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Title: Forward Pass - A Story of the "New Football"
Author: Barbour, Ralph Henry
Language: English
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                             FORWARD PASS



BY RALPH HENRY BARBOUR.

Each, Illustrated, 12mo, Cloth, $1.50.


_Hilton School Series._

    The Half-Back.
    For the Honor of the School.
    Captain of the Crew.


_Erskine Series._

    Behind the Line.
    Weatherby’s Inning.
    On Your Mark!


_“Big Four” Series._

    Four in Camp.
    Four Afoot.
    Four Afloat.


    “Forward Pass!”
    The Spirit of the School.
    The Arrival of Jimpson.


    The Book of School and College Sports. $1.75 net.


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.



[Illustration: “He went staggering around the goal-post for a touchdown
and victory.”]



                             FORWARD PASS

                     A STORY OF THE “NEW FOOTBALL”

                                 _By_

                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

              AUTHOR OF “THE SPIRIT OF THE SCHOOL,” “THE
                   HALF-BACK,” “WEATHERBY’S INNING,”
                         “ON YOUR MARK,” ETC.


                            [Illustration]


                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                               NEW YORK
                                 1908



                          Copyright, 1908, by
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY


_Published September, 1908_



                                  TO

                        GILBERT H. SHEARER, JR.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                                          PAGE
      I.--OFF TO SCHOOL                              1
     II.--MR. FINDLAY SETTLES THE QUESTION          14
    III.--THE FIRST ACQUAINTANCE                    24
     IV.--“28 CLARKE”                               36
      V.--YARDLEY HALL                              56
     VI.--“TUBBY” JONES SURRENDERS                  66
    VII.--PAYSON, COACH                             75
   VIII.--DAN JOINS THE FOOTBALL SQUAD              92
     IX.--THE FIRST GAME                           105
      X.--DROPPED!                                 124
     XI.--A RESCUE                                 140
    XII.--AT SOUND VIEW                            148
   XIII.--A RICH MAN’S SON                         162
    XIV.--DAN JOINS A CONSPIRACY                   170
     XV.--GERALD VISITS YARDLEY                    183
    XVI.--AN AFTERNOON AFLOAT                      194
   XVII.--LIGHT BLUE OR DARK?                      205
  XVIII.--LORING DECIDES                           215
    XIX.--FOOTBALL WITH BREWER                     225
     XX.--MR. AUSTIN LOSES HIS TEMPER              236
    XXI.--MR. PENNIMORE CONSENTS                   251
   XXII.--NORDHAM SPRINGS SOME SURPRISES           261
  XXIII.--WHAT HAPPENED “BLUE MONDAY”              275
   XXIV.--DAN WONDERS                              291
    XXV.--ON PROBATION                             304
   XXVI.--“TUBBY” PACKS A BAG                      316
  XXVII.--VINTON’S VICTORY                         331



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                               FACING
                                                                 PAGE

 “He went staggering around the goal-post for a touchdown
    and victory”                            _Frontispiece_

 “He staggered to his feet, stumbled blindly through the
    doorway”                                                      142

 “‘Go in for Minturn.... Use your brains,’ he added”              232

 “Tubby went over backward in his chair”                          258



FORWARD PASS



CHAPTER I

OFF TO SCHOOL


“_All aboa-a-ard!_”

There was a warning clang from the engine bell and a sudden return
to darkness as the fireman slammed the furnace door and tossed the
slicer-bar back onto the tender. The express messenger in the car
behind pulled close the sliding door and hasped it, pausing afterwards
to glance questioningly at the cloudy night sky. At the far end of
the train, which curved serpent-wise along the track, the conductor’s
lantern rose and fell, the porter seized his footstool and Dan Vinton,
after a final hurried kiss, broke from his mother’s arms and ran nimbly
up the steps of the already moving sleeper.

“Good-bye, mother,” he called down into the half-darkness. “Good-bye,
father! Good-bye, Mae!”

They all answered at once, his father in a hoarse growl, his mother
softly and tearfully and his sister in a shrill, excited voice as she
tripped along beside the car steps, waving frantically. The eastbound
express carried ten cars to-night, and for a moment the big engine
puffed and grunted complainingly, and the train moved slowly, the wheel
flanges screaming against the curving rails. From across the platform
Dan heard his father’s voice lifted irritably:

“Ma, if you’re coming I wish you’d come! Can’t expect me to keep these
horses standing here all night!”

Dan smiled and choked as he heard. Dear old dad! All the way to the
station he had been as cross as a wet hen, holding his face aside as
they passed a light for fear that the others would see the tears in
his eyes, and trying with his gruffness to disguise the quiver in his
voice. Dan gave a gulp as he felt the tears coming into his own eyes.
The dimly-lighted station hurried by, there was a flash of green and
red and white lanterns as the trucks rattled over the switches and then
they had left the town behind and were rushing eastward through the
September night, gaining speed with every click of the wheels. There
was a sudden long and dismal shriek from the engine, and with that the
monster settled down into the stride which, ere morning came, was to
eat up three hundred Ohio miles and bring them well into Pennsylvania.
The porter, with a muttered apology, closed the vestibule door, and
Dan, blinking the persistent tears from his eyes, left the platform and
entered the sleeping-car.

“I put your suit-case under the berth, sir,” said the porter as he
followed the passenger down the aisle. The lights were turned low, and
Dan was glad of it, for he didn’t want even the colored porter to think
him a baby. The green curtains were pulled close at every section and
from behind some of them came sounds plainly indicating occupancy.

“Lower eight,” murmured the porter. “Here you are, sir. Hope you’ll
sleep well, sir. Good night.”

“Thanks,” muttered Dan. “Good night.”

“We take the diner on at Pittsburg, sir, at seven. But you can get
breakfast any time up to ten, sir.”

Dan thanked him again and the porter took himself softly away. When he
was finally stretched out in his berth, with his pocketbook tightly
wrapped up in his vest under his pillow, and the gold watch which his
father had given him when he had graduated from the grammar school last
June tucked into the toe of one of his stockings as seeming to him the
last place in which a thief would look for it, Dan raised the curtain
beside his head and rolled over so that he could look out. It was
after eleven o’clock and he knew that he ought to be asleep, but he
felt as wide awake as ever he had in his life. The moon had struggled
out from behind the big bank of clouds which had hid it and the world
was almost as light as day. For awhile, as he watched the landscape
slide by, a panorama of field and forest and sleeping villages, his
thoughts clung somewhat disconsolately to Graystone and his folks. But
before long the excitement which had possessed him for days and which
had only left him at the moment of parting crept back, and, although he
still stared with wide eyes through the car window, he saw nothing of
the flying landscape.

He was going to boarding-school! That was the wonderful, pre-eminent
fact at present, and at the thought his heart thrilled again as it had
been doing for two months past. And at last the momentous time had
really arrived! He was absolutely on his way! The dream of four years
was coming true! Do you wonder that his heart beat chokingly for a few
minutes while he lay there with the jar and rattle of the train in his
ears? When one is fifteen and the long-desired comes to pass life grows
very wonderful, very magnificent for awhile.

Ever since Dan had been old enough to think seriously of the matter
of his education he had entertained a deep longing for a course at
boarding-school. In Graystone it wasn’t the fashion for boys to go
away from home for their educations; Graystone had a first-class
school system and was proud of it; a boy who wanted to go to college
could prepare at the Graystone High School as well as anywhere else,
declared the Graystone parents; and as for the Eastern schools--well,
everybody knew that the most of them were hot-beds of extravagance and
snobbishness. This is a belief that unfortunately prevails in plenty
of towns beside Graystone. Dan’s father was quite as patriotic as any
other citizen of the town and held just as good an opinion of its
educational advantages. So when, during his second year at the grammar
school, Dan had broached the subject of a term at a preparatory school
in the East he was not surprised when Mr. Vinton refused to consider it.

“Pooh! Pooh!” scoffed Mr. Vinton, good-naturedly. “What’s the matter
with our own High School, Dan? Isn’t it good enough for you, son?”

Dan tried to explain that it was the school life he wanted to try, and,
unfortunately for his argument, mentioned “Tom Brown.”

“Tom Brown!” exclaimed his father. “Well, that’s a fine story, Dan, but
it’s all romance. I went to boarding-school myself, and I can tell you
I never ran up against any of the things you read about in ‘Tom Brown.’
No, son, if that’s all you want you might as well stay right here in
Graystone. You’ll find just as much of the ‘Tom Brown’ romance in High
School as you will back East.”

Dan wanted to tell his father that the kind of school he wanted to go
to was little like the boarding-school which his father had attended.
Mr. Vinton’s early education had been obtained at the Russellville
Academy, an institution whose name was out of all proportion to its
importance. Mr. Vinton had been born in one of the smaller towns along
the Willimantic River in Connecticut, and Russellville Academy had
possessed for him the advantages of proximity and inexpensiveness.
The tuition and board was one hundred dollars a year, and on Friday
afternoon he could reach home by merely walking twelve miles. Mr.
Vinton’s schooling had terminated abruptly in the middle of his
third year, when the death of his mother--his father had died years
before--left him dependent on an uncle living in Ohio. So Russellville
Academy was abandoned in favor of a position in the Graystone Flour
Mills. To-day Mr. Vinton owned the mills and, for that matter, pretty
much everything else in that part of the county. But the fact that
he had succeeded in life on a very slim education hadn’t made him
a scoffer at schools and colleges; on the contrary, he was a firm
believer in those institutions and was determined that Dan, who was
an only son, should have the best education that money and care could
provide.

Dan’s private and unexpressed opinion of Russellville Academy wasn’t
flattering. He believed that his father must have had a pretty forlorn,
unpleasant experience there. But Mr. Vinton had come to look back upon
his few years of school life through rose-tinted glasses.

“There were only about thirty of us fellows,” he would say when in
reminiscent mood, “but maybe we had better times for that reason; every
fellow knew every other fellow. Why, the first month I was there I
fought more than half the school!”

“Did you ever get licked?” asked Dan eagerly.

“Licked!” laughed Mr. Vinton. “Lots of times, son. Why, seems to me as
I look back at it, my nose was out of kilter more than half the time!”

“You must have been a set of young barbarians,” observed Dan’s mother
with conviction on one occasion.

“Nothing of the sort, Mary; just a parcel of youngsters full of life.
We didn’t think anything of a fight; used to make up half an hour
afterwards and bandage each other’s heads.”

“Were the fellows nice?” asked Dan doubtfully.

“Nice? Of course they were, most of them. Still, I guess we had all
sorts at the Academy. There was ‘Slugger’ Boyd and ‘Brick’ Garrison
and ‘Fatty’ Thomas and--and others like them that maybe you wouldn’t
just call ‘nice.’ ‘Brick’ got his nickname because of a way he had of
grabbing up a brick or a stone when it came to a fight. No one cared to
fight ‘Brick’ except in the barn where there weren’t any loose stones
lying around handy.”

“Did you have a nickname, too?” Dan asked.

“Yes, they used to call me ‘Kicker.’ You know we didn’t have any
special rules to fight by; every fellow just went at it the handiest
way. I was a good kicker; used to jab out with my fist and kick at the
same time. I won lots of fights that way, for some fellows can stand
any amount of punching on the head or body and quit right away when you
get a good one on their shins.”

“We wouldn’t call that fair fighting nowadays,” said Dan uneasily.

“No? Well, fashions change. It was good scientific fighting when I went
to school,” answered Mr. Vinton smilingly.

“Well, I think your folks must have been crazy to let you go to such a
place,” said Mrs. Vinton irascibly. “Fighting all the time and living
on almost nothing and sleeping on corn-husks and walking twelve miles
to get home and nearly freezing to death!”

“Oh, I only came near freezing once,” responded Mr. Vinton pleasantly.
“But that was a close shave. I guess if Farmer Hutchins hadn’t come
along just when he did that time--”

“I don’t want to hear about it again!” declared Dan’s mother. “If
that’s your idea of having a good time it isn’t mine! And you can just
believe that no son of mine ever goes to boarding-school!”

“Well, as for that, ma, I dare say boarding-schools have changed some
since my day,” responded Mr. Vinton.

But in spite of this assertion Russellville Academy remained to Mr.
Vinton a typical boarding-school, and remembering how little he had
learned there and, when the rose-tinted glasses were laid aside, how
many unhappy moments he had spent there, he was resolved in his own
mind that his wife’s decision was a wise one.

In the end Dan had given up all hope of getting to boarding-school,
without, however, ceasing to desire it. In June he had graduated high
in his class at the grammar school with every prospect of entering the
High School in September. But toward the last of July a conversation
had occurred at the dinner table which later put a different complexion
on things.

“Well, son, what you been doing to-day?” asked Mr. Vinton, absentmindedly
tucking his napkin into his collar, yanking it quickly away again and
glancing apologetically at his wife.

“Nothing much, sir. I played baseball for awhile and then ‘Chad’
Sleeper and Billy Nourse and Frank Whipple and I went over to Saunders’
Creek and went in bathing.”

Mr. Vinton frowned.

“‘Chad’ Sleeper, eh? Is that old Dillingway Sleeper’s boy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And young Nourse and that Whipple boy, you said, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“See a good deal of those boys, do you? Go around with them a lot, eh?”

“Yes, sir, a good deal.”

“I thought Frank Whipple was going to work this summer in his father’s
store.”

“He did start to,” answered Dan, “but--I don’t know. I guess he didn’t
like it.”

“Didn’t like it, eh? Did he tell you so?”

“Well, he said it was pretty hard work; said the store was awfully hot
and his mother was afraid he’d take sick.”

Mr. Vinton grunted.

“All those boys in your class next fall?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Which one is your especial chum?”

“‘Chad,’ I guess. I like him better than the others.”

“What is it you like about him, son?”

“Oh, I don’t know. He’s a good baseball player, and a dandy half-back;
you know he played half on the team last fall, sir.”

“Did he? I’d forgotten. Well, any other good points you can think of,
son?”

Dan hesitated. He didn’t like his father’s tone. It was a tone which
Mr. Vinton was likely to use when, to use Dan’s expression, he was
“looking for trouble.”

“He--he’s just a good fellow, sir, and we get on pretty well together.”

“I see. Ever hear of him doing anything worth while?”

“He won the game for us last Thanksgiving Day,” answered Dan doubtfully,
pretty certain that the feat mentioned wouldn’t make much of a hit with
the questioner.

“Ever hear of him doing anything helpful, anything kind, anything
useful to himself or anyone else?” pursued Mr. Vinton remorselessly.
Dan was silent for a moment.

“I guess he would if he got the chance,” he replied finally.

“Well, did you ever see him shading his eyes with his hand and looking
for a chance?”

“John, don’t talk such nonsense,” expostulated Mrs. Vinton, glancing at
Dan’s troubled countenance.

“No nonsense at all, my dear,” answered Mr. Vinton. “Dan’s got three of
the most useless, shiftless, no-account boys in town for his special
chums and I’d like to know just what he sees in them. That’s all.
‘Chad’ Sleeper’s father never did a real lick of work in his life,
excepting the time he did the State out of forty thousand dollars on
that bridge contract, and ‘Chad’s’ just like him. And young Whipple is
no better; and I guess Nourse belongs with them. Look at here, son,
aren’t there any smart, honest, _decent_ fellows you can go with?”

“‘Chad’ and Billy and Frank never did anything mean that I know of,”
answered Dan resentfully.

“Did you ever know any of them to do anything fine?” asked his father.
“Outside of winning a football game, I mean?”

Dan was silent, looking a trifle sulkily at his plate. There was a
moment’s pause. Then Mr. Vinton said more kindly:

“Well, I’m not finding fault with you, son. Maybe the boys here are
pretty much alike; and as I come to think about it I guess they are.
But it’s going to make a difference with you what sort of friends you
have during the next five or six years. And if you can’t find the right
sort here in Graystone, why--”

But Mr. Vinton paused there and relapsed into a thoughtful silence
that neither Dan nor his mother nor even his sister Mae, who was the
privileged member of the family, cared to disturb.



CHAPTER II

MR. FINDLAY SETTLES THE QUESTION


Nearly a week later the conversation bore fruit.

“Son,” asked Mr. Vinton, “do you still want to go to boarding-school?”

Dan’s heart leaped.

“Yes, sir,” he answered.

“Well, your mother and I have been talking it over and we’ve about
concluded that a change of scene for the next three or four years won’t
do you any harm. What do you say to the Brewer School?”

Dan hesitated. The Brewer School was in the southern part of the state
and had quite a local reputation, but Dan was certain that it wasn’t
the school he wanted. So he took his courage in hand.

“I’d rather go East, sir,” he said.

“Would, eh? Well, maybe you might as well. I tell your mother that as
long as you have to go away it don’t make much difference how far it
is. Takes all day to go to Brewer, anyway; put a night on top of that
and you’re pretty well East. Any special school you’ve got in mind?”

“N-no, sir. I didn’t think you’d let me go, and so I haven’t thought
about any special place.”

“Hm! Well, I dare say the old Academy is still running back in
Russellville, but--I don’t know, son, that it would just suit you. What
do you think?”

“If you don’t mind I’d like to go to one of the big schools, sir,”
answered Dan.

“All right, all right, son,” said Mr. Vinton cordially. “You put your
thinking cap on and study up on schools. When you find one you think
you’d like you tell me and I’ll get particulars.”

For the next fortnight Dan perused the advertisements of eastern
preparatory schools, sent for catalogues, read them, made up his mind
and changed it at least once a day. It seemed that just as soon as he
had settled upon one school as being the very place for him the postman
tossed another catalogue in at the gate and Dan speedily discovered
his mistake. He discovered several other things during that period,
one of which was that you can’t always safely judge an article by
its advertisement. There was one school in particular which won his
admiration early. It was advertised in a magazine all across the top of
a page. The picture gave a panoramic view of the grounds and buildings
and Dan held his breath as he looked. At first glance there seemed to
be at least a quarter of a mile of study halls and dormitories; by
actual count the buildings in the picture numbered eleven; and, as
Dan pointed out to his father, they were all of them “jim-dandies.”
Mr. Vinton allowed that they were. He appeared rather aghast at the
magnificence of the place; perhaps he was silently contrasting it with
Russellville Academy as he remembered the latter institution. But when
the forty-page catalogue came and Dan set out to identify the different
buildings in the picture by means of the explanatory text he found to
his dismay that only three of them were mentioned. This puzzled him
until he came across a casual paragraph stating that “the grounds of
the State Normal School adjoined the Academy on the east.” After that
Dan viewed with suspicion all pictures until the text of the catalogues
made good the pictorial claims.

In the evenings he showed his day’s “finds” to his father; Mrs. Vinton
was practically exempt from the evening conferences, since she was
called upon at all hours of the day for her opinions; and under the
study lamp Mr. Vinton and Dan looked at pictures, read descriptions and
weighed the merits of the different institutions under consideration.
Of course Dan started out with a pronounced leaning toward the
military schools; most every boy will own to the fascination exerted
by stirring pictures of long lines of youths in trim uniforms drawn up
in battalions on an immaculate parade ground, or dashing recklessly
over four-rail gates on splendid white horses, or grouped with stern
authority about a field-gun from whose muzzle a puff of white smoke
hints stirringly of the aspect of war. But Dan’s father was very
discouraging on the subject of military schools.

“If you want to be a real soldier, son,” he said, “I’ve no objection if
you can get your mother’s permission. I guess I could get you appointed
to West Point in the next year or two. But if you don’t want the real
thing I wouldn’t monkey with the imitation. From what I can learn about
most of these military academies they’re either play schools or else
they’re reform schools in disguise. Of course there may be some very
excellent ones, but I don’t believe you stand in need of a military
training, son.”

After all Dan was going to school to prepare for college, probably
Yale, and, recollecting that, he dropped the military schools and
a good many others from consideration. What, he asked himself,
was the good of learning to jump a horse over a four-rail fence
or make pontoon bridges? He had never heard that equestrianism or
bridge-building was required at Yale. And if it was merely a matter
of physical exercise he guessed he could get all he needed of that
from baseball, football and tennis. He was an enthusiastic lover of
athletics; played a fair game of tennis, was an excellent baseman and
had captained last year’s football team at the grammar school. And
so, naturally enough, he was looking for a school where athletics
flourished. But nevertheless one school, which advertised that “Blank
Academy has turned out five victorious football teams in the last
six years” earned only his contempt. For he shrewdly argued that
a school which sought to attract students on the strength of its
athletic success must be sadly deficient in other and more important
departments. Football and baseball and things like that, thought Dan,
were important adjuncts to education, but they weren’t what a fellow
went to school for.

In the end, and that was along towards the third week in August, the
choice, by an exhaustive process of elimination, was narrowed down to
two schools, one in New Hampshire and one in Connecticut. I think all
the other members of the family were heartily glad when the end was
reached, but Dan had enjoyed it all hugely. He would have felt sorry
for the boy whose school is selected by his parents. “Why, just think
of all the fun he has missed!” Dan would have exclaimed. It was hard
work making the final decision. The New Hampshire school, Phillips
Exeter, appealed to him strongly. In Graystone a building thirty years
old was considered venerable; one fifty years old--and there was only
one such--was absolutely archaic. And Phillips Exeter Academy was a
century and a quarter old; was turning out students years before the
State of Ohio entered the Union! That appealed to Dan’s imagination.
And Dan liked what the catalogue said about the school’s purpose: “The
object of the Academy is to furnish the elements of a solid education.
The discipline is not adapted to boys who require severe restrictions,
and the method of instruction assumes that the pupils have some power
of application and a will to work. The purpose of the instructors
is to lead pupils to cultivate self-control, truthfulness, a right
sense of honor, and an interest in the purity of the moral atmosphere
of the school.” I think Dan’s final choice would have fallen on the
New Hampshire school had not Congressman Findlay happened in one day
to dinner while the decision was still in abeyance. The Congressman
was very large and very deliberative, and when in the course of the
conversation the subject of Dan’s choice of schools was brought up and
his advice requested he demolished two of Mrs. Vinton’s excellent lemon
tarts before he replied. Then:

“Both fine schools,” he said. “Not much to choose, Mr. Vinton. Don’t
know as I ought to advise you, sir. I’m prejudiced.”

“Eh?” inquired Mr. Vinton. “How’s that?”

“Yardley man myself, sir,” replied Mr. Findlay.

Well, that settled it. Mr. Findlay was one of the State’s best
citizens, a man admired by all, even his political enemies. Dan, who
was always somewhat in awe of him, liked him thoroughly, and was
convinced that a school which could turn out men like the Congressman
was all right. After dinner some of Dan’s awe wore off, for Mr. Findlay
told about Yardley Hall School and indulged in reminiscences of his
own four years there and he and Dan became very chummy. When Dan went
up to his room that night he had the Yardley Hall School catalogue in
his hand and before he went to sleep he had read it through from front
cover to back, word by word, three times.

The following month had been an exciting period in his life. There were
so many jolly things to attend to. Of course the first of all was to
apply for admission to Yardley Hall, and until the reply was received
Dan was on tenter-hooks of suspense. For the catalogue plainly stated
that the enlistment was restricted to two hundred and seventy students,
and Dan feared that he was too late. But fortune was with him and he
learned later that his application was the last but one to be accepted
that year. Then came a brushing up on one or two studies in which he
felt doubtful of satisfying the examiners. And after that there were
clothes to buy, and to this task Mrs. Vinton lent herself with an ardor
and enjoyment that for the while soothed her sorrow over her son’s
prospective departure. And then, quite before anyone realized it, it
was the Day Before, and Dan was listening to a few words of advice from
his father.

“I don’t know that I’ve got much to say to you, son,” said Mr. Vinton.
“We’ve let you choose your school and after you get there you’ll
find that you’ve got to choose lots of other things for yourself.
We’ve started out by letting you have your own say, pretty much, and
I guess we’ll keep it up. So far you’ve shown pretty fair sense for
a youngster. If you want advice about anything, why, you know where
to come for it, but unless you ask for it neither your ma nor I will
interfere with you. You’re getting along towards sixteen now, and
at that age every boy ought to have a mind of his own. You’ll make
mistakes; bound to; everyone makes mistakes except a fool. Just so
long as you don’t make the same mistake twice you’ll do well enough.
You’re going to a pretty expensive school, son. I don’t object to the
cost of it, but I want you to see that you get your money’s worth.
The extravagant man isn’t the man who pays a big price for a thing;
he’s the man who doesn’t get what he pays for. So you’ll have to work.
You’ll find all sorts and kinds of boys there, I guess, and I want you
to use good sense in picking out your friends. A whole lot depends on
that. A fellow can know other fellows that will be good for him if he
goes about it right. Don’t make your friendship too cheap; if a fellow
wants it let him pay your price; if he has the making of a real friend
he will do it. Of course I expect you to behave yourself; but I’m not
worried much about that. I’ve never seen anything vicious about you,
son, and if you choose your friends right I don’t ever expect to. I
might tell you not to do this and not to do that, but I guess if you’ll
just make up your mind not to do anything you wouldn’t be afraid of
telling your ma or me about you’ll keep a pretty clean slate.”

Next day had come the final frenzied excitement of packing, succeeded
by an interminable wait for the moment of departure. Dinner that
evening had been an uncomfortable meal, with only Mae looking cheerful
or eating anything to speak of. And afterwards how the hours had
crawled until it was time to get into the surrey and drive to the
station! Dan had felt pretty miserable several times before the
carriage came around and his mother spent much of the time out of the
room, returning always with suspiciously moist eyes and smiling lips.
Then had succeeded the drive to the train through the silent streets,
past the darkened houses--for Graystone retires early to bed--with
everyone by turns unnaturally animated or depressingly silent. And now
here he was whizzing away through the moonlight, leaving Graystone
farther and farther behind, the great adventure really and truly begun!

Of course he wasn’t really sleepy; there was too much to think about to
waste time in slumber; but the silver and purple world rolled past his
eyes with hypnotic effect, the _clickety-click_ of the wheels sounded
soothingly, and--and presently he was sound asleep with the moonlight
smiling in upon him through the car window.



CHAPTER III

THE FIRST ACQUAINTANCE


Dan’s train rolled into the station at Wissining, Connecticut, at a few
minutes before five. All the way from New York, and more especially
since the Sound had suddenly flashed into view, he had been vividly
interested in the view from the window of the parlor car, so palpably
eager, in fact, to see this new country through which he was traveling
that a kind-hearted, middle-aged gentleman whose seat was on the
shoreward side of the car and across the aisle from Dan had insisted on
changing chairs with him. Dan had at first politely refused the offer,
but the gentleman had insisted with a little tone of authority in his
voice and in the end Dan had accepted the coveted seat.

“I’ve never seen the ocean before,” he explained with a deprecating
smile as he moved his bag across.

The gentleman smiled and nodded as though to say “I surmised as much,
my young friend.” Then he settled down in his new chair and half hid
his face behind a magazine. But a few moments later, when Dan happened
to glance across, he encountered the gaze of the other fixed upon him
speculatively. At once the eyes dropped to the pages of the magazine
once more. Dan read the name on the cover, “The Atlantic Monthly,” and
wondered whether the magazine was devoted to news of the fascinating
ocean upon which he had been eagerly gazing. Then the absurdity of the
idea struck him and he turned back to his window smiling.

Not only had Dan never seen an ocean before, but he had never looked on
a body of water broader than the Ohio River. This doesn’t necessarily
imply that he had spent his entire life in Graystone, for as a
matter of fact the family spent an occasional summer away from home,
usually in the Cumberland Mountains, and, besides this, Dan had made
short trips now and then with his father to Cincinnati, Columbus,
Springfield, and once as far South as Memphis. But Lake Erie, which
was the nearest approach to an ocean in Dan’s part of the world, was
two hundred miles north by rail and it happened that he had never
reached it. And not only the ocean interested Dan to-day. The country
itself engaged his pleased attention, for, although he had been born
in Graystone, yet Connecticut had been the home of his father’s people
for many generations and it seemed to him that the smilingly rugged,
bay-indented country was holding out a welcome to him.

He had armed himself with a railroad map and had located his father’s
old home some eighty miles north. The map even showed Russellville,
and the tiny word there seemed a veritable welcome in itself! And so
the time went quickly enough for him and almost before he knew it
the porter was brushing his clothes and the train had slowed down
at Greenburg, which, as he knew, was just across the river from his
destination. As he tipped the porter and sank into his chair again
he saw that the platform outside was thronged with boys who had left
the train from the day-coaches ahead. They must be Yardley Hall boys,
he thought; perhaps the train didn’t stop at Wissining and he should
get off here! He looked around for someone whom he could ask and his
gaze encountered that of the gentleman across the aisle, who, the
magazine stowed away in his bag, had donned his light overcoat and was
also apparently ready to leave the train. He noticed Dan’s anxious
countenance and leaned across.

“Are you for Broadwood?” he asked.

“No, sir; that is, I’m going to Yardley Hall. Should I get off here?”

“No, your station is Wissining, the next stop. This is Greenburg and
those boys are going to Broadwood Academy.”

Dan thanked him as the train started again. Suddenly the buildings
dropped away from beside the track and in a flash he was looking along
the estuary of a little river which wound away between low meadows
for a short distance and then opened into the Sound. The sun had gone
behind the clouds and a gray evening was succeeding a sunshiny day.
Miles away across the quiet water the eastern end of Long Island lay
like a purplish smudge against the horizon. He had time to see this,
and time to catch a glimpse of a hamlet of scattered houses as the
train crossed the little bridge and slowed down beside the station.

“Wissining,” announced the porter as he took up Dan’s bag. “This is
your station, sir.”

He took the bag of the gentleman across the aisle also and for the
first time it occurred to Dan, as he followed his cursory acquaintance
toward the door, that perhaps the other was for Yardley Hall, too;
that perhaps he was one of the teachers. But out on the platform he
abandoned that theory, for a smart man in automobile livery took the
gentleman’s bag and led the way to a big chocolate-brown touring car,
and almost before Dan had had time to look about him the car was
whisking itself off down the road. Some thirty other boys of various
ages had left the train, and Dan, uncertain of his directions, followed
them down the platform to where a number of carriages were drawn up,
the drivers vieing merrily and loudly for custom. Dan hesitated. He had
had in the back of his head an idea that when he left the train there
would be someone looking for him. The idea had not been sufficiently
concrete for him to know now whether he had expected the Principal
himself or merely the school janitor. While he hesitated the other
arrivals rushed for the carriages and tumbled themselves in after
their luggage and in a twinkling the conveyances were all filled to
overflowing and Dan alone remained on the platform, bag in hand,
looking somewhat blankly about him. Several of the carriages--tiny
affairs they were, holding not more than seven fellows no matter how
you packed them in--had already started away when a voice hailed him
from one of the remaining vehicles and a boy’s head was thrust out of
the door.

“Hi, there, you chap! Coming up?”

Dan supposed that “up” meant to Yardley Hall; and of course he was
coming up if he could get up, but--

“Come on in here,” called the boy. “Lot’s of room! Hold your horses,
Mike!”

The driver, seated on a pile of bags and suit-cases where his seat
had once been, had chirped encouragingly to his horse, but at the
command he called “Whoa!” and the horse obeyed instantly, one might say
almost with enthusiasm. A chorus of loud and long drawn-out “Whoas!”
supplemented the driver’s injunction. Dan strode across and looked
doubtfully into the interior of the carriage. At first glance there
seemed dozens of occupants, but--

“Climb in,” said his rescuer merrily. “Give me your bag. Here, Tubby,
hold the gentleman’s bag.” The bag was passed forward by eager
hands until it was deposited unceremoniously in the lap of a stout,
round-faced youth who showed no pleasure at the honor conferred upon
him.

“Hold the old bag yourself,” he growled.

“Why, Tubby,” cried an outraged voice. “Such manners! I _am_ surprised!
Hold it nicely; be a gentleman, Tubby, even if it hurts you.”

“I--I’ll stand up,” said Dan as he pushed his way between the almost
touching knees of the occupants. But that was out of the question, for
the roof was too low to permit of it.

“Sit down,” said the boy who had hailed him, a youth of about seventeen
with a good-looking, merry face. He gave a sudden tug at Dan’s coat and
Dan went over backward on to his knees. “That’s the ticket. You’ve got
an upper. Sit still.”

“I’m afraid you’ll find it uncomfortable,” said Dan anxiously.

“Not a bit of it! All right, Mike! Go ahead, but do drive carefully!”

This remark caused an appreciative howl from the others, during which
progress began again. Dan felt a trifle embarrassed at first, but
everyone seemed to forget all about him on the instant, even the boy
on whose knees he sat paying no more attention to him. Once as the
carriage rattled and shook its way along, Dan had a brief glimpse of a
cluster of stone and brick buildings crowning a low hill to the left
of the road and felt comforted to know that the school catalogue had
not lied either as to the number and attractiveness of the buildings or
the commanding situation of them. Then he did his best to maintain his
seat and listened to the chatter of the fellows around him. The talk
was loud and merry and incessant, but Dan couldn’t make very much of it
until the word “football” reached him. There followed a confused and
animated discussion of the Yardley Hall eleven, its probable make-up,
its chances of success against Broadwood and the date of arrival of a
Mr. Colton, whom Dan guessed to be the head coach. The discussion was
at its height when the vehicle stopped.

“All out!” was the cry and Dan struggled to his feet and stumbled down
on to a stone pavement and found himself in front of a flight of broad
granite steps leading to a deep, arched entrance. Rescuing his bag, he
looked about him indecisively. The other boys were scattering in all
directions, some few entering the doorway before him. The boy who had
rescued him at the station was taking his departure with the others.
Dan hurried after him and touched him on the arm.

“Where do I go, please?” he asked.

The other boy, Alfred Loring, turned and gazed at Dan in mild surprise.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I mean where shall I go to--to find someone?”

“Oh, are you just entering?” asked Loring. “I thought you knew the
ropes. Well, come on and I’ll show you the office.”

He led the way up the steps and into the building. A broad hall
traversed the building from front to rear and was intersected by a
narrower passage running lengthwise. The woodwork was dark, and the
plaster statues standing at intervals upon their high pedestals gleamed
ghost-like against it. Loring turned to the right and led the way down
the ill-lighted corridor, past the partly-open doors of recitation
rooms, until a door with a ground-glass light in it blocked their
further passage. On the glass was printed the legend: “Office of the
Principal.” Loring opened the door and nodded his head.

“There you are,” he said. “Tell the chap at the right-hand that you
want to register. He will give you a room and look after you.”

“Thanks,” answered Dan gratefully. The other nodded again carelessly.

“Don’t mention it,” he said. “Glad to help you. See you again, I
hope.” He took his departure, whistling softly and swinging his
suit-case gayly along the corridor. Dan entered the office and closed
the ground-glass door behind him. The room was large and less like
an office than a library. A thick carpet covered the floor. On two
sides shelves ran from floor to ceiling and were filled with books,
filing-cases and wooden boxes lettered mysteriously. There were two
low, broad-topped desks, one at each side of the room, and between
them, opposite the door from the corridor, was a second door marked
“Private.” There were three boys ahead of him and so Dan dropped
into one of the four high-backed, uncomfortable chairs near the door
and waited. Two deeply-recessed windows at his left admitted a flood
of white light, and through them he could see an expanse of turf,
traversed by red brick walks which converged in the center of the space
where an ancient-looking marble sun-dial stood. Across the grass the
end of a modern brick and limestone building, three stories in height,
met his gaze. Beyond that again were woods. The picture was framed in
the green leaves of the English ivy which surrounded the big windows.
In the gray failing light of early evening, the quiet vista gave Dan
an impression of age and venerability which thrilled him pleasantly
and which was quite out of proportion with the real facts, for Yardley
Hall School, as Dan well knew, was less than forty years old. Even the
glimpse of Dudley Hall, a dormitory erected but three years before,
failed to disturb the impression of ancientness.

“Now, if you please.”

Dan aroused himself and approached the desk where a keen-eyed man was
regarding him a trifle impatiently over the tops of his glasses.

“What name?”

“Daniel Morse Vinton.”

The gentleman, who was the school secretary, ran his finger down the
pages of a book beside him until it stopped at an entry. Then he took a
filing card from a drawer and wrote on it.

“Residence?”

“Graystone, Ohio.”

“Age?”

“Fifteen.”

“Class?”

“I don’t quite know, sir. I hope to get into the Third.”

“Father’s name and business?”

“John W. Vinton, manufacturer.”

“Mother’s name, if living?”

“Mary Vinton.”

“Street address?”

“Seventy-four Washington Avenue.”

“Religious denomination?”

“Baptist.”

“Bills to be sent to father or mother?”

“Father, please.”

“That’s all. Examinations in Room N to-morrow at nine-thirty. Your room
is Number 28 Clarke Hall. Your room-mate is Henry Jones, a Third Class
boy. I hope you will pass your examinations and enjoy your stay here.
You have a check for your baggage? Thank you. It will be delivered this
evening, probably. When you go out turn to your left, please; Clarke
is the second dormitory. Dr. Hewitt receives the new students to-morrow
evening from eight to nine in the Assembly Hall. I hope you will
attend. If any question as to dormitory accommodation arises please see
the matron, Mrs. Ponder, Room 2, Merle Hall. If there is anything else
you want to know about you will find someone here from nine until six
every day. Good evening.”

“Good evening,” answered Dan. “Thank you, sir.”

But the secretary was already absorbed again, and Dan lifted his bag
and went out. To the left was a second building of granite, a very
plain, unlovely structure which the ivy had charitably striven to
cover. Beyond this a handsome, modern building of brick came into
sight. There were two entrances and Dan went in at the first. A sign
at the foot of the stairs announced “Clarke Hall; Rooms 1 to 36.” Dan
climbed two flights and sought his number. He found it at length on the
last door in the entry and knocked.

“Come in!” called a voice.

Dan entered. Before him, scowling interrogatively at the intruder, was
the boy who had held his bag in the carriage.



CHAPTER IV

“28 CLARKE”


“Hello,” exclaimed Harry, alias “Tubby” Jones. “Who do you want?”

The tone was decidedly uncivil and Dan would have resented it had
he been feeling less strange and lonesome. As it was he smiled
ingratiatingly as he set down his bag.

“They told me at the office,” he replied, “that I was to room in 28
Clarke. This is 28, isn’t it? And you’re Jones, aren’t you?”

Tubby gave a growl of disgust.

“Gee, I knew I’d draw a freak,” he muttered. Dan heard and flushed.
In momentary confusion he picked up his bag and deposited it on the
window-seat at the end of the room. Tubby watched him with no attempt
at concealing his disgust. Now, lest you gather the impression that our
hero is a most unprepossessing youth, I’ll explain that Tubby Jones
would have shown displeasure had his new room-mate been an Apollo in
appearance, a Chesterfield in manners, a Beau Brummel in attire and
a paragon of all virtues. Tubby, who, by the way, was none of these
things himself, was what might be inelegantly called a chronic kicker.
Tubby had a ceaseless quarrel with the world at large and things in
general. He was a stout youth of sixteen with a round, pasty face on
which there was habitually an expression of discontent and usually a
scowl of sulky wrath. Tubby always had a grievance; he would have been
dreadfully unhappy without one. Oddly enough, he was not unpopular
in school, although he had few friends. The fellows never took him
seriously--which was itself a grievance--and usually treated him with
good-natured tolerance, using him as a butt for their jokes. The fact
that Tubby couldn’t take a joke made it all the more fun.

When Tubby intimated that Dan was a freak he was more unflattering
than truthful. And Tubby was forced to acknowledge unwillingly that
this new room-mate of his was a mighty prepossessing chap; well-made,
pleasant-mannered and attractive of face. Which was quite sufficient
to make Tubby dislike him cordially. You see, Tubby wasn’t well-made,
nor pleasant-mannered, nor attractive to look upon. And envy was at the
bottom of many of Tubby’s grievances. Tubby stood with his hands in his
pockets and looked aggressively at Dan. What he saw was a boy rather
large for his age, fairly tall and “rangey,” with little superfluous
flesh on his bones and a quick, alert way of looking and moving. He
also saw a pair of steady, quiet brown eyes, a short, straight nose,
brown hair and a nice mouth which at the present moment was trying
bravely to smile. Perhaps Dan’s attire wasn’t quite the thing judged by
Tubby’s standard; the clothes had been bought in Dayton “ready-to-wear”
and didn’t fit very well; but the material was good and the color
unobtrusive.

“Where do you live?” asked Tubby, as Dan, having unstrapped his bag,
looked around for places in which to deposit the contents.

“Graystone, Ohio,” answered Dan. “Is that my bureau over there?”

“Yes, only it’s a chiffonier,” replied Tubby with a grin. “Say, do you
reckon I could get a hat like that if I sent the money?”

Dan glanced in surprise at his straw hat on the window-seat. Then he
looked doubtfully at Tubby.

“Sorry you don’t like it,” he said. “But I guess it’s pretty near time
to call it in, anyhow. Which is my bed?”

“Everything on that side of the room is yours. Who said I didn’t like
the hat? It’s a beaut! Did they give it to you when you bought the
clothes?”

“No,” answered Dan quietly, “I paid for it.”

“Well, they must be robbers out your way,” laughed Tubby.

Dan made no answer. He was feeling too dejected to even get angry;
besides Tubby’s ill-nature was so obvious that it lost its effect. Dan
cleared out his bag and put it on the top shelf of his closet. Then he
went back to the window-seat, took one knee in his hands and looked
about him. The room was on the corner of the building, was some twenty
feet long by twelve broad and was well if not luxuriously furnished.
There was an iron cot-bed against each of the side walls, a chiffonier
at the foot of each bed and a stationary washstand beside it. A broad
study table stood under the chandelier, flanked on each side by an
arm-chair. The floor was of hard wood and an ingrain “art-square”
covered all but a narrow border. Beside the arm-chairs there were two
straight-backed chairs, and the shallow bay window held a comfortable
window-seat. On the walls, which were painted a light gray, hung four
pictures, two on each side. These were part of the furnishings supplied
by the school and were all framed alike in neat, dark oak frames. There
was a photograph of the ruins of the Forum, an engraving of dogs,
after Landseer, one of Napoleon on the deck of the Bellerephon and a
cheerful colored print of the Christmas annual sort. There was a rule
that forbade the hanging or placing of any other objects on the walls,
but above each chiffonier a series of narrow shelves were built and on
these the students arranged their photographs and posters.

“It’s a real nice room,” observed Dan sincerely.

Tubby sniffed.

“Glad you think so,” he sneered. “I think the rooms here are the limit.
You nearly freeze in cold weather.”

“There’s steam heat, isn’t there?” asked Dan, with a glance at the
radiator.

“Supposed to be, but you’d never know it. You’ve got the warmest side
of the room.”

“On account of that side window there? I don’t mind the cold. I’ll
change if you’d rather.”

“What’s the use? You’re cold anyhow, wherever you are. Are you one of
those fresh-air cranks that want all the windows open at night?”

“No, one’s enough, I guess,” answered Dan.

“Well, you see that it’s the one nearest you, and don’t think you’re
going to have it open all the way, either. I’m susceptible to cold, I
am. I had the grippe last winter.”

“All right. When do we have supper?”

“Half-past six.” Tubby looked at his watch. “It’s twenty minutes
after. Say, have you got any kind of a clock?”

Dan shook his head.

“Well, we need one,” continued Tubby. “If you’re thinking of adding
anything to the furnishing of this palatial abode a clock’s the thing
to get.”

“I see. Are you allowed to have furniture of your own?”

“You can have an easy chair if you like,” said Tubby. “Maybe you’d
better get one. I usually use the window-seat and it only holds one
comfortably.”

Dan stifled a smile.

“I guess we can take turns at it,” he answered quietly. He began to
wash in preparation of supper. Tubby stared scowlingly at his back.

“What class are you in?” he asked presently.

“Don’t know yet; Third, I hope.”

“I’m in that. You’d better keep out. It’s an awful roast. They work you
to death.”

“You mean you are in the Third Class this year?”

“That’s what I said, isn’t it?”

“That’s what I thought you said, but I wondered how you knew so much
about it if you were just starting.”

“I know what fellows say,” answered Tubby crossly. “You’d better go in
for the Fourth.”

“Maybe I’ll have to,” responded Dan cheerfully. “I’ll tell you more
about it this time to-morrow.”

“Huh! You’re one of those smarties who think they know it all, aren’t
you?”

“I hope not. If you’re going to supper I wish you’d show me the way, if
you don’t mind.”

“All right. Come along. You won’t get much to eat, though, I can
tell you that. They simply try to starve you here. Wish I’d gone to
Broadwood, like I was going to.”

But Dan found that Tubby’s croakings about the supper were misleading.
The food was very good and there was no evident attempt on the part
of the waiters to force anyone to leave the table hungry. The dining
hall, or commons as it was called, occupied most of the first floor of
Whitson Hall, the unlovely granite structure which Dan had passed on
his way to his room. There were thirty tables, holding from eight to
ten boys each. Some of the tables were presided over by instructors,
while in one corner of the hall a small table was occupied by Dr.
Hewitt, the Principal; Mrs. Ponder, the Matron; Mr. Collins, the
Assistant Principal, and the Secretary, Mr. Forisher.

When Dan and his room-mate reached the hall they found it already well
filled and Tubby gazed disgustedly at his watch, comparing it with the
big clock over the fire-place. “Ten minutes slow!” he growled. Then he
ambled over to a nearby table, leaving Dan to fend for himself. But a
waiter came to his assistance, Dan gave his name, it was checked off
from a list, and he was conducted down the hall. It was a long trip,
for the table at which Dan finally found himself was quite at the
other end of the room from where he had entered, and he tried his best
neither to jostle the hurrying waiters or run into any of the occupants
of the tables. He succeeded in both attempts and sank thankfully into a
chair.

He might easily have thought himself in the dining room of a hotel,
save for the absence of color lent by women’s dresses. As his eyes
ranged about the hall they fell presently on a youth who was seated
across the table. It was the boy who had come to his assistance at the
station. As Dan’s eyes rested for a moment on him he wished that his
acquaintance of the afternoon would look up and speak to him. He was
an attractive, jolly looking chap, with brown hair that was slicked
down very carefully on either side of his well-shaped head, a slightly
aquiline nose, and dark eyes--probably brown, although Dan couldn’t be
certain of that--that were frank and merry. Dan liked his looks very
much and hoped they would become friends. After Tubby Jones the boy
across the table was decidedly refreshing. But Dan was forced at last
to withdraw his gaze without having secured a glance of recognition,
and turned his regard to the other fellows at the table.

They were of all sorts, it seemed; in age, from fourteen to eighteen;
attractive and unattractive, light and dark, sober and merry. But they
seemed to Dan to be all much alike in one thing, and that was their
air of absolute self-possession. For some reason he felt himself in
comparison awkward and rough. No one spoke to him save the fellow on
his left, who once asked for the pepper and once for the bread. Dan
ate his dinner with a good appetite, glancing now and then across the
table at his acquaintance of the afternoon and listening interestedly
to the conversation about him. Much of it was unintelligible, abounding
as it did in names and terms that were strange. But he learned in the
course of it that the boy who had shown him the way to the office was
named Alf Loring; for some of the fellows called him Alf and some
Loring. Alf, reasoned Dan, was probably short for Alfred. As in the
coach coming from the station, the subject of football claimed a good
deal of attention, and it was evident from the deference paid to his
opinions that Loring was to some extent an authority. By the time his
dessert came on many of the fellows had finished their dinners and left
the table, and Dan, for very loneliness, turned to his neighbor on the
left, who had not quite finished, and ventured an inquiry.

“Are we--” Then he corrected himself; perhaps he had no right to say
“we” yet. “Is the school going to have a good football team this year?”
he asked.

His neighbor glanced at him curiously, but with nothing of
unfriendliness, and shook his head.

“Pretty fair, I guess,” he answered. “We lost a lot of fellows last
Spring, though.”

“I see,” said Dan. He couldn’t think of anything more to say at the
moment and his informant paid no further attention to him. A chair
scraped at the other side of the table and Dan looked across in time
to see Loring arise. A moment later their glances met. Loring’s swept
by and then returned, while a little pucker of indecision creased his
forehead. Then recognition came and he nodded across, pausing with a
hand on the back of his chair.

“Hello,” he said. “How’d you get on? All right?”

“Yes, thanks,” answered Dan, feeling a little self-conscious as the
remaining boys turned their eyes to him. “They gave me a room in Clarke
Hall.”

“You might have done worse,” said Loring. “Who are you with?”

“With?” repeated Dan, puzzled.

“I mean who’s your room-mate?”

“Oh, I beg pardon,” said Dan. “A fellow named Jones.”

“Not Tubby Jones?”

“I think so. He was in the coach with us.”

“That’s Tubby,” answered Loring with a smile. Several of the others
laughed outright and a boy at the end of the table remarked as he
pushed back his chair: “I wish you joy!” It wasn’t intended for Dan’s
ears, but Dan heard it.

“Well, Clarke’s a pretty good dormitory,” said Loring. “You might have
had worse luck.” He smiled again in friendly fashion and took his
departure. Dan thought that the two or three fellows who remained at
the table seemed a trifle more interested in him than they had before,
but none of them spoke and presently he left the table himself.

Tubby Jones was not in the room when he got back to Clarke. His trunk
was there, however, and for the next hour Dan was too busy unpacking
to feel lonesome. But afterwards, when everything had been put away
he wished that someone would come in; even Tubby would have been
welcome. But no one came and so Dan glanced over the books on Tubby’s
side of the table, selected a battered copy of one of Henty’s stories
and settled himself in a chair. He made up his mind to get interested
in the story and keep his thoughts away from Graystone and the folks
there; he had thought at first of writing a letter, but he knew that
if he did he would be homesick in a minute. Luckily the book captured
his interest before a half-dozen pages had been turned and he was
thoroughly absorbed in the startling adventures of the hero when the
door flew open and Tubby entered. Behind came a second boy, a sharp
contrast to Tubby. He was about the same age, but there all likeness
ended, for the stranger was thin and sallow with untidy hair of a
nondescript shade of light brown, a mere apology for a nose and a wide,
loose mouth that was always smiling in a nervous, ingratiating way just
as Tubby’s was forever set in lines of displeasure. His eyes were quite
as indecisive as his hair in regard to color and had a shifty look that
Dan didn’t find prepossessing. The first thing that Tubby saw was the
book in Dan’s hand.

“Hello,” he said with a scowl, “isn’t that my Henty?”

“Why, yes, I guess so,” answered Dan. “I found it on the table!”

“Well, I don’t lend my books,” growled Tubby.

“Oh!” Dan looked at him rather blankly and then at the stranger.
The latter was grinning as though in appreciation of his friend’s
discourtesy, but tried to straighten his mouth when Dan looked at him.

“Sorry,” said Dan. “I didn’t think you’d mind.” He got up and put the
book back in its place. “I don’t think I’ve hurt it,” he added dryly.

“Well, if you’d asked me--” began Tubby a trifle more graciously.

“You weren’t here, you see,” said Dan. He picked up Tubby’s cap, which
the latter had just tossed on the desk, and placed it on top of the row
of books.

“What’s that for?” asked Tubby suspiciously.

“This is my side of the table,” answered Dan quietly, “and I don’t like
things put on it.”

Tubby scowled angrily and muttered to himself. Then he took up the
cap and tossed it onto a hook in his closet, closing the door with a
vindictive slam. The stranger had seated himself on the edge of Tubby’s
bed and was grinning like a catfish; the expression is Dan’s, not mine.
The possibility of a quarrel between the room-mates seemed to fill him
with the most pleasant anticipations. But, as before, when he caught
Dan’s gaze on him he strove to dissemble his enjoyment. Perhaps Dan’s
glance had in it something of the instinctive dislike which he felt for
the other, for the stranger seemed a little embarrassed and turned to
Tubby.

“I say, Tubby, you might introduce me, you know,” he challenged.

“I forgot,” muttered Tubby. “Mr. Hiltz, Mr. Vinton. Jake is in the
Third and he will tell you just what I did, it’s a mighty tough job.”

Dan shook hands with Jacob Hiltz, wondering as he did so how Tubby
had learned his name; for Tubby had not asked it and Dan had not
volunteered it. As a matter of fact, Tubby had paid a visit to the
Office after supper and asked Mr. Forisher, a course quite typical
of Tubby, who, as Dan learned later on, would much rather obtain his
information in a round-about way than ask a straightforward question.
Hiltz laughed nervously as he dropped Dan’s hand.

“Yes, it’s a tough class all right,” he corroborated. “They say the
Latin is fierce.”

“Yes,” said Tubby. “We have Collins in Latin, and he’s a regular
slave-driver.”

“He’s the Assistant Principal, isn’t he?” Dan asked.

“Yes, that’s what they call him, but he really does most of the work.
Toby’s a figure-head. All he does is to interfere with things and spoil
our fun.”

“Toby?” repeated Dan vaguely.

“Doctor Hewitt,” Jake Hiltz explained. “His first name is Tobias, you
know. He’s not a bad old sort.”

“Oh, he makes me tired,” growled Tubby. “Doesn’t do a thing that’s any
good and draws a big salary for doing it.”

“How old is he?” Dan asked.

“Oh, pretty near seventy, I guess.”

“Does he teach?”

“Yes, some. You’ll have him in Greek when you get into the First Class.
He’s a cinch, though, the fellows say. Wish Collins was like him.”

“Are the exams very stiff?”

“You bet they are,” said Tubby. “That’s why you’d ought to try for the
Fourth instead of the Third. You’d be certain to make the Fourth, you
see.”

“Well, but if I miss the Third, there’s still the Fourth, isn’t there?”

“Yes.” Tubby shook his head dubiously. “But it’s a bad plan to start
out that way; Faculty doesn’t like it. Does it, Jake?”

“Dead against it,” answered Jake promptly and with conviction. “If I
were you I’d try the Fourth. Then, if you wanted to you could take two
extras next year and maybe skip the Third. Two or three fellows are
doing that.”

“Sounds a bit difficult,” mused Dan. “What class are you in?”

“Third,” answered Tubby.

“Oh, then you really don’t know very much about it from experience, do
you?” asked Dan carelessly. Jake was at a loss for a moment, but Tubby
came to his assistance.

“He’s heard plenty of fellows talk about it, I guess. Jake’s been here
two years.”

“I see. Still, maybe you fellows are more scared than you need be. I
shall try for the Third, anyway.”

“Well, don’t say we didn’t warn you,” said Tubby irritably.

“No, and I’m much obliged to you.”

“Don’t mention it,” answered Jake sweetly. But Dan didn’t like his
tone. They talked for awhile longer desultorily. Dan tried to learn
something about football at the school, for he meant to try for the
team, but neither Tubby nor Jake seemed to be the least bit interested
in the game.

“One thing’s sure, though,” said Tubby, “and that is that we will get
licked again this year just as we did last.”

“How’s that?” Dan inquired.

“Rotten coaching,” Tubby growled. “They’ve got a fellow named Payson
for Head Coach and he’s no good. A conceited chap who thinks he’s the
whole show. He doesn’t know enough about football to coach a girls’
school!”

“Do you play?” asked Dan suspiciously. Tubby shook his head.

“No, not on your life! I know how, all right, but there’s no use trying
to make the team here unless you’re a swell or a particular friend of
Payson’s.”

“Oh, then you don’t think there’s any use in my trying for the team?”
Dan asked.

“You!” Tubby and Jake viewed him derisively. “You’d have about as much
show as--as--”

“As I would,” Jake assisted.

Dan looked at Jake’s thin, flat-chested figure and tried not to smile.
But he wasn’t wholly successful and Jake flushed.

“Oh, you may have the build all right,” he said, “but it takes more
than that to get on the team here. Payson won’t pay any attention to a
fellow unless he’s had a lot of experience.”

“Well, I’ve had three or four years of it,” said Dan.

“Oh, Western football doesn’t count,” Tubby sneered. “You’ll find we
play a different game here.”

“That so? By the way, who is Loring?”

“Alf Loring?” asked Tubby quickly. “He’s quarter-back on the eleven and
he thinks he can play football. Do you know him?” Dan shook his head.

“I sat at table with him to-night,” he said.

“Huh! You ought to feel honored! He’s a cad, he is. There’s lots of
them here, and he’s the top-notcher of them all. He makes me sick.
Conceited fool! If you want to play football you’d better try for the
class team; you’ll be lucky if you make substitute on that!”

“Well, I’m going to bed,” said Jake. “Good night. Glad to have met you,
Vinton. I’m in Whitson; Number 7. Get Tubby to bring you over some
time. Hope you get through exams O.K. Good night.”

Tubby went off with his friend and Dan went to bed. He had just pulled
the covering over him when Tubby returned. Dan feigned sleep and Tubby,
after one attempt at conversation, let him alone. Soon the light went
out and Dan, lying with wide-open eyes, considered the day’s events.
On the whole he wasn’t very well satisfied. He had been at Yardley Hall
five hours and had been spoken to by exactly four of the two hundred
and seventy boys. And of the four two he already cordially disliked.
Of the others, one, his neighbor at table, had neither repelled nor
attracted him, while Loring, if he was to accept Tubby’s estimate,
was not promising. But he had a suspicion that Tubby’s estimates were
not always just, and what little he had seen of Loring he liked.
Unfortunately, Loring hadn’t shown any reciprocal sentiments. Dan
smiled ruefully as he recalled his father’s advice on the subject
of forming friendships. “Don’t make your friendship too cheap,” he
had counselled. “If a fellow wants it make him pay your price.” Dan
wondered now whether anyone was going to want his friendship at any
price whatever! Perhaps, after all, he would have done better to have
gone to a western school. At Brewer, for instance, he would have by
this time, he was certain, known half the school. Yes, there was
undoubtedly a difference between western ways and eastern. It wasn’t
that Yardley fellows don’t make friendships, for after supper he had
passed boys in Oxford Hall with their arms over each other’s shoulders
as chummy as you pleased. Perhaps it was merely that it was harder
here to make friends, more difficult to become acquainted. Perhaps
after you got to know the fellows you would like them immensely.
Only--well, Dan wondered whether he would ever get to know the right
sort, for certainly, with Tubby and Jake as examples, he hadn’t made a
very brilliant beginning! And still wondering, Dan fell dejectedly to
sleep.



CHAPTER V

YARDLEY HALL


It may be that you who are reading this story know Yardley Hall quite
as well as, maybe even better than I do. If so you will think me a bit
cheeky for describing it. But as this is likely to fall into the hands
of those who may, at the most, have only heard the name of Yardley, I
think we owe it to such to say a little about the scene of the story.
But I’ll make it as brief as I can, for I don’t like descriptions any
better than, possibly, you do. And if you are not satisfied with this,
why, it’s the easiest thing in the world to skip this chapter. I shall
think myself lucky if you don’t skip more than that before you have
finished my tale.

Yardley Hall School, then, is at Wissining, Connecticut, and Wissining
is a very little town--so little that some maps do not even show
it--situated on Long Island Sound about midway between Newport and New
Haven. A little river--not much more than a good-sized creek, to tell
the truth--leaves the Sound there and meanders back through marsh
and meadow until it finally loses all likeness to a river--even a
little one--and becomes simply a bog. But that is seven or eight miles
inland. At Wissining it makes quite a showing in a small way; it is
broad enough to accommodate a couple of islands, and that is something,
you’ll have to allow!

Coming from New York, and after you have left New Haven quite a
distance behind, you reach Greenburg. Greenburg is on the west bank
of the river and is something of a town. It has a good many factories
of various sorts; factories for silverware, brass tubing, clocks and
builder’s hardware. There are others beside, and a big boat-building
yard where they turn out gasoline launches. Whenever you come across a
launch whose engine bears the inscription, “Wissining Launch and Engine
Company,” you may be certain that it came from Greenburg. Of course if
you want to reach Wissining you pay no attention to the conductor’s
cry of “Greenburg! Greenburg!” You keep your seat in the car and after
a minute or two the train goes on, past the backs of the houses and
stores and over a little bridge across the river, and stops at a very
much less imposing station. That is Wissining.

If you stand on the platform after the train has gone and look about
you the first thing you will probably notice is a mass of stone and
brick buildings which stand on a plateau about a quarter of a mile
away. You are looking now directly north-east. Between you and the
collection of buildings, which, as the station master will tell you,
is Yardley Hall School, there lies nothing but a field and a country
road which starts off straight and level and very business-like only to
waver uncertainly a little distance away and then make a long curve up
a hill until it has reached the top of the plateau and is skirting the
fronts of the big buildings.

The school buildings are arranged in such a way that they form in
outline a letter J, the loop toward Greenburg and the straight part
facing the Sound. Clarke Hall is at the top. Then comes Whitson. Then,
forming the first curve, Oxford. Next is Merle and finally, supplying
the final twirl, the Kingdon Gymnasium. Back of Whitson and Clarke, and
having no part in the J, is Dudley Hall. This completes the list, save
for a heating plant tucked away near the gymnasium, and the boat house
on the river-bank.

If you stand on the steps of Oxford Hall you have a noble view before
you. In the immediate foreground there is a wide lawn, known as The
Prospect. Below and beyond are fields through which the road runs to
the village, a modest collection of some thirty or forty houses and
stores. Further beyond is the river, with the railroad bridge, the
wagon bridge and Loon Island for points of interest. Across the river
lies Greenburg, quite a city in appearance, her tall chimneys forever
spouting smoke. To your right, looking along the front of Oxford,
is field and wood, the river, and, beyond that, Meeker’s Marsh, a
mile-wide territory of reeds and rushes, streams and islands, where
there is good duck and plover and snipe shooting in season, or used to
be. There is a good-sized pond there, too; Marsh Lake they call it;
and if you have a canoe or a flat-bottomed boat and know the way you
can reach it from the river. In the far distance are wooded hills and
occasional farms.

Turning and facing the Sound you have in front of you a path which
leads straight across The Prospect, past the flag-pole, until, at
the edge of the plateau, it becomes a rustic bridge and crosses the
railroad. That bridge is a favorite lounging place, for you can look
right down into the funnels of the smoke-stacks as the engines whirr
by beneath you; that is, if you don’t mind a little smoke. The bridge
leads across the railroad cut and the path begins again, running down
hill now and parting to left and right at the edge of the woods. If
you go through the woods a few minutes’ walk will bring you to the
beach with the broad Sound before you. But from The Prospect the Sound
is well in view, for the woods and the village and the big Pennimore
estate, which fronts the Sound and river both, are all below you.
Almost due south those little specks of islands are The Plums. More to
the east that purple smudge on the horizon is the eastern end of Long
Island. I doubt if any school has a more wonderful outlook.

Yardley Hall School was founded in 1870 by Tobias Hewitt, M.A., Ph.D.,
Oxford. Then it was called Oxford School and there were only Oxford
and Whitson Halls. For a quarter of a century the Doctor did well
and the school flourished. But some fifteen years ago the Doctor met
reverses and the property, forty acres of land, and, by that time, four
buildings, passed into the hands of a stock company. The School was
renamed and the business reorganized, the Doctor retaining a sufficient
interest to give him an important voice in affairs. The new owners
spent a good deal of money. A fine gymnasium was built, a new athletic
field was laid out, the grounds were vastly improved, and, finally, in
1903 I think it was, Dudley Hall was erected. About the same time the
buildings, all save Dudley, were connected with each other by covered
colonnades, the gifts of graduates.

Of the buildings Oxford and Whitson are of granite, the former in
Gothic style and the latter without claims to any. In Oxford the
basement is given over to the chemical and physical laboratories and
store rooms. On the first floor are recitation rooms, the school
offices, and, at the eastern end, the Principal’s apartments. On the
second floor are recitation rooms and the library. The Assembly Hall is
on the third floor, as are the rooms of the rival debating societies,
the Oxford and the Cambridge. Whitson contains the kitchens and commons
downstairs and two floors of sleeping rooms above. Clarke is entirely a
dormitory, one of the new brick and limestone buildings put up in 1892,
Merle, erected in the same year, houses the students of the Preparatory
Class, for at Yardley there are five classes, First, Second, Third,
Fourth and Preparatory. It is in Merle that the Matron, Mrs. Ponder,
has her office. (Mrs. Ponder is popularly known as “Emily,” but no
disrespect is intended.) Dudley, the newest of the dormitories, is the
best in point of comfort, although its situation is not especially
desirable. In Dudley you can have a room all to yourself if you want
it, or you can go in with another boy and have a suite of study and
bedroom. The latter is the more popular way. Rooms in Dudley are
awarded first to the members of the graduating class and then, if there
are any left, to the Second Class boys.

Yardley is proud of its gymnasium, and justly so. When it was built, in
1895, it was the best preparatory school gymnasium in the country, and
even to-day few, I think, excel it. The basement floor is given over to
locker rooms, bath rooms and a commodious baseball cage. On the first
floor is the gymnasium, Physical Director’s office and bowling alley.
Above is the running track of twenty laps to the mile, the trophy room
and the boxing room. Four hours a week of physical exercise in the
gymnasium are required of all students save those engaged in active
sports as members of school or class teams. Mr. Bendix, the Physical
Director, is what the fellows call “a shark for work,” and there are
those who would never utter a regret if Indian clubs, chest weights,
dumb bells, single sticks, foils and boxing gloves suddenly disappeared
from their ken. But such fellows form a minority of the whole, you may
be sure.

If you take the path that leads down the slope toward the river from
the gymnasium you will see Yardley Field spread before you; six acres
of smooth ground leading with an imperceptible slope toward the river.
First come the gravel tennis courts an even dozen of them in the two
wire-netted enclosures. [The little red shed is where the nets are
stored.] Then you find yourself at the back of the grand stand, which,
built in sections of steel frame and wooden seats, can be moved as
desired from one part of the grounds to another. The track is a quarter
of a mile oval of hard, well-rolled cinders enclosing the gridiron and
diamond. If you skirt the track to the left you reach the boat-house, a
picturesque little building of weather-stained shingles about which ivy
and shrubbery grow.

Now follow the well-worn path along the river to the right until you
have reached the other end of the oval. That low expanse of grass and
rushes up-stream there, is Flat Island. It’s a joyous loafing place
in Spring before the mosquitoes begin business. To the right is the
golf links and in front of you is the Third Hole. There are only nine
of them and the course doubles back and forth perplexingly for the
newcomer. But it’s a pretty good course for all of that. The first tee
is up there on the hill, a little way back of the gymnasium and on the
edge of the woods; and there is a school legend to the effect that once
an “Old Boy,” visiting his son at Yardley, stood up there and drove
the ball clean into the river. And--well, I have nothing to say; you
can see the distance yourself. But I know that I wouldn’t like to have
to do it!

There’s a story at Yardley which tells how Doctor Tobias Hewitt, when
he came to this country from England to start a school, had, because
of his Oxford predilections, intended settling on the Thames River,
and how when he arrived there was a dense fog blowing in from the
Sound and he made a mistake in the rivers and didn’t discover his
error until it was too late. Then, so the story goes, he tried to have
the Wissining called the Thames and the Thames the Wissining; but the
State of Connecticut wouldn’t humor him. Of course the story was made
up only to illustrate the Doctor’s fondness for things English and,
more especially, Oxonian. And true it is that during the early days
of the school English customs were followed very closely. The Doctor
was Head Master then, the instructors were Masters, the classes were
“forms” and the dining hall was the “commons.” It is said that the
Doctor even tried to install the “fag” system among the boys and that
it went well enough until an unsympathetic youth from the free and
enlightened West mutinied. The effects of his mutiny were: item, a
disfigured nose for the boy whose fag he was supposed to be, and item,
an immediate declaration of independence from all other fags resulting
in a death-blow to the system. But all this was thirty years ago and
more, and to-day both Doctor Hewitt and his school are American to the
backbone, the Doctor rampantly so on occasions. To be sure, Oxford Hall
still holds its name and the dining hall is still known as commons;
the rival debating clubs clung to their original titles and the school
color had never been changed from dark blue. But these things merely
served to prove the school’s emancipation from the British yoke; and,
as for the school color, Yardley fellows will wither you with a glance
if you suggest any similarity in hue between it and the Oxford’s color,
informing you crushingly that it is “Yale blue.” Which, as Yardley
sends more students to Yale than to any other college, is as it should
be.



CHAPTER VI

“TUBBY” JONES SURRENDERS


Dan passed his examinations and was admitted to the Third Class, to
the very evident disappointment of Tubby. For the first few days, life
in 28 Clarke was not altogether peaceful. Study hours were observed
from eight to ten in the evenings. After eight no visiting was allowed
outside the building except by permission of the instructor in charge
and visiting inside the building was discouraged. But Tubby, who did
very little studying at best, always felt especially sociable between
eight o’clock and bedtime and liked to have his friends, notably Jake
Hiltz and another boy named Caspar Lowd, visit him. Hiltz and Lowd
appeared to find no more necessity for study than Tubby, and for
several nights they turned up at Number 28, together or separately.
This wasn’t conducive to concentration of thought on Dan’s part, and
Dan was desirous of staying in the Third Class now that he had got
there. He stood it for four nights and then mildly called Tubby’s
attention to the rules. Tubby was indignant.

“We don’t stop you from studying, do we?” he blustered. “Can’t I have
my friends in here if I want them? Is this room any more yours than
mine?”

“Of course it isn’t,” Dan answered, “but you know mighty well that I
can’t keep my mind on my books when you fellows are talking three feet
away from me!”

“Well, that isn’t our fault, is it?” asked Tubby with a grin. “You’ll
get used to it pretty soon. I can study anywhere.”

Dan wanted to ask him why he didn’t do it, but refrained. Instead--

“I have equal rights here with you, Jones,” he said. “I don’t have
fellows here in study hours, and you don’t have to, either.”

“You don’t know anybody,” Tubby retorted.

“And if I did I’d have some consideration for my room-mate,” Dan
replied tartly.

“Is that so? Well, maybe you think you can keep my friends out of here.
Do you?”

“Yes,” answered Dan shortly. “I do. And I’m going to.”

“How?” shouted Tubby angrily. Dan shrugged his shoulders.

“I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll have to go to Mr. Frye.” (Mr. Frye,
instructor in physics, lived on the first floor and was in charge of
the dormitory.) Tubby sputtered with indignation.

“I’d do that!” he cried. “I’d go and act the baby! You do and you’ll
see what the fellows think of you!”

“Who? Hiltz and Lowd, do you mean? I guess I can stand having them
think what they like.”

“Yes, and other fellows, too! They’d hear about it!”

“Yes, I guess you’d see to that,” answered Dan.

“Of course I would,” Tubby blustered, “if you carried tales to Noah.”
Mr. Frye’s first name was Noah, and by that name was he usually known.

“I don’t like carrying tales any more than you do,” Dan replied, “but
I intend to study in the evening, and I can’t do that if you have your
friends in here.”

“That’s just what I am going to do,” said Tubby. “There isn’t any rule,
anyhow, against visiting in study hours.”

“Well, you’re not supposed to do it often. Besides, there is a rule
against visiting outside the building, and that’s what Hiltz and Lowd
are doing.”

“They get permission, of course!”

“Oh, come now, Jones! You know Hiltz doesn’t get permission every
night. They wouldn’t give it to him four nights running.”

“Well, that’s not my affair,” growled Tubby. “He comes and I have a
right to let him in.”

Dan was silent a moment. Then--

“I tell you what I’ll do, Jones,” he said. “You let me study until nine
and I’ll let you give house-parties from nine until ten. How does that
suit you?”

“I’ll do as I like,” answered Tubby ungraciously.

“Then I’ll do as I like,” said Dan. “And if you have fellows up here
to-morrow night between eight and nine I’ll go to Frye and tell him I
can’t study.”

“Yah!” said Tubby.

Before this controversy, however, they had fallen out regarding the
airing of the room at night. Dan was for having the window on his side
of the room wide open, while Tubby declared that it was more fresh air
than his constitution would stand.

“I had grippe last winter,” he said. “And I’m susceptible to cold; the
doctor said so.”

“I don’t want you to catch cold,” said Dan, “but I can’t sleep with the
room closed up tight. I’ll get a screen and you can put it around the
head of your bed.”

“Don’t want a screen,” Tubby growled. “I don’t mind having your window
open a little, say two or three inches, but I can’t stand a draft,
and--”

“If you had more fresh air,” interrupted Dan impatiently, “you’d be a
lot better and wouldn’t look so much like the other side of a fried
egg!”

That, of course, didn’t help matters much, for Tubby got very red in
the face and fumed and sputtered--very much, as Dan reflected, like
the egg in the pan--and for the rest of the day the two boys didn’t
speak to each other. This didn’t bother Dan much, for he had never
found Tubby’s conversation very interesting. It was probably much more
of a hardship for Tubby, for that youth was very fond of talking and
seemed never happier than when well launched in a scathing criticism
of someone or some thing. That night Dan pushed his window half-way up
from the bottom and half-way down from the top. Then he put out the
light. Just as he was dropping off to sleep he heard Tubby’s bed creak
and Tubby’s bare feet on the floor. Then the window was closed very
softly. Dan grinned and waited until Tubby was safely in bed again.
Then he jumped up and slammed the window up from the bottom as far as
it would go. He returned to bed and waited. Tubby got up again, this
time walking into a corner of the study table and emitting a groan of
pain. Dan pulled the clothes over his face and chuckled. When Tubby was
once more between the sheets Dan again opened the window. After that
he laid awake for some time, waiting for a continuance of the contest,
but nothing happened and finally he fell asleep. But when he awoke in
the morning the room was close and warm and every window was tightly
shut. Only the transom into the hall was open. Tubby was smiling
triumphantly. Dan said nothing.

Gymnasium work came at half-past eleven and lasted until half-past
twelve four days in the week. To-day, however, Dan’s class didn’t meet
and so after a mathematics recitation at half-past ten he had two hours
before dinner time. He resolved to use a portion of the time in the
interests of hygiene. So he set out for the village in search of a
hardware store. He found the store, but not what he wanted to purchase.
He was told, however, that he could get it in Greenburg, across the
river. So he found the bridge and had soon covered the quarter of a
mile which lay between it and the business part of Greenburg. The town
proved to be quite a busy one and Dan found lots to interest him,
especially in the store windows. After he had made his purchase in the
hardware store he gave himself up to a veritable orgy of shopping.
He bought pencils and blue-books and tablets in a stationery store,
picture postcards and a glass of root-beer in a druggist’s, a dark blue
necktie in a haberdasher’s and a box of candy at a confectionery store.
Then he looked at his watch and discovered that he had barely time in
which to reach school before dinner. He did it, arriving at Oxford
much out of breath, just as the hands of the big clock in the stone
tower pointed to four minutes of one. Later he made the discovery that
luncheon was the one meal of the day at which tardiness was permitted,
the doors of commons remaining open until a quarter to two.

Tubby seemed to have recovered from his ill-humor and the dove of peace
perched itself in Number 28 Clarke. But when bedtime came the dove fled
precipitately, and probably out the window. For Dan’s last act was to
raise the lower sash and pull down the upper one. Then he produced a
small chain such as are used for dog leashes and tossed one end of it
over the tops of the sashes, bringing it back into the room underneath.
Where the ends came together he made them fast with a small padlock.
During this procedure Tubby, raised on his elbow in bed, watched
silently. Then Dan put out the light and crept between the sheets. He
hadn’t dared to so much as glance at Tubby for fear the expression on
that youth’s face would move him to laughter. But after he had got the
bed-clothes well over his head Dan chuckled to his heart’s content.
There was no necessity for staying awake, for Tubby might lower the
sashes or raise them to his heart’s content; whether up or down they
must stay together.

The next morning Tubby was inclined to be distant, and his only
conversational efforts were sniffs and snuffles designed to appraise
Dan that he had caught cold through exposure to the night air. But
Tubby’s cold didn’t last beyond breakfast.

For two more nights Dan used his chain and padlock. The third night he
left it off and opened the window only a foot at the top and a like
distance at the bottom. When he awoke in the morning it was just as he
had arranged it. Tubby had given up the struggle. And Dan won out in
the other affair as well, for, in spite of Tubby’s pretended disdain
for his room-mate’s ultimatum he was pretty certain that Dan would do
as he said he would, and it was part of Tubby’s philosophy never to
present himself to the notice of the instructors. So thereafter Hiltz
and Lowd, or (very occasionally) someone else, paid their visits to 28
after nine o’clock.

To Dan’s surprise these victories, instead of antagonizing Tubby
the more, seemed rather to increase his respect and liking for his
room-mate. Dan didn’t for one moment flatter himself that Tubby was
fond of him, for it seemed doubtful if Tubby was capable at that
period of being fond of anyone save himself; and Dan preferred that
he shouldn’t be. For Dan’s sentiments toward Tubby were a mixture of
tolerance and good-natured contempt, and a liking on Tubby’s part would
have been embarrassing. But they got on pretty well together after
these first skirmishes. Dan realized that Tubby’s companionship was
better than none. For so far, and Dan had been at Yardley six whole
days, he had made no friends and had but three or four acquaintances.
His preconceived ideas of Eastern boarding-school life were getting
some hard knocks.



CHAPTER VII

PAYSON, COACH


Those first six days were busy ones, yet Dan found plenty of time in
which to be homesick. I don’t mean that he wept or went around with a
long face; he was pretty nearly sixteen years of age, and, of course,
a chap when he gets to be that old has altogether too much pride to
act like a baby no matter how much he may feel like one. But on his
first and second days at Yardley he went for long walks along the
shore or struck inland along the river bank and thought a good deal
about Graystone and the folks there and wished heartily that he could
see them. The East and Yardley Hall in particular seemed to him then
a very lonely, unfriendly place, and the three months which stretched
ahead between the present and the Christmas recess looked interminable.
Once--it was a dull, cold afternoon with an unfamiliar salt tang in the
damp air--he even considered giving it up and going home. He had only
to get his bag from his room, walk to the station and take a train.
He had plenty of money for all expenses and he felt certain that his
father would forgive him even though he would be disappointed in him.
The knowledge that it was possible to cut and run at any moment was
comforting and reconciled him to remaining for awhile longer. Perhaps
he might manage to hang on until the recess. Then, once home, trust him
to stay there!

But on the third day, when as usual he started out in the afternoon
for a tramp, he suddenly discovered what he had not noticed on the
preceding days; that the Sound, aglitter in the afternoon sunlight,
dotted here and there with white sails and feathered with the trailing
blue smoke of distant steamers, was very beautiful; that the curving
shore, clothed in green turf and mellowing trees, edged with gray
boulders or warm white sand, was vastly pleasant; that the blue sky,
tranquil and summer-like, flecked here and there with streamers of
cottony clouds, looked kindly after all; that, in short, this eastern
world wasn’t so different from Ohio. He swung along that day with
a lighter heart, whistling as he went. He cut a stick from an old
willow that grew back from the shore and flourished it merrily. His
walk was a series of surprises. The shore curved and capered along the
edge of the Sound, revealing all sorts of interesting little coves
and nooks and promontories. Once a stone wall came straggling down a
hill across a meadow and wandered right out into the water like a bad
little boy insisting on getting his feet wet. Dan followed it out,
balancing himself on the big stones, and, at the end, jumping from one
to another until he stood precariously on the last one of all with the
blue sunlit water before him and around him. At a little distance a
sloop lay moored. The tide was well out and Dan believed that he could
reach it by wading. So he sat down and pulled off shoes and stockings
and rolled his trousers as high as they would go and started out. The
water was surprisingly warm and save that he once stepped into some
sort of a hole and went down until his trousers were wet, he reached
his goal without misadventure. The sloop was an old one, broad of beam
and snub of nose, and it wasn’t very clean. But Dan pulled himself
up onto the deck and dropped from there into the cockpit, where, the
tiller under his arm, he sat a long while and watched the sea and the
distant boats and made believe--for even at nearly sixteen one may
still make-believe--that he was asail.

After awhile he noticed that whereas he had begun by looking eastward
he was now looking in quite the opposite direction. That was strange!
But the mystery was soon solved. The tide was coming in again and
the sloop had swung around until her blunt nose was pointing straight
toward the open. Dan glanced toward the shore and the end of the stone
wall in dismay. Even as he looked a little wave crept up the side of
the last boulder and playfully lapped the toe of one of his stockings.
It was time for action. So he slipped over the side and found the water
almost to his hips. When he reached the stone and rescued his shoes and
stockings he was pretty wet. He went back up the wall and picked out a
nice warm spot to dry off in and there with his back to a comfortable
rock he spent another half hour, rousing himself at length to finish
dressing and go home. There was a good four miles between him and the
school, but he felt as though he could walk forty, and so, his willow
cane swinging, he stepped out briskly. For the first time since he had
reached school he was thoroughly glad just to be alive, to feel the
springy turf underfoot, the sun on his face and the little salty breeze
about him.

When he reached the turn of the path at the corner of Whitson he
remembered that down on the football field practice was going on. Until
now he had thought little about football. Before he had reached Yardley
he had entertained notions of trying for the team, but what Tubby and
Jake had told him had rather discouraged him; and besides that he had
seen some of the players and they were so much older and larger than
he that it seemed silly to offer his services; doubtless he would be
only laughed at. And then, too, he had been so low-spirited that sport,
even football, which of all sports held first place in his affections,
had failed to appeal to him. But to-day there was a change in his
spirits and he decided that he would go down to the field and look on
awhile. So he went, and as he passed along the front of Merle Hall a
nice-looking boy with a blue cap tucked rakishly on the back of his
head smiled and nodded to him, and Dan’s heart lightened still more. He
didn’t know who the boy was, couldn’t even recollect his face, but it
was nice to be noticed. Dan never became well acquainted with the youth
with the blue cap, but he always felt grateful to him for just that
little smiling nod which meant little to the giver but so much to Dan.

The tennis courts were all in use and the players, for the most part
white-clad, darted back and forth, to and fro, in a merry scene. Up
towards Flat Island two canoes, each manned by a pair of white-shirted
boys, were racing down with the tide, the paddles catching the sun as
they rose from the water. But the busiest scene was on the gridiron.
Dan sought a place along the side-line near the middle of the field and
looked on. There were fully sixty candidates in sight, and Dan noticed
hopefully that several of them were no older than he and no whit larger
nor stronger. Perhaps, after all, he reflected, he might stand a show.
If he could make a place with the scrubs it would be better than having
no football at all. He realized that when the frost came into the air
he would feel strangely lost of an afternoon were he not chasing a
pigskin over the yellowing grass.

At the farther end of the field a dozen candidates were punting and
catching. These were fellows trying for the backfield positions. An
awkward squad of a dozen or so more were falling on the ball. Then
there were four squads trotting about the gridiron learning the simpler
plays, each squad commanded by a hard-working quarter-back. No signals
were used. As one of the squads came abreast of Dan he heard the
quarter shout his directions:

“Left half between guard and tackle on his own side!”

Then the ball was passed, left half sprang forward, clutched the ball
and went stumbling through the line.

“What’s the matter?” cried an impatient voice. “Who is that man,
Watkins? Well, you’ll have to learn to keep your feet under you,
whoever you are. Try that again and let me see you hit the line as
though you meant it!”

Dan put the speaker down for Payson, the coach. He was a large,
broad-shouldered man of about thirty with a determined jaw and a pair
of quick, restless black eyes that seemed capable of seeing the whole
field at once. In weight he must have been nearly two hundred pounds,
but he had the height to carry the weight; and, besides, there was
an alertness about him and an easy manner of carriage that gave him
a suggestion of speed as well as weight and strength. In college--he
had played on both the Cornell and Yale teams--he had been known as
“Whopper” Payson, and that was in an age of big men, too. He had played
guard, and for one year full-back in those days, and there are plenty
of folks who remember his work in the Yale-Princeton game in his last
year at New Haven. At Yardley the older boys liked him well, but the
younger ones, and especially those who had failed to please him, called
him hard names, “bully,” “bear” and “big brute” were some of the more
popular ones. He was a hard taskmaster; Dan soon saw that for himself;
and he was impatient of shirking or awkwardness or stupidity. When he
spoke--and he was not a man who talked when he had nothing to say--he
said things in a quick, decisive manner that reminded one of cold steel.

There were a good many fellows at Yardley who believed that Payson
didn’t take enough trouble with new candidates, that every year he
missed good material for the reason that he was not willing to accord
a sufficient amount of patience to green players. There may have been
truth in this, yet, on the other hand, Payson, although he had failed
the preceding year, had managed during his four-year régime to turn out
two winning teams. There was his side of it, too.

“I can’t bother,” he said once, “to spend valuable time teaching the
rudiments of football to fellows who may never make good. I have only
eight weeks at the most to build my team, and I need every moment of
those eight weeks for perfecting. Let the novices learn how to handle
the ball on their class teams. Next year I’ll try them out. But a coach
can’t conduct a kindergarten and turn out a decent team in eight weeks.
Anyhow, I can’t.”

That was John Payson’s side of it, and doubtless there was a good deal
of sense in his contention.

Dan liked the coach’s looks very well on the whole. He seemed honest
and capable and dependable; above all dependable. He was just the sort
of a fellow, thought Dan, that one would want to find on the bridge of
a steamer when the rockets were soaring, and just the sort one would
be glad to find waiting on the side-line when you trotted off after
having been worsted in the first half of your Big Game. Dan approved
of Payson. That sounds rather presumptuous, to be sure, but in the
same way that a cat may look at a king, doubtless a candidate may pass
judgment on a coach.

It was a warm afternoon, and presently Andy Ryan, the trainer, a
brisk little, middle-aged Irishman with sandy hair, red face and a
pair of eyes as green as his own beloved emerald sod, sought out the
coach and secured the release of all candidates save a half-dozen or
so unfortunates who, having unwisely taken on unnecessary fat during
the summer, were doomed to two laps around the track. The others
trotted up the path to the gymnasium and showers, the little gallery
of spectators melted away, Andy busied himself with gathering the
footballs into the big canvas bag and Dan found himself practically
alone with the head coach. Payson was watching the little bunch of
players jogging along the cinders across the field, but he was thinking
of other matters, wondering, in fact, just how much recognition it
would be best to accord to this “new football” which was entering on
its second season. He had all of the old-style player’s contempt for
the new-fangled tricks like the forward pass and the on-side kick. Last
Fall the game with Broadwood had gone against him just by reason of
one of those same idiotic tricks, a forward pass, which, after having
been handled and dropped by most of the players of the two teams, had
been finally captured by a Broadwood tackle on Yardley’s five yards,
the tackle managing to fight his way across for a touchdown with the
entire playing force struggling about him like chips on the edge of a
maelstrom. Instead of accepting this as a vindication of the new game
Payson declared it the veriest fluke and added it to his arguments in
opposition.

“What science,” he demanded of Andy, “is there in throwing the ball
down the field for the whole bunch of players to claw at? What if you
do make it go once in ten times? or once in five times? Why, I dare
say I could kick a placement from the middle of the field as often as
that, but you wouldn’t call me anything but an idiot if I tried it!
The onside kick has some sense to it; it might be possible to develop
that into a scientific play, but this forward pass business--! Piffle!”
And Andy, who was still smarting over Yardley’s defeat, agreed
enthusiastically.

Still, Payson wasn’t blinding himself now to the fact that this same
forward pass had possibilities in the hands of a fast, well-drilled
team, and he would have given a good deal at this moment to have known
what Myers, the Broadwood coach, was planning. As far as Yardley was
concerned the new football would suit better than the old, for the
material was not the sort which promised a powerful attack. Well, he
would know better what to do in another week. Probably a mixture of old
football and new would be the safest campaign to prepare for. As he
turned his eyes encountered Dan’s and he presumed that the boy had been
waiting to speak to him.

“Well?” he demanded sharply.

Dan didn’t know whether he had intended speaking to the coach or not,
but the opportunity had presented itself and he decided to seize it.

“Is it too late to try for the team, sir?” he asked.

“No.” Payson’s gaze swept him from head to foot swiftly. “Ever played
before?”

“Yes, sir, three years.”

“Where?”

“At home on my grammar school team; Graystone, Ohio.”

“What position?”

“End.”

Payson’s face brightened.

“What do you weigh?”

“About a hundred and thirty-eight, I think.”

Payson’s face fell again.

“Can you run?”

“I think so, sir.”

“What’s your time for the hundred?”

“I never tried it.”

“Can you punt?”

“Pretty well.”

“Catch?”

“Yes, sir.”

“All right. See Ryan, get yourself examined by Mr. Bendix, and report
to me to-morrow.”

Payson nodded and turned away toward the gymnasium. Dan gave him
a start and then followed. Half way up the hill Payson heard the
footsteps behind him, turned and waited.

“Know much about this new football?” he asked as Dan joined him.

“We tried it last year, sir, and it went pretty well--sometimes.”

“Sometimes! Yes, I dare say.”

“I think we’d have done pretty well with it,” said Dan, “only we lost
our quarter in the middle of the season and I had to break in a new
man.”

“Oh, you were captain, were you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Sorry to hear it,” said Payson. “I never had a captain show up here to
me that amounted to a hill of beans. Think you could forget it in time?”

Dan flushed at the note of sarcasm in the coach’s voice.

“I don’t think it troubles me much,” he answered stiffly.

“Sounds as though it did,” said the coach dryly. “Still, you didn’t
start off your conversation with the announcement, and that’s
promising. What’s your opinion of the forward pass?”

Dan hesitated, rather taken aback. He wondered whether Payson
was mocking him, but a glance at the coach’s face dispelled that
supposition.

“I think,” answered Dan finally, “that it ought to be a good play this
year under the changed rules. Last year if the pass failed you lost the
ball, no matter what down it was, but this year on the first or second
downs you are penalized fifteen yards and keep the ball.”

“Yes, that makes it easier going,” said Payson. “But do you think that
the forward pass can be developed into a certain play?”

“No, sir, no more than any other play. It will be perfected a good deal
this year, I guess, but the defense will be perfected, too.”

“Do you think it can be developed to a point where you can depend on
its gaining once in two tries?”

“Yes, sir. I think it might be made to do better than that if you could
keep your opponent in the dark.”

“As how?”

“Well, of course I don’t pretend to know much about it,” said Dan with
a note of appeal in his voice. The coach nodded. “But it seems to me
that the best thing about the forward pass is its unexpectedness. It
ought to be made always from some regular formation, don’t you think
so, sir?”

Payson nodded again. They had reached the corner of the gymnasium now
and had halted in front of the steps.

“I--we tried it last year by having the quarter make the pass, but it
didn’t work. He had to run five yards and by that time the other team
was through on us enough to spoil the throw. Then we made it from a
kick formation and that worked better, although we lost about seven
yards at the start from throwing the ball from a position farther back
of the line. But it worked better, for the other fellows could never be
sure whether we were going to kick or pass.”

“But it gave them a chance to cover their backfield,” objected the
coach.

“Yes, sir, but toward the last of the season we’d all got so we were on
the lookout for forward passes whenever anything except close formation
was used by the opponent.”

“I suppose so. Well, we will have to try the crazy play ourselves
this year, I suppose. You seem to be able to use your brain, my boy,
so study this forward pass business up. See what you can contrive for
attack and defense. Come and see me some time. By the way, what did you
say your name is?”

Dan hadn’t said, but he forbore to mention the fact.

“Vinton, sir; I’m in the Third Class.”

“Vinton, eh? Sounds like an automobile, doesn’t it?” The coach
absolutely smiled, which so surprised Dan that he hadn’t the presence
of mind to smile back. When he had recovered himself the big oaken door
was swinging shut behind the coach’s broad shoulders.

Dan crossed the colonnade between the gymnasium and Merle Hall and
cut through the Yard. It was getting well toward twilight and the
old stone sun-dial cast a long purple shadow across the turf. Some of
the windows were still open in Dudley and Whitson and Clarke, and Dan
caught glimpses of groups of fellows at the casements. But this evening
the sight neither made him depressed nor envious. At last someone had
recognized his existence, someone who counted. Dan climbed the stairs
of Clarke with a light heart and when he reached the door of Number 28
flung it open with a bang, for all the world as though he was a person
of importance!

Tubby Jones was sprawled Turk-fashion on his bed, with his own pillows
and Dan’s at his back, reading a novel. He looked up in scowling
bewilderment.

“What do you want to do?” he gasped. “Knock the building to pieces?”
Dan laughed gayly as he tossed his cap onto the window-seat.

“If I do,” he answered, “I’ll build a new one and a better one, and
I’ll call it Vinton Hall. And I’ll see that you have half a dozen
pillows of your own, Jones, so that you won’t have to use these two,
which--” Here he deprived Tubby of half his support, sending him
rolling against the wall like a football--“happen to belong to me, my
friend.”

“I wasn’t hurting them,” declared Tubby in injured tones.

“Oh, no, just getting them nice and dirty,” answered Dan as he threw
the pillows onto his own bed, “and--Hello, you’ve been eating that
messy popcorn again! It’s all over the shop. Jones, do you know you’re
an awful little fat pig? You ought to have a sty of your own, you
really ought!”

“Look here, Vinton--” began Tubby wrathfully.

But Dan strode over to Tubby’s bedside and with his hands in his
pockets viewed the recumbent one with a broad smile.

“Jones,” he announced, “if I hear one tiny little grunt from you, one
fretful squeal, I’ll turn you over and paddle you with your own tennis
racket!”

And Tubby was so amazed at the sudden transformation of his sober,
taciturn room-mate that he could merely gasp open-mouthed until it was
too late for a suitable reply. So he relapsed into a silent condition
of wounded dignity, while Dan raked his football togs out of the closet
and examined them closely, whistling merrily the while.



CHAPTER VIII

DAN JOINS THE FOOTBALL SQUAD


The next afternoon at four o’clock Dan joined the throng of candidates
in the big locker room in the basement of the gymnasium. He had been
examined that forenoon by Mr. Bendix, had been put through strength
tests, had been measured and at last presented with a chart which
showed his size, strength and development in comparison with a normal
youth of his age. He passed well and received official permission to
play football. “Your chest, abdomen and upper-arm muscles are very well
developed,” Mr. Bendix had told him, “but the lower part of your body
seems to have been neglected. But we’ll fix that for you.”

Then Dan had given his name to Andy Ryan and been welcomed like a
long-lost son. “Sure, you’re a well-made lad,” declared Andy, “and
we’ll find a place for you, never fear. End, is it? Well, why not?
Faith, it’s ends we need, I’m thinking. This new-fangled football is
just the game for the lightweights like you. Just you take hold right,
Mr. Vinton, and we’ll make a real football player out of you.”

This was all very encouraging, but Dan had a suspicion that Andy talked
just that way to every new candidate. At a little after four he trotted
down to the field with the others, looking very trim and fit in his
new khaki trousers and faded, battle-scarred brown sweater. If he had
expected any especial consideration from the coach he was disappointed.
When he reported Mr. Payson looked at him silently for an instant and
then asked:

“What’s the name?”

“Vinton, sir.”

The coach pulled a little memorandum book from his pocket and entered
it.

“Let me see, you are trying for quarter?”

“No, sir, end.”

“Been examined?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well. Go down there and report to Captain Colton.”

Dan turned away a trifle chagrined. Payson had forgotten all about him
since yesterday! But he hadn’t gone far when the coach summoned him
back.

“Ever played before, Vinton?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, three years.”

“Well?”

“Sir?”

“Is that all? Nothing else you want to tell me?”

“No, sir.”

“Glad to hear it. We haven’t any use for stars here. Tell Mr. Colton I
sent you.”

Dan smiled as he trotted away. Payson had laid a trap for him and he
had escaped it. He wondered what Payson would have said if he had
mentioned his captaincy again. Something pretty tart, he was certain of
that! The coach hadn’t forgotten him, after all, and Dan took comfort
from that knowledge.

Oliver Colton, the captain, was a strapping big fellow of nineteen,
a fine football player, a good all-around athlete and an excellent
student besides. Yardley Hall was proud of Colton. He had been Honor
Man for the last two years, held the school records for the broad-jump
and the hammer, was a good pitcher, batted around three hundred and,
above all, was one of the best guards that had ever played on a Yardley
eleven. He was good-looking, with rather curly brown hair and such soft
eyes of the same color that one would never have suspected him of being
the hard, aggressive player he was. His voice, too, was soft, and he
had a way of making a command sound like the most courteous request.
And yet the fellows who knew Colton jumped just as quickly at his voice
as at Payson’s. When Dan found him he had two lines of forwards under
instruction in breaking through and blocking, and Dan had to stand by
for a moment until the big chap was at leisure.

“That’s better, Hadlock,” said Colton as the lines disentangled
themselves. “But you must keep your back down, you know. Don’t double
yourself up like a pair of scissors. Maybe you think you can play a
_slashing_ game that way, but you can’t.”

The panting players laughed at the pleasantry as they took their places
again, and Dan claimed the captain’s attention.

“Mr. Payson told me to report to you,” he said. “I’m trying for end. My
name’s Vinton.”

“Glad to see you out,” answered Colton with a genial smile as he shook
hands. “We need good ends this year, and if you’re quick enough to
make up for your lack of weight you ought to make good. Know the rules
pretty well, do you, Vinton?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Well, it won’t do any harm to study them a bit more. If you haven’t a
rule book you’d better get one. There’s a quiz on the rules to-night
in the trophy room. Better polish up this afternoon. Now you go over
there where you see those chaps and join them. Played before, have you?”

“Yes, on my grammar school team.”

“That’s good. Buckle down to it, for we may need you badly before long.”

He nodded pleasantly and turned back to his charges, and Dan walked
across the field and joined a ring of candidates who were falling on
the ball. It was the awkward squad, but Dan didn’t mind that; he didn’t
mean to stay there very long. Later there was practice in starting and
running down under kicks, and when practice was over Dan was quite
ready to quit work. When he stepped out of the shower, glowing from
head to foot, he bumped against Alfred Loring, who, with a big bath
towel clutched about him, was talking over his shoulder to another chap.

“Beg pardon,” exclaimed Loring. “Hello, are you with us? Glad to see
you. What are you trying for?”

“End,” answered Dan.

“Good work! Played there, have you?”

“Yes, a couple of years. But I guess I’m too light for the team here.”

Loring stepped back, put his head on one side and looked Dan over.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “What’s your weight?”

“A hundred and thirty-six, but I suppose some of that will come off.”

“Well, I only weigh a hundred and forty-four myself,” said Loring
encouragingly. “And you look fast. Hope you’ll make it.” Then he
disappeared into the bath and a blood-curdling yell and a bath towel
floated out at the same instant.

Dan went back to his room that afternoon feeling as though he had
found himself again. Tubby, as usual, was curled up on his bed reading
something that didn’t look like a text-book, but this evening he hadn’t
borrowed Dan’s pillows.

“Well, I suppose everyone was tickled to death to see you,” he said
sarcastically. “Had a brass band out, I dare say, to welcome you.”

“Tubby, you’re a cynic,” answered Dan good-naturedly. He hadn’t meant
to address Tubby by his nickname; it came out without thought. Tubby
looked surprised, was secretly pleased and made believe that he didn’t
relish the familiarity.

“I don’t call you Dan, do I?” he growled.

“Oh, you can if you like,” was the answer. “It’s shorter than Vinton,
and as we’re destined to see a good deal of each other for awhile you
might as well take things easy. I shall call you Tubby, anyway. It fits
you like a coat.”

“Go to thunder,” muttered Tubby, returning again to his book. Dan
laughed cheerfully.

“Tubby,” he said, “to judge by your manner sometimes one would almost
think you bad-tempered.”

Silent contempt on the part of Tubby Jones.

When Dan entered the trophy room in the gymnasium at a few minutes
before seven he found the room already well filled. At least half a
dozen fellows nodded to him, Alf Loring amongst the number, and Dan was
secretly much elated. There followed a short talk by Payson on the new
rules and then the “quiz” began. Some of the questions were not easy to
answer:

_What happens when a legal forward pass crosses the goal line on the
fly without being touched by a player? When the same ball has been
legally touched by a player?_

_When is a player of the side which has kicked the ball put on-side?_

_Is tackling below the knees illegal for all players? And, if not, what
are the exceptions?_

_What is the penalty for holding or unlawful use of hands or arms when
the offending side has the ball? When the offending side is not in
possession of the ball?_

_What is the signal for a fair catch? What is the penalty for
interference with a fair catch?_

If marks had been awarded I doubt if many of the fellows would have
received an A. At a few minutes before eight they were dismissed
with the advice to study the rules. Dan obeyed the instructions so
implicitly that when ten o’clock came he found that he hadn’t so much
as glanced at his lessons for the morrow. So he burned the midnight
oil, greatly to Tubby’s disgust, and got Cæsar’s Gallic War so mixed
with the football rules that he might just as well have gone to bed at
ten.

A few days later Dan awoke one morning to find the sunlight streaming
into the room, to feel the crisp air of a frosty October morning
blowing in through the window and to realize that, should the
traditional fairy princess appear on the scene ready to transport him
with a dip of her wand to any place in the world he would choose to
stay just where he was. He lay there with his knees hunched up, the
sunlight glaring on the white spread, and smiled at the knot in the
left-hand upper panel of his closet door. The knot and he were getting
to be pretty good friends. When he awoke in the morning the knot was
always the first thing to meet his gaze, and of late it had seemed to
have a welcome for him. There is a lot of expression in a knot if you
look at it a long time, and sort of half close your eyes and--and--

Dan gave a start. He had almost gone to sleep again. That wouldn’t do,
for it must be fully time to get up. He raised himself on his elbow
and looked at the watch in his vest pocket. Then he gave a grunt of
satisfaction and tumbled back on the pillow. There was a good ten
minutes yet. Across the room Tubby was represented by a round mound
under the bed clothes. Not an inch of him was showing, for Tubby slept
with his head under the covers to guard against those drafts which
were forever troubling him. Dan put his hands under his head, stared
contentedly at the knot in the closet door and went through the day in
anticipation.

Chapel at half-past seven in Assembly Hall, the fellows sitting by
classes on the old, knife-scarred benches, and “Old Toby,” as the
principal was called, reading from the Bible in his pleasant, mellow,
English voice; afterwards an invocation by Mr. Collins or Mr. Frye,
the boys joining together at the end in the Lord’s Prayer; then
announcements by Mr. Collins, the singing of a hymn and a decorous exit
as far as the door turning to a wild, riotous stampede down the two
flights of stairs.

Breakfast at eight; a good breakfast, too--all the milk you wanted to
drink, or coffee or cocoa; steak or chops or eggs and bacon, with big
steaming-hot baked potatoes and toast or rolls. Dan’s expression grew
beatific. He had his regular place in commons now, and if all went well
he would go to one of the football training tables in a week or so. He
didn’t know any of the fellows at his table very well yet, but he was
becoming better acquainted every day. The chap at his left--his name
was Paul Rand--kept a jar of orange marmalade and was very generous
with it. Dan rather liked Rand--or the marmalade; he wasn’t certain
which.

At nine o’clock there was a Latin recitation in Oxford G, with
Mr. Collins. Dan wasn’t awfully fond of Latin, but he accepted it
philosophically as a necessary evil. French was better. That came at
half-past nine. The instructor was Mr. von Groll, a great favorite
with the fellows. He was just out of college, an Amherst A.B., and
hadn’t yet forgotten what it was to be a boy. After French there was a
half-hour in which to brush up on math. And it was a pretty good thing
to brush up on, as Dan had already learned. For Mr. McIntyre--“Kilts”
was his popular name--was pretty severe. “Kilts” wasn’t very well
liked; there was a general idea prevalent that he had long since
forgotten the first two letters of the alphabet; anyhow, it was an
event in school when he awarded a B to anyone, while as for an A!
Tradition had it that he had never marked a student with an A but once,
and that it so upset him that he was ill for a week.

In the school catalogue he figured as Angus McIntyre, A.A., Edinburgh.
That “A.A.,” which really stood for Associate of Arts, was variously
interpreted by the boys as “Almost Anything,” “Abominable Algebra”
and “Acrimonious Angus.” They said he had tacked so many A’s onto his
name that he had none left for his pupils. In age he was somewhere
about fifty, tall, lean, smooth-shaven, with a shock of iron-gray
hair and piercing, deep-set eyes. Yardley didn’t love Kilts, but at
the same time it was proud of him. He had written numerous books on
higher mathematics, and, as one of his students had said in a moment
of grudging admiration, “could take Euclid by the back of the neck and
shake the change out of his trousers.” So far Dan had got along pretty
well with Kilts.

After mathematics there was nothing to do to-day until dinner time,
unless he was wise enough to study. At two there was English with Mr.
Gaddis, a big, bullet-headed, good-natured man of thirty-six who would
have looked more at home on the football field than in the class room.
Old Tige was the name awarded him, probably because of a likeness to an
unlovely, kind-dispositioned bulldog. The fellows liked Old Tige, even
while they made fun of him; and there was no doubt about his ability as
an instructor of the English Language.

At four came football practice. Dan’s heart warmed at the thought
of it. He was getting on down there on the field, was Dan. Already
he had been accepted as a possibility at end. That didn’t mean a
great deal, for early-season possibilities often become late-season
impossibilities, but Dan was encouraged and was doing his level best to
make good. He had plenty of speed, followed the ball as a cat follows
a mouse, and barring lack of weight, seemed to have the making of an
ideal end. And whether he made the team or not, he was having a lot
of good fun out of it and, better yet, was making acquaintances and
friends. He knew lots and lots of fellows well enough to speak to now,
while several had asked him to their rooms. He hadn’t gone yet, but
he meant to. Alf Loring was very friendly, but Dan didn’t seem to get
very far with him. He was sorry, too, for he liked Loring thoroughly,
liked him better than ever since he had seen him run the first team
in the scrimmages with which the practice ended nowadays. Loring was
a wonderful quarter-back; there was no doubt about that. Dan wished
that he might know him better. But Alf Loring was one of the popular
fellows in school and doubtless had as many friends now as he wanted,
Dan reflected. Perhaps in time--. Well, meanwhile there was his fidus
Achates, Tubby Jones. Dan looked across at Tubby’s inert form and
smiled.

After practice came a jolly half-hour in the gymnasium, while the
fellows took their showers, dressed and talked over the day’s events.
Then supper and a clear hour of loafing; only to-night was letter night
for Dan, and letter writing would take the place of a loaf. Then study
from eight to nine or half-past, or, in case Tubby’s friends didn’t
happen in, until ten. And then bed again. A busy day, but a happy one,
thought Dan.

But now the knot on the closet door was looking back at him warningly
and Dan, his thoughts returning at a bound to the present, leaped out
of bed, shut the window and called to Tubby.

“Seven o’clock and past, Tubby! You’ll be late for Chapel!”

“Don’t care if I am,” growled Tubby.



CHAPTER IX

THE FIRST GAME


“Say, you got stung, didn’t you?” asked Tubby with a grin of delight.

“How?” questioned Dan. Tubby pointed to the copy of the _Yardley
Scholiast_ which Dan held.

“Didn’t you subscribe?”

“Yes; why not?”

“You must want to waste your money, that’s all,” sneered Tubby. “The
_Scholiast_ never has anything in it. I wouldn’t give fifty cents a
year for it; and they stick you two and a half. But they never got me.
What’s the good? If there’s anything in it I want to read I go to the
library for it.”

“But it seems to me,” answered Dan, “that it’s a mighty good sheet for
a school paper; well printed, well written and pretty newsy.”

“They’ve got a better one at Broadwood,” replied Tubby. “Theirs is a
fortnightly called the _Portfolio_; it’s a dandy.”

“Say, Tubby, why the dickens didn’t you go to Broadwood instead of
coming here?” asked Dan impatiently. “You’re always cracking Broadwood
up and running Yardley down. You make me weary, Tubby.”

“Huh!” said Tubby. “I wish I had. My dad wouldn’t let me; he went here
himself; they used to call it Oxford School then. I’d go to Broadwood
in a minute if he’d let me.”

“Well, any time you want to change, Tubby,” said Dan wearily, “I’ll do
what I can to help.”

Tubby scowled deeply.

“Want the room to yourself, I suppose,” he said. “Well, you won’t get
it. I’ll stay here as long as I like!”

Dan made no answer, but took up the school weekly again and continued
the article he had been reading when Tubby entered. It was a criticism
of the football material, which, declared the _Scholiast_, was well up
to the average.

    “Of the men who played on last year’s team five are eligible
    this Fall. These are Captain Colton, guard; Hill, center;
    Mitchell, tackle; Loring, quarter, and Kapenhysen, full-back.
    There are consequently but six places to fill and there seems
    a wealth of material to choose from. The center and right side
    of the line will be as it was last season, barring accidents.
    Hill at center, while not heavy, is very aggressive and fast
    and is a veteran player. Captain Colton, at right guard,
    is one of the best line-men representing the Blue in recent
    years. He has weight, speed and aggressiveness and last year
    more than held his own against every opponent he faced. He
    uses his head every moment of the time and opens holes well.
    Mitchell, at right tackle, went into the Broadwood game last
    Autumn at almost a moment’s notice and, in spite of lack of
    training and experience, played his position capitally. This
    season, with the proper attention, he should show up as one
    of the best on the team. On the left of center the positions
    of guard and tackle are to be filled. For guard, Hadlock, who
    played on the second team last year, seems the most promising.
    Ridge, a substitute last year, plays a good game. There are
    also Smith and Merriwell, both of whom did excellent work on
    the Second Class Team last Fall. Folwell, who ran a close race
    with Poole a year ago for the position of left tackle, seems
    the natural selection for the place this season, but he has
    been ill this summer and so may not be able to make good. Other
    possible candidates for that position are Coke and Little. The
    end positions will probably prove troublesome to the coach.
    The material looks good but is practically inexperienced, if
    we except Dickenson, who substituted last year in one or two
    games. Norton, Williams and Sayer played on the Second last
    year with varying success. Williams is a fast man for his size
    and gets down the field well, but his tackling is usually
    uncertain and indecisive.

    “At quarter Loring, who held the position last year and put
    up a star game against Broadwood, is first choice. In fact,
    his closest competitor, Clapp, is hardly in the same class.
    Loring is in many ways an ideal quarter. He plays fast, is well
    grounded in the rudiments of the game and handles his team
    excellently. He uses his head on all occasions, and it was this
    fact that enabled him to stave off defeat twice last year in
    the Broadwood game. Two new half-backs will have to be found,
    but it is likely that Connor and Capes will start the season,
    with Dyer and Roeder pushing them hard for the honors. Connor
    is a fast man in a broken field and is hard to stop. Capes
    hits the line hard and keeps his feet well. He can usually be
    depended on for short gains through the line, and although
    not brilliant is a steady, dependable player. At full-back
    Kapenhysen is head and shoulders above all competitors at
    present. He is a veteran of two seasons, having been First
    Team substitute in 1905 and regular full-back last year. He is
    one of the cleverest players on the team, a hard worker and a
    brilliant performer in close formation plays. As a punter he
    is one of the best on the school gridirons, and he will be
    depended on for long kicks, Loring sharing the work when short
    punts are wanted.

    “Besides the material mentioned there is the usual supply
    of green men who may develop into First Team candidates. At
    present only two have shown any great possibilities. Of these
    Sommers, who has entered the Second Class, and who played with
    Myrtledale High School last year, is a candidate for tackle and
    may make good before the season is over. Vinton, a Third Class
    man, played on his grammar school team last year at end. He
    is very fast and follows the ball closely. If he carried more
    weight his chance of making the First Team would seem excellent.

    “On the whole our team promises this year to be quite up to the
    average, and distinctly better than the eleven which held the
    fast Broadwood team to a single score last year. In Mr. Payson
    the school has a fine coach. During his four years with us he
    had turned out two winning teams, while, all things considered,
    last year’s contest was more of a victory than a defeat. Mr.
    Payson may rest assured that Yardley Hall will support him and
    the team enthusiastically and do its share toward securing a
    victory over its old rival, Broadwood Academy. The first game
    of the season takes place to-morrow on Yardley Field with
    Greenburg High School. A hard contest is not looked for. Last
    year Yardley won 24--4, and this year the score should be no
    closer. The game, however, will give the school its first
    opportunity to see the 1907 team in action, and all who are
    able to do so should attend to-morrow’s game.

    “The schedule is as follows. Unless otherwise specified the
    game will be played here.
        Oct. 5. Greenburg High School.
        Oct. 12. Forest Hill School.
        Oct. 19. St. John’s Academy.
        Oct. 26. Carrel’s School at East Point.
        Nov. 2. Porter Institute.
        Nov. 9. Brewer A. A. at Brewer.
        Nov. 16. Nordham Academy.
        Nov. 23. Broadwood Academy.”

Dan would have been less--or more--than human had he not read the few
lines relating to himself several times. In the end, but this was not
until Tubby had wandered away in search of a new book to read, he cut
that part of the article out and stowed it away in a corner of his
pocketbook. And next day he bought an extra copy of the _Scholiast_,
marked the place modestly and mailed the paper home.

The game with Greenburg was played with the thermometer well up toward
seventy degrees and was a slow and stupid performance. Yardley put
in twenty-six men before the game was over. Dan, who saw it from the
side-line, believed ruefully that he was the only player who didn’t get
in. A blocked kick gave Greenburg a safety in the first few minutes
of play, but after that the high school was never dangerous. In one
fifteen and one twelve-minute half Yardley managed to pile up twenty
points. In each case Kapenhysen missed goal. The playing was very
ragged and slow, and the warmth of the day was undoubtedly responsible
for much of this. Greenburg, having repeated her last year’s feat and
scored, went away as happy as larks, and the Yardley players trailed
tiredly back to the gymnasium unable to think of anything to be proud
of. Payson had little to say, but he looked unusually sober and seemed
to be doing a good deal of thinking. One of the things he was thinking
was this: If Greenburg had been clever at forward passing and a little
shiftier all around what would the score have been? As it was the high
school had tried the forward pass but once in each half. The first
time she had recovered the ball almost without opposition only to lose
it on a fumble the next instant. The second time the throw had been
poor and the ball had struck the ground without being touched. Payson
couldn’t deny the fact that the outlook for the game with Forest Hill
School next Saturday was depressing. Forest Hill always gave Yardley a
hard struggle and always knew a lot of football. This year she would
probably come to Wissining with a whole pack of new tricks to try out.
Of course defeat at the hands of Forest Hill would be a small matter
enough, and something that had happened before, though not often. But
Payson feared that a defeat coming now at the beginning of the season,
and especially a defeat encompassed by this “new football” of which
Yardley knew little, would prove a discouragement to his charges. He
decided that before next Saturday the team should be drilled to some
extent in a defense to meet the forward pass.

After supper that evening Payson settled himself in front of the table
in his little sitting-room in the village and did some studying. At his
elbow lay a thick scrap-book of newspaper and magazine clippings and
a number of small memorandum books, while in front of him was a small
blackboard, some thirty inches long and correspondingly wide, ruled
with white painted lines into the likeness of a miniature football
field. On it were placed twenty-two little disks of wood, eleven of
them blue and eleven green, each lettered on top, “L.E.,” “L.G.,”
“R.H.,” “Q.,” and so on, each representing a player. With these
imaginary men on his imaginary gridiron Payson figured out most of his
plays and solved his problems. To-night he arranged and rearranged his
little blue and green disks over and over, traced queer lines on the
blackboard with a piece of chalk and made copious notes on a sheet of
paper. But when bedtime came he put aside his playthings with a dubious
shake of his head and a dissatisfied frown.

There was light work on the field Monday afternoon, but in the trophy
room that evening there was a blackboard lecture that filled every
minute of the hour at the coach’s disposal. Two kinds of forward passes
were illustrated on the blackboard, the “bunch” pass with three backs
and one end going down and forming a group to receive the ball, and the
“one man” pass in which the backfield fakes to one side and the ball is
thrown to an end who has gone through unnoticed at the other side. Next
Payson showed how poorly prepared a team would be to cope with either
of these plays from ordinary defense formation. In ordinary formation
Yardley played her quarter some thirty yards up the field, the rest of
the backs reinforcing the line some three yards behind it.

“You can see that this formation,” explained Payson as he sketched it
on the board, “won’t work against a forward pass. We’ve got to have a
special formation for this play. Here’s one we will try out to-morrow.
Left half and quarter split the field, back about thirty yards, as for
a punt. Right half and full drop back fifteen yards at each end of the
line. To-morrow the second eleven will try the forward pass and the
first will see what they can do against it from this formation.”

During the rest of the week the second eleven was drilled in the
forward pass and the first was coached in defense during a portion
of each practice. By Friday the first team had learned the first
principles, at least, of defense on this play, and Payson’s fears of a
disastrous overthrow at the hands of Forest Hall had somewhat subsided.
He was not yet ready to teach the forward pass to the first; it was to
rely on ordinary football for another fortnight.

Forest Hill’s eleven proved to be light, fast and brainy. In the first
ten minutes of play it simply swept Yardley off its feet and did about
as it wanted to, scoring twice as the result of the new football which
Payson so despised. In that first ten minutes Forest Hill tried the
forward pass seven times and made it go every time but twice. One
of her gains was over fifty yards and several netted from twenty to
thirty. The new defense formation was all right, the weakness was
with the Yardley players who allowed themselves to be fooled time and
again. Forest Hill made her passes from almost every sort of formation
and Yardley was kept guessing every instant. Never once did she recover
the ball on the opponent’s passes, Forest Hill’s two failures resulting
because the ball struck the ground without being touched. Forest Hill
obligingly missed both goals, thus leaving the score at 10 to 0.

Loring, realizing that the only way to prevent another score in that
half was to keep the ball out of Forest Hill’s hands, went to work
with his backs and plugged away at small gains through the opponent’s
line, using up all the time possible and finally, after taking the
ball the length of the field, was held for downs on the opponent’s
eight yards. Forest Hill kicked from behind her goal and Colton nabbed
the ball on the enemy’s thirty-five yard line. But before the teams
could line up again the whistle sounded. Yardley trotted off the field
with sensations of vast relief, while Forest Hill got together on the
side line and planned new atrocities to spring in the next half on an
apparently helpless opponent. Up in the gymnasium Andy and Paddy, the
latter trainer’s assistant and rubber, were busy with witch hazel,
arnica and liniment, bandages and surgeon’s plaster. There were no
serious injuries; just a strained wrist here, a twisted ankle there,
contusions all about. Oliver Colton, stretched at full length on a
bench, with Paddy Forbes, the rubber, hard at work on his left knee,
spoke to Alf Loring who was seated behind him viewing approvingly a
nice clean strip of adhesive plaster about his wrist.

“What’s the matter with us, Alf?” asked Colton anxiously.

“Matter?” was the reply. “Nothing, except that we’re up against a team
that knows a kind of football we don’t.”

“Well, we ought to have scored down there inside their ten yards, just
the same,” said Colton.

“Yes, and we’ll do it next time. That was on me, I guess, Ollie. I
should have given the ball to Kap.”

“It was on all of us. But this half we’ve got to score twice.”

“Fifteen minutes, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Where’s Mr. Payson?”

“Over there.” Alf nodded across the room.

“I want to see him. That’s enough, Paddy, thanks.” Colton pulled
himself up and limped across to where the coach was talking earnestly
to the two ends, Williams and Dickenson. Alf watched him a moment and
then turned to the fellow beside him.

“Hello, Vinton,” he said. “What did you think of it?”

“Sort of disgusting,” answered Dan. “We’ve got to keep the ball away
from them this half or they’ll score again.”

“That’s right. Well, it’s their kick-off. You going to get in this
half?” Dan shook his head.

“I guess not,” he answered. “Williams and Dickenson did pretty good
work, didn’t they?”

“I guess so; Dickenson did, anyway. But they got fooled on those
forward passes every time.”

“All right, fellows,” called Mr. Payson. Silence followed. “We’re
going to change our defense a little this half and I expect it to work
better. On every formation that Forest Hill tries except an ordinary
close formation, with their backs close up, I want you to open out
your line. Guards will play two yards from center, tackles three yards
from guards and ends five yards from tackles. Understand?” He repeated
the directions. “It will be tackle’s place to get through and spoil
the pass if possible, and the end will put out the opposing end, crowd
him into the center of the field. Quarter and left half will play five
yards nearer in than they’ve been playing. We’re going to kick this
half until we get inside their twenty-five yards. Then I expect the
ball to go over on straight plays. We want three scores. All right.
Loring, I want to see you a moment.”

Forest Hill kicked off and Loring caught the ball on his twenty yards
and started off with it. He covered ten yards and then, as the enemy
closed in upon him, he passed the ball back to Kapenhysen, who caught
it neatly, let up on his pace and punted far down the field. Forest
Hill was caught napping and the ball went over the heads of her backs.
Her quarter turned quickly and raced after the sphere, which had
struck on his thirty-five yard line, and was now bouncing erratically
toward the goal. The Forest Hill right half was close behind him, but
Williams, the Yardley left end, had streaked down the field and was
ready to take a hand in the fun. A cry of warning from the Forest Hill
half went up as Williams shouldered him aside. The quarter dove for
the ball and Williams dove for the quarter. The next instant he had
snuggled the pigskin under his arm and was trying to find his feet
again, with the Forest Hill quarter holding him by the left leg. Then
the half crushed down on top of the invader and the ball was down on
Forest Hill’s twenty-four yards.

Forest Hill arose nobly to the demands of the occasion, but she was
plainly bewildered by the sudden turning of the tables and Yardley was
not to be denied. Loring sent Capes against the center for four yards
and Dyer on a cross-buck outside of tackle for seven more. Kapenhysen
punched a hole through left guard for two yards and Capes followed him
for four more. With four to go on the third down the prospect looked
dubious, but on a tandem attack at center with the whole back-field
pushing, Capes kept his feet until he had been shoved through for the
required distance. The ball was on the three yards and it was first
down. Kapenhysen made a scant yard on the first try, but on the next
attempt went over, broke away from the enemy, and romped around back of
goal. Loring kicked an easy goal. The score was 10--6, and only four
minutes had elapsed.

On the kick-off Forest Hill captured the ball on her ten yards and
brought it back to her twenty-two. On an ordinary formation two plunges
inside of right tackle netted her nine yards. But a third attempt in
the same place was a failure and the ball changed hands. Loring tried
a quarter-back kick, which was recovered by the enemy on her ten-yard
line. Her full-back went back apparently for a punt, but Yardley was
suspicious and opened her line. The ball went back and a forward pass
came hurtling down the field. Dickenson kept Forest Hill’s right end
out of the play, but the ball was luckily recovered by a Forest Hill
forward after having been fumbled by Folwell of Yardley. This netted
the enemy twenty yards and more. Another pass on the other side of the
line found no one awaiting it and Forest Hill was set back fifteen
yards. Again the kick formation was used and again the ball was thrown
forward by the full-back. It was intended for a “bunch” pass, but
Yardley broke up the gathering and the ball plumped into the arms of
her right tackle.

Yardley kicked and again Forest Hill started back up the field. But
now she saw that the forward pass could no longer be relied upon with
certainty. So she started running the ends, but made little profit. In
the middle of the field the ball went again to Yardley. Some changes in
the line were made now, Smith taking Colton’s place and Berwick going
in at center for Hill. Kapenhysen punted and the ball was Forest Hill’s
on her ten yards. A fake kick, with full-back slashing through between
guard and tackle, netted six yards and five more came as a result of
a desperate attack on the new center. Then a run around Williams took
the ball to the forty-yard line. Yardley stiffened and two attacks at
the line were thrown back. Forest Hill punted and Capes gathered in the
ball on his fifteen-yard line and ran it back twenty. Again Kapenhysen
punted and Dickenson nabbed the Forest Hill back before he could take
a step. Yardley tried a double pass and gained eight yards. A plunge at
center gave her the rest of her distance. An on-side kick was tried,
but resulted disastrously. Hadlock blocked it and although Forest
Hill’s right half fell on the ball it was down for a twelve-yard loss.
A delayed pass netted four yards and a run outside tackle three more.
The Forest Hill quarter-back started out to gather in the rest of the
required distance by a run around right end, but Williams managed to
get past his opponent and down the runner behind the line.

[Illustration: DELAYED PASS NEAR SIDE LINE]

Kapenhysen fell back for a punt, but the ball went to Capes instead
and he reeled off fifteen yards before he was captured. Then Loring
punted from close up to the line and the ball was Forest Hill’s on her
twenty yards. She was playing on the defensive now, had abandoned all
hope of adding to her score and was eager only to keep her opponent
from crossing her goal-line again. She kicked on first down and the
punt went high in the air and fell out of bounds at the twenty-seven
yards. There remained six minutes of playing time and Loring settled
down to smashing football. Connor was sent in at right half in place
of Dyer and Norton took Dickenson’s place at right end. It was hard
going at first and the white lines passed slowly underfoot. But after
a few terrific plunges at the right side of the Forest Hill line
something weakened there and Connor and Capes went through for gains
of three and four yards. On her ten yards Forest Hill called time for
an injured player and put in a new man at right tackle. That wrought
an improvement, but Kapenhysen got by the newcomer for a couple of
yards and made it first down. There remained some eight yards to go for
a score and Loring and Colton put their heads together. The ball was
well over toward the side-line and it was advisable to work it back
toward the center of the field. There were two ways to do this. One was
to bring off a play toward the left of the line and the center of the
field and the other was to send a play at the other end in the hope
of gaining and then being pushed over the side-line. Colton and Loring
decided on the latter.

The ball was passed to Loring and the other backs started toward the
left of the line. Loring made the motion of passing the ball to right
half and right half appeared to have caught it and doubled his arms
about it. Meanwhile left half had dropped to his knees and Loring had
kept the ball, hiding it as well as possible from the opponents. As the
fake attack reached the end of the line to the left, the left half-back
arose and ran hard for the right end of the line, taking the ball from
Loring at a hand-pass. The trick worked even better than expected, for
Forest Hill had been drawn away from the side-line and Capes reeled
off the remaining eight yards without going out of bounds and was only
tackled as he went over the goal-line. A punt-out was necessary and
this was a failure. But the score stood 11--10 in Yardley’s favor and
she had pulled herself out of a bad hole. The whistle sounded a minute
later and the game was at an end.

Over on the stands Yardley Hall shouted long and blissfully in honor of
the team.



CHAPTER X

DROPPED!


On the Monday following the Forest Hill game the final cut in the
football squad was announced. For two weeks the process of elimination
had been going forward quietly and mercilessly until of the original
seventy-odd candidates who had started the season only forty-two
remained. To-day after practice a list was posted on the bulletin board
in the gymnasium. It contained two columns of names headed respectively
“First Eleven” and “Second Eleven.” In the first column there were
sixteen names, in the second fourteen; twelve unfortunates had been
dropped.

Dan, coming up from the locker room, sought the notice with anxious
heart. He was almost certain that Payson was going to retain him on
the second squad, but there was always the chance--“Second Eleven,” he
read, “Coke, Connor, Eisner, Flagg, Fogg--” and so on down to “Roeder,
Sommers, Trapper.” His heart sank as he reread the list. Nowhere was
his name written. Three times he went over the list, hoping each time
to find that he had blundered. Then he read the first team names; it
was just possible, he told himself, that Payson had got his name there
by mistake. But he hadn’t. Dan was dropped from the squad.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs and of laughing voices sent him
hurrying away from the bulletin board and out into the twilight. He
didn’t want anyone to find him there just then.

Of course it didn’t much matter, he argued as he made his way along
in front of the buildings. Even had Payson kept him on the squad he
might never have made the First Team. Still, there was the pleasure of
playing, and one could always hope. Well, there was nothing to hope for
now. They didn’t want him. Dan threw his head back and thrust his hands
into his pockets. That was all right, he muttered; they didn’t have to
have him. He knew blamed well he could play better football than some
fellows who had been kept on the squad, though. There was Sayer, end on
the second, for instance. Dan knew well enough that he could play all
around Sayer. However, there was no use thinking about it. They didn’t
want him; that was the plain English of it.

He recalled what Tubby had said the evening of his arrival: “There’s
no use trying for the team here unless you’re a swell or a particular
friend of Payson’s,” Tubby had declared. Dan told himself now that he
guessed that was about so. But the next moment he retracted it. They
could say what they liked, but Payson was a gentleman, and if he had
dropped fellows from the squad it was because he believed they weren’t
necessary to the success of the team. Even if you did feel hurt and a
little bit angry there was no sense in saying mean things--or thinking
them--when you knew they weren’t so. Dan took a deep breath, thrust his
hands deeper into his pockets and discovered that he was at the edge of
The Prospect, looking unseeingly down at the village with its yellow
windows. He turned, smiled just to make certain that he could still do
it, and walked back to Clarke. He even whistled a tune as he went. It
wasn’t a very merry tune, but it answered. Tubby was in the room when
he entered, Tubby grinning broadly.

“Got dropped, didn’t you?” he demanded triumphantly.

“Yes,” answered Dan cheerfully. “How’d you know so soon?”

“Lowd told me. What did I tell you weeks ago, Dan? Didn’t I say you
couldn’t make the team unless you were one of those swell snobs like
Loring or Colton or Hadlock or the rest of them?”

“You did, O Solomon,” answered Dan. “You were right and I was wrong,
as you always are.”

Tubby puzzled over that for a moment and then gave it up. He chuckled.

“You wouldn’t believe me, though, would you?” he asked.

“No, Tubby, and I don’t believe you yet. There are lots of fellows
on the squad who aren’t swells. There’s Ridge, who’s captain of the
Second, and Mitchell and Kapenhysen of the First. You don’t call them
swells, do you, Tubby?”

“They’re protégés of Payson’s, though,” answered Tubby. “It’s the same
thing.” He paused while Dan dropped into his chair and drew his books
toward him. “I say, though, Dan, I’m sorry. You can play better than
lots of those fellows they’ve kept.”

“Much obliged,” Dan replied, “but you’re wrong there, Tubby. I was
dropped because I was trying for end and because they’ve got four good
players for that position. That’s all, Tubby. Next year I’ll try again
if I’m here.”

“If you come back next year you’re crazy,” growled Tubby. “I’m not
going to, you can bet! I’m going--”

“Tubby, if you mention Broadwood I’ll murder you,” interrupted Dan
wearily.

“I will if I like!” said Tubby defiantly. Dan made no reply. Presently,
“Why don’t you try for the class team?” asked Tubby. “They begin to
make them up this week.”

Dan nibbled the end of his pencil and looked reflectively at his
room-mate.

“Maybe I will, Tubby,” he said at last. Tubby took up the book he was
reading and settled back again against his pillows.

“I would,” he said. “If I could play the way you can I’d get on the
Third Class team and show that idiot Payson and the rest of them what I
could do.”

“Oh, I don’t want them to die of chagrin,” answered Dan mildly. “Still,
I think I’d like to try for the class team. We’ll see.”

His glance dropped on the little two-fold photograph frame which shared
the table with his books and papers and writing materials, and the
pictures of his mother and father which it held brought a sudden frown
to his forehead. He wished he had not sent that clipping from the
_Scholiast_ home to the folks!

The next forenoon Dan encountered the coach in front of Whitson
Hall. He didn’t see Mr. Payson coming until he was almost up to
him and so he had scant time in which to fix his features into the
desired expression. What Dan would have liked to have conveyed by his
expression was a polite affability, slightly tinged by contemptuous
amusement and haughty indifference. Rather a large order, but Dan was
pretty certain that he could have managed it had he had time. What he
didn’t want Mr. Payson to read on his face was disappointment, or even
concern. Unfortunately, however, the coach came out of Whitson and
ran down the steps just as Dan came abreast of the entrance, and he
never knew just what his countenance did express at that moment. The
coach saw him at once and nodded. Dan said “Good morning,” and was for
passing on, but Mr. Payson was going the same way and in an instant had
ranged himself alongside. He seemed to be in very good spirits, Dan
thought.

“A fine morning, Vinton,” said Mr. Payson “What’s next on the
programme?”

“Math, sir.”

“Who do you have?”

“Kil--that is, Mr. McIntyre.” The coach smiled.

“Kilts will do, Vinton. They call me worse than that and I never make
a whine. By the way, have you been thinking about this forward pass
business? Remember a talk we had?”

“Yes, sir, but I haven’t had much time.”

“Oh.” Dan thought the coach’s voice expressed something of
disappointment. “Well, that’s all right, of course. But when you have
a spare moment now and then I wish you’d think it over. We’ve got to
work out a good forward pass offense, Vinton, and several heads are
better than one. You led your team last year and you had to do some
thinking for yourself, I guess. Now see if you can’t plan something
that will help us this fall. You’re a new boy here, but you want to see
Yardley win just as much as anyone else, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Of course you do. And so--am I keeping you?”

They had paused in front of Oxford.

“No, sir, there’s five minutes yet,” answered Dan.

“All right. What I was going to say was that if every fellow would
use his brains a little it would be a help. I don’t profess to have
mastered this ‘new football’; I was brought up on the old style, you
know; and I’ve got a heap to learn myself. But if every fellow will
think a little about it, and come to me with the result, why, we may
light on something that will make Broadwood open her eyes. Now you, for
instance, Vinton. You’ve been up against this problem and you solved
it after a fashion. Supposing you face it again; imagine that it’s up
to you to find a way of pulling off forward passes that will beat
anything Broadwood can show; make believe, if you like, that you’re
captain and coach all rolled into one and that everything depends on
you. I’m not talking to every fellow this way, for some of them can’t
use their brains. But I’ve spoken to Colton and Loring and Hill and
Capes and one or two others and they’ve agreed to tackle the problem.
And some night pretty soon we’ll meet in my room in the village and
talk it over. It’ll be a sort of advisory council, do you see? Now what
do you say?”

Dan hesitated a moment. At first it had seemed to him that the coach
was adding insult to injury in asking him to work for the success of
a team that he was not considered good enough to play on. But his
resentment was short-lived. If he could aid, it was his duty to do
it. Yardley was as much his school as it was Colton’s or Loring’s,
and if he couldn’t fight for it on the gridiron he could fight on the
side-line. Besides, after all, it was pleasing to his vanity to be
asked to help in this way. Even if Payson didn’t think very highly of
him as a player he evidently respected his football knowledge and wits.
So he looked up at Mr. Payson frankly and answered:

“I’ll do what I can, sir. I don’t suppose I can help much, but I’ll
try.”

“That’s the way to talk, Vinton,” answered the coach. “And I’m much
obliged. Whatever you can do will help me and it will help the school.
Whenever you want to talk anything over you look me up. You’ll find me
at home usually in the evenings if you care to drop in. I’ll be glad to
see you any time. Hope I haven’t made you late.”

But Dan wouldn’t have cared if he had. It was worth one of Kilts’
sharpest “call-downs” to have that comforting sensation of being
Somebody again. Since he had read the list in the gymnasium yesterday
afternoon Dan had felt like a very unimportant Nobody! As he hurried
up the steps and down the corridor to the recitation room he strove
to recall a line that he had read or heard somewhere. “He also serves
who only sits around and waits;” wasn’t that it? Well, something like
that, any way. It wasn’t quite applicable to the present case, but it
expressed the right idea.

But when it came time for football practice Dan discovered that even
the re-establishment of his self-esteem didn’t give him the courage
to go to the field and stand around on the side-line in his everyday
clothes to be pointed out as one of the fellows who hadn’t “made good”!
Perhaps after a day or two he could face it with equanimity, but to-day
the wound was too fresh. So, although he would have much preferred
watching practice, he went for a walk in the other direction, crossing
the bridge above the railroad cut and waiting while an east-bound
express roared by beneath him with a suffocating cloud of smoke and
steam, and turning at the foot of the hill to the right to follow an
unexplored path to the beach. There were three paths through the woods
and Dan knew the other two by heart, but this one, the more westerly
and the more roundabout, was new to him.

It started off in a leisurely way toward the river, winding and
twisting prettily through the beeches and oaks and maples, and then,
as though weary of indecision, swerved toward the Sound and marched
away as straight and uncompromising as though laid out by an engineer.
But the reason of its sudden reformation was apparent, for almost
beside the path ran a high rustic fence. This fence, as Dan knew,
marked the boundary of the school grounds on the west. Beyond it lay
the country estate of John T. Pennimore, the Steamship King, as the
newspapers loved to call him. He was one of the country’s rich men
and Dan had heard of him often enough. Once Mr. Vinton had received
a business letter from him and had brought it home to exhibit, not
without a trace of pride, to his family. Sound View, as the estate was
named, comprised some eight or nine acres fronting on the Sound and
the Wissining River. There was an immense stone residence, barns and
stables, hot houses, gardeners’ lodge and several smaller buildings
of which one was known as the Bungalow and stood just above the beach
near the Yardley line. Much of the property was wooded and only an
occasional glimpse was to be had of the residence and stables. Now and
then, however, as Dan followed the path a sudden thinning of the trees
gave a brief view of velvety lawn or brilliant flower bed, and once the
back of the big house was fairly in sight.

Where Sound and river met there was a long stone pier and a boat house.
In front of the pier, a few hundred feet off-shore, lay the Pennimore
steam yacht, a magnificent craft, resplendant in white and brass,
large enough to cross the ocean in had the whim seized its owner. But
John T. Pennimore was not a man of whims, and from June to late in the
Autumn the _Princess_ made almost daily trips to and fro between the
summer home and the city, reeling off the miles like an express train.
When the _Princess_ lay at anchor off Sound View it was known that the
Steamship King was at home. Dan wondered idly whether he would see the
big yacht when he reached the end of the path. It must be jolly, he
thought, to own a place like Sound View, and a yacht, and horses and
carriages, and automobiles and--

His thoughts got no farther, for at that moment the dismal howling of a
dog broke on his ears. The sounds seemed to come from a short distance
ahead and from the other side of the fence and spoke of such fear and
suffering that Dan caught his breath as he heard it. He raced forward
down the path, and as he ran he caught the pungent odor of burning
wood. Then between the rustic palings of the fence he saw a strange
scene. Back from the fence a yard or two stood a small play-house,
fifteen feet long by ten wide, with slab sides and shingled roof. It
stood quite by itself amidst the shrubbery, its back to the fence.
There was a window on the side nearest to Dan and another on the
back, and from both of them, closed though they were, grayish-brown
smoke crept out. At the corner of the little building stood a slim
boy of apparently fourteen years. He had on a red flannel shirt and
a red helmet such as firemen wear, and in his hands he held an axe.
Beside him was a two-wheeled vehicle carrying a coil of hose and two
fire-extinguishers. As Dan stopped and stared bewilderedly the boy
lifted the axe as though to feel its weight, sniffed the smoke with
evident relish and lifted his voice above the terrified howling of the
dog which Dan could not see but which he surmised to be inside the
house.

“Courage, Jack!” called the boy loudly. “I am coming to your rescue!”

But he seemed in no hurry about it, for instead of opening the door to
release the dog he merely ran to the side window and peered in, drawing
back coughing and laughing.

“Keep your nose to the floor, Jack,” he shouted, “and whatever you do
don’t jump!”

At another time Dan might have found the instructions amusing, but now
he was boiling with indignation.

“What are you doing over there?” he cried.

The boy turned in surprise and finally glimpsed him through the fence.

“Hello,” he answered smilingly. “I’m having a fire. I’m going to put it
out in a minute. Want to help?”

“Isn’t there a dog in there?” asked Dan impatiently. The boy nodded his
head.

“Yes, Jack’s in there. I’m playing that he’s a person, you know, and
I’m going to rescue him from the flames.”

“He will die of suffocation, you silly chump, if you don’t let him out
at once,” said Dan angrily. “You ought to have a good licking! Open
the door and let him out, do you hear?”

“I can’t open the door,” was the untroubled reply, “because I locked it
and threw the key away.”

“Where’d you throw it?”

“Somewhere over there in the bushes.” The boy nodded toward the fence.
“I’m going to break the door down with the axe. If you can climb over
I’ll let you squirt one of the extinguishers.”

“I can’t climb this thing,” cried Dan, impatiently. “Bring your axe
here and knock off some of these sticks.”

But at that moment the dog ceased his howls.

“Never mind me! Knock in one of those windows,” ordered Dan, “and give
him some air. He’s probably dying!”

The boy looked troubled, hesitated an instant and then crashed his axe
through the glass of the side window.

A volume of smoke poured out and sent the rescuer reeling back. With
a muttered exclamation of anger Dan gave a short run, caught somehow
at the top of the high pickets and pulled himself up. The next instant
he was down on the other side and had wrenched the axe from the boy’s
hands. There was a strict rule at Yardley against trespassing on Sound
View property, but Dan didn’t stop to think of that now.

“Get your fire extinguisher and look alive,” he shouted. “Put those
flames out--if you can!”

For flames were mingling with the heavy smoke that rolled through the
window. Dan ran to the door of the play-house and sent the axe smashing
against the lock. Once, twice, and then the door flew inward and Dan
retreated against the smother of smoke that assailed him. Inside the
house was a dim chaos of swirling clouds illumined by little spurts of
flame that ran along the window-casing on one side of the room. Now
that door and window were open, the fire, which had almost smothered
itself out, took new life. From the burning woodwork came a sound of
crackling, drowned the next instant by the hiss of the stream from the
extinguisher which the boy was playing through the window.

But Dan was thinking of the dog, and after the first outburst of
choking smoke had driven him away he hurried back to the door and
peered in. But so heavy was the murk that for a moment his smarting
eyes could see nothing distinctly. He called over and over, and from
the window the boy added his entreaties. But there was no answering
whine. And then, as the smoke lessened, blown upward by a sudden draft
of air from the door, Dan saw a dark object stretched motionless on
the floor in the farthest corner of the room. At that instant the
flames, having reached the top of the window, reached out with a hungry
roar and the flimsy ceiling curled apart with a shower of sparks.



CHAPTER XI

A RESCUE


“Can you see him?”

The boy had dropped his extinguisher and was peering into the room, his
hand clutching Dan’s arm frantically.

“He’s there in the corner by the table, but he won’t come,” answered
Dan with something very much like a sob.

“_Jack! Jack!_” cried the boy. “_Come here, sir! Good dog! Come here!_”

But there was no answer.

“He will be burned to death!” shouted the boy in Dan’s ear. “I must get
him out!”

“You can’t,” answered Dan miserably. “You’ll be burned yourself if you
try it.” The heat and smoke were driving them further and further from
the door.

“But he’s my dog,” cried the boy, turning a white, scared face to Dan,
“and I told him I’d rescue him!”

“Well, you can’t,” answered Dan, angrily, half crying. “You had no
business shutting him in there! You ought to be burned up yourself!
You--you--”

But no one was listening to him, for the boy had suddenly darted
through the doorway and was already lost to sight in the dense smoke.

“Come back! You mustn’t do that!” cried Dan. “You’ll be burned up! Do
you hear?”

He ran to the door and looked in, forgetful of the fierce heat that
assailed him. He heard a sound as from an overturning chair or table
and, he thought, a faint cry. But he could not be certain, for the
flames were roaring across the ceiling and the little room was filled
with a lurid gloom that baffled sight. Dan reeled away from the door,
his eyes smarting and streaming, his lungs gasping for air. For an
instant longer he waited, watched, his heart thumping chokingly. He was
dreadfully frightened. He wanted to turn and run, run until the sight
and sound of the burning building were miles behind him. But he mustn’t
do that, he mustn’t even seek help at the house or the stables! He was
the only one who could help, and he knew it; knew that unless the boy
came out in the next instant he must go in there for him! His knees
weakened at the thought of it, and it seemed that to play the part of
the coward was the most desirable thing in the world! It wasn’t his
affair; the boy was no friend of his! Why should he risk his life?

These thoughts came and went in a moment, while his eyes regained
their sight and his breath came back to him. Then he was tying his
handkerchief across his white face with fingers that shook so that
they could scarcely make the knots. He looked toward the house in the
forlorn hope that help was in sight. But the stretch of shrubbery and
lawn was empty of life. He turned his face toward the doorway, took a
long breath and dashed forward.

The next instant he was on his knees at the end of the room. His head
was already reeling, but he opened his eyes and, in the brief moment
that he could see, the sprawled shape of the boy met his sight. He had
only to stretch out his hand to reach him. But now, somehow, the idea
of rescue was slipping from his mind. It was easier to lie there, face
down upon the floor and keep his eyes tight closed. The heat beat down
upon him and the smoke was filling his lungs, but it didn’t seem to
matter any more. And then there was a sharp twinge of pain in his right
arm that brought his senses rushing back to him. His sleeve was on
fire. He beat out the smoldering flames, got a firm hold on the boy’s
coat collar and, squirming and tugging, made for the gray oblong
that was the doorway.

The place was a veritable furnace, and although there was but a few
feet to traverse, it seemed that he must certainly fail. For the boy
seemed to weigh tons, and the heat was like a living monster that
sought to beat him to the ground with its fiery breath. More than once
the thought of loosing his hold on that hateful thing behind him that
was keeping him back assailed him, but each time he set his teeth and
groped blindly on. And then a breath of fresher air met him, and he
staggered to his feet, stumbled blindly through the doorway and finally
fell flat upon his face on the grass.

[Illustration: “He staggered to his feet, stumbled blindly through the
doorway.”]

For several minutes he lay there unmoving, only dimly conscious. Then
he came to himself with the knowledge of an aching, throbbing head
and a scorched throat and threw out his arms and rolled over on his
back with his face to the blessed blue sky and the soft breeze. He
took a deep breath that pained him badly, and then another, and found
that each succeeding breath hurt less than the one before. And full
consciousness came back to him in a sudden rush of thankfulness. A
groan from beside him recalled the boy to his mind and he sat up,
swayed dizzily and blinked his eyes. Beside him lay the boy, his
clothes burned in places and his hair singed. And beside the boy lay
the dog, a red setter, the boy’s fingers clutched tightly about his
collar. Dan looked for a moment from boy to dog. The boy stirred and
moaned. The dog’s eyes were half closed, but his sides rose and fell
with long, shivering breaths. They were both alive, Dan told himself
contentedly. Then he lay down again and went into a dead faint.

When he regained his senses there were men about and a troubled,
anxious face was bending above him. He looked up at it a moment, and
then a smile of recognition curved his lips.

“I remember,” he murmured. “It was on the train.”

“How are you feeling?” asked a voice.

Dan considered a moment, opening his eyes widely and looking about.
Then--

“Pretty good now, thanks,” he answered cheerfully. He tried to raise
himself, but the man put a hand against his breast and held him down.

“Stay where you are, please, and we’ll have you in the house in a
moment.”

“How’s--he?” asked Dan. “And the dog?”

“No worse than you, I hope,” answered the man with a break in his
voice. “Here comes the car.”

Dan turned his head at the sound of the soft chugging of an automobile
and saw the big chocolate brown car which he remembered coming across
the grass.

“Are you his father?” asked Dan.

“Yes,” replied the man. “I’m Mr. Pennimore.”

Dan digested this a moment. Then he shook his head and remarked more
frankly than politely:

“He’s a silly kid. He might have been burned up. I told him to keep
out, but he wouldn’t do it.”

“After you feel better you may tell me what happened,” was the answer.
“Here, Porter, lift him in. Tell Nagle to carry the dog up to the
kennels and look after him.”

“How about the play-house, sir?”

“Let it burn,” was the answer.

Strong hands bore Dan to the car and he found himself sitting in a
corner of the tonneau on the softest leather cushions he had ever felt.
Then the boy was put in beside him and Mr. Pennimore sat beyond. The
boy seemed half-dazed and looked at Dan as though he wondered who he
was and what he was doing there. Dan felt rather weak and funny, but
for all that he watched the two grooms crowd into the front seat with
the chauffeur and watched the latter as he pushed a lever slowly
forward and turned the big brass wheel. It was Dan’s first ride in an
automobile and he felt that it was something of an event; he wished
that he felt in better condition to enjoy it and wished that it was
going to be longer. Mr. Pennimore was very silent as they went slowly
across the grass, dropped with a lurch into the curving road and then
whizzed toward the big stone house. That ride was over all too soon
for Dan. Almost before he knew it he was lying on a wonderful brass
bed in a room that was all pink roses, and a doctor, who had suddenly
and marvelously appeared from nowhere, was unceremoniously taking his
clothes off of him and feeling his pulse all at the same time.

“There’s nothing the matter with me, sir,” said Dan, but his voice
didn’t sound just right to him, and he decided he’d shut up for awhile.

“Supposing you let me find that out for myself,” answered the doctor
cheerfully. Well, that sounded sensible, and so Dan laid still and let
the doctor do whatever he pleased. It seemed to please the doctor to
bandage his left arm and his leg just above the ankle, to look very
attentively at his eyes and finally to make him swallow two spoonfuls
of something that tasted the way liniment smelled. Dan wondered
amusedly whether the doctor was making a mistake and dosing him with
what ought to go outside.

“That will do for you,” said the doctor presently, drawing the clothes
up under Dan’s chin. “You go to sleep for awhile and when you wake up
you’ll feel as fine as ever. Better let fires alone for awhile, though.
They’re rather dangerous.”

He nodded and left the room, closing the door softly behind him. Dan
lay for awhile and looked at the roses. The house was very quiet.
The flutter of a shade at an open window and the faint break of the
waves on the beach were the only sounds that reached him. Then his
thoughts went back to the afternoon’s adventure and he wondered how
the Pennimore boy was. Then he wondered how Jack was. Then he wondered
whether they had saved the fire extinguishers. He hoped so for he
wanted to see how they worked. Then telling himself that the stuff
the doctor had put on his arm and leg certainly did smart, he dropped
quietly to sleep.



CHAPTER XII

AT SOUND VIEW


When Dan woke up he found that it was supper time. The room was
lighted softly and a man--Dan concluded that he was the butler, and
having never seen a butler before examined him with disconcerting
intentness--was placing a tray on a stand beside the bed. Dan had a
very healthy appetite, he found when he had got the sleep out of his
head, and was a little disappointed to discover that the repast was
quite spartan in its simplicity. There was a good deal of gleaming
white napery and much silver and many dishes, but when it came right
down to brass tacks, as Dan’s father would have said, there was only
hot bouillon, a soup-stick, some graham bread cut into wafer-like
slices and buttered, two slices of cold chicken, a “dab” of white
current jelly and a saucer of some sort of cornstarchy stuff that did
more than aught else had done to impress upon Dan the fact that he was
supposed to be an invalid. He had vivid recollections of that sort of
pudding. It was inextricably mixed in his memory with mumps and scarlet
fever.

“Shall I lift you up, sir?” asked the servant.

But Dan assured him that he was still capable of lifting himself up,
and proved it. The man put the pillows behind him and then in a most
surprising way swung the top of the stand around over the bed so that
the tray was right under Dan’s nose. By this time, having got his eyes
fully open, Dan saw that the man wore a swallow-tail coat and showed a
vivid expanse of white shirt-front. Perhaps he wasn’t a servant, after
all, Dan reflected.

“If there’s anything you want, sir, just ring the bell,” said the man.
The bell, a little silver affair, stood on the tray. “One of the maids
is in the hall, sir, and will hear it.”

“Thank you,” said Dan. “Are you the butler?”

“No, sir, I’m the second man.”

“Oh,” said Dan vaguely. “Thank you.” Then he took up his spoon and
set to work and the servant left the room with noiseless tread. As he
ate, Dan looked about him and sighed comfortably. There were lights
on all sides of the big room but the pink silk shades subdued them so
that the room was filled with a soft, roseate glow. On the big dresser
the silver toilet articles and cut glass bottles caught the light
and glimmered richly. The big roses on the walls were repeated in the
draperies at the windows and looked so fresh and natural that Dan was
almost convinced that he could pick them off were he able to reach
them. Over the footboard of the gleaming brass bedstead lay a silk
quilt, and that too, was a mass of pink roses. This, he concluded,
was the guest chamber. He recalled the guest chamber at home. It had
always seemed to him a very magnificent apartment until now. Then he
recollected the fact that his soup was getting cold and that he was
very hungry.

Ten minutes later that repast was only a memory and not a crumb was
left to tell the tale. And he was still hungry. He wondered what would
happen if he rang the bell and demanded a sirloin steak and a baked
potato. Probably he would get it, but a sirloin steak in that room
would seem a desecration, and he resisted the temptation. He found that
he had only to swing the tray around to get it out of the way. That was
interesting, and he amused himself for a minute in swinging it back
and forth. Then he thumped the pillows and settled down in bed again.
His burns smarted a good deal, but he told himself that it was worth a
little pain to be installed in the midst of such luxury and be waited
on by the second man. Presently he became sleepy again and dozed and
awoke and dozed again and felt very comfortable and contented. Once,
just what time it was he didn’t know, he got quite widely awake and
found that tray and stand had disappeared and that all the lights were
out save one. That, thought Dan sleepily, meant that it was bedtime. So
he did the sensible thing and went to sleep in a business-like way and
didn’t wake up again until the sunlight was streaming in at the two big
east windows.

Breakfast appeared after awhile and Dan learned that he was free to get
up and make his toilet and dress himself. The breakfast was as generous
as the dinner had been frugal, and after he had finished it Dan was
doubtful of his ability to get up. But a quarter of an hour later
he was dressed and a maid knocked on the door and brought a message
that Mr. Pennimore would like to see him downstairs. So Dan slicked
his hair down again, glanced ruefully at his burnt coat and trousers
and found the maid waiting for him outside. Dan was heartily glad of
her assistance, for he was certain that he would never have reached
Mr. Pennimore alone because the house was like a hotel, and doors and
passages and stairways turned up everywhere. Mr. Pennimore was in the
library, a big high-ceilinged apartment whose walls were hidden behind
book-cases and tapestries. There was a cracking log fire in an immense
stone fireplace half way down one side of the room, and in front of
this Mr. Pennimore was standing reading some letters as the maid held
aside the curtains at the door and Dan entered. Mr. Pennimore looked up
and came forward to meet him.

“Well, my boy,” he said, “how do you feel?”

“All right, sir, thanks,” answered Dan as he shook hands. Mr. Pennimore
led him to a big leather chair in front of the fire and pushed him
gently into it. Then he laid the letters he held on the high stone
mantel and took his stand on the hearth rug. What bothered Dan about
Mr. Pennimore was the fact that he didn’t look at all as one would
imagine a Steamship King ought to. There was nothing nautical in Mr.
Pennimore’s appearance. Instead he looked like a retired banker. He
was rather a small man, very trim, scrupulously attentive to details
of attire, with a thoughtful face and a pair of black eyes that
were kindly and shrewd. In age he appeared to be between fifty and
fifty-five and his dark hair, grizzled a little at the temples, had
not retreated very far from the forehead. He wore a mustache and a
short beard and had, Dan soon noticed, a habit of tugging gently at the
latter with thumb and forefinger. He was doing it now while Dan waited
for him to speak.

“Well, Vinton, my boy has told me what happened yesterday and I quite
agree with your estimate of him. He is a silly kid, as you remarked.”
Mr. Pennimore smiled. Dan colored up.

“I didn’t mean that, Mr. Pennimore. What I meant was that he was silly
to go into that house, sir.”

“I understand, my boy. But he is silly. By that I mean that he does
a great many silly things such as he did yesterday. Unfortunately he
hasn’t a mother; she died soon after he was born; and I am away from
home a good deal. Gerald has an excellent tutor, but of course Mr.
Faunce can’t look after him every minute, and so Gerald is frequently
in scrapes. Yesterday he managed to outdo himself. The idea of shutting
that poor dog in the play-house and then setting fire to it! Gerald
had been reading some story or other about firemen, he tells me, and
wanted to try his hand at a rescue. Of course he had no idea that the
fire would get out of his control; and it doesn’t seem to have occurred
to him that the dog might smother to death before he was rescued. He
is very fond of Jack; I gave the dog to him on his twelfth birthday;
and he wouldn’t intentionally cause him any pain. The whole thing seems
to have been a piece of childish thoughtlessness. What do you think,
Vinton?”

“I don’t think he realized what he was doing,” answered Dan eagerly.
“I was sort of out of patience with him, sir, but I’m pretty sure he
didn’t mean to hurt the dog anyway.”

Mr. Pennimore suppressed a smile. Gerald had told him that Dan had said
he ought to be licked!

“Well, I’m pretty fond of that boy of mine,” continued Mr. Pennimore.
“He’s the only child I’ve got, you see. I suppose I’m rather foolish
about him, but parents are liable to get that way. And so what am I to
say to you, my boy? What can I say that will express my feelings, my
gratitude?”

Mr. Pennimore’s voice shook, and Dan, rather alarmed and very red and
uncomfortable, wished himself away from there. Perhaps Mr. Pennimore
saw his embarrassment, for he cleared his throat and went on in quite
an ordinary tone of voice.

“All I can do is to thank you, Vinton, and I do that very earnestly. If
you were a poor boy I could show my gratitude by making you a present.
But as it is I suppose there’s nothing you want, nothing I can give you
that you will accept?”

“Thank you, sir,” muttered Dan. “I don’t want anything.”

“You’re a lucky person,” said Mr. Pennimore with a little laugh. He
sat down in a chair on the opposite side of the hearth. “You have
everything in the world that you want, then?”

“Yes, sir, at least--.” Dan stopped and his face broke into a smile.

“Oh, so there is something after all?”

“The only thing I want,” replied Dan with a laugh, “is to make the
football team.”

“I see. Well, that, I fear, is something beyond me. I’m sorry, for
there’s nothing in reason I wouldn’t gladly do for the boy that saved
my boy’s life. I’d like you to feel sure of that, Vinton.”

“Thank you, sir, but I don’t think I deserve much--much gratitude. You
see, Mr. Pennimore, I ought to have kept him from going in there. But
I didn’t have any idea he’d really do it. Why, the place was like a--a
furnace, sir! It was mighty plucky of him to do it, sir!”

“Maybe it was, but I’m inclined to think,” answered Mr. Pennimore
dryly, “that he didn’t know what he was in for. The real pluck and
heroism, my boy, was yours, for you realized what it meant to go into
that house. Didn’t you?”

“I suppose I did,” acknowledged Dan. “In fact--in fact I--I was scared
to death, sir, and that’s the truth. I guess there wasn’t much heroism
about me. I’d have given anything if I could have cut and run!”

“Then why didn’t you?” asked the other gently.

“Why--I--I couldn’t!” answered Dan, with a look of surprise at the
questioner. “You wouldn’t have, would you, sir?”

“Not if my boy had been in there,” answered Mr. Pennimore thoughtfully,
“but--if it had been anyone else, who knows whether I’d have found the
courage?”

Dan laughed.

“You’d have gone all right, sir,” he answered with conviction.

“Well, I’d prefer to think that I would have, but I’m not too sure,
Vinton. I’ve lived a good deal longer than you, my boy, and I’ve seen
the time when a little heroism was hard to come at. Perhaps moral
heroism is more difficult than physical, but--However, we’re not
discussing such weighty questions this morning, eh? What’s your first
name?”

“Dan, sir.”

“Dan, Dan Vinton. That’s a good-sounding name,” mused Mr. Pennimore.
“I’ve often thought that there was a good deal in names. I mean that
a person’s name maybe expresses his character if we were only able to
read it aright. Now your name to me expresses courage and grit and
fearlessness. Do you see what I mean?”

“Yes, sir, I think so. But, you see, I was afraid, sir.”

“Yes, afraid to be afraid, my boy. That’s the right kind of fear. To
take a risk when you’re not afraid is one thing and to take that risk
when your heart’s in your boots is another. The biggest hero of all is
the man that does a thing when he’s scared to death, merely because he
knows that it’s right. Isn’t that so?”

“I suppose so, sir. I never thought much about it.”

“Well,” said Mr. Pennimore with a sudden laugh, “don’t think about it
now; this is too fine a morning for problems. You’ll find when you get
to know me better, Dan, that I have a weakness for problems. I call
you Dan because you and I are going to be pretty good friends, I hope.
Now tell me something about yourself. Where do you live when you’re at
home?”

“In Graystone, Ohio, sir.”

“You have a mother and father living?”

“Yes, sir, and a sister. She’s thirteen.”

“What’s your father’s business, Dan?”

“He’s a little of everything, sir. He owns the flouring mills at
Graystone and he’s president of the First National Bank and owns a lot
of buildings and things all around. His name’s John W. Vinton, sir.”
And Dan watched eagerly to see if Mr. Pennimore showed acquaintance
with the name.

“Doubtless I’ve heard of your father,” said Mr. Pennimore, politely.
“Is he like you, my boy? Has he got everything that he wants?”

Dan had to consider a moment. He had never thought about that.

“I don’t know, sir,” he answered finally. “But I guess he has. He
doesn’t go in for much outside of his business. And when he wants
anything he usually gets it,” added Dan with a trace of pride. “I guess
the only thing he ever wanted that he hasn’t got is the new railroad.”

“What railroad is that?” asked Mr. Pennimore.

“The Sedalia, Dayton and Western. Father has been trying to get them to
come through Graystone. He says the town needs a competing line, sir.
But when I left home they’d finished the survey and father said the
road was going past Graystone on the north.”

“Is your father interested in the road? Does he own stock in it?”

“I don’t think so. It’s an Eastern company that’s building. It’s a
connecting line between two other systems.”

“Ah, I don’t seem to remember the--the Sedalia, Dayton and Western,
you said?” Mr. Pennimore took out a small note-book and jotted down
a word or two. “I must look it up. Perhaps I may know some of the
interested parties. In that case, unless there are very good reasons
why the road should leave Graystone out, I don’t see why your father
shouldn’t have what he wants.” He smiled at Dan and slipped the book
back into his pocket.

“That would be bully!” cried Dan. “Could--could you do that, sir?”

“I think so. I’ll look into it and let you know. Perhaps you will be
able to present the Sedalia, Dayton and Western railroad to Graystone
as a Christmas present. Like that, would you?”

“Yes, sir,” said Dan eagerly. “Father would be awfully tickled.
And--and so would I. Only I--I wouldn’t want you to do it just on
account of what I did, Mr. Pennimore. It--it wasn’t worth it.”

“Perhaps I’m the better judge of what it was worth, my boy. Now I must
be off. I telephoned to the school last evening, so that’s all right. I
guess they won’t give you a licking, eh? Now I’m going to send Gerald
down to see you and after awhile he will run you over to school in the
car. I want you and Gerald to be friends, if you will. And you must
come and see me often. I want you to take dinner some evening soon.
Good-bye for the present, Dan.”

They shook hands, and Mr. Pennimore, with a kindly nod, went towards
the door. But he had turned the next moment.

“Of course, Dan,” he said. “I want to replace those clothes that were
burnt in my service. I’ll just mail you a check. And, by the way, the
doctor promised to look in this morning. You’d better wait until he
comes.”

“Yes, sir; but, if you don’t mind, I’d--I’d rather you wouldn’t pay
for these clothes, sir. They are my oldest ones, and--and, anyway, I’d
rather you wouldn’t.”

“Then I won’t,” was the answer. “I won’t insist, for I know you are
able to replace them yourself. Good morning, Dan.”

After Mr. Pennimore’s departure Dan roamed around the big room,
looking at the backs of the books and admiring without understanding
the old tapestries. Presently he skirted the monstrous table--quite
the largest table in the world, he was sure--and went to one of the
half-dozen French windows that opened onto the broad red-tiled veranda
with its massive stone balustrade and its bay-trees in big terra-cotta
tubs. Beyond lay the green lawn and the flower-beds, the seawall and
the blue, blue ocean. The sun was shining brightly and against an
almost cloudless sky a flock of gulls dipped and wheeled. Dan’s heart
responded to the glamour of the morning. It was a fine old world, he
thought, and after all, a fellow didn’t have to be on a football team
to be happy! At that moment there was a voice behind him and Dan turned
from the window to Gerald Pennimore.



CHAPTER XIII

A RICH MAN’S SON


Gerald Pennimore was fourteen years of age, slight of build and very
fair as to complexion, having hair that was almost corn-color, light
blue eyes and a clear pink and white skin of the kind that doesn’t
readily tan. He was good looking, but seemed far from robust. When he
smiled his face was eminently attractive, but in repose it very often
held an expression of discontent. As he greeted Dan he exhibited some
embarrassment.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hello,” answered Dan. “How are you feeling after it?”

“Pretty good, thank you.” He hesitated and seemed trying to get rid
of a lump in his throat. Then, “They say you pulled me out of that
place yesterday and saved my life--and Jack’s,” he said in low tones.
“And--and I’m much obliged!”

Dan had to laugh a little, the thanks sounded so perfunctory. But he
sympathized with Gerald’s embarrassment and answered in an off-hand
way:

“Pshaw, I guess I didn’t do much. You’re welcome, though, of course.
I’m glad you didn’t get burned or--or anything. How’s the dog?”

“He’s as fit as a fiddle,” answered the other eagerly. “You see, he was
lying under the table and didn’t even get scorched! Say, I wouldn’t
have had anything happen to Jack for anything in the world! I’d rather
get burned up myself. You bet I’m glad you got him out!”

“But I didn’t--exactly,” laughed Dan. “I pulled you out and you pulled
the dog out. You had hold of his collar, you see, and when you came he
came, too.”

“Really? Then I did rescue him after all, didn’t I? I’m glad of that
because I told him I would.” Then his face fell. “But I guess it was
you, though, that did it.”

“Well, it doesn’t much matter, does it, as long as someone did it? I’m
glad he wasn’t hurt. But I wouldn’t try that sort of thing again if I
were you.”

“I guess not. Why, I didn’t know the place was so full of smoke. I
thought the flames would leap out and then I’d break in the door with
my axe and rescue Jack. I was making believe I was a fireman, you know.”

Dan nodded. “Well, there wasn’t any harm done as it happened; except
the house. I suppose that burned down.”

“I guess so. That doesn’t matter. I haven’t used it for over a year.
Say, are you a Yardley fellow?”

“Yes,” Dan replied.

“I wish I was! I want father to send me to Yardley but he won’t do it.
I have a beastly old tutor. I don’t learn much, I guess. Did you ever
have a tutor?” Dan shook his head. “Well, don’t you ever have one.
They’re no good. I’d rather go to school.”

“Why won’t your father let you?” inquired Dan.

“Oh, he’s afraid something might happen to me, I guess. You’d think I
was made of glass, the way he fusses about me. I’ve never had any good
times in my life. If I want to do anything I have to have a tutor or
somebody right with me.”

“I didn’t see any tutor around yesterday afternoon,” observed Dan,
dryly.

Gerald grinned.

“He went over to town to buy something. I was supposed to be studying,
but I wasn’t. He got fired this morning,” he added cheerfully.

“That’s a shame!” exclaimed Dan. Gerald looked surprised.

“Why is it?” he asked.

“Because he’s lost his place and it wasn’t his fault.”

“Yes, it was, though. Father told him he wasn’t to leave the place
except after six in the evening. And he disobeyed. It served him right.
I told father, though,” Gerald added magnanimously, “that I didn’t mind
if he stayed. It might as well be Old Faunce as anyone else. But father
said he had to go. He’s upstairs now, packing his things. I won’t have
to do any studying until we get a new one. I hope it will take a long
time to find one.”

“You don’t seem to care much about lessons,” said Dan, smilingly.
Gerald looked doubtful.

“I don’t know. Sometimes I do. Some things I like to study. I like
Latin and French and German and English literature, but I hate
mathematics and about the human body and botany.” Dan stared.

“Do you mean that you study all those things?” he asked.

“Yes, don’t you?”

“No, I have only Latin, French, mathematics and English this year; and
gym work.”

“I’ve got a gymnasium upstairs. Want to see it?”

“I’d like to, but your father said the doctor was coming. And after
that I must go back to school. Perhaps, though, you’ll let me see it
some other time. Your father invited me to come over again, you know.”

“Oh, you’re coming lots of times,” answered Gerald promptly. “And I’ll
show you my gymnasium and the stables and the kennels and my stamp
collection. Do you collect stamps?”

“I used to,” answered Dan, “but I haven’t done much for a year or two.”

“I’ve got over two thousand,” said Gerald, “and some of them are
corkers. I’ve got one that cost eighty dollars!”

“I’d like to see them,” said Dan, politely.

“All right. To-morrow? Will you come over to-morrow? I’ll send Higgins
for you with the car if you will?” But Dan shook his head.

“Not to-morrow, I guess,” he replied. “I’ll have to make up for what I
miss to-day, you see.”

Gerald’s face fell and he kicked disconsolately at the leg of a chair.

“That’s mean,” he said. “I guess, though, you could come if you wanted
to. I suppose I’m too much of a kid.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Dan. “I’d like to come, and I would if I could.
But they’re pretty strict about class-work at Yardley and I don’t want
to get behind. If you’ll let me come Friday I will.”

“All right.” Gerald’s face brightened. “And, say, I’m going to ask
father if he will let me go over to see you some day. I’ve never been
inside the school in my life. If I come will you show me your room and
everything?”

“Glad to, but my room doesn’t amount to much. Do you like football?”

“You bet! Do you play?”

“Some. I was trying for the team until yesterday.”

“Didn’t you make it?”

“No, they kicked me out,” laughed Dan. Gerald looked incredulous.

“Why?” he asked indignantly. “I’ll bet you’re a dandy player! Why don’t
you make them take you on?”

“It can’t be done. There are too many fellows who play a lot better
than I do. What I was going to say, though, was that if your father
will let you come over some day we’ll go down and watch practice if
you’d like to.”

“You bet I would! I’ve seen the fellows playing sometimes from the
road. Maybe I can come Saturday. Would that be all right? Where do you
live?”

“Saturday would be all right. There is a game Saturday. I room in
Clarke Hall, number 28. Can you remember that?”

“Yes, I’ll remember it all right. There’s the doctor. Shall we have him
in here?”

“Wherever you say,” answered Dan.

The doctor’s visit was soon over. Dan’s burns were healing nicely and
Gerald had nothing to show but a contusion on his head and a slight
burn on one wrist. He had stumbled over Jack when he had gone into the
play-house and had struck the edge of the table in falling. The blow
had partially stunned him, and he declared that he didn’t remember a
thing until he found himself outside on the grass. When the doctor had
gone, the big chocolate-brown touring car swung up the drive to the
steps and the two boys climbed in.

“Go around by the station, Higgins,” ordered Gerald. “That’s the
longest way,” he added gleefully, for Dan’s benefit. Dan felt that he
ought to insist on being taken back the quickest and shortest way, but
he didn’t want to offend Gerald, and, besides, the idea of lengthening
the drive was far from distasteful to him. The big car skimmed its way
down the immaculate gravel roadway, past the gardener’s lodge, through
the big stone gateway and out onto the village street. It was the
nearest thing to flying that Dan had ever experienced, never having
tried tobogganing, and he was quite content to lean back against the
yielding cushions and just watch things whizz by. But Gerald demanded
conversation. It was an event in his life to have someone of about his
own age to talk with and he made the most of it. Around the station
they flew, with a musical peal of the chimes, and darted along the
straight stretch of road toward the school. Above the Yardley buildings
dozed in the forenoon sunlight and Dan felt as though he was going
home. Then came the winding ascent and the engine took on a gruffer
tone as the big car charged upward. Then a quick turn to the right at
the top of the hill, a sudden jarring of brakes and the car stood,
quivering and chugging in front of Clarke.

Dan leaped out, shook hands with Gerald, nodded almost gratefully to
the chauffeur, who touched his cap smilingly in response, promised
again faithfully to see Gerald on Friday and then ran up the steps.
As the door closed behind him he heard the automobile taking the hill
again. When he opened the door of his room Tubby looked around from the
window at which he was standing with a sardonic grin.

“I suppose you think you’re a blooming hero,” said Tubby.



CHAPTER XIV

DAN JOINS A CONSPIRACY


The story of Dan’s adventure had preceded him up Yardley Hill, and when
he reached the locker room in the gymnasium at a few moments before
half-past eleven there was a murmur of interest from the fellows who
were getting into their gymnasium suits. Several of the fellows Dan
knew well enough to speak to and these greeted him heartily, while one
or two others, who had never before accorded him more than nods, now
went out of their ways to call him by name. Joe Chambers, one of the
editors of the _Scholiast_, had to have the story of the affair while
Dan was changing his clothes.

“This isn’t for publication, Vinton,” he assured him seriously, “but--”

“Well, I should hope not!” laughed Dan. “If you go and put anything
about it in your little old paper I’ll sue you for libel.”

“No, but go on and tell about it,” begged Chambers. Dan glanced rather
embarrassedly about the little circle which had collected.

“Why, there isn’t much to tell, Chambers,” he said finally. “I was
going along the path by the Pennimore grounds when I heard a dog
howling. And then I smelled smoke and looked through the fence and saw
young Pennimore--his name is Gerald--”

“I know,” said Chambers, “a regular little runt.”

“Well, he had started a fire in a play-house that stood down there
by the fence and was going to have the fun of putting it out with
fire-extinguishers. Somehow the dog, a dandy Irish setter, had got
inside and when I got there he was howling like the mischief. So Gerald
and I started to get him out. But by that time the place was pretty
full of smoke and Gerald couldn’t see and fell and hit his head against
a table. That knocked him out and so I went in and got him. It was
pretty hot, of course, but there wasn’t any especial danger.”

“Didn’t you get burned at all?” asked a small boy on the edge of the
circle.

“No, only a couple of little places on my arm and leg.”

“Let’s see,” said someone, eagerly.

“Oh, they are bandaged. They took Gerald and me up to the house and put
us to bed. Mr. Pennimore was dandy and I had a great old time; had my
dinner and breakfast in bed. Then--”

But at that moment the gong clanged and they swarmed upstairs to the
gymnasium and took their places at the chest-weights. At dinner time
Dan had to tell his story over again to the fellows at his table.

“Pshaw, that isn’t the way I heard it,” said Paul Rand. “I heard that
it was the kennels that was on fire and that you and the Pennimore kid
went in to rescue the dogs and that he was overcome by the smoke and
you carried him out in your arms. I’ll bet you’re lying, Vinton.” Dan
assured him earnestly that his version was the correct one and Rand
finally believed him. But everyone was especially attentive to Dan
that day and for a day or two afterwards, and the school proclaimed
him a hero. The Third Class got quite puffed up about it and put on so
many airs that the Fourth Class took umbrage and started a rumor to
the effect that the truth of the matter was that Dan had been stealing
apples, had been caught by one of the grooms or the gardener and locked
up in the stable over night. As a result there were several pitched
battles between Third and Fourth Class boys during the next few days.
But I am anticipating.

After dinner Dan was summoned to the office which he found occupied by
Mr. Collins, the Assistant Principal, and Mr. Forisher, the secretary.
Mr. Collins greeted him cordially and shook hands with him. Mr.
Forisher looked up an instant from his work and bowed almost pleasantly.

“Well, Vinton,” said the Assistant Principal, “I hear you have been
making a hero of yourself.”

“Not much of one, sir,” answered Dan.

“No? Well, Mr. John T. Pennimore tells a different story. What you
did was very well done, I should say. Just come inside here a moment,
please; the Doctor wants to see you.”

The door marked “Private” was opened and Dan passed through at Mr.
Collins’ heels. In front of a big, old-fashioned walnut desk sat
Doctor Hewitt. Dan had never spoken to the Principal and felt a trifle
alarmed. Doctor Tobias Hewitt was short, thick-set and very sturdy
looking. In spite of his years--for he was almost seventy--his cheeks
were ruddy, his face singularly free from wrinkles and he held himself
perfectly erect. He had a fine, kindly face and a very pleasant voice.

“Doctor, this is Vinton, of the Third,” said Mr. Collins.

“To be sure,” exclaimed the Doctor, rising from his chair and taking
Dan’s hand. “And a credit to the school, Mr. Collins. I’m glad to make
your nearer acquaintance, Vinton. You did a splendid thing yesterday.
I thank you on my own behalf. I’m glad that one of my boys showed such
admirable courage.”

“It wasn’t anything, sir,” said Dan, sheepishly.

“Your modesty is commendable,” replied the Principal, “but that is as
it should be; bravery and modesty should go together. Mr. Pennimore has
spoken very highly of you, my boy, and Mr. Pennimore is a gentleman
whom we hold in excellent regard. By the way, Mr. Collins, Mr.
Pennimore requested that Vinton should be allowed to visit his house. I
think we can give that permission, can we not?”

“Certainly, sir. Vinton shall have permission to visit Mr. Pennimore
whenever he likes outside of recitation hours. Of course should you
wish to go there in the evening, Vinton, it will be necessary to obtain
special permission.”

“Thank you, sir,” murmured Dan.

“You are getting along well with your work?” asked the Doctor, genially.

“Yes, sir, I think so.”

“That’s well, that’s well. School work is your first duty, Vinton, to
yourself and your parents, you know; and to us, too; yes, yes, to us,
too. Well, that’s all, I fancy, Mr. Collins. Good morning, Vinton.
I’m very glad to have seen you. I hope our meetings will always be as
pleasant as this has been.” And the Doctor laughed merrily.

Dan muttered his thanks and followed Mr. Collins back into the outer
office. Mr. Collins drew a chair up to his desk and pointed to it as he
took his own seat.

“Sit down a moment, Vinton,” he said pleasantly. “You have no
recitation coming?”

“Not until two, sir. I have English then.”

Mr. Collins glanced at the clock.

“We have half an hour, then, but I shan’t keep you more than ten
minutes. I suppose you saw something of Mr. Pennimore’s son yesterday,
didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, tell me quite confidentially what you think of him.” Dan
hesitated. “I mean give me your opinion of him, Vinton. What does he
seem like? Clever? Manly? The sort of boy you’d like to know?”

“Well, sir, of course I didn’t see a great deal of him, but I rather
liked him. He doesn’t look very strong, but I think he doesn’t get
enough outdoor exercise. And he studies pretty hard, I guess, from what
he told me. He has a private tutor, you know.”

“So I understand. Should you say he was--well, a bit spoiled, Vinton?”

“Well, a little, maybe, but not so much, sir. I think that if his
father would send him to school and let him know other fellows it would
do him good.”

“I think you’re right,” said Mr. Collins heartily. “Mr. Pennimore spoke
once to the Doctor of sending the boy here, but that was over a year
ago and we’ve heard nothing more about it. We’d like to have him, to
tell the truth, Vinton. This is quite between ourselves, if you please;
I’d rather you didn’t mention our little talk to anyone. The fact is
that Broadwood is after Mr. Pennimore to have him send his boy there. I
know that for a fact; we learn of these things, you know. And of course
it will be something of a feather in Broadwood’s cap if they get him,
just as it would be a feather in our cap if he should come here. You
understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you hear Mr. Pennimore or the boy say anything about this matter?”

“No, sir, I didn’t. I understood that he was to have a new tutor, sir.”

“I see. I suppose, now, that you will see something of Mr. Pennimore
and the boy, eh? You’re likely to go to the house pretty often?”

“I hardly know, sir. Mr. Pennimore has asked me to come, and so has
Gerald, and I promised to go over Friday. And Gerald is coming to see
me Saturday.”

“Excellent! I wonder--” Mr. Collins paused and frowned at the ink-well.
“No, better not, maybe,” he muttered. “You might show him around the
school, Vinton, when he comes; let him see what sort of a place we have
here, eh?”

“I thought I would, sir.”

“Do! Try and interest him in our school. Look here, I’m going to make
a clean breast of it to you. I want to get that boy here at Yardley.
I want to beat Broadwood. You can understand that, I guess? Of course
it will be a good advertisement for the school to have Mr. Pennimore’s
son come to us, and in this age it is as necessary for a school to
advertise as it is for any other business. But aside from that I want
to get ahead of Broadwood. Now, will you help me?”

“Why, yes, sir,” answered Dan. “I’d like to beat Broadwood, too.
Only--it sounds like a conspiracy, doesn’t it? Do you think it would be
fair?”

“Quite,” answered Mr. Collins decisively. “You can be open and
aboveboard about it. Tell the boy that you want him to come here; tell
Mr. Pennimore so, too. Try and interest them both in the school life,
in our athletics. If you can, introduce the boy to some of your friends
here; get him to come over and see you now and then. I was going to
suggest that when he visited you Saturday you might bring him over and
introduce him to the Doctor; all boys like the Doctor at first sight;
but maybe that had better come later. We’ll call it a conspiracy, if
you like, Vinton, but it will be an honest and open conspiracy. Now
what do you say?”

“I’m in on it, sir!” answered Dan eagerly. “I’d like to beat Broadwood
and I’d like to have Gerald come here to school, anyway. It would do
him good, Mr. Collins. I’ll do what I can, sir. I know that Gerald
would love to go to school somewhere and I guess he would just as lief
come here as anywhere.”

“Good! Well, the conspiracy is started then,” said Mr. Collins with
a smile. “You do what you can, Vinton, and let me know what progress
you make. I’d like to meet the boy myself, but I don’t want to let him
think we’re trying to kidnap him, so maybe I’d better keep out of it
until the right moment comes. I’m much obliged for your help, Vinton,
and if the time comes that I can be of assistance to you--of course I
mean without detriment to my duty--I hope you’ll call on me.”

If Dan walked down the corridor and out of Oxford with a suggestion
of a swagger you can hardly blame him. It seemed to him that he was
getting to be a rather important person, and he felt a little bit proud
about it. Even if he had failed at making the football team he had
been asked to help the team to success, and now his services had been
enlisted by the school office to recruit Gerald Pennimore. Things were
quite different from two weeks ago when he had known practically no one
in the school and had seemed like the merest nonentity! His mind was so
full of Gerald Pennimore’s capture that Old Tige shook his head sadly
and remarked to the class at large that heroism and rhetoric didn’t
seem to step together. Dan blushed and the rest of the fellows laughed.

After class Dan went to his room to study, for he had missed Latin and
mathematics that morning. To his relief he found that Tubby was absent.
Perhaps he had been coaxed forth by the glory of the Fall weather or
perhaps he had run out of reading matter and had gone to borrow a book
somewhere. At all events, he was not at home, and Dan was very glad of
it, for Tubby had shown an inclination to be extremely sarcastic and
disagreeable over yesterday’s affair.

At half-past five there was a sharp knock on the door and in response
to Dan’s “Come in, whoever you are!” Mr. Payson entered.

“Hello, Vinton,” he said. “How badly were you hurt in that little
rescue act of yours?”

“Not at all, sir,” answered Dan as he pulled a chair forward for the
visitor. “At least, I only got a little burn on my arm and one on my
leg.”

“Can you use them?”

“Yes, sir, they don’t hurt; just smart a little at times.”

The coach looked troubled.

“Well, you know if you hadn’t cut practice yesterday you wouldn’t have
got into trouble. I suppose it was just as well to keep away to-day,
but I guess you’ll be fit to-morrow. You’d better see Mr. Ryan in the
morning and let him see your burns.”

“But--” began Dan bewilderedly.

“Now, look here, Vinton,” interrupted Mr. Payson sharply, “I don’t want
to be nasty, for you did a plucky thing yesterday and we’re all proud
of you. But it’s got to be understood that cutting practice doesn’t go.
You’re a new boy and probably you didn’t understand. The only way you
can stay away from practice without getting into trouble with me is to
see Mr. Ryan. If he says you can lay off, all right. Otherwise I want
you to be on hand promptly every afternoon.”

“But--”

“If you can’t do that I want you to say so and I’ll accept your
resignation from the squad.”

“But I’m not on the squad!” exclaimed Dan.

“Not what?”

“I’m not on the squad, sir! I guess you’ve forgotten. You dropped me,
Mr. Payson.”

“I dropped you? Nothing of the sort, Vinton! I posted a list on the
board Monday afternoon. You should have read it.”

“I did read it,” answered Dan, smiling. “My name wasn’t on it.” Mr.
Payson looked nonplussed.

“Are you certain?” he asked.

“You bet I am! I read it three or four times, sir.”

“Well, I don’t see how that happened,” mused the coach. “I meant to
put you down. Then it was my fault. I’m glad. I was afraid you were
going to turn out to be one of those fair-weather chaps who don’t like
to come out when the grass is wet or the wind is blowing. I’m sorry I
made such a fool blunder. But you be on hand to-morrow, Vinton; don’t
forget. Glad you got out of your scrape as well as you did yesterday.
You might have got pretty well singed from what I hear. You’d better
come over to training table to-morrow. Good night.”

“Good night, sir,” answered Dan. “And--and thank you, sir.”

“What for?” asked the coach, turning at the doorway.

“For letting me stay on the squad,” replied Dan.

“Humph! Maybe you won’t thank me later on. I don’t believe there’s a
ghost of a show for you to get on the First, Vinton, although you may
get into the Broadwood game for a few minutes. Good-bye.”

When the door had closed Dan listened until Mr. Payson’s footsteps had
died away down the corridor. Then he gave a bound onto his bed and
turned a somersault, his heels landing with a thump against the wall
and seriously impairing the appearance of the wall-paper. When Tubby
came in a moment later he found Dan lying on his back with his feet on
the pillow. Tubby snorted derisively.

“I guess it’s gone to your head,” he said.



CHAPTER XV

GERALD VISITS YARDLEY


The next afternoon Dan got into the scrimmage for a few minutes at
left end on the Second and put up such a snappy game that many of the
fellows opened their eyes, while Norton, whose place he had taken
watched him anxiously from the side-line. The Second was using the
forward pass and onside kick for all they were worth, and Ridge, the
captain, had taught it two or three rather clever variations of these.
The First was learning to hold its own, but now and then the forward
pass was pulled off successfully. In the second half of the twenty
minute scrimmage which followed practice Dan got by Dickenson twice and
in each case captured the ball on a forward pass for a good gain, the
second time getting away from the First Team players and landing the
pigskin on the twelve yards before being downed by Capes. It was a run
of forty yards and it brought the handful of watchers in the grandstand
to their feet. King, the Second Team quarter, hugged him ecstatically.
The First held and got the ball away and kicked out of danger, but it
had been a near thing for them and after the whistle had blown and the
players were back in the gymnasium Dan was viewed very respectfully by
the First Team fellows.

“That was a nice little romp of yours,” said Loring. “Someone told me,
though, that you weren’t playing any more.”

“That’s what I thought myself,” panted Dan as he struggled out of his
togs. “Payson forgot to put my name on the list and so I didn’t show
up yesterday or the day before. And yesterday afternoon Payson came up
to the room and began to give me fits for not reporting. I told him he
hadn’t put my name down.”

“That was one on him,” chuckled Loring. “He ought to give you a show on
the First before long. Hope he does.”

“I guess he won’t though. He told me yesterday that I didn’t have any
show for the First.”

“Candid, anyway, wasn’t he?” Loring laughed. “But don’t you care,
Vinton. I’ll tell you something about Payson. He’s a good coach and a
dandy fellow when you get to know him, but he never could size up his
men. He’s been fooled time and again. Last year he kept Mitchell on the
Second all season until just before the Broadwood game. Then Hughes
got hurt and Mitchell was moved over to substitute Littleton. In two
days he had Littleton looking like a base imitation, got his place at
tackle and played the dandiest sort of game against Broadwood. And he’s
one of our best men this year.”

“Oh, well, I’m willing to wait until next year,” answered Dan. “All I
want is the fun of playing. Of course I’d like mighty well to get on
your team, but Dickenson and Williams and Sayer are all better than I
am.”

Loring pursed his lips and looked doubtful.

“Well, Dickenson is a dandy, all right,” he said, “and Norton is
good, but--Still, it isn’t my place to criticise. It’s early yet, and
there’ll be plenty of changes before the twenty-third of November. Now
it’s me for the merry shower.” And with a blood-curdling yell Loring
disappeared behind the rubber curtains.

Dan had telephoned Gerald Pennimore at noon that he would not be
able to make his promised visit that day. Gerald had been very much
disappointed, and a little bit sulky. Eventually, however, Dan had made
his peace and Gerald had agreed to come to Yardley the next afternoon.
He arrived at a little before two o’clock. There were no recitations
Saturday afternoons and as the game with St. John’s Academy was not
called until three Dan had a full hour in which to show Gerald about.

The automobile was sent home and Dan conducted Gerald from building
to building. They did Oxford from top to bottom, saw the commons and
peeked into the kitchens, visited Merle and Dudley and then went up to
Dan’s room. Tubby was in and so he and Gerald were introduced. Tubby
was not at his best, and that’s saying a good deal. Gerald had found
everything very interesting and fascinating, but when he told Dan and
Tubby so the latter at once began to compare Yardley and Broadwood, the
result being decidedly unflattering to Yardley. That, thought Dan would
never do, and so he suddenly recollected that it was time for him to
get dressed for the game, and he hurried Gerald off before Tubby could
do any more damage.

“You mustn’t mind Tubby Jones,” said Dan as they cut across the yard.
“He’s a chronic kicker. If he was at Broadwood he’d want to be here.
Nothing ever quite suits Tubby.”

“Do you like him much?” asked Gerald.

“Oh, we get on well enough,” answered Dan. “But Tubby isn’t exactly
what you’d call a lovable character, although he really isn’t quite as
bad as he makes you think.”

“I don’t like him,” said Gerald decisively.

Gerald was vastly interested in the gymnasium and tried all the
apparatus in turn. Then they visited the trophy room, where Dan showed
him the football and baseballs which, inscribed with names and dates,
commemorated various victories on gridiron and diamond. There were
cups, too, and one or two banners dating back nearly thirty years, and
numerous framed photographs of Yardley teams. Gerald had a stream of
questions to ask, many of them quite beyond Dan’s ability to answer.
They looked into the boxing room and Gerald wanted Dan to show him
how to box, but Dan assured him that he hadn’t taken it up yet and
hurried him off downstairs. Gerald was allowed only a peep into the
locker room, for the football fellows were in possession. Then he was
sent back to the gymnasium to amuse himself until Dan had changed his
clothes. Later they went down to the field together and Dan bought
a ticket and placed Gerald in a lower seat on the stand. After the
substitutes had been sent to the side-line, Dan took his place beside
him and explained everything to the best of his ability. Gerald didn’t
know football very well and there was plenty of work for Dan.

St. John’s Academy had sent a pretty green team to Wissining and after
the first few minutes of play it was evident that Yardley would not
have to work very hard. Mr. Payson had taught his team no new plays
as yet and so only the simplest of old-fashioned football was used
by the home team. St. John’s was light and fairly fast and had been
coached to play an open game. There were numerous tries of the forward
pass but Yardley had little trouble in frustrating them. For the most
part Yardley kept the ball and used plays through the line, especially
outside of tackle, for good gains. The first half ended with the score
18 to 0 in favor of the Blue.

Gerald became much excited as the game went on and yelled himself red
in the face. By the time the struggle was over he had become a zealous
Yardley partisan and Dan secretly congratulated himself on his success.
In the second half most of the first string men were laid off and
substitutes took their places. But even so, Yardley managed to pile
up eleven more points, so that the contest terminated with the very
satisfactory score of 29 to 0 in Yardley’s favor. Gerald climbed into
the automobile at half-past five, declaring that he had had a dandy
time and that he was going to make his father let him come to all the
remaining football games. Dan promised to go down to Sound View the
next day, Sunday, for luncheon at one o’clock and Gerald went off
supremely contented.

“Getting pretty swell, aren’t we?” asked Tubby as Dan entered the room
after seeing his guest off. “Riding around in automobiles and leaving
cards on John T.”

“Don’t be nasty, Tubby,” answered Dan good-naturedly. “What did you
think of Gerald?”

“Got so you call him that, have you? I suppose you call his father
Uncle John, don’t you? Is he going to make you a present of a steamship
line or two to play with?”

“Tubby, your sarcasm isn’t delicate enough to amuse me. Cut it out!”

“Oh, I dare say! Getting kind of particular these days, aren’t you?
Sort of finicky and--and fastidious. I’ll bet you’ll be wearing
lemon-colored gloves to church to-morrow!”

“Now, look here, Tubby,” said Dan warmly. “That’s as much of your
ill-temper as I’m going to stand. If you can’t talk decently keep still
until you can. If you don’t you and I’ll get into trouble.”

As physical combat was something that Tubby had no love for, he
subsided promptly. He kept up an angry muttering for some minutes,
but he maintained all the time a careful eye on Dan who was getting
ready for dinner. After awhile he summoned sufficient courage to say
defiantly:

“You might as well keep that little Pennimore chump out of this room
while I’m in it, for I tell you right now, Dan Vinton, that he makes me
sick and I don’t intend to be sweet to him and lick his shoes even if
he is as rich as all get-out!”

“Tubby,” replied Dan very politely, “I never thought for a moment that
you could be sweet to anyone.”

“Is that so?” Tubby growled. “You think you’re smart, don’t you? That
little chump isn’t any better than I am, even if his father has money.
So has mine, for that matter. How did old John T. make his money,
anyhow? By grinding it out of the poor, that’s how! He’s just a great
big trust; owns all the steamships and puts the prices up, and--”

“Well, don’t let you and I worry about it,” said Dan. “We haven’t got
to buy any of his steamships. So the price doesn’t matter to us, Tubby.”

“Oh, I suppose you think he’s going to give you passes on them,” Tubby
jeered. “Why, he’s one of the meanest men in the country; everyone
knows that! I’ll bet you didn’t get anything but a bunch of thanks for
pulling his kid out of the fire!”

“Tubby!” said Dan warningly. “Cut it out now. I told you once!”

“Huh!” said Tubby.

The next day Dan walked over to Sound View from church and found
Gerald impatiently awaiting him at the lodge.

“I thought you weren’t coming,” exclaimed Gerald. “I’ve been waiting
half an hour. Say, I told father about the football game and he’s
promised to let me go again some time. Isn’t that great?”

Dan agreed that it was, and all the way along the winding road to the
house Gerald talked football with the enthusiasm of a new convert. Dan
had to promise to show him how to drop-kick and how to tackle.

“You’d soon get the hang of it, though,” said Dan, “if you’d go over in
the afternoons and see the fellows practice. Then you could get your
ball and try it yourself.”

“But father won’t let me go over there, I guess; at any rate, not
unless my tutor goes along. And that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?
I’d like to learn something about football now because I mean to go to
school next year.”

“Will your father let you?”

“I’m going to keep after him until he does,” answered Gerald. “I wish I
had some brothers and sisters,” he added gloomily.

“Yes, it wouldn’t be nearly so lonesome,” said Dan sympathetically.

“Oh, it isn’t that! But if father had some more children he wouldn’t
be so blamed careful of me!”

“What school are you thinking about?” Dan asked carelessly.

“Oh, I don’t know,” was the vague reply. “Father used to talk about
Broadwood a year or so ago. But I don’t want to go there. Then there is
a school in New York City he fancies. I guess he likes that because I
could live at home. But that wouldn’t be the same thing at all, would
it? Say, are you going to be at Yardley next year?”

“Hope to,” answered Dan. Gerald was silent a moment. There was
evidently something he wanted to say. Finally,

“I’d like to go to Yardley if you were going to be there,” he said
rather shyly.

“I’d like to have you,” replied Dan heartily. “Why don’t you ask your
father to let you come next Fall?”

“Do you think I could pass the examinations?”

“Yes, I’m pretty sure you could. You ought to make the Third Class.”

“Would you be in that?”

“No, Second Class next year, unless I failed at my finals. You’d have
to study fairly hard if you came to Yardley, but it would be lots
easier than what you’re doing now, I guess. When you are going along
with a lot of other fellows it doesn’t seem so bad.”

“No, that’s just it,” said Gerald aggrievedly. “There’s no fun in being
the only fellow in class.”

“Has your father found a new tutor yet?”

“No.” Gerald’s face brightened. “And he can’t get one before Tuesday or
Wednesday, anyhow. That gives me three days more vacation, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, if he doesn’t come until Wednesday,” answered Dan with a smile at
the younger boy’s delight.

“Say,” said Gerald presently, “are you going to room with that Jones
fellow next year?”

“Not if I--no, I don’t think so.” Dan was silent an instant, thinking
hard. Then, “I tell you what,” he said. “You get your father to let you
come to Yardley and then, if you like, you and I’ll arrange to room
together. That is, if your father wanted you to.”

“Will you do that?” cried Gerald eagerly. “That would be fine! I’ll ask
him to-day! He thinks you’re great, Vinton; he said so the other night.
If I tell him I can room with you, maybe he will let me go! Come on,
there he is on the terrace!”



CHAPTER XVI

AN AFTERNOON AFLOAT


Mr. Pennimore was awaiting them on the broad, red-tiled terrace outside
the library. He had a pleasant smile and a firm hand-clasp for the
visitor.

“Well, Dan, I’m glad to see you,” he said. “You don’t look as though
you had been damaged much by your adventure. Where do you get that
color in your cheeks? I wish my boy looked as healthy as you do.” He
glanced from one face to the other and shook his head. “Gerald looks
like a city boy beside you. What’s the secret, Dan?”

“Just being out of doors a lot, sir, I guess,” was the reply.

“But so is Gerald,” said Mr. Pennimore.

“Yes, but he doesn’t get the exercise I do,” Dan laughed. “He needs to
play football and get his blood circulating.”

“Circulating out through his nose?” asked Mr. Pennimore dryly.

“Oh, we don’t get hurt much, sir. And, anyway, we don’t mind a few
knocks. It makes it more fun.”

“Really. Well, everyone to his taste! But I don’t think Gerald would
take kindly to having his teeth knocked out or--”

“Yes, I would, sir!” cried Gerald eagerly. “I’d like it!”

Mr. Pennimore’s eyebrows were lifted in comic surprise.

“Well, this is something new,” he said. “This must be your influence,
Dan. Or was it the football game you witnessed yesterday, Gerald?”

“Neither, sir. But I’d like to play football and things like other
fellows, father. Nothing ever happens to me,” he added dolefully.

“Something pretty nearly happened to you last week,” replied his
father gravely. “I suppose that, on the whole, football is fairly mild
compared to being burned up! So you’d like to play football, son? Well,
here’s Dan. Can’t he and you have a game together sometimes?”

“Two fellows can’t play football!” said Gerald scathingly.

“Oh, can’t they? No, I suppose not--not a regular game; but I should
think you could run and kick the ball around and--er--throw each other
down.”

“Oh, there’s no fun in that,” answered Gerald. “I want to play real
football, sir.”

“Well, go ahead,” said Mr. Pennimore gravely. “Say what you want to,
son.”

But Gerald hesitated. He shot an entreating glance at Dan, and, finding
no assistance forthcoming from that quarter, took the plunge.

“I want to go to school, father! And--and I’m going, too!”

“Hold on, Gerald! You mean that you’re going if I am willing that you
should, don’t you?”

There was a moment of rebellion and then Gerald nodded and took his
father’s hand contritely. Mr. Pennimore put his arm over the boy’s
shoulders and drew him against him.

“That’s better, son,” he said kindly. “We don’t allow insubordination
on this ship, do we?” He turned and looked closely at Dan who had
perched himself on the balustrade. The look said: “This is your doing,
my friend,” and Dan returned it steadily.

“Let’s talk this over,” said Mr. Pennimore. “Bring out some chairs,
Gerald.” Gerald disappeared through the nearest door and came back with
two willow chairs. Dan helped him through the door with them.

“Here’s yours, sir,” said Gerald. “And here’s yours, Vinton.” Then
he tossed a couple of cushions onto the tiles and dropped onto them
cross-legged. “And here’s mine,” he laughed.

“Now,” said Mr. Pennimore. “What is this? A conspiracy?” He was looking
at Dan rather than his son and Dan answered.

“No, sir, not exactly. Gerald said he wanted to go to school and
I asked him why he didn’t come to Yardley. I’d like him to, Mr.
Pennimore. I thought that maybe if he entered next year he and I could
get a room together, that is, sir, if you didn’t mind.”

“Yardley, eh?” mused Mr. Pennimore. “Well, Yardley’s a good school from
all I hear, and I’ve done one or two things for it and so have a little
interest in it. But do you think that this boy of mine would get on all
right at a boarding-school, Dan? You know he isn’t what you’d call a
vigorous boy, nor is he very--what shall I say?--self-depending.”

“He doesn’t seem to be weak, sir,” answered Dan. “He just needs filling
out. He’s too thin.” Mr. Pennimore smiled. Gerald looked anxiously from
one to the other.

“You think that life at Yardley Hall would fill him out, do you?” Mr.
Pennimore asked.

“Yes, sir,” answered Dan stoutly. “I feel sure it would. A chap lives
pretty regularly and gets the right sort of things to eat and has lots
of good exercise. Don’t you think. I’m right, sir?”

“Bless us, you mustn’t ask me!” laughed Mr. Pennimore. “I’m not going
to help you make out your case, Dan; I’m for the defense! But how about
the rest of it? Do you think Gerald could stand the--the régime?”

Dan wasn’t quite certain about that word, but risked it and replied
that he thought he could.

“But a boy is thrown on his own resources a good deal at boarding-school,
isn’t he, Dan?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And do you think that Gerald could look out for himself? Think he
could keep out of mischief, do you?”

“I don’t see why not, sir. Besides, he’s got to--”

“Well, go on,” prompted Mr. Pennimore as Dan stopped.

“I meant he’d have to learn to look after himself sometime, sir, and I
don’t see why he mightn’t just as well learn now.”

“Pshaw,” exclaimed Gerald disgustedly, “anyone would think I was a
regular baby!”

“And--and I’d help him all I could, sir,” added Dan earnestly.

“Thank you,” responded Mr. Pennimore. “I think you would. And I don’t
mind saying that the fact of your being there with Gerald would weigh a
good deal with me. But I’ll have to think this over, boys. There’s lots
of time before next September, lots of time. We’ll talk about it again.
What do you say, Gerald?”

“All right, sir.” But it was plain that Gerald wasn’t in favor of
postponing action on his motion. Mr. Pennimore smiled.

“And you, Dan?” he asked.

“It’s just as you say, sir. It isn’t necessary to decide now, I guess.
And, besides, I’ll have more time to persuade you!”

“Oh, so I’m to be put under pressure, am I?” asked Mr. Pennimore with a
twinkle in his eye. Dan nodded vigorously.

“Yes, sir, I give you fair warning, you see. I’m going to get Gerald to
Yardley if it can be done!”

“I salute my adversary,” laughed Mr. Pennimore. “Now shall we call a
truce and take a walk down to the beach?”

“I want Dan--” Gerald pulled himself up and colored.

Mr. Pennimore glanced at Dan and their eyes met. Each smiled a little.

“I guess if you’re going to room together next year,” said the former,
“there’s no harm in learning each other’s first names, eh, Dan?”

“No, sir.”

“I want him to see the yacht, sir,” went on Gerald hurriedly. “Couldn’t
we go aboard?”

“Now?” asked his father. “Why not take a sail after luncheon? I guess
Dan would like that better than just looking over the boat. Wouldn’t
you?”

“Yes, sir, very much,” replied Dan eagerly. “I--I’ve never been on a
yacht.”

“Oh, glory!” shouted Gerald. “Think of that! We’ll have a dandy time,
won’t we, father?”

“Of course we will,” answered Mr. Pennimore. “We’ll take Dan out and
get him seasick. That’ll be fun, won’t it?”

Gerald laughed enjoyably, but Dan looked a little doubtful.

“Do you think I’ll be seasick?” he asked anxiously. But Mr. Pennimore
assured him that he wouldn’t as the water was perfectly calm and the
_Princess_ was a pretty big boat. They walked down to the pier. The
big white steam yacht was lying bow-to a little distance away and Dan
studied her with a new interest. He had never thought to set foot on
her and he was so excited over the prospect that he hardly knew what
was set before him when, half an hour later, they were seated at the
table in the big sun-bathed dining room.

“By the way,” said Mr. Pennimore in the course of luncheon, “I’ve
been inquiring about that railroad, Dan. I’ll have a full report on
it to-morrow or Tuesday and I’ll let you know the next time I see you
what can be done. I think, though, that I shall be able to persuade the
directors that a new survey taking in--what’s the name of that place?”

“Graystone, sir?”

“Yes, Graystone. That a new survey taking in Graystone will be
advisable.”

“Thank you,” murmured Dan. “I wish you wouldn’t trouble about it,
though, Mr. Pennimore. It--it doesn’t matter.”

“Oh, but it does. I--er--recall your father now, Dan; we had some
correspondence a few years ago. He is a very admirable man, my boy, and
if I can do him a small favor I shall be glad to, especially since it
will indirectly bring satisfaction to you.”

Then Gerald cut in and demanded to know what they were talking about
and explanations followed.

Dan isn’t likely to forget that Sunday afternoon for a good while.
At three they were taken aboard the _Princess_ in a little gasoline
tender that was a marvel of mahogany and gleaming brass, and from the
time he reached the top of the steps and set foot on the immaculate
deck until the short cruise was over and the anchor chain was once more
roaring through the hawsehole he was in a constant state of wonderment
and delight. And Gerald enjoyed it all even more. It wasn’t often he
had the fun of showing off the yacht to anyone, and here was a person
who had never even seen such a craft save at a distance. He lugged Dan
tirelessly from one end of the long deck to the other, down into the
saloon, forward to the forecastle and the galley to the engine room, up
to the wheel-house and back to the chart-room and the state-rooms and
all the other places. He opened cupboards and exhibited conveniences
until Dan became convinced that the only necessity or luxury not
provided on board the _Princess_ was a football field!

Gerald overhauled the flag-locker for Dan’s amusement, played on the
pianola, started the talking machine, pulled books from the cases,
upset chemicals in the little dark-room, explained the purpose of
this thing and that until Dan’s head was in a whirl. And all the time
Dan was begrudging every moment he spent away from the deck. At last,
when Fisher’s Island was abreast of them, the boys returned to Mr.
Pennimore who had long since yielded the duties of host to Gerald and
was seated on the rear deck with a magazine in hand. Dan watched the
white wake fascinatedly and could scarcely be made to show a proper
interest in the points along shore. The wind was blowing keen and crisp
from the north and the boys had donned extra coats and laid aside their
caps. The _Princess_ cut her way through the green water without the
least bit of fuss and the motion was almost imperceptible. But on the
homeward course the yacht began to lift her heels a little and dip her
white nose into the swells. The boys went forward and leaning over
the rail, watched the waves curl and swish past the bow. For awhile
Dan feared that he was going to be ill. It wasn’t the prospect of
physical discomfort that alarmed him, but like most novices he thought
sea-sickness a disgrace and didn’t want his hosts to be ashamed of
him. But the first qualms soon passed off and by the time the tower
of Oxford Hall was once more in sight at the crest of the hill he was
convinced that he was a born sailor!

At five o’clock the big car rolled up to the door and for the better
part of an hour Dan sat between Mr. Pennimore and Gerald and was
whisked magically along twilighted country roads until he had lost
all sense of location. Not that that bothered him any. He was content
to sit there, warm and snug under the fur robes, and feel the wind in
his face and watch the trees and houses, fields and hillsides roll
unceasingly by. Too soon it was all over and he was saying good-night
and thanking his hosts on the steps of Clarke, while a group of boys
looked curiously and enviously across from the porch of Whitson.

“I’m coming to see you Saturday,” called Gerald as the big car turned
around. “Don’t forget!”

“I won’t! And I’ll be over Tuesday if I possibly can. I’ll telephone
you, Gerald! Good-night! Good-night, Mr. Pennimore! I had a swell time,
sir!”

“Good-night, my boy. Come and see us. Home, Higgins.”

_Chug, chug, chug!_ said the car and then the red light at the rear
grew smaller and smaller and dimmer and dimmer as the car dropped down
the long hill in the darkness. Dan gave a deep sigh of mingled pleasure
and regret and climbed the stairs.



CHAPTER XVII

LIGHT BLUE OR DARK?


It was the first week in November and Yardley Hall was football mad.
The four class elevens were practicing daily on the stretch of turf
south of the tennis courts and applauding partisans, wearing their
class colors on their caps, were wrought to heights of frenzied
enthusiasm as they followed their teams up and down the field.

There had been a full week of cold weather and the tennis courts were
well-nigh deserted. Canoes were hauled into the boat-house and even the
golf links was for the nonce uninhabited territory. The school played
football and talked football and very likely dreamt football. Kilts--I
am speaking of Professor McIntyre, you understand--had occasioned
intense indignation throughout the Second Class a few days before
by sending the captain of the Second Class Eleven to the office for
drawing diagrams of football plays at recitation. This, declared the
class, was an act of tyranny. The captain had been kept from practice
for a space of one week in order, according to Mr. Collins, that he
might have time to make up his mathematics. The Second Class, however,
declared bitterly that it was in order that they might be beaten by the
First. “Kilts” added to his unpopularity, but seemed to bear up with
wonderful fortitude under his disgrace.

The varsity eleven had journeyed abroad and had wrested victory from
defeat in the last few minutes of play in the game with Carrel’s School
and a week later had piled up seventeen points on Porter Institute.
The latter game was played on Yardley Field and in it Dan had had his
baptism by fire, going in in the last five minutes of the contest
after both Williams and Norton had been hurt. He had little to do, as
it happened, and no chance to distinguish himself. On Monday he had
gone back to the Second Team again just as though nothing eventful
had happened. That was a disappointment, for he had hoped that after
playing on the First he would be retained as a substitute. But there
was too much going on to allow him time for regrets. Football practice
now was hard and fast. The preliminary season was at an end. Payson
was no longer teaching the rudiments of the game, but football in its
higher branches; advanced football, as one might say. The team had been
drilled into a pretty stiff aggregation on defense and now new plays
were receiving attention and the offense was being developed.

That meant hard work for the Second Eleven, hard work and hard knocks,
too. There were times when Dan told himself that it was a pretty
thankless job, this standing up just to be knocked down again and
walked on by the First Team. But that was when he was tired and aching
and after the First had pushed them around the field at its own sweet
will. For the First was getting to be very obstreperous those days, and
felt pained and grieved when it couldn’t score at least twice on the
Second in a thirty minute scrimmage. But Dan wouldn’t have yielded his
place at the right end of the Second’s line for anything that anyone
could offer him. He had beaten out Sayer for the position and he meant
to hold it. And, besides, they had a pretty good time together, the
fellows of the Second. By mid-season a spirit of camaraderie had taken
possession of them and they were really closer together than were the
members of the First Eleven. King, their quarter-back, dubbed them the
“Society of the Goats,” and the name was accorded instant approval.

There had been two meetings of the Advisory Committee in Payson’s room
and Dan had attended each. No very startling suggestions were made,
but the situation was talked over on each occasion, various plays were
thrashed out with the aid of Payson’s board and disks, and, if the
meetings accomplished nothing more, they brought coach and players into
closer accord and added to the enthusiasm.

The remaining games were all hard ones; Brewer Athletic Association at
Brewer on November 9; Nordham Academy at Yardley on the 16th; Broadwood
Academy at Yardley on the 23rd. Of course the Broadwood game was the
contest for which coach and players, and in fact the whole school, were
bending their energies, but there was a strong desire on everyone’s
part to get through the season with a clean record, something that had
not happened for three years. So far there had been no defeats, but
Brewer A. A. was always a tough proposition, since the players, mostly
mill hands, were a sturdy, hard-fighting lot and were coached by a
professional who was not over-careful as to the tactics employed by his
charges. The game was always played at Brewer on a field that was none
too good and the entire town turned out to shout for its eleven and to
hoot the opponents.

Once, several years before, Brewer had taken defeat so greatly to
heart that the Yardley players had had to literally fight their way
off the field and more than one discolored eye or ensanguined nose had
resulted. The Yardley faculty had stepped in then and forbidden further
meetings with Brewer. But after a lapse of two years, on Brewer’s
promise to be good, the faculty had relented and the teams had met as
before. Yardley approved of the game with Brewer because it afforded
the team a contest with a first-class opponent who knew all the tricks
of the game and was certain to be right up to date in its playing. If
the Yardley defense had had its own way so far, at the Brewer game it
had to buckle down and go its limit. The main objection to the Brewer
contest was the fact that it was likely to result in a rather appalling
list of injuries. But so far Andy Ryan had always managed to bring the
cripples back to the game in plenty of time for Broadwood.

During the fortnight following Dan’s trip on the _Princess_ he had
seen a good deal of Gerald and Mr. Pennimore. He had spent another
Sunday at Sound View and had been there for two short visits when Mr.
Pennimore was absent. So far the matter of Gerald’s schooling was still
in abeyance, although it was constantly under discussion by the boys
themselves. The new tutor had not yet arrived, Mr. Pennimore being, he
said, unable to find anyone who came up to the requirements. Gerald
was in clover and expressed fervent hopes that the right person would
continue to elude his father; only he expressed it differently. He had
seen the game with Porter Institute and had watched practice on several
occasions. During the practice scrimmages it is doubtful if ever a
player had a warmer admirer on the side-lines than had Dan. For Gerald
had succumbed to hero-worship in its most virulent form and was only
contented when Dan was within sight. And for his part, Dan returned
the younger boy’s liking, although less fervently. In spite of his
surroundings and his rich prospects Gerald had seemed to Dan a rather
forlorn little figure, and sympathy had paved the way for a warmer
feeling. In spite of his faults, which were due to his bringing-up
rather than to his real character, Gerald was a companionable sort of
chap, cheerful, wholehearted and usually generous. He wasn’t quite free
from a form of snobbishness, but Dan was knocking that out of him fast.
And he was inclined to be selfish where his own pleasure was involved.
For instance, had he had his way Dan would have spent all his spare
moments at Sound View; it seemed not to occur to him that Dan might
have more important things to do than to supply companionship for him.
But this was more thoughtlessness than anything else, and Dan speedily
disillusioned him. Gerald sulked for a day and then accepted Dan’s
decision cheerfully.

The matter of the Sedalia, Dayton and Western Railroad was settled.
It was going to run through Graystone. Mr. Pennimore said so and that
settled it once and for all. The new survey would not be made until
early Spring and meanwhile the news was not likely to get abroad. But
Dan, when he went home for Christmas was at liberty to tell his father,
and he was sure that that announcement would be the best Christmas gift
his father would receive. Dan never knew how Mr. Pennimore obtained his
result, and I’m afraid he didn’t much care. As a matter of fact it was
all very easy, the purchase of a third of the interest in the new road
placing the Steamship King where he could dictate to his associates.
This cost Mr. Pennimore a pretty sum of money, but he didn’t begrudge a
cent of it. Doubtless the investment would eventually prove profitable,
although Mr. Pennimore, for once, didn’t consider that feature of the
transaction.

About the first of November Dan became a member of the Cambridge
Debating Society. He had received invitations from both the Cambridge
and Oxford Societies, and during the three or four days which remained
before it was necessary to make a decision he became aware of the fact
that a number of fellows were being uncommonly attentive to him. They
dropped in to see him in the evenings and invited him to their rooms,
they displayed a surprising knowledge of his personal likes, dislikes
and ambitions and talked admiringly of his football work. But sooner
or later the conversation always reached the subject of the debating
societies and the merits of one or the other were earnestly dwelt
upon. On one occasion Dan entertained a member of each of the rival
societies at one time and a really delicious comedy was enacted. The
Cambridge member was Paul Rand, while Oxford was represented by Joe
Chambers. They were killingly polite to each other and for half an hour
the conversation wandered from golf to football and from mid-winter
examinations to the conduct of the _Scholiast_ of which Chambers was an
editor. Each tried to outstay the other, but in the end they retired
together, for there were other fellows awaiting their attention. And
not once had Societies been mentioned.

New members were taken into the societies twice a year, in November and
May, Third Class fellows in November and Fourth Class fellows in May.
Sooner or later every fellow in school had the chance to join one or
other of the societies, but it was considered something of an honor
to receive invitations from both. The societies had rooms on the top
floor of Oxford; very comfortable rooms they were, too, with plenty
of easy chairs and window-seats, good reference libraries, and places
to write. For the societies were social as well as deliberative, and
while regular debates were held one evening a week the other evenings
saw informal gatherings that were quite as pleasant. The rooms, too,
offered excellent retreats in which to study between recitations.

Oxford was the older institution by twelve years, but beyond that had
no advantages over Cambridge. Twice a year, in December and June, the
rivals met in debate, each society selecting its debaters by a series
of trials. These debates, especially the mid-winter one, wrought the
school into quite a frenzy of excitement and for weeks ahead the
fellows wore knots of dark blue or light blue in their coat lapels,
according as they owned allegiance to Oxford or Cambridge. In June a
ball followed the joint debate and the rivalry waxed warm once more,
each society striving to outdo the other socially. As this event
occurred during graduation week sisters and cousins were on hand in
numbers and the big assembly hall presented a brilliant sight.

Dan had not the slightest idea which society he wanted to join. He
didn’t see that it made a particle of difference, anyway. Oxford
boasted of a combination billiard and pool table, but as Dan had never
played either that didn’t appeal to him. Cambridge pointed with pride
to her preponderance of debating victories, but as debating didn’t
attract him that didn’t prove much of an inducement. He sounded Tubby
on the subject and Tubby was eloquent but not helpful.

“What’s the good of belonging to either of them?” asked Tubby
scornfully. “I am an Oxford fellow, but I’d just as lief not be. They
soak you two dollars a year and then make you subscribe in the spring
for the dance. You don’t get anything out of it. It’s no fun listening
to Joe Chambers and Jimmy Clapp spouting about things they don’t
understand. Gee! the first time I went to a debate I fell asleep! I
never went again but once.”

“But the rooms are jolly and they have pretty good times, don’t they?”

“I never had any,” answered Tubby, gloomily. “They get up there and
play chess or checkers or sit around and chew the rag. What fun is
there in that? Over at Broadwood they have regular secret societies,
and there’s some sense in those. A fellow can--”

But Dan had fled.



CHAPTER XVIII

LORING DECIDES


After practice that afternoon Dan encountered Alfred Loring in the
locker room. Loring grabbed him by his bath-robe and fixed him with a
stern gaze.

“Say, Vinton, Joe Chambers says you’re going to join Oxford. Is that
right?”

“Why--I don’t know yet. I haven’t decided,” stammered Dan.

“Then it isn’t too late,” said Loring, with an exaggerated sigh of
relief. “There’s still time to save yourself from humiliation and
dishonor.”

“Don’t you like Oxford?” asked Dan innocently.

“Oxford! _Oxford!_” replied the other scathingly. “Do I look to you
like an idiot, Vinton? Answer me quite frankly; do I?”

“No,” laughed Dan. “But you know there are quite a few fellows who do
belong to Oxford.”

“Sore-heads,” responded Loring promptly. “Fellows who couldn’t make
Cambridge and are trying to hide their despair under a pretense of
happiness. Don’t let them fool you, my boy.”

“Still,” said Dan thoughtfully, “Oxford has a billiard table!”

“Huh! A billiard table! Have you ever seen it? Give you my word,
Vinton, if you start a ball at one end of that table it’ll roll to the
full length of the cloth, go over the edge and drop on the floor! Why,
that table was old and decrepit when Adam was a little child! Old Tobey
brought it over from England with him, they tell me! And even with
their blessed billiard table they can’t win a debate more than once in
two years. We let ’em win now and then for fear they’ll get discouraged
and quit. Now, don’t you go and link your fate to a one-horse society
like Oxford when you’ve got the chance to be a Cambridge fellow. Don’t
you do it, Vinton. Cambridge has got the pick of the school. Look at
Colton and Capes and Mitchell and Hill and Ridge and--and lots of
others!”

“And Loring,” said Dan with a smile.

“And Loring! I wanted to mention him but modesty forbade. Now just as
soon as you get your clothes on, Vinton, you run over--No, by Jove, I
won’t trust you! A fellow who can even contemplate associating with
Oxford can’t be trusted to look after himself. You wait for me and
I’ll take you over to my room and guard the door while you write your
acceptance!”

“To Oxford, you mean?”

“To Ox--” Loring looked terribly pained and glanced nervously about
them. “Please don’t say those things even in fun,” he begged. “Someone
might hear you and think you were in earnest!”

“All right,” answered Dan, “I’ll wait for you. And meanwhile I’ll think
it over and reach a decision.” Loring grinned and slapped him on the
back.

“The decision is already decisioned, my boy,” he laughed. “I’ve
attended to that. All you’ve got to do is to write what I tell you to!
Don’t move from where you are.”

As strict obedience would have necessitated his going to Loring’s room
in his bath-robe, Dan ventured to disobey. After they were both dressed
they went across to Dudley and Loring led the way along to one of the
first floor rooms, Number 7.

“You’ve never honored my humble roof before, have you?” asked Loring as
he ushered Dan into a very comfortably furnished room. “Sorry Tom isn’t
here. You know him, though, don’t you?”

“Tom who?” asked Dan.

“Tom Dyer. He’s my room-mate. Plays right half, you know.”

“No, I’ve never met him.”

“Well, you must. He’s a good sort.” Then Loring’s face grew suddenly
sad and he shook his head. “There’s only one thing wrong with Tom,”
he said dejectedly. “He’s an Oxford fellow. But it wasn’t really his
fault, Vinton, and you must try not to hold it against him. They got
hold of him when he was young and innocent and regularly kidnapped him.
We don’t speak of it here, and I only mentioned it so that you might
avoid the subject. He’s dreadfully touchy about it.”

Dan promised gravely not to allude to the matter in Dyer’s presence and
Loring brightened again.

“That’s right, find a decent chair,” he said. “Now, let’s see. Here’s
paper and an envelope. Can you write with a fountain pen? I prefer them
myself, they’re so nice and messy. This is a non-leakable one, you
know, so look out for the ink. I’ve worn out two hunks of pumice stone
already this fall. And here’s a stamp. It seems to have been at one
time attached to a letter and subsequently rescued. But I’ve got some
paste somewhere.”

“But what shall I say?” asked Dan.

“Eh? Oh, anything you like; there’s no fixed form for accepting, you
know. You might just say that you accept with pleasure the invitation
of Cambridge Debating Society, and let it go at that. I forget just
what I wrote, but it was short and sweet. If you like you might add:
‘P. S. Down with Oxford,’ but I don’t know that it is necessary.
That’s the ticket. Now here’s your envelope.”

“Thanks. Let’s see, Loring, is there one or two f’s in Oxford?”

“Here! What are you doing!” yelled the other. “Please don’t joke; my
nerves aren’t what they were when I was young. That’s all right. Now
we’ll just drop this into the box in front of Oxford, and then you can
eat your supper with a clear conscience. My boy, when I think of what
you escaped--” Words appeared to fail him. “But it’s all right now,
it’s all right now. Bear up, Vinton.”

Dan was bearing up beautifully, and continued to do so for half an
hour longer while they discussed the subject uppermost in all minds,
football.

“I’m in a blue funk over the Brewer game,” said Loring. “You needn’t
mention it, but it’s a fact just the same. We’re going to get beaten as
sure as shooting!”

“Why?” asked Dan.

“Because we aren’t up to the game, my boy. We are a lot of pretty
ragged players as yet and it’ll take another week to work us around.
I know, for I’ve been two years with the team. I know just what will
happen. We’ll go down there and try a forward pass or two, and maybe
an on-side kick, and they won’t come off right and Payson will put us
back at the old style playing and we’ll just run up against a stone
wall. He hasn’t any faith in this open play, Vinton, and just as soon
as it begins to go against us he will get scared. He makes believe that
he’s reconciled to the new rules, but he isn’t, not a bit. If he had
his way they’d bring back the old rules. You see, Payson knows where
he is when it comes to the old style of mass-playing, and he isn’t the
sort of a fellow to learn new tricks very readily. And just as sure--”

“But you’ll be running the team Saturday,” said Dan. “You can pull off
whatever plays you like.”

“I’m not going to start the game,” answered Loring. “Payson is afraid
I’ll go fine, I guess. He’s going to put in Clapp. If Clapp does all
right I’ll be out altogether.”

“That’s a shame,” cried Dan.

“Oh, I don’t mind. Except that I’d like to get a crack at Brewer. And
I’d like to be able to run the team the way I wanted to for the first
half. I’d keep them guessing, I promise you. Clapp will do as he’s
told, and if Payson says try a forward pass and stop it if it doesn’t
go he will do just that. Brewer always has a fierce old team; her men
are like oxen, Vinton.”

“How old are the fellows?”

“The Brewer chaps? Well, they’re supposed to be under twenty-one;
that’s the age limit in our agreement with them. But--” Loring
smiled--“last year they had fellows in the line that’ll never see
twenty-six again.”

“Gee! I don’t see how we can be expected to do much against them,
then,” said Dan.

“We couldn’t if we weren’t in lots better training. They’re usually
slow and we get the jump on them right along, and that helps. They
can’t run much, as a rule, and they can’t punt. It’s in the old-style
hammer-and-tongs football that Brewer shows up best. Her line’s a hard
proposition. Besides, they’re a rough lot and slug like anything.”

“I wish I were going to play,” said Dan regretfully.

“You’re better out of it,” answered Loring. “You and I are too light to
do much against those chaps. I guess, between you and me, that that’s
one reason Payson’s keeping me out. He’s afraid some of those chaps
will break me in half. I played for awhile last year and got a nasty
ankle out of it. Someone deliberately twisted it in a pile-up.”

“Brutes!” growled Dan.

“Well, I don’t know,” answered Loring. “I’ve talked with some of them
and I don’t believe they’re so bad. The trouble is that they don’t
know the difference between clean playing and dirty. This fellow,
McMannis, who coaches them is a professional and he’s all for winning;
he’s afraid he will lose his job, you see, if he doesn’t turn out
winning teams. I guess they pay him a pretty tidy little sum. You’d
better come along and see the game, Vinton.”

“I will,” Dan replied. “How do you get there?”

“Train or trolley. Half an hour by train and a little over an hour by
trolley. We usually go by trolley. It’s more fun and there’s lots to
see. We have a car to ourselves, you know. Maybe Payson will let you
come along if you ask him. He had you on the First the other day and
that ought to give you the right to go along if you pay your own fare.
Still, he turned a lot of fellows down last year who wanted to go with
the team. But you’d better ask him.”

“I guess I will,” Dan said. “Have you fellows got any new plays for
Brewer?”

“Nothing much. There’s a fake forward pass that may turn the trick, but
it’s risky. No, it’ll be the same old thing, I guess, smash and run,
run and smash. I think we’ll be able to work their ends this year.”

“I hope we win,” muttered Dan.

“So do I, but I don’t expect it. If they can work forward passes on us
they’ll have us running. We haven’t learned how to spoil those things
yet, Vinton.”

“If they’re well done they’re pretty hard to spoil,” said Dan
thoughtfully. “I know the forward pass opens up the play a good deal
and all that sort of thing, but I don’t care an awful lot for it,
Loring.”

“Well, it’s a good idea in a way, but there’s a beastly lot of luck
about it. It gives a weaker team a mighty good chance to score on a
stronger one, I think. And that doesn’t seem right, does it? Say, what
time is it getting to be? I’m hungry!”

“It’s almost six,” said Dan, looking at his watch. “I’ve stayed an
awful long time, and maybe you wanted to do something.”

“Don’t you believe it! I’m glad you did stay. I wanted to talk. The
fact is, Vinton, I’ve got the jumps to-day. The first thing I know Andy
will have me laid off for going fine. Let’s go over and eat.”

Loring attended personally to the posting of Dan’s letter of acceptance
and then they entered Commons together, and those Oxford fellows who
saw realized that Dan Vinton had escaped them.

“You come around again and see me,” said Loring as they parted at the
door. “And I want to take you up to the Society room and introduce you
when you get your membership. Don’t forget.”

Dan thanked him and made his way to the second training table and to
the “Society of the Goats.”



CHAPTER XIX

FOOTBALL WITH BREWER


Dan didn’t have to ask Payson’s permission to accompany the team to
Brewer on the ninth, for when the list was posted his name was on it.
Williams was still on the injured list and it was thought advisable to
take a full set of substitute ends along. Minturn was to take Williams’
place, Dickenson was to play at right end as usual and Vinton and
Norton, of the Second, were to substitute. When the carriages left the
gymnasium at half-past twelve on Saturday afternoon there were eighteen
players and substitutes aboard. Then there was Payson, Andy Ryan, Paddy
Forbes, the rubber, and Stevie. Stevie was Mr. Stephen Parke Austin,
A.B., instructor in chemistry, a man of twenty-four so recently off his
college football field that he was still an enthusiastic follower of
the game. The school rules required that when the team played away from
home it should be accompanied by one of the faculty, and to Mr. Austin
this office usually fell. The fellows all liked Stevie, and were always
pleased when he occupied the position of “chaperone.”

In the Square at Greenburg the expedition alighted and cooled their
heels until the special car made its appearance. There were plenty
of stores handy and so the fellows spent money riotously for sweet
chocolate and chewing gum. There was a popular demand for peanuts but
Andy wouldn’t allow its gratification. The special car finally put in
its appearance and they fought their way inside. There were plenty
of seats for all, but that didn’t prevent them from indulging in a
small-sized riot. Andy smiled approvingly. He liked to see the team
cut up a bit; it proved that they had plenty of spirit. Dan found
himself between big Hadlock, the left guard, and Clapp, the substitute
quarter-back who was to start to-day’s game. Clapp was a First Class
youth of about eighteen years of age, short and sturdy and a trifle too
stout for an ideal quarter. He had been a substitute for three years,
never having attained a proficiency entitling him to first place.
To-day he looked worried and nervous, and Dan wished that Payson would
change his mind and let Loring start the game.

Their route lay through a picturesque chain of little villages, the
approach to each one of them being the signal for frantic cheering from
the car. At a few minutes before two o’clock they drew up in the center
of Brewer, a manufacturing town of some fifteen thousand inhabitants,
and changed to a big coach in which they finished their journey,
arriving at the athletic field at twenty minutes after two. The game
was scheduled for three o’clock, and so there was plenty of time in
which to change their clothes in the little draughty shed that did duty
for dressing room and to limber up afterwards. When they went out on
the field at a quarter to three the small, tumble-down stand was packed
and the gridiron was surrounded two or three deep. Near the center of
the field a parcel of some thirty or forty Yardley Hall boys, who had
journeyed over by train, broke into the “long cheer.” A chorus of hoots
and jeers answered it.

There was ten minutes of practice, in the midst of which the Brewer
team trotted out and were wildly acclaimed by the spectators. They were
a heavy, husky lot of fellows, their ages ranging from seventeen to
twenty-five. Dan, who had retired to the side-line with Loring, Hill,
Gerard, Capes, Smith and Norton, saw Payson approach and shake hands
with a big, raw-boned, red-cheeked Irishman who was evidently McMannis,
the Brewer coach and trainer. Then the officials, one a Brewer man and
one from a neighboring city, walked onto the field. Mr. Austin was to
combine, by mutual consent, the duties of field judge and lineman.
A Yardley boy named Pearson held one end of the chain and a big,
stupid-looking Brewer mill-hand held the other. Colton won the toss and
selected the north goal and the kick-off fell to Brewer. At a minute or
two after three the game began.

There was a slow, steady wind blowing from the north-east and overhead
was a dull gray sky that threatened snow. The thermometer was hovering
around thirty-four and the big gray blankets in which Dan and the other
substitutes had enveloped themselves felt very grateful. Payson wore a
long frieze ulster of tobacco brown, a loose and generous garment that
made him look like a giant. Andy, in his loudly-striped trousers and
blue sweater, his legs well apart, stood guard over the water pail and
his canvas bag. There was a moment of nervous tension, while the Brewer
punter teed the ball, that even the substitutes felt. At the other
end of the field Yardley had spread out for the kick-off and Colton’s
voice came cheerily through the frosty air. Then the whistle blew and
up soared the ball. Down the field charged the Brewer men in their
red-and-white shirts and stockings. The ball settled after a high,
short flight into the arms of Hadlock and he made the best of ten yards
before he was downed.

Yardley’s line up at the beginning of the game was this: Left End,
Minturn; Left Tackle, Folwell; Left Guard, Hadlock; Center, Berwick;
Right Guard, Colton; Right Tackle, Mitchell; Right End, Dickenson;
Quarter-back, Clapp; Left Half-back, Capes; Right Half-back, Connor;
Full-back, Kapenhysen. There were four second-string men in the
line-up, although there were many who believed that Connor, who had
taken Capes’ place at left half-back, was the better man of the two and
would secure the position before the season was over. At left end there
was not much to choose between the absent Williams and the present
Minturn; neither of them was equal to Dickenson. Berwick at center was
distinctly inferior to Hill, while Clapp was not at all in the same
class with Loring.

For the first few minutes the ball changed hands constantly, Yardley
winning the advantage of territory on every exchange of punts. Brewer
was weak in this feature and Kapenhysen was quite at his best to-day.
Finally, with the ball on Brewer’s twenty-five yard line, Clapp tried
a quarter-back run and lost four yards by it, Minturn failing to block
his man.

“Why didn’t he try Dickenson’s end?” growled Loring on the side-line.
“He had all the room he wanted, the silly ass!”

Then, just when Brewer was expecting it, a forward pass was tried
and spoiled, the ball going to Brewer. Tired of being out-punted, the
red-and-white settled down to the game they knew best and plugged away
at the Yardley line for short gains. Twice they barely made first down,
and then Berwick suddenly weakened and the Brewer backs piled through
him for ten yards or more.

In the center of the field a fumble gave Yardley the ball again and
Clapp copied Brewer’s tactics. Kapenhysen made a short gain through
left tackle and Connor, on a quick plunge at center, captured first
down. Back to the thirty yard line went Yardley. Then Clapp engineered
for a position in front of goal and sent Capes around right end. But
Brewer was looking for this play, naturally enough, and Capes, fight as
hard as he might, was downed back of his line. It was third down and
Kapenhysen fell back for a try at placement. But Berwick passed high
and the ball just tipped the full-back’s fingers and went rolling off
up the field. Connor was quickly after it, but the Brewer right end got
by Minturn, shouldered Connor aside and fell on the ball with half the
field on top of him. On the side line Loring and Hill and the others
were muttering uncomplimentary things. Payson seemed quite unmoved
by the catastrophe, although for some time past he had been scowling
darkly. Brewer plunged away at the blue line again and found lots
of room between guard and guard. Colton and Hadlock played their own
positions and Berwick’s, but Brewer’s attack was savage and soon the
red-and-white was on Yardley’s twenty-five yards and directly in front
of her goal.

“I think I can see about four points coming to Brewer,” observed Smith
to Dan. But Dan shook his head.

“They won’t kick,” he said. “It isn’t their game. It’ll be a fake,
perhaps a forward pass but more likely a half-back run.”

And so it proved. Brewer formed as though for a placement kick, but the
ball slanted off to the right half-back and he went skimming around the
line. It was Minturn’s end again, and Minturn was caught napping. Five
yards, ten yards sped the runner, the field trailing after him. Then
Kapenhysen got him well over toward the side-line and it was first down
once more for Brewer with less than fifteen yards to go. Brewer tried
the center again, but this time Colton and Hadlock were desperate and
the attack was piled up for no gain. Then, on a cross-buck, Brewer’s
right-half attempted Yardley’s right end. But it was Dickenson this
time and not Minturn that he had to fool, and Dickenson refused to be
fooled. It was third down with eight yards to go.

“Well, it’s kick this time, all right,” said Smith. Payson, who had
paused nearby heard and turned his head, listening absently, his mind
on the next play.

“Bet you a nickel,” answered Dan. “They haven’t got a fellow who can
make a drop or kick from placement, or they’d have tried it before
when they were right in front. Now they’ve got a nasty angle and I bet
they’ll try a trick.”

Payson looked around at Dan.

“That’s right, Vinton,” he said. “But what kind of a trick, eh?”

Dan hesitated a moment, studying the situation. Then, “Fake kick
through center, sir,” answered Dan confidently. “That’s their sort
of game, sir. They know Berwick’s easy and they’ll slash a half-back
through there with the others behind him.”

Payson considered. On the field Brewer had drawn aside for a
consultation, one of her men having called for time.

“They need eight yards for a first,” muttered Payson, “and about
thirteen for a touchdown. Loring!”

Loring pushed forward and there was a brief exchange of words, ending
with Loring’s “Let me go in, sir!” which Dan overheard. But Payson
shook his head.

“Not yet,” he answered. “Vinton!”

“Yes, sir!”

“Go in for Minturn. Look sharp now! And if you have any suggestions--”
He pulled himself up. “Use your brains,” he added.

[Illustration: “‘Go in for Minturn.... Use your brains,’ he added.”]

Smith was already pulling Dan’s sweater over his head, and Dan’s heart
was thumping wildly. Then, with Loring’s pat on the shoulder speeding
him forward, he sped out onto the field. Already the teams were lining
up.

“All right, Brewer?” asked the referee.

“All right,” was the answer.

“All right, Yardley?”

“Wait!” cried Dan.

“Go ahead and play ball!” objected the Brewer captain.

“Substitute for left-end, sir,” panted Dan to the referee.

“Yes, with instructions,” jeered a Brewer lineman. “Send him off, Mr.
Referee; there’s nothing the matter with the left-end they’ve got in
now!”

“All right,” said the referee and Dan stepped over to Colton.

“Look out for a fake kick with a plunge at center, Colton,” he
whispered. “That’s what they’re up to.”

“I don’t think so,” Colton answered doubtfully.

“That’s their game, though,” answered Dan. “Payson sent me in and--”

“All right. Yes, you’re off, Minturn. No, no, run along like a good
chap.”

Minturn, scowling and resentful, took his departure.

“All ready now, Yardley?” asked the referee.

“All ready,” answered Colton. He gave a meaning glance at Hadlock. The
whistle blew. Dan passed the word to Capes as he went to his place at
left-end. There was a moment of indecision on the part of the Brewer
quarter. Then came the signals. Brewer was formed as for a drop-kick
at goal, the left-half standing back with outstretched hands and the
other backs ranged on either side as though to guard him. Back flew
the ball from center but it went on a side pass to right-half. Full
plunged forward and right half thrust the ball into his arms as he went
by and shot into the center of Yardley’s line. But Yardley had closed
up even as the ball was put in play, and instead of the open formation
usually found opposing a try at goal, with the forwards standing up
ready to break through and block, the Brewer full-back smashed into a
stone-wall, Berwick, Colton and Hadlock playing low and shutting the
line tight at the center. Although Brewer’s backs and tackles hurled
themselves behind their full-back and although presently the Yardley
line wavered under the attack and gave ground, two yards was the extent
of Brewer’s gain and the ball went to the Blue.

Kapenhysen fell back under his goal-posts and punted to the forty
yard-line. Once more Brewer started her march down the field, but this
time the advance was notably slower and more uncertain. Her players
were beginning to feel the pace and were longing for the sound of
the whistle. Two tries at the left of the opponents’ line netted her
six yards. Then a quarter-back kick was tried and Dan spoiled it by
piling the opposing end onto the turf. Connor captured the ball. Clapp
sent Capes around his own end for two yards, around the other end for
six and hurled Kapenhysen into the line for three more. Brewer was
weakening and her line gave time and again for short gains. Yardley
began a triumphal march up the field, tearing off five and once fifteen
yards around the ends and getting gains of two and three yards through
the left side of the red-and-white line. But there was a long way to
go and while the ball was still thirty yards from the goal line the
whistle blew and the half was over.



CHAPTER XX

MR. AUSTIN LOSES HIS TEMPER


Payson’s last words as the fellows trotted out onto the field for the
last half were: “Look out for slugging; don’t give them a chance to get
at you; and whatever happens don’t slug back.”

Then the whistle sounded again.

There had been another change in Yardley’s team. Berwick was out and
Hill was back in his place. Berwick had experienced a lot of rough
handling and looked limp and weary. Clapp was still running the team.

Yardley got the ball on a fumble a few minutes after the half opened
and, according to the campaign mapped out in the dressing room, began
a kicking game. Kapenhysen was easily ten yards better than Brewer’s
punter and Brewer, after two returns of the pigskin, realized the fact
and went at the Yardley line again. But the center was no longer a
vulnerable spot; Hill crumpled up every play directed against him; and
Brewer sought elsewhere for her openings. Finally some success rewarded
her, Folwell, at left tackle, weakening enough to let several plays
go through him. Dan came to his rescue, but was too light to stop the
heavy Brewer backs. It was evident before the half was five minutes
old that Brewer meant to win by fair means or foul. Time and again the
umpire’s attention was called to Brewer’s violations of the rules, but
always he contented himself with cautioning them. Mr. Austin, in his
capacity as field judge, ventured on several occasions to remonstrate.
The umpire was suave and polite, but was unable to see any of the
transgressions.

For ten minutes the ball went back and forth between Brewer’s thirty
yards and Yardley’s forty. Then one of Kapenhysen’s punts went over
the heads of the red-and-white backs and by the time it was recovered
it was down on Brewer’s twelve yards. Brewer kicked on first down, but
the attempt was a miserable failure, the ball going out of bounds at
her thirty yards. It was brought in and Capes reeled off five yards
by running half across the field. A mass attack at center failed of
any gain and Kapenhysen fell back for a placement kick. Clapp kneeled
on the forty yard line and Hill passed straight and true. The Yardley
forwards held strongly and the ball sailed away over the struggling
lines. But the direction wasn’t good and the pigskin passed to the left
of the goal by several yards.

Brewer kicked off from her twenty-five yards, and Folwell, catching the
punt, ran it back behind good interference for twenty yards and it was
Yardley’s first down again near Brewer’s thirty-five. Clapp essayed
a quarter-back kick, but unfortunately it was blocked by the Brewer
right-end who followed it up, recovered it on the run and set off
towards Yardley’s goal. He was a fairly speedy runner, a long-legged,
rangy youth, and before the pursuit was set in motion he had gained a
good start. But it was a long distance to that last white line and long
before he reached it, Dan, who was in the van of the pursuers, brought
him down from behind. After that he managed to squirm another five
or six yards, dragging Dan along with him. That brought the ball to
Yardley’s twenty-two yards and, amidst the wild, encouraging cheers of
their supporters, clustering about the corner of the field and back of
the goal, the Brewer players made ready for a desperate effort.

“Now hold them, fellows!” entreated Colton. “Hold them! Don’t give them
an inch!”

But Brewer, for the first time during the period, had the Blue’s
goal-line within striking distance and hurled themselves frantically
upon the defenders. Folwell was thrust aside and the big backs went
tearing through for four yards. The shouting audience overflowed onto
the field and had to be driven back before play could be resumed. Then
a tandem attack on the other side of the line netted three yards more.

“Hold them!” cried Colton. “Play lower, Folwell! Come in here, Connor!
Don’t give them an inch, I tell you!”

Again Brewer hurled her tandem of backs at the blue line and again the
line wavered and was forced back.

“First down!” cried the referee, and waved the linesmen on.

There was twelve yards to go for a score. A fake plunge at the right
of the line and a quick start by left half with the ball tucked into
his arm fooled the defenders and before the runner was thrown to the
ground he had stolen six of those precious twelve yards! Dan, who had
been tossed aside like a chip, picked himself up, self-condemning and
angry. The gain had been around his end. For once he had lost sight of
the ball and this was the result!

“Second down, four to go,” said the referee.

A plunge at Folwell netted two yards and brought the ball within ten
feet of the side-line. This was an advantage to the defenders, for
there was no fear of Brewer trying their left-end again, since the
runner would be forced over the line, and left-end and tackle could
be used to reinforce the center while the backs clustered behind the
right side of the line. Time had been called and Andy Ryan was working
over Folwell. There were other injuries apparent, too. Colton had a
scalp wound that was bleeding freely and Hadlock was nursing a wrenched
ankle. Smith came trotting out to take Folwell’s place, and the latter,
half supported by the trainer, was led off the field to the cheers of
the little bunch of Yardley supporters and the gibes of the opponents.

Brewer got together, and, with heads in a circle, listened to
instructions which, without a doubt had been brought onto the field by
her water-carrier. Then the whistle blew again. Hadlock jumped up and
limped to his place. Colton brushed the blood away from his eyes.

“Here’s where we get the ball!” he cried hoarsely. “Take it away from
them, fellows! We can do it! Hold them now! Steady, everybody!”

The ball was passed back and the lines heaved together. The Brewer
right half and full-back darted toward the left side of their line.

“Fake!” cried Dan. “Over here, fellows!”

The Brewer left half, who had been crouching to keep from sight, leaped
forward, took the ball from quarter who had been hiding it and smashed
against the Yardley left guard. The play was a delayed cross-buck.
Dan’s warning had, however, helped to spoil it, for Yardley’s left side
turned back and stiffened in time. A yard, perhaps two, and the advance
stopped, the runner wavered and was thrust back.

[Illustration: DELAYED CROSS-BUCK]

“Down!” he groaned. “Down!”

The whistle shrilled and slowly the mass of swaying players was
disentangled. As the ball came into sight shouts arose from both sides.
The referee looked a moment and then, leaving the umpire to guard the
ball, he trotted over to the side-line and trotted back again with the
linesmen and the chain.

“First down!” shouted the spectators. “Don’t let him do you, Mulligan!”
“Sure, it’s first down!” “Aw, we got it easy!” “Come back with that
dog chain, youse!” “First down! First down!” “Put it over now, boys!”

But it wasn’t first down, not by half a foot. Brewer protested and
argued and threatened to leave the field, grumbled, swore not a little
and acted as ugly as they dared. But for once the referee was firm and
even stern.

“All right, Brewer?” he asked after several minutes.

“No, we’re not ready yet,” was the angry reply.

“Time’s up,” was the answer. The whistle blew.

“Hey, I told you we wasn’t ready!” protested the Brewer captain. The
referee blew his whistle again, took up the ball and stepped off five
yards.

“Yardley’s ball, first down,” he announced. A renewed howl arose from
Brewer and they demanded to know the why and the wherefor and to have
the rule pointed out to them. Their coach came running out onto the
field, sputtering and waving his hands.

“Off the field, please!” said the referee. “Off the field! You can’t
come on here, and you know it!”

“You’re a robber!” shouted McMannis. “Why don’t you give them the game
and have done with it?” But he stopped and returned to the side-line,
muttering, and for the next minute or two was seen wrathfully fumbling
the leaves of the rules book.

“Will you play or not?” asked the referee. He, too, was getting rather
angry and his eyes were snapping. The Brewer captain growled something
unintelligibly. “If you don’t play I’ll forfeit the game to Yardley,”
declared the referee.

“Aw, what’s the matter with you?” said the Brewer captain. “I said we’d
play. Blow your old whistle!”

So the whistle blew and Kapenhysen fell back some ten yards behind the
goal-line to punt. Brewer was mad clean through, mad and ugly. And
she didn’t quite wait for the ball to be passed before she charged.
By the time Kapenhysen had the ball in his hands the Brewer forwards
were sweeping down upon him. He made a heroic effort to get the ball
off and succeeded, but the kick was high and short, coming to earth on
Yardley’s twenty-yard-line. It bounded up erratically and there was
a wild scramble for it. A Brewer man got it only to have it fly out
of his arms again and bound toward the goal-line. There was a second
confused scramble and then Hill secured it, and, before he could call
“Down,” was forced back over the line for a safety.

Colton appealed to the umpire, declaring that Brewer had started before
the ball was in play, but the umpire refused to allow the protest. The
score was two points to nothing in Brewer’s favor and there remained
seven minutes of playing time. Yardley looked somewhat disconsolate as
it lined up for the kick-off, all save Colton. He was as cheerful as
ever, or seemed to be. Over on the side-lines the triumphant shouts of
the Brewer adherents rang lustily, drowning completely the pathetic
attempts of Yardley’s followers.

Kapenhysen booted the leather and the teams raced back up the field. It
was a splendid kick and covered all of fifty yards, but it was a little
too low and Brewer came charging back with the ball and had regained
fifteen yards before Connor nailed the runner. Brewer now was playing
for time. The ball was near her fifty-yard-line and she began a series
of slow plunges at the line, using up all the time she could. For
nearly twenty yards she made progress, hitting one side of the Blue’s
line after the other. Then came a run around Yardley’s right end that
netted a good ten yards. Mr. Austin walked out and announced that five
minutes remained.

“We’ve got to get the ball, fellows,” cried Colton imploringly as he
limped along the line and clapped the players on the back. “Now hold
them right here!”

The ball was back on Yardley’s thirty-five-yard-line and the watchers
looked for another score. But Yardley braced and after two downs had
gained her but four yards Brewer punted. Clapp caught the ball and
started back through a broken field. For a moment it seemed that he
might get away, but after he had cut off some twenty yards he was
thrown near the middle of the gridiron. The tackle was such a fierce
one that the ball bounded from his arms and went rolling on as though
determined to reach the Brewer goal-line unaided. There was a rush for
it, and Dickenson fell on it, found his feet again and set off. Twice
he was tackled but each time he managed to squirm loose. Ten yards,
fifteen yards, twenty! Then a big Brewer half-back caught up with him
and brought him down. The whistle blew.

Back near the center of the field Clapp was rolling and kicking. Andy
Ryan was beside him in a moment, sponge in hand, and presently he was
led off the field, weak and limp, protesting feebly. The little band of
Yardley supporters cheered him gloriously, and then, the next instant,
were cheering again, this time for Loring, who, fitting his head-guard
in place, was running toward his team. What a reception he got from
them! Colton hugged him and Hadlock beat him weakly on the shoulders.
The others grinned wearily at him and straightened their aching backs
again. Loring and Folsom whispered together. Then the team was drawn
back and, amidst the hoots of the enemy, stood for a minute closely
clustered and listened to Loring’s words. Finally,

“All right now, fellows!” called Loring cheerfully, clapping his hands.
“Let’s have a touchdown out of this. They’re half dead already! Look at
’em! Come on now and get busy!”

The ball was near Brewer’s thirty yards. A plunge through tackle made
it twenty-eight. Then Connor was sent outside of right tackle with
the whole field of backs behind him and shoved and fought his way
through for six yards more. Third down and two to go. Full-back and the
two halves lined up as though for a tandem on right guard, the ball
was passed, the backs plunged forward and Loring set off around the
opponent’s left end with the ball tucked under his arm. Dickenson put
the opposing end out of business and then sped after Loring. The run
was short but it netted seven yards, and when the Brewer left half had
been pulled off of him Loring jumped up with a shake of his head and
piped the next signal.

“First down,” said the referee.

Only fifteen yards between them and a score! And only two minutes to
play!

Kapenhysen was sent hurtling against the left of the Brewer line, but
Brewer was desperate now and a scant yard was the best he could do.
Again the signals and again the backs took their places. But this
time the ball went past Loring and into the hands of Capes. Loring,
Kapenhysen and Connor set off around their own right end. The Brewer
backs started to intercept them. And so no one paid much attention to a
slim blue figure that slipped between the Brewer right end and tackle
and was now trotting with upraised hand five yards back of their line.

Then, “_Forward pass!_” shouted the Brewer quarter frantically. But
already the ball was in flight, for Capes, after feinting to the
right, had turned and run to the left until behind his tackle and from
there had made a low throw across the line to where Dan awaited.

[Illustration: “ONE MAN” FORWARD PASS]

The Brewer right half saw his error and turned back, but he was too
late. The ball fell, lazily revolving, into Dan’s arms, and, tucking it
away, Dan sprang toward the goal-line, but a few short strides away. A
despairing effort by the Brewer quarter sent Dan staggering aside, but
the next moment he was over the line, over it and still circling toward
the goal-posts. He never quite centered the ball, for three Brewer
players tackled him together and brought him heavily to earth. But,
although his head was filled for an instant with a multitude of stars,
he held the ball and cried “Down” as loudly as he could with several
hundred pounds of dead weight on top of him and someone’s elbow boring
itself viciously into his face.

He heard Loring crying: “Get off of him, you brutes! Get off, get off!”
and then there was daylight once more and he rolled over on his back
and fought for breath. Loring stooped over him and pumped his arms and
Dan smiled as cheerfully as he might and finally managed to assure the
quarter that he was “all right, thanks.”

What if Kapenhysen did miss as easy a goal as one could wish? The
game was won! Five to two was as much a victory as heart could desire
that day! There was an exchange of punts, a scramble down the field by
Connor that put thirty-five yards behind him, and then the whistle!

“Let’s get out of here as quick as we can,” panted Colton. There was a
cheer for Brewer and then they raced for the dressing room. And glad
they were to reach it, for the Brewerites were disappointed and angry
and quite ready for mischief. By the time they were dressed, the field
was well-nigh empty and only around the gates were any hostilities
hinted at. A crowd of loiterers jeered them as they climbed into the
coach and, just as they moved away, a piece of wood was thrown. It
wasn’t very large but it happened to hit Mr. Austin on the side of the
head. Stevie forgot his decorum on the instant, forgot that he was a
“chaperone,” forgot that he was there to maintain order. Before Mr.
Payson could interfere Stevie was out of the coach and striding back
toward the group at the gate.

“Fool!” muttered Payson as he leaped out after him.

The players yelled to the driver to stop and one after another they
tumbled out and ran back. But, strange to say, the group at the gate
was no longer there. It had dissolved as though by magic. Here and
there were to be seen figures ambling disinterestedly away, but at the
gate was only Stevie, looking disappointedly about him, and Payson,
trying to drag him back.

“He was a red-faced fellow in a green sweater!” the instructor was
declaring when Dan reached the scene. “I saw him and if I could get my
hands on him--”

“Well, he’s gone,” laughed Payson. “Come on or we’ll miss the train.”

The instructor turned and saw the boys around him. He colored, smiled
uncertainly and walked back to the waiting coach. When he had taken his
place again and they were once more jouncing along toward the station,
he said:

“That was a very foolish thing to do, fellows. I--I feel like
apologizing to you. I hope you’ll forget it.”

“Yes, sir, we will,” replied Colton gravely.



CHAPTER XXI

MR. PENNIMORE CONSENTS


    “There was only two or three minutes left and we knew if we
    missed a score that time Brewer would kick and we wouldn’t be
    able to get back again. So Alf Loring--he’s the fellow I wrote
    about last week, and he’s quarter-back on the First--called
    for a ‘one man’ forward pass and gave me the chance. It worked
    beautifully and Capes made a dandy throw over the line and
    right into my arms. I had only about ten yards to go and so
    that was easy enough. But the fellows think I won the game for
    them and are awfully tickled about it. Of course it wasn’t any
    more me than it was Capes and Loring and the other fellows who
    made it possible for me to get the ball and make the touchdown,
    but it’s nice having the fellows like you, even if you don’t
    deserve it.

    “It was a hard old game and a lot of us got bunged up, but
    not badly, except the fellow who played quarter for us most
    of the game. His name is Clapp. He got tackled hard by a big
    Brewer player and had to go off. But nobody thought much about
    it until we got home and the doctor looked him over. Now they
    say he’s got a fracture or a displacement or something of some
    little bone in his spine and he’s out of the game for the rest
    of the season and will have to be put in splints or a plaster
    cast or whatever it is they do to you. That leaves us in a
    bad way, for if anything should happen to Loring we’d be in a
    pickle. Payson is going to take King, the Second Team quarter,
    on to the First as substitute, but King has never played much
    and hasn’t had experience like Loring and Clapp. That leaves us
    without a good quarter to run the Second, and I guess we’ll be
    pretty easy the rest of the season.

    “I got out of the Brewer game with only a bunged-up eye. It’s
    pretty sore but it doesn’t amount to anything. A Brewer chap
    gouged me with his elbow, I think. If you read this part to
    mother tell her that the Brewer game is the _only rough one we
    have_ and that even if I should get into the Broadwood game,
    which isn’t likely, _I won’t get hurt_.

    “I’m having a dandy time now. The fellows are awfully nice and
    I like the place first-rate. Tubby Jones and I are getting on
    real well together. He isn’t so bad when you understand him.
    His friends are worse than he is. There’s a fellow named Hiltz
    who is a great chum of Tubby’s and I can’t stand him at all. He
    comes from New York City and to hear him talk you’d think there
    wasn’t another city in the country.

    “I’m going to the Pennimore’s for luncheon again to-day. They
    are awfully nice folks and Mr. Pennimore treats me just as
    if I was one of the family. It’s been very jolly having them
    to visit. Tell Mae that the dog is all right. He didn’t get
    burned at all. He’s a fine old fellow and he and I are great
    friends. I think he likes me almost as well as he does Gerald.
    I’m getting on pretty well with my studies, although I’m rather
    busy nowadays with football. After the Broadwood game I’ll have
    more time. I’m not shirking anything, though; they won’t let
    you do that here. Wednesday I’m going to the Cambridge Society
    with Alf Loring. He’s going to introduce me to the fellows.
    He says the best fellows in school belong to Cambridge. Now I
    must stop and get ready for Sound View. Give lots of love to
    mother and Mae. I’m getting sort of shy of cash, so when you
    write you had better let me have a small advance on my December
    allowance. With much love,                          DAN.

    “P. S. It snowed here last night, not much but enough to cover
    the ground. Now it is warm and sunny again and the snow is
    almost gone. They say it gets very cold here in February.”

Dan had been excused from church attendance on account of the injury
sustained in yesterday’s game. It was only a black eye--although Loring
declared that it was green and purple and red instead of black--but
there was a bandage around it and Dan didn’t consider himself
presentable enough for church. So he had put in the time writing to
his father. As he had the room to himself and a vast quiet reigned
over the dormitory he had been able to scrawl off twelve pages without
difficulty. But the only portion of the letter of interest to us was
that quoted. After he had finished his exciting post-script he sealed
and addressed the letter and got ready for his visit to Sound View.

He dropped the letter into the box in front of Oxford and then went
swinging down the hill, across the bridge and into the woods. Gerald
and he had contrived a short cut by loosening two of the palings in the
fence back of the stables. It was a tight squeeze, but you could make
it all right if you didn’t care much what happened to your buttons. Mr.
Pennimore and Gerald had not yet returned from church, said the butler
when Dan reached the house, but would be back in a few moments. So
Dan found a warm, sunny corner of the terrace and perched himself on
the balustrade and swung his feet and whistled until the car came into
sight down the avenue.

“That’s one thing that’s the matter with Gerald,” said Dan to himself
with a disapproving shake of his head. “He rides around too blamed much
in that automobile. He’d be a lot better if he did more walking.” Then
he jumped down and went to meet his hosts at the steps.

“Dan, Dan, what do you think?” cried Gerald as he leaped out of the
car. Dan shook his head smilingly as he gave his hand to Mr. Pennimore.

“I’m going to Yardley! Father’s consented! And I’m going right away!”

“Well, not exactly,” corrected his father pleasantly.

“After Christmas, Dan! Isn’t that bully?”

“Fine!” answered Dan bewilderedly. He looked at Mr. Pennimore for
corroboration. That gentleman nodded his head.

“Yes,” he said as he climbed the terrace steps, “I thought I might as
well give in now as later. You are a determined antagonist, Dan, and a
graceful surrender is better than a humiliating defeat.”

“You couldn’t find a tutor!” crowed Gerald.

“Well, that’s true, too,” laughed his father. “Perhaps that’s the
principal reason, Dan. That and the fact that I shall be abroad for two
months in the latter part of the winter. If I take Gerald with me he
will miss a good deal of schooling, and if I leave him at home in New
York I’ll be worried about him all the time I’m away. It’s pretty bad
being a hen with one chicken, Dan. So I concluded that I’d let Gerald
go to Yardley when the new term begins. If it’s possible I want you and
he to get a room together, or a couple of rooms, whatever’s best. I’ll
go up and have a talk with Doctor Hewitt in the morning.”

“And we’re going to stay on here over Christmas, until school begins,”
cried Gerald. “Isn’t that great?”

“I’m awfully glad,” said Dan sincerely. “You won’t have to bother about
Gerald if you leave him at Yardley, sir. I’ll look after him as much as
I can, and I’ll get him into our Society and introduce him to the best
fellows.”

“Thanks, Dan, that’s what I want you to do,” said Mr. Pennimore. “Keep
an eye on him and--well, I don’t want you to fight his battles for him,
Dan, but maybe you can keep him out of some mischief.”

“Anyhow,” laughed Dan, “our buildings are all made of stone or brick
and don’t burn easily!”

During luncheon Gerald refused to allow the conversation to roam
for a single instant from the great topic and it was discussed and
rediscussed from soup to finger bowls. Afterwards there was a lazy hour
in the library during which Mr. Pennimore nodded over his book and
Gerald exhibited his stamp collection. Then the touring car rolled up
to the door and there followed a glorious trip that took them for miles
and miles along the edge of the Sound in the genial afternoon sunlight
and brought them home again as the twilight fell.

After supper that Sunday evening Alf Loring came up to Dan’s room for a
visit. Tubby and Jake Hiltz were present when he arrived and Tubby at
once began to be unpleasant.

“I didn’t suppose you were speaking to common folks now, Loring,” said
Tubby with a grin. “I’m real flattered.”

“What’s flattered you?” asked Loring cheerfully.

“Why, you speaking to me,” answered Tubby. “You’re the whole thing on
the team now, aren’t you?”

Loring frowned but kept his temper.

“Pretty much, thank you, Tubby,” he said. “I believe there are several
other fellows on it, but I never pay any attention to them; except
Vinton here. Vinton’s our forward pass expert and something of a hero
just at present. I have to be condescending to him.”

“I thought so,” sneered Tubby. Hiltz grinned maliciously.

Dan took the conversation in hand and he and Loring talked football
for awhile, the others listening and finding nothing to say. But Tubby
wasn’t one to remain long in silence when he could think of anything
unpleasant. And presently,

“Say, Loring, I suppose you’ll be captain next year, won’t you?”

Loring flushed and bit his lip.

“Shut up, Tubby!” said Dan angrily. “Don’t be an ass!”

“Me? Oh, I beg pardon, I’m sure,” said Tubby with simulated concern.
“Loring seemed to be making a hard try for it, and I thought--”

Loring jumped up, reached across the desk and slapped Tubby’s face. It
wasn’t exactly a love-pat, nor did it sound like one. In striving to
get out of reach Tubby went over backward in his chair and lay, feet in
the air, a much surprised, very angry and exceedingly eloquent youth.
But Loring put a stop to his remarks.

[Illustration: “Tubby went over backward in his chair.”]

“You’re a beastly little cad, Tubby,” flared Loring, “and for two cents
I’d drop you out of the window. If you say anything like that to me
again I’ll lick you till you can’t stand on your fat feet!”

He went to the door, turned and smiled deprecatingly at Dan.

“Good-night,” he said. “I’ll see you to-morrow. Sorry you’re hitched to
such a silly ass. Come and see me.” He nodded to Hiltz and went out.

Tubby’s subsequent remarks weren’t fit for publication until Dan put an
end to them.

“You deserved all you got, Tubby,” he said disgustedly. “If you can’t
behave decently to my friends when they visit me you had better find
another room.”

“Your friend!” jeered Tubby. “A fine friend he is! You wait until after
the big game, Dan; he won’t recognize you then when he meets you!
Besides, this is more my room than it is yours. If you don’t like my
company you can get out yourself!”

“Well, I’m thinking of it seriously, Tubby,” answered Dan quietly.
Tubby stared with open mouth, started to say something, thought better
of it and turned to Jake Hiltz.

“You’re a nice chum, you are!” he sputtered. “Why didn’t you smash him?”

“Why didn’t you?” asked Hiltz with wounded dignity.

“Because I couldn’t get up, that’s why! But I’ll get him yet! You wait
and see! No fellow can hit me and not get what’s coming to him! You
wait and see what happens to Mr. Bully Loring! You--”

“Oh, cut it out, Tubby,” said Dan wearily. “You know you wouldn’t dare
make a face at him!”

“Wouldn’t I? You’ll see what I dare! Come on, Jake, and let’s get out
of here. Vinton wants to write an apology to Loring for my impoliteness
in not getting up and letting him kick me!”

They went out, Tubby banging the door behind him. Dan sighed, and then,
recalling the picture presented by Tubby with his feet in the air,
laughed.

It is well to laugh while one may.



CHAPTER XXII

NORDHAM SPRINGS SOME SURPRISES


The next afternoon when Dan reported for practice he found that a few
moments of passing and a half-hour of signal work was all that was
required. Saturday’s contest had been a hard one and there were lots of
lame muscles and stiff joints among the fellows who had participated.
Even on Tuesday the practice was still short and there was no line-up.
On Wednesday occurred the first scrimmage and then several surprises
were sprung. Dan was at left end, Hill was back at center, Little was
tried in Folwell’s place at tackle, King, of the Second Team, was
at quarter and Gerard was at full. Gerard was a second-string man
and his presence in the line-up merely signified that Kapenhysen was
still feeling the results of the Brewer game. Dan didn’t dare believe
that his elevation to the First Team was anything more than temporary
pending Williams’ recovery. He played the best game he knew, however,
in the hope of “making good,” and in spite of King’s mistakes, for the
Second Team quarter was oppressed by the unexpected honor of being made
varsity substitute, managed to play a brilliant game. But on the whole
things went badly. In spite of the easy work of the last two days many
of the fellows played a lifeless game that wrought Payson to heights of
disgust. His comments were more caustic than usual and the tempers of
his charges shorter, and the result was that when practice was over the
entente cordiale between coach and players was somewhat strained. Andy
Ryan, quick to note discord, hovered around like an anxious, clucking
mother-hen. At supper appetites were erratic and dispositions more so.
Plainly a slump was threatening, a slump the more dangerous for being
so long delayed. With only two days of practice before the Nordham
game the outlook didn’t please Payson at all. He had planned to rest
the fellows the first part of the week and to drive them hard Thursday
and Friday. Andy had agreed with him. But now it seemed that they had
made a mistake; to have worked the team on Tuesday and Wednesday and
given them light practice Thursday and Friday would have been more
advisable. Payson had three new plays to teach and he had been counting
on to-morrow and the next day; now he seriously doubted if it would be
wise to attempt it. He and Andy got together in his room that evening
and faced the problem.

“There’s no use in forcing them, sir,” declared the trainer. “It’s a
critical time and we’ve got to humor ’em along the rest of the week. If
we don’t they’ll go up in the air like a lot of crazy balloons, sir.
Colton’s all on edge, and there’s others no better off. Take my advice,
sir, and humor ’em.”

“That’s all well enough,” grumbled Payson, “but there’s a lot of work
to do, Andy. You know that as well as I do. The team’s a week behind
this year, for some reason. You can’t do anything the last week but
polish up. And there are new plays to learn, man!”

“Give ’em a blackboard talk, sir, to-morrow instead of a scrimmage.
Maybe they could walk through the plays afterwards in the gym.”

“Yes, they might do that. And how about Friday?”

“We’ll wait and see, sir. But we’ll have to lay Colton and Hadlock off
for a couple of days, I’m thinking.”

“How about Loring?”

“Uneasy, but all he needs is work. He’s the sort that can’t stand in
the stable, sir, without getting the fidgets.”

“And Kapenhysen?”

“Fit, sir.”

“And Williams?” Andy shook his head.

“He won’t be round by Saturday unless for a few minutes of the game. In
fact, I wouldn’t advise you to put much faith in him for the rest of
the season. He’s mighty uncertain, sir.”

“Well, there’s Vinton. Vinton is doing good work. If he can keep it up
we won’t miss Williams, I guess. You think, though, that Williams is
the only one we’ll have to keep out on Saturday?”

“As it looks now, sir.”

“I’ve been thinking I’d start the game with the second string of backs,
Andy; Stevens at left half, Dyer at right and Gerard at full.”

“Yes, sir, but King won’t do at quarter, I’m thinking.”

“No, no, Loring will have to play the game through if he can.”

“He can do it, barring injury, sir.”

“It’s too bad about Clapp. This is his last year, too, poor chap. How’s
he getting on?”

“First rate, sir. He’ll be able to see the Broadwood game, likely.”

“That’s good. Well, I guess I’ll take your advice, Andy, and cut out
the scrimmage to-morrow. I wish we might have a spell of good cold
weather.”

“We need it, sir; this sort of thing takes the life out of ’em. It’s a
touch of frost they need. They ain’t eating right. If they don’t pick
up by Friday, sir, I’d say give ’em a signal drill and hand ’em over to
me for a walk.”

“All right, Andy, you know your end of it better than I do. But
remember that I ought to have three days of hard work yet and give them
to me as soon as you can.”

Instead of improving, the weather got worse. Thursday and Friday were
soft, muggy, cloudy days without a bit of life in the air. The only
consolation Payson could find was in reflecting that the conditions
were just as unfavorable for Broadwood as they were for Yardley.
Thursday there was the blackboard talk in the trophy room and the first
trials of the new plays on the gymnasium floor. Friday signal practice
was held out of doors, there was a little punting and catching for the
backs and then Andy took them off for a five-mile walk along the shore.
At supper that night the trainer thought he could detect an improvement
in the spirits of his men. Appetites were better and the talk was more
sprightly than it had been since the Brewer game.

Saturday dawned bright and warm, but there was a light breeze off the
water that promised to freshen as the day advanced. The Nordham game
was set for three o’clock. After luncheon Gerald showed up and he and
Dan spent a half-hour together before the latter went over to the
gymnasium to dress. Gerald was an enthusiastic Yardley Hall boy now;
one would have thought that he was already enrolled.

“You’re coming home to dinner with me, Dan,” he said as they parted at
the gymnasium. But Dan shook his head.

“There’s a meeting of what Payson calls the Advisory Committee this
evening,” he said. “Can’t I come to-morrow night instead?”

“Yes, but I wish you’d come to-night. Anyhow, I’ll wait for you here
after the game. Good-bye.”

Nordham, like Yardley, had gone through the season thus far without
a defeat and the game had awakened a good deal of interest in the
neighborhood. So by three o’clock Yardley Field was filled with the
largest audience of the Fall. Nordham, who had journeyed down from
Western Massachusetts, had played Broadwood the day before, and, using
her substitutes whenever possible, had managed to escape with the
score 12 to 9 against her. Yardley expected a hard game, but not such
a difficult one as that with Brewer. Nordham had only won twice during
the last six years, and then by small scores; usually Yardley managed
to win decisively. But to-day Payson was in doubt, for there was no
denying that his team was backward. The line-up when the game began was
as follows: Vinton, left end; Little, left tackle; Hadlock, left guard;
Hill, center; Colton, right guard; Mitchell, right tackle; Dickenson,
right end; Loring, quarter-back; Stevens, left half; Dyer, right half;
Gerard, full-back.

Nordham Academy’s team was, theoretically at least, an ideal one.
From tackle to tackle her men were both heavy and fast; her ends
were rangy, hard-running and fleet of foot; her quarter, a veteran
of three seasons, was one of the best on the school gridirons, a
plucky, determined player and a good general; her backs were fairly
light, fast and “tricky.” She had been drilled in new football until,
to-day, she was far in advance of her opponent in that line. Having
won the toss she placed herself with the breeze, which since morning
had strengthened a good deal, at her back. Kapenhysen kicked to her
ten yard-line and Dickenson nailed the runner for a scant gain. Then
Nordham sprang the first of many bewildering surprises.

Leaving her center absolutely alone in the middle of the field, the
rest of her line-men spread out until the ends were close to the
side-lines and an average distance of four yards separated them.
The Nordham quarter went back ten yards and a little to the right
of center and the two half-backs stood ahead and at either side as
though a kick was to be made and they were to protect the kicker. The
full-back was a little in advance of the quarter and ten yards or so to
the right.

It was open formation with a vengeance, and Yardley was at a loss
how to meet it. No one had ever seen such a play and for a moment
consternation reigned in the ranks of the Blue. Finally, deciding that
a punt was coming, Yardley spread out in a half-hearted way, Dickenson
following his opposing end and Dan starting to do the same until the
position of the full-back struck him as peculiar. By that time Nordham
was giving her signals. Dan abandoned his end and took up a position in
front of the Nordham full-back.

The ball flew back to quarter at an angle, the Yardley forwards ran
through the open line and the Nordham full-back sprang straight ahead.
Dan saw him coming and tried to upset him, but the Nordham chap was too
much for him and the next moment the ball was arching across the line
into his arms on the prettiest of forward passes. Had Yardley met the
formation by either keeping her line closed or by opening it up wide it
is probable that the Nordham full-back would have got away for a good
gain. But as it was he was nabbed before he had made three strides with
the ball in his arm. But Nordham had gained ten yards and Yardley was
still bewildered.

After that, as though to lull suspicion, Nordham settled down to plays
on tackle and wide runs at the ends. There she made a mistake, for had
she attempted another trick at that time--and she still had plenty up
her sleeve--she might have made a good gain, for Yardley was for the
moment quite demoralized. Payson, for one, drew a deep breath of relief
when he saw the enemy return to ordinary formations.

For awhile Nordham stuck to plain football without frills, making gains
now and then through the left of the line from guard to end and now
and then getting a back away around one corner or the other. It is
only fair to say that Dan’s corner was less easy than Dickenson’s, for
the latter was plainly off his game and allowed himself to be put out
of the way frequently. But the gains were all short, and on Yardley’s
twenty-eight yards the ball was lost on downs. Kapenhysen kicked and
the struggle began all over again. Nordham now began a series of shifts
which worked well until Yardley, who had been coached to meet them but
lacked experience, solved them.

There were fumbles on both sides and the ball hovered for some time
around the center of the field. Finally Nordham worked a quarter-back
kick and recovered the ball on the Blue’s twenty yards and the game
took a new turn. Yardley was on defense almost under her goal-posts.
A forward pass netted Nordham six yards, a penalty set her back five,
several tries through the line left her little better off and finally
she tried a drop-kick for goal that only missed by the narrowest of
margins. On the stands the Yardley supporters breathed with relief and
their cheers took on a more hopeful tone. Later, Yardley reached her
opponent’s ten yards only to be held for downs. The half ended with
the ball in midfield, with no score and with the honors belonging to
Nordham.

In the second half Payson put in his first string of backs. It was
Nordham’s kick-off. Yardley had the wind in her favor now and instead
of running the ball back from the ten-yard-line, Loring passed it to
Kapenhysen who punted. The ruse worked well, for Nordham’s backs were
well up toward the center of the field and had to turn and run back to
get the ball. By the time they had reached it Yardley’s ends were down
on them and there was no advance. Again came the wide-open formation.
It had been talked over in the gymnasium during intermission and
Yardley had been instructed how to meet it. Her ends strung away after
the opposing ends, but the rest of her forwards and two backs lined up
in rather close formation, the backs reinforcing the line in front of
the Nordham full-back, who, with the right end, was the only player
in position to get through and legally capture a forward pass. But
this time, instead of going to the quarter at an angle, the ball went
straight back at short pass to left half who got off a quick, low kick
from close behind center. It was nip and tuck, but he got the ball away
before Colton and Mitchell smashed into him. It was a nervy play and
even the Yardley sympathizers were forced to voice their approval. Dan
put out his opponent, but the Nordham left tackle went straight down
the field without molestation, as did the Nordham right end. Loring,
however, was fleet of foot and although the ball had struck the ground
before he had reached it he managed to recover it deftly on the rebound
and make the turn toward his opponent’s goal before he was downed.
Nordham had gained thirty yards and better.

On second down, with six yards to go, Yardley tried a bunch forward
pass, but it failed to work and a fifteen yard penalty set her back to
her fifteen yards. Kapenhysen kicked and the pigskin was Nordham’s
again near her fifty-yard-line. She tried a quarter-back kick and
gained twelve yards. Another plunge at right tackle for a scant three
feet was followed by a fake punt in which the left half took the ball
between his own left guard and center for a first down. Trick after
trick was tried and Yardley was fairly bewildered. Then a fumble by
quarter gave Yardley the ball and Kapenhysen kicked on first down, the
ball settling into the Nordham left half’s arms on his ten yards. He
reeled off ten more before he was stopped. Nordham’s line opened wide
across the field again and Yardley tried to guard against a kick by
dropping her backs further from the line. This time the ball went to
quarter and he sprang away outside of Yardley’s right tackle and had
put four white lines underfoot before he was stopped. A few minutes
later the same formation was used again, but by this time Yardley had
learned her lesson. She made her line compact at the center and trusted
to getting through and upsetting the play before it was in motion. The
result was that Nordham was set back for a five-yard loss. That was the
last of the wide-open play that day.

[Illustration: FAKE KICK THROUGH LINE]

But she never allowed Yardley to become bored. She had more tricks than
a juggler and Loring’s brain fairly seethed. Getting the ball on her
forty yards, Yardley punted to Nordham’s twenty-five and Dan dropped
the runner at the second stride. Here, thought the Yardley supporters,
was where the Blue won the game! Mindful of what had happened in the
Brewer game, Loring called for a forward pass to Dan, but Nordham was
too cute and Dan found himself besieged by the Nordham right half and
full, and the latter secured the ball. Nordham quickly punted out of
danger. Yardley settled down now, with ten minutes to play, to steady
attacks at the opponent’s line. This programme, interspersed with an
occasional try at the ends, worked well for short gains and yard by
yard the pigskin crept back toward Nordham’s goal.

But it was slow going and Nordham killed all the time she could. She
was lavish with new players, sending in substitutes here and there
all along the line and, before the game was at end, providing herself
with a brand-new backfield. With two minutes to play and the ball on
Nordham’s fifteen-yard-line Loring called again for a forward pass, but
again Nordham solved the play and spoiled it and again kicked out of
danger. Disheartened, the blue-clad warriors took up the journey again.
Loring was taken out and King sent in. Connor tried the end without
result and Capes had little luck at the other corner. Kapenhysen
kicked. Nordham returned it. Connor got away through tackle for twelve
yards, Capes seized three more through the same hole, Kapenhysen
plugged center for four and then came another punt. This time Nordham
kept the ball and began an attack on the Blue’s line, but before she
had made her third down the whistle blew and the game was over with no
score.

Yardley had one consolation, however, and she made the most of it; she
was still undefeated.



CHAPTER XXIII

WHAT HAPPENED “BLUE MONDAY”


“What we need,” said Payson, “is a forward pass that will work.”

It was shortly after eight o’clock and the scene was the coach’s
sitting-room in the village. About the room were seated Colton, Loring,
Capes, Dickenson, Hill and Dan of the First Team and Ridge of the
Second. The Nordham game was three hours old, but Loring still looked
as though he expected someone to play a trick on him any moment.

“The trouble with the passes we have,” said Colton, “is that, once
started, they’re too evident, don’t you think so, sir?”

“Yes, I do. Or, anyhow, that’s so of the ‘one man’ pass. By the time
left half has made his fake to the right and then turned back to the
left again the other team is dead on to what’s up and, if they’re any
good, can spoil it. Nordham proved that to-day.”

“From what I can make out, though,” said Loring, “Broadwood hasn’t
nearly as brainy a team as Nordham, nor anywhere near as quick.”

“Probably not,” answered Payson, “but we can’t trust to her mistakes to
win next Saturday. What I’d like to do is to get hold of a variation
of the forward pass that could be counted on to fool the opponent and
occasionally make good. I wish the fool play had never been invented,
but it’s here and we’ve got to make the best of it. Now let’s talk the
thing over. Wait a minute.”

He went to his board and laid out the blue and green disks.

“There now, there’s our regular kick formation. What do you fellows
know about a forward pass that won’t advertise itself from the first?”

[Illustration: YARDLEY’S KICK FORMATION]

The others gathered around the board. There was silence for a moment.
Then suggestions came from one and another and Payson, with chalk, in
hand, drew lines on the blackboard and moved the blue disks about. But
no suggestion seemed practicable when worked out. At the end of half
an hour Payson leaned back and frowned.

“That idea of Hill’s is the best I’ve heard,” he said, “but it isn’t
safe, do you think so?”

“I don’t believe it is myself, sir,” said Hill ruefully.

“No. I was monkeying with an idea the other night,” said Payson. “Let
me see; how did that go?” He went to work with his chalk. “There, that
was it, but you can see that it won’t really do. It’s a sort of delayed
forward pass. There is the usual fake to the right as for a ‘bunch’
pass. The ball goes to left half, who starts to run to the right,
too, but doesn’t turn in. As the ball leaves center, left end leaves
his place and runs back as though to get into the ‘bunch.’ Instead of
that, though, he gets a position farther out and receives the pass from
left half after the ‘bunch’ is formed. It might work, but it probably
wouldn’t.” He looked up and his eyes met Dan’s. “Here, Vinton, what do
you think? You’ve got a head for strategy.”

[Illustration: PAYSON’S DELAYED FORWARD PASS]

“It would be mighty risky, sir, I should think. You’d fool some of the
other chaps all right, but by the time left end was in place to get
the pass the other fellows might see their mistake. And wouldn’t it be
better to let left end take the ball on a short pass as he goes by,
sir? Then, even if he didn’t make any gain, you’d be sure of keeping
the ball?”

Payson studied a moment.

“Yes, I guess that’s so,” he said finally. “Well, that disposes of that
as a forward pass. And giving the ball to left end wouldn’t help any,
for left half would do better to keep on himself and make the run. It
might be worked out in that way, though, a sort of ‘fake forward pass.’
But we haven’t time to learn many new tricks and what we do learn must
be worth while. Can’t you think of anything, Vinton?”

Dan was studying the board intently and for a moment he made no reply.
Then his hand sought Payson’s and found the chalk and he leaned past
him and began to make lines. The others watched with interest. When
he finished there were murmurs of approval. “Double passes are risky,
though,” muttered Colton.

“So are plain, everyday forward passes,” answered Dan as he straightened
up. “I don’t know how this would pan out in play, but it looks all right
here, doesn’t it?”

“How do you work it?” asked Payson.

“Well, I’ve drawn it for a pass to the left, but of course it could be
the other side just as well. On regular kick formation the ball goes
to full-back, who runs to the right as though to throw to the ‘bunch.’
Quarter, right half, end and tackle go down as though to receive it,
one of them holding up his hand to signal for the ball. Left half keeps
his place for a moment and then runs sharply to the left for about
five yards. Left end keeps his man from coming through and then goes
around him to the left and takes position, say, ten yards beyond the
line. Full-back covers about ten yards to the right and then, instead
of throwing toward the bunch, turns and passes across the field to left
half and left half passes to left end. Full-back has got to watch the
opposing left end and make the throw before he reaches him.”

[Illustration: VINTON’S DOUBLE FORWARD PASS]

“I see,” said Payson thoughtfully. “Now let us see what the enemy
would do. First of all, expecting a kick or a forward pass, they’d
hold our line at first instead of breaking through. Then they’d see
the backfield start to the right and they’d move that way, trying to
get through to upset the play. Their backs would probably start that
way, too, to break up the ‘bunch.’ Now how about the right side of the
opponent’s line? We’d have to hold them pretty steady or they’d break
through and spoil left half’s catch.”

“They’d be off to the right--their left--as soon as our full-back
started that way,” said Colton.

“That’s right,” said Dickenson and Ridge in chorus.

“It looks good to me,” said Loring emphatically. “I wish we’d had it
this afternoon to spring on those smart-alecks!”

“Yes, I think we can make that go, Vinton,” said Payson. “Anyhow we’ll
try it against the Second on Monday.”

“Ridge will know the play, though,” Loring objected.

“We’ll give him that advantage,” answered Payson cheerfully with a
smile at the Second Team’s captain. “Then if we fool him we’ll be
pretty sure we’ve got something good.”

“That ought to make a good play near the goal,” said Colton. “Here’s
one thing, though, that we’ve forgotten. Broadwood plays her ends ten
yards back on everything except close-formations. That’ll put her right
end just about where our left end makes his catch.”

He altered the position of the two green checkers marked “L.E.” and
“R.E.”

“I guess that queers it,” sighed Hill regretfully.

“Hold on,” said Payson. “Left tackle can look after that end and keep
him out of the way. By that time it won’t matter if his man gets
through, although it’s likely that his man will be going around back
by that time. We’ll give it a good fair trial, anyhow. I think it will
work. If we try a bunch pass first and then this, it’ll fool them.”

He took up his memorandum book and diagramed the play in it, numbering
it 17 and 18, seventeen indicating that the play was to be made to the
left and eighteen that it was to go to the right. After that, other
matters and plays were discussed and it was well along toward ten
o’clock when the meeting broke up. When Dan reached his room, after
bidding good-night to the others, he found Tubby and Jake Hiltz in
possession. Tubby, for once, was in a pleasant humor, and Dan wondered
what happened to work such a marvel. Jake took his departure at ten
and Dan and Tubby went to bed, the former to dream of a wonderful
forward pass in which Alf Loring was the ball and was hurled about by
Payson and dexterously caught by Dan for long gains netting numerous
touchdowns.

The next day, Sunday, Dan went to Sound View, according to promise, at
half-past three to take dinner and spend the evening. He had secured
permission very easily, for since he had announced to Mr. Collins that
Gerald was to come to Yardley and that their conspiracy had succeeded,
Mr. Collins was so pleased that Dan had only to ask to get anything in
reason that he wanted. He spent a pleasant afternoon and evening at
Sound View and got back just before ten. Tubby was not in, but appeared
a few minutes later, informing Dan that he had been spending the
evening with Hiltz. As Dan had shown no curiosity, nor felt any, this
information was quite gratuitous and Dan speculated about it idly for a
minute. But there were more interesting things than Tubby’s vagaries
to think about and it soon passed out of his mind.

The next day was Monday, the Eighteenth of November. I mention the
fact because it was known for many months afterwards as “Blue Monday,”
and appears in a great many diaries as such. A good deal happened on
“Blue Monday,” enough to set the school in a ferment of excitement that
lasted for several days; and for a proper understanding of it let us
begin at the beginning and follow events as they transpired.

The beginning was at about half-past six in the morning. At that hour
Professor Angus McIntyre might have been seen coming out of the second
entrance of Dudley Hall wrapped in his queer old plaid ulster. He
wasn’t seen, as far as I know, for as a general thing at that hour
of the morning Kilts and “Mr. McCarthy,” the janitor, whose name, by
the way, isn’t McCarthy at all, at all, but just plain Owens, have
the place to themselves. The janitor was busy with his assistants in
Oxford Hall, and so, as far as I know, Professor McIntyre’s appearance
was witnessed only by a flock of noisy sparrows who were indulging in
a post-prandial quarrel around the sun-dial. It was the professor’s
daily habit to take a walk before Chapel. This morning, since in spite
of the early sunlight, the air was sharp and eager, he paused on the
bottom of the three stone steps and fastened the topmost button of his
ulster. He wore on his head a round, gray cloth hat and held under his
arm a thick walking-stick of Scotch oak. It was said that ulster, cap
and cane had each been in use by the professor when he first came to
Yardley, some twelve years before.

As he paused on the last step his gaze traveled appreciatively over
the Quadrangle. (This was the professor’s name for it, but to everyone
else it was just the Yard.) The pale sunlight threw long shadows across
the grass and the red brick walks, moist with dew, made lines of warm
color. Then he stepped onto the pavement and turned to the left, and as
he did so his gaze wandered to the building beside him and he stopped
short and stared at what he saw. There along the front of the building,
between the first and second entrances and beneath the sills of the
first-floor windows, were huge daubs of blue paint. The Professor
rubbed his eyes and looked again. Then he backed off onto the wet grass
and viewed the vandalism in its entirety. The daubs were letters nearly
two feet high and here is what they spelled:

                          NOW FOR BROADWOOD!!

The Professor read and shook his head. Then he turned and viewed the
windows of the neighboring buildings. No sign of life met his anxious
gaze. Then he disappeared into the second entrance of Dudley.

When he returned a couple of minutes later he had abandoned ulster and
cane. In place of the latter he bore a bucket of steaming water, a cake
of soap and a scrubbing-brush. Then he got to work. He began with the
“N.” The paint where it had been put on thinly was dry but still fresh.
Soap, water and brush had their effect, but it was slow work, and by
the time the “N” and the “O” were obliterated the water was very blue
and the Professor realized that he would never be able to scrub out
the whole inscription before time for Chapel. But he changed the water
in the pail and kept at work, and at seven o’clock, when Doctor Hewitt
raised the shade of his bed-room window, and, adjusting his shaving
glass, looked out across the yard, he stared in amazement, just as
the Professor had done half an hour before. He even followed out the
latter’s programme to the extent of rubbing his eyes. But there was no
optical illusion here. The figure with back toward him was undeniably
Professor McIntyre; Professor McIntyre washing the front of Dudley
Hall!

Now it is well known that higher mathematics, like chess, will, if
indulged in too greatly, impair the intellect. The Doctor shuddered
with horror and recalled symptoms displayed of late by the professor,
which at the time he had thought nothing of. It was terrible, terrible!
thought the Doctor. And something must be done at once; it would
never do to allow the students to discover the professor in such a
ridiculous situation! There was, also, the reputation of the school to
be protected!

Three minutes later the Doctor, attired in a dark red, figured
dressing-gown, was hurrying across the yard, framing as he went
soothing words for the distraught professor. But half-way across, the
Doctor’s eyes, near-sighted though they were, solved the mystery.
He paused in the middle of the grass-plot, his dressing-gown held
away from the moisture, and read the inscription. His first emotion
was one of relief; the professor had not gone insane! Then succeeded
indignation, and he strode on across the turf with heightened color.

“What is this? What is this?” he demanded.

The professor turned and his jaw dropped. For a moment, I’m firmly
convinced, the professor seriously considered pleading guilty to the
offense. Doubtless the uselessness of the project occurred to him in
time, for he laid the scrubbing-brush down, absent-mindedly wiped his
dripping hands on his trousers and sighed deeply.

“It’s blue paint, Doctor,” he said.

“But how did it get here? Who has done this?”

“It’ll be one of the boys, I’m thinking,” answered Kilts sorrowfully,
shaking his head. “Just a bit of thoughtlessness, ye ken, Doctor.”

“Thoughtlessness!” said the Doctor with a snort. “Vandalism, you mean,
sir.”

“Well, well, I’m getting it off nicely, Doctor. If you could find
another brush, now, I’m thinking that between us we could--”

“What!” ejaculated the Doctor. “Are you crazy, McIntyre? Leave it as it
is, man! This is no work for you!”

“Well, I thought likely it would cause less trouble if I got it off
before the boys saw it, Doctor.” The professor wiped the perspiration
from his forehead and looked regretfully at his pail and brush.

“Nonsense, sir! Leave it as it is; the one to take it off is the one
who put it there! I’ll get to the bottom of this at once. Call Mr.
Collins!”

Mr. Collins appeared on the scene presently. So did some of the
fellows. So did more of them. They stopped and stared open-mouthed.
Five minutes later the news was all over school and every fellow who
was able to reach the scene reached it. Professor McIntyre had left.

“Ah,” said Mr. Collins, “here is a trail of paint. We will follow it
up.” They did so, watched curiously by most of the school. The trail
led them to the first entrance of Dudley. Inside the door was a large
splash on the floor, as though the paint pot had been hit against the
corner of the wainscoting. Further along a brush mark showed on the
wall and a second was discovered beside the doorway of Number 7. There
the trail seemed to end.

“Who rooms here?” demanded the Doctor. Mr. Collins shook his head.

“I’m not certain, sir. Shall we look inside?”

“Yes, I want this thing settled here and now.” Mr. Collins knocked and
received no reply. He opened the door.

“Ah!” he said. The light from the room showed finger prints in blue
paint on the edge of the door. They passed in. They searched, and--for
why prolong the suspense?--under one of the beds in the bedroom, pushed
well up against the wall, they found a gallon can half filled with blue
paint and containing a brush. They bore it forth in triumph, the Doctor
marching ahead in outraged dignity, Mr. Collins following, trophy in
hand, looking troubled and thoughtful.

Outside, Yardley Hall was in a state of wild excitement. Wonderment and
amusement alternated. Speculation was rife. Who had done it? “Now for
Broadwood!” they read, for although the Professor had managed to remove
the paint as far as the first R, the inscription was still legible
for its entire length, the first of the letters being yet visible as
lighter streaks against the dark red bricks.

“Somebody will get thunder for this, all right,” observed Joe Chambers
with a grin. “I’m mighty glad I’m not mixed up in it!”

“Gee!” replied Alf Loring. “So’m I! Old Tobey looked like a
thunder-cloud.”

At that moment the thunder-cloud reappeared in the doorway. It
addressed itself to the throng at large.

“Who rooms in Number 7?” it demanded.

There was a moment of silence during which the fellows around Alf
Loring observed him with startled gaze and showed a disposition to
remove themselves from close proximity.

“I do, sir,” answered Loring.

The Doctor’s gaze wandered over the group and found him. There was a
flush on his cheeks, and the Doctor seized upon it as an evidence of
guilt.

“Indeed?” he asked complacently. “And who else, pray?”

“Tom Dyer, sir.”

“I will see you and Dyer in the Office after breakfast, if you please,”
said the Doctor.



CHAPTER XXIV

DAN WONDERS


By ten o’clock the news was all over school. Loring and Dyer were on
probation!

Consternation reigned. Without Loring at quarter against Broadwood the
game was already as good as lost! Dyer would be missed, too, for he was
first substitute at right half, but his loss was nothing to that of Alf
Loring. Consternation had given place to indignation by dinner time,
and commons hummed and buzzed like a mammoth bee-hive.

“I don’t believe Loring ever did it!” That was the general sentiment.
Loring himself had denied it up and down, and so had Dyer. Each
declared to Mr. Collins that he had never set eyes on the paint can
until he had seen it in Dr. Hewitt’s hand. Unfortunately, however,
neither was able to prove his innocence. No one could say for certain
that they had been in their room from ten o’clock until morning, and it
would have been a simple matter for them to have walked boldly out of
the front door, daubed on the letters and walked boldly in again. Mr.
Austin, whose room on the first floor in the second well was near the
entrance, was well known to be a heavy sleeper, and it is likely that
a herd of elephants could have entered and departed without disturbing
his slumbers. Neither Dyer nor Loring could prove an alibi even for
the hours between daylight and ten o’clock, for, as it happened, they
had visited various rooms in different dormitories during the evening
and were very uncertain as to when they had left one fellow’s room or
reached another’s. And so, much as Mr. Collins disliked doing it, the
penalty of probation was inflicted. Probation at Yardley was no joke.
It meant that a fellow must remain on school grounds, stay in his room
from after supper until time for Chapel the next morning, must have all
lessons perfect and, worse yet, must abstain from all sports.

“You declare that you know nothing about this affair,” said Mr.
Collins, “and I am inclined to believe you. Your records are of the
best, and the trick was such a silly, unnecessary thing that I can’t
imagine you doing it. But the Doctor is very much put out and there is
only one duty before me, and that is to put you both on probation. I am
sorry, for in your case the punishment is a very heavy one, since it
will disbar you from further football; unless--” Mr. Collins paused
and looked intently at Loring--“unless you can prove your innocence by
discovering the guilty ones. Somebody must have done it; you say you
did not; therefore, it is possible that between you you may be able to
discover the person or persons who are guilty. I will do all that I can
to clear the matter up, fellows.”

“Thank you, sir,” muttered Loring.

“Now, tell me, can you think of anyone who could have done it?” Both
shook their heads.

“You say you returned to your room shortly before ten. Therefore if
someone else placed that can of paint under your bed, Loring, they must
have done it before ten o’clock.”

“Yes, sir, unless they sneaked into the room after we were asleep.”

“Hm; not likely,” pondered Mr. Collins. “Still, possible, since your
door was unlocked. Have either of you purchased any paint lately?”

“No, sir.”

“I’ll see if I can find where it came from. Perhaps the man who sold it
will recall the purchaser. I’ll do what I can, fellows. Meanwhile you
had better see if you can’t find out something yourselves.”

Payson learned of the affair at noon and went at once to see the Doctor
and Mr. Collins. He pleaded and argued, declared that to suspect
Loring was utter nonsense and that under the circumstances to deprive
him of playing in the Broadwood game was utterly unjust. But the Doctor
was firm and Mr. Collins could only shrug his shoulders and protest
his helplessness. Payson became bitter and threatened to throw up his
work there and then. Mr. Collins reminded him that he couldn’t do that,
since he was under contract, and Payson went to some trouble to explain
just how little he cared about that contract. In fact he quite lost his
temper, and as there was a good deal of it to lose, Mr. Collins spent
an unpleasant half-hour. But in the end Payson had to retire defeated,
having said a good many things he was afterward sorry for.

At seven o’clock there was an indignation meeting in the Assembly Hall
which was attended by the whole school. Speeches were made and all
sorts of resolutions offered. In the end it was decided to draw up
an appeal to the Faculty. The drawback was that the Faculty did not
hold its next meeting until Thursday evening and that meanwhile the
Principal’s word was law. The meeting broke up with cheers for Loring
and Dyer, which were called for, and groans for Doctor Hewitt, which
were spontaneous. They heard the news at Broadwood the next day and
Colton got a telephone message from the Broadwood captain in which
the latter politely expressed his regrets. Colton thanked him and
courteously declared that Yardley expected to win just the same. Then
he hung up the receiver with a _bang_ and strode off muttering unkind
things about Broadwood, for no matter how many regrets they expressed
Colton knew well enough that they were secretly mighty glad to have
Loring off the Yardley team.

Those were hard times for Colton and for Payson. Discouragement
threatened to disrupt the season’s work. Everyone was convinced that
without Loring at quarter-back to lead the team, defeat was certain.
Colton worked like a Trojan, trying to act as though the mishap was a
matter of small moment and striving to bring back confidence to his
team-mates. Payson worked hard, too, but he was grim and silent; he
couldn’t pretend, or didn’t want to. King’s nose was put against the
grindstone with a vengeance. He was drilled in signals, drilled in
offense, drilled in defense and lectured between-whiles on generalship.

By Wednesday the first despair had worn off and the team was buckling
down to work again. Three new plays were learned, among them Dan’s
double forward pass. The latter went beautifully against the second
and there seemed no reason why it should not work as well against
Broadwood. Kapenhysen spent hours practicing goals from placement, the
ends were drilled in catching passes and that last week was the busiest
of the whole season. Luckily the weather had relented and day after day
of ideal football conditions followed each other. A certain degree of
cheerfulness returned to the team and its supporters. Without Loring it
was idle to look for victory, but they could put up a good game, and if
they succeeded in holding Broadwood down to a single score it would be
a triumph.

Meanwhile Mr. Collins, assisted enthusiastically by Stevie, ran down
all clues without results. Several of the hardware stores kept the
brand of paint which had been used to decorate the front of Dudley
and almost all of them had sold cans of blue pigment during the last
fortnight. But no one could recall having sold to a purchaser who might
have been a Yardley student. That appeared to exhaust the clues.

“There’s one thing I regret,” said Mr. Collins. “And that is that we
allowed the finger prints on the door to be washed off. We might have
been able to discover something through them.”

“Nonsense,” said Mr. Austin, “you’d have had to have dipped the fingers
of half the school in blue paint, and even then you couldn’t have told
for certain.”

“But we might have determined that neither Loring nor Dyer were the
ones.”

“We know that already, don’t we?” demanded Mr. Austin, a trifle
impatiently. Mr. Collins nodded.

“Yes, I guess we do,” he answered. “I wish we could convince the
Doctor, though.”

“We’ll try to-morrow night at Faculty meeting,” was the answer. “I, for
one, am opposed to holding those boys guilty under the circumstances.
And McIntyre and Bendix are with me.”

“So am I,” said Mr. Collins. “But we are only four out of ten; and the
Doctor is as--hum--determined as a mule in this affair.”

“Well, it’s a blessed shame, that’s what I call it,” said Mr. Austin
warmly. “Think of keeping Loring out of the game Saturday! And we’ll
lose it as sure as shooting!”

“I wouldn’t mention that phase of it, though,” said the other with a
smile. “The Doctor might think we were letting our desire to win the
Broadwood game prejudice us.”

“Pshaw!” said Stevie.

Next to Loring and Dyer I doubt if anyone felt much worse about their
misfortune than did Dan. But it was Loring that he was especially sorry
for. He had grown to like the latter immensely. Loring had been kind
to him in a dozen ways, at a dozen times, and mainly when kindnesses
meant much. Doubtless Dan over-valued those kindnesses. True it is that
by this time his attitude toward Alfred Loring had become similar to
Gerald’s attitude toward him. It was a case of healthy hero-worship in
each instance. And of late Dan and Loring had been seeing a good deal
of each other and the friendship had been ripening on each side.

At first Dan hesitated to call on Loring, fearing that the latter might
resent intrusion. But a chance word on Tuesday settled that matter and
on Tuesday night Dan went over to Dudley and spent an hour with the
room-mates. Of course the blue paint episode was the main subject of
conversation, and between them they went over it time and again seeking
to discover some clue which might lead them to the identity of the real
culprit. But always they met with failure. Loring’s spirits were pretty
low, but Dyer’s were lower, and for a quite unselfish reason.

“I don’t care so much about myself,” he said, “for I’d only have got
into the game for a few minutes, maybe. But it makes me mad about Alf.
Why the dickens couldn’t it have been someone else, Vinton? Almost any
other fellow on the team would have been better! Why, thunder, I’d fess
up to doing the whole thing alone; only they wouldn’t believe me!”

“Of course they wouldn’t,” said Loring smilingly. “Especially as I’d
swear you were lying, Tom.”

“That’s so,” said Dan thoughtfully, “almost any other fellow on the
team would have been better.”

Somehow that remark of Tom Dyer’s stuck with him the rest of the
evening and recurred to him throughout the next day. That was
Wednesday, and the school was excited and impatient to learn what
action the Faculty would take. The meeting was held in Oxford A at
eight o’clock. At half-past nine Mr. Austin brought news of it to
Dudley Hall. The verdict stood. The Doctor had been implacable and a
majority of the Faculty had stood with him. The verdict had gone forth
that until the culprit had publicly erased the obnoxious letters from
the front of Dudley, Loring’s and Dyer’s probation was to continue.
The news spread fast and in a few minutes a hundred and more students
were assembled in the Yard making night hideous with their expressions
of disapproval. There were cheers for Mr. Collins, for Mr. Austin,
for Mr. Bendix and for Professor McIntyre, especially for Kilts, for
since the school had learned of his attempt to eradicate the paint and
save the culprits there had been a reversal of opinion regarding him.
Kilts was now on the topmost wave of popularity, but I don’t think he
ever knew it. Finally the school leaders and a few of the instructors
persuaded the fellows to abandon their meeting and return to their
rooms.

The final practice was held secretly on Thursday afternoon, and the
whole school marched cheering to Yardley Field and witnessed the ten
minutes of scrimmaging which terminated it. The songs were sung and
each member of the team was cheered to the echo. Payson was cheered,
and Andy Ryan, and Paddy Forbes. And then “nine long ones” were given
for the Second Team. And after that the First trotted back to the
gymnasium and the Second got together in the middle of the big, bare
field and, led by Ridge, cheered them heartily. And the last practice
was over and Yardley faced the final conflict.

The enthusiasm continued all that evening and all the next day
when fresh fuel was added to it by the deciding game in the class
championship series. This was between the First Class and the Second
and was played on the varsity gridiron and witnessed by every fellow
who could get to it. It was a good contest and First Class won by a
single score, 16 to 12. First Class celebrated mightily and all the
rest of the evening and far into the night sporadic cheers for “First,
First, First!” echoed on the frosty air.

Dan paid a visit to Payson that evening after supper. The coach was
in his room looking rather glumly at an evening paper which compared
the chances of Broadwood and Yardley in Saturday’s contest and which
awarded the game to Broadwood in advance. Payson was too experienced
to believe all that he read in the newspapers, but the writer’s views
chimed in with his own and he was much inclined to credit the paper
with the gift of prophecy. He appeared very glad to see Dan, as
doubtless he was. For a time they spoke of the double forward pass.

“It’s a good play, Vinton,” declared Payson almost cheerfully, “and
we’ll make it work. We’ve got you to thank for that. If we had Loring
I’d bet a carload of hats that we’d win. As it is--” He shrugged his
shoulders disconsolately--“we’re in for a licking of some sort. I
wouldn’t say this to everyone, but you’re a sensible chap, Vinton, and
will play as well if not better with defeat staring at you.”

“I’ll do the best I can, sir,” answered Dan rather listlessly. “How
about Williams, Mr. Payson? Won’t he be able to play?”

“Yes, he’s in good shape, again, and we may need him before we’re
through.”

“Don’t you think he can play end as well as I can, sir?”

Payson looked puzzled.

“What are you after, Vinton?” he asked. “Compliments?”

“No, sir, I was just wondering whether if I wasn’t on the team Williams
wouldn’t do just as well.”

“What’s the matter with you?” asked the coach anxiously.

“Nothing, sir. I’m feeling fine. I just wondered.”

“Well, then I’ll tell you. Williams is about as good an end as you
are to-day, but you’ll have him beat in another year if you keep on
improving as you have lately. He’s a little surer on tackling than you
are, and he stops his man better. But you handle forward passes in
better shape and seem to be quicker at sizing-up plays. There’s a fair
criticism, Vinton. How do you like it?”

“I guess you’ve let me off pretty easy, sir,” Dan replied with a smile.
“But I’m much obliged. If I couldn’t play, then, Williams would do just
as well, wouldn’t he?”

“Look here, Vinton,” said Payson with a frown, “you go and see Ryan and
do as he tells you; understand?”

“Oh, I’m all right, sir; honest!” Dan assured him. “I--I just sort of
wondered--” Payson smiled.

“You stop wondering and go to bed,” he said kindly.



CHAPTER XXV

ON PROBATION


On Friday morning Alfred Loring awoke early. During the last few days
he had got into the habit of waking early and going to sleep late. It
was all well enough for Colton and Capes and Hill and the others to
counsel cheerfulness; they could afford to be philosophical and to give
advice; but when a fellow has been working hard all Fall with one goal
in sight only at the last moment to have that goal suddenly disappear,
it requires a whole lot of fortitude to keep from cutting up rough.
Loring had tried not to act the baby, but just the same the tears had
come once, at least. He wished that Colton and the others would cut out
their everlasting “Cheer up, Alf!” He couldn’t cheer up, and didn’t
want to, anyway! There was one good thing about Tom Dyer; Tom didn’t
tell him to cheer up or pretend that the bottom hadn’t dropped out of
things; Tom was frankly heart-broken and angry, and it was a comfort to
Loring to hear him hold forth.

For the first couple of days Loring had been hopeful. It seemed that
the fellow who had perpetrated such a trick, whether for spite or
merely as a joke, must have the decency to come forward and own up. But
when Thursday night had arrived, and his shackles had not been knocked
off, Loring had lost hope. And he had laid awake until long after
midnight, thinking and thinking! If only he could get his hands on the
fellow who had done it! He groaned and gritted his teeth in impotent
rage. Then his anger swung around to the Doctor and the Faculty as a
whole. They should have believed his declaration of innocence. His
record was as good as that of any fellow in school. Common sense
should tell them that he wouldn’t be idiot enough to do a trick like
that less than a week before the Broadwood game and so endanger his
chance of playing! Fools, that’s what they were! A pack of silly,
doddering fools! Finally sleep had come to him, a sleep interspersed
with dreams, and now he was awake again with the cold light of a cloudy
morning flooding in under the half-raised window-shade. He was tired,
unrefreshed; too fagged to feel even resentment. He simply didn’t care
this morning.

He turned over, closed his eyes and tried to go to sleep again.
Presently a swishing sound from outside the window reached him and,
half asleep, he told himself that it was the maid scrubbing the front
steps. For Loring’s home was in Philadelphia, where the cleaning of
the white marble doorsteps with scrubbing-brush and fine sand or
rotten-stone was an almost daily ceremony. But after a few minutes he
found himself wide awake again and realized that he was not in his room
at home and that consequently his explanation of the sound couldn’t
be the correct one. He heard footsteps on the brick pavement and the
grating of a pail. But whatever it was it didn’t interest him for
long. He looked at the clock on the mantel, saw that it announced a
few minutes before seven and decided to get up. Dyer was still snoring
peacefully.

Loring bathed and dressed himself slowly. When he was ready he awoke
Dyer. By this time the dormitory was noisy with the tramp of hurrying
feet and the slamming of doors. Dyer, only half awake, thrust his feet
into a pair of heelless slippers, tied a big bath towel about him and
went yawning off down the corridor for his shower. Loring took up a
magazine irresolutely, turned a few pages, dropped it onto the table
again and went out. At the entrance he paused and looked about. The sky
hinted of snow and the air smelt of it. The Yard was deserted, or so
it seemed until sounds near at hand caused him to turn his head. Then
Loring stared in mystification.

A few steps away Dan Vinton, with pail and brush and sandsoap, was
scrubbing at the blue letters along the base of the building. He wore a
brown sweater in lieu of coat, his trousers were turned up well at the
bottoms and his feet were encased in a pair of old “sneakers.” And he
was working steadily, doggedly, with set, determined face.

“What the dickens are you doing?” exclaimed Loring finally.

Dan looked up for a brief instant. Then,

“Cleaning off this mess,” he answered soberly.

“What for, you idiot?”

There was no answer. Dan kept his eyes on his work. A little frown of
perplexity appeared on Loring’s forehead.

“What have you got to do with it, Vinton?” he asked with dawning
disquiet. There was a moment of silence before Dan answered. Then,

“Faculty,” he said in low tones, “says the fellow who did it must take
it off.”

“What?” cried Loring incredulously. “Do you mean that--that--you--I
don’t believe it, Vinton!” Dan made no answer.

“You’re crazy!” continued Loring. “If Faculty sees you here they’ll
think--” He paused. Dan’s silence was disheartening. His face showed
Loring that here was no joke. Perhaps--but Loring smothered the
suspicion; it was absolutely absurd to believe Vinton capable of
playing such a trick on him and remaining silent so long. “I don’t
believe it!” he muttered. But there was little assurance in his tone.
By this time the dormitories had begun to empty and one by one fellows
paused, stared and drew near. If Loring had been incredulous they were
not. To them it was simple enough. Vinton was the culprit.

Dan had been working for an hour and had made good progress; but four
letters remained. But now he must stop and go to Chapel. He set his
pail out of the way, dropped the brush in it, laid the sandsoap beside
it and rinsed and dried his hands. Then he turned calmly and made his
way toward Clarke. No one spoke to him; no one knew just what to say.
Half-way across the Yard he came face to face with Mr. Collins.

“Vinton,” said the Assistant Principal, “was that you scrubbing the
bricks over there?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then--am I to understand by it that you are the one who is to blame?”
he asked gravely. Dan made no answer. But his silence was conclusive
and Mr. Collins sighed. “I am sorry, Vinton,” he said kindly. “Will you
come and see me at the office, please, after breakfast?”

“Yes, sir,” muttered Dan again. Then he was free to go on and hide from
the sight of those dozens of staring eyes. But it was not for long, for
the bell was ringing as he hurried to his room and got into his coat.
Walking across the floor of Assembly Hall, facing the curious glances
of the school, was the hardest of all. But finally he was in his seat
and could stare at the head of the boy in front of him and try to
convince himself that he had done right. When Chapel was over and he
filed out with his class he had it all to go through with again, and
once more at breakfast. Many fellows spoke to him as though nothing at
all had happened, but for the most part the glances that he met were
frankly curious and aloof. At training table the fellows were awfully
decent, he told himself. They strove to include him in the talk, and
he strove to speak naturally. Once he caught Payson’s gaze on him. The
coach was frowning in a puzzled way. Dan wondered if he suspected.

The visit to Mr. Collins was distinctly unpleasant. Mr. Collins had
taken a warm liking to Dan and he seemed to feel worse about the affair
than Dan did himself.

“Were you alone in this, Vinton?” he asked. “Did one of the other boys
help you?”

“I had no help, sir.”

“Why did you do it? Was it intended as a joke?”

“I--I don’t know, sir.”

“You don’t know!” echoed the other incredulously. “But you must know
what prompted you to do such a foolish thing! Didn’t you know that you
would be punished?”

“I suppose so, sir.”

“Had you a grudge against Loring or Dyer?”

“No, sir,” answered Dan earnestly.

“Then you tried to place suspicion on them--why?”

But Dan was silent. Mr. Collins waited a moment, sighed, and shook his
head.

“You’re not making it any easier for yourself, Vinton, by refusing
to answer my questions. I want to think that the affair was only a
thoughtless prank, that you had no mean motives, but you will tell me
nothing. When did you buy that paint, and where?”

Dan’s eyes fixed themselves on the floor and he made no reply.

“Surely,” went on Mr. Collins persuasively, “there can be no reason for
hiding facts now, Vinton. Come, answer me.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but I--I can’t.”

“You mean you won’t,” replied the other impatiently. “Very well, have
it so. Why have you confessed to-day?”

“I didn’t want Dyer and Loring to--to be punished, sir.”

“I wish you might have owned up a little earlier, Vinton,” said Mr.
Collins with a sigh. “I’m afraid the Doctor will think your repentance
rather too late to be satisfactory. I will do all that I can for you,
my boy, but you mustn’t expect to get off without punishment.”

“I don’t, sir,” answered Dan in a low voice. “I’m willing to take
what’s coming to me.”

“Even if--it amounts to being expelled?”

Dan looked up with startled eyes.

“It--it won’t be that, sir, will it?” he asked troubledly.

“I’m afraid,” began Mr. Collins, “that the Doctor--But, no, Vinton, I
don’t think it will come to that. I will do everything I can for you.
I only wish you would be a little more frank with me; I could help you
better.”

“I--I wish I could, sir,” said Dan earnestly. “I’m sorry.”

Mr. Collins looked perplexed. Then,

“I fear you are trying to shield someone else, Vinton,” he said. But
Dan shook his head.

“No, sir, truly!” he declared. There was a moment’s silence. Then Mr.
Collins arose and placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“Vinton, you’ve done wrong and you’ve got to be punished. But don’t
make the mistake of thinking that the Faculty is ‘down on you.’ It
isn’t, my boy. We dislike to punish, believe me. Take this in the right
way; make up your mind to profit by it, for one can profit by his
mistakes if he is wise. Show us and the school that you are big enough
to take your medicine without whining, no matter what it is. Will you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That’s right,” said Mr. Collins cheerfully. “Now you may go. I’ll see
the Doctor and do what I can for you. Come to me again at noon.”

At noon Dan went on probation and Loring and Dyer came off.

Dan’s chief sentiment as he walked out of the Office was one of
relief. All morning he had been in dread of being expelled. That would
have been a big price to pay for what he was doing, and he wondered
whether he would have the courage to play the game through and take
his medicine if it was as nauseous as that. Luckily, he was not called
on to decide. A month of probation was his punishment. Although Mr.
Collins didn’t say so, Dan was certain that the Assistant Principal
had been obliged to plead hard with the Doctor, and he went away very
grateful to the former. He spent most of the afternoon in his room. He
didn’t feel very guilty and ashamed, but it was necessary to appear so.
Tubby’s behavior was eccentric, even for Tubby.

“You’re a fool, Dan!” he cried hotly. “You know well enough you never
did that painting! You’re just doing this to get Loring off probation!”

“Nonsense!” said Dan. “Do you think I look like a martyr?”

“That’s all right, but you can’t fool me! And you’ve got to stop it,
Dan Vinton! If you don’t I’ll go to Collins and tell him!”

“Tell him what?” asked Dan smilingly.

“Tell him what I know!”

“Well, what _do_ you know, Tubby?”

“I know you never did it!”

“How do you know that?”

Tubby hesitated. Then:

“Because you were here in your room at ten o’clock,” he replied weakly.

“What of that? That business was done before ten, Tubby. How can you
tell what I did during the evening? You were over with Hiltz, weren’t
you?”

Tubby nodded.

“You’re a fool, just the same,” he muttered. “And--and I wish you
wouldn’t, Dan!”

“Oh, nonsense, Tubby, I’m not hurt. It’s only probation, anyway.” Dan
was surprised at Tubby’s solicitude and spoke very kindly. Tubby looked
troubled for a moment, tried to say something, swallowed hard a couple
of times and hurried out of the room. Dan gazed after him and gave
expression to his surprise in a low whistle.

“To think of his caring!” he murmured. Then his face grew thoughtful
and for several minutes he stared at the closed door. Finally he nodded
his head several times, as one who has reached a decision, and,

“That’s just it!” he muttered.

The popular verdict was rather favorable to Dan. Of course, the fellows
argued, Vinton had done it merely as a joke on Loring. Everyone knew
that they were good friends. Afterwards he had been scared and so had
kept quiet. That he had finally confessed and relieved Loring and Dyer
from probation and placed them once more in a position to play against
Broadwood was generally conceded to be sufficient amends. Of course,
he might have owned up sooner, but then, hang it all, lots of fellows
would have done the same thing as like as not! The members of the team
were so glad to get Loring back that, had anyone suggested it, they
would gladly have presented Dan with a loving-cup!

Loring’s own feelings were baffling even to himself. He had liked
Dan and had believed that Dan liked him. He knew that he ought to be
terribly angry for what the other had done, but somehow, what with his
liking and his delight at being able to play against Broadwood, he
couldn’t find anything but sympathy for Dan. He would have gone to see
him and tried to tell him this had it been possible. But after dinner
Payson took him in hand, regularly kidnapped him, and he wasn’t seen
again until nine o’clock that night, at which hour the football players
were sent to bed. Loring didn’t forget that day for a long, long time.
Payson, in seven hours, drummed into him what the rest of the team
had taken four afternoons and four evenings to learn. But he slept
that night, slept like a log, and awoke on Saturday morning ready for
anything, ready to play the game of his life against Broadwood!



CHAPTER XXVI

“TUBBY” PACKS A BAG


Gerald hadn’t seen Dan for several days, and on Saturday he set out
shortly before twelve, having gone through the form of eating an early
luncheon, with eager steps. Gerald didn’t use the automobile nowadays
when he wanted to merely go around the corner. Dan had laughed him out
of that. All the way through the Yardley woods and up the hill Gerald
tasted in anticipation the delight and excitement of the afternoon’s
contest. The game was to begin at two o’clock and Gerald hoped to have
a half-hour with Dan before it. He went up to Dan’s room, found it
empty and sat down to wait. After awhile Tubby appeared. He didn’t seem
pleased to discover Gerald in possession, and his stare of surprise
gave place to a frown of annoyance. Gerald felt that he ought to
apologize.

“I wanted to see Dan,” he said, “but I can wait outside just as well if
you want to--to dress or anything.”

Tubby hesitated. His first impulse was to drive Gerald out, to give
vent to the dislike which he entertained for the younger boy. But
Tubby was in a strange mood to-day, and instead he only said, almost
graciously, “I’m not going to dress--much. You can stay here.”

Then he looked at his watch, frowned and asked Gerald the time.

“Twenty-two minutes of one,” answered Gerald, looking at his own watch.
Tubby corrected his timepiece with a growl for its eccentricities. “I
wonder when Dan will be here,” pursued Gerald timidly. “Have you seen
him lately?”

“Saw him in commons at dinner,” replied Tubby.

“Oh, have you had dinner?”

“Yes, had it early on account of the game. I suppose you knew there was
to be a game?” The irony was lost on Gerald.

“You bet,” he answered. “I’m going to see it. I wouldn’t miss it for
anything. I hope Dan will do something fine.”

“Fine? How do you mean?” asked Tubby, turning to view the other
curiously.

“I mean play a great game! Make a touchdown or something!”

“Oh!” Tubby was silent a moment. Then he smiled maliciously. “Dan isn’t
going to play,” he said.

“He isn’t! Why--what--”

“Haven’t you heard?” asked Tubby easily. “He’s on probation. They
say--in fact he’s owned up to it--that he painted the front of Dudley
the other night.”

“Painted it?”

“Yes, painted ‘Now for Broadwood!’ all along the front in blue letters.
Faculty was awfully peeved and put Alf Loring and the fellow he rooms
with on probation. They found the paint pot under a bed in their room.
Then Dan confessed to it and so they let Loring off and put him on.”

“And he can’t play?” cried Gerald incredulously.

“Of course not; you can’t do much of anything if you’re on
probation--except study!”

“I don’t believe he ever did it!”

“But he’s acknowledged it. It--” Tubby looked at Gerald intently--“was
Sunday night.”

“Why, he was with me Sunday night! He came over in the afternoon and
stayed until almost ten o’clock! He couldn’t have done it, Jones!”
Tubby shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, he says he did! I guess he knows.”

He looked at his watch again, arose and wandered somewhat restlessly
about the room, glancing at Gerald now and then and pausing to listen
to the sounds in the corridor. Finally,

“I guess he isn’t coming up here,” he said carelessly. “Maybe he’s gone
over to the library or somewhere.”

“Can’t he see the game?” asked Gerald anxiously.

“Not he! He can’t go off the grounds. He might watch it from the hill,
though. I guess he will do that.”

“I--I’ll wait a few minutes longer, I think, if you don’t mind,” said
Gerald troubledly. Tubby shrugged his shoulders.

“Wait as long as you like,” he said. He went to his closet and got down
his bag, a big yellow Gladstone. Then he pulled open the drawers of his
bureau and began transferring some of his clothes to the bag.

“Are you going away?” asked Gerald.

“Yes, going home over Sunday,” replied Tubby. “I’m sick of this place.
Got to have a change.” He wandered along his side of the room, adding a
book or a photograph or some trifle to the contents of the bag. Finally
it was filled and strapped. Tubby set it at the foot of his bed, placed
coat and umbrella over it and drew his chair to the table. For the next
quarter of an hour he wrote, pausing and scowling over his task. When
he had finished three notes sealed and addressed, lay beside him. He
looked at his watch. It was after one o’clock.

“What time does your train go?” asked Gerald politely.

“One-forty-three,” was the answer in preoccupied tones. Then, “Say,
Pennimore, I wish you’d do me a favor. I want this note to get to
Payson, the coach, right away. Will you take it to him? I won’t have
time myself. Do you mind?”

“Not at all; I’ll be very glad to,” replied Gerald eagerly.

“All right. And here’s one for Dan. You might hand it to him when
you see him. It’s something I meant to see him about before I went.
It--it’s kind of important. You won’t forget it, will you?”

“No, I’ll find him right away.”

“Well, but the one to Payson is the most important. So just look him up
first. I’m much obliged.” Tubby dropped the third note into his pocket
and put on his cap. “I’ve got to go across to the Office a minute.
Coming along? I don’t think Dan’s coming up here. You’ll probably find
him around the grounds somewhere.”

They went out together, Tubby leading the way along the corridor and
down the stairs. Outside he remarked:

“Dan says you’re coming here after Christmas.”

“Yes, I am,” replied Gerald uneasily, dreading the next question.

“Got your room yet?”

“No, not yet. Father has spoken about it, though.”

“I see. Thought perhaps you and Dan would room together.”

“I’d like to,” answered Gerald, “but--I don’t know--”

“You’d better. He’s a good sort, Dan is. He and I--” there was pride in
Tubby’s voice--“have been pretty good chums.”

“But won’t you--” began Gerald.

“Me?” said Tubby carelessly. “Oh, I may decide to change my room. You
can’t tell. Perhaps I won’t be here after Christmas.”

“Oh, I hope you will,” murmured Gerald.

“Oh, cut it out!” It was the old Tubby once more. “You make me sick,
you do, Pennimore. What’s the good of lying about it? You know blamed
well you wouldn’t care if I never came back.”

“Not when you talk that way,” returned Gerald with spirit. “But when
you’re nice--”

Tubby laughed and flushed. They had reached the entrance to Oxford.

“You’re a queer guy,” he said, and nodded. “Well, so long. See you
again maybe. Don’t forget the note to Payson.”

“I won’t. Good-bye, Jones. I hope you’ll have a pleasant visit home.”

“Oh, I’m sure to,” answered Tubby ironically. “They’ll all be terribly
pleased to see me! So long!”

He disappeared into the building and Gerald turned his steps toward the
gymnasium, seeking Dan and Payson.

But he wasn’t destined to find Dan just then, for that youth was two
miles away, loitering dejectedly along the shore. Dinner had been at
twelve o’clock, a breathless, excited repast for everyone, Dan thought,
save himself. He had felt terribly out of it all, and, although he
desired Yardley to win the game as much as any of her supporters,
he felt that he couldn’t remain around school to watch the fellows
trooping down to the field. He had eaten little and his dinner was soon
over. Afterwards he had wandered across the Prospect and the railway
bridge and, without thinking, had plunged into the woods.

For awhile his main desire had been to place distance between himself
and the school, to get away somewhere where he wouldn’t keep
recollecting every minute what he had missed. But one can’t walk away
from recollection, and, although he had tramped a good two miles along
the Sound, his thoughts were still on the game. What a game it would
be! And how he hated Williams who would have his place at left end! If
only it wasn’t the last game of the year! Who knew what might happen
before next Fall; why, he might be dead or something! Perhaps to-day
was his last chance to play, and here he was on probation--!

Probation!

He stopped suddenly and looked about him. Why, he had no business
here, off of the school grounds! He had forgotten; he must get back at
once. He turned and hurriedly retraced his steps, praying that none of
the Faculty would see him before he was once more within bounds. He
didn’t feel especially guilty about it, since he had disobeyed quite
unintentionally, but it might not be easy to convince the Doctor of his
innocence. He breathed freer when he was once more across the bridge.
The grounds and buildings looked strangely empty and were uncommonly
quiet. He looked at his watch and found that it was five minutes of
two. And at that moment, borne on the breeze, came, faint but distinct,
the long-drawn cheers of Yardley. Dan clenched his hands and hurried
toward Clarke Hall. Once past the entrance the disturbing sounds no
longer reached him. He closed the door of his room and turned the key
in the lock, as though the better to shut out sound, tossed his cap
aside and picked up a book desperately.

Suddenly, as his gaze roamed from the book, it occurred to him that
Tubby’s side of the room looked strangely bare; most of his photographs
had disappeared and the top of his dresser was denuded of toilet
articles. He wondered a moment. But the solution didn’t come to him
and his thoughts returned to the game. Ten minutes passed. He had read
only a page of the book and had not the slightest idea what it had
meant. Footsteps sounded down the corridor and came rapidly nearer.
There was a knock at the door. Gerald’s voice cried “Dan! Dan! Are you
in here?” A hand tried the door. Dan made no answer. He didn’t want
to talk to Gerald just then. There was another challenge, a pause and
then the footsteps hurried off again. Downstairs the front door slammed
subduedly. Dan took up his book again. But it was no use, and presently
he donned his cap and hurried as fast as Gerald had done down the
stairs and out of the building. He had to know how the game was going!

He turned into the Yard at the corner and crossed it rapidly. He might
not leave the ground but there was nothing to keep him from seeing the
game from the edge of the hill or--He gave a grunt of satisfaction.
The gymnasium! That was it! There was a window on the running track
looking directly down upon the field which lay only a few hundred yards
distant. The gymnasium was silent. The afternoon sunlight streamed in
at the big westerly windows, high up under the peak of the roof, and
motes of dust swam in the golden paths it made. He climbed the stairs
to the track and hurried to the window on the north. Two big blue and
green flies were buzzing fretfully against the panes. Before him was
the meadow, the path, the tennis courts and the field, the latter
fringed with figures. The two stands, one on each side of the gridiron,
were packed with spectators and the blue banners of Yardley and the
green of Broadwood were everywhere. On the field, a golden-yellow
expanse of sun-bathed autumn turf, two thin lines were facing each
other. A white-sweatered referee skipped nimbly out of the way, the
lines surged together in a sudden confused jumble of struggling
canvas-clothed forms, there was a moment of indecision, the confusion
melted away, order grew out of chaos and once more the lines faced,
now five yards nearer the south goal. Yardley had made first down;
Dan saw the linesmen trot along with the poles and chain. He looked
at his watch. The time was twenty minutes after two; only fifteen
minutes remained of the first half. If only he knew whether any scoring
had been done! He believed that if he could get to the top of the
window he could look over the corner of the nearest stand and see the
score-board. But there was nothing to hold on by. He thought a moment
and then raced across to the trophy room, returning presently with a
chair. By standing on the back of it he could see. The score-board was
blank of figures!

He descended until his feet were on the chair-seat, and so, with the
two flies buzzing about him, and a little ray of sunlight on his head,
he stood and watched the battle. Twice messengers hurried up the
path below him and hurried back again. Once he heard the door open
downstairs, heard footsteps on the floor below, but he was too intent
on the struggle to heed. He tried to open the window that he might hear
the sound of the referee’s whistle or the grunting of the umpire’s
horn, but the casement stuck fast and all his strength could not budge
it.

Yardley was down on Broadwood’s fifteen yards now and Loring was
smashing the backs against the green line. But the gains were small.
Only a yard that time through tackle. Dan knew intuitively that it
was the third down and held his breath as the lines formed again and
Loring’s back bent and his head turned as he shouted his signals. Then
the backs took up the punt formation, the ball arched slowly back
into Capes’ outstretched hands, the field sped to the right. It was a
forward pass, but--ah, there was Williams getting through at the left!
He was stopped! No, he was by! Good old Williams! Now Capes had turned
and was running to the left, the ball at arms length for throwing. And
there went the pass, too high, maybe, but straight as an arrow toward
the waiting left end. If Williams would only get it! He would! He had
it! No, Broadwood’s right half had thrust him aside at the last instant
and a green-stockinged youth was snuggling the ball to earth! Dan
groaned. A roar of delight and relief arose from the farther stand and
green flags waved in the sunlight.

Down the field sped the ball from the powerful toe of Broadwood’s
punter and for awhile the play was hidden from Dan by the stand.
He climbed to the back of the chair again, but still he could see
nothing. There was five minutes of play left. At the lower end of the
gridiron the crowds were pushing onto the field. That meant that the
ball was near the side-line well up at the other end. But still the
players were hidden. Then, suddenly, like a dart from a cross-bow, a
green-shirted form swept into sight, the ball clutched in the crook
of his arm. It was all over in the instant. Broadwood had scored! The
farther stand was crazy with delight and the cheers rolled up against
the closed window in a cloud of sound. Dan groaned. That was his
contribution to the noise. Broadwood kicked the goal. The score-board
was no longer barren of figures, for a big 6 stood after the word
“Opponents.” There was little more done before the whistle blew, and
the stands partly emptied as the spectators stretched their cramped
limbs.

Dan got down from his chair and stretched his own, finding comfort in
the thought that there still remained another thirty-five minutes of
play. Lots of scoring could be done in that time. Many a game had been
won in a handful of seconds! Yardley had almost scored once; the next
time she would do it! He wondered how that Broadwood man had got away.
Let’s see, it had been--by Jove, yes, it had been around left end! Dan
was but human, and for an instant he derived a spice of satisfaction
from the thought that perhaps the fellows and Payson were wishing that
they had him at the left of the line. But that was only momentary. He
was sorry for Williams. Williams was a good sort, and it was no fault
of his that he had Dan’s place.

The ten minutes of intermission went slowly to the solitary watcher up
there on the running track, but at last the teams trotted out again
and at last the battle was renewed. It was Yardley’s kick-off and once
more the play passed from sight behind the nearest grand-stand. Minutes
went by. Now and then the ball arched into sight against the sky, but
of the players nothing was to be seen by Dan save, occasionally, Loring
as he trotted back for a punt. Ten minutes had already passed. Time had
been called for some reason. Dan knew that by the way the spectators
along the line turned their attention from the field. Dan’s attention
wandered too, wandered to a figure hurrying up the path. It was Ridge
of the Second. At the moment Dan recognized him, Ridge, as though
conscious of the other’s regard, raised his eyes to the window. Dan
heard a shout, saw Ridge wave a hand and break into a run. The next
moment the door banged downstairs and Ridge was shouting up to him.

“Vinton! Dan Vinton! Come on, you fool! Get your things on! Payson
wants you! You’re to go in! We’ve been looking for you for hours!
Hurry, man, hurry! Williams is all in, and--”

“Do you mean I’m to play?” shrieked Dan, leaning over the railing and
regarding the breathless Ridge with astounded countenance.

“Of course! Will you get a move on?”

“But I can’t play! I’m on probation! I’m--”

“I don’t know anything about that,” yelled Ridge in a panic of
impatience. “Payson says you’re to play, and play you shall if I have
to carry you down there myself! Vinton, for the love of Mike, get your
togs on! I’ll help you! Don’t stand there with your mouth open like a
blamed idiot! Can’t you move? Don’t you understand that--”

But Dan was moving now.



CHAPTER XXVII

VINTON’S VICTORY


Yardley had fought her way down to Broadwood’s twenty-four yards and
Loring was despairingly hurling the backs at the slowly yielding green
line. First down again on the twenty-yard-line! A plunge through left
guard for a scant yard; a run outside of tackle for three; third down
and six yards to go, the goal-posts standing there mockingly almost
above them. Loring wouldn’t risk a forward pass again. A try for a
field goal was the only thing, and yet even if it succeeded it would
still leave them two points behind. If only they might get a touchdown.
He hesitated, the signal on his lips, hesitated, caught Colton’s
dejected nod, and decided. Kapenhysen walked back, Loring following
and dropping to his knees. Carefully the latter smoothed and patted
the turf. The two lines, watching each other like boxers in the ring,
shifted and moved, ready to close the instant the ball was passed. On
the side-lines the silence grew and deepened. Then back came the ball
into Loring’s waiting hands, his fingers clutched themselves about it,
turned it and put it to earth. The lines swayed. Green-clad figures
leaped through, arms up-stretched in the flight of the pigskin which,
arching in slow flight, propelled by Kapenhysen’s mighty toe, was
making surely for the cross-bar. A sudden thunder of sound, wild and
discordant, filled the air. Blue banners waved triumphantly. On the
score board the figure 4 topped the enemy’s 6. Back to the middle of
the field trotted the teams.

Around the corner of the home stand came two figures. One was in
everyday clothes, the other in the blue and khaki of Yardley.

“Ready, Broadwood?” The referee’s whistle was at his lips.

“All ready, sir!”

“Ready, Yardley?”

“All--No, sir! Just a minute. There’s a man coming on!”

“It’s all right, Vinton,” Payson was whispering calmly. “I can’t
explain now. Go in there for Williams and do your best. Tell Loring not
to forget ‘seventeen’ when he gets a chance. And when it comes, Vinton,
make it good! You can do it! Play close on defense, and--well, that’s
all. Go ahead!”

Vinton leaped forward like a young colt and raced onto the field. His
heart was in his mouth, but he was fearsomely happy! The stand saw,
wondered and shrieked approval. The leaders called for a “short cheer
for Vinton, fellows, and make it good!” It was good, but Dan didn’t
hear it. The ball was in air, Broadwood was charging down beneath it
and he was blocking off a Broadwood tackle. Loring was playing like a
dozen men that day, and now, with the ball clasped fast, he was dodging
and running back up the field. Tackler after tackler was fooled, foe
after foe was left behind. Dan was running too, trying to reach his
team-mate to ward off the enemy. But before he could catch up with him
Loring was down, rolling over and over, half a dozen green-clad players
tumbling about him.

There was a quick line-up on the Blue’s forty yards and the game went
on. But Yardley had met a foeman worthy of her steel to-day and as the
ball went nearer and nearer to the north goal the gains grew shorter
and shorter. On a second down a “bunch” pass was tried and although
Connor secured it a penalty for off-side set the offense back again.
Then a third down failed of the required distance by a bare twelve
inches and the pigskin went to the enemy and was booted far down the
field.

Yardley had it all to do over again. But now she was plainly the
aggressor; Broadwood, doubtful of her ability to score again, had
settled down to a policy of defense. But a scant ten minutes of playing
time remained, and if she could keep her opponent from reaching her
thirty-yard-line she need have no fear as to the final result. Yardley
had not fully found herself until the first half was half over, and
since then she had been playing a fast, hard game, and up until the
present time had been improving rather than falling off. Broadwood’s
single score, while by no means a fluke, had resulted from a trick
which would probably not work again, and Yardley had demonstrated to
her opponent’s satisfaction that consistent gains through the blue line
were impossible. So Broadwood “played it safe,” longing for the sound
of the final whistle.

Back on her thirty yards Yardley was buckling down to her task, a
heart-breaking task at best. Loring feared to punt now, lest Broadwood
should change her tactics and keep the ball. But after the Blue had
reconquered twenty yards by desperate attacks at the line, Loring saw
that at last the enemy was getting slow and logy. If the few untried
tricks which remained in Yardley’s repertoire were to be used at all,
now was the time. Constant hammering at the line, with occasional
excursions outside of tackles on the part of the enemy had lulled
Broadwood into unsuspiciousness. A quarter-back kick which was regained
by Connor for an advance of twelve yards, opened her eyes. Connor was
hurt in the play and Dyer took his place.

Broadwood became wary again, but her line-men were slow; only her backs
had real life in them any longer. Loring tried Dyer around his own end,
passing the ball to him on the run, and the right half-back tore off
nine yards before he was captured. Yardley was past the middle of the
field now, once more in the Green’s territory. A rather complicated
cross-buck play ended in a loss and Loring went back at the line,
sending Kapenhysen through a ragged hole made by Colton and Hill for a
good six yard gain. But after that the Broadwood line stiffened again
and on the forty yards Loring tried a quarter-back run, which gained
four yards, following it with a run by Capes from punting formation,
the fleet-footed left half covering thirty yards across the field to
gain a scant eight. But every play was a gain of some sort, and the
ball was still Yardley’s.

Now she was past the opponent’s thirty yards and the cheers from the
Blue’s supporters were imperative and continuous. The time-keeper
had passed the five-minute word. It was now or never, for once let
Broadwood gain possession of the ball and she would punt far down the
field from where Yardley could never retrace her steps in the time
remaining.

It was first down on Broadwood’s twenty-seven yards. Loring and Colton
held a consultation. Colton was for risking all in a try at goal from
placement, but Kapenhysen, when called on for an opinion, begged them
not to try it.

“I’ll do my best, old man,” he panted, “but I’m pretty near all in.
Let’s hammer it over. Anyhow, don’t kick until you have to.”

So back to the hammer-and-tongs plays they went, but now, in the
shadow of her goal, Broadwood awoke from her lethargy and played
grand football. Berwick went in at center for Hill, Minturn
replaced Dickenson, Smith went in for Hadlock. But, in spite of the
fresh material, or perhaps because Broadwood, too, was sending in
substitutes, Yardley won her next first down by the barest three
inches. Dan remembered for a long time his suspense while the officials
bent over the chain measuring the distance, and the great shout of
relief that went up as the referee waved the linesman on.

Loring doubted now whether the next three downs would bring the
required ten yards if he continued the attack on the line. He would
have liked to try that double forward pass, but hesitated because, as
he knew, to be at its best it should follow a “bunch” pass to the other
side of the line, and Yardley’s attempts at this play had not been
brilliantly successful. Still pondering and studying as he leaned over
behind Berwick and looked around at the backs, the solution came to
him. He gathered the team about him, issued his instructions, gave the
signals and the backs took up the kicking formation.

“Forward pass!” cried the Broadwood quarter. “Look out for forward
pass, fellows!”

Back went the ball, off raced the back-field to form in a bunch at
the right. But a groan arose from the Yardley side of the field;
Kapenhysen had fumbled the ball! And although he recovered it long
before Broadwood broke through, and although having recovered it, he
tucked it against his body and went straight into the melee before
he was downed, yet a first down had been wasted and the ball was no
nearer the goal-line than before. They never knew on the side-lines
that Kapenhysen’s little fumble had been intentional, nor did the enemy
guess it now. Encouraged, she set up her line again, wearied, but
grimly determined.

Again came the signals:

“_43--53--177--6!_” And again: “_43--53--177--6!_”

Off raced Dyer, Loring and Kapenhysen to the right, Dickenson and
Mitchell plunging through ahead of them.

“Forward pass!” cried Broadwood again, and her whole team followed
to where, ten yards back of the line, Yardley was bunched as though
to receive the pass. No one but the Broadwood quarter saw Dan steal
through outside of tackle unmolested, and he saw it too late.
Kapenhysen had stopped in his flight to the right and had passed the
ball, straight and swift to Capes, fifteen yards away across the field.
Capes took a step or two, stopped and sped the ball forward in a low
curve to Dan’s waiting hands. Back raced the Broadwood players, but
too late. Dan was almost on the five-yard-line when the ball settled
into his arms. With a quick turn he plunged to the right, eluded the
oncoming Broadwood half, tore free from the quarter and went staggering
around the goal-post for a touchdown and victory.

       *       *       *       *       *

The banquet was well along towards its close. The last plate had been
pushed away, Loring, just elected captain for next year by acclamation,
had made his little speech and now Payson had been called on. The
coach laid down his napkin and arose, looking smilingly down the long
table which, aglow with shaded candles, made an oasis of light in the
darkened commons. Then he began to speak.

Dan, seated between Hill and Folwell, at the far end of the board,
listened for a few moments. Then his thoughts wandered to the events
of the day, to the note that Gerald had passed him outside the
gymnasium door and which still lay unopened and until now forgotten
in his pocket. He wondered what it could be. He drew it forth and
broke the seal out of sight. The writing looked like Tubby’s atrocious
fist, but--Why it was from Tubby! And what was this? Dan began at the
beginning and read the note from end to end.

    “Dear Dan: I’m off for home to-day. Don’t expect me back. You
    went and spoiled everything, you fool. It was I that did the
    decorations on Dudley. I wanted to get even with that ass
    Loring, and I would have if you hadn’t butted in and done the
    early Christian Martyr act. I’ve sent a note to Payson, so
    I guess he will let you play this afternoon. Hope you win.
    And I’ve left a note at the Office respectfully tendering my
    resignation. So they can’t fire me, you see. There was another
    fellow in with me on the painting act, but I won’t say who he
    is. Anyhow, it was my idea and I did the whole thing; he just
    watched. And I don’t want him to get into trouble over it,
    so you’d better keep mum about him. I guess I’ll try to make
    Broadwood after Christmas, if dad will let me go. Anyhow, I
    hope I’ll see you again some time before long. I’m glad to get
    out of this hole, you bet!

    “Your friend,

    “HARRY L. JONES.

    “P. S. I’m leaving my silver shoe-horn in the top bureau
    drawer. Maybe you’ll like to keep it. You can if you want. I
    wish you’d get my trunk down and pack my things for me. I’ll
    send for them in a few days. Good luck.          TUBBY.”

Tubby gone! Dan stared in amazement at the letter. And Tubby had done
the painting. Well, he had suspected that. Poor old Tubby! He was
sorry, real sorry, and he wished now that--

“Wake up, Vinton!”

Dan started. Folwell was digging him with his elbow and grinning at him.

“Huh?” he asked blankly. But Folwell whispered to him to “shut up
and listen to Payson, you chump!” And Dan listened. The next moment
his eyes were on the table and he felt the blood creeping up his
neck, around his ears and into his cheeks. Once he glanced up and met
Loring’s face laughing back at him across the board. But there was more
than laughter in Loring’s look and Dan’s eyes dropped swiftly again.

“And so,” Payson was saying, “although this victory of to-day belongs
to us and to the whole school, yet it is essentially a one-man victory.
And that one is here amongst us. It is his victory, not merely because,
a new fellow this Fall, he worked hard and cut his way into the team;
not merely because at the last moment, on a play which he himself
invented, he made the winning score for us; but because, when two of
our men, one of whom we simply couldn’t have done without, were charged
with a misdemeanor and deprived of their right to play on the team,
this fellow came forward and, innocent though he was, shouldered the
fault and the punishment that those men might play and that Yardley
might win. Yes, fellows, to-day’s victory was your victory, my victory,
the school’s victory, but more than all it was Vinton’s victory!”


THE END


       *       *       *       *       *


 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.

 --Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.





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