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Title: Right Tackle Todd
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.

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                           RIGHT TACKLE TODD



THE FOOTBALL ELEVEN BOOKS

BY

RALPH HENRY BARBOUR


  LEFT END EDWARDS
  LEFT TACKLE THAYER
  LEFT GUARD GILBERT
  CENTER RUSH ROWLAND
  FULL-BACK FOSTER
  QUARTER-BACK BATES
  LEFT HALF HARMON
  RIGHT END EMERSON
  RIGHT GUARD GRANT
  RIGHT TACKLE TODD



[Illustration: He felt rather tired, very happy and--extremely
foolish.]



                             RIGHT TACKLE
                                 TODD


                                  BY
                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

                               AUTHOR OF
                           LEFT END EDWARDS,
                           FULL BACK FOSTER,
                        RIGHT GUARD GRANT, ETC.


                            ILLUSTRATED BY
                             LESLIE CRUMP


                            [Illustration]


                           GROSSET & DUNLAP
                       PUBLISHERS      NEW YORK

                 Made in the United States of America



                           Copyright, 1924,
                    By DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, Inc.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                              PAGE
      I “DIFFERENT”                      1
     II JIM TODD QUITS                  13
    III ON THE ICE                      25
     IV CLEM GETS A LETTER              36
      V A NEW TERM BEGINS               49
     VI JIM REPORTS                     64
    VII OFF-SIDE                        76
   VIII JIM BUYS A FOOTBALL             89
     IX EXPERTS IN CONFERENCE          102
      X JIM ASKS A LOAN                118
     XI THE ART OF LINE PLAYING        128
    XII AT THE POLICE STATION          139
   XIII MR. WEBB TODD                  156
    XIV IN THE JUDGE’S CHAMBER         170
     XV LOWELL IS WORRIED              184
    XVI JIM DABBLES IN STRATEGY        200
   XVII ALTON MEETS WITH DISASTER      215
  XVIII THE REVERSE PASS               229
    XIX FULL-BACK TO RIGHT TACKLE      244
     XX CLEM DELIVERS A LETTER         255
    XXI ALTON VS. KENLY HALL           267
   XXII THE BANDAGED HAND              277



ILLUSTRATIONS


  He felt rather tired, very happy and--extremely
      foolish                                           _Frontispiece_

                                                                  PAGE
  We lost most of the team last June                                52

  It’s rotten to know that there’s a thief in the dormitory        144

  Jim dropped to a knee, struggled erect again and
      again advanced                                               288



RIGHT TACKLE TODD



CHAPTER I

“DIFFERENT”


“Stereotyped,” said Martin Gray. “That’s the word!” He spoke
triumphantly, as one will when a moment’s search for the proper term
has been rewarded. “Stereotyped, Clem!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” replied his room-mate, only mildly interested in
Mart’s subject. “Of course they do look pretty much alike--”

“It isn’t only their looks, though. But, come to think of it, that’s
another proof of my--er--contention. Hang it, Clem, if they weren’t all
alike as so many--er--beans--”

“Don’t you mean peas?” asked Clement Harland, grinning.

“Beans,” continued Mart emphatically. “They wouldn’t all wear the same
things, would they?”

“Don’t see that, Mart. After all, a chap’s simply got to follow the
jolly old style, eh?”

“Not if he has any--er--individuality! No, sir! I saw fifty at least
of the new class arrive yesterday, and except that sometimes one was
shorter or taller or fatter than the others, you could have sworn
they were all from the same town. Yes, sir, and the same street! Same
clothes, same hats, same shoes, same--”

“Well, after all, why not? Besides, after they’ve been here awhile they
develop different--as you’d say--‘er--characteristics.’ What if the
kids do look alike when they first come?”

“But you don’t get the--er--the idea at all!” protested Martin. “What
I’m trying to get at--”

“Is that Alton Academy attracts a certain type of fellow and doesn’t
get enough freaks to suit you.”

“Freaks be blowed! I don’t want freaks, I want new blood, something
different now and then. You know as well as I do that new blood is
what--”

“You’ve got the ‘melting pot’ idea, eh?”

“Yes, I guess so. Why not? Look at the other schools; some of ’em,
anyway: Dexter, Dover--”

“Croton?”

“I said some of ’em. Take Dexter now.”

“I refuse.”

“Look at the--er--variety of fellows that go there. What’s the result?”

“Why, the result is that they manage to beat Dover pretty often at
football, but I always thought that coach of theirs had a good deal to
do with that!”

“Shucks, I’m not talking about athletics, although that’s a pretty
good test, too. What I mean is that it’s the school that draws its
enrollment from all over the country and from all--er--classes that
does the biggest things; and that’s the most use, too.”

“I don’t believe it,” answered Mart. “It’s the school itself, its
policy, its traditions that count. You might have every state in the
Union--”

“Oh, that, of course, but I say that a student body composed of a lot
of totally different types--”

“All right, but how are you going to get them?”

“Reach out for ’em! How do other schools get ’em?”

“Search me, old son! Maybe they advertise in the papers; Dakotas, New
Mexico, Florida, Hawaii--”

“Sure! Why not! This school’s in danger of--er--dry-rot, Clem! Four
hundred or so fellows all alike, speaking the same language--”

“I should hope so!”

“Thinking the same thoughts, having the same views on every subject.
Gosh, can’t you see that you and I don’t get as much out of it as if
we could rub up against something different now and then? Wouldn’t
it be refreshing to find a fellow who didn’t think just as we think
about everything, who didn’t wear exactly the same kind of clothes, who
didn’t think the sun rose and set in New England?”

“But the sun does rise and set in New England,” objected Clem. “I’ve
seen it.”

“Oh, shut up! You know what I mean. Wouldn’t it?”

Clem considered a moment. Then he shook his head doubtfully. “You
should have gone to Kenly Hall, Mart,” he answered. “They have all
kinds there, the whole fifty-seven varieties.”

“Yes, and they’re better off for it. Of course it’s the proper thing
for us to make fun of Kenly, but you know mighty well that it’s
every bit as good a school as Alton; maybe better in some ways. But
Kenly isn’t much different from us. They get about the same lot year
after year, just as we do. One year’s freshman class looks just like
last year’s. Maybe they do get an occasional outsider. Quite a few
middle-west chaps go there. But mostly they draw them from right around
this part of the country, as we do. Gee, I’d certainly like to see,
just for once, a fellow turn up here who didn’t look as if he’d been
cast in the same mold with all the others!”

“You’re getting all worked up about nothing, old son,” said Clem
soothingly. “You mustn’t do it. It always upsets you so you can’t eat
your meals, and it’s only half an hour to supper.”

“If you weren’t so blamed stubborn--”

“Shut up a minute! Hello! Come in!”

The door of Number 15 opened slowly until the more dimly lighted
corridor was revealed through a narrow aperture and a voice said:
“Excuse me, please, but is this where the fellow that hires the
football players lives?”

From where Martin sat the owner of the voice was hidden, and so he
could not account for the radiant grin that enveloped his room-mate’s
countenance for an instant.

“I didn’t get it,” said Clem, politely apologetic. “Won’t you come in?”
His face was sober again, unnaturally sober in the judgment of Martin
Gray.

“Well,” said the unseen speaker doubtfully. Then the door again began
its cautious passage across the old brown carpet, and Mart understood
Clem’s grin.

The youth who now stood revealed to Mart’s astounded gaze was little
short of six feet tall, it seemed. In age he might have been anywhere
from sixteen to twenty, with eighteen as a likely compromise. He was
attired neatly but, it appeared, uncomfortably in a suit of dark gray
which fitted him too loosely across the shoulders and too abruptly at
the ankles, its deficiency at the latter point exposing to Mart’s
fascinated eyes a pair of wrinkled woolen socks of sky-blue. The low
shoes were not extraordinary, but there was something deliciously
quaint about the collar, with its widely parted corners, and the pale
blue satin tie that failed to hide the brass collar-stud. Even the hat,
a black Alpine shape, struck a note of originality, possibly because
it was a full size too small and was poised so precariously atop a
thickish mass of tumbled hair that seemed not yet to have decided just
what shade of brown to assume. Clem coughed delicately and asked: “You
were looking for some one?”

“Guess I’ve got the wrong place,” said the stranger, his first
embarrassment increasing at the discovery of Mart beyond the door’s
edge. “The fellow I’m looking for is the one who hires--well, takes on
the football players. Guess he’s the manager, ain’t he?”

“Possibly,” answered Clem, turning to Mart with an inquiring glance.
“What do you think?”

Martin took his cue promptly. “Or, maybe the coach,” he suggested. “You
don’t know his name?”

The stranger shook his head. He held firmly to the outer knob of the
door, resting his shoulders against the edge of it as he frowned in
an effort of memory. “I heard it,” he replied, “but I forget what it
was. He said I was to see him between five and six about me getting on
the football team and I thought he said he lived in Number 15 in Lykes
Hall, but--”

“Well, you see, this isn’t--”

But Clem interrupted Mart swiftly. “Sit down, won’t you?” he asked,
smiling hospitably. “I dare say we can thresh out the mystery. And you
might shove that door too, if you don’t mind. Thanks.”

The stranger closed the door as slowly as he had opened it, removed
his hat and advanced gingerly to the chair that Clem’s foot had deftly
thrust toward him. He gave them the impression of having attained his
growth so suddenly as to be a little uncertain about managing it. He
lowered himself almost cautiously into the chair, placing two rather
large feet closely together and holding his hat firmly by its creased
crown with both hands, hands generously proportioned, darkly tanned and
extremely clean. He looked about the room and then back to Clem, while
a slow smile radiated the long, somewhat plain face.

“You fellows got it right nice here,” he ventured.

“Like it?” asked Clem in a more friendly tone. The stranger’s smile had
transformed him on the instant from a queer, almost uncouth figure to
something quite human and likable. “Yes, it isn’t a bad room. Where do
you hang out? By the way, you didn’t mention your name, did you?”

“Todd’s my name. My room’s over in Haylow; Number 33. A fellow named
Judson and I have it together. It ain’t like this, though. Not so big,
for one thing, and then the ceiling comes down, over there like, and I
keep hitting my head on it.”

Mart laughed. “They didn’t build you for one of those third floor
rooms, Todd.”

The slow smile came again and the gray eyes twinkled, and the visitor
relaxed a little in the straight chair. “Gosh, I started to grow
last year and it looks like I can’t stop. I didn’t use to be such an
ungainly cuss.”

“I wouldn’t let that bother me,” returned Mart. “You’ll fill out pretty
soon, I dare say. How tall are you?”

Todd shook his head. “I ain’t measured lately,” he acknowledged a
trifle sheepishly. “Been scared to. Pop says if I don’t stop pretty
soon it won’t be safe for me to go out in the woods less’n some one
might mistake me for a tree and put an ax to me!”

“Where’s your home?” asked Clem, with a side glance at his room-mate.

“Four Lakes, Maine. At least, we don’t live right in the village, but
that’s our postoffice address. We live about three miles north, up the
Ludic road. You ever been around there?”

It seemed that they hadn’t, but once started Todd was not averse to
supplying personal information. Clem fancied that Judson, whoever he
might be, had not proved a sympathetic listener and that Todd was
heartily glad to find some one to talk to. His father had a store, it
seemed, and was also interested in timber lands and numerous other
interests. There was a large family of children of which the present
representative was the senior member. He had been going to school at
Four Lakes until last Spring.

“I was set on going to college, you see, and I thought I’d learned
enough, but I went down to Lewiston and talked with a fellow down there
and he said I’d better go to a preparatory school for a couple of years
first. I asked where and he said this place. So I came down here. Seems
like he might have said some place nearer home, but I guess it don’t
matter. This looks like a right nice school. I guess you fellows are
seniors, aren’t you?”

“Juniors,” corrected Clem. “I suppose you’re one of us, Todd.”

“I guess so. I ain’t heard for sure yet. They started me off as a
junior, though.”

“Oh, you’ll make it,” declared Mart. “So you’re going to play football,
eh?”

“Oh, I don’t know.” Todd smiled embarrassedly. “I ain’t ever yet, but
this fellow I was looking for stopped me this morning and asked if I
was going to and I said no, and then he asked didn’t I want to and I
said I didn’t know if I did or not, and he said for me to come and see
him between five and six o’clock and we’d talk about it. He said what
his name was, but I forget. I think he said he managed the players.”

“He didn’t,” inquired Clem very innocently, “mention what position he
thought you’d fill best on the team?”

Todd’s gray eyes twinkled again. “No, he didn’t, but I guess maybe one
of the posts at the end of the field’s got broken and he’s looking for
a new one.”

“I think it must have been Dolf Chapin you saw,” said Mart, smiling at
Clem’s slight discomfiture. “He’s--”

“That’s the name,” declared Todd with relief. “Where’s his room,
please?”

“He’s in 15 Lykes.”

“Well, isn’t this--” Then Todd’s countenance proclaimed understanding
and he chuckled. “Gosh, I went right by it, didn’t I? I was over at
that building where they have the library--”

“Memorial,” said Mart.

“And meant to stop at the first building after I came off that path
that comes from there. Instead of that I got right back in my own
house, didn’t I? I ain’t got this place learned very well yet. Well,
I’m much obliged to you. Maybe I’ll see you again. My name, like I told
you, is Todd, Jim Todd.” He arose and offered a big hand to Clem and
then to Mart.

“Glad to have met you, Todd,” responded Clem, spreading his fingers
experimentally after the crushing grip they had sustained. “My name’s
Harland, and this is Gray. Drop in again some time, won’t you? I’d like
mighty well to hear how you get along with football.”

“Well, I ain’t so sure I’ll play it,” answered Todd from the doorway,
frowning a little. “I guess playing games sort of interferes with a
fellow’s school work, and what I’ve seen of the courses they’ve got me
down for makes me think I’ll have to do some tall studying. I’m glad to
have met you, and maybe I might come in and see you again some time.”

“Do that,” said Clem earnestly.

Then the door closed slowly but decidedly and Clem and Mart dropped
back into their chairs. After a moment Clem said: “Looks to me like
your prayer was answered, Mart.”

“Well, he’s only one, but he’s a hopeful sign.”

Clem chuckled softly. “You and Todd ought to get along pretty well
together,” he continued. “You wanted something different, and there
you have it. At least, he doesn’t wear clothes like the rest of us;
he’s no slave to Fashion, old son. Maybe he won’t mind telling you
where he buys his togs, eh?”

“Some way,” answered Mart, “it doesn’t seem quite fair to make fun of
him. There was something awfully decent about the chap, in spite of his
clothes and his--er--queer appearance.”

“That’s true, and I wasn’t really making fun. Only--” Clem interrupted
himself with a laugh. “Say, isn’t it just like Chapin to try to round
that fellow up for the football squad? Honest, Mart, if a one-legged
fellow showed up here and Dolf saw him he wouldn’t be happy until he
had him out on the field!”

“At that,” replied Mart, as he arose to prepare for supper, “Jim Todd
might be a blamed sight better player than some of those cripples who
lost the game last year for us! I noticed that your delicate sarcasm
was trumped very neatly by our recent guest, old timer!”

“Yes,” Clem acknowledged, “that’s so. I fancy our friend James isn’t
such a fool as his hat makes him out!”



CHAPTER II

JIM TODD QUITS


The occupants of Number 15 Haylow didn’t see anything more of Jim Todd
for a while. In fact, he had nearly gone from their memories when Clem
collided with him at the entrance to the dormitory one day in late
October. Jim only said “Hello” and would have gone by, but something
prompted Clem to renew the acquaintance.

“Well, how do you like things now that you’ve been with us awhile,
Todd?” he asked.

“Fine, thanks. I’m getting on real well.”

“Good! By the way, you never paid that next call, you know. Gray and I
have been wondering about you.” That was more flattering than truthful
perhaps. “Still playing football, or did you decide not to go in for
the manly pastime?”

Jim smiled. “Well, I’m still on the squad,” he said, “but I don’t do
very well at that game. Guess I’ll be quitting this week. It’s pretty
hard, and it takes a good deal of a fellow’s time, too.”

“Well, if they’ve kept you all this time you’ll probably last the
season out,” responded Clem, not a little surprised.

But Jim Todd shook his head. “I guess I’ll be getting through pretty
soon,” he said firmly.

“Well, drop in and see us again, anyway.” Clem hurried on to a
recitation, wondering most of the way to Academy Hall why he had
renewed the invitation. Nothing came of it for nearly a fortnight,
however. Then, late one afternoon, Mr. James Todd knocked and entered.
Six weeks had somewhat altered his appearance, and he looked far less
“different.” He was still the same tall, loose-jointed chap, but he
wore a gray sweater and a pair of old blue trousers and no hat, and
so much of his oddity was missing. He was, too, more at ease on this
occasion, and settled his long length back in the Morris chair that
Clem indicated without his former hesitation. Presently, in the course
of conversation, Mart observed:

“I’ve been looking for you on the football team, Todd, but I missed
you. Still, it’s hard to recognize your friends under those leather
domes you fellows wear. You didn’t get into the Mount Millard game, did
you?”

“I ain’t been in any of them,” answered Jim. “I ain’t much of a
football player.”

“Oh, well, you’ve got two chances yet,” replied Mart cheeringly. “Maybe
Cade is keeping you back for the Kenly Hall game.”

“I quit last week,” said Jim simply.

“Quit? You mean--er--is that so?” floundered Mart. “Well, maybe next
year--”

“It was pretty hard work,” added Jim Todd. “Pretty wearing. I got tired
of it finally. Mr. Cade and me had a sort of argument about it, but I
told him I wouldn’t ever make a football man and that I had sort of got
behind with my studies and he let me go finally. I like him. He got
sort of mad with me, but I guess he’s over it by now.”

Clem and Mart exchanged glances that indicated puzzlement. “You mean,”
asked Clem at last, “that you resigned? You weren’t fired off?”

“No, I just quit,” answered Jim untroubledly. “You see, it’s like this,
Harland. Most of the fellows in the squad had played football before.
Some of them have been at it two or three years, likely. It was new to
me. Of course I’d seen fellows playing it, you know; they had a sort of
a team at the school I went to back home; but it never interested me
much and I never thought I’d care to try it. Well, I was pretty green
when I started off and I had a lot to learn. Guess I didn’t learn very
well, either. Seems like I was pretty stupid about it. Mr. Cade said
I didn’t put my mind on it, but I don’t think that was so. Guess the
trouble was I didn’t get real interested in it. He told me that if I
worked hard this Fall I’d likely get to play next year. He tried to
make an end of me, but I never got good enough to play in any of the
games. I just sat on that bench out there at the field and looked on.
They keep you on the field two hours every afternoon; sometimes longer
than that; and I could see I was just wasting my time. I kept saying so
to Dolf Chapin, but he said I wasn’t, that I was learning and that it
was my duty to stick it out. So I did till last week. Then I decided
I’d better quit. So I quit.”

“I see,” said Mart dryly. “And Johnny Cade? I suppose he had something
to say, Todd.”

“Yes, he said a whole lot,” answered Jim soberly. “Looked once like
I’d have to paste him in the jaw, the way he was talking, but I didn’t
because I knew he didn’t mean all he said. He was sort of upset, I
guess.”

“Sounds to me as if you were a more valuable man than you realized,”
said Clem.

“No, I guess I wasn’t very valuable, really. I guess these football
coaches like to have their own way pretty well.”

“Well,” said Mart, laughing, “I’ll bet you’ve earned the distinction of
being one of the few fellows that ever _resigned_ from the squad! No
wonder Cade was grumpy! He’s not used to that!”

There followed another lapse in the acquaintanceship. Clem and Mart
caught glimpses of Jim Todd in class room and dining hall; infrequently
passed him on the campus; sometimes exchanged greetings by word or
sign. The Kenly Hall game came and went, bringing the football season
to a disappointingly inconclusive end. Beaten the year before, Alton
tried desperately to wreak vengeance, but, although her players and
her game were infinitely superior to those of the preceding season,
Kenly Hall, too, showed improvement, and at the final whistle the score
stood just where it had stood at the end of the first half, at 7 to 7.
Each team had scored one touchdown and followed it with a clean goal.
Each team, too, had narrowly failed of a second score, Kenly Hall when
a forward-pass over the goal-line had been tipped but not caught and
Alton when a fourth down on the enemy’s four-yard line had gained but
one foot of the necessary two. Both touchdowns had resulted from long
runs, a Kenly Hall quarter-back bringing glory to the Cherry-and-Black
by a thirty-four-yard dash around the opponent’s left and “Cricket”
Menge, left half on the Gray-and-Gold team, evening things up a few
minutes later by wrapping himself about a lateral pass and dodging and
twirling his way over eleven white lines to a score.

After the first disappointment, Alton Academy, viewing the result more
calmly and fairly, came to the conclusion that her gridiron warriors
had gained more glory than had been thus far accorded them. Both Kenly
Hall coach and captain had stated publicly that the team which had met
Alton was the best eleven that had represented the Cherry-and-Black
in six years, and if that was so--and certainly Alton Academy had no
reason to doubt it!--then Captain Grant’s team--“‘General’ Grant’s
Army” the football song called it--had secured a virtual victory in
spite of the score. Careful analysis of the contest added strength
to that verdict, for the records showed that Alton had outrushed her
opponent by thirty-two yards, gained two more first downs than her
ancient enemy had secured and had had slightly the better of the
kicking argument. So on Monday night there was a delayed, but intensely
enthusiastic, mass meeting in the auditorium and honor was done to the
heroes. Everybody spoke who had any right to, and a few who hadn’t,
and there was much singing and a great deal of cheering. Clem and
Mart, neither of them football enthusiasts, attended the celebration,
as in duty bound, and ended by cheering quite as loudly as any. The
testimonial had one result that the school in general never learned of.
It decided a wavering Athletic Committee in favor of renewing Coach
“Johnny” Cade’s contract, which terminated that Fall, for another two
seasons. Prior to seven-thirty that Monday evening his last two years’
record of one defeat and one tie, even when balanced against previous
success, had looked more than black to the Committee. At nine o’clock
it was viewing that record more leniently. And on Wednesday Coach Cade
departed with a new contract in his trunk.

When Clem came back to school after Christmas he found a package
awaiting him in the mail box. Opened, it revealed a long, flat box of
small cubes wrapped in pink tissue paper. Investigation proved the
cubes to be spruce gum. There was also a scrawling enclosure from Jim
Todd. “Wishing you a Merry Christmas,” Clem read. “This is the real
thing. Hope you like it. I’m sending it to Alton because I don’t know
where you are. Give some to Gray. Yours, J. T.”

Mart declared that he detested gum and wouldn’t chew the stuff on a
bet, but after watching Clem’s jaws rhythmically champing for some
ten minutes he perjured himself and was soon as busy as his chum. Two
days later, suffering from lame jaws after almost continuous chewing
during waking hours, Clem seized the box, now half empty, and consigned
it to the depths of the waste basket. “The pesky stuff!” he grumbled.
“First thing we know we’ll have the habit!” Mart, one hand raised in
protest, recognized the wisdom of the course and observed the sacrifice
in silence. During the rest of that day he chewed scraps of paper torn
from the corners of note-books. However, they lacked the insidious
fascination of spruce gum and he gave them up and was cured. Of course
they thanked Jim heartily a few days later, when he dropped in one
afternoon, offering as conclusive evidence of their appreciation the
fact that the supply was exhausted. Jim promptly promised to write to
his father and get him to send some more. Perhaps he forgot it, for the
new supply never reached Number 15 Haylow.

It is possible that absorption in new interests was accountable for
Jim’s failure to make good on that promise, for it was shortly after
that that Mart brought word of the Maine Society. Neither he nor Clem
was eligible to membership, but that didn’t detract from their interest
in the Society which, as Mart had heard it from Sam Newson, had been
started by Jim Todd and already, while still less than a fortnight
old, had a membership of nine. The school already possessed a Southern
Club and a Western Society, but a social organization restricted to
residents of a single state in attendance at Alton was something new
and, like most innovations, it came in for some ridicule. The notice
board in Academy Hall fairly blossomed with calls for members of
similar societies. Some one named Henry Clay Calhoun, which may or
may not have been a cognomen assumed for the occasion, invited other
residents of South Carolina to meet in Number 14 Borden to effect the
organization of “The South Carolina Society of Alton Academy, Devoted
to the Abolishment of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution and
to a Campaign of Education and Enlightenment among the Beknighted
Citizens of Northern States.” As Borden Hall was restricted to
freshmen, the authenticity of the invitation was questionable. The
same was true of a summons to resident Hawaiians, while a document
phrased in pidgin English and summoning all Chinese students at Alton
to meet in the school laundry and enter their names on the roster of
“The Chinese Tong” was even more palpably insincere. But ridicule
seemed just what the Maine Society required, for a fortnight later it
changed its name to the Maine-and-Vermont Society and increased its
membership to thirty-one. A fellow named Tupper became president of the
reorganized club and James Todd was secretary and treasurer. Meetings
were held weekly in the rooms of various members at first, and then,
securing faculty recognition, the Society was assigned the use of a
room on the top floor of Academy Hall.

By invitation of Jim Todd, Clem attended one of the open meetings held
monthly and was well entertained. The sight of Jim slowly elongating
himself from behind the secretary’s table to read the previous minutes
was alone well worth the effort of climbing two flights of stairs to
Clem. Jim was very earnest and recited the doings of the last meeting
in tones that imbued them with a vast importance. “Moved and seconded,”
read Jim weightily, “that the Secretary be and hereby is empowered
to contract for a sufficient supply of letter paper, appropriately
printed with the Society’s name and emblem, and a sufficient supply
of envelopes likewise so printed, the total cost of the same not to
exceed seven dollars, and the same to be paid for out of the funds
of the Society. So voted.” There were light refreshments later, and
afterwards several members spoke informally--often embarrassedly--on
matters of interest to citizens of the affiliated states. The best of
the number was undoubtedly the secretary and treasurer. Jim was far
more self-possessed than of yore and he spoke in an easy conversational
style that pleased his hearers mightily. What he had to tell wasn’t
much; just a somewhat rambling account of a visit to a logging camp;
but he made it interesting and displayed a humorous perception that
Clem, for one, had never suspected him of. On the whole, Clem enjoyed
the evening and was quite sincere when he said as much to Jim on their
way back to Haylow. When they parted in the corridor, Clem said:

“You haven’t been in to see us, Todd, for a long time. We’re getting
out of touch with events, Mart and I. Better drop in some time and
cheer us up.”

Jim looked as if he suspected the other of joshing. He was never
absolutely certain about Clem’s ingenuousness. “Well,” he answered,
“I’d been around before only I knew you were pretty busy with hockey
and--and all like that.”

“Oh, hockey doesn’t take all my time,” said Clem. “For instance, I
don’t play much after supper.”

“Oh, well, I meant that being captain of the team you’d likely be
pretty busy one way and another. I’ll be dropping in some evening soon,
though, if you say so.”

“Wish you would. Good night!”

Seeking Number 15 and a bored Mart, who had refused the invitation to
the Maine-and-Vermont Society with scathing remarks, Clem marveled
at the perfectly idiotic way in which he persisted in fostering the
acquaintance of Jim Todd. He didn’t really care a hang about the queer
chap, of course, and-- But hold on! Was that quite true? Didn’t he
rather like Jim, if the truth had to be told? Well, yes, he sort of
guessed he did. There was something about Jim Todd that appealed to
him. Maybe--and he grinned as he flung open the door of Number 15--it
was just Todd’s quality of being “different”!



CHAPTER III

ON THE ICE


A few days later Clem, smashing into the boards of the outdoor rink,
after a valiant effort to hook the puck from Landorf, of the scrub six,
almost bumped heads with Jim Todd. It was a nippingly cold February
afternoon, and Jim made one of the small audience that stamped about
on chilled feet and watched the progress of the practice game. Jim,
though, appeared less conscious of the cold than most of the others. He
had on the old gray woolen sweater, and a cloth cap set inadequately on
the back of his streaky brown locks. About him were overcoats--even one
or two of fur--and unfastened overshoes rattled their buckles as their
wearers kicked the wooden barrier or stamped about on the hard-trodden
snow to encourage circulation. Jim wore a pair of woolen socks of a
dubious shade of tan and low shoes that were ostensibly black. And he
didn’t prance about a bit. Once in a while he did rub his long bony
hands together, but the action seemed an indication of interest in the
hockey game rather than in the temperature. As a matter of fact, this
was Jim’s first glimpse of such a contest, and he was, for Jim Todd,
quite excited over it.

Between the halves Clem skated over to him. “Aren’t you frozen?” he
asked wonderingly.

“Me? No.” Jim shook his head slowly. “It’s right cold, though, ain’t
it? A whole lot colder than we have it in Maine, I guess. Say, what’s
that thing made of you’re hitting around on the ice?”

“Rubber. Haven’t you ever played hockey?”

“No. When I was a kid we used to whack a block of wood around with
sticks, but it wasn’t much like this hockey. Looks like you’ve got
almost as many rules as there are in football. You’re a pretty nice
skater, ain’t you?”

“Not as good as some of the fellows,” replied Clem. “You skate, of
course.”

Jim nodded. “That’s ’bout the only thing I can do real well,” he
answered. “Don’t believe I could get around the way you do, though;
dodge and turn so quick and all like that. I ain’t so bad at skating
fast, but I’ve got to have plenty of room.”

“Better go into the races Saturday morning,” suggested Clem. “What’s
your distance?”

“Distance?”

“Yes, what are you best at? Half-mile? Mile? Two miles?”

“Why, I don’t know. I’ve skated in a lot of races, you might say,
but we didn’t ever measure them. We’d race, generally, from the old
boat-house to the inlet; on Lower Pond, you know. Guess that’s about
three-quarters of a mile; more or less.”

“Why don’t you enter for Saturday, then?” asked Clem. “You ought to be
able to do the mile if you’ve been doing the three-quarters, Todd.”

“Well, I don’t know. Would you? Does it cost anything?”

“Not a cent,” laughed Clem. “There’s a list of the events over on the
notice board in the gym. Better pick out a couple and get your name
down.”

“Well-- Gosh, though, I can’t! I didn’t bring my skates. I sort of had
a notion there wasn’t much skating down here. I guess there wouldn’t be
time to send for them, either, to-day being Tuesday.”

Clem leaned over the barrier and viewed Jim’s shoes. “No, I guess not,
but I think Mart’s skates will fit you. Drop in later and we’ll see. He
doesn’t use them much.”

“Maybe he wouldn’t like me to have them,” responded Jim doubtfully.
“Anyway, I ain’t skated since last winter, Harland, and I guess I
wouldn’t be much good. Much obliged to you, but maybe I’d better not.”

“Well, if you change your mind--” Clem hurried away to try some shots
at goal before the whistle blew again.

Just before supper-time, however, Jim wandered into Number 15. He
announced that he guessed he’d take part in those races if it was all
right about the skates. “There’s a two-mile race down, I see, and I
guess I’d like to try that.”

“Two miles? Thought you’d been doing three-quarters,” said Clem, while
Mart dug his skates out of the closet.

“Yes, but sometimes I got licked, and I’ve got a sort of notion I can
do better at a longer distance. Maybe I’ll try for the mile, too. I
guess there’s a lot of pretty good skaters going into it, eh?”

“Yes, I suppose so,” said Clem, “but you’ll have a good time. You don’t
mind getting beaten, do you?”

Jim frowned slightly. “Why, yes, I guess I do,” he replied. “Every
fellow does, don’t he?”

“Well, I meant to say you didn’t mind much. Of course no fellow wants
to take a defeat, but he has to do it just the same sometimes, you
know. And there’s a whole lot in taking it the right way.”

“The right way?” inquired Jim.

“Why, yes, Todd. Look here, are you joshing me? You know what I mean,
confound you!”

“Well, I don’t know as I do,” said Jim doubtfully. “I don’t get mad
when I’m licked, if that’s what you mean. Leastways, I don’t let on I’m
mad. But it don’t make me feel any too good to get beat!”

“I suppose your trouble is that you’ve never been beaten often enough
to get used to it, then,” answered Clem. “Getting mad doesn’t do any
good, you crazy goof. You want to smile and make believe you like it.”

“What for?”

“Oh, for the love of Liberty,” wailed Clem, “take this fellow off me,
Mart! He’s worse than a Philadelphia lawyer!”

Mart’s return with the skates provided a diversion. They were a size
too small, but after a long and admiring appraisal of them Jim declared
that they would do. “I never saw a pair just like these before,” he
confided admiringly. “What they made of, Gray?”

“Aluminum, mostly. Light, aren’t they? Like them?”

“Gosh, yes, but I don’t know if I can do much with them. They don’t
weigh more’n a third what mine do. I’m going to try them, just the
same. I’m much obliged to you.”

“You’re welcome. Just see that you win a race with them. We’ll go down
and root for you, Todd.”

“I might win the two-mile race,” replied Jim, “if I get so I can use
these right. I’ll try ’em to-morrow.”

They didn’t see Jim again until the morning of the races. It was a
corking day, that Saturday, with a wealth of winter sunshine flooding
the world and only the mildest of northerly breezes blowing down the
river. The weather and the list of events ought to have brought out a
larger representation of the student body, but as a matter of fact by
far the larger portion of those who had assembled at ten o’clock were
contestants. Clem, yielding to the solicitations of the Committee,
had entered for three races at the last moment, and it wasn’t until
he had won the 220-yard senior event in hollow fashion from a field
of more than a score of adversaries and been narrowly beaten in the
quarter-mile race that he encountered Jim.

Jim had discarded his beloved gray sweater and was the cynosure of
all eyes in a mackinaw coat of green and black plaid. The green was
extremely green and the plaid was a very large one, and Jim presented
an almost thrilling appearance. Under the mackinaw, his lean body was
attired very simply in a white running shirt, and Clem addressed him
sternly.

“Want to catch pneumonia and croak?” he demanded. “Don’t you know you
can’t skate with that state’s prison offense on and that if you take
it off you’ll freeze stiff? Where were you when they handed brains out,
Todd?”

Jim grinned. “Hello,” he replied. “That was a nice licking you gave all
those other fellows. And, say, if you’d got going quicker in that other
race you’d have made it, easy.”

Clem was looking attentively at the mackinaw. Now he felt of it. “Say,
that’s some coat, son. Where’d you get it?”

“Back home.”

“I’ll bet it’s warm. I never saw one made of as good stuff as that is.
Any more like it where it came from?”

Jim chuckled. “I’m going to write pop to send down a couple dozen of
them,” he said. “You’re about the tenth fellow that’s asked me that so
far. I could sell a lot of ’em if I had ’em.”

“Joking aside, though, can I get one, Todd?”

“Sure. Pop sells them. I’ll give you the address if you want to send
for one. I’ve given it to a lot of fellows already.”

“Oh, well, if the whole school’s going to come out in them I guess I’ll
pass,” said Clem regretfully. “I suppose those are what the lumbermen
wear, eh?”

Jim nodded. “Lots of folks wear them. They’re mighty good coats. Only
six dollars, too. Better have one. Maybe pop’ll give me a commission.”

“Six dollars! I believe you’re trying to make a dollar rake-off on each
one! Say, what are you down for, Todd?”

“Down for? Oh, the mile and two miles. You?”

“Just the half. I’ll get licked, too. See you later. But, honest, Todd,
you oughtn’t to skate two miles in just that cotton shirt, you know.”

“Warm enough. It ain’t real cold to-day. Hope you win.”

But Clem didn’t, making rather a sorry showing in fact.

There was an obstacle race for the younger chaps next, an event that
provided plenty of amusement for entrants and spectators alike, and
then the contestants for the mile were called. This event was a popular
one, it appeared, for sixteen youths of all ages and from all classes
answered. A group of freshmen, about twenty in all, cheered lustily and
unflaggingly for their favorite, a small, slim, capable appearing boy
named Woodside. Jim towered over most of the lot, although his bare
brown head didn’t top that of Newt Young, guard on the football team
and a senior entrant. The seniors were represented by several others,
but their hopes were pinned on Newt. The bunch sped away at the crack
of a pistol and were soon well spread out.

Jim didn’t have much hope of capturing that race, and certainly no
one who watched him could have censured him. Jim’s skating was far
from graceful. He didn’t suggest the flight of a bird, for instance.
Observing Jim, you were reminded chiefly of a windmill that had somehow
got loose and was blowing down the ice, blowing fast, to be sure, but
wasting a deal of motion. Jim’s arms did strange antics, seeming never
to duplicate a single movement that was once made. And he appeared to
have more than the usual number of joints in his long, thin body. He
bent everywhere; at knees, waist, shoulders, neck, elbows and wrists;
and some other places, too, unless sight deceived the onlookers. But
at the quarter distance he was still among the first half-dozen, and
when the turn was made those at the finish couldn’t determine for some
moments whether he or young Woodside led.

It promised to be a close finish, in any case, for behind the two
leaders sped Newt Young, showing lots of reserve, and, not yet out of
the race, four others followed closely. But Jim began to fall back
after the race was three-fourths over, and for a hundred yards Woodside
loomed as the winner, while his enthusiastic classmates howled
ecstatically. Then, however, Young edged past Jim and set off after the
freshman and for the final fifty yards it was nip and tuck to the line.
Young won by a bare three feet, with Woodside second and Jim a poor
third.

“Well, feel mad, do you?” asked Clem as he and Mart sought Jim.

Jim scowled and then grinned sheepishly. “I could have won if I’d had
my own skates,” he muttered. “These are all right, only I ain’t used to
them. Bet you I could beat that big fellow if I had my own skates.”

“Newt Young?” asked Mart. “Well, Newt’s a pretty good lad, they say.”

“I could beat him,” reasserted Jim doggedly. “He gave me a jab in the
nose, too.”

“What? Newt did?” Clem was incredulous. “I didn’t see it. Where was it?”

“Playing football, I mean,” answered Jim. “He was on the first squad
when I was playing. He gave me a good one one day, and I don’t guess it
was any accident, neither.”

“Ah,” murmured Clem sadly, “I fear yours is a vindictive nature, Todd.
I am disappointed in you.”

Jim observed him doubtfully. Then he said “Huh!” Finally he grinned.
“Well, he didn’t have any cause to hit me,” he added, “and I sort of
wanted to beat him.”

“Maybe he’s down for the two miles,” suggested Mart cheerfully. “Do you
know?”

Jim didn’t know, but Clem did. “He is,” declared the latter. “So go
ahead and wreak vengeance, Todd. You have my blessing. And I guess
they’re about ready for you, too.”

“Gosh, I wish I had my own skates,” muttered Jim wistfully.

“No alibis, Todd,” said Clem sternly. “Do your duty.”



CHAPTER IV

CLEM GETS A LETTER


There were only five entries for the two-mile race, all senior and
junior class fellows. The course was twice around the half-mile flag,
which made for slower time but enabled the audience to keep the skaters
in sight. The five started briskly from the mark, but this event called
for less speed than had the one-mile race, and none of the contestants
seemed especially anxious to set the pace. It was, finally, Newt Young
who took the lead, with a junior named Peele next and Jim Todd third.
That order held to the turn and all the way back to the line. Some one
clocked Young at three minutes and eighteen seconds, but in view of
the final figures that timing may have been wrong. The line was well
strung out when it turned again toward the distant flag, with the first
three skaters at four-yard intervals and the last two close together
a hundred feet back. Not until the figures had grown small in the
distance once more did the order change. Then the spectators saw Jim
Todd pass Peele and fall in close behind the leader. That was a signal
for triumphant cheers from a small coterie of devoted sons of the Pine
Tree State, to whose voices Clem and Mart added theirs. Such triumph
was, however, short-lived, for when Jim, still threshing his long arms
about, took the turn around the flag he tried to make it too short and
the watchers had a confused vision of the white-shirted youth going
over and over, with legs and arms whirling, far across the distant
surface.

“That,” observed Clem dryly, “lets our Mr. Todd out of it.”

The capsized one made a really astounding recovery and was on his
blades again almost before the spectators had sensed the catastrophe,
but Peele had passed him by that time, and Young was well away on his
last dash. The other two contestants, while still grimly pursuing, were
already out of the result. The half-dozen “Maniacs,” as Clem dubbed
them not very originally, refused to own defeat for their favorite
and continued to howl imploringly for Jim to “Come on and win it!”
It is doubtful if Jim heard that demand, for he was still a long way
off and there was plenty of other shouting beside that of the Maine
contingent, but it did look as if he had, quite of his own accord and
without prompting, made up his stubborn mind to do that very thing! He
went after Peele desperately and gradually closed the distance. Then,
while the growing excitement of the onlookers became every instant
more vocal, he edged past his classmate and steadily widened the ice
between them. Doubtless the fast-flying Young looked horribly like the
victor to Jim just then; he surely looked so to those at the line; and
probably the best that Jim hoped for was a close finish. In any event,
Jim came hard, desperately, arms flying all ways at once, a wild,
many-jointed figure that seemed somehow to fairly eat up distance.

At the quarter-mile he was undoubtedly gaining on Young, and public
sympathy, ever tending toward the under dog, veered from the senior
suddenly and surprisingly, and the loyal sons of Maine found their
hoarse ravings drowned under a greater volume of cheers for Jim Todd.
“Come on, Todd! You can beat him!” “Skate, Skinny Boy! Come on! Come
on!” “You’ve got him, Todd! Hit it up! Hit it up!” Even Mart, who was
a most reticent youth when it came to public vocal demonstrations,
appeared to be trying very hard to climb Clem’s back and yelling:
“_Todd! Todd! Todd! Todd!_” in the most piercing tones about four
inches from Clem’s left ear. Clem, though, failed to comment on the
phenomenon at the time, being extremely busy enticing Todd to the
finish with both voice and gesture!

It was somewhere about three hundred yards short of the line that Jim
realized that defeat was not necessarily to be his portion, that Newt
Young’s admirable grace and form were at last lacking and that that
youth was probably as tired as Jim Todd was. Jim devoutly hoped he was
even more tired, although he couldn’t conceive of such a thing! Any one
who has taken a header in an ice race knows that it produces a most
enervating effect and, for a time at least, leaves one in a painfully
breathless condition. Perhaps Jim recalled that, in his opinion,
superfluous tap on the nose of some three months previous, and perhaps
the recollection of that painful indignity urged him to superhuman
effort. That as may have been, the runaway windmill kept on closing the
gap, slowly but inexorably.

The distance between the two dwindled from eight yards to half that
many, from four yards to two, from two to one! They were almost stride
for stride as they swept down on the finish line. Young, suddenly
aware of the loss of his advantage, seemed at once incredulous and
disheartened. There was a brief instant when he faltered, and in that
instant Jim swept into the lead. Perhaps thirty yards still lay before
the adversaries, and Young seized on his courage and determination
again. But once in the lead Jim was not to be headed. Indeed, it seemed
that until the instant of passing Young he had not shown what real
speed was! The tall youth found in those last few yards some joints
he had not suspected the possession of, made surprising use of them,
swayed, bent, buckled and threshed down the ice with the lithe grace
of a camel with a hundred-mile gale behind it, and gyrated across the
finish line a good eight yards ahead of his adversary!

The sons of Maine went crazy, every one yelled and the official
timekeeper proclaimed that the school record had been burst into
infinitesimal fractions! As no one seemed to know what the Alton
Academy record for the two miles was, the present time of six minutes
and forty-one seconds was accepted as something to cheer for. So every
one cheered again. And about that time Young pushed through to Jim Todd
and shook hands with him, and Jim grinned and forgot to say anything
about that incident on the gridiron, and every one went home.

But Jim Todd leaped into mild and momentary fame, and for some weeks
was pointed out as “that long drink of water who beat Newt Young on
the ice and broke the school record for the mile or two miles or
something.” Perhaps his fame would have lived longer if, at about that
time, Alton hadn’t played her final hockey game with Kenly Hall and
smeared up the Cherry-and-Black to the tune of 7 goals to 3, a feat
which, after last season’s defeat for Alton, was hailed with joy and
loud acclaim and resulted later in the election of Clement Harland to
succeed himself as captain of the team. Since Clem had been the first
youth to get the hockey captaincy in his junior year in the history of
that sport at Alton, he was now possessor of the unique distinction of
being the only hockey captain ever serving two terms. Mart sniffed and
said he hoped Clem wouldn’t get a swelled head over it, but that he
probably would and so wouldn’t be fit to live with much longer!

Whether Clem was fit to live with or wasn’t, it strangely happened that
Mart never had an opportunity to reach a decision in the matter, for
after Spring recess Mart came back to Alton with a vast distaste for
exertion and a couple of degrees of temperature that he hadn’t had when
he went away. A day later he went to the infirmary and there he stayed
until well into May with a case of typhoid that seemed to give much
satisfaction to the doctor in charge but that failed to please Mart’s
parents to any noticeable degree. It was a strange, washed-out looking
Mart who rolled away one morning in an automobile for the station on
his way home, and while his smile was recognizable by Clem the rest
of him seemed strange and alien. Mart managed a joke before the car
started off, but it was such a weak, puerile effort that Clem found it
easier to cry than laugh over.

During the rest of the term Clem saw more of Jim Todd than ever, for
Jim had been sincerely concerned about Mart and had offered all sorts
of well-meant but impossible services during the illness, and Clem
had liked the kindness and thoughtfulness shown. Besides, Clem felt
a bit lonesome after Mart’s departure, and Jim was handy. On one or
two occasions Clem even climbed to the upper floor and endured the
presence of Bradley Judson for the sake of Jim. Judson, who shared the
sloping-ceilinged room with Jim, was no treat, either, according to
Clem!

At home, Mart wrote an occasional brief letter. He said he was getting
along finely, but the letters didn’t sound so. Jim, however, who, it
turned out, had seen typhoid fever before, reassured Clem. Typhoid,
declared Jim, left you pretty low in your mind and weak in your body,
and it took a long while for some folks to get back where they had
been. So Clem took comfort. And then June arrived suddenly, and the
school year was over.

Toward the end of July, Clem, who was leading a life of blissful
ease at the Harland summer home in the Berkshires, received a letter
from Jim. He didn’t know it was from Jim until he had looked at the
bottom of the second sheet, for the writing was strange to him and the
inscription on the envelope--“Middle Carry Camps, Blaisdell’s Mills,
Me.”--failed to suggest the elongated Mr. Todd. Clem tucked his tennis
racket under his arm, seated himself on the lower step of the porch
and, seeking the beginning of the missive, wondered what on earth Jim
was writing about. He wouldn’t have been much more surprised had the
letter been from the President and summoning him to Washington to
confer on the Tariff! He hadn’t seen or heard from Jim since June, and,
since life had been full of a number of things, hadn’t thought of him
more than a dozen times. And now Jim was writing him a two-page letter
in queer up-and-down characters and faded ink on the cheap stationery
of a Maine sporting camp!

    “Friend Harland (Clem read): I guess you’ll be surprised to
    get a letter from me and will wonder what in tuck I am writing
    about. I just heard last week that Mart Gray’s folks have taken
    him to Europe and that he will not be back to school this next
    year. I’m right sorry he don’t pick up faster, but that’s the
    way it is with typhoid lots of times. What I’m writing about is
    whether you have made any arrangement with any other fellow to
    room in with you. You see, Harland, it is like this. I wasn’t
    very well fixed where I was last year. Judson is all right, I
    guess, only I don’t cotton to him much. And I was thinking that
    perhaps if you didn’t have any fellow in view to room in with
    you now that Gray won’t be back, perhaps you wouldn’t mind me.
    Of course, you may have some other in mind. I guess likely you
    have, but I thought there wouldn’t be any harm in asking.

    “I’m right easy to get along with and I’m neat about the place.
    I guess that’s about all I can say for myself, but you know me
    well enough to know that we would likely get along pretty well
    together if you thought well of the notion. Anyway, I’d like
    you to answer this when you get time and let me know. It will
    be all right just the same if you don’t like the notion or have
    made other arrangements. I just thought I’d take a chance.

    “I’m up here at this place guiding. I’m just a local guide.
    I’m having a right good time and the pay is pretty fair. There
    are about seventy folks here this month and lots of women and
    children. Mostly I look after the women and kids, take them
    out in the boats or canoes and fishing. There’s good fishing
    here all right, and if you ever want to catch some good bass
    you come to this camp some time. I guess you wouldn’t be able
    to come up for a spell this summer. I would show you where you
    could catch them up to three pounds and no joking. The regular
    guides here are a fine lot of fellows, and we have some pretty
    good times. They eat you well, too, here. I’d like for you to
    come on up if you could, if only for a week. I would guarantee
    you to catch more fish here in a week than you would most
    anywhere else in a month. Well, let me hear from you, please,
    pretty soon, because whatever way you say I’m going to see if I
    can’t make a change this fall. I hope you are having a pleasant
    summer. Yours sincerely, James H. Todd.”

Clem smiled when he had finished the letter. Then he frowned. It was
going to be rather awkward. How could he tell Jim that he didn’t want
him for a room-mate without hurting the chap’s feelings? “It will be
all right just the same if you don’t like the notion or have made other
arrangements.” Clem reread the sentence and smiled wryly. It was all
well enough for Jim Todd to say that, but Clem knew very well that it
wouldn’t be “just the same.” The difficulty was that he hadn’t made
other arrangements. He might tell Jim that he had, but that would be
a lie, and Clem didn’t like lies. Besides, Jim would find out he had
lied, and be a lot more hurt than if he had been told the unflattering
truth! Clem wished mightily that he could have foreseen this situation
and written to Mr. Wharton, the school secretary, as soon as the
tidings of Mart’s withdrawal had come. Wharton would have arranged
things for him in a minute. Instead, though, he had kept putting the
matter off, and now this had happened. Gosh!

Clem recalled the fantastic figure that had wandered into Number
15 that afternoon. If the fellow would only dress less like a--a
backwoodsman--it would be something. Then Clem recalled the fact that
toward the end of the Spring term Jim had looked a great deal more
normal as to attire. Clem sighed perplexedly. He liked Jim, too, he
reflected. There were lots of nice traits in the fellow. In fact, after
Mart had gone home he had preferred Jim’s society to that of most
of the other chaps he knew in school; and he knew a good many, too.
Then what was wrong with having Jim for a room-mate? Clem pondered
that for some time. “Raw” appeared to be the most damaging charge he
could bring against the applicant, and that didn’t seem to him an
altogether sufficient indictment. Clem had never suspected himself of
being a snob, but just now the possibility occurred to him abruptly and
unpleasantly. To get away from the idea he reread Jim’s letter, and
this time he read as much between the lines as in them.

It had taken courage to write that letter, he told himself. He would
wager that Jim had put it off more than once and had made more than
one false start. There was a humility all through it that was almost
pathetic when one remembered that the writer wasn’t much under six feet
in height! Yes, and he wasn’t so small other ways, Clem reflected.
Considering that he had entered Alton without knowing a soul there,
and had burst smack into the junior year, too, Jim had done pretty
well. He was no pill, even if he did wear queer things and could be
held accountable for the epidemic of loud-plaid mackinaws that had
raged violently throughout the school in the late Winter! He had
flivvered at football, to be sure, but he had won momentary fame as
a skater, and he had organized the Maine-and-Vermont Club. That last
feat proved pretty conclusively, thought Clem, that the fellow had
something in him. After all, then, the worst you could say of him was
that he was--Clem searched diligently for the word he wanted and found
it--uncouth!

His thoughts went back to the afternoon when Jim Todd had first edged
into view and to Mart’s almost impassioned utterances just previous
thereto. Clem smiled. Mart had been hankering for new types and then
Jim had walked in quite as if he had been awaiting his cue off-stage!
Clem’s smile, though, was caused by the recollection that Mart hadn’t
been nearly so enthusiastic about “new blood” in the concrete--meaning
Jim Todd--as he had been in “new blood” in the abstract! Mart
had tolerated Jim, but had never derived much pleasure from the
acquaintanceship. Old Mart was a heap more conservative than he had
thought himself!

Then, thinking of Mart, Clem remembered how perfectly corking Jim had
been during Mart’s illness. If he hadn’t done a great deal to help it
was only because there had been so little he could do. He had always
been ready, always eager, always sympathetic. Yes, and there were
those two days when poor old Mart had been so beastly sick, and Clem
had worried himself miserable, or would have if Jim hadn’t sort of
stuck around and kept telling him that folks could be awfully ill with
typhoid and yet pull out all hunky; that he’d seen it more’n once. Why,
come to think of it, there had been three or four days when Jim had
been with him half the time! How had he done it? He must have missed
class more than once, and as for studying--well, he just couldn’t have
studied!

Clem got up very suddenly, stuffed Jim’s letter in a pocket of his
white flannels and stared savagely at an inoffensive palm in a gray
stone jar. But though he looked at the palm he didn’t seem to be
addressing it when he spoke, for what he said was: “Clem, you’re a
low-lived yellow pup! Get it?”



CHAPTER V

A NEW TERM BEGINS


Clem returned to school the day before the beginning of the Fall term
to find Alton looking sun-smitten and feeling exceedingly hot. The air,
after the fresh, sweet breezes of the Berkshires, seemed stale and
stifling, although when the cab had borne him past the business section
of the town and residences surrounded by lawns and gardens and shaded
by trees had taken the place of brick blocks there was a perceptible
change for the better. It had been a dry summer and the campus showed
it as Clem was hurried up Meadow street. The trees looked droopy and
the grass parched. The buildings lined across the brow of the campus
had a deserted appearance, with only here and there a window open to
the faint stir of air. He almost wished he had waited until to-morrow.

The cab swerved to the right, proceeded a short distance along the
gravel and stopped with a sudden setting of squeaking brakes in front
of the first building. Clem helped the driver upstairs with the trunk,
their feet echoing hollowly in the empty corridors. Number 15 was hot
and close, and Clem sent the two windows banging up even before he
paid the cabman. When the latter had gone clattering down again Clem
removed his jacket and looked speculatively about him. The old room
looked sort of homelike, after all, he concluded. He was glad that Mart
had decided to leave his furnishings and pictures for the present. Jim
Todd’s possessions up in Number 29, as Clem recalled them, were few and
more useful than ornamental! Of course, Clem could have spread his own
pictures and things about a bit more, but they’d probably have looked
sort of thin. He opened the door of Mart’s closet and the drawers of
his chiffonier and sighed as he saw what a deal of truck there was
to be packed. However, he had the rest of the afternoon and most of
the morning for his task. He routed a packing-case of Mart’s from the
basement store-room, tugged it up to the room and started to work.

At five o’clock he had made the disconcerting discovery that Mart’s
clothing and books and small possessions, which had seemed to bulk so
large before, wouldn’t fill the big box more than three-quarters full,
and had thrown himself into a chair to consider the fact and cool off
when footsteps sounded below the window and then came nearer up the
stairs. Then a voice sounded.

“You up there, Clem?”

“Yes! Come on up!”

“Saw your window open,” panted Lowell Woodruff as he came in, looking
very warm, “and thought you must be up here. How are you?” The two
shook hands, and Lowell subsided on the window-seat. “What’s brought
you back so early?”

Clem pointed to the packing-case. “Mart’s not coming back this fall,
and I’ve got the job of getting his stuff packed up and shipped home to
him.”

“Oh! Yes, I heard he was off to the Continong, lucky brute! What price
a winter on the Riviera, eh? Some guys get it soft! Who’s coming in
here with you?”

“A chap named Todd. You know him, I guess. He’s in our class.”

“Jim Todd? Sure I know him! And I’d like to meet up with the silly ass,
too. He got notice to report for early practice, and he hasn’t shown
hide nor hair.”

“Football?” Clem laughed. “I don’t believe you’ll catch him, Woodie.
Didn’t you know he tried it last year and resigned?”

“Crazy nut!” said Lowell disgustedly. “Sure, I knew it, but that’s got
nothing to do with this year. Listen, that guy ought to be able to play
football, Clem. He was all right for a fellow who didn’t know anything
about it, but he didn’t get handled right, see? He’s queer. Stubborn,
too, sort of. And Dolf Chapin wouldn’t see it. You know Dolf. Thinks
every one’s got to dance when he fiddles. Todd got discouraged and told
Dolf so and Dolf laughed at him and told him to quit his kidding. Bet
you I could have kept Todd going and made him like it.”

“Why didn’t you?” asked Clem.

“What chance? You know Dolf. Nice guy and all that, but no one else
must say a word when he’s around. An assistant coach here hasn’t any
say about anything. All he does is run errands and pick up things that
the players throw down. I could see that Todd was getting tired and--”

“You really think he could play?” asked Clem incredulously.

“Jim Todd? Sure he could! Why not? Put twenty pounds on him--”

“How would you do it?”

“Feed him up, of course. Pshaw, fellows like him don’t know what to
eat. Three weeks at training table would put the tallow on him so you
wouldn’t know him!”

“Wasn’t he at table last Fall?”

“No. He would have been if he’d stuck a few days longer, I guess, but
there were six or eight fellows who didn’t come to the table until
after the Hillsport game. That was another of Dolf’s fool notions.”

“How many fellows have you got here now?”

“Fourteen. Billy Frost didn’t show up; missed a steamer or something;
and a couple more failed us. Your friend Todd was one. He didn’t even
write and tell us to chase ourselves, drat him! And we need another
tackle like thunder.”

“Tackle!” Clem whistled. Then he chuckled. “Gosh, Woodie, I can’t see
Jim Todd playing tackle! How’d you happen to send him a call, anyway?
Thought you only had the old players back for this early season stunt.”

“We needed tackles, like I’m telling you, and both Johnny and I liked
Todd’s looks last season, and there weren’t many fellows for the
position. Doggone it, Clem, you don’t realize that we lost most of the
team last June!”

[Illustration: We lost most of the team last June.]

“How come? Billy Frost, Charley Levering, Fingal, Whittier--”

“Oh, sure! And ‘Pep’ Kinsey and ‘Rolls’ Roice; but outside of Billy
and Gus Fingal and Pep Kinsey they’re all new men, aren’t they? Sure,
they played against Kenly, but that don’t make ’em veterans! We’ve got
to build a whole new team--pretty near, Clem. That’s why I want all
the fellows I can get who happen to know a football from a chocolate
sundae, and that’s why I’d like to see this here Jim Long-legged Todd
and tell him what I think of him!”

“Stick around until to-morrow and you’ll get a chance. But I don’t
believe you’ll dent him any. I guess he’s through with football, if he
ever began.”

“Can’t help that, old son. We’ve got to have him; him and two or three
others who quit last year for one reason or another; usually on account
of trouble with the office. I’m gunning for ’em. Say, Clem, you might
help a bit, you know.”

“How?”

“Well, you and Todd are sort of thick, I suppose. He’d listen to you,
wouldn’t he?”

“Maybe. Meaning you want me to talk him around to going back? Any
inducements?”

“How do you mean inducements?” asked Lowell suspiciously.

“Well, a banana royal at The Mirror, for instikance.”

“Sure! Just the same, it’s Johnny who ought to pay for it. It isn’t my
funeral whether any one plays or doesn’t play, is it?”

“Well, you’re manager, aren’t you?” laughed Clem. “What’s the manager
for if not to do the dirty work and foot the bills? Besides, you’ll
work that banana royal into the expense account somehow!”

“A fat chance!” scoffed Lowell. “Why, you can’t buy a pair of
shoe-laces without showing a voucher for it! Oh, well, I’ll stand for
your drink.”

“No, I’ll let you off, Woodie. But don’t bank too much on seeing Todd
out there. I’ll do what I can, but when you said he was a nut you spoke
a mouthful. By the way, who’s your trusty lieutenant this year?”

“A fellow named Barr, Johnny Barr. Know him? Not a bad sort, Johnny.
There’s likely to be some confusion, though. Some day I’ll yell
‘Johnny’ and Johnny Cade will think I’m getting fresh and crown me!”

“I hope I’m there,” laughed Clem. “Where are you eating to-night?”

“Anywhere you say, if you’re host.”

“Nothing doing. I’m talking Dutch. How about the Beanery?”

“All right. What time? I’m going to get under a shower before I’m ten
minutes older. It was as hot as Tophet on that field to-day!”

“Say half-past six. I’ll meet you in front of Upton.”

“You will not. I’m in Lykes this year. Got the room Spence Halliday
had; Number 9; hot stuff!”

“No! Who’s with you? Billy Frost?”

“No, ‘Hick’ Powers. Come and see our magnificence. Should think you’d
have changed, Clem.”

“What for? You’ve got nothing in your dive the Lykes of this!”

“Oh, good _night_! I’m off! Six-thirty, eh? If I’m not there, step
inside and yell. So long!”

“Wait a minute! Listen, Woodie. What would you do with this junk?
There’s only enough stuff to fill that case about three-quarters full,
and if I ship it like that it’ll be an awful mess when it arrives, I
guess. What’s the answer?”

“Stick in some of your own things.”

“No, but really! No joking, Woodie. What would--”

“Have a heart! Have a heart!” Lowell waved his hands protestingly at
the doorway. “Boy, I’ve got _problems_! Don’t pester me with trifles
like that!”

The football manager was off, taking the stairs four at a time. Clem
went to the window and leaned over the sill. When Lowell emerged from
the doorway below he hailed him.

“Oh, Woodie!”

“Yeah, what you want?” Lowell peered up blinkingly through the sunlight.

“Listen, Woodie,” went on Clem earnestly. “Haven’t you got half a dozen
old footballs over at the gym that you can’t use?”

“Old foot-- Say, what’s your trouble? What do you want ’em for?”

“To fill up this box,” jeered Clem. “Run along, sonny!”

Clem didn’t pass a very restful night. For one thing, Number 15
Haylow was hot and stuffy. Then, too, Clem and Lowell Woodruff and
two other fellows had sought to mitigate the heat of the evening by
partaking of many and various concoctions of ice cream and syrups,
and his stomach had faintly protested for some time. He awoke in the
morning, scandalously late, from what seemed to have been a night-long
succession of unpleasant dreams. But a bath and breakfast set him
right, and afterwards he completed the packing of Mart’s belongings.
By rummaging about in the store-room he collected enough pieces of
corrugated straw-board and excelsior and old newspapers to fill the
top of the packing-case after a fashion, and he hammered the lid down
with vast relief, addressed it with a paper spill dipped in the ink
bottle and pushed it into the corridor. A visit to the express office
completed his responsibilities, and, since it was then only a little
after ten, he returned to school and took the path that led, between
Academy and Upton Hall, and past the gymnasium, to the athletic field.

Morning practice was already in full swing when he reached the
gridiron, and the small squad of perspiring youths were throwing and
catching, punting and chasing half a dozen pigskins about the field.
Clem greeted the trainer, whose real name was Jakin but who was never
called anything but Jake, was introduced by Lowell to Johnny Barr,
the assistant manager, and exchanged long-distance greetings with
several of the players. Then he found a seat on the edge of the green
wheelbarrow in which Peter, Jake’s underling, trundled the football
paraphernalia back and forth from the gymnasium and looked on. It
wasn’t a vastly interesting scene. Clem, who, while he thoroughly
enjoyed watching a football contest, had never felt any urge to play
the game, wasn’t able to get any thrill from watching practice. He
amused himself identifying some of the candidates, not such an easy
task when old gray jerseys, ancient khaki pants and disreputable
stockings comprised the attire of each and every one and effectually
disguised individuality. There, however, was Gus Fingal, the captain,
tall, with hair the color of new rope; and Charley Levering, taller
and lighter and as black of head as a burnt match; and Pep Kinsey, a
solid chunk of a youth slated for quarter-back position. And the big,
square fellow was, of course, Hick Powers, and the long-legged chap
farther down the field who was trying drop-kicks none too successfully
was Steve Whittier. The others Clem couldn’t place until Lowell came
to his assistance. Lowell pointed out Roland Roice--it was fated that
he should be known as ‘Rolls’!--Sawyer, Crumb, Cheswick, two or three
others, but Clem wasn’t greatly interested. Later, Coach Cade came off
the field and shook hands. Johnny, as he was called by the fellows,
though not to his face, was perspiring freely, and his face was the
color of a ripe tomato. The coach was a short man, perhaps twenty-eight
years of age, with a broad, solid body, a head of thick, bristle-like
black hair and two sharp eyes set wide apart. Clem reflected, not for
the first time, that Johnny Cade must have been a bad man to say “Whoa”
to on a football field in his playing days! He had a regular fighting
chin under that smiling mouth of his. Just now, having exchanged
greetings with Clem, he was mopping his face with the sleeve of a
tattered jersey.

“Hot, isn’t it?” he asked. “We’ve had nearly a week of it here.
Mean weather for football work. We usually get it about like this
every Fall, though. Sometimes I doubt that this pays very well; this
before-season practice. I don’t know but that we’d get along just as
well without it. But as long as the other fellow does it I suppose
we’ve got to. You look well, Harland.” Then his smile deepened. “Lucky
for you, though, you’re not in my gang. You’d lose about ten pounds on
a day like this!”

“I guess so,” agreed Clem. “Fact is, Mr. Cade, I’ve been pretty lazy
this summer. Played some tennis and a few games of golf, and that’s
about all.”

“Tennis? Seems to me tennis ought to have kept you harder than you
look.”

“Well, it wasn’t very strenuous, you see. Mixed doubles usually.”

“He can’t keep away from the girls, Coach,” interpolated Lowell,
shaking his head sadly. “By the way, Clem here is rooming with that
Todd guy that didn’t R. S. V. P. to our invitation, and I told him he’d
be held accountable for Todd’s appearance on this here field not later
than one day hence.”

“That so? Good idea. We want all the promising material we can get,
Harland.”

“You think Todd is promising, then, sir?”

“Why, yes, I’d say so. He gave us a mean deal last year, and I ought
to refuse to have anything more to do with him, but I can’t afford to
indulge my personal tastes. Todd looked to me like good material last
fall, and I told him that if he would buckle down and learn the game I
could pretty nearly promise him a job this year. But he got tired of
it and quit in the middle of the season. An odd chap. Stubborn, too.
He got my goat for fair, and I said some harsh things to him, but he
didn’t seem to mind much. About all I could get him to say was ‘I
guess I’d rather quit.’”

“Well, as I told Woodie, Coach, I’ll speak to him, but I wouldn’t be
surprised if he didn’t see it.”

“Huh!” said Lowell. “He’s got to see it! I’ll make his life a burden to
him until he does! You know me, Clem.”

“Yes, indeed, Woodie, I know what a nuisance you can make of yourself.
Go to it, old son.”

Mr. Cade chuckled at Lowell’s look of outrage and said: “Well, I
wouldn’t bother with him too much. If he doesn’t want to come out after
Harland’s talked with him I guess we’ll be better off without him.
After all, a man’s got to have some liking for football before he can
play it well.”

Clem, Lowell and Hick Powers went to luncheon together after practice
was over and then repaired to Lowell’s room in Lykes and lolled about
for an hour or so, by which time the summer-long peacefulness of the
school was at an end. Taxi-cabs sped, honking, up Meadow street and
swirled into the drive that led along in front of the dormitories,
voices awoke echoes in the corridors, feet clattered on the stairs,
trunks banged and dust floated in at the window before which the three
boys, divested of coats and collars, lounged. “The clans gather,”
murmured Lowell. “Another year of beastly grinding begins. Ah, woe is
me!”

Hick Powers, big, homely and good-natured, chuckled deeply. “Hear
him, Clem. The old four-flusher! Of all the snaps, he’s got it. Four
courses, mind you!”

“How do you get that way?” demanded Lowell indignantly. “I’m taking six
the first half-year!”

“Yeah, four required and two snaps! Bible History or--or Eskimo
Literature, or something! Gee, it doesn’t take much to get you guys
through your senior year!”

“But think how we worked to get there!” laughed Clem. “You’re junior,
aren’t you, Hick?”

“Sure! Finest class in school! First in war, first in peace, first--”

“First at table,” ended Lowell. “What time is it?”

“Twelve after two,” answered Clem. “Guess I’d better mosey along and
see if Jim Todd’s arrived.”

“Oh, don’t go,” protested Lowell. “We’re just beginning to like you.
What time’s he due?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he won’t get in until late. I suppose it takes
quite a while to get here from Maine.”

“Sure. Two or three days. You do the first thousand miles on
snowshoes. Then you take a dog-sled at the trading post--”

“You’re a nut,” laughed Clem. “I’m sorry for you, Hick. How do you
think you’re going to get through nearly nine months with him?”

“Oh, he won’t get funny with me,” answered Hick comfortably. “I’ll
give him a paddling every now and then. I’ll make a new man of him by
Spring.”

“You, you big flat tire!” responded Lowell. “It would take three like
you to paddle me! If it wasn’t so hot I’d box your ears for making a
crack like that right in front of visitors!”

Clem’s progress from Lykes to Haylow was retarded by encounters with
several acquaintances, and once, having passed the corner of his own
building, he spent ten minutes with his arms on the window-sill of
a lower-floor room talking to the inmates of it. But he reached his
corridor eventually and found the door of Number 15 ajar. As he had
closed it behind him in the morning he reached the conclusion that Jim
had arrived, and when he had thrust it farther inward and crossed the
threshold he decided that the conclusion was correct. Then, as the
occupant of the room straightened up from the business of unpacking a
suit-case opened on the window-seat, he was in doubt for an instant. If
this was Jim, what had happened to him?



CHAPTER VI

JIM REPORTS


After they had shaken hands, Clem took a good look at his new
room-mate. The change in Jim’s appearance was due to two things, he
decided. In the first place, Jim was dressed differently. He wore
trousers of a grayish brown, a white negligee shirt with a small blue
stripe, a semi-soft collar and a neatly tied dark-blue four-in-hand.
The shoes were brown Oxfords and evidently new. The coat that matched
the trousers was laid over the back of a chair. That suit, Clem
reflected, had probably cost very little, but it fitted extremely
well and looked well, too. Then Jim had filled out remarkably. He was
still a long way from stout, but there was flesh enough now on his
tall frame to take away the lanky look that had been his most striking
feature last year. He seemed to hold himself straighter, too, as though
he had become accustomed to his height, and to move with far less of
awkwardness.

“What have you been doing to yourself?” asked Clem.

Jim stared questioningly. Apparently he was not aware of any change,
and Clem explained. “Well, you look twenty pounds heavier, Jim; maybe
more; and--” But he stopped there. To approve his present attire would
be tantamount to a criticism of his former.

“Yes, I guess I am heavier,” replied Jim. “I got mighty good food up
at Blaisdell’s, and a heap of it; and then I was outdoors most of the
time. Right healthy sort of life, I guess. Didn’t work hard, either;
not really _work_.”

“I suppose it was pretty good fun,” mused Clem. “I’d liked to have got
up there for a few days, but it didn’t seem possible.”

“Wish you had. I’d have shown you some real fishing. Like to fish,
Harland?”

“N-no, I don’t believe I do. Maybe because I’ve never done much. But
it sounded pretty good, what you wrote, and if father hadn’t arranged
a motor trip for the last part of the summer I think I’d have gone up
there for three or four days.”

“Guess you thought that was pretty cheeky, that letter of mine,” said
Jim consciously.

“Not a bit,” Clem assured him heartily. If he had, he had forgotten it
now. “Awfully glad to have you, Jim.”

“I hope you mean that.” Jim laughed sheepishly. “I tried hard to
get that letter back after I’d posted it, but it happened that the
fellow who carried the mail out got started half an hour earlier that
morning, and I was too late.”

“Glad you were,” said Clem, and meant it. “Hope you don’t mind having
Mart’s things left around. He thinks now he will come back next year
and finish out.”

Jim looked about the room and shook his head. “Mighty nice,” he said.
“I’ve got a few things upstairs that I’ll have to move out, but they
ain’t scarcely suitable for here: there’s a cushion and a couple of
pictures and a sort of a thing for books and two, three little things
besides.”

“Bring them down and we’ll look them over,” said Clem. “What you
don’t want to use can go in your trunk when you send it down to the
store-room. Don’t believe we need any more cushions, though.” He
thought he knew which of the cushions in Number 29 was Jim’s! “Too much
in a place is worse than too little, eh?”

“I suppose ’tis,” Jim agreed. “This room’s right pretty now, Harland,
and I guess those things of mine wouldn’t better it none.”

“You’ll have to stop calling me ‘Harland’ sooner or later,” said Clem,
“so you might as well start now, Jim.”

Jim nodded. “I was trying to work ’round to it,” he answered. “Guess
I’ll go up and get those things of mine out of 29.”

“I’ll give you a hand,” said Clem.

It was not until late that evening that Clem found an opportunity to
broach the subject of football. “By the way,” he said, “Lowell Woodruff
was in yesterday. He’s football manager, you know. Said he’d sent you a
call for early practice and that you hadn’t made a yip.”

“Why, that’s right,” replied Jim. “I found a letter from him when I
got home three days ago. You see, after I left Blaisdell’s I went over
Moose River way with another fellow for a little fishing. Got some
whopping good trout, too. So I didn’t get back to Four Lakes until
Monday. Then I didn’t know if I’d ought to answer the letter or not. He
didn’t say to.”

“No, I fancy he expected you’d show up. Well, there’s no harm done, I
guess. Be all right if you show up to-morrow afternoon.” Clem spoke
with studied carelessness and stooped to unlace a shoe.

“Show up?” asked Jim. “Where do you mean?”

“On the field. For practice. You’re going to play, of course.” This was
more an assertion than a question.

“No,” said Jim, “I tried it last fall and quit. It takes a lot of a
fellow’s time, and then I ain’t--I’m not much good at it.”

“Well, Jim, you’ll have a lot more time this year than you had last,
you know. And as for being good at it, why, Johnny Cade said only this
morning that you looked like promising stuff. Better think it over.”

“You mean Mr. Cade is looking for me to play?”

“Of course he is. You see, the team lost a good many of their best
players last June and Johnny’s pretty anxious to get hold of all the
material he can. I gathered from what Woodie said that they are looking
to you to fit in as a tackle.”

“Tackle? He’s the fellow plays next to the end, ain’t he? Well, I don’t
see what he’d want me back again for, after the way he laid me out last
year.” Jim chuckled. “Gosh, he ’most tore the hide off me, Clem!”

“Well, if you ask me, it was sort of cheeky, throwing him down in the
middle of the season, Jim, and I can’t say I blame him for getting
a bit waxy about it. However, he’s all over that. He isn’t holding
anything against you; I’ll swear to that; and if you go out you’ll get
treated right. Johnny and Woodie both believe in you as a football
player, Jim.”

“If they do,” laughed Jim in a puzzled way, “they’ve got more faith
than I have. Why, honest, Clem, I don’t know much about the game, even
after what they showed me last fall, and I can’t say that I’m keen
about it, either. I always thought playing games was supposed to be
fun, but I call football mighty hard work!”

“What of it? Aren’t afraid of hard work, are you? You know, Jim, a
fellow has a certain amount of--of responsibility toward his school. I
mean it’s his duty to do what he can for it, don’t you see? Now, if you
can play football--”

“But I can’t, Clem.”

“You don’t know. Johnny Cade says you can. Johnny’s a football
authority and ought to know.”

Jim was silent a moment. Then he asked, almost plaintively: “You want I
should play, don’t you?”

“Why, no, Jim. That is--well, I want you to do what you want to do. Of
course, if you think--”

“Yes, but you think I ought to,” Jim persisted. “That’s so, ain’t it?”

“I think,” responded Clem judicially, “that as long as Johnny Cade
wants you, and as long as you have no good reason for not playing, you
ought to try. I don’t want to influence you--”

Clem became aware of Jim’s broad grin and ran down. Then: “What you
laughing at, confound you?” he asked.

“Wasn’t laughing,” chuckled Jim. “Just smiling at the way you don’t
want to influence me.”

“Well, suppose I do?” asked Clem, smiling too. “It’s for the good
of the football team, Jim. And, if you must have the whole truth, I
promised Woodie I’d talk to you. And I have. And now it’s up to you.
You do just as you please. Guess you know best, anyway.”

“Well, maybe I haven’t got any good reason for not playing this year,
or trying to,” mused Jim, enveloping himself in an enormous nightshirt.
“I don’t think I’ll ever make a good football player, but if those
folks want I should try, and you want I should--”

“Hang it, Jim, don’t drag me into it! I’d feel to blame every time you
got a bloody nose!”

“--I don’t mind doing it,” concluded Jim. “Last year it didn’t seem
like I was really needed out there. Maybe this year it will be
different. Maybe Mr. Cade can make me into a tackle. If he can he’s
welcome. Maybe after I’ve been at it a while I’ll get to like it.
Maybe--”

“Maybe you’ll put out that light and go to bed,” said Clem. “Of course
you’ll like it. You’ll be crazy about it after a week or two, or a
month or two, or--”

“Well, if I got so I could really play,” said Jim musingly, as the
light went out, “maybe I would. You can’t tell.”

The next afternoon, having resurrected the football togs he had worn
the season before, Jim went dutifully over to the field and stood
around amongst a steadily growing gathering of old and new candidates.
He found several fellows that he knew well enough to talk to, but,
having arrived early, much of his time was spent in looking on. He
observed the coming of Peter, preceded by a wheelbarrow laden high with
necessities of the game, the subsequent appearance of Manager Woodruff
and Assistant Manager Barr, the latter apparently weighted down with
the cares of all the world, and then the arrival of Coach Cade, in
company with Captain Gus Fingal. By that time fully sixty candidates
were on hand and balls were beginning to hurtle around. Formalities
were dispensed with to-day. Mr. Cade clapped his hands briskly and
announced: “Give your names to Mr. Woodruff or Mr. Barr, fellows, and
hustle it up. Men reporting for the first time will start to work on
the other gridiron. Last-year fellows report to Captain Fingal here.
Let’s get going, Mr. Manager!”

Jim gave his name and other data to Johnny Barr and went across to the
second team field. No one seemed interested in his presence there, and
he stood around a while longer. Eventually the new candidates stopped
coming, and Latham, a substitute quarter-back of last season, took them
in charge. Jim went through just such a program as had engaged him a
year ago. The afternoon, while not so hot as yesterday, was far too
warm for comfort, and the work was a whole lot like drudgery. He caught
balls and passed them, chased them and fell on them, awkwardly rolling
around the turf, made frantic and generally unsuccessful grabs at them
as Latham sent them bouncing away, and then, after a few minutes of
rest, started all over again. At four-thirty he trotted two laps of the
field, keeping, by injunction, close to the edge of the cinder track.

Save that he “weighed in” on the gymnasium scales the next afternoon,
while the worried looking Johnny Barr set the figures down against his
name, Saturday’s program was just like Friday’s. He wasn’t quite so
stiff Saturday night, though, as he had been after the first session.
Clem, feeling responsibility in the matter, asked how he had got along.
Jim said: “All right, I guess.” That’s about all he did say regarding
his football experiences for the next week. He had bought a book of
rules, and Clem observed that every evening he spent a matter of ten or
fifteen minutes on it. Once or twice he invited Clem’s aid, but Clem
wasn’t much use to him.

“You know,” said Clem one evening, “you don’t really have to know the
rules by heart, Jim. You’re not going to referee; you’re just going to
play the game.”

“I sort of like to know what it’s all about, though,” said Jim. “And
maybe,” he added, with a twinkle, “if the referee made a mistake I’d
want to be able to tell him.”

“Yes, I’d try it,” scoffed Clem, who hadn’t seen the twinkle. “You’d
make a big hit all around!”

He was “duck walking” and pushing the charging machine these days, for
he was listed as a lineman. And he was having his six goes regularly at
the tackling dummy, besides. His education was branching out. Perhaps
because he had been through the work last year he made steady progress,
although he was lacking in the experience of those of his companions
who had played football since they were twelve years old. At tackling
he was good, and he got praise more than once; and he was learning to
handle a ball in a safe, clean fashion, no longer treating it as if it
were an egg that might break if he was rude to it. At the end of the
first fortnight he was as good a football man as some twenty others
on the field and better than perhaps ten more. As that particular ten
ceased their connection with football shortly after the Banning High
game, Jim was left for a space superior to none.

So far, save for a word in passing, he had held no communication with
Coach Cade, and if that gentleman felt any satisfaction over Jim’s
presence among the players he disguised it perfectly. Not that Jim had
expected any expression of gratitude, of course, but it was difficult
to reconcile Clem’s statement on that first night of the term with the
coach’s apparent complete indifference. Clem had declared that Mr. Cade
was anxious to have Jim report. And since he had reported, Mr. Cade had
never even noticed him. Jim reached the not unnatural conclusion that
Clem had slightly exaggerated the coach’s concern.

Lowell Woodruff, though, fully atoned for any inattention on the
coach’s part. Lowell assured Jim more than once that he fully
appreciated the latter’s presence among the candidates, and he was
almost embarrassingly solicitous as to his welfare. In fact, his
efforts to keep Jim contented with his lot were so painstaking that Jim
got it into his head that the manager was making fun of him, and he
took a mild dislike to the well-meaning Lowell. As he made no mention
of the matter to Clem, the misunderstanding existed well into the
season.

Alton played the local high school team, winning by 21 to 7 in a
long and uninteresting contest, and defeated Banning High School a
week later by 17 to 0. Jim watched both contests from the bench and
added considerably to his knowledge of the science in which he was
a beginner. But neither game produced any thrilling moments, and
Jim continued unmoved in his opinion that football was rather an
uninteresting pursuit and certainly not deserving of all the time
and attention given it. Then, after a week of practice that made the
preceding fortnight seem in retrospect a period of languid idleness,
Lorimer Academy visited Alton, and Jim’s conviction was slightly
shaken.



CHAPTER VII

OFF-SIDE


Lorimer always gave a scrappy argument. In fact, she had on one
occasion argued so well that a tie score had resulted. This year she
looked better than usual when she went onto the field for practice,
and there were those on the stands who, perhaps naturally pessimistic,
shook their heads and predicted a defeat for the Gray-and-Gold.
They had reason on their side, too, for Lorimer was known to have a
practically veteran team while Alton’s team was still in the throes of
constructing itself around no more than four proven warriors. And the
visitors had superior weight in both line and backfield, although the
superiority was not vast. So the pessimists had plenty of arguments
with which to support their dismal prophecies.

Coach Cade put his best foot forward when the game started, using the
best material he had in the hope of getting a safe lead in the first
half. After that he could use his substitutes with discrimination
and, he believed, hold the enemy at bay. But the safe lead didn’t
materialize according to his program. Gains through the Lorimer line
were few and difficult to make, and before the game was ten minutes old
it was apparent that, with the few plays Alton had at present, she was
going to be hard put to score unless the breaks came her way. In the
first period the only break came when Lorimer blocked Steve Whittier’s
try at a field goal on her thirty-three yards and a Lorimer tackle
scooped up the trickling ball and sped to Alton’s twenty-seven yards
before he was brought down from behind by Billy Frost. It looked very
much like a Lorimer score just then, and when the enemy had tossed a
forward pass across the center of the line for six yards more it looked
vastly more like it. It took Lorimer the next three downs to get the
rest of her distance and fetch up just inside the seventeen. Doubtless
the pessimists were gloomily happy then. But Lorimer didn’t have the
punch to score, for, after one smash at left tackle had been stopped,
an end run had lost half a yard and a forward pass had grounded near
the side-line, her try for a goal from near the twenty-five-yard line
failed.

Alton had some success with a full-back run from kick-formation, Crumb
carrying the ball, and got off one forward-pass of twenty yards, Crumb
to Kinsey, and worked the pigskin back to mid-field and then into
Lorimer territory. But the invasion petered out in a punt that the
Lorimer quarter-back took on his five-yard-line and laid down finally
on his thirty-one. The Lorimer rooters thought well of that incident
and let the fact be known. Alton displayed scarcely any signs of
delight. That ended the first ten-minute quarter.

As if to play even, Fortune favored the home team soon after the second
period began by giving her a chance to score when Billy Frost poked his
way outside tackle and got free for a thirty-eight-yard scamper that
put the ball down on the adversary’s twenty-six. Crumb hit the right
of center for two and got three more outside tackle. Billy Frost tried
the left end, was thrown for no gain, and Steve Whittier dropped back
to the thirty while Quarter-back Kinsey knelt on the turf in front of
him and held his hands out for the ball. Alton was all ready to burst
into triumphant cheers, for Steve was a good place-kicker, and the ball
was directly in front of the goal. But Alton was reckoning without
Mr. Loring Cheswick, center. Loring set himself firmly and carefully,
measured distance and noted direction and then sped the ball a foot
above Pep’s reach!

So that ended that incident, except that Steve did all that was humanly
possible by chasing the bounding pigskin back to the forty-yard line,
gathering it up expeditiously and doubling back toward the Lorimer
goal. But the best he could do was to reach the thirty-four, close to
the side-line, where he was pulled to earth by no fewer than three
of the enemy. Alton seemed discouraged and Pep’s choice of plays was
not of the best. A plunge on the short side of the field netted but a
scant yard and didn’t take the runner over the side-line. Pep’s own
run to the left almost centered the ball but lost the first gain and
two yards more. A fake kick from placement, which fooled nobody, gave
Crumb four yards through center, and after a conference that was rudely
interrupted by the referee, Whittier punted to Lorimer’s three yards.

Lorimer kicked promptly and got distance, and Pep was downed where he
caught. On the first play Levering, at left end, was caught off-side,
and Alton was set back to the forty-seven yards. Two downs failed to
gain, and Alton punted again. This time Pep got height but not much
more and the ball was Lorimer’s on her thirty-one when the catcher
was stopped. It was there and then that the visitor began a march up
the field that would not be denied. Three first downs brought her to
Alton’s thirty-seven. Coach Cade sent in fresh linemen to the number
of three and for a moment the advance faltered. Then a forward-pass
gathered in eight yards and a plunge at center brought another first
down. Progress was slower but still apparently sure, and Lorimer
reached the sixteen in four plays. There, however, with the time-keeper
hovering fatefully near, Alton dug her cleats and spoiled two attempts
at her line. From the fourteen yards Lorimer brought off a tricky
forward-pass that was shot across the goal-line from behind a wall of
moving interference. That pass failed badly, though, for the receiver
was not in position, and after the ball had been juggled by two Alton
backs it grounded. Had Lorimer fulfilled the expectations of the
audience she might have ended the first half with a three-point lead,
for it was only reasonable to suppose that a try-at-goal from the
twenty-four yards would succeed. But Lorimer, perhaps reasoning that
her opponent was certain to score before the game was over, in which
case three points would not be sufficient for a victory, decided on all
or nothing. With eight yards needed for a first down she set the stage
for a drop-kick and then shot her quarter-back on a wide run behind
good interference. For a moment it looked as if she was going to get
what she was after, for when the quarter turned in he went romping
straight for the goal-line, threw off two tacklers and seemed safe for
a touch-down. But Hick Powers saved the day for the Gray-and-Gold,
plunging into the runner and lifting him back into a fighting mêlée.
The referee whistled and dug his heel into the five-yard line, and
then, after a look at the rods, waved his hand up the field. Alton
shouted relief and triumph. After Whittier had punted from behind his
line the half ended.

Jim went back to the gymnasium with the rest of the squad, feeling
for almost the first time that perhaps football did, after all, hold
compensations for all the drudgery and hard knocks entailed; that is,
if you were on the field instead of the bench! He began to wonder what
his chances were of ever taking a hand in a real contest, and what he
could do to better them.

Mr. Cade’s talk before the players took the field again was brief
and energetic. Jim, listening attentively from the outer edge of the
circle, had lost his unsympathetic attitude. There was sense in what
Johnny was telling them, and reason. After all, it _did_ seem necessary
to lick Lorimer, and, if you granted that, then there was excuse enough
for all this intensity of purpose. Jim added his own voice to the cheer
that followed the coach’s final grim, “Let’s go get ’em!”

There were changes in the line-up of each team when the ball was kicked
off again, but Alton presented more new faces than did her opponent.
There were new men in the line and two new men behind it. One of these
was Latham at quarter-back. Latham proved good medicine while he
stayed in, for Alton worked faster and with more vim than in the first
half. Yet for seven minutes of the ten neither team threatened. Then
a fumbled punt was recovered by Levering on Lorimer’s thirty-three
yards and suddenly the Gray-and-Gold visioned success and went after it
hard. Crumb, who had borne a great deal of the work in the first two
periods and had been taken out to rest, was hurried back and celebrated
his return with a fine off-tackle charge that took the ball to the
twenty-six. Latham gained a yard straight through center and Crumb made
it first down on the enemy’s twenty-two.

An end run put away a scant two, and Frost was stopped trying to get
inside right tackle. Steve Whittier went back to the thirty-three
yards as though to try a goal, but the ball went to Crumb and the
full-back got another two through right guard. With six to go on fourth
down a field-goal seemed the only hope, for Alton’s passing game was
still undeveloped, and when Steve again went back the eyes of the
Lorimer sympathizers sought the cross-bar. But Steve didn’t kick the
ball when he got it. He lifted it in his right hand and stepped back
and out to the left. Then he shot it diagonally across toward the
right-hand corner of the field, where Levering was speeding toward the
goal-line. The right end looked over his shoulder, stopped abruptly,
letting a Lorimer back go past, and pulled the pass out of the air
on the seven yards. He made the four before he was forced over the
side-line. When the ball had been brought in and a winded Lorimer man
had been administered to, Crumb tried the right of center and made a
scant yard. Pandemonium reigned in the stands. Latham tried to knife
himself through center and added part of a second yard. Crumb again
went straight at center. It seemed that Alton was determined to make
that score there or not at all. The linesman’s little iron stick moved
forward another two feet. Fourth down and still about two to go. This
time Crumb went back a little farther from his line, and when, once
more, he took the pass from center he was going hard when he reached
the swaying lines. Playing desperately but playing low, Lorimer might
have withstood this final attack by the heavy full-back had he stayed
on his feet, but he didn’t. He went up and over, and although he was
soon borne back again, he had reached the last white line first, and
that long-deferred score had been won at last!

When the last quarter started, a minute and a half after Captain Fingal
had missed the try-for-point by inches only, Coach Cade put back most
of his first-string players, and for the succeeding ten minutes of
playing time the Gray-and-Gold punted on first down as often as the
ball became hers inside her forty-yard line. She was frankly on the
defensive now and sought delay by all fair means. Twice, early in
the period, Lorimer started an advance by forward-passes that got
no farther than the thirty-five. The second one ended when Levering
intercepted a long heave and ran it back into enemy territory. On the
whole, that final quarter was all Alton’s, for the ball reached her
territory only three times and never stayed long. Lorimer’s passing
game failing her, she had little left to offer, for while her backs
could still gain through the opposing line the gains were too short to
score with.

When the quarter was almost over, Coach Cade ripped his team apart and
put it together again with many new components. It was risky, but the
results upheld him. Jim Todd, never for an instant expecting the call
to duty, failed to hear it until a neighbor ejected him from the bench
with a rude hand at the back of his neck. Jim, blinking, found Coach
Cade beckoning. “Go in at left tackle,” he commanded. “Roice is out.
Report to the referee and don’t speak to another person until the first
play is over. Let’s see what you can do, Todd. If any one gets through
you you’ll hear from me!”

Jim tried to remember all those instructions as he hurried on and
concluded that he had probably missed some of them. Probably he hadn’t,
though, for he fulfilled them all. No one threatened his position
seriously during the remaining three minutes of actual play. Or, if
any one did, Jim didn’t realize it. Once he got quite a thrill when a
scowling, dirt-smeared face crashed into his shoulder, and he seized a
writhing body and deposited it back where it had come from, and once
he got a terrific jar when, seeking to tackle a speeding Lorimer half,
he missed badly and landed, to the best of his knowledge, on the back
of his neck and did a wild and doubtless inelegant somersault. He
felt both hurt and foolish and wondered for an instant if any one had
observed his humiliation. There was, he concluded, quite a difference
between tackling the dummy and tackling an enemy runner. He made up
his mind that the next time he would do better. But, although he ran
around a good deal during the rest of the game, and got slightly winded
when some unknown person butted him in the stomach with a knee, he had
no opportunity to redeem himself as a tackler. To his surprise, he
discovered that he was considerably excited, so excited, in fact, that
after one play a horn squawked and a voice that Jim didn’t like at all
called: “Alton left tackle off-side!”

“_Me?_” demanded Jim in tones of outrage. “Who says so?”

He looked about for some one to discuss it with, but Pep Kinsey, back
at quarter, told him to shut up and watch what he was doing, and
then Lorimer’s signals came again and he had to accept the verdict.
Fortunately that five-yard set-back, occurring as it did well inside
Lorimer territory, made no real difference, and after a Lorimer back
had made a desperate effort to skirt the Alton left end and had been
piled on his head for a scant one-yard gain the game ended.

Going back to the gymnasium, with the lessening cheers of the Alton
supporters in his ears, Jim tried to convince Charley Levering that
some one had done him a great injustice. But Charley only grinned and
said rudely: “You’re cuckoo, Todd. You were off-side a yard when the
ball moved.”

“I was?” asked Jim, crestfallen, still incredulous.

“Of course you were. I saw you myself, didn’t I? You’ve got to be
mighty clever to beat the ball and get away with it nowadays, Todd. If
I were you I’d cut it out.”

“But I didn’t mean to! I didn’t know--”

“That’s what we all say,” jeered Levering. “But all it gets us is five
yards--backward!”

Jim was forced to the conclusion that the individual with the
unpleasant voice was probably right, after all. Jim recalled the fact
that at the moment he had been slightly excited. Maybe he had started
too soon. He wondered if Coach Cade would hold it against him. He must
take care not to do it again, anyhow!

There was a meeting of the Maine-and-Vermont Club that evening and
Jim didn’t see Clem to talk to until bedtime. Then, to Clem’s utter
surprise, Jim began a narrative, a most detailed and exhaustive story
of the last three minutes of the afternoon’s contest. Jim recounted
what he had done, what he had failed to do, what he had thought and how
he had felt during every one of the, approximately, six hundred seconds
that he had been on the field. Clem let him run down. Then he said:
“Well, Jim, I’ll say you did mighty well.”

Jim looked thoughtful while a slow smile encompassed his features.
“Well, I don’t know,” he answered modestly. “Do you really?”

“I certainly do,” affirmed Clem emphatically. “Of course, Lorimer was
probably pretty well tuckered out by that time, but, just the same, for
you to keep them from scoring was quite a stunt.”

“Well,” began Jim doubtfully.

“If you’d had any help it would be different, Jim, but for you, alone
and unaided, to do a thing like you tell about was great!”

“Alone?” faltered Jim, puzzled. “I didn’t say I was alone. Of course I
wasn’t alone, Clem!”

“You weren’t?” Clem registered surprise. “Oh, my mistake, old son.
You see, you didn’t mention any one else and so I naturally concluded
that--”

“Oh, gosh,” muttered Jim feebly.

“So you had help, eh?”

“For a rotten apple I’d punch your face,” replied Jim, grinning.
“Honest, I didn’t know I was bragging, Clem!”

“I don’t think you were, Jim. I was just having my little joke. Anyway,
for a chap who couldn’t see football at all a couple of weeks ago you
seem to be at least faintly interested in it!”

“I guess,” said Jim thoughtfully, “I’m going to like it!”



CHAPTER VIII

JIM BUYS A FOOTBALL


As a room-mate Jim was, Clem soon decided, a very satisfactory
chap. They got on together excellently. Jim was not monotonous as
a companion, for while he might fairly be termed even tempered you
couldn’t call him good-natured in the popular meaning of the term. If
you expected to put anything over on Jim, relying on his good nature
to get away with it, you were in for a surprise. Clem realized that
without a demonstration. Jim would take a joke perfectly, but he had
a sense of dignity that prohibited liberties. That he was capable of
temper Clem didn’t doubt, although he held it well under control.

When Jim had declared in his letter to Clem that he was “neat about
the place” he had, Clem soon decided, stated less than the facts.
Clem himself was certainly not untidy, but his idea of neatness and
Jim’s were wide apart. Jim looked after his part of Number 15 so
carefully and minutely that Clem’s half of the room suffered badly by
comparison. Clem said once: “You aren’t neat, Jim, you’re finnicky!”
For a fortnight Clem really suffered from such excess of tidiness, for
quite unconsciously Jim’s attentions were extended to his room-mate’s
territory and the book tossed on the table in the morning had
mysteriously disappeared by afternoon, to be discovered, after patient
search, neatly hidden under a pile of others. If he left his cap on his
bed, half an hour later it was gone. At first he used to look on the
floor for it and under the bed. Later he learned to go directly to his
closet and take it down from a hook. The second time this experience
fell to him he said: “Hang it all, Jim, what’s the idea? Here it is in
the closet. You must have put it there. I know I didn’t!”

“Really?” asked Jim, surprised. “I don’t remember touching it. I’m
awfully sorry.”

“Oh, it’s all right,” answered Clem, “but do you know what I think? I
think you must have been born in a filing cabinet!”

Jim looked slightly blank, and Clem went out without elucidating.

After some two weeks of life in Number 15 with Jim, Clem caught the
habit. He never attained to such perfection of orderliness as the
other’s, and doubtless to the end of their days together Jim secretly
considered Clem just a trifle careless about the room, but, just as
evidence of how thoroughly he had fallen under Jim’s spell, he once,
having reached the door on his way to chapel, returned the length of
the room to place his slippers more perfectly in alignment under the
head of the bed. It is doubtful, however, if Jim would have given him
any credit for that. Jim would have kept his slippers, had he owned a
pair, in his closet!

At the beginning of the term the two were not together a great deal
outside of sleeping and study hours. Jim foregathered frequently with
certain members of the Maine-and-Vermont Club and Clem’s acquaintances
were not yet Jim’s. They might have been, for Clem suggested more than
once that his room-mate accompany him on his social excursions. But Jim
invariably had an excuse. The latter did meet two or three of Clem’s
circle of intimates, but the meetings were only casual. The school year
was a fortnight old when Jim first blossomed out in society.

The occasion was a birthday party given by Arthur Landorf to Arthur
Landorf and some of Arthur Landorf’s friends. Much assistance, however,
was provided by Art’s parents, for they had sent a box holding
practically all the requirements of a birthday celebration, including a
frosted cake with seventeen pink candles. The affair was held in Number
20 Lykes, which room Art shared with Larry Adams. Art was a hockey and
baseball man and Larry a member of the second eleven. When Art invited
Clem he added: “And bring your room-mate, whatever his name is, if he
cares to come.” So Clem delivered the invitation to Jim and Jim started
to find an excuse, as usual. But Clem was fed up by now.

“Stop it!” he said sternly. “I don’t give a continental if you’ve got a
dinner engagement with Doctor Maitland himself and are down to address
the faculty afterwards! You’re going with me to Art’s blow-out and you
might just as well make up your mind to it. Say, what’s the colossal
idea, anyhow? Aren’t my associates good enough for you?”

“Oh, I don’t like to butt in on that crowd,” said Jim. “I ain’t their
sort, Clem. I--I haven’t got any parlor tricks.”

“Parlor tricks! Who’s asking you to do tricks? You can sit on a chair
or a bed or something without falling off, can’t you? And you can say
‘Thank you’ when some one shoves a hunk of cake at you, I suppose.
Well, that’s all you have to do, you big lummox.”

“We-ell, if you think I won’t be in the way,” said Jim dubiously, “and
this fellow really said to ask me--”

“Oh, shut up,” grumbled Clem. “Would I be asking you if he didn’t?
Thursday night, old son, and don’t forget.”

“Well, maybe--”

“That’ll be all,” declared Clem. “It’s settled.”

So Jim went along, somewhat subdued at first and hanging back when they
reached Number 20 Lykes, from beyond the closed door of which sounds of
merriment issued. But Clem herded him inside and shut off escape, and
then Jim was shaking hands with Art and assuring him that he was “glad
to make his acquaintance.” Whereupon, Art, not to be outdone, replied
gravely: “The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Todd,” and Jim made his way
through a sea of protruding legs to a seat in a far corner, fortunately
not observing the smiles that followed his progress. To his relief, he
presently discovered that he knew three of the party, at least to speak
to: Lowell Woodruff and Hick Powers and Larry Adams. The gathering was
presently completed by the arrival of Gus Fingal and George Imbrie, the
latter editor-in-chief of the school weekly, _The Doubleay_. The two
were amusingly unalike, for Imbrie’s short, slim form reached only to
the football captain’s shoulder, and whereas Gus’s big, square head was
radiant with tow-colored hair that looked almost silvery in the light,
Imbrie’s was clad in very dark locks slicked smoothly away from a pale,
intellectual forehead. Imbrie wore tortoise-shell “cheaters,” although
it was rumored that they were only for effect and aided his sight no
more than Harold Lloyd’s aided his! With the arrival of the last guests
the proceedings opened officially. That is, Art turned off the electric
light, switched aside a newspaper that had covered the birthday cake
and applied a match to the seventeen little pink candles. Loud applause
followed and then, at a signal from Larry Adams, Art tried to blow out
the candles in one mighty breath and failed because Gus slammed him
between the shoulders just then. After that the cake was cut--with a
clasp-knife for want of anything better--and the feast began.

Some hosts might have kept the cake until toward the end of the repast,
but Art said it didn’t seem to him to matter whether you ate your cake
first or last, just so you got it, and so it was devoured right along
with the sandwiches and pickles and olives and ginger cookies and sweet
chocolate and all the other delicacies. Of the gathering, however, four
were out of luck, for although the football candidates at Alton were
allowed more leeway in the matter of diet than before the days of Coach
Cade, sweets were not in great favor, and so Jim, who, while not at
the training table, was still bound in honor to observe training table
rules, and Captain Gus and Powers and Adams had to be content with
homeopathic portions of cake and to confine the balance of their menu
to the sandwiches and olives. But there was plenty of tepid gingerale
and they fared well enough.

Lowell Woodruff found a place next to Jim when the party reseated
itself and did his best to be agreeable. Jim, however, still viewed him
with suspicion and the conversation didn’t become animated, and after a
while Lowell gave up and turned to his neighbor on the other side. On
the whole, Jim didn’t have a very happy time at that party. Clem was
separated from him by the width of the room and hidden for the most
of the time by the table, and Jim felt rather out of it. He was glad
when Gus Fingal’s departure broke up the gathering. He tried to tell
his host politely that he had enjoyed his party, but was saved from
the untruth when one of the others pushed him outside. In the jostling
and confusion he got away without a word to Art. Returning to the next
dormitory, Clem did all the talking. Perhaps it didn’t occur to him to
ask if Jim had had a good time. At all events, he didn’t ask, and Jim
was glad of it. Jim was a poor liar, and knew it.

That ended Jim’s social activities for some time. There were no more
birthday parties among Clem’s friends, but Clem tried on several
occasions to get Jim to accompany him on visits to other rooms, and Jim
thanked him and declined firmly. Clem called him a hermit.

Following the Lorimer game Jim’s services were called on daily.
Sometimes he got into the scrimmage for only a handful of minutes,
infrequently he worked through a whole period. He had survived
the second and last cut and had taken his place on the squad as a
second-string tackle. There was even the possibility, indeed the
probability, of getting into the Kenly Hall game, for the roster of
tackles included only three others: Roice, Sawyer and Mulford. Jim was
the least experienced of the lot, and at this stage he knew perfectly
well that so far as playing ability went he was a bad fourth. But he
had hopes of becoming as good as Mulford, at least. In more optimistic
moments he even saw himself rivaling Willard Sawyer, who was the
present incumbent of the right tackle position. What he couldn’t
imagine was ever equaling Roice. “Rolls” was almost the best lineman on
the team. Only Captain Fingal was graded above him by popular opinion.

Jim had not only held the weight he had brought back with him but had
added three pounds to it, and while, later on, he frequently dropped
those three during a hard afternoon, he always found them again. Had
Jim been more experienced he might well have wondered sometimes at
being retained on the squad. He had played football but three weeks
or so before the present season and had not during those three
weeks shown much ability. He was at least six pounds lighter than
the position called for, since Alton always presented a heavy line.
In general appearance, he did not suggest the ideal tackle. But Jim
had seen little football and so it didn’t occur to him that there was
anything unusual in his choice as a tackle. Not a few amateur critics,
however, declared that Todd might be end material but would never be
of any value as a tackle. He didn’t have enough weight, they said, and
what he had wasn’t distributed properly. Besides, who was he, anyway,
and what had he ever done to get where he was?

But Coach Cade wasn’t making a very great mistake. If Jim was somewhat
lacking in weight--he was nine pounds lighter than Rolls Roice, for
instance--he possessed two other of the necessary qualifications of
a good tackle, and might later show that he had a third. Weight he
lacked, mental ability he had not shown, but physical speed and stamina
he did have. He was fast developing into the speediest candidate for
his position, and Coach Cade, who held speed in the deepest reverence,
was ready to forgive him many shortcomings. Also, Jim had hard muscles,
muscles developed in the open air and at a greater variety of strenuous
tasks than most boys know, and he had endurance. You might tire Jim,
but you couldn’t tire him out. At least, no one ever had. Jim’s father
could tell you of walking sixty miles between daybreak and sundown in
the old days of logging in Maine; and Jim looked a whole lot like his
father! Coach Cade couldn’t know of the boy’s stamina yet, but he did
suspect it, and as time went on he was able to indulge in not a little
self-gratulation, which is pleasant even to a football coach.

Once having become thoroughly interested in the game, Jim learned
about twice as fast as he had before. At first he accepted instruction
without giving it much thought. Now he sought the reason for everything
he was taught, found it and understood what he was doing and why. Jim
liked to know the logic of what he undertook. If he couldn’t discover
a reason for doing a thing he didn’t do it unless some one forced him
to. Then he did it only half-heartedly. His rules book helped him a
lot. There were books that would have explained many things to him
and saved him much thought, but he didn’t know of them; and studying
things out for himself doubtless made him remember them better. He
amused Clem about this time--I am speaking of the week between the
Lorimer and Southport games--by buying a football of his own and
keeping it on the closet shelf. Several times daily he would take it
down and handle it; drop it on the floor and catch it as it rebounded,
place it on the floor and pick it up with one hand, his long fingers
wrapping themselves about the end like--as Clem phrased it--a starfish
on a quahog. Sometimes Clem would look up to find Jim with the ball
poised in his right hand as if he meant to hurl it straight through the
window, and always when he studied his rules book the brown leather
spheroid was in his lap. Clem told him one evening, in mild protest,
that he was sickening.

“You fondle that silly thing like it was a baby! What’s the idea, Jim?”

“Just want to--to get used to it,” replied Jim. “Want to know what I
can do with it. You see, shaped like it is, you can’t handle it just
like you can a round ball, Clem.”

“My word! Think of that! And you discovered that all by yourself, too,
didn’t you?”

“Shut up,” said Jim, grinning. “Say, just stand over there and toss me
a few, will you?”

“Toss you-- No, I’ll be switched if I’m going to turn this room into
a gridiron. First thing I know you’ll be moving the furniture out and
kicking the thing around!”

But he did toss the ball to Jim in the end, and Jim caught it various
ways, studying each way, while Clem looked on and waited for the return
of the ball with the expression of one humoring a lunatic. So far as
Clem ever discovered that ball was never taken out of Number 15, until
it went out for good, but it certainly saw a lot of handling there!

The Thursday before the Southport game Jim played a full fifteen
minutes against the second team, and busy, strenuous minutes they were.
He had been tried at left tackle and right tackle, and had discovered
no preference, but to-day he went in between Smith, substituting
Captain Fingal, and Borden, the regular right end. There had already
been a fifteen-minute scrimmage with the scrubs, in which the big team
had scored a solitary touchdown, and now the scrubs were aching for
vengeance. Jim had his hands very full with the opposing guard when the
first team had the ball, for the guard played wide and Jim had a big
stretch of line to cover. But he was fast, and it soon developed that
plays sent through the right of its own line were netting the first
team more than those on the other side. Jim usually beat his opponent
on starting, and he came up hard, with his back straight and a lot of
power in his charge. He made mistakes still and was “called down” half
a dozen times for one thing or another. But even the most experienced
fared not much better that day. Twice Jim spilled a runner behind the
line--once, alas, receiving as his reward harsh words because he should
have gone for the interference instead--and he tackled well, using his
body and not relying on his arms alone. On the whole, while he made no
spectacular plays that afternoon, Jim came out of the fifteen-minute
session with his stock higher than it had been, and when the Alton
paper published the day’s line-up on Saturday morning, the sixth line
read: “Sawyer or Todd.” But then, a hard game was not looked for and
Coach Cade had planned to use several substitutes at the start. As it
turned out, Jim didn’t get in until the third period was half over and
the game was laid safely away, the score 26 to 9. But he showed up
rather well while he played, which was until he got a wrenched knee a
scant three minutes before the end, and emerged with a nickname. When
he came off, limping, some sympathetic freshman shouted, “Atta boy,
Slim!” And “Slim” Todd it was thereafter.



CHAPTER IX

EXPERTS IN CONFERENCE


There was no work on Monday for those who had taken part in the
Southport game. Even Jim, although he had contributed but some fifteen
minutes of his time to the contest, was excused. The victory had been
an easy one, but it had nevertheless cost Alton heavily, since four of
the first and second-string men had met with injuries. Only Crumb had
fared seriously, however, and not for several days was the full extent
of his injury known to the school at large. Then it was learned that he
had fractured some bone with an unpronounceable name, located in his
left leg, and would be out of the game for some time. In fact, whether
he could get around again in time for the Kenly game was problematic.
This news was received with consternation, for Crumb had shown himself
the best ground-gainer in the Gray-and-Gold backfield, the only one,
indeed, who could be relied on for heavy line-smashes to produce short
but certain gains. Weight, speed and fight made him an ideal full-back,
and his loss, even if it proved only temporary, was going to be keenly
felt. Tennyson, who must fill his shoes, was twelve pounds lighter and
was an almost unknown quantity as yet. He had shown ability in practice
and in the first two games, but had not played against Lorimer, nor
against Southport until the last quarter was well along. However well
he might develop, it seemed certain that he would never show either the
power or the ding-dong fighting spirit that had made Tom Crumb’s work
notable.

Jim’s knee responded readily to treatment, and he could have stood the
gaff on Monday had he been allowed to, which he wasn’t. All he could do
was go to the field and watch the first team substitutes practice and,
later, get mauled about by the second. The only incident of interest
to Jim occurred when Manager Woodruff found him on the stand and
announced: “Todd, you’re to join the training table to-night.”

Jim blinked and considered. Then, “Well, I don’t know, Woodruff,” he
said slowly. “I guess I’d just as lief not.”

“You--what?” gasped Lowell.

“Well, you see I’m getting on right well where I am, and I’m sort of
used to the fellows.”

“You’re a queer guy,” said Lowell, feelingly. “Don’t you know that any
other fellow would be tickled to death to be taken on?”

Jim pondered that. “No, I didn’t know,” he acknowledged finally.
“Anyhow, I don’t really care two cents about it, and if there’s some
one else that would like it--”

“Can’t be done, Todd,” Lowell grinned. “Mr. Cade’s set his heart on
you.”

“He says I’m to go?” asked Jim with more animation.

“He sure does. Them’s his orders, Todd. Show up this evening, eh?”

“Of course. I didn’t quite understand. Much obliged.”

“Quite welcome. Say, you’re getting along pretty well, aren’t you.
How’s the ankle, by the way?”

“Ankle? Oh, it was my knee. It’s all right. Say, I guess maybe I acted
sort of sour the other night.”

“What night was that?” asked Lowell.

“Up in that fellow’s room. What’s his name? The fellow who had the
birthday cake. Yes, Landorf. Well, I guess I seemed like I didn’t want
to talk.”

“Why, yes, I did get some such impression, Todd, but it was your say.
If I didn’t want to talk, I wouldn’t. But I always do!”

“Well, it was like this.” Jim frowned slightly in the effort to
explain. “I sort of thought you were kidding me.”

“Kidding you?”

“Yes, before that. Right along. You were always sort of telling me that
I was getting on great, and things like that.”

“Well, Great Scott, so you were!”

“Maybe I was. I didn’t know. It didn’t seem so to me, anyhow. Seemed
to me I was pretty stupid. And I thought you were sort of having a
joke with me. I didn’t mind, exactly, only-- Well, maybe I did mind a
little.”

“But I wasn’t joking, Todd. I--look here, I’ll be honest. Remember
how you up and flew the coop last Fall? That was Dolf Chapin’s fault.
You needed a bit of patting on the back and encouragement to make you
stick. He didn’t see it. So you got it into your head that nobody loved
you and your pie was all crust. Well, I didn’t want it to happen again
like that this year. Why, bless your dear heart, sonny, I’ve watched
you the way a fond mother watches her favorite kid. Every time I’ve
seen you sitting down there on the bench looking kind of lonesome I’ve
had heart failure. I wanted to go over and tell you funny stories
and sing songs and do tricks to bring the light of happiness back to
your sad eyes! I dare say I sounded like a silly ass sometimes when I
tried to cheer you up, but that was because you aren’t what I’d call
responsive, Todd, and I always had the feeling that you thought I was
a blamed pest. You know, anything like that does kind of take the zest
from a chap’s conversation!”

Jim was smiling, and as Lowell paused he chuckled and said: “Gosh, I
thought all the time that you thought I was rotten and didn’t know
it, and were just having fun seeing how much I’d swallow! Say, I hope
you’ll excuse me, Woodruff.”

“Sure will! Anyway, I fancy it was my--well--method of approach that
was at fault. I was so gol-derned anxious to make you one of our happy
little family so you wouldn’t jump the traces again that--well, I
guess I was _too_ anxious! Believe me, though, I wasn’t making fun of
you, Todd. Wouldn’t have had a chance, anyway. Why, hang it, you’ve
made more progress than any geezer in the bunch! You didn’t know much
football, when you come right down to it, and you _learned_. Now you
know more than a lot of the fellows who have been playing for four or
five years.”

“_Me?_” ejaculated Jim. He looked at Lowell with something of the
old suspicion. But the manager met his eyes squarely and nodded
emphatically.

“You, Todd! Why, you’re coming ahead so fast that you’ve got Johnny
Cade blinking. I could tell you something that would make you open
your eyes, but I mustn’t. Well, I’ve got to be getting back down there
and earning my princely wage. Don’t forget to show up at training table
to-night. I’m responsible for you.”

“I won’t. And--say, I’m glad you really think I’m getting on. It was
right hard at first to get the hang of things. Maybe I ain’t got the
hang of ’em yet, but I guess I’m some better.”

“Rather! That’s speaking very mildly, too. See you later!”

Being only human, Jim sat there and basked in the sunshine of Lowell’s
praise for some time. He had worked hard and faithfully and until now
he had never been assured that he had really won success. Of course,
Clem had spoken encouragingly many times, but Clem was a friend and
no football man and maybe didn’t know. Lowell Woodruff was different.
Lowell knew football and football players and he was on the inside. Jim
hugged his knees and felt that life was a very satisfactory affair.
And then, when practice was over, he followed the players back to the
gymnasium, realized that he had no reason for going inside and so
wandered across the campus and through State street and at the next
corner met with an encounter that caused him to reconsider his opinion
of life.

There was a conference in Coach Cade’s quarters that Monday evening.
The coach occupied rooms in the old-fashioned white house at the
corner of Academy and State streets, opposite the main gate to the
campus. His living-room was a comfortable place of faded carpet and
old walnut furniture brightened by such modern things as a handsome
electric lamp on the big round table, a steel filing cabinet and many
books and magazines littering the apartment. To-night were present the
host himself, Captain Gus Fingal, Lowell Woodruff, Johnny Barr, Pep
Kinsey, Steve Whittier, Rolls Roice, Billy Frost and Charley Levering.
Coach Cade, seated by the table, held several sheets of paper in one
hand and a briar pipe in the other. The visitors sat around the table
or adjacent to it and were respectfully attentive to the coach’s words.

“I thought,” Mr. Cade was saying in his quiet, pleasant voice, “it was
about time for some of us to get together and look over the ground. I
asked two or three more to be present to-night, but I don’t see them.
Perhaps they’ll show up later.”

“My fault, Coach,” said Lowell. “I couldn’t get in touch with them in
time.”

“Then it wasn’t your fault, Lowell. But there are enough of us here to
discuss things, and a discussion is about all I had in mind. You see,
fellows, Saturday’s game finished the half-season. From now on we’ll be
pointing to the Kenly game. What comes before that must be met as best
it can. Our job now, and it’s a big job, too, is to build up for Kenly
Hall.”

“Don’t forget Mount Millard, Mr. Cade,” said Billy Frost. “We’ve got to
lick them, sir, after what they did to us last year!”

“We’ll do our best, Frost, but we mustn’t go out of our way much.
So far, we’ve come along pretty easily, fellows. We’re fairly
well grounded in the rudiments, although there’s still chance for
improvement, of course, and we’ve developed some team play. Now,
however, we’ve got to consider a plan of campaign. In doing that we
must take into account our own material and Kenly’s, decide what sort
of a game we are best fitted to play and what style of game we may
expect from the enemy. The one outstanding feature of our team so far
is speed. We’ve shown more speed than we showed at any time last year,
and I’m convinced that we can show still more. I like speed, fellows,
speed in starting and speed afterwards. I’ve seen a fast team win from
a team that knew more football and played far smoother more than once,
only because the better team--better theoretically, that is--lacked
speed. The simplest plays will go well if they go fast, and the
cleverest, most deceptive ones will fail if they’re run off slow.

“This year we’ve got a fast line and a fast backfield. We aren’t quite
as heavy in the line as we were either last year or the year before
that, and we don’t begin to have the weight in the backfield. But lack
of weight can be more than offset by speed, and so it’s speed and more
speed that we must go after. It’s rather early to say what we’re to
expect from Kenly. She’s made a good start, but no better than our own,
and hasn’t had to show anything but ordinary formations and old-stock
plays. But we know that she’s got most of her last year’s line back
again and three or four of the backs that gave us so much trouble. Her
line is heavy and her backfield’s heavy, and it’s reasonable to suppose
that she’ll build her game on those facts. Kenly has always favored the
line-smashing game and I’d be surprised if she changed much this year.
However, we’ll know more about that later.”

Mr. Cade studied a paper a moment. “It comes to this, then,” he
resumed. “Granted that Kenly will rely on line bucks and runs outside
tackles for most of her gains, it’s up to us to build a defense that
will meet that style of play. Weight won’t do it, for she’ll beat us
there. She’ll go through us if we give her the start. The only way to
stop her is to not let her get started. We must get the jump on her,
fellows, and that means speed. If we can hold her in the line we can
meet her on equal terms in other departments, I think. We may even
have a slight edge on her when it comes to the kicking game. What Kenly
will bring in the way of forward passes I can’t say. That, too, is
something we’ll have to get a line on later. But she has never been
dangerous with her overhead stuff. Her coach has never taken to that
style of game much. But if she does develop a good passing game we’ve
got to meet it with the same stuff, speed. Speed, then, is going to be
the big cry here this Fall. I want to impress that fact on you here and
now. I want you to go away from here thinking speed, and I want you to
keep right on thinking it until the last play of the Kenly game is over.

“Now let’s talk about offense a little. For the sake of argument, we’ll
say that we’ve got the edge on Kenly for fast playing. We’ll assume
that our line charges quicker than hers, that our backs get started
faster and run faster, that we pull off our plays and our kicks faster.
Now, then, what sort of an attack are we going to use? What style of
offense are we going to build on? What do you think, Captain Fingal?”

“If we’re faster than Kenly, and speed makes up for the difference in
weight, we’re starting even, aren’t we?”

“Possibly, yes. We’ll say so.”

“Then we can play any style there is, can’t we? I mean, Coach, we
stand just as good a chance of making our line plays good as she does;
and the same with kicks and passes and end runs.”

“True, assuming that the teams are evenly balanced, which we are
assuming. But what we want for an attack isn’t something just as good,
Gus, but something better. Now, suppose--”

“I’d say we ought to dope out a passing and running game, Coach,” broke
in Pep Kinsey. “Something based on speed that might take them off their
feet. Say we had a formation that was good for a punt or a pass or a
run outside tackle. Then suppose we put a lot of fizz into it and had
them guessing what was coming. If Tom Crumb’s out of the game we can’t
look for a whole lot against their line between tackles, I guess. I
don’t know how Sam Tennyson will develop, but he’s light, sir, and the
rest of us aren’t whales. I guess you’ve got the right dope, all right,
when you talk speed!”

“A corking good passing game is our best bet, Mr. Cade,” offered
Levering. “Don’t you think so, sir?”

“I’ll tell you what I think, Levering. I think whatever we build on
that thing’s got to have speed underneath it. All right. Here’s speed.”
He held a hand out, palm upward. “Now what? What shall we put on next
for a second story?”

There was a moment’s silence. Then the quarter-back spoke eagerly.
“Deception!”

“Right! Speed and deception, fellows. That’s a tough combination to
beat. And it’s tougher than ever if the other fellow is slow in getting
off. Kinsey’s idea of a triple-threat formation is what I’ve had in
mind. That’s what we ought to have, I’m sure. Last Fall showed me one
thing conclusively, and that is that having more than two formations,
one for kicking and one for everything else, is a big mistake. You
remember that we changed our backfield all about when we made a
forward-pass. Of course, we did run from that formation now and then,
but the thing was a give-away, just the same. When Kenly saw that ‘C
Formation’ she knew pretty well what to expect, and after the first
half she looked for a pass every time and, if I remember correctly,
we made just five out of fourteen attempts. This year I propose that
we find a formation for the backs that will answer every purpose of
attack, even punting. When we decide on that we’ll build our plays on
the formation instead of suiting the formation to the plays.”

“That sounds good,” said Gus. “Only I don’t just see how it’s to be
done. If we place our backs too far behind the line we can’t get them
through on quick openings. If we put Steve too close he won’t be able
to get punts off before Kenly gets on top of him.”

“As for the latter,” said Coach Cade, “I don’t agree. Remember, Gus,
we’re building on speed. If Steve gets his kicks off a bit quicker than
he does now he can kick from nearer the line.”

“Besides,” said Pep, “how is Kenly going to know that it is a kick if
Steve doesn’t go back? Seems to me that’s the beauty of it. Keep ’em
guessing every minute! Hot stuff!”

“We’ll take up the matter of that formation later,” said the coach.
“Just now there’s another thing I want to talk about. What kind of a
passing game can we work out? I have my own idea, but I’d like to hear
from you.”

“Whatever it is, it’s got to be a heap better than last year’s,” said
Rolls Roice. “As you said, Coach, they were looking for our tosses
every time toward the last and they didn’t go for a hang. If Kenly had
had the sense to grab the ball sometimes instead of knocking it down
she’d have licked us worse than she did.”

“There’s one thing about the passing game,” said the coach. “If you
can’t have a good one you’re better off with none. And having a good
one isn’t so easy. You can plan it out on paper so that it looks
like a world-beater, but if your ends and backs can’t reach the ball
and handle it perfectly, your plan’s a fizzle. You didn’t have much
luck last year, Pep, and neither did Knowles or Suydman. Catches were
mighty few, even when there was a fair chance. I’m not saying this
in criticism of you, but just to emphasize the fact that it’s the
individual player who counts in the passing game, and that if we’re to
show anything in that line, anything worth while, we’ve got to go into
the business in real earnest. Half the value of the forward pass is in
keeping the opponent scared. If you have a passing game and he knows
it, he’s looking for it more than half the time. But you’ve got to
really have something. If you haven’t, he soon discovers it and pulls
his backfield in. Just as long as you’ve got the goods, even if you
don’t deliver them, he will play a fifth man back and weaken his line
by just so much. That fifth man is almost invariably the center, and a
quick plunge at the center position will usually gain. Personally, I
think that no one has yet discovered nearly all the possibilities of
the forward-pass as an offensive play. I believe that, unless a change
in the playing rules comes that will place restrictions on the pass,
another five years will see the old line-plunging game subordinated to
it. But I’m getting away from the business of this gathering.

“Suppose you fellows put your minds to work along the lines suggested
this evening. Start with the fact that, no matter what else we have
when we meet Kenly, we’re going to have speed, and lots of it. Then try
to think of the best way to use that speed on attack. I’ll take care
of using it for defense. Figure out a--let us call it an all-purpose
formation, a formation from which we can hit the line, run the ends,
punt and pass. It’s possible. I’m not certain that the Princeton
formation doesn’t come pretty close to it except as to punting. Anyhow,
put your minds to work, fellows, and see what comes of it. We’ll get
together again Wednesday evening here, and we’ll try to get more of the
team on hand. Remind me about that, Mister Manager, and I’ll tell you
who I want here that evening.”

“Shucks,” said Charley Levering, “I never could dope out plays. On
paper, I mean.”

“As long as you dope them out on the field we’ll be satisfied,” replied
Mr. Cade. “I’m not looking for plays from you, Levering. We can find
plenty of those when we’re ready for them. What I want is ideas. You
know the team and you know pretty well what its merits are and what its
faults are. Credit it with speed. You can do that fairly enough, for
I’ll say frankly that you fellows look mighty good to me at that angle.
Then try to think up the sort of game we can best play to make full
use of that speed. Never mind trick plays and all that sort of thing.
Those will come later. Consider the Kenly game as a campaign and decide
how, if you were the General in command of our Army, you’d conduct it.
Not as to detail. A General can’t foresee the skirmishes, sometimes not
even the battles. The best he can do is plan. I’m hoping that some of
you will bring ideas that will help in determining our campaign. Two
heads are better than one, you know, and so eight ought to be still
better. Now, if any one likes Swiss cheese, made in Wisconsin, and
pilot bread and ginger ale, we’ll blow the whistle!”



CHAPTER X

JIM ASKS A LOAN


On Tuesday all but one of the Alton football squad reported for
practice, the exception being Greenough, a substitute end, who had
sustained a badly wrenched ankle in the Southport game. To be exact,
there were twenty-nine khaki-trousered youths on hand when three
o’clock struck. Of this number, nineteen were linemen, one of them a
second team fellow named Cooper who had that day been snatched to the
first as a substitute guard, that Fillmore might go to the backfield
to understudy Tennyson. To-day new emphasis was laid on throwing
and catching, end, tackle and backfield candidates to the number of
seventeen being put through a long drill. Subsequently, during signal
work, forward passes were more frequent than usual. Jim’s knee bothered
him at first, but he speedily forgot about it, and when the afternoon’s
session was at an end it seemed just as good as ever. The second was
cocky that day and twice held the first inside her five-yard line,
and, since Coach Cade had ruled out field-goals, there was no scoring
until, just before the end of the second period--two halves of fifteen
minutes constituted the practice game--Plant, at right half for Billy
Frost, got away on his own twenty-four and raced some seventy-six yards
for a touch-down.

Jim played through all of the last half and pleased himself thoroughly.
Those second-team fellows weren’t so hard to handle to-day. He had
three men opposed to him while he was in and none outplayed him in
his opinion. To be sure, no one stopped proceedings to tell him he
was doing well, but Jim had learned that praise, even commendation,
was dealt out sparingly, and that so long as a player got along
without being scolded it could be assumed that he was performing
very creditably. Although he had been at training table but two days
he found things not a little different on the field. He was no more
a part of the squad than before, but it seemed that being taken to
the table had served as an initiation that had admitted him to an
inner sanctuary. Fellows who had never recognized him three days ago
now hailed him as “Slim”--possibly without always knowing his last
name--quite in the off-hand manner of age-old acquaintances. At first
it embarrassed him greatly, but he liked it even then. He felt of
importance for the first time since he had begun to play. He was, at
last, somebody in the football world of Alton! Before, he had thought
of himself as being there on sufferance; now he belonged. The sense of
camaraderie helped a lot, too. Somehow, now when Pep Kinsey or Latham
or Barnhart, playing quarter, yelped at him for playing too far in or
too far out or, as once happened, starting before the signal, he didn’t
take it to heart. The quarter was just one of his own crowd!

It was still light when Jim got back to Haylow that afternoon, and Clem
was sprawled on the window-seat, reading, his book held close to the
pane. “There’s been a gentleman here to see you, Jim,” he announced.
There was faint emphasis on the word “gentleman,” and Jim’s brows
contracted as he turned to the closet to hang up his cap. “Said he’d be
back again.”

“What did he look like?” asked Jim soberly.

“Well, to tell you the truth, old son, he looked rather seedy. Slight
chap, about twenty-four, perhaps. In case he’s a particular friend of
yours, I won’t be too detailed.” Clem grinned. “Anyhow, he’s coming
back, and if I were you, Jim, I’d pay the bill.”

“What bill?”

“How do I know?” chuckled Clem. “Perhaps the bill you owe his poor old
widowed mother for the washing. He struck me as the sort of guy who’d
be likely to land you one on the nose if you didn’t settle prompt. How
did football go?”

“All right.” Jim seemed rather thoughtful. Instead of sitting down he
walked twice between the window and the door, his hands in his pockets.
Then, “All right,” he said again.

“Still all right, eh?” asked Clem. “That’s fine. When a thing’s all
right I do love to have it stay that way.” Jim looked at him in
puzzlement. “If it happened to change, you’d let me know, wouldn’t
you?” pursued Clem anxiously.

“What are you talking about?” asked Jim, frowning perplexedly. But he
didn’t hear Clem’s reply, for just then the sound of footsteps in the
corridor caused him to swing expectantly toward the door. But the steps
went by. Clem was still talking.

“If it’s anything serious, I’ll be glad to help any way I can. You know
that, Jim. I haven’t much influence with the police, but what I have
will be gladly exerted in your behalf. Perhaps a confession would ease
your mind, old son. Where and when did the crime take place, and what
motive induced you to kill the beautiful girl?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” protested Jim worriedly. “You
asked about practice and I told you--”

“‘All right.’ Quite so. But if ever a fellow had guilt written all over
his phiz, you’re the fellow, Jim. You’ll have to do better than that
when you face the jury!”

Jim managed a laugh. “Oh, I thought you were talking serious about
something.” He sat down then, but he didn’t relax as he might have been
expected to after as strenuous an afternoon’s work as he had put in. It
became apparent to Clem that he was really uneasy, and probably about
the visitor.

“If you’d rather not see that chap when he returns,” said Clem
carelessly after a moment’s silence, “if he does return, I’ll send him
away. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just some one trying to sell
books or something, you know.”

“Yes,” replied Jim vaguely. “Thanks.” After a pause he added: “Guess
I’d better see him, though.”

“Have your own way, but you won’t be seeing much. He struck me as--”

But at that instant there was a knock on the door, a knock that had
been preceded by no warning footfalls outside. “That’s probably he
now,” said Clem. “Want me to--”

But Jim had sprung up and was already at the door. He opened it no
more than a foot, and from where Clem sat the visitor was invisible.
“Hello,” said Jim. There was no pleasure in his voice, and Clem smiled
even as his curiosity increased. There was a subdued response from
beyond the portal which Clem couldn’t catch, and then: “But I asked
you not to,” said Jim accusingly. “You ought to do like--” Then Jim
slipped through into the corridor and the door closed tightly behind
him.

Clem pursed his lips and shook his head. “Now what the dickens?” he
asked himself. “Mystery, by gum! Conspiracy even! And old Jim acting
like the villain in ‘A Guilty Secret’! What do you know? Gosh, you
never can tell about these innocent-looking chaps. Wonder what that
cheap skate wants with Jim.” No sound came from the corridor. Probably
the two had moved away from the door. Some five minutes passed, and
Clem, staring into the darkening world, was watching the campus lights
come on one by one and had forgotten Jim and his mysterious caller when
the door opened once more.

Jim came in alone, thrusting the door back behind him. Clem said: “You
might switch on the light if you don’t mind, Jim.” Jim did so, and the
yellow radiance that still showed through the crack of the door and
proclaimed the corridor lights going, paled. “Well,” continued Clem
gayly, “did you have to pay him hush-money?” Then he saw Jim’s troubled
and embarrassed countenance and the raillery died out of his voice,
“What’s up?” he asked.

“Clem, I hate to ask you, but I--” Jim stopped, gulped and went on.
“Can you lend me five dollars, Clem?”

“Great Scott! Is that all it is?” Clem laughed with relief as he jumped
up. “I thought murder had been done and you wanted me to help conceal
the body! Five dollars? Ten if you want it, old son. I happen to be in
funds just now.”

“Five will be plenty,” said Jim in a subdued tone. “I’ll give it
back to you just as soon as I can, but maybe it won’t be this week,
because--”

“There’s no hurry at all, Jim, so don’t be so down-hearted.” He opened
a drawer in his chiffonier, found a bunch of keys and then went to his
closet. “We will now open the strong-box,” he continued as he pulled a
black leather suit-case from the shelf. “Say, I hope you aren’t being
blackmailed, old son,” he added, chuckling.

From the suit-case, which apparently held only a discarded shirt and
two ancient tennis balls, he magically produced a folded envelope. This
he took to the table and opened. From it came several bills and four
gold coins. “You may have gold if you’d rather,” he laughed. “That’s
Christmas money from last year and the year before. I’ve got an uncle
who always comes across with two of those, and somehow they never get
spent. I meant to put them in the bank before I came back, but forgot
it and I found them in my trunk when I landed. Here you are, old son.
Sure five’s enough? Here’s two more if you say the word; or you can
have one of these lovely gold coins.”

“This is plenty,” said Jim earnestly, his voice low. “Thanks, Clem.
It’s mighty good of you.” He disappeared once more and again the door
closed tightly behind him. Clem stared in a puzzled way, then shrugged
his shoulders, returned the four gold pieces and two crumpled dollar
bills to the old envelope and tossed the latter back into the bag. Then
he turned the key, placed the suit-case back on the shelf and dropped
the key-ring into the drawer in the chiffonier. When he had rescued his
book from the window-seat and pulled the curtains across the casements,
Jim had returned to the room. He had paused inside the door, his back
against it, and was staring thoughtfully at the floor. Then, before
Clem thought of anything to say, he roused himself and came to the
table.

“I guess you’re wondering about--about that fellow,” he said slowly,
“and me lending him money.”

“Well, curiosity won’t hurt me,” answered Clem cheerfully. “It’s no
affair of mine, Jim, and you don’t owe any explanations.”

“He’s a fellow I used to know pretty well,” Jim went on. “He--we used
to live close together and he was always mighty good to me when I was
a little codger. He’s been having trouble lately; out of work and the
like of that, Clem; and he’s sort of lost hold, I guess. I ran across
him yesterday afternoon on State street. He was looking for me to get a
little money to carry him along. I gave him three dollars and a half.
That’s all I had. That’s why I had to ask you for that five dollars
just now.”

“I see. But that chap doesn’t expect you to lend him money right along,
I hope. Eight dollars in two days is fairly steep, isn’t it?”

Jim nodded. “He said yesterday he was going to Norwalk. Said he had a
job promised him there. But it seems he didn’t have enough money left
this morning for his ticket. So he wanted me to lend him some more.”

“Well, that’s all right,” said Clem. “Let’s hope he gets his job. To
speak right out in meeting, Jim, I didn’t like his looks much, and
his hands didn’t seem to me to show many signs of hard and honest
labor. Also, if you’ll pardon me for seeming disrespect to a friend
of yours--or, let us say, acquaintance--I thought I detected an aroma
about him that--well, it wasn’t exactly the odor of sanctity, Jim.”

“Yes, I noticed it, too,” replied Jim sadly. “I guess he’s been sort
of up against things and--and discouraged, Clem. He’s had no job for
more than a month, he says. But I made him promise me he’d behave if I
let him have that five. And I guess he will. He used to be such a nice
fellow, Clem!”

“Too bad,” said Clem sympathetically. “Lost his grip, I suppose. Well,
maybe he’ll land on his feet again. I dare say it’s not any too easy
to keep straight, Jim, when you’re on your uppers. Don’t you think of
paying back that five, old son, until you get it back from that fellow,
no matter if it’s ten years from now. I don’t need it.”

“Thanks, but I’d rather pay it as soon as I get my allowance,” Jim
protested. “That’ll be about ten days from now.”

“You’re a stubborn old Maineiac,” said Clem sadly, “but have your own
way about it. Meanwhile, has it occurred to you that the time is twelve
minutes past six and that if we want food we’d better get a move on
us? Of course, you, being on the training table, don’t need to worry
so much, but where I battle for sustenance it’s a case of first come,
first get it! And,” added Clem, waving a towel as he made for the
door, “there are those at my table who have no conscience at all where
another man’s butter is concerned!”



CHAPTER XI

THE ART OF LINE PLAYING


On Wednesday a stranger appeared at practice. He was a large,
broad-shouldered man of perhaps twenty-five or twenty-six years, with a
jovial voice and a pleasant smile. He wore a nondescript assortment of
football togs among which was a blue sweater bearing a white Y. He did
not, however, retain the sweater long, for five minutes after practice
had started he was down by the farther goal in charge of a bunch of
guards and tackles. With the sweater he seemed to have discarded the
jovial voice and the pleasant smile. Presently the rumor spread that
the stranger was one Myers, an Alton guard of some years before and,
more recently, _the_ Myers who had helped put Yale back on the football
map. Also, rumor had it, he was to remain at Alton until the Kenly game
and take charge of the linemen.

That afternoon Jim added not a little to his knowledge of playing in
the line. Myers spent much time showing his charges how to stand, both
on attack and defense. After Hick Powers, invited by the coach to take
his position on attack, had set himself, Myers charged into him and
sent him sprawling on his back. “There you are,” said Myers. “You
were all right for a straight-on attack, but your feet were too much
on a line for a side-swipe. You can’t always tell how the other fellow
is going to come at you. Try it again. Spread wider. All right. Hold
it! Not too much weight on your hand, though. Just steady yourself
with your finger-tips. Now you fellows study that position. You see
that this man is set so that no matter how I may come at him he’s got
stability. This right foot is far enough behind the left so that I
can’t throw him off his balance by going straight into him, and far
enough to the right so that I can’t throw him to his left by charging
him sidewise. All of you take that stance. You fourth chap there, bring
that rear foot out more. That’s better. Now look at your feet and see
how you’re standing. Got it? Good! One thing more before we drop the
attack position. Don’t anchor yourself by putting your weight on your
hands. What you are doing is taking the position of a sprinter, and
the sprinter doesn’t put the weight of his upper body on his hands. If
he did he’d do one of two things when the pistol barked; he’d either
plunge forward on his face or he’d have to shift his weight back to his
legs before he left the mark. You’re using that position because it’s
the position that will get you into play quickest. But your weight
must always be on your feet. Never use your fingers to more than steady
yourself. Myself, I like to put only one hand to the ground. I let my
left hand point back. It seems to me that it helps me start. But that’s
not important. Use both hands if it seems better for you. Only, and I’m
repeating this purposely, don’t get anchored. And when I say put the
weight on the feet, I don’t mean, of course, that you’re to distribute
the weight evenly. The front foot carries most of the weight. It sets
flat on the ground. The rear foot holds the ground only with the ball
and the toes. But you know that, even if you don’t know that you know
it!”

“Now let’s take the position on defense. The other side has the ball.
Show me now. Not bad, the most of you. Several of you are too high.
Remember this, fellows. Up and forward is the direction, not just
forward. You must come from below and push upward first. Then forward.
Up and forward! Remember that. Ever see a clay pigeon released from a
trap? Well, that’s the way you fellows ought to charge. Just as though
some one had released a spring and sent you straight and hard into the
air. Straddle well, keep your head up, hold your arms wide and your
hands open and then _snap_! Don’t go at it like a crane lifting a block
of stone, slow and steady. Don’t try any tank warfare. Speed, fellows!
Get the jump every time! Drive into him from below and push him up and
back, and do it before he can throw his weight to meet you. And when
you charge know what you’re going to do, where you’re going to apply
your power. Be ready with your hands. They’ll get there before your
body. And then don’t stride forward. Use the short, quick crawling
steps you’ve been taught. Then you’ll get the power from low down.
_But_ if you don’t keep your back straight that power, originating in
your legs, won’t reach your arms. There’ll be a break in the line of
transmission. Now, then, let’s try it. Set wide and get steady. Elbows
out, hands ready. Go! Not bad. You fellow with the long legs, you make
your steps too long. Duck-walk it. This way. Waddle--waddle--waddle!
See? Try it again. Better. All right for that. One more thing, though.
Don’t neglect to hog every inch the officials will let you get away
with. Your hand, the left if you use it to balance with, the right
if you use but one, will be in advance of every portion of your body
except your head. Find out how far forward you can set your hand
without bringing your head beyond your scrimmage line and always put
it there. The difference of even six inches counts. Now we’ll see how
much you remember. Let’s have two lines here. I’ll snap the ball. This
side’s attacking. Now remember that position first. All right. Get
down to it. Here we go!”

Afterwards, during the thirty minutes’ scrimmage with the scrubs, Myers
dogged the first team every moment. “Keep your back straight, right
guard! Lock it! Watch your feet, right tackle! That’s not the way I
showed you, not by a long sight! You played too high, left guard! You
let your man under you! Charge from below! Great jumpin’ Judas! Use
your hands, center! That man ought never to have got through!” And so
it went, with Coach Cade making life merry for the backs, Captain Gus
doing a little criticizing on his own hook and the quarter imploring
the gray empyrean for just one man who could keep his signals straight!
Jim played a long session that Wednesday afternoon, and he finished
with the suspicion that football practice, as the season neared its
climax, was going to be something quite different from anything he had
imagined. But he was going to like it. He knew that!

That evening coaches and players met again in Mr. Cade’s quarters and
a long session developed. Jim was not among the eight or nine players
invited, and he spent most of the evening going over the affairs of the
Maine-and-Vermont Society, which, with a present membership of nearly
forty, was in flourishing condition. Last of all, he wrote politely
imperative reminders to delinquent members on Clem’s small typewriter.
Jim was not an accomplished typist and he spent a good deal more time
than he would have consumed had he written the notes by hand. But
there is no denying that the typed results possessed a certain air of
authority that Jim’s sprawling writing would have failed to attain,
and this in spite of many erasures and several misspelled words. Clem
came back while Jim was still struggling with the envelopes and offered
advice of no value and laughed immoderately at the way Jim’s tongue
stuck out when he was hunting for what he called the “pedals.” Jim
finally ended his task and assembled the half-dozen missives atop his
chiffonier for delivery on the morrow, looking not a little triumphant.

“Aren’t you going to put stamps on them?” asked Clem from the depths of
his arm-chair.

“Stamps cost money,” replied Jim, shaking his head. “I’m my own
postman.”

“That’s a swell society! Doesn’t allow the secretary money for postage!”

“Yes, it does, but the secretary has good legs,” countered Jim. “It’s
no trouble to dump these things in the letter boxes in the halls as I
go by. You see, Clem, I was brought up economical!”

“That so?” Clem yawned and began to unlace a shoe. “Maybe they don’t
have stamps in Maine. I suppose when you write a letter at home, Jim,
you put your snowshoes on and hike across country with it, eh? Say,
talking of societies, how would you like to join Janus?”

“Me?” said Jim. “That the one you belong to? What’s it cost?”

“Not much. Anyway, a fellow doesn’t generally ask the cost of joining,
old son; he looks grateful and kisses his benefactor’s hand. Janus,
Jim, is--well, it’s Janus. ’Nough said. If you belong to Janus you’re
made for life.”

“Huh,” said Jim, “that’s what you hear about all of ’em. Guess it’s too
high for my pocket-book, Clem. Much obliged, though.”

“Don’t be a goof! This, old son, is one of life’s fine moments. Why,
dog my cats, you’re only the third senior that’s ever been proposed.
Either you make it in your junior year or you don’t make it at all.”

“Mean that I’ve been proposed? Who did it? You?”

“Exactly. And I don’t think there’s any doubt about you getting
through. Hang it, show a little enthusiasm, you cold-blooded fish!
Don’t you understand you’re being honored? Say ‘Hooray!’”

“Yeah, but, honest, Clem, I don’t believe I could afford it. I’m sort
of hard-up right now, and I guess likely I’ll be that way for some
time.”

“Well, but I thought-- It’s none of my business, Jim, but isn’t your
father pretty comfortable?”

Jim shook his head. “No, he isn’t, Clem. Not lately. I guess you don’t
know what a hard time country folks have nowadays, farmers especially.
They can’t get money for what they raise like they could a few years
ago. Up our way most farmers raise potatoes for their main crop, but
they’re a good ways from the market and lots of times it don’t pay ’em
to ship ’em. Right on our place I’ve seen more than two hundred bushels
raised on a little piece of ground and piled in the cellar, and they’d
be there, most of ’em, in the Spring. After you’d paid for bags and
carting and freight to Boston and commission to the produce man you’d
be out of pocket. Same way with hogs and most everything else now.
There’s money in lumber, but it’s the fellows in the cities gets it.
When folks haven’t got money to spend, they don’t spend it, and dad’s
business ain’t very good any more. The only way I could come back here
this year was by earning some money last summer. That’s why I went to
that sporting camp. You see, I could have gone to college this Fall if
I’d been willing to. I’d have had a couple of conditions, though, and
I thought it would be better to come here another year. Besides, I--I
got to liking Alton pretty well, and when you wrote you were willing
to let me come in with you I just made up my mind I’d put in another
year here. But I couldn’t very well ask dad to pay for all of it. I
made enough at the camp to pay my tuition, and dad he allows me ten
dollars a month for extras and spending money. Now I’m in debt to you
five dollars, Clem, and I’ve got to go sort of careful or I won’t have
enough money to get home Christmas time.”

“That’s kind of tough,” mused Clem. “Funny, but I had an idea that your
folks were pretty well fixed. Anyhow, don’t you worry about getting
home, old son. There’s still money in the strong-box!”

“I’d borrow if I found I had to, I guess,” said Jim, “but I guess I
won’t have to. Giving that money to Webb--the fellow who was up here
the other day, you know,--sort of put me short, but now he’s gone I
guess I won’t--”

“Gosh! That reminds me, Jim! I’d nearly forgotten it. Say, I don’t
believe he has gone, that guy. This afternoon I’ll swear I saw him on
West street. Or if it wasn’t him it was his double. I didn’t have a
very good look at him, for he was going into that cigar store next to
the express office, but it sure looked like him, clothes and all!”

Jim looked worried. “Maybe it was just some fellow who looked like
Webb,” he said. But his tone lacked conviction. “He promised me he’d
go to Norwalk the next morning, and I’d be right sorry to find he
hadn’t. Besides--” Jim didn’t finish the sentence.

“Well, you should worry,” said Clem cheerfully. “If he comes around
here again just you hand him over to me, old son. I’ve got a system
with pan-handlers and book agents and their ilk. How’s that for a word?
‘Ilk’! I’ll say that’s cute!”

But Clem couldn’t get Jim to smile. “It wouldn’t do him any good to
come to me again,” he said soberly. “I haven’t got any more money. I do
wish, though, he’d gone like he said he would. That is, if he ain’t.”

“Probably he has,” replied Clem encouragingly. “I dare say I was just
fooled by a resemblance, Jim. After all, there’s quite a bunch of
fellows of his style around town since they started the new factory
up.” Secretly, though, Clem was convinced that he had not been
mistaken, and two days later that conviction was strengthened.

Presently, returning to the original subject of discourse, he said:
“About coming into Janus, Jim. Suppose you just let it rest for a
while. There’s no great rush in the matter, anyway. I’ll let your name
go over the next meeting. That will give you time to think it over. The
expense isn’t much anyway. I’d tell you exactly, only it’s against the
rules to give out information of any sort. You take a couple of weeks
and think it over. I want you to come in if you can possibly do it, old
son, so don’t say no now.”

So Jim didn’t say no. He merely shook his head and, so to speak, laid
the question on the table. After that, while Clem, propped against
his pillow, read in bed, Jim took his football from the closet shelf,
snuggled it lovingly in his lap and started all over again on the rules
book. When Clem’s book dropped from his hand and he turned over and
closed his eyes, his room-mate was still fondling the ball and frowning
over the apparent intricacies of the following: “Players of the side
which did not put the ball in play may use (1) their hands and arms to
push opponents out of the way in order to get at the ball and (2) their
bodies or their arms close to the body to obstruct opponents who are
going down the field from getting at a player of their own side who is
endeavoring to get at the ball.”

Jim rubbed a hand across his eyes and read it again. There were, he
thought, too many “get ats.” Maybe, though, he was too sleepy to--yes,
to “get at” the sense. He’d try it again to-morrow.



CHAPTER XII

AT THE POLICE STATION


If Wednesday’s practice had been stiff Thursday’s was adamantine.
With the intention of providing better defense for the drop-kickers
the first team was lined up near the goal and the substitutes were
set against them. With Steve Whittier and Pep Kinsey alternating
at kicking, all the rest of the first team had to do was keep the
substitutes from breaking through or otherwise interfering with the
kick. Myers was behind the subs and the manner in which he egged them
on to atrocities of attack proved him, in the minds of the first team
players, a man of singularly cruel disposition. Friendship ceased and
no quarter was asked. Loring Cheswick at first, and then Benning, sped
the ball to the kicker and simultaneously goaded by Myers’ commands to
“Bust it up! Get through! Use your hands!” and “Fight ’em, Subs! Rip
’em up! Block that kick!” the substitutes hurled themselves ferociously
forward and committed nearly everything except murder.

Jim received hard knocks that afternoon. One of the knocks set his nose
to bleeding and another crippled his left leg for the rest of the
proceedings. But he managed to disguise the damage to his leg, and, of
course, a bleeding nose was a mere incident, and so he managed to stay
in and to give a very good account of himself. And it seemed once that
the Demon Coach, as Myers was dubbed that afternoon, had determined to
concentrate on Jim until he got results. He sent a two-man tandem at
the right tackle position until he was finally satisfied that he was
wasting his time. Perhaps he concluded that he was wasting players,
too, for the members of the tandem, especially the second man, got
rather roughly treated in the course of events! Jim found the head of
the tandem could be thrown off in time to give full attention to the
next comer, and, while Jim got some hard knocks, he certainly wore that
second man out!

Sometimes the subs did get through and the ball went anywhere save over
the goal, and then you should have heard Coach Cade become eloquent! As
Jake Borden, right end, remarked, Johnny’s words were more refined-like
but they cut deeper. Later, when the scrimmage started, Jim discovered
to his dismay that he was playing with the subs. He jumped to the
conclusion that he had been demoted and felt rather badly, which fact
told somewhat on his playing, and, when the second team came over
and took the place of the substitutes Jim was one of those who were
sent to the showers. As a matter of fact he had been placed with the
substitute team to strengthen the right of its line, and retired after
the first half of the scrimmage because in the opinion of Jake, the
trainer, he had seen service enough. But Jim didn’t know that, and he
returned to Haylow rather down in the mouth.

Friday’s practice was less severe, with the emphasis on signal drill
and the handling of punts and passes, and the first-string players
went through only a ten-minute scrimmage and were then sent off. Jim’s
misgivings were slightly assuaged when he read the list of the players
who were to go to New Falmouth the next afternoon and found his name on
it. If he was very bad, he argued, they wouldn’t pay his railway fare!
Then, feeling more chirpy, he went back to Number 15 Haylow and ran
into trouble.

Clem, who had reached the room but a minute before, was gazing
perplexedly at the third drawer in his chiffonier. He turned to Jim
without greeting to ask: “You haven’t had this drawer open, have you,
Jim?”

Jim blinked and shook his head. “No, Clem. Why?”

“Well, just look at it, will you?” The drawer held underwear,
stockings, a blue flannel shirt, a candy box with a piece of red
Christmas ribbon trailing from it, a pair of discarded garters;
possibly other things as well, but Jim’s attention was held by the
number of undergarments in sight and the general disorder of the
drawer’s contents. He looked inquiringly at Clem.

“Nice mess, eh?” asked Clem indignantly. “Some one’s been poking around
in here. Look at that box. It was tied with that ribbon. Someone opened
it and didn’t do it up again.”

“Well, I guess I’m the only one who could have done it if you didn’t,”
said Jim slowly, “and I’ve never been near anything of yours, Clem. So
it looks--”

“Of course you didn’t do it,” answered Clem. “I needn’t have asked you,
only I was so--so blamed mad--”

“You’re sure you didn’t leave the box untied?”

“Me? Why, there’s nothing in the box but a lot of old gimcracks”--he
removed the lid impatiently for Jim’s benefit--“and I haven’t had it
open since I put it in there. Besides, hang it all, Jim, you know I
wouldn’t leave this drawer looking like that!”

Jim wasn’t convinced of it, but he nodded agreement. “Who do you
suppose--” he began. Then he asked quickly; “Anything missing?”

“Missing? Why, no, I guess not. Gosh, there’s nothing here any one
would want!” He had begun putting the things in order again, folding
the garments and piling them neatly back in place. He really seemed
more disturbed by the disorder of things than by the fact that some
person had intruded. “We’ll just have to lock the door when we go out,
Jim. I’ve been here three years and this is the first time I’ve had
anything of mine troubled.”

“Suppose some one did it for a joke?” asked Jim.

“Mighty poor joke,” Clem grumbled. “Any one could come in here that
wanted to when we’re both out, but I don’t see why they’d want to muss
my drawer all up.”

“When did you look in here last, Clem?”

“This morning. I got a pair of socks out. It was all right then.”
Something rattled under his hand as he spoke, and he picked up a steel
key-ring with five keys attached. “If folks are going to get fresh
this way,” he muttered, “I’d better put these somewhere--” He stopped,
stared for an instant at the keys and then swung around and strode to
the closet. From the shelf he lowered the black suit-case. In a moment
he had unlocked it and thrown the lid back. Jim, watching over his
shoulder, spoke relievedly.

“It’s there,” he said.

But Clem had the folded envelope in his hand, and it was empty! He
looked blankly over his shoulder. “Well, what do you know!” he
ejaculated. Jim shook his head.

“Sure it was there, Clem?”

“Great Scott, you saw me put it there, didn’t you? Night before last,
or night-- Gosh, that makes me sore!”

“How much was in the envelope?” asked Jim.

“Twenty-seven--no, twenty-two dollars. I lent you five. That left a
two-dollar bill and four five-dollar gold-pieces. Oh, I don’t care such
an awful lot about the money, but it’s rotten to know that there’s a
thief in the dormitory! Why, it may be--”

[Illustration: It’s rotten to know that there’s a thief in the
dormitory.]

“It might have been some one from one of the other halls,” said Jim.
“Or maybe a sneak-thief from outside.”

“Oh, it might be any one!” Clem slammed the bag shut and tossed it back
to the shelf. “He was after those keys, whoever he was, and that’s the
reason he messed everything up so. But how did he know where they were,
eh? The other drawers are just as I left them. How about yours? Better
have a look.”

“I don’t think they’ve been touched,” Jim reported. “Guess whoever was
in here came while we were both out this afternoon. How long were you
gone?”

“I haven’t been here since about half-past two, until just now. I was
over at Upton for an hour or more. Then Carl Stevens and I went
downtown. What time’s it now? Twenty past five? Well, that’s nearly
three hours. When were you up last?”

“Just before practice. About five to three, I guess.”

Clem, hands in pockets, stared at the floor and then flung himself into
a chair. “Well, I’m going to report it. Something will have to be done
if a fellow can’t leave his room door unlocked. I don’t care a hang
about the money, Jim, but I’d certainly like to catch the sneak that
got it!”

Jim, still standing, nodded. “Come to think of it, Clem, it wouldn’t be
hard for a fellow to walk in the Meadow street gate and go through a
dozen rooms if he found ’em empty. All he’d have to do would be pretend
that he was looking for some fellow and didn’t know where he lived,
sort of.”

“The way you looked for Dolf Chapin last year,” said Clem, managing a
brief smile. “Still, he’d have to get past Mr. Tarbot, and his door is
nearly always open and looks right into the corridor down there.”

“Yes, but I guess he isn’t always in,” said Jim. “And even if he saw
some one he mightn’t know he wasn’t one of the fellows from another
hall. Gosh, I guess he can’t know more than four hundred fellows by
sight!”

“No, but there’s never been any stealing like that since I’ve been
here,” objected Clem. “Folks don’t come on the campus unless they’ve
got business; fellows from the presser’s or the laundry or--and even
they aren’t supposed to come upstairs.”

“They do it, though.”

“Yes, I know, but-- Now think a minute, Jim. It must have taken a good
five minutes to find the keys in that drawer--and you can see by the
way things were left that he must have had to hunt for them--and get
the suit-case down and unlock it and lock it and put the keys back and
everything. An outsider wouldn’t dare take the risk, Jim. How’d he know
that one of us wouldn’t walk in on him?”

“Yes, it would be risky,” Jim owned somewhat unwillingly.

“It sure would! No, sir, the guy that pulled this trick knew that we
were both out. I dare say he watched us go. Then he had all the time in
the world.”

“Yes, but if he had so much time why did he pull things around so in
the drawer? Or why didn’t he fix them back the way he found them? He
might have known that you’d notice and get suspicious and miss the
money.”

“Probably didn’t think about that. Oh, well, I’ve got to go down and
see Old Tarbox. Come along and give your evidence, old son. He will
ask a lot of questions, I suppose.”

“Maybe you could make it clearer if you went alone.”

“Well, he’d want to question you anyway, sooner or later. Come on.”

So Jim went. Mr. Tarbot, whose suite of study, bedroom and bath was
the first on the right from the dormitory entrance, bade them enter
when Clem had knocked on the half-open door and the two filed in. The
instructor was reading in a deep chair set close to a window, but at
sight of Jim he suddenly sat up straight. “I’ve been watching for you,
Todd,” he announced briskly. “Some one telephoned about ten minutes ago
from the Police Station. I didn’t understand who he was. One of the
officers, I fancy. He said I was to ask you to come over there directly
you got in. He didn’t say what was wanted. I hope your conscience
is clear, my boy.” Mr. Tarbot smiled to show that he was joking,
but behind the smile one might have detected anxiety. Jim stared
incredulously for an instant. Then his face clouded suddenly.

“I’ll go right away, sir,” he replied.

Mr. Tarbot nodded and picked up his book again. Clem, his mission
forgotten for the moment, followed Jim to the corridor. “What the
dickens do you suppose they want?” he asked with lively curiosity. Jim
shook his head. “Well, I’ll go along and see you through,” chuckled
Clem. “Nothing like having a friend at court, old son!”

Jim stopped at the bottom of the steps and shook his head again. “You
needn’t come, Clem,” he said. “You’d better see Tarbot about--”

“Oh, that can wait. This is a lot more exciting. Go? You bet I’ll go.
Why, I may have to bail you out!”

After an instant of indecision Jim went on and Clem fell in beside him,
chattering animatedly to apparently deaf ears. Jim looked troubled, and
by the time they were half-way toward the main gate Clem noted the fact
and, after a second puzzled glance at his companion, said: “Look here,
old son, if you’d really rather I didn’t go along I won’t.”

Jim shook his head once more. “No, you might as well come, I guess. If
it’s what I think it is--”

“What do you think it is?” asked Clem when the other paused.

“Webb,” said Jim after a moment. “The fellow I lent the money to. Maybe
he didn’t go away, like he said he would, and maybe he’s got in trouble
with the police.”

Clem whistled expressively. “Bet you that’s just it!” he murmured. “I
didn’t want to say so, Jim, but I was absolutely certain that was he I
saw that day on West street.”

Jim nodded and they crossed Academy street in silence and went into
State. “Know where it is?” asked Jim presently. “The police place, I
mean.”

“Yes, turn to the left on West. It’s about four blocks over and one
through. Opposite the Odd Fellow’s building. Say, if they want money to
let him out, Jim, we’re in a mess, eh?”

Once more Jim nodded affirmatively. After that conversation was
virtually prohibited by the fact that the home-seeking throngs on
the busy streets made it nearly impossible for the two boys to stay
together. After a five-minute hurried walk they reached the Police
Station, an old red-brick building with an entrance of granite steps
and rusty iron-railings much too large for the small, square edifice.
Past the doorway, Jim paused in doubt, but Clem, with a familiarity
that might have seemed suspicious to one of uncharitable mind,
straightway guided him to the right and into a scantily furnished
apartment occupied principally by a broad oak railing, a large,
flat-topped desk and a large red-faced man in a blue uniform. There
were some minor furnishings too, such as a few chairs, a telephone,
three framed pictures and a wobbly costumer which sagged sidewise
under the weight of a policeman’s overcoat.

The big man behind the desk was proclaimed a sergeant by the insignia
on his sleeve and the letters on the hat that perched rakishly on the
back of his bristly head. There was a cigar in one corner of his mouth,
a much-chewed, down-at-the-side cigar that gave off rank fumes of
gray smoke and caused the sergeant to close one eye as he viewed the
arrivals.

“My name,” announced Jim in a voice so fraught with guilt that
the sergeant would have been entirely justified in locking him up
instantly, “is Todd. They said over at school that some one wanted to
see me here--about something.”

“Oh, yes! Sure, young feller. Say, just step in the next room, will
you? That’s the door. The Captain’s in there and he’ll ’tend to
you. Sure, you can go in, too, if you want.” The latter part of the
invitation was to Clem, who had hesitated to follow his companion. So
Clem trod closely on the heels of Jim, and they passed through a heavy
door and found themselves in a second room that was much like the
first. Here, though, there was a brilliantly red carpet on the floor,
the desk was a roll-top, there was an inhospitable looking leather
couch along one wall and the single occupant, instead of being large
and red of countenance, was tall and lean, with a military carriage and
a healthily tanned face.

“Todd, eh?” he asked tersely. “Sit down, please. This gentleman a
friend of yours? I see. Very well. I have a question or two to ask, Mr.
Todd. Know a man who calls himself James Webster?”

“No, sir.” Relief struggled with doubt in Jim’s face.

“Didn’t think you did, because I guess that isn’t the fellow’s right
name. Know any one with a name like that?”

“I know a man whose name is Webb,” faltered Jim. “His first name, I
mean.”

“Webb, eh? What’s his last name?”

Jim’s hesitation was pronounced, but he finally answered, “Todd, sir.”

Clem shot a quick, startled look at Jim. Jim didn’t meet it. He was
staring anxiously at the police captain.

“Webb Todd? I see. Relative of yours?”

“Cousin; sort of. His mother and my mother were half-sisters.”

“Not exactly a cousin, then, my boy. Known him long?”

“Yes, sir, ever since I can remember. Up in Maine. He lived right near
us for a good while.”

“Seen him lately?”

“Yes, sir, twice. Once I met him on the street and the next time he
came to our room in Haylow Hall. Is--has he been arrested?”

The Captain nodded. “Yes, we took him in charge about four o’clock.
He’s been loafing around town for several days. He will be up in court
in the morning charged with vagrancy. I dare say he’ll get off with a
suspended sentence if he agrees to quit town.”

Jim breathed loudly with relief.

“Only thing puzzles us,” continued the Captain, “is where he got what
we took off him.” He opened a drawer at his side and took out a small
parcel. “Ever lend him money, Mr. Todd?”

“Yes, sir.”

“How much money?”

Jim hesitated again. “Eight dollars and a half,” he answered.

“That all?” Jim nodded. “Haven’t forgotten any?” Jim shook his head.
“Funny,” said the Captain. He opened the parcel, displaying a soiled
envelope with a letter showing beyond its torn edge, a cheap-pocket
knife and an assortment of coins. Three of the coins glittered brightly
in the light from the near-by window. “This fellow had sixteen dollars
and forty-one cents when we searched him. Fifteen dollars was in
five-dollar gold coins. We asked him where he got them. He said”--the
Captain eyed Jim intently--“you gave them to him.”

There was a moment’s silence. Jim was still staring wide-eyed at the
officer. Clem was staring fascinatedly at the three gold coins. Then
the Captain’s voice came again. “Of course, if you didn’t give them to
him he probably stole them and it’ll be up to us to find out where.
It probably won’t be hard, for gold-pieces are scarce and folks who
have them miss them if they disappear. I didn’t believe the fellow’s
statement, because it didn’t seem likely to me that any of you fellows
at the school would have so much money on hand. Judging from the
condition he was in when we took charge of him, he must have had
considerably more to start with. Anyhow, that’s his story. Says he was
looking for work and was strapped and asked you for a loan and you came
across with twenty dollars in five dollar coins. He was lying, eh?”

Silence again. Clem’s gaze was on Jim. Jim’s was on the bright red
carpet. Jim moistened his lips with his tongue and looked again at the
questioner. He shook his head.

“No, sir, he wasn’t lying,” he said evenly. “I had--forgotten.”

“Oh, you’d forgotten.” The Captain’s gaze narrowed. “It’s a bad idea to
forget things, Todd, when it’s the police who want to know,” he went
on dryly. “You did give him the money, did you? How much?”

“Twenty-two dollars--the last time, sir.”

“To-day?” Jim nodded. “Part gold, was it?”

“Four five-dollar gold-pieces and a two dollar bill,” replied Jim.

“Quite a lot of money for you to have, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, sir.”

The Captain stared at Jim a moment longer. Then his gaze shifted to
the collection of coins at his elbow. He wrapped the paper about them
again and tossed the packet back in the drawer. “Well, all right,” he
said finally. “He says you did and you say you did, and so I guess that
settles it. That’s all, Mr. Todd. Much obliged to you.”

“He won’t be sent to jail, will he?” asked Jim.

“Don’t believe so. He ought to be, for he looks to me like a bad egg.
If you like to come over to-morrow about nine-thirty and speak to the
Judge, I’ll fix it for you. You might say a good word for the man if
you’ve known him so long.”

“I’d like to,” answered Jim gratefully. Then, hesitantly, “Could I see
him, please, sir?”

“I guess so.” He pressed a button on the edge of the desk and, when
an elderly man in a police uniform appeared, waved toward Jim. “This
gentleman wants to see the nut that was brought in this afternoon;
Webster’s the name he’s entered under. Just show him down, Grogan.”

Jim followed the turnkey without a glance toward Clem.

Ten minutes later Jim emerged from the station. Clem had not waited.
Jim made his way back to school alone, hurrying at times, since the six
o’clock whistle had long since blown, and at other times slowing to a
pace that indicated that his thoughts were concerned with a subject
more weighty than supper.



CHAPTER XIII

MR. WEBB TODD


Although Jim went directly back to Number 15 after his delayed supper
he did not find Clem there. Perhaps, he thought, Clem had been there
and, not finding him, had gone to look for him. In a way Jim was not
sorry, for the explanation that was Clem’s due wasn’t going to be easy
to make. He prepared to write a letter to his father, but, with pen
hovering above paper, his thoughts went back to his talk with Webb and
the letter was forgotten.

Webb had been so glad to see him that Jim’s anger had softened
instantly, even though the former had shown no signs of contrition. He
had been perfectly frank. Leaning against the sill of a barred window
at one end of the corridor that extended along the front of the cells,
Webb had explained everything in matter-of-fact fashion. After he had
got that five dollars from Jim he had changed his mind about going to
Norwalk just then. He didn’t see any sense in working so long as he
had money. But yesterday the money had given out and in the afternoon
he had gone to Haylow to ask for another loan. If he had got it he
would have jumped the train at four and gone to Norwalk. Anyway, he
had really meant to then. But no one had answered his knock, and he
had gone in. He had looked around a bit and then sat down, intending
to wait for Jim’s return. It wasn’t until then that the idea of taking
Clem’s money had occurred to him.

When he had called there before and Jim had gone back into the room to
ask Clem for the loan Webb had watched and listened through a crack
in the door, for Jim had not quite closed it. He had seen Clem take
the bunch of keys from the drawer and go to the closet. After that the
action had been outside his range of vision, but his ears had supplied
him with what his eyes had missed. So yesterday it had been easy
enough. He had had trouble finding the keys, for they had become tucked
into a fold of a garment, but after he had them what followed was fair
sailing. A few minutes later, opening the door cautiously on an empty
corridor, he had walked away again and down the stairs. Near the front
door he had seen, both on entering and leaving, a “funny-looking sketch
with a trick mustache readin’ a book, but he didn’t pay no attention
to me, kid.” He went out the gate to Meadow street and returned to the
village. There he visited a lunch-room and had a good feed, and it was
while he was standing harmlessly in front of it that “a cop come along
and pinched me.”

Webb had seemed neither proud nor ashamed nor greatly concerned with
his present plight. He had heard that the Judge here was a “good guy,”
and they didn’t have anything on him, anyway, because they couldn’t
send a guy up for vagrancy when he had more than fifteen dollars in his
pocket and was tryin’ hard to find a job. Webb had winked there.

“But suppose they found out you’d stolen that money, Webb?”

“How could they? I told ’em you gave it to me. All you got to do is
tell ’em the same story, kid.”

“That would make me a thief, Webb.”

“How would it? I’ll be out o’ here to-morrow, and all you got to do is
tell that guy the facts. Say, ain’t they asked you about it yet?” Jim
nodded. “Well, what did you tell ’em?”

“That I gave it to you--lent it to you--this afternoon.”

“Sure! Well, that’s all right, ain’t it? They can’t do nothin’ to me if
you stick to that, kid!”

“If I do stick to it, Webb, you’ve got to make me a promise and keep
it.”

“Sure I will! You know me, kid. You and me was always the best ’o pals,
and I ain’t the kind of a guy to go back on my friends. What’s it you
want me to do?”

“I want you to leave here on the first train after they let you go,
Webb, and find a job and stick to it. You know mighty well this way of
living ain’t going to get you anywhere, Webb. Gosh, when I was a kid I
thought you were just about the finest fellow in the world! You were
always mighty good to me, Webb, and I just can’t forget it. I want you
should quit this business and be like you used to be. You can if you’ll
try, Webb, I know you can!”

“Sure!” Webb Todd’s voice had been a little husky. “You’re dead right,
too, kid. This is a rotten life, and I know it. But--” He had sort of
run down there. After a moment he said almost wistfully: “Say, kid,
I wasn’t a bad sort back in the old days, was I? You and me had some
swell times, didn’t we? Remember the time the old red sow got out and
we was chasin’ it and it ran in the kitchen and your ma was making
bread and the old sow came out with the pan o’ dough on her head?”

“Yes, and I remember the time I fell between the logs in Beecher’s Cove
and you dived in and got me out, Webb.”

“Sure.” Webb had nodded reminiscently. “You come near kicking in that
time, kid.” After a moment’s silence Jim had asked:

“Well, will you do it, Webb?”

“I’ll try, kid.”

“You mean it? You promise me you’ll really try, Webb? Try as hard as
you know how?”

“Yeah, I’ll try hard. I don’t know as I’ll make it, kid. A guy gets
sort o’ used to doin’ without a job after a while. It ain’t so hard,
kid. If you’ve got a good spiel you won’t never starve. There’s a lot
of mushy folks in the world. You’d be surprised how easy they fall for
a hard-luck steer, kid.”

“Just as I did,” Jim had said.

“Yeah. But, say, kid, honest I wasn’t meanin’ to bleed you. I really
meant to go to Norwalk the day after I first saw you, just like I told
you. But somethin’ sort o’ prevented.”

“There’s another thing, Webb. I’m going to see the Judge in the morning
before he goes into court. The Police Captain said he’d fix it so I
could. And I’m going to tell him you ain’t really a--a loafer, and
about how good you used to be to me, Webb, and I guess he won’t be hard
on you. But if I do that you must give me back that money, what’s left
of it.”

“All of it? Well, but listen, kid, how am I goin’ to get to Norwalk?”

“I’ll bring you enough for that. How much does it cost on the train?”

“Four dollars.” Jim blinked at that, and then Webb had said: “That’s a
lie, kid. Two-eighty’s the price.”

“I’ll get it. That other money, what you stole from Clem Harland, must
go back to him. Remember, Webb, I’ll have to pay back what you used of
it, and the five dollars I borrowed for you besides, and it ain’t going
to be easy. Father’s pretty hard up this year, and I don’t get but ten
dollars a month.”

“Yeah, I know about your father. I wrote and tried to make a touch
awhile back, but nothin’ stirrin’. Well, what you say goes, kid. You’re
sure white, and I won’t forget it.”

When he had reached the door Webb had called: “Say, kid, if you’ve got
a quarter you ain’t needin’ you might hand it to the old guy there an’
tell him to fetch me in some supper. I’ll bet the _cuisine_ at this
hotel’s rotten.”

Jim had thrust a hand into an empty pocket and replied regretfully: “I
haven’t got it, Webb.”

“All right, kid. Don’t you worry. I ate good a while back. See you
to-morrow.”

Now, staring at the unsullied sheet of note paper before him and
tapping his teeth with the end of his fountain pen, Jim was wondering
where and how he was to get two dollars and eighty cents to give to
Webb in the morning. He was determined that all that was left of Clem’s
twenty-two dollars should go back to him untouched. Webb ought to
have more than the mere price of his fare, too. He seemed certain that
he had only to reach Norwalk to find work, but he would have to have
money for food to eat to-morrow and the part of the next at least. Four
dollars wouldn’t be a cent too much. Jim went to his closet and looked
over his none too ample wardrobe. Jim knew nothing of institutions that
loaned money on personal property and allowed you the privilege of
redeeming it; he was trying to decide whether his heavy winter overcoat
which, if truth were told, was far heavier than it was warm, or the
light-weight suit he had worn back to school in the fall could be best
given up. Either one ought to sell for a good deal more than four
dollars; but how much more he didn’t know. His movements dislodged the
football from the shelf above and it dropped with a startling thud on
his head. He picked it up and was looking it over appraisingly when the
door opened and Clem entered.

Clem said “Hello,” glancing briefly from Jim’s face to the ball in his
hands, and turned to his own closet to hang up his cap. If there was
anything unaccustomed in his tone Jim didn’t notice it. He was thinking
of what he had to say and wondering how Clem was going to take it. He
walked back to the table, stared down at the waiting letter paper and,
when Clem turned away from the closet, said: “I’m terribly sorry about
what happened to-day, Clem.”

After a slight hesitation Clem replied: “Yes. Well, so am I, Jim.”
It sounded as though he had tried to speak lightly, but he had only
succeeded in sounding oddly stiff. Jim looked across inquiringly, but
Clem had seated himself on his side of the table and was pulling over
his books.

“I’m going to get what’s left of that money in the morning,” Jim
continued, “and give it back to you. There’s only a little over sixteen
dollars of it, though, and so I’m owing you eleven now. I’m going to
write to dad and ask him to send me ten and take it out of my December
and January allowances. Then--then I thought of another way, but I
don’t know--I ain’t sure about that yet.”

“Don’t bother about it,” said Clem. “I don’t care a hang if you never
pay it back.” He opened a book, propped his elbows and indicated that
the subject was closed. Something in his voice and attitude puzzled
Jim, and he jumped to a conclusion.

“I guess I know how you feel,” he said. “It--it isn’t very pleasant to
find that the fellow you’re rooming with has a cousin--well, a sort of
a cousin--who’s a--a thief. I sort of wish you hadn’t gone over there
with me, Clem.”

Clem lifted his head and stared a moment. Then he laughed shortly.
“Well, I can certainly believe that!” he said.

“What I mean is if you hadn’t known about Webb, about his being related
to me, it wouldn’t have troubled you. But I’d sort of like you to
believe that he ain’t--isn’t really bad, Clem. If you had known him
five or six years ago--”

“Look here, Jim, let me understand you. This cousin of yours, or
whatever he is, is a ne’er-do-well, all right; I guess you could call
him a bum without being sued for libel, but just what do you mean by
calling him a thief?”

“Why, I--well, I don’t want to call him that, Clem, because I--I’m
awfully fond of him, but I guess I’ve got to, haven’t I, after what
happened?”

“What did happen?” asked Clem brusquely.

Jim stared in puzzlement. “Why, he stole your money, Clem!”

“Oh, I see. Your cousin stole it.”

“Well--well, didn’t he?” asked Jim. “Didn’t you see it? Didn’t you hear
what that man said, the Police Captain? I thought--”

“Yes, I saw and heard both, Jim, and-- Look here, suppose we leave the
word ‘stole’ out of it. Let’s say ‘borrowed.’ It sounds better. Anyway,
what’s the good of talking about it any more? You’re sorry and I’m
sorry. Let it go that way.”

“We-ell, all right,” answered Jim dubiously. “Only I wanted you to know
that you were going to get your money back, Clem.”

“I’ve told you I didn’t care about that. Besides, hang it all, Jim,
if this fellow Webb stole it why don’t you let him pay it back? If he
stole it where does your liability come in?”

“Why, he couldn’t pay it back, Clem. Or he wouldn’t, I guess. He’s
promised to go straight, but I don’t know if he will. I’m responsible,
of course. If it wasn’t for me he wouldn’t have come here and taken it.”

“When was it he took it?” asked Clem coldly.

“About three, he said. The other night he saw you get your keys out and
open the suit-case, and he heard us talking, and to-day--”

“Saw us through the door, eh?”

“No, he says the door wasn’t quite closed. But he didn’t think of
stealing the money until to-day. He came up here to ask me for another
loan, and we were both out, and he remembered about the money in the
suit-case and--and took it.”

“And no one saw him?” asked Clem incredulously.

“He says Mr. Tarbot saw him go by his study but didn’t pay any
attention.”

“That’s hard to believe. And look here, Jim, I don’t remember that door
being ajar. My recollection is that you closed it tight when you came
in from the hall.”

“I guess I meant to, but maybe I didn’t, because Webb saw you go to
your drawer and get the keys.”

Clem jumped up impatiently, went to the door and set it open an inch
or two. “Like that?” he asked, with a trace of sarcasm. “Tell me how
he could have seen me go to the closet and open the bag on the floor
there.”

“He couldn’t.” Jim was finding his chum’s manner more puzzling every
minute. “He didn’t say he did. He only said he saw you open the drawer
and get the bunch of keys. The rest he just heard.”

Clem shrugged as he closed the door again and went back to his chair.
Jim was watching him anxiously, disturbed by something he couldn’t
define. “Over there at the police station,” said Clem, after a moment’s
silence, “the Captain told us that your--friend said he got the money
from you.”

“Yes,” agreed Jim, frowning.

“And you said so, too, didn’t you?”

“Of course! What else could I say? I _had_ to lie, Clem. If I hadn’t
they’d have accused him of theft. I thought you understood why I was
doing it!”

“Oh! Yes, I see.”

Suddenly Jim realized. Indignation sent the blood flooding up into his
cheeks and for an instant his hands clutched the back of the chair
on which they rested until the knuckles showed white. He stifled the
exclamation of angry dismay that rushed to his lips, and in the moment
he realized that, on evidence alone, Clem was fairly entitled to his
belief. Yes, circumstances undoubtedly pointed to him rather than to
Webb as the culprit! But the thought that Clem could believe him a
thief, on any sort of evidence save that of his own eyesight, hurt him
horribly. He felt almost sick for a minute.

Clem’s eyes were on the book opened before him, but I doubt that he saw
the words there. He was secretly at odds with himself. He had returned
to the room determined to make no reference to the affair of the stolen
money. It had not occurred to him that Jim had sought to protect Webb.
It did not occur to him now, seriously. Webb had demanded more money,
Jim had known about the twenty-two dollars and had yielded to a sudden
temptation. That was how Clem figured it. The mere act of thievery
didn’t seem so bad to him, nor did the loss of the money--if it proved
a loss--trouble him at all. But he felt terribly injured, spiritually
bruised, by the revelation that Jim could do so small and mean an
act. He had, almost without realizing it, grown very fond of Jim,
and now the discovery that the latter was not worthy of the affection
wounded him sorely. But he had meant to keep all this to himself;
Jim, he had thought, would be glad to say no more of the affair; and
he would have done so if Jim had not made matters worse by attempting
to shift the blame to Webb. That had turned Clem’s sorrow to disgust
and, finally, to something close to anger. To him, accusing Webb was
far worse than taking the money. The latter was capable of palliation
if one granted sudden temptation, but to seek to clear himself at the
expense of another, one who could not testify on his own behalf, was
indefensible; it was the worst of all offenses to Clem’s eyes, it was
poor sportsmanship!

Jim’s voice broke the silence finally. It was harsh and strained, for
he was trying desperately to hide his hurt, and it was so low that it
scarcely carried across the table.

“Clem,” he said, “are you thinking that I stole that money?”

Clem looked up, his face oddly expressionless. “I thought we had agreed
to leave that word out of it.”

“What does it matter what you call it?” asked Jim, his voice trembling
a trifle in spite of his efforts to keep it steady. “You are thinking
it! You don’t dare look me in the face and deny it!”

Clem frowned. “Let’s not be tiresome, Jim. It’s done. Let’s not say
anything more about it.”

There was another silence. Then: “All right,” said Jim. “I will never
speak of it again--until you do.” The strained expression went out of
his face, but it remained white and grim as he seated himself in his
chair and took up his pen once more. Now there was no hesitation. The
sprawling letters followed each other rapidly across the white sheet.
“Friday,” he wrote; “Dear Father: I am sorry to have to ask you for
money again but I must have twelve dollars within a few days. This
is right important. I want you should take it out of my allowances
for December, January and February, so I’m not asking anything extra.
Please try hard to send me this twelve dollars just as soon as you get
this letter. I’m not in trouble, so you don’t need to be worried any,
and when I see you I’ll tell you what I have to have it for. I am well
and getting along nicely--”

Jim paused there and stared sadly at the base of the lamp for a long
moment before he went on.



CHAPTER XIV

IN THE JUDGE’S CHAMBER


Jim was the first one at the training table the next morning and the
first one away, and it wasn’t much after half-past eight when he
emerged from Haylow and made his way across the campus. Under one
arm he carried his football. At West street he turned to the left
and, about a third of the way along the block, turned in under a
swinging sign on which a football was portrayed. It was a prosperous
looking store whose well-filled shelves and cases and counters offered
everything in the athletic and sporting goods lines. At this time of
morning there were no customers, and the only occupant was a youth of
nineteen or twenty, a graduate of the Academy and a resident of the
town. To him Jim explained his errand.

“I bought this football here awhile back,” he stated, “and it’s never
been used any to speak of. Hasn’t even been out of my room until
to-day. You can see it’s almost like new.”

“Yes, I see, but what’s the matter with it?” The clerk was examining
the stitching frowningly.

“Nothing,” said Jim, “but I ain’t got any more use for it and I
thought maybe you could sell it again.”

“Well, I don’t know. It’s just about as good as a new one, Mr. Todd;
I’ve got you right, haven’t I? You are Todd of the Eleven, aren’t you?
I thought so. Well, as I was saying, I’d like to oblige you, but we
don’t very often have calls for second-hand footballs. I don’t suppose
we ever had, still I’ll be glad to do what I can for you. I’ll take it
on sale, Mr. Todd. It’s kind of late now, though, and the demand for
footballs is about over.”

“I wanted you to buy it from me,” said Jim. “I need the money right
away.”

“Oh! Well, I don’t see how we could do that. If Mr. Emerson was here
he might be willing to do it, but he isn’t. I don’t see much of him
at this time of the year. Guess he’s pretty busy playing football. He
telephones a couple of times a week, but he may not call up to-day.”

Jim’s disappointment showed plainly. “Well, I’ve got to have the money
this morning,” he muttered. “I--I’d sell it back to you right cheap.”

“How cheap?” asked the clerk. “You paid seven for this, didn’t you?”

“Six-thirty. I got the academy discount.”

“That’s right. Well, how much do you want for it?”

“Four,” answered Jim.

“Well, I don’t say it isn’t worth it,” said the other dubiously, “but I
guess three and a half would be the best I could get for it, if it sold
at all.”

“Three and a half?” Jim considered. “All right, I’ll take three and a
half.”

“I may get stuck on it,” said the clerk hesitantly, “but I’ll take a
chance. Mind, I’m doing this, not the store, Mr. Todd. I wouldn’t have
any right to risk the store’s money like this.”

Jim nodded. The point wasn’t important to him, and he was trying to
think of some way in which to get the other fifty cents of the four
dollars. The clerk took three dollars and a half from his pocket, handed
the sum across the counter and the transaction was completed. Jim
hurried out.

Had he passed that way half an hour later and looked in the left-hand
window he would have seen his ball prominently displayed above a card
on which was printed: “Shopworn--A Bargain at $4.50.”

Further along on the opposite side of the street was a tiny jewelry
store. On the single narrow window was printed “The Diamond Palace--I.
Kohn & Son.” Crossing the street, Jim removed his cuff-links. Whether
they were solid gold or merely plated had never interested him before,
but he hoped now that they were solid. They were, and after Mr. Kohn,
Junior, a personable youth with extremely red cheeks, a diminutive
black mustache and brilliantly shining hair smoothed back from his
forehead, had carefully satisfied himself on that point he asked
severely: “You want to sell them?”

Jim said that he did. Young Mr. Kohn shrugged, laid them back on
a rusty square of purple velvet and pushed the square toward the
customer. “We don’t buy second-hand jewelry,” he said. Jim picked up
the links. “If you want to sell those for old gold, we’ll pay you what
they’re worth.”

Jim hesitated. “How much?” he asked.

Mr. Kohn, Junior, weighed the links on a small scales, out of sight of
Jim, by the way, and replied; “A dollar and a half. They don’t weigh
quite so much, but I’ll call it a dollar and a half even.”

“They’re worth more than that,” answered Jim, remembering that there
were at least six more jewelry stores in town.

“Not for old gold they ain’t.”

“Well, I guess I don’t want to sell them,” said Jim.

“How much you think they’re worth?” asked the other, still keeping the
cuff-links.

“Two dollars.”

“You’re making fun of me,” answered the other, smiling patiently.
“I ain’t saying they ain’t worth two dollars to you for cuff-links,
because maybe they’d be worth three, but for old gold--”

“All right,” replied Jim, holding out his hand.

“Say, ain’t you one of the fellows that plays with the football team
over to the Academy?” asked young Mr. Kohn.

“Yes.”

“Sure! I recognized you when I see you coming in the door. You was
playing in that game last week, wasn’t you? Sure! Well, now, listen,
to you I’ll say a dollar and seventy-five cents. If papa was here he’d
skin me, but I’m a great feller for football, and--”

Jim was pointing through the top of the case to a pair of cheap
imitation gold cuff-links fixed in a small card. “I’ll let you have
them for a dollar, seventy-five and those links there.”

“I couldn’t, positively!” Mr. Kohn, Junior, extracted the links in
question from the tray and read the cryptic figures on a corner of the
soiled card. “Say, you know what these sell for. Sixty-five cents! Look
for yourself!”

“‘g n l’” read Jim. “That don’t spell sixty-five to me; it spells
twenty-five.”

Perhaps Mr. Kohn, Junior, was not without a sense of humor, for he
chuckled quite humanly, hesitated a moment and finally turned to a
huge safe at the back of the narrow shop. “Say, you got a cheek, ain’t
you?” he asked almost approvingly. “I got to give you that. I guess you
football fellers is great bluffers maybe.” He counted out a dollar and
seventy-five cents. “There you are, Mister. Call again. Good morning.”
Jim took the money and the awful cuff-links and departed. After he
had gone young Mr. Kohn rubbed his purchase diligently with a soiled
chamois, fixed them to a card, wrote “l d b” in a corner and placed
them on a glass shelf. In the obscure code of the Diamond Palace “l d
b” signified that the article was to be disposed of for five dollars.
As, however, the proprietors permitted themselves the privilege of
reducing their goods twenty per centum below the marked prices to
secure a sale it was possible that Jim’s cuff-links might some day go
for as little as four dollars.

On his way to the Police Station Jim put his new purchases in place
and felt vastly more comfortable. The Captain was not in, but the
stout Sergeant served as well and conducted Jim up a broad flight of
much-worn steps to the second floor of the building. Facing the top of
the staircase, a wide portal, its double doors swung open, showed the
court room in possession of a few loungers and a clerk busily at work
under the judge’s desk. Jim, however, was conducted past the doorway
and to a smaller door at the end of the hall. The Sergeant knocked,
received no answer and looked in.

“He ain’t come yet. You set down, kid, and make yourself comfortable.
He’ll be along in a minute or two.”

The Sergeant left him and Jim took one of the several severe-looking
chairs and waited. He didn’t have to wait long, for presently brisk
steps sounded on stairs and corridor and a middle-aged man in a
closely-fitting suit of small gray checks and a bright red necktie
swung through the doorway. Jim arose. The Judge grunted, dropped a
bag on the desk, placed a morning paper atop, hung his derby hat in
a wardrobe, sank into a swivel chair and lighted a cigar. All these
things were done very briskly, so that Jim was on his feet less than a
minute before the Judge waved him back to it.

“Want to see me?” asked the Judge in an accusing voice.

“Yes, sir, if you please.” Jim wondered if he should have said “Your
Honor.” But if he had failed in respect the Judge let it pass. He
shifted his cigar so that the smoke allowed him a view of the visitor
and, after a longing glance at the newspaper, crossed one plump knee
over the other.

“What about?”

“About one of the--the prisoners, sir.”

“Coming before me this morning?”

“Yes, sir, so the Police Captain said, and he said I could see you
before court began and tell you about him. You see, Judge, Webb is all
right, only--”

“What’s his name?”

“Webb Todd, but he called himself Webster when they arrested him.”

“Gave an assumed name, eh? What’s he charged with?”

“Vagrancy, sir.”

“That all?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, there have been too many vagrants around here lately, and I
guess it’s about time some of them were made examples of. What do you
know about this Webster?”

So Jim, beginning rather timorously but soon forgetting his awe of the
listener, said his say. He made Webb out rather a fine character, and
once or twice the Judge’s cigar trembled in his mouth and the Judge’s
keen gray eyes, which weren’t really half so steel-like as he tried to
make them, softened. Jim told how Webb had taught him to swim and pull
an oar and use a paddle and had, in short, looked after him like an
elder brother for so many years. And he told how Webb had dived into
icy water that time when Jim had gone beneath the logs and had saved
his life. Now and then the Judge asked a question, and one of them was
“What’s your name?” and another was “You’re the boy they call ‘Slim’
Todd, aren’t you?” And finally, to Jim’s utter surprise, he and the
Judge were talking football!

The Judge knew football, too. There wasn’t any doubt as to that. He
had played it in school and college, and, although that had been a
good twenty years before, he still followed the game and was an ardent
“fan”; and traveled many miles each November to see his college meet
its ancient rival. He hadn’t missed an Alton game so far this season,
he told Jim, but he didn’t believe he’d be able to make the trip to New
Falmouth this afternoon. Then he asked if Jim was going to play, and
Jim said he expected to, and the Judge sighed and pushed his newspaper
aside and made finger spots on the polished mahogany surface of the
desk and moved his hands hither and yon and explained to Jim in detail
the way in which he had got away around the enemy’s right on a certain
blustery afternoon many years ago and sped twenty-six yards for the
touchdown that had won the game. And Jim, watching and listening, saw
the picture clearly and said “_Gee!_” once or twice with bated breath
and sighed with vast relief when the Judge--only, of course, he wasn’t
the Judge then--tore loose from the last tackler and fell across the
blurred white line!

Then there was a knock on the door that led to the court room and the
Judge straightened himself back in his chair and looked very judge-like
on the instant. When the Clerk entered the Judge shook hands with Jim
and walked to the corridor door with him. “I’m glad to have met you,
Mr. Todd,” he said in his best judicial tones. “Good morning.” But the
Judge’s hand pressed Jim’s very hard, and so Jim found courage to ask
before the door closed behind them: “And about--about Webb, sir? You’ll
be easy with him, sir?”

“My boy,” answered the Judge, looking just a bit pompous and severe,
“his case will be judged absolutely on its merits. I can say no more
than that.”

After which, while the Clerk of the Court coughed deprecatively in
token that the Judge was due on the bench, the Judge’s right eye-lid,
without in the least altering the expression of his face, closed slowly
down over the steel-gray eye.

Comforted, indeed rather happier than he had been since yesterday
afternoon, Jim passed into the court room and took a seat at the rear.
The rest of the audience counted no more than two dozen. Jim had never
been in any sort of a court before, and he was a little disappointed
at the almost casual way in which the cases were disposed of. But the
offenses were all minor ones and so probably deserved little ceremony.
The Judge--strangely enough, Jim didn’t yet know his name--sat very
straight behind his desk and looked unemotionally stern and gave his
verdicts in crisp, terse words. Jim began to be a little uneasy. It
seemed to him that the Judge was absolutely unable to say “Discharged”!
Instead, it was “Ten days in jail” or “You are fined fifty dollars”
or “Sentenced to thirty days: sentence suspended.” The prisoners were
a dejected looking lot until Webb Todd stood up in his turn. Webb was
perhaps more rumpled and seedy-looking than his predecessors, but there
were no signs of dejection about him. Indeed he had a rather jaunty air
as he faced the Judge, in spite of his unshaven face and cheap, skimpy,
frayed clothes. The Judge viewed him keenly and at greater length than
usual. The charge was read.

“What have you got to say for yourself, Webster?” asked the Judge.

“Not much, your Honor,” Webb answered easily. “Just that I ain’t
guilty. I’ve been here three or four days looking for work, but I ain’t
a vagrant.”

“Where did you work last?”

“Manchester, New Hampshire, sir.”

“How long ago?”

“About a month. Nearly five weeks.”

“How did you happen to come here?”

“I was going to Norwalk. I got a job promised me in Norwalk. I got out
of money and I had a friend here and I stopped to make a touch.”

“Succeed?”

“Yes, sir.”

“When?”

“Yesterday afternoon.”

“Before that?” The Judge’s eyes bored hard. Webb stroked his chin.

“A couple of days ago, sir.”

“Why didn’t you go to Norwalk when you got the first money from this
friend?”

“I--I guess I felt lazy,” said Webb. He smiled engagingly, and the
Judge frowned.

“Where’s your home?”

“New York City.”

“Ever been in Maine?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Four Lakes?”

Jim could see the sudden stiffening of Webb’s thin form at the far end
of the room. “Yes, sir,” answered Webb after a moment.

“As a matter of fact, Webster, that’s your home, isn’t it?”

“It used to be, Judge. I--I guess I ain’t got any now.”

The Judge stared intently at Webb for a long while across the desk,
and, to his credit be it said, Webb returned the look unflinchingly.
“If I let you off, Webster, will you promise me to leave this town
before night and secure work inside of twenty-four hours?”

“I’ll say so, Judge.”

“Think you can secure work?”

“I know it.”

The Judge leaned back. “Discharged,” he said. “Next case.”

Jim followed Webb into the corridor and went down stairs with him.
“Gee, I’m awfully glad, Webb!” he said.

“Pshaw, he didn’t have nothin’ on me, kid. What did I tell you? But,
say, I forgot about you seeing him, and when he asked me about Four
Lakes I got a swell jar! Did you bring the money, kid?”

“Yes. You get what they took away from you, Webb, and we’ll trade.”

Webb didn’t seem enthusiastic about that, but he disappeared and after
a few minutes returned with his possessions. “Fifteen dollars,” he
said, offering Jim three five-dollar coins.

“Sixteen, forty-one,” said Jim implacably. Webb sighed, grinned and
found the balance.

“Gee, kid, you’re a regular Shylock, ain’t you?”

“This isn’t my money, Webb. Remember that I’ve got to pay back the
difference, too.”

“That’s right. Say, I’m sorry, kid, honest I am. I ain’t used you
right, and I know it. Comin’ along to the railway station with me?”

“No,” answered Jim. “I haven’t time, Webb. Here’s five dollars. You’ll
be able to eat for a few days if you don’t get that job right off.”

“Kid, you’re a prince! But I’ll get the job, all right. And say, this
ain’t any promise, ’cause I ain’t good at keeping promises, but maybe
I’ll be sending you that money back before long.”

“I hope you will,” replied Jim soberly. “Anyway, I’ll be expecting you
to, Webb, for you really owe it to me, you know.”

“Help!” said Webb. “Well, that’s right, too. So long, kid. See you
again some day likely.”

They shook hands; they were at the corner now; and Jim said: “You’ll
keep your promise, won’t you, Webb? I mean you’ll really go to Norwalk
and get work.”

“Take it from me, kid,” answered Webb, grinning, “it ain’t going to be
healthy for me in this town after to-day. That Judge back there’s a
hard-boiled egg, or I miss my guess! So long, kid!”



CHAPTER XV

LOWELL IS WORRIED


Too late for a ten o’clock recitation, Jim went back to Haylow and
deposited Clem’s money in a drawer. At twenty minutes to eleven he went
to his last class of the day, and when he returned to Number 15 Clem
was there ahead of him. Jim took the money from his drawer and laid it
on Clem’s chiffonier.

“That’s yours,” he stated.

Clem nodded carelessly. “Yes. Much obliged.” Presently he arose and
took the money and placed it back in the suit-case, dropping the bunch
of keys back into the chiffonier drawer as before. It is possible
that the act was well intended. Perhaps he meant to convey to Jim
that, despite what had happened, he still trusted him. But Jim read it
differently. To Jim the proceeding announced: “You’ve been caught once,
so I guess you won’t try it again!” Since last night the two had not
had much to say to each other, and what conversation there had been had
sounded lame. Probably in another day or two the feeling of constraint
on each side would wear off, but just now it was far easier to remain
silent than to make their remarks sound natural. After a few minutes,
though, Clem looked at his watch and asked:

“Aren’t you going with the team, Jim?”

Jim started and hurriedly consulted his own timepiece. “Gosh, yes!” he
ejaculated. “I’d forgotten!” He hustled about and finally made for the
door.

“Good luck,” said Clem. “Hope you trim them.”

“Thanks,” Jim called back.

There was an early dinner, at which Jim was late, and then the squad
piled into two buses and were trundled to the station. New Falmouth was
not far, but the train was a slow one and, to-day, was twenty minutes
behind schedule besides. It was well after two when they reached their
destination. Mr. Cade had taken twenty-six players, and these with
coaches, managers, trainer and rubber made quite an addition to New
Falmouth’s population and caused considerable stir in the little town.

The game started at three o’clock and went the visitors’ way from
the kick-off. New Falmouth High School was a team that varied from
very good to extremely poor with the seasons. This year it was an
aggregation of big, husky youths who seemed to have a lot of football
inside them but couldn’t get it out. That, at least, was the way
Lowell Woodruff put it to Jim on the way home. Alton confined herself
to straight plays and had so little difficulty making ground through
the opponent’s line that she was not called on to play an open game.
Rolls Roice made the first score when he picked up a fumbled ball
and dashed nearly thirty yards with it. Billy Frost added a second
touchdown six minutes later. Pep Kinsey, who started the game at
quarter, kicked both goals and the first period ended with Alton 14 and
New Falmouth 0.

Mr. Cade began substitutions with the beginning of the next quarter.
Latham took Pep’s place, Plant went in for Billy Frost and Benning
displaced Cheswick at center. A long march put Alton on the home team’s
eight yards where a mistake in signals set her back to the fourteen.
Two drives by Tennyson, at full-back, netted five and, with ten to
go on fourth down, Latham tossed to Levering, left end. But the ball
grounded and went to the enemy. It was not until the half was nearly
over that the Gray-and-Gold’s next invasion yielded a profit. Then
Plant broke through from New Falmouth’s twenty-seven yards and wormed
through a crowded field to the twelve. From there it took the visitors
just five plays to put the pigskin across, Tennyson making the final
plunge straight through center. Whittier missed the goal. By that time
Alton’s line was largely composed of second and third string players,
and during the few minutes that remained New Falmouth made her second
first-down and kept the ball in her possession.

Jim didn’t see service until the third period started. His opponent
was a big heavy youth, but he was correspondingly slow, and Jim didn’t
have much trouble with him. Yet, somehow, Jim played listlessly
to-day. Usually he was surprisingly quick after the ball, and had
not infrequently beaten his own ends down the field under punts, but
this afternoon he and the pigskin were more like strangers and he was
forever running into the interference instead of around it. He was not
the only one who failed to show his best form, however, for there was a
noticeable let-down in aggressiveness as the score grew. Mr. Cade used
every man he had brought along before the end, but re-instated several
first-string fellows in the final period. Jim was one of those who
retired then. He didn’t much care, for some reason. Perhaps, because
when your side is 30 and the other side is 0, some of the zest of
playing is lacking.

New Falmouth made her single score while Jim was still in as a result
of abandoning her off-tackle and around-the-end plays, which had
netted her little, and taking to a passing game. Twice she tried long
passes and failed, largely because the thrower waited so long that
Alton easily covered the receivers. Finally, though, having caught a
short punt on Alton’s forty-seven yards, she changed her tactics and
used a short pass across the line from a moving formation by which the
pass was well screened. Possibly she would have found less success
had the Gray-and-Gold team not been at the time composed largely of
substitutes. As it was she managed to fool the opponents very neatly
by varying the passes with end runs. Several times Alton’s back-field
followed across to the apparently threatened territory only to find
that a run had suddenly developed into a forward pass that sent them
doubling back, usually too late. Once Smith, who had taken Gus Fingal’s
place, saved the day by pulling down the receiver from behind. On
three other occasions New Falmouth got the pass to the runner almost
unchallenged, and only the fact that the receivers seemed incapable of
getting off quickly kept the home team from crossing Alton’s goal-line.
As it was, New Falmouth swept from the forty-seven to the fifteen,
losing a yard now and then on end plays and gaining from eight to
twelve on passes across the line.

On the fifteen-yard line, however, Alton, reinforced by two first-string
backs, stopped progress. New Falmouth shot a forward to the left only to
have it knocked down by Billy Frost. A plunge off tackle gained less
than a yard. Faking a try-at-goal, the invaders tossed over the middle
of the line and in the wild scramble that ensued the pigskin again went
to earth. With one chance left New Falmouth put it up to the toe of her
full-back and, although Alton tried desperately to break through, and
although both Jim and Hick Powers actually did succeed in almost
reaching the kicker, he made good and sent the pigskin neatly between
the uprights for New Falmouth’s single score of the day. In revenge the
visiting team took the ball a few minutes later and, strengthened by the
return of many of her players who had started the contest, walked down
the field for the last tally, sending Steve Whittier over for the fifth
touchdown just before time was up. Steve added the 1 to the 6 a moment
later, and, since she had previously scored a field-goal, Alton Academy
returned home in the November twilight with a 37 to 3 victory.

On the train Lowell Woodruff sat with Jim and was very talkative on
the subject of the contest and the lessons to be learned from it. Jim,
feeling rather glum, would much rather have watched the gray landscape
and thought his thoughts, even if they weren’t very cheering. But he
managed to make Lowell think he was attentive, and, since Lowell never
demanded too much of his listeners, he had little opportunity to
commune either with Nature or with Jim Todd during that forty-minute
train ride. “We don’t want to get proud and haughty about this game,”
was part of the wisdom imparted by the manager. “Of course, it wasn’t
so bad, and if we’d played our best men all through we might easily
have scored a couple more times and kept our own slate clean. But
the point is that those raw meat eaters back there are slow as cold
molasses. And their brains are sort of torpid, too. If they had a
chance to make a gain they went into conference, you might say, and by
the time they’d reached a decision some one of our crowd spilled the
beans. I wouldn’t wonder if they had a pretty fair team by the end of
the season, but any fast bunch could tie knots in ’em. That’s one thing
we showed ourselves to be to-day, Slim, fast. Yes, sir, we’re plumb
sudden the way we get started and move around. And Johnny Cade was
mighty pleased, too. I guess there was a whole lot he didn’t like, but
the speed we showed had him tickled to death. All we’ve got to do is
keep up the speed, work out a nice running and passing game, and walk
right away from Kenly Hall.”

“You think we can do it?” asked Jim, who, having heard no more than
half of Lowell’s remarks, was driven by compunction to a show of
interest. Lowell grunted and looked past Jim into the gathering
darkness.

“I think we can beat Kenly, but I don’t think it the way I talked
then,” he replied slowly. “That’s the trouble with these easy games.
They make you see things that ain’t. Kenly licked the boots off us
two years ago and tied us last, and I don’t see why she shouldn’t do
it again. That is, if we aren’t a hundred per cent better than we
were when she did it before. We’re some better already, but we’re a
long way from twice as good. Kenly’s got most of her last year crowd
on hand again, and you know we’ve had to build almost a new team.
Anyway, I’d rather see Kenly win than tie us. There’s something beastly
unsatisfactory about a game that neither side wins. Seems as if all the
season’s work and planning had been wasted. It’s like a crazy dream I
had once. I dreamed I was climbing up a lot of ladders hitched together
at the ends. There were dozens of ’em, and I kept on climbing, rung
over rung, scared blue all the time. And then when I finally reached
the top of the last ladder I was just where I’d started!”

Jim laughed. Then: “Tie games never come together, though,” he said
knowingly. “I noticed that when I was reading the football records the
other day.”

“I dare say that’s so,” said Lowell. “I think we’ve only played three
of them with Kenly since the fun started. Anyway, I don’t want to see
another one this year. How did you get on to-day?”

“All right, I guess,” answered Jim without much conviction in his
tones. “Not so well as sometimes, maybe. Guess I didn’t feel very zippy
to start with.”

“I dare say. Every fellow has an off-day now and then. Probably ate
something. Take it easy to-morrow and be good to yourself. You know,
Todd, I’m kind of banking on you to finish the season strong. ‘Slim and
Victory’s’ my motto!”

“Shucks,” muttered Jim. “I ain’t much good, I guess.”

“That,” responded Lowell, “is just your modesty. The fact is,” he added
benignantly, “you play your position just as I should if I were a
football man, Todd. I can think of no greater praise!”

Jim was glad that he had a meeting of the Maine-and-Vermont Society to
interest him that evening. Anything was preferable to sitting alone in
Number 15, and the companionship of Clem offered even less attraction.

Clem had spent a dull afternoon. When it was too late he wished that he
had followed his first impulse and journeyed to New Falmouth for the
game. After sitting listlessly in the room a while, trying to write
a letter and failing, trying to read and again failing, he started
downstairs with the intention of finding some one who, like himself,
had the afternoon on his hands. But the sight of Mr. Tarbot’s open door
produced a sudden impulse and he stopped and knocked.

The instructor was at his desk, but he greeted Clem cordially and asked
him to sit down. Clem seated himself in the attitude of one who has but
a moment to spare. “Mr. Tarbot,” he asked, “did you notice a fellow
pass your door yesterday afternoon?”

“A fellow?” inquired the instructor, smiling.

“Well, a stranger, sir, sort of a smallish, thin chap in gray, with a
cloth cap; awfully seedy-looking.”

“No, I don’t recall him,” replied Mr. Tarbot, “but then so many go in
and out, Harland, that I pay very little attention.”

“If you’d seen this fellow I think you’d have remembered him,” said
Clem. “I mean you’d have seen he wasn’t one of us, sir.”

“Probably. At least, I trust so. As a matter of fact, Harland, I find
myself as I grow older contracting the odd habit of seeing things with
my eyes but not with my brain. For instance, had I been facing the door
when you went past I should probably have raised my eyes and seen you
quite clearly, but if you asked me five minutes later if I had seen
you I’d have had to say no. So it isn’t beyond possibility that your
friend with the cloth cap did go past here. I assume that my habit of
seeing without realizing is a natural and usual symptom of approaching
senility.”

Mr. Tarbot, although he looked somewhat older, was still well under
forty, and Clem laughed. “Well, I guess you’d have noticed this
fellow,” he said. “He probably didn’t come here.”

“There’s nothing wrong, I hope?” said the instructor.

Clem shook his head. Of course there was a good deal wrong, but he
couldn’t tell Mr. Tarbot so. Outside, he felt at once disappointed and
satisfied; disappointed because, as thoroughly as he disbelieved Jim’s
version, he would have been glad to find it true; satisfied because it
is human nature to relish confirmation of one’s convictions. He spent
the subsequent twenty minutes or so trying to find an acquaintance with
whom to cast in his lot for the afternoon, but each room he visited was
deserted, and finally he went back to Haylow and tried to make the best
of the four empty hours ahead.

Already Jim’s crime looked less heinous to Clem. Of course, he assured
himself, he could never feel toward Jim quite as he had before, but
his first severity had waned. He even sought excuses for the other.
Probably Webb had worked on Jim’s sympathies until the latter had
become desperate and on impulse, without sober thought, had taken the
only way to satisfy Webb’s demand that was possible. Perhaps, he told
himself, even he, placed as Jim had been placed, would have done the
same. But he couldn’t convince himself of that. And he was certain
that had he stolen that money he could never have sought to escape
suspicion by throwing the blame on another. That, in Clem’s eyes, was
the deadliest sin.

He determined that so far as was possible he would put the affair out
of his mind and behave as though nothing had ever happened. At least
for the rest of the term. Perhaps after Christmas recess there would
be a chance to move into Lykes. Lykes was the senior dormitory and if
there was a vacancy he would be eligible for it. Of course the matter
of getting Jim into Janus Society was at an end. Doubtless Jim would
understand that. Clem felt a little bit happier--and perhaps a trifle
heroic--after his decision, and he was all prepared to carry his plan
into effect when Jim returned from the game. But Jim went right from
the station to supper and, although Clem waited in Number 15 until
nearly eight o’clock, didn’t get back to the room until ten. By that
time Clem was feeling somewhat disgruntled, as well as sleepy, and in
the few words that were exchanged constraint was as much in evidence as
ever.

But the next morning Clem arose in a kindly and even expansive mood.
It was Sunday, there was no work to be done and the sun was shining
brightly on the best of worlds. So he began promptly to show Jim
that everything was to be just as it had been--almost--and sustained
a distinct surprise when Jim failed--or refused--to read the signs.
Jim was calm and polite, but he was also brief and reserved. In fact,
somewhat to Clem’s indignation, Jim appeared to be trying to swipe
Clem’s rôle of Wounded Virtue! Hang it all, Jim sounded as if it were
his feelings that had been outraged and hurt! Clem couldn’t make it
out, and after a few futile efforts to reëstablish the former _entente_
he relapsed into silence. Oh, well, if the idiot didn’t appreciate his
intentions he could--could chase his blind aunt! He, Clem, was through!

So, on the whole Sunday wasn’t a very merry day in Number 15 Haylow,
and the days that followed weren’t much better save in so far as that
both Jim and Clem became gradually accustomed to the estrangement as
time passed. Clem sought other companionship and seldom remained in
the room after supper and Jim redoubled his interest in football and
the affairs of the Maine-and-Vermont Society. Perhaps it would be
more truthful to say that he sought to redouble his interest, for he
didn’t really succeed. In fact, he wasn’t getting along so well on
the gridiron these days. The process of making a star tackle out of
Jim Todd appeared to have reached an end. By the last of the week he
seemed to have retired permanently to the substitute status and even
Mulford filled in as often as he did. Lowell Woodruff was puzzled and
distressed. Lowell liked to believe that he had in a manner discovered
Slim Todd; or that, if the actual discovery wasn’t his, he had at least
preserved it to the world and established its value. He broached the
subject of Jim’s slump to Clem one evening.

“I don’t know what’s happened to the blighter,” he said plaintively.
“Up to a week or so ago he was going great and Johnny was building
plays around him. But now look at the blamed thing! He’s forgetting
everything he ever learned and a babe in arms could make him look like
a joke.” This was an exaggeration, but Lowell dealt in exaggerations.

“I fancy,” answered Clem, plainly evasive, “that he’s not feeling very
fit, Woodie.”

“Fit my eye! He’s fit but he won’t fight! Something’s taken all the pep
out of him. Know what it is?”

Clem shook his head. Lowell eyed him sharply and said in pained tones:
“You’re a liar, Clem.”

Clem blustered a little but Lowell refused to retract. “Yes, you are,”
he insisted. “But I suppose it’s something you can’t talk about, so
I’ll forgive you.”

“Better let it go at that,” said Clem, grinning. “Anyway, I guess the
team will survive without Jim.”

“Oh, sure. It would survive without any fellow on the squad; even
Gus; but that doesn’t mean we want to lose a good, promising player,
you old coot, and if you know of any way of waking Jim up out of his
trance I wish to goodness you’d try it. I’ve exhausted all my methods.
When I talk to him he just grins and nods and says, ‘Maybe you’re
right, Woodruff’ or ‘There’s nothing the matter with me. You’ll see
to-morrow.’ Well, I look and I don’t see. Perhaps the chap has a secret
sorrow or--or something. Any of his folks ill that you know of?”

Clem shook his head.

“How does he stand with the Office? Hear of any trouble?”

“No, he’s all right there. He always is. He’s a shark.”

“Oh, well, I give it up. Just one more good man gone wrong, I suppose.
But if you have any influence--”

“I haven’t,” interrupted Clem shortly. “Let’s drop it.”

So Lowell dropped it, but he wasn’t satisfied. He retired from the
conversation firmly convinced that Clem knew a heap more than he would
acknowledge and that if Clem was in any way responsible for Jim’s
deficiency boiling oil was far too good for him.

On Wednesday Jim received a check for twelve dollars from his father,
cashed it at the Office and laid the sum of ten dollars and fifty-nine
cents on Clem’s chiffonier. For some inexplicable reason the finding
of the money seemed to annoy Clem, for he swept it into one hand and
fairly hurled it into the top drawer. Jim, observing the strange
action, made no comment. You just couldn’t account for Clem’s behavior
and moods any more!



CHAPTER XVI

JIM DABBLES IN STRATEGY


November was nearly a fortnight old and football was fairly on the
home-stretch. With the New Falmouth game out of the way, Alton had
still to face Mount Millard, Oak Grove and Kenly Hall, the first two
at home, the latter at Lakeville. Frosty nights and frequent chill
and lowery days had taken the place of October mildness, and football
enthusiasm, which, like the witch hazel, only comes into full blossom
after the tang of frost is in the air, was rampant. Football tunes were
heard in the dormitories and wherever two or more fellows were gathered
together the talk was of the team and of Kenly Hall’s warriors and of
the prospects of a Gray-and-Gold victory. In short, it was the season
of the year when most normal American youths talk, think and dream
football.

Kenly Hall had won her five games with seeming ease, rolling up large
scores on three occasions, and Alton scouts had returned to speak
with much respect of the Cherry-and-Black. Those seeking light on the
comparative merits of Alton and Kenly had little to work on. Lorimer
Academy was the only adversary appearing on the schedules of both.
Alton had won from Lorimer 6 to 0. Kenly had defeated Lorimer 27 to 6.
From these scores a variety of conclusions could be and were drawn.
Pessimists pointed gloomily to the fact that whereas Alton had been
able to put over but one touchdown against Lorimer, Kenly had made
four. Optimists dwelt on the fact that although unable to cross Alton’s
goal-line Lorimer had found Kenly’s pregnable. So there you were.
Unlimited argument was possible.

Coach Cade and his assistants, though, had more information to work
on. To them it was known that Kenly had a heavy, powerful team which
had developed early in the season and which had yet to meet opposition
strong enough to thoroughly test it. Kenly’s line was strong, if
sluggish, and her backfield had weight and experience. So far her backs
had shown better ability at plunging than at running plays, and Kenly
had won her battles largely on assaults inside and outside tackles.
If she had any running game it had not been shown, and the same was
only slightly less true of her kicking. In short, Kenly appeared to be
standing pat on the style of football played by her last year and the
year before; and for several years before that. She was using a fairly
well diversified attack inasmuch as she used short over-the-line
passes inside the opponent’s forty-yard line and pulled off an end run,
not often successfully, frequently enough to keep the adversary in
doubt. If the Cherry-and-Black had one weakness it was in the position
of quarter-back. She had tried out three men there and none had
exhibited much genius for generalship, although all had plenty of skill
as players. Coach Cade drew most satisfaction from the fact that so far
Kenly had persisted along old lines and still showed no disposition to
upset his plans by introducing innovation.

On the Tuesday following the New Falmouth game the second team, when
it faced the first for the first scrimmage of the week, discovered
that the opponent was using a new arrangement of the backs. Quarter
and one half-back stood five yards behind the line of scrimmage, the
former opposite left tackle, the latter opposite the guard-tackle
hole on the right. The other half-back and the full-back stood three
yards behind the first two, the first directly back of center and the
second directly back of the outside half. With this arrangement every
pass from center was necessarily made straight to the runner and every
member of the back-field was eligible to take a forward pass. There
was no variation of the formation save for drop--or place-kicking. The
punting was done by Whittier from approximately six yards behind the
center. This necessitated getting kicks off quickly, but Steve was
equal to it. The first team’s first punt from the new formation so
surprised the second team that the ball went over the defensive back’s
head!

Combined with line shifts of various sorts, the new backfield formation
showed more and more merit as the season progressed. Plays in which the
back received the ball while moving seemed especially adapted to it
since speed was one thing that the Gray-and-Gold backfield possessed.
Such plays demand extreme nicety in their execution and following the
New Falmouth game the blackboard became a prominent feature in the
instruction and dummy drills a favorite occupation. Evening sessions
were held five times a week and plays were set forth in diagram on the
blackboard and then walked through on the gymnasium floor. A second
volunteer coach had appeared in the person of an old Alton player named
Lake, and to him fell the task of putting the final polish on the
backs. Football at Alton was now running under forced draft.

Thursday, which would ordinarily have seen a hard practice in
preparation for Mount Millard, was very nearly a wasted day, for a hard
rain set in about mid-morning and continued until long after dark. The
gridiron became a squashy, soggy territory interspersed with miniature
lakes by three o’clock, and so, although the afternoon was to have
been devoted to the perfecting of several plays to be used on Saturday,
the best coaches and players could do was to hold a blackboard party in
the gymnasium. Five first-string men were to go to Lakeville Saturday
to watch Kenly play Comerford and the players who were to take their
places were none too well drilled in their rôles. Jim was one of the
latter, for Rolls Roice was included in the scouting expedition, and he
and George Mulford would both be called on to fill in. Jim suspected
that Mulford would be Mr. Cade’s first choice, and the suspicion didn’t
worry him at all. Of course he would rather play against Mount Millard
than sit on the bench, but whether he was put in at left tackle at the
start or only sent in as a substitute for Mulford or Sawyer didn’t
matter much to him. He paid strict attention to the blackboard talk and
went through formations and signal drill afterwards conscientiously
enough, but his heart wasn’t in it. The squad was dismissed early,
with instructions to report there again at seven-fifteen for a night
session, and Jim trailed back to Haylow through the downpour to find,
whether to his relief or disappointment he couldn’t have said, Number
15 empty.

He was up on his studies for Friday, and so he tried to read a story
in a magazine, stretching his long form on the window-seat and
holding the pages close to the pane in the dim white light. But the
story failed to win his interest, and after a while he arose, found
his rules book, a pad of paper and a pencil and began to make lines
and circles and crosses. Lots of times, lying wakeful in bed, Jim had
concocted quite marvelous plays in his mind. At least, they had seemed
marvelous at the time. Now he proposed to set them down on paper and
see what they really looked like. It proved to be a most entertaining,
even absorbing, occupation. The plays he had figured out in bed, or,
at least, the few he could remember now, weren’t at all startling when
put to the test. Indeed, few of them were original even to Jim, and
those that were transgressed some rule of play. A perfectly gorgeous
end-run looked like a world-beater until it dawned on its inventor that
it depended for its effectiveness on the presence of a back between
tackle and end and that if the back put himself there one of the other
line-men would have to drop out. But difficulties were made to be
overcome, problems to be solved, and as soon as one diagram had been
proved valueless Jim tore off a sheet from the pad and began all over
again. When it was almost too dark to see he heard Clem’s steps in the
corridor and gathered the discarded sheets up very quickly and stuffed
them in a pocket. He suspected that trying to discover football plays
not already discovered was a puerile pursuit, and he didn’t want Clem
to catch him at it. What he did not have time to do, however, before
the door opened was to tear off the top sheet of the pad on which he
had just finished the plan for a forward-pass. So he dropped the pad
face-down beside him, and when Clem entered he was innocently gazing
through the rain-washed pane at the dripping trees and sodden turf
below.

“Hello,” said Clem. “Why the gloom?”

“Too lazy to get up,” replied Jim. Clem put the lights on and viewed
his room-mate curiously. “Probably,” he had thought, “the poor duffer’s
sort of blue and lonesome.” And, being sorry, he was prepared to “eat
dirt,” if necessary, to put things back on something like the old
footing. But Jim was thinking of the last play he had fashioned. It
had looked good to him, although there had not been time to go over
it thoroughly after completion. He wished that Clem had delayed his
arrival by another five minutes; or would take himself out again so
that he could study the new play at his leisure. Consequently, when
Clem looked for pathos in Jim’s face he didn’t find it. Jim looked
anything but lonesome and unhappy. Sitting in the dark and staring out
onto a rain-drenched world, which would have given Clem the dumps in
no time, appeared to have an animating, even cheering, effect on his
room-mate. Clem grunted as he turned to hang up his cap.

“No practice to-day, I suppose,” he remarked, returning to the table.

“Only indoors. What sort of a team does Mount Millard have generally?”

“Fair to middling, I believe. Seems to me they’ve beaten us once or
twice. I think they licked us in my freshman year. I forget, though.
Maybe it was the year before, and I just heard talk of it. You playing
Saturday?”

“Guess so. I’ll probably get in for a while. Roice is going to
Lakeville with three or four other fellows to see Kenly Hall play.”

“I see.” Clem settled himself in a chair under the light and began
to read over a theme that had been returned to him that morning,
frowning over the red-penciled criticisms that adorned the margins.
Surreptitiously Jim tore the top sheet off the pad, folded it and
consigned it to a pocket for future reference. When supper time came
Clem showed no disposition to leave, so Jim went to the lavatory
first. There, finding it empty for the moment, he disposed of soap and
towel and drew out the diagram and studied it for a moment under the
light. He was still so occupied when footfalls beyond the swinging
doors caused him to thrust the paper hurriedly from sight again. The
arrival proved to be Clem, but Jim didn’t take the paper out again.
He washed and went back to the room for his cap and was soon on his
way to Lawrence Hall and supper. In other times he and Clem had always
gone together, but now they carefully avoided doing that. Sometimes the
avoidance resulted in quite embarrassing situations; as when, a night
or so before, Clem had started off first only to stop in the lower
corridor to talk to an acquaintance and Jim had come down just as Clem
and the other chap were parting. Jim had had to retrace his steps to
the mail-boxes and search for a letter he knew wasn’t there.

At supper he asked a question of Jake Borden, the right end, who sat
beside him. “How do they make up these plays they use, Jake?” Jim
inquired.

“What plays?” asked Jake.

“Any of them. Like that end-around play the second sprung yesterday.”

“Oh, that one’s as old as the hills,” replied Jake contemptuously,
helping himself to a third piece of toast. “So old we weren’t expecting
it. Going to use your butter, Slim?”

Jim pushed it over. “Well, who do you suppose thought of it? And--and
how?”

“Search me! Some one’s always springing new ones. It isn’t hard to make
’em up, but only one in a dozen amount to anything. A play may look
great on a blackboard and not amount to a row of pins when you try it
out against another team.”

“I suppose so. I guess there are lots of them, too.”

“A couple of hundred, probably. Whose apricots are those, Pep?”

“Mine. Want ’em?”

When the dish of stewed fruit had reached Jake and been sampled he
resumed. “I don’t suppose there’s any limit to the different plays that
could be invented. Of course, most of them would be a whole lot like a
whole lot of others, and not many of them would be--er--practicable,
but just consider that you’ve got, say, four backs and two linemen
who can carry the ball and that there are eight holes for them to
go through. There you’ve got forty-eight straight plays right off
the reel. Then you’ve got all sorts of forward-passes, punts, drops
and placements: maybe another twenty-five or thirty. And you haven’t
started on fakes and tricks at all yet! Two hundred? I’ll bet there are
three hundred already! And all over this benighted land Smart Alecks
are sitting up with paper and pencils trying to dope out more. It’s a
fearsome thought, if you ask me.”

“I suppose all the good plays have been used, anyway, by this time,”
reflected Jim.

“Well, I don’t know. No, I don’t believe so. Besides, the Rules
Committee sees to that. Just as soon as there aren’t any more nut
plays to spring on us poor players the Committee changes the rules and
the parlor strategists start all over again. And then there’s this
forward-pass, Slim. That’s got all sorts of possibilities that haven’t
been--what you might call developed yet. Last year folks thought there
wasn’t anything new under the sun and two or three wild western coaches
had brain-storms and showed the eastern guys how they’d been asleep at
the switch. You know, Slim, it takes those western chaps to spring the
new stuff. If it wasn’t for them we fellows back here in the effete
east would still be thinking the criss-cross the absolute knees plush
ultra of trick football!”

“What are you fellows gassing about so earnest-like?” inquired “Tip”
Benning from across the table.

“Football plays,” answered Jake. “I was saying that if it wasn’t for
the fellows out west we’d still be doddering along with the delayed
pass and the good old criss-cross. They’re the guys who give us the new
stuff.”

“How do you get that way?” demanded Billy Frost derisively. “Who
invented the unbalanced line, for instance?”

“Well, who invented the shift? And what about the pass to moving back?
And--”

“All right! What about the concealed pass? I suppose Harvard sent west
for that? And what about Cornell’s--”

“I’ll tell you one play the west did invent,” interrupted Latham, “and
that’s the concealed ball trick! It took an Indian to spring that, and
if Indians aren’t Westerners--”

“Listen! Who was coaching the Indians that year?” demanded Billy Frost.

“How do I know? I wasn’t born, I guess!”

“Well, it was a man named Warner. Maybe you’ve heard of him?”

“I’ve heard of two Warners,” laughed Latham. “One of ’em makes
speedometers.”

“Well, I’ll bet that Indian would never have thought of hiding the ball
under his jersey. It was the coach pulled that one. And, anyway, it was
against the rules.”

“No, sir, it wasn’t! Not then. Anyhow, the Indians won the game with
it!”

“Come to that,” some one else broke in, “Glenn Warner’s a Westerner,
anyway, isn’t he? Didn’t he go to Cornell?”

“What of it?” asked Jake. “Say, where do you think Cornell is?” The
first speaker had to acknowledge that he had confused it with Kenyon,
and while Coach Cade, at the farther end of the long table, was being
appealed to to locate Kenyon College, Jim left the board.

Back in his room he settled down to study that forward-pass play again.
He had told himself, coming back from Lawrence, that there was probably
nothing in it, or, if there was, the play had long since been evolved.
Still, however, Jake Borden had distinctly stated that the forward-pass
still held unthought of possibilities, and so it was barely possible--

Right there his reflections were rudely disturbed by the fact that his
precious diagram was not where he had placed it. Nor was it in any
other pocket. All he could find were the several crumpled sheets of
paper he had thrust from sight before Clem’s arrival. Probably he had
failed to put in safely back in his vest pocket in the lavatory and it
had fallen out. He tore the discarded diagrams into minute pieces and
placed them well at the bottom of the waste-basket. Then he proceeded
to redraw his forward-pass play.

When it was again accomplished he tried to find its weak points. He
made certain by repeated reference to the rules book, now pretty
well worn and parting from its covers, that he had not violated any
of the twenty-eight mandates, and after that he viewed it from the
enemy’s side. In the end he decided that the play was perfectly legal
and that it was capable of success, but those facts made him doubly
suspicious of its originality, and, after admiring it for some time and
speculating about it and trying to improve it, he crumpled the paper
up and dropped it, too, into the basket. He guessed he was no football
strategist.

On Friday, although the gridiron was still soggy and slippery under a
cloudy sky, the squad held outdoor practice for two full hours. Two
very full hours indeed, Jim thought. With half the first-string players
on the bench, the big team met the second for thirty strenuous minutes
and failed to score in spite of the fact that three coaches bellowed
and thundered, threatened and implored. Twice the first reached the
second team’s ten-yard line and twice it was forced to yield the ball.
Field-goals were not in Mr. Cade’s philosophy this afternoon, and so
that means of scoring was denied. However, even though the second was
time and again given an extra down, it was equally unable to pass its
opponent’s goal-line, and the wearied and somewhat disgruntled first
team players derived some satisfaction. After a five-minute rest a team
of substitutes was run out and the first eleven, somewhat changed, was
sent against it with instructions to use only forward-passes. There
was ten minutes or so of that added insult, during which Jim, without
really trying and without knowing it, somewhat distinguished himself
as the receiving end of several tosses, Kruger, playing right end,
being shifted to the other side of the line at such times and leaving
Jim eligible. It was almost too dark to see the ball when Jim made
his final catch of a long heave toward the side-line that netted a
good eighteen yards to the first, and that play ended the work. In the
evening there was an hour of drill in the gymnasium followed by a brief
quiz by the coach. And then, on Saturday, Mount Millard came charging
down on Alton, with most of her students in the line of march that
wound through town from the station, and when Josh Plant, down to play
right half in place of the absent Billy Frost, glimpsed the team as it
romped away from the gymnasium he turned strickenly to Steve Whittier
and grasped his hand.

“Tell them,” he said tremulously, “that I died game, fighting against
tremendous odds!”



CHAPTER XVII

ALTON MEETS WITH DISASTER


The Gray-and-Gold presented a line-up that afternoon that lacked the
names of four of its best players. Smith was at right guard in place of
Captain Gus Fingal, Mulford played left tackle in place of Roice, Plant
substituted Frost at right half and Barnhart ran the team. It was still
a moot question whether Kinsey or Latham was first-choice quarter-back,
but Barnhart was undeniably third-choice, and to-day, in the absence
of both the others, he was faced by a stiff proposition. As Josh Plant
had intimated, the visitors were a fine, sturdy looking lot, and they
outsized Alton both in the line and the backfield. That they would
score was a foregone conclusion. Whether Alton would score, too, was
problematic. Watching the visitors perform during the brief warming-up
session, many Alton partisans were flat-footed in the assertion that
Coach Cade had erred in weakening his team as he had.

Before the first half was well along it had become evident that nothing
save a miracle could save the home team from defeat. And miracles,
as we all know, as often as they are longed for, seldom happen on
the football field. Mount Millard found a soft place in the Alton
line early in the game and pounded Smith for repeated gains. Varying
attacks at right guard with off-tackle plays, the visitors rushed from
their own thirty-five-yard line to Alton’s twenty-eight. There Cooper
was sent in for Smith and two tries at the new incumbent gained but
four yards and Mount Millard shot a forward-pass to the twelve yards.
Levering was caught napping and Whittier reached the receiver too late
to spoil the catch. Steve did the next best thing, however, and threw
the enemy hard on the ten-yard line. Mount Millard wasted a down in
an attempt to carry the ball out-of-bounds, missing by inches. Faking
a similar attempt, she got three outside of tackle on the other side
and landed the ball on the seven yards. Here an off-side penalty put
her back to the twelve and she faked a try-at-goal that turned out
to be a plunge inside tackle. Mulford was put out neatly and a Mount
Millard back crashed through to the five-yard line. Scorning a fairly
certain three points, the enemy tried a complicated cross-buck which,
since the play had all the ear-marks of a forward-pass, nearly won her
a touchdown. It failed, though, by a half-yard and Whittier punted on
first down from behind his goal. Catching on Alton’s thirty-eight,
the visitors started a second advance but lost the ball near the
twenty-five just before the quarter ended.

At the resumption of hostilities Alton tried hard to get her attack
going, but twice the enemy broke through and stopped the runner for
a loss, and after an end-run had been spilled for a two-yard gain
Whittier booted the ball. A fumble by the Mount Millard quarter was
recovered for a ten-yard loss and the enemy put the ball in play on
her thirty. She made it first down on her forty-three and crossed the
middle of the field in two plays by her full-back. Her next attempt was
stopped, however, and, with one to go, she tried a long forward-pass
that was intercepted by Tennyson. The Alton full-back fought his way
for eight yards before he was thrown. A moment later it was Tennyson
who found a hole to his liking on the left of the Mount Millard line
and plunged through for seven yards more. A second attempt by the same
player failed to gain and it was Plant who made it first down. Two
slams at the line netted but three yards and Whittier tossed across the
right of the line to Levering who, although pulled to earth promptly,
secured all but a few feet of the needed distance. Tennyson piled over
the center for the rest. But what looked like an Alton invasion stopped
on the enemy’s thirty-seven and Whittier punted. Those kicks from close
behind the line found Mount Millard unprepared for a while, and on
this occasion the quarter again fumbled. A team-mate saved the day,
though, and reeled off twelve yards through a crowded field before he
was finally run out. After that the play hovered about the middle of
the field until, just before the end of the half, the Mount Millard
left half got away inside Sawyer, at right tackle, and zigzagged toward
the Alton goal in a breath-taking fashion for some thirty yards. It was
Whittier who finally pulled him down near the twenty.

This was Mount Millard’s second chance to score, and now she had no
intention of being denied. Really exceptional football was played by
the visitors then, and the Alton line broke time and again before
desperate attacks. The Mount Millard full-back was the star of that
skirmish, making gains of four and five and six yards at a time. The
right of the Alton line was weakened by the absence of Captain Fingal,
just as Mount Millard had probably surmised it would be, and it was at
the right that most of the gains were made. Alton stiffened on her four
yards and gave grudgingly, but the enemy finally piled across, beating
the whistle by a matter of seconds only. An easy goal followed, and
Alton retired from the field with seven points scored against her.

Jim had his chance when the third quarter started, and, while he
played a steadier game than had Sawyer, Mount Millard still found the
Alton right side vulnerable when a short gain was needed. Cooper,
playing in Captain Gus’s position, proved no better than Smith, and
when, toward the close of the period, he began to show the effects of
the attention given him by the enemy backs he was taken out and Smith
was reinstated. The Alton rooters expected that their team would show
some of the new plays that had been drilled into it during the past
fortnight and momentarily looked for Whittier or Plant to get clear and
put the game on an even basis. But the few plays didn’t materialize.
Save for the new formation, which had its defamers on the Alton stand,
the Gray-and-Gold showed nothing it had not shown before during the
season. Even the nine forward-passes attempted in the course of the
contest lacked novelty, and the running plays which Alton was supposed
to have been perfecting were not exhibited. Alton was handicapped
by the lack of a really first-class quarter, for Barnhart, while a
hard-working, snappy youth, lacked experience sadly. His choice of
plays were frequently more than questionable and he seemed unable to
inspire his team. Yet in the final period he came near to atoning for
all shortcomings when he shot out of what seemed an inextricable tangle
of Alton backs and ends and skirted the enemy’s wing for sixty-two
yards. It was the Mount Millard quarter who brought him down on the
seventeen yards just when the shouting Alton rooters were visioning
a touchdown. One unlucky stumble spelled Barnhart’s doom and Alton’s
defeat. Had he not stumbled and momentarily lost his stride just before
the enemy quarter sprang for him he would undoubtedly have gone on over
the line, for Whittier was protecting him in the rear from the foremost
of the Mount Millard pursuers. On such small things may Victory hinge!

Barnhart called for a smash at the left that sent Tennyson over the
side-line and when the ball had been walked in he sent Whittier sliding
off tackle at the right for six yards, and the Alton stand whooped it
up deliriously. But when Steve went back to kicking position as the
ball was snapped the enemy was not fooled and Tennyson’s dash around
the right was nipped for a two-yard loss. Barnhart and Whittier, the
latter captain pro tem, held a consultation then. The fourth period was
young and there was still time to score again if the present venture
failed. Barnhart wanted the three points a field-goal would bring, but
Steve was firm for everything or nothing and Steve’s word carried.
So Steve went back to drop-kicking position, and Cheswick passed the
ball to him. It looked as though Jake Borden, well over to the left
and sidling across the goal-line, was well uncovered, yet between the
time that Steve shot the ball away to him and the instant it arrived a
Mount Millard man dropped from the sky, or so it seemed, and smote the
pigskin fairly out of Borden’s hands.

That ended Alton’s threat. For the rest of the game the enemy played
it safe, punting and punting again while the Gray-and-Gold sought
desperately to again reach scoring distance. Toward the end play slowed
up sadly for Alton, Barnhart seemingly at a loss and confusing his
signals more than once. Cheswick gave way to Tip Benning and Levering
to Tate in the line. Fillmore took Tennyson’s place and Adams and
Ness became the halfs. But even fresh men couldn’t stave off defeat,
and finally the game came to an end with the home team fairly at a
stand-still on her forty-five.

That evening Alton, saddened by the defeat, took second thought.
Reference to Mount Millard’s record for the season somewhat eased
the pain, for the big team had six victories to its credit, four of
them against most worthy adversaries. Consequently, it was fair to
assume that Alton, deprived as she had been of her captain and best
quarter-backs, to say nothing of the other absentees, had done not
so badly after all. Of course a defeat was a defeat, but it need not
necessarily be a disgrace, and by Sunday Alton as a whole had reached
the cheering decision that her team had performed very creditably. In
support of this contention it was rumored that Johnny Cade had shown
signs of satisfaction both during and subsequent to the battle. This,
however, was only hearsay. In any event, Alton was, it was universally
acknowledged, to be congratulated on one thing. She had gone through
the Mount Millard game without once showing the hand she was holding
for Kenly. Not a single new play had been used. Even the line shifts
had been no different. To be sure, Coach Cade had shown the half-dozen
Kenly scouts who had openly invaded the Mount Millard stands his new
backfield formation, but since he had used it as the basis for only
the most ordinary, time-honored plays it was held to be doubtful that
the enemy observers would derive much profit from seeing it. Rather
oddly--not so oddly, either, if you know human nature--those who now
expressed the most pleasure over the withholding of new plays were
those who had during the game most vigorously denounced Coach Cade for
not using them.

Jim derived little satisfaction from his playing in the Mount
Millard contest. He could, he decided, boast of a cut cheek and two
fingers of his left hand bandaged together, but of little else. In
retrospect it seemed to Jim that he had played like a loon. He had
missed interference more often than he cared to think of, he had twice
allowed the big Mount Millard guard, who faced him on offense, to get
under him and spill him on his face and he had several times failed
to open the hole he was expected to. Jim felt extremely depressed
whenever he reviewed his activities of that afternoon, failing to take
into account, unlike one or two of his team-mates, the fact that Mount
Millard had presented a far better opposition than Alton had hitherto
experienced.

It rained on Sunday; one of those desultory, half-hearted rains that
seem always on the point of letting up, and don’t; and Jim’s spirits
became as gloomy as the view from the windows of Number 15. He told
himself that it would have been a lot better if he had stuck to the
decision he had made last fall and kept firmly away from football. The
first rift in the clouds didn’t appear until Monday morning. Then the
glint of sunshine that peered through wasn’t very bright. When Jim
looked in the letter-box on his way to breakfast he found a letter
postmarked at Norwalk. It was a brief and frequently misspelled missive
from Webb Todd from which fell a soiled and flabby two-dollar bill.
Webb reported that he was working, though the wages weren’t much--Jim
thought four dollars and a half a day quite fabulous!--and that he was
well and hoped this would find Jimmy the same, and he was sending two
dollars. There was more, but this was the gist of it. It was enough
to cheer Jim up a little, for he had a genuine affection for Webb, and
life didn’t look quite so dark afterwards.

Practice was light that Monday afternoon and there was no visit from
the second. The only hostilities that developed were between the first
team and the substitutes, and they lasted only ten minutes and were
used by the coaches to illustrate the mistakes made on Saturday. On
the bench it was confidentially noised that Gus and the others who
had gone over to Lakeville Saturday had returned primed with all
sorts of invaluable information, and strong in the belief that Kenly
had something big up her sleeve that wouldn’t slip into sight before
the big game. Kenly, it seemed, had toyed with her opponent, using
two full teams in the process of running up a 41 to 0 score, and had
showed nothing she didn’t want to. What information the Alton scouts
had brought back was mainly concerned with the individual performances
of the Kenly players, although certain other features had not escaped
their eyes. The general verdict to-day was to the effect that “Kenly
has a strong team, all right, but we can lick ’em!”

The usual evening session in the gymnasium came off as usual at
seven-thirty, and Coach Cade, chalk in hand, drew diagrams on the
blackboard and explained them, after which the plays were walked off.
Some of the plays were fairly complicated, and to-night the class
seemed duller than usual. Perhaps for that reason Mr. Cade shortened
the session. Having, however, released them, he called them back in the
next breath.

“Just a minute, fellows!”

The exodus halted short of the doors. Mr. Cade was holding a sheet of
paper up.

“Does this belong to any one here?” he asked.

Some of the nearer fellows retraced their steps for a closer view,
while a voice from further away asked: “What is it, Mr. Cade?”

“Well, it’s a sheet of paper,” was the answer. “It was found somewhere,
in one of the dormitories, I think, and handed to me. It has a football
play on one side, done in pencil, and--”

Laughter met that announcement. Mr. Cade smiled, too, but he went on
to add: “I understand your amusement, but it happens that this play
strikes me as rather ingenious and novel. Certainly, I don’t remember
ever having seen it in use. That’s why I want to find the fellow who
drew it. I’d like to ask him where he found it.”

By this time most of the squad had clustered around, but no one laid
claim to the paper. There was a good deal of laughter and speculation,
but in the end the coach refolded the sheet and placed it back in his
pocket and the fellows crowded out, bandying joking explanations, such
as that the thing had been “planted” by the enemy. Mr. Cade left the
floor some moments after the players, accompanied by Lowell Woodruff.
They walked together as far as the corner of Borden Hall, and there
Lowell turned off along the walk and the coach started across the
campus on a bee-line for the main gate. Footfalls made scarcely any
sound on the turf and consequently the coach gave a start of surprise
when a voice called to him from hardly more than a yard behind. He
wheeled quickly and found a tall figure at his elbow.

“Mr. Cade, that piece of paper was mine. I lost it somewhere two or
three days ago.”

“Oh, it’s Todd! Yours, you say? Well, why didn’t you claim it, Todd?”

Jim hesitated an instant. “Well, sir, you see I thought those fellows
would rag me if they knew.”

Mr. Cade laughed. “I see,” he said. “Well, where did you get hold of
this idea, Todd?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Don’t know? What do you mean by that? You got it somewhere, of course.
Did you find it in a book or in a paper? Ever seen it used?”

“No, sir, what I mean is--well, I just _thought_ of it.”

“Made it up yourself, you mean? Are you sure of that?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve never seen any of those plays in books, Mr. Cade, and
I haven’t seen many games, either. Maybe it ain’t new, of course. I--I
was just sort of amusing myself.”

“No, the chances are that it isn’t new. Mighty few plays are. But it’s
new to me, Todd, and it might be new to--” He broke off. Then: “Are you
going to be busy this evening?” he asked.

“Not all evening,” answered Jim. “I’ve got about an hour’s studying to
do, but after that--”

“It’s a little after eight. Can you drop over and see me about nine or
a few minutes later? You know where I live?”

“Yes, sir, I know. I’ll come.”

“Good enough. I’d like to talk to you about this. And, if you don’t
mind, I’ll keep it until I see you.”

“Yes, sir.”

Jim watched the dark form of the coach vanish into the gloom of
the trees and then turned and made his way back to Haylow. He felt
rather excited, rather elated. Suppose-- No, he wouldn’t suppose
anything--yet! Probably it was all just nothing at all. Maybe Mr. Cade
hadn’t really looked at the diagram yet. Maybe--

That and a few more “maybes” brought Jim to Number 15 and the sight
of Clem studying at the table. He wished he could tell Clem about the
momentous happening. But he couldn’t. And he mustn’t think about it
any more now. There was Latin to be dug into. Very determinedly he
seated himself opposite the absorbed Clem and drew his books toward
him.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE REVERSE PASS


Mr. Cade answered Jim’s ring and led the way into the big, comfortable
sitting-room, where, observing no appropriate accommodation for
caps, Jim disposed of his own by putting it in his pocket. Then he
took a chair close to the big round table that held a huge lamp,
magazines and books and ash-trays and battered pipes and a strange but
interesting litter of other things, and Mr. Cade dropped back into his
leather arm-chair, took up the diagram and studied it for a moment in
silence. During the moment Jim looked around him, felt the somewhat
out-at-elbows hominess of the room and relaxed against the frayed
cushions behind him.

“As I make out this reverse pass, Todd,” said the coach, “it’s a good
scoring play under certain conditions--_if_ it proves practical. Its
weakness lies in the fact that three passes are involved. Every pass
depends primarily for its success on two players, the man who throws
and the man who receives. If either one fails the pass fails. This play
consequently offers a bigger chance for failure than the play calling
for two passes. On the other hand its principal feature, which is that
of deception, seems to me to justify the added risk. Now, suppose you
explain it to me, Todd.”

“Explain it?” faltered Jim.

“Yes, I’d like to get your version of it. It’s your idea, and I want
to learn just what that idea is. What I make of this sketch may not be
what you had in mind.”

“Well,” began Jim, leaning forward to refresh his memory from the
diagram in the other’s hand, “it uses the regular back-field formation.”

“Yes, so I see, but what about the line? You can’t see this from there,
can you? Suppose you bring your chair nearer.”

“I’ll just sort of draw it over,” said Jim. He looked about for paper
and, seeing none, thrust a hand into the inner pocket of his jacket.

“What do you want? Paper? Wait, there’s some here somewhere.” Mr. Cade
started to rise but Jim had found what he was after. He always carried
three or four old letters or similar documents and now he selected one
and pulled out his fountain pen.

“This will do, sir,” he said. “Maybe if I can see that plan a minute--”
Mr. Cade handed it to him and he made a hurried copy of it on the
back of a folded letter. Then he began again, clearing his throat
portentously. “You move your right guard and tackle to the other side,
sir, and bring your left end over. That gives you two ends on the right
of your line.” Mr. Cade nodded thoughtfully. “Your left half-back--or
whoever stands behind the center--gets the ball on a direct pass and--
Hold on, though, I forgot. First, this fellow here--”

“Let’s call them by name, Todd. Here’s Kinsey at the left, here’s Frost
at the right, this is Tennyson behind Frost, and this is Whittier
directly back of the center. All right. Now you were going to say that
Tennyson--what?”

“He starts before the ball, sir, running to the left. That--that’s all
right, isn’t it?”

“Absolutely, as long as he runs toward his goal-line as well as to the
left. That is, a back may be moving when the ball is put in play so
long as he is taking a course which at some time or other would cause
him to intersect an extension of his own goal-line. Not very lucid, but
go on.”

“Well, he runs to the left, passing behind Whittier and going over
here.”

“Where is ‘over here,’ Todd?”

“I don’t know exactly, sir. I suppose about twelve yards back of the
scrimmage line and maybe about five yards outside the end.” He looked
questioningly across and the coach nodded again.

“Something that can be best determined by experiment, I fancy. Then
what?”

“Center passes to Whittier and Whittier holds the ball as if to throw
it, but he goes back and to the left until he gets here, about half-way
between where he was and where Tennyson is. Then he makes a short pass,
a sort of a toss--”

“Which must be on-side,” interpolated the coach.

“Yes, sir, not a forward-pass. He tosses the ball to Tennyson. I forgot
to say, though, that he ought to be always facing to the left after he
gets the ball from center, sort of making like he means to pass to the
left across the end of the line.”

“Why?” demanded Mr. Cade.

“So as to make the other fellows, the other team, move that way. You
see, sir, the idea is to draw the other players to their right.”

“I see, but if Whittier emphasizes the intention to throw to his left,
won’t the opponents argue that his real intention is a heave in the
other direction?”

Jim studied a moment. “Well, maybe they would, sir,” he said finally.
“Maybe he’d better not do that.”

“I don’t think he should overdo it, anyway, Todd. He might defeat
his own ends and make the opposing backs cover the left side of
their territory. Anyway, the real deception comes when he passes to
Tennyson. That makes it look like an end-run for the moment. Now go on.”

“Well, then, Tennyson passes to the right, just about over the center
of the line, to the right end.”

Mr. Cade frowned over the diagram in his hand. “How does that end get
into position, Todd?”

“He blocks the opposing end until Whittier has the ball and has started
back with it. Then he lets the end through and goes on down about ten
yards and pretty well over toward the side.”

“Question is whether Frost couldn’t do that part better, Todd. You’re
counting on the opposing backs swinging to their right and not coming
around our right end, but I don’t believe you can do that. Wouldn’t the
end be in better position than Frost to put out a back coming around?
But never mind that for the moment. What’s Kinsey’s duty?”

“I thought he’d block off the outside back on our left until Tennyson
made the throw. Then Whittier, after he has passed to Tennyson, guards
him on the inside in case one of the other side gets through. And I’d
figured it that the right end would just block long enough to keep the
opposing end, or, maybe, a tackle, from spoiling the play and then he’d
go down for the catch. He’d sort of take it easy, too, like the play
wasn’t on his side and he was out of it. Then Frost there would take
care of a back in case one tried to slip around that side.”

“Sounds fairly reasonable, too,” mused the coach. “One thing, though,
won’t do, Todd. You’ve got all your heavy men on the left of center and
both ends on the right. Now ends mean speed, and when the opponents see
two ends on one side they’re going to smell a mouse. They’re going to
suspect the play, whatever it is, is coming on that side, and they’re
going to stick around a while. Of course you need the strong side of
the line in front of the play, but perhaps you don’t need all the
strength you’ve put there. You could leave a tackle and end on the
right, or even a guard and end, I fancy, which wouldn’t cause so much
suspicion on the part of the enemy. Or--” Mr. Cade stopped, thrust out
a lower lip and lifted a speculative glance to Jim. “Or, much better
yet, Todd, you could simply move your end to the other side.”

“Then who would take the pass, sir? You mean let Frost get it?”

“Not necessarily. The last man on that side of the line would be
eligible.”

“Well, but--but you’ve got to have a fellow who can catch forward-passes,
Mr. Cade,” said Jim earnestly. “That’s a long pass, nearly forty-five
yards, maybe, and it would need a mighty good fellow to catch it. That’s
why I thought it ought to be Jake Borden.”

“Yes, Borden’s pretty good,” agreed the coach. “But that’s another part
that can be decided later. The first thing we’ve got to do is try this
out in actual play and see whether it goes the way it looks on paper.
It ought to, but you can’t tell. If it ever did get pulled off just
right in a game, Todd, it would be a whaling ground-gainer. The start
of this play ought to draw the whole opposing team to our left, and
once there they’d never get back again to the other side of the field
to prevent a catch. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if the man who
received that ball found a clear path to the goal-line. In any case
he’d be certain of ten yards, even if he didn’t stir after the catch.
By Jingo, Todd, I like the thing, I honestly do!”

“I wish it would go like I--like it looks like--” Jim got tangled
there, and before he could get straightened out and go on Mr. Cade was
speaking again.

“Of course the play has its limitation, Todd. As, for instance, it
couldn’t be used if the ball was very close to either side-line. Wait,
though! That’s wrong. It could be pulled off all right pretty close to
the right side of the field, couldn’t it? Todd, I’m going to sit up
with this thing to-night and figure it out!” He was staring at the
diagram again. Then: “Thunder, here’s another bad feature! Look here,
Todd. About the time when Tennyson gets set to make that forty or
forty-five yard heave he’s going to have in the neighborhood of sixteen
men dodging around between him and the receiver. Well, that means that
it’s going to be mighty hard for him to sight his man. Of course he can
throw the ball to a certain specified spot across the field, trusting
Borden or some one to be there-- That reminds me.” Mr. Cade added
another memorandum to those he had already jotted on the side of the
paper he held. “It might be possible to make this a two-man pass. How
about Frost? I wonder if we could fix it so as to put him over there
with Borden in time to make the catch or to interfere.”

Jim studied his plan and looked dubious. “I don’t believe so, sir.
Besides, wouldn’t it be sort of a give-away if two fellows went over
there? One might look like an accident, but two--”

“I fancy you’re right. Well, we’ll see.” Mr. Cade laid the diagram
aside and picked up his pipe. “I wish you’d tell me something, Todd,”
he said. “You started out like a comer and I had great hopes of you.
You went finely until a week or so ago, two weeks, perhaps; then you
laid down on us. What’s the matter?”

“I--I don’t know, Mr. Cade,” answered Jim. “I guess there isn’t
anything the matter. I mean I don’t know why I can’t seem to play like
I used to.”

“Lost interest?”

Jim hesitated. “N-no, sir, not exactly.”

“That means you have. Why? Feeling all right?”

“Yes, sir, fine.”

“Anything worrying you?”

Jim started to shake his head, but stopped, his eyes falling before the
coach’s steady look. For the first time he realized what his trouble
was. After a moment he answered: “Maybe, sir, a little.”

“That’s it then. Well, I won’t ask you what it is that’s bothering you,
Todd. It’s none of my business. But I am going to ask you to put it out
of your mind, whatever it is, for the next fortnight. I can use you,
my boy, if you’ll let me. As long ago as the fourth or fifth day of
the season I assigned you a distinct and important place in the scheme
of winning the Kenly game. I didn’t take you into my confidence for a
very good reason. You had a lot to learn about the game, about the very
beginning of football, and I didn’t want you to get it into your head
that you were a specialist and neglect the essentials. The only kind of
a specialist I want around me is the man who knows every department of
the game and then can do one thing better than any one else. That’s
why I’ve let you go your own gait, in a way, and that’s why I’m not
telling you even now what’s been in my mind. For that matter, I haven’t
told any one. Just now it doesn’t look as though I’d have to, Todd.
But if you can just manage to snap out of the doldrums and get back to
where you were a week or ten days back, why, that’ll be different. Just
show me that you’re on your toes again, keen and anxious and chock-full
of fight and I’ll show you how you can help me and the team and the
School to a victory a week from next Saturday. Now do you think you can
do that, Todd?”

“I’ll try awful hard, sir,” answered Jim earnestly. “I guess if I knew
that--that it really mattered, Mr. Cade, I could do a heap better.”

“Matters! Great Scott, of course it matters! You ought to know that
without being told, Todd. The fact that you were kept on the squad when
twenty or thirty other chaps, some of whom were showing more football
than you were, were let go should have proved to you that you were
valuable; or, anyway, that we thought you valuable. Every man on the
squad, Todd, is supposed to do his level best, his very utmost, every
minute of every day while the season lasts. He mustn’t expect the coach
to pat him on the back or thank him after every practice, my boy. You
went bad on us last year, you know, and I’d have had a very good
excuse for keeping you out of the squad this fall if I’d wanted one.
Now it looks as though you were working yourself into the same attitude
of mind again, Todd. It’s all wrong, though. When we pick a man out of
sixty or seventy others we do it not only because he shows football
ability--football ability alone never won a game--but because we say
to ourselves, ‘There’s a man who has the right stuff in him: loyalty,
obedience, courage, determination, in short, the qualities that win
battles whether in war or in football.’ Do you get the idea, Todd?”

“Yes, sir.” Jim looked troubled. “I’m sorry, but no one ever said it
was like that. You see, Mr. Cade, I never saw much football till last
fall, and I never knew much about--about schools and how fellows feel
about them. Maybe I ain’t making myself clear--”

“I understand, my boy. Well, don’t you feel somewhat about this
school, your school, as you’ve discovered that other chaps feel? You
understand, don’t you, why a fellow will work and drudge and take hard
knocks for two long months with no hope of glory, no expectation of
getting into the limelight, as those fellows on the second team are
doing?”

“Yes, sir, I understand that. Only--”

“Only what?”

Jim smiled apologetically. “It never seemed that anything I could do
would--would make much difference, sir. I just ain’t much of a hero, I
guess.”

“Well, you’ve got the wrong slant, Todd. Heroes don’t all win the
Croix de Guerre. A lot of them just eat mud and never get their names
on a citation. Modesty is all right, too, Todd, but too much of it is
worse than too little sometimes. Perhaps what you need is a little
praise.” He leaned forward and laid a hand on Jim’s knee. “So I’ll tell
you this, and you can believe every word of it. You’re a natural-born
football player, Todd. If you were going to be here one more year I’d
turn you into as pretty a tackle as this school ever saw; and I’m not
forgetting men like Martin Proctor, either. Even now, as inexperienced
as you are, I’d back you against a lot of the fellows who have played
your position on Alton Field this fall. Now does that help any?”

Jim shook his head, supremely embarrassed. “I don’t know, Mr. Cade. If
you say so I guess I’ve got to believe it, but, gee, I ain’t--I can’t--”

Mr. Cade slapped the knee under his hand and sat back with a laugh.
“Todd, you’re hopeless,” he said. “You’ve got a bad case of ingrowing
modesty; what the psychologists call an inferiority complex, I suppose.
But never mind. You start in to-morrow and show me that you mean
business, and about the middle of the week I’ll tell you what I want
you to do to help win the Kenly game. The best thing about it, too, is
that you can do it--if you will.”

“I’ll try mighty hard-- Gee, that’s ten o’clock.” At sound of the
strokes Jim jumped to his feet in dismay. “I’ll get the dickens for
being out of hall!”

“Perhaps I can fix that. Who’s in charge of your hall?”

“Mr. Tarbot.”

The coach rummaged about the table and finally uncovered a writing pad.
When the four lines were finished he tore off the sheet and handed it
to Jim. “I fancy that will pacify him,” he said.

“Dear Mr. Tarbot: (Jim read) This is my fault. Todd has been detained
by me at my room on a matter concerning the football team. _Inter arma
silent leges!_ Cordially, John Cade.” Jim grinned as he folded the
paper once and thrust it into a pocket.

“Thank you, sir,” he said gratefully. “I guess that will fix him.”

“I hope so. Thanks for coming over, Todd, and-- Wait just a minute.
Stand where you are, please, and put your hand up. Away up. That’s it.
Fine!” Mr. Cade stared across the room a moment while Jim, perplexed,
stood by the door with one hand--that, as it chanced, of which two
fingers were bound with an already soiled white bandage--extended
almost to the ceiling. Then: “All right, Todd. Much obliged. Good
night!”

“Now,” Jim asked himself as he let himself out and took long strides
across Academy street, “I wonder what that was for!”

Mr. Tarbot, looking as Jim thought a whole lot like a spider awaiting
the unsuspecting fly, sat in view of the corridor as Jim entered the
dormitory.

“Ah, Todd,” he began blandly. But Jim presented his note before the
instructor got further. Mr. Tarbot read it, smiled faintly and laid it
aside. “A football coach who quotes Latin so aptly, Todd, is not to be
refused. Good night.”

“Good night, sir. Thanks.”

“Ah, just a moment. Was the mystery of the stranger in the cloth cap
ever fathomed, Todd?”

“Mystery, sir?”

“Ah, I see you are not in your room-mate’s confidence, so never mind.
Possibly I have been indiscreet. Pay no heed to my maudlin mutterings,
Todd. Good night to you.”

“Gee,” reflected Jim as he went on upstairs, “every one’s acting sort
of crazy to-night!”

Clem was in bed, although he had left the light burning for Jim, and he
raised an inquiring, even slightly anxious, face above the clothes as
the latter entered. “Did he nab you?” he asked.

Jim nodded. “Mr. Cade gave me a note for him, though, and he didn’t say
a word.”

Clem’s face disappeared again. “Lucky for you,” he muttered from under
the sheet. “Good night.”



CHAPTER XIX

FULL-BACK TO RIGHT TACKLE


Returning to Number 15 Tuesday to look over his mathematics before an
eleven o’clock recitation, Jim found Clem reading a letter from Martin
Gray. Jim knew that the letter was from Mart because the envelope of
thin, ash-hued paper, adorned with a foreign stamp, lay face-up on
the table. Mart had written to Clem several times since school had
commenced and each letter had reported improvement. When Clem finished
the present missive he folded it and returned it to the envelope rather
thoughtfully. Then he raised his eyes and regarded Jim, who had taken
possession of the window-seat, for a long moment before he finally
announced: “Had a letter from Mart.”

“How is he?” asked Jim.

“Fine, and having a wonderful time. They’re at some place outside
Florence. They’ve taken a place called the Palazzo Something-or-Other
which Mart says is a stone morgue entirely surrounded by flowers. He’s
playing tennis a lot, so I think he must be a good deal better.”

“I’m awfully glad,” said Jim.

“Yes, so am I.” Clem paused in the manner of one who has not finished,
and after a moment’s silence he added: “He writes that he thinks now he
will be able to come back to school after Christmas.”

Jim raised his eyes from the book he held and looked out of the window.
“Well, that’s certainly fine news,” he commented. “Maybe he can make up
enough to graduate next spring.”

“He seems to think so,” agreed Clem.

“Well, as soon as you know for certain, Clem, let me know and I’ll fix
to get out.”

“No need of that. I don’t think he’d expect you to. Don’t see how he
could.”

“It would be only fair, though. I’d rather, Clem.”

Clem flushed slightly and shrugged. “Oh, if you feel that way,” he said
stiffly. “But I dare say he and I could get into Lykes, and so you
wouldn’t have to budge.”

Jim considered that placidly. “Mean I’d stay here and get a room-mate?”

“Yes, or you could keep the room alone, unless Faculty put some one in
with you.”

“Would I have to pay for the whole room if I was alone?”

“No, of course not. But I fancy they’d find some one to dump in on you.
Trust them for that! Well, there’s nothing sure about it yet. Maybe
you’ll have to put up with me for the rest of the year.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” replied the other mildly.

Clem frowned slightly, placed Mart’s letter in his pocket and went
out, closing the door behind him with a soft violence that to a close
observer might have suggested disapproval if not indignation.

At about the same time Lowell Woodruff and Coach Cade were in
consultation in the latter’s room regarding the accommodations for the
football squad at the hotel in Lakeville. The team and substitutes
were to have luncheon at the hotel and were to dress there before and
after the game, and the price submitted by the hotel had brought the
alarmed manager to Mr. Cade post-haste. “Of course,” Lowell was saying
sarcastically, “the poor fish misunderstood my letter. He’s laboring
under the delusion that I asked a price on a week’s accommodations for
the whole thirty-five.”

Mr. Cade chuckled. “It does sound so, doesn’t it? But I suppose, as
the letter says, prices have risen since two years back. I’d tell him
what a small appetite you have and ask him to knock off about fifteen
dollars.”

Lowell grinned, but became serious again in the instant. “Oh, well,
if we had plenty of money in the old sock, it wouldn’t matter a whole
lot, but the jolly old treasury is so low you can see the bottom of
it. And, what with fares and getting out to the field, we’ll be closing
the season no better than even.”

“The field,” said Mr. Cade, “is merely a pleasant walk from the hotel,
and I don’t think it would hurt any of the crowd to do it afoot. You
can save ten dollars or so right there.”

“That’s so. Some of the fellows will kick, though. We’ve always ridden
out before, you know.”

“There’ll be no chance of a kick,” returned the coach. “I’ll tell them
I want them to have the exercise. As a matter of hard fact, I think it
will do them good.”

“All right, sir. Then I’ll close with the old robber. See you this
afternoon.”

“By the way, I had a caller last night. That fellow Todd.”

“Todd! Don’t tell me he’s resigned again!”

“No, he followed me after I left you to say that that paper you handed
me was his.”

“The one Squires found? Well, why didn’t he say so when--”

“I asked him that and he said he was afraid the fellows would make fun
of him.”

“And I guess they would have. Is the play really any good, Coach?”

“Tell you more in a day or two, after we’ve tried it out. It looks
promising, though. I sat up with it until after midnight and I think
we’ve got a pretty smooth-running play. By the way, get this back to
Todd, will you? There’s some sort of a letter on the other side. Not
valuable, probably, but he may want it. He left it on the table. I’m
certain to forget it, myself.”

“Yes, sir.” Lowell accepted the folded sheet and dropped it in an
inside pocket. “I’ll see him in math class. That all? Then I’ll beat
it.”

Jim went out for practice that afternoon determined to make good. He
had thought a great deal about what Mr. Cade had said the evening
before and as a result the task ahead of him seemed now vastly more
important and much more worth-while. He had taken the coach’s praise
with a generous pinch of salt, but it had encouraged him nevertheless.
To-day he showed up a great deal better than he had at any time since
his misunderstanding with Clem, and those who played opposite him
on the second team had their hands more than full. Both he and Sam
Tennyson were relieved before the last period of the scrimmage game was
over and sent off behind the north stand by Mr. Cade.

“I want you fellows to take a ball,” said the coach, “and practice some
long passes. Start in at about twenty yards and increase the distance
gradually. I want you, Tennyson, to get the overhand spiral throw down
pat. You know how it should be made. Go ahead and learn to make it.
Take plenty of time and try for accuracy and precision first. Speed and
distance can come later. You, Todd, practice catching. I’ve seen you
make several very good catches of a passed ball. See if you can’t do
still better. Learn to take them high and make them sure. Put in about
twenty minutes of it, but quit before that if your arms get tired. Go
ahead.”

Sam Tennyson, who was a tall and fairly heavy youth with light-brown
hair and a pair of sharp dark eyes, accompanied Jim in silence after he
had obtained a ball. The full-back was a quiet chap at best, and just
now he had less to say than usual. About all he did say as they made
their way around the empty stand was: “Something up, Slim. Johnny’s got
a hunch.”

Wednesday again the pair went through the passing practice and spent
nearly a half-hour at it this time. Tennyson, who had not been called
on before for the trick, progressed more slowly than did Jim. He got
along well enough until he tried to speed the throw. Then the ball’s
flight became erratic and Jim had to run three, four or five yards
out of position to get it. But Tennyson had a long arm and plenty of
strength and, throwing slowly, could make the oval travel a remarkable
distance. The work went on each day, sometimes before scrimmage,
sometimes after. On Friday, since there was only one scrimmage period,
and the first-string players were dismissed a half-hour earlier than
usual, Mr. Cade himself took Jim and Sam Tennyson in charge, leaving
the argument between the substitutes and the second to Mr. Lake and Mr.
Myers. When he had watched two throws he stopped the performance and
coached Sam in holding the ball and in spinning it as it was shot away.
“Now,” he said, “go back another five yards, Todd. What do you make
that distance?”

“About forty, sir.”

“Or forty-five. All right. Now, Tennyson, elbow close to your side,
and don’t forget to whip your fingers under. Just think that you’re
pegging a baseball from the plate to second. It’s the same sort of a
motion: a throw from the ear, as the catchers call it. That’s not bad,
but you went three yards at least to the left. That’s another thing, by
the way. If you must shoot to one side of the receiver, shoot to the
right--your right, not his. But try to land the ball in his hand.”

Presently he walked over and joined Jim. “I think you’d better put
your hand up and signal,” he said. “Better get used to doing it. Don’t
signal, though, until you know that the thrower has the ball and is
looking for you. If you do you advertise to the other team. That’s
it, only stretch your hand just as high as you can. You’ve got a long
arm, Todd, and you might as well make use of it. Remember that the
thrower has to find his target quick. By the way, I see you’ve taken
the bandage off your fingers. Did it bother you in catching?”

“No, sir, but the fingers are all right now.”

“Think you could catch if you had your four fingers bandaged?”

Jim observed the coach doubtfully. It sounded like a joke, but Mr.
Cade’s face was quite serious. “I don’t know, sir,” answered Jim, “but
I guess I could.”

“We’ll try it Monday. That’s the way. Take them high and pull them down
quick. And freeze onto them hard, Todd. Never mind about being too
particular on the throw. I don’t believe you’ll be on that end of it
much. I want you to specialize on catching. You see, I’ve had you in
view all the season as the man who might work in nicely at the other
end of a long pass. You might drop around this evening after nine and
I’ll tell you how I mean to use you a week from to-morrow.”

Saturday’s game with Oak Grove went about as predicted. The opponent
was never dangerous, and this year, while the visitors put up rather
a sterner defense than usual, Alton had no difficulty in scoring two
touchdowns in the first period and one in the third and in keeping
her own goal-line uncrossed. In fact, Oak Grove never had the ball
inside the Gray-and-Gold’s thirty-yard line save in the last quarter
when the Alton team was composed almost entirely of first and second
substitutes. Pep Kinsey, who acted as quarter-back during three
periods, was the individual star for the home team, making some
dazzling run-backs of punted balls and twice scampering around the Oak
Grove end for long gains. Besides that he ran the team smoothly and
fast, getting plays off with a celerity that more than once found the
opponents completely unprepared. Frost made two touchdowns and Sam
Tennyson one, and Steve Whittier kicked two goals. Steve had rather
an off-day in the backfield and yielded his place to Larry Adams when
the last half began. It was in Steve’s absence that Kinsey missed
the try-for-point after that third touchdown. The final score was
consequently 20 to 0.

Nothing new was shown by Alton, although Oak Grove opened her bag of
tricks wide and tried some weird plays in an effort to score in the
fourth period. There was a good deal of punting, with honors fairly
even, and each team tried the passing game, Alton making good four out
of seven attempts and Oak Grove succeeding five times out of fourteen.
Two of Alton’s passes were pulled down by Jim, and only a watchful
defense prevented him from getting away on long runs. He showed an
almost uncanny ability to get into position unnoticed and on each
occasion that the ball was thrown to him he caught unchallenged. Only
alertness and speed on the part of the Oak Grove backs spoiled his
chances of long gains. Jim put himself back on the football map that
afternoon and finally and conclusively ousted Willard Sawyer from the
position of right tackle. This fact was not known to Jim then, but he
may have guessed it. Others did. Jim was a terror on offense and as
solid as a stone wall on defense. He raced his end nip-and-tuck down
the field under punts and was into every play it was possible for
him to reach. In brief, Jim had a big day, and if half a dozen other
Alton men hadn’t played far better than they had played before that
season he might easily have shared the honors with Pep Kinsey. But the
Gray-and-Gold eleven had found its stride and Jim’s work was no better
than that of several others.

In the last period there was a brief scare when Oak Grove, fighting
valiantly and desperately against what was almost a third-string
Alton team, hurling forward-passes of all sorts to all directions,
faking passes to hide off-tackle plays, using criss-crosses of every
conceivable variety, worked her way to Alton’s twenty-seven yards,
where, meeting at last with denial, she was forced to a well-nigh
hopeless try-at-goal from the thirty-six yards. The attempt failed
widely and she had shot her bolt.

That game added more enthusiasm at Alton, and the mass meeting in the
auditorium that evening attained unprecedented heights of emotion.
There were speeches and songs and cheers, and noise and confusion
enough to gladden the heart of the most irrepressible freshman. And
after the adjournment the whole affair was reënacted with only slightly
less enthusiasm in front of Academy Hall, the evening’s program ending
with a large and certainly hilarious parade around the campus and,
finally, to Coach Cade’s residence. Learning at last, after repeated
demands for a speech, that the coach had gone home over Sunday, the
parade disintegrated, its component parts returning to their various
domiciles in small, but far from silent, groups.

On Monday the final week of preparation for the great battle started
with a hard practice for all hands. No one was spared and no one, it
seemed, desired to be. The second earned a broad niche in the local
Hall of Fame that afternoon if only for emerging from the two periods
of fighting without casualties. The first team had found itself and was
there to show the world!



CHAPTER XX

CLEM DELIVERS A LETTER


Tuesday and Wednesday rushed by. Thursday lagged. Friday stood still,
quite as though Time had stopped doing business. Saturday--

Practice had been secret since the Tuesday following the New Falmouth
game. That is to say, patriotic lower class fellows had daily, between
the hours of three and five, patrolled the outskirts of Alton Field,
warning away inquisitive townsfolk and intrusive small boys. Since it
was quite possible to stand on Meadow street and see from a distance
the players moving about on the gridiron, the word secret in relation
to practice was an exaggeration. Also, any resident of senior or
freshman dormitory whose window looked westward could, had he wished,
have solved the most puzzling of the plays in which the Gray-and-Gold
team was seeking to perfect itself. However, protracted occupancy of
dormitory windows overlooking the field was frowned upon during the
latter part of the season, and, on the whole, Coach Cade was well
enough satisfied with the concealment allowed him and his works. Since
the same conditions had prevailed so long as football had been played
at Alton and no precious secret had ever reached the enemy the coach’s
confidence seemed well founded.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw long sessions for the squad, the emphasis
being laid on precision and smoothness. Tuesday evening it was rumored
that the first team had scored four times on the scrub, and the school
found new cause for enthusiasm. Thursday witnessed a let-up in the
work. Individual instruction occupied much of the time. Later there
was a period of formation drill, a long practice for the kickers and,
finally, a short tussle with the second team in which no effort was
made to run up the score. There was, so report had it, much aerial
football that day. Practice was over early and some thirty youths,
unaccustomed to finding themselves foot-loose at half-past four,
wondered what to do with themselves. Of course the usual evening
sessions--“bean-tests” the players called them--were continued right up
to and including Friday.

Friday was, from the football man’s point of view, a day without rime
or reason. Save that the players reported in togs at four o’clock and
trotted around a while in signal drill, what time the rest of the
school looked on and practiced cheers and songs, there was nothing
to do and too much time to do it. The second team made its final
appearance and staged a ten-minute scrimmage with an eleven composed
of its own substitutes and a few first team third-stringers. Then
it performed the sacred rites incident to disbanding, cheered and
was cheered, marched in solemn file around a pile of discarded--and
incidentally worthless--apparel and at last, followed by the audience,
still noisy, cavorted back to the gymnasium.

With nothing to do save await the morrow and what it might bring, Jim,
like most of the other players, felt suddenly let-down. Although not
of a nervous temperament, he found it extremely difficult to sit still
and even more difficult to fix his thoughts on any one subject for
more than a half-minute at a time. Supper was hectic, marked by sudden
outbursts of laughter and equally sudden lapses to silence. Every one
made a great pretense of hunger, but only a few of the veterans ate
normally. Coach Cade seemed more quiet and thoughtful than usual.
At Jim’s end of the long table Lowell Woodruff, ably aided by Billy
Frost, managed to keep things enlivened, but even so Jim was relieved
when he could push back his chair and return to Number 15. Pending the
“bean-test,” he tried to study and failed, tried to write a letter to
Webb Todd and again failed. Perhaps had he been able to find the letter
that Webb had written to him, enclosing the two-dollar bill, he might
have obtained sufficient inspiration, but that letter had mysteriously
disappeared. At seven-thirty he went around to the gymnasium, but even
Coach Cade failed him to some extent, for the Coach had little to
say about plays and a good deal about playing and sent them away at
eight with instructions to keep their minds off football and go to bed
promptly at ten o’clock; advice far easier to give than to act on.

Jim, realizing how futile was the effort to think of anything save
football, got his rules book and began to turn the well-thumbed leaves.
If there was anything contained therein that he didn’t know by heart
and couldn’t have recited almost word for word he failed to find it,
and he was very glad when Clem’s hurried steps sounded in the corridor
and the door flew open before him. Any sort of companionship, even
unharmonious, was welcome to-night.

Clem closed the door behind him and gave a triumphant grunt that
sounded like “_Huh!_” Jim, looking up inquiringly, thought that his
room-mate looked awfully funny. By funny, Jim, of course, meant
strange. Still keeping what amounted to an accusing glare on Jim, Clem
advanced in a peculiarly remorseless manner to his side of the table,
threw one leg over his chair, lowered himself into place and folded his
elbows on the table edge. Then:

“You’re a fine piece of cheese, aren’t you?” he demanded.

There was no insult in the words as Clem said them. On the contrary
they seemed to have an undertone of affection, and Jim was more puzzled
than ever, and found the other’s gaze increasingly disconcerting. The
fact must have shown on his countenance, for Clem went on triumphantly:
“No wonder you look guilty, you--you blamed old fraud!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” grumbled Jim, uncomfortable
from the fact that he knew he was looking guilty in spite of a clear
conscience.

“I’ll soon tell you,” announced Clem. “I went over to Art’s after
supper; Art Landorf, you know. Woodie was there. When I was coming away
he asked me to give you a piece of paper. Said Johnny Cade had given
it to him a week ago to hand to you. Something you’d left at Johnny’s
one night. I asked him what it was and he said he didn’t know, but he
pulled it out of a mess of other truck in a pocket and handed it to me.”

Jim flushed a little. “What was it?” he asked uneasily.

“I guess you know what it was, you poor prune. It was a letter from
that yegg friend of yours, Webb Todd.”

“Oh!” murmured Jim.

“Yes, ‘oh’!” mimicked Clem unfeelingly. “It had some sort of a crazy
cubist drawing on one side and I naturally opened it. Of course when I
saw it was a letter I tried not to read it, but I had to read some of
it because my eyes lighted right on it.” Clem looked so defiant as to
appear almost threatening. Jim nodded.

“That’s all right,” he muttered.

“You bet it’s all right!” Clem was getting truculent. “And now I’m
going to read the whole of it, and you’re going to sit still and listen
to it!” He drew the somewhat soiled rectangular object from his pocket
and shook it challengingly at the other.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” objected Jim weakly.

Clem’s laugh was derisive. “You go to thunder! Anyway, I read the part
that matters, so--” He hesitated and tossed the letter across the
table. Jim picked it up without more than a glance and buried it under
a blue book. “He says there ‘I wasn’t meaning to swipe that money, like
I told you, kid, and I’m sorry I done it. I ain’t a thief--’ and a lot
more guff. Now, then, what about it?”

“Well, _what_ about it?” asked Jim with returning spirit. “I told you,
but you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Yes, I know,” acknowledged Clem somewhat shamefacedly. “Gosh, I
wanted to, Jim, but it looked awfully fishy. And I asked Old Tarbox if
a stranger had been up here that afternoon and he didn’t remember one.
He said he might have got by without his noticing, but it didn’t seem
to me that any one could fail to notice that queer-looking guy! But,
hang it, why didn’t you show me that letter when you got it? Think I’ve
had a jolly time with you treating me like dirt? Why--”

“Isn’t that the way you treated me?” asked Jim, smiling faintly.

“No, sir, I treated you decently! Anyway, I tried to, but you wouldn’t
let me, confound you. Didn’t you intend to show me that letter at all,
Jim?”

Jim shook his head.

“Well,” exclaimed Clem in outraged tones, “then all I can say is that
you’re the doggonedest, meanest, false-pridest--”

“You’re another!” Jim was grinning now, suddenly feeling very warm
and happy, and somewhat foolish. Clem grinned back. Then he laughed
uncertainly.

“You blamed old idiot!” he said affectionately.

Jim blinked. “Guess I was to blame, Clem,” he said reflectively. “Maybe
I’d ought to have made you believe me; licked you until you did
or--or something. But it didn’t seem right you should think I was a
thief, even if it did look like I was, and so I--I got sort of uppity
and--and--”

“Don’t blame you,” growled Clem. “Ought to have punched my head. Wish
you had. I don’t know what made me so rotten mean. Anyhow, I’m mighty
sorry and--and I beg your pardon, old son.”

“Aw, shut up,” said Jim. “Guess we both acted loony. Let’s forget it.”

Clem nodded. “Hope you will. I wouldn’t care to think that you were
holding it in for me, Jim. Funny thing is,” he went on in tones that
held embarrassment, “I don’t know whether I got to thinking you
didn’t--didn’t do it or whether I got to not caring whether you did or
didn’t, but I’d have called quits long ago, two or three days after, I
guess, if you’d given me a chance.”

“Well, as long as you were thinking me a thief--”

“But I could see how most any fellow might make a foozle like that,”
interrupted Clem eagerly. “I said that here was that fellow you’d known
and been fond of nagging you for money, and you not having any, and
there was that money in the suit-case which you knew mighty well I’d
give you if you asked for it--”

“I suppose you’d do it yourself?” inquired Jim innocently.

“Sure! That is--” Then Clem found Jim grinning broadly. “Well, I
might. How do I know? How does any one know what he will do when faced
by--er--by sudden temptation and all that sort of thing?”

“No, you wouldn’t,” answered Jim. “Neither would I. Webb could have
starved. But, just the same, and I think it’s sort of funny, too, I
didn’t think anything about lying! Seems like stealing and lying aren’t
much different, don’t it?”

“Well, yes, but, gosh, a fellow’s got to tell a whopper sometimes to
protect a friend, hasn’t he? And that’s what you did.”

“I guess a lie’s a lie, just the same,” responded Jim regretfully, “and
I didn’t feel right about telling that one to the police captain that
time. Only, I didn’t want Webb to go to jail. Gee, I don’t know!”

“You needn’t have told him you gave the money to Webb, as far as that
goes. They couldn’t have proved it on him if I hadn’t said I’d lost it.”

“Gee, I never thought of that, Clem! But it was all so sort of sudden
that I didn’t have much time to think. Lying comes mighty easy, don’t
it?”

Well, it was just like old times in Number 15 that evening. There was a
lot to be said, things that ought to have been said days and days ago
and things that had been unthought of before, and almost before Jim
knew that it was as late as nine the ten o’clock bell rang. Even after
they were in bed the talk kept on, as:

“Say, Jim, it’s a shame to keep you awake, but--”

“Gee, I ain’t sleepy. I’d rather talk than not.”

“Well, about Janus. You know we were speaking of it a while back.
You’ll join, eh?”

“I don’t know, Clem. I ain’t--I’m not much for society doings. Gee, I
don’t even own a dress-suit!”

“You don’t need a dress-suit, you gump! I’m going to put you through
next week, and there’s an end to it.”

“Well, if you want me to, all right. Father got rid of some timberland
the other day that he’s been trying to sell for three or four years. He
didn’t get quite all he wanted, but he did pretty well. So I guess I
can afford this Janus thing.”

Still later: “Jim, you asleep?”

“Yes. What’ll you have?”

“Listen. About Mart coming back--”

“I know. That’s all right.”

“How do you mean, all right?”

“Why, you fellows can have this room or I’ll find some one else to come
in here. Just as long as I don’t have to pay the whole rent--”

“You make me sick! I never had any notion of going in with Mart. He
doesn’t expect me to. I just said that because you made me mad, you
silly ass!”

“Oh! Well, I didn’t--understand. Still, you mustn’t feel like you’ve
got to turn Mart down, Clem.”

“I don’t. I’m not turning him down because he hasn’t even suggested it.
If you can’t talk sense you’d better go to sleep.”

“All right,” chuckled Jim. “Good night.”

Some time later Clem awoke in the darkness to find groans and
heart-breaking gasps coming from Jim’s bed. After a moment of sleepy
concern Clem went across and shook his chum into consciousness. “Hey,
wake up! What’s the matter, old son? Got the nightmare?”

“Gee!” muttered Jim. “That you, Clem? Was I making a row?”

“Were you! Well, rather! What--”

“Gee, it was awful! Sam threw the ball to me and I was all set for it
when the crazy thing began running around my head in circles and making
a noise like--like an automobile and I couldn’t catch it! Every time
I’d make a grab it would dodge out of the way! And about a hundred
fellows with big white mittens on stood and laughed at me. Gee, it was
fierce!”

“White mittens?” chuckled Clem. “Well, you did have the Willies for
fair! Calm yourself, old son, and nuzzle down again. It must be mighty
close to daylight.”



CHAPTER XXI

ALTON VS. KENLY HALL


The players trundled away from school that Saturday morning at
ten o’clock, cheered to the echo by some three hundred and fifty
football-mad adherents. The rest of the student body left on the
twelve-eight train, to which an extra day-coach had been added. Clem,
sharing a seat with Landorf and Imbrie--Imbrie sat on the arm--beguiled
the first part of the journey with the morning papers. Both the Alton
paper and that published in the near-by city gave a flattering amount
of space to the Alton-Kenly Hall game. Not unnaturally, the home
journal predicted a victory for the Gray-and-Gold. The other favored
Kenly. Some writer signing himself “Sporticus” told his city readers
that he had seen both Alton and Kenly Hall in action and that it would
take a much better prophet than he pretended to be to pick certainly
the winner of to-day’s contest.

“Alton,” he continued, “has a fine-looking team that is well grounded
in the rudiments, plays with unusual speed and has been developed
steadily since the first of the season with the single purpose of
reaching the apex of its power at two o’clock this afternoon. Starting
with a practically green team, Coach ‘Johnny’ Cade has built around
a nucleus of four veterans an aggregation that has shown a lot of
football gumption and a good deal of strength during the last three
games. The Gray-and-Gold looks to be better on attack than on defense,
but the last week may have brought about an improvement in the latter
department, and her line may prove strong enough to stop the efforts
of the Kenly backs. If it can Alton will stand a good chance to cop
the contest, for I like her attack. Rumor credits her with having
developed a nice bunch of running and passing plays that have not, so
far, been shown. Whether she has anything that will prevail against a
defense as experienced and steady as Kenly’s, only developments can
prove. Alton’s center-trio is quite as good as Kenly’s. Cheswick, at
center, combines weight with speed and has shown himself a master at
diagnosing the opponent’s plays. Captain Gus Fingal, right guard, is
playing an even better game than last season when he was a large,
sharp thorn in the side of the enemy. Powers, the other guard, lacks
Fingal’s weight but is remarkably steady. He also has speed. Speed, in
fact, is the outstanding feature of the Gray-and-Gold line from end
to end. At tackles Alton will play Roice and either Sawyer or Todd.
Sawyer has seen more service, but Todd has been coming fast for the
last fortnight and, in spite of lack of weight, looks to have the
call for the right side position. Levering and Borden, ends, have not
shown anything spectacular so far except an ability to move fast, and
they sure do that. In the backfield Alton will start ‘Pep’ Kinsey at
quarter. Kinsey doesn’t look like a quarter-back, but he has held down
the job satisfactorily most of the season and seems to get more out of
his team than his alternate, Latham. Whittier and Frost are two good
half-backs who will have quite a lot to say for themselves. Whittier
is rather more of the defensive back than ‘Billy’ Frost, but he, too,
is capable of gaining if given the ball. Frost is the lad for Kenly to
keep an eye on, for he can hit the line like a five-ton truck and is a
wonder at running. He will also be on the receiving end of some of the
forward heaves that Alton is expected to pull off. The remaining back,
Tennyson, is something of an unknown quantity, since he took the place
of Crumb late in the season when the latter was injured.”

“Sporticus” gave an equal amount of space in his column to an appraisal
of the individual members of the Kenly team and then summed up as
follows: “On season’s performance, then, Kenly ought to win to-day’s
fracas by two scores, but no football solon pins his faith utterly on
performance. So when I predict a verdict for the Cherry-and-Black I
have in mind one important fact that has been fully established, which
is: The team with the power wins. Kenly has the power. She lacks the
speed of her opponent and uses fewer plays. But she has a line that
has proved practically shot-proof, and her attack, while not varied,
has a relentless quality that makes it a ground-gainer. Of course,
surprises may happen and upset the dope. Some of those trick plays that
Alton is believed to have in her duffle-bag may catch Kenly napping. A
forward-pass thrown at the right moment may land over the goal-line.
But every student of the gentle Art of Football knows that where one
game is won by forward-passes or trick runs nine are won by the plain,
old-fashioned, garden-variety of football. That’s why I select Kenly;
reserving an alibi, though, as set forth above.”

“Humph,” said Clem, when he had finished the article, “these newspaper
sport writers are great guys to play it safe. This fellow just
knows that Kenly is going to win--_if_! You’d think from the way he
goes on that Kenly’s line hadn’t been shot more than once already.
‘Invulnerable’ he calls it. What about Lorimer? I suppose she didn’t
get a touchdown against Kenly! And look at last Saturday’s game. Emmons
scored twice, once by a pass from the ten-yard line and once from the
field. If she found Kenly’s line invulnerable how the heck did she get
within scoring distance? ‘Sporticus’ has his signals crossed!”

“Don’t be hard on the poor chaps,” said Imbrie. “They have to fill
their columns somehow, old dear.”

“‘Somehow’ is right,” grumbled Clem.

At two o’clock, when Alton kicked off to Kenly, the sun was shining
brightly and a slight breeze was quartering the field, lending some
advantage to the visiting team. The air held quite a nip, and coat
collars were generally worn turned up. From the player’s standpoint
it was ideal weather, from the spectator’s it was a bit unpleasant on
hands and feet. The cheering, which had been fairly incessant for the
past ten minutes, ceased as Captain Gus stepped forward and booted the
new brown oval high and far.

The Kenly quarter fumbled, but a half-back rescued the ball on his
seventeen yards and ran it back to the twenty. Kenly tested Cheswick
and got one yard. Then she punted to Alton’s thirty-three, the ball
going outside. Frost got two through the center and Tennyson slid
off right tackle for three more. Whittier punted to the opponent’s
twenty-seven and Levering missed a tackle, the catcher advancing seven
yards before he was spilled by Powers. Two tries at the Alton line
netted but five yards and a short pass over the center grounded. Kenly
kicked beautifully against the breeze, the ball falling on Alton’s
seventeen, where Kinsey was thrown hard. Time was called for Alton.
Frost got two through the right of the enemy’s line when play was
resumed and followed it with six more on an off-tackle run. Whittier
tried a run around the left and was stopped for a loss of a yard.
Whittier punted, but Kenly was off-side and it was Alton’s ball on her
twenty-nine. Whittier circled left end on first down and gained two
yards and Tennyson gathered in one more by a plunge at center. Whittier
punted to Kenly’s twenty-six and the Cherry-and-Black quarter ran the
ball back to the forty before he was stopped by Levering.

Kenly got started then and punched the enemy line for short gains,
making it first down on Alton’s forty-eight. Then the Kenly full-back
managed to get free on a wide run and landed the pigskin on the
visitor’s thirty-six, following this with a fierce plunge at Powers
that gave him three more. On the next play Roice was off-side and Kenly
advanced to Alton’s twenty-eight. She made it first down on Alton’s
twenty-five-yard line. A plunge at the left of the visitor’s line was
stopped and a short pass grounded. On a fake-kick play Kenly’s big
full-back gained three off Todd, at right tackle. Kenly’s drop-kicker
retired to the thirty-yard line and, since the ball was directly in
front of goal, a score seemed imminent. But the pass from center was
short and before the kicker could get the ball away the Alton forwards
were through on top of him and the kick was blocked.

Kenly’s left tackle recovered the rolling ball on his thirty-eight,
beating Whittier to it by inches only, and, after she had failed
to gain through Powers, Kenly grounded a pass. A second pass was
intercepted by Frost.

Alton tried to knife Kinsey through but lost a yard, and Tennyson’s
slide off tackle regained the loss and no more. Then Frost slipped off
right tackle for a run of seventeen yards, being finally forced out
on his forty-four. A cross-buck, with Borden carrying, gained four,
Tennyson got two through right guard and Whittier skirted the left end
for six more, making it first down on the enemy’s forty-four. After
three wasted efforts, Whittier punted over Kenly’s goal-line, and the
ball came back to the twenty. Two attempts at the line failed and Kenly
punted on third down to mid-field. An off-side play gave Alton five
yards and in two downs she added four more. Whittier punted to Kenly’s
eleven and the Cherry-and-Black left half was downed in his tracks by
Todd. Kenly lost four yards on an end run, made two off left tackle and
two more through center and then punted to her own forty-one. Frost
was thrown for a loss on an end run and the quarter ended with the ball
in Alton’s possession on the enemy’s forty-three yards.

So far it was still anybody’s game and even the clever “Sporticus,”
whose narrative of the first period I have quoted almost verbatim,
after seeing Kenly’s line pierced more than once, would have hesitated
about making another prediction. Neither team had shown the ability
to gain through the other’s line consistently. Although outweighted,
the Alton forwards had held their own very well against the enemy,
usually getting the jump on their slower opponents with good effect.
The hard-hitting Kenly backs had found the going more difficult than
had been prophesied, while the Alton backs, starting quickly from their
positions well behind their line, had already proved the value of
the new formation. Whittier’s punts from close behind center had not
surprised Kenly greatly, since her scouts had prepared her for them,
but the fact that she was always more or less uncertain when they were
coming did worry her far more than appeared.

The second period started without changes in either line-up: for Alton
it was still Levering, Roice, Powers, Cheswick, Fingal, Todd, Borden,
Kinsey, Whittier, Frost and Tennyson. Coach Cade had put his best foot
forward and meant to keep it there as long as he could. With the wind
slightly in her favor, Kenly punted frequently in the second quarter,
trusting to get a break that would put her within scoring distance.
Alton kicked only when all other means had failed. She managed to keep
her territory fairly free of the enemy through most of the period,
but in the final five minutes Kenly worked an invasion. Punting from
her thirty-two yards, the Cherry-and-Black landed the pigskin in Pep
Kinsey’s arms near his twenty-yard line. The kick was long and fairly
high, the wind floating the ball along for an added ten yards, and Pep
misjudged and at the last moment had to run back. Frost, playing back
with him, saw the ball in jeopardy and raced across for it with the
result that the pigskin was almost lost to both of them. Pep managed to
hold it after a moment’s juggling, however, but by that time a frantic
Kenly end was on him and he was tackled fiercely, Frost being out of
position to offer protection. Pep stayed flat and time was called.
After working over the Alton quarter for a while, Jake signaled and
Horace Latham, already warming up before the bench, ran on. Pep was led
off looking pretty groggy.

Two attacks on tackles failed to get the ball much farther out of
the dangerous neighborhood and Latham punted. The kick was poor and
the ball went out at Alton’s forty-yard line. Then it was that Kenly
showed her power, for she marched back to the eighteen yards without a
pause, making her distance the first time by two inches and gaining her
final stand by a short toss across the Alton left wing that gave her
a needed four yards. Then, however, Alton stood firm. Walzer had been
sent in for Hick Powers, who had been pretty roughly used, and Kenly’s
two attempts on the left of the enemy’s center were piled up for no
gain. Another of the Kenly short passes grounded and once more her
drop-kicker stepped into the limelight. This time the Cherry-and-Black
line was a stone wall, the ball was passed neatly and the kicker had
plenty of leisure to perform his trick. The ball thudded away from
his foot and climbed into the air, far beyond the upraised tips of
eager fingers, passing squarely between the uprights and high over the
cross-bar. Kenly had drawn first blood and the vacant space beside her
name on the scoreboard suddenly held a large white 3!

That was just about all there was to that second quarter. Jim was taken
out in favor of Sawyer just before the end of it. Alton fought into the
enemy’s territory in the last minute of play only to yield the pigskin
on a punt, and before the teams could line up again the whistle blew.



CHAPTER XXII

THE BANDAGED HAND


Back in the gymnasium, in a small room provided for its use, the Alton
team spent eleven tense minutes. Coaches, trainer and rubbers toiled
without let-up. Faults were pointed out by stern-faced assistants and
offenders were taken severely to task. Johnny Cade, one forefinger
tapping Latham’s chest, spoke quietly but earnestly. The pungent odor
of rubbing liniment filled the air. Jake moved briskly and cheerfully
about, unwinding bandage and tape and clipping with his little
blunt-nosed scissors. And finally Manager Woodruff took his eyes from
the dial of his watch and called: “Four minutes!”

On the field Kenly sang and cheered, and Alton, although outnumbered,
was scarcely less vociferous. The big cherry-red flag stood out above
the home stand, snapping briskly in the increasing wind. Chilled
feet were coaxed back to warmth and coats more closely buttoned. The
sunlight had lost its heat now and the breeze was taking on an icier
tang. The minutes passed slowly, but at last the Kenly stand sprang
to its feet with an “Aye-e-e!” as the red-stockinged warriors came
into view again. Then the cheer leaders waved and the long Kenly cheer
swept across the field. Ere it had ended the Alton side was vocal, too,
for a tall, light-haired youth, gray-armed and gray-legged, trotted
into sight. Behind him trailed twenty-nine others of his kind, and
then a little squad of non-combatants. A white-sweatered man moved
into the field, a gray-sweatered man joined him. The cheers continued
deafeningly. Linesmen, blowing on chilled hands, dragged their long
rods down near the thirty-yard line. Alton had to yield the advantage
of the wind this time, but had elected to receive the kick-off.

Three changes in the Kenly team were seen, two in the line and one in
the backfield. For Alton, Latham remained at quarter, Sawyer at right
tackle and Walzer at left guard. With the wind behind it, the ball
sailed almost to the five-yard line before it dropped, and Alton let
it go over. Back on her twenty, the Gray-and-Gold flashed into life.
It seemed that she was showing her true strength for the first time.
Straight down the field she marched, overwhelming Kenly with the speed
of her attack, mingling straight line-jabs, swift dashes around the
tackles and short side passes that led to wide runs. Every shot found
its mark and not once was Alton halted until, almost on Kenly’s thirty,
a wide run went agley and Billy Frost was thrown behind his line for a
five-yard loss.

A short pass across the left of the line was caught by Latham, but the
gain was less than the previous loss. Once more, Tennyson heaved the
ball, this time far toward the side-line, but it was knocked down.
Kenly’s hoarse reiterated appeal of “_Hold ’em, Kenly! Hold ’em,
Kenly!_” was being answered. It was fourth down now and there was
still five yards to gain, with the ball on Kenly’s thirty-one yards. A
goal from the field seemed a hopeless thought, yet that is what Latham
called for. Captain Gus was summoned back and Latham dropped to a knee
in front of him close to the forty-yard line. Shouts of “_Block it!
Block it!_” swept across from the home stand. Cheswick sped the ball
back, Latham caught it and placed it and Gus stepped forward. The lines
heaved and bent. But foot met ball and the pigskin shot forward. Latham
had canted it, as he hoped, so that it would fly low, but after it
had cleared the frantic arms of the oncoming enemy it was caught by a
sudden gust and changed its flight. For an instant it seemed to pause.
Then it went up and up, hung for a breathless moment high in air and
began its descent. Already Kenly was howling its relief, for the ball
was coming down well short of the bar.

It descended close to the five-yard line and it was a red-legged
tackle who caught it to him and sprang forward. But Sam Tennyson
wrapped his long arms about his neck and pulled him back and down. It
was Kenly’s ball on her three yards.

The Kenly kicker stepped back well behind his goal-line and a little
to the left of center, mindful of the nearer post looming dangerously
close, and the silence of suspense fell. Alton’s “_Block that kick!
Block that kick!_” dwindled to a faint, hoarse mutter. Back went
the ball, but low, and the kicker had to step forward to get it.
Recovering, he saw the left of his line torn apart as Alton burst
through. There was no time now for a punt. Tucking the ball under his
arm, he started away to the right, seeking to pass behind the goal and
find a safe path out of his dilemma. And for a second success seemed
to await him. But just as he swung back toward the field, Jake Borden
swept down on him. Jake missed his tackle, but he stopped the runner
long enough for Roice to reach him and the two went down together a
yard behind the goal-line.

Alton roared in triumph and a figure 2 went up for the visitors. It was
not much of a score, but it was something, and the faint-hearted among
the Alton adherents were jubilant. At least, the Gray-and-Gold had not
been shut-out! The ball went out to the thirty yards and play began
once more. Kenly twice failed to advance a runner and then kicked.
Latham caught and was downed instantly. Alton began another march,
but it ended at her own forty-yard line and there Latham punted short
to the enemy’s thirty-eight. Kenly sprang a long forward-pass that
almost but not quite succeeded. A shorter attempt went for six yards
and two slams at the line gave her first down on the fifty-yard line.
Then followed Kenly’s moment of power, for she plunged and battered
her way forward for two first downs and placed the ball on Alton’s
twenty-eight. Walzer was hurt and Hick Powers went back to left guard
position. Kenly tried a full-back run that would have netted her twelve
yards had not an end been off-side. As it was, she was set back to the
thirty-three, and two plunges were stopped and a third down gained
but three yards off left tackle. Kenly set herself as for a try at a
field goal but, instead, hurled a long pass diagonally toward the right
corner of the field. The wind both aided and hindered that throw. It
added distance but it also swept the ball away from the waiting end and
into the outstretched hands of Sam Tennyson. Sam dodged and wriggled
and fought back to the seventeen before force of numbers laid him low.

Presently Latham again punted and, although the kick failed of
distance, the Kenly back who caught was dropped the instant the pigskin
was in his hands. From Alton’s forty-six yards, Kenly began another
advance. This time she reached only the thirty-two yards, where,
with three downs gone, she decided to take what was offered her. Her
kicker was squarely on the forty-yard line when he booted, and this
time the Kenly line held fast. But the ball, while it had both height
and distance, passed outside the left-hand upright; although it was
not until a moment had passed and the figure 3 on the scoreboard was
not changed that the spectators knew whether or not the goal had been
kicked. Then Alton voiced her relief in hearty fashion. Two more plays
laid the pigskin on Alton’s twenty-four yards and the whistle blew for
the last intermission.

Three to two and still anybody’s game!

That either team would be able to put over a touchdown looked
improbable. One or the other might win in the last quarter by a
field-goal, but it seemed a safe wager that neither Gray-and-Gold
nor Cherry-and-Black had enough strength to cross her opponent’s
goal-line. Both in attack and defense the rivals had shown themselves
well matched. What Kenly possessed of superiority in weight was offset
by Alton’s speed, while Alton’s speed was not a sufficient asset to
win her passage over the last five lines. But with the favoring wind
behind her now Alton might, thought the more hopeful of the visitors,
bring some trick into play that would decide the contest in her favor.
Among the hopeful was Clem, shivering between Imbrie and Landorf, high
on the Alton stand. Clem’s shivers were due more to excitement than
cold, however, and that excitement was heightened when, as the teams
gathered again, two forms ran on from the visitors’ side-line. One was
Pep Kinsey. The other was Jim Todd. Clem arose to his feet and shouted
madly.

“_Atta boy, Jim! Atta boy! Atta boy! Atta--_”

Landorf pulled him down to his seat. Those around laughed and cheered
him. Then the leaders called for short cheers for Latham and Sawyer,
and then for Kinsey and Todd. Clem was babbling incoherently and not
until the cheers were over did Landorf sense what he was saying.

“That’s why Johnny took him out in the third,” Clem was exclaiming.
“Must have hurt his hand pretty badly.”

“Who hurt his hand?” asked Art.

“Jim. Look at it. Wait till he turns--there! His left hand is all
bandaged up!”

It certainly was. Against the soiled khaki of his pants his left hand
shone like an Easter lily against dark foliage. The four fingers were
bound separately with clean white gauze and looked oddly conspicuous,
Landorf thought. “Funny he managed to get ’em all hurt,” he said.
“That’s what I call hogging it!”

A whistle blew and Pep Kinsey’s voice piped out sharply. Whittier took
the ball as it sped back from center and dashed toward the left. Kinsey
caught it at a short pass and sped along the line to the right. Jim
had a hole there. Tennyson went through, clearing it out and crashing
against a Kenly back, and Pep followed. Three yards gain. Fourth down
and three to go. Again the ball went to Whittier and with two short
strides toward his line he punted high. Down went the ends and down
went Jim, racing them to the enemy’s eighteen. Above them sailed
the ball, turning lazily over and over. A Kenly back edged forward,
paused, turned and raced backward. He caught on his eighteen yards and
it was Jim who closed his arms about his thighs, lifted him back and
deposited him on his sixteen. A hard-hearted referee put the ball on
the eighteen, waved a hand and slipped out of the way. Kenly started
toward the Alton goal once more.

Failing, at last, near mid-field to gain at the line, she passed across
the center and made eight. But a moment later she was again forced to
kick. Frost pulled the ball down on his twenty-two, side-stepped a
Kenly end, whirled from the grasp of a Kenly tackle and went plunging
in and out until the enemy closed in about him on the thirty-six. An
off-side penalty put Alton back to the thirty-one, and two plays later
Whittier again punted, from his thirty-five. Once more the Kenly back
was thrown in his tracks and once more Kenly set her face toward the
distant goal. Then came a punt from her thirty-nine that went almost
straight in air and dropped out-of-bounds at Alton’s forty-three.

Ever since the beginning of the quarter Jim had been listening for a
certain signal and now it came. “Formation L!” called the quarter. Jake
Borden swung out and trotted to the left of the line, taking position
between Roice and Levering. “Signals! Fifteen, thirty-seven, twelve!
Fifteen, thirty-seven--”

The ball went back and Alton flew into action. It was the signal Jim
had been awaiting, yet it was not the play, for although Sam had
started before the ball and raced off and backward to the left, and
although Whittier, with ball poised high, was following him slowly,
stepping back warily and apparently searching for an uncovered
receiver, Jim knew that Play 37 was to go for a run the first time
it was called. So, instead of wandering away to the right and trying
to look as if he was searching for four-leaf clovers or had lost his
pocket-knife and was trying to find it, Jim threw himself into the
opposing tackle, twisted past and slammed around behind the opposing
line. Whittier turned and tossed to Tennyson and Sam sprang forward.
Kinsey laid low the Kenly right half and Sam was going hard when he
gained the line, well outside, but the entire Kenly backfield had
been drawn to its right, and so had every other member of the team,
and the best Tennyson could do was fight his way to the forty-seven
for a four-yard gain. But the play had proved itself. Kenly had first
suspected a forward-pass and guarded against it, her backs spreading
and waiting. Then, when Whittier had made the on-side toss to Tennyson,
she had concluded that it meant a run and had moved, almost as one man,
across to meet it. And now Jim waited eagerly to hear the “37” again.

But it didn’t come. Alton made her way to the enemy’s thirty-seven
only to lose the ball when Frost fumbled when tackled. A few minutes
later she was back on her own thirty-five, the ball in her possession
after a Kenly punt. Kenly was now satisfied, it seemed, to play for
time and trust to fortune to bring her another scoring opportunity. If
that failed her, she was still certain of victory if she could keep
Alton from adding to that insufficient 2. Twice she punted out of
danger and back into Alton territory. Alton was using every play she
knew now, but Kenly was resisting desperately. New men were running on
for her and old and wearied ones were stumbling off. Alton, too, made
changes, though fewer. Tate and Kruger went in at the ends of the line
and Cheswick, thoroughly played out, gave place to Benning. The end was
drawing nigh. Seven minutes became six and six minutes dwindled to five.

It was Alton’s ball again, following a punt, on her thirty-four.
Tennyson made four outside tackles on a delayed buck, Whittier gained
three straight ahead between center and right guard and Frost made it
first down on a slide off left tackle. Tennyson passed to Whittier and
the latter scampered around the short end for seven more and put the
ball over the center line. Frost lost two, got three and made it first
down again. So it went, Kenly fighting but yielding. On the enemy’s
thirty-eight, on fourth down, Whittier faked a kick and tossed to Frost
and Frost ran to the left and got his distance on a wide run behind
fine interference. The ball was close to the left side-line now and
on the next play Whittier shot off to the right on a wide sweep that
gained only a yard. And then Jim, achingly impatient, heard what he had
been longing to hear once more.

“Formation L!”

“Seventeen, thirty-seven, eleven! Seventeen--”

Tennyson was off, running hard, to the left.

“--Thirty-seven!”

Jim engaged the opposing end, blocked him for an instant and then let
him through inside. Kenly was crying “Watch a pass!” and “Fake!” and
“End run on right!” Jim ambled around his end, the enemy moving before
him. The Kenly defensive back was edging to his right, well down the
field. Jim swung aside and sped toward the side of the field. Then,
turning, he faced the confusion he had left behind. He was alone and
unnoted as yet. Up went his long left arm and the four white-bandaged
fingers made a startling beacon against the dark hues of the stand
behind him. Whittier had tossed to Sam and Sam was peering across the
confusion of leaping, struggling forms. They were closing in on him
fast. A Kenly lineman had trickled through and Whittier met him square
and sent him reeling aside. But the whole Cherry-and-Black team was
bearing down now and Sam, scorning further subterfuge, raised the ball
in his right hand, faced the distant white signal, drew his arm back
and threw!

Then he was out of sight behind leaping figures, and Jim, his gaze
on the speeding ball, knew that the tide had set back his way. Forms
sensed rather than seen grew larger and larger as they raced toward
him. Frantic cries of warning and shouts of alarm came to him. He had
himself ready now, though, and the ball, sent low and hard and
straight, was shooting at him, a brown missile that grew ever larger.
Then he met it with his hands, gave one step to ease the catch, tucked
the ball under his right hand and sped away.

He had been just over Kenly’s forty-yard line when he had caught, and
some twelve yards from the side-line. When he had put one more white
streak underfoot he turned to the left, the nearer upright of the goal
his destination. But that course was not to be held long. Already
a fleet-footed Kenly quarter-back was speeding to meet him, while
steps pounded hard behind and to the right. Jim eased away toward the
side-line and pushed the thirty-yard mark behind him. Then the quarter
was on him, coming straight from the side. Jim thought quick, dug one
heel and spun to the left. A hand slapped at his thigh and a red-clad
arm swept upward, but the quarter fell past, clutching vainly, and Jim
Todd went on, friend and foe racing and falling behind him, on past
the twenty yards and the fifteen and to the ten. There the enemy made
its last appeal to Fortune. A Kenly end hurled himself forward and
his fingers seized about Jim’s left leg. Jim faltered, then went on a
stride, dropped to a knee, struggled erect again and again advanced. A
stride--another-- Figures were all about him now and suddenly he could
go no farther. He plunged forward, face-down, the ball, firmly grasped,
held at arms’ length. A ton of weight fell on him.

[Illustration: Jim dropped to a knee, struggled erect again and again
advanced.]

Some one was tugging at the ball, but Jim held it in a death grip. A
voice was calling: “Get up! Get up!” Then a white sweater sleeve came
into his vision and his fingers released their hold. The weight was
gone and arms were pulling him to his feet. He stood erect, breathless,
anxious, and looked about. Gus Fingal was grinning as well as a cut and
swollen lip would allow. So was Hick Powers. The rest of his team were
gathering along the five-yard line and Kenly, suddenly strangely weary
and discouraged-looking, was assembling between them and the goal. Then
Jim understood. His own grin answered the others.

“Gee, I guess it was over, wasn’t it?” he panted.

“Two feet over,” said Captain Gus. “Come on and let’s finish it up,
Slim. Only forty seconds more!”

Slim went back to his place, the lines heaved, a thud followed and
again wild, triumphant cheers burst from the Alton stand. On the
scoreboard an 8 was changed to a 9.

Half a minute later, having joined in a hoarse cheer for the defeated
rival, Slim fought his way toward the bench. But there wasn’t much
fight left now and he was soon captured. From the shoulders of two
shouting, maniacal schoolmates he looked down over a sea of bobbing
heads. He felt rather tired, very happy and--extremely foolish!


THE END



Football and Baseball Stories


Durably Bound. Illustrated. Colored Wrappers.

Every Volume Complete in Itself.


The Ralph Henry Barbour Books For Boys

In these up-to the minute, spirited genuine stories of boy life there
is something which will appeal to every boy with the love of manliness,
cleanness and sportsmanship in his heart.

  LEFT END EDWARDS
  LEFT TACKLE THAYER
  LEFT GUARD GILBERT
  CENTER RUSH ROWLAND
  FULLBACK FOSTER
  LEFT HALF HARMON
  RIGHT END EMERSON
  RIGHT GUARD GRANT
  QUARTERBACK BATES
  RIGHT TACKLE TODD
  RIGHT HALF HOLLINS


The Tod Hale Series

  TOD HALE IN CAMP
  TOD HALE WITH THE CREW
  TOD HALE ON THE SCRUB


The Christy Mathewson Books For Boys

Every boy wants to know how to play ball in the fairest and squarest
way. These books about boys and baseball are full of wholesome and
manly interest and information.

  PITCHER POLLOCK
  CATCHER CRAIG
  FIRST BASE FAULKNER
  SECOND BASE SLOAN
  PITCHING IN A PINCH

  THIRD BASE THATCHER, By Everett Scott.


GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK



STORIES OF SPORT AND ADVENTURE

By HAROLD M. SHERMAN

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap’s List.


THE HOME RUN SERIES

Here are thrilling baseball stories filled with fast playing and keen
rivalry. The author of these books writes from his own experience as a
player.

  Bases Full
  Hit by Pitcher
  Safe!
  Hit and Run
  Double Play


ROUSING FOOTBALL STORIES

These stories of the gridiron are packed full of excitement and real
smashing, heart-breaking football.

  Touchdown!
  One Minute to Play
  Block That Kick!
  Fight ’Em, Big Three!


THE FIGHTING FIVE BASKET BALL SERIES

These stories record the uphill fight of a group of boys to wake up
the citizens of a dull town to enthusiasm for sport, by winning a
championship against great odds.

  Mayfield’s Fighting Five
  Get ’Em, Mayfield


OTHER STORIES OF SPORT AND ADVENTURE

  Flashing Steel
  Don Razer, Trail Blazer
  Flying Heels
  Cameron MacBain, Backwoodsman


GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK



BUDDY BOOKS FOR BOYS

Illustrated. Individual Colored Wrappers.


Tales of old Western pioneer days and the California gold fields, tales
of mystery, humor, adventure, thrilling stories of sports and aviation.
There is a wide range of subjects in this list of titles--all by well
known authors of books for boys.

  BEAN BALL BILL                                      William Heyliger

A book filled with adventure and sport by a favorite boys’ author.


  MARK GILMORE, SCOUT OF THE AIR                  Percy Keese Fitzhugh

The story of how a boy scout falls in with an aviator and helps him
accomplish a mission.


  CAMERON MACBAIN, BACKWOODSMAN                      Harold M. Sherman

A boy from the backwoods has some strange adventures in the city.


  FLYING HEELS                                       Harold M. Sherman

How a postponed hockey game brought about a thrilling series of events.


  FLASHING STEEL                                     Harold M. Sherman

A great hockey story which tells of a game between an American
championship team and a Canadian championship team.


  BUFFALO BOY                                            J. Allan Dunn

A boy’s adventure in the old pioneer days.


  THE CLOUD PATROL                                        Irving Crump

The thrilling experiences of a young air pilot.


  THE PILOT OF THE CLOUD PATROL                           Irving Crump

A sequel to “The Cloud Patrol.”


  DON RAIDER, TRAIL BLAZER                           Harold M. Sherman

Don was not used to the city but he knew how to handle himself against
an alley gang that was set against him.


  TUCK SIMMS, FORTY NINER                               Edward Leonard

Excitement and danger in the California gold fields.


  WIGWAG WEIGAND                                  Percy Keese Fitzhugh

A charming story of mystery and true fellowship.


  HERVEY WILLETTS                                 Percy Keese Fitzhugh

Readers of Tom Slade and Roy Blakeley will be glad to learn more of
Hervey Willetts.


  SKINNY McCORD                                   Percy Keese Fitzhugh

Skinny is a queer, amusing chap and he has a lot of thrilling
adventures.


GROSSET & DUNLAP, _Publishers_, NEW YORK



FLYING STORIES FOR BOYS

IN THE AIR WITH ANDY LANE

By EUSTACE L. ADAMS


Individual Colored Wrappers. Illustrated.

Every Volume Complete in Itself.


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list


Mr. Adams, the author of this flying series for boys is an experienced
aviator and has had many thrilling adventures in the air--both as a
member of the famous Lafayette Escadrille in the World War and in
the United States Naval Aviation Service flying with the squadrons
patrolling the Atlantic Coast. His stories reveal not only his ability
to tell daring and exciting air episodes but also his first hand
knowledge of modern aeroplanes and the marvelous technical improvements
which have been made in the past few years. Andy Lane flies the latest
and most highly developed machines in the field of aviation.


FIFTEEN DAYS IN THE AIR

Andy refuels his ship in the air and sets a new endurance record.


OVER THE POLAR ICE

In a giant flying boat Andy beats his enemy in a dash to the South Pole.


RACING ROUND THE WORLD

In a series of thrilling flights Andy wins an air dash around the globe
to win a $100,000 prize.


THE RUNAWAY AIRSHIP

Through foggy skies Andy Lane brings back the world’s greatest
passenger carrying dirigible, blown away on the wings of a storm.


PIRATES OF THE AIR

Andy Lane pilots the giant passenger plane Apex No. 4 across the
Atlantic in the face of almost overwhelming odds.


ON THE WINGS OF FLAME

Andy makes a forced landing in the South American jungle in the dead of
night and has thrilling experiences with the natives.


GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, 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

 --Printer's, punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently
   corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 --The author’s em-dash style has been retained.





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