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Title: Captain of the Crew
Author: Barbour, Ralph Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Captain of the Crew" ***

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CAPTAIN OF THE CREW



BY RALPH HENRY BARBOUR.

Each Illustrated, 12mo, Cloth, $1.50.

  For Yardley.
  Finkler’s Field. ($1.25.)
  Winning His “Y.”
  The New Boy at Hilltop.
  Double Play.
  Forward Pass!
  The Spirit of the School.
  Four in Camp.
  Four Afoot.
  Four Afloat.
  The Arrival of Jimpson.
  Behind the Line.
  Captain of the Crew.
  For the Honor of the School.
  The Half-Back.
  On Your Mark.
  Weatherby’s Inning.

D. APPLETON & COMPANY, NEW YORK.



[Illustration: “Your promise!” he cried. “Quick!”]



                          CAPTAIN OF THE CREW

                                  By

                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

                 Author of For the Honor of the School
                           and The Half-Back

                     _Illustrated by C. M. Relyea_

                            [Illustration]

                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                                 1912



                           Copyright, 1901,
                      By D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.



INTRODUCTION


In this, as in the two preceding volumes of the series--The Half-Back
and For the Honor of the School--an attempt is made to show that
athletics rightly indulged in is beneficial to the average boy and is
an aid rather than a detriment to study. In it, too, as in the previous
books, a plea is made for honesty and simplicity in sports. There is
a tendency in this country to-day to give too great an importance to
athletics--to take it much too seriously--and it is this tendency that
should be guarded against, especially among school and college youths.
When athletics ceases to be a pleasure and becomes a pursuit it should
no longer have a place in school or college life.

Many inquiries have been received as to whether Hillton Academy really
exists. It doesn’t. It is, instead, a composite of several schools
that the author knows of, and is not unlike any one of a half dozen
institutions which are yearly turning out hundreds of honest, manly
American boys, stronger, sturdier, and more self-reliant for just such
trials and struggles as in the present volume fall to the lot of Dick
Hope.

To those readers who have followed the varying fortunes of Joel March,
Outfield West, Wayne Gordon, and their companions, this book is
gratefully dedicated by

                                                            THE AUTHOR.

  PHILADELPHIA, _June 19, 1901_.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                               PAGE
      I.--THE BOY ON THE BOX              1
     II.--INTRODUCING DICK HOPE          11
    III.--’IS ’IGHNESS                   20
     IV.--IN THE GYM                     31
      V.--THE INDOOR MEETING             42
     VI.--THE RELAY RACE                 53
    VII.--TREVOR’S VICTORY               62
   VIII.--CANDIDATES FOR THE CREW        70
     IX.--THE HOCKEY MATCH               77
      X.--BUYING AN ICE-YACHT            92
     XI.--ADVENTURES OF A BULL PUP      106
    XII.--MUGGINS IS EXPELLED           115
   XIII.--THE VOYAGE OF THE SLEET       124
    XIV.--DICK TELLS HIS STORY          133
     XV.--IN THE ROWING-ROOM            142
    XVI.--A DECLARATION OF WAR          155
   XVII.--IN THE BOAT                   166
  XVIII.--DICK SURRENDERS               179
    XIX.--DEFIES THE LAW                191
     XX.--AND EXTORTS A PROMISE         204
    XXI.--A DISAPPOINTING HERO          214
   XXII.--TAYLOR ACCEPTS DEFEAT         224
  XXIII.--PROSPECTS OF VICTORY          231
   XXIV.--STEWART’S REVENGE             238
    XXV.--“ARE YOU READY? GO!”          248
   XXVI.--AT THE MILE                   257
  XXVII.--AT THE FINISH                 265
 XXVIII.--TREVOR IS COMFORTED           273



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                        FACING
                                                          PAGE
  “Your promise!” he cried. “Quick!”    _Frontispiece_
  Plan of Hillton, N. Y.                                    24
  On the last lap.                                          50
  A winner by ten yards.                                    90
  “Stand by the ship!” he muttered.                        132
  A declaration of war.                                    156
  The only way by which he could aid.                      262



CAPTAIN OF THE CREW



CHAPTER I

THE BOY ON THE BOX


“Hillton! Hillton!”

The brakeman winked solemnly at the group of boys in the end seats,
withdrew his head, slammed the door and crossed the swaying platforms
to make a similar announcement to the occupants of the car ahead. From
the left side of the train passengers caught a glimpse of a broad
expanse of meadow upon which tiny flecks of red flared dully in the
winter sunshine; of a distant grand stand, bleak and desolate, against
whose northern shoulder a drift of snow snuggled as though seeking
protection from its enemy the sun; of two pairs of goal-posts gravely
watching each other from opposite ends of a long field; of a bit of
country road, a slowly rising hill, a little army of leafless elms,
and, last of all, crowning a promontory below which the frozen Hudson
sparkled, a group of old red brick buildings, elbowing each other
with friendly rivalry in an endeavor to gain the post of honor and to
be first seen of the outside world that traveled by train. That was
Hillton Academy.

There was a long warning shriek from the engine, echoed back by the
wooded slope of Mount Adam; a momentary reverberating roar as the train
crossed the little viaduct; the whistle of air brakes; and then, as the
train came to a stop, a babel of boys’ voices. Some twenty youths of
assorted ages and sizes, laden with every description of luggage, from
golf bags and valises down to boxes of figs and caramels purchased from
the train-boy and still uneaten, pushed and scrambled their way to the
station platform. The last trunk was slid from the baggage car, and the
conductor, portly and jovial, sang “All aboard!” and waved a smiling
good-by to the boys.

“Good-by, Pop! See you later!” “Don’t forget that anti-fat, Pop!” And
then, when the train had gained speed, a slim junior danced along the
platform waving a bit of pasteboard exultingly under the conductor’s
nose and just out of his reach: “Hey, Pop! You didn’t get my ticket!
Stop the train! Stop the train!” An old joke this, that never failed of
applause. The conductor shook his fist in simulated wrath, and the next
instant, with a farewell shriek of the whistle, the train was lost to
sight.

Beside the platform waited the coach, from the box of which “Old Joe,”
the driver, smiled a toothless welcome. Each year held three red-letter
days for “Old Joe,” namely, the days preceding the commencement of the
three school terms, when the students, refreshed by recess or vacation,
returned in merry troops to Hillton--noisy, mischievous, vexing, but
ever admirable to the old stage-driver--and taxed the capacity of the
coach to the utmost, and “Old Joe’s” patience to the limit. This was
the first of the red-letter days of the present year, which was as yet
but forty-eight hours old, and all day long the boys who had been so
fortunate as to return to their homes for the Christmas recess had been
piling from the trains to the stage and from the stage to the steps
of Academy Building. And “Old Joe,” who loved the excitement of it
all, and worshiped everything, animate or inanimate, that belonged to
Hillton, was in his glory.

“Now, then, you young terrors, get aboard here. Can’t wait all
afternoon for you. This ain’t no ’commodating train, and----”

“Hello, Joe, old chap; how’s your appetite?” “Still able to sit up and
take your meals, Joe?” “Say, fellows, Old Joe’s looking younger every
day.” “Give me a hand up, Joe, and I’ll show you how to drive those old
plugs of yours.” “Please, Joe, you said I could sit on the box with you
this trip, don’t you remember?”

“Have to be next time, youngster; seat’s full a’ready. How do, Mister
Hope? Scramble out o’ here, sir, an’ give Mister Hope your seat. Oh, is
that you, Mister Nesbitt? Well----”

“No, I’ll sit back here,” answered the boy addressed as Hope. “I can
jump off quicker when we upset.”

“Hark to that,” growled the driver in pretended anger; “an’ me
forty-two years on this road an’ never no accident yet. All aboard
there! No, ye don’t, sir; no more room atop. Trunks’ll go up next trip,
sir. All right now. _Tlk! Get ap!_”

The two stout grays, known popularly as “Spring Halt” and “Spavin,”
settled into their collars, and the big stage, swaying comfortably on
its leather springs, lumbered around the corner into Station Road.
From the interior of the coach, where twelve youths had managed to
pack themselves into a space designed to hold but nine, floated out a
wild medley of shouts and laughter. On top, two boys had secured the
much-coveted places beside the driver, while on the seat behind three
others were perched. When the little stone station had been left the
boy who occupied the other end of the driver’s seat, and whom “Old Joe”
had called “Mister Nesbitt,” leaned across the intervening youth and
addressed the driver:

“Now, Joe, let’s have the lines, old chap, and I’ll show you a bit of
fancy driving that’ll open your eyes. Come now, like a nice old Joe.”

“Now, don’t be askin’ for the reins, Mister Nesbitt, sir. You know it’s
agin the rules for the boys to drive.”

“What! Oh, rot, Joe! I never heard of such a rule. Did you, Williams?”

“Never,” replied the third occupant of the box. “Joe dreamed it.”

“Of course you did, Joe. Come on, now; just let me have them to the
corner there. Don’t be a duffer, man. Why, I can drive a pair bang up.”
“Old Joe” cast a deeply suspicious glance at the youth--and was lost.
Trevor Nesbitt assumed a look of angelic innocence and sweetness and
pleaded so eloquently with his blue eyes that the driver grudgingly
relinquished the lines.

“Mind ye now, Mister Nesbitt, just to the corner you said.”

“Meaning around it, Joe, of course,” replied Nesbitt as he adjusted
the lines knowingly between his gloved fingers. “Come, Spavin, cheer
up, old laddie!” Williams, who had been holding the long-lashed whip,
now handed it to Nesbitt, who sent the lash swirling over his head,
and with a quick movement snapped it loudly a few inches from Spavin’s
head. The result was instantaneous. The off horse snorted loudly and
leaped forward, and the other followed suit. “Old Joe” snatched at the
reins, but Nesbitt held them out of reach.

“Don’t whip ’em, sir,” cried the old man, “please don’t whip ’em; they
ain’t used to it, sir.” Nesbitt laughed gaily.

“Don’t you worry, Joe, I’ll not hurt them. But we can’t put on side,
old chap, unless we just touch them up a bit.”

_Crack_ went the long lash again.

For several years the grays had traveled the road from station to
school and thence to the Eagle Tavern without other persuasion than
a cheery chirp or a sharp whistle from “Old Joe,” or, upon rare
occasions, a half-hearted snap of the whip in no startling proximity
to their ears. To-day there was plainly something wrong, and so, after
a moment of bewildered consideration, they broke into a long ungainly
gallop, to the joy of the boy with the reins and to the terror of “Old
Joe.”

“By Jove, Williams, this is something like, eh?” Nesbitt sat up
straight on the seat, tightened the lines and grinned delightedly at
his companion. “Old Joe” was pleading excitedly for the whip.

“Please, sir, give me the whip now. I’m afeared for you to have it. You
might hit ’em, sir, accidental, an’ there’s no telling what they’d do.
Mister Williams, sir, just you hand it to me. _Stop him!_” But he had
spoken too late. Nesbitt brought the lash down smartly on the broad
back of the off horse, and the gallop changed to a plunging run, the
coach swaying awkwardly from side to side. “Old Joe” reached forward
desperately to wrest the lines from the boy, but Williams interfered.

“Hands off, Joe,” cried Nesbitt, “or you’ll have us over. Keep him
quiet, Williams.”

From inside the stage came a babel of shouts, the exclamations of alarm
half drowned by the noise of the beating hoofs and the protesting
creaks of the leather springs. The horses with heads down, frightened
at length by the unwonted use of the whip, galloped madly. Nesbitt,
smiling and cool, sat straight and handled the lines with skill, which
at any other time would have won loud commendation from “Old Joe.” But
just at present that worthy was too terrorized to appreciate aught
but the fact that the grays were apparently running away. He had a
frightful vision of an overturned coach, of mangled bodies, and of
everlasting disgrace. Yet he recognized the fact that to take the lines
away from Nesbitt by force, even had such a thing been possible, would
be the surest way to bring about the very catastrophe he dreaded. And
then he glanced ahead down the frozen road and saw the sharp turn but a
short distance away.

The three youths on the seat behind had been watching affairs at first
with amusement and now with apprehension. The boy in the center frowned
and turned to one of his companions.

“Who is that chap?” he asked in a low voice.

“What! don’t you know ‘’Is ’Ighness’?”

“‘His Highness’? No, I don’t. Who is he; one of our class?”

“No; he’s an upper middle chap; Trevor Nesbitt’s his real name. The
fellows call him ‘’Is ’Ighness’ because he’s English. He’s a good sort,
all right, but I wish he’d let driving alone.”

“So do I,” responded the boy at the other end of the seat, “but”--a
note of admiration creeping into his dubious tones--“he knows how, all
right!”

“But, I say, Hope,” cried the previous speaker, “look there; we’ve
got to go around that corner! Let’s say our prayers.” Hope’s brows
contracted as he glanced ahead; then he slid from the seat, rested
himself on his knee, clinging tightly the while, and leaned over the
back of the seat ahead.

“Look here, can you get them around that turn?”

“Who’s that, Williams?” asked Nesbitt without looking around.

“Dick Hope; he wants to know----”

“Tell him to shut up and sit down, Williams,” interrupted Nesbitt
calmly. Hope flushed angrily, but said no more, crouching in his place
between the seats with an idea of lending a hand in case of disaster,
although in just what way he could be of use was far from clear.
Nesbitt raised to his feet, propping himself firmly, the reins tight
wrapped about his hands.

“Hold tight all,” he warned, “and bear to the right!”

With the turn but a few yards away he brought his weight to bear on
the lines, swaying from side to side with the lurching coach, settling
farther and farther back as the horses lowered their heads to the
command of the tugging bits. Hope thought of “Old Joe” at that moment,
and glanced across at him. The stage-driver was silent now, his cheeks
white, his face drawn. Williams, too, was pale, and his rigid attitude
told more plainly than words that the fun had ceased for him. Nesbitt
alone of the three occupants of the box appeared at ease. Hope could
see the warm color playing on his cheek, and----

“Easy, boys, easy!” Nesbitt called slowly, soothingly to the horses,
and then-- Well, Hope was clutching desperately at the boards in the
grating; he saw the backs of the straining animals turn at an angle to
the stage, heard the great wheels _slur-r-r_ across the frozen ground,
felt the body of the coach sway far to the left, as though it were on
its way across the fence at that side, and opened his eyes again to
find a straight road ahead of them, and to see Nesbitt settle himself
into his seat once more. “Old Joe” muttered an exclamation of relief.
Hope again leaned across Nesbitt’s shoulder.

“I think you’ve shown off enough for to-day,” he said. “Now pull those
horses down--if you can.”

Nesbitt glanced back into the other’s face, an angry light in his blue
eyes.

“Will you kindly attend to your own affairs?” he asked with suspicious
sweetness. Hope smiled in spite of his anger.

“If you don’t think it’s my affair,” he replied, “maybe you’ll
acknowledge that the gentlemen ahead have something to say about it.”
Nesbitt looked up the road and whistled.

“Just my bally luck!” he murmured. “Professors!” With straining arms he
bore back on the lines. Little by little the horses slackened speed,
and at last dropped into a trot, but not before the coach had swept by
two very serious-faced Hillton professors out for a walk, whose sharp
glances presaged trouble. Nesbitt handed over the lines and whip to
“Old Joe.”

“My luck again,” he sighed.

“An’ serves you right,” grunted the driver.

Hope crawled into his seat again. His companions were busy explaining
the course of events to the inhabitants of the interior of the coach,
or as many of them as could get their heads out the doors, and ere
the latter had run out of questions the stage turned into the academy
grounds and crawled sedately up to the steps of Academy Building.

Hope leaped from the coach and hurried off to his room, while the other
boys, laughing and joking, clustered about Nesbitt. “Wheels won’t do a
thing to you,” one lad assured him with a grin.

“Well, don’t let it trouble you, Tommy,” he answered gaily. “But, I
say, Williams, who was that meddlesome chap on the back seat?”

It was Williams’s turn to grin.

“The fellow you told to shut up, you mean?” Nesbitt nodded.

“Oh, no one much; just Dick Hope, captain of the crew.”



CHAPTER II

INTRODUCING DICK HOPE


The sun was almost out of sight as Dick Hope crossed the yard toward
Masters Hall, and the shadows of the buildings, stretching far over the
ground, seemed to harbor many little gusts of icy wind, and looked dark
and dismal in contrast with the broad expanse of golden, sun-bathed
marsh across the river. Dick pulled his coat closer about him, ran up
the old, worn granite steps of the dormitory, and gained the hallway
with a sense of comfort and homecoming.

Securing his key from the matron’s room, he leaped up the first flight
of narrow stairs and, half-way down the corridor, unlocked a dingy
door which bore a big black figure 16, and, below it, a card with the
inscription “Richard Fowler Hope.” The room was filled with the mellow
light of the setting sun, and here and there the rays were caught--by
the glass doors of the bookcase, by the metal top of the inkstand,
or, less sharply, by the silver and pewter mugs ranged along the
mantel--and were thrown back in golden blurs that dazzled the eyes.

Dick laid aside his coat and cap, took off his gloves, and thrusting
his hands into his pocket, surveyed the apartment smilingly. It was
awfully jolly to get back, he thought happily, as his gaze took in
the shabby, comfortable furnishings and the hundred and one objects
about the room so intimately connected with three and a half years
of pleasant school life. An array of worn and soberly bound books
lined an end of the leather-covered study table, and he took one up
and fluttered its pages between his fingers; it was a good deal like
shaking hands with an old friend. With the volume still in his clasp
he moved to the mantel and examined the knickknacks thereon, the cups
and photographs and little china things, all cheap enough viewed from a
money standpoint, yet to Dick priceless from long possession. He felt
a momentary heart-flutter as his eyes fell on one pewter mug ornately
engraved with his name.

As he looked the mantel and wall faded from sight, and he saw a stretch
of cinder track, pecked by the spikes of runners’ shoes; at a little
distance a thin white tape. He saw himself, head back, eyes staring,
struggling desperately for that white thread across the track. Again
he heard the thud and crunch of the St. Eustace runner’s feet almost
beside him; heard, far more dimly, the shouts of excited onlookers, and
again felt his effortful gasps as he gained inch by inch. The captain
of the track team had been the first to reach him as the tape fluttered
to the ground and he turned, half reeling, onto the turf. And he had
thrown an arm about him and lowered him gently to the welcome sod and
had whispered three short words into his ear, words that meant more
than volumes of praise:

“_Good work, Dick!_”

The vision faded and the boy, with a sigh that expressed more happiness
than a laugh could have done, turned away from the mantel. The crimson
silk sash-curtains, drawn to the sides of the two windows, glowed like
fire, but the shafts of sunlight had traveled up the walls to the
ceiling, and the study was growing dim. In the fireplace a pile of wood
and shavings was ready to light, and Dick, scratching a match along the
mantel edge, set it ablaze and drew an easy chair to the hearth. With
the shabby school-book in his hands, he settled comfortably against the
cushions, and, his gaze on the leaping flames, let his thoughts wander
as they willed.

There was plenty to think of. Before him lay five of the busiest,
most important months of his school life, months that would be filled
with plenty of hard work, much pleasure, and probably not a little
worriment, and which might be crowned with a double triumph for him,
for his hopes were set upon graduating at the head of his class and
upon turning out a crew which in the annual boat-race with Hillton’s
well-loved rival, St. Eustace, would flaunt the crimson above the blue
in a decisive victory. To attain the first result many long hours of
the hardest sort of study would be necessary, while the last would
require never-flagging patience, tact, courage, and skill, and would
demand well-nigh every moment of his time not given to lessons. The
outlook did not, however, frighten him. He had returned to school
feeling strong and confident and eager to begin his tasks.

When, the preceding June, after a sorrowful defeat by St. Eustace,
the members of the Hillton crew had met to elect a new captain,
Richard Hope had been chosen because he above all other candidates
possessed the directness of purpose, the gift of leadership, and the
untiring ability for hard work requisite to form a winning eight from
unpromising material; even the defeated candidates for the post,
which at Hillton was the highest and most honorable in the gift of
the school, applauded the choice, and, with a possible exception,
honestly felt the pleasure they expressed. The possible exception was
Roy Taylor, one of the best oarsmen at Hillton. Taylor had striven hard
for the captaincy and had accepted defeat with far less graciousness
than had the other three candidates, though he had tried to hide his
disappointment under a mask of smiling indifference. The recollection
of Roy Taylor was this evening almost the only source of uneasiness to
Dick as he watched the mellow flames leap and glow.

Presently he pushed back his chair, lighted the drop-light on the table
and drew the blinds. It was almost supper time. Throwing aside his
coat, he unpacked his satchel, distributing several presents about the
study. Then, with his toilet articles in hand, he opened the door into
the bedroom and started back in surprise. Between the two narrow iron
bedsteads stood a pile of luggage. A dilapidated tin trunk, painted
in ludicrous imitation of yellow oak, flanked a handsome leather
portmanteau, while upon these was piled a motley array of bundles and
bags; a tennis racquet and two cricket bats were tied together with
three brightly colored neckties; a battered golf bag fairly bristled
with sticks; a pair of once white flannel trousers were tied about
at the ankles with strings, and were doing duty as a repository for
discarded shoes, golf, tennis, and cricket balls, and sundry other
treasures. The improvised bag had fallen open at the larger end and had
disgorged a portion of its contents in the manner of a huge, strangely
formed horn of plenty. Crowning all was a soiled clothes bag, vivid
with purple lilies on a yellow ground, whose contour told plainly that
it held books.

Quickly following his first moment of surprise came to Dick a knowledge
of what the presence of the luggage meant, and his grin of amusement
was succeeded by a frown. The boy who had shared his quarters with
him at the beginning of the year had left the academy in October, and
Dick had held sole possession of the rooms until now. He had been
told that with the commencement of the winter term he would have a
roommate, but until that moment he had forgotten the fact. He wondered
as he spluttered at the wash-stand what sort of a chap his future chum
was, and drew ill augury from the queer collection of luggage. With
towel in hand he walked around the pile and studied the labels and
the initials that adorned trunks and bags. The former were numerous;
plainly the owner of the yellow tin trunk had traveled, for a Cunard
steamship label flanked a red-lettered legend “Wanted,” and the two
were elbowed by the paper disk of a Geneva hotel. The initials “T.
N.” told him nothing, save that the owner’s name was probably Tom.
Well, Tom was a good enough name, he thought, as he applied the brush
vigorously to his brown hair, and as for the rest he would soon learn.

Drawing on his coat and lowering the light, he hurried across to
Warren Hall and supper. The dining-room was well filled, and as he
made his way to his seat at a far table he was obliged to return a
dozen greetings, and had he paused in response to every detaining hand
that was stretched out he would scarcely have reached his seat in
the next half hour. It was pleasant to be back again among all those
good fellows, he thought as he laughingly pulled himself free from
the clutches of his friends, and pleasanter still to know that they
were glad to have him back. His heart beat a little faster than usual,
and his cheeks were a little more flushed as he clapped his nearest
neighbor on the shoulder and sank into his chair, only to leave it
the next moment and detour the table to shake hands with Professor
Longworth, who had bowed to him smilingly across the board.

“Vacation seems to have agreed with you, Hope; you look as hearty as
you please. You must let Mr. Beck see you before the bloom wears off;
he’d rather see one of you boys looking fit than come into a legacy.”

“I’m feeling fine, sir,” laughed Dick, “and I’m so glad to get back
that even trigonometry doesn’t scare me.”

“Hum,” replied the professor grimly. “Just wait until you see what I’ve
got ready for you.”

Dick was soon busy satisfying a huge appetite and listening to the
veritable avalanche of information and inquiry that was launched at him.

“St. Eustace has chosen the negative side in the debate, Hope, and old
Tinker’s tickled to death; says he’s certain we’ll win, because----”
“Dick, come up to my cave Saturday afternoon, will you? Burns isn’t
coming back, and he’s written me to sell his stuff, and we’re going to
have an auction; Smith junior’s going to be auctioneer, and we’re going
to hang a red flag out the window, and----” “Did you hear about that
upper middle chap they call ‘’Is ’Ighness’? He nearly upset the coach
this afternoon, they say, and Professor Wheeler’s going to put him on
probation. Chalmers says he told Wheeler that----” “We’ve got some
dandy hockey games fixed, Hope; Shrewsburg’s coming down Monday next if
the ice holds and St. Eustace about the first of Feb.” “You ought to’ve
been with us, Hope, last Saturday. We went fishing through the ice, and
Jimmy Townsend caught four regular whales; and we cooked them at the
hut on the island and had a fine feast, only the silly things wouldn’t
get quite done through, and tasted rather nasty if you didn’t hold your
nose and swallow quick.” “Say, have you seen Carl Gray? He told me to
tell you that he’d be up to your room after supper; wants to see you
most particular, he says. Don’t forget I told you, ’cause I promised
I would.” “I’m going to try for the boat, Hope. When shall I report?”
“When you make the crew, youngster, I’ll win a scholarship; and that
won’t happen in a thousand years!” “Speaking of the crew, Dick, Roy
Taylor says we’re goners this year.”

Dick helped himself generously to the blackberry jam.

“How’s that?” he asked calmly.

“Says we haven’t got good material.”

“If we had seven other fellows as good as Taylor we’d be all right,”
responded Dick. “And as it is, we’ve turned out cracking fine crews
before this from even less promising stuff. Well, I’m off. Never mind
what Todd says, Jimmy; show up with the others and have a try. I only
wish there were other chaps as plucky!”

And amid mingled groans of reproach and derision Dick pushed back his
chair and left the hall. When he reached the second floor of Masters he
saw that the door of Number 16 was ajar, and that some one had turned
up the light.

“Gray’s waiting, I guess,” he told himself. “Wonder what he wants?” He
pushed the door open, and then paused in surprise on the threshold.

In Dick’s big green leather armchair, his slippered feet to the blaze,
a book in his hands, reclined very much at his ease the youth who had
driven the stage-coach.



CHAPTER III

“’IS ’IGHNESS”


At the sound of the closing door the boy in the chair glanced up, laid
aside his book, and pulled himself to his feet. Despite his annoyance
at what he considered the other’s cheekiness in having taken possession
of the study without explanation or apology, Dick was forced to a
grudging admiration for the appearance of the boy who confronted him.
He was such a healthy, wholesome-looking duffer, Dick thought, that it
was a shame he hadn’t better sense. What Dick saw across the length of
the study table was a broad-shouldered youth of sixteen years, attired
in a ludicrous red dressing-gown, much worn and faded, which, despite
the efforts of a knotted cord about the waist, failed by several
inches to envelop his form. His face was somewhat square in contour,
with a chin a trifle too heavy for beauty, but, as Dick reflected,
undoubtedly appropriate to the rest of the features. The eyes were
intensely blue and the hair was neither brown nor straw-colored, but of
some indescribable shade between. The cheeks were full of very healthy
color. For the rest, the youth was of medium height, sturdily built,
and, save for an easy smile of unembarrassed greeting which annoyed
Dick at the moment, was decidedly prepossessing.

During the moment of silence that followed the closing of the door,
employed by Dick in a mental stock-taking of his future roommate, the
latter’s eyes were not idle. He had been told that Richard Hope was
the captain of the crew, a position of honor which he reverenced as
devoutly as only an English lad can, and he was curious to see what
manner of boy filled that important office at Hillton. He saw a tall
youth, muscular rather than heavy, with shoulders that filled out the
coat almost to the bursting point, and a fairly small head set well
back. He saw a face with clean-cut features; a straight, sensitive
nose, rounded and prominent chin, eyes rather far apart, and high
cheek-bones that gave a look of thinness to the face. The eyes were
brown, and the hair under the cloth cap was of the same color. Above
the nose were two distinct short vertical lines, the result of a habit
of drawing the brows together into something approaching a frown when
anxious or puzzled. Just at present the lines were deep, and the
general expression of the face was one of ill-concealed annoyance. It
was the boy in the queer red dressing-gown that first broke the silence.

“I fancy you’re Hope,” he said smilingly. “My name’s Nesbitt, Trevor
Nesbitt, upper middle; I’m to share your quarters, you know.”

“I’m very glad to know you,” answered Dick, without, however, much of
delight in his tones. “I saw your luggage in the room before supper,
although, of course, I didn’t know that it belonged to--er----”

“To the beggar that was so cheeky on the coach, eh?” said Trevor. “I
didn’t know it myself--that is, until I went to the office. They told
me before recess that they’d put me in a room in Masters, but I didn’t
know who I was to be with. I----” He paused, with the slightest look
of embarrassment. “Fact is, I want to apologize for what I said on the
coach. I didn’t mean to be waxy, but those bally gees pulled so like
thunder--and I didn’t know who you were, of course, and----”

“It’s all right,” answered Dick. “I wouldn’t have interfered only I
thought you were going to upset us, and, being a senior, it was my
duty, you understand.”

“Of course, I see that,” responded Trevor earnestly. “You were right to
do what you did, and you ought to have beat my silly head for me. You
can now, you know, if you like.”

Dick smiled, and then was sorry. He had meant to maintain a lofty
expression of hauteur, in order to impress Trevor with the fact
that while he was willing to pass the other’s impertinence on the
coach he could never bring himself to an approval of a youth who so
needlessly endangered the lives of his companions in order to satisfy
a selfish whim, and who had so stubbornly transgressed the Rules of
the School (the latter suddenly appeared unusually sacred to Dick,
and he mentally spelled it with capital letters). But the smile had,
he feared, somewhat spoiled his effort. He hastened to reassume his
expression of calm disapprobation, and asked:

“Did Professor Wheeler learn of it?” He had thrown aside his coat and
had seated himself before the hearth. Trevor perched himself on an arm
of the big chair and smiled a trifle ruefully.

“Yes; I had a long talk with Wheels. I fancy he said some very good
things, but I was so beastly hungry that I’m not certain. He told me to
stay in the Yard for a couple of weeks; rather nasty of him, don’t you
think?”

“Well, Nesbitt, under the circumstances, of course----” began Dick.
Then he paused as he saw, or thought he saw, a twinkle of amusement in
the blue eyes before him.

“Oh, well, two weeks is soon over with, and I had lots of fun while it
lasted.” Trevor smiled reminiscently.

“You had driven before, I suppose?” asked Dick with supreme indifference.

“Yes; the pater and I used to do a good bit that way at home--in
England, you know--and then last summer at Richfield I kept a nag or
two rather busy.”

“Have you been in this country long?” Dick really didn’t care, of
course, but one had to make conversation.

“Four years; the pater came over here to look after his business and
brought me with him; the manager died. Then we thought--that is, the
pater did--that he’d better stay in New York and look after the
American agency himself for awhile. And we’ve been here ever since.
Last summer we decided that I’d better go to school somewhere. The
pater wanted me to go back to the other side and enter Rugby, but
I rather fancied staying over here; so I found out about American
schools, and when some one told me that Hillton generally turned out
the best eights I decided to go there.” Dick displayed interest.

“Do you row?” he asked almost eagerly.

“I’ve rowed a little when I’ve had a chance, which hasn’t been often.
Americans don’t seem to do much that way. When I was a little chap I
was a good bit of a wetbob, and was on the water a good deal. The pater
taught me all I know when I was about twelve; he rowed stroke two years
in the Cambridge boat.”

“Well, I hope you’ll try for the crew,” answered Dick, with kindly
condescension. “We want all the candidates we can get; and even if you
don’t make the varsity boat this spring, there’s the second; and you’d
have a good show for next year.”

“Thanks,” replied Trevor calmly; “I’d made up my mind to have a try for
it. I rather fancy I’ll make the varsity.”

Dick stared. Such confidence staggered him, and he tried to detect
amusement on the other’s countenance. But his new roommate was staring
seriously into the flames, for all the world, Dick thought, as if
he were trying to decide whether to accept the place at bow or
stroke. Trevor swung himself from the chair arm and tried to wrap his
dressing-gown closer about him.


[Illustration: PLAN OF HILLTON, N.Y.

REVISED FOR HILLTON ACADEMY]

    1. Academy Building.
    2. Gymnasium.
    3. Physical Laboratory.
    4. Chemical Laboratory.
    5. Masters Hall.
    6. Bradley Hall.
    7. Turner Hall.
    8. Warren Hall.
    9. Society House.
    10. Principal’s residence.
    11. Hampton House.
    12. Professor Bowles.
    13. Mrs. S. R. Higgins. B. and R.[*]
    14. J. P. Bromfield. R.
    15. J. A. Wurzbach. R.
    16. Professor Lea.
    17. W. H. Vance. B. and R.
    18. A. L. Hutchins. R.
    19. Miss P. R. Long. R.
    20. Dr. Wainwright.
    21. Methodist Church.
    22. H. D. Robins.
    23. J. A. Hamilton. R.
    24. T. H. Brown. B. and R.
    25. Kingston House.
    26. Congregational Church.
    27. L. H. Bickford.
    28. Mrs. A. V. Knoedler. R.
    29. N. D. Haewood. R.
    30. L. Beard.
    31. L. S. Scott.
    32. Merrill House.
    33. Porter’s store.
    34. J. J. O’Neill. R.
    35. Grammar School.
    36. Baptist Church.
    37. Caper’s store.
    38. Post-Office.
    39. Court-House.
    40. Town Hall.
    41. Primary School.
    42. Watson’s Stables.
    43. Eagle Tavern.
    44. S. W. Hamment. B.
    45. H. MacFarland.
    46. W. W. Carroll. B. and R.
    47. Episcopal Church.
    48. D. W. Coolidge. B. and R.
    49. H. M. Gibbs. R.
    50. C. E. Noyes. R.
    51. Miss O. Jasper. R.
    52. Joseph Grace Hospital.
    53. Boat-House.
    54. Heating plant.

    [*] B, board.
        R, rooms to let.

“Well, I fancy I’d better get that luggage out of the way. I didn’t
want to unpack until you came and could tell me where to put the
things. I’ve got a few pictures and some books, you know.”

“You can have either side of the study you want,” answered Dick. “I
was alone and so I stuck my things all round. If you like I’ll take my
stuff off that wall there.”

“Oh, but I say,” expostulated the other, “don’t do that. You’ve got the
den looking so jolly nice it would be too bad to spoil it by taking
anything down. I’ll just stick one or two of my chromo things where
there’s room. I never was much at fixing up; my den always looks like a
bally stable.”

He passed into the bedroom and Dick heard him pulling at knots and
straps and between whiles whistling a lugubrious tune that sounded all
flats. Dick spread his feet apart comfortably, thrust his hands into
his pockets and smiled at the fire; Nesbitt’s cock-suredness was truly
delightful! “He fancied he’d make the varsity!” Dick’s grin enlarged
and he chuckled softly. He almost wished that it wasn’t necessary
for him to dislike his new roommate; there was something about the
boy, possibly his placid assurance, that appealed to him. But--and
Dick’s smile froze again--it wouldn’t do for him to even appear to
countenance such escapades and--er--cheekiness as Nesbitt had indulged
in that afternoon. The youngster--he was Dick’s junior by a year--must
be taught that at Hillton fun is one thing and----

Dick’s reverie was interrupted by the subject, who appeared with a
bunch of photographs in his hand.

“Do you mind if I put a couple of these on the mantel?”

“Certainly not; it’s half yours, of course.”

The tone was very chilly, and Trevor’s cheeks flushed slightly as he
arranged the pictures behind the army of mugs. He started away and
then came back again, and, taking a photograph from its place, looked
hesitatingly at Dick, who was apparently supremely indifferent to his
presence.

“That’s the pater,” he said finally, holding out the card, and speaking
a little wistfully. Dick took the picture. It showed a middle-aged man,
rather military looking, in riding clothes; a fine, handsome chap, Dick
thought, and, having no quarrel with Trevor’s father, he said so:

“He’s awfully good-looking, Nesbitt.”

Trevor took the photograph and observed it a moment with smiling eyes
ere he placed it back on the mantel. He was evidently monstrously proud
of his father; but he only replied with elaborate indifference:

“He’s rather a good sort, the pater.” He took the rest of the pictures
down and held them out. “Here’s some more if you care to see them.”
Dick pretended to smother a yawn. “Thanks,” he said.

“I’m not boring you?” asked Trevor apologetically.

“No, indeed.” Dick was looking at the likeness of an elderly woman in a
high lace cap. “Not your mother, is it?”

“No, that is my Aunt Grace; she lives in Manchester. I haven’t a
picture of the mater here; we have only one, and the pater keeps that.
She--she died when I was quite a youngster.”

“Oh,” said Dick softly. “I’m sorry. Mothers are--well, I wouldn’t want
to lose mine, Nesbitt.”

“I fancy not. We--the pater and I--were awfully cut up when the mater
died. That’s a cousin of mine; he’s at Rugby.”

The picture showed a stolid-looking boy with decidedly heavy features
attired in flannels and leaning with studied carelessness on a
cricket bat. It was typically English, Dick thought as he laid it
aside. A photograph with “Maud” scrawled across the bottom in high
angular characters showed a conscious-looking young lady of eighteen
or nineteen years simpering from a latticed doorway. “That’s Cousin
Maud,” explained Trevor; “she’s engaged to a lieutenant of engineers
in South Africa; she’s a jolly nice girl.” When Dick had seen the last
of the photographs Trevor rearranged them on the mantel, and while
he was doing so there came a knock at the study door, followed by
the entrance of a youth in a long ulster on which the snowflakes were
melting.

“Hello, Earle, come in!” cried Dick, arising and shaking hands with the
newcomer. “Where’s Carl?”

Stewart Earle, a slim, bright-faced boy of apparently fourteen years of
age, shook the flakes from his coat and drew a note from his pocket.

“He couldn’t come over, Hope, so he asked me to bring this to you. I
had to come over to the library. It’s snowing like all get out.”

Dick took the note and ran his eyes over it. The little creases
deepened on his forehead as he tossed it onto the table. “Take off your
coat, Earle, and sit down. By the way, do you know Nesbitt?” And as the
two shook hands, “Nesbitt’s going to share these quarters with me.”

“Can’t stay,” answered Earle, “for I’ve got an hour’s work looking up
some silly stuff about some silly Grecian war. You’re looking awfully
fit, Hope.”

“So are you,” laughed Dick. “You don’t look at all like the pasty-faced
little junior of two years back.”

“I don’t feel like him, either,” answered Stewart with a smile. “Shall
I say anything to Carl?”

“Yes, tell him I’m awfully much obliged, and that I’ll look him up
to-morrow if I don’t meet him at recitation. Good-night; sorry you
won’t stay.”

When the door had closed again Dick took up the note and reread it.

    “Dear Dick” (it ran), “Wheels has sent for me to go over to his
    house this evening; something about the indoor meeting. So I
    sha’n’t be able to see you to-night. What I was going to tell
    you was that Taylor’s been trying to raise trouble on the quiet
    with the crew fellows. He says we can’t turn out a crew that
    will stand any show of winning, and is trying to discourage the
    fellows. I’ll tell you more when I see you to-morrow. Stewart’s
    going to take this over to you.

                                        “Yours in a hurry,

                                                             “CARL.

    “P. S.--Somebody ought to punch Taylor’s head--hard.”

Dick smiled as he tore up the missive, and then frowned. It was what he
might have expected of Taylor, he told himself, and yet it was a bit
discouraging. However, there was no use in meeting trouble half-way.
He got a book and settled himself to study. In the bedroom Trevor was
still distributing his belongings, and still whistling his tuneless
air. When bedtime came Dick was silent and preoccupied, a fact which
Trevor noticed.

“Hope you haven’t had bad news,” the latter said.

“Oh, no,” answered Dick, “nothing to hurt.”

Trevor turned out the gas and climbed into bed.

“Good-night,” he said.

“Good-night,” answered Dick.

For a long time the latter lay staring into the darkness thinking of
Carl Gray’s note, and of Roy Taylor, and of Trevor Nesbitt; a good deal
of Trevor. And the more he thought, the less satisfied with himself he
became. His last thought as he turned over on his pillow and closed his
eyes was that he had behaved like a particularly disagreeable prig.



CHAPTER IV

IN THE GYM


Trevor left the dressing-room and climbed the stairs to the running
track. The gymnasium was quiet and filled with the twilight of a winter
afternoon. It was but a few minutes after three, and, save for a youth
who was heroically exercising with the weights, the building appeared
deserted. But as he reached the head of the stairs the soft pat of
shoes on the boards greeted him, and he stepped aside to let a lithe
runner jog past. He recognized him as Stewart Earle, the boy who had
brought the message to Dick Hope the night before, and when he next
passed he nodded.

“Hello,” answered Stewart as he slowed down a little, “I didn’t
recognize you. Awfully dark to-day, isn’t it?”

“Beastly,” responded Trevor. Then, with a glance at the big clock he
started into a slow jog, lifting his feet high and stretching his
muscles, that were somewhat stiffened by a week’s idleness. A flood of
subdued white light bathed the track from the big north window, and as
he passed he could hear the soft _swir_ of the snowflakes against the
glass. It had been snowing all night and all day, and showed as yet no
sign of abatement. The broad skylights in the roof were covered deeply,
and looked from beneath like sheets of lead.

The boy at the weights stopped and disappeared into the dressing-room.
Perhaps he found it lonely work there all by himself. The pat of
the runners’ shoes alone broke the stillness. Trevor took his pace
from Stewart, and for some time the two circled the track. It was
twenty-four laps to the mile, and when he had accomplished that
distance Trevor went down and put in several minutes with the weights.
Several other boys had entered meanwhile, and were changing outdoor
clothing for gymnasium suits. When he had rubbed himself dry after a
shower bath, Trevor took a seat by Stewart and began to dress leisurely.

“Do you run much?” he asked.

“Yes; that is, I try. I did a mile and a half to-day. I’m going to try
for the two hundred and twenty yards at the indoor meet.”

“Why, so am I,” answered Trevor. Stewart grimaced.

“I guess it’s all up with me, then,” he said ruefully. “They say you’re
a dandy sprinter.”

“Oh, I’m not much. I suppose there are lots of entries, eh?”

“Only about sixteen, I think. You’re one of the upper middle relay
team, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m to run last, I believe. I hope we beat the seniors,” laughed
Trevor.

“I guess I’ve got more reason to want to win than you,” responded
Stewart. “My father and mother are coming up for the meet. We live in
Poughkeepsie, you know; I’d like awfully to win that two-twenty, but I
guess I won’t.”

“Well, I don’t think you need be afraid of me,” said Trevor; “I feel
rather rusty to-day. Fact is, you know, I’m a bit too heavy on my legs
for sprints, I fancy. I think I’ll chuck it after Saturday night; I’m
going to try for the crew.”

“Are you?” said Stewart admiringly. “You look as though you’d make a
cracking good oar. I sometimes think I’d like to try for the crew;
perhaps I can year after next; Beck doesn’t want me to now, he says.”

“Doesn’t want you to? Do you mean he’s forbid you?”

“N-no, he hasn’t forbidden me; but I always do as he tells me.
You see”--Stewart paused in the middle of a struggle with a white
sweater--“Beck’s done all sorts of things for me. Why, when I came
here a year ago last fall I only weighed about eighty pounds; I was
always tired, and didn’t have any--any ambition for anything; used to
sit in my room and read. Of course there’s no harm in reading, but I
didn’t seem to do anything else; Gray--I room with him over in the
village--Gray used to call me the ‘White Mouse.’ I guess I was a pretty
poor-looking youngster. Well, Professor Beck got hold of me one day
and induced me to take up a course of training; of course I’d been
doing my two days a week here at the weights and things, but I always
shirked and got tired, and it never did me any good, I guess. But Beck
made me take walks, wouldn’t let me eat anything but what was on a list
he gave me, and put me at weights. Finally he got me to try jumping,
and then running. I liked running right away. First thing I knew I
couldn’t get enough to eat, it seemed; used to be hungry every meal.
Then I entered the four hundred and forty yards last winter at the
indoor meeting and came in second. After that I couldn’t run enough. I
won the four hundred and forty at the handicap meet in the spring, and
wanted to go to the Interscholastic Meet, only Beck said I’d better
wait until this year. Of course I’m not a Samson yet, but I’m about two
hundred per cent better than I was a year or so ago. And--and Beck did
it. And that’s why I do what he says.”

“I see,” answered Trevor. “Well, Beck knows his business. You look
about as fit as any chap I’ve seen here, and I don’t blame you for
giving under to him. By the way, Gray’s the baseball captain, isn’t he?
Rather tall, thin chap?”

“Yes, he’s awfully smart, regular jack-of-all-trades. He used to do
stunts for the fellows, like mend golf clubs and cricket bats, and mold
golf balls and things, and made pretty near enough money last year to
pay his board and room rent. But he got the Carmichael scholarship
last winter, and so he doesn’t do much of that sort this term. This is
his second year as captain of the nine, and I guess he could be captain
again if he was going to be here, but he goes up to college next fall.
He--he’s been a--he’s been awfully kind to me--ever since I came here.”
Stewart glanced rather apologetically at Trevor, doubtful as to whether
he would feel a schoolboy’s contempt for the trace of feeling that he
had unintentionally allowed to creep into his tones. But Trevor smiled
understandingly.

“Must be a good sort,” he answered sympathetically. “Hello, here’s
Hope.”

Dick approached and nodded smilingly to the two. He had a slip of paper
in his hand, and as he greeted them he glanced over the dressing-room
as though in search of some one.

“Have either of you fellows seen Professor Beck?” Both replied in the
negative, and Dick folded up the slip and placed it in his pocket.
“I’ve been looking all over the place for him; wanted to see him about
the crew candidates. By the way, Nesbitt, we want you to report here a
week from Tuesday at four o’clock. I’m going to post the notices this
evening. Carl tells me you’re going to try for the two hundred and
twenty yards, Stewart?”

“Yes, I’m down for it, but Nesbitt here says he’s entered too, and I’m
rather doubtful of my chances now.”

“I didn’t know you ran,” said Dick, turning to Trevor.

“Oh, yes, I run a bit, now and then. I’ve been jogging round the track
and feel as stiff as a poker.”

“That’ll wear off all right. I was stiff myself to-day--at recitations.”

“I should say so,” exclaimed Stewart. “I honestly didn’t know a thing.
I think they ought to give us a day after recess to get caught up
with things; a fellow can’t do any studying the night he gets back to
school. I went to the library last night and almost fell asleep over an
encyclopedia.”

“Well, you did better than I did. I scarcely looked into a book.”

“Ditto,” said Trevor. “‘Turkey’ gave us fits; there wasn’t a chap in
the English class knew what the lesson was.”

“Well, I’m going to have a go at the weights,” said Dick. “See you two
later.”

“And I guess I’ll go back to the room,” said Stewart. “If you haven’t
anything better to do, Nesbitt, you might walk over that way.”

“Thanks, but Wheels is rather careful of my health just now, and
doesn’t want me to leave the grounds; he’s afraid I might get my feet
wet, I fancy; so I’ll come over and see you some other time. I have
half an idea to do some studying, just to be queer.”

The two went out together, and Dick, opening his locker, proceeded to
attire himself in his gymnasium clothes. The room had filled up with
boys, and he was kept busy answering questions about the crew. A big
youth in a blue-and-white striped sweater entered, and, seeing Dick,
made for him at once.

“Say, Hope, is it so that we’re not going to have any crew this spring?”

“No, it’s not so. We’re going to have the best crew that we ever put
into the water,” answered Dick. “Who told you such rot as that?”

“Blessed if I know who did say it, but I’ve heard one or two fellows
talking about it. I’m glad there’s no truth in it, old chap; I didn’t
think there was, you know. When are we going to work?”

“Report a week from Tuesday at four, will you? I guess we’ll start the
trouble about the fifteenth. And say, Crocker, if you hear any one
talking nonsense about no crew or poor material, just call them down,
will you? There’s nothing in it, and it’s hard enough anyhow to get the
fellows to turn out without any rumors of that sort.”

“All right.”

Crocker swung himself off, and Dick went into the gymnasium and set
to work at the weights. With the cords over his shoulders and the
irons sliding rhythmically in the box, he began to go over in his mind
a conversation he had had a half hour before with Carl Gray. Carl’s
information had not been encouraging, and Dick was more worried than
he liked to own even to himself. Carl had stayed at the academy during
the recess, as had Roy Taylor--the first for financial reasons, the
latter because his home was half-way across the continent. According
to Carl, Taylor had been very active for a week past in predicting a
failure for the crew among the old men and the possible candidates. He
could have but one end in view, to discourage the fellows, and render
it difficult, if not impossible, for Dick to get enough good men to
form a winning eight. The worst of it was, he reflected, that Taylor’s
manner of creating discouragement was so artful that it was out of the
question to charge him with it. Even during his loudest talk about the
uselessness of trying to form a good crew, he never failed to announce
his intention of reporting for practice and of doing all in his power
to avert the impending defeat. And now, as evidenced by Crocker’s
remark a few minutes since, he had even managed to gain circulation for
the report that there was to be no crew at all!

Dick changed his position, pulling the grips with half-arm movement to
his shoulders, and frowned wrathfully at the wall. Carl was right, he
told himself; Taylor deserved to have his head punched! That, however,
was the last remedy to be considered, if only for the reason that to
lose Taylor from the boat meant almost certain defeat. For the big
Nebraskan was without any doubt the best man at Number 7 that a Hillton
crew had had for many years--strong, a hard worker, and an excellent
oar. Plainly the last thing to do was to antagonize him. Besides, he
was popular among quite a lot of the fellows, and his word undoubtedly
had weight; another reason for making almost any sacrifice to retain
his good-will. If there was only another man to take his place at
Number 7, thought Dick, tugging the cords viciously, he’d mighty
soon spoil his game, but--he ran quickly over the fellows who by any
possible stretch of the imagination might be considered material for
Taylor’s position in the boat, and sighed. There was no one. It might
be that there was one among the newer candidates who, by dint of hard
work, could be fashioned into a good Number 7, but to lose Taylor
for such a possibility was risky work. No, the only course was to
apparently know nothing of Taylor’s underhand work, to undo it as best
he could, and to at all hazards keep him in the crew. For a moment Dick
wished that Taylor had been made captain.

“Hello, Hope!”

Dick turned to find a big, good-looking youth of eighteen with a rather
florid complexion and black eyes and hair smiling broadly upon him. He
was dressed in knitted tights and jersey that showed an almost perfect
form, and swung a pair of boxing-gloves in one hand.

“Hello, Taylor,” answered Dick, forcing himself to return the smile.
“How are you?”

“First-rate. Glad to see you back. Some one said you were in here, and
I thought I’d look you up; wanted to ask about crew practice. When are
the fellows going to report?”

“Tuesday week.”

“All right; I’ll be on hand. Rather a tough outlook, though, I expect.”

“Oh, I don’t know; we’ve enough of last year’s fellows to make a good
basis for the new crew. I think we’ll do pretty well.”

Taylor shook his head sadly, then looked up and smiled brightly.

“Well, never say die, eh? We must all do our best. You can count on me,
you know, old fellow. In fact, I’ve been drumming up trade already;
persuaded quite a bunch of chaps to report. The trouble is that they
don’t seem to think it’s worth while; seem to be cock-sure that we’ll
be beaten.”

“Do they? I haven’t heard anything of that sort. There isn’t any good
reason for it, anyhow.”

“Oh, come now, Hope, you’ll have to own up we’ve got a hard row to hoe.
I wouldn’t say so to any one else, you understand, but just between
ourselves, I don’t think we’ve got the ghost of a show.”

“Well,” answered Dick smilingly, “all the more reason for hard work.
And for goodness’ sake, don’t let the fellows hear you talking that
way.”

“Me? I guess not,” protested Taylor. “I know better than that, I hope!
Well, I’m going to have a bout with Miller; see you again.”

As the other turned and crossed the floor, Dick became possessed of an
almost overwhelming desire to follow him and call him to account; to
have it out with him then and there, and, if necessary, to--to---- His
fists clenched themselves and he set his teeth together. He was glad
when Taylor passed from sight. Turning again to the weights he seized
the cords and for many minutes the irons bumped and banged up and down
in the slides as though--well, as though some one thereabouts was
hopping mad.



CHAPTER V

THE INDOOR MEETING


The gymnasium was brilliantly lighted, and the seats that had been
placed under the balconies were well filled, for, despite the
inclemency of the weather, the town folks had turned out in force
for the indoor meeting. The floor had been cleared of standards and
bars, while ropes, rings, and trapezes had been relegated to the dim
recesses of the arching roof. A running track had been roped off on
the main floor, with inclined platforms at the corners of the hall to
aid the runners at the turns, while the regular track above was turned
into a temporary gallery from which the fellows who were not going to
compete--and there were about a hundred and fifty of them--viewed the
fun, leaning far over the railing, laughing, shouting, and singing
excitedly. The four classes had gathered each to itself as far as was
possible; the seniors on the left, the upper middle class on the right,
the lower middle at one end of the hall and the juniors at the other.
In front of them long draperies of class colors festooned the railing,
and class challenged class with cheers and songs, and the Hillton band
struggled bravely with a popular march.

The trial heats in several of the events had already been run off,
and in the middle of the floor a number of contestants were putting
a canvas-covered twelve-pound shot with varying success when Stewart
Earle, accompanied by Trevor Nesbitt, left the dressing-room, and
pushing their way through the narrow aisles between the rows of chairs,
at last reached the former’s father and mother, who, in company with a
tall and slender boy of sixteen, occupied seats next to the improvised
barrier that divided audience from running track.

“I want you to know Trevor Nesbitt,” said Stewart. “Nesbitt, my mother
and father. And that little boy beyond there is Master Carl Gray.”
Trevor shook hands with a small, middle-aged gentleman in sober black,
who peered upward at him in a manner that suggested near-sightedness,
and with a lady somewhat younger than her husband, whose plain but kind
face and sweet voice at once won his heart. As Gray was quite beyond
reach of his hand, he merely accorded that youth a smiling nod. Stewart
was still talking.

“You remember, mother, I told you that Nesbitt was going to run in
the two hundred and twenty yards, don’t you? Well, the funny part
of it is that we ran a dead heat in the first trial! I guess I’m a
goner already.” He ended with a smile that only partly concealed his
uneasiness.

His mother smiled from him to Trevor.

“Then you two boys will run together?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” answered Trevor. “There’s five of us left for the final.”

“That’s very nice,” she replied, “for if Stewart is beaten he will not
feel so badly if you are the winner, will you, dear?”

Trevor muttered something about there being no danger of his winning,
while Stewart answered gaily: “But you’re leaving the other three chaps
out of the game, mother; perhaps one of them will beat us both.”

“No fear,” said Carl Gray; “Dunlop’s a stiff, Wharton isn’t in your
class, Stew, and as for Milkam, well, I think you can beat him out all
right at a hop; so it’s between you and Nesbitt, and may the best man
win.”

“That’s right,” said Mr. Earle, nodding his head approvingly. “If your
friend is a better runner than you, Stewart, he should win, of course.
When do you race?” He held a program up to his eyes and scowled in an
endeavor to decipher the lines.

“In about twenty minutes, I guess. Let me see, father.” Stewart
took the program. “‘Twenty-yard dash, junior; twenty-yard dash,
senior; putting twelve-pound shot; running high jump; one-mile run;
pole vault; sixty-yard hurdle; eight-hundred-and-eighty-yard run;
two-hundred-and-twenty-yard dash; relay race, one mile, lower middle
class versus junior class; relay race, one mile, senior class versus
upper middle class.’ Well, you can’t tell by this, I guess; they’ll
just pull off the events when they feel like it.”

“All out for the eight hundred and eighty yards,” cried a voice across
the building.

“There, see?” said Stewart. “That event’s down after the hurdles; you
can’t tell much by the program; you never can. I wish they’d call the
two hundred and twenty now, though.”

“Getting nervous, Stew?” asked Carl Gray.

“A little, I guess. There they come for the half mile. Look, there’s
Keeler of our class; he’s one of our relay team; isn’t he a peach?”

“A what, dear?” asked his mother.

“A--er--well, I mean isn’t he fine?” stammered Stewart, while Carl and
Trevor exchanged grins.

“Is he? He looks from here dreadfully thin,” answered Mrs. Earle.

“That’s partly what makes him a good runner,” explained Stewart. “He’s
all muscle, scarcely any weight to carry.”

“Well, dear, I do hope you won’t get to looking like that.”

“Humph, I should hope not.” This from Stewart’s father. The bunch of
ten runners had left the mark, and had begun their long series of tours
about the track, cheered from the gallery by their fellows. “Go it,
Keeler!” shouted Stewart as a youth with ludicrously long legs ambled
past, almost the last of the group. A quick glance and a fleeting grin
from a queer, good-humored, and very freckled face answered Stewart’s
cry, and the runners swept by, their feet pounding loudly as they took
the inclines at the turns. The shot putting was over and the victor, a
dumpy-looking boy with the lower middle class colors across his shirt,
had been clamorously hailed as he walked off with superb dignity, and
the vaulting standards were being put in place while a group of half a
dozen youths trod gingerly about looking very serious and important.
Finally the bar was up, with a white handkerchief across it, and one
after another of the contestants, with the long pole in their hands,
ran lightly forward, rose till their white-clad bodies swung out from
the staff like pennants, and dropped across the bar.

“Why, how easily they do it!” cried Mrs. Earle admiringly, and
Stewart’s father clapped his hands vigorously.

“Huh,” said Stewart, “that’s nothing; they haven’t begun yet; just wait
until they get that bar up to about nine feet.”

“Nine feet! Why, how high is it now, dear?”

“’Bout seven foot eight, I should think; eh, Carl?”

“There it goes to the even eight,” answered Carl, as the judges raised
the bar.

“Is--is there any danger of their falling, Carl,” asked Mrs. Earle.

“Not a bit, and if they do they’ll hit the mattress. I say, Stew, look
at Keeler.”

The runners had completed half the distance, and as they again swept
by the freckled-faced and long-legged lower middle class boy left his
place near the rear of the procession, and with an easy spurt placed
himself in the first group. The three boys added their applause to that
which thundered down from the far end of the gallery.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he won,” said Trevor. “He’s running easy
and has lots more spurt left, to look at him. But, of course, Manning
is a pretty tough proposition, I fancy.”

“Manning isn’t what he cracks himself up to be,” said Carl decidedly.
“And I’ll just bet you that Keeler wins out easily.”

A bell clanged warningly, and the tumult in the gallery increased.
“Last lap, fellows! Last lap!” “Go it, Freckles!” “Brace up, Manning!
Come on, come on!” But Manning couldn’t “come on” to any great extent,
and the lower middle boys, leaning perilously over the edge of the
gallery, fluttered their colors frantically and shouted incoherent
advice, entreaty, and triumph as Keeler, his long legs working like a
well-lubricated machine, his freckled face overspread with an easy and
confident smile, swept superbly by the exhausted Manning and two other
runners and crossed the line, as Carl had predicted, an easy winner.

When the tumult had subsided to some extent the trial heats in the
senior twenty-yard dash were begun, the track being diagonally across
the floor, and bunch after bunch of white-clad youths raced like
the wind toward the tape. The pole vaulting came to an end with a
record-breaking accomplishment of nine feet two inches by a member
of the upper middle class, and the running high jump began. Then,
“All out for the two-twenty, and hurry up!” came the command from
somewhere, and Stewart and Trevor struggled through the throng toward
the dressing-room to throw aside their wraps.

A minute or two later five boys stood on their marks awaiting the
report of the starter’s pistol. Trevor found himself by the side of
Dunlop; then came Stewart, Milkam, and Wharton. There was a golden haze
of floating dust in the air, and the faces of Stewart’s father and
mother and of Carl Gray were indistinct across the building.

“Ready!”

“Get set!”

There was an intense silence about the starting-line, but from above
came a deep sound of lowered voices, subdued laughter and the tramping
of restless, excited feet.

“_Bang!_”

And ere the report had wholly died away the five runners were a
quarter-way about the track on the first of the three laps constituting
the two hundred and twenty yards.

As they passed under the left side of the gallery the seniors leaned
over in an endeavor to catch sight of them and urged their two heroes,
Wharton and Milkam, with eager cries. Then the turn was made, and
Trevor, glancing upward fleetingly, saw a long row of faces peering
down with open mouths from which came shouts of “Nesbitt! Nesbitt!”
“Dunlop! Dunlop!” A long banner of upper middle class colors writhed
serpent-like above him, and then he was under the gallery, running
swiftly. Now and then he caught a blare of a merry two-step from the
hard-worked band. He glanced aside. Stewart was even with him, his face
anxious and somewhat pale. Wharton, Milkam, and Dunlop were strung out
behind, but all well in the race.

Up in the gallery, on the left, sat Dick Hope among the seniors. Beside
him were Williams and a stout, red-faced youth whose real name was
Todd, but who was more generally known as “Toad.” Dick watched the
runners circle the end of the building.

“First lap’s done,” he said. “That roommate of mine, Nesbitt, seems to
be something of a runner.”

“Sure,” answered Todd, “’Is ’Ighness is all right, if he _is_ a bloody
Englishman.”

“I’d rather be English than Dutch, Toad,” grinned Williams.

“Shut up, you; I’m no more Dutch than you are. Here they come! _Brace
up, Wharton!_” and Todd leaned over the railing and waved his cap
wildly in air.

“You might as well save your breath, I guess,” said Dick. “Wharton’s
out of it, and so’s Milkam. The race’s between Nesbitt and young Earle.
And as we can’t win it, I hope Earle will. He’s a decent, plucky
youngster; and--well, anything to beat upper middle, you know.”

“You’re not very loyal to your chum,” grinned Williams.

“He has no business being in the upper middle,” responded Dick calmly.
“By Jove, look there!”

Across the gymnasium the runners were speeding down the back-stretch,
Trevor and Stewart, side by side, leaving the other three farther and
farther behind at every step. Wharton and Milkam were practically
out of it; Dunlop was ten yards to the bad, but running strongly and
apparently still capable of retrieving his lost ground. At the turn
Trevor hugged the inside of the track and Stewart, smaller, lither, and
speedier-looking, snuggled in close behind him. Dunlop, head back, a
look of grim determination on his face, spurted until he had gained a
position but a scant two yards behind Stewart.

“Good boy, Dunlop!” shouted Williams, while from across the building
came a wild cry of joy from dozens of throats.

“I guess that’s his last spurt,” muttered Dick; “he’s showing the pace.”

And so it proved. The bell rang warningly, and the shouting from
excited partisans increased in volume as the last lap commenced.
Trevor, still ahead, increased his speed. Stewart accepted the
challenge promptly, and Dunlop, after a brave but futile effort to
keep his place, was left behind. Milkam and Wharton plodded along
easily a full half lap in the rear until the latter, spying Dunlop’s
predicament, suddenly spurted, and entered the lists with him in a
contest for third place, leaving Milkam, bewildered, hopelessly last.

[Illustration: On the last lap.]

At the second turn Trevor had given place to Stewart. When the two
entered the back-stretch Trevor drew alongside his rival again, stayed
there for an instant, and then drew ahead. The gymnasium was a babel
of voices. The last lap was half run, and Trevor had put two yards of
track between him and Stewart. Many yards behind Dunlop and Wharton
were having a hot race of their own wholly unnoticed, for every eye
followed the two youths whose flying feet were now pounding the incline
at the third corner.

“’Is ’Ighness wins easily,” said Todd, shouting to make himself heard
above the shrieks of his neighbors. Dick nodded. He was sorry to see
Stewart beaten, but surprised to find himself suddenly experiencing a
sensation of pride in the work of his roommate. After all, he had run a
great race and deserved to win; and really, when he came to think about
it, Nesbitt was handicapped by greater weight, and----

“Earle’s closing up!” cried Williams.

And so it was. With the contest almost over, the younger boy had forged
ahead, and at the last turn secured the inside of the track. Trevor
was wobbling! Twice he swerved unsteadily, but as the home-stretch was
reached appeared to pull himself together with an effort, and gallantly
strove to pass Stewart. But the latter, running steadily and seemingly
untired, not only held his own, but tacked another two yards onto his
gain and breasted the tape an easy winner! And how lower middle did
yell!

Dunlop and Wharton fought it out to the end side by side, the former
securing third place by the smallest of margins.

“Well, what do you think of that!” exclaimed Williams in deep disgust
as soon as he could make himself heard. “Why, ’Is ’Ighness had the race
in his pocket!”

“I think----” Dick hesitated.

“What do you think?” Dick smiled.

“I think Nesbitt was beaten,” he answered.

Williams viewed him in painful disgust.

“I think you’re nutty,” he growled. “Don’t you suppose I can see when a
man’s beaten?”

“Not always, I guess,” replied Dick enigmatically.

Whereupon Williams begged Todd to bathe Dick’s head, and in the fracas
that followed the amazing result of the two-hundred-and-twenty-yard
dash was for the time forgotten.



CHAPTER VI

THE RELAY RACE


That evening was destined to be one of triumph for Stewart Earle
and the lower middle class. In the relay race that followed the
two-hundred-and-twenty-yard dash the juniors had never a chance from
first to last, and lower middle’s fourth man cantered home almost in
time to tag the junior’s last runner ere he left the mark. Stewart
and Trevor viewed the contest squatting on the floor beside the seats
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Earle and Carl Gray.

Stewart’s mother had welcomed victor and vanquished with impartial
favor, although her pride and pleasure in her boy’s success was
patent to all. Stewart’s father smiled near-sightedly at Trevor, and
assured him that he had made a remarkable race, but his words didn’t
disguise for a moment the fact that he had expected Stewart to win,
and that he was somewhat surprised at Trevor’s thinking for a moment
that he (Trevor) stood any chance of victory. Even Stewart appeared
uncomfortable at his father’s tone, and strove to change the subject
lest Trevor should feel hurt. But the latter was genuinely glad that
Stewart’s parents had witnessed a victory for their son and had never
a thought of disappointment or envy. As to the reason for his sudden
and unexpected giving-out, however, Trevor had little to say, and when
Carl suggested that perhaps he had insufficient training since the
recess he eagerly acknowledged that that might have had something to do
with it.

“But I never had a hope of winning,” Stewart had cried, “after the
second round! I just kept on going because--well, you know--just to
make as good a showing as I could. When you fell behind I was so
surprised that I almost stopped.”

The sixty-yard hurdle-race proved of exciting interest to Mr. and Mrs.
Earle, and every one else, for that matter, and was won in the closest
kind of a finish by a senior class fellow in the remarkably good time
of eight seconds. The one-mile run followed, but failed to awaken
much enthusiasm from the audience, who were impatient for the final
event, the senior-upper middle relay race. When the mile run was half
over Trevor shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. Earle, and, encouraged by
their hearty wishes for his success, hurried off to the dressing-room.
Kernan, captain of the upper middle team, took him aside and questioned
him anxiously.

“I’m afraid you’re not very fit, Nesbitt. I was going to run you last,
but I guess I’ll let Chalmers have the final and put you second. How do
you feel?”

“Spiffin!” answered Trevor heartily, “never felt better. Don’t get it
into your noddle that I’m done up, old chap, and don’t change the
order on account of that two-twenty dash. That was judgment more than
anything else----”

“Judgment!” ejaculated Kernan. “I didn’t see much judgment in it!”

“That’s your stupidity, Kernan. Can’t stop to explain now; but just you
go ahead and let me run last, like a good fellow, and I promise you you
won’t regret it.” Kernan frowned hesitatingly; then his face cleared
and he slapped Trevor on the back.

“All right, Nesbitt; run last you shall. I don’t pretend to understand
that two-twenty, but I’ll trust you to do your work. We’ve got a stiff
race, I guess, but we’re not beaten yet. The seniors will put Taylor
last, I expect; he’s a good man, all right, but if we can hold onto
them until the last round I think you can down him. What do you say?”

“I say you give me a fairly even start with Roy Taylor, and I’ll beat
him out!” answered Trevor doggedly.

“That’s the stuff! Of course, I can’t promise the even start, but I’ll
do my best, Nesbitt; and you’ll do yours, I know, and----”

“Ready for the relay! All out, fellows!”

Trevor, Kernan, and the other two members of their team, Chalmers
and Johnston, hurried to the starting-line, followed by four very
proper-looking boys wearing the senior colors. The band, hidden from
sight by a fringe of shouting juniors at the end of the gallery, played
for all it was worth. The seniors and upper middle fellows were
cheering the members of their teams individually and collectively, and
the uproar was tremendous.

Professor Beck, athletic director, and at present that court of last
appeal, the referee, gave the instructions in quick, clear tones as
the first two contestants stood on their marks. The professor was a
short man who wore glasses, who always dressed faultlessly, whether
for a principal’s reception or an afternoon on the campus, whose
slightest turn of the head or crook of the finger bespoke authority,
and whose voice, ordinarily low but incisive, could swell into a very
fair imitation of a speaking-trumpet on short notice. For the rest,
he understood boy nature from A to Z, and beyond, and could turn a
good track athlete out of anything except a wooden post, given the
opportunity. Hillton fellows, when graduated from the narrow prejudices
of the junior year, worshiped two local deities--Professor Wheeler,
the principal, and Professor Beck; and there was a well-defined notion
prevalent that should some beneficent Fate remove from the academy all
the rest of the faculty things would not only continue undisturbed, but
would run better than ever.

I have dealt at some length on Professor Beck because he is a person of
much importance. When he dies--may the day be far!--his portrait will
hang beside those of the founder and past principals in the chapel, to
be outwardly guyed and inwardly reverenced by succeeding generations of
loyal Hilltonians.

“Now, get them off quickly,” commanded the professor. The starter cried
his perfunctory “On your marks! Get set!” and then the little pistol
barked with all the ferocity of a toy spaniel, and the great event of
the meeting, the senior-upper middle one-mile relay race, was on.

Johnston, for the upper middle, and a youth named Cummings, for the
seniors, shot off together, and began their quarter mile as though they
had but one lap to accomplish instead of six. The pace was too good to
last, and every one knew it, including the runners, and so, when they
had made the first round of the track, they slowed down as though by
mutual consent, and went at the contest in businesslike style. Seniors
and upper middle classmen cheered their respective candidates, and
hurled taunts across the hall.

    “The U. M. is a stupid pup
     Who laps his milk from out a cup;
     He may have sense when he grows up
         And gets to be a Senior!”

To this chanted aspersion the upper middle fellows replied with
howls of derision, and started upon their own poetic catalogue of
the deficiencies of the rival class, the first verse of which ran as
follows:

    “Said the Prof. unto the Senior:
     ‘You must alter your demeanor,
     For such ways I’ve never seen; you’re
         Quite as awkward as a hen;
     Your walk is most unsightly, sir;
     Pray place your feet more lightly, sir,
     And always bow politely, sir,
         To the Upper Middle men!’”

There were five more verses to it, and while it lasted the seniors, led
by Dick and Todd, could only cheer incessantly and stamp their feet in
a hopeless endeavor to drown the song.

Meanwhile the first quarter of the race was nearly over, and Johnston
and Cummings, the former leading by a scant ten yards, were spurting
along the back-stretch. Then the senior runner reached the line,
touched hands with the next man, and dropped from the track tired and
breathless just as Cummings came up and Chalmers took his place in the
race.

As Johnston crossed the line Dick slipped his watch back into his
pocket. “Fifty-seven and four fifths seconds!” he bawled into
Williams’s ear. “Johnston ought to have done better by three fifths.”

Williams nodded. “We’ve got the start of them, however,” he answered.

On the second lap Clark, the senior runner, increased the lead to a
good fifteen yards, and from there on to the finish, Chalmers, try as
he might and did, could not close the gap, and the second quarter was
finished in the good time of fifty-seven and one fifth seconds. Kernan,
the upper middle team captain, entered the race with set, determined
face, and ere the first lap of the third quarter had been reeled off
had raised the flagging hopes of his classmates by a wonderful burst
of speed that put him on equal terms with the senior runner, Morris.
At the third corner he secured the inside of the track, and kept it
during the whole of the second, third, and fourth laps, although Morris
tried hard to reach him.

The shouting from the upper middle seats was wild and continuous, and
the swirling banners waved riotously over Kernan as, with head back and
bare legs twinkling, he sped along, every instant now lengthening the
space between him and the pursuer. And then suddenly the cheers and
shouts of acclaim were changed to cries of alarm and dismay. There was
the sound of a fall, and a white-clad form plunged to the floor and
rolled over and over. Kernan at the third corner had tripped on the
incline.

Morris, racing along but a few yards behind, leaped over the rolling
body, stumbled, recovered himself after a few strides, and went on.
Half a dozen fellows hurried toward Kernan, but he was on his feet
again before they could reach him, and, although he was plainly bruised
and sore from his fall, took up the running pluckily, amid cheers. But
his task was a hopeless one. Morris had used the misadventure to good
purpose, and now between him and the upper middle captain a third of a
lap stretched. Kernan, with white face, tried desperately to make up
the lost ground, and even succeeded in doing so to some extent, but
Morris’s lead was too great, and that youth swept breathlessly over
the line, nearly a quarter of a lap to the good, and, touching the
impatient, outstretched fingers of Roy Taylor, sank exhausted to the
floor.

Trevor, poised for a quick start, heard Taylor’s feet resounding
over the first incline as Kernan, staggering by, touched his hand
for a fleeting instant and toppled over. With a dash Trevor took up
the running. A quarter of a lap was more than he had bargained for
when he had professed his ability to beat Roy Taylor, but he was not
discouraged. He knew Taylor well; knew that that youth was a fast and
steady runner at quarter- and half-mile distances, but knew also that,
while a spurt at the finish was quite within Taylor’s powers, a series
of fast dashes had the effect of worrying and exciting him. Trevor
laid his plans accordingly. He realized intuitively that he was in
better condition than his rival for hard and fast work; he had run in
the two-hundred-and-twenty-yard event, while Taylor had not been on
the track before that evening; a fact which, in Trevor’s present good
physical shape, worked to his advantage; his former race, despite his
defeat, had served to put him into excellent condition for this one. He
ran easily, maintaining the distance between Taylor and himself, and at
the commencement of the second of the six laps constituting the last
quarter of the race he was still a quarter of a lap behind.

“That’s good work, Nesbitt,” cried Kernan, who, sprawled out on a
mattress, was at last beginning to find his breath once more. The
band was almost vainly striving to make its brazen notes heard above
the shouting of the students, while pennants of class colors writhed
serpent-like in the air, and seniors and upper middle classmen hurled
defiant cheers at each other across the intervening space. The lower
middle boys and the juniors cheered indiscriminately, although there
was a tendency among the latter class to uphold the seniors. Dick,
Williams, Todd, and their companions leaned over the railing and
watched the contest excitedly. Trevor and Taylor had begun the second
lap, the former with eyes intent upon the youth ahead, the latter
running with a great show of style, and with an easy and confident
smile upon his face.

“Taylor runs just as he does everything,” grumbled Todd, “with one eye
on the gallery.”

“He does like to show off,” assented Williams. “Hello!”

A roar went up from floor and balcony, and Roy Taylor, just mounting
the second incline, turned his head to see Trevor coming up on him like
a whirlwind. Instantly he leaped away, and the seniors, for a moment
dismayed, gave voice to their relief and approval. Trevor settled down
into his former pace, well satisfied, for by that unexpected spurt he
had taken off nearly a half of the distance that had separated him
from his opponent. Taylor, as soon as he saw the danger over, settled
back into his former even but not extraordinary pace, and finished the
second lap running well within himself. The third lap began with more
encouraging prospects for the upper middle class.



CHAPTER VII

TREVOR’S VICTORY


“I don’t like Taylor’s letting ’Is ’Ighness creep up on him that way,”
objected Williams. “He was napping; and he’ll need every foot he can
get before the race is over.”

“Nesbitt’s doing some head-work,” answered Dick, with a note of
admiration in his voice, “and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get
the best of Taylor yet. If he can keep up---- Look there!”

Trevor was at his former tactics. Just as Taylor reached the second
corner the upper middle boy fairly threw himself forward, and ere the
senior runner had taken alarm had closed up with him until a mere six
yards intervened. The upper middle fellows howled with delight, and the
seniors, striving to hide their dismay, cheered lustily. Taylor’s face
wore a scowl as he increased his speed and strove to regain his lost
lead.

But Trevor held what he had taken, took his pace from Taylor, and with
never a look to right or left, kept doggedly at the other’s heels. The
fourth lap started in a veritable pandemonium. Taylor was now but a
scant ten yards in the lead, and those who saw Trevor’s calm, intent
gaze fastened upon the other boy’s shoulders realized that, barring a
mishap such as had fallen to the lot of Kernan, he would, if he did not
actually win, at least finish so close behind Taylor as to make the
race one of the closest ever witnessed at Hillton, indoors or out.

This time Taylor was on the lookout, and when Trevor spurted was
ready for him and so held his advantage. Trevor was well satisfied,
for he had no wish to pass Taylor at that time, but only to tire and
worry him. His spurt lasted until the line was again crossed. And now
Taylor took the initiative and increased his speed, for, as Trevor had
expected, the short spurts had made him nervous. But shake off his
pursuer he could not, and with the lap half run but five yards lay
between the two.

“He’s a silly chump!” shouted Todd angrily, glaring across at the
speeding senior runner. “Why doesn’t he keep that for the last lap;
can’t he see he’s begun to spurt too early?”

“I have an idea that Trevor Nesbitt’s got him scared,” answered Dick.

“You just bet he has; he’s worried to death!” This from Williams, who
was scowling blackly. “He deserves to lose it.”

“And Nesbitt deserves to win it,” said Dick.

“Humph! You seem to have changed your tune!”

Dick accepted the gibe good-naturedly.

“I have; I think Nesbitt’s the headiest youngster I’ve seen in a long
while, and as for Taylor----”

The bell clanged loudly, announcing the beginning of the last lap, and
every fellow in the balcony was on his feet in the instant. As he took
the first turn Taylor glanced hurriedly back and met the unwavering
and, as it seemed to him, relentless stare of Trevor, and putting every
effort into his work again increased his pace. Everybody was shouting
now, but as the two runners passed under the seniors’ balcony one voice
sounded more loudly than all:

“Good work, Nesbitt!”

And Trevor heard it and recognized Dick Hope’s voice, and for an
instant a smile crossed his face. Then the second incline was under
his feet, and he had to use care lest he trip. But he got safely over,
and now the time for his final effort had come. Into the back-stretch
he sped, and the watchers held their breath, for foot by foot the lost
ground was being eaten up by his flying feet. Then a burst of applause
shook the rafters and Taylor, running despairingly, heard the other
lad’s feet at his side, strove to goad his wearied limbs into faster
strides, and found with dismay at his heart that he had reached his
limit.

At the third corner Trevor with a final effort leaped into the lead,
hugging the inside of the track. At the last corner he was a yard to
the good, and from there down to the finish line, where Kernan and
Chalmers and Johnston leaped frantically about the floor, he held his
vantage, and so toppled over into eager, outspread arms, aching,
breathless, and weak, but winner of the race. And as he stretched
himself gratefully on the mattress he heard the timekeeper announce:

“Last quarter, fifty-seven and one fifth; the mile, three forty-eight
and two fifths.”

When Trevor reached his room he found Dick seated in front of the fire,
a Latin text-book face downward in his lap, his arms over his head,
and his eyes closed. The fire was almost out, and the room was chilly.
Trevor as silently as possible placed another log in the grate, and,
disappearing into the bedroom, came out again with his dressing-gown,
which after a moment’s hesitation he spread over the sleeper’s knees.
Then he doffed his coat and cap, and standing by the fireplace held
his chilled hands to the blaze and looked down at Dick. And as he
looked he fell to wondering why it was that he and his roommate got
on together so badly. It was not _his_ fault, he told himself; he had
tried every way he knew to thaw Dick’s indifference. It was now ten
days since the winter term had commenced, and the two boys were as
much strangers to each other as they had been after Trevor’s burst of
confidence on their first night together. Trevor often regretted that
confidence; he sometimes thought that he had bored Dick with his family
photographs and history, and remembered with a flush that his roommate
had never responded in like manner. Of course, his cheekiness on the
stage-coach during that unfortunate drive had been the primary cause
of Dick’s dislike; and Trevor couldn’t blame the latter for taking
umbrage; only--well, he had apologized and explained, and it seemed
that the other ought to be willing to forgive. It was not that Dick was
nasty; he treated Trevor with good-humored politeness; fact was, Trevor
reflected dubiously, Dick was altogether too polite; his politeness was
of the sort which he imagined a judge might display toward the prisoner
in the dock. He wished that Dick would throw a boot at him so that they
could have it out and come to an understanding.

Dick moved restlessly and opened his eyes. His gaze encountered
Trevor’s and he smiled sleepily and stretched himself. Then he sat up
and looked about him perplexedly.

“Well, if I didn’t go to sleep!” he said. “What time is it?”

Trevor glanced at the battered alarm-clock on the table. “Ten minutes
of twelve,” he answered.

Dick yawned and suddenly spied the dressing-gown. He pulled it toward
him and looked at it in astonishment.

“What----?”

Trevor flushed as he answered hurriedly: “It was so bally chilly here
when I came in, you know; and I thought that maybe you’d catch cold. So
I threw that over you. Just pitch it on the floor there.”

“Thanks,” said Dick. “I expect it was chilly. I was going to put
another stick on the fire, and while I was thinking about it I suppose
I fell asleep. It’s pretty late, isn’t it? Well, to-morrow’s Sunday.”

He arose and the two began to prepare for bed. There was something in
Dick’s tone and manner quite friendly, and Trevor was puzzled.

“That was a great race you ran, Nesbitt,” said the former presently.

“The last one wasn’t so bad,” answered Trevor.

“Bad! It was fine!” replied Dick warmly. “It was the best bit of
head-work I’ve seen on a track. And I was glad you beat Taylor, even if
it did mean the loss of the race to the seniors. But I rather think I
liked the first race better.”

“Well, of course you would,” said Trevor. “Earle’s a friend of yours;
and he ran a good race. I--I didn’t much mind his beating; he seems
like a jolly good sort of a chap.”

“He is a good chap; and I know it pleased him like anything to win that
race, because his father and mother were there, you see.”

“Yes.”

“It would have been too bad if he’d lost it, wouldn’t it?” Dick was
smiling rather queerly, Trevor thought.

“I suppose it would,” he answered.

“Yes; and so you gave it to him.”

“What--what do you mean?” stammered Trevor, very red and uncomfortable.

“Why,” laughed Dick, “just what I said. You’re not going to deny that
you slowed down and let him win, are you?”

For a long moment Trevor was very busy with his nightshirt, which
suddenly exhibited an unwonted dislike to going on. Then:

“I fancy there’s no use denying it,” he muttered from the folds of the
mutinous garment.

“Not a bit,” answered Dick smilingly.

“You see,” explained Trevor presently, “Earle had set his heart on
winning, and it didn’t mean anything to me, you know; I hadn’t any
relatives looking on; and then his mother was so--so jolly nice about
it, and his father, and--and all, that I just thought he might as well
win. Doesn’t it--don’t you think it was all right?”

“Well, it wasn’t exactly fair, you know; but I guess it was something
even better,” answered Dick.

“Do you think Earle suspected anything?”

“I’m sure I don’t know; I didn’t see him. But Williams and Todd, who
were sitting with me, thought it was a straight race, and so I guess
Earle thought so too.”

Later, when the lights were out and the two were in bed, Dick broke the
silence.

“Are you awake, Nesbitt?”

“Yes,” came the reply from across the darkness.

“I’ve been thinking I’d take a good, long walk to-morrow after church;
up the river toward Port Wallace. Like to go along?”

“I should say so!” was the hearty reply.

“All right, I wish you would. Good-night.”

“Good-night,” answered Trevor. Then, as he burrowed his head
contentedly in the pillow, he thought: “I fancy it’s all right now, and
he won’t have to throw that boot after all!”



CHAPTER VIII

CANDIDATES FOR THE CREW


Roy Taylor’s work was apparent when on the following Tuesday afternoon
the candidates for the crew reported in the rowing-room at the
gymnasium. Dick counted the assemblage over twice, but could make no
more than nineteen, a sorry showing compared with last year; twenty
men--including himself--from which to select two eights! But he was
careful to let none of the discontent that he felt appear on his face.

“There aren’t very many of us, fellows,” he said cheerfully, “but I
guess we all mean business, and that’s a good deal.”

Professor Beck entered at that moment, paused to remove his rubbers,
and then surveyed the candidates through his glasses.

“Well, boys, are you all here?” His gaze traveled around the room. “But
I see that you’re not. Four o’clock was the hour, wasn’t it, Hope?”

“Yes, sir; and it’s now a quarter after. I guess they’re all here that
are coming.”

“Bless me, this won’t do! How many--four, six, ten, sixteen, twenty?
Twenty men for two crews. What do you fellows think we’re going to race
with this year, pair-oars?”

The candidates, perched about the room on window-sills and radiators,
smiled, but were careful not to laugh aloud, since it was evident that
the professor was thoroughly vexed.

“Hope, you’ll have to go among the fellows and work up some interest in
the crews; and Taylor, you’re an old-crew man, you do the same; and the
rest of you, too, I want you all to talk rowing, and next week I want
as many more candidates on hand. This is perfect poppycock! Twenty men,
indeed! Well, that’s all I’ve got to say to you; now listen to Captain
Hope.” And the professor withdrew to a window, where he polished his
glasses vigorously and made a number of the new candidates very nervous
by the critical way in which he studied them.

“I’d like every fellow’s name before he leaves,” said Dick. “And I
want to see every one here promptly at three o’clock next Wednesday
afternoon. Meanwhile those of you who haven’t been examined for
crew work will please attend to it. Have you set any special days,
professor?”

“Yes, to-morrow and Saturday afternoons,” answered the latter, “between
four and six.”

“You new fellows must understand that permits to take part in baseball
and track games won’t answer for rowing, so please see Mr. Beck
to-morrow if possible; if not, on Saturday. I hope that you’ll do as
Mr. Beck has requested; I mean try and work up more of an interest
in rowing; every fellow ought to be able to bring at least one other
fellow with him next Wednesday. We’ve got a hard proposition before
us this spring, but it’s by no means a hopeless one. We’ve beaten St.
Eustace on the river before--often--and we can do it again; but it
means lots of hard work, and any fellow that’s afraid of work might
as well pull out now, for we can’t have any shirking. Last spring
there was a good deal of trouble at the first of the season because
the candidates--some of them, that is--tried to get out of preliminary
work. That won’t do; the work on the weights at the beginning of the
season is really important, and it’s got to be faced; and I tell you
now that any fellow who won’t go through with it honestly isn’t wanted.
But I don’t believe there are any of that sort here to-day, and I hope
there won’t be next Wednesday. I guess that’s all I have to say. I
hope every fellow will bear in mind the fact that in trying for the
crew he is not only bettering his own physical condition and health,
but standing by the school; he can’t do more for the honor of Hillton
than by honest, sincere work on the crews. And it doesn’t make any
difference whether he makes the varsity boat or the second; in either
case he’s doing his best, doing his duty; for the fellow that rows with
the second eight is helping to turn out a winning crew almost as much
as though he rowed in the race with St. Eustace. I hope we’ll all pull
together this year and that there won’t be any discord. I’ll do my
level best, and I’ll trust you fellows to do yours; and if that is so I
defy St. Eustace or any one else to beat us!”

The audience showed its approval of these sentiments by clapping,
Taylor perhaps the loudest of all, and Dick, somewhat red in the
face from his effort, smiled, and drawing a tablet from his pocket,
proceeded to take the fellows’ names. Professor Beck settled his
glasses again on his nose and approached a youth who during the
proceedings had been perched comfortably on the top of a radiator, but
who, having secured the entry of his name in the list of candidates,
was now examining with interest the working of one of the rowing
machines.

“You’re Nesbitt, aren’t you?” asked the professor.

“Yes, sir.”

“Ever rowed any, Nesbitt?”

“Yes, as a youngster”--here the professor smiled slightly--“I used to
paddle a bit; that was in England.”

“Ah, yes; I recollect you now. You won the last quarter in the relay
race the other night; that was well run, my boy, although you’re rather
too heavy for fast work. How was your wind when you finished?”

“It was rather short; the spurts tuckered me quite a bit.”

“Yes, I imagine you could get rid of eight pounds or so to good
advantage. You’d better come and see me to-morrow and take your
examination, so that I can put you to work on the weights as soon as
possible. I’m glad you’re going to try for the crew; you look as though
you were made for a rowing man.” He nodded smilingly and moved away,
and Trevor, assuming an appearance of unconcern, while secretly much
flattered by the professor’s attention, joined Dick, who had finished
his list and was conversing with Roy Taylor and Crocker, a large,
heavily built youth who had rowed at Number 6 in the second eight the
preceding year. Taylor was speaking when Trevor approached.

“Why, last winter over forty fellows turned out, and now look at ’em!
Great Scott! There’s no use _trying_ to get a decent crew out of twenty
men!”

Dick frowned, and Crocker offered a suggestion:

“Look here, the Hilltonian comes out in less than a week; what’s the
matter with getting Singer to write a ripping editorial about the
necessity for more candidates, and--and ‘asking the support of the
entire student body,’ and all that sort of stuff? Maybe there’s still
time; I’m blamed if I know when the paper goes to press.”

“That’s a good idea, Bob,” answered Dick. “And I’ll see Singer this
evening. And meanwhile you fellows do what you can; you ought to be
able to drum up lots of fellows, Taylor; you know plenty of them, and
what you say has weight.”

“Well, I’ll do what I can, Hope, of course, but there doesn’t seem to
be the usual interest in rowing this year.”

“I know; we’ve got to awaken interest. I’ll see you the last of the
week and we’ll have another council of war. Going back to the room,
Nesbitt?”

On their way across the Yard, which between the walks was a waste
of heavily crusted snow upon which the afternoon sunlight flashed
dazzlingly, the two boys were silent--Dick with the little creases in
his forehead very deep, and Trevor kicking at the ice in a manner which
suggested annoyance. When the dormitory was reached Trevor stopped
and let go savagely at a small cake of ice, which, as it was securely
frozen to the granite step, only resulted in an unpleasant jar to his
foot. But the jar seemed to loosen his tongue, for he turned quickly to
Dick as they passed into the building, and asked explosively:

“Is that chap Taylor all right?”

“Why? Have you heard anything?” asked Dick.

“No; only--only he looks as though he didn’t much like you, Hope; and
then he talks so sick!”

“Sick?”

“Yes; I mean he talks as though he didn’t _want_ the crew to be a
success; haven’t you noticed it?”

“The trouble with Roy Taylor,” answered the other gravely as they
passed into Number 16, “is that he hates to have any one else win out
at anything. He has a mighty high opinion of Roy Taylor, you know. He
wanted to be captain, and I don’t think he has ever forgiven me for
beating him; but I guess he’ll come round in the end and do his best
for the crew.”

Trevor didn’t look impressed with this last remark. He studied the
flames awhile thoughtfully as he held his hands up to the warmth. Then:

“I see. I don’t fancy, then, he loves me much after the way I beat him
Saturday night, eh?”

“I guess not,” answered Dick laughingly. “I ‘fancy’ we’re both down in
his black book.”

“Yes.” Trevor turned away and rummaged among the _débris_ of the study
table. “Seen my algebra? Never mind, here it is.” He drew a chair up
before the fireplace and opened the book, only to lay it down again and
deliver himself forcibly of the following declaration:

“Taylor may be as waxy with me as he likes, Hope, but he’s got to
understand that if he interferes with this crew business there’s a
plaguy lot of trouble ahead for him!”

“And for me, too,” thought Dick, as he gazed despondently at the slim
list of candidates.



CHAPTER IX

THE HOCKEY MATCH


The balance of the week was a busy time for Dick. His usual hour of
study before supper was dropped, and he spent that time with every
other spare moment in trying to recruit candidates for the crews.
He buttonholed boys in classroom and even in chapel, pursued them
across the frozen Yard, waylaid them in the corridors, and bearded
them in their dens; and all with small success. Those who displayed a
willingness to go in for rowing were almost invariably younger fellows
whose ambitions were better developed than their muscles. Those whom
Dick longed to secure had an excuse for every inducement he could set
forth. The seniors pleaded lessons; the upper middle fellows were going
in for baseball, cricket, anything save rowing; the lower class boys
were unpromising to a degree; and when Saturday came he found that
out of a possible ten recruits the most promising was a long-legged,
pasty-faced youth who had been dropped from the hockey team and whose
desperate desire to distinguish himself in some manner was alone
accountable for his complaisance.

That Taylor and Crocker and some of the other candidates had been
busy was evident from the first--Taylor especially, Dick told himself
bitterly.

“Try for the crew?” said one senior whom Dick approached, “why, Roy
Taylor was speaking to me about it, and I promised him I’d think it
over. But I don’t see how I can, Hope; you know yourself how beastly
hard the studies are this term; I’m an awful duffer at mathematics, and
German, too; and then as for physics--well, really I can’t see how I’m
ever going to pass.” And when Dick pointed out modestly enough that he
(Dick) had the same studies and was going in for rowing, and expected
to graduate notwithstanding, the other waived the argument aside
carelessly: “Oh, _you_, Hope! You’re different; you’re one of those
lucky beggars that never have any trouble with lessons. Why, if I was
like you I wouldn’t hesitate an instant; I’d say put me down for the
crew right away. But as it is---- By the way, is it true that you’ve
only got twenty candidates?”

“Who told you that?” asked Dick.

“Taylor, I think. That isn’t very many, is it? I don’t see how you’ll
get a crew out of that.”

“Nor do I,” muttered Dick, as he turned away discouraged.

When Saturday came, bringing Carl Gray at two o’clock with the
suggestion that Dick join him and witness the hockey match with St.
Eustace, the latter concluded that he had earned a vacation, and so
donned his warmest sweater and jacket and allowed himself to be torn
away from the subject of candidates. As the two lads crossed the yard
toward the steps that led down to the river by the boat-house they
encountered Trevor, who, when their destination was made known to him,
turned about and joined them. It was a bitterly cold day, and the wind,
sweeping down the broad river, nipped ears and noses smartly. Despite
this, however, a fair-sized audience had assembled on the ice near the
landing, where a rink had been marked out, and were either circling
about on skates or tramping to and fro to keep warm.

“Haven’t begun yet,” said Carl Gray as they reached the head of the
steps. “Looks as though they were having a debate instead of a hockey
match.”

As they reached the ice they saw that the captain of the Hillton team,
an upper middle youth named Grove, was in earnest conversation with a
St. Eustace player--apparently the captain of the opposing team--while
a circle of interested boys surrounded them. As the three approached
the gathering broke up, and Grove, spying Dick, came toward him looking
angry and indignant.

“Say, Hope, what do you think? St. Eustace wants to play that big dub
over there; see him? The fellow with the white sweater. Why, he’s
twenty-two if he’s a day! And he isn’t a St. Eustace fellow at all;
Brown knows him. He lives at Marshall and works in a mill or something.
I’ve told French that we wouldn’t play if they put him on. Don’t you
think that’s right?”

“He does look rather big and aged for a St. Eustace chap,” replied Dick
with a grin. “And of course if you’re certain he’s an outsider you’re
right not to give in. What does the St. Eustace captain say?”

“Oh, he says the fellow’s a day scholar; that he’s only eighteen; and
that they haven’t brought any subs, and that if Billings--that’s the
mucker’s name--if Billings can’t play there won’t be any game.”

“Queer thing to come all the way up here without any subs,” said Carl.
“But I tell you what you can do, Grove; offer to lend them a man. What
does Billings play?”

“Forward,” grumbled Grove. “We might do that. Who could we give them?”

“You’d have to give them a good player,” said Dick.

“I suppose so. Well, there’s Perry over there.”

“No, you don’t,” laughed Dick. “I know Perry; I talked with him the
other day; he’s the fellow you dropped from the team last week.” Grove
looked sheepish.

“Well, what business have they got trying such tricks?” he muttered
in extenuation. “I guess I’ll offer them Jenkins; he really is a good
player, Hope; you know that yourself; I’ll put Dennison in his place.
And if I do they’ll likely beat us.”

“Let ’em. Go ahead and make the offer.”

Grove sped away and promptly returned with the announcement that
St. Eustace had agreed. “But we want another goal umpire. Will you
act, Hope?” Dick would, and was led away. The rink was cleared of
spectators, and Trevor and Carl found places of observation on the
side-line. The opposing teams took their places. The Hillton players
wore crimson sweaters and stockings; before the St. Eustace goal were
six blue-clad youths and one crimson, the latter being Jenkins, the
borrowed forward. Grove and French, the St. Eustace captain, faced the
puck, the referee cried “Play!” and the game was on.

It proved a brilliant game, despite the high wind that seriously
handicapped the side having the down-river goal. Hillton’s playing
in the first half was quick and plucky, and for the first ten of the
twenty minutes St. Eustace’s goal was almost constantly in danger. But
try after try was foiled by the brilliant work of the Blue’s goal-tend,
who time and again won the applause of the shivering audience. Then St.
Eustace secured the puck and forced the playing, and for a few minutes
Hillton seemed to be taken off her feet. A beautifully lifted stroke
finally sent the puck skimming through Hillton’s goal, and the St.
Eustace players waved their sticks in delight. Hillton braced when play
began again, and was dribbling the disk threateningly toward the Blue’s
goal when time was called.

“I wish I had Jenkins back,” complained Grove as, bundled in his
blanket, he joined Trevor and Carl. “He played better than any fellow
on our team--or theirs either, for that matter.”

“Who shot that goal?” asked Carl.

“French; it was a dandy. Our little friend Billings yonder looks mad,
doesn’t he?”

The displaced player had joined the St. Eustace team, and was evidently
bemoaning his fate. He was a tall, freckle-faced youth who, as Grove
had said, appeared every day of twenty-one or two. He had a slouchy
stoop to his shoulders, but nevertheless looked dangerous as a hockey
player. Dick joined the other three lads.

“I just heard your freckled-faced friend explaining why it is you’ll
never make a good player, Grove,” he announced. “He says you don’t get
low enough; says he could put you off your feet easily.”

“He does, eh?” grunted Grove. “I wish we’d let him play; I’d put him
off _his_ feet, the big mucker!”

“There, there, keep your sweet little temper,” laughed Dick. “And come
on; time’s up.” The crowd took up its position along the boundary lines
again, and again the puck was put in play. Hillton had good luck at the
start. Superb team work on the part of the crimson-clad forwards took
the disk down to within striking distance of their opponents’ goal, and
a quick drive by Grove sent it through. St. Eustace’s goal-tend looked
surprised and vexed, and the audience cheered delightedly. Four minutes
later the same proceeding was repeated, and after two ineffectual tries
the puck slid through between the goal-tend’s skates just where he
apparently didn’t expect it to go. That was Dennison’s score, and again
the onlookers voiced their pleasure. The score was now two to one in
Hillton’s favor, and St. Eustace shook herself together and played
hard. For ten minutes neither side scored. Then, by a brilliant rush
down the side of the rink, Jenkins, the borrowed player, fooled the
Hillton cover-point, and, aided by French, ran past point and lifted
the disk through between the Hillton posts--a difficult shot that won
him lots of applause. The score was now tied, with a scant five minutes
of play left.

Trevor and Carl, deeply intent on the game, suddenly had their
attention diverted by a voice from near at hand. “What do you think
of that, now? What do those fellers in red think they’re playing,
billiards? O-oh, ain’t that awful!” It was the deposed St. Eustace
forward, Billings, who was celebrating the Blue’s recent goal, and
revenging himself on his enemies by ridiculing the home players. Carl
glared, and the throng surrounding him looked hostile to a boy.

“He ought to have sense enough to keep his mouth shut,” said Carl.

“Yes, but he’s got pluck to talk that way in this crowd,” replied
Trevor with a grin.

“Not a bit; he knows he’s safe enough. It isn’t likely that fifty or
sixty fellows would jump on one lone chap, no matter how cheeky he
was.”

The ridicule continued, but after the first recognition of the affront
the throng of Hilltonians tacitly ignored the freckle-faced youth;
indeed, in another minute his existence was forgotten, for with but
a couple of minutes to play St. Eustace’s point secured the puck,
and with a fine stroke sent it sailing down the rink into Hillton
territory, where a misplay on the part of the Crimson’s cover-point
gave Jenkins his opportunity, and the next instant Hillton’s goal was
besieged. A stroke at close quarters was blocked, and the disk skimmed
toward the side of the rink, only to be again recovered and dribbled
forward until it was once more in the possession of the redoubtable
Jenkins. There was a rush by Grove and another Hillton forward, the
sound of clashing sticks, and then out from the _mêlée_ like a shot
from a cannon sped the puck, straight for the goal and about two feet
above the ice. The Hillton goal-tend leaped to the left and turned to
receive the disk on his padded thigh. But he was too late. The puck
struck him, but was only slightly deflected, and in another moment
the St. Eustace sticks were waving high in air, and the goal-tend,
crestfallen and dazed, was ruefully rubbing his hip. Hillton returned
resolutely to the battle, and the puck was again faced, but time was
called ere it was well out of the scrimmage, and the game was St.
Eustace’s by three goals to two. Trevor turned away in disappointment,
and was confronted by the triumphant Billings, who was whirling his
stick about his head and grinning provokingly.

“Oh, easy, easy! Those kids can’t play hockey; they ought to be at
home doing needlework.” Carl muttered something uncomplimentary, and
Trevor reddened as they pushed their way through the dissolving throng.
Billings, spying Trevor as he approached, thrust himself in his path.

“Say, sonny, why don’t you kids learn the game?”

Trevor strove to keep his temper and pass, but the Marshall youth laid
a determining hand on his arm.

“You see, sonny, what you Hillton kids want to do is to learn how to
skate, see? There ain’t any use trying to play hockey until you can
skate.”

Trevor turned and smiled very sweetly.

“Perhaps you think you can skate?” he asked in a tone of polite inquiry.

“I have a hunch that way,” replied Billings with a swagger.

“That’s very nice,” answered Trevor, “because you don’t look as though
you could, you know.”

A circle of interested Hilltonians had already formed, and were
grinning their appreciation. Billings appeared somewhat astounded for
an instant. Then he thrust his jaw out aggressively, and asked angrily:

“Say, what’s the matter with you, kid? Do you think you can teach me
anything about skating?”

“Well, of course, I’m a month or two younger than you, you know”--here
the crowd snickered impolitely--“but I rather fancy that I can beat
you by a few yards in a half-mile race. Would you care to try?”

For a moment Billings looked doubtful. Possibly he thought that he had
unwittingly encountered the school’s crack skater, and feared for the
result. If he did the idea was dispelled by Trevor’s next remark.

“They don’t call me much of a skater here, you know; we have several
fellows who can beat me without trouble, but they’re all rather busy
just at present, and so, if you don’t mind putting up with something
ordinary, I’ll be glad to show you what I can about skating.” The
gentle patronage of Trevor’s tones was beautiful, and the audience
hugged itself gleefully. Billings laughed loudly and scornfully.

“You will, eh? Say, you’re awfully nice, aren’t you? Mama know you’re
out?” Trevor reddened but kept his temper.

“I fancy I could beat you by about twenty yards in a half mile,” he
said musingly.

That was the last straw, and Billings elbowed his way toward the
boat-house landing.

“Get your skates on, sonny, and I’ll show you what you don’t know about
skating.”

“Where can I get a pair?” asked Trevor, addressing the fellows about
him.

“Get Grove’s; what size shoe do you wear?” asked Carl. “Five? They
ought to fit; wait here and I’ll get them.” And he hurried off.

“Do you think you can beat him, ’Ighness?” asked one of the crowd.

“I fancy so; anyhow, I’ll do my best.” Carl returned with Groves
skating-boots, to which were screwed a superb pair of hockey skates.
Trevor tried them on, and found that they fitted perfectly. News of the
proposed race had spread, and those who had started toward their rooms
had returned, while the two hockey teams, having taken off their skates
and donned their heavy clothing, also joined the throng. Billings swept
up majestically, and Trevor, who had been trying his skates in short
circles, joined him.

“Suppose you skate around Long Isle and back,” suggested Grove; “that’s
about a half mile. We’ll draw a mark here for the finish. I say,
French, you might act as judge at the finish. Dick, you start them,
will you?”

“Standing start?” asked Dick.

Trevor looked inquiringly at Billings. “Doesn’t matter to me,” growled
that youth.

“All right. On your marks,” said Dick. “You’re to skate to the right,
around Long Isle, and return here, crossing this line in this way from
below. Is that satisfactory?”

Trevor nodded and felt for a hold with his rear blade, and Billings
uttered another growl.

“On your marks!--Set!--_Go!_”

Away they sped, Billings slightly in the lead, having learned the
science of quick starting from his hockey experience. They crossed
the river diagonally, heading for the down-stream end of the
island, Billings bending low, hands clasped behind his back, in the
approved style of American racers; Trevor more erect, arms swinging
by his sides, and apparently putting forth much less effort than his
competitor.

“Carl, can Nesbitt skate?” asked Dick somewhat anxiously. Carl shook
his head.

“Don’t ask me. I never met him until the other day. But he _can_ skate;
we can see that; the question is how well?”

“I hope he’ll win, if only to shut that bragging mucker up. Hello, look
there!”

Carl looked and uttered a groan of dismay. Long Isle, lying almost
abreast of the boat landing and about two thirds way across the river,
is in reality composed of not one, but two islands, the second,
scarcely twenty yards long, being separated from the main expanse
at its lower end by a scant two yards of ice-covered channel. This
fact had been overlooked, and now the watchers saw, at first with
surprise and then with annoyance, that the skaters had parted company.
Billings had headed for the channel, while Trevor, holding to a close
interpretation of the agreement, was making for the end of the smaller
island. The next moment Billings was out of sight; another instant and
Trevor too had disappeared.

“If Nesbitt can overcome that handicap he’s a good one,” muttered Dick.

“That’s so,” Carl assented. “It means a good fifty yards lost, I
guess.” Some of the boys had hurried across the ice to the island, and
from a point of vantage near its northern end were to be seen waving
their arms wildly. But the throng at the finish could gather no hint
from their gestures as to the progress of the racers.

“Evidently a misunderstanding there,” said French, the St. Eustace
captain, approaching Grove. “Which is Long Isle?”

“Both of ’em,” grunted Grove.

“Well, but----”

“Oh, it’s all right, I guess; Billings wasn’t supposed to know; it was
my fault; I forgot about that plaguy little bunch of land beyond there.
The fellow that crosses first wins,” he added decisively. “What do you
say, Hope?”

“That’s right; Billings couldn’t know that he was supposed to go around
both islands.”

“Very well,” answered French, “but I’m sorry there was any
misunderstanding. Your man may think that he might have won if it
hadn’t been for the mistake.”

“He may win anyhow,” said Dick dryly. “The race isn’t over yet.” French
looked to see if Dick was joking, but finding no signs of levity,
smiled politely and deprecatingly, and moved off. The next moment the
boys on the island left their places and came scrambling back across
the ice, and then a skater came into view around the up-river end of
the island and headed for the finish.

“It’s Billings,” said Dick in disappointed tones. But ere the words
were out of his mouth a second form sped into sight, and a cheer went
up from the watchers. Trevor was apparently but a half dozen yards
behind, and, although as the racers were coming directly toward the
group it was impossible to be certain on that point, seemed to be
gaining at every stride.

Carl slapped Dick boisterously on the shoulder and then hugged him
ecstatically. “Can ’Is ’Ighness skate, Dick? _Can he skate?_”

“Can he!” howled Dick. “Look, he’s even with him; he’s--by Jupiter,
Carl, he’s ahead of him!”

He was; and not only ahead now, but leading by a good three yards.
Every voice was raised in shouts of encouragement, and cries of “Hurry
up, Billings!” “Come on, Nesbitt!” “You can beat him! Brace up!” “Bully
for Hillton!” broke into the frosty air as the two racers, bearing down
swiftly, almost silently, on the finish line, sped nearer and nearer.

Twenty yards away Trevor threw a fleeting glance over his shoulder
at his straining rival, and then, suddenly bending lower over the
leaden-hued surface, fairly left the other standing and shot through
the lane in the crowd and over the line a winner by ten long yards!

[Illustration: A winner by ten yards.]

And how Hillton howled!

“Even old ‘Turkey’ couldn’t beat that!” exulted Carl.

Trevor swung about near shore and skated leisurely back to where
Billings, red-faced and panting, was explaining to French and the rest
of the St. Eustace team how it happened. But his friends looked utterly
bored at his narrative, and turned away one by one toward the landing
steps. Trevor came to a stop a yard in front of the tall, freckle-faced
youth, who paused in his explanation and regarded him angrily. The
crowd hushed its chatter in delighted anticipation. Trevor thrust his
hands under his sweater and regarded Billings with a wealth of genial
condescension.

“Any time you’d like to learn more about skating,” he remarked sweetly,
“come up. I’m always at leisure Saturday afternoons.”

Then he nodded amiably and skated away ere the outraged Billings could
summon his scattered wits to the rescue of his equally scattered
dignity.



CHAPTER X

BUYING AN ICE-YACHT


“An ice-yacht,” observed Carl learnedly, “is the nearest approach at
the present age to a flying-machine.”

“And I never cared a bit about flying,” answered Dick, without
enthusiasm.

The two, with Trevor and Stewart Earle, were gathered close about the
fireplace in Number 16 Masters. Two good hickory logs were crackling
merrily, and, although owing to the fact that the steam-heating
apparatus was evidently on a strike and their backs were constantly
caressed by shivers, their knees and faces were radiantly warm; and
that was sufficient comfort. A huge paper bag was perched on the table,
and the quartet were busily munching big, rosy apples, while close to
the ashes four more were sizzling and sputtering in the heat. They had
started out with the intention of having a feast of roasted apples, but
had found that the roasting process was too slow to meet the demands of
their appetites, and so were keeping down the pangs of starvation in
the interims by consuming the fruit as Nature had meant they should.

“An ice-yacht,” continued Carl, undismayed, “can be put together very
easily and cheaply. All you have to have is four pieces of timber
and----”

“Look here, Carl,” interrupted Dick impolitely, “the last thing you
made was a toboggan, and it cost about nine dollars before you were
through with it, and you could have bought a _good_ one for five.”
Stewart giggled and Carl grinned good-naturedly.

“Well, let’s buy one, then,” he replied. “Let’s go down to Euston Point
and see the one this fellow advertises.”

“How much do they cost?” asked Trevor.

“Oh, we could get a second-hand one for fifteen dollars, easy; maybe
less. That would be only four dollars apiece, if we all went in. And we
could have the biggest kind of fun! Why, some ice-yachts go as fast as
ninety miles an hour!”

“Oh, get out!”

“They do; don’t they, Stew?”

“Easy,” answered Stewart gravely. “I’ve seen lots of them do it. I
owned one myself once that could go a hundred and thirty-seven miles
in----”

“Shut up, you idiot!” growled Carl. “What do you say, fellows; shall
we see if we can get the boat? Think how jolly grouchy the other chaps
would be to see us skipping around and----”

“And breaking our necks,” suggested Trevor.

“Nothing of the sort! Why, it’s not dangerous at all; any one that
knows anything about sailing a yacht can manage an ice-boat.”

“Well, who knows anything about sailing among this crowd? Do you,
Trevor?”

Trevor shook his head.

“Not a thing.”

“_I_ do, of course,” interrupted Carl.

“Well,” said Stewart, “as far as I’m concerned I think I’d rather have
some one else than you do it, Carl.”

“Oh, quit fooling; I’m in earnest. Suppose we go to Euston Point next
Saturday and see what’s doing?”

“But, look here,” said Dick, “how do you know Faculty will let us sail
the thing if we get it?”

“Why shouldn’t they? They allow skating; ice-yachting’s just
skating--with a difference. Besides, as long as there’s no rule against
it we have a right to do it.”

This argument was incontrovertible, and it was agreed that the four
should journey to the near-by village of Euston Point the following
Saturday morning. And then Stewart suddenly discovered that the apples
on the hearth had been done for some time, and in the business that
followed the subject of ice-yachting was forgotten.

When Dick and Trevor returned from supper that evening they found a
fresh, inky-smelling number of The Hilltonian awaiting them in the
letter-box. Dick hurried to the room with it and spread it out under
the light on the table. Yes, Singer had been as good as his word; the
leading editorial was headed The Rowing Situation, and was quite in
Singer’s best style.

“My!” ejaculated Trevor, who had been reading the article over Dick’s
shoulder, “that’s spiffin!”

“It sounds rather well, doesn’t it?” asked Dick, highly gratified by
the effusion. “And you’d think it would bring some of the fellows
round, eh?”

“Bound to; you’ll find slathers of them in the gym to-morrow
afternoon,” replied Trevor confidently. “Read it out loud, Hope.”

And Dick did so and Trevor listened admiringly and interpolated an
applauding “Hear, hear!” at intervals, and Dick went to bed very
hopeful of the morrow.

But when at three o’clock the following afternoon he repaired to
the rowing-room his heart sank. Aside from the original nineteen
candidates, but the veriest handful were present. Dick counted them
grimly; there were fourteen of them, and for the most part they not
only looked but really were sadly out of their element. A small junior
of perhaps fourteen tried to hide himself in a corner, but Dick routed
him out mercilessly and asked him cruelly if he was a candidate for
coxswain.

“Yes--no--that is, I don’t know,” was the breathless reply. Dick turned
away and encountered the mocking gaze of Taylor, who, when Dick’s eyes
were turned upon him, smoothed his features into an expression of
respectful concern and walked forward.

“What an outfit, eh?” he asked softly. But Dick was resolved that the
other should not have the satisfaction of knowing his disappointment.
He shrugged his shoulders and smiled carelessly.

“Well, they don’t look brilliant; a bit light on an average; but I
dare say we’ll be able to find some good material in the lot.” At that
moment Professor Beck entered. After a slow and careful glance up and
down the long room he looked fleetingly at Dick, frowned, and turned
away. But he made no remarks upon the showing of candidates save once.

“Mr. Kirk will coach the crews again this year,” he announced, “and
will be with you every Saturday afternoon until the river opens, when,
as last year, he will come up to Hillton and stay with you until the
race. I expect he will make his first visit a week from next Saturday,
and I’m sure”--he glanced blandly over the audience--“I’m sure he will
be greatly pleased with the material he will find.”

Something approaching a shudder passed over the throng, and Dick turned
aside to hide a grim smile. Then the first batch of candidates trooped
off to the locker room to don gymnasium attire, and the new recruits
were registered, instructed to report for examination the following
afternoon, and dismissed looking heartily relieved. When the last one
had gone Professor Beck heaved a sigh and turned to Dick.

“Hope, are you certain there was no mistake made? You’re sure you
didn’t issue a call for candidates for a tiddledy-winks team?” Dick
smiled dismally.

“No, there’s no such luck. We’ve got thirty-four fellows, of which a
possible two dozen are rowing material.”

“Hum; I think we shall be able to turn out an excellent second eight,
but as for a varsity crew--do you happen to have an idea as to where we
are going to get that, Hope?”

“No, sir, I haven’t,” replied Dick miserably. Professor Beck polished
his glasses thoughtfully for a minute and studied the wintry landscape
through the high window. Then he smiled, settled the shining lenses
again on his nose, and turned toward the door.

“We’ll have to use our wits, Hope. Above all, don’t allow yourself
to become discouraged. We still have a couple of weeks before us,
and--well, I guess we can accomplish something in that time. Are you
ready?”

Together they passed out onto the floor and in a few minutes the first
squad of crew candidates had begun their training. Of the twenty,
two had rowed in the varsity boat of the preceding year, four had
rowed with the second eight, three had trained as substitutes, and
the balance, eleven candidates, represented new and inexperienced
material as far as shell-rowing was concerned. Well-nigh all were what
Trevor would have termed “wetbobs,” and had paddled about in tubs or
perhaps rowed now and then in a pair-oar. Professor Beck and Dick were
busy for the half hour that constituted the first day’s exercising.
Generally speaking, each candidate required a different work from his
neighbors. In Brown the forearm muscles were undeveloped; in Smith the
chest muscles had been neglected; in Jones the back was as unbending
as a two-inch plank, while Robinson, perchance, was in a state of
general flabbiness. The professor viewed attentively the work of
each boy, altered the exercise here, stopped it there, increased it
elsewhere, while Dick stood beside him, listening to his instructions
and memorizing, as pointed out to him, the needs of the different
ones. After awhile the fellows were sent to the track for the briefest
of trots, and so, having stood for an instant under a shower-bath,
dressed, and went their ways full-fledged crew candidates, with an
inalienable right to look down condescendingly upon their schoolmates,
to cut Friday night lectures, and comport themselves generally in the
manner of coming heroes.

And Dick, with Trevor at his side, went back to his room for an hour
of study before supper, not overjoyful, but yet somewhat comforted by
the professor’s hopefulness and by the fact that real work had at last
commenced.

On Friday night Professor Beck announced to Dick that the fourteen
newer candidates had been examined, and in five instances found
wanting. “Of those that remain,” said the professor, “two look like
good men; as for the rest----” He shrugged his shoulders eloquently.
“But we can tell better in a week or two. Meanwhile, we must keep up
the recruiting. I have my eye on an upper middle boy, and I think I’ll
have him hooked in a day or two. If we can secure say another half
dozen good men I think we can pull out all right.”

The next morning--it being a bright and sunny Saturday toward the last
of January--Dick, Trevor, Carl, and Stewart boarded the train and
traveled to Euston Point, but a few miles distant, where they called
on the man whose advertisement Carl had read in a local paper, and by
him were conducted to a loft by the river, where a dilapidated-looking
triangle of timbers and bolts--which its owner declared loudly was
the fastest cat-rigged yacht on the Hudson--was shown to them. The
bargain was soon closed, Carl conducting the negotiations and talking
learnedly of runner planks, center timbers, and stays. The boat was to
be supplied with a new rudder-post, a new sail and rigging, the runners
were to be reground, and the whole was to be delivered at the boat
landing at Hillton Academy four days from that date for the munificent
sum of seventeen dollars and seventy-five cents. Carl was elated.

“We’ve saved two dollars and a quarter,” he declared.

“I don’t see how,” objected Dick. “You told us last week that we could
get the thing for fifteen dollars.”

“I know I did; that’s what I thought. But you heard him ask twenty
at first, didn’t you? Well, and I jewed him down to seventeen
seventy-five. Isn’t that two and a quarter saved?”

Dick had to acknowledge that it was, and Carl insisted on celebrating
his successful financiering by treating to very nasty hot soda at the
town’s only drug store. And so to Carl’s business acumen may be traced
the series of events that led shortly to Trevor’s disgrace.

Their way to the station took them past the open door of a livery
stable. When they were abreast of it something round and white shot
out, rolled over and over down the little incline, and brought up at
Trevor’s feet. It proved to be a young puppy, which, when it stopped
rolling, found its four unsteady feet, barked joyously, and tried to
gnaw the buttons from Trevor’s trouser cuffs. But he was instantly
seized upon and elevated in Trevor’s arms for the inspection of the
others.

“Isn’t he a little beauty?” cried Trevor.

“Yes; what is he, a fox terrier?” asked Stewart, allowing the squirming
and delighted puppy to chew his gloved fingers to its heart’s content.

“Fox terrier!” replied Trevor scathingly. “Of course not; it’s a bull.
Look at that nose!”

“I am looking at it,” answered Dick. “Nice and ugly, isn’t it? What
makes it so pink?”

“That’s the way it ought to be,” answered Trevor with fine disdain for
his friend’s ignorance. “I wonder who it belongs to?”

“Belongs right here, sir!” The boys glanced around and found a colored
stableman observing them smilingly from the doorway. Trevor placed the
puppy upon the ground, where it at once relapsed into a state of loud
and poignant grief, leaping with snowy feet against his stockings, and
crying vehemently to be again taken up. Trevor patted it, whereupon its
grief gave place to uncontrollable delight; it stood on its hind legs,
buried its short nose in a small snow-bank, and attempted to take the
boy’s entire hand into its pink mouth, and all within the instant.

“It’s the liveliest pup I ever saw,” said Carl.

“That’s a fine dog, sir,” said the owner. “His mother took a first and
two second prizes at the dog show last week, and his father’s got lots
of ’em. Yes, siree, he’s a mighty fine dog, he is.”

“Come on,” said Dick, “we’ll lose the train if we’re not careful.”

But Trevor paid no heed. He was looking intently at the puppy, which,
with the boy’s left thumb between his teeth, was radiantly happy.

“He’s got a pedigree as long as yer arm,” continued the stableman.

“Has he?” muttered Trevor.

“He can be registered ter-morrer, he can; he’s blue-blooded right
through, he is.”

“Is he?” said Trevor. The puppy was now on its back, legs limply aloft,
and Trevor was thoughtfully rubbing a pink-and-white stomach.

“Was you wanting to buy a dog, sir?”

“N-no, I think not,” answered Trevor.

“Say, come on, Nesbitt, or we’ll be late,” cried Carl.

The stableman glanced over his shoulder. “Lots of time, gentlemen;
train ain’t due for twelve minutes yet.” Then, addressing Trevor, “I
had four of them and sold ’em all ’cept this one; an’ he’s the best of
the lot; an’ cheap, too--dirt cheap.”

“How much?” asked Trevor with elaborate carelessness.

“You can have him for five dollars.”

“Phew!” said Stewart.

“Give you fifty cents,” said Carl. The stableman turned indignantly.

“I reckon you don’t know much about what bulldogs is worth,” he said.
“This gentleman here knows that that ain’t too much for a puppy as fine
as that one; don’t you, sir?”

“I dare say he’s worth that much,” answered Trevor, “but I couldn’t pay
it.”

“What would you do with it if you had it?” asked Dick.

“Now, look here; I’ll tell you what I’ll do, sir,” said the stableman.
“You can have him for three dollars and a half. And that’s mighty
cheap, that is.”

Trevor looked longingly at the puppy, who was now for the moment
quiescent, and who was gazing up into Trevor’s face as though
breathlessly awaiting his verdict.

“I--I’ll give you a dollar to-day and pay you the rest next Saturday,”
he said finally.

“You one of the Hillton young gentlemen?” asked the stableman.

“Yes.”

“Well, you can take him along. What’s your name?”

Trevor gave it amid the expostulations of his friends, who asked
wonderingly where he expected to keep his new possession, how long he
thought Faculty would let him have it, and how he was going to get it
home. To all of which Trevor made no reply. Paying the man the first
instalment of the money, he seized upon the delighted puppy and strode
off, fearful lest the former owner should regret the bargain and change
his mind.

“Well, of all things!” ejaculated Dick. “Where in thunder will you keep
him?”

“Don’t you worry,” answered Trevor. “I’ll find a place.”

“What’s troubling me,” complained Carl, “is how you’re going to pay
your four dollars and forty-four cents toward the yacht and the three
dollars and a half for the pup.”

Trevor looked blank.

“I’d forgotten about the yacht,” he muttered.

“Forgotten about it!” cried Carl. “Why, man alive, we just bought it
ten minutes ago!”

“I know. But--I tell you--I’ll write to the pater; I fancy he’ll send
me money enough for the puppy; he always gives me any money I may need
for useful things.”

The others exploded into violent laughter.

“Call that useful?” gurgled Dick, holding his sides and pointing
derisively at the puppy, which lay limp but blissful with half-closed
eyes in Trevor’s arms. A warning whistle made unnecessary any reply,
and the four boys hurried toward the station.

“You’d better hide him under your coat, or else they’ll make you
ride in the baggage car with him,” cautioned Dick. And so Trevor
boarded the train with a suspicious portliness, happily unobserved
of the conductor, and, when they had yielded their tickets, drew the
uncomplaining puppy from under his sweater.

“I’ll say one thing for it,” remarked Carl grudgingly, “it behaves
mighty well, considering that it has just been torn from home and
parents.” He held out a hand and the puppy went into spasms of delight
over the evidence of friendship and licked the fingers deliriously.
“Funny little beggar! How old is it, Trevor?”

“About ten weeks, I fancy.”

“What are you going to call him?” asked Stewart.

Trevor shook his head thoughtfully.

“I don’t know yet. I shall wait until I find something appropriate.”

“Talking about names,” said Carl, “let’s find one for the boat. That
fellow said she was the Lucy G., but that’s silly and doesn’t mean
anything.”

“Ought to be something wintry,” suggested Stewart.

“Something like Blizzard, or Snowflake, or Ice King,” added Dick.

“It can’t be any of those,” objected Carl, “because there are heaps of
Blizzards and the other things you said. How would The Polar Bear do?”

Every one sniffed derisively.

“Well,” said Trevor, “if it must be something wintry, what’s the matter
with The Ulster or The Cough Drop?”

“Or The Chilblain?” laughed Dick.

“I think a good name would be The Sleet,” Stewart struck in. “That’s
wintry enough.”

A vote was taken, and The Sleet carried.

“We can have a sail next Saturday,” suggested Carl.

“So soon?” groaned Dick. “Carl, we’re so young to die!”

“That’s all right, my funny friend, but just you wait until I get to
sailing that thing; you’ll see!”

And Carl’s prediction, though vague, proved in a measure correct.



CHAPTER XI

ADVENTURES OF A BULL PUP


Trevor smuggled the puppy into his room undetected, against Dick’s
advice.

“If Faculty finds it out you’ll not only lose the animal, but get into
trouble. And they’re bound to learn of it before long. Why, the ‘goody’
will see the thing when she makes the beds.”

“No, she won’t; I’ll find a way to fix that,” answered Trevor
confidently.

“But how’ll you keep him alive?” asked Dick. “The poor little thing has
got to eat.”

“Oh, I can bring him something from dining-hall.”

Dick shrugged his shoulders and gave up the argument. And having
relieved his conscience by his protest, joined his roommate in teaching
the puppy to sit on his hind legs and hold a piece of cracker on
his nose: a feat which the animal could not for a long time see the
philosophy of. When, however, he discovered that obedience invariably
gave him possession of the fragment of biscuit to crumble to his
heart’s content over the hearth-rug, he began to understand the game,
and to even show a certain pleasure in it. After the work in the
gymnasium that afternoon Trevor and Dick walked to the village and the
former purchased--I regret to say on credit, thereby infringing one of
the rules--a red leather collar and a steel chain. When Trevor left
the dining-hall after supper his coat pockets bulged suspiciously, and
later the puppy feasted regally on cold roast beef and graham bread,
while the two boys watched every mouthful with delight. When bedtime
came Trevor arranged a pair of old tennis trousers by the hearth, and
placing the puppy thereon, assured him sternly that he was expected to
remain there quietly until morning.

Perhaps Trevor’s commands were not altogether clear. That as may be,
he had no sooner put out the light and snuggled himself into bed
than there arose a sound of grief and dismay in the study, followed
presently by tiny footfalls on the bedroom floor.

“Lie down!” commanded Trevor sternly.

The whining ceased for a minute, and a tail thumped the floor
delightedly. And then, as no further recognition seemed forthcoming,
the whining began again in increased volume and with added pathos.

“Puppy, go lie down,” whispered Trevor, more mildly this time. Dick was
laughing silently beyond in the darkness. The puppy again thumped the
floor with his tail.

“Perhaps he’s cold,” suggested Dick.

“The poor little fellow wants to get up on the bed, I fancy,” answered
Trevor. “I’ll spread my dressing-gown for him at the foot.” This was
done, and the disturbing element was hauled to the bed by the nape
of his neck. But stay on the dressing-gown he would not, and Trevor
finally fell asleep with the small, warm bundle of dog lying against
his breast, and a tiny, bullet-shaped head resting peacefully on his
neck.

The real troubles began next morning. When the two boys started for
breakfast they locked the door carefully, and had reached the stairs,
when, faint but unmistakable as to character, came a long howl of
grief. Fearfully, Trevor hurried back. The puppy was sitting erect
and tragic just inside the door. His delight at Trevor’s return was,
however, short-lived, for he was ignominiously shut in the closet, and
Trevor, with the key in his pocket, again set forth. But he could find
little enjoyment in breakfast, for all the while he was haunted by the
fear that the “goody” would get into the room before he could return,
hear the dog’s howls, and report the matter to Professor Tomkins,
the resident instructor. He hurried back to Masters with his meal
but half eaten, and breathed a sigh of relief when he found the beds
still unmade and the room still untidied. From the closet came eager,
questioning sniffs and whines of impatience. Trevor opened the door,
tossed in a mutton chop, and quickly secured it again. And then the
study door opened and the “goody” entered.

“Good-morning, Mr. Nesbitt.”

“Good-morning, Mrs. Pratt.”

Trevor seized a Latin book, subsided into a chair by the closet
and tried to read. From behind the locked door came sounds of busy
gnawings; once a diminutive growl was audible. But the “goody” was
in the other room and so all was safe. Trevor discovered that he was
holding the book upside down; he corrected the mistake and wondered why
it was that the beds took so long to make this morning of all others.
They were finally completed, however, and the crucial moment arrived.
Armed with dust-cloth, the woman came out and slowly began to move
about the study. Suddenly from behind the locked door came two distinct
taps; it was only the puppy worrying the mutton bone, but the “goody”
didn’t know that, and looked in alarm toward the closet.

“What was that?” she asked.

“What was what?” asked Trevor.

“That sound; them sounds--in there?”

“Pshaw, you’re dreaming; there--there’s no one in----”

Something bumped softly against the door; the woman glanced suspiciously
from Trevor to the closet. Trevor looked carelessly out the window and
began to whistle. A low whine issued from the prison. Trevor heard it,
but apparently the “goody” didn’t; he whistled louder. The whining
increased. Trevor began to sing.

Then began a most appalling series of bumps, growls, knocks, whines,
jars, gnawings, and similar disturbing noises from the closet. With
loudly thumping heart Trevor sang on, rapidly, loudly, unceasingly. The
woman turned and viewed him in astonishment not unmixed with alarm.
Trevor’s singing was more creditable from the point of vigor and
whole-souledness than on the score of harmony or rhythm. His notes were
nearly all flats, which, with the fact that he never for an instant
varied the time, made even the most joyous of ballads lugubrious when
performed by him. He had finished In the Gloaming, Way down upon
the Suwanee River, and Rule, Britannia, and was now breathlessly,
heroically thundering forth Hilltonians in tones that could be, and
probably were, heard in the next dormitory:

    “Hilltonians, Hilltonians, your crimson banner fling”
           (Bang! Bump! Gr-r-r-r!)
    “Unto the breeze, and ’neath its folds your anthem loudly sing!”
           (Whack! Bang! Bump!)
    “Hilltonians, Hilltonians, our loyalty we’ll prove
     Beneath the flag, the crimson flag, the bonny flag we love!”
           (Gr-r-r-r! Ao-o-oow! Ao-o-o-ow! Bang!)

And then, with her hands over her ears and her dust-cloth trailing in
defeat, the “goody” fled from the room, and the day was won! Trevor
sank back exhausted. From the closet the strange sounds continued to
issue. He sat up and stared fearfully at the closed door. What, he
asked himself with sinking heart, what could they mean? He drew forth
the key, crossed the room, unlocked the door, threw it open, and--

Out tumbled the puppy and--and--could it be? It could; it was!--one of
Dick’s immaculate patent-leather pumps, torn and chewed into as sorry a
looking object as he had ever seen!

At sight of Trevor the puppy dropped his prize, put his small head on
one side, wagged his tail proudly, and gazed up at his master as though
asking “How’s that for a good job well done?”

Trevor peered into the closet and groaned. The floor was a mass of
_débris_; shoes and garments from the hooks were writhed together
madly; and everywhere was set the puppy’s mark of approval. Trevor
gathered up the garments and returned them to their hooks. A cold,
blunt nose thrust itself into the way. Trevor’s hand rose and fell
smartly twice, and with a yelp the puppy retreated to the hearth-rug,
where he turned and barked defiance.

Trevor observed him wrathfully for an instant, but his attitude
of insulted dignity and his ferocious challenge to combat were so
ludicrous that the boy subsided amid the wreckage and laughed until
the tears came. And the puppy, bounding joyfully upon him, instantly
forgiving, gurgled his pleasure and licked his hands, shoes, and face
with whole-souled impartiality.

And upon this scene entered Dick!

Let us draw the curtain.

That night, long after Dick had dropped off to slumber, he was awakened
by Trevor’s urgent voice.

“Dick! Dick! Wake up!”

“Wha-what’s the matter?” cried Dick, starting suddenly from sleep, and
sitting up in bed with confused visions of fire and flood.

“I’ve found a name for him,” answered Trevor triumphantly.

“Name? What name? Who’s name?”

“The puppy’s. I’m going to call him Muggins!”

Dick snorted wrathfully and went back to sleep.

Trevor fondled the slumberous puppy. “Isn’t he an unfeeling brute,
Muggins?” he whispered. And Muggins thumped his tail affirmatively,
sleepily.

The following night, when all was silent in the dormitory, a form
bundled against the weather in a greatcoat, and followed by a second
form, vastly smaller in outline and wearing only the coat that nature
had provided him with, might have been seen--but were not--tiptoeing
from study No. 16 and descending the creaking stairs. The door was
locked, but the key was there, and in a moment the two forms had
vanished into outer darkness and the portal had closed again.

As the discerning reader has no doubt already surmised, the mysterious
forms were those of Trevor and Muggins.

Trevor had concluded that Muggins’s health demanded more exercise
than his puppyship was getting, and so on the preceding night and
again to-night Muggins, at the end of the steel chain, had been
surreptitiously conveyed from the building for a stroll about the yard.
It was bitterly cold and Trevor shivered as he ambled slowly toward
the gymnasium followed by the dog; but since Muggins’s health demanded
exercise Muggins should have it, though the thermometer stood at miles
below zero, which luckily it didn’t to-night. Around the gymnasium
plodded Trevor, slipping, sliding on the icy walks; around trotted
Muggins, sniffing, shivering in the nipping wind. Then down the path by
Bradley to Turner, around the corner of Turner, and----

Alas, tragedy was in the air that night!

Trevor paused, listening. Footsteps sounded loudly, frostily at a
little distance, and in the darkness a dim form loomed up from the
direction of the gate. It was but the work of an instant to slink into
the recess of the building made by the protruding entrance, and to pull
Muggins after him. The footsteps drew nearer. One of the professors
returning late from the village, Trevor told himself. The form came
abreast of him, a scant two yards distant, and was almost past his
hiding-place when Muggins awoke to the demands of the occasion.

Muggins, despite his tender age, was valor to the tip of his wagging
tail. He heard strange footsteps; he saw a strange form; he feared
an attack on his master. But, what ho! was not he, Muggins, there?
Certainly! And--

Away went the chain from Trevor’s numbed fingers; away went Muggins,
dashing to the fray like a knight of old!

“_Bow! Bow-wow!_” challenged Muggins.

Trevor heard an ejaculation of alarmed surprise, saw the form of the
tall professor jump back, and then--then there was a crash, and Trevor,
seizing the opportunity, was off like the wind, and had gained the
doorway of Masters Hall ere the astonished professor had regained his
feet. For Muggins in his excess of valor had got his small body between
his adversary’s legs, and great and sudden was the fall. Trevor waited
long at the entrance of Masters Hall, standing with door ajar and
peering anxiously into the darkness; once even venturing upon a subdued
whistle and a yearning “Muggins, Muggins!” But his appeals were vain,
and after a while he crept dejectedly upstairs and back into his cold
and Muggins-less bed, wondering, sorrowful, fearful of the morrow.



CHAPTER XII

MUGGINS IS EXPELLED


Dick learned the story the next morning while the boys were dressing,
and, to Trevor’s pained surprise, subsided onto the hearth-rug, where
he sprawled at length, and gave way to heartless mirth.

“Oh, I dare say _you_ don’t care,” said Trevor with wounded dignity.
“He wasn’t _your_ dog. If he had been”--savagely--“I dare say _I_
should have laughed!” Dick stopped rolling and sat up against the
wood-box.

“But--but, don’t you see, Trevor,” he gurgled, “I’m--I’m not laughing
because you’ve lost Buggins----”

“Muggins,” corrected Trevor coldly.

“I--I mean Muggins. I’m awfully sorry about that, honest injun!
But--but think of Longworth--it must have been Longworth, you
see--think of him rolling over there on the ice, all tangled up with
Bug--Muggins and the chain! Oh, jiminy!” And Dick went off into another
spasm of laughter.

Trevor stared thoughtfully into the flames, trying to summon up the
picture that appeared so delightful to his roommate. After a moment he
smiled faintly.

“Yes, I see; yes, I fancy it was comical. But--but wasn’t it awfully
brave of Muggins?”

“Awfully,” answered Dick with emphasis as he sat up again, dried his
eyes with a towel, and proceeded with his dressing. “Perhaps you’ll
find him again.”

But Trevor shook his head sadly.

“No chance of that. Poor Muggins!”

After chapel that morning Professor Wheeler, the principal, arose.
“One of the professors while returning through the yard late last
evening came across a--a young dog wearing a collar and chain. There
are reasons to believe that the animal belongs to one of you, as the
professor caught sight of a boy running toward a dormitory.”

A murmur of surprise, amusement, and excitement traveled through the
hall. Boys studied each other’s faces questioningly. “He saw you after
all!” whispered Dick. “I don’t see how he could,” whispered Trevor.

“There is a rule,” continued the principal, “forbidding the keeping of
dogs, or any sort of animals, in the academy buildings.” He paused, and
then added grimly: “I will ask the owner of the animal to stand up.”

There was a flutter of excitement; heads turned expectantly for sight
of the unlucky youth. Silence reigned save for the whisperings of the
boys. But no one arose. The principal waited calmly, patiently, for
several minutes.

“Very well,” he said then. “I want every resident of Masters Hall to
come to my office at a quarter of nine, prompt.” He moved down the
steps and the boys flocked from their seats and hurried out of chapel,
laughing, whispering in the throes of a new sensation. Trevor groaned
as he arose.

“I fancy it would have been better if I’d ’fessed up,” he said to Dick.
“Perhaps he’d have let me off easier. What do you think?”

“Blessed if I know. Anyhow, there’s no harm done so far; you have a
right to refuse to incriminate yourself. Only what he wants us at
the office for I can’t see, unless he’s going to ask each one of us
separately. In that case it’s all up with you.”

“In that case I’ll own up, of course,” said Trevor. “But it’s
rather tough getting into another fuss just when I’ve got over that
stage-coach business. Maybe it’ll be probation this time.”

“Oh, I guess not,” answered Dick as they crossed the dining-hall. “And
it isn’t like Wheels to ask the fellows to tell on each other; and
that’s why I can’t understand this office business.”

At the appointed time forty-two youths of various ages and sizes
crowded into the principal’s office in Academy Building. The office
consists in reality of two rooms, an outer and an inner apartment, the
first used by the secretary, the second sacred to Professor Wheeler.
The outer room was crowded when the principal entered, and a gasp of
surprise went up when it was seen that under one arm he carried a
small, wriggling, greatly excited bull puppy, which strove earnestly
to reach his face with an eager pink tongue. The principal appeared to
appreciate the humor of his entrance, for there was a slight twitch
at the corners of his mouth, as though he would have liked to smile.
At sight of Muggins Trevor started and made as though to move forward
and claim his property, but Dick laid a warning hand on his arm, and
he kept his place and watched professor and dog disappear into the
inner office. The forty-two youths--or to be strictly truthful--forty
of them--gazed wonderingly into each other’s faces while titters of
suppressed laughter ran up and down the ranks. Then the principal came
out again still with the squirming puppy in his arms, and the titters
died away abruptly.

“Are we all here?” he asked. “Supposing you form into, say, three
lines across the room here; that’s it; now I can count you. Exactly;
forty-two; a full attendance, I see. Kindly give me your attention for
a moment.” He held up the puppy, a squirming white mass of legs, tail,
and pink tongue. “I have here, as you see, a young dog, of just what
breed, age, and previous condition of servitude I am in doubt. But it
has, as you will observe, a collar of Hillton crimson and a strong
steel chain; possibly we shall be able to identify it by those. Now the
owner, or at least the companion at a late hour last night, of this
animal is known to room in your dormitory. I have called you together
here in order that he may claim his property. I will ask him to do so.”

Each boy viewed his neighbor suspiciously, but none said a word. As
before, the principal waited calmly, patiently, for several moments.
Then:

“Very well. You will perhaps recollect the saying in regard to Mahomet
and the mountain. The mountain having refused to go to Mahomet, Mahomet
very sensibly decided to go to the mountain. In this case, as the owner
refuses to go to the dog, we will see if the dog will go to the owner.”

Professor deposited the puppy on the floor. Forty-two--or, to be
again truthful, forty--youths viewed the animal with apprehension. It
was all very clever, of course, and no doubt had a flavor of humor,
but--but supposing that silly dog got it into his head that _they_
were his owner! How could they prove that they weren’t? How produce a
satisfactory _alibi_? They stirred uneasily, and frowned at the puppy.

The puppy, meanwhile, sat down and industriously scratched his neck.

But after that a spirit of adventure seized him, and he cast an
inquiring glance over the breathless assembly. Then he moved forward
and sniffed tentatively at the damp boots of Todd, who stood in the
middle of the front line. Todd held his breath and turned pale. But
Muggins evidently didn’t fancy wet leather, for he moved off down
the line, sniffing here and there, but without enthusiasm. Once he
paused and cocked an interrogatory brown eye up at Williams. And it was
Williams’s turn to wish himself away. He frowned darkly, threateningly,
and Muggins, scenting animosity, turned tail. Williams heaved a sigh of
relief.

Muggins now crawled laboriously between the feet of the next youth,
and found himself confronted by a second rank of motionless, silent,
and unsympathetic persons. He began to feel nervous. He stopped and,
pointing his blunt nose toward heaven, howled long and dismally. Some
one laughed, and the spell of terror was broken. Even Professor Wheeler
smiled, while Muggins, delighted at the evidence of companionship,
wagged his tail and began his search anew. Dick and Trevor stood, backs
to the wall, in the last of the three lines. Trevor watched the puppy,
scowling ferociously. The suspense was awful. He never for an instant
doubted that sooner or later Nemesis in the shape of Muggins would find
him out. Meanwhile he frowned, clenched his fists, and waited for his
doom. His doom when it came came speedily.

Muggins had apparently lost interest in the proceedings, and had begun
to whine softly, when suddenly he stopped dead short, and putting his
head aloft, twitched the wrinkled end of his pink nose and sniffed
suspiciously. One ear went up at an animated angle, and he put his
little bullet-shaped head on one side. Professor Wheeler moved softly
forward to a point where he could better watch events, and Trevor,
after one annihilating glance at the puppy, stared straight before
him. Muggins squirmed through the second rank, showing signs of strong
excitement. And then--

Then there was a yelp of triumph, of delight, and Muggins was leaping
deliriously at Trevor, giving vent to his joy in short explosive barks
and gurgling yelps.

“I won’t keep you any longer,” said the principal. “If any of you are
late at recitations, you may explain that it was my fault. I will ask
Nesbitt to remain for a few minutes.”

And with grins of relief and amusement the forty-one boys crowded
forth, leaving Trevor standing there alone, very red in the face, and
with the puppy clasped close in his arms. Then the principal and Trevor
and Muggins adjourned to the inner room. And there, while Muggins lay
curled contentedly against the boy’s breast--simply because he couldn’t
be induced to stay anywhere else--Trevor, rather haltingly, explained.

“And you had the dog in your study ever since Saturday?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But how--I can’t understand why no one discovered it. Didn’t the
‘goody’ see it there?”

“No, sir.” And Trevor explained his manner of keeping that worthy
person in ignorance. And once or twice during the recital, although
Trevor really didn’t do the narrative half justice, the professor
concealed his smiles with difficulty. And then, when there was nothing
more to be said on Trevor’s side, the principal sat silent for several
moments, gazing out of the window. And Trevor took heart.

“Well, the whole case seems to have been one of sudden infatuation
between a boy and a dog,” said Professor Wheeler at last, “rather than
a preconceived plan to create mischief or transgress the rules. Under
the circumstances---- But, of course, you understand that the dog can
not remain in the grounds?”

“I suppose not, sir.” And the principal smiled at the lad’s dolorous
tones.

“No; now I would suggest that you take him to the village and find
some one there to look after him for you; I think you can do it; you
might try Watson’s stables, back of the Eagle. Then you can see the dog
occasionally, though you must promise never to bring him onto school
grounds.”

“Yes, sir; thank you, sir.”

“And I think that that will be punishment enough for the case. You may
go, Nesbitt. And you may leave the puppy here, if you like, until you
have an opportunity to go to the village.”

“Thank you very much, sir,” answered Trevor gratefully.

“By the way, it’s a bulldog, isn’t it?” asked the principal. “Yes, I
thought so; that head, you know; very intelligent creature, to be sure.”

And then Trevor placed Muggins on the principal’s big leather couch,
with never a doubt but that that was the most appropriate place for
him, and sneaked to the door. And when he hurried down the steps of
Academy Building, shrill and faint came to his ears the wailing of
Muggins.

After dinner, accompanied by Dick, he conveyed the puppy to the village
and arranged for his board and room--the latter a comfortable soap-box
in the office--at Watson’s livery-stable. And after a heartrending
parting the two boys returned to the academy and two o’clock
recitations.

“Do you think he’ll be happy there?” asked Trevor wistfully.

“Sure to be,” Dick assured him. “He’ll be as happy as--as a bull pup!”

The following afternoon Carl Cray burst excitedly into the study, where
the two were deep in the morrow’s lessons.

“It’s come!” he cried triumphantly. “She’s here!”

“Who’s come?” asked Dick blankly.

“What’s here?” echoed Trevor.

“Why, the ice-yacht--The Sleet!”



CHAPTER XIII

THE VOYAGE OF THE SLEET


    _The Scene._--The boat-house landing and the river thereabouts.

    _The Time._--Four-thirty of the following Saturday afternoon.

    _Characters._--Dick, Trevor, Carl, Stewart, an ice-yacht,
    chorus of boys on skates.

_Chorus_: “Heave-o! Now, all together! Heave!”

_Carl_: “Hang the thing, anyhow! What’s the matter with it?”

_Dick_: “Well, since you know all about the art of ice-sailing, it
strikes me that you ought to be able to raise a little old pillow-sham
of a sail like that!”

_Trevor_: “Let’s pull on this rope and see what happens.”

_Chorus_: “How’d you like to be the ice-yachtsmen?”

_Carl_: “That’s the rope! Take hold here, fellows!”

_Chorus_: “Everybody shove!”

_Carl_: “There she goes! Make a hitch there, Dick! Jump on, quick!
_Whoa!_”

_Chorus_: “A-ah!”

The boat catches the wind, starts suddenly up-stream, as suddenly
changes its mind, veers about, rams the landing, backs off, charges a
group of boys on skates, and then stands motionless with its head into
the wind and laughs so that its sail flaps.

It is now discovered that there is room on the yacht for but three
fellows at the most, and every one save Carl begs to be allowed to
sacrifice his pleasure and remain at home. The choice falls to Stewart,
and he joins the chorus with a countenance eloquent of relief. Carl,
Dick, and Trevor huddle together on the cockpit, and a portion of the
chorus shoves the yacht’s head about. The sail fills, and the yacht
glides off up-stream in a strong breeze, to the jeers and biting
sarcasms of the chorus, many of whom pretend to weep agonizedly into
their handkerchiefs.

The Sleet had been delivered and paid for the preceding Wednesday. She
was an old-style boat with a length of sixteen feet and a sail area
altogether too small for her size. A new coat of brilliant--and as yet
but partly dried--crimson paint hid a multitude of weak places. The
cockpit, upholstered with a piece of faded red carpet, was barely large
enough to allow the three boys to huddle onto it.

The boat-house and landing, Stewart, and the contemptuous chorus were
soon left behind, and The Sleet gained momentum every second. Carl
held the tiller, and Dick and Trevor held their breaths. The wind was
straight abaft, but the cold made the boys huddle closely together to
protect their faces. The academy buildings faded from sight in the
gray afternoon haze, and the river stretched cold and bleak before them.

“How fast are we going?” asked Dick.

“I don’t know; pretty well, I guess,” answered Carl. “Fine, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” replied Dick, doubtfully. “Only I don’t think we ought to go far
away, you know; eh, Trevor?”

“Oh, let her rip. What’s the difference whether we get killed here or
farther up? Pull open the throttle, Carl!”

“Look out for your heads, then; I’m going to swing her across to the
other side.”

Carl moved the tiller to starboard, and the yacht tacked toward the
farther shore at a truly alarming speed.

“She’s going awful fast, Carl,” gasped Dick.

“Pshaw! this is nothing. If there was only a decent wind----”

“Wow, Carl, she’s keeling over!” yelled Trevor.

The starboard runner was a whole foot above the ice. The sensation was
distinctly unpleasant, and even Carl seemed not to relish it.

“Let’s see,” he muttered. “Oh, yes.” He moved the tiller cautiously,
and the flighty runner settled down upon the surface once more.

“That’s better,” gasped Dick. “Let’s turn here and go back, fellows,”
he suggested with a fine semblance of carelessness. Carl grinned.

“Dick’s scared silly, Trevor,” he shouted.

“Well, so’m I,” answered Trevor. “And so are you, only you won’t let
on. The bally thing goes so fast that it makes you feel funny inside
you. But it _is_ fun, Carl. _Look out for the bank!_”

Over went the tiller again, and the yacht started on the starboard
tack. The hills on either side were flying past, and now and then a
cluster of houses were seen dimly for an instant, and then was lost to
sight.

“What’s that ahead there?” asked Dick. Carl raised his eyes and
followed the other’s gaze.

“Ice-yacht,” he answered. “Perhaps they’ll race us.”

“Perhaps they will,” muttered Trevor, “but if you go any faster when
you race, I’ll get off the blooming thing and walk.”

“Bully boy!” cried Carl. “Feeling better, aren’t you?”

“Well, I fancy I’ve got some of my breath back, you know. But I don’t
mind saying that I’d rather ride on a cyclone than this contrivance.
And my feet are like snowballs!”

“So are mine,” echoed Dick. “And all the rest of me. But let’s ask ’em
to race, Carl.”

The other yacht, which when first sighted had been a long distance up
the river, was now but a short way ahead, and was almost motionless,
nose into the wind, as though awaiting the arrival of The Sleet. While
the latter boat was still an eighth of a mile distant a form sprang
into view on the yacht ahead and a hand waved in challenge. Carl
steadied himself on his knees and waved back.

“We’ll race you!” he bawled.

An answering gesture showed that he had been heard, and the figure
disappeared. In another moment the two yachts were abreast, and
the stranger swung about and took the wind. She had two persons
aboard, a man and a woman, both so wrapped from the weather as to be
scarcely distinguishable. She was a much larger boat than The Sleet,
sloop-rigged, with immaculate white sails and without side-timbers.
She wore no paint, but her woodwork was varnished until it shone.
Altogether there was scarcely any comparison between the two yachts, so
immeasurably superior was the sloop in every detail.

The Sleet meanwhile had gained an eighth of a mile, perhaps, ere the
stranger had found the wind, but now the latter came booming after
them at a spanking gait, her big sails as stiff as though frozen. Carl
grinned.

“It’ll be a mighty short race, my boys. She can sail all around this
little triangle. But we’ll give her a go, just the same.” He brought
The Sleet closer to the wind, and then began a series of long tacks
that sent the boat fairly flying over the ice. But the stranger was
already at the same tactics, and ere a mile had passed was abreast of
The Sleet, though at the other side of the river, and her crew were
waving derisively across.

“Well, if we had as much sail as you have,” growled Carl, “we might be
in your class; as it is, we aren’t. But The Sleet is a good goer, all
the same.”

The other boat stood across into the middle of the river, and then, as
though her former efforts had been but the merest dawdling, bounded
away, and was soon but a small white speck far up the ice in the haze.

“Let’s turn back now,” suggested Dick. “It must be getting toward
half-past five, and you must remember that we won’t be able to make as
fast time going down the river as we have coming up.”

“All right, we’ll turn in a minute.”

And then Carl, whose knowledge of ice-yachting was derived from the
hurried perusal of a library book on the subject, cudgeled his brains
to recollect how to “go about.” Of course, he might lower the sail and
then bring her around, but that would be a most clumsy, unsportsmanlike
method, and so not to be seriously considered. Presumably, the thing to
do was to luff.

“Stand by to luff!” he bawled. Dick and Trevor stared.

“Stand!” cried Trevor indignantly. “Why, I can’t stand, you idiot. It’s
all I can do to hold on as it is!”

“Well, look out for the boom, then. I’m going to bring her about.”

“Who?” asked Trevor innocently. But he got no answer, and the next
instant he had forgotten his question, for Carl had thrust the helm
hard over without first ascertaining that the sheet was clear. It
wasn’t. The result was startling. The wind struck the sail full, and
the yacht swung violently to port, tilted almost onto her beam ends.
Carl and Trevor went rapidly through space and brought up on the ice
yards and yards away, happily uninjured save for minor bruises and
scratches, and The Sleet, righting herself, bounded forward with Dick
clutching desperately, dazedly, at the port runner-beam.

When the shock had come Dick, like the others, had been thrown from
the cockpit, but, by good luck or bad, had encountered the end of the
cross-timber, just over the runner, and had seized it and clung to it
with no very clear idea as to what it was, and not greatly caring. And
now, when he opened his eyes and gazed confusedly about, he found the
yacht ringing merrily over the ice and, judging by the feeling, kicking
up her heels in delight, and found himself wrapped convulsively about
the beam with the wind whistling madly in his ears and blowing his
hair helter-skelter, for in his flight through air his cap and he had
parted company. He cast a look backward and thought that for an instant
he could discern in the gathering darkness two figures. Near at hand
the stays ran to the masthead, and he edged himself toward them until
he could grasp one in his numbed fingers. Then he was able to gain the
support of the mast, somewhat painfully, for he found that his shoulder
ached horribly, and that his lip had been cut and was swelling to
disconcerting size. By means of the boom, which was swinging agitatedly
as though constantly meditating a veer to the other side, he reached
the cockpit, and there, stretched once more at length, he studied the
situation.

Apparently, there was no immediate danger; the yacht was heading fairly
straight up the middle of the river, and although now and then the
stern slid this way or that, she was behaving well. But the imperative
thing was to stop. Dick tried to undo a rope that looked promising, but
his fingers were numb and stiff, despite the woolen gloves that covered
them, and refused to act. He peered ahead into the descending darkness.
The shore to the left was getting rather too near for comfort, and he
seized the tiller, and, half fearful of the result, swung it to the
right, with the startling result that the yacht headed more directly
toward the threatening shore. Desperately he moved the tiller to
the left, and gave a sigh of relief as the boat’s nose swung toward
midstream. Encouraged by his success he presently moved the helm back a
little, and with the yacht’s head pointing a middle course, again tried
to think of some means of bringing his unwelcome voyage to an end. He
knew nothing, practically, of yachting on either water or ice, but
he knew that if he could get the sail down the boat would eventually
stop. Painfully he drew off a glove and sought his pocket-knife. It
was not there. He tried all his pockets with the same disappointing
result. Then he drew his glove back over his deadened hand, and
thought desperately of jumping off and letting The Sleet look after
herself. But the prospect of being dashed across the ice at the risk of
a broken limb didn’t appeal to him; and besides, he felt in a measure
responsible for the safe return of the confounded boat.

“Stand by the ship!” he muttered with an attempt at a grin.

[Illustration: “Stand by the ship!” he muttered.]

The wind seemed now to be decreasing in force, but The Sleet still
charged away into the gathering blackness with breathless speed. At a
loss for any better solution, Dick struggled again at the rope, and it
seemed that success was about to reward his efforts when there was a
sudden jar, followed a second later by a strange sinking sensation, the
sound of breaking ice, and then Dick felt the cockpit being lifted up
and up, and ere he could grasp anything he was rolled over the edge and
plunged downward into icy water.



CHAPTER XIV

DICK TELLS HIS STORY


When Carl and Trevor, bruised and breathless, found their feet and
stared about them, The Sleet was already a whisking gray blot in the
twilight. Trevor obeyed his first impulse and limping up the ice in
the direction of the disappearing boat, called frantically: “Dick!
Dick!” Then, realizing the absurdity of his chase after a thing that
was probably reeling off half a mile every minute or so, he stopped and
came dejectedly back to where Carl was silently rubbing a bruised thigh.

“Dick will be killed!” he cried hoarsely. “What shall we do?”

“Get back to the academy,” said Carl.

“What good will that do?”

“They can telegraph up the river and get some one to look for him. I
wonder how far from Hillton we are?”

“I don’t know,” answered Trevor, “but let’s hurry. Which way shall we
go?”

“Across the river to the railroad track. Maybe, Trevor, there’s a
station between here and Hillton; there ought to be, eh?”

“I don’t know,” sorrowed his companion. “Do you think Dick might have
dropped off after we saw him? Maybe, Carl, he’s lying up there on the
ice somewhere.”

“I don’t believe so. I think Dick will hold on as long as he can.
Perhaps he will manage to get back onto the boat; if he does he ought
to be able to stop her; he knows enough to lower the sail, I guess. I
dare say he’ll turn up all right before long. The best thing for us to
do is to find a telegraph office as soon as we can. Come ahead.”

Somewhat comforted, Trevor limped along and the two gained the river
bank and stumbled through the darkness to the railroad track. Down this
they tramped, silent for the most part, with feet that had no feeling
left in them, and with fingers that ached terribly. How far from the
academy they were neither had any idea; perhaps ten miles, perhaps
less. As for the time, that at least they knew, for Trevor managed
to get his watch out and Carl supplied a match; the hands pointed to
twenty minutes of six.

“We ought to be home by seven,” said Carl with attempted cheerfulness.
Trevor groaned.

A quarter of an hour passed; a half. It was too dark to recognize
anything save the lines of track, which had left the river some
distance to the right. Suddenly a slight turn brought into view a
cluster of lights, white and green.

“A station!” cried Trevor.

The two boys increased their gait and five minutes later passed a
freight train on a siding, and found a little box of a station, ablaze
with light, and oh, how warm! Around a great whitewashed stove in the
middle of the waiting-room sat three men. Two had woolen caps on;
the third was bareheaded, and him the boys rightly judged to be the
station-master. Their story was quickly told, and a moment later the
key at the telegraph desk was ticking off messages to stations up the
line.

“You must have got thrown out at about Whitely Mills,” said one of the
men at the stove. “The boat would have a clear track from there up
to---- I say, Gus,” he called suddenly to the man at the instrument,
“they were cutting ice to-day at the houses just this side of Lorraine.
That would be a bad part of the river to get onto in the dark. You’d
better tell the fellow at Lorraine to send some one down there with a
lantern; what d’ye think, Joe?”

The third man nodded his head. “Bad place; I noticed they were cutting
pretty well out toward the channel.”

“All right,” said the station-master. And the instrument ticked on.
Carl and Trevor sat by the stove and held their feet and hands to
the grateful warmth. They were too tired, too dejected to talk. The
engineer and conductor of the waiting freight eyed them curiously but
kindly. Finally the latter asked:

“How you boys going to get to Hillton?”

“Walk,” answered Carl with a faint smile. “How far is it from here?”

“Twelve miles.”

The two lads looked at each other and groaned.

“Well, I don’t care so much, now that I’ve got thawed out a bit,” said
Trevor. “How far do you think we have walked?”

“I guess it’s about three miles from Whitely here.”

“At that rate,” commented Carl dismally, “it will take us two hours
longer to reach Hillton. And”--he glanced at the station clock--“it’s
now twenty after six; say half-past eight.” The engineer and conductor
were exchanging glances of amusement. Finally the conductor spoke again:

“Well, I guess we can fix it so as you won’t have to walk. The through
freight will be here in seven minutes, and I guess they’ll give you a
lift. If they don’t you can ride down with us, although we won’t get
there much before seven. We’re slow but sure, we are; twenty-eight cars
of coal and a caboose.”

The boys brightened and thanked the railroad men fervently. And then
the station-master left the telegraph instrument and came out into the
waiting-room.

“It’s all right. I’ve put ’em on as far north as Yorkvale, and if
he’s still on the yacht they’ll find him, I guess.” He turned to the
conductor and added in lower tones: “Gregson, at Lorraine, says he’ll
see that a party goes down right away; says he doesn’t believe a yacht
could pass there to-night, as the river hasn’t had time to freeze much
since they quit cutting at about four.”

The conductor nodded. From far off came the long, shrill blast of a
locomotive whistle, and the men drew on their coats, and presently,
followed closely by Carl and Trevor, left the station.

There was a flood of yellow light on the rails to the north, and the
next instant the fast freight thundered by them for half its length,
the brake shoes rasping deafeningly against the wheels. The matter was
soon arranged, and Trevor and Carl found themselves sitting in the
strange little caboose about a tiny stove that was almost red-hot, and
telling their story to two of the train crew. And then, almost before
they knew that they had got well started, the train slowed down, and
they were tumbled out into the snow at the Hillton crossing, and,
shouting their thanks after the scurrying car as it romped off again
into the darkness, they took up the last stage of their journey. But
now, aside from the anxiety they felt as to Dick’s fate, they were
fairly comfortable and contented; and the prospect of supper--for it
seemed to them that never before in the history of the world had two
persons been so hungry--allowed them to view their coming interview
with the principal with something approaching equanimity.

Half an hour later Professor Beck was speeding northward in a buggy
behind the fastest horse in Watson’s stables, and Trevor and Carl,
subdued and anxious, were eating as though their lives depended upon
it in the deserted dining-hall. And afterward Trevor donned his
ridiculous red dressing-gown and sat in front of the study fire for
hours, listening anxiously for sounds on the stairs that would tell of
Dick’s safe return. Sleep, despite his best endeavors, besieged him
constantly, and now and then he dropped off for a minute or two, only
to reawake with a start and rub his smarting eyes confusedly.

“I wish Muggins was here,” he sighed. “It wouldn’t be so lonely.” Then
the clock gathered its hands together at the figure XII, and Trevor
crept sleepily but protestingly to bed and dropped into heavy slumber
the moment his head touched the pillow.

Once--it seemed as though it must be almost daylight--there were
disturbing sounds in the bedroom, and Trevor turned over with a groan,
and, even while he was asking himself what the noise meant, went off to
slumber again. When he awoke in the morning, and the happenings of the
previous evening rushed back to memory, he sat up suddenly with a wild,
anxious look toward the neighboring bed, and a deep sigh of relief and
joy escaped him. For Dick’s tumbled head lay on the pillow, and Dick’s
hearty snores made music in his ears.

In the afternoon the crew of The Sleet, including Stewart, were
gathered about the hearth in Number 16, listening breathlessly to
Dick’s narrative.

“My, but that water was cold!” Dick was saying. “And deep, too. It
seemed as though I never would stop going down. You see, I was so
surprised that I just let myself go, and never thought of struggling
for a long while. When I did, it took me so long to reach the surface
again that I hadn’t any breath left in my body. I got hold of the edge
of the ice and tried to pull myself out, but it was only about half an
inch thick, I guess, and broke right off every time, and down I’d go
again, over my head, maybe. Finally I stopped that and managed to keep
my head out. It was as dark as Egypt by that time, but after awhile I
caught sight of The Sleet just a few yards away, sticking up into the
air like a big triangle. It was on its side with one runner ’way under
the water. Farther off I could make out three black hulks of things
that I concluded were ice-houses, and Professor Beck says that’s what
they were. Of course, when I saw the yacht I knew that I was all right;
all I had to do was to keep on breaking the ice until I reached it. But
I was so plaguy cold, and my teeth were chattering so, and my clothing
was so heavy that it wasn’t very easy after all. But after a while I
found something that wasn’t ice; it was the sail, and it was lying flat
over the water and broken ice. It sagged down with me after I managed
to get onto it, but held me all right, and I crawled along it until I
reached the--the--what do you call it, Carl?”

“Boom?”

“Yes, boom. And then I got onto the mast and leaned against a
plank--the cross-plank, it was--and I was all right, except that I
was almost dead with the cold, and was afraid I’d freeze to death.
So I kept stamping around and throwing my arms about as well as I
could without falling into the water again, and after a while I got
comparatively warmed up. Then--I suppose I’d been there fifteen or
twenty minutes--I began to wonder if I couldn’t get off. You see, I
argued that the yacht would have broken through just as soon as the ice
became thin, and so it seemed to me that there must be thick ice just
back of the boat. But, try as I might, I couldn’t for the life of me
decide which was the back of the silly thing and which the front. And
I was afraid that I’d go plumping into that beastly cold water again.
But after a while I got up my pluck and went to feeling about, letting
myself down here and there, and crawling around. But every time I’d
try to stand on the ice, down I’d go; and so finally I gave it up. But
the climbing about kept me warmed up after a fashion; I dare say I was
as warm as a fellow could be with his clothes sopping wet where they
weren’t frozen stiff. So I crawled back to the mast again and set out
to holler.

“I wish you could have heard me! I yelled in forty different styles.
And when I couldn’t think of anything else I cheered; cheered for
Hilton, cheered for The Sleet, cheered for the ice-houses, and
incidentally, my young friends, cheered myself. And then my voice and
my breath gave out, and I stood still a while and kicked my frozen
feet against the plank and thought about fires and cups of hot coffee
and things to eat until I was nearly crazy. And then I saw some lights
flickering away off in the distance to the right of the ice-houses,
and began yelling again. And that’s about all. There were three fellows
with lanterns and they got a piece of plank or something and took me
off. And what do you think?” he asked disgustedly. “There was thick
ice, half a foot thick, within three feet of me all the time!

“A man who said he was the station-master took me up to a house, and
they gave me some blankets and things and dried my clothes and poured
hot coffee and brandy stuff into me, and I went to sleep for a while
in front of a big round stove; and was never so happy in my life.
Afterward I ate some supper; my, fellows, but it was good! And then, in
about an hour or so, Professor Beck popped in and said that he didn’t
want to hurry me, but that if I’d quite finished bathing we’d go home.
The station fellow--I believe I’ve forgotten his name--said he’d attend
to having the ice-yacht hauled out for us, and would look after it
until we sent for it.”

“Do you think it’s much broken up?” asked Carl.

“I don’t know,” replied Dick vigorously, “and what’s more, I don’t care
a continental!”

       *       *       *       *       *

The Sleet, to anticipate a trifle, went back to its former owner at
a loss to the shareholders of six dollars, and a faculty edict was
solemnly published prohibiting forevermore at Hillton Academy the
fascinating and exhilarating sport of ice-yachting.



CHAPTER XV

IN THE ROWING-ROOM


February came in at Hillton as though resolved to make up for its
brevity by strict attention to business, and dealt out snow and sleet
with a lavish hand, and bullied the elements, which had begun to show
signs of relenting, into a state of sullen ferocity. For days together
the sun never so much as showed its face through the leaden clouds,
and the winds howled spitefully across the yard. It was the sort
of weather which, as Trevor explained one afternoon, while staring
dolorously out the window, fairly drove a fellow to study. The river
retained its armor of glaring ice, and the white-winged yachts passed
and repassed continuously, without, however, eliciting anything but the
most grudging admiration from Dick. The hockey team went to Marshall
and triumphed decisively over St. Eustace, who, minus Jenkins and the
freckle-faced Billings, was shorn of her strength. And, as though that
was not glory enough, Hillton and her old rival met in debate in the
town hall at Hillton and the former won a fourth consecutive victory by
proving to the satisfaction of three staid and reverend judges that the
development of the arid West would prove of more benefit to the United
States than the construction of an isthmian canal.

Work in the cage had begun for the baseball candidates, and Carl Gray
was very busy. Ambitious youths who were striving for places on the
track team held forth three afternoons each week in the gymnasium, and
a spirit of athletism seized upon the school world. The first squad
of crew candidates had graduated from weights to machines, while the
second squad, swelled by eight recruits since its first assembling,
were still in the throes of preliminary training. Professor Beck had
“hooked” the promising upper middle boy of whom he had spoken to Dick;
several candidates, inclusive of the unfortunate Perry, had been
dropped, and Coach Kirk had paid his first visit to the academy, had
looked the fellows over undemonstratively, and had gone his way again.
To-day, a bleak and dismal Thursday, the machines were occupied, and
Professor Beck was watching the performances of the eight youths with
dissatisfied mien.

“Lengthen out, Waters, lengthen out; that’s better. Crocker, your
recovery’s too slow; put some ginger into it; this is no place to go to
sleep. Four, put more drive into your legs; that’s the way. Stroke, hit
it up a little!” And Dick, in obedience to the command, quickened his
stroke. When the rest had gone Beck turned to Dick: “Hope, what’s the
matter with Taylor? This is the third day he’s been absent. We can’t
have that. You must speak to him, and tell him that he’ll have to
attend to business better.”

And Dick promised and went off laggingly to the task. He found Taylor
in his room in a boarding-house in the village.

He was stretched out on a couch reading when Dick entered in response
to a loud “Come in.” He appeared surprised when he looked up and saw
who his visitor was, but rose to the demands of the occasion.

“Hello, Hope, glad to see you. Sit down. Been ice-yachting lately?”

Dick replied gravely that he had not, and then heroically plunged into
the subject of his visit.

“Look here, Taylor,” he said, “I wish you’d try to be a little more
careful about training. You missed work again to-day. This makes the
third time it’s happened in the last two weeks. Can’t you do better
than that?”

Taylor frowned and yawned lazily before he answered.

“I’m glad you’ve mentioned it, Hope. The fact is, I’ve been thinking
about chucking it. I can’t see how I’m going to go in for rowing this
year and hope to pass spring exams. That’s what the trouble is, old
chap. I’ve been digging hard all afternoon”--adding, as he saw Dick
glance at the magazine in his hands--“just this minute laid my Greek
aside and took up this to--er--ease my brain.” He stopped and smiled
amiably across.

Dick frowned.

“That’s nonsense, Taylor, and you know it,” he said in low tones.

“Nonsense!” Taylor raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“Yes, nonsense. You can’t convince me that you’re so stupid as not to
be able to train for the crew and get through with your studies. There
are lots of fellows doing it; always have done it. I’m doing it myself;
Crocker’s doing it; so’s Milton and Arnold and lots of fellows; they’re
all in in our class; I haven’t heard them say that they were afraid of
not passing.”

“Well, that may be,” replied Taylor, “but it’s a question that every
fellow must decide for himself. I honestly don’t think I ought to keep
up crew work; I’ve got my folks to think of, you know; they didn’t
send me to school here to row or play football or anything of that
sort--that is, not that alone. I’ve got to pass, and to do that I’ve
got to study. If I’m not as smart and clever as some of the rest of
you”--here there was a trace of a sneer--“I can’t help it; a fellow’s
what he is, you know.”

Dick experienced an intense desire to kick his host and tell him what
he thought of him. But instead he smiled conciliatingly.

“I think you’re underestimating your ability, Taylor. Like a good
fellow, get those notions out of your head and come back to work; do
your best for the crew; it’s your last year. You know what shape we’re
in; we haven’t anywhere near the material we ought to have. Confound
it, Taylor, you’ve got to stay in the boat! You can’t do anything
else, when you stop and think how your leaving will weaken us!”

A smile of pleased vanity crossed the other boy’s face. Then he shook
his head resolutely.

“No, I can’t do it, Hope. Oh, I’ve thought it all over, and I know what
it means to the crew; but you’ll soon find another fellow at seven, and
never miss me. Of course, I’m awful sorry if it’s going to make trouble
for you, Hope; you know that. But it’s my duty, and I guess we’d better
consider the matter settled. I”--he smiled apologetically--“I’ll tender
my resignation, Hope.”

Dick arose, striving to conceal the indignation he felt.

“I sha’n’t accept it to-day, Taylor,” he answered gravely. “If you
feel the same way about it to-morrow evening, after thinking it over,
send me word and then I’ll scratch your name off the list. Only I hope
you’ll see your way to stay in the boat.”

On the way back to the academy Dick gave vent to his feelings, creasing
his brows savagely, kicking right and left at inoffending lumps of ice,
and even muttering half aloud as he strode along.

“Of all mean, contemptible tricks,” he thought angrily, “that’s the
worst! Just to spite me he’s willing to see the school defeated! By
Jove, I have half a mind to put the whole affair before Beck and
Wheeler; the whole school ought to know it. If they did, Taylor’s life
wouldn’t be worth living! But, no, I can’t shove it off on any one
else; I’m captain; I’ve got to fight it out alone; and I will! And I’ll
turn out a decent crew in spite of Taylor, in spite of anything he can
do, by Jove! I’ll----”

“’Ware the dog!” cried a voice, and he looked up quickly to see Trevor
grinning at him and to find Muggins leaping about him.

“Hello, Muggs!” he cried, vainly striving to bestow a pat upon that
unquiet animal. “Say, Trevor, hasn’t he grown? He’s twice the size he
was when you got him!”

“It’s a way puppies have.”

“You don’t say so? Who’d have thunk it! Beastly cold, isn’t it? Where
you going?”

“You can ask a lot of questions for a small kid,” laughed Trevor. “I’m
going to take Muggins back to his soap-box, and then I’m going home.
We’ve been out for a nice long walk, haven’t we, Muggins? Where’ve you
been?”

“Paying an afternoon call on Roy Taylor. Come on, I’ll walk back to the
stable with you.”

“All right; come ahead, Muggins. Now, behave yourself nicely before
your Uncle Richard! Hope Taylor was glad to see you?”

“I guess he was. Why?”

“Oh, you needn’t be so bally secretive about it,” grinned Trevor.
“Don’t you think I know that you went to call him down for not showing
up to-day?”

“You seem to know a good deal,” answered Dick, noncommittingly.

Trevor nodded vigorously.

“I do; I’m what you fellows call ‘right smart.’ I hope you gave it to
him straight from the shoulder.” And after a pause, in a sudden burst
of enthusiasm, “I don’t like that chap a little bit!”

“I gathered as much,” laughed Dick. “Beck was pretty huffy at him this
afternoon.”

“I don’t wonder. Just fancy, the beggar doesn’t show up half the time,
while the rest of us poor dubs sit there and slave at those bally
machines until our arms are pulled out of shape. I know mine are at
least six inches longer than they were a month ago.”

“How did you get on to-day?”

“Fairly well, I fancy. Only it takes a long time to get used to your
style of rowing. You see, it’s rather different from ours.”

“Is it? Perhaps you’re not aware that we are supposed to row the
English stroke?” Trevor raised his eyebrows.

“The dickens you say? Well, I can’t see much resemblance, Dick. Why,
you haven’t any body-swing; you make a chap’s legs do it all!”

“Do we? Well, you must mention that to Kirk next Saturday; I dare say
he’ll be glad to hear about it.”

“Rot; I’m not finding fault; any old stroke will do me; I’m just
saying that there’s a difference between the stroke that Beck and you
teach and the English stroke that I’ve seen. Maybe yours is the better
of the two. Here we are, Muggins. Now, be a good doggy until I see you
again; and don’t pull any more blankets off the table, or Jim will lay
it onto you with a strap.”

Muggins had by this time grown inured to partings, and so only stood by
the office stove and watched them disappear with head on one side and a
sort of “Must you go?” expression in his eyes.

“When do we get onto the river?” asked Trevor presently as they
retraced their steps down the village street in the teeth of a
northwest gale.

“Depends; sometimes in early March, sometimes not until about April.
You see, the ice makes it awkward. Kirk has got it into his head that
we’ll get out early this spring; I don’t know whether he’s made any
arrangements with the weather man.”

“He’s older than I expected. Last year I was a bit surprised to see
what a staid and venerable party he was.”

“Well, he’s nearly forty, though I don’t suppose that’s exactly
old--when you get used to it; they get even older, I’m told. But Kirk
knows a good deal about rowing, and he has turned out some dandy crews,
both here and at Harwell. When he was at school here he was captain of
the eight in his upper middle and senior years, and at college he rowed
four in his class crew the first year, went into the varsity boat the
next, and stayed there until he graduated; he was captain in his senior
year. Then he coached them for a while. This is his fourth year with
us, and we’ve beaten St. Eustace twice and been beaten once in that
time; and we’ll beat her again next June.”

“I hope so,” said Trevor, “only I can’t see why every one seems
so half-hearted about it. I don’t mean you or Beck,” he explained
hurriedly, “but the fellows as a rule; they don’t seem to care much
about it.”

“I know; but part of that is just--just put on, assumed, Trevor; when
the crews get on the water it will be different. But, just the same,”
he owned sorrowfully, “there is an unusual lack of rowing spirit among
the fellows this year. I dare say it will happen that way now and then.
Only I wish it hadn’t happened this year,” he added ruefully.

“So do I, for your sake, old chap,” answered Trevor heartily as they
climbed to their room.

The head coach put in his appearance on the following Saturday
afternoon, despite a heavy snow-storm that well-nigh blocked the
roads, and by his brisk, businesslike manners put new life into the
first squad, for the moment at least. Malcolm Kirk was a man of medium
height, approaching forty years of age, with a good but not exaggerated
breadth of chest and shoulder, and very serious and steady black eyes.
His manner was usually contained and rather grave, and he possessed a
widely noted habit of keeping his own mind and every one else’s fixed
firmly for the time on the matter in hand, to the exclusion of all
else.

As an example of this, it was told of him that once, while coaching a
college crew in a barge, he was lecturing a man in the waist on the
subject of dropping the hands, when the barge struck a snag which
ripped a hole in her. “You don’t get your oar out of the water clean,
Four,” remonstrated the coach. “Drop the forearm as well as the hands.”
The barge was by this time awash. “We’ve ripped a hole in the skin,
sir,” called the coxswain. “Eh? Very careless,” answered the coach from
the bow of the launch. “There, Four, that’s better. Now make your wrist
turn sharper. Keep it up, keep it up; you’re doing better!” And the
eight rowed the half-filled barge an eighth of a mile before Kirk was
quite satisfied with the unfortunate Four’s work, and allowed the men
to come out.

To-day the first thing he noted was the presence of a new fellow at
seven.

“Where’s that man Taylor?” he asked of Dick.

“He’s stopped training, Mr. Kirk; says he can’t keep up with his
studies.” Kirk stared.

“Nonsense, we must have him back; tell him so, Hope. Now, Six, that
won’t do; don’t meet the oar that way, take it back to you; finish hard
and full. Bow, you begin to slide forward too soon; start your swing
first and let it carry the slide with it. Three, you’re doing better
to-day. Keep the leg-power up to the last moment; knees down firm at
the end of the stroke.” And Trevor, tugging heroically, hears, and
begins to think that perhaps he _will_ learn the stroke eventually,
after all!

When work was over Kirk again brought up the subject of Taylor. “Yes,
we must have him back, Hope; tell him so; make him understand that
it’s necessary. He’s a good oar; fits into his place well; has lots of
weight where he needs it.”

“I’m afraid he won’t come back,” answered Dick. “He’s got it into his
head that he can’t go in for rowing and pass his exams.”

“Pooh! never mind what he’s got into his head; tell him we need him
in the boat; make him understand that it’s his duty, Hope. And I tell
you we _do_ need him, my boy; never saw such an unpromising lot of
fellows at Hillton. That man you had at seven to-day couldn’t fill the
place in the boat; he’s too light; don’t think he has the grit for it,
even if he learned to put some power into his stroke, which he doesn’t
at present. You’ve got a good man at bow; what’s his name? Shield?
Well, he’s promising. And Three, I like Three’s looks; seems to be in
earnest, though he has a deuce of a queer way of throwing his body
around the boat.”

“That’s Nesbitt,” explained Dick. “He’s English, and has rowed some at
home; I believe he finds our stroke rather difficult; but I think he’ll
do well; he’s my roommate, and I know that he’s the sort of fellow
that’ll keep on trying until he gets what he’s after.”

Kirk nodded approvingly.

“I shouldn’t wonder. English, eh? That explains that body-swing of his,
I suppose. Well, I guess he’ll turn out well, though I believe he’ll do
better at four when we get into the water. Now, I’ll have a look at the
other squad.”

“It’s all very well for Kirk to talk about making Taylor come back,”
said Dick to himself that evening, “but I wish he had it to do.
However, I suppose I’ll have to make a stab at it. But I’d rather have
a tooth pulled. We do need him, though, and that’s a fact, and what
I’ve got to do is forget what I like and don’t like, and work for
the crew. I’ll go around and see him to-morrow. No, by Jove, I’ll go
to-night; there’s no time like the present for anything disagreeable!”
And he jumped up, threw aside his book, and began to struggle into his
coat. Trevor glanced up in surprise.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Over to the village to see Taylor.”

“Phew! what a growl; want me to go along?”

“No, not unless you want to sit on the steps and wait for me; I’ve got
to see him about something private.”

Trevor grinned.

“Fancy, now! Honest, Dick, if you’re going to punch his head, I’d like
blooming well to help you.”

“I dare say,” laughed his roommate, “but I’m not going to punch his
head. Coming along?”

“And sit on the front doorstep in this weather and twiddle my thumbs?
I fancy not, my dear. As the vulgar manner of speech hath it, ‘Guess
again!’” And Trevor snuggled up ostentatiously to the warmth of the
blaze. But after Dick had taken his departure he laid down his book and
eyed the flames thoughtfully.

“I rather wish I had gone along,” he muttered. “It’s just possible that
he is going to punch Taylor, after all.”



CHAPTER XVI

A DECLARATION OF WAR


Dick was lucky enough to find Roy Taylor at home, huddled close to the
fireplace, and evidently busy with his studies. His welcome to-night
was less suave than on the occasion of Dick’s previous visit. His
greeting was almost impolite, and Dick, who on his way from the yard
had resolved to keep his temper no matter what happened, already felt
his anger rising.

[Illustration: A declaration of war.]

“I came to see you about crew work, Taylor,” he began. “In the first
place we need you in the boat; in the second place we’ve got to have
you.”

“My dear chap----” began Taylor in bored tones.

“No, wait a minute,” interrupted Dick. “Let me have my say. You’ve left
us in a hole. It would have been better if you hadn’t started training
at all; better than letting me think you were going to row and then
backing down in this way; as I say, it leaves us in a hole. Besides
that, it’s not--not patriotic. You know what a hard time we’ve got
ahead of us; you know that we’ve got to have good material if we are to
win out from St. Eustace; and you know that when you cut rowing you’re
doing about all in your power to get us beaten.”

Taylor flushed angrily.

“That’s tommyrot!”

“No, it isn’t; it’s the truth; you know it is, Taylor. And you know
very well that if the fellows learned it you couldn’t stay here.”

“Well, on my word!” ejaculated Taylor; “you’ve got a lot of cheek to
sit there and--and throw insults at me. You must be crazy!”

“I don’t think so; and I’m not insulting you, at least not intentionally.
But I am telling what’s so. You’ve taken about the meanest course in the
matter you could, and all the school would say so if they knew.”

“I suppose that’s a threat,” sneered Taylor.

“No, it isn’t. I have no intention----”

“But let me tell you that I don’t care a fig for all your nasty
insinuations, Hope; you can tell all the lies about me you want to. I
don’t believe that the fellows will call it dishonest for a chap to
give up crew work because he finds that he can’t do justice to his
studies; I don’t believe that they will call it mean. I tell you, Hope,
you crew and football and baseball beggars have got a false notion of
school life; you think that all a chap comes here for is to row in
your dirty old boat, or mess round with a football; that study is a
secondary consideration. But it’s not that way, by ginger; no, sir;
that’s where you are off!”

“That’s nonsense,” replied Dick calmly. “And you know well enough
that I don’t think any such thing, nor do any of the fellows here. What
I do think is that the average fellow can do his studies and take part
in sports and be all the better for it. Look at the Honor Men of last
year; look----”

“I don’t care a fig for the Honor Men of last year. What I say----”

“Taylor, when you tell me that you’ve chucked rowing because you can’t
keep up with your studies you’re saying what isn’t so,” cried Dick.

“Oh!” Taylor glared with an ugly expression in his eyes. “Oh, is that
so? Maybe you know all about my affairs--better than I do, perhaps?”

“I know that much,” answered Dick, striving to speak calmly. “I know
that the reason you’ve left the crew is because you want to do all you
can to prevent me from turning out a winning eight. And I know you want
to do that because you have a grudge against me for beating you last
spring for the captaincy. I know that much, Taylor, and I want you to
know that I know it. We might as well understand each other right here
and now.”

Taylor’s snarl died away, and he grinned mockingly across at Dick.

“All right, my smart friend. Supposing that is so? Mind, I don’t say
that it is so; but supposing it is, what are you going to do about it?”

Dick hesitated for an instant and the grin on Taylor’s face widened as
he saw it.

“Perhaps you’re going to tell that yarn to the fellows?”

“No,” answered Dick; “I’ve thought of that, but I’m no tell-tale; and,
besides, it wouldn’t do any good. It might make things unpleasant for
you----”

“If any one believed it,” sneered Taylor.

“But it wouldn’t better the crew any. And that’s all I care about,
Taylor. I’m captain this year, and I’m going to turn out a good crew;
I’m going to do it in spite of you or anything you can do!”

“Dear me, dear me, you ought to go into melodrama, Hope; you’d make a
hit, really you would.” Then his manner changed suddenly, and he leaned
forward toward the other, scowling darkly. “Look here, I don’t mind
telling the truth, Hope, to you; I’m not afraid of anything you can do.
You’re right about the captaincy; you’re right about the grudge, if
you care to call it that. Let me tell you: This is my last year here.
I’m not going up to college like you; I mean a college where they have
rowing; I’m going to Tech. Ever since I came here I’ve wanted to be
captain--for one year if no more; that’s been my--my ambition, if you
like; I’d set my heart on it. I went into rowing when I was a junior;
made a place. The next year I went into the varsity boat. The next year
I hoped to be captain, but I missed it; Brown won it, hang him! Last
spring I thought I had it at last; there was no reason why I shouldn’t
have had it; I’m a good oar, as good as there was in the last year’s
varsity; I’m old enough; and I’m a senior. But no, you had to spoil it;
you were popular with the crew, more popular than I was; and you had
Beck with you. If it hadn’t been for Beck I’d have made it, I know; but
he wanted you to have it.”

“Beck had no part in the election,” said Dick.

“He didn’t attend it and he had no vote, but don’t you suppose the
fellows knew what he wanted? Of course they did; they were willing to
please Beck; and so they chose you captain. And that’s why I’ve no love
for you. I’ve worked all the fall and all the winter, so far, to keep
the fellows from joining the crews; and I’ve succeeded, too; and I’m
going to keep on unless----” He paused and dropped his gaze from Dick’s
face for an instant.

“I see,” said Dick, with traces of wonderment in his voice. “But
what--what does it all lead to? You may bring defeat to Hillton, but
how will that better things? You wanted the captaincy; I can understand
that; I--I think I’m sorry you were disappointed----”

“Cut it out!” growled Taylor.

“But it’s too late now, isn’t it? Haven’t you made trouble enough? As
far as I’m concerned personally I don’t care a row of buttons whether
you have it in for me or not, but what’s the use in taking your spite
out on the whole school?”

“Maybe it isn’t too late,” answered Taylor, smiling oddly. “You see,
I know pretty well what sort of a chap you are; you’re one of those
conscientious dubs; you’d do all kinds of stunts and be tickled to
death if you thought you were helping the school. And you’re honest
all through; if you lied to any one--even yourself--you’d go off
into a corner somewhere and throw a fit! I’ve taken all that into
consideration.”

“Drop that,” said Dick stiffly, “and say what you mean.”

“All right. Look here; do you want Hillton to win the race? Very well;
and do you think she can do it with the material she’s got now?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Oh, no you don’t; and if you do you’re mightily mistaken. I said a
while ago that you’d find a man for my place at seven, but you won’t;
there isn’t one to be found; there isn’t a fellow that’s heavy enough
for it. I know; I’ve watched what’s going on, and I know who you’ve
got. And you’ll lose other men before long; I’ve fixed that. Now,
listen; there’s just one way you can turn out a crew that will run away
from St. Eustace: that’s by getting me back into the boat, keeping all
the experienced fellows you’ve got, and getting one or two good men
that will only go in for crew work when I ask them to.”

Taylor paused and smiled triumphantly. Dick clenched his hands,
fighting down an almost overpowering impulse to leap across the width
of the hearth, and--yes, as Trevor had suggested--punch Taylor’s head!

“That makes you mad, eh?” grinned his host.

“What are you driving at?” cried Dick angrily. “If you’ve got anything
to say, say it and get done.”

“Well, I’ve got an offer to make,” replied Taylor softly. “I’ll go back
to work and bring three, possibly four, good fellows with me, and do
all I can for the success of the crew, if----”

“If what?”

“If you’ll resign from the captaincy.”

Dick stared at the other for a moment in speechless amaze. For the
first time a full understanding of Taylor’s conspiracy came to him; but
even then he could scarcely believe that the other was in earnest.

“But--how would that help you?” he gasped.

“I should get the captaincy, because according to the bargain you would
promise to do all you could to help me get it. Well, what do you say?”

Dick jumped up and stared angrily at the other’s smiling, imperturbable
face.

“I say no! I say you’re a mean, contemptible scoundrel, Taylor. And
I’ve heard enough; you make me sick!” He buttoned his coat with fingers
that trembled despite him, and strode to the door. Taylor’s face was
flushed, and he arose and took a step after him. Then he stopped and,
seemingly with an effort, laughed harshly.

“I thought you’d refuse at first,” he said. “There’s no hurry; think it
over. You’ll consent in the end because”--he raised his voice, for Dick
was already in the hall--“because it’s the only way you can make sure
of success for the crew.”

Dick strode down the stairs without replying, and plunged into
the darkness toward the academy, striding along as though shod in
seven-league boots, in an unconscious effort to escape from the fury
that possessed him. At the gate leading into the yard he paused
breathlessly, looked about him, and laughed shortly.

“And I started out with the resolve to keep my temper!” he sighed.

As he reached the head of the stairs the sound of a voice, even-toned,
monotonous, met his ears, and as he approached Number 16 he discovered
that it issued from that study. He paused outside the door and
listened; Trevor was apparently translating aloud:

“‘The hippopotamus is esteemed sacred in the Papremis district, but in
no other part of Egypt. I shall describe its nature and properties. It
has four feet, which are cloven--like the devil’s--or like an ox’s;
the nose is short and tip-tilted--like Trevor Nesbitt’s--and the teeth
are prominent--like Professor Sharp’s; it resembles a horse in its
mane----’”

“Excellent, Nesbitt, excellent,” said a deep voice, for all the world
like Professor Garrison’s. “Hence, gentlemen, we have the saying
‘Remember the Mane.’ Proceed, Nesbitt.”

“‘It resembles a horse in its mane, its tail, and its voice; it is of
the size of a big ox, and has an epidermis--otherwise, and in vulgar
parlance, a skin--so remarkably thick that when dry it becomes very
offensive.’” The monotonous voice paused; apparently the rendering of
the latter portion of the narrative was not quite satisfactory. But the
second occupant of the study was evidently lenient, for the deep voice
said:

“Proceed, Nesbitt; that is correct.”

“He’s reading Herodotus,” said Dick to himself. “But who in thunder is
that with him?”

“‘The Nile,’” continued Trevor, “‘also produces otters, which Egyptians
venerate, as they do also the fish named lepidotus--so called on
account of its spots, which resemble those of a leopard--and the eel;
these are sacred to the Nile, as among birds is one named chenalopex.’
What is that, professor?”

“The chenalopex,” responded the deep voice, “is a bird----”

But Dick’s curiosity got the better of him at this point, and he opened
the door and entered. At the study table was Trevor, Dick’s volume
of Herodotus open before him, and a Greek lexicon at his elbow. Dick
stared about the room in surprise. Save for Trevor and himself it was
empty.

“What in thunder----” he began.

“Hope,” said Trevor, pointing a paper-knife at him in the manner of
Professor Garrison, and speaking sternly in deep tones, “take your
seat, sir. The habit of tardiness appears to be growing upon you, sir.
Pattern your conduct upon that of the excellently punctual Nesbitt.”

Dick seized Trevor’s head and rubbed his nose violently into Herodotus.
“You silly chump, you! What do you think you’re doing?”

“Amusing myself, I fancy. What can a chap do when his roommate goes
off and leaves him this way?” He struck the paper-knife against the
green shade of the drop-light. “Beg pardon, professor, I believe the
bell rang.” Then, in the professor’s voice, “The bell, Nesbitt? Ah,
the time passes very quickly when deep in the beautiful utterances of
Herodotus. We will begin to-morrow where we leave off this morning, at
the seventy-first paragraph.” Trevor slammed the book shut, jumped up,
and grinned at Dick.

“You’d better be learning your own lessons than mine,” laughed the
latter. “And, now that Professor Garrison’s gone, I propose to go to
bed.”

Long after the light was out Trevor sat up suddenly and asked:

“I say, Dick, did you thump Taylor?”

“No,” was the drowsy answer. Trevor snuggled back under the clothes,
grumbling.

“What do you expect to amount to when you grow up,” he asked
disgustedly, “if you continue to neglect your opportunities in this
way?”

The next day Waters, rowing at five in the first squad, informed Dick
that, because of not having enough time for his studies, he had decided
to stop work with the crew.



CHAPTER XVII

IN THE BOAT


When, on the following Saturday, Coach Kirk again visited Hillton, Dick
had a sorry report to make: Taylor obdurate; Waters gone; two members
of the second squad ill.

“Taylor absolutely refuses, eh?” said the coach, studying Dick’s face.
“Well, if he won’t he won’t, and we must do our best without him. And
Waters has dropped out, too, you say? He was at five, wasn’t he? Well,
that’s another good man lost. You’ve tried to persuade him to come
back?”

“Yes; I did all I could.”

“Ah! Is Waters a particular friend of Taylor’s?”

“I think they’re rather chummy.”

“I see. Well, Hope, I can’t pass behind you in this matter; it’s your
business to look after the fellows, and if you can’t get them to stay
in training, that ends it. We must do the best we can with what we’ve
got. We’ll try Nesbitt at four to-day, and put Rankin of the second
squad into Waters’s place. And, by the way, we’d better divide the
second; make a third squad. That will leave two over, won’t it? Two
men, I mean? I thought so. I wish to goodness we had a second set of
machines here. However---- By the way, Hope, you’re not looking very
fit to-day; feel pretty well, do you?”

“Yes; I’m all right; didn’t sleep very steady last night, I guess.”

“Well, you’ll have to look after yourself carefully. If you go off your
feed we _will_ be in a hole. Now I want to see Beck a minute or two
before we start to rowing.” And Kirk strode out onto the floor, and as
he went he said to himself: “Plain as daylight; Hope and Taylor are
at loggerheads, and Taylor’s persuaded Waters to leave. Nice state of
affairs!”

February passed into March, and March, after performing its usual
æolian repertoire, subsided toward the end of its reign in preparation
for a lamblike exit. And one morning Dick pushed up the blind and,
according to his custom of weeks past, looked toward the river. And,
lo, the water sparkled deeply blue under a springlike sun, and, save
for a patch here and there along the margins and in the lee of the
islands, was clear of ice.

“The river’s open at last!” he shouted to Trevor. And that youth
hurried to the window to see the marvel with his own eyes.

“Good work! I say, Dick, it looks warm enough to go in swimming. Will
we get out to-day?”

Dick shook his head.

“I guess we’ll wait until Saturday.”

“Saturday! But, jumping jiminy, this is only Tuesday!” exclaimed
Trevor. “How can you expect a chap to grind away in the gym on a day
like this?” He pushed the window up and threw himself over the sill,
kicking his heels delightedly and breathing in the fresh, moist air
greedily. A fringe of icicles above dripped water down onto his bare
neck, and he giggled hysterically. “Just like a needle bath,” he
sputtered.

“Come on and get dressed,” said Dick, “and let’s go over to breakfast.”

“All right; wait until I eat an icicle.” He reached up and broke off
several. “Have one?”

“No, and no more will you,” replied Dick, knocking them out of his
hand. “When you’re in training for the boat you can’t eat icicles;
they’ll give you pains in your tummy.”

“Rot,” said Trevor; “there’s nothing more healthful than a nice
underdone icicle just before breakfast.”

The boat-house on the following Saturday afternoon was a scene of
much activity and color. The fellows turned out almost to a man for
a look at the crews at work, and the second and third squad stood by
and watched enviously while their more fortunate friends lifted one
of the long cedar shells from the house and placed it in the water at
the end of the float. The coxswain, an upper middle lad named Keene,
called the numbers, and, one by one, Trevor by virtue of his place at
four, leading, the first squad entered the boat. Kirk contented himself
to-day with a point of vantage on the landing, for the tiny naphtha
launch was not yet ready for duty.

“Get your feet into the stretchers, men, and see how they feel. How is
that, Six, too long? Hold her steady, you fellows. That’s better, isn’t
it?” And when the last stretcher had been placed to suit: “Keene, keep
the boat in the stretch here by the landing and inshore as much as you
can. All right.”

“Get ready,” called the coxswain. The boat was pushed off from the
float. “Forward!” The crew moved up with their slides. “Paddle!” and
the shell floated out into the stream, her bow pointing up the river.
“Easy all!” The paddling ceased and the boat lay motionless. “Forward!”
The eight bodies bent. “Are you ready? Row!” and the blades swirled
through the water and the boat leaped forward. Dick, at stroke, pulled
leisurely, and after the first three or four strokes the rest of the
eight caught the time, and the locks clicked in unison. At a little
distance up-stream the boat was turned, and, with the same long,
leisurely stroke, was brought back and past the landing, where Kirk,
eagle-eyed, watched the work silently. Down-stream the shell was again
turned, and, when it was once more opposite the float, was brought to a
stop.

“Seven, keep your eyes in the boat and watch the stroke,” called Kirk.
“Five, you’re too late every time. Four, you don’t finish out. Bring
your hands home. Two, keep your shoulders down at the finish. Cox,
watch the boat; coming down just now she rolled like a log; keep an eye
on Three and Bow; I think they’re the offenders. Try it again.”

And off went the boat once more, turned, passed the landing, and
finally was again brought up that the coach might continue his
criticism. Then the first squad was released and the second was given
a few minutes instruction in watermanship, merely taking their places
in the boat, handling the oars and paddling to and fro about the float.
The third squad followed, and as each was released it was sent off for
a run.

Among the fellows who watched the work of the crews that afternoon was
Roy Taylor. It would, perhaps, be more truthful to say that he divided
his watching between the crew and the coach. And from the latter he
learned as much as from the former, and what he saw was evidently to
his liking, for he went off up the steps whistling thoughtfully but
with satisfaction.

“I’ll give Hope another three weeks to come around,” he said to
himself, as he passed Society House and turned toward Academy Building.
“If by that time he hasn’t consented to give me the captaincy,
I’ll--I’ll eat my hat. I never saw such a duffer in a boat as that
fellow they had to-day in my place at seven. And Kirk thinks the same
way, too; he tried to hide what he felt, but I know his way of tugging
at his mustache and grinning pleasantly when he is worried; and he was
worried to-day, all right. And I don’t blame him”--with a grin--“for
there are three men in that first squad that wouldn’t last half a mile
in a race with a girls’ school! Oh, yes, I guess old Hope will be
around to see me before long!”

And Taylor pushed his way past the green leather doors of the library
and, finding a book, went busily to work with pad and pencil--for
whatever else might have been said about Roy Taylor, he was at least
diligent at his studies, and stood high in his class.

Dick, followed by Trevor and the rest of the first squad, finished a
mile run over the soft road, and came swinging up to the gymnasium an
hour before supper-time, panting and tuckered, but in a most enjoyable
glow and with appetites that protested strongly against the time that
must elapse ere they could be satisfied. After a shower-bath Dick
and Trevor walked across to Masters together, and, pulling a blanket
over their feet, perched themselves on the broad window-seat in the
lingering glow of the sun, and leaned back luxuriously against the
pillows. Ever since the morning four days previous, when Dick had
looked out to find the Hudson clear of ice, the boys had scorned fires,
and, although the room had a way of getting cold toward evening, they
insisted that spring had come, and that wood fires were a survival of
the dark ages of midwinter. Trevor stretched his arms and yawned, and
the Latin book on his lap fell unheeded to the floor.

“That was something like, to-day,” he said. “It was worth all that work
in the gym, every minute of it. I say, Dick, Kirk looked rather well
satisfied with us, I thought, eh?”

“He looked that way,” answered Dick, “but don’t deceive yourself into
thinking that he felt so. Not a bit of it; he was grumpy clean through;
you could tell that by his grin; he always grins when he’s grumpy;
makes you think of the--thingumbob--what is it that cries when it eats
people?”

“Mouse?” asked Trevor innocently.

“Get out! Crocodile, I mean. That’s Kirk’s way. No, he wasn’t happy
to-day, and I don’t blame him, for, oh, Trevor, my child, Jones fills
Taylor’s place about as well as a wax doll would. And Rankin means
well, but hasn’t got it in him, and Arnold’s just a makeshift, after
all; I thought he was going to prove a good man; and Milton doesn’t
seem to understand what he’s doing half the time.”

“And Nesbitt rows as though he was chopping wood,” laughed Trevor, with
a questioning accent.

“Nesbitt will do, I guess, after he’s been at it a little longer,”
answered Dick. “Hang it all! I rowed like a kid to-day myself! I don’t
know what’s got into me. I wish--by Jove! I honestly do wish that
Taylor or anybody else was captain, Trevor!”

“Rot! What kind of a captain would Taylor make, for goodness’ sake?
Cheer up, my hearty; you’ll feel better after supper.”

“Sha’n’t,” muttered Dick.

“Oh, yes, you will. What you need is some nice cold roast beef, milk
toast, egg muffins, peach marmalade, and a cup of cocoa; with plenty of
mustard.”

“In the cocoa?” grinned Dick.

“Idiot! No, on the beef. That’s right, smile; keep it up; now you’re
feeling better. And something tells me, Dick, that it’s pretty near
time to wash our nice little hands and faces. Say, let’s cut lessons
to-night and go over to the village and see Carl and Stewart, eh?”

And so it was agreed.

Spring vacation came, and for a week partially depopulated the academy,
interfering sadly with crew work. Trevor joined his father in New
York, and Stewart Earle went home; but Dick and Carl stuck to their
posts, Dick on the river and Carl on the baseball diamond, where he
was turning out a nine that was destined to be proudly remembered at
Hillton for many years. Dick found himself in full authority during
the vacation week, for Malcolm Kirk had not as yet taken up his
residence in the village, and with no recitations to attend he was able
to give almost his entire time to rowing affairs. Half of the first
squad were away, but he filled the empty places from the second, put
Crocker temporarily at stroke, and coached the impromptu crew from a
small boat in which he rowed frantically about in efforts to secure
satisfactory points of observation. One rather bleak afternoon he was
in his tub just off the landing as the shell, returning from down the
river, swept abreast of him. He stood up on the thwarts, balancing
himself with an oar, in order to better view the work.

“Seven, you’re rowing light,” he called. “You begin to lower your hands
too early; your blade is half out of water at the finish. Five, you
put your blade too deep.” The shell was passing now, and he raised
his voice and unconsciously leaned forward. “Grip the water with the
blade----”

There was a splash and a cry from the handful of loiterers on the
float; the tub rocked merrily; Dick’s cap floated off down-stream, and
Dick had disappeared from sight.

“Hold hard all!” yelled the cox. Then, “Back all!” But ere the shell
had lost way enough to allow of its being paddled to the rescue, Dick
had reappeared a few yards down-stream, had made hand over hand for his
boat, and was clinging to the side, wiping the water from his face.

“At an angle!” he shouted, continuing his instructions as though no
interruption had occurred, “and then you won’t be likely to ‘slice.’
Take ’em along, Keene; and, Stroke, lengthen out a bit!”

Amid the laughter of the onlookers the shell swept on again up the
river, and Dick crawled over the bow of his tub and put back to the
boat-house for a change of clothing.

But despite his most heroic efforts, neither the first nor second squad
worked well; there appeared to be lack of spirit; a sort of “What’s
the good of anything? Nothing!” feeling seemed to prevail among the
candidates, and the discouragement that had been growing on Dick ever
since Taylor’s resignation now took possession of him wholly. If
Trevor had been there, he told himself, it wouldn’t have been so bad;
he would have had some one to whom to confide his troubles; some one
that would have listened patiently to his groans and growls, and who,
by his unfailing cheerfulness and good nature, would have won him from
his “blues.” He missed Trevor a good deal; in the evenings especially
the study seemed lonesome, and with none to talk to, Dick could gain no
entertainment from books, but gathered his lists and memoranda of crew
men before him and pondered and studied over them until bedtime came
and he crawled between the covers fagged and low-spirited.

In the St. Eustace Academy paper he read glowing accounts of the Blue’s
eight that worried him yet more. Fifty-odd candidates had reported
there for work shortly after the beginning of the new year; a spirit
of enthusiasm reigned over the entire student body; the coach who had
piloted the eight to a victory over Hillton the preceding spring had
again taken hold, and the most encouraging prospect stretched before
the rival school. With a groan he contrasted those conditions with the
conditions which prevailed at Hillton; almost total indifference on the
part of the school at large; a woful deficiency in candidates, both as
to numbers and quality; a financial state which, while robust enough to
supply the absolute necessities of the crews, was too slight to afford
any of the extra expenditures that might in the struggle for success
smooth the path toward victory; and, last of all, but not least,
intestine strife.

On one occasion, heartily wearied of his own company, Dick slammed
the door of Number 16 and plodded over the muddy roads to Carl Gray’s
room in the village. Carl’s welcome was enthusiastic enough, but to
Dick, with his own troubles everlastingly revolving themselves in his
brain, the other lad’s chatter of baseball problems--none of them, Dick
thought, weighty enough to cause a moment’s worry--only bored him;
and he left early and made his way back to Masters and bed envious of
Carl’s good fortune and more down on his luck than before.

Vacation came to an end in the early April days, and Trevor and the
rest of the fellows returned to school, brightened and cheered in mind
and body. Kirk also arrived, bag and baggage, and took up his quarters
in the village, and Dick, with feelings of relief, mentally shoved a
portion of his load of troubles onto the broad shoulders of the head
coach. Trevor viewed Dick’s appearance with alarm.

“What in the name of all that’s silly have you been doing to yourself?”
he demanded. “You look like a brass farthing of an old and rare
vintage! Been ill?”

“No,” answered Dick. And then, acting on a sudden impulse, an
overpowering desire for a confidant, he told Trevor everything; of
Taylor’s desertion and Waters’s; of his fears for crew success; and
finally of Taylor’s demands, ending with: “And I’ve decided to do it;
I’m going to resign the captaincy and give him what he wants; I’m tired
to death of the whole silly business!”

“Oh, don’t talk so sick!” cried Trevor in angry disgust. “You’ll resign
nothing! I--I’d see Taylor at the bottom of the river before I’d come
to terms with him! Give him the captaincy, indeed! Now, you get that
notion out of your head, Dick, or I’ll--I’ll----”

“It’s all well enough for you to talk that way,” grumbled Dick, letting
his discouragement have full sway and gaining not a little comfort
thereby, “but I tell you things have come to a pass where something’s
got to be done! We haven’t any crew; they’re just a boatful of chumps;
they don’t care a fig whether they ever learn to row! And look at the
rest of the fellows! They don’t care, either; they’d just as lief see
Hillton beaten as not!”

“Rot!” ejaculated Trevor. “Of course they care. I’ll own they’re
blooming chilly about it, but it’s because they don’t know what’s
going on. And, look here, Dick, you’ve got no earthly right to resign
from the captaincy for such a reason as that; if the fellows had wanted
Roy Taylor for captain they’d have elected him. But they didn’t; they
wanted you; so they elected you; and, by ginger, you’ve got to carry
the thing through!”

“Much the fellows care!”

“And, look here, now, Dick, honestly, what kind of a fool captain would
Taylor make?”

“As good as I, I dare say. He knows how to row----”

“That’s nothing; that doesn’t always fit a man to boss a lot of other
men; a good captain’s got to know more than just how to row. He’s got
to have grit, and patience, and generalship, and he’s got to be a
fellow that the other fellows will look up to and believe in and obey;
and that’s not Roy Taylor, not by a jugful, my angel child!”

“Well,” began Dick less dolefully.

“Well, don’t you go to doing anything foolish. Cheer up; take a rest;
let the crew go hang for a few days.”

“Can’t do that,” answered Dick. “Wish I could.”

“Well, anyhow, Dick, stop thinking about your troubles, like a good
fellow. And, if you won’t give up this bally resignation idea, why,
promise not to do anything about it for--let me see--for two weeks;
will you?”

And Dick grinned a trifle sheepishly and promised.



CHAPTER XVIII

DICK SURRENDERS


“Stroke side, catch the beginning sharper; the boat rolls down on the
bow oars. Bow side, keep your hands up! That’s better! Steady now, all;
don’t rush forward. Keep your swing long; you’re all rowing too short
in the water!... Every man keep his eyes in the boat. Watch the man in
front of you and follow his movements; make a machine of yourself!...
You’re out of time again! Listen for the rattle of the locks. There
ought to be but one sound, and I can hear at least five. Use your ears,
men!... Stroke, lengthen out, lengthen out; you’re much too short!”

And Malcolm Kirk, standing in the bow of the little naphtha launch
Terrible, took his megaphone from his mouth and motioned to the man in
charge. The Terrible swung around in a short swirl of blue water and
headed down-stream, waiting for the shell to make its long turn above.
Across the sun-kissed wavelets came the sound of the coxswain’s voice:

“Easy all!... Three and Bow, paddle. Stroke and Six, back water!...
Forward!... Are you ready?... Row!” Then down the river came the
boat, looking for all the world like an enormous water-bug, its eight
long legs treading the bosom of the river in unison, or at least in
unison so far as the ordinary observer would have been able to judge,
but not at all satisfactory in that respect to the motionless figure
on the launch. The eight backs bent together and the boat sped past
the Terrible, which instantly _puff-puffed_ impatiently and started in
pursuit, taking up a position off Number Two.

“Stroke, you’re still too short,” began the coach all over again. “Keep
it low and long!... Seven, you bend your arms too soon; swing back with
them perfectly straight; remember, you can’t make them do your work;
hard against the stretcher, now!... That’s a bit better.... Six, you
start your slide too soon; I’ve spoken to you of that often enough. Get
your whole body-weight well onto the stroke before you drive your slide
away.... Sit up, Five! Ram that slide back to the limit!... Four, your
body’s falling out of the boat! Keep your outside leg and hand firm!...
Three, drop your hands more so as to get your oar out of the water
clean.... That’s vastly better!... Two, you’re too slow with your hands
and too quick with your body. Shoot your hands away lively and turn
your inside wrist sharply; then follow with the body more slowly....
Bow, you’re rolling the boat again! Catch the water more sharply!...
Time! Time! Listen for the rattle of the oars in the locks, men;
you’re beastly ragged!... Stroke, you’re rowing light again! Keep your
hands up to the end!”

And so on for another half mile, when the boat was again turned and
brought back to the landing, where the second squad were embarking
under the direction of its coxswain. “Let her run!” cried Keene, and
the first squad lifted their dripping oars from the water and the shell
approached the float silently, easily. “Touch her a bit, Stroke.”
Dick’s oar went back into the water and he paddled gently until the
boat’s head was brought nearer to the landing. “Easy, Stroke. Mind your
oars, bow side!” Then the shell floated alongside, was seized by those
on the float, and the oars were unlocked. “Stroke!... Bow!... Seven!...
Two!... Six!... Three!... Five!... Four!” called the coxswain, and one
by one the crew stepped out. Then the shell was lifted, dripping and
shining from the water, and borne into the house. The second squad had
meanwhile paddled into the stream, and their troubles had begun. Down
the river they went, followed by the inexorable Kirk and the puffing
Terrible.

Dick, weary, out of tune with himself for his sorry work, led the first
squad off on a short run, down the river-path to the campus, across the
golf links, still too soft for good running, and back by Academy Road
toward the gymnasium, to baths and rest. And as he trotted along the
voice of the coach echoed continuously in his ears: “_Stroke, you’re
rowing light again!_” Anger at his own miserable performance in the
boat and an intense loathing for it all seized upon him. Taylor could
have the job, and welcome! He felt a downright hate of the fellows
behind him because they had witnessed his degradation. What could they
think, he asked himself, of a captain who had been cautioned four times
for the same fault in a half-hour’s work? How could they--what had
been Trevor’s words? Look up? Yes--how could they look up to such a
captain? Hang them! What did he care what they thought of him? A pack
of selfish, half-hearted idiots, they were! But in the next moment he
acknowledged that he did care--a good deal. And with that the squad
reached the gymnasium, and Dick pulled himself wearily up the steps. On
the way across the yard later he encountered Keene.

“Hope, Kirk asked me to tell you he’d like to have you go over to his
room this evening after supper if you can. I was on my way to your
room.”

“All right; I’ll go. I say, Keene, what did you think of us to-day?”

One of the coxswain’s virtues was a fondness for plain, direct language
unadorned with verbiage.

“Rotten!” he answered earnestly. Dick nodded, made a pathetic effort
at a smile, and strode on. Keene watched him thoughtfully until he
disappeared into Masters Hall, then he turned and went on his way. “He
won’t last until the race,” he muttered. “Rowed like a farmer to-day,
and looks now as though tired out.”

Directly after supper Dick walked to the village and found Malcolm
Kirk in his room at Hutchins’s boarding-house. He was seated before
an open window, his feet on the sill, puffing voluminously at a brier
pipe. Upon Dick’s advent he greeted him smilingly and pushed forward an
armchair.

“Sit down, Hope. It was very good of you to come over. I might have
done the journeying myself and called on you, but I thought we’d have a
better chance of a talk here in my diggings. Rather an off-day, wasn’t
it?”

“Yes.” Dick relapsed into silence after this monosyllabic reply, and
Kirk occupied himself with his pipe for a moment. Then he faced Dick,
with a return to his usual grave aspect.

“Hope, you’re not looking well. I want you to lay off for a week.
You’re stale; I could see that by your work to-day, and your face tells
as much now. We can’t risk you getting laid up, you know.”

“I feel pretty well,” answered Dick. “But I don’t blame you for
thinking I’m stale after the exhibition I made to-day,” he added
bitterly. “I don’t know what got into me; I rowed like a--like a chump!”

“Well, don’t let that trouble you,” replied Kirk, soothingly. “It’s
bound to happen once in a while; I never saw a crew captain yet that
didn’t go off his work for a bit at some stage in the game; in fact, I
should be rather afraid of one that didn’t; I should think he was like
the Sunday-school books--too good to be true. How’s your appetite?”

“Pretty fair.”

“Sleep well?”

“Not very.”

“Why?”

“Because---- Oh, I suppose it’s because of the wretched state things
are in.”

“Crew, you mean?”

Dick nodded.

“Well, affairs don’t look bright just at present; I’ll acknowledge
that, Hope; in fact, it’s best to own up to the condition and face it
squarely. But that doesn’t mean that there’s anything to be gained by
worrying about it. No, take my advice; do your best, knock off work for
a few days, make up your mind that everything’s going to come out right
in the end, and keep whistling. After all--though I wouldn’t say this
to any one but you--there’s not a particle of disgrace in being beaten,
not a particle. I don’t want you to imagine that I’ve got it into my
head that we’re going to be beaten; for I haven’t; I’ve seen plenty of
more hopeless-looking cases than this right themselves when the time
came. But what I mean is that it’s a poor plan to tell yourself that
defeat is disgraceful; if you believe that you’ll find yourself in a
condition for suicide some day; for every chap, no matter who, has got
to face defeat at some time in his life. And the chap that can take a
drubbing and come up smiling is the one that is going to be happiest
and going to make the most of his life. The only time when defeat
brings disgrace is when you haven’t done your honest best. But I didn’t
ask you over here to listen to a lecture. What do you think of my plan?
Will you lay off a while? To-day’s Friday; suppose we say until a week
from to-morrow?”

“All right,” answered Dick dejectedly. “If you think I’d better;
though, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think there’s any necessity
for it.”

“Of course you don’t; never saw a man who did. But we’ll call it a whim
of mine, if you like. Well, that’s settled. Don’t come near the river;
don’t talk about rowing, and don’t even think of it if you can help it;
take a walk every day, or a run, and do just enough work at the weights
meanwhile to keep your muscles stretchy. Do you think Crocker will be a
good man to put in at stroke while you’re out of it?”

“Yes,” answered Dick. “You know I had him rowing there during vacation;
he did first-rate.”

“All right. I think we’d better pick the first and second crews next
week and send them to training-table. It’s rather earlier than last
year, but then we’re a bit more backward. Now, another thing. That
fellow Jones is no earthly use in Taylor’s position; in the first
place, he’s not varsity stuff; in the second place he can’t row to any
remarkable extent, and there isn’t time to start in and teach him
the rudiments of the art at this late day; in short, he’s out of the
question. And I don’t know of any fellow that I care to try there. Do
you?”

“Not unless it’s Garvier of the second,” answered Dick. “He’s got
the weight and he’s hard-working; he pulls a rather good oar, too;
only--well, I’m afraid he lacks sand.”

Kirk nodded and blew a volume of smoke toward the window.

“I’d thought of Garvier, but your estimate of him is just about mine;
as you say, I don’t think he’s got enough grit for Seven. When you come
down to it Seven needs almost as much hard horse-sense, coolness, and
judgment as does Stroke. In fact, the style of the crew depends more on
him than on Stroke. I believe I’d rather put up with a poor Stroke than
a poor Number 7. No, decidedly Garvier won’t do. How about Crocker?”

“He might do, of course, only I think he’s about where he belongs now,
don’t you, sir?”

“Yes, I suppose so, although---- Well, there seems to be but one thing
to do.”

“What’s that?” asked Dick.

“Get Taylor back. Now wait a moment, Hope. I don’t propose to interfere
with you, not a particle.”

“I hadn’t any such idea,” protested Dick.

“All right. What I propose to do is to go with you to see this contrary
beggar and make one more appeal to him; and if you say now that you’d
rather not ask him again--for I can well understand your having
feeling in the matter--I’ll drop the project and say nothing more about
it; we’ll fight it out without Taylor. On the other hand, if you are
willing to try again and don’t object to my--well, sticking my finger
into your pie, as it were, we’ll go together and have it out with him.
What do you say?”

Dick hesitated, and Kirk, without appearing to do so, eyed him
intently. Kirk, believing that a quarrel existed between the two boys,
imagined that Dick was having a struggle with his vanity. “And,” Kirk
told himself, “I sha’n’t blame him if he refuses.” But Dick didn’t
refuse. Knowing upon what terms Taylor would alone consent to return to
training, he mentally threw back his shoulders and replied:

“I think there may be a chance of Taylor’s having reconsidered. But
I think your request would have more weight, and I’d rather that
you’d ask him. As for your interfering, I hadn’t thought of it; and I
shouldn’t consider it that, sir. If you like we’ll go over and see him
now.”

“A good idea; no time like the present. Where does he room?”

“At Coolidge’s.”

“Coolidge’s? I guess I don’t know that. Is it near here?”

“Well, not very, it’s almost the last house in the village, I guess;
just beyond the Episcopal Church.”

“Oh, I wasn’t thinking of the walk,” returned Kirk. “I was only
wondering if it was an old house I’d forgotten. But I think it must be
new since my day.”

“It is, I guess; looks as though it hadn’t been up more than a few
years.”

Kirk took a walking-stick from a corner, turned down the light, and the
two left the house together and proceeded through the village, past the
Town Hall, the Eagle Tavern, and the church that Dick had mentioned,
until a large square frame house loomed up on their left. Dick led
the way upstairs to Taylor’s room, and found that youth entertaining
Waters and another boy, both of whom, however, took their leave at
once. Taylor greeted Dick easily, and the coach respectfully, but was
quite evidently far from being at his ease. His first thought was that
Dick had confided everything to Kirk, and that there was trouble ahead.
But the coach’s introduction dispelled that illusion, and he breathed
easier.

“Taylor, Hope and I have come to ask your help,” announced Kirk,
smiling but earnest. “To put the matter in few words, we’re in a hard
way for a man at Number 7 in the varsity boat, and we want you to
reconsider your decision and come back.”

It is unnecessary to follow Kirk’s argument; he said practically what
Dick had said on the occasions of his two previous visits, although
he said it all a trifle more forcibly, and with a suggestion of
authority. And when he had finished, Taylor, who seemed greatly
impressed, turned toward Dick.

“I hadn’t thought of it in just that way, sir,” he said, with an
assumption of frankness, “and if Hope wants me to return I’ll do so.”

“Hope’s wishes are the same as mine,” answered Kirk gravely. “I have
acted in the matter only with his full consent.”

But Taylor’s eyes were still on Dick, and he awaited that youth’s
reply. Now that the moment had come to relinquish his honors Dick
experienced a moment of revolt. He well knew what Taylor’s words meant;
he was to be held to the terms of the offer made on his last visit.
It was hardly fair, to be sure, since, with Kirk present, there was
but one reply he could make. But after the first twinge of regret he
was glad that it was so; the matter had been settled for him. He would
resign the captaincy and Taylor should have it; he would still row in
the boat, and, when the success of the crew was at stake, his sacrifice
was but little after all. All this passed through his mind in the
fraction of a second, and it was with but the slightest hesitation that
he met Taylor’s look, and smiled across at him. The smile was prompted
by relief and not by friendship; but this Kirk could not know, and so
was heartily glad to see it; and concluded thereby that the quarrel
between the two lads was at an end.

“Yes,” said Dick, “I want you to come back. I’ve never wanted anything
else.”

“Do you mean that?” questioned Taylor’s eyes.

“I do,” answered Dick’s.

Kirk arose. “That’s settled, then, and I’m very glad. I don’t think
you’ll regret it, Taylor. And I’ll look for you to-morrow afternoon,
shall I?”

“Yes, sir.” He accompanied them down to the door courteously, and bade
them good-night smilingly from the stoop. When the two reached the
street Kirk heaved a sigh of relief.

“That’s over with,” he muttered.

“Yes,” echoed Dick, “it’s over.”

But Taylor didn’t report for crew work on the following afternoon.
Instead, a message came saying that he had fallen while coming out of
chapel, and had sprained his right knee. And Dick, wistfully watching
the distant boat from his window, wondered whether Fate had changed its
mind.



CHAPTER XIX

DEFIES THE LAW


Dick strictly obeyed orders. He kept away from the river and contented
himself with observing the progress of the crews through a pair of
field-glasses from the study as long as the boats were down the river.
When they passed up he went across the hall and called on Williams,
always popping himself down on the window-seat and always remaining
until the first or second boats had once more returned down stream.
Williams informed him dryly that he was honored by his visits, but
not greatly interested in his conversation, which consisted upon such
occasions of monosyllabic replies, usually made with his head half a
yard out the window. As far as not thinking of rowing was concerned, it
was a downright impossibility; but he did try not to talk about it, and
was assisted by Trevor.

“How’d it go to-day?” Dick would ask with elaborate carelessness.

“Don’t know,” Trevor would grunt.

“Do you think Milton did better?”

“Can’t say.”

“I noticed you rowed about thirty-four going up.”

“Did we?”

“Did you? Don’t you know you did? Don’t you know anything?” Dick would
exclaim in disgust.

“Not on that subject, so shut up!”

The varsity and second crews had been picked and sent to training-table
on the Monday following the visit to Taylor. The varsity went to
“Mother” Burke’s, in the village, and the second had a nice, long table
all to themselves in dining-hall. Dick’s chair at the head of the board
was vacant as yet, by request of Kirk, who explained that if Dick was
to keep his mind off rowing affairs the varsity training-table was
no place for him. But that was a long week to Dick, and he yearned
for Saturday to come, even though, as he acknowledged, the enforced
leisure had already benefited him. His color was better, his appetite
was coming back, and he slept a good nine hours every night. But
nevertheless the inactivity was hard to bear, and he thought that never
before had the days lagged so.

The captaincy was still his, for Taylor’s accident had afforded him a
respite. The boy’s knee was in bad shape, Dick learned, and it would be
all of a month before he could be fit to take his place in the boat,
although it had been agreed between him and Kirk that he should report
with the other members of the crew at practice as soon as he was able
to get about; he could at least watch the others at work and keep up
with the march of events. He had sent a note to Dick the day following
his fall.

“Friend Hope,” he wrote, “I guess you had best let that matter wait
until I’m out-of-doors again. This is beastly luck, but we must make
the best of it. Of course you understand that I shall hold you to your
promise, so perhaps you had better work around toward you know what;
kind of pave the way, you know. Send me an answer by Waters or Hayden.”

And Dick had answered “All right.”

The evil day was simply postponed, but meanwhile he would go ahead and
do what he could. Taylor’s agreement had already borne fruit in the
shape of the acquisition to the varsity and second boats of Waters and
two other oarsmen, all three seniors and experienced men. This had
puzzled Kirk not a little, but he decided not to look a gift horse in
the mouth, and so said nothing; merely set the new candidates to work
and thanked his stars.

When Saturday came, and Dick’s period of voluntary probation came to an
end, rowing affairs at Hillton looked far more promising. Waters was
back at five in the varsity boat, and another of Taylor’s disciples,
Whitman, had displaced the unfortunate Arnold at Number 2. Crocker went
back to his place at six, and Dick once more found himself with his
toes in the straps and the stroke oar in his hands, and was greatly
comforted. He rowed in his old form that afternoon, and the rest of the
crew seemed to gather confidence and tone from him. The new material,
despite their lack of training during the first of the season, fitted
well into their places, and the afternoon’s practice was, on the whole,
decidedly encouraging.

The next morning Dick took his place at the head of the varsity
training-table and ate his steak and baked potatoes and eggs with all
the relish in the world, and would have been entirely happy had it
not been for the knowledge that soon, another week at the most, he
must yield his position. It was hard to have performed the difficult
part, to have worked and planned ever since the preceding spring, to
have worried through discouragements and toiled through the grinding
monotony of the preliminary season, only to have to yield the honor to
another when things had at length begun to look hopeful. Well, it might
mean success in the race; and success was what he desired; only--well,
he groaned when he pictured to himself the Crimson crew sweeping over
the line ahead of St. Eustace, and realized that not he, but Roy
Taylor, would come in for the glory that belonged to a victorious crew
captain.

The next evening, Monday, Trevor brought up a copy of The Hilltonian
for May, and Dick read aloud the article on the crew. After a summary
of rowing at Hillton in former years, the article continued: “With
fewer candidates to work with than in any year within memory, and with
a lamentable lack of encouragement from the student body, Coach Kirk
and Captain Hope have succeeded in forming a varsity and a second
crew that compare favorably with any of recent years, and that are
superior in most particulars to the eights of last spring. The return
to the varsity squad of Taylor, S., and Whitman, S., is cause for
congratulations, as both are excellent oarsmen and have had experience,
Taylor in last year’s varsity boat, and Whitman in last year’s second.
The varsity crew as at present made up is as follows: Captain Hope,
Stroke; Jones, No. 7; Crocker, No. 6; Waters, No. 5; Nesbitt, No. 4;
Milton, No. 3; Whitman, No. 2; Shield, Bow. Taylor will displace Jones
at No. 7, it is expected, when he returns to work, which will probably
be within the next fortnight.

“It is not surprising that Coach Kirk has selected these men to make
up the varsity squad, as they are easily the best oarsmen among the
candidates which presented themselves at the commencement of the
season. Four of these men rowed in last year’s varsity, and of the
balance two have had extensive experience in rowing. Coach Kirk says
that the present selection is by no means final, and will be changed
from time to time as he sees fit. Nevertheless, it is probable that the
crew which will row against St. Eustace will be made up practically
as above. Beginning next week Coach Kirk will take the men out two by
two in a pair-oar, following the practice of last year. The varsity
and second squads will have gone to their training-tables by the time
this issue of The Hilltonian is published, and with that hard work
may be said to have begun. Altogether, rowing affairs at Hillton are
in an encouraging condition, and a victory pronounced enough to wipe
out the stigma of last year’s defeat at the hands of our rivals may
be confidently expected. The progress of the crews will be closely
followed by The Hilltonian, and a criticism of the work of the members
will appear in our next issue.”

“I wish I was as certain of that pronounced victory as he is,” said
Dick as he laid the sheet aside.

“Who’s ‘he’?” asked Trevor.

“Singer, I guess; he thinks himself an authority on rowing affairs,
though I doubt if he knows an outrigger from a thwart; but he’s a good
fellow, all the same. Hello, what are you going to do with that?”

Trevor was balancing himself precariously on the head of the couch, and
taking a tennis racket from a nail on the wall.

“Going to get busy with it. Stewart and I are to play a bit to-morrow.
I rather fancy I’ll enter for the tournament in June. I finished rather
well in the singles last spring, you know. Carter, a senior chap, beat
me in the semi-finals, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.”

“I never played the game but once,” answered Dick, “and then I nearly
ran myself to death. It was lots harder than a mile on the track.”

“Yes, I know; a chap always runs too much when he doesn’t know the
game. I like it. There isn’t much chance for golf this year, and so I
fancy I’ll go in for tennis.”

“Well, good luck to you,” replied Dick, “only don’t twist your ankle
or anything like that and have to give up rowing.”

“Don’t you worry,” answered his roommate. He had secured the racket and
was examining the gut critically. “I fancy I’ll need a new one for the
tournament,” he muttered. Securing an old ball he slammed it around
the room for a while, until Dick, laying aside his book, arose in his
wrath and took both ball and racket away from him. After that he walked
disconsolately around the table for several minutes, and at length
settled himself grudgingly to study. Dick had a hard lesson in German
to master, and it was well on toward ten o’clock when he finally put
down his books, yawned, and strolling to the window, pushed aside the
curtains and peered out. Trevor was leisurely undressing in the bedroom
when he heard Dick call to him excitedly.

“Fire, Trevor! Come look, quick!”

Trevor came, trailing his trousers after him by one leg, and leaned out
beside his chum. Just to the right of Warren Hall, in the direction of
the village, shone a ruddy glow, and even as they watched a tongue of
flame made itself visible.

“Where is that?” asked Dick. “It’s too far that way to be the Eagle.”

“Perhaps it’s the Episcopal Church,” answered Trevor, excitedly. “Let’s
go!” He struggled madly with his trousers.

“All right, hurry up,” said Dick. Then, “By Jove, Trevor, I’ll tell you
what it is,” he called.

“What?” yelled Trevor from the bedroom.

“Why, Watson’s stables; they’re just about in that direction, and----”

“_What!_” screamed his chum. “Watson’s stables! Come on! Hurry!” He
dashed toward the door, coatless, hatless, his vest half on.

“Wait for your coat, you idiot!” called Dick. But the other was
clattering down the stairs, and so, seizing his own cap and Trevor’s,
he followed. He caught up with Trevor half-way to the gate. “Here’s
your cap,” he shouted.

“Oh, never mind that,” yelled Trevor. “Hurry up! Think of poor old
Muggins!”

“By Jove!” muttered Dick. “I’d forgotten him!” And he raced after. As
they left the grounds the bell in Academy Building began to ring the
alarm, while from the village other bells had already begun their note
of warning. The fire was hidden from their view now, but a rosy glare
in the sky above the trees and intervening buildings told them that it
still raged. Opposite the post-office they overtook a group of men.
“Know where it is?” asked Trevor. But they didn’t, and the two boys
sped on, soon leaving them behind. But when they turned to pass the
Town Hall Trevor gave a cry of joy:

“It isn’t the stables! It isn’t the stables, Dick!” And he was right;
the fire was beyond them and more to the left. “By Jove,” he went on,
“I believe it’s the church after all, or else---- What’s beyond that?”

“Beyond the church?” panted Dick. “Why, I don’t know; nothing except
Coolidge’s, I guess. Do you suppose it’s that?”

“Must be,” answered Trevor. And then they turned aside as the volunteer
fire department, with a rabble of curious men and boys following,
rattled by. And now they could see plainly the squat tower of the
Episcopal Church standing out boldly against the yellow glare.

“It _is_ Coolidge’s!” cried Dick and Trevor in a breath, and ran yet
faster. When they reached the great, square boarding-house they found
it surrounded by a crowd of persons, many of them Hillton boys who
lived in the village. The frame building was burning merrily, and
the flames had advanced to such a stage that it appeared doubtful
if the firemen could do much. But two lines of hose were stretched
and the pumps were manned, and the volunteer department attacked the
enemy valiantly. The entire right corner of the house was ablaze from
cellar to mansard roof, the flames having gained undisputed sway of
the three big rooms there. The hall, as the boys could see from their
position near the front gate, was black with smoke which poured out
the open doorway in stifling volumes. Two men suddenly emerged from
it, staggering under the weight of a long couch which they released to
ready helpers in the yard. But when they started again for the doorway
they were stopped by a man whom the two boys recognized as the town
marshal.

“Can’t let you go in again, Mr. Coolidge,” they heard him say. “Too
risky.” And he was deaf to the expostulations of the salvagers. As the
firemen took the first hose into the house the flames for a moment
lighted up the hall, throwing the narrow staircase into relief. The
marshal pointed, and the two men apparently recognized the force of his
objections, for they turned back and hurriedly set about getting the
goods with which the yard was strewn into places of safety.

“I wonder how they got Taylor out with his sprained knee,” said Dick to
Trevor.

“Carried him, I fancy. I wonder where he is.” One of the lads who had
roomed in the doomed building, and who was watching the conflagration
with sentiments divided between regret for his lost chattels and joy
in the brilliant spectacle, caught Trevor’s eye. “I say, Simpson,” he
called, “what did they do with Taylor?” But Simpson shook his head
doubtfully.

“I don’t know; guess they took him across to Cupples’s. I didn’t see
him at all.” A terrible fear gripped Dick’s heart. It showed in his
face, for Trevor gasped and looked about at a loss.

“But they _must_ have got him out, Dick,” he cried. “Wait, I’ll ask.”
He darted toward the crowd in the yard. Dick followed. Mr. Coolidge,
trembling with excitement and his recent exertions, stood mopping his
forehead just inside the gate, and recounting for the fifth time the
story of the fire’s origin. To him came Trevor.

“Taylor, sir?” he asked in tones that trembled despite that he told
himself over and over that it was all right; that Taylor must surely
have been rescued. “Roy Taylor, Mr. Coolidge? Did he---- Where was he
taken, sir?”

“Taylor?” faltered the boarding-house keeper. “Why--I--I---- Who saw
that Taylor boy?” he shouted, turning to the group about him. The
chatter ceased, and a silence fell that chilled Trevor and Dick to the
heart. None answered for a moment. At last:

“He got out, didn’t he, George?” shrieked a woman’s voice, shrill-toned
and hysterical. “You know he got out, don’t you?”

But Coolidge only shook his head, his face growing ashen. “I--I don’t
know! I asked the boys; they said every one was out; you were here, and
Sarah, and----” A murmur of horror arose and grew. Dick, pale-faced and
sick at heart, stared at the burning building. Suddenly in the street
voices broke into exclamations of horror; there was a pushing here and
there; Dick turned and heard a cry: “Where are the firemen? They can
save him!” The next instant Carl Gray, white-faced and breathless,
broke through the gate.

“There’s some one in that room back there! I saw a face at the window!
I--it looked like Roy Taylor. Dick, is that you? What shall we do?”
Carl seized him by the arms, staring miserably into his eyes, his hands
trembling. For a moment Dick stared back at him. Then, throwing off his
hands, he turned and without a word dashed toward the front door.

“Dick! _Dick!_” shrieked Trevor. “Come back, you fool!” He sped after
his chum toward the house. “You can’t do it, Dick!” But Dick paid no
heed; it is doubtful if he heard. Just before the porch stood the
marshal with warning hand outstretched.

“Here, get back there! You can’t go in.” Dick tried to rush by, but the
officer seized him and held him firmly. Trevor came up panting. Dick
viewed the marshal with angry eyes.

“Let me go!” he said fiercely. “There’s a boy upstairs! He’ll be burned
up, you fool!”

“A boy up there?” repeated the marshal doubtingly. “How do you know?”
He eased his grip on Dick’s shoulder. Like a flash the latter shook off
the hand, seized the astounded officer about the neck, and with a quick
jerk sent him sprawling, face down, on the gravel path. “Tell them to
put up ladders!” he shouted to Trevor, and with a bound was up the
steps and had entered the doorway.

“Dick! Dick, come back!” shrieked Trevor. Through the murk of smoke
the edge of the staircase was outlined in writhing flames, and for an
instant Trevor caught sight of Dick half-way up it. With a sob Trevor
leaped toward the porch. But a strong hand seized him and brought him
tumbling back to the ground.

“One of you’ll do,” said the marshal’s voice in his ear. “No use in
your both being burned up.”

“But he’ll be killed!” cried Trevor, striking out savagely at his
captor. “Let me go, you--you brute! Can’t you understand? Dick will be
killed!” But he was forced, struggling, gasping, sobbing, down the walk.

“Barnes!” bellowed the marshal’s voice, “there’s a boy up there. This
youngster will tell you about it. Get your ladder quick!”



CHAPTER XX

AND EXTORTS A PROMISE


The heat was awful. At the turn in the staircase Dick faltered and
leaned against the wall. His eyes were smarting with the acrid smoke;
he could scarcely breathe. Below him the door of the first-floor room
to the left was crackling savagely, the flames showing strangely red
through the eddying, rolling banks of smoke. Above him the stairs were
outlined with tiny tongues of fire or crimson patches of smoldering
woodwork, and beyond all was dark, foul with the fumes which had poured
up from the floor below. The stairs under his feet grew hot, and the
wall against which he leaned a hand was like a pave on which a summer
sun has beaten for hours.

His first thought had been to find a fireman and lead him to Taylor’s
room, which was on the back of the house, next to that in which the
fire was eating rapidly from below. But as yet he had seen no one. From
the first floor came dull blows of axes tearing into the timbers and
plaster. Should he go down again and summon help? But no, for scarce
a dozen steps intervened between him and the door of Taylor’s room.
If the ladders were being brought to the window his task would prove
simple, and might be finished ere assistance could be found. And even
as he hesitated there, striving to protect his aching eyes with one
arm, the matter was decided for him. With a sound like that of a mighty
wave breaking upon a pebble-strewn beach the fire broke through the
door below, crumpling it up like a sheet of metal foil and hurling it
upward in a blast of flaring cinders. Great tongues of flame burst
forth into the hallway as from the mouth of a giant furnace, and as
he looked the stairs behind him caught like tinder, and a breath,
scorching, suffocating, rushed up, seeming to take him bodily from his
feet and hurl him upon the smoking steps above.

With a gasp, he struggled to his feet and fought blindly up the
remaining stairs. His escape by the front of the house was cut off. And
then for the first time the possibility of finding Taylor’s door locked
from within faced him. If it should be so then his work was all in
vain, for he had no hope of being able to force the lock there in that
deadening swirl of smoke. From the head of the stairs to the door of
the room occupied by Taylor was but a half dozen feet, but Dick, with
his sleeve pressed against his mouth and his eyes fast closed, won it
only after what seemed ages, though from the moment he had entered the
house until his groping fingers closed on the knob but a scant minute
had passed. Half sick with the fear that he would find the door fast,
he hesitated a second; and then, with a stifled sob, turned the handle.

The door opened, a flood of cooler air met him, and in a moment he had
staggered inside and had closed the door again. At first he could see
nothing, for the room was in darkness save for the little light that
found its way through the window on the side of the house, and his
streaming eyes hurt him terribly. He took a dozen deep inhalations of
the air, which, while heavy with the fumes from the adjoining room, was
pure indeed compared with that scorching, smarting breath without. Then
he raised his voice.

“Taylor!” he called, and then louder, “Taylor! Taylor!”

There was no sound save the roar of the fire, the subdued noise of the
shouting crowd in the street, and now and then the crash of a falling
timber. He peered rapidly about him, striving in the strange ruddy
half-light that rose and fell over the room to descry the object of his
search. There was the bed and here, nearer at hand, the square table;
beyond that was the armchair. Perhaps---- He crossed the room quickly
toward it, stumbled over some obstruction, and fell to his knees on the
carpet. With a leaping heart he turned. There was a crash of falling
woodwork outside, and for an instant the room was bright with the light
of the flames. And in that instant he saw that he was bending over the
outstretched body of Roy Taylor, lying face down by the table, one arm
curved under the head, the other stretched forth with fingers that
clutched blindly in the darkness.

“Taylor!” Dick stooped and raised the apparently lifeless body into a
sitting posture. “Taylor!” he cried again, a dreadful fear clutching at
his heart. To his joy the form stirred and a groan reached his ears.

“Taylor! Brace up! You’re all right; do you hear me?”

A muttered word, low, indistinguishable, answered his appeal. He looked
toward the half-opened window. Surely the ladders would be there in a
moment! The smoke poured through under the door and wherever there was
a crevice, and momentarily increased in volume. Dick’s eyes and lungs
again gave the alarm. He shook Taylor with a sudden impulse of terror.

“Wake up, you fool!” he cried. “Get on your feet, or I’ll leave you
here! Do you hear? I’ll leave you alone if you don’t wake up!”

Suddenly an arm clutched itself about his shoulders and he knew that
Taylor heard him. Then, “Save me!” cried a voice weak and hoarse from
terror. “Get me out, oh, get me out! Don’t leave me!”

“Well, keep awake, do you hear? Can you walk?” There was no answer,
but Dick could feel the other’s body shaking with sobs. “Cut that
out!” he said savagely. “Brace up, man. Try to crawl to the window.
I’ll help you. Let go my arm, hang you! Let go, do you hear?” With
strong fingers he broke the detaining clutch and half lifted the other
to his feet. “Come on; get to the window; they’re bringing ladders!”
But Taylor, weakened by his long period in bed, unmanned by his awful
experience alone and well-nigh helpless in the burning house, was
incapable of standing. With a rush of pity, Dick let him slide toward
the floor, until by stooping and moving backward he could pull him
by the shoulders across the room. There was no time to consider the
injured knee. The room was filled with smoke; the heat was becoming
intolerable; in the hall just outside the door the flames were
crackling noisily, and to the left the plaster was breaking and falling
under the heat of the fire in the adjoining apartment. At the window
Dick propped Taylor against the wall and threw up the sash. Outside all
was light as day toward the front of the house. He could see figures
moving to and fro, could hear the cries of the fire-fighters, but no
ladders were in sight. Below the lawn was some twenty feet distant. He
could drop if he had to with some hope of escaping anything worse than
a bad jar. But Taylor?

Suddenly, as he leaned there with the cool night air driving by him, he
asked himself why he should have risked his life for Roy Taylor. Why
continue to risk it? Of all fellows in the school Taylor was the last
to deserve consideration, much less sacrifice, from him. He would wait
as long as he could without endangering his life, he told himself, and
then he’d drop from the window. And Taylor? Taylor was nothing to him;
he deserved no help from him; he had injured him all that he could.
Taylor must look to himself!

And yet as the thoughts rushed through his mind, he knew deep down
somewhere within him that they were all wrong, and knew that though
the ladders never came he would not leave the youth that sat shaking,
terrified beside him.

“But they must come!” he muttered. And leaning out he called at the top
of his voice for help. And then, around the corner of the house, from
the back, rushed two figures and stared upward at him. They waved their
hands excitedly.

“Keep up! The ladder’s coming! Can you hold out a minute?”

“Yes,” cried Dick.

Perhaps the first temptation, as feeble as it had proved, had paved the
way and weakened his conscience for that which now assailed him.

“At least make him pay for it!” whispered a voice. “It is worth
anything you can ask. Remember how he has injured you. Make your
bargain!”

He turned suddenly toward the lolling figure.

“Taylor, do you hear me?”

“Yes,” came the answer, weak and trembling.

“Do you know who I am?” There was no reply.

“I’m Hope!”

An instance of silence followed. Then, “Hope!” came a whisper, low,
incredulous.

“Yes. Listen. I can save you if--if I want to. Are you listening?”
Outside were many voices on the lawn under the casement.

“Yes, yes. Save me, Hope, save me!”

“I will on one condition,” whispered Dick hoarsely, hating himself,
despising himself from the bottom of his heart, yet hurrying on with
his words. “The bargain you made is done with; do you understand? I’ll
not give up the captaincy, Taylor, but you must promise to come back as
you said you would, and help all you know how. You must promise this,
and you must keep your promise!”

A ladder scraped against the boards outside, rattled once, and was
still. A voice called: “Hurry! He was there a moment ago; we saw him!
He can’t be far away! Look, the fire’s got through!” And as the words
reached him Dick heard the sound of falling mortar, of crackling
woodwork, and a great glare smote his eyes and an awful heat surged
toward him, making him stagger and gasp for breath. The wall dividing
the room from the front apartment was at last conquered, and the
flames leaped through the breach, writhing, eager for their prey. For
a moment terror seized Dick, and he could only stare in horror toward
the groping tongues that scorched his face and dried the breath in his
nostrils. Then, stooping quickly, he lifted Taylor’s body to the sill.

“Your promise!” he cried. “Quick!”

“Yes, yes! For God’s sake, Hope! Anything! Oh, it’s too late, too late!”

The ravening flames poured toward them, clutching at them with greedy
arms. A form darkened the window and a voice cried:

“Lift him out! Easy! That’s right; can you get down?”

“I--I think so,” muttered Dick, fighting down the desire to let himself
go and fall in a heap across the sill.

“Get onto the ladder, quick, and stay there! I’ll get you out of here
in a second. Here, Gus, take this chap; I guess he’s fainted.” The
fireman lowered himself down a few rungs, clutching Taylor’s limp form,
and Dick squirmed unsteadily onto the ladder. There he held tightly and
closed his eyes. The room was red with roaring, seething flames, but
to him it seemed all a vast darkness. From below--or was it not rather
from miles away?--came a long cheer; died away; increased again. And
then Dick felt arms about him.

“Keep your head now, sir, and put your arms around my neck.” Dick
obeyed as in a dream. He felt himself descending--down--down--down----

And then his head fell forward and he fainted.

When he opened his eyes he found himself lying on the grass across the
village street. The world was very strange, crimson and yellow, and the
trees threw great wavering shadows against the sky above. Some one was
holding something to his lips, and he drank because that seemed the
natural thing to do. Then a recollection of it all came back, and he
tried to sit up.

“Lie still,” said a voice. Dick looked. It was Malcolm Kirk. And beside
him was Trevor, looking absurdly like a red Indian in the queer light.
And there was Professor Longworth, and somebody he didn’t know, and,
oh, lots of other persons! It was really very silly for them to all
stand around like that, and----

“Where’s Taylor?” he asked suddenly in a voice that caused him to
wonder whether it was really his, so weak and husky was it.

“Taylor’s all right,” answered Kirk cheerfully. “They’ve taken him to
Hamment’s. How do you feel now?”

“Kind of funny; I guess I’m sleepy; I guess I’ll go home.”

“You’re going in a minute; they’re bringing a carriage.”

Dick started up wildly, clutching at Kirk’s arm.

“Is--is anything wrong with me?” he whispered hoarsely. “Have I broken
my leg, or--or anything?”

“No, certainly not. Only you’re rather weak, you know. We’re going to
take you back in a carriage so you won’t have to walk.”

“Oh.” He sank back again. Then he whispered: “I can’t have anything
the matter with me, you know, because there’s the crew, you see. We
have to think of that.”

“Certainly,” answered Kirk very, very gravely, “there’s the crew. And
here’s the carriage. And to prove to you that you’re all right I’ll let
you walk over to it. Bear a hand, Nesbitt.”

Dick was raised to his feet, and to his great relief found that he
could walk well enough, if a trifle unsteadily, and so reached the
carriage and sank into the seat. Trevor took his place beside him, and
Kirk sat by the driver, and they whirled away. Back of them the flames
were still leaping heavenward, flooding the sky with a crimson radiance
as they entered the academy gate.

“Are you all right?” whispered Trevor.

“Yes, I guess so; kind of tired. I was a silly chump to go and faint
that way.”

“Rot!” answered Trevor vehemently. “You--you’re a blooming hero, Dick,
that’s what you are!”

And for reply Dick only shut his eyes and leaned away from his chum.



CHAPTER XXI

A DISAPPOINTING HERO


Dick was a hero. Every one said so; and “every one” certainly ought to
have known. His advent at chapel the morning following the fire was
the signal for an outburst of applause, a token of approval the like
of which had not occurred at Hillton since that far-famed half-back,
Joel March, was a student there and had rescued a lad from drowning in
the river. Yes, Dick was a hero. Professor Wheeler sent for him and
said all kinds of nice things, and the resident instructor, Professor
Tompkins, waylaid him in the lower hall of Masters and beamed on him
over his glasses, and other members of the Faculty shook hands with
him warmly and quoted appropriate things in Greek and Latin, and the
students played the part of a monotonous chorus and whispered when he
passed.

But if Dick was a hero, his conception of the role was all wrong,
judged by the accepted standard. Instead of wearing an expression of
modest pride, instead of receiving the tributes of an admiring public
with blushes and murmured expostulations as, of course, every hero has
done since the time of Adam, he mooned around out-of-the-way corners
like a bear with a sore head, while his most gracious response to the
admiring public was a muttered “Oh, dry up, will you?” delivered in
something between a growl and a groan.

“You’re absolutely the most disappointing hero I ever heard of!” said
Trevor in disgust. “Why, if I’d done a thing like that I’d be strutting
around the yard with my head back and my thumbs in my waistcoat
pockets! A chap would think you were grouchy about it!” Whereupon Dick
turned angrily:

“Trevor, if you don’t shut up I’ll pound you good and hard! Now, I mean
what I say!”

“Some are born to greatness,” murmured Trevor, “some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them--and are exceeding wroth. I
have spoken!” And having spoken, he bolted out the door a fraction
of a second ahead of a German dictionary thrown with much vigor and
precision.

But, despite Dick’s displeasure, there was both truth and justice
in Trevor’s charge. Dick was disappointing. And the school at large
marveled, and finding that their admiration for the plucky rescue was
not wanted, thereafter refrained from further mention of the matter in
Dick’s presence. And that youth kept to his room a good deal, where,
instead of delving in his books, he sat glowering into space, or walked
restlessly around like a caged lion. He became extremely taciturn, and
even rowing affairs failed to arouse any but the most indifferent
replies. Trevor wondered and grew alarmed.

By the burning of Coolidge’s house--due to the upsetting and subsequent
explosion of a patent non-explosive lamp--seven boys found themselves
homeless and less about everything save the scanty wardrobes in which
they had made their escapes. Coolidge’s was a mere pile of ashes and
charred timbers. For the family charity was unnecessary, since the
house and contents had been well insured, but for the boys who had lost
almost everything a scheme was speedily set on foot. A meeting was
held in Society House, and the president of the senior class, Wallace
Osgood, made a stirring address, which every one applauded, and then
asked for suggestions as to a means of raising money to reimburse, to
some extent at least, the victims of the fire. There was no response
until Malcolm Kirk, who, with several members of the Faculty, presided
on the stage, moved that an amateur performance, the exact character
of which was to be later decided upon, be given in the Town Hall.
He was sure, he said, that there was enough talent in the school to
afford an interesting program, and believed that enough tickets could
be sold at the academy and in the village to more than fill the hall.
The plan met with instant favor; Professor Wheeler indorsed it, and
moved that Mr. Kirk be asked to assume charge of it; Mr. Kirk assented
and moved, in turn, that committees to work with him be appointed from
the four classes; the classes made their appointments on the spot; a
Saturday night some two weeks distant was chosen as the date of the
entertainment, and the meeting broke up with great enthusiasm.

Boys hurried to their rooms, and brought down dusty banjos, guitars,
and mandolins, and for nights afterward the dormitories were made
hideous with chromatic scales and strange, weird chords. Dick found
himself one of the senior committee, and throwing aside some of his
lethargy worked busily with the rest. The first meeting of the joint
committee of arrangements was held in Kirk’s room the following
evening, and he outlined his plan. There was not, he thought,
sufficient time before the date agreed upon in which to find performers
for and rehearse anything in the way of a play. Instead, he would
suggest that scenes from some well-known book be presented, each
carrying only enough dialogue to make themselves clear. For instance,
there was Tom Brown at Rugby; that afforded numerous opportunities
for interesting stage pictures; there was Tom’s leave-taking with his
father at the inn, in which the father’s excellent advice would, he
thought, appeal to the risibilities of the audience. And then there
was the fight with “Slogger” Williams, the hazing scene before the
fireplace, and so on through the book. For the first part of the
entertainment he suggested that the musical talent of the school could
be levied upon; some of the fellows could undoubtedly sing; many
could perform on some instrument or other; perhaps some could give
recitations; and no doubt the band would do its share. For a further
attraction, to constitute a third part of the program, Kirk suggested
a series of representations of various sports, each to be pictured
by a single person in appropriate costume--as Football, Baseball,
Bowing, Lacrosse, Cricket, Hockey, Basketball, Skating, Tobogganing,
Snow-shoeing, Tennis, and so on, all to be grouped together on the
stage afterward for a final tableau.

The plan was adopted, and for the next two weeks every one was very
busy, Kirk and Dick especially, since rowing affairs claimed more and
more of their attention every day. May had brought fine, clear weather
and sunny skies, under which it was a pleasure to work. The little
chilling breezes that had been ruffling the blue waters of the Hudson
had crept away in the track of winter, and the valley was green with
fresh verdure and warm with the spring sunshine. Each day brought fresh
hope to those who were interested in the success of the crew. The eight
members of the varsity worked together with something approaching
accord, and even Taylor’s continued absence from the boat was no
longer a reason for constant dismay; for Jones, by dint of eternal
vigilance and much tongue-lashing, had at last made of himself a fairly
acceptable Number 7. Taylor was still laid up, for the fire and his
efforts to fight his way from the building before Dick’s arrival had
set back his recovery at least a fortnight.

Many times Waters had brought word to Dick that Taylor had asked to
see him, and Dick had as many times answered that he would go over to
Waters’s room as soon as he found time. But he took good care never to
allow himself opportunity. Trevor told him he was a brute. Dick growled.

On the Saturday afternoon preceding the entertainment the varsity and
second crews met for their first tussle on the water, and the result
was surprising even to the varsity. The two boats raced from the
down-stream end of Long Isle up the river for a half mile, and the
varsity’s victory was too decisive to allow of its being explained by
crediting the second with unusually slow work. In fact, even the second
made favorable time for the course, while the varsity, which finished
twelve lengths to the good, came within a few seconds of equaling the
best record. But this was a fact known only to Kirk, Dick, and Keene,
for the former pointed out dryly that it wouldn’t do them any harm if
their rivals at Marshall continued to believe them in poor shape. “It
may lead to overconfidence on St. Eustace’s part,” said Kirk, “and
overconfidence is usually a winning card--for the other side.”

But, despite the brightening prospects, Dick was not happy. In fact,
he didn’t remember of ever having been so utterly miserable and out
of humor with himself. He didn’t pretend to misunderstand the cause;
he was, he told himself savagely, at least honest with Dick Hope, no
matter how much of a scoundrel he was in reality. He knew that if he
went to Roy Taylor like a man and absolved him from the promise so
villainously extorted, he would, in a measure at least, recover his
self-respect. He tried at first to justify his conduct to himself by
craftily pointing out the fact that he had used Taylor’s own weapons;
that if Taylor had not acted like a thief there would have been no
call for Dick to act like one; and that, when the matter was observed
dispassionately, he had only taken advantage of his opportunity to work
for the good of the crew and the school. But the pose of disinterested
public benefactor didn’t satisfy him, and, although he ground his teeth
and knit his brows and doggedly determined to hold on to the vantage
he had gained, he was not happy, but, on the contrary, loathed himself
heartily, hated Trevor because that youth insisted upon thinking him a
high-minded hero, detested Taylor because the latter was primarily to
blame for it all, and lost his appetite, didn’t half know his lessons,
and was, in short, at odds with the whole world.

And then came the night of the benefit performance in the Town Hall.
St. Eustace had subscribed for fifty tickets at a dollar apiece, and
had then returned them to the committee to be resold. As a result
of this, and of the activity of the class ticket-sellers, the hall
on the night of the entertainment was altogether too small for the
purpose. The villagers had responded generously to the appeal, and
had bought seats until it had begun to look as though there would be
no places left for the students. But every one in the end managed to
squeeze in somehow; and as every member of the audience, whether he
saw the performance from a comfortable seat in the front of the hall
or only caught an occasional glimpse of it from behind a wall of less
fortunate persons, paid a dollar for the privilege; and as the expenses
were almost nil, the exchequer when the curtain went up held the very
satisfactory total of $354, a fraction over $50 for each of the fire
victims.

There is not space enough here to do justice to the excellency of
the program. It will serve to say that some twenty boys sang, played
on a marvelous variety of instruments, from accordion to piano, and
recited. Williams gave operatic selections on a zither, and for encore
rendered Way Down Upon the Suwanee River; a youth named Billings sang
Massa’s in the Cold, Cold Ground, not so much because it was intensely
musical as because it was about the only thing that accommodated itself
to his voice; Todd sat down in a straight-backed chair at the front
of the stage and did all kinds of stunts on a banjo, which pleased
his audience vastly; Osgood sang The New Bully in a manner that sent
the younger boys into spasms of laughter; Trevor, attired in hastily
improvised costume, sang a number of coster songs in a sweet tenor,
and gained much applause; Jones recited the tragic termination of the
baseball career of one named Casey; and so it went. And when Part First
had come to an end the stage was set for the first of the Scenes from
Tom Brown at Rugby, and it fell to Dick, as his contribution to the
evening’s entertainment, to go before the curtain and explain what
was to follow. His appearance was greeted with the heartiest applause
that had thus far fallen to the lot of any. The audience was in good
humor, Dick was a hero, and here was an opportunity to show approval
of the gallant rescuer. The boys cheered, the villagers clapped and
stamped applause, the less polite members of the community that
fringed the gathering yelled vociferously, and Dick--well, he did a
most unaccountable thing: he grew pale, faltered, and even turned
toward the wing as though meditating escape. “Such modesty!” breathed
a kind-hearted lady in the second row. But after the first impulse
toward flight Dick waited for silence, white-faced, unsmiling, and when
it came made his speech calmly, in well-modulated but unenthusiastic
voice, bowing himself off finally under a second bombardment of
applause. Then the curtain arose on Tom Brown and his father in the
tap-room of the inn. Mr. Brown, Sr., impersonated by Crocker of the
varsity crew, was a hale and hearty country squire in wig, long coat,
and top-boots; while a small junior, in ridiculous long trousers and
chimney-pot hat, made up excellently as a rather nervous Tom. Crocker
delivered his speech of advice in a manner that captured the audience,
Boots appeared at the door to announce that the stage-coach was waiting
and the curtain descended amid applause.

Dick, however, saw nothing of this. Having gained the wings he seized
his hat from a chair, and, unobserved, made his way out of the door
into the rear hall, clattered down the stairs and into the darkness.
From the brightly lighted building came the sound of clapping hands
and laughter; ahead the village street stretched in semidarkness. A
yellow gaslight flared at each corner of the little triangle known as
The Park. Dick almost ran. As he passed Watson’s stables a challenging
bark told him that Muggins had heard his footsteps. On the next corner
stood Bradford’s boarding-house. Dick found the front door unlocked,
and after a moment’s hesitation climbed the stairs. On the landing
above five portals confronted him, but from under only one of them did
any light shine. He knocked. A voice bade him enter. Obeying, he found
himself in a long, low-studded room, handsomely, almost luxuriously
furnished. On a broad couch under the strong light of a big bronze
lamp, a book in his hand and his listless eyes turned inquiringly
toward the door, lay Roy Taylor.



CHAPTER XXII

TAYLOR ACCEPTS DEFEAT


“Hello, Hope!”

Taylor raised himself and stared wonderingly at the visitor. His pale
cheeks flushed and an unaccustomed embarrassment seized upon him. “Sit
down,” he continued. “I--I’d given up looking for you.”

Dick tossed his cap on the table, and drew a chair to a position
near the couch. His face, too, was pale, but there was no sign of
embarrassment visible; only a strong determination was indicated by the
little creases in his forehead and the sudden squaring of his jaw. He
launched into the subject of his visit abruptly.

“I came over because I’m sick of this business, Taylor. Look here, I
acted like a brute and a contemptible cad the other night; I knew it
then; I don’t know what got into me. I’ve tried to stick it out, but
it’s no good.”

Taylor was gazing at him with a puzzled frown.

“I ask your pardon, Taylor, for taking advantage of you--of your
position that night, and I want you to say that you forgive me. The
promise you made--rather, the promise I forced from you--doesn’t hold.
I’m going to resign the captaincy to-morrow, and it’s yours as soon as
you want it, as far as I’m concerned.” He paused and looked intently
at Taylor. The latter gave a little embarrassed laugh, and dropped his
eyes to the book beside him.

“I think you’re talking a good deal of nonsense, Hope,” he answered
finally. “But if you want me to say that I forgive you, why, that’s all
right. I can’t see that there’s anything to forgive. You simply turned
the tables on me when you had the chance; you’d been a silly ass if you
hadn’t. And, anyhow, I don’t see that there is anything to forgive when
a chap saves your life. It may sound rather funny for me to be thanking
you and all that, after we’ve been rowing as we have, and maybe you
don’t want my thanks, but, of course, I’m--I’m awfully grateful. It was
a jolly brave thing to do, though I don’t pretend to know why you did
it. I thought until a minute ago that--that you’d seen your chance of
turning the tables and took advantage of it, but----”

“You mean you thought I started to get you out simply so that I could
bully you into releasing me from my promise?” asked Dick, with a
tremble in his voice.

Taylor glanced up hurriedly, dropped his gaze again, and went on
quickly.

“Well, that was natural, wasn’t it? But I see now that it wasn’t so.
Anyway, I’m awfully much obliged to you. I told Waters to ask you to
come and see me half a dozen times; I wanted to say this before; but I
guess you didn’t care to see me.”

“I was pretty busy,” muttered Dick.

“Oh, I don’t blame you. I dare say I wouldn’t have come if I’d been
in your place. After what I’ve been up to, you know. But that--well,
that’s over with now.”

“Yes,” answered Dick, “that’s done with. We won’t say any more about
it; just forget it; goodness knows, I don’t want to remember it. It
made me act like a regular beast; I’ve been hating myself ever since;
I’ve been ashamed to look any one in the face! After all, it’s only the
success of the boat I want, Taylor, and I believe you’ll work for that.
If I thought you wouldn’t----” He paused and looked at the other with
an ugly glint in his eyes. “But I think you will. When can you take
hold?”

“You’re making a mistake, Hope,” answered Taylor, with the suggestion
of his old mocking smile visible. “I’ve had lots of time for thinking
things over lately. Lying here like this a chap has to think a good
deal. Well, I said it was all over with. What I meant was my captaincy
scheme. I’m beaten; I’ll acknowledge it; not beaten altogether by you,
though, Hope. Luck or Fate or something had a hand in it. You and I
don’t look at things in just the same way; I know you wouldn’t have
done what I’ve done to get a dozen captaincies; I dare say there’s
something in the way you’re brought up. I sort of brought myself up,
you know. I rather imagine having a mother and father and living
with, them makes a difference; I never had either--that is, since I
can remember. But you don’t care about all that, I guess. I wanted the
captaincy, and I set out to get it, using whatever means I could find.
It wasn’t square; I’ll acknowledge that. I never tried to make myself
believe that it was. I’d managed to get what I was after, it seemed,
when luck, or--well, whatever you like to call it--cut in. Then I had
that fall. I suspected then that it was all up. I dare say I’m a little
superstitious. When the fire came and you turned up in the nick of time
I knew that luck was against me. I expected you to make that bargain,
Hope; you see, it was just what I’d have done in your place. When I
got to the window I thought for a minute that you’d lose your chance;
I was calling you a fool; and all the time I was scared blue. I don’t
believe I’m more of a coward than the next chap, but that five minutes
or five years before you came was awful!” He stopped and a shudder
passed over him. “Well, you seized your chance. You say now that that
promise doesn’t hold, but it does hold. Oh, yes, it holds good and fast
for all time, Hope.”

“It doesn’t!” cried Dick. “I won’t have it!”

“But it does,” replied Taylor calmly. “And even if it didn’t, it
wouldn’t make any difference about the captaincy. I may be built
somewhat different from you, but I’ve got some principles. They may be
queer ones, but I won’t fight a fellow that has saved my life. That
settles it. I’ll stick to that promise, just as you would have stuck
to yours. I’ll go back to work on the crew just as soon as the doctor
lets me, which will likely be next week, and I’ll do my level best.”

Taylor lay back on the cushions looking rather tired and pale, and
Dick got up and wandered restlessly about the room for a minute. It
was all so different from what he had looked forward to that he found
himself incapable of deciding whether the course Taylor insisted upon
was right or wrong. It was so easy that it somehow appeared as though
it must be wrong. He was to keep the captaincy, Taylor was to return
to the boat, the whole episode was to be closed; in short, he was to
reap the benefit of his dishonest deed without suffering punishment.
Although, he reflected the next moment, perhaps he had been suffering
the punishment the last two weeks!

“But just the same,” he said aloud, “it doesn’t seem right.”

“That’s your New England conscience,” mocked Taylor. “You think that
because a thing didn’t break your back in the doing it can’t be
anything but an invention of the devil’s. I may have an easier morality
than you, Hope; but, thank Heaven, I wasn’t born in New England!”

Dick stared at him.

“But, see here, Taylor, if I agree to this----”

“You can’t do anything else.”

“Do you mean that you will--will be satisfied?”

“Probably not; and yet, I don’t know; I’m rather sick of it; this
being laid up like a blasted mummy takes the pluck out of a fellow.
Maybe”--he smiled quizzically--“maybe it takes some of the meanness
out, too. Anyhow, I’ll keep to the promise. And if that silly
conscience of yours is still grumbling, why, choke it off. You’ve done
right enough; you’ve done more than I’d have done; though, of course,
that doesn’t signify much. You slipped up for the minute, and now you
are sorry. As far as I’m concerned, I forgive you, although, as I said
before, I don’t see that I’ve anything to forgive.”

“I’ll never forgive myself,” said Dick, with conviction.

Taylor shrugged his shoulders and moved his head as though weary of the
subject.

“You’ll have to settle that with yourself; I dare say you’ll be
fighting it out for the next ten years.”

Dick took up his cap, hesitated an instant, and then strode to the
couch.

“Mind shaking hands?” he asked.

Taylor grinned.

“What’s the use?” he asked. “It won’t make things any better or any
worse.”

“I’d rather, if you don’t mind,” replied Dick gravely.

“Oh, all right.” Taylor put out his, and the two lads clasped hands
silently.

“Good-night,” said Dick, turning away. “I hope you’ll get well soon and
come and help us. We need you.”

“Good-night,” answered Taylor. “I dare say I’ll be out by the last
of the week. You’re not a half bad sort, Hope; if it wasn’t for that
bothersome conscience of yours I think we might get on together fairly
well.”

Dick’s last glance across the room showed him a pallid, tired-looking
youth sitting on the edge of the couch, with dejection expressed in his
attitude, but a mocking smile on his face.



CHAPTER XXIII

PROSPECTS OF VICTORY


The erstwhile gallant crew of The Sleet lay upon the grass in front
of Academy Building in the shadow thrown by the wall that runs along
the edge of the bluff. About them in little piles lay various worn
and tattered books. Dick and Carl, propped upon their elbows, were
nibbling the succulent ends of grass blades. Trevor lay flat upon his
back, gazing steadfastly upward at the slowly marching clouds, supreme
content upon his sunburned face. Stewart Earle sat cross-legged and
performed wonderful feats with a pearl-handled penknife. It was a few
minutes before two; dinner was over and the bell had not yet rung for
recitations.

Before them the warm red bulk of Academy Building, already hidden
in wide expanses with tender green ivy leaves, arose against the
velvety blue of the sky. In the tower a quivering disk of dazzling
light marked where the sun shone upon the old bell. The trees were in
full leaf, and the green was a little forest of light and shade and
murmurous branches. Even the river dozed, below the bluff turquoise
blue unbroken by swirl or eddy, beyond in the distance aglint with the
sun. In the dormitories the windows were thrown wide, and boys lazed
on the cushioned seats. There was a tuneful, unceasing hum of insects;
the sun shone hotly; summer had come to the valley of the Hudson. It
was the third day of June, a fact just remarked upon by Stewart, who
had casually added that it was the anniversary of the Battle of Cold
Harbor. This exciting announcement went unnoticed for a moment. Then
Carl yawned loudly.

“Don’t believe it,” he muttered. More silence followed. Then, “It is
extremely bad taste,” said Dick, “to air your knowledge in--that--in
that----” Then his teeth closed on an unusually attractive grass stem
and he subsided. A little breeze crept up the slope from the campus and
stirred the brown locks over Trevor’s forehead. He sat up suddenly and
observed Dick and Carl in fine disdain.

“Lazy beggars,” he muttered. At great labor and with many harrowing
groans he reached about and gathered a handful of grass. Dick knew
what was coming, but hadn’t the energy to prepare for resistance until
it was too late. Then he sat up himself and, pulling the wad from his
neck, stuffed it down Carl’s. Every one giggled; it was really very
funny for a warm day. The quartet were now sitting in a circle, even
Carl showing signs of life. Conversation appeared to be necessary. Dick
opened his lips and closed them again without a sound. Trevor came to
the rescue.

“Hot,” he remarked.

“You’re an awful chatterbox,” sighed Carl. But the spell was broken.

“Only two weeks to the end of school,” said Dick. “By Jove, I’d just
like to know where the time’s gone; it doesn’t seem any time since
spring vacation!”

“That’s so,” answered Carl. “Another two weeks and it’ll be all over,
and good-by to old Hillton. It’s funny how sorry it makes a chap.
That’s the odd thing about it; it doesn’t seem so fine until you have
to leave it all. I wonder if I’ll have as good a time at college?”

“I know,” mused Dick sentimentally, “it’s almost like leaving home. I
wish--I wish I was going to stay another year!”

“My, you’re funny,” quoth Stewart. “Catch me being sorry when I get
through!”

“Wait; you will be,” answered Carl. “There’s a whole raft of fellows
going up to Harwell this year, isn’t there? Do you know anything about
your room yet, Dick?”

“No; I guess I’ll find a small one near the Yard for this year. When
Trevor comes he and I are going to room together, aren’t we, old chap?”

“If you’re good,” answered his chum gravely. When hostilities had ended
Carl said reminiscently:

“It’s been a pretty good year for Hillton, hasn’t it?”

“So far; if you only beat St. Eustace at baseball, and if we can
only win on the river it’ll be the best year on record, I guess. We
certainly did her up finely at the interscholastic meet, eh?”

“I should say so! Forty-three points to twenty-nine! And little Stew
here to thank for ten of them. Take off your hat, Stew!”

“’Tis off.”

“I’ll never forget the way in which he ran away from that St. Eustace
fellow in the half-mile,” continued Carl, smiling. “And to think that
when he came here three years ago he couldn’t turn the door-knob
without using both hands!”

“Oh, dry up,” said Stewart.

“I guess you’re pretty certain to beat St. Eustace at baseball, aren’t
you, Carl?”

“Yes, pretty certain; barring accidents we ought to have little
trouble. We play Shrewsburg again Saturday, and I believe we’ll shut
her out.”

“Don’t get too confident,” warned Dick.

“No fear; and I don’t talk like this before the fellows. But we’ve
really got the finest lot of players that I ever saw.”

“I know. Well, if you get both games from St. Eustace your name will go
down to posterity in red letters with a wreath about it. I only wish I
was as hopeful as you are.”

“Old Dick wouldn’t let himself get hopeful if we had a boatful of
tailor’s dummies to row against,” said Trevor. “There isn’t any
possibility of our getting beaten on the fifteenth--barring accidents.”

“But the trouble is we can’t bar accidents,” replied Dick. “They will
happen even in the best regulated of crews. Somebody’s certain to take
sick or sprain his wrist or something.”

“Isn’t he an old granny?” asked Trevor disgustedly.

“I hear you had a shake-up yesterday?” queried Carl.

“A little one; Kirk took Milton out and is trying Cheever at three. And
he dropped Rankin from the second eight. That was all. I guess we’ll
row about the way we are now. St. Eustace’s coach read the riot act
last week, they say; dumped two men out of the boat and raked every one
over the coals. Oh, well, we’ll know all about it in a couple of weeks.”

“I wish I was as certain of exams as I am that we’ll beat St. Eustace,”
said Trevor. “By the way, Dick, the pater’s coming up for class day
to see you graduate. Stewart, they’re going to draw for the tennis
tournament to-night in Chandler’s room.”

“How many entries are there?” asked Carl.

“Twenty-two. I hope I don’t get drawn for the preliminary round, that’s
all. I’d hate to get thrown out of it so early and have no----”

“There she goes,” said Stewart, jumping up.

The bell in the tower rang lazily, and the four entered Academy
Building for two o’clock recitations.

May had slipped into June, and June had brought fresh impetus in every
outdoor pursuit. The school was rowing mad, just as it always was in
June, and every day groups of fellows congregated at the boat-house
or watched the proceedings from the path above. The trying period of
instruction in a pair-oar at the hands of Malcolm Kirk or, as upon
occasions, at those of Dick, was over and practice had simmered down
to businesslike work in stretches of from an hour to two hours each
day. It wasn’t all rowing; often the men leaned motionless over their
oars while Kirk from the deck of the little Terrible talked to them
for a quarter of an hour at a time on the error of their way. Always,
nowadays, there was ten minutes or so of practicing starts; often the
varsity and second were drawn up on the mark, and were given the word
together; and alas for the boat that was behind at the tenth stroke!
But it was the best of training, and the proficiency in quick starting
which they finally secured stood them in good stead later.

There was less fault-finding on the part of the coach with the fellows
as individuals now. The work as a whole received the bulk of his
attention, and the most serious fault he had to contend with was a
tendency to raise the stroke by rushing the body forward instead of
putting more force into the pull through. There were lesser faults,
besides; plenty of them; there was probably never yet a perfect
crew, and certainly Hillton’s varsity was in no danger of becoming
one. But on the whole the fellows rowed well, making the most of the
long stroke, taking kindly enough to the rather severe leg-work, and
gradually acquiring the ability to spurt quickly and evenly. For this,
naturally, much credit belonged to Dick, who, at stroke, displayed
wonderful steadiness, and inspired the crew with a sensation of balance
and security that promised to accomplish much in time of stress.
Taylor, at Number 7, worked with Dick as one cog-wheel works with
another, and Kirk was well satisfied with the stern of the varsity boat
at least. In the waist a source of some trial was Waters, who of late
had displayed a tendency to clip his stroke. Trevor was doing finely
at Number 4, and had vindicated Kirk’s first impression of him, and
Professor Beck’s as well, and, for that matter, his own. But perhaps
the best feature displayed by the crew was a hearty willingness to
work; there were no sluggards in the boat, and an earnest resolve to
wrest victory from St. Eustace inspired all.

Taylor had kept his promise, though Dick, to be sure, had never
doubted that he would do so. In the course of time the sprained knee
was pronounced healed, and he had taken his place in the boat again
and had fitted into it in such a way that Dick was convinced that his
sacrifice, had it been necessary, would not have been too dear a price
to pay for the other’s return. The two saw but little of each other
outside of training, and the trouble that had threatened Hillton with
defeat on the water was never alluded to by either. If they were not
friends neither were they enemies, and each had risen in the other’s
estimation.



CHAPTER XXIV

STEWART’S REVENGE


The tennis tournament began two days after the pow-wow between the
quartet on the lawn. In spite of Trevor’s wishes on the subject, he
found himself drawn for the preliminary round, and opposed to a lower
middle boy named Page. But he had no trouble in winning two sets
running, and so qualified for the finals.

The tournament went slowly, for those were busy days at Hillton,
and allowances had to be made for the demands of crew and baseball
training. But Friday night left only four contestants--Trevor, Stewart,
Hollis, and Montgomery. Play in the semifinal round began early
Saturday morning. Trevor defeated Montgomery 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, and Stewart
won from Hollis 6-3, 7-5. After a half-hour’s rest Trevor and Stewart
faced each other smilingly across the net in the final round to decide
the school championship.

It was a perfect morning for tennis, bright and warm, and though it
gave promise of heat later, at ten o’clock a soft, fresh breeze blew
across the campus from the woods. Trevor won the toss and chose the
south court.

“I see my finish here,” he said with a grin.

Stewart laughed.

“I’m glad I’ve got you scared. How are you feeling?”

“Fine.”

“So’m I; so look out for yourself.”

Trevor’s fears appeared to be justified by events, for Stewart took the
first set from him very easily, six games to three, and won the second
after a somewhat harder battle to the tune of 7-5. But after that
Trevor seemingly found himself, and the third encounter was brilliant
enough to win almost unceasing applause from the fairly large throng of
spectators. It went to him finally by six games to four, and the fourth
set begun.

The two boys played very different tennis. Trevor at his best was
supremely careful and painstaking; one might have thought that tennis
was a game like chess, in which each stroke was the result of deep
study. He played slowly, relying upon scientific placing for his
points. His serve was a justly celebrated overhand cut which against
almost any boy in the school save his present opponent was very
dangerous. But Trevor and Stewart had played together all the spring,
and knew each other’s style from A to Z, and Stewart had from long
experience learned to return Trevor’s puzzling service with a forehand
stroke off the ground that was almost always successful. Trevor played
well back as a rule, and was the possessor of a back-hand return that
was the admiration of all.

Stewart on the court was like a whirlwind in white flannels. He
was all dash and go. Lithe and lightly built, he seemed capable of
being everywhere at once, and that without any special effort. His
playing was brilliant in the extreme; his service was a swift stroke
that landed the ball almost invariably on the service-line, and that
required the opponent to stand back of base-line to receive it; his
return was a long, lightning-like drive that just topped the net; and
his smashing was something terrific. But, like most whirlwind players,
Stewart took long risks and occasionally got very wild.

The fourth set went to Trevor after a hard battle, eight games to six,
and the decisive struggle commenced. It was Trevor’s serve, and for
the first time during the contest he won a love game on it, Stewart
returning every ball out of court. On Stewart’s service Trevor failed
almost as signally, getting but one return over. Stewart tried lobbing
in the next game with disastrous results, and Trevor again won. With
the games 1-3 Stewart took a decided brace and secured the next on
his service, and the following one partly through Trevor’s poor work
and partly through fine handling of the puzzling serves. It was then
Trevor’s turn to win twice running, and he brought the score to 3-4;
Stewart by faultless service made it four games all; each then won on
his service and the score was games all.

It had been decided that the final set should not be a vantage set,
and hence the next game would settle the contest. The two lads
changed courts, and the audience looked for a speedy termination of
the struggle. Trevor led off with a fault and followed it with a poor
serve that allowed Stewart to return a slashing ball far into the
right angle of side- and base-lines. Trevor was too late, and amid
the applause of the crowd, and somewhat disconcerted, he repeated his
previous performance; the first ball went into the net and the second
bounced obligingly into Stewart’s racket and came skimming back swift
and low, touching the canvas strip and dropping almost lifeless in the
shadow of the net. This was also lost to Trevor, and the score was
love-thirty. Trevor looked grimly determined now, and Stewart watched
sharply for the next serve. He found it and returned it, and Trevor,
with excellent judgment, crouched out of its way and let it go by well
out of court. The next serve was one of Trevor’s best, and it found
a good big hole in his adversary’s racket. The score was thirty all.
Stewart found the next serve and put it into Trevor’s hands; the latter
cut it to the left of the opposite court, but Stewart sent it back
neatly toward the base-line. Trevor reached it by a long run, and with
a magnificent back-hand stroke tried to place it over his opponent’s
head. But Stewart was watchful and alert, and ran back in time, and
again volleyed, sending the sphere down the right-side line. Trevor
again returned, seeking a place out of reach of his nimble adversary,
and Stewart, after a hard chase across court, got it on the bound and
played it gently over. Trevor had followed up, however, and it was
all over on the next play, for although Stewart dashed back again to
the territory he had just left unprotected the ball was dead when he
reached it. The score was now 40-30, and the game, set, and match might
be won on the next stroke.

Trevor was breathing hard, but there was a grim determination in his
eyes. Stewart appeared less tuckered, but he was somewhat pale despite
the easy smile that played over his boyish face. Up went Trevor’s
racket; up went the ball. There was a line of white through the air;
Stewart put the head of his racket to the gravel; the ball in its low
rebound struck it fair and went hurtling back. Stewart ran up to within
a yard of the net. Trevor waited for the bounce, glanced hurriedly
over the opposite court, chose his place, and sided his racket. But
his plans were wrecked by a pebble. Up went the ball on the rebound
almost straight into the air. Trevor darted forward. There was no time
for niceties of cutting or placing. Ball and racket came together, and
the former went skimming forward, head-high, straight as a dart for
Stewart’s racket!

The crowd held its breath, picturing the terrific smash to follow,
and Trevor scuttled back to the rear of the court from where it might
be barely possible to get the ball on its long rebound. Stewart swung
his racket back, strong fingers grasping the end of the handle, swung
it down with all his force--and stared in seeming amaze. A groan of
dismay went up from the onlookers as the ball passed by untouched and
dropped into court.

“Game and set and match!” called the umpire. And then the applause
began. Trevor advanced to the net, and he and Stewart shook hands.

“Beastly luck, that last stroke,” said Trevor heartily.

“Rotten playing, you mean,” answered Stewart, smiling. “I’m glad you’ve
won, Trevor, honestly; but some time you and I’ll have it out again, if
you like.”

“All right; I’d like to. And there’s another tournament coming next
year, you know.”

Dick, who in company with Carl and many other friends, had watched the
match from the side-line, slapped Trevor on the shoulder.

“Good work, chum! And you played like a cyclone, Stewart; you ought
to have had it.” Then Trevor took possession of the little silver mug
and wondered where the engraver was going to find room for his name on
it, and the crowd broke up and hurried toward the Yard and dinner. On
the way Stewart found himself beside Dick. Trevor and Todd were some
distance ahead, the latter, who could play tennis about as well as an
elephant can jump rope, explaining to the champion where he had made
his mistakes.

“That was a queer stroke of yours, Stewart,” said Dick.

The younger boy darted a fleeting glance into the other’s smiling face.

“Rotten, wasn’t it?” he asked.

“Well, I wouldn’t call it rotten exactly; I should say it was
remarkable.”

Stewart again glanced up to find Dick looking at him quizzically. For a
moment the two eyed each other; then Stewart laughed and Dick joined in.

“No more remarkable than the way in which Trevor lost the two hundred
and twenty yards at the indoor meeting, was it?” he asked.

“No,” replied Dick. “I should say they were about on a par. But I
didn’t think that you suspected----”

“You must think I’m blind then. I knew it well enough, and I made up my
mind then to have my revenge. And I’ve had it to-day. But, I say, Dick,
I’d rather you wouldn’t tell Trevor. I don’t think he knows.”

“No, I won’t say a word to him,” replied Dick with a smile. “You’re a
funny pair, you two.”

But he went on up the river-path with one crimson-clad arm over
Stewart’s shoulders.

The week that intervened between the tournament and the boat-race
passed quickly. There was an air of expectancy and excitement in the
air. Examinations were approaching, class day was almost at hand, and
Hillton and St. Eustace were about to match their prowess both on the
water and on the diamond. The varsity crew was on the river twice
daily, but the hardest of training was over, and a period of light work
took the place of the former grinding labor. The time for sledge-hammer
blows was past, and the efforts of coach, captain, and coxswain were
directed toward putting the finishing polish on their handiwork. From
Marshall came the news that St. Eustace’s head rowing coach was firmly
of the belief that he had succeeded in turning out a crew no whit
inferior to that of the preceding year, and it was evident in many ways
that the backers of the Blue were confident of another victory.

Dick was himself again; contented, hard-working, even hopeful despite
his dark forebodings. He had not forgotten his lapse from honor; he
often spent miserable moments in thinking about it; but, what with
earnest promises to atone for it and with work and study enough to
occupy every moment of his waking time, he found his periods of
self-abasement becoming fewer and fewer. He was certain of passing his
examinations well, and believed he would graduate an honor man of three
terms.

On Thursday he and Trevor and Muggins sat in the grand stand and
cheered nine clever young gentlemen on to a decisive victory over the
ball players of St. Eustace, a victory that indicated a second to
come when Hillton played the last game of the series at Marshall the
following week. Gray was elated, and Hillton was proud of him, and gave
evidence of its pride by well-nigh raising the roof when he appeared in
dining-hall.

And after the game was over Dick and Trevor went to training-table
for the last time; and every one was very hopeful and rather sad, and
decidedly nervous--every one save Kirk, who did most of the talking,
and told strange and interesting stories of life at Hillton when he
was a boy there. There had been no work on the river that day, for the
shell had been shipped to Marshall; but a two-mile trot on the road,
followed by a five-minute bout with the weights, had taken the place
of it. After supper the men went to Society House, where the second
crew, disbanded the previous day, joined them, and Professor Beck and
two graduates spoke to them in earnest, hopeful strain until it was
bedtime. Then the varsity crew got together and cheered long and loud
for the second, and the second cheered the varsity, and they both
cheered Coach Kirk and Professor Beck and the two graduates. Whereupon
all scattered for bed.

The next morning, bright and early, the varsity and substitutes
journeyed to Marshall, and at eleven o’clock were paddling slowly over
the course of the next day’s race, watched here and there by groups of
St. Eustacians. They put up at the hotel, where Muggins, attired in a
gorgeous crimson blanket adorned on each side with a great white H,
attracted much interest, and afforded not a little amusement. He knew
every member of the crew and every substitute by nightfall, and gave
each a place in his affections. And when, after dinner, the St. Eustace
Glee and Mandolin Clubs, followed by a number of boys from across the
river, put in an appearance and gave a concert on the veranda, he
planted his front feet wide apart, raised his blunt nose toward the
starlit sky, and howled loudly and dismally until Trevor bore him off
to bed.

And, although the concert still went on, Trevor did not return to
the veranda again. Something, perhaps the excitement of the day, had
given him a splitting headache and a queer feeling all over that was
difficult to define. So he undressed, climbed into bed, and, cuddling
Muggins closely to him, fell off into a dream-troubled slumber.



CHAPTER XXV

“ARE YOU READY? GO!”


                    HILLTON

    NAME.             Position.  Age.  Weight.

    R. F. Hope         Stroke     17     134
    R. M. Taylor         7        18     150
    R. Crocker           6        17     165
    C. H. Waters         5        16     142
    T. Nesbitt           4        16     149
    W. H. Cheever        3        17     148
    J. Whitman           2        17     147
    R. L. Shield        Bow       17     126
    S. M. Keene       Coxswain    17     110
                                 ----    ----
    Average for eight             16⅞    145⅛


                   ST. EUSTACE

    B. Downs           Stroke     18     147
    H. L. Price          7        17     142
    A. J. Richardson     6        17     145
    T. Wells             5        16     162
    P. H. Garrity        4        17     161
    A. R. Noland         3        16     143
    R. F. Gerstner       2        18     139
    W. A. Overton       Bow       17     133
    D. E. Perine      Coxswain    18      98
                                 ----    ----
    Average for eight             17     146½

Trevor read the tables and laid down the copy of the Marshall Morning
Reporter with a sigh and stared across the little lawn at the village
street. Muggins worried the newspaper for a moment, and then,
observing Trevor’s attitude, cuddled up to him in sympathy, and thumped
the porch floor with what, had it been in his power, he would have
called his tail. The paper fluttered off across the gravel driveway,
and he cocked his ears, meditating pursuit; but Trevor’s hand had now
found his head; the sun was warm; it was comforting to be rubbed; and
so he only blinked sleepily and sat quiet.

Saturday, the 15th of June, had dawned warm and clear. Over the river a
little blue mist hung until a strong breeze swept across the water from
the west, kicking up quite a rumpus along the eastern shore. The town
was already well filled with visitors, among them not a few graduates
of Hillton and St. Eustace, who had arrived the preceding evening.
The quiet old village was decked in holiday attire, and its shrewd
innkeepers and merchants were rubbing their hands in anticipation of
the yearly harvest.

Three of the Hillton crew had complained at the breakfast table that
morning of having lame backs, while Talbot, a substitute, was clearly
out of the question, having no appetite and not a little fever.

“I always said there was malaria in this place,” complained Kirk, “it’s
so low. We had some trouble last year, do you remember, Hope? Benson
was attacked with fever, although it left him at noon and he was all
right again. That’s where St. Eustace has the better of us; she’s used
to this place, and we’re not. I believe it wouldn’t be a half bad plan
next year to leave coming here until the morning of the race.”

And Trevor, sitting on the edge of the porch, engaged with Muggins’s
ears, heard and was comforted. He had awoke that morning after an
unrefreshing sleep with a most uncomfortable sensation of goneness and
a bewildering heaviness in his head. His eyes seemed tired, as though
he had been reading long and hard, his lips were parched, and as the
morning went on a feeling of feverishness alarmed him. At breakfast he
had forced himself to eat, much against the inclination of his stomach,
for fear that Kirk would perceive his condition and keep him out of the
boat. He was not used to illness, and was inclined to attribute his
unpleasant condition to nervousness. And now Kirk’s words encouraged
him; it was quite likely that he had got into a similar condition to
that of the unknown Benson; if so it would be all right when noon came;
all he had to do was to look cheerful so that Kirk wouldn’t discover
his state. So he grinned as broadly as possible, and whistled one of
his tuneless tunes. And for a time his indisposition really left him,
or very nearly did so, and during the hour of easy work on the river
and the subsequent fifteen minutes of starting practice he was able to
work well and even brilliantly, and was certain that his illness was
past.

The race was down for half-past three. After work in the shell was
over and the craft was safe in the little boat-house some half mile
from the hotel, the crew and substitutes, with the exception of the
unfortunate Talbot, were taken on a long, unhurried walk along the
river under the guidance of Kirk, who tried to keep their thoughts as
much as possible off of the coming contest. The nervousness that had
begun to make its appearance gradually subsided under the soothing
influence of quiet country lanes and wood paths, and at twelve the
fellows returned to the hotel looking fresh and untroubled.

The hostelry meanwhile had filled with a merry and excited throng
of Hillton boys and graduates, and had become a veritable blaze of
crimson. Muggins was beside himself with delight; never before had he
received so much attention; he welcomed each new arrival with frantic
barks of joy, and scampered about from one group to another, his
brilliant blanket flashing restlessly hither and thither. Carl and
Stewart and Todd and Williams and everybody else, apparently, had come
down for the race, and all was tumult and laughter and handshaking. Old
Hillton fellows who had not met for a year or more shouted greetings to
each other across the corridor or struggled madly through the throngs
to clap each other on the back. Into this scene pushed the returning
crew, and as their presence was discovered the crowd broke into ringing
cheers, and pressed about them, eager for a word with or a look at the
youngsters upon whose broad shoulders rested their hopes.

At last, however, they managed to reach the parlor on the second
floor, into whose sacred precincts admission was denied to all
else. Trevor sank into a chair with a smothered groan. The former
indisposition had returned with all its former force, and for a moment
he sat dazed and faint. When he looked up he found Dick’s eyes upon him
anxiously.

“What’s the matter, chum?”

Trevor smiled with an effort.

“Nothing, I fancy; just a bit--a bit tired.”

“Well, sneak off upstairs and lie down a while, like a good chap. We
can’t have you going off, old fellow. Talbot’s the only chap that would
be fit for your place, and he’s as limp as a rag. Take a rest before
dinner.”

Trevor obeyed, and spent the next quarter of an hour at full length on
his bed in the room which he shared with Dick and two others. He shut
his eyes resolutely, telling himself that he would be all right after a
nap. But sleep refused to come, and he lay and wondered over and over
whether he would be able to take his place in the boat. If he wasn’t
poor old Dick would be in a hard way, he thought. There were three
substitutes there besides Talbot, but not one of them was accustomed to
rowing at Number 4, and, for that matter, not one was fitted for the
position. All he could do, he resolved, was to fight down the beastly
sickness; once in the boat, he felt certain he would be able to do his
work. Besides, there was the case of Benson; to be sure, it was already
noon, and his fever, instead of taking itself off, seemed rather to
be increasing; but perhaps he had it a little worse than Benson, and
it would take longer to disappear. He pressed his hands hard over his
forehead in a vain endeavor to ease his headache, and tried his best
to go to sleep. And then the dinner gong sounded, and he made a hasty
toilet and joined the rest in the parlor, where a private table was
spread. The meal was a sorry affair. Even the fellows who had rowed
against St. Eustace the year before showed signs of nervousness,
while some of the less experienced were in a blue funk. Kirk worked
heroically to keep their spirits up, but it was of no avail in most
cases, and there was a palpable air of relief when the meal was over
and they were free to hide their feelings by moving about and talking
to their heart’s content. A half-hour later the march to the boat-house
was begun, and a crowd of admirers followed in their wake. Once in
their places much of the nervousness wore off, and, cheered by the
throng on shore, Hillton’s crew paddled out into the stream and set
leisurely off for the start.

In the open air Trevor’s headache lessened, and he felt much better.
Dick, who had been plainly anxious about him, found encouragement from
his fresher looks and heaved a sigh of relief. As they paddled slowly
up the river a sound of distant cheering reached them, and at a command
from Keene they rested upon their oars and glanced up-stream and across
to the St. Eustace boat-house. The rival eight were stepping into their
shell. One after another the blue-clad youths took their places. Then
they put out into the stream and dropped down the river toward the
Hillton boat.

“There’s a good deal of splashing there,” said Dick.

“Yes.” Keene watched the oncoming crew attentively. “Yes, port side’s
terribly ragged. But they look a powerful lot. Touch her easy, Seven.
That’ll do.”

At a little distance up-stream the St. Eustace shell made a wide turn,
the eight rowers for a moment resting upon their oars and sending a
hearty cheer across the blue water. Hillton returned the compliment and
her rival moved away again.

“They look a bit heavier than us,” said Shield from the bow of the boat.

“Only about a pound,” answered Dick, watching the shell creep
up-stream; “that is, according to their weights, you know. But I’ll
wager that Richardson weighs more than a hundred and forty-five.”

“Yes, and Wells is more than seventeen years old,” said Taylor.

“I dare say. What time is it, Keene?”

“Five after.”

“Well, let’s go up. By Jove, fellows, what a day for it!” Dick took a
deep breath of the brisk, invigorating air, sweet with the fragrance of
lush meadows and moist woods, and turned smilingly to Taylor. “How do
you feel?”

“Too good to describe,” answered Number 7 heartily. “I could row ten
miles instead of two.”

“Good boy,” said Dick. He gazed up the length of the shell. Answering
smiles met him from bright eyes and glowing faces, save in one case.
Trevor grinned broadly; he even essayed a wink; but the grin was
somewhat awry and the wink was a poor thing. Dick frowned, and,
turning, gripped his oar with his exuberance lessened.

“Ready all! Forward! Paddle!”

The shell crept up-stream between banks sprinkled with spectators,
hurrying, in most cases, toward the finish line or some midway point
of vantage. At the start quite a throng had assembled to see the boats
get away. The Terrible, bearing a number of Hillton representatives,
chugged alongside, and from her deck Kirk gave his last commands in
low tones to Dick and Keene. Then he spoke briefly to the crew, and a
moment later both shells backed to the starting-line.

Trevor saw the throng through a light mist. With his hands gripping the
oar he stared in growing misery at the neck of Number 5 and waited,
wondering for the tenth time how much longer the suspense would last.
To the left of him was the St. Eustace boat. The fellows were peeling
off their sweaters and some were whispering. Then Trevor was removing
his own sweater, and the referee was talking to them about something;
what it was he didn’t know nor care. If only they would start! He
heard Keene’s voice: “Get ready!” He went forward on his slide, turned
his blade square in the water, and felt it snug against the thole-pin.

“I shall say ‘Are you ready?’ once; if I receive no reply I shall say
‘Go!’”

The referee’s voice came through the megaphone with sudden warning.

“Touch her easy, Two,” said the cox in quiet unconcerned tones.
“That’ll do; steady, Two!”

Trevor’s gaze, suddenly roaming to the other boat, saw the rival cox, a
red-haired, spidery-looking youth, bending forward, his eyes alert but
steady, his hands gripped tight about the lines. The little throng near
at hand had grown quiet, almost silent. His head ached a bit, and his
eyes----

“_Are you ready?_”

His heart gave a leap that threatened to choke him; then sank quickly,
suddenly; he waited--waited. Would the word never come? The breeze was
ruffling the back of Waters’s shirt. The sun was very bright, and the
small waves reflected its rays in the manner of a thousand mirrors.
Surely the referee had----

“GO!”

There was a rush of blades through the water, a sudden leap, a confused
rattling of many oars, a seething on every side, a shouting from bank
and boats. The race was on!



CHAPTER XXVI

AT THE MILE


_Splash! Swish! Rattle!_

The oars dug into the water venomously, swirled through, emerged
dripping and flashing, disappeared again. Brown, sinewy arms shot
forward and back, bodies bent and unbent like powerful springs, the
water was thrown in little cascades of glistening pearls, and the
coxswains, open-mouthed, intense, cried unintelligible things in the
uproar, and looked like vindictive little demons crouching for a
spring. There was no long, rhythmic swing of the oars now; there was
nothing inspiring to the spectators in the quick, dashing movements of
the sweeps; all seemed without system, incoherent.

Ten--eleven--twelve--thirteen--fourteen strokes! Then the savage
struggle was past, and out from the momentary chaos of uproar and
turmoil and seething water the Hillton shell shot into the lead, its
bobbing cox even with Number Four of the St. Eustace boat.

“Steady all! Lengthen out! Lengthen out!”

The plunging dips of the eight crimson-bladed oars ceased. Stroke, with
a quick glance at the other boat, moved back to the full limit of the
slide, his sweep swirled steadily, almost slowly, through the quieter
water, came out square, turned, feathered over yards of racing ripples,
and again lost itself under the gleaming surface.

“_Time! Time!_” yelled cox.

And now backs were bending in perfect unison, oarlocks rattled as one,
and rowing superbly at thirty-two strokes to the minute, the crimson
eight forced the shining cedar craft away until clear water showed
between its rudder and the knifelike bow of its rival. Hillton had
gained the first trick, and, although the game was by no means yet won,
Dick’s eyes gleamed with satisfaction, Keene allowed a smile to cross
his face, and on the Terrible, racing along in the wake of the speeding
shells, Professor Beck and Coach Kirk glanced at each other and nodded.
Across the intervening tide came, shrilly, insistent, the cry of the
St. Eustace coxswain:

“_Hit her up! Hit her up! Hit her up!_”

In response eight blue-clad bodies bent and strained in an endeavor to
place their shell beside Hillton’s, and eight blue-tipped oars flashed
swiftly back and forth. St. Eustace was rowing thirty-seven. Dick
shot a glance of inquiry at Keene. The latter glanced over his right
shoulder.

“Can’t keep it up,” he answered to Stroke’s unspoken question. “_Four,
you’re late!_”

Slowly the bow of the St. Eustace boat crept up on them; now it was
abreast of their rudder; a dozen strokes more and it was even with cox;
a minute later St. Eustace’s bow oar was cutting the water opposite
to Dick. But there was no alteration of the latter’s stroke. For a
minute or two the Blue’s boat hung tenaciously to the place it had won;
then, inch by inch, it dropped astern again, yet so slowly that it
was long before Dick was certain that it was so. The Blue was rowing
at thirty-three now, and very wisely husbanding her strength. The
half-mile was past, and the race was a quarter over.

Down at the finish crowds lined the shores and stood packed into a
restless mass on the great iron bridge that spans the river a few rods
below the imaginary line. The scene was a bright one. Overhead the
summer sky arched warmly blue, a vast expanse of color unbroken save
in the west, where a soft bank of cumulate clouds lay one upon the
other like giant pillows. The river reflected the intense azure of the
heavens and caught the sunlight on every ripple and wave until from
long gazing upon it the eyes were dazzled into temporary blindness.
On each side the banks were thickly wooded save that here and there a
square or quadrangle of radiant turf stretched from the margin of the
stream upward and away to some quiet mansion leaf-embowered in the
distance. The western side of the river was deep-toned with shadows for
a little space, and there upon the bank the trees held a promise of the
twilight in their dark foliage. Up the stream, to the right, Marshall
dozed in the afternoon, a picturesque group of white buildings, studded
here and there with clumps of green; a long, low factory building
stood by the water and glowed warmly red in the sunlight. Across the
river and almost opposite to the village St. Eustace Academy sprawled
its half-dozen edifices down the southern slope of a gentle hill, but
only the higher towers and gables showed above the big elms that stood
sentinel about it.

Along the bridge and up and down both shores by the finish crimson
flags and streamers shone side by side with the deep blue banners
of the rival school. Gay hats and bright-hued dresses pricked out
the throngs. Field-glasses now and then gave aid to eager eyes, and
everywhere was an atmosphere of impatience and excitement. Many nerves
were a-tingle there that sunny afternoon, while far up the river, like
thin bright streaks upon the water, the two boats, to all appearances
side by side, sped onward toward victory or defeat. It was anybody’s
race as yet, said the watchers on the bridge; and indeed it looked so,
not alone to them, but to the spectators in the launches and tugs that
followed the shells, to the officials in their speeding craft, to the
occupants of the slender cedar racing-ships themselves--to all save one.

Trevor Nesbitt, toiling over his oar with white, set face, was alone
certain that defeat was to be the harvest of the eight heroes in
crimson. But although he alone was sure, it is possible that Keene
was already scenting disaster, for the coxswain was staring ahead at
Trevor with frowning brow and anxious eyes.

“_Brace up, Four! You’re late!_”

Trevor heard the cry as one half asleep hears the summons to awake;
he wondered why cox didn’t speak louder; but he brought his wandering
thoughts back the next instant and bore doggedly at his oar. Yes, he
could still row; one more stroke; now, yet one more; and still another.
It seemed as though each must be his last, and yet, when it was done,
strength still remained for another, weaker, slower, but still another.
Ever since the half-mile had been passed he had been on the verge of
collapse. He was faint and weak and dizzy; the blue sky and glistening
water were merged in his failing sight into one strange expanse of
awful, monotonous blue that revolved behind him in mighty sweeps like
a monster cyclorama. Often it was dotted with craft that trailed soft,
gray vapor behind them; often the lights were suddenly turned quite
out, and the world was left in impenetrable blackness, and he closed
his eyes and was glad.

“_Four! Four! What’s the matter? Brace up, man!_”

And then he opened his aching eyes again, slowly, unwillingly, to find
the world for the moment normal; to see the muscles of Waters’s neck
straining like cords; to see a line of crimson bodies working back
and forth; to wonder with alarm why he was sitting there motionless
when every one else was at work, and then to suddenly discover that
he, too, was going forward and back on the slide, and in time with
the other toilers. In one such moment he looked aside and saw a
line of blue figures moving like automatons almost even with them.
He wondered if they knew--those automatons--that they were going to
win. He could tell them, but he wouldn’t; not a word. A funny little
figure apparently sliding up and down at the stern reminded him of a
ridiculous image of a heathen god he had once seen in a museum. It was
very funny. He tried to grin----

“_Eyes in the boat, Four!_” shrieked the coxswain shrilly, angrily.

Trevor wondered who he was talking to. Strange that he should talk when
they were losing the race; silence--silence like his own--would have
been more fitting. There was a sudden jerk at his arms that for the
instant brought him back to reality. He didn’t know what had happened;
possibly he had struck a snag; but he found the time again after a
fashion and worked on doggedly, as a machine might work, with neither
sensation nor spirit. He had caught a crab, but he didn’t know it
then. Suddenly an almost overmastering hatred of the tossing blue line
across the little breadth of water surged over him. They would win, the
beasts, the monsters! And the little heathen image that slid up and
down at the end would be happy! And Dick and Keene and all the others
would be miserable and heartbroken! Heaven, how he hated those
monsters in blue and the little red-haired heathen image!

The cox was talking again now; what was it he said? Water? Cox wanted
water; surely some one could get him water? But he had said Five,
hadn’t he? Well, he wasn’t Five, and so---- What was this? He was wet!
Oh, yes, Five was splashing him desperately with water. He wondered why
and wished he’d stop; it got into his eyes and mouth and bothered him.

“Four, brace up, can’t you? It’s almost over!” pleaded cox from a great
distance.

What was almost over? Trevor opened his eyes and drew his white,
dripping forehead into a puzzled frown. Oh, yes, the race! His mind
and vision cleared, and he saw things as they were; saw Keene’s eyes
looking at him despairingly, saw the cox of the St. Eustace boat slide
by him and disappear; saw the one mile buoy rush astern; saw himself,
huddled over his motionless oar that dragged, splashing, on the
surface. His brain was once more clear. He seized the oar handle, and
tried to draw it to him. It was no use. He tried to explain it all to
Keene in one long, agonized look. Then he saw the only way by which he
could aid, and summoning a semblance of strength, with a deep breath,
he reached out, and with trembling, nerveless fingers unlocked his oar
and dropped it aside. It was lost to sight on the instant.

[Illustration: The only way by which he could aid.]

“_Careful, Four!_” warned the cox.

Trevor steadied himself with a hand on the gunwale, brought his
reluctant body half erect, and then flung himself over the side. He
heard the coxswain’s voice for an instant:

“_Mind oars, Five and Seven!_”

Then the waters closed over his head.



CHAPTER XXVII

AT THE FINISH


“Bow side, raise your hands!” yelled the cox. “Get her level! Six,
throw more weight out-board. That’s better! Now hard, all! We can do it
yet!”

Dick, with dismay at heart, had seen the rival boat creep up and pass
them, and had listened despairingly to cox’s words:

“Four’s given out!”

Then came the command to Five to throw water over Trevor. Dick, not
daring to turn his head for an instant, rowed on desperately, watching
Keene’s face for any glimmer of hope that might show thereon.

“No use,” said cox presently in low tones. “He’s a goner! His oar’s
trailing. Hello! Easy now!”

Dick saw the light of hope creep into the other’s eyes.

“Mind oars, Five and Seven! Four’s gone over the side!”

And then Dick caught sight of a brown arm gleaming just under the
surface, and as he once more took up the stroke, far astern a dripping
head emerged, was visible for a moment, and again disappeared under the
dancing wavelets. Dick closed his eyes, an awful horror gripping him.
Trevor had gone down!

“Careful, Stroke! Take your time!” cautioned Keene.

Dick opened his eyes again and looked up the stream, and hope came to
him. One of the launches--it looked like the Terrible--had crossed
into the wakes of the shells. If Trevor only came up again! Dick cried
within him. And even while his thoughts took the form of a wild,
incoherent prayer he saw the launch circle to port and stop. And when
she once more swung about the sunlight glowed on a dripping crimson
shirt.

“Safe!” cried Dick aloud. Keene nodded and glanced anxiously ahead.
Dick with thankful heart tugged stoutly at his oar.

“Where are they?” he gasped.

“Three lengths ahead,” answered Keene. “We’re holding them now.” He
raised his voice. “Six, you’ve got to do two men’s work now! Long and
steady does it! Bow, you’re late! Steady all!”

The mile buoy was far astern. St. Eustace, rowing well at thirty-six,
was, as Keene had said, three lengths in the lead. Trevor’s dead
weight and dragging oar had given her her chance. Her crew had seen
the trouble in the Hillton shell, and, whatever their emotions were,
they were now confident of success, for a three-length lead and eight
oars to seven spelled victory for the Blue. The St. Eustace coxswain
glanced back over his shoulder and gave a command to the men. The
distance had not increased since the Crimson’s Number 4 had gone
overboard; that wouldn’t do. The blue-clad eight hit up their stroke.
But Keene had been watching and waiting. He would rather have had the
struggle come later, in the last half mile; but there was no help for
it.

“Now, fellows, ten hard ones and together! Swing out and use your legs!
One!... Two!... Three!...”

For the first time in the race the seven boys put every bit of weight
and muscle into their strokes. They all knew what the words meant; St.
Eustace, somewhere ahead there, was spurting and trying to draw away;
if she succeeded it was all up with them. Backs bent and sprang, slides
sped from stop to stop, arms and legs straightened and doubled until
muscles knotted like ropes beneath tanned skin, blades cleaved the
surface like ruddy knives and emerged yards distant to skim and flash
over the swirling, racing water for the next grip, breaths came in deep
gasps, and the shell flew forward, seeming rather to skim the surface
as a darting swallow skims the bosom of a pond, than to cleave the
glinting water.

“_Seven!... Eight!... Nine!... Ten!_” counted the coxswain. “Don’t
slacken! Keep her going! We’re gaining on them hand over fist! Hard,
all, hard, and use your legs for all that’s in ’em!”

And gaining they were. With seven oars instead of eight, with a boat
that listed plainly to bow-side, they were gaining! St. Eustace’s
coxswain looked back again; again shrieked to his crew. But this time
the response was not evident. They were doing their best. As the
beginning of the last half-mile was reached the voice of the bobbing
figure in the stern of the St. Eustace shell came to Dick’s ears, and
his heart leaped at the sound:

“_Hit her up! Hit her up! Hit her up!_”

Dick, his face streaming with perspiration, his hands burning on the
oar-handle, peeked out of the corners of his eyes to the left for
a glimpse of the screaming cox. But not yet. His boat was gaining,
swiftly, steadily, but three lengths is a long distance to cut down
with your rivals rowing at forty strokes to the minute.

“Lengthen out, Stroke!” called Keene.

The seven rowers steadied down and swung longer. The mile and one half
point was already far astern, and Keene could see the faces of the
crowds at the finish distinctly. For the first time since the start he
met Dick’s eyes and smiled. Then, and as it seemed to Dick, from almost
at his side, came a shrill cry:

“Eyes in the boat, Seven! Finish out, Six, finish out!”

It was the St. Eustace coxswain, and at the same moment a speck
trembled just within the field of Dick’s vision at the left. The
next instant it took shape; he could see the rival boat’s rudder, a
portion of the stern, with the steering lines white and gleaming in
the sunlight. They were almost even! He was conscious of a new sound,
quite distinct from the working of the slides, the rattle of the locks
and the rush of oars--a confused murmur that gradually took shape
and resolved itself into the cheering of human voices. Surely the
finish-line was at hand! He glanced at Keene. That youth, white beneath
the tan of his face, with perspiration standing upon his forehead in
little glistening beads, was looking straight ahead, with every thought
straining toward the goal.

“Now, once more, all!” screamed the St. Eustace coxswain. “Pick her up!
You’re not half rowing! Five, steady down! Four, you’re late, you’re
late! Row! Row!”

And then the little red-haired youth also crept into Dick’s sight; a
pale-faced, despairing figure, crouching there in the stern, bobbing
forward and back as though to hurl his boat across the line by his own
unaided efforts. One glance at his face brought a flood of joy to Dick!
St. Eustace was already beaten--and that white-faced cox knew it! In
the next minute a qualm of pity for the struggling opponents came to
him, only to be swallowed up in a great wave of triumph as he found
himself opposite to the St. Eustace stroke. The three lengths were gone
and the two boats were even at last!

The shouting from the shore was louder, and Dick could distinguish the
cheers of his schoolmates from the slogan of St. Eustace’s supporters.
But how he wished for the end! His breath seemed gone, and every
respiration shook his body from head to feet. The perspiration on his
face had turned to little drops of ice-water. The river danced and
wavered in his sight. His arms were like bars of lead, and his legs
from hips to toes seemed no longer connected with the upper portion of
him, but were dead, benumbed; he could have put his hand on the very
place where they had been cut off. Surely they were at the line now!
Surely it was time to get into the lead! He glanced appealingly at
Keene.

The latter drew the port rudder-line to him slowly for an inch. Then
he turned toward the speeding boat beside him and looked it over, up
and down; Two was splashing badly; Four was rolling on his seat like a
drunken man; Stroke was plainly worked out; his eyes met those of the
red-haired cox; the latter glared across at him vindictively. He turned
again and ran his eyes over his own boat: Bow was weakening, but still
steady; Six was struggling blindly with half-closed eyes; the balance
of the seven were still strong for that period of a two-mile race. He
looked ahead at the boats and the bridge above, dark with humanity.

“Two hundred yards!” shrieked the St. Eustace coxswain. “Now pick her
up! We’ve got the race if you’ll only take it! Stroke, for Heaven’s
sake, man, pick her up! Row!... Row!... Row!”

Two hundred yards! Dick looked at Keene; the latter nodded. Dick
rattled his hands away quickly.

“Hit her up all!” cried Keene. “Here’s the finish! Row now, row for
Hillton! We’ve got to win!”

“Now then, fellows!” gasped Dick. His blade went under for a hard,
desperate stroke, and the next moment seven bodies were straining at
the oars in a last, heroic endeavor.

“Well done, all! Keep it up! Keep it up! Once more! Well rowed,
fellows! Well rowed! We’re gaining! Use your legs! Well rowed!”

Keene’s voice arose loud and full of encouragement. From across the
little path of intervening water came the shrill reiterant appeals of
the other coxswain:

“Hard! Hard! We’ve got them! Keep going! Another stroke or two! Hard!
Row hard!”

The air was full of the cheers of the excited watchers and the blatant
screams of the whistles of surrounding craft. To Dick it was all a
confused babel of awful sound. He had closed his eyes, fearing to
see the rival boat slipping from sight. But now, gathering courage,
he looked. They were in a lane of assembled craft, from which arose
streams and clouds of steam; beyond the noisy gathering the river bank
was lined with moving throngs; beside him---- His heart sank; the
St. Eustace boat was gone! The little bobbing coxswain, the toiling
stroke oar, were no longer beside him! He looked despairingly at Keene;
something in the latter’s expression sent his glance beyond, and
joy rushed back to his heart. The rival boat was a length behind! He
closed his eyes again from sheer happiness, and tugged on at the oar.
The uproar was deafening, but suddenly, above it all, he heard the
coxswain’s voice:

“_Let her run!_”

       *       *       *       *       *

When he looked up again, raising his head from his hot, trembling
hands, he found to his surprise that his eyes were wet. They were in
shadow now, and he glanced up to find the arches of the bridge above
them. The noise was less. He blinked through wet lashes at Keene. The
latter was grinning happily, foolishly.

“Length and a quarter, about,” he said.

From the bridge overhead and from the throng beyond came cheers for
Hillton.



CHAPTER XXVIII

TREVOR IS COMFORTED


It was an hour short of sunset when Trevor awoke. The room was
darkened, but now and then the curtain at the open window was stirred
by the languorous breeze and admitted a broad bar of sunlight which
lengthened across the floor and was gone again as the curtain fell back
into place. The hotel was almost silent, though at intervals the hum of
voices came subduedly to the boy in the bed, and at times he caught the
clatter of dishes.

For many minutes he lay quiet. Everything was very peaceful and
soothing, and he closed his eyes once more, but only to reopen them as
his mind took up his work again. Where was he and how came he there?
It wasn’t his room at Hillton; this wasn’t his narrow iron bed; the
wall-paper was all wrong; the carpet was different, and the window
was entirely out of place. And then, too, it was much too big, this
high-ceilinged, square apartment. He raised himself on his elbow and
examined his surroundings. He was quite alone, but on a small table
beside him were two tumblers half full of something, a pitcher, two
silver spoons, and a watch.

He reached forth and drew the latter toward him. It was his own, and
its hands indicated twenty after six. His gaze roamed about the room
and fell upon a pair of canvas rowing shoes. Then memory returned,
and he sank back upon the pillow with a groan, closing his eyes and
moving his head restlessly from side to side as his thoughts went back
over the day’s events. He remembered the awful period in the boat; it
seemed now as he looked back upon it as though it must have been hours
and hours, though he knew that from the time of starting until he had
plunged into the river but five or six minutes could have elapsed; he
remembered a world of green, silent water about him, a brief glare of
blue sky and flashing sunlight, many faces bending above him, and then,
but very indistinctly, a man with gray mustaches who raised him up and
made him swallow something.

He was rather tired and listless now, but his headache was gone and
his fever had passed away, and--yes, he felt pretty well. Perhaps he
had best get up and dress himself; it would soon be time to return to
Hillton. If only some one would come and tell him. But of course no one
cared much about him now; how could they? It was natural that he should
be left alone, he who had lost the race for Hillton. He sighed and
clenched his hands above the white spread. What must they think of him?
His cheeks reddened at the thought of facing Dick and Kirk and all the
others. Of course, Dick would make light of it, and he was sure that
Kirk would carefully abstain from saying anything to hurt his feelings;
and perhaps the other fellows would be very decent about it. But in
their hearts they must hate him; it was only natural. He was glad that
the school year was almost over; perhaps next year it would be partly
forgotten; perhaps he needn’t return to Hillton at all!

Suddenly, from a little distance, came a sound of noisy laughter. He
frowned. How could any one laugh, he wondered indignantly. The thought
came to him that maybe some one down there had spoken his name, and he
felt his face burning hotly with shame. He turned over and laid his
head on his arm and closed his eyes wearily. He wished Muggins was
there. It was very still again. A long tremor shook him and he felt a
tiny scorching tear roll down his cheek. He brushed it away quickly,
but another took its place, and still another, and presently, while the
sunlight moved from the western window, he fell asleep again.

When next he woke the room was in twilight darkness, although the
curtain had been rolled away from the open window. There were two
figures by the little table, and he heard low voices:

“Is he awake?”

“I guess not. It’s time for his medicine, isn’t it?”

“Yes, shall I wake him?”

“I don’t know. Let’s wait a minute or two.”

The figures moved across the room and darkened the square of the
casement. Trevor laid very still; perhaps they would go away again if
he feigned sleep. He could hear them conversing softly, but couldn’t
distinguish their words because--because there was such a noise
outside! What was it? He could hear shouting and sometimes the blare
of a band. It must be at the front of the hotel. St. Eustace was
celebrating her victory probably, and Hillton’s defeat! He groaned and
tossed an arm despairingly. One of the figures turned and walked toward
him.

“Awake, Trevor?”

It was Dick’s voice. For a moment Trevor was silent; then he answered
with a sigh:

“Yes.”

The second figure came and leaned over him and he saw that it was Kirk.

“How are you feeling now, chum?” asked Dick, with all the old affection
in his voice. Trevor felt his eyes growing moist, and he had to gulp
twice before he could answer.

“All right, Dick; I think I can get up now.”

“Get up! Indeed, you’ll not. You’re to stay here to-night, and I’m
going to stay with you. The others are getting ready to go back now;
can you hear them?”

“Let’s see what the boy looks like,” said Kirk. “I’ll light the gas and
give him his medicine.”

“Don’t, please don’t!” cried Trevor. It was all so much easier in the
darkness.

“All right,” Kirk answered cheerfully. “I dare say it would hurt your
eyes. But here’s the stuff. Open your mouth.”

Trevor obeyed, and after several misadventures the medicine was
administered. Dick had seated himself on the side of the bed and had
taken one of the other lad’s hands in his own.

“Trevor.”

“Yes?”

“A length and a third, old chap!”

Trevor sighed, and then, “I--I suppose it might have been worse, Dick?”

“Worse?” cried Dick. “What are you talking about? Why, we’re awfully
proud of it, every one of us! Aren’t we, Mr. Kirk?”

“Yes, and we have good cause, I think. It was magnificent!”

“And, Trevor,” went on Dick in tones so full of happiness that Trevor
wondered, “all the fellows want you to hurry up and get well; and we
all cheered you at dinner till the plaster nearly fell on us!”

“Cheered me!” whispered Trevor. “Cheered me, Dick? Do you mean--do you
mean that they--that you all forgive me?”

“Forgive you? What for? Because you were the pluckiest of any of us and
did the brainiest sort of thing when you jumped overboard?”

“Because--oh, Dick, don’t you see? If I hadn’t been so bull-headed it
wouldn’t have happened; if I’d owned up that I wasn’t feeling well
you could have put another fellow in. But I heard Mr. Kirk telling
about some fellow who had the fever and how it left him at noon; and
I thought mine would, too; and so I went ahead, and--and it didn’t
go away, but got worse every minute; I was all silly in my head.
And--don’t you see, Dick, if I’d done right we wouldn’t have been
beaten?”

There was a moment’s silence. Then--

“He doesn’t know!” said Kirk softly.

“By Jove!” whispered Dick. “Of course he doesn’t; how could he?
Thunder, how stupid of me!” He laughed softly, happily. “Trevor, old
chap, we weren’t beaten! Don’t you understand? We won!”

There was a second brief silence. Then--

“Won!” breathed Trevor, incredulously.

“Yes, by a length and a third. I told you, don’t you remember? But you
didn’t understand.”

“You--you’re just saying it to--to make me feel better,” doubted Trevor.

“No, honestly, chum; we won. Mr. Kirk will tell you.”

“Yes, Nesbitt, we won finely; there’s no doubt about that. Listen.”

From below, through the open window, came the martial strains of a
band; Trevor recognized the tune; it was “Hilltonians.” And then,
faintly but distinctly, came a hoarse voice:

“Now, fellows! Once more! Three times three for Hillton!”

The music was blotted out by a mighty cheer that arose to the starlit
sky in a roar of triumph. Trevor was glad of the darkness, for there
were tears in his eyes that threatened every moment to overflow; but
they were tears of happiness, and somehow those didn’t count.

“And--and they don’t mind that I--that I did what I did?” whispered
Trevor. “They don’t hate me for it, Dick?”

“Hate you!” cried Dick. “Hark!”

Through the casement, a gray rectangle of twilight, the strained voice
of the leader again floated:

“Now, fellows! Fellows! Once more for Nesbitt, and all together!
One--two----”

And while the hoarse, joyful cheers responded, and the bass-drum
thumped triumphantly, Trevor, with his hand tightly clasped in Dick’s,
laid his head back very contentedly upon the pillow.


                                THE END



BY RALPH HENRY BARBOUR


The New Boy at Hilltop

Illustrated in Colors, Ornamental Cloth Cover with Inlay in Colors,
12mo, $1.50.

The story of a boy’s experiences at boarding school. The first chapter
describes his arrival and reception by the others. The remaining
chapters tell of his life on the football field, on the crew, his
various scrapes and fights, school customs and school entertainments.
His experiences are varied and cover nearly all the incidents of
boarding school life.


Winning His “Y”

Illustrated in Colors, 12mo, Decorated Cloth Cover, $1.50.

The scene of this story is Yardley Hall, the school made famous in
“Double Play” and “Forward Pass!”; and we meet again the manly,
self-reliant Dan Vinton, his young friend Gerald Pennimore, and many
others of the “old boys” whose athletic achievements and other doings
have been so entertainingly chronicled by Mr. Barbour. The new story
is thus slightly connected with its predecessors, but will be fully as
interesting to a boy who has not read them as if it were not.


Double Play

Illustrated in Colors, 12mo, Cloth, $1.50.

Further experiences of Dan Vinton--hero of “Forward Pass!”--at Yardley
Hall. He becomes in a way the mentor of the millionaire’s son, Gerald
Pennimore, who enters the school. There is the description of an
exciting baseball game, and the stratagem by which the wily coach,
Payson, puts some ginger into an overtrained squad and develops from it
a winning team will appeal to every boy.


Forward Pass!

Illustrated in Colors, 12mo, Cloth, $1.50.

In his new story, Mr. Barbour returns to the field of his earlier and
more successful stories, such as “The Half-Back,” “Captain of the
Crew,” etc. The main interest in “Forward Pass!” centers about the
“new” football; the story is, nevertheless, one of preparatory-school
life and adventures in general. The book contains several illustrations
and a number of diagrams of the “new” football plays. Mr. Barbour
considers this his best story.


The Spirit of the School

The Story of a Boy Who Works His Way through School. Illustrated in
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Four Afloat

Four Afoot

Four in Camp

A Series of Books Relating the Adventures of Four Boy Companions.
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On Your Mark!

A Story of College Life and Athletics. Illustrated in Colors by C. M.
RELYEA. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

No other author has caught so truly the spirit of school and college
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The Arrival of Jimpson

Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

Stories of college pranks, baseball, football, hockey, and college life.


Weatherby’s Inning

A Story of College Life and Baseball. Illustrated in Colors by C. M.
RELYEA. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

A fascinating story of college life and sport.


Behind the Line

A Story of School and Football. Illustrated by C. M. RELYEA. 12mo.
Cloth, $1.50.


Captain of the Crew

Illustrated by C. M. RELYEA. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

A fresh, graphic, delightful story that appeals to all healthy boys and
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For the Honor of the School

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RELYEA. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.


The Half-Back

Illustrated by B. WEST CLINEDINST. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

“It is in every sense an out-and-out boys’ book.”--_Boston Herald._


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Junior Days

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A third story by the author of “Butt Chanler, Freshman,” and “The New
Sophomore,” in which the heroes of those stories are again in evidence
with other and new characters of equal interest. In his latest story,
Mr. Hamilton takes up the life of upper classmen. The story has all of
the close knowledge of life at college and in a small college town that
has marked Mr. Hamilton’s former books, and there is also a wider and
broader view befitting his older characters as they come in contact
with the bigger world outside.


The New Sophomore

Illustrated in Colors. Inlay in Colors on Cover, 12mo, Cloth, $1.50.

The story of Butt Chanler’s sophomore year, but with a new member of
Butt’s class for hero. Plot counts more than in the former story; for a
strong detective interest centers around a statue of a river goddess,
hidden by one class while the other attempts to find and capture it.
The hero, after accidentally putting the “enemy” on the trail of the
goddess, finally saves her by his ingenuity.


Butt Chanler, Freshman

Illustrated in Colors, 12mo, Decorated Cloth, $1.50.

“Butt” Chanler is a freshman, and the story begins with the first days
of fall term and extending through one of the most successful baseball
seasons the college has ever known. There are all the events of a
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look back upon.


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK



BIOGRAPHIES FOR YOUNG READERS


Lewis Carroll

By BELLE MOSES, author of “Louisa May Alcott.” A rare Portrait of Lewis
Carroll as a young man as Frontispiece. Small 12mo, Cloth, $1.25 net.

This is a very charming biography of the man who wrote “Alice in
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sympathetic an account of an interesting woman, has in her new book
written what is, perhaps, the best and most spontaneous account ever
published of a man of the most interesting personality and genius.
There is more here than has ever elsewhere appeared of the younger days
of Lewis Carroll, while Miss Moses’s imaginative sympathy has made a
most enthusiastic history of the better-known period of the career of
the author of “Alice in Wonderland.”


Louisa May Alcott

By BELLE MOSES. 12mo, Cloth, Illustrated, $1.25 net.

This is an admirable story of the childhood and womanhood of the
celebrated author of “Little Women,” told with especial reference to
girl readers. Miss Moses has excellently caught the beautiful home
spirit of the Alcotts’s family circle, and this biography is not only
charmingly written but is in every way an authoritative account of the
interesting life of Miss Alcott and the New England scenes in which her
days were spent. It has been Miss Moses’s desire to give an intimate
picture of the home life of her heroine, her development of character,
and the influence upon her of the famous band of New England men and
women who made Concord and Boston centers of intellectual growth.


Florence Nightingale

By LAURA E. RICHARDS. Illustrated with a Frontispiece Portrait of Miss
Nightingale. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25 net.

The life of this wonderful and justly beloved woman, “The Angel of
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confirming Miss Nightingale in her determination to devote her life
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word, the precise nature and scope of her work and the difficulties
and discouragement under which it was accomplished are unknown to many
children of the present generation.


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK



BY JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER


The Riflemen of the Ohio

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The fourth in the series, and the best of this author’s frontier Indian
tales. In this story Mr. Altsheler has again conducted his now famous
band of hunters and scouts over ground made historically celebrated
by warfare and ambuscades in the early days of our pioneer life. The
book is full of thrilling incidents and episodes, Indian seizure and
torture, Indian customs in war and peace, and the graphic narration of
decisive battles fought along the Ohio.


The Free Rangers

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The exciting journey down the Mississippi to New Orleans of five young
woodsmen, some of whose adventures were told in “The Forest Runners,”
to interview the Spanish Governor-General. After many struggles with a
renegade, their old enemy, Braxton Wyatt, and a traitorous Spaniard,
Alvarez, they accomplish their object and are later largely responsible
for the safe voyage of a supply fleet from New Orleans to Kentucky.


The Forest Runners

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This story deals with the further adventures of the two young woodsmen
in the history of Kentucky who were the heroes of “The Young Trailers.”
The plot describes the efforts of the boys to bring a consignment of
powder to a settlement threatened by the Indians. The book is full of
thrills to appeal to every boy who loves a good story.


The Young Trailers

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A boys’ story, telling of the first settlers in Kentucky. Their
pleasures and hardships, their means of protection, methods of
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The Last of the Chiefs

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Two white boys join a caravan crossing the plains. After an ambuscade,
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D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK



HISTORY AND ADVENTURE


On the Trail of Washington

By FREDERICK TREVOR HILL, author of “Lincoln the Lawyer,” “The Story
of a Street,” etc. Six Color Pictures by Arthur E. Becher, many other
Illustrations. Square 8vo. Ornamental Cloth Cover, $1.50 net.

Mr. Hill, who is known as an absolutely accurate, authentic writer
of American history and biography, has planned this book to give in
interesting, readable form, suitable for young boys and girls, an
accurate account of George Washington, not as a dignified President
of the United States, but first as a child in his home, then as a boy
in his adventurous surveying expeditions, and finally as a young man
fighting with and later commanding troops in the American Revolution.


The Red Caps of Lyons

By HERBERT HAYENS. Illustrated, 12mo, Cloth, $1.50.

The scene is Lyons at the outbreak of the French Revolution. The father
of the young hero is accused of being in sympathy with the aristocrats,
whence come innumerable perilous situations which are turned to the
boy’s advantage by his own ingenuity and coolness. An important
feature of the book is that any child who reads the story, while
being thoroughly interested in the plot, will also get an excellent,
authentic picture of the French Revolution.


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK



 Transcriber’s Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 --Except for the frontispiece, illustrations have been moved to
   follow the text that they illustrate, so the page number of the
   illustration may not match the page number in the List of
   Illustrations.

 --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 and long dash styles have been retained.





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+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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