paper from the blue envelope. On it was pasted a
short newspaper clipping and above the clipping was written in the
principal's minute writing: "Thought you'd like to see this. J.L.F."
Clint read the clipping:

     "Wharton, Oct. 24--The Stamford police yesterday took into
     custody James Phee and William Curtin, charged with numerous
     burglaries throughout the state within the past month, among
     them that of Black and Wiggin's jewelry store in this city a
     fortnight ago. The suspected men were trying to dispose of a
     small roadster automobile when arrested and their willingness
     to part with it at a ridiculously low figure placed them
     under suspicion. This car is presumably the one with which
     they operated and successfully escaped arrest for so long.
     The Stamford police are trying to find the real owner of the
     car. It is believed that the two men got away with at least
     four thousand dollars' worth of goods of various kinds during
     their recent campaign, of which none has been recovered
     except that stolen from Black and Wiggin. In that case almost
     a thousand dollars' worth of jewelry which the burglars
     secured by blowing the safe was discovered the following day
     buried in the ground on property belonging to Thomas
     Fairleigh about four miles from town, a piece of detective
     work reflecting great credit on Chief Carey."

"I notice," commented Clint with a smile, "that no credit is given to
Amory Byrd and Clinton Thayer for their share in the discovery."

"I should say not! Maybe it's just as well, though. Newspaper notoriety
is most unpleasant, Clint. Besides, we didn't do so badly!" Amy pulled
out his gold watch and frowned at it intently. "It's an awful exact sort
of a thing, though. It hasn't lost or gained a second in two weeks. I'm
not sure that I approve of a watch with so little--er--sense
of humour!"



CHAPTER XIV

THE TEAM TAKES REVENGE

Clint's knee remained painful for more than a week, during which time he
took no part in practice except, at "Boots'" direction, to watch from
the bench and, later, to follow the squad during signal work. Meanwhile
the obnoxious Robbins--who was in reality a very decent fellow and one
whom Clint could have liked had they not been rivals--was performing
quite satisfactorily without displaying any remarkable brilliance. Coach
Robey made two changes in the line-up of the 'varsity on Thursday of
that week in preparation for the game with Chambers Tech. St. Clair went
in at left half-back, vice Still, and Blaisdell ousted Churchill at left
guard. The Chambers contest was one which Brimfield wanted very much to
win. Last year Chambers had thoroughly humiliated the Maroon-and-Grey,
winning 30--9 in a contest which reflected little credit on the loser.
Brimfield had been caught in the middle of a bad slump on that occasion.
This year, however, no slump was apparent as yet and the school thirsted
for and expected a victory decisive enough to wipe out the stigma of
last Fall's defeat. The game was to be played at Brimfield, a fact which
was counted on to aid the home team. The school displayed far more
interest in Saturday's game than in any other on the schedule except, of
course, the final conflict with Claflin, and displayed a confidence
rather out of proportion to the probabilities. For Chambers had played
six games so far this Fall, to Brimfield's five, and had won five of
them and tied the other, a record superior to the Maroon-and-Grey's.

There was no practice that afternoon for the second and so Clint
witnessed the Chambers game from the grand-stand in company with Amy and
Bob Chase. Chase was a Sixth Form fellow, long, loose-jointed and
somewhat taciturn. He with his partner, Brooks, had won the doubles in
the tennis tournament a few days previously. Before the game was more
than five minutes old he had surprised Clint with the intimate knowledge
he displayed of football. Possibly Amy discerned his chum's surprise;
for he said: "I forgot to tell you, Clint, that Bob is the fellow who
invented the modern game of American football, he and Walter Camp
together, that is. And I've always suspected that Bob gives Camp too
much credit, at that!"

"I played four years," said Chase quietly, "and was crazy about it. But
I got a broken collar-bone one day and my folks were scared and asked me
to give it up. So I did."

Clint pondered that. He wondered if he would be so complaisant if his
parents made a like request, and greatly feared he wouldn't.

"You must have hated to do it," he said admiringly.

Chase nodded. "I did. But I argued it like this. Dad was paying a lot of
good money for my education, and he hasn't very much of it, either, and
if he didn't want to risk the investment I hadn't any right to ask him
to. Because, of course, if I went and busted myself up I'd be more or
less of a dead loss. Any amount of education doesn't cut much figure if
you can't make use of it."

"N-no, but--fellows don't get really hurt very often," replied Clint.

"Not often, but there was no way of proving to dad's satisfaction that I
mightn't, you see. And then, once when we went to a Summer resort down
in Maine there was a chap there, a great, big six-footer of a fellow,
who used to be wheeled around on a reclining chair. He'd got his in
football. And that rather scared me, I guess. Not so much on my account
as on dad's. I knew he'd be pretty well disappointed if he paid for my
school and college courses and in return got only an invalid in a
wheel-chair."

"So, very wisely," said Amy, "you dropped football and took up a
gentleman's game?"

"Well, I'd always liked tennis," conceded Chase. "Funny thing, though,
that, after all, I got hurt worse in tennis than I did in four years of
football." Clint looked curious and Chase went on. "I was playing in a
doubles tournament at home Summer before last and my partner and I
hadn't worked together before and there was a high one to the back of
the court and we both made for it. I got the ball and he got me; on the
back of the head with his full force. I dropped and they had me in bed
three weeks. Concussion, they called it. I thought so too."

Clint glanced reflectively at his knee. "I reckon a fellow does take
chances in football," he murmured. "I'd hate to give it up, though."

"I have an uncle," said Chase, "who used to play football a long time
ago, when he was in college. In those days about everything went, I
guess. He told me once that he used to be scared to death every time he
started in a hard game for fear he'd get badly injured. Said it wasn't
until someone had jabbed him in the nose or 'chinned' him that he forgot
to be scared."

"I know the feeling," observed Amy. "Once when I was playing a chap
jumped on me when I was down and dug his knee into my chest till I
thought he'd caved me in. I was so mad I tried to bite his ankle!"

"He had a narrow escape from hydrophobia, didn't he?" mused Clint.

The first two periods of the Chambers game aroused little interest. Both
teams played listlessly, much, as Amy put it, as if they were waiting
for the noon whistle. There was a good deal of punting and both sides
handled the ball cleanly. Neither team was able to make consistent gains
at rushing and the two periods passed without an exciting incident. Amy
was frankly bored and offered to play Chase a couple of sets of tennis.
Chase, however, chose to see the game through.

"They'll wake up in the next quarter," he predicted. "They've both been
feeling the other fellow out. You'll see that our fellows will start in
and try to rush the ends when they come back. After they've spread
Chambers' line a bit they'll hammer the guards, I guess. I think
Chambers will try to punt into scoring distance and then let loose."

"A score in each period will be the best either side will do, I reckon,"
said Clint.

But Chase shook his head. "I don't think so," he said. "Maybe there
won't be any scoring in the third period, but you'll find that the fur
will fly in the last. Only thing is, I don't know whose fur it will be!"

"Well, I'll be glad to see some action," remarked Amy, yawning.
"Compared to tennis this game is a regular 'cold water sit-around'!"

"What's that?" laughed Clint.

"Oh, that's a party where you don't get anything but a glass of water in
the way of refreshments, and you sit around in a circle and
tell stories."

"I reckon you're a big hit at those parties," said Clint. "When it comes
to telling stories--"

But the rest of Clint's remark was drowned by the cheer that went up as
the Maroon-and-Grey trotted back around the corner of the grand-stand. A
moment later Chambers returned from her seclusion and her warriors
dropped their grey-blue blankets and began to run up and down to
stretch their muscles. Chase watched approvingly.

"An awfully fit-looking lot," he said. "I like them rangey, don't you,
Thayer?"

"Yes, I think so. They do look good, don't they? They must average older
than our fellows."

"At least a year, I'd say. Not much 'beef' on any of them. Hello,
Robey's sending Tyler in at right tackle! Wonder why. Trow wasn't
hurt, was he?"

"Hurt!" scoffed Amy. "How the dickens could anyone get hurt? He probably
fell asleep in the gym and they didn't like to wake him!"

"Carmine's gone in for Marvin," said Clint.

"That means that Robey wants things shaken up a bit. Marvin's a good,
sure player, but he lacks punch, Thayer."

"I know. He doesn't seem to be able to get the speed out of the fellows
that Carmine does."

It was Chambers' kick-off and the ball travelled to the five-yard line.
Carmine let it bound out, touched it back and the teams went back to the
twenty. Carmine showed his ginger at once. His shrill voice barked out
the signals impatiently and Kendall set off around his own left end. The
two teams raced across the field, Kendall searching for an opportunity
to cut in and finding none until he was almost at the side line. Then he
twisted ahead for a scant three yards and Brimfield cheered.

Another try at the same end netted two yards more, and then Harris faked
a punt and shot the ball to Edwards, who was downed for no gain although
he made the catch. Harris punted to Chambers' forty yards and Edwards
got the runner neatly. Chambers smashed through Hall for two, through
Tyler for two more and punted on third down. Kendall caught near the
edge of the field and ran back twelve yards before he was forced out
near his twenty-five. A yard gain on the short side put the runner over
the line and the ball was brought in. St. Clair tried right tackle for
no gain and Kendall made four outside the same opponent. Harris punted
high and short and Chambers made a fair catch on her forty-two yards. A
fake attack on the left of the line fooled the Brimfield backs and
Chambers came around the right end for seven yards. She made her
distance in two more tries and placed the ball in Brimfield territory.
But a smash at the centre was hurled back and on the next play she was
caught holding and penalised. A forward pass grounded and Chambers
punted to Brimfield's twenty where Carmine caught and dodged back for
fifteen behind excellent interference.

"That," commented Thayer, "was real football. Now, then, Brimfield, show
'em what!"

End attacks, diversified by feints at the line, took the pigskin to
Chambers' forty-four yards, and the Maroon-and-Grey supports were
cheering loudly. Then Fate interposed and Carmine fumbled, a Chambers
forward falling on the ball.

"That's the trouble with Carmine," grumbled Clint. "He fumbles too
plaguey much."

Brimfield was over-anxious and Roberts was caught off-side. Chambers
worked a double-pass and made six around Roberts' end. Two attacks on
Tyler gave the visitor the other four and made it first down on
Brimfield's forty-yard line. Again the home team was set back for being
off-side. Chambers came through right guard for three and worked
Edwards' end for four more. With seven to go, a forward pass was tried
and succeeded for enough to make the distance. Things were waking up now
with a vengeance and Amy was no longer demanding action. Instead, he was
shuffling around on the edge of his seat, watching events breathlessly.
Chambers was down to her opponents' twenty-four yards now, almost under
the shadow of the goal and a place-kick would score once out of twice.

But Chambers didn't want the mere three points to be gained by the
overhead route. Instead, suddenly displaying a ferocity of attack never
once hinted at in the first half of the contest, she hurled her fast
backs at the Brimfield wings and bored through twice for two-yard gains.
Then a fake forward-pass deceived the defenders and the Chambers
full-back broke through past Innes and Blaisdell for a full six yards
and another first down. There seemed no stopping her then. Carmine was
scolding shrilly and Captain Innes was hoarsely imploring the line to
"get low and slam 'em back!" With only fourteen yards between her and
the last white line, Chambers played like wildcats. A half fumbled
behind the line, but the quarter recovered the ball and actually
squirmed ahead for a yard before he could be stopped. Another attack on
Tyler netted three yards more.

"Hold 'em, Brimfield! Hold 'em! Hold 'em! Hold 'em!" chanted the
grand-stand. Clint was scowling ferociously and gripping his hands hard
between his knees. Amy was patting his feet on the boards. Chase was
studying the situation intently, outwardly quite unaffected by the
crisis. "Someone," he observed, "is making a mistake there. They'll
never get six yards by plugging the line. Why don't they make Brimfield
open out?"

But evidently Chambers thought she could conquer by massing her attack,
for once more she hurled her backs at the centre, and once more the
Maroon-and-Grey yielded. But the gain was less than two yards and only
one down remained.

"Fourth down and about four to go!" cried the referee.

Chambers changed her plans then, strung her backs out along her line and
shifted to the left.

"Here comes a trick," muttered Clint.

"I doubt it," responded Chase. "It looks like it, and it's meant to, but
I guess when it comes it'll be a straight line-buck with that
careless-looking full-back carrying the ball. I hope Innes sizes it up
the way I do, for--"

"Watch this!" Innes shouted. "Watch the ball! Look out for a forward!
Come in here, Kendall! Throw 'em back, fellows!"

The Chambers quarter shouted his signals, the ball went to him, the two
half-backs shot away to the left, the full-back plunged ahead, took the
ball and struck hard, head down, at the left of centre. But Brimfield
had not been fooled. Blaisdell wavered, but the secondary defence piled
up behind him. The full-back stopped, struggled ahead, stopped again and
then came staggering back, half the Brimfield team about him. The
whistle piped, and--

"Brimfield's ball!" cried the referee. "First down right here!" He waved
the linemen toward the Chambers goal and the grand-stand burst into a
peal of triumph. Amy clapped Clint on the knee--fortunately it was not
the injured one!--and cried: "Some team, Clint! Say, they play almost as
well as the second, eh?"

And Clint, laughing delightedly, acknowledged that they did--almost!

Harris, well behind his own goal line, punted to safety, a long and high
corkscrew that brought another roar of delight from the home team
supporters and settled into the arms of a Chambers back near the
forty-yard line. Two tries at the left wing and the whistle shrilled the
end of the third period and the teams changed goals.

"Bet you it'll be a stand-off," said Amy.

"Don't want to take your money," replied Chase, with a smile.

"Who will score, then?"

"Brimfield for certain, Chambers perhaps. If Chambers scores it'll be
from the field. She's killed herself."

And Chase's prophecy proved fairly correct. Chambers had shot her bolt.
Brimfield secured the ball by inches on a fourth down near the middle of
the field and her first desperate attack, a skin-tackle play with St.
Clair carrying the pigskin, piled through for nearly ten yards, proving
that Chambers was no longer invulnerable. Carmine, still in control,
called for more speed and still more. The Maroon-and-Grey warriors
fairly dashed to their positions after a play. Chambers called time for
an injured guard and substituted two new linesmen. Kendall and Harris
were poked through left tackle for good gains and St. Clair got away
around left end and was not stopped until he had placed the ball on the
twenty-three. A fake kick worked for a short gain through centre,
Carmine carried the pigskin around left tackle for three, Harris hurled
himself through the rapidly weakening centre for four more and on the
next play netted the distance and a yard to spare.

The grand-stand had well-nigh emptied itself, the spectators hurrying
along the side line toward the Chambers goal. Amy and Clint and Chase
squirmed to the front of the crowd where Tracey Black was wildly
imploring the fellows to "Keep back of the line, please! Don't get on
the field, fellows!"

Chambers put in a new left half and Coach Robey sent Gafferty in for
Hall. The latter had been pretty badly treated in the third quarter. The
pigskin was on the Chambers twelve yards now and Carmine and Captain
Innes went back and put their heads together. Then Harris joined them
and the crowd along the edge of the field set up a demand for a
touchdown. "We don't want a field-goal, Innes! We want a touchdown! Give
us a touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!"

But Jack Innes apparently thought a field-goal with its accompanying
three points was sufficient to try for, for Harris walked slowly back to
kicking position and spread his long arms out. But no one expected a
try-at-goal on first down and there was none. Harris got the ball, made
believe hurl it to the left, turned and raced to the right. Kendall and
Carmine bowled over an opponent apiece and Harris ducked through and was
pulled down on the six yards, while some seven score excited youths
danced along the side line and howled gleefully.

Again Harris went back, but this time it was Carmine himself who sought
a breach in the opponent's defence and was finally upset without gain.
It was third down now, with four to go. The ball was well to the right
of the goal, but Harris had done harder angles than that in his time,
and hardly anyone there doubted that he would manage to land the ball
across the bar. For there was hardly a question but that Brimfield was
to try a field-goal this time. She weakened her end defence to provide
protection to the kicker, both Kendall and Roberts playing well in and
leaving the opposing ends unchallenged. But if Harris was capable of
dropping the ball over from that angle he failed to do it on
this occasion.

Back near the eighteen yards he waited, while Carmine piped the signal,
arms outstretched. Chambers feinted and danced in her eagerness to pile
through. Then back went the ball, waist-high, and Harris caught it and
turned it carefully. The enemy thrust and struggled. An eager left end
came around and went to earth before Roberts. Confusion reigned supreme
for a long moment. Then the unexpected happened. Harris swung his leg,
but he didn't drop the ball to it. Instead he turned quickly, tossed it
a running figure which had suddenly detached itself from the offence and
threw himself in the path of a reaching Chambers forward. Off to right
shot the runner with the ball. Cries, frantic gasps from Chambers! A
sudden scuttling to the left to head off the attack! But the Chambers
left wing had been neatly drawn in and Steve Edwards had nearly a clear
field in front of him when, ten yards from the side line, he saw his
chance and dodging behind St. Clair and eluding the Chambers right
half-back, he fairly romped across the line!

"That," shouted Amy, whacking Chase on the back, "is what is called
strategy! Get me? Strategy!"

Three minutes later Jack Innes had kicked goal and turned the six to a
seven. And five minutes later still the game came to an end with
Brimfield once more pounding at Chambers' door. It was generally
conceded that if the contest had lasted another minute Brimfield would
have added another score.



CHAPTER XV

A BROKEN FIDDLE

Brimfield trooped back across the field to the Row noisily triumphant.
Two hours before had anyone suggested that it would be satisfied with
anything less than three scores it would have derided the notion. Now
however it was not only satisfied but elated. Those seven points looked
large and noble, and the home team's victory was viewed as a masterful
triumph. Chambers was credited with having put up a fine fight, with
having a more than ordinarily powerful team, and there were some who
even went so far as to declare that Claflin would show no better
football than today's visitors had shown. But that was doubtless an
exaggeration, and those who made it had probably forgotten those first
two periods in which both teams played very ordinary football indeed. A
fair analysis of the game would have shown that the two elevens, while
playing somewhat different styles of football, had been very evenly
matched in ability and condition, that both had been weak on defence and
that neither had proved itself the possessor of an attack which could
be depended on to gain consistently. What both teams had shown was a
do-or-die spirit which, while extremely commendable, would not have
availed against a well-rounded eleven evenly developed as to attack and
defence. In other words, both Brimfield and Chambers had shown fine
possibilities, but neither was yet by any means a remarkable team.

In some ways the visitors had outplayed Brimfield. Chambers' attack,
especially between the twenty-five-yard lines, had been far more varied
and effective. Her line, from tackle to tackle, had been stronger than
her opponent's. Brimfield had been especially weak at the left of
centre, and a résumé of the game showed that Chambers had made
two-thirds of her line gains through Blaisdell and Saunders. Churchill,
who had replaced Blaisdell in the second half, had shown up no better on
defence. At the ends Brimfield had held her own, while her backs had
shown up superior to Chambers'. Chambers had outpunted Brimfield an
average of five yards at a kick and had placed her punts to better
advantage. In generalship both teams had erred frequently and there was
little to choose between them.

But all this had no present effect on Brimfield's jubilation, and the
school acted as if a most notable victory had been won. When the
'varsity team came in to supper that night it received an ovation hardly
second in enthusiasm to that usually accorded it after a victory over
Claflin. And perhaps, after all, the team deserved it, for when all was
said and done the spirit which had been shown when they had held
Chambers scoreless on the four yards and again later when they had
themselves worn down the defence and gained their touchdown had been of
the right sort.

Clint filled four pages of his Sunday's letter the next afternoon with a
glowing and detailed account of that game, and it is to be hoped that
the folks at Cedar Run enjoyed the perusal of it half as much as he
enjoyed writing it. That evening he and Amy dropped in at Number 14
Hensey and found a roomful of fellows in excited discussion of the game.
There was a disposition on the part of some of the fellows to consider
the Claflin contest as good as won, but Jack Innes was more pessimistic.

"Look here," he interrupted finally, "you fellows talk like a lot of
sick ducks. I'm blessed if I see what you're so cocky about. We beat
Chambers, all right, but we didn't any more than beat them, and we had
to work like the very dickens to do it. And, what's more, we only kept
Chambers from scoring by the biggest piece of good luck."

"Oh, piffle, Jack!" exclaimed Still. "We had them fourth down and five
to go. They couldn't have made it to save their lives!"

"They only had four to go," replied Jack, "and if they'd tried anything
but a child's trick they'd likely have made it. The only way we got
across was by springing a delayed pass on them when they were looking
for a line-plunge."

"Bet you anything you like we could have gone straight through for that
touchdown." said Still. "We had the ball on their four yards and it was
only third down. Harris or Kendall could have torn that four yards
off easily."

"That's your opinion," replied Jack drily. "As I remember it, though,
you were not on at the time. We knew mighty well we _couldn't_ get that
four yards by playing the line. If you don't believe me, ask Robey. The
first thing he said afterwards was that he was afraid we were going to
send Harris at centre on that last play and that if we had we'd never
have got over."

"Oh, well, we got it, anyway," observed Tom Hall cheerfully.

"Yes, we got it," agreed Jack Innes, "but I'm telling you fellows that
we only just did get it, and that we've got mighty little to crow about.
Our forward line wasn't nearly as good as Chambers'. You all know that.
And you ought to know that if we went in against Claflin and played the
sort of football we played yesterday we'd be literally swamped!"

"But, look here, Jack," protested Tracey Black warmly, "it's only
mid-season, old man. You've got to acknowledge that we're in mighty good
shape for the time of year."

"I'm not knocking, Tracey. I'm giving all the fellows credit for what
they did yesterday, but I don't want them to get the idea in their heads
that all we've got to do is mark time from now until the big game. We've
got to be at least twice as good then as we were yesterday. Besides, I
don't call it the middle of the season when we've got only three games
to play before Claflin. The Benton game was the mid-season game. We're
on the last lap now. And," he added grimly, "we've got some work
ahead of us!"

"For my part," observed Amy, who had been rather bored by the
discussion, "I think the whole bunch of you played pretty rottenly."

"You do, eh?" demanded Edwards. "Suppose you tell us all about it, Amy.
Give us of your wisdom, O enlightened one."

"There you go," groaned Tom Hall, "talking the way he does!"

"Oh, I don't know that I care to specify which of you was the worst,"
replied Amy carelessly. "Possibly it was you, Steve. You had a dandy
chance once to upset the referee and you deliberately side-stepped him.
If you're going to play the game, boy, _play_ it! Don't dodge any of
your duties or responsibilities."

"Oh, you be blowed," laughed Edwards. "It's the sorrow of my life, Amy,
that you didn't keep on with football."

"I dare say if I had I'd have shown you fellows a few things about it,"
replied Amy modestly. "Theoretically, I'm something of an authority on
football. When you come right down to brass tacks, it's the fellow on
the side line who sees most of the game. I'm considering coaching when I
leave school. Take my young friend Clint here. Clint owes a whole lot to
my advice and guidance. He wouldn't be where he is today if it hadn't
been for me, would you, Clint?"

"I'm on the bench just now," retorted Clint drily.

"That's where you'll stay if you listen to his ravings," said Steve
Edwards, amidst general laughter.

"By the way, how is that ankle of yours, Thayer?" inquired Innes.

"Pretty nearly all right, thanks. It's my knee, though."

"Oh, is it? Say, Churchill got a peach of a black eye yesterday. Seen
it!"

"Rather!" replied Freer. "He looked positively disreputable, poor chap."

"The fun of it is," chuckled Hall, "that he had to address the Christian
Association this afternoon. Were you there, Jack?"

"Yes. It wasn't so bad. He had a patch over it. Still, it was sort of
funny to hear him talking about clean playing!"

Clint was given a clear bill of health the next day and went back to
practice with a silk bandage around his knee. He was given light work
and sat on the bench again while the second played two twelve-minute
periods against the 'varsity substitutes. It seemed to him that Robbins
fairly outplayed himself that afternoon, but he failed to take into
consideration that his rival was pitted against substitutes or that his
own state of mind was rather pessimistic. Practice ended early and after
a shower and a rub Clint ambled across to Torrence feeling rather
dispirited. The dormitory seemed pretty empty and lonesome as he entered
the corridor. Even Penny Durkin's violin was silent, which was a most
unusual condition of affairs for that hour of the afternoon. Clint
slammed his door behind him, tossed his cap in the general direction of
the window-seat and flopped morosely into a chair at the table. He had
plenty of work to do, but after pulling a book toward him and finding
his place he slammed it shut again and pushed it distastefully away. He
wished Amy would come back, and looked at his watch. It was only a
little after half-past four, though, and Amy, who was probably playing
tennis, would scarcely stop as long as he was able to distinguish the
balls. Perhaps it was the absence of the customary wailing of the next
door violin that put Penny Durkin in mind. Clint had never been in
Penny's room, nor ever said more than two dozen words to him except on
the occasion of Penny's encounter with Harmon Dreer, but just now Clint
wanted mightily to talk to someone and so he decided to see if Penny was
in. At first his knock on the door of Number 13 elicited no answer, and
he was turning away when a doubtful "Come in" reached him from beyond
the closed portal. When he entered Penny was seated on the window-seat
at the far end of the room doing something to his violin.

"Hello," he said not very graciously. Then, giving the newcomer a second
glance, he added: "Oh, that you, Thayer? I thought it was Mullins.
Come on in."

"Thought maybe you were dead," said Clint flippantly, "and dropped in to
see."

"Dead!" questioned Penny vaguely.

"Yes, I didn't hear the violin, you know."

"Oh, I see." There was a moment's silence. Then Penny said very soberly:
"It isn't me that's dead; it's the violin."

"Something gone wrong?" asked Clint, joining the other at the window and
viewing the instrument solicitously. Penny nodded.

"I guess it's a goner," he muttered. "Look here." He held the violin out
for Clint's inspection and the latter stared at it without seeing
anything wrong until Penny sadly indicated a crack which ran the full
length of the brown surface.

"Oh, I see," said Clint. "Too bad. Will it hurt it much?"

Penny viewed him in surprise. "Hurt it! Why, it spoils it! It'll never
have the same tone, Thayer. It--it's just worthless now! I was
pretty"--there was a catch in Penny's voice--fond of this old feller."

"That is a shame," said Clint sympathetically. "How'd you do it?"

Penny laid the violin down beside him on the window-seat and gazed at it
sorrowfully a moment. Finally, "I didn't do it," he answered. "I found
it like that an hour ago."

"Then--how did it happen? I suppose they're fairly easy to bust, aren't
they?"

"No, they're not. Whoever cracked that had to give it a pretty good
blow. You can see where it was hit."

"But who--Was it Emery, do you think?" Emery was Penny's room-mate, a
quiet fifth form fellow who lived to stuff and who spent most of his
waking hours in recitation room or school library. "He might have
knocked it off, I dare say."

Penny shook his head. "It wasn't Gus and it wasn't the chambermaid. I
asked them both. Besides, the violin was in its case leaning in the
corner. No, somebody took it out and either struck it with something or
hit it over the corner of the table. I think probably they hit it on
the table."

Clint stared. "You mean that--that someone did it deliberately?" he
gasped incredulously. "But, Durkin, no one would do a thing like that!"

"Of course, I've got another one," said Penny, "but it isn't like this.
This is a Moretti and cost sixty dollars twelve years ago. You can't buy
them any more. Moretti's dead, and he only made about three a year, and
there aren't many anyhow."

"But, Durkin, who could have done it?"

Penny didn't answer; only picked up the violin tenderly and once more
traced the almost imperceptible crack along the face of the
mellowed wood.

"You don't mean"--Clint's voice dropped--don't mean Dreer?"

"I can't prove it on him," answered Penny quietly.

"But--but, oh, hang it, Durkin, even Dreer wouldn't do as mean a thing
as that!" But even as he said it Clint somehow knew that Penny's
suspicions were correct, and, at variance with his assertion, added
wrathfully: "By Jove, he ought to be thrashed!"

"He said he'd get even," observed Penny thoughtfully.

Clint sat down on the end of the window-seat and looked frowningly at
Penny. "What are you going to do?" he asked finally.

"Don't see that I can do anything except grin," was the reply. "If I
charge him with it he'll deny it. No one saw him do it, I guess. He
probably came in here early this afternoon. I have French at two, you
know, and he probably counted on that. Gus never is in, anyhow. After he
did it he put it back in the case, but I knew as soon as I'd opened it
that somebody had been at it because my handkerchief was underneath, and
I always spread it on top. If I beat him up he'll go to Josh and Josh
will say it was an unwarrantable attack, or something, and I'll get the
dickens. I can't afford that, because I'm trying hard for a Draper
Scholarship and can't take chances. I guess he's evened things up all
right, Thayer."

"It's perfectly rotten!" said Clint explosively. "If it was me I'd
thrash him, scholarship or no scholarship! The mean pup!"

"You wouldn't if it might mean losing your chance of coming back after
Christmas. I need that scholarship the worst way and I have a hunch that
I'll get it if I don't get into trouble. I had it last year, you know. I
haven't done very well with business this Fall; fellows haven't seemed
to want things much. No, if Dreer figured out that I wouldn't go after
him on account of the scholarship, he guessed about right. I'd like
to"--Penny's voice trembled--"to half kill him, but--I won't!"

"Then tell faculty, Durkin. Have him fired out of school. Do--do
something!"

"No use telling faculty; I can't prove it on him. Besides, I don't like
the idea of playing baby. And, anyway, nothing I could do to Dreer would
give me my violin back the way it was. It--it had a grand tone, Thayer!
You've heard it!"

"Yes." Clint had to suppress a smile. "Yes, I've heard it often, Durkin.
It did have a good tone; nice and--and clear."

"There isn't a better instrument made than a Moretti," said Penny sadly.
"I can have it fixed so it won't show, but it won't ever be the same."
He laid the violin back in the case very tenderly and spread the white
silk handkerchief across the strings. "If you don't mind, Thayer, I'd
just as leave you didn't say much about this."

"All right," agreed Clint gruffly. "Mind if I tell Amy, though?"

"Oh, no, only I--I'd rather it didn't get around. Some of the fellows
don't like my playing, anyhow, you see, and they'd do a lot
of talking."

Clint took his departure a minute later, after renewed regrets, and went
back to his room. Amy was still absent and it was not until after supper
that they met.



CHAPTER XVI

AMY TAKES A HAND

Clint told Amy about Penny's violin without mentioning the latter's
suspicion. Amy listened with darkening face and when Clint had ended
said: "Dreer, eh? It's the sort of thing you'd expect from him. What's
Penny going to do?"

Clint explained about the scholarship and Amy nodded. "I see. I guess
he's right. Dreer would be sure to go to Josh and Penny'd get what-for;
and then it would be good-bye, scholarship! Unless--" Amy paused
thoughtfully.

"Unless what?"

"Unless he could induce our friend Dreer to 'fess up."

"Not likely!"

"N-no, not very. Still--Well, I'm sorry for old Penny."

"Durkin asked me not to say anything about it, Amy."

"So you told me?" laughed the other.

"He said I might tell you. I guess he was afraid if the fellows learned
of it they'd cheer!"

Amy chuckled. "Bet they would, too! Where's my dear old German
dictionary?"

The two boys settled down at opposite sides of the table to study. After
a few minutes, Clint whose thoughts still dwelt on Penny's tragedy,
asked: "What made you think it was Dreer, Amy?"

"Eh? Oh, why, who else would it be? Shut up and let me get this piffle."

But a half-hour later, when Clint closed his Latin book and glanced
across, Amy was leaning back in his chair, his hands behind his head and
a deep frown on his forehead. "All through?" asked Clint enviously.

"Through?" Amy evidently came back with an effort. "No, I wish I were. I
was--thinking."

When nine o'clock sounded Clint sighed with relief and closed his book.
Amy got up and walked to the window and threw himself on the seat. "Look
here," he said finally, "Dreer oughtn't to be allowed to get away with
that cute little stunt of his."

"No, but how--"

"I've been thinking." Amy thrust his hands into his pockets and a slow
smile spread over his face. "Penny can't touch him, but that doesn't say
I can't. I haven't any scholarship to lose."

"But you can't go and knock Dreer down for what he did to someone else,"
objected Clint.

"Why can't I, if I want to?"

"But--but they'd expel you or--or something."

"I wonder! Well, maybe they would. Yes, I guess so. Consequently, I'll
knock him down on my own account--ostensibly, Clint, ostensibly."

"Don't be an ass," begged the other. "You can't do that."

Amy doubled a capable-looking fist and viewed it thoughtfully. "I think
I can," he responded grimly.

"Oh, you know what I mean, Clint. You haven't any quarrel with Dreer."

"I told him that the next time he talked rot about how much better
Claflin is than Brimfield I'd lick him. I gave him fair warning, and he
knows I'll do it, too."

"All right, but he hasn't said anything like that, has he?"

"Not that I know of, but"--Amy's smile deepened--"something tells me
he's going to! Come on over here where I won't have to shout at you."
Amy patted the window-seat. "That door isn't so awfully thick, I'm
thinking."

Clint obeyed, and for the next ten minutes Amy explained and Clint
demurred, objected and, finally, yielded. In such manner was the plot to
avenge Penny Durkin's wrongs hatched.

Two days later Harmon Dreer, looking for mail in Main Hall, came across
a notice from the post office apprising him that there was a registered
parcel there which would be delivered to him on presentation of this
notice and satisfactory identification. Harmon frowned at the slip of
paper a moment, stuffed it into his pocket and sought his nine-o'clock
recitation. A half-hour later, however, having nothing to do until ten,
he started off toward the village. He was half-way down the drive toward
the east gate before he became visible from the window of Thursby's room
on the front of Torrence. Amy, who had been seated at the window for
half an hour, at once arose, crossed the hall and put his head in at the
door of Number 14.

"Got him," he announced placidly.

Clint, who had cut a recitation to remain within call, and had been
salving his conscience by studying his French, jumped up and seized
his cap.

"He's about at the gate now," added Clint as they hurried down the
stairs. "We'll give him plenty of time, because we don't want to meet
him until he's half-way back. I knew he'd bite at that registered
parcel." Amy chuckled. "He couldn't even wait until noon!"

Fifteen minutes later Harmon Dreer, returning from the post office,
spied ahead of him, loitering in the direction of the Academy, two boys
of whom one looked at the distance of a block away very much like the
obnoxious Byrd. For choice, Dreer would have avoided Amy on general
principles, but in this case he had no chance, for, unless he climbed a
fence and took to the fields, there was no way for him to reach school
without proceeding along the present road. Neither was it advisable to
dawdle, for he had Greek at ten o'clock, it was now twelve minutes of
and "Uncle Sim" had scant patience with tardy students. There was
nothing for it but to hurry along, but the fact didn't improve his
temper, which was already bad. To walk three-quarters of a mile in the
expectation of getting a valuable registered parcel and then discover on
opening it that it contained only two folded copies of a daily newspaper
was enough to sour anyone's disposition! And that is what had happened
to Dreer. Someone, of course, had played a silly joke on him, but he
couldn't imagine who, nor did he for a moment connect Byrd's appearance
on the scene with the registered parcel. When he reached the two ahead
he saw that one was Byrd, as he had thought, and the other Thayer. They
were so deeply in conversation that he was almost past before they
looked up. When they did Dreer nodded.

"Hi, fellows," he murmured, without, however, decreasing his pace.

"Hi, Dreer!" responded Amy, and Thayer echoed him. "Say, you're just the
fellow to settle this," Amy continued.

"Settle what?" asked Dreer, pausing unwillingly.

"Why, Clint says--By the way, you know Thayer, don't you?"

Dreer nodded and Amy went on.

"Well, Clint says that Claflin played two fellows on her team last year
who weren't eligible. What were their names, Clint?"

"Ainsmith and Kenney," replied Clint unhesitatingly.

"Ainsmith!" exclaimed Dreer. "Kenney! Say, you don't know what you're
talking about, Thayer!"

"That's what I told him," said Amy eagerly. "They were all right,
weren't they? Clint says that last year was their first at Claflin and
that they didn't have any right to play on the team."

"Rot! Ainsmith's been at Claflin two years and Kenney three. Where'd you
get that dope, Thayer?"

"I heard it and I think I'm right," said Clint stubbornly.

"You can't be," persisted Amy. "Dreer went to Claflin last year, and he
knows, don't you, Dreer?"

"Of course I know! Besides, Claflin doesn't do that sort of thing,
Thayer. It doesn't have to! You'd better turn over; you're on
your back!"

"That's what I heard," persisted Clint.

"You're wrong!" Dreer laughed contemptuously. "Whoever told you that
stuff was stringing you. Well, I must get a move on. I've got a
ten o'clock."

"But wait a minute," begged Amy. "You've got time enough. Let's get this
settled." Dreer suddenly discovered that Amy was between him and the
Academy and that he had a detaining hand on his arm.

"Can't, I tell you! I'll be late! Besides, there's nothing to settle. I
know what I'm talking about. And if Thayer doesn't believe it all he's
got to do is to look in the Claflin catalogue. I've got one in my room
he can see any time he wants to."

"Sure, I know," said Amy soothingly. "I've told him you'd know all about
it." Amy turned to Clint impatiently. "Dreer went to Claflin--- how many
years was it? Two, Dreer?"

"Yes; that is, one and a half. I left in the Winter."

"Of course. Well, don't you see, Clint, he'd ought to know what he's
talking about?"

"Maybe he ought," replied Clint rudely, "but I don't believe he does. He
says Claflin doesn't do that kind of thing. If it's such a fine school
why didn't he stay there?"

"You bet it's a fine school!" returned Dreer heatedly. "It's the best
there is!"

"Oh, piffle," sneered Clint. "Better than Brimfield, I suppose?"

"Better than--Say, you make me laugh! There isn't any comparison.
Claflin's got it all over this hole every way you look!" Dreer paused
suddenly and cast a doubtful look at Amy. But for once Amy seemed
unconcerned by such sentiment. His smile even seemed approving! Dreer
warmed to his subject. "Of course, you fellows haven't been anywhere
else and think Brimfield's quite a school. That's all right. But I
happen to have gone to Claflin and I know the difference between a real
school and a second-rate imitation like this! Brimfield's a regular
hole, fellows, believe me! Gee, I must get on!"

"I wouldn't hurry," said Amy. Something in his tone caught Dreer's
attention and he glanced around apprehensively to find Amy removing
his coat.

"Wha--what do you mean, you wouldn't hurry?" he asked uneasily.

Amy hung his coat on a paling and placed his cap on top. Then he tugged
his belt in another hole. And all the time he smiled quite pleasantly.
Dreer moved backward toward the curb, but found Clint barring his way.
His anxious gaze searched the road for help, but in each direction it
was empty. He laughed nervously.

"What's the joke?" he asked.

"No joke at all, Dreer," replied Amy. "I gave you fair warning that the
next time you ran down the school I'd beat you. If I were you, Dreer,
I'd take off my coat."

"You dare touch me and it'll be mighty bad for you, Byrd! I'm not going
to fight you, and you can't make me."

"Suit yourself about that," replied Amy, stepping toward him.

Dreer thought of flight, but it looked hopeless. Besides, a remnant of
pride counselled him to bluster it out rather than run away. He
laughed, not very successfully. "Two against one, eh? Wait till fellows
hear about it! You won't dare show your faces, you two thugs!" Again his
gaze travelled along the empty, sunlit road. "Anyway, I didn't say
anything I didn't have a right to say. You asked me what I thought and I
told you. You--you made me say it!"

"I did, Dreer!" Amy shook his head gently. "Think again. Surely, I
didn't do that?"

"Well, he did," faltered Dreer. "And you put him up to it, I'll bet!
Don't you touch me, Byrd!"

"Put your hands up!"

"I won't! You're bullies! Two against one isn't fair!"

"Thayer won't touch you. I'll attend to you alone and unaided, Dreer.
Fair warning!"

"Keep away from me! You'd better! Don't you--"

Dreer picked himself up slowly from the sidewalk. There was a frightened
look in his eyes.

"I don't see what you're doing this for," he half whimpered. "I haven't
done anything to you."

"You spoke disrespectfully of the school, Dreer. I told you you mustn't.
I'm terribly fond of the dear old school and it hurts me to hear it
maligned. And then there's Durkin's violin, Dreer. Perhaps you haven't
heard about that."

A gleam of comprehension flashed in the boy's face and he backed up
against the fence. "I don't know anything about any violin,"
he muttered.

"Of course you don't, Dreer," replied Amy cheerfully. "I'm just telling
you about it. Someone went into his room day before yesterday and
smashed it. Isn't that a shame? _You_ wouldn't do a thing like that,
would you?"

"I didn't!" whined Dreer. "You haven't any right to blame me for it!"

"Who's blaming you for it? Perish the thought, Dreer! I'm just telling
you about it."

"Then you let me go, Byrd! I didn't hurt his old fiddle!"

"Tut, tut! You mustn't think I'm knocking you around on account of that.
Oh dear, no! I wouldn't have any right to do that, Dreer. What I'm doing
is punishing you for speaking disrespectfully of our dear old Alma
Mater. Look out for your face, Dreer!"

Dreer put up a half-hearted defence then, and for a moment the two boys
circled about on the dusty sidewalk, Dreer pale and plainly scared, Amy
smiling and deliberate. Then came a feint at Dreer's body, a lowering of
his guard and a quick out-thrust of Amy's left fist. The blow landed on
Dreer's cheek and he went staggering backward against the palings. He
was too frightened to cry out. With a hand pressed to his bleeding
cheek, he stared dumbly at Amy, trembling and panting. Clint, who had
watched proceedings from a few yards away, felt sorry for the boy.

"That's enough, Amy," he said. "He can't fight."

"Oh, yes, he can," returned Amy sternly. "He can fight when the other
fellow's smaller than he is, can't you, Dreer? And he's a very skilful
arm-twister, too. I haven't got him warmed up yet, that's all. We've
only started, haven't we, Dreer?"

"You--you brute!" muttered Dreer. "What do you want me to do? I--I'll do
anything you say, Byrd."

"Will you? Then come away from that fence so I can knock you over again,
you sneak!"

"He's had enough, Amy," pleaded Clint.

"Enough? Oh, no, he hasn't! When he's had enough he's going to tell us
who smashed Durkin's violin, aren't you, Dreer? And he's going to tell
us that he's been awfully mistaken in his estimate of Brimfield Academy,
too. Why, he's going to just love the dear old school before I get
through with him, Clint!"

"I--I tell you I didn't touch his violin," cried Dreer with a brief
flash of defiance.

"There! You see?" said Amy. "His memory is still weak, Clint. Come away
from the fence, Dreer."

"I won't! Let me alone! You've struck me twice, Byrd. That--that ought
to be enough." He ended with a sniffle.

"Sorry," said Amy, "but I've got to arouse that memory of yours. If you
won't come away from there, why--"

"Hello, hello!" said a voice. "What's the trouble, fellows?"

The three boys started. A few yards away, leaning on his cane, stood a
tall man of twenty-three or four years, a mildly surprised expression on
his good-looking face.



CHAPTER XVII

A STRANGER INTERRUPTS

He wore a grey flannel suit, a cap to match, and rubber-soled tan shoes.
It was doubtless the latter which accounted for his unsuspected
appearance on the scene. His brown eyes travelled from one to another of
the little group inquiringly.

"I hope I don't intrude," he observed politely.

"I'm afraid you do, a bit," responded Amy calmly.

"They're two against one!" cried Dreer shrilly. "I didn't do a thing to
them! He--he knocked me down, and cut my face, and--"

"Easy, easy!" The stranger held up a hand. "I thought from what I saw
that this gentleman was quite neutral. How about it?" He turned
to Clint.

"Yes, sir," answered the latter.

"I thought so. Then it's you two who are engaged in this encounter, eh?
I presume it's a gentleman's affair! All fair and ship-shape?"

"Quite within the rules of civilised warfare, sir," assured Amy with a
smile.

"I see. In that case don't let me detain you. Proceed with the matter in
hand. Unless, that is, I may act as mediator? Is the--the question in
dispute one which is open to arbitration?"

"I'm afraid not," answered Amy. "The fact is, sir, this fellow has a
lamentable habit of speaking disrespectfully of his school. I have
warned him that I didn't like it and he persists. What I--"

"It isn't that, sir!" cried Dreer passionately. "He says I--I broke
Durkin's fiddle, and I didn't, and the rest is only an excuse to--to
fight me! He hasn't any right--"

"Dreer!" protested Amy. "I've explained, even insisted that the incident
of the violin has nothing to do with this--er--salutary punishment I am
inflicting. I wish you wouldn't confuse things so!"

The stranger grinned. "Seems to me," he said, "all that is necessary
then is for the gentleman with the ensanguined cheek to withdraw
whatever derogatory remarks he may have injudiciously used. What do you
think?" He appealed politely to Clint.

"Yes, sir, I--I suppose so," Clint agreed.

"That's so," said Amy, "but he is also under treatment for lapse of
memory, sir, or perhaps I should say for hesitancy of speech. I am
hoping that presently he will remember who did break the violin and tell
us. Have we your permission to continue, sir?"

"Hm." The man's eyes twinkled appreciatively as he returned Amy's
ingenuous regard. "I see that my offer of good offices was premature.
Pray let the argument proceed. With your permission I'll stand by and
see that everything is as it should be."

Dreer's amazement was ludicrous. "You--you mean you're going to let him
knock me down again?" he demanded incredulously.

"Seems to me," replied the stranger judicially, "it's up to you whether
he knocks you down. Why don't you turn the tables and do the knocking
down yourself? It's a beautiful morning you've chosen, gentlemen."

"I won't fight, I tell you!" screamed Dreer. "I'll tell Fernald of this
and you'll all be expelled!"

"We won't worry about that yet, Dreer," said Amy. "Come on, now. Let's
get through with this."

"Keep away from me!" Dreer cried. Then he appealed to the stranger.
"Make him let me alone, won't you, sir, please? I--I told him I'd do
anything he said!"

"Oh, did you?" asked the man. "Then hold on a bit. What is it you want
him to do, you chap in the shirt-sleeves?"

"I want him to acknowledge that he has been terribly mistaken about the
school, for one thing."

"You do acknowledge that, don't you?" asked the man.

Dreer nodded almost eagerly. Amy viewed him doubtfully.

"Perhaps it would be well for him to state that he considers Brimfield
Academy to be, to the best of his knowledge, the finest school in
the world."

"I--I do think so," agreed Dreer sullenly. "I was just fooling."

"In fact," pursued Amy, "compared to Claflin School, Brimfield is as a
gem of purest ray to a--a pebble, Dreer? You are convinced of that,
are you not?"

"I suppose so."

"Only--suppose, Dreer? Couldn't you be absolutely certain?"

"Yes, I--I'm certain."

"Fine! Now, in regard to that violin, Dreer, which, you know, has
nothing to do with our recent altercation. Could you find it convenient
to tell us who sneaked into Durkin's room and cracked it?"

"No, I couldn't," muttered Dreer.

"You see, sir?" Amy appealed to the stranger. "Memory still pretty bad!"

"Hm, yes, I see. You think--ah--"

"Absolutely certain, sir."

"Then, perhaps, a little more--treatment--"

"My idea exactly, sir!" Amy advanced toward Dreer again, hands up. Dreer
looked about at the unrelenting faces, and,

"I'll tell!" he cried. "I did it. Durkin hit me. You were there; you saw
him!" He appealed to Clint. "And--and I told him I'd get even. So--so I
did!" He looked defiantly about him. "I warned him."

Amy nodded and reached for his coat. The stranger held it for him and
handed him his cap.

"Thank you, sir," said Amy. "That's all, Dreer. You may go."

"I--I'll get you into trouble for this, Byrd," called Dreer as he moved
away. "You needn't think I'm through with you, you big bully!"

Amy made no response. The stranger was smiling amusedly at the two boys
who remained, flicking his cane in and out of the fallen leaves beside
the fence. "Everything quite satisfactory now?" he inquired.

"Yes, sir, thank you," replied Amy.

"You have a very direct way of getting results," continued the other.
"Might I inquire your name?"

"Byrd, sir. And this is Thayer."

"Delighted to know you both. Mind if I stroll along with you? I'm an old
boy myself, Byrd. Used to be here some five years ago. My name, by the
way, is Detweiler."

"Oh!" said Amy. "You're going to help coach, aren't you, sir?"

"Yes, that's what I'm here for. Are you playing?"

"No, but Thayer is. He's on the second, that is. I hope you don't think
we do this sort of thing regularly, Mr. Detweiler."

"No, I suspected that it was something rather extra," replied the other
drily. "Think that he will--What's his name, by the way?"

"Harmon Dreer."

"Think he will make trouble for you, Byrd?"

Amy shrugged. "Not with faculty, I guess. He wouldn't dare. He may try
to get back at me some other way, though. I'm not worrying. When did you
get here, sir?"

"This morning, on the eight-something. Went to a house in the village
that George Robey wrote me about and found a room, and then started out
for a stroll and broke in on your innocent amusement. So far I've found
the old place quite interesting!" And Mr. Detweiler chuckled.

"Hope you'll like it well enough to stay a good while, sir," said Amy.

"Thanks. Hello! There's a new hall since I was here! What do you call
it?"

"The last one on the left, sir? That's Billings. I think it was built
about three years ago."

"Aside from that things look about as they used to," mused the other.
Then he turned to Clint. "So you're playing on the second, Thayer? How
are you getting on? What do you play?"

"Pretty well, sir. I play tackle. I've had a bum knee for a week or so,
though."

"How's the 'varsity shaping?"

"Very well, I'd say. We expect to lick Claflin again, sir."

"Do, eh? That's good. Football at Brimfield didn't amount to a great
deal when I was here, but the old school's turned out some good elevens
since then. Well, I'm glad to have met you chaps. Some day when you've
got nothing better to do look me up in the village. I'm at Storer's, a
little white house opposite the store and post office. Awfully glad to
have you. And--er--by the way, if you need evidence, Byrd, in this
little matter, call on me. Very glad to testify to the best of my
knowledge. Good-bye."

Mr. Detweiler swung off in the direction of the gymnasium and the two
boys, continuing toward Main Hall, looked after him interestedly.

"Gee, he's built for work, isn't he?" mused Amy. "Played tackle, didn't
he?"

"Yes, and he was a dandy. Bet you he will do a lot of good here, Amy."

"He seems a level-headed sort," replied Amy. "I liked the way he minded
his own business back there. Lots of men would have hopped around and
got excited and said, 'Boys! Boys! This will never do!' He just made up
his mind that everything was all right and said 'Go to it!'"

"I'm glad he came," acknowledged Clint. "I didn't want to see Dreer get
any more, Amy."

"He needed a lot more," replied Amy grimly. "Personally, I was a bit
sorry he fessed up so quick. I was hoping for another whack at him!"

"You're a bloodthirsty kid," marvelled Clint.

"I am?" Amy seemed surprised. "Don't you believe it, Clint. I'm as
easy-going and soft-hearted as a suckling dove, whatever that is. Only,
when some low-life like Dreer says this is a rotten school I don't care
for it. And when he does a trick like the one he did with poor old
Penny's fiddle I want to fight. Not, though, that you could call that
little affair a fight," he added regretfully. "Why, the silly chump
wouldn't even guard!"

"Do you reckon he will tell Josh?" asked Clint uneasily.

"No, I don't. He wouldn't care to have Josh know about the violin
business. What he will do is to put arsenic in our tea some day,
I guess."

"That's all right, then," laughed Clint. "I don't drink tea."

"Or, maybe, he'll drop a bomb through the transom some dark night."

"We'll keep it closed."

"Well, if I have to teach him behaviour again I won't stop so soon,"
said Amy. "I'm not sure I don't wish he _would_ try some trick with me.
I--do you know, Clint, I don't think I quite like that fellow!"

"Honest? I'd never have suspected it," Clint laughed. "Say, how many
cuts did you take?"

"Two. And there's going to be trouble. But it was worth it!"

There was trouble, and Amy had to visit Mr. Fernald the next day and
explain, as best he could, why he had missed two recitations.
Unfortunately, Amy couldn't confide to the principal the nature of the
business which had interfered with his attendance at classes, and his
plea of indisposition was not kindly received. Still, he got off with
nothing more serious than a warning, and thought himself extremely
fortunate. Clint, who had cut only one "recit," received merely a
reprimand from "Horace" and an invitation to make up the lost work.

Amy confided to Penny that evening that he and Dreer had had a
misunderstanding regarding the respect due from a student to his school
and that Dreer had sustained a cut cheek. And Penny nodded
understandingly and said: "Much obliged, Byrd. I wish I might have
seen it."

"Yes, it would have done you a lot of good," replied Amy cheerfully.



CHAPTER XVIII

A RAID ON THE SECOND

"Boots" gave Clint a fair chance to win back his place as first string
right tackle. Every day he was used for half the scrimmage and Robbins
for the other half. Robbins worked desperately, but by Friday Clint had
proved his superiority, though perhaps by no great margin, and Robbins
became second choice again. Scrimmaging with the 'varsity was no mere
child's play now. With only three games intervening before the Claflin
contest, the 'varsity coaches were allowing no grass to grow underfoot.
Mr. Robey was now assisted by Mr. Detweiler and, at least five
afternoons a week, some other old player. Andy Miller, who had captained
last year's team and led it to a 6-0 victory, arrived about this time
and took hold of the backs with good effect. Miller remained a few days
at a time and continued his visits right up to the final game. With him
occasionally came Hatherton Williams, last year's right tackle.
Williams, since Detweiler had the tackles in hand, confided his coaching
to Harris, Rollins and Freer and laboured hard and earnestly in an
effort to improve their drop-kicking. Harris was fairly good at it, but
Rollins was pretty poor and Freer was a veritable tyro. Other fellows
appeared now and then and tried to be of assistance, but it is doubtful
if they accomplished much good.

St. Clair had ousted Still permanently, it appeared, although Still was
by no means discouraged. Perhaps he had no time to be, for the
substitutes were worked quite as hard as the first string fellows. Coach
Robey had no intention of being beaten for the want of capable
substitutes. There were several very pretty contests in progress for
coveted positions. Churchill and Blaisdell were fighting hard for the
left guard honour, with Blaisdell in the lead, and Trow and Tyler were
nip and tuck for right tackle. The rival quarter-backs could scarcely be
said to be contesting for the position, for it was a foregone conclusion
that each would be used in the Claflin game. Marvin was a very steady,
dependable player on defence, handled punts and ran them back in better
style than Carmine and was never erratic. Carmine, however, though weak
in catching and likely to fumble at inopportune moments, had the faculty
of getting more speed out of the team and inspiring it to greater
effort. Both were good generals and each would be called on for what he
could best perform. Harris was sure of his place at full-back, and the
ends, Edwards and Roberts, were unchallenged. Jack Innes was a fixture
at centre and Hall, although he had played in hard luck this Fall, was
far superior to Gafferty, the second-string man. At left tackle Saunders
held his place without question.

So things stood on the Saturday when the 'varsity, with a long string of
substitutes, journeyed off to play Phillips School. Fully half the
school went, too, and "rooted" hard for a victory. Phillips had been
cleanly beaten last year, 12-0, and there was no reason to doubt that
today's contest would be any harder for Brimfield. At least, there was
no reason that Brimfield knew of. But for once coaches and team were
caught napping and Phillips proved a difficult problem to solve. In the
end Brimfield trotted off--perhaps limped off would be closer to the
truth--with Phillips' scalp, but the score was 16-14, which indicates
how closely defeat had hovered over the visitors. Only an almost
miraculous field-goal by Rollins, who had taken Harris' place at
full-back, in the third period, had saved Brimfield from disaster.

Brimfield had won two touchdowns, both in the first half of the game, by
the hardest sort of plugging. Every bit of generalship that Marvin knew
had been called on and every ounce of strength that the team was capable
of exerting had been necessary. Jack Innes had kicked the first goal
without difficulty from a rather bad angle and then had missed the
second, also without difficulty, from directly in front of the posts.
Meanwhile Phillips had scored once, getting the ball over on a smash
through right tackle from the seven yards, and had followed with a goal.
In the third period the home team had had things very much her own way,
for, although it had not managed to add to its score, it had held
Brimfield safe. The fourth quarter was also Phillips' up until the last
few minutes. A series of forward passes had carried Phillips from her
own forty yards to Brimfield's twenty, and from there two trick plays
had taken her to the twelve. Three line attacks had netted only six and
Brimfield's supports were sighing their relief when Phillips' apparent
attempt at a field-goal turned into a forward pass that landed safely in
the arms of a Phillips end and behind the line. Again Phillips kicked
goal, and, with some seven minutes to play, the score stood Phillips 14,
Brimfield 13, and it only remained for the home team to keep the
visitor away from her goal to hold the game. It was then, however, that
Brimfield had given another exhibition of her fighting spirit. Carmine
was put back at quarter, Rollins went in for Harris, and Thursby took
Captain Innes's place at centre. Carmine took many chances. There were
several lateral passes which made gains, two forward heaves that in some
unaccountable manner landed right, a number of end runs that helped, and
a desperate attack at the Phillips centre between these. And, almost
before anyone realised how things were going, Brimfield was besieging
the Phillips goal. She lost the ball on the twenty-six yards, recovered
it again on the forty-eight when Phillips punted short, pulled off a
double pass that sent Still spinning around left tackle for twelve
yards, hurled Rollins through centre for four more, sent a forward pass
to Edwards and was back again on the twenty-yard line. Phillips played
heroically. All her best defensive talent was back in line and she met
every onslaught with courage and skill. But Brimfield was not to be
denied, it seemed. Roberts was hurt and gave way to Holt at right end.
Saunders, who had been limping for some time, was taken out after a
pile-up and Tyler took his place. Freer was sent in for Wendell,
although the latter was still going strong. Freer brought instructions
from Coach Robey, perhaps, for there was a lot of whispering when he
reached the scene.

With the pigskin almost on Phillips' fifteen yards and only a minute or
two remaining it was up to Brimfield to pull off a score and do it
quickly. It was third down, with six to go, and Phillips was holding
better every minute. Rollins was sent back as if to drop-kick, but the
ball went to Freer and Freer banged his way into the opposing line for a
scant two yards. Churchill was hurt in that play and Blaisdell went back
again at left guard. Again the ball was passed to Rollins, and, standing
on the twenty-five yards and well to the left of the nearer post, he
dropped it over for as pretty a field-goal as had ever been seen by the
spectators. In such manner did Brimfield wrest victory from defeat, and
the maroon-and-grey banners waved exultantly. But the victory had cost
dearly, as was discovered when the casualties were counted. Saunders was
badly hurt, so badly that he was definitely out of the game for a
fortnight at the least; Roberts had injured his knee and would be of no
use for several days; and Churchill had sustained a pulled tendon in his
ankle. The two latter injuries were of minor importance, for Blaisdell
could fill Churchill's shoes for a week or so and Roberts would
doubtless be all right again for the Southby contest. But the damage to
Saunders meant more. Saunders was a good tackle--Detweiler declared
emphatically that he was the only good one in sight--and it wasn't easy
to find a fellow for his position. Tyler was the logical choice, and
Tyler went in, but the remaining aspirant, Crewe, was scarcely 'varsity
material, and in case of injury to Trow or Tyler the outlook would be
bad. Joe Detweiler pointed this fact out to Mr. Robey on the following
Monday, after watching Crewe's efforts.

"We can't count on Saunders coming back before the Cherry Valley game,
if he does then," said Mr. Detweiler. "Tyler's only fair and Trow is not
much better. As for Crewe, he won't make a good tackle before next year.
He doesn't sense it at all. We've got to find someone else, George. What
about the second? Haven't they got someone there we can grab and hammer
into a tackle? What about that fellow Thayer? Isn't that his name?"

"Thayer's promising," replied Mr. Robey. "Then there's Cupples. Cupples
has played longer. Thayer's new this Fall. Look them over, Joe, and
help yourself. Only 'Boots' will probably scalp you!"

"I've got a tough scalp," was the untroubled reply. "Anyway, we've got
to have at least one good tackle. Great Scott, George, you don't seem to
realise what we're up against. Why, Phillips went into Trow and Tyler
Saturday as if they were paper! They're old-style tackles, both of them.
No one's ever told them that the game has changed since the day when
tackles were just linemen! Here, I'm going over there and see what
'Boots' has got in his outfit."

There was no scrimmage with the 'varsity that afternoon, and Mr.
Boutelle was putting his second team through a hard practice when Joe
Detweiler appeared on the second's gridiron. "Boots" viewed his advent
with suspicion and joined him with a belligerent expression on his face.

"What are you doing over here, you spy?" he demanded. "Trying to get our
signals!"

"No, just looking," replied the other innocently.

"Looking at my tackles, maybe, eh! You tell George he can't have any of
them. How the dickens does he suppose I'm going to make a team if he
keeps pulling a man out every little while?"

"That what he's been doing!" asked Detweiler sympathetically, his hands
in his pockets and his gaze fixed speculatively on the squad that was
dashing past. "That's Thayer on this end, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," agreed "Boots" reluctantly. "Suppose you'd like him,
wouldn't you?"

"Well, you know the fix we're in over there, old man. Saunders is out of
it for a fortnight and Trow and Tyler haven't any ginger at all. We
might give him back to you next week, you know."

"Oh, yes, I know! You're likely to! What I'll get will be that fellow
Crewe. I don't want him, understand? I wouldn't have him on my team.
Look here, if you only want a tackle for a week or so, why don't you
take Robbins? He's a good man, Robbins."

"Is he? Which is Robbins?" Mr. Boutelle pointed him out. Detweiler shook
his head.

"Too straggly, 'Boots.' Try again. Either Cupples or Thayer, I guess it
will have to be. Sorry, you know."

"Oh, yes, you're plumb broken-hearted, aren't you?" asked "Boots" with
bitter sarcasm. As a relief to his feelings, he shouted pungent
criticism at Quarter-back Hinton. "Well," he said finally, "which do
you want and when do you want him?"

"I guess we'll take Thayer," was the answer, "Tell him to report
tomorrow, will you? Much obliged, old man."

"You're not welcome, confound you! Now get out of here! And tell George
this is the last player he gets from me this Fall!"

Detweiler departed, grinning, and "Boots" returned, grumbling, to his
charges and was so cross-grained for the rest of the practice that the
team wondered. Later, in the gymnasium, "Boots" approached Clint.

"Thayer, they want you on the 'varsity," he announced shortly. "Report
to Coach Robey tomorrow. And for goodness' sake show them that we know
football over here. You'll do well enough to hold your job over there, I
guess, if you'll just remember a few of the things I've tried to hammer
into you. If you don't you'll be dumped back on my hands again, and I
don't want you. I warn you right now that if you come back to me this
season you'll go on the bench. I won't have any castaways from the
'varsity working for me!"

"Yes, sir; thank you, Mr. Boutelle. I'll try my best, sir."

Mr. Boutelle's frowns diminished. "Well, that's all you can do, Thayer.
I'm sorry to lose you, and that's a fact. And I hope you'll make good."
Then he scowled again. "It means learning a new set of signals,
confound them!"

He went off, still grumbling, leaving Clint, attired principally in a
towel, a prey to very varied emotions.



Chapter XIX

Mr. Detweiler Instructs

"It isn't that I'm not tickled to death about getting on the 'varsity,"
explained Clint to Amy later, "but I'm mighty sorry to leave the second.
You see, a fellow gets sort of fond of the team."

"Fond!" jeered Amy. "You're positively foolish! It's a wonder you
wouldn't go into mourning!"

"And then, too," continued Clint, analysing his emotions for his own
satisfaction more than for Amy's benefit, "I'm scared. Suppose I don't
do well enough for them on the 'varsity, Amy. I'd feel pretty cheap if
they dropped me after a day or two, wouldn't I? 'Boots' swears he won't
have anything to do with me if I come back. I--sort of wish Robey had
chosen Cupples or Robbins. I really do!"

"Cheer up!" said Amy. "Faint heart ne'er won the 'varsity! I'll bet
you'll make 'em open their eyes, Clint, when you get there. One trouble
with you is that you're too modest. You need to have more--more faith in
yourself, old top. And don't take 'Boots' too seriously, either. If you
decide to return to his aggregation of world-beaters you'll find he'll
do a heap of scolding and then fall on your neck. But you won't do
anything of the sort. I'm no football connoisseur, whatever that is, but
I have a feeling, Clint, that you can play all around Trow and Tyler.
Besides, after Joe Detweiler gets hold of you he'll do wonders for you.
Joking aside, Clint, I'm awfully pleased. It's great! And--and it's so
mighty unexpected, too! That's what gets me! Of course, I've always
known you were bound to become famous some day, but I didn't suppose it
was going to happen so soon!"

"I didn't suppose it was going to happen at all," replied Clint rather
ruefully.

"And it's going to be fine for me, too," continued Amy with gusto.
"Think what it will mean to be the chum of a regular 'Greek'! 'Hats off,
fellows! Here comes Mr. Byrd! Good morning, Mr. Byrd. We trust we see
you well today? And how is Mr. Thayer? We hope that his knee has quite
recovered from its recent indisposition!'"

"You silly idiot!" laughed Clint.

"And then, Clint, think of following your meteoric career in the papers!
As I nibble at my toast of a morning I prop the New York _Herald_
against the water giraffe and read, spilling my coffee down my neck:
'The life of the party was Right Tackle Thayer. Seizing the elongated
sphere and tucking it under his strong left arm, Thayer dashed into the
embattled line of the helpless adversary. Hurling the foe right and left
and biting the Claflin quarter-back in the neck, he emerged triumphant
from the mêlée. Dodging the enemy's bewildered secondary defence, and
upsetting the umpire with a dull thud, our hero dashed down the field.
Line after line vanished behind his flying feet. Shod with the wings of
Mercury, he sped on and on and still on toward the far-distant goal
line. Cheers thundered from the encompassing stadium, met overhead,
broke and descended upon the head of the speeding runner in a shower of
fragmentary vowels and consonants. Still on and on went Right Tackle
Thayer. Friend and enemy were far behind. Victory stretched eager arms
toward him. With a last, gallant effort he plunged across the goal line
and fell unconscious beneath the cross-bar. At a given signal a wreath
of laurel descended from above and fitted about his noble brow. The
score: Thayer, 98; Claflin, 0!'"

"Just the same," muttered Clint, when he had stopped laughing, "I'm
scared. And I _do_ wish Robey had let me alone."

"Coward!" taunted Amy. "Quitter! Youth of chilly extremities!"

"I'll have to learn new signals, too. And that's a beast of a job, Amy."

"Sluggard! Lazy-bones! Dawdler!"

"Shut up! I wish it was you, by ginger!"

"If it was me," replied Amy, "do you think I'd be sitting there clasping
my hands agonisedly? Not much I wouldn't be sitting there handing my
clasp ango--Well, I wouldn't! I'd be out on the Row with my head up and
my thumbs in the pockets of my vest; only I haven't any vest on; and I'd
be letting folks know what had happened to me. You don't deserve the
honour of making the 'varsity in your fourth year, Clint. You don't
appreciate it. Why, look at poor old Freer. He's been trying to make
himself a regular for three years and he's still just a substitute!"

"That's what I'll be," said Clint. "You don't suppose, do you, that
they're going to put me in the first line-up?"

"Well, not for a day or two," answered Amy airily. "But after that
you'll be a regular feature of the day's entertainment. And, zowie, how
the second will lay for you and hand it to you! They'll consider you a
traitor, a renegade, a--a backslider, Clint, and they'll go after you
hard. Better lay in a full supply of arnica and sterilised gauze and
plaster, my noble hero, for you'll get yours all right, all right!"

"I don't see why they need to look at it that way," objected the other.
"I didn't _want_ to leave the second!"

"But they won't believe it, Clint. I'm sorry for you, but the path of
glory is indeed hard!"

It was.

And Clint frequently doubted during the next week that glory had
anything to do with it. When, on Tuesday afternoon, he reported to Mr.
Robey, that gentleman cast a speculative look over him, nodded and said
briefly: "See Mr. Detweiler, Thayer."

Clint sought the assisting coach. "Mr. Robey told me to report to you,
sir."

"Yes." Mr. Detweiler viewed him much as Coach Robey had, as though
trying to see not only what showed but what was inside as well. The only
difference was that Mr. Detweiler smiled. "Well, Thayer, now let's see."
He walked to the bench which the players were vacating, Clint following,
and seated himself. "Sit down a minute," he directed. And when Clint
was beside him he went on. "I really don't know much about your playing,
Thayer. We had to have a new tackle and I took you because I liked your
looks the other day. Maybe I ought to have taken one of the others. What
do you think?"

Clint smiled uncertainly. "I reckon I'm not a fair judge," he replied
after a moment's hesitation.

"I suppose not. But tell me, can you play tackle pretty well?"

"I've got along all right so far, I think. Of course, Cupples's been at
it longer than I have, Mr. Detweiler."

"What in your judgment is the biggest asset a tackle can have, Thayer?"

"Brains, sir."

"Hm; yes, that's so. Now, look here." Mr. Detweiler laid a hand on
Clint's knee. "There's a fine chance for a fellow who is willing to work
and learn on this team. If you'll make up your mind to it, you can go
right ahead and play tackle against Claflin. But you'll have to plug
like the dickens, Thayer. It won't be any picnic. I want a chap who is
willing to work hard; not only that, but who will take the goad without
flinching. Think you're the chap?"

"I reckon so," murmured Clint. "I'm willing, anyway, sir."

"You're not over-enthusiastic," laughed the coach, "but maybe that's
just as well. All right, you see what you can do. Get out there now with
the second squad. Try to show me that I made a good selection, Thayer.
And, by the way, I wish you'd drop around and see me this evening after
study. Can you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. I'll look for you, then. And bring that friend of yours along, if
he wants to come."

"Byrd?"

"Yes, that's his name, isn't it? Tell him I'll be honoured if he will
pardon the informality of the invitation and give me the pleasure of his
society from nine to ten. That's his style, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir." Clint smiled. "I think he will be very glad to come, sir."

"All right. Now get in there, Thayer, and set your mind on it. Show what
you can do. I expect you to make mistakes, boy; we can correct those;
but if I think for a moment that you're not trying--Well, we can't waste
time on you in that case, Thayer."

Clint reported to Carmine, who was personally conducting the substitutes
around the field. "Hello!" he greeted. "Tackle, you say? All right.
Follow along for awhile, will you? Now then, fellows, get this right!
Gafferty over! 36--41--17--8! 36--41--17--"

Clint tried to pick up the signals, but it was a hopeless task, and it
was not until Mr. Robey detailed one of the substitutes to teach him the
'varsity code that he was able to take part in proceedings. He went in
at right tackle for one of the two fifteen-minute periods and,
considering that he was still unfamiliar with the shifts and signals,
did very well. No one told him so, to be sure, but he knew without being
told, and emerged from the afternoon's practice thinking that perhaps,
after all, playing on the 'varsity was not such a difficult thing as he
had imagined it. But Clint's troubles hadn't begun yet.

That evening when he went in to supper he created an unintentional
diversion by proceeding, from force of habit, to the second team table.
It was only when he got there and found no seat awaiting him that it
dawned on him that he had made a mistake. The second team fellows broke
into a roar of laughter as Clint blankly surveyed them and, turning
hurriedly, made his way to the other end of the room. The rest of the
fellows sensed the situation after a moment and Clint passed table
after table of amused faces. Amy, grinning delightedly, reached far
across the board where he sat and, pointing at Clint with a baked potato
impaled on a fork, announced loudly: "A _contretemps_, Mr. Thayer, a
veritable _contretemps_!" Clint was blushing when he finally reached the
first of the tables occupied by the 'varsity players and found a vacant
chair. There, too, amused glances awaited him, and he was heartily glad
when Freer laughingly pulled him into the seat beside him.

They got a half-hour's leave from the Hall Master after supper, which
allowed them to remain out of the dormitory until half-past ten, and, as
soon as study hour was over, set out for the village and Mr.
Detweiler's. When they reached his room in the little boarding house
they found Mr. Boutelle there, but he left almost at once. Mr. Detweiler
made them comfortable, apologising for the unattractiveness of
his quarters.

"The fact is, fellows," he explained, "I didn't expect to stay over the
week when I came, and so brought nothing but a kit-bag. But Robey thinks
I ought to see him through, and, to tell the truth, I'm rather keen to
myself. You don't play the noble game of football, Byrd?"

"No, sir," replied Amy modestly. "You see, I developed at the wrong
end." He tapped his forehead significantly.

"That's hard on you and me, Thayer," laughed the coach. "Well, what do
you do for exercise?

"Tennis, some."

"He won the singles championship this Fall, sir," explained Clint.

"Really? That's fine. I'm a bit of a tennis enthusiast myself. Played on
the team three years in college. Some before that. Tennis was about the
only thing we specialised in when I was here. By the way, did you get
into difficulties over the disciplining of that fellow, whatever
his name is?"

"No, sir, we haven't heard anything from it yet. He'd hardly be likely
to say much, would he?"

"I fancy not. Have you met him since?"

"Oh, we see him every day. He rooms next door in Torrence."

"And what about the chap whose violin he broke?"

"Durkin? Oh, Penny's making about as much noise as before. He says the
fiddle he's using now isn't nearly as good as the one Dreer busted, but
I can't see much difference myself. Can you, Clint?"

Clint shook his head sorrowfully. "Sounds even louder to me," he said.

"I must drop around some time and hear him perform," laughed the coach.
"He must be something of a character." Amy agreed that he was, and
narrated two or three anecdotes concerning Penny to prove it. Mr.
Detweiler evidently found Amy's discourse amusing and drew him out until
he was in the full flood of his eloquence. But when they had been there
a half hour or so their host abruptly switched the conversation.

"I want to talk shop with Thayer a little," he announced. "You won't
mind, Byrd? There are some magazines in front of you if you like
to read."

"Thanks, I'll just listen, sir. It always amuses me to hear folks get
excited about football."

"Oh, we're not going to get excited, Byrd." Mr. Detweiler hitched his
chair around a trifle and faced Clint. "How did you get on today?"
he inquired.

"Fairly well, I reckon. I didn't know the signals very well. I don't
yet, for that matter."

"No, it'll take a day or two to forget the others and remember ours.
There are two or three things I noticed about your playing this
afternoon, Thayer, and I want to speak of them while they're fresh in
my mind. In the first place, you played too close to your guard on
defence as a general thing. Open up there and, above all, don't play
between opponents. I mean by that, don't try to get through on defence
between two men. Select one and play him. Usually it will be the outside
man, and your game is to put him against his inside man or side-step
him. As a general thing your position on defence is a foot or so outside
the opposing end player, although there are one or two formations when
that isn't so. Another thing I noticed was that, while you watched the
ball well, you were liable to let the other man get the jump on you. As
soon as the ball is snapped, Thayer, get busy with your arms. There are
two main factors in the playing of a tackle position. One is head and
the other is arms. Use your head all the time and your arms most of the
time. As soon as the ball is snapped, out with your arms, Thayer. Lunge
against the opponent. Get him first and hold him off until you can see
where the ball's going. Don't try to break through blindly. Hold him at
arm's length, keep your legs out of the way and then put him in or out,
as the case may be, and go through for the runner. If you can get your
arms on the other fellow _before_ the ball is snapped, do it, but don't
try it too long before or you won't be able to hold it. Try for the
neck and arm position. It's the best. You can swing a man either way if
you have that. If he gets under your arms and boxes you don't try to
push forward by main force, because you'll be only wasting your
strength. Back away and get around him.

"Of course, you know that the play is usually to charge your opponent
toward the centre. Play to get around the opposing end on the outside
and block the runner. If he finds you've got past and are waiting for
him he will likely turn in and try to get through nearer the centre of
the line, and the centre of the line is the hardest to gain through. So
'turn 'em in' is the regular rule, Thayer. On attack keep close to your
guard and help him on plays inside your position. Learn to work smoothly
with him. Usually you'll be able to settle between you whether you're to
help him or go out and help the end. It depends on the play and on how
strong the guard is. When you make a hole, make it clean; and don't stop
when it's made. Keep on playing until the ball is down. And don't trust
the horn for it, either. See it down yourself.

"When the runner is through the hole it's often up to you to say whether
he's to make three yards or thirty. Look for the man who's in position
to stop the runner and get to him and put him out of it. Play the game
every minute, Thayer. Be always on the lookout for trouble and try to
get a finger in it. And, another thing, and I've been dinning this into
the men all the week, don't slow down before tackling. Tackle hard,
Thayer. Put on a little extra steam at the last moment and smash into
it! Don't merely stop your man; anyone can do that; but put him back
when you hit him. Make him fall toward his own goal, and not toward
yours. Sometimes there's a difference of two yards right there. And
besides, and I say this because I know it to be so, there's nothing that
takes the starch out of a backfield man who is catching a punt or
running it in like knowing that he's going to be tackled hard. He has it
on his mind when he's catching the ball. He knows he's got to get it
right and hug it hard or he will lose it. And it's a dollar to a dime he
will get over-anxious and nervous. A team that tackles fiercely and for
keeps will have its opponents making fair-catches before the second half
starts. Well, that's enough for tonight. If I hurl too much wisdom at
you you won't remember any of it. Besides, Byrd over there is
yawning already."

"Oh, no, sir, I found your discourse most interesting," assured Amy.
"And I do hope our young friend will profit by the advice. I sometimes
think he shows real promise, Mr. Detweiler."

"Well, we'll hope he will later on show fulfilment, Byrd. I don't want
to frighten you, Thayer, but you're likely to hear all this stuff over
again, and a heap more like it. These little lectures of mine occur
frequently. I hope you weren't as bored as your friend here."

"No, sir, and I'll try to remember what you told me."

"In case you shouldn't I'll tell you again soon," laughed the coach.
"Rome wasn't made in a day nor a good tackle in one lecture. Now we'll
talk of something that Byrd can come in on."



CHAPTER XX

'VARSITY VS. SECOND TEAM

Saunders, who was going around on crutches those days, viewed the advent
of Clint on the 'varsity squad with misgiving, but he was very nice to
him whenever the opportunity occurred. The same was true of the older
candidates for the tackles positions, Trow, Tyler and Crewe. It was
evident to a blind man from the first that Coach Detweiler had made up
his mind that if such a thing were possible Clinton Thayer was to be
converted into a tackle of 'varsity calibre. Hence the other candidates,
especially those who had been practically certain of their positions,
could not be blamed for feeling a little resentment toward both Mr.
Detweiler and Clint. That they refrained from showing it was creditable.
But Clint felt it even if he didn't have optical or auricular evidence
of it and for the first few days at least experienced some embarrassment
and constraint.

But life was too busy to leave him much time for troubling about whether
or not Saunders and the others approved of his presence. His work was
cut out for him from the start. Mr. Detweiler was forever at his heels
and Mr. Detweiler's voice was forever raised in criticism or
instruction. More than once Clint felt like giving up. Toward the end of
that first week it seemed to him that the coach paid no heed to anyone
but just Clint Thayer and that nothing Clint Thayer did was ever quite
right! But he never did give up, however. He was often discouraged,
sometimes angry, always tired out when work was over, but he kept
on trying.

Mr. Detweiler dogged his footsteps every minute, or so it seemed to
Clint. Returning from practice the coach would frequently range himself
alongside and deliver one of his brief lectures. Sometimes he would
intercept him between locker and shower and tell him something he had
forgotten earlier. On Thursday evening Clint found him awaiting him in
Number 14 Torrence when he returned from supper, and, punctuated by
lugubrious wails from Penny Durkin's violin, the coach delivered a
twenty-minute lecture on "The Duties of a Tackle on Offence when the
Play is on the Other side of Centre." Clint got so he dreamed of
football and neglected his studies wofully until both Mr. Simkins and
Mr. Jordan remonstrated. In the Southby game, which was played at
Brimfield, Clint started in place of Trow at right tackle, with Tyler at
left. Offensively he showed up particularly well, but it must be
acknowledged that on the defence he was far from perfect. The Southby
left end was a clever player and Clint's efforts to out-guess that youth
were not very successful. Several times during the two periods in which
he played the runner went over or around Clint for good gains.
Considering it afterwards, it was a surprise to him that he had not been
taken out before he was. Perhaps, though, the fact that Brimfield scored
twice in the first period and so secured a lead that was never
threatened had something to do with it. Probably the coaches were
willing to sacrifice some yards of territory in exchange for experience
for the new tackle. At all events, when, at the commencement of the
third quarter, Clint's name was not in the line-up and Clint bundled
himself in a blanket and took his place on the bench, Mr. Robey paused
long enough to say: "Watch your game, Thayer. You did pretty well."

If Clint did not cover himself with glory, neither, for that matter, did
Trow, Tyler or Crewe, all of whom played at some time during the game.
With Saunders laid off, the tackle positions were the weakest spots in
the line. With most of the line attacks "skin tackle" plays, as they
were that year, the tackle positions should have been the strongest of
all. Only the fact that Southby was weak on offence saved Brimfield from
a beating. Blaisdell and Hall, and, later, Churchill and Gafferty were
forced to aid the tackles to such an extent that they were used up very
quickly. Tyler made the best showing that day of any of the tackles, but
even Tyler was by no means perfect. On forward passes to the opposing
end he utterly failed to get his man, and, since the same was true of
Trow on the other end, Southby made some alarming midfield gains by that
method, while it was Edwards who spoiled a touchdown for the visitors by
intercepting a forward pass on his five-yard line in the third period.
Southby went down in defeat to the tune of 17-3. As last year's score
had been Brimfield 39, Southby 7, there was little encouragement to be
discovered, especially as the Southby team was no better than, if as
good as, the former one. On the whole, that Saturday's contest was
rather disappointing, and when the Sunday morning papers announced that
Claflin had run rings around the strong Mendell Hall team, winning by a
score of 41-6, Brimfield's stock sank perceptibly.

There was a meeting of the coaches that Sunday evening at Mr. Robey's
room in the village. Mr. Robey, Mr. Boutelle, Mr. Detweiler, Andy Miller
and Jack Innes were present, and, although the school never learned what
was said or done, it was felt that strenuous measures had been decided
on. On Monday there was no scrimmage and most of the fellows who had
participated in Saturday's game to any extent were sent two or three
times around the track and then dismissed for the day. The rest were put
through a hard drill in fundamentals, the coaches looking glum and stern
and determined. Clint was not one of the fortunate exempts, but went
through the hardest afternoon he ever had. Of the tackles only Tyler was
absent. The rest of them were bullied and browbeaten and hustled for a
solid hour and a half until Clint, for one, scarcely knew whether he was
on his head or his heels.

It was rumoured around that afternoon that "S.O.S." calls had been sent
out in all directions and that the middle of the week would find an army
of assistant coaches on hand. The army failed to materialise, but by
Tuesday four specialists had joined the array of coaching talent and
there was an instructor for every position on the team. The practice
that afternoon was more grim and businesslike than ever before. No one
was admitted to that part of the field who was not either a member of
the team or a coach. There was thirty minutes of individual instruction,
twenty minutes of signal work, and finally two fifteen-minute scrimmage
periods with the second team. And what the 'varsity did to the second
that day was a pity! With seven coaches urging them on, the 'varsity
players performed desperately. The new plays to be used against Claflin
were tried out and worked well. The 'varsity scored two touchdowns in
the first period and one in the second, and kicked a field-goal when,
with only a minute left, it had reached the second team's eighteen
yards. On the other hand, the second failed to gain consistently inside
the 'varsity's danger zone and both of Martin's drop-kicks went wide.
The 'varsity's defence was better than it had been at any time that
Fall, and even the tackles showed up well.

Saunders had discarded crutches and managed a slow jog once around the
track that afternoon, and it was fully expected that he would be in
shape to get back to work the first of the next week. Clint and Tyler
played through most of that scrimmage, and Clint, unmercifully prodded
by Detweiler--and anyone else who happened to think of it--showed real
form on defence. He was opposed to Captain Turner, of the second, and
Turner was a crafty end. That Clint was able, more than once, to get
around Turner and stop the runner well behind the line spoke well for
him. On forward passes, too, he used his head and twice managed to get
to the receiver and spoil the play. It was a tired lot of boys who
tramped back to the gymnasium that Thursday afternoon at dusk, and there
were many bruises to be seen to, for the two teams had battled as
fiercely as though they had been the deadliest enemies. Clint fell
asleep in the middle of study hour with his head on his Latin book, and
Amy sympathetically let him slumber.

On Friday, contrary to established custom, practice was hard as ever and
the scrimmage with the second was drawn out to forty minutes of actual
playing time. The game with Cherry Valley on the morrow was not looked
on as a difficult one and it was noised about that Coach Robey meant to
put in a full set of substitutes in the second half. The Varsity was
severely tested in defence that day. Five times the second was given
the pigskin inside the 'varsity's fifteen-yard line and instructed to
take it across by rushing and four times they failed. The fifth time,
with the ball on the three yards, they were given two extra downs and
finally piled through Tyler for the last needed six inches. Tyler went
out after that, pretty well worsted, and Trow took his place. Clint had
escaped damage so far, but had been called on to repel many an attack,
and was glad enough when time was called and they were allowed to return
to the bench for a five-minute intermission.

After the rest--if it could be called a rest when seven coaches were
criticising and instructing every minute--the scrimmage developed into
straight football. The second kicked off and, after the 'varsity had
failed to get its distance in three downs, Harris fell back to punt.
Harris was a left-foot kicker and was accustomed to taking a pretty long
stride to the left side before he swung. He was very deliberate about
it, too, and the line had to hold hard and long in order to enable him
to get the ball off safely. When it did go it went well and accurately,
but in the present instance it didn't go. Cupples, of the second, had no
difficulty in getting through Trow, and it was Cupples who knocked the
ball down just as it left Harris' foot. Fortunately Marvin fell on the
pigskin for a fifteen-yard loss.

Harris raged and sputtered and the coaches stood over the unfortunate
Trow and read him the riot act. But two minutes later the same thing
happened again, although on this occasion Cupples only tipped the ball
with his upstretched fingers. There was a hurried conference of the
coaches and Clint was yanked out of the right side of the line and put
in place of Trow, the latter going to left tackle. Mr. Robey demanded a
punt at once in order to test the new arrangement and Cupples, grinning
wickedly at Clint, prepared to repeat his act. But Cupples had the
surprise of his life, for the first thing he knew Clint's right hand was
on the side of his neck and Clint's left hand was under his armpit and
he found himself thrust around against his guard. And that was as near
to breaking through as Cupples came for the rest of the scrimmage.

Four coaches thumped Clint on the back and excitedly praised him, and
Clint felt suddenly that to defeat the wicked machinations of the
ambitious Cupples was the biggest thing in life. After that it was a
battle royal between them, Cupples using every bit of brain and sinew he
possessed to outwit his opponent and Clint watching him as a cat
watches a mouse and constantly out-guessing him and "getting the jump"
time after time. Cupples had a bleeding lip and a smear of brown earth
down one cheek and was a forbidding looking antagonist, and for hours
after practice was over Clint had only to close his eyes to visualise
the angry, intense countenance of his opponent. Had Clint but known it,
he was not a very pretty object himself just then. Someone's boot had
rubbed the skin from his left cheek and the blood had caked there, well
mixed with dirt, until he looked quite villainous.

The 'varsity scored twice by straight football and once by the use of
tricks which were designed to outwit Claflin a week later. The second
managed a field-goal from the fifteen yards. Toward the end the 'varsity
used substitutes freely, but Clint played through to the last, emerging
with many an aching bone, a painful shortness of breath and a fine glow
of victory. Mr. Detweiler, red-faced and perspiring, caught him on the
side line as he dragged his tired feet toward the blanket pile. "All
right, Thayer?" he asked anxiously.

"Yes, sir," panted Clint.

"Good! Get in as soon as you can and have a good rub. You played real
football, boy, and I'm proud of you! Keep it up!"

"You bet I will!" murmured Clint to himself, as he turned toward the
gymnasium. "I'll show Cupples that he can't come through me, the
big guy!"

Ten minutes later, refreshed by his shower, he ran into Cupples outside
the door to the rubbing room. Cupples, a piece of surgeon's plaster
adorning his lip, grinned. Clint grinned back.

"Some game," he said.

"Was it!" agreed Cupples. "Clint, you've got the rest of them all backed
off the map! Saunders hasn't a thing on you, old man, and I've played
against him and know. I hope they keep you there."

"Thanks, Cupples, but if the Claflin chap is any tougher than you are I
guess Saunders is welcome to his job whenever he wants it back."

"Well, say," chuckled the other, "we had a good time, didn't we?"

"Great!" assented Clint.

And, he reflected as he went on, now that it was all over so they had!



CHAPTER XXI

THE LETTER THAT WASN'T WRITTEN

The Cherry Valley game came off the next afternoon, and the school
turned out with songs and cheers and marched across to the gridiron to
watch the last contest before the final and supreme test. It was a cold,
cloudy day, with a biting northeast wind sweeping down the field. Most
of the assisting coaches had gone away over the week-end, Mr. Robey and
Andy Miller had journeyed to Claflin to see the game there and Mr.
Detweiler was left in charge at home. Cherry Valley had been defeated
27-6 last year and was not looked on as at all dangerous. Her team was
light in weight and looked even less competent than it proved, since
whatever might have been said in criticism of it, it was fast. Brimfield
started the game with her best foot forward. With the exception of Clint
at left tackle, the line-up consisted of first-string players. Tyler
played in his old place at right tackle. Brimfield was not to show
anything in the way of new plays, in case Claflin had thought it worth
while to send scouts, and to that extent the Maroon-and-Grey was
handicapped.

The first period ran along without a score on either side. Brimfield
couldn't seem to get started. There was more fumbling on both sides than
was necessary, even when the wind was taken into consideration, and each
team lost the ball twice at critical moments. Brimfield worked down to
the Cherry-Red twenty-two yards, lost a couple of yards by a fumble,
tried the left end for no gain and essayed a goal from the field. But
distance and wind were too much for Harris. After that there was much
punting on Cherry Valley's part, evidently in the hope that a Brimfield
back would fumble. And Brimfield backs did fumble, for the wind made
certain judgment of kicks impossible, but fortunately the ball was
recovered each time without much loss. The first period ended with the
ball in midfield in Cherry Valley's possession.

Carmine went in for Marvin, since, with the wind against her, Cherry
Valley would not be likely to do much punting and Carmine's backfield
unsteadiness would not count. He managed to get more speed into the
Maroon-and-Grey and toward the end of the period two long punts, poorly
returned, put her within scoring distance. On the thirty yards
Brimfield uncorked her real offence and Kendall and Harris and St. Clair
hammered the line and skirted the ends and finally plugged through for a
hard-earned touchdown. The punt-out was missed and so Brimfield was not
able to add a 1 to the 6.

Thirty seconds after the kick-off Carmine faked a forward pass and
started around his own left end and, eluding most of the Cherry Valley
team by some of the best dodging that had been seen that season, put the
pigskin back on the Red's twenty-four yards. A forward pass, Harris to
Edwards, gained eight, and Harris made it first down past left tackle.
Kendall worked the centre for three and Harris romped around the right
for six more. Carmine plunged through centre for the distance. Harris
went back as if to kick and the ball shot to St. Clair and that elusive
youth fairly streaked across the field and, finding a hole, shot through
and over the line for the second score. This time Innes kicked the goal
and the tally was 13-0. There was no more scoring in that period,
although Cherry Valley sent the spectators' hearts into their throats by
getting a back off away on a long run down the side of the field which,
but for a splendid tackle by Kendall, would have resulted in a
touchdown. With the pigskin in Cherry Valley's possession on the home
team's sixteen yards the half ended.

Mr. Detweiler and "Boots" scolded and threatened during half-time. The
team had played, declared the latter, like a lot of helpless idiots.
What was the matter with them? Did they think they were there to loaf?
For two cents Mr. Boutelle would yank the whole silly bunch off the
field and finish the game with the second team! He would, by Ginger!

After that Mr. Detweiler more quietly pointed out some dozen or fifteen
of the most glaring faults displayed and read a new line-up. With the
exception of Clint, Hall, Carmine and Tyler every fellow was new. "And
now," said Mr. Detweiler, "let's see what you can do this half. Do
something, anyway! Stop loafing! If you can't play football, wave your
arms and make a noise!"

Brimfield wisely chose to play a kicking game at the beginning of the
third period, since, with the wind behind her, Freer's high corkscrews
were particularly effective. Freer didn't try for much distance with his
punts. What he did was to send them well into the air and let the wind
do the rest. The result was that the pigskin sailed down the field for
anywhere from thirty-five to fifty yards and came down in the most
unexpected places. Cherry Valley very sensibly made no effort to run
back punts, but signalled a fair-catch every time, which made it easier
for the Brimfield ends and tackles, since they, no more than the enemy,
could tell where the erratic ball was going to descend. Cherry Valley
attempted to run the ends and succeeded now and then, punting only on
fourth down when everything else had failed. After a dozen plays
Brimfield had gained half the distance to the Red's goal without having
put her new backfield to the test. There, however, a fumble by Still
changed the complexion of things, for the ball was recovered by a tall
Cherry Valley guard and that youth eluded the opponents and carried the
pigskin past the centre of the field and was pulled down on Brimfield's
forty-two yards by Carmine.

That seemed to give the visitors the encouragement they had lacked, for
they at once started in with a bewildering set of fast criss-crosses and
double-passes and so deceived the substitute backfield that they made two
first downs before a halt was called. Then, with six yards to go on
third down, the Red pulled off a forward pass of startling length and
precision and the catcher was run out at the Maroon-and-Grey's
twenty-five-yard line. Cherry Valley tried Brimfield's left end and
gained four, slid off Clint for three more, tried the same place again
and was stopped for no gain and punted short and across field to Carmine
on his eight yards.

Carmine slipped past the Red's left end and started on a wide run,
looking for a chance to cut in. But advance was blocked thoroughly and
he was finally down on his ten-yard line. A plunge by Rollins gained two
and Freer got past the right tackle for three more. Then Freer was sent
back to his goal line to punt. Thursby, at centre, passed low, and Freer
was hurried, with the result that the ball went almost straight into the
air, was caught by the wind and landed out of bounds at Brimfield's
eighteen yards. Cherry Valley started in again with grim determination.
A weak spot was discovered at right guard, where Gafferty was in Hall's
place, and two gains were made there, bringing the pigskin to the twelve
yards. Another attempt, this time on Tyler, produced two more. With two
to go on fourth down, Cherry Valley elected to kick and her right
half-back, who performed the drop-kicking, fell back to the
eighteen yards.

The ball was opposite the left-hand goal post and a three-point tally
appeared inevitable. Carmine and Still, the latter acting-captain in
Jack Innes's absence, implored the forwards to block the kick. There was
an instant of comparative silence, broken only by the quarter's hoarse
voice as he gave the signal, and then the two lines heaved at each other
and the ball sped back to the kicker. His eyes sought the goal, the ball
dropped, his leg swung and through the din of cries and the rasping of
canvas came the thud of foot and ball. But it was followed by another
thud, the hollow sound of the pigskin striking the chest of the
Maroon-and-Grey's left tackle, and back up the field bounded the ball.
Clint had chosen the opposing tackle as his prey, had swung him out and
broken through somehow between him and guard. A half-back had thrown
himself in his way, but Clint had staggered over or past him and leaped
desperately into the path of the ascending ball. He had felt the
resounding smack of it under his chin and, recovering from the force of
the impact, had, even as he found his feet again, seen it bound away
past the frantic kicker, seen that youth go down under the sturdy Holt,
and had started instantly in pursuit. Behind him thudded friend and foe,
from one side darted the Cherry Valley quarter-back. The ball was
wobbling left and right a dozen yards away. Clint strove to put himself
in the way of the quarter, but that player, with a burst of speed, ran
free and dived for the ball. Clint toppled on top of the quarter. And
then, just how he never knew, he had the ball snuggled under his chest,
the quarter ineffectually seeking a hold on it!

"Brimfield's ball!" announced the referee, heeling. "First down right
here!"

That was Cherry Valley's last threat. Later, in the fourth quarter, she
reached the Maroon-and-Grey's twenty-seven yards but was forced to punt
after two attempted forward passes had failed. Brimfield secured two
more touchdowns, one in each period, and twice failed at field-goals,
Rollins's drop-kicking proving far from first-class. Freer took the ball
over for the first score in the second half, and Marvin, who replaced
Carmine toward the end of the last period, squirmed through from the
four yards for the second. Freer failed to convert his touchdown into a
goal, but Marvin very neatly added a point to his, and the final score
read Brimfield, 26; Cherry Valley, 0; which was a more satisfactory
result than last year's.

The school showed a strong disposition to lionize Clint for his blocking
of Cherry Valley's drop-kick, and when he entered the dining hall that
evening he received more applause than, any of the other players. It was
his first experience of being clapped to his seat and he found himself
heartily wishing that the 'varsity training-tables had been located
nearer the door!

The football mass-meeting that night was enthusiastic to a degree, and
even the news that Claflin had beaten Larchville that afternoon 11 to
failed to dampen the fervour of the songs and cheers that rang through
the hall. It was recalled that a year ago Larchville, who had then held
the same position on Claflin's schedule, had defeated the latter 12 to
6, and that subsequently the best Brimfield had been able to do with
Claflin was 6 to 0. Consequently it would seem that Claflin was stronger
this year than last. Unfortunately, however, Brimfield had not played
Larchville this season, owing to the fact that Larchville, having beaten
Brimfield 17 to 3 last year, had insisted that the next meeting should
be at Larchville, an arrangement Brimfield had not been willing to
consent to. For this reason it was not possible to compare the strength
of Brimfield and Claflin with any certainty. Andy Miller, who was
prevailed on to address the mass-meeting, declared it to be his
conviction that Claflin had a slightly stronger team than she had had
last Fall.

"I think," he explained, "that it is a little more evenly developed. She
is surer in all departments than she was a year ago. Like us, the Blue
started the season with five of her old men in the line-up, and, like
us, she had a good crowd of substitutes to pick from. Her captain and
quarter-back, Ainsmith, is one of the best in the game today, and in her
full-back, Atkinson, whom you probably remember, she has another star.
Her halves are new men, but they're fast and hard to stop. In the line,
tackle to tackle, I think we'll even up with them. As for our ends, I
believe we can show better goods than they can, although Mumford, who
played with them last year, is a very good man. I'm not telling you this
to discourage you, for I firmly believe we're going to win, but I don't
want you to think that it's going to be a walk-over, for it isn't, not
by any manner of means. We've got to work hard and use everything we
know if we're to have the long end of the score a week from today.
That's what our team has got to do. As for you fellows, you've got to
stand right up behind it every minute and make it feel that you have
confidence in it. I can't be here to see the game myself; I wish I
could; but I fully expect to take up the paper a week from tomorrow
morning and read that Brimfield has turned the trick again. And I expect
to read, too, that a notable feature of the contest was the
whole-souled, hearty support given the Maroon-and-Grey by their fellows!
That's all I've got to say to you. The team's going to do its part. You
do yours."

The next day dawned fair and warm, with an almost imperceptible haze in
the atmosphere, a veritable Indian summer day if ever there was one.
After dinner, a rather more hearty meal than was served to the football
players on week-days, Clint went back to his room with the noble
intention of writing a fine long letter to his father and mother. There
had been complaints from Cedar Run of late to the effect that Clint's
epistles were much too brief. Today he resolved to send at least eight
pages. He would tell them all about the fine weather and yesterday's
game--mentioning quite incidentally his own part in it--and the football
spirit that prevailed throughout the Academy and--and--About this time
Clint found himself smothering a yawn and viewing distastefully the
writing pad in front of him. Through the open windows came the sound of
voices borne on the still, soft air, and he pushed back his chair and
wandered to the casement. Across the field the Autumn woods were brown
and sunlit and their depths filled with a purple haze. Boys were
strolling in couples and groups across the yellowing turf. After a
minute Clint went back to the table, looked indecisively at the still
clean sheet of paper awaiting his pen, picked up his cap from the chair
and, with a guilty backward glance, stole out of the room. He felt very
much as though he was playing hookey, a feeling which perhaps naturally
increased his pleasure as he ran down the stairs and issued forth on
the Row.

Penny Durkin was seated on the steps with a text-book in hand, but Clint
noted that Penny's gaze was fixed on the distance. The fact acted as a
salve for Clint's conscience. If Penny couldn't study today, Penny who
had been known to play his fiddle even while he stuffed Greek or Latin
or mathematics, surely no one else could rightfully be expected to fix
his mind on letter-writing! Clint halted a moment on the walk and
Penny's gaze and thoughts came back from afar and he blinked up at
the other.

"Hi!" said Penny dreamily.

"Hi," returned Clint.

"Warm, isn't it?"

"Yes, great."

"I thought I'd study a little, but I guess I was almost asleep."

"Day-dreaming," suggested Clint. There was a moment's silence, during
which an odd idea occurred to Clint. He didn't much care to walk by
himself, and he didn't know where to look for Amy or any of the other
fellows who might care to join him. Why not, then, ask Penny Durkin?
Before he had thoroughly weighed the merits of the scheme he found
himself making the suggestion.

"Come on for a walk, Durkin," he said. "Bring your old book along if you
like. We'll find a place in the woods and, as Amy says, commune
with Nature."

Penny looked first surprised and then pleased, and, "I'd love to," he
said. So they set off together around the corner of Torrence and past
the little brick building which held the heating plant and made off
across the field. The sun was gloriously warm and the air was like that
of a June day, and after the first minute or two of progress they
discovered that they had no inclination toward hurrying, that, in short,
they felt decidedly lazy and drowsy, and that the sooner they reached
that place in the woods where they were to commune with Nature the
pleasanter it would be.

Conversation was fitful. Penny spoke hesitantly of Clint's good work in
yesterday's game, ventured a vague prediction that Brimfield would win
from Claflin on Saturday and then seemed to fall asleep. Clint made no
effort to arouse him and presently they climbed over the stone wall that
divided the school property from the woodland and made their way through
the trees until they were half-way up the slope. There, in the lee of an
outcropping grey ledge of weathered granite, they subsided on a bed of
leaves with sighs of contentment. Through the nearer trees and above the
more distant ones, they could see the further side of the field and the
sunlit buildings.

"I reckon," said Clint, propping his shoulders against a convenient
surface of the ledge, "this is the place we were looking for. Now, bring
on your Nature and we'll commune."

"I used to come up here when I was a First Former," said Penny. "Two or
three of us kids would sneak stuff from dining hall and build a fire
back of this rock and picnic. One day we went off and forgot about the
fire and that night someone looked over and saw a blaze and they had to
fight it for almost an hour with brooms and buckets of water. We had a
fine time! Everyone turned out. We never told what we knew about it,
though!" And Penny smiled reminiscently.

"You're in the sixth form this year, aren't you?" asked Clint.

"Yes, this is my last year."

"And you've been here five already!" Clint marvelled. "My, that's a long
time, isn't it? You'll feel queer, won't you, when you don't come back
next Fall?"

Penny nodded soberly. "It'll be--funny," he agreed. "I don't suppose
you'll quite understand it, Thayer, but--well, this school is more like
a real home than any other place I know. You see, my mother died a long
while ago; I was just a toddler then; and my father married again. Then,
when I was eleven, he died and now I live with my stepmother and her
brother. He's not a bad sort of man, Uncle Steve. I just call him uncle,
of course. But my stepmother never liked me much, and then, besides,
father didn't leave much money when he died and she sort of feels that
she can't afford to pay my education. I've always had to fight to get
back here every year. Uncle Steve helped me some, but he's kind of
scared of ma and doesn't dare say much. That's why school seems like
home. When I go back to Parkerstown it's more like going on a visit than
going home. And after this year it's going to seem funny, unless I go
to college."

"But you are going, aren't you?" asked Clint anxiously.

"If I can. Mr. Fernald says he's hoping to get me a scholarship that
will pretty nearly see me through my freshman year, but there's nothing
certain about it, because there are always a lot of folks after those
scholarships and there aren't very many of them. I guess that's about
the only way I'll manage it."

"I do hope you get it," said Clint with genuine sympathy. "I suppose you
couldn't--couldn't find any way to work through, Durkin."

"I've thought of that. I don't know. I've done pretty well here, buying
and selling all kinds of things. You wouldn't think there'd be much
money in it, would you? But since my second year I've done a lot of it
and made nearly enough each year to pay my tuition. That's the only way
I've been able to stay. I guess ma argued that I'd cost her less at
school, making most of the money myself, than I would at home. Fellows
sometimes call me a 'Yankee' and a 'Shylock' and things like that
because I try to get all the money I can for a thing. But I've never
cheated anyone; and--and I've really needed the money. But I don't
believe a fellow could do that in college. There might be another way,
though. I've heard of fellows making a lot of money in college."

"Seems to me," said Clint, "it's your step-mother's duty to look after
you and pay for your schooling. It's your father's money she's using,
isn't it?"

"Yes, but there's not a great deal of it, I suppose. I never knew how
much he did leave. And ma's fond of nice things and it costs a good deal
to live, I guess. Oh, if I can get that scholarship I'll be all right.
You see, though, don't you, why I didn't want to scrap with Dreer? It
might have just queered everything for me."

"Yes, I see," asserted Clint. "You did the right thing. You'd have been
mighty silly to risk it, Durkin. What about playing? You--you play
pretty well, don't you? Couldn't you make any money that way?"

"No." Penny shook his head. "I don't play well enough. You see, I've
kept thinking that some day I'd be able to get instruction, but I never
have yet; except a few lessons a fellow in Parkerstown gave me one
Summer. I just scrape; that's all."

"I've always thought," fibbed Clint stoutly, "that you played finely!"

"I've always thought I could if I'd had instruction," replied Penny
wistfully. "I sort of love it. Maybe some day--" His voice dwindled into
silence, and for several minutes the two boys, each busy with their
separate thoughts, stared through the bare branches up to the blue
afternoon sky. They were aroused from their dreaming by the sound of
voices and rustling of leaves under the feet of the speakers. Clint,
peering around, saw Harmon Dreer, and another boy whom he didn't know by
sight, climbing the slope toward them.



CHAPTER XXII

DREER LOOKS ON

"There's Dreer now," said Clint softly.

"And Beaufort," added Penny.

"Who's he?"

"He lives the other side of the village. His father owned a lot of land
around here and made heaps of money selling it off. They call him 'Babe'
Beaufort; this fellow, I mean, not his father; probably because he's
so big."

"He looks like a walrus," commented Clint. Further confidences were
impossible, for the approaching couple were now within earshot and had
caught sight of the boys by the rock. Dreer spoke to Beaufort softly and
the latter turned a quick, curious look toward the boys under the ledge.
Then, without speaking, they passed on up the hill and out of sight
amongst the trees. Penny gave a sigh of relief.

"He's a scrapper, and I thought maybe Dreer would try to start
something," said Penny.

"Who is? Beaufort?"

[Illustration: "No, he won't!" exclaimed Clint, jumping to his feet]

"Yes, he's a sort of village bully. He's been in trouble two or three
times. His father has so much money 'Babe' thinks he's the whole thing
in Brimfield. He and Hatherton Williams had a row in front of the
post-office a couple of years ago and it took the whole police force to
separate them."

"What does the Brimfield police force consist of?" asked Clint with a
laugh. "One constable with a tin star?"

"Two," replied Penny, smiling. "We were sorry the cops butted in, for
Williams would have given him a fine licking, I guess. He's just the
sort of chap Dreer would naturally take up with."

"Listen!" commanded Clint. "They're coming back, I guess."

Someone was certainly approaching down the hill. Penny frowned.

"If it is they," said Clint anxiously, "don't have any words with them,
Durkin."

"Not me," replied Penny resolutely. "Can't afford to."

Just then Dreer and his friend came into sight. Clint watched hopefully.
They were headed straight down the slope and he was just going to lean
his head back against the rock again when Beaufort suddenly hunched his
shoulders and turned angrily toward Clint and Penny. "Here!" he
shouted. "What did you do that for?"

"Do what?" asked Clint in genuine surprise as Beaufort and Dreer, the
latter a good pace behind, strode toward them through the trees.

"You know what," replied "Babe" Beaufort with an ugly scowl that
increased his resemblance to a ferocious walrus. "You shied a stone at
me!" His eyes, however, fixed themselves on Penny.

"Shied a stone!" exclaimed Clint incredulously. "Why, we haven't moved.
Besides, there aren't any stones around here. And we couldn't have
thrown one through the trees if we'd tried."

"You keep out of this," said Beaufort. "When I want a lawyer I'll hire
one. This fellow here threw it and I saw him."

"Oh, no, you didn't," contradicted Clint, "for I was looking and your
head was turned away until you jumped. There wasn't any stone thrown,
and you know it. You're just trying to pick a scrap, Beaufort."

"Call me a liar, do you? I'll attend to you when I'm through with this
long-haired galoot!" Beaufort contemptuously kicked Penny's shoe.

"Get up and fight, you! You can't shy rocks at me and get away with it!"

Penny had so far said nothing, but, although there was a gravely amused
smile on his thin face, his eyes held a dangerous sparkle.

"It can't be done, Beaufort," he answered. "I'm not fighting today. You
come around the day after school closes in the Spring and I'll talk
with you."

"You're a coward," sneered the big youth. "You'll either get up and
fight or I'll kick you down the bank!"

Clint was too angry now to remain longer diplomatic. "You're a fine one,
Dreer," he declared hotly. "Why don't you fight your own battles and not
bring a hired bully to do it for you?"

"Hired bully!" exploded Beaufort, who was working himself into a fine
imitation of a rage. "For two cents I'd knock your head off, you
fresh kid!"

Harmon Dreer only smirked. "It's no business of mine," he said. "If you
fellows throw stones you've got to take the consequences, Thayer."

"When we do, we will, but you know well enough we didn't throw a stone,
Dreer. You're picking on Durkin because Byrd knocked you down the other
day. Why don't you go after him if you want trouble?"

"You keep out of this," said Beaufort. Then, turning to Penny again,
"Will you get up and take your licking?" he demanded.

"No, he won't!" exclaimed Clint, jumping to his feet. "If you've got to
fight someone, you fight me, you big overgrown bully!"

"Shut up, Thayer." Penny pulled his long length from the ground. "This
is none of your business."

"I'm making it my business," replied Clint hotly. "You keep out of it,
Durkin. I'll look after this fellow. If he wants a scrap he can have
it." Clint peeled off his coat and tossed it aside.

But Penny calmly and good-naturedly thrust him away. "It's my row,
Thayer," he said. "Thanks, just the same." He took off his coat and
vest, exposing a pair of purple cotton suspenders. "Throw those down
somewhere, will you? Look out for the watch in the vest."

"Don't be a fool, Durkin," begged Clint. "You can see it's a put-up job!
Let me attend to it, won't you?"

Penny shook his head. "No, I've got to do it," he answered. He turned to
Dreer. "Will you promise to keep mum about this?" he asked. "If you
don't promise, I won't fight."

"It's nothing to me," muttered Dreer, maintaining a safe position.

"All right. Remember that. If I ever find you've spoken of it I'll half
kill you, Dreer!"

"I guess I'd have something to say about that," said Dreer, blustering
weakly. Beaufort cut in impatiently.

"Aw, stow the gab!" he said. He tossed his coat aside and skimmed his
cap after it. "Come on, you runt, and take your medicine!"

For answer Penny sprang forward and landed a blow on Beaufort's shoulder
that almost upset him because of its unexpectedness. Beaufort grunted
angrily and swung back. But Penny was quick on his feet and handy with
his arms and the blow was blocked, and Beaufort's jab with his left fell
short. There was little space between the trees and the ledge, and what
there was was uneven and covered with leaves which made the footing
uncertain. It was long-distance sparring for a minute, during which time
the two boys, watching each other intently, stepped back and forth
across the little clearing, feinting and backing.

Beaufort looked to be fully eighteen and was heavily built, with wide
shoulders and hips and a deep chest. Clint, studying him, felt that one
of his blows from the shoulder, if it landed, would be more than enough
for poor Penny. Penny was of the same apparent age, but he was thin and
fragile looking beside the other. And yet he was certainly quicker of
movement and had an advantage in reach, and there was a certain careful
precision about Penny's movements that encouraged Clint. Dreer had moved
well away from the scene and was looking on with eager, excited face, a
cruel smile twisting his thin lips.

Suddenly Beaufort lunged forward with his right and then shot his second
under Penny's guard. The blow sent the latter staggering against a tree.
Fortunately, though, it had landed on his ribs, and after the first
instant of breathlessness, during which he managed to side-step further
punishment, he showed no damage. Again Beaufort feinted and swung, but
this time Penny sprang back out of the way. Then, before the other could
recover, he went into him, left, right and left again, and Beaufort gave
way. Only one blow took effect, but that reached the bigger boy's face
and brought a veritable howl of rage from him. Like a windmill, thick
arms swinging, he bored in to Penny. The latter retreated, guarding
well, but Beaufort's blows were heavy ones, the ground was slippery
with fallen leaves, and Penny, missing his footing, measured his length,
his head narrowly escaping collision with a tree as he fell. With a
grunt of triumph, Beaufort sprang toward him and aimed a blow. But
Clint, boiling with rage, dashed between.

"Let him up!" he cried.

"Get away!" growled Beaufort, leading at Clint. Clint swung his
shoulders aside and the blow passed harmlessly. Penny scrambled to
his feet.

"My fight, Beaufort!" he panted. "Let him alone!"

Beaufort turned to Penny again, and again they went at it. It was
in-fighting now. Short, quick jabs for the face and head followed each
other in rapid succession. Then they clinched, Beaufort's stout right
arm holding Penny against him and his left fist seeking lodgment against
Penny's face. But Penny, squirming, kept his head down and the blows
fell harmlessly on his skull. Then, wrenching himself free, Penny
stumbled out of the way, pale and dizzy. Beaufort plunged toward him
again wildly. Penny stood still then. A feint at the stomach, and
Beaufort for an instant dropped his guard. Then, and it all happened too
quickly for Clint to follow, Penny's left shot out, there was a grunt
from Beaufort, another lightning-like blow straight from Penny's
shoulder and the bully went down on his back, one big leg waving in air
as he tumbled. And in the same instant a voice, cold and measured, broke
the stillness.

"Durkin! That's enough of that!"

Mr. Daley and Mr. Conklin stepped onto the scene.



CHAPTER XXIII

CLINT HAS STAGE-FRIGHT

The instructor and the physical director had approached without a sound
of warning, and Penny, Clint and Dreer, the latter exhibiting an evident
desire to efface himself, stared in surprise for a moment. And at the
same time Beaufort, raising himself weakly on one elbow, gazed
bewilderedly from Penny to the faces of the newcomers.

"I'm not through," he muttered thickly. "Wait--a minute!"

"I think you are through, Beaufort," said Mr. Daley coldly. "Pick up
your coat, please, and put it on. Durkin, do the same."

Silently they obeyed, Mr. Conklin helping the dazed Beaufort to his
unsteady feet. He had a bleeding nose and one eye looked far from its
best. For his part, Penny, although evidently distressed, showed only a
bruised cheek.

"Don't go, Dreer," said Mr. Daley. Dreer halted in his elaborately
uninterested departure. "Now, then, boys, what does this mean? Don't
you know that fighting is barred here? And don't you think that, if you
had to try to kill each other like two wild animals, you might--er--have
chosen some day other than the Sabbath?"

No one had any reply to make. "Well," continued the instructor in his
careful way, "why don't you--er--say something? Who began this and what
was it about?"

"Durkin shied a stone at us as we were going down the hill," said Dreer,
"and when we told him to stop it he--he wanted to fight."

"That was the way of it, Beaufort?"

"Aw, find out," growled Beaufort. "I don't have to account to you for
what I do."

"Keep a civil tongue, Beaufort," counselled Mr. Conklin, "or it may
prove bad for you, my boy."

"You've been told before that you must keep off school property," said
Mr. Daley, otherwise known as "Horace."

"I'm not on school property," replied Beaufort defiantly.

"You're not now, but you have been or you wouldn't be here. After this
kindly remain away from the school entirely. We've had trouble with
you before."

"Sure and you'll have more if you get gay," answered the other with a
grin. "When anyone throws stones at my head he gets licked for it."

"Did you do that, Durkin?"

"No, sir," replied Penny quietly. "Thayer and I were lying under the
rock here when those fellows came up the hill. They saw us and went on
up. Then, pretty soon, they came down again and Beaufort pretended I'd
thrown a stone at him and came over here and insisted on a scrap."

"Pretended you threw it? What for?"

"Oh, it's some of Dreer's funny work," replied Penny. "He had it in for
me because--for something that happened a while back, and he got
Beaufort to pick a quarrel with me."

"What was the something that happened, Durkin?"

"I'd rather not say, Mr. Daley. It--it had nothing to do with this."

"What do you say, Thayer?"

"Penny's told it just the way it happened, sir. Beaufort wanted to fight
and Penny wouldn't until Beaufort made him. There wasn't any stone
thrown, Mr. Daley."

Mr. Daley looked puzzled. "Well," he said, "you'd better all return to
hall for the rest of the day. You'll--er--you'll probably hear from this
later." Beaufort took his departure non-chalantly, whistling as he made
his way through the woods. Dreer stood not on the order of his going,
but was over the wall almost before the instructor had finished
speaking. Penny and Clint followed more leisurely, leaving Mr. Daley and
Mr. Conklin in possession of the field of battle. They too, however,
presently continued their interrupted walk.

"What do you make of it, Jim?" asked Mr. Daley. Mr. Conklin smiled and
shook his head.

"Oh, I fancy Durkin told it straight. It's some private feud we happened
on. Too bad we didn't follow our first intention and go toward
the village."

Mr. Daley looked doubtful. "I'm sorry about Durkin," he said
regretfully. "Mr. Fernald has been trying to secure a scholarship for
him at one of the colleges, and this--er--affair will, I fear,
displease him."

Mr. Conklin shot a quick glance at the other. "Oh, so you think you'll
have to report it, eh?"

"Naturally!"

"Hm. Well, all right. Only it somehow seems to me that as they were off
of school property and were settling an affair in a perfectly regular
way it might be overlooked without any harm, Horace. You know best, of
course. That's just my notion."

"But that would be encouraging fighting here, Jim, and you know what the
rules are. I--I wish I might--er--forget it, but I don't think I
conscientiously can."

Mr. Conklin nodded. After a moment he said, with a chuckle: "That was a
clever punch of Durkin's. I'm glad we got there for the knock-out."

"Durkin appeared much lighter than Beaufort, too," replied Mr. Daley,
unwilling admiration in his voice. "I wonder how he happens to be
so--er--clever."

"Because he took boxing lessons with me for two years," answered Mr.
Conklin unhesitatingly. "We used to have boxing, you know. That was
before your time, though. I remember now that Durkin, although a mere
kid, was very quick and took to it like a duck to water. It was a great
mistake to abolish boxing. There's no better exercise, and none
more useful."

"But doesn't it--er--encourage just this sort of thing?" asked Mr.
Daley, with a backward tilt of his head.

"Not a bit," replied the other stoutly. "On the contrary, if a boy can
put on a pair of gloves and harmlessly pound another boy about a
bit--or get pounded about--it satisfies the desire for fistic encounter
that's a part of every fellow's make-up, and he's a lot less likely to
be quarrelsome. Besides, Horace, it's a fine exercise for the body and
brain and eyes."

"Brain?" questioned Mr. Daley smilingly.

"Undoubtedly! Try it some time and see if it isn't. You've got to think
quick, look quick and act quick. If I had my way boxing would be
compulsory, by George!"

Mr. Daley shook his head doubtfully. "You may be right," he said, "but
it seems to me that teaching a boy how to fight is going to make him
want to. That's the way it goes with other things, Jim. Give a boy
lessons in swimming and he wants to swim; teach him--er--how to jump--"

"Teach him how to box and he wants to box. Certainly, but that doesn't
mean that he wants to go around picking quarrels and fighting with bare
fists. You might as well say that learning to fence makes you want to go
out and stab folks with a rapier! And look at the evidence presented
awhile ago. Beaufort undoubtedly picked that quarrel. There can't be any
doubt of that. We know his record. Beaufort, I'll wager, never took a
boxing lesson in his life. He showed it. The chap who knew how to box,
Durkin, had to be forced to fight."

"You'll convince me in a minute," laughed Mr. Daley, "that if I want to
keep out of trouble I'll have to learn to use my fists!"

"It would be a good thing if you did," responded the other. "Come over
to the gym some afternoon and have a go at it!"

"That would be setting a fine example, wouldn't it?"

"As a matter of fact, it would," replied Mr. Conklin earnestly. "I wish
I could convince Fernald of it!"

Meanwhile, Clint and Penny, both chastened and uneasy, were reviewing
the episode in Penny's room.

"I suppose he will report it," said Penny. "If he does, and Mr. Fernald
believes Dreer's story, it'll cost me that scholarship."

"I don't see why he should believe Dreer any more than you and me,"
Clint objected.

"I'm afraid he will want to. He hates to have fellows fight. I'm glad
you kept out of it, anyway."

"I'm not! It wouldn't have made so much difference with me, Durkin."

"You might have been put on probation Thayer, and that would have kept
you off the football team."

"Probation just for--for that?" exclaimed the other incredulously.

"Wouldn't be surprised," replied Penny. "Josh is rabid on the subject.
Well, there's no use crying over spilled milk. And, anyhow, I'm glad I
did it! Only I wish it had been Dreer instead of Beaufort!"

"So do I," muttered Clint.

Amy, when he heard of it, was devastated with sorrow. "And I wasn't
there!" he wailed. "Just my silly luck! Tell me about it. You say Penny
knocked him out!"

The next forenoon the summons came from the Office and at twelve o'clock
Penny, Clint and Dreer were admitted to the inner sanctuary one at a
time and grilled by Mr. Fernald. Penny's forebodings were none too
dismal, as events proved. Probation was awarded to Penny and Dreer,
while Clint was unmercifully lectured. Unfortunately, their sense of
honour kept both Penny and Clint silent as to the underlying cause of
the affair, and the principal's efforts to find out why Dreer should
have set Beaufort to pick a quarrel with Penny, as both Penny and Clint
claimed, were unsuccessful. Naturally enough, Dreer himself failed to
throw light on this matter. Mr. Fernald refused to believe that any boy
would deliberately seek the help of another to administer punishment to
a third. He was willing to exonerate Penny and Clint from the charge of
throwing stones, but insisted that it always took two to make a quarrel
and that if Penny had chosen to observe the rules of the school he could
have done so. For his part, Clint left the inner office feeling that he
had been extremely lucky to have escaped hanging or life imprisonment,
to say nothing of probation! Poor Penny was pretty downcast, Amy was
furious and declared his intention of going to Mr. Fernald and telling
the real truth of the whole affair. But Penny wouldn't listen to that.

"You can't do it, Byrd," he said.

"Why can't I?" Amy demanded.

"Because it wouldn't be decent," replied Penny earnestly. "You know
that. A fellow can't--can't tell tales, you see."

"But, hang it all, you're letting Dreer get away with it! He busted your
fiddle and set Beaufort on you and all he gets is a month's pro! And he
doesn't care whether he's on pro or not. It doesn't make any difference
to him. You're the one who's getting the short end of it. You're losing
your scholarship as sure as shooting!"

"Yes, but a fellow can't blab," still insisted Penny.

Amy argued and stormed and threatened to go into Number 15 and knock
Harmon Dreer into a cocked-hat, but in the end he had to subside. Penny
insisted on taking his medicine.

Clint was as sorry as possible for Penny, but he didn't have much time
for sympathy. With practice on Monday afternoon football affairs at
Brimfield started on their last lap. Only Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
were left for real work. After that only signal practice and blackboard
lectures remained. Andy Miller showed up again, and with him two other
coaches who had absented themselves for a few days, and life became once
more terrifically strenuous for the 'varsity players. Saunders got back
into practice that afternoon, but it was plain that his injury still
inconvenienced him and he was not allowed to take part in the
forty-five-minute scrimmage. Clint held down the left tackle position
and held it down pretty well. Although he had no suspicion of it, his
performance that afternoon settled definitely his status, and on the way
to the gymnasium afterwards Mr. Detweiler ranged himself alongside,
slid an arm over Clint's shoulder and said:

"Thayer, we're going to play you on Saturday. Saunders isn't in shape,
I'm sorry to say, and won't be able to do more than take your place for
awhile if necessary. You've done well. I want to give you credit for
that. You're not a perfect tackle yet, my boy, but we've all got hopes
of you and we expect you to give a good account of yourself against
Claflin. And I expect to see you play better Saturday by fifty per cent
than you've played yet. How do you feel about it?"

Clint couldn't have said just how he did feel, and was relieved when,
seeing his embarrassment, Mr. Detweiler went on encouragingly. "Whatever
you do, don't get scared. Just remember that, while winning from Claflin
is a bigger thing than winning from any other team we've met, Claflin
isn't very different, after all. They may play a little better football,
but they're just as liable to make mistakes, just as liable to go to
pieces in a pinch. Make up your mind that we've got a better team than
they have and that we're going to everlastingly smear them! And then go
ahead and prove it. You'll be up against a good man on attack, this
fellow Terrill, but don't let that make you nervous. Remember that he's
probably just as much afraid of you as you are of him, Thayer. If you
can get around him a couple of times at the start you'll have him on the
run for the rest of the game. So jump into him the minute the game
begins and let him see that he's up against a real hard proposition.
Meanwhile, do your level best to smooth down your playing. You've got
the right ideas; just develop them. Make them go. Put a little more hump
into your work. You'll find you can do about twice as well as you've
been doing, if you put your mind on it. And remember too, Thayer, that
I'm looking to you to vindicate my choice of you. Don't give anyone a
chance to say after the game that I'd have done better if I'd picked
Cupples or Trow for the place. All right. Take care of yourself." And
Mr. Detweiler gave Clint a parting thump at the gymnasium door.

Events passed at an amazing speed for the next few days. Clint moved at
times in a waking dream, and Amy, tapping his head significantly, spoke
to him soothingly and hoped that the trouble would not prove permanent.
Clint had a way of suddenly waking, at the most inopportune moments, to
the fact that he was due to play left tackle on the Brimfield Football
Team against Claflin School in a few days, and when he did he
invariably experienced an appalling sick feeling at the pit of his
stomach and became for the moment incapable of speech or action. When
this occurred in class during, say, a faltering elucidation of the
Iliad, it produced anything but a favourable impression on the
instructor. Fortunately, while actually engaged in out-guessing Lee, of
the second, or breaking through the none too vulnerable Pryme, or racing
down the field under one of Harris's punts, he had no time to think of
it and so was spared the mortification of suspended animation at what
would have been a most unfortunate time. His appetite became decidedly
capricious. And the capriciousness increased as Saturday drew near.
Also, the sinking sensations to which he had become a prey attacked him
more often. He drove Amy to despair by predicting all sorts of direful
things. He was sure that he wouldn't be able to do anything with
Terrill, the Claflin right end. He was morally certain that he was going
to disgrace himself and the school. He was even inclined to think,
rather hopefully, as it seemed to Amy, that he would be taken violently
ill before Saturday.

"You'll make _me_ ill!" declared Amy. "Honest, Clint, you talk like a
demented duck! Buck up! What's the matter with you? Anyone would think
you were going to be hung Saturday instead of play football!"

"I almost wish I were," murmured Clint dejectedly.

But if Clint was troubled with forebodings, not so the school at large.
Enthusiastic mass-meetings were held alternate evenings and the new
songs were rehearsed and the cheers which were to bring terror to the
enemy were thundered with a mighty zest. Brimfield refused to even
consider defeat. Parades became a frequent proceeding. By Wednesday it
was only necessary for a fellow to step out on The Row and shout
"Brimfield!" to have a procession form almost instantly!

The last practice took place Wednesday afternoon and for a solid
forty-five minutes the 'varsity did its level best to totally annihilate
the second team, and almost succeeded. Things went with a most
encouraging bang that day. Even Coach Robey was seen to smile, which,
during practice, was a most extraordinary thing for him to do. The
'varsity had to work for what it got, but got it. Three touchdowns and a
field-goal was the sum of its attainment, while the second, fighting
fiercely, managed to push Otis over for a score in the third period.
Afterward the second cheered the 'varsity, was heartily cheered in
return and then trotted back to the gymnasium no longer existent as
a team.

The most enthusiastic meeting of the Fall was held that evening and was
followed by a very riotous parade during which much red-fire was set
off. The procession invaded the village and brought the inhabitants to
their doors in alarm. It paused at Coach Robey's boarding place and
cheered and demanded a speech. Coach Robey, however, was not at home.
Neither was Mr. Detweiler, to whose abode the fellows next made their
way. But they didn't care much. They greatly preferred hearing
themselves to listening to anything the coaches might have to say.
Finally they returned to Main Hall, indulged in one final burst of
tumult and disbanded. Clint, hearkening from his room, where, quite
alone, he was supposed to be diligently pursuing his studies, had
another and worse attack of nerves!

There was signal practice Thursday for a short time in the afternoon,
and in the evening a blackboard talk in the gymnasium. After that Clint
returned to Torrence and made believe study until he could crawl into
bed. Amy did what he could to take his mind from football, but his
efforts were not very successful. Just when he thought he had Clint
thoroughly interested in his conversation Clint would give a sudden
start and blurt out: "I'll never remember the signals, Amy! I know I
won't!" or "Gee, I wish it was over!"

Those were trying times in Number 14.



CHAPTER XXIV

IN THE ENEMY'S COUNTRY

And then, suddenly, it was Saturday morning!

Clint, rousing from disturbed, uneasy slumber, stared at a patch of
sunlight shimmering on the white ceiling and tried for just that moment
that lies between sleep and consciousness to account for the fluttering
condition of his nerves, the sense of impending doom that lay like a
dark shadow at the back of his brain. Then full recollection came, his
heart turned completely over twice, raced like a propeller out of water
and sank dejectedly to somewhere near the pit of his stomach. After that
he was very, very wide awake.

He turned and looked enviously at Amy, who, one bare arm over his
touselled head, slept on untroubledly. A door banged in the corridor,
the sound of rushing water came from the bathroom at the end, someone
across the way began to sing "Tipperary" joyously, and through the open
window came the shrill voice of an early First Former:

"Hi, Terry! Terry Brainard! Oh, _Ter_-ry!"

Clint would have liked to have buried his head in the pillow and gone
back to sleep and slept until--well, say five o'clock that afternoon.
For by five o'clock the Claflin game would be over with. But even a
five-minute cat-nap was denied him by restless nerves, and, after a
moment or two, he put his legs out and sat up yawning, feeling strangely
tired and listless. His bath helped some, however, and later on he was
surprised to find that as long as he kept his mind off the game he was
able to do full justice to a chop, two soft-boiled eggs, three slices of
toast, a dish of stewed apricots, a baked potato and three glasses of
milk! After that he felt better still!

There was a studied effort on the part of the players to keep away from
the subject of football that morning. Many of the fellows looked nervous
and drawn, and said little. Others were, or appeared to be, in high
spirits, and laughed a good deal and rather stridently, and talked
loudly of all kinds of things--except football. Jack Innes was even more
quiet than usual and almost jumped out of his chair when a boy at the
next table dropped a knife on the floor.

There were no recitations after eleven that day. There might just as
well have been none before that, for it's quite useless to expect a boy
to put his mind on his studies only a few hours before the Big Game! At
eleven the 'varsity players and substitutes assembled at the gymnasium
and, escorted by Mr. Detweiler and Mr. Boutelle, took a walk across the
fields and hills at an even though moderate pace. They were back a
little before twelve. Dinner was at noon, and by a quarter to one they
were climbing into coaches in front of Main Hall and at one-eight they,
together with most of the school, were pulling out of the Brimfield
station on their journey to Westplains, twelve miles distant.

Claflin was an older school than Brimfield and had a much larger
enrolment. Until last year the Blue had won three football games from
the Maroon-and-Grey, all, in fact, that the two schools had played
together. Last year the tide had turned and Brimfield had nosed out her
rival by one touchdown. This year--well, what was to happen this year
was still on the lap of the gods, but Brimfield set out confident
of victory.

Coaches met the players at the Westplains station and rolled them away
along the tree-lined, winding road to the school, while the rest of the
Brimfield invaders followed on foot or, if their pockets afforded it
and they hankered for luxury; in the little station-wagons which,
patriotically decorated with blue bunting and flags, sought patronage.

Claflin School was set down in the very middle of the town, a quiet,
rambling, overgrown village too near New York to ever become more than a
residence place. The school was spread over many acres and its
buildings, most of which had been there many years, had a look of mellow
antiquity which the newer Brimfield halls had not had time to acquire.
Wide-spreading elms shaded the walks in Summer and even today their
graceful branches added beauty to the campus. Brimfield, nearly a
hundred and fifty strong, took possession of the school grounds and went
sight-seeing before they poured out on the further side and made their
way to the athletic field.

Amy and Bob Chase, pausing to translate a Latin inscription over the
entrance to one of the buildings, became detached from the others and
were discovered by Mr. Detweiler, who, having made an unsuccessful
attempt to find a college friend who was instructing at Claflin, was on
his way to the gymnasium. He listened, unseen, for a moment to Amy's
extremely literal and picturesque translation, and then a laugh revealed
his presence and Amy looked around a bit sheepishly.

"That's fine, Byrd," said Mr. Detweiler. "You certainly reflect credit
on 'Uncle Sim'!"

"I guess," observed Bob Chase, "'Uncle Sim' would have had a fit if he'd
heard that!"

They strolled on together, speaking of the buildings they passed, until,
opposite the gymnasium, Mr. Detweiler started to leave them, thought
better of it and said: "By the way, Byrd, I wonder if I was pledged to
secrecy the other day."

"The other day?" repeated Amy questioningly.

"The day I met you and Thayer and--" He looked doubtfully at Chase.

"Bob's all right," Amy reassured him. "I know when you mean, sir. But I
don't understand about being pledged--"

"I'll tell you." Mr. Detweiler looked hurriedly at his watch. "I
happened to hear from Mr. Daley yesterday that your friend Durkin had
got in trouble. You knew that?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, it seemed that Mr. Fernald thought Durkin had either picked the
quarrel or--well, we'll say welcomed it. Daley told me Durkin was on
probation and stood a pretty fair chance of losing a scholarship he was
after. So, as I hadn't been, as I thought, pledged to secrecy, I told
Daley what I knew of the start of the trouble. That seemed to put a
different complexion on the matter and Daley went to Mr. Fernald and
told him about it. Since then I've wondered whether I ought to have kept
my mouth closed. Do you mind?"

"Not a bit," declared Amy heartily. "I'm mighty glad you did tell. I
wanted to, but Penny wouldn't hear of it. He said it would be sneaky, or
something like that. What--what did Mr. Fernald say, sir?"

"I haven't heard. I hope, though, he will see that your friend Durkin
couldn't very well avoid that row on Sunday. It seemed to me rather too
bad that he should lose his chance at the scholarship. That is why I
'butted in,' Byrd."

"I'm very glad you did, Mr. Detweiler. I'll find Penny and see if he's
heard anything."

Penny, however, was very elusive, and it was not until a few minutes
before the game started that Amy finally located him in the top row of
the temporary grand-stand. Even then Amy could only get within shouting
distance, but shouting distance sufficed.

"Penny!" called Amy. "Hi, Penny!"

Penny smiled and waved.

"Had any news?" asked Amy in a confidential shout.

Penny looked blank for an instant. Then a slow smile lighted his face
and he nodded vehemently.

"Yes," he called. "This morning, Byrd! It's all right about--you know!"

"Awfully glad," replied Amy. "Mr. Detweiler just told me! See you after
the game."

"Sit down, Amy!" said a friend in the stand.

"Yes, clear the aisle, please, Byrd," called another.

Amy smiled and hurried back to his seat next to Bob Chase just as the
two teams, having warmed up and experimented with what little breeze was
cutting across the gridiron, withdrew to their respective sides of the
field. A final long-drawn cheer for Brimfield issued from the south
stand, was answered by a more thunderous one from the opposite seats,
the teams lined up, the captains waved their hands to the referee and
Claflin's left guard sent the nice new yellow ball arching away
against the sky.

It is to be presumed that more than one heart under a canvas jacket was
thumping loudly at that moment, but I doubt if any was trying harder to
turn somersaults than Clint Thayer's as he hustled across to where
Kendall was gathering the pigskin in his arms. But in the next moment
Clint forgot all about his heart, forgot he even had one, for Kendall
was plunging forward through the fast-gathering Claflin warriors and his
work was cut out for him. Back to the fifteen-yard line went the pigskin
before the referee called it down, and Brimfield's supporters cheered.

It is always something of a shock to realise that an event which has
been dreaded for days has at last arrived. During that tense moment
wherein the blue-stockinged Briggs had cuddled the ball into position on
the tee Clint had experienced just such a shock. Only yesterday the
Claflin game had been of the future, only this morning he had still
viewed it uneasily as a thing impending, and now--presto!--it was here.
He endured for a long minute more kinds of stage-fright than he had
ever dreamed of! But action was a panacea for his malady, and the
instant he thrust himself in the path of a plunging Claflin man, felt
the impact of the hard-muscled body against him, recovered and fell into
his place in the quickly-formed wedge of interference, the thrill of
battle drove out fear.

Now Marvin was calling his signals, the Brimfield forwards were poising
themselves for the assault, and Clint, hands on the ground, feet apart,
head up, was watching every movement of his opponent. And,
simultaneously with the snapping of the ball, he was lunging upward and
forward with both hands, all the muscles of his tense body behind that
quick thrust, and the Claflin opponent, caught unawares, spun sideways
and crashed into his guard, while Harris, the ball clutched to his
stomach, smashed through and past and, stumbling, twisting, panting,
pushed three yards of turf behind him before the Claflin backs
pulled him down.

And so it went until Brimfield, taking the enemy by surprise, had won
her way to the thirty-seven yards. There someone mistook the signals,
three yards were lost on second down, and, with seven to go, Harris
punted high and far. Clint found his opponents too much for him that
time and was hurled aside. Claflin caught on her thirty-three and
ran back six.

Then Clint had a chance to prove himself on the defence, and prove
himself he did on the second play. The renowned Terrill, striving to
draw Clint out from his guard, suddenly found himself nicely fooled, and
Clint, swinging through inside, smeared the play well behind the Claflin
line. There was a vast feeling of satisfaction when his arms wrapped
themselves around the legs of that blue-stockinged left half and held
like a vise. The fact that a vengeful Claflin forward dropped his
hundred-and-seventy pounds on Clint's neck didn't matter a mite!

It was nip and tuck for the rest of that first period. Claflin regularly
made from four to eight yards on three plays and then punted. Brimfield
made similar gains and punted. Kendall missed a catch and recovered the
ball for a ten-yard loss. To equalise things, Ainsmith of Claflin
fumbled for almost as much. The quarter ended with the ball in
Brimfield's possession in the middle of the field.

In the second period Marvin began to work the ends, sending St. Clair
and Kendall around the wings for short gains. Once, when Kendall, almost
stopped, wriggled himself free and dashed on along the side line, the
Brimfield supporters leaped to their feet in the stand with ecstatic
visions of a touchdown dancing before their eyes. But Kendall was forced
out on Claflin's thirty-five yards and the yells of triumph subsided.
From there Harris made it first down through a hole as wide as a door in
the centre of the Claflin line, reeling off twelve yards before he was
upset. The Blue's centre-rush was hurt in that encounter and a
substitute took his place. Marvin tested the new man on the next play,
but Kendall was stopped. A second attempt, with Harris plunging straight
ahead from kicking position, produced three yards. St. Clair slid off
left tackle for two more and Harris punted to the Blue's twelve yards. A
penalty for off-side brought the ball back to the seventeen. Claflin
rounded Edwards for six yards, pounded Clint for two more, was held on
the next down and punted to the Maroon-and-Grey's forty-seven. There
Marvin caught and was toppled in his tracks. Roberts was hurt in a
missed tackle and Coach Robey sent Holt in.

Both teams had slowed up in their playing now, for the pace had been
unusually fast. Claflin was caught holding and the ball went once more
into her own territory. Harris and Kendall hammered the tackles for a
first down and St. Clair got off around the right end for seven yards
more. Marvin fumbled and Harris fell on the ball. Harris punted to a
corner of the field and the ball rolled out at the fifteen yards.
Claflin braced then and pushed through for a first down, following it
with a long forward-pass that took the pigskin to her forty-three yards.
A fake-kick failed to gain and her full-back was brought up standing
when he tried Jack Innes's position. A punt was caught by Kendall on his
twenty-five-yard line and, behind good interference, he dashed back
nearly ten before he was nailed. St. Clair made three off the Blue's
right tackle and Marvin kicked from position, the ball rolling past the
Claflin quarter to his thirty-yard line, where he managed to secure it
just an instant before Steve Edwards reached him. Two tries netted but
four yards and a punt followed. Marvin caught near midfield and the
half ended.

The teams had shown themselves to be very evenly matched in all
departments of the game. On offence Brimfield had done a trifle better,
if we except the forward-pass made by her adversary, the only one so far
attempted by either side. On defence Claflin had proved no stronger than
the Maroon-and-Grey. In punting, Harris, for Brimfield, and Wentworth,
for Claflin, had shown about the same ability, what advantage there
might be being in favour of Harris, whose punts had been a little better
placed. So far it was anybody's game, and the rival schools, during the
intermission, sang and cheered loudly and confidently.

In the locker-room at the gymnasium Mr. Robey and the assistant coaches
dealt praise and censure and instruction. Several of the fellows had
been pretty well played out at the end of the half. Claflin had paid a
good deal of attention to the centre of Brimfield's line--later it
transpired that rumours had reached Westplains to the effect that
Brimfield's centre trio were weak on defence--and both Captain Innes and
Hall were rather battered up. Blaisdell had come out of it with less
punishment. There were no injuries of moment, however, even Roberts,
whose shoulder had been bruised, being ready to go back. As the time to
return to the field approached Mr. Robey called for attention.

"I want to tell you fellows," he said quietly, "that you've played well.
You've done as much as I'd hoped you'd do. You've held Claflin away from
your goal, and in doing that you've done a good deal, for you've been up
against as fine a Blue team as they've ever got together. But from now
on you've got to have punch, fellows. You've got to play faster and
harder. Claflin will try everything she knows. She isn't beaten, not by
a whole lot, and she's going to come back hard. I want to see
improvement in the backfield in this half. You backs haven't helped the
forwards as you've been taught to do and as you can do. You've let the
runner have an extra yard or two yards time and again. Go in hard and
stop the man before he gets clear. You've been waiting for him to come
to you. Don't do that. Go in and meet him. Every inch counts. Now, then,
let's see what you can do for Brimfield this time. Play hard. When you
tackle, stop your man. When you block, block hard and long. Put every
ounce of strength into the game from now on and I'll promise you that
you'll take that football back to Brimfield with you!"

Claflin had made four changes in her line-up when the teams faced each
other again, and Brimfield two. On the latter team Carmine was at
quarter and Gafferty had taken Tom Hall's place at right guard. Roberts
was back in his position at the right end of the line. Jack Innes
settled the ball on the mound of earth, glanced over his team, cried
"Ready, sir!" stepped forward and punted obliquely across the field
toward the Claflin stand. The second half was on and the laurel of
victory was still to be won.



CHAPTER XXV

VICTORY!

That oblique kick-off had been prearranged and by the time the Claflin
right guard had called it his the Maroon-and Grey forwards were down on
him. His frantic attempt to gather the ball into his arms failed and it
bounded away toward the side line. Blaisdell fell on it a foot from the
mark and Brimfield shouted joyfully. From Claflin's thirty-six yards to
her twenty the Brimfield backs carried the pigskin. There Roberts was
caught holding and the Maroon-and-Grey was set back. Harris fell back as
if to kick and threw forward to Roberts on Claflin's twelve. Roberts
caught, but was stopped for no more gain. The Brimfield stand cheered
hoarsely and unceasingly, the cheerleaders never letting up for a
moment. Harris plugged the Claflin centre for two, St. Clair got three
around left tackle and Harris made it first down on the Blue's two yards
directly in front of goal by a criss-cross play through right guard.
Brimfield went crazy then and cries of "Touchdown! Touchdown!
Touchdown!" thundered across from the stand.

Carmine and Captain Innes conferred. St. Clair was chosen to try the
right tackle. But there was no hole there and he lost a yard. Harris
banged out less than two feet at right guard. St. Clair again tried
right tackle and got through for one. Harris fell back to kick. The
stands quieted. Innes passed low and Harris took too much time. The ball
bounded away from an upstretched hand and Carmine fell on it at the
twenty-two yards.

Once more Brimfield took up the journey. A forward-pass to Edwards went
short and Clint knocked it out of the eager hands of a Claflin player.
Two attempts by Kendall advanced the ball but four yards and Harris
again went back to kicking position. He was on the twenty-six yards and
just to the left of the goal and Brimfield fully expected a score. But
when the ball went to him he tucked it under his arm and shot to the
left in an effort to skirt the end. The attempt just failed to gain the
distance and the ball went to Claflin on downs. The maroon-and-grey
flags that a moment before had been waving riotously now wilted
dejectedly.

Claflin failed to gain on two downs and punted short to midfield, where
Carmine caught and eluded half the enemy before he was forced over the
side line for a gain of eight yards. The ball was paced in at Claflin's
forty-six and Kendall, from kick formation, got nine outside right
tackle, Clint opening the hole. Harris made it first down. A
forward-pass, Carmine to Edwards, grounded. Carmine took the ball for
four through centre, St. Clair failed to gain and Harris punted to the
Blue's five-yard line. Wentworth made a fair-catch and punted on second
down, after a plunge at right tackle had netted two yards. Kendall
caught and was stopped for no gain.

The ball was on Claflin's forty-six yards. Harris, on a delayed pass
play, made three outside left tackle and Kendall got away for seven and
first down. Kendall again got free around the left of the Blue's line
and reeled off six more before he was tackled. He was hurt and Freer
took his place. The latter at once distinguished himself by breaking
straight through the Claflin left guard for five yards, and it was first
down again on the Blue's twenty-five.

It seemed now that nothing was going to stop the Brimfield machine short
of the goal line, for the offence it was showing was far superior to
anything exhibited that afternoon by either team. Claflin was proving
weaker at the ends of her line than expected and her tackles were
showing the strain. The end of the period sounded after Freer had been
stopped for a yard.

Claflin put in a new right guard and a fresh right tackle and returned
two of her former men to the line. Coach Robey sent Hall back, but made
no other change. The teams doffed blankets once more and again faced
each other on the Blue's twenty-four yards.

Claflin hoped for nothing better, perhaps, than a no-score result, for
her attack had several times failed to get under way and her opponent
seemed to be gaining strength rather than losing it. Carmine, acting
under instructions from Coach Robey, now opened up his bag of tricks. A
long side-pass to Edwards, followed by a forward heave to Roberts,
across the field, brought the Maroon-and-Grey supporters leaping to
their feet, for Roberts caught the long pass high in the air, dodged a
frantic Claflin end and raced straight toward the goal line. Only the
fact that he slipped near the ten-yard line prevented a score then and
there. That instant's falter brought the enemy down on him and, although
he managed to squirm forward another yard, he was stopped. But it looked
a short distance from the nine yards to the final white line, and
Brimfield implored a touchdown.

Harris was hurled against the desperate blue line and made a scant two
yards, and was found threshing his arms about when the players were torn
apart. Time was taken out and, after the full-back had been administered
to, he was supported to the bench and the eager Rollins cantered on.
Again came a bewildering trick-play, with a delayed pass from Innes to
Freer and a straight dash at the line by St. Clair after a short lateral
pass. But, although Claflin's forwards faltered, the secondary defence
came to the rescue and St. Clair gained only two yards. It was third
down now, with five to go, and from both sides of the gridiron came the
imploring shout of the rival "rooters." Brimfield chanted "Touchdown!
Touchdown!" and Claflin hoarsely begged her warriors to "Hold 'em,
Claflin! Hold 'em, Claflin!"

And Claflin held them!

With Harris out of the line-up, Carmine hesitated to try a field-goal,
and when, after another yard and a half had been gained by Freer, the
goal line was still almost four yards away, he risked all on a
forward-pass. Edwards managed to sneak into position beyond the goal
line, but Carmine's toss went wide and Claflin fell on the ball back of
the post. Blue flags waved wildly then, while, across the dimming field,
the Brimfield stand was silent and disappointed.

Six minutes still remained of that final quarter, however, and the
Maroon-and-Grey took courage again. When the teams lined up once more
Still was at left half, Trow at right tackle and Thursby had taken Jack
Innes's place. Claflin played desperately then and, almost before
Brimfield realised it, had reached the middle of the field. Trow was
weak and several gains were made past him. Thursby, too, had not found
his pace. Claflin succeeded with a short forward-pass and twice made
five-and six-yard gains around the Brimfield right end. But at the
fifty-yard line the Blue's Advance was halted and Claflin was forced to
punt. The kick was short and high and went out near the
Maroon-and-Grey's thirty-yard line. Carmine hurled Freer at the centre
for four, the same player slid off left tackle for three more and
Carmine himself made it first down on a wide end-run. Once more
Brimfield took up its journey toward the distant goal line.

Lateral passes, forward passes, delayed plays, all were used and all
gained something, while Freer and Still and Freer again slid past the
tackles, Carmine shot through here and there like a jack rabbit and the
slower-moving Rollins bucked the line for less spectacular gains. Past
the centre of the field rolled the Maroon-and-Grey, past the forty
yards, past the thirty. Claflin fought tooth and nail, despairingly,
desperately, longing for the whistle that should announce the end.

Just past the thirty-yard line Brimfield had a setback and her progress
was halted when Gafferty was caught off-side. It became second down then
with fifteen to go and Rollins trotted back up the field and held his
arms out. But Claflin wasn't looking for a punt on second down and so
was not deceived as to her opponent's intentions. What did deceive her,
though, was the play that came off. For the ball was snapped to Freer,
and Freer, after running across the field, passed back to Carmine and
that youth, twisting on his heel, dashed straight into the confusion of
friend and foe, dodging, feinting, twisting, and emerged on the other
side and raced on for the goal line. But near the twenty he was brought
low by a Claflin back, and it was third down and a half-yard to go.
Carmine pantingly demanded the time. The answer was two minutes.

It was Still who got the necessary half-yard, together with a yard more
for good measure. Claflin halted the game while an injured right end was
nursed back to an interest in life, and in that interim Coach Robey sent
in three substitutes. Sherrard went in for Edwards, Holt for Roberts,
and Saunders, limping a little, took the place of Trow at right tackle.
Clint had his head-guard ready to hand over when he saw Saunders trot on
and was more than surprised when the former left tackle passed him by
and laid his hand on Trow's arm. Holt evidently brought a message from
Coach Robey, for he dragged Carmine back and whispered to him. What the
instructions were was soon apparent, for when the whistle shrilled again
the Maroon-and-Grey began a relentless hammering of the Blue's left
side, hurling her backs at guard and tackle, and, although Claflin sent
her backs to the rescue of the beleaguered forwards, the gains came
consistently and grew longer and longer. The Maroon-and-Grey, on the
eight yards now, was again demanding surrender.

Clint, with a swollen mouth and a piece of dirty surgeon's plaster
running slantwise above his right eye, panting for breath, bathed in
perspiration, watched his adversary as Carmine yelped his signals again.
Only eight yards to go and four downs to do it in. Clint scented
victory and his nerves grew tense as he waited. Then he was pushing and
wrenching and once more the hole was opened wide and once more Freer,
playing like a wildcat, smashed past him. Clint followed through, met a
Claflin back and sent him staggering aside. Freer, tackled but still
fighting, dragged himself on and on. And then the unexpected happened.

"_Ball!_"

The shout came frantically from somewhere and Clint saw the pigskin,
squeezed from the half-back's arms, bound into air. A blue-sleeved arm
shot toward it, and another, but the ball, bouncing away from an eager
hand, went, turning lazily over and over in its flight, toward the side
line. Clint turned swiftly and pursued, elbowed by others. He shot an
arm out to the left and cleared his path. Cries and pounding footsteps
came to his ears. Away rolled the ball, spurning the five-yard line,
seemingly bent on trickling out of bounds. A blue-jerseyed player tried
to edge past Clint, but the latter swung in front of him. Then he was on
the ball, and up again with it tucked against his stomach, and was
plunging toward the goal line, a scant six yards away! A Claflin man
dived at him and strove to pinion his knees, but with a wrench Clint
tore one leg free and staggered on another stride. Arms clutched him
about the shoulders and it seemed that he was pulling a ton of weight
with him. Then there was a shock, his legs went from under him and he
toppled to earth. But as he fell, and as the last breath in his body
seemed to leave him forever, he pushed the ball away from him at arm's
length and set his fingers about it like so many vises! And that was the
last he knew.

When he opened his eyes he was being sloshed with water from a big,
smelly sponge, and the trainer's little green eyes were above his.

"What is it?" he asked dazedly.

"It's a touchdown, my boy! A touchdown by a bare two inches! And how do
you feel?"

Clint smiled as he closed his eyes again for a moment and became aware
that the sound which had before seemed like the pounding of surf on the
shore was the steady cheering of Brimfield's supporters. "I feel--all
right," he answered, "and--and for the love of mud take that beastly
sponge out of my mouth!"

The trainer chuckled, and at that instant the cheering rose to a new
height of intensity.

"What's that?" asked Clint, struggling to get up.

"Rollins kicked goal," was the answer. "Lie still a minute, boy."

"Then--then we've won?" exclaimed Clint, realisation of victory pouring
over him like a wave and setting his heart to thumping.

"We have; seven to nothing; and there goes the whistle and it's all over
for another year, thank Heaven! And now you'd best get on your feet, for
they'll be after you in a minute!"

And they were, a score of them, with Amy in the lead, Amy laughing and
jubilant and devil-may-care! And Clint, protesting, still a bit faint
and pale, but immeasurably happy, was lifted to willing shoulders from
where, a little vaguely, he looked down upon a sea of frantically
cheering youths who waved maroon-and-grey banners and behaved in the
time-honoured custom of the conqueror.

"Gangway!" shouted Amy. "Hold tight, Clint! Here we go, fellows!
Gangway!"

Clint's bearers broke into a shambling run, and Clint, clutching tightly
at Amy's neck, lurched and bobbed dizzily as they hurried across the
field. For an instant he caught a view of the gravely pleased
countenance of Penny Durkin. Penny waved and was lost to sight again.
Other faces he knew swam past him. Smiles and shouts and waving hands
greeted him. Other players, caught before escape was possible, were
swaying about in front of the stand where Brimfield was forming into a
procession to march in triumph about the trampled field of battle.
Straight for the head of the parade scuttled Amy and his cohorts.
"Gangway!" babbled Amy. "Let us through here!"

"Amy!" remonstrated Clint. "Let me down, you crazy Indian! I--I'm
tired!"

"Let you down!" cried Amy incredulously. "Not much! You're a bloomin'
hero, Clint, and you've got to act the part. You're the chap who knocked
the 'laf' out of Claflin! Hold your head up now and look like Napoleon!"

"But, Amy, honest--"

"Shut up and don't queer the show! Gangway! Gangway for Left Tackle
Thayer!"


THE END





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