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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: Winning His "W" - A Story of Freshman Year at College
Author: Tomlinson, Everett Titsworth, 1859-1931
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 "Winning His "W" - A Story of Freshman Year at College" ***

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



WINNING HIS "W"

A Story of Freshman Year at College

by

EVERETT T. TOMLINSON

M.A. Donohue & Company
Chicago       New York

1904



PREFACE


In this book I have endeavored to relate the story of a boy's early
experiences in college life--a boy who was neither unnaturally good nor
preternaturally bad, wholesome, earnest, impulsive, making just such
mistakes as a normal boy would make, and yet earnest, sincere, and
healthy. We all have known just such boys and are grateful that they are
neither uncommon nor unknown.

Perhaps it may add a little to the interest of this tale if it is stated
that many of the events described in it actually occurred. I have not
tagged a "moral" upon it, for if the story itself shall not bear its own
moral, then the addition will not add to it.

EVERETT T. TOMLINSON.

Elizabeth, New Jersey.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER

    I. THE OPENING TERM

   II. PETER JOHN'S ARRIVAL

  III. NEW FRIENDS AND NEW EXPERIENCES

   IV. A CLOUD OF WITNESSES

    V. UNSOUGHT ATTENTIONS

   VI. A RACE IN THE DARKNESS

  VII. SPLINTER'S QUESTIONS

 VIII. THE PARADE

   IX. THE WALK WITH MOTT

    X. A VISITOR

   XI. THE PERPETUAL PROBLEM

  XII. THE MEET

 XIII. WAGNER'S ADVICE

  XIV. THE ADVICE FOLLOWED

   XV. A REVERSED DECISION

  XVI. TELEGRAMS

 XVII. PETER JOHN'S DOWNFALL

XVIII. AN ALARMING REPORT

  XIX. A RARE INTERVIEW

   XX. A CRISIS

  XXI. THE EXAMINATION

 XXII. A FRESH EXCITEMENT

XXIII. THE RUSH TO COVENTRY CENTER

 XXIV. THE MYSTERY OF THE CANES

  XXV. ON THE TRAIL

 XXVI. ST. PATRICK'S DAY

XXVII. CONCLUSION



CHAPTER I

THE OPENING TERM


"I've got a letter from Peter John."

"What's the trouble with him? He ought to have been here yesterday or
the day before."

"I'm afraid Peter John never'll be on time. He doesn't seem to have
taken that in his course. He'd never pass an 'exam' in punctuality."

"What does he want?"

"The poor chap begs us to meet him at the station."

"What train?"

"The two-seventeen."

"Then we've no time to waste. Is he afraid he'll be lost?"

"He's afraid, all right."

"What's he afraid of?"

"Everything and everybody, I guess. Poor chap."

Will Phelps laughed good-naturedly as he spoke, and it was evident that
his sympathy for "Peter John" was genuine. His friend and room-mate,
Foster Bennett, was as sympathetic as he, though his manner was more
quiet and his words were fewer; their fears for their friend were
evidently based upon their own personal knowledge.

For four years the three young men had been classmates in the Sterling
High School, and in the preceding June had graduated from its course of
study, and all three had decided to enter Winthrop College. The entrance
examinations had been successfully passed, and at the time when this
story opens all had been duly registered as students in the incoming
class of the college.

Foster Bennett and Will Phelps were to be room-mates, and for several
days previous to the September day on which the conversation already
recorded had taken place they had been in the little college town,
arranging their various belongings in the room in Perry Hall, one of the
best of all the dormitory buildings. The first assembling of the college
students was to occur on the morrow, and then the real life upon which
they were about to enter was to begin.

The two boys had come to Winthrop together, the parents of both having
decided that it was better to throw the young students at once upon
their own resources rather than to accompany them, reserving their
visits for a later time when the first novelty of the new life would be
gone.

And on this September day the novelty certainly was the most prominent
element in the thoughts of both boys. The task of arranging their
various belongings in their new rooms had kept both so busy that
thoughts of the homes they had left were of necessity somewhat rare, and
the vision of the family life in which they had been so vital a part had
not as yet come to take the place in their minds which it soon would
occupy.

At the hotel where they had been staying there were many other boys who
were in a predicament not unlike their own, but the very fact that all
were alike new to the life and its surroundings had made every one
somewhat diffident and the warm friendships and cordial relations that
soon were to be formed were as yet not begun.

Will Phelps and Foster Bennett, however, had been so completely taken up
with their own immediate tasks that they had little thought for other
things. At the time when this story opens their study room was ready for
callers, as Will expressed it, and the adjoining sleeping rooms were in
a fair way for occupancy. Indeed, the boys planned that very night to
sleep in the dormitory, and the experience was looked forward to as one
which they both would enjoy.

Will Phelps, a sturdy young fellow of eighteen, of medium height, with
strong body and a bright, keen expression in his dark eyes, had been the
most popular of all the boys in the high school from which he had
recently graduated. Not over-fond of study, he had somewhat neglected
his tasks until his final year, and though he had then begun to work
more seriously, his late effort had not entirely atoned for the neglect
of the preceding years. An only son and not rigidly trained in his home,
he had not formed the habits of study which his more serious-minded
room-mate, Foster Bennett, possessed. But almost every one who met the
young student was drawn to him by the fascination of his winning ways,
and realized at once the latent possibilities for good or ill that were
his. His success would depend much upon his surroundings, and though
Will was sublimely confident in his ability to meet and master whatever
opposed him, it nevertheless had been a source of deep satisfaction to
his father and mother that he was to room with his classmate, Foster
Bennett, for Foster was of a much more sedate disposition than his
friend. Taller than Will by three inches, as fond as he of certain
athletic sports, still Foster was one whom enthusiasm never carried away
nor impulse controlled. When people spoke of him they often used the
word "steady" to describe him. Not so quick nor so brilliant as Will, he
was not able to arouse the response which his room-mate seldom failed to
elicit, nor was his promise in certain ways so great. Will might do
brilliant things, but of Foster it was said that 'one always knew where
to find him.' Naturally, the two boys in a measure complemented each
other, and their friendship was strong and lasting.

Peter John Schenck--no one ever thought of referring to him by another
term than "Peter John"--the third member of the high-school class to
which reference has already been made, was a boy who every morning had
driven into the little city of Sterling from his country home, and in
his general appearance was decidedly unlike either of his classmates.
The influences of his home had been of a different character from those
which had surrounded his two friends. Not that the love for him had been
less, but certain elements of refinement had been lacking and his
familiarity with the ways of the world was much less. Besides, his
father had been in humbler circumstances, and Peter John was to room in
college in Leland Hall, one of the oldest of the dormitories, where the
room rent was much less than in Perry Hall and more in accord with
Peter John's pocket. In school he had been made the butt of many a joke,
but his fund of good nature had never rebelled and his persistence was
never broken. Tall, ungainly, his trousers seemed to be in a perpetual
effort to withdraw as far as possible from his boots, while his hands
and wrists apparently were continually striving to evade the extremities
of his coat sleeves. His face was freckled, not the ordinary freckles
produced by the heat of the sun, but huge splotches that in color almost
matched his auburn-tinted hair--at least his sister was prone to declare
that the color of his hair was "auburn," though his less reverent
schoolmates were accustomed to refer to him as a "brick-top."

But Peter John was undeterred by the guying of his mates, and when he
had first declared his intention to go to college his words had been
received as a joke. But it was soon discovered that in whatever light
they might be received by others, to Peter John himself they were the
expression of a fixed purpose; and so it came to pass that he too had
passed the entrance examinations and was duly enrolled as a member of
the freshman class in Winthrop College.

When his determination had been accepted by his mates, some of them had
made use of their opportunities to enlarge upon the perils that lay
before him--perils for the most part from the terrible sophomores who
were supposed to be going about seeking their prey with all the
fierceness of a roaring lion. Peter John had listened to the marvelous
tales that were poured into his ears, but so far as his expression of
face was concerned, apparently they had been without effect.
Nevertheless, deep in his heart Peter John had stored them all and his
fear of the class above him had increased until at last just before he
departed from home he had written to his friend Will Phelps informing
him of his fears and begging that he and Foster would meet him at the
station and protect him from the fierce onslaughts, which, he confessed,
he expected would await him upon his arrival. This letter Will Phelps
had found at the little post office when he made inquiries for his mail,
and upon his return to his room it had provided the basis for the
conversation already recorded.

"We'd better go right down to the station, then, Will," Foster had said.

"All right. Peter John will be in mortal terror if he shouldn't find us
there. He probably believes the sophs will have a brass band and knives
and guns and will be drawn up on the platform ready to grab him just the
minute he steps off the car."

"Not quite so bad as that," laughed Foster. "But we'll have to help the
poor chap out."

"Sure. Come on, then," called Will as he seized his cap and started
toward the hallway.

"Hold on a minute. Wait till I lock the door."

"'Lock the door?' Not much! You mustn't do that."

"Why not?"

"It isn't polite."

"What are you talking about?" demanded Foster.

"Just what I'm telling you. Freshmen mustn't lock their doors, that's
not the thing. The janitor told me not to, because the sophs will take
it as a challenge to break it in. He said the college had to put sixty
new locks this summer on the doors here in Perry."

"Looks as if something had happened for a fact," said Foster slowly, as
he glanced at some huge cracks that were plainly visible in the panels.
"Sure 't'll be safe?"

"It'll be all right. The janitor says so. Come on! Come on, or we'll be
too late!"

The two boys ran swiftly down the stairway (their room was on the third
floor of the dormitory) and soon were on the street which was directly
in front of the building. As they walked rapidly in the direction of the
station, which was a half-mile or more distant from the college
buildings, the sight which greeted their eyes was one that stirred the
very depths of their hearts. The very buildings themselves were
impressive, some old and antiquated, dating back a century or more and
venerable with age, and others new and beautiful, the recent gifts of
some loyal alumni. From the huge clock in the tower of the chapel rang
out the chimes which announced that the hour of two was come and gone.
The beautifully kept grounds, the stately buildings, the very leaves on
the huge elms that grew about the grounds were all impressive at the
time to the boys to whom the entire picture was new.

In the wide street that led directly through the midst of the college
buildings, were passing young men of their own age, some of whom would
suddenly stop and grasp with fervor the hands of some students just
returned from the long summer vacation. From the windows of the
dormitories could be seen the faces of students who were leaning far out
and shouting their words of greeting to friends on the street below. The
September sun was warm and mellow, and as it found its way through the
thick foliage it also cast fantastic shadows upon the grass that seemed
to dance and leap in the very contagion of the young life that abounded
on every side. The very air was almost electric and the high hills in
the distance that shut in the valley and provided a framework for the
handiwork of nature, lent an additional charm to which Will Phelps was
unconsciously responding.

"I tell you, Foster, this is great! I'm glad I'm here!" he exclaimed.

"Are you?" replied Foster in his more subdued manner. "Well, I'm glad
too."

The scene upon the platform of the station was as animated and inspiring
as that about the college grounds. Groups of students were here awaiting
the coming of friends, and yet their impatience was hidden by the
enthusiasm of the moment. One group, consisting of twenty or more young
men, particularly interested Will, for their noise and exuberance seemed
to know no bounds. At last a young man, evidently a student though
slightly older than the most in the group, approached them and said:
"Here, you sophs! You're making too much noise. Children should be seen,
not heard."

"All right, pop," responded one; and for a time the noise decreased. But
it was not long before it broke forth afresh and became even more
violent than before. Both Will and Foster were curiously watching the
group; they almost instinctively looked upon them as natural enemies and
yet were compelled to laugh at their antics.

"Here you, taxi-driver," suddenly called out one of the sophomores
advancing from the midst of his classmates and approaching one of the
cabs, a line of which were drawn up near the platform.

"Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Here you are! Here you are! This way!" responded a
half-dozen of the taxi-drivers.

"Be still!" replied the young man solemnly to the noisy men. "Can't you
see I'm engaged with John? Now, John, tell me honestly, are you free?"

"Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Take you anywhere ye say," responded the driver
glibly.

"You're sure you're at liberty?"

"Yes, sir. Yes, sir."

"All right, then. I'm glad to hear it. I've a great respect for liberty.
That's all I wanted to know; thank you," he added, politely bowing; then
turning to his classmates he said: "I say, fellows, make it three for
liberty!"

The cheers were given with a will, and then the leader added solemnly,
"Let's make it three for our class, the best class that ever entered old
Winthrop! Now then!"

These cheers also were loudly given, but they ceased abruptly when it
was seen that the train, for whose coming they had been waiting, was now
approaching.



CHAPTER II

PETER JOHN'S ARRIVAL


Before the rumbling train halted at the station, there was a rush of
students toward it, all eager to welcome the incoming crowd, and every
one apparently being desirous of being the first to greet his friends.
Upon the platforms of the cars also crowds of students were to be seen,
waving their hats in the air or standing with their traveling bags in
their hands, all as eager as the boys at the station to be foremost in
the reunion scene.

Will Phelps and his room-mate stood a little back from the assembly and
watched the proceedings with an interest which neither could conceal. It
was all so stimulating, this animation and bustle and manifest eagerness
in renewing the college life, and to feel that they too were to have a
share in the possessions of these young men, scarcely one of whom was
known to them personally, was in itself sufficient to quicken their
pulses and arouse all the dormant forces of their nature. The train was
a long one and yet from every car came pouring forth the stream of
students and the excitement continued for several minutes.

Suddenly a shout went up from the crowd and there was a rush of students
toward the rear car. "There's Baker! Good old Sam! Hurrah for the
captain!" were among the cries that could be heard as the students
surged toward the platform, from which a sturdy young man could be seen
descending, apparently unmindful of the interest his coming had aroused
and striving to be indifferent to the cheers that greeted his arrival.

Will Phelps and Foster Bennett almost unconsciously moved with the
throng though they were not fully aware of the cause of the sudden
interest of the students. "It may be that he's the captain of the
football team," said Will in a low voice to his companion. "At any rate
the captain's name is Baker and probably this is the man."

Foster nodded his head but made no other reply as he stood watching the
young man as he stepped down from the platform. There could be no
question as to who he was, for the conquering hero was writ large upon
his powerful frame and the universal deference of the student body could
be accounted for only by the fact that a leader in Winthrop had arrived.

"Look there, Will," said Foster suddenly. "There's Peter John."

"Where?"

"Right behind Baker. Just coming out of the door. See him?"

"Yes," responded Will as he obtained a glimpse of his classmate just as
he was emerging from the doorway. Travel-stained, his hat pushed back on
his head, his eyes wildly staring about at the crowd, a huge carpet-bag
in his hand, his appearance certainly would have attracted the attention
of the spectators had it not been that their interest was apparently
centered in the mighty captain of the football team and they had no
thought for any one else.

Just as Baker stepped down, Peter John emerged from the car directly
behind the captain, and a cheer louder than any that before had been
given rose from the assembly.

Poor Peter John! Nervous and excited, conscious only of himself and his
strange surroundings, the startled freshman had no other thought than
that the cheers were meant for him and doubtless were intended as a war
cry from those enemies of whom he had heard such marvelous tales--the
sophomores. Wild-eyed, for a moment he seemed to be well-nigh paralyzed.
He stood motionless and gazed out at the surging mass of students almost
as if he were minded to turn back into the car and escape from the
threatening peril. But the pressure from behind was too strong to permit
him to carry out his intention and he was compelled to move forward. As
yet he had not seen his two waiting friends and his feeling of utter
loneliness swept over him afresh. From the lowest step he was about to
move when another mighty shout went up from the assembly and Peter John
looked helplessly about him as if he were convinced that his doom was
sealed and for him there was to be no escape.

Suddenly he darted from the midst of the crowd, sending two or three
young men who chanced to be in his way sprawling, and with his quaint
carpet-bag still tightly grasped in his hand fled directly back over the
railway ties. He had not gone far before his flight was perceived and a
shout of laughter and derision arose. Even the mighty Baker was ignored
in the fresh excitement and instantly a crowd of students started in
pursuit of the fleeing freshman.

"Hi, there! Stop, freshman! Wait a minute; we'll help carry your bag!
Look at the sprinter! Going home? Good-bye! Good-bye!" were among the
derisive cries that he heard. There could be no mistake, the attention
of the entire student body was upon him, he was convinced, and his speed
increased. His long legs, his flying coat tails, his flapping
carpet-bag, indeed his entire appearance was such that shrieks of
laughter arose from his pursuers, but Peter John never once glanced
behind him. Every fresh call served to increase his terror. Life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were about to be taken from him
and his sole hope depended upon his own exertions. It was do or die, and
Peter John preferred the former.

In a brief time the good-natured crowd abandoned its pursuit, and Peter
John Schenck was left to continue his lonely flight. Will Phelps and
Foster Bennett had joined in the laughter at first, for the ridiculous
flight of their classmate was well-nigh irresistible; but when it soon
became apparent that Peter John's terror was real and that he firmly
believed the entire college was in swift pursuit of him, their attitude
changed.

"It's too bad, Will," said Foster. "The poor chap is scared almost to
death."

"We can't help it. He'll have to learn some things, if not others,"
laughed Will.

"They're coming back," suggested Foster, as the pursuit was abandoned
and the students laughing boisterously returned to the station.

Peter John, however, was still fleeing and his long strides and his
wildly flapping carpet-bag could be distinctly seen as the frightened
freshman sped up the track. The body of students, however, had now
turned into the street that led back to the college grounds, and
apparently Peter John's wild flight was already forgotten.

"We must go after him," said Foster thoughtfully.

"Oh, leave him alone," replied Will. "He'll come back all right."

"You go up to the room and I'll go and look him up."

"Not much! If you go, then I go too! I may be the next victim and I
don't intend to be offered up alone. Come on, or he'll be clear back in
Sterling before we find him."

Will laughed as he spoke, and at once the two boys started up the track
in the direction in which their classmate had fled. He could not be seen
now for a bend in the road had concealed him from sight, and for a time
his two friends did not dare to run, being fearful that they too might
attract an undue amount of attention and bring upon themselves the many
ills from which they were striving to save their friend.

Apparently their departure from the station had not drawn the attention
of any one, and, as they became convinced that they were not being
followed, their own speed increased until they too had passed the bend
in the road, when they began to run swiftly. Nothing could be seen of
Peter John, and when they had gone a considerable distance Will Phelps
stopped and whistled.

At first there was no response, but when the signal had been thrice
repeated both boys heard the voice of their friend apparently coming
from behind the bushes growing on the bank directly beside them.

"All alone, Will?" called Peter John timidly.

"Yes. Yes. Where are you, Peter John?" responded Will, peering about
him, but as yet unable to determine where his friend was hiding.

"Here I am."

"Where's that?"

"Right here."

"Come out here where we are. Stand up like a little man and be counted."

"Sure nobody's with you?"

"Foster's here, that's all."

Slowly Peter John arose from his hiding-place and peered anxiously about
him. "It's all right. Come on!" called Will encouragingly. Thus bidden,
Peter John stepped forth, still holding tightly in his grasp his
precious carpet-bag. Will Phelps did not even laugh nor did he have any
inclination to do so as he perceived how genuine was the suffering of
the terrified boy.

"You needn't be afraid now, Peter John," he said soothingly. "You're all
right."

"That was a close call."

"Call for what?" demanded Foster sharply. Will turned and looked in
surprise at his room-mate, for the tone of his voice was very unlike
that which he had used when he had insisted that they should go to the
aid of their classmate.

"I tell you they were after me!" said Peter John, wiping his brow with a
huge handkerchief as he spoke.

"Who were after you?" demanded Foster still more sharply.

"The sophomores."

"Don't you believe it!"

"Why, they'd have got me if I hadn't put in my prettiest."

"Nobody would have paid any attention to you if you hadn't run. You drew
it all on yourself and have no one else to blame."

"Guess you weren't there when I landed! They gave such a yell when I
started from the cars as I never heard before in all my born days."

"Did you think they were yelling for you?"

"Of course I did. I knew they'd be waiting for me."

"Peter John, you've made a fool of yourself. There wasn't a soul there
except Will and me that knew there was such a fellow in all the world as
Peter John Schenck. Everybody in college will know it now, though."

"What made 'em yell so, then?" demanded Peter John.

"They weren't yelling for you at all. They were cheering for Baker, the
captain of the football team. He was just ahead of you."

"They were?"

"That's what I said." Foster smiled slightly as he spoke, for the
expression upon the face of Peter John was a study. Consternation,
incredulity, and partial unbelief in what Foster had said were all
expressed there, and his entire attitude was so indescribably ludicrous
as almost to be pathetic.

"Swan! I didn't know that," he said at last slowly.

"Well, you know it now."

"What shall I do?"

"'Do'? Do nothing. Just attend to your own business and let everything
else go."

"I thought I was attending to my own business," said Peter John
woefully.

"Oh, well, never mind, Peter John," broke in Will with a laugh. "It's
all over now and no bones broken."

"I wish it _was_ all over," said Foster in a low voice to Will.

"I wish it was too. He'll be the center of interest by to-morrow. And
really, Foster, it did beat anything I ever saw."

Foster Bennett smiled but made no reply, and together the three boys
began to retrace their way to the station. Peter John evidently was
somewhat crestfallen and seldom spoke. At the station no students were
seen, and the trio at once started up the street toward the college.

"I suppose my things are in my room," Peter John ventured to suggest.

"Yes, they're there all right. I went over this morning to see about
them."

"Thank you. I'll be pretty busy for the rest of the days I take it."

"That won't do you any harm. You can come over and sleep on the couch in
our room to-night if you would like to," suggested Foster.

"Are you all settled?"

"Pretty much. Enough so that we can make room for you. There's always
room for one more, you know." Foster spoke pleasantly and Peter John was
quick to respond. They were now near the college grounds, however, and
the interest of Peter John was quickly taken up in his surroundings.
Both Will and Foster were familiar with the name of every building by
this time, and their residence of three days in the college town had
already given to them a sense of part possession, and they glibly
explained to their classmate the name and use of each building as they
passed it until at last they halted before Leland Hall, where Peter John
was to have his room.

"I'd like to know who's to be my room-mate," he said as all three turned
into the low entry and began to mount the worn stairway.

"Probably he's thinking of the same thing too," laughed Will. "Here you
are," he added as he stopped before the door of a room on the third
floor. "Yours is twenty-six, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Well, here it is."

"Come on in, fellows," urged Peter John, opening the door as he spoke,
and all three found themselves in the presence of a young man of their
own age, who glanced quickly up from the box which he was unpacking as
they entered.



CHAPTER III

NEW FRIENDS AND NEW EXPERIENCES


"One of you, I fancy, is Schenck, who is to room here with me. I haven't
the remotest idea which one of you is the man, but whichever it is I'm
glad to see him."

The young man laughed heartily as he spoke, and all three of the
freshmen laughed in response so contagious was his good nature. But his
appearance was even more striking than his words, for he stood before
them like a young giant. He was at least six feet and three inches in
height, his shoulders were so broad that they made the very doorway
appear narrow, and as he stood before them without his coat and with his
shirt sleeves rolled back over his arms, the great knots of muscles
could be plainly seen. Altogether he presented a most impressive sight,
and his young classmates were duly impressed by his huge size and
evident physical strength.

"I'm Schenck," said Peter John, after a momentary hesitation.

"Glad to see you," exclaimed the young giant, stepping forward and
grasping his room-mate's hand in such a manner as to make Peter John
wince. "You know what my name is, I suppose. I'm Hawley. 'Cupe' Hawley
they called me in school because I was such a dainty and delicate little
specimen." And again his laughter broke forth. "Friends of yours,
Schenck?" he added, as he glanced inquiringly at the two companions of
his room-mate.

Will Phelps and Foster Bennett were at once introduced, and warmly
greeted their classmate.

"Sorry I can't offer you any seats, fellows," said Hawley, still
laughing, though there was no apparent cause for his enjoyment. "Haven't
got everything unpacked yet; but if you'll just wait a minute we'll find
something for you to sit on."

"We'll help you," said Will Phelps, at once laying aside his coat.

In their room he and Foster had done but little of the labor required in
unpacking their belongings, for neither had been accustomed to such
tasks in the homes from which they had come. Their fathers both were
well-to-do and it had not occurred to either of the boys that the manual
labor in settling their room was something to be expected of them. For a
moment Foster glanced quizzically at his friend as if he was puzzled to
account for his unexpected proffer, but knowing Will's impulsiveness as
he did he was quick to respond, and in a brief time the few belongings
of Peter John and his room-mate were unpacked and the beds were set up,
the shades at the windows, and the few scanty belongings all arranged.

"I didn't bring a carpet. Did you?" inquired Hawley of Schenck.

"No," replied Peter John.

"We can get along without one. I haven't any money to spare, and carpets
are luxuries anyway. If we feel like it we can buy one afterwards.
They're dangerous things though," and Hawley laughed as he spoke. "My
doctor says they're the worst sources of contagion in the world, and
whatever else I do I must be careful of my health." Again the laugh of
the young giant rang out, and in its contagion all three of his
classmates joined.

And yet as Will Phelps glanced about the room its appearance was
pitifully bare. The furniture was of the plainest, the walls were bare
of pictures, there were none of the numerous pillows and other tokens of
the warm regard of friends that had accompanied himself and his
room-mate into the new life upon which they had entered. Apparently,
however, Hawley was as delighted over his surroundings as he and Foster
over theirs, perhaps even more, and Will was thoughtful for a moment as
he silently watched his newly made friend.

"How did you happen to come to Winthrop?" he inquired at last when the
task of settling the room was measurably complete and all four had
seated themselves on the rude wooden chairs which made up most of the
furnishings of the room.

"I didn't 'happen' to come." Somehow everything appeared to be a source
of enjoyment to Hawley, and questions or remarks were alike greeted with
a laugh.

"What made you, then?"

"Isn't Winthrop the best college in the United States?" demanded Hawley.

"Yes, or at least that's what my father thinks. He graduated here and it
may be that his opinion is a little prejudiced. Is that why you came?"

"Partly." Again Hawley laughed and closed one eye as he spoke.

"I can give a guess what the other reason was," said Foster.

"What was it?"

"Football."

Hawley laughed loudly this time as he replied, "You're 'a very Daniel
come to judgment.' That's from the 'Merchant of Venice,' isn't it? Well,
if it is, it's about all I remember of my English course. Well, I'll be
honest with you. I did see Baker this summer, and he set before me the
advantages of coming to Winthrop in such a way that I couldn't very well
say no. And I didn't, so here I am."

"Did he offer to pay you?" demanded Peter John.

"Did he offer _what?_" demanded Hawley.

Somewhat abashed Peter John did not repeat his question, and his
room-mate at once turned the conversation into other lines. "We had a
pretty good football team in the academy where I fitted for college, and
there were several colleges, or at least the football men of the
college, who seemed to be quite willing that some of our fellows should
go to them. We had a half-back who was a dandy! His name was Patrick
O'Hara, and he passed better in football than he did in any other
subject in the course." And Hawley stopped to laugh at the recollection
of his former fellow-student. "Pat wasn't very much of a hand to study,
and when one of the men from White College suggested to him that he
should come there, why Pat was delighted. 'What studies will you take?'
asked the fellow, for you see he knew without being told that Pat
wouldn't be valedictorian of his class whatever other honor he might
take, and he was trying to make it easy for him. 'Well,' said Pat,
''bedad, an' if it's all th' same t' yez, I'm thinkin' I'll just be
afther takin' a bit o' the spellin' an' perhaps a bit o' figurin'. How
do thot be afther suitin' yez'?"

All the boys joined in the laugh with which Hawley related the story,
and Will Phelps said, "Where did Pat go?"

"Well," said Hawley slowly, "he has gone to White College."

"Do you mean to say he has _entered_ there?" demanded Will.

"That's what they tell me, though I've a notion he'll come out the same
door he went in, and he won't tarry long either. Probably soon after the
season ends."

"But we play White College. It's one of our nearest rivals," suggested
Will. "But then," he added, "that's just like them. They never do a
thing on the square anyway!"

Hawley pursed his lips as if he was about to whistle, but he did not
speak though his eyes twinkled with merriment as if Will's statement
somehow was hugely enjoyed by him. Foster Bennett noticing the
expression on Hawley's face, also laughed, but he did not reply to his
room-mate's very positive declaration. There were some things which Will
could not understand, for with his intense and impulsive disposition the
one thing which impressed him at the time was capable of only one
interpretation. His confidence in Winthrop and his dislike of its rival
college were therefore only what were to be expected of his friend.

"Obliged to you, fellows," said Hawley, as Will Phelps and Foster
Bennett rose to depart. "Come in and see us often."

"You'll see enough of us from now on," responded Will as he and his
room-mate departed.

As the two passed out into the street and returned to their own room
Foster said, "It's pretty bare there in Leland, isn't it, Will?"

"Yes. They both seem to be happy though."

"Not much like our room."

"No. But then, Foster, you see they don't know the difference."

Foster smiled but made no response, and Will continued. "You see
everything in this world is relative. A man doesn't miss what he never
had, does he?"

"Perhaps not."

"Now look here, Foster. Do you think a blind man suffers because he
can't see? I mean a man who was born blind, of course."

"What then?"

"Why, the man I'm sorry for is the one that could see once and has lost
his sight. He knows, let me tell you, what he's lost. But the other man
doesn't appreciate it. He never could see, so he couldn't lose his
sight, could he? Tell me that."

"So you wouldn't do anything to help him?"

"I didn't say that. I didn't say that at all. All I say is that the
fellow I'm sorry for is the one who has had and lost, not the one who
never had. Now look at Peter John, and Hawley. Their room isn't so good
as ours, but it probably is just as good as they expected, or have been
used to, so they don't suffer any."

"And if you and I had to put up with their room--"

"Why, we'd feel it."

"It's a mighty comfortable way of looking at things, that's all I have
to say."

"But it's the true way," said Will glibly. "There's one thing I'm mighty
glad of for Peter John's sake."

"What is it?"

"That he rooms with Hawley. I don't believe the sophs will bother him
very much."

"Not when Hawley's on hand."

"You think they will when he's not?"

"Yes, sir, I do. Peter John just invites them. It stands right out on
his face."

"Sort of a standing invitation, so to speak?" laughed Will Phelps.
"Well, for my part, I hope he won't be too fresh. There's everything in
that, you know."

"And therefore we'll go scot free?"

"Well, Hawley is a great fellow anyway; and I'm glad he's in our class."

"He's big, anyway."

"That's what I said."

"No you didn't, you said great."

"Same thing."

"Not much. A man can be big without being great, can't he? Caesar and
Napoleon were not big men, but I think you'd sum up that they were
great."

"Great butchers, if that's what you mean. You always spin it out too
fine for me, Foster."

Foster Bennett laughed and both boys entered their room to prepare for
dinner. They still were taking their meals at the hotel, as their
boarding-place had not been selected. In the thoughts of both it was a
selection of too much importance to be made hastily, and they were
therefore waiting until they became more familiar with the details of
their new life.

It was all novel and interesting, and on the following day the first
class meeting was held. A dignified junior presided at the meeting, and
after explaining what was expected and that the class officers to be
selected were to serve only for a month, when it was thought that the
members of the class would have become sufficiently acquainted with one
another to enable them to act with becoming wisdom, he called for
nominations for class president.

Peter John Schenck immediately arose and said, "I nominate Hawley."

The nomination was seconded, and there were calls for Hawley to step to
the platform and stand where all the class could see him. The young
giant obediently advanced and taking his place beside Spencer, who also
was nominated for the office, awaited the verdict. There were cheers
when it was announced that Hawley had won, and the junior then called
for nominations for secretary and treasurer.

Again Peter John arose to the occasion and said, "I nominate Phelps."

Will's face flushed scarlet at the unexpected words but his room-mate
at once had seconded the nomination, and he was compelled to advance to
the platform and stand beside Farmer and McVey, whose names were also
presented for the same office. There was some confusion for a time, but
quiet was restored when the result of the ballot was announced.



CHAPTER IV

A CLOUD OF WITNESSES


Will Phelps had been elected temporary secretary and treasurer of his
class, the choice having been made chiefly because his appearance, as he
stood on the platform, pleased his classmates, and not because of any
general acquaintance that had been formed. And yet his election had
brought him at once into a certain prominence, and doubtless Will was
duly appreciative of the honor bestowed upon him.

The member of the junior class to whom had been entrusted the organizing
of the freshmen now rose to give some general words of advice before the
meeting was adjourned. "There are some things in college," he was
saying, "that have the force of laws. Some of them will appear foolish
to you, it may be, and yet it will be more foolish to disregard them.
For example, freshmen are not expected to go up to the hotel parlors in
the evening, it would be decidedly better for them not to display on
their caps or jersey the letters or numerals of the schools from which
they have come, and they must not tack their cards on the doors of their
rooms." Walker, the junior, continued his directions until he thought he
had covered most of the details of the life upon which the incoming
class was entering, but his remarks were not completed when Peter John
Schenck arose from his seat and stood facing the president. There was a
momentary pause as Walker ceased speaking, and the eyes of all the
class were turned toward Peter John.

After due deliberation, Peter John said in a loud voice, "Mr. President,
I move that we adjourn."

The hush that followed was broken by a loud laugh which had been started
by Walker himself. Peter John, however, glanced about the room as if he
was unable to perceive what it was that had caused the outbreak.
Apparently unabashed, he again turned to the class president and said,
"Isn't a motion to adjourn always in order, Mr. President? If it is,
then I repeat my former motion. I move that we adjourn."

Hawley was too good-natured to treat the interruption as it deserved, so
he said, "Is the motion seconded?"

Apparently it was not, and still unabashed, Peter John again took his
seat while Walker resumed his remarks.

"I don't know that I have anything more to say, only to tell you fellows
to be careful. College traditions and customs have all the force of
laws, and though some of them may seem to be foolish, still I believe in
the main they help to make the life here what it is, and that's what you
all want to get. If you have any questions to ask, don't be afraid to
come to me with them, or to any of the juniors, and you'll be given all
we know, which, though I can promise you it may not be much, still may
be just a little more than you know. Or, perhaps, some of you," he
added, glancing quizzically in the direction of Peter John Schenck as he
spoke.

When Walker departed from the room, Peter John was again the first to
arise. "I move we adjourn," he said in a loud voice.

"Second the motion," said Foster Bennett quickly. The motion was put and
instantly carried, and the class passed out from the room.

"It was anything to shut up Peter John," Foster explained to Will as he
joined his room-mate. "Did you ever see the like?"

"I never did," laughed Will. "I feel almost guilty to be acting as
secretary for the class. If we had ten other offices to vote upon, I
believe Peter John would have made the first nomination for every one."

"He certainly is the freshest freshman in the whole bunch."

"Yes, he doesn't know enough to know that he doesn't know, and that's
about as far down as a fellow can go in his ignorance, you know."

"What shall we do for him?"

"Nothing."

"But he'll have trouble."

"Sure."

"I'd hate to see him catch it too hard."

"You can't save him, Foster. He's got to learn his lesson. The idea of
his being on his feet so much to-day."

"Well, he helped us to some good officers anyway, I'll say that much for
him," laughed Foster. "But if he made such an impression on our class,
what'll he do for the sophomores?"

"You'd better be thinking about what they'll do for him."

Walker now joined the two boys, introducing himself to each, and
accompanying them to their room, where he entered and took a seat at
their invitation. He was a fine-looking young man and of most agreeable
manners, so that soon both Will and Foster were delighted with him
personally and appreciative of the honor of the visit from their
visitor.

"No," Walker was saying, "the hazing doesn't amount to anything much in
Winthrop. It's nothing more than a little good-natured 'horse play' for
the most part. Of course, once in a while a fellow gets a little more
attention than the rest of the class; but as a rule it's his own fault.
You have a classmate that'll be very popular with the sophs, if he
doesn't look out," he added with a laugh.

"Who's that?" inquired Will, with a wink at his room-mate.

"The chap that was on his feet so much in the class meeting this
afternoon."

"We were just talking about him," said Foster quickly. "You know he
fitted at the same school where we did, and naturally we want to lend
him a hand when we can. What had we better do?"

"Nothing."

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I say. You can't do much for such a fellow; he has to learn
it all for himself. The trouble is that he doesn't know how much or what
he's got to learn yet. You can't do much for such a--"

Walker stopped abruptly as Peter John himself entered the room. His face
was beaming, and as he removed his hat his stiff red hair seemed almost
to rise on his head. "Well, fellows," he said, "we did things up brown
this afternoon, didn't we?"

"You did too much," said Walker quietly.

"Haven't I as good a right as anybody to make a motion?" demanded Peter
John hotly.

"You have as much right, but you don't want always to take all your
rights, you know."

"Why not? I'll stand up for my rights every time. Now, I don't believe a
word of what you said this afternoon."

"You're complimentary; but you're under no obligations to believe me,"
laughed Walker.

"I don't mean just that. What I mean is that I'd like to see the
sophomore who'd tell me what I could wear or what I couldn't; or where I
could go and where I couldn't. He hasn't anything to say about that."

"He thinks he has," suggested Walker quietly.

"I don't care what he thinks. I know my rights, and I intend to stand up
for them too!"

"Is that why you were running up the railroad track the day when you
came to Winthrop?" demanded Will Phelps.

"Never you mind about that!" retorted Peter John in nowise abashed.
"That was when I didn't know as much as I do now."

"Three or four days will do great things for a fellow," remarked Walker
dryly.

"Yes, sir, that's so. You're right about that," acknowledged Peter John
graciously. "Say, fellows, what are you going to do about these Greek
letter societies?" he inquired abruptly, turning to his two classmates
as he spoke.

Both Will Phelps and Foster Bennett glanced uneasily at Walker, but the
junior only smiled and made no response. It was apparent though that the
topic Peter John had broached was one upon which all three had been
conferring.

"We haven't done anything as yet," said Foster.

"Neither have I," acknowledged Peter John. "I thought I'd take my time
before I decided which one I'd join. I suppose I'll have to write home
to pa, but he won't know as much about it as I do."

"We live and learn," said Walker as he rose to depart. "I'll see you
to-night?" he inquired of Will and Foster as he stopped for a moment in
the doorway. Will glanced questioningly at his room-mate and then said:
"Thank you, Walker. We'll be very glad to come."

"Where you going? What did he want?" demanded Peter John when Walker was
gone.

"It was something personal," said Foster. "Walker thinks you'll have to
walk the chalk line, Peter John, or you'll have trouble with the sophs."

"He does, does he? Well, I'll show him. I'd like to know what right
they've got to tell me what to do. I'll do as I please! My chum--"

It was instantly plain to the boys now the cause for this sudden and
strange change in Peter John's attitude. He was relying upon the prowess
of Hawley to protect him now and apparently was confident that he would
not be molested since he roomed with the young giant whose name already
was known throughout the college and from whom such great things were
expected for the football team.

"Don't depend too much upon Hawley! He can't be everywhere, remember,"
said Foster warningly.

"I'll show 'em, if they come near me!" retorted Peter John as he
departed.

For several days the college life went on quietly and the boys were
becoming somewhat accustomed to their new surroundings. There had been a
"sweater rush" between the two lower classes, in which Hawley had been
entrusted with the precious sweater, and, surrounded by his classmates,
successfully defended it against the onslaught of the sophomores. The
struggle had been severe but in good part, and the worst results had
been some torn clothing and bruised faces. The freshmen wore upon their
arms a strip of white cloth to enable them to distinguish their own
comrades, and great was their elation when after the time limit had
expired, it was discovered that the coveted sweater was unharmed. The
strength of Hawley had been as the strength of ten and his praises were
in every mouth.

Into this struggle Will Phelps had thrown himself with all his might,
and when he joyfully emerged from the struggling mass of humanity
gathered about Hawley his rejoicing was great and his cheers for the
class were among the loudest.

On the border of the crowd he had perceived Peter John, but his
classmate displayed no evidence of the recent struggle and Will was
about to question him, when Peter John himself said, "Come over to my
room to-night, Will."

"All right." Will Phelps had promised readily, and then the matter
departed from his mind as he rushed about among his classmates.

That evening he suddenly glanced up from the book he was studying and
said to his room-mate: "Foster, I agreed to go over to Peter John's room
to-night. Want to go?"

"Can't say that I'm pining for it. What does he want?"

"I don't know. He seemed to be very much in earnest about it, though."

"Is it much nearer from here to his room than it is from his room to
ours? If he wanted to see you so much, why didn't he come over here?"

"That isn't Peter John's way," laughed Will. "I promised to go, so I
think I'll run over for a minute. I'll be back pretty soon."

"If you need me let me know," called Foster as Will departed, and he
then at once resumed his task.

Will Phelps ran across the campus to Leland Hall, and as he turned in at
the dimly lighted hall the contrast between his own surroundings and
those in which he now found himself was for the moment almost painful.
The stone step at the entrance had been worn away by the passing of
boyish feet over it for more than a century. For a moment there flashed
into his mind the thought of the eager lives that there had been trained
and long since had passed over into the land beyond. Will himself was
the fourth generation in direct descent in his own family to enter
Winthrop, and as he now passed slowly up the rough, narrow, and worn
stairway, he found himself thinking of his own father and grandfather
and great-grandfather, all of whom doubtless had many a time been in the
very same hallway where he himself then was. Even then from far down
the street came the sounds of song and laughter of some passing body of
students and the faint sound he could hear was for the moment almost
like the echo of long past days. The very hall seemed to echo also with
the footfalls of students who had long since completed their course and
passed on. He was surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.

Suddenly from the floor above him came the sound of noisy shouts and
shrieks of laughter. The vision of other days and other men instantly
departed, and the full force of the appeal of the present swept over
him. Bounding up the steps, two at a time, he swiftly came to the third
floor and then stopped abruptly as the shouts were redoubled and
evidently came from Peter John Schenck's room.

For a moment Will hesitated, almost tempted to turn back, but his
feeling of curiosity was strong and resolutely he advanced and rapped
upon the door. This was quickly opened and Will stepped inside the room.
The door had instantly been closed and bolted behind him, but Will was
hardly aware of that so interested was he in the sight upon which he
gazed in the room which was filled with a noisy group of students.



CHAPTER V

UNSOUGHT ATTENTIONS


One glance about him had been sufficient to convince Will Phelps that
his classmates were suffering from a visit of the sophomores, a dozen or
more of whom he recognized as being in the room. He looked quickly
behind him at the door, but this already had been closed and three of
the stalwart sophomores were standing with their backs against it, the
others being stationed at different points about the room. In the center
stood Mott, a lusty sophomore whom he had frequently seen and whose
general bearing he had intensely disliked, for his face bore the
unmistakable traces of dissipation and his bearing was that of a rowdy.
The fact that Mott had secured a high position among the college
athletes had in a measure made amends for his low tendencies of life in
the eyes of his thoughtless mates, but though he was by nature somewhat
of a leader still his personal popularity was low, and it was only his
physical prowess that gave him any standing.

Seated upon one end of his study table was Hawley, his face beaming with
good nature and smiling broadly as he faced the assembly in the room. In
one corner Peter John was standing, his back against the wall and in his
hands was one of the heavy wooden chairs which he was grasping by the
rounds. Even in the somewhat dim light Will could see that the great
splotches of red on Peter John's face appeared to be larger and of a
more fiery tint than usual, and his coarse red hair fairly stood on
end. There was an expression of mingled terror and wild, almost
ungovernable, rage on his face, and Will knew what that portended at
that time. A brief silence had followed Will's entrance, and Mott had
turned to some of his comrades and a meaning smile appeared for a moment
on his face as he perceived who the new-comer was. In a moment, however,
the tense stillness of the room returned, and Mott, turning to Peter
John, said:

"Now, then, freshman, are you ready?"

"I'll brain the first man that comes near me! Don't you lay a finger on
me or I'll break your head! This is my room and I'll have you understand
that you can't play any of your dirty tricks on me!"

Peter John's voice rose almost to a shriek, and lifting the chair he
gazed menacingly at Mott, almost as if he was minded to rush upon him.
Hawley laughed as his room-mate spoke, but Will's face became pale and
he could almost hear the beating of his own heart, so intensely excited
was he. He understood Peter John's disposition better than any of those
who were in the room, and his fear of what might follow was great.

"We'll give you one more chance," said Mott slowly.

"I don't want any more chances. I want you to get out of this room! I
didn't ask you to come! You've no right here!" shouted Peter John.

"You didn't have to ask us," retorted Mott. "We came because you need us
and for the good of the college. Come, freshman, do what I tell you."

"Don't you come near--" began Peter John, but the sentence was not
completed. At some unseen signal a half-dozen sprang upon him. Before he
could bring down the chair which he still was holding above his head he
was suddenly seized by his adversaries, the chair was wrenched from his
hands, he was thrown heavily to the floor, and in a moment his hands and
feet were fast bound with cords, and he was a helpless prisoner. Still
he did not cease his struggling, but as he twisted and writhed he only
drew the cords more tightly and made his own helplessness more apparent.

"I know who you are!" he shrieked. "I'll report you, every one! I'll
give the whole list of your names to the president! I'll have you
arrested! I'll put you in jail! You're a lot of thieves and low-down
scoundrels! I'll have you put where you won't abuse anybody any more!"
Peter John's voice rose with every fresh threat until at last it almost
broke in a sob. He was almost beside himself, and Will Phelps, though he
shared in the anger of his classmate, was rejoiced that he was helpless
and could not do what his desperation prompted.

"Tie your handkerchief over his mouth, Hines," said Mott to one of his
companions. "We must hush the infant's wailings or he'll have the whole
of Winthrop up here. He seems to have some language besides that of the
ordinary 'infant crying in the night'."

At Mott's direction Hines and two of his classmates at once securely
bound a handkerchief about Peter John's face, a task that was not
accomplished without a desperate struggle.

"Now then, since he seems to be quieted," said Mott at last, when his
bidding had been done, "we'll turn to the other part of the program.
Here, you freshman," he added, turning to Will Phelps as he spoke, "step
up here and take your seat beside your classmate."

For an instant Will hesitated. The sight of Peter John roused every
instinct of combativeness which he possessed, and that was by no means
small, but a laugh from Hawley restored a measure of self-possession,
and quietly and without a word he seated himself on the table by the
side of his friend.

"Good! That's the way to do it! Now then, Hawley," said Mott, "you've
got to get rid of that eternal grin of yours. Wipe that smile off your
face and throw it out of the window."

Hawley laughed aloud as he said, "I've been trying to get rid of it for
nineteen years, but I haven't succeeded yet. If you fellows will show me
how to do it I'll be yours truly now and for evermore."

Some of the sophomores laughed, but Mott glared angrily at them as he
said, "Quit that!" Then turning again to Hawley he said, "Oh, we'll help
you all right enough. Just do as I tell you!"

"How shall I do it?"

"Take your handkerchief and wipe that smile off your face and throw it
out of the window as I tell you."

Hawley drew a huge handkerchief from his pocket with which he vigorously
rubbed his face, and then going soberly to the window pretended to throw
something out; but when he returned to his seat his laughter became
uncontrollable and he broke forth into a loud guffaw, in which some of
the assembly joined.

At Mott's rebuke the laughter ceased, and then he said again to Hawley,
"That won't do, freshman. You're not rid of it yet. Try it again!"

Six times the huge and good-natured freshman was compelled to repeat his
senseless and silly performance, and then Mott declared that he was
satisfied.

"Don't have a relapse," he said warningly, and then, turning to Will
Phelps, he said, "Now I want my nice little boy, mamma's pet and papa's
joy, to show what a good little boy he really is. He isn't going to do
any of the naughty things that some of the wicked little college boys
do. He is strong, he is, and he promised mamma he wouldn't, and he
won't. Let's give him a song, fellows," he added, turning to his
classmates, and at once the boys began to sing:

    "We're coming, we're coming, our brave little band,
    On the right side of temperance we always do stand;
    We don't use tobacco, for this we do think,
    That those who do use it most always do drink."

Some of the singers had very musical voices and the simple little ditty
sounded very clear and strong as they all joined in it. Will Phelps,
however, was thinking of what it was that would be required of him. Then
flashed into his mind the last conversation he had had with his mother
and in which he had given her a promise not unlike that at which Mott
had hinted. And he intended to keep it too, he assured himself. Come
what might, he would not break it. He even smiled slightly as he
thought of what his mother's feelings would be if she could look into
Peter John's room and see what was then going on there.

As the song ceased abruptly Will said, "What is it you want me to do,
Mott?"

"Well, now, freshman, that's cool. You can't help being a freshman, but
it's not well even for a freshman to be too fresh. Ever hear the like of
that, fellows?" he inquired of his classmates.

"Never did. Never did," responded several, shaking their heads soberly.

"Just think of it," began Mott again. "Here's a freshman who is so
anxious to get into our good graces that he's not only willing to do
what we tell him but he even comes and asks us what it is we want him to
do. That beats anything old Winthrop has ever seen yet."

Will's face flushed, but he was silent, though Hawley began to laugh
again. "Now, then, freshman," said Mott, pointing his finger at Will,
"we want you to get down on the floor and wrestle with temptation."

"There's nothing here that tempts me very much," replied Will coolly,
and Hawley promptly laughed aloud.

"You do as I tell you! Get down on the floor and wrestle with
temptation," demanded Mott sharply.

"I don't mind doing it if it will please you any," responded Will as he
slipped from his seat on the table to the floor.

"That's the way. Now then, papa's joy and mamma's pet, show us how it
is that you do the trick."

Stretched upon the floor, Will Phelps went through his struggle with an
imaginary foe. He twisted and writhed and struggled, shrieks of laughter
greeting his efforts from the assembled sophomores, and even Hawley
joined in, so ridiculous was the appearance which Will presented.

"That's very good, very good indeed!" remarked Mott when several minutes
had elapsed. "You'd better get up now and take a seat beside your
friend."

Will quickly did as he was bidden, laughing slightly as he glanced at
Hawley, whose imperturbable good nature was not in anywise ruffled.

"Hawley, you're a great football player, I understand," said Mott.

"I'm a big player, can't say that I'm great. Some fellows might think
so, but it depends on whether they've seen much or know much, I fancy."

"That's right. You're as modest as Mary's little lamb. I hear you're a
great sprinter," he added, turning abruptly to Will Phelps.

"Oh, I can run a little. If you'll give me the chance now I'll show you
how I can leave the sophs behind," said Will with a laugh, for he was
now feeling somewhat the effects of Hawley's manner of meeting his
tormentors, and as he glanced down at Peter John it required no deep
insight to perceive which was the better way.

The boys in the room laughed good-naturedly and one of them said,
"That's enough, Mott. They don't need any more."

"Hold on, I'm not done yet," replied Mott. "Tell me what's the name of
the little school from which you came," he demanded of Will.

"The Sterling High School."

"And you ran there?"

"A little."

"Get any medals?"

"A few."

"Nice ones! Got any here?"

On his fob Will wore the gold medal he had won the preceding June, but
he laughed and made no reply to Mott's question, fearful of incurring
further ridicule if he should display the trophy.

"Did you run against the track team of the Meadowbrook Academy?"
inquired Mott.

"No. Is that where you fitted?" replied Will simply. Hawley broke into
another loud laugh and Mott's face flushed. Will perceived that he had
made a mistake and his better plan would be to say as little as
possible, whatever the provocation might be or the opening his adversary
might give him.

"Did you beat the fast sprinter from the Toad Hollow Institute?"
demanded Mott.

"Can't say that I did. I never heard of the school till now."

"Ever run against anybody from the Honeyville Classical Seminary?"

"No."

"Or from the Smartville Four Corners team?"

"We didn't have anything to do with those schools. We weren't in their
class."

"Oh, let up, Mott. We've done enough. Let 'em go now," suggested one of
the sophomores.

"Not yet," responded Mott. "We must have these freshmen give us an
exhibition of what they can do. You fellows take off your collars," he
said, turning again to Will and his classmate.

For an instant Will Phelps hesitated and there was a sudden tightening
of the muscles in his arms, but Hawley, good-natured and imperturbable
as ever, at once removed his collar and Will quietly followed his
example.

"That's good," said Mott encouragingly. "Now take out your collar
buttons."

Both freshmen obeyed, wondering what was to be required of them. Their
curiosity was speedily relieved when Mott said, "We'll have a
collar-button race. You two athletes put these buttons on the floor and
push them across to the other side of the room with your noses. The one
that wins will make the track team here I haven't a doubt."

Hawley again laughed loudly as he and Will took the places assigned
them. For a moment their faces were near together and Hawley whispered a
few words in Will's ear. His companion's eyes flashed in response, but
he did not reply, and in a moment, at Mott's word, the race was begun.



CHAPTER VI

A RACE IN THE DARKNESS


Slowly and steadily the two freshmen began to push the collar buttons
across the floor. The floor itself was uncarpeted and not particularly
clean, and the position and actions of the two boys certainly did not
add to their dignity; but there was not a trace of a smile to be seen on
the face of either as they complied with the demands which had been
made. The sophomores in the room were also serious, that is, all were
save one, and, as he laughed aloud at the ridiculous aspect of their
victims, Mott said savagely, "Put him out! He's no business here? Get
out of this room!"

The offending sophomore, despite his protests and his promise to "be
good," was thrust out from the room, and the race was then resumed.
Whenever either of the contestants lagged or one seemed to be gaining
slightly upon the other he was sharply bidden to make good his loss, and
when the two freshmen had come near the side of the room which they were
seeking to gain the collar buttons were close together and each freshman
could see the expression on his companion's face. Perhaps it was well
for them both that the members of the rival class could not see the
quiet glance which Hawley gave Will nor its equally keen response, but
the look was understood by both freshmen and they were aware that the
critical time in the contest was approaching.

They were by this time within two feet of the door which opened into
the hall. The sophomores who had been standing in front of it now moved
back to give the contestants room, and as Hawley perceived that the way
was clear, after looking up for a moment and glancing keenly at his
classmate, he suddenly leaped to his feet and Will instantly followed
his example. Before the astonished sophomores were fully aware of what
was occurring both had darted through the doorway after Hawley had with
almost incredible quickness flung open the door. Instantly it was
closed, and Hawley, seizing the iron handle of the catch and putting
forth all his strength, braced his feet against the wall and prepared to
hold the inmates prisoners in the room.

"Get Andrews and Briggs!" whispered Hawley, and Will quickly darted
across the hallway to the room of his two classmates. A word was
sufficient to inform them of what was occurring, and in an incredibly
brief time all three were standing beside Hawley.

The giant freshman was holding the door, which opened inward, easily,
though the sophomores in the room were striving desperately on their
side. But Hawley had the strong handle and only the tiny latch could be
seized from within. Numbers counted for nothing in this struggle, as
only one could pull at a time.

The silence in the building was unbroken, though the first thought of
the bold freshmen had been that their sophs would throw open the window
and summon their classmates to their aid. Whether it was due to their
excitement or to the fact that they did not wish to have their
predicament known, Will Phelps never learned, but no outcry was made,
though the steady pull upon the door continued.

"I've got 'em!" whispered Hawley gleefully. "If the latch doesn't give
way they won't see outdoors again till I give 'em leave. Run, Will!" he
added hastily. "Get twenty of our fellows here as soon as you can and
we'll fix 'em yet. I can hold on here forever!"

Leaving his classmates at the doorway, Will Phelps ran swiftly down the
stairs and sped across the campus to his own room. He found his
room-mate seated at his desk, evidently hard at work. Foster glanced up
reprovingly as Will burst into the room and said, "I thought, Will, you
were--"

He stopped abruptly as he perceived how excited his classmate was, but
before he could make any inquiries Will broke in: "We've got a lot of
sophs shut up in Peter John's room! Get some of the fellows and make for
the room! Hawley's holding 'em in! Tell Jones and Camp to come and then
tell them to get some more and every one to bring two or three with him.
Get some more yourself and I'll do the same."

Before his astonished room-mate could make any further inquiries, Will
darted out of the room and ran down the stairway covering three steps at
a leap. But Foster understood what it was that was demanded of him, and,
without hesitating an instant, seized his cap and swiftly followed.

The scheme worked marvelously well, and within five minutes a band of
twenty-five freshmen had assembled in the hall in front of Peter John's
and Hawley's room in Leland. Hawley was still holding the door and no
outcry from within the room had been heard.

"How many sophs room in this entry?" said Will quickly.

"Four," replied Hawley. "Two in the front corner room on the second
floor and two in the back corner."

"Can you hold on till we can fix them?"

"I can hold on forever. But you'd better be quick about it."

At Will's word four of his classmates followed him to the floor below
and two were speedily assigned to hold one door while two more held the
other. They were to be quiet, and, if no outbreak was made, then they
were not to make their presence known, but under no circumstances were
the sophomores to be permitted to come out from their rooms.

As soon as this arrangement had been perfected Will ran swiftly back to
join Hawley and his classmates on the floor above. Hawley was still
standing at his post of duty, but as Will approached he laughed silently
and whispered:

"What'll we do now, fellows?"

Several whispered suggestions were made, but at last it was agreed that
the assembled freshmen should step back on either side and that Hawley
should permit the door to be partly opened. It was confidently believed
that the sophomores would rush out, and, if they did, a half-dozen were
to be permitted to come forth and these were to be seized as silently as
possible and bound by the freshmen as their own unfortunate classmate,
Peter John Schenck, had already been treated. When a few had emerged
and been seized then Hawley was to strive to close the door again and
hold the others within, and, with the force thus divided, no strong
resistance could be made and the treatment which they were to receive
could be determined upon.

As soon as this decision had been made Hawley withdrew from the door,
but there was no pressure upon it from within, and for a moment the
assembled freshmen stared blankly at one another as if they feared that
their game had escaped them and that they themselves were the ones to
appear in the unenviable light. Will Phelps advanced as if he was about
to open the door, but a silent gesture from Hawley caused him to abandon
the project. As he stepped back the latch clicked and the door was
suddenly opened. Evidently the inmates were surprised that the door was
free, and three or four cautiously stepped forth to peer into the dimly
lighted hall. Before they were fully aware of the true condition of
affairs they were seized by the waiting freshmen. There were sounds of a
momentary struggle, but when those who were within the room attempted to
come forth the door was quickly closed in their faces and they were
prisoners again. The four who had been seized were quickly bound, and
then the assembly turned once more to the door itself.

"We'll go in," said Hawley, "and you musn't let a soph get past you. We
must hold every one in there. Now then!" he added, as he pushed gently
against the door.

But the door failed to yield to the pressure. For a moment the astounded
freshmen knew not what to make of the unexpected resistance, and then
as a slight sound from within the room could be heard, Hawley grimly
braced himself against the door and whispering to his classmates began
to exert all his strength in his endeavor to open it.

For a brief time it resisted all their efforts, and then with a
resounding crash it suddenly yielded. But it seemed to the startled
freshmen as if the very walls themselves were giving way. There were the
sound of falling pieces of furniture and in the midst of the confusion
several of the sophomores suddenly darted from the room, and before
their enemies could recover from their surprise had gained the head of
the stairway and were fleeing from the building.

"Take after 'em! Don't let 'em get away!" called Hawley. "Hold on, it's
all right," he quickly added as he perceived Mott in the room. "We don't
care for anybody else for we've got the ringleader right here. Let 'em
go! Let 'em all go! We don't want anybody else."

There was a momentary hesitation on the part of the sophomores as if
they were minded to stand by their classmate, but as they peered about
them it seemed almost as if the entire freshman class were present, and
instantly discretion became the better part of valor, and they fled in a
body from the room and also from the building.

Several of the freshmen had seized Mott by this time, and his desperate
attempts to free himself were unavailing. Peter John had been quickly
freed by Will Phelps, and then Will said hastily to Hawley:

"We've stirred up the hornets' nest enough, haven't we? The sophs will
be back here with all their class. Shall we let him go?"

"Let him go?" laughed Hawley, whose enjoyment seemed to be increasing
with every passing moment. "Well, I rather think not."

"What shall we do? They'll be back here in a minute."

"Send everybody to his room. We'll look after this fellow ourselves."

Will Phelps turned to his classmates and said: "Get away from this
fellows. The sophs will be here in a minute and we may all be hauled up
before the faculty. We'll look after Mott."

Instantly the freshmen ran from Leland Hall, leaving Will Phelps and
Foster Bennett, and Peter John and his room-mate to look after the
captive sophomore.

"What'll we do with him?" inquired Will hastily.

"Take him over to your room."

"That'll be the first place they'll come to when they don't find him
here. Still, I'm perfectly willing--"

"Take him out in the grove," suggested Foster quickly. "If we can get
away from here without being seen we'll be all right there."

"That's the thing," assented Hawley. "Foster, you run ahead and see if
the coast is all clear, for we may have to carry this fellow, and we
might attract some attention if we should happen to be seen on the
street."

"No, you won't. I'll go along all right," spoke up Mott. "It's your turn
now, but it'll be mine again, you know, and I'll see that you freshmen
pay up all your scores with good interest!"

"Don't you threaten us!" said Peter John angrily, speaking now for the
first time.

"I'm not threatening you, freshman, I'm just telling you what you'll
have to go through, that's all. You can do with me what you please, but
whatever you do you musn't forget that it'll be paid back five times
over."

"Don't stop here any longer. Come ahead, fellows," said Hawley quickly.

The party with Mott in their midst swiftly passed down the stairway and
turned into the street that led toward "the grove," a clump of huge pine
trees that had stood for many years on the borders of the rear campus of
the college. The freshmen glanced anxiously about them, but apparently
their presence was not noted by the few who were to be seen on the
street, and they quickly increased the pace at which they were moving.

As they turned into the campus, Mott suddenly broke away from his
captors who had been somewhat deceived by the apparent willingness with
which he had followed them, and began to run swiftly back toward the
college buildings. The sophomore was known as one of the fleetest footed
men in college, and already Will Phelps had had him pointed out as one
of the few who had "made" the track team in his freshman year. He had
looked up to him with the respect that only a freshman can know for the
prominent men in college life, and now was his opportunity to test his
own ability against that of the fleeing member of the sophomore class.

Quickly he darted in pursuit, feeling rather than perceiving that his
own classmates were speedily left far behind him. He was exerting
himself to the utmost and ran as though the prize he was seeking was the
greatest of coveted honors. As he sped over the grass his respect for
his rival increased greatly, for whatever Mott's defects might be, there
certainly was in him no lack of ability to run. The distance between the
runners was steadily maintained, and indeed, it seemed to Will as if it
was being increased. On and on he ran, and the college buildings were
now near-by, and if the fleeing sophomore should once gain an entrance
in one of them then Will knew all further pursuit would be useless.

Suddenly the form of Mott disappeared in the dim light and Will Phelps
stopped abruptly and peered keenly before him. But when his classmates
joined him and all four cautiously advanced, several minutes elapsed
before a solution for the mystery was found.



CHAPTER VII

SPLINTER'S QUESTIONS


Directly before them the boys could see a long ditch or trench which had
been dug the entire length of the back campus and of whose existence
they had not been aware. Doubtless Mott had known of it, however, and in
his flight had made for it with all the speed he could command, either
hoping to lead his pursuers into difficulty or trusting that it in some
way would provide a means of escape for himself.

Whatever his plan may have been it succeeded admirably, for when the
four freshmen stood together on the border of the trench not a sign of
the presence of Mott could be discovered. In which direction he had fled
they were also ignorant. It was evident however that he was gone and
after a careful search had confirmed the conviction in their minds that
the sophomore had escaped, Will Phelps said:

"We'll have to give it up, fellows. He's gone."

"We can go up to his room and get him," suggested Peter John, who was
becoming exceedingly bold under the confidence which the presence of his
friends gave him.

"We can, but we won't," said Hawley bluntly.

"Why not?" demanded Schenck.

"It's one thing to defend yourself, but it's another to fly straight
into the arms of the sophs. I don't wonder that some of the freshmen get
into trouble, they're so fresh. If the sophs didn't take it out of them
I think our own class itself would."

"That's so," responded Peter John cordially, "I've thought of it myself
lots of times. Now there's Merrivale--he rooms next to me, you know--he
ought to be shown that he's too fresh."

"What's he done?" inquired Foster.

"Why he came into my room last week and borrowed fifty cents, and he
hasn't paid it back yet, either!"

"Oh, well, just remember what Mott said, Peter John."

"What did he say?"

"He said every freshman would be paid back with interest."

"I don't want any interest," declared Peter John in all seriousness.
"I'll be satisfied if I'm paid back without that."

"You'll get it, though," laughed Will; and as his two companions also
joined in his laugh Peter John said no more, except that he "couldn't
see anything very funny in _that_."

The boys, however, did not longer delay where they were but quietly
returned to their rooms, nor were they again disturbed that night.
Indeed, for several days the quiet of the college life was not ruffled
and both Will Phelps and his room-mate began to hope that their troubles
were at an end. Mott, whom they saw on the following morning when they
were departing from chapel, laughed good-naturedly as he greeted them
and indeed his friendship for them seemed to be increased by the recent
experiences through which he had passed. Several times he came to the
room of Will and Foster and remained until his welcome was decidedly
that was displeasing to both the boys, though there threadbare. There
was something in his bearing was a certain indefinable something about
him that was not altogether unpleasant. His language, his bearing, and
his general appearance all betokened a certain coarseness of fibre that
somehow grated upon the feelings of Will and his room-mate, though they
could not have explained even to themselves just what it was. He was
such a marked man in college, however, and was looked up to by so many
that there was a certain pleasure in his personal attention and both
Will and Foster felt in a measure the flattery of his evident favor.

The college work had now begun to settle into its regular grooves and
when another week had elapsed, Will and Foster began to feel that the
spirit of their surroundings had to an extent been received by them and
that they were indeed a part of the life. There were moments now that
came to Will, when do what he might he could not banish from his mind
the thought of the home in Sterling of which practically he was no
longer a part. The vision of his father seated in his easy-chair in the
library of an evening, before the fire that glowed upon the hearth, his
paper in his hands and the very manner in which he occasionally glanced
up and read to his mother something he had noticed seemed to be one that
Will could not shake off. The pictures on the walls, the very rugs on
the floor, and the chairs in the room could all be distinctly seen, and
somehow the sight never failed to bring a certain depression with it.
Will Phelps would indignantly have denied that he was homesick, but as
the days came and went his manner became somewhat subdued and when he
rose from his bed in the early morning and peered forth from his
bedroom window at the towering hills that were all aglow with the glory
of the rising sun, somehow their very beauty and grandeur seemed to
deepen his feeling that he was "a good way off," as he expressed it,
though just what it was that was so far away he could only have vaguely
expressed or defined. Doubtless his room-mate could have explained to
him that it was the little city of Sterling that now seemed to be so
remote, for he too was suffering slightly from the same malady that
troubled his friend.

Why is it that most boys are so afraid to acknowledge that they are ever
homesick? Is it the fear that they may appear too dependent and less
manly if they confess their longing for home? Certainly no boy who comes
from a good home detracts from his own strength of character by
acknowledging that he misses the home from which he has gone. Indeed, is
it not a reflection upon the boy and the home alike, if he declares when
he goes from his father's house that he misses nothing? To yield to the
feeling of homesickness, to permit it to overmaster one and prevent him
from performing his tasks in the place wherein he finds himself may be a
confession of weakness, but to suffer nothing from it is to declare a
weakness or defect greater still. And Will Phelps, though he was silent
as to his own feelings, was suffering keenly in the early days of his
life in Winthrop.

A week had elapsed since the events recorded in the preceding chapter
and Will and Foster were studying busily in their rooms one evening,
striving to hold their wearied minds to their work, for there had been
an unexpected written test that day in their Greek and both were
somewhat anxious as to the results of their efforts.

Suddenly the door opened and in walked Peter John, who had already
acquired the collegiate habit of never inquiring if his presence was
welcome in the room into which he came. His face was beaming and it was
at once evident to both Will and Foster that their classmate had
something of importance to declare.

"How'd you get along in the test to-day, fellows?" was Peter John's
first question.

"Not very well," replied Will, motioning for his visitor to be seated.

"I just killed it."

Will and Foster laughed as they heard Peter John already indulging in
college slang. It seemed so out of keeping with his general bearing and
appearance. The gap between his trousers and his shoes had never been so
apparent, his splotches so vivid, nor his hair so belligerent as now.

"There's that question, 'Who were the mercenaries of the Greeks, and
what was a mercenary?' I got that right, I know I did."

"How did you answer it?" inquired Foster.

"Why, I said 'a mercenary was a man that sold himself to some one,' and
I showed what I meant by illustrating it."

"How?"

"I said the professors were the mercenaries of the college."

"You did?" exclaimed Will, sitting instantly erect.

"Yes, sir; I did. What's the matter?" he added, as both boys began to
laugh loudly. "Isn't it true?"

"Oh, it's too good to be true. Tell us some more, Peter John."

"I can't see what you fellows are laughing at," said Peter John soberly.
"That answered the question all right. I'll get an 'A' on that paper.
Then there was that question, 'What was the Greek law and conception of
vengeance?' That bothered me a bit at first, but I got it, I'm sure."

"What did you say?" inquired Will.

"Why, that's as plain as the nose on your face," responded Peter John
glibly. "I said that vengeance was a low-down, mean, spiteful attempt to
pay back. 'Vengeance is mine and I will repay,' saith the Lord."

"Oh, you'll get more than 'A' on that," said Will in the extremity of
his delight, as he was compelled to go to the window and gaze out into
the night. "You'll get at least A square."

"No, I won't. They don't give that. 'A' is the highest mark they give.
But I think I got everything right. How did you answer that question
about what Christian tenet the Greeks believed in?" he added, glancing
at the copy of the questions which he held in his hands.

"How did _you_ answer it, Peter John?" inquired Foster quickly.

"I answered it that they believed in the immorality of the soul."

"In the _what?_" demanded Foster soberly.

"In the immorality of the soul."

"You meant immortality of the soul, didn't you?"

"Y-e-s, I suppose I did," assented Peter John somewhat ruefully. "But
old Splinter will understand," he added quickly. "Splinter will know I
just left out a 't', and he won't count that against me."

"No, a little thing like a 't' doesn't count for much, not any more than
a decimal point. It doesn't make any difference whether a decimal point
is placed before or after a figure, you know. It's only a little thing
anyway."

"Yes," assented Peter John, failing to perceive what Foster was saying.
"Then there was one other question that was dead easy," he added.

"Which one was that?"

"The one about the animals."

"Let me see, what was that question?" said Foster thoughtfully.

"Why, don't you remember? It was 'Name six animals that were common
among the Greeks'."

"Oh, yes; I recall it now; but I don't think I had it right. I could
think of but four."

"Pooh! Easiest question of the whole lot."

"What was the answer?"

"Easy! Dead easy! I just said, 'Six dogs'."

The laughter that rang out in the room might have been heard across the
campus; but Peter John was only slightly ruffled, and said:

"Oh, well, you fellows may laugh if you want to, but you'll find out
when you see my marks."

"They'll put you in Splinter's place as soon as you graduate," suggested
Foster when at last he regained control of himself.

"I wish they would," responded Will heartily.

"Splinter" was the term by which the Winthrop boys were accustomed to
speak of Professor Hanson, who was in charge of their Greek work. The
title did not appear in the college catalog, it was true; but it was the
only one by which he was known among the irreverent students. He was an
elderly man, whose sensitive nature had suffered for many years from the
inadequate preparation of successive classes, until at last not only
were his teeth on edge, but his entire disposition as well. He had
become somewhat soured and sarcastic in his dealings with the students,
and was more unpopular than any other professor in the college. His
scholarship was accurate. His ability to impart his knowledge to such
students as were eager to learn was also unquestioned, but for the
indifferent and lazy, or for the dull or poorly prepared, his words were
like drops of vitriol.

His popular title of Splinter had been bestowed upon him because of
certain physical characteristics however. He was a very tall man and
exceedingly thin, and the very beard which he wore imparted by its sharp
point an additionally suggestive emphasis to his slight and slender
frame. No one knew how the title originated or how it came to be
bestowed upon the professor; but its appropriateness had at once
fastened the term and every entering class received it as a heritage
from those which had preceded it.

Will Phelps already had acquired a keen dislike for the man, and he had
laughed heartily when Mott one night had declared that the student body
had been compelled to give Professor Hanson the new name he had
received. "You see," Mott had said, "the faculty and the trustees
decide what titles a man can wear _after_ his name; so it's only fair
that the students should decide what titles he shall wear _before_ his
name. Now this man's name used to be simply John Hanson. Then some
college or other said it should be John Hanson, PH.D. Well, the students
here have only gone a step further and they've not taken anything away
from the old fellow. They've added to him, that's what they have; and
now it's Prof. Splinter John Hanson, PH.D. He ought to be grateful, but
it's a cold world and I sometimes fear he doesn't appreciate what was
done for him. In fact such bestowments are rarely received as they
should be."

The suggestion Will's room-mate had made that Peter John soon might take
Splinter's place had recalled his own difficulties with the man, but
soon even the thoughts of the unpopular professor of Greek were
forgotten in the new interest that was aroused by the entrance into the
room of three young men who were at once recognized as members of the
junior class.



CHAPTER VIII

THE PARADE


"You're just the fellows we're looking for," said Allen, the leading
spirit of the three young men who entered the room.

"You haven't very far to look, then," replied Will laughingly, for in
his heart he felt honored by the unexpected visit of the upper classmen.

"That's right, freshman. How are you getting on?"

"They've kept us busy, to say the least."

"You mean the sophs?"

"Yes. That's the only class we have to think of, isn't it?"

"No. Your own class is first."

"It's the best class in college," interrupted Peter John quickly, and
all who were in the room laughed as the uncouth freshman's face flushed.

"That's the way to talk," responded Allen.

"But it is. I'm not joking," persisted Peter John seriously.

"No doubt. No doubt. But what we've come for is to tell you about the
parade."

"Parade? What parade?" inquired Foster.

"Why, every fall there is a parade of the freshmen. They have a band
usually, at least most of the classes have had one and as yours is the
best class that ever entered college, why you won't want to fall behind
the others I know."

"Who pays for the band?" demanded Peter John.

"You do, that is, your class does."

"I won't pay a cent," retorted Peter John.

"You don't have to," laughed Allen. "Some of the others will make it up.
I'm just telling you what the custom is and only for your own good."

"Go on with your story," interrupted Will. "Let's hear about the
parade."

"It's to come off next Saturday afternoon, and we juniors usually help
out in the scheme, you see. We try to arrange a part of it for you and
help you out in some of the details. The whole thing is 'horse play,'
just a sort of burlesque, and the more ridiculous you can make it, the
better."

"I'll not make a fool of myself for anybody," spoke up Peter John
sharply.

"You don't have to. It won't be necessary," replied Allen quietly, but
in the laugh that followed, Peter John took no part.

"What do you want us to do?" inquired Foster.

"Well, we suggest that this young man--I've forgotten his name," said
Allen, turning to Peter John as he spoke.

"Schenck. Peter John Schenck--that's my name, and I'm not ashamed of it
either!" said that worthy promptly. "But I don't propose to hire a band
and march around the streets making a fool of myself for anybody."

"You don't have to," and again a laugh arose at the junior's words. "I
was only suggesting, that's all. But if you want to know what I think,
I'm of the opinion that if you'd be one to help haul the committee from
the senior class around in their chariot it would be a good thing for
you. That's only a suggestion on my part, as I told you, and you can do
as you please about it."

"I don't please to do it," replied Peter John sulkily.

"What's the 'chariot' you spoke of, Allen?" inquired Will.

"Oh, it's only an old hay wagon. It's been the custom for some of the
freshmen to haul the officers of the senior class around in it. It
doesn't amount to much, but honestly I think it will be a good thing for
you to do it."

"All right, you can count on me," said Will quickly.

"I don't want to count on that from you. I've something else for you and
Bennett to do."

"What's that?"

"I'll explain it to you." And Allen at once went into the details of the
scheme he proposed. Both Will and Foster laughed as he laid it before
them, and willingly consented to do their part. Peter John, however,
said not a word, and when the visitors prepared to depart, Allen said,
"You're to assemble at the gym, you know, and the parade will be formed
in front of it on the street. It'll march up Main Street, down East End
Avenue, around through Walker Street, up West Street, across Drury Lane
and then back into Main Street and then on down to the ball ground.
There the parade will break up and the freshmen and sophomores will have
their annual ball game. It'll be great fun if you take it in the right
spirit, and you'll have plenty of spectators too."

"How's that?" said Foster.

"Why, the whole college, faculty and all, will turn out to see it, and
of course all the village people will be on hand, and if it's a good
day there'll be a crowd here from out of town. The trains will be
crowded that day, and there'll be a good many who'll come into Winthrop
with their automobiles. You'll never forget the day as long as you
live."

"Great!" exclaimed Will. "I wish it was to-morrow. Where shall we get
these things we're to wear?"

"You can find them in the stores, or maybe I'll be able to help you out
some. Come down to my room to-morrow and I'll see what can be done. Good
night," Allen added, as he and his classmates started down the stairway.

"Good night," responded Will and Foster, and then closed the door.

"Of all the foolishness I ever heard that beats all," said Peter John
when the freshmen were by themselves once more. "They don't get me into
it."

"Oh, yes, Peter John. Don't pull off that way," said Will cordially.

"Not much. I'm not so big a fool as they take me to be."

"You'll be a bigger one if you keep out."

"Maybe I will, but I'm not going to go into any such doings."

"Now look here, Peter John. You're a freshman, but you can't help that
and no one blames you for it. I'm--"

"I'm no more a freshman than you are," retorted Peter John warmly.

"Right you are. But you don't want to make a bad matter worse. If you
keep out you'll be a marked man and everybody in college will hear
about it. It'll be a great deal better for you to go in quietly, and
whatever you think about it, just keep your thoughts to yourself, and
don't call the attention of the whole college to you by your
foolishness. It'll be simply a challenge for the sophs, if you don't do
it, and you'll be the one to suffer."

"You think so?"

"I know so."

"I guess the sophs found out what sort of a fellow I was the other
night. I'd have brained the first one that laid hands on me."

"You didn't though, and you wouldn't. It's a great deal better to do as
Hawley did and just laugh it off."

"Oh, I laughed all right, and I'd have given those fellows something to
laugh about too, if they hadn't tied me up."

"Of course, but the trouble is they did tie you up, and the next time
it'll be worse than that. It isn't worth while to kick too hard, Peter
John. A fellow has just got to take some things in life as he finds them
and not as he'd like to have them. It's the only way, and the sooner he
learns it the better."

"But my father told me never to let anybody impose on me," said Peter
John dubiously.

"Nobody is going to impose on you. You won't be doing anything more than
every fellow in the class, and if you don't go in you'll be the one
marked exception. The sophs will take it as an invitation."

"You think so, do you?"

"Yes, sir, I do. Come along, Peter John, and don't make any more fuss
about it."

"Well, I'll think about it," replied the freshman as he departed for
his own room in Leland Hall.

Saturday dawned bright and clear and the interest and excitement in the
college over the parade rose to its highest point. A band had been
secured from a neighboring city, and in the afternoon, when its stirring
strains were heard from the steps of the gymnasium, all the freshmen
were made aware that the time for their assembly had arrived. There were
crowds of strangers to be seen about the streets and the little town was
all active with unwonted bustle. Automobiles were arriving, the
sophomores were assembling at the various buildings, and their jeers and
cries could be heard as they greeted the appearance of the members of
the class below them when they started for the gymnasium.

Will Phelps and Foster Bennett felt keenly the prevailing excitement,
and when they entered the gymnasium building they found a large number
of their own classmates already assembled and keenly alive to the
demands that were soon to be made upon them.

Under the experienced guidance of the committee of juniors the freshmen
were soon equipped for their various parts and the procession was
formed. In advance moved the band and behind it was a huge hay wagon in
which in great dignity were seated six of the seniors. The wagon itself
was drawn by sixteen freshmen, all of whom had a tight grasp upon the
ropes that had been fastened to the wagon tongue. Directly behind the
wagon came Will Phelps and Foster Bennett and two of their classmates,
all dressed in the garb of firemen, with red jackets and helmet hats of
paper. In their hands was a huge rope at least two and a half inches in
diameter, which was attached to a tiny tin fire engine not more than a
foot in length. Behind the firemen came Hawley, who was dressed as an
infant with a lace cap on his head and carefully tied bows under his
chin, while in his hands he was carrying a bottle of milk. He was seated
in an improvised baby carriage, which was being pushed by one of the
smallest members of the freshman class. "Sunny Jim," Charley Chaplin and
Ben Turpin were among the characters that could be seen in the long
lines of freshmen that, three abreast, were arranged still farther back
in the procession, and at last, at the word of Allen, the junior who was
acting as the marshal of the day, the march was begun. Frequently Will
turned and glanced behind him at the long, tortuous line, and its
ridiculous appearance caused him to laugh and say to Foster:

"Did you ever see anything in your life like that?"

"I never did."

"Silence there in the ranks!" called Allen sharply, for he chanced to be
marching near the "fire engine." Not a trace of a smile could be seen on
his face, and to all appearances he was engaged in what he considered
one of the most serious events of his life.

In the streets the people were lined up and their laughter and
good-natured applause could be heard on every side. Small boys followed
the line of march or walked beside the long column, and their derisive
remarks were frequent and loud. The sophomores also added their
comments, but there was no open disturbance throughout the march. It
was one of the events of freshman year and as such was evidently not to
be entered upon lightly or unadvisedly, like certain other important
epochs in life.

At last the procession arrived at the athletic field and there broke up
for the baseball game with the sophomores. The grand stand was already
filled with the people and students that had watched the march, and, as
soon as Will and Foster had donned their baseball suits, for both had
been selected to play on the freshman nine, they appeared upon the
field, where already the other members of the team were awaiting their
coming.

"I didn't see Peter John, did you, Foster?" inquired Will.

"No. It'll be all the worse for him, I fancy."

"No doubt about that. What are we going to do with him, Foster?"

"Nothing."

"I don't like to see the chap suffer for his own foolishness."

"Neither do I. But he'll have to learn for himself. You can't tell him
anything."

"You can _tell_ him all right enough, but I'm afraid that's all the good
it does. You might as well try to polish sponge."

The conversation ceased as the call for the game to be begun was heard
and both boys hastened to take the positions in which they were to play.
The noise among the spectators increased as the signal was given, but
for three innings both nines played earnestly and seriously. At the end
of the third inning, with the score standing five to four in favor of
the sophomores, a radical change was made. The batter was blindfolded
and compelled to stand upon an upturned barrel, which was substituted
for the home plate. The pitcher and catcher were each also to stand upon
a barrel and the pitcher was ordered to throw the ball with his left
hand. Naturally it was impossible for the batter to hit the ball, since
he was blindfolded, and when three strikes had been called he tore the
bandage from his eyes and upon his hands and knees was compelled to
crawl toward first base. The baseman stood with his back to the field
and naturally found it difficult to secure the ball which had been
thrown by the left hand of the catcher. Shrieks of laughter arose from
the spectators, shouts and class cries were heard on every side, tin
horns mingled their noise with the blasts of the band, and altogether
Will Phelps thought that the scene was unique in the experiences of his
young life.



CHAPTER IX

THE WALK WITH MOTT


In the days that immediately followed the freshman parade and the
burlesque game of baseball with the rival class, the work before Will
Phelps and his room-mate settled more deeply into its regular grooves.
The novelty of the new life was now gone and to Will it almost seemed
that ages had passed since he had been a member of the household in
Sterling. His vision of the hilltops from his bedroom window became
longer and he could see in his mind far behind the towering barriers of
the hills into the familiar street and well-remembered rooms of his
father's house. The foliage on the hillsides now had assumed its
gorgeous autumn dress and wherever he looked the forests seemed to be
clad as if they were all on dress parade. The sight was beautiful and
one which in after years was ever present with him; but in those early
days of his freshman year in Winthrop, it seemed somehow to impress him
as a great barrier between his home and the place where he then was.

However, he never referred to his feeling to any one, not even to
Foster, and strove manfully to bear it all. He was working well, but in
his Greek he was finding increasing difficulty. This he acknowledged in
part was due to his own neglect in the earlier years of his preparatory
course, but boy-like he attributed most of his lack of success in that
department to "Splinter," for whom he came to cherish a steadily
increasing dislike. The man's personality was exceedingly irritating to
the young freshman and his dislike for the professor was becoming
intense--a marked contrast to his feeling for his teacher in mathematics
for whom he entertained a regard that was but little short of adoration.
His knowledge evidently was so great, and his inspiring personality in
the classroom was so enjoyable that Will soon found himself working in
that department as he never before had worked in his brief life.
Already, the boys were referring to him as a "shark," and the praise of
his classmates was sweet. But in Greek--that was an altogether different
affair, he declared. Splinter was so cold-blooded, so unsympathetic, and
sarcastic, he appeared to be so fond of "letting a fellow make a fool of
himself in recitation," as Will expressed it, that he found but little
pleasure in his work. And Will had already suffered from the keen shafts
of the teacher's merciless ridicule. One day, when in fact he had spent
an additional hour in the preparation of his lesson in Greek, though the
results he had achieved left him still troubled as he thought of the
recitation, he had been called upon to translate and make comments upon
a portion of the lesson of the day. He could feel as well as see, or at
least he fancied that he saw, the drawing down of Splinter's lips that
presaged an outburst of sarcasm. Will had been permitted to go through
his task without interruption and then the professor had said dryly,
"That will do, Mr. Phelps. That is what one might term 'making Greek' of
it. It certainly is justice neither to the Greek nor to the English." A
partly suppressed titter had run through the class at the biting words,
and with face flushed scarlet Will Phelps had resumed his seat, feeling
that in all the world there could not be found another man so thoroughly
despicable as Splinter. And his feeling of dislike had increased with
the passing days. He had come not only to detest the man, but the Greek
as well. If he could have followed his own desire he would have
abandoned the subject at once and substituted something in its place,
but Will understood fully his father's desire for him to become
proficient in that department and how useless it would be for him to
write home for the desired permission. In sheer desperation he began to
devote additional time to his study of Greek, until he felt that he was
almost neglecting certain other studies in his course that in themselves
were far more enjoyable. But his progress under Splinter seemed to be in
no wise advanced, and soon Will was cherishing a feeling that was
something between a hopeless rage and an ungovernable detestation.

One break had occurred, however, in that both he and Foster had joined
one of the Greek letter fraternities--the Phi Alpha. Both freshmen were
now taking their meals at the fraternity house and in the good
fellowship and the presence of his fellow-members he found a measure of
relief from the homesickness that was troubling him and his difficulties
with the detested professor of Greek. It was also a source of some
comfort to him to learn that his own feeling for Splinter was one that
was commonly held by all the students who had been under him; but though
his misery may have loved the company, his problem still remained his
own and appeared to be as far from solution as ever.

Not long after Will and Foster had joined the Phi Alpha fraternity,
Peter John had dropped into their room one evening and quickly
discovered the neat little badge or pin that each boy wore on his vest
directly over his heart.

"Hello!" exclaimed Peter John; "you've joined the Phi Alpha, have you?"

"Yes," replied Will quietly, striving then to change the topic of
conversation, for the subject was one not to be cheapened by ordinary
remarks.

"It's about the best in college, isn't it?" persisted Peter John.

"That's not for us to say," laughed Will.

"I haven't joined any fraternity yet," said Peter John. "My father told
me I'd better wait and perhaps he'd come up to Winthrop a little later
and then he'd tell me which one to join."

Will and Foster glanced at each other, but neither spoke. In fact there
was nothing to say.

"If you feel sure the Phi Alpha's the best, I might write home to my
father and perhaps he'd let me join now," suggested Peter John. "He
thinks that whatever you two fellows do is about right."

As only about half the students in Winthrop were members of the Greek
letter fraternities, and as those who were elected were chosen because
of certain elements in their characters or lives that made them
specially desirable as companions or comrades, the election was
naturally looked upon as an especial honor and many of the entering
class had been eagerly awaiting the invitation for which all longed.
Peter John Schenck's unique personality and his sublime self-assurance
had been qualities, if no other defects had been apparent, that would
have debarred him, but he was so sublimely unconscious of all this--"Not
even knowing enough to know that he didn't know, the worst form of
ignorance in all the world," Foster had half angrily declared--that not
for a moment did he dream that his membership was something perhaps
undesirable of itself.

"I might write home and ask him," suggested Peter John when neither of
his classmates responded. "I think I like the Phi Alpha pretty well
myself."

"I wouldn't do it," said Foster. "How are you making out with Splinter?"
he added, striving to change the subject.

"Oh, Splinter's all right."

"Glad you think so," said Will bitterly.

"Some of the fellows think he's hard, but he's all right if you know how
to handle him," declared Peter John pompously. "I'll put down a good
mark for him."

"Good for you, Peter John!" laughed Foster. "Wait till he puts down your
mark."

"I'll get an 'A' in Greek."

"I hope you'll give me a part of it then," said Will. "Did you ever see
such a fellow?" he said to Foster when their visitor had departed.

"I never did. I don't mind him myself, but for his own sake I wish he
could learn something. I don't believe he'll ever do it though."

"I'm afraid he'll be taught some things that are not in the course of
study."

"Do him good," remarked Foster, as he turned once more to his work.

The following day was Saturday, and in the afternoon there were no
recitations. Will had promised Mott that he would go for a long walk
with him, and promptly after luncheon the sophomore appeared. For some
reason which Will could not explain, Mott appeared to have taken a
decided fancy to him, and had paid him many special attentions. There
was little about him that was attractive to Will, but somehow he found
it difficult to avoid him. He certainly was a well dressed handsome
young fellow, and was prominent in college chiefly because of his
success in athletics, for already he had the reputation of being one of
the swiftest runners in college. But in the college vernacular he was
commonly referred to as a "sport," a term for which Will instinctively
had little liking, and less for the young man himself. However, he had
found it difficult to avoid him, and somewhat reluctantly he had
consented to take the long walk to a distant village with him on the day
to which reference has been made.

For a time after the two young men had departed from Winthrop, and had
made their way up the road that led along the steep hillside, the
exhilaration of the bracing air and the superb view had made Will keenly
alive to the beauties of the surrounding region. A soft halo covered the
summits of the lofty hills, and the quiet of the valley was almost as
impressive as the framework of the mountains. Mott too had been
exceedingly pleasant in all that he had said, and Will was almost
beginning to feel that he had misjudged his companion, and that his
reputation was worse than the fellow himself.

They had now left the hillside road and were once more in the valley and
not far from the village they were seeking.

"I hear you're quite a fair sprinter," suggested Mott, as they
proceeded.

"I do a little," assented Will, laughing lightly as he spoke.

"Where did you run?"

"On the high school team."

"What high school?"

"Sterling."

"Run against the other schools in the league?"

"Yes," replied Will, wondering how it was that Mott happened to know of
the existence of the league.

"How did you come out?"

"Oh, I happened to win. There wasn't very much to run against, you see."

"What time did you make?"

"Ten, two."

"Going to run here?"

"Going to try to."

"I find this taking long walks is good for me," said Mott. "It keeps my
muscles in trim and gives me wind."

This, then, was the object which Mott had in view in inviting him to
take the walk, Will hastily concluded. He wanted to find out all he
could learn about his ability as a runner, and in spite of himself Will
was flattered by the evident interest and attention. They were now
within the confines of the village, and excusing himself for a moment
Mott left Will, but when he returned it was evident from the odor about
him that the sophomore had been to some speakeasy. Will had known of
Mott's habits, and the fact that he had left him and gone alone to
secure his drink argued that the fellow was not altogether bad.

There was not a long delay in the village, and the return by a different
road from that by which they had come was suggested by Mott, and Will
had acquiesced. They had not gone far, however, before Mott discovered a
farmer approaching with a team and a heavy but empty farm wagon, and
quickly suggested that they should ride, and as Will at once agreed, his
companion hailed the passing man.

"Hi, grandpa! Will you give us a ride?" he called.

Without a word the farmer, who was an old man, halted his team and
permitted the boys to clamber up into the wagon.

"This is more like it," said Mott, forgetful of the benefits of walking,
as the horses started.

"It's not half bad," replied Will, as he glanced at the old man who was
driving. A straw hat covered his gray head, and his untrimmed gray beard
as well as his somewhat rough clothing could not entirely detract from
the keen twinkle in his eyes.

"I fancy," said Mott, addressing the driver, "that the beauties of this
country have added much to your longevity?"

"My which?" demanded the farmer sharply.

"Your longevity."

"I never had no such complaint's that. I've had the rheumatiz, but
that's all that ever bothered me any."

"You are to be congratulated," murmured Mott.

"Guess that's so. See that buryin' ground over there?" inquired the
driver, pointing as he spoke to a quaint little cemetery by the
roadside.

"Yes," replied Mott. "Probably most of the people died of longevity."

"It don't tell on th' gravestones. Jest got a new gravedigger."

"How's that?"

"Third we've had inside o' a year. Had one fur nigh onto forty year, but
he up an' died."

"Longevity?" gravely inquired Mott.

"Like enough; though some folks thought 'twas softenin' o' th' brain;
but my 'pinion is he never had any brains to get soft. Still he were a
good digger, but the man we got next was no good."

"What was the trouble with him? More longevity?"

"No; he buried everybody with their feet to the west."

"Isn't that the proper thing?"

"No, 'tisn't!"

"Why?"

"Any fool knows ye ought t' be buried with yer feet t' the east."

"Why's that?"

"So't ye can hear Gabriel's trumpet better when he blows, an' can rise
up facin' him an' be all ready t' go when he calls."

"I hadn't thought of that."

"Like 's not. Some folks don't. We've got another digger now, an' he
knows."

For a time conversation ceased, and the farmer drove briskly along the
country road. When an hour had elapsed, Mott said, "I don't see that
we're getting anywhere near Winthrop."

"Winthrop? Is that where ye want t' go? Students there, maybe?"

"Yes."

"Well, we've been goin' straight away from Winthrop all the time. Ye
didn't say nothin' 'bout it, an' I didn't feel called upon t' explain,
for I supposed college students knew everything."

"How far is it to Winthrop?" inquired Will blankly.

"'Beout ten mile," responded the farmer, his eyes twinkling as he reined
in his team.



CHAPTER X

A VISITOR


The boys both hastily leaped to the ground and the old farmer quickly
spoke to his team and started on, leaving his recent passengers in such
a frame of mind that they even forgot to thank him for his courtesy and
kindness. As the wagon drove off, Will fancied that he heard a sly
chuckle from the driver but he had disappeared around the bend in the
road before the young freshman recovered from his astonishment
sufficiently to speak of it.

"That old chap wasn't such a fool after all," said Mott glumly.

"That's what he wasn't," responded Will beginning to laugh.

"What are you laughing at?" demanded Mott sharply.

"At ourselves."

"I don't see the joke."

"Might as well laugh as cry."

"You'll sing another song before you're back in Winthrop to-night. Ten
miles isn't any laughing matter after we've tramped as far as we have
to-day."

"But it'll help us for our track meet," suggested Will, laughing again.

"Bother the track meet!"

"It'll help our longevity then. I've always heard that walking was the
best exercise."

"The old fellow was foxy. He never said a word but just let us talk on.
I'd give a dollar to hear his account of it when he gets home."

"Cheap enough. But say, Mott, have we got to tramp all the way back to
Winthrop?"

"Looks that way."

"Can't we get a car here somewhere?"

"Hardly. We might try it at that farmhouse over yonder," replied Mott
pointing toward a low house not far away as he spoke.

"Come ahead! Let's try it anyway," suggested Will eagerly.

The boys at once hastened to the place, and after a brief delay
succeeded in summoning the young farmer who lived there. They made their
wishes known, but in response the man said, "Can't do it anyhow. My
wife's sick and I'm goin' for the doctor now."

"Where is he?" demanded Will eagerly.

"Over at the Junction."

Will knew where the Junction was, a little hamlet about seven miles from
Winthrop. How far it was distant from the place where he then was,
however, he had no idea. It was easy to ascertain, and in response to
his question the farmer explained that it was "about three mile."

"You might take us there, then," said Will quickly. "I don't know just
how the trains run for Winthrop, but it'll be three miles nearer
anyway."

"Yes, I'll be glad to take you there."

"How much are you going to charge us?" demanded Mott who did not plan to
be caught again by the "guilelessness" of any of the people of the
region.

"Oh, I sha'n't charge ye anything. Glad t' do ye the favor," responded
the farmer heartily.

In a brief time his car was ready, and, acting upon his suggestion, the
boys at once took their places on the seat, and the driver soon was
briskly speeding down the roadway.

Conversation lagged, for the boys were somewhat wearied by their long
tramp and the young farmer was silent, doubtless anxious over the
illness in his home. When a brief time had elapsed he deposited the boys
on the platform of the little station at the Junction, and again
declining any offer on their part to pay for the service he had rendered
them at once departed in his search for the physician.

Approaching the little window in the ticket office Mott inquired,
"What's the next train we can get for Winthrop?"

"No more trains to-night," responded the man without looking up from the
noisy clicker over which he was bending.

"No more trains?"

"That's what I said. The last one passed here fifteen minutes ago."

"Isn't there any way we can get there?"

"I s'pose there is."

"What is it?" demanded Mott eagerly.

"Walk."

"How far is it?"

"Seven miles."

"And there's no other way?"

"You won't be the first that have counted the ties between Junction and
Winthrop."

"Isn't there a freight train that comes along pretty soon?" inquired
Will.

"There's one that's due in 'bout an hour. But you never can depend on
it. It may be here in an hour and it may be three hours. You never can
tell."

"What shall we do, Phelps?" inquired Mott, turning sharply to his
companion.

"I don't care much, but I believe it would be better for us to start. It
isn't so very far and besides it'll be good for our longevity and help
us for the meet."

There was an exclamation of anger from Mott who doubtless had become
somewhat sensitive to the frequent references to his favorite expression
of the day, but he made no protest and the two boys at once started up
the track. Both were hungry and weary but the distance must be
traversed, and there was no time or breath to waste in complaining.
Steadily they trudged onward, the monotony of the walk increased by the
deepening darkness. They had been gone from the station only about an
hour when the shrill screech of the whistle from a locomotive
approaching from behind them was heard, and in a few minutes the long
and noisy freight train thundered past them.

Mott was almost beside himself with rage as he watched the passing cars
and heaped all manner of maledictions upon the head of the station
agent, who, he declared, must have known the train was coming, and with
malice aforethought had withheld his knowledge and advised the boys to
walk. "Everybody was against the college boys," he declared, "and looked
upon it as legitimate to take advantage of them in every possible
manner." But Will only laughed in response and made no protests though
he was as thoroughly wearied as his companion.

At last the lights of the college could be seen and shortly after ten
o'clock they arrived at their dormitory. "We'll remember this walk, I
take it," said Mott glumly as he turned toward his room.

"We certainly shall," replied Will. "The 'longevity' of that old farmer
was something wonderful."

"Bother his longevity!" exclaimed Mott as he turned quickly away.

Left to himself Will slowly climbed the stairs until he arrived at his
own room, but as he was about to enter he suddenly stopped and listened
intently to the sound of voices within. Surely he knew that voice, he
thought, and in an instant opened the door and burst into the room.

Seated in the easy-chair was his father. Instantly Will's weariness was
forgotten and with a shout he rushed upon his visitor throwing his arm
about his neck and laughing in a way that may have served to keep down a
stronger emotion.

"How long have you been here?" he demanded. "Where's mother? When did
you come? How's everybody at home? Anything wrong? My, but I'm glad to
see you! How long are you going to stay?"

The questions and exclamations fell from Will's lips in such confusion
that it was impossible to reply and even Foster who was in the room
joined in the laugh with which his room-mate's excitement was greeted.

"Not too fast, Will," laughed his father. "I had to come near here on
business and I thought it would be a good thing to stop at Winthrop over
night and have a little visit with my boy. I didn't know that I should
be able to have one," he added smilingly, "for he wasn't anywhere to be
found."

"I'm sorry! I wish I'd known it. I've been out for a walk with Mott. And
we certainly have had one!" he added as he recounted some of the
experiences of the afternoon.

His recital was greeted with laughter and even Will himself could enjoy
it now that it was all past and he was once more safe in his room. For
an hour Mr. Phelps remained in the room listening to the tales of the
boys of their new life in the college, laughing as he heard of their
pranks, and deeply interested in all they had to relate. At last when he
arose to go to his room in the village hotel, he promised to come and
attend church in the morning with the boys and then explained that he
would have two hours to spend with Will on the morning following as his
train did not leave until half-past ten.

"But I have a recitation the first hour," said Will blankly. "I'll 'cut'
it, though, for it isn't every day one has his daddy with him, and I
wouldn't lose a minute of your time here, pop, for ten hours with old
Splinter. I have Greek, you know, the first hour in the morning. Oh,
I've got 'cuts' to burn," he added hastily as an unspoken protest
appeared in the expression on his father's face. "You needn't worry
about that."

"I don't want you to lose any recitation because I am here," said his
father quietly. "I sha'n't want to come again if my coming interferes
with your work, and as it is I have serious doubts--"

"All right, pop," replied Will patting his father affectionately on the
shoulder. "I'll go to Splinter's class, though I know he'll 'go for' me
too. I won't do a thing that'll ever keep you from showing up here in
Winthrop again."

On Monday morning after the exercises in the chapel, Mr. Phelps went to
Will's room and waited till the hour should pass and the eager-hearted
boy should return. As the great clock in the tower rang out the hour he
arose and stood in front of the window peering out across the campus at
the building where Will was at work, but the stroke had scarcely ceased
before he beheld the lad run swiftly down the steps and speed along the
pathway toward his room as if he were running for a prize. The
expression in the man's eyes was soft and there was also a suspicious
moisture in them as well as he watched his boy. Was it only a dream or
reality? Only a few short years ago and he had been an eager-hearted boy
speeding over the same pathway (he smiled as he thought how the "speed"
was never displayed on his way to the recitation building), and now it
was his own boy who was sharing in the life of old Winthrop and
doubtless he himself was in the minds of the young students relegated to
that remote and distant period when the "old grads" were supposed to be
young. Doubtless to them it was a time as remote as that when Homer's
heroes contended in battle or the fauns and satyrs peopled the wooded
hills and plains. And yet how vital it all was to him. He watched the
groups of students moving across the campus, and as the sound of their
shouts or laughter or the words of some song rose on the autumn air, it
seemed to the man that he needed only to close his eyes and the old life
would return--a life so like the present that it did not seem possible
that a great gulf of thirty years lay between.

Mr. Phelps' meditations were interrupted by the entrance of Will, who
burst into the room with the force of a small whirlwind.

"Here I am, pop!" he exclaimed as he tossed his books upon his couch and
threw his cap to the opposite side of the room. "Old Splinter stuck me
good this morning, but I can stand it as long as you are here."

"Who is Splinter?"

"Why, don't you know? I thought everybody knew Splinter. He's our
professor of Greek and the biggest fraud in the whole faculty."

"What's the trouble with him?" Mr. Phelps spoke quietly but there was
something in his voice that betrayed a deeper feeling and one that Will
was quick to perceive and that gave him a twinge of uneasiness as well.

"Oh, he's hard as nails. He must have 'ichor' in his veins, not blood. I
don't believe he ever was a boy. He must have been like Pallas Athenæ.
Wasn't she the lady that sprang full-fledged from the brain of Zeus?
Well, I've a notion that Splinter yelled in Greek when he was a baby.
That is, if he ever was an infant, and called for his bottle in dactylic
hexameter. Oh, I know lots about Greek, pop," laughed Will as his father
smiled. "I know the alphabet and a whole lot of things even if Splinter
thinks I don't."

"Doesn't he think you know much about your Greek?"

"Well, he doesn't seem to be overburdened with the weight of his opinion
of me. He just looks upon me, I'm afraid, as if I was not a bright and
shining light. 'Learn Greek or grow up in ignorance,' that's the burden
of his song, and I've sometimes thought that about all the fun he has in
life is flunking freshmen."

"How about the freshmen?"

"You mean me? Honestly, pop, I haven't done very well in my Greek; but I
don't think it's all my fault. I've worked on it as I haven't worked on
anything else in college. I've done my part, but Splinter doesn't seem
to believe it. What am I going to do about it?"

Will in spite of his light-hearted ways, was seriously troubled and his
father was silent for a brief time before he responded to the boy's
question.



CHAPTER XI

THE PERPETUAL PROBLEM


"I was aware that you were having trouble with your Greek," said Mr.
Phelps quietly, "and that was one of my reasons for stopping over here."

"You were? How did you know?"

"I had received word from the secretary of the faculty. He sent me a
formal note announcing that your work was so low that it was more than
probable you would fail in your mid-year examination."

For a moment Will Phelps was silent. His face became colorless and his
heart seemed almost to rise in his throat. Fail in his mid-year's? A
"warning" sent home to his father? To the inexperienced young student it
seemed for a moment as if he was disgraced in the eyes of all his
friends. He knew that his work had been of a low grade, but never for a
moment had he considered it as being at all serious. So many of his
newly formed friends in the college had been speaking of their
conditions and low grades as a matter of course and had referred to them
laughingly, much as if they were good jokes to be enjoyed that Will too
had come almost to feel that his own trouble was not a serious one. And
Splinter was the one to be blamed for the most of it, he was convinced.
The words of his father, however, had presented the matter in an
entirely different light, and his trouble was vastly increased by its
evident effect upon him. Will's face was drawn and there was an
expression of suffering upon it as he glanced again at his father and
said:

"What shall I do? Will it drop me out of college?"

"I think not necessarily. You must pass off more than half your hours to
enable you to keep on with your class; but failure in one study will not
bring that of itself, for your Greek is a four-hour course. But the
matter is, of course, somewhat serious and in more ways than one."

"Yes, I know it," replied Will despondently.

"Well, if you know it, that's half the battle won already. The greatest
trouble with most unsuccessful men is that they have never learned what
their own weaknesses and limitations are. But you say you know, and I
wish you'd tell me what you think the chief difficulty is."

"My Greek," said Will, trying to smile.

"But what's the trouble with the Greek?"

"The trouble is that the Greek troubles me. I suppose the Greek is all
right and I'm all wrong."

"In what way?"

"I don't know it as I ought to."

"Is that 'Splinter's' fault?"

"No, it's mine. You know how hard I worked in the closing half of my
last year in the high school, but that didn't, and I suppose couldn't,
make up for what I hadn't done before."

"Are you working hard now?"

"On my Greek?"

"Yes."

"I'm putting more time on that than on everything else."

"I didn't ask you about the 'time,' but about the work."

"Why, yes. I don't just see what you mean. I spend three hours on my
Greek every day we have it."

"It's one thing to 'spend the time' and another to work. Some men will
accomplish more in an hour than others will in three."

"I do my best," said Will gloomily. He felt almost as if his father was
unfair with him and was disposed to question what he had said.

"Now, Will," said Mr. Phelps quietly, but in a tone of voice which his
boy clearly understood, "it would be an easy thing for me to smooth over
this matter and make light of it, but my love and interest in you are
too strong to permit me to think of that for a moment. I believe in you,
my boy, but there are some things in which I cannot aid you, some things
which you must learn and do for yourself. Last year you faced your
crisis as a man should, and I believe you will face this one too."

"It seems as if there was always something to be faced."

"There is. That's it, exactly. My boy, Splinter, as you call your
professor in Greek, is not limited to the faculty of Winthrop College.
In one form or another he presents himself all through your life. His
name is simply that of the perpetual problem."

"I don't see, then--" interrupted Will.

"No, you don't see; but it is just because I do, and I am your father,
that I am talking in this way. Why do you think I have sent you to
college? It isn't for the name of it, or for the fun you will get out of
it, or even for the friendships you will form here, though every one of
these things is good in itself. It is to have you so trained, or rather
for you so to train yourself, that when you go out from Winthrop you
will be able to meet the very problems of which I am speaking and master
them. They come to all, and the great difference in men is really in
their ability to solve these very things. I think it is Emerson who
says, 'It is as easy for a large man to do large things as it is for a
small man to do small things.' And that is what I want for you, my boy,
the ability to do the greater things."

"But I'll never use Greek any. I wish I could take some other study in
its place."

"Just now it is not a question of Greek or something in its place. It is
a question of facing and overcoming a difficulty or permitting it to
overcome you. You must decide whether you will be a victor or a victim.
There are just three things a man can do when he finds himself compelled
to meet one of these difficult things that in one form or another come
to everybody. He can turn and run from it, but that's the part of a
coward. He can get around it, evade it somehow, but that's the part of
the timid and palterer, and sooner or later the superficial man is found
out. Then there is the best way, which is to meet and master it.
Everybody has to decide which he will do, but do one of the three he
must, and there is no escape."

"You think I ought to hit it between the eyes?"

"Yes, though I should not put it in quite that way," said his father
with a smile.

"I'd like to smash it! I don't like it! I'll never make a Greek scholar,
and I detest Splinter. He's as dry as a bone or a Greek root! He hasn't
any more juice than a piece of boiled basswood!"

"That does not alter the matter. It won't change, and you've got to
choose in which of the three ways I have suggested you will meet it."

"I suppose that's so," said Will quietly. "But it doesn't make it any
easier."

"Not a bit."

"I know what you would say."

"Then it isn't necessary for me to say another word. There's one thing I
am thankful for, Will, and that is that you and I are such good friends
that we can talk this trouble all over together. The dean was telling me
this morning--"

"Have you seen the dean?" interrupted Will quickly. "What did he say?"

"The dean was telling me," resumed Mr. Phelps smiling and ignoring the
interruption, "that he sees so many of what might be termed the tragical
elements of college life, that he sometimes feels as if he could not
retain his position another day. Fathers and mothers broken-hearted,
boys discouraged or worse, but the most tragical experience of all, he
says, is to try to deal with fathers who have no special interest in
their boys, and between whom there is no confidence. Whatever troubles
may come to us, Will, I am thankful that that at least will not be one
of them."

As he spoke Mr. Phelps arose, for the machine which was to convey him to
the station could now be seen approaching and the time of his departure
had arrived. His good-bye was hastily spoken for he knew how hard it
would be for Will to be left behind, and in a brief time he had taken
his seat in the auto. He saw Will as he hastily ran back to his room and
then he could see him as he stood by the window in his room watching the
departing auto as long as it could be seen. He gave no signal to show
that he saw his boy, but his own eyes were wet as he was carried swiftly
down the street, as he thought of the predicament in which Will was and
how the testing-time had come again. But the young student must be left
to fight out his battle alone. To save him from the struggle would be to
save him from the strength. If it were only possible for a father to
save his boy by assuming his burden, how thankful he would be, was Mr.
Phelps' reflection, but he was too wise a man and too good a father to
flinch or falter now, and, though his heart was heavy, he resolutely
kept on his way leaving Will to fight his own battle, and hoping that
the issue would be as he most fervently desired.

Left to himself, for a moment Will was almost despondent. The departure
of his father seemed to leave the loneliness intensified, but he was
recalled as he heard some one run up the stairway and rush into the
room. His visitor was Mott, and perhaps the sophomore almost
instinctively felt that his presence was not welcome, for he said:

"Governor gone, Phelps? Hope he left a good-sized check with you! I've
come over to be the first to help you get rid of it."

"What's the trouble?" inquired Will quietly, glancing up as he spoke.
"Your money all gone? Want to borrow some?"

"I'm always ready for that," laughed Mott, "though I'll have to own up
that I've got a few cents on hand yet. No, I don't know that I want to
borrow any; but I thought you might want a little help in getting rid of
that check, and I'd just run over to oblige you. Just pure missionary
work, you see." Mott seated himself in the large easy-chair and
endeavored to appear at his ease, though to Will it still seemed as if
there was something which still troubled his visitor.

"I haven't any special check."

"That's all right. My 'old man' never has been up to see me since I
entered Winthrop, but as I look around at the fellows whose fathers and
mothers have been up, I've noticed that they're usually pretty flush
right after the old gentleman departs."

"Hasn't your mother ever been up?" inquired Will in surprise.

"No. Why should she? She hasn't any time to bother with me. She's on
more than forty boards, and is on the 'go' all the time. She has to
attend all sorts of 'mothers' meetings' too, and I believe she has a
lecture also, which she gives."

"A lecture?"

"Yes. She has a lecture on 'The proper method of bringing up boys.' How
do you suppose she ever has any time to visit me?" Mott laughed as if
the matter was one of supreme indifference to him, but Will fancied that
he could detect a feeling of bitterness beneath it all. For himself, the
condition described by the sophomore seemed to him to be incredible. His
own relations with his father had been of the frankest and most friendly
nature. Indeed, it never occurred to him in a time of trouble or
perplexity that there was any one else to whom he so naturally could go
as to his own father. Since he had entered Winthrop, however, he had
discovered several who were not unlike Mott in their feelings toward
their own families; and as Mott spoke he almost unconsciously found a
feeling of sympathy arising in his heart for him. Some of his apparently
reckless deeds could be explained now.

"Mott, you must go home with me next vacation," he said impulsively.

"That's good of you, but it's too far off to promise. Say, Phelps,
what's become of that man Friday of yours?"

"Who's he?"

"Schenck."

"Oh, he's flourishing."

"He's the freshest freshman that ever entered Winthrop. What do you
suppose he had the nerve to say to me to-day?"

"I can't imagine."

"Well, he told me that he thought the Alpha Omega was the best
fraternity in college, and that he'd made up his mind to join it."

As this was the fraternity to which Mott himself belonged, Will laughed
as he said, "Oh, well, don't be too hard with Peter John. He doesn't
know any better now, but he'll learn."

"That's what he will," replied Mott with a very decided shake of his
head. "I thought I'd come over to tell you that the sophomore-freshmen
meet is to come off on Saturday afternoon."

"Not next Saturday?" exclaimed Will aghast.

"Yes, that's the very day."

"They told me it wasn't to be for two weeks yet."

"All the same it's on Saturday. I thought I'd tell you, though I'm going
to do my best to keep you from winning your numerals."

Mott rose and departed from the room, and when Foster returned he found
his room-mate hard at work, with his Greek books spread out on the desk
before him.



CHAPTER XII

THE MEET


The fact that the track meet between the two lower classes had been
placed at an earlier date than that for which it had first been
announced was a serious disappointment to Will Phelps. His success in
the school athletics had made him quietly hopeful, if not confident,
that he might be able to win some laurels in college, and he also was
aware that the gold medal he wore upon his fob had made his own
classmates expect great things from him. And the changed date now
prevented him from doing any training and he must enter the contest
without any preparation.

Reports had come to him that Mott and Ogden, the two fleetest-footed
sophomores, had already been working hard, and rumors were also current
that he himself was to be kidnapped and prevented from entering the
games. Will had given but slight heed to any of these reports, but he
had in his own mind decided that he would begin training at once for the
contest, for if he should by any chance win then he would be the first
member of his own class to gain the coveted privilege of wearing his
class numerals upon his cap and sweater. And, not unnaturally, Will was
eager to secure the honor.

As he thought over Mott's words he was half inclined to believe that the
sophomore himself had been the cause of the unexpected change in the
date of holding the games, and his feeling of anger and desire to win
both became keener. There was no time, however, afforded in which he
might make preparations for the meet, and he must simply do his best
under existing circumstances. There was to be no burlesque or "horse
play" in this contest, and the entire college would be on hand and
interested to note the promise of the entering class in a department of
college life that appealed strongly to all the students. Even his new
determination to push his work in his Greek harder than ever he had done
and his feeling of homesickness did not in the day that intervened
between the present and the day of the games prevent his interest and
excitement from increasing during the passing hours.

Saturday afternoon finally arrived, clear and cool, an ideal day for the
contest. When Will stepped forth from the dressing-room, clad in his
light running suit and with his bath robe wrapped around him, as he
glanced over the track he could see that a crowd was already assembled.
The sophomores were seated in a body in one portion of the "bleachers,"
and their noisy shouts or loud class cries rose steadily on the autumn
air. Opposite was the freshman class, but its members were still too
unfamiliar with their surroundings and with one another to enable them
to join in anything like the unison of their rivals. In the grand stand
were numbers of the members of the families of the faculty and the
townspeople and visitors, and altogether the scene was one that strongly
stirred Will and his room-mate, Foster Bennett, who also was to compete
in the games.

Suddenly a loud, derisive shout arose from the sophomores, and Will
glanced quickly up to discover its cause. In a moment the cause was
seen, when Peter John Schenck came running across the field toward the
place where Will and Foster were standing beside a few of their
classmates, who were also waiting for the game to begin.

The sight of Peter John was one that caused even Will and Foster to
smile, for their classmate was dressed as if he too was about to become
a contestant, and this was something neither of them had expected. It
was Peter John's garb, however, which had so greatly delighted the
beholders, for it was unlike anything to be seen upon the
field--"fearfully and wonderfully made," as Mott, who had joined them
for a moment, had expressed it. Evidently it was the result of Peter
John's own handiwork. His running trousers came to a place about halfway
between his knees and ankles before they stopped, and were fashioned of
coarse bagging or material very similar to it. He wore no running shoes,
but a pair of gray woolen socks, plainly "hand made," provided a
substitute. His "running shirt" was a calico blouse which had at one
time doubtless served him as a garment in which he had done the daily
chores upon his father's farm, but, as if to make matters still worse, a
broad band of ribbon, the colors of the class, was diagonally fastened
to his blouse in front, and Peter John's fierce shock of bright red
hair, uncut since he had entered Winthrop, served to set off the entire
picture he presented.

"Well, I guess we'll do 'em to-day, Will," exclaimed Peter John as he
approached the group of which his friend was a member.

"I guess we will," remarked Mott soberly.

"I'm going to do my prettiest," continued Peter John.

"If you let anybody once get ahead of you, Schenck," said Mott, "you'll
never catch him. If he sees you after him he'll run for his life."

"He'll have to!"

"What are you entered for?" inquired Mott, glancing at his program as he
spoke.

"The half-mile run."

"Ever do it before?"

"Once or twice."

"What time did you make?"

"I don't just recollect."

"Never mind. You'll make a new record to-day."

"That's what I want to do," replied Peter John, sublimely unconscious
that he was being made sport of by the sophomore.

The conversation was interrupted by the call, "All out for the
hundred-yard dash!" and, as Will was to run in the first heat, he drew
off his bath robe and tossing it to Foster, turned at once for the
starting-place. He had already been indulging in a few trials of
starting, but his feeling of confidence was by no means strong as he
glanced at those who were to be his competitors. There were four runners
in his heat, and one of them was Ogden, the sophomore of whose
reputation as a "sprinter" Will already was aware. The other two were
freshmen and therefore unknown quantities, but Will's chief interest was
in Ogden. He could see the knots of muscles in his arms and back and
legs, and his own feeling of confidence was in nowise strengthened by
the sight. Certainly Ogden was a muscular fellow, and a competitor as
dangerous as he was striking in his appearance.

The call, "On your marks," was given, and Will, with the other three,
advanced and took his place on the line. Every nerve in his body seemed
to be tingling with excitement and his heart was beating furiously.

"Get set!" called the starter, and then in a moment there followed the
sharp report of the pistol and the runners were speeding down the
course. Will felt that he had secured a good start, and but a few yards
had been covered when he realized that he and Ogden were running almost
side by side and had left the other two contestants behind them. Nor
were their relative positions changed as they sped on down the track
except that the distance between Will and Ogden and the two freshmen
behind them was steadily increased. Will was dimly aware as he drew near
the line that the entire sophomore body had risen and was noisily
calling to their classmate to increase his speed. There was silence from
the seats occupied by the freshman class, but Will was hardly mindful of
the lack of support. Glancing neither to the right nor the left, he
could almost instinctively feel that Ogden was a few inches in advance
of him and all his efforts were centered upon cutting down the
intervening distance.

As the contestants came within the last ten yards of the course, Will
gathered himself together for one final burst of speed. His feet seemed
scarcely to touch the ground as he darted forward. But Ogden was not to
be outdone, for he too increased the pace at which he was running, and
when they touched the line that was stretched across the course, the
sophomore was still ahead by a few inches and had come in first in the
heat, while Will was second.

Foster was standing near to catch his room-mate, and as he wrapped the
bath robe around him, he said: "It's all right, Will; you're in the
finals."

"First two taken?" gasped Will.

"Yes."

"Hold on. Let's hear the time," said Will, stopping abruptly as the
announcer advanced.

"Hundred-yards dash, first heat," called the senior, "Won by number ten.
Second, number fifteen. Time, ten and two-fifths seconds."

"That's good for the heat, Will," said Foster warmly.

"I'm not in training," said Will despondently.

"The others aren't either, or at least not much. You had Ogden nearly
winded, and when it comes to the finals you'll do him up," said Foster
encouragingly.

Will did not reply, for the call for the second heat was now made and he
was intensely interested in watching Mott's performance, for his
reputation in the college was even greater than Ogden's. And if he
himself had been beaten by Ogden, what chance would he have against
Mott? The question was not reassuring, but as the five men in the second
heat could now be seen taking their positions on the line, it was for
the moment ignored, as intensely interested he turned to watch the race
that was about to be run.

In a moment the pistol was fired and the five contestants came speeding
down the course. It was soon seen that Mott was leading, but only by a
little, though he did not appear to be exerting himself strongly.

"Easy, dead easy!" Will heard a sophomore near him remark, and as he
watched Mott's easy stride he heartily concurred in the opinion.

The runners were nearing the line now, and as Mott drew near he almost
stopped for a moment and glanced smilingly behind him at his
contestants. Instantly his nearest competitor darted forward and before
the sophomore could recover himself he had touched the string and won
the heat, with Mott a close second. Mott, however, appeared to be in
nowise disconcerted and laughingly received the bantering words of his
classmates. He laughed again when the time was announced as ten and
four-fifths seconds, and approaching the place where Will and Foster
were standing, said:

"You did well, freshman. Made better time than I did."

"I had to, if I kept anywhere near Ogden."

The other events of the meet were now being run off, and as Peter John
Schenck took his place on the line for the half-mile run the uproar
became almost tumultuous, and when the freshman apparently took it all
in his most serious manner and bowed gravely to the sophomores,
evidently appropriating to himself all the noisy demonstrations of
delight, the shouts and laughter redoubled.

In a moment, however, the runners were off and Peter John quickly
advanced to the first place, followed by a line of five that were well
bunched together. There were many derisive calls and cries and Peter
John's work seemed to be taken as a joke by all the spectators, who were
loud in their declarations that he was "making a mistake" and would
"never be able to maintain his stride." Around the course sped the
runners until at last they were on the home stretch and still Peter John
was in advance, his arms working like the fans of a Dutch windmill and
his awkward movements becoming more awkward as the strain of the final
part of the race came upon him. Still he was in the lead, however, and
the derisive cries were giving place to shouts of approval and
encouragement from his own classmates.

The increasing excitement seemed to provide an additional spur to the
awkward freshman, for his speed suddenly increased and he darted across
the line far in advance of his rivals who were bunched behind him.
Laughter was mingled with the applause that greeted him, and when the
captain of the college track team advanced and extended his hand in
congratulation, the genuineness of the applause that followed was
unquestioned.

Peter John, highly elated by his success, approached Will and said
glibly: "There, Will, I rather guess that'll add five points to our
score."

"I rather guess it will," laughed his classmate cordially. He was as
greatly surprised as any one that day, but he was too generous to
begrudge any praise to Peter John.

"Now see that you do as well," said Peter John, as the call for the
finals in the hundred-yard dash was made.

Will made no response as he advanced to take his place. Foster had
already won the running broad jump and was in a fair way to win the
shot-put as well. Peter John had been successful too, and to Will it
seemed that he must win his race or his disappointment would be almost
too bitter to bear.

At the report of the pistol the contestants darted from the line and
came speeding down the track toward the finish, which was near the place
where the spectators were assembled. Vigorously, lusty, the perfection
physically of young manhood, the four runners sped on with the swiftness
of the wind, but when they touched the tape it was evident that Mott was
first by a small margin and that Ogden was second, being an almost
imperceptible distance in advance of Will Phelps, who had finished third
in the race.



CHAPTER XIII

WAGNER'S ADVICE


The applause that greeted the winners was sounding but dimly and like
some far-away shout in Will Phelps' ears when he staggered into the
outstretched arms of Hawley, who was waiting to receive his classmate.
Mortification, chagrin, disappointment were all mingled in his feelings,
and it was all intensified by the fact that both Foster and Peter John
had won their "numerals" and were now marked men in the class. Not that
he begrudged either the honors he had won, but his own reputation as a
sprinter had preceded his coming to Winthrop, and Will knew that great
things had been expected of him.

"It was a great race, Phelps," said Hawley, "and you've added another
point to our score."

Will could understand the attempt at consolation which his huge
classmate was making, but it only served to increase the bitterness of
his own defeat. He smiled, but made no response. He could see Peter John
strutting about and receiving the half-bantering congratulations of the
students, and his heart became still heavier.

"Never mind, Phelps, you didn't have any chance to train," said Hawley.
"Mott and Ogden have been down on the track every evening for the past
three weeks."

"They have?" demanded Will, a ray of light appearing for the moment.

"Sure. And besides all that they got the date of the 'meet' changed
too."

"They beat me," said Will simply.

"Everybody expected them to. They all know you're a good runner, Phelps,
but they say a freshman never wins. Such a thing hasn't been known for
years. You see, a freshman is all new to it here, and I don't care how
good he is, he can't do himself justice. You ought to hear what Wagner,
the captain of the college track team, had to say about you."

"What did he say?" inquired Will eagerly.

"He said you had it in you to make one of the best runners in college,
and he's going to keep an eye on you for the team too."

"Did he say that?"

"That's what he did."

"The two-twenty hasn't been run yet. I believe I'll go in for that."

"That's the way to talk."

"Let me see when it comes," said Will, turning to his program as he
spoke.

"Fifteen minutes yet," said Hawley. "Come into the dressing room,
Phelps, and I'll give you a good rubbing down."

Will at once accompanied his friend to the dressing room, and when the
call for the two hundred and twenty yards' dash was made, he took his
place on the line with the other competitors. There were only four, the
same four that had run in the final heat of the hundred yards, the
defeated contestants all having dropped out save one.

When the pistol was fired and the racers had started, Will was at once
aware that again the victory was not to be his. The lack of training
and practice, and perhaps also the depression which his previous defeat
had produced in his mind contributed to his failure; but whatever the
cause, though he exerted himself to the utmost, he found that he was
unable to overtake either Mott or Ogden, who steadily held their places
before him. It was true when the race was finished that he was less than
a yard behind Mott, who was himself only about a foot in the rear of the
fleet-footed Ogden, and that the fourth runner was so far behind Will
that he was receiving the hootings and jibes of the sophomores, but
still the very best that Phelps was able to do was to cross the line as
third. It was true that again he had won a point for the honor of his
class, but it was first place he had longed to gain, and his
disappointment was correspondingly keen.

It was Hawley who again received him in his arms, and once more the
young giant endeavored to console his defeated classmate, for as such
Will looked upon himself, in spite of the fact that he had come in
third, and therefore had scored a point in each race. But as Hawley
perceived that his friend was in no mood to listen, he wisely refrained
from speaking, and both stood near the track watching the contestants in
the various events that were not yet run off. Too proud to acknowledge
his disappointment in his defeat by departing from the field, and yet
too sore in his mind to arouse much enthusiasm, he waited till the games
were ended and it was known that the sophomores had won by a score of
sixty-four and a half to forty-eight and a half. Then he quietly sought
the dressing room, and as soon as he had donned his garments went at
once to his own room.

It was a relief to find that not even Foster was there, and as he seated
himself in his easy-chair and gazed out at the brilliantly clad hills
with the purple haze that rested over them all, for a time a feeling of
utter and complete depression swept over him. Was this the fulfillment
of the dreams he had cherished of the happiness of his college life?
Already warned by Splinter that his work in Greek was so poor that he
was in danger of being dropped from the class, the keen disappointment
of his father apparent though his words had been few, the grief in his
home and the peril to himself were all now visible to the heart-sick
young freshman. And now to lose in the two track events had added a
weight that to Will seemed to be almost crushing. He had pictured to
himself how he would lightly turn away his poor work in the classroom by
explaining that he could not hope to win in everything, and that
athletics had always been his strong point anyway. But now even that was
taken away and his failure was almost equally apparent in both.

He could see Peter John coming up the walk, receiving the
congratulations of the classmates he met and giving his "pump-handle"
handshake to those who were willing to receive it. It was maddening and
almost more than Will thought he could bear. It was a mistake that he
had ever come to college anyway, he bitterly assured himself. He was not
well prepared in spite of the fact that he had worked hard for a part of
his final year in the preparatory school. Greek? He detested the
subject. Even his father came in for a share of blame, for if he had
not insisted upon his taking it Will never would have entered Splinter's
room. He might have taken German under "Dutchy," or English under
Professor Jones, as many of his classmates were doing, and every one
declared that the work there was a "snap."

It was not long before Will Phelps was in a state of mind wherein he was
convinced that he was being badly treated and had more to contend
against than any other man in his class. His naturally impulsive
disposition seldom found any middle ground on which he was permitted to
stand. His father had one time laughingly declared that the comparative
degree had been entirely left out of Will's make-up and that things were
usually of the superlative. "Worst," "best," "poorest," "finest" were
adjectives most commonly to be found in his vocabulary, and between the
two extremes a great gulf appeared to be fixed. He had also declared
that he looked for Will to occupy no middle ground. He would either be a
pronouncedly successful man or an equally pronounced failure, a very
good man or a man who would be a villain. And Will had laughingly
accepted the verdict, being well assured that he knew, if it must be one
of the two, which it would of necessity be. All things had gone well
with him from the time of his earliest recollections. His home had been
one of comfort and even of elegance, any reasonable desire had never
been denied, he had always been a leading spirit among the pupils of the
high school, and that he was too, a young fellow who was graceful in his
appearance, well dressed, and confident of his own position, doubtless
Will Phelps was aware, although he did not give expression to the fact
in such terms.

And now the "superlative degree" had certainly displayed itself, Will
thought in his wretchedness, only it had manifested itself in the
extreme which he never had before believed to be possible with him. He
listened to the shouts and laughter of the students passing along the
street below and every fresh outburst only served to deepen his own
feeling of depression. Not any of the enthusiasm was for him.

He was roused from his bitter reflection by the opening of the door into
his room, but he did not look up, as he was convinced that it was only
his room-mate, and Foster understood him so well that he would not talk
when he saw that he was in no mood for conversation.

"Hello, Phelps! What's wrong?"

Will hastily sat erect and looked up. His visitor was Wagner, the
captain of the track team, the one senior of all others for whom Will
cherished a feeling of respect that was almost unbounded. He had never
met the great man before, but he had looked up to him with awe when
Wagner had been pointed out to him by admiring students, and he was
aware that the captain's reputation was as great in the college for his
manliness as it was for his success in athletics. Unpretentious,
straightforward, without a sign of "cant" or "gush" about him, the
influence of the young leader had been a mighty force for good in the
life of Winthrop College. And now as Will glanced into the face of the
tall, powerful young fellow and realized that it was indeed himself
whom his visitor was addressing, his feeling of depression instantly
gave place to surprise and in the unexpected honor he found it difficult
to express himself.

"Nothing much. I wasn't just looking for any--for you," he stammered.
"Won't you take this chair, Mr. Wagner?" Will pushed the easy-chair
toward his visitor as he spoke and again urged him to be seated.

"That's all right, Phelps. Keep your seat. I'll just sit here," replied
Wagner, seating himself upon the edge of Will's desk. "How do you feel
after the games?" he inquired.

"I'm a bit sore outside and worse still inside."

"What's the trouble?"

"I came in only third."

"Only third? Where did you expect to come in?"

"Why--why, I was hoping I'd get first in the hundred," Will managed to
reply.

"You're a modest youth," laughed Wagner, surveying his long legs and
laughing in such a manner that Will was compelled to join.

"Well, the fellows rather thought I'd win and that's what makes me feel
worse about it."

"They're only freshmen; they don't know any better," laughed Wagner.
"Don't let that bother you for a minute. I think you did well myself,
and besides, the freshmen very seldom win in the sprints. I don't know
that I ever saw one since I've been in college."

"Did you win the hurdles when you were a freshman?"

"Oh, I just happened to. 'Twas an accident of some kind, I fancy. Yes,
I think the soph who was ahead of me tripped and fell, so I crawled in
first."

"That will do for you to tell."

"Perhaps I did win. But that's neither here nor there. It isn't what I
came for. I didn't want to talk about myself but about you."

Will looked up eagerly but did not speak, though his question was to be
seen in the expression of his face.

"My advice to you is to go to work and try for the track team in the
spring."

"Do you think I can make it?" said Will breathlessly.

"I don't say that," laughed Wagner. "That's something to be decided
later. All I said was that you'd better 'try' for it. You've nothing to
lose if you fail and something to win if you succeed."

"But if I should try and then not make it."

"Yes, that's a possibility, of course. No man can ever tell about that.
But I shouldn't let it break my heart if I didn't make the team the
first year. Very few do that. All I say is go ahead and try. No man can
ever tell what's in him till he tests himself, can he?"

"No, I suppose not."

"Now don't have any nonsense about it, Phelps, and don't misunderstand
me. I believe in every man doing his best and then just resting there
and not crying over what he can't ever have. If a man does his best and
then doesn't have the whole world bowing and scraping before him because
he isn't very high up, that isn't any reason why he should kick. Take
what you've got, use it, test it, and then if you find you're not a star
but only a candle, why, just shine as a candle and don't go sputtering
around because you can't twinkle like a star. At least that's the way I
look at it."

"Perhaps a fellow's father and mother don't look at it that way."

"Are you having trouble with Splinter?" demanded the senior sharply.

"A little. Yes, a good deal. I detest the fellow!" said Will bitterly.

"No wonder you lost the hundred," responded Wagner with a smile. "Do you
know, Phelps, I had the same experience you're having with him when I
was a freshman."

"What did you do?"

"Do? There's only one thing to do and that is to do his work. But I
advise you to go down to his house and see him and talk it over."

"He won't want to see me."

"Yes, he will. He's not half so bad as you think. Try it; I did."

"He'll think I'm trying to boot-lick."

"No, he won't. You can run if you have to, can't you?" demanded Wagner.
"You've got a good stride, and, like trying for the track team, you've
nothing to lose and everything to gain."



CHAPTER XIV

THE ADVICE FOLLOWED


For a time after the departure of Wagner, Will Phelps sat thinking over
the stirring words of his visitor. His feeling of positive
discouragement, with the natural rebound of his impulsive temperament,
had in a measure given place to one of confidence and even of elation.
To be recognized by the great captain was an honor of itself, but to
receive a personal visit from him and a warm invitation to try for a
place on the track team was a distinction for which he never had even
dared to dream. Even his other pressing problem--his work in
Greek--appeared slightly more rosy-hued now, and a sudden determination
seized upon him to do as Wagner had suggested and see Splinter that very
night.

Accordingly, soon after dinner--the meal at his fraternity house which
he had dreaded in view of the semi-defeat of the afternoon--he started
toward the home of his professor of Greek, resolved to talk over the
entire situation with him and strive to learn exactly where he stood and
what his prospects were likely to be.

As he approached the walk that led from the street back to the
professor's home he came face to face with Mott and Peter John Schenck.
His surprise at meeting them was not greater than that he should find
them together, and the fact to his mind boded little good for his
classmate.

"Going in to see Splinter?" inquired Mott.

"Yes."

"Better not."

"Why?"

"Boot-licking isn't in very high favor here at Winthrop."

Will was glad that the darkness concealed the flush which he knew crept
over his face, but his voice was steady as he replied: "That's all
right, Mott. I'm not going in to see Splinter because I want to, you may
let your heart rest easy as to that."

"How long are you going to be in the house?"

"I'm afraid that will not be for me to decide. If I have my way, it
won't be long."

"Well, good luck to you!" called Mott as he and his companion passed on
down the street.

Will rang the bell and was at once ushered into the professor's study.
The professor himself was seated at his desk with a green shade over his
eyes, and evidently had been at work upon some papers. Will even fancied
that he could recognize the one which he himself had handed in the
preceding day and his embarrassment increased.

"Ah, good evening, Mr. Phelps," said the professor extending his hand
and partly rising from his seat as he greeted his caller. "Will you be
seated?"

"Good evening, professor," replied the freshman as he took the chair
indicated.

An awkward silence followed which Will somehow found it difficult to
break in upon. He heartily wished that he had not come, for the reality
was much worse than he had thought. Even the very lines and furrows in
the professor's face seemed to him to be forbidding, and he felt that it
would be well-nigh impossible for him to explain the purpose of his
coming.

"Was there something concerning which you desired to consult me?"
inquired the professor. The voice seemed to be as impersonal as that of
a phonograph, and every letter in every word was so distinctly
pronounced that the effect was almost electric.

"Yes, sir."

Again silence intervened. The professor's lips moved slightly as if, as
Will afterwards declared, "he was tasting his Greek roots," but he did
not speak. The freshman shifted his position, toyed with his gloves and
at last, unable to endure the suspense any longer, he broke forth:

"Yes, sir, there is, professor. I have not been doing very well in my
Greek."

"Ah. Let me see." The professor opened a drawer and drew forth a little
notebook which he consulted for a brief time. "Yes, you are correct.
Your work is below the required standard."

"But what am I to do about it?" demanded Will.

"Yes, ah, yes. I fancy it will be necessary for you to spend a somewhat
longer period of study in preparation."

"But _how_ shall I study?"

"Yes. Yes. Ah, yes. Exactly so. So you refer to the method to be
employed in the preparation for the classroom?"

"Yes, sir. That's it. I'm willing enough to work, but I don't know how."

"Well, I should say that the proper method would be to employ a tutor
for a time. There are several very excellent young gentlemen who are
accustomed to give their services to deserving youth--"

"I don't want them to give it. I'll pay for it!" interrupted Will.

"I was about to say that these young gentlemen give their services for a
consideration--a proper consideration--of course."

The professor's thin lips seemed to be reluctant to permit the escape of
a word, so firmly were they pressed together during the intervals
between his slowly spoken words. His slight figure, "too thin to cast a
shadow," in the vigorous terms of the young freshman, was irritating in
the extreme, and if Will had followed his own inclinations he would at
once have ended the interview.

"I knew I could get a tutor, and if it is necessary I'll do it. But I
did not know but that you might be able to make a suggestion to me. I
know I'm not very well prepared, but if you'll give me a show and tell
me a little how to go to work at the detestable stuff I'll do my best. I
don't like it. I wouldn't keep at it a minute if my father was not so
anxious for me to keep it up and I'd do anything in the world for him.
That's why I'm in the Greek class."

"You are, I fancy (fawncy was the word in the dialect of the professor)
doing better work in the various other departments than in your Greek?"

"Yes, sir. I think so."

"You are not positive?"

"Yes, sir. I know I'm doing fairly well in my Latin and mathematics. Why
the recitation in Latin never seems to be more than a quarter of an
hour, while the Greek seems as if it would never come to an end. I
think Professor Baxter is the best teacher I ever saw and he doesn't
make the Latin seem a bit like a dead language. But the Greek seems as
if it had never been alive."

"Ahem-m!" piped up the thin voice of the professor of Greek.

Will Phelps, however, was in earnest now and his embarrassment was all
forgotten. He was expressing his own inward feelings and without any
intention or even thought of how the words would sound he was describing
his own attitude of mind. He certainly had no thought of how his words
would be received.

"Ahem-m!" repeated the professor shrilly and shifting a trifle uneasily
in his seat. "I fawncy that a student always does better work in a
subject which he enjoys."

"Yes, but doesn't he enjoy what he can do better work in too? Now I
don't know how to study Greek, can't seem to make anything out of it. As
you told me one day in the class 'I make Greek of it all.' Perhaps not
exactly the kind of Greek you want, though," Will added with a smile.

"Ah, yes. I fawncy a trifle more of work would aid you."

"Of course! I know it would! And that's what I'm willing to do and what
I want to do, professor. But the trouble is I don't know just how to
work."

"I--I fail to see precisely what you mean."

"Why, I spend time enough but I don't seem to 'get there'--I mean I
don't seem to accomplish much. My translation's not much good, and
everything is wrong."

"Perhaps you have an innate deficiency--"

"You mean I'm a fool?" Will laughed good-naturedly, and even the
professor smiled.

"Ah, no. By no means, Mr. Phelps, quite the contrary to that, I assure
you. There are some men who are very brilliant students in certain
subjects, but are very indifferent ones in others. For example, I
recollect that some twenty years ago--or to be exact nineteen years
ago--there was a student in my classes who was very brilliant, very
brilliant indeed. His name as I recall it was Wilder. So proficient was
he in his Greek that some of the students facetiously called him
Socrates, and some still more facetious even termed him Soc. I am sure,
Mr. Phelps, you have been in college a sufficient length of time to
apprehend the frolicsome nature of some of the students here."

"I certainly have," Will remarked with a smile, recalling his own
compulsory collar-button race.

"I fawncied so. Well, this Mr. Wilder to whom I refer was doing
remarkable work, truly remarkable work in Greek, but for some cause his
standing in mathematics was extremely low, and in other branches he was
not a brilliant success."

"What did he do?" inquired Will eager to bring the tedious description
to a close, and if possible receive the suggestions for which he had
come.

"My recollection is that he finally left college."

"Indeed!" Will endeavored to be duly impressed by the startling fact,
but as he recalled the professor's statement that the brilliant Wilder
was in college something like twenty years before this time, his
brilliancy in being able to complete the course and now be out from the
college did not seem to him to indicate any undue precocity on the part
of the aforesaid student.

"Yes, it was so. It has been my pleasure to receive an annual letter
from him, and I trust you will not think I am unduly immodest when I
state that he acknowledges that all his success in life is due to the
work he did here in my own classes in Winthrop. My sole motive in
referring to it is the desire to aid you."

"You think I may be another Wilder?" inquired Will lightly.

"Not exactly. That was not the thought that was uppermost. But it may
serve as an incentive to you."

"What is this Wilder doing now?"

"Ahem-m!" The professor cleared his throat repeatedly before he spoke.
"He is engaged in an occupation that brings him into contact with the
very best that has been thought and said, and also into contact with
some of the brightest and keenest intellects of our nation."

"He must be an editor or a publisher then."

"Not exactly. Not exactly, Mr. Phelps. He is engaged rather in a
mercantile way, though with the most scholarly works, I do assure you."

"Is he a book agent?"

"Ahem-m! Ahem-m! That is an expression I seldom use, Mr. Phelps. It has
become a somewhat obnoxious term, though originally it was not so, I
fawncy. I should hardly care to apply that expression as indicative of
Mr. Wilder's present occupation."

"And you think if I try hard I may at last become a book agent too?"

"You have mistaken my implication," said the professor scowling slightly
as he spoke. "I was striving solely to provide an incentive for you. You
may recall what Homer, or at least he whom in our current phraseology we
are accustomed to call Homer--I shall not now enter into the merits of
that question of the Homeridæ. As I was about to remark, however, you
doubtless may recollect what Homer in the fifth book of his Iliad, line
forty-ninth, I think it is, has to say."

"I'm afraid I don't recall it. You see, professor, I had only three
books of the Iliad before I came to Winthrop."

"Surely! Surely! Strange that I should have forgotten that. It is a
pleasure you have in store then, Mr. Phelps."

"Can you give me any suggestions how to do better work, professor?"
inquired Will mildly.

"My advice to you is to secure Mr. Franklin of the present junior class
to tutor you for a time."

"Thank you. I'll try to see him to-night," said Will rising and
preparing to depart.

"That might be wise. I trust you will call upon me again, Mr. Phelps. I
have enjoyed this call exceedingly. You will not misunderstand me if I
say I had slight knowledge of your classic tastes before, and I am sure
that I congratulate you heartily, Mr. Phelps. I do indeed."

"Thank you," replied Will respectfully, and he then departed from the
house. He was divided between a feeling of keen disappointment and a
desire to laugh as he walked up the street toward his dormitory. And
this was the man who was to stimulate his intellectual processes! In his
thoughts he contrasted him with his professor in Latin, and the man as
well as the language sank lower and lower in his estimation. And yet he
must meet it. The problem might be solved but could not be evaded. He
would see Franklin at once, he decided.



CHAPTER XV

A REVERSED DECISION


In the days that immediately followed, Will Phelps found himself so busy
that there was but little time afforded for the pleasures of comradeship
or for the lighter side of college life. Acting upon the one good point
in the advice of his professor of Greek he secured a tutor, and though
he found but little pleasure in the study, still he gave himself to it
so unreservedly that when a few weeks had elapsed, a new light, dim
somewhat, it was true, and by no means altogether cheering, began to
appear upon his pathway. It was so much more difficult to catch up than
to keep up, and perhaps this was the very lesson which Will Phelps
needed most of all to learn. There was not much time given to recreation
now, and Will acting upon the advice of the instructor in athletics had
abandoned his projected practice in running though his determination to
try to secure a place on the track team was as strong as ever. But he
had substituted for the running a line of work in the gymnasium which
tended to develop the muscles in his legs and keep his general bodily
condition in good form. He was informed that success in running was
based upon nerve force as well as upon muscular power, and that "early
to bed" was almost as much a requisite here as it was in making a man
"healthy and wealthy and wise." This condition however he found it
exceedingly difficult to fulfill, for the additional work he was doing
in Greek made a severe draught upon his time as well as upon his
energies.

"I hate the stuff!" he declared one night to his room-mate after he had
spent several hours in an almost vain effort to fasten certain rules in
his mind. "You don't catch me taking it after this year."

"You don't have to look ahead, Will," suggested Foster kindly.

"No, the look behind is bad enough. If I had worked in the early part of
the high-school course as I ought to I'd not be having all this bother
now."

"And if you work now you won't have the trouble ahead," laughed Foster.

"I suppose that's the way of it."

"Of course it is. A fellow reaps what he sows."

"I'd rather _rip_ what I sewed," said Will ruefully. "Do you know,
Foster, sometimes I think the game isn't worth the candle. I'd give it
all up, even if I had to leave college, if it wasn't for my father."

"You wouldn't do anything of the kind and you know it, Will Phelps!
You're not the fellow to run when the pinch comes."

"I'd like to, though," said Will thoughtfully. "My fit in Greek was so
poor I'll never get much of the good from studying it."

"You'll be all the stronger for not giving up, anyway."

"That's the only thing that keeps me at it. I'm so busy I don't even
have time to be homesick."

"Well, that's one good thing."

"Perhaps it is, but if I flunk out at the mid-year's--"

"You won't if you only keep it up and keep at it."

"I'd feel better if I thought I wouldn't."

"You'll be all right," said Foster soothingly, for he understood his
friend so well that he knew he was in one of his periods of mental
reaction, and that what he needed was encouragement more than anything
else.

"And just think of it," continued Will gloomily, "you're about the only
one of the fellows I ever see nowadays. I don't believe I've seen Hawley
in three weeks, that is to have a word with him."

"Who has?"

"I don't know. All the fellows, I suppose."

"Not much! Hawley is working like a Trojan on the football team. You
know that as well as I do."

"I suppose that's so. Still I'd like to see the fellow once in a while."

"He's a good man all right and I've a notion that he's saved Peter John
from more than one scrape because he roomed with him."

"I haven't seen Peter John either for more than a week."

"We ought to look him up and keep an eye on him."

"'Keep an eye on him'? You want to keep both eyes and your hands and
your feet too, for the matter of that. He certainly is the freshest
specimen I ever saw, and the worst of it all is that he doesn't seem to
know that he lacks anything. He's just as confident when he marches up
to Wagner and gives him some points in running the track team as he is
when he's telling you and me how to work up our Greek. And the fellow
has flunked in Greek every time he's been called up for the past ten
days."

"Yes, I know it. That's why I said we ought to look out for him."

"He's got to learn how to look out for himself."

"He needs a tutor, though, Will--"

"Same as I do in my Greek? That's not nice of you, Foster. It's bad
enough to have to work up the stuff without having it rubbed in. And
yet," said Will quietly, "I suppose I am in the same box with Peter
John. He doesn't know some things and I don't know others."

"No one has everything," said Foster quickly.

"Startling fact! But we fellows who live in glass houses mustn't throw
stones I 'fawncy,' as my learned instructor would put it. There I am
again, finding fault even with Splinter when I ought to be boning on
this Greek to make up for my own lacks. Here I go!" And Will resolutely
turned to the books which were lying open on his desk.

The silence that reigned in the room was broken in a few minutes when
Hawley opened the door and entered. His coming was greeted
enthusiastically, and when he had accepted the invitation to be seated,
he said quickly, "I can't stay, fellows."

"You never can nowadays, Hawley. Since you've been on the team you've
shaken all your old friends."

"You'd shake too, if you had the captain over you that we have."

"Is he hard?"

"Hard? He beats every coach we've got. He goes into the game as if there
wasn't anything else to think of."

"It counts though," responded Will emphatically. "We haven't lost but
two games so far this season, and they were with ---- and ----. Of
course we couldn't expect to win those."

"Oh, we've done fairly well. But the hardest rub is coming next
Saturday. That's when we're going down to the city to have our game with
Alden. There'll be a big crowd out, and the Alden alumni are mighty
strong around town there too, and they'll be out in bunches. We've got
to keep up our end, and that's why I've come over to see you fellows. I
want you both to go next Saturday."

"Sure!" shouted Will, leaping to his feet. "We'll be on hand. You rest
your soul easy about that."

"How many are going, Hawley?" inquired Foster quietly.

"So far, about half the college have agreed to go. We'd like to get
another hundred to go along. It will make a big difference to the team.
Last year there were six thousand people on the grounds, and it rained
hard too, all the time. This year, if we have a good day, there'll be
ten thousand on hand anyway."

"How are the fellows going down?" said Foster.

"Chartered a special train."

"What's the fare?"

"About six dollars for the round trip."

"Come back the same day?"

"Can if you want to, the train is coming back that night after the game.
But a good many will stay over till Monday."

"When do you have to know?"

"You ought to give in your names by to-morrow night. Peter John is going
along. I think he'll be a good mascot, don't you?" laughed Hawley.

"I'm sorry Peter John is going," said Foster thoughtfully.

"Sorry!" exclaimed Hawley aghast. "Why, man alive, he'll have the time
of his life."

"That's what I'm afraid of, and besides he ought not to spend the
money."

"I don't know anything about that," said Hawley quickly. "But he may
make enough on the game to pay all his expenses."

"Has he staked money on the game?" said Will.

"You'll have to ask him," retorted Hawley somewhat sharply. "We can
count on you two fellows then, can we?"

"That's what you can!" replied Will heartily.

"I'll think about it and let you know in the morning," said Foster. And
Hawley at once departed from the room.

"What do you suppose it means that Peter John is going?" was Foster's
first question after their visitor had departed.

"I don't know, but I don't like the look of it," responded Will.

"Neither do I. Can we do anything to stop it?"

"No, I'm afraid not. Peter John is getting beyond us."

Foster shook his head thoughtfully but made no response, and the work
was resumed. For an hour each boy labored at his desk, and then Foster
was the first to break in upon the silence.

"Will," he said, "I think I'll go with you on that trip with the team."

"I don't think I'll go," said Will quietly.

"Not go? Why not?" demanded Foster in astonishment.

"I've been thinking it over and I've made up my mind that it won't do
for me to break in on the regular program I've mapped out for myself.
You see Saturday is the day when I always have a double dose with my
tutor, and it won't do for me to spoil it," and Will Phelps made a wry
face as he spoke.

"But, Will," protested Foster, "you can make up the work before then and
not lose a bit."

"Yes, I've thought of that, but I don't think I'll do it. It's a bitter
dose I know, but I might as well swallow it first as last."

"Do you mean it?"

"Don't I act as if I did?"

"All right. I'll not say another word. Maybe it'll be a way out for
Peter John. I'd like to fix it for the fellow if I can."

"I don't just see--" began Will; but he stopped when he perceived that
his room-mate had risen from his seat and was about to depart from the
room.

On the following day the excitement among the students of Winthrop
increased when a mass meeting was held and various leading spirits of
the college delivered very florid and perfervid addresses in which the
student-body was urged to support the team and take advantage of the low
rates offered to accompany it and be on hand on the field to cheer it on
to victory. Shouts and cheers greeted the speakers, and when the meeting
broke up and the boys were returning to their rooms Mott and Peter John
joined Will on his way to Perry Hall.

"Have the time of your young life on Saturday, Phelps," said Mott
loudly.

"I'm not going."

"Why not? All the fellows are."

"I'd like to, but I've some work I _must_ do, and I can't break in on
it."

"You must be a 'shark' Phelps," laughed Mott. "I'd like to see the work
that would keep me away. Peter John Schenck and I intend to take it all
in, don't we, freshman?" he added, turning to his companion as he spoke.

"Ye-es, I guess so," responded that worthy who had been addressed.

"You'll have a good time," said Will. "I wish I could go too, but I
can't, and the only thing for me to do is to stand up and not whine over
it."

"You'll be sorry for it," laughed Mott, as he and Peter John turned
toward the latter's room. "All we can do will be to try to make up for
what you're going to lose."

And Will Phelps did almost feel that he was too strict in his demands
upon himself when the student-body formed in line early Saturday morning
and, preceded by a band, started down the street on the way to the
station. His room-mate had said no more to him concerning the trip, but
as Will marched by Foster's side he could feel the deep sympathy of his
friend. His heart almost misgave him. It was not too late even yet to
go, for doubtless he could borrow money of some one. Perhaps it was too
much a mere sentiment to hold himself to his work as he was doing. And
he detested the work so heartily too.

Still he held rigidly to his decision, and even when the heavily laden
train pulled out from the station and the words of the song which was
sung came back to him he did not falter, though his heart was heavy
within him.

    Gaudeamus igitur
    Juvenes dum sumus
    Gaudeamus igitur
    Juvenes dum sumus
    Post jucundam juventutem
    Post molestam senectutem
    Nos habebit humus
    Nos habebit humus.



CHAPTER XVI

TELEGRAMS


When Will Phelps returned to the college, the entire place to him seemed
to be deserted, and a stillness rested over all that was almost
oppressive. Even the few college boys who were to be seen about the
grounds all shared in the prevailing gloom and increased the sense of
loneliness in the heart of the young freshman. When he entered his room,
the sight of his room-mate's belongings was almost like that of the
possessions of the dead and Will Phelps was utterly miserable and
dejected.

Work he decided was his only cure and at once he busied himself at his
task from which he was aroused in the course of an hour or two by the
coming of the senior who was tutoring him.

"I'm mighty glad to see you," said Will impulsively. "I feel as if I was
about the only one of my kind in the world."

"You're downhearted over deciding to stay in town, to-day?" replied his
tutor pleasantly. "Oh, well, never mind. It will be a good tonic for you
and when you've passed your mid-year's in Greek, you'll never once think
of this trip with the team to-day."

"I'm afraid that's cold comfort just at the present moment. I've just
been hanging on and that's all there is to it."

"Sometimes it's the only thing a fellow can do. It may bring a lot of
other good things with it, though."

"Maybe," replied Will dubiously. "There's one thing I've learned
though, and if I ever come to know my Greek as well as I know that, I'll
pass all right."

"What's that?"

"Never to get behind. I'll keep up and not catch up. When I see what a
fool I made of myself in my 'prep' days, I wonder sometimes that I ever
got into college anyway. I never really worked any except in a part of
the last year."

"You're working now," suggested the senior.

"Yes, I have to. I don't like it though. The descent to Avernus is the
easy trip, if I remember my Virgil correctly. It's the getting back
that's hard."

"Do you know, I never just believed that."

"You didn't? Why not? Why, you can see it every day! It's just as easy
as sliding down hill. It's dragging the sled back up the hill that makes
the trouble."

"That isn't quite a fair illustration. If I'm not mistaken, it seems to
me that somewhere, sometime, some one said that 'The way of the
transgressor is hard.' He didn't seem to agree with Virgil's statement
somehow, did he?"

"But that means it's hard afterward."

"That isn't what it says. I think it means just what it says too."

"I don't see."

"Well, to me it's like this. In every fellow there's a good side and a
bad side. Sort of a Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in every one of us. I
heard the other day in our laboratory of a man who had taken and grafted
one part of the body of an insect on the body of another. He tried it
both on the chrysalis and on an insect too. I understood that he took
the pupa of a spider and by very careful work grafted upon it the pupa
of a fly. Think of what that monstrosity must have been when it passed
out from the chrysalis and became a full-fledged living being. One part
of it trying to get away from the other. One wanting to fly and the
other to hide. One part wanting to feed on flies and the other part in
mortal terror of all spiders."

"Was that really so?" inquired Will deeply interested.

"I didn't see it myself, but it was told over in the biological
laboratory and I don't think there was any question about it. It struck
me that it was just the way some of us seem to be built, a sort of a
spider and fly combination and not the ordinary combination either, when
the fly is usually inside of the spider and very soon a part of his
majesty. And yet when you've told all that you know, it's a sort of
monstrosity after all, and that the truth is that a fellow really _is_
his best self if he'll only give that part half a chance. That's why I
say the way of the transgressor is hard and not easy. A fellow is going
against the grain of his best side. He throws away his best chances
under protest all the while, and _he_ doesn't want to do it either. No,
Phelps, I believe if a fellow goes down hill it's like a man dragging a
balky horse. It looks easy but it isn't, and he himself is pulling
against it all the time."

"I never thought of it in that way before."

"Then on the other hand this very kind of work you're doing now is the
sort that stirs your blood. I expect that those fellows who live down in
the tropics and about all the work they have to do to feed themselves is
to pick a banana off a tree and go through the exertion of peeling it,
don't really get half the fun out of life that some of us boys had up on
the hillside farms in Vermont. Why, when we'd have to get up winter
mornings, with the weather so cold that we'd have to be all the while on
the lookout that we didn't freeze our ears or noses, and when we'd have
to shovel out the paths through three feet of snow and cut the wood and
carry water to the stock, it did seem at times to be a trifle strenuous;
but really I think the boys in Vermont get more fun out of life than the
poor chaps in the tropics do who plow their fields by just jabbing a
hole in the ground with their heel, and when they plant, all they have
to do is to just stick a slip in the ground. It's the same way here,
Phelps. This sort of thing you're doing is hard, no doubt about that;
but it's the sort of thing that really stirs up a live man, after all."

"I'm afraid I'll be all stirred up if we don't get at this work pretty
soon," laughed Will, who was nevertheless deeply impressed by the words
he had heard from the prospective valedictorian of the senior class.
"Why can't we do it all up this morning?" he inquired eagerly.

"All?"

"Oh, I mean all we were planning to do to-day. I'd like to go down to
the gym this afternoon and watch the bulletins of the game. I decided
not to go, but if I can get my work off that'll be the next best thing;
and besides it'll help to pass the time. It's going to be a long day for
me."

"All right, I'm agreeable," replied the senior cordially.

Until the hour of noon was rung out by the clock in the tower, Will
labored hard. The words of his tutor had been inspiring, but he could
not disguise from himself the fact, however, that he had little love for
the task. It was simply a determination not to be "downed," as Will
expressed it, that led him on and he was holding on doggedly,
resolutely, almost blindly, but still he was holding on. About three
o'clock in the afternoon the few students who were in town assembled at
the telegraph office where messages were to be received from the team at
intervals of ten minutes describing the progress of the game. One of the
seniors had been selected to read the dispatches and only a few minutes
had elapsed after the assembly had gathered before the senior appeared,
coming out of the telegraph office and waving aloft the yellow slip. A
cheer greeted his appearance but this was followed by a tense silence as
he read aloud:

"They're off. Great crowd. Winthrop line outweighed ten pounds to a man.
Holding like a stone wall."

"That's the way to talk it!" shouted the reader as he handed the
dispatch to the operator, and then began to sing one of the college
songs, in which he was speedily joined by the noisy group.

The song was hushed when again the operator appeared and handed another
slip to the leader. Glancing quickly at it the senior read aloud:

"Ball on Alden's twenty-five yard line. Great run by Thomas. Hawley
playing star game."

Hawley, Thomas, and the captain of the team, and then the team itself,
were cheered, and once more the group of students gave vent to their
feelings in a noisy song. It was all stimulating and interesting, and
Will Phelps was so keenly alive to all that was occurring, that for the
time even his disappointment in not being able to accompany the team was
forgotten.

A groan followed the reading of the next dispatch. "Alden's ball on a
fumble. Steadily forcing Winthrop line back by superior weight. Ball on
Winthrop's forty-yard line."

"That looks bad," said Will's tutor, who had now joined the assembly and
was standing beside Will Phelps. "We've a quick team, but I'm afraid of
Alden's weight. They've two or three men who ought not to be permitted
to play, anyway."

"Professionals?" inquired Will.

"Yes, or worse."

"Have we any on our team?"

"Hardly," laughed the senior. But Will was thinking of the conversation
he had had with Hawley when they had first entered college, and was
silent. Besides, another dispatch was about to be read and he was eager
to hear.

"Ball on Winthrop's five-yard line. Hawley injured and out of the game."

"Too much beef," muttered the reader disconsolately, and the silence in
the assembly was eloquent of feelings that could not be expressed.

Less than the regular interval had elapsed when another yellow slip was
handed to the reader, and the suspense in the crowd was almost painful.
The very silence and the glances that were given were all indicative of
the fear that now possessed every heart.

"Alden makes touchdown. No goal," read the leader.

"Six nothing! Team's no good this year, anyway!" declared one of the
students angrily. "Had no business to play Alden, anyway! Ought to have
games with teams in our class."

"Alden seemed to be in our class last year, or rather she didn't," said
the reader quietly. "Remember what the score was?"

"No. What was it?"

"Twenty-four to nothing in our favor. If they win this year it will be
only following out the regulation see-saw that's been going on for seven
years. Neither college has won its game for two successive years."

"Alden will win this time all right enough."

"Perhaps. The game isn't ended yet. You haven't learned the Winthrop
spirit yet, which is never to give up till the game is played clear
through to the end. You've got something to learn yet." The rebuked
student did not reply, but the expression upon his face betrayed the
fact that he was still unconvinced, and that he did indeed have the
first of all lessons taught at Winthrop yet to learn.

The score was unchanged at the end of the first half, and the students
scattered during the period of intermission, assured that no further
information would be received until after the second half of the game
was begun. The confidence in victory was, however, not so great when
they assembled once more, though the interest apparently was as keen as
at the beginning. For some unaccountable reason the dispatches were
delayed and a much longer interval than usual intervened before the
welcome yellow slip was handed to the announcer. Murmurs of
disappointment were heard on every side, and it became more evident with
every passing moment that hope had mostly been lost. At last, however,
the welcome word was received, and even Will Phelps was so eager to hear
that he crowded forward into the front ranks of the assembly.

"Alden scores touchdown and goal. Winthrop fighting desperately, but
outweighed and outplayed since Hawley taken out."

"It's all over but the shouting," said the sophomore whose gloomy views
had been so sharply rebuked by the senior. "There isn't any use in
hanging around here. Come on, fellows! Let's go where there's something
a little more cheerful."

He made as if to depart from the crowd, but as no one followed him, he
apparently abandoned his purpose and remained with his fellows. Only two
more dispatches were read, the second of which announced the end of the
game with the score still standing in favor of Alden thirteen to
nothing.

"Rotten!" exclaimed the sophomore angrily. "Just what we might--" He
stopped abruptly as the senior advanced to a place where he could be
seen by all and began to harangue the assembly.

"Now, fellows," he began, "the best test of our spirit is that we can
stand up and take this in the right way. Of course, we wanted the game,
and some of us hoped and expected we would have it too. But the other
team, and doubtless the better one, has won. Next year we'll be ready
for them again, or rather you will, for I sha'n't be here, and the time
to begin to win then is right here and now. But I want to put in a good
word for our team. I haven't a doubt that they did their level best, and
if we could see them now, we'd be almost as proud of them as if they had
won. I know every man put in his best work. And what I propose is that
we go down to the station to-night and meet them with as hearty a cheer
as if they had won the game, for we know they did their best to uphold
the honor of old Winthrop to a man!"

A cheer greeted the senior's words, and at ten o'clock that evening all
the students who were in town assembled at the little station to greet
the returning members of the team. But Will Phelps, when the train came
to a standstill and the boys leaped out upon the platform, speedily
forgot all about the game in the sight which greeted his eyes.



CHAPTER XVII

PETER JOHN'S DOWNFALL


In the midst of the cheering and shouting that greeted the return of the
team and its supporters, Will Phelps attained a glimpse of the sturdy
heroes themselves who had fought the battle of the gridiron. Some of
them were somewhat battered and he could see that Hawley carried his arm
in a sling. His classmate's face was pale, but as he was surrounded by a
crowd of students, Will found it was impossible to make his way to him
and soon gave up the attempt. He was standing somewhat back from the
train eagerly watching all that was going on about him, but only in a
half-hearted way joining in the excitement, for the defeat of the team
and his own disappointment in not being able to make the trip had
chilled his enthusiasm.

Suddenly he caught sight of Foster as he stepped down upon the platform
and instantly Will began to push his way forward to greet him. As Foster
stepped down he turned back as if to assist some one, and Will perceived
that it was Peter John Schenck who was being assisted. But his actions
were strange and his general appearance was woebegone in the extreme.

"What's the matter with Peter John? Sick?" inquired Will as he pressed
forward.

"Sick? Sick nothing!" retorted Foster in a low voice. "Can't you see
what ails him? The fool!"

The maudlin expression on Peter John's face, his wabbling steps, the
silly smile with which he greeted Will at once disclosed what his
condition was and with a feeling of disgust Will turned away.

"Hold on, Will," called Peter John tremulously, beginning to cry as he
spoke, "don't go backsh on a fellow now. I los' all my money. Seven
dollar I put up on the team an' they jis' sold out," and Peter John's
tears increased and he threatened to fall on Foster's shoulder.

Will had turned back sharply at the words, his disgust and anger so
plainly stamped upon his face that even Peter John was moved by it and
began to sob audibly. "Sold out, Will! Seven dollar all gone! Too bad!
Too bad!"

"Get a taxi, Will," said Foster in a low voice. "If we can get the
fellow up to his room without attracting too much attention we may be
able to put him in bed."

As Will turned away, he was rejoiced to notice that his classmate's
condition had apparently not attracted the attention of the crowd, which
was too much occupied in the excitement of greeting the team to be
mindful of other matters. Disgust and anger were so mingled in Will's
feelings that he was hardly aware of what he was doing, but at last he
succeeded in getting a taxi, and bidding the driver hold it near the end
of the platform, he hastened back to the assistance of Foster.

As he returned he noticed that Mott was now with Peter John, and only
one glance was required to show that he was in a condition similar to
that of Peter John, though not quite so helpless.

"Glad t' see you, freshman," stammered Mott as Will approached. "Great
sport, that fellow," and he pointed stupidly at Peter John as he spoke.
"Put up his monish like li'le man. No squeal from him, no, not a squeal.
No, goo' man. Goo' man, freshman."

"Shall we take him too?" inquired Will of Foster.

"Yes, if there's room."

"I think there will be."

"He can make his way all right, I think, but you'll have to help me with
Peter John. Get hold of his other arm. That's right," he added as Will
grasped his maudlin classmate by the left arm, while Foster supported
him by the right.

"Come on, Mott, if you want to ride up," said Will sharply to the
sophomore.

"That ish good o' you, freshman," drawled Mott. "Broke, dead broke! Do
ash much for you some day. You get broke some daysh, I s'pose."

"Shut up, Mott," said Foster savagely.

"A'-a' right. Just's you say, not's I care."

A few in the assemblage noted the condition of the boys and laughed
thoughtlessly, but neither Will nor his room-mate was in a frame of mind
to respond. Disgusted, angry, mortified beyond expression, they
nevertheless assisted the boys to the seats in the taxi which Will had
secured, and quickly doing as he was bidden, the driver started rapidly
up the street. Peter John had fallen heavily against Will's shoulder and
was instantly asleep, but Mott was not to be so easily disposed of.
Peering out from the window at the crowds that were moving up the street
and by which the taxi was passing, he emitted three or four wild whoops
and then began to sing:

    "We're coming, we're coming, our brave little band,
    On the right side of temperance we always do stand;
    We don't use tobacco, for this we do think,
    That those who do use it most always do drink."

"Mott, if you don't keep quiet I'll throw you out," exclaimed Will
mortified as he perceived that the passing crowd was turning about to
discover what the noisy commotion meant.

"A'-a' right," responded Mott in a shout that could have been heard far
away. "I'll be as sthill as an intensified hippopotamus! Not a sound of
my voice shall awake the echoes of these purple hills. I'll not be the
one to arouse the slumbers of this peaceful vale."

"Driver," interrupted Will sharply, "stop your cab."

"No, no, Will, you'll only make a bad matter worse. Let's keep on and do
the best we can. It'll only call attention to ourselves," said Foster
hastily.

"Thatsh sho," assented Mott noisily, swaying in his seat as he spoke.
"Keep on, driver. Go straight up to prexy's house; I've got something
p'ticular to shay t' him. Shame, way the team sold out t'-day! Disgrace
to old Winthrop! Have a good mind to leave the college myself an' go to
Alden; they're men there! They know how to stan' up an' take their
med'cine. Great place, Alden! Guess they'll be shorry here when they
shee me with a great big A on my sweater!"

"Mott, keep still," exclaimed Foster.

"Keep still yerself, freshman. Don't talk t' me."

There was nothing to be done except to endure it all in silence or put
the noisy student out of the taxi. Poor Will felt that the people they
were passing looked upon all four of the occupants of the cab as if they
were all in the same disgraceful condition. His eyes blazed and his
cheeks were crimson. To him it seemed as if the cab was scarcely moving
on its way to Leland Hall. The way was interminable, the suffering
almost too great to be endured.

At last, however, the driver stopped before the dormitory where Mott had
his room and Foster said, "Will, I'll look after this fellow if you'll
attend to Peter John."

"Nobody--no freshman in p'ticular--ish going to help me!" exclaimed Mott
noisily. "I can walk a chalk line, I can. Keep your eyes on me and
you'll see how it's done."

"All right. Get out, then," said Foster hastily.

Mott lurched out of the cab, and the driver, at Foster's word, at once
started on and neither of the boys glanced behind to see how it fared
with the intoxicated sophomore. They were eager now to dispose of their
classmate, and as soon as the taxi halted in front of Leland Hall they
tried to arouse the slumbering freshman. At last, by dint of their
united efforts, they succeeded in lifting him to the ground, and then
they somehow got him up the stairway and soon had him in his bed. When
their labors were ended Will exclaimed, "It must be midnight. Surely the
people couldn't see who we were except when the cab passed the street
lights, but I'm afraid some of them knew then."

"That isn't so bad. I don't care half so much about their seeing as I do
about something else."

"What's that?"

"What they saw. Poor fool!" he added bitterly as he turned and glanced
at the bed whereon Peter John was lying and noisily sleeping. "I did my
best to hold him back, but he would go on with Mott."

"Do you think he lost his money too?"

"Haven't a doubt of it."

"And he didn't have very much to lose."

"It was all he had. It would have been the same if it had been seven
thousand instead of just plain seven. He was so set up by the attentions
of Mott that he was an easy mark. I never saw anything like it."

"Well, all I can say is that I hope I sha'n't again, but probably I
shall if he stays in college," said Will bitterly.

"It's in him, that's about all one can say," said Foster. "If it hadn't
been here it would have been somewhere else. And yet they say that a
college is a dangerous place for a young fellow to be in."

"I don't believe it."

"No more do I. There are all kinds here the same as there are pretty
much everywhere, and all there is of it is that a fellow has a little
more freedom to follow out just what he wants to do."

"Come on," suggested Will, starting toward the door. "We can't do
anything more for Peter John. He'll probably be around to see us
to-morrow."

As the boys approached the doorway they met Hawley and at his urgent
request turned back into the room with him. The big freshman glanced at
his sleeping room-mate and then laughed as he said, "Too young. Ought
not to have left his mother yet." As neither of the boys replied, Hawley
continued, "He'll have to quit that or he'll queer himself in the
college. I don't know that he can do that any more successfully than he
has done already though," he added.

Will was irritated that Hawley should take the matter in such a light
way and said half-angrily, "Do you suppose he'll be hauled up before the
faculty?"

"Not unless they hear of it," laughed Hawley, "and I don't believe they
will."

"Tell us about the game," interrupted Foster.

"My story is short and not very sweet," retorted Hawley grimly, glancing
at his arm as he spoke.

"How did that happen?"

"Nobody knows. It's done and that's all there is to it. I'm out of the
game for the rest of this season."

"That's too bad. Did Alden really have such a tremendous team?"

"Look at the score. You know what that was, don't you?"

"Yes, I heard. Come on, Will. We'd better be in bed. We'll get Hawley to
tell us all about the game some other time. Come on."

The two freshmen at once departed, but when they were in their own room
it was not the lost game which was uppermost in their minds and
conversation, but the fall of Peter John. And when at last they sought
their beds it was with the conviction that Peter John himself would seek
them out within a day or two and try to explain how it was that his
downfall had occurred. This, they thought, would give them the
opportunity they desired, and if the faculty did not discover the matter
and take action of their own then they might be able to say or do
something to recall Peter John to himself.

On the following day, however, their classmate did not appear, and in
the days that followed he did not once come to their room. Mott they had
seen, but he had only laughed lightly when he met them and made no
reference to the ride he had taken in their taxi.

"I don't believe Peter John knows that we know anything about what
happened on his trip," said Foster thoughtfully one day.

"What makes him keep away from us all the time, then?"

"That's so. Probably his conscience isn't in the best of condition. You
don't suppose he's waiting for us to make the first move, do you?"

"I don't know."

"I hate to leave the fellow to himself," said Foster. "He'll go to the
dogs as sure as you're born if he is."

"If he isn't there already."

"Well, if he's there we must help to get him out."

"You're the one to do it, Foster. You aren't working up your Greek."

Will had been working with even greater intensity than before and was
beginning to see the results of his labors. With his disposition there
was no comparative degree. Everything was at one extreme or the other
and now he was giving himself but little rest and even Peter John's
disgrace was not so keenly felt by him as at the time when it had
occurred.

"I think I'll have to do something," assented Foster, "or at least try
to."

But on the following day an excitement broke out among the students at
Winthrop that speedily and completely banished from the minds of Will
and Foster even their well-intended efforts to aid their weak and
misguided classmate.



CHAPTER XVIII

AN ALARMING REPORT


The excitement first came to Will Phelps when one night he was returning
to his room from his dinner in the fraternity house. The house, together
with four or five other similar houses, was situated in the same street
with the dormitory, but was distant a walk of seven or eight minutes,
and there was usually a crowd of the college boys to be seen on the
village street three times a day when they passed to or from their
boarding places.

On this particular evening Will chanced to be alone, and as he went on
he perceived Mott approaching. He had had but little to say to the
fellow since the escapade, and now as he recognized the sophomore his
feeling of anger or disgust arose once more, and he was inclined to pass
him with only a light nod of recognition.

But Mott was not to be so lightly turned aside or ignored, and as he saw
Will he stopped, and his manner at once betrayed the excitement under
which he was laboring.

"Have you heard the news, Phelps?" he demanded.

"I haven't heard anything," replied Will coldly.

"You haven't? Well, you ought to. It's all over college now."

"What's all over college?"

"Why, the report of the typhoid."

"What?" demanded Will, instantly aroused.

"I mean what I say. And there are all sorts of reports about what's to
be done. Some say the faculty have decided to shut up shop for a few
weeks, and some say they've sent for experts, and I don't know what
all."

"Who are the fellows that are down with it?"

"Schenck--"

"Peter John?" demanded Will sharply.

"Yes, and there are seven others. He's the only freshman; there are two
sophs, two juniors, and one senior. Wagner is the senior."

"Where are they?"

"They're all in the infirmary, and the whole shop has been quarantined."

"When was it found out?"

"Only to-day, this afternoon, I think. You see all eight have been under
the weather for a while, and the doctor here thought it was first one
thing that ailed them and then another. Last night or this morning they
had a consultation, and decided that every one of the eight had typhoid
fever. It's a great go, isn't it?"

"And you say Peter John is one?"

"Sure."

"Is he in the infirmary?"

"Yes, every one of them is there."

"Is he very much sick?"

"Can't tell yet, but he's sick enough."

"Can anybody see him?" inquired Will thoughtfully.

"No. There isn't any one allowed in the building except the nurses,
doctors, and the families of the fellows, that is, when they come. I
understand that word has been sent to all the families, and nurses have
already been engaged, and that some of them are on the ground now."

"It's terrible!" said Will with a shudder.

"I know what I'm going to do," said Mott glibly.

"What's that?"

"I'm going home. Of course, the governor won't believe me at first when
I tell him why I've returned to the ancestral abode, but you may rest
easy when he sees it in the papers, then he'll believe it all right
enough. Fine to have your daddy believe a lying newspaper before he
takes the word of his own offspring, isn't it?"

"May not be all his fault."

"Yes, it is. I'd have been as decent a fellow as you or any fellow in
college if I'd been treated halfway decently. But I wasn't."

Will had his own ideas as to that, but he did not express them, for the
full sense of the calamity of the college was now strongly upon him.
Even the shadows of the great hills seemed to him to be more sombre than
usual, and in whichever direction he looked there was an outer gloom
corresponding to the one within. In the first shock of the report a
nameless fear swept over him, and already he was positive that in his
own case he could discover certain symptoms that were the forerunners of
the dreaded disease. He hastily bade Mott good-night and ran all the way
back to his room.

Foster was already there, and at once he exclaimed:

"Foster, have you heard about it?"

"The typhoid?"

"Yes. They say Peter John and Wagner and six others are down with it."

"It's true."

"What's going to be done?"

"You mean what the college is going to do or what we're to do?"

"Yes, that's it. Both."

"I've telephoned home," said Foster quietly.

"You have?"

"Yes. I have just come back from the office."

"Did you telephone my father?"

"No. I telephoned my father and told him to ring up your house."

"And did he?"

"Of course he did."

"Did you hear anything--I mean--"

"Now, look here, Will," said Foster quietly. "Don't get rattled. I know
it's bad, but there isn't any use in losing your head over it. I've been
down to see the dean and have talked it over with him."

"What did he have to say?"

"He said the report was true and the eight fellows were all down with
the typhoid, and that every one of them had been taken to the
infirmary."

"What else?" demanded Will, his excitement increasing in spite of his
effort to be calm.

"That's what I'm trying to tell you, if you'll give me half a chance. He
said the president had sent for the best experts in the country, and
that everything that it was possible to do would be done. He said too,
that they would deal absolutely squarely with the boys, and if it was
discovered that there was the least danger of it spreading they would
tell us, and if necessary they'd close for a while till the whole thing
had been ferreted out."

"That's square."

"Of course it is."

"What are you going to do, Foster?"

"Nothing, that is, for a day or two anyway. I've told my father, and if
he thinks I'd better come home he'll say so."

"But he may not know."

"He will in a day or two."

"What are you going to do now?"

"Study my Greek."

"I ought to, but I'm going out for a little while. I've got to cool off
a bit before I can settle down to work."

"Don't be gone long. You'll only see the fellows and get stirred up all
the more. I'd drop it and go to 'boning.' It's the best cure."

"It is for a fellow like you, Foster. I can't do it yet. I've got to get
outdoors till I can get my breath again."

Seizing his cap Will went out into the night. He passed by Leland Hall
and glancing up discovered that there was a light in Peter John's room.
Instantly he entered the building and bounding up the stairway knocked
on his classmate's door, and in response to the invitation entered and
found Hawley within and alone.

"Hello, Hawley. What's the news about Peter John?"

"Oh, he's got it. Temperature a hundred and four and a half and all that
sort of thing."

"Any idea where or how he got it?"

"Not the least."

"Have you seen him?"

"Since he went to the infirmary? Yes, once; but I sha'n't see him again
till he comes out well or--"

"Is he the worst?"

"No. Wagner seems to be the hardest hit, but they told me you couldn't
tell very much about it yet. Have to wait a few days anyway."

"Mott says he is going home."

"Yes, there probably will be a lot of the fellows leaving by to-morrow."

"Are you afraid?"

"Some."

"Going to leave?"

"I'm going to wait a day or two and see what turns up before I decide
just what I shall do."

On his way back to his room Will fell in with several others of his
classmates, and the exciting conversation was repeated in each case
until at last when he joined Foster, whom he found still poring over his
lesson in Greek for the morrow, his feelings were so overwrought that he
was almost beside himself.

"Everybody's going to leave, Foster," he declared.

"Not quite, for I'm not going yet myself."

"But--" Will ceased abruptly as he perceived that a messenger boy was
standing in front of his door. Quickly seizing the envelope he perceived
that it was directed to himself and instantly tearing it open he read:

"If new cases develop within three days come home. Otherwise remain.
Wire me daily." The message was signed by his father.

"That settles it!" exclaimed Will, "I'm going to bed. Splinter will be
easy on us to-morrow anyway."

Foster smiled as he shook his head and continued his own work, but his
room-mate was not aware of either action.

In chapel on the following morning the president of the college
reiterated the statement which the dean already had made to Foster, and
after trying to show the students that a panic was even more to be
feared than the fever, and promising to keep them fully and frankly
informed as to the exact status of affairs, he dismissed them to their
recitations, which it was understood were to be continued without
interruption, at least for the present.

In his Greek that day Will failed miserably and completely, and his
anger at Splinter was intensified when the professor near the close of
the recitation said:

"It is quite needless, I fawncy, for me to emphasize, young gentlemen,
the necessity there is at the present time for you all to adopt the
utmost care in all matters pertaining especially to your health. I refer
to you individually as well as collectively. My advice to you is to use
only mineral water--I refer obviously to the water you drink--and it
might be well to avoid the undue use of milk--"

A shout of laughter interrupted the professor which caused his face to
flush with anger and he arose abruptly from his seat, the signal that
the class was dismissed.

As Will, who was among the last to pass out, came near the desk the
professor said to him, "Mr. Phelps, I should be pleased if you would
remain for a brief time. I should like exceedingly to have a word with
you."

Accordingly, Will stood by the desk till all the class had passed out,
and then the professor said, "Ah, Mr. Phelps, would you kindly inform me
what your opinion is as to the cause of the students receiving my
remarks a few minutes ago with such an outburst of laughter? I assure
you I had not the least intention to say anything that should even
appear to be liable to excite the mirth of the young gentlemen. I do not
know that I was ever more serious in my entire life."

"I think, professor, it was your reference to milk."

"Why should I not refer to it? In times of fear, when typhoid fever
is--is--ah, at least somewhat feared, it is wise to be extremely
cautious, and I have it on the authority of men of the highest
reputation that milk is a medium through which the germs of the disease
transmit themselves most readily."

"Yes, but you know, professor, the college is supposed to think the
freshmen feed on milk. That's supposed to be their diet."

"Ah, yes," replied the professor, smiling in a manner that proclaimed
his entire inability to perceive the point. "That must be the point of
the joke. Ah, yes. I see it distinctly now. It is very good! It is very
good, indeed!"

"Professor, can you tell me my marks? How am I doing in my Greek
lately?"

"I am not supposed to reply to such a question from any of the young
gentlemen, but I fawncy in a general way I may be able to respond to
your query. Ah, yes," he added, glancing at the page in the little book
before him wherein Will's record was contained, "there is an
improvement, not great, it is true, but still an improvement; and if
your work continues it will bring you almost up to the mark required."

"Almost?" exclaimed Will aghast. "You don't mean to say, do you, Mr.
Splinter--"

"Mr. _who?_" demanded the professor, instantly rising and his face
flushing again with anger.



CHAPTER XIX

A RARE INTERVIEW


Instantly Will Phelps was overwhelmed with confusion. His face flushed
crimson and his knees shook under the excitement which quickly seized
upon him. The opprobrious title by which the Greek professor was known
among the students and by which he was commonly spoken of by them had
slipped from his tongue almost unconsciously. He stood staring stupidly
into the professor's face, while visions of expulsion and future
difficulty flashed into his troubled mind.

"I beg your pardon, professor," he managed to ejaculate at last. "I did
not mean to say that. The word slipped out before I knew it. I am very
sorry for it, for I certainly did not intend to be disrespectful in any
way."

"You insulted me!" exclaimed the professor in a rage that under other
circumstances would have seemed almost ludicrous to Will. It was like
the anger of an infuriated canary bird or of some little child.

"Then I want to apologize," said Will quietly. "As I said, I certainly
did not intend to do anything of the kind."

"But you did," persisted the outraged teacher. "You most assuredly did."

"Can't you believe me when I say it was not intentional?"

"That does not excuse it, but I fawncy the tendency among the young
gentlemen of the college is to bestow appellations upon the various
members of the faculty that are not warranted."

"I have heard some of them spoken of in that way, but I don't think the
fellows meant either to be disrespectful or unkind," said Will eagerly.

"No, I fawncy it may in part be due to the thoughtlessness of youth and
I would not be unduly harsh with you after your ample apology. Then you
have been accustomed to hear me myself referred to as Splinter, have
you?"

"I--yes--that is--" stammered Will.

"Precisely. Now what in your opinion is the basis upon which the
students have added such a derisive epithet to my name?"

Will was silent, though in spite of his efforts the expression of his
face betrayed somewhat the feeling of blank amazement which possessed
him.

"I fawncy I can trace its derivation," said the professor simply.
"Doubtless when I first became a member of the faculty the appellation,
or, let me see, is it an appellation or a cognomen, as you commonly have
heard it?"

"Yes, sir," Will managed to respond.

"It is, then, as I fawncied, and doubtless was bestowed upon me as
indicative of my lack of avoirdupois. And it was not entirely unnatural
that they should do so, for at the time when I came to Winthrop I was
very slight, very slight indeed. The appellation, or cognomen, was
without doubt given in recognition of that fact, a custom not unknown,
among the classical nations and one prevalent among the Hebrews and even
among the Indians of America. The history of names would provide an
exceedingly interesting field of study for you, Mr. Phelps."

Will bowed but did not speak, for he was afraid to interrupt or to
divert the childlike man from the channel in which his thoughts appeared
to be running.

"Such a name once given," resumed the professor, "would doubtless cling
to one long after physical changes had been made that would no longer
afford an accurate basis for the nomenclature. But I was very slight,
very slight indeed, Mr. Phelps, when I first came here some seventeen
years ago, or, to be exact, seventeen years and four months, that is,
four months lacking a few days. Why, I believe I weighed only one
hundred and seventeen pounds at the time."

Will strove to be duly impressed by the fact, but as he looked at the
man who was somewhat above six feet in height and whose body did not
give many tokens of having increased materially in breadth or thickness
since the time to which the professor referred, he found it extremely
difficult to repress the smile that rose to his lips.

"Yes," resumed the professor quickly, "I have increased in weight since
that time but the appellation still clings and doubtless will as long as
I remain in Winthrop."

"How much do you weigh now, professor?" The moment Will asked the
question he regretted it, but the temptation was too strong to be
resisted.

"I cannot say exactly," said the professor in some confusion, "but my
weight has very materially increased. If I recall aright, the last time
when I was weighed I had added two and three-quarters pounds. It is
true it was in the winter and doubtless heavier clothing may have
slightly modified the result. But still I can safely affirm that I am
much heavier than I was at the time when I joined the Winthrop faculty."

"Do you find that you feel better now that you are more corpulent? I
have heard it said that addition to the body is subtraction from the
brain. Do you think that is so, professor?"

"It is true, most assuredly. All classifical literature confirms the
statement you have just made."

"Then you don't believe in athletics, do you, professor?"

"Assuredly not. Most assuredly not."

"But didn't the ancient Greeks have their racecourses? Didn't they
believe in running and jumping and boxing and I don't know what all?"

"That is true, but the times were very different then. They had not in
the least lost the sense of the poetry of life. They were not so crassly
or grossly materialistic as the present age undoubtedly is. Every grove
was peopled with divinities, every mountain was the abode of the unseen.
Why, Mr. Phelps, the Greeks were the only people that ever lived that
looked upon mountains as anything but blots or defects."

"Is that so?" inquired Will in surprise.

"It certainly is. It is true that since the days of the poet Gray there
has been a tendency among English-speaking people to affect a veneration
for the mountains, but it is, I fawncy, only a faint echo of the old
Greek conception and is a purely superficial product of an extremely
superficial age and people."

"Didn't the Hebrews have a feeling like the one you tell of? Isn't
there a psalm that begins 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from
whence cometh my help'? Didn't they describe the high hills that were
round about Jerusalem?"

"Ah, yes. That is true," assented the professor in some confusion. "I
had not thought of it in that light precisely. You have given me a new
insight to-day, Mr. Phelps. I shall at once go over my data again. I am
grateful to you for acceding to my request to remain to-day."

"But, professor," persisted Will, "what about my work in Greek? I've had
a tutor ever since you told me to get one and I've been working hard
too. Today I didn't do very well, but I was so excited about the fever,
for Peter John--I mean Schenck--is one of the fellows to come down with
it, you know, and we've been telephoning and telegraphing home--"

"Ah, yes. But you heard my remarks to-day concerning the necessity of
increased work in Greek as a preventive, did you not?"

"I did. But, professor, I'm willing to work. If I'm to be shut out of
the exam--I mean the examination--as you seem to think I will, anyway, I
don't see any use in my trying any more."

The expression on the professor's face became instantly harder as he
said, "I fawncy the effort to curry favor with the various members of
the faculty is not very popular with the student body."

"Do you think I'm trying to 'boot-lick'?" demanded Will quickly.

"I look upon that term as somewhat objectionable, but I fawncy in the
vernacular of college life it is one that is quite expressive."

"I'm not trying to boot-lick you or any other professor!" retorted Will,
now feeling angry and insulted as well. "I didn't stay here to-day
because I wanted to. You yourself asked me to do it. And I asked you a
perfectly fair question. I knew I hadn't been doing very well, but after
I saw you I've been trying, honestly trying, to do better. And all the
encouragement you give me is to say that if I work harder I may almost
come up to the passing mark."

"Pardon me, Mr. Phelps, but you are the one to change your record, not
I. All I do is merely to jot down what you have been doing. I do not do
the work--I merely record it."

For a moment Will Phelps was almost speechless with anger. He felt
outraged and insulted in every fibre of his being. He hastily bade the
professor good-morning, and, seizing his cap, rushed for his room, a
great fear being upon him that unless he instantly departed he would say
or do something for which he would have a lifelong regret.

As he burst into his room he found Foster already there, and, flinging
his books savagely across the room, Will seated himself in his
easy-chair and glared at his room-mate.

"Why? What's wrong? What's happened, Will?" demanded Foster, in
astonishment.

"Oh, I've just had another delightful interview with old Splinter. He's
the worst I ever struck yet!"

"Did you strike him, Will?" inquired Foster, a smile of amusement
appearing on his face.

"No, but I'd like to! His soul would get lost in the eye of a needle!
He's the smallest specimen I have ever run up against. He may know
Greek, but he doesn't know anything else. I never in all my life saw--"

"Tell me about it, Will," interrupted Foster.

Thus bidden, Will related the story of his interview with his professor
of Greek. When Foster laughed as he told of Splinter's description of
his marvelously increased corpulence, Will did not join, for the
ludicrous side now was all swallowed up in his anger. And when his
room-mate scowled as he heard of the professor's insinuation that the
young freshman was trying to "boot-lick," Will's anger broke forth
afresh. "What's the use in my trying, I'd like to know?" he demanded.
"I've never tried harder in my life than I have for the last three or
four weeks. And what does old Splinter have to say about it? 'Oh, I'm
doing better and if I keep on I'll _almost_ come up to the passing
mark!' I tell you, it isn't fair! It isn't right! He's just determined
to put me out!"

"Perhaps he thinks he's bound to stick to the marks he's given you
before."

"Yes, that's it. But think of it, Foster. Here I am doing better and
putting in my best work. And the old fellow acknowledges it too, for he
says so himself. But what does it all amount to? He doesn't give me any
credit for what I've been doing lately. No, he's just tied up to the
marks I got at the beginning of the year. What fairness is there in
that, I'd like to know? That's the way they do in State's prison, but I
didn't suppose old Winthrop was built exactly on that plan. I thought
the great point here was to wake a man up and inspire him to try to do
better and all that sort of thing. And I _am_ doing better, and I know
it, and so does he, but his soul is so dried up and withered that he
can't think of anything but ancient history. He hasn't the least idea of
what's going on here to-day. I'll bet the old fellow, when he has the
toothache, groans in dactylic hexameters and calls for his breakfast in
the Ionic dialect. Bah! What's all the stuff good for anyway? I haven't
any reason for trying any more."

"Yes, you have."

"I have? Well, what is it?"

"Your father, if nothing else."

Will instantly became silent, for Foster's words only seemed to call up
before him the vision of his father's face. He was the best man that had
ever lived, Will declared to himself, and his conviction had been
strengthened as he had seen the relations between many of his college
mates and their fathers. How he would be grieved over it all. And yet
Will knew that never an unkind word would be spoken. It was almost more
than he could bear, he thought, and his eyes were glistening when he
arose from his seat to respond to a knock on the door. As he opened it
he saw standing before him his own father and the father of Peter John
Schenck, and with a yell of delight he grasped his father's outstretched
hand and pulled him hastily into the room.



CHAPTER XX

A CRISIS


In response to Will's eager questions, Mr. Phelps explained that he had
come to Winthrop to satisfy himself as to the exact status as to the
fever that had broken out. Before he had come up to Will's room he had
consulted the college officials and now felt that he was in a position
to decide calmly what must be done by his son.

"And what's the verdict?" inquired Will.

"It will not be necessary for you to return. I think everything is being
done that ought to be and though we shall be anxious, still I am not
unduly alarmed. I have confidence in you, Will, and I am sure you will
not be careless in a time like this. The president informs me that there
have not been any new cases since the first outbreak, and he is of the
opinion that all these cases were due to one cause and that was found
outside of the village."

"Then you don't want me to go home with you?" inquired Will quizzically.

"What I might 'want' and what is best are two different matters," said
his father with a smile, "Just at present what I want and what you need
happen to be one and the same thing."

"What's that?"

"Your Greek."

Will's face clouded and then unmindful of the others who were in the
room he told his father of his recent interview with his professor of
Greek. The smile of amusement on the face of Mr. Phelps when Will began
soon gave way to an expression of deep concern. To Will, who understood
him so thoroughly, it was evident that his father was angry as well as
disappointed, and for a moment there was a feeling of exultation in his
own heart. Now something would be done, he felt confident, and the
injustice under which he was laboring and suffering would be done away.

"Your other work is all right, Will?" inquired his father after a brief
silence.

"Oh, yes! Fine! If old Splinter was only half the man that Professor
Sinclair is, there wouldn't be a bit of trouble. Why the recitation in
Latin never seems to be more than fifteen minutes long. But the
Greek--bah! The hour is like a week of Sundays!"

"Still, Will, there is only one way out of it for you."

"I suppose so," responded Will, his heart sinking as he spoke.

"Yes, it must be faced. I know it's hard, but you can't get around it,
Will, and I'm sure you don't want to run from it. As I told you, it
isn't as if your Greek professor was the only one of his kind you will
meet in life, for his name is legion and you will find him everywhere.
The only thing for you to do is to keep on with your tutor and prove
yourself to be the master. If you do that, the experience, hard as it
is, may prove to be one of the best that could come to you."

Will was silent for a moment before he spoke, and then he said
impulsively, "Well, pop, I suppose you are right. I'll do my best."

"Of course you will," responded his father quietly, though his eyes
were shining. "It isn't so hard for you as it is for Mr. Schenck."

"Is Peter John worse?" inquired Will quickly.

"Yes."

"Isn't there something we can do?" said Will eagerly.

"No, nothing," said Mr. Schenck. "My boy is very sick, but all we can do
is to wait. He is having good care. The only comfort I have is what they
tell me about him and what he has been doing since he came to college."

Both boys looked up quickly, but neither spoke and Mr. Schenck
continued. "Yes, there's a young man I have met since I've been here who
has told me many things about my boy that comfort me now very much."

"Was it Mott?" interrupted Will.

"Yes, that was his name. You know him too, I see. He seems to be a very
fine young man. He told me that Peter was one of the leaders in his
class, and that everybody in the college knew him. He said too, that he
had won his numerals--though I don't just understand what that means."

"It means that he has the right to wear the number of his class on his
cap or sweater," said Will. "That's more than I've won." He had not the
heart to undeceive the unhappy man, though both he and Foster were aware
that Mott had been overstating the facts in his desire to comfort Peter
John's father.

"Well, I hope he'll get well," said Mr. Schenck with a heavy sigh,
"though it does seem as if such things always happened to the brightest
boys. I'm going to stay here for a few days till I know he's better
or--" The sentence was not completed and for a time there was a tense
silence in the room.

At last the men departed, Mr. Schenck to go to his son's room where he
was to sleep while he remained in Winthrop, and Mr. Phelps to the
station where he was to take the train for his home. Will accompanied
his father, but the subject that was uppermost in the mind of each was
not referred to for there are times when silence is golden.

In the days that followed, Will Phelps worked as he never had worked
before in all his brief life. His distaste for the Greek and dislike of
the professor were as strong as before, and at times it almost seemed to
him that he could no longer continue the struggle. His sole inspiration
was in the thought of his father and in his blind determination not to
be mastered.

An additional element of gloom in those days were the reports that came
from the infirmary of the condition of Peter John. All the other
patients appeared to be doing well, but the daily word from the watchers
by Peter John's bedside was that he was worse. A pall seemed to be
resting over the entire college. The noisy songs and boisterous shouts
were not heard in the dormitories nor upon the campus.

A part of the general anxiety was gone when as the days passed there
were no reports of new cases developed, but the fear of what was to be
the issue in the case of Peter John was in every heart--even with those
who had not exchanged a word with him since he had entered Winthrop.

Will Phelps found himself even wondering how it was that the "old
grads" when they returned always spoke in such enthusiastic terms of
their own college days. How they laughed and slapped one another on the
back as they recalled and recounted their exploits. It was Will's
conviction that those days must have been markedly different from those
through which he was passing, for he was finding only hard work and much
trouble, he dolefully assured himself. He was too inexperienced to
understand that one is never able to see clearly the exact condition of
present experiences. There is then no perspective, and the good and
evil, the large and small, are strangely confused. It is like the
figures in a Chinese picture wherein the background and foreground, the
little and the big, are much the same in their proportions. Only when a
man looks back and beholds the events of the bygone days in their true
perspective is he able to form a correct estimate of the relative
values. Even Will Phelps would not have believed that there might come a
day when the very struggle he was having in mastering his Greek would be
looked upon by him as not unpleasant in the larger light in which all
his college days would be viewed.

Mr. Schenck still remained in Winthrop, and his face every morning when
Will went to inquire about Peter John was a sure indication of the
report which was to be made even before a word had been spoken. Steadily
lower and lower sank the freshman, who was desperately ill, until at
last the crisis came, and with the passing of the day the issue of life
or death would be determined.

In the interval between his recitations Will ran to see the suffering
man and learn how the issue was going, and when at last the word was
received that Peter John, if no relapse occurred, was likely to recover,
he felt as if a great load had been lifted from his mind. It was his
first experience with the deep tragedy that, like a cloud, rests over
all mankind, and in the glimmer of hope that now appeared it seemed to
him that all things appeared in a new light. Even his detested Greek was
not quite so bad as it previously had been, and in the reaction that
came Will bent to his distasteful task with a renewed determination.

When several weeks had elapsed, and the time of the Christmas vacation
was near, for the first time Will was permitted to enter the room where
Peter John was sitting up in bed. It was difficult for Will to hide the
shock that came when he first saw his classmate, his face wasted till it
almost seemed as if the bones must protrude, his head shaved, and his
general weakness so apparent as to be pathetic.

Striving to conceal his real feelings and to appear bright and cheery,
Will extended his hand and said nervously: "I'm mighty glad to see you,
Peter John, and so will all the fellows be. I don't think you've taken
the best way of getting a vacation."

Peter John smiled in a way that almost brought the tears to Will's eyes,
and said, "I'm much obliged to you, Will."

"No, you're not. We're all much obliged to you for getting well. I don't
know what the track team would have done without you."

"Guess I won't bother the track team this year. That's what the doctor
says."

"Oh, well," said Will hastily, "that won't make any difference. You'll
be all right for another year and that will do just as well."

"Say, Will," said Peter after a brief pause:

"What is it?" inquired Will kindly.

"There's something I want to say to you."

"Say it, then," laughed Will.

"I'm never going to touch a drop again."

"That's all right. Of course you won't," assented Will cordially.

"And, Will--"

"Yes?"

"I'm not going to have anything charged up to you any more."

"'Anything charged up to me'? I don't know what you mean."

"I mean those cakes and pies I had charged to you down at Tommie's."
"Tommie" was the name by which the proprietor of one of the little
restaurants and bakeshops in Winthrop was familiarly called by the
college boys.

"I didn't know you had anything charged to me."

"You didn't?"

"No. I haven't had any bill for it, anyway."

"You'll get it. You'll have one," said Peter John nodding his head
decidedly. "I don't know what I ever did it for anyway. At first I
thought it was a good joke on you. M--some of the fellows said it would
be. And then somehow I kept it up."

"Never mind, Peter John. I'll fix it. It'll be all right."

"Did you tell my father?" inquired Peter John anxiously.

"No. I haven't told him anything."

"I'm glad. I lost some money on that trip with the football team, Will."

"How much?"

"Seven dollars and a half. It was all I'd got."

"Do you want--" Will started to take out his pocketbook, but stopped
abruptly, for he was not certain just how Peter John might receive his
offer. He did not see the light that came for a moment into his
classmate's eyes or the look of disappointment that quickly followed it.

"I'm never going to bet any more," remarked Peter John simply.

"Of course not."

"But my money is gone and I sha'n't be able to pay for those things I
had charged to you at Tommie's, as I fully meant to."

"Never mind that."

"I'm going to study harder too."

"Not just yet. I shouldn't bother my head about such things now, Peter
John. Wait till you are up and around before you do that."

"I'm afraid that'll be a long time."

"No. Oh no, it won't," said Will cheerily. "You'll be all right before
you know it."

Peter John shook his head and was about to reply, when Mott entered the
room and at the same time the physician also came. The latter glanced
keenly at his patient, and then said to the visitors, "That's enough
this time, boys. You'd better cut it short now and come again."

Will and Mott at once departed after bidding Peter John good-bye, and
when they were out on the sidewalk Mott began to laugh.

"What's struck you? I don't see anything so very funny," said Will
irritated by his companion's manner.

"Peter John has made a clean breast of it."

"What of it?"

"Oh, nothing much. Only when the 'devil was sick the devil a monk would
be.' You know the words probably. It strikes me as absolutely funny."

"I don't see anything to laugh about," retorted Will warmly.

"You wait and maybe you will later, Phelps. Tra, la, freshman!" and Mott
abruptly departed.

His words, however, still lingered in Will's mind, and throughout the
evening the jingling rhyme that the sophomore had repeated kept running
through his thoughts.



CHAPTER XXI

THE EXAMINATION


Vacation had come and gone. How Will Phelps did enjoy that break in his
work! He almost begrudged the swiftly passing hours while he was at
home, and as the vacation drew near its close he found himself computing
the hours and even the minutes that yet remained before he must return,
just as he had previously reckoned the time that must pass before he
could return to Sterling. It was not that he did not enjoy his college
life, for as we know he had entered heartily into its spirit, but the
work was hard and his handicap in the one subject had robbed him of the
enthusiasm which perhaps otherwise he might have had.

When the day at last arrived when he was to return he was unusually
quiet and seldom had a word to say to any one. Uppermost in his thoughts
was the expression of the principal of the school where he had prepared
for college, who had said to him: "Well, Will, with all the fun of
college there is still another side to it, and that is, that when a
fellow enters college he really is leaving home. From that time forward
he may come back for his vacations, but it is nevertheless the break
that sooner or later comes to every man." Will had thought much of the
saying, and its truthfulness was so apparent that he was unable entirely
to shake off the somewhat depressing effect it had produced upon
himself.

When the hour came and the good-byes must be said he strove desperately
to be calm, but he dared not trust himself to say much. He did not once
glance behind him as he walked away from the house to the street, though
he knew that his father and mother were standing on the piazza and were
watching him as long as his sturdy form could be seen by them.

On the train he found several of his college friends and it became
somewhat easier for him in their company to forget his own heaviness of
heart, and as he sped on toward Winthrop the numbers increased and the
noisy shouts of greeting and the enthusiasm of the students diverted him
from the feeling to which otherwise he might have yielded.

Peter John and Foster were in the number of the returning students, the
former having recovered sufficiently to warrant him in taking up a part
of his work. Wagner also and several of the other students who had been
victims of the fever were on the train when it arrived at Winthrop, and
in the warmth of their reception by their student friends there was a
tonic such as even the physicians' prescriptions had not afforded. Will
found a slight return of his depression when he first entered his room,
but when a few days had passed his life had once more settled into the
grooves of the daily routine and assumed its former round of tasks.

The mid-year examinations came within a month after the reopening of the
college, and the chagrin and anger of Will Phelps were keenly aroused
when he learned that although he had done well in his other studies he
was conditioned in his Greek. He stormed and raved about the injustice
with which he was being treated, and finally, at Foster's suggestion,
sought a personal interview with his professor.

"I don't understand it, professor," he said warmly. "I never felt more
sure of anything in my life than I did that I had passed that exam--I
mean that examination."

"Ah, yes," replied the professor. "Quite likely if you had had the
decision to make, you would have passed _cum laude!_ Ha, ha! Yes, I
fawncy it might have been so, but unfortunately the decision had to be
made by other parties."

"But didn't I pass the examination, professor?" demanded Will.

"I do not exactly recollect as to that. Quite likely you failed, since
that impression seems to be vivid in your thoughts. Were you so
reported?"

"Yes, sir. Have you got that paper, professor?"

"I _have_ it. I should not say I have _got_ it."

"May I see it?" Will's manner was subdued, but there was a flush on his
cheeks which those who knew him well would at once have understood.

"I will look it over with you," assented the professor. "It is against
our rules to return papers to students, and I fawncy our rules are made
to be obeyed, not ignored."

"Yes, sir." Will was hardly aware of what he was saying so impatient and
eager was he for the paper to be produced.

The professor unlocked a drawer in his desk and drew forth a package of
papers that were carefully tied with a piece of ribbon. Even the knot
was exact and the loop on one side did not vary from that on the other
by the smallest fraction. In his impatience Will noticed even this
detail, but it was ignored in a moment when the professor slowly and
with care examined the headlines of the papers and at last drew forth
one which he placed on the desk in front of him and said: "Ah, yes. Here
is the paper in question. It is credited with being two points above the
mark required to pass a student."

"It is?" demanded Will enthusiastically. "I thought there must be a
mistake."

There was a slight scowl on the professor's brow as he said: "Ah, yes. I
will now refer to your true mark," and he drew forth a little book as he
spoke and carefully examined the record. "Ah, yes," he murmured, not
lifting his eyes from the page on which he had placed a forefinger. "Ah,
yes. It is as I fawncied. Your average for the term in your recitations
is what brings you below. It is true you are two above the required mark
in your examination, but you are three below in your recitation work,
and that, I regret exceedingly to say, brings you still one point below
the mark necessary to pass you." The professor looked up and smiled
blandly.

But Will Phelps was not smiling and his vigorous young heart was filled
with wrath. By a desperate effort, however, he contrived to control his
voice and said quietly: "Was I not doing better? Was I not improving in
my work?"

"I should not care to speak positively, but my impression is that you
were. Ah, yes," he added as he glanced again at his record. "You were
improving. I may even say there was a marked improvement."

"And I passed the exam?"

"I have told you that you were two points above the mark required for
passing the examination," said the professor with dignity.

"Then I don't see what I'm stuck for."

"You are not 'stuck'."

"I'm not? Thank you, professor. I thought I was. You can't understand
what a load--"

"Excuse me, Mr. Phelps. I did not affirm that you were not conditioned.
I merely declared that you were not 'stuck'."

"Then I am conditioned, am I?" said Will, his heart instantly sinking.

"Most certainly."

"What shall I have to do?"

"Pass the examination."

"But I have passed it! I passed this one!" declared Will promptly.

Again the professor's scowl returned and his thin lips were tightly
compressed as he said, "I fawncy it will not be necessary for me to
repeat what I have already said. You were deficient in the term work and
therefore are conditioned."

"Then you mean to tell me, do you," said Will, no longer able to repress
his rising indignation, "that, though I steadily improved in my class
work, and then passed the examination, in spite of it all you are going
to give me a condition because according to your figures I am still one
point below?"

"Most certainly."

"And I'll have to take another exam?"

"Precisely."

"Good evening, professor," said Will, rising abruptly.

There was nothing more to be said, and he felt that it would be wise to
withdraw from the professor's presence before, in his indignation, he
should say something he was certain to regret. When, however, he
returned to his own room, there the flood tides of his wrath broke
loose. He related the interview to Foster, and bitterly declared that if
a smaller specimen of a man could be found with a microscope he thought
he would be willing to spend his days and nights searching for him.
There was neither justice nor fairness in it. He had improved steadily,
even Splinter acknowledged that he had, and had passed the required
exam, and yet for the sake of the professor's pettiness and the red tape
of the college rules he must take another, and then if he should pass
_that_ he would be all right. Bah! Greek was bad enough, but Splinter
was worse. What kind of a man was he to put in charge of a lot of
fellows with live blood in their veins, he'd like to know. For his part
he wished he was out of it. Such things might do for kids, but it was
too contemptible to think of for college students.

Foster wisely waited till the outburst had been ended and then said,
"Well, Will, you're up against it, whatever you say. What are you going
to do about it?"

"Do about it? I'm going to pass that exam. There isn't any other way
out. I've got to do it! but that doesn't make it any nicer for me, does
it?"

"Splinter's here and is likely to stay. And if you and I are going to
stay too, I suppose we'll have to come to his tune."

"I fancy--you should hear Splinter say that."

"Say what?"

"'Fancy,' only he calls it 'fawncy'. I 'fawncy' my father is dead right
when he says that I'll find a splinter everywhere and just as long as I
live; but I don't believe I'll ever find one as bad as this one is."

"He may be worse. Don't you remember that little bit of Eugene Field's
verse where he tells how when he was a boy he was sliding down hill with
some other little chaps in front of the deacon's house? And how their
yelling annoyed the deacon till at last he came out and sprinkled ashes
on the path? Well, Eugene said he always had found since that there was
some one standing ready to throw ashes on his path, it didn't seem to
make any difference where he was."

"I don't remember, but it's like my father's words about finding
splinters everywhere. Oh, no, I'm mad about it, but I'm not running
away. I'm going to do it if that's the thing to be done."

And when a month had gone by Will had passed the examination, and was
facing his work without the drag of work undone to hinder him.

The final influence had come one Sunday in the college chapel where the
pulpit from week to week was occupied ("filled" was a word also
occasionally used) by men of eminence, who were invited for the purpose
of speaking to the college boys. Some of these visitors by words,
presence, and message were a great inspiration to the young men, and
others were correspondingly deficient, for in the vocabulary of Winthrop
there was no word by which to express the comparative degree.

Will Phelps had regularly attended the services, not only because such
attendance was required by the college authorities but also from the
habit and inclination of his own life. With his fellows he had enjoyed
some speakers and had disliked others in his thoughtless manner, and in
the preceding week had laughed as heartily as any one over the
unconscious escapade of Mott. The preacher for the day had been
unusually prosy, having length without much breadth or thickness as
Foster had dryly described the discourse, and in the midst of the hour,
Mott had fallen asleep in his pew. Short and stout in figure, doubtless
doubly wearied by the late hours he had kept the preceding night, in the
midst of his slumbers he had begun to snore. From low and peaceful
intonations he had passed on to long, prolonged, and sonorous notes that
could be heard throughout the college chapel. Nor would any one of his
fellows disturb his slumbers, and when at last with an unusually loud
and agonizing gasp Mott was awakened and suddenly sat erect and stared
stupidly about him, the good-hearted, but boyishly irreverent audience,
it is safe to affirm, was decidedly more interested in the slumbering
sophomore than in the soporific speaker, though few doubtless thought
them related as cause and effect.

On the following Sunday Will was thinking of Mott's experience and
wondering if he would give another exhibition. This thought was even in
his mind when the visiting speaker entered the chapel pulpit and
reverently began the service of the day.

He had not been speaking long before it was evident that every eye was
fastened upon him. It was evident that here was first of all a man, and
then a man who was present because he had something to say and not
merely because he had to say something.

"I am appealing to those of you," he was saying, "who are eager and
earnest, not to you who are indifferent or weaklings. Those of you who
are members of your college teams, who are leading spirits in the
college life, who are not living lives that are above reproach because
you have no temptation to be bad, but because if you do right it is
because you have to struggle and fight for it--it is to you I am
speaking this morning."

Will was listening intently, as was every one in the chapel, and then
there followed a sentence that seemed to him almost electric with life
and that made a lasting impression upon his life.



CHAPTER XXII

A FRESH EXCITEMENT


"What I want every one of you young men to do," the speaker was saying,
"is to give your better self a chance. There isn't one of you to-day who
is not proud of his physical strength, not one of you who, if he should
be urged to join one of the athletic teams, would not willingly, even
proudly go through all the training that would be required of him. And
that is right. In your intellectual work some of you see what the
desired end is--the development of power, getting your brains into form
so that you can meet and compete with the forces you will have to face
when you leave your college days behind you and go forth to make your
name and place in the great battlefield of life. Some of you, it may be,
do not as yet see this clearly, and when you can evade a task or dodge a
difficult demand upon you, count it as so much gained. But in your heart
of hearts you know better, and are dimly conscious that you are losing
and not gaining by your neglect."

The earnestness, the sincerity, and naturalness of the speaker acted
upon Will Phelps with the effect of an electric shock. Never had he been
so thoroughly aroused, and every nerve in his body was tingling when he
left the chapel and started toward his own room.

"That's the kind of a talk the fellows like."

Will glanced up and beheld Wagner, who had overtaken him and now was
walking by his side.

"I never heard such a man in all my life," said Will warmly.

"There isn't a man that comes here who has such a grip on the students
as he has. One of the best things you have to look forward to is the
treat you will have every year of hearing him. There isn't a spark of
'cant' or 'gush' about him, but what he says goes straight home. I don't
think I'll ever forget some of the things he has said to us while I've
been in college."

Accepting Will's cordial invitation, Wagner went with him to his room
and remained there for an hour, and for the most of the time their
conversation was of the man and the message they had that morning heard.

"I'll never forget one thing he said," remarked Wagner thoughtfully.

"What was that?" inquired Will, deeply interested at once.

"He was talking once about the reason why women were supposed to be so
much more religious than men, and he said he didn't believe they were."

"There are more in the churches, anyway," suggested Will.

"Yes, that's what he said; but he said too, that the reason for it was
because one side of the life of Christ had been emphasized at the
expense of the other. He said so much had been made of his gentleness
and meekness and the kindly virtues, which were the feminine side of his
nature and appealed most to women, that he was afraid sometimes the
other the stronger side and the one that appealed most to men had been
lost. And then, he went on to speak of the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
and he pictured the temptation and the power of decision and the heroic
endurance and strength, and all that. I never heard anything like it in
all my life. It made me feel as I do when the team is in for a meet.
I'll never forget it! Never!"

"I wish I'd heard it."

"You'll have three more chances, anyway."

"Maybe more than that if I don't pass in all my work," laughed Will.

"Having any trouble?"

"A little with my Greek, but I've passed off my condition now."

"I think you're all right then, though Splinter is a hard proposition.
Just imagine him talking like this man this morning."

Will laughed, and then becoming serious, he said, "Wagner, I've a
classmate who is bothering me."

"Who is it?"

"Schenck. Peter John everybody calls him."

"What's he doing? What's the trouble with him?"

"Well, to be honest, he's drinking hard."

"Wasn't he one of the fellows who was down, with the typhoid when I had
it?"

"Yes."

"An awkward, ungainly, redheaded fellow?"

"That's the one."

"What have you been doing for him?"

"Everything I could think of, but nothing seems to hold. He made all
sorts of promises when he was sick and he hasn't kept one of them. He
goes around with Mott and you know what that means."

"Yes," said Wagner thoughtfully.

"He's a queer chap. I was in school three years with him and in some
ways he was absolutely idiotic. For a while he'd work all right and then
without a word of warning he'd break out and do some of the most
absolutely fool things you ever heard of."

"Not very much to appeal to, I fancy."

"There might be if a fellow knew how, but I confess I don't."

"You think it would do any good for me to see him?"

"Yes, I do," said Will eagerly. "You know he might stand a show for the
track team--"

"Is he the fellow that won the half-mile in the sophomore-freshman
meet?" inquired Wagner eagerly. "Is he the one?"

"Yes."

"I'll see him. I'll go right over there now. You're not letting up any
in your own work for the team are you, Phelps?"

"I'm doing a little all the time," Will admitted, "but I don't suppose
it will amount to much."

"Yes, it will. You never can tell till you try. If Mott does not do
better he'll find himself out of it. We'll need you and every one we can
get. You know I can't go in this year."

"Why not?"

"The typhoid. Doctor won't let me."

"Then Peter John can't go in either."

"That's so. I hadn't thought of that. All the more reason then why you
ought to do your best, Phelps. I'll see this John Henry anyway--"

"You mean Peter John."

"All right. Have it your own way. I'll go over to his room and look him
up anyway. Good-bye, Phelps."

"Good-bye," responded Will, as the senior started down the stairway.

Several days elapsed before Will heard anything of Wagner's interview
with Peter John and then all that Wagner told him was that the freshman
had promised faithfully to do better. But Will had already had so much
experience with Peter John's promises that he was somewhat skeptical as
to results. His classmate he knew was not essentially vicious, only
weak. He was so weak and vain that he was eager to gain the favor of
whatever person he chanced to be with, and his promise of better things
to Wagner was as readily given as was his response to Mott when the
latter happened to be his companion of the hour.

Troubled as Will was, he nevertheless did for Peter John all that was
within his power, which was not much, and was heavy-hearted as the
reports steadily came of his classmate's downfall. Even Hawley,
good-natured as he was, had at last rebelled and declared that he would
no longer room with a fellow who had no more sense than Schenck, and
Peter John, left to himself, was quick to respond to Mott's invitation
to share his room, and was soon domiciled in the sophomore's more
luxurious quarters.

Will Phelps found meanwhile that his own work in the classroom was of a
character that promised a fair grade, though by no means a high one.
Even his professor of Greek now appeared in a slightly more favorable
light, and Will was convinced that the change was in Splinter, not in
himself, so natural and strong were his boyish prejudices.

As the springtime drew near, however, his thoughts and time were
somewhat divided in the excitement of the last great struggle between
the members of his own class and their rivals, the sophomores. For years
it had been the custom of the college for the two lower classes to bury,
or rather to burn the hatchet on St. Patrick's Day. For a week preceding
that time the tussles between the rival classes were keener than at any
other time during the year.

At that eventful date the freshmen for the first time were permitted to
carry canes, and on the day itself there was to be a parade of the
freshman class, every member clad in some outlandish garment which he
wore outside his other clothing, and it was the one ambition of the
sophomore class to silence the music of the band that was at the head of
the procession and at the same time tear the outer garments from the
noisy freshmen. For a week preceding the time of the parade the freshmen
were striving by every means in their power to smuggle their canes into
Winthrop so that they would all be supplied when the day of emancipation
arrived, and the test of the sophomores' keenness was in being able to
thwart the plans of their adversaries and prevent the entrance of the
canes into the town.

Every road leading to the village was strictly guarded by the vigilant
sophomores and spies were busy in the adjacent towns who were
continually on the lookout for the purchase or purchasers of the canes.
The excitement had become keener with the passing of the days until now
only two days remained before the great parade when the huge wooden
hatchet would be borne at the head of the procession and duly consigned
to the flames on the lower campus in the presence of the entire student
body.

Will and Foster had shared in the growing interest and both knew just
where the coveted canes had been purchased by the duly authorized
committee and hidden till the time should arrive when they were to be
brought stealthily into the village. Their excitement became keener
still when on the evening of the day to which reference has been made
Peter John Schenck burst into Will's room with a report that instantly
aroused his two friends.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE RUSH TO COVENTRY CENTER


"The sophs have found out where the canes are," Peter John almost
shouted.

"They have? How do you know?" demanded Will.

"I was in my bedroom and I heard them talking with Mott in our study
room."

"Who?"

"Tucker, Spencer, and Goodman."

"What did they say?"

"They said the canes were over in Coventry Center, at the minister's
house there."

Coventry Center was a little hamlet about seven miles distant from
Winthrop, and the excited freshmen had indeed stored a part of their
canes in the house of the worthy old minister of the village. They had
frankly explained to him what their purpose was and he had laughingly
consented to receive the coveted possessions in his home and store them
there for the four days that intervened between the time and St.
Patrick's day. And the freshmen had been confident that their
hiding-place would not readily be discovered. No one would suspect that
the parsonage would be selected or the worthy minister would act as a
guard. To make assurance doubly certain, however, only half of the canes
had been entrusted to the minister, and even those were divided--a
bundle containing a dozen being placed in the woodshed and the remaining
being stored beneath the hay in the little loft of the barn. The other
half of the class canes had been taken to a farmhouse a mile distant
from the parsonage and there concealed in an unused well, the mouth of
which was filled with rubbish and the _débris_ of a shed that had been
blown down by a severe windstorm that had occurred a few weeks before
this time.

As the utmost care had been observed by the committee having in charge
the purchase of the canes, and they had stealthily in a stormy night
taken their precious burdens to the two places of concealment they had
been confident, over-confident now it appeared, that their actions had
not been discovered.

Will and Foster had both served on the committee that had purchased and
hidden the canes, and when Peter John brought his unwelcome tidings that
the rival class was aware of the place where the canes had been stored,
it was difficult for them to determine whether anger or chagrin was
uppermost in their feelings. At all events they both were greatly
excited, and Will said as he hastily rose from his chair:

"How did they find it out?"

"I don't know. I didn't hear them say," replied Peter John.

"Did they find out that you were there?"

"No, they left before I came out of my room. The door was partly open
and I didn't dare stir hand or foot."

"Lucky for you, Peter John."

"Yes. I know it."

"What are they going to do?" inquired Foster, who up to this time had
been silent.

"They've gone over to get the canes."

"Gone!" exclaimed Will aghast.

"Yes. That's what Goodman said."

"How many went, do you know, Peter John?" demanded Foster.

"He said three."

"Do you know who they were?"

"No."

"When did they start?"

"Goodman said they went about an hour ago."

"Which road?"

"I don't know."

"Why didn't Mott go?"

"I don't think he knew anything about it before these fellows came and
told him."

"What did he do after they told him?"

"He slapped his legs and laughed."

"You say he went away with those fellows that told him about it?"

"Yes."

"Did they say anything about any other canes--" began Will. But he was
sharply interrupted by Foster and abruptly ceased.

"I didn't know there were any others," said Peter John. "Are there?
Where are they?"

"We haven't any time to waste here," said Foster, hastily donning his
sweater and putting a cap on his head. "Peter John, you go back to your
room, and if you hear of anything more go straight to Bishop with the
word."

"I'd rather go with you fellows."

"Not this trip. You'll have to be on the lookout here. Somebody must do
it and you're the one, Peter John. Come on, Will," he added, calling to
his room-mate and instantly departed from the room.

Ignoring Peter John, Will hastily followed Foster, and together the two
freshmen ran to Hawley's room. There a hurried consultation was held,
the result of which was that it was decided that Foster and Dana should
secure a car and drive swiftly to Coventry Center by one road, two other
classmates were to drive to the same destination by another road, while
Will and Hawley were to go on foot across the country and strive to
arrive at the minister's house by the time the others had done so. In
this way it was believed that every avenue of approach or retreat would
be covered, and that even if the sophomores had been first on the scene
they would still be unable to get away with their booty before they
would be discovered, and at least followed.

In a brief time Will and Hawley were on their way across the country,
leaving their more fortunate comrades, who were to ride, to follow as
soon as their conveyances could be secured. The ground was still frozen,
and in places there were patches of snow and ice, although the heavy
snowfall of the winter for the most part was gone. Their way led through
woods and over plowed fields, but the steady run or "trot" was
maintained uphill and down, and within an hour and a half from the time
they had departed from Winthrop they arrived at the confines of the
little hamlet of Coventry Center.

"See or hear anything, Will?" inquired Hawley, as the two freshmen
stopped and listened intently as they peered all about them.

"Not a thing," whispered Will in response.

The lights in the little homes were already out, for the people of
Coventry Center were not believers in keeping untimely hours, and the
twinkling lights of the little village for the most part disappeared
before ten o'clock arrived. It was about that hour when Will Phelps and
Hawley stopped at the end of the one straggling street to try to
discover if there were any signs of the presence of their enemies or
classmates.

"Shall we wait or put straight for the minister's house?" inquired
Hawley.

"Go there," replied Will.

"Look out! Don't let any one see you," said Hawley in a low voice as
they stealthily began to make their way up the street. Occasionally they
stopped to make sure that they were not being followed or to strive to
discover if their own friends were near. They had passed the little
white wooden church building and were approaching the parsonage when
both stopped abruptly.

"What's that?" demanded Hawley in a whisper.

"You know as much about it as I do. Come on and we'll find out."

The sound of voices could be heard from the rear of the house and from
the tones it was evident that the speakers were somewhat excited.
Furthermore Will was positive that he recognized the voices of two and
they were members of the sophomore class at Winthrop.

"How many are there?" whispered Hawley.

"Sounds as if there were six or eight. Hark! There's the minister
talking."

"What's he saying?"

"I can't make out. He's excited over something, though."

"Come on," whispered Hawley, "let's creep up around the corner of the
barn. We can see and hear too there, and if we're careful they won't
suspect us."

"It will be all day with us if they do," whispered Will in response.

Slowly and cautiously the two freshmen crept along the side of the
street and diagonally across the vacant field till they had gained the
desired corner of the barn. Then crouching low they peered forth at the
sight which could be seen in the dim light.

On the highest step of the rear piazza of his house stood Mr. Whitaker,
the minister of Coventry Center. He was a man at least sixty-five years
of age, genial and shrewd, the friend of every one in the region. On the
ground before him now five men could be seen and neither Will nor Hawley
had any difficulty in recognizing all five as sophomores. Will pinched
Hawley's arm in his excitement, but did not speak, though it almost
seemed to him that the thumpings of his heart must betray his presence
to the men who were before him.

Mr. Whitaker was speaking and instantly Will's attention was centered
upon what was being said. "No, young gentlemen, I am not willing that
you should enter my house."

"But, Mr. Whitaker," said one in reply whom Will took to be a sophomore
who roomed near him in Perry Hall, "we don't want to come into the
house--just into the woodshed, that's all."

"I cannot consent even to that."

"We'll not harm anything."

"You certainly will not if you do not enter."

"We've got to come in, Mr. Whitaker!" said the speaker a little more
boldly.

"And I forbid it."

An interval in the conversation then followed during which Will could
see that the sophomores were conferring. They had withdrawn to a place
about midway between the house and the barn and consequently were nearer
the hiding-place of the two freshmen than before, but both were
compelled to draw back for fear of being discovered and consequently
were unable to hear what was said.

In a brief time the sophomores returned to the piazza where the minister
was still standing. "Mr. Whitaker," began the leader.

"Yes, sir. At your service," responded the minister pleasantly.

"Why do you object to our coming in? You know we won't do any harm to
the place. You know what we've come for."

"Perhaps that's the very reason why I object."

"You don't have to stay here. We'll give you our word we won't harm
anything. All we want is to get those freshmen canes. You're not
responsible for them and you certainly don't mean to say that you would
stand up for that class. Why it's the worst that ever entered Winthrop."

"I have frequently heard of the class," said the minister laughing
genially as he spoke. "I have a grandson who chances to be a member of
it."

"I beg your pardon. I didn't mean to say that every fellow in it was a
poor stick. All I meant was that as a class it's the most conceited one
that was ever seen. That's what every one says."

"Doubtless," remarked Mr. Whitaker dryly.

"You don't care anything about the squabbles of the classes. It's
nothing to you anyway, Mr. Whitaker," pleaded the sophomore.

"What led you to suspect that the canes might be here?"

"It wouldn't be fair to tell that," laughed the sophomore. "We know
they're here all right, and that's enough."

"Would you believe me if I were to say to you that they are not here?"

"Yes, sir, I suppose we should," replied the sophomore dubiously, "but
you won't say it."

"Why not, since they are not here?"

"What?" demanded the entire party almost together.

"That is what I said. The canes are not in my house."

"In the barn, then?" said the leader suspiciously.

"No, they are not in the barn, either. There is not a cane on my place
except the one I occasionally use myself. If you think that will do--"

"But, Mr. Whitaker, the man was seen when he brought the canes here."

"Quite likely."

"And yet you say they are not here?"

"That is what I said. And what I still say."

"I don't understand--"

"I do not say they _were_ not here. All I say is that they _are_ not
here."

"They're gone? They've been taken away? Is that what you mean?" demanded
the astonished sophomore.

"Precisely."

"Let's go in and search anyway," said one of the party now thoroughly
angry.

"I advise you not to attempt that," said the minister quietly.

"Why not?" said the sophomore impudently.

"Because one of my neighbors is a deputy sheriff and housebreaking is a
somewhat serious offense."

For a moment the assembly was nonplussed, but their uncertainty was
speedily relieved, or at least interrupted, by an occurrence that
instantly caused them all to turn and flee from the place at their
utmost speed.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE MYSTERY OF THE CANES


At the very moment when the consternation of the sophomores was keenest
the sound of a sleigh turning into the yard in which they were standing
caused them all to look quickly toward the gateway. The ground was bare
in places, and the runners of the sleigh, as the iron bands passed over
the gravel, emitted shrieks and groans as if they were striving to warn
the sophomores of the impending peril.

Seated in the sleigh were three men whom the assembly speedily
recognized as members of the freshman class, and their own fears for a
moment doubtless caused the sophomores to magnify the numbers as well as
the danger.

"Look out, fellows! Here they come!" said one in a low voice whom Will
and Hawley recognized. It was Mott, who was again the spokesman and
leader of the little band.

"Let's get out of this," responded one whose voice Will could not
determine, and as if a sudden panic had seized upon them the young men
turned and began to run swiftly.

"Hold on! Hold on, fellows!" called Mott savagely, although his voice
was not loud. "Hold on! What are you running for? There are only three
of them, and we're good for any three freshmen in Winthrop. Don't run.
Come on back!"

Mott's appeal served to restore a measure of confidence among his
companions, and instantly the flight was abandoned and all turned slowly
back toward the yard. Neither Will nor Hawley had yet moved from his
hiding-place, though they were leaning farther out from the corner of
the barn in their eagerness to discover what was occurring in the yard
before them. They could see that the driver in the sleigh was Foster,
and he had leaped out and was now as calmly tying his horse and
fastening the blanket upon it as if never a thought of his rival class
had entered his mind. Beside him two young men were standing, but in the
dim light it was impossible to determine just who they were. The
returning sophomores were now near the new arrivals, and the genial old
minister could also be seen, still standing on the piazza and evidently
not uninterested in the sight and presence of the young men before him.

"What are you doing here, Bennett?" demanded Mott of Foster.

"Oh, we're out for a sleigh ride," responded Foster glibly, "and we just
stopped here to see the fun. What are you doing here?"

"Oh, we stopped to see the fun too," responded Mott gruffly. "It's worth
going miles to see freshmen who don't know any more than to go
sleigh-riding on bare ground. Had a good time, freshman?"

"Yes. Have you?"

"We're all right. If you've come for the canes you're too late."

"Have you just found that out?" replied Foster with a loud laugh. It was
true that he was not aware that the canes had been taken away, but he
was not minded to betray his surprise to the members of the rival
class.

There was a brief interval of silence which was broken by the old
minister, who said, "I shall be very glad, young gentlemen, to have you
come into the house. The night air is cold and you must be thoroughly
chilled. A little while ago I may have appeared somewhat lacking in
hospitality," he added, turning to Mott as he spoke; "but now I can
assure you I shall be very glad indeed to receive you."

"Thank you," responded Foster. "We shall be glad to come in if the
others will come too."

"We can't very well to-night," said Mott glumly. "We've got to go--"

Suddenly there broke in a wild yell upon the silence of the night. The
sound was made by only two men, but these two were possessed of a lung
power that was well-nigh phenomenal. Hawley who with his companion had
been watching the events that were occurring before them had suddenly
turned to Will and whispered, "Let's go in and take a hand! Yell,
Phelps! Make them hear you clear over in Winthrop!"

"Hi-i-i-i!" the two lusty freshmen had shouted together as they leaped
forward, and the prolonged yell was repeated when all the assembly had
instantly turned and for a moment in sheer astonishment were gazing at
the startling approach of men from behind the barn.

"Come on, fellows!" shouted Hawley again. "Come on! We'll get every one
of them! Come on! Come on!"

To the startled sophomores it seemed as if myriads of their foes were
rushing upon them, and after a momentary confusion every one had started
swiftly across the narrow field that intervened between the yard and the
road that approached Coventry Center from another direction.

"Come on, Foster! Come on all you fellows!" shouted Hawley. "Come on!
We'll get every soph that's here and will put 'em where they won't do
any harm till long after St. Patrick's Day."

Obediently every freshman started to follow Hawley, and across the
rough, plowed field they ran swiftly toward the road where the
sophomores had already disappeared from sight behind the bushes that
were thick and high by the roadside. When once they had gained the road
they could see the forms of two men speeding away in the distance, and
with a renewed shout the freshmen started in swift pursuit.

On up the long hill they sped until at last they stood together on the
summit. Not a sight of their rivals was to be seen, and blankly the
freshmen stood and stared about them till Hawley said:

"No use, fellows. They've got away and we might as well go back.
Foster," he added, "did you know the canes were gone?"

"Gone? Gone where?" replied Foster blankly.

"I haven't the slightest idea. All I know is that Mr. Whitaker told Mott
that the canes _had_ been in his house but they had been taken away."

"Who took them?"

"I haven't the slightest idea."

"You don't suppose the sophs got them, do you?" said Foster hastily.

"I hadn't thought of that. It never entered my mind that anybody but our
own fellows had come for them."

"I don't believe it was anybody else that got them," said Will. "You
ought to have heard Mr. Whitaker talk to Mott and the other sophs. They
were just determined to go into his house, but the old man would not let
them. No, you can rest easy about it, Mr. Whitaker never let the canes
go out of his house without knowing who had come for them. No, sir. Not
much."

Somewhat comforted by Will's positiveness, the boys began to retrace
their way down the long road, and after a moment Hawley said, "We'll
find out all about it anyway, for Mr. Whitaker will tell us. He's all on
our side. That's what comes of having his grandson in our class. Say,
fellows, you just ought to have heard Mott rake over our class. He had
the nerve to stand there and tell Mr. Whitaker that we were the worst
lot that had ever entered Winthrop."

"I wish we had caught him!" said Foster warmly. "We would have made him
come up in his estimate of the freshmen."

"Oh, he was just talking to hear himself," said Will Phelps lightly. "He
knows who we are all right enough, and he isn't going to forget us right
away either. But I wish we had caught him."

"Here we are, fellows," said Hawley, as the five young men clambered
over the fence and once more were in Mr. Whitaker's yard. "Let's go in
and ask him about it now."

"All right," responded Foster as they started toward the door. "Hold on
a minute. Let me take a look at my horse first. I'll be with you in a
minute. Gre-a-at--" he suddenly began. "The horse is gone!"

"What!" exclaimed Will in astonishment.

No heed was given his expression, however, as all five ran quickly to
the post to which the horse had been tied. But the horse and sleigh were
gone, and not a trace remained to show in which direction they had
departed.

"Sure you fastened him all right?" inquired Hawley anxiously.

"I know I did," replied Foster.

"If you did then he couldn't have got loose. I wonder if Mott and the
sophs could have done it? Come on! We'll go in and tell Mr. Whitaker and
he may be able to give us a point or two. There's a light in the
kitchen, and we'll probably find him there. Come on, fellows!"

Hastily the boys ran to the kitchen door, and in response to their knock
Mr. Whitaker himself opened the door and stood before them.

"Mr. Whitaker," began Foster, "do you know who took our horse and
sleigh?"

"Why! Why, I supposed that you did. Two young men came into the yard not
more than three minutes ago and took them away."

"They did? Then it _was_ the sophs," said Foster turning to his
comrades. "We'll never hear the last of it. We can't get a horse here,
can we, Mr. Whitaker?" he inquired eagerly.

"I fear not. I have none of my own, and there are not many to be had
here anyway."

"Did they start toward Winthrop?"

"I think so. They turned toward the lower road."

"Let's get after them," suggested Foster.

"A long way after them," said Will grimly. "We never could catch up with
them."

"Mr. Whitaker," said Hawley, "how long ago were the canes taken away
from here?"

The good man hesitated, and the freshman without waiting for him to
speak began again. "We belong to the same class as your grandson. We're
freshmen and we don't want the sophs to get those canes."

"I regret exceedingly that I had anything to do with it, but my grandson
over-persuaded me and so I consented. I should say that it was about an
hour ago when they came for the canes."

"Who came?"

"There were two young gentlemen, and they brought me a note which
informed me that I was to let them take the canes away."

"A note?" demanded Hawley. "What did it say? Who signed it?"

"It was signed by Hawley--Albert Hawley, if I recollect aright, and also
by my grandson."

"My name is Hawley and somebody forged it. The sophs have the canes and
I'm afraid it's too late--"

"Too late nothing, Hawley!" said Will impulsively. "What kind of a rig,
I mean wagon or sleigh or whatever it was, did they have?" he inquired
of the minister.

"It was a box wagon, a farm wagon, and they had a farmer to drive for
them."

"Did you know the man?" demanded Will.

"No. I cannot say that I did. He was a stranger to me. But the note--"

"Probably some soph disguised as a farmer. Did he have any other load in
the wagon box?"

"Yes. I noticed some bags of meal."

"Good. And you say they took the lower road?"

"Yes. I recollect that distinctly."

"Isn't there a short cut? Can't we cut across lots and head them off?
They would have to go slow, and it might be that we could head them
somewhere and get those canes away from them."

"Yes," replied Mr. Whitaker. "I don't know that I am doing right to tell
you, but inasmuch as the canes were secured by a forgery I shall
certainly tell you all I know of the matter. If you go down to that
little valley," and as he spoke he pointed in a direction in the rear of
the barn, "you will find a pathway that leads beside the brook almost in
a straight line to what we call the ford. It saves between three and
four miles to Winthrop, and whenever I walk I take the path. I--"

"Thank you! Thank you, Mr. Whitaker! Come on! We'll try it anyway,
fellows. We've nothing to lose and everything to gain. Good night, Mr.
Whitaker! Thank you for what you've told us," called Will Phelps, as he
quickly turned and began to run.

Obediently the boys all followed Will as he ran swiftly across the
field, and in a brief time they discovered the pathway to which the old
minister had referred. There was no conversation now, for the fear in
every heart was that they would arrive at the ford too late to avail.
Besides, there was the likelihood that the canes would be disposed of
before the wagon had gone very far from Mr. Whitaker's house. A
multitude of fears possessed them, but they ran swiftly along the path
where Will Phelps, eager and strong was leading the way. Not once did
they stop for rest. The night air was chilling, and the clouds that
swept across the face of the sky did not hide the light of the moon.

On and on they sped, steadily maintaining the dogged pace which the
leader was setting for them, until at last, well-nigh winded and
thoroughly tired by their exertions, they arrived at the place where the
pathway joined the road and they knew that Winthrop was not more than
three-quarters of a mile away. There they halted, but they had not
recovered from the effects of their long run when they perceived a farm
wagon, apparently filled with bags, coming down the hill that was near
them.



CHAPTER XXV

ON THE TRAIL


As the eager freshmen peered out at the approaching wagon the suppressed
excitement threatened to break all bounds. "Let's stop him and get the
canes," suggested Hawley in a whisper.

"No. What'll be the good of that? It'll be better to follow up the wagon
quietly, and then if we can find out where they put the canes, maybe a
little later we can get them away without the sophs knowing anything
about it. Don't you see we'll be making it all the worse for them."

"We don't _know_ that the canes are in the wagon," suggested Foster.

"Of course we don't, and it's all the same whether we try to find out
now or follow it up and find out a little later."

"Phelps is right about it," said Hawley. "If the canes shouldn't be
found in the wagon, we would be making fools of ourselves if we stopped
it, but if we let it go on and follow it up we'll be all the better."

Meanwhile the wagon itself had passed the place where the boys were
concealed, and groaning and creaking had begun the ascent of the
opposite hill. Only the driver was to be seen, and his appearance and
actions were unmistakable. He was a farmer and well advanced in years,
and if he was aware of the contest that was being waged between the
rival classes in Winthrop it was evident that he had no share in the
excitement.

"How'll we do it, fellows?" inquired Hawley anxiously. "He'll get away
before we get our eyes open, if we don't look out."

"Let's follow him," said Will Phelps quickly. "We mustn't go in a bunch,
but string out. But we mustn't be so far apart that we can't hear if one
of us calls or whistles."

"Come on, then," said Foster. "You go ahead, Will, and we'll come along.
You're a runner, and if the old fellow begins to start up his horses you
can follow him better than any of us can. But we'll have to do our
best."

Quickly the suggestion was adopted, and Will ran swiftly along the road
until he discovered the wagon not far in advance of him. It was moving
at the same monotonous pace as when it had passed the hiding place of
the boys. Will Phelps, when he came within a hundred yards of the wagon
he was following, decreased his own speed and endeavored to keep close
to the fences by the roadside, so that he would not be seen by the
driver if he should chance to look behind him.

They were soon within sight of Winthrop, and the shadowy towers of the
college buildings could be discerned in the distance. It was long past
midnight, and the only lights that could be seen were those of the
twinkling stars and the occasional flash of the moonlight when the
broken clouds that were moving across the face of the sky parted
sufficiently for the face of the moon to be seen.

Suddenly Will was aware that the wagon had stopped at a corner where a
road or street that led to the lower part of the village joined the road
that led past the college buildings. He darted behind a huge tree that
grew close to the roadside, and eagerly peered forth to discover what
the next move of the farmer would be. He could see that some one
approached the wagon, and after a brief delay climbed up on the seat
beside the driver and then the team started on once more. Will was
keenly excited by this time, and his suspicions were confirmed that the
canes were indeed in the wagon before him. He was eager to follow
swiftly, but he quickly decided that it would be wiser to wait until
Hawley came up to the place where he himself was waiting and explain to
him the change in the direction of the party they were following.

The huge form of Hawley soon appeared, and impatiently Will ran out into
the road to meet him. "They've turned in here," he said excitedly, "and
you must stop here and tell the fellows. I'll run on ahead and find out
where the wagon goes."

Quickly Will darted across the fields and soon came into the lower road.
The wagon could be seen not far in advance of him, and was still moving
at a slow pace from which it had not varied since it first had been
seen. It was evident that the sophs were either indifferent or
absolutely confident, Will could not determine which. For a moment his
heart misgave him. What a plight he would be in if it should appear that
he and his classmates had been following a purposely designed trick of
their rivals. The thought was by no means reassuring, but there was no
time afforded for reflection, for the wagon he was following even then
turned into a lane that led to a farmhouse and barns that were not far
from the road. The climax had almost been reached and it would be soon
known what the issue was to be.

Will waited now for his classmates to join him. The wagon could not
escape, for the lane came to an abrupt end in the yard, and if it should
turn back it could not pass the place where he was waiting without being
seen.

It was not long before Hawley joined him, and, as he approached, Will
said: "They've gone down this lane. Somebody was waiting here and has
gone with the driver. There may be a good many others down there by the
barn for all that we know. What do you think we'd better do?"

"There's a haystack out there by the barn," said Hawley, pointing to a
stack of some kind that could be seen in the rear of the nearest barn.
"If you could only get behind that you could see what was going on."

"I can, all right enough. But where will you fellows be? I may need your
help if I get into trouble."

"I don't know. We won't be far away. Whistle if you want us and we'll
make a break for you. Don't let them see you," he added warningly, as
without waiting to reply, Will started at once, running swiftly along
the ground near the crooked rail fence that extended the entire distance
between the main road and the farm buildings.

He was convinced that he had not been seen when at last he gained the
shelter of the haystack, and, crouching within its shadows, he peered
forth at the wagon and the group of four men that were standing near it.
He was positive that one was Mott, but his greatest surprise came when
he perceived a horse and sleigh in the barnyard which he instantly
recognized as the very ones with which Foster and his two classmates had
gone to Coventry Center. He reached forward and strove to hear what was
being said, for the little group were conversing eagerly but in tones so
low that Will was unable to hear a word. He could see what was done,
however, for after a brief delay the four men turned to the wagon,
several sacks were lifted from their places in the load, and then two
other sacks were taken from the wagon and carried by Mott and another
man into the barn. Several minutes elapsed before Mott came forth
again, and when he did he was alone. The sophomore stopped for a moment
with the men, handed some money to the farmer, and then he and the
fourth man, whom Will fancied he recognized as another sophomore,
climbed into the sleigh and at once started back up the lane, the
runners of the sleigh screeching as they passed over the bare places as
if they were doing their utmost to alarm the neighborhood and to protest
against what was being done. The farmer too, soon followed and passed up
the lane, but his departure was of slight interest to Will, who was
puzzling himself about the man who had entered the barn with Mott and
had failed to reappear. To Will's mind there was but one explanation,
and he was eager to confer with his own classmates, but he dared not
leave his hiding-place for fear that the man in the barn might come
forth and depart without being seen.

For a half-hour he waited but the stillness of the night was unbroken.
He was becoming chilled and he dared not remain longer where he was. At
last he decided to return to the place where he had left his own
classmates and report to them what he had seen.

Hastily withdrawing from his shelter he ran swiftly across the fields
until he came to the corner, and then whistling softly was rejoiced when
he perceived his friends rise from the ground in an angle of the crooked
fence and advance to meet him.

"Is that you, Will?" said Foster in a low voice. "We didn't know what
had become of you. What's up? What's wrong?"

Will hastily described what he had seen and then said, "I'm dead sure,
fellows, that that soph has been left in the barn to watch those canes."

"Why didn't you run away with the horse and sleigh?" inquired Hawley.

"I did think of trying it. But I made up my mind that even if I should
succeed in doing it, it would give the whole thing away. They'd know
that we'd found out where they had hidden our canes and there wouldn't
be much use in our trying to get them again. Now we know where they are
and the sophs don't even know that we know."

"You mean you think they don't know that we know," suggested Foster.

"I know it!" asserted Will positively. "Now what shall we do?"

"Put straight back to the barn, tie up the soph and take the canes away
with us," said Hawley promptly.

"I've thought of that," replied Will. "But do you think that's the best
plan? If we take the canes away we may lose them, for St. Patrick's Day
isn't till day after to-morrow, you know. If this soph, I don't know who
he is, has been left as guard he'll be relieved, and if they find he's
gone and the canes too, why it'll be all the harder for us."

"What do you suggest, Phelps?" inquired Hawley.

"How will this do? Some one of us can creep back there into the barn and
keep watch the same as the soph is doing. He can be relieved in the
morning and then some one else can take his place. If anything happens
in the barn he'll be pretty likely to know it, and if anything doesn't
happen then we can get up a good-sized crowd and go down there to-morrow
night and get the canes. We can distribute them among our fellows and
then the next morning every fellow in the class can march into chapel
with his cane."

"Good! Good! That's the idea!" said Hawley warmly. "Who'll go down in
the barn and be guard for the night?"

"Who's got the most cuts to spare?" inquired Will.

"I have," said Foster promptly. "I have taken but four."

"Then I should say you were the one to stand guard to-morrow," said
Will. "I'll go to-night myself," he added. "Come down just before it's
light in the morning, and come to the door in the rear of the barn. Rap
three times softly, and then if that doesn't work, whistle, but not too
loud."

There was some demurring on the part of his classmates, each of whom
demanded for himself the privilege of taking the first watch, but Will
insisted, and then somewhat reluctantly he was left to make his way back
to the barn and all the others soon returned to the dormitories.

When Will Phelps arrived at the rear door of the barn he discovered that
it was locked on the inside and he was unable to gain an entrance there.
He was fearful that to enter by the front door would be but to proclaim
his presence, but at last he perceived that there was an entrance by a
small door that was partly open above the roof of the little lean-to on
the side of the barn. Carefully he climbed up on the roof and cautiously
made his way to the door. He peered within but it was dark and at first
he was unable to discern anything. He waited until his eyes became
somewhat accustomed to the dim light and then saw that there was a bare
floor before him and that adjoining it was the haymow.

With his utmost care he stepped inside, and his fears increased when he
discovered that the loose flooring creaked and groaned beneath his feet.
With every step he halted and listened intently. It seemed to the
excited freshman that he never had heard such sounds as those boards
emitted that night. So slowly and cautiously did he proceed that it
seemed to him that hours must have elapsed before he succeeded in
gaining the border of the low mow. Even then he halted and listened
intently, but not a sound broke in upon the oppressive stillness that
pervaded the barn.

He next carefully and cautiously stepped over into the mow. A faint
glimmer of light came from one corner and there he concluded the ladder
must be which led to the floor below. If he could gain a place near
that, he assured himself he would be able to know if anything occurred
below, and at the same time he himself would be secure from observation.

Once more he slowly and with the utmost care began to creep forward, and
at last he stretched himself at full length upon the hay and peered down
through the opening. It was too dark to permit him to see much and not a
sound could be heard.

Satisfied that he had been successful he resigned himself to his watch.
The long hours dragged on until at last Will found it almost impossible
to keep himself awake. Desperately he strove to keep his eyes open, but
his feeling of drowsiness increased until at last it overpowered him and
the weary freshman was fast asleep.

He was rudely awakened by sounds that came from the room below. He sat
quickly erect, and though the light was clearer now he at first could
not collect his thoughts sufficiently to show him where he was. Quickly,
however, as the sounds from below became louder, it all came back to
him, and he ran to the ladder and peered through the opening. What he
saw evidently startled him, for instantly he threw himself upon the
ladder and almost leaped to the floor below.



CHAPTER XXVI

ST. PATRICK'S DAY


The door in the rear of the barn was open and on the floor before it
stood Foster and Mott facing each other. Whether or not the sophomore
who had been left as a guard was still in the barn Will could not
determine, but, without waiting to find out, he almost leaped to the
floor below, and before Mott could recover from his surprise he was
helpless in the hands of his enemies. It was but the work of a moment
securely to bind his hands and feet, and the leading spirit of the
sophomore class was soon a helpless captive.

Excited though the boys were, the entire adventure was completed in a
very brief time, and Will and Foster were both laughing when they gazed
at their helpless prisoner. Even Mott smiled as he said ruefully:

"You've scored, freshmen. What are you going to do with me?"

"Nothing," said Will quickly.

Mott drew down the corners of his mouth and then a sudden light appeared
in his eyes that caused Will to look keenly at him for a moment. "Come
on, Foster," he said simply; "let's put this fellow where he won't do
any more harm, at least until after St. Patrick's Day."

"Where'll we put him?" inquired Foster.

Will turned and looked about him and perceived a small harness room on
the ground floor near him, and upon his suggestion the helpless
sophomore was placed within it for safe keeping.

"Now then, Foster," said Will when he had closed the door of the room,
"we've just got to find the place where these canes are hidden. Mott has
come here to take the place of the guard that was here last night and
nobody knows how long it'll be before some one else comes. Come on,
let's get about it."

At once the two freshmen began their search. Beginning near the
entrance, they examined every bin and peered into every possible place
of concealment. Even in the mangers before which the horses were tied
they peered and searched, but when they had carefully examined the
entire floor they had not been able to discover the place where the
coveted canes had been concealed.

"What are we to do, Will?" demanded Foster at last.

"Let's ask Mott."

"He'll never let on."

"Try it, anyway."

The two boys returned to the harness room and Will at once addressed
their prisoner.

"Mott," he said, "where are those canes?"

The sophomore laughed loudly as he replied, "You certainly are the two
most innocent freshmen I have ever struck yet. Perhaps you'd like to
have me help you carry them back to the college."

"We'll let you go if you'll tell us where they are."

"Thanks muchly," replied Mott dryly.

"Come on, Will," said Foster. "We can find them ourselves. No use in
wasting time here with this fellow. We'll get them ourselves."

"You're certain they're here?" laughed Mott.

Neither responded to his question, but both left the room and resumed
their search.

"You don't suppose they have really got those canes somewhere else, do
you, Foster? They might be just trying to put us on the wrong track
here, you know?" inquired Will.

"It's possible, but I don't believe it," said Foster positively. "If
that was their game Mott wouldn't be here."

"Probably not," assented Will. "Let's begin again. We've no time to
waste."

The freshmen now began to search in the loft of the barn. They seized
the pitchforks that were in the mow, and, thrusting the tines into the
hay, they continued their search, working with desperate determination
and throwing the hay about them until the entire mow presented the
appearance of having been almost completely overturned.

But not a trace of the missing canes could they discover. At last,
satisfied that their efforts were vain, they ceased and for a moment
stared blankly at each other.

"No use," said Will despondently. "They've made game of us this time,
Foster, just as sure as you live."

"We won't give up yet, Will. Of course if the canes are here they were
not put where we'd be likely to stumble over them. We've just got to
think it out--"

Foster stopped abruptly as a voice was heard calling up from below. "I
must bid you an affectionate and tearful farewell, freshmen. Keep on
with your good work and remember that perseverance conquers everything.
Even the best of friends must part--"

Foster and Will waited to hear no more, but both plunged down the
ladder, but when they had gained the floor below it was to behold Mott
speeding up the lane as if he was "sprinting" for life itself. For a
moment the surprise and consternation of the two freshmen were so
complete that both were speechless.

"Why didn't you take after him, Will?" said Foster, who was the first to
break in upon the awkward silence. "What are you standing here for?"

"No use, Foster," replied Will, shaking his head. "He's got too good a
start. I don't see how he ever got loose."

"Well, he is loose and that's all there is about it. What'll we do
next?"

"Find those canes. They're here, I know they are."

"Just tell me where they are, will you?"

"They won't come to us, that's certain! We've got to look them up. And
if we don't find them pretty soon too it'll be the worse for us."

Will turned as he spoke and once more opened the lid of a piano box that
was standing on the floor near them. The box apparently was filled with
oats and they had inspected it before, but as it had not presented any
appearance of containing the object of their search they had passed it
by and gone on to the loft above.

This time, however, Will thrust his arm deep down into the oats and in a
moment he almost shouted. "Here's something, Foster! Help me clear away
these oats. There's something down in there!"

Foster seized the scoop that was near the improvised oat bin and with
feverish haste threw the oats up on one side and then said exultantly,
"Here's something! Here they are!"

Leaning over the box, he drew forth a bundle of canes carefully tied
together and partly hidden from sight beneath the oats.

"Are they all there?" demanded Will in a hoarse whisper. He hastily
inspected the bundle and then exclaimed, "Here's only a part of them,
Foster!"

"Where some are it's likely there are more," and Will at once resumed
his search. His efforts were speedily rewarded by the discovery of
another bundle similar to the one that had already been found, and,
dropping his scoop, he hastily began to count the canes.

"Here they are!" he exclaimed joyfully. "Every last one of them is
here!"

"Then the sophs must have been to both places where we had them."

"Yes, but it's all the better for us. We'll now be--"

Foster stopped abruptly as the farmer that owned the buildings appeared
in the doorway and for a moment stared blankly at them.

"Good morning," said Will cheerfully. "We're here after these canes."

"So I see," replied the farmer. "The freshmans didn't find ye out,
then?"

"It's all right," responded Will glibly. "How much are we to pay you?"

"They paid me last night. I guess 'twas 'beout right. I don't want
nothin' more."

"We've tumbled your hay over more than we thought," said Will, as he
thrust a bill into the man's hand.

"I don't know 'beout it," drawled the farmer, nevertheless thrusting the
money into his pocket. "Putty good pay, but I don't know but I might's
well take it."

"Of course you're to take it!" said Will eagerly. "All we ask of you now
is not to tell anybody--anybody," he added with special emphasis, "that
we've taken the canes away. Don't tell any one of it or the whole game
will be spoiled."

"I'll be as mum as a hitchin' post."

Without waiting for any further words the two boys seized the bundles
and at once departed from the barn. When they came out into the lane
they looked carefully about them in every direction, but no one could be
seen and they soon came out into the open road.

"What are we going to do with them now?" inquired Foster, as they halted
for a moment.

"We can't take them back to our rooms," said Will.

"No! No! That would never do."

"I'll tell you," said Will quickly. "Let's take them down to that old
bridge yonder," pointing as he spoke toward a rude bridge that spanned
the stream not far away.

"All right. Come along, then," responded Foster.

Instantly the two boys began to run and in a brief time arrived at the
rude structure, and after a hasty inspection they placed the two bundles
on the piers beneath the bridge and then covered them with the driftwood
that had been cast up on the bank of the stream when its waters had been
swelled by the passing storms.

When their work was at last completed they departed for Winthrop and
arrived just as the final strokes of the bell were given that assembled
the students in the chapel. They hastily passed in with the throng of
students and were in their seats in time to receive credit for
attendance.

As they passed out from the chapel when the service was ended they came
face to face with Mott and a group of sophomores, who evidently were
waiting for their appearance; but as neither Foster nor Will betrayed
any emotion by the expression upon their faces it was impossible for the
sophomores to perceive whether or not the canes had been discovered.

There was no question about their opinions, however, when later in the
day it was apparent that the sophomore class was possessed of a feeling
of intense excitement. Parties were sent forth in various directions,
and there was the keenest interest manifest in the entire college. Will
and Foster, however, were too wise to relate their experiences to any
except to the three or four leaders of their class; and when night fell,
by a circuitous route, and then only after a half-dozen parties had been
sent out in other directions to mislead any of their rivals who might be
watching their movements, they proceeded to the bridge, secured the
canes, and bringing them safely back to the college under the protecting
shelter of the darkness, distributed them among the members of the
class.

Great was the elation of the freshmen when on the following morning they
formed in a body near the gymnasium just before the hour of morning
prayers in the chapel and then marched to the service every one carrying
in his hands one of the coveted sticks.

The discomfited sophomores endured in silence the gibes of the students,
and the exultant freshmen received the applause that greeted their
success with an air that it is to be feared only served to increase the
chagrin of their rivals. And Will Phelps and Foster were at once, and by
a common though unspoken assent, awarded a place among the leaders of
their class for their success.

Of the parade that took place that day Will Phelps did not tire of
talking for many a week. The assembled crowd of students, townspeople,
and visitors, the long line of freshmen in the parade and their
grotesque appearance, the stirring music of a brass band at the head of
the line, the march to the lower campus where the huge bonfire was
kindled, the weird songs and dancing as in dual lines the two lower
classes with joined hands leaped and danced about the blazing fire, and
then the final consignment to the flames of the huge wooden hatchet that
had been carried in the parade, were all incidents that duly impressed
him. And when at last the fires burned low and the final song was sung,
and it was declared that the hatchet was buried forever and all feelings
of animosity between the lower classmen were at an end, the boys
returned to their rooms feeling that a well-earned victory had been won.

The escapades were doubtless silly, and in after years brought a smile
to the faces of the participants when they were then recalled, but
nevertheless they had formed a part of the experiences of college life
and had brought with them the development of certain qualities of
leadership which in other ways and in later days were to play no small
part in the lives of Will Phelps and his room-mate.

The coming of springtime in Winthrop was always an occasion of general
rejoicing. The hills were once more covered with their garments of green
and the valleys were beautiful in their verdure. Among the students at
Winthrop there was usually a relaxing of effort then, but Will Phelps,
though the effort cost him much, still held himself resolutely to his
tasks. He had been learning not merely what to study but also how to
study, and in his spring vacation his father had explained to him that
this was his supreme purpose and desire. If a man did not learn how to
work while he was a student in college it was seldom the case that he
learned it afterward. And Will had responded. His Greek was still
distasteful to him, but he was doing somewhat better and was more
content.

The crowning ambition in Will's heart as we know was to secure a place
on the college track team. And he had been working quietly yet
persistently under the guidance of Wagner for the desired end. At last,
early in May, came the trial meets of the college when the selections
for the team were to be made, and when Will donned his running suit and
went down to the track to all appearances he was calmer than his
room-mate. But in his heart there was a feeling such as he had never
known before.



CHAPTER XXVII

CONCLUSION


It was a noisy crowd of students that assembled at the Winthrop athletic
field on that day early in May when the trials for the track team were
to be held. Keen as was the interest in baseball the interest in the
track team was even keener, for hope was high among the students that a
championship team would be turned out and the competition among the
eight colleges that composed the league was at fever heat. The most
formidable rival of Winthrop was Alden, and, as within the past four
years each of the two colleges had won the championship twice, the
coming contest would decide the possession of the cup which the
association had voted should be held in the permanent possession of the
college which had won most of the meets within the limits of the five
years.

Will Phelps was keenly excited although his movements were very
deliberate as he walked about the field clad in his running suit, over
which he was wearing his bath robe. His desire to secure a place on the
team was so strong that he hardly dared face the possibility of a
failure. The disappointments of the year would in a measure be atoned
for if only he might win the coveted honor. He had carefully followed
the instructions of Wagner, the captain of the team, who though, by his
physician's orders was not to compete, was nevertheless deeply
interested and for some reason had taken an especially strong liking to
Will Phelps. Upon his advice Will had retired early the preceding night
and had secured a rest that made him now feel that if ever he was to
win, the present opportunity was the supreme one.

"Don't do your best in the heats, unless you have to," said Wagner as he
approached Will on the field and stopped for a moment to chat with him.
"Save your strength for the finals."

Will smiled but did not reply. In his present state of mind he was
wondering if he could run at any pace that was not his best. The events
were being run off now and he was striving to become interested in them.
Anything that would call his thoughts away from himself and his own
contest was to be desired, he thought. Foster had tried and failed to
win a place and Peter John Schenck too had not been successful. Was his
own chance better than theirs? He could hardly believe that it was, and
yet if determination could aid he knew that his lack, if he should be
found wanting, would not be due to that cause.

At last the supreme moment arrived and the call for the first heat in
the hundred yards dash was heard. Will's heart was beating furiously
when he cast aside his bath robe and tossed it to Foster who was waiting
to receive it. His room-mate smiled encouragingly but was too wise to
speak and Will advanced to the line. He perceived that three others were
with him in the heat, but Mott, whom he most feared, was not among the
number. That was a source of some consolation, and his hope increased
that he might at least win a place in the finals.

As the pistol was fired, Will darted forward from the line, but in a
moment the runners were recalled and Will was penalized a yard for his
undue eagerness. Grimly he took his place this time a yard behind the
line and when the start was again made he sped down the track as if he
was possessed of the speed of the wind. Easily he was the first to touch
the tape, but when unmindful of the cheers of his classmates he turned
aside to don once more his bath robe, Wagner approached and shaking his
head, laughed as he said, "You forgot what I told you, freshman."

"What was that?"

"Not to run your best in the heat. You want something left for the
finals."

"I couldn't help it," said Will grimly. "What was the time?"

"Ten, two."

Nothing more was said as they all turned to watch the runners in the
other heats. Mott with apparent ease won his, and Ogden won the third.
The final was to be run off between the three winners and Will stretched
himself upon the grass to gain such rest as he could obtain before the
supreme test arrived.

Other events were now run off and a half-hour elapsed before the final
heat was called. "You'll get your place on the team anyway, Will," said
Foster encouragingly.

"I'm not so sure of that."

"I am. I heard Wagner say that three would be taken on the team for the
sprints, and even if you come in last you'll be sure of a place."

"I don't know. I don't want to come in last."

"Don't, then," laughed Foster as he reached forth his hand for his
room-mate's bath robe. Once more Will stood on the line and this time
there would be no "sneaking," he assured himself. Somehow the keenness
of his previous excitement was gone now and he was almost as calm as if
he had been a spectator and not a participant in the contest. He was
none the less resolved to do his utmost and when the pistol at last was
fired he leaped from the mark with every nerve and muscle tense. A
silence rested over all as the three runners came swiftly up the track.
Will could feel rather than see that he was ahead of Ogden, but Mott was
still in advance of him, and do what he might he did not seem to be able
to cut down that yard by which Mott was leading. Swiftly the racers sped
on and soon Will could see that the end of the course had almost been
gained. Only fifteen yards remained to be covered, and then by one
supreme effort Will called upon all his reserve powers and with what the
college paper afterward described as a "magnificent burst of speed," he
cut down Mott's lead and a moment later the two runners struck the tape
exactly together.

A mighty shout arose from the assembled students and Foster and Hawley
both of whom were usually so self-contained ran out and threw their arms
about the neck of their classmate. The enthusiasm increased when the
time was announced as "ten, one." and Wagner came forward his face
beaming and his hand outstretched as he said: "You did it, freshman! I
knew you could, and I knew you would."

Words of praise had never sounded sweeter in Will's ears. He had won a
place on the team and that coveted honor at least was his.

His interest in the trials was mostly ended now and he returned to the
dressing rooms, where he donned his ordinary garb and then rejoined his
fellows. Their congratulations were sweet in his ears and the very
appearance of the beautiful valley to him seemed to have changed. He had
won and the stimulus of success was his.

In the month that followed Will found himself excessively busy. He took
his meals now with the team at the training table and every day there
was work to be done on the track. And it was hard work too. But the
demands were almost forgotten in the elation which filled the heart of
the young student. His father's warm words of congratulation were prized
most of all, but Will felt that he did not require the caution which his
father gave him not to permit his success in athletics to interfere with
his work for the classroom. Even "Splinter's" demands had lost a part of
their unreasonableness, or so it seemed to Will, and even the detested
Greek could be mastered under the glow of success that was his.

At last the eventful day arrived when the meet between the colleges was
to be held. Will had worked so hard and so faithfully that he was not
without hopes of winning some points for his college and he was aware
how much they were needed and how eager all the student body was that
the cup might come to Winthrop. Mott was the only one who had appeared
to be at all envious of him, but as Will had heard that the sophomore
had been careless in his training and there had been reports that Mott
and Peter John had been drinking heavily again, he felt that he could
well afford to ignore the slights. And in his heart he knew that he was
sincere when he declared to himself that if he could not win he heartily
wished that Mott might, for Winthrop would be the gainer in either
event.

The team had been taken to the city where the meet was to be held, on
the day preceding the contest, and that night at the hotel Will
endeavored again to follow the advice of Wagner and secure a good sleep.
But his excitement and the novelty of his surroundings and thoughts of
the impending meet were too keen to be entirely overcome by the young
freshman, and on the following morning his heart was somewhat heavy and
his fears increased.

When at last the hour arrived when the team, in a huge coach, was taken
to the field, a measure of calm had returned to him and as he looked out
over the great assembly his interest became intense. Students from the
various colleges had been assigned sections in the bleachers and
streamers and banners with the huge initial letter of the college
emblazoned upon them were much in evidence. The colors of the competing
colleges were also to be seen among the spectators and with shouts and
cheers and songs to be heard on every side Will felt that this was the
supreme moment of his life. He stood gazing at the inspiring sight until
he felt a touch on his shoulder that caused him quickly to turn about.

"Why, pop!" he exclaimed delightedly as he perceived who it was that had
touched him. "I didn't have the remotest idea that you were here."

"I had to come to see what my boy would do," replied Mr. Phelps quietly.

"I'm afraid you won't see much."

"I shall see him do his best, and that's worth the trip."

"Come on, freshman!" interrupted Mott approaching. "It's time to dress."

Will grasped his father's hand for a moment and then hastened to follow
the other members of the Winthrop team who were making their way to
their quarters.

"Alden is going to win all the sprints," said Mott glumly while they
were dressing.

"If they're the best runners they will," assented Will who despite his
eagerness was now in good spirits.

"Wagner has figured it out and says if they do win the sprints they'll
take the cup."

Will made no response though he knew that if Wagner had indeed said
that, then the college would look to Mott and to himself to do their
best. No praise would be too high if they should succeed, and no blame
too severe if they should fail. And his own determination and desire to
win for a moment faltered. What could he in his first great contest
hope to do?

The appearance of the team on the field was greeted by a wild shout from
the Winthrop contingent. The team was cheered and every member of it
also was cheered by name. The entire scene was certainly inspiring and
Will's determination returned more strongly than before. The first event
was the four hundred and forty yard dash in which Alden received first
and Winthrop second. In the one hundred and twenty yard hurdles the
order was reversed, and so the record continued through the two-twenty,
the two-twenty hurdles, the eight hundred and eighty yards run. The
field events were also being carried out at the same time and with very
similar results. Alden was second in the shot put and Winthrop second in
the running high jump while neither scored in throwing the hammer nor in
the running broad jump. But again Winthrop was first in throwing the
discus, but Alden was first in the pole vault; and so the points scored
by each of the two rivals remained the same when at last came the trials
in the hundred yards dash, which as we know was the event in which Will
Phelps and Mott were entered. The color had fled from Will's face and he
was hardly conscious of the shouts or presence of the great assembly
when he advanced to the line, for he was to run in the first heat.
Thirty-two men were entered for the race and there were to be six heats,
only the winners in each to qualify for the finals.

"You've nobody to fear here," whispered Wagner encouragingly. "Take it
easy."

"I'll have to come in first if I get in the finals."

"Yes, but you can do it all right."

Wagner slipped back and the seven young men took their places on the
line. When the pistol was fired Will darted forward and held the lead
all the way, touching the tape first of all.

Wagner again was there to receive him and as Will fell into his arms he
turned quickly and said. "What was the time?"

"They'll announce it in a minute," replied Wagner compelling his friend
to don his robe. When the time was announced as "ten three," Will's
heart sank, but Wagner laughed gleefully as he said, "Good! That's the
way to do it. You've got some reserve left."

Will Phelps was not so confident, but he turned eagerly to watch the
other contestants. Mott won his heat in ten two, each of two heats was
won by an Alden man in the same time, and the fifth heat was won by a
man from a smaller college of whom no one expected much and who was but
slightly feared.

The mile run, the two mile run, and the half-mile were run off while the
sprinters were waiting for their finals and the excitement became
intense when it was known that the score of Winthrop and Alden was
exactly the same. Everything now depended upon the result of the finals
in the hundred yards dash.

"Phelps, you _must_ get it!" whispered Wagner whose face was as pale as
that of the freshman. Will did not reply and at once took his place
beside his four competitors.

"On your marks!" called the starter, and the silence that rested over
the field became intense.

"Get set!" A sigh seemed to rise from the assembly and all were
standing.

"Go!" The crack of the pistol was heard and instantly the runners were
speeding down the track.

The day was warm and Will Phelps could feel that his face was as wet as
if he had plunged in the river. Never in all his young life had he
exerted himself as then. The tread of the running feet on the track
seemed almost like that of one man. On and on they sped, no one looking
to the right or left. Whether he was winning or not, Will was unable to
determine. He knew that all five were "bunched," for he could feel and
hear the others near him. The deafening shouts and the shrill calls and
cries sounded faint and dim in his ears. He could see the officials
standing near the end of the course--an end that seemed far away for all
that the runners were so swiftly approaching.

Nearer and nearer the runners drew and the shouts increased in violence.
Every one in the assembly was standing erect and leaning forward,
breathless with interest. Fifteen, ten, then only five yards remained.
With one supreme effort Will darted ahead. He felt the tape, and not
knowing whether he had won or not he plunged into the outstretched arms
of Wagner.

For a moment everything was dim about him and there was a sound as of a
roaring in his ears. Then above the din he heard the wild shout of the
Winthrop boys and he heard Wagner say, "The cup's ours, Phelps! We've
got it! We've won it!"

"Was I first?" inquired Will simply.

"No, second."

"I don't see then. Who did win?"

"Crafts from Tech was first and you were second and the Alden man
third," said Wagner hilariously. "You put us two points ahead of Alden!
You've won your 'W' and we've got the cup!"

Before Will could respond a body of the Winthrop boys made a rush upon
him and lifting him upon their shoulders advanced to the middle of the
field followed by the entire body of their fellow-students. Then in
fantastic steps and winding column they marched about the field, singing
their college songs and uniting in their college yell for the team and
for Phelps again and again. The interested spectators stopped and
watched the proceedings until at last the team returned to their
dressing rooms and the day was done.

On the return to Winthrop Will was seated beside his father, and as they
drew near the college town Mr. Phelps, who was not to stop, but was at
once going home, said: "Well, Will, what of the year? It's done now."

"Yes," responded Will simply. "It's not been so bad."

"What about the Greek?"

"Oh, Splinter's not half-bad either," laughed Will. "I think I'll go
down and see him before I come home."

"I should. And you're not sorry that you didn't give up to Greek?"

"Not a bit."

"And you think winning the 'hundred' to-day is worth it all?"

"It isn't that. It's the feeling that I haven't given up. Of course I'm
glad to get my 'W' and I was mighty sorry not to get my numerals. But
this makes up for it. I'm glad I won out for myself and more for the
college. I tell you, pop, Winthrop is the best college in the world!"

"And you wouldn't like to leave now?"

"Leave? Well, I guess not!"

"I hear that Peter John is not to come back," said Mr. Phelps soberly.

"Why not?"

"I can't say. I don't even know that he is not to return. I have heard
it, that's all; but I fancy you know more about it than I."

Will was silent till the train was near Winthrop. "Well, Will," said his
father, breaking in, "I'm to leave you here. Do you want to know what I
value most in your year's work?"

"What is it?"

"That you've learned how to work. When a man learns that, much of the
problem of his life is solved. Some men run from hardness, some endure
it, and some overcome it."

"It hasn't been so hard."

Mr. Phelps smiled but all he said was, "Good-bye, Will, we'll look for
you soon at home. I think you've made a good investment this year."

"In what?" inquired Will in surprise.

But his father only smiled and grasped his son's hand for a moment and
soon the train pulled out from the little station; but as long as the
crowd of students, noisy, boisterous, happy, could be seen as they moved
up the street he watched them with shining eyes. Then as he resumed his
seat he thoughtfully said to himself, "Yes, Will has learned it. I did
not know for a time whether he would or not. But he has and I don't
think Splinter, or Mott, or Peter John, or anything, or any one can take
it away from him now."

And he resumed the reading of his evening paper, while the noisy train
sped on bearing him farther and farther from Winthrop, but the Winthrop
college boy was nearer to him all the time.

THE END



BOOKS FOR BOYS


THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SERIES

H. IRVING HANCOCK

These intensely active young men, known to their thousands of loyal
readers as Dick and Co., lead the vanguard in scholarship as well as in
athletic activities. A vigorous breezy spirit of outdoor life permeates
the entire series.

THE HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN
THE HIGH SCHOOL PITCHER
THE HIGH SCHOOL LEFT END
THE HIGH SCHOOL CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM


THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS VACATION SERIES

H. IRVING HANCOCK

Outdoor sports are the keynote of these four wonderful volumes. Led
again by the adventurous Dick & Co., you will thrill and chuckle as you
live their many adventures and pranks with them.

THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS CANOE CLUB
THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS IN SUMMER CAMP
THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS FISHING TRIP
THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS TRAINING HIKE


The Camp and Trail Series

Red-blooded stories of woods and waters. Running trap-lines or driving a
canoe through treacherous waters. The companionship of dog, gun, and
guide and the tantalizing smell of food cooking over a campfire mingling
its aroma with the pungent odor of fragrant pines. It's all found in
Camp and Trail Series.

A BOY TRAPPER               Castlemon
CHUMS IN THE BIG WOODS      Allen
CANOE MATES IN CANADA       Rathborne
CAMP MATES IN MICHIGAN      Rathborne


The Airplane Boys Series

By JOHN LUTHER LANGWORTHY

An intensely interesting series for boys who feel the call of the
clouds. If you would revel in stirring tales of thrilling adventures
along the wind-swept skyways then read the Airplane Boys Series.

AIRPLANE BOYS AND THE PHANTOM PLANE
AIRPLANE BOYS AMONG THE CLOUDS
AIRPLANE BOYS ON THE WING
AIRPLANE BOYS FLIGHTS
AIRPLANE BOYS


The Success Series

Here are inspiring stories of real boys. Filled with enthusiasm,
resourcefulness and an indomitable determination to overcome all
difficulties. Boys who start from the bottom, with their eyes firmly
fixed on the president's chair, finally achieve success.

TWO BOY PUBLISHERS              Chapman
YOUNG EXPRESS AGENT             Chapman
A BUSINESS BOY'S PLUCK          Chapman
DAREWELL CHUMS IN THE CITY      Chapman

For sale at all Booksellers or sent Postpaid on receipt of 40 cents.

M.A. DONOHUE & COMPANY 711 SOUTH DEARBORN STREET, CHICAGO





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Winning His "W" - A Story of Freshman Year at College" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home