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Title: Baseball Joe at Yale - or Pitching for the College Championship
Author: Chadwick, Lester
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 "Baseball Joe at Yale - or Pitching for the College Championship" ***

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[Illustration: "GOOD-BYE, JOE!"]



 Baseball Joe at
 Yale

 OR

 Pitching _for the_ College Championship

 _By_ LESTER CHADWICK

 AUTHOR OF

 "BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS," "BASEBALL
 JOE ON THE SCHOOL NINE," "THE RIVAL
 PITCHERS," "BATTING TO WIN," "THE WINNING
 TOUCHDOWN," ETC.

 _ILLUSTRATED_

 [Illustration]

 NEW YORK
 CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY



=BOOKS BY LESTER CHADWICK=


 =THE BASEBALL JOE SERIES=
 =12mo.  Cloth.  Illustrated=

 BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS
     Or The Rivals of Riverside

 BASEBALL JOE ON THE SCHOOL NINE
     Or Pitching for the Blue Banner

 BASEBALL JOE AT YALE
     Or Pitching for the College Championship

 (_Other Volumes in Preparation_)


 =THE COLLEGE SPORTS SERIES=
 =12mo.  Cloth.  Illustrated=

 THE RIVAL PITCHERS
     A Story of College Baseball

 A QUARTER-BACK'S PLUCK
     A Story of College Football

 BATTING TO WIN
     A Story of College Baseball

 THE WINNING TOUCHDOWN
     A Story of College Football

 THE EIGHT-OARED VICTORS
     A Story of College Water Sports

 (_Other Volumes in Preparation_)

 =CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, New York=


 Copyright, 1913, by
 CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY


 =Baseball Joe at Yale=

 Printed in U. S. A.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                           PAGE
       I  JUST IN TIME                1
      II  A HOME CONFERENCE          15
     III  ONE LAST GAME              23
      IV  A SNEERING LAUGH           30
       V  OFF FOR YALE               37
      VI  ON THE CAMPUS              48
     VII  A NEW CHUM                 55
    VIII  AMBITIONS                  66
      IX  THE SHAMPOO                73
       X  A WILD NIGHT               84
      XI  THE RED PAINT              93
     XII  JOE'S SILENCE             100
    XIII  EARLY PRACTICE            107
     XIV  THE SURPRISE              116
      XV  HIS FIRST CHANCE          126
     XVI  JOE MAKES GOOD            135
    XVII  ANOTHER STEP              144
   XVIII  PLOTTING                  158
     XIX  THE ANONYMOUS LETTER      164
      XX  THE CORNELL HOST          170
     XXI  EAGER HEARTS              178
    XXII  THE CRIMSON SPOT          185
   XXIII  JOE'S TRIUMPH             193
    XXIV  HARD LUCK                 200
     XXV  AT WEST POINT             210
    XXVI  A SORE ARM                216
   XXVII  THE ACCUSATION            223
  XXVIII  VINDICATION               230
    XXIX  BUCKING THE TIGER         236
     XXX  THE CHAMPIONSHIP          239



BASEBALL JOE AT YALE



CHAPTER I

JUST IN TIME


"Joe Matson, I can't understand why you don't fairly jump at the
chance!"

"Because I don't want to go--that's why."

"But, man alive! Half the fellows in Riverside would stand on their
heads to be in your shoes."

"Perhaps, Tom. But, I tell you I don't think I'm cut out for a college
man, and I don't want to go," and Joe Matson looked frankly into the
face of his chum, Tom Davis, as they strolled down the village street
together that early September day.

"Don't want to go to Yale!" murmured Tom, shaking his head as if unable
to fathom the mystery. "Why I'd work my way through, if they'd let me,
and here you've got everything comparatively easy, and yet you're
balking like a horse that hasn't had his oats in a month. Whew! What's
up, Joe, old man?"

"Simply that I don't believe I'm cut out for that sort of life. I don't
care for this college business, and there's no use pretending that I do.
I'm not built that way. My mind is on something else. Of course I know a
college education is a great thing, and something that lots of fellows
need. But for yours truly--not!"

"I only wish I had your chance," said Tom, enviously.

"You're welcome to it," laughed Joe.

"No," and the other spoke half sadly. "Dad doesn't believe in a college
career any more than you do. When I'm through at Excelsior Hall he's
going to take me into business with him. He talks of sending me abroad,
to get a line on the foreign end of it."

"Cracky!" exclaimed Joe. "That would suit me down to the ground--that is
if I could go with a ball team."

"So you haven't gotten over your craze for baseball?" queried Tom.

"No, and I never shall. You know what I've always said--that I'd become
a professional some day; and I will, too, and I'll pitch in the world
series if I can last long enough," and Joe laughed.

"But look here!" exclaimed his chum, as they swung down a quiet street
that led out into the country; "you can play baseball at Yale, you
know."

"Maybe--if they'll let me. But you know how it is at those big
universities. They are very exclusive--societies--elections--eating
clubs--and all that sort of rot. A man has to be in with the bunch
before he can get a show."

"That's all nonsense, and you know it!" snapped Tom. "At Yale, I warrant
you, just as at every big college, a man has to stand on his own feet.
Why, they're always on the lookout for good fellows on the nine, crew or
eleven, and, if you can make good, you'll be pitching on the 'varsity
before the Spring term opens."

"Maybe," assented Joe with rather a moody face. "Anyhow, as long as I've
got to go to college I'm going to make a try for the nine. I think I can
pitch a little----"

"A little!" cried Tom. "Say, I'd like to know what sort of a showing
we'd have made at Excelsior Hall if it hadn't been for your pitching!
Didn't you win the Blue Banner for us when it looked as if we hadn't a
show? Pitch! Say if those fellows at Yale----"

"Spare my blushes," begged Joe, with a laugh. "Don't worry, I'm going to
college for one reason, more than another, because mother wants me to.
Dad is rather set on it, too, and so I've said I'll go. Between you and
me," whispered Joe, as if he feared someone would overhear him, "I have
a faint suspicion that my respected mother wants to make a sky pilot of
me."

"A minister!" cried Tom.

"That's it."

"Why--why----"

"Oh, don't worry!" laughed Joe, and then his face grew a bit sober as he
continued: "I'm not half good enough--or smart enough. I'm not cut out
for that sort of life. All I want is baseball and all I can get of it.
That's my one ambition."

"Yes, it's easy to see that," agreed Tom. "I wonder you don't carry a
horsehide about with you, and I do believe--what's this?" he demanded,
pulling a bundle of papers from his chum's pocket. "Some dope on the
world series, or I'm a June bug!"

"Well, I was only sort of comparing batting averages, and making a list
of the peculiarities of each player--I mean about the kind of balls it
is best to serve up to him."

"You're the limit!" exclaimed Tom, as he tried unsuccessfully to stop
Joe from grabbing the papers away from him. "Do you think you might
pitch to some of these fellows?"

"I might," replied Joe calmly. "A professional ball player lasts for
some time, and when I come up for my degree on the mound at some future
world series I may face some of these same men."

"Go to it, old man!" exclaimed Tom enthusiastically. "I wish I had your
hopes. Well, I suppose I'll soon be grinding away with the old crowd at
Excelsior, and you--you'll be at--Yale!"

"Probably," admitted Joe, with something of a sigh. "I almost wish I was
going back to the old school. We had good times there!"

"We sure did. But I've got to leave you now. I promised Sis I'd go to
the store for her. See you later," and Tom clasped his chum's hand.

"That reminds me," spoke Joe. "I've got to go back home, hitch up the
horse, and take some patterns over to Birchville for dad."

"Wish I could go along, but I can't," said Tom. "It's a fine day for a
drive. Come on over to-night."

"Maybe I will--so long," and the two friends parted to go their ways,
one to dream over the good fortune of the other--to envy him--while
Joe himself--Baseball Joe as his friends called him--thought rather
regretfully of the time he must lose at college when, if he had been
allowed his own way, he would have sought admission to some minor
baseball league, to work himself up to a major position.

"But as long as the folks want me to have a college course I'll take
it--and do my best," he mused.

A little later, behind the old family horse, he was jogging over the
country road in the direction of a distant town, where his father, an
inventor, and one of the owners of the Royal Harvester Works, had been
in the habit of sending his patterns from which to have models made.

"Well, in a few weeks I'll be hiking it for New Haven," said Joe, half
talking to himself. "It's going to be awful lonesome at first. I won't
know a soul there. It isn't like going up from some prep school, with a
lot of your own chums. Well, I've got to grin and bear it, and if I do
get a chance for the 'varsity nine--oh, won't I jump at it!"

He was lost in pleasant reflections for a moment, and then went on,
still talking to himself, and calling to the horse now and then, for the
steed, realizing that he had an easy master behind him, was inclined to
slow down to a walk every now and then.

"There are bound to be lessons, of course," said Joe. "And lectures on
things I don't care any more about than the man in the moon does. I
suppose, though, I've got to swallow 'em. But if I can get on the
diamond once in a while it won't be so bad. The worst of it is, though,
that ball playing won't begin until April at the earliest, and there's
all winter to live through. I'm not going in for football. Well, I
guess I can stand it."

Once more Joe was off in a day-dream, in fancy seeing himself
standing in the box before yelling thousands, winding up to deliver
a swiftly-curving ball to the batter on whom "three and two" had been
called, with the bases full, two men out and his team but one run ahead
in the final inning.

"Oh! that's what life is!" exclaimed Joe, half aloud, and at his words
the horse started to trot. "That's what makes me willing to stand four
years at Yale--if I have to. And yet----"

Joe did not complete his sentence. As he swung around a bend in the road
his attention was fully taken by a surprising scene just ahead of him.

A horse, attached to a carriage, was being driven down the road, and,
just as Joe came in sight, the animal, for some unaccountable reason,
suddenly swerved to the left. One of the wheels caught in a rut, there
was a snapping, cracking sound, the wheel was "dished," and the carriage
settled down on one side.

"Whoa! Whoa!" yelled Joe, fearing the horse would bolt and that perhaps
a woman might be in the carriage, the top of which was up. The lad was
about to spring from his own vehicle and rush to the aid of the occupant
of the other, when he saw a man leap out.

With one bound the man was at the head of his steed, holding him from
running away, but there was no need, for the horse, after a calm look
around, seemed to resign himself to his fate.

"Jove!" ejaculated Joe. "That was quick work. That fellow is in
training, whoever he is."

Following his original plan, even though he saw no need of going to the
rescue, Joe leaped from his seat. His steed, he knew, would stand
without hitching. He approached the stranger.

"A bad break," murmured Joe sympathetically.

"Indeed it is, young man," replied the other in quick, tense accents.
"And it comes at a particularly bad time, too."

Joe looked at him. The man seemed about thirty-five, and his face,
though stern, was pleasant, as though in the company of his friends he
could be very jolly. He was of dark complexion, and there was that in
the set of his figure, and his poise, as he stood at the head of the
horse, that at once proclaimed him an athlete, at least if not one in
active training, one who could get into condition quickly.

"A bad break, and at a bad time, too," the man went on. "I never knew it
to fail, when I was in a hurry."

"I guess that wheel is past fixing," spoke Joe. "You might get one at
the barn here," and he nodded toward a farmhouse not far distant.

"I haven't time to make the try," said the man. "I'm in a great hurry.
How far is it from here to Preston?"

"About five miles," replied Joe.

"Hum! I never could make that in time to catch the train for New York,
though I might have run it at one time. A little too heavy now," and he
seemed referring to himself. "I might ride the horse, I suppose," he
went on dubiously.

"He doesn't look much like a saddle animal," ventured Joe.

"No, and there isn't a saddle, either. I must get to New York
though--it's important. I don't suppose you are going to Preston; are
you?" he asked of Joe quickly, referring to the nearest railroad
station.

"Well, I wasn't," replied the youth, "but if you're in a hurry----"

"I am--in a very great hurry. I just had about time to get the New York
train, when, most unfortunately, I got into that rut. At the same time
the reins got caught, and I must have pulled on the wrong one. I'm not
much of a horseman, I'm afraid. The animal turned too quickly, and the
wheel collapsed."

"It wasn't very strong, anyhow," remarked Joe, as he looked critically
at it. "But if you want to get to Preston I can take you."

"Can you--will you? It would be a very great accommodation. I really
can't afford to miss that train. I came out here on some business, and
hired this rig in Preston. I thought I would have ample time to get
back, and I believe I would. But now, with this accident--I wonder if I
could leave this outfit at the farmhouse, and hire another there?" he
asked musingly.

"I don't believe Mr. Murchison has a horse now," said Joe, nodding
toward the farmhouse. "He has about given up working his place. But you
could leave this rig here to be called for, and----"

"Yes--yes!" interrupted the man, quite impatiently. "I beg your pardon,"
he added quickly. "I'm all upset over this accident, and I really must
reach New York to-night."

"I'll drive you in!" offered Joe.

"But it will be out of your way, will it not?"

"That doesn't matter. I'm in no hurry, and going to Preston will not
take me many miles off my road. I'll be glad to help you."

"Thank you. Then I'll take advantage of your offer. Shall I----?" he
made a move as though to lead the horse up to the farmhouse.

"I'll attend to that," spoke Joe. "Just get in my carriage, and I'll be
with you in a few minutes."

The stranger obeyed, and Joe, unhitching the horse from the broken
carriage, quickly led the steed to the stable, stopping on his way to
explain to Mrs. Murchison, whom he knew slightly, the circumstances.
She readily agreed to let the animal stay in their stall. Then Joe
pulled the tilted carriage to one side of the road, and a few minutes
later was sending his steed ahead at a pace not hitherto attained that
day.

"Think we can make that train?" asked the man, who seemed immersed in
his own thoughts.

"I'm going to make a big try," answered Joe.

"Do you live around here?" came the next question.

"At Riverside--about eight miles away."

The man lapsed into silence, and as Joe was rather diffident with
strangers he did not press the conversation. They drove on for several
miles, and suddenly the silence of the country was broken by a distant
whistle.

"Is that the train?" exclaimed the man nervously, looking at his watch.

"Yes, but it's about three miles away. You can always hear it plainly
here. We'll be in Preston in a few minutes now, and I'll have you at the
station in time."

"I hope so," murmured the man. "I must get to New York--it means a great
deal to me."

Joe urged the horse to even faster speed, and when he reached the quiet
streets of Preston more than one person turned to look at the carriage,
which went along faster than vehicles usually did in that quiet
community.

Once more the whistle sounded, and the man exclaimed:

"We'll never make it!"

"Yes, we will," said Joe quietly. "The station is only another block."

"I'm sure I can't thank you enough," went on the man, and his hand
sought his pocket. "You say you'll notify the livery keeper?"

"Yes, I'll tell him where his horse is, and he can send for it."

"That's very kind of you. I wish you'd let me give you something--reward
you for this service."

"No--no!" exclaimed Joe. "I couldn't think of it!" He saw a roll of
bills in the man's hand.

"But you don't know, young man, what it means for me to catch this
train. I wish you'd let me pay for your time and trouble----"

"No, indeed!" exclaimed the young pitcher. "I would do as much for
anyone, and I hope he'd do the same for me."

"That's a nice way of looking at it. But are you sure you won't let me
make you----" The man again held out some bills, but the look on Joe's
face must have told him he was getting on dangerous ground, for he
suddenly withdrew them and said:

"Well, I can't thank you enough. Some day--is that the train?" he cried,
as a puffing was heard. "I mustn't miss it now."

"Here we are!" cried Joe, swinging around a corner. Down a short street
was the depot, and as they came in sight of it the train pulled in.

"I--er--I wish--I must run for it!" exclaimed the man.

"Wait. I'll drive you right up!" called Joe. "I'll take your valise. You
get right out and run. Have you a ticket?"

"Yes. This is exceedingly good of you. I----"

But he did not finish. Joe drove the horse up to the platform edge as
the train came to a stop with a grinding of the brake shoes. The man
leaped out almost before the horse had ceased running, and Joe was not a
second behind him with the valise.

"Go on!" exclaimed the youth, as the man hesitated. He fairly flung
himself up the car steps, and the train began to move, for Preston was
little more than a flag station for the New York express.

"Thank you a thousand times!" cried the man as Joe handed up the
valise. "I wish--I didn't ask your name--mine is--I ought to have a
card--I--er----" he began fumbling in his pocket, and Joe half feared he
was going to offer money again. But the man seemed to be hunting for a
card.

However his search was unsuccessful. He waved his hand to Joe, and
called:

"Thank you once more. Perhaps I may meet you again. I meant to ask your
name--too much occupied--mine is----"

But just then the train gathered speed and the engineer, opening the
exhaust, effectually drowned out all other sounds in the puffing of the
locomotive. Joe saw the man's lips moving, and realized that he was
calling out his name, but he could not hear it. Then, with a wave of his
hand the stranger went inside the car. He had caught the train just in
time.



CHAPTER II

A HOME CONFERENCE


"Well, I wonder if I'll ever see him again," mused Joe, as the train
swung out of sight around a curve in the track. "It sure was a hustling
time. I wonder who he was? Seemed like some sort of an athlete, and yet
he didn't talk sports--nor much of anything, for that matter.

"I'm glad I could help him get his train. Funny he should want to pay
me, and yet I suppose he isn't used to having favors done him. He seemed
like a nice sort of fellow. Well, I've got to get over with these
patterns. I'll be late getting home, I expect."

Joe's first visit was to the livery stable, where he told the proprietor
of the accident.

"Hum! Well, I s'pose he was driving reckless like," said Mr. Munn, who
hired out old horses and older vehicles to such few of the townspeople
as did not have their own rigs.

"No, he was going slowly," said Joe. "I guess that wheel was pretty well
rotted."

"Mebby so. I'm glad I charged him a good price, and made him pay in
advance. Yes, I'll send out and get the rig. Much obliged to you, Joe.
Did he pay ye for bringin' him back?"

"No, I didn't want anything," and with this parting shot the young
pitcher went on his way.

And, while he is jogging along to Birchville, musing over the recent
happenings, I will, in a paragraph or two, tell you something more about
our hero, since he is to occupy that place in these pages.

Those of you who have read the previous books in this series, need no
introduction to the youth. But to those who pick up this volume to begin
their acquaintance, I might state that in the initial book, called
"Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars," I related how he first began his
upward climb as a pitcher.

Joe Matson lived with his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. John Matson,
in the town of Riverside, in one of our New England states. Mr. Matson
was an inventor of farming machinery, and after a hard struggle was now
doing well financially.

Joe's ambition, ever since he began to play baseball, had been to become
a pitcher, and how he made the acquaintance of Tom Davis, the boy living
back of him; how they became chums, and how Joe became a member of the
Silver Stars nine is told in my first book.

The nine was a typical one, such as is found in many country towns,
though they played good ball. After an upward struggle Joe was made
pitcher, and helped to win some big games. He made many friends, and
some enemies, as all boys will.

In the second volume, called "Baseball Joe on the School Nine," I told
how our hero and his chum, Tom Davis, went to Excelsior Hall, a boarding
institution just outside of Cedarhurst, about a hundred miles from
Riverside.

At school Joe found that it was more difficult to get a chance at his
favorite position than he had imagined it would be. There, too, he had
his enemies; but Joe was a plucky fighter, and would not give up. How
finally he was called on to pitch in a great game, and how he, more than
anyone else, helped to win the Blue Banner, you will find set down in my
second book.

Three years passed, all too quickly, at Excelsior Hall, with Joe doing
the twirling for the school nine at all the big games. And now, with the
coming of Fall, and the beginning of the new term, he was not to go
back, for, as I have intimated, he was to be sent to Yale University.

The course at Excelsior Hall was four years, but it was found that
at the end of the third Joe was able to take the Yale entrance
examinations, which he had done successfully. He did not enter with
flying colors, for Joe was no great scholar, but he was by no means at
the foot of the ladder.

So he was to plunge at once into the turmoil of university life--his one
regret being, as I have said, that he could not join the ranks of the
professional baseball players. But he was willing to bide his time.

Another regret, too, was that he would be very much of a stranger at
Yale. He did not know a soul there, and he wished with all his heart
that Tom Davis could have gone with him, as he had to Excelsior Hall.
But Tom's parents had other views of life for him.

"It doesn't seem like three years ago that I first started for
Excelsior," mused Joe, as he drove along. "I sure was nervous then, and
I'm in a worse funk now. Well, there's no help for it. I've got to stick
it out. No use disappointing dad and momsey. I only hope I make out half
way decently."

His errand accomplished, he drove back home, arriving rather late, and,
to his mother's anxious inquiries as to what kept him, he related the
happening of the broken carriage.

"And you don't know who he was?" asked Clara, Joe's sister, curiously.

"No, sis. Say, but you're looking pretty to-night! Got your hair fixed
differently, somehow. Somebody coming?" and playfully he pinched her
red cheeks.

"Yes, Mabel Davis is coming to call," replied Clara, pretending to be
very busy arranging some articles on the mantle.

"Oh, ho! So that's how the wind blows!" exclaimed Joe, with a laugh.
"But I'll wager someone besides Mabel is coming over. Tom Davis told me
to come and see him, Mabel is going out, you're all togged up--say, sis,
who's the lucky chap?"

"Oh, don't bother me!" exclaimed the blushing girl.

"That's all right. Tom and I will come around later and put a tic-tac on
the window, when you and Mabel, and the two chaps, are in the parlor."

"I thought you had gotten all over such childish tricks--and you a Yale
Freshman!" exclaimed Clara, half sarcastically.

"Well, I suppose I will have to pass 'em up--worse luck!" exclaimed her
brother, with something like a groan. "Have your fun, sis. It'll soon be
over."

"Oh, my! What a mournful face!" laughed the girl. "There, run along now,
little boy, and don't bother me."

Joe looked at her for a moment, and the conviction grew on him that his
sister was prettier than ever, with that blush on her face.

"Little sister is growing up," thought Joe, as he turned away. "She'll
be a young lady soon--she's growing up. Well, I guess we all are," and
our hero sighed as though he could scarcely bear the weight of
responsibility on his own shoulders.

This was after supper, and as Joe left the room, and Clara hastened to
her apartment, there to indulge in further "prinking," as Joe called it,
Mr. and Mrs. Matson looked at each other.

"What's getting into Joe, I wonder?" spoke his father. "He's acting
rather strange of late."

"Oh, I expect the responsibility of college life is making itself felt,"
said Mrs. Matson. "But I'm proud that I have a son who is going to Yale.
It is good you can afford it, John."

"Yes, Ellen, I am too. Education is a great thing, and a college course
does a lot for a young fellow. I never had the chance myself, but
perhaps it's just as well."

"I am determined that Joe shall have all the advantages we can give
him--and Clara, too," went on the wife. "I think Joe should be very
proud and happy. In a short time he will be attending one of the best
colleges in the world."

"Yet he doesn't seem very happy," said Mr. Matson, musingly.

"And I wonder why," went on his wife. "Of course I know he wasn't very
keen about going, when I proposed it, but he gave in. I'm sure it's
baseball that made him want to stay on at Excelsior Hall."

"Probably. Joe eats, sleeps and dreams baseball."

"I do wish he would get that idea of being a professional baseball
player out of his mind," went on Mrs. Matson, and her tone was a trifle
worried. "It is no career to choose for a young man."

"No, I suppose not," said her husband slowly. "And yet there are many
good men in professional baseball--some rich ones too, I guess," he
added with a shrewd laugh.

"As if money counted, John!"

"Well, it does in a way. We are all working for it, one way or another,
and if a man can earn it throwing a ball to another man, I don't see why
that isn't as decent and honorable as digging sewers, making machinery,
preaching, doctoring, being a lawyer or a banker. It all helps to make
the world go round."

"Oh, John! I believe you're as bad as Joe!"

"No, Ellen. Though I do like a good game of baseball. I don't think it's
the only thing there is, however, as Joe seems to, of late. I don't
altogether uphold him in his wish to be a professional, but, at the same
time, there's nothing like getting into the niche in life that you're
just fitted for.

"There are too many square pegs in round holes now. Many a poor
preacher would be a first-class farmer, and lots of struggling lawyers
or doctors would do a sight better in a shop, or, maybe even on the ball
field. Those sentiments aren't at all original with me," he added
modestly; "but they are true just the same. I'd like to see Joe do what
he likes best, for then I know he'd do that better than anything else in
the world."

"Oh, John! surely you wouldn't want to see him a professional ball
player?"

"Well, I don't know. There are lots worse positions in life."

"But I'm glad he's going to Yale!" exclaimed Mrs. Matson, as the little
family conference came to an end.



CHAPTER III

ONE LAST GAME


"Say, Tom, do you know what I've got a good notion to do?"

"Indeed I haven't, Joe, unless you're going to go out West and shoot
Indians, or some such crazy stunt as that."

"Forget it! But you know I've got to start for Yale in about another
week."

"That's right. The time is getting short. Excelsior opens four days from
now, but I'm not going to drill in with the first bunch. I don't have to
report quite so soon. I'm a Senior now, you know."

"So you are. I almost wish I was with you."

"Oh, nonsense! And you going to Yale! But what was it you started to
say?"

"Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Say, why can't we have one last game before
we have to leave town? One rattling good game of baseball to wind up the
season! I'd just love to get into a uniform again, and I guess you would
too. Can't we pick up enough of the old Silver Stars to make a nine,
with what we can induce to play from among the lads in town?"

"I guess so."

"Then let's do it. The Resolute team is still in existence, isn't it?"

"Yes, but I haven't kept much track of them. I've been away most all
Summer, you know."

"And so have I, but I think we could get up a game for Saturday. I
believe we could get quite a crowd, but we wouldn't charge admission.
What do you say?"

"I'm with you. It would be sport to have a game. I wonder how we can
arrange for it?"

"I've got to go over to Rocky Ford for dad to-day," went on Joe, "and
I'll see if I can't get in touch with some of the Resolutes. It may be
that they have a game on, and, again, they may have disbanded. But it's
worth trying. Then you see as many of the fellows here as you can, and
get up a nine. There ought to be five or six of the old Silver Stars
around."

"I'll do it! Wow! It will be sport to get on the diamond again before we
have to buckle down to the grind."

"I hope I haven't forgotten how to pitch," went on Joe. "Let's get a
ball and do a little practising out in the lots."

The two chums, somewhat older, more experienced and certainly better
players than when we first met them, three years before, were soon
tossing the ball back and forth, Joe warming up to his accustomed work
as a twirler.

"That was a beaut!" exclaimed Tom, who was catching.

"Did the curve break well?"

"Couldn't have been better. You'll fool 'em all right with that twist."

"I'm a little stiff yet. Well, let's see what we can do toward getting
up a game."

Joe went to Rocky Ford that afternoon, and was fortunate in finding the
new manager of the Resolutes, the one-time rivals of the Silver Stars.
The team had greatly changed, and had been strengthened by some new
players. They had not yet broken up for the season, and, as they had no
game on for Saturday, the manager readily agreed to come to Riverside
with his lads, and take on the Silver Stars in a sort of exhibition
contest.

"I suppose you'll pitch?" spoke the manager, as Joe was about to leave
for home.

"Yes, I want to. Why?"

"Nothing, only maybe we better handicap your team, or else you'd better
allow us half a dozen runs to start with," was the laughing answer.

"I'm not as formidable as all that," retorted Joe. "Are any of the old
boys playing yet?"

"Oh, yes, quite a few. There's Art Church, Lew Entry, Ted Neefus and
Hank Armstrong."

"I'll be glad to see 'em again," spoke Joe.

When he reached Riverside late that afternoon Tom met him and gleefully
informed his chum that he had been able to get up a nine.

"Then we'll have a game!" cried Joe. "Will you catch for me?"

"If you think I can."

"Sure you can. Wow! We'll have some fun."

The news of the coming game between the Silver Stars--or a team somewhat
representing them--and the Resolutes aroused considerable enthusiasm in
Riverside and the neighboring towns. There was a prospect of a large
throng, and when Saturday came--with as fine a specimen of weather as
heart could wish--there was a great outpouring of "fans."

The Silver Stars were first on the field, and though the team as then
constituted had never played together, still after a little practice
they got acquainted with each other, and were soon working in unison.

Joe and Tom formed the battery, and they seemed an effective combination
as they warmed up outside the diamond. Then the Resolutes arrived and
they, too, began their practice.

"We're going to have a big crowd," remarked Joe, as he saw the stands
filling, for Riverside boasted of a fairly good field, where the
semi-professional team held forth in the Summer. But the season was
about over now.

"It's like old times," remarked Tom. "Come on, now some hot ones to
finish up with, and then it'll be most time to call the game."

The details were arranged, the umpire chosen, the batting orders
submitted, and the teams came in off the field. The Silver Stars were to
bat last, and as Joe walked out to the mound to do the twirling, he was
greeted by many friends and acquaintances who had not seen him since the
Summer vacation had started. Some news of his prospective leaving for
Yale must have gotten around, for he was observed with curious, and
sometimes envious eyes.

"Joe's getting to be quite a boy," remarked Mr. Jacob Anderson, one of
Riverside's enthusiastic baseball supporters, to his friend, Mr. James
Blake.

"Yes, he's a wonderful pitcher, I hear. Seems sort of queer how the boys
grow up. Why, only a few years ago he was a small chap, playing around
the vacant lots."

"Yes, time does manage to scoot along," spoke the other. "Well, I guess
we'll see a good game."

As Joe and Tom paused for a brief consultation before opening the
performance, the catcher, glancing toward the grandstand, uttered a
surprised exclamation.

"What's the matter?" asked Joe.

"That fellow with my sister--I meant to tell you about him. He was over
to your house the other night, when he and sis, and Charlie Masterford
called on your sister."

"Oh, ho! So it was Charlie that Clara was fixing up for!" exclaimed Joe.
"I'll have some fun with her. I guess she's at the game to-day. But what
about the fellow with your sister?"

"He's a Yale man."

"A Yale man--you mean a graduate?"

"No, he goes there now--Sophomore I heard sis say. She was boasting
about him, but I didn't pay much attention. I meant to tell you, but I
forgot it."

"A Yale man," mused Joe.

"Yes, that's him, with the flower in his coat. Sort of a sport I guess.
Sis said he was on the nine, but I don't know where he plays. Like to
meet him? I don't know him myself, but I can get sis to present us. She
met him at some dance this Summer, and found he had relatives here he
intended to visit. She asked him to call--say, isn't it great how the
girls do that?--and he did--the other night. Then he must have made a
date with her. Like to meet him? Name's--let's see now--I did have it.
Oh, I remember, it's Weston--Ford Weston. Want to meet him after the
game?"

"No--I--I don't believe I do," said Joe slowly. "He may think I am sort
of currying favor. I'll wait until I get to Yale, and then, if I get the
chance, I'll meet him. He looks like a decent chap."

"Yes, Mabel is crazy about him," said Tom; "but all girls are that way I
guess. None for mine! Well, shall we start?"

The batter was impatiently tapping his stick on the home plate.

"Play ball!" called the umpire, and, as Joe walked to his place he gave
a glance toward where Mabel Davis sat with a tall, good-looking chap.

"A Yale man," mused Joe, "and on the nine. I wonder what he'll think of
my pitching?" and, somehow, our hero felt a bit nervous, and he wished
he had not known of the presence of the collegian. As he began winding
up to deliver the ball he fancied he detected an amused smile on the
face of Ford Weston.



CHAPTER IV

A SNEERING LAUGH


"Come on now, Art! Line one out!"

"A home run, old man! You can do it!"

"Slam one over the fence!"

"Poke it to the icehouse and come walking!"

"We've got the pitcher's goat already! Don't mind him, even if he is
going to college!"

These were only a few of the good-natured cries that greeted Art Church
as he stood at the home plate, waiting for Joe Matson to deliver the
ball. And, in like manner, Joe was gently gibed by his opponents, some
of whom had not faced him in some time. To others he was an unknown
quantity.

But even those newest members of the Resolutes had heard of Joe's
reputation, and there was not a little of the feeling in the visiting
nine that they were doomed to defeat through the opposing pitcher.

"Come on now, Art, it's up to you."

"Give him a fair chance, Joe, and he'll knock the cover off!"

"Play ball!" snapped the umpire, and Joe, who had been exchanging the
regulation practice balls with the catcher signalled that he was ready
to deliver the first one of the game. The catcher called for a slow out,
but Joe shook his head. He knew Art Church of old, and remembered that
this player fairly "ate 'em up." Joe gave the signal to Tom that he
would send a swift in-shoot, and his chum nodded comprehendingly.

"Ball one!" yelled the umpire, and Joe could not restrain a start of
surprise. True, Art had not swung at the horsehide, but it had easily
clipped the plate, and, Joe thought, should have been called a strike.
But he said nothing, and, delivering the same sort of a ball the next
time, he had the satisfaction of deceiving the batter, who swung
viciously at it.

"He's only trying you out!" was shouted at Joe. "He'll wallop the next
one!"

But Art Church did not, and waiting in vain for what he considered a
good ball, he struck at the next and missed, while the third strike was
called on him without his getting a chance to move his bat.

"Oh, I guess the umpire isn't against us after all," thought Joe, as he
threw the ball over to first while the next batter was coming up.

"How's that?" yelled Tom in delight. "Guess there aren't going to be any
home runs for you Resolutes."

"Oh, it's early yet," answered the visiting captain.

But the Resolutes were destined to get no runs in that half-inning. One
man popped up a little fly, which was easily taken care of, and the next
man Joe struck out cleanly.

He was beginning to feel that he was getting in form again. All that
Spring he had pitched fine games at Excelsior Hall, but, during the
Summer vacation, at the close of the boarding school, he had gone a bit
stale. He could feel it himself. His muscles were stiff from lack of
use, and he had not the control of the ball, which was one of his strong
points. Neither could he get up the speed which had always been part of
his assets, and which, in after years, made him such a power in the big
league.

Still Joe felt that he was doing fairly well, and he knew that, as the
game went on, and he warmed up, he would do better.

"We ought to win," he told Tom Davis, as they walked to the bench. "That
is if we get any kind of support, and if our fellows can hit their
pitcher. What sort of a chap is he?"

"Don't know much about him. He's been at it all Summer though, and ought
to be in pretty good practice. We'll soon tell. Len Oswald is first
up."

But that was all Len did--get up. He soon sat down again, not having hit
the ball.

"Oh, I guess we've got some pitcher!" yelled the Resolutes.

"Even if he isn't going to college!" added someone, and Joe felt his
face burn. He was not at all puffed up over the fact that he was going
to Yale, and he disliked exceedingly to get that reputation--so
unjustly. But he did not protest.

When the second man went out without getting to first base, it looked
as if the contest was going to be a close one, and there began to be
whispers of a "pitchers' battle."

"'Pitchers' battle' nothing!" exclaimed Joe in a whisper to Tom. "That
fellow can't curve a ball. I've been watching him. He's got a very fast
straight delivery, and that's how he's fooling 'em. I'm going to hit
him, and so can the rest of us if we don't let him bluff. Just stand
close up to the plate and plug it. Who comes next?"

"Percy Parnell."

"Oh, wow! Well, unless he's improved a whole lot he won't do much."

But Percy had, for the next moment he got the ball just where he wanted
it, and slammed it out for a three bagger amid enthusiastic howls. Then
the other Silver Star players became aware of the opposing pitcher's
weakness and began hitting him, until three runs had come in. Then, in
response to the frantic appeals of the "rooters" and their own captain,
the Resolutes took a brace and halted the winning streak. But it had
begun, and nothing could stop it.

Joe, much elated that his diagnosis of his opponent had been borne out,
again took his place in the box. He determined to show what he could do
in the way of pitching, having done some warming-up work with Tom during
the previous inning.

He struck out the first man cleanly, and the second likewise. The third
hit him for two fouls, and then, seeming to have become familiar with
Joe's style, whacked out one that was good for two bases.

"We're finding him! We're finding him!" yelled the excited Resolutes.
"Only two down, and we've got a good hitter coming."

Joe saw that his fellow players were getting a little "rattled," fearing
perhaps that he was going to pieces, so, to delay the game a moment, and
pull himself together, he walked toward home, and pretended to have a
little conference with the catcher.

In reality they only mumbled meaningless words, for Tom knew Joe's trick
of old. But the little break seemed to have a good effect, for the
young pitcher struck out the next man and no runs came in.

"Oh, I guess yes!" cried the Silver Star crowd.

The home team got two runs the next inning, and with goose eggs in their
opponents' frame it began to look more like a one-sided contest.

"Boys, we've got to wallop 'em!" exclaimed the visiting captain
earnestly, as they once more came to bat.

Joe's arm was beginning to feel the unaccustomed strain a trifle, and to
limber up the muscles he "wound-up" with more motions and elaborateness
than usual as he again took the mound. As he did so he heard from the
grandstand a loud laugh--a laugh that fairly bubbled over with sneering,
caustic mirth, and a voice remarked, loud enough for our hero to hear:

"I wonder where he learned that wild and weird style of pitching? He'll
fall all apart if he doesn't look out!"

He cast a quick glance in the direction of the voice and saw Ford
Weston, who sat beside Mabel Davis, fairly doubled up with mirth. Mabel
seemed to be remonstrating with him.

"Don't break your arm!" called Ford, laughing harder than before.

"Hush!" exclaimed Mabel.

Joe felt the dull red of shame and anger mounting to his cheeks.

"So that's a Yale man," he thought. "And I'm going to Yale. I wonder if
they're all like that there? I--I hope not."

And, for the life of him, Joe could not help feeling a sense of anger at
the youth who had so sneeringly laughed at him.

"And he's a Yale man--and on the nine," mused Joe.



CHAPTER V

OFF FOR YALE


"We've got the game in the refrigerator--on ice."

"Take it easy now, Silver Stars."

"Let 'em get a few runs if they want to."

Thus spoke some of the spectators, and a number of the members of the
home team, as the last half of the seventh inning started with the score
ten to three in favor of the Silver Stars. It had not been a very tight
contest on either side, and errors were numerous. Yet, in spite of the
sneering laugh of the Yale man, Joe knew that he had pitched a good
game. They had hit him but seldom, and one run was due to a muffed ball
by the centre fielder.

"Well, I guess you haven't forgotten how to pitch," exulted Tom, as he
sat beside his chum on the bench.

Behind them, and over their heads, sat the spectators in the grandstand,
and when the applause at a sensational catch just made by the left
fielder, retiring the third man, had died away the voices of many in
comment on the game could be heard.

"Oh, I'm not so very proud of myself," remarked Joe. "I can see lots of
room for improvement. But I'm all out of practice. I think I could have
held 'em down better if we'd had a few more games to back us up."

"Sure thing. Well, this is a good way to wind up the season. I heard a
little while ago that the Resolutes came over here to make mince-meat of
us. They depended a whole lot on their pitcher, but you made him look
like thirty cents."

"Oh, I don't know. He's got lots of speed, and if he had the benefit of
the coaching we got at Excelsior Hall he'd make a dandy."

"Maybe. I'm going over here to have a chin with Rodney Burke. I won't be
up for a good while."

"And I guess I won't get a chance this inning," remarked Joe, as he
settled back on the bench. As he did so he was aware of a conversation
going on in the stand over his head.

"And you say he's going to Yale this term?" asked someone--a youth's
deep-chested tones.

"I believe so--yes," answered a girl. Joe recognized that Mabel Davis
was speaking. "He's a chum of my brother's," she went on.

"They're talking of me," thought Joe, and he looked apprehensively at
his companions on the bench, but they seemed to be paying no attention
to him, for which he was grateful. They were absorbed in the game.

"Going to Yale; eh?" went on the youth's voice, and Joe felt sure he was
Ford Weston. "Well, we eat his kind up down there!"

"Hush! You mustn't talk so of my friends," warned Mabel, and yet she
laughed.

"Oh, if he's a friend of yours, that's different," came the retort.
"You're awful strong with me, Mabel, and I'd do anything you asked."

The girl laughed in a pleased sort of way, and Joe, with a wild feeling
in his heart, felt a certain scorn for both of them.

"Yes, he and my brother are chums," resumed Mabel. "They went to
boarding school together, but Joe is going to Yale. He is just crazy
about baseball--in fact Tom is, too, but Joe wants to be a great
pitcher."

"Does he think he's going to pitch at Yale?"

"I believe he does!"

"Then he's got a whole lot more thinks coming!" laughed the Yale man.
"He's about the craziest specimen of a tosser I ever stacked up against.
He'll never make the Yale scrub!"

"Hush! Haven't I told you not to talk so about my friend?" insisted the
girl, but there was still laughter in her tones.

"All right Miss Mabel. I'll do anything you say. Wow! That was a pretty
hit all right. Go it, old man! A three-bagger!" and in the enthusiasm
over the game the Yale man dropped Joe as a topic of conversation.

Our hero, with burning cheeks, got up and strolled away. He had heard
too much, but he was glad they did not know he had unintentionally been
listening.

The game ended with the Silver Stars winners, but the score was not as
close as seemed likely in the seventh inning. For the Resolutes, most
unexpectedly, began hitting Joe, though he managed to pull himself
together in the ninth, and retired his opponents hitless. The last half
of the ninth was not played, as the home team had a margin of two runs.

"Well, we did 'em," remarked Tom, as he and Joe walked off the field.
"But they sort of pulled up on us. Did they get on to your curves?"

"No," spoke Joe listlessly. "I--er--I got a little tired I guess."

"No wonder. You're not in trim. But you stiffened up at the last."

"Oh, yes," but Joe knew it was not weariness that accounted for his
being hit so often. It was because of an inward rage, a sense of shame,
and, be it confessed, a bit of fear.

For well he knew how little it would take, in such a college as Yale,
to make or mar a man. Should he come, heralded perhaps by the unfriendly
tongue of the lad who had watched him pitch that day--heralded as one
with a "swelled head"--as one who thought himself a master-pitcher--Joe
knew he could never live it down.

"I'll never get my chance--the chance for the 'varsity--if he begins to
talk," mused Joe, and for a time he was miserable.

"Come on over to grub," invited Tom. "Sis and her latest find will be
there--that Yale chap. Maybe you'd like to meet him. If you don't we can
sneak in late and there'll be some eats left."

"No, thanks, I don't believe I will," replied Joe listlessly.

"Don't you want to meet that Yale fellow? Maybe he could give you some
points."

"No, I'd rather not."

"All right," assented Tom quickly. Something in his chum's tones made
him wonder what was the matter, but he did not ask.

"I've got some packing to do," went on Joe, conscious that he was not
acting very cordially toward his old schoolmate. "I may see you later."

"Sure, any time. I'll be on hand to see you off for Yale, old man."

"Yale!" whispered Joe, as he swung off toward his own home,
half-conscious of the pointing fingers and whispered comments of a
number of street urchins who were designating him as "dat's de pitchin'
guy what walloped de Resolutes!"

"Yale!" thought Joe. "I'm beginning to hate it!"

And then a revulsion of feeling suddenly came over him.

"Hang it all!" he exclaimed as he stumbled along. "This is no way for a
fellow to feel if he's going to college. I've got to perk up. If I am to
go to Yale, I'm going to do my best to be worth it!"

But something rankled in his heart, and, try as he might he could not
help clenching his teeth and gripping his hands as he thought of Ford
Weston.

"I--I'd like to fight him!" murmured Joe. "I wonder if they allow fights
at Yale?"

Several days later you might have heard this in the Matson home.

"Well, Joe, have you got everything packed?"

"Don't forget to send me a flag."

"You've got your ticket all right, haven't you?"

"Write as soon as you get there."

"And whatever you do, don't go around with wet feet. It's coming on
Winter now----"

"Mother! Mother!" broke in Mr. Matson, with a laugh at his wife and
daughter on either side of Joe, questioning and giving advice by turns.
"You're like hens with one chicken. Don't coddle him so. He's been away
before, and he's getting big enough to know his way around by this
time."

Well might he say so, for Joe had grown fast in the past three years,
and, though but nineteen, was taller than his father, who was not a
small man.

"Of course he's been away," agreed Mrs. Matson, "but not as far as New
Haven, and going to Yale is some different from Excelsior Hall, I
guess."

"I _know_ so," murmured Joe, with a wink at his father.

"I'm going to the station with you," declared Clara. "Here comes Tom. I
guess he's going, too."

"Well, I'll say good-bye here," said Mrs. Matson, and her voice trembled
a little. "Good-bye, my boy. I know you'll do what's right, and make us
all proud of you!"

Joe's answer was a kiss, and then, with her handkerchief much in
evidence, Mrs. Matson left the room.

"Come! Come!" laughed Mr. Matson. "You'll make Joe sorry he's going if
you keep on."

"The only thing I'm sorry about," replied the lad, "is that it'll be a
good while until Spring."

"Baseball; eh?" queried his father. "Well, I suppose you'll play if you
get the chance. But, Joe, just remember that life isn't all baseball,
though that has its place in the scheme of things. You're not going to
Yale just to play baseball."

"But, if I get a chance, I'm going to play my head off!" exclaimed the
lad, and, for the first time in some days there came a fierce light of
joy into his eyes.

"That's the spirit, son," exclaimed Mr. Matson. "And just remember that,
while you want to win, it isn't the only point in the game. Always be a
gentleman--play hard; but play clean! That's all the advice I'm going to
give you," and with a shake of his hand the inventor followed his wife
from the room.

"Well, I guess I'm going to be left alone to do the honors," laughed
Clara. "Come on now, it's almost train time. Oh, hello, Tom!" she added,
as Joe's chum entered. "Did you bring any extra handkerchiefs with you?"

"Say I'll pull your hairpins out, Clara, if you don't quit fooling!"
threatened her brother.

Joe's baggage, save for a small valise, had been sent on ahead, and
now, calling a good-bye to his parents, but not going to them, for
he realized that it would only make his mother cry more, the young
collegian, escorted by his sister and chum, started for the station.

Our hero found a few of his friends gathered there, among them Mabel
Davis.

"And so you're off for Yale," she remarked, and Joe noticed that she
too, like his sister, seemed to have "grown up" suddenly in the last
year. Mabel was quite a young lady now.

"Yes, I'm off," replied Joe, rather coldly.

"Oh, I think it's just grand to go to a big college," went on Mabel. "I
wish papa would let Tom go."

"I wish so myself," chimed in her brother.

"I know one Yale man," went on Mabel. "I met him this Summer. He was at
the game the other day. I could write to him, and tell him you are
coming."

"Please don't!" exclaimed Joe so suddenly that Mabel drew back, a little
offended.

"Wa'al, I want to shake hands with you, an' wish you all success,"
exclaimed a voice at Joe's elbow. He turned to see Mr. Ebenezer
Peterkin, a neighbor. "So you're off for college. I hear they're great
places for football and baseball! Ha! Ha! 'Member th' time you throwed a
ball through our winder, and splashed Alvirah's apple sass all over her
clean stove? 'Member that, Joe?"

"Indeed I do, Mr. Peterkin. And how you told Tom and me to hurry off, as
your wife was coming after us."

"That's right! Ha! Ha! Alvirah was considerable put out that day. She'd
just got her stove blacked, an' that sass was some of her best. Th'
ball landed plump into it! 'Member?" and again the old man chuckled with
mirth.

"I remember," laughed Joe. "And how Tom and I blackened the stove, and
helped clean up the kitchen for your wife. I was practising pitching
that day."

"Oh, yes, you _pitched_ all right," chuckled the aged man. "Wa'al, Joe,
I wish you all sorts of luck, an' if you do pitch down there at Yale,
don't go to splattering no apple sass!"

"I won't," promised the lad.

There were more congratulations, more wishes for success, more hand
shakings and more good-byes, and then the whistle of the approaching
train was heard. Somehow Joe could not but remember the day he had
driven the man to the station just in time to get his train. He wondered
if he would ever see that individual again.

"Good-bye, Joe!"

"So long, old man!"

"Don't forget to write!"

"Play ball!"

"Good-bye, Joe!"

Laughter, cheers, some tears too, but not many, waving hands, and amid
all this Joe entered the train. He waved back as long as he could see
any of them, and then he settled back in his seat.

He was off for Yale--for Yale, with all its traditions, its mysteries,
its learning and wiseness, its sports and games, its joys and
sorrows--its heart-burnings and its delights, its victories--and
defeats! Off for Yale. Joe felt his breath choking him, and into his
eyes there came a mist as he gazed out of the window. Off for Yale--and
baseball!



CHAPTER VI

ON THE CAMPUS


Joe Matson gazed about him curiously as the train drew into the New
Haven station. He wondered what his first taste of Yale life was going
to be like, and he could not repress a feeling of nervousness.

He had ridden in the end car, and he was not prepared for what happened
as the train drew to a slow stop. For from the other coaches there
poured a crowd of students--many Freshmen like himself but others
evidently Sophomores, and a sprinkling of Juniors and the more lordly
Seniors. Instantly the place resounded to a din, as friends met friends,
and as old acquaintances were renewed.

"Hello, Slab!"

"Where have you been keeping yourself, Pork Chops!"

"By jinks! There's old Ham Fat!"

"Come on, now! Get in line!"

This from one tall lad to others, evidently from the same preparatory
school. "Show 'em what we can do!"

"Hi there, Freshies! Off with those hats!"

This from a crowd of Sophomores who saw the newly-arrived first-year
lads.

"Don't you do it! Keep your lids on!"

"Oh, you will!" and there was a scrimmage in which the offending
headgear of many was sent spinning. Joe began to breathe deeply and
fast. If this was a taste of Yale life he liked it. Somewhat Excelsior
Hall it was, but bigger--broader.

Gripping his valise, he climbed down the steps, stumbling in his
eagerness. On all sides men crowded around him and the others who were
alighting.

"Keb! Carriage! Hack! Take your baggage!"

Seeing others doing the same, Joe surrendered his valise to an insistent
man. As he moved out of the press, wondering how he was to get to the
house where he had secured a room, he heard someone behind him fairly
yell in his ear:

"Oh ho! Fresh.! Off with that hat!"

He turned to see two tall, well-dressed lads, in somewhat "swagger"
clothes, arms linked, walking close behind him. Remembering the fate of
the others, Joe doffed his new derby, and smiled.

"That's right," complimented the taller of the two Sophomores.

"Glad you think so," answered Joe.

"Well?" snapped the other Sophomore sharply.

"Glad you think so," repeated our hero.

"Well?" rasped out the first.

Joe looked from one to the other in some bewilderment. He knew there was
some catch, and that he had not answered categorically, but for the
moment he forgot.

"Put the handle on," he was reminded, and then it came to him.

"Sir," he added with a smile.

"Right, Freshie. Don't forget your manners next time," and the two went
swinging along, rolling out the chorus of some class song.

The confusion increased. More students poured from the train,
overwhelming the expressmen with their demands and commands. The hacks
and carriages were being rapidly filled. Orders were being shouted back
and forth. Exuberance was on every side.

"Oh ho! This way, Merton!" yelled someone, evidently a signal for the
lads from that school to assemble.

"Over here, Lisle!"

"There's Perk!"

"Yes, and who's he got with him?"

"Oh, some Fresh. Come on, you goat. I'm hungry!"

Joe felt himself exulting, after all, that he was to be a part of this
throbbing, pulsating life--part of the great college. He hung back,
friendless and alone, and it was borne on him with a rush just how
friendless and alone he was when he saw so many others greeted by
friends and mates. With all his heart Joe wished he had come up from
some preparatory school, where he would have had classmates with him.
But it was too late now.

He made up his mind that he would walk to his rooming house, not because
he wanted to save the carriage hire, but he would have to get in a hack
all alone, and he was afraid of the gibes and taunts that might be
hurled at the lone Freshman. He had engaged the room in advance, and
knew it would be in readiness. Later he intended to join one of the many
eating clubs for his meals, but for the present he expected to patronize
a restaurant, for the rooming house did not provide commons.

"I'll walk," decided Joe, and, inquiring the way from a friendly
hackman, he started off. As he did so he was aware of a tall lad
standing near him, and, at the mention of the street Joe designated,
this lad started, and seemed about to speak.

For a moment Joe, noticing that he, too, was alone, was tempted to
address him. And then, being naturally diffident, and in this case
particularly so, he held back.

"He may be some stand-offish chap," reasoned Joe, "and won't like it.
I'll go a bit slow."

He swung away from the station, glad to be out of the turmoil, but for a
time it followed him, the streets being filled with students afoot and
in vehicles. The calling back and forth went on, until, following the
directions he had received, Joe turned down a quieter thoroughfare.

"That must be the college over there," he said after he had swung across
the city common, and saw looming up in the half mist of the early
September night, the piles of brick and stone. "Yale College--and I'm
going there!"

He paused for a moment to contemplate the structures, and a wave of
sentimental feeling surged up into his heart. He saw the outlines of the
elms--the great elms of Yale.

Joe passed on, and, as he walked, wondering what lay before him, he
could not help but think of the chances--the very small chances he
had--in all that throng of young men--to make the 'varsity nine.

"There are thousands of fellows here," mused Joe, "and all of them may
be as good as I. Of course not all of them want to get on the nine--and
fewer want to pitch. But--Oh, I wonder if I can make it? I wonder----"

It was getting late. He realized that he had better go to his room, and
see about supper. Then in the morning would come reporting at college
and arranging about his lectures--and the hundred and one things that
would follow.

"I guess I've got time enough to go over and take a look at the place,"
he mused. "I can hike it a little faster to my shack after I take a
peep," he reasoned. "I just want to see what I'm going to stack up
against."

He turned and started toward the stately buildings in the midst of the
protecting elms. Other students passed him, talking and laughing, gibing
one another. All of them in groups--not one alone as was Joe.
Occasionally they called to him as they passed:

"Off with that hat, Fresh.!"

He obeyed without speaking, and all the while the loneliness in his
heart was growing, until it seemed to rise up like some hard lump and
choke him.

"But I won't! I won't!" he told himself desperately. "I won't give in.
I'll make friends soon! Oh, if only Tom were here!"

He found himself on the college campus. Pausing for a moment to look
about him, his heart welling, he heard someone coming from the rear.
Instinctively he turned, and in the growing dusk he thought he saw a
familiar figure.

"Off with that hat, Fresh.!" came the sharp command.

Joe was getting a little tired of it, but he realized that the only
thing to do was to obey.

"All right," he said, listlessly.

"All right, what?" was snapped back at him.

For a moment Joe did not answer.

"Come on, Fresh.!" cried the other, taking a step toward him.
"Quick--all right--what?"

"Sir!" ripped out Joe, as he turned away.

A moment later from a distant window there shone a single gleam of light
that fell on the face of the other lad. Joe started as he beheld the
countenance of Ford Weston--the youth who had laughed at his pitching.

"That's right," came in more mollified tones from the Sophomore. "Don't
forget your manners at Yale, Fresh.! Or you may be taught 'em in a way
you won't like," and with an easy air of assurance, and an insulting,
domineering swagger, Weston took himself off across the campus.



CHAPTER VII

A NEW CHUM


For a moment Joe stood there, his heart pounding away under his ribs,
uncertain what to do--wondering if the Sophomore had recognized him.
Then, as the other gave no sign, but continued on his way, whistling
gaily, Joe breathed easier.

"The cad!" he whispered. "I'd like to--to----" He paused. He remembered
that he was at Yale--that he was a Freshman and that he was supposed to
take the insults of those above him--of the youth who had a year's
advantage over him in point of time.

"Yes, I'm a Freshman," mused Joe, half bitterly. "I'm supposed to take
it all--to grin and bear it--for the good of my soul and conscience, and
so that I won't get a swelled head. Well," he concluded with a whimsical
smile, "I guess there's no danger."

He looked after the retreating figure of the Sophomore, now almost lost
in the dusk that enshrouded the campus, and then he laughed softly.

"After all!" he exclaimed, "it's no more than I've done to the lads at
Excelsior Hall. I thought it was right and proper then, and I suppose
these fellows do here. Only, somehow, it hurts. I--I guess I'm getting
older. I can't appreciate these things as I used to. After all, what is
there to it? There's too much class feeling and exaggerated notion about
one's importance. It isn't a man's game--though it may lead to it. I'd
rather be out--standing on my own feet.

"Yes, out playing the game with men--the real game--I want to get more
action than this," and he looked across at the college buildings, now
almost deserted save for a professor or two, or small groups of students
who were wandering about almost as disconsolately as was Joe himself.

"Oh, well!" he concluded. "I'm here, and I've got to stay at least for
mother's sake, and I'll do the best I can. I'll grin and bear it. It
won't be long until Spring, and then I'll see if I can't make good. I'm
glad Weston didn't recognize me. It might have made it worse. But he's
bound to know, sooner or later, that I'm the fellow he saw pitch that
day, and, if he's like the rest of 'em I suppose he'll have the story
all over college. Well, I can't help it." And with this philosophical
reflection Joe turned and made his way toward his rooming house.

It was a little farther than he had thought, and he was a bit sorry he
had not selected one nearer the college. There were too many students
to permit all of them to dwell in the dormitories proper, and many
sought residences in boarding places and in rooming houses, and dined at
students' clubs.

"I suppose I'll have to hunt up some sort of an eating joint," mused
Joe, as he plodded along. "I'd be glad to get in with some freshmen who
like the baseball game. It'll be more sociable. I'll have to be on the
lookout."

As he rang the bell of the house corresponding in number to the one he
had selected as his rooming place, the door was cautiously opened a
trifle, the rattling of a chain showing that it was secure against
further swinging. A rather husky voice asked:

"Well?"

Joe looked, and saw himself being regarded by a pair of not very
friendly eyes, while a tousled head of hair was visible in the light
from a hall lamp that streamed from behind it.

"I--er--I believe I'm to room here," went on Joe. "Matson is my name.
I'm a Freshman----"

"Oh, that's all right. Come in!" and the tone was friendly at once. "I
thought it was some of those sneaking Sophs., so I had the chain on.
Come in!" and the portal was thrown wide, while Joe's hand was caught in
a firm grip.

"Are you--er--do you run this place?" asked Joe.

"Not yet, but I'm going to do my best at it as soon as I get wise to the
ropes. You can help--you look the right stuff."

"Aren't you the--er--the proprietor?" asked our hero, rather puzzled for
the right word.

"Not exactly," was the reply, "but I'm going to be one of 'em soon.
Hanover is my name--Ricky Hanover they used to call me at Tampa. I'll
allow you the privilege. I'm a Fresh. like yourself. I'm going to room
here. Arrived yesterday. I've got a room on the first floor, near the
door, and it's going to be so fruity for those Sophs. to rout me out
that I got a chain and put it on. The old man said he didn't care."

"The old man?" queried Joe.

"Yes, Hopkins, Hoppy for short--the fellow that owns this place--he and
his wife."

"Oh, yes, the people from whom I engaged my room," spoke Joe
understandingly. "I think I'm on the second floor," he went on.

"Wrong guess--come again," said Ricky Hanover with a grin, as he
carefully replaced the chain. "There's been a wing shift, so Mrs. Hoppy
told me. She's expecting you, but she's put you downstairs, in a big
double room next to mine. Hope you won't mind. Your trunk is there, and
your valise just came--at least I think it's yours--J. M. on it."

"Yes, that's mine."

"I had it put in for you."

"Thanks."

"Come on, and I'll show you the ropes. If those Sophs. come----"

"Are they likely to?" asked Joe, scenting the joy of a battle thus early
in his career.

"They might. Someone tried to rush the door just before you came,
but the chain held and I gave 'em the merry ha-ha! But they'll be
back--we'll get ours and we'll have to take it."

"I suppose so. Well, I don't mind. I've been through it before."

"That so? Where are you from?"

"Excelsior Hall."

"Never heard of it. That's nothing. I don't s'pose you could throw a
stone and hit Tampa School?"

"Probably not," laughed Joe, forming an instinctive liking for this new
chap.

"Right. Tampa hardly knows it's on the map, but it isn't a half bad
place. Ah, here's Mamma Hoppy now. You don't mind if I call you that; do
you?" asked Ricky, as a motherly-looking woman advanced down the hall
toward the two lads.

"Oh, I guess I've been at this long enough not to mind a little thing
like that," she laughed. "You college men can't bother me as long as you
don't do anything worse than that. Let me see, this is----"

"Matson, ma'am," spoke our hero. "Joe Matson. I wrote to you----"

"Oh, yes, I remember. I have quite a number of new boys coming in. I'm
sorry, but the room I thought I could let you have isn't available. The
ceiling fell to-day, so I have transferred you downstairs. It's a double
room, and I may have to put someone in with you. If you think----"

"Oh, that's all right," interrupted Joe good-naturedly, "I don't mind.
I'll be glad to have a room-mate."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Hopkins, in relieved tones. "I can't say just now
who it will be."

"Never mind!" broke in Ricky. "Have you grubbed?"

"No," replied the newcomer. "I was thinking of going to a restaurant."

"Come along then. I'm with you. I haven't fed my face yet. We'll go down
to Glory's place and see the bunch."

Joe recognized the name as that of a famous New Haven resort, much
frequented by the college lads, and, while I have not used the real
designation, and while I shall use fictitious names for other places
connected with the college, those who know their Yale will have no
difficulty in recognizing them.

"Come on to Glory's," went on Ricky. "It's a great joint."

"Wait until I slip on a clean collar," suggested Joe, and a little later
he and Ricky were tramping along the streets, now agleam with electric
lights, on their way to the famous resort.

It was filled with students, from lordly Seniors, who scarcely noticed
those outside of their class, to the timid Freshmen. Joe looked on in
undisguised delight. After all, Yale might be more to him than he had
anticipated.

"Like to go a rabbit?" suggested Ricky.

"A rabbit?" asked Joe. "I didn't know they were in season?"

"The Welsh variety," laughed Ricky. "They're great with a mug of ale,
they say, only I cut out the ale."

"Same here," admitted Joe. "Yes, I'll go one. It's made of cheese, isn't
it?"

"And other stuff. Great for making you dream. Come on, this is the
Freshmen table over here. I was in this morning."

"Do they have tables for each class."

"They don't--I mean the management doesn't, but I guess it would be as
much as your hair was worth to try to buck in where you didn't belong.
Know anybody here?"

"Not a soul--wish I did."

"I didn't when I came this morning, but there are some nice fellows at
the Red Shack."

"Red Shack?" Joe looked puzzled.

"Yes, that's our hang-out. It's painted red."

"Oh, I see."

"There are a couple of 'em now," went on Ricky, who seemed perfectly
at ease in his comparatively new surroundings. He was a lad who made
friends easily, Joe decided. "Hi, Heller, plow over here!" Ricky called
to a tall lad who was working his way through the throng. "Bring Jones
along with you. They're both at our shack," he went on in a low voice to
Joe. "Shake hands with Matson--he's one of us chickens," he continued,
and he presented the newcomers as though he had known them all their
lives.

"You seem at home," remarked Jones, who was somewhat remarkable for his
thinness.

"I am--Slim!" exclaimed Ricky. "I say, you don't mind if I call you
that; do you?" he asked. "That's what the other fellows do; isn't it?"

"Yes. How'd you guess it?" asked Jones, with a laugh.

"Easy. I'm Ricky--Richard by rights, but I don't like it. Call me
Ricky."

"All right, I will," agreed Slim Jones.

"I'm Hank Heller, if you're going in for names," came from the other
youth, while Joe had to admit that his appellation was thus shortened
from Joseph.

"Well, now we know each other let's work our jaws on something besides
words," suggested Ricky. "Here, do we get waited on, Alphonse?" he
called to a passing waiter.

Joe thought he had never been in such a delightful place, nor in such
fine company. It was altogether different from life at Excelsior Hall,
and though there were scenes that were not always decorous from a strict
standpoint, yet Joe realized that he was getting farther out on the sea
of life, and must take things as they came. But he resolved to hold a
proper rein on himself, and, though deep in his heart he had no real
love for college life, he determined to do his best at it.

The meal was a delightful one. New students were constantly coming
in, and the place was blue with smoke from many cigars, pipes and
cigarettes. Ricky smoked, as did Hank Heller, but Slim Jones confessed
that it was a habit he had not yet acquired, in which he was like Joe.

"Say, we're going to have some fun at our joint," declared Ricky on
their way back, at a somewhat late hour. "We'll organize an eating club,
or join one, and we'll have some sport. We'll be able to stand off the
Sophs. better, too, by hanging together. When the Red Shack gets full
we'll do some organizing ourselves. No use letting the Sophs. have
everything."

"That's right," agreed Joe.

As they passed along the now somewhat quiet streets they were
occasionally hailed by parties of hilarious Sophomores with the command:

"Take off your hats, Freshies!"

They obeyed, perforce, for they did not want to get the name of
insurgents thus early in the term.

"Come in and have a talk," invited Ricky, as they entered the rooming
house. "It's early yet."

"Guess I'll turn in," confessed Hank. "I'm tired."

"I'll go you for awhile," agreed Slim.

"How about you, Joe?"

"No, I want to unpack a bit. See you in the morning."

"All right. We'll go to chapel together."

As Joe entered his new room, and turned on the light, he saw a figure in
one of the beds. For a moment he was startled, having forgotten that he
was to share the room with someone. The youth turned over and gazed at
Joe.

"Oh!" he exclaimed with a rather pleasant laugh. "I meant to sit up
until you came back, to explain, but I guess I fell asleep. Mrs. Hopkins
said you had no objections to a partner, and this was the only place
available."

"Not at all!" exclaimed Joe cordially. "Glad you came in. It's lonesome
rooming alone."

"You're Matson; aren't you?" asked the youth in bed.

"Yes."

"My name is Poole--Burton Poole."

Then, for the first time Joe recognized the lad he had seen standing all
alone on the depot platform--the one to whom he had been inclined to
speak--but from which impulse he had held himself back.



CHAPTER VIII

AMBITIONS


"Shake hands!" exclaimed Joe, as he stepped over to the bed, on which
the other raised himself, the clothes draping around him. Then Joe saw
how well built his new room-mate was--the muscles of his arms and
shoulders standing out, as his pajamas tightened across his chest.

"Glad to know you," greeted Poole. "You are sure you don't mind my
butting in?"

"Not at all. Glad of your company. I hate to be alone. I wish you'd come
in a bit earlier, and you could have gone down to Glory's with us."

"Wish I had. I've heard of the place, but as a general rule I like a
quieter shack to eat."

"Same here," confessed Joe. "We're talking of starting a feeding joint
of our own--the Freshmen here--or of joining one. Are you with us?"

"Sure thing. Do you know any of the fellows here?"

"Three--in our shack. I just met them to-night. They seem all to the
good."

"Glad to hear it. I'll fill in anywhere I can."

"Well, I'm going to fill in bed--right now!" asserted Joe with a yawn.
"I'm dead tired. It's quite a trip from my place, and we've got to go to
chapel in the morning."

"That's so. Are you a sound sleeper?"

"Not so very. Why?"

"I am, and I forgot to bring an alarm clock. I always need one to get me
up."

"I can fix you," replied Joe. "I've got one that would do in place of a
gong in a fire-house. I'll set it going." And from his trunk, after
rummaging about a bit, he pulled a large-sized clock, noiseless as to
ticking, but with a resonant bell that created such a clamor, when Joe
set it to tinkling, that Ricky Hanover came bursting in.

"What's the joke?" he demanded, half undressed. "Let me in on it."

"The alarm clock," explained Joe. "My new chum was afraid he'd be late
to chapel. Ricky, let me make you acquainted with Mr. Poole."

"Glad to know you," spoke Ricky. "Got a handle?"

"A what?"

"Nickname. I always think it's easier to get acquainted with a fellow if
he's got one. It isn't so stiff."

"Maybe you're right. Well, the fellows back home used to call me
'Spike'."

"What for?" demanded Joe.

"Because my father was in the hardware business."

"I see!" laughed Ricky. "Good enough. Spike suits me. I say, you've got
a pretty fair joint here," he went on admiringly. "And some stuff,
believe me!" There was envy in his tones as he looked around the room,
and noted the various articles Joe was digging out of his trunk--some
fencing foils, boxing gloves, a baseball bat and mask, and a number of
foreign weapons which Joe had begun to collect in one of his periodical
fits and then had given up. "They'll look swell stuck around the walls,"
went on Ricky.

"Yes, it sort of tones up the place, I guess," admitted Joe.

"I've got a lot of flags," spoke Spike. "My trunk didn't come, though.
Hope it'll be here to-morrow."

"Then you will have a den!" declared Ricky. "Got any photos?"

"Photos?" queried Joe wonderingly.

"Yes--girls? You ought to see my collection! Some class, believe me; and
more than half were free-will offerings," and Ricky drew himself up
proudly in his role of a lady-killer.

"Where'd you get the others?" asked Spike.

"Swiped 'em--some I took from my sister. They'll look swell when I get
'em up. Well, I'm getting chilly!" he added, and it was no wonder, for
his legs were partly bare. "See you later!" and he slid out of the door.

"Nice chap," commented Joe.

"Rather original," agreed Spike Poole. "I guess he's in the habit of
doing things. But say, I'm keeping you up with my talk, I'm afraid."

"I guess it's the other way around," remarked Joe, with a smile.

"No, go ahead, and stick up all the trophies you like. I'll help out
to-morrow."

"Oh, well, I guess this'll do for a while," said Joe a little later,
when he had partly emptied his trunk. "I think I'll turn in. I don't
know how I'll sleep--that Welsh rabbit was a bit more than I'm used to.
So if I see my grandmother in the night----"

"I'll wake you up before the dear old lady gets a chance to box your
ears," promised his room-mate with a laugh. And then our hero crawled
into bed to spend his first night as a real Yale student.

Joe thought he had never seen so perfect a day as the one to which the
alarm clock awakened him some hours later. It was clear and crisp, and
on the way to chapel with the others of the Red Shack, he breathed deep
of the invigorating air. The exercises were no novelty to him, but it
was very different from those at Excelsior Hall, and later the campus
seemed to be fairly alive with the students. But Joe no longer felt
alone. He had a chum--several of them, in fact, for the acquaintances of
the night before seemed even closer in the morning.

The duties of the day were soon over, lectures not yet being under way.
Joe got his name down, learned when he was expected to report, the hours
of recitation, and other details. His new chums did the same.

"And now let's see about that eating club," proposed Ricky Hanover, when
they were free for the rest of the day. "It's all right to go to Glory's
once in a while--especially at night when the jolly crowd is there, and
a restaurant isn't bad for a change--but we're not here for a week or a
month, and we want some place that's a bit like home."

The others agreed with him, and a little investigation disclosed an
eating resort run by a Junior who was working his way through Yale. It
was a quiet sort of a place, on a quiet street, not so far away from the
Red Shack as to make it inconvenient to go around for breakfast. The
patrons of it, besides Joe and his new friends, were mostly Freshmen,
though a few Juniors, acquaintances of Roslyn Joyce, who was trying to
pay his way to an education by means of it, ate there, as did a couple
of very studious Seniors, who did not go in for the society or sporting
life.

"This'll be just the thing for us," declared Joe; and the others agreed
with him.

There was some talk of football in the air. All about them students were
discussing the chances of the eleven, especially in the big games with
Harvard and Princeton, and all agreed that, with the new material
available, Yale was a sure winner.

"What are you going in for?" asked Joe of Ricky, as the five of
them--Joe, Ricky, Spike, Slim Jones and Hank Heller strolled across the
campus.

"The eleven for mine--if I can make it!" declared Ricky. "What's yours,
Joe?"

"Baseball. But it's a long while off."

"That's right--the gridiron has the call just now. Jove, how I want to
play!" and Ricky danced about in the excess of his good spirits.

"What are you going in for?" asked Joe of Hank Heller.

"I'd like to make the crew, but I don't suppose I have much chance. I'll
have to wait, as you will."

"If I can get on the glee club, I'm satisfied," remarked Slim Jones.
"That's about all I'm fit for," he added, with a whimsical smile. "How
about you, Spike? Can you play anything?"

"The Jewsharp and mouthorgan. Have they any such clubs here?"

"No!" exclaimed Ricky. "But what's the matter with you trying for the
eleven? You've got the build."

"It isn't in my line. I'm like Joe here. I like the diamond best."

"Do you?" cried our hero, delighted to find that his room-mate had the
same ambition as himself. "Where do you play?"

"Well, I have been catching for some time."

"Then you and Joe ought to hit it off!" exclaimed Ricky. "Joe's crazy to
pitch, and you two can make up a private battery, and use the room for a
cage."



CHAPTER IX

THE SHAMPOO


Football was in the air. On every side was the talk of it, and around
the college, on the streets leading to the gridiron, and in the cars
that took the students out there to watch the practice, could be heard
little else but snatches of conversation about "punts" and "forward
passes," the chances for this end or that fullback--how the Bulldog
sized up against Princeton and Harvard.

Of course Joe was interested in this, and he was among the most loyal
supporters of the team, going out to the practice, and cheering when the
'varsity made a touchdown against the luckless scrub.

"We're going to have a great team!" declared Ricky, as he walked back
from practice with Joe one day.

"I'm sure I hope so," spoke our hero. "Have you had a chance?"

"Well, I'm one of the subs, and I've reported every day. They kept us
tackling the dummy for quite a while, and I think I got the eye of
one of the coaches. But there are so many fellows trying, and such
competition, that I don't know--it's a fierce fight," and Ricky sighed.

"Never mind," consoled Joe. "You'll make good, I'm sure. I'll have my
troubles when the baseball season opens. I guess it won't be easy to get
on the nine."

"Well, maybe not, if you insist on being pitcher," said Ricky. "I hear
that Weston, who twirled last season, is in line for it again."

"Weston--does he pitch?" gasped Joe. It was the first time he had
heard--or thought to ask--what position the lad held who had sneered at
him.

"That's his specialty," declared Ricky. "They're depending on him for
the Yale-Princeton game. Princeton took the odd game last year, and we
want it this."

"I hope we get it," murmured Joe. "And so Ford Weston pitches; eh? If it
comes to a contest between us I'm afraid it will be a bitter one. He
hates me already. I guess he thinks I've got a swelled head."

"Say, look here, Joe!" exclaimed Ricky, with a curious look on his face,
"you don't seem to know the ropes here. You're a Freshman, you know."

"Sure I know that. What of it?"

"Lots. You know that you haven't got the ghost of a show to be pitcher
on the 'varsity; don't you?"

"Know it? Do you mean that Weston can so work things as to keep me off?"

"Not Weston; no. But the rules themselves are against you. It's utterly
impossible that you should pitch this year."

"Why? What rules? I didn't know I was ineligible."

"Well, you are. Listen, Joe. Under the intercollegiate rules no Freshman
can play on the 'varsity baseball nine, let alone being the pitcher."

"He can't?" and Joe stood aghast.

"No. It's out of the question. I supposed you knew that or I'd have
mentioned it before."

Joe was silent a moment. His heart seemed almost to stop beating. He
felt as though the floor of the room was sinking from under his feet.

"I--I never thought to ask about rules," said Joe, slowly. "I took it
for granted that Yale was like other smaller universities--that any
fellow could play on the 'varsity if he could make it."

"Not at Yale, or any of the big universities," went on Ricky in softened
tones, for he saw that Joe was much affected. "You see the rule was
adopted to prevent the ringing in of a semi-professional, who might come
here for a few months, qualify as a Freshman, and play on the 'varsity.
You've got to be a Sophomore, at least, before you can hope to make the
big team, and then of course, it's up to you to make a fight for the
pitcher's box."

Once more Joe was silent. His hopes had been suddenly crushed, and, in a
measure, it was his own fault, for he had taken too much for granted. He
felt a sense of bitterness--bitterness that he had allowed himself to be
persuaded to come to Yale against his own wishes.

And yet he knew that it would never have done to have gone against his
parents. They had their hearts set on a college course for him.

"Hang it all!" exclaimed Joe, as he paced up and down, "why didn't I
think to make some inquiries?"

"It would have been better," agreed Ricky. "But there's no great harm
done. You can play on the Freshman team this coming season, and then,
when you're a Soph., you can go on that team, and you'll be in line for
the 'varsity. You can play on the Junior team, if you like, and they
have some smashing good games once in a while."

"But it isn't the 'varsity," lamented Joe.

"No. But look here, old man; you've got to take things as they come. I
don't want to preach, but----"

"That's all right--slam it into me!" exclaimed Joe. "I need it--I
deserve it. It'll do me good. I won't be so cock-sure next time. But I
hoped to make the 'varsity this season."

"It'll be better for you in the end not to have done so," went on his
friend. "You need more practice, than you have had, to take your place
on the big team. A season with the Freshmen will give it to you. You'll
learn the ropes better--get imbued with some of the Yale spirit, and
you'll be more of a man. It's no joke, I tell you, to pitch on the
'varsity."

"No, I imagine not," agreed Joe, slowly. "Then, I suppose there's no use
of me trying to even get my name down on a sort of waiting list."

"Not until you see how you make out on the Freshman team," agreed Ricky.
"You'll be watched there, so look out for yourself. The old players, who
act as coaches, are always on the lookout for promising material. You'll
be sized up when you aren't expecting it. And, not only will they watch
to see how you play ball, but how you act under all sorts of cross-fire,
and in emergencies. It isn't going to be any cinch."

"No, I can realize that," replied Joe. "And so Weston has been through
the mill, and made good?"

"He's been through the mill, that's sure enough," agreed Ricky, "but
just how good he's made will have to be judged later. He wasn't such a
wonder last season."

"There's something queer about him," said Joe.

"How's that?"

"Why, if he's only a Soph. this year he must have been a Freshman last.
And yet he pitched on the 'varsity I understand."

"Weston's is a peculiar case," said Ricky. "I heard some of the fellows
discussing it. He's classed as a Soph., but he ought really to be a
Junior. This is his third year here. He's a smart chap in some things,
but he got conditioned in others, and in some studies he is still taking
the Soph. lectures, while in others he is with the Juniors. He was
partly educated abroad, it seems, and that put him ahead of lots of
us in some things. So, while he was rated with the Freshmen in some
studies last year, he was enough of a Sophomore to comply with the
intercollegiate rules, and pitch on the 'varsity. He did well, so they
said."

"I wish fate handed me out something like that," mused Joe. "If I
had known that I'd have boned away on certain things so as to get a
Sophomore rating--at least enough to get on the big nine."

"Why, don't you intend to stay at Yale?" asked Ricky. "A year soon
passes. You'll be a Sophomore before you know it."

"I wish I was in Weston's shoes," said Joe softly.

Since that meeting on the campus, when the Sophomore had not recognized
Joe, the two had not encountered each other, and Joe was glad enough of
it.

"I'm glad I didn't meet him in Riverside," thought Joe. "It won't make
it so hard here--when it comes to a showdown. For I'm going to make the
nine! The 'varsity nine; if not this year, then next!" and he shut his
teeth in determination.

Meanwhile matters were gradually adjusting themselves to the new
conditions of affairs at Yale--at least as regards Joe and the other
Freshmen. The congenial spirits in the Red Shack, increased by some
newcomers, had, in a measure, "found" themselves. Recitations and
lectures began their regular routine, and though some of the latter were
"cut," and though often in the interests of football the report of "not
prepared" was made, still on the whole Joe and his chums did fairly
well.

Joe, perhaps because of his lack of active interest in football, as was
the case with his room-mate, Spike, did better than the others as
regards lessons. Yet it did not come easy to Joe to buckle down to the
hard and exacting work of a college course, as compared to the rather
easy methods in vogue at Excelsior Hall.

Joe was not a natural student, and to get a certain amount of
comparatively dry knowledge into his head required hours of faithful
work.

"I'm willing to make a try of it--for the sake of the folks," he
confided to Spike; "but I know I'm never going to set the river on fire
with classics or math. I'm next door to hating them. I want to play
baseball."

"Well, I can't blame you--in a way," admitted his chum. "Of course
baseball isn't all there is to life, though I do like it myself."

"It's going to be my business in life," said Joe simply, and Spike
realized then, if never before, the all-absorbing hold the great game
had on his friend. To Joe baseball was as much of a business--or a
profession if you like--as the pulpit was to a divinity student, or the
courts to a member of the law school.

The Yale football team began its triumphant career, and the expectations
of the friends of the eleven were fully realized. To his delight Ricky
played part of a game, and there was no holding him afterward.

"I've got a chance to buck the Princeton tiger!" he declared. "The head
coach said I did well!"

"Good!" cried Joe, wondering if he would have such fine luck when the
baseball season started.

Affairs at the Red Shack went on smoothly, and at the Mush and Milk
Club, which the Freshmen had dubbed their eating joint, there were many
assemblings of congenial spirits. Occasionally there was a session at
Glory's--a session that lasted far into the night--though Joe and his
room-mate did not hold forth at many such.

"It's bad for the head the next day," declared Spike, and he was
strictly abstemious in his habits, as was Joe. But not all the crowd at
the Red Shack were in this class, and often there were disturbances at
early hours of the morning--college songs howled under the windows with
more or less "harmony," and appeals to Joe and the others to "stick out
their heads."

"I think we'll get ours soon," spoke Spike one night, as he and Joe sat
at the centre table of the room, studying.

"Our what?"

"Drill. I heard that a lot of the Freshmen were caught down the street
this evening and made to walk Spanish. They're beginning the shampoo,
too."

"The shampoo--what's that?"

"An ancient and honorable Yale institution, in which the candidate is
head-massaged with a bucket of paste or something else."

"Paste or what?"

"You're allowed your choice, I believe. Paste for mine, it's easier to
get out of your hair if you take it in time."

"That's right. I'm with you--but--er--how about a fight?"

"It's up to you. Lots of the Freshmen stand 'em off. It's allowed if you
like."

"Then I say--fight!" exclaimed Joe. "I'm not going to be shampooed in
that silly fashion if I can help it."

"Then we'll stand 'em off?" questioned Spike.

"Sure--as long as we can," declared Joe. "Though if they bring too big a
bunch against us we'll probably get the worst of it."

"Very likely, but we can have the satisfaction of punching some of the
Sophs. I'm with you."

"Where'll they do it?"

"No telling. They may catch us on the street, or they may come here. For
choice----"

Spike paused and held up his hand for silence. There was a noise in the
hall, in the direction of the front door. Then came the voice of Ricky
Hanover saying:

"No, you don't! I've got the bulge on you! No monkey business here!"

"Get away from that door, Fresh.!" shouted someone, half-angrily; "or
we'll bust it in!"

"Give him the shampoo--both of 'em!" yelled another.

"You don't get in here!" cried Ricky. "I say----"

His voice was drowned out in a crash, and a moment later there was the
sound of a struggle.

"Here they come," said Spike in a low voice.

"Let's take off our coats," proposed Joe, in the same tone. "If we're
going to fight I want to be ready."



CHAPTER X

A WILD NIGHT


"Say, Ricky is sure putting up a great fight!"

"Yes, and he's as wiry as they make 'em!"

"He'll make 'em wish they'd let him alone--maybe."

"And maybe not," returned Spike. He and Joe had passed these remarks
after a grim silence, followed by a resumption of the crashing struggle
in the hall near the front door. "There are too many of 'em for him,"
went on Joe's room-mate.

"Wait until I take a peep," proposed the young pitcher. He advanced to
the door, rolling up his sleeves as he went.

"Don't!" snapped Spike. "They'll be here soon enough as it is, without
us showing ourselves. I'd just as soon they'd pass us up this trip--it's
an unpleasant mess."

"That's right. Maybe we can stand 'em off."

"No such luck. I think they're coming."

The noise in the hall seemed redoubled. Ricky could be heard
expostulating, and from that he changed to threats.

"I'll make you wish you hadn't tried this on me!" he shouted. "I'll
punch----"

"Oh, dry up!" commanded someone.

"Stuff some of that paste in his mouth!" ordered another voice.

"A double shampoo for being too fresh!"

"No, you don't! I won't stand----"

"Then take it lying down. Here we go, boys!"

"I--Oh----" and Ricky's voice trailed off into an indistinct murmur.

"He's getting his," said Spike in a low tone.

"And I guess here is where we get ours," said Joe, as the rush of feet
sounded along the corridor, while someone called:

"Come on, fellows. More work for us down here. There are some of the
Freshies in their burrows. Rout 'em out! Smash 'em up!"

The tramping of feet came to a pause outside the door of our two
friends.

"Open up!" came the command.

"Come in!" invited Joe. They had not turned the key as they did not want
the lock broken.

Into the room burst a nondescript horde of students. They were wild and
disheveled, some with torn coats and trousers, others with neckties and
collars missing, or else hanging in shreds about their necks.

"Ricky put up a game fight!" murmured Joe.

"He sure did," agreed Spike.

"Hello, Freshmen!" greeted the leader of the Sophomores. "Ready for
yours?"

"Sure," answered Spike with as cheerful a grin as he could muster.

"Any time you say," added Joe.

"The beggars were expecting us!" yelled a newcomer, crowding into the
room.

"Going to fight?" demanded someone.

"Going to try," said Joe coolly.

"Give 'em theirs!" was the yell.

"What'll it be--paste or mush?"

Joe saw that several of the Sophomores carried pails, one seemingly
filled with froth, and the other with a white substance. Neither would
be very pleasant when rubbed into the hair.

"Maybe you'd better cut 'em both out," suggested Joe.

"Not on your life! Got to take your medicine, kid!" declared a tall
Sophomore. He made a grab for Joe, who stepped back. Someone swung at
our hero, who, nothing daunted, dashed a fist into his antagonist's
face, and the youth went down with a crash, taking a chair with him.

"Oh, ho! Fighters!" cried a new voice. "Slug 'em, Sophs.!"

Joe swung around, and could not restrain a gasp of astonishment, for,
confronting him was Ford Weston, the 'varsity pitcher. On his part
Weston seemed taken aback.

"Jove!" he cried. "It's the little country rooster I saw pitch ball. So
you came to Yale after all?"

"I did," answered Joe calmly. It was the first he had met his rival face
to face since that time on the campus when Weston had not known him.

"Well, we're going to make you sorry right now," sneered Weston. "Up
boys, and at 'em!"

"Let me get another whack at him!" snarled the lad Joe had knocked down.

There was a rush. Joe, blindly striking out, felt himself pulled, hauled
and mauled. Once he went down under the weight of numbers, but he fought
himself to a kneeling position and hit out with all his force. He was
hit in turn.

He had a glimpse of Spike hurling a tall Sophomore half way across the
room, upon the sofa with a crash. Then with a howl the second-year men
closed in on the two Freshmen again.

Joe saw Weston coming for him, aiming a vicious blow at his head.
Instinctively Joe ducked, and with an uppercut that was more forceful
than he intended he caught the pitcher on the jaw.

Weston went backward, and only for the fact that he collided with one of
his mates would have fallen. He clapped his hand to his jaw, and as he
glared at Joe he cried:

"I'll settle with you for this!"

"Any time," gasped Joe, and then his voice was stopped as someone's
elbow caught him in the jaw.

"Say, what's the matter with you fellows?" demanded a voice in the
doorway. "Can't you do up two Freshmen? Come on, give 'em what's coming
and let's get out of this. There's been too much of a row, and we've got
lots to do yet to-night. Eat 'em up!"

Thus urged by someone who seemed to be a leader, the Sophomores went at
the attack with such fury that there was no withstanding them. The odds
were too much for Joe and Spike, and they were borne down by the weight
of numbers.

Then, while some of their enemies held them, others smeared the paste
over their heads, rubbing it well in. It was useless to struggle, and
all the two Freshmen could do was to protect their eyes.

"That's enough," came the command.

"No, it isn't!" yelled a voice Joe recognized as that of Weston.
"Where's that mush?"

"No! No!" expostulated several. "They've had enough--the paste was
enough."

"I say no!" fairly screamed Weston. "Hand it here!"

He snatched something from one of his mates, and the next instant Joe
felt a stream of liquid mush drenching him. It ran into his eyes,
smarting them grievously, and half blinding him. With a mad struggle he
tore himself loose and struck out, but his fists only cleaved the empty
air.

"Come on!" was the order.

There was a rush of feet, and presently the room cleared.

"Next time don't be so--fresh!" came tauntingly from Weston, as he
followed his mates.

"Water--water!" begged Joe, for his eyes seemed on fire.

"Hold on, old man--steady," came from Spike. "What is it?"

"Something in my eyes. I can't see!"

"The paste and mush I expect. Rotten trick. Wait a minute and I'll
sponge you off. Oh, but we're sights!"

Presently Joe felt the cooling liquid, and the pain went from him. He
could open his eyes and look about. Their room was in disorder, but,
considering the fierceness of the scrimmage, little damage had been
done.

But the lads themselves, when they glanced at each other, could not
repress woeful expressions, followed by laughs of dismay, for truly they
were in a direful plight. Smeared with paste that made their hair stand
up like the quills of a fretful porcupine, their shirts streaked with
it, they were indeed weird looking objects. Paste was on their faces,
half covering their noses. It stuffed up their ears and their eyes
stared out from a mask of it like burned holes in a blanket.

"Oh, but you are a sight!" exclaimed Spike.

"The same to you and more of it," retorted Joe. "Let's get this off."

"Sure, before it hardens, or we'll never get it off," agreed Spike.

Fortunately there was plenty of water in their room, and, stripping to
their waists they scrubbed to such good advantage that they were soon
presentable. The removal of their coats and vests had saved those
garments.

"They went for you fierce," commented Spike. "Who was that fellow who
came in last?"

"Weston--'varsity pitcher."

"He had it in for you."

"Seemed so, but I don't know why," and Joe related the little scene the
day of the Silver Star-Resolute game.

"Oh, well, don't mind him. I say, let's go out."

"What for?"

"It's going to be a wild night from the way it's begun. Let's see some
of the fun. No use trying to study, I'm too excited."

"I'm excited too. But if we go out they may pitch onto us again."

"No, we can claim immunity. I want to see some of the other fellows get
theirs. We'll get Ricky and the other bunch and have some fun."

"All right; I'm with you."

They dressed, and, having made their room somewhat presentable, they
called for Ricky. He was busy trying to get rid of his shampoo, which
had been unusually severe. He readily fell in with the notion of going
out, and with Hank Heller and Slim Jones in the party the five set out.

They swung out into Wall street, up College, and cut over Elm street to
the New Haven Green, where they knew all sorts of tricks would be going
on. For the Sophomores had started their hazing in earnest.

It was indeed a wild night. The streets about the college buildings were
thronged with students, and yells and class-rallying cries were heard on
every side.

"Let's go over to High street," proposed Joe, and they ran up Temple, to
Chapel, and thence over to High, making their way through throngs.
Several times they were halted by groups of Sophomores, with commands to
do some absurdity, but an assertion that they had been shampooed, with
the particulars, and the evidence yet remaining in spots, was enough to
cause them to be passed.

High street was filled with even a greater crowd as they reached it, a
party of Freshman pouring out from the college campus endeavoring to
escape from pursuing enemies.

Through Library street to York they went, with shouts, yells and noises
of rattles and other sound-producing instruments.

"Let's follow and see what happens," proposed Ricky. "I want to see some
other fellow get his as long as I had mine."

Just then Joe saw several figures come quietly out from behind a
building and start up York street, in an opposite direction from that
taken by the throng. Under the glare of an electric light he recognized
Weston and some of the crowd who had shampooed them. Some sudden whim
caused Joe to say:

"There's the fellows who shampooed us. Let's follow and maybe we can get
back at 'em. There are only five--that's one apiece."

"Right you are!" sang out Ricky. "I want to punch someone."

"Come on then," signalled Spike. "I'm out for the night. It's going to
be a wild one all right."

And truly it seemed so.



CHAPTER XI

THE RED PAINT


Pursuing those who had given them the shampoo, Joe and his chums found
themselves trailing down a side street in the darkness.

"I wonder what they're up to," ventured Spike.

"Oh, some more monkey business," declared Ricky. "If they try it on any
more Freshmen though, we'll take a hand ourselves; eh?"

"Sure," assented the others.

"There they go--around the corner--and on the run!" suddenly exclaimed
Slim Jones. "Get a move on!"

Our friends broke into a trot--that is, all but Joe. He tried to, but
stepping on a stone it rolled over with him, and he felt a severe pain
shoot through his ankle.

"Sprained, by Jove!" he exclaimed. "I'm glad it isn't the baseball
season, for I'm going to be laid up."

He halted, and in those few seconds his companions, eager in the chase,
drew ahead of him in the darkness, and disappeared around another
corner.

"I can't catch up to 'em," decided Joe. "Wonder if I can step on the
foot?"

He tried his weight on it, and to his delight found that it was not a
bad sprain, rather a severe wrench that, while it lamed him, still
allowed him to walk.

"Guess I'll go back," he murmured. "If there's a row I can't hold up my
end, and there's no use being a handicap. I'll go back and turn in. I
can explain later."

He turned about, walking slowly, the pain seeming to increase rather
than diminish, and he realized that he was in for a bad time.

"If I could see a hack I'd hail it," he thought, but the streets seemed
deserted, no public vehicles being in sight. "I've got to tramp it out,"
Joe went on. "Well, I can take it slow."

His progress brought him to Wall street, and he decided to continue
along that to Temple, and thence to the modest side-thoroughfare on
which the Red Shack was located. But he was not destined to reach it
without further adventures.

As he came around a corner he heard the murmur of low voices, and, being
cautious by nature, he halted to take an observation.

"If it's my own crowd--all right," he said. "But if it's a lot of
Sophs., I don't want to run into 'em."

He listened, and from among those whom he could not see he heard the
murmur of voices.

"That's the house over there," said someone.

"Right! Now we'll see if he'll double on me just because I wasn't
prepared. I'll make him walk Spanish!"

"Got plenty of the magoozilum?"

"Sure. We'll daub it on thick."

"They can't be after Freshmen," mused Joe. "I wonder what's up?"

He looked across the street in the direction where, evidently, the
unseen ones were directing their attention.

"A lot of the profs. live there," mused Joe. "I have it! Some one's
going to play a trick on 'em to get even. I'll just pipe it off!"

He had not long to wait. Out of the shadows stole two figures, and, even
in the dimness he recognized one of them as Ford Weston. The other he
did not know.

"Come on!" hoarsely whispered the 'varsity pitcher to his chum. "I'll
spread it on thick and then we'll cut for it. Separate streets. I'll see
you in the morning, but keep mum, whatever happens."

The two figures ran silently across the street, and paused in front of a
detached house. One seemed to be actively engaged at the steps for a
few minutes, and then both quickly ran off again, the two separating and
diving down side streets.

"Huh! Whatever it was didn't take them long," thought Joe. "I wonder
what it was? Guess I'll----"

But his half-formed resolution to make an investigation was not carried
out. He heard shouting down the street, and thinking it might be a crowd
of Sophomores, he decided to continue on to his room.

"They might start a rough-house with me," mused Joe, "and then my ankle
would be more on the blink than ever. I'll go home."

He started off, rather excited over the events of the night, and found
that even his brief spell of standing still had stiffened him so that he
could hardly proceed.

"Wow!" he exclaimed, as a particularly sharp twinge shot through him. He
had gone about two blocks when he heard someone coming behind him. He
turned in apprehension, but saw only a single figure.

"Hello! What's the matter?" asked a young man as he caught up to Joe.

"Twisted my ankle."

"So? What's your name?"

"Matson--I'm a Freshman."

"Oh, yes. I think I saw you at Chapel. Kendall's my name." Joe
recognized it as that of one of the Juniors and a member of the 'varsity
nine. "How'd it happen?"

"Oh, skylarking. The Sophs. were after us to-night."

"So I heard. You'd better do something for that foot," he went on, as he
noticed Joe's limp.

"I'm going to as soon as I get to my room."

"Say, I tell you what," went on Kendall. "My joint's just around the
corner, and I've got a prime liniment to rub on. Suppose you come in and
I'll give you some."

"Glad to," agreed Joe. "I don't believe I've got a bit at my shack, and
the drug stores are all closed."

"Come along then--here, lean on me," and Kendall proffered his arm, for
which Joe was grateful.

"Here we are," announced Kendall a little later, as they turned into a
building where some of the wealthier students had their rooms. "Sorry
it's up a flight."

"Oh, I can make it," said Joe, keeping back an exclamation of pain that
was on his lips.

"We'll just have a look at it," continued his new friend. "I've known a
strain like that to last a long while if not treated properly. A little
rubbing at the right time does a lot of good."

Joe looked in delight at the room of his newly found friend. It was
tastefully, and even richly, furnished, but with a quiet atmosphere
differing from the usual college apartment.

"You've got a nice place here," he remarked, thinking that, after all,
there might be more to Yale life than he had supposed.

"Oh, it'll do. Here's the stuff. Now off with your shoe and we'll have a
look at that ankle. I'm a sort of doctor--look after the football lads
sometimes. Are you trying for the eleven?"

"No, baseball is my stunt."

"Yes? So's mine."

"You catch, don't you?" asked Joe. "I've heard of 'Shorty' Kendall."

"That's me," came with a laugh. "Oh, that's not so bad," he went on as
he looked at Joe's foot. "A little swelled. Here, I'll give it a rub,"
and in spite of Joe's half-hearted protests he proceeded to massage the
ankle until it felt much better.

"Try to step on it," directed Shorty Kendall.

Joe did so, and found that he could bear his weight on it with less
pain.

"I guess you'll do," announced the Junior. "Cut along to your room
now--or say--hold on, I can fix you up here for the night. I've got a
couch----"

"No, thank you," expostulated Joe. "The boys would worry if I didn't
come back."

"You could send word----"

"No, I'll trot along. Much obliged."

"Take that liniment with you," directed Kendall.

"Won't you need it?"

"Not until the diamond season opens, and that's some time off yet. Good
night--can you make the stairs?"

"Yes--don't bother to come down," and Joe limped out.

As he reached the first hall he was made aware that someone was coming
in the front door. Before he could reach it the portal opened and a
student hurried in, making for a room near the main entrance. In the
glare of the hall light Joe saw that the youth was Ford Weston.

He also saw something else. On Weston's hand was a red
smear--brilliant--scarlet. At first Joe thought it was blood, but a
slight odor in the air told him it was paint.

An instant later his eyes met those of the rival pitcher--at least Joe
hoped to make him a rival--and Weston started. Then he thrust his
smeared hand into his pocket, and, without a word, hurried into his room
and slammed the door.



CHAPTER XII

JOE'S SILENCE


"Rather queer," mused Joe, after a moment's silence. "I wonder he didn't
say something to me after what happened. So he rooms here? It's a great
shack. I suppose if I stay here the full course I'll be in one of these
joints. But I don't believe I'm going to stay. If I get a chance on the
'varsity nine next year and make good--then a professional league for
mine."

He limped out of the dormitory, and the pain in his ankle made him
keenly aware of the fact that if he did not attend to it he might be
lame for some time.

"Red paint," he murmured as he let himself out. "I wonder what Weston
was doing with it? Could he---- Oh, I guess it's best not to think too
much in cases like this."

He reached his rooming place and trod along the hall, his injured foot
making an uneven staccato tattoo on the floor.

"Well, what happened to you?"

"Where did you hike to?"

"Were you down to Glory's all by your lonesome?"

"What'd you give us the slip for?"

"Come on; give an account of yourself."

These were only a few of the greetings that welcomed him as he entered
his apartment to find there, snugly ensconced on the beds, chair, sofa
and table, his own room-mate and the other friends who had gone out that
wild night.

"What's the matter?" demanded Spike, in some alarm, as he saw his friend
limping.

"Oh, nothing much. Twisted ankle. I'll be all right in the morning. How
did you fellows make out?"

"Nothing doing," said Ricky. "The boobs that shampooed us split after we
got on their trail, and we lost 'em. Did you see anything of 'em?"

"Not much," said Joe, truthfully enough.

"Then where did you go?"

He explained how he had twisted on his ankle, and turned back, and how,
in coming home, he had met Kendall. He said nothing of watching Weston
and another chap do something to the stoop of the unknown professor's
house.

"Mighty white of Kendall," was Spike's opinion, and it was voiced by
all.

"Oh, what a night!" exclaimed Slim Jones. "Home was never like this!"

"Well, you fellows can sit up the rest of the night if you want to,"
said Joe, after a pause; "but I'm going to put my foot to bed."

"I guess that's the best place for all of us," agreed Ricky. "Come on,
fellows; I have got some hard practice to-morrow. I may be called to the
'varsity."

"Like pie!" jeered Slim Jones.

"Oh, ho! Don't you worry," taunted Ricky. "I'll make it."

There was a sensation the next morning. It seemed that a well-known and
very literary professor, returning from a lecture from out of town,
before a very learned society, had slipped and fallen on his own front
porch, going down in some greasy red paint that had been smeared over
the steps.

The professor had sprained a wrist, and his clothing had been soiled,
but this was not the worst of it. He had taken with him, on his lecture,
some exceedingly rare and valuable Babylonian manuscripts to enhance
his talk, and, in his fall these parchments had scattered from his
portfolio, and several of them had been projected into the red paint,
being ruined thereby. And, as the manuscripts had been taken from the
Yale library, the loss was all the more keen.

"I say, Joe, did you hear the news?" gasped Ricky, as he rushed into
his friend's room, just before the chapel call.

"No. Is there a row over the shampooing?"

"Shampooing nothing! It's red paint, and some of those musty manuscripts
that a prof. had," and he poured out the tale.

"Red paint?" murmured Joe.

"Yes. There's a fierce row over it, and the Dean has taken it up. If the
fellows are found out they'll be expelled sure. Oh, but it was a night!
But the red paint was the limit."

Joe did not answer, but in a flash there came to him the scene where
Weston had entered his room, thrusting his hand into his pocket--a hand
smeared with red.

"Fierce row," went on Ricky, who was a natural reporter, always hearing
sensations almost as soon as they happened. "The prof. went sprawling on
his steps, not knowing the goo was there and the papers---- Oh me! Oh
my! I wonder who did it?"

"Hard to tell I guess," answered Joe, "with the bunch that was out last
night."

"That's so. I'm glad it wasn't any of our fellows. We all stuck
together--that is all but you----" and, as if struck by a sudden
thought, he gazed anxiously at Joe.

"Oh, I can prove an _alibi_ all right," laughed the pitcher. "Don't
worry."

"Glad of it. Well, let's hike. There goes the bell."

There was indeed a "fierce row," over the spoiling of the rare
manuscripts, and the Dean himself appealed to the honor of the students
to tell, if they knew, who the guilty one was.

But Joe Matson kept silent.

There was an investigation, of course, but it was futile, for nothing of
moment was disclosed.

It was several days later when Joe, strolling across the college campus
after a lecture, came face to face with Weston. For a moment they stood
staring at one another.

The hot blood welled up into the cheeks of the 'varsity pitcher, and he
seemed to be trying to hide his hand--the hand that had held the red
smear. Then, without a word, he passed on.

And Joe Matson still maintained his silence.

The Fall passed. The Yale eleven swept on to a glorious championship.
The Christmas vacation came and went and Joe spent happy days at home.
He was beginning to be more and more a Yale man and yet--there was
something constrained in him. His parents noticed it.

"I--I don't think Joe is very happy," ventured Clara, after he had gone
back to college.

"Happy--why not?" challenged her mother.

"Oh, I don't know. He hasn't said much about baseball."

"Baseball!" chuckled Mr. Matson, as he looked out of the window at the
wintry New England landscape. "This is sleigh-riding weather--not
baseball."

"Oh, I do wish Joe would give up his foolish idea," sighed Mrs. Matson.
"He can never make anything of himself at baseball. A minister now,
preaching to a large congregation----"

"I guess, mother, if you'd ever been to a big ball game, and seen
thousands of fans leaning over their seats while the pitcher got ready
to deliver a ball at a critical point in the contest, you'd think he had
some congregation himself," said Mr. Matson, with another chuckle.

"Oh, well, what's the use talking to you?" demanded his wife; and there
the subject was dropped.

Joe went back to Yale. He was doing fairly well in his lessons, but not
at all brilliantly. Study came hard to him. He was longing for the
Spring days and the green grass of the diamond.

Gradually the talk turned from debating clubs, from glees and concerts,
to baseball. The weather raged and stormed, but there began to be the
hint of mildness in the wintry winds.

In various rooms lads began rummaging through trunks and valises,
getting out old gloves that needed mending. The cage in the gymnasium
was wheeled out and some repairs made to it.

"By Jove!" cried Joe one day, "I--I begin to feel as if I had the spring
fever."

"Baseball fever you mean," corrected Spike.

"It's the same thing, old man."

Jimmie Lee, a little Freshman who roomed not far from Joe's shack, came
bursting in a little later.

"Hurray!" he yelled, slapping our hero on the back. "Heard the news?"

"What news?" asked Spike. "Have you been tapped for Skull and Bones, or
Wolf's Head?"

"Neither, you old iconoclast. But the notice is up."

"What notice?"

"Baseball candidates are to report in the gym. to-morrow afternoon.
Hurray!" and he dealt Spike a resounding blow.

Joe Matson's eyes sparkled.



CHAPTER XIII

EARLY PRACTICE


"What are you going to try for?"

"Have you played much before you came here?"

"Oh, rats! I don't believe I'll have any show with all this bunch!"

"Hey, quit shoving; will you?"

"Oh, Rinky-Dink! Over here!"

"Hi, Weston, we're looking for you."

"There goes Shorty Kendall. He'll sure catch this year."

"Hello, Mac! Think you'll beat Weston to it this year?"

"I might," was the cool reply.

The above were only a few of the many challenges, shouts, calls and
greetings that were bandied from side to side as the students, who had
been waiting long for this opportunity, crowded into the gymnasium.

It was the preliminary sifting and weeding out of the mass of material
offered on the altar of baseball. At best but a small proportion of the
candidates could hope to make the 'varsity, or even a class team, but
this did not lessen the throng that crowded about the captain, manager
and coaches, eagerly waiting for favorable comment.

"Well, we're here!" exulted Jimmie Lee, who had, the night before,
brought to Joe the good news that the ball season had at least started
to open.

"Yes, we're here," agreed Joe.

"And what will happen to us?" asked Spike Poole. "It doesn't look to me
as if much would."

"Oh, don't fool yourself," declared Jimmie, who, being very lively, had
learned many of the ropes, and who, by reason of ferreting about, had
secured much information. "The coaches aren't going to let anything good
get by 'em. Did you see Benson looking at me! Ahem! And I think I have
Whitfield's eye! Nothing like having nerve, is there? Joe, hold up your
hand and wriggle it--they're trying to see where you're located," and,
with a laugh at his conceit, Jimmie shoved into the crowd trying to get
nearer the centre of interest--to wit, where the old players who served
as coaches were conferring with the captain.

The latter was Tom Hatfield, a Junior whose remarkable playing at short
had won him much fame. Mr. William Benson and Mr. James Whitfield were
two of the coaches. George Farley was the manager, and a short stocky
man, with a genial Irish face, who answered to the name of Dick McLeary,
was the well-liked trainer.

"Well, if I can make the outfield I suppose I ought to be satisfied,"
spoke Jimmie Lee. "But I did want to get on a bag, or somewhere inside
the diamond."

"I'll take to the daisies and be thankful," remarked Spike; "though I
would like to be behind the bat."

"Carrying bats would do me for a starter," spoke a tall lad near Joe.
"But I suppose I'll be lucky if they let me play on the Freshman team.
Anyhow as long as I don't get left out of it altogether I don't mind.
What are you going to try for?" he asked of our hero.

"I would like to pitch. I twirled at Excelsior Hall, and I think I can
play on the mound better than anywhere else, though that's not saying
I'm such a muchness as a pitcher," added Joe, modestly. "I did hope to
get on the 'varsity, but----"

"Pitch!" exclaimed the other frankly. "Say, you've got as much chance to
pitch on the 'varsity as I have of taking the Dean's place to-morrow.
Pitch on the 'varsity! Say, I'm not saying anything against you, Matson,
for maybe you can pitch, but Weston has the place cinched, and if he
falls down there's Harry McAnish, a southpaw. He stands about second
choice."

"Oh, I've been disillusioned," said Joe frankly. "I know I can't get on
the 'varsity this year. But don't they have more than one pitcher in
reserve?"

"Oh, yes, sure. But Bert Avondale comes next, and I have heard that he's
even better than Weston, but Weston is steadier--in most games. I don't
want to discourage you, but you'd better try for some other place than
pitcher."

"No, I'm going to try for there," said Joe in a low voice. "I may not
make it, but if I get a chance to show what I can do, and then fall
down, I won't kick. I mean next year, of course," he added.

"Oh, you may get a chance all right. Every fellow does at Yale. But
you're up against some of the best college baseball material that ever
came over the pike. Sometimes I think I've got nerve even to dream of a
class team. But listen--they're going to start the fun now."

The manager was speaking, announcing more or less formally, that which
everyone knew already--that they had reported to allow a sort of
preliminary looking over of the candidates. There were several of the
former ball team who would play, it was said, but there was always need
and a chance, for new material. All save Freshmen would be given an
opportunity, the manager said, and then he emphasized the need of hard
work and training for those who were given the responsibility of
carrying the blue of Yale to victory on the diamond.

"And, no less does this responsibility rest on the scrub, or second
team," went on Farley. "For on the efficiency of the scrub depends the
efficiency of the 'varsity, since good opposition is needed in bringing
out the best points of the first team."

Farley, who was one of the old players, acting as a coach, went on to
add:

"I have used the word 'scrub' and 'second team,' though, as you well
know, there is nothing like that here at Yale, that is as compared to
football. When I say 'scrub' I mean one of the class teams, the
Freshman, Sophomore or Junior, for, in a measure, while separate and
distinct teams themselves, they will serve us the same purpose as a
scrub or substitute team would in football. They will give us something
to practice with--some opposition--for you've got to have two nines to
make a ball game," and he smiled at the anxious ones looking at him.

"So," he went on, "when I use the word 'scrub' after this, or when any
of the other coaches do, I want you to understand that it will mean
one of the class teams which, for the purpose of strengthening the
'varsity, and enabling it to practice, acts as opposition.

"Sometimes the 'varsity will play one team, and sometimes another, for
the class teams will have their own contests to look after, to win,
we hope; to lose, we hope not. I wish I could give you Freshmen
encouragement that you could make the 'varsity, but, under the rules,
none of you can. Now we'll get down to business."

He gave encouragement to many, and consoled those who might fail, or, at
best, make only a class team. Then he introduced the captain--Tom
Hatfield--who was received with a rousing cheer.

"Well, fellows," said Hatfield, "I haven't much to say. This is my first
experience at the head of a big college nine, though you know I've
played with you in many games."

"That's right--and played well, too!" yelled someone. "Three cheers for
Hatfield!"

They were given with a will, and the captain resumed.

"Of course we're going to win this year, even if we didn't last." This
was received in silence, for the losing of the championship to Princeton
the previous season had been a sore blow to Yale. "We're going to win,"
went on Hatfield in a quiet voice; "but, just because we are, don't let
that fool you into getting careless. We've all got to work hard--to
train hard--and we've got to practice. I expect every man to report
regularly whether he thinks he has a chance to make the 'varsity or not.
It's part of the game, and we've all got to play it--scrub and 'varsity
alike.

"I guess that's all I've got to say, though I may have more later, after
we get started. The coaches will take charge now and you'll have to do
as they say. We won't do much to-day, just some catching and a bit of
running to see how each fellow's wind is." He nodded to the coaches and
trainer, and as he stepped back once more came the cry:

"Three cheers for Hatfield. Good old Yale cheers!"

The gymnasium rang with them, and then came the Boola song, after which
the crowd formed in close line and did the serpentine dance.

"Now then, get busy!" commanded Mr. Benson. "Old players over that side,
and the new ones here. Give in your names, and say where you've played.
Lively now!"

He and Mr. Whitfield began circulating among the candidates, and, as
they approached him, Joe felt his heart beginning to beat faster. Would
he have a chance? And, if he got it, could he make good?

These were the questions he asked him.

"Name?"

"Matson--Joe."

"Hum. Yes. Ever played before?"

"Yes, on a school nine."

"Where?"

"Excelsior Hall."

"Hum! Yes. Never heard of it. Where did you play?"

"I pitched."

"Pitched. Hum! Yes. I never saw so many pitchers as we have this season.
Well, I'll put you down for your Freshman class team, though I can't
give you much encouragement," and Mr. Benson turned to the next lad. "Go
over there and do some throwing, I'll watch you later," he concluded,
and Joe's heart began to sink as he saw Spike motioning to him to come
to one side and indulge in some practice balls.

"How'd you make out?" asked his room-mate.

"Oh, I'm engaged right off the bat," laughed Joe, but he could not
conceal the anxiety in the voice that he strove to make indifferent.

"So? Then you had better luck than I. Whitfield told me he didn't think
I had the right build for a catcher."

"Well, maybe we can both make our scrub class team," spoke Joe.

"Say, it hasn't half begun yet," declared Jimmie Lee, who had a hankering
to play first base. "Wait until the main coach gets here, and we'll have
a shake-up that'll set some people on their ears."

"What do you mean?" asked Joe wonderingly.

"I mean that the main gazaboo isn't here yet: Mr. Forsythe Hasbrook--old
Horsehide they call him. He's the main coach. These are only his
assistants."

"Is that so?" inquired Spike.

"It sure is. He's the real thing in baseball--Horsehide is. An old Yale
man, but up-to-date. Played ever since he was a baby, and knows the game
from A to Z. He never gets here until the preliminary practice has begun
on the field, and then it doesn't take him long to size a fellow up. Of
course I only know what I've been told," he added, "but that goes all
right."

"Well, if we didn't get picked for the team now, I don't believe we'll
have any chance after the main coach gets here," said Joe.

"Guess not," assented Spike. "Here we go." And they started to practice.



CHAPTER XIV

THE SURPRISE


"Oh, get a little more speed on! Don't run so much like an ice wagon.
Remember that the object is to get to the base before the ball does!"

"Lively now! Throw that in as if you meant it! We're not playing bean
bag, remember!"

"Oh, swing to it! Swing to it! Make your body do some of the work as
well as your arms!"

"Don't be afraid of the ball! It's hard, of course, that's the way it's
made. But if you're going to flinch every time it comes your way you
might as well play ping-pong!"

"Stand up to the plate! What if you do get hit?"

Thus the coaches were trying to instill into the new candidates for the
'varsity nine some rudiments of how they thought the game should be
played. Sharp and bitter the words were sometimes, bitten off with a
snap and exploded with cutting sarcasm, but it was their notion of how
to get the best out of a man, and perhaps it was.

"Remember we want to win games," declared Mr. Benson. "We're not on the
diamond to give a ladies' exhibition. You've got to play, and play hard
if you want to represent Yale."

"That's right," chimed in Mr. Whitfield. "We've got to have the college
championship this year. We've _GOT_ to have it. Now try that over," he
commanded of Ford Weston, who had struck one man out in practice. "Do it
again. That's the kind of playing we want."

Joe, who had been catching with Spike, looked enviously at his rival,
who was on the coveted mound, taking in succession many batters as they
came up. Shorty Kendall was catching for the 'varsity pitcher, and the
balls came into his big mitt with a resounding whack that told of speed.

"I wonder if I'll ever get there," mused Joe, and, somehow he regretted,
for the first time since coming to Yale, that he had consented to the
college arrangement. It seemed so impossible for him to make way against
the handicap of other players ahead of him.

"If I'd finished at Excelsior," he told himself, "I think I'd have
gotten into some minor league where good playing tells, and not class.
Hang it all!"

The practice went on. It was the first of the outdoor playing, and while
the gymnasium work had seemed to develop some new and unexpectedly good
material, the real test of the diamond sent some of the more hopeful
candidates back on the waiting list. As yet Joe had been given scant
notice. He had been told to bat, pitch, catch and run, but that was all.
He had done it, but it had all seemed useless.

The day was a perfect Spring one, and the diamond was in excellent
condition. It had been rather wet, but the wind had dried it, and,
though there were still evidences of frost in the ground, they would
soon disappear under the influence of the warm sun.

In various sorts of uniforms, scattered over the big field, the
candidates went at their practice with devotion and zeal. Winning a
baseball game may not be much in the eyes of the world, getting the
college championship may seem a small matter to the man of affairs--to
the student or the politician, intent on bigger matters. But to the
college lads themselves it meant much--it was a large part of their
life.

And, after all, isn't life just one big game; and if we play it fairly
and squarely and win--isn't that all there is to it? And, in a measure,
doesn't playing at an athletic game fit one to play in life? It isn't
always the winning that counts, but the spirit of fair play, the love
for the square deal, the respect for a worthy foe, and the determination
not to give up until you are fairly beaten--all these things count for
much. So, after all, one can not blame the college lads for the intense
interest they take in their games. It is the best kind of training for
life, for it is clean and healthful.

For a week or more this preliminary practice was kept up. The weather
remained fine, and every afternoon the diamond was the scene of much
excitement. The candidates reported faithfully, and worked hard. There
were many shifts from some of the Sophomore or Junior nines to the
'varsity, and back again. Some who had been called to the "scrub," as I
shall call the class nines when they practiced against the 'varsity,
were sent back to the waiting list--at best to bunt balls to their
fellows, to pitch or catch as suited the positions they hoped to fill.

Nor was it all easy work, it was really hard toil. It is one thing to
play ball without much care as to the outcome, to toss the horsehide
back and forth, and, if it is missed, only to laugh.

It is one thing to try to bat, to watch the ball coming toward you,
wondering what sort of a curve will break, and whether you will hit it
or miss it--or whether it will hit you--it is one thing to do that in a
friendly little game, and laugh if you strike out.

But when making a nine depends on whether your stick connects with the
sphere--when getting the college letter for your sweater can be made,
or unmade, by this same catching of the ball, then there is a different
story back of it. There is a nervous tension that tires one almost as
much as severe physical labor.

And there is hard physical work, too. Of course it is a welcome change
from the class-room work, or the lectures, to get out on the diamond,
but it is work, none the less.

Then there are the coaches to put up with. I never was a coach, though I
have played under them, and I suppose there is some virtue in the method
they use--that of driving the men.

And when a lad has done his best, has stood up to the ball, and clouted
at it for all he is worth, only to fan the yielding air, it is rather
discouraging to hear the coach remark sarcastically:

"You're not playing ping-pong, you know, Jones."

Or to hear him say with vinegary sweetness:

"Did you hurt yourself that time, Smith? It was a beautiful wind blow,
but--er--pardon me if I mention, just for your benefit you know, that
the object in this game is to _hit the ball_. You hit it, and then you
run--run, understand, not walk. And another thing, don't be so afraid of
it.

"Of course this isn't a rubber ball, of the sort you probably used to
play baby in the hole with--it's hard, and when it hits you it's going
to hurt. But--don't let it hit you, and for cats' sake stand up to the
plate!"

It's a way coaches have, I suppose, and always will. Joe felt so, at any
rate, and he had rather one would fairly howl at him, in all sorts of
strenuous language, than use that sarcastic tone. And I think I agree
with him.

There is something you get at when a coach yells at you:

"Come on there you snail! Are you going to hold that base all day?
Someone else wants to get past you know.

"Come on in! We need that run! Move as if you meant it! Don't fall
asleep! Oh, for cats' sake, fanning the air again? Run now! That's it.
Slide! Don't be afraid of soiling your clothes, we'll buy you another
suit!"

I hold this is preferable to the soft and sarcastic method, but they
used both varieties at Yale, and Joe sometimes got so discouraged at
times that he felt like resigning. It was harder than he had dreamed of,
and he had not pictured a rosy time for himself.

"I don't believe I'm ever going to make even the class scrub, Spike,"
said Joe to his room-mate one day, following some long practice, when he
had not even been called on to bat.

"Oh, yes you will," declared his friend. "You can pitch--you know it,
and I know it. I haven't caught off you these two weeks for nothing. You
can pitch, and they'll find it out sooner or later. Don't give up!"

"I'm not going to. And say, come to think of it, you're no better off
than I am. They haven't noticed you either, and yet I've never seen
anyone who held the balls any better than you do. And, as for throwing
to second--say, you've got Kendall beaten."

"I'm glad you think so," murmured Spike.

"I know it!" insisted Joe. "I've played in a few games. But what's the
use of kicking? Maybe our chance will come."

"I hope so," replied Spike.

The practice went on, the elimination and weeding out process being
carried on with firm hands, regardless of the heart-breaks caused.

"First game to-morrow," announced Jimmie Lee, bursting into Joe's room
one evening. "It's just been decided."

"Who do we play?" asked Spike. Joe felt his heart sink down lower than
ever, for he realized that if he had a chance he would have heard of it
by this time.

"Oh, it isn't a regular game," went on Jimmie, who was jubilant from
having heard that he would at least start at first base for the class
team. "The scrub, as they call it, and 'varsity will play the first
regular contest. Horsehide is to be there for the first time. Then
there'll be something doing. I only hope he sees me."

"The first regular practice game to-morrow," mused Joe. "Well, it will
be a good one--to watch."

"Yes--to watch," joined in Spike, grimly. "But the season is early yet,
Joe."

As they were talking the door opened and Ricky Hanover came in. He was
grinning broadly.

"Let's go out and have some sport," he proposed. "It's as dull as ditch
water around here. Come on out and raise a riot. I'll take you fellows
down to Glory's, and you can have a rabbit."

"Get out!" cried Spike. "We're in training, you heathen, and you're
not."

"A precious lot of good it will do you," commented the newcomer. "Why
don't you chuck it all? You'll never make the team--I mean you and Joe,
Spike. Jimmie here has had luck. Chuck it and come on out."

"No," spoke Joe slowly. "I'm going to stick."

"So am I," added his room-mate. "You never can tell when your chance
will come. Besides, we owe it to Yale to stick."

"All right--I suppose you're right," agreed Ricky, with a sigh. "I did
the same thing at football. But I sure do want to start something."

"Begin on that," laughed Joe passing him over the alarm clock. "It's
run down. Wind it and start it going!"

Ricky joined in the laugh against him, and soon took his departure. Joe
heard him come in at an early morning hour, and wondered what "sport"
Ricky had been up to.

A large gathering turned out to see the first real baseball contest of
the season. By it a line could be had on the sort of game the 'varsity
would put up, and all the students were eager to see what sort of
championship material they had.

There was a conference between coaches and captains, and the 'varsity
list was announced Weston was to pitch, and Kendall to catch. Neither
Joe's name, nor those of any of his intimate chums were called off for a
class team.

Joe did have some hope of the scrub, but when the name of the last man
there had been called off, Joe's was not mentioned. He moved off to the
side, with bitterness in his heart.

The game started off rather tamely, though the class pitcher--Bert
Avondale--managed to strike out two of the 'varsity men, to the disgust
of the coaches, who raced about, imploring their charges to hit the
ball. At the same time they called on the scrub to do their best to
prevent the 'varsity men from getting to the bases.

It was playing one against the other, just as diamond dust is used to
cut the precious stones of which it once formed a part.

"Well, I haven't seen anything wonderful," remarked Joe to Spike, after
the first inning.

"No, they're a little slow warming up. But wait. Oh, I say, here he
comes!"

"Who?"

"The head coach--Horsehide himself. I heard he was to be here to-day.
It's his first appearance. Now they'll walk Spanish."

Across the back-field a man was approaching--a man who was eagerly
surrounded by many of the candidates, and he was cheered to the echo,
while murmurs of his name reached Joe.

"Let's go up and have a look at him," proposed Spike.

"Go ahead," agreed Joe, for the game had momentarily stopped at the
advent of the head coach.

He was shaking hands all around, and, as Joe approached, Mr. Forsythe
Hasbrook turned to greet someone behind him. Joe had a good look at his
face, and to his great surprise he recognized it as that of the man whom
he had driven to the depot in such a rush to catch a train.

"And he's Yale's head coach!" murmured Joe. "I--I wonder if he'll
remember me?"



CHAPTER XV

HIS FIRST CHANCE


Joe Matson's hope of a quick recognition from the man he had helped that
day, and who had turned out to be Yale's head coach, was doomed to
disappointment, for Mr. Hasbrook--or, to give him the title lovingly
bestowed on him by the players, "Horsehide"--had something else to do
just then besides recognizing casual acquaintances. He wanted to watch
the playing.

After a brief conference between himself and the other two coaches, in
which the 'varsity captain had a part, Horsehide motioned for the
playing to be resumed. He said little at first, and then when Weston,
who was pitching, made a partial motion to throw the ball to first base,
to catch a man there, but did not complete his evident intention, Mr.
Hasbrook called out:

"Hold on there! Wait a minute, Weston. That was as near a balk as I've
ever seen, and if this was a professional game you might lose it for us,
just as one of the world series was, by a pitcher who did the same
thing."

"What do you mean?" asked Weston, slightly surprised.

"I mean that pretending to throw a ball to first, and not completing the
action, is a balk, and your opponents could claim it if they had been
sharp enough. Where were your eyes?" he asked, of the scrub captain.

"I--er--I didn't think----"

"That's what your brains are for," snapped the head coach. "You can't
play ball without brains, any more than you can without bases or a bat.
Watch every move. It's the best general who wins battles--baseball or
war. Now go on, and don't do that again, Weston, and, if he does, you
call a balk on him and advance each man a base," ordered Horsehide.

The 'varsity pitcher and the scrub captain looked crestfallen, but it
was a lesson they needed to learn.

"He's sharp, isn't he?" said Joe.

"That's what makes him the coach he is," spoke Spike. "What's the use of
soft-soap? That never made a ball nine."

"No, I suppose not." Joe was wondering whether he ought to mention to
his chum the chance meeting with Mr. Hasbrook, but he concluded that a
wrong impression might get out and so he kept quiet, as he had done in
the matter of the red paint on the porch. Nothing more had been heard
about that act of vandalism, though the professor who had fallen and
spoiled the valuable manuscripts was reported to be doing some quiet
investigating.

"I believe Weston had a hand in it," thought Joe, "but I'm not going to
say anything. He had red paint on him, anyhow. I wonder what he has
against me, and if he can do anything to keep me from getting a chance?
If I thought so I'd--no, I can't do anything. I've just got to take it
as it comes. If I do get a chance, though, I think I can make good."

The practice game went on, developing weak spots in both nines, and
several shifts were made. But the 'varsity pitcher remained the same,
and Joe watched Weston narrowly, trying to find out his good points.

For Weston had them. He was not a brilliant twirler, but he was a steady
one, in the main, and he had considerable speed, but not much of a
curve. Still he did manage to strike out a number of his opponents.

The game was almost over, and the 'varsity had it safely in hand. They
had not obtained it without hard work, however, and they had made many
glaring errors, but in this they were not alone.

"Though, for that matter," declared Joe, "I think the scrub pitcher did
better, and had better support, than the 'varsity. I don't see why the
scrubs didn't win."

"It's just because they know they're playing against the 'varsity,"
declared Spike. "There's a sort of nervousness that makes 'em forget to
do the things they could do if it was some other nine. Sort of over-awed
I guess."

"Maybe," assented Joe. "Well, here's the end," and the game came to a
close.

"Now for the post-mortem," remarked his room-mate. "The coaches and
captain will get together and talk it over."

"Then we might as well vamoose," said Joe. "They won't need us."

"I guess not. Come on."

The boys strolled from the diamond. As they passed a group of the
'varsity players surrounding the coaches, Joe saw Mr. Hasbrook step
forward. He had a bat and seemed to be illustrating some of the weak
points of the plays just made, or to be about to demonstrate how
properly to swing at a ball. As Joe came opposite him the head coach
stepped out a little and saw our hero.

For a moment he stared unrecognizingly at him, and then a smile came
over his rugged face. His eyes lighted up, and, stepping forward, he
held out his hand.

"Why, how do you do!" he exclaimed. "I know you--I'm sure I've seen you
somewhere before, and under queer circumstances, too, but I can't just
recall--hold on, wait a moment!" he exclaimed, as he saw Joe about to
speak. "I like to make my brain work.

"Ah! I have it! You're the young fellow who drove me to the station, in
time to catch the New York train, the day my carriage wheel broke. Well,
but I'm glad to see you again! That was a great service you did me, and
I haven't forgotten it. Are you attending here?"

"Yes," said Joe, glad that he had not been forgotten.

"Good! Are you playing ball?"

"Well--er--I--that is I haven't----"

"Oh, I see. You're trying for your team. Good! I'm glad to hear it. It's
a great game--the greatest there is. And so you are at Yale--Matson--you
see I haven't forgotten your name. I never expected to meet you here. Do
you know the other coaches?"

"I've met them," murmured Joe, and he half smiled in a grim fashion, for
that was about as far as his acquaintanceship had progressed. He had met
them but they did not know him apart from many others.

"Good!" exclaimed Mr. Hasbrook. "Well, I'll see you again. And so you're
at Yale? Look me up when you get time," and he turned back to his
instruction, murmuring to the other coaches: "He did me quite a service
some time ago. I'm glad to see him again. Seems like a nice lad."

The others murmured an assent, and then gave their whole attention to
the man who had, more than anyone else, perhaps, mastered the science of
baseball as it ought to be played.

"Well, say, you've got a friend at court all right!" exclaimed Spike, as
he and Joe strolled along. "If I had your chance I'd----"

"Chance!" exclaimed Joe. "What better chance have I than I had before?"

"Why, you know Horsehide! Why didn't you say so?"

"I didn't know I did until a little while ago. I had no idea that the
man I picked up and took to the station would turn out to be the Yale
coach. But if you think he's going to put me in ahead of the others just
on that account you're mistaken."

"Oh, I don't say that."

"It wouldn't be square," went on Joe.

"Of course not. But as long as he does know you he might at least
prevail on the other coaches to give you a better chance than you've had
so far."

"Well, maybe," laughed Joe. "But I'm not expecting anything like that."

"Well, just remember me when your chance does come," begged Spike. "And
remember that I told you."

"I will," declared Joe, with a laugh, and then he added more earnestly:
"If ever I do get on the mound, Spike, I'll try to have you catch for
me."

"I wish you would!"

As they went off the field they saw the knot of players still gathered
about the head, and other coaches, receiving instructions, and how Joe
Matson wished he was there none but himself knew.

In their rooms that afternoon and evening the ball players talked of
little save the result of the first real clash between 'varsity and
scrub, and the effect of the return of the head coach. It was agreed
that the 'varsity, after all, had made a very creditable showing, while
the upholders of the class team players gave them much praise.

"But things will begin to hum now!" exclaimed Jimmie Lee, as he sat in
Joe's room, while the beds, sofa and table, to say nothing of the floor,
were encumbered with many lads of the Red Shack, and some visitors from
other places. "Yes, sir! Horsehide won't stand for any nonsense. They'll
all have to toe the line now."

"Jove, weren't the other coaches stiff enough?" asked Clerkinwell De
Vere, who aspired to right field. "They certainly laced into me for
further orders when I muffed a ball."

"And so they should," declared Spike. "That's what they're for."

"Oh, but wait until you do that when Horsehide sees you," went on
Jimmie. "That won't be a marker, will it, Shorty?"

"I should say not. He'll make your hair curl all right. He's a terror."

"Friend of Joe's here," put in Spike.

"No! is he?" demanded Ricky Hanover, who had drifted in. "How's that?"

"Oh, I just met him by accident," declared our hero. "It isn't worth
mentioning." He told the incident after some urging.

"I wish I stood in your shoes," said De Vere. "I'd be sure of my place
then."

"Nothing of the sort!" exclaimed Jimmie Lee. "If Horsehide played
favorites that way, he wouldn't be the coach he is. That's one thing
about him--he makes his friends work harder than anyone else. I know he
did it other seasons--everyone says so."

"Oh, he's square," chimed in another. "There's not a better coach
living, and none you can depend on more. All he wants is to see good,
clean playing, and Yale to win."

Joe could not help thinking of the coincidence of meeting the head coach
but, though he did have slight hopes that it might lead to something, he
resolutely put them out of his mind.

"I don't want to get on even the 'varsity that way!" he said to himself
that night, when the visitors were gone, and he and Spike had turned
in. "I want to win my way."

Nevertheless, he could not help a feeling of slight nervousness the next
day, when he reported for practice.

"Well, same old gag over again I suppose," remarked Spike, as they went
out to toss and catch.

"I suppose so," agreed Joe.

He passed Mr. Hasbrook, who was giving some instructions to the fielders
just before the 'varsity-class game, but the head coach did not even
notice Joe.

After some batting and catching, and some warming-up work on the part of
the pitchers, Mr. Benson called for a cessation of practice.

"Here is the batting order and positions of the nines for to-day," he
announced, producing a paper. He began to read off the names. For the
'varsity they were the same as the day before. Joe, who had permitted
himself a faint hope, felt his heart sinking.

"For the opposition, or scrub," announced the assistant coach, and he
ran down the line, until there was but one place unfilled--that of
pitcher.

"Joe Matson!" he called, sharply.



CHAPTER XVI

JOE MAKES GOOD


For a moment our hero could scarcely believe his good fortune. He had
been called to pitch for the scrub! Once more as he stood there,
scarcely comprehending, Mr. Benson called out sharply:

"Didn't you hear, Matson? You're to pitch against the 'varsity, and I
want you to beat 'em!"

"Yes--yes, sir," answered Joe, in a sort of daze.

"And, 'varsity, if you don't pound him all over the field you're no
good! Eat 'em up!" snapped the assistant coach.

"Don't let 'em win, scrub," insisted Mr. Whitfield, and thus it went
on--playing one against the other to get the 'varsity to do its best.

"Play ball!" called the umpire. "Get to work. Come in, you fellows," and
he motioned to those who were out on the field warming up.

"Congratulations, old man!" murmured Spike, as he shook Joe's hand. "You
deserve it."

"And so do you. I wish you were going to catch."

"I wish so, too, but maybe my chance will come later. Fool 'em now."

"I'll try."

Joe had a vision of Bert Avondale, the regular scrub pitcher, moving to
the bench, and for an instant his heart smote him, as he noted Bert's
despondent attitude.

"It's tough to be displaced," murmured Joe. "It's a queer world where
your success has to be made on someone else's failure, and yet--well,
it's all in the game. I may not make good, but I'm going to try awfully
hard!"

He wondered how his advancement had come about, and naturally he
reasoned that his preferment had resulted from the words spoken in
private by Mr. Hasbrook.

"I wonder if I'd better thank him?" mused Joe. "It would be the right
thing to do, and yet it would look as if he gave me the place by favor
instead of because I've got a right to have it, for the reason that I
can pitch. And yet he doesn't know that I can pitch worth a cent, unless
some of the other coaches have told him. But they haven't watched me
enough to know. However, I think I'll say nothing until I have made
good."

Had Joe only known it, he had been more closely watched since his advent
on the diamond than he had suspected. It is not the coach who appears to
be taking notes of a man's style of play who seems to find out most.
Mr. Hasbrook, once he found that the lad who had rendered him such a
service was at Yale, and had aspirations to the nine, made inquiries of
the coaches who had done the preliminary work.

"Oh, Matson. Hum, yes. He does fairly well," admitted Mr. Benson. "He
has a nice, clean delivery. He isn't much on batting, though."

"Few pitchers are," remarked the head coach. "I wonder if it would do to
give him a trial?"

"I should say so--yes," put in Mr. Whitfield. He was quick to see that
his co-worker had a little prejudice in Joe's favor, and, to do the
assistant coaches justice, they both agreed that Joe had done very well.
But there were so many ahead of him--men who had been at Yale
longer--that in justice they must be tried out first.

"Then we'll try him on the scrub," decided Mr. Hasbrook; and so it had
come about that Joe's name was called.

In order to give the scrubs every opportunity to beat the 'varsity, and
so that those players would work all the harder to clinch the victory,
the scrubs were allowed to go to bat last, thus enhancing their chances.

"Play ball!" yelled the umpire again. "It's getting late. Play ball!"

Joe, a little nervous, walked to the box, and caught the new white ball
which was tossed to him. As he was rubbing some dirt on it, to take off
the smoothness of the horsehide, Mr. Hasbrook advanced toward him and
motioned him to wait.

"Matson," said the head coach, smiling genially. "You wouldn't let me
reward you for the great favor you did me a while ago, though I wanted
to. I hoped sometime to be able to reciprocate, but I never thought it
would come in this way. I have decided to give you a chance to make
good."

"And I can't thank you enough!" burst out the young pitcher. "I feel
that----"

"Tut! Tut!" exclaimed Mr. Hasbrook, holding up his hand, "I wouldn't
have done this if I didn't think you had pitching stuff in you. In a way
this isn't a favor at all, but you're right though, it might not have
come so quickly. I appreciate your feelings, but there are a few things
I want to say.

"At Yale every man stands on his own feet. There is no favoritism.
Wealth doesn't count, as I guess you've found out. Membership in the
Senior Societies--Skull and Bones, Scroll and Keys--Wolf's Head--doesn't
count--though, as you will find, those exclusive organizations take
their members because of what they have done--not of what they are.

"And so I'm giving you a chance to see what is in you. I'd like to see
you make good, and I believe you will. But--if you don't--that ends it.
Every tub must stand on its own bottom--you've got to stand on your
feet. I've given you a chance. Maybe it would have come anyhow, but, out
of friendship to you, and because of the service you did me, I was
instrumental in having it come earlier. That is not favoritism. You
can't know how much you did for me that day when you enabled me to get
the train that, otherwise, I would have missed.

"It was not exactly a matter of life and death, but it was of vital
importance to me. I would be ungrateful, indeed, if I did not repay you
in the only way I could--by giving you the chance to which you are
entitled.

"But--this is important--you've got to show that you can pitch or you'll
lose your place. I've done what I can for you, and, if you prove worthy
I'll do more. I'll give you the best coaching I can--but you've got to
have backbone, a strong arm, a level head, and grit, and pluck, and a
lot of other things to make the Yale nine. If you do I'll feel justified
in what I have done. Now, play ball!" and without giving him a chance to
utter the thanks that were on his lips, Mr. Hasbrook left Joe and took a
position where he could watch the playing.

It is no wonder that our hero felt nervous under the circumstances.
Anyone would, I think, and when he pitched a wild ball, that the
catcher had to leap for, there were some jeers.

"Oh, you've got a great find!" sneered Weston. "He's a pitcher from
Pitchville!"

Joe flushed at the words, but he knew he would have to stand more than
that in a match game, and he did not reply.

Other derogatory remarks were hurled at him, and the coaches permitted
it, for a pitcher who wilts under a cross-fire is of little service in a
big game, where everything is done to "get his goat," as the saying
goes.

"Ball two!" yelled the umpire, at Joe's second delivery, and the lad was
aware of a cold feeling down his spine.

"I've got to make good! I've got to make good!" fiercely he told himself
over again. There seemed to be a mist before his eyes, but by an effort
he cleared it away. He stooped over pretending to tie his shoe lace--an
old trick to gain time--and when he rose he was master of himself again.

Swiftly, cleanly, and with the curve breaking at just the right moment,
his next delivery went over the plate. The batsman struck at it and
missed by a foot.

"Good work, old man!" called the catcher to him. "Let's have another."

But the next was a foul, and Joe began to worry.

"You're finding him," called the 'varsity captain to his man. "Line one
out."

But Joe was determined that this should not be, and it was not, for
though the batter did not make a move to strike at the second ball after
the foul, the umpire called sharply:

"Strike--batter's out."

There was a moment of silence, and then a yell of delight from the
scrubs and their friends.

"What's the matter with you?" angrily demanded Mr. Hasbrook of the
batter. "Can't you hit anything?"

The batsman shook his head sadly.

"That's the boy!"

"That's the way to do it!"

"You're all right, Matson!"

These were only a few cries that resounded. Joe felt a warm glow in his
heart, but he knew the battle had only begun.

If he had hoped to pitch a no-hit, no-run game he was vastly
disappointed, for the batters began to find him after that for
scattering pokes down the field. Not badly, but enough to show to Joe
and the others that he had much yet to learn.

I am not going to describe that practice game in detail, for there are
more important contests to come. Sufficient to say that, to the utter
surprise of the 'varsity, the scrub not only continued to hold them well
down, but even forged ahead of them. In vain the coaches argued,
stormed and pleaded. At the beginning of the ninth inning the scrubs
were one run ahead.

"Now if we can shut them out we'll win!" yelled Billy Wakefield, the
scrub captain, clapping Joe on the back. "Can you do it?"

"I'll try, old man," and the pitcher breathed a trifle faster. It was a
time to try his soul.

He was so nervous that he walked the first man, and the 'varsity began
to jeer him.

"We've got his goat! Play tag around the bases now! Everyone gets a poke
at it!" they cried.

Joe shut his lips firmly. He was holding himself well in, and Mr.
Hasbrook, watching, murmured:

"He's got nerve. He may do, if he's got the ability, the speed and the
stick-to-it-iveness. I think I made no mistake."

Joe struck out the next man cleanly, though the man on first stole to
second. Then, on a puzzling little fly, which the shortstop, with no
excuse in the world, missed, another man got to first.

There was a double steal when Joe sent in his next delivery, and the
catcher, in a magnificent throw to second, nearly caught his man. It was
a close decision, but the umpire called him safe.

There were now two on bases, the first sack being unoccupied, and only
one out.

"Careful," warned the catcher, and Joe nodded.

Perhaps it was lucky that a not very formidable hitter was up next, for,
after two balls had been called, Joe struck him out, making two down.

"Now for the final!" he murmured, as the next batter faced him. There
were still two on bases, and a good hit would mean two runs in, possibly
three if it was a homer.

"I'm going to strike him out!" thought Joe fiercely.

But when two foul strikes resulted from balls that he had hoped would be
missed he was not so sure. He had given no balls, however, and there was
still a reserve in his favor.

"Ball one!" yelled the umpire, at the next delivery. Joe could hear his
mates breathing hard. He rubbed a little soil on the horsehide, though
it did not need it, but it gave him a moment's respite. Then, swift and
sure, he threw the bail. Right for the plate it went, and the batter
lunged fiercely at it.

But he did not hit it.

"Striker out--side's out!" came from the umpire.

Joe had made good.



CHAPTER XVII

ANOTHER STEP


"'Varsity beaten! What do you know about that?" gasped Ricky Hanover, as
the crowd that had watched the game swarmed out on the diamond.

"And Joe Matson did it!" added Spike. "Jove! but I'm glad for his sake!
And him only a Freshman, playing on a scrub class team. I'm glad!"

"So am I," added Jimmie Lee, who joined them.

"Will this get him a permanent place?" asked Ricky. "He's entitled to
it."

"Well, he's got his foot on the first rung of the ladder anyhow," was
Jimmie's opinion. "But it'll be a good while before he pitches for the
'varsity. He's got to show the coaches that it was no freak work.
Besides he's got a year to wait."

"And he can do it!" declared Spike. "I haven't been catching him these
last two weeks for nothing. Joe isn't a freak pitcher. He's got
control, and that's better than speed or curves, though he has them,
too."

On all sides there was talk about the result of the practice game. Of
course the second nine had, in times past, often beaten the 'varsity,
for the element of luck played into the hands of the scrub as well as
into those of its opponents.

But the times were few and far between when the first nine had to go
down to defeat, especially in the matter of a scrub Freshman pitcher
administering it to them, and Joe's glory was all the greater.

"Congratulations, old man!" exclaimed Avondale, the scrub twirler whom
Joe had temporarily displaced. "You saw your duty and you done it nobly,
as the poet says. You didn't let 'em fuss you when you were in a tight
corner, and that's what tells in a ball game. Shake!"

"Thanks!" exclaimed Joe. He knew just what it meant for his rival to do
this, and he appreciated it. "You can have a whack at them next."

"I'm afraid not," returned Avondale. "You did so well that they'll want
to keep you at scrub, and you'll be on the 'varsity before you know it."

"I wish I could think so," laughed Joe. As he spoke he saw Ford Weston
passing behind him, and the 'varsity pitcher had heard what was said. A
scowl passed over his face. He did not speak to Joe, but to Captain
Hatfield, who was with him, the pitcher murmured, loudly enough to be
heard:

"It was just a fluke, that was all. We could have won only for the
errors the fielders made."

"Maybe--maybe not," agreed the captain. "I think we were outpitched, and
I'm not afraid to acknowledge it. We've got to do better!"

"Do you mean me?" There was challenge in Weston's tone.

"I mean all of us," was the quiet answer. "Matson, you did us up brown,
but you won't do it again," and the captain laughed frankly.

"I'll try--if I get the chance," was the grim retort.

Meanwhile the coaches had singled out some of the 'varsity members whose
playing had shown faults, and were giving instructions how to correct
them. Merky Bardine, who played on third, had sprained his leg slightly,
and the trainer, McLeary, had taken him in hand to treat him. Mr.
Hasbrook walked up to Joe.

"You did very well," the chief coach was good enough to say, "and I'm
glad you had your chance. You have a number of faults to correct, but I
think you can master them. One is that you don't get enough into the
game yourself. A pitcher must do more than merely deliver the ball.
Twice in this game you didn't get after the bunts as you might have
done."

Joe felt a little discouraged. He had hoped for unqualified praise from
the head coach, but he was sensible enough to realize that it was all
said for his benefit, and he resolved to profit by it. In fact it was
this quality and ability of Joe's--enabling him to receive advice
graciously--that made him the wonderful pitcher he afterward became.

"You must play into the game more," went on Mr. Hasbrook. "Outside of
the catcher, you're the only man on the team who can handle certain
bunts--I mean the pitcher. For that reason you want to study a style of
delivery that won't leave you in a bad position to look after the ball
if it is hit your way. You have the right idea now in throwing, but you
can improve, I'm sure."

"I'll try," spoke Joe.

"I know you will, and that's why I'm taking the trouble to talk to you.
Then you've got to be on the watch for base stealing. There are some
catchers who can pretend to throw to second, and yet so suddenly change
as to deliver the ball to the pitcher. This deceives the man on third,
who starts for home, and if you have the ball you can nip him. So far we
haven't had a catcher who can work this trick, but we may develop one
before we get through."

"Then Kendall isn't sure of his place?" asked Joe eagerly, thinking of
the desire of his chum Spike to fill the position behind the plate later
on.

"Well, he's reasonably sure of it," went on the head coach cautiously.
"But we never can tell what will develop after the season opens. Another
point I'd like to impress on you is, that sometimes you've got to help
out on first base. Particularly is this the case when a bunt comes that
the first baseman can take care of. Then it's your duty to hustle over
to first."

"Yes, sir," answered Joe. It was all he could think of to say at the
time. In fact he was rather dazed. There was a deal more to this
baseball game than he had imagined. He was beginning to get an inkling
of the difference between the amateur sport and the professional way of
playing.

"I don't want to burden you with too much advice at the start," went on
Mr. Hasbrook, "for I want you to remember what I tell you. From time to
time, as I see your weak points, I'm going to mention them to you."

"I'll be glad if you will," spoke Joe earnestly.

"On the whole you did very well to-day," concluded the head coach, "and
I'm glad we gave you the chance. Report for light practice to-morrow,
and the next day we'll try another game. Look after your arm. You used
it a good bit this afternoon."

Joe felt in rather better spirits after Mr. Hasbrook had finished than
when he began.

"I'm going to get a fair chance to show what I can do, anyhow,"
declared our hero, as he went to his room. On the way he was joined by
Spike, who had dropped back when the head coach started his
instructions.

"Well?" asked Joe's room-mate.

"Fairly well," was the answer. "Say, I believe you've got a chance,
Spike."

"Me? How?"

"Why, it isn't settled that Kendall will catch all of next season."

"Oh, I guess it is as much as anything is settled in this world. But I
can wait. I've got four years here."

Joe was elated at his triumph, and little was talked of in baseball
circles that night but how the scrubs had "put one over" on the
'varsity. There was some disposition to criticize the first team for
loose and too confident playing, but those who knew gave Joe credit for
what he had done.

And so the baseball season went on until the 'varsity was fully
perfected and established, the class teams improved and the schedule
made up. Then came hard and grilling work. Joe was doing his best on his
Freshman class team, and often played against the college nine, either
in conjunction with his mates, or, when it was desired to give one of
the other Freshmen pitchers a chance, taking part with a mixed "scrub"
team, composed of lads from various classes in order to give the
'varsity good opposition.

And Yale swept on her way. Of course Joe bewailed the fact that he would
have to lose a whole year before he could hope for a chance to be on the
first team, but he bided his time. Weston was doing fairly well, and the
feeling between him and our hero had not changed.

The Spring term was drawing to a close. Yale and Princeton had met
twice, and there was a game apiece. Yale had also played other colleges,
losing occasionally, but winning often enough to entitle her to claim
the championship if she took the odd game from the Tiger. But she did
not, and though her players insisted, none the less, that Yale was at
the top of the heap, and though the sporting writers conceded this,
still Princeton won the third game. And Yale was bitter, though she
stood it grimly,--as she always does.

"Well, we'll see what next year will bring forth," said Spike to Joe, at
the wind-up of the baseball season. "You're coming back; aren't you?"

"I wouldn't miss it for anything now. Though, as a matter of fact, I
didn't expect to. I thought I'd take one year here, and if I could get
on the 'varsity nine long enough to say I had been on it, I'd quit, and
go in for the professional end of it. But, since I can't, I'll come
back and make another stab at it."

"That's the way to talk. Well, I hope to be here, too."

The Summer vacation came, and Joe had passed his examinations. Not
brilliantly, but sufficiently well to enable him to enter the Sophomore
class.

"And if I don't make the 'varsity next Spring, it will be my own fault!"
he cried, as he said good-bye to his chums and packed up for home.

The Summer passed pleasantly enough. Joe's family took a cottage at a
lake resort, and of course Joe organized a ball team among the temporary
residents of the resort. A number of games were played, Joe pitching in
fine style. One day a manager of one of the minor leagues attended a
contest where Joe pitched, and when word of this was carried to our
hero he had a nervous fit. But he pulled himself together, twirled
magnificently, and was pleased to see the "magnate" nod approvingly.
Though later, when someone offered to introduce Joe to him, the lad
declined.

"I'll wait until I've made a better reputation," he declared. "I want
the Yale Y before I go looking for other honors;" and he stuck to that.

"Joe seems to care more for college than you thought he would, father,"
said Mrs. Matson, when it came time for her son to go back as a
Sophomore for the next Fall term. "I think he'll finish yet, and make us
all proud of him."

"Joe will never do anything that would not make us proud of him," said
his father. "But I rather fancy the reason he is so willing to go back
to Yale is that he didn't make the 'varsity baseball nine last season.
There's a rule against Freshmen, you know."

"Oh dear!" lamented Mrs. Matson. "I did hope he would like college for
its own sake, and not for baseball."

"It's hard to separate baseball and football from college likings, I
guess," conceded her husband.

And so Joe went back. It was quite different from entering New Haven as
a Freshman, and even in the old elms he seemed to have a proprietary
interest. He took his old room, because he liked it, and a number of his
other Sophomore friends did likewise, though some Freshmen held forth
there as usual.

Then came the football season, and, though Joe took an interest in this,
and even consented to try for the scrub, he was not cut out for that
sort of work, and soon gave it up.

Yale made her usual success on the gridiron, though the far-famed game
with Princeton resulted in a tie, which made the baseball nine all the
more anxious to win the championship.

The Winter seemed endless, but soon there was the beginning of baseball
talk, as before, and this was regarded as a sign of Spring. There was no
question now but what Joe was eligible for the 'varsity, though that was
far from saying that he would be picked for it. All his old friends had
returned to the university, and there was little change in the baseball
situation as regards new names. Most of the old ones kept their same
places.

Nothing definite had been learned about the red paint episode, and
though it was mentioned occasionally, and often in a censorious manner
as against the perpetrator of it, the latter was not discovered.

Then there began to gather at Yale the oldtime players, who acted as
coaches. Mr. Hasbrook, who from long familiarity with the game, and from
his intense love of it, and for his _alma mater_, was again named as
head coach.

"Well, we've got a pretty good nine, I think," said Weston one day,
after hard practice against the Freshmen. How Joe did thank his stars
that he was not in the latter team, though he was first pitcher on the
Sophomore team.

"Yes, we have," admitted several. "It looks as if we could trim
Princeton this time." Joe had pitched for the 'varsity in some informal
practice games, though Weston was regarded still as first choice. And
Joe was fearful that his cherished ambition was yet far from being
realized.

"We're playing good ball," said Weston. "I don't say that because I'm
pitching," he added quickly, as he saw some looking at him curiously,
"but because we have got a good team--mostly old players, too," and he
glanced meaningly at Joe, as though he resented his entrance as an
aspirant for the mound.

"One thing--we've got to tighten up considerably," declared Captain
Hatfield. "We'll play our first match game with Amherst in two weeks,
and we want to swamp 'em."

"Oh, we will," said Weston easily.

"Not unless you pitch better--and we all play better," was the grim
answer.

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I said. You've got to strike more men out, and play a
livelier game."

"Well, I guess I can," answered the pitcher, sullenly.

There was only light practice the next day, and Joe was told to perfect
himself in signals with the class captain. Then came another hard
practice contest, and, somewhat to Joe's surprise, he was not called on
to pitch, as he fully expected. But he resigned himself cheerfully when
Avondale went to the mound. Had our hero but known it, Mr. Hasbrook had
deliberately omitted to start Joe, wishing to discipline him, not,
however, because of anything Joe had done.

"I think there's championship material for one of the big leagues in
that lad," mused the head coach, to justify himself, "and he's got a
hard row ahead of him unless he learns to take disappointment. I'll
start him on the right track, though I would like to pitch him
steadily."

And so Joe sat on the bench, while his rival pitched. Whether it was on
this account, or because the 'varsity had tightened, was not at once
apparent, but the fact was that the first team began to pound out runs,
and the scrub did not.

"That's the way!" exclaimed the enthusiastic assistant coaches. "Eat 'em
up, 'varsity!"

Mr. Hasbrook smiled, but said nothing. At the end of the seventh inning
Joe was sent in to pitch, but it was too late for the scrubs to save the
game for themselves, since the 'varsity had it by six runs. Nor did Joe
escape hitless, though from the time he went in no runs were made by his
opponents.

"Joe, you're a better pitcher than I am," declared Avondale, frankly. "I
can see where I've made mistakes."

"Well, it isn't too late to fix 'em."

"Yes, I'm afraid it is," and, as it developed, it was, for from then on
Joe did most of the pitching for the scrub. Occasionally, when his arm
was a bit lame, Avondale was sent in, or one of the other pitching
candidates, but the result was nearly always disastrous for the scrub.

Not that Joe always made good. He had his off days, when his curves did
not seem to break right, and when his control was poor. But he was
trying to carry out Mr. Hasbrook's instructions to get into more plays,
and this handicapped him a bit at the start.

The head coach saw this, and made allowances, keeping Joe on the mound
when the assistants would have substituted someone else.

"Wait," advised the head coach. "I know what I'm doing."

The season was beginning to open. Schedules were being arranged, and
soon Yale would begin to meet her opponents. The practice grew harder
and more exacting. The voices of the coaches were more stern and sharp.
No errors were excused, and the scrub was worked doubly hard to make the
'varsity that much better.

Ford Weston had improved considerably and then one day he went to pieces
in the box, when playing a particularly close and hard game with the
scrub.

There was surprise and consternation, and a hasty conference of the
coaches. An attempt was made to stem the tide by putting in McAnish, the
southpaw, and he did some excellent work, but the scrub seemed to have
struck a winning streak and took everything that came their way. Joe was
pitching, and held the first team well down.

There was gloom in Yale that night, for the game with Amherst was not
far off, and the Amherst lads were reported to be a fast and snappy lot.

There was a day of rest, and then came the final practice against the
scrub. There was a consultation among the coaches in which the first and
second captains participated before the contest. Then Mr. Hasbrook
separated himself from the others.

"Matson!" he called sharply. "You and Kendall warm up a bit, and get a
line on each other's signals. Matson, you're going to pitch for the
'varsity to-day!"



CHAPTER XVIII

PLOTTING


Joe Matson was trembling when he went to his place, even after some
lively warming-up practice with the catcher. The very thing he most
wanted had come to him very unexpectedly. And yet he was sensible enough
to realize that this was only a trial, and that it did not mean he would
pitch against Amherst. But he had great hopes.

"Come!" he exclaimed to himself, as he got ready for the opening of the
game. "I've got to pull myself together or I'll go all to pieces. Brace
up!"

The sight of Weston glaring at him helped, in a measure, to restore Joe
to himself.

"He's hoping I won't make good," thought Joe. "But I will! I must!"

It may have been because of Joe's natural nervousness, or because the
scrub team was determined to show that they could bat even their own
pitcher, that was the cause of so many runs coming in during the first
inning. No one could rightly say, but the fact remained that the runs
did come in, and it began to look bad for the 'varsity.

"I told you how it would be--putting in a green pitcher," complained Mr.
Benson.

"Perhaps," admitted the head coach. "But wait a bit. Joe isn't as green
as he looks. Wait until next inning."

And he was justified, for Joe got himself well in hand, and the
'varsity, as if driven to desperation by another defeat staring them in
the face so near to the Amherst game, batted as they never had before.
Avondale was all but knocked out of the box, and the scrub captain
substituted another pitcher, who did much better. Joe's former rival
almost wept at his own inability.

Meanwhile our hero was himself again, and though he did give three men
their bases on balls, he allowed very few hits, so that the 'varsity
took the game by a good margin, considering their bad start.

"That's the way to do it!" cried Captain Hatfield, when the contest was
over.

"Do it to Amherst," was the comment of the head coach.

"We will!" cried the members of the first team.

"Good work, Matson," complimented Hatfield. "Can you do it again?"

"Maybe--if I get the chance," laughed Joe, who was on an elevation of
delight.

"Oh, I guess you'll have to get the chance," spoke the captain. He did
not notice that Weston was close behind him, but Joe did, and he saw the
look of anger and almost hate that passed over the face of the pitcher.

"He looks as though he'd like to bite me," murmured Joe. "And yet it's
all a fair game. I may get knocked out myself. But even then I'm not
going to give up. I'm in this to stay! If not at Yale, then somewhere
else."

If Joe imagined that his work that day had been without flaws he was
soon to be disillusioned, for Mr. Hasbrook, coming up to him a little
later, pointed out where he had made several bad errors in judgment,
though they had not resulted in any gain for the scrub.

"Still," said the head coach, "you don't want to make them, for with a
sharp team, and some of the big college nines playing against you, those
same errors would lose the game." And he proceeded to give Joe some good
advice.

When Avondale, the twice-humiliated pitcher, walked off the diamond that
afternoon, he was joined by Weston, who linked his arm in that of the
scrub twirler.

"Well, we're both in the same boat," remarked Avondale. "A better man
has ousted us."

"Not at all--nothing of the sort!" cried Weston, and his voice showed
how much he was nervously wrought up. "I don't admit for a minute that
Matson can pitch better than I can."

"Well, I do, in my own case, and the coaches seem to in yours."

"I'm a little out of form to-day," admitted Weston, quickly. "I'll be
all right to-morrow, and I'll pitch against Amherst."

"It'll be a great game," spoke Avondale.

"Maybe. But say, what do you think of a fellow like him--a regular
country clod-hopper--coming here, anyhow?"

"Who do you mean?"

"Matson. What right has he got to butt in at a college like Yale, and
displace the fellows who have worked hard for the nine?"

"The right of ability, I suppose."

"Ability nothing! He doesn't belong here, and he ought to be made to
quit."

"Well, I confess I don't like to lose the place I worked so hard for,
and I don't see much chance of making the 'varsity now," admitted
Avondale; "but at the same time I must give Matson credit for his work."

"Bah! It's only a flash in the pan. He can't last. I think I could make
him quit if I wanted to."

"How?"

"Would you join me in a little trick if we could?"

"I don't know. What do you mean?" and Avondale looked curiously at his
companion.

"I mean that red paint business and the spoiling of the ancient
manuscripts. If it was known who did it he'd get fired."

"You don't mean to say Matson had a hand in that!" cried Avondale
aghast.

"I'm not saying anything. But if it could be shown that he did it, he'd
not pitch for Yale--that's sure. Shall I say any more? Remember I'm
making no cracks yet. But I know some things about Matson no one else
knows." This was true enough, but Avondale did not take it in the sense
in which it could have been truthfully said, but, rather, as Weston
meant he should--wrongly.

Now Avondale had one fault. He was too easily led. He was brilliant,
full of promise, and a jolly chap--hail-fellow-well-met with everyone,
and that is not the best thing in the world, though it makes for
temporary popularity. Avondale was his own worst enemy, and many a time
he had not the courage to say "no!" when the utterance of it would have
saved him from trouble. So when Weston thus temptingly held out the
bait, Avondale nibbled.

"Shall I say any more?" went on the other. "Remember, you've got to be
as tight as a drum on this."

"Of course. I--er--I--that is----"

"Come over here and I'll tell you something," went on the 'varsity
pitcher, and the two were soon in close conversation.



CHAPTER XIX

THE ANONYMOUS LETTER


"Have you seen the _News_?" gasped Jimmie Lee, bursting into the room of
Joe and his chum one afternoon, following some baseball practice. "It's
great!"

"You mean have we _heard_ the news; don't you?" questioned Spike. "You
can hear news, but not see it, that is unless the occurrence which makes
news happens to come under your own observation. Where is your logic,
you heathen? _Seen_ news!"

"Yes, that's what I mean!" snapped Jimmie. "I mean have you seen the
last copy of the Yale _News_?"

"No; what is it?" asked Joe quickly. "Something about the baseball
nine?"

"No, it's about those musty old manuscripts that got spoiled the time
Professor Hardee slipped on his doorsteps in the red paint."

"What about 'em?" demanded Joe, thinking of the time he had seen Weston
slipping into his room, trying to conceal his hand on which was a
scarlet smear. "What's new?"

"Why, it seems that some learned high-brow society wrote on to borrow
them, to prove or disprove something that happened in the time of Moses,
and they had to be refused as the sheepskins are illegible. The powers
that be tried to clean off the paint, but it took some of the lettering
with it, and Prof. Hardee and some of his friends are wild over the
loss. The _News_ says it's irreparable, and there's even an editorial on
it."

"Well, that isn't much that's new," went on Joe, as he took the college
paper which Jimmie held out to him. "It was known before that the
parchments were pretty well on the blink. It's a shame, too, for they
are the only ones in the world of that particular dynasty. What else?"

"Lots," went on Jimmie. "The _News_ hints that a committee of Seniors is
working with Professor Hardee and some of the faculty, trying to find
out who was responsible. If they do find out they may make the joker's
folks pay heavy damages."

"Yes, if they find out," put in Spike. "But it happened some time ago,
and they haven't got a hint of it yet. It was a mean trick--I'll say
that--but there are no welchers or squealers at Yale."

"I'm not so sure of that," murmured Jimmie.

"What do you mean?" asked Joe quickly.

"Why this screed goes on to hint that the investigators have a line on
who did it. They have some clews, it seems, and an exposure is hinted
at."

"Get out!" cried Joe, thinking of the effect it would have on Weston
should the truth--as Joe thought it--come out. He had half made up his
mind to deny everything he had seen, even if questioned.

"That's right," asserted Jimmie. "This article says it may soon be known
who did the 'dastardly deed'--note the 'dastardly'--guess the editor
dipped his pen in sulphuric acid. But it was a mean trick, and I guess
we all feel the same way about it. The fellow who did it ought to be
fired. Fun is fun, and I like it as much as anybody, but this passes the
limits."

"Right!" exclaimed Spike. "But does it say anything about who it might
be--what class?"

"Oh, it as much as says a Freshman did it, of course--as if we did
everything last year. Anyhow, it's stirred up a lot of talk, I can tell
you. I just came across the campus and the _News_ sold more copies than
ever before, I guess. Everyone seems to have one, and they're all
talking about it. I hope if they do find out who did it, that he won't
happen to be any of our crowd--or on the ball nine."

"Why?" asked Spike.

"Why--he'd be expelled, of course, and if it was one of the 'varsity
nine it might have a bad effect on winning the championship. We've got
to win that this year."

"Oh, I guess it's mostly talk," asserted Spike, as he read the article
after Joe had finished. As for Joe he said little. But he thought much.

"Maybe," agreed Jimmie. "And yet it looks as if there was something back
of it all. I only hope there isn't. It would be tough for our class to
have to stand for this."

There was more talk along the same line, and, a little later, some other
of the second-year class dropped in and continued the session. There
were differences of opinion, as might have been expected.

"Well, after all is said and done," came from Bert Fost, who by reason
of weight was ineligible for the nine, but who was an enthusiastic
supporter, "when it's all over, I think we'll wipe Amherst off the map."

"We will--if the nine isn't broken up," declared Jimmie.

"Broken up--what do you mean?" and Bert glared at the questioner.

"I mean that if it's proved that some member of the team did this red
paint business it's all off with him having a chance to play against
Amherst."

"Oh, piffle!" declared Bert. "That punk is written by some lad who's
trying to make good on the _News_ so he'll get tapped for Scroll and
Keys. Forget it."

But it was not so easily forgotten, for the article seemed to have some
definite knowledge behind it, and the editorial, though
student-inspired, as all knew, was a sharp one.

"If it really is Weston I'm sorry for him," thought Joe, little thinking
how near he himself was to danger.

There were new developments the next morning--a certain something in the
air as the young men assembled for chapel told that there was about to
be a break. And it came.

"Here comes the Dean!" the whisper went round, when the exercises were
nearly over. "Something's going to be cut loose."

The Dean addressed the students. He began mildly, but soon he had almost
worked himself up to a dramatic situation. In veiled terms he referred
to the red paint outrage, and then, after telling what it meant to have
the valuable manuscripts ruined, he added:

"I assume that you have all seen the article which appears in the
college paper. With that, though I might, I take no issue. On another
phase I do.

"I have received an anonymous letter, accusing a certain student of the
outrage. I shall, in this matter, take the course I always do when I
receive such a cowardly communication as an anonymous letter--I destroy
it unread," and, as he spoke the Dean tore into fragments a piece of
paper. The pieces he carefully put in his pocket, however, with the
remark that they would be consigned to the fire unlooked at, as soon as
possible.

"I wonder who was accused?" said Spike.

"I wonder?" added Joe.



CHAPTER XX

THE CORNELL HOST


"That's the way to do it!"

"Yale always can do it!"

"Bull dog grit!"

"The blue always wins!"

"They came--they saw--but--we conquered!"

It was the close of the Yale-Amherst baseball game, and the sons of
Eli had gloriously triumphed. They had trailed the banners of their
opponents in the dust, they had raced around the bases, they had batted
the ball into the far corners of the field, and they had raced home with
the runs.

"I told you so!" chirped Jimmie Lee.

"Hold on!" cried Slim Jones. "Didn't you start to be a calamity howler,
and say Yale wouldn't win?"

"Never!" asserted Jimmie.

"Yes, you did!"

"Well, I was only bluffing. I knew we could put it all over them."

"And we did," said Spike in a low voice to Joe. "Only----"

"Only I didn't have much share in it," interrupted the aspirant for
pitching honors.

There had indeed been a "shake-up" on the nine the day of the game.
Until the last moment it was not definitely settled who would pitch, and
there were many rumors current. It lay between Joe, Weston, and McAnish,
the left-handed one, and on the morning of the game--the first important
one of the season for Yale--the newspapers had various guesses as to who
would be the twirler.

Joe had hoped to go in at the start, but when the game was called, and
Captain Hatfield submitted his list, it was seen that Weston had the
coveted place.

"Well, old man, you're back where you belong," said Avondale to him, as
the name was called. "I suppose now, that little matter, which you were
speaking to me about, can drop?"

"It can--if I remain pitcher," answered Weston. "But I've got it all
cocked and primed to explode if I have to. I'm not going to sit tight
and let some country whipper-snapper put it all over me."

"I don't know as I blame you--and yet he seems a pretty decent sort."

"Oh, he's not in our class!"

"Well, maybe not. Do your best!"

And Weston did. Never had he pitched a better game--even his enemies,
and he had not a few, admitted that. It was a "walkover" soon after the
first few innings had demonstrated the superiority of Yale. Amherst was
game, and fought to the last ditch, but neither in batting, fielding nor
pitching was she the equal of the wearers of the blue.

Joe, sitting on the bench, with the other substitutes, fretted his heart
out, hoping for a chance to play, but he was not called on until the
eighth inning. Then, after a conference of the coaches, during which the
head one could be seen to gesticulate vigorously, Joe was called on to
bat in place of another, which gave him the call to pitch the next
inning.

"What's the matter?" was asked on all sides. "Is Weston going stale?"

"Glass arm," suggested some of his enemies.

"No, they're saving him for the Harvard game," was the opinion of many.
"They don't want to work him too hard."

"And we have this game anyhow."

"But what's the matter with McAnish?"

"Oh, he's out of form."

And so Joe had gone in at the eleventh hour, before that sitting on the
bench, eating his heart out.

"Show what you can do!" exclaimed the head coach to him as he took the
mound. "And don't worry."

"Don't worry?" repeated Joe.

"That's what I said. Remember what I told you, and don't try to win the
game by merely pitching."

Joe recalled his instructions about backing up first base in an
emergency, of taking care of the bunts, of watching the catcher, who
might try to deceive the man on third.

And it was well for Joe that he did. For, though he did well from the
pitching end, there came several opportunities to distinguish himself in
making infield plays. Once he made a fine stop of a bunt that, had it
been a safety, would have done much to lower Yale's lead. Again he
managed, by a quick play, on getting the ball from the catcher, to throw
out the man at second, who was trying to steal third. There was applause
for Joe Matson that day, though he did not pitch the team to victory.

"Well?" asked Mr. Hasbrook of his colleagues, after the contest. "What
did I tell you? Isn't he an all-around good player?"

"He seems so," admitted Mr. Benson. "But I think Weston did most
excellently."

"Yes, he did," said the head coach, "but mark my words, he's overtrained
or he hasn't the grit to stick it out. Here we are at the beginning of
the season, and he has failed us several times. I don't want to force my
judgment on you gentlemen, but I think we ought to give Matson a better
trial."

"All right, we'll send him in earlier in the Cornell game next week,"
suggested Mr. Whitfield, and to that the head coach agreed.

There were all sorts of baseball politics discussed in the dormitories,
on the campus, and at Glory's and other resorts that night.

"It begins to look as if the coaches didn't quite know where they were
at," declared Ricky Hanover. "They make a shift at the last minute."

"A good shift--according to the way the game went," declared Hen
Johnson, who held down second base.

"That's yet to be seen," asserted Jimmie Lee. "Amherst was fruit for us
to-day."

The opinions went back and forth--_pro_ and _con_--and it was, after
all, a matter of judgment. Yet back of it all was the indomitable Yale
spirit that has often turned defeat into victory. This was to hearten up
those who picked flaws in the playing of the blue, and who predicted a
slump in the following week, when the strong Cornell team would be met.

"Oh, Cornell may row us but she can't play ball us," declared Jimmie
Lee. "We'll dump 'em."

"We may--if Joe Matson pitches," spoke Spike, in a low voice.

"Here! Cut that out," advised Joe, in a sharp whisper.

Meanwhile no more had been heard about the red paint matter, and it
looked to be but a flash in the pan--what the _News_ had printed. The
Senior committee of investigation was not in evidence--at least as far
as could be learned.

Baseball practice went on, sometimes Joe pitching for the 'varsity, and
again one of his rivals being called on. There was a tightening up on
the part of the coaches--they were less tolerant--the errors were less
excused. Bitter words were the portion of those who made mistakes, and
Joe did not escape.

"You must do a little better," the head coach urged him. "We're
not playing school teams, remember, but teams that are but little
removed from the professional class, as regards ability. Play
harder--sharper--more accurately--don't get rattled."

And Joe tried to tell himself that he would do or not do these things,
but it was hard work. He had begun to realize what a career he had
marked out for himself.

"Well, are you going to spring it?" asked Avondale of Weston, a day or
so before the Cornell game. "What about the red paint?"

"Oh, I guess it will keep--if I pitch the game," was the answer.

"Did you send the anonymous letter?"

"Don't ask me," snapped Weston.

The day of the next game came--one of the great battles of the diamond,
on the winning or losing of which depended, in a measure, the gaining of
the championship.

The Cornell host, many strong, descended on New Haven, and made the air
vibrant with their yells. They cheered Yale, and were cheered in turn.

Out on the diamond they trotted--a likely looking lot of lads.

"Husky bunch," commented Jimmie Lee.

"They sure are," agreed Shorty Kendall.

"Who'll pitch for you?"

"Don't know. They're just going to announce it."

The umpire, the captains, managers, and coaches were holding a
conference. Joe, in spite of his seeming indifference, watched them
narrowly. Over in their section the Cornell hosts were singing their
songs and giving their cheers.

The wearers of the blue had given their great cry--they had sung the
Boola song--some had even done the serpentine dance. All was in
readiness for the game.

"If he doesn't pitch me," murmured Weston, "I'll be----"

Mr. Hasbrook motioned to the umpire, who raised his megaphone to make
the announcement.



CHAPTER XXI

EAGER HEARTS


"The battery for Yale will be Weston and Kendall, and for Cornell----"

But the last announcement was given no heed by the supporters of the
blue--at least by the players themselves, the substitutes, and Joe
Matson in particular. A murmur went around.

"Weston! Weston's going to pitch!"

"After the work Baseball Joe's done too!"

"Why, Weston isn't in form."

"Oh, he's practiced hard lately."

"Yes, and he was doing some hot warming-up work a little while ago. I
guess they'll pitch him all right."

"He must have put up a kick, and Hasbrook gave in to him."

"It looks so, and yet Horsehide generally doesn't play a man unless he
can make good. That's Yale's way."

These were only a few of the comments that were being heard on all
sides. The Yale team looked somewhat amazed, and then, lest their
enemies find out that they feared they had a weak spot, they braced up,
smiled and acted as if it was a matter of course. And, as far as Cornell
was concerned, they knew that there was rivalry between Weston and Joe,
but as a pitcher is an uncertain quantity at best, they were not
surprised that the 'varsity twirler whom they had faced the season
before should again occupy the mound. It might be a part of the game to
save Matson until later.

"Tough luck, Joe," said Spike, as he passed his friend.

"Yes--Oh, I don't know! I hadn't any right to expect to pitch!"

Joe tried to be brave about it, but there was a sore feeling in his
heart. He had hoped to go into the game.

"Sure you had a right to expect it!" declared Spike. "You're the logical
pitcher. There's been some funny work going on, I'm sure. Weston has
pulled off something."

"Be careful, Spike."

"Oh, I'm sure of it. Why, look at Horsehide's face!"

Joe glanced at the head coach. Indeed the countenance of Mr. Hasbrook
presented a study. He seemed puzzled as he turned away from a somewhat
spirited conversation with Mr. Benson. For an instant his eyes met those
of Joe, and the young pitcher thought he read in them pity, and yet a
trace of doubt.

"I wonder if he has lost confidence in me?" thought Joe. "I wonder if he
thinks I can't pitch in a big game?"

Yet he knew in his own heart that he had not gone back--he was sure he
could pitch better than he ever had before. The days at Yale, playing
with young men who were well-nigh professionals, had given him
confidence he had not possessed before, and he realized that he was
developing good control of the ball, as well as speed and curves.

"I wonder why he didn't pitch me?" mused Joe.

"Play ball!" called the umpire, and the hearts of all were eager for the
battle of stick and horsehide to begin. Cornell went to the bat first,
and Weston faced his man. There was a smile of confidence on the
pitcher's face, as he wound up, and delivered a few practice balls to
Kendall. Then he nodded as if satisfied, and the batter stepped up to
the plate.

"Strike!" called the umpire, at the first delivery, and there was a
murmur of amazement. The batter himself looked a bit confused, but made
no comment. The ball had gone cleanly over the plate, though it looked
as if it was going to shoot wide, and the player had thought to let it
pass. Weston smiled more confidently.

He was hit for a foul, but after getting three and two he struck the
batter out, and there was a round of applause.

"I couldn't have done it any better myself," said Joe, with honest
praise for his rival.

"Wait," advised Spike. "Weston's got to last over eight more innings to
make good, and he'll never do it."

But when he struck out the next man, and the third had retired on a
little pop fly, Yale began to rise in her might and sing the beginning
of a song of victory.

"Oh, we've got the goods!" her sons yelled.

"How's that for pitching?" demanded someone.

Joe joined in the cheer that was called for Weston, but his heart was
still sore, for he felt that those cheers might have been for him. But
he was game, and smiled bravely.

Yale managed to get one run during the last half of the first inning,
and once more the sons of Eli arose and sent forth a storm of cheers,
songs and college cries.

"Go back home, Cornell!" they screamed.

But the Cornell host smiled grimly. They were fighters from start to
finish.

Joe noticed that Weston did not seem quite so confident when he came to
the mound the second time. There was an exchange of signals between him
and the catcher, and Weston seemed to be refusing to do what was wanted.
After getting three and two on his man, the batter sent out a high one
that the left fielder was unable to connect with, and the runner reached
second.

"Never mind, play for the next one," advised Kendall, and though the
runner stole third, Weston pitched the second man out. Then, whether it
was nervousness or natural inability cropping out at the wrong time, was
not known, but the pitcher "went up in the air."

With only one out, and a man on third, he began to be hit for disastrous
results. He made wild throws, and the whole team became so demoralized
that costly errors were made. The result was that Cornell had four runs
when the streak was stopped.

"We've got to do better than this," declared the head coach, as the Yale
men came in to bat. "Rap out a few heavy ones. Show 'em what Yale can do
in a pinch."

They tried, but Cornell was fighting mad now, with the scent of victory
to urge her players on. The best Yale could do was two, leaving their
opponents one ahead at the beginning of the third.

And then Weston went to pieces more than ever, though in the interval
his arm had been rubbed and treated by the trainer. He had complained
that it was stiff.

I shall not give all the details of that game. Yale wanted to forget it
after it was over. But when, at the ending of the fifth inning, the
score stood eight to four in favor of Cornell there was a quick
consultation among the coaches. What was said could not be heard, but
Mr. Hasbrook seemed to be insisting on something to which the other two
would not agree. Finally Horsehide threw up his hands in a gesture of
despair.

"Avondale, take the mound!" he exclaimed.

"Avondale!" gasped the players. The scrub pitcher to go in and Joe, who
was his master, kept on the bench? It was incredible.

"Well, what do you know about that?" demanded Spike. "I've a good notion
to----"

"Be quiet!" begged Joe. "They know what they're doing."

But it seems they did not, for Avondale was worse by far than Weston had
been. He was hit unmercifully, and three more runs came in. But he had
to stick it out, and when the miserable inning for Yale ended he went
dejectedly to the bench.

Weston, who had been having his arm rubbed again, and who had been
practicing with a spare catcher, looked hopeful. But this time,
following another conference of coaches, Mr. Hasbrook evidently had his
way. Fairly running over to where Joe sat the head coach exclaimed:

"Quick--get out there and warm up. You'll pitch the rest of the game.
It's a forlorn hope, but we'll take it!"

Joe's face shone as he ripped off his sweater, grabbed up a ball and his
mitt, and started for the practice stretch. His heart was in a tumult,
but he calmed himself and began his work.

But it was too much to expect to pull the contest out of the fire by
such desperate and late-day methods. In the part of the game he pitched
Joe allowed but one hit, and with howls of delight his friends watched
him mow down the Cornell batters. Not another run came in, but the lead
of the visitors was too big, and Yale could not overcome it, though her
sons did nobly, rising to the support of Joe in great style.

"Well, it's over," remarked Spike gleefully as he caught Joe's arm at
the close of the contest.

"You seem glad that Yale lost," said the pitcher.

"Never! But I'm glad you showed 'em what you could do when you had the
chance. If you'd gone in first Yale would have won!"

"Oh, you think so--do you?" sneered a voice behind them. They turned
quickly, to see Ford Weston, scowling with rage.

"Yes, I do," declared Spike boldly.

"Then you've got another think coming!" was the retort. "I'm the
'varsity pitcher, and I'm going to hold on to the job!"



CHAPTER XXII

THE CRIMSON SPOT


"What do you think of him, anyhow?" asked Spike of his room-mate, as
Weston passed on. "Isn't he the limit!"

"He certainly doesn't seem to care much for me," replied Joe, with a
grim smile. "But I suppose it's natural. Almost anyone would feel that
way at the prospect of being replaced."

"Oh, he makes me tired!" exclaimed Spike. "He ought to stand for
Yale--not for Ford Weston. It's the first time in a good many years that
any player has placed himself above the team."

"But Weston hasn't done that yet."

"No, but that's what he's scheming for. He as good as said that he'll
pitch for the 'varsity no matter what happens."

"Who's that? What's up?" asked another voice, and, turning, the two
chums saw Ricky Hanover. "Oh, you're talking about Weston," he added, as
he noted the defeated pitcher walking away. "What's he been saying?"

They told him, and Ricky, making a wry face, went on:

"So that's how things are; eh? Well, if Weston tries that sort of game,
I can see the finish of the Yale nine. It'll be the tail end of the
kite, and the championship will be in the soup. In fact it's beginning
to gravitate that way now, with the loss of this Cornell game."

"But where does Weston get his pull?" demanded Spike. "How is it that
they put him in to-day, when it was almost known that he couldn't make
good. And here was Joe all ready to go on the mound. You saw what he did
when he got there and yet----"

"Spare my blushes! I'm a modest youth!" laughed Joe.

"That's all right, there's something back of all this," continued Spike,
vigorous in defence of his chum. "Why should the coaches put Weston in,
and then, when he slumped, call on Avondale before they did you, Joe? It
isn't right, and I think Horsehide should have made a better fight for
you. You claim he's a friend of yours, Joe."

"Well, yes, in a way. And yet if I had to depend on his friendship to
get on the mound I'd never go there. I want to stand on my own feet and
have the right to pitch because I can do better than some other fellow.
That's all I ask--a fair show. I don't want any favors, and Mr. Hasbrook
isn't the man to give them to me, if I'd take them."

"I guess you're right there," commented Ricky.

"But what I can't understand," went on Spike, "is how Horsehide seemed
to give in to the other two coaches. It was as plain as a flagpole that
he didn't want to pitch Weston to-day, and yet he had to in spite of
himself. Why was it?"

"Do you really want to know?" asked Ricky, and his voice was lowered,
while he glanced around as if to make sure that no one would hear him
save his two friends. "Do you really want to know?"

"Certainly," declared Spike, and Joe wondered what was coming.

"Well, it's because Weston is a member of the Anvil Club," said Ricky.
"It's a class secret society, and it has a lot of influence--more so
than even some of the big Senior clubs. Weston belongs and so do
Horsehide and the other two coaches. They were in college, and they
still keep up their affiliations. Now you know why they pitched Weston
to-day--because he demanded it as a part of his right as a member of the
Anvil Club."

"Do you mean to tell me," asked Spike, "that the secret society is
bigger than Yale--that it could make her lose a ball game?"

"No, not exactly," replied Ricky. "But it is powerful, and a member has
an unwritten right to demand almost anything in reason of the other
members, and by their promises made they are obliged to help him."

"But this wasn't anything in reason," said Spike. "Joe should have
pitched the game, and then we'd have won. It was unreasonable to let
Weston go in."

"Look here!" exclaimed Ricky. "I don't mean to say that Yale men would
do any underhand work to make any athletic contest go by the board. But
you can't say, right off the bat, that Weston's demand was unreasonable.
He thought he could pitch to a victory, and he probably said as much,
very forcibly. It was a chance that he might, and, when he appealed for
a try, on the ground that he was an Anvil man--they had to give it to
him, that's all. It was all they could do, though I guess Horsehide
didn't want to."

"But there's Avondale," went on Ricky. "What about him?"

"He's an Anvil man, too."

"And I'm not," broke in Joe. "Say," he asked with a laugh, "how do you
join this society?"

"You don't," spoke Ricky solemnly. "You have to be asked, or tapped for
it, just as for Wolf's Head, or Skull and Bones. Oh, it's an exclusive
society all right, and as secret as a dark cellar."

"And you really know this to be so?" asked Spike, almost incredulously.

"Well, no one says so out and out, but I've heard rumors before, and
to-day they were strong enough to hear without a megaphone. Oh, Weston's
got the thing cinched all right."

"Then I haven't a chance," sighed Joe, and more than ever he regretted
coming to Yale. Yet, deep in his heart, was a fierce desire to pitch the
college to a championship.

"Haven't a chance!" cried Spike, indignantly. "Do you mean to say,
Ricky, that they'll let Weston go on losing games the way he did
to-day?"

"No, not exactly. But they'll pitch him because he will appeal to their
society side, and bamboozle 'em into thinking that he has come back
strong, and can sure win."

"And if he doesn't--if he slumps as he did to-day?"

"Then they'll put in Avondale or McAnish."

"And Joe won't get a show until last?" asked Spike.

"That's about the size of it."

"I don't believe so."

"All right. Just watch," said Ricky, with a shrug of his shoulders. "Of
course," he went on, "the coaches may wake up to the fact before it's
too late, or there may be such a howl made that they'll have to can the
society plea. But it's a queer situation. Come on down to Glory's and
we'll feed our faces."

"Wait until we get un-togged," suggested Spike, for he, too, had on a
uniform, hoping for a chance to play. But it had not come.

It was late when Joe and his chum got back to their room. They had met
congenial spirits at the popular resort, and a sort of post-mortem had
been held over the game. But, though the faults of many players were
pointed out, and though Joe received due praise for his work, little had
been said of Weston's poor pitching.

"It's just as I told you," declared Ricky. "There are too many members
of the Anvil Club, and affiliated societies, and they hate to hurt
Weston's feelings, I guess."

The 'varsity pitcher was not present.

"Well, it sure is a queer state of affairs," commented Spike, as he and
Joe reached their apartment. "I wish we could do something. It's a
shame, with a pitcher who has your natural abilities, Joe, that----"

"Oh, forget it, old man, and go to sleep," advised Joe. "I'm much
obliged for your interest in me, but maybe it will come out right after
all."

"Humph! It won't unless we make it," murmured Spike.

The coaches tried some shifting about of players when the next practice
came on, though Weston was still retained on the mound. Joe was told to
go in at shortstop, and he made good there, more by hard work than
natural ability, for he wanted to show that he would do his duty
wherever he was placed. Weston seemed to be doing better, and he got
into more plays, not being content to merely pitch.

"We'll trim Harvard!" was the general opinion, and Yale stock, that had
gone down, took an upward move.

The Harvard game was soon to come--one of the contests in the
championship series, though Yale generally regarded the fight with
Princeton as the deciding test.

It was one afternoon following some sharp practice, when the 'varsity
seemed on edge, that Joe said to Spike:

"Come on, let's take a walk. It's too nice to go back and bone."

"All right--I'm with you. We'll get out in the country somewhere."

Weston passed as this was said, and though he nodded to the two, there
was no cordiality in it.

Joe and Spike thoroughly enjoyed their little excursion, and it was
almost dusk when they returned. As they entered their room, Ricky came
out to greet them.

"What have you fellows been doing?" he demanded. "I came in to have a
chat, and I found your room empty. A little later I heard you in it, and
then, after I had found my pipe which I dropped under the bed, and went
in again, you weren't to be seen. Yet I was sure I heard you moving
about in it."

"We haven't been home since practice," declared Spike.

"You say you heard someone in our room?" inquired Joe.

"I sure did."

"Maybe it was Hoppy."

"No, for I asked him, and he said no."

"Any messages or letters left?" asked Spike, looking around, but no
missives were in sight.

"Oh, well, maybe it was spooks," declared Joe. "I'm going to get on
something comfortable," and he went to the clothes closet, presently
donning an old coat and trousers. Ricky made himself comfortable in an
armchair, and the three talked for some time.

"I say, what's that on your sleeve?" asked Ricky of Joe during a pause.
"It looks like red ink. See, you've smeared Spike's trigonometry with
it."

"Quit it, you heathen!" exclaimed the aggrieved one.

"Red ink," murmured Joe, twisting his sleeve around to get a look at the
crimson spot. He touched it with his finger. "It's paint--red paint!" he
exclaimed, "and it's fresh!"



CHAPTER XXIII

JOE'S TRIUMPH


"Red paint!" exclaimed Ricky.

"Who put it there?" asked Spike, and he looked queerly at Joe.

"Not I," replied the pitcher. "And yet it's fresh. I can't understand.
You say you heard someone in here, Ricky?"

"As sure as guns."

"Maybe it was some of those pesky Freshies trying some of their funny
work," suggested Spike.

"Hazing and tricks are about over," came from Joe, as he looked more
closely at the red spot. "And yet someone seems to have been in here,
daubing up my clothes. I wonder if they tried it on any more? Lucky it
was an old suit."

He looked in the closet, but the coat, with the crimson spot on the
sleeve, seemed to be the only one soiled.

"I have it!" suddenly cried Spike.

"What, for cats' sake?" asked Ricky.

"It's good luck!"

"Good luck?" demanded Joe. "How do you make that out? These aren't my
glad rags, that's a fact, but still paint is paint, and I don't want it
daubed all over me. Good luck? Huh!"

"Of course it is," went on Spike. "Don't you see? That's red--Harvard's
hue. We play them next week, you'll pitch and we've got their color
already. Hurray! We're going to win! It's an omen!"

"Cæsar's pineapples!" exclaimed Ricky. "So it is. I'm going to grind out
a song on it," and, having rather a knack with verse, he was soon
scribbling away in rhyme. "How's this?" he demanded a few minutes later.
"Listen fellows, and pick out a good tune for it," and he recited:

    "We've got Harvard's colors,
    We'll tell it to you.
    The red always runs
    At the sight of the blue.
    So cheer boys, once more,
    This bright rainbow hue,
    The Red will turn purple
    When mixed with the blue!"

"Eh? How's that?" he asked proudly. "Pretty nifty I guess! Your Uncle
Pete isn't so slow. I'm going to have the fellows practice this for the
game, when you pitch, Joe."

"Maybe I won't."

"Oh, yes you will. But what do you think of it?"

"Rotten!" exclaimed Spike.

"Punk!" was the opinion of Slim Jones, who had entered in time to hear
the verse. "Disinfect it, Ricky."

"Aw, you fellows are jealous because you can't sling the muse around
when you want to. Guess I'll try a second spasm."

"Not in here," declared Spike, quickly. "This is a decent, law-abiding
place, and, so far, has a good reputation. I'm not going to have the
Dean raiding it just because you think you're a poet. That stuff would
give our English Lit. prof. a chill. Can it, Ricky, can it."

"You're jealous, that's all," and despite the protest Ricky proceeded to
grind out a second verse, that he insisted on reading to his audience,
which, by this time had increased to half a dozen lads from neighboring
rooms. There was quite a jolly little party, and Ricky demanded that
they sing his new song, which they finally did, with more or less
success.

The strains wafted out of doors and passing students were attracted by
the sound until the place was swarming with congenial spirits, and
nothing was talked of but the coming game with Harvard.

"It's queer though, about that red paint," said Spike, later that night,
when he and Joe were alone.

"It sure is," agreed the pitcher.

"Maybe Hoppy sent someone around to do a bit of daubing, and the chap
got in here by mistake," suggested his chum. But inquiry developed that
this was not so, and the mystery remained unsolved for a time.

But after he got in bed, Joe did some hard thinking. He recalled the
red paint episode of the spoiled manuscript, and wondered, without
believing, if Weston could have come to his room.

"He might have," reflected Joe, "and he might have had a hardened spot
of red paint on his clothes from daubing it on the steps that time. If
the hardened upper crust rubbed off, it would leave a fresh spot that
might have gotten on my coat. And yet what would he be doing in my
closet, let alone in the room here? No, it can't be that. Unless
he sneaked in here--knowing Spike and I would be away--looking for
something to use against me.

"He doesn't want me to pitch, that's a fact, and if he could find
something against me he'd use it. But he can't. I'm glad I'm not a
candidate for any of their queer secret societies here, or I'd be
worrying about them not asking me to join. I'm going to keep out of it.
But that red spot is sure queer."

All Yale was on edge on the day before the Harvard game, which was to
take place on the Cambridge diamond. The team and the substitutes were
trained to the minute, and all ready to make the trip, together with
nearly a thousand "rooters" who were going along to lend moral support.
Particular pains had been taken with the pitching staff, and Joe,
Weston, McAnish and Avondale had been worked to the limit. They had been
coached as they never had been before, for Yale wanted to win this game.

As yet it was not known who would pitch. At least the 'varsity candidates
did not know, and Joe was hoping for at least half a game. He was modest,
for Weston arrogantly declared that he would last the nine innings. His
friends said little, but he had a certain power in college not to be
overlooked.

The stadium was thronged with spectators as the teams trotted out for a
little warming-up practice. In the cheering stands for the wearers of
the blue the locomotive cry, the Boola song, a new one--"Bulldog
Grit!"--and Ricky's effusion were gone over again. "Hit the Line!" came
as a retort, and the cheerers tried to outdo each other.

"Do you think you'll pitch, Joe?" asked Spike, in a low tone, as he and
his chum practised off to one side.

"I don't know. There are all sorts of rumors going about. I'd like to--I
guess you know how much--just as you would like to catch--but we can't
always have what we want. The coaches are having a talk now. Weston
seems pretty confident."

"Yes, the cad! I wish he'd play fair."

"Oh, well," said Joe, with an air of resignation, "I suppose he can't
help it. I guess I shouldn't like it if I'd pitched for a year, and then
found a new man trying for my place."

"But if the new man was better than you, and it meant the winning of the
game?" asked Spike, as he took a vicious ball that Joe slugged to him.

"Oh, well, of course in theory the best man ought to play--that's not
saying I'm the best man by a long shot!" Joe hastened to add; "but even
in theory it's hard to see another man take your place."

"Something's doing," said Spike suddenly. "The conference has broken
up."

Joe looked nervously to where the coaches and captain had been talking.
Tom Hatfield was buttoning on his shortstop glove, and then taking it
off again as though under a strain.

He walked over to the umpire, and Weston, seeing him, made a joking
remark to a companion. He started for the players' bench, for Harvard
was to bat last, and Yale would come up first for the stick-work.

"It looks like him," remarked Spike in a low voice.

"Well, I'll be ready when they call me," said Joe, with a good nature he
did not feel.

The umpire raised his megaphone. There was a hush, and then came the
hollow tones:

"Batteries for to-day. Harvard: Elkert and Snyder--Yale: Matson and
Kendall."

"By Halifax!" cried Spike, clapping Joe on the back with such force that
he nearly knocked over his chum. "You pitch, old man!"



CHAPTER XXIV

HARD LUCK


Shouts and yells greeted the announcement of the umpire--cheers from the
admirers of the respective batteries.

"Yah!" voiced the wearers of the crimson. "That's our one best bower! Oh
you Elkert! Tear 'em apart, Snyder!"

Back came the challenge from the sons of Yale.

"You're our meat, Harvard! Keep your eye on the ball--that's all you'll
be able to do. Fool 'em, Matson. 'Rah for Baseball Joe!"

Our hero was becoming quite a favorite with his classmates, many of whom
now knew of his one ambition. But Kendall had his admirers too.

"He eats 'em alive--Shorty Kendall does!" came the cry. "Look out for
our bear-cats, Harvard!"

Once more came a riot of cheers and songs, each college group striving
its best to outdo the other, giving its favorite cries or songs.

"Come, get together, you two, and make sure you don't have any mix-up
on signals," exclaimed Mr. Hasbrook to Joe and the catcher. "We want to
win this game. And, Joe, don't forget what I told you about getting in
on all the plays you can. We'll need every man if we take this game.
Harvard has several good twirlers, and she's been playing like a house
afire. Watch yourselves."

"Then I'm really going to pitch?" asked Joe. It was almost the only
thing he had said since hearing the announcement, after Spike had
clapped him on the back with such force.

"Pitch! Of course you're going to pitch," declared the head coach. "And
I want you to pitch your head off. But save your arm, for there are
going to be more games than this. But, mind!" and he spoke with
earnestness. "You've got to make good!"

"I will!" exclaimed Joe, and he meant it.

"Come over here," suggested Shorty. "Plug in a few and we'll see
if you're as good as you were yesterday," for Joe and he had had
considerable practice, as, in fact, had all the pitchers, including
Weston. As for that lad, when he heard the announcement a scowl shot
across his face, and he uttered an exclamation.

"What's the matter?" asked De Vere, who had become rather intimate with
Ford of late.

"Matter! Isn't there enough when that--when he pitches?" and he nodded
his head toward Joe.

"Why; do you think they'll get his goat, or that he'll blow, and throw
the game?"

"He might," sneered Weston, "but I have a right to be on the mound
to-day. I was half promised that I could pitch, and now, at the last
minute, they put him in. I'm not going to stand for it!"

"It's a sort of a raw deal," declared his friend. "I don't see why they
let such fellows as he come to college. First we know there'll be a lot
of hod-carriers' sons here instead of gentlemen," and De Vere turned up,
as far as possible, the point of his rather stubby nose. He himself was
the son of a man who had gotten his start as a contractor, employing
those same "hod-carriers" at whom the son now sneered.

"That's right," agreed Weston. "I should think they could keep Yale a
little more exclusive."

"I agree with you," came from the other. "Why I even understand that
they are talking of forming a club where even those who eat at commons,
and are working their way through, can join. It's going to be fierce.
But none of them will get in the Blue Ribbon Association," he added,
referring to an exclusive college organization.

"Nor the Anvil Club either," added Weston. "This is all Hasbrook's
fault. He's taken some silly notion to Matson, and he thinks he's a
wonderful pitcher. It seems they met somewhere, and Matson did him a
favor. Now he's taking advantage of it."

"But he can pitch," said De Vere, who, for all his snobbishness, was
inclined to be fair.

"Yes, after a fashion, but he hasn't anything on me. I won against
Harvard last year."

"So you did."

"And I could do it again."

"I believe you. Anyhow I think only the fellows in our own
class--socially--should play. It makes it rather awkward, don't you
know, if you meet one of the team out anywhere, and he isn't in your
set. You've got to notice him, or there'd be a howl, I s'pose; but
really some of the fellows are regular clod-hoppers, and this Matson
doesn't train in with us."

"You're right. But if things go the way I think he may not last very
long."

"How do you mean? Will he put up such a rotten game that they won't
stand for him?"

"That's all I can say now," rejoined Weston, somewhat mysteriously. "But
something may happen."

"And you'll pitch?"

"I hope so. I may get in this game, for I did beat Harvard one year."
But Weston forgot to add that he pitched so wretchedly the remainder of
the season that Yale finished a poor third, losing the championship.

"Play ball!" called the umpire. Those who had been practicing straggled
to the bench, or walked out to take their fielding positions.

"I guess you'll do," declared Kendall to Joe, with a nod of
encouragement. "Don't let 'em get your Angora."

"I'll try not to," came the smiling answer. "Are they hard hitters?"

"They are if they get the ball right, but it's up to you not to let 'em.
Give 'em twisters and teasers."

"Play ball," called the umpire again, and the first of the Yale batsmen
took his place. Once more came the yells and cheers, and when the lad
struck out, which he did with an ease that chagrined his mates, there
was derisive yelling from the Harvard stands.

"Two more and we've got 'em going!" was shouted.

But Jimmie Lee, the diminutive first baseman, was up next, and perhaps
the Harvard pitcher did not think him a worthy foeman. At any rate
Jimmie caught a ball just where he wanted it, and rapped out a pretty
two-bagger.

"That's the way! Come on in!" was shouted at him, but Jimmie caught the
signal to hug the half-way station, and stayed there. He stole third
while they were throwing his successor out at first, and this made two
down, with Jimmie ready to come in on half a chance. But the Harvard
pitcher tightened up, and the fourth man succumbed to a slow twister on
his final strike, making the third out, so that poor Jimmie expired on
the last sack.

"Now, Joe, show 'em that we can do better than that," begged Shorty, as
he donned mask and protector. "Throw me a few and warm up. Then sting
'em in!"

Joe was a bit nervous as he went to the box, but he managed to control
himself. He seemed to guess just what kind of a ball would fool the
batter, and, after two balls had been called on him, sent over two in
succession that were named strikes.

"That's the way we do it!" yelled a Yale admirer, in a high-pitched
voice. "One more and he's done."

But the one more did not come. Instead, apparently getting the ball just
where he wanted it, the Harvard man swung on it to the tune of three
sacks, amid a wild riot of cheers.

"Now we've got 'em going!" came Harvard's triumphant yells, and Joe felt
the hot blood rush to his face. Kendall saw it, and, guessing the
pitcher's state of mind, walked out to the box and whispered:

"Don't mind. That was a fluke. It won't happen again. Hold on to
yourself--tighten up and we'll get 'em."

Joe felt better after that bit of advice, and was calmer when he wound
up for the next batter. Though he had been told that Harvard would play
a foxy game, he was hardly prepared for what followed. The next player
up hit lightly, for a sacrifice, thinking to bring in the run. As it
happened, Joe stumbled as he raced to pick up the twisting ball, and
though he managed to recover himself, and throw home, while on his
knees, the man racing from third beat the throw and the first run for
Harvard was in. Then such cheering as there was!

Yale was nonplussed for the moment, and her rooters in the stands sat
glum and silent. But the spirit of the blue could not long be kept down,
and soon the Boola song came booming over the field. It cheered Joe
mightily, even though he saw the sneering look on the face of Weston,
who sat on the bench, hoping for a chance to supplant him.

"Here's where we walk away!" crowed a Harvard man, but the wearers of
the crimson did not, for that run was the only one they got that inning.
But it was a start, and it looked big below the goose egg that adorned
Yale's score.

The game went on, varyingly. Yale managed to get two runs in the fifth
inning, putting her one ahead, for Joe had done such good work, aided by
the rest of the team, when a hit was made, that Harvard had not scored
again.

"Matson's pitching a great game!" exclaimed Mr. Hasbrook, as he watched
eagerly. "I told you we wouldn't make any mistake if we let him go in
first," and he looked at his colleagues.

"But that was a costly fumble," declared Mr. Benson.

"Yes, but no one is perfect. Besides we're ahead."

"Only one run."

"That's enough to win the game."

"But hardly with four more innings to go," rejoined Mr. Whitfield,
dubiously.

"Look at that!" exclaimed Mr. Hasbrook, in excitement, as Joe grabbed a
hot liner and whipped it over to first in time to catch the man napping
there. "Matson's more than just a pitcher."

"You seem interested in him," spoke Mr. Benson.

"I am. I think Joe is going to make one of the finest ball players we've
ever had at Yale. He hasn't found himself yet, of course, and he needs
more judgment. But he's got a future. I think we'll hear of him somewhere
else besides on a college team, too."

"I understand he has professional ambitions," admitted Mr. Benson. "But
he's got a hard life ahead of him."

"Oh, he'll make good!" declared Mr. Hasbrook.

And it seemed that Joe was going to in this game. He was pitching
wonderfully well, and Harvard only found him for scattering hits.

On her part Yale was doing very well. Harvard had tried another pitcher
when she found that her first one was being pounded, but it availed
little, and when the ninth inning closed, as far as the wearers of the
blue were concerned, they were two runs ahead.

"We've got 'em! We've got 'em!" yelled Shorty with delight, capering
about Joe. "All you've got to do is to hold 'em down!"

"Yes--all--but that's a lot," declared the pitcher. "They're going to
play fierce now."

"But they need three runs to win. You can hold 'em down!"

"I'll try," promised Joe, as he went to the mound.

It looked as if he was going to make good, but luck, that element that
is always present in games, especially in baseball, deserted the blue
for the red. The first man up knocked a long, high fly to deep centre.
So sure was he, as well as everyone else, that it would be caught, that
the player hardly ran, but the ball slipped through the fingers of Ed.
Hutchinson as if it had been greased, and the man was safe on second.

"Now we've got 'em going," came the cry. "A couple more hits and we've
got the game."

Joe was wary, but he was playing against experienced youths, and when he
found the man on second trying to steal third he threw down, hoping to
catch him. His throw was wild, the baseman jumped for it in vain, and
the runner went on to third.

"Never mind--play for the batter," advised Shorty.

Joe did, but somehow he could not get the right twist on the ball. He
was hit for a single, and the man on third scored.

"Two more and we've got 'em!" yelled the delighted wearers of the
crimson. "None down yet."

Then, whether it was the effect of luck, or because the Yale team was
hypnotized by the wearers of the crimson, was not manifest; but certain
it was that the blue players went to pieces. It was not Joe's fault--at
least not all his, though he made one error. But this seemed to affect
all the Yale team, and the result was a wild finish on the part of
Harvard that put them two runs to the good, winning the game.

"Hard luck!" exclaimed Shorty, in a dejected voice, as he took off his
glove and mask. "Hard luck!"



CHAPTER XXV

AT WEST POINT


"We'd a right to that game!"

"Sure we had."

"And we did have it in the refrigerator, only it got out through the
drain pipe, I guess."

"It's tough luck!"

The Yale team and its admirers--no, in this case its sympathizers--were
coming off the field after the Harvard defeat. All sorts of comments,
excuses, philosophical expressions, and revilings at fate, were heard.
Joe said but little, though he thought much. Every error--every little
point he had missed--seemed to stand out glaringly.

"Never mind, old man!"

It was Spike who spoke, putting his arm affectionately around his chum's
shoulders.

"I--I can't help it," replied the pitcher, bitterly. "We lost the game."

"That's just it--we did--not you. Cæsar's ghost, man! You can't carry
the whole blame of losing the game, any more than you can claim the
whole credit when we win. It's all in the day's work."

"I know, but----"

"'But me no buts,' now Joe. Just brace up. This is only one of the
championship games. There are more to come, and we'll get enough to put
us on top of the heap. I only wish I had your chances to perform in
public."

"I wish you had, Spike. But I guess this was my last chance."

"Nonsense! They'll play you again. Why Weston--or Avondale either, for
that matter--wouldn't have done half as well, I think."

"Oh, so that's your opinion; is it?" snapped a voice behind them. There
was no need to turn to know that Weston was there, and it took but a
glance to show that he was frowning and sneering.

"It sure is," retorted Spike, sturdily, for he was not afraid to air his
opinions.

"Well, you've got another think coming," snapped Weston. "I'll pitch a
game pretty soon, and show you what's what."

Joe did not make reply, but he wondered if Weston's words held
significance.

"Maybe they won't let me pitch after this," he mused. Spike, reading his
thoughts, said:

"Now don't you go to thinking gloomy thinks, Joe. You're all right if
you only believe so. Have some confidence in yourself."

"I have, but after the way things went to pieces in the last inning I
don't know what to think."

"Oh, bosh! If you'd had anything like decent support it never would have
happened. Hutchinson muffing that ball started us down hill."

"That's what!" chimed in Jimmie Lee, coming along just then. "This is
only one game--the fortunes of war. We'll beat 'em next time; wallop
Princeton, and take the championship."

"West Point is next on the list," went on Joe. "I wonder what sort of a
game they play?"

"Like clockwork," explained Spike. "I saw one, once, and they put it all
over Yale. But we've got to win this one."

"That's what!" declared Jimmie. "I say, I know a nice place where we can
get a dandy rabbit. Let's stay over to-night. I can stand some cuts,
we'll take in a show, and have supper after it. Come on, and we can go
to New Haven in the morning."

"No, I guess I'll go back with the team," said Joe, slowly. "They might
think I was trying to dodge if I sneaked off. I'll go back with the
rest."

"All right--then we'll go to Glory's and have a feed," insisted Jimmie.
"I've got to do something to raise my spirits."

They went to the dressing rooms, and soon the players and their friends
were moving to the hotel where they had stopped.

Yale had cheered her successful rivals, and had been cheered in turn,
and now, as the team walked through the Cambridge streets they heard, on
all sides of them, the jubilant expressions that told of joy over the
victory. To Joe it was gall and wormwood, for, in spite of the efforts
of his friends to make him feel better, he half blamed himself for the
defeat.

On the way home in the special train he was gloomy and silent, but
later, when he and his chums went to the well-known resort, and heard
the Yale songs, and saw the jolly faces of the students--jolly in spite
of the defeat--he felt better.

"It's only once in a while that the bulldog loses his grip," declared
Ricky Hanover. "We'll get a strangle hold on the rest of the games and
come out on top of the heap."

College life resumed its usual routine after this big game. There were
others in prospect, though, and practice went on unceasingly.

Joe half feared he would be displaced from his position on the 'varsity,
but he was not. True, Weston and Avondale were called on at times, for
the policy of the coaches was to have the best pitchers always in
reserve. But Joe seemingly was the first one to be called on. Nor did
Mr. Hasbrook reproach him, personally, for the defeat.

All the players received a calling down for their loose methods in the
Harvard game, and their faults were pointed out in no uncertain fashion.
In a way the loss of the contest did good, for, following it, the
practice was snappier than it had been in a long while.

"We want to defeat the army lads!" exclaimed the head coach a few days
before the West Point game.

Contrary to the general custom the two who were to pitch and catch were
announced the night before. It was at a meeting of the team, during
which the coaches gave some good advice. Joe saw Weston in close
conversation with Mr. Benson and Mr. Whitfield, and he had a fear that
the deposed pitcher was trying to "pull strings" and make a place for
himself.

"Of course you'll pitch, Matson," said Mr. Hasbrook, in such a
matter-of-fact voice that Joe was rather startled. "And Kendall will
catch."

There was a murmur, possibly at the remembrance of the Harvard game, but
no one said anything. Joe, who sat beside Spike, whispered:

"I wonder when you'll get your chance?"

"Oh, some day, maybe," was the answer. "I can wait. I'm glad you've had
yours."

"I must make good, though," declared Joe, half fearful that he would
not.

They arrived at West Point to be enthusiastically greeted by the cadets,
who took charge of the team, the substitutes and the "rooters" in right
royal fashion. A big crowd had assembled, and as the day was a fine one
there was every prospect of a game that would be all that was desired.

"I wonder if we'll win?" mused Joe, as he got into his uniform and
started out on the field. The cadets were already at practice, and
showed up well.

"A fine, snappy lot of fellows," observed Jimmie Lee. "We've got our
work cut out all right."

"That's what," declared Hen Johnson.

As Joe left the dressing room, he saw Weston talking to Mr. Benson,
who was having a conversation with the trainer. The former 'varsity
pitcher--who was now second choice it seemed--was much excited, and as
Joe passed he heard Weston say:

"Well, I want half the game, anyhow. Can't I have it?"

"I--I'll see what I can do," replied Mr. Benson. "I'll do all I can."

"I'm tired of playing second fiddle," snapped Weston, as he drifted out
behind a knot of players. Joe began to think of many things.



CHAPTER XXVI

A SORE ARM


Yale won the toss and chose to go to the bat last--always an advantage
it seems--so Joe had to go on the mound as soon as practice was
concluded. The usual practice of the home team batting last did not
prevail on this occasion.

The stands were filled with a mass of spectators, in which pretty girls
seemed to predominate. At least Joe assumed that they were pretty for
they had escorts who looked on them with eyes that seemed to bear
witness to this designation. Many of them were "stunning," to quote De
Vere, who took a position in the outfield during practice.

"Just so he could be nearer some of the girls," declared Jimmie Lee, who
had the reputation of being a "woman hater."

"Some crowd," remarked Joe to Spike.

"Yes, and a good one, too," declared Joe's room-mate. "It isn't all
howling for Yale blood. There are a lot of old grads. here to-day, as
well as a lot of army men, and we've got our friends with us. You've
got to play for all you're worth."

"I intend to," declared Joe, "but----"

"Now there you go!" interrupted his chum. "Getting doubtful of yourself.
Stop it, I tell you! Just make up your mind that you're going to make
good and you will. These fellows are only human, and, though they've got
the game down to a fine point, and play together like machinery, on
account of their drill practice, yet baseball is always uncertain. Yale
luck is bound to turn up sooner or later."

"It had better be sooner then," remarked Joe, with a grim smile. "Two
defeats, hand running, would about put me out of business. I'd resign."

"Nonsense!" declared Spike. "You can make good all right. Remember that
Weston is just hankering for a chance to displace you, so don't give it
to him. Hold on to the mound."

"I intend to. And yet I heard something that set me thinking," and Joe
related what he had inadvertently listened to, adding:

"I may be taken out after two innings."

"Not much!" declared Spike emphatically. "I see what's going on. Weston
is trying to work his society pull and get the trainers to pitch him.
The cad!"

"Well, I can't find the heart to blame him," said Joe, softly.

"I can," snapped Spike. "He's putting himself above the team."

"Well, maybe it will all come out right," said Joe, but his tone did not
support his words, for he ended with a doleful sigh.

"Oh, you get out!" cried Spike cheerfully. "You've got the losing
bugaboo in a bad form. Cheer up--the worst is yet to come."

"Yes, a defeat," murmured Joe, and then Spike hit him such a thump in
the back that the pitcher had to gasp to recover his breath, and in
doing so he forgot some of his gloomy thoughts.

The practice went on over the field, until the umpire called the
captains together for the final conference, and an agreement on the
ground rules. These were adjusted satisfactorily, and once more the
inspiring cry rang out:

"Play ball!"

"Get 'em over, Joe," advised Shorty Kendall, as the young pitcher walked
out to his place. "Shoot 'em in good and hard, but keep 'em over the
plate. I know this umpire. He's fair, but he's careful. You'll have to
work for all the strikes you get."

"And I'm willing to," declared Joe.

Somehow his confidence was coming back, and as he caught the new ball
which the umpire tossed to him, he felt that he could pitch as he never
had before. He was aware of the scowling glance of Weston, who sat on
the bench, and, as Joe stooped over to rub some dirt on the ball, to
render it less slippery, he wondered if the deposed pitcher had so
managed to "pull strings" as to gain his end.

"Anyhow, I'll pitch as long as I can," thought Joe with grim
determination.

The game started. There was nothing remarkable about it, at least at
first, so I shall not weary you with details of the strikes, balls, the
sliding for bases, the decisions, and the runs. Sufficient to say that
at first neither side could score. Joe and the rival pitcher were in
good form, and, aside from scattering hits, which were usually only good
for a single bag, little was done.

For four innings neither side scored a run, though on one decision of
the umpire, when Joe came sliding home on a sacrifice by Jimmie Lee, and
was called out, there was a howl of protest.

"Robber!"

"Blind man!"

"He was safe by a yard!"

"Don't give it!" were some of the mildest epithets and expressions of
opinion hurled at the umpire.

"Hold on! That isn't Yale's way," said the captain quietly. "It's all
right," and the decision stood, though had it been otherwise it would
have meant a run for Yale.

And so the game went on until the eighth inning, which put West Point
one run ahead. There was excitement on the part of the army and its
supporters, for in the last half of it Yale had been unable to score,
and it looked as if she might lose.

"We've got to get 'em!" declared Captain Hatfield grimly, as he and his
men took the field for the beginning of the ninth. "Don't let one get
past you, Joe, and then we'll bat out two runs."

The young pitcher nodded, but he did not smile. He was a little in doubt
of himself, for there was a strange numb feeling in his right arm, and
he knew that the muscles were weakening. He had worked himself to the
limit, not only in this game, but the one with Harvard, and now he began
to pay the penalty.

Once or twice as he wound up to deliver he felt a sharp twinge that
alarmed him. He had not asked to have one of the professional rubbers
with the team massage him, for fear the rumor would get out that Yale's
pitcher was weakening. So he bore it as best he could. But his arm was
sore.

Joe had struck out one man, and then he was found for a two-bagger. This
man was a notorious base stealer and managed to get to third, while the
player following him, who was the heaviest hitter on the team, had been
passed by Joe on a signal from the captain, who did not want to take
chances.

"He's afraid!" came the taunt, and Joe was beginning to get nervous,
especially as his pain increased.

With two on bases, and only one out, Joe saw come to the bat a man who
was an expert bunter. He could lay the ball almost anywhere he wanted
to, and our hero realized that he was in for a bad few minutes. It would
not do to walk another. He must get this man.

What he had feared came to pass. The player bunted and the ball came
lazily rolling toward the pitcher. Joe and Kendall started for it, and
then Joe yelled:

"I'll get it--go back!"

He felt himself slipping on a pebble, but recovered with a wrench that
strained his sore arm. With an effort he managed to get the ball. He
knew that if he threw it from the unnatural and disadvantageous position
he had assumed in recovering it, he would make his sore arm worse. But
there was no help for it.

The man on third had started for home. Joe, with a mighty effort, threw
to Kendall, who caught it and tagged his quarry.

"Out!" called the umpire. One run was saved.

Then, like a flash the catcher threw to third, for the man who had been
on first, having reached second, rather imprudently tried for another
bag. He was tagged there by as neat a double play as could be desired,
and the West Pointers had finished, with but the one run to their
advantage.

"We need one to tie and two to win," exclaimed Shorty to Joe, as he
tossed his big mitt into the air. "Why," he added, "what's the matter
with your arm?" for he saw it hanging down limp.

"A strain," replied Joe shortly. "I'm all right."

"You are not! McLeary must look at you. We'll play somebody else this
inning. You go get rubbed." And Joe was glad enough to do so.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE ACCUSATION


Yale won from West Point. It was almost a foregone conclusion after that
sensational inning when Joe went down and out with his sprained arm,
after saving the game. His mates rallied to the support of, not only
himself, but the whole team, and, the cadets, having been held runless,
the wearers of the blue made a determined stand.

Weston was called on to go in and replace Joe, and the former 'varsity
pitcher, in spite of his feeling against our hero, had that in him which
made him do his best in spite of the odds against him.

Weston was half hoping that the game would be a tie, which would give
him a chance to go on the mound and show what he could do at pitching
against a formidable opponent of Yale. But it was not to be, though he
brought in one of the winning runs for the New Haven bulldog.

The crowd went wild when they saw what a game fight the visitors were
putting up, and even the supporters of the army lads hailed them with
delight as they pounded the cadet pitcher, for everyone likes to see a
good play, no matter if it is made by the other side.

"Oh, wow! A pretty hit!" yelled the throng as Weston sent a two-bagger
well out in the field. His face flushed with pleasure, as he speeded
around, and, probably, had he been taken in hand then, subsequent events
might not have happened, for his unreasonable hatred against Joe might
have been dissipated. But no one did, and the result was that Weston
felt he had been wrongly treated, and he resolved to get even.

"Well played, boys, well played!" exclaimed the captain of the cadets,
as he came up to shake hands with Hatfield. "You did us up good and
proper. We can't buck such a pitcher as you have. What happened to him!"

"Sprained arm," explained Spike, who stood near.

"Too bad! Tell him to take care of it," rejoined the cadet. "Such
twirlers as he is are few and far between. Well, you beat us, but that's
no reason why you can do it again. We'll have your scalps next year.
Now, boys, altogether! Show 'em how West Pointers can yell."

The cheer for the Yale team broke out in a gladsome yell, tinged with
regret, perhaps, for West Point had been sure of winning, especially
toward the end, but there was no ill-feeling showing in the cries that
echoed over the field.

In turn the New Haven bulldog barked his admiration of the gallant
opponents, and then came a special cheer for Joe Matson, whose plucky
play had made it possible for Yale to win.

Joe, in the dressing room, heard his name, and flushed with delight.
Trainer McLeary was rubbing his sore arm.

"Hurt much?" the man asked, as he massaged the strained muscles.

"Some," admitted Joe, trying not to wince as the pain shot along his
arm. "How are we making out?"

"We win," declared McLeary, as a scout brought him word. "And you did
it."

"Not by pitching," asserted Joe.

"No, perhaps not. But every game isn't won by pitching. There are lots
of other plays besides that. Now you've got to take care of this arm."

"Is it bad?"

"Bad enough so you can't use it right away. You've got to have a rest.
You've torn one of the small ligaments slightly, and it will have to
heal. No baseball for you for a week."

"No!" cried Joe aghast.

"No, sir! Not if you want to play the rest of the season," replied the
trainer.

Now Joe did want to finish out the season, whether he came back to Yale
or not, for there were big games yet in prospect, particularly that with
Princeton, and, if it was necessary to play a third one, it would take
place on the big New York Polo Grounds.

"And, oh! if I could only pitch before that crowd!" thought Joe, in a
moment of anticipated delight.

"There, I guess you'll do, if you keep it well wrapped up, stay out of
draughts and don't use it," said the trainer finally, as he bound up
Joe's twirling wing. "No practice, even, for a week, and then very
light."

Joe half groaned, and made a wry face, but there was no help for it, he
realized that. He was surrounded by his mates, as the game ended, and
many were the congratulations, mingled with commiserations, as they
greeted him.

Weston even condescended to say:

"Hope you won't be knocked out long, old man."

"Thanks," replied Joe dryly. "It'll be a week anyhow."

"A week!" exclaimed Weston, and he could not keep the delight from
showing on his face. Then he hurried off to see one of the coaches. Joe
had little doubt what it meant. Weston was going to try for his old
place again while Joe was unable to pitch.

"Well," remarked De Vere, as his crony came out of the dressing rooms,
whither he had gone. "I should think you could drop your other game, now
that's he out of it."

"Not much!" exclaimed Weston, with some passion. "This won't last. He'll
be back pitching again, and do me out of it. What I'm going to do won't
hurt him much, and it will give me a chance. I'm entitled to it."

"I guess you are, old man."

The Yale team went back jubilant, and there was a great celebration in
New Haven when the ball nine arrived. Fires were made, and the campus as
well as the streets about the college were thronged with students. There
were marches, and songs, and Joe Matson's name was cheered again and
again.

Meanwhile our hero was not having a very delightful time. Not only was
he in pain, but he worried lest the injury to his arm prove permanent.

"If I shouldn't be able to pitch again!" he exclaimed to Spike, in their
room.

"Forget it!" advised the other. "You'll be at it again in a little
while. Just take it easy."

And Joe tried to, but it was hard work. It was galling to go to practice
and watch others play the game while he sat and looked on--especially
when Weston was pitching. But there was no help for it.

And then, like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky, it came.

The week had passed and Joe, who had done some light practice, was sent
in to pitch a couple of innings against the scrub. Weston was pulled
out, and he went to the bench with a scowl.

"I'll get him yet," he muttered to De Vere. "He's put me out of it
again."

"I'd go slow," was the advice.

"It's been slow enough as it is," growled the other.

The day for the first Princeton game was at hand. It was to be played at
Yale, and everyone was on edge for the contest. Joe was practically
slated to pitch, and he felt his responsibility. His arm was in good
shape again.

The night before the game the Dean sent for Joe to come to his office.

"What's up now?" demanded Spike, as his friend received the summons.
"Have you won a scholarship, or is the Dean going to beg of you not to
throw the game?"

"Both, I guess," answered Joe with a laugh. In his heart he wondered
what the summons meant. He was soon to learn.

"I have sent for you, Mr. Matson," said the Dean gravely, "to enable you
to make some answer to a serious accusation that has been brought
against you."

"What is it?" faltered the pitcher.

"Do you remember, some time ago," the Dean went on, "that some red paint
was put on the steps of the house of one of the professors? The
gentleman slipped, fell in the paint, and a very rare manuscript was
ruined. Do you remember?"

"Yes," answered Joe quietly, wondering if he was to be asked to tell
what he knew.

"Well," went on the Dean, "have you anything to confess?"

"Who, me? Confess? Why, no, sir," answered Joe. "I don't know what you
mean."

"Then I must tell you. You have been accused of putting the red paint on
the steps, and, unless you prove yourself innocent you can take no
further part in athletics, and you may be suspended."



CHAPTER XXVIII

VINDICATION


Joe fairly staggered back, so startled was he by the words of the
Dean--and, not only the words, but the manner--for the Dean was solemn,
and there was a vindictiveness about him that Joe had never seen before.

"Why--why, what do you mean?" gasped Joe. "I never put the red paint on
the steps!"

"No?" queried the Dean coldly. "Then perhaps you can explain how this
pot of red paint came to be hidden in your closet."

"My closet!" cried Joe, and at once a memory of the crimson stain on his
coat came to him. "I never----"

"Wait," went on the Dean coldly. "I will explain. It is not altogether
circumstantial evidence on which I am accusing you. The information came
to me--anonymously I regret to say--that you had some red paint in your
closet. The spoiling of the valuable manuscripts was such an offence
that I decided to forego, for once, my objection to acting on anonymous
information. I did ignore one letter that accused you----"

"Accused me!" burst out Joe, remembering the incident in chapel.

"Yes. But wait, I am not finished. I had your room examined in your
absence, and we found--this." He held up a pot of red paint.

"I had the paint on the steps analyzed," went on the Dean. "It is of
exactly the same chemical mixture as this. Moreover we found where this
paint was purchased, and the dealer says he sold it to a student, but he
will not run the risk of identifying him. But I deem this evidence
enough to bar you from athletics, though I will not expel or punish
you."

Barred from athletics! To Joe, with the baseball season approaching the
championship crisis, that was worse than being expelled.

"I--I never did it!" he cried.

"Do you know who did, if you did not?" asked the Dean.

Like a flash it came to Joe. He could not tell. He could not utter his
suspicions, though he was sure in his own heart that Weston was the
guilty one--the twice guilty one, for Joe was sure his enemy had put the
paint in the closet to direct suspicion to him.

"Well?" asked the Dean, coldly.

"I--I have nothing to say," faltered Joe.

"Very well. You may go. I shall not make this matter public, except to
issue the order barring you from athletics."

Without a word Joe left. Inside of an hour it was noised all over the
college that he could not pitch against Princeton, and great was the
regret, mingled with anxiety.

"What in thunder is up?" asked Captain Hatfield, as he sought out Joe.

"Nothing."

"Oh, come off! Can't you tell?"

"No," answered Joe, and that was all he would say.

Joe did not go to the Yale-Princeton game. Yale won. Won easily, though
had Weston, who pitched, not been ably supported the story might have
been a different one.

"One scalp for us," announced Spike.

"Yes," assented Joe gloomily.

"Oh, you get out!" cried Spike. "I'm not going to stand for this. You've
got to keep in form. There's no telling when this thing will all come
out right, and you want to be in condition to pitch. You and I will keep
up practice. The Dean can't stop you from that."

Nor did he try, and, though Joe was hard to move at first, he soon
consented to indulge in pitching practice with his chum. And then life
at Yale went on much as before, though Joe's heart was bitter. He
seldom saw Weston, who was again first choice for 'varsity pitcher.

Weston did fairly well, too, though some games Yale should have won she
lost. But it was to Princeton that all eyes turned, looking for the
college championship. Could Yale win the next contest?

The answer was not long delayed. Two weeks later the bulldog invaded the
tiger's lair and was eaten up--to the end of his stubby tail. Yale
received the worst beating in her history.

"And it's up to Weston!" declared Spike savagely, when he came back from
Princeton. "He was absolutely rotten. Went up in the air first shot, and
they got seven runs the first inning. Then it was all over but the
shouting, for Avondale and McAnish couldn't fill in the gap. Oh, Joe, if
you could only pitch!"

"But I can't."

"You've just got to! Yale has a chance yet. It's a tie now for the
championship. The deciding game will be played on the New York Polo
Grounds in two weeks. You've got to pitch!"

"I don't see how I can."

"Well, I'm going to!" and Spike strode from the room, his face ablaze
with anger and firm with determination.

It seems that one of the janitors about the college had a son who was an
epileptic. The lad was not badly afflicted and was able, most of the
time, to help his father, sometimes doing the cleaning at one of the
student clubs.

It was to this club that Spike went when he burst out of his room,
intent on finding, in some fashion, a way of vindicating Joe, for he was
firm in his belief that Joe was innocent in spite of the silence.

There had been rain the night before, and on a billboard adjoining the
club room some of the gaudy red and yellow posters, announcing the final
Yale-Princeton game, had been torn off.

Hardly knowing what he was doing, Spike picked up part of a sheet,
colored a vivid red. At that moment, from the side entrance, Charlie,
the janitor's son, came out, and Spike, who had often given him odd
tasks to do, and who felt sorry for the afflicted one, playfully thrust
the red paper at him, saying:

"Here, Charlie, take it home, and let your little sister cut out some
paper dolls."

He slapped the paper on the lad's hand, and being damp and pasty it
stuck there, like a splotch of blood.

Charlie shrank back, cowering and frightened, whimpering like a child,
and mumbling:

"Don't! Oh, don't Mr. Poole. Don't put that on me. I--I can't bear it.
It's been haunting me. I'll tell all I know. The red paint--I put it
there. But he--he made me. Some of it got on my hand, and I wiped it
off on his coat. Oh, the blood color! Take it away. I--I can't stand
it!"

"What's that?" fairly yelled Spike. "Red paint? Here, tell me all you
know! Jove, I begin to see things now!"

"Take it off! Take it off!" begged Charlie, and he trembled so that
Spike feared he would have a seizure.

"There--there--it's all right," he said soothingly. "I'll take it off,"
and he removed the offending paper. "Now you come with me, and tell me
all about it," he went on quietly. And Charlie obeyed, like a child.

A little later Spike was closeted with the Dean, taking Charlie with
him, and when they came out Joe's room-mate said:

"Then the ban is removed, sir?"

"Certainly, Poole," replied the Dean, "and I will make a public
explanation in the morning. I am very sorry this occurred, and I deeply
regret it. But circumstances pointed to him, and I felt I had to act.
Never again, though, shall I place any faith in an anonymous letter.
Yes, everything will be all right. If Matson had only spoken, though!"

"It's just like him not to," said Spike.



CHAPTER XXIX

BUCKING THE TIGER


"Hurray! Matson is going to pitch for us!"

"Get out! He's barred!"

"Not now. It's all off. He'll pitch against Princeton!"

"Where'd you hear it?"

"What's the matter with Weston?"

"Oh, he's gone--vamoosed--flew the coop. Couldn't stand the disgrace.
It'll all be out in the morning."

Student meeting student on the campus, in dormitories, in the commons,
at Glory's--anywhere in fact, passed these, and similar remarks.

"And to think you knew, all the while, that Weston put that red paint on
the steps, and you wouldn't squeal!" cried Spike, clapping his chum on
the shoulder.

"Would you?" asked Joe quietly.

"Well--er--now you have got me, old man! But it's all right. Come on out
and celebrate."

And they celebrated as they never had before. Joe was given an ovation
when he entered Glory's, and every member of the nine--substitutes and
all--were there to do him honor. That is, all but Weston and De Vere.
They had quietly taken themselves from Yale.

The explanation was simple. Weston had, as my readers know already, put
the red paint on the professor's steps. He was not discovered, for Joe
kept quiet. Then, when our hero was preferred as pitcher, in the
bitterness of his heart, Weston planned to throw suspicion on him. He
sent the first anonymous letter, though Avondale knew nothing of it.
Then Weston took De Vere into his confidence and the two evolved the
scheme of smuggling the pot of red paint, that Weston had used, into
Joe's closet. The epileptic lad, Charlie, was the innocent medium, and
once the paint was hidden Weston sent the second anonymous letter to the
Dean, telling about it.

What happened is well known. Joe was accused, and would not inform on
another to save himself. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do--certainly
he owed it to himself to have the right to vindication. I am not
defending him, I am only telling of what happened.

Then came the dramatic episode, when Spike unwittingly brought out
the truth from Charlie. It seems that the boy's conscience had been
troubling him, for though Weston pretended it was only an innocent joke
he was playing on Joe, the lad suspected something.

And so the full explanation was made to the Dean, and the latter,
publicly, at chapel the next morning, begged Joe's pardon, and restored
him to his full rights. As for Weston and De Vere, they were not in
evidence. They had left Yale.

"Sharp practice from now on," ordered Mr. Hasbrook, when the excitement
had quieted down somewhat. "We'll have to replace De Vere at right
field, but otherwise the team will be the same as before. Matson, you'll
pitch, of course."

"And he'll win for us, too!" cried Spike.

"I'm sure I hope so," went on the head coach. "Spike, if it wasn't so
late in the season I'd let you catch. You deserve something for your
share in this."

"Oh, I wouldn't think of catching now, though it would be great,"
declared Joe's chum. "Give me a chance next season."

"I sure will," said the head coach. "Get busy now, everybody. We've got
to beat Princeton!"

"Oh, Joe, do you think we'll win?" asked Spike, half nervously, the
night before they were to start for New York to meet their rivals.

"Win! Of course we'll win!" cried Joe, and though so much depended on
him, he was the coolest member of the team.



CHAPTER XXX

THE CHAMPIONSHIP


Such a crowd as filled the big Polo Grounds! The grandstands seemed
full, and the bleachers too, but the elevated and surface roads brought
more constantly, and the honking autos added to the clamor. It was a
perfect day, and the ball field--one of the best in the world--where
professionals meet professionals--was laid out with mathematical
precision.

From their lairs near the press boxes the tigers trotted to be welcomed
with shouts and yells from their supporters and the songs of their
fellows.

"They beat us once--as we did them," said Joe in a low voice. "They may
beat us again."

"Not much!" cried Spike. "A Yale victory is in the air. I can feel it!
Look at that blue," and he pointed to the sky, "and then at that," and
he waved toward the azure-hued Yale stand, "and say we're going to lose!
I guess not!"

"A cheer for every man!" yelled the leader of the Princeton cheer
masters, who were armed with big megaphones as were their New Haven
rivals, except that the ribbons were of the tiger's stripes. "A cheer
for every man!"

And then, as the Jersey cheer was howled there followed each time the
name of some player--sweet music to their ears, no doubt.

"They're signalling to us," said Spike a little later. "I guess they
want us inside to come out all in a bunch, as Princeton did."

This was the import of the message delivered to them a little later as
they filed into the dressing rooms, where the team and substitutes now
were.

"Remember, boys," said the captain solemnly, "we've got to win. It's
Yale's luck against Princeton's maybe, but even with that it's got to be
bulldog pluck against the tiger's fierceness. They can play ball."

"And so can we!" declared several, in low voices.

"Prove it--by beating 'em!" was the quick retort. "Pile out now, and
have some snap to you!"

If Yale had gone wild, so now did the students from her rival college.
The orange and black, which had been in evidence on the opposite stand
to that which showed the blue, now burst forth in a frenzy of color.
Hats were tossed in the air, canes too, and one excited man dashed his
tall silk head covering about with such energy that he split it on the
walking stick of a gentleman seated near him.

"I beg your pardon," said the one with the stick.

"Don't mention it! My fault entirely--I'm too excited, I guess, but I
used to play on the Princeton team years ago, and I came to-day to see
her win. I don't care for a hat--I can buy lots more. But Princeton is
going to win! Wow!"

"I'm sorry for you," said the other with a smile. "But Yale has the
bulge to-day."

"Never!"

"I tell you she has!"

And then the argument began, good-natured enough, but only one of many
like it going on all about the grounds.

"Hark!" said Joe to Spike, as they were walking back toward the diamond.
"Isn't that great?"

There had come a momentary hush, and the sweet strains of the Princeton
song--"Orange and Black," floated over the big diamond. Many of the
spectators--former college men--joined in, Yale ceased her cheering
while this was rendered, and then came a burst of applause, for the
melody was exceptionally well rendered.

"Well, they may sing, but they can't play ball," said Spike.

Out came the bulldogs, and at once it seemed as if a bit of blue sky had
suddenly descended on the stands, so solid was the mass of ultramarine
color displayed, in contrast to the orange and black.

"Joe, old man, isn't it great!" cried Spike, capering about. "To think
that I'm really going to play in this big championship game!"

"It's fine!" exclaimed Joe, yet he himself was thinking how glorious it
would be if he was only a professional, and could occupy the mound of
the Polo Grounds regularly instead of on this rare occasion. "And I
will, too, some day!" he murmured.

"Play ball!"

The practice was over, the last conference between coaches, pitchers,
catchers and captains had been held. The championship was now to be
contested for. Yale had won the toss and taken last chance at bat.

"Play ball!"

Joe walked to the mound, a trifle nervous, as anyone would have been
under the circumstances, but, with it all, holding himself well in hand.
As he got ready to deliver the customary five balls before attending to
the batter a quiet-appearing man, sitting in one of the press boxes,
moved so as to get a better view of the young pitcher.

"What's the matter, Mack?" asked one of the reporters. "Think you see
some bushleaguers in this bunch of college boys?"

"You never can tell," was the quiet answer. "I'm always on the lookout
for recruits, and I'm particularly in need of a good pitcher."

"Well, both teams have some good ones I hear," went on the newspaper
man, and then he devoted himself to sending out an account of the game
to his paper.

With the first ball that he delivered Joe knew that he was in shape
to pitch the game of his career. He was sure of his control, and he
realized that with a little care he could place the horsehide just where
he wanted it to go.

"If we can only bat a few we've got this cinched," decided Joe, always
aware, though, of the fatal element of luck.

The early results seemed to justify his confidence. For four innings not
a Princeton man got farther than first base, and the crowd was wildly
cheering him.

"If it will only last," he thought, and the memory of his sore arm came
to him as a shock. But he had not suffered from it since, and he hoped
he would not.

On her part Yale had managed to get one run across, and thus the game
stood at the beginning of the fifth inning. In that, for one fearful
moment, Joe had fears. He had been signalled to walk the heaviest
batter, but something went wrong, and the man plugged a three bagger
that got past Spike. The next man up was a good hitter, and Kendall, in
fear and trembling, signalled for another pass. But Joe shook his head.
He was going to try to strike him out. And he did.

Amid wild roars the man was retired, and when two more had gone down,
and Princeton was still without a run, pandemonium broke loose.

Though Yale tried with all her might to sweeten the score, she could
not--at least in the next two innings. She batted well, but Princeton
seemed to be right on the ball every time. And with only one run as a
margin, the game was far from won.

"But we'll do it!" cried Hatfield, fiercely.

"That's what!" echoed Joe.

Yale's chance came in the eighth inning, when, owing to an error by the
Princeton shortstop, a man got to first. None were out, and Joe rapped
out a pretty two-bagger that, followed by a wild throw home, enabled a
man to score. Then Joe was brought in on a sacrifice hit, and when the
inning ended Yale had three more runs, making the score four to nothing
in her favor.

Once more the riot of blue shot over the stands, while the orange and
black fluttered listlessly. But the tiger was growling in his lair,
while the bulldog was thus barking, and every Yale player knew that
fortune might yet turn against them.

But when Princeton had her last chance to bat, and only managed to
get one run, it was all over but the shouting. Joe had pitched
magnificently, and when the last chance of the Princeton tiger had
vanished there was a rush for the young pitcher, and he was fairly
carried away on the shoulders of his fellows.

And such cheering as there was!

"Yale wins!"

"Yale is champion!"

"Three cheers for Baseball Joe!"

The field swarmed with the spectators, who hardly stayed to hear the
victors and vanquished cheer each other. The quiet man who had sat in
the press box managed to get a word to Joe, though he had to shout to be
heard above the din. The young pitcher looked startled, then pleased,
and his voice faltered as he answered; after a little more talk:

"But supposing I don't make good, Mr.--er--?"

"Mack is my name, I represent the manager; in fact I'm his assistant."

"But supposing I don't make good?" repeated Joe. "I know I can do pretty
well here, but, as you say, I don't seem to take to the college life.
Still, I wouldn't want to make a public try as I'd have to, and then
give up. It would bar me from the amateur ranks forever."

"Yes, I know that," was the answer, "but you needn't be afraid. Look
here, Matson. This isn't the first time I've done such a thing as this.
It's part of my business, and part of my business to know what I'm
doing. I can size a player up as quick as a horse buyer can a spavined
nag. I've sized you up, and I know you're all wool and a yard wide."

"But this is the first time you've seen me play."

"It was enough, I tell you."

"And, as I said," went on Joe, "I don't want to be in the position of
putting myself out of the game. If I go in with you, and fail, I
probably never could get another chance."

"Oh, yes you could. But look here, Matson, you mustn't think of failure.
You're not built that way. Now aren't you sport enough to take a
chance?"

Joe was silent for a moment. He thought of many things--of his
overpowering ambition, and then answered falteringly:

"I--I'm willing to try."

"All right, then I'll sign you," was the answer.

Another rush of the delirious students almost carried Joe off his feet.
He was cheered and cheered again. Through the mob came pushing and
shoving the president of the exclusive Anvil Club.

"I say, Matson," he began, "this is great! Yale has come into her own
again. We'd like the honor of electing you to our society, and would be
pleased to have you make application."

"I'm much obliged to you," spoke Joe slowly, "but I'm afraid I can't."

"You can't! Why not?"

"Because I'm going to leave Yale!"

"Leave Yale!" came the indignant protest. "What for?"

"Because I have just accepted, tentatively, an offer from one of the
managers of a professional league to pitch for him the rest of this
season, and all of next," replied Joe quietly.

"That's right," confirmed the man who had whispered in our hero's
ear. "I know a good pitcher when I see one, and there is no use of
Matson wearing himself out on a college nine. He is cut out for a
professional!"

And to all the protests of his classmates Joe would not give in. He knew
that college was no place for him, and as the chance had come to get
into the professional ranks, at good pay, he was going to take it;
provided, of course, that his folks were willing.

How he did, and what happened, will be told in the next volume of this
series, to be called, "Baseball Joe in the Central League; Or, Making
Good as a Professional Pitcher."

"Oh, Joe, can't you reconsider, and stay at Yale?" begged Spike, when he
and his chum, after the exciting events of the championship game, were
in their room once more. "I don't know what I'm going to do without
you."

"Spike, old man," said Joe, and his voice broke a little. "I would like
to stay, for your sake, and for some of the other fine fellows I've met
here. I'd like to stay in spite of the unpleasant experience I've had. I
know it's going to break mother all up to hear I've left college, but
I'm not cut out for it. I'm a square peg in a round hole. I want to get
into professional baseball, and I've just _got_ to. I shouldn't be happy
here."

"Well, if that's the case," said Spike, with a sigh, "I'm not going to
say anything more. Only it sure is tough luck. Yale will miss you."

"And I'll miss her, too, in a way. But my place isn't here."

There was silence between them for a space, and then Spike said softly:

"Come on down to Glory's--for the last time. Joe."

And they went out together.


THE END



THE BASEBALL JOE SERIES

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 Transcriber's Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 --Text in bold is enclosed by "equal" signs (=bold=).

 --Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 --Retained author's long dash style.





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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.



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