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Title: For the Honor of the School - A Story of School Life and Interscholastic Sport
Author: Barbour, Ralph Henry
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.

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                      FOR THE HONOR OF THE SCHOOL



                 [Illustration: The charging players.]



                             FOR THE HONOR
                             OF THE SCHOOL

                        A Story of School Life
                       and Interscholastic Sport

                                  By
                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR
                        Author of the Half-Back

                     _Illustrated by C. M. Relyea_


                            [Illustration]


                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                           D. APPLETON & CO.
                                 1912



                           Copyright, 1900,
                      By D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.


                Printed in the United States of America



                            TO THAT SCHOOL,
                          WHEREVER IT MAY BE,
                      WHOSE ATHLETICS ARE PUREST,
                        THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                               PAGE
      I.--THE CROSS-COUNTRY RACE          1
     II.--WHAT A LAUGH DID               13
    III.--IN 15 BRADLEY                  24
     IV.--THE REVOLT BEGINS              36
      V.--PRINCIPAL AND PRINCIPLES       47
     VI.--WAYNE PAYS A BILL              57
    VII.--THE REVOLT ENDS                68
   VIII.--THE FOOTBALL GAME              78
     IX.--PAINFUL LESSONS                92
      X.--GRAY GOES INTO BUSINESS       102
     XI.--THE MYSTERIOUS SKATER         113
    XII.--THE FACULTY RACE              121
   XIII.--IN TRAINING                   132
    XIV.--BENSON MAKES A FIND           142
     XV.--WAYNE RAISES A FLAG           151
    XVI.--AND LOWERS IT                 160
   XVII.--ON THE CINDER TRACK           171
  XVIII.--DON LOSES HIS TEMPER          180
    XIX.--THE HOME RUN                  189
     XX.--BADLY BEATEN                  199
    XXI.--REMSEN’S PLEDGE               206
   XXII.--DAVE IS MADE HAPPY            215
  XXIII.--THE INTERSCHOLASTIC MEET      228
   XXIV.--WON AT THE FINISH             238
    XXV.--FINIS CORONAT OPUS            245



FOR THE HONOR OF THE SCHOOL



CHAPTER I

THE CROSS-COUNTRY RACE


“This way, Hillton!”

In response ten boys dressed in white shirts bearing the crimson H,
white running pants, and spiked shoes disentangled themselves from the
crowd about the dressing-room door and assembled at the corner of the
grand stand. The youth who had uttered the command was the captain of
the Hillton Academy Cross-country Team, and, with the runners clustered
close about him, he gave his last instructions before the race in low
and earnest tones:

“Fellows, we must win this, you know. It’s going to be hard work; House
and Beaming, of St. Eustace, are difficult men to beat, but I think
we can do it. Northrop and I will try to attend to them. The rest of
you must try your best for the next places. I don’t believe there is
a dangerous runner in Shrewsburg’s team; at all events, there aren’t
four. If they get less than four in ahead of us it won’t matter. Save
yourselves for the last three quarters of a mile, and don’t try to
leap the ‘combination jump’ or the ‘Liverpool’; get over by the side
railings or run up the braces, as you’ve done in practice. It’s not
style over the obstacles that’s going to win this race, but good hard
running and lots of wind at the end. Keep your strength till you need
it most. Don’t try to get ahead at the start; let the other fellow make
the pace. And right now, while I think of it, do try not to take off
too soon at the water jump. Moore, you try to remember about that, will
you? And be sure before you start that your shoes are all right; it’s
mighty tough work running with a scraped heel, I can tell you. That’s
all; only keep yourselves moving, fellows, until the line-up.”

In obedience to the warning, shoes were looked after again and the
cotton wool stuffed carefully between them and the ankles to preclude
chafing, and the boys limbered up their legs and kept the blood
circulating by stepping gingerly about the track on their toes--for all
the world like a band of Indians performing a war dance. Presently the
dressing-room door was flung open and twenty other boys trotted out
and followed the example of the Hillton team. Of the twenty, ten bore
on their sleeveless shirts the blue monogram of St. Eustace and ten
the great green S of Shrewsburg High School. The distance judges had
already taken themselves off to their posts of duty about the course,
and the other officials were gathered in consultation at the starting
line.

It was a bleak and cheerless Saturday afternoon. Overhead leaden clouds
hung low, and the fluttering red flags that marked the course of the
coming contest alone lent color to the gray November landscape.

“Smells like snow, Wayne,” said the Hillton captain to a runner who
stood--or rather danced--beside him. “I hope it won’t. The ground’s
slippery enough now.”

“Rather wish it would, myself,” was the reply. “If I could get decently
stuck in a snow bank I’d like it a heap better than finishing last in
the race.”

“You won’t do that, you know. Lots of those Shrewsburg chaps are slow
men. I wish I was as certain that we’d win the race as I am that you’ll
finish well.”

“Well, I’ll do my best, Don, but you mustn’t expect too much,” said the
other boy anxiously. “I wouldn’t have gone into it if you hadn’t said
that it didn’t much matter whether I came in first or last.”

“And it doesn’t; but I am certain, Wayne, that if you try you can
finish well up in the bunch. I think you’ve got the making of a good
runner. Of course, three weeks of training--that is, the kind of
training you’ve done”--the other lad grinned--“doesn’t amount to a
great deal when it comes to a four-mile race. After the first round
pick some St. Eustace fellow and stick to him; you’ll be surprised to
find how much better it goes if some one is making pace for you. By
Jove! I do hope we can win to-day! This is your first term, Wayne, and
of course you don’t know how the fellows feel about it; but I tell you
we’d rather down St. Eustace than--than eat!”

“They won last year, didn’t they?”

“St. Eustace? Yes, that chap Beaming over there, the little chap
that looks like a fox terrier, came in first and won the individual
championship. Then House finished next about three yards behind, and
I got in ten yards or so back of House. Then they got two more men
in before another Hillton runner was in sight. Oh, it was a regular
walk-over, Wayne. Come on, they’re ready.”

And Donald Cunningham and Wayne Gordon hurried to the starting line.
The former was a tall, lithe youth with not an ounce of superfluous
flesh over the firm muscles. The pink hue of his bare arms and legs
told of perfect physical condition and his thin face showed energy
and resolution. His dark eyes--rather thoughtful eyes they were--had
a habit of looking very straight at you as he spoke, and lent an
expression of serious dignity to the countenance.

His companion was in appearance and temperament a notable contrast.
While scarcely an inch shorter than the captain of the Cross-country
Team, Wayne Gordon, by reason of much unnecessary flesh, appeared lower
in stature, and lacked the fitness that comes of rigorous training.
His muscles, despite some spasmodic practice for the day’s event, were
still soft. While Donald’s face showed energy, Wayne’s told of careless
good humor and, especially about the lower part, of pertinacity which
might under certain conditions develop into stubbornness. The eyes
were brown, frank, and honest, and at this moment were gazing before
him in smiling tensity.

The starter had cocked his pistol and the referee was warning the
runners as to the penalty for starting before the signal. The
onlookers, fully two hundred of them in all, were assembled along
both sides of the cinder track, and were adding their voices to the
referee’s, to the total overwhelming of the latter. The runners were
formed in two lines across the track, their shoe spikes griping the
earth and their bodies poised forward.

“Has every one got his number?” asked the referee. “Remember, the
judges can’t register you if they don’t see your numbers.”

Several fluttering papers were repinned to the white shirts and the
starter raised his voice.

“Are you ready?” A moment’s silence ensued.

_Bang!_ The pistol cracked sharply and the runners swept in a bunch
around the corner of the cinder track, gained the turf, and headed
toward where the red flags indicated the first obstacle.

Of these obstacles the course held six, as follows: A “Liverpool,” a
“combination,” two hedge jumps, a bank jump, and a water jump. The
first consisted of a four-foot dry ditch in front of a five-foot rail
fence, followed, in turn, by a broad and high hedge. The “combination”
consisted of a low bank surmounted by a two-foot hedge and followed
by a four-foot dry ditch. The hedge jumps differed only in height,
the first being three feet and the second three feet six inches. The
bank jump was four feet high. All these were comparatively easy of
surmountal in comparison with the water jump. The hedges and bank
might be scrambled over, the “combination” could be fallen over--one
didn’t mind a few bruises--and the “Liverpool” could be climbed over
or surmounted by means of the fences on either side or the stays which
held up the rails. But the water jump defied every method save a long,
clean jump. An eighteen-inch hedge was constructed on the bank of a
brook that came under the railway track and crossed the golf course to
the lake. The brook was here eight feet broad and several feet deep
in the middle, and constituted a very pretty obstacle in the way of a
youth tired out by a one- or two-mile run and the conquest of all the
lesser obstacles. Only on the last round of the course was the water
jump omitted.

The distance to be run was four miles, or three times around the
course. Starting at the grand stand on the campus the red flags guided
the runners across the end of the golf links near Home Hole, then bore
away south along the bank of the Hudson River, crossing the brook over
the little rustic bridge, and taking the railroad track at a right
angle between Railroad Bunker and Academy Hole. With a short turn the
course then swept back across the railway again to the water jump, High
and Track Bunkers, the campus, the grand stand, and the yelling
groups of spectators.

The plan of the course here reproduced was made by Donald Cunningham
for the use of the Cross-country Team, and will, perhaps, aid the
reader to a better understanding of what follows. Paddy cast aspersions
on this effort, but Don was always very proud of it.

  [Illustration: Plan of Cross-Country
                 Course, Hillton, N. Y.
                 Drawn by D. C.]

Each competing school entered a team of ten boys. Points were
apportioned according to the position of the runners at the finish:
thus, the first one completing the three rounds of the course scored
one; the second, two; the third, three; and so on down to the last,
only the leading four in each team being considered. Besides a prize
for the winning team, a silver cup, the first runner in was awarded
the individual trophy, a bronze medal. Cross-country running requires
speed, strength, endurance, and pluck--especially pluck. The course
presents an infinite variety of surface: slippery turf, loose gravel,
mud, and sometimes sand in which the feet sink to the ankles. Unlike
the ordinary running surface, the cross-country course delights in
inequality: a level width of turf is followed by a sharp rise; a
stretch of muddy road by a gully whose steep sides require the utmost
exertion from the panting runner.

The course at Hillton was no exception; in fact, it was more than
usually severe. Besides the artificial obstacles--such as the hedges,
the bank, and the water jump--the railroad track, fenced on either
side, and three golf bunkers added their terrors to the race. To-day
the ground, which had been frozen hard the week before, was soft and
treacherous from the noonday thaw, and even spiked shoes found slow and
difficult going.

Six hundred yards from the start the field of runners had spread out
into three divisions. Fifty yards ahead House and Beaming, the two St.
Eustace cracks, led Donald Cunningham by a stride, while close upon
their heels ran Moore, of Hillton, and two Shrewsburg boys. Back of
them came a little group of a dozen whose shirts showed the crimson
H, the blue monogram, and the green S in about equal proportions.
Farther to the rear the rest of the thirty struggled and straggled
along the course, already practically out of the race so far as
their effect on the final score was concerned. At the “Liverpool”
the St. Eustace leaders took the ditch at a bound, gained the top of
the fence, balanced themselves a second, and cleared the hedge. The
Hillton captain and Moore used other tactics. Without lessening his
speed each planted one spiked toe on a brace that helped to support
the fence, gained the top bar in two strides, and cleared the hedge.
The Shrewsburg runners tried neither of these styles, but climbed the
fence, squirmed across the hedge, and dropped helter-skelter to the
ground, to find themselves farther behind the four leaders. As each
runner surmounted the “Liverpool” the distance judges stationed there
registered his number.

From the grand stand every foot of the far-stretching course was
plainly in sight, and now the first men looked like white specks
as they took the turn, scrambled over the second hedge jump, and
headed toward home. Many of the watchers deserted the finish line and
clustered about the water jump, loudly expressing the hope that some
one would “take a bath.” They climbed on to the fences that led up to
the obstacle and waited impatiently for the runners to appear. Suddenly
two white-clad figures were for a moment seen sharply against the gray
of the hills as they took the railroad track in a bound; then they were
climbing the fence and speeding toward the watchers. Simultaneously
three others came into view, followed a moment later by a fourth.

“Cunningham’s closed up!” cried the Hillton supporters joyfully. “House
has dropped back!”

The two captains of the rival teams bore down on the jump, their faces
flushed with exertion, but their legs moving gracefully as they put
yard after yard behind them. Neither Beaming nor Cunningham slowed
down perceptibly at the hedge; each found the take-off at the same
moment and swept cleanly over the water side by side amid the plaudits
of the spectators. House, Moore, and a Shrewsburg lad followed in the
next minute, gained their applause, and went on to the grand stand a
dozen yards behind the leaders. A second Shrewsburg runner, plainly in
distress, lessened his pace at the water jump, took off too soon, and
landed knee-deep on the muddy margin of the brook. But he was out in a
moment and gained a hearty cheer by the spirited spurt he made after
the others.

Then the watchers had a moment of waiting ere the next group of runners
reached them. They came pouring over the railroad track and fence by
ones and twos, helter-skelter, with a St. Eustace man a bare yard to
the good and a Hillton runner, Northrop, trying hard to reach him.
Over the hedge and water they went--the St. Eustace man, Northrop, a
Shrewsburg runner, another wearer of the blue monogram, and another
Shrewsburg boy--all clearing the difficult jump in good style save
the latter, who plumped squarely into the middle of the brook, and so
delighted the watching lads that many of them fell from the fences
in sheer joy. Wayne Gordon came next and received a shower of spray
in his face as he cleared the brook and sped onward. A St. Eustace
boy followed the example of the unfortunate Shrewsburg chap, and when
the rest of the bunch had passed the two crawled out and took up the
running once more with disgusted looks and spiritless gait.

By this time the leaders had reached a point across the field and
halfway around the second lap. Donald Cunningham and Beaming, of
St. Eustace, still fought for first place, and House had left his
Shrewsburg rival behind and was close upon their heels, Moore, of
Hillton, a few paces off. Shrewsburg seemed out of the race. Her first
two men were now but a yard ahead of the leaders in the second group,
one still running easily and well, the other laboring at every stride.
Northrop managed to come up to the third St. Eustace runner at the
“combination jump,” and by superior work over the obstacle drew several
yards ahead. Wayne Gordon moved up to the front rank of the followers,
and the race momentarily gained in interest to the spectators.

Again the leaders made the turn at the far end of the course and headed
back toward the water jump, overtaking several of the slower runners
who were still struggling on their first round. Cunningham, Beaming,
and House were practically side by side as they approached the jump,
and the cheers from the onlookers increased in volume. Beaming spurted
and took the leap in exhibition style, and Cunningham and House took
off almost ere he had set foot to earth. The latter landed well and
sped on, but the former, to the consternation of the Hillton throng,
while he cleared the water, stumbled on the bank and dropped to his
knees. In an instant he had gained his feet and taken up the race
again, but his first stride proved to the dismayed supporters of the
crimson that he was out of the running. One--two--three steps he took;
then he swerved to the side of the course, and would have fallen but
for the ready arms that were stretched toward him. He struggled from
them.

“Let go, fellows,” he panted. “I’m all right; just--turned my ankle.”

The boys drew back and he started on, limping woefully. A dozen yards
he traversed ere he gave up and threw himself on the turf. A lad in
disreputable football attire was the first to reach him.

“What’s the matter, Don? Are you hurt?” he cried anxiously.

There was no answer, and he leaned down and drew a bare arm from before
a face whereon the tears were trickling.

“Keep the fellows away, Paddy,” whispered Don huskily. “I’ll--be all
right--in a minute. I--I--my ankle’s sprained, I guess; I can’t run--a
step; and--and, oh, Paddy, we’ve lost the race!”



CHAPTER II

WHAT A LAUGH DID


A few minutes later Don was sitting in a corner of the grand stand,
smothered in a pile of blankets and with his injured ankle bound in wet
bandages. Beside him were two boys of about his own age, one of whom,
the lad whom he had addressed as Paddy, was solicitously slopping cold
water from a tin can over his ankle at frequent intervals. Nothing
serious, Professor Beck had decided, only a strained tendon; and so Don
had been helped to his present position, from where he could watch the
race run out. He looked pale and woe-begone; but he managed to smile
now and then in answer to Paddy’s sallies.

“Paddy” Breen--his real name was Charles--had been given his nickname
two years before, when he was a little red-headed junior too small to
resent it had he been so inclined. Paddy’s forbears had been Irish a
generation or two back, and although there was little about the boy
to suggest the fact, barring his red hair and gray eyes and sunny
nature, the name was somehow distinctly appropriate, and it had stuck
to him through his junior and lower middle years and promised to
stick forever. Paddy played center on the first eleven, a position for
which his broad shoulders and hips and great strength eminently fitted
him. To-day he was attired in a faded and torn red sweater, a pair
of equally disreputable moleskin trousers, two red and black striped
stockings whose appearance told a story of many battles, a pair of
badly scuffed tan shoes, and a golf cap of such bold and striking tones
of brown, green, and scarlet as to stamp it at once as brand-new.

The lad who sat on the other side of Don was of even more generous
build than Paddy Breen. Dave Merton’s shoulders were broad and set
well back, giving him a look of great power. He was, perhaps, the
least bit overgrown for his seventeen years, for he topped Paddy by an
inch and Don by two. But he looked very healthy and happy, and was as
good-natured a fellow as any at the Academy. His hair was black and his
eyes dark, giving him a more somber coloring than his bosom companion,
Paddy, but, like the latter, he preferred smiling to frowning. Dave had
two great ambitions in life at present--namely, to throw the hammer
farther than any other Hilltonian and to excel at study. The latter
seemed quite within the range of possibility, but as for Dave’s hammer
throwing it was a school joke at which even Dave could laugh. Paddy
Breen was a brilliant pupil; Dave Merton a hard-working one. Paddy was
an excellent football player; Dave an indifferent performer with the
weights. Both were leaders in their classes--Dave was a senior--and
popular throughout the school. Their friendship was as much a joke as
Dave’s hammer throwing and the two were inseparable.

“Beaten?” Paddy was saying scornfully. “Never, me boy. Sure ’tis only
beginning we are; just wait till we git our breath!” Paddy, as though
to lend indorsement to his nickname, at times dropped into a brogue
acquired with great labor from such classics as Charles O’Malley and
Tom Burke.

“I only wish we had begun earlier in the race, Paddy,” answered Don
hopelessly. “Who is ahead in the bunch there, Dave--can you make out?”

The leaders, House and Beaming, were now far up the course and the next
group of runners were some distance behind. Farther back of them other
contestants straggled. Two runners were out of the race. A Shrewsburg
boy had given up on the second round and was philosophically watching
the contest from the top of a distant bank, and a Hillton fellow,
Turner, had gone to the dressing room suffering with an attack of
cramp. In answer to Don’s question Dave studied the distant runners for
a space in silence.

“Well, that’s Northrop in the lead all right, Don, and the next two
fellows are St. Eustace men. Then Moore and a Shrewsburg chap, and
another St. Eustace man, and--and one of our team--I can’t make out
who.” Dave looked frowningly across the field.

“Which one?” asked Paddy. “The fellow with the long legs just taking
the hedge? Why, man, that’s Wayne, of course; no mistaking him.”

“So it is,” answered Don. “He’s doing well. It would be queer if he
managed to keep his present place and got in third, wouldn’t it?”

“Well, he won’t,” said Dave, “for Jones has passed him. Good old Jones!
Just look at him spurt!”

“Those two men just behind Northrop are Keller and Gould, of St.
Eustace,” said Don. “Well, I guess we’re dished. House and Beaming
are sure of first and second place; Northrop ought to get third;
then either Gould or Keller is pretty certain to finish ahead of
Moore--perhaps both will; that would make the score something like
twelve to twenty-four, supposing we got three men in after Keller and
Gould.”

“There’s a good half mile to cover yet, my lad,” said Paddy cheerfully.
“There’s lots may happen in that distance. Look there; those fellows
are changing all around. And, by Jove, fellows, look at Beaming!”

Beaming was dropping back and House was alone at the turn of the
course. And some one--it seemed as though it _must_ be Northrop, of
Hillton--was closing up the long gap between the leaders and the next
group at a fabulous pace. And even as the three boys on the grand
stand strained their sight a second runner left the group as though it
were standing still and shot after Northrop--if it was Northrop. The
runners were too far off to allow of the watchers being certain as to
their identity, but a look of hope crept into Don’s face. There seemed
nothing to do save wait until the runners appeared at the railroad a
third of a mile away, until Paddy spied a pair of field glasses in
the hands of a boy in the throng below and unceremoniously gained
possession of them. He passed them to Don, and the latter, leaning for
support on Dave and Paddy, swept the course with them.

“Northrop’s ahead of Beaming!” he cried. “And Jones is almost up to
him! House is leading by forty yards or more! A Shrewsburg fellow is
running even with Keller and Gould! Paddy, we’ve still got a show!”

“Where’s Wayne?” asked Dave.

“And Jones?” asked Paddy.

“Wayne? I--can’t--see him. Hold on; yes, there he is! He’s at the
back of the bunch; a Shrewsburg fellow’s passing him hand over fist.
Jones is gaining, Paddy; he’s creeping up. There they go over the bank
jump. Some fellow’s done up--it’s Keller; Jones has passed him.” Don
excitedly turned his glasses toward a point nearer home. “House still
leads and is spurting, hang him! Northrop’s fifty yards behind him, and
Beaming--no, fellows, it’s Moore! Moore’s in third place!”

“What?” cried Dave. “What’s up with Beaming?”

“Don’t know; he looks tuckered. Hello!”

“What is it, Don? Talk out; don’t be so plaguey slow!”

“A Shrewsburg chap has gained fifth place and looks as though he were
going to beat Beaming in the next twenty yards. What do you think of
that? Jones and Wayne are both gaining. By Jove, fellows, we may get it
yet! Let’s go down to the finish; help me down, Dave.”

“If only Jones and Wayne can last,” said Paddy, “we could win, couldn’t
we? But Wayne--” Paddy shook his head as they descended from the stand
and went toward the finish line. “Do you think he can hold out, Don?”

Don shook his head dubiously.

At that moment Wayne was wondering the same thing. He had surprised
himself by staying in the race up to the present moment. He had entered
the contest only to oblige Don. “I don’t ask you to hurt yourself,” the
latter had explained. “Drop out when you are tired. It will be good
practice and will save us from entering with only nine fellows.” So
Wayne had laughingly consented. As he had passed runner after runner in
the first two rounds of the course he had begun to ask himself what it
meant. Don had told him that he had the making of a good long-distance
man, but he hadn’t given much heed to the statement; apparently Don
was right. After the first mile he had begun to suffer a little, and
now, with the race almost over, he would like to have dropped out and
spent about ten minutes lying on his back, but it seemed a poor thing
to give up so near the end, and so he found himself still pounding
away, with his legs very stiff and his breath apparently about to fail
him at every effort. He realized that the ground had become softer and
more slippery and that snow was falling. Then he crossed the track and
struggled on toward the next obstacle, a three-and-a-half-foot hedge.

Wayne hated the hedges. He was too heavy to hurdle them well, and
he invariably jumped short and lost precious time getting his feet
untangled. Luckily he was done with that nightmare the water jump,
since on the last round it was avoided and the course led over the
brook by the railroad and thence straight down to the finish. As he
approached the hedge Wayne drew himself together for a last effort, and
at the take-off put all his strength into the leap. But unfortunately
the turf was bare at that spot and his foot slipped as he jumped.

“Thank goodness!” he thought, when he had stopped rolling. “Now I can
lie here decently until the whole thing’s over with!”

But his sensation of joyous relief was rudely dispelled. Over the hedge
leaped a boy with a blue monogram on his shirt, who, as he caught sight
of Wayne’s predicament, grinned broadly. In a trice Wayne had struggled
to his feet and had taken up the chase race again, rage in his heart.

“He laughed at me, hang him!” he panted. “I’ll just beat him out if I
die for it!”

The St. Eustace boy was several yards ahead already, but Wayne threw
back his head and ran desperately. A roar of voices from down the
field told him that the first man had finished. He put every ounce of
strength into the struggle, thinking nothing of who was winning, only
determined to beat the chap who had laughed at him. And as he crossed
the railroad the knowledge that he was gaining on the St. Eustace
runner brought joy to his heart.

Down at the finish line the air was filled with the cheers of the St.
Eustace supporters, who, though few in number, were strong of voice.
House had finished first and captured the individual championship
and prize. And now, almost side by side, and struggling valiantly
for second place, came the two Hillton men, Northrop and Moore, and
the wearers of the crimson went wild with joy and shouted until both
runners had crossed the line, Northrop in the lead, and had been led
away to the dressing room.

Don was busy with pencil and paper now, while Paddy looked over his
shoulder and Dave scowled up the course and waited impatiently for
the next runner to swing into sight around the corner of the little
knoll that hid the railroad track from the finish line. Then two white
figures broke into view almost simultaneously.

“A Shrewsburg fellow and a St. Eustace fellow!” cried Dave. “I think
the last is Beaming. Yes, it is!”

The runner with the green S won the line a good three yards ahead
of the almost breathless Beaming, and a little group of Shrewsburg
High School fellows broke into applause. Beaming had to be well-nigh
carried from the course, although protesting faintly that he could walk.

Don’s paper now held the following figures:

    Hillton.   St. Eustace.   Shrewsburg.
        2           1             4
        3           5

“Two men each and we’re one figure ahead,” whispered Don. “There’s some
one, Dave--three fellows. Who are they?”

“St. Eustace fellow ahead,” answered Dave.

“It’s Gould!” cried a voice from near by, and the supporters of the
down-river academy cheered wildly.

“Hurrah!” yelled Paddy. “Erin go bragh! There’s good old Jones! And a
Shrewsburg fellow hot after him.”

Don tried to jump, but found he couldn’t because of his strained ankle
and contented himself with a hair-raising yell. Then he added a 6 to
the St. Eustace score, an 8 to that of Shrewsburg, and a 7 to Hillton’s
row of figures. For Gould, Jones, and the Shrewsburg runner crossed the
line in the order given amid the cheers of the three rival contingents.

“It’s a tie so far,” shouted Paddy, as he added up the few figures.
“St. Eustace has twelve points, Dave, and so have we. By Jove! it all
depends on the next man, Don, doesn’t it? Can you see any one, Dave?”

“No one in sight yet. Let’s hope the first will be a Hillton chap,
fellows. But even if it isn’t the score’s bound to be close. Wonder
what’s become of ‘Old Virginia’?”

That was a nickname that Paddy had bestowed upon Wayne Gordon in
allusion to the latter’s native State.

“I’m afraid Wayne’s dropped out of it,” answered Don, with a tremble in
his voice, “but still----”

“St. Eustace wins!”

Half a dozen voices took up the cry as a fleet-footed runner whose
breast bore the blue monogram came quickly into sight. The three boys
groaned in unison. St. Eustace’s fourth man was speeding toward the
finish.

“Done for,” whispered Dave.

“Wait a bit!” cried Paddy. “There’s two of them there. Who’s the second
chap?”

Paddy was right. Directly behind the St. Eustace runner sped a second
youth, so close that he seemed to be treading upon the former’s heels.

“It’s one of our fellows, Don!” cried Dave.

“I don’t think so. I--oh, why doesn’t he come out so that we can see!”

“I’m afraid it’s another Shrewsburg chump,” said Paddy dolefully. “Oh,
hang the luck, anyhow!”

“Wait!” cried Don. “He’s coming out! There--there he comes! He’s trying
to pass, and--and----”

“It’s Wayne!” cried Dave and Paddy in unison.

And Wayne it was. Slowly, doggedly, he drew from his place back of
the St. Eustace man and fought his way inch by inch alongside. The
cheering spectators saw the wearer of the blue glance swiftly at the
Hillton runner and throw back his head. But the boy beside him refused
to be thrown off and down the course they came together, their tired
limbs keeping time to the frenzied cheers of the throng.

“St. Eustace wins! Keller’s ahead!”

“Hillton’s race! Gordon leads!”

And then, high above the babel of a hundred voices, sounded a mighty
shout from Paddy:

“Come on, ‘Old Virginia!’”

Wayne, racing along stride for stride with the St. Eustace runner,
heard the cry and made a final, despairing effort.

And then the crowd was thick about him, Dave and Paddy were holding him
up, Don was hugging him ecstatically, and the fellows were laughing and
shouting as though crazy; and Wayne, panting and weak, wondered what it
all meant.

It only meant that Hillton had won by a yard and that the final score
stood: Hillton, 21; St. Eustace, 22; Shrewsburg, 43.



CHAPTER III

IN 15 BRADLEY


It was getting dark in the study of No. 15 Bradley Hall, and Wayne laid
his book down on the window seat and fell to looking idly out of the
window. The broad expanse of the Hudson River was visible for several
miles, and its quiet surface reflected all the tones of gold and
crimson with which the western sky was aglow. Far to the left a little
dark spot marked the location of the railway station, and the steel
rails, stretching to the southward, caught the sunset glint here and
there and looked like shafts of fire. The meadow and the campus were
still green, and the station road was blotched with the purple shadows
of hedge and tree. To the left a tiny steamer was creeping from sight
beyond the island and the far-stretching marsh across the water was
brightly yellow with autumn grass.

Inside the room the shadows were beginning to gather wherever the glow
from the two windows failed to reach. They had already hidden the
bookcase near the hall door and Don’s armchair was only a formless hulk
in the gloom. The door to the bedroom was ajar and through it the
shadows were silently creeping, for that room was on the back of the
building and its one window gave but scant light at sunset time. The
study was a comfortable-looking den. There was a big green-topped table
in the center, flanked by easy-chairs, and holding a student lamp, an
ornamental inkstand, a number of books, and a miscellaneous litter of
paper, pens, golf balls, gloves, and caps. A lounge, rather humpy from
long and hard usage, disputed a corner of the apartment with a low
bookcase whose top afforded a repository for photographs and a couple
of hideous vases which for years past had “gone with the room.” There
was a fireplace on one side which to-day held no fire. The mantel was
decorated with more photographs and three pewter mugs, Wayne’s trophies
of the cinder track. Some tennis racquets, three broken and repaired
golf sticks, and a riding whip were crossed in a bewildering fashion
above a picture of an English rowing regatta, and on either side hung
framed “shingles” of the Senior Debating Society and the Hillton
Academy Golf Club. Other pictures adorned the walls here and there; two
businesslike straight-backed chairs were placed where they could not
fail to be fallen over in the dark; and a bright-colored but somewhat
threadbare carpet was on the floor. There were two windows, for No.
15 was a corner study, and in each was a comfortable seat generously
furnished with pillows. At this moment both seats were occupied. In
one lounged Wayne; in the other Don was still trying to study by the
fading light. His left foot was perched carefully on a cushion, for
the injured ankle was not yet fully strong, although nearly a week had
elapsed since the cross-country run and his accident. Finally Don, too,
laid aside his book.

“Want to light up, Wayne?”

“No, let’s be lazy; it’s so jolly in the twilight. I like to watch
sunsets, don’t you? They’re sort of mysterious and--and sad.”

“Hello!” laughed Don. “You must be a bit homesick.”

“No, not exactly, though the sunset did look a bit like some we have
down home. I wish you could see a Virginia sunset, Don.”

“Aren’t they a good deal like any other sunset?”

“No, I don’t think so. From our house at home the sun always sets
across a little valley and back of a hill with a lot of dark trees on
it. And there’s always a heap of blue wood smoke in the air and the
woods are kind of hazy, you know. Wish I was there,” he added, with a
tinge of melancholy in his voice.

“Cheer up,” said Don. “You’ll feel better after supper. You’re
homesick. I used to be, my first year. Used to think I’d give most
anything for a sight of the Charles River and the marshes, as they
look from the library window at home. But I got over it. When I began
to feel sad and virtuous I’d go out and swat a football or jump over
things. That’s the best way to get rid of homesickness, Wayne; go in
for athletics and get your blood running right. You don’t have much
chance to think about home when you’re leaping hurdles or trying to
bust your own record for the hundred yards.”

“I should think not,” laughed Wayne. “I know I wasn’t homesick the
other day when I was chasing around country and jumping over those
silly hedges; but I reckon I’d rather be a bit homesick than have my
legs ache and my lungs burst.”

“They won’t when you’re in training,” answered Don. “But you did great
work that day; we were awfully proud of you.”

“So you say, and I suppose it’s all right, only I keep telling you
that I wasn’t trying to win the team race; I was just trying to beat
that blamed St. Eustace chump who laughed at me when I was sitting
comfortably on the ground there. Just as though any fellow mightn’t
fall over those old hedges, hang him!”

“Well, don’t you mind,” answered Don soothingly. “He isn’t laughing
now, you can bet; that laugh cost his school the race.”

Wayne made no reply. He had gathered the pillows in a heap under his
head and was lying on his back nursing his knees. It was almost dark
outdoors and in the room the shadows held full sway. Across from Don’s
window the lights in Masters Hall were coming out and throwing dim
shafts upon the broad gravel path.

“Wayne, I wish you’d go into training for the track team,” continued
Don. “All you need is some good hard practice to make you a dandy
runner. Why don’t you?”

“What’s the good?” asked Wayne carelessly. “I have hard enough work as
it is trying to learn my lessons without losing a lot of time running
around a track. Besides, it’s so tiresome.”

“Don’t talk nonsense,” answered Don. “You have hard work with your
lessons because you won’t study, and you know it. You could do a lot of
training in the time you spend now in loafing. And, look here, Wayne,
if you go in for athletics you can study a lot better; really. I know;
I’ve tried both ways. And besides, you won’t have to run around a track
much until long after winter term begins; hard work doesn’t start until
February. Of course, if you’ve made up your mind to be a duffer, I
won’t say anything more about it. But I’m captain of the track team,
and I know you would make a bully runner and I want you to help me out
if you will. We’re going to have a hard time next spring to find good
men for the mile and half-mile events, and if we don’t win one of them
I’m afraid St. Eustace or Collegiate is sure of first place. I wish old
Hillton might come out on top next year. Think of it, Wayne, this is my
second year as captain, and my last, for I shan’t take it again, and if
we are beaten next spring it will be a nice record to leave behind,
won’t it? Two defeats and no victories! Hang it, we’ve got to win,
Wayne!”

Wayne laughed lazily.

“What’s so funny?” demanded Don rather crossly.

“You--you’re so serious. The idea of caring so much about whether we
get beaten or not next spring. Why, it’s months away yet. If you’ve got
to worry about it, why not wait awhile?”

Don was too vexed to reply and Wayne went on in his careless,
good-natured tones.

“You fellows up North here are so crazy about athletics. Of course,
they’re good enough in their way, I reckon, but seems to me that you
don’t think about much else. I don’t mean that you don’t study--you’re
all awful grinds--but you never have any time for--for----”

“What--loafing?” asked Don sarcastically.

“No, not exactly that, but--but--oh, hunting and riding and being
sociable generally. Do you shoot?”

“Not much; I’ve potted beach birds and plovers once or twice.”

“Well, that’s the kind of sport I like. Down home we shoot quail, you
know; it’s right good fun. And next month the fox hunting begins.”

“I think I should like that,” exclaimed Don eagerly, forgetting his ill
humor. “I’ve never ridden to hounds. Isn’t it hard jumping fences and
things?”

“Hard--on a horse? Shucks! Compared to leaping over hedges on your feet
it’s about the easiest thing in the world. All you have to do is to sit
still.”

“Well, it sounds easy,” answered Don dubiously, “but I should think
sitting still on a horse that was plunging over a rail fence would be
rather difficult; seems to me that the easiest thing would be to fall
off. Did you ever fall?”

“Twice. Once I hurt my shoulder a little. Of course we boys don’t do
any hard riding; dad won’t let me go out very often, and when he does
he always goes along. You see, once I went fox hunting instead of going
to school, and he found out about it.”

“What kind of a school was it you went to?”

“Oh, a little private school kept by an old codger who used to be a
professor at the University. We fellows had a pretty easy time of it;
when we didn’t want to study we didn’t, which was mighty often.”

“Well, you won’t find it so easy here,” said Don.

“Oh, I’ve found that out already,” answered Wayne ruefully. “We have so
many studies here I can’t begin to keep track of them all. I never know
whether I ought to be at a recitation or fussing with dumb-bells in the
gymnasium.”

“Well, you’ll get used to it after a while and like it immensely, and
think that there isn’t another place in the world like Hillton. And
when you do you’ll care more whether we win or get beaten at athletics
and football; and then----”

There came a loud hammering at the door.

“Enter Paddy and David!” cried Don.

Dave Merton alone entered, and closing the door behind him promptly
fell over an armchair.

“Confound you fellows! why can’t you keep your room decent? A chap’s
always breaking his shins when he comes here. Where’s Paddy?”

“What, have you become separated?” cried Don. “Light the gas, Wayne,
and let us view the unaccustomed sight of Dave without Paddy.”

“He said he was coming up here after he dressed. I left him at the
gym.” Dave stumbled against a straight-backed chair, placed it on its
back just inside the door, and groped his way to a seat beside Don.
“Hope he’ll break his shins too, when he comes,” he said grimly.

“What have you two inseparables been up to this afternoon?” asked Don.

“Oh, Paddy’s been doing stunts with a football, and he’s awfully
annoyed over something, and I’ve been tossing a hammer around the
landscape; that’s all.”

“And did you manage to break another goal post?”

“No; couldn’t seem to hit anything to-day, although I _did_ come within
a few yards of Greene.”

Another thunderous knocking was heard, and, without awaiting an
invitation, Paddy came in, and the sound of breaking wood followed as
he landed on the chair.

“I’m afraid I’ve bust something,” he said cheerfully, as he struggled
to his feet. “And serves you right, too. Is Dave here?”

“Haven’t seen him,” answered Wayne.

“Wonder where the silly chump went to. Where are you, you fellows?”
Paddy felt his way around the table and gropingly found a seat between
Don and Dave. “He said he was coming up here before supper.” A faint
chuckle aroused his suspicions and the sound of a struggle followed.
Then Paddy’s voice arose in triumphant tones.

“’Tis you, yer spalpeen. There’s only one ugly nose like that in
school.”

“Ouch!” yelled Dave. “Let go!”

“Is it you?” asked Paddy grimly.

“Yes.”

“Are you a spalpeen?”

“Yes, oh yes. Ouch!”

“All right.” Paddy deposited Dave on the floor and arranged himself
comfortably in the window.

“Dave says you’re annoyed, Paddy. Who’s been ill-treating the poor
little lad?” asked Don, when the laughter had subsided and Dave had
retreated to the other window seat.

“Don, it’s kilt I am intoirely,” answered Paddy. “For thirty mortal
minutes Gardiner had me snapping back the ball to that butter-fingered
Bowles. If he doesn’t put another quarter-back in soon I shall hand in
me resignation. And to make things worse Gardiner stayed up all last
night and thought out a most wonderful new trick play, and to-day he
tried to put us through it. And, oh dear! I wish you could have seen
the backs all tearing around like pigs with a dog after them, bumping
into each other, getting in each other’s way and all striking the line
at different places and asking, please wouldn’t we let them through! Oh
dear! oh dear! And that chap Moore, who plays center on the second, got
me around the neck twice and tried to pull my head off. If he doesn’t
quit that trick I’ll be forced to forget my elegant manners and slug
him.”

“And he’ll wipe the turf up with you, and I hope he does,” said Dave,
rubbing his nose ruefully.

“And the St. Eustace game only two weeks off,” continued Paddy,
heedless of the interruption. “We’re in an awful state, fellows. I wish
we had Remsen back to coach us. Gardiner’s all right in his way, but
he doesn’t begin to know the football that Stephen Remsen does. We’re
goners this year for sure.”

“Oh, cheer up,” answered Don. “You can do lots in two weeks. Look at
the material we’ve got.”

“Yes, look at it,” said Paddy. “There isn’t a man in the line or back
of it that’s played in a big game except Greene and myself.”

“But St. Eustace has a lot of new men this year, too.”

“Don’t you believe it, my boy. That’s what they say, but Gardiner told
me yesterday that St. Eustace has five fellows on the team that played
against us last year.”

“Does the game come off here?” asked Wayne.

“No, it’s at Marshall this year. We’re all going down, aren’t we,
fellows?” asked Dave.

“Of course,” answered Don. “We will go and see Paddy slaughtered. Wayne
will go along and we’ll teach him to sing ‘Hilltonians.’ By the way,
I’ve been trying to persuade him that he ought to take up training for
the track team. He will make a first-class runner. But he’s so terribly
lazy and indifferent that it’s like talking to a football dummy.”

“Of course you ought to, Wayne,” exclaimed Paddy earnestly. “It’s your
duty, my young friend. Every fellow ought to do everything he can for
the success of the school. I’d try for the team if I could run any
faster than I can walk.”

“Oh, well,” said Wayne, “I’ll see about it.”

“You ought to jump at the chance,” said Dave, in disgust. “It isn’t
every chap that gets asked by the captain of the team. And, let me tell
you-- Hello! Six o’clock, fellows. Who’s for supper?”

“Every one,” cried Don, jumping up. “But I’ve got to wash first. Some
one light the gas if they can find the matches.”

“Well, I’m off,” said Paddy.

“So’m I,” echoed Dave. “I say, Don, I’m coming over after supper to see
if you can help me with that trigonometry stuff.”

“All right,” answered Don from the bedroom between splashes. “If you
know less about it than I do I’ll be surprised.”

“Come on,” cried Paddy impatiently from the doorway--

    “‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
       ‘To eat of many things;
     Of apple sauce and gingerbread,
       Of cake and red her_rings_!’”



CHAPTER IV

THE REVOLT BEGINS


Wayne lounged down the steps of the Academy Building, a little bundle
of books under his arm, and listlessly crossed the grass to the wall
that guarded the river bluff, from where an enticing panorama of stream
and meadow and distant mountains lay before him. The day was one of
those unseasonably warm ones which sometimes creep unexpectedly into
the month of November, and which make every task doubly hard and any
sort of idleness attractive. The river was intensely blue, the sky
almost cloudless, and the afternoon sun shone with mellow warmth on the
deep red bricks of the ancient buildings.

Wayne tossed his books on the sod and perched himself on the top of
the wall. The last recitation of the day was over and he was at a loss
for something to do. To be sure, he might, in fact ought to study; but
study didn’t appeal to him. Now and then he turned his head toward the
building in hope of seeing some fellow who could be induced to come and
talk with him. Don was doing laboratory work in physics and Dave and
Paddy were undoubtedly on the campus. At a little distance a couple
of boys whom Wayne did not know were passing a football back and forth
as they loitered along the path. A boy whom he did know ran down the
steps and shouted a salutation to him, but Wayne only waved his hand
in reply. It was Ferguson, who talked of nothing but postage stamps,
and Wayne had outgrown stamps and found no interest in discussing
them. Ferguson went on around the corner of Academy Building toward
the gymnasium, and with a start Wayne recollected that at that moment
he should be making one of a squad of upper middle-class fellows and
exercising with the chest weights. He looked doubtfully toward the
point where Ferguson had disappeared. What right, he asked himself, had
a preparatory school, where a fellow goes to learn Greek and Latin and
mathematics, and such things, to insist that a fellow shall develop
his muscles with chest weights and dumb-bells and single sticks? None
at all; the whole thing was manifestly unjust. Schools were to make
scholars and not athletes, said Wayne, and he, for one, stood ready
to protest, to the principal himself if need be, against the mistaken
system.

The moment for such protest must be drawing near, thought the boy, with
something between a grin and a scowl, for he had already twice absented
himself from gymnasium work, and only yesterday a polite but firm note
from Professor Beck had reminded him of the fact. Well, he was in
for it now, and he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. He
gathered his books together and started along the river path toward the
campus in search of Paddy or Dave. He wanted to tell some one about it.

Wayne had been at Hillton two months, and was apparently no nearer
being reconciled to the discipline and spirit of the Academy than
on the day he entered. He found the studies many and difficult and
the rules onerous. Everything was so different from what he had been
accustomed to. At home he had attended a small private school where
laxity of discipline and indifference to study occasioned but scant
comment. The dozen or so scholars studied practically what they pleased
and when they pleased, which in many cases was very little. Wayne’s
mother had died when he was five years of age; his father, who had
labored conscientiously at the boy’s upbringing, had erred on the side
of leniency. Wayne had been given most everything for which he had
asked, including his own way on many occasions when a denial would have
worked better results. A boy with less inherent manliness might have
been spoiled beyond repair. Wayne was--well, perhaps half spoiled; at
all events unfitted for his sudden transition to a school like Hillton,
where every boy was thrown entirely on his own resources and was judged
by his individual accomplishments.

Wayne envied Don and Paddy, and even Dave, their ability to conquer
lessons with apparent ease. He was not lazy, but was lacking in a very
valuable thing called application, which is sometimes better than
brains. And where Don mastered a lesson in thirty minutes Wayne spent
twice that time on a like task. It had required two months of the
hardest coaching to fit Wayne for admission into the upper middle class
at the Academy, and now he was making a sad muddle of his studies and
was beginning to get discouraged. He wished his father hadn’t sent him
to Hillton; or, rather, he would wish that were it not for Don--and
Paddy--and Dave--and, yes, for lots of other things. Wayne sighed as
he thought of what a jolly place the Academy would be if it wasn’t for
lessons--and chest weights! And this brought him back to his grievance,
and, having reached the campus, he looked about to find some one to
whom he might confide his perplexities and resolves.

But both Paddy and Dave were too busy to heed any one else’s troubles.
Paddy, in a disreputable suit of football togs, his face streaming
with perspiration, was being pushed and shoved about the gridiron, the
center of a writhing mass of players, while the coach’s whistle vainly
proclaimed the ball not in play. Dave, his good-natured face red with
exertion, was struggling with his beloved hammer amid a little circle
of attentive and facetious spectators.

“Say, Dave, you ought to stop, really you had,” one of the onlookers
was saying as Wayne joined the circle. “If you keep at it much longer
you won’t be able to throw that thing out of the circle.”

“Three feet four inches short of the first mark,” said a youth with a
tape as he rose from measuring the last flight of the weight. “Better
rest a bit.”

“Why don’t you take the hammer off, Dave, and throw the handle?” asked
a third boy.

“Well, I wish you’d step up here and have a try at it,” answered Dave
good-naturedly.

“Oh, but I’m not a strong man like you. If I was half as big I’d throw
the old thing twice as far as that.”

“Well, perhaps you’ll grow in time, Tommy. Hello, Wayne,” he continued,
as he caught sight of that youth, “why don’t you say something funny? I
don’t mind; go on.”

“Can’t think of anything right now,” answered Wayne. “The funniest
thing I know of is tossing an iron ball around when it’s too warm to
move. You look like a roast of beef, Dave.”

“Do I? Well, I’ve been roasted enough; I’m going to knock off. Besides,
I’m in poor form to-day. Let’s go over and watch Paddy, poor dub. I
guess he’s having a hard time of it, too.”

Dave picked up his sweater and hammer and the two strolled over to
the side-line and sat down. The first and second elevens, the latter
augmented by several extra players, were putting in a hard practice.
Less than a fortnight remained ere the game of the season would be
played with St. Eustace Academy, and hard work was the order of the
day. The head coach, an old Hillton graduate named Gardiner, was far
from satisfied with the team’s showing. As Paddy had pointed out,
he and Greene were the only members of the first eleven who had the
experience that participation in a big game brings. Greene was the
captain and played right end, and to-day he was visibly worried and
nervous, and was rapidly working his men into much the same state when
Gardiner called time and allowed the almost breathless players to strew
themselves over the field on their backs and pant away to their heart’s
content. Paddy caught sight of the two boys on the side-line and
crawled dejectedly over to them on all fours, his tongue hanging out,
in ludicrous imitation of a dog.

“It’s awful, my brethren, simply awful. We are probably the worst lot
of football players in the world. Greene will tell you so--and glad of
the chance, bad luck to him! He’s got the ‘springums.’”

“What are those?” asked Wayne.

“Oh, those are nerves; when you can’t keep still, you know. That’s
what’s the matter with Greene to-day. And I don’t much blame him; the
weather’s unfit for practice, and every chap on the team feels like a
sausage, and the St. Eustace game’s a week from Thursday. I heard March
tell Gardiner----”

“Is Joel March here?” asked Dave.

“Yes; see him over there talking to ‘Pigeon’ Wallace? He said to
Gardiner a few minutes ago, ‘There’s one great trouble with that
eleven, Mr. Gardiner, and that is that it’s not the kind that wins.’
He didn’t know I could hear. Of course I wouldn’t tell Greene for a
house and farm. But March is right; I’ve felt that way all the fall.
And if March says we can’t win, we’re not going to.” Paddy sighed
dolefully.

“Tommyrot, Paddy!” answered Dave. “Joel March isn’t infallible, and the
team may take a big brace before Thanksgiving.”

“Who’s Joel March, anyway?” asked Wayne.

“Joel March? Why, Joel March is--is-- Say, haven’t you ever heard of
March?” exclaimed Dave, in deep disgust. Wayne shook his head.

“I reckon not; if I have I’ve forgotten it. What did he do--run a mile
in eighteen and three-fourth seconds or throw an iron ball over Academy
Building?”

“Neither, my sarcastic and ignorant young friend from the Sunny South,”
answered Paddy, with asperity. “But he’s the finest half-back in college;
and if you knew anything about the important affairs of the day you
would know that he made the only score in the Harwell-Pennsylvania game
last Saturday, and that he ran over fifty-five yards to do it! Also, and
likewise, and moreover,” continued Paddy, with great severity, “when I
was a little green junior, two years ago, I sat just about here and
watched Joel March kick a goal from the field that tied the St. Eustace
game after they had us beaten. And I yelled myself hoarse and couldn’t
speak loud enough at dinner to ask for the turkey, and Dave ate my share
before my eyes! That’s who Joel March is.”

“You don’t say,” responded Wayne, without displaying the least bit of
awe. “And who’s the swell with him?”

“That’s West, his chum. West is the father of golf here at Hillton,”
answered Dave, with becoming reverence. “I used to follow him when he
went around and wish that I could drive the way he could. He was a
member of the team that Harwell sent to the intercollegiate tournament
last month. Is March going to coach the backs, Paddy?”

“Don’t know; but they could stand it. There’s going to be a shake-up
next half, I’ll bet. Gardiner says if the second scores on us again
before Thanksgiving he’ll send it to Marshall instead of the first.
Gardiner’s a great jollier. Here we go again like lambs to the
slaughter,” added Paddy as the whistle blew.

“You remind me of a lamb,” said Dave; “you’re so different.”

Paddy playfully pommeled the other’s ribs and then cantered off to the
center of the gridiron, where Gardiner, Greene, and March, the old
Hillton half-back, were assembled in deep converse.

“Want to go back,” asked Dave, “or shall we stay and see the rest of
the practice?”

“Let’s stay,” said Wayne. “I suppose Paddy is sure of his place, isn’t
he? I mean they won’t put him off, will they?”

“No; I guess Paddy’s all right for center. But the big chap next to
him, at left-guard, is sure to go on the second, I think. They ought to
have made Paddy captain last fall. Greene’s an awfully decent fellow,
but he’s liable to get what Paddy calls the ‘springums.’ He’s too
high-strung for the place. Watch Gardiner now; he’s doing things.”

The head coach was a big, broad-shouldered man, with a face so freckled
and homely as to be attractive. Many years before he had been a guard
on the Hillton eleven and his name stood high on the Academy’s roll
of honor. As Dave had said, he was “doing things.” Four of the first
eleven players were relegated in disgrace to the ranks of the second,
their positions being filled by so many happy youths from the opposing
team. Wayne noted with satisfaction that Paddy’s broad bulk still
remained in the center of the first eleven’s line when the two teams
faced each other for the last twenty minutes of play. Joel March,
with coat and vest discarded, took up a position behind quarter-back
and from there coached the two halfs with much hand-clapping and many
cheery commands. Greene appeared to have recovered his equanimity, and
the first eleven successfully withstood the onslaught of the opponents
until the ball went to Paddy and a spirited advance down the field
brought the pigskin to the second’s forty-yard line and gave Grow, the
full-back, an opportunity to try a goal from a placement. The attempt
failed and the ball went back to the second, but the first’s line
again held well, and a kick up the field sent the players scurrying to
the thirty-five-yard line, where, coached by March, Grow secured the
ball and recovered ten yards ere he was downed. Later the first worked
the ball over for a touch-down, from which no goal was tried, and the
practice game ended without the dreaded scoring by the second eleven,
much to Paddy’s relief.

The three boys hurried back together, and Wayne, parting from his
companions at the gymnasium, sought his room, reflecting on the
athletic mania that seemed to possess every fellow at the school.

“I’ll have to do something that way myself,” he thought ruefully, “or
I’ll be a sort of--what-yer-call-it?--social outcast.”

Then he recollected that he had forgotten to consult Dave regarding
his proposed declaration of right, and was rather glad that he had;
because, after all, he told himself, Dave Merton was not a chap that
would sympathize with a protest against gymnastics and such things. But
that evening, as the two sat studying in their room after supper, Wayne
told his plans to Don and asked for an opinion. And Don looked up from
his Greek text-book and said briefly and succinctly:

“Don’t do it!”

“But, I say, Don, I’ve got some voice in the business, haven’t I? What
right has Professor Beck or Professor Wheeler or--or any of them got
to make me develop my muscles if I don’t want my muscles developed?
When it comes to study, you know, why, that’s another----”

“Well, if you’ll take my advice you’ll stop worrying about your rights
and obey the rules.”

“But----”

“Because if you don’t, Wayne, you’d much better have stayed at home.
I--I tried asserting my rights once and it didn’t pay. And since then
I’ve tended to my own affairs and let the faculty make the laws.”

“Just the same,” answered Wayne, with immense dignity, “I don’t intend
to put up with injustice, although you may. I shall tell Professor
Wheeler just what I’ve told you, and----”

Don looked up from his book with a frown.

“Wayne, _will_ you shut up?”

“But I’m telling you----”

“But I don’t want to hear. It’s all nonsense. And, besides, if you’re
going to say it all to ‘Wheels’ what’s the good of boring me with it?
Talk about injustice,” groaned Don, “look at the length of this lesson!”

Wayne opened his book and, as a silent protest against his friend’s
heartlessness, began to study.



CHAPTER V

PRINCIPAL AND PRINCIPLES


Wayne’s opportunity to protest came earlier than he expected. When he
entered Bradley Hall in the middle of the forenoon to get his French
grammar he found an official-looking note in the mail box. It proved
to be from the principal and requested Wayne’s presence at the office
at noon. The latter made hard work of the French recitation, and took
no interest in the doings of Bonaparte in Egypt for thinking of the
approaching interview and strengthening the arguments which were to
confuse the principal and put the iniquitous school law to rout.

He found the principal’s secretary and two pupils, who assisted in the
work, occupying the outer office. Professor Wheeler was engaged, but
would see him in a moment. Wayne took a chair, resenting the delay
which required him to nurse the state of virtuous indignation into
which he had worked himself. The quiet of the room, disturbed only by
the scratching of the pens or the rustling of paper, presently exerted
a depressing effect, and he felt his courage oozing out of him. Then
the secretary arose and went into the inner room. When he returned
a moment later he left the door ajar and Wayne caught a glimpse of a
warm-toned apartment, a portion of a high bookcase, and the corner of a
broad mahogany desk. From within came a slight shuffling of uneasy feet
and the noise of a turned page. Then came the sound of a closing book,
and a voice, which Wayne recognized as belonging to the principal,
broke the silence:

“Now, my boy, I’ll speak with you. What is your name?”

“Carl Gray, sir,” answered a very boyish voice.

“Ah, yes; you’re in the lower middle class?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I have received a complaint from Porter, in the village. He informs me
that you have owed him a bill since last term and that he can not get
his money. Is that true?”

“Yes, sir.” The boy spoke in low tones, and Wayne, without seeing him,
knew the state of trepidation he was in and wondered if he would behave
so cravenly when his turn came.

“You knew the rule about such things?” asked the principal. “You knew
that pupils are not allowed to contract debts?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then why did you do it, Gray?”

“I--I wanted some things, and so-- Porter said that he would trust
me----”

“Let me see. You played on one of the nines last spring, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir; on the junior class nine.”

“Yes. Well, Gray, when you knock a good clean base hit what do you
do? Do you run over toward the grand stand and then back toward the
pitcher’s box and so on to first base, or do you go there as directly
and as speedily as you know how?” A moment of silence followed and
Wayne grinned.

“Directly, sir,” said the boy inside finally.

“Yes, I should think so. Well, now, when you start to make an
explanation apply the same rule, my lad: go just as directly and
quickly as you can to the point. As a matter of fact, you knew that you
were disobeying the rules of the Academy, and preferred to do that than
to go without some things that you wanted. Isn’t that so?”

“I-- No, sir, I didn’t----”

“That isn’t just the way you would put it, Gray, but isn’t it correct?”

“Yes, sir, I suppose so.”

“Do you have an allowance, Gray?”

“Yes, sir; fifty cents a week.”

“But you don’t find it large enough?”

“I wanted some baseball things and some clothes. We had to have
uniforms.”

“I see. Did you think when you had the things charged to you that you
could pay for them?”

“Yes, sir. I meant to pay a quarter every week, but somehow, sir----”

“The quarter wasn’t there when you wanted it; I see. Well, Porter must
be paid. He is not blameless in the affair; he knew what the rule is
about giving credit to the pupils, and I shall see that he gets no more
of the school trade. But that doesn’t alter the fact that you owe him
the sum of twelve dollars. Can you pay it?”

“No, sir, not right away. I will pay him fifty cents a week. I offered
to do so a week ago and he said he must have the whole amount, and I
was saving it up.”

“H’m! How much have you saved?”

“A--a dollar.”

“Slow work, Gray. Now, I shall settle this bill and send the account to
your parents. Have you anything to say about that?”

“Oh, sir, please don’t! I’ll pay it as soon as I can, sir; I will give
him every cent I get. Only please don’t send it home!”

“Your family is not well off, Gray?”

“No, sir. I have only a mother, and she couldn’t pay it without--without
missing the money dreadfully, sir. If only you will not let her know!”

“You should have thought of that before, Gray. I should like to spare
your mother as much, perhaps, as you; but the rules are strict and I
can’t see my way to making an exception in your case. I shall have to
send the bill to your mother, sir. Let it teach you a lesson. There
are lots of things in this world, Gray, that we think we must have, but
which we can do very well without if only we realize it. It is hard
sometimes to see others possess things that we want and can not have.
But luckily the world doesn’t judge us by our possessions, but by our
accomplishments. I don’t believe that the football clothes which you
got from Porter enabled you to play better ball or stand better in your
class, and it’s very unlikely that any of the boys thought you a finer
fellow for having them. In future live within your income--that is,
your allowance--and if you want to pay off the debt save your money
instead of spending it, and when the amount is saved return it to your
mother. That would be an honest and a manly act. That is all I have to
say to you, my boy.”

“I will, sir,” answered the culprit earnestly. “But won’t you--couldn’t
you please, sir, not send----”

“That can’t be altered, Gray,” answered the principal kindly. “I am
sorry. Good day.”

A slender and very white-faced boy passed out with averted eyes, and a
moment later Wayne found himself in the inner office. The principal was
leaning back in his big armchair thoughtfully polishing his glasses.
He did not look up at once, and Wayne had an opportunity to study the
man who for over twenty years had wisely directed the affairs of one
of the largest preparatory schools of the country, and who in that
time had gained the reverence and affection of thousands of boys.
Wayne saw a middle-aged, scholarly looking man, whose brown hair was
but lightly frosted about the temples, and whose upright and vigorous
figure indicated the possession of much physical strength. There was
an almost youthful set to the broad shoulders, and Wayne was certain
that the muscles won years before in his college crew were still firm
and strong. Indeed, those muscles, although Wayne did not know it, were
kept in perfect condition by as much bodily exercise as the principal
could crowd into a busy life, and his prowess with a golf club was a
matter of pride and admiration among the boys. There was a kindly look
in the brown eyes that were presently turned upon the waiting lad.

“Are you Wayne Gordon?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re in the upper middle, aren’t you, and this is your first year at
Hillton?”

Wayne again assented.

“And I dare say you are not perfectly acquainted with the rules of the
Academy yet; I can understand that. It takes some time to learn them,
even though we try not to have very many. Professor Beck tells me,
Gordon, that you have been absent on three occasions from gymnasium
work and have failed to make any excuse. I presume you had some very
good reason for not attending on each occasion, did you not?” The tone
and manner were so kindly that Wayne found himself wishing that he had
some presentable excuse; but in the next moment he remembered his
purpose and answered uncompromisingly:

“I stayed away on three days, sir, because it was not convenient to
attend. I don’t consider that you--I mean the faculty--has any right to
compel a fellow to--to do gymnasium work unless he wishes to.”

“Indeed!” was the quiet reply. “And how do you arrive at that
conclusion?”

Whereupon Wayne very earnestly and at much length presented his views
on the subject, maintaining a respectful but undoubtedly rather
irritating tone of complacency. Once or twice the listener frowned,
once he smiled, as though in spite of himself, at some high-sounding
phrase from the boy. When Wayne had finished, a little breathless, the
principal spoke:

“Are you a member of the debating club, Gordon?”

“No, sir,” answered Wayne, surprised into an expression of ordinary
curiosity quite unbecoming a great reformer.

“You should join. I think you have the making of a very lucid and
convincing speaker.” The boy strove to detect an expression of irony
on the master’s face, but saw none. “Unfortunately, in the present
case you have selected a side in the debate that is not defensible.
And, also unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the inclination
to enter the lists with you. But I will say one or two things on the
subject. In the first place, it is a waste of your time to consider
whether or not the faculty has the right to make the rule regarding
physical training; the indisputable fact is that the faculty has
made the rule. For the sake of argument--although I said I would not
argue--let us assume that the faculty has not the right. What can you
do about it? The rules are not altered, after ten years, on the demand
of one scholar out of a school of some two hundred. If the pupil stands
firm and the faculty stands firm what is going to be the result? Why,
the two must part company. In other words, the pupil must leave. Do you
think it is worth it?”

“But it’s wrong, sir, and if I accept the--the arrangement I am
indorsing it, and I can’t do that.”

“But maybe it isn’t wrong; we only assumed it to be, you remember. You
don’t care for athletics?”

“Not much, sir; I like riding and shooting and fishing, but I don’t
see the good of fussing--I mean exercising--with dumb-bells and
chest weights and single sticks; and it tires me so that I can’t
do my lessons well.” The principal raised his eyebrows in genuine
astonishment.

“Are you certain of that? Maybe you have not given the thing a fair
trial. We believe here at Hillton that it is just as necessary to keep
a boy’s health good as his morals, and our plan has worked admirably
for many years. The rule regarding ‘compulsory physical education,’ as
you call it, is not peculiar to Hillton; it is to be found at every
preparatory school in the country, I feel sure. A capability for good
studying depends on a clear brain and a well body, and these, in turn,
depend on a proper attention to exercise and recreation. The first
of these we demand; the other we encourage and expect. Who is your
roommate?”

“Donald Cunningham, sir.”

“Indeed! And does he have very much trouble with his studies?”

“No, sir; but he has been at it for two years--the gymnasium work, I
mean. I’m not used to it, and I find the studies difficult, and if I am
tired I can’t do them.”

“If gymnasium work tires you it is undoubtedly because you have not
had enough of it. And it shows that you need it. Professor Beck is
very careful to require no more in that direction from a boy than
his condition should allow, and to render mistakes impossible the
physical examination of every pupil is made when he enters, and again
at intervals until he leaves school. Now, I will speak to Professor
Beck; maybe it will seem advisable to him to make your exercise a
little lighter for a while. But I expect you to report regularly at the
gymnasium, or, if you are feeling unfit, to tell me of the fact. We
won’t require any boy to do anything that might be of injury to him.
Will you promise to do this?”

“I can’t, sir. It is the principle of the thing that is wrong.”

“I can’t discuss that with you any longer, Gordon; I’ve done so at
greater length than I intended to already. You must obey the rules
while you are here. If you do not you must go elsewhere. When is your
next gymnasium day?”

“To-morrow, sir.”

“Very well; I shall expect you to be there. If you are not I shall
be obliged to put you on probation, which is a very uncomfortable
thing. If you still refuse you will be suspended. I tell you this now
so that you may labor under no illusions. I do not complain because
you hold the views which you do--they are surprising, but not against
discipline--but I must and do insist that you obey the rules. Think
it over, Gordon, and don’t do yourself an injury by taking the wrong
course. If you want to see me in the morning, after you have slept on
the matter, you will find me here. Good day.”

“Good day, sir, and thank you for your advice; only----”

“Well?”

“I don’t think I can do as you wish.”

“But,” answered the principal earnestly, “let us hope that you can.”



CHAPTER VI

WAYNE PAYS A BILL


“I want two dollars, Don.”

Don glanced up with a smile.

“So do I; I was thinking so just this morning. I need a new pair of
gymnasium shoes, and-- But please, Wayne, come in and shut the door;
there’s a regular cyclone blowing around my feet.”

“But, look here. I want to borrow two dollars from you, Don; I must
have it right away,” said Wayne peremptorily, as he shut out the
draught.

“Sorry, because I haven’t got fifty cents to my name, and won’t have
until Monday. What do you want to do with it? Going to start a bank?”

“That’s none of your business,” answered Wayne; “and if you can’t lend
it to me I can’t stop chinning here. I’ll try Paddy, I guess.”

“Paddy!” exclaimed Don, with a grin. “Why, Paddy never has a nickel
ten minutes after his dad sends him his allowance, which is the first.
If he had I’d be after him this minute; he’s owed me eighty cents ever
since September. Dave might have it. Have you had dinner? Where did
you go to?”

“Dinner? No, I forgot about it. What time is it? Am I too late?”

“Of course; it’s twenty after two. What have you been doing?”

“Oh, I’ve--” Wayne’s face grew cloudy as he jumped off the end of the
table and went to the door. “I’ll tell you about it later. I’m busy
now. Has Dave got a recitation on?”

“What’s to-day--Thursday? I’m sure I don’t know. I never can keep track
of his hours; seniors are such an erratic, self-important lot.”

“Well, I’ll run over and see. Er--by the way, do you know a chap called
Gray, a rather pasty-looking lower middle fellow?”

“Gray? No, I don’t think so. What does he do?”

“Do? Oh, I think he’s a baseball player, or something like that.”

“Don’t remember him. Are you coming up here after four?”

“Yep; wait for me.”

Wayne clattered off downstairs and crossed the green back of the
gymnasium and the principal’s residence. As he went he drew a little
roll of money from his vest, supplemented it with a few coins from his
trousers’ pocket, and counted the whole over twice. He shook his head
as he put the money away again.

“Nine dollars and forty-two cents,” he muttered, “and I can’t make any
more of it if I count it all day.”

He ran up the steps to Hampton House, pushed open the broad, white door
and entered the big colonial hallway. At the far end a cheerful fire
was cracking in a generous chimney place, lighting up the dim gilt
frames and dull canvases of the portraits of bygone Hilltonians that
looked severely down from the walls. Hampton House is a dormitory whose
half dozen rooms are inhabited by a few wealthy youths who find in the
comfort of the great, old-fashioned apartments and the prestige that
residence therein brings compensation for the high rents. Wayne turned
sharply to the right and beat a tattoo with his knuckles over the black
figure 2 on the door. From within came the sound of a loud voice in
monotonous declamation. Wayne substituted his shoe for his knuckles and
Paddy’s voice bade him enter.

“Where’s Dave?” asked Wayne. Paddy, who had been tramping up and down
the apartment with a book in his hand, and declaiming pages of Cæsar’s
Civil War to the chandelier, tossed the volume aside and tried to
smooth down his hair, which was standing up in tumbled heaps, making
him look not unlike “the fretful porcupine.”

“Dave’s at a recitation; German, I think. Want to see him?”

“Yes, I want to borrow some money from him.”

“Don’t think he has any. You see, I borrow most of his money as soon as
it comes; he never has any use for it himself, and it grieves me to see
it laying round idle. How much do you want?”

“Two dollars. Have you got it, Paddy?”

“’Fraid not; let’s see.” He pulled open a table drawer and rummaged
about until several pieces of silver rewarded his search. Then he
emptied his pockets, and the two counted the result.

“Eighty-five cents,” said Paddy regretfully. “Hold on; perhaps Dave has
some change left. Sometimes I leave him a few cents for pocket money.”
He went to his chum’s bureau and in a moment returned with a purse
which, when turned up over the study table, rained from its depths four
quarters and a nickel.

“Oh, the desavin critter!” cried Paddy. “Now, where did he get all that
wealth? Let’s see; that’s one dollar and ninety cents. If we could only
find another dime----”

“That’ll do,” answered Wayne, as he pocketed the coins. “I’ll write
home to-night and pay you back as soon as I get it. I’m awfully much
obliged.”

“Don’t mention it. Is there anything else I can do for you to-day?”

“Have you got anything to eat? I lost my dinner; forgot it until a
minute ago.”

“I’ve got some crackers,” replied Paddy dubiously, “and a tin of some
kind of meat. It’s been opened a good while, but I guess it’ll be all
right after I scrape the mold off.”

“Bring them out, will you? I’m in a hurry, Paddy; I’ve got a recitation
at 3.15.” Paddy whistled.

“In a hurry! Whisper, Wayne, are yez ill?”

“Shut up. Where’s the meat?”

The delicacies were produced and Wayne ate ravenously. As Paddy had
predicted, the tinned beef was extremely palatable to the hungry boy
after a half inch of mold had been detached with the paper cutter.

“Do you know a chap named Gray?” asked Wayne, with his mouth full of
cracker.

“Aisy, me boy!” cried Paddy. “Don’t choke yersilf. Wait till your
tongue has more room. Gray, did you say? I know a youngster by that
name in the lower middle. He played ball on the junior nine last year
when they beat us by one run in twelve innings.”

“That’s the fellow. Where does he room?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll soon tell you.” Paddy found a school catalogue
and turned the leaves. “Here we are: Gray, Carl Ellis, Buffalo, N. Y.,
W. H. Vance’s.”

“Whereabouts is Vance’s?” asked Wayne, as he scraped the bottom of the
can.

“Just around the corner from the post office; a big, square, white
house with green blinds and a cat-colored roof.”

“A what?”

“Cat-colored roof--kind of a Maltese color, you know.”

“Well, I’m off. Thanks for the stuff! Tell Dave----”

“Hold on and I’ll go with you. What’s up?”

“No, you won’t; I’m going alone. I’ll tell you about it later--perhaps.”

“Well, if it’s a lark, you’re mighty mean not to let a chap into it.”

“It isn’t a lark at all. By!”

Wayne hurried out and Paddy grumblingly closed the door and watched him
from the window.

“He’s mighty secret-like, I’m thinking, and mighty hurried. I haven’t
seen him move so fast since he came. Must be something important. Wish
I knew, bad cess to him!”

Wayne trudged off up the village road and soon found the boarding house
with the “cat-colored roof.” Gray’s name adorned a door on the second
floor, and Wayne’s knock elicited, after a moment, a faint “Come in!”
The room was a cheerful one with four big windows, but the furnishings
were tattered and worn and the walls were almost bare of pictures. The
floor was partly covered by a threadbare ingrain rug and the green
leather on the student desk in the center was full of holes and spots.
The boy whom Wayne had seen in the principal’s office arose from a
chair at the desk as Wayne entered, and a half-written letter before
him told its own story. Gray’s eyes were suspiciously red and the lad
looked embarrassed and ill at ease. Wayne, with a sudden recollection
of Professor Wheeler’s advice, plunged at once into the subject of his
visit.

“You’re Carl Gray, aren’t you? Well, my name’s Gordon; I’m in the upper
middle. I happened to be in Wheeler’s outer office when you were in
there. The door was partly open and I couldn’t help hearing what was
said, and--and I’m awfully sorry, of course. But you see it wasn’t my
fault.”

“I’m sorry you heard it,” answered Gray, looking piteously embarrassed;
“but of course you--it wasn’t your fault.”

“No--was it?” asked Wayne eagerly. “So I thought that perhaps I could
help you, and--” He stepped forward and placed the money on the table.
“There’s eleven dollars there. I couldn’t get hold of any more, but
you said you had a dollar, you know, so perhaps that’ll be enough.”
Gray looked helplessly from Wayne to the money and back again. Once
he opened his mouth, but, as he apparently could find no words, Wayne
went on: “I haven’t a mother myself, you see--she died when I was just
a youngster--but if I had I’d feel as you do about the bill; and of
course Professor Wheeler won’t send it to her if you pay this money to
Porter to-day and tell him about it.”

“But I don’t see why--why you should lend me this,” said Gray, at
length. “You don’t know me and--and I can’t pay you for a good while. I
don’t get much of an allowance, and----”

“I know,” replied Wayne cheerfully. “Fifty cents a week. But pay me
back when you can; I’m in no hurry. And--and you might come and see me
sometime; I room in Bradley--No. 15.”

“I’ll pay you fifty cents every week until it’s all returned!” cried
Gray. “Why, I’d have done--done anything to keep mother from knowing
about it and having to pay it! I was such a fool, wasn’t I? Bought
clothes and gloves and lots of things that I didn’t need just because
Porter said I could charge them and that he wouldn’t ask for the money
until I could pay it.”

“He ought to be kicked!” exclaimed Wayne angrily.

“He didn’t act decently,” continued Gray. “If he’d only told me last
year I could have had it almost paid by now; but I thought there was no
hurry, and--and--” He stopped and dropped his gaze; then he went on in
lowered tones: “I wish I could make you understand how glad I am and
how much I thank you----”

“Oh, dry up!” said Wayne, backing toward the door and searching with
his hand for the knob. “It’s all right, and I understand. And--well, I
must hurry--got a recitation, you know--may be late now.”

He had found the knob and the last words were spoken from the hallway.

“But, I say, Gray, I wish you wouldn’t try to pay fifty cents a week to
me. I don’t need it, you know, and it’s all your allowance, and----”

“I think I’d rather, if you don’t mind,” answered the younger lad
resolutely. He was smiling now and looked quite healthy and happy; but
something was glittering in the corner of his eye, and Wayne seeing it,
bolted downstairs three steps at a time.

After Wayne left Hampton House Paddy went dejectedly back to his Latin,
but at the end of twenty minutes found that he had remembered nothing
of what he had gone over, and so tossed his book aside, yawned, glanced
at the clock, and sallied forth in the direction of Academy Building.
As he turned the corner he caught sight of Don coming down the steps
and gained that youth’s attention by a war whoop. Don was looking
unusually thoughtful as Paddy overtook him.

“Why, you look serious enough to have been visiting ‘Wheels’!” cried
Paddy.

“That’s what I’ve been doing.”

“What--you? What’s the trouble?”

“I’ll tell you. It’s Wayne. He won’t attend gym work and he’s told
‘Wheels’ as much, and ‘Wheels’ has threatened to put him on probation
if he doesn’t report to Beck to-morrow.”

“But----”

“‘Wheels’ sent for me and asked me to use my persuasive powers on the
silly dub. But what can I do? Wayne’s as stubborn as a mule, and he
declares he won’t attend; says it’s an injustice--that faculty hasn’t
any right to compel him to do gym work unless he wants to.”

“Do you mean that he told all that rot to ‘Wheels’?”

“Every word, and a lot more, I guess.” Paddy whistled.

“Well, he is a chump. Where is he? He came over and borrowed some money
awhile ago. What’s he up to now?”

“Don’t ask me,” responded Don helplessly. “What I want to know is, how
can we keep the fellow from being put on probation or suspended, for
‘Wheels’ declares he’ll do both?”

“Why, we’ll get Dave, and the three of us will reason with him.”

“Pshaw! we might as well save our breath. I’d just as soon reason with
a lamp-post,” answered Don, in disgust.

“Hello! there he comes now,” said Paddy. “He’s been to the village to
see some fellow by the name of Gray. Shall we walk down and try our
arguments now?”

“No; let’s wait. You and Dave come up to the room to-night and we’ll
see what we can do with him,” said Don. “I hate to have him get into
trouble, because, after all, he’s a good chap.”

“Of course he is,” answered Paddy heartily, “and we’ll look after him
all right. Why, if he won’t go and take his gym work like a little man,
after we’ve reasoned with him, we’ll----”

Paddy stopped, grinning broadly, and slapped Don triumphantly on the
shoulder.

“I have it!” he cried.

“Have what?”

“A way, my lad.”

“What is it?” asked Don eagerly.

“Why, if he refuses to go to gym to-morrow, we’ll just-- But I’ll tell
you later. Here he is. Hello, Old Virginia! where’ve you been?”

“Oh, just to the village,” answered Wayne vaguely.

“And did you spend all that money?”

“Every cent of it.”

“Well, pony up. Where are the goodies?” demanded Paddy.

“Why, I--well, the fact is----”

“Cut it out. What did you buy?”

“Nothing. Fact is I--I paid a bill.”



CHAPTER VII

THE REVOLT ENDS


The sun came up from behind Mount Adam, the chapel bell rang, some two
hundred boys leaped, crawled, or rolled out of bed, and life at Hillton
began the next morning as though the day was of no more importance than
any of the five which had preceded it that week; in fact, as though
Wayne Gordon was not heroically resolved to sacrifice himself upon the
altar of principle.

While the unfeeling sun was coming up Wayne was going through a most
remarkable adventure. Plainly he had won Professor Wheeler to his
side, for together they were besieged in the school library and had
barricaded the doors and windows with books, while from convenient
loopholes they maintained a rapid and merciless fusillade of ancient
and modern history, Greek and Latin text-books, geometries, and
algebras upon the heads of the besiegers, who retaliated with chest
weights, dumb-bells, single sticks, and Indian clubs until the air was
dark with the flying missiles and the battle cries of the foes shook
the building. Wayne and the principal had just clasped hands and sworn
to perish side by side, fighting grandly to the last gasp for the
right, when a whole covey of chest weights came through a window and
smote Wayne on the head, and he awoke to see Don with a second pillow
poised, ready to throw.

“Get up, Wayne; bell’s rung!”

Wayne yawned, pitched the pillow back at Don, and arose. He hadn’t
slept well, and wished that Don wouldn’t always insist on his getting
up so early. And he told him so. But Don was good nature itself that
morning and refused to argue or get cross, and Wayne was perforce
obliged to recover his wonted gayety, much against his inclination, and
trudge off arm in arm with Don to chapel. And after he had got through
with a hearty breakfast, even the thought that probation awaited him on
the morrow failed to dispel his excellent spirits.

For, as Don had feared, the combined efforts of the three friends had
failed to shake Wayne’s resolution. Don had pleaded, Paddy had begged,
Dave had threatened; and Wayne had reiterated passionately his desire
to suffer martyrdom on account of his principles, and had utterly and
absolutely and finally refused to attend gymnasium work to-day or to
plead illness in extenuation. The three friends had not appeared cast
down--a fact at which Wayne wondered not a little. It looked as though
they didn’t care whether he was put on probation or not, and he had
gone to bed deeply pessimistic on the subject of friendship.

Wayne’s hour for physical training in the gymnasium began at three, and
when, five minutes before that time, he issued from Academy Building
resolved to proceed to his room and put in the momentous hour at hard
study, he found Don and Dave and Paddy on the steps. The two latter
youths at once locked arms with him, much to his surprise, for Dave
especially was little given to such expressions of friendliness, and
the quartet moved toward Bradley Hall.

“Why aren’t you and Dave on the campus?” asked Wayne.

“Oh, we didn’t like to leave you alone this afternoon,” answered Paddy,
with a smile. “You see, we have your welfare at heart, my boy, and we
are going to see that you don’t act silly and get put on probation, and
not be able to go to Marshall with us next week.”

“If you mean not going to the gymnasium when you say ‘acting silly,’”
replied Wayne, with much dignity, “why, then, I’m going to act silly.”

“Oh, no, you’re not,” said Dave.

“What do you mean?” demanded Wayne, striving to withdraw himself from
his friends’ clutches. They had almost reached the steps of Bradley,
and now they stopped and faced about.

“Just this,” said Dave. “We’ve tried persuasion and--and----”

“Entreaty,” prompted Don.

“And entreaty--and both have failed. So now we’re going to use force.
If you don’t agree to go to the gym and do your work peaceable, we are
going to take you there.”

Wayne struggled violently, only to suddenly find his feet off the
ground, his arms held fast, and himself being borne, kicking wildly,
toward the gymnasium.

“Let me go, Dave! Paddy, you--you beast, put me down!”

“Aisy, me child,” answered Paddy soothingly. “’Tis for yer own good.”

“Don, make ’em let me go!” pleaded Wayne. But his chum shook his head.

“Go you must, Wayne, so you’d better promise and we’ll let you walk.”
Wayne made no answer, only struggled the harder.

“You’ll have to take his legs, Don,” panted Paddy. “’Tis mighty unaisy
he is.” They were crossing the green now, and several fellows were
hurrying nearer to see what was going on. A group of boys on the steps
of the gymnasium were watching.

“It’s--it’s an outrage!” panted Wayne, his face white with anger.

“Maybe it is,” said Dave calmly, “but we’re getting you there.”
Struggle was useless, and Wayne for a moment lay quiet in the grasp of
the three boys. Then he caught sight of the watchers. It was public
degradation! He temporized.

“I’ll walk, fellows,” he said.

His bearers stopped and let him down.

“Will you promise to go to the gym?” asked Don.

“Yes,” growled Wayne. “But I’ll not do any work, and nobody can make
me!”

“Up with him!” cried Dave, and once more Wayne was fighting in the arms
of the three and being borne on toward the gymnasium.

“What’s the fun, Paddy?” yelled one of the fellows who were hurrying to
meet them.

“Oh, we’re just taking exercise,” answered Paddy carelessly.

“What--what are you going to do with me?” asked Wayne, in meeker tones.

“Carry you to the locker room, change your clothes, take you upstairs,
and give you, like a bundle of old rags, to Professor Beck,” answered
Dave.

“Let me down, then, and I’ll agree.” Once more he found his feet, but
the others took no chances and still stood guard.

“Promise to do your work?” asked Don.

“Yes,” growled Wayne.

“Honest Injun?”

“Honest Injun,” echoed the other.

“All right,” replied Dave. “Then let’s proceed.”

They walked on, Wayne striving to look at ease under the inquiring gaze
of many eyes as they passed up the steps and into the building. In the
locker room Dave and Paddy left him to get into their own clothes and
to hurry away to the campus, while Don stood by and listened patiently
to all that Wayne had to say, which was much, and not altogether polite
or flattering. Then the two proceeded upstairs and Wayne went through
a long siege with the dumb-bells and the chest weights. Professor Beck
made no sign, and Wayne wondered resentfully if he was aware of his
presence. He was, for after awhile he came to the boy, watched him
tugging the cords over his shoulders for a moment in silence and then
said:

“Don’t get yourself too tired, Gordon. Stop when you think best.”

Whereat Wayne scowled, tugged the harder at the weights, and resolved
to stay until the class was dismissed, hoping resentfully that he
would injure his spine or some other portion of his anatomy, and that
Professor Wheeler and Don and Paddy and Dave would be sorry and would
regret their treatment of him. This so cheered him up that he was
quite ready to forgive and forget when he had dried himself after his
bath, and so met Don with almost a smile; for that youth, hoping for
a reconciliation, had abandoned a French recitation and had waited
patiently outside. Neither mentioned the recent affair as they
strolled off together, and by mutual consent the subject of physical
training was tabooed in their conversation for several weeks. And Dave
and Paddy evinced the utmost tact, and were in turn forgiven on the
morrow.

Professor Wheeler, however, was not so silent on the subject nor so
considerate of Wayne’s feelings. He summoned the boy before him on the
following day and earnestly and kindly thanked him for his action in
attending the gymnasium; and Wayne, shifting uneasily from one foot to
the other, heard him through and then broke out with:

“But I didn’t, sir!”

“Didn’t what?” asked the principal.

“Didn’t voluntarily attend the class.”

“But Professor Beck himself told me that you were there.”

“Yes, sir, I was there; but--but--” And Wayne told the circumstances of
his attendance, and the principal smiled broadly when he had finished.

“Well, well, that’s one way to persuade. I asked Cunningham to
see what he could do with you, but I didn’t suppose he would use
such--ah--heroic measures.”

“I don’t think it was his idea, sir,” answered Wayne. “I believe Paddy
was at the bottom of it.”

“Paddy? Oh, yes--Breen. I shouldn’t be surprised if he was.” Professor
Wheeler was smiling again. “Well, it wasn’t so hard yesterday, was it,
Gordon?”

“No, sir, not very hard; but the principle----”

The professor held up his hands in simulated despair.

“Gordon, it’s a reckless thing to say, but let us forget our principles
for once. If I were you I’d try to keep out of all trouble if for no
other reason than to please three such good friends as Cunningham and
Breen and--er--Merton have proved to be. I’d even put principle aside,
I think, and only consider that I was pleasing my chums. Now, don’t you
think you can afford to do that?”

Wayne thoughtfully smoothed the carpet with the toe of his shoe.

“Yes, sir,” he said, at length, “I think I can.”

“And you’ll attend the ‘compulsory physical education’ class in
future?” Wayne scowled and tried the effect of the other shoe for a
moment.

“Yes, sir,” he answered. “I’ll do gymnasium work, but not because I
think it is right, for I don’t. I still think it’s wrong. But I’ll do
it to please Don and Dave and Paddy and--and----”

“And me,” said the principal smilingly.

“Yes, sir.”

“That’s right. By the way, Carl Gray came to me yesterday and told me
about that money, you know. It may please you to hear that the account
will not be sent to his mother.”

“I’m very glad, sir,” responded Wayne heartily. “It seemed too bad to
have her know, didn’t it, sir?”

“Yes,” said Professor Wheeler gravely. “I feel sure that you don’t want
thanks for the kindness, but I’d like to tell you that it has made me
very nearly as happy as it has Gray; I disliked my duty greatly. Well,
that’s all, I think, Gordon. Come and see me sometimes. I’m always glad
to see you boys at any time, and especially on Saturday evenings. I
wish more of you could find time to come then. Oh, by the way, you said
the other day that you were having hard work with your studies. Which
ones bother you most?”

“Greek and mathematics are the worst.”

“Perhaps you could get a little help from some one for a while. Have
you tried?”

“No, sir, I--I didn’t like to own up; all the other fellows get along
so well.”

“Not all, Gordon; there are others in your fix. Take my advice and go
and see Professor Durkee. He rooms in your building. You’ll find him
quite willing to help you all he can; and he’s an excellent Greek man.
He’s a little--ah--well, crusty, Gordon, on the surface, but you’ll
find him kindness itself underneath. Try him.”

“Thank you, sir, I will.”

“Yes. And it’s all settled about the ‘compulsory physical education,’
is it?”

“Yes, sir, only----”

“What, have we struck a snag already?”

“No, only I’d like it understood that I’m doing it under protest, sir.”

“That,” answered the principal gravely, “is of course understood. Shall
we shake hands on it?”

And they did.



CHAPTER VIII

THE FOOTBALL GAME


Thanksgiving recess began the following Wednesday, to last until Friday
evening, and many of the boys whose homes were near by departed by the
noonday train, superciliously sympathizing with less fortunate friends
whose turkey and cranberry sauce were to be eaten in the school dining
hall. Paddy and Don had both received boxes of canned and sugared
delicacies from home, and a supplementary feast, to follow the six
o’clock repast in the hall, was arranged to take place in Paddy’s
room, and that youth, who was to break training after the St. Eustace
game, promised himself to atone for two months of healthful diet by a
veritable orgy on indigestible luxuries.

Wayne, Don, and Dave, together with more than fifty other Hilltonians,
boarded the morning express and were transported to the little
down-river town of Marshall, where their arrival was enthusiastically
welcomed by several score of St. Eustace fellows, headed by a brass
band, who escorted them twice through the village, and finally left
them, to recover their breaths before lunch at the hotel. Hillton’s
band was already on the ground, having accompanied the football team
the evening before, and with the arrival of the wearers of the crimson
a day of hard work began for it. The band’s repertory was limited,
but its energy tremendous, and the Marshall population gathered in
front of the hotel to hearken to it and to be mercilessly guyed by the
Hilltonians who thronged the broad veranda.

The game was to be called at 2.30. An hour before that time Don and
Wayne--Dave having taken up with a St. Eustace acquaintance for the
while--started across the bridge to the far side of the river, where,
hidden almost from sight, the rival academy nestled amid its trees. The
field was already bright with blue banners when the boys arrived and
the St. Eustace band was busily at work.

“What I don’t understand,” said Wayne, “is why we don’t have to pay any
admission.”

“That,” answered Don, “is because Hillton, when she signed the athletic
agreement with St. Eustace six years ago, made it one of her terms that
no charge should be made for admission to any of the athletic events
between the two schools. Instead, a number of invitation cards are
printed. The home school gets two thirds of them for distribution and
the visiting school the balance. Of course, it puts the cost of keeping
up the eleven and the nine and the other teams on the fellows and the
grads, but they seem willing enough to meet it. And, besides, as I
know from personal experience, it makes the captains and coaches think
more about economy; and we don’t very often travel in parlor cars nor
put up at the swellest hotels, but we’ve managed to turn out a winning
eleven two years out of every three for a long time.”

“But other schools charge admission,” objected Wayne.

“I know. St. Eustace does for every game except this one. But the idea
is ‘Wheels’s.’ He thinks that playing football or baseball for the
gate receipts smacks of professionalism; ‘sport for sport’s sake,’
says ‘Wheels.’ And I think he’s right. Look at the big colleges; some
of them make from ten to fifteen thousand dollars as their share of an
important game.”

“But why shouldn’t they?” asked Wayne.

“Because they’re not professionals; they’re college fellows--the
players, I mean--and have no business going around country like a lot
of--of--circus folk, showing off for money. And, besides, it’s bound
to hurt college sport after awhile. If a captain of a big team knows
that by having a winning eleven he can secure a game with another big
college, and get eight or ten thousand dollars, why, in lots of cases
it’s going to make that captain careless about little things. He isn’t
going to inquire too closely into the standing of the fellows that make
up the team; he’s going to excuse a lot of laxity as regards training;
and he’s going to overlook lots of dirty playing, and all that hurts
the college in the end. No, I think ‘Wheels’ is right; and so does
Remsen and lots of the old fellows.”

“But, look here,” argued Wayne. “When a team makes eight, or ten,
or fifteen thousand dollars, you know, that money doesn’t go to the
players, does it?”

“Gracious, no!” exclaimed Don. “It’s generally turned into the general
athletic fund, and helps meet the expenses of the crews and other teams
that don’t pay their way. But don’t you see that it’s a big feather in
a fellow’s cap if he can say that he made fifteen thousand dollars for
the athletic association! And the oftener a college team makes a big
pot of money the richer the association gets, and the first thing you
know it’s sending its football and baseball teams around the country in
a private car, with a small army of rubbers and coaches and a cook who
prepares all the meals, just as though they were one of those foreign
opera companies! It’s all wrong, Wayne. It isn’t good, honest sport;
it’s--it’s tommyrot--that’s what it is!”

“Well, maybe it is,” answered the other boy thoughtfully. “Anyhow, I
shan’t kick, you know; it’s saved me a dollar, I dare say.”

“No, it hasn’t, Wayne, because you’ll have to pay that dollar, and
maybe another like it, into the crew’s pocket, or the baseball nine’s
pocket, or the track team’s little treasury in the spring.”

“Oh, I see. The idea is to have the school--that is, the fellows and
the graduates--meet the athletic expenses, and not to ask the public
for help.”

“That’s it,” answered Don heartily. “But here comes Hillton.”

A little squad of youths in crimson sweaters, headed by Gardiner
and followed by the Hillton band, defiled on to the field, and the
occupants of the stand where Wayne and Don sat were instantly on their
feet cheering lustily. The band paraded with ludicrous dignity about
the field, and at last found seats near by and for the fifth time began
its programme. A moment later the St. Eustace players entered and
were greeted with acclaim from hundreds of wearers of the dark blue
and their friends, and received a cheer from the rival contingent.
The two teams and their substitutes went busily to practicing, and
Wayne watched Paddy, large of bulk and quick of action, snapping back
the ball and forming the apex of numerous little wedges that grew and
dissolved under the tuition of the coach.

The seats about the broad expanse of faded turf were filled now, and
many spectators had taken up positions on the ground just inside the
ropes that guarded the side-lines. Blue was the prevailing color, and
only on one small section of the stand did the crimson of Hillton
flutter. Presently the substitutes trotted off the gridiron and
squatted, Indian-like in their blankets, along the sides, a coin was
tossed, the teams took their positions, and Paddy sent the new ball
corkscrewing toward the St. Eustace goal, where it was gathered into
the waiting arms of the St. Eustace full-back on the thirty-yard line
and advanced by him over two white bars ere the Hillton ends downed him.

During the six years in which the athletic agreement had been in
force between the two academies Hillton had won three of the football
contests and tied one. Last year, and again the year before, her eleven
had triumphed over the blue, and St. Eustace, with two consecutive
defeats rankling in her memory, was this year determined upon victory.
And it was the very general opinion that she would win it. To be sure,
Hillton had played the usual number of games throughout the fall and
had no defeats behind her. Westvale Grammar School had been beaten to
the tune of 27 to 0; the local grammar school had been whitewashed by
a monotonously big score; the neighboring military academy had managed
to play a tie; and Shrewsburg High School had accepted defeat after a
close and exciting contest, in which Greene had snatched a victory by
a spirited forty-yard run for a touch-down. But those who knew shook
their heads when the subject of the St. Eustace game was mentioned, and
talked vaguely of a “lack of the right stuff,” a term which conveys
nothing to the mind of any one save a football player, but which means
everything.

The preceding Saturday evening the four friends, with numerous other
boys, had obtained permission to go to the village and learn the result
of the Harwell-Yates game, and when, in the telegraph office, the
report that Yates had been the victor greeted them Paddy had sighed
dolefully.

“That settles it,” he had said. “We don’t always win from St. Eustace
when Harwell wins from Yates, but we’ve never beaten when she hasn’t.
It’s St. Eustace’s game.” And no amount of argument could shake his
conviction.

Wayne and Don voted the first half of the game dull. The teams were
apparently evenly matched in defensive playing, and nearly so in
offensive work. The ball oscillated from one twenty-five-yard line to
the other, Hillton and St. Eustace both looking for an opportunity to
send a back around for a run and finding none. Line-bucking made up
the most of the play, and at this each team held its ground stubbornly
when on the defensive, and attacked gallantly when it had the ball.
It was only at the end of the half that anything exciting occurred.
With but three or four minutes to play, and the pigskin near Hillton’s
thirty-yard line in St. Eustace’s possession, the backs drew away from
the line, and amid a tense silence the ball was passed to full for a
try at goal. But Paddy it was who frustrated the attempt by breaking
through St. Eustace’s line and receiving the ascending ball on his
broad chest. Don and Wayne were sitting on the lowest tier of seats so
that the former might lead in the cheering, and as the ball disappeared
under a heap of wildly scrambling players he was on his feet, cap in
hand, and the Hillton section was responding nobly to his appeal; the
fellows delighted at a chance to applaud something worth applauding.
The half ended with the ball in the arms of the Hillton full-back.

During the intermission Dave turned up, and the three boys stamped
about the ground to keep their feet warm and sang “Hilltonians”
vociferously to show their joy. And the band did wonders.

“Looks like a tie, Dave,” said Don.

“Well, I don’t know,” responded that youth, with his usual caution.
“Paddy’s dreadfully used up; he’s been playing center and left-guard
and right-guard and half the team. And if Paddy goes out--well, we
might as well go home and read about the game in to-morrow’s paper.”

“Bowles seems to be running the team well,” mused Don.

“Yes, he’s braced up wonderfully; he’s all right. Gardiner’s delighted
with him. Two weeks ago he couldn’t hold a snapped ball.”

“Oh, have you seen Gardiner? What’s he say?”

“Nothing, but he looks cheerful. That’s a bad sign. When Gardiner looks
cheerful, it means that he’s worried. Hello! here they come again.
Let’s get these stuffed images to cheer.” Dave turned to the seats:
“Now, fellows, you’ve been doing some of the worst cheering that I
ever heard outside of a girls’ school. We’re going to win, but we’ve
got to use our lungs. So let’s give ’em nine long Hilltons, as though
we were glad we’re living.”

The response was all that Dave desired, and he and Don and “Pigeon”
Wallace, president of the senior class, kept the cheers going until the
ball was aloft and the game was on again.

St. Eustace forced the playing at once. Down the field they came
by short rushes, and ere the watchers on the stand knew what was
happening, the ball was on the Hillton ten-yard line and the
blue-stockinged backs were massed close behind their line for a tandem
on guard. A yard resulted from this play. “Second down!” cried the
referee. “Four yards to gain!” The Hillton boys were on their feet,
cheering at the top of their lungs. Another massed attack, and but two
yards was needed by the St. Eustace eleven. But those two yards were
beyond accomplishment, for Paddy led the crimson line in a sturdy,
desperate resistance, Hillton took the ball on her seven-yard line, and
a moment after it was sailing down the field from Grow’s nimble foot,
and Wayne, Dave, and Don were yelling frantically and pounding each
other enthusiastically over the head.

But back came the ball as before, St. Eustace’s steady short rushes
being supplemented once by a stirring run around Hillton’s left end
that brought the blue’s champions to their feet in a mighty burst of
noise. Past the middle of the gridiron went the charging St. Eustace
players, and the ball was down on Hillton’s forty yards ere another
five minutes had flown by. Then the whistle piped shrilly and Dave
clutched Don’s sleeve.

“Paddy’s laid out!” he cried hoarsely.

And so it was; and there was a deal of anxiety in that little throng
until the plucky center climbed to his feet again and broke away from
the trainer’s hands. Then all Hillton shrieked joyously and the game
went on. But it was plainly to be seen that Paddy was suffering, and
it was equally evident that there was good reason; for he had not only
to play his own position, but to help the guards as well, and now,
to make his difficulties greater and to increase his troubles, the
opposing team had decided upon a plan of play that made Dave writhe
impotently in his seat, and which caused even Wayne’s careless good
temper to revolt. Time after time the full force of the St. Eustace
backs was thrown upon Paddy. For long he stood it doggedly, holding his
temper in check under every fresh assault; but there is an end to all
endurance, and now, with fifteen minutes of the second half gone, Paddy
was visibly weakening, and every successive plunge at the center of the
Hillton line resulted in a greater gain.

“There’s slugging going on there, Don!” cried Dave. “That St. Eustace
right-guard struck Paddy then. You watch this time!”

The line-up was directly opposite the boys’ seats and but a few yards
from the side-line, and they watched attentively as Paddy was helped to
his feet and groped his way to his place. “Tackles back!” called the
St. Eustace quarter, “78--36--76--16--” Then the two lines met with a
shock, there was a rasping of canvas, and ere the Hillton line gave
and the St. Eustace backs piled through, a clinched hand rose and fell
twice, and Paddy fell weakly to his knees and slowly stretched himself
out on his face. Not only the three boys saw the blows struck, but
almost every fellow in the immediate vicinity, and a veritable wave of
hisses drowned the applause of the St. Eustace cheerers. And at the
same moment Wayne, with blazing cheeks and angry eyes, leaped from the
stand, darted through the throng about the rope, and strode menacingly
toward the St. Eustace right-guard. But before his upraised fist
reached the surprised player his arm was seized and in a moment he was
struggling in the grasp of two of the Hillton team. Half of the Hillton
crowd had impulsively followed Wayne’s lead, and now an indignant horde
broke through the ropes and invaded the field with loud cries for
vengeance.

It was a time for action, and Gardiner, Greene, and several more of
the wearers of the crimson resolutely stemmed the tide, pleading and
threatening in a breath.

“Fellows! Fellows!” cried Gardiner. “Go back! It’s all right; don’t
disgrace the school!”

“Get off the field, fellows!” shouted Greene. “I swear I’ll knock down
the first fellow that comes any nearer! You’re acting like a lot of
kids!”

“Make ’em take him off, then!” was the reply from dozens of throats, as
the crowd wavered and gave back unwillingly.

“Yes, it’s all right--it’s all right,” said Gardiner soothingly. “Only
go back to the stand, like good chaps.”

The boys withdrew beyond the wrecked ropes again, but did not
immediately return to their seats. Many St. Eustace fellows had drawn
near and were glaring threateningly toward them. Wayne, in the grasp
of his friends, was dragged off the field, trembling with anger and
doggedly promising the offending St. Eustace guard a licking after
the game. Paddy, with a badly bruised eye, was supported to a place
by the ropes, and the belligerent St. Eustace player was ruled out of
the game. The Hillton contingent cheered lustily for Paddy and groaned
derisively at his assailant, and went slowly back to their places,
while the St. Eustace fellows were dispersed by some of the older lads.
Then some one caught sight of Wayne, held in his seat by Don and Dave,
and shouted, “Bully for Gordon!” which cry was taken up by others and
prolonged until Don jumped up and faced the stand.

“Fellows,” he pleaded, “shut up, please! Everything’s all right now.
Only keep still, will you?”

Laughter and cheers greeted him and good humor came back to the crowd.
A small junior shrilled, “We’ll beat them, anyhow!” and the sentiment
was applauded to the echo.

But victory for Hillton was too much to expect with Paddy no longer in
line. Burton, who took his place, was a fair center, but far from heavy
enough to stop the opponent’s triumphant advance down the field, and
though Hillton worked desperately for the next ten minutes the ball
was at length within scoring distance of her goal, and again the St.
Eustace full-back dropped back for a punt.

“Can’t be done from there,” whispered Don breathlessly. “It’s forty
yards, I’ll bet.” But Dave shook his head.

“That full-back’s a wonder, they say, and I wouldn’t be surprised to
see him do it. If only we can get through!”

But the St. Eustace line held like a wall, the ball sped back, the full
caught it neatly, and with admirable care poised it in his palm before
dropping it. Then his toe caught it on the rebound and up it sailed,
straight and unwavering, cleanly between the posts and over the bar!
And blue flags waved and cheers for St. Eustace filled the air, and
Dave and Don looked sorrowfully at each other and groaned in unison.
Only Wayne in all that throng seemed not to heed or care; he was
watching vindictively a boy who was waving a blue sweater on the far
side of the field.

There was no more scoring done, although the Hillton team, to all
appearances undismayed, returned to the game with hammer and tongs, as
it were, and forced the ball to her opponents’ twenty yards ere she
lost it for holding, and afterward stubbornly and heroically contested
every inch of turf ere yielding it to the victorious foe. But the
whistle soon sounded, the two teams gathered breathless in mid-field
and cheered each other, the St. Eustace band paraded the gridiron,
followed by a shouting, dancing train of ecstatic youths with blue
flags, and Wayne, still pining for vengeance, was dragged willy nilly
to the village and on to the train and borne back to school under
strict guard and in dire disgrace--a disgrace that did not deter many
a mistaken fellow from clapping him on the shoulder, and whispering a
hearty “Good boy, Gordon!” into his ear.



CHAPTER IX

PAINFUL LESSONS


“Pass a fork, Dave.”

“Haven’t one; use your knife.”

“Can’t get pickles out with a knife, silly. Can’t you----”

“Here’s one,” said Wayne. “I was sitting on it. When will Paddy get
here?”

“Ought to be here now. Wish he’d hurry; I’m getting most powerful
hungry, as Old Virginia there says.”

“Will he be elected?” asked Wayne, as he struggled with the cover of a
biscuit tin.

“Sure to be,” answered Dave, who was arranging the spread on the study
table of No. 2 Hampton, now denuded of its customary litter of books,
paper, and rubbish. “And he’ll be here pretty quick; I told him we’d
wait until nine, and if he wasn’t here then we’d start in.”

“Thunder!” yelled Don, suddenly leaping up and dancing around the table.

“What?” cried the others, in a breath.

“Where’s the water? All the mustard in those pickles got on top and--”
He buried his face in the pitcher that Dave held out.

“Serves you right,” grinned Wayne. “Had no business tasting things.”

“I like your cheek,” said Don indignantly. “You’ve been sitting there
eating biscuits for five minutes. Look, Dave, he’s eaten the whole top
layer off!”

“Pig!” cried Dave, and rescued the tin, placing it on the table, where
it was flanked by sheets of writing paper in lieu of dishes holding
potted duck, mince tarts, a pineapple cheese, and preserved figs, the
latter overflowing in sticky streams on to the table top.

“What’ll we crack the nuts with, Dave?” asked Don.

“Nuts? Find one of Paddy’s football brogans in the closet. Crack ’em on
the hearth and stuff the shells in Paddy’s bed. Too late, though--he’s
coming, and he’s got some one with him. Let’s welcome ’em.”

Paddy and Greene entered amid a fusillade of walnuts and cork stoppers,
and by concerted action ran Dave into a closet and turned the key on
him.

“Are you It?” asked Don eagerly.

“I’m It,” replied Paddy, striking an attitude. “And Greene’s a back
number--aren’t you, Greeney? And I can pommel you all I want and not
lose my place on the team, can’t I?”

“_Hooray!_” It was the muffled tones of Dave from the closet.

“Shut up, you! Greene withdrew and so I got the captaincy. He could
have had it again if he’d wanted it.”

“Rot!” said Greene. “I was out of it, and I knew it. Besides, I didn’t
want it again. Three times is too much. I’m awfully glad it went to
Paddy. He’ll make a good captain, Cunningham; don’t you think so?”
Don’s reply was interrupted by the sound of breaking wood. Dave emerged
from the closet in a heap, and, picking himself up, seized Paddy and
forced him into a wild dance about the room.

“Hooray for Paddy--Captain Paddy!” he shouted. In the dance Paddy’s
nice white bandage came off and exposed a very black eye, which lent a
thoroughly desperate and disreputable look to the countenance of the
newly elected captain of the football team.

“By the way, Greene, do you know Gordon?” asked Paddy, as the boys
found seats about the table and without further ceremony began the
feast. Greene didn’t, and very graciously shook hands.

“You’re the fellow that got spunky to-day, aren’t you?” he asked
smilingly. Wayne nodded, looking bored.

“Wayne doesn’t like the subject,” said Dave. “It’s a matter of lasting
regret to him that he didn’t reach that chap Kirkwell.”

“Well, don’t worry, my boy,” said Paddy, as he filled his mouth with
cracker and jam. “I reached him once. I didn’t do it the way I should
have liked to, of course, because I was seeing double and having hard
work to keep my pins, but I fetched him a very decent little jab on
the neck. He got me four times before I gave up--hang him! Mind you,
fellows, I don’t believe in slugging, and I never did it before--that
is, since I have been on the team--but to-day I got tired of having him
bang me every time there was a mix-up, so I forgot myself.” And Paddy
grinned reminiscently and tried to wink his damaged eye at Wayne.

“Kirkwell’s a dirty player,” said Greene. “Pass some of that cheese,
will you?--He played last year, you know, and Jasper caught him
slugging once in the game with the Yates freshmen and put him off.
Jasper’s St. Eustace’s captain,” he explained to Wayne. “He’s an
awfully decent chap, too, and he promised me to-day that Kirkwell
shouldn’t play again if he could help it.”

“Dave, Wallace was up yesterday to ask about the hockey team--wants
you and me to join again. He’s got seven games arranged; one with St.
Eustace and one with a high school club at Troy, or somewhere. Want to
go in?” And Don poised a tart in front of his mouth and waited a reply.

“I guess so. You going to try, Paddy?”

“I might. There’s lots of time to decide. There’ll be no decent ice on
the river, I dare say, for a month yet.”

“I’m going to try for it,” continued Don. “We had lots of fun last
year. Can you skate, Wayne?”

Wayne hesitated and munched a sandwich.

“Yes, I can skate,” he said finally. “But----”

“Then you’d better report next Saturday in the gym,” said Don. “Greene,
are you trying for a scholarship this term?” Greene sighed.

“Trying? Oh, yes, I’m _trying_; but I haven’t the least idea of making
it. But I’m going to buckle down now and put in some hard licks at
grinding. I suppose you’re sure of one, aren’t you, you lucky beggar?”

“No, I’m not at all sure; but I may win a Master’s. Paddy’s the only
fellow here, I suppose, that’s certain of a scholarship.”

“Indade an’ I’m not certain at all at all,” said Paddy. “I’ve done well
with Latin and fairly well with Greek, but, whisper, English has me
floored. And old ‘Turkey’ has been putting the screws on me all term,
bad scran to him. But,” continued Paddy, with beautiful modesty, “me
deportment has been of the best.”

“Well, we’ll all know in a month; and there’s no good in worrying,”
said Dave. “Somebody have some more of everything.”

“I can ate no more,” answered Paddy sorrowfully. “It’s out of practice
I am altogether.”

“And I’ve had enough,” said Don.

“Same here,” echoed Greene. “I must be getting home. It’s ten o’clock,
and I’m dog tired. Good night, fellows; and better luck next year,
Paddy. Any one going my way?”

Wayne and Don arose, and the three said good night and picked their way
out through the darkened hall and across the dimly lighted green toward
their dormitories.

“By the way, Gordon,” said the ex-captain of the football team,
breaking the silence, “that was well meant to-day, you know--your
jumping on that St. Eustace fellow--and nobody blames you; but--well,
it isn’t just the thing, you see--we don’t do it at Hillton. You--you
see what I mean?”

“Yes,” answered Wayne gloomily. “I see what you mean, but I don’t
understand-- Never mind, though, I’ll remember next time.”

“Glad you take it that way,” said Greene. “It’s not my place to mention
it to you, only--being a chum of Cunningham’s--and your first term
here-- Well, good night, fellows.”

Wayne had almost fallen asleep, when he was aroused by a muffled
chuckle from the direction of Don’s bed.

“What’s up?” he asked sleepily.

“Nothing,” was the response. “I just remembered that I put the walnut
shells in Dave’s boots.”

When Wayne told Don that he could skate, he had not been quite truthful.

“He asked me, ‘Can you skate?’” reasoned Wayne; “not ‘Do you skate?’
And of course I _can_ if I try hard enough!”

But the argument didn’t quite satisfy him, and he set out to lend
veracity to it by purchasing a pair of half-clamp skates in the village
and seeking an unfrequented pond fully a mile from the school. About
Wayne’s home in Virginia skates were seldom seen and more seldom used.
But the boy had been ashamed to acknowledge his ignorance before the
others who did so many things well. He had been about to qualify his
assent by adding that he could not skate very well when Don interrupted
him.

To learn to skate without instruction is almost as difficult as
to learn to swim unaided, and Wayne’s troubles began on the first
afternoon that he eluded his friends and sneaked off through the
village. The pond was hidden from the road by willows, and he had
little fear of interruption. After a struggle of several moments he
at last managed to affix his skates--he put the left one on the right
shoe, and _vice versa_--and stepped on to the ice. The immediate
result was as surprising as it was disappointing, for his first step
resulted not in progress but in prostration, his head coming in violent
contact with the frozen earth at the margin of the ice. He arose with
a thumping headache, and after a moment of painful bewilderment turned
his steps homeward, with a vastly increased respect for the art of
skating and a heightened dislike for it as the result of his first
lesson.

But he was back again the next day. He found a friendly branch leaning
out over the ice, and with its aid experimented on his runners, making
numerous remarkable discoveries in the next ten minutes. He found that
it was necessary to place the rear foot at an angle while he advanced
the front one, and that as long as the center of gravity of his body
remained in advance of one foot he was in little danger of falling. But
as soon as the branch was discarded he sat down just where the ice was
hardest, and it took him a whole minute of the most careful management
to get his feet under him again; and when that was accomplished he
discovered to his dismay that he was sliding, as though propelled
by invisible force, toward the very middle of the pond, his skates
gradually parting company and his body held as though in the act of
sitting. The thing was so disconcerting that he was heartily glad when
he did take a seat, even though it was at a disheartening distance
from shore. He first considered crawling back to _terra firma_ on his
hands and knees, but that would seem too much like giving up; so he
again went through the remarkable contortions necessary to recover his
equilibrium, and finally reached the shore after a series of exciting
adventures, during which one skate became detached at the toe and his
breath forsook him entirely. Four more falls completed that day’s
lesson, and he went back to the school with his head buzzing like a
hive of bees and his body covered with bruises.

A thaw set in that night, and for the next few days he had to content
himself with studying the art from a volume of the Badminton Library.
The book wasn’t much of a help. It seemed as though the famous skater
who had written the chapter headed First Principles of Skating, and
Suggestions to Beginners, had been so overpowered by the magnitude
of his task that he had given up in despair before he had begun. The
few facts of practical value which he had mentioned Wayne had already
discovered by painful experience.

But two weeks before Christmas, and a week before the end of the fall
term, the ice on the ponds again froze to a respectable thickness, and
Wayne continued his self-instruction. Six excursions had been made to
the little pond, and the boy had attained to a degree of skill which
allowed of his circling the ice without falling, and he was fast
becoming both fond of the sport and proud of his ability. But pride
goes before a fall, especially in skating. One afternoon Wayne had
twice encompassed the pond, and was seriously considering an attempt at
skating backward, when one runner encountered a twig imbedded in the
surface, and he took a most undignified tumble. His wounded feelings
were in no measure relieved by the peals of boisterous laughter that
issued from across the pond, where, hidden by the willows, Paddy and
Dave had crouched, interested spectators of his disaster.

“Bully for Old Virginia!” bawled Paddy.

“I say, Wayne,” shouted Dave, “do that again, won’t you? I didn’t see
the first of it!”

And then, as Wayne strove to recover his feet and his dignity, their
gibes took a new turn, and Dave asked Paddy with elaborate politeness
what the young gentleman on the ice was doing; and Paddy assured him
that he wasn’t at all certain, but thought that the young gentleman
was looking for something he had dropped; whereupon Dave thanked Paddy
ceremoniously, and explained that he had supposed, judging from the
fact that the young gentleman wore skates, you know, that the latter
was skating; and Paddy assured him that he was mistaken, oh, quite
mistaken, and that the young gentleman had no idea of skating; and
Wayne floundered dejectedly up and sat down meekly on the bank, and
told them mournfully that he didn’t mind, only they might just cut out
a little of it!

When Don was gleefully informed of the affair by Paddy, he grinned
delightedly.

“That’s just like Wayne,” he exclaimed. “Pluckiest and obstinatest
chump in school.”



CHAPTER X

GRAY GOES INTO BUSINESS


The end of the fall term at Hillton is a busy time. The examinations
occur then, and the award of scholarships is made on the last day of
school. The less said about Wayne’s performance at the examinations the
better for any good opinion the reader may entertain of that youth. He
struggled through; let that suffice. The highest scholarship for the
upper middle class, the Goodwin, went to “Charles Fitzgerald Breen,
New York city,” and Paddy, blushing like a veritable junior, awkwardly
bowed his thanks and received a salvo of most flattering applause. Don
came in for the Carmichael scholarship, the next in importance, and
Wayne cheered loudly, until kicked into silence by his chum. Dave’s
name was not mentioned, but he declared cheerfully that Paddy’s success
was “glory enough for all,” and displayed neither disappointment nor
envy. Wayne, you may be sure, expected no honors, and so was not one
of the many youths who took their way out of the school hall in deep
dejection.

Wayne was to spend the winter vacation with Don at the latter’s home
in Boston; Paddy’s holidays were to be observed in New York; and Dave,
alone of the four, was to remain at school during the recess. Dave’s
only near relatives--for his father and mother were both dead--lived
in California, and a visit to them was out of the question. Both Don
and Paddy extended invitations, but Dave was shy of strange people
and houses and preferred to eat his Christmas dinner in the academy
dining hall; and so one bright and cold morning he said good-by to his
three friends at the station, waved a golf club cheerfully after the
receding train, and loitered back to Hampton House, whistling bravely
but feeling very lonesome.

The winter vacation lasted two weeks, and Don and Wayne enjoyed every
instant of it, and returned to Hillton when the new year was already a
week old, refreshed in body and mind, Don full of plans for the track
team and a victory for the crimson, and Wayne with his head crowded
with admirable resolutions regarding study. Acting upon the suggestion
of the principal, he had paid several visits to Professor Durkee, whose
rooms were on the first floor of Bradley Hall, and the result had been
most encouraging. The professor of English was a lean and wrinkled
little man, well past middle age, whose crabbed manner and stern
enforcement of discipline had gained for him the dislike of many pupils
and the sobriquet of “Turkey.” He was a hard taskmaster but a just
one, and many a boy could have told a tale of leniency and kindness
in which the little professor would have figured well. Wayne found him
goodness itself under his crusty exterior, and a most patient and lucid
instructor in the studies that bothered the boy most. And even after
Wayne no longer needed the professor’s assistance he continued his
occasional visits to the quiet study, and the two became firm friends.

Adhering to his resolves, Wayne spent more time at lessons, threatening
to become, according to Paddy, a regular “grind.” Paddy professed
to feel the wildest alarm over Wayne’s conduct, and suggested the
infirmary as a suitable residence for a while; but Wayne didn’t mind,
and before long even Don was forced to acknowledge that his roommate
was exhibiting a most commendable studiousness. Alone in the study one
afternoon, before a comfortable fire, and doggedly struggling with
Greek, Wayne was interrupted by the entrance of Carl Gray. Ever since
the latter had accepted Wayne’s loan he had punctually appeared each
week with the promised fifty-cent payment, and a certain intimacy had
sprung up between the two as a result of the visits. To-day he accepted
the chair that Wayne shoved forward and put his wet shoes up to the
blaze. But, contrary to custom, he did not at once bring forth his half
dollar, and his host thought he detected signs of embarrassment on the
younger boy’s countenance and in his manner. They talked for a few
minutes about school topics and the prospects for skating on the river.
Then Gray edged uncomfortably forward in his chair and cleared his
throat.

“‘Wheels’ told me, that day you were in the office, Gordon, that when
you have an explanation to make the best way is to go at it straight.”
He paused and seemed to be looking for inspiration in the glowing fire.

“Hang it, Gray,” exclaimed Wayne, “I don’t know what you’re driving
at; but if you’re trying to tell me that you haven’t--that it isn’t
convenient for you to pay that old money to-day--why, cut it out! I’ve
told you already that I don’t need it. How many more times do you want
me to tell you?”

“Well, that’s it,” responded Carl Gray, breathing easier and looking
grateful for the assistance. “But I’d like to explain about it. When I
promised to pay you fifty cents a week I wanted to do it and meant to,
and I still want to. I shan’t forget the--the kindness----”

“Cut it,” warned the other.

“Well, but I couldn’t know that--the fact is, Gordon, that I didn’t get
any allowance this week, and, what’s more, I don’t think I’ll get any
next week. My mother writes that she has had to spend a lot of money
on--on something she hadn’t foreseen. And she says she knows I won’t
mind very much, since I have probably got a little saved from what she
has sent before.” The boy paused and sighed. “I--I never told her, you
know.”

“Of course not,” said Wayne cheerfully. “But don’t bother about my
little old fifty cents, Gray. Tell your mother that you have gobs of
money--just rolling in it; and if you don’t mind taking a loan----”

“No,” cried Gray sharply. “I’m not going to borrow any more money. But
it’s awfully good of you--indeed it is. I don’t need any money--much;
at any rate, I’m not going to take any more from you. But I wanted to
tell you how it was, so that you’d understand that the reason I didn’t
pay you anything this week was because I didn’t have it.”

“All right. Only don’t bother about it. Are you lower middle fellows in
the Anabasis?”

“Yes, the first book. But there is something else I wanted to--to ask
you about, Gordon. You see you’re almost the only chap in the upper
classes that I know; in fact, I don’t know very many fellows, anyhow;
and I thought that if you could help me you would.”

“Of course I will,” answered Wayne heartily. “What is it?”

“I want to earn some money. Not for myself exactly, but I’d like to pay
you, and I’d like to send a little to my mother. I guess it would be a
lot easier for me to send her money than it is for her to send it to
me. I was hoping I’d get a master’s scholarship, Gordon, but I suppose
that affair of Porter’s bill spoiled that; it would have been awfully
nice.”

“Yes, it would. But how can you earn any money, Gray?”

“I’m not sure, but I think I might make a little in this way. Do you
play golf?” Wayne shook his head. “Well, fellows that do play have to
give about thirty cents for balls; they’re expensive little things, and
after they have been used a bit they’re likely to be dented and out of
shape. Then they need to be remolded. Of course, remolded balls are
never quite as good as new ones, but they’re all right for ordinary use
and good enough for lots of the fellows here.”

Wayne had jumped up and now returned to the fireside with a handful of
damaged golf balls, collected from various parts of the room.

“Are those the things?” he asked.

“Yes,” answered Gray. “I can remold those. I learned how last year.
A fellow I know has loaned me his press and I have everything else
necessary. I thought that perhaps you wouldn’t mind speaking to the
fellows you know, just telling them that I’ll remold their old balls
for ten cents apiece, and do it well. Then, if they had any for me I
could call and get them. Don’t you think that would be all right?”

“You bet,” said Wayne. “That’s a jolly good idea. I’ll get lots of
balls for you to fuss with. And you can take these along with you now.
Let’s see--two, four, six, nine of ’em in all. They’ll do to practice
on.”

“But, I say, Gordon, they’re not yours, are they?”

“Mine? Great Jupiter, no! What would I be doing with the silly things?
They’re Don Cunningham’s.”

“But will he want them remolded?” asked Gray doubtfully.

“Of course he will, when I explain it to him. Here, put ’em in your
pockets. And to-morrow, Gray, come around here about this time and I’ll
let you know what can be done. I think it’s a jolly good scheme, and
there are so many fellows here that play golf that we ought to be able
to find heaps of old balls. If we could get hold of, say, a hundred,
that would mean ten dollars, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes, only it wouldn’t be all profit, you know. Gutta percha costs
quite a bit and so does paint. But it would be a lot of money, just the
same; though if I could get fifty balls I’d be satisfied, Gordon.”

“Fifty? Pooh!” said Wayne. “We’ll get lots more than that. Just you
wait and see.”

“You’re very good to help me; it will be a bother, I know; and you are
so busy with your lessons, too.”

“Oh, I’ll find time between recitations, you know,” replied Wayne.
“Come up about this time to-morrow. So long.”

“Good-by,” answered Gray, “and--and thanks awfully, Gordon.” Wayne
scowled.

“Say, Gray, I wish you weren’t so full of ‘thank you’s.’ You just tire
me to death with them.” Gray smiled from the doorway.

“All right; I’ll try to remember. Good-by.” He closed the door behind
him, and Wayne turned back to his book. “I’ll bet Dave’s got a lot of
old golf balls,” he muttered as he found his place. “I’ll speak to him
to-night if I see him.”

But Dave didn’t turn up that evening, and the next afternoon, as soon
as the last recitation was over, Wayne took a pad of paper and a pencil
and started out to drum up trade. His first visit was to Hampton House,
where he discovered both Dave and Paddy writing fast and furiously at
the table, an atmosphere of excitement about them. Paddy stopped long
enough to explain what was up.

“We’re going to have a grand spectacular skating carnival on the river
next Wednesday. All the fellows are going in for it. Wallace and Greene
and I are the committee, and----”

“What committee?” asked Wayne.

“Oh, just a committee, you know, to get up the programme and arrange
for the prizes and all that. We’re going to have a lot of races,
handicap, novice, class, and a hurdle race. Say, will you enter the
novice?”

“I reckon so.--Are you going to try, Dave?”

“Yep,” answered Dave, looking up for a moment from his work. “I’m down
for everything.”

“But how do you know that there’ll be any ice by Wednesday, Paddy?”
asked Wayne. Paddy nodded gleefully toward the front window.

“Look at the thermometer, my lad; it was only twenty above a minute
ago, and it’s been going down steadily since noon. Oh, don’t you worry
about the ice. _That’s_ all right.”

“Well, just as you say, Paddy.--Dave, have you got any old golf balls?”

“Yep, somewhere. Why?”

“I want ’em.”

“Well, look about the place. There’s one or two in that mug over
there.” Wayne searched the mantel and what drawers he came across, and
soon had seven badly battered little globes before him. He shook his
head.

“Those aren’t nearly enough,” he muttered. He looked around and his
eyes lighted on Dave’s closet. The boys at the table were too busy to
heed him as he opened the door and brought out a box containing eight
brand-new Silvertowns. At the hearth he laid his find down and picked
up the fire shovel. Placing one of the immaculate white balls on the
hearth he proceeded to knock dents in it. It was hard work, but he at
last managed to disfigure six of the eight and was hammering at the
seventh when a glancing blow sent the little ball whizzing into the air
to the table where it landed with a bang under Dave’s nose.

“What in thunder?” he cried, staring at Wayne.

“Beg pardon, Dave,” said that youth, as he attacked the last ball with
the fire shovel.

“But what--what are you doing, you idiot?” shrieked Dave.

“Why, you see, I could only find seven old ones, Dave, and I had to
have lots more than that.” Then he explained about Carl Gray, and Paddy
forgot the skating carnival, for laughing at Dave’s dismay at sight of
his new balls. But the latter was soon won round to what Wayne called
a proper view of it, and consented to pay ten cents apiece to have the
fifteen balls remolded, and Wayne took himself off with his pockets
bulging out as though each had the toothache. In the next hour he paid
innumerable calls on his acquaintances--he was surprised to find how
many he had--and at five o’clock returned to Bradley with a list which
ran thus:

    Cooper, 25 Masters, 3.

    Benson, 36 Turner, doesn’t know how many.

    Moore, 30 Masters, 6.

    Duane, 8 Bradley, 2.

    Harrington, Goodrich’s house, lots of balls.

    Greene, 17 Warren, 10. Wants to know if you
        can mend a club; told him thought you could.
        Call at noon.

    Bradford, 4 Turner, 6. Call after chapel.

There were as many more entries on the list, and Gray was delighted and
full of gratitude to Wayne. When he saw some of the fifteen balls that
Wayne produced from his overcoat pockets he examined them curiously.

“These eight are awfully queer-looking balls,” he said. “Look as though
they’d been kicked about in a coal bin.”

“Oh, you can’t tell what Dave may have been doing with them,” Wayne
answered. “I dare say he’s been trying to burn them in the grate. But
don’t you care; take ’em along and fix ’em up, and if they’re harder to
do than the others, why, charge fifteen cents for them.”

“They won’t be,” said Gray, laughing. “There isn’t much wrong with
them, and a coat of paint will do for several. And I’ll take the list
around to-morrow and get the balls. I think I can fix that club of
Greene’s; perhaps I could find others to mend. Really, Gordon, I’m
awfully much ob----”

“Get out of here!” shrieked Wayne savagely. Gray got out, but in the
hall he stopped.

“O Gordon!” he shouted.

“What?”

“Thank you.”

Then he scuttled downstairs.



CHAPTER XI

THE MYSTERIOUS SKATER


The skating carnival received faculty indorsement in an odd way. Paddy
entered Academy Building one morning to find Professor Wheeler in front
of the bulletin board, on which the entry list for the races was posted.

“Good morning, Breen,” said the principal. “I see that you are going to
have a skating carnival.”

“Yes, sir,” answered Paddy.

“I used to skate once, Breen; I wonder now if I’ve forgotten how? I
believe I’d like to try it, anyway. Couldn’t you add a faculty race,
Breen? I’d enter--that is--” He paused doubtfully. “That is, you know,
if I can find another member of the faculty to race with. And I think
I can; yes, I’m certain of it,” he added smilingly. “Add the faculty
race, Breen, and I’ll promise you two contestants at least.”

“We’ll do it, sir,” answered Paddy eagerly.

“Very well; come to the office to-morrow and I’ll give you my fee.”
And the principal went off smiling broadly, and Paddy flew to report
the wonderful news to Wallace and the other members of the committee.
The next day Professor Wheeler paid his entrance fee, and a second
fee, which he explained was for another member of the faculty who had
consented to race.

“And who is he, sir?” asked Paddy.

“Ah! that is a secret at present, Breen. But there is his fee, and you
may enter him as X----, an unknown quantity. And he’ll be on hand next
Wednesday. By the way, what distance is this faculty race to be?”

“We thought a half mile would suit,” answered Paddy.

“A half mile? Tut, tut, my boy, we’re not so old and disabled as that.
Change it to a mile, Breen, if you please.”

There was a deal of speculation throughout the school as to the
identity of the second faculty member. It might be Tomkins, who was big
and strong enough to win a race on skates; or it might be Beck--most of
the boys thought it was--for he could skate well and frequently did.
Or--well, it might be any one of the thirteen instructors, barring
“Turkey,” of course, who was too old to skate and might blow to
pieces in a stiff breeze. The day of the racing carnival was awaited
impatiently.

Wayne meanwhile practiced almost every day on the lake or the river,
preferring the former because less frequented. Often Dave and Don
accompanied him, and the three took turns at holding Don’s stop-watch
while the others raced together over the mile or half-mile course.
The afternoon preceding the carnival was almost dark when the boys
took off their skates at the river’s edge and started up the steep
bank below the campus and a long half mile from the Academy. They were
going to cut across the fields to the village and leave their skates to
be reground for the morrow’s contests. But halfway up the ascent Dave
paused and drew the others’ attention to a figure across the river.
Wayne and Don stopped and followed the direction of Dave’s arm. Under
the shadow of a clump of trees across the bare sweep of purple ice they
could just make out the form of a person skating slowly, and, as it
appeared, stealthily up the river, holding as close as possible to the
gloom afforded by the fringe of bushes.

“Who is it, I wonder?” said Don.

“Probably one of the fellows who has been practicing down stream in the
hope of surprising us to-morrow?” suggested Dave. But Wayne shook his
head.

“It isn’t a boy, it’s a man; and he’s got a long muffler around his
neck. See, he’s stopped!”

“Where is he?” asked Dave. “I can’t see him now.”

“Look straight across to the thickest clump of bushes. He’s in the dark
there, and I believe he’s watching us. Looks as though he didn’t want
to be seen, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, it does.--I say, fellows, let’s go over and have a look at him.
What do you say?”

Don’s suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm, and the boys tumbled down
the bank again and proceeded to don their skates. The twilight had
deepened now, the river had become a broad path of gray between its
darker shores, and the figure beneath the trees was lost to sight.

“Is he still there, do you think?” asked Dave, as he struggled with his
clamps.

“Yes,” said Wayne, “I’ve watched. If he goes on he’ll come against that
light space of sky there and we can see him.”

Dave’s runners were fastened first and he started across the ice,
whispering to Don to hurry after, and in a moment was part of the
gloom. Don followed the next instant, and Wayne, still working with his
obdurate straps, was left alone. Then came a whistle and the sound of
ringing blades on the frozen surface. He slipped the last buckle into
place and followed up the river in pursuit of the skaters. Once he
heard a shout, but he could see nothing save the high bank beside him,
and, far up the ice, the twinkling lights of the school buildings. Once
he came a cropper over a protruding spit of graveled beach, but picked
himself up and was soon on his way again.

Suddenly the sound of skates ahead of him, and drawing nearer, brought
him to a pause.

“That you, Dave?” he shouted. “That you, Don?”

There was no reply; but a figure, black and formless, shot out of the
gloom ahead, swung about with a short sweep of grinding runners almost
under his nose, and again disappeared in the direction from which it
had come. Wayne gave a cry and started in pursuit. It was like playing
blindman’s bluff. Sometimes he thought he caught a glimpse of a darker
spot in the blackness ahead, but was not certain. His own skates
drowned the noise of those ahead. But the twinkling lights grew nearer
and nearer, and he gave a long shout of warning to Dave and Don, who
must, he thought, be waiting for him ahead. An answering shout from far
off sounded, and Wayne slid for a moment and strained his ears for the
sound of skates. He heard it, but judged that the unknown had gained on
him, and he strained every muscle to overtake him. As near as he could
tell he was now at a point almost in the middle of the river and about
opposite the boat house. The next moment he swept toward the latter,
for above the noise of his own skating he had detected the sound of
clumsy steps on the boat-house landing. And then, while he believed
himself still well out from the shore, his ankles encountered the edge
of the landing and he pitched, headforemost, halfway across it, and
sat up just in time to hear a chuckle in the darkness and the sound of
footfalls on the steps leading up the cliff to the path above. With
an exclamation of anger Wayne got up, stumbled across the planks, and
tried to climb the stairs. But his skates were sadly in the way, and
he soon gave up the effort and felt his way back to the edge of the
landing, where he sat and rubbed his bruised shins and shouted for the
others. Don arrived first, breathless and excited.

“I almost had him!” he panted, “but he doubled just off the point and
he’s gone back down the river. Where’s Dave?”

The two shouted loudly, and an answering hail came from near at hand.
The next instant Dave felt his way cautiously up and fell into Wayne’s
lap.

“Did you see anything of him?” he gasped. Don repeated what he had told
Wayne.

“Where did you say he turned? At the point under Academy Building?”

“Yes,” said Don.

“Why, you idiot, that was me!” Wayne laughed and Don returned, a trifle
crossly:

“Well, why didn’t you sing out, then?”

“Because I didn’t suppose you were chasing me. I thought you were just
following. I never caught sight of the fellow after he darted out of
the bushes and struck up the river. He was gone in a second.”

“Well, you won’t catch him,” said Wayne. “He’s got home by this time.”
And he recounted his adventures. Dave whistled.

“He was a bully skater, anyhow. I’ll bet it was Paddy!”

“Nonsense!” answered Don. “He wasn’t built like Paddy.”

“No, he wasn’t one of the fellows,” Wayne said. “He was a man, not
very tall, and he had a muffler wound round his neck. And--and the
funny thing about it is, that it seems as though I had seen him before
somewhere.”

“Well, let’s get these silly skates off and hurry up about it,” said
Don disgustedly. “It must be getting late, and I don’t want to have to
feed on crackers and sardines the way I had to the other night. And we
must get permission to take the skates to the village after supper.”

“Anyhow,” said Wayne, as he tugged at his straps, “I’m sure of one
thing; and that is, if I see that fellow to-morrow I’ll recognize him.”

“Same here,” responded Dave.

Wayne found a note from Carl Gray, together with Don’s remodeled golf
balls, on his table when he returned to his room after supper. Don
examined the balls with interest.

“Pretty good work, I call it, Wayne. They look about as good as new and
have a dandy coat of paint on ’em.”

Wayne read the note. “Friend Gordon,” it ran, “here are those balls
of Cunningham’s. Some of them are not done very well. They were the
first I tried, and didn’t mold so well as I’d like to have had them. I
wish you’d not let him pay for them, because they’re not very good and
you’ve helped me a lot.” (“Of course I’ll pay for them,” interrupted
Don.) “I’ve remolded over forty balls so far, and have nearly twice
that many to do yet. I thought you’d like to know how I was getting
on. I sent some money home to-day and am going to pay you Saturday. I
fixed Greene’s cleek, and I think it as good as new; and I have three
more clubs to mend. If business keeps on increasing I’ll have to open a
shop, I guess. Couldn’t find you, so write this instead. Yours, Gray.
P. S.--_Thank you._”

The last sentence was much underscored, and Wayne grinned as he threw
the note aside.

“Decent chap, that Gray,” he said.

“I can’t say as to that,” answered Don, “but I do know that he’s a good
hand at remodeling golf balls.”



CHAPTER XII

THE FACULTY RACE


When Paddy awoke the next morning his first act was to throw back the
blinds and look eagerly at the thermometer hanging outside the window.
It recorded fourteen above zero, and he gave a grunt of satisfaction
as he scurried to the fireplace, raked the embers together, and added
a fresh log. There was no likelihood of either snow or rain marring
the skating surface of the river, and the state of the thermometer
precluded a thaw. Paddy was in the best of spirits all the forenoon, as
he and Wallace and the other members of the committee scurried from the
school grounds to the village, and from the village to the scene of the
coming contest on the river.

The “skating carnival” had been proclaimed far and wide; its fame had
even reached the neighboring towns along the Hudson, and at two o’clock
the boat-house float and steps and the river bank, as well as the
frozen surface thereabouts, was thronged with townspeople from Hillton,
Euston Point, and other hamlets. Of course the academy turned out in
full force; the junior class attended in a body prepared to aid their
champions by every feat of lung and throat. A clear stretch of smooth
ice about ten yards from the shore had been roped off for the track
whereon the sprints and a hurdle race were to be contested, while a
series of red flags--borrowed from the golf club--marked the course of
the half-mile and mile events. There was an appearance of dignity and
importance about the scene that pleased Paddy mightily, and made him
carry his bright blue badge with great pride.

Dave, with his usual hopefulness, had entered for everything for which
he was eligible. Don was down for the hurdle race and a half-mile
event, and Wayne had entered for the mile race for novices. Paddy was
to take part in the class event and the mile. The afternoon was a
perfect one for the sport. The sun shone dimly at times, the breeze,
too light to interfere with speed, was nipping cold, and the ice was
in fine condition. Professor Beck had consented to act as referee, and
several of the other professors wore judges’ badges and tried earnestly
to understand their duties.

There were many entries for the half-mile handicap and a lower
middle-class fellow won it easily from scratch. In the mile race for
novices Wayne finished well up in the first crowd and was quite elated.
Both Paddy and Dave were entered in the mile event, and the former
won from a field of some twenty fellows by a generous ten yards. Dave
struggled along bravely and cheerfully, and seemed well satisfied with
sixth place. When the class race was called twelve boys stood on the
mark, three entries from each class, and the juniors gathered in a body
at the starting place and cheered their men and their class loudly and
tirelessly until the contestants sped away over the shining course,
their runners ringing musically on the frosty air. Dave was one of the
chosen three representing the seniors, Paddy held the hopes of the
upper middle class, and the lower middle banked on the fleet youth who
had previously won the half-mile handicap. The juniors placed implicit
faith in a small and wiry boy who looked scarcely over thirteen years
of age. The twelve kept well together for the first of the three laps
constituting the mile, but when the flags were reached the junior
champion sprang to the front, followed by the three senior class
fellows, and the balance strung themselves back along the course, Paddy
laboring manfully to hold himself in for the last half lap. As the
skaters sped by the point where Wayne and Don were watching, the former
recognized one of the lower middle-class entries as Carl Gray, and drew
Don’s attention to him.

“Gray?” said Don. “Oh, the fellow that comes to see you every week on
that mysterious business? Well, he skates well, doesn’t he? He ought to
finish pretty decently, I should think. Paddy’s just dying to ‘go up
head,’ isn’t he? And look at old David; wouldn’t you think he was an
ice wagon on runners? Poor old chap! I believe if somebody got up a
flying match he’d enter.”

“He ought to have known better than to have got in the lead so early in
the race,” said Wayne.

“Well, I guess he thought that if he didn’t get in front now he never
would,” laughed Don. “But he’ll not be there after this round.”

And he wasn’t. When the last spin over the course began, it seemed
as though Dave stood still, for the entire field of skaters, with
one exception, sped by him ere the remaining distance was one fourth
traversed. The single exception was the small junior who had forced
the skating and who was now too used up to keep his lead. A hundred
yards from the finish eight of the ten leaders were so closely bunched
as to render guessing the winner a difficult feat, and Wayne and Don,
shouting loudly for Paddy, didn’t know who had won until the judges
gave out the result a moment later: Breen, first; Gray, second;
Wallace, third. The upper middle had captured first place, the lower
middle second, and the seniors had to be content with the third prize.
Dave and the small junior fought stubbornly for precedence and the
latter won by a yard, and Dave was enthusiastically presented with a
piece of ice, in lieu of a booby prize, by a delegation headed by Don.

Meanwhile a flight of six hurdles, two and a half feet in height,
had been put in place, and Don and three other fellows--one of them
Greene--were on the mark. Hurdle racing on skates is a difficult
accomplishment, even when low hurdles are used, and success depends
not alone on speed. The contestant who has not undergone the hardest
practice over the bars and learned to take them in much the same manner
as does the hurdler who is running on cinders, might as well save his
breath, and possibly a hard fall. Of the four contestants entered Don
was acknowledged the best, since his long training at track hurdling
enabled him to perform on ice in beautiful style. Although not so
speedy a skater as Greene, he was a more perfect hurdler, and he was
looked upon as the winner. The jumps were placed thirty yards apart,
and the entire distance to be raced from starting line to finish was
two hundred and ten yards. At the report of the pistol the four started
well together. Conroy, a lower middle-class fellow, took the lead and
covered the twenty yards intervening between the line and the first
hurdle at fine speed, but only to come an inglorious cropper at the
first leap and to find himself utterly out of the race ere it was well
begun. Greene, and Jackson, the fourth man, took their hurdle side by
side, and were halfway to their second before Don was in the air. At
the third hurdle, however, Jackson was behind, and Don and Greene were
rising for the jump at the same moment. And now form over the obstacles
began to tell, for while Greene was able to cover every intervening
twenty yards at a faster pace than Don, the latter gained ground at
every hurdle, taking off at his full speed and in each case barely
topping the wood, while Greene perceptibly decreased his speed before
each leap and always jumped from three to six inches higher than was
necessary.

Cheers for the boys filled the air as they raced for the last hurdle,
Don a bare foot in advance of Greene, and Jackson just taking his fifth
jump. At the sixth hurdle Greene’s performance was even clumsier than
before, and Don’s skates clanged down on the ice at the very moment the
former was rising to the jump. But in another moment the two were again
almost side by side, for on the level Greene’s speed told, and it was
nip and tuck to the tape. But Don managed to hold the slight advantage
gained at the last hurdle and Greene accepted second place by the
narrowest sort of a margin.

“If you were as fast on skates as I am, or I was as crack a hurdler as
you are,” he told Don laughingly, “one of us would be a wonder.”

A half-mile straight-away race followed, but Don, who had entered for
this event, stayed out, being too winded to do himself justice, and
the race was won by the small junior, who had somehow found his speed
again. And then the event of the day was called, the great faculty
race, in which Professor Wheeler and a mysterious Unknown were to
compete over the mile course. Conjecture as to the identity of the
Unknown was still rife, and as Professor Wheeler, on a fine new pair of
full-clamp skates, advanced to the starting line, the throng watched
and waited impatiently for the other competitor. All the professors
were present, even “Turkey,” and not a few wore skates. It might be
any one of them. Professor Beck skated to the line, and a murmur of
“It’s Beck!” arose, only to be drowned by a second murmur of “No, it’s
Longworth!” as the junior instructor in mathematics also approached.

“Who is the other competitor, sir?” asked Wallace, who was to act as
starter. The principal looked toward the shore.

“He is coming now, Mr. Starter,” he answered smilingly. The throng
about the line followed his gaze and gasped in wondering amazement.
Skating toward them, and leaving a ripple of amused laughter in his
wake, his head covered with a fur cap whose lappets were drawn down
over his ears, with a long woolen muffler wrapped about his throat
and a pair of old-fashioned wooden skates strapped to his feet,
came--Professor Durkee!

A moment of silent surprise was broken by a laugh that quickly resolved
itself into a loud cheer. On the outskirts of the crowd, where they
could not be seen, impish juniors doubled themselves up with laughter.
More dignified seniors shouted hoarsely to keep from following the
example, and even Professor Beck smiled broadly at the odd figure of
the principal’s rival for honors. Whether Professor Durkee was aware
of the sentiments aroused by his appearance none can say; if he was he
carefully concealed the fact; and after a few explanations from the
referee the two professors stood on the mark, silence fell, the pistol
banged, and the great faculty race was on!

Professor Wheeler sped away up river at a pace that soon dropped the
English instructor yards behind. But fellows who knew the length of a
mile on ice shook their heads and predicted that the pace was too good
to last. Perhaps Professor Durkee thought so too, for he made no effort
to win the side of the flying principal, but skated serenely on, his
coat tails and the ends of his knitted gray muffler flying in the wind.

“Isn’t he a sight?” asked Don, with a grin.

“Oh, he’s something to dream of,” giggled Paddy. “But he can skate, can
old ‘Turkey’! He has a style like--like--a scarecrow.”

At that moment Dave flew frantically up.

“What do you think?” he gasped. “It was ‘Turkey’----”

But the words were taken out of his mouth by Wayne, who slid out of the
crowd and embraced Paddy to keep from falling.

“Say, fellows, it was Professor Durkee that we saw on the river last
night.”

“And chased!” supplemented Dave.

“Get out!” cried Don. “Who said so? How do you know?”

“Recognized him!” answered Wayne. “Knew him as soon as I set eyes
on him. I told you last night that it was a man, and that he wore a
muffler thing around his neck. Remember?”

“And I know too,” said Dave. “He looked just as he does now when I saw
him.”

“Well, the desavin critter!” exclaimed Paddy.

“I’ll just bet it was him!” said Don. “He had been practicing and
didn’t want us to see him.”

“Yes; and I’ll bet he’ll beat ‘Wheels’ all hollow!”

The boys crowded their way to a place by the course. Far up the ice the
flying figures were making the turn and heading back to the starting
point. It was difficult to discern which was ahead, but presently as
they drew nearer Professor Wheeler was seen to have maintained his lead
of about twenty yards. Cheers, loud and prolonged, greeted the skaters
as they made the turn and commenced the second round.

“Go it, ‘Turkey’!” yelled the throng, all forgetful of respect in the
excitement of the moment.

“Bully for ‘Wheels’!” cried others, and only ceased when Professor Beck
was seen smiling broadly at Professor Longworth. Up the river once
more sped the racers, the ludicrous figure of the English professor
maintaining its position behind the principal and never gaining or
losing. The latter was slackening speed a little now, and many fellows
were remarking, “I told you so!” in superior tones. But Professor
Durkee refused to take advantage of the other’s lagging, and as they
turned at the flag and headed back, the watchers saw that the relative
positions were still the same. Down toward the starting point they came
again, and again cheers welcomed them. Professor Wheeler had plainly
overtaxed himself in the first lap and was now trying to recuperate.
He was a very graceful skater, using a long strike and handling his
feet easily and well. Professor Durkee, on the other hand, possessed no
style, kept his body quite rigid, and took rapid, short strokes. And
what, with his flying coat tails and muffler and his wildly swinging
arms with a red mitten at the extremity of each, he was in truth a
strange and humorous spectacle.

Around the flag they went, the principal still holding his lead of
twenty yards, but looking a bit worried, and the English professor,
his queer old face solemn and inscrutable under the fur cap, seemingly
content to let the other keep the advantage. It was the last lap now,
and as the two drew away upstream champions of each grew loud and
excited in their claims.

“Why, ‘Wheels’ can leave him at the flag if he wants to!”

“Course he can. He’s just letting ‘Turkey’ down easy.”

“Oh, can he? Well, just you wait and see! Why, ‘Wheels’ is done for
already; he’s plumb beat!”

And so on, while the contestants reached the farther end of the course
and made the turn. And now the spectators thronged the ropes that
guarded the finish, cheering excitedly. Down the ice sped the skaters;
a quarter of the remaining distance was traversed when a shout arose.

“Durkee’s closing up!”

And so he was. His feet were moving so fast over the frozen surface
that they were just a blur to the sight, his coat tails were flapping
gloriously, and he was closing up the gap! But the principal was yet
game, and with a hundred yards or so still to cover and with Professor
Durkee close behind him he spurted again to the front and had put
several more yards between him and his rival ere the latter was aware
of it. And then--well, then the red mittens moved so fast hither and
thither that they looked like a streak of fire, the muffler ends stood
out straight in the wind, the coat tails followed suit, the wooden
skates bit and clanged on the ice, the little professor became a small
cyclone, and the watchers held their breaths, too astonished to even
cheer.

Now the coat tails were even with the principal, now they had passed
him and were flapping derisively in his face, and now they were far
beyond reach. And then amid the delighted acclaim of hundreds “Turkey”
crossed the line like a specially constructed whirlwind and won the
faculty race by a dozen long yards!



CHAPTER XIII

IN TRAINING


    “Candidates for the track team report to Professor Beck, at
    the gymnasium, at 3.45 P. M., Saturday, February 12th.

                                “DONALD CUNNINGHAM, _Captain_.”

This notice was posted on the bulletin board in Academy Building one
morning, and fellows on their way to recitations read it and became
suddenly aware that, from an athletic standpoint at least, spring had
begun. From that same standpoint winter is a short-lived season in
Hillton--a mere ten weeks between the last football game and the call
for track team candidates; a brief space in which the hockey players
pose as heroes, the Hillton and St. Eustace chess clubs prepare for
and hold their annual contest, the debating club membership grows, the
school librarian is for once busy all day long, and the juniors conduct
mimic battles and sieges on the green, their citadels and ammunition
both constructed of snow. And then some morning while the mercury still
lingers affectionately about the zero mark a little square of paper
appears on the bulletin board, and, officially at least, the vernal
season is ushered in.

This year, as usual, with the appearance of the call for track team
candidates a veritable epidemic of athletic enthusiasm swept over the
Academy. The crew candidates, who for weeks past had been quietly
exercising with chest weights and dumb-bells and running around the
track without occasioning any particular notice, now went to work on
the rowing machines and were daily viewed by a throng of their fellows.
The baseball players congregated in the cage and pitched and batted and
slid about on the canvas to an accompaniment of low-voiced criticism
from chaps who pressed their noses through the wire meshes for a
half-hour at a time. Golfers polished up their clubs, bought brand new
books on the sport, and were to be found practicing putting in the
dormitory halls. A few lads flocked together in warm studies and talked
of wickets and overs and bowls, and tried hard to convince themselves
and each other that they were enthusiastic cricketers. And all the
while the ice on the river was thick and hard, the wind swept across
the green in wintry gusts, and the snow was piled high on either side
of the walks.

But if the green and the campus and the frozen paths were deserted,
the gymnasium, especially after two o’clock in the afternoon, was a
busy scene. Of the fifty-odd boys who reported for the track team,
forty-two were put to training. With most of them the new work was
disappointingly similar to that gone through with all winter. The chest
weights banged up and down, the rings swung about under the high roof,
the ladders creaked and bent between their braces, and the dumb-bells
and Indian clubs swung faster than ever. But many of the candidates
were put to work on the wooden track in the hour when twilight filled
the gymnasium with strange and grotesque shadows, and now and then some
candidate for honors with the sixteen-pound shot was allowed to toss
a leather-covered sphere about the place, to the imminent danger of
everybody’s toes.

Professor Beck, from a quiet, even-voiced, little gentleman, suddenly
became a commanding figure, who was here, there, and everywhere, and
whose least word was like a trumpet sound. Boys who were not candidates
for the track team or the baseball team or the crew or something--and
there appeared to be few of them in those days--were not admitted to
the floor of the gymnasium after a certain hour in the afternoon, and
so congregated at the little walled-off inclosure by the entrance and
scoffed or praised, envied or admired, to their heart’s content and to
the despair of the performers.

One afternoon, a few days subsequent to the beginning of the track
candidates’ training, the gymnasium was more than usually full and
noisy. The crew was hard at work in the rowing room, a half dozen
fellows were trotting about the track, and the boys under Don were
putting in a preliminary ten minutes at the weights. Taken as a whole
they were a fine-looking lot, though to the uninitiated many would
have appeared too slight in build for athletic success. These were
the sprinters and hurdlers and those of the new candidates who were
desirous of becoming such. They showed speed rather than strength
and were in some cases slender to a degree. It was not difficult
to distinguish the new candidates from the experienced, even when
they were in gymnasium attire; the matter of chest development alone
afforded unmistakable proof. In the same way the jumpers and pole
vaulters could be picked out. A greater development of the chest
muscles was noticeable, resultant on the short, sharp effort required
in their work. Of the several boys present who had been members of the
last year’s team as long-distance runners, three at least indicated
their specialty by their build. Their chests were quite as highly
developed as those of the jumpers, but the development was more
general; their tasks required staying power as well as strength of
lung. Of the performers with the heavy weights, Dave Merton was a fair
example. Both the twelve-pound hammer and the shot belong of right to
athletes who have weight in their favor, since it is only by putting
their weight into the effort that success with hammer or shot may be
hoped for. The exercise brings into play the muscles of the back and
loins, widens the body across the shoulders, and gives plenty of room
to the heart and lungs. To a less extent the legs are benefited and the
entire muscular system gains in elasticity.

Professor Beck emerged from the rowing room and cast his gaze over the
gymnasium floor, letting his eyes rest first on one and then another of
the exercisers at the weights.

“That will do at the weights, boys,” he announced presently. He
referred to a book which he took from his pocket. “Morris and Graham
and Gordon, to the running track and do a half mile; and by the way,
Graham, don’t labor under the impression that you’re trying to catch a
train; take your pace from Morris. You too, Gordon; you run too fast.
Jumpers and sprinters had better get in some work with the dumb-bells.
I’ll have a look at you presently. The rest of you know your work, I
think.”

He turned to Don, and the two discussed the candidates for some time,
while Wayne joined the men on the track and proceeded to put twelve
laps behind him at a moderate pace. Wayne’s presence among the track
team candidates requires some explanation. Continued study with but
little outdoor recreation had begun to create a listlessness that had
surprised and worried him. Don, when consulted, explained the matter in
very few words.

“You’ve been cooped up indoors and have had no exercise; what can you
expect? Staying indoors makes a chap’s brain sluggish. The sooner you
take up some exercise that’ll interest you, the sooner you’ll be able
to study well again.”

“But what is there to do?” asked Wayne.

“Why, report on Saturday and try for the track team. You half promised,
anyhow, you know.”

“More dumb-bells?” growled Wayne.

“At first, yes. But when we get outdoors you’ll be glad that you went
in for the team. You’ll like it after the first week, Wayne. Besides,
as a favor to me, you know!”

“Oh, well, I just as leave. I don’t mind those chest weights any more.
And I dare say it’ll give me something to do in spring. And I reckon it
_would_ make my lessons come easier.”

So the name of Wayne Gordon was entered in the list of candidates
for the track team, and he underwent an examination which appeared
satisfactory to Professor Beck and began training. He was already
enjoying the work. There was a definite object ahead to lend
encouragement at the most trying moments, and even the dumb-bells
were not so monotonous as formerly. Gymnasium work had already made
a perceptible change in the lad. He had got rid of not a little
superfluous flesh since the cross-country race, and his muscles were
firmer, his complexion was clearer, and he felt better. He even
acknowledged this, somewhat grudgingly, to Don.

“They’re pretty good things--chest weights and dumb-bells and single
sticks--after you get used to ’em,” he said.

To-day was his second appearance on the running track. He had
discovered the day before, greatly to his surprise, that he was not
expected to race around the building as fast as his legs would carry
him, but that a jog trot was what pleased Professor Beck best.

“I don’t want you to make any records up there, Gordon,” the professor
had informed him. “If you’re to make a success at long-distance
running you must get off some of that fat, breathe properly, and learn
endurance. Just put your head back, take long breaths, and jog around
at an even gait. Never mind style; we’ll take that up later.”

So Wayne jogged. He rather liked it to-day. There was something
soothing in the pat-pat of the runners’ shoes on the floor. His breath
came easily, and as he went around he could look down occasionally
upon the heads of the fellows below: at Dave who was going through the
most extraordinary antics with a leather-covered shot (Dave always had
recourse to the shot when he could not lay hold of a hammer); at Don
and Professor Beck, the former emphasizing his words by digging the
toe of his gymnasium shoe into the mattress in front of the vaulting
standard; at a string of fellows at the far side of the building and
under the track who were exercising with the wooden dumb-bells; at the
little group of idle boys at the doorway; and as he made the turns he
could glance through the high and broad windows and catch glimpses of
the frozen river and far-stretching snow-covered marshes.

Presently Professor Beck and Don parted company, the latter joining the
squad at dumb-bell exercise and the former fixing the standard for the
pole vaulters, two of whom were soon at work taking low flights. There
was something very attractive about the way in which the two white-clad
and lithe-bodied youngsters gripped the long poles and rose gracefully
into the air to drop noiselessly to the mattress beyond the crossbar,
and Wayne became so interested in the performance that he forgot to run
and had to be recalled to a recollection of his duty by Morris, who
gave him a playful kick as he jogged by.

But the half mile was soon finished, and Wayne left the track,
descended the stairs, and sought the director, who was busy instructing
Dave and two others in the matter of holding the shot. After a moment
he turned to Wayne.

“How do you feel, Gordon?”

“Fine, sir.”

“Think you could run another half-mile?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Good; but don’t try it. I guess you’ve done enough for to-day. Take
a tepid shower now and rub yourself down well with your hands before
drying. And, by the way, let me tell you what I mean by a shower. I
don’t mean that you must turn on the water and stand under it until
your teeth chatter; but get under it and get out again--slip through
it, as it were. Remember that as long as you’re in training, Gordon.
Too much bathing is worse than none for weakening you. I don’t mind
telling you that we are going to have need of just such a runner as I
hope you will turn out to be. You’ve got a little work ahead of you,
and there are certain regulations which may seem a trifle irksome at
first; but I hope you’ll persevere; you’ve got a good incentive to
train hard and conscientiously. And when you get tired or out of sorts,
why, take a rest. You can’t rest too much when you’re training; only
make sure that you are resting and not loafing. Both Cunningham and I
expect a good deal from you, Gordon; hope you won’t disappoint us.”

“I’ll try not to, sir, although I haven’t much faith in myself as an
athlete, you know.”

“That’ll come after you’ve done something; of course it’s all new to
you yet, and there’s a good bit to learn, but I’m sure you’ll make a
go of it. And you’ll like it better when you can get out of doors.
Meanwhile don’t overeat, get a good nine hours of sleep, and don’t let
yourself get tired. And if you want to ask any questions you’ll find me
here, you know.”

Wayne thanked him and disappeared in the direction of the bathroom.
Professor Beck looked after him thoughtfully.

“A good back for running, and endurance written all over him; and
obstinacy, too. It may be,” he mused, “that we can make use of that
obstinacy for a good purpose. But I hope he doesn’t shy at something or
get balky.”



CHAPTER XIV

BENSON MAKES A FIND


“Thought you’d like to know,” explained Dave, as he mechanically
formed a snowball and threw it with precision at the head of a passing
acquaintance.

“I’m glad you told me,” replied Wayne, frowning intently at the icy
path they were traversing on the way from chapel to breakfast. “I think
it’s a mean thing to do--tell the fellows about it when he hasn’t any
proof against Gray.”

“Yes, I told him I thought he was making an ass of himself,” concurred
Dave. “Benson isn’t a bad sort, you know, and I guess he really thinks
that Gray took the money; and of course, if he thinks that----”

“But he has no business telling it about school,” declared Wayne hotly.

“No, he hasn’t. And I don’t believe that Gray took the old bill. He
doesn’t seem that sort, you see. Any fellow that can fix up second-hand
golf balls to look like new doesn’t steal. Why, Gray remolded those
brand new balls of mine so that they are almost as good as they were
before you lammed them with the fire shovel!”

“Of course, Gray isn’t a thief!” said Wayne. “I suppose the fact of the
matter is that Benson just mislaid the money somewhere and can’t find
it. But he has no right to say that Gray stole it. And I’m going to see
him and tell him so.”

“Good boy! Hope we don’t have hominy this morning.”

Wayne found Benson in his room in Turner at noon. Benson was a jovial,
good-natured chap whom Wayne knew but slightly. He was in the senior
class, though he had occupied four years in getting there, and was
somewhat of a leader among a coterie of idlers whose aim was to have as
good a time as they could and to pass the examinations by as narrow a
margin as was possible. But there was nothing vicious about Benson, and
Wayne had always liked him as much as their slight friendship warranted.

“Say, Benson,” Wayne began, as he took a seat on the edge of the study
table, “what’s this about your losing some money and suspecting Carl
Gray of taking it?”

“Why, nothing to make a fuss about,” answered Benson. “It’s this way.
You know you came and asked me if I had any golf balls that needed
fixing up, and I said I had. And the next day this fellow Gray came and
got them. And then a couple of weeks later he turned up one day when
I was sitting here and brought them back. I’d just got a letter from
my aunt, and the old lady had inclosed a two-dollar bill. That’s a way
she has, bless her! The bill was laying on the table near you there. I
was reading a library book--Ploetz’s Epitome of Universal History, it
was--and so when Gray came in I just told him to lay the balls on the
table and said I’d pay him the next day; I owed him sixty cents, and
didn’t have any change. Gray said all right and he hoped I’d like the
balls, and went out. Then afterward I looked for the bill and it wasn’t
there. Maybe he didn’t take it,” concluded Benson good-naturedly, “but
it wasn’t to be found, and so I naturally suspected him.”

“But Carl Gray isn’t a thief, confound you, Benson!”

“Well, I dare say he didn’t take it. It doesn’t matter. But you said
yourself that he was awfully hard up for money, you know, Gordon; and
I thought that perhaps he saw the bill and concluded he needed it more
than I did.”

“Well, if you really think that Gray took the money I’ll pay it back to
you myself. Only you’ve got to keep your mouth shut, Benson, and not go
telling it all around school. Why, hang it, it’s a shame to say such a
thing about a fellow unless you can prove it!”

“But I haven’t been telling it all around school,” said Benson
indignantly. “I haven’t told a soul except Dick Barrow.”

“Well, Barrow’s told everybody else, I reckon. I learned it from Dave
Merton this morning. You ought to know that if you tell a thing like
that it’s sure to get around.”

“Well, I’m sorry, Gordon. I didn’t mean to be nasty about it. Besides,
I don’t care about the two dollars. The dear old lady has sent another
two since then--this very morning, in fact. I’ll tell the fellows that
it’s all a lie; Barrow’s an awful liar anyhow, you know.”

“I think you’d ought to hunt for the money,” responded Wayne.

“Hunt? I have hunted, Gordon. I hunted all through the room the day it
disappeared.”

“Well, I know that Gray didn’t steal it. But I’m going to pay it back
to you.”

“No, you’re not, Gordon. I don’t want your money. If Gray didn’t take
it you’ve no business paying it to me; and if he did take it, I don’t
see where you come in. Hang it, I said I didn’t want the money. What’s
the good of fussing about it?”

“Lots of good,” replied Wayne angrily. “You’ve spread a report that
Carl Gray stole the money from you. You’d no business doing that, and
you know it. I’m going to pay the two dollars to you so that you’ll
shut up.”

“I’ve told you that I didn’t spread any report; I only told one fellow.
And I had a right to tell him if I wanted to.”

“Why haven’t you accused Gray to his face?”

“I will if you send him up.”

“No, you won’t, either. You’ve done enough harm already with your old
two-dollar bill. If you’re halfways decent you’ll try and stop the
story from getting around any more.”

“I like your cheek, Gordon,” answered Benson, slamming a book down on
the table. “If I’ve made a mistake in mentioning the thing to Barrow
I’m sorry, and I’ll deny the story whenever I hear it; I can’t do any
more than that, can I?”

“But what did you do it for?” insisted Wayne.

“Why, I’ve explained it, haven’t I? What’s the good of talking about it
any more? If the money was stolen, it’s stolen, and----”

“It wasn’t stolen, and you know it, Benson.”

“I don’t know anything of the sort,” responded Benson, losing his
temper. “I only know that you tell me Gray isn’t a thief; maybe he
isn’t. But the money was there when he came in and it was gone when he
went out; and he wanted money. If you’ve got anything else to say, say
it to Gray.”

“You’re a coward, Benson, to make such a charge when you can’t----”

“Well, on my word! Say, you’d better get out of here, or----”

“Or what?” asked Wayne defiantly.

Benson restrained himself with an effort and walked to the window.

“If you don’t I will, and you can talk to the table.”

Wayne bit his lip, scowled at the motionless back of the other boy, and
slid to the floor. At the door he hesitated with his hand on the knob.
Then he returned to the middle of the study.

“I say, Benson, I’ll take that back, you know--what I just said. I
reckon I’ve been acting like a cad ever since I came in; but you see
Gray’s a friend of mine, and----”

“Oh, that’s all right; no harm done. Of course you’d feel mad about
it; I dare say I would in your place. Sorry I ever opened my mouth
on the subject.” Benson turned back toward the table and smiled
good-humoredly. “If you hear the yarn again you might deny it for me.
Will you? Just say I was lying, you know.”

“Perhaps you’ll find the money some time,” suggested Wayne.

“Eh? Find the money? Oh, of course I might. Still--” Benson paused and
stared at Wayne. Then his face lighted up. “By Jove, Gordon, that’s a
good idea! I’ll find it this evening!”

“Yes; it might have fallen into a drawer or somewhere like that, you
know.”

“Of course it might. I--I dare say it fell back of the drawer. Perhaps
it’s there now, Gordon.”

“Perhaps it is.”

Very seriously Benson, fumbling in his vest pocket, advanced to the
table and pulled out the left-hand drawer. Then he thrust his hand into
the aperture.

“Feel anything?” asked Wayne.

“Yes, I think I’ve got it.” He withdrew his hand and held up a
two-dollar bill. “Isn’t that luck?”

“Yes indeed,” replied Wayne unsmilingly. “And I’m awfully glad you
found it. I’ll tell Merton, and get him to tell the others.”

“I wish you would. And I’ll tell Barrow right away. I suppose I put it
into the drawer and forgot about it, and then it got pushed out at the
back. I should think that was the way it happened, eh?”

“Must be,” answered Wayne. “Well, I’ll get out now. Awfully much
obliged to you, Benson, for--for hunting it. And I hope you’ll forget
anything I said that wasn’t----”

“That’s all right, Gordon; forget it yourself. Glad you came in.”

Wayne hurried away to his room for a book, and on the way he pondered
over Benson’s story. Of course, Benson might have been mistaken, but
Wayne couldn’t blame him in his heart for suspecting Gray, under the
circumstances. Had Gray really taken the money? He _was_ hard up at the
time, undoubtedly; and perhaps the temptation had been too great for
him. On the other hand, Carl Gray didn’t look like a fellow that would
give way to temptation so easily, and he had kept every promise made
to him. No, Gray hadn’t taken the money, Wayne concluded, and he hoped
that the story would not reach his ears.

But it had. Gray was sitting in Wayne’s easy-chair talking to Don when
Wayne reached the study, and after the latter had found his chemistry
notebook Gray accompanied him across the yard. He broached the subject
at once. He had heard the report in a roundabout way, and scarcely knew
whether to credit it or not.

“I’m very sure, Gordon,” the boy declared, “that there wasn’t any money
near me when I was in his room that time. I laid the golf balls on the
table; I should have noticed a bill if it had been in sight. I didn’t
take the money, Gordon, honestly! Won’t you go with me to see Benson?
You could tell him that--that--well, you know me a little. Why, if the
faculty hears of it----”

“Shut up!” cried Wayne, who for several minutes had been trying
to interrupt the flow of the other’s nervous explanations and
protestations. “The money wasn’t stolen. It’s been found. Benson found
it himself. It had fallen out back of the table drawer. I was there
when he found it.”

“Really?” cried Gray. “I--I’m awfully glad!”

“Benson didn’t mean the story to get out. You see, Gray, he thought
he had left the money on the table, and when he went to look for it
after you’d gone he couldn’t find it. He hunted everywhere--as he
thought--and--and it didn’t turn up. And then he--he suspected you. I
told him he was mistaken, and so we hunted some more, and he found it
in the table, you know. I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t believe
many fellows heard it. And he’s going to tell all of them that the
money is found, and so am I. He’s very sorry about it.”

“Well, I don’t suppose he was to blame. Of course, he--he didn’t know
me very well. It was good of you to see him, awfully good. Why, perhaps
if you hadn’t gone there he wouldn’t have found it.”

“Oh, yes, he would have, some time. But I’m glad I went. Well, here’s
where I do stunts with chemistry.”

“You’re--you’re quite sure it was found, Gordon?” asked Gray as Wayne
ran up the steps. “You’re not just saying that to make me feel better?”

“Of course it was found,” cried Wayne. “Didn’t I tell you that I saw
Benson find it, you chump?” Gray turned away, apparently not quite
convinced, and Wayne went on into the hall.

“My!” he muttered with a grin, “I’m getting to be an awful liar!”
He frowned over some obtruding thought. Then he pushed open the
recitation-room door with a violence that won him a scowl of annoyance
from the professor.

“Nonsense!” he told himself, as he took his seat and opened his book;
“Gray _didn’t_ take it!”



CHAPTER XV

WAYNE RAISES A FLAG


March came in like a lion that spring and roared and raved over the
river and about the dormitories and made life out of doors a hardship
that few cared to brave. Ere it was a week old it had piled the ice
in walls along the river banks, swept the green bare of snow, and
snapped the tall flag post in front of Academy Building. Wayne and Don
hugged the fireplace when not at recitations or in the gymnasium, and
got a lot of studying done. Wayne’s ability to learn his lessons had
increased of late, and he was ready to give credit to Professor Beck
and the steady training he was undergoing. Physical exercise clears the
brain, and Wayne discovered an improvement before he had been at work
with the track squad for two weeks. He even began to speak tentatively
of trying for a scholarship, and Don grinned and cunningly encouraged
him by saying:

“Oh, well, you can try, of course. But I don’t believe you can make it.
You won’t stick to it long enough; you’ll get tired of studying after a
while.”

An assertion which Wayne indignantly denied.

“Just you wait and see! You needn’t think you and Paddy are the only
fellows in school who can get scholarships!”

Gymnasium work was much the same as it had been since Don and Wayne
went into training; there was always the chest weights and the
dumb-bells, and Wayne knew every splinter and crack in the running
track by this time. But he had dropped two or three pounds of weight,
and felt better for it; he had made the acquaintance of a number of the
candidates who were the sort of chaps that it was well to know; he had
secured a new interest in school life, and he was able to talk more or
less intelligently with Don upon subjects that occupied full half of
that youth’s thought--namely, the approaching spring handicap meet and
the more distant interscholastic contest. Don had thrown himself heart
and soul into the task of turning out a winning track team, and, being
a youth who was willing and eager to back his mental efforts with the
hardest sort of physical labor, he was in a fair way to succeed. For
two weeks past he had been in correspondence with a number of Hillton
graduates, and now he was able to announce that he had secured promises
of active assistance from almost all of them, and that the track men
would not want for coaching.

“Barret is coming in April,” he told Wayne one day. “He was a star
hurdler at college a couple of years ago. Then Kenyon, who holds the
intercollegiate two-hundred-and-twenty-yard record, and Burns, who
won the one hundred yards last spring, are both coming to coach the
sprinters. Remsen, the old football coach, is coming, and I think he’ll
be willing to teach Dave and Hardy and Kendall a few tricks with the
weights. We need a middle-distance man and some one who knows something
about pole vaulting. Johnstone may come; he’s half promised. As for you
and Chase and Treadway and the rest, why, Beck will look after you;
he’s a dandy coach for the distances; he used to be a fine runner in
the mile, and held the intercollegiate championship for a couple of
seasons. We’ll be well fixed for coaches this spring.”

“Seems to me with all those men to help,” said Wayne, “we can’t help
winning.”

“It doesn’t follow. You see, St. Eustace and the other schools will
have just as many good grads coaching them. St. Eustace generally has a
whole army of them. That’s one bully thing about that school: you never
hear of it begging for aid of any sort from the alumni; the alumni’s
always on hand and waiting to help. Of course, I don’t mean that
Hillton graduates aren’t like that, only--well, sometimes they seem a
bit backward in coming forward.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Wayne; “perhaps if the truth was known we’d find
that St. Eustace captains have just as much trouble getting the old
fellows to go there and coach as you have had. I know from what Dave
told me once that Hillton fellows always help the school all they know
how.”

“Good for you!” answered Don, with a grin. “’Rah for Hillton!”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing much; only that you are coming on. I think I can detect
symptoms of patriotism, Wayne.”

“Pshaw! Of course a fellow always stands up for his school; he’d be
mighty poor trash if he didn’t.”

“Glad to hear you say so,” responded Don dryly. “You didn’t seem to be
impressed with that fact when you first arrived in our midst with your
two trunks and an air of supreme importance.”

“Oh, shut up!” growled Wayne. Don smiled silently, as though at an
amusing thought, and Wayne observed him with rather an embarrassed
expression. Finally he broke the silence.

“Stop grinning there like a chloroformed catfish, Don! I suppose I was
rather a silly ass when I got here. But, you see, I hadn’t been away
from our little old village very much and didn’t know a great deal
about boarding schools.” He paused and looked reminiscently into the
flames. “You and Dave and Paddy were awfully nice to me. I must have
seemed a powerful sulky brute!”

“Well, you were a bit exasperating at first with your high and mighty
views of the school and the fellows and the way in which we conducted
things here at Hillton. But we all kind of took to you the first day;
perhaps that was the reason. I’ll never forget the afternoon you walked
in here, plumped your valise down, and asked why the nigger hadn’t
lighted the fire!”

“But it was chilly,” objected Wayne.

“And when I explained very respectfully that you would be obliged to
share the study with me, you looked me over very condescendingly and
remarked: ‘Well, I reckon it’s the rule; but seems to me they might
have told me that.’”

“Did I say that?” asked Wayne meekly.

“Every word. And I don’t mind acknowledging now that I was sorely
tempted to knock your head against the wall.”

“Well, I’m glad you didn’t. Because if you had we wouldn’t have been
chums. But I wonder why you didn’t kick and get another roommate?”

“That’s the funny part of it, Wayne. I suppose I must have liked you
even then. By the way, do you remember how mad you got one day when
Paddy told you that you spoke with a ‘refined negro dialect’?”

“Yes,” answered Wayne, “I remember. Well, I’m glad I’ve learned a
little sense since then. I felt powerful mean and homesick the first
few weeks I was here; and you and Paddy and Dave were awfully decent
to me. It isn’t the thing that a fellow talks about, of course, and I
hate to have any one get ‘sloppy,’ but, honest, Don, I won’t forget it,
you know.”

“Oh, quit your joking!” cried Don, jumping up. “Let’s go over to
Hampton and bother Dave.”

So they struggled into their sweaters and went. The sound of hammering
and shouting aroused their curiosity, and they made a detour to the
front of Academy Building to learn the meaning of the noise. A group
of workmen were putting the finishing touches on the new flagstaff,
and already it reared its length aloft on the edge of the bluff, the
glistening gold ball at the top of the slender mast shining bright
against the gray sky.

“Phew!” exclaimed Don. “She’s a tall old stick, isn’t she? Must be a
good fifty feet, eh?”

“Worse than that,” answered Wayne. “I should say about sixty.”

“Maybe. I wonder if they’ll get a new flag. The old one’s pretty well
worn out.”

“Say, Don,” Wayne suggested as they hurried on toward Hampton House
with their ears tingling, “wouldn’t it be a grand joke to run a flag up
there to-night ourselves? Think how surprised ‘Wheels’ would be in the
morning!”

“By Jove! Great scheme. Come on; let’s tell Paddy and Dave.”

Those young gentlemen hailed the idea with glee, and called Wayne a
public benefactor and many other flattering things. The fact was, life
had been deadly dull of late, and the continued indoor existence was
beginning to affect their spirits. The idea of having a flag raising of
their own appeared illumined with brilliance, and the quartet at once
began arrangements.

“But we haven’t a flag,” objected Dave.

“Let’s make one. It ought to be something more startling than the Stars
and Stripes,” said Paddy. “I wish we had a class flag. I tell you,
fellows, let’s run up a skull and crossbones!”

“Just the thing!” giggled Wayne. “Where’ll we get it?”

“Have to make it. Dave’s got some black paint stuff, and we’ll use a
sheet or something.”

“Pillowcase would be better,” said Don. “Rip it open, you know.”

“Splendid! We’ll use Dave’s.”

“Use your own,” responded Dave. “If I supply the paint you’d ought to
supply the pillowcase.”

“Well, all right, stingy. Get your paint stuff.”

Paddy’s pillow case was quickly produced and ripped at the seams,
and the four boys squatted about it on the floor, while Don drew a
skull--at least, he declared it was that--and a pair of very stout
bones beneath it. Then Wayne, claiming the right by virtue of the
origination of the idea, filled in the design with some extremely
sticky varnish, and the flag was complete.

“That’s not black at all; it’s sort of brownish,” Wayne objected.

“Well, bones aren’t black, anyway,” said Don. “Besides, it shows up
finely. Now how’ll we get it up there?”

Plans were discussed until supper time, and at length it was decided
to go and have a look at the pole and the halyards on the way to the
dining hall. This was done. The workmen had departed, the new ropes
were flapping sharply against the pole, and the boys found everything
ready for them. They didn’t linger there, for fear that they would be
observed and connected with the affair the next day, but went on to
supper, agreeing to meet in Hampton at nine o’clock.

At a few minutes past that hour four muffled and mysterious figures
scuttled across the yard, keeping in the shelter of the laboratories
and the gymnasium, and gathered about the flag pole. Detection was
out of the question, for the night was as dark as the most desperate
mission could demand. Above them the topmast creaked complainingly in
the wind and the halyards beat a tattoo against the wood. Very quickly
the new flag was attached, Paddy complaining _sotto voce_ because the
varnish stuck to his hands, and Wayne laid hold of the other rope.

“Hats off!” commanded Don in a husky whisper.

Four cloth caps left as many heads bare to the cold wind, Dave whistled
a lugubrious march beneath his breath, and Wayne ran the flag upward
into the darkness and the teeth of the March tempest.

“Hold on,” whispered Paddy. “Pull it down again!”

“What’s the matter?” asked the others.

“Why, don’t you see, they can get it down! Shall we allow our flag to
be lowered? Never! So let’s cut the rope that the pillowcase is on.
Then they’ll have nothing to lower it with!”

The others studied the problem a moment in silence. Then, “Well that
sounds reasonable,” muttered Wayne. “Let’s try it anyway.” So the flag
came down, and Paddy cut the halyards a few inches beneath it. Then the
skull and crossbones was again hoisted, this time with scant ceremony,
the severed length of rope was stuffed under Paddy’s jacket, and the
four conspirators parted with muffled laughter. Above them in the
wind-swept space the ominous standard flapped in the darkness.



CHAPTER XVI

AND LOWERS IT


What a commotion there was the next day!

Wayne and Don found the flag pole surrounded by a throng of delighted
and amazed youths when they wandered unostentatiously to the front of
the Academy Building on their way to chapel. What a chattering there
was! Juniors hinted proudly that they knew more about it than they were
inclined to impart, and that when it came to pure and artistic pranks
their class “was really the only one, you know!” The lower middle
fellows accepted the presence of the fluttering white banner with its
derisive and unlovely emblem as a direct challenge from the juniors,
and there was much talk of “punched heads.” The upper middle fellows
asserted positively that it was the work of a certain secret society
which, despite the rules, had to their knowledge been flourishing at
Hillton for many years. The seniors--well, the seniors acted like all
seniors. They viewed the flag with secret gusto and outward disgust
and talked about “disgrace to the school” and “finding the fellows
that did it, by Jove!” And Wayne and Don and Paddy and Dave, loud in
expressions of surprise and condemnation, mingled with the throng and
laughed in their sleeves.

Then every one ran for chapel and listened impatiently for the
faculty’s expression of its views on the subject. They were not
disappointed. When the time for announcements came, the principal
disposed of the minor affairs with his usual tranquillity, and then
took up the subject of the flag. Wayne and Don, Paddy and Dave, sitting
together at the back of the hall, experienced a distinct sense of
disappointment. Instead of taking the appearance of the skull and
crossbones as a thing demanding censure and threats of expulsion, the
principal ridiculed their splendid effort!

“I presume,” he remarked without any evidence of feeling, “that it
is the work of some junior. It could scarcely be anything else. The
trick is so little and silly that none but a very young and mistaken
boy would have thought of it. Whoever put the flag up there arranged
matters so that it can not be pulled down. It would be possible for
us to have the topmast lowered, but as that would necessitate a large
expense we shall not do it. So the flag will, of course, continue to
fly there, a very fitting symbol of the school’s idea of humor, until
the wind whips it to pieces. It may be that it will bring a certain
amount of ridicule on the Academy, and the sight of it may arouse
sensations of disgust in the breasts of sensible boys, but there is no
help for it. The faculty will take no steps to discover the author or
authors of the silly trick, and they will not have the satisfaction of
knowing themselves to be offenders against the school authority. They
are in no danger of the slightest punishment; I do not even ask them
to own up to the affair or offer apologies. The incident is closed so
far as the faculty is concerned. It would, however, have been more
appropriate had the design on the flag been a donkey’s head; but it’s
too late to change it now.”

The four conspirators walked out of chapel in a silence that held them
until they parted at the steps of Warren Hall. Then Dave spoke:

“Smart, weren’t we?”

There was no reply, and the four went into breakfast feeling, as Paddy
afterward put it, “like excommunicated angels.” Wayne was very silent
during the forenoon and only scowled at every effort of his friends to
engage him in conversation. The juniors posted a notice immediately
after breakfast calling for a meeting in Society House in the evening;
and the example was quickly followed by the other three classes.
Indignation ran high. The humor had departed from the affair, and the
prospect of having the skull and crossbones fly in front of Academy
Building during the rest of the school year was most unwelcome. The
four perpetrators of the trick felt this as keenly as any.

“It’s got to come down,” said Wayne doggedly, when the four congregated
in 15 Bradley after lunch.

“Well, how’s it coming down?” asked Paddy.

“We were awful asses,” said Don disgustedly.

“It wasn’t exactly our fault,” answered Dave. “If ‘Wheels’ had only
been decent about it! But what can you do if faculty won’t take your
efforts toward enlivenment in the proper spirit?”

“Has any one tried to get the old thing down?” questioned Paddy.

“Yes, lots of fellows have tried. Wayne pulled the flag so far up that
a corner of it’s fast in the pulley arrangement,” responded Don. “If he
hadn’t been so keen to overdo the thing----”

“Oh, dry up! What’s the good of blaming Wayne. We were all in it
equally,” said Paddy.

“Yes, that’s so,” admitted Don. “Let’s try and think of a way of
getting the bloody thing down.”

“Bony thing,” corrected Dave.

“Look here, fellows, I got the thing up there--it was my idea in the
first place--and I’ll get it down again.” Wayne scowled around the
little circle. “All I want you fellows to do is to quit nagging. Who
knows where I can get a boat hook?”

“There’s slathers of ’em in the boathouse,” said Paddy.

“Well, you get me one--a real light one. I’ll borrow Moore’s climbing
irons, and after laboratory work I’ll have a try at it.”

“Can you climb?” asked Don doubtfully.

“Some,” answered Wayne. “There are spikes in the pole up as far as the
crosstree. After that I’ll use the climbing irons as far as I can, and
then shin the rest of the way.”

“But I don’t see what you want a boat hook for,” said Dave.

“To get hold of the flag, of course. It’s stuck in the block. If I can
get the hook in it I reckon I can pull it free.”

“Oh, I see. Well, you might try.”

“I don’t think we ought to let him try,” said Don anxiously. “It’s an
awful long way to the top of the thing, and it’s blowing a gale. At any
rate, Wayne, you’d better wait until to-morrow. The wind might blow you
off.”

“No, it’s got to be done to-day. We don’t want to attend the class
meeting this evening and have to get up and tell the fellows that we
did it and we’re awfully sorry, do we? We’d look like idiots! No, I’ll
try it this afternoon, wind or no wind.”

“Well, look here,” exclaimed Paddy, “I was in this as much as you were,
Wayne, and I’m stronger than you, and if anybody is going to climb that
pole it’s going to be me!”

“No, I put it up; it was my scheme,” answered Wayne stubbornly. “I’ll
get it down.”

Paddy’s remonstrances were of no avail, and the others at last gave
their consent to the undertaking. Paddy promised to get the boat hook,
and they agreed to meet at four o’clock and try to undo their work.

       *       *       *       *       *

Paddy’s appearance at the flag pole armed with the boat hook and
Wayne’s advent there with a pair of climbing irons over his arm was
sufficient to draw a crowd, and soon the vicinity was thronged with
curious watchers, who danced about in an endeavor to keep their
feet warm or sought shelter from the cold blasts in the doorway of
Academy Building. Dave and Don soon arrived, and the latter viewed
with apprehension the task ahead of his chum. Far up in the air the
white banner bearing the ridiculous skull and crossbones fluttered and
whipped in the wind as though quite as much ashamed of its appearance
as were the boys, and resolved to put an end to its luckless career
with every convulsive tug at its lashings.

“I do wish Wayne wouldn’t try to climb up there,” muttered Don in
Dave’s ear; but Dave was explaining the proceedings with great gusto to
“Pigeon” Wallace, and so didn’t hear him. Wayne himself was strapping
the irons to his stout shoes, and Paddy, looking as though he wished
himself well out of the whole affair, stood by with the boat hook, to
which a length of rope had been attached. Through the audience sped the
startling information of Wayne Gordon’s contemplated adventure, and a
murmur of excited interest arose; and boys who had absent friends sped
away in search of them. As Wayne took his gloves off and put his foot
on the first of the spikes that rendered more or less easy the ascent
of the lower pole a wholly impromptu cheer arose and gained in volume
until it resolved itself into a loud “’Rah--’rah--’rah, Gordon!”

Wayne paid no heed; he was already halfway up the great white-painted
mast that terminated many feet above in a broad crosstree. It was
easy going, save for the wind and the fact that the climbing irons
interfered when he laid his feet on the rests. But the crosstree was
quickly reached, and he pulled himself on to it, and clutching the
topmast with his left arm, with the other pulled up the boat hook by
means of the rope, one end of which was tied around his waist. Those
below saw that after one fleeting downward glance he raised his eyes
and did not again risk dizziness.

“Gee!” exclaimed Paddy, his head craned back as he gazed aloft. “See
how the wind blows up there!”

“Is there any danger of the thing breaking?” asked Dave.

“Not a bit. It’s a nice new pine, and it’ll stand lots. But if Wayne
gets up there and loses his grip-- Say, I wish we hadn’t let him do
it!” Paddy looked with troubled eyes into Don’s pale countenance.

“Here comes the whole blamed faculty!” cried Dave, and as the group
of boys turned to look Professor Wheeler, accompanied by “Turkey” and
Longworth, pushed into the assemblage.

“Who is that up there?” the principal asked sternly.

“Wayne Gordon, sir,” answered a dozen voices.

“Gordon! _Gordon!_” The principal made a trumpet of his hands and
shouted at the top of his lungs. “Come down at once!”

There was no answer from the figure on the crosstree. Possibly the wind
was too strong to allow of the principal’s voice reaching him; possibly
Wayne heard, but thought the command issued from one of the fellows.
At all events his only response was to seize the slender topmast with
his arms, dig his climbing irons into the wood, and start upward. The
principal again shouted.

“Best let him alone, sir,” said Professor Durkee calmly. “I doubt if he
can hear; but if he can ’twill only bother him and make the task more
hazardous.” The principal turned sternly to the throng about the pole.

“Did none of you know better than to let him do this? Is that you
there, Cunningham? I should have thought that you, for one, would have
stopped him!”

There was no reply from the throng, and Don accepted the rebuke with a
miserable countenance. It was Paddy who ventured a defense.

“He would go, sir. Nobody can stop Gordon when he makes up his mind,
sir.” The principal’s only answer was a gesture of exasperation. Then
all eyes were turned upward again.

Wayne had reached a place where, because of the slenderness of
the pole, his irons were of no further use. To take them off was a
difficult task, but to keep them on rendered farther progress well-nigh
impossible. So he drove the spike on his right foot deep into the mast
and unbuckled his left iron and threw it far out beyond the edge of the
crowd below. Clinging to the pole with his legs and his left arm, he
managed at last to undo the remaining iron and kick his foot free from
the straps. Then he wound both legs about the mast, gripped it firmly
with his hands, and began to shin upward again. He wished that he had
left his shoes at the crosstree, for his stockinged feet would have
gripped the wood much closer. But it was too late to think of that. The
wind and the exertion had almost deprived him of breath, and now, as
he reached a point some twenty feet above the crosstree, the topmast
began to get woefully slim and swayed sickeningly in the wind. For
an instant he stopped climbing and clung motionless. To the watchers
below it seemed that he must be about to give up. The mast looked
scarcely larger round than one’s arm, and the boy’s figure, a dark atom
against the sullen gray of the flying clouds, swayed from side to side
perilously.

But Wayne had no thought of giving up. He only paused a moment to
gather breath for further effort and then went on, his feet, legs,
and arms gripping the rocking pole with all their strength. One
circumstance aided him: the mast had been varnished but a few days
before, and presented to his hands a slightly sticky surface that made
his grip surer and easier. He feared but one thing, and that was a
look downward. He strove with all his might against the irresistible
temptation to let his gaze drop for just a fraction of a second; he
knew that if he yielded vertigo would master him. So far he had been
successful, but now, with his task almost accomplished, the golden
ball but a few feet above him, something seemingly stronger than his
will forced him to lower his head. He stopped climbing again and, with
despair at his heart, clung tightly to the swaying mast. His eyes
dropped to the roof of the neighboring laboratories, to the ice-covered
walk that led to Academy Building, to the edge of the throng!

A murmur of dismay and apprehension crept through the crowd. For a
moment the March tempest was stilled, and in that moment, faint, and as
though from a great distance, came a cry from below:

“_Keep agoing, Old Virginia!_”

Wayne recognized Paddy’s deep voice. With a rush the blood drove back
to the boy’s chilled heart. He gave a gasp, threw back his head, and
found himself staring at the golden ball, which, for the first time,
seemed to beckon him upward. Arms and legs responded strongly to his
demand, and inch by inch the remaining distance was won.

Some five feet from the swaying tip he again paused and gripped the
mast, now scarcely more than a rod, and again hauled up the boat hook.
The skull and crossbones flared and snapped loudly and derisively.
Taking a firm hold of the mast with his left hand, he reached forward
the long shaft. The first effort drove the hook through a corner of
the white cloth; the first tug freed it from the pulley block, and
with a rush the hook and flag came down. But Wayne was careful not
to let the former drop. Holding it firmly, he started to descend,
the flag following. And from the throng below broke a cheer that was
quickly hushed lest it confuse the boy. But the rest was simple and the
crosstree was quickly gained. The wind, as though angry at having been
deprived of its seeming prey, lashed and whirled at him as he dropped
easily and quickly from one foot rest to another. A few feet from the
ground the boy paused and detached the flag from the rope. Then he
stepped down into the throng. A dozen pairs of arms were outstretched
to him and a rousing cheer went up. Don, pale and trembling, thrust
himself through the crowd roughly and threw one arm around his
shoulders.

“Wayne!” he whispered huskily.

Wayne smiled lightly back at him and pushed forward. He met a glance of
sly understanding from Professor Durkee’s little gray eyes and a nod of
approval. Then the principal was speaking.

“That was bravely done, Gordon, and we owe you thanks. But don’t try
anything of the sort again.”

Wayne met the principal’s grave eyes and grinned.

“I won’t, sir. But nobody owes any thanks. You see, I put it up there!”



CHAPTER XVII

ON THE CINDER TRACK


One morning in late March the earth awoke to find that during the night
a little south wind had melted the last vestige of ice and snow in
the shaded corners, and that Spring was busy cleansing the land ere
beginning her housekeeping. The gravel walks were soft underfoot and
little blue ribbons of water trickled across them. The willows in the
meadow at the base of the hill had suddenly put on their vernal costume
of tender russet, and the campus, a veritable quagmire for the nonce,
was doffing its faded livery, and, to the close observer, revealing
in favored hollows and sheltered slopes a garb of soft green velvet.
Along the station road the thrush proclaimed its pleasure at the new
order of things in clear, sweet notes that trembled in the soft air
like intangible sunflecks. The river rehearsed in gentle murmurs a new
song as it rippled past island and point, and reflected on its bright
surface the tender blue of the sky and the fleecy whiteness of the
slowly sailing clouds. Spring had come in the valley of the Hudson.

And never was spring more welcome. The winter had been severe and
protracted, and to youth and health the enforced captivity indoors
had long since grown irksome. Suddenly the boathouse became the scene
of much activity and the two crews took to the water with all the
delight of young ducks, and the sound of oars and of the coxswains’
voices floated up from the river every afternoon. Baseballs and bats
made their appearance and swept through the school like an epidemic.
The campus became the center of Academy life, and the golf links was
dotted with enthusiastic players. As soon as the cinder track had
dried sufficiently Professor Beck and his charges took possession, and
outdoor training began with spirit.

The winter term came to an end, and spring vacation depopulated the
school for the better part of a week. Don and Paddy both went home for
an “over Sunday” visit, the former’s duties as captain of the track
team precluding a more extended absence, and the latter’s dislike to be
away from Dave for any length of time causing him to cut his presence
in the bosom of his family to the shortest possible length. Dave stayed
at Hillton and Wayne kept him company. Both kept up their training
about as they would have done had no vacation been in progress. Wayne
had now attained to a development of lung power that satisfied even
Professor Beck, and his triweekly performances on the gymnasium running
track had given place to almost daily walks over the country roads or
across fields; often there was a little cross-country run participated
in by Wayne and others. No effort was made to cover the distance
quickly, and the instructions were to avoid hard running; so the lads
trotted easily over a two-mile course in a bunch and had plenty of fun
at the hazards, and came puffing up to the gymnasium together with
reddened cheeks and tingling bodies to undergo the delights of a shower
bath and a subsequent rubbing down that sent them to supper with the
appetites of young bears.

But with the commencement of the spring term the walks were superseded
by almost daily work on the track. The cross-country trips became
regular events for the first and latter part of the week, and were
varied in distance from time to time. Often Wayne was the only one
of the “milers” or “half milers” to take the run; sometimes he was
accompanied by Whitehead, a promising junior class youth; and less
often the entire group of candidates were out. But whether the others
were sent across the fields or not, Wayne was never allowed to miss a
run.

“You see, Gordon,” Professor Beck explained one day, “we have a way of
classing fellows into three temperaments--the sanguine, the bilious,
and the lymphatic; often the classification is difficult to make,
but in your case it is extremely easy. You belong in the bilious
class; constitution tough and capable of severe tasks and prolonged
effort; circulation sluggish; disposition naturally persevering and
ob--ahem!--inflexible; requires plenty of good food and lots of
exercise. You and Whitehead are the only distance men that I can
rightly class as bilious; Whitehead is less so than you; there is also
something of the sanguine in his make-up. So, my boy, that is why I
keep you tussling with cross-country work while the others are on the
track. No two men or boys, dogs or horses, require the same training
in every particular. Your friend Cunningham is rather of a sanguine
disposition; he’s a brilliant performer at whatever he takes hold of;
he can go over the one-hundred-and-twenty-yard hurdles in the finest
form; but if he tried to take an oar in a two-mile boat race he would
in all probability slump in his work before the race was won. The
sanguine man is a man of dash and spirit, and is, as a rule, incapable
of prolonged effort; he makes a good sprinter, but a poor long-distance
runner.”

“But Don is a good cross-country runner,” objected Wayne.

“No, he’s not; that is, he’s a good cross-country runner for the
reason that he is an excellent jumper and hurdler, and makes up by his
speed over obstacles what he loses on the flat; but he’s only a fair
cross-country man because he is worn out at the end of the second mile;
after that, to the finish, he has to depend on nerve and ‘sand.’ Two
years ago he managed to finish second, how I scarcely know. This last
fall, of the four men who finished first, three were distinctly of a
bilious temperament, and one, Northrop, fairly lymphatic. Of course,
to this, as to all other rules, there are exceptions; but it’s a rule
that holds generally true. To the sanguine temperament we look for
speed, to the bilious for endurance, to the lymphatic for nerve.”

On the days when the cross-country run was not in order Wayne went with
the other fellows to the track and practiced starting, and afterward
ran varying distances on the cinders. The latter work Wayne liked,
for, although he had not as yet been allowed to go over three fourths
of a mile, and though Professor Beck had never yet told him what time
he made, he felt that he was at last getting in touch with real work.
Often he was one of a little bunch of half milers and milers, and there
was a pleasurable intoxication in working past this runner or that,
and, as sometimes happened, finishing well in the lead. Professor
Beck’s sole comments at the end of a performance of this sort was a
brief “Well done, Gordon,” or an almost equally laconic “Try to better
that to-morrow.”

But of criticism before and during the practice there was plenty. “Arms
down, Gordon!” “That stride’s too short; lengthen out! lengthen out!”
“You’re running too fast, Gordon. Ease up on this lap.” “Put your head
back so you can breathe, and, for goodness’ sake, _keep your arms
down_!”

But the latter injunction seemed to be always wasted. Try as he
would--and he did try--Wayne’s arms could not be made to hang; they
always, sooner or later, got glued to his breast, making him look--so
Don said--as though he had a pain. Professor Beck reprimanded and
scowled and growled, but to no purpose. Wayne replied that he could
run better with his arms against his body, and he didn’t see what
difference it made. Professor Beck explained all over again that
his lungs ought to have free play and that by keeping his arms and
shoulders back they were unrestricted.

“But I’m more comfortable that way,” Wayne pleaded. And the professor
would smile in exasperation and beg him to try the other way “if you
_please_, Gordon!” And Wayne would promise and forthwith try, and in
the middle of a two-third-mile run discover to his amazement that his
clinched hands were as tightly glued to his chest as ever!

But aside from this defection Wayne’s performance was promising and Don
was delighted. “You’ll make the team sure,” he declared. “And if you do
you’re almost certain of a first or second place. Neither St. Eustace
nor Warrenton has a first-class miler. You and young Whitehead, and
possibly Banks, will make a good trio.”

But if running on the cinder track pleased Wayne the daily practice
at starting equally displeased him. It was exasperating and tiresome
work, but there was a good fifteen minutes of it every afternoon, and
Wayne had a lot to learn. In squads of four or five the runners and
jumpers were placed at the mark and sent off at the report of a pistol.
The sprinters and hurdlers were instructed in the crouching, and the
long-distance men and the jumpers in the standing start. Time and again
Wayne, with his left foot on the mark, his body thrown forward, and
his ears straining for the report of the pistol in Professor Beck’s
hand, would for a single instant relax his vigilance, when--_bang!_ and
off would go the rest of the squad a good yard or more ahead of him!
And when they all came trotting back for another try Professor Beck
would inquire politely:

“Asleep, Gordon?”

Perhaps on the next attempt, mindful of his previous error, Wayne would
offend in the opposite direction and start with a wild plunge down
the track only to realize that the pistol report which he had seemed
to hear was only a thing of imagination born of strained nerves and
muscles. Then he would crawl shamefacedly back to meet the grins of the
other chaps and to hear Professor Beck remark pleasantly:

“I see you’ve woke up, Gordon.”

But there was one thing that acted as a solace: a good start was always
applauded by the professor; perhaps in only two words, but worth to the
boy whole sentences of praise or compliment. And, besides, his work
was not so hard as that of the sprinters, who were forced to crouch
like monkeys or cats--Wayne was never able to decide which they most
resembled--for long seconds at a time, only to have the signal come
when they had shifted their weight for a second from legs to arms, and
to either leave them dazed on their mark or to send them sprawling on
the cinders. That, at least, was spared him. He was not the only one
of the many candidates for track honors that made a muddle of starting,
but, as Don cheerfully told him after a specially disastrous afternoon,
“there was no other fellow in the lot who could start wrong and do it
with such infinite variety.”

But Don was often sorely tried and perplexed in those days of early
training, and the unnecessary candor of the remark may be forgiven him.
Don had his own training to go through with, and was besides compelled
to take an active part in the training of others. The hurdlers and
jumpers in especial were under his instruction, while, nominally at
least, he was responsible for the proper work of all the candidates.
Dave alone appeared undisturbed by events. At least four times a week
he practiced with the hammer, Professor Beck viewing his performances
with scarce concealed displeasure. For Dave’s hammer throwing did not
improve as the season wore on. Of the two other aspirants for success
at the sport, one, Hardy, had already equaled Dave’s best throw that
spring; and the other, Kendall, gave promise of speedily attaining a
like degree of proficiency. But Dave did not believe in worrying; he
only tried his best, put every scrap of strength into his efforts,
tossed the twelve-pound ball and wire away over the grass as though
it were the veriest plaything, and then exhibited neither surprise
nor disappointment when measurement revealed the fact that once
again he had failed to equal his own not overgood record made in the
interscholastic meet the year before. Instead of fretting Dave worked
the harder, and if honest endeavor deserves reward Dave should have
captured the championship.

Week after week of good, bright weather, sometimes brisk with
north winds, but never disagreeable, came and went. Wayne ran
one-hundred-yard dashes, trotted slow miles, sped over moderate three
quarters--always with a jolly sprint for the last forty or fifty
yards--went jogging across country over fences, hedges, and brooks,
put in a bad quarter of an hour in front of the starter’s pistol,
occasionally had a whole day of rest, and every night settled down to
his studies with a cool, clear brain and a splendid absence of nerves.
And one day the entries for the spring handicap meeting were posted and
all the candidates for athletic honors went at their training harder
than ever.



CHAPTER XVIII

DON LOSES HIS TEMPER


“Connor, you and Middleton will try the full flight together. Get on
your mark, and I’ll start you in a minute. Perkins, you took the full
distance yesterday, didn’t you? Well, report to Mr. Beck, please, for
starting; and you’d better go a hundred and twenty on the flat at about
a sixteen-second clip. Hello, Wayne, aren’t you working to-day?”

Wayne suited his step to Don’s and trotted up the track with him to
where Connor and Middleton were waiting at the far end of the long line
of hurdles.

“I guess so; after a while. Beck’s busy with the broad jumpers. Are you
going over the hurdles?”

“If I get a chance. Hang it, I haven’t had any time to practice this
week. Connor and Middleton have taken up every minute, and they’re
awful duffers at hurdling. Perkins is a good man, though; he just
passed you a minute ago. Wait until I get these fellows off and I’ll
talk to you.”

Don went to the starting line and Wayne, drawing his coat more closely
about his running costume, perched himself on an unused hurdle at the
side of the track and looked on. Don took a small revolver from his
pocket and stationed himself behind the two hurdlers.

“Both you fellows must try and get over the hurdles lower. Remember
that it doesn’t matter if you strike them; it won’t hurt you. Connor,
you start well and make your first hurdle all right, but after that you
get ragged. Keep your pace up to the end; you ought to finish just as
fast as you begin. Middleton, you haven’t got your pace right yet. Your
first two steps are always too short, and the result is that your third
leaves you too far from the hurdle. You must correct that. I’ll give
you both two tries over the full flight. This time take it easy and be
careful. On your mark! Set!”

_Bang!_ went the little pistol and the two hurdlers dashed forward
toward the first of the three-feet-six-inch obstacles. Don ran
alongside on the cinders, watching their performance and shouting
instructions.

“Higher next time, Connor, by a half inch.” “Lengthen your stride,
Middleton.” “Take your time, both of you.” “That’s better, Connor; good
work. Don’t stop; keep on to the finish!”

The three hurdlers came slowly back, listening in patient and
respectful attention to Don’s criticisms, and again dug their spikes
into the cinders at the mark, crouching low and practicing little
starts. Don called to Wayne.

“I’m going over them once, Wayne, to show these chaps what I’ve been
talking about. Will you start me?”

Wayne hurried up and took the pistol.

“You fellows,” continued Don, turning to the two tyros, “had better run
along and watch me over the hurdles. You’ll see what I mean by jumping
low, and you, Middleton, had better watch my stride. All ready, Wayne.”

The latter cocked the pistol. “On your mark! Set!”

At the report of the pistol Don straightened himself quickly from
his crouching position and tore lightly down on the first of the ten
hurdles, springing off the right foot, turning his body slightly to
the right and clearing the bar with a long, low, graceful rise that
was scarcely more than a stride. Three long steps and he was again in
the air, his rear ankle just tipping the wood as he landed on the ball
of his right foot and sped on, apparently without effort. Again and
again his white-clad form rose and fell down the line of hurdles until
the last one was surmounted and he had crossed the finish running like
a deer, swiftly and lightly. Then with a series of high, shortening
strides he gradually slowed down and turned back.

“Isn’t it pretty, the way he does that?” said a voice in Wayne’s ear,
and the latter turned to find Paddy beside him.

“You bet it is!” answered Wayne warmly. “I wish I could do it!”

“Ever try?”

“No; did you?”

“Once; last year. Don had five hurdles set up out here, and I told him
I’d beat him over if he’d give me a start. So I tried. He waited until
I was over the first hurdle. Then he started.” Paddy paused and grinned
reminiscently.

“Who won?”

“There wasn’t any race, me boy. The spalpeen went across the finish
while I was trying to pick myself out of the third hurdle. You see, I
got over the first all right, but when I reached the second there was
something wrong; I had too many feet or--or something; and I got there
on the wrong one. I finally jumped off one of them--I think it was the
left hind foot--knocked the hurdle over, ran for the next one, landed
on top of it, and then--well, then the hurdle and I were all mixed up
together. I think it struck me, but I’m not sure. Oh, hurdle racing is
something that I wasn’t cut out for. I’m quite willing that Don should
do my share.”

Don and the other two lads came up while Wayne was still laughing over
Paddy’s narrative, and, yielding the pistol, Wayne stood aside and
watched the next trial. Don got into his overcoat again and Connor and
Middleton crouched at the mark.

“Now, see what you can do,” said Don. “I’ll tell you frankly that
neither of you can make the team on such work as you’ve done up to
date. So, for goodness’ sake, put brains into your hurdling. I’ll time
you this try, and the fellow that finishes second will have to work
hard next week if he wants to go to the interscholastic meeting.”

Once more the pistol sounded, the two boys left the mark as though shot
from a cannon, and together took the first two bars. Then Middleton
began to drop behind, and at the last hurdle was a long two yards to
the rear of Connor, who finished well and strongly.

“Nineteen and a fifth,” called Don. “Slow work that. But you both
showed improvement. Your stride’s all wrong yet, though, Middleton; two
short at first; nothing even; you’ll get beaten every time until you
mend it. I won’t try you over the full flight again until you’ve had a
full week’s work learning the stride. Monday you’d better go back to
the low hurdles again and try taking about three of them. That’s all
to-day.”

Middleton and Connor, the former looking very meek, seized their wraps
and trotted away toward the dressing room. Don joined Wayne and Paddy
on the top of the hurdle and the three swung their legs and chatted
until Professor Beck approached and summoned Wayne to the starting line
of the mile.

It was Saturday afternoon, a week from the date of the handicap
meeting, and the track candidates were out in full force. Groups of
white-clad boys dotted the field. The broad jumpers and the pole
vaulters were busy near by; several sprinters were trotting toward the
grand stand after their trials; the hammer and shot candidates were
hard at work; a number of fellows were jogging about the track; on the
gridiron the spring football squad was learning the rudiments of the
game, and the sound of the bat broke sharply on the air now and then
where the baseball candidates were at practice. On the links a number
of figures moved hither and thither at the will of the speeding white
spheres. The scene was a bright and busy one, and overhead the blue
April sky arched cloudless from hill to mountain.

“Gordon, get your coat off and limber up,” commanded Professor Beck. “I
want you to run your distance to-day on time.”

Wayne threw aside his coat, looked to his running shoes, and trotted
down the cinders to the one-hundred-yard post and back again,
stretching his muscles and relishing the faint gritting sound that
his shoes made on the smooth, level path. Then he got on his mark and
listened to the professor’s directions.

“I’ll tell you your time after each quarter,” he announced. “I want you
to study it and your pace so that you will be able in a race to judge
accurately how fast you are going. Get away quickly and get a good
steady pace by the end of the first sixty yards. Remember you’ve got
a quarter of a mile farther to run than you’re used to. And remember,
too, that on the last half lap you must increase your speed. Keep that
in mind and save enough strength for a good hard spurt at the finish.
Sutton will pace you on the last quarter. On your mark!”

Wayne sped away from a good start, and, according to directions, found
a steady pace ere the end of the first half minute, and ran in good
form. At the end of the first quarter Professor Beck announced the time
and bade him to slow up a little. The half mile was accomplished well
under 2.28. When he reached the line at the end of the third quarter
Sutton was waiting and started off beside him at a pace that made
Wayne’s eyes open. But he did not try to overhaul the fleet-footed
four-hundred-and-forty-yard runner at once, but ran well within himself
and saved his strength for the last half lap. He began to feel the pace
now, and his feet showed a tendency to drag. As he passed the line on
the next to the last lap some twenty yards behind the middle-distance
man Professor Beck was waiting watch in hand.

“All right,” he called. “Don’t hurry until you turn for the finish.”

Around the track for the last time the two runners went. Sutton
increased his pace and his lead about halfway down the back stretch.
Overcoming the impulse to try and run him down then, Wayne kept up his
steady, moderate pace until the turn toward the finish. Then he called
on his reserve strength and spurted forward, making a fine race to the
tape and finishing well up behind the speedy Sutton. As he trotted
back to the line Professor Beck met him.

“Your time was five minutes and twenty seconds, Gordon. Try and
remember your speed, so that next time you will be able to regulate
your pace by to-day’s performance. You kept your arms up as usual and
your second quarter was a bit too fast. Next time try and run it about
five seconds slower, and put that five seconds into the finish. I
expect you to cut that time down by at least fifteen seconds before the
meet. That’s all this afternoon. Work yourself easy the first of next
week; I think I’d leave out the cross-country run Monday and do about
two miles slow on the track. I’ll give you another trial on Thursday.”

Wayne trotted away to the gymnasium, had a refreshing shower and rub
down, and had done a full hour’s work at his studies when Don came in
at dusk. The latter was not satisfied with his chum’s performance.

“You’ll have to beat that, Wayne. Sturgis, of St. Eustace, ran the mile
last year easily in 5.02⅕,” he said. “And Warrenton has men that can
do nearly as well. But it’s early yet. I do wish you’d get out of the
habit of hugging yourself. I watched you this afternoon. You had your
hands over your lungs during the whole last half of the mile.”

“Hang it,” Wayne responded, “you and Beck are awful cranks! I tell you
that I can run better that way. I’ve tried letting my arms swing, and
it won’t work.”

“No one wants you to swing your arms,” answered Don. “Just let them
alone and they’ll look after themselves. Only, for goodness’ sake stop
putting them on your chest and loading your lungs down!”

“I don’t load my lungs down,” answered Wayne a trifle shortly. “My
lungs are all right. I had plenty of breath when I finished to-day to
run another mile.”

“All right; but you wait and see, my boy. Folks that have been at
the business longer than you know more about it, I guess; and you’ll
discover some fine day that you’ve just thrown away your chances of
doing something by sticking to a habit that you could easily break
yourself of now if you’d try.”

“I have tried; I can’t run any other way.”

“You haven’t tried hard enough. It’s nonsense to say that you _can’t_
keep your arms off your chest; you just _won’t_!”

Wayne retired behind his Cæsar in silent dignity, and Don, his temper
worn by the day’s labor with the hurdlers and jumpers, isolated himself
in his window seat and scowled over his history of Greece until hunger
drove both to supper, by which time the small quarrel was forgotten
and the two raced downstairs and across to Turner Hall in the best of
spirits.



CHAPTER XIX

THE HOME RUN


Events were crowded thickly into the next week. Gardiner returned
to the Academy on Monday and shook up football affairs in a way
that surprised even Paddy. On Tuesday two more graduates put in an
appearance on the campus and with most terrifying scowls proceeded to
work miracles, one with the sprinters and the other with the baseball
candidates. The latter coach reached the scene none too soon, for the
next day Shrewsburg sent down an aggregation of hard-hitting young
gentlemen who had already earned a reputation that reached up and down
the valley. Most of the fellows turned out for the game and cheered
lustily for the crimson-stockinged youngsters, but despite the support
of the grand stand Hillton put up a ragged kind of ball, and at the end
of the sixth inning the wearers of the green S were five runs to the
good and their earning capacity seemed still unlimited.

Wayne and Don and Dave saw most of the contest from where the former
was putting Perkins over the high hurdles in a fraction over record
time. Later they adjourned to the stand and Don took a hand in
the cheering with encouraging results. Hillton went to bat in the
first of the seventh amid a loud chorus of cheers only to retire in
one-two-three order. Then the coach asserted authority and a new
pitcher went into the box, a lower-middle-class boy, Forest by name,
who had gained some success with his class nine the preceding spring.
He had a fresh, smiling, and ingenuous countenance, and he delivered
nice straight balls that went so fast that the first two Shrewsburg
batters went out on strikes and the third one reached first base
through the medium of a short grounder that seemed to belong to nobody
in particular, and for which nobody tried. But the side was out in
the next moment, for the fourth batsman struck up a nice clean fly
that settled cosily into the right-fielder’s hands, and the crimson
stockings trotted in under a salvo of applause.

“Say, where’s Paddy?” asked Wayne, while the first man at bat was
recovering his equilibrium after striking unsuccessfully at a deceptive
drop. Dave grinned.

“Paddy’s busy. Gardiner’s got every candidate, new and old, back of the
gym teaching them to pass. And Gardiner’s so full of new ideas that
Paddy’s head is in a whir all the time. I fear he’ll have brain fever
soon.”

“There’ll be two of us,” said Don feelingly, “unless Middleton goes out
of training. He knocked over every hurdle to-day except the last three.
I don’t understand how he came to miss those.”

“Side’s out,” interrupted Wayne. “This is the last of the eighth, isn’t
it?”

“Yes, let’s get the fellows to cheering.” Don got up and encouraged the
stand to renewed efforts, and the Shrewsburg captain went to bat.

“Twelve to seven,” muttered Dave. “I guess we don’t want this game.”

“Nine’s awful rocky this year,” said Don. “But I’ll bet Kirk will teach
’em something before the first St. Eustace game.”

“Good work, Gray!” yelled Wayne, as the Hillton first baseman captured
a liner hot off the end of the Shrewsburg captain’s stick.

“Is that Carl Gray?” asked Dave.

“Yes; I guess he’ll get on to the team. He’s made two of the seven runs
so far.”

Once more the Shrewsburg batters failed to make a safe hit, and Forest
got a good hearty cheer all to himself as he threw down the ball and
went to the bench. It was the first of the ninth now and the home
team’s last chance to tie the score or win, either a difficult task.
But the cheering became continuous, and the first man at bat, obeying
instructions, waited patiently for his base and got it on four balls.
Then a batting streak came to the Hillton players, and the next fellow
at the plate struck the first ball delivered safely just inside of
the third baseman. The next batter also found the ball and knocked it
hotly to shortstop, who fumbled it; and the bases were full. But the
Shrewsburg pitcher settled down to work and the following Hillton man
went out on strikes. And then happened a most unfortunate incident
for Shrewsburg. The coachers were busy back of first and third bases,
and the Shrewsburg pitcher allowed the noise to worry him a little,
just enough to turn an inshoot into a catastrophe. The ball struck
the batsman on the hip, and he limped to first, the men on bases
moved up, and Hillton scored her eighth run, amid quickly suppressed
applause from the seats. The pitcher lost his nerve then and delivered
a straight ball, shoulder high, which lit on the center of the bat
and went sailing just over his head, bringing another runner in and
reaching first too late to put the batsman out. The bases were still
full, with but one out, and the grand stand was wild with excitement.
The next fellow at the plate, perhaps determining to profit by the
pitcher’s collapse, allowed the first two balls to go by unnoticed.
Both were strikes. He looked worried for an instant as he tapped the
plate with his stick and again faced the pitcher. The third delivery
was a ball, and the batsman smiled.

“Hit it, Jim!” shrieked a friend in the audience, but Jim merely
broadened his smile into a grin, and the umpire called “Two balls!”
Again he remained motionless. “Three balls!” Fellows on the seats began
to breathe hard and lean restively forward. The Shrewsburg pitcher
glanced around the bases, wiped the stained leather sphere pensively
on his gray trousers, shot his hands upward, and sent a straight ball
waist-high over the plate. The batsman tossed aside his stick and took
a step toward first base.

“Striker’s out!” called the umpire.

A howl of derision went up from the watchers as the youth turned back
and walked toward the seat with a pained expression on his face.
“Idiot!” commented Dave.

But there was yet a chance. A three-bagger would tie the score. A
slightly built boy selected a bat and took his place at the plate.
Simultaneously the pitcher turned, waved his hand, and the fielders
scattered farther away. Some one started a cheer.

“’Rah-rah-rah, ’Rah-rah-rah, ’Rah-rah-rah, Gray!”

“There’s your friend, Wayne,” said Dave. “Hope he’ll swipe out a home
run.”

“So do I. But no such luck, I’m afraid.”

The pitcher was evidently afraid of Gray’s prowess with the bat and
went to work skillfully to deceive him by all his arts. But Gray was
cool and used the best of judgment. The first ball sped slowly by and
resolved itself into a wide outcurve. “One ball!” droned the umpire.
The catcher protested loudly, indignantly. Then he marched forward and
held a whispered conversation with the pitcher, while the audience
laughed derisively.

“No secrets!” bawled a small junior.

The catcher returned, and, leaning far to the right, smote his glove
disconcertingly. But Gray refused to glance around or lose his head.
The pitcher’s wonted skill and coolness had returned to him. The men on
bases were playing far off, ready to take advantage of anything in the
shape of a hit. Up went the pitcher’s hands, forward shot his arm, and
Gray leaped desperately backward.

“Strike!” called the umpire.

Gray looked disconcerted for an instant. Then he tapped the plate
resolutely and again faced the pitcher. The next ball was far out and
the boy at bat made no offer at it.

“Two balls!”

Again the chap with the great green S decorating his jersey went
through his contortions, and the sphere sped forward. Gray struck at
it with all his force and spun around on his heel. The catcher dropped
to his knee and picked the ball from the dust. It was a most deceptive
drop and the waiting batsmen on the bench nodded their heads in
approval.

“Two strikes!”

A little spot of deeper red shone on Gray’s cheek now and he moved his
stick a bit nervously behind his shoulder. The pitcher stepped back
into his box, nodded to a sign from the catcher, and let drive. Then
there was a sharp report as Gray’s bat struck the speeding sphere, the
grand stand was on its feet, the three men on bases raced home almost
in a bunch, and Gray was rounding first base at a desperate pace!

High and far sped the ball. The left-fielder was racing back down the
field. Would he catch it? Pandemonium reigned in the grand stand. Wayne
and the others were on their feet, shouting wildly and waving their
caps. Gray reached second base, cast a glance toward left field, and
came on. The fielder turned almost under the ball and reached upward,
leaped back a step, clutched wildly, and fell. The ball, tipping his
fingers just beyond his reach, dropped to earth. And Gray, panting and
happy, crossed the home plate into the arms of his exultant friends.

The score was now in Hillton’s favor by one run: thirteen to twelve.
The half was soon over. The next man struck a short grounder and was
out at first. And Shrewsburg went to bat, desperate resolve written
large on every face.

“Say, that friend Gray of yours is a great little boy!” exclaimed Dave,
as he pulled his cap on again and pounded his feet in time to the
refrain of Hilltonians, which the audience had started to chant.

“That’s the finest home run that’s ever been seen on this field since
I’ve been in school,” said Don. “And it was needed, too. A home run in
time saves the nine.”

“I hope it’ll save this nine,” laughed Wayne. “But those chaps look as
though they meant business. One run will tie us; two will beat us.”

But fortune proved a friend to Hillton, and Gray’s wonderful hit saved
the day, for Forest worked like a veteran pitcher and struck out the
first two Shrewsburg men in short order. The next batter wrote finis
to the game by sending a high foul into the first baseman’s gloves,
and the grand stand was emptied of its throng. Shrewsburg accepted
defeat manfully, answered the Hillton cheer with one equally hearty,
bundled itself into the waiting coach, and took its departure with much
good-natured defiant flaunting of green banners. Gray, by one brilliant
stroke, had achieved a much-coveted position on the nine and was a
school hero for many weeks.

The following day Wayne again sped over the mile while Professor Beck
held the watch on him. But something was wrong. The professor gave him
the result with ill-concealed displeasure.

“Five minutes twenty-three seconds. That’ll never do. You must cut off
fifteen seconds, Gordon, if you expect to make the team. What’s the
trouble?”

But Wayne couldn’t tell. He had done his best, he thought, and asserted
positively that he could run the distance again without feeling it,
which feat was naturally not allowed.

“Take a rest to-morrow,” counseled the professor, “so that you’ll be
in good condition for Saturday. For I’ll tell you frankly that if you
don’t mend that time in the handicaps you’ll find yourself out of it.”

And Wayne jogged back to the gymnasium feeling very forlorn and
discouraged. But after his bath and rubbing his spirits returned and
he vowed to open the professor’s eyes next time. He had entered for
both the half and the mile, the former on Professor Beck’s advice.
“For,” said the latter, “the races are far apart, and you’ll get over
the effects of the half before the mile is called. And the half may
limber you up for the longer distance.”

Wayne spent the next day in rest. Don, too, was idle, as were most of
the boys who were to participate in the handicaps, and he and Wayne
took a short walk along the river in the afternoon and returned at
dusk in time for an hour’s study before supper. The handicaps were
announced that evening, and, as is usual in like cases, there was some
dissatisfaction expressed by contestants. Wayne found that he was to be
allowed twenty yards in the half mile and was to run from scratch in
the mile, and was quite satisfied. One thing that told its own story
was the announcement that Merton would receive an allowance of eight
feet in the hammer throw.

“Poor old Dave!” said Don. “That’ll cut him up like anything. I suppose
it means that Hardy has turned out to be a better man, for you see he’s
down for scratch. Hello! they’ve given Middleton four seconds in the
one-hundred-and-twenty-yard hurdles; well, he ought to come somewhere
near winning with that allowance.”

Wayne went to bed that night filled with determination to win on the
morrow. He was not the sort of lad that allows the thought of coming
events to keep him awake, and he was soon fast asleep; nerves were
practically unknown to Wayne. But his brain proved more troublesome and
continued its labors after the body had gone to rest, with the result
that his slumbers were disturbed by dreams in which he seemed to be
trying to win the mile race with Professor Beck perched like an old man
of the sea on his shoulders, and Don continually thrusting hurdles in
his path.



CHAPTER XX

BADLY BEATEN


Saturday dawned fresh and clear. A little breeze, redolent of forest
depths and growing things, blew over the meadows from Mount Adam. The
river sparkled beneath its touch and the broad carpet of yellowish
green marshland beyond felt its breath and stirred in response. The
school turned out to a man--or should I say to a boy?--and long before
the hour set for the meeting the stand and much of the turf without the
ropes that guarded the track in the vicinity of the finish lines were
well thronged. The village came too, in the persons of the postmaster
and the livery-stable keeper and the two rival grocers and many others
of local prominence; and their wives and daughters came with them and
lent an added dash of color to the scene.

The meeting was much like every other event of the kind. Contestants
ran, hurdled, or jumped; the judges looked inscrutable; and the
audience cheered indiscriminately. It was little to them whether this
boy was disappointed or that one made glad; they applauded a brilliant
finish or an extra inch surmounted with the pole, and cared but little
what the figures might be. There were no records broken that day, but
Professor Beck and Don and the coaches--of which there was a small army
on hand, many having arrived on the morning train--were on the whole
well satisfied with the results shown. Don took both hurdle events, and
Perkins came in a close second. Middleton failed to use his allowance
to good effect, and made a poor third in each race. Dave threw the
hammer one hundred and thirty-eight feet four inches, which, with his
handicap of eight feet, gave him second place in the event. Hardy threw
one hundred and forty-seven feet two inches, and Kendall was third with
one hundred and forty feet nine inches. Hardy’s performance assured
him a place on the team and indicated a possibility of victory at the
forthcoming meeting. The pole vault, the sprints, the jumps, and the
quarter mile were all well contested, and some of them showed even
brilliant work. Whitehead ran away from the field in the last twenty
yards of the half mile, and Wayne finished a poor sixth, partly owing
to the fact that he had made a bad start and partly because the pace
was too hot for him; Whitehead’s time was 2.07⅕.

After such a sorry showing as that it seemed that Fortune owed Wayne
some reparation in the mile event; if so, Fortune didn’t pay the debt.
Profiting by the experience gained in the half mile, Wayne got off well
with the pistol and took a place in the van of the group of eight
runners. At the quarter mile he was third and felt as fresh as a colt;
at the half he had pulled himself up to a place on the inside of the
track and but a yard behind the leader. At the three quarters he was
still running strong, but Whitehead had passed him and was disputing
the lead with Battles. At the beginning of the last lap, Wayne found
himself fourth. On the back stretch he passed Seers and drew up behind
Whitehead and Battles. His legs were strong, his breath good, and he
could have run another mile without minding it. But after the turn,
when he dashed ahead to win, he found to his dismay that there was no
dash in him. Battles and Whitehead tore away from him and Seers crawled
up, hung for an instant on his flank, and passed him. Battles won first
by a fraction of a second, Whitehead was next, Seers third, and Wayne
fourth. The winner’s time was 5.03⅘; Wayne’s, 5.19.

He crawled dejectedly to the dressing room and refused to be comforted
by Whitehead’s predictions of better success next time. He was out of
it, and he knew it. There was nothing to do save put as good a face
as possible upon defeat. He trotted away to the gymnasium before the
meeting was quite over and took his bath and rub down almost alone.
To-day these things failed to summon back his spirits, and he went to
his room, perched himself on his own particular window seat, gazed out
across the sunlit river and marshes, and thought it all over.

It seemed hard luck. A few months before he would have cared but
little whether he made the track team or not. But now it was different.
The virus of athletic ambition was in his veins, and the afternoon’s
defeat, entailing as it did loss of position on the track team, seemed
magnified into an overwhelming catastrophe. He tried to summon back
the old indifference; he remembered scoffing at Don because the latter
made so much of athletic triumphs; somehow it was different to-day,
and he wished that he had resisted Don’s appeals and stayed out of it
all. Then a sense of injury overwhelmed him. What right had Don and
Professor Beck to encourage him as they had into thinking that the long
hard training would win him a place on the team and then to drop him
like a--like a hot penny because he had failed once or twice to come up
to their standard? He was so certain all the time that he could have
won if--if--what? What had been the trouble? He knit his brows and
stared hard across the river. He had had no trouble as to wind; his
legs had remained strong and tireless to the end; he had simply been
unable to run as fast at the finish as the others. Very well, then,
it only remained to learn how to save his strength so that he could
spurt hard in the last fifty yards. Why couldn’t they give him another
chance? In the midst of his musings Don came in. He tossed a pair of
grips on to the table and joined Wayne at the window. There was an
atmosphere of constraint in the study, and for a moment neither boy
spoke. Then Don broke the silence.

“I’m awfully sorry, Wayne.”

“Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter.”

There was another interval of silence. Then Don broke out with:

“But it does matter! I feel all broke up over it! It’s too bad, old
chap; that’s what it is. But perhaps it isn’t all up yet. I’m going to
try and get Beck to give you another try, Wayne. Don’t you think you
can do better?”

“Yes, I _know_ I can. I could have won easily to-day if--if-- The
trouble was I didn’t have any speed left at the finish; even Seers
passed me! Can’t I learn to save up for a spurt? I wasn’t tired; I
could have run another mile, I’m sure, Don.”

“Of course you can learn, if--if there is only time. You see, old chap,
there is only three weeks left. But I am going to see Beck, and I’ll
do all I can. I feel certain that you can beat that time to-day, and
better it, too. There has been a mistake somewhere; you haven’t been
worked right. And it’s Beck’s fault, I guess; at any rate, it isn’t
yours.”

“Oh, it’s nobody’s fault, I reckon; it’s just rotten luck!”

“No, luck doesn’t enter into it, Wayne. There’s been a mistake
somewhere; and I hope Beck will see it.” He paused and looked in a
troubled way at his chum. “Perhaps you think it is my fault, Wayne?” he
said wistfully. Wayne shook his head.

“No. I was rather blaming you and Beck a while ago, but I had no right
to. It isn’t your fault at all, Don, and don’t you worry about me;
you’ve got enough to attend to. I’ll be all right. Only if you don’t
mind speaking to Beck about it, you know----”

“Of course I will. Right away, too. All the fellows are asked to report
in Society House this evening at eight. Beck is going to announce the
names of the fellows who are to go to training table Monday, and some
of the grads are going to talk a bit. Remsen came to-day.”

“Who’s Remsen; the football man?”

“Yes, he used to coach the eleven. He’s a jolly nice fellow, and
awfully popular here. He’ll probably talk some, too. I hope he does;
he’s worth hearing. You’ll go, won’t you?”

“If I’m wanted; though, if I’m not going to be on the team, I don’t see
what use----”

“Of course you’re going on! So shut up and keep chipper. I promised
Beck to go to his room at five, and it’s nearly that time. Don’t get
blue, old chap; we’ll fix it all right!”

When the door had slammed to after Don the boy at the window sat a
long while looking out on to the darkening landscape. The river grew
to a deep violet with steel-gray ripples. The marsh became filled with
shadows, and the sun dropped behind the purple hills and left the
twilight cold and colorless. With a sigh and a shake of his broad
shoulders Wayne jumped up, pulled down the shades, and lighted the gas.
He seized the first book that came to hand, a Greek Testament, and
settled himself resolutely in the armchair.

“If Beck won’t give me another show,” he muttered as he found his
place, “I’ll go ahead and train on my own hook. And I’ll cut that old
mile down to five minutes even if I have to work all day. And then
they’ll _have_ to take me on!”



CHAPTER XXI

REMSEN’S PLEDGE


The tiny hall in Society House was crowded when Wayne and Don entered
at a little before eight. All the candidates for the track team, the
crew, the football team, and the baseball nine were there, and a group
of five graduates were talking together by the stage. At the latter
Wayne looked with some curiosity. Gardiner topped them all by half
a head. Kirk, the old baseball player, looked like a pygmy beside
him. Don pointed out the others: Barret, the renowned hurdler; Burns,
once a famous sprinter; and Kenyon, holder of the intercollegiate
two-hundred-and-twenty-yard record. Paddy joined them and the three
found seats near the front. Then Dave entered and squeezed into a
three-inch space between Wayne and Paddy.

“How’d they go, Dave?” asked Don.

“Rotten; I can’t throw a hammer. I used to think I could, but----” He
shook his head sadly.

“Go on wid yer,” said Paddy. “Yez kin bate thim all if yez ’ud only
think so.--But what in the name of goodness was the matter with you
to-day?” he asked, turning to Wayne. Wayne smiled cheerfully and shook
his head.

“Blest if I know, Paddy. I guess I’m like Dave; I used to think I
could run, but----” He shook his head in mimicry of Dave and wiped an
imaginary tear from his eye.

“Well, you’re all a sorry lot,” said Paddy in disgust. “All except
Don, and he can’t help winning, hang him!” Further compliments were
interrupted by the appearance of Professor Beck and the former football
coach, Stephen Remsen. Paddy jumped to his feet.

“Now then, fellows,” he cried, facing the hall, “three times three for
Remsen!” The cheers were given with a will and the recipient bowed his
thanks smilingly. Then Professor Beck took the platform, and, after a
few words of criticism on the day’s events, read the training table
list. Sixteen fellows were selected to go to “Mother” Burke’s in the
village, and twelve were named for a table in the school dining room.
Wayne’s name was on neither list and he shot an inquiring glance at
Don. The latter whispered:

“It’s all right. You’ll go to table later.”

Two of the graduates, fine, healthy-looking men, took their turns
after the professor and pointed out some defects in the afternoon’s
performances, spoke encouragingly to the fellows, and were cheered as
they took their seats. Then Remsen arose and the little audience became
on the instant as quiet as though made up of so many wax figures.
Remsen was more than a Hillton graduate, more than a successful
coach; he was a sort of school deity whom successive classes had long
worshiped. In his school days he had been stroke in a winning crew, had
excelled with the weights, and had been captain of the football eleven
when it had devastated the surrounding country of laurels. These things
are enough to place a man’s name high on the roster of fame and to earn
him gratitude. But besides this Remsen had been football coach for
three years, during which time the team had won two victories from and
played a tie with St. Eustace; and always, ever since his graduation,
he had labored unceasingly for the school and had done more than any
other individual toward establishing its athletics on a firm, stable,
and honest basis.

In appearance he was about thirty years of age, and “football man”
was stamped all over his well-built frame. He was the kind of man for
whom one would have predicted success in whatever undertaking he had
entered. His face was handsome and manly; his eyes gray and clear; and
his smile worth seeing. Hillton was proud of him, from its principal to
its smallest junior, and he was proud of Hillton. When the fellows had
stopped clapping he began to speak.

“I’ve been asked by your principal to say a few words to you this
evening. I make this statement before I begin, so that if I bore you,
you will know where to lay the blame. Mr. Kenyon and Mr. Barret have
told you some things that it will be worth your while to remember and
to profit by; because they know just what they are talking about.
But if I undertook to criticise what I saw this afternoon--aside from
the work of the fellows who scattered the hammers and shots around--I
should be out of my depth; I wouldn’t know a hurdle from a stop-watch
if I met them together. What little I know about weights I am willing
to talk about. But I’ll do that to-morrow, when I hope to meet the
weight men on the campus. And as to football, why, if there is anything
that Mr. Gardiner has forgotten to say I’ll be glad to say it before I
leave.

“To-night I should like to say a few words about training and athletics
in general. I am glad to see so much interest displayed in the
approaching interscholastic meeting. I hope we’ll win it. We’ve lost
it with good grace for two years past; I think we could win it with
even better grace. But if we don’t come out on top this spring, why,
I’m sure that we can give the other schools some points in the art of
losing. It’s a great thing to be able to lose well; much greater than
being able to win well. I think we do both well here at Hillton, but
there may be room for improvement; there usually is everywhere. It’s
fine to win. I’d rather win any day than to lose. But I don’t always
manage it. And it’s got to be the same way with a track team or a
football eleven or a crew. Sometimes it has got to come in second;
perhaps third. If no crew was willing to accept second place there
wouldn’t be any races, and soon there wouldn’t be any crews.

“I have a youngster at home; he isn’t very big yet--just put on his
first pair of trousers the other day--but he looks a good deal like a
football man already. Some day I expect he’ll come here to school. If
he does I hope he will row on the crew and play on the eleven or the
nine, and, if he can, run well or leap the hurdles. But if I had my way
I’d fix his victories and defeats for him in about a proportion of one
victory to nine defeats. For it isn’t winning that helps a fellow get a
good hard grip on the world, but losing. Yes, fellows, a boy or a man
will learn more wisdom--good, useful, every-day wisdom--in one defeat
than he will in nine victories. It would be a hard course for Remsen,
Jr., but it would make a better man out of him in the end than would a
whole eight years of first prizes. So don’t despise defeat, as long as
it is honorable. Learn to make the most of it. Don’t feel down-hearted
for more than two minutes and a half; that’s quite long enough for
regrets. Cheer the victors, and go back and try again. Don’t blame the
other man because he won--it was probably your own fault; but shake
hands with him and, if you must, tell him to look out for his laurels
next time. Defeat ought to teach us courage, perseverance, manliness,
good temper, and self-possession--all good things to learn. As I look
back on my school and college days I can remember occasions when I won
bigger victories through defeat than when I rowed in a winning crew or
played on a winning team.

“But that’s enough about losing. You’ll think that I’m a bird of ill
omen, I’m afraid. So let’s talk about something else. I wonder how many
of you fellows realize the fact that all the hard work and training you
have gone through with and are still undergoing is not, after all, a
preparation toward winning a track meeting or a boat race? Did you ever
stop to ask yourselves what the right aim of athletics is--what the
chief aim should be? Some of you will answer: ‘That’s easy; the chief
aim of athletics is winning.’ Wrong; the true aim of all athletics,
the world around, is physical culture. Winning is of small importance;
contests are only incentives. We go in for athletics because we wish
to attain to a condition of physical fitness that will allow us to
make the most of our lives. Athletics without training is useless; it
will accomplish almost nothing good. I use the word training here in
its fullest meaning: moderation in diet and exercise, temperance and
regularity in daily life, cleanliness and self-restraint. We train in
order that the actual athletics will benefit us. I might go through
the most approved course of chest-weight and dumb-bell exercise, but
if, as soon as it was over, I went to the table and stuffed my stomach
full of indigestible food, drank a lot of liquor, smoked a lot of
cigarettes or cigars, stayed up every night until one or two o’clock,
took no outdoor exercise and breathed impure air all day, why, I might
as well let the chest weights alone so far as any benefit is concerned.
Athletics require training, whether we are going to compete in sports
or not; and training means power to perform hard tasks with a modicum
of fatigue and often with enjoyment; it enables the body to endure
hardships, heat, cold, or fasting, without becoming endangered, and it
clears the cobwebs out of the brain.

“Unusual strains without previous preparation will often prove
injurious. Training prepares us for those strains; our ability to meet
them increases as the training advances. The best training is that
which trains all parts of the body in unison. Don’t allow your exercise
to develop one physical portion of your body at the cost of any other;
because you are going to throw weights don’t neglect your leg muscles;
because you are going to try for the one-hundred-yard dash don’t
neglect your arms. In short, avoid becoming a ‘specialist’ as much as
possible. Keep in mind the fact that general health and not success at
one feat is the end of athletic training.

“I’m doing a good deal more talking than I intended to, and I dare say
I’m boring you badly, just as I feared I should. But there is one more
thing that I want to touch on while I’ve got you where you can’t get
away, and that----”

“Go on! We like it!” shouted a boy at the back of the room; and the
audience clapped and laughed its approval.

“Well, that’s very good of you,” Remsen continued smilingly. “But I’m
about through. If I was--well, a kind of athletic dictator in this
country, I should require from every fellow a verbal signature to
this pledge: ‘I will always play fair!’ It isn’t a very long pledge,
but it means a good deal, as you will see if you’ll consider it. If
every schoolboy, whether an athlete or a grind, and every college man
would sign it and stick to it, we’d never hear of one school’s having
‘severed athletic relations’ with another; there’d be no brawling
in football games, and we’d never see the charge of professionalism
brought against a college. And it is a pledge that we need not leave
behind us when we graduate; it’s a good pledge to stick to right
through life.

“I have no fault to find with Hillton athletes on the score of
unfairness. I earnestly believe that athletics are pure here; but I’m
not going to assume any ‘holier than thou’ attitude; and I hope you
won’t. Let us keep them as pure as we can and give an unobtrusive
lesson to other schools--yes, and colleges. That’s all I’ve got to say,
fellows. I thank you for listening so kindly.”

Ere the cheer had started Don was on his feet.

“Mr. Remsen,” he cried, “won’t you put that pledge to us? I’m sure
every fellow here will sign it gladly.”

A chorus of assent arose and much clapping. Remsen turned back to the
audience and held up his hand.

“You’ve heard what Cunningham has said. Nothing would please me more
than to have you all accept that pledge. Shall I put it to you?”

One deep, hearty “Yes” swept through the room.

“Very well. Suppose you take the pledge by rising. If there are any
here who for any reason prefer not to pledge themselves I hope they
will keep their seats without any embarrassment. There may be some here
to-night who are so certain of their ability to always act rightly that
they will not deem a pledge necessary. I shall think no less of those
who decline to go through the form.”

The speaker paused and looked about the hall, a smiling brightness in
his gray eyes.

“Then after me, fellows, and rise. ‘I will always play fair.’”

“I will always play fair.” The response was earnest and hearty, and
before the last word had died away every person in the hall was on his
feet--graduates, Professor Beck, and all; not a person remained seated.

Stephen Remsen looked for a moment into the dozens of earnest faces
before him. Then: “God send we can keep that pledge!” he said soberly.

Whereupon “Pigeon” Wallace leaped on to a chair and the cheering began.



CHAPTER XXII

DAVE IS MADE HAPPY


On Monday Wayne went to the track at three o’clock and found Professor
Beck instructing the broad jumpers who were tearing up the newly turned
loam with great gusto. A freckled-faced boy came hurtling through the
air and plumped ankle-deep in the brown soil, and the professor held
the end of the tape to the heel mark.

“Twenty-one feet seven and a half, Gaffney,” he announced. “That will
do for to-day. Take your run on the track, and don’t let yourself get
stiff.” He moved the rake which he held over the loam, obliterating the
marks, and turned to Wayne.

“Well, my boy, Cunningham tells me that you’re not satisfied with
Saturday’s results. You think you can do considerably better if you
keep on, do you?”

“Yes, sir, I’m sure of it.”

“Very well. I’ll tell you what we’ve decided to do. We’ll go ahead as
before, except that we’ll give more attention to short distances, and
a week from Wednesday I’ll give you a trial over the mile. If you can
do it in 5.15 we’ll send you to training table, and if you continue to
improve you’ll go with the team. But first you’ve got to go around the
track six times with your arms swinging; after you have got so that you
can do that and do it with a decent amount of speed we’ll go on. Does
that satisfy you?”

“Yes, sir. May I run now?”

“As soon as you like.”

Wayne threw aside his wraps and limbered up. In a few moments he
trotted back.

“All ready, sir.”

“Never mind the pistol; start yourself. I’ll keep an eye on you.” Wayne
looked down threateningly at each hand, got on the mark and sprang away.

“Take it easy, Gordon,” called the professor, “and remember those arms!”

The arms behaved nicely until Wayne fell to wondering how fast he was
going; then they strode up to his breast and remained unnoticed for a
hundred yards. After that the boy kept one eye on the track and one on
his arms and finally finished the three quarters.

“Hard work, was it?” asked Professor Beck with a smile.

“Yes, sir, kind of. But it won’t be so hard next time.”

“All right. Get your coat on and keep moving for a while. Then try the
starts with the others.”

The next afternoon Wayne did a half mile in good time with his hands
and arms where they belonged, and after that for the rest of the week
the training went on as theretofore, save that he was put over numerous
short distances to develop his speed and substituted three-mile walks
for the usual runs across country. He made progress almost at once; on
Wednesday he covered the four hundred and forty yards in 0.56⅗, and
began to consider himself something of a sprinter, even though the
first man in the race reached the tape in 0.52⅕. He was on the track
every day that week except Thursday and Saturday; on Thursday he was
ordered off by Professor Beck and told to rest, and on Saturday he went
over the road for a stiff walk with several other long-distance men.

It was while he was crossing the green to the gymnasium after that walk
that Dave lumbered across the turf toward him, swinging his sweater
excitedly around his head.

“One hundred and forty-six!” he yelled exultantly.

“Who? What?” asked Wayne.

“Me! The hammer!” answered Dave, smiting the other joyfully on the back
with a force that nearly upset him. “I threw it!”

“Really? I’m awfully glad. How’d it happen?”

“Why, you see--well, I don’t quite know. But Remsen’s been coaching
us every day since Monday, as you know. He’s told me all along that
there was something wrong with my swing, but he couldn’t tell what. But
to-day he grabbed the hammer away from me, told me to watch it, and
sent it spinning. Well, I noticed that he did one thing that I didn’t:
when he let go he gave a peculiar jerk to his body. Of course, I’ve
known about it--they call it ‘putting the devil into the swing’--but
somehow I never could manage it right. But to-day I saw how it was
done--it’s in the way you manage your feet--and I yelled: ‘I see, I
see! Let me have it!’ At first I couldn’t do it at all. When I tried to
bring my right foot round after the third swing I forgot to let go at
the right moment. But the next time I did it, and threw a hundred and
forty-two. Then Remsen swung again and I watched. And the next time I
piled two feet six inches on to it; and the next throw was a hundred
and forty-six and a fraction. I’d be throwing yet if Remsen hadn’t
taken the hammer away and sent me home.” Dave laughed happily. “You
wait until to-morrow, Wayne. Why, now that I’ve learned that little
trick I bet I can beat Hardy by two feet!”

“Well, I’m awfully glad,” said Wayne, “and I hope you will. Does Don
know?”

“No; he and Beck went off together just before.”

“Let’s go up to the room; perhaps he’s there.”

They had finished their dressing by this time, and they piled upstairs
and across the green to Bradley. Don was sitting at the table with a
litter of papers before him, all the gas burning, and the afternoon
twilight streaming in through the windows.

“Well, what----” began Wayne.

“Figuring our chances, my boy,” answered Don, rumpling his hair with
nervous fingers.

“How are they?” asked Dave eagerly.

“Slim, mighty slim. I can’t see anything but defeat and a second place
on the ticket.”

“Let me see.” Dave took up a sheet of foolscap and cast his eyes over
it.

“Read it out,” said Wayne.

“Well, let’s see; here we are: Hillton, 4 firsts, 5 seconds, 1 third,
total 36 points; St. Eustace, 6 firsts, 5 seconds, 1 third, total 46
points; others, 2 firsts, 2 seconds, 9 thirds, total 26 points. You
seem to be fond of 6’s, Don.”

“What counts what?” asked Wayne.

“First counts 5, second 3, third 1. There are twelve events and 108
points,” answered Don. “I’ve given Hillton everything she can win, and
one first that is doubtful. Of course, St. Eustace may be stronger or
weaker than I think. But, pshaw! the whole thing’s just guess work; we
may not score 20 points, or we may possibly get 40; you can never tell.
But Beck wanted a guess at it.”

“Well, I’ll tell you where you can get five points more,” said Dave.
“You’ve credited us with second place in the hammer throw and St.
Eustace with first. You can give us first and second both.”

“How’s that?” asked Don.

“Why, I’ve just thrown over one hundred and forty-six feet, and I can
better it by two more in a couple of days.” And Dave retold his story.
Don bit the end of his pencil thoughtfully; then he referred to a sheet
of figures before him.

“I guess you’re right, Dave. By Jove, I am glad! Trowbridge, of
Northern Collegiate, threw one hundred and forty-eight feet five inches
last year; Sumner, of St. Eustace, one hundred and forty-seven even. If
you can throw two feet better than you did to-day, Dave, we’ll stand a
chance to beat St. Eustace, at least. Give me that list. There, that
makes it--why, it makes St. Eustace and us each forty-one points!”

“Well, that’s more than a fighting chance.”

“Yes. But what’s the good of figuring on track meetings? Any one of
those other five schools might upset this whole table of figures.”

“Yes, I suppose so. But let’s hope for the best; it doesn’t cost any
more,” answered Dave cheerfully. Don bundled away his papers, and, with
the result of his labors in hand, went out with Dave on his way to
Professor Beck’s room. Left to himself, Wayne got his books together,
drew a half-finished thesis toward him, and started to work. Presently
he stopped and knit his brows. Then he chewed the end of his pen as
an aid to memory, and at length went to the bookcase and turned over
several volumes, apparently without finding the information he desired.
At that moment a knock sounded and Carl Gray entered.

“Hello!” cried Wayne. “Say, Gray, when did the insurrection of Cylon
take place?”

“Oh, about a couple of thousand years ago, I guess.”

“But what year was it?”

“Well, let me see; 357 B. C., wasn’t it? No; that was the war of the
Athenian league. I guess I don’t know, Gordon.”

“Shucks! I’ll have to go over to the library.”

“Well, wait a minute and I’ll go with you. I brought these up.” He took
a package from his pocket and laid it on the table; Wayne picked it up,
and undoing the paper covering revealed a pair of new cork grips.

“They’re for you,” said Gray hurriedly. “I hope you’ll use them when
you win the mile at the interscholastic meet. They’re not very well
made; I had to use big stoppers, and they were sort of coarse grained.”

“Why, they’re simply immense,” said Wayne. He took one in each hand
and gripped his fingers about them. “I’m awfully much obliged. And of
course I’ll use ’em, whether I win or lose, Gray. But how in the world
could you make ’em?”

“Oh, you just cut the cork out in sections and glue them over a piece
of wood, you know. Then you shape it with a sharp knife and sort of
polish it off with fine sandpaper or emery. It’s easy enough, and I’m
glad you like them.”

“You bet I do! They’re fine! Thanks, awfully.”

“Gordon, I wish you weren’t so full of thanks; you tire me to death!”
said Gray, trying to mimic Wayne’s manner. Wayne grinned.

“Now we’re even. Come over to the library with me.”

“No,” said Gray, as they went downstairs, “we’re not even. And we
sha’n’t be for a long time. And that reminds me.” He pulled a coin out
of his pocket and handed it to Wayne. “I sha’n’t be here a week from
Saturday, you know; we go to Marshall to play St. Eustace.”

“That’s the last of them, isn’t it?” asked Wayne as he dropped the
dollar into his pocket.

“Yes, that’s the last. And thank you ever so much, Gordon. Did I tell
you last week that I’d been sending a little money home to my mother
ever since I got those first golf balls to fix? Yes, and I know she’s
tickled about it. You wouldn’t think that a fellow could make money in
school, would you?”

“Some fellows could, and some couldn’t,” answered Wayne. “Do you get
any balls to mend nowadays?”

“Yes, quite often; and a good many clubs. I’ve got so I can put a new
shaft on to a head in fine style.”

“But you must have turned your room into a regular carpenter shop,”
laughed the other.

“No; I use a corner of the carriage room in the stable. Mr. Vance
doesn’t charge me anything for it; he’s awfully kind. You might come
over and see my ‘repair shop’ some day.”

“I will, and I’ll bring a club of Don’s that has the leather hanging
by the skin of its teeth; it’s a disgrace to the study and ought to be
fixed.”

They had reached the library, and Wayne went to the shelves and began a
hunt.

“Find one of those epitome things,” suggested Gray.

“Where are they? Oh, I see.” He laid his hand on a volume, but as he
did so his eyes encountered the title of the one next it. “Ploetz’s
Epitome of Universal History,” he read. “Who was it spoke of that
once?” He took the book down and withdrew to the window. As he did so
the volume opened apparently of its own accord at the three hundred and
fifty-second page.

“Well, I’ll be switched!” cried Wayne.

“What’s up?” asked his companion, coming toward him.

“Why--er--nothing at all. I guess I’ll take this with me.”

Together they passed out, and parted at the corner of the gymnasium.
Wayne hurried on to Turner Hall and sprang up two flights of stairs.

“I hope Benson’s in,” he said to himself as he knocked lustily at the
door of No. 36. He was, and in a moment Wayne was crossing the study
toward where the occupant sat by the open window reading something
which looked but little like a text-book.

“Hello, Gordon!” cried Benson. “Glad to see you; sit down and be
happy.” For reply Wayne opened the library book and laid it face up on
the window seat.

“What’s--” began Benson; then he stopped with a gasp. On the open pages
rested a new two-dollar bill, folded once. “Did you find it there?” he
asked in bewilderment. Wayne nodded.

“Well!” Benson took the bill and felt of it as though doubting its
genuineness. “I must have slipped it in there to mark my place when
Gray came in that day!”

“You must have,” answered Wayne dryly. Benson flushed and looked
worried.

“By Jove, Gordon, I’m awfully sorry! Such a stupid thing to do! I
remember now that I took the book back that evening just before supper,
and I suppose I didn’t open it once. Do you think I ought to apologize
to Gray?”

“No, he doesn’t know but that you found it long ago; you know I told
him you had. No, there’s nothing to do but grab the money and put it
somewhere where it won’t get lost. You see, Benson, I don’t want to be
accused of taking it away with me,” he added unkindly.

“Oh, I say, Gordon, let up!”

“All right,” laughed Wayne, “we’ll forget it. I’ll take the book with
me. And, by the way, if you feel that you’d like to make up to Gray
for--for suspecting him, you know, why, bust a golf club or two and let
him mend them.”

On the stairs of Bradley Wayne encountered Paddy, who threw his arms
about him and hugged him ecstatically.

“Hurrah! He’s gone! He’s went! He’s departed!”

“Who?” gasped Wayne.

“Gardiner, the great, good, and only Gardiner! He took the 2.30 for
home, and now I can get some peace and quiet. Honest Injun, Wayne, if
he had stayed another week I should have been a gibbering idiot and
gone around cutting people’s throats with a long, keen blade!”

“Oh, dry up,” laughed Wayne. “Have you been upstairs? Is Don there?”

“I have. He is not. Come, let us go to the village and celebrate at
Caper’s on soda water. Let us speed the parting guest. Gardiner’s all
right, Wayne, but, ah, he’s terrible onaisy.”

“I don’t believe I’m supposed to drink soda water, Paddy, but I’ll go
and watch you. Have you seen Dave lately?”

“No, what’s he been up to?”

“He’s been breaking his own record with the hammer.”

When Paddy heard the facts he was delighted, and proved it by dancing
from side to side of the dusty roadway until out of breath.

“Old Dave will be pleased to death,” he panted. “He’s been awfully in
the dumps since the handicaps. My, but I do hope he’ll win out at the
interscholastic!”

And then they went on to the village and sought out the tiny shop
where the enticing sign “Ice Cream Soda” flanked the doorway. And Paddy
drank one of chocolate flavor in honor of Gardiner’s departure and one
of strawberry in celebration of Dave’s success.

The following Wednesday afternoon Wayne went over the mile, while
Professor Beck and Don and a little group of fellows looked on and
cheered his progress after each lap. He put his whole mind and energy
into the task, and never altered the hard pace he had set himself up to
the last half of the last quarter, despite the warnings of Don and the
professor, who both timed him.

“He’s going too fast, I’m afraid,” said Don sorrowfully.

“I fear so,” answered the professor. “But maybe he knows what he can
do; he’s improved wonderfully since the handicaps.”

When the last lap began Wayne let himself out just a trifle until at
the end of the back stretch the little group was staring in surprise
from the watches to the runner.

“He’s done it easily,” cried Don. “And look! Hanged if he isn’t
spurting!”

Down the stretch came Wayne, his head back, his arms at his side, and
running as though he was being paced by a steam engine. Over the line
he dashed and the two watches stopped.

“Five minutes eight and a fifth seconds!” cried Don.

“Five minutes eight and a fifth seconds!” echoed the professor. The
crowd clapped as Wayne trotted back, panting and flushed but evidently
unwearied; and Don patted him joyfully on the shoulder.

“Eight and a fifth, Wayne!” he cried. Wayne looked for confirmation to
the professor, who nodded as he dropped his watch back into his pocket.

“That will do for to-day, Gordon. Report at training table in the
morning,” he said.

Nine days later the track team, together with Professor Beck and
two graduate coaches, assembled after supper in the gymnasium, were
cheered individually and collectively by their schoolmates, and were
conveyed to the station, where they embarked on the Pacific Express
for the up-State city which was on the morrow to be the scene of the
interscholastic meeting.

And with them went the hopes of Hillton.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE INTERSCHOLASTIC MEET


It had rained in the night, and the young grass was intensely green
in the great oval; the quarter mile of cinder track, fresh from the
rollers, was smooth, firm, and springy, and the newly turned mold
before the vaulting standard gave forth a pleasant odor beneath
the rakes. The lime marks and circles shone glaring white in the
afternoon sunlight and the bright colors of bonnet and dress and wrap
vied in brilliancy with the banners of the contesting schools--with
the deep blue of St. Eustace, the brown of Warrenton, the blue and
white of Northern Collegiate, the maroon of Maddurn Hall, the green
of Shrewsburg, the purple and white of Thracia Polytechnic, and the
crimson of Hillton.

The blue and white was most in evidence, for the Northern Collegiate
students were on home ground, while the others were visitors from
far and near. The collegiate band was discoursing brazen two steps,
the circling grand stands were buzzing with talk and laughter, the
officials were hurrying, scurrying, hither and thither, and from near
by, behind the unlovely high board fences, the electric cars droned
and clanged as they drew up to the entrance and discharged their loads.
And overhead arched a softly blue May sky just flecked with tiny wads
of cottonlike clouds. Northern Collegiate might have drawn a fair
augury from that sky.

The clerk of the course was busy placing the runners for the first
trial heat of the one-hundred-yard dash. Presently the long line was
crouching on the mark, the pistol sounded, and the interscholastic
meeting had begun. Other trial heats followed until the contestants for
the sprints and the hurdles were sifted down to a few for each event.
Meanwhile the broad jumpers were busy at the standard, and in the oval
a little group were preparing for the shot putting.

The mile run was down on the card as the last event, and Wayne, who was
entered for that only, looked on from the far side of the field, one of
a group of many, in front of the dressing room. Paddy, who had in some
way smuggled himself inside the ropes, sat beside him.

“We can’t see very much from here,” observed Paddy.

“Why don’t you go across, then?”

“I’m afraid that marshal will ask me embarrassing questions; he’s been
glaring at me suspiciously for the last ten minutes. They’re fixing the
low hurdles over there; hope Don will win. He looked worried a while
ago, I thought.”

“I reckon he’s all right,” answered Wayne. “He was put out about
Gaffney.”

“What’s the matter with Gaff?”

“Ankles lame or sore or something. Don was afraid he wouldn’t be able
to jump much. But I guess he’s doing well enough.”

“They’re on the mark; three of them! Don and Perkins, and a St. Eustace
chap.”

“Varian, I reckon. Don said he’d get second or third at least.”

“There they go!” The report of the pistol floated across the field to
where the boys were sitting. “Don’s taken the lead already! Go it, old
fellow!”

And Don, though he couldn’t possibly hear Paddy’s command, nevertheless
“went it” so well that at the sixth hurdle he was ten yards to the
good, with Perkins close behind him. The white forms flashed up and
down in the sunlight for a moment longer; then the race was over, and
Hillton had begun the day bravely by capturing a first and a second,
scoring eight points to St. Eustace’s one.

But Fortune’s face is ever turning, and in the next event, the
one-hundred-yard dash, St. Eustace took first place and Hillton failed
to score, the rest of the points going to Northern Collegiate’s speedy
sprinters. But in the four hundred and forty yards Hillton took both
first and second again, increasing her lead by eight more units and
leaving her dreaded rival far behind.

And so it went, Dame Fortune smiling and frowning alternately on the
wearers of the crimson, until the sun had begun to drop back of the
city roofs. Of the track events Hillton had now won three firsts, two
seconds, and one third; St. Eustace, two firsts and three thirds; and
the two schools had divided five points in the half-mile run, Whitehead
having finished side by side with Brown, of St. Eustace, after a spurt
down the cinders that brought the grand stand cheering to its feet.

Don had won the high hurdles in magnificent style from a Polytechnic
youth by a short yard, a St. Eustace hurdler securing third place.
Warrenton and St. Eustace had fought desperately for the tape in the
two-hundred-and-twenty-yard dash, and the latter had gained a close
decision, Hillton taking third place. Hillton had done well in the
hurdles, fairly so in the middle distances, and poorly in the dashes;
St. Eustace had excelled in the dashes and had failed to win better
than third place in the hurdles.

The field events had sprung some surprises on the wearers of the
crimson. The pole vault had netted them nothing, the deep blue having
taken eight points and Northern Collegiate one.

Gaffney’s weak ankle had interfered to some extent with his performance
in the broad jump, and his best try, twenty-one feet eight inches and
a half, only secured three points for his school, St. Eustace scoring
first place. Again, in the high jump, the latter academy had excelled
and both first and second places had gone to her clever youngsters.

In the shot putting both St. Eustace and Hillton had failed signally,
although the latter had managed to capture third place, Northern
Collegiate, in the person of a big, broad-shouldered youth, easily
winning the event and breaking the only record of the meeting, with a
put of forty-seven feet six inches. And so, with the hammer throw still
to be decided, and the mile yet to be run, the scores stood:

    St. Eustace, 36½;
    Hillton, 29½;
    Northern Collegiate, 11;
    Scattering, 14.

But the hopes of the Hillton supporters were bright, for St. Eustace
had already dropped out of the hammer throw, and only Trowbridge, of
Northern Collegiate, and Dave and Hardy had qualified for the finals;
Trowbridge with a throw of one hundred and forty-three feet, Dave with
one of one hundred and forty-two feet eight inches, and Hardy with one
of one hundred and forty feet four inches. And now Trowbridge had the
ball and wire for his final tries.

Victory seemed already his, and his freckled face held an expression of
radiant confidence. The previous competitors, together with the judges
and the scorer and a few privileged college men, watched with interest
as he swung the weight around with long arms and sent it flying across
the turf. Then the tape was moved over, and in a moment the distance
was announced:

“Hundred and forty-six feet three inches.”

Trowbridge shrugged his shoulders as he took the hammer for the next
attempt and put more speed into the swing. But he used his feet poorly
and the figures dropped back to three inches under one hundred and
forty-five feet. A shade of uneasiness darkened the confident face, and
Trowbridge set his lips tightly as he raised the weight. Then the long
arms whirled, the body spun around, and the hammer whizzed through the
air. The tape was laid to the ground.

“Hundred and forty-seven feet nine inches,” said a judge.

Trowbridge stepped from the ring with a scowl, and Dave took his place.
As the Hillton lad gripped his hammer his eyes fell on Paddy, who had
joined the little throng, his desire to witness Dave’s work having
overcome his fear of the marshal. Paddy grinned encouragement, and
Dave, with a lurking smile on his serious countenance, responded with a
portentous wink. Then the hammer went up, swung around in its widening
circle, and flew away.

“Hundred and forty-three feet three inches.”

Once more, and again the tape and the careful measurement.

“Hundred and forty-eight feet five inches.”

A ripple of surprise and applause went through the audience. Trowbridge
looked sad. Paddy executed a quiet dance at the edge of the throng.
Back came the hammer. Dave gripped it with an air of determination,
and placed his feet with greater care than before. Up went the weight,
around spun the boy like a dervish, once, twice, thrice; there was a
sudden quick stiffening of the muscles, a set to the shoulders, and the
twelve pounds of iron sped away at a tangent and ripped the sod at a
point farther from the circle than any preceding throw.

“One hundred and forty-nine feet one inch,” announced the judges. Dave
had won first place for Hillton.

He stepped out, dragging his beloved hammer after him, with a face that
strove hard to hide his happiness. Hardy clapped him on the back as he
passed to join Paddy, and the latter beamed upon him like the Cheshire
cat. Hardy went in, glad of Dave’s victory over Trowbridge, but hoping
for a victory, in turn, over Dave. But that was not to be. His first
throw was a sorry attempt; his second scarcely better. But at the third
try he put his whole soul into the task and his whole weight behind the
flying ball, and when the judges stepped back they announced:

“One hundred and forty-eight feet eleven inches.”

“Eight points to Hillton!” cried some one, and several boys clapped
loudly. Then the group broke up, Dave, Hardy, and Paddy mingling with
the crowd that flowed across toward the dressing room, joy in their
hearts.

“Ready for the mile!” called a voice, and in answer a squad of boys
trotted across the field toward the starting point. Wayne and Whitehead
were in the van and Paddy waved to them as they passed.

“Go in and win, Old Virginia!” And Wayne nodded smilingly, and hoped
that his face wasn’t quite as white as it felt. Professor Beck, Don,
and two Hillton coaches were waiting, and Don helped him off with his
coat, and trotted along beside him while he limbered up.

“Wayne, this is what you’ve got to do,” he whispered. “Get to the front
as soon as you can and look for Sturgis. If he’s ahead, stay with him
no matter what pace he sets. If he’s behind, wait for him. Pay no
attention to any others. It doesn’t matter who wins as long as St.
Eustace doesn’t get a place. Sturgis is their only man that we need
fear; so freeze to him, and don’t let him get away from you. Look out
for tricks, though, for St. Eustace is going to try them, I’m sure. If
she can get first or second men in she’ll have us beaten; if she can
win third place she’ll tie us. Win if you can, but, whatever happens,
_down Sturgis_!”

“Hurry up, milers!” called the clerk of the course. Don gave Wayne an
affectionate clap on the shoulder.

“Go in, old man,” he whispered, “and remember Hillton every minute!”

There were twelve entries for the mile. St. Eustace, beside her crack
long-distance runner Sturgis, had entered House and Gould, both men
to be feared. Hillton was represented by Wayne and Whitehead, both
new men and inexperienced; Hillton’s chances were not considered very
good by the other schools. Northern Collegiate and Shrewsburg had each
entered two runners, and the other schools were represented by one man
apiece. Northern Collegiate was doing a deal of talking about a youth
named Pope, of whom little was known to the other schools, and who was
spoken of as a “dark horse” that stood a fair chance of winning. Wayne
found himself placed between Pope, who turned out to be a heavily-built
fellow of apparently nineteen, and a pale and nervous boy much younger
in years, whose brown ribbon bore in gold letters the emblem “W. A.
A. A.” Gould had the place next to the inner edge of the track, and
Sturgis and Whitehead were together near the outer edge.

The spectators had begun to leave the grounds and the stands already
presented little barren patches. The shadow of the small building
wherein was the dressing room stretched far across the oval, and the
sun was fast sinking behind the forest of roofs and chimneys in the
west. Contestants in previous events were dressed and stood about the
turf to watch the last and deciding struggle for the championship of
the year.

Pope was restively digging his toes into the path while the penalties
for false starting were being explained with much vehemence by the
starter. The Warrenton runner on Wayne’s left was working his arms
back and forth as though he was going to win the race on his hands
and feared his elbows would get stiff. Wayne himself was undeniably
nervous. It was his first appearance in a public contest, barring the
cross-country run at Hillton the preceding autumn, and the thought of
what failure would mean was beginning to take the starch out of him.
But nervousness was the one thing that had been prohibited above all
others; and so he tried to forget about the possibilities of failure
and had begun to wonder, without much interest in the problem, how
many men it required to keep the grass cut on the big oval when the
starter’s voice brought his thoughts back at a leap.

“_On your mark!_”

Pope growled something to him about dull spikes and loose tracks, but
Wayne made no answer. He was looking straight ahead down the broad
path, his thoughts in a tumult.

“_Set!_”

Twelve bodies leaned farther forward and there was a perceptible sound
of intaking breath up and down the line. Then, when it seemed to many
that another moment of suspense would make them shout or dance or do
something else equally ridiculous, _bang!_ went the pistol, and the
line leaped forward and broke into fragments as the runners sped away.



CHAPTER XXIV

WON AT THE FINISH


Wayne had made a good beginning; he was already, ere the timers’
watches had ticked thrice, well in toward the left of the track and one
of the first five men. He looked for Sturgis and found that dreaded
youth close beside him. Before them were Pope, a Maddurn Hall boy, and
the pale-faced youngster who had stood beside Wayne. Pope was making
the pace, a rather fast one it seemed, and was running with a great
expenditure of strength. Sturgis kept beside Wayne until the turn;
then, as the latter took the inside edge, he fell in behind. Wayne
wished devoutly that he would go ahead. He didn’t like the pace, which
was too fast for the first quarter of a mile race, and he would have
preferred to have been farther in the rear. When the back stretch
began Wayne therefore decreased his speed a little. It had the desired
effect. In a few seconds Sturgis was beside him again; in a few more
he was a pace or two ahead. Wayne could not but admire the St. Eustace
boy’s running. He kept well up on his toes, his thighs moved seemingly
of their own volition, and his stride was all ease and swing.

At the next turn Sturgis ran close to the inner edge of the track and
Wayne dropped a pace or two farther back and cast a fleeting glance
over his shoulder. The balance of the contestants were strung pretty
well down the back stretch, but Whitehead was about midway between
first man and last. Pope had diminished his pace a little and the
Warrenton boy seemed anxious to take his place. Then the group about
the start was reached and cheers for the leader from the Collegiate
contingent rent the air; then one after another of the runners received
his applause and went by. Wayne caught a momentary glimpse of Paddy and
Don beside the track as he began the second quarter.

Save that the last of the runners began to straggle a little, there
was no change in the second quarter. Wayne held his place just behind
Sturgis and ran on with a steady, easy stride. Again the start was
reached and the race was half run.

“Time enough, Pope!” called a Collegiate coach, and at the same moment
Wayne saw from the corner of his eye a runner draw slowly up beside
him, hang there a second, and pass ahead. His colors proclaimed him
a Collegiate runner and Wayne watched him with interest. By the time
the turn was reached he was slightly behind the Warrenton boy, who was
still at second place. Then Pope swerved aside, Warrenton was in the
lead, with the second Collegiate runner close behind, and Pope had
dropped back to a position just ahead of Sturgis. And now Sturgis,
too, appeared desirous of falling back, for his pace diminished and
the distance between him and the leader grew. But Wayne refused the
invitation to pass and suited his speed to that of the wearer of the
blue.

Half of the third quarter had been left behind when Wayne heard steps
and the sound of breathing beside him again, and in another moment
Gould had spurted by and Wayne was obliged to swerve slightly in order
to avoid colliding with Sturgis, who upon the appearance of Gould had
again lessened his speed. Mindful of his orders, but full of doubt,
Wayne in turn fell back and Gould passed on and took the inner side
behind Pope. Sturgis was still back of Wayne, and the latter slowed up
yet more, striving to secure again a position behind the St. Eustace’s
crack. But Sturgis refused to take the lead. The Maddurn Hall boy was
dropping back fast, and at the middle of the turn Warrenton still
led, followed in order by the two Northern Collegiate runners, Gould,
Wayne, and Sturgis. As the home stretch began Gould drew ahead, running
superbly, and as the line was crossed he was in the lead by a dozen
yards or so, and St. Eustace cheers filled the air.

Then the last quarter began and found Wayne in perplexity. Gould was
every instant increasing his lead, although Pope and his fellow-runner
had taken up the chase. Warrenton was clearly out of it, and ere the
first turn was reached Gould, the two Northern Collegiate runners, and
Wayne were speeding along in the order named. Wayne was troubled.
He asked himself whether, orders or no orders, he should stay back
there when Gould was already thirty yards or more ahead of him and
still spurting. Don and the others had quite evidently overestimated
Sturgis’s importance and underestimated Gould’s. And if something was
not done and done speedily the race was already St. Eustace’s. As
though to aid him in his decision, Sturgis began to lag until, although
Wayne could not see him, he appeared to that anxious youth to be
practically out of the running.

“Here goes!” said Wayne to himself.

They were on the turn now and he left his place beside the inner edge
and passed Pope and was soon alongside the other Collegiate runner. The
latter gave him a hard race, but ere the back stretch was reached had
yielded second place, and Wayne dashed on in what seemed a hopeless
effort to reach Gould.

Back at the finish Don pulled his cap over his face and groaned.

“It’s all up; Wayne has fallen into the trap!” One of the Hillton
coaches said something under his breath, and Professor Beck frowned
grimly.

“But you told him?” asked the coach. “He had his orders?”

“Yes,” answered Don. “But you can see! And I suppose he’s not
altogether to blame; it was so smoothly done.”

The coach ground the turf under his heel. Across the oval, Gould had
almost reached the last turn, Wayne was some twenty yards behind him,
still running like a streak, and back of Wayne sped Sturgis, easily,
gracefully, taking his pace from the Hillton runner and covering the
ground without overexertion or worry. Behind him again streamed the
rest, Whitehead running side by side with Pope and a Shrewsburg chap
vainly trying to pass them. But Gould’s work was done, and at the
beginning of the turn he slowed up, weary and panting, and soon Wayne
had passed him, tuckered but happy.

There comes a moment in every long-distance race when the last ounce of
strength and endurance and the last breath seems to have been expended;
after that the runner simply performs the impossible. Wayne had reached
that moment. His legs ached, his breath tore itself from his lungs, and
it seemed that further effort was out of the question. But the finish
line was almost in sight, and so he gripped his moist fingers tighter
about the corks and hugged the edge of the cinders. At least, he told
himself, St. Eustace was beaten!

And then he heard the soft _pat_, _pat_, _pat_, of steps behind him,
and at the same instant cries of “St. Eustace! St. Eustace!” Not daring
to look behind, he struggled on in an agony of suspense until the turn
was left and the broad path stretched clear and straight before him
to the finish, where, strange and distorted to his strained eyes,
forms leaped and gesticulated beside the track. Then the pursuer drew
alongside and Wayne caught the gleam of deep blue ribbon, and could
have shouted aloud in rage and mortification had there been breath
enough in his body. In a flash he saw it all: Gould’s deceptive spurt,
his own blind idiotic credulity, and Sturgis’s pursuit, with him to
make the pace. St. Eustace had tricked him finely! For an instant the
thought of yielding presented itself, but only to be routed in the next
breath by a resolve to keep on, to contest the race to the very end, to
run until he dropped.

Sturgis was now a yard in the lead, running well, but he was by no
means fresh nor unwearied. Wayne gritted his teeth, gulped down a sob,
and put every muscle and nerve to the test. He remembered a remark of
Don’s: “When you are ready to drop, just think that the other man is
worse off, and keep going.”

“He is, he is!” Wayne told himself. “He’s done up! I can win! I _will_
win!”

The tape was close before them now. Sturgis was plainly in distress,
for he, too, had made a hard race. The crowd at the finish was
shrieking unintelligible things. Inch by inch the red ribbon was
winning its place beside the blue. Ten yards from the judges Wayne was
even with Sturgis; five yards more and he had gained, but scarcely
enough to be noticed by the throng.

“Hillton’s race! Come on, Gordon, _come on_!”

“St. Eustace wins! St. Eustace! St. Eustace!”

Sturgis threw his head back and strove to draw away, but Wayne, with
unseeing eyes, almost reeling, lifted his arms weakly, called upon the
last gasp of breath in his body, and hurled himself forward in a final
despairing effort. And then the little white tape was gone and he lay
in a tumbled heap upon the path.

“Hillton first,” announced the judges.

“Four minutes fifty-eight and four fifths,” said the timekeepers.

Hillton had won the interscholastic.



CHAPTER XXV

FINIS CORONAT OPUS


The victors sat at banquet. To be sure, as regarded variety of viand
and culinary excellence it left much to desire; in fact it was, I
believe, simply called “Dinner” on the _menu_ card. But it answered
all the purposes of a Roman feast. Victory presided, Happiness and
Merriment were the guests of honor, and Hunger waited at table.
Professor Beck was there, and one of the coaches, and Don, and Wayne,
and Whitehead, and Dave, and Gaffney, and Perkins, and Connor, and
Hardy, and Kendall, and several others; and every one talked as much
as he could and ate indiscriminately of all on the board, and was
wonderfully, radiantly joyful. The hotel management had given them
a little room to themselves; fortunately for the peace of the other
guests, for it was necessary to cheer loudly and often.

The events of the day were discussed from start to finish and the
official summary of the meeting was passed from hand to hand around the
board and the figures eagerly scanned.

“Great Cæsar!” muttered Don as he looked it over; “to think that two
points moved from the first column to the second would have beaten us!
It was a narrow squeak, Wayne; if you hadn’t finished a scant foot
ahead of Sturgis----”

“Let’s see it,” said Wayne. Don passed the sheet to him, and this is
what he saw:

                                   SUMMARY
 -------------------+--------+--------+--------+-------+-------+--------+-----
 1st place counts 5.|        |  St.   |Northern|Warren-|Shrews-|Thracia |Mad-
 2d place counts 3. |Hillton.|Eustace.| Colle- | ton.  | burg. | Poly-  |durn
 3d place counts 1. |        |        | giate. |       |       |technic.|Hall.
 -------------------+--------+--------+--------+-------+-------+--------+-----
 220-yard hurdles   |    8   |    1   |        |       |       |        |
 100-yard dash      |        |    5   |    4   |       |       |        |
 440-yard run       |    8   |    1   |        |       |       |        |
 120-yard hurdles   |    5   |    1   |        |       |       |    3   |
 880-yard run       |    2½  |    2½  |        |       |   3   |        |  1
 220-yard dash      |    1   |    5   |        |    3  |       |        |
 1-mile run         |    5   |    3   |        |    1  |       |        |
 Broad jump         |    3   |    5   |    1   |       |       |        |
 Pole vault         |        |    8   |    1   |       |       |        |
 High jump          |    1   |    8   |        |       |       |        |
 Putting 12-pound   |        |        |        |       |       |        |
 shot               |    1   |        |    5   |    3  |       |        |
 Throwing 12-pound  |        |        |        |       |       |        |
 hammer             |    8   |        |    1   |       |       |        |
                    +--------+--------+--------+-------+-------+--------+-----
 Total              |   42½  |   39½  |   12   |    7  |   3   |    3   |  1
 -------------------+--------+--------+--------+-------+-------+--------+-----

“It was close,” said Wayne, as he handed the summary on to Connor, who
sat at his right. “And,” he added in a low voice, “when I think how
nearly I lost the thing for you, Don, I feel like kicking myself back
to Hillton.”

At that moment the door was burst open and Paddy’s flushed and exultant
face peered in.

“Don’t want to bother you, fellows,” he cried, “but thought you’d like
to hear the news. We won at Marshall; Hillton 4, St. Eustace 0!” He
shied an evening paper across the room at Dave and disappeared again.
As the door closed Professor Beck sprang to his feet.

“Now, boys, three times three for the nine, and every one yell!” And
every one did yell. And then the paper was passed around and the brief
account of the baseball game was read and reread.

“By Jove,” cried Don, “your friend Gray’s gone and done it again!”

“Done what?” asked Wayne.

“Made a home run; and in the last inning, too! What do you think of
that?”

Whereupon Wayne tried to snatch the paper from Don, and only succeeded
in upsetting the contents of the latter’s tumbler into Professor Beck’s
salad.

But there is a limit even to the capacity of a triumphant track team,
and after a while, when Professor Beck and the coach had made short,
earnest speeches, had been cheered to the echo, and had left the room,
Don made himself heard and announced that nominations for the captaincy
of the team for the ensuing year were in order. Instantly Gaffney and
Dave were on their feet, and the former was recognized.

“I don’t see any use in fussing with nominations and such stuff; we’ve
all eaten too much. I move you that Donald Cunningham be re-elected by
acclamation and that we all go home.”

Cheering and laughter, cries of “Yes, yes, Cunningham!” and “Second
the motion!” arose; and Don got up and waited a chance to speak. When
the uproar had died down for a moment he said:

“I thank you, fellows, for the nomination, but I can not----”

“Don, Don, Donald C.!” chanted Wayne, and Dave took up the refrain, and
in a moment the room was again a pandemonium.

    “Don, Don, Donald C.,
     One big captain he!”

improvised Wayne, and the rest caught eagerly at the doggerel and
chanted it lustily to the accompaniment of weird music produced by
knives and tumblers. Don held up a hand appealingly.

“Fellows, please come to order!” he cried. And when the tumult had
subsided he went on: “I can’t accept the nomination, although I
feel--recognize----”

“Hear! hear!” bawled Dave.

“Although I appreciate the honor. I thank you all. I am glad that
we won to-day and hope that we will repeat the victory next year. I
will do my best to keep my place on the team, but I must refuse the
captaincy.”

“No, no!” cried his hearers.

“I don’t feel that I can spare the time from my lessons next year, and
I hope you will excuse me and elect some one to take my place. If I may
be allowed to nominate a candidate----”

Cries of “Yes, yes! Go ahead!”

“I nominate for captain Wayne Gordon.”

A chorus of applause broke out. Wayne stared in bewilderment about the
board. “Gordon! Gordon!” cried several; and Whitehead and Dave seconded
the nomination in unison.

“Are there any other nominations?” asked Don.

Wayne leaped to his feet. “I don’t quite know whether this is a joke or
not.” He frowned inquiringly at Don.

Don smiled and shook his head.

“Speech!” called some one.

“But if it isn’t a joke, it’s--it’s silly rot. I am no more fit to be
captain than I am to--to be principal.”

“Sit down,” shouted Dave, “you’re out of order!” But Wayne paid no
attention; instead he looked quite serious as he continued.

“To prove what I say, fellows, I’m going to make a confession. You--you
ought to know about it. I won the mile race to-day----”

“You bet you did!” said some one. “You’re all right!”

“But I didn’t deserve it. I came near losing it by--by my
pigheadedness. I don’t deserve any credit; fact is, I ought to be put
off the team.”

The fellows had quieted down and were listening in surprise and
curiosity. Don put up a hand and tried to pull him back into his seat.

“Shut up, Wayne,” he pleaded in a whisper.

“To-day,” continued Wayne, “I was told to get behind Sturgis and to
hang to him to the end of the race. Well, I didn’t; I thought I knew
more than the coaches, and Professor Beck and the captain, and every
one. And when St. Eustace put up a game by sending Gould ahead as
though he was going to win the race, I just let instructions go and
went after him. You all know how nearly Sturgis came to winning----”

“A miss is as good as a mile,” said Connor.

“And if he had won St. Eustace would have got the championship, and it
would have been all due to my foolishness. I haven’t felt right about
it since you fellows were so kind and cheered me, and--and all; and
I’ve wanted to tell you the truth, and I have; and I’m glad you gave me
the chance. And I thank you for the nomination, but couldn’t take it
even if you still wanted me to.”

Wayne sat down, and three fellows were instantly on their feet. Don
recognized Whitehead.

“Look here, fellows,” he said, speaking quickly and vehemently, “I
don’t deny that Gordon made a mistake, but I want to tell you that he
wasn’t to blame. The trick would have deceived any fellow that wasn’t
experienced; if it had been me instead of Gordon, I would have fallen
into the trap just as he did, and I’m not sure that I’d been so ready
to own up and tell the truth about it, either. Gordon made a mistake,
but he ran the finest sort of a race; he’s got lots of pluck and lots
of go, and we all like him; and I think he will make a good captain, if
Cunningham won’t accept re-election; and I move that we prove to him
that we don’t think any less of him for his mistake by asking him to
accept the nomination.”

“Good! Seconded!” was heard on all sides, and in a moment the motion
had carried unanimously. Wayne was very busy making bread pills, his
eyes on the table cloth.

“Silence gives assent,” said Don gayly. “Are there any other
nominations?” None spoke. “I move that the nominations be closed,”
said Dave. “I second that motion,” said Whitehead. “And I move that
the election be--be-- Oh, I mean let’s go ahead and elect Gordon,”
concluded Whitehead amid a laugh.

“Well, I can’t see the use of balloting,” replied Don, “and as the
proceedings have been out of order all evening I guess we might as well
continue to have them so. Suppose we take a rising vote?”

“Yes! Rising vote! Go ahead!”

“Fellows, all those in favor of the election of Wayne Gordon to the
captaincy of the track team for the ensuing year will so signify by
rising.”

Every fellow save Wayne was on his feet.

“Gordon is elected,” said Don.

“Unanimously!” cried Perkins.

“Fellows,” continued the ex-captain, “I call for three cheers for
Gordon.”

And they were given with a will. Wayne, rather pale and uncomfortable,
arose.

“Speech! speech!” laughed a number. Wayne cleared his throat, opened
his mouth, shut it again, looked appealingly at Don, and sank back into
his chair. But the team was not satisfied, and renewed calls for a
speech arose.

“Speak your piece, Wayne!” called Dave, and Wayne got up again and
started bravely.

“I can’t make a speech. But I thank you for what you’ve done, fellows.
I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake in electing me; I don’t know much
about athletics, but I’ll learn; perhaps Don here will help me.”

“All I can,” answered that youth readily.

“I’ve learned a good bit since I came to Hillton, and I reckon I can
learn more. I’ve learned that it’s a mighty good thing to do as you’re
told, and to obey authority, and not to think that you know everything,
because you don’t; at least, I don’t.”

“You know how to run!” cried Kendall, and the remark was laughingly
applauded.

“As I said,” continued Wayne, “I’m afraid you fellows have made a
mistake, but--but I’ll try to prove that you haven’t. I hope every one
of you will help me and try to excuse any blunders I may make; for I’m
bound to make lots; I’m not Donald Cunningham, you know.”

A murmur of applause arose.

“I never can be as good a captain as he has been----”

The murmur grew into a cheer, and it was fully a minute ere Wayne could
continue.

“And I don’t expect to. But”--he looked earnestly around the circle of
flushed and happy faces--“but I’ll try my level best, fellows, and I’ll
do all I know how for you and--and for the honor of the school!”


                                THE END



 Transcriber’s Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 --Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 --The author’s em-dash style has been retained.





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