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Title: A Quarter-Back's Pluck - A Story of College Football
Author: Chadwick, Lester
Language: English
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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 "A Quarter-Back's Pluck - A Story of College Football" ***

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[Illustration: "Smash and hammer; hammer and smash!"]



 A Quarter-Back's Pluck

 A Story of College Football

 BY
 LESTER CHADWICK

 AUTHOR OF "THE RIVAL PITCHERS," ETC.


 ILLUSTRATED


 NEW YORK
 CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY



 BOOKS BY LESTER CHADWICK

 =THE COLLEGE SPORTS SERIES=

 12mo. Illustrated

 THE RIVAL PITCHERS
 A Story of College Baseball

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

 (Other volumes in preparation)

 CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY NEW YORK


 Copyright, 1910, by
 CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY


 A QUARTER-BACK'S PLUCK


 Printed in U. S. A.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                                        PAGE
      I  MOVING DAY                                1
     II  LANGRIDGE HAS A TUMBLE                   10
    III  PHIL GETS BAD NEWS                       20
     IV  FOOTBALL PRACTICE                        31
      V  A CLASH                                  43
     VI  PROFESSOR TINES OBJECTS                  52
    VII  THE FIRST LINE-UP                        61
   VIII  LANGRIDGE AND GERHART PLOT               70
     IX  SOME GIRLS                               77
      X  A BOTTLE OF LINIMENT                     91
     XI  IN WHICH SOM EONE BECOMES A VICTIM      100
    XII  THE FIRST GAME                          106
   XIII  SMASHING THE LINE                       117
    XIV  "GIRLS ARE QUEER"                       123
     XV  PHIL SAVES WALLOPS                      131
    XVI  PHIL IS NERVOUS                         138
   XVII  THE SOPHOMORES LOSE                     144
  XVIII  A FIRE ALARM                            155
    XIX  THE FRESHMEN DANCE                      162
     XX  PHIL GETS A TELEGRAM                    172
    XXI  STRANGE BEDFELLOWS                      179
   XXII  A CHANGE IN SIGNALS                     187
  XXIII  BATTERING BOXER HALL                    195
   XXIV  GERHART HAS AN IDEA                     210
    XXV  PHIL GIVES UP                           217
   XXVI  SID IS BOGGED                           224
  XXVII  WOES OF A NATURALIST                    233
 XXVIII  TOM IS JEALOUS                          239
   XXIX  A STRANGE DISCOVERY                     246
    XXX  A BITTER ENEMY                          254
   XXXI  "IT'S TOO LATE TO BACK OUT!"            260
  XXXII  TOM GETS A TIP                          265
 XXXIII  "LINE UP!"                              273
  XXXIV  THE GAME                                280
   XXXV  VICTORY--CONCLUSION                     287



A QUARTER-BACK'S PLUCK



CHAPTER I

MOVING DAY


Phil Clinton looked critically at the rickety old sofa. Then he glanced
at his chum, Tom Parsons. Next he lifted, very cautiously, one end of
the antiquated piece of furniture. The sofa bent in the middle, much as
does a ship with a broken keel.

"It--it looks like a mighty risky job to move it, Tom," said Phil. "It's
broken right through the center."

"I guess it is," admitted Tom sorrowfully. Then he lifted the head of
the sofa, and warned by an ominous creaking, he lowered it gently to the
floor of the college room which he and his chum, Sid Henderson, were
about to leave, with the assistance of Phil Clinton to help them move.
"Poor old sofa," went on Tom. "You've had a hard life. I'm afraid your
days are numbered."

"But you're not going to leave it here, for some measly freshman to lie
on, are you, Tom?" asked Phil anxiously.

"Not much!" was the quick response.

"Nor the old chair?"

"Nope!"

"Nor the alarm clock?"

"Never! Even if it doesn't keep time, and goes off in the middle of the
night. No, Phil, we'll take 'em along to our new room. But, for the life
of me, I don't see how we're going to move that sofa. It will collapse
if we lift both ends at once."

"I suppose so, but we've got to take it, even if we move it in sections,
Tom."

"Of course, only I don't see----"

"I have it!" cried Phil suddenly. "I know how to do it!"

"How?"

"Splice it."

"Splice it? What do you think it is--a rope ladder? You must be in love,
or getting over the measles."

"No, I mean just what I say. We'll splice it. You wait. I'll go down
cellar, and get some pieces of board from the janitor. Also a hammer and
some nails. We'll save the old sofa yet, Tom."

"All right, go ahead. More power to ye, as Bricktop Molloy would say. I
wonder if he's coming back this term?"

"Yep. Post graduate course, I hear. He wouldn't miss the football team
for anything. Well, you hold down things here until I come back. If the
new freshmen who are to occupy this room come along, tell 'em we'll be
moved by noon."

"I doubt it; but go ahead. I'll try to be comfortable until your return,
dearest," and with a mocking smile Tom Parsons sank down into an easy
chair that threatened to collapse under his substantial bulk. From the
faded cushions a cloud of dust arose, and set Tom to sneezing so hard
that the old chair creaked and rattled, as if it would fall apart.

"Easy! Easy there, old chap!" exclaimed the tall, good-looking lad, as
he peered on either side of the seat. "Don't go back on me now. You'll
soon have a change of climate, and maybe that will be good for your old
bones."

He settled back, stuck his feet out before him, and gazed about the
room. It was a very much dismantled apartment. In the center was piled
a collection of baseball bats, tennis racquets, boxing gloves, foils,
catching gloves, a football, some running trousers, a couple of
sweaters, and a nondescript collection of books. There were also a
couple of trunks, while, flanking the pile, was the old sofa and the arm
chair. On top of all the alarm clock was ticking comfortably away, as
happy as though moving from one college dormitory to another was a most
matter-of-fact proceeding. The hands pointed to one o'clock, when it
was, as Tom ascertained by looking at his watch, barely nine; but a
little thing like that did not seem to give the clock any concern.

"I do hope Phil can rig up some scheme so we can move the sofa,"
murmured the occupant of the easy chair. "That's like part of ourselves
now. It will make the new room seem more like home. I wonder where Sid
can be? This is more of his moving than it is Phil's, but Sid always
manages to get out of hard work. Phil is anxious to room with us, I
guess."

Tom Parsons stretched his legs out a little farther, and let his gaze
once more roam about the room. Suddenly he uttered an exclamation, as
his eye caught sight of something on the wall.

"Came near forgetting that," he said as he arose, amid another cloud of
dust from the chair, and removed from a spot on the wall, behind the
door, the picture of a pretty girl. "I never put that there," he went
on, as he wiped the dust from the photograph, and turned it over to look
at the name written on the back--Madge Tyler. "Sid must have done that
for a joke. He thought I'd forget it, and leave it for some freshy to
make fun of. Not much! I got ahead of you that time, Sid, my boy. Queer
how he doesn't like girls," added Tom, with the air of an expert. "Well,
probably it's just as well he doesn't take too much to Madge, for----"

But Tom's musings, which were getting rather sentimental, were
interrupted by the entrance of Phil Clinton. Phil had under one arm some
boards, while in one hand he carried a hammer, and in the other some
nails.

"Just the cheese," he announced. "Now we'll have this thing fixed up in
jig time. Hasn't Sid Henderson showed up?"

"No. I guess he's over to the new room. He took his books and left some
time ago. Maybe he's studying."

"Not much!" exclaimed Phil. "I wish he'd come and help move. Some of
this stuff is his."

"Most of it is. I'm glad you're going to help, or I'd never have the
courage to shift. Well, let's get the sofa fixed. I doubt if we can make
it hold together, though."

"Yes, we can. I'll show you."

Phil went to work in earnest. He was an athletic-looking chap, of
generous size, and one of the best runners at Randall College. He was
one of Tom Parson's particular chums, the other being Sidney Henderson.
Tom and Sid, of whom more will be told presently, had roomed together
during their freshman year at Randall, and Phil's apartment was not far
away. Toward the close of the term the three boys were much together,
Phil spending more time in the room of Tom and Sid than he did in his
own. In this way he became very much attached to the old chair and sofa,
which formed two of the choicest possessions of the lads.

With the opening of the new term, when the freshmen had become more or
less dignified sophomores, Phil had proposed that he and his two chums
shift to a large room in the west dormitory, where the majority of the
sophomores and juniors lived. His plan was enthusiastically adopted by
Sid and Tom, and, as soon as they had arrived at college, ready for the
beginning of the term, moving day had been instituted. But Sid, after
helping Tom get their possessions in a pile in the middle of the room
they were about to leave, had disappeared, and Phil, enthusiastic about
getting his two best friends into an apartment with him, had come over
to aid Tom.

"Now, you see," went on Phil, "I'll nail this board along the front edge
of the sofa--so."

"But don't you think, old chap--and I know you'll excuse my mentioning
it," said Tom--"don't you think that it rather spoils, well, we'll say
the artistic beauty of it?"

"Artistic fiddlesticks!" exclaimed Phil. "Of course it does! But it's
the only way to hold it together."

"One could, I suppose, put a sort of drapery--flounce, I believe, is
the proper word--over it," went on Tom. "That would hide the unsightly
board."

"I don't care whether it's hid or not!" exclaimed Phil. "But if you
don't get down here and help hold this end, while I nail the other, I
know what's going to happen."

"What?" asked Tom, as he carefully put in his pocket the photograph of
the pretty girl.

"Well, you'll have a mob of howling freshmen in here, and there won't be
any sofa left."

"Perish the thought!" cried Tom, and then he set to work in earnest
helping Phil.

"Now a board on the back," said the amateur carpenter, and for a few
minutes he hammered vigorously.

"It's a regular anvil chorus," remarked Tom.

"Here, no knocking!" exclaimed his chum. "Now let's see if it's stiff
enough."

Anxiously he raised one end of the sofa. There was no sagging in the
middle this time.

"It's like putting a new keel on a ship!" cried the inventor of the
scheme gaily. "A few more nails, and it will do. Do you think the chair
will stand shifting?"

"Oh, yes. That's like the 'one-horse shay'--it'll hold together until it
flies apart by spontaneous combustion. You needn't worry about that."

Phil proceeded to drive a few more nails in the boards he had attached
to the front and back of the sofa. Then he got up to admire his work.

"I call that pretty good, Tom; don't you?" he asked.

The two chums drew back to the farther side of the room to get the
effect.

"Yes, I guess with a ruffle or two, a little insertion, and a bit of old
lace, it will hide the fractured places, Phil. It's a pity----"

"Here, what are you scoundrels doing to my old sofa?" exclaimed a voice.
"Vandals! How dare you spoil that antique?" and another lad entered the
room. "Say, why didn't you put new legs on it, insert new springs, and
cover it over while you were about it?" he asked sarcastically.

"Because, you old fossil, we _had_ to put those boards on," said Tom.
"Where have you been, Sid? Phil and I were getting ready to move without
you."

"Oh, I've been cleaning out the new room we're going into. The juniors
who were there last term must have tried to raise vegetables in it,
judging by the amount of dirt I found. But it's all right now."

"Good! Now if you'll catch hold here, we'll move the old sofa first. The
rest will be easy."

Sid Henderson grasped the head of the couch, while Tom took the foot.
Phil acted as general manager, and steadied it on the side.

"Easy now, easy boys," he cautioned, as they moved toward the door
leading to the hall.



CHAPTER II

LANGRIDGE HAS A TUMBLE


Out into the corridor went the three lads with the old sofa. It was no
easy task, but they managed to get it out of the east dormitory, where
they had roomed for a year, and then they began the journey across a
stretch of grass to the west building.

The appearance of the three boys, carrying a dilapidated sofa, as
tenderly as though it were some rare and fragile object, attracted the
attention of a crowd of students. The lads swarmed over to surround the
movers.

"Well, would you look at that!" exclaimed Holman, otherwise known as
"Holly," Cross. "Have you had a fire, Tom?"

"No; they've been to an auction sale of antiques, and this is the bed
on which Louis XIV slept the night before he ate the Welsh rarebit,"
declared Ed Kerr, the champion catcher on the 'varsity nine. "Why don't
you label it, Phil, so a fellow would know what it is?"

"You get out of the way!" exclaimed Tom good-naturedly.

"This side up, with care. Store in a cool, dry place, and water
frequently," quoted Billy Housenlager, who rejoiced in the title of
Dutch. "Here, let me see if I can jump over it while it is in motion,"
he added, for he was full of "horseplay," and always anxious to try
something new. He took a running start, and was about to leap full upon
the sofa, when, at a signal from Phil, the three chums set the spliced
piece of furniture on the grass.

"What's the matter?" asked Dutch indignantly. "Can't you give a fellow a
chance to practice jumping? I can beat Grasshopper Backus, now."

"You can not!" exclaimed the owner of the title. "I'm sure to make the
track team this term, and then you'll see what----"

"Say," put in another student, "my uncle says that when he was here he
used to jump----"

"Drown him!"

"Stuff grass in his mouth!"

"Make him eat the horsehair in the sofa!"

"Swallow it!"

"Chew it up!"

These were some of the cries of derision that greeted Ford Fenton's
mention of his uncle. The gentleman had once been a coach at Randall,
and a very good one, too, but his nephew was doing much to spoil his
reputation.

For, at every chance he got, and at times when there was no opportunity
but such as he made, Ford would quote his aforesaid uncle, upon any and
all subjects, to the no small disapproval of his college mates. So they
had gotten into the habit of "rigging" him every time he mentioned his
relative.

"I don't care," Ford said, when the chorus of exclamations had ceased.
"My uncle----"

But he got no further, for the students made a rush for him and buried
him out of sight in a pile of wriggling arms and legs.

"First down; ten yards to gain!" yelled some one.

"Come on, now's our chance," said Tom. "First thing we know they'll do
that to our sofa, and then it will be all up with the poor old thing.
Let's move on."

Once more the chums took up their burden, and walked toward the west
dormitory. By this time the throng had done with punishing poor Fenton,
and once more turned its attention to the movers.

"Going to split it up for firewood?" called Ed Kerr.

"No; it's full of germs, and they're going to dig 'em out and use 'em
in the biology class," suggested Dan Woodhouse, who was more commonly
called Kindlings.

"Maybe they're going to make a folding bed of it," came from Bricktop
Molloy. "Come on, fellows, let's investigate."

The crowd of fun-loving students hurried after the three lads carrying
the sofa.

"They're coming!" exclaimed Tom.

"Let's drop the sofa and cut for it?" proposed Sid. "They'll make a
rough house if they catch us."

"I'm not going to desert the sofa!" exclaimed Tom.

"Nor I. I'll stick by you--'I will stand at thy right hand, and guard
the bridge with thee,'" quoted Phil. "But if we put a little more speed
on we can get to the dormitory, and that will be sanctuary, I guess.
Come on; run, fellows!"

It was awkward work, running and carrying a clumsy sofa, but they
managed it. Holly Cross caught up to them as they were at the door of
the building.

"Ah, let's have the old ark," he pleaded. "We'll make a bonfire of it,
and circle about it to-night, after we haze some freshies. Give us the
old relic, Tom."

"Not on your life!" exclaimed the crack pitcher of the 'varsity nine.
"This is our choicest possession, Holly. It goes wherever we go."

"Well, it won't go much longer," observed Holly. "One of its legs is
coming off."

Almost as he spoke one of the sofa legs, probably jarred loose by the
unaccustomed rapid rate of progress, fell to the dormitory steps.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" exclaimed Phil. "It's beginning to fall apart,
Tom."

"Never mind, you can nail it on. Sid, you carry the leg. The stairs are
so narrow that only two of us can manage the sofa. Phil and I will do
that, and you come in back to catch me, in case I fall."

Seeing that there was no chance to get the sofa away from its owners, to
make a college holiday with it, Holly Cross and his friends turned back
to look for another source of sport. Sid picked up the leg, and then,
with Phil mounting the stairs backward, carrying one end, and Tom
advancing and holding the other, the task was begun. Up the stairs they
went, and when they were half way there appeared at the head of the
flight two lads. They were both well dressed in expensive clothes, and
there was about them that indefinable air of "sportiness" which is so
easily recognizable but hard to acquire.

"Hello, what's this?" asked the foremost of the two, as he looked down
on the approaching cavalcade and the sofa. "Here, what do you fellows
mean by blocking up the stairway? Don't you know that no tradesmen are
allowed in this entrance?"

"Who are you talking to?" demanded Phil, not seeing who was speaking.

"It's Langridge," explained Tom, as he looked up and saw his former
enemy and rival.

"Oh, it's Parsons, Henderson and Clinton," went on Fred Langridge, as he
recognized some fellow students. Then, without apologizing for his
former words, he went on: "I say, you fellows will have to back down and
let me and Gerhart past. We are in a hurry."

"So are we," said Tom shortly. "I guess you can wait until we come up."

"No, I can't!" exclaimed Langridge. "You back up! You have no right to
block up the stairs this way!"

"Well, I guess we have," put in Sid. "We're moving some of our things to
our new room."

Langridge, followed by the other well-dressed lad, came down a few
steps. He saw the old sofa, and exclaimed:

"What! Do you mean to say that you fellows are moving that fuzzy-wuzzy
piece of architecture into this dormitory? I'll not stand for it! I'll
complain to the proctor! Why, it's full of disease germs!"

"Yes, and you're full of prune juice!" cried Phil Clinton, unable to
stand the arrogant words and manner of Langridge.

"Don't get gay with me!" exclaimed Tom's former rival.

"I'll lay you five to three that you can't jump over their heads and
clear the sofa," put in the other student, whom Langridge had called
Gerhart. "Do any of you fellows want to bet?" he asked rather
sneeringly, as he looked down at Tom, Phil and Sid.

"I guess not," answered Tom, good-naturedly enough.

"Ah, you're not sports, I see," rejoined Gerhart. "I thought you said
this was a sporty college, Langridge?"

"So it is, when you strike the right crowd, and not a lot of greasy
digs," was the answer. "I say, are you chaps going to move back and let
me and Gerhart pass?" he went on.

"No, we're not," replied Phil shortly. "You can wait until we get up. Go
on back now, Langridge, and we'll soon have this out of the way."

"Burning it up would be the best method of getting it out of the way,"
declared Langridge, still with that sneer in his voice. "I never saw
such a disgraceful piece of furniture. What do you fellows want with it?
Surely you're not going to put it in your room."

"That's just what we are going to do," declared Sid. "We wouldn't part
with this for a good bit, would we, fellows?"

"Nope," chorused Phil and Tom.

"Did it come over in the _Mayflower_?" asked Gerhart. "I'm willing to
bet ten to one that if you think it's an antique that you're stuck. How
about it?"

"You're quite a sport, aren't you, freshie?" asked Phil suddenly, for he
knew that the new student must belong to the first-year class.

"Of course I'm a sport, but if you go to calling names I'll show you
that I'm something else!" exclaimed the other fiercely. "If you want to
do a little something in the boxing line----"

"Dry up!" hastily advised Langridge in a whisper. "You're a freshman,
and you know it. They're sophomores, and so am I. Don't get gay."

"Well, they needn't insult a gentleman."

"Tell us when one's around, and we'll be on our good behavior," spoke
Phil with a laugh.

"Come, now, are you fellows going to back down and let us pass?" asked
Langridge hastily.

"Like the old guard, we die, but never surrender," spoke Tom. "We're not
going to back down, Langridge. It's easier for you to go back than for
us."

"Well, I'm not going to do it. You have no right to move your stuff in
here, anyhow. The rooms are furnished."

"We want our old chair and sofa," explained Sid.

"I should think you'd be ashamed to bring such truck into a decent
college," expostulated Langridge. "It looks as if it had been through a
fire in a second-hand store."

"That'll do you," remarked Phil. "This is our sofa, and we'll do as we
please with it."

"You won't block up my way, that's one thing you won't do," declared
Langridge fiercely. "I'm going down. Look out! If I upset you fellows it
won't be my fault."

He started down the stairs, and managed to squeeze past Phil, who,
though he did not like Langridge, moved as far to one side as possible
in the narrow passage. As Langridge passed the sofa he struck it with a
little cane he carried. A cloud of dust arose.

"Whew!" exclaimed the sporty lad. "Smell the germs! Wow! Get me some
disinfectant, Gerhart."

Whether it was the action of Langridge in hitting the sofa that caused
Tom to stagger, or whether Phil was unsteady on his feet and pushed on
the sofa, did not develop. At any rate, just as Langridge came opposite
to Tom on the stairs, the former pitcher was jostled against his rival.
Langridge stumbled, tried to save himself by clutching at Tom and then
at the sofa. He missed both, and, with a loud exclamation, plunged down
head first, bringing up with a resounding thud at the bottom.



CHAPTER III

PHIL GETS BAD NEWS


For a moment after he struck the bottom of the stairs, Fred Langridge
remained stretched out, making no move. Tom Parsons feared his
former rival was badly hurt, and was about to call to Sid to go and
investigate, when Langridge got up. His face showed the rage he felt,
though it was characteristic of him that he first brushed the dust off
his clothes. He was nothing if not neat about his person.

"What did you do that for?" he cried to Tom.

"Do what?"

"Shove me down like that. I might have broken my neck. As it is, I've
wrenched my ankle."

"I didn't do it," said Tom. "If you'd stayed up where you were, until we
got past with the sofa, it wouldn't have happened. You shouldn't have
tried to pass us."

"I shouldn't, eh? Well, I guess I've got as good a right on these stairs
as you fellows have, with your musty old furniture. You oughtn't be
allowed to have it. You deliberately pushed me down, Tom Parsons, and
I'll fix you for it!" and Langridge limped about, exaggerating the hurt
to his ankle.

"I didn't push you!" exclaimed Tom. "It was an accident that you jostled
against me."

"I didn't jostle against you. You deliberately leaned against me to save
yourself from falling."

"I did not! And if you----"

"You brought it on yourself, Langridge," interrupted Phil. "You got
fresh and hit the sofa, and that made you lose your balance. It's your
own fault."

"You mind your business! When I want you to speak I'll address my
remarks to you. I'm talking to Parsons now, and I tell him----"

"You needn't take the trouble to tell me anything," declared Tom. "I
don't want to hear you. I've told you it was an accident, and if you
insist that it was done purposely I have only to say that you are
intimating that I am not telling the truth. In that case there can be
but one thing to do, and I'll do it as soon as I've gotten this sofa
into our room."

There was an obvious meaning in Tom's words, and Langridge had no
trouble in fathoming it. He did not care to come to a personal encounter
with Tom.

"Well, if you fellows hadn't been moving that measly old sofa in, this
would never have happened," growled Langridge as he limped away. "Come
on, Gerhart. We'll find more congenial company."

"I guess I'll wait until they get the sofa out of the way," remarked the
new chum Langridge appeared to have picked up.

Tom, Sid and Phil resumed their journey, and the old piece of furniture
was carried to the upper hall. The stairs were clear, and Gerhart
descended. As he passed Tom he looked at him with something of a sneer
on his face, and remarked:

"I'll lay you even money that Langridge can whip you in a fair fight."

"Why, you little freshie," exclaimed Phil, "fair fights are the only
kind we have at Randall! We don't have 'em very often, but every time we
do Tom puts the kibosh all over your friend Langridge. Another thing--it
isn't healthy for freshies to bet too much. They might go broke," and
with these words of advice Phil caught up his end of the sofa and Tom
the other. It was soon in the room the three sophomore chums had
selected.

"Now for the chair and the rest of the truck," called Phil.

"Oh, let's rest a bit," suggested Sid, as he stretched out on the sofa.
No sooner had he reached a reclining position than he sat up suddenly.

"Wow!" he cried. "What in the name of the labors of Hercules is that?"

He drew from the back of his coat a long nail.

"Why, I must have left it on the sofa when I fixed it," said Phil
innocently. "I wondered what had become of it."

"You needn't wonder any longer," spoke Sid ruefully. "Tom, take a look,
that's a good chap, and see if there's a very big hole in my back. I
think my lungs are punctured."

"Not a bit of it, from the way you let out that yell," said Phil. "That
will teach you not to take a siesta during moving operations."

"Not much damage done," Tom reported with a laugh, as he inspected his
chum's coat. "Come on now, let's get the rest of it done."

"Do you think it will be safe to leave the sofa here?" asked Sid.
"Perhaps I'd better stay and keep guard over it, while you fellows fetch
the rest of the things in."

"Well, listen to him!" burst out Phil. "What harm will come to it here?"

"Why, Langridge and that sporty new chum of his may slip in and damage
it."

"Say, if they can damage this sofa any more than it is now, I'd like to
see them," spoke Tom. "I defy even the fingers of Father Time himself to
work further havoc. No, most noble Anthony, the sofa will be perfectly
safe here."

"I wouldn't say as much for you, if Langridge gets a chance at you,"
said Phil to Tom. "You know what tricks he played on you last term."

"Yes; but I guess he's had his lesson," remarked Tom. "Now come on, and
we'll finish up."

The three lads went back to the room formerly occupied by Sid and Tom
during their freshman year. The chums were pretty much of a size, and
they made an interesting picture as they strolled across the campus.

Tom Parsons had come to Randall College the term previous, from the
town of Northville, where his parents lived. He did not care to follow
his father's occupation of farming, and so had decided on a college
education, using part of his own money to pay his way.

As told in the first volume of this series, entitled "The Rival
Pitchers," Tom had no sooner reached Randall than he incurred the enmity
of Fred Langridge, a rich youth from Chicago, who was manager of the
'varsity ball nine, and also its pitcher. Tom had ambitions to fill that
position himself, and as soon as Langridge learned this, he was more
than ever the enemy of the country lad.

Randall College was located near the town of Haddonfield, in one of our
middle Western States, and was on the shore of Sunny River, not far from
Lake Tonoka. Within a comparatively short distance from Randall were two
other institutions of learning. One was Boxer Hall, and the other
Fairview Institute, a co-educational academy. These three colleges had
formed the Tonoka Lake League in athletics, and the rivalry on the
gridiron and diamond, as well as in milder forms of sport--rowing,
tennis, basketball and hockey--ran high. When Tom arrived there was much
talk of baseball, and Randall had a good nine in prospect. Her hopes ran
toward winning the Lake League pennant in baseball, but as her nine had
been at the bottom of the list for several seasons, the chances were
dubious.

After many hardships, not a few of which Langridge was responsible for,
Tom got a chance to play on the 'varsity nine. Langridge was a good
pitcher, but he secretly drank and smoked, to say nothing of staying up
late nights to gamble; and so he was not in good form. When it came to
the crucial moment he could not "make good," and Tom was put in his
place, in the pitching box, and by phenomenal work won the deciding
game. This made Randall champion of the baseball league, and Tom Parsons
was hailed as a hero, Langridge being supplanted as pitcher and manager.

But if Langridge and some of the latter's set were his enemies, Tom had
many friends, not the least among whom were Phil Clinton and Sidney
Henderson, to say nothing of Miss Madge Tyler. This young lady and
Langridge were, at first, very good friends, but when Madge found out
what sort of a chap the rich city youth was, she broke friendship with
him, and Tom had the pleasure of taking her to more than one college
affair. This, of course, did not add to the good feeling between Tom and
Langridge.

With the winning of the championship game, baseball came practically to
an end at Randall, as well as at the other colleges in the Tonoka Lake
League, and a sort of truce was patched up between Tom and Langridge.
The summer vacation soon came, and the students scattered to their
homes. Tom and his two chums agreed to room together during the term
which opens with this story, and it may be mentioned incidentally
that both Tom and Phil hoped to play on the football eleven. Phil
was practically assured of a place, for he had played the game at a
preparatory school, and had as good a reputation in regard to filling
the position of quarter-back as Tom had in the pitching box.

It was due to a great catch which Phil made in the deciding championship
game, almost as much as to Tom's wonderful pitching, that Randall had
the banner, and Captain Holly Cross, of the eleven, had marked Phil
for one of his men during the season which was about to open on the
gridiron.

"Now we'll take the old armchair over," proposed Tom, when he and his
chums had reached the room they were vacating. "I guess I can manage
that alone. You fellows carry some of the other paraphernalia."

Phil and Sid prepared to load themselves down with gloves, balls, bats,
foils and various articles of sport. Before he left with the chair, Tom
observed Sid looking behind the door as if for something.

"It's not there, old man. I took it down," said the pitcher, and he
patted the pocket that held Madge Tyler's photograph. "You thought you'd
make me forget it, didn't you?"

"Do you mean to say you're going to stick girls' pictures up in our new
room?" asked Sid.

"Not girls' pictures, in general," replied Tom, "but one in particular."

"You make me tired!" exclaimed Sid, who cared little for feminine
society.

"You needn't look at it if you don't like," responded his chum. "But I
call her a pretty girl, don't you, Phil?"

"She's an all right looker," answered the other with such enthusiasm
that Tom glanced at him a trifle sharply.

"She's no prettier than Phil's sister," declared Sid.

"Have you a sister?" demanded Tom.

Phil bowed in assent.

"Why didn't you say so before?" asked Tom grumblingly.

"Because you never asked me."

"Where is she?"

"Going to Fairview this term, I believe."

"So is Madge--I mean Miss Tyler," burst out Tom. "I'd like to meet her,
Phil; your sister, I mean."

"Say, you're a regular Mormon!" expostulated Sid. "If we're going to get
this moving done, let's do it, and not talk about girls. You fellows
make me sick!"

"Wait until he gets bitten by the bug," said Tom with a laugh, as he
shouldered the easy chair.

It took the lads several trips to transfer all their possessions, but at
last it was accomplished, and they sat in the new room in the midst of
"confusion worse confounded," as Holly Cross remarked when he looked in
on them. Their goods were scattered all over, and the three beds in the
room were piled high with them.

"It's a much nicer place than the old room," declared Tom.

"It will be when we get it fixed up," added Phil.

"I s'pose that means sticking a lot of girls' photos on the wall, some
of those crazy banners they embroidered for you, a lot of ribbons, and
such truck," commented Sid disgustedly. "I tell you fellows one thing,
though, and that is if you go to cluttering up this room too much, I'll
have something to say. I'm not going to live in a cozy corner, nor yet
a den. I want a decent room."

"Oh, you can have one wall space to decorate in any style you like,"
said Tom.

"Yes; he'll probably adopt the early English or the late French style,"
declared Phil, "and have nothing but a calendar on it. Well, every one
to his notion. Hello, the alarm clock has stopped," and he began to
shake it vigorously.

"Easy with it!" cried Tom. "Do you want to jar the insides loose?"

"You can't hurt this clock," declared Phil, and, as if to prove his
words, the fussy little timepiece began ticking away again, as loudly
and insistingly as ever. "Well, let's get the room into some decent kind
of shape, and then I'm going out and see what the prospects are for
football," he went on. "I want to make that quarter-back position if I
have to train nights and early mornings."

"Oh, you'll get it, all right," declared Tom. "I wish I was as sure of a
place as you are. I believe----"

He was interrupted by a knock at the door. Sid opened it. In the hall
stood one of the college messengers.

"Hello, Wallops; what have you there?" asked Tom.

"Telegram for Mr. Phil Clinton."

"Hand it over," spoke Sid, taking the envelope from the youth.
"Probably it's a proposition for him to manage one of the big college
football teams."

As Wallops, who, like nearly everything and every one else about the
college had a nickname, departed down the corridor, Phil opened the
missive. It was brief, but his face paled as he read it.

"Bad news?" asked Tom quickly.

"My mother is quite ill, and they will have to operate on her to save
her life," said Phil slowly.



CHAPTER IV

FOOTBALL PRACTICE


There was a moment of silence in the room. No one cared to speak, for,
though Tom and Sid felt their hearts filled with sympathy for Phil, they
did not know what to say. It was curiously quiet--oppressively so. The
fussy little alarm clock, on the table piled high with books, was
ticking away, as if eager to call attention to itself. Indeed, it did
succeed in a measure, for Tom remarked gently.

"Seems to me that sounds louder than it did in the other room."

"There are more echoes here," spoke Sid, also quietly. "It will be
different when we get the things up."

The spell had been broken. Each one breathed a sigh of relief. Phil,
whose face had become strangely white, stared down at the telegram in
his hand. The paper rustled loudly--almost as loudly as the clock
ticked. Tom spoke again.

"Is it--is it something sudden?" he asked. "Was she all right when you
left home to come back to college?"

"Not exactly all right," answered Phil, and he seemed to be carefully
picking his words, so slowly did he speak. "She had been in poor health
for some time, and we thought a change of air would do her good. So
father took her to Florida--a place near Palm Beach. I came on here, and
I hoped to hear good news. Now--now----" He could not proceed, and
turned away.

Tom coughed unnecessarily loud, and Sid seemed to have suddenly
developed a most tremendous cold. He had to go to the window to look
out, probably to see if it was getting colder. In doing so he knocked
from a chair a football, which bounded erratically about the room, as
the spherical pigskin always does bounce. The movements of it attracted
the attention of all, and mercifully came as a relief to their
overwrought nerves.

"Well," said Sid, as he blew his nose with seemingly needless violence,
"I suppose you'll have to give up football now; for you'll go to
Florida."

"Yes," said Phil simply, "of course I shall go. I think I'll wire dad
first, though, and tell him I'm going to start."

"I'll take the message to the telegraph office for you," offered Tom
eagerly.

"No, let me go," begged Sid. "I can run faster than you, Tom."

"That's a nice thing to say, especially when I'm going to try for end on
the 'varsity eleven," said Tom a bit reproachfully. "Don't let Holly
Cross or Coach Lighton hear you say that, or I'll be down and out. I'm
none too good in my running, I know, but I'm going to practice."

"Oh, I guess you'll make out all right," commented Phil. "I'm much
obliged to you fellows. I guess I can take the message myself, though,"
and he sat down at the littered table, pushing the things aside, to
write the dispatch.

Tom and Sid said little when Phil went out to take the telegram to the
office. The two chums, one on the old patched sofa and the other in the
creaking chair, which at every movement sent up a cloud of dust from the
ancient cushion, maintained a solemn silence. Tom did remark once:

"Tough luck, isn't it?"

To which Sid made reply:

"That's what it is."

But, then, to be understood, you don't need to talk much under such
circumstances. In a little while footsteps were heard along the
corridor.

"Here he comes!" exclaimed Tom, and he arose from the sofa with such
haste that the new boards, which Phil had put on to strengthen it,
seemed likely to snap off.

"Go easy on that, will you?" begged Sid. "Do you want to break it?"

"No," answered Tom meekly, and he fell to arranging his books, a task
which Sid supplemented by piling the sporting goods indiscriminately in
a corner. They wanted to be busy when Phil came in.

"Whew! You fellows are raising a terrible dust!" exclaimed Phil. He
seemed more at his ease now. In grief there is nothing so diverting as
action, and now that he had sent his telegram, and hoped to be able to
see his mother shortly, it made the bad news a little easier to bear.

"Yes," spoke Tom; "it's Sid. He raises a dust every time he gets
into or out of that chair. I really think we ought to send it to the
upholsterer's and have it renovated."

"There'd be nothing left of it," declared Phil. "Better let well enough
alone. It'll last for some years yet--as long as we are in Randall."

"Did you send the message?" blurted out Tom.

"Yes, and now I'll wait for an answer."

"Is it--will they have to--I mean--of course there's some danger in an
operation," stammered Sid, blushing like a girl.

"Yes," admitted Phil gravely. "It is very dangerous. I don't exactly
know what it is, but before she went away our family doctor said that if
it came to an operation it would be a serious one. Now--now it seems
that it's time for it. Dear old mother--I--I hope----" He was struggling
with himself. "Oh, hang it all!" he suddenly burst out. "Let's get this
room to rights. If--if I go away I'll have the nightmare thinking what
shape it's in. Let's fix up a bit, and then go out and take a walk. Then
it will be grub time. After that we'll go out and see if any more
fellows have arrived."

It was good advice--just the thing needed to take their attention off
Phil's grief, and they fell to work with a will. In a short time the
room began to look something like those they had left.

"Here, what are you sticking up over there?" called Sid to Tom, as he
detected the latter in the act of tacking something on the wall.

"I'm putting up a photograph," said Tom.

"A girl's, I'll bet you a new hat."

"Yes," said Tom simply. "Why, you old anchorite, haven't I a right to?
It's a pity you wouldn't get a girl yourself!"

"Humph! I'd like to see myself," murmured Sid, as he carefully tacked up
a calendar and a couple of football pictures.

"Oh, that's Miss Tyler's picture, isn't it?" spoke Phil.

"Yes."

Phil was sorting his books when from a volume of Pliny there dropped a
photograph. Tom spied it.

"Ah, ha!" he exclaimed. "It seems that I'm not the only one to have
girls' pictures. Say, but she's a good-looker, all right!"

"She's my sister Ruth," said Phil quietly.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," came quickly from Tom. "I--I didn't know."

"That's all right," spoke Phil genially. "I believe she is considered
quite pretty. I was going to put her picture up on the wall, but since
Sid objects to----"

"What's that?" cried the amateur misogynist. "Say, you can put that
picture up on my side of the room if you like, Phil. I--I don't object
to--to all girls' pictures; it's only--well--er--she's your sister--put
her picture where you like," and he fairly glared at Tom.

"Wonders will never cease," quoted the 'varsity pitcher. "Your sister
has worked a miracle, Phil."

"You dry up!" commanded Sid. "All I ask is, don't make the room a
photograph gallery. There's reason in all things. Go ahead, Phil."

"The next thing he'll be wanting will be to have an introduction to your
sister," commented Tom.

"I'd like to have both you fellows meet her," said Phil gravely. "You
probably would have, only for this--this trouble of mother's. Now I
suppose sis will have to leave Fairview and go to Palm Beach with me. I
must take a run over this evening, and see her. She'll be all broken
up." It was not much of a journey to Fairview, a railroad was well as a
trolley line connecting the town of that name with Haddonfield.

The room was soon fitted up in fairly good shape, though the three chums
promised that they would make a number of changes in time. They went to
dinner together, meeting at the table many of their former classmates,
and seeing an unusually large number of freshmen.

"There'll be plenty of hazing this term," commented Tom.

"Yes, I guess we'll have our hands full," added Sid.

Old and new students continued to arrive all that day. After reporting
to the proper officials of the college there was nothing for them to
do, save to stroll about, as lectures would not begin until the next
morning, and then only preliminary classes would be formed.

"I think I'll go down to the office and see if any telegram has arrived
for me," said Phil, as he and his chums were strolling across the
campus.

"I hope you get good news," spoke Tom. "We'll wait for you in the room,
and help you pack if you have to go."

"Thanks," was Phil's answer as he walked away.

"Well, Tom, I suppose you're going to be with us this fall?" asked Holly
Cross, captain of the football eleven, as he spied Tom and Sid.

"I am if I can make it. What do you think?"

"Well, we've got plenty of good material for ends, and of course we want
the best, and----"

"Oh, I understand," said Tom with a laugh. "I'm not asking any favors. I
had my honors this spring on the diamond. But I'm going to try, just the
same."

"I hope you make it," said Holly fervently. "We'll have some try-out
practice the last of this week. Where's Phil? I've about decided on him
for quarter-back."

"I don't believe he can play," remarked Sid.

"Not play!" cried Holly.

Then they told him, and the captain was quite broken up over the news.

"Well," he said finally, "all we can hope is that his mother gets better
in time for him to get into the game with us. We want to do the same
thing to Boxer Hall and Fairview at football as we did in baseball. I do
hope Phil can play."

"So do we," came from Tom, as he and Sid continued on to their room.

It was half an hour before Phil came in, and the time seemed three times
as long to the two chums in their new apartment. When he entered the
room both gazed apprehensively at him. There was a different look on
Phil's face than there had been.

"Well?" asked Tom, and his voice seemed very loud.

"Dad doesn't want me to come," was Phil's answer.

"Not come--why? Is it too----"

"Well, they've decided to postpone the operation," went on Phil. "It
seems that she's a little better, and there may be a chance. Anyhow, dad
thinks if sis and I came down it would only worry mother, and make her
think she was getting worse, and that would be bad. So I'll not go to
Florida."

"Then it's good news?" asked Sid.

"Yes, much better than I dared to hope. Maybe she'll get well without
an operation. I feel fine, now. I'm going over to Fairview and tell
my sister. Dad asked me to let her know. I feel ten years younger,
fellows!"

"So do we!" cried Tom, and he seized his chum's hand.

"Let's go out and haze a couple of dozen freshmen," proposed Sid
eagerly.

"You bloodthirsty old rascal!" commented Phil. "Let the poor freshies
alone. They'll get all that's coming to them, all right. Well, I'm off.
Hold down the room, you two."

Tom and Sid spent the evening in their apartment, after Phil had
received permission to go to Fairview, Tom having entrusted him with a
message to Madge Tyler. The two chums had a number of invitations to
assist in hazing freshmen, but declined.

"We don't want to do it without Phil," said Tom, and this loyal view was
shared by Sid.

Phil came back late that night, or, rather, early the next morning, for
it was past midnight when he got to Randall College.

"Your friend Madge sends word that she hopes you'll take her to the
opening game of the football season," said Phil to Tom, as he was
undressing.

"Did you see her?" inquired Tom eagerly.

"Of course. Ruth sent for her. She's all you said she was, Tom."

"Oh!" spoke Tom in a curious voice, and then he was strangely silent.
For Phil was a good-looking chap, and had plenty of money; and Tom
remembered what friends Madge and Langridge had been. His sleep was not
an untroubled one that night.

Two or three days more of general excitement ensued before matters were
running smoothly at Randall. In that time most of the students had
settled in their new rooms, the freshmen found their places, some were
properly hazed, and that ordeal for others was postponed until a future
date, much to the misery of the fledglings.

"Preliminary football practice to-morrow," announced Phil one
afternoon, as he came in from the gymnasium and found Tom and Sid
studying.

"That's good!" cried Tom. "Are you going to try, Sid?"

"Not this year. I've got to buckle down to studies, I guess. Baseball is
about all I can stand."

"I hear Langridge is out of it, too," said Phil. "His uncle has put a
ban on it. He's got to make good in lessons this term."

"Well, I think the team will be better off without him," commented Sid.
"Not that he's a poor player, but he won't train properly, and that has
a bad effect on the other fellows. It's not fair to them, either. Look
what he did in baseball. We'd have lost the championship if it hadn't
been for Tom."

"Oh, I don't know about that," modestly spoke the hero of the pitching
box.

"Well, turn out in football togs to-morrow," went on Phil. "By the way,
I hear that Langridge's new freshman friend--Gerhart--is going to try
for quarter-back against me."

"What! that fellow who was with him when we were moving our sofa in?"
asked Tom.

"That's the one."

"Humph! Doesn't look as if he was heavy enough for football," commented
Sid.

"You can't tell by the looks of a toad how much hay it can eat," quoted
Phil.

The following afternoon a crowd of sturdy lads, in their football suits,
thronged out on the gridiron, which was the baseball field properly put
in shape. The goal posts had been erected, and Coach Lighton and Captain
Cross were on hand to greet the candidates.

"Now, fellows," said the coach, "we'll just have a little running,
tackling, passing the ball, some simple formations and other exercises
to test your wind and legs. I'll pick out four teams, and you can play
against each other."



CHAPTER V

A CLASH


Ragged work, necessarily, marked the opening of the practice. The ball
was dropped, fumbled, fallen upon, lost, regained, tossed and kicked.
But it all served a purpose, and the coach and captain, with keen eyes,
watched the different candidates. Now and then they gave a word of
advice, cautioning some player about wrong movements, or suggesting a
different method.

Phil had been put in as quarter-back on one scrub team, and Tom, as
left-end, on the same. Phil found his opponent on the opposing eleven to
be none other than Langridge's friend, Gerhart. It did not need much of
an eye to see that Gerhart did not know the game. He would have done
well enough on a small eleven, but he had neither the ability nor the
strength to last through a college contest.

Several times, when it was his rival's turn to pass back the ball, Phil
saw the inefficient work of Gerhart, but he said nothing. He felt that
he was sure of his place on the 'varsity eleven, yet he called to mind
how Langridge had used his influence to keep Tom Parsons from pitching
in the spring.

There was no denying that Langridge had influence with the sporting
crowd, and it was possible that he might exert it in favor of his new
chum and against Phil. But there was one comfort: Langridge was not as
prominent in sports as he had been during the spring term, when he was
manager of the baseball team. He had lost that position because of his
failure to train and play properly, and, too, his uncle, who was his
guardian, had insisted that he pay more attention to studies.

"After all, I don't believe I have much to fear from him," thought Phil.
Then came a scrimmage, and he threw himself into the mass play to
prevent the opposing eleven from gaining.

The practice lasted half an hour, and at the close Coach Lighton and
Captain Cross walked off the field, talking earnestly.

"I wish I knew what they were saying," spoke Phil, as he and Tom
strolled toward the dressing-room.

"Oh, they're saying you're the best ever, Phil."

"Nonsense! They're probably discussing how they can induce you to play."

"Well, how goes it?" called a voice, and they looked back to see
Bricktop Molloy. He was perspiring freely from the hard practice he had
been through at tackle.

"Fine!" cried Tom. "We were just wondering if we would make the
'varsity."

"Sure you will," answered the genial Irish student, who was nothing if
not encouraging. Perhaps it was because he was sure himself of playing
on the first team that he was so confident.

"What did you think of Gerhart at quarter?" asked Tom, for the benefit
of his chum.

"I didn't notice him much," answered Bricktop, as he ruffled his red
hair. "Seemed to me to be a bit sloppy, though; and that won't do."

Phil did not say anything, but he looked relieved.

"Too bad you're not going to play, Sid, old chap," remarked Tom in the
room that night, when the three chums were together. "You don't know
what you miss."

"Oh, yes, I do," was the answer, and Sid looked up from the depths of
the chair, closing his Greek book. "The day has gone by when I want to
have twenty-one husky lads trying to shove my backbone through my
stomach. I don't mind baseball, but I draw the line at posing as a
candidate for a broken neck or a dislocated shoulder. Not any in mine,
thank you."

"You're a namby-pamby milksop!" exclaimed Phil with a laugh and a pat on
the back, that took all the sting from the words. "Worse than that,
you're a----"

"Well, I don't stick girls' pictures, and banners worked in silk by the
aforesaid damsels, all over the room," and Sid looked with disapproval
on an emblem which Tom had placed on the wall that day. It was a silk
flag of Randall colors, which Madge Tyler had given to him.

"You're a misguided, crusty, hard-shelled troglodytic specimen of a
misogynist!" exclaimed Tom.

"Thanks, fair sir, for the compliment," and Sid arose to bow
elaborately.

Phil and Tom talked football until Sid begged them to cease, as he
wanted to study, and, though it was hard work, they managed to do so.
Soon they were poring over their books, and all that was heard in the
room was the occasional rattle of paper, mingling with the ticking of
the clock.

"Well, I'm done for to-night," announced Sid, after an hour's silence.
"I'm going to get up early and bone away. Hand me that alarm clock, Tom,
and I'll set it for five."

"Don't!" begged Phil.

"Why not?"

"Because if you do it will go off about one o'clock in the morning. Set
it at eleven, and by the law of averages it ought to go off at five. Try
it and see. I never saw such a clock as that. It's a most perverse
specimen."

Phil's prediction proved, on trial, to be correct, so Sid set the clock
at eleven, and went to bed, where, a little later, Tom and Phil
followed.

There was more football practice the next afternoon, and also the
following day. Tom was doing better than he expected, but his speed was
not yet equal to the work that would be required of him.

"We need quick ends," said the coach in talking to the candidates during
a lull in practice. "You ends must get down the field like lightning on
kicks, and we're going to do a good deal of kicking this year."

Tom felt that he would have to spend some extra time running, both on
the gymnasium track and across country. His wind needed a little
attention, and he was not a lad to favor himself. He wanted to be the
best end on the team. He spoke to the coach about it, and was advised to
run every chance he got.

"If you do, I can practically promise you a place on the eleven," said
Mr. Lighton.

"Who's going to be quarter-back?" Tom could not help asking.

"I don't know," was the frank answer. "A few days ago I would have said
Phil Clinton; but Gerhart, the new man, has been doing some excellent
work recently. I'll be able to tell in a few days."

Somehow Tom felt a little apprehensive for Phil. He fancied he could see
the hand of Langridge at work in favor of his freshman chum.

The matter was unexpectedly settled a few days later. There were two
scrub teams lined up, Tom and Phil being on one, and Gerhart playing at
quarter on the other. There had been some sharp practice, and a halt was
called while the coach gave the men some instructions. As a signal was
about to be given Phil went over to the coach, and, in a spirit of the
utmost fairness, complained that the opposing center was continually
offending in the matter of playing off side. Phil suggested that Mr.
Lighton warn him quietly.

The coach nodded comprehendingly, and started to speak a word of
caution. As he passed over to the opposing side, he saw Gerhart stooping
to receive the ball.

"Gerhart," he said, "I think you would improve if you would hold your
arms a little closer to your body. Then the ball will come in contact
with your hands and body at the same time, and there is less chance for
a fumble. Here, I'll show you."

Now, when Mr. Lighton started he had no idea whatever of speaking to
Gerhart. It was the center he had in mind, but he never missed a chance
to coach a player. He came quite close to the quarter-back, and was
indicating the position he meant him to assume, when the coach suddenly
started back.

"Gerhart, you've been smoking!" he exclaimed, and he sniffed the air
suspiciously.

"I have not!" was the indignant answer.

"Don't deny it," was the retort of the coach. "I know the smell of
cigarettes too well. You may go to the side lines. Shipman, you come in
at quarter," and he motioned to another player.

"Mr. Lighton," began Gerhart, "I promise----"

"It's too late to promise now," was the answer the coach made. "At the
beginning of practice I warned you all that if you broke training rules
you couldn't play. If you do it now, what will you do later on?"

"I assure you, I--er--I only took a few----"

"Shipman," was all Mr. Lighton said, and then he spoke to the center.

Gerhart withdrew from the practice, and walked slowly from the gridiron.
As he left the field he cast a black look at Phil, who, all unconscious
of it, was waiting for the play to be resumed. But Tom saw it.

Fifteen minutes more marked the close of work for the day. As Tom and
Phil were hurrying to the dressing-rooms, they were met by Langridge and
Gerhart. The latter still had his football togs on.

"Clinton, why did you tell Lighton I had been smoking?" asked Gerhart in
sharp tones.

"Tell him you had been smoking? Why, I didn't know you had been."

"Yes, you did. I saw you whispering to him, and then he came over and
called me down."

"You're mistaken."

"I am not! I saw you!"

Phil recollected that he had whispered to the coach. But he could not,
in decency, tell what it was about.

"I never mentioned your name to the coach," he said. "Nor did I speak of
smoking."

"I know better!" snapped Gerhart. "I saw you."

"I can only repeat that I did not."

"I say you did! You're a----"

Phil's face reddened. This insult, and from a freshman, was more than he
could bear. He sprang at Gerhart with clenched fists, and would have
knocked him down, only Tom clasped his friend's arm.

"Not here! Not here!" he pleaded. "You can't fight here, Phil!"

"Somewhere else, then!" exclaimed Phil. "He shan't insult me like that!"

"Of course not," spoke Tom soothingly, for he, too, resented the words
and manner of the freshman. "Langridge, I'll see you about this later
if you're agreeable," he added significantly, "and will act for your
friend."

"Of course," said Tom's former rival easily. "I guess my friend is
willing," and then the two cronies strolled off.



CHAPTER VI

PROFESSOR TINES OBJECTS


"Are you going to fight him?" asked Langridge of Gerhart, when they were
beyond the hearing of Tom and Phil.

"Of course! I owe him something for being instrumental in getting me put
out of the game."

"Are you sure he did?"

"Certainly. Didn't I see him sneak up to Lighton and put him wise to the
fact that I'd taken a few whiffs? I only smoked half a cigarette in the
dressing-room, but Clinton must have spied on me."

"That's what Parsons did on me, last term, and I got dumped for it.
There isn't much to this athletic business, anyway. I don't see why you
go in for it."

"Well, I do, but I'm not going to stand for Clinton butting in the way
he did. I wish he had come at me. You'd seen the prettiest fight you
ever witnessed."

"I don't doubt it," spoke Langridge dryly.

"What do you mean?" asked his crony, struck by some hidden meaning in
the words.

"I mean that Clinton would just about have wiped up the field with you."

"I'll lay you ten to one he wouldn't! I've taken boxing lessons from a
professional," and Gerhart seemed to swell up.

"Pooh! That's nothing," declared Langridge. "Phil Clinton has boxed with
professionals, and beaten them, too. We had a little friendly mill here
last term. It was on the quiet, so don't say anything about it. Phil
went up against a heavy hitter and knocked him out in four rounds."

"He did?" and Gerhart spoke in a curiously quiet voice.

"Sure thing. I just mention this to show that you won't have a very easy
thing of it."

There was silence between the two for several seconds. Then Gerhart
asked:

"Do you think he wants me to apologize?"

"Would you?" asked his chum, and he looked sharply at him.

"Well, I'm not a fool. If he's as good as you say he is, there's no use
in me having my face smashed just for fun. I think he gave me away, and
nothing he can say will change it. Only I don't mind saying to him that
I was mistaken."

"I think you're sensible there," was Langridge's comment. "It would be
a one-sided fight. Shall I tell him you apologize?"

"Have you got to make it as bald as that? Can't you say I was mistaken?"

"I don't know. I'll try. Clinton is one of those fellows who don't
believe in half-measures. You leave it to me. I'll fix it up. I don't
want to see you knocked out so early in the term. Besides--well, never
mind now."

"What is it?" asked Gerhart quickly.

"Well, I was going to say we'd get square on him some other way."

"That's what we will!" came eagerly from the deposed quarter-back. "I
counted on playing football this term, and he's to blame if I can't."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," came from Langridge. "I never knew
Clinton to lie. Maybe what he says is true."

"I don't believe it. I think he informed on me, and I always will. Do
you think there's a chance for me to get back?"

"No. Lighton is too strict. It's all up with you."

"Then I'll have my revenge on Phil Clinton, that's all."

"And I'll help you," added Langridge eagerly. "I haven't any use for him
and his crowd. He pushed me down stairs the other day, and I owe him
one for that. We'll work together against him. What do you say?"

"It's a go!" and they shook hands over the mean bargain.

"Then you'll fix it up with him?" asked Gerhart after a pause.

"Yes, leave it to me."

So that is how it was, that, a couple of hours later, Tom and Phil
received a call from Langridge. He seemed quite at his ease, in spite of
the feeling that existed between himself and the two chums.

"I suppose you know what I've come for," he said easily.

"We can guess," spoke Tom. "Take a seat," and he motioned to the old
sofa.

"No, thanks--not on that. It looks as if it would collapse. I don't see
why you fellows have such beastly furniture. It's frowsy."

"We value it for the associations," said Phil simply. "If you don't like
it----"

"Oh, it's all right, if you care for it. Every one to his notion, as the
poet says. But I came on my friend Gerhart's account. He says he was
mistaken about you, Clinton."

"Does that mean he apologizes?" asked Phil stiffly.

"Of course, you old fire-eater," said Langridge, lighting a cigarette.
"Is it satisfactory?"

"Yes; but tell him to be more careful in the future."

"Oh, I guess he will be. He's heard of your reputation," and Langridge
blew a ring of smoke toward the ceiling.

"I'll take him on, if he thinks Phil is too much for him," said Tom with
a laugh.

"No, thanks; he's satisfied, but it's hard lines that he can't play,"
observed the bearer of the apology.

"That's not my fault," said Phil.

"No, I suppose not. Well, I'll be going," and, having filled the room
with particularly pungent smoke, Langridge took his departure. If Tom
and Phil could have seen him in the hall, a moment later, they would
have observed him shaking his fist at the closed door.

"Whew!" cried Tom. "Open a window, Phil. It smells as if the place had
been disinfected!"

"Worse! I wonder what sort of dope they put in those cigarettes? I like
a good pipe or a cigar, but I'm blessed if I can go those coffin nails!
Ah, that air smells good," and he breathed in deep of the September air
at the window.

Thus it was that there came about no fight between Phil and the "sporty
freshman," as he began to be called. There was some disappointment,
among the students who liked a "mill," but as there were sure to be
fights later in the term, they consoled themselves.

Meanwhile, the football practice went on. Candidates were being weeded
out, and many were dropped. Gerhart made an unsuccessful attempt to
regain his place at quarter, but the coach was firm; and though
Langridge used all his influence, which was not small, it had no effect.
Gerhart would not be allowed to play on the 'varsity (which was the goal
of every candidate), though he was allowed to line up with the scrub.

"But I'll get even with Clinton for this," he said more than once to his
crony, who eagerly assented.

Phil, meanwhile, was clinching his position at quarter, and was fast
developing into a "rattling good player," as Holly Cross said. Tom was
not quite sure of his place at end, though he was improving, and ran
mile after mile to better his wind and speed.

"You're coming on," said Coach Lighton enthusiastically. "I think you'll
do, Tom. Keep it up."

There had been particularly hard practice one afternoon, and word went
down the line for some kicking. The backs fell to it with vigor, and the
pigskin was "booted" all over the field.

"Now for a good try at goal!" called the coach, as the ball was passed
to Holly Cross, who was playing at full-back. He drew back his foot,
and his shoe made quite a dent in the side of the ball. But, as often
occurs, the kick was not a success. The spheroid went to the side,
sailing low, and out of bounds.

As it happened, Professor Emerson Tines, who had been dubbed "Pitchfork"
the very first time the students heard his name, was crossing the field
at that moment. He was looking at a book of Greek, and paying little
attention to whither his steps led. The ball was coming with terrific
speed directly at his back.

"Look out, professor!" yelled a score of voices.

Mr. Tines did look, but not in the right direction. He merely gazed
ahead, and seeing nothing, and being totally oblivious to the football
practice, he resumed his reading.

The next moment, with considerable speed, the pigskin struck him full in
the back. It caught him just as he had lifted one foot to avoid a stone,
and his balance was none too good. Down he went in a heap, his book
flying off on a tangent.

[Illustration: "The pigskin struck him full in the back"]

"Wow!" exclaimed Holly Cross, who had been the innocent cause of the
downfall. "I'll be in for it now."

"Keep mum, everybody, as to who did it," proposed Phil. "The whole crowd
will shoulder the blame."

The players started on the run toward the professor, who still reclined
in a sprawling attitude on the ground. He was the least liked of all
the faculty, yet the lads could do no less than go to his assistance.

"Maybe he's hurt," said Tom.

"He's too tough for that," was the opinion of Bricktop.

Before the crowd of players reached the prostrate teacher he had arisen.
His face was first red and then pale by turns, so great was his rage. He
looked at the dirt on his clothes, and then at his book, lying face
downward some distance away.

"Young gentlemen!" he cried in his sternest voice. "Young gentlemen, I
object to this! Most emphatically do I object! You have gone entirely
too far! It is disgraceful! You shall hear further of this! You may all
report to me in half an hour in my room! I most seriously object! It is
disgraceful that such conduct should be allowed at any college! I shall
speak to Dr. Churchill and enter a most strenuous objection! The idea!"

He replaced his glasses, which had fallen off, and accepted his book
that Tom picked up.

"Don't forget," he added severely. "I shall expect you all to report to
me in half an hour."

At that moment Dr. Albertus Churchill, the aged and dignified head of
the college, and Mr. Andrew Zane, a proctor, came strolling along.

"Ah! I shall report your disgraceful conduct to Dr. Churchill at once,"
added Professor Tines, as he walked toward the venerable, white-haired
doctor. "I shall enter my strongest objection to the continuance of
football here."

There were blank looks on the faces of the players.



CHAPTER VII

THE FIRST LINE-UP


Evidently Dr. Churchill surmised that something unusual had occurred,
for he changed his slow pace to a faster gait as he approached the
football squad, in front of which stood Professor Tines, traces of anger
still on his unpleasant face.

"Ah, young gentlemen, at football practice, I see," remarked the doctor,
smiling. "I trust there is the prospect of a good team, Mr. Lighton. I
was very well pleased with the manner in which the baseball nine
acquitted itself, and I trust that at the more strenuous sport the
colors of Randall will not be trailed in the dust."

"Not if I can help it, sir; nor the boys, either," replied the coach.

"That's right," added Captain Holly Cross.

"I see you also take an interest in the sport," went on Dr. Churchill
to Professor Tines. "I am glad the members of the faculty lend their
presence to sports. Nothing is so ennobling----"

"Sir," cried Professor Tines, unable to contain himself any longer, "I
have been grossly insulted to-day. I wish to enter a most emphatic
protest against the continuance of football at this college. But a
moment ago, as I was crossing the field, reading this Greek volume, I
was knocked over by the ball. I now formally demand that football be
abolished."

Dr. Churchill looked surprised.

"I want the guilty one punished," went on Professor Tines. "Who kicked
that ball at me?"

"Yes, young gentlemen, who did it?" repeated the proctor, for he thought
it was time for him to take a hand. "I demand to know!"

"It wasn't any one in particular, sir," answered Coach Lighton,
determined to defend his lads. "It was done on a new play we were
trying, and it would be hard to say----"

"I think perhaps I had better investigate," said Dr. Churchill. "Young
gentlemen, kindly report at my study in half an hour."

"If you please, sir," spoke Phil Clinton, "Professor Tines asked us to
call and see him."

"Ah, I did not know that. Then I waive my right----"

"No, I waive mine," interrupted the Latin teacher, and he smoothed out
some of the pages in the Greek book.

"Perhaps we had better have them all up to my office," proposed the
proctor. "It is larger."

"A good idea," said the president of Randall. "Gentlemen, you may
report to the proctor in half an hour. I like to see the students
indulge in sports, but when it comes to such rough play that the life of
one of my teachers is endangered, it is time to call a halt."

"His life wasn't in any danger," murmured Tom.

"Hush!" whispered the coach. "Leave it to me, and it will come out all
right."

"But if they abolish football!" exclaimed Phil. "That will be too much!
We'll revolt!"

"They'll not abolish it. I'll make some explanation."

Dr. Churchill, Professor Tines, and the proctor moved away, leaving a
very disconsolate group of football candidates on the gridiron.

"Do you suppose Pitchfork will prevail upon Moses to make us stop the
game?" asked Jerry Jackson. "Moses," as has been explained, being the
students' designation of Dr. Churchill.

"We'll get up a counter protest to Pitchfork's if they do," added his
brother, Joe Jackson.

"Hurrah for the Jersey twins!" exclaimed Tom. The two brothers, who
looked so much alike that it was difficult to distinguish them, were
from the "Garden State," and thus had gained their nickname.

"Well, that sure was an unlucky kick of mine," came from Holly Cross
sorrowfully.

"Nonsense! You're not to blame," said Kindlings Woodhouse. "It might
have happened to any of us. We'll all hang together."

"Or else we'll hang separately, as one of the gifted signers of the
Fourth of July proclamation put it," added Ed Kerr. "Well, let's go take
our medicine like little soldiers."

In somewhat dubious silence they filed up to the proctor's office. It
was an unusual sight to see the entire football squad thus in parade,
and scores of students came from their rooms to look on.

Dr. Churchill and Professor Tines were on hand to conduct the
investigation. The latter stated his case at some length, and reiterated
his demand that football be abolished. In support of his contention he
quoted statistics to show how dangerous the game was, how many had been
killed at it, and how often innocent spectators, like himself, were
sometimes hurt, though, he added, he would never willingly be a witness
of such a brutal sport.

"Well, young gentlemen, what have you to say for yourselves?" asked Dr.
Churchill, and Tom thought he could detect a twinkle in the president's
eye.

Then Coach Lighton, who was a wise young man, began a defense. He told
what a fine game football was, how it brought out all that was best in a
lad, and how sorry the entire squad was that any indignity had been put
upon Professor Tines. He was held in high esteem by all the students,
Mr. Lighton said, which was true enough, though esteem and regard are
very different.

Finally the coach, without having hinted in the least who had kicked the
ball that knocked the professor down, offered, on behalf of the team, to
present a written apology, signed by every member of the squad.

"I'm sure nothing can be more fair than that," declared Dr. Churchill.
"I admit that I should be sorry to see football abolished here,
Professor Tines."

Professor Tines had gained his point, however, and was satisfied. He had
made himself very important, and had, as he supposed, vindicated his
dignity. The apology was then and there drawn up by the proctor, and
signed by the students.

"I must ask for one stipulation," said the still indignant instructor.
"I must insist that, hereafter, when I, or any other member of the
faculty approaches, all indiscriminate knocking or kicking of balls
cease until we have passed on. In this way all danger will be avoided."

"We agree to that," said Mr. Lighton quickly, and the incident was
considered closed. But Professor Tines, if he had only known it, was the
most disliked instructor in college from then on. He had been hated
before, but now the venom was bitter against him.

"We're well out of that," remarked Tom to Phil, as they went to their
room, having gotten rid of their football togs. "I wonder what fun
Pitchfork has in life, anyhow?"

"Reading Latin and Greek, I guess. That reminds me, I must bone away a
bit myself to-night. I guess Sid is in," he added, as he heard some one
moving about in the room.

They entered to find their chum standing on a chair, reaching up to one
of the silken banners Tom had hung with such pride.

"Here, you old anchorite! What are you doing?" cried Phil.

"Why, I'm trying to make this room look decent," said Sid. "You've got
it so cluttered up that I can't stand it! Isn't it enough to have
pictures stuck all over?"

"Here, you let that banner alone!" cried Tom, and he gave such a jerk to
the chair on which Sid was standing that the objector to things artistic
toppled to the floor with a resounding crash.

"I'll punch your head!" he cried to Tom, who promptly ensconced himself
behind the bed.

"Hurt yourself?" asked Phil innocently. "If you did it's a judgment on
you, misogynist that you are."

"You dry up!" growled Sid, as he rubbed his shins.

Then, peace having finally been restored, they all began studying,
while waiting for the summons to supper. When the bell rang, Phil and
Tom made a mad rush for the dining-room.

"Football practice gives you a fine appetite," observed Phil.

"I didn't know you fellows needed any inducement to make you eat," spoke
Sid.

"Neither we do," said Tom. "But come on, Phil, if he gets there first
there'll be little left for us, in spite of his gentle words."

"We'll have harder work at practice to-morrow," continued Phil as they
sat down at the table. "It will be the first real line-up, and I'm
anxious to see how I'll do against Shipman."

"He's got Gerhart's place for good, has he?" asked Tom.

"It looks so. Pass the butter, will you? Do you want it all?"

"Not in the least, bright-eyes. Here; have a prune."

"Say, you fellows make me tired," observed Sid.

"What's the matter with you lately, old chap?" asked Tom. "You're as
grumpy as a bear with a sore nose. Has your girl gone back on you?"

"There you go again!" burst out Sid. "Always talking about girls! I
declare, since those pictures and things are up in the room, you two
have gone daffy! I'll have 'em all down, first thing you know."

"If you do, we'll chuck you in the river," promised Phil.

Thus, amid much good-natured banter, though to an outsider it might not
sound so, the supper went on. There was more hazing that night, in which
Phil and Tom had a share, but Sid would not come out, saying he had to
study.

"Come on, Tom," called Phil the next afternoon, "all out for the first
real line-up of the season. I'm going to run the 'varsity against the
scrub, and I want to see how I make out."

"Has the 'varsity eleven all been picked out?" asked Tom anxiously.

"Practically so, though, of course, there will be changes."

"I wonder if I----"

"You're to go at left-end. Come on, and we'll get our togs on."

After a little preliminary practice the two teams were told to line-up
for a short game of fifteen-minute halves. Coach Lighton named those who
were to constitute a provisional 'varsity eleven, and, to his delight,
Tom's name was among the first named. Phil went to quarter, naturally,
and several of Tom's chums found themselves playing with him.

"Now try for quick, snappy work from the start," was the advice of the
coach. "Play as though you meant something, not as if you were going on
a fishing trip, and it didn't matter when you got there."

The ball was put into play. The 'varsity had it, and under the guidance
of Phil Clinton, who gave his signals rapidly, the scrub was fairly
pushed up the field, and a little later the 'varsity had scored a
touchdown. Goal was kicked, and then the lads were ready for another
tussle.

The scrub, by dint of extraordinary hard work, managed to keep the ball
for a considerable time, making the necessary gains by rushes.

"We must hold 'em, fellows!" pleaded Phil, and Captain Holly Cross added
his request to that end, in no uncertain words.

Shipman, the scrub quarter, passed the pigskin to his right half-back,
and the latter hit the line hard. Phil Clinton, seeing an opening, dove
in for a tackle. In some way there was a fumble, and Phil got the ball.
The next instant Jerry Jackson, who was on the 'varsity, slipped and
fell heavily on Phil's right shoulder. The plucky quarter-back stifled a
groan that came to his lips, and then, turning over on his back,
stretched out white and still on the ground.

"Phil's hurt!" cried Holly Cross. "Hold on, fellows!"

Tom bent over his chum. He felt of his shoulder.

"It's dislocated," he said. "We'd better get the doctor for him,
Holly."



CHAPTER VIII

LANGRIDGE AND GERHART PLOT


"Some of you fellows run for Dr. Marshall!" called Mr. Lighton to the
throng that gathered about the prostrate lad.

"I'll go," volunteered Joe Jackson.

"No, let me," said his twin brother. "It was my fault. I slipped and
fell on him."

"It wasn't any fellow's fault in particular," declared the captain. "It
was likely to happen to any one. But suppose you twins both go, and then
we'll be sure to have help. If Dr. Marshall isn't in the college,
telephone to Haddonfield for one. Phil's shoulder must be snapped back
into place."

As the twins started off Phil opened his eyes.

"Hurt much, old chap?" asked Tom, holding his chum's hand.

"No--not--not much," but Phil gritted his teeth as he said it. His
shoulder, with the bunch of padding on it, stood out oddly from the rest
of his body.

"Put some coats under him," ordered the coach. "Shall we carry you
inside, Phil?"

"No; don't move me. Is my arm broken?"

"No; only a dislocation, I guess. You'll be all right in a few days."

"Soon enough to play against Boxer Hall, I hope," said Phil with a faint
smile.

"Of course," declared the coach heartily. "We'll delay the game if
necessary."

"Here comes Dr. Marshall," called Ed Kerr, as the college physician was
seen hurrying across the campus, with the Jersey twins trailing along
behind.

The doctor, after a brief examination, pronounced it a bad dislocation,
but then and there, with the help of the captain and coach, he reduced
it, though the pain, as the bone snapped into place, made Phil sick and
faint. Then they helped him to his room, where he was soon visited by
scores of students, for the quarter-back was a general favorite.

"Now I think I will have to establish a quarantine," declared Dr.
Marshall, when about fifty lads had been in to see how the patient was
progressing. "I don't want you to get a fever from excitement, Clinton.
If you expect to get into the game again inside of two weeks, you must
keep quiet."

"Two weeks!" cried Phil. "If I have to stay out as long as that I'll be
so out of form that I'll be no good."

"Well, we'll see how the ligaments get along," was all the satisfaction
the doctor would give the sufferer.

Tom and Sid remained with their chum, and, after the physician had left,
they made all sorts of insane propositions to Phil with a view of making
him more comfortable.

"Shall I read Greek to you?" offered Sid. "Maybe it would take your mind
off your trouble."

"Greek nothing," replied Phil with a smile. "Haven't I troubles enough
without that?"

"If I had some cheese I would make a Welsh rarebit," Tom said. "I used
to be quite handy at it; not the stringy kind, either."

"Get out, you old rounder!" exclaimed Sid. "Welsh rarebit would be a
fine thing for an invalid, wouldn't it?"

"Well, maybe fried oysters would be better," admitted Tom dubiously. "I
could smuggle some in the room, only the measly things drip so, and
Proc. Zane has been unusually active of late in sending his scouts
around."

"I'll tell you what you can do, if you want to," spoke Phil.

"What's that?" asked Tom eagerly.

"Send word to my sister, over at Fairview. She may hear something about
this, and imagine it's worse than it is. I'd like her to get it
straight. I got a letter from dad to-day, too, saying mother was a
little better. I'd like sis to read it."

"I'll go myself, and start right away!" exclaimed Tom enthusiastically.
"I can get permission easily enough, for I've been doing good work in
class lately. I'll come back on the midnight trolley."

"You're awfully anxious to go, aren't you?" asked Sid.

"Of course," replied Tom. "Why do you speak so?"

"I believe Miss Madge Tyler attends at Fairview," went on Sid to no one
in particular, and there was a mocking smile on his face.

"Oh, you just wait!" cried Tom, shaking his fist at his chum, who sank
down into the depths of the old easy chair, and held up his feet as
fenders to keep the indignant one at a distance. "You'll get yours good
and proper some day."

"Well, if you're going, you'd better start," said Phil. "I forgot,
though. You've never met my sister. That's a go!"

"Can't you give me a note to her?" asked Tom, who was fertile in
expedients where young ladies were concerned.

"I guess so. Lucky it's my left instead of my right shoulder that's out
of business. Give me some paper, Sid."

"Tom doesn't need a note," was the opinion of the amateur woman-hater.
"He'll see Miss Tyler, and she'll introduce him."

"That's so," agreed Tom, as if he had just thought of it. "That will do
first rate. Never mind the note, Phil," and he hurried off, lest
something might occur that would prevent his visit.

He readily obtained permission to go to Fairview Institute, and was soon
hurrying along the river road to catch a trolley car. As he crossed a
bridge over the stream, he heard voices on the farther end. It was dusk,
now, and he could not see who the speakers were. But he heard this
conversation:

"Did you hear about Clinton?"

"Yes; he's laid up with a bad shoulder. Well, it may be just the chance
we want."

"That's odd," thought Tom. "I wonder who they can be? Evidently college
fellows. Yet how can Phil's injury give them the chance they want?"

He kept on, and a moment later came in sight of the speakers. He saw
that they were Fred Langridge and Garvey Gerhart.

"Good evening," said Tom civily enough, for, though he and Langridge
were not on the best of terms, they still spoke.

"Off on a lark?" asked the former pitcher with a sneer. "I thought you
athletic chaps didn't do any dissipating."

"I'm not going to," said Tom shortly, as he passed on.

"Do you suppose he heard what we said?" asked Gerhart, as the shadows
swallowed up Tom.

"No; but it doesn't make much difference. He wouldn't understand. Now,
do you think you can do it?"

"Of course. What I want to do is to keep him laid up for several weeks.
That will give me an opportunity of getting back on the eleven. He was
responsible for me being dropped, and now it's my turn."

"But are you sure it will work?"

"Of course. I know just how to make the stuff. A fellow told me. If we
can substitute it for his regular liniment it will do the trick all
right."

"That part will be easy enough. I can think up a scheme for that. But
will it do him any permanent harm? I shouldn't want to get into
trouble."

"No, it won't harm him any. It will make him so he can't use his arm for
a while, but that's what we want. The effects will pass away in about a
month, just too late to let him get on the eleven."

"All right; if you know what you're doing, I'll help. Now then, where
will we get the stuff?"

"I know all about that part. But let's get off this bridge. It's too
public. Come to a quieter place, where we can talk."

"I know a good place. There's a quiet little joint in town, where we can
get a glass of beer."

"Will it be safe?"

"Sure. Come on," and Langridge and his crony disappeared in the
darkness, talking, meanwhile, of a dastardly plot they had evolved to
disable Phil Clinton.

Tom kept on his way to the trolley.

"I wonder what Langridge and Gerhart meant?" he thought as he quickened
his pace on hearing an approaching car. "Perhaps Gerhart thought he had
a chance to get back on the team, because Phil is laid up. But I don't
believe he has."

But Tom's interpretation of the words he had heard was far from the
truth. Phil Clinton was in grave danger.



CHAPTER IX

SOME GIRLS


Tom thought the fifteen-mile trolley ride to Fairview was an unusually
long one, but, as a matter of fact, it was soon accomplished, for he
caught an express, and about eight o'clock that night arrived in the
town where the co-educational institution was located.

"Now to find Phil's sister," he said half aloud, as he headed for the
college. He knew the way well, for he had been there several times
before in the previous spring, when his team played baseball.

"Hello, Parsons," a voice greeted him as he was walking up the campus.
"Where you bound for?"

The speaker was Frank Sullivan, manager of the Fairview ball team.

"Oh, I just came over to see what sort of a football eleven you were
going to stack up against us this fall," answered Tom easily.

"Not very good, I'm afraid," declared Frank. "We're in pretty bad shape.
Several of our best men have been hurt in practice."

"We've got a few cripples ourselves," said Tom. "Phil Clinton just got
laid up with a bad shoulder."

"Our half-back is a wreck," added Frank.

It is curious, but true, nevertheless, that most football elevens seem
to rejoice in the number of cripples they can boast of. The worse the
men are "banged up," the better those interested in the team seem to
be. It may be that they wish to conceal from other teams their real
condition, and so give the enemy a false idea of their strength. However
that may be, the fact remains.

"So you came over to see how we were doing, eh?" went on Frank. "Well,
not very good, I'm afraid. We expect to be the tailenders this season,"
which was not at all what Frank expected, however, nor did his friends.
But he considered it policy to say so.

"I didn't come over for that alone," said Tom. "I have a message to
Phil's sister. Say, how do you get into the female department of this
shebang, anyhow? What's the proper method of procedure? Do I have to
have the password and a countersign?"

"Pretty nearly. It's like the combination on a safe. The first thing you
will have to do is to go and interview Miss Philock."

"Who's she?"

"The preceptress; and a regular ogress into the bargain. If you pass
muster with her first inspection, you'll have to answer a lot of
categorical questions covering your whole life history. Then, maybe,
she'll consent to take a note from you to the fair damsel."

"Can't I see her?" asked Tom in some dismay, for he had counted on
meeting Madge Tyler.

"See a girl student of Fairview after dark? Why, the idea is
preposterous, my dear sir! Perfectly scandalous!" and Frank gave a fair
imitation of an indignant lady teacher.

"Well, I'll have to send word in," decided Tom, "for I didn't bring a
note."

"Do you know her personally?" asked Frank.

"Who--Miss Philock or Phil's sister?"

"Phil's sister?"

"No, I don't."

"Worse and more of it. I wish you joy of your job. But I'm off. There's
going to be some hazing, and I'm on the committee to provide some extra
tortures for the freshies. So long. Miss Philock has her den in that red
building on your left," and, whistling a merry air, which was utterly
out of keeping with Tom's spirits, Frank Sullivan walked away.

"Well, here goes," said Tom to himself, as he walked up to the residence
of the preceptress and rang the bell.

An elderly servant answered his summons, and looked very much surprised
at observing a good-looking youth standing on the steps. Tom asked to
see Miss Philock, and the servant, after shutting the door, and audibly
locking it, walked away.

"They must be terribly afraid of me," thought Tom, but further musings
were put to an end by the arrival of the preceptress herself.

"What do you want, young man?" she asked, and her voice sounded like
some file rasping and scraping.

"I wish to deliver a message to Miss Ruth Clinton," was Tom's answer.

"Who are you?"

"I am Thomas Parsons, of Randall College."

"Are you any relation to Miss Clinton?"

"No; but I room with her brother, and he was slightly hurt in football
practice to-day. He wanted me to tell her that it was nothing serious.
He also has a letter from his father, that he wished me to deliver."

Miss Philock fairly glared at Tom.

"That is a very ingenious and plausible answer," said the elderly lady
slowly. "I have had many excuses made to me by young gentlemen as
reasons for sending messages to young ladies under my care, but this one
is the most ingenious I have ever received."

"But it's true!" insisted Tom, who perceived that his story was not
believed.

"That's what they all say," was the calm answer of Miss Philock.

Tom was nonplused. He hardly knew what reply to make.

"You are evidently a stranger to our rules," went on Miss Philock. "You
must go away at once, or I shall notify the proctor," and she was about
to close the door.

"But," cried Tom desperately, "I have a message for Miss Ruth Clinton!"

"Are you a relative of hers?" again asked the preceptress coldly.

"No; not exactly," spoke Tom slowly.

"That's the way they all say it," she went on. "If you are not a
relative you can send her no message."

"But can't you tell her what I've told you?" asked the 'varsity pitcher.
"She may worry about her brother, and he wants her to have this letter
from her father."

"How do I know she has a brother?" asked Miss Philock sternly.

"I am telling you."

"Yes, I know," frigidly. "Other young men have called here to see the
young ladies under my charge, and they often pretend to be brothers and
cousins, when they were not."

"I am not pretending."

"I don't know whether you are or not, sir. It has been my experience
that you can never trust a young man. I shall have to bid you good
evening, though I do you the credit to state that your plan is a very
good one. Only, I am too sharp for you, young man. You can send no
message to Miss Clinton or any other young lady student under my
charge."

The door was almost shut. Tom was in despair. At that moment he caught
sight of a girlish figure in the hall behind the preceptress. It was
Madge Tyler.

"Oh, Madge--Miss Tyler!" he cried impulsively, "will you tell Miss
Clinton that her brother is not badly hurt. That is, in case she hears
any rumors. His shoulder is dislocated, but he's all right."

"Why, Mr. Parsons--Tom!" exclaimed the girl in surprise. "What brings
you here?"

"Young man, what do you mean by disobeying my orders in this manner?"
demanded Miss Philock, bristling with anger.

"You didn't tell me not to speak to Miss Tyler," said Tom slyly. And he
smiled mischievously.

"Miss Tyler--do you know her?"

"I am an old friend of hers," insisted Tom quickly, his confidence
coming back.

"Is this true, Miss Tyler?" asked the head instructress.

Madge was a bright girl, and a quick thinker. She at once understood
Tom's predicament, and resolved to help him out. Perhaps it was as much
on her own account as Ruth's--who knows? At any rate, she said:

"Why, Miss Philock, Tom Parsons and I have known each other ever since
we were children. He is a sort of distant relation of mine. Aren't you,
Tom?"

"Ye--yes, Madge," he almost stammered.

"His mother and my mother are second cousins," went on the girl, which
was true enough, though Tom had forgotten it. He did not stop to figure
out just what degree of kinship he bore to Madge. He was satisfied to
have it as it was. Miss Philock turned to Tom.

"If I had known this at first," she said, "I would have allowed you to
send a message to Miss Tyler at once. However strongly young gentlemen
may insist that they are related to my girls, I never believe them. But
if the statement is made by one of my pupils, I never doubt her. In view
of the fact that you have come some distance, you may step into the
parlor, and speak with Miss Tyler for ten minutes--no longer."

She opened the door wider. It was quite a different reception from what
Tom had expected, but he was glad enough to see Madge for even that
brief period. He followed her into the parlor, while Miss Philock passed
down the corridor.

"Oh, Tom, I'm so glad to see you!" exclaimed the girl, and she extended
both hands, which Tom held just as long as he decently could.

"And I'm glad to see you," he declared. "You're looking fine!"

"What's this about Ruth's brother?" she asked.

"It's true. He was hurt at football practice this afternoon, and he was
afraid she'd worry. I told him I'd bring a message to her, and also this
letter. It's from her father, about her mother. Will you give it to
her?"

"Of course. Isn't it too bad about her poor, dear mother? Ruth is such a
sweet girl. Have you ever met her?"

"I haven't had the pleasure."

"I wonder if I'd better introduce you to her," said Madge musingly. "She
is very fascinating, and--er--well----" She looked at Tom and laughed.

"Can you doubt me?" asked Tom, also laughing, and he bowed low, with his
hand on his heart.

"Oh, no! Men--especially young men--are never faithless!" she exclaimed
gaily.

"But how can you present me to her, when the 'ogress,' as I have heard
her called, bars the way?"

"Hush! She may hear you," cautioned Madge. "Oh, we have 'ways that are
dark and tricks that are vain,' I suppose Miss Philock would say. I'll
just send a message by wireless, and Ruth will soon be here. I think it
will be safe. Philly, as we call her, will be in her office by this
time."

Madge stepped to the steam pipes in the room, and with her pencil tapped
several times in a peculiar way.

"That's a code message to Ruth to come down here," she explained.

"It's a great system," complimented Tom. "How do you work it?"

"Oh, we have a code. Each girl has a number, and we just tap that number
on the pipes. You know, you can hear a tap all over the building. Then,
after giving the number, we rap out the message, also by numbers. We
just _had_ to invent it. You boys have ever so many things that we girls
can't, you know. Now tell me all about football. I suppose you will
play?"

"I hope to."

"And Phil--I mean Mr. Clinton, but I call him Phil, because I hear Ruth
speak of him so often--I think he plays half-back, doesn't he?"

"No; quarter," answered Tom.

"I hope to meet him soon," went on Madge. "Ruth has promised---- Oh,
here she is now," she interrupted herself to say. "Come in, Ruth, dear.
Here is a sort of forty-second cousin of mine, with a message about your
brother."

Tom looked up, to see a tall, dark, handsome girl entering the room.
Behind her came a rather stout, light-haired maiden, with laughing blue
eyes.

"A message from my brother!" exclaimed Ruth, and she looked at Tom in a
manner that made his heart beat rather faster than usual.

"Yes, Ruth," went on Madge; "but nothing serious. I'm glad you came
down, too, Sarah, dear. I want you to meet my cousin."

"I brought Sarah because I was afraid I didn't get your pipe message
just right," explained Ruth. "Did you mean you had company you wanted to
share with me, or that there was a letter for me? I couldn't find the
code book."

"It's both," declared Madge with a laugh. "But first let's get the
introductions over with," and she presented Tom to Ruth, and then to
Miss Sarah Warden, her roommate, as well as Ruth's.

"Phil has often spoken to me about you, Miss Clinton," said Tom. "In
fact, he has your picture in our room. It doesn't look like you--I mean
it doesn't do you justice--that is--er--I--I mean----"

"Better stop, Tom," cautioned Madge. "Evidently Ruth has played havoc
with you already. You should study more carefully the art of making
compliments."

"Miss Clinton needs no compliments other than unspoken ones," said Tom,
with an elaborate bow.

"Oh, how prettily said!" exclaimed Miss Warden. "Madge, why didn't you
tell us about your cousin before?"

"It's time enough now," was Madge's rejoinder.

"But what about my brother?" asked Ruth anxiously.

Then Tom told her, and gave her the letter with which Phil had entrusted
him. The young people talked gaily for some minutes longer, and then
Madge, with a look at the clock, said that it was about time Miss
Philock would be back to see that Tom had not overstayed.

"What a short ten minutes!" he exclaimed, and he looked full in Ruth
Clinton's eyes.

"Wasn't it?" she agreed. "However, I hope you will come again--that
is--of course you can't come here, but perhaps we--I--er--that is----"
She stopped in confusion.

"You're almost as bad as Tom was!" declared Madge, and there was just a
little change from her former genial tones. She glanced critically at
Tom.

"I expect to come over again," replied Phil's chum. "And I hope I shall
see you then, Miss Clinton--see all of you, of course," he added
quickly.

"It depends on Miss Philock," said Miss Warden.

"Will you be at the Fairview-Randall football game?" asked Tom.

"Yes," answered Ruth, for he looked at her.

"I shall see you and Madge, then, I hope, only it's a long way off," and
Tom sighed just the least bit.

Madge raised her eyebrows. She might be pardoned for considering that
Tom, in a measure, was her personal property, and now, the first time he
had met Ruth, to hear him talk thus, was something of a shock.

But she was too proud to show more than a mere hint of her feelings, and
Ruth was, for the time being, entirely unaware that her friend was a bit
jealous.

"Here comes Philly!" exclaimed Sarah Warden, as steps were heard
approaching. "You had better go, Mr. Parsons, if you value your
reputation."

"Yes," spoke Madge; "better go, Tom. Sorry you couldn't stay longer."

"So am I," was his answer, and once more he looked straight at Ruth. He
had thought Madge very pretty, and, while he did not waver in the least
in still thinking her most attractive, he had to admit to himself that
Ruth's was of a different style of beauty.

"I'm sure I don't know how to thank you for taking the trouble to bring
me this message and letter," said Phil's sister, as she held out her
hand to Tom. He took it in a firm clasp.

"It was only a pleasure," he said. "Next time I hope to bring better
news."

"Then there is to be a next time?" she asked archly.

"Of course," he replied, and laughed.

"Hurry, Tom, or Miss Philock may order you out," urged Madge. "You've
overstayed your leave as it is, and she may punish us for it. Good-by,"
and she held out her hand. Tom clasped it, but a careful observer, with
a split-second watch, might have noted that he did not hold it quite as
long as he had held Ruth's.

A few minutes later Tom was out on the campus, walking toward the
trolley that would take him to Haddonfield. His brain was in something
of a whirl, and his heart was strangely light.

"My! but she's pretty!" he exclaimed half aloud. "What fine eyes!
I--I---- Oh, well, what's the use of talking to yourself?" And with that
sage reflection Tom pursued his silent way.

Back in the parlor the three girls stood for a moment.

"I like your cousin very much, Madge, dear," said Ruth.

"I shouldn't wonder!" exclaimed Madge shortly, and she turned and
hurried from the room.

Ruth looked at her in some surprise.

"Whatever has come over Madge?" asked Sarah Warden.

"I can't imagine," replied Ruth, and then, with a thoughtful look on her
face, she went to her room.

"Humph! I guess I know," murmured Miss Warden, as she followed.



CHAPTER X

A BOTTLE OF LINIMENT


Tom thought of many things as he walked up the silent campus at Randall,
and prepared to go to his room. He went over again every happening from
the time Miss Philock had grudgingly admitted him at Fairview, until he
had bidden Ruth Clinton good-by. Tom had a very distinct mental picture
of two girls' faces now, whereas, up to that evening, he had had but
one. They were the faces of Ruth and Madge.

"Hang it all!" he burst out, as he was on the steps of the west
dormitory. "I must be falling in love! This will never do, with the
football season about to open. Better cut it out, Tom Parsons!"

His musing was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a figure coming
quickly from the teachers' residence, which was directly in front of the
dormitory building. The figure exclaimed:

"Wait a minute, please."

"Proctor Zane!" whispered Tom to himself. "He thinks he's caught me.
Probably he doesn't know I've got a permit. I'll have some fun with
him."

A moment later the proctor stood beside Tom.

"Are you aware of the hour?" asked Mr. Zane, in what he meant to be a
sarcastic tone.

"I--I believe it's nearly two o'clock," replied Tom. "I will tell you
exactly in a moment, as soon as I look at my watch," and with a flourish
he drew his timepiece from his pocket. "It lacks just eight minutes of
two," he added.

"I didn't ask you the time!" exclaimed the proctor.

"I beg your pardon, sir; I thought you did," spoke Tom.

"Aren't you getting in rather late?" asked the official, as he drew out
his book and prepared to enter Tom's name.

"Well, it might be called late," admitted Tom, as if there was some
doubt about it. "That is, unless you choose to look at it from another
standpoint, and call it early morning. On the whole, I think I prefer
the latter method. It is more comforting, Mr. Zane."

"None of your impertinence, Parsons!" exclaimed the proctor. "You are
out after hours, and you will report to my office directly after chapel.
This matter of students staying out must be broken up."

"I agree with you," went on Tom easily, "but I'm afraid I can't report
to you after chapel to-morrow, or, rather, to-day, Mr. Zane."

"You can't? What do you mean, Parsons?"

"Why, you see, I have to attend a lecture by Moses--I beg your
pardon--Dr. Churchill--at that hour."

The proctor, as Tom could see in the light of the hall lamp, as the rays
streamed from the glass door of the dormitory, looked pained at the
appellation of "Moses" to the venerable head of the college. The boys
all called Dr. Churchill that among themselves, though they meant no
disrespect. They had evolved the title from his name; from the fact
that, as one of the first students put it, the original Moses went up on
a hill to establish the first church--hence Church--Hill; and thus
"Moses."

"I am sure Dr. Churchill will excuse you when he knows the circumstances,
Parsons," went on the proctor with a malicious smile. "You will report to
me for being out after hours without permission."

"Oh, but I have permission," spoke Tom, as he drew out a note which the
president had given him. "I beg your pardon for not mentioning it
before. Very stupid of me, I'm sure," and this time it was Tom's turn to
grin.

The proctor looked at the permit, saw that it was in regular form, and
knew that he was beaten. Without a word he turned and went back to his
apartments, but the look he gave Tom augured no good to the talented
pitcher. Tom went to his room, chuckling to himself.

"Well?" asked Phil, who was not asleep when Tom entered. "Did you see
Ruth?"

"Yes, old chap. It's all right," and Tom told something of his
visit--that is, as much as he thought Phil would care to know. "Your
sister and Miss Tyler are both sorry you were laid up," he went on.

"I guess I'll be out inside of a week," said Phil. "The doc was here a
while ago, and left some new liniment that he said would soften up the
strained muscles and ligaments. I tried some, and I feel better already.
Say, put that blamed alarm clock out in the hall, will you? I can't
sleep with the ticking of it."

Tom did so, and then undressed. He turned the light down low, and, as he
put on his pajamas, he knew, by the regular breathing of Phil, that the
injured lad had fallen into a slumber. Sid, too, was sound asleep. Tom
sat down on the old sofa, sinking far down into the depths of the weak
springs. It creaked like an old man uttering his protest against
rheumatic joints, and, in spite of the new leg Phil had put on and the
strengthening boards, it threatened to collapse. Tom sat there in the
half darkness dreaming--reflecting of his visit to Fairview. He imagined
he could see, in the gloom of a distant corner, a fair face--which one
was it?

"Oh, I've got to cut this out," he remarked, and then he extinguished
the light and got into bed.

The next day was Saturday, and as several of the football squad were a
little lame, Coach Lighton only put them through light practice. Thus
the absence of Phil was not felt. He was much better, the new liniment
working like a charm.

One afternoon, a few days later, Tom and Sid went for a walk, Tom as a
matter of training, and Sid because he wanted to get some specimens for
use in his biology class. They strolled toward the town of Haddonfield,
and shortly after crossing the bridge over Sunny River, saw on the road
ahead of them two figures.

"There are Langridge and Gerhart," remarked Tom.

"Yes," spoke Sid. "They're quite chummy for a freshman and a sophomore.
Langridge tried to save Gerhart from being hazed, but the fellows
wouldn't stand for it."

"I should say not. He ought to take his medicine the same as the rest of
us had to. But look, they don't seem to want to meet us."

As Tom spoke, Langridge and his crony suddenly left the road and took to
the woods which lined the highway on either side.

"I wonder what they did that for?" went on Tom.

"Oh, I guess they don't like our style," was Sid's opinion. "We're not
sporty enough for them."

But it was not for this reason that Langridge and Gerhart did not want
to meet their two schoolmates.

"Lucky we saw them in time," observed Gerhart to the other, as he and
Langridge sneaked along. "They might have asked us why we had gone to
town."

"We shouldn't have told them. I guess they won't pay much attention to
us. Are you going to work the trick to-day?"

"To-night, if I have a chance. There's going to be a meeting of the glee
club, and Tom and Sid both will go. That will leave Phil alone in the
room, and I can get in and make the change."

"Be careful you're not caught. It's a risky thing to do."

"I know it, but it's worth the risk if I can get back on the team.
Besides, it won't hurt Clinton much."

"Well, it's your funeral, not mine. You've got to stand for it all. I
did my share helping plan it. You'll have to take the blame."

"I will. Don't worry."

"But what puzzles me is how Clinton can help knowing it when you change
the liniment. As soon as he uses it he'll see that something is wrong,
and he'll recall that you were in the room."

"Oh, no, he won't. You see, the two liquids are so nearly alike that
it's hard to tell the difference. Then, the beauty of it is that the one
I'm going to put in place of his regular liniment doesn't take effect
for twelve hours. So he'll never connect me with his trouble."

"All right. It's up to you. But come on, let's get out on the road
again. I don't fancy tramping through the woods."

They emerged at a point some distance back of Tom and Sid, who continued
their walk.

"Did I tell you I met Langridge and Gerhart the night I went to see
Phil's sister?" asked Tom after a pause.

"No. What were they doing?"

Tom related the conversation he had heard, and gave his speculations as
to what Gerhart could have meant.

"I guess he's counting on Phil being laid up so long that he can have
his place at quarter-back," was Sid's opinion, and Tom agreed.

The specimens of unfortunate frogs, to be used in biology, were stowed
away in a box Sid carried, and then he and Tom turned back to college.
That night they went to a rehearsal of the glee club.

"Do you mind staying alone, old chap?" asked Tom of Phil as they
prepared to depart.

"Not a bit. Glad to get rid of you. I can move about the room, doc says,
and it isn't so bad as it might be. I'll be glad to be alone, so I can
think."

"All right. So long, then."

It was quiet in the room after Tom and Sid had departed. Phil tried to
read, but he was too nervous, and took no interest in the book. It was
out of the question to study, and, as his shoulder ached, he went back
to bed again. He was in a half doze, when the door opened and Gerhart
entered the room.

"Hope I didn't disturb you, old chap," he began with easy
familiarity--entirely too easy, for a freshman, Phil thought with a
scowl. "Parsons and Henderson out?" asked Gerhart, as if he did not know
it.

"Yes, at the meeting of the glee club," answered Phil shortly.

"That's so. I'd forgotten. Well, here's a note for Parsons. Will you see
that he gets it?" And Gerhart walked over to the table and laid an
envelope down. There was a miscellaneous collection on the table. Among
other things was a bottle of liniment which the doctor had left for
Phil. "I'll just leave the note here," went on Gerhart. "That's a swell
picture over your bed," he said quickly, pointing to a sporting print
that hung over Phil's cot.

Naturally, the injured lad turned to see where Gerhart pointed.

"Oh, it will do very well," he answered. He rather resented this
familiarity on the part of a freshman. Still, as Gerhart had called to
leave a note for Tom, Phil could not order him out, as he felt like
doing. When Phil turned his head back toward the middle of the room the
visitor was standing near the door.

"I guess I'll be going," he said. "Hope you'll be out soon. I'm going to
make another try with Lighton, and see if he won't let me play."

"Um!" spoke Phil, as he turned over to doze.

Gerhart, with an ugly smile on his face, hurried to his room in the east
dormitory. Langridge was waiting for him there.

"Well?" asked the former pitcher.

"It's done!" exulted Gerhart, producing from beneath his coat a bottle
that had contained liniment. "I threw the stuff out, and now I'll get
rid of the bottle. I guess Phil Clinton won't play football any more
this season!" He put the bottle far back on a closet shelf.

"Why don't you throw that away?" asked Langridge.

"I may need it," answered Gerhart. "I'll save it for a while."



CHAPTER XI

IN WHICH SOME ONE BECOMES A VICTIM


When Sid and Tom, after glee club practice that night, were ascending
the stairs to their floor, Sid stumbled, about half way up the flight.
To save himself from a fall he put out his left hand, and came down
heavily on it. As he did so he uttered an exclamation of pain.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom.

"Gave my thumb a fierce wrench! It hurts like blazes! Why didn't you
tell me I was going to fall, and I'd have stayed in to-night?" he asked
half humorously.

"I'm not a prophet," replied Tom. "But come on to the room, and we'll
put some arnica on it. I've got some."

Holding his injured thumb tightly in his other hand, Sid finished
climbing the stairs, declaiming, meanwhile, against his bad luck.

"Oh, you're a regular old woman!" exclaimed Tom. "Pretty soon it'll be
so bad that if you see a black cat cross your path you won't go to
lectures."

"I wish I had a black cat to use when I'm due in Latin class," spoke
Sid. "Positively I get more and more rotten at that blamed stuff every
day! I need a black cat, or something. Wow! How my thumb hurts!"

"Get out!" cried Tom. "Many a time on first base I've seen you stop a
hot ball, and never say a word."

"That's different," declared his chum. "Hurry up and get out your
arnica."

"Say, you fellows make noise enough," grumbled Phil at the entrance of
his roommates. "What's the matter?"

"Oh, Sid tried to go upstairs on his hands, and he didn't make out very
well," replied Tom. "I've got two patients on my list now. How are you,
Phil?"

"Oh, so-so. Gerhart was here a while ago."

"He was? What did he want?"

"Left a note for you. It's on the table."

"Humph! Invitation to a little spread he's going to give. Didn't you
fellows get any?" spoke Tom as he read it.

"No; and I don't want one," from Phil.

"And I'm not going," declared Tom. "Gerhart is too much of a cad for
me."

"Insufferably so!" added Phil. "The little puppy gave himself such airs
in here that I wanted to kick him out. But I wasn't going to say
anything, for I thought you might be getting chummy with him, Tom,
seeing that he left the note for you."

"No, indeed. I don't know what his object is, nor why he should invite
me. He and Langridge are a pair, and they can stick together," and Tom
wadded up the invitation and threw it into the waste basket.

"Say, if you're going to get the arnica, I wish you'd get a move on,"
implored Sid, who was stretched out on the sofa. "This hurts me worse
than not knowing my Virgil when I'm called on in Pitchfork's class."

"Then it can't hurt very much," said Phil. "Let's see it."

Sid held out a hand, the thumb of which was beginning to swell.

"Why don't you use some of my liniment instead of arnica for it?"
proposed Phil. "It's just the stuff for a sprain. Here, pour some on
your hand," and Phil, whose left arm was in a sling, handed Sid the
bottle from the table. Sid poured a generous quantity on his thumb.

"Look out for the rug!" exclaimed Tom. "Do you want to spoil it?" for
the liniment was dripping from Sid's hand.

"Spoil it? Spoil this tattered and torn specimen of a fake oriental?"
queried Sid with a laugh. "Say, if we spread molasses on it the thing
couldn't look much worse than it does. I've a good notion to strike for
a new one."

"Don't," begged Phil. "We don't have to clean our feet when we come in
now, and if we had a new rug we'd feel obliged to."

"All right, have it your own way," remarked Tom. "But you've got enough
liniment on there for two thumbs. Here, give me the bottle, and rub
what's on your hand in where the swelling is."

Sid extended the bottle to Tom. Phil, who was holding the cork,
endeavored to insert it during the transfer. The result was a fumble,
the phial slipped from Sid's grasp, Tom made a grab for it, but missed,
and Phil, with only one good hand, could do nothing. The bottle crashed
to the floor and broke, the liniment running about in little rivulets
from a sort of central lake.

"Now you have done it!" exclaimed Tom.

"Who?" demanded Sid.

"You and Phil. Why didn't you let me do the doctoring? You two dopes
aren't able to look after yourselves! Look at the rug now!"

"It was as much your fault as ours," declared Sid. "Why didn't you grab
the bottle?"

"Why didn't you hand it to me? I like your nerve!"

"That's a nice spot on a rug," said Phil in disgust.

"It adds to the beauty," declared Sid. "It just matches the big grease
spot on the other side, which was left as a souvenir by the former
occupants of this study. They must have made a practice of dropping
bread and butter on the floor about eight nights a week. But say, if you
want to do something, Tom, rub this stuff into my thumb, will you?"

"Sure; wait until I pick up this broken glass. I don't want to cut my
feet on it, in case I should take to walking in my sleep."

He was soon vigorously massaging Sid's injured hand, using a piece of
flannel as directed by Phil, and was given a vote of thanks for the
professional manner in which he did it.

"I'm sorry about your liniment, Phil," said Tom. "It's all gone. The
only thing I see for you to do is to cut out that piece of the rug where
it has soaked in, and bind it on your shoulder."

"Oh, it doesn't matter. I won't need any more to-night, and to-morrow
I'll get some more from the doctor."

Sid was the first to awaken the next morning. A peculiar sensation about
his injured hand called his attention to it. He pulled it from under the
covers and glanced at it. Then he tried to bend the fingers. They were
as stiff as pieces of wood. So was the thumb. It was as if it had been
encased in a plaster cast.

"I say, you fellows!" called Sid in some alarm.

"What's the matter?" inquired Tom. "Don't you know it's Sunday, and we
can sleep as long as we like?"

"Look at my hand! Look at it!" exclaimed Sid tragically. "I can't use
it!"

Something in his tones made Tom get up. He strode over to the bed.

"Say, that is mighty queer," he remarked, as he tried to bend Sid's
fingers, and could not. "You must have given yourself a fearful knock."

"Or else that liniment wasn't the right thing for it," added Phil,
sitting up. "Better call the doc."



CHAPTER XII

THE FIRST GAME


The three chums looked at each other. Phil felt of Sid's curiously
stiffened hand.

"I don't see how it could be the liniment," he said. "I've used it right
along. It's the same thing doc gave me. You must have hurt your hand
worse than you thought."

"I guess I did," admitted Sid. So skilfully had Gerhart carried out his
dastardly plot that even his unusual visit to the room of the trio
attached no suspicion to him. The breaking of the bottle of liniment
destroyed one link in the chain against him, and it would be difficult
to trace anything to Gerhart now.

Dr. Marshall looked grave when he saw Sid's hand.

"That is very unusual," he said. "It must have been something you put on
it. The muscles and tendons have been stiffened. There is a drug which
will do that, but it is comparatively rare. It is sometimes used, in
connection with other things, to keep down swelling, but never to soften
a strain. Are you sure you used only the liniment I left for Clinton?"

"That's all," declared Tom.

"Let me see the bottle," said the physician, as he twirled his glasses
by their cord and looked puzzled.

"We can't; it's all gone," explained Phil, and he told of the accident.

"Humph! Very strange," mused Dr. Marshall. "I'm afraid you'll not be
able to use your hand for a month, Henderson. You have every indication
of having used the peculiar drug I speak of, yet you say you did not,
and I don't see how you could have, unless it got in the liniment by
mistake. And that it did not is proved by the fact that Clinton used the
same liniment without any ill effects. Only that Parsons used a rag to
rub with, his hand would be out of commission, too. It is very strange.
I wish there was some of the liquid left. I will see the druggist who
put it up. Possibly he can explain it."

"Well, I'm glad I didn't put any on my shoulder," said Phil. "It would
have been all up with me and football, then."

"It certainly would," admitted Dr. Marshall. "Let me look at your
dislocation."

"When can I get into the game again?" asked Phil anxiously, after the
inspection.

"Humph! Well, I think by the middle of the week. It is getting along
better than I expected. Yes, if you pad it well you may go into light
practice to-morrow, and play in a game the end of the week."

"Good!" cried Phil. "Then's when we tackle Fairview Institute for the
first game of the season!"

The next day a notice was posted on the bulletin board in the gymnasium,
stating that the 'varsity eleven would line up against the scrub that
afternoon in secret practice. Then followed a list of names of those
selected to play on the first team. It was as follows:

    _Left-end_               TOM PARSONS
    _Left-tackle_                ED KERR
    _Left-guard_              BOB MOLLOY
    _Center_                  SAM LOOPER
    _Right-guard_            PETE BACKUS
    _Right-tackle_     BILLY HOUSENLAGER
    _Right-end_              JOE JACKSON
    _Quarter-back_          PHIL CLINTON
    _Right half-back_      DAN WOODHOUSE
    _Left half-back_       JERRY JACKSON
    _Full-back_              HOLLY CROSS

"Hurrah, Tom! You're at left-end!" cried Phil, who, with his chum, was
reading the bulletin.

"I'm glad of it. Are you all right for practice?"

"Sure. Come on; let's get into our togs."

On the outer fringe of football players stood Langridge and Gerhart.
There was surprise on their faces at the sight of Phil getting ready to
play.

"Something went wrong," whispered Langridge to his crony. "Your scheme
didn't work."

"I see it didn't," admitted Gerhart with a scowl. "I wonder where the
slip was?"

But when he heard of the peculiar ailment from which Sid Henderson
suffered, Gerhart knew.

"I lost that chance," he said to Langridge, "but I may see another to
get square with Clinton, and, when I do, I'll not fail. It's too late,
maybe, for me to get in the game now, but I'll put him out of it, and
don't you forget it!"

Phil was a little stiff in practice, but he soon warmed up, and the
'varsity eleven played the scrub "all over the field."

"That's what I like to see," complimented the coach. "Now, boys, play
that way against Fairview on Saturday, and you'll open the season with
a victory. I want you to win. Then we'll have a better chance for the
championship. The schedule is different from the baseball one, you know.
We don't play so many games with Boxer Hall and Fairview as we did in
the spring, consequently each one counts more. Now I'm going to give
you some individual instruction."

Which the coach did very thoroughly, getting at the weak spots in each
man's playing, and commenting wisely on it, at the same time showing him
how he ought to play his position. There was practice in passing the
ball, falling on it, kicking and tackling.

"We want to do considerable work in the forward pass and the on-side
kick this season," the coach went on. "I think you are doing very well.
Parsons, don't forget to put all the speed you can into your runs, when
getting down on kicks.

"You Jersey twins don't want to be watching each other so. I know you
are fond of one another, but try to forget that you are brothers, and be
more lively in the game."

Jerry and Joe Jackson joined in the laugh that followed.

"As for you, Snail Looper," continued Coach Lighton, giving the center
the name he had earned from his habit of prowling about nights and
moving at slow speed, "you are doing fairly well, but be a little
quicker. Try to forget that you're a relative of the _Helix Mollusca_.
You backs, get into plays on the jump, and take advantage of the
momentum. That's the way to smash through the line. Now then, we'll try
signals again. Clinton, keep a cool head. Nothing is worse than getting
your signals mixed, and you fellows, if you don't understand exactly
what the play is, call for the signal to be repeated. That will save
costly fumbles. Now line up again."

They went through the remainder of the practice with a snap and vim that
did the heart of the coach and the captain good. The scrub team was
pretty well worn out when a halt was called.

"Do you think you will beat Fairview?" asked Ford Fenton of Tom a little
later, when the left-end and Phil were on their way to supper, after a
refreshing shower bath.

"I hope so, Ford. But you never can tell. Football is pretty much a
gamble."

"Yes, I suppose so. But my uncle says----"

"Say, are you going to keep that up this term?" demanded Phil wearily.
"If you are, I'm going to apply to the courts for an injunction against
you and your uncle."

"Well," continued Fenton with an injured air, "he was football coach
here for some time, and my uncle says----"

"There he goes again!" cried Tom. "Step on him, Phil!"

But Ford, with a reproachful look, turned aside.

"I don't see why there's such a prejudice against my uncle," he murmured
to himself. But there wasn't. It was against the manner in which the
nephew ceaselessly harped on what his relative said, though Ford was
never allowed to tell what it was.

The Randall eleven was fairly on edge when they indulged in light
practice Saturday morning, preparatory to leaving for Fairview, where
the first game of the season was to take place.

"Feel fit, Tom?" asked Sid, who had to carry his left hand in a sling.
Dr. Marshall had been unable to learn anything from the druggist that
put up the liniment, and the cause for the queer stiffness remained
undiscovered.

"As fit as a fiddle," replied the lad. "How about you, Phil?"

"I'm all to the Swiss cheese, as the poet had it. Is it about time to
start?"

"Nearly. We're going in a special trolley. Does your shoulder pain you
any?"

"Not a bit."

"I suppose--er--that is--er--your sister will be at the game?" ventured
Tom.

"Of course. She's as daffy about it as I am. If she had been a boy she'd
have played. Miss Tyler will be there, of course?" Phil questioned in
turn.

"I don't know--I suppose so," answered Tom. "Oh, of course. She and your
sister will probably go together."

"Yes, they're great chums. I wonder why I didn't get a letter from dad
to-day? He promised to write every night. I ought to have received one.
I'd like to know how my mother is."

"Well, no news is good news," quoted Tom. "Let's start. I get nervous
when I have to sit around."

There was a large crowd on the grandstand at the Fairview gridiron when
the Randall team arrived. The seats were rapidly filling up, and when, a
little later, the visiting eleven trotted out for practice, they were
received with a burst of cheers.

"What's the matter with Randall?" demanded Bean Perkins, who had been
christened "Shouter" from the foghorn quality of his tones. He generally
led the college cheering and singing. Back came the usual reply that
nothing whatever ailed Randall.

"There's a good bunch out," observed Tom to Phil as they passed the ball
back and forth. "Look at the girls! My, what a lot of them!"

"And all pretty, too," added Phil. "At least, I know one who is."

"Who?"

"Miss Tyler."

"I know another," spoke the left-end.

"Who's that?"

"Your sister. She's prettier than the photograph."

"You'd better tell her so."

"I did."

"Whew! It doesn't take you long to get down to business. But come on.
They're going to line up for practice," and the two ran over to join
their teammates.

What a mass of color the grandstands and bleachers presented! Mingled
with the youths and men were girls and women in bright dresses, waving
brighter-hued flags. There were pretty girls with long horns, tied with
streamers of one college or the other. There were more pretty girls with
long canes, from which flew ribbons of yellow and maroon--Randall's
colors. There were grave men who wore tiny footballs on their coat
lapels, a knot of ribbon denoting with which college they sided.

Massed in one stand were the cheering students of Randall, bent on
making themselves heard above the songs and yells of their rivals. Nor
were the girls of Fairview at all backward in giving vent to their
enthusiasm. They had songs and yells of their own, and, under the
leadership of Madge Tyler, were making themselves heard.

Tom, in catching a long kick, ran close to the stand where the Fairview
girls were massed. Madge was down in front, getting ready to lead them
in a song.

"Hello!" cried Tom to her, as he booted the pigskin back to Ed Kerr.

"Sorry I can't cheer for you this time!" called Madge brightly.

"Well, I'm sorry we will have to push the Fairview boys off the field,"
retorted Tom.

"Oh, are you going to do that?" asked a girl behind Madge, and Tom, who
had been vainly looking for her, saw Ruth Clinton.

"Sorry, but we have to," he replied. "Aren't you ashamed to cheer
against your own brother?"

"Oh, I guess Phil is able to look after himself," said Ruth. "Is his
shoulder all right, Mr. Parsons?"

"Doing nicely."

Just then the referee's whistle blew to summon the players from
practice.

"I'll see you after the game," called Tom, and as he glanced from Ruth
to Madge, he saw the latter regarding him rather curiously from her
brown eyes. With a queer feeling about the region where he imagined his
heart to be, he ran across the field.

"Remember--fast, snappy play!" was the last advice from Coach Lighton.
"You're going to win, boys. Don't forget that!"

From the stand where the Randall supporters were gathered came that
enthusing song--the song they always sang at a big game--"_Aut vincere
aut mori_"--"Either we conquer or we die!"

"Keep cool and smash through 'em," spoke Captain Cross to his players,
as the referee and other officials took their places.

It was Fairview's kick-off, and a moment later the ball came sailing
through the air. Holly Cross caught it, and, well protected by
interference, began to rush it back. But the Fairview players, by
amazing good play, managed to get through, and Holly was downed after a
run back of twenty yards.

"Now, boys, all together!" called Phil, as he eagerly got into place
behind big Snail Looper, who was bending over the ball. Then the
quarter-back rattled off a string of signals for Jerry Jackson, the left
half-back, to take the ball through the opposing left tackle and end.

Back came the ball, accurately snapped by the center. Jerry Jackson
was on the alert and took it from Phil as he passed him on the run.
Kindlings Woodhouse smashed in to make a hole for his brother back, who
closely followed. Captain Cross, on the jump, took care of the opposing
left-end, and with a crash that was heard on the grandstand, one of the
Jersey twins hit the line. The game was fairly begun.



CHAPTER XIII

SMASHING THE LINE


"First down!" came the encouraging cry, when the mass of players had
become disentangled, and Jerry Jackson was seen to still have possession
of the ball. He had made a great gain.

"Now, once more, fellows!" called Phil. "Smash the line to pieces!"

Again there came a play, this time with Holly Cross endeavoring to go
between center and guard. But, unexpectedly, he felt as if he had hit a
stone wall. Fairview had developed unusual strength. There was no gain
there. But Phil thought he knew the weakness of the opposing team, and
he decided for another try at line bucking. There would still be time
for kicking on the third down, and he wanted his team to have the ball
as long as possible early in the game.

This time he signaled for Dutch Housenlager, who was at right tackle, to
go through left tackle. The play was well executed, but Dutch was a
little slow at hitting the line, and after a slight advance he was held,
and only five yards were gained. Randall must kick, and the yells of
delight that had greeted her first advance were silenced, while the
supporters of the co-educational academy prepared to encourage their
players by vocal efforts.

Holly Cross booted the ball well up into the enemy's territory. Tom, and
Joe Jackson, the ends, were down like tigers, but they could not break
through the well-organized interference that surrounded Roger Barnes,
the Fairview full-back. On he rushed until Phil, pluckily breaking
through, tackled him fiercely.

"Now see how we can hold 'em!" called Holly Cross to his men, and they
all braced, ready for the smash they knew would come. Nor was it long
delayed. Right at the center of the line came Lem Sellig, the Fairview
left half-back. But he met Snail Looper's solid flesh, supported by
Phil and the three other backs. Yet, in spite of this, Lem managed to
advance.

"Hold! hold!" pleaded Holly, and, with gritting teeth and tense muscles,
his men did hold. But ten yards had been gained. Fairview was not as
easy as had been hoped.

Once more the line-smashing occurred, but this time not for such a gain,
and on the next try Fairview was forced to kick.

"Right down the line, now!" called Phil, and, as if the cheering
contingent understood, Bean Perkins, with his foghorn voice, started
the song: "Take it to the Goal Posts, Boys!"

It had been decided, before the game, that Randall would attempt only
straight football, at least during the first half. Coach Lighton wisely
advised against trick plays so early in the season, as there were a
number of comparatively new men on the eleven. So Phil, when his side
had the ball again, called for more line-smashing, and his men responded
nobly.

They advanced the ball to the twenty-five yard line, and, though tempted
to give the signal for a goal from the field, Phil refrained, as there
was a quartering wind blowing. He did signal for a fake kick play,
however, feeling that he was justified in it, and to his horror there
was a fumble. Fairview broke through and captured the ball.

Dejected and almost humiliated, Randall lined up to receive a smashing
attack, but instead Fairview kicked, for her captain was nervous, and
feared the holding powers of his opponent's line.

"Now we've got 'em!" yelled Phil, as Holly Cross began running back with
the pigskin. The Fairview ends were right on hand, however, and broke
through the interference, so that Holly was downed ere he had covered
ten yards. But it gave Randall the ball, and then, with a grim
determination to smash or be smashed, the lads went at the Fairview line
hammer and tongs. They rushed the ball to the ten-yard line this time,
and then came a rapid succession of sequence plays, no signals being
given. Indeed, had Phil yelled the numbers and letters through a
megaphone, they could hardly have been heard, so tumultuous was the
cheering of the Randall supporters.

Against such whirlwind playing as this the Fairview line crumpled and
went to pieces. Slam-bang at it came first Holly Cross, then Kindlings,
and then Jerry Jackson. The latter, by a great effort, managed to wiggle
along the last few inches, and placed the ball over the final white
mark.

"Touch-down!" yelled Tom Parsons, and a touch-down it was. How the
cheers broke forth then! What a riot of color from the grandstands! How
the flags, ribbons and banners waved! How the gay youths and grave men
yelled themselves hoarse! How the girls' shrill voices sounded over the
field!

The goal was missed on account of the strong wind, and once more the
play started in. There was more line-smashing and some kicking, yet the
half ended with the score five to nothing in favor of Randall.

There was much talk in the dressing-room of the Randall players during
the intermission. Some of the players pleaded for the trial of trick
plays which they had practiced, but Coach Lighton insisted on
line-smashing.

"I know it is more tiresome," he said, "but it will be better practice
for you now. You need straight football early in the season. Clinton,
how is your shoulder holding out?"

"Fine. It doesn't hurt me at all."

As only minor hurts had resulted from the play of the first half, no
change was made in the line-up. Once more, when the whistle blew, did
the whirlwind work begin. There was a noticeable difference in the style
of Fairview. They had put in some new men, and were playing a kicking
game. They were holding better in the line, too.

The result was that after several minutes of play, during which the ball
had changed hands several times, the Randall players were tiring. It was
what the wily captain of the Fairview team had counted on. Then he sent
his men smashing the line, and to the grief of Holly Cross he saw his
men being pushed back. In vain did he appeal to them--even reviled
them--for not holding their ground. But it was impossible, and,
following a sensational run around right end, Joe Jackson missing an
easy tackle of Lem Sellig, the latter player made a touch-down. This
time it was the chance for the Fairview supporters to cheer and yell,
and they did it, the singing contingent rendering with much effect: "We
Have Old Randall's Scalp Now."

The score was tied, as Fairview failed to kick goal, and at it they
went again, smash and hammer, hammer and smash. Phil called for a trick
play, and it worked well, but the gain was small, and a little later the
ball went to Fairview on a penalty. Then came the surprise of the day.
On a forward pass the pigskin was taken well toward Randall's goal line,
and after the down Ted Puder, the husky left-tackle, was shoved over for
another touch-down.

The stands fairly trembled under the cheers, yells and excited stamping
of the co-educationals. The girls sang a song of victory, and the
Randall players, with woe-begone faces, gathered behind their goal
posts. There was a futile attempt to block the kick, but the spheroid
sailed over the bar. The score was eleven to five against Randall.



CHAPTER XIV

"GIRLS ARE QUEER"


"Now, fellows, we can win, or at least tie the score yet," remarked
Captain Cross, as his players were sent back to the middle of the field
for another kick-off. "Smash through 'em! Phil, try our forward pass and
on-side kick."

"There are only five minutes more of play," said Tom, who heard that
from the timekeeper.

"Never mind, we can do it. Tie the score, anyhow!"

But it was not to be. Smash through the line though her players did, for
there seemed no stopping them, successful as the forward pass was, and
with the gain netted by an on-side kick, Randall could do no better than
to carry the ball to the Fairview ten-yard line.

There might have been a try for a field goal, but Phil decided there was
no chance for it, whereas bucking the line was almost a sure thing.
His men were doing magnificent work, for they had carried the ball
continuously from the middle of the field without loss. Two minutes more
of play would have given them a touch-down, but the fatal whistle blew,
and with a groan the Randall players knew their last hope was gone.

There came the usual cheers and college yells for the vanquished from
the victors, and the return of the compliment. Then the downcast Randall
lads filed slowly across the gridiron. They were sad at heart, and Coach
Lighton noticed it.

"Fellows, you did magnificent work!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "You
really did!"

"All except winning," said Tom gloomily.

"I think we played rotten!" burst out Phil, who seemed to take it much
to heart.

"And I let Sellig get around me, and missed tackling him," said Joe
Jackson, fairly groaning. "That cost us the game."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Captain Cross, who knew the danger of despondency.
"You did all right, Joe; and the other Jersey twin shone like a star on
a dark night. We're all right."

"Yes, except for what ails us," added Dutch Housenlager, making a
playful attempt to trip up Tom.

"Here! Quit that!" exclaimed the left-end in no gentle voice.

Coach Lighton noticed it. Tom, as well as the others, was "on edge." It
would not need much more to demoralize the team. He must stop the
growing feeling.

"Fellows," he exclaimed, "you're all right! I know what I'm talking
about. I've coached teams before, and I say that for the first game of
the season you did all that could be expected. I'm proud of you. I----"

"A thing like this happened once before," said a voice at the elbow of
the coach. "My uncle says----"

But Ford Fenton got no further, for Dutch Housenlager, putting out his
foot, neatly tripped the offending one, and the rest of his sentence was
mumbled to the grass.

"Serves him right!" exclaimed Tom, and in the laugh that followed the
nervous, disappointed feeling of the team, in a measure, passed off.

"Fairview has a good team," went on Coach Lighton. "I give them credit
for that. But we have a better one, and now that we know their style of
play and their weakness we can beat them next game. We'll have another
chance at them."

"And we'll wipe up the gridiron with 'em!" cried Holly Cross. "Forget
it, fellows! Let's sing 'Marching to the Goal Posts,'" which they did
with such a vim that the spirits of all were raised many degrees.

"Well, Phil," remarked Tom, as he was getting off his football togs, "we
were sort of up against it, eh?"

"Oh, it might have been worse. But the way the fellows rushed the
ball up the field the last five minutes was a caution. It was like a
machine."

"Yes; we ought to have done that first."

"That's right. By the way, I'm going to see my sister. Want to come
along?"

"Sure!" exclaimed Tom with such eagerness that Phil remarked dryly:

"I don't know that she'll be with Madge Tyler."

"Oh--er--that is--that's all right," said Tom hastily, and he swallowed
quickly. "I'll go along."

"All right," said Phil.

They finished dressing, and went across the field to where a crowd of
spectators was still congregated.

"Think you can find her in this bunch?" asked Tom, but he was taking no
chances, for he himself was keeping a sharp lookout for a certain fair
face.

"Oh, I guess so. If I don't spot her she'll glimpse me. Girls are great
for finding people in a crowd. Sis always seems to do it."

"Oh, Phil!" called a voice a moment later, and Ruth Clinton hurried up
to her brother, gaily waving a Fairview flag. She was followed by Madge
Tyler, who also had her college colors with her. "How's your shoulder?"
asked Ruth anxiously. "I was so nervous that I couldn't bear to look at
the plays."

"Yes, you've got a lot of ruffians on your team," retorted her brother.
"They don't know how to play like gentlemen."

"But they know how to win!" exclaimed Madge, as she greeted her chum's
brother.

"That's right," admitted Phil, making a rueful face.

"I'm sorry I had to cheer against you and Mr. Parsons to-day," went on
Madge, as she looked at Phil. "I really--well, of course I can't say I
really wanted to you to win against Fairview, but I wish the score had
been even."

"There's no satisfaction in that," retorted Tom. "We lost, and they won,
fairly and squarely."

"Oh, I'm glad you admit that," spoke Ruth with a laugh, and she waved
her flag in Tom's face. He made a grab for it, and caught the end of
the cane. For an instant he stood thus, looking into the laughing,
mischievous eyes of Ruth Clinton.

"Do you want it?" she asked daringly.

"Yes," said Tom, "even though it is the color of the enemy."

"What will you give me for it?" she asked.

"My colors," said Tom, taking a small knot of yellow and maroon from his
coat lapel. "We'll exchange until the victory goes the other way about."

"All right," she agreed laughingly. "Don't forget, now. Mr. Parsons."

"I'll not," he assured her, and he turned to see Madge regarding him
curiously. Her eyes shifted away quickly as they met his.

"Heard from dad?" asked Phil, who had been an amused witness to the
little scene.

"Yes, I have a letter with me," answered his sister. "Here it is," and
she handed it to Phil. "Mother is some better."

"That's good. Do you have to get right back to college, or have you
girls time to go down the street and have some soda?" asked Phil.

"Oh, we'll make time to go with _you_!" exclaimed Madge, and she
accented the last word. Tom looked at her keenly.

"Come on, then," invited Phil, and, as if it was the most natural thing
in the world, he swung alongside of Madge, leaving Tom to walk with
Ruth. Nor was Tom at all slow to take advantage of this arrangement,
though for a brief instant he hardly knew whether or not he ought to go
with her, considering how friendly Madge had been with him since she
gave up going with Langridge.

"How does it feel to lose?" asked Ruth, as she walked with Tom.

"Not very good," he answered, as he listened to Madge's gay laugh at
something Phil said. He was reflecting how well she got along with the
handsome quarter-back. But Tom was not unaware of the charms of the
pretty girl at his side. They talked on many subjects during the walk to
town, and Tom felt like a chap who has had offered to him the choice of
two most delightful companions, and cannot tell which one he likes best.
Ruth was certainly an attractive girl, and her jolly laugh--but just
then he heard the rippling tones of Madge's voice.

"Oh, hang it all!" he thought to himself. "What am I up against?"

They spent a jolly afternoon before it was time for Tom and Phil to
start back to Randall.

"I hope you'll come over again--soon," said Ruth to her brother as they
were about to part.

"I will, if Miss Tyler will second your invitation," replied Phil.

"Of course I will," said Madge heartily.

"Can't I come, too?" asked Tom.

"Of course," answered Ruth promptly. "I shall expect you to report to me
on the condition of my colors."

"Oh, of course," was Tom's remark. Then he waited for Madge to say
something to him, but she turned away without a word. Yet Tom could not
forget that she had added her invitation to that of Ruth in regard to
Phil.

Whereat, wondering over some matters on the way home, Tom said to his
chum:

"Girls are queer, aren't they?"

"Are you just finding that out?" asked the quarter-back.

"I guess so," was what Tom said.



CHAPTER XV

PHIL SAVES WALLOPS


They were talking the game over in their room--Phil, Sid and Tom. Sid,
from the effects of the strong liquid which Gerhart had substituted for
the liniment, still had to carry his hand in a sling, but the fingers
were slowly losing their stiffness.

"Where you fellows made a mistake," Sid was saying, as he moved about on
the creaking old sofa to get into a more comfortable position, "where
you fellows made a mistake was in not doing more kicking early in the
game."

"Oh, I suppose you could have run things better than Phil did?"
suggested Tom, not altogether pleasantly.

"Not better, but different. You should have tired them out, and then
smashed their line all to pieces."

"It wasn't altogether such easy smashing as you would suppose, sitting
and watching the game from the grandstand, was it, Tom?" came from Phil.

"Not exactly," responded the left-end, as he rubbed his shoulder, which
he had bruised making a hard tackle. "They were as tough as nails. I
suppose we did fairly well, considering everything."

"All but winning," spoke Sid drowsily. "You didn't do that, you know.
Now be fair; did you?"

"Oh, cut it out, you old would-be philosopher!" cried Phil, twisting
around in the easy chair to reach something to throw at his chum. All he
could find was a newspaper, and he doubled that up. It missed Sid, and
hitting an ink bottle on the mantle, broke the phial, the black fluid
flowing down over the wall and on the carpet.

"That's a nice thing to do!" cried Tom. "Say, what do you want to make a
rough house for? Isn't this den bad enough as it is, without you doing
that?"

"I didn't mean to," answered Phil contritely.

"Look at the rug!" went on Tom, as the ink formed a black pool. "Pretty,
isn't it?"

"We'll get the pattern changed if we keep on," murmured Sid, without
opening his eyes. "There's the liniment spot, now the ink spot, and the
grease spots left by the former occupants. Maybe we ought to get a new
rug, fellows."

"Not this term," said Tom emphatically. "I've run over my money as it
is, and I don't like to ask dad for more."

"I notice you had some to spend for flowers to-night," remarked Phil.

On the way home from the game Tom had stopped in a florist's in Fairview
and given an order, while Phil remained outside.

"You don't mean to say that Tom has been sending flowers to some girl?"
demanded Sid, sitting up.

"Well, you can draw your own conclusions," replied Phil. "He didn't
bring 'em home to decorate _our_ room, that's sure."

"Worse and some more, too," murmured Sid. "What are you coming to, Tom?"
He looked reproachfully at his chum. Then he shook his head. "This girl
business!" he spluttered. Then, as his eyes gazed about the room, he
caught sight of the little flag of Fairview colors which Ruth Clinton
had given Tom. The latter had placed it partly behind a picture of a
football game. "Where did that come from?" demanded Sid, getting up from
the couch with an effort and striding over to the offending emblem.

"It's mine!" declared Tom. "Ruth--I mean Phil's sister--gave it to me."

For an instant Sid looked at his chum. Then his gaze traveled to the
picture of the girl--the two girls--for that of Madge was beside the
likeness of Ruth--and the former first-baseman sighed.

"Well," he said, "I s'pose there's no hope for it, but I wish I'd gone
in with some fellows who weren't crazy on the girl question. First
thing I know you fellows will have this a regular boudoir; and then
where will I be? I expect any day now you'll be wanting to get rid of
this old couch and chair, and get some mission furniture, so that you
can have a five o'clock tea here, and invite some girls and chaperons."

"Suppose we do?" asked Phil, who for some reason sided with Tom.

"Well, all I've got to say is that I give up," and Sid, with a helpless
look, flung himself down on the sofa and turned his back on his chums.
"Next you know you'll be playing tennis or croquet instead of football.
You make me sick! I tell you what it is, if you put any more of those
tomfool decorations, like flags and photographs, in this room, I'm going
to quit!" and Sid spoke earnestly.

"Aw, forget it, you old misanthropic specimen of a misogynist!"
exclaimed Phil with a laugh. "You'll be there yourself some day, and
then you'll see how it is."

"Say, you talk as if you had a girl, too!" cried Sid, sitting up again
and looking fixedly at Phil.

"Maybe I have," was the noncommittal answer.

"Then you've gone back on me, too," was what Sid said, as he pretended
to go to sleep.

It was quiet in the room for a while, each lad busy with his thoughts.
Who shall say what they were? One thing is certain--that the gazes of
Tom and Phil often traveled to the wall on which were the photographs of
two girls--Madge and Ruth. Tom looked at both; but Phil--well, did you
ever know a fellow, no matter how nice a sister he had, to care to steal
surreptitious glances at her picture? Did you? Well, that's all I'm
going to say now.

The fussy little alarm clock ticked monotonously on, as if anxious to
get its work done. Still neither of the three chums spoke. Occasionally
Sid would shift his position, but he did not open his eyes. Tom
sometimes looked at the liniment stain in the carpet, and then at the
ink spot.

"It's a wonder you wouldn't get a blotter and sop up some of that
writing fluid," suggested Phil to Tom at last.

"Why don't you do it yourself?" was the retort. "You knocked it over."

"I'm too comfortable," murmured Phil from the depths of the chair.

"Humph!" grunted Tom. Then there was silence once more.

"How's your hand, Sid?" asked Tom, when the clock had ticked off what
seemed to the lads about a million strokes.

"A little better. That's the worst thing I ever had happen to me," and
Sid looked at his stiffened fingers. "I don't know what you fellows are
going to do, but I'm going to bed!" he suddenly exclaimed. "I'm
sleepy."

"Come on out and take a walk," proposed Tom to Phil. "I'm stiff and
lame. Maybe I can walk it off. Then we'll take a hot bath in the gym and
turn in."

"That sounds good," agreed Phil. "I'll go you."

They left Sid undressing and went out, it not being a proscribed hour.
After a brisk walk around the campus they started for the gymnasium. As
they neared it they heard voices coming from the direction of Biology
Hall, a small building situated to the right of their dormitory.

"Now, then, hold him, Gerhart, while I clip him two or three good ones!"
they heard some one say, and immediately after that came in pleading
tones:

"Oh, please don't hit me again, Mr. Langridge. I did the best I could
for you."

"The best, you little rat! You didn't get the stuff I sent you for!"
exclaimed Langridge angrily.

"Because they wouldn't sell me the whisky," was the answer. "Oh, Mr.
Langridge, please don't hit me!"

"It's Wallops!" exclaimed Phil. "Wallops, the little messenger. What's
that brute Langridge up to now?"

"Seems as if he sent Wallops after liquor, and he didn't get it," said
Tom. "I hear he's been up to that trick."

"The dirty cad!" whispered Phil.

A moment later there was the sound of a blow, and it was followed by a
cry of pain.

"Come on!" cried Phil to Tom, and the two strode around the corner of
the building. They saw Gerhart holding Wallops, who was a lad small for
his age, while Langridge was punching him in the face, accompanying each
blow with the remark:

"That will teach you to play the sneak trick on me. You drank that stuff
yourself!"

"Indeed I didn't!" cried the messenger. "They wouldn't let me have it.
There was a new man behind the bar."

"That's a likely story. Hold him tight, Gerhart; I'm going to paste him
another."

"You hound!" cried Phil, his voice shrill with rage, and an instant
later he had fairly leaped beside the bully. With one hand he thrust
Langridge aside, and then, with a straight left on the jaw, he sent him
to the ground with a thud.



CHAPTER XVI

PHIL IS NERVOUS


Langridge struggled to his feet, anger rendering him almost speechless.
He started toward Phil, who stood in the attitude of a trained boxer,
awaiting the attack. The light from a new moon faintly illuminated the
scene, and the figures stood out with considerable distinctness against
the background of the dark building.

Wallops, the messenger, was shrinking away, anxious to escape unobserved,
though he cast a look of gratitude at Phil. Tom was surprised at his
chum's sudden attack, but he stood ready to aid him, in case Gerhart
should make an effort to take sides. As for Phil and Langridge, they
faced each other, one eager with righteous anger to continue the
chastisement, the other mad with the lust of shame and unreasoning.

"What--what did you do that for?" asked Langridge thickly, and his hand
went to his jaw where Phil's fist had landed. His head was singing yet
from the powerful blow.

"You know why," replied Phil calmly. "Because you're a coward."

"Hold on!" cried the bully, taking a step forward. "I've stood about all
I'm going to from you."

He looked around at Gerhart. The freshman stood passive, and Langridge
showed some surprise.

"Aren't you going to stand by me?" asked the sophomore of his ally.

"Of course," muttered Gerhart, but there was no heart in his tones. He
remembered what his crony had said regarding Phil's prowess.

"Certainly," put in Tom with gentle voice. "We'll make a quartet of it,
if you like."

"What are you interfering with my affairs for?" went on Langridge,
taking no notice of Tom.

"Because it's the affair of any decent college man to interfere when he
catches a dirty coward beating a fellow smaller than he is!" and Phil
fairly bit off the words.

"Take care!" cried Langridge. "You're going too far. I'll make a class
matter of it if you call me a coward again!"

"I wish you would!" burst out Phil. "I'd like to make a charge against
you before the whole college! Beating Wallops because he's smaller than
you are!"

"That wasn't it. He didn't do as I told him, and was insolent."

"Who gave you the right to assume a mastery over him? Besides, from what
I heard, you had evidently ordered him to do something against the
rules."

"Ah! So you were sneaking around to listen, were you?" sneered
Langridge.

"You know better than that, or I'd answer you in the same way I did at
first," replied Phil. "If you send Wallops for liquor again I shall
inform Dr. Churchill."

"I always thought you were a tattling cad!" burst out Langridge. "Now I
know it!"

Hardly were the words out of his mouth ere Phil was beside him. The
quarter-back was fairly trembling, and his voice shook as he shot out
the words:

"Take that back! Take it back, I say, or--or I'll----"

He paused, emotion overcoming him, but from the manner in which he drew
back his powerful left arm Langridge stepped aside apprehensively.

"Well, you haven't any right to interfere in my affairs," he whined.

"Do you take back what you said?" demanded Phil fiercely, and he laid a
trembling hand on the shoulder of the bully.

"Take your hand from me!" exclaimed Langridge. "Yes--I suppose I've got
to--I can't fight a professional pugilist," he added with an uneasy
laugh.

"Thanks for the compliment," spoke Phil grimly. "I guess this can end
where it is. As for you, Gerhart, if I thought you had any other part
in this than being a tool of this coward, I'd give you the soundest
thrashing you ever had."

The freshman did not answer, and when Langridge turned aside Gerhart
followed him into the shadows. Poor Wallops waited until they were out
of sight, then the messenger trailed after Phil and Tom. On the way he
haltingly told the chums that Langridge had been in the habit of sending
him to town to purchase stimulants for him. It had come to the point
where that night where the bartender had refused to sell any more
liquor, warning having been given that sales to minors were becoming too
frequent. It was the failure of Wallops to return with the whisky that
angered Langridge.

"Don't say anything about this, Wallops," advised Phil. "Langridge won't
bother you again. If he does, let me know."

"Yes, sir, and thank you, Mr. Clinton. I'll not tell."

"I guess Langridge and Gerhart won't, either," commented Tom. "They'll
be glad to let it drop."

"What cads those fellows are," remarked Phil a little later, when he
and Tom, having had a refreshing shower bath, were preparing for bed in
their room.

"Well, you took some of it out of Langridge, at all events," said the
pitcher.

"Maybe, but it will come back. I suppose I'll have to be on the lookout
now, or he may do me a dirty turn."

"Shouldn't wonder. I had my troubles with him last term. But I thought
he was going to do better this season."

"He can't seem to, evidently."

"Say," exclaimed Sid, poking his head from beneath the sheet, "I wish
you fellows would let a chap sleep. What are you chinning about?"

They told him, and, wide awake, he sat up and listened to the whole
story.

"I wish I'd seen it," he said. "It would have been as good as a football
game. By the way, who does the team play this week, Phil?"

"Oh, we've got a little game with the Haddonfield Prep. School. Doesn't
amount to much. Some of the subs will play, I fancy."

"I hope Holly doesn't make the mistake of despising an enemy," went on
Sid. "Do you know, Phil, it seems to me that our fellows haven't struck
their gait yet."

"Well, it's early in the season," said Tom.

"I know that," went on Sid, "but they ought to have more vim. There's a
curious lack of ginger noticed. _You_ didn't play with your usual snap,
Phil."

"I know it," was the almost unexpected answer from the quarter-back. "I
wondered if any one noticed it."

"I did," added Tom, "but I wasn't going to say anything. I thought it
was because it was the first game."

"No," said Phil slowly, "it wasn't that. I'm all
unstrung--nervous--that's what's the matter."

"You nervous!" exclaimed Sid. "I wouldn't have believed that. What's the
matter?"

"It's my mother," said Phil quietly, and there was a strange tone in his
voice.

"She--she's not worse--is she?" asked Tom, and the room became curiously
quiet.

"No," answered Phil; "but I can't tell what moment she may be. Fellows,
I'm living in constant fear of receiving a message that--that she--that
she's dead!"



CHAPTER XVII

THE SOPHOMORES LOSE


There are several occasions when a young man can find no words in which
to express himself. One is when he meets a pretty girl for the first
time, and another is when his best chum has a great sorrow. There are
other occasions, but these are the chief ones. Thus it was with Tom and
Sid. For a few seconds after Phil's announcement they sat staring at the
floor. Their eyes took in the pattern of the faded rug, though little of
the original figure was to be seen because of the many spots. Then Tom
looked about the apartment, viewing the photographs of the two pretty
girls, the sporting implements massed in a corner, the table, with its
artistic confusion of books and papers. From these his gaze traveled
back to Phil.

As for Sid, he breathed heavily. If he had been a girl I would have said
that he sighed. Then, being a youth who did not shirk any duty, no
matter how hard, Sid asked:

"Is--is she any worse, Phil? Have you had bad news? Can't we--can't you
go down where she is?"

Phil shook his head.

"There's no specially bad news," he said, "but it's this way: She has a
malady which, sooner or later, unless it is conquered, will--will take
her away from me--and sis. Dad thinks an operation is the only hope, but
they keep putting it off from time to time, on a slim chance that she
may recover without it. For the operation is a desperate expedient at
best. And that's why I'm not myself. That's why I can't go into the
games with all my might. I expect any moment to be summoned to the
sidelines to get a telegram saying--saying----"

He choked up, and could not finish.

"Is it--is it as bad as that?" asked Tom huskily, and he put his arm
over Phil's shoulder, as his chum sat in the old easy chair.

"It's pretty bad," said Phil softly. Then, with a sudden change of
manner, he exclaimed: "But say, I didn't mean to tell you fellows that.
I don't believe in relating my troubles to every one," and he smiled,
though it was not like his usual cheery face that looked at his two
chums.

"Oh, come now!" cried Sid. "As if we didn't want to hear! And as if you
shouldn't tell us your troubles! Why, I expect to tell you fellows mine,
and I want to hear yours in return, eh, Tom."

"Of course," said the pitcher heartily.

"Well, that's mighty white of you chaps," went on Phil, swallowing a
lump in his throat. "But I'm not going to bother you any more, just now.
Only that's the reason I'm--well, that I can't play as I want to play.
But I'm going to try to forget it. I'm going into the next game, and
help rip their line to pieces. I'm going to pilot our fellows to a big
score or dislocate my other shoulder."

"Good!" cried Sid. "Now let's get to bed. It's almost morning."

The little talk among the three chums was productive of good. There was
a closer bond of union among them than there had ever been before. They
felt more like brothers, and Tom and Sid watched Phil for the next few
days as if he was a little chap, over whom they had been given charge.

"Oh, say!" the quarter-back exclaimed at length one afternoon, when they
had followed him to football practice, and walked home with him. "I'm
not so bad as all that, you know."

"Did you hear any news to-day?" asked Tom, ignoring the mild rebuke.

"Yes. Got a telegram from dad. Things look a little brighter, and
yet----" He paused. "Well," he continued, "I don't want to think too
much about it. We play Haddonfield to-morrow. I want to wipe up the
gridiron with them."

Which Phil and his chums pretty nearly did. Haddonfield Preparatory
School had the best eleven in years, but, even with a number of scrub
players on Randall, the score was forty-six to nothing. There was a
different air about the college team as the lads went singing from the
field that afternoon. There was confidence in their eyes.

It was a beautiful afternoon in October. Lectures were over and a throng
of students had strolled over the campus and down to the banks of Sunny
River. The stream flowed lazily along toward Lake Tonoka, winding in
and out, as though it had all the time it desired in which to make the
journey, and meant to take the full allowance. There was nothing rapid
or fussy about Sunny River. It was not one of those hurrying, bubbling,
frothy streams that make a great ado about going somewhere, and never
arrive. There was something soothing in walking along the banks that
bracing, fall day. There was just enough snap in the air to prevent one
from feeling enervated, yet there was hardly a hint of winter.

"Doesn't it make you feel as if you could stretch out on your back and
look up into the sky?" asked Phil of Tom as the three chums walked
along. Tom and the quarter-back had been to football practice, and still
had their togs on.

"Now hold on!" exclaimed Sid, before Tom could answer. "Is this going to
lead anywhere?"

"What do you mean?" asked Phil.

"I mean that poetical start on a talk-fest. Are you going to ring in
beautiful scenery, calm, peaceful atmosphere, a sense of loneliness, and
then switch off on to girls? Is that what you're driving at? Because if
it is I want to know, and I'm going back and read some psychology."

"You're up the wrong tree," declared Tom. "I don't know what Phil means,
but my answer to his question would be that to stretch out on the ground
for any length of time at this season would mean stiff muscles, not to
mention rheumatism."

"You fellows have no poetry in your nature," complained Phil. "Just look
there, where the river curves, how the trees lean over to be kissed by
the limpid water. Can't you fancy some one floating, floating down it in
a boat, with heart attuned----"

"It's too late for boating!" exclaimed a voice behind the trio. "My
uncle says----"

Phil turned quickly and tried to grab Ford Fenton. The youth with the
uncle jumped back.

"Why--what--what's the matter?" stammered Fenton.

"Matter!" cried Phil. "Why, you little shrimp, I've a good notion to
chuck you into the river!"

"Yes, the river--the beautiful, meandering, poetical river," added
Tom. "Quit it, Phil; you're getting on my nerves. I'm glad Fenton
interrupted you with a recollection of his uncle. What were you going
to say about your respected relative?" he asked.

But Fenton was going to take no chances with Phil, and, turning about,
he retraced his steps.

"What were you saying, Phil?" inquired Sid politely, if sarcastically.

"None of your business," replied the quarter-back a little stiffly. "I'm
going to write a poem about it," he added more genially.

"And send it to some girl, I suppose," went on Sid. "Oh, you make me
sick!"

What further ramification the conversation might have taken is
problematical, but it was interrupted just then by the arrival of Ed
Kerr, who seemed in much of a hurry.

"I've been looking all over for you fellows," he panted.

"Why hastenest thou thus so hastily?" asked Tom. "Is the college on
fire? Has Pitchfork been taken with a fit, or has Moses sent to say we
need study no more?"

"Quit your gassin'!" ordered Ed. "Say, we're going to have the walk rush
to-night. The freshies have just had a meeting and decided on it. Tried
to pull it off quietly, but Snail Looper heard, and kindly tipped us
off. Dutch Housenlager is getting the soph crowd together. You fellows
want to be in it, don't you?"

"Of course," answered Tom. "We have not forgotten that we were once
freshmen, and that we had many clashes with the second-years. Now we
will play the latter rôle. Lead on, Macduff, and he be hanged who first
cries: 'Hold! Enough!' We'll make the freshies wish they had never seen
Randall College."

"Maybe--maybe not," spoke Phil. "They're a husky lot--the first-year
lads. But we can never let them have the privilege of the walk without a
fight."

The "walk rush," as it was termed, was one of those matters about which
college tradition had centered. It was a contest between the freshman
and sophomore classes, that took place every fall, usually early in
October. It got its name from the walk which circled Booker Memorial
Chapel. This chapel was the gift of a mother whose son had died while
attending Randall, and the beautiful stained glass windows in it were
well worth looking at--in fact, many an artist came to Randall expressly
for that purpose.

Around the chapel was a broad walk, shaded with stately oaks, and the
path was the frequenting place of the college lads. From time immemorial
the walk had been barred to freshmen unless, in the annual rush, they
succeeded in defeating the sophomores, and, as this seldom occurred, few
freshmen used the walk, save on Sundays, when all hostilities were
suspended, in honor of the day. The rush always took place on a small
knoll, or hill, back of the gymnasium, and it was the object of the
freshmen to take possession of this point of vantage, and maintain it
for half an hour against the rush of the sophomores. If they succeeded
they were entitled to use the chapel walk. If they did not, they were
reviled, and any freshman caught on the forbidden ground was liable to
summary punishment.

Dark figures stole silently here and there. Commands and instructions
were whispered hoarsely. There was an air of mystery about, for it was
the night of the walk rush, and freshmen and sophomores were each
determined to win.

Garvey Gerhart, by virtue of the "boosting" which Langridge had given
him, had secured command of the first-year forces. As soon as it was
dark he had assembled them on "gym hill," as the knoll was called. There
was a large crowd of freshmen, almost too large, it seemed, for the
sophomores were outnumbered two to one. But Tom, Sid, Phil, Dutch
Housenlager, Ed Kerr and others of the second-year class were strong in
the belief of their power to oust their rivals from the hilltop. They
had a moral force back of them--the conscious superiority of being
"veterans," which counted for much.

"We're going to have our work cut out for us," commented Tom, as, with
his chums advancing slowly to the fray, he surveyed the throng of
freshmen. "My, but there's a bunch of 'em! And we've got to clean every
mother's son of them off the hill."

"We'll do it!" cried Phil gaily. "It will be good training for us."

"Of course!" exclaimed Dutch, as he put out his foot slyly to trip Sid.
Tom saw the act, he executed a quick movement that sent Housenlager
sprawling on the ground.

"That's the time you got some of your own medicine!" exclaimed Phil with
a laugh, as Dutch, muttering dire vengeance, picked himself up.

The preliminaries for the rush were soon arranged, timekeepers and
umpires selected, and, with the bright moon shining down on the scene,
the battle began. It was wild, rough and seemingly without order, yet
there was a plan about it. The freshmen were massed together on top, and
about the center bunch were circles of their fellows who were to thrust
back the rushing sophomores. Not until the last freshman had been swept
from the hill could the second-year youths claim victory.

"All ready!" yelled Ed Kerr, and at the freshmen went their rivals.

There was the thud of body striking body. Breaths came quick and fast.
There were smothered exclamations, the sound of blows good-naturedly
taken and given. There were cries, shouts, commands, entreaties. There
was a swaying of the mass, this way and that. A knot of lads would go
down, with a struggling pile on top of them, and the conglomeration
would writhe about until it disentangled.

Tom, Phil and Sid (whose hand was now almost entirely better) tore their
way toward the center. Time and again they were hurled back, only to
renew the rush.

"Clean 'em off!" was the rallying cry of the sophomores.

"Fight 'em back!" was the retort of the freshmen.

At it they went, fiercely and earnestly. The entire mass appeared to be
revolving about the hill now, with the little group of freshmen on the
top as a pivot.

Gradually Tom, Phil and their particular chums worked their way up
to the crest. Then they found that the freshmen had adopted strange
tactics. Under the advice of Gerhart they stretched out prone, and, with
arms and legs twined together, made a regular layer of bodies, covering
the summit. It was almost impossible to separate the lads one from the
other, in order to hurl them out of the way. They were literally
"sticking together."

"Tear 'em apart!" pleaded Tom.

"Rip 'em up!" shouted Phil.

"Hold tight!" sung out Gerhart.

And hang tightly they did. Tom succeeded in breaking the hold of one
lad, and Phil that of another. But, in turn, the two big sophomores were
borne down and overwhelmed by the weight of freshmen on their backs.

The referee blew a warning whistle. But two minutes of time were left.
The sophomores redoubled their efforts, but the ruse of the freshmen was
a good one. It was like trying to tear apart a living doormat.

The sophomores could not do it. Though they labored like Trojans, it was
not to be. Once more the whistle blew, indicating that the rush was
ended.

The sophomores had lost, and for the remainder of the term the freshmen
could strut proudly about the walk of Booker Memorial Chapel.



CHAPTER XVIII

A FIRE ALARM


"Well," remarked Phil ruefully, as he and Tom, rather sore and bruised,
went to their room. There was an air of quietness about the sophomores.
They did not cheer and sing, but back on the knoll the victorious
freshmen made the night hideous with their college cries.

"Is that all?" inquired Tom, for Phil had uttered only the one word.

"That's all, son, as Bricktop Molloy would say. 'Sufficient unto the day
is the evil thereof.' We were dumped good and proper."

"With plenty of gravy on the side," added Sid.

"I was afraid of it," spoke Tom solemnly. "I said they were too many for
us."

"Listen to old 'I told you so,'" mocked Phil. "Next he'll be telling us
that he predicted we'd lose the football championship. You make me
tired!"

"I'm tired already," retorted Tom good naturedly. "Some one gave me an
extra good poke in the ribs the last minute."

"It was Gerhart," declared Sid. "I saw him. I had a good notion to punch
him for you."

"I'd just as well you didn't," went on Tom. "There's no love lost
between us and his crony, Langridge, now. No use making matters worse.
But he certainly managed the freshies well. That was a good trick, lying
down and making a mat of themselves."

"Yes; hereafter I suppose it will be the regular practice for future
classes," said Phil. "We'll have to think up a new plan to break up that
kind of interference. My, but I'm lame!"

"Better not let Lighton hear you say that."

"Why?"

"He'd lay you off from football. There are three candidates for every
position on the 'varsity this term, and we fellows who have made the
eleven will have to take care of ourselves."

"That's so," admitted Tom. "Well, a hot bath will fix me up, and then
for some good sleep."

"I wish I could snooze," spoke Phil.

"Why can't you?" asked Sid.

"I've got to bone away on Greek. Got turned back in class to-day, and
Pitchfork, who's a regular fiend at it, as well at Latin, warned me that
I'd be conditioned if I didn't look out."

"You want to be careful, son," cautioned Sid. "Remember how I nearly
slumped in Latin before the big ball game last year, and only just got
through by the skin of my teeth in time to play? Don't let that happen
to you. It isn't good for the constitution; not a little bit."

The three chums went to the gymnasium and had a warm shower, followed by
a brisk rub-down, after which they all felt better. Then, in their room,
they talked the walk rush all over again, until Phil threw books at Sid
and Tom to make them keep quiet so that he might study.

The week that followed was marked by some hard practice on the gridiron,
for there was in prospect a game with the Orswell Military Academy, the
eleven of which was seldom defeated. Therefore, Coach Lighton and
Captain Cross worked their men well.

Phil, in particular, received some very special instructions about
running the team. Some new plays were practiced, and a different
sequence was planned.

"I want three corking good plays to be worked in sequence when we get to
within reaching distance of the twenty-five-yard line," said the coach.
"Maybe we can try for a field goal, but the chances are against it if
the wind blows. A good sequence will do wonders."

Then the coach explained the sequence plays. They were to be three,
in which the right-half, the full-back and the left-tackle would
successively take the ball, without a word being spoken after the first
signal for the play had been given. The plays were to be executed in
quick succession, and the coach depended on that to demoralize the cadet
eleven.

"There'll probably be such cheering when we get to within twenty-five
yards of their goal that it will be hard to hear signals, anyhow," Mr.
Lighton went on. "So memorize these plays carefully, and we'll try to
work them. When Clinton remarks: 'We have twenty-five yards to go,
fellows; walk up together, now,' that will be the signal for the
sequence plays."

They tried them against the scrub, and did remarkably well. Then came a
day of hard work, followed by some light practice, and a rest on the
afternoon preceding the game with the cadets.

There was a big attendance at the grounds, which adjoined the military
academy, about twenty miles from Randall College. In their first half
the home eleven, by dint of trick plays and much kicking, so wore out
the Randallites that they could not score, while Orswell made two
touch-downs. But it was different in the second half, and after a
touch-down gained by a brilliant run on Tom's part, there came a second
one, which resulted from the sequence plays. Right through the line in
turn went Kindlings Woodhouse, Holly Cross and Ed Kerr. The twenty-five
yards were made in three minutes of play, and the score tied. Then, by
a skilful forward pass and some line bucking, another touch-down was
made, and then, as if to cap the climax, Holly Cross kicked a beautiful
field goal.

"Wow! Hold me from flying!" cried Phil, as he tried to hug the entire
team after the referee's whistle blew. His fellows had responded nobly
to the calls he made on them, and he had run the team with a level head.

"Boys, I'm proud of you," said the coach. "It's the biggest score
against the Orswell cadets in many a year."

And there was much rejoicing in Randall College that night, so that
Professor Tines felt called upon to remonstrate to Dr. Churchill about
the noise the lads were making.

"Why, I'm not aware of any unusual noise; not from here," spoke the
venerable president, in his comfortable study, with a book of Sanskrit
on his knee.

"You could hear it if you went outside," said the Latin teacher.

"Ah, yes, doubtless; but, you see, my dear professor, I'm not going
outside," and Dr. Churchill smiled benevolently.

"Humph!" exclaimed Mr. Tines, as he went back to his apartments. "If I
had my way, football and all sports would be abolished. They are a
relic of barbarism!"

It was late when Phil and Tom got to their room that night. They
narrowly escaped being caught by Mr. Snell, one of the proctor's scouts,
and dashed into their "den" at full speed.

"Can't you make less row?" demanded Sid, who was studying. "You've put
all the thoughts I had on my essay out of my head."

"Serves you right for being a greasy dig!" exclaimed Tom. "Why don't you
be a sport? You're getting to be a regular hermit."

"I want my degree," explained Sid, who was studying as he had not
thought of doing his first term.

It was after midnight when Tom, who did not sleep well on account of the
excitement following the football game, awoke with a start. Through the
glass transom over the door of the room he saw a red glare.

"Fire!" he exclaimed, as he jumped out of bed and landed heavily in the
middle of the apartment.

"What's that?" cried Phil, sitting up. "Is there a telegram for me? Is
there--is there----"

He was at Tom's side, hardly awake.

"It's no telegram," answered Tom quickly "Looks like a fire."

He threw open the door. The corridor was filled with clouds of lurid
smoke which rolled in great masses here and there.

"The whole place is ablaze!" cried Tom. "Get up, Sid!" and he pulled the
bedclothes from his still sleeping chum.



CHAPTER XIX

THE FRESHMEN DANCE


"Here, quit!" cried Sid, making an effort to pull back the coverings on
which Tom was yanking. "Let a fellow alone, can't you? Quit fooling!
This is no freshman's room!"

"Get out, you old duffer!" yelled Phil. "The place is on fire!"

"Who's on the wire?" asked Sid, thinking some one had called him on the
telephone. "I don't care who it is. I'm not going to answer this time of
night. I want to sleep. Tell 'em to call up again."

"Fire! Fire! Not wire!" shouted Tom in his ear, and this time Sid heard
and was fully awake. He caught a glimpse of the clouds of lurid smoke
pouring in from the corridor.

"Jumping Johnnie cake! I should say it was a fire!" he cried. "Come on,
fellows, let's get some of our stuff out! I want my football pictures,"
and with that Sid rushed to the wall and yanked down the only bit of
ornamentation he cared for--a lithograph of a Rugby scrimmage. "Come
on!" he yelled, grabbing up a pile of his clothes from a chair. "This
is all I want. Let the books and other stuff go!"

"But the sofa! The chair!" cried Tom, who had peered out into the hall,
only to jump back again, gasping and choking. "We can chuck them out of
the window."

"That's right. Can't hurt 'em much," added Phil, who was getting into
his trousers.

"Grab hold, then. But wait until I button my vest," ordered Tom, who
was fumbling with the garment, the only one he had grabbed up. He had
switched on the electric light, and the gleam shone through a cloud of
the reddish smoke. "What's the matter with this blamed thing, anyhow?"
he cried, as he fumbled in vain for the buttons.

"You've got it on backwards!" cried Sid, who had tossed his clothes out
of the window, following them with the picture, and was now ready to
help his chums.

"Great Jehosophat!" cried Tom. "So I have!"

He yanked off the garment and tossed it into a corner. Then, clad only
in his pajamas, he started to carry the old armchair to the window. It
was almost too much for him, and Sid came to his aid.

"Let that go, and get the sofa out first!" cried Phil. "The chair can
fall on that. Say, listen to the row!"

Out in the corridor could be heard confused shouts, and the sound of
students running to and fro. Every now and then some one would cry
"Fire!" and the rush would be renewed.

"The whole place must be going!" cried Sid. "Hurry up, Tom, shove it
out! Maybe we can save some other things."

"Better save ourselves first!" exclaimed Phil. "The stairs and halls are
all ablaze!" He came back from a look into the corridor choking and
gasping. "We've got to jump for it! Shove that chair out, then the sofa,
and pile the bedding on top. That will make a place to land on."

"Here she goes!" shouted Tom, and he and Sid shoved their precious old
chair from the window. It fell with a great crash to the ground, two
stories below.

"Broken to bits!" said Tom with a groan. "Now for the sofa. There'll be
nothing left of it."

They had raised it to the window sill, after much effort, and were
balancing it there while recovering their breaths. Their room was
filled with the heavy fumes of smoke, and the noise in the corridor
was increasing.

"Let her go!" cried Phil. "Lively, now, if we want to get out alive!"

But just as the three chums were about to release their hold on the
sofa, Mr. Snell, one of the under-janitors of the college, and a sort of
scout or spy of the proctor's, ran into the room.

"There's no fire! There's no danger!" he called. "Don't throw anything
out."

"No fire?" questioned Tom.

"No. Some of the students burned red fire in the halls, that's all,"
went on Mr. Snell. "There's no danger. The proctor sent me around to
explain. It's only some illuminating red fire."

Tom, Sid and Phil looked at each other, as they stood at the window,
holding their precious sofa. The clouds of smoke were rolling away, and
the noise was lessening. Tom looked out of the casement, and, in the
semi-darkness below, saw the chair they had thrown out. Just then, from
below, a crowd of freshmen, who had perpetrated the trick, began singing
"Scotland's Burning."

Tom glanced at his chums. Then he uttered one word:

"Stung!"

"Good and proper!" added Phil.

"By a nest of fresh hornets!" commented Sid wrathfully.

The scout withdrew. Phil looked at his trousers, and then he began
slowly to take them off. Tom took one more look out of the window.

"They're jumping all over our chair," he said.

"They are? The young imps!" cried Sid. "Come on to the rescue! Get into
some togs and capture a few freshmen." Then, as he realized that he had
tossed his clothes out of the window, he groaned. "You fellows will have
to go," he said. "I haven't any duds."

"They're parading around with your best go-to-meeting suit," observed
Phil. Sid groaned again.

"Hurry, fellows, if you love me," he said.

"There's a crowd of sophs after 'em now," added Tom, and so it proved.
The freshmen beat a retreat, and some of our friends' classmates formed
a guard around the things on the ground.

The three chums were not the only ones who had tossed articles out of
their windows in the moments of excitement. Many possessions of the
sophomores were on the ground below, and, now that the scare was over,
they began collecting them. Tom and Phil managed, with the help of some
of their classmates, to get Sid's garments and the chair back to their
room. The chair was in sad shape, though, and Sid groaned in anguish as
he viewed it.

"Oh, quit!" begged Phil, as he tossed Sid's clothes on the bed. "We can
fix it up again."

"It'll never be the same," wailed Sid as he tried it. "There was a place
that just fit my back, and now----"

He leaped up with a howl, and held his hand to the fleshy part of his
leg.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom.

"A broken spring stuck me," explained Sid, who was too lightly clad to
indulge in indiscriminate sitting about. "Oh, those freshies! What can
we do to get square with them?"

"That's more like it," said Tom. "We've got to pay them back in some
way, and the sooner the better."

It was an hour or more before matters had quieted down in the west
dormitory. From various sophomores who came into their room to exchange
notes, Tom, Phil and Sid learned that the freshmen had executed a
well-organized fire scare by the simple process of burning in each
corridor some of the powder extensively used on Fourth of July, or in
political parades.

"Well, there's no use talking about what they did to us," said Ed Kerr.
"The question is, what can we do to them? They certainly put it all over
us."

"Dutch, you ought to be able to suggest something," said Tom. "You're
always up to some trick. Give us one to play on the freshies."

"Sure," agreed Dutch. "Let me think."

Sid arose and turned out the light.

"What's that for?" asked Dutch.

"So you can think better. I can, in the dark. Go ahead, now. Let's have
something good."

Dutch was silent for a few minutes, and then he proposed a plan which
was received with exclamations of delight.

"The very thing!" cried Tom. "I wonder we didn't think of it before.
We'll be just in time. Now, maybe we can make them laugh on the other
side of their heads."

The next morning there were triumphant looks on the faces of the
freshmen. They had played a good joke on their traditional enemies, the
sophomores, and felt elated over it. But, in accordance with a plan they
had adopted the night after Dutch revealed his plan, the sophomores made
no retort to the taunts of their enemies. And there was no lack of
railery. Gathered on the walk about Booker Memorial Chapel, whence for
many terms freshmen had, by traditional college custom, been barred, the
first-year lads made all sorts of jokes concerning the scrabble that had
ensued among the sophomores when the cry of fire was raised.

"And we have to stand it!" exclaimed Tom, gritting his teeth.

"For a couple of days," added Sid. "But it strikes me, old chap, that
last term you played the rôle of the aforesaid freshies to perfection."

"Oh, that was different. But let them wait. We'll put the kibosh on
their fun in a few days. Has Dutch got the stuff?"

"Hush!" exclaimed Phil. "The least hint will spoil the scheme of
revenge! Revenge! Revenge!" he hissed, after the manner of a stage
villain. "We will have our re-venge-e-e-e-e!"

It was the night of the freshman dance, an annual affair that loomed
large in the annals of the first-year students and their girl friends. It
was to be held in a hall in Haddonfield, and many were the precautions
taken by the committee to prevent any of the hated sophomores from
attending, or getting to the place beforehand, lest they might, by some
untoward act, "put it on the blink," as Holly Cross used to say.

The hall was tastefully arranged with flowers and a bank of palms,
behind which the orchestra was to be hidden. About the balcony were
draped the college colors, with the class hues of the freshmen
intermingled.

Early on the evening of the dance, Garvey Gerhart, who was chairman of
the committee on arrangements, left the college on his way to town to
see that all was in readiness.

"Doesn't he look pretty!" exclaimed Phil, who, with a group of
sophomores, stood near Booker Chapel.

"I wonder if he has his dress suit on?" asked Tom.

"We ought to see if his hair is parted," put in Sid. "Freshmen don't
know how to look after themselves. Have you a clean pocket handkerchief,
Algernon?" and he spoke the last in a mocking tone.

"Look out; there may be another fire," retorted Gerhart with a grin, and
the sophomores could only grit their teeth. They knew the freshmen still
had the laugh on them.

"But not for long?" muttered Phil. "Is Dutch all ready?"

"All ready," answered that worthy for himself. "We'll slip off to town
as soon as it's dusk."

"Think you'll have any trouble in getting in?" asked Ed Kerr.

"Not a bit. I bribed one of the doorkeepers. Be on hand outside to
listen to the fun."

A little before the first arrivals at the freshman dance had reached the
hall, a figure might have been seen moving quickly about the ballroom in
the dim illumination from the half-turned-down lights. The figure went
about in circles, with curious motions of the hands, and then, after a
survey of the place and a silent laugh, withdrew.

The music began a dreamy waltz, following the opening march. Freshmen
led their fair partners out on the floor, and began whirling them about.
The lights twinkled, there was the sweet smell of flowers, fair faces
of the girls looked up into the proud, flushed ones of the youths.
Chaperons looked on approvingly. The music became a trifle faster. The
dance was in full swing.

Suddenly a girl gave a frightened little cry.

"What's the matter?" asked her partner.

"My shoes! They--they seem to be sticking to the floor. I--I can't
dance!"

From all over the room arose similar cries of dismay from the girls and
exclamations of disgust from the boys. The dancers went slower and
slower. It was an effort to glide about, and some could scarcely lift
their feet. The floor seemed to hold them as a magnet does a bit of
iron. Garvey Gerhart, releasing his pretty partner, leaned over and
touched the floor.

"It's as sticky as molasses!" he cried in dismay.



CHAPTER XX

PHIL GETS A TELEGRAM


The music stopped with a discord. A strange spell seemed thrown over the
dancers. Some, who had come to a stop, now tried to move, and found that
their feet were fast to the floor. It was an effort to lift them. The
surface that had seemed well waxed was now as sticky as if glue had been
poured over it. To walk was almost impossible; to dance, out of the
question.

"Maybe it's only in a few places, and we can scrape it off," suggested
Will Foster, a chum of Gerhart. "Let's try."

He endeavored, with his knife, to remove some of the sticky stuff, but
he might as well have tried to dig up a board in the floor.

"What is it?" asked Gerhart's partner.

"I don't know," he answered ruefully. "Something very sticky has gotten
on the floor."

"Maybe some of the waiters spilled ice cream or coffee, or some candy
got there," she suggested.

"This is stickier than any of those things," spoke Gerhart. "I--I
guess some one has played a trick on us."

"A trick?"

"Yes; the sophomores. I should have been more on the lookout, but I
didn't think they could get in. I told the men at the door not to let
any one in who didn't have a freshman pin. But--well, we'll wait a bit
and see if it dries up," he concluded.

But the stuff on the floor didn't dry up. Instead, it became more
sticky. The ballroom was like one big sheet of adhesive flypaper, and
the dancers, walking about, felt their shoes pull up with queer little
noises every time they took a step. They tried to dance once more, but
it was a miserable failure. One might as well have tried to waltz or
two-step on the sands of the seashore.

Then from a window there sounded the old song: "Clarence McFadden, He
Wanted to Waltz." The chagrined dancers turned to the casement, to
behold a circle of mocking faces. Gerhart looked, too.

[Illustration: "Clarence McFadden, He Wanted to Waltz"]

"The sophs!" he cried, as he caught sight of Tom, Phil, Sid, Dutch
Housenlager and several others.

"At your service!" cried Phil. "Guess you'll have to dance to slow music
to-night!" And then, to show that it was in revenge for the fire scare,
the sophomores sang: "Scotland's Burning."

"It worked to perfection, Dutch. However did you manage it?" asked Tom,
as the sophomores, having satisfied themselves that the freshman dance
had been spoiled, walked back to college.

"Easy," answered the fun-loving student. "I mixed up a sticky preparation
of glue, varnish, gum and so on, made it into a powder, and put it
in alcohol. Then I sneaked in past the doorkeeper I had bribed, and
sprinkled the stuff all over the floor. There was no color to it, and
they didn't notice it. The alcohol kept it from sticking until after the
march, and then, when the alcohol evaporated, it left the gum ready to do
its work."

"And it did it," commented Sid.

It certainly did, for the disconcerted freshman and the pretty girls
soon left the hall. It was impossible to dance on the floor until the
sticky stuff had been scraped off.

"It was rather a brutal trick, after all," said Tom to Phil a little
later, when the three were in their room. "It would have been all right
on the freshies alone, but the girls--they had to suffer, too."

"Of course," said Sid. "Why not? _Secundum naturam_, you know, according
to the course of nature it had to be. The good with the bad. The
freshies brought it on themselves, eh, Phil?"

"Oh, I suppose so," replied the quarter-back, who was busy with paper
and pencil. "Still, it was a bit rough on the lassies. There were some
pretty ones----"

"Oh, you fellows and the girls!" exclaimed Sid in disgust. "You make me
sick!"

"That's all right," went on Tom easily. "You'll get yours some day, and
then we'll see----"

"Hello, where'd that picture come from?" asked Sid, pointing to another
photograph on the wall beside those of Ruth and Madge. Tom blushed a
bit, and did not answer. Phil looked up and exclaimed:

"Why, it's another picture of my sister! She must have had some new ones
taken. Where did it come from?"

"She gave it to me," explained Tom, and his shoelace seemed suddenly to
have come unfastened, so it was necessary to stoop over to tie it.

"Hum!" murmured Phil, with a queer look at his chum's red face. "She
didn't say anything to me about it. But if you're going to add to our
collection, Tom, I guess it's up to me to get another one, too."

"Whose will you get now?" asked Sid. "Haven't you got enough girls'
faces stuck up around here? Do you want another?"

"Not another," spoke Phil slowly, "but another of the same one. Miss
Tyler promised me one of her new photographs."

"She did?" cried Tom, and he turned quickly.

"Yes; have you any objections?" and Phil gazed straight at Tom.

"No--oh, no. Of course not," he added hastily, "only I didn't know----
What are you doing?" he asked rather suddenly, changing the subject, as
he saw Phil's paper and pencil.

"I'm working on a new football play," replied Phil, and he, too, seemed
glad that the subject was changed.

"That's more like it," commented Sid. "Now you're talking sense. Let's
hear it."

"It's this way," explained Phil, as he showed his chums what he had
drawn. "It's a fake tackle run, and a pass to the right half-back.
Nothing particularly new about it, as it's often used, but my plan is
to work it immediately after we run off a play of left-tackle through
right-tackle and right-end. After that play has been pulled off, it
will look as if we were trying to repeat it, and we'll catch the other
fellows off their guard. In this play, the left-tackle, after the
signal, turns back and takes the ball from me. He passes the ball to the
right-half, who turns to the left for a run around our left-end. Our
full-back charges on the opposing left-tackle, crossing in front of our
right-half to better conceal the ball. The left half-back helps the
left-tackle to make his quick turn, and then blocks off the opposing
right-end, while I help make interference for the right-half, who's got
the ball."

"That sounds good," commented Tom. "Go over it again."

Which Phil did, and his two chums both declared it ought to work well.
They tried it in practice against the scrub next day, after Coach
Lighton and Captain Holly Cross had given their approval to it. The play
operated like a charm, and was good for a touch-down. It completely
fooled the second eleven.

"It remains to be seen whether it will do the same thing against another
team," said the coach. "But we'll try it Saturday against the Dodville
Prep School. Now, boys, line up, and we'll run through it again? Also
the forward pass and the on-side kick."

The players were in the midst of a scrimmage, and Joe Jackson had just
made a fine run, when Wallops was seen coming across the gridiron. The
messenger had an envelope in his hand, and at the sight of him Phil
Clinton turned pale.

"Get back, Wallops!" cried the coach. "You're in the way."

"I have a telegram for Mr. Clinton," said the messenger.

"Oh, all right. Come on."

Phil's hand were trembling so he could hardly open the message. He
read it at a glance. Tom went close to him, and put his hand on his
shoulder.

"Is it--is it----" he began.

"Dad says to hold myself in readiness to come at any time," said Phil
slowly.

There was silence among the players, all of whom knew of the serious
illness of Phil's mother. Coach Lighton went up to the quarter-back and
said:

"Well, we won't practice any more to-day. It's too bad, Clinton."

Phil swallowed two or three times. He forced back a mistiness that was
gathering like a film over his eyes. He thrust the telegram into his
jacket.

"Let's go on with the practice," he said sturdily. "We aren't perfect in
that fake tackle run yet, and I want to use it against Dodville."

It was a plucky answer, and many a hardy player on the Randall eleven
felt a new liking for the quarter-back as he went to his place behind
Snail Looper, who stooped to receive the ball.



CHAPTER XXI

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS


The practice was over. Phil stuck to it until he had, with the
assistance of the coach and the captain, drilled the 'varsity into an
almost perfect running of the trick play. Of course, how it would work
against fierce opponents was another matter. But, in spite of the shock
engendered by the receipt of the telegram, Phil would not give up until
the men fairly "snapped" into place, after he had given the signal for
the fake tackle run and pass to the half-back. Now he and Tom were on
their way to their room.

"What are you going to do, Phil?" asked Tom.

"I don't know," was the despondent answer. "I--of course, I'll have to
go when I get word."

"Do you think she's worse?"

"I'm afraid so; or else they're going to operate. But don't let's talk
about it. It breaks me all up."

"I should think it would. I don't see how you could stay in practice
after you got the message."

"I felt as if I had to, Tom. Of course, I know I'm only a small factor
in the eleven----"

"I think you're a pretty big one," interrupted the left-end
enthusiastically.

"Well, thank you for that; but I mean relatively. I'm only one of eleven
players, and my place could be filled. Still, I do flatter myself that
I've got the team into some kind of machine-like precision, which is
very needful in a game. I don't mean that I've done it all alone, for I
haven't. Every man has done more than his share, and with a coach like
Mr. Lighton, and a captain like Holly Cross, a fellow can do a lot. But
I'm a cog in the wheels of the machine, and you know how it is when you
put a new wheel in a bit of apparatus. It may be just as good, or better
than the old one, but it's got to take time to work off the rough spots
and fit in smoothly.

"That's the way I feel. I want to stay in the game and at practice as
long as I can, for when I drop out, and a new quarter-back comes in,
it's bound to throw the playing off the least bit, and I'm not patting
myself on the back when I say that, I hope."

"Indeed, you're not! But it must be nervous work running a team when you
know--well, er----" and Tom stopped in some confusion.

"I know," said Phil simply. "But you can do lots of things when you try
hard. I'm going to do this. I'll hold myself in readiness to jump down
to Palm Beach when I get the word, but until then I'm going to stick by
the team."

There was a look on Phil's face that Tom had never seen there before. It
was as if some inner power was urging him along the difficult path that
lay before him. He seemed to be drawing on a hidden reserve supply of
grit and pluck, and, as he passed up the stairs, with an easy, swaying
motion of his athletic body, Tom could not help but admiring his
good-looking, well-formed chum.

"I--I hope nothing happens to take him away before we play our last
game," whispered the 'varsity pitcher. "He's the best quarter Randall
ever had, if what the old-timers say is true. If we don't win the
championship I'll miss my guess."

He kept on up the stairs after Phil. In the corridor stood Ford Fenton.
Phil nodded at him, but did not feel like speaking. His fingers were
clasped around the telegram in his pocket.

"Hello!" cried Fenton. "I saw you at practice. That's a dandy trick you
worked, Phil. My uncle says that----"

"Ford," began Tom gravely, "have you ever had smallpox?"

"Smallpox? My good gracious, no! You don't mean to say that there's a
case of it here?"

"We haven't been exposed to smallpox," went on Tom, "but we are both
suffering from a severe attack of Uncleitis, so if you don't want to
catch it you'd better keep away from us."

"Hu! I guess you think that's a joke!" exclaimed Ford as he turned and
walked away. Then Tom and Phil entered their room.

Something in the look of their faces attracted the attention of Sid.

"What's the matter?" he asked, despite Tom's frantic gestures behind
Phil's back, which motions were made with a view to keeping Sid quiet.

"I'm afraid I'll have to go--go where my mother is, any minute," said
Phil brokenly. "I--I guess I'll pack up so--so's to be ready."

Then the tension broke, and the nervous force that had girt him about
when he was on the gridiron gave way, and he sobbed brokenly. Tom
instantly began rearranging the books on the table, where they were
piled in artistic confusion, and raised such a dust that Sid sneezed.
The latter was in the old armchair, which had been mended, after a
fashion, following the throwing of it from the window in the fire scare.
As Sid tried to get up from the depths of it, there came a crash, and
the antique piece of furniture settled heavily on one side, like a ship
with a bad list to port.

"There you go!" cried Tom, glad to have a chance to speak sharply. "What
are you trying to do--smash it all to pieces? Can't you get out of a
chair without busting it?"

"I--I didn't mean to," spoke Sid so gently, and in such a contrast to
Tom's fiery words, that Phil could not restrain an exclamatory chuckle.
It was just the thing needed to change the current that was setting too
strongly toward sadness, and a moment later the three were carefully
examining the chair.

"It's only a leg broken," said Phil at length, and during the inspection
he kept his face in the shadow. "I can fix it to-morrow," he went on,
and when he arose he was himself again.

"Better put an iron brace on, if Sid is going to do double back
somersaults in it," went on Tom with simulated indignity. "This isn't a
barn, Sid. It's a gentlemen's room."

"Oh, you shut up!" cried Sid, and then the chums were more natural.

Phil arranged that night to leave college at once, in case further bad
news was received, and he also communicated with Ruth, planning to take
her with him. But there was no need, for in the morning another message
was received, saying that Mrs. Clinton had somewhat recovered from the
relapse that threatened.

Phil said little, but there was a different air about him all that day,
and when he went into practice he actually seemed to carry the team
along on his shoulders, so that they crumbled the scrub opposition into
nothingness, and made five touch-downs in the two short halves they
played.

Since the episode of the freshman dance the first-year students had
"sung small" whenever the sophomores were about. It was the most
humiliating trick that had been "pulled off in so many years that the
memory of man runneth not to the contrary," as Holly Cross put it in one
of his favorite quotations. Gerhart was much downcast at first, for, as
he was in charge of the affair, it was considered a sort of reflection
on his ability. And he laid it all to Tom, Sid, Phil and Dutch
Housenlager.

"You wait; I'll get even with you some day," he had said to Tom.

"We're perfectly willing," answered Tom good-naturedly. "If you think
you can put anything over our home plate, why go ahead, and more power
to ye, as Bricktop Molloy would say."

"You just wait," was all Gerhart answered.

It was the night before the game with Dodville Preparatory School, which
institution had an eleven not to be despised. They had met Randall on
the diamond and were anxious to come to conclusions with them on the
gridiron. Following some light practice, during which the fake tackle
run and pass to half-back was worked to perfection, Sid, Tom and Phil
went for a stroll along Sunny River. The placid stream had an attraction
in the early evening that was absent at other times, and the three
chums felt its influence as they walked along the banks.

"Do you feel nervous about to-morrow's game?" asked Tom of Phil.

"Not as much so as if it was against Boxer Hall," replied the
quarter-back. "Of course I--I shall be worrying a bit for fear I'll get
a message from Florida, but I'm going to try to forget it. I want to
roll up a big score against Dodville."

"And against Boxer Hall, too," added Sid.

"Of course. But that's some time off, and we'll improve in the meanwhile.
I fancy the game to-morrow will develop some weak spots that will need
strengthening."

They walked and talked for about an hour, and it was dark when they
returned to their room.

"No study to-night," remarked Phil, as he began to disrobe. "Me for
pounding the pillow at once, if not sooner."

"Same here," came from Tom, and he began taking off his things. "Last
fellow to undress puts the light out," he added, and then there was a
race. Tom and Phil leaped into bed almost at once, and Sid, leaving
the light turned on, was scarcely a second behind them. There was a
protesting howl from Phil and Tom at their chum's perfidy, but the next
instant Tom uttered a yell.

"Wow! Ouch! Something's in my bed!" he cried as he leaped out.

"And in mine, too!" came from Sid. "It's a snake!" and reaching down
between the sheets, he pulled out a long reptile.

"Cæsar's Haywagon!" cried Phil. "I've drawn something, too!" and with
that he held up a mudturtle.

"Ten thousand thistles!" yelled Tom as he began pulling off his pajamas.
"I'm full of needles!"



CHAPTER XXII

A CHANGE IN SIGNALS


The scene in the room was one of confusion. Tom was dancing about,
rubbing first here and then there on his anatomy. The snake which Sid
held was wiggling as if in protest at being suspended by the tail, and
was tying itself into all sorts of complicated knots and geometrical
figures.

"Look out, it may bite you!" cried Phil, who was holding the mudturtle
by the tail, the feet of the animal working back and forth in a vain
effort to get a grip on the air.

"It isn't a poisonous snake," declared Sid, who was something of a
naturalist. "But I wonder who played this trick on us? What ails you,
Tom?"

"Yes; what are you wiggling around in that fashion for, son?" inquired
Phil, who began to laugh, now that the extent of the scare was evident.

"Wiggle! I guess you would, too, if some one had filled your bed with
needles that came right through your pajamas," replied Tom.

"Needles?" from Sid.

"Needles?" reiterated Phil.

"Yes, needles; ten million of them, by the way I feel!"

Phil placed the mudturtle in the wash basin, where it vainly tried to
climb up the slippery porcelain sides. Then he went over to Tom's bed.

"There are no needles here," he said.

"No? What are they, then?" demanded Tom, continuing to rub himself.

"Chestnut burrs," replied his chum, after a more careful inspection.
"Some one has taken the stickers off a lot of chestnut burrs and
scattered them in your bed. No wonder they went through your pajamas.
I'd rather have the mudturtle than them."

"Or a snake," added Sid. "I wonder who did it?"

Phil pulled back the covers from Tom's bed. At the foot, between the
sheets, was a piece of paper. The quarter-back made a grab for it and
read:

     "Compliments of the freshmen. Maybe you won't be so smart next
     time."

"The freshmen!" cried Tom. "We'll make them smart for this!"

"They've made you smart already," commented Sid, as he put his snake
in a pasteboard box, and carefully closed it with a weight on top. "I
guess they got ahead of us this time."

"This is Gerhart's writing," went on Phil, looking closely at the note.
"He originated the scheme. Let's see if any other fellows have suffered."

They partly dressed, and stole silently to the rooms of some of their
classmates. No one else had felt the vengeance of the freshmen, and our
friends concluded that the performance had been arranged for their
special benefit, on account of the friction they had had with Gerhart.

"How am I going to sleep in that bed to-night?" asked Tom ruefully, when
they had returned to their room. "It's like being in a beehive."

"I'll show you," said Phil, and he carefully took off the sheets,
folding them up so that the chestnut stickers would not be scattered.
"You can do without sheets to-night, I guess."

"I guess I'll have to," went on Tom. "But I'm going to get another pair
of pajamas. Those feel too much like a new flannel shirt," and he went
to his trunk, which he began ransacking.

"What can we do to get square?" asked Sid, as he again prepared to get
into bed. "We've got to teach Gerhart a lesson."

"That's what," agreed Tom. "We'll discuss it in the morning."

But it was not so easy as they had supposed to think up a joke to play
on the inventive freshman, that would be commensurate with the trick he
had perpetrated on them. Besides, Gerhart kept pretty well with his own
crowd of classmates, and, as there was safety in numbers, and as our
three friends did not want a general class fight, they were, to a
certain extent, handicapped. By Gerhart's grins they knew that he was
aware of their discomfiture of the night previous. Tom was sorely
tempted to come to fistic conclusions with the freshman, but Sid and
Phil dissuaded him, promising to unite with him on some scheme of
vengeance. The mudturtle and snake were retained by Sid, who had a small
collection of live things.

"We must keep this to ourselves," suggested Phil that morning, as they
started for chapel. "Only our own fellows must hear of it."

"Sure," agreed Tom and Sid, but they soon found, from the greetings of
the juniors, seniors and freshmen, that the story was all over the
school. In fact, to this day the yarn is handed down in the annals of
Randall College as an example of how a freshman, single-handed, played a
joke on three sophomores; for it developed that Gerhart had done the
trick alone.

It was a day or two after this, when Tom and Phil were walking along the
river after football practice, that, down near the bridge, they saw
Gerhart just ahead of them.

"There's a chance to take a fall out of him," suggested Tom, whose
appetite for vengeance was still unappeased.

"That's so," agreed Phil. "Let's catch up to him and toss him into the
river."

They quickened their steps, but a moment later they saw a young man come
from the bushes at one end of the bridge and join Gerhart. The two
walked briskly on, and, as Tom and Phil could see, they were engaged in
earnest conversation.

"We can't do anything now," spoke Tom. "That's a stranger. He's not of
Randall College. Look at his cap."

"He's from some college," declared Phil. "That cap seems familiar. I
wonder who he is."

"Give it up," spoke Tom. "We might as well go back now."

They were about to turn when suddenly the lad with Gerhart swung about
and made a violent gesture of dissent. Then Tom and Phil heard him say:

"I'll have nothing to do with such a dirty trick, and you ought to be
ashamed to make the offer!"

"Oh, is that so?" asked Gerhart, and he did not seem nonplussed. "Well,
maybe some other fellow will be glad to get what I have to offer."

"I don't believe it!" exclaimed the other. "I'm done with you, and that
settles it," and he crashed into the bushes and disappeared, leaving
Gerhart alone on the road.

"Did you see who that was?" asked Tom, looking at Phil.

"No; I couldn't make out his face."

"It was George Stoddard, captain of the Boxer Hall eleven."

"That's right," agreed Phil. "I knew I'd seen him before. But he didn't
look as he used to in a baseball uniform. I wonder what he and Gerhart
had on the carpet."

"Oh, probably Gerhart wanted him to go to some sporty gambling affair. I
hear he plays quite a high game at cards."

"Who?"

"Gerhart. Lots of the freshmen of our college have found his pace too
fast for them. He and Langridge are thicker than ever. Probably Gerhart
wanted some new easy-marks to win from, and is trying to take up with
the Boxer Hall boys."

"Shouldn't wonder. But Stoddard turned him down cold."

"Yes; didn't make any bones about it. Well, I s'pose we could catch up
to Gerhart now. But what's the use?"

"That's right. Hello! There's Langridge joining him now, Phil," and as
Tom spoke they saw the sophomore come from a side path and walk along
with the freshman. The two began talking earnestly, and from the manner
of Gerhart it seemed that something had gone wrong, and that he was
endeavoring to explain.

Tom and Phil forgot the little scene of the afternoon when they got
down to studying that night, and as lessons were getting to be pretty
"stiff," to quote Sid, it was necessary to put in considerable time over
books. The three "boned" away until midnight, and after an inspection of
their beds, to make sure that no contraband articles were between the
sheets, they turned out the light and were soon slumbering.

The next day Phil was turned back in Greek, and had to write out a
difficult exercise.

"Tell Mr. Lighton I'll be ready for practice in half an hour," he said
to Tom, as the latter hurried off to get into his football togs. "I'll
come as soon as Pitchfork lets me off."

"All right," answered his chum.

When Tom got to the gridiron he found most of the 'varsity eleven there.
Coach Lighton was in earnest conversation with Captain Holly Cross.

"Where's Phil?" asked the coach as Tom came up. The left-end explained.

"Come into the gym, fellows," went on the coach. "I have something
important to tell you. Phil will be along soon."

Vainly wondering what was in the wind, and whether, by any chance, it
concerned Phil, Tom followed the sturdy lads across the field. Phil
joined the throng before the gymnasium was reached.

"What's up?" he panted. "Aren't we going to practice?"

"Yes," replied the coach; "but first we've got to arrange for a new set
of signals."

"New signals?" cried half a dozen.

"Yes. I have just learned, in an anonymous communication, that an offer
was made to a rival college to sell our signals. The offer, I am glad to
say, was indignantly refused; but if some one is in possession of our
system, we must get a new one. Now, if you will come in here I will
change the signals, and we will then go to practice."

Tom and Phil instinctively looked at each other. The memory of the scene
between Gerhart and Stoddard, and Langridge's later presence with the
freshman, came to them both at once.



CHAPTER XXIII

BATTERING BOXER HALL


There was a little buzz of talk, following the announcement of the
coach. Each player looked at his neighbor, as if to learn whether or not
he was the guilty one. But Mr. Lighton at once called a halt to this.

"I will say," he continued, "that no member of the 'varsity team,
nor has any substitute, been guilty of this mean, sneaking piece of
business. I don't even know who it was. I don't want to know. I don't
know to whom the offer was made. I don't want to know. But we are going
to protect ourselves, and change the signals."

It was a comparatively simple matter, the way the signals had been
devised, to so change them so that another team, even with a copy of the
originals, would have found it impossible to know in advance what the
plays were to be.

Half an hour was spent in going over the new combinations while the
team was in the gymnasium, and then they went out on the field to play
against the scrub. It was a little awkward at first for Phil to run the
eleven under the new system, and he made one or two blunders. But the
scrub was beaten by a good score.

"You'll do better to-morrow," commented the coach. "It is a little
troublesome, I know, to use the new letters and figures, but we'll
practice on them constantly until we meet Boxer Hall on Saturday."

This was to be the first game of the season with Boxer Hall, the
college, which, with Fairview Institute and Randall, formed the Tonoka
Lake League. The Randallites were on edge for it, and they had need to
be, for Boxer had a fine eleven, better than in many years.

"We'll have all we want to do to beat them," said Phil to a crowd of his
chums after practice one day. "They're in better shape than Fairview
was."

"So are we," declared Tom. "We're going to win."

"I hope you do," remarked Ford Fenton. "They have a peculiar way of
playing the game in the first half. My uncle says----"

"Wow!" It was a simultaneous howl from the crowd of lads. They sometimes
did this when Ford's reminiscences got on their nerves. The lad with the
uncle turned away.

"I was going to put you on to some of their tricks," he continued in
injured tones. "Now I won't."

"Write it out and hand it to Holly Cross," suggested Phil.

"Well, Phil," remarked Tom to his chum on Saturday, about an hour before
the big game, when the team was dressing in the Randall gymnasium, "do
you feel as if we were going to win?"

"I certainly do," spoke the quarter-back as he laced his canvas jacket.
"I never felt in better shape. Only for one thing----" He paused
suddenly, but Tom knew what he meant. It was the fear that, in the midst
of the game, he might get bad news about his mother. Since receiving the
telegram advising him to be ready to leave for Florida on short notice,
Phil and his sister had had word that their mother had rallied somewhat,
but that no permanent hope was held out for her recovery.

"Try not to think about it, old man," advised Tom.

"I--I do try," responded Phil. "But it--it's hard work," and he bent
over to tie his shoe.

Out on the gridiron trotted the Randall players. They were received with
a burst of cheers, led by Bean Perkins, whose voice was more than ever
like a foghorn.

"Give 'em the 'Conquer or Die' song," he called.

"No; wait until they need it," suggested Sid Henderson, who was in the
grandstand. "Let's sing 'We're Going to Make a Touch-down Now!' That'll
be better."

The verses and chorus welled out from several hundred lusty throats,
and the Randall team, which was at quick practice, looked up in
appreciation.

"I wonder if any of the Fairview girls will be here," said Tom as he and
Phil were passing the ball back and forth.

"I don't know about all of 'em," replied the quarter-back, "but Ruth and
Madge are coming."

"Since when have you been calling her 'Madge'?" asked Tom, with a sharp
look at his chum.

"Since she gave me permission," was the answer, and Phil booted the
pigskin well down the field.

"And how long is that?"

"What difference does it make to you?" and there was a shade of annoyance
in Phil's voice.

"Nothing, only I--er--well---- There they come!" cried Tom suddenly, but
it was not to the girls that he referred. The Boxer Hall team had just
trotted out, to be received with a round of cheers from their partisans.

"Husky-looking lot," observed Ed Kerr, as he and the other Randall
players gazed critically at their opponents.

"They are that," conceded Bricktop Molloy, one of the biggest guards
who ever supported a center.

"I'm afraid they'll do us," came from Snail Looper, who was not of a
very hopeful turn of mind.

"Nonsense! Don't talk that way, me lad!" objected Bricktop, lapsing
into brogue, as he always did when very much in earnest. "Just because
they're a lot of big brutes doesn't argue that we can't smash through
them. _Omnis sequitur_, you know."

"Oh, you and your Latin!" exclaimed Tom. "Don't we get enough of that in
class."

"It's a fine language," went on Molloy, who was a good classical
scholar. "But suppose we line up and run a bit."

The practice was over, the preliminaries had all been arranged, the new
ball was brought out and handed to Boxer Hall, for Captain Stoddard had
won the toss, and elected to kick off. The yellow spheroid was placed on
the center line, on top of a little mound of earth.

"Are you all ready?" asked the referee, and Captain Holly Cross cast a
quick eye on his team, which, spread out on their field, was like an
aggregation of eager foxhounds, waiting for the start.

"Ready," answered Holly.

"Ready," responded Stoddard.

The whistle sounded shrilly, and a moment later Pinkey Davenport's good
right toe had met the pigskin with a resounding "thump," and the ball
was sailing toward the Randall goal.

Jerry Jackson caught it and began scuttling back toward the center of
the field. Tom, with Ed Kerr and Bricktop Molloy, formed interference
for him, and with their efficient aid Jerry rushed the leather back for
thirty yards, or to within five yards of the middle of the gridiron.
There he was downed with a vicious tackle by Dave Ogden, who had managed
to get through between Tom and Bricktop, though they flung themselves at
him. Jerry lay still for a moment after falling, with the ball tightly
clasped in his arms. Captain Cross ran to him.

"Hurt?" he asked anxiously.

"No. Only--only a little wind knocked out of me," answered the plucky
left half-back. "I'm all right now."

"Line up, fellows!" cried Holly, and Phil began rattling off a string of
numbers and letters.

It was a signal for Kindlings to take the ball through tackle, and, as
he got it, the right half-back leaped for the hole that was opened for
him. Right through he plunged, staggering along, half pulled, half
shoved, until it was impossible to gain another inch, and Kindlings was
buried out of sight under an avalanche of players. But the required gain
had been made, and Phil signaled for another try at the Boxer Hall
line. Captain Stoddard was vainly calling on his men to brace and hold
their opponents, while from the grandstand came wild cheers at the first
sign of prowess on the part of Randall.

This time Holly Cross went through guard and tackle for a fine gain, and
next he was sent between right-tackle and end. So far there had not been
a halt in the progress of bucking the line, but when, on the next play,
Ed Kerr was called on to go through between left-end and tackle, he felt
as if he had hit a number of bags of sand. There was not a foot of gain,
and Ed barely saved the ball, which bounced from his arms; but he fell
on it like a flash.

"Don't try there again," whispered Kerr to Phil, as he took his position
once more. Phil, however, had seen that the Boxer Hall line was weak,
and he determined for another try at it, but in a different place. This
time Jerry Jackson was called on for a run around right-end, and so
successful was it that he went to the twenty-five-yard line before he
was heavily thrown. The tackling of the Boxer Hall lads was severe when
they got a chance at it.

Phil, in a flash, determined for a field goal trial. The chances were in
favor of it, for there was no wind, and the position was right. Besides,
if it was successful it would add immensely to the spirit of his team,
and give them a rest from the hard line bucking.

Quickly he gave the signal, and Holly Cross ran to the thirty-yard line
for a drop kick. The ball came back and was cleanly caught. The Randall
line held, and Holly booted the pigskin in fine shape, but with a groan
almost of anguish the players and supporters of the college by the river
saw the ball strike the cross-bar and bounce back. The attempt had
failed.

The leather was brought out to the twenty-five-yard line, and Boxer Hall
prepared for her turn at it. On the first try they gained fifteen yards
through a hole that was ripped between Grasshopper Backus and Dutch
Housenlager. They then gathered in ten more by a run around Tom's end,
though he made a desperate effort to stop the man with the ball.

"Right through 'em, now, fellows!" called Captain Stoddard to his
players. "Rip 'em up!"

"Hold 'em! Hold 'em!" besought Holly Cross.

And hold the Randallites did. The wave of attack fell back in a sort of
froth of players as Pinkey Davenport tried in vain to gain through
center. Snail Looper was like a great rock. Once more there was a try at
the line, Dave Ogden being sent in with a rush. But he only gained three
yards, and it was inevitable that Boxer would punt. The backs of the
Randall team ran toward their goal, but Boxer worked a pretty trick,
and on a double pass made fifteen yards before the man was stopped.

"That's the stuff!" cried the Boxer coach, and he ran on the field to
whisper to Captain Stoddard.

But the thoughtless action of the coach brought its punishment, for
Boxer was penalized ten yards on account of their trainer coming on the
field without permission. There was much kicking at this, but the
officials insisted, and it stood. Then, with a net gain of less than was
needed, and on the last down, Boxer had to kick. Holly Cross got the
ball and rushed it well back before he was downed.

So far the playing had been pretty even. Though Boxer was a bit weak on
defense, they played a snappy game, and seemed to be able to outgeneral
their opponents. Now Randall had another chance to show what they could
do.

"Give 'em the 'Conquer or Die' song now!" cried Bean Perkins, and the
strains of "_Aut vincere aut mori_" welled out over the gridiron. It
seemed to give just the stimulus needed, and when Kindlings had been
sent crashing into the line for a twelve-yard gain, Phil quickly
resolved on the fake tackle and pass to half-back play. First, however,
he called for Ed Kerr to make a try through right-tackle, and when
this had been accomplished, with a smashing force that temporarily
demoralized the Boxer Hall players, Kindlings was once more requested
to oblige. He took the ball from Ed, who had received it from Phil, and
around right-end he went, with beautiful interference. It completely
fooled the other team, and when the Boxer full-back finally managed to
stop Kindlings it was on the ten-yard line.

"Touch-down! Touch-down!" yelled the Randall supporters.

"Touch-down it shall be!" exclaimed Phil.

Smash and hammer, hammer and smash, batter and push it was for the next
three minutes! Boxer was desperate, and with tears in their eyes her
players sought to stem the tide rushing against them. But Randall was
not to be denied. Again and again her men went battering against the
wall of flesh and blood, until, with what seemed a superhuman effort,
Holly Cross was shoved over the line for a touch-down.

Oh, what yelling and cheering there was then! Even the voice of Bean
Perkins, strident as it was, could not be heard above the others. The
grandstands were trembling with the swaying, yelling, stamping mass of
enthusiasts congregated on them.

Holly Cross kicked a beautiful goal, and with the score six to nothing
against them, Boxer Hall prepared to continue the game. There was no let
up to the play. It was fast and furious. For a time it seemed that Boxer
would score, as, after getting possession of the ball by means of a
forward pass, they ripped off twenty yards, and followed that up by
gathering in ten more by a smashing play through center. Snail Looper
was knocked out, and had to go to the side lines, Rod Everet replacing
him. This, to a certain extent, weakened the team, and Randall could not
seem to hold. The ball was rushed along until it was within three yards
of the maroon and yellow goal. Then, responding nobly to the entreaties
which Holly Cross, made, his players held stiffly, and Randall got the
ball on downs. No time was lost in booting the pigskin out of danger,
and before another formation could be made the whistle blew, and the
first half was over.

"Fellows," remarked Coach Lighton in the dressing-room during the rest,
"I needn't tell you that you've got to play for all you're worth to win
this game. We're going to have trouble this half. With Looper gone,
though I expect Everet will do nearly as well at center, it means a
certain loss of team work. But do your best. Their line isn't as strong
as I feared, but they play much fiercer in the attack than I expected.
However, I think you can rip 'em up. Get another touch-down--two if you
can--and prevent them from scoring. They may try for a field goal. If
they do, get through and block the kick. Now rest all you can."

The second half started in fiercely. Randall kicked off, and succeeded
in nailing the Boxer Hall man with the ball before he had run ten
yards. But when the line-bucking began something seemed to be the
matter with the Randall players. They were shoved back very easily, it
appeared, and, with constant gains, the ball was carried toward their
territory. So eager did the Randallites get at one stage that they
played off-side, and were penalized ten yards. Again there was holding
in the line, and ten yards more were given to Boxer Hall for this. The
opponents of Randall were now within thirty yards of the goal. By a
smash through center they ripped off five more. Then Pinkey Davenport
dropped back for a trial for a field goal, and made it. The score was
now six to five in favor of Randall.

When Randall got the ball again there was a change at once noticed. More
confidence was felt, and so fiercely did her players assail the line
that they carried the pigskin, in three rushes, well toward the middle
of the field.

Phil gave the signal for a forward pass, and it was well executed. Then
came a fake kick, and this was followed by an on-side one. Both netted
good gains, and once more Randall was jubilant.

"Right through the line!" cried Phil. "Eat 'em up, fellows!"

His players responded to his call. Through tackle, guard and center,
then around the end, the plays being repeated, the ball was carried.
The men were tiring, but Phil would not chance a kick. They had no sure
thing of a field goal now, as a little wind had sprung up. Up and up the
field the spheroid, yellow no longer, but dirty and grass-stained,
was carried. On the Randallites took it, until they were on the
twenty-five-yard line. There was a form of madness among the college
supporters now. Once more came the fierce cries for a touch-down, and
once more Phil called to his teammates to respond. The signal for some
sequence plays was given. It was well these had been practiced, for
Phil's voice could scarcely be heard. One after another four plays were
reeled off. They were all effective, and though Boxer Hall tried to stem
the rush, it was impossible. Over the line went the Randall lads, to the
inspiring chorus of: "Tear 'Em Apart and Toss 'Em Aside!"

"Touch-down! Touch-down! Touch-down!" came the frantic cries, the
players mingling their voices with those of the spectators on the
grandstand. The goal was missed, but the score was now eleven to five in
favor Randall.

Again came the line-up after the kick off. By a fumble Boxer lost the
ball, and Tom Parsons fell on it. Then began another fierce attack on
the Boxer eleven. But the terrific line-smashing was telling on both
teams, though more so on Randall. There was less power in her attack.

Boxer held for downs, and the kick was a weak one, the ball going only
a short distance. Then Boxer Hall began to rush it back, and by a trick
play got it so far down the gridiron that another field goal was kicked.
It began to look dubious for Randall, but there was no give-up in her
playing. Securing the ball, Phil kept his players on the rush. Down the
field they went, a forward pass netting a good gain and wonderfully
saving the wind of the now almost exhausted team. An on-side kick was
also used, and then, seeing a weak place in the adversary's line, Phil
in turn sent Kindlings, Jerry Jackson and Holly Cross at it. In vain did
Boxer Hall try to stop up the gap, but their left-tackle and guard were
about all in. In two minutes more Bricktop Molloy was shoved over the
line for a third touch-down, and, as goal was kicked, the score was
seventeen to ten.

"One more touch-down!" cried Holly Cross, but there was no time for it.
Two minutes more of play and the whistle blew. Randall had won one of
the fiercest games she had ever played.

"A cheer for Boxer Hall!" cried Holly Cross, and the despondent players,
grieving over their defeat, sent back an answer. Then came cheer upon
cheer from the grandstand, where waved the yellow and maroon of Randall,
and Bean Perkins led in the song: "We Have Come and We Have Conquered!"

"Great, old man!" cried Tom to Phil, who was limping slightly. "Are you
hurt?"

"I shouldn't care if I was in pieces after the way we walloped them!
Come on over here. I see my sister and Madge!"

Tom followed, his head singing from a severe knock he had received.



CHAPTER XXIV

GERHART HAS AN IDEA


Phil's sister hurried down from the grandstand to greet him.

"Oh, Phil!" she cried. "Did you get hurt?" for she saw him limping, and
she held out her hands to him.

"Just a little twist," he explained. "Not worth mentioning. How are you,
Madge?" he went on, after patting his sister on the shoulder, and he
held his hands eagerly out to Miss Tyler.

"Fine!" she exclaimed. "Oh, wasn't it a great game?"

"For us," put in Tom, who had greeted Ruth, and now turned to the other
girl.

"Good afternoon, Tom," spoke Madge, and Tom fancied there was just a
tinge of coldness in her voice. She continued talking to Phil.

"Did you think you would win?" asked Phil's sister of Tom as she looked
eagerly up into his face.

"Well, not all the while," replied the left-end. "Once or twice I began
to think we'd lose. But you can't down Randall."

"No; it takes Fairview to do that, not Boxer Hall," put in Madge
quickly.

"Now, be nice--be nice!" pleaded Phil with a laugh. "I thought you were
a friend of mine, Madge."

"So I am," she replied gaily; "but I can't help saying that."

"We'll beat you next time," went on Phil, and he dodged back to escape a
little blow which Madge aimed at him with her small flag. Then the two
laughed. Tom, who was chatting with Ruth, heard them, and he half turned
to see what was going on. He was just in time to see Phil grasp both
Madge's hands, and his face turned red. Ruth noticed it, and she said:

"Phil and Madge seem to get on well together."

"Almost too well," was Tom's thought, but he said nothing and changed
the subject.

"Well, Tom," said Phil at length, "I suppose we'd better go dress like
respectable citizens. You've got a spot of mud on your nose."

"And you have one on your ear," added Ruth. "I think Tom--I mean Mr.
Parsons--looks quite artistic with that beauty spot."

"We can dispense with the 'Mister,' if you like, Ruth," said Tom
boldly.

"Oh!" laughed Ruth. "I don't know what my brother will say. Eh, Phil?"

"Oh, I guess it's safe to call 'Dominie' Parsons by his front handle,"
said Phil. "He's warranted not to bite. Go ahead, sis."

"All right," she agreed with a laugh. "There--Tom"--and she hesitated
prettily at the name--"better run along and wash up."

"Will you wait here for us?" asked Tom. "We'll take you over to
Fairview, then, eh, Phil?"

"Surest thing you know!" exclaimed the quarter-back. "That is, if Madge
is agreeable."

He looked at her. She blushed just a trifle, and, with a little gesture,
answered:

"If Ruth insists on having her brother, why----"

"But I don't want my brother!" cried Ruth gaily. "Whoever heard of a
sister walking with her own brother? I'm going to let you have him, and
I--er--I----" She paused, blushing.

"I'll fill in!" cried Tom quickly.

Madge looked at him, but said nothing.

A little later on Tom, beside Ruth, and Phil, walking with Madge,
started for the trolley to Fairview. As they were crossing the campus,
which was thronged with players, visitors and some of the Boxer Hall
team and its supporters, Wallops, the messenger, came along with a
telegram in his hand.

"Is that for me?" asked Phil eagerly, and his face was pale, while his
voice trembled. His sister looked quickly at him. Evidently she feared
the same thing he did.

"No; it's for Professor Tines," replied the messenger, and Phil breathed
a sigh of relief as Wallops passed on.

Garvey Gerhart, who, with Langridge, was standing near Phil at the time,
started. Then a curious look came over his face.

"Langridge," he asked the sophomore, "have you anything to do?"

"Nothing special. Why?"

"Well, if you haven't, come along with me. I've just thought of an
idea."

"They're mighty scarce," retorted the former pitcher. "Don't let it get
away."

"Take a walk over by the chapel, and I'll tell you," went on Gerhart.
"There isn't such a crowd there."

Phil and Tom, with the two girls, were soon on the way to the
co-educational college. The trip was enlivened by laughter and jokes.
Madge and Phil seemed very good friends, and, as for Tom, though he
wondered at the sudden companionship that had sprung up between the
quarter-back and the pretty girl he had once been so anxious to get away
from Langridge, he could not help but congratulate himself on knowing
Ruth. Still, he could not altogether understand Madge. He had been fond
of her--he was still--and he knew that she had liked him. The slender
tie of relationship between them was no bar to an affection that
differed in degree from cousinly. Yet Madge plainly showed her liking
for Phil. Could it be, Tom thought, that she was jealous of him, and
took this method of showing it? He did not think Madge would do such a
thing, yet he felt that part of her gaiety and good spirits, when in
company with the handsome quarter-back, were assumed for some purpose.

"If it wasn't that Ruth is such a nice girl, and that Phil and I are
such friends, I'd almost think that he and I were--well--rivals,"
thought Tom. "Oh, hang it all! What's the use of getting sentimental?
They're both nice girls--very nice--the--the only trouble is I don't
know which I think the nicer."

The two chums left the girls at the Fairview College campus, for it was
getting late. Tom shook hands with Ruth, and then walked over to Madge
to say good-by. She had just finished speaking to Phil.

"Well, when can your 'cousin' come over to see you again, Madge?" asked
Tom with a smile.

He held out his hand, but Madge affected not to see it. Tom felt
uncomfortable, and then, as if she realized it, she said to him:

"Well, 'Cousin' Tom, I don't know that you'll _care_ to come over to see
me again," and with that she turned and walked away.

Tom remained staring after her for a moment. Then, with a shrug of his
shoulders, he wheeled and joined Phil, who had been a silent witness to
the little scene.

"Say, aren't girls odd?" asked Tom.

"Very," agreed his chum. "But you said that once before, you know."

"No; did I?" asked Tom, and he was rather silent on the way back to
Randall.

Meanwhile, Langridge and Gerhart had spent much time strolling about the
chapel walk. It was getting dusk, and the fading light of the perfect
fall day was shining through the wonderful, stained-glass windows of the
little church. The long casements, with representations of biblical
scenes, were a soft glow of delicate hues. But the two lads had no eyes
for these beauties.

"I think that will put a crimp in his playing!" Gerhart remarked, as he
paused to light an oriental cigarette, or, rather, something that passed
for one.

"But it's risky," expostulated Langridge. "If it's found out, and it's
sure to be, you'll have to leave college."

"I don't care. I'd be willing to, if I could have my revenge on him for
keeping me off the team. I don't like it here, anyhow. The other game I
put up on him didn't work, but this one will."

"And when will you try it?"

"At the last and deciding game. The way I figure it is that the final
tussle will come between Randall and Boxer Hall. I'll be ready with it
then. It will certainly knock him out."

"But it may lose us the game and the championship."

"What do I care! I'll be square with Clinton, and that's what I want. I
got the idea when I saw how frightened he was when Wallops had that
telegram. Don't you think it will work?"

"Sure it will work. It's a great idea, but--but----" and Langridge
hesitated. "It's a brutal trick, just the same."

"Oh, you're too chicken-hearted. Come on and I'll buy you a drink. That
will put some life in you."

"All right," said Langridge weakly, and he went.



CHAPTER XXV

PHIL GIVES UP


Out on the athletic ground Grasshopper Backus was practicing the
standing broad jump. It was one of the things he was always at, whence
his nickname. But, as Holly Cross used to say, "Grasshopper had about as
much chance of making the track team as he had of making a perfect score
at tennis," a game which the big lad abhorred. For, though Grasshopper
was very fond of jumping and practiced it every time he got a chance,
there was something wrong with his method, and he never could get beyond
the preliminaries in a contest. Still, he kept at it.

"Why don't you give up?" asked Phil, who, with Tom and Sid, strolled
down where the lone student was leaping away as if the championship of
the college depended on it.

"Say, you let me alone," objected Grasshopper, as he prepared for a
jump. "I beat my own record a while ago."

"By how much?" asked Phil.

"Well, not much; a quarter of an inch, but that shows I'm improving."

"Yes; at that rate you'll be through college, and a post graduate like
Bricktop before you make enough gain to count," declared Tom.

"Oh, you let me alone!" exclaimed the exasperated one. With that he
jumped, and then, with a measuring tape, he carefully noted the distance
he had covered.

"Any gain?" asked Sid.

"No; I went back an inch then," was the reply.

"Like the frog in the well," went on Phil. "He jumped up three feet
every day, and fell back four feet every night."

"Aw, quit!" begged Grasshopper, who was sensitive, in spite of his
enormous bulk.

"You go high enough, but you don't go far enough," commented Sid. "Now,
if they allow hurdling in football, you'd be right in it for jumping
over the line to make a touch-down."

"Maybe they'll change the rules so as to allow it," spoke Grasshopper
hopefully.

"Get out, you old Stoic!" cried Phil. "Come and take a walk with us. Tom
is going to blow us to ginger ale."

"No; I'm going to keep at it until I beat my best mark," and the jumper
again got on the line.

"Curious chap," commented Phil, as the three chums walked on.

"But as good as they make 'em," added Tom.

"That's what!" spoke Sid fervently.

Snail Looper soon recovered from the effects of the hard Boxer Hall
game, and practice was resumed with the 'varsity bucking against the
scrub. There was a big improvement shown in the first team, for the
players had demonstrated that they could meet with an eleven counted
among the best, and win from it.

"Well, fellows, are you all ready for the trip Saturday?" asked the
Coach at the conclusion of the practice. "None of you are falling behind
in studies, I hope?"

Captain Cross assured Mr. Lighton that every man on the team was A1 when
it came to scholarship.

"Now, a word of advice," went on the coach. "Don't get nervous over this
out-of-town trip. We're going up against a hard team, and on strange
grounds, but just think of it as if you were going to play Fairview,
or Boxer Hall, or Dodville Prep right here. The worst feature of
out-of-town games is that they throw the men off their stride. Don't
let that happen to you."

They all promised that it should not, and then the players separated.
The coach had arranged for a game with a distant college--Wescott
University--which boasted of a superb eleven. It meant a long trip on
the train, two days spent away from Randall, and a day to come back in.

The journey to Wescott University was much enjoyed by the eleven and the
substitutes. They reached the city at dusk, and were at once taken to
the hotel, where quarters had been secured for them. A big crowd of
students had planned to come from Randall to see the game, a special
excursion train having been arranged for.

"Now, fellows, early to bed to-night," stipulated the coach after supper
was over. "No skylarking, and don't go to eating a lot of trash. I want
you all to be on edge. We'll devote to-morrow to practice, and the next
day to wiping up the gridiron with Wescott."

Tom and Phil roomed together, and at midnight Tom, who had just fallen
into a doze, after envying the sound slumber of his chum, was awakened
by the latter.

"I'm sick, Tom," said Phil faintly.

"What's the matter, old man?" asked the left-end anxiously, and he
jumped out of bed, turning on the electric light.

"I don't know, but I'm dizzy, and I feel--well, rotten, to put it
mildly."

"That's too bad. Can I get you anything?"

"Better call Mr. Lighton. I don't want to take a lot of dope unless he
says so."

Tom quickly dressed and called the coach, who was on the same floor
where all the football players had their rooms. He came in quickly, and
after one glance at Phil insisted on calling the hotel physician. The
doctor went through the usual procedure, and left some medicine for
Phil.

"What is it?" asked the coach of the physician.

"Nothing, only his stomach is a little upset. Change of diet and water
will sometimes do it. He'll be all right in the morning."

Phil was better the next day, but when he went out to practice with the
lads, there was a lassitude in his movements, and a lack of snap in his
manner of running the team, that made several open their eyes. Mr.
Lighton said nothing, but Tom whispered to his chum to "brace up." Phil
tried to, and managed to get through the practice with some return of
his former vim. He went to bed early that night, and slept soundly--too
heavily, Tom thought, as it might indicate fever.

The day of the game, however, Phil seemed all right. His face was paler
than usual, and there was a grimness about his lips that Tom seldom saw.
The Randall boys had light practice in the morning, running through the
signals, and then took a rest until it was time to go on the field.

There was a big attendance, and the cheers of the small contingent of
Randall supporters could hardly be heard. The preliminary practice
seemed to go all right, and when the whistle blew there was a confident
eleven that lined up against Wescott. The play was hard and snappy, with
much kicking and open work. The rivals of Randall had a couple of backs
who were excellent punters, and the visitors were kept busy chasing the
ball. But there came a change, and when Randall had the pigskin Phil
rushed his men up the field to such good advantage that they scored the
first touch-down, to the no small dismay of the Wescott team.

"Now, Phil, some more work like that," said Holly Cross, but the
quarter-back did not answer.

Wescott got possession of the ball toward the close of the first half,
and with surprising power rushed it up the field. In less time than had
been thought possible they had a touch-down. Randall lost the pigskin on
fumbles, and when Wescott got it again they kicked a field goal. This
ended the half.

Phil staggered as he walked to the dressing-room for the rest period.

"What's the matter?" asked the coach quickly.

"Nothing--I'm--I'm all right," answered the quarter-back, and he gritted
his teeth hard.

Wescott kicked off in the second half, and Holly Cross managed to run
the ball well back.

"Rip out another touch-down!" the captain cried as he got in place for
the first scrimmage. Phil began on the signal. He hesitated. The
players looked at him quickly. He was swaying back and forth on the
ground. Once more he tried to give the combination of letters and
figures. But the words would not come. He put his hands out to steady
himself, and a moment later, with a groan, toppled over.

"He's hurt!" cried Tom as he sprang to the side of his chum. "But I
never knew Phil to give up."

Holly Cross was bending over him, while the other Randallites crowded
up, and the Wescott lads stretched out on the field. A doctor ran in
from the side lines on a signal from the coach. He felt of Phil's pulse.

"Why, the chap has a high fever!" he exclaimed. "He has collapsed from
it. He can't play any more! Take him off the field!"

A groan went up from the Randall players.



CHAPTER XXVI

SID IS BOGGED


Phil Clinton opened his eyes. His face, that had been pale, was now
flushed. The reaction had set in, and he tried to struggle to his feet.

"Signal!" he cried. "Eighteen A B X--two twenty-seven Z M!"

He tried to get in position to take the ball from Snail Looper, who was
standing up, regarding him curiously.

"What's the matter?" cried Phil. "Why don't you get down to snap it
back, Snail? Isn't it our ball? Have we lost it on a fumble? Are they
beating us?"

"You--you can't play," spoke Holly Cross brokenly.

"Can't play! Nonsense! Of course I can play! I'm all right! I was just
knocked out for a minute. Get down there, Snail. Signal----" But Phil
fell back into the arms of Tom and the doctor, and lapsed into
unconsciousness.

"Carry him off the field," said the medical man softly. "He's got lots
of grit, but a horse couldn't play with the fever he has."

Sorrowfully they carried the stricken quarter-back from the gridiron. It
was a hard blow to the Randall team, for it meant that a new man would
have to go in and play what was probably the most exacting position on
the team.

"Jerry Jackson, go to quarter," called Holly Cross. "I'll put Hayden at
left half-back," and the substitute was summoned from the side lines.
The play went on, but, as might have been expected, Randall was at a
disadvantage. When they had the ball they managed to gain considerable
ground, and as much punting as possible was done. But Wescott tore
through for another touch-down, while the solitary one gained in the
first half was the limit of the scoring the visitors could do. There did
come a brace on the part of Randall toward the close of the game, and
when the whistle blew they had the ball on the ten-yard line of their
opponents. They had put up a plucky fight against big odds, and the
Wescott players realized it, for they cheered lustily for their enemies.
There was lack of heartiness, not alone from the sense of defeat, in the
cheer and college yell with which Randall responded. Then they filed
sorrowfully off the field, while Tom, Holly Cross and the coach, as soon
as possible, went to the hotel where Phil had been taken in an
automobile.

They imagined all sorts of things, and were not a little relieved when
the doctor told them that, at worst, Phil only had a bad attack of
bilious fever. The change of diet, necessitated by the trip, had brought
it on. With rest and quiet he would be all right in a week, the medical
man said.

"And when can he play football?" asked Holly Cross anxiously.

"Not for two weeks," was the reply, and the coach and captain groaned.
They had a game with Fairview in prospect, and must needs win it if they
were to have a chance for the championship.

"I wonder if we can't postpone it?" asked Holly dubiously.

"Impossible," answered the coach. "We'll have to play Jackson at
quarter. I'll take him in hand at once. We only have a week, but in that
time the Jersey twin will do better than Moseby, who's been playing
quarter on the scrub. It's the best we can do."

Phil was too sick to accompany the team home, and Tom volunteered to
stay with him for a couple of days, the coach and captain agreeing to
explain matters at college. So the despondent players returned to
Haddonfield, while Tom remained with Phil at the hotel. Three days
later, thanks to the skill of the doctor, Phil was able to travel,
though he was quite weak. He was broken-hearted at the way he had
collapsed in the critical part of the game, but Tom would not listen to
any of his chum's self-reproaches.

"I'll make up for it when we play Fairview!" declared Phil. He was in a
bad state when told that he could not play that game, but there was no
help for it.

Ruth called to see her brother, accompanied by Madge Tyler. He was
sitting in the dilapidated easy chair when the girls came in, and
apologized for it.

"Oh, we're glad to see you even in that state, Phil, as long as it's no
worse, aren't we, Madge?" spoke Ruth.

"Of course," answered Madge brightly. "I wish you were better, so you
could play Saturday against our college."

"We'd be sure to win, if he did," interposed Tom. "As it is, your
fellows have a better chance."

"I--I don't care if we do lose!" exclaimed Madge, and she blushed
prettily. "That is----" and she paused in some confusion.

"Why, Madge Tyler!" exclaimed Ruth. "That's treason!"

"I don't care," was the answer, with a toss of the head. "Don't you want
your brother to get well?"

"Of course, but----"

"Well," was all Madge said, and Tom wondered what she meant.

But Randall did not lose to Fairview in the second game. It was a hard
one, but the Jersey twin did good work at quarter, and Hayden proved a
"star" end, making a brilliant run and a touch-down. The score was
seventeen to five, a solitary field goal being all that Fairview was
able to accomplish.

"Well, now we'll have a chance at the championship, when we meet Boxer
Hall next," said Phil, who had watched the contest from the grandstand,
though he was as nervous as a colt all the while.

The 'varsity quarter-back was allowed to begin practice the following
week, and was soon playing with his old-time form. In fact, the little
rest seemed to have benefited him, and this, added to the fact that
encouraging news had been received concerning his mother, made him less
apprehensive when he was on the gridiron. There were two more rather
unimportant games in prospect before the final contest with Boxer Hall,
and all the energies of the Randall eleven were now turned to the
deciding contest.

"I say, you fellows," remarked Sid one sunny November afternoon, when
all three chums were in the room after lectures, "don't you want to take
a walk with me? I've got to do some observation work in my biology
course, and I'm going to take my camera along and make some pictures."

"Where you going?" asked Tom.

"Oh, along the river. Then I'll strike across country, and fetch up
somewhere. We'll not be gone over three hours, and we'll get back by
dark. Come along; it will do you good."

"Shall we go with the old gazabo, Phil?" asked Tom.

"If he guarantees not to get us lost in the woods, so we'll have to stay
out all night," replied the quarter-back.

"Oh, I'll get you home safe," declared Sid. "We'll have a nice walk.
I'll be ready in a jiffy," and he proceeded to load his camera with
films. It was a large one, and he often used it to make pictures which
had a bearing on his class work in biology and evolution. The three
chums were soon strolling along the banks of the river, Sid on the
lookout for late-staying birds or some animal or reptile which he might
add to his photographic collection.

"You must be fond of this sort of thing, to lug that heavy camera around
with you," commented Phil.

"I am," said Sid. "It's very interesting to study the habits of birds
and animals. You'd ought to have taken that course."

"I wish I had, instead of mathematics," put in Tom. "I'm dead sick of
them, but I guess I'll have to stick at 'em."

For a mile or more Sid saw nothing on which to focus his camera. He
suggested that they leave the vicinity of the river and strike across
country, and, as his chums left the matter entirely to him, this plan
was followed. Suddenly, as they were going through a clump of trees
about a mile from the stream, Sid uttered an exclamation.

"Hold on, fellows!" he cried. "I can get a beautiful snapshot here," and
he motioned them to stand still, while he got his automatic hand camera
into position.

"What is it?" whispered Phil.

"A _vulpes pennsylvanicus argentatus_!" answered Sid as he turned the
focusing screw.

"What's that, for the love of Mike?" spoke Tom.

"Blessed if I know," retorted Phil. "I don't see anything. Maybe it's a
snake."

"It's a fox, you chumps!" came from Sid. "Keep still, can't you? I've
got him just right. He can't see me, and the wind is blowing from him to
me. I'll have his picture in a minute!"

But, as bad luck would have it, just as Sid was about to press the
lever, releasing the shutter, Phil leaned too heavily on one foot. A
stick broke under him with a snap, there was a sudden rustling in the
bushes, and Sid uttered a cry of dismay.

"There he goes!" cried the naturalist. "What's the matter with you
fellows, anyhow? Can't you keep still? Now it will take me an hour to
trail him, and the chances are I can't do it."

"It wasn't my fault," explained Tom. "Phil did it."

"I couldn't help it," came from the guilty one. "What do you want to
photograph such scary things as foxes for, anyhow?"

"Humph!" was Sid's exclamation. "Well, there's no help for it. Come on."

"Where?" inquired Tom.

"After the fox, of course," and Sid started resolutely forward. Tom and
Phil followed for a short distance, then Phil called out:

"Say, it's getting swampy here."

"What of it?" asked Sid, whose enthusiasm would not let him notice such
small matters.

"Lots of it," came from Tom. "We're getting our feet wet."

"Ah, don't be babies!" retorted Sid, plunging into a deep, muddy hole.
"Come on."

"I'm going to find a dryer path," said Phil, and Tom agreed with him.
They turned aside, but Sid kept on. Soon he was lost to sight in the
woods. Phil and Tom looked in vain for a better route, and, finding
none, decided to turn back.

"We'll wait for you out on the main road," Phil called to his unseen
chum. An indistinguishable answer came back. The two picked their way
to higher ground, and edged off toward the road which skirted the woods.

"Photographing in a swamp is too rich for my blood," commented Phil.

"Same here," agreed Tom. "But Sid doesn't seem to mind it. Smoked
mackerel, look at my shoes!" and he glanced at his muddy feet.

"I'm in as bad," added Phil. "Let's walk through the grass and----"

Just then they heard Sid calling from afar.

"What's he saying?" asked Tom.

"Listen," advised Phil.

Again the cry was heard.

"Sounds as if he was calling for us to come to him," ventured Tom.

"That's it, but I'm not going. I'm just as well satisfied to look at the
photograph after he's developed it. I'm going to stay here," came from
Phil.

"Sure," added Tom.

The cries continued, and then ceased. Tom and Phil waited nearly an hour
for Sid to reappear, and when he did not come they started back for
college, thinking he had gone another way. But poor Sid was in dire
straits, as we shall soon see.



CHAPTER XXVII

WOES OF A NATURALIST


Sid Henderson was of a very hopeful disposition, otherwise he never
would have undertaken to get a picture of that fox after it had once
been alarmed. But he fancied he could trail it to its burrow, and he
wanted very much to get a photograph of the animal in its home
surroundings.

So, unmindful of the desertion of his chums, he plunged on into the
swamp. The footing became more and more treacherous as he advanced, and
he had to go slowly, looking here and there for grass hummocks to
support him. His camera, too, was a handicap.

"But I'm going to get that fox!" he exclaimed. "I just need a picture
like that. Besides, I may find in this swamp some material I can use in
my biological experiments."

On he went, leaping from hummock to hummock. Once he nearly slipped and
barely saved himself from falling into a slough of black water.

"I wonder how deep that is?" he remarked, and taking a dead branch he
thrust it straight down. He found that the hole was deeper than he had
anticipated.

Keeping a sharp lookout for the animal he was after, he was at length
rewarded by a sight of it slinking along through the bushes. He started
forward eagerly, so eagerly, in fact, that he did not pick his steps. A
moment later he slipped from a grass hummock and went into the muddy
bog, up to his waist.

"Wow! Whoop! Help! Here, fellows! Come here and help me! Bring a fence
rail!" he called, for he felt himself sinking down deeper and deeper.

Tom and Phil heard his cries, but thought he was only calling to them to
come and see some natural curiosity or view the fox, so they did not
respond. Sid called again and again, but got no answer. Then he tried to
scramble from the bog, and found it hard work, for he had to hold his
camera high up that it might not get wet.

At last he managed to free his legs from the sticky mud and reached a
comparatively firm place. But what a plight he was in! Plastered with
swamp-ooze to his waist, he looked like some sewer laborer. Though he
did not know it, his face was spotted with globules of mud, splashed up
in his struggles to get from the bog.

"Well, I certainly am in bad," he remarked to himself. "Lucky I put on
old clothes. I can't get much worse, that's one satisfaction. I might
as well keep on. Maybe I can get that fox now."

So he continued through the swamp. His speed was better, for he no
longer paused to pick his steps, but splashed on, careless of the mud
and water. The fever of the chase was in his veins, and another glimpse
of the fox convinced him that the animal was heading for its burrow. At
last, after a tramp of a mile, Sid was successful, and, in the fast
fading light of the fall day, he snapped the creature, just as it was
entering the hole, when it turned for a final look at its tireless
pursuer.

"Well, it was worth it all," sighed the naturalist as he closed up his
camera and started for home. "Now I wonder where Phil and Tom are."

Remembering that they had called to him that they would wait out on the
road, he took that highway back to college. On the way he found several
specimens which he needed in his evolution work, and in thinking about
them, and his success in photographing the fox, he forgot about the
plight he was in. He did not meet his chums, of course, and it was dusk
when he got back to college. The mud had dried somewhat on his trousers
and shoes, and, incidentally, on his face and hands, for he had,
unconsciously, run his hands over his countenance once or twice, so that
the mud globules had increased in surface area.

It was a very strange and somewhat disreputable figure that entered the
west dormitory a little later and started up the stairs, but Sid did not
know that, having no looking glass at hand.

Now it so happened that Professor Tines was just leaving the dormitory.
He had called to see one of his pupils who was ill--a "greasy dig"
student--to use the college vernacular to designate a lad who burned
midnight oil over his studies. The professor having finished his call
came upon Sid in the corridor. The instructor saw before him a young
man, mud covered, carrying a square, black box, and the countenance,
spotted with specimens of swamp muck, was unfamiliar to him. Professor
Tines at once suspected a student trick.

"Here! Where are you going?" he cried, blocking the way of Sid.

"To my room," answered the luckless naturalist, who, of course, not
appreciating that he was most effectually disguised, thought that the
Latin teacher had recognized him.

"Your room! What do you mean by such nonsense? What student put you up
to this joke? Tell me, and I will have him punished at once. How dare
you come in here?"

"Why, I--I belong here, Professor Tines," said Sid.

"Belong here? You work on the coal trestle! Don't tell me! You are
covered with coal dust now! What have you there? Are you going to play
some trick at the instigation of the freshmen? I demand an answer!"

"I'm Henderson," went on Sid desperately. "I room here--with Phil
Clinton and Tom Parsons."

"How dare you trifle with me in this fashion?" demanded the irate Latin
instructor. "I shall call the proctor and have you arrested!" and he was
so much in earnest that Sid, beginning to appreciate the state he was
in, determined to prove absolutely that he was himself.

"Professor Tines," he said, "you can knock on that door there, and ask
Clinton and Parsons if I'm not Henderson. I've been out after a fox, and
I fell in the bog."

"Ha!" cried the professor. "I see it now. You are trying to play a joke
on me, with the aid of Clinton and Parsons. But you shall all three
suffer for it! I _will_ knock on that door. I _will_ confront your
fellow conspirators with the evidence of their silly act. Come here,"
and he placed his hand on Phil's shoulder and led him toward the room of
the three chums. "You shall not trifle with me!" he added fiercely.

Holding Sid firmly by the shoulder with one hand, Professor Tines with
the other knocked loudly at the portal. Phil and Tom were within, and
the latter quickly opened the door, for the summons was imperative. The
two chums in the room started back at the sight of the instructor
having in custody the mud-covered figure.

"Young gentlemen," began the professor sternly, "this--this person
asserts that he is Henderson, and that he rooms here. I caught him in
the corridor, and at once detected the joke he was about to play. He
appealed to me to bring him here for identification. Have you three
conspired to play a trick on me? Is this Henderson or is it not?"

Tom and Phil stared at the disreputable figure. They knew at once that
it was their chum, but the spirit of mischief entered into Tom. He
nudged Phil, and then answered promptly:

"Certainly not, Professor Tines. We don't know the person!"

Then he shut the door, while, with a cry of rage at the desertion of his
friends, Sid tried to break away from the Latin teacher.



CHAPTER XXVIII

TOM IS JEALOUS


"Ha! I knew you were up to some trick!" cried Professor Tines. "You are
no student of Randall College at all! I'll take you to Proctor Zane, and
he'll give you in charge of an officer! Perhaps you are a thief, and
have stolen that camera!"

"It's mine!" exclaimed Sid, unable to understand the action of Tom and
Phil. "I tell you I am Henderson, professor!"

"Indeed! Then how do you account for Parsons and Clinton failing to
identify you?"

"That's a--a joke!" Sid was forced to say.

"Ha! I knew there was some trick in it! So you admit you were trying to
play a joke on me in having them identify you?"

"No, no!" cried Sid, alarmed at this misunderstanding. "They were joking
when they said I wasn't Henderson."

"Well, who are you, then?"

"Why, I _am_ Henderson. This is my camera."

"Don't make it any worse, young man," warned the teacher sternly. "Come
with me to the proctor!"

There was no help for it, Sid had to go. He might have broken away from
the professor, but he did not like to try it, for Mr. Tines seemed very
determined, and the ensuing tumult would bring into the corridor a
throng of students, so that Sid would never hear the last of the joke
that had turned on him. He went along quietly, thankful that it was
dark, and that no one would see him in the walk across the campus to the
proctor's quarters.

"Here is a young man--a thief, if nothing worse, perhaps--whom I caught
in the corridor of the west dormitory," explained Professor Tines to Mr.
Zane a little later as he stood with his quarry before the proctor. Sid
caught a glimpse of himself in a looking glass in the brightly-lighted
office.

"Oh--I--do I look like that?" he gasped as he saw his slimy trousers,
and his face, which was like unto that of a chimney sweep, his hands
also being covered with the swamp mud.

"You certainly do!" said Professor Tines heartily. "Are you now ready to
confess, before we send for an officer?"

"But I tell you I'm Henderson!" insisted the luckless Sid. "It was only
a joke when Phil and Tom went back on me. I tell you I'm Henderson, of
the sophomore class!"

The proctor glanced sharply at him. Mr. Zane had good eyes and a memory
for voices, which Professor Tines lacked.

"I believe it _is_ Henderson," spoke the proctor at length. "But where
in the world have you been?"

"Photographing a fox," explained Sid, and then he told the whole story.
A dawning light of belief came into the countenance of Professor Tines,
and when Sid had been allowed to wash his face and hands, there was no
further doubt as to his identity.

"Well," remarked the proctor, trying hard not to laugh as he glanced at
the student's mud-encased trousers, "I would advise you to wear rubber
boots when you go on your next nature excursion."

"I will," promised Sid. "May I go to my room now?"

"I suppose so," rasped out the Latin instructor. "But--ahem! I am not
altogether sure yet that you are not up to some mischief."

"I'll develop the picture of the fox and show you!" exclaimed Sid
eagerly. "And here are some snails I picked up in the swamp," and with
that he plunged his hand into the pocket of his coat and drew out a lot
of the slimy creatures. Some of them dropped on the floor and started
to crawl away, leaving a shimmering track.

"That will do! The evidence is sufficient, I think!" exclaimed the
proctor, who had a horror of such things. "Take them away at once, Mr.
Henderson!" And Sid went down on his knees to gather up the _helix
molluscæ_, while Professor Tines hurried from the room.

"Do you want to see the picture of the fox?" asked Sid as he arose, his
hands filled with snails.

"No, thank you," answered the proctor. "I'll take your word for it, Mr.
Henderson. But please be more careful," and he looked at the mud spots
on his rug.

A little later Sid burst into the room where his two chums were pouring
over their books.

"Say! What in blazes did you fellows go back on me that way for?" he
demanded.

"What's that? He speaks in riddles!" said Phil softly. "Why, Siddie," he
went on, as a mother might chide a little boy, "wherever have you been?
You're all mud! Oh, such a state as your trousers are in! Whatever will
papa say, Siddie?"

"What a dirty beast!" cried Tom in simulated horror.

Poor Sid looked from one to the other.

"Why did you tell Pitchfork I wasn't Henderson?" he demanded savagely.

"Tell Pitchfork you weren't yourself?" asked Phil, as if he had never
heard of such a thing.

"What do you mean?" inquired Tom innocently. "We haven't seen you since
we left you going after the fox, and we got tired and came home."

"Do you mean to tell me," began Sid, "that you didn't----" And then he
stopped, at the grins that appeared on the faces of his chums. "What's
the use?" he asked wearily. "All right, I'll get even with you two," he
concluded as he put his camera away and proceeded to change his clothes.
But a little later, when he had developed the picture of the fox, and
found it to be a fine one, he forgot his anger and the ordeal he had
gone through, for Sid was a true naturalist.

It was approaching the date for the great game with Boxer Hall, and the
football squad was practicing with a fierce energy; for, more than any
other contest, they wanted to win that one.

The team was fairly "on edge and trained to the second," as Holly Cross
said. They had won the two games that came before the final one, and now
but two weeks elapsed before they would clash with Boxer Hall on the
Randall gridiron.

"Are you going to the _Kappa Delta_ dance?" asked Phil of Tom one night,
referring to an annual affair of one of the Greek letter fraternities.

"Sure," replied Tom. "I think we need something like that to get us in
shape for the game with Boxer Hall. You're going, I suppose?"

"Of course. Who you going to take?"

"Haven't quite made up my mind yet. Are you going with a dame?"

"Sure."

"Who, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Madge Tyler," answered Phil, and he seemed to be very busy arranging
his tie.

"Madge Tyler?" repeated Tom quickly.

"Yes. Any objections?"

Tom was silent a moment. He was struggling with a strange sensation.

"Well," asked Phil, turning and facing his chum--Sid was out of the
room--"any objections?"

"Of course not," answered Tom slowly. "I took her last term, and--er--I
was rather counting on----"

"You were going to take her again this year," interrupted Phil, "but you
waited too long. Sorry I cut you out, old man. No hard feelings, I
hope?"

"No--no," answered Tom hesitatingly. "Of course not," he added more
genially. "I was too slow, that's all."

"You'll have to ask some one else," went on Phil. "Are you sure you
don't mind, old chap?" and he came over and stood beside his chum.

Tom did not answer for a few seconds. There was a strained quality in
his voice when he replied, as cheerfully as he could:

"Of course not. You're first in war, first in football, and first
in--the affairs with the ladies," he paraphrased.

"Whom will you take?" persisted Phil.

"Nobody!" exclaimed Tom, as he got up from the couch and started from
the room. "I'm not going to the affair, after all," and he slammed the
door as he went out.

"Whew!" whistled Phil. "Tom's jealous!"



CHAPTER XXIX

A STRANGE DISCOVERY


The _Kappa Delta_ dance was a brilliant affair. Phil took Madge, and
very charming she looked in a new gown of--oh, well, what difference
does it make what her dress was like, anyhow? Besides, I don't know
whether it was bombazine or chiffon, and the more I try to describe it
the worse I will get tangled, so if you'll take my word for it, as well
as Phil's, who ought to know, she looked very pretty indeed. The girls
said she was "sweet," whatever that means.

"Isn't Ruth coming?" asked Phil of his partner after the first waltz.

"Why, I thought so," answered Madge slowly. "She was getting ready to
come when I left."

"Who with?"

"I don't know. Didn't she tell you?"

"She never does," replied Phil. "I thought you'd know."

"Well, I usually do, but this time Ruth was quite mysterious about it."

"There she comes now!" exclaimed Phil, looking toward the entrance to
the ballroom. "Who's that with her?"

"I can't see. She's in front--why, it's Tom--Tom Parsons!" added Madge
quickly.

"Tom!" exclaimed Phil. "The sly beggar! He was going to take her all the
while, yet he pretended to be jealous because I said I was going to
take----"

He stopped in some confusion. Madge looked at him quickly.

"Was he--was he jealous about me?" she asked softly.

"He pretended to be," said her partner.

"Only pretended? How ungallant of you!" she cried gaily, yet there was
more meaning in her tones than Phil was aware of. "Why don't you say he
was madly jealous of me; and that you two quarreled dreadfully over me?"

"Well, I s'pose I could say it," replied Phil slowly, "but you see----
Let's try this two-step," he interrupted, glad of the chance to get out
of an awkward explanation.

"I was going to wait and speak to Ruth," said Madge.

"Later will do," answered Phil, and they swung out on the polished floor
together.

"You frowsy beggar, why didn't you tell me you were going to bring my
sister?" cried Phil to Tom, when the two-step finished and the four had
come together.

"I wasn't sure she'd go," replied Tom in a low voice, and Phil missed
the usual friendly note in his tones. "Will you come down and have an
ice?" he asked Ruth, and before Phil could say anything more Tom had led
his fair partner away.

"Hang it all! There's something the matter with Tom!" thought honest
Phil as he looked at Madge. "I'll have it out with him when this affair
is over. We can't let girls come between us."

It was late when Phil got back to his room, after taking Madge home. Sid
was asleep, and the quarter-back moved about softly, so as not to
disturb him, for Sid had foresworn such dissipations as fraternity
dances. Just as Phil was about to get into bed, Tom came in.

"Say, old man," burst out Phil in a whisper, "what's the matter?"

"Matter?" asked Tom, as if greatly surprised.

"Yes, matter. You've been different ever since I told you I was going to
take Madge to the dance. Now, am I trespassing on your preserves? If I
am, say so. But I thought you liked Ruth."

"So I do!"

"That's what I thought. I knew you used to go with Madge, but since----
Oh, hang it all, I can't explain--I'm Ruth's brother, you know. But if
you think I want to cut you out----"

"It's all right," broke in Tom with a forced geniality that Phil
noticed. "Forget it, old man. Of course, you had a perfect right to go
with Madge. I dare say she'd a heap sight rather have you than me."

"I don't know about that," interposed Phil; "but I was afraid I was
treading on your corns."

"It's all right," repeated Tom quickly. "Fine dance, wasn't it?"

"Very. But are you sure----"

"Oh, dry up!" exclaimed Tom, more like himself. "Here's a letter Ruth
gave me to give you. It's from your mother. Your sister meant to hand it
to you at the dance, but she forgot. Came late to-night--or, rather,
last night--it's morning now. She's a little better, it seems."

"That's good!" exclaimed Phil eagerly. "But I wonder why she didn't
write to me."

"She couldn't manage but one letter, I believe Ruth said," went on Tom
gently.

"Say, I wish you fellows would cut out that gab!" suddenly exclaimed
Sid, turning over in bed. "I want to sleep. I don't go out to dances,
where there are a lot of silly girls, and then sit up all night talking
about it."

"Get out, you grumpy old misogynist!" exclaimed Phil, shying a sofa
cushion at his chum. "Wake up and hear the glad tidings of the dance!"

"Glad pollywogs!" grumbled Sid. "Get to bed and douse the glim."

Which Phil soon did, as Tom showed no further inclination to talk.

In spite of Tom's assertions to the contrary, Phil could not help
feeling that a coldness had sprung up between himself and his chum.
That it was about Madge, Phil could not deny, yet he hesitated to
speak further of it to Tom.

"Maybe it will work itself out," he said to himself. "I hope so,
anyhow."

Meanwhile, the time for the final and deciding championship football
game was drawing closer. Randall and Boxer Hall were easily the two best
teams, not only in the Tonoka Lake League, but in that section of the
country. Neither had done any remarkable playing, nor could it be said
that their goal line had not been crossed, but the championship lay
between them. The practice was exacting and constant, and the 'varsity
eleven was "as hard as nails," to again quote my friend, Holly Cross,
who had an extensive sporting vocabulary. They were eager for the
contest.

Tom and Phil, between whom there was still a shadow of coldness, came
walking together from the gridiron. They were talking about a wing-shift
play that had been tried with some success.

"I don't like the signal for it," said Phil. "It's too complicated, and
the other fellows may get on to it. I think I can work out a better
combination. I'll use some of the old signal letters and numbers that we
discarded. I've got a copy of them in my room."

"Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea," commented Tom. "I think, myself, that
the signal takes too long to understand. It ought to be snappier."

"That's my idea. We'll see if we can't work out a better one."

Hurrying from the gymnasium, where they had changed their clothes, Tom
and Phil went to their room. Sid was there studying. Phil went over to
the wall, where he had placed the new picture of Madge Tyler she had
given him, and took it down.

"That's right!" exclaimed Sid. "It's about time you removed some of
these flags, banners, ribbons and other effeminate decorations. Start
in, Tom, on your share. We'll get this room to looking right, after a
bit."

"Oh, I'm not taking it down," declared Phil as he removed the photograph
from the wall. He had had it placed in rather a heavy and deep gold
frame. "I want to get my copy of the football signals--the ones we
discarded--from behind it," he explained. "I hid them there, as being
the place least likely to be disturbed. I'm going to frame up a new
signal----"

He stopped suddenly, and looked first from the picture to the floor,
and then from the floor to the picture.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom.

"The copy of the signals--it's gone," he said quickly. "I had it
fastened to the back of the picture by a bit of wire."

"Are you sure?" inquired Sid, getting up from the old easy chair, and
making a cloud of dust in the operation.

"Of course!" exclaimed Phil. "They're gone--some one must have taken the
signals."

Tom dimly recalled a certain scene he and Phil had witnessed, and also
remembered the words of the coach when he had made a shift of the
signals. Phil looked at Tom. He was thinking of the same thing. Suddenly
Phil uttered a cry. From the deep, curved frame of the picture he held
up a small gold watch-charm.

"Look!" he exclaimed.

"A freshman charm!" spoke Sid slowly, as he recognized the device
affected by a certain first-year secret society.

"Whose is it?" asked Tom.

"There's no telling," replied Phil.

"Yes, there is," went on Sid. "They always have their initials on the
back of the charm. Look and see."

Phil turned it over.

"Whoever left this here must have taken the copy of the signals," he
said slowly. "He probably took down the picture and removed the paper.
In doing so the charm slipped from his watch-chain and fell in the deep
frame. He must have held it about at his belt to bend up the wire, for
it was stiff."

"Whose initials are on the back?" asked Tom in a low voice.

Phil looked at them.

"They are 'G. A. G.,'" he announced.

Sid reached for a college roster, and turned to the freshman class list.
The room was strangely silent, not even the ticking of the alarm clock
being heard, for it had run down.

"Well?" asked Tom.

"The only fellow with the initials 'G. A. G.' is Garvey A. Gerhart,"
answered Sid.



CHAPTER XXX

A BITTER ENEMY


The breathing of the three chums was distinctly audible in the silence
that followed. Varied thoughts rushed through their minds, but all
centered around the idea that there was a traitor in college--some one
who would go to extreme lengths to see the football eleven lose. That
this person was Garvey Gerhart was the belief of Tom, Phil and Sid. The
quarter-back was the first to break the silence that was becoming
strained.

"The cowardly sneak!" he burst out. "He ought to be tarred and feathered
and ridden around the campus on a rail. The dirty cad!" Phil clenched
his fists. "And I'm going to do it, too!" he added fiercely.

"Do what?" asked Tom.

"I'm going to tell what we discovered. I'm going to let Holly Cross and
Mr. Lighton know. It was Gerhart who stole the copy of the signals. He
sneaked in here when we were out and found them, though how he knew
enough to look behind the picture is more than I understand. Probably
he wanted to see if the girl's name was on the back, and saw the paper
by accident. Anyhow, he took it, and he lost the charm at the same time,
though he didn't notice it. Then he went and bargained to sell the
signals to Stoddard, of Boxer Hall. That was when we saw them talking
together down by the bridge."

"But Stoddard didn't take his offer," interposed Tom.

"No; Stoddard isn't that kind of a chap," went on Phil. "He let Mr.
Lighton know anonymously. But what Stoddard did doesn't lessen Gerhart's
guilt. He wanted to throw the team, and only for the fact that he made
his offer to an honest chap we would have lost the game. I'd--I'd like
to smash him into jelly!" and Phil fairly shook in righteous anger, for
the team was very dear to his heart. He felt everything that affected
the eleven more, perhaps, than any other lad in Randall College, not
even excepting the captain, Holly Cross. So it is no wonder that Phil
raged. He started from the room.

"Where are you going?" asked Sid, interposing his bulky frame between
Phil and the door.

"I'm going to tell the coach and Holly Cross what I've discovered. I'm
going to show them this charm. I'm going to propose that we tar and
feather Gerhart and ride him out of college to the tune of the 'Rogues'
March.'"

"No, you're not," spoke Sid very quietly.

Phil looked at him for a moment. Then he burst out with: "What do you
mean? Don't you want me to tell? I'm going to, I say!"

"No, you're not," repeated Sid, and he did not raise his voice. "You're
going to sit right down," and he gently shoved Phil toward the yawning
easy chair. Puzzled by his chum's action, Phil backed up, and before he
knew it he had flopped down upon the cushions, raising an unusual cloud
of dust.

"Say, Henderson, what's the matter with you?" he cried, as he struggled
to get up. "Are you crazy? Don't interfere with me again! I'm going to
inform on the dirty, sneaking cad who wanted to see his own college
beaten!"

Sid put a hand on his chum's shoulder and pushed him back into the
chair.

"You're going to do nothing of the sort, my son," went on the big first
baseman slowly. "Tom, lock the door and put the key in your pocket."

Tom as though acting under the influence of some hypnotic spell, obeyed.

"Are you both crazy?" burst out Phil. "I tell you the whole college must
know what a white-livered hound we've got here!"

"That's just what they mustn't know," said Sid quietly. "Now listen to
me," he went on more sternly. "In the first place, you don't know that
Gerhart is guilty."

"Don't know? Of course I know it!" almost shouted Phil. "Haven't I got
the evidence?" and he held out the charm.

"Easy," cautioned Sid. "I grant that; I even grant that the charm is
Gerhart's; but does that prove he took the signals?"

"It proves that he was in the room," declared Phil.

"Yes, I admit that. I saw him in here once myself--just before that
accident to my hand. But that doesn't prove anything."

"He was in here some other time then, when none of us was here. He must
have taken the picture down, else the charm would never have been caught
in the frame and remained there."

"Granted; but you are still far from making out a case, Phil."

"Don't you believe he did it?" asked the quarter-back.

"I do, when it comes to that, but we've got to offer more evidence than
our own beliefs when it comes to convincing other people. Besides, I
don't see what need there is of proving your case."

"Don't you think the college ought to know what sort of a coward and
sneak we've got at Randall?"

"No," said Sid decidedly, "I don't. That's just the point. That's just
why I don't want you to go and tell Holly what we've found. I think
Gerhart took those signals," he continued, "and I believe that when we
saw him talking to Stoddard he was trying to dispose of them to him.
But just because I feel morally certain of it doesn't justify me in
spreading the news broadcast. Besides, do we want every one to know what
a cad we have here? I take the opposite view from you. I think we ought
not to wash our soiled linen in public. The more we can hush this thing
up the better. I wouldn't let it get beyond us three. It ought to stop
right here. We would be the laughingstock of Fairview and Boxer Hall if
it got out. To think that the Randall spirit was capable of falling so
low that there was a traitor among us! I'm glad Stoddard kept still.
Evidently he didn't tell a soul, but warned Lighton privately, and the
team has kept quiet about it.

"Now," continued Sid earnestly, "do you want to go and publish it? Do
you want to let every one see our shame? I don't believe you do, Phil."

Phil was silent for several seconds. He was struggling with some
emotion. Tom stood with his back to the door, though it was locked. Sid
stood before his chum, looking anxiously at him as he sat in the big
chair. Then, with a long breath, Phil said:

"I guess you're right, Sid. I--I didn't look at it that way. I'll keep
still."

"I thought you would," spoke Sid significantly.

Phil put the charm in his pocket. The strain was over. They all seemed
relieved. But Phil, so much was his heart bound up in the eleven, could
not forget the great affront that had been planned against it. Two days
later, meeting Gerhart alone on the campus, he approached him, and
showing the freshman the watch-charm, exclaimed:

"Take care, you dirty coward! We know where you lost this!"

Gerhart started, turned first pale and then red. He soon recovered
himself, and answered:

"I don't know what you mean."

"Yes, you do," snapped Phil. "You stole my signals!"

"That's a lie," said Gerhart coolly, and he walked on.

But if Phil could have seen him a little later, when he joined Langridge,
the quarter-back would have wondered at the rage and fear shown by the
freshman.

"Clinton knows! He found my charm! I was afraid I'd lost it in his
room," said Gerhart.

"Well?" asked Langridge.

"One of us has got to leave Randall!" exclaimed Gerhart savagely. "It's
he or I; and it will be he, if I can accomplish it!"



CHAPTER XXXI

"IT'S TOO LATE TO BACK OUT!"


Gerhart and Langridge were walking along the road that led to
Haddonfield. The freshman was filled with unreasoning rage against not
only Phil, but Tom and Sid, as well.

"Probably all three know," said Gerhart. "I was a fool not to look to
see if I left any clues behind when I was in the room."

"Maybe you were a fool for ever trying that signal and liniment trick at
all," suggested Langridge, who did not mince words.

"Maybe," admitted his crony. "But I thought I could get back at Clinton,
Cross and Lighton, for not letting me play. Only that Stoddard was such
a white-livered chump I'd have pulled off the signal trick."

"As it was, you lost."

"Yes; but the game isn't over yet. There's still the Boxer Hall
contest."

"You don't mean to say you're going to try and give away the signals in
that game, do you?" cried Langridge.

"No; but I'm going to keep Clinton out of the game. If I can do that
I'll feel that I'm even with him--the beast!"

"But can you do it? If you do it, it may make our team lose, for Clinton
is one of the best players, and it's hard to substitute a quarter-back."

"I can do it; and I wish the eleven would lose! That's what I want to
see!"

"You haven't got much college spirit," observed Langridge.

"I've as much as you. Weren't you in with me on this scheme?"

"I suppose so." Langridge didn't seem to derive much satisfaction from
the admission.

"Of course you were. You hate Clinton and his bunch as much as I do."

"Yes."

"And you'd like to see 'em laid out good and proper, wouldn't you?"

"Yes," hesitatingly, "I guess so."

"Of course you would! Well, you're going to if you stick to me. I've got
the best plan yet."

"What is it?"

"Come along to town, and you'll see part of it. I've got to get certain
things, and then I'll be ready."

"You want to be careful you don't leave any evidence after you this
time."

"No danger. Will you help me?"

"I guess so, as long as it isn't anything rash."

"No, it won't cause any permanent harm to any one, but it will knock
Clinton out from playing the game, and that's what I'm after. Now come
on. I want to get to Haddonfield before the college crowd starts. It
won't do to be seen where we're going, or there might be an inquiry
afterward."

About an hour later Langridge and Gerhart were in the telegraph office
at Haddonfield. There might have been noticed about the sophomore a
trace of nervousness as he walked up to the little window and inquired
how long it would take to get some money from his uncle in Chicago.

"I want it to come by telegraph," Langridge explained. "I need it in a
hurry."

"Yes, you college chaps usually do," said the agent. "Well, you can get
it late to-night, I suppose, if you send a wire to Chicago now. How much
would you need?"

"Oh, a couple of hundred; maybe five hundred."

The agent whistled.

"That's more than we have on hand here at a time," he said. "I'd have to
get it from the bank, and that couldn't be done until morning."

"Well, there's no great hurry," went on Langridge. "Would I have to be
identified to get it? My guardian--that's my uncle--frequently sends me
money by telegraph when I'm off on trips."

"Oh, yes; you'd have to get some one to vouch for you," said the agent,
"but that will be easy."

"Then I guess I'll telegraph for some," continued the sophomore, and he
began filling out a blank under the directions of the telegrapher.
Langridge, for a youth who had received money by wire before, seemed to
require minute directions, and he kept the agent at the window for
several minutes, holding his attention closely.

"There, I guess that will do," said the student at length. "I'll call
to-morrow for the cash. Hope you have it for me."

"Oh, I'll have it if your uncle sends it."

"He's sure to do that," retorted Langridge with a smile.

"Lucky dog!" murmured the agent as he turned back to his desk. "Some of
those college chaps have more money than is good for them, though."

Langridge hurried from the office. He was joined outside by Gerhart, who
had preceded him out of the door by a few seconds.

"Did you get it?" asked the sophomore.

"Sure," was the gleeful answer, and Gerhart showed several yellow slips.
"Lucky the door was unlocked, so I could sneak in. I just took the
blanks and envelopes off his desk when you held him in conversation.
You know, they keep the receiving blanks in a private drawer, but the
sending ones which you used they leave out where any one can reach
them. But it's all right now. I'll soon put it through."

"I wonder if I'll get that money?" spoke Langridge. "I took a big
chance, but it seemed the only thing to do."

"Of course you'll get it, and I'll help you spend it. That's a fair
division of labor, as Sam Weller used to say."

"Well, you'll have to do the rest," declared his crony as they walked
back to college.

"I'll do it. Don't worry."

They proceeded in silence. Langridge grew less and less talkative, and
to the jokes of Gerhart, who seemed in unusually good spirits, he
returned monosyllabic answers.

"Say, what's the matter with you?" Gerhart finally exclaimed.

"Well, if you must know," answered Langridge, "the more I think of this
the less I like it. It's a brutal thing to do. I wish I hadn't agreed to
help you."

"But you have!" insisted Gerhart. "It's too late to back out now!"

"Yes, I suppose so," was the gloomy answer, and Langridge plodded on
behind his crony.



CHAPTER XXXII

TOM GETS A TIP


It lacked but two days of the big game with Boxer Hall. The Randall
eleven had bucked against the scrub until that aggregation of substitutes
was weary, worn and sore. For the 'varsity team was now a magnificent
fighting machine. The men played together like clock-work, and were a joy
to the heart of Coach Lighton. As for Holly Cross, no captain was ever
prouder of an eleven than he was. The ends were fast, the backs could go
through the line for gains every time, guards, tackles and Snail Looper
at center were like a wall of flesh. The punting, while not all that
could be desired, was good, and several trick plays had been worked up
well nigh to perfection against the scrub. How they would work against
Boxer Hall was yet to be seen.

But if Randall was in fine shape for the coming struggle on the gridiron,
so was Boxer Hall. Reports from that institution showed that the eleven
was the best that had been turned out in many a season, and by comparing
the games played by Randall (the loss of one game to Fairview and the
winning of the other) and those played by Boxer Hall against the same
teams, an expert would have been hard put to pick the winner of the
championship struggle.

"But we're going to win, fellows!" cried Tom after two halves of hard
practice. "Aren't we, Phil, old chap?"

"Of course," was the rather quiet answer.

"How's your mother, Phil?" asked Holly Cross. "I hope she is getting
better."

"I haven't heard for two days," replied the quarter-back, and his face
showed a little worry.

"Well, she must be all right, or your father would have wired," went on
Dutch Housenlager. "My, but I'm tired!" he added.

"Don't go stale," cautioned the coach. "I think I can let up a bit on
you fellows now. We'll have only light practice to-morrow, and the
morning of the game we'll do some kicking and run through the signals.
Don't forget to listen for the word to change the system. We may have to
do it if they get on to our curves, so to speak. But I don't believe
they will. And don't forget that the signals for trick plays have been
altered a bit. Also remember the tip for the sequence plays. I depend on
them for at least one touch-down. Now amuse yourselves some quiet way
to-night. Get to bed early, and sleep well. I hope none of you have any
lessons to worry over."

"We'll not let study worry us, no matter what happens, until after the
game!" cried Grasshopper Backus. "Wow! But what a celebration there'll
be if we win! The baseball championship, and then the football on top of
it! Wow!" and Grasshopper gave a leap into the air to show how exuberant
he felt. But Dutch Housenlager slyly put out his foot, and Grasshopper
went down in a heap.

"I'll punch your head for that, Dutch!" he cried, springing up; but
Dutch, in spite of his bulk, was a good runner, and got away.

"Well, I suppose you gladiators are all ready for the fray," spoke Sid
that evening, when Phil and Tom were in the room, one on the sofa and
the other curled up in the easy chair. Sid was stretched out on his bed.

"Ready to do or die," answered Tom. "I hope it's a nice day."

"Why, you don't mind playing in the rain, do you?" asked Sid. "I thought
you chaps were regular mudlarks."

"So we are," went on Tom. "Only I want to see a good crowd out. It's
more enthusiastic."

"I know what you want," declared Sid. "You want a lot of girls from
Fairview Institute to be on hand. And, what's more, you want some
particular girl to see you make a star play. So does Phil, I'll wager."

"Well, from what I hear there will be a good crowd of Fairview girls to
see the game," said Phil. "Fairview is sore at being walloped twice by
Boxer Hall, and the co-eds want to see us put it all over that crowd. So
they'll be on hand to cheer us."

"Are you sure?" asked Tom.

"Sure--Ruth told me," went on Phil. "Oh, it will be a glorious occasion!
Don't you wish you were playing, Sid?"

"Not for a minute! Baseball for mine! When I want to wallow in the mud
and get my mouth and ears full of it, I know an easier way than playing
football."

"Yes; go out with a camera and get stuck in the swamp!" cried Tom, and
he got up, ready to dodge any missile which Sid might heave at him in
revenge for having his misadventure recalled. But the naturalist only
answered:

"That's all right. I got the best picture of a fox you ever saw. The mud
will come off."

"Oh, you're a hopeless case!" exclaimed Phil as he got up and began to
change his clothes, laying out a particularly "sporty" necktie.

"Hello!" exclaimed Tom in some surprise. "Where are you going?"

"Out," replied his chum noncommittally.

"I thought you were told to stay in and take it easy to-night," said
Sid.

"Well, I'm not going to any exciting place," came from Phil as he
struggled with a stiff collar. "I'll be in early."

"Going to town?" asked Tom.

"Not Haddonfield."

"Where?"

"I'll bet he's going to see some girl!" exclaimed Sid. "He's got perfume
on his handkerchief, and he never wears that tie unless there's a damsel
in the offing."

"Well, I don't mind admitting that there is a young lady in the case,"
spoke Phil. "I'm going to call on my sister, and you can put that in
your pipe and smoke it, you hard-shelled old misogynist!"

"I thought so!" cried Sid. "I knew it. But tell that yarn about your
sister to your grandmother. It's somebody else's sister you're going to
see. You'd never tog up like this for your own sister."

"Maybe," admitted Phil coolly as he finished dressing.

As he stooped over to lace his shoes an envelope fell from his pocket.
Tom picked it up and handed it to him. He could not help seeing the
address, and, with something like a start, he noticed that it was in the
handwriting of Madge Tyler. He handed it to Phil without a word, and he
noticed that a dull red crept up under the bronze skin of his chum's
face. But Phil shoved the note into his pocket and made no comment.

"He's going to see her--Madge," thought Tom, and he tried to struggle
against the bitter feeling that seemed to well up in his heart.

"Leave the door unlocked," was Phil's parting injunction as he went out.
"I'll be in early."

"Girls, girls, girls!" grumbled Sid as he rolled over to a more
comfortable position. "I'll be hanged if I room with you fellows next
term if you don't go a bit easier on this dame question. You don't give
me any attention at all. It's all football and the ladies."

"It will soon be over," murmured Tom.

"Which; football or the ladies?"

"Football," was the answer, given with a laugh.

Sid was asleep when Phil came quietly in, but Tom was wide awake. Still,
he said nothing as Phil went about, getting ready for bed, and when his
chum came close to him, Tom shut his eyes and feigned slumber. There was
something coming between Tom and Phil. Both realized it, yet neither
liked to broach the subject, for it was a delicate one.

"Well, how was your sister?" asked Sid pointedly of Phil the next
morning.

"Very well," replied Phil calmly. "By the way, Tom, she was asking for
you."

"Yes," answered Tom, and there was coldness in his tones. He did not
wait for Phil to go to lectures with him after chapel, but hurried off
alone, and Phil, feeling humiliated, wondered if he had done or said
anything to hurt Tom's feelings. Tom took care to keep out of Phil's way
all that day, and when the last practice was over, save for some light
work the morning of the game, the left-end hurried to his room. As he
entered it he saw a note thrust under the door. He picked it up. It was
addressed to him, and an odd feature of it was that the letters were all
printed.

"Who brought this here?" he asked of Sid, who was studying his biology.

"Didn't know anybody had brought anything."

"Some one shoved this note under the door for me," went on Tom, ripping
open the missive. He could not repress a start as he read, in the same
printed letters that were on the envelope, this message:

     "There is danger threatening Phil Clinton. Watch for it."

"Anything wrong?" asked Sid.

"No--no," spoke Tom slowly, as he tore the note into bits and tossed
them into a basket. "It's just a tip, that's all, but I guess it doesn't
amount to anything."

He walked over to the old sofa and sat down. His brain was in a whirl.
What danger could threaten Phil? Whence had come the mysterious warning?

"It doesn't amount to anything," thought Tom. "If it had, who ever
sent it would have signed his name. It's meant as a joke. I'll pay no
attention to it. I'll not tell Phil. It might worry him. Besides, I
guess he can look out for himself," and Tom shrugged his shoulders.

Ah, Tom, would you have said that but for what had happened in the last
few weeks? But for the fact that Phil and a certain pretty girl had
become fast friends? Tom felt those questions arising in his mind, but
he put them resolutely from him. He did not want to answer them. He went
over to the basket and carefully picked out the torn bits of the note.
He thrust them into his pocket. Sid watched him curiously, but said
nothing. He thought the note was from some girl.

Phil came in a little later. Tom was busy studying, and hardly looked
up; nor did he say anything about the warning he had so mysteriously
received.



CHAPTER XXXIII

"LINE UP!"


Out upon the gridiron they trotted; a mass of lads in suits which showed
contact with mother earth many times, and which, in places, were marked
with blood-stains. The eleven were as full of life as young colts, and
some in their exuberance leaped high in the air, putting their hands on
the shoulders of their mates. Others turned somersaults, and some gave
impromptu boxing exhibitions.

From the grandstand burst a mighty cheer as the Randall supporters
greeted their team. The spontaneous shout was followed by the booming of
the Randall college cry. Then Bean Perkins, with wild waves of his arm,
signaled for the "Rip 'Em Up!" song.

"What a crowd!" murmured Tom as he walked beside Phil. "I never saw such
a bunch."

"Yes, there's a good mob," answered Phil, but somehow there was a note
of indifference in his voice. He had not failed to notice Tom's recent
change of demeanor, and it hurt him. Yet he was too proud to speak of
it, or ask the reason, though, perhaps, he may have guessed what caused
it.

As for Tom, the words of the mysterious warning rang in his ears.
Several times he was on the point of speaking to Phil, but he feared he
would be laughed at.

"After all," thought Tom. "I guess all that it amounts to is that some
one has heard a rumor that there'll be an attempt on the part of some
Boxer Hall players to knock Phil out. They may think they can cripple
him and, without him, our team will go to pieces. But I'll be on the
watch for any dirty playing, and if I catch any one at it I'll smash
him. I'll do my best to keep Phil from getting hurt."

But, if Tom had only known, it was a different sort of danger that
threatened his friend.

Once more the cheers rang out, the shrill voices of the girls forming a
strange contrast to the hoarse voices of the boys and men. For there
were many men present, "old grads," who had come to do honor to Randall,
and many others who came, hoping to see Boxer Hall win. Women there
were, too; and girls, girls, girls! It seemed that all the pretty
students of Fairview Academy were there. They were waving flags and
bunches of ribbon--their own college colors mingled with those of
Randall, for Fairview was on the side of Randall to-day, in retaliation
for a severe drubbing Boxer Hall had administered to the co-educational
institution.

"Is--is your sister here?" asked Tom of Phil. He had meant to ask if
Madge was present, but somehow the words would not come.

"Yes," replied his chum. "She and Madge are over in the A section," and
he motioned with his arm to a certain portion of the grandstand. Tom
looked, hoping he might distinguish two girls out of a crowd of several
hundred. Of course, he could not, and his attention was suddenly called
away from this by the sharp voice of the coach.

"Catch some punts, Parsons!" called Mr. Lighton. "After that we'll line
up for practice."

The Randall eleven was lining up when the Boxer Hall team fairly burst
from their dressing-rooms under the east grandstand. What a roar went
up as they appeared on the white-marked field! The burst of yells
seemed fully to equal the jumble of noise that had been made by the
Randallites. For all of Boxer Hall was on hand to cheer mightily for
their eleven, and the college was a slight favorite over Randall, who,
in years past, had not been known to do anything remarkable on the
gridiron.

Encased in their clumsy garments, the Boxer players looked like young
giants, and when they lined up and ran through several formations they
did it with the precision of clock-work.

"They've improved a heap," was the somewhat dubious remark of Holly
Cross.

"So have we!" exclaimed the coach heartily. "We beat them once, and we
can do it again. Get that idea into your mind and don't let go of it."

"I guess we'll be all right if Clinton doesn't have to get out of the
game," spoke the captain.

"Why? Do you think he'll be hurt?"

"Well, maybe. Boxer Hall sometimes plays a dirty game, and we'll have to
be on the watch. I wish you'd warn the umpire to look out for holding in
the line and slugging. They may do it. They'd go to almost any length to
win this game. They don't want to lose the championship."

"Well, they're going to!" exclaimed the coach. "But about Clinton; you
don't think he's any more likely to be hurt than any other player--nor
as much, do you? He's well protected."

"Yes, I know; but Phil hasn't been himself for the last two days. I
don't know what it is that's bothering him, but it's something. He
doesn't say anything. First I thought it might be a scrap he'd had with
Tom, but they're such good friends I didn't give that much concern.
Then I imagined he might be worrying about his mother, but he told me
yesterday that the chances for a successful operation were good. I don't
know what it is, but he's certainly not himself."

"Oh, you imagine too much!" declared Mr. Lighton with a laugh. "Clinton
is all right. He's a plucky lad. He'll play as long as he can stand.
Look at that game with Wescott."

"Yes, I know; but I----"

"Now, you stop worrying. You're as bad as a girl. But I guess it's
almost time to begin."

Song after song came from the supporters of the rival colleges. The
grandstands were packed to their capacity, and looked like some vast
chessboard with many colored squares, the dark garments of the boys
mingling with the gay dresses and hats of the girls, and the many-hued
ribbons and flags waving over all.

Captain Cross met and shook hands with Captain Stoddard, of Boxer
Hall, preliminary to the toss-up. They were to play similar
positions--full-back. The coin was sent spinning into the air, and
Captain Stoddard won. He elected to defend the south goal, which gave
the ball to Randall to kick off. The referee, umpire and linesmen held a
final consultation. Captain Cross gathered his men together for a word
of encouragement.

"All I've got to say," he remarked simply, "is to play until you can't
play any more."

"That's right," added the coach. "And don't forget about the possibility
of a change in signals being made in the middle of play; nor about the
sequences. I'll depend on you for that, Clinton."

"All right," responded Phil.

The field was slowly being cleared of stragglers. The newspaper
reporters were getting their paper and pencils ready, and photographers,
with their big box-cameras, were snapping individual players as a sort
of practice for catching lightning-like plays later on.

Across the field, toward the group of Randall players, came a lad. He
walked as if undecided as to his errand.

"Get back," warned Holly Cross.

"I've got a message for a feller named Clinton!" cried the lad.

"There he is over there," and Holly, who was in conversation with the
coach, pointed at Phil. The latter started as he took the envelope from
the messenger.

"Who--who gave you this?" asked the quarter-back huskily.

"Feller outside. Give me a half a dollar fer bringin' it in. Any
answer?"

"Wait," replied Phil. His bronze face was strangely white as he tore the
envelope and hastily read the few words on the paper within. He seemed
to sway, but, with a catch of his breath, he recovered his composure.
He read the message again. A mist seemed to come before his eyes. He
murmured to himself: "I mustn't tell them--until after the game--I--I
must play the game out. But--but can I?" He clenched his hands, and his
jaw became more square with the force of his teeth closing tightly
together.

"Any answer?" asked the lad.

"No!" said Phil in a low voice, and he crushed the telegram in his hand,
and thrust the rustling paper inside his jacket.

The lad turned to go, anxious to get a place where he could view the
game. None of Phil's companions seemed to have noticed that he had
received a message. He looked around at his chums.

"I--I've got to play the game," he murmured.

The next instant the whistle blew.

"Line up!" came the cry, and Snail Looper, holding the new yellow ball,
placed it on a little mound of earth ready for the kick-off.



CHAPTER XXXIV

THE GAME


With a mighty swing of his foot Snail Looper sent the ball well into
Boxer territory. Lamson, their right half-back, caught it in his
arms, and, with a good defense, began to rush back with it. Over the
chalk-marks he came, but Tom Parsons was rushing toward him, and dodging
through the intervening players he made a vicious tackle, bringing
Lamson to the ground with a thud on Boxer's thirty-eight-yard line.
There was a quick line-up, and Stoddard, the full-back, made a good try
to encircle Joe Jackson at right end. But the Jersey twin and his mates
piled up on the mass of Boxer players with such good effect that hardly
three yards were gained; and at this showing of the defense of Randall a
punt was decided on.

Pinstock, Boxer's left half-back, made a magnificent drive, and Holly
Cross had to skip nimbly back to catch it. But once he had the pigskin
in his grasp he eluded the Boxer ends, and was well toward the center of
the field before he was downed.

"Our ball!" cried Tom gleefully, and then there came the chance for
Randall to show what she could do.

"Signal!" cried Phil, and his companions wondered at the odd note that
had crept into his voice. It was not of the confident style of orders
that the quarter-back was wont to give. But, as the string of numbers
and letters came rattling out, Phil, in a measure, recovered control of
himself. He gave the word for Kindlings to take the ball at Boxer's
left-end, and smash! into the line went the brawny right half-back. He
gained ten yards so quickly that Boxer Hall was fairly stunned, and when
Holly Cross ripped out eight yards additional the crowd of Randall
supporters were in a mad frenzy of delirious joy.

"Swat 'em! Swat 'em! We have got 'em!" howled Bean Perkins, and forth
from hundreds of throats came booming that song.

Grasshopper Backus and Dutch Housenlager opened a great hole between
their opposite guard and tackle, and into this breach Jerry Jackson was
pulled and hurled for several yards, until he fell under a crushing
weight of husky players at Boxer's thirty-yard-line. Once more Phil's
voice sang out in a signal, and back he snapped the ball to Holly Cross,
who, like some human battering ram, went through for five yards more. It
looked as if Randall was going right down the field for a touch-down,
and Bean Perkins and his cohorts rendered the "Down the Line" song with
good effect.

A touch-down might have resulted from the next play, but unfortunately
for Randall Jerry Jackson made a fumble, and in their anxiety several of
his mates held in the line. There was a prompt penalty enforced, and
back to the forty-yard line the pigskin was taken, where it was turned
over to Randall for another try. Randall's hard work had not gained her
much, and there was an ominous silence on the part of the cheering
throng. Once more came rushing tactics, and they succeeded so well that
in two downs the ball was carried to Boxer's thirty-yard line. Then
Holly Cross decided to try for a field goal, but the wind carried it to
one side, and his mates groaned. So did Bean Perkins and his comrades.

"Isn't that a shame!" exclaimed Madge Tyler to Ruth Clinton.

"Hush, Madge!" answered Ruth. "I want to watch the game. I can't talk. I
want to see what Phil does. I'm afraid he'll be hurt."

"Aren't you worried about Tom Parsons, too?"

"Yes--of course. Aren't you?"

"Not so much."

Ruth looked at her friend sharply, but there was no time for further
talk, as Boxer had brought out the ball to their twenty-five-yard line,
and elected to line up with it instead of punting. At Randall's line
they came, smashing with terrific force, but so well did Holly and his
players hold that only four yards were made. Another attempt brought
even less gain, and then Boxer had to kick. Kindlings saw the ball
coming toward him, and managed by a desperate effort, to get it in his
arms. Back he rushed to the forty-three-yard line, where he fell under a
human mountain.

The first play tried by Randall after this was a forward pass, and the
ball went out of bounds. Holly Cross kicked a twisting punt, and when
Lamson, the Boxer right half, caught it, Tom Parsons downed him almost
in his tracks, so swiftly did the left-end get down under the kick.

"Go through 'em!" implored Captain Stoddard to his men, and at the line
they came smashing with crushing force. For the first time since the
play had begun Randall seemed to give way. Holes were torn in her line,
and through the openings the backs came rushing. They had gained fifteen
yards, in almost as good style as had Randall in the initial play, when
they varied the smashing work by a try around Tom's end. But he was
alert, and got his man in the nick of time. Another try at center failed
to result in a gain, and Boxer Hall had to kick.

Jerry Jackson rushed the ball back for a good distance, and then, with
a fierceness that the Boxer Hall lads could not seem to withstand,
Randall came at their line, going through for substantial gains on
every try.

"That's the stuff! That's the stuff!" cried Dutch Housenlager during a
breathing spell, when one of the Boxer Hall players had to be walked
about to recover his wind. "Eh, Phil? Aren't we putting it all over
them?"

"I--I guess so," answered Phil, and he passed his hand over his head as
if he was dazed.

"Somebody hit you?" asked Tom, blaming himself for not having kept a
closer watch over his chum.

"No--no; I'm all right."

The injured player limped back into line, and the game went on. Smash!
bang! came the Randall players, and they went up to the ten-yard line
with scarcely a stop. In vain did the cohorts of Boxer Hall implore them
to brace. It seemed that they could not. But, just as it looked for all
the world as if the ball would be carried over by Holly Cross, for it
was decided to smash through and not kick, the brace did come, and the
Randall players had to give up the pigskin. In a jiffy Captain Stoddard
had punted out of danger. There was an exchange of kicks, and it ended
with Boxer getting the ball on her forty-yard line.

Then, all at once, a new spirit seemed infused into her players. They
came at Randall with a viciousness that argued well for their spirit.
It was rough work, not noticeable, perhaps, but Tom felt that what he
feared was about to happen; that some plan was afoot to injure Phil. He
played in as far as he dared, but the opposite end was constantly
drawing him out.

At the line came Lamson, the Boxer right-half. He ripped out five yards,
bowling over Sam Looper with such force that the Snail had to have a
little medical treatment. He barely recovered in the two minutes, and
was a bit wobbly when the attack was again directed at him. But Holly
Cross and Jerry Jackson leaped in to his aid, and stopped the advance.
Then Boxer went around right-end, and had ten yards before they were
stopped. The game looked to be going the other way now, and there were
strained looks on the faces of the Randall players and their supporters.
As for the cheering contingent of Boxer Hall, they made the air ring
with their song: "It's Time We Did a Little Business Now!"

"Don't let 'em get through you. Hold 'em! Hold 'em!" cried Holly. "Brace
up, boys!"

Randall tried to, but Boxer had found a weak place between Snail Looper
and Grasshopper Backus, and kept hammering away at it, until they had
advanced the ball to the fifteen-yard line. Then Boxer Hall played a
neat trick. There was every indication that a try for a field goal was
about to be made, and Holly Cross got back. Instead, there was a double
pass, and a play between tackle and right-end. Through the Randall line
burst Frothon, the right-tackle, with the ball tucked under his arm.
Holly Cross saw him just in time, and made a dive for him. But the
Randall full-back's foot slipped, and he went down, making a vain grab
for Frothon, who sped on, and planted the ball behind the goal posts.
Boxer Hall had made the first touch-down, and the crowd of supporters
went wild, while there was corresponding gloom on the grandstands where
Randallites were gathered. The goal was missed, and a scrimmage had
hardly begun after the next kick-off before the whistle blew. The half
was up.

What a buzz of excitement there was in the grandstands! Every one seemed
talking at once.

"That was hard lines," remarked Ford Fenton to Sid, next to whom he was
sitting. "If our fellows had only been a little quicker then, this would
never have happened. My uncle says----"

"Fenton!" exclaimed Sid so fiercely that Ford almost turned pale, "if
you mention 'uncle' again during this game, I'll throw you off the
grandstand," and, as Fenton was rather high up, he concluded to keep
quiet.



CHAPTER XXXV

VICTORY--CONCLUSION


There was despondency in the quarters of the Randall players, where they
gathered between the halves. Gloom sat upon the brow of every one, and
the cheery words of the coach could not seem to dispel it.

"There's only one touch-down against you," he said. "You always play
better uphill than down. Go at 'em now, and tear them apart! They play a
fierce game, but you can play a fiercer! Are any of you hurt? How about
you, Looper?"

"Oh, I'm all right now. It was only my wind. I've got it back. They
won't get through me again," declared the Snail.

"I hope not. You're too fat; that's what's the trouble. How are
you holding out, Clinton?" and the coach turned anxiously to the
quarter-back. Phil was pacing up and down the dressing-room. There was a
strained look on his face, and his hand was inside his blouse, where his
fingers touched a crumpled paper. He did not seem to have heard Mr.
Lighton's question. The coach repeated it.

"Me? Why, I--I guess I can last the game out," said Phil slowly.

"Last the game out? Why, are you hurt?" The coach was a bit disturbed.

"No. Of course not. It was just my way of speaking. It's all right--it's
all right," and Phil resumed his pacing of the narrow quarters.

"Guess he feels that we're going to lose," whispered Dutch Housenlager
to Tom. But Tom shook his head. There was something else the matter with
Phil, and he wondered what it was.

"Do you think they're on to our signals?" asked Holly Cross.

"No," said Phil shortly. "There's no need to change them. I'll use the
same ones."

"Time's almost up," remarked the coach, looking at his watch for about
the fifth time within two minutes.

To the lads it seemed as if they had not had more than a minute's
respite, but they were ready for the fray again, and there was an
eagerness in the manner in which they leaped out on the gridiron which
betokened that snappy playing would follow.

Nor was it long in coming. When Boxer Hall kicked off, amid the chorus
of a spirited song, Kindlings caught the ball, and came back with it on
such a rush, and so well protected by his teammates, that he got past
the center of the field before he was downed. Then at the line went the
Randall lads. Smashing through it, there was no stopping them. Right up
the field they came, surprising even their own coach by their steady
advance. Phil was handling the players with a skill he had never shown
before. Play after play he called for, and the lads responded with vim.
Even a risky on-side kick was tried and was successful. Then a forward
pass netted fifteen yards, and with joy in their hearts the Randall lads
saw themselves approaching their opponent's goal-line.

"Now, boys, play like Trojans!" cried Phil heartily, this being the
signal for four sequence plays. They were ripped off one after the
other, so quickly that, as Holly Cross said, "it made the hair of the
Boxers stand up." For, almost before the visitors were aware of it,
though they tried their best to stem the human tide, the ball was only a
few feet from the line.

"Touch-down! Touch-down! Touch-down!" implored the cheering throng.

"Touch-down it shall be!" whispered Phil fiercely, and he snapped the
ball to Holly Cross, who went through like a battering ram. There was a
mass of players on top of him, the ball and the line. Not until they got
up could it be seen if the pigskin was over. The referee rushed in.
Slowly the players disentangled. The ball was over the line!

"Touch-down!" fairly screamed Tom Parsons. "Touch-down!"

His cry was echoed from the Randall grandstands, and Dutch Housenlager
began a dance around the team, carrying Holly Cross, Grasshopper and the
Jersey twins with him.

"Kick the goal, and we'll be one point ahead of them!" cried Bricktop
Molloy to Holly. "Put all the power ye have to spare into your toe, me
lad, and boost the ball over."

"I'll try," promised the captain, but the wind had increased, and the
pigskin struck the bar and bounded back. But the score was tied, and
Randall felt that she was coming into her own.

"Fast and snappy play, now!" called Phil Clinton, and once more he
passed his hand over his head. There was an air of desperation about
him, and Tom noticed it.

"Maybe he's feeling sick," he thought, and he hurried over to his chum
and asked him.

"I don't feel just right," answered Phil. "But I'm not sick. I'm all
right. Don't say anything. We're going to win. We're going to win!" he
repeated fiercely. "I'm going to run the team to another touch-down.
After that--after that," he faltered--"well, it doesn't matter, after
that."

The ball was kicked off. An exchange of punts followed the scrimmage,
and Boxer Hall got the ball. Her players began some good work, but
Randall was ready for it. Several of the best men were tackled so hard,
though not unfairly, that time had to be taken out for them to recover.
Then Pinstock had to retire because of a twisted ankle, but, to offset
this, Jerry Jackson was knocked out and Everet took his place.

For a few minutes it seemed as if Boxer Hall was going up the field for
another touch-down, but Randall braced in time. Then a sudden change
appeared to come over Phil. He had been playing for all he was worth,
but now he seemed a perfect whirlwind as he called snappily to his men
to take the ball through. And they did it. Through holes torn first on
one side between tackle and guard, or guard and center, and then on the
other wing, Everet, Holly Cross or Kindlings butted their way. Phil
varied this with some end runs and then called for his favorite play,
the fake right-half back and tackle shift, when Kerr took the ball on
the fly and went through the opposite side of his opponents' line with
it. The play netted fifteen yards, and placed the ball on Boxer Hall's
twenty-yard line.

The time was fast drawing to a close. Could Boxer hold the line
sufficiently to prevent Randall from scoring again, making the game a
tie? Or could Randall break through? Those were the questions every one
was asking.

"Now, fellows, for the 'Conquer or Die' song," called Bean Perkins, and
during a silence that followed a brief consultation between Phil and
Holly Cross there welled out over the gridiron the inspiring strains of
"_Aut Vincere Aut Mori_!"

"Signal!" cried Phil, and he gave one for a forward pass. He got the
ball off in good shape, but Nottingham, the burly guard of Boxer Hall,
broke through, and jumped right at the quarter-back, hoping to break up
the play. Phil went down under him, and when Kindlings had been stopped,
after a few yards' advance, the quarter-back did not get up.

"Phil's hurt!" cried Tom, and his heart reproached him for keeping quiet
about the warning. "That was done on purpose!"

There was a rush to where Phil lay. Nottingham was bending over him.

[Illustration: "There was a rush to where Phil lay"]

"By Jove, old man!" he exclaimed contritely. "I didn't mean to hurt you.
Hope I didn't tackle you too hard."

He began rubbing Phil's hands. Holly Cross passed his fingers over the
quarter-back's head.

"He got a nasty bump!" he exclaimed. "Bring some water."

The cold fluid revived the injured lad. He struggled to get up.

"Lie still!" insisted the captain.

"I'm--I'm all right," replied Phil, though faintly. "My head hit a
stone, I guess. Give me a little water, and I'll go on with the game!"

"He's got pluck!" exclaimed Nottingham admiringly, but neither he nor
any of the others knew the full extent of the quarter-back's pluck. "I'm
awfully sorry, old man," went on Nottingham, who was one of the best
fellows in the world. "I didn't mean to come at you so hard."

"That's all right," spoke Phil gently, and he tried to smile. "We're
going to beat you for that."

He got to his feet inside the required two minutes.

"Signal!" he cried, but there was lacking in his tones some of his
old-time vigor. He called for a play between guard and tackle. Right at
Nottingham the play was directed, and Dutch Housenlager was to make
it--big Dutch, who seemed to be all bone, muscle and sinew. A gleam was
in Phil's eyes as he gave the last letter of the signal.

There were but four yards to go to make a touch-down. Could Randall do
it? "They must do it! They would do it!" Phil was deciding for the whole
team. He felt that they must make that distance, if he had to carry the
entire eleven on his shoulders. Snail Looper was about to snap the ball
back. Boxer Hall was bracing as she had never braced before. It was now
or never. If Randall got a second touch-down it would mean practically
that she would win the game and the championship.

Back came the ball. Phil passed it to Dutch, and up against the solid
wall of flesh went the big right-tackle. You could almost hear the
impact over in the grandstand. Behind him were his mates. In front of
him, pulling and hauling on him, were more of them. On either side were
the Boxer Hall players, who had been torn from their places to make a
hole. From either side they came leaping in to stop the gap--to stop the
advance of the man with the ball. On and on struggled Dutch. He felt
that he was not himself--that he was but a small part of that seething,
struggling mass--an atom in a crushing, grinding, whirling, heaving,
boiling caldron of human beings. Breaths were coming short and quick,
eyes were flashing. It was push and shove, haul, slip, stumble. Player
was piled on player. Tom Parsons and the other ends were on the outside.
Holly Cross was pushing and shoving, glad if he felt the mass in front
of him give but the fraction of an inch.

Then, from somewhere beneath that mass of humanity, came the voice of
Dutch Housenlager.

"Down!" he called faintly.

The heaving human hill slowly settled down, as when the fire is
withdrawn from under a boiling kettle.

The whistle blew. Slowly the mass was disintegrated. Sore, bruised,
scratched; bleeding some of them, lame most of them, desperately anxious
all of them, the players fell apart. Dutch was lying on his face, his
big back arched. The ball was not to be seen. Had there been a fumble?
The goal line passed beneath the stomach of the big tackle. Slowly he
arose, and then such a shout as rent the air.

For the ball was under him! It was over the line! He had made the
touch-down!

Oh, how the stands vibrated with the yells, the cheers, the songs, the
delirious leaping up and down, the stamping of feet and the clapping of
hands! How the Fairview girls shrilly screamed their college cry! How it
was caught up, swallowed and silenced by the booming cheers from the
Randall cohorts!

For Randall had won. Even if she could not kick the goal, she had won,
as there remained but one minute more of play. But the goal was kicked.
Holly Cross saw to that, and then, with a final, useless kick-off,
and after the final whistle had blown, the Randall players gathered
together, their arms about each other, and cheered heartily and mightily
for the victory.

Dutch was hoisted to the shoulders of his mates protestingly, and
carried about. The Boxer Hall eleven was cheered, and they gave back a
perfunctory, complimentary yell for their opponents. They had been
beaten where they hoped to win. Beaten twice in the season by their
former victims. It was humiliating.

"Here!" cried Holly Cross. "Up with Phil Clinton. He piloted the team to
victory!"

"That's right!" shouted Bricktop. "Up with him!"

But Phil was running toward the grandstand at top speed; toward the A
section where, he had told Tom, Madge and Ruth sat.

"He's hurrying to receive the congratulations of Madge," thought Tom
bitterly.

Holly Cross took after the fleeing quarter-back.

"Come here!" he cried.

"Can't," answered Phil desperately, and the captain saw that his face
was drawn and strained.

"Why not?" demanded Holly.

"Because--read that!" and Phil held out a crumpled telegram. Slowly
Holly deciphered it:

     "Come at once. Your mother is dying."

It was signed with Phil's father's name.

"When did you get this?" asked the captain slowly, while the other
players gathered about.

"It came just--just before the game," answered Phil. "I must go--and
get my sister. We must start for Florida--at once."

"Just before the game?" said Holly in a low voice. "Just before the
game? And you played, knowing that--that your mother was--was----"

Holly faltered. There was a huskiness in his voice.

"I played the game," said Phil simply. "I--I didn't want to tell you
fellows, for fear you'd put a substitute in. But I'm going, now," and he
turned toward the grandstand.

"Talk about pluck!" exclaimed Holly Cross. "If that isn't the best
exhibition of it, I never want to hear of any."

"Pluck!" murmured Bricktop Molloy. "He's pluck personified. Poor Phil!"
and the big left-guard turned aside. Slowly Phil's mates watched him
making his way to where his sister sat. The gridiron was swarming with
spectators now. Bean Perkins came running over.

"We'll have a great celebration to-night!" he cried to the players and
the substitutes.

"No!" said Holly Cross simply.

"Why not?"

"Because Phil's mother is dying. He's got to go to her."

Up the grandstand leaped Phil. Tom had hurried after him, ready to do
what he could to aid his chum to get a train. Phil saw Ruth and Madge
together. At the sight of her brother Ruth cried:

"Oh, Phil, wasn't it glorious? I'm so glad you won! Why--wh--what's the
matter?" she gasped at the sight of his pale face.

"Mother!" he exclaimed huskily. "Didn't--haven't you a telegram?"

"Yes. Did you get one, too?" and she fumbled in her muff. "Oh, Phil, I'm
so happy! She's all better! The operation was a success, and she's going
to get well! I got mine just before the game, and I supposed you did,
too. I was waiting for you to come to me, but I guess you didn't have a
chance. Oh, I'm so glad!" and she threw her arms around her brother's
neck.

"Going to get well? Operation a success? Why, I--I didn't get a telegram
like that!" exclaimed Phil in bewilderment.

"There's mine," said Ruth, producing it. "I left word to forward any
that might come to Fairview to me here. I gave the number of my seat
here to the Fairview operator, and I got the message just before play
began. But didn't you get yours?"

Before Phil could answer a diminutive messenger boy pushed his way
through the crowd.

"Is dis Phil Clinton?" he asked boldly.

"That's me," replied Phil quickly, but he hardly knew what he said.

"Den here's a message fer youse. I tried t' git it t' youse before de
game, but de cop wouldn't let me in on de grass. So I stayed and seen de
scrap. Hully chee! But it was a peach! I'm glad youse fellers won. Sign
dere!" and the lad held out his book with the message in.

As in a dream Phil signed, and then tore open the envelope. The message
was a duplicate of the one his sister had.

"Any answer?" asked the lad, as he gazed in admiration at Phil, and Tom,
who stood close beside him. "Hully chee! But youse is husky brutes,"
spoke the modern Mercury, but it was only his way of properly admiring
the football heroes.

"Yes, there's an answer," said Phil, and he scribbled on a piece of
paper a bystander thrust into his hand this telegram:

     "Dear Dad: Best news I ever got! We won the game!"

And he signed it with the names of his sister and himself.

"May I add my good wishes, not only on the recovery of your mother, but
on the way you played the game?" asked Madge, blushing, and holding out
her hand to Phil. He clasped her fingers in his.

"Same here!" cried Tom, as he caught a roguish glance from the eyes of
Ruth. "Oh, but I'm glad for your sake, old man!" and he gave Phil such a
clap on the back as to make the teeth of the quarter-back clatter. "I'm
so glad!"

"I know you are," said Phil simply, and as he shook hands with his chum
he knew, somehow, that the little cloud that had come between them had
passed away.

"Tra, la, la! Merrily do we sing and dance!" cried Tom in the exuberance
of his feelings. "Come down on the field, Phil, Madge, Ruth, and we'll
play 'Ring Around the Rosy'!"

Laughingly they descended with him, and added to the merriment of the
throng by gaily circling about in it.

But, with all his joy, Phil was puzzled. Where had the first telegram
come from? Had it been a mistake? Had the operator blundered? He said
nothing to his sister about the message received just before the game.

The good news quickly spread among the Randall players, and they soon
arranged for a celebration. A big fire was kindled, on it were thrown
their football suits, for the season was over, and then the champion
eleven broke training. A dinner was served that night in the gymnasium,
and many girls from Fairview, including Ruth and Madge, attended.

"But I can't understand where this message came from," Phil was saying
to Tom and Sid a few hours later in their room. "Jove, but it almost
knocked me out when I got it! But I knew I had to play the game." He was
examining the telegram he had first received.

"Let's see that message," said Sid, and he scanned it closely. "That's a
fake!" he said suddenly.

"A fake!" repeated Tom and Phil.

"Yes. There's no check number on it. No message is ever sent out without
a check number on it. This never came over the wire. Some one got hold
of a receiving blank and an envelope, and played this brutal trick.
Maybe it was one of the Boxer Hall fellows. He wanted to get your nerve,
so you'd drop out of the game."

"I don't believe it was a Boxer Hall chap," said Phil.

"Then it was some one who had a grudge against you," insisted Sid. "We
can inquire at the telegraph office and find out, maybe."

Tom uttered an exclamation. He had suddenly thought of the mysterious
warning he had received. Quickly he brought out the torn pieces of
paper. He saw it all now. The warning had been intended to cover the
telegram--not a physical danger, but a mental one. Rapidly he explained
how he got the note.

"I didn't say anything to you, Phil," he concluded, "because I was--I
was afraid you'd laugh at me. And I kept my eyes open in the game."

"I understand," spoke the quarter-back. "But who sent this warning?"

Sid was eagerly examining it, for Tom had pasted the torn pieces
together.

"I have it!" cried Sid. "Langridge sent this!"

"How do you know?" came from Phil and Tom at once.

"Because that's the kind of paper he uses. It has a peculiar water-mark.
I'll show you. I have an old baseball note I got from him last term."

Sid brought out his note. The two were compared. The paper was exactly
similar, and there were even some characteristic similarities in the
writing, though one was in script and the other printed.

"Langridge sent this," decided Sid, and the others agreed with him.

"Then who sent the fake telegram?" inquired Phil.

"Gerhart, for all the world!" exclaimed Sid. "The cad! To play such a
brutal trick!" Sid caught up his cap.

"Where are you going?" asked Tom.

"I'm going to confront him with this evidence, and have him run out of
college!" burst out Sid. "This ends his course!"

But Gerhart had anticipated what was coming, when he saw that the cruel
telegram he had sent Phil had had no effect, and that the plucky
quarter-back continued playing. He evidently knew the game was up, and
fled. For, when Sid called at the fashionable eating club, where Gerhart
and Langridge had recently taken a room, he found only the former
'varsity pitcher there.

"Where's Gerhart?" asked Sid savagely.

"Gone," said Langridge, and he began to shake. He trembled more when Sid
threw down the incriminating evidence, and blurted out the story.

"It's all true," confessed Langridge. "Gerhart stole the telegraph blank
and an envelope, while I kept the agent busy talking about some money I
expected to get. Gerhart made me go in the scheme with him, but I--I
couldn't stand it, and I sent Tom the tip. I'm done with Gerhart. He
faked the message to Phil and hired a boy to deliver it. I'm through
with him!"

"I should think you would be!" burst out Sid, walking about the room. It
was in confusion, for Gerhart had hurriedly departed. Sid's eye saw a
bottle on the closet shelf. "What's this, Langridge?" he asked. "Why,
it's liniment! The same kind Phil had, and which stiffened my hand! How
did it get here? It's the same bottle that was broken--no, it can't be,
yet there's the same blot on the label. How in thunder----"

Then Langridge confessed to that trick of Gerhart's also.

"He ought to be tarred and feathered!" cried the angry Sid. "If I had
him here! But you're almost as bad, Langridge. You helped him!"

"I know it. I'm going to leave college, if you'll only keep still about
this. Will you?" pleaded the cringing lad.

"Yes; for the sake of the college, not for you," spoke Sid, and that is
how only the three chums knew the real story of the dastardly meanness
of the two cronies. They thought they were well rid of their enemies,
but they were mistaken. Those of you who care to read further of the
happenings at Randall College may do so in the next book, to be called
"Batting to Win." In that volume we shall meet all our friends again,
and learn what Sid did during the greatest baseball game of the next
season, and when the collegiate championship hung in the balance.

"Well, it's all over but the shouting," said Phil to his chums, as they
sat in their room that night. From without came the joyous cries of
those who were celebrating the football victory.

"All but putting a bronze tablet in the gym, to commemorate the pluck
you showed," added Tom.

"Aw, forget it!" spoke Phil, as he got into a more comfortable position
on the creaking sofa. "Anybody would have done the same to see his team
win."

"Maybe," said Sid softly as he got up from the easy chair to look at his
favorite football picture.

Then came a silence in the room, and the fussy little alarm clock had
matters all to itself. It ticked away at a great rate.

Tom, who had been standing near the window, crossed to the opposite
wall, and stood before the picture of a laughing girl. Phil saw him,
smiled, and then, he, too, slowly arose from the decrepit sofa and went
closer to a photograph of another girl. Thus the three stood, and the
clock ticked on with quick, impatient strokes, and not a word was
spoken.


THE END



THE COLLEGE SPORTS SERIES

BY LESTER CHADWICK

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors_

_=Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid=_


[Illustration]

_Mr. Chadwick has played on the diamond and on the gridiron himself._


 1. THE RIVAL PITCHERS
    _A Story of College Baseball_

Tom Parsons, a "hayseed," makes good on the scrub team of Randall
College.


 2. A QUARTERBACK'S PLUCK
    _A Story of College Football_

A football story, told in Mr. Chadwick's best style, that is bound to
grip the reader from the start.


 3. BATTING TO WIN
    _A Story of College Baseball_

Tom Parsons and his friends Phil and Sid are the leading players on
Randall College team. There is a great game.


 4. THE WINNING TOUCHDOWN
    _A Story of College Football_

After having to reorganize their team at the last moment, Randall makes
a touchdown that won a big game.


 5. FOR THE HONOR OF RANDALL
    _A Story of College Athletics_

The winning of the hurdle race and long-distance run is extremely
exciting.


 6. THE EIGHT-OARED VICTORS
    _A Story of College Water Sports_

Tom, Phil and Sid prove as good at aquatic sports as they are on track,
gridiron and diamond.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers    New York



THE JACK RANGER SERIES

BY CLARENCE YOUNG

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors_

_=Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid=_


[Illustration]

_Lively stories of outdoor sports and adventure every boy will want to
read._


 1. JACK RANGER'S SCHOOL DAYS
    _or The Rivals of Washington Hall_

You will love Jack Ranger--you simply can't help it. He is bright and
cheery, and earnest in all he does.


 2. JACK RANGER'S WESTERN TRIP
    _or From Boarding School to Ranch and Range_

This volume takes the hero to the great West. Jack is anxious to clear
up the mystery surrounding his father's disappearance.


 3. JACK RANGER'S SCHOOL VICTORIES
    _or Track, Gridiron and Diamond_

Jack gets back to Washington Hall and goes in for all sorts of school
games. There are numerous contests on the athletic field.


 4. JACK RANGER'S OCEAN CRUISE
    _or The Wreck of the Polly Ann_

How Jack was carried off to sea against his will makes a "yarn" no boy
will want to miss.


 5. JACK RANGER'S GUN CLUB
    _or From Schoolroom to Camp and Trail_

Jack organizes a gun club and with his chums goes in quest of big game.
They have many adventures in the mountains.


 6. JACK RANGER'S TREASURE BOX
    _or The Outing of the Schoolboy Yachtsmen_

Jack receives a box from his father and it is stolen. How he regains it
makes an absorbing tale.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers    New York



THE GREAT MARVEL SERIES

BY ROY ROCKWOOD

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors_

_=Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid=_


[Illustration]

_Stories of adventures in strange places, with peculiar people and queer
animals._


 1. THROUGH THE AIR TO THE NORTH POLE
    _or The Wonderful Cruise of the Electric Monarch_

The tale of a trip to the frozen North with a degree of reality that is
most convincing.


 2. UNDER THE OCEAN TO THE SOUTH POLE
    _or The Strange Cruise of the Submarine Wonder_

A marvelous trip from Maine to the South Pole, telling of adventures
with the sea-monsters and savages.


 3. FIVE THOUSAND MILES UNDERGROUND
    _or The Mystery of the Center of the Earth_

A cruise to the center of the earth through an immense hole found at an
island in the ocean.


 4. THROUGH SPACE TO MARS
    _or The Most Wonderful Trip on Record_

This book tells how the journey was made in a strange craft and what
happened on Mars.


 5. LOST ON THE MOON
    _or In Quest of the Field of Diamonds_

Strange adventures on the planet which is found to be a land of
desolation and silence.


 6. ON A TORN-AWAY WORLD
    _or Captives of the Great Earthquake_

After a tremendous convulsion of nature the adventurers find themselves
captives on a vast "island in the air."


 7. THE CITY BEYOND THE CLOUDS
    _or Captured by the Red Dwarfs_

The City Beyond the Clouds is a weird place, full of surprises, and the
impish Red Dwarfs caused no end of trouble. There is a fierce battle in
the woods and in the midst of this a volcanic eruption sends the
Americans sailing away in a feverish endeavor to save their lives.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers    New York



_The Boy Hunters Series_

_By Captain Ralph Bonehill_

12mo. Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid.


[Illustration]

 FOUR BOY HUNTERS
 _Or, The Outing of the Gun Club_

A fine, breezy story of the woods and waters, of adventures in search of
game, and of great times around the campfire, told in Captain Bonehill's
best style. In the book are given full directions for camping out.


 GUNS AND SNOWSHOES
 _Or, The Winter Outing of the Young Hunters_

In this volume the young hunters leave home for a winter outing on the
shores of a small lake. They hunt and trap to their heart's content, and
have adventures in plenty, all calculated to make boys "sit up and take
notice." A good healthy book; one with the odor of the pine forests and
the glare of the welcome campfire in every chapter.


 YOUNG HUNTERS OF THE LAKE
 _Or, Out with Rod and Gun_

Another tale of woods and waters, with some strong hunting scenes and a
good deal of mystery. The three volumes make a splendid outdoor series.


 OUT WITH GUN AND CAMERA
 _Or, The Boy Hunters in the Mountains_

Takes up the new fad of photographing wild animals as well as shooting
them. An escaped circus chimpanzee and an escaped lion add to the
interest of the narrative.


CUPPLES & LEON CO., Publishers    NEW YORK



THE BOB DEXTER SERIES

BY WILLARD F. BAKER

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors_

_=Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid=_


[Illustration]

_This is a new line of stories for boys, by the author of the Boy
Ranchers series. The Bob Dexter books are of the character that may be
called detective stories, yet they are without the objectionable
features of the impossible characters and absurd situations that mark so
many of the books in that class. These stories deal with the up-to-date
adventures of a normal, healthy lad who has a great desire to solve
mysteries._


 1. BOB DEXTER AND THE CLUB-HOUSE MYSTERY
    _or The Missing Golden Eagle_

This story tells how the Boys' Athletic Club was despoiled of its
trophies in a strange manner, and how, among other things stolen, was
the Golden Eagle mascot. How Bob Dexter turned himself into an amateur
detective and found not only the mascot, but who had taken it, makes
interesting and exciting reading.


 2. BOB DEXTER AND THE BEACON BEACH MYSTERY
    _or The Wreck of the Sea Hawk_

When Bob and his chum went to Beacon Beach for their summer vacation,
they were plunged, almost at once, into a strange series of events, not
the least of which was the sinking of the Sea Hawk. How some men tried
to get the treasure off the sunken vessel, and how Bob and his chum
foiled them, and learned the secret of the lighthouse, form a great
story.


 3. BOB DEXTER AND THE STORM MOUNTAIN MYSTERY
    _or The Secret of the Log Cabin_

Bob Dexter came upon a man mysteriously injured and befriended him. This
led the young detective into the swirling midst of a series of strange
events and into the companionship of strange persons, not the least of
whom was the man with the wooden leg. But Bob got the best of this
vindictive individual, and solved the mystery of the log cabin, showing
his friends how the secret entrance to the house was accomplished.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, PUBLISHERS    New York



THE MOTOR BOYS SERIES

BY CLARENCE YOUNG

_12mo. Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid_


[Illustration]

    THE MOTOR BOYS
    _or Chums Through Thick and Thin_

    THE MOTOR BOYS OVERLAND
    _or A Long Trip for Fun and Fortune_

    THE MOTOR BOYS IN MEXICO
    _or The Secret of the Buried City_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ACROSS THE PLAINS
    _or The Hermit of Lost Lake_

    THE MOTOR BOYS AFLOAT
    _or The Cruise of the Dartaway_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON THE ATLANTIC
    _or The Mystery of the Lighthouse_

    THE MOTOR BOYS IN STRANGE WATERS
    _or Lost in a Floating Forest_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON THE PACIFIC
    _or The Young Derelict Hunters_

    THE MOTOR BOYS IN THE CLOUDS
    _or A Trip for Fame and Fortune_

    THE MOTOR BOYS OVER THE ROCKIES
    _or A Mystery of the Air_

    THE MOTOR BOYS OVER THE OCEAN
    _or A Marvelous Rescue in Mid-Air_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON THE WING
    _or Seeking the Airship Treasure_

    THE MOTOR BOYS AFTER A FORTUNE
    _or The Hut on Snake Island_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON THE BORDER
    _or Sixty Nuggets of Gold_

    THE MOTOR BOYS UNDER THE SEA
    _or From Airship to Submarine_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON ROAD AND RIVER
    _or Racing to Save a Life_

    THE MOTOR BOYS AT BOXWOOD HALL
    _or Ned, Bob and Jerry as Freshmen_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON A RANCH
    _or Ned, Bob and Jerry Among the Cowboys_

    THE MOTOR BOYS IN THE ARMY
    _or Ned, Bob and Jerry as Volunteers_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON THE FIRING LINE
    _or Ned, Bob and Jerry Fighting for Uncle Sam_

    THE MOTOR BOYS BOUND FOR HOME
    _or Ned, Bob and Jerry on the Wrecked Troopship_

    THE MOTOR BOYS ON THUNDER MOUNTAIN
    _or The Treasure Box of Blue Rock_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers    New York



THE BASEBALL JOE SERIES

BY LESTER CHADWICK

_12mo. Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid_


[Illustration]

 1. BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS
    _or The Rivals of Riverside_

Joe is an everyday country boy who loves to play baseball and
particularly to pitch.


 2. BASEBALL JOE ON THE SCHOOL NINE
    _or Pitching for the Blue Banner_

Joe's great ambition was to go to boarding school and play on the school
team.


 3. BASEBALL JOE AT YALE
    _or Pitching for the College Championship_

In his second year at Yale Joe becomes a varsity pitcher.


 4. BASEBALL JOE IN THE CENTRAL LEAGUE
    _or Making Good as a Professional Pitcher_

From Yale College to a baseball league of our Central States.


 5. BASEBALL JOE IN THE BIG LEAGUE
    _or A Young Pitcher's Hardest Struggles_

From the Central League Joe goes to the St. Louis Nationals.


 6. BASEBALL JOE ON THE GIANTS
    _or Making Good as a Twirler in the Metropolis_

Joe was traded to the Giants and became their mainstay.


 7. BASEBALL JOE IN THE WORLD SERIES
    _or Pitching for the Championship_

What Joe did to win the series will thrill the most jaded reader.


 8. BASEBALL JOE AROUND THE WORLD
    _or Pitching on a Grand Tour_

The Giants and the All-Americans tour the world.


 9. BASEBALL JOE: HOME RUN KING
    _or The Greatest Pitcher and Batter on Record_

Joe becomes the greatest batter in the game.


 10. BASEBALL JOE SAVING THE LEAGUE
     _or Breaking Up a Great Conspiracy_

Throwing the game meant a fortune but also dishonor.


 11. BASEBALL JOE CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM
     _or Bitter Struggles on the Diamond_

Joe is elevated to the position of captain.


 12. BASEBALL JOE CHAMPION OF THE LEAGUE
     _or The Record that was Worth While_

A plot is hatched to put Joe's pitching arm out of commission.


 13. BASEBALL JOE CLUB OWNER
     _or Putting the Home Town on the Map_

Joe developes muscle weakness and is ordered off the field for a year.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers    New York



SEA STORIES FOR BOYS

BY JOHN GABRIEL ROWE

_Large 12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Colored jacket_

_=Price per volume, $1.00 Net=_


[Illustration]

_Every boy who knows the lure of exploring, and who loves to rig up huts
and caves and tree-houses to fortify himself against imaginary enemies
will enjoy these books, for they give a vivid chronicle of the doings
and inventions of a group of boys who are shipwrecked and have to make
themselves snug and safe in tropical islands where the dangers are too
real for play._


 1. CRUSOE ISLAND

Dick, Alf and Fred find themselves stranded on an unknown island with
the old seaman Josh. Their ship destroyed by fire, their friends lost,
they have to make shift for themselves for a whole exciting year before
being rescued.


 2. THE ISLAND TREASURE

With much ingenuity these boys fit themselves into the wild life of the
island they are cast upon in storm. They build various kinds of
strongholds and spend most of their time outwitting their enemies.


 3. THE MYSTERY OF THE DERELICT

Their ship and companions perished in tempest at sea, the boys are
adrift in a small open boat when they spy a ship. Such a strange
vessel!--no hand guiding it, no soul on board,--a derelict. It carries a
gruesome mystery, as the boys soon discover, and it leads them into a
series of strange experiences.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, PUBLISHERS    New York



THE BOMBA BOOKS

BY ROY ROCKWOOD

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. With colored jacket_

_=Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid=_


[Illustration]

_Bomba lived far back in the jungles of the Amazon with a half-demented
naturalist who told the lad nothing of his past. The jungle boy was a
lover of birds, and hunted animals with a bow and arrow and his trusty
machete. He had a primitive education in some things, and his daring
adventures will be followed with breathless interest by thousands._


 1. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY
    _or The Old Naturalist's Secret_

In the depth of the jungle Bomba lives a life replete with thrilling
situations. Once he saves the lives of two American rubber hunters who
ask him who he is, and how he had come into the jungle. He sets off to
solve the mystery of his identity.


 2. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AT THE MOVING MOUNTAIN
    _or The Mystery of the Caves of Fire_

Bomba travels through the jungle, encountering wild beasts and hostile
natives. At last he trails the old man of the burning mountain to his
cave and learns more concerning himself.


 3. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AT THE GIANT CATARACT
    _or Chief Nascanora and His Captives_

From the Moving Mountain Bomba travels to the Giant Cataract, still
searching out his parentage. Among the Pilati Indians he finds some
white captives, and an aged opera singer who is the first to give Bomba
real news of his forebears.


 4. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY ON JAGUAR ISLAND
    _or Adrift on the River of Mystery_

Jaguar Island was a spot as dangerous as it was mysterious and Bomba was
warned to keep away. But the plucky boy sallied forth and met adventures
galore.


 5. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY IN THE ABANDONED CITY
    _or A Treasure Ten Thousand Years Old_

Years ago this great city had sunk out of sight beneath the trees of
the jungle. A wily half-breed and his tribe thought to carry away its
treasure of gold and precious stones. Bomba follows.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers    New York



THE BOY RANCHERS SERIES

BY WILLARD F. BAKER

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors_

_=Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid=_


[Illustration]

_Stories of the great west, with cattle ranches as a setting, related in
such a style as to captivate the hearts of all boys._


 1. THE BOY RANCHERS
    _or Solving the Mystery at Diamond X_

Two eastern boys visit their cousin. They become involved in an exciting
mystery.


 2. THE BOY RANCHERS IN CAMP
    _or The Water Fight at Diamond X_

Returning for a visit, the two eastern lads learn, with delight, that
they are to become boy ranchers.


 3. THE BOY RANCHERS ON THE TRAIL
    _or The Diamond X After Cattle Rustlers_

Our boy heroes take the trail after Del Pinzo and his outlaws.


 4. THE BOY RANCHERS AMONG THE INDIANS
    _or Trailing the Yaquis_

Rosemary and Floyd are captured by the Yaqui Indians but the boy
ranchers trailed them into the mountains and effected the rescue.


 5. THE BOY RANCHERS AT SPUR CREEK
    _or Fighting the Sheep Herders_

Dangerous struggle against desperadoes for land rights brings out heroic
adventures.


 6. THE BOY RANCHERS IN THE DESERT
    _or Diamond X and the Lost Mine_

One night a strange old miner almost dead from hunger and hardship
arrived at the bunk house. The boys cared for him and he told them of
the lost desert mine.


 7. THE BOY RANCHERS ON ROARING RIVER
    _or Diamond X and the Chinese Smugglers_

The boy ranchers help capture Delton's gang who were engaged in
smuggling Chinese across the border.


_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers    New York



 Transcriber's Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_); text in
   bold by "equal" signs (=bold=).

 --Printer, punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently
   corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved, except as noted
   below.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 --Standardized instances of "Westcott" (p. 220, p. 222) to the more
   frequent "Wescott" University.

 --Retained author's long dash style.





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