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Title: Double Play - A Story of School and Baseball
Author: Barbour, Ralph Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              DOUBLE PLAY



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: “The next moment saw a lad ... leap high into the air in
the path of the speeding ball.”]



                              DOUBLE PLAY

                    A STORY OF SCHOOL AND BASEBALL

                                 _By_
                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

              AUTHOR OF “THE SPIRIT OF THE SCHOOL,” “THE
                   HALF-BACK,” “WEATHERBY’S INNING,”
                      “FORWARD PASS,” ETC., ETC.


                            [Illustration]


                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                                 1909



                          Copyright, 1909, by
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY


_Published September, 1909_



                                  TO
                                 D. M.
                                 FROM
                               O. L. R.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER.                          PAGE.
      I. BACK TO SCHOOL                1
     II. IN 7 DUDLEY                  10
    III. DAN BEGINS RIGHT             20
     IV. GERALD IN GRIEF              29
      V. ALF TAKES A PUPIL            45
     VI. A VISIT TO NEW YORK          55
    VII. THE SNOW BATTLE              65
   VIII. GERALD REVOLTS               78
     IX. GERALD LEAVES SCHOOL         88
      X. A VISIT FROM KILTS          103
     XI. HOCKEY AT BROADWOOD         120
    XII. YARDLEY GETS REVENGE        136
   XIII. WORK IN THE CAGE            145
    XIV. POLITICS AND CHESS          159
     XV. THE LISTS ARE POSTED        176
    XVI. GERALD MAKES A BARGAIN      185
   XVII. THE CLASS GAMES             201
  XVIII. FUN AT THE CIRCUS           217
    XIX. WHAT PELL SCHOOL DID        230
     XX. THE SLUMP                   241
    XXI. DROWNED!                    250
   XXII. THE RESCUE                  260
  XXIII. THE LAST PRACTICE           271
   XXIV. ON YARDLEY HILL             285
    XXV. THREE TO THREE              291
   XXVI. DOUBLE PLAY                 304



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                            FACING
                                                             PAGE

 “The next moment saw a lad ... leap high into the
    air in the path of the speeding ball”            _Frontispiece_

 “It was a fine ‘rough house’ while it lasted”                  40

 “‘He’s going back with me on the five o’clock train’”          98

 “‘Have you fellows heard the news?’ he cried”                 258



DOUBLE PLAY



CHAPTER I

BACK TO SCHOOL


Dan Vinton returned to Yardley after the Christmas vacation on an
afternoon of one of those bright, warm days which sometimes happen
along in the middle of Winter. As the train rumbled over the bridge,
Dan caught a fleeting glimpse of Long Island Sound sparkling in the
sunlight and pricked out here and there with a white sail. On his way
up the winding road to the school--he had the station carriage to
himself save for the unobtrusive presence of a homesick Preparatory
Class boy--he saw clean russet meadows aglow in the mellow light,
and, farther inland and across the little river, Meeker’s Marsh a
broad expanse of reeds and grass and rushes shading from green-gold to
coppery red. So far, although it was the third of January, there had
been no snow storm worthy of the name in the vicinity of Wissining,
and, save that the trees were bare of leaves, one might have thought
himself in Autumn. It was as though a careless, laughing October day
had lost its place in the procession and now, after a two months’
truancy, had squirmed and crowded itself back into line again. Dan cast
a glance toward the athletic field, half expecting to see the brown
footballs hurtling up against the sky.

The carriage skirted The Prospect and began the steep ascent which ends
with the plateau on which the school buildings stand. A freight train
rumbled by through the cut a few rods below and Dan watched the white
steam as it wreathed upward until a movement by the boy in the farther
corner of the carriage drew his attention. The lad was digging a
gloved knuckle into his eye, his head averted in an effort to hide the
threatening tears. Dan smiled. But the next moment, as he recalled how
near to tears he had himself been on more than one occasion only some
four months previous, the smile disappeared and he leaned forward.

“Well, kid, glad to get back?” he asked kindly.

The lad--he looked to be no more than twelve years of age--turned and
glanced at the questioner shyly, bravely trying to summon a smile as he
shook his head.

“Oh, well, you will be in a day or two,” responded Dan heartily.
“What’s your name?”

“Merrow, sir.”

“Well, buck up, Merrow; and never mind the ‘sir.’ I dare say you chaps
are pretty comfortable in Merle, aren’t you?”

“Yes, s--, yes, Mr. Vinton.”

“Oh, so you know me, do you?” laughed Dan. The boy nodded and smiled
bashfully.

“I guess every fellow knows you,” he murmured.

“Well, don’t call me Mister, please. Where do you live when you’re at
home?”

“Germantown, Pennsylvania, s--, I mean--”

“Well, that isn’t very far away, is it?” asked Dan cheerfully.

“N--no, not so very,” replied the other doubtfully.

“I should say not. I dare say you left home only three or four hours
ago, eh?”

“Twelve o’clock.”

“Well, I started yesterday afternoon,” said Dan. “I had to come all the
way from Ohio. That beats you, doesn’t it?”

The younger boy nodded. Then:

“We have a fellow in our house who comes from California,” he announced
proudly.

“And that beats me,” laughed Dan. “Well, here we are.” He took up his
bag and clambered out. “Come over and see me this evening, Merrow, if
you get too lonesome; 28 Clarke’s my room. Cheer up.”

He left his bag on the steps of Oxford while he sought the office to
register.

“Back early,” said Mr. Forisher, the secretary.

“Yes, sir,” answered Dan. “We’ve got some dandy snow out our way and I
thought I’d better start early in case the trains got tied up. Not many
fellows back yet, are there?”

“Only a few. The next train will bring most of them. Nice weather we’re
having.”

Dan agreed that it was and turned toward the door. But:

“By the way, Vinton,” said the secretary, “you have a new roommate with
you this term, I believe?”

“Yes, sir, Gerald Pennimore.”

“Exactly. Well--er--we want to make young Pennimore’s stay with
us as pleasant as possible, Vinton, and so--anything you can do
to--er--smooth the way for him will be--er--appreciated at the Office.”

“Yes, sir. I’m going to try and look out for him, sir.”

“That’s right. I suppose he will be along pretty soon.”

“He and his father are coming on the six o’clock, sir. I had a letter
from him a couple of days ago.”

“Ah, that reminds me, Vinton! Mr. Collins left word that you were to
join Mr. Pennimore and his son at the Doctor’s table this evening. He
thought that would make it pleasant for the boy.”

Dan smiled as he closed the Office door behind him.

“It pays to be a millionaire,” he thought. “I rather wish, though, for
Gerald’s sake, that his father wasn’t coming along. The sooner the
fellows forget that Gerald’s John T’s son the better it’s going to be
for Gerald.”

He rescued his bag and made his way to Clarke Hall where he climbed two
flights of well-worn stairs and let himself into a corner room on the
front of the building. There he sat down his bag, threw off his hat
and coat and, crossing to the windows, sent them screeching upward.
The sun had passed from the front of the building but a thin shaft of
amber light entered the side window and fell upon the bare top of the
chiffonier nearby. Dan thrust his hands into his pockets and looked
about him. Then he shook his head.

“It’s going to be funny here at first without Tubby,” he muttered.
“Tubby wasn’t what you’d call an ideal roommate, but I was sort of
getting used to him. I suppose a fellow misses even a boil if he has it
long enough!”

Twenty-eight Clarke was a large room, well lighted and airy. It was
comfortably if plainly furnished. Each side of the room held its bed,
chiffonier, washstand and chair. An ingrain carpet covered most of
the floor and the shallow bay window was fitted with a window-seat
piled with cushions. In the center of the room stood a broad-topped
study table and a comfortable arm-chair flanked it at either side.
On the clean gray-tinted walls hung a few good pictures. There was a
good-sized closet on each side of the door. Being in a corner room
there was an end window as well as the bay in front.

Dan hung his gray overcoat and derby hat in the closet, swung his bag
to the table and began to unpack it. And while he is engaged let us
have a good look at him.

Dan Vinton was fifteen years of age, rather tall, lithe, and long of
limb. He had a quickness and certainty of movement--exhibited even in
the way in which he stowed his things away--that impressed the observer
at once. Alertness was a prominent characteristic of Dan’s; he never
shilly-shallied, nor, on the other hand, was he especially impulsive.
He had the faculty of making up his mind quickly, and, his decision
once reached, he acted promptly and with little loss of effort. Dan’s
course between two points was always a straight line. All this may have
had something to do with the fact that he played an extremely good game
of football at the end of the line.

I don’t want to give the impression that Dan was one of the thin and
nervous sort; on the contrary he was well-built, if a trifle large
for his fifteen years, while his limbs were not all bone even if they
were long. And nerves were things that never bothered him. He was
good-looking, with steady brown eyes, a short, straight nose, brown
hair, and a pleasant mouth which hinted of good temper. Dan had entered
Yardley Hall School the preceding Fall and was in the Third Class.
He had won a place for himself on the football eleven and had scored
the winning touchdown in the final contest against Yardley’s rival,
Broadwood Academy. One cannot ordinarily do a thing like that without
becoming pretty well known in a school of some two hundred and seventy
students or without gaining some degree of popularity, and Dan was no
exception. He had received enough praise and adulation to have turned
a less well-balanced head. To Dan the School’s homage had brought
pleasure but not pride. He had many acquaintances but only a handful
of friends. But the friends were worth having and the friendship was
real.

Having emptied the bag he tossed it onto the closet shelf and wandered
to the window, glancing at his watch on the way.

“Ten minutes to five,” he murmured. “That train ought to be in.” At
that moment there was a shriek from a locomotive whistle and Dan
threw open one of the front windows and craned his head and shoulders
out. It was just possible to see the corner of the station, nearly a
half-mile away, and there was the big engine puffing black smoke clouds
from its diminutive stack. A moment later it had taken up its journey
again and Dan watched it and the ten cars slip across the open track
and plunge into the long cut through the school grounds below The
Prospect. It would be ten minutes at least before the carriages would
arrive, and Dan settled himself in his arm-chair and took up a book.
But the arrival of his trunk from the station interrupted him a moment
later, and after the porter had gone he decided to do his unpacking
now and get it over with. The trunk was only a small one and didn’t
keep him busy very long, but before he had finished the carriages had
begun to unload their noisy passengers at the front of Oxford Hall and
Dan decided to finish his task before seeking his friends. So it was
nearly a quarter of an hour later that he set his cap onto the back of
his head and ran down the stairs. The station carriages were making
their second trips and the front of Oxford was sprinkled with fellows.
Dan returned salutations here and there without stopping as he cut
around the corner of Clarke and made his way to Dudley.



CHAPTER II

IN 7 DUDLEY


There was no need to knock at the door of Number 7, for the portal was
wide open and Loring and Dyer and a third person whom Dan didn’t know
were in plain sight. Dan stood for an instant in the doorway, but for
an instant only, for Alf Loring caught sight of him, gave a shout,
hurdled a suit-case and dragged him into the room.

“Hello, you old chump!” he cried. “When did you get here? We looked
all through the train for you. How are you? Isn’t it great to get back
again? I want you to know my brother Herb. Herb’s going to stay over
night with us. Herb, this is Dan Vinton.”

Dan shook hands with the elder brother and with Tom Dyer, Loring’s
roommate. Dyer only said “Hello, Dan,” in his slow, quiet way, but
his hand-clasp and the smile that accompanied it said a lot more. Alf
Loring talked on breathlessly as he threw bags out of the way and told
everyone to find a seat.

“Herb’s on his way to New Haven, Dan. He’s coming here in the Fall to
help turn out the dandiest team old Yardley’s ever had, aren’t you,
Herb?”

“Maybe,” answered his brother smilingly. “If you fellows want me.”

“Of course we want you!” cried Alf. “What have I been telling you all
along?”

“Well, I don’t know how your coach would like it, Kid. He may not want
anyone butting in.”

“Payson? Don’t you believe it! Payson’s a dandy chap, Herb; he’ll be
pleased to death to have someone take a hand. Won’t he, Dan?”

“I should think he ought to be,” Dan replied. “Especially a man like
Mr. Loring.”

The Yale man acknowledged the compliment with a nod and a laugh. “I
don’t know much about coaching, though,” he said. “I’ve never tried it.”

“Oh, well, you know how to play football,” said Alf, “and that’s more
than some coaches do. You’ll be all right. With me to help you,” he
added as an afterthought. At which they all laughed, even Dyer. Herbert
Loring was a big, broad-chested, handsome fellow who looked a little
bit spoiled. He was in his junior year at Yale and was one of the star
half-backs. It was evident that Alf thought this big brother a very
fine and important person, and equally evident that big brother wasn’t
denying it. But in spite of the fact that he seemed a trifle too well
pleased with himself, Dan quite liked him.

For a time the talk dwelt on football, football past and future,
football at Yale, and football at Yardley. Tom Dyer’s part in the
discussion was slight, he preferring to get his bag unpacked and his
things put away. But it was Tom who finally switched the conversation
away from football.

“That protegé of yours shown up yet, Dan?” he asked, pausing on his way
to the closet with a pair of shoes in each hand.

“Not yet. He and his father are coming on the six o’clock train, I
believe.”

“By Jove!” exclaimed Alf. “I’d forgotten all about Little Lord
Fauntleroy. Poor old Dan!”

“Who’s Little Lord Fauntleroy?” asked Herbert Loring.

“Dan’s new roommate and protegé. I told you about him, don’t you
remember?” Big Brother shook his head and taking one knee into his
clasped hands leaned back comfortably against the cushions of the
window-seat.

“No, you didn’t, Kid. Who is he? Let’s hear about him.”

“It’s all just like a story in a book,” said Alf, with a grin at Dan.
“It happened last Fall. You know who John T. Pennimore is, don’t you?”

“The man they call the Steamship King? He lives around here, doesn’t
he?”

“Yes, you can see his place from out front. Sound View he calls it;
and it’s a dandy; there’s eight acres of it, with a regular palace of
a house, stables, kennels, gardener’s lodge, hot-houses, and all that
sort of thing. They say he’s worth a hundred millions.”

“They say a whole lot of rot,” said his brother witheringly. “He
probably has ten or fifteen millions.”

“Is that all?” murmured Tom. “Wonder how he lives!”

“Well, anyhow, he’s rich, all right. And he’s done two or three things
for the school, they say; given money, I suppose; shouldn’t wonder if
he owned some stock in it. Does he, do you think, Dan?”

“I never heard him say anything about it,” Dan replied. Herbert Loring
looked across at him with surprise and interest.

“Do you know him?” he asked.

“Know him?” scoffed Alf. “Why, they’re as thick as thieves, aren’t you,
Dan? I wouldn’t be surprised if they called each other by their first
names.”

“Well, where’s the story?” asked his brother impatiently.

“Coming right along. John T. has one son, a kid of about--how old,
Dan? Fourteen? Yes. And of course the old gentleman thinks a whole lot
of him. Well, one day last Fall our hero--” with a bow to Dan--“was
walking through the woods to the beach by the path that leads along
John T’s fence when he heard a dickens of a yowling; sounded like a dog
having its tail cut off. So our hero investigates.”

“Cut out the ‘hero’ business,” begged Dan.

“Pardon me! Mr. Vinton investigates and finds that on the other side of
the fence is a play-house and that the dog is shut up in the play-house
and that the play-house is on fire. I say, Dan, it’s always been a
mystery to me how that thing got on fire.”

“It was funny,” responded Dan carelessly.

“Well, anyhow,” continued Alf, “Dan climbs the fence and finds this
young Pennimore kid, breaking into the house with an axe to rescue the
dog. He tries to make him behave but the kid insists on rescuing Fido.
So in he goes. By that time the house is full of flames and smoke and
such things. Dan waits a minute and the kid doesn’t come out again.
Then Dan ties a handkerchief around his mouth, girds up his loins and
dashes into the seething cauldron--”

“That’s water,” interrupted Tom disgustedly. “You mean ‘the sea of
flames.’”

“All right, Tom; dashes into the sea of flames and pulls out the kid
and the dog, too, and gets nicely baked in the process.”

“Nonsense!” said Dan. “I only got a couple of little burns on my leg
and arm.”

“Who’s telling this story?” demanded Alf. “You dry up! Well, old John
T. comes along with some of his servants and finds them and takes them
up to the house and has them put to bed and gets the doctor for them.
Whether he offered Dan half his kingdom I don’t know; Dan’s awfully
tight with his details; but I’ll bet he could have had anything he’d
wanted, say half a dozen steamships. John T. keeps him at his house
until noon next day, sends word to Toby, that’s our Principal here,
you know, that Dan’s made a jolly hero of himself and that he isn’t to
be licked for staying away from school. Of course the kid’s grateful,
too, and between them they come pretty near spoiling little Daniel;
automobile rides, trips on John T’s big ocean yacht, dinners and
luncheons and all the rest of it! Oh, Dan’s the whole works at Sound
View!”

“Bully for you!” laughed Herbert Loring with a glance of admiration at
Dan.

“But the best part of the story is to come,” said Alf. “Old Toby has
always been eager to get John T. to send his son to school here; he’s
been after the boy on the quiet for a couple of years; but John T. was
afraid something might happen to little Gerald if he got up here with
all us great rough rowdies--”

“Come now, Alf, that’s a whopper,” interrupted Dan warmly. “You can’t
blame Mr. Pennimore, I think, for being soft over the boy. His wife’s
dead and Gerald’s all he’s got to be fond of.”

“That and fifteen millions,” muttered Tom gravely.

“Well, anyhow, he wouldn’t think of it. Had a private tutor for Gerald
and watched him every minute. Broadwood Academy wanted to get the kid,
too, Herb. I guess that’s one reason Toby wanted him here; we always
like to get ahead of Broadwood, you know. Well, to make a long story
short, as they say, Dan has the cheek to tell John T. that if he wants
to make a man out of his boy the only thing to do is to send him to
Yardley. And John T. thinks it over awhile and finally agrees to do it
if Dan will take Gerald to room with him and look after him; warm his
milk for him and cover him up at night, and all that sort of thing, you
know. And now the question before the meeting is; Who is the joke on?”

“I should say it was on Vinton,” laughed his brother. “I’m afraid
you’re in for a hard time of it.”

“You ought to know better than to believe all Alf tells you,” replied
Dan untroubledly. “Mr. Pennimore didn’t ask me to let Gerald room with
me. That was my idea. My roommate had left school and I thought I might
as well take Gerald in. He’s not a milksop at all, in spite of what
Alf says. He’s been spoiled a bit, but a month or so here will knock
all that out of him. Mr. Pennimore is as fine a man as I ever met and
I’m mighty glad to do anything for him I can. I don’t propose to warm
Gerald’s milk for him, as Alf puts it, but I intend to be decent to him
and see that he has a fair chance. Lots of the fellows will be down on
him at the start just because he is John T. Pennimore’s son. That isn’t
fair. He can’t help it if his father is a millionaire. Lots of fellows
here have fathers who have plenty of money, only they’ve never been
talked about in the papers.”

“There’s something in that, Dan,” Alf allowed. “Here’s Tom here. Tom’s
father owns about everything in his part of New Jersey, so they say,
but Tom isn’t half bad when you get to know him.”

Tom only smiled.

“Glad you think that way,” said Dan earnestly, “for I want you two
fellows to be nice to Gerald and help me all you can.”

“You do, eh?” asked Alf. “Well, we’ll do it for your sake, Dan. Bring
the kid around some time and we’ll look him over. What class is he
going into?”

“Fourth. He could have made the Third easily if it hadn’t been for
math.”

“Why doesn’t he live at home?” asked Herbert Loring.

“The winter home is in New York,” Dan explained. “Sound View is just a
summer place. Besides, Mr. Pennimore is going abroad pretty soon for
several months, I believe. That’s one reason he was willing to let
Gerald come here; he said he guessed he’d be safer here than all alone
in New York with just the servants.”

“Oh, I dare say the kid isn’t as bad as Alf makes out,” said the elder
Loring. “I don’t envy you your job, though, Vinton. If you’ll take my
advice, and I know what I’m talking about, you’ll let him hoe his own
row. I dare say a few hard knocks are only what he needs.”

“And I’ll bet he will get them,” observed Tom thoughtfully.

“Whatever happens,” counselled Alf, “make him understand that he’s got
to take things as they come and that the sooner he forgets that his dad
has any money the better it’ll be for him.”

“I’m going to,” answered Dan. “Or, at least, I’m going to try. He isn’t
a bad sort at all, and I don’t want him to make a mess of things here,
especially after persuading his father to let him come.”

“Well, don’t you worry,” said Alf. “We’ll help you out all we can. I
guess he will get on all right. He must have some sense or he wouldn’t
be John T’s son!”

“Must be supper time,” said Tom. “Something tells me so, and it isn’t
my watch either.”

“That’s right, it’s five minutes after six. Come on, fellows. I’ll find
a place for you at our table, Herb. Are you hungry?”

“Sort of. Well, glad to have met you, Vinton. Come and see me if you
get up to New Haven. Alf will tell you where I live.”

“Oh, you’re not through with Dan yet,” laughed Alf. “He sits at our
table.”

“But not to-night,” replied Dan, as they went out. “Toby’s invited me
to his table. Mr. Pennimore and Gerald will be there, you know.”

“Well, what do you think of that?” cried Alf.



CHAPTER III

DAN BEGINS RIGHT


“Well, son,” said Mr. Pennimore, “I guess everything’s all right.
You’ve got a nice, clean, pleasant room here and Dan to keep you from
getting homesick.”

“They don’t put very much in the rooms, do they?” asked Gerald
Pennimore a trifle dubiously.

Supper was over and Mr. Pennimore and the two boys, after a visit to
the Office, had come up to 28 Clarke. Mr. Pennimore was returning to
New York on the nine-thirty-eight train, in spite of the fact that
Doctor Hewitt, the Principal, had pressed him to spend the night at
Yardley.

“Well, I don’t see but what you have everything that you need,” replied
Gerald’s father, adding with a smile, “You must remember, son, that
you’re here to study and work.”

Mr. John T. Pennimore was about fifty-two or -three years of age,
rather under than above average height, a very well-bred looking
gentleman with a kind if somewhat thoughtful face. His eyes were very
black, very bright and keen. His hair was just a little grizzled at
the temples, and he wore a dark beard, trimmed short, and a mustache.
His manners were charming and his voice pleasant. Dan had never seen
Mr. Pennimore when he was not immaculately dressed. He always looked,
to use a familiar expression, as though he had just stepped out of a
band-box.

The resemblance between father and son was not yet very striking. What
there was depended more on tricks of voice, and little mannerisms than
on looks, although when Gerald laughed the resemblance was slightly
apparent. Gerald promised to grow into a larger man than his father,
although just at present he appeared far from robust. He was fourteen
years old, but scarcely looked it. He was slightly built, and his
very blue eyes, pink and white skin, and corn-colored hair gave him
a somewhat girlish appearance which of late had been troubling him a
good deal. For Gerald admired strength and virility, and his greatest
ambition was to make a name for himself on the athletic field, an
ambition that, judging from present indications, seemed scarcely likely
to be attained.

Gerald’s mother had died so soon after his birth that he couldn’t
recall her at all. Since then he had been in charge of nurses and
tutors, had been given well-nigh everything he wanted and had been as
carefully guarded as the heir-apparent of a throne. Mr. Pennimore had
tried hard not to spoil him, but Gerald was an only child and it would
have been strange indeed if Mr. Pennimore had been quite successful in
his effort. Dan and Gerald had known each other only three months but
were already quite close friends. Gerald’s liking for the older boy
was closely akin to hero worship; and the day on which he had learned
that he was to go to Yardley Hall School and room with Dan was one of
the happiest of his life. On the other hand, Dan liked Gerald less for
what he was than for what he believed he was capable of being. The boy
had never had a fair chance, he thought, and it was no wonder that he
was a trifle selfish and self-centered. And as for his flat chest and
weak muscles, why, what could you expect of a boy who had never had any
real playmates and whose most violent exercise consisted of driving in
carriage or automobile or pasting stamps in a stamp book! Dan believed
that a couple of years at Yardley would work a change.

“Oh, I’ll have to study all right,” responded Gerald to his father’s
reminder. “It’s going to be hard, I guess. But I don’t care,” he added
with a shy smile at Dan. “I’d a lot rather be here than at home
studying with one of those silly old tutors.”

Mr. Pennimore smiled.

“If it weren’t for those tutors, Gerald, you wouldn’t be here now.”
Then he turned to Dan. “Now, Dan,” he said, “tell me what you do all
day. When I’m away I shall often be wondering what this boy of mine is
up to. Tell me something about your life here.”

“Well, sir, we get up about seven and go to Chapel at half-past,”
responded Dan. “We have prayers and Old Toby--I mean Doctor Hewitt--reads
a chapter in the Bible and Mr. Collins reads the announcements. Then we
have breakfast at eight. I’m going to try and get Gerald a place at our
table, sir, but I’m afraid there isn’t room.”

“Perhaps one of the fellows will change with me,” suggested Gerald
hopefully. But Dan smiled and shook his head.

“I don’t believe so,” he answered. “It doesn’t matter much which table
you’re at, though; you get mighty good feed everywhere. That’s one
thing Yardley’s good at, Mr. Pennimore, feeding the fellows. They give
us all we want, and it’s good, too. Recitations begin at nine and
continue until twelve. Dinner’s at one, and then, from two to four,
there’s more recitations. At four there’s gymnasium for the Prep and
Fourth Class fellows. After that there’s nothing to do except study
in the evening from eight to nine. Lots of fellows don’t do that; if
you haven’t many recitations during the day you can do most of your
studying then.”

“That sounds a whole lot, doesn’t it?” asked Gerald anxiously of his
father.

“Well, it doesn’t sound like an idle life,” laughed Mr. Pennimore. “But
I dare say it will go smoothly enough after you’ve once got into the
routine, son. Method lightens toil. But there’s plenty of play, I take
it, Dan?”

“Yes, sir, lots. We have a mighty good time. There are two societies,
Cambridge and Oxford. Most every fellow belongs to one or the other.
I’m going to get Gerald into Cambridge; that’s the one I belong to; but
I can’t get him in until May.”

“Are these secret societies?” asked Mr. Pennimore with a trace of
anxiety.

“No, sir, we haven’t any of those. Faculty won’t let us. Our societies
are debating clubs, or, at least, they’re supposed to be, and we do
have debates; there’s one every Saturday night. But they’re more social
than anything else. Both societies have nice rooms where the fellows
can get together and talk or play or read. Then, of course, a fellow
can have lots of fun out of doors. There’s golf and hockey now, and
after awhile there’ll be baseball and tennis and other things. And then
there’s basket-ball, too; a good many fellows go in for that.”

“I’m going to play baseball,” announced Gerald decisively.

“Well, we will see about that,” replied his father. “It’s a long way to
Spring yet. You keep up with your studies for a couple of months and we
will talk about baseball later.”

“You must see Mr. Bendix to-morrow,” said Dan, “and take your physical
examination. He will tell you what sports you can go in for.”

“Does he have the say?” asked Gerald anxiously. Dan nodded.

“You’d better believe he does! If he says you can’t play baseball or
football you can’t, and that’s all there is to it. But he’s square, all
right, is ‘Muscles,’ and you want to do just as he tells you. He’s a
wonder!”

Gerald considered this in silence a moment. Then:

“If a fellow can’t play baseball and things I don’t see any use of
coming here,” he murmured.

Mr. Pennimore laughed.

“So that’s your idea, is it, son? Well, let me tell you that you’re
here to fit yourself for college. You wanted to come here, Gerald, and
you’ve had your way. Now there must be no backing down, my boy. Life
isn’t all play, as you’ll find out when you get older, but you can make
it seem like play by taking an interest in work. You mustn’t think that
because I’ve got money enough for us both that you’re going to sit
down and twiddle your thumbs and watch the procession go by. No, sir!
You’re going to march with the rest, and I want to see you marching
at the head. Work’s one of the best things life has to offer, if we
only realize it, and the man who loves his work is the man who does it
best and gets the most out of life. Well, you’ll think me a tiresome
old codger if I lecture any longer. Just you put the same amount of
enthusiasm into work that you do into play, Gerald, and you won’t have
much trouble. Now I must get down to the station if I’m going to catch
that train.”

“Are you going abroad soon, sir?” asked Dan.

“In about two weeks. Gerald’s coming up to town to see me a day or two
before I sail, and I’d like to have you come along, Dan, if you want
to. I sail on Tuesday. You boys might come up Friday evening and stay
until Sunday. We’ll fix it up later with Doctor Hewitt.”

“Thank you, sir,” answered Dan. “I’d like to come very much if I won’t
be in the way. I’ve never been to New York except just to come into
the station and go out again.”

“Well, we will have to show him some of the sights, eh, son? Take him
to a theater or two.”

“That’ll be fine!” cried Gerald. “Will you go, Dan?”

“You bet I will, if I can get off!”

“I’ll write to the Doctor next week and see,” said Mr. Pennimore. “I
think I can persuade him to let you go. Now get your cap, son, and walk
a little way with me. Good-bye, Dan. I’ll see you in town before I
sail. Keep an eye on this worthless boy of mine and see that he writes
to me twice a week. If he doesn’t I’ll shut down on his allowance. I
guess that will bring him to terms,” laughed Mr. Pennimore.

Dan went with them to the head of the stairs, shook hands again with
Mr. Pennimore and returned to his room. Gerald’s big trunk, which had
arrived an hour before, stood in front of the door. Dan bent over and
unbuckled the strap. It wasn’t an easy task and Dan had to put all his
strength into it. When it was done and he had slipped down the catches
he stood off and ran his fingers through his hair in a way he had when
puzzled. Then he shook his head slowly, fastened the catches again and,
after a deal of hard work, restrapped the trunk, working the buckle
into the last possible hole.

“Might as well begin right,” he murmured as he dropped panting into his
chair and took up a book.



CHAPTER IV

GERALD IN GRIEF


Yardley Hall School[1] stands on a small plateau about a half-mile from
the shore, and commanding a broad view, of Long Island Sound, about
half way between Newport and New Haven. The Wissining River, from which
small stream the tiny village takes its name, curves around the back of
the school grounds, separating them from the wide expanse of Meeker’s
Marsh, flows beside the village, and empties into the Sound. Across
the Wissining lies Greenburg, a considerable manufacturing town, and
beyond Greenburg and some two miles from the water is located Yardley’s
time-honored rival, Broadwood Academy.

  [1] Readers who desire a more detailed description of Yardley
      Hall School are referred to Chapter V of _Forward Pass_, the
      preceding story in this series.

There are six buildings at Yardley, most of them quite modern; the
school is not old, as New England schools go, having been founded
by Doctor Tobias Hewitt in 1870. There is Oxford Hall, containing
the Office, the Principal’s living rooms, laboratories, recitation
rooms, library, assembly hall, and the rooms of the rival societies,
Oxford and Cambridge. Oxford Hall is one of the older buildings. The
other is Whitson, which elbows it on the East and which contains the
dining-room, or commons as it is called, on the first floor, and
dormitories above. Clarke is a dormitory entirely, as are Dudley and
Merle, the latter being reserved for the boys of the Preparatory Class.
The Kingdon Gymnasium completes the list of buildings if one excepts
the heating plant and the boat house.

From the back of the gymnasium the ground slopes down slowly to the
tennis courts, the athletic field and the river. Here, too, but
further upstream is the golf links, a nine hole course that is well
maintained and well patronized. In front of Oxford Hall is an expanse
of lawn known as The Prospect. From this a flight of steps leads to
the lower ground and joins a path which crosses the railroad cut by
a rustic bridge and leads to the woods beyond. Through these various
paths wind deviously to the beach and the Sound. Between the woods,
which are school property, and at the mouth of the river, lies the
Pennimore estate, eight acres of perfectly kept lawn and grove and
shrubbery, with a long stone pier running out into the water for the
accommodation of the “Steamship King’s” big yacht on which, in the
summer time, he makes his trips to and from New York.

From the upper floors of the Yardley buildings one may see for miles
up and down the Sound, and even, on clear days, catch a glimpse of
Montauk Point across the water. It would, I think, be difficult to find
a finer site for a school than that occupied by Yardley. Although still
under forty years of age, Yardley Hall has won a name for itself in a
part of the country where famous schools are many, and you will never
be able to persuade a Yardley man to acknowledge that any other school
approaches it in excellence. As for Broadwood--well, I never could do
justice to a Yardley man’s opinion of that institution!

On an afternoon about a week subsequent to the opening of the winter
term Dan dropped in at Number 7 Dudley. The bright weather continued,
but there was no hint of Autumn in the air to-day. A shrill east wind
charged around the corner of the building, and boys crossing the yard
kept their heads down into their collars and their hands in their
pockets and took short cuts across the winter turf in brazen defiance
of regulations. But Number 7 was warm and cozy as Dan closed the door
behind him and tossed his cap onto a chair. The steam pipes were
sizzling drowsily and in the grate a bed of coals glowed warmly.

“Gee,” said Dan, “I wish we had fireplaces in Clarke.”

“You ought to be glad you haven’t,” answered Alf Loring from the
window-seat. “Every time you have a fire it costs you ten cents for a
hod of coal. Tom’s always kicking about the expense.”

Tom Dyer, seated at the study table writing a letter, grunted
ironically without looking up.

“Come on over here and stretch your weary limbs,” said Alf, cuddling
his feet under him to make room and tossing a pillow at the visitor.
Alfred Loring was seventeen years old and was captain and quarter-back
of the football team. He was a nice, jolly looking fellow with a pair
of merry brown eyes and hair of the same shade which he wore parted
in the middle and slicked down straightly on either side of his
well-shaped head. Alf was in the Second Class, as was his roommate,
Tom Dyer. Tom, however, was a year older, a rangey, powerful looking
youth, rather silent, rather sleepy-looking, but good-natured to a
fault. Tom wasn’t a beauty, by any means, but his gray eyes and his
expression when he smiled redeemed the rather heavy features. Tom
played on the Eleven at left half and had just been elected captain of
the basket-ball team in place of a First Class fellow who had failed to
return in the fall.

“Ain’t it cold?” asked Alf as Dan snuggled against the pillow. “If this
keeps up we’ll have ice on the river in no time. Do you skate, Dan?”

“Not much. But I’m going to get some skates and try it.”

“I don’t know whether to believe you or not,” laughed Alf, “you’re so
modest. I dare say you can skate all around me.”

“No, honest, Alf, that’s the truth. I can’t skate much. I never seemed
to be able to learn.”

“That’s too bad. I was hoping you’d try for the hockey team. But you
get some skates and get busy. You’d better come out for the team,
anyway. You’ll have plenty of fun, even if you don’t make it.”

“And probably break my silly neck!”

“Well, don’t do that; we need you too much next fall. But you might try
for goal. You don’t have to skate much to play goal.”

“Don’t have to do much of anything,” observed Tom dryly, “except stand
up there and be hit with a hunk of hard rubber that feels like paving
block. I’ve tried it; played on Whitson team two years ago. We played
Clarke for the School Championship.”

“Did you win?” asked Dan, scenting a story.

“No, we lost,” replied Tom, going on with his writing.

“Tell him how, Tom,” said Alf with a chuckle.

“Dead easy,” answered Tom with a reminiscent smile. “The first half
ended three to two in our favor and we were feeling pretty cheerful.
But when we began again one of our fellows--Nickerson--he was playing
cover-point--did something that didn’t please the referee and got put
off for the limit; two minutes, I think it was. Then Clarke got down to
business and made things hot around goal. I stopped about four shots
in as many seconds and then there was a mix-up in front of the net and
someone laid open my head with his stick. When I came around again I
found they’d scored on us. I tried to go back and play but I was too
dizzy to stand up and they made me quit and put in a sub named Baxter.
Baxter meant well, but he was so excited that he couldn’t see straight.
And along toward the end of the half, with the score tied, Clarke
rushed the puck again and took a shot. Baxter stopped it with foot and
it got stuck between his skate and his boot. Instead of calling for
time or doing anything sensible he just stood there and shook his foot
like a hen with mud between her toes. Well, at about the sixth shake
the puck came out and flew into the net. That gave Clarke one goal to
the good. We all called Baxter names, and that got him more excited and
nervous than ever. And then, with about a minute to play the puck came
down again with everyone squabbling over it. Baxter’s eyes just stood
out of his head and he made a dash out of goal, got the puck somehow or
other and deliberately swiped into his own goal! Oh, he made quite a
hit that day for a sub!”

“I’ll bet he did!” laughed Dan. “I suppose you fellows all loved him to
death.”

“We did--not,” grunted Tom. “It was funny about Baxter, though,” he
added thoughtfully. “He graduated last year, and about a month later he
was going over from New York to Boston with his folks on that steamer
that caught fire; what was its name, Alf?”

“_Independence._”

“Yes. The fire didn’t amount to a whole lot in the end, but for awhile
things looked a bit bad. Well, the papers the next day made a regular
hero of Baxter. According to them he was the life of the party. Had
a fine time and enjoyed every minute of his visit. He bossed folks
around, strapped life-preservers on fat old ladies, helped launch the
boats and was as cool as a cucumber. It just shows that you never can
tell, don’t it?”

“Where is he now?” asked Dan.

“Oh, he’s a dead ’un now; he’s gone to Harvard,” answered Tom.

“What did he want to go there for?” asked Dan, who had already decided
on Yale, quite indignantly.

“Search me! What does any fellow want to go there for?”

“Well, it’s lucky for Yale some fellows do go,” laughed Alf. “If they
didn’t we wouldn’t have anyone to beat!”

“Well, there’s something in that,” grunted Tom. “But I’ll tell you
fellows one thing, though. Some day those Harvard Johnnies will take
their hands out of their pockets, work up a coaching system like they
have at Yale and everlastingly wallop us for keeps!”

“Oh, you run away and play!” scoffed Alf.

“All right. You just wait and see,” replied Tom unruffledly, returning
to his letter.

“What’s Tom think he’s doing?” asked Dan of Alf.

“He _thinks_ he’s a little Hague doing the arbitration act,” replied
Alf, “but what he’s really doing is making a mess. Rand--you know Paul
Rand?--he’s basket-ball manager, or thinks he is. Well, he tried to
make dates with Broadwood for three games and got high and mighty and
tried to dictate things with the result that Broadwood refused to have
anything to do with us. And I don’t blame her. We won last year, you
know, and so Rand thought we could lay down the law. Broadwood didn’t
see it that way. So Tom is trying to make a noise like a Dove of Peace.
He’s writing to the Broadwood captain, and I’ll bet he gets sat on for
his trouble.”

“That’ll be all right,” replied Tom, folding and sealing his letter.
“I’ve offered them their choice of dates for the second game and told
them we’d play the third anywhere they liked. They’ll come down and
make terms. And when they do--” Tom put the stamp on with a bang of his
fist--“we’ll lick them so hard that they won’t know whether they’re
coming or going!”

“That’s Tom’s idea of Peace!” laughed Alf.

“Well,” growled his roommate, “I’ve got to have some satisfaction for
grovelling under their feet and rubbing my head in the mud.” He tossed
the letter aside distastefully. “Say, Dan, how’s the kid getting on?”

“Yes, how is little Geraldine?” asked Alf.

“All right,” replied Dan not very enthusiastically. “I was going to
bring him along, but he hadn’t shown up when I left the room. I dare
say he’s gone over home.”

“Sound View?” asked Alf. “I thought the place was closed up.”

“It is, but some of the servants are there, and he’s got a dog he’s
awfully fond of; the one that ’most got burned.”

“I heard some of the Prep kids calling him ‘Young Money-Bags’ the other
day,” said Tom. “I’m afraid he isn’t going to be popular, Dan.”

“I don’t see why not,” answered Dan warmly. “He isn’t a snob by any
means; doesn’t even act like one. The fellows here wouldn’t think of
looking down on a chap because he had no money. Why should they look
down on him because he has?”

“Oh, I don’t think it’s exactly that,” mused Alf. “The trouble is, Dan,
that Toby and Collins and the Faculty generally are so blamed proud of
him. You’d think he was a young prince.”

“They aren’t proud of him,” answered Dan. “They’re proud of getting
him; proud of beating Broadwood.”

“Well, that’s a commendable pride,” said Alf with a yawn. “The best way
to do, as Brother Herb said the other day, is to just let him fight it
out alone. If the School finds you sticking up for him too much they’ll
take more of a grudge than ever to him.”

“Oh, I’m letting him do his own fighting right enough. So much so that
Gerald thinks I’ve gone back on him, and looks at me pathetically when
he thinks I don’t see him. Makes me feel sort of like a brute, you
know. He’s been a bit homesick, too, I guess, although he hasn’t said
anything about it.”

“Well, that’s promising,” said Alf. “Shows he isn’t a cry-baby. Does he
know anyone yet?”

“I don’t think so; except you fellows. It’ll take him time, I suppose.”

“Bring him around here whenever you want to,” said Tom. “I don’t mind
him. I know what it’s like to be homesick and out of it myself.”

“You!” exclaimed Dan.

“Sure! Don’t you think I’ve got any feelings? I went to a boarding
school for two years before I struck Yardley; one of those motherly
places where they advertise a nice home life for the kids. The first
month I was there I thought I’d die. Lonesome? Gosh, that isn’t any
word for it! I was sort of quiet and shy, I guess, and the fellows
thought I was stuck-up and left me pretty much alone except when they
picked on me.”

“Did you get over it?” asked Dan.

“Had to. I stood it until I couldn’t have stayed there any longer and
then I picked out the biggest fellow in my class and put it up to him.
‘I’ve been here a whole month,’ I told him, ‘and you fellows haven’t
spoken decently to me yet.’ (I was only thirteen and was half crying.)
‘You’ve either got to take some notice of me,’ I said, ‘or fight, and
I don’t care which it is.’ The chap looked at me in a funny sort of
way for a minute, and then he laughed and clapped me on the shoulder.
‘Fight!’ he said. ‘Why, I don’t want to fight you, kid. You’re all
right. You come along with me.’”

“Well?” Dan asked eagerly.

“Oh, I went.”

“Yes, but did he--what did he do?”

“Nothing; just walked with me across the playground. It was in the
afternoon after school and almost every fellow was there. That was all
he had to do. They gave me a chance after that and I made good.”

“If he’d accepted your invitation and licked you, though,” said Alf, “I
don’t see that it would have helped you much.”

“He wouldn’t have licked,” said Tom quietly, “not the way I was feeling
that day.”

“You, you old duffer,” scoffed his roommate, “why, you couldn’t lick a
postage stamp!”

Tom pushed his chair back, arose, and approached Alf with a broad
smile. Alf got his legs from under him and prepared for battle. Dan
removed to a safer vantage point, and the trouble began. It was a
fine “rough-house” while it lasted. The cushions were soon on the floor
and the combatants speedily followed them, bringing along a curtain
pole and two curtains. It was the pole that produced a cessation of
hostilities. In falling it came end first and Alf’s head happened to
be in the way. There was a yell, and when Tom removed himself from the
recumbent form of his chum, Alf was feeling of his head disgustedly.

[Illustration: “It was a fine ‘rough-house’ while it lasted.”]

“That fool thing always does that. I’ll bet my brain is just full of
holes.”

“Well, there’s something the matter with it,” laughed Tom.

Then they went at it again, around the study and up against the
table where the ink bottle was upset and a portion of its contents
distributed over the letter Tom had just written.

“There!” gasped Tom. “Look what you’ve done! Spoiled the stamp! And
I’ll have to address a new envelope.”

“You did it yourself, you clumsy brute,” answered Alf, rearranging
his attire. “But I’ll give you another stamp. It’s worth that much to
wallop you!”

“Huh! A lot of walloping you did!”

“I made you look like thirty cents, all right. Didn’t I, Dan?”

“I declare it a draw,” laughed Dan. “And I’m going to get out before
you do any more damage.”

“Oh, don’t go,” begged Alf. “Wait and see me lick him again. I’ve only
just begun on him.”

“Huh!” Tom grunted, seating himself at the table. “Say, Dan, wait a
second, like a good chap, and drop this in the mail for me. I’ll take
that stamp, Alf.”

“Haven’t got it just now. I’ll give you one some day, though. I always
pay my debts sooner or later.”

“I’ve got one,” Dan offered. “Toss me the letter.”

“There you are. Remind me that I owe it to you, Dan. That was the last
one I had. I can’t keep stamps. I believe Alf must eat them.”

“Well!” exclaimed Alf indignantly, “I’d just like to know who buys all
the stamps that are used in this room.”

“Not you, you old miser!”

“Tom, you must apologize for that, you really must!”

“Who to? Now, look here, sonny, if you start this again--!”

Dan made a hurried leap for the door and escaped the rush.

“Good-bye, you fellows!”

There was no answer, but as he closed the door behind him there came
the crash of an overturned chair. He paused, smiling, a little way down
the corridor and waited. From beyond the closed portal of Number 7 came
sounds resembling those of a small riot. Presently Dan walked heavily
back and rapped sharply on the door. Instantly the commotion ceased.

“Come in,” said a polite voice.

Dan opened the door. Alf, breathing heavily, was reading on the
window-seat and Tom was seated in a corner nonchalantly nursing one
knee.

“What’s all this noise I hear?” asked Dan, trying to imitate the
gruff tones of Mr. Austin, one of the instructors who roomed in the
building. There was a howl of rage from the occupants of the room and
Dan turned and fled. The joke kept him chuckling all the way around to
Oxford, where he posted Tom’s letter. Then he climbed the stairs to
his room in Clarke, threw open the door and paused on the threshold in
consternation.

In front of the washstand stood Gerald sopping his face with a
blood-stained towel. His nose was swollen and bleeding, his knuckles
were skinned and he was crying.

“Why, Gerald! What’s the matter?” cried Dan.

“N-nothing,” muttered Gerald, turning away.

“Nothing! Nothing be blowed! You’re a sight!” He drew the towel away
from the boy’s face. “Why, you’ve been fighting! Who hit you and how
did it happen? Here, let me take the towel. You sit down there and I’ll
fix you up. Who did it?”

“T-Thompson.”

“Who’s Thompson? And what did he hit you for?”

“I hit him fu-first.”

“Well, what was it about? Let’s see your hand. I should say you did hit
him! You’ll need some court plaster on those knuckles, my boy. Does
your nose hurt very much?”

“Yu-yes,” answered Gerald, struggling with his sobs.

“Well, never mind; don’t cry any more; it’ll feel better in a few
minutes.”

“I’m not cr-crying because it hurts,” sobbed Gerald, “I’m cr-crying
because he li-licked me!”



CHAPTER V

ALF TAKES A PUPIL


Presently, when Gerald’s wounds were dressed, Dan persuaded him to tell
his story. He had got over his tears and was looking rather depressed
and ashamed of himself.

“I was coming up the hill toward the gymnasium,” began Gerald.

“What were you doing down there?” Dan asked.

“I--I was just taking a walk along by the river,” answered Gerald
evasively.

Dan nodded. “Homesick,” he thought.

“I’m sorry you didn’t come back to the room,” he said. “I waited here
for you some time. I wanted to take you over to see Loring and Dyer.”

“I don’t want to go there,” answered Gerald. “They don’t like me.”

“You’re mistaken. Tom asked me this afternoon to bring you over often.
They’re nice fellows and I want you to like them. But never mind about
that now. What happened when you were coming up from the river?”

“I met four or five fellows just this side of the tennis courts, near
the little red building, you know.”

Dan nodded again.

“And one of them said something about ‘Miss Nancy.’ I didn’t pay any
attention and just kept right on. Then this fellow Thompson--”

“Hold on! What sort of a looking fellow is Thompson?”

“He--he’s kind of heavy, with dark hair, and wears a plaid cap.”

“Sort of sallow, with a mole on his cheek? I think I remember him. But
he’s bigger than you, isn’t he?”

“A little,” said Gerald grudgingly.

“All right. What happened?”

“He said ‘No, that’s Little Money-bags,’ and the other fellows laughed,
and one of them said something I didn’t hear. Then Thompson said: ‘Oh,
yes, his father’s got lots of money, but if folks knew where he got it
he’d be in prison.’”

“And then what?” asked Dan sympathetically.

“Nothing.”

“_Nothing?_”

“No, I--I just hit him!” Dan smiled.

“That wasn’t a very good thing to do, Gerald. We don’t go in for that
sort of thing here at Yardley.”

“I don’t care. What right had he to say that? I did hit him and I’ll do
it again if he talks that way about my father!”

“Well, you hit him. Then, I suppose he hit you?”

“No. He was going to, but some of the other fellows ran in and said
we’d be seen. Then Thompson asked if I wanted to fight, and I said I
did, and we went back of the little red building and--and--fought.”

“How long?”

“Just a minute. I couldn’t do anything, Dan. He knew how to fight and I
didn’t.”

“Well, but your knuckles--”

“I hit him once on the chin,” acknowledged Gerald with satisfaction,
“but that’s about all. Then he hit me on the nose.”

“And that ended it?”

“Yes. I wanted to go on, but they wouldn’t let me. One of them gave me
a handkerchief--I couldn’t find mine. It’s on the stand there. Then I
came up here.”

“Did anyone see you?”

“I don’t think so. I didn’t meet anyone but a couple of fellows in
front of Oxford. I don’t care if they did see me.”

“Well, it’s just as well that you didn’t run across any of the
Faculty,” said Dan dryly. “Faculty doesn’t like scraps. How’s the nose
feeling?”

“All right now; it’s just sore. It--it felt as though it was broken at
first. Did you ever have a real fight with another fellow, Dan?”

“Oh, I’ve had two or three scrimmages,” replied Dan carelessly, “but
not here. And I guess you’d better make up your mind to let this be
your last one, Gerald.”

“I’m going to learn to box,” said Gerald determinedly. “And when I know
how I’m going to lick Thompson.”

“Well,” answered Dan soothingly, “maybe you won’t want to by that time.”

“Does it take long? Is it hard to learn?”

“Boxing? N-no, I guess not, but I don’t know much about it: I never
took any lessons.”

“Will you box with me sometimes in the gym?”

“Perhaps,” answered Dan, “but you’d better get Alf Loring to show you;
he’s a dandy at it, they say.”

“Do you think he would?”

“Yes, but I’d forget about Thompson, Gerald. I dare say he’s sorry for
what he said. Did you make up afterwards?”

Gerald shook his head.

“He wanted to shake hands, but I wouldn’t. He’s got to apologize for
what he said about my father, every word, before I’ll make up with
him.”

“The best thing to do is to leave him alone and forget all about it,”
counseled Dan. “That’s what I’d do.” Gerald shook his head.

“No, you wouldn’t,” he said sagely, and Dan thought it best not to
argue the matter.

“Shall you see Loring again soon?” asked Gerald.

“I’ll see him to-morrow, I suppose. Why?”

“Will you ask him about boxing? Would you mind?”

“No, but it would be much better if you asked him yourself. We’ll drop
around there this evening for a few minutes.”

“All right,” said Gerald, “but I’m afraid he’ll think it’s awfully
cheeky of me.”

“No, he won’t. Now let’s get fixed up for supper. Let’s see how your
nose looks. Well, I guess most anyone would know that you’d been in
some sort of a mix-up, but it doesn’t look very bad. You’d better look
the other way, though, when you meet any of the Faculty. How are the
fellows at your table, by the way?”

“All right, I guess. I don’t know any of them very well, except a
little chap named Merrow.”

“Merrow? Seems to me I know him. Oh, yes, I met him coming up from the
station the other day. Is he nice?”

“Yes, but he’s just a kid.” Presently Gerald paused in his ablutions
long enough to announce; “I’m going to try for the Clarke hockey team,
Dan.”

“Are you? Did Bendix say you could play hockey?”

“Yes, on the dormitory team. Hockey and tennis. I don’t see why I can’t
play baseball, do you?”

“N-no, but I suppose Muscles has his reason. How are you getting along
at the gym?”

“All right. It’s mostly dumb-bells and wands now, though. But it’s
pretty good fun, isn’t it? Next week we’re going to do stunts on the
bars and things like that. I think I’ve got more muscle now than I
had when I came, don’t you? Look.” And Gerald pulled his sleeve up,
exposing a pathetically thin arm, and brought his clinched hand up to
his shoulder, watching Dan anxiously.

“Hm, yes, I believe you have,” said Dan gravely. “You keep on, Gerald,
and you’ll be mightily surprised at the result. It’s wonderful what
you can do in the gym. I’ve only been here about three months and I’ve
increased my chest expansion almost two inches.”

“Really? Mr. Bendix said I was awfully flat chested, and I guess I am.
I wish I had your muscles, Dan.”

“You keep on and you will have. All ready? Come on, then. Are you
hungry?”

“Not very. I’m never very hungry, Dan. Even at home I don’t eat much.”

“You wait until you’ve been here a little longer,” laughed Dan, “and
you won’t talk that way!”

After supper they went over to Dudley.

“Here he is!” cried Alf as Dan opened the door of Number 7. “What shall
we do to him, Tom? Hello, Pennimore, how are you?”

“Quite well, thank you,” replied Gerald politely. Alf grinned at Dan.

“Glad you’re bringing him to be respectful,” he whispered in Dan’s ear
as Gerald spoke to Tom. “Well, find seats, my worthy guests. Hello,
Pennimore! What’s happened to your face? Sort of out of drawing,
isn’t it? If I didn’t know you for a peaceable citizen I’d say you’d
been--er--mixing it up a bit.”

Gerald looked diffidently at Dan.

“Tell your own story,” laughed Dan.

“I--I got hit,” muttered Gerald.

“Oh!” said Alf, suppressing a grin.

“Who hit you?” asked Tom.

“A fellow named Thompson. We--we had a sort of a fight.”

“The dickens you did! What about?”

Then Gerald found courage to give an account of the incident. Tom
nodded approvingly.

“You did just right,” he said. “Sorry you didn’t hurt him a bit worse.
He’s a fresh kid, anyway.”

“Still,” interposed Dan, with a meaning glance at Tom, “I tell Gerald
we don’t go in for scrapping here.”

“That’s right,” answered Tom. “We don’t--except when it’s necessary.
When a chap says things about your parents, though, it’s necessary.
Just remember that, Pennimore. Don’t you take any fellow’s dust. If
he’s too big for you, just you come and tell me; understand?”

“Yes, thank you,” replied Gerald. “I--I didn’t want to fight, but there
wasn’t anything else I could do, was there?”

“Not a thing!” said Tom heartily. “Oh, you may frown all you want to,
Dan, but I’m right, and you know it, you old hypocrite.”

“You’ll get Gerald into trouble if you give him advice like that,
though,” Dan objected. “Faculty won’t stand for fights, and you know
it.”

“Yes, but Collins won’t be hard on a fellow for sticking up for the
honor of the family, so to speak. He’s human, Collins is. And I guess
we three know that as well as anyone. Ever fought before, Gerald?”

“No, I never have,” answered Gerald apologetically. Alf laughed.

“Well, don’t apologize. After all, in spite of Tom, we’re not all
sluggers here.”

“I’d like to know something about fighting, though,” said Gerald with a
beseeching look at Dan.

“He’s got a favor to ask of you, Alf, and he’s afraid you’ll think he’s
cheeky,” explained Dan.

“Of me? What is it? Let’s hear. I promise now not to think you cheeky,
Pennimore. Want me to re-shape your nose for you?”

“I--I wondered whether you’d mind giving me a few lessons in boxing,”
said Gerald soberly.

“By Jove, I like your grit! Want to be ready for the next one, eh?”
Gerald didn’t reply.

“Fact is,” laughed Dan, “he wants to learn how to fight so he can lick
Thompson. I tell him he’d better call it quits, but--”

“Oh, Alf will teach you, all right,” interrupted Tom. “If he doesn’t
I’ll make him.”

“You! You couldn’t make a cat sneeze!” jeered Alf. “I’ll be very glad
to show you what I know, Pennimore,” he added kindly. “We’ll get
together some day real soon. We can use the boxing room in the gym
Saturday afternoons, I guess. As to Thompson--well, you’ve shown him
you won’t stand for his nonsense, and I guess he will let you alone
after this. But boxing is mighty good exercise and it will do you good.”

“I’m awfully much obliged,” murmured Gerald. “I guess you will find me
pretty stupid, though.”

“That’s all right. You’ll learn. You’re light on your feet and you look
quick. Here, don’t rush off, Dan.”

“Must. Gerald and I have got studying to do.”

“Well, so have I, but you don’t see me worrying about it, do you?”
laughed Alf. “Sit down and be sociable.”

“Can’t, honest!” replied Dan. “Good night, you fellows.”

After they had gone Tom looked across at Alf.

“Well?” he asked.

“Well what?”

“He isn’t such a sissy after all, is he?”

“Who? Little Geraldine?” asked Alf with a laugh. “Oh, he will get on in
time. Say, though, doesn’t Dan remind you of old Mrs. Mother Hen with
her one chick?”

And Alf went off chuckling to find his books.



CHAPTER VI

A VISIT TO NEW YORK


On the following Friday Dan and Gerald, suit-cases in hand and ulsters
on arm, climbed aboard the express at a little before five o’clock and
set out for New York. It was a cloudy afternoon, still and moderately
cold. The river had been frozen for several days, and as the train
crossed the bridge the boys could see the skaters moving about through
the twilight up near Loon Island. They had their supper on the
train--although it was really dinner--and did their level best to eat
some of everything on the menu. In this effort they were not quite
successful, but they managed to consume enough to interfere seriously
with their comfort. Luckily they had a full hour--and it really was a
full one--in which to recover before the train rolled into the Grand
Central Station, by which time they were able to take up their luggage
and traverse the platform without more than an occasional groan.

Mr. Pennimore had half promised to meet them, but when Gerald had
discovered the electric brougham, the driver, a very smart looking
youth in trim livery, reported that Mr. Pennimore had telephoned from
downtown that he wouldn’t be able to reach the station in time, but
would meet the boys at dinner.

“Dinner!” groaned Dan, casting a reproachful look at Gerald. “Why
didn’t you tell me we were to have dinner after we got here?”

“I thought it would be lots more fun to eat on the train,” replied
Gerald. “You can eat at home any time. Besides, we were hungry, Dan.”

“Well, that’s so. But I’m not hungry now, and I know I shan’t be able
to even look at the table.”

They sped softly across town, only the low buzz of the motor and the
occasional jangle of the bell penetrating to the interior of the
carriage. Overhead a light set behind ground glass cast a soft glow
over the rich upholstery. Dan looked and marveled. At his feet an
electric heater gave warmth, in front of him a little silver clock
ticked away the minutes. The seat, upholstered in dark blue leather,
was as comfortable as a bed, and Gerald was making the most of it. But
Dan was too excited to loll back in his corner. Instead, he sat on the
edge of the cushion and peered interestedly out of the window. The
brougham slowed down and turned into Fifth Avenue, then buzzed its way
uptown past a steady stream of southward bound vehicles, automobiles,
hansoms, broughams, taxicabs, electrics, with now and then a smart
delivery wagon. Dan turned in bewilderment.

“Where’s every one going?” he asked.

“Theater, I suppose,” answered Gerald listlessly. “It’s most eight
o’clock.”

“Oh,” said Dan. He had never seen so many carriages before in his life,
nor so many lights, nor so many persons. They were held up for a moment
at an intersecting street, and he watched admiringly the majestic
traffic policeman, and wondered where every one _could_ be going! Then
they went on again and the lights along the sidewalks grew fewer. Shops
gave way to residences, and soon, through the window on Gerald’s side,
he saw the Park. He heaved a sigh.

“Gee, this is a big old place, Gerald,” he said hopelessly.

“I hate it,” answered Gerald, arousing from his drowsiness. “I have
lots more fun at Sound View than I do in New York. I wish father would
live at Sound View all the year. He says he’s going to some day. Here
we are, Dan.”

The brougham rolled slowly up to the curb and stopped with a final peal
of its bell. The door of a white stone residence opened and a man in
livery came out and seized the bags and coats. Dan followed Gerald
into the house, stepped dazedly into a tiny room which turned out to be
an elevator, stepped out again and discovered Mr. Pennimore awaiting
them at the door of a big library, evening paper in hand. After that
events followed each other so quickly that it was all rather hazy to
Dan. There was a moment’s chat in front of a glowing fire, another
excursion in the elevator, a hurried preparation for dinner, followed
by a survey of Gerald’s bedroom and sitting room which adjoined the
apartment assigned to Dan, a descent to the first floor, and--well,
then Dan found himself eating again just as though he hadn’t already
had one hearty dinner that evening!

“What’s the matter, Gerald?” asked Mr. Pennimore presently,
interrupting himself anxiously. “Has coming home spoiled your appetite?”

“No, sir, but we had our dinner on the train.”

“On the train! Well, well, that’s unfortunate! Couldn’t wait, eh? But
do the best you can, boys. When I was your age I could always eat.
Parker, hand the vegetables to Mr. Vinton.”

When dinner was over it was much too late to go anywhere, Mr. Pennimore
decided. Gerald was disappointed, but Dan was secretly glad enough to
sit down in a big, sleepy chair in front of the library fire and just
let the comfort and hominess of the place soak in. Mr. Pennimore found
lots of questions to ask, and it kept the two boys busy answering them.

“You see, son,” said Mr. Pennimore, “your letters are very interesting,
but you’ve got an exasperating way of paying no attention to the
questions I ask in mine. Have you been homesick, Gerald?”

Gerald shot a glance at Dan, but that youth was studying the flames as
though he hadn’t heard the question.

“Some, sir,” answered Gerald, “once or twice.”

“Getting over it now, though, I presume? That’s right; just realize
that Yardley’s to be your home for the next few months and get settled
down. Have you made the acquaintance of any more of the boys?”

“I--I don’t know any of them very well yet, sir.”

“Of course not; all that takes time, I suspect. You spoke of two of the
boys in one of your letters. What were their names?”

“Loring and Dyer,” answered Gerald. “They’re--they’re Second Class
fellows, and so I don’t know them very well.”

“Oh, I gathered from what you wrote that you did.” Gerald looked
uneasily at Dan.

“Well, Loring’s going to give you boxing lessons,” he said. “You know
him well enough for that. Gerald has an idea that fellows don’t care
about him unless they come right out and say so,” Dan explained.

“Boxing lessons, you said?” inquired Mr. Pennimore. “Isn’t boxing
rather--er--strenuous for a boy of your age?” He looked anxiously from
Dan to Gerald.

“Oh, no, sir,” answered Dan promptly. “It isn’t hard at all. It’s one
of the regular exercises in the Second Class. Gerald just thought he’d
like to take it up now, and Alf Loring said he’d show him how. It’s
good exercise, sir.”

Gerald breathed easier. He had pledged Dan to secrecy in regard to his
trouble with Thompson, and Dan’s unthinking reference to boxing had
brought his heart into his mouth.

“Well,” said his father doubtfully, “be careful. Don’t try to learn
everything the first year, son.”

The next forenoon was given over to sight-seeing. Gerald acted as guide
and showed Dan as many of the points of interest as there was time for,
and Dan enjoyed himself hugely. They had luncheon with Mr. Pennimore at
his club. Afterwards he handed them tickets for one of the theaters and
sent them off in a hansom.

“I’m sorry I can’t go with you,” he said, “but I’ve got a great deal
to do this afternoon. We’ll have dinner early and see a show together
to-night.”

That was Dan’s first visit to a real theater, for out in Graystone,
Ohio, where he lived, the local playhouse, known as the Academy of
Music, was little more than a fair-sized hall, and the attractions
which visited it seldom met with the approval of Dan’s parents. To
Gerald, on the contrary, theaters and plays were an old story, and he
found half of his enjoyment in watching Dan and in displaying his own
knowledge and experience of things theatrical. After the final curtain
had fallen Dan didn’t say anything until the boys were out on the
street. Then he drew a long breath, sighed deeply, and exclaimed:

“Gee, that was great!”

“It wasn’t a bad show,” replied Gerald indifferently.

“Bad! It was simply elegant! I’ll bet if I lived in New York I’d be at
the theater every day! I’d like to see that play again to-night!”

But instead he saw another one and voted it even better, and would have
kept Gerald up the rest of the night talking about it if Gerald had
allowed it. Even as it was, it was long past mid-night when they fell
asleep. The next forenoon they went to church with Mr. Pennimore. The
church was a new source of wonderment to Dan. He had never imagined
that a church could be so beautiful as was that one, and if he missed
a great deal of the service, it was only because his eyes and thoughts
were busy with the great altar, the wonderful stained glass windows,
and all the architectural marvels and color before him.

Dinner was at two o’clock on Sunday, a long-drawn-out repast of many
courses. It wasn’t altogether a success to-day, for every one was
rather silent. The impending return to school brought no joy to the
boys, while Mr. Pennimore was saddened by the thought of having to part
with Gerald for several months. At a little before four the electric
brougham rolled up to the curb in front of the house, and good-byes
were said. Mr. Pennimore was to sail early Tuesday morning. Gerald
begged to be allowed to remain in town and see him off, but his father
wouldn’t allow it.

“No, no,” he said smilingly, “that wouldn’t do, son. Why, I might lose
my courage at the last moment and take you with me!”

“I wish you would,” said Gerald dismally, clinging tightly to his
father’s hand.

“What? And take you away from school? Oh, that wouldn’t do at all. No,
we’ll say good-bye now, Gerald. You write me regularly and send your
first letter to the address I gave you, so that I’ll find it when I
get to London. Good-bye, Dan. Take good care of yourself. We three
are going to have some good times this summer, and I want you well and
strong. And keep an eye on this boy here; don’t let him get into too
much mischief. And write me a letter yourself some day and put it in
with Gerald’s. Now, you’ll have to hurry if you’re going to catch that
train. Good-bye, Gerald. Be a good boy, and don’t forget to write to
me. Remember me to the Doctor when you see him. Good-bye, good-bye!”

Then they were rolling away to the station, Gerald rather tearful,
and Dan feeling a little bit blue himself, without being able to
find a good reason for it. But by the time New Haven was reached the
spirits of each had risen considerably, and they were able to take
some interest in the things which the waiter placed before them in the
dining car. Neither had eaten much dinner in New York, and so they
found that they had very fair appetites. It’s wonderful what food will
do in the way of cheering one up! When they tossed their bags into the
carriage at Wissining and climbed in after them they were as merry
as you please. A sprinkle of snow had fallen while they had been on
the train, and there was a jolly feeling of winter in the air. Ahead
of them, on the hill, the windows of the school buildings twinkled a
welcome to them.

“Getting back isn’t so bad, after all, is it?” asked Dan. And Gerald
agreed that it wasn’t.

They hurried to the Office to register their return, and then scampered
up the stairs of Clarke. And when Dan had lighted the drop-light on the
study table and the familiar objects in the room met their gaze, why,
it was quite like getting home!



CHAPTER VII

THE SNOW BATTLE


The snow held off that winter until the last week in January. Then,
as though to make up for its neglect, it came down steadily for three
days together and covered the Prospect and the Yard two feet deep.
Of course, I don’t mean that the snow confined its attentions to
the vicinity of the school; the world was white as far as one could
see, save on the Sound; and there were days when you couldn’t catch
a glimpse of that for the scurrying flakes. But it was around the
school that the fellows were best able to judge of its depth. Of
course, Mr. McCarthy, the janitor, whose real name was Owen, and not
McCarthy at all, fought valiantly with his helpers to keep the paths
clear, but just as fast as they shoveled snow away, more fell. There
was little wind, and so there were no drifts, a lucky circumstance
for Mr. McCarthy. Skating for the time was spoiled, and just when the
hockey clubs were finding their ice-legs, to coin an expression. But
snow-battles took the place of ice sports, and there were some fine
contests in the Yard. The principal battle of that campaign was one
which took place at half-past four one afternoon, and lasted until
darkness imposed a truce. It started out in a very small way.

Gerald was crossing from the gymnasium to Clarke. Over in front of
Dudley a handful of older boys were good-naturedly pelting each other
with snowballs. Back of Whitson, Thompson, the youth with whom Gerald
had tried conclusions a fortnight ago, was vainly trying to throw a
snowball in at the window of one of the third-floor rooms, where a
friend of his laughed defiance from behind the curtain. Gerald had
reached the sun-dial in the center of the Yard before Thompson spied
him. Then:

“Oh, see who’s here,” shouted Thompson gleefully to his friend. “Watch
me soak him, Joe.”

The first missile passed harmlessly by Gerald’s head, but the second
was better aimed, and lodged uncomfortably against Gerald’s neck.
Gerald brushed it away and tramped on. He recognized his enemy, but so
far he had had but one lesson from Alf, and wasn’t yet ready for Mr.
Thompson. Unfortunately, every step toward Clarke brought him nearer
Thompson, and as Thompson was a rather good shot, progress became
instantly more difficult. He thought of dropping the bundle of books
which he carried and retaliating, but he knew himself for a poor shot,
and was sure that such an engagement would end in undignified rout on
his part. So he shielded his face as best he could and went on. It’s no
joke to get a well-made snowball, thrown from a distance of sixty feet,
against your head, and that’s what happened to Gerald more than once
after he had passed the corner of Dudley. He wanted to run, but was too
proud. Encouraged by the laughing applause of his friend at the window
above, Thompson advanced to meet his prey, a particularly well-moulded
snowball ready to throw.

But he didn’t throw it. For at that moment his cap went off, his
ear was filled with snow, and he staggered aside from the shock and
unexpectedness of the attack. It was a long shot, and a lucky one, and
I doubt if the small boy standing on the back porch of Merle could have
duplicated it in twenty tries. But it accomplished its purpose, for
it allowed Gerald to reach the safety of Clarke Hall. Thompson swung
around with a laugh of annoyance, and spied his new adversary.

“Hello, kid!” he shouted. “Want yours, do you? Well, you stay there and
you’ll get it.”

Harry Merrow stayed, not because he wanted to very much, but because,
like Gerald, he was too proud to run. It was an unequal conflict, for
Thompson, advancing steadily along the walk, scored three hits to the
younger boy’s one. The group in front of Dudley had paused and were
watching the fray, applauding Merrow loudly.

“Give it to him, kid! You’re all right! Now’s your chance! Take your
time!”

But the battle would have ended disastrously for Merrow had not
another Merle Hall boy, attracted by the shouts, put his head out of
an upstairs window and seen what was going on. Now, there’s a fine
spirit of _camaraderie_ among the Preparatory Class. For one thing, the
boys of that class all room together in Merle, and get to know each
other thoroughly. And in the present case _esprit de corps_ came to
the rescue of Merrow. The boy at the window disappeared quickly, and a
minute later the back of Merle was black with boys.

“Merle, this way! Merle, this way!” was the cry.

Thompson held out for a moment, and then, the target for dozens of
snowballs, retreated toward Whitson. But the fellows in front of Dudley
could remain neutral no longer.

“Rush the kids!” was the cry, and the battle was on. Five minutes later
almost every fellow in school was ranged on one side of the Yard or the
other. The new arrivals neither knew nor cared about the merits of the
controversy. They simply joined whichever army was nearest. Alf and Tom
and Dan, gathered in Number 7 Dudley, soon heard the noise of battle
and joined the fray, Tom in his shirt-sleeves.

“What’s it all about?” asked Alf of another boy.

“I don’t know. Merle started it, they say. They’ve been fighting like
little fiends, the kids have. Look out! Just missed you! Let’s rush ’em
again!”

There were plenty of rushes in which the opposing sides, or the more
valorous of them, met in the middle of the field of battle and fought
at close quarters. Out there there was little time to make snowballs.
One must simply scoop up snow and hurl it at his adversary, grapple
with him, perhaps, and roll him over and “wash his face,” or stuff
snow down his back and into his ears and mouth. It was hand-to-hand
out there, and many brave deeds were done and many gallant rescues
performed. One ate snow and breathed it and was blinded by it, and
wallowed in it, and picked himself out of it gasping and shouting.
Then, as though by mutual understanding, the opposing armies drew
apart, still hurling snow and shouting defiance, to view their
casualties and draw breath for a renewed attack.

Gerald, drawn from his room by the shouting and laughter, looked on
for a minute, and then dodged around the Yard and joined the forces in
front of Merle. The next moment he was rolling snowballs and firing
with the best of them, the ardor of battle taking possession of him.

“Hello, Pennimore!” cried a voice at his ear. “Isn’t it fun? They tried
to rush us three times, and we beat them back!”

It was Harry Merrow, his cap off, his sweater crusted with snow, his
cheeks flaming, and his eyes afire with excitement. Dan, had he been at
hand to see, would have had difficulty in recognizing in the person of
this young warrior the tearful, homesick lad he had met in the carriage.

“That was a dandy shot of yours,” said Gerald gratefully. “Did he hurt
you?”

“Who? Thompson? I guess not! I’m not afraid of him! There they go! Come
on!”

And Gerald was caught, willy nilly, in the forward surge of the little
army and swept out into the field. Then snowballs were flying thick and
fast, boys went down left and right, assailant and assailed rolling
over on the trampled field of battle. Twilight was coming fast, and
already it was difficult to tell friend from enemy. Gerald had lost
sight of Harry Merrow, and, for that matter, scarcely knew whether he
was attacking his comrades or his opponents. But he scooped up snow
and dashed it wherever he saw a face, dodged in and out of the mêlée,
and was having a lovely time, when something happened. His heels went
into the air, his head bumped into the snow, and then, struggle as he
might, he was being dragged feet-foremost toward the enemy’s line. He
disputed every inch of the way, his hands groping blindly for something
to hold to, and his face plowing up the snow. And then, just when he
was certain he would suffocate the next moment, he was released and
rolled over.

“You’re captured, kid,” laughed a familiar voice. “Will you fight on
our side?”

Gerald, sputtering and choking, looked up into the face of Dan.

“No, I’m on the other side,” he gasped heroically.

“Why, it’s Gerald!” cried Dan. He pulled him to his feet. “Did I hurt
you?”

“Not a bit,” said Gerald, rubbing his wet face against a wetter sleeve.
Hurt! Of course he wasn’t hurt; he never felt finer in his life! What
if his nose did seem to have been scraped to the bone? It was all
glorious!

“Well, you’re prisoner,” laughed Dan. “If you won’t fight with us you
must give your parole.”

“What’s that?” asked Gerald, as Dan, a hand on his arm, led him back
toward Dudley.

“Why, agree not to fight again,” Dan explained. “You stay over there on
the steps.”

“But I want to fight!” cried Gerald.

“All right, then, fight. Hello, Alf! Did you get any?”

“Yes, we got nine altogether.”

“Where are they?”

“Oh, here somewhere. They’re going to fight with us.”

“Is it right to do that?” asked Gerald anxiously.

“Of course! That’s the way we play the game here.”

“Then I’ll fight,” said Gerald.

“Hello!” cried Alf, coming up, “where’d you get Gerald?”

“Oh, I fished him out of the bunch,” laughed Dan. “I didn’t know who he
was until I’d dragged him half-way across the Yard. He’s going to join
our side.”

“That’s right,” said Alf. “We’ll get a lot more next time. They got
Tom, though.”

“Not really! Think of old Tom getting caught! Let’s rush ’em again
before it gets too dark.”

Then Alf and Dan and Gerald and almost a hundred others dashed forward
again with a yell, and from the other side of the Yard the enemy came
to meet them, and it was all a grand turmoil in the half darkness. Both
sides were out for prisoners now, and there was less throwing of snow
and more good, hard tussles. So far as Gerald could see, no one lost
his temper, or, if he did, he found it again the next moment.

“You’d better keep back,” panted Alf, “or some one will grab you,
Gerald.”

But Gerald didn’t care about that. In fact, he rather wanted to be
grabbed. He wanted to match his strength against some one, friend or
foe. And so he rushed into the thick of battle, fell, picked himself
up, was caught around the waist and wriggled free, seized a boy almost
twice his size in a vain endeavor to make a prisoner of him, and found
himself with his face in the snow and the battle raging fiercely above
him. He crawled out of there quickly, for it wasn’t pleasant to be
walked on, staggered to his feet and drew breath. The Merle side was
giving ground. Behind him at least a dozen prisoners were being hurried
away. But the combat still raged, and the shouting continued. Suddenly,
out from the enemy’s ranks darted a form and grappled with a boy who,
standing almost at Gerald’s side, had, like himself, paused to take
breath. Down they went together, there was a moment’s tussle, and then
the enemy, having cunningly seized his victim’s feet, started back
with him. Both sides were now drawing off, and for an instant Gerald
hesitated. Then, with a shrill cry of challenge, he darted forward and
threw himself against the captor. The next moment Gerald and the boy he
had rescued were running back toward Dudley. The captor, surprised by
the unexpected attack, didn’t think of pursuit until too late.

“Much obliged,” panted the rescued youth, as he and Gerald reached
safety.

“That’s all right,” said Gerald carelessly. But secretly he was
immensely proud of his exploit. At that moment they stepped into the
circle of light thrown by the lantern over the door of Dudley.

“Hello!” cried the other. “If it isn’t Pennimore! What do you think of
that? Why, you and I started this scrap!”

It was Thompson. Gerald viewed him doubtfully.

“You mean you did,” he answered rather stiffly. Thompson laughed and
clapped him on the back.

“That’s so, I guess I did. Well, say, Pennimore, I’m sorry I snowballed
you. But we’re quits now, aren’t we?”

And with another laugh and a nod Thompson turned away, leaving Gerald
at a loss and a little indignant. What’s the good, he asked himself, of
having a grudge against a fellow who makes apologies to you and claps
you on the back? It was perfectly absurd! He looked aggrievedly in the
direction taken by Thompson, and frowned. Then, thrusting his wet,
aching hands into his trousers pockets, he turned and walked moodily
toward Clarke. At the corner of the dormitory he looked back. Plainly,
the combat was over. A few desultory snowballs arched across the Yard,
and an occasional taunting cry or shout of defiance followed. But the
two armies were dwindling away fast. It was quite dark now, and the
battleground was illumined only by the streams of warm, yellow light
which came from the dormitory windows. Gerald climbed to his room,
feeling as though the zest had been suddenly taken out of life. Dan
found him there a few minutes later, when, wet and glowing, he threw
open the door.

“Why, what’s the matter with you, Gerald?” he asked in surprise. “You
look as though you were waiting to watch your funeral go by!” He walked
over and laid his hand on the younger boy’s shoulder. “Look here,” he
said anxiously, “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“No,” answered Gerald dully.

“Then what’s--”

“It’s Thompson,” burst out Gerald.

“Thompson? Again? What’s he done now?” And Dan’s gaze examined Gerald’s
face anxiously for evidences of recent encounters.

“He hasn’t done anything,” muttered Gerald.

“Then what--”

So Gerald told his trouble, and Dan laughed until it hurt. And after a
while Gerald managed to smile, too.

“But I don’t see how that makes us quits, Dan,” he said seriously. “He
snowballed me all across the Yard, and then I ran in and rescued him
from some big chap who was making him prisoner. I don’t see that he’s
done anything to make it quits, do you?”

“No, I can’t say I do,” laughed Dan. “But it’s funny, just the same,
the cheek of it. Thompson must have a keen sense of humor, Gerald.”

“He had no business to hit me on the back and say we were quits,” said
Gerald stubbornly.

“Well, he did it; apologized, too. You can’t fight a chap for that,
Gerald, I guess.”

“No, I don’t suppose so.” Gerald was silent a moment. Then: “But I’m
going to keep on learning to box, Dan, just the same,” he declared.

“Well, there’s no harm in that,” replied Dan, getting out of his wet
clothes. “It’s a good thing to know, boxing.”

“Yes,” said Gerald hopefully, “because maybe he will do something else
some day, and then I’ll be ready for him!”



CHAPTER VIII

GERALD REVOLTS


Gerald wasn’t getting on very well with his studies. With English and
Latin he was having little trouble, but French was a stumbling block,
while as to mathematics--well, Gerald and algebra weren’t friends.
And the worst of it was that Kilts, as Mr. McIntyre was called by the
students, had got it into his head that Gerald wasn’t really trying
to get along. This, at first, wasn’t true. But by the middle of
February it must be acknowledged that Gerald had taken such a dislike
to algebra, and Kilts, too, for that matter, that the latter had good
reason for his suspicion. Kilts was a severe disciplinarian, and had
small sympathy for boys who were not willing to work. He could forgive
dullness, was often patience itself with a student who tried to learn
and couldn’t, but he could make life very unpleasant for any member of
his classes who didn’t try. And by the middle of February affairs were
at an acute stage between Kilts and Gerald.

“Tell me, Mr. Pennimore,” he asked one morning with his best sarcasm,
“is there any subject I could substitute for algebra that would
interest you?” As Gerald made no reply--having learned by this time the
wisdom of declining McIntyre’s challenges to debate--but merely sat
with red cheeks, listening to the suppressed giggles of the fellows
around him, Kilts construed the boy’s silence to please himself.

“Ah, there is, then! Now, tell me what it is, sir, and I’ll bring the
matter up in Faculty Meeting, and perhaps we can make the change. Would
it be embroidery--or jack-straws--or puss-in-the-corner? Would it be
any of those, Mr. Pennimore?”

Gerald sat silent with burning cheeks.

“Come, come, Mr. Pennimore! Let us hear it, pray. Don’t be afraid to
speak up. What would it be, now?”

“Manners!” blurted Gerald, trembling with anger. Mr. McIntyre’s
little Scotch eyes blazed and the class sobered instantly. But the
instructor’s voice was surprisingly gentle as he replied:

“Ah, an excellent choice, sir, an excellent choice. I ken ye know your
own requirements, and I’ll see what we can do for ye. (Mr. McIntyre was
liable to fall back into Scotch brogue on occasions, occasions which
the boys who knew him well were prone to dread.) Ay, ay, manners are
what ye need, doubtless.”

Mr. McIntyre smiled gently and took up his book again. Some one
ventured to laugh nervously, but the look which he received killed
his mirth instantly. Proceedings were resumed, and for the rest of
the half-hour Kilts took no notice of Gerald. When class was over
Gerald hurried out of the room and over to Clarke with blazing eyes,
half beside himself with anger. Dan happened to be in the room, and
to him Gerald poured forth his tale. But if he expected sympathy or
indignation, he was doomed to disappointment. Dan heard the story
calmly.

“Well, I guess it’s you for the Office, Gerald,” he said with a frown.
“What made you be such an ass as to say that to Kilts? Don’t you know
he’s got a temper like a ginger-jar?”

Gerald stared in amazement.

“But--but see what he said to me!” he gasped. “Do you think I’m going
to sit quiet and take that, Dan? I guess not! What right had he to
insult me before the whole class? He--he’s nothing but a Scotch beggar,
anyway!”

“He’s one of the best mathematicians in the country,” replied Dan
quietly, “and no matter what else he is, he’s your teacher and you
ought to treat him politely. If he was impolite to you, that’s no
reason for you to answer back, Gerald.”

“Well, I did it!” cried Gerald hotly. “And I’ll do it again if he ever
says things like that to me.”

“Maybe you won’t have a chance,” replied Dan dryly. “You’d better wait
until you’ve seen Collins. You’ve got yourself into a nasty hole,
Gerald, and you might as well realize it. Fellows have been suspended
here for less than what you’ve done.”

“Let them suspend me, then,” said Gerald hotly. “I don’t care what they
do! I’m sick and tired of this place, anyway. Every one’s down on me,
the teachers and every one else! And you don’t care, either. You’re
just like Loring and Dyer and those fellows. I hope they send me home!
I’d rather be there than here!”

“And how about your father?” asked Dan gently. “Think he’d be pleased,
Gerald? Now, look here!” Dan laid a hand kindly on the boy’s shoulder.
“Don’t make any more of a mess of it, Gerald. You were wrong in
answering back, and you must see that. Why, it’s sort of as though you
were in the army, Gerald. Kilts is your superior officer, you see,
and it’s your place to take what he says and keep your mouth closed.
And you know as well as I do that you haven’t been pegging at algebra
lately the way you ought to. You’ve got it into your head that you
can’t do it, and now you don’t try. And Kilts sees that and doesn’t
like it. He’s got a sharp tongue, has Kilts, and I dare say he said
things he shouldn’t have said, but that’s not for you to bother about.
What you want to do is to knuckle down and see that he doesn’t have a
chance to get after you again. I’ll say one thing for Kilts, and that
is, if he sees a fellow is trying to get along he will help him all he
can. I’ve seen that myself, lots of times.”

“He’s a brute,” muttered Gerald rebelliously.

“No, he really isn’t. He’s awfully human, and he’s got a temper. Look
at the way he acted last Fall when Jones painted up the front of Dudley
that time! When Toby came along Kilts was out there with soap and water
trying to wash out the paint so the fellow who did it wouldn’t get
into trouble. He’s hard to get along with, but he’s pretty fair in the
long run. Now, you listen to what Collins has to say, and tell him you
were angry and excited and didn’t mean to insult Kilts. Then you take
your medicine and buckle down and make up your mind to show Kilts that
you are just as smart as any other fellow in your class. Maybe Collins
will let you down easily this time. But you don’t want to talk to him
the way you’ve talked to me, Gerald. That won’t do at all. Let him
understand that you’re sorry and--”

“I’m not sorry,” declared Gerald. “I’m glad.”

“Well, you’ll get over it, then,” said Dan, a trifle impatiently.
“Don’t try to ride the high-horse with Collins, or you’ll be down and
out in no time. I know you have had a rather tough time of it in some
ways since you came, but now, just when things are getting better,
don’t go and spoil it all. Why, you made the hockey team last week, and
you’ve met a lot of fellows who will be nice to you if you’ll let them.
Don’t spoil it all now and disappoint your father, Gerald.”

Gerald made no answer, and after waiting a moment, Dan took up his
books and moved toward the door.

“Well, I must be off,” he said. “See you after dinner, Gerald.”

Gerald nodded sullenly.

But after dinner Gerald was not to be found, and the two didn’t meet
again until just before supper. Dan had been skating on the river,
and was feeling fine until he entered Number 28 and caught sight of
Gerald’s glum face bending over a book.

“Hello,” he said, peeling off his sweater, “where were you at noon?”

“Office,” answered Gerald shortly.

“Who did you see? Collins? What did he say?” asked Dan anxiously.

“Oh, he said a lot,” replied Gerald disgustedly. “Lectured me for half
an hour, I guess.”

“Well? It’s all right, eh? He didn’t punish you?”

“Didn’t he?” asked Gerald bitterly. “He says I’ve got to stay in bounds
for two weeks, and I can’t play on the hockey team.” Dan gave a sigh of
relief.

“Well, that’s good. I was afraid he’d suspend you. But Collins is a
pretty good sort. You got off easy, all right.”

“Easy! I’m glad you think so. I suppose it doesn’t make much difference
to you, though,” said Gerald bitterly. “You’ll have your fun just the
same, you and Loring and Dyer! No one cares how badly I get--get stung!”

“That’s nonsense,” said Dan. “Of course I’m sorry he put you on
probation but it might have been lots worse, Gerald. I was afraid he’d
send you home for a couple of weeks, and that would have been the
dickens!”

“I wish he had sent me home!”

“Don’t be silly,” begged Dan. “Two weeks on probation isn’t much. It’ll
be gone before you know it. And there’ll be plenty of hockey left for
you.”

“Oh, it’s easy enough for you to talk! You haven’t lost your place on
the team!”

“Yes, I suppose that does queer you there,” mused Dan. “Still, you’ve
got three years yet, Gerald, and what does it matter if you don’t make
a dormitory team this year? Just you practice all you can and then,
maybe, next year you can get on the Varsity. And that’s more than I’ve
been able to do!”

“I don’t want to wait until next year,” answered Gerald irritably. “I
want to play now. And I don’t think it’s fair to say I can’t play just
because Kilts insulted me, and I answered back. And what’s more, I
won’t stand it!”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to,” replied Dan impatiently. “It’s no use
going to Toby; he always stands by Collins.”

“I don’t intend to go to Toby,” replied Gerald.

“That’s right,” said Dan cheerfully. “Buck up and take your medicine.
Have you written your father to-day?”

“No.”

“You’re going to, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know,” muttered Gerald.

“You’d better. You tell him just how it all happened, and I’ll write a
note, too, and you can put it in your letter. You see, Collins is sure
to write to him and report the matter, and he will think it’s much
worse than it is if you don’t explain. Now, come on and let’s eat.”

At dinner Dan promised Alf to go over to the latter’s room later in the
evening.

“I guess I’ll bring Gerald along, if you don’t mind,” he said. “He’s
feeling rather down in the mouth.”

“Of course, bring him along,” answered Alf.

But when the time came Gerald refused to go.

“I don’t care to go where I’m not wanted,” he declared, and all of
Dan’s persuasion failed to move him. In the end Dan went alone, feeling
rather guilty at leaving Gerald there in the dumps.

Events proved that Dan would have done better to have remained at home
that evening, for Gerald was in a bitter mood. He really believed that
he had been treated unjustly by the Faculty in the persons of Mr.
McIntyre and Mr. Collins, and was jealous of Alf and Tom. It seemed
to him to-night that nothing but trouble had fallen to his lot since
his advent at Yardley. The fellows had shown that he wasn’t wanted,
he had been insulted by Thompson and Mr. McIntyre, and, worst blow
of all, Dan was tired of him and spent more of his time at Number 7
Dudley than he did in his own room. Gerald gloomed for a while, and
then took paper and pen and tried to write his mid-week letter to his
father in England. But the sentences wouldn’t shape themselves, and he
soon gave up the effort. He tried to study, but could make nothing of
that, either. So he started to think things over again, and the more
he thought the worse everything appeared to him, until, at last, with
an exclamation of defiance, he strode to his closet and pulled down
his suit-case from the shelf. For the next ten minutes he was busy
packing such of his things as he could take from his chiffonier without
endangering his secret. His brushes and comb, and things of that sort,
he would have to leave until morning, but it wouldn’t take a moment to
drop them in. His preparations completed, he put the bag back on the
shelf and got ready for bed, cheerful and excited. When Dan returned,
just before ten, Gerald was in bed, and apparently fast asleep.



CHAPTER IX

GERALD LEAVES SCHOOL


In the morning Dan was glad to find that Gerald had evidently quite
recovered and was himself again.

“Alf and Tom were sorry you didn’t go over last night,” said Dan. “Alf
says you’re not to forget your boxing lesson Saturday. He says with
about two more lessons he will fix you so you can go and knock spots
out of Kilts.”

Gerald smiled.

“I won’t forget,” he said. “Maybe, though, I’ll give up boxing. I don’t
believe there’s going to be--be any necessity for knowing how.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ve decided to call it off with Thompson,” said Dan.
“I guess he means to behave himself now.”

“I’m going to call it off with other folks, too,” remarked Gerald; with
which cryptic utterance he went off to breakfast.

Dan looked puzzled.

“Now, what did he mean by that?” he asked, half aloud. “I wonder if he
has some new foolishness in his mind.”

To-day, as it happened, Dan’s recitations kept him away from the
room all the morning, except for a half-hour between eleven and
eleven-thirty, at which time, as he knew, Gerald had Latin with Mr.
Collins, and so it was not until after twelve o’clock that the first
suspicion reached him. Then, in front of Oxford, he ran across Joe
Chambers. Joe was one of the sub-editors of the school weekly, _The
Scholiast_, a Third Class fellow who wore glasses, looked cultured to
the best of his ability, and was always on the watch for news for his
paper. He buttonholed Dan at once.

“Say, Vinton, what’s up with Pennimore?”

“Nothing that will make ‘copy’ for you, Chambers. He got into trouble
in class yesterday, and Faculty put him on probation. How did you hear
of it?”

Chambers looked puzzled.

“I didn’t hear of it at all,” he replied. “I didn’t mean that. But I
met him this morning with a big bag, and asked him where he was going,
and he said ‘Home.’ I thought maybe there was something up, you know;
somebody sick or something of that sort. Is there?”

For a moment Dan didn’t answer. He was thinking hard. Then:

“No, there’s nothing wrong at home. What he meant was that he was going
down to Sound View. He took a lot of things over there to get them
out of the way. The closets in Clarke are so tiny that there isn’t
room for much of anything. Well, I must be getting on. Of course, you
needn’t say anything about Gerald’s being on probation. He’s sort of
thin-skinned, you know.”

“I won’t mention it,” answered Chambers earnestly. “Much obliged.” Dan
nodded and Chambers hurried away.

For a moment Dan stood there at a loss. He had not the least doubt
that Gerald had left school. He recalled his manner before breakfast,
that mysterious remark of his. But he could easily make certain. He
hurried across to Clarke and raced up the stairs. The top of Gerald’s
chiffonier was clear of toilet articles, many of his shirts and
undergarments were missing from the drawers, his suit-case was gone
from the closet shelf. Dan looked at his watch, went to his top drawer
and took out a little japanned tin box which he unlocked with a key on
his watch chain. From the box he took a little roll of money. Placing
this carefully in a vest pocket, he made his way downstairs again. Once
outside he walked slowly and loiteringly to The Prospect and turned
into the path leading across the railroad track and through the woods.
But once out of sight of the school he broke into a trot. Where the
wood paths diverged he kept to the right, and was soon hurrying along
beside a high rustic fence which marked the boundary of the Pennimore
estate. Presently he reached a spot where a number of the palings had
been torn away. In the Fall Gerald and he had used this route to and
from the school as it was much shorter than the way which led around
by the roads. Dan squirmed through the hole and sped across the turf.
Presently he was on the drive and the big stone residence was in front
of him. The curtains were down at all the windows and the place looked
utterly deserted, but he crossed the terrace and rang the bell beside
the wide door. After a while the door opened and a wrinkled caretaker
put her head out.

“I’m looking for Gerald,” Dan explained. “I thought maybe he was here:
Is he?”

“No, sir, he ain’t here. I ain’t seen him since last week.”

“You--you’re sure?” asked Dan anxiously.

“Yes, sir. He couldn’t get in without my knowing it, sir. There ain’t
nothin’ happened to him, sir, has there?”

“No, no, but I couldn’t find him, and one of the fellows said he’d seen
him coming this way. I’m much obliged.” And Dan turned toward the main
drive which led to the Lodge and the gates, and so to the village road.
At the Lodge he asked again, but the gardener’s wife declared that
Gerald hadn’t entered the gates that day.

“Well, if you should see him, I wish you’d tell him that I want to see
him on a very important matter. I’m his roommate at school, you know.”

“Yes, sir, very well, sir, I’ll be sure and tell him.”

Dan hurried through the gates and along the road which leads to the
station. He had not expected to find Gerald at Sound View, and so was
not disappointed. He looked at his watch and increased his pace. Some
distance away the noon express whistled for the station. Dan reached
the train just as the conductor raised his hand in signal to the
engineer. He sank into a seat in one of the day coaches and got his
breath back. When the conductor came through Dan paid his fare, and
asked when the train was due in New York.

“Three-thirty,” was the reply.

It would be quick work, thought Dan. He must get to Gerald’s house,
persuade Gerald to return, and then reach the station in time for the
five o’clock train back to Wissining. That would bring them to the
school at about a quarter before eight and if all went well there was
no reason why any one should suspect their absence. But to take a
later train would be to court disaster, since they would reach the
school long after ten o’clock, and would be almost certain to be
discovered. An hour and a half was mighty little time, Dan thought
anxiously, in which to reach the Pennimore house, show Gerald the error
of his ways, and return to the station. But he believed he could do it.
If only the train was on time! Dan pulled out the rest of his money
and counted it over. There wasn’t a great deal of it, but it ought to
do. He was good and hungry by now, and the waiter’s announcement of
“Dinner now ready in the dining car!” found at least one sympathetic
listener. But dinner in the dining car meant parting from a whole
dollar, and Dan’s finances wouldn’t stand that. At New Haven, however,
he jumped out and bought a cup of coffee, a sandwich and three bananas.
He managed to get through with the coffee and sandwich while the train
waited, but the bananas were taken on board and lasted for several
miles. After that he felt more cheerful and looked forward quite
optimistically to his task ahead. He squandered another ten cents
on a magazine and managed to pass the rest of the journey without
difficulty. The train rolled into the big station just on time, and Dan
was off it and racing up the platform before it had come to a stop.
There was no time to lose.

His plans were all made, and it only remained to carry them out.
During his visit to the city with Gerald he had made the acquaintance
of taxicabs, and now he climbed into one with a nonchalant air, and
gave the driver the address. But, although he lolled back in the seat
as though taxicabs were an everyday occurrence with him, he kept an
anxious eye on the meter as they sped uptown. It was simply scandalous
the way that thing acted! Every time he turned his head away for a
moment it added another ten cents to his indebtedness! But he made the
trip for a dollar and twenty cents, not including the ten cents he
gave the driver, and was delighted to find that it was still only ten
minutes to four when he rang the door-bell.

“Will you ask Gerald if I can see him, please?”

The man, who remembered Dan, smiled discreetly and conducted him
into the little reception room. Then he went away, and Dan, left to
the depressing silence of the house, tried to nerve himself for the
encounter.

Gerald was upstairs in the library trying to write a letter to his
father. He had been home three hours, had lunched all alone in the
big dining room, had unpacked his bag, and was now far from happy. It
promised to be very lonely there, with only the servants to talk to.
There were moments when he heartily wished himself back at school, but
he had no intention of returning. His pride wouldn’t allow that. Just
now he was trying, in his half-written letter, to persuade his father
to let him join him abroad, something he was quite certain his father
would not do. He had written a truthful, if somewhat biased, account of
the events leading to his flight from school, and all the time he was
wondering uneasily what his father would think of him. He was pretty
sure his father wouldn’t insist on his returning to Yardley, and he
didn’t quite know whether to be glad of this or sorry. If he didn’t go
back to school and didn’t join his father abroad, what was to become of
him? It wasn’t at all likely that he would be allowed to remain alone
here with the servants. The only alternative Gerald could think of was
a visit to some distant relations in Virginia. And that--why, that
would be worse than school.

He wondered whether Dan had discovered his absence yet; wondered what
he would think and do; whether he would be sorry. Gerald accused Dan
of being tired of him, and he almost meant it, but he knew well enough
that Dan would feel badly about his leaving. Probably there would
be a letter from Dan in the morning, thought Gerald, brightening
up a little. That was something to look forward to. He was mighty
fond of Dan, and if Dan had only not deserted him for Loring and Tom
Dyer-- But that was all over with now. He had tried to write a note
to Dan before leaving, but it had proved a difficult task, and he had
finally abandoned it. But he would write this evening. He began to
consider what he would say. He would be very dignified in it. Dan must
understand that he was no longer a baby, and that when he once made
up his mind he stuck to it. Perhaps he would begin the letter “Dear
Vinton,” just to show Dan that all was at an end between them. Perhaps,
however, Dan might not like that, and would get huffy and not come to
see him any more! On second thoughts, he guessed he wouldn’t start
it that way. But he would let Dan understand that it would be quite
useless for the latter to try and persuade him to return to Yardley. Of
course, if Dan cared to write to him now and then, Gerald would be glad
to hear what was going on at school, and would reply and tell Dan about
the fine times he was having in New York.

Gerald paused there in his thoughts and looked out of the two great,
heavily-draped windows. It was a gray afternoon, hinting of snow, and
the view of the roofs and chimneys was cheerless and dispiriting. It
suddenly came over him that he hated New York and everything in it,
and--and yes, he did! He wished like anything that he was back at
Yardley!

“Mr. Vinton to see you, Mr. Gerald.”

“_What?_” cried Gerald, amazed and delighted. “_Who_, Thomas?”

“Mr. Vinton, sir; Mr. Dan; the young gentleman who--”

Gerald leaped from his chair and started toward the door. Then
he remembered. He stopped and went back to his seat at the big,
broad-topped table.

“Ask Mr. Vinton to come up here, Thomas,” he said with great dignity.

“Very good, sir,” replied Thomas impassively. But outside in the hall
he grinned.

Gerald waited with fast-beating heart. Dan had come after him! Why had
he done that unless--unless he did care, after all? Perhaps, though,
the Faculty had sent him to bring him back. Gerald hardened his heart
again. He heard the elevator door open and then quick steps came along
the corridor. Thomas held aside the curtains.

“Mr. Vinton,” he murmured.

“Hello, Dan,” greeted Gerald. He tried to speak carelessly, but his
voice trembled in spite of his efforts. He got up leisurely from his
chair and leaned against the table, smiling, awaiting Dan.

Dan crossed the room briskly, his watch in his hand. The time was five
minutes to four.

“Hello,” he replied in business-like tones. “Have you unpacked your
things yet?”

“Why, yes.”

Dan turned. Thomas, who had lingered discreetly at the door, was just
disappearing.

“Wait a bit,” called Dan. “What’s his name?” he asked Gerald.

“Thomas,” replied Gerald in surprise.

“Thomas, will you please pack Mr. Gerald’s suit-case again as soon as
you can? He’s going back with me on the five o’clock train.”

[Illustration: “‘He’s going back with me on the five o’clock train.’”]

“Yes, sir,” replied Thomas.

“And is there anything we could have to take us to the station, Thomas?”

“There’s the electric, sir. Shall I telephone for that? About twenty
minutes of five, sir?” Thomas looked inquiringly from Dan to Gerald.
But it was Dan who was giving the orders. Gerald’s presence of mind
seemed to have deserted him.

“Please do,” answered Dan. “Better say twenty-five minutes of, though,
Thomas. Thank you.”

Thomas gave another doubtful glance at Gerald and disappeared. The
curtains fell behind him. Dan turned to Gerald.

“There’s plenty of time to get that train,” he said briskly. “It will
get us in Wissining at seven-thirty, and we can be back at school by a
quarter to eight. No one will know we’ve been away unless we tell them.”

“I’m not going back,” said Gerald sullenly.

Dan paid no heed.

“What did you do such a stupid thing for, Gerald?” he asked gently.
“You might have got into all sorts of trouble.”

“Trouble!” sneered Gerald. “I guess I’ve had trouble, haven’t I? I
guess a little more won’t matter. Besides, they can’t do anything to me
here. I’ve left school.”

“Oh, no, you haven’t. You can’t leave school just by running away.
Faculty can bring you back, Gerald, if it wants to. Until your father
withdraws you from Yardley, you are a Yardley student and under the
control of the Faculty. Of course I don’t know that they will want to
bring you back. They’ll probably just expel you. But that won’t do.
You don’t want them to do that. Your father would be awfully broken up
about it. If you really must leave, the better way is to go back now
before they find it out, and then write to your father to withdraw you.
It will take a couple of weeks, but I guess you can wait that long,
can’t you?”

“I’m not going back,” reiterated Gerald stubbornly. Dan made a gesture
of impatience.

“You are going back,” he replied. “I’m going to take you back. You’re
going back if I have to carry you all the way, and if it takes from now
till Sunday.”

The two boys looked at each other a moment. Then Gerald’s eyes dropped.
There was silence for a moment. Then:

“They’ll know I ran away,” he muttered.

“No, they won’t; not if we go back on the five o’clock train. Joe
Chambers saw you, you know, but I told him you were just going to Sound
View. He will forget all about it. Even if he suspects he will never
say anything. You’ll have to explain missing recitations but you can do
that all right.”

There was another silence. Gerald dug holes with the pen in the
blotter. Finally:

“Faculty didn’t send you after me?” he asked.

“Great Scott, no!” answered Dan impatiently. “I came as soon as I found
out. I went to Sound View first to make sure you weren’t there. Then I
caught the noon train.”

“I don’t see--” began Gerald.

“You don’t see what?” asked Dan as he paused.

“I don’t see why you take so much trouble,” said Gerald.

“Why shouldn’t I?” asked Dan. “Wouldn’t you do as much for me? If you
thought I was making a mighty big mistake and getting myself into a
heap of trouble and disappointing my folks, wouldn’t you take a little
trouble, Gerald?”

“Yes, but--”

“But nothing! It’s all settled. It’s almost half-past, and I’m as
hungry as a bear. Do you suppose there’s anything to eat downstairs? I
didn’t have much money on hand and couldn’t afford dinner on the train.”

“Of course there is,” cried Gerald. “I’ll tell Thomas to get something.
How much time is there?”

“About twelve minutes before we need to start. Here’s Thomas now.”

“The bag’s all ready, Mr. Gerald. I took it down,” announced Thomas.

“That’s all right,” said Gerald eagerly. “And, Thomas, Dan didn’t have
any luncheon. See if you can find something, and bring it up here right
away. There’s only about ten minutes.”

“Very good, sir. Some cold meat, sir, and a glass of milk and some
fruit? Shall I have them make tea or coffee?”

“No, thanks,” replied Dan. “A slice of meat and some bread and butter
will be fine; and the milk. Much obliged, Thomas.”

“Yes, sir. I telephoned to the garage, sir, and the brougham will be
here at twenty-five minutes of. But, begging pardon, sir, it won’t take
more than twelve minutes to get to the station.”

Thomas hurried noiselessly away.

“Have you got any money, Gerald?” asked Dan.

Gerald took out his purse and examined the contents.

“Only eight dollars,” he said.

“That’s plenty,” replied Dan. “I’ve only got about three, and we’ll
have to have supper on the train.”

“That’ll be dandy!” cried Gerald. “Remember the bully feed we had going
home the last time, Dan?”

“Yes, and I remember that we both ate too much. You’d better finish
that letter, Gerald, and get Thomas to post it.”

Gerald hesitated a moment. Then he sat down again, seized the pen and
added three hurried lines to his epistle.

“Dan just came, and wants me to go back. He says no one will know
anything about it. So I’m going. I guess I was a fool. Lovingly,
Gerald.”



CHAPTER X

A VISIT FROM KILTS


It began to clear off about sunset time that evening. To the westward,
beyond Meeker’s Marsh, beyond the distant rolling hills, a gleam of
crimson dispelled the gray for a brief moment. Later, one by one, the
stars came out, and a little wind brushed the sky clear of clouds. It
was a cold, crisp evening, and Mr. McIntyre, looking out for a moment
before he drew the shades in his study, felt the attractions of fresh
air and exercise. Getting into a heavy plaid ulster, settling his funny
round cloth hat on his head, and taking his big Scotch oak walking
stick in hand, Kilts turned down his light and left the building.

He had been expecting some books by express for several days, and now
he would just walk down to the station and see if they were there.
He was a good walker, and once clear of the school grounds, he swung
his stick and stepped out vigorously. Overhead the millions of stars
sparkled whitely in a purple-black sky, shedding a faint radiance over
the snowy road and fields. Perhaps memory brought recollections of
just such tingling nights at home in the lowlands of Scotland, for he
paused once for a long while at the edge of the road and gazed off
across the fields and sighed ere he went on his way again.

At the station he found that his package had not yet been received.
As he turned to retrace his steps a long whistle reached him through
the silence, and he paused at the corner of the station to watch the
train come in. He always enjoyed that. He liked to see the glare sweep
down the track, listen to the mighty breath of the great iron monster
hurling itself out of the night, watch the lighted windows as they
flashed by, and wonder, as folks will who are quite out of the world of
travel, who were beyond them and why. Even an instructor of mathematics
may have imagination. But instead of thundering by, the train slackened
pace and came to a stop. Only a handful of travelers alighted, and they
were soon swallowed up in the semi-darkness outside the radius of the
station lights.

But two of the alighting travelers interested him. They were boys, and
Kilts believed that he recognized one of them. This one, the taller and
larger of the pair, passed not far from where Kilts stood. He carried
a suit-case into the station, and presently emerged without it. Then
he joined his companion, who was awaiting him in the shadow at the
farther end of the platform, and together they passed around to where
the carriages stood. Kilts, with no idea of spying, but merely to
satisfy a mild curiosity, went around the station at the other end and
walked down the asphalt there until he was within a few yards of the
carriage into which the two boys were clambering. He was right. The
larger of the two was Vinton. He wondered where that youth had been
to be returning to school so long after supper time. He recollected,
too, that Vinton had been absent from his class that afternoon. It
was quite likely, however, that he had permission to leave school,
Kilts reflected. Then the incident of the bag presented itself. Why
had Vinton left his bag at the station, since he had ridden up in
a carriage? That looked suspicious. Kilts wasn’t one to look for
trouble, but it seemed to him that here was something that would bear
investigation. He resolved to stop at the Office on his way to his room
and see whether Vinton had received permission to sign off.

Meanwhile the carriage containing the boys was rattling along over the
snowy, rutted road. Dan seemed suddenly very silent, and Gerald, who,
ever since his capitulation, had been in the highest spirits, wondered,
and presently asked the reason. After a moment’s hesitation Dan
answered:

“Kilts was down there at the station, Gerald, and I’m pretty certain he
recognized me.”

“Do you think he will tell?” asked Gerald anxiously.

“I don’t know. He saw me take your bag into the station. He was
standing at the corner. I didn’t notice him until I came out, and
I wasn’t certain then who he was. But he followed us around to the
carriage. I hope he didn’t see you to know you.”

“So do I,” said Gerald. “He’s got it in for me badly enough as it is.
But I hope you won’t get into trouble.”

“It won’t matter as long as he doesn’t find out who you are,” Dan
replied. Then he moved forward and engaged the driver in conversation,
swearing that worthy to secrecy. They dismissed the carriage at the
foot of the hill and walked up to school by way of the path. Their
precaution, however, proved unnecessary, for no one was in sight as
they made their way to Clarke. Nor did they meet a single person on
their way up the stairs and through the hall. Dan heaved a sigh of
relief as he closed the room door behind him. If Kilts didn’t prove
troublesome everything was all right.

“Jove!” he said as he took off his coat and looked curiously around the
room. “It seems like two or three days since I was here last. And I’ve
only been away eight hours! Get your things off, Gerald, and we’ll get
to work. What’s going to trouble you most to-morrow? You missed all
your recitations to-day, I suppose?”

“Yes,” Gerald answered, “but algebra is the only thing I’m afraid of.”

“All right. Get your books together and sit down. We’ll go over the
lesson together. I suppose you’ll have about five pages more to-morrow,
eh?” Dan brought his chair around beside Gerald’s. “This doesn’t look
awfully difficult. I don’t believe you really get your mind on it,
Gerald. Here, try this one and see how it goes. While you’re doing it
I’ll glance through my French.”

They were both studying very hard when, some twenty minutes later,
there came a knock at the door.

“Come,” called Dan, darting an apprehensive glance at his companion.
The door opened and in walked Kilts. The boys jumped to their feet.

“Good evening,” said Dan. “Will you sit down, sir?”

Kilts was tall and lean, his clean-shaven face surmounted by an unruly
shock of iron-gray hair. His eyes--they might have been gray or
blue--were deeply set and sharp as two gimlets. In age he was about
fifty. He still wore his queer old plaid ulster, without which he was
seldom seen abroad, no matter the season, and carried his cloth hat and
his stick in his hand. He answered Dan’s greeting, bowed to Gerald and
took the chair offered, settling his stick across his knees and laying
his hat carefully atop. Then with a glance about the room he smoothed
one lean cheek with his hand and fixed his gaze on Dan.

“I’m not wanting to be here, Vinton,” he said gravely but kindly. “But
I’ve got a question to ask you. I saw you at the station awhile ago,
eh?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Dan.

“You’d been away?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Without permission?”

“Yes, sir.”

Kilts’ gaze moved to Gerald, who, in his chair at the desk, was looking
intently at his book.

“There was a boy with you?”

Dan hesitated a moment. Then:

“Yes, sir,” he answered.

“Who was he?”

“I’d rather not say, Mr. McIntyre.”

“Hum,” grunted Kilts. There was a moment of silence. Gerald took up a
pencil and began scrawling nervously on the margin of his book. Kilts
cleared his throat. “Well, I’m sorry. I’ll have to report this, Vinton.
You understand that?”

“Yes, sir. And--I’m sorry, too.”

“Well, well, maybe ’twill not be so bad. If you’re sorry, now, likely--”

“What I meant was,” said Dan with a smile, “that I was sorry for you,
sir.”

“Eh? Sorry for me?” Mr. McIntyre’s thick, grizzled eyebrows snapped
together.

“Why, yes, sir. I know you don’t like to have to report fellows,”
answered Dan.

“Hum! Well, no more I do, Vinton.” Kilts frowned, glanced at Gerald
and glanced away again. “Maybe there were circumstances, Vinton, that
extenuate your action,” he said finally with a hopeful note in his
voice. “Maybe, now, ’twas illness in the family; maybe ’twas necessary
for you to leave school suddenly--”

“It was, sir, very necessary,” replied Dan, “but it had nothing to do
with my family.”

“Well, well, maybe if you’d be telling me about it, now--”

“I’m afraid I can’t, sir,” said Dan regretfully. “I wish I could. But
it concerns someone else.”

“Then you’re afraid you might get him into trouble?”

“Y-yes, sir.” He paused. Then he said frankly; “The fact, sir, is that
it was necessary for me to go to New York on the noon train; I can’t
tell you why it was necessary; and I only learned that I had to go just
a few minutes before the train left. The train was moving when I got on
it. So there was no time to get permission and sign off. I knew it was
against the rules, sir, but I couldn’t very well do anything else.”

“Well, well, it’s too bad,” said Kilts, “too bad! But I’ll speak a good
word for you. I would not be surprised if we were lenient, Vinton. As
for the other boy, now--” Kilts very carefully refrained from even a
glance toward Gerald--“why, I don’t know who he may be, and so I don’t
feel called on to mention him. But he must promise not to do anything
of the kind again. Do you think he will promise that?”

“I’m sure of it,” replied Dan earnestly and gratefully.

Kilts nodded.

“Good! Then I’ll say good-night. I fear I’ve kept you from study too
long already.” Mr. McIntyre took up his stick and hat and prepared to
rise, but Dan interrupted.

“Mr. McIntyre, sir, just a moment, please,” he begged. “I--I--there’s
something else, sir.”

Kilts laid his stick back across his knees and threw aside his ulster
again.

“Well?” he asked. Dan was silent a moment, formulating his thoughts.
Then:

“This other boy, sir,” he said, “it’s about him.” Kilts nodded and
Gerald stirred uneasily at the table. “You don’t know who he is, sir,
as you say, and so he--he isn’t likely to come into the affair. But I’d
like to tell you a little about him, as it can’t do him any harm.”

“Well, let me hear it,” said Kilts.

“I’ll call him--Moore,” said Dan, “but that isn’t his name. He--he
hasn’t been here very long. This is his first school. He has always
studied with tutors and there are some things he hasn’t got on very
well with. And one of them is mathematics.”

Kilts nodded inscrutably and Gerald leaned closer to his book.

“He’s in algebra now, sir,” Dan continued, “and he’s making hard work
of it. At first he really tried hard to understand it and get along,
but he couldn’t seem to make a go of it. Then he got discouraged and
I’m afraid he didn’t try so hard. You see, sir, there were other things
that were--were unpleasant. Moore’s father is a very prominent man and
a very wealthy one. And when Moore came here a good many of the fellows
took a dislike to him on that account. I suppose they thought that
Moore was stuck-up, although he really isn’t. But he isn’t the sort of
fellow that makes friends easily, sir; he’s a little bit shy. Well,
some of the fellows tried to make it unpleasant for him; called him
‘Miss Nancy’ and ‘Young Money-bags’ and things like that. Well, that
wasn’t pleasant, sir; and then he didn’t have any friends, only two or
three who had known him before he entered school, and he began to think
he was imposed on. Then there was the algebra. He couldn’t seem to make
a go at that; he fancied that the instructor was a bit down on him,
too, and you know that always discourages a fellow, sir.”

“Ay,” grunted Kilts.

“So one day, when he didn’t have his lesson, the instructor lost
patience with him and ragged him in front of the class and Moore
answered back. He hasn’t any excuse for that, sir, and he’s sorry now.
Of course he was reported and he was placed on probation. Well, he
ought to have kept his nerve and steadied down. But instead he sort of
went up in the air; thought everyone was down on him, nobody liked him,
and that he was pretty badly treated. So he made up his mind to--to
cut it out--leave school, you know.”

“Hum,” muttered Kilts as Dan paused an instant.

“The fact is, sir, he really thought that all he had to do was to
go home in order to leave school. He didn’t understand that it was
necessary for his father to withdraw him. He believed that when he left
Wissining the Faculty had nothing more to do with him. What I’m trying
to show you, sir, is that he didn’t mean to disobey rules, but just
quit altogether. Well, a friend of his learned about it three hours
after he had gone. This friend knew that if the Faculty heard of it
they might expel him. So he--he took the first train and went to the
other fellow’s home and found him and brought him back.”

“He was ready to come back?” asked Kilts.

“Yes. He wanted to come back, although he pretended he didn’t. You see,
sir, he--he had an idea that this friend of his had--had grown tired of
him and didn’t care about him any more. When he found that wasn’t so
he was glad to come back. If it would do any good he would go to the
Office and confess what he’d done, but it might result in his being
expelled. He doesn’t need punishment, sir, for he’s had a pretty tough
time of it already, and he won’t ever do anything of the kind again.
I’ve already promised that for him,” added Dan with a smile at the
professor.

For a moment there was silence. Kilts, leaning back in his chair,
observed Dan steadily out of his sharp eyes. Dan stood the ordeal
without a tremor. Then:

“And why have you told me this, Vinton?” asked Kilts suddenly.

“Because Moore is back here now, sir, and he intends to do the best he
can in everything, especially algebra. And I wanted you to know, sir,
that if he doesn’t get on very well it isn’t because he isn’t trying.
I’m going to help him all I can, sir,” said Dan earnestly. “I was going
over the lesson with him when you--”

Gerald’s pencil rolled to the floor and Dan brought himself up with
a jerk. But the only sign from Kilts was a momentary twinkle of the
deep-set eyes.

“And so he thinks the instructor is down on him, eh?” asked Mr.
McIntyre.

“He did think so, but I--but his friend made him understand that he was
wrong.”

“Really, and how did his friend do that? What did he say now, Vinton?”

“He said,” replied Dan gravely, “that the instructor was hard on
fellows when he thought they weren’t trying to get on; that he was a
good deal like anyone else, sir; had a temper--”

“Hum!” grunted Kilts.

“And lost it sometimes, like most folks. But that he was square and
just and would treat a fellow white if the fellow showed that he was
trying to do his work.”

Kilts seemed for the moment at a loss for something to say. Then he
cleared his throat.

“Well, and what did he say?” asked Kilts, with a nod toward Gerald.

“You mean what did _Moore_ say?” asked Dan politely.

“Yes, Moore; what did he say?”

“Well, he didn’t say much, sir; but he understood.”

“You think he did, eh? Think he believed you--I mean this friend of
his?”

“Yes, sir, I’m quite sure he did.”

Kilts was silent a moment. Finally:

“Then you tell him that that instructor will give him fair-play. Tell
him to do his best and not be touchy when the instructor loses that bad
temper of his.”

“Thank you, sir, I will,” answered Dan gratefully. Mr. McIntyre got up
with a grunt that might have meant most anything and began to button
his ulster about his gaunt form. In the process his feet wandered
toward the table. Gerald kept his head over his book.

“Ah--hum--that your algebra, Pennimore?” asked Kilts, pointing at the
book.

“Yes, sir,” murmured Gerald without looking up.

“Been--been looking it over, have you?”

“Yes, sir, a little.”

“Hm. I didn’t see you in class this morning, did I?”

“Er--no, sir.”

“Thought so. Well, to-morrow we take--let me see.” Kilts laid his stick
and hat on the table and leaned over the book. “Yes, we take four pages
and a half. To here. Mark it there. That’s right. Had any trouble with
it so far?”

Gerald shot a bewildered look across at Dan’s smiling countenance and
read reassurance.

“Yes, sir, I have. I--I don’t seem to understand it, sir,” he added
pathetically.

“Because you don’t try to!” said Kilts with a trace of asperity.
“You’ve just made up your mind that algebra is something you don’t need
and that you’ll just fiddle through it the easiest way; just learn
enough to get your marks. I know. Half you fellows think that. You
don’t any of you understand that mathematics is a grand study. Why, you
talk about romance, my boy! Here it is, right here!” And he thumped
the open book with the back of one big hand. “The Romance of Figures!
Why, ’tis a wonderful, marvelous thing, my lad, this mathematics. ’Tis
as full of romance and beauty as a garden of flowers! You don’t look
beyond the surface; you don’t think! An’ ye go at it right, laddie,
with open eyes and an open heart ye’ll love it!”

Kilts stopped and shook his head patiently.

“But ye won’t believe me. I know. You’re like the rest. You think I’m
just an old fool with a hobby for figures, a dried-up old curmudgeon
with no feelings, and no manners--”

“Oh, please, sir!” begged Gerald miserably.

“There, there, laddie! ’Twas ill said! Think no more of it!” Kilts
patted the boy’s shoulder and smiled down kindly at his distressed
face. “Now show me what you don’t understand.” He looked around for
a chair, and Dan, anticipating his want, placed one for him. Kilts
produced his glasses from his pocket, unceremoniously pushed the litter
of books and papers away from in front of him so that several would
have fallen to the floor had not Dan rescued them in time and drew the
algebra toward him. “What is it that’s puzzling that young brain of
yours, my boy?”

Dan went quietly to his chair across the table and bent over his
French. But he didn’t do much studying. The voices of Kilts and Gerald
broke the silence at intervals, Gerald’s apologetic, inquiring, Kilts’
patient, persuasive. Half an hour went by. Then:

“What did I say?” exclaimed Mr. McIntyre triumphantly. “Concentrate,
concentrate, Pennimore! Put your mind on what you’re doing. There’s not
an example in that whole book that won’t come just as easy as that one
has, if you put your mind to it. Look now, laddie, that’s not just a
mess of little figures; ’tis a story, a little romance waiting for you
to translate it. Remember that, lad, and maybe ’twill come easier.”

“Thank you very much, sir,” said Gerald gratefully. “I--I don’t think
I’ll have so much trouble after this, sir. Anyhow, I’m going to try
very hard, sir.”

“That’s right, that’s right,” answered Kilts, patting him on the arm
as he lifted his long length out of the chair. “Put your mind on it;
concentrate, concentrate! You’ll do finely yet. Good-night, good-night,
boys.”

“Good-night, sir,” they echoed. Dan went to the door with the
instructor and held it open.

“I’ll report to the Office to-morrow, sir,” he said.

“Eh? Well, well, I wouldn’t do that,” said Kilts slowly. There was
a twinkle in his eye. “Wait ’till you hear, Vinton, wait ’till you
hear.” He lowered his voice. “Fact is, my boy, I’m getting along and
my memory isn’t what it used to be. I might forget; there’s no telling.
Yes, I might forget.”

And Kilts went off down the corridor. Dan thought that he heard a
chuckle.



CHAPTER XI

HOCKEY AT BROADWOOD


Kilts must have forgot. For although Dan waited, the summons from the
Office didn’t come; and what might have resulted in a very serious
piece of business for both Dan and Gerald brought no disagreeable
consequences. More than that, the episode actually benefited Gerald,
and in more ways than one. It brought him and Dan closer together,
increasing their companionship; it cleared the air, Gerald wisely
deciding to wipe out old scores and start again with a clean slate; it
worked an immediate change in the boy’s attitude toward Mr. McIntyre in
particular and school authority in general; and it brought about a more
sympathetic relationship between Gerald and mathematics.

I don’t mean to imply that Gerald at once became the star student in
his algebra class. He never reached any such pinnacle of success. He
never succeeded in viewing algebra with Mr. McIntyre’s enthusiastic
eyes. But he put his mind on it with good results and soon found that
it was not the dreadful bogy he had fancied. Perhaps the fact that he
had discovered his instructor to be human and likable and sympathetic
had a good deal to do with his success, and lots of times when he
would have gladly thrown aside his algebra in despair he pegged away
at it from the mere desire to please Kilts and show him that he was
not ungrateful. And the instructor showed that he understood and was
pleased. If the truth were known, Kilts gave more credit to the boy who
worked hard for his D than to the boy who, with a natural aptitude for
mathematics, secured his B with scant labor. But Kilts showed Gerald no
favors when it came to marks. No one who knew Kilts would have expected
it. Nor did Gerald. Gerald knew that his D’s--and very occasional
C’s--were his deserts, neither more nor less. But with algebra no
longer haunting him like a nightmare, his other studies came easier,
and Gerald began to think that perhaps, after all, there was a place
for him in the school life.

Dan had, you may be certain, given an account of Gerald’s attempted
escape from his troubles to Alf and Tom. The comment of each was
typical. Alf, with his impatience for all things weak and futile,
immediately dubbed Gerald “a silly ass.” Tom, big-hearted and
sympathetic, declared that he had showed grit if not judgment.

“Of course it was a foolish thing to do,” he said, “but lots of chaps
wouldn’t have had the courage to do it. They’d have just sat around and
been miserable and unhappy.”

“That’s all right,” said Alf, “but if Faculty had caught him it would
have been all up. It was the craziest thing I ever heard of. Somebody’s
got to pump some sense into that kid, Dan.”

“Oh, he won’t cut up that way again,” Dan replied. “I think it’s done
him good. And old Kilts acting the way he did helped a lot. Gerald had
got it into his head that Kilts and Collins and the whole Faculty were
sitting up nights trying to devise ways to make trouble for him. Now he
thinks that Kilts is just about right, and that has given him hope for
the rest of them. I’m not sure, but I think Gerald’s going to settle
down now and take things easier.”

“Sure to,” said Tom. “It’s like Cæsar Augustus.”

“Who’s he?” asked Dan and Alf in a breath.

“He _was_ a dog. Now he’s a dog-angel. I had him when I was just a
youngster.”

“Listen to the doddering, decrepit old idiot,” observed Alf in an aside.

“He was just a puppy when I got him; about three months old. Don’t ask
me what sort of a dog he was, for no one ever knew. In fact, it was
such a mystery that no one ever dared to guess. Well, Cæsar Augustus
used to trouble about the cat when he first came. The cat was an old,
experienced codger and used to sit on the kitchen windowsill, where
the cook kept her geraniums, and blink and purr all day long. Cæsar
Augustus lived under the stove, except when I dragged him out by the
nape of the neck and poured milk down his throat. For we just had to
make him eat. He’d sit there with his head sticking out and watch the
cat for hours, and tremble and whine and get thin and pine away. You
see, that cat worried him silly. He couldn’t understand her; didn’t
know what she was made for, what she was good for or anything else.
That went on for about a month. Then, driven to desperation one day,
Cæsar Augustus crawled out from under the stove and went for the cat.
Cook and I rescued him after he’d made about six trips around the room
with the cat on his back. We washed the blood off, smeared his wounds
with mutton tallow and fed him raw steak to heal his sorrow. Sorrow! He
didn’t have any! He was happy as a lark, rolled over and played, ate
his steak as though he’d been living on it for years, and was a changed
dog. Never had an unhappy moment afterwards.”

“Well,” laughed Alf, “and what’s the moral--the lesson to be derived
from your charming tale?”

“The moral,” replied Tom, “is; When anything troubles you take a fall
out of it. It may hurt for a while, but you’re a lot better for it
afterwards.”

“And you think Gerald’s like Cæsar Augustus?” asked Dan.

“Sure. The whole scheme of things here was troubling him. He didn’t
understand authority; didn’t know whether it could bite or not. So he
had a show-down. Now he knows where he stands. He will come out from
under the stove now; you see if he doesn’t.”

“Oh, you’re an idiot,” said Alf. “The trouble is with him, Dan, he
thinks he’s a blooming philosopher. But he may be right--for once.
I don’t know. Anyhow, you tell Gerald to come over Saturday for his
boxing lesson.”

“Well, but there’s no reason why you should be bored with him every
week, Alf. If he wants any more lessons I’ll attend to him. I don’t
know anything about it, but he will be just as satisfied, I dare say.”

“You think so, do you?” asked Alf indignantly. “Let me tell you that
that kid is going to be a boxer. Why, he knows more about using his
hands now than half the fellows in school. Don’t you worry about my
being bored, old man. In a month or so I’ll have to go my hardest to
keep him from knocking my head off!”

“Why doesn’t he get to know more fellows?” puzzled Tom.

“I don’t know, really,” Dan answered. “He’s sort of quiet until you
know him real well, but I should think he’d get acquainted better. He
meets a good many fellows every day in class and around school. I don’t
believe he has more than a nodding acquaintance with any of the fellows
at his table. I don’t know what the trouble is.”

“He isn’t a good ‘mixer,’” said Alf. “What we’ll have to do is to
take him in hand, fellows. Look here, Dan, bring him up to Cambridge
Saturday night for the debate, and we’ll introduce him to a few
fellows. And Tom can have him over to Oxford now and then. The rules
won’t let us introduce him more than once a month, but if Tom takes him
to one meeting and we take him to another that’ll be twice.”

“I’d like to get him into Cambridge,” said Dan, “but the election
doesn’t come until May, does it?”

“No,” answered Tom. “But while you’re about it, why don’t you try and
get the poor chap into a decent society? If you like, I’ll propose him
for Oxford.”

A howl arose from the others, both of whom were members of Cambridge,
and in a moment Gerald’s welfare was lost sight of in a good-natured
but fierce discussion of the relative merits of the rival debating
societies.

Gerald was quite pleased at the idea of accompanying Dan and Alf to one
of the Saturday night meetings of the Cambridge Debating Society, and
thoroughly enjoyed the proceedings when he went. The two societies had
rooms on the top floor of Oxford Hall. Actually, there was not much
to choose between them, although the members of each could flaunt all
sorts of arguments in favor of their own particular choice. Cambridge
had of late years won a majority of the Inter-Society Debates, held
in December and June of each year. But Oxford fellows made light of
that claim to superiority and pointed out with pride that Oxford was
the older society by a dozen years. Also, they were sure to tell you,
Oxford had a real combination billiard and pool table! Whereupon, if
you owed allegiance to the Light Blue, you scoffed and declared that
the table was so old and its legs so weak that fellows had to hold it
in their laps while they played on it!

Secret organizations were prohibited at Yardley--although now and
then faint whispers of such organizations were wafted about--and so
almost every fellow sooner or later accepted an invitation from Oxford
or Cambridge. While they were supposed to be debating clubs, and in a
measure justified the title, they were in reality far more social in
character. The rooms of each society were comfortably furnished and the
fellows met there during the day, but especially in the evenings, to
chat, read, or play games. The debates took place on Saturday evenings,
and it was to one of these that Gerald was taken.

On this occasion the subject in discussion was the elective system in
colleges. It seemed something of a shame to Gerald that the presidents
of the principal universities were not present, for he was certain
some very brilliant things were said on both sides. Personally his
sympathies were with the contestants who spoke in favor of the system,
but that was because he had been introduced to Oliver Colton, last
Fall’s football captain, by Dan before the meeting, and Colton was the
most brilliant speaker for the affirmative side.

After the debate was over and the Judge, Doctor Frye, professor of
physics, had rendered his decision in favor of the negative side, the
chairs were pushed aside and the gathering became purely social and
very informal. There was an impromptu concert by several members of
the Musical Club, but those who didn’t want to listen didn’t have to,
although Gerald thought them very impolite for talking while the music
was going on. He was introduced to some of the fellows, not many,
for Dan and Alf didn’t want to appear to be forcing the boy on their
acquaintances. But Gerald met some four or five chaps who were worth
knowing, and they were each quite as polite and interested as the
occasion demanded. On the whole, he had a very pleasant evening and
began to look forward eagerly to the time when he might join Cambridge.

But a week later he found himself in a quandary. For Tom Dyer took him
to a meeting of Oxford, and Gerald had just as good a time--perhaps a
little better, since Tom devoted every moment of his time to putting
him at his ease and entertaining him; and Tom was so big and jolly
and sympathetic that Gerald, who had theretofore been somewhat in awe
of him, fell a captive at once. Here, too, he met new fellows. Joe
Chambers, to whom he had never been introduced but who always spoke to
him, it being part of Joe’s policy to know everyone, was especially
kind and invited him around to his room. And lest Joe might forget the
invitation, Tom took Gerald around there the next afternoon. There
were three other fellows on hand when they arrived and Gerald, partly
by keeping still and not appearing “fresh” or assertive, made a good
impression on them. But, as I have said, this visit to Oxford left him
in a quandary. He told Dan that he didn’t know which society he liked
best and was so troubled about it that Dan comforted him by pointing
out that he still had three months in which to make up his mind and
that it was really idle to bother his head about it now.

Meanwhile February wore away with its rough winds and clouded skies,
and Gerald’s period of probation came to an end, not in time, however,
to allow him to get back his place on the Clarke Hall hockey team. But
if he couldn’t play he could look on and shout, and he did both during
the three matches played. Clarke held her own during the first two
contests and was picked by the School at large to win the championship.
But her pride met a fall when she faced Dudley in the deciding game,
for Dudley romped away an easy winner, much to Gerald’s sorrow.

The ’Varsity Hockey Team won and lost about equally. The team got to
be something of a joke that year, and it was a common thing to hear a
fellow shout to another; “Oh, Jim, come on and let’s go down and see
the hockey team lose!” Just what the matter was no one seemed to know,
although there were plenty of theories advanced.

The players were quite as good as those of the year before, when
Yardley had won seven games out of nine played, and her schedule was
no more difficult. The captain was popular and worked hard. But the
fellows got injured in the most unlikely ways just before a game, or a
strange demoralization would seize upon the team at some critical point
in a contest, or one of the stars would lose his temper for no good
reason and get sent off by the referee just when his services were most
needed.

Dan had had hopes of trying for the team at first and Alf had
encouraged him. Alf played point on the team and was one of the
steadiest of the seven. But a few days on the river had convinced Dan
that he was too poor a performer on runners to make the hockey team,
this year at least. He was very uncertain on his skates and was more
often losing his balance or denting the ice than really skating. In the
end, Alf was forced to admit that it would be as well for him to wait
another year before trying for the team.

The final game was with Broadwood Academy and was played on the rival’s
rink at Broadwood. Dan and Gerald and Tom were among the sixty-odd
boys who accompanied the team. Broadwood has been Yardley’s principal
rival for many years. To reach Broadwood from Wissining you cross
the carriage bridge beyond the station and, keeping to the right,
take the county road which runs inland and westward toward the hills.
The academy lies some three miles from the depot at Greenburg and is
perched on the slope of a long, wooded hill, with fields and farm below
it and acres of forest behind. It is a comparatively new school and its
buildings are handsome and up-to-date. Broadwood usually has about two
hundred and thirty students, and a large proportion of her graduates
enter Princeton.

The Yardley contingent traveled thither in two big “barges,” and
had a merry time of it. The team went to the gymnasium to change
their clothes, and the rest of the party wandered around the grounds
sight-seeing. It is part of the Yardley creed to pretend to find no
good in Broadwood, and so even the best of the buildings received
disparaging criticisms. Of course, if there happened to be Broadwood
fellows within hearing distance the criticisms were subdued; good taste
demanded that much. But when their remarks could not be overheard the
Yardley visitors indulged in sarcasm and disparagement to their hearts’
content.

“What’s this hovel?” asked Joe Chambers as the party drew up in front
of Knowles Hall, the finest building of all. Someone supplied the
desired information.

“Knowles Hall?” said Joe. “Well, Knowles ought to try again. Looks
like a cross between a circus tent and a Turkish mosque. Get on to the
lanterns in front, fellows! Aren’t they the limit?”

“Don’t make light of them,” begged some one.

“What is it, anyhow? A dormitory or a recitation hall?” asked Joe.

“Search me,” answered Paul Rand. “There’s a Broadwood fellow over
there. Let’s ask him. He probably Knowles Hall about it.”

While the laughter elicited by this witticism was still convulsing the
crowd, four Broadwood fellows came through the doorway and descended
the steps, viewing the sightseers with surprise and curiosity.

“Well, it’s certainly a beautiful building,” said Joe loudly and
earnestly.

“I never saw a finer one,” agreed Rand. “But then, Broadwood is full of
beautiful things.”

“It’s a real privilege to live here,” continued Joe. “No wonder we see
so many, many happy faces!”

The Broadwood youths frowned suspiciously as they passed, and one of
them let fall a remark about “fresh guys.” But Yardley only chuckled.

“I think it’s a very fine building,” ventured Gerald in a puzzled tone
to Tom Dyer. Tom laughed.

“It is,” he whispered, “but you’re not supposed to say so!”

The party passed on to view the gymnasium and one of the fellows
expressed a desire to see the trophy room.

“I’ve heard a lot about the Broadwood trophy room,” he explained. “They
say there’s a fine collection of croquet balls and checkers in it!”

While this joke was being passed around, the two hockey teams emerged,
and the Yardley crowd followed them down to the rink, an expanse of
ice secured by flooding the tennis courts. That game was a farce in
more ways than one. In the first place the ice was rotten and before
the game was five minutes old the surface was badly cut up and covered
with loose ice and slush. Broadwood showed herself more accustomed to
such conditions than her rival, and wasn’t greatly bothered. On the
other hand, Yardley, used to thick, hard ice of the river, floundered
about, as Tom said, like hens in a snow bank. Then, to make matters
worse, Yardley was outplayed from the first whistle, and it was only
the really phenomenal work of her goal-tender that prevented her from
being literally swamped in the first half.

The Yardley contingent lined one side of the rink and waved its
blue flags and cheered nobly, but the green of Broadwood was in the
ascendant to-day. The first half ended with the score three to one for
Broadwood, a score that didn’t begin to show the real superiority of
the Green. Alf perched himself on the barrier beside Dan and Gerald and
Tom, rueful and weary. Dan helped him into his sweater.

“Fine, isn’t it?” asked Alf with a grin.

“What’s the matter?” ventured Gerald anxiously.

“Oh, they’re playing all around us. And look at the ice! Did you ever
see such a mess? Why, you can’t slide the puck at all; you’ve got to
lift it every time. And your skates just sink into the ice. Still,
we couldn’t lick them, anyway, to-day. Those forwards of theirs are
dandies, every one of them. Their goal isn’t much, I guess, but the
trouble is we can’t break through to try him.”

“You made one goal, though,” said Dan encouragingly. Alf shrugged his
shoulders.

“It was just luck,” he said. “I’ll bet we don’t score again!”

If Dan had accepted the wager he would have lost. Yardley became
utterly demoralized in the last half; every fellow played for himself
and team work was quite forgotten. The result was that Broadwood,
amidst the cheers of her adherents, piled up six more goals, and the
disastrous contest ended with the score nine to one in favor of the
Green. Broadwood cheered Yardley and Yardley cheered Broadwood and the
visitors ran for the gymnasium. The crowd of Yardley “rooters” were
sad and subdued. Joe Chambers produced the only laugh from the end of
the game to the time they were rattling homeward in the barges when he
declaimed mournfully:

    “Oh, Yardley had a hockey team;
       Its fleece was white as snow.
     It went to play with Broadwood;
       Oh, what an awful blow!”



CHAPTER XII

YARDLEY GETS REVENGE


But Yardley found her revenge in another form of sport.

Tom had succeeded where Paul Rand had failed. Although the managers
of the rival basket-ball teams had failed to reach an agreement the
captains were more successful. Tom had offered to let Broadwood fix
her own dates and name her own grounds for the series of three games,
and Broadwood had promptly got over her peevishness. The Broadwood
captain had politely replied that his team would play the first game at
Broadwood, the second at Yardley and the deciding game, in case of a
tie, at Broadwood. And he fixed the dates to please himself, requiring
that all three contests take place inside of a fortnight in early
March. Rand had held up his hands in holy horror when Tom had shown him
the letter and declared that Tom was several sorts of a fool to accept
such arrangements.

“It’s their turn to play the odd game here,” declared Rand. “Besides,
who ever heard of playing the first two games within three days of
each other?”

“Oh, what does it matter?” asked Tom. “We want to play them, don’t we?
Then what’s the use of haggling about it? I’ll play them any place and
any time, just as I said I would.”

“But,” began Rand, a trifle haughtily, “as manager--”

“Paul,” said Tom, “you’re a good fellow, all right, but you’re a mighty
poor manager.”

And Paul, who, after all, had plenty of sense, recognized the justice
of the charge and said no more.

So one Wednesday evening a large part of Yardley Hall School rode over
to Broadwood and saw Tom’s five defeat the green-stockinged warriors in
their own gymnasium by a score of twelve to nine and came triumphantly
home again in the moonlight chanting pæans of victory and making night
hideous.

“Well, that was going some!” declared Alf radiantly on the way home.
“On their own floor, too!”

“And when they come over here Saturday night you’ll see us do worse
than that to them,” said Tom grimly. “There isn’t going to be any third
game in the series this year.”

And there wasn’t.

Broadwood sent over a good big number of “rooters” armed with flags,
who did noble work with their lungs. But as Yardley had turned out
almost to a man, the odds were too great in a contest of noise. The
gymnasium was packed and jammed, downstairs and up, and the singing and
cheering began half an hour before the time set for the game. Broadwood
used one of her football songs with good effect. The verses didn’t
amount to much, but the refrain, howled by a hundred throats, was
always effective:

    “Oh, what’ll we do to Yardley, to Yardley, to Yardley?
     Oh, what’ll we do to Yardley?
           (An eloquent and dramatic pause.)
     Well, really, I’d rather not say!”

And Yardley hurled back one of her own gridiron odes defiantly:

    “Old Yardley has the men, my boy,
       Old Yardley has the steam,
     Old Yardley has the pluck and sand,
       Old Yardley has the team!
     Old Yardley can’t be beat, my boy,
       She’s bound to win the game!
     So give a cheer for Yardley and
       Hats off to Yardley’s fame!”

Tom, captain and center, played the game of his school life that night.
If one imagined him slow, one had only to watch him for a moment on a
gymnasium floor between the baskets. He was the quickest slow person
that ever imitated a streak of lightning! And he pulled his team along
with him in a way that was beautiful to behold. Things began to happen
right at the start. The first basket came less than a minute after the
whistle had blown, resulting from a wonderful rush down the floor by
Tom and Derrick followed by a swift shot by the latter. Then Broadwood
gathered herself together and tightened up her defense. Her men for
a while covered so closely that not even Tom could get away, and the
ball hovered around the middle of the floor. Then one of the Yardley
players was caught holding and Broadwood, amidst shouts of joy from the
wavers of the green flags, scored a goal from foul. For several minutes
there was no more scoring. Twice Yardley had the ball under her rival’s
basket. Once a poor shot lost them the score. The next time Broadwood
“mixed it up” so strenuously that there was no chance to shoot. Then a
Broadwood boy stole the ball and charged down the hall almost alone.
But the Yardley defense was not napping, and a blue-shirt charged into
the enemy just in time to spoil the throw. After that Broadwood seemed
to get rattled, for Yardley scored thrice from the floor, one basket
by Tom being sent from almost half the length of the gymnasium and
bringing the supporters of the home team to their feet with a roar of
delight. The half ended with the score eight to one, and it looked like
a pretty certain thing for the Yardley five.

But Broadwood still shouted and sang defiantly, and when the teams
lined up and play began again it was soon evident that the Broadwood
coach had been saying things out there in the dressing room. For
Broadwood’s team play began to be in evidence again, and although for
a while she played more on the defense than attack, it was plain to be
seen that Yardley would have to work hard to keep from being scored on.

Broadwood’s chance came in the middle of the period. A well-arranged
rush down the floor, with all her attack taking part, brought the ball
to Yardley’s basket and, although the guards rushed to the rescue,
a tall Broadwood youth managed to shake himself free, reach up, and
almost drop the ball through the mesh. With the score eight to three,
Broadwood felt encouraged and started in to add to her tally. But
Yardley played desperately, if somewhat wildly, and although Broadwood
was now making raid after raid on the Blue’s goal, all her tries were
spoiled. But Yardley twice infringed the rules and from her two free
tries Broadwood secured one goal, increasing her total to four. This
was followed by a double foul, a Broadwood and a Yardley player
becoming rather too enthusiastic in their efforts, and again Broadwood
added one to her tally, Yardley missing the basket by a bare inch. That
made the score five to eight, and Broadwood’s cheers broke forth anew
and a little forest of green flags appeared. The ball went back to
center. Tom clapped his hands.

“Now then, fellows, settle down! No more fouls! Break this up!”

The big round clock over the running gallery showed that something like
six minutes remained as the referee blew his whistle again and the
ball shot into the air. Both centers leaped and struck, and a small
Broadwood youth caught the ball as it came down near the side-line,
squirmed away from his opponent, dribbled a few steps, and passed
across the floor. But the next man was closely covered and the ball
bounded away from him and popped into the eager hands of Tom.

“Cover up! Cover up!” shrieked the Broadwood captain, as he bounded
toward Tom. Tom side-stepped and let his antagonist stagger by. Then a
short pass to Derrick, and the two started down the floor toward the
Green’s goal. Derrick passed back and Tom caught the ball in spite of
the opponents who were massing about him, wheeled, feinted, dashed
through the mêlée, dribbled, and then threw to a blue-shirted youth
waiting near Broadwood’s goal. It was a hard, fast throw, but the
youth caught it, struggled a moment under the attack of his adversary,
broke loose, and threw somewhat wildly for the basket. The ball struck
the frame above and came down into the waiting hands of Derrick. Two
Broadwood fellows hurled themselves toward him but not before the ball
was out of his hands again. There was a moment of suspense while it
rolled leisurely, undecidedly around the hoop. Then in it dropped,
through the mesh and back to the floor amidst the triumphant yells of
Yardley. And the two excited youngsters operating the score-board in
the balcony almost fell over the railing in their endeavor to change
the Yardley 8 for a 10.

Gerald, who, with Dan and Alf and Joe Chambers, had been early on the
scene and had secured seats in the front row on the floor a yard back
of the boundary line, let out such a shriek of delight that everyone in
the hall heard and laughed. Covered with confusion then, he sank back
between Dan and Joe. But no one paid any more attention to him and his
blushes soon passed. He was wildly excited, and once Dan had had to
hold him into his seat for fear he would go toppling out onto the floor
under the players’ feet.

The ball was centered once more and the clock proclaimed but four
minutes of playing time left. Broadwood became desperate. Capturing
the ball near the middle of the floor, she tried a long shot that
struck the frame of the basket but didn’t go through. Again she got
the leather, and this time she tried to reach scoring distance, but
the Yardley defense was so tight that she lost the ball. Then came
another rush down the floor, with the Yardley team working together
like clockwork, and another goal thrown by the Blue’s left-guard. After
that the visitors went to pieces. In their frantic endeavors to score
they failed to cover closely and became so strenuous that two fouls
were called on them in succession, neither of which Yardley was able to
convert into points. Then, with a little more than a minute to play,
Yardley began to sweep her rival off her feet and to score almost at
will. One goal--another--a third from a difficult angle at the side
of the hall, and Yardley’s score was growing by leaps and bounds. Tom
dropped out now and one by one the substitutes were put in, in order
that they might get their letters. And then, with a blue-shirted youth
poised for a shot, the whistle blew and pandemonium reigned. Up on the
score-board the final figures stood 18 to 5.

Gerald found himself one of a seething, pushing, shouting mass of
spectators out on the floor. Dan and Alf and Joe were lost to sight.
The players, after cheering for Broadwood, were trying to reach the
dressing room uncaptured. But none escaped. Each one was caught and
borne shoulder-high from the hall. Gerald felt someone smash into
him from behind, turned, and found Derrick struggling with a group
of enthusiastic captors. They were trying to lift him onto their
shoulders, but the crowd was packed so tightly that for a moment their
efforts were in vain. Derrick, laughing and fighting, was almost
squirming away when a big youth seized him around the waist and shouted
to Gerald to catch hold. Gerald caught hold, somehow, somewhere, and
the next thing he knew he and the big fellow were staggering through
the jam with Derrick on their shoulders and a happy mob of fellows
around them. Down the hall to the stairway they went, Gerald panting,
struggling to keep his feet, and immensely proud.

And the next morning, when he awoke, he wondered why his back and arms
ached so!



CHAPTER XIII

WORK IN THE CAGE


March came blustering in with cloudy skies and cold winds. But in a
week it had quite changed its tune. One morning Dan awoke to find the
sunlight streaming through the front windows and a new quality in the
air. For a moment he lay under the covers and wondered sleepily what
it was that brought the strange stirring to his heart. Then he was
out of bed, had thrown the window wide open, and was leaning forth in
his pajamas breathing in the warm, moist air. Spring had come in the
night. All about him were signs. Above was a mellow blue sky dotted
with little feathery white clouds. In the roadway beneath the snow
was melting fast and the gutters were astream with trickling water.
Even the stone window coping under his hands seemed somehow to hint of
Spring; it was warm to his fingers and moist where a little rim of ice
had melted. There was a faint, heart-cheering aroma of brown earth and
greening sod released from their winter coverings. Dan gave a shout
and drew his head in long enough to awaken Gerald.

“Get up!” he cried. “It’s Spring, Gerald! Get up and hear the birdies
sing!”

And the birds really were singing; or, at least, they were chattering
happily and noisily, which, as they were only little brown sparrows,
was about all that could be expected of them. Gerald put a sleepy head
alongside of Dan’s and sniffed the air greedily.

“Doesn’t it smell great?” he sighed. “Let’s get dressed and go out.
What time is it?”

“Ten minutes to seven,” answered Dan. “Let’s go for a walk before
Chapel. What do you say?”

For answer Gerald raced to the washstand and was soon splashing busily,
and in ten minutes they were flying down stairs with Spring in their
veins. Once off the stone walks it was gloriously soft and “mushy,” as
Dan said. They had to keep to the sod so as not to go into the brown
soil to their ankles. They crossed the bridge, waiting there a minute
to watch a long freight train rumble past beneath them. A brakeman,
sitting on a car roof, smoking his pipe, looked up at them, grinned and
waved as he went by. Then they took the wood path and went down toward
the beach, finding here and there new evidences, if any were wanting,
of the advent of Spring.

In the shaded places the snow, rotted and granular, still lay in little
banks fringed with ice. But tiny green spikes and leaves were pushing
their way through the litter of dead leaves, while, at the edge of the
beach, the grass in one sunny spot, was actually green. Even the Sound
seemed to look different. The water, reflecting the clear sky, was as
blue as sapphire. The sun shone radiantly on the few white sails in
sight. A steamer, far out, left a mile-long trail of soft gray smoke
behind it. A bird--Gerald declared joyfully that it was a robin, but
Dan contradicted it--sang sweetly somewhere behind them in the woods.
Dan began throwing stones into the water from sheer exuberance of
spirit. Then they hurried back to school, racing half the way, and
reached Oxford just in time for Chapel. Even here the new influence was
apparent; there was an unaccustomed restlessness in evidence; fellows
scuffled their feet and glanced longingly toward the big windows
which, partly opened, let in the softly appealing scent of Spring.
All that day fellows lingered about the steps of the buildings and
sighed when recitation time came, and there was much talk of tennis and
baseball and track work. Two enterprising chaps got a canoe out of the
boathouse in the afternoon and paddled up the river.

And a week later Spring industries had really begun. In the gymnasium
the track and field candidates were going through the preliminary work,
the tennis courts were being rolled and raked and mended, and in the
basement of the gymnasium, inside the big cage, the baseball candidates
were toiling mightily. Although the outdoor season for baseball at
Yardley never opens until after Spring recess is over, a full fortnight
of indoor work precedes it. This indoor work is in charge of the
captain, for the coach doesn’t appear until the candidates get out.
This year there was an unusually large number of entries for the team,
and Captain Millener had his hands full. Luckily, more than half of
last year’s team remained in school, and from these fellows Millener
obtained assistance.

Stuart Millener was a tall, lanky, black-eyed First Classman, with a
shock of black hair and enough energy to run half a dozen baseball
teams. Millener had never distinguished himself in his studies, but he
had worked hard at them and had always managed to remain at peace with
the Faculty. He was a fellow who was now and always would be better
able to work with his hands than with his brain. And there are plenty
of places for that sort in the world. As a first-baseman he was a
huge success, and there seemed no reason why he should not turn out
to be an excellent leader. He was highly popular and fellows believed
in him. The Kingdon Gymnasium at Yardley is still one of the finest
in the country and its baseball cage is roomy and light. Here every
afternoon from half-past three until after five the baseball candidates
practised. Fifty-seven fellows reported for work, and they were divided
into three squads and each squad was given a half-hour’s work. There
was five minutes’ hard work with the dumb-bells for all hands as a
starter, and then the pitchers got busy under Colton’s direction, and
Millener and his assistants looked after the batting and fielding. In
order to leave the cage free for the latter branches of the art of
baseball, the pitchers and catchers used the bowling alleys upstairs.
Fielding practice was confined to the handling of grounders and slow
hits, but there was plenty of room in the cage for this work, as well
as for throwing and sliding to bases.

Dan was one of the first candidates to report and during the two weeks
that intervened between that time and the beginning of Spring recess
he toiled hard and enthusiastically. At home, on his school team, he
had played at second base and had never had any trouble in keeping
his place. How he would compare with the other claimants for infield
positions here at Yardley remained to be seen, but Alf declared that
he was sure to make the nine, if not as a baseman, at least in the
outfield.

Gerald, long since released from probation, had bothered Mr. Bendix,
the Physical Director, until that autocrat had given Gerald another
examination, had congratulated him on his physical improvement and
had finally grudgingly given him permission to play class baseball.
And Gerald was mightily pleased. He bought a book of rules over in
Greenburg and read it through from one blue cover to another, and asked
so many questions that Dan’s head was in a whirl half the time. When
Spring recess began Gerald was without a doubt the best read youth in
school on the subject of baseball.

Spring recess and the month of April began almost together. Of the
former there was to be just a week. Gerald’s father, writing from
Berlin a fortnight before, had suggested that the two boys spend the
vacation in New York. Both Gerald and Dan were delighted at the idea.
Had it not been for this invitation Dan would have had to spend the
recess at school, since it was hardly practicable to journey out to his
home in Ohio for so short a time. He wrote to his father and received
permission to accept Gerald’s hospitality. And with the permission came
something quite as welcome, a check for ten dollars.

“You’ll want some money to spend,” wrote Mr. Vinton, “and so I enclose
herewith check for ten dollars. You mustn’t let your friend pay for
everything, you know. Have a good time, and write and tell us what
you do in New York. Your mother says you are to be very careful about
crossing streets and riding in the subway. I say the same. The papers
are full of accidents to folks in that town. You must try and get young
Pennimore to come out and visit you this summer. It won’t do to let him
do all the entertaining. If you think well of this, I will write to Mr.
Pennimore about it when the time comes. Your mother and sister send
their love. Your mother will write Sunday. Mae says I’m to tell you
to send her lots of postcards from New York, and they must be colored
ones, and you are to write on them all. My regards to Gerald. Your
loving father.”

“I’d just love to go out and visit you,” said Gerald, when Dan read
that portion of the letter to him, “but I don’t suppose father will let
me. He will be afraid that the Indians will get me.”

“Oh, the Indians are quite peaceable in Graystone now,” laughed Dan.
“You just show your father that you know how to look after yourself,
and I guess he will let you go. Why, a year ago he wouldn’t have
thought of letting you stay in New York with just the servants, Gerald!”

“That’s so! But he thinks you’re so grand, Dan; I guess that’s why.”

“Well, I’ll be just as ‘grand’ next summer,” replied Dan cheerfully.
“I’ll bet he will let you go. If he does, we can have a dandy time at
home.”

But meanwhile they were looking forward to a dandy time in New York.
And they had it. When they arrived at the house there was a good dinner
awaiting them, a dinner which Mr. Pennimore’s chef fashioned for the
delectation of two hungry boys. Strange soups and unpronounceable
entrees and fancy dishes in general were omitted, and all the time they
were there they had just the sort of things they liked. They were not,
all of them, the things usually prescribed for schoolboys, however, and
if Spring recess had lasted two weeks instead of one, it is probable
that they would have had to go under the doctor’s care.

“Gee!” exclaimed Dan on one occasion, “this cream pie is simply swell,
Gerald! I suppose if I make the baseball team I’ll have to go in
training. So I’m going to make the most of my chances now.”

“So am I,” replied Gerald. “There won’t be much more pie for us after
we get back, will there?”

“Oh, you won’t have to train if you make the class team,” said Dan.
“It’s just the Varsity, you know.”

“Won’t I?” asked Gerald disappointedly.

“Well, I guess I’ll go in training, anyway. It’s good for you.”

Those were seven splendid days, and yet when the last one came neither
of the two was sorry. Theaters and picture galleries and drives and
walks were jolly enough, but, as Gerald sagely remarked, a fellow soon
gets tired of them.

“I’d a heap rather play baseball or tennis than go to the theater,”
said Gerald. “Wouldn’t you?”

Dan replied that he would, but he said it hesitatingly, for theaters
and such things were more of a novelty to him than to Gerald. But
he was quite as contented as Gerald when the train set them down at
Wissining again. They went over to Dudley after dinner and called
on Alf and Tom. Every one talked vacation for a while, and then the
conversation turned to baseball and school sports.

“Payson’s coming next Monday,” announced Alf. “I saw Millener a while
ago. He said that if the ground dries up enough we’ll get out on the
field the first of the week.”

“Well, it’s soppy enough now,” said Dan. “And it looks like rain again.”

“Is Payson the coach?” asked Gerald.

“Yes,” Dan replied. “You remember him last Fall, don’t you? The chap
that coached the football team?”

“Oh! Does he coach in baseball, too?”

“You bet he does!” said Alf. “And he’s a dandy, too. He used to catch
for Cornell when he was there, and they say he was the best ever. By
the way, Gerald, Dan says you’re going in for baseball.”

“Yes, Mr. Bendix said I might. Do you think I’ll stand any show for the
Fourth Class team, Alf?”

“Ever played much?” Gerald shook his head sadly.

“I never played at all in a game. But I can throw a ball pretty well
and catch; and I can bat a little. I had a tutor last year who used to
play with me, and he said I did pretty well.”

“I dare say you’ll do as well as most of them,” said Tom. “Don’t let
them think you’re a duffer, though; put up a front; tell ’em you’re
one of the finest young baseball players that ever struck the Hill.”

“I guess they wouldn’t believe that,” laughed Gerald. “Don’t you play,
Tom?”

“Baseball? I rather guess not! It’s a silly game.”

Alf laughed maliciously.

“No,” he said, “Tom doesn’t care for baseball, especially the batting
part of it, do you, Tom?” Tom growled.

“You see,” Alf continued, smiling reminiscently, “Tom went out for
the team last Spring. They thought he was big enough to be promising
material. So Payson let him stay on a while. One day, just after we got
out of doors, we had batting practice at the net. Colton was pitching.
You know, he has about everything there is, Colton has, and he thought
he’d have some fun with Tom. So the first ball he sent Tom swiped at so
hard that he fell over himself and tumbled into the net.”

“Didn’t either,” laughed Tom.

“That made him mad. So he spit on his hands, got a good grip on the
bat, and tried the next one. That was an in-shoot, and Tom didn’t know
it. It took him plumb in the ribs. We all laughed at that, and Tom got
madder than ever. ‘Put it where I can hit it!’ he yelled to Colton. ‘I
dare you to!’ So Colton did it, but he sent it so fast that Tom didn’t
see it until it was by him.”

“It was over my head,” protested Tom, indignantly.

“Then Colton just let himself loose, and the rest of us, standing
around waiting for our turns, just laughed ourselves sick! Once Tom
lost hold of his bat, and it went about fifty feet into the field, just
missing Colton by a foot. Another time Tom reached out so far that he
fell on his face. Then another in-shoot took him in the arm, and that
was enough. Tom threw down the bat and walked off.

“‘Here, where are you going?’ asked Payson.

“‘Home,’ said Tom. ‘What’s the good of standing up there and letting
him slug me with the ball? I’ve got a smashed rib and a busted
shoulder, and that’s all I want. I’m no hog!’”

“It makes a good story, the way he tells it,” said Tom, when the
laughter had ceased. “It’s a fact, though, that he did give me two
awful whacks with that fool ball. Pshaw, I couldn’t hit it in a
thousand years! I knew that, so I got out. Afterwards I tried to get
Colton to stand up at the net and let me throw a few balls at him, but
he wouldn’t do it. I told him he could have all the bats he wanted,
too, but that didn’t seem to satisfy him.”

“I’ll bet you couldn’t have hit him,” jeered Alf.

“Couldn’t I? If he’d let me try he’d have gone to the hospital!”

“But you’re on the Track Team, aren’t you?” Gerald asked.

“Yes. There’s some sense to that.”

“Tom’s happy if you give him a sixteen-pound shot or a lump of lead on
the end of a wire,” said Alf. “He won eight points for us last Spring.
But you ought to see the crowd scatter when he gets swinging the hammer
around.”

“Oh, you dry up,” said Tom.

“Fact, though,” laughed Alf. “Once last year when he was practising,
the blamed thing got away from him and tore off about ten feet of the
grandstand. Andy Ryan said it was a lucky thing the framework was of
iron, or else he’d have smashed the whole stand up.”

“You fellows are having lots of fun with me,” growled Tom,
good-naturedly, as he arose and took up his cap, “and I hate to spoil
your enjoyment, but I promised to look up Rand this evening.”

“That’s all right,” Dan assured him, “we can have just as much fun with
you when you’re not here.”

“Well, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. By the way, Gerald, want to
come around to Oxford with me Saturday night? We’ve got a fellow coming
over from Greenburg after the debate to do some sleight-of-hand for us.”

“I’d like to,” replied Gerald, “but--” He glanced anxiously at Dan and
Alf.

“Sure,” said Alf. “Go ahead. We’re glad to have you. The more you see
of Oxford, the better you’ll like Cambridge. You see, Gerald, the only
way they can get the fellows to attend Oxford is by supplying them with
vaudeville entertainments. In another year or so they’ll have to have
brass bands and free feeds if they want fellows to go there!”

“That’s all right,” replied Tom. “We know who won the last debate. I’ll
call around for you Saturday, Gerald, if I don’t see you before. Good
night.”

“We gave it to you!” shouted Alf as the door closed behind his chum.
“Why you haven’t got a debater in your whole society.” But the
challenge was wasted, and Alf turned to Dan. “We’ll have to win the
debate this Spring,” he grumbled, “or there won’t be any living with
Tom!”



CHAPTER XIV

POLITICS AND CHESS


Payson appeared on Monday and took up his lodgings in the village. But,
as events proved, he might just as well have delayed his arrival for
another week, for on Sunday morning it began to rain as though it meant
to flood the country, and it continued practically without interruption
until Wednesday night. By that time the river was over its banks,
Meeker’s Marsh was a lake, the athletic field was like a sponge, and
outdoor practice was impossible. The work in the cage went on, but the
fellows were getting tired of it, and longed for sod under foot and
sky overhead. Payson didn’t waste that week, by any means, but, with
the first game only a fortnight off, the enforced confinement to the
gymnasium was discouraging.

John Payson was about thirty years of age, and weighed in the
neighborhood of two hundred pounds. He was large, broad-shouldered,
and, in spite of his weight, alert and quick of movement. He had played
baseball and football in his college days, first at Cornell, and
later, as a graduate student, at Yale. “Whopper” Payson was his name
in those days, and for two years he had made the All-America Football
team as a guard. While at Cornell he had caught for two years on the
Varsity Baseball nine, and they still remember him there as one of the
best. During his five years as coach at Yardley he had helped at three
football and two baseball victories over Broadwood. It would be an
exaggeration to say that Payson was universally popular at Yardley. He
was a good deal of a martinet, had a quick temper and a sharp tongue.
But he was just in his dealings with the fellows, was a hard worker,
and as unsparing of himself as of his charges. The older boys, those
who had known him longer, liked him thoroughly, while the younger
fellows, many of whom blamed him for their inability to make the teams,
called him hard names.

The baseball candidates finally got out of doors a week later than
expected. By this time the April sky appeared to have emptied itself of
rain, and a warm sun was busy drying up the sodden land. The fellows
felt and acted like colts that first afternoon. It was bully to feel
the springy turf underfoot, to smell the moist fragrance of growing
things, and to have the west wind capering about the field. Even a
full hour and a half of hard work failed to quench their spirits,
and they swarmed into the gymnasium at half-past five as jolly as
larks. The next afternoon practice ended with a four-inning game
between the first and second teams, and Dan played during two of the
innings in center-field. He had but one chance and accepted it. At
his single appearance at bat he got to first on fielder’s choice,
having knocked a miserable little hit half way to third base, and was
caught ingloriously in an attempt to steal second. And yet he could
congratulate himself on having made as good an appearance as any of
the other dozen or so candidates for fielding positions. By the middle
of the week practice had settled down to hard work, and on Friday the
first cut was made. Some twenty candidates were dropped from the squad,
only enough being retained to compose two nines and substitutes. Dan
found himself on the second nine, playing when the opportunity offered
at right or center-field. But he felt far from secure, for it was well
known that a further reduction of the squad was due some time the
following week.

Meanwhile Gerald had astounded Dan and the rest of his friends, not yet
many in number, by winning a place on the Fourth Class team. I think
Gerald must have been a natural-born baseball player, if there is such
a thing; otherwise he would never, with his slight experience, have
made the showing he did. Perhaps the standard of excellence required
of a candidate for admission to the team wasn’t very high, but there
were many fellows amongst those trying for places who had played ball
for two or three years. Gerald showed unsuspected alertness in handling
the ball, accuracy in throwing, and a good eye at the bat. And so, a
week after the class teams had begun work, Gerald found himself playing
shortstop on his nine. Naturally, he was in the seventh heaven of
bliss, and talked baseball, thought baseball, and dreamed baseball. Alf
amused Dan and Tom by claiming some of the credit. Personally, I think
there was reason in his contention. At all events he made out a good
case.

“Oh, you may laugh,” said Alf earnestly, “but it’s so. If Gerald hadn’t
had those boxing lessons he wouldn’t have made good. They taught him to
see quick and act quick, and they taught him accuracy. When you come to
think of it, boxing and baseball aren’t so much unalike. In boxing you
have a fellow’s glove to stop and your own to get away, and get away
quick and accurately. In baseball you have the ball to stop and to get
away. In either case it’s quickness and accuracy of eye and brain and
body that does the trick.”

“Pooh!” scoffed Tom. “If Gerald ever gets to be President you’ll try to
show that it was because you gave him boxing lessons when he was a kid.”

But whether or not part of the credit was due to Alf, it remains a fact
that Gerald was about the proudest and happiest youngster in the whole
school, with only one thing to worry him. That thing was the fact that
devotion to baseball was playing hob with his lessons. It was Kilts who
first drew his attention to the fact. He asked him to remain behind the
class one morning.

“What’s wrong, lad?” he asked kindly. Gerald hesitated a moment, trying
to find a plausible excuse. In the end he decided that the truth would
do better than anything else.

“It’s baseball, sir,” he answered frankly. “I’m on my class team,
and--and I guess I haven’t been studying very hard.”

“Well, well, that won’t do,” said Kilts gravely. “Baseball is a fine
game, I have no doubt, but you mustn’t let it come between you and your
studies, lad. Better let baseball alone a while, I’m thinking, until
you can do better work than you’ve been doing the last week. Baseball
and all such sports belong outdoors; they’re well enough there;
but when you take them into class with you--” Kilts shook his head
soberly--“you’re brewing trouble. You know I’m right, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” Gerald answered. “I’ll try and--and do better.”

“That’s the lad! Youth must have its pleasures, but there’s work to do,
too. Ye ken what Bobby Burns said?

    “‘O man! while in thy early years,
        How prodigal of time!
      Misspending all thy precious hours,
        Thy glorious youthful prime!’

“He was no the hard worker himself, was Bobby,” added Mr. McIntyre with
a chuckle, “but he sensed it right, I’m thinking. Well, run along, lad,
and remember, I’m looking for better things from you.”

So Gerald ran along, just as the next class began crowding into the
little recitation room, and when study time came that evening, instead
of leaning over his books with one hand in a fielder’s glove, as had
been his custom of late, he put glove and ball out of sight behind a
pillow on the window seat before he sat down. Dan saw, and breathed
easier.

The second cut in the Varsity squad came, and Dan survived it. The
first game, a mid-week contest with Greenburg High School, found the
Yardley team somewhat unprepared. Kelsey, a second string pitcher, was
in the box and was extremely erratic. Greenburg had no difficulty in
connecting with his delivery, and the Yardley outfield was kept pretty
busy during the six innings which were played before a sharp downpour
of rain sent the teams and spectators scurrying from the field. Dan
didn’t get into the game, much to his regret, for there were lots of
chances for the outfielders that afternoon. Yardley managed to pull the
game out of the fire in the fifth inning, and won, 8-6.

So far Dan had not flaunted his ambition to play on one of the bases.
But the following Monday he found himself sitting on the bench beside
Stuart Millener. Millener was watching the base-running practice, his
place on first being occupied for the time by a substitute. He asked
Dan where he had played before, and learned that at Graystone Dan had
occupied second base.

“Well,” said Millener, “Danforth is making pretty good at second, and
unless something happens, he will stay there, I guess. But there’s no
harm in being prepared, Vinton, and I’ll let you see what you can do
there.”

Millener was as good as his word, and when practice began Dan found
himself in Danforth’s place. Of course, he was rusty, and he and
Durfee, shortstop, failed to work together at first. But he made no bad
plays, and shared in a speedy double with Millener. At the bat Dan was
still rather weak. After practice Payson called him.

“You’ve played on second before, Millener says, and so I’m putting
you down for a substitute baseman, Vinton. You’d rather play there,
wouldn’t you?”

“Much,” answered Dan. “But I’d rather make good as a fielder than try
for a base and not make it.”

“Well, you see what you can do. I don’t believe you’ll have much show
for second, but you might possibly make third. Ever play there?”

“No, sir, but I guess I could.”

“Well, we’ll see. You want to be a little shiftier on your feet,
though, Vinton. You haven’t got as much time to make up your mind in
the infield as you have in the out.”

Dan told Alf of his promotion while they were dressing in the gymnasium.

“That’s good,” said Alf. “I guess Payson means to get you on third.
Condit isn’t much; Lord beat him out for the place last year, and would
have had it this if he’d returned. I guess Payson thinks he owes you
something for pulling us out of the hole in the Broadwood game last
Fall.”

“Oh, well, I don’t believe I want to get it that way,” said Dan
thoughtfully.

“What way?”

“I mean I don’t want to get it by favor.”

“Piffle! Don’t you worry. If you get it, it’ll be because you deserve
it. Payson may help you, Dan, but you needn’t worry about having the
place presented to you on a plate. Payson isn’t that sort. He never
lets his liking for a fellow influence him much. I rather wish he
did. He and I are pretty good friends, and I’d rather like to play
shortstop. But nothing doing.”

“It doesn’t seem exactly fair for me to step into the infield when
you’ve been on the team two years,” said Dan.

“Pshaw, I was only fooling! I’m happy enough out in left field. Why, I
couldn’t play short for a minute. I’ve tried it. I can catch flies and
throw to base pretty well, but if it wasn’t for the fact that I can bat
with the next fellow I wouldn’t hold down my place a minute. I know
some schools where you can have almost anything in reason if you happen
to be football or baseball captain. But the rule doesn’t work that way
here. Millener couldn’t have made the scrub last fall, and he knew it,
and didn’t try. And I know that the only thing that keeps me on the
nine is the fact that I bat better than any one except Colton. Oh, you
have to work for what you get at Yardley. A good thing, too. Over at
Broadwood they have about half a dozen societies and society men have
the first choice every time. Considering that, it’s a wonder they do as
well as they do.”

“I should say so,” agreed Dan. “It’s about a stand-off in athletics,
isn’t it?”

“It’s run pretty evenly the last ten or twelve years in baseball and
football,” replied Alf, “but we win three out of four times in track
games. And we’re away ahead in hockey, in spite of this year’s fizzle.
They usually do us up at basket-ball, though. But who cares about
basket-ball, anyway--except Tom?”

“I should think we’d go in for rowing here,” said Dan.

“Well, there isn’t a decent course within a good many miles,” said Alf.
“I don’t believe Yardley ever tried rowing. The year before I came here
they had an ‘Aquatic Tournament,’ whatever that is; Broadwood came over
and there were canoe races and swimming races and diving stunts on the
river. But Broadwood got so everlastingly walloped that there wasn’t
much fun for any one and it was never tried again.”

A little later, on the way across the Yard, Dan said:

“By the way, Alf, Cambridge sends out invitations in about two weeks. I
want to get Gerald in, if I can. How do you feel about it?”

“Me? Why, I’ll help, of course. Gerald’s not a bad little chap, not
by any means. I guess we can make it go all right. We’ll have to do
a little political work, though. I wonder whether he’d rather join
Cambridge than Oxford. He and Tom get on pretty well together, you
know, and Tom’s had him up to Oxford twice.”

“I think he will take Cambridge if he gets a chance,” Dan replied. “I’m
going to take him again Saturday night. I suppose we’d better talk him
up with the fellows.”

“Yes. I guess we’re certain of five or six votes already. And we can
get that many more without much trouble.”

“Just what is the method of selecting fellows?” asked Dan, as they came
to a pause at the doorway of Dudley.

“You get a majority of the meeting to agree on the candidate, first.
Then his name is put down on the list, and the list goes to the
Admission Committee. The Committee is composed of the President and two
members from each class of the three upper classes, seven in all. They
vote on the names as they’re read off. One black ball keeps a fellow
out.”

Dan whistled softly.

“That doesn’t sound so easy,” he said.

“Oh, I guess we won’t have any trouble. I know most of the Committee.
Colton’s president, you know; he will vote the way I ask him to. Then
there’s Millener and Kapenhysen of the First Class, both good chaps;
and Chambers and Derrick of the Second. Chambers will vote for Gerald
anyway without asking, and Derrick is a particular friend of Tom’s, and
will do as Tom says. The Third Class men--blessed if I know who they
are; do you?”

Dan shook his head.

“Well, I’ll find out to-morrow,” said Alf. “Don’t you worry, we’ll get
little Geraldine in all right. By the way, why didn’t you come over to
the gym Saturday morning? We had a lively little bout, I tell you. I
guess it will be the last for a while, too. Now that practice has begun
neither Gerald nor I seem to have much time for punching each other’s
noses. Well, be good, Dan. Come around to-night if you can.”

Dan was too busy to call that evening, but the following night found
him and Gerald in Number 7. For some time past Tom had been teaching
Gerald chess, and to-night the board was brought out and the two were
soon deep in the game. Dan and Alf had been talking baseball, but after
a while Dan interrupted to ask:

“By the way, did you find out about that?”

“About--? Oh!” Alf looked rather queer, as he drew a slip of paper
toward him and scribbled two names on it. “Yes, I found out this
morning. Here they are.” He pushed the slip across to Dan. Dan read and
returned Alf’s look with one of frowning surprise.

“Hm,” he said.

“Just so,” returned Alf dryly.

“Do you think--” began Dan. Alf shrugged his shoulders.

“Blessed if I know. I thought you might.” He looked hesitatingly over
at Gerald’s bowed head. “Perhaps--?”

Dan nodded.

“I say, Gerald,” said Alf, “I hate to interrupt that absorbing game of
yours, but would you mind telling me how you and your friend Arthur
Thompson are getting on these days?”

Gerald looked blank for a moment.

“Thompson?” he repeated. “Oh! Why, we always nod when we meet each
other. We’ve never spoken since the night of the snowball fight. Why,
Alf?”

“I was just wondering,” replied Alf vaguely. “I wondered whether you
were friends or not. Does he seem inclined to be decent?”

“We-ell, he hasn’t tried to be smart with me,” answered Gerald. “But I
don’t think he cares for me much. And I’m pretty sure I don’t like him.”

“I see. And do you know a fellow named Hiltz, Jake Hiltz, a Third Class
fellow; lives in Whitson?”

Gerald shook his head.

“I don’t think so. I may know him by sight. Ought I to know him, Alf?”

“N-no, I guess not. I don’t believe he would prove much of an addition
to your visiting list.”

“Your move, Gerald,” said Tom.

When the players were absorbed again, Alf said:

“It doesn’t look so easy now, does it?”

Dan shook his head. “No, it looks rather bad.”

“I think maybe Tom had better work his end,” suggested Alf. “Know what
I mean?”

“Oxford?” asked Dan.

“Yes, we wouldn’t want him to miss them both, eh? I’ll speak to him
about it to-night. Maybe he means to anyway, he’s taken quite a shine
to--someone.”

“All right,” said Dan. “I’m sorry, though. I don’t suppose there is
anything I could do with--” He tapped the slip of paper.

“No, he’d probably resent it, as you don’t know him. Besides, we don’t
know that he will object. It may go through all right. But if I were
you I’d speak to--you know who, and tell him how it stands. Perhaps he
will have a chance to smooth things over with Thompson.”

“I can’t quite imagine him doing it,” replied Dan, with a smile. “He’s
more likely to punch his head, if only to make use of what you’ve
taught him.”

“Well, we’ll see the thing through, anyway,” answered Alf hopefully.
“We’ll get his name up to the Committee. After that--well, it’s past
us. But if G could make it up with T, I guess he’d go through all
right.”

“He never would, though. Still, I’ll suggest it to him when we go back.”

“Got you,” said Tom quietly.

“How? Why?” asked Gerald, studying the board perplexedly. “Why can’t I
move--.” He stopped. Then: “O-oh!” he said expressively. Dan and Alf
laughed.

“Beat you again, did he?” asked Dan. Gerald nodded, smiling somewhat
sheepishly.

“Don’t you care, Gerald,” said Alf. “Tom is really a pretty neat little
chess player. I dare say there isn’t more than one fellow in school
who can beat him, and modesty forbids my mentioning that fellow’s
name.” Tom snorted. “Chess is a fool game, anyway; a game for children
and idiots.”

“Don’t you play?” asked Gerald innocently.

“Play?” answered Alf above the laughter. “Well, you just ask Tom who
wins when we play together.”

“Yes, ask me,” said Tom dryly. “Checkers is your game, Alf.”

“Oh, I’m not saying I can’t do pretty well at that, too, but when it
comes to chess--well, again my inherent modesty forbids me to pursue
the subject.”

“Huh! You don’t know a king from a pawn,” jeered Tom.

“That’s a challenge,” replied Alf. “Let me at him, Gerald. Just you
fellows watch if you want to see pride humbled and a haughty spirit
destroyed. Let me see, Tom, where do I put these things?”

“I guess we’ll have to be going,” laughed Dan, “although I can see that
it is going to be a rare battle.”

“Rare?” repeated Alf, with a grin. “Oh, no, not rare, Dan; I’m going to
do him to a turn. Move, Tom, but be careful how you do it. Remember
that I have my argus eye on you. Here! You can’t do that! Of course you
can’t. Did you see the way he moved, Dan? That’s cheating, sure! Here,
where are you fellows going?”

“Home, before the trouble begins,” answered Dan. “Come on, Gerald.”

“Trouble! There isn’t going to be any trouble,” said Alf. “This is
going to be the easiest thing I ever did. But if you must go, see you
to-morrow. Gee, he’s pinched my knight!”



CHAPTER XV

THE LISTS ARE POSTED


Back in Clarke, Dan and Gerald spread out their books on opposite sides
of the table for an hour or more of study. Gerald was keeping his
promise to Mr. McIntyre, and was really doing the best he was capable
of at algebra. But it did seem as though Fate was against him, for, in
order to do full justice to mathematics, he had to give less time to
his other studies, with the result that his French had been suffering
of late, and Mr. Von Groll had once or twice showed impatience. It
seemed desperately hard to please everyone, thought Gerald.

Across the table Dan browsed through his morrow’s Latin, and then
settled down to geometry. Now and then Gerald interrupted to ask
assistance, and once Dan reached over for the younger boy’s book and
puzzled out a line in Cæsar’s Gallic War for him. Nine o’clock struck,
and Gerald looked up from his book with a sigh, glanced hopefully at
Dan, found that youth still absorbed, and, with another sigh, went back
to work. But ten minutes later Gerald pushed his book resolutely away,
yawned, stretched, and spoke.

“I wish this universal disarmament they talk about nowadays had been a
fact about 50 B. C.,” he said regretfully.

“Yes? Why?” asked Dan, looking up.

“There wouldn’t have been any Gallic War, and I wouldn’t have to read
about it.”

“Well,” said Dan, “you’d better not let Collins hear you put the date
of the Gallic War as 50.”

“Oh, well, it was around there somewhere,” answered Gerald indifferently.
“What’s the good of being particular about the date of a thing that took
place thousands of years ago? I never could remember dates, anyway. I
guess I’m only sure about three.”

“And what are those?” asked Dan, closing his books and piling them in
place.

“My birthday, the day they fired on Fort Sumter, and the date of the
Third and Fourth Class baseball game.”

Dan laughed. “You want to be careful and not overtax that brain
of yours, Gerald,” he said. Then: “That reminds me,” he said more
seriously. “There’s going to be a good debate Saturday evening. Want to
go along?”

“Yes, thanks, I’d like to very much.”

“Cambridge and Oxford take fellows from the Fourth Class in a week or
two,” continued Dan. “Have you made up your mind which you want to
join?”

“Cambridge,” answered Gerald promptly. “They both seem very nice, but
you and Alf are both in Cambridge, and--and I think I’d rather go
there--that is, if I can. Do you think I can?”

“That’s what I want to talk about,” replied Dan, pushing back his chair
and clasping his hands behind his head. “You see, the Society holds a
meeting--it’s a week from Friday--and takes up the names of the fellows
in order. If a majority of the fellows there are in favor of the chap
his name goes to the Admission Committee. That committee is made up of
the President and two members from each of the three upper classes,
that is, seven members in all. They pass finally on the candidates for
admission, and a candidate has to get the whole seven votes to receive
an invitation. Understand?”

“Yes,” answered Gerald anxiously.

“Well, we can get you past the meeting all right, Gerald, and we’re
pretty certain of five of the seven on the Committee, but the other
two, the Third Class members, are rather more difficult. Neither Alf
nor I know them very well. One is a chap named Hiltz and the other is
this fellow Thompson.”

“I guess that queers me, then,” said Gerald mournfully.

“You think Thompson would vote against you?”

Gerald nodded. “I’m pretty sure he would.”

“But he said awhile ago, didn’t he, that you and he were quits?”

“Ye-es, but I don’t think he meant it. He doesn’t like me, I know.”

“Well,” said Dan hesitatingly, “Alf suggested--in fact, I think so,
too, that you might sort of let him understand that you are ready to
be friends. It won’t be necessary to say very much, I guess; you might
just speak to him when you see him, and then, if you have the chance,
get into conversation with him. It wouldn’t be hard.”

“I’d rather not get into either society than do that,” declared Gerald
vehemently. “And--and I don’t believe you’d do it yourself, Dan!”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Dan hesitatingly. “Maybe you’re right.
But I felt that I ought to let you know how things stand, so you can
do as you like about--making up with Thompson. I guess this fellow
Hiltz hasn’t anything against you, and so it’s up to Thompson. He can
undoubtedly keep you out of the society if he wants to, Gerald. But
maybe he won’t; perhaps we’re crossing our bridge before we come to it.”

Gerald was silent for a moment. Dan could see that he was greatly
disappointed. Finally:

“Well,” he said, “if I can’t get in, I can’t. But I was hoping--”

“Well, we’re not beaten yet,” said Dan cheerfully. “Besides, I wouldn’t
be surprised if you got an invitation from Oxford. Of course, we
Cambridge fellows pretend that our society is better than the other,
but there isn’t any particular difference, you know. Oxford has some
dandy fellows, and you and Tom get on pretty well together, and--”

“I shan’t join Oxford,” muttered Gerald. “If I can’t get into Cambridge
I don’t want to join anything.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” said Dan soothingly. “You’d have just as
good fun in Oxford, Gerald. And you know some of the fellows there now,
and Tom can introduce you to lots more.”

But Gerald shook his head and refused to compromise, and all Dan’s
arguments failed to shake his determination to stand or fall by
Cambridge. Nothing more was said about currying favor with Thompson.
After all, Dan scarcely approved of it himself; it savored too much of
what, in school parlance, was known as “swiping.”

Perhaps it would have been just as well if Dan had not suggested it to
Gerald at all, for the latter fearing in his pride that Thompson might
think he was trying to ingratiate himself, went to quite the opposite
extreme, and, whereas hitherto he had responded to Thompson’s careless,
good-natured nods of greeting, he now refused to notice that youth at
all! The first time this occurred Thompson thought nothing of it. The
second time he scowled and confided to the fellow he was walking with
that “that Pennimore kid was a stuck-up little chump.”

Meanwhile May came softly in and all Yardley was out of doors. The
field and track team was preparing for another victory over Broadwood,
golf enthusiasts were holding tournaments on the slightest provocation,
and the baseball teams, almost a dozen of them in all, were disputing
every foot of the field. Besides the Varsity nine, there were four
Class teams, as many dormitory teams, and several “scrub” nines.
Yardley would have seemed to a stranger to be baseball-mad that Spring.

The Varsity had a schedule of eleven games. Of these, four had been
played by the end of the first week in May, and the Blue had three
victories and one defeat to her credit. The defeat had come at the
hands of Forest Hill School, and it had been such a drubbing for
Yardley that it quite took the fellows’ breath away. Fourteen to three
was the score. Most of the enemy’s tallies had been made during a
tragic three innings in which Reid, a substitute pitcher, had occupied
the box. Reid had subsequently steadied down, but for three innings
more Forest Hill had added an occasional run to her score, and when,
at the beginning of the sixth, Colton had stepped in to the rescue the
game was past recovery. One result of the game had been to greatly
endanger Condit’s position at third base, and now Dan was holding down
that bag quite as often as the Second Class boy. It was not, however,
until the contest with St. John’s Academy, which took place on a
Saturday toward the middle of May, that Dan found himself starting a
game at third.

St. John always brought down a strong team, and Yardley always did
her level best to win the contest, which was looked upon as being a
test of the Yardley team’s ability. A week later St. John’s would meet
Broadwood, and so it was possible to make a comparison between Blue and
Green. Colton started the game in the box, it being planned to use him
until the game was safely “on ice.” Then Reid or Kelsey was to replace
him. As it happened, though, neither of the substitute twirlers got
into the game, for St. John’s proved to be a hard-hitting lot, and it
was not until the last of the eighth inning that the Yardley supporters
breathed easy. Then a lucky streak of batting, inaugurated by Captain
Millener, and continued by Left-fielder Loring and Shortstop Durfee,
added three runs to the Blue’s tally, and the scorebook showed the home
team leading by two runs. But it wouldn’t do to take risks even then,
and so Colton pitched the game out, managing to blank St. John’s in the
half-inning that remained.

Dan played a good game at third, accepting three chances and making
good each time. He had three assists and one put-out to his credit when
the game was over, while his batting record, if not startling, was
creditable for a first game. He made one hit, struck out twice, and
reached first once on four balls and once on fielder’s choice. There
was a good deal of luck mixed up with this showing, but Dan didn’t
worry about that. Taken altogether, he had made good, and Payson as
much as said so later in the gymnasium. And Dan was so elated that he
actually forgot to yell when the cold water struck him in the shower!

On the following Monday the invitations came out from Cambridge and
Oxford. The lists were posted in Oxford Hall at noon. Cambridge had
issued twenty-one invitations and Oxford twenty-six. Gerald Pennimore’s
name was on the Oxford list, but not on the other. The expected had
happened.



CHAPTER XVI

GERALD MAKES A BARGAIN


Dan ran across Alf in the corridor of Oxford soon after the lists were
posted. Alf made a grimace of disgust as he leaned against the base of
the plaster Mercury.

“Well, we lose,” he said.

Dan nodded. “Gerald will be disappointed.”

“Still, he’s made Oxford.”

“He says he won’t take it, and I guess he means it. He’s a stubborn
little chump. I suppose Thompson queered the game.”

“I guess so. I’ll have a talk with Colton and Rand; they’ll probably
have a fair idea what happened. Does Gerald know yet?”

“Guess not. I haven’t seen him. I think he’s in the room. Come on over
with me: you’re through, aren’t you?”

“Want me to break the news to the bereaved?” asked Alf, with a grin.
“All right, I’ll go along. We ought to induce him to take Oxford,
although I suppose we might get him in next Fall.”

“I don’t see how. If Thompson voted against him to-day he will
probably vote against him then.”

“Gee, Dan, you’ll never make a politician,” said Alf. “It isn’t
absolutely necessary, is it, that Thompson should be re-elected to the
Admission Committee next year?”

“Oh, I see! Still, I don’t see how we could prevent it.”

“I don’t say for certain that we could, but you’re in his class, and I
guess if you made up your mind to keep him out, you could do it. All
you’d have to do would be to find a popular chap willing to take the
place, and run him for all you are worth. Why not make a bid for it
yourself? You could beat Thompson easily enough. He’s not especially
popular, I guess. Besides, no one cares a whole lot about getting on
the committee, anyhow. The honor doesn’t amount to much. Yes, I guess
we could cook Thompson’s goose all right if we set out to. In fact, I
rather like the idea. I don’t like to be beaten, Dan, and--say, hanged
if we don’t get Gerald into Cambridge in spite of Mr. Thompson! What do
you say? Will you go in for it?”

“Why, yes, I guess so. I suppose it’s fair enough?”

“Of course it is! Anything’s fair in politics, you know.”

“No, but really, Alf! Would it be all right to scheme around that way?”

“Absolutely!” declared Alf with emphasis. “We want Gerald in Cambridge.
There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be there. So we just go ahead and
get him there. Come on and let’s find him. Of course, if he’s changed
his mind and decides to take Oxford, all right. If he hasn’t, and he
asks my advice, I’ll tell him to wait until Fall, and we’ll get him
into Cambridge. And you back me up.”

They found Gerald in his room. A glance at his face showed Dan and Alf
that he had learned the result of the Admission Committee’s labors, in
spite of the fact that he was striving to look unconcerned.

“Say, Gerald, I’m awfully sorry about Cambridge,” said Alf heartily.
“It’s a shame. And I’m afraid you’ll hate us for letting you think you
were going to make it.”

“Of course I won’t,” replied Gerald soberly. “You fellows did all you
could, and I’m much obliged. It isn’t your fault. It was Thompson that
did it.” Gerald’s face darkened. “And I’m going to--” He stopped.

“Going to what?” asked Dan suspiciously. Gerald turned a rebellious
countenance toward him.

“I’m going to tell him what I think of him! That’s what!”

“Come now, look here, Gerald,” exclaimed Dan. “You can’t do that,
you know! You don’t know for certain that Thompson blackballed you.
And even if you did know, you wouldn’t have any right to call him to
account for it. Any member of that committee has a right to vote as he
likes, and--”

“I’m going to punch his head, just the same,” said Gerald doggedly.

“No, Dan’s right,” said Alf soothingly. “You can’t do that, Gerald.
At any rate, you can’t fight him on that pretense. Of course, if you
happened to meet him and didn’t like the way he wore his hair, or the
color of his eyes, and said so--”

“Cut it out, Alf,” said Dan. “There’s no reason for scrapping and you
know it. Besides, Gerald can go into Oxford--”

“I’ve told you half a dozen times,” interrupted Gerald warmly, “that I
don’t want Oxford.”

“Sure?” asked Alf eagerly.

“Yes, I’m sure,” answered Gerald.

“All right. You stick to that, my boy, and we’ll have you in Cambridge
next Fall as sure as shooting.”

Gerald viewed him doubtfully.

“Do you mean it, Alf?” he asked. “You’re not just saying that to--to
make me feel better?”

“Not a bit of it,” replied Alf gayly. “Dan and I have got the whole
thing planned. We thought that if you wanted to go in for Oxford we
wouldn’t say anything about it; just let you go. But if you don’t, why,
don’t even think of it. The next election is in November, and we’ll get
you through with flying colors. You’ll only be in the Third then, and
will have three years before you. You really aren’t missing much, you
see; lots of fellows don’t make a society until they’re in the Third.”

“That’s mighty nice of you,” said Gerald gratefully. “I don’t care so
much now. Only--about Oxford; do you think Tom will mind if I don’t
take it?”

“Not a bit,” said Dan.

“That’s right,” Alf agreed. “He knew you preferred Cambridge, and
only got you through there in case you missed it with us, and wanted
consolation. Tom understands perfectly.”

“Then I’ll write and decline it,” said Gerald cheerfully. “What shall I
say?”

“Oh, most anything,” said Alf. “Just tell them to be blowed; tell ’em
you’re sort of particular about whom you associate with, and that--”

“Shut up,” laughed Dan. “Just say that ‘Mr. Pennimore declines with
thanks the kind invitation of Oxford Society.’ That’s all that’s
necessary, isn’t it, Alf?”

“Ye-es, I suppose so. But you might add in a postscript that you hope
they’ll choke.”

Thus Gerald’s disappointment was mitigated by the promise held out by
Alf, and the note declining the invitation to Oxford was despatched
without regrets. Even had Gerald been inclined to feel sore over his
failure he would not have had much time to indulge his feelings. The
inter-class baseball games were approaching, and practice demanded
much of his time. Gerald was winning friends now, for his fellow
members of the Fourth Class nine had to admire his playing, if nothing
else. But as they got to know him better they found other things to
like. They soon discovered that his reserve, which looked so much
like arrogance, was only a cloak to hide a sort of shyness that was
the result of his earlier experiences at Yardley. They found that he
wasn’t stuck-up--a heinous sin at Yardley--and that he never referred
to wealth or influence. He was “Pennimore” now; in some cases “Gerald”;
the nicknames, “Miss Nancy,” or “Moneybags,” seemed to have fallen into
disuse.

Gerald thrived and grew happier every day. He stopped thinking
about Thompson, and paid no heed to that youth when he met him.
And gradually, but perceptibly, he was undergoing a physical
transformation. His work in the gymnasium under the careful supervision
of Mr. Bendix, and now his daily exercise on ball-field and tennis
court had not failed of effect. He had taken on flesh, his color was
good, his muscles had hardened and developed, and his shoulders and
chest had broadened and deepened. And with his physical betterment came
an increased capacity for study. He found that after an hour’s baseball
practice, followed by a shower and a brisk rubdown, he was ready to
tackle cheerfully the hardest task in algebra that Mr. Wentworth could
invent. I don’t mean that his marks were all A’s and B’s. On the
contrary, he exhibited a seeming preference for C’s, with an occasional
B by way of variety. But he was doing good work, for all of that, and
Kilts was pretty well satisfied. His other studies, English, French,
and Latin, were going better, too, and he was no longer worrying about
his chances of passing the finals in June. He felt pretty sure of B’s
in English and Latin, and believed he could get C’s in the other two
studies.

The boxing lessons, which had been transferred from Saturday afternoons
to Saturday mornings, when Alf’s baseball work had claimed the former
hours, had now ceased altogether. Alf declared that Gerald had already
learned almost all he could teach him, and that further development and
improvement depended on himself.

“Go up against the punching-bag, Gerald, two or three times a week, and
keep your muscles limbered up. Next Fall we’ll go at it again. It’s
bully exercise and it’s bully fun; and it’s a mighty good thing to know
something about boxing. Maybe you’ll never need the knowledge, and
maybe you will. There’s no harm in having it, anyway.”

The discontinuance of the boxing lessons left Gerald his Saturday
mornings for other pursuits, and he chose to devote them to tennis. He
had played tennis a good deal ever since he had been large enough to
swing a racket. Sometimes his father had been his opponent, sometimes
the tutor. For his age Gerald was a good player, and was extremely fond
of the game. There were six courts at Yardley, and it was almost always
possible to secure one at some time during the morning. There was a
rule, and a necessary one it was in view of the large number of fellows
who played, that if others were waiting to use a court, only three sets
could be played at a time. As a general thing, Gerald’s opponent was
Harry Merrow. Harry was only twelve years of age, but he played good
tennis and was a spirited, hard-fighting youngster. Gerald usually won,
but Harry always proved a worthy foe.

On a morning in the last week of May, the two were sitting on the grass
beside one of the courts, waiting for their turn. They had skimped
their breakfasts in order to be early at the courts, but they found
that others had been even more enterprising, and all the courts were in
use. But it was still far short of nine o’clock, and they had plenty
of time before them. Besides, it wasn’t bad fun lolling here on the
grass in the warm morning sunlight, and there was plenty to see. On
the court which they had elected to wait for, two First Class fellows,
“top-notchers” both of them, and members of the Tennis Club, were
putting up an exhibition well worth watching. Beyond, on the river,
several canoes were in sight, their brightly-colored sides reflected
gayly in the quiet water. The canoes put an idea into young Merrow’s
head.

“I say, Gerald,” he asked, “can you swim?”

“Of course,” was the answer. It seemed to Gerald that Harry might as
well have asked him if he could breathe. All his summers had been spent
at Sound View, and looking back he could scarcely remember a time when
he hadn’t been able to swim.

“Well, can you paddle?” was Harry’s next question.

“Paddle? Oh, you mean in a canoe? No, I guess not. I never was in a
canoe. It doesn’t look hard, though.”

“It isn’t--very,” answered Harry. “It’s lots of fun, though. I was
wondering why you and I couldn’t have a canoe, Gerald.”

“That would be dandy!” cried Gerald. “Could we?”

“Yes, we could rent one. It only costs three dollars a month. You have
to be able to swim, though, or Faculty won’t let you have one. What I
thought was that--”

“What?” asked Gerald, as the younger boy hesitated.

“Well, you see, I haven’t much money. I thought perhaps you’d be
willing to pay the three dollars if I’d show you how to paddle.”

“Of course I will,” said Gerald. “That’s fair enough. I’d like mighty
well to know how. Can we get a canoe at the boathouse?”

“Yes. Let’s go down after we finish tennis and see what they’ve got.
Shall we?”

Gerald at once agreed, and for a while they talked canoeing and
boating, Harry narrating some of the good times he had had at home on
the river. Gerald, not wanting to be quite outdone, mentioned his
ability to row a boat, and then, led on by Harry, described life on
his father’s big steam yacht, which Harry had often seen lying at its
moorings off Sound View.

Then the talk worked around to baseball, as it was almost certain to
do sooner or later at this time of the year, and Gerald exhibited with
pride the callousness of his hand and showed the little finger that
had been “mighty near broken, I tell you!” Harry had tried for a place
on the Merle Hall team, but had failed. However, he had been made
official scorer, and that had brought consolation. It was evident that
in Harry’s estimation that position qualified him as a critic, for he
pretended to know just what was the matter with every member of his own
team and the Varsity, and would tell you on the slightest provocation.

“I tell you, Gerald, Dan Vinton played a great game at third the other
day. He’s going to make a fine player when he’s had more experience. I
should think you’d be mighty proud to be rooming with him.”

It had never occurred to Gerald to be proud of the fact, and he
considered it a moment before replying. Then:

“I’d rather room with him than any fellow I know,” he replied with
conviction. “He--he’s been mighty good to me ever since I knew him.
You know he--he saved my life last Fall.”

“Yes, we heard about it, but I never knew just how it was.”

So Gerald recounted the adventure of the burning playhouse, and Dan’s
rescue, and Harry listened with round eyes.

“Say, though, you were a chump to go in after the dog,” he said, when
Gerald had finished. “You might have been all burned up!”

“Well,” answered Gerald simply, “I couldn’t let Jack burn. He’s the
best dog in the world, Jack is.”

“I’d like to know Vinton,” said Harry, after a moment’s silence, during
which they watched the tennis battle. “You might ask me up to your room
some night, Gerald.”

“Come whenever you like,” said Gerald. “I didn’t suppose you needed an
invitation.”

“Well, Vinton might not like a kid like me bothering around him. He
was awfully decent to me once, though. He and I came up from the
station together after Christmas vacation, and I guess he saw that I
was feeling sort of--of homesick. And he told me to come around that
evening and see him if I was lonesome.”

“Didn’t you go?”

“N-no. I wanted to, but--I didn’t like to. I was afraid he’d think I
was a baby.”

“Dan wouldn’t,” said Gerald. “He understands. He told me once that when
he came here last Fall he was so homesick that he came near running
away home.”

“Really!” exclaimed Harry. “Think of a fellow like Dan Vinton being
homesick! I wish I’d known that. I’d have gone and seen him that time.
But I’m going to come around some evening, if you think he won’t mind.”

“Of course he won’t,” said Gerald scornfully. “He--he isn’t that sort.
Come on; they’re through. I’ll toss. Rough or smooth?”

After they had played their allowance of three sets, Gerald winning
6-3, 6-4, 7-5, they went down to the boathouse and rented a bright
green canvas canoe for the period of one month, and Gerald had his
first lesson in paddling.

It wasn’t long before Gerald reached the conclusion that Harry had
made a very smart bargain, for paddling isn’t a thing that can be
successfully taught; a fellow must pick it up himself. Gerald’s
instructions consisted principally of the advice: “Now just do as I do,
Gerald; see?”

And Gerald, occupying a most uncomfortable and cramped position at
the stern of the canoe, did as Harry did till his arms ached. Harry
insisted on staying close to shore.

“Faculty raises an awful rumpus,” he explained, “if you upset. Two
Fourth Class fellows went over last Fall, and Collins wouldn’t let them
go out again.”

Gerald tried to emulate the example of Harry, but wasn’t very
successful that day. Harry’s work with the paddle was clean and
graceful, while Gerald had difficulty in refraining from using his
blade like an oar. Once, in shifting his position a little, he caused
the canoe to rock. Harry almost dropped his paddle as he looked around
in alarm.

“Here!” he cried. “What are you trying to do? Upset us?”

“No, I was just trying to get comfortable,” answered Gerald.

“Well, you want to be awfully careful in a canoe. It’s mighty easy to
upset.”

“What of it?” asked Gerald, with a laugh. “I’d rather like a dip.
Besides, we could almost wade ashore from here.”

“No, we couldn’t. This river’s awfully deep, even right along shore.
I--I won’t go out with you if you’re not careful. The water’s too cold
for a bath.”

“All right,” Gerald agreed. “I’ll be careful. Let’s go back now,
though; my arms ache like anything.”

After that scarcely a day went by without seeing Gerald and Harry on
the river, and by degrees the former got so that he could paddle very
well indeed. One day they accepted a challenge of two Third Class
fellows, and raced them from Flat Island to the boathouse, a distance
of nearly an eighth of a mile, and beat them handily. But usually their
canoeing took place before recitations in the morning, or after dinner,
when each had an hour of freedom, for Gerald’s afternoons were pretty
well occupied.

The Fourth Class team had played three games with outside nines, and
although they had lost two of them, the experience had done them
good, and developed team-play. The third contest, that with Greenburg
Grammar School, they had won in the last inning by a single tally. The
inter-class series was due the first week in June, and already fellows
had begun to wear their class colors and speculate as to the outcome.
It was generally conceded that Second would win the championship but
the real interest lay in the game between Third and Fourth. Third had,
as usual, the advantage of age and experience, but, again as usual,
it was Fourth who made the greater preparation, who practised most,
and who excelled in enthusiasm. Nowadays little was talked of save
baseball, although for a few days preceding the dual track and field
meeting with Broadwood, the runners and jumpers and weight men claimed
some attention.

The meet was at Broadwood, and Yardley’s team went over well supported.
The track meet was the one athletic event of the school year which
could be absolutely depended on to add to the Blue’s laurels, and this
year’s contest was no exception. Yardley won decisively, 89 to 54.
Tom did himself proud, winning two firsts and a fourth, or 11 points
in all, and establishing a new dual record for the 16-pound shot of
41 feet 4 inches. First place in the hammer throw also went to him,
while the broad jump, which he entered to fill the card, netted him one
point. Tom was the hero of the day, and Yardley journeyed home happy
and triumphant.



CHAPTER XVII

THE CLASS GAMES


“Well, it’s certainly a cinch to get out a paper during the baseball
season,” laughed Alf, as he turned the leaves of the _Yardley
Scholiast_, the weekly paper published by the students. The _Scholiast_
was playfully referred to as “the School weakly,” but it was in reality
a very good example of its kind of journalism. “Look here,” continued
Alf, holding up the sheet. “Here’s three pages of baseball; the two
Varsity games and six miscellaneous, every last one of them in full
detail. That’s an easy way to fill a paper,” he declared in disgust.

“And the rest of the paper all advertising, I suppose,” said Tom, who
was stretched out along the window seat, with one foot on the sill.

“Pretty near. Here’s a highly-colored account of the Track Meet, with a
whole lot of slush about you, and an editorial about the circus.”

“An editorial about the circus?” asked Dan in surprise. “What’s that
for?”

“Oh, that’s a regular feature at this time of the year. I think they
keep it set up and run it every Spring. About four years ago, I guess,
anyway, before I got here, the fellows went to the circus over in
Greenburg, and rough-housed the show so that they had to clear the
tent. Faculty didn’t approve and for a couple of years we weren’t
allowed to go to circuses.”

“Is the circus coming here?” asked Gerald.

“Yep, two weeks from Friday. Going?”

“You bet!” replied Gerald. “I love circuses, don’t you?”

“Crazy about them,” answered Alf cheerfully. “We’ll all go and feed
peanuts to the elephant.”

“I’d rather eat them,” murmured Tom.

“The elephants?” asked Dan.

“Oh, no,” said Alf quickly, “that would be cannibalism!”

But Tom paid no heed to the insult. He was smiling broadly at his
thoughts. “Say, Alf,” he asked, “do you remember that write-up of the
Bridgeport football game? Talking about the _Scholiast_ and the games
in detail reminded me of it.”

“Do I!” asked Alf, laughing. “I’ll never forget it.” He turned to Dan
and Gerald. “It was my first year here. There was a chap named Bridges,
a Second Class fellow, who got on the _Scholiast_ as reported. He was
a queer duck, was Bridges. The editor then was Ames Bradley, and Brad
and I had known each other at prep. Well, one day we played Bridgeport,
and Brad thought it would be a good chance for Bridges to show what he
could do. So he told him to go and write up the game, and be sure to
give all the details. Well, I wish you could have seen the report he
handed in! It was the funniest thing you ever--Say, I wonder if I ever
threw that away, Tom. I begged Brad for it, and he gave it to me, and
I had it kicking around my desk for a long time. I’ll look and see if
it’s there.”

Alf rummaged through several drawers and finally found what he was
after, half a dozen pages of foolscap pinned together at the corner.
Alf gave a chuckle and settled himself in his chair again.

“Here it is. Let me read some of it to you. It turned out afterwards,
by the way, that Bridges had never watched a game of football through
in his life and didn’t know anything about it. Now, let’s see.”

“‘Yardley vs. Bridgeport. On Tuesday last our football players played
a game on the School gridiron against the players of Bridgeport and
won. The weather was inclement and threatened to snow as the two
bands of determined players took up their several positions about
the field of play. It was a battle royal from first to last and our
players deserve great credit for the manner in which they outplayed
the Bridgeport players. The audience--’ Hum, never mind that. Here we
are. Now listen to this and bust into tears! ‘The details of the game
follow. At the commencement a Bridgeport player placed the ball in
the middle of the field and retiring for a few yards ran forward and
kicked the ball toward our players. One of the latter nimbly caught
the ball and proceeded to run with it toward the goal. At this point
it was evidenced that the Bridgeport players were determined to stop
at nothing in order to win, for almost half of them threw themselves
against our player and bore him to earth with a shock that could be
plainly heard on the stands. Luckily, however, the plucky Yardley
man was not injured and was soon on his feet again. The Bridgeport
players had by this time clustered so closely about him that he saw
that further running was impossible. So he yielded the ball to another
of his side and the opposing players drew up into what is called a
scrimmage. The ball was placed on the ground and one of our players,
uttering signals designed to confuse the enemy, thrust the ball into
the hands of one of our best players, who, although small, is very
fleet of foot. His name is Worrell, and he is one of our four speedy
quarter-backs. Worrell seemed at first in doubt which way to run and
by the time he had made up his mind the opposing players had seized
him in their arms and borne him to the ground. As the Yardley team had
not gained any advantage they were allowed to try again. This time the
ball was given to another player whose identity was not clear to the
scribe. This player, trusting to force rather than elusiveness, jumped
into the fray with the ball in his arms and the rest of our team,
quickly grasping the situation, pushed him for quite some distance, the
Bridgeport players doing their level best to frustrate the endeavor.
This maneuver succeeded so well that it was tried many more times, the
different players of our team taking turns at carrying the ball. When
about three-quarters of the field had been so conquered and the goal of
our desire was near, the Umpire’s keen vision detected an infringement
of the rules of play and he took the ball away from our players and
handed it to Bridgeport. Some members of the audience expressed
displeasure at this seemingly high-handed exercise of authority and
hooted. But the consensus of opinion amongst those with whom the
scribe discussed the episode is that the Umpire was quite within his
rights. The Yardley players bore up bravely in the face of this keen
disappointment and stood nobly shoulder to shoulder while Bridgeport
strove to take the ball back the way it had come. Time and again--’ Oh,
pshaw, that’s enough! But isn’t it great?”

“That was surely going some!” laughed Dan. “I suppose it didn’t get
into the paper, did it?”

“Hardly,” answered Alf. “I begged Brad to run it as a joke, but
he wouldn’t. That was Bridge’s first and last assignment on the
_Scholiast_.”

“But the funniest part’s to come,” said Tom, sitting up, and Alf nodded
gleefully. “After that Bridges was out at every game and the next year
he went out for his Class Team and made it as--as ‘one of the four
quarter-backs’; only they called him right half!”

“I’ve often wondered what became of him after he left here,” said Alf.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he was playing good football somewhere.”

“I suppose the fellows teased him a lot about his story,” said Gerald.
But Alf shook his head.

“No, Brad was a mighty decent sort. He never told anyone except me and
I never showed that around much; just to a few fellows who promised to
keep it dark.”

“He wasn’t a bad sort, Bridges,” said Tom lazily. “Someone tell me the
time.” And when Gerald had obeyed, “Gosh!” cried Tom. “I’ve got a
recitation in one minute and a quarter. Where’s my Anabasis? Throw it
over, Dan; it’s under your elbow. Anybody coming my way? So long, then.”

“Hold on, you idiot,” said Alf. “I’m coming. See you at practice,
Dan.” And he and Tom hurried out and clattered down the stairs of
Clarke three steps at a time. Dan seized his water pitcher, leaned out
a window, and sprinkled them as they ran by on their way to Oxford.
There were howls from below, and shaken fists, but Dan and Gerald only
laughed.

“Got Tom in great shape,” said Dan as he returned the pitcher to its
place. “He won’t find his Greek as dry as usual to-day.”

Two days later Yardley played Porter Institute on the diamond and Dan
started the game at third base. He and Condit, a Second Class boy,
were having a hard fight for the position. Most of the other places
on the Varsity were pretty well settled, but third base was a bone
of contention and the whole school was watching with interest Dan’s
struggle to oust Condit. Dan himself was not satisfied with the game
he was putting up. Somehow, he didn’t seem as sure of himself on
third as he did on second, and whenever he found himself there he was
handicapped by the ever constant fear that he would fail at some
critical moment. And in the Porter game his fear was verified.

It was the sixth inning, the score was five to three in favor of
Yardley, and Porter had a man on first and a man on second. Porter
was enjoying a batting rally and using Reid rather rudely. There was
only one out and a hit meant two runs in all probability. The fourth
man up chose a ball to his liking and sliced it down the first-base
line. Millener, playing off base, made a wild scramble for it, but it
sped by him, just inside the white mark, and went bounding into right
field. The runners sped for home. Lawrence, right-fielder, was not
asleep, however, and had raced in as soon as the ball was hit, and now
he managed to smother it some fifteen yards back of first, recovered
quickly, and threw to the plate. Richards, the catcher, got it nicely,
but was too late to put out the first runner. Quick as a flash he threw
to third. Dan was not napping, but in some unaccountable manner the
ball went through him, the man from first raced by and sped home and
the score was tied. And Porter had a man on second and only one out.

The expected had happened to Dan and he could guess the delight in
the heart of Condit over there on the bench. But he settled down when
Alf’s voice reached him encouragingly from left-field:

“Hard luck, Dan! Never mind! Keep after ’em!”

Reid, too, settled down and disposed of the next two batters and the
teams changed places. Dan walked back to the bench with a grave face.
But no one, not even Payson, the coach, made any allusion to his
mishap, and, much to his surprise, he was allowed to finish the game
at third. Yardley took the lead again in the eighth, was tied in the
ninth, and lost the game finally in the eleventh inning, 8 to 7.

That game decided the contest for third-base. Condit stepped into first
place again and Dan had to be satisfied with a seat on the bench with
the other substitutes. He was keenly disappointed and rather inclined
to wish that he had been content with a place in the outfield, where,
at least, he would have been a regular instead of a mere sub. But Alf
insisted that there was still a chance.

“Condit isn’t any great shakes,” he declared. “The same thing’s likely
to happen to him any day. Just you keep on edge and make the most of
your opportunities and it’s a safe bet you’ll play as much of the
Broadwood game as he does. And another thing, Dan; do your level best
at the bat. If you can show yourself a little better there than he
is it may decide Payson in your favor. Why, he knows that accidents
are likely to happen to the best fellows. Just you peg away at it, old
chap!”

So Dan pegged away and worked hard at the batting net and made the most
of his chances in the practice games. And all the time he was watching
Condit as a cat watches a mouse, hoping uncharitably enough that that
youth would make a costly fumble or go stale. But Condit kept himself
up to the mark and June wore along and the baseball schedule was
nearing its end.

In the first week of June the Class Championship was decided. There
were three consecutive afternoons when Yardley flamed forth in Class
colors and baseball was the sole subject of conversation. On the first
day the Fourth and Third Classes clashed on the Varsity diamond and
the respective colors, brown and green, waved wildly. The whole school
turned out to watch and cheer, the First Class fellows joining forces
with the Third, and the Second with the Fourth. Even the Faculty
attended, their coats decorated with ribbons of brown and green and
blue and red to prove that they were incapable of favoritism.

I think that perhaps the scorers worked harder that day than any of the
players, for it was a game of runs and errors, and it lasted until
the umpire, Captain Millener of the Varsity, was forced to call it at
the end of the eighth inning. Gerald played shortstop and did well. To
be sure he made two errors, but then almost every other player made as
many or more. And there weren’t many who did as well at the bat as he
did. He got three hits, one a two-bagger, and scored two of the twelve
runs which won the day for his side. Yes, Gerald did bravely, and Dan
and Alf and Tom were proud of him, and told him so, and Gerald’s head
swam with pride and delight. The final score was 12 to 9, and the
Fourth Class marched off the field bearing their warriors on high and
chanting pæans of victory.

The next day the Second Class Nine did what was expected of it and
drubbed the First heartily. That contest didn’t occasion as much
enthusiasm as the preceding one or the one which followed. The third
day’s game was almost certain to go to the Second Class, but the Fourth
Classmen refused to concede it and kept their enthusiasm on tap every
instant. Nor, as it turned out, was the Fourth so greatly mistaken in
their estimate of their team’s chances. For although the Second finally
won by a safe margin, there were moments when a victory for the wearers
of the brown ribbons and the wavers of the brown flags seemed not
unlikely. Gerald again covered himself with glory, taking part in a
double play that retired the opposing side just when it seemed about
to run away with the game. And again he batted well, and if he didn’t
score any runs himself he helped two others to do so. And although
vanquished at last, 10 to 6, the Fourth Class went off the field
cheering and quite well pleased with itself.

One morning a day or two after the final Class game Gerald met Payson,
the coach, on the steps of the gymnasium. Payson nodded, as he always
did when he met one of the fellows, whether he knew him personally or
not, passed, and then turned back.

“Aren’t you Pennimore?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” answered Gerald.

“You played shortstop for Fourth Class, eh? Well, you’ll make a pretty
fair player if you keep on, Pennimore. Next Spring you come and see me
and perhaps we’ll find room for you somewhere on the squad. How old are
you now?”

“Fourteen, sir.”

“Hm; well, get some more flesh and muscle, my boy, and you’ll do. By
the way, I see that your father has been pretty busy.”

“Sir?”

“Oh, you haven’t seen the morning paper, I guess.”

“No, sir, I don’t read the papers much.”

“Well, you get to-day’s and you’ll find something that ought to
interest you. I’m sure it would me if I were in your place,” laughed
Payson. “Don’t forget to report to me next Spring.”

With a smile and a nod he passed on, leaving Gerald consumed with
curiosity. He hurried over to Oxford and sought the library, but
the morning papers had not yet been placed on file. But there still
remained a quarter of an hour before his next recitation, and so he
went on down to the station and bought a _New York Herald_. A glance
at the first page explained Payson’s meaning. One of the columns was
headed:

                             BIG MERGER OF
                             TRANSATLANTIC
                            STEAMSHIP LINES

                 LARGE INTERESTS IN BRITISH AND FRENCH
                      COMPANIES NOW CONTROLLED BY
                           JOHN T. PENNIMORE

              BLUE CRESCENT, GLASGOW, AND FRANCO-AMERICAN
                       LINES TO BE CONSOLIDATED
                         WITH STEAMSHIP KING’S
                           PRESENT HOLDINGS

              GERMANY’S SUPREMACY IS SERIOUSLY THREATENED

Then followed a lengthy despatch from London containing an interview
with Mr. Pennimore. But Gerald was disappointed. His father was always
doing something of this sort and Gerald didn’t find anything very
interesting about it. He read the article through, just as he would
have read anything concerning his father, and then thrust the paper
into his pocket. The only feature of the despatch that interested
him was the announcement that Mr. Pennimore would sail that day from
Southampton, a fact which Gerald already knew.

But if the news didn’t excite Gerald, he found that there were others
who were not so indifferent. Mr. Collins stopped him in the Yard after
dinner and discussed it at some length.

“A wonderful man, your father, Gerald. You must be very proud of him.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Gerald.

“Well, you don’t seem very enthusiastic,” said Mr. Collins with a smile.

“No, sir--that is--well, you see, sir, father’s always doing something
of this sort. I guess it’s very clever, sir, but I don’t think I’m
proud of him on that account.”

“Then why?” asked the Assistant Principal to draw him out.

“I don’t quite know,” answered Gerald diffidently. “I--I guess because
he’s kind and good, sir. You see, he’s a pretty nice father, Mr.
Collins.” And Gerald looked up smiling a little and blushing a little.
Mr. Collins returned the smile.

“That’s so, Pennimore. And you’re right. It’s the man himself and not
his success that one should admire. But big things always enthuse me,
and this last achievement of your father’s is a big thing, a great big
thing. We little fellows who sit at home and count our fingers have to
admire the big men who get out in the world and do things.”

Gerald shook his head soberly.

“I don’t think you’re one of the ‘little fellows,’ sir,” he said. Mr.
Collins laughed.

“I’m only a big toad in a little puddle, Pennimore. Your father is a
big toad in a big puddle; that’s the difference. Well, and how are you
getting on nowadays?”

“Pretty well, sir, thank you,” answered Gerald.

“That’s good. Come and see me if you strike a snag at any time.” And
Mr. Collins went on.

The fellows, too, had heard of the Steamship King’s latest exploit
and they let Gerald know it. But, whereas four months ago they might
have said things that would have hurt Gerald’s feelings, to-day their
allusions were all good humored. Millener came across Gerald watching
baseball practice.

“Say, Pennimore,” he said gravely, “I wish you’d ask your father when
you see him if he hasn’t got a steamship he doesn’t need. Just a small
one will do, say eight or ten thousand tons.”

And Gerald laughed and promised.

Mr. Pennimore had written Gerald that he would be home nine days
after the latter’s receipt of the letter; that he had sent orders
for the opening of Sound View for the summer and that Gerald should
move over there from the school dormitory as soon as he liked. Gerald
was delighted at the prospect of seeing his father again, but the
permission, which virtually amounted to a suggestion, to change
his abode from Number 28 Clarke to the big room in the big house
overlooking the Sound didn’t please him at all.

“I don’t want to live at home, Dan,” he exclaimed. “Why, that’s no fun
at all! I--I want to stay here with you; and the other fellows,” he
added as an afterthought.

“Well, you wait until your father comes and tell him about it,”
counselled Dan. “It will only be for a couple of weeks, anyway, and I
guess he won’t mind that.”

“Anyhow,” declared Gerald anxiously, “I just won’t go!”



CHAPTER XVIII

FUN AT THE CIRCUS


    “The Monkey he’s a friend of mine,
       In fact, I’ve heard it stated
     That me and he and he and me
       Is distantly related.
     I guess it’s true, for I can do
       Most all the tricks that he cuts,
     And me and he and he and me
       Is awful fond of peanuts!”

Thus sang Alf as, arm in arm with Tom, he swaggered across the bridge
on the way to Greenburg and the circus. Behind walked Dan and Gerald
and Paul Rand. Still further behind came more of Yardley, and further
ahead were others. Yardley was turning out _en masse_ for the circus.
Cuts had been granted in all afternoon recitations and here was a
half-holiday with nothing to do but have a good time! And every fellow
was determined to have it.

“Next verse!” shouted Dan.

“No, chorus first! All together now!”

    “I’d like to be a Monkey monk
       And live up in a tree;
     I’d like to be a big Baboon,
       An Ape or Chimpanzee!
     I’d wear a monkey-jacket and
       Eat cocoanuts and candy;
     I’d wave the Stars and Stripes and be
       A Monkey Doodle Dandy!”

“Next verse!” commanded Dan again.

“Oh, behave,” ordered Tom. “Cut out the comedy.”

“He’s jealous of my beautiful voice,” said Alf. “Oh, look at the pretty
pictures. I shan’t go another step until I’ve seen all the pretty
pictures.”

So they stopped in front of a board fence which was gaudily adorned
with circus posters while Alf feasted his eyes.

“It’s a good idea, you know,” he explained philosophically, “to enjoy
the pictures, because they’re fifty times better than the circus.
Now, Gerald, there, in his innocence, doubtless expects to see seven
elephants doing a cake-walk and balancing themselves on red and
blue seesaws, like that. But the fact is that there’ll be just two
elephants, one old, old elephant, moth-eaten and decrepit, and one
extremely young and frolicsome elephant about the size of a Shetland
pony. And the old elephant won’t do much because he’s too aged, and the
young elephant will just look on because he’s too young and tender for
work. Lies, lies, beautiful lies!”

“Oh, come on,” laughed Dan. “We won’t get any seats if we don’t hustle.”

“Wait, wait until I see the boa-constrictor and the be-oot-shus
lady. She thinks he’s a new set of furs. See the way she’s wrapping
him around her neck? Someone ought to tell her; it’s a shame. I’ll
undeceive her when I arrive, all right, all right. And, oh, the cunning
little zebras! Wouldn’t you love to have a cunning little zebra to ride
on, Dan? My, oh my! I’d ride to Chapel on it every morning and hitch it
to the statue of Apollo outside Room D. And, fellows, fellows! Observe,
pray, the marvelous--”

But he was dragged resisting away.

“Say, didn’t you ever just _cry_ to be in a circus, Tom?” he inquired
as they took up their journey again. “I have. Why, I used to think that
if I could wear pink tights and hang from a trapeze by my toes at the
top of a circus tent I’d be happy for life! If I ever get very, very
wealthy I shall have a circus of my own, Tom. And I’ll let Dan and
Gerald come in free, but you will have to pay, Tom, because you’re so
hard-hearted and wouldn’t let me see the pictures; you’ll have to pay
all of seventeen nice bright pins!”

“Oh, shut up,” growled Tom. “Folks’ll think you’re dippy.”

“Great scheme!” Alf exclaimed radiantly. “When we get to the tent I’ll
put my cap on inside out and make faces and jibber and be a Wild Man
from Wissining! And you chaps can collect dimes from the audience and
we’ll go up to Parker’s afterwards and buy ice-cream sodas. Marvelous!
_Marvelous!_”

The circus occupied a waste lot on the farther side of the town, and it
was a good half-hour’s walk from Yardley. But they reached it in plenty
of time to view the animals in the outer tent before it was time to
repair to the circus proper. And Alf had a glorious time and kept the
others in a continual howl of laughter. Several other Yardley fellows
joined their party and listened convulsed while Alf addressed the
rhinoceros.

“Beautiful Beast!” declaimed Alf. “Child of the trackless jungle!
Denizen of the African waste, we salute you! (Salute, you idiots!)
Thou art indeed handsome! Thou art verily the Tom Dyer of the Animal
Kingdom. Thou art even more so and then some, for Tom has no horn
on his nose. Even thy beautiful feet resemble his and thou hastest
the same simple grandeur of contour, whatever that is. And thou
also hastest a noble grouchiness of expression which remindest us
of our dear Tom. Hast a name, Little One? No? Sayest thou so? Alack
and well-a-day! Thou shalt be named and right nobly, O Timorous
Nightingale of the Dark Continent! Hereafter thou shalt be known as
Tom. Arise, Tom, and chortle thy glee and dance flitsomely! See him
dance flitsomely, fellows?”

The rhinoceros neither altered attitude nor expression, however, and
Alf was dragged away to see the Royal Bengal Tiger, whom he addressed
as “Kitty.”

“Say, Tom,” said Dan presently, when they had completed the circuit of
the tent, “I’ll bet all Broadwood is here. I’ve seen dozens of fellows
already.”

“Really?” asked Tom, with a grin. “Say, we’ll have some fun, then.” He
acquainted the others with Dan’s news and a howl of glee arose.

“We’ll get our crowd all together,” said Alf, “and have a little
cheering to waken things up a bit. Come on.”

So they made their way into the tent, which was already half filled,
and chose seats in an unoccupied section. Then:

“Yardley, this way!” was the cry. “Yardley, this way!”

Yardley responded quickly and in two minutes that section of the stand
was filled with some two hundred youths.

“Now, fellows,” announced Alf, who had constituted himself Master of
Ceremonies, “let’s give a cheer for the elephant!”

They gave it; and followed up with one for the tiger; and followed that
up with one for the monkeys.

“And now, fellows,” Alf cried gleefully, “let’s have one for Broadwood!”

So they cheered Broadwood--after the monkeys--amidst much laughter from
their own section and the adjoining ones. No laughter, however, came
from the stand across the tent where Broadwood was concentrating her
forces. A minute afterwards Broadwood accepted the challenge and began
cheering, following the cheers with football songs. And in the midst of
that there was a blare of music from the red-coated band and the grand
procession appeared. Yardley applauded mightily and cheered everything
and everybody that passed. And then comparative quiet returned and the
exhibitions in the rings began.

It wasn’t a very large circus, but it was a good one, and the fellows
enjoyed it all hugely. When the trick donkey appeared with the leading
clown seated on his back belaboring him with a bladder on the end of a
stick Paul Rand made the hit of the afternoon by bawling loudly;

“_Whoa, Broadwood!_”

Even Broadwood thought that rather funny and laughed. But they tried
for revenge later by dubbing the trick elephant “Yardley.” And when he
finally managed to get all four feet onto a big red and yellow ball of
wood they demanded; “Touchdown, Yardley, touchdown!”

And so the performance drew triumphantly to its close while attendants
passed around selling tickets for the “Grand Concert and Minstrel
Entertainment to begin immediately after the show.”

Gerald, who had had a wonderful time all afternoon, leaned forward and
begged Dan to remain and see the minstrel show. But Alf, who overheard,
said;

“It isn’t worth the price, Gerald. You stay with the crowd and you’ll
have lots more fun.”

“Why?” Gerald asked curiously. But Alf only shook his head and looked
mysterious. Then the performance came to an end and the audience surged
toward the single exit. This was not the way they had entered; instead
of leading back to the smaller tent it deposited the throng out in
the open air in front of the side-shows. This exit was a good twelve
feet wide and was formed by an opening in the big tent and a canvas
passageway some fifteen feet in length. The passageway was a smaller
tent open at each end and supported by half a dozen light poles and as
many guy-ropes. The inner walls were covered with cordial and gaudy
invitations to the side-shows, and a “barker,” armed with a small cane
and a resonant voice, stood under the alluring placards and recited the
attractions of “Fatima, the Turkish Fortune Teller” and “Mademoiselle
Marcelle, the Most Marvelous Snake Charmer of the Century.”

“Hurry up,” whispered Alf as he seized Gerald’s arm and dragged him
through the throng. The exit was close to the seats occupied by the
Yardley contingent and so they were soon outside. There the Yardley
fellows lined up about the entrance and began cheering. Gerald, craning
his head over Alf’s shoulder, watched the exit in excited expectation.
He didn’t know what was going to happen but he was certain something
would. Broadwood, hearing the Yardley cheers, came to a similar
conclusion and kept her forces well together as she made for the exit.
For a minute or two the emerging stream was composed of townsfolk, and
the Yardley cheers continued. Gerald looked about for Dan, but couldn’t
see him. Alf, when questioned, replied enigmatically that Dan had been
assigned to duty. Gerald’s further inquiries were interrupted.

“Here they come!” someone announced in a stage-whisper, and Gerald
saw the fore-rank of Broadwood emerging from the big tent into the
passageway. Instantly Alf was leading a mighty cheer for “Broadwood!
Broadwood! Broadwood!” Some of the oncoming army grinned approval at
the compliment, but there were more who scowled suspiciously, pulled
their caps firmer on their heads, and buttoned their jackets.

“Oh, oh!” murmured Alf delightedly. “Like sheep to the slaughter! Good
old Broadwood! A-ay, Broadwood! Broadwood!”

And then, just as the first of the Broadwood fellows had reached the
outer end of the passageway, a voice shouted “_Let her go!_” Gerald
found himself being pressed back. There were cries of delight all about
him. The canvas passageway swayed, the roof and walls settled inward
and the tent descended calmly, inexorably upon the struggling crowd
beneath. There was a wild and prolonged howl of joy from Yardley, a
smothered babel of alarm and consternation from under the heaving
canvas, and then Gerald, with Alf dragging him along, found himself
flying wildly from the scene, tripping over ropes, colliding with
persons, and shouting triumphantly as he went.

A quarter of a mile away the flying hordes of Yardley drew pace
and breath, cheered approvingly for themselves and tauntingly for
Broadwood, and then, forming into lines eight abreast, marched in
triumph back to school singing their songs. When, breathless and
exultant, Tom, Alf, Dan, and Gerald found themselves in Number 7
Dudley, Gerald alone expressed a regret.

“Why didn’t you let me help cut the ropes?” he asked Alf.

“Cut the ropes?” asked Alf. “Why, child, how you do talk! Nobody didn’t
cut no ropes!”

“Then how did they get the tent down?” persisted Gerald, looking from
Alf to Dan and from Dan to Tom.

“Well,” said Alf, settling himself comfortably on the window-seat,
“that’s what you might term a coincidence. Of course we don’t know
anything for certain, but it does look as though the guy-ropes all got
loosened at the same moment. Then the natural thing happened; the tent
came down. It certainly was a surprise to me! Why, I no more looked for
anything like that to happen than--than--”

“Well,” laughed Tom, “it means that there won’t be any circus for
Yardley next Spring.”

“Which is a very good thing,” responded Alf virtuously. “I am convinced
that circuses are bad for us; they take our thoughts away from our
studies, and--and lead us into temptation. No circus, no tent; no tent,
no guy-ropes; no guy-ropes, no--ahem--coincidences!”

“Besides,” said Tom, “you and I will be too busy trying to pass final
exams to have any time for circuses.”

“That’s all right for you fellows,” said Gerald mournfully, “but I like
circuses, and I want to go next year.”

“Away with vain regrets,” cried Alf gayly. “Comfort yourself with the
knowledge that you have witnessed the glorification of Yardley and the
discomfiture of Broadwood. Recall, I pray, the lines of the poet:

    “‘Something accomplished, something done
        To earn a night’s repose!’”

Of course the Faculty didn’t remain long in ignorance of the incident
and the next morning Mr. Collins read the School a short but eloquent
lecture on the subject of Behavior in Public. But the matter ended
there. A Second Class boy named Farnham, seeking Mr. Collins’ room
the evening before by appointment, had found the host and Mr. Austin,
another of the instructors, laughing loudly, and although they had
sobered down instantly when they had heard his knock on the partly
opened door, Farnham had overheard enough to convince him that the
subject of their mirth had been the tent episode. When this had
percolated through School, as it very shortly did, all fear of
punishment faded. Mr. Collins wasn’t formidable when he laughed.

A few days later Mr. Pennimore’s retinue of servants came down from the
city and opened Sound View for the summer. Gerald spent an hour at the
station that morning between recitations watching the stablemen unload
the horses and traps and hobnobbing with Higgins, the chauffeur, who,
having driven his car down by road, was taking a hand in the unloading.
In the afternoon Gerald went over home and patronized the housekeeper
until the good soul was quite in awe of him. The house was all ready
for Mr. Pennimore’s arrival, and that gentleman was expected in two or
three days. Gerald spent a half hour in his own rooms going through
his belongings. Strange to say, many things which had been precious to
him not much more than six months before to-day held no attractions.
Very soon he had a pile of toys and playthings in the middle of the
floor and was directing their removal and destruction. He got his stamp
albums down and looked through them listlessly, replacing them with a
frown.

“Any fellow can collect stamps,” he muttered. “I’m going to give those
away to someone. Maybe Harry would like them.”

Then he climbed the stairs to the gymnasium which his father had had
arranged for him three years before and looked about it superciliously.
It wasn’t much like the gymnasium at school, he thought. He did the
giant swing on the rings, pulled once or twice at the chest-weights and
turned his back on the room.

“Good enough for a kid,” he muttered as he went downstairs, “but I
won’t use it much, I guess.” He looked at his watch, found he had still
time to reach the field before baseball practice ended, and took his
departure.

Two days later, just at noon, as he was crossing from Oxford to Clarke
the boom of a gun reached him. Hurrying to the edge of The Prospect, he
looked seaward. There, circling in toward Sound View, a little cloud of
smoke still wreathing at her bow, was a great white steam yacht. It was
the Princess! With beating heart Gerald watched. The big boat slowed
down, an anchor splashed into the sea, and the jar and jangle of the
chain running through the hawse-hole came to him. Amidship a boom swung
outward, a little launch was lowered from deck to water, white-clad
figures moved here and there, and then a form in dark clothes went down
the steps, and--

But now Gerald was racing down the terrace, across the bridge and along
the wood path to meet his father.



CHAPTER XIX

WHAT PELL SCHOOL DID


Dan learned of Mr. Pennimore’s arrival after school.

“I told him you couldn’t come over this afternoon,” said Gerald, “on
account of practice. So he said I must bring you to dinner at seven.”

“Gee! I’d like to go,” answered Dan wistfully, “but there wouldn’t be
anything I could eat, I guess. It isn’t exactly a training table you
folks set, Gerald. Besides, even if you had cold roast beef or poached
eggs and such things, I’d want to eat the whole menu. I wish I wasn’t
in training.”

“You don’t either,” said Gerald indignantly. “You’re mighty proud of
it, and you know it! My! I wish I was in your place! Harry Merrow says
you’re certain to get into the Broadwood game, Dan.”

Dan shook his head sadly.

“Merrow is a good little chap,” he said, “but I’ll never get into the
Broadwood game unless they let me in for a minute at the end to give
me my Y. And as I’ve got two more years that isn’t likely. Of course I
don’t want anything to happen to Condit, but--” Followed an eloquent
silence.

“You can play just as well as he can,” said Gerald stoutly.

“No, I can’t. That is, I know the game as well, maybe, but he’s been on
the team a year already and he knows what to do and how to do it. He’s
had more experience. Oh, I don’t care--much. Maybe I’ll make it next
year. The trouble is, though, that Condit will be here then, too.”

“Danforth won’t, though,” replied Gerald. “He’s a First Class man. You
might make second next year, Dan.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” said Dan more cheerfully. “I’d rather make
second, too. Why don’t you bring your father up to-morrow to see the
game, Gerald? Wouldn’t he care for it?”

“I will. It’s Pell School, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and the last game before Broadwood. We’re going to get licked,
they say. Now, about this evening, Gerald. I can’t come to dinner but I
want to see your father awfully. Suppose I come over afterwards?”

“Of course! And we’ll come home together. Father can’t understand why
I don’t want to go over there to live. But he says I can stay on here
until school closes if I’ll take luncheon and dinner with him. I must
see Mr. Collins about it.”

“And I must dig out for practice. I guess, though, there won’t be much
work this afternoon. Hello, did someone knock?”

It was Harry Merrow. He wanted Gerald to go canoeing with him, but
Gerald explained that his father had returned and that he was going
over there for the afternoon. So Harry decided to go down to the field
with Dan and watch practice. They parted in front of Oxford, Gerald
running in to the Office to get permission from Mr. Collins to spend
all the time he wanted at Sound View and the other two continuing
around to the gymnasium. Dan found himself on third base when practice
began, for, although the regulars were to have an easy time of it in
view of the hard contest set for the morrow, the substitutes were put
through a strenuous afternoon.

Supper over, Dan set out for Sound View and found a hearty welcome
awaiting him. Mr. Pennimore had to have a full account from Dan of
everything that had transpired since his departure abroad. Dan tried
to hurry over that part of his narrative which concerned Gerald’s
unannounced departure from school, but Mr. Pennimore wanted full
details. He shook his head when Dan had finished.

“I didn’t think you were of the run-away kind, Gerald,” he said
regretfully. Gerald looked rather ashamed.

“Well, sir, it was a silly thing to do,” said Dan, “but Gerald had a
lot of troubles about that time, Mr. Pennimore.”

“Running away doesn’t help,” replied Gerald’s father dryly. “The
troubles can always run faster than you can. Next time, son, you hold
your ground and fight it out.”

“Yes, sir, I will next time,” answered Gerald. “I--I know better now.”

“Well, that’s something. I don’t see but what you’ve been learning a
good many things--beside algebra.”

“Yes, sir,” said Gerald meekly. Dan smiled as he caught the twinkle in
Mr. Pennimore’s eye.

“I suppose you’re doing pretty good work in algebra now, son?”

“I expect to get C plus, sir,” said Gerald eagerly.

“C; hm; that’s the highest mark, is it?”

“N-no, sir, you can get a B--sometimes.”

“How about an A?”

Gerald shook his head decidedly. “Not from Kilts, sir. They say he
never gave anyone an A but once and then it was a mistake.”

“That’s true, sir,” laughed Dan. “B plus is about the best you can
expect from Kilts.”

“Well, if that is so you’re doing pretty well, aren’t you, Gerald?”

“Yes, sir; Kilts says so himself.”

“And how about other studies?”

“Oh, I don’t mind them,” replied Gerald carelessly. “Maybe I will get
an A in English. Say, though, you just ought to have been here and seen
the Class Games! Weren’t they great, Dan?”

And thereupon the conversation switched from the dangerous topic of
studies to the enthralling one of baseball. Dan’s suggestion that
perhaps Mr. Pennimore would like to see the morrow’s game with Pell
School was well received and Mr. Pennimore promised to accompany Gerald
to that event.

“I had already promised myself a vacation until Monday,” he said, “so
I could see something of this good-for-nothing boy of mine. I find,
however, that my appearance on the scene is of much less interest to
him than the next ball game. I’m afraid you’ve pretty effectually
weaned him away from me, Dan?”

“We’re all rather excited about baseball just now, sir,” replied Dan
apologetically.

“And you’ve got to go over to Broadwood, sir, and see the big game!”
exclaimed Gerald eagerly. “You will, won’t you? We could go over in
the car and have a dandy time. You could ride over with us, couldn’t
you, Dan?”

“Afraid I’ll have to go in the barge with the team,” answered Dan. “I
wish you could see that game, though, Mr. Pennimore. It will be a fine
one.”

“Well, we will see. Perhaps I can. Saturday, you say? I’ll think it
over.”

Mr. Pennimore watched the contest the next afternoon from a seat in
the grand stand, Gerald beside him. Mr. Pennimore didn’t know when he
had last seen a baseball game and he had to have a good many things
explained to him. But he had a competent and willing tutor, and long
before the game was at an end he had become imbued with some of
Gerald’s enthusiasm, and, if he didn’t jump out of his seat every two
minutes and yell himself hoarse after the manner of his companion, he
became much interested and shared Gerald’s sorrow and disappointment at
the outcome of the match.

For Yardley went down in ignominious defeat that day. Ignominious is
not too strong a term, either. Yardley played, to quote Payson, the
coach, “like a lot of babies.” Just what the trouble was no one seemed
to know, although one heard all sorts of explanations offered after
the game was over and Pell School had departed, cheering and happy,
with one more victory added to their long list for the season. Yardley
had played mighty poor ball; that was the long and short of it. They
seemed to have forgotten everything they had ever known about batting,
fielding, base-running, and team work. Even the redoubtable Colton,
who had been sent into the box in the sixth inning to save the game,
had failed to pitch his wonted game, and had been unmercifully slammed
around the lot. The final score was 8 to 1, and an unbiased critic, had
there been one on hand, would have told you that the score didn’t begin
to show the relative merits of the two teams as they played that day.
Pell School simply overwhelmed her opponent, taking quick advantage of
every misplay, batting like National Leaguers, and running the bases
like mice.

Payson was discouraged. There had been no slump all season, and now it
had come at the eleventh hour, and he very greatly doubted whether in
the four days of practice which remained before the final game the team
could be brought together again in condition. It was one of the worst
slumps he had ever had to contend with, and the situation looked pretty
desperate to him.

The team and substitutes trotted back to the gymnasium after the game
with no pleasant anticipations. That they would receive a frightful
wigging from Payson was a foregone conclusion; that some of them might
lose their places was not improbable. But Payson, after looking over
the tired, anxious faces before him for a moment, closed his lips
tightly, swung on his heel and left them. He might, he told himself,
have said a great many things, but they were in no condition to hear
them. Fault-finding wasn’t going to help at this crisis. If the
fellows were to be brought back to their game, they must be rested and
encouraged, and encouragement was something Payson couldn’t give them
that afternoon.

His unexpected departure left the team dazed, and for a moment no one
made a sound. Then little Durfee, the shortstop, who was only a Third
Class boy and might be forgiven a show of emotion, put one bare arm
over his eyes and began to sob. That broke the tension.

“Well,” said Millener grimly, “what he had to say must have been pretty
bad if he couldn’t say it. Now, look here, you fellows!”

Every one turned toward him, and even the rubber stopped his
administrations.

“Payson couldn’t talk, but I can. And I say we--mind you, I say _we_,
for I was as rotten as any of you--I say, we ought to be whipped, every
one of us, for the fool exhibition we made of ourselves to-day. You
know it, too. There wasn’t a man on the team played his real game. We
were a poor lot. That’s all for that. There’s another week before the
Broadwood game. It’s enough, too. Let’s get down to work on Monday
and put our hearts into it. I don’t say let’s forget to-day’s game; I
say let’s remember it. Let’s remember it a week from to-day, and show
Broadwood that we aren’t the lot of rotters Pell School made us look to
be. Let’s show the School that we can play ball, after all, and that
they aren’t mistaken in putting faith in us. Let’s work--and fight--and
play the game as we _can_ play it! What do you say?”

What they said was a lot. And it was very loud and very earnest, and
after they had said it every fellow felt a whole lot better, even
little Durfee drying his eyes shame-facedly, and summoning a brave
smile to his face.

Dan felt the enthusiasm as well as the rest, and only wished that he
might have the chance that the others would have of proving himself.
He had sat on the bench all the afternoon, watching and waiting and
hoping. But, irony of ironies, where all the team had played poor ball,
there was one who had done a little better than the rest; and that one
was Condit! Dan was disheartened. Even Danforth, the crack second
baseman, had been outplayed by Condit; in fact, Danforth had managed
to make about as poor an exhibition of himself as possible, letting
hit after hit go through his position, and missing more than one throw
to second. But Danforth’s demoralization brought Dan no comfort, for
Danforth, he knew, was a fellow who would make good the next time;
Danforth had proved himself time and again. No, try as he would, Dan
couldn’t see himself in the Broadwood game, and he took his way back
to Clarke, the one silent member of the little throng of players and
substitutes, feeling rather out of it.

But by Monday he had reached a more philosophical frame of mind. Up
until Saturday he had hoped. Now he had stopped hoping and found that
he could be quite cheerful. He might possibly get into the game for
an inning or a half an inning, and, anyway, there was another year
coming. Besides, life was pretty busy nowadays, and there wasn’t much
time for thought, happy or regretful. In a little more than a week
Graduation Day would come, bringing the end of the school year and the
commencement of the Summer holidays. Meanwhile, the First Class fellows
went about with worried countenances and absent-minded glances, being
in the middle of final examinations. All the other fellows were doing
finals, too, but it isn’t so serious when you’re not graduating and
when a diploma doesn’t depend on your ability to present in a few hours
what it has taken you a whole school year to store up.

The Weather Man had evidently determined to do all he could to make
the final week of school memorably pleasant. Monday started in with
a clear sky, and the hottest of June suns. Tuesday the sky was even
bluer and clearer, and the sun hotter. And so it went, day after day,
with the thermometer up in the eighties. What breezes there were, were
tiny, timid, ineffectual little breaths that scarcely stirred the
limp leaves. On Thursday a great bank of white clouds rolled up from
the horizon and at three o’clock a mighty thunder storm was splitting
open the heavens and deluging the earth. It lasted only an hour or
so, however, and then went off muttering and rumbling into the east,
and the sun came out again as jovially ardent as ever. Friday brought
unclouded skies, and Saturday dawned hot and clear, and the School,
final examinations over with for good or bad, and only the Broadwood
baseball game to think about, rejoiced and was glad.

But I am far ahead of my story, for many things happened before
Saturday’s sun came blazing up out of the east.



CHAPTER XX

THE SLUMP


Contrary to expectation, Monday’s baseball practice was easy and short.
Payson was affable, smiling, unhurried. Apparently he hadn’t a care
in the world to-day. There was a brief session at the batting net,
followed by fielding practice for infielders and outfielders. And then,
when the fellows looked for a game with the Second team, Payson waved
his hand in dismissal.

The players were distinctly disappointed. They had nerved themselves
up for a hard afternoon, determined to work as they had never worked
before, and they hadn’t been given a chance to distinguish themselves!
They felt cheated and cast somber looks at the coach as they trotted
off. They had been fully prepared, even anxious, to suffer martyrdom,
and instead had been treated like so many little kids. It wasn’t
fair! They wanted to be raged at, scolded, driven; and here they
were trotting up the hill to the gymnasium after the easiest sort
of practice, as fresh and untired as you please! What sort of a way
was this to prepare for the Broadwood game? Didn’t Payson realize
that there remained only three days for practice? They talked it over
amongst themselves disgustedly and the consensus of opinion was that
Payson believed them to be stale and was afraid to work them.

“Stale!” exclaimed Alf. “Poppycock! Why, if I felt any better I’d go to
work!”

“Well, he will take it out of us to-morrow,” said Danforth hopefully,
and every one brightened up. But Danforth was mistaken, for Tuesday’s
practice was much like Monday’s. They were kept out a quarter of an
hour longer, but Payson still wore the same look of untroubled ease he
had worn the day before, and not once did he find fault. Corrections
were suggested pleasantly now and then, but no harsh, compelling
demands to “Ginger up, now!” or “Get into it! Get into it!” passed the
coach’s lips. When he wasn’t batting up, Payson stood, for the most
part, in tranquil conversation with Andy Ryan, the trainer.

The result was that Captain Millener and the players themselves took
affairs into their own hands, and as soon as it became evident that
Payson didn’t care whether they worked hard or not, they began to
make things hum. While it lasted it was the snappiest practice of the
year. When, all too soon, Payson called a halt, the fellows went off
secretly exultant; they had done their work well in spite of Payson!

“I guess we showed him!” whispered little Durfee to Reid, casting a
triumphant glance at Payson. “We’ll win that game Saturday whether he
wants us to or not!”

After the fellows had left the field, Payson and Ryan fell into step
and followed them up the path to the gymnasium. There was admiration in
the trainer’s tone as he turned to the coach with:

“Well, sir, it worked like you said it would! I’d never have believed
it!” Payson nodded.

“Yes,” he replied, “they think they’re getting the best of me, and
they’re tickled to death.” He smiled. “I’ll have to give them a little
stiffer practice to-morrow, or they’ll mob me!”

But there was one player who, even though he was only a substitute,
wasn’t fooled. That was Dan. He and Alf talked it over in the latter’s
room that evening, while Tom and Gerald played chess.

“Don’t you fool yourself,” said Dan. “Payson knows what he’s doing,
Alf. This afternoon when Millener was ragging Smith for not running in
with the ball after catching a fly, I saw Payson grinning away like
anything. He thought no one was looking. But I was. He just made up
his mind that if he let you fellows alone for a few days you’d get mad
and play the game just to spite him! And you’re doing it, too!”

“‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings,’” murmured Alf. “Well,
maybe you’re right, O Solomon the Great. I believe you are. For it
isn’t like Payson to get cold feet; he isn’t a quitter, not by a long
shot! Anyhow, it worked. We had the worst case of slump I ever did
see last Saturday, and now every fellow’s on his toes again, and just
aching for work. If we keep it up we’ll give Broadwood the biggest
surprise of their lives on Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if that
licking that Pell School gave us turned out to be a very fortunate
thing. We’re all hot under the collar about it. We want to get
back at some one, and Broadwood’s the only victim in sight. Yes, I
believe there’ll be a whole lot doing Saturday! Say, that was a dandy
two-bagger of yours to-day. Just a nice, clean hit that came when it
was needed. Why don’t you do that sort of thing oftener? You’d make the
team in a minute, if you did.”

“Oh, I guess it was an accident,” replied Dan. “I’ve about concluded
that it’s always an accident when I connect with the ball. I can’t
judge ’em for a cent.”

“Well, keep at it. We’ll have you on second next year, all right. How
did you get along with exams to-day?”

“Fair, I guess. How about you?” Alf made a face.

“Bad. I couldn’t remember a thing they’d ever taught me in math this
morning. Still, I answered five out of nine, and that’s something. Oh,
I’ll pass all right, I guess.”

“I did better than that,” laughed Dan, “but I don’t know how many
answers were correct. By the way, Gerald, I sat next to your friend
Thompson at exams this morning. I think he wanted to ask after your
health, only Old Tige kept too close a watch on us.”

Gerald paused in his battle and looked across with a smile.

“If he ever does ask after my health,” he responded, “you just tell him
that I’m feeling strong and willing.”

“Good boy!” laughed Alf. “It’s remarkable, though, isn’t it, the way
Gerald’s bloodthirstiness has waned? A couple of months or so ago
he couldn’t wait to engage Thompson in mortal combat. And now that
I’ve taught him how to fight he just sits around and plays chess with
questionable characters.”

“You do love a scrap, Alf, don’t you?” asked Dan with a smile. Alf
nodded.

“Pretty well, thanks. My trouble is that I can’t find any one to scrap
with I can’t lick with both eyes shut.” He looked slyly at Tom. Tom
grunted without raising his eyes from the chess board.

“Both eyes shut before or after the scrap?” asked Gerald innocently.

“That’ll be about all from you, young Mr. Pennimore,” replied Alf. “I’m
disappointed in you. I thought you were going to square yourself with
Thompson as soon as you could use your hands a bit. What’s the trouble?
Have you two kissed and made up?”

“I just don’t take any notice of him any more,” replied Gerald calmly.
“If I quarreled with him now, he’d think it was because he kept me out
of Cambridge.”

“I suppose he did do it?” inquired Tom.

“Of course,” Alf answered. “Who else was there? But you’re right,
Gerald; you can’t quarrel with him for that.”

“It isn’t absolutely necessary for Gerald to quarrel with Thompson
about anything, is it?” asked Dan idly.

“N-no, I suppose not,” Alf laughed. “Only it seems such a waste of--of
ability! Here’s Gerald a perfectly good boxer and nothing doing.”

“I’ve got the punching-bag,” said Gerald. “I’ve been giving that some
awful jolts, Alf.”

“Serves it right. Say, Tom, do you remember the mean trick the fellows
put up on Tubby Jones last year? Did Tubby ever tell you about that,
Dan? I guess he wouldn’t, though; Tubby never relished jokes on himself
much.”

“I don’t remember,” said Tom. “Tubby had so many jokes played on him.
What was this one, Alf?”

“I was thinking of the time Warren and Hadlock and Dyer and two or
three other fellows tied the punching-bag back, and--”

“I remember,” chuckled Tom. “It almost killed Tubby, though.”

“He was more scared than hurt,” said Alf.

“What was it?” Dan asked. “What did they do?”

“Took a piece of stout cord and tied one end to the punching-bag;
hitched the other end of the cord to one of the ladders, and pulled
the bag back until it was leaning over about like that, at an angle of
forty-five degrees. Then Warren told Tubby he’d give him half a dollar
if he’d stand still and watch the minute hand of the clock for five
minutes. You see, Warren told him he couldn’t stay awake that long.”

“That wasn’t it,” interrupted Tom. “Tubby was always leaning against
something when he wasn’t sitting down or lying down, and Warren bet
him he couldn’t stand up straight for five minutes. Tubby thought he
could, and needed the money.”

“Was that it? Well, anyhow, Tubby took the bet, and Warren and Hadlock
and some others went out on the floor and put Tubby in front of the
punching-bag, opposite the clock.”

“Gee!” murmured Gerald.

“So Tubby plants himself with his back to the bag, and Hadlock says
‘Go!’ and Tubby watches the clock. ‘One minute,’ says Hadlock. ‘Two
minutes.’ And then, ‘Three minutes!’ Poor Tubby’s eyes were watering
from watching the minute hand so hard, and he was grinning like
a catfish at the thought of winning the fifty cents. Then, ‘Four
minutes!’ announces Hadlock, and the crowd, which had grown pretty big
by this time, begins to cheer. ‘Four and a half!’ says Hadlock, and
then Dyer comes down on the cord with his knife--_zip!_--and Mister
Bag shoots out--_biff!_--and Tubby does a grand tumble. The bag hit
him square on the back of the head and he went about five feet through
the air before he landed. Luckily they’d spread a couple of mattresses
in front of him. If they hadn’t, he might have broken his nose, for he
came down plumb on his face. It was the biggest surprise Tubby ever
had, I guess, and he was so scared when they picked him up that he
couldn’t speak. After a bit he found his tongue, though, and then the
things he said were a plenty. Hadlock tried to soothe him down; told
him it was a shame he’d lost by half a minute, and if he liked they’d
try it again. But Tubby wasn’t enthusiastic.”

“Was he hurt?” asked Gerald anxiously.

“No, not a bit; except that he had a bad headache the rest of the day,
I believe. That did Tubby good, though, Tom. He was never nearly so
fresh after that.”

“He needed it,” Tom grunted. “He wasn’t so bad when he roomed with you
last Fall, Dan, but the year before he was an awful little fat beast.
Your move, Gerald.”



CHAPTER XXI

DROWNED!


The next afternoon, Wednesday, baseball practice started off with a
dash that secretly delighted Payson’s heart. Outwardly, however, he
was as calm and untroubled as ever. Alf had confided Dan’s theory to
Millener, but the captain had let it go no further, and the team still
labored under the delusion that they were spiting the coach. At the
batting net, fellows who were scarcely known to hit the ball safely,
worked in a perfect frenzy of ambition and pounded the leather all
around the field. This put Reid, the substitute pitcher, on his mettle,
and a regular duel ensued between him and the eager batters.

Gerald and Harry Merrow, on their way to the boathouse, paused a while
behind the net and watched proceedings. One by one the players faced
Reid until he had made some sort of a hit; Millener, Colton, Loring,
Condit, Danforth, Durfee, Richards, and so on down the list of first
team men and substitutes. When Alf cracked out a long, low drive
that would have been good for three bases in a game, Gerald howled
with glee, and again, when Dan managed to send a hard, low one just
over Reid’s head, Gerald shouted “Good for you, Dan!” and didn’t at
all mind the amusement he created. When the players left the net and
trotted over to the diamond, Gerald and Harry continued on their way to
the river, discussing the nine and the chances of victory. Harry was
pessimistic.

“Broadwood’s got a crackajack of a team this year,” he said. “Look
at the way they licked Porter! And that fellow Herring, their best
pitcher, is a wonder. I saw him pitch last year.”

“Is he better than Colton?” asked Gerald. Harry frowned and hesitated.

“Well, he’s as good. But he isn’t the all-round player that Colton is.
Colton can bat, you know; he’s the best batter we’ve got.”

“Alf Loring’s good, too,” said Gerald jealously.

“You bet he is! He and Colton are both dandies! Oh, it’s going to be a
ripping game, all right. I wouldn’t miss it for anything. But, just the
same, I look to see Broadwood win, say about five to four, or something
like that.”

“I don’t believe she will,” answered Gerald.

“Want to bet?” asked Harry eagerly.

“I don’t bet, but--say, I’ll tell you what I will do, Harry. I’ve got
a dandy stamp collection; three big books; some of them cost a lot of
money. I’ve got almost all the real rare ones, too. Do you collect?”

“Yes, I used to. But I haven’t had any new ones lately. Why?”

“Well, if Broadwood wins I’ll give you my collection.”

“The--the whole thing?” asked Harry incredulously. Gerald nodded. Harry
thought a moment, and then asked suspiciously;

“And if we win, what do I give you?”

“Nothing. If you did it would be just the same as betting, and father
won’t let me bet. Is it a go?”

“Sure!” answered Harry. “Only--only it’s pretty one-sided, isn’t it? It
doesn’t seem just right to take the stamps, Gerald.”

“That’s all right. Besides, I don’t believe you’ll have a chance. We’re
going to win.”

“You wait and see,” said Harry. “How many stamps have you got?”

“I haven’t counted them lately,” replied Gerald carelessly. “Over two
thousand, though.” Harry whistled. “I guess it’s only fair, though, to
tell you that I--I’m tired of them. If you win I shan’t care much about
the stamps, I mean.”

“I shall,” laughed Harry. “I don’t really want Broadwood to win,
but--but, gee, I’d like to have those books!”

They lifted their canoe out, set it in the water and climbed into it.

“Where’ll we go?” asked Harry.

“Let’s go up to Flat Island, and then into Marsh Lake on the way back,”
answered Gerald. “There’s Dyer and Burgess up there in that blue canoe.
See ’em? Ready?”

They dug their paddles and headed upstream. There were a good many
canoes out and Gerald and Harry had one or two brisk encounters on the
way up. At Flat Island several canoes were pulled up onto the shore and
a number of fellows were lolling about in the shade of the willows.
They went on by the island for a quarter of a mile to where the river
narrows, and then turned and floated back with the tide. Harry had got
over his nervousness and no longer insisted on being close to shore.

“This is something like,” he said, settling comfortably down in the
stern, where, with just a touch of his paddle now and then he could
keep the canoe’s nose pointed right. And Gerald, laying his paddle
across his knees, agreed. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the river
never looked lovelier. It was pretty warm, but now and then a little
breeze crept across the marshland, waving the tall, lush grasses, and
brought relief. The river reflected the intense blue of the sky, the
willows and alders along the bank were vividly green, and to Gerald
came the fanciful thought that Nature was divided in its allegiance,
displaying equally the colors of Yardley and Broadwood.

“Just the same,” he muttered half aloud, with a glance at the sky, “the
blue’s on top!”

“Eh?” asked Harry sleepily.

To the left, over on the links, seven couples dotted the turf. Golf
enthusiasts these, so intent on following the little white spheres that
they had no thought for the temperature. Further along was the field,
sprinkled with the blue-and-gray-uniformed ball players. Occasionally,
when the breeze died away, the sharp crack of ball against bat reached
the occupants of the canoe. Presently the mouth of the tiny stream
which wound inward to Marsh Lake was reached, and the lads took up
their paddles again to battle with the sluggish current. The canoe was
headed in between the tall rushes, which in places almost met across
the little passage, and all their ingenuity was required to keep their
shallow craft from running aground on the bars and flats. It was very
hot in here, and swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitoes were lying in wait
for the adventurers.

“Who suggested coming in here?” asked Gerald, pausing in his paddling
to defend himself from the hungry horde.

“You did,” responded Harry. “Don’t you wish you hadn’t? I’m just a mass
of bites already.”

“Well, let’s get out of it,” said Gerald.

“Let’s keep on; it’s only a little ways more.”

Another turn of the winding stream and the bushes gave way and the
canoe floated on Marsh Lake, a good-sized sheet of water, set in a
wide, green sea of marsh grass and rushes, which extended for a good
half-mile to the westward, and perhaps half that distance north and
south. Now and then a clump of low bushes or a group of small willows
stood up above the surrounding flatness. Blackbirds and bobolinks and
sparrows held high carnival amidst the swaying reeds, frogs splashed
and challenged gruffly, and the hum of thousands of insects filled the
air. Into and out of the lake dozens of little streams made their way,
all so much alike that it was the custom to thrust a paddle into the
bank as one entered, so as to distinguish the outlet toward the river
from the other streams which meandered in meaningless fashion across
the marsh, twisting and doubling, and, in many cases, leading nowhere
at all. So Harry stuck his paddle down into the mud at the bottom of
the lake, near the margin, and left Gerald to propel the craft across
the unruffled water.

They went very quietly, for sometimes there were adventures awaiting
the visitor to Marsh Lake. It was a favorite place for ducks and
loons and snipe, and more than one heron had been surprised there.
But to-day they discovered nothing more remarkable than two big mud
turtles, which slipped into the water from the log upon which they had
been sunning themselves. A pair of kingfishers came winging across the
marsh, looking for supper, but the first glimpse of the canoe sent them
wheeling northward, scolding discordantly. Gerald paddled slowly around
the lake, fighting off the mosquitoes, which, if less troublesome here
than in the stream, were still annoying.

“Let’s go back,” he said finally. “There’s nothing here to-day.
Sometime I’m coming up here to catch a turtle.”

“A dip-net’s the thing for them,” said Harry knowingly. “I’ve got one
at home, and I’ll bring it along in the Fall.”

“I’ve heard you could catch them with a hook and a piece of raw meat,”
Gerald replied. “I’d like to try it some time. Where’s that paddle,
Harry?” Harry looked around.

“It ought to be over there,” he said finally, “but I don’t see it.”

“Neither do I. I thought, though, that--There it is; see? Gee, it’s
lucky we put it there! I’d never have gone out that way.”

“I would,” answered Harry. “The river’s toward the east, you know,
and--”

“And there are at least five outlets in that direction,” finished
Gerald sarcastically, as he sent the canoe across the pond to where the
paddle stuck out of the water.

“Stop paddling,” said Harry. “I can get it.”

He reached out and took hold of the paddle and gave it a tug.

“Come out of that,” he grunted.

“Wait till I push up nearer,” advised Gerald.

“Never mind; I can get it,” was the reply. Harry stood up gingerly in
the canoe, and gave a mighty tug at the paddle. It came up so quickly
that he lost his balance, the paddle flew over his head, and the canoe
rocked dangerously. Making a frantic effort to recover his balance,
Harry fell with one knee against the opposite edge of the craft, and in
the next moment both boys were in the water.

Gerald came up sputtering and laughing. “You’re a nice one!” he cried.
He had kept hold of his own paddle, but the one which had caused the
catastrophe was floating a good ten feet away, while the canoe, which
had promptly righted itself, was rocking sluggishly, half full of
water, just beyond reach. Gerald thought he could touch bottom, but
when he tried it, he found that in spite of the fact that he was hardly
a dozen feet from shore, he was still over his depth. Then he looked
for Harry. That youth was nowhere to be seen, and Gerald, with one hand
on the canoe, stared about him in perplexity and a growing uneasiness.

“Harry!” he called.

There was no answer. The surface of the pond was still and untroubled.
For an instant he thought that perhaps his companion had waded
ashore, and was hiding in the bushes and reeds. But there hadn’t
been time for that. With growing horror, Gerald realized that Harry
had not come to the surface after he had sunk; that he was down
there--somewhere--caught, perhaps, in the mud--drowning!

A wild desire for flight almost overpowered him. For a moment longer
he clung desperately to the canoe, white of face and with staring eyes
fixed in terror on the calm surface of the treacherous pond. Then, with
an inarticulate cry and an awful fear clutching at his heart, he tore
himself loose from the canoe and dove.

       *       *       *       *       *

Baseball practice had been longer to-day, and a five-inning game with
the Second Nine had brought it to a close at a few minutes before
five. Up in the gymnasium there was a merry babel of voices, mingled
with the rushing of water in the shower baths. Dan had played at
third for a part of the time, and now, glowing from his work and the
subsequent shower, he was dressing himself leisurely and happily in the
locker-room, listening to the talk about him, and now and then throwing
in a word. The windows were open and the steam was writhing out into
the sunlight. Payson had taken his departure and the discussion of
the day’s work was free and untrammelled. To be sure, Andy Ryan was
still present, but every one knew that Andy never carried tales. And
so Lawrence, who played rightfield, and was in the First Class, wasn’t
mincing matters in his loud criticism of Payson. Millener was trying
to “call him down,” but every one was talking at once, and his efforts
were not very successful. The discussion was waxing vehement when the
swinging door at the foot of the stair was thrown open and an excited
youth stumbled in.

“Have you fellows heard the news?” he cried.

[Illustration: “‘Have you fellows heard the news?’ he cried.”]

The confusion ceased and all faces turned toward him.

“Young Pennimore and another fellow, Merrill, or something like that,
were drowned just now over in Marsh Lake!”



CHAPTER XXII

THE RESCUE


There was a moment of stunned silence. Then twenty voices broke into
ejaculations of surprise and dismay, and the bearer of the tidings was
surrounded by a questioning group.

Dan sat an instant sick and faint. Then he leaped to his feet and
thrust his way through the cluster of questioning fellows.

“I don’t believe it,” he said forcibly. “Where’d you hear it?”

“It’s all over school,” answered the boy. “They brought them back just
now, and they’re in Merle. And Arthur Thompson was with them, and--”

“Thompson!” cried Dan. “Was he there?”

“Look here, Billy,” said Millener sternly, “did you see the--the
bodies?”

“No, I was in the village. Joe Dexter told me just now in front of
Oxford.”

“Did he see them?”

“I think so. Anyhow, it’s true, Millener.”

Dan felt a clutch on his arm and looked around into the anxious face of
Alf.

“Come,” he said gruffly, “and let’s find out the truth about this.
Where’s your jacket?”

“I don’t know; I don’t need it. Come on.” As they ran across to the
entrance of Merle Hall, Dan turned fiercely to Alf. “If it’s true,” he
said, “and that chap Thompson had anything to do with it, I’ll wring
his neck! I’ll half kill him!”

“And I’ll help,” answered Alf grimly.

The corridor of the building was filled with an excited throng of
fellows, attracted by the wild rumors which had spread about the
school. Alf seized on the first fellow he met.

“Here,” he demanded, “what’s the truth about this? Has any one been
drowned?”

“They don’t know yet,” was the reply. “They’re working over him now.
They say--”

“Working over who?” interrupted Dan.

“Harry Merrow. They say he was under the water almost five minutes,
and--”

“And Pennimore?” gasped Dan.

“He’s all right. And Thompson, too. They were here a minute ago.” Their
informant glanced eagerly around in the hope of being able to exhibit
them. “They had an awful time getting him up. He was stuck in the mud.
Look, here comes the doctor now!”

It was the physician from Greenburg, and with him was Mr. Collins. The
crowd in the corridor stopped talking and made way for them. The doctor
viewed the anxious faces around him and paused.

“Now, I’m going to ask you boys to be very quiet this evening,” he
announced. “Your friend is doing very nicely, but I want him to have a
good long sleep. So just as little noise as possible, please!”

He passed on, and a murmur of relief grew and spread in the hall.
Then by ones and twos the fellows withdrew from the building or crept
tip-toeing to their rooms. Dan and Alf were already hurrying across the
Yard to Clarke.

“Gee,” said Dan, taking a long breath, “I was scared!”

“So was I,” replied Alf soberly.

When they opened the door of Number 28, Gerald, attired in his
dressing-gown, was sitting on the edge of his bed, looking ruefully at
a pair of water-soaked white buckskin shoes. He dropped them when he
saw Dan and Alf, and cried anxiously:

“How is he now?” Then he saw Dan’s white face, faltered, and sank down
heavily on the bed. “He’s not--not dead?” he whispered.

“No, the doctor says he will be all right,” answered Dan hurriedly.

“Oh! You looked so--so white that I was afraid--”

“Why shouldn’t he look white?” demanded Alf gruffly. “We heard you were
both drowned, you and Merrow. Some silly fool came over to the gym and
told us.”

“Me? Oh, I--I’m sorry,” answered Gerald troubledly. “I didn’t know--”

“Well, you needn’t look so sad about it,” said Dan, with a little laugh
as he sat down. “All’s well that ends well, but you certainly had us
pretty well scared. Look here, Gerald, how about your father? Do you
suppose he’s heard the yarn?”

“No.” Gerald reached over to the table and looked at his watch. “He
isn’t home yet. I was going over there, but the doctor says I must go
to bed. I am kind of played out. We had to paddle pretty fast coming
back.”

“Who was with you?” asked Alf.

“Thompson. That was funny, wasn’t it? I guess if he hadn’t come just
when he did Harry would have drowned.” He stopped and shivered.

“Here, you lie down there and pull the covers over you,” said Dan.
“You’d better go to sleep, too.”

“No, I couldn’t go to sleep, really!” cried Gerald. “I’d rather talk.”
But he followed Dan’s advice and snuggled down under a blanket.

“How did it happen?” asked Alf. “I can’t make heads nor tails of it.”

So Gerald told his story. Part of it we already know. The rest Gerald
told as follows:

“When I went down I kept my eyes open and saw him almost at once. I
thought he was drowned already, for he didn’t seem to be struggling
at all, just lying down there in the mud on top of a lot of sunken
branches and rubbish. He was only three or four yards from the bank,
but the pond is real deep there. There’s a sort of channel where the
water has cut along the side. Well, I grabbed him by the shoulders and
tried to bring him up. He came about a foot and then held. I pulled and
tugged, but couldn’t raise him. I stayed down until I thought my head
was going to burst open, and then I came up. And as I got my head out
of water and took a breath I heard a splash and saw some one dive by
me. It was all terribly confused. I didn’t even wonder who the other
fellow was. I just filled up with air and went down again. It was hard
to see now, for the water was all roiled up with mud and sediment from
the bottom, but I could make out that the other fellow had his arms
around Harry and was pulling. So I got hold, too, and pulled, and all
of a sudden he came away in our arms, and we came up with him and
managed to get him up on the bank. Then I saw that the other fellow
was Thompson.”

“How did he happen to be there?” asked Dan.

“Just by accident. He was in his canoe by himself, coming down the
river, when he heard our voices across on the lake, and thought he’d
paddle in and see who we were. Just before he got through the channel
he heard the splash when our canoe dumped us out, and then he heard
me yell. He got there just as I dived, and he went over as soon as he
could.”

“Gee, that was--was--”

“Providential,” said Alf soberly, coming to Dan’s assistance. “And then
what, Gerald?”

“We tried everything we knew about helping drowned persons, but nothing
seemed to do much good. We got a whole lot of water out of his lungs,
but he wouldn’t come to. We took turns pumping his arms and chest, and
after awhile we could see that he was breathing. But it was awfully
hard, for there wasn’t much room on the bank, and he kept slipping
back into the water. So Thompson said we’d put him into the canoe and
paddle back to school as fast as we could. So finally we got him in and
we grabbed the paddles and we just made that canoe fly! It isn’t far,
you know, but it seemed an awful long way this afternoon. I was afraid
he’d die before we got to the boathouse. We kept shouting all the way
down and finally some fellow heard us and came running down to find
out what the matter was. We told him and he scooted up to the Office.
We got him out of the canoe at the boathouse and started to work on
him again. And then some fellows came and helped, and I keeled over in
a faint. And the next thing I knew they were carrying Harry and me up
the hill. I was all right by that time, though, and I made them put me
down. Thompson and I waited around a minute to see how Harry was, but
the doctor found us and gave us some stuff to drink and sent us home.
Said we must go to bed, and not get up until to-morrow morning. That’s
nonsense, isn’t it?”

“Maybe,” said Dan dryly, “but I advise you to do it just the same. You
won’t feel so chipper after you get over your excitement.”

“But what was the matter with Merrow?” asked Alf. “Why didn’t he come
up?”

“I don’t know for certain, but Thompson says he was caught on a big
branch down there.”

“But how did he happen to sink? Of course he could swim.”

Gerald hesitated. Then:

“You fellows mustn’t tell Faculty,” he said, “but I have an idea that
he can’t swim a stroke. He never actually told me he could, but he
gave me to understand it. He said, I remember, that Faculty wouldn’t
let any one go in a canoe who couldn’t swim. But afterwards, when we
went out together at first, he was awfully nervous if we went more than
a few yards from shore, and once when I accidentally rocked the canoe a
little, I thought he was going to jump down my throat. He got over that
after awhile, though. I think that when he went over he was so scared
that he just sort of--of fainted, maybe, and then got so much water in
him that he was down and out.”

“Your language, Gerald, is getting more picturesque and breezy every
day,” laughed Dan.

“I guess that was the way of it, though,” said Alf. “The little fool!
The idea of his paddling around in a canoe and not knowing the first
thing about swimming. He ought to be--be spanked!”

“I guess when he gets around again he won’t need any spanking to keep
him away from canoes. Canoes are pretty good fun, but fellows ought
to understand that they’re about as treacherous a craft as there is
made. And if I were you,” added Dan, “I’d keep out of them awhile, too,
Gerald.”

“Don’t you worry,” was the reply. “I don’t want to see one of them
again for a year. Besides, I guess my father will have something to
say, too.”

“I guess he will,” returned Dan grimly. “And he may have something to
say to me, too. I am supposed to watch out for you, and I don’t seem to
have been doing it very well. He knew you were going out in a canoe,
didn’t he, Gerald?”

Gerald hesitated and colored.

“I--I don’t believe he did,” he answered finally. “I never said
anything to him about it.”

“You’re a wonder!” said Dan disgustedly. “Supposing you’d been drowned
to-day! A nice pickle I’d have been in, wouldn’t I?”

“Well, I guess I’d have been in a nice pickle myself,” replied Gerald
spiritedly. “And it seems to me I’d be worse off than you, Dan!”

“He’s got you there,” laughed Alf.

“Just the same,” said Dan with dignity, “you haven’t played fair,
Gerald, and you know it. You’ve got to tell your father all about it
the first time you see him.”

“I’m going to,” answered Gerald gravely. “Will you please telephone
over after awhile, Dan, and leave word for him to come over here this
evening and see me? I promised to go home for dinner, and he will be
worried if he doesn’t hear. And--and you might say that I got wet and
was sent to bed.”

“All right,” answered Dan. “I’ll telephone. Do you think--” there was
an anxious tone in his voice--“do you think he will be very angry with
you, Gerald?” Gerald smiled whimsically.

“I rather think he will, Dan. But I deserve it. Don’t you trouble.”

Presently Alf remarked with a chuckle, as he got up to go;

“Well, I suppose you’ll never be able to scrap with Thompson now,
Gerald. Another iridescent dream gone glimmering. Such is life!”

“No,” answered Gerald thoughtfully. “I guess we’re really square at
last. If Harry had been drowned--” He broke off with an eloquent shake
of his head. “Will you find out how he is after supper, Dan, and let me
know?”

“Yes. And now, what do you want to eat?”

“I’m not very hungry,” replied Gerald languidly. “In fact, I think I’ll
just--take a nap.” He settled down on the pillow with a contented smile
and closed his eyes. Dan and Alf went out quietly, and quietly closed
the door behind them.

“He will probably sleep for an hour or two,” said Alf. “We’d better
tell them not to send his supper up until seven. The poor kid might as
well have all the rest he can get.”

“Yes,” said Dan, “for he will probably need it. I don’t think he will
have a very pleasant time explaining things to his father.”

“Think John T. will cut up rough, do you?”

“Yes, he’s awfully fond of Gerald, but--”

“_But!_” laughed Alf. Then, seriously: “Well, I hope he won’t be too
hard on little Geraldine. He’s not a bad sort of a kid, Dan.”



CHAPTER XXIII

THE LAST PRACTICE


Dan didn’t hurry back to his room after supper, nor, for that matter,
did he hurry through the meal. He and Lawrence were the last ones at
the training table. Dan always found the third baseman’s conversation
rather boresome, but this evening, in his desire to kill time, he stood
Lawrence with equanimity, even egged him on to a further elaboration
of his subject, which might have been entitled, “How I Would Train
a Baseball Team if I had the Chance.” Lawrence wasn’t a bad sort of
fellow; only a trifle self-assertive when it came to opinions and
lamentably prosy in the presentation of them. To-night, though, Dan was
ready to forgive him much. He had gone through five years at Yardley,
each Spring passing with honors, and in a few days would receive his
diploma. It was something of a feat, when you came to think of it, Dan
reflected, and perhaps by the time he was ready to graduate he might be
a much bigger bore than Lawrence.

But presently the waiters were turning out the lights over the
tables here and there, and there was no excuse for further loitering.
Gerald’s supper had gone over to him long before. Dan pushed back
his chair, and Lawrence, still rambling on, followed him. Out in the
corridor Lawrence suggested that Dan should come up to his room for
a few minutes; he lived on the floor above. Dan hesitated, and then,
because he was very anxious to give Mr. Pennimore plenty of time to
finish his visit with Gerald and go home, he accepted the invitation.
He had never visited Lawrence before and the comfort, even luxury of
the big square room surprised him. Lawrence made him take the biggest
and easiest chair, and then went on with his views. Dan nodded now and
then, now and then pretended to question an assertion, and all the time
was wondering whether it was safe to go back to his own room. After a
while some other fellows came in, and Dan seized the opportunity to
leave. Lawrence informed the newcomers warmly that “that chap Vinton is
a mighty brainy youngster.”

Dan looked at his watch as he climbed the stairs in Clarke, and found
that the time was a quarter to nine. That was comforting. Gerald’s
father must have returned to Sound View before this. It was a relief
not to have to face Mr. Pennimore just now. Dan felt very culpable
regarding the canoe episode. He owed a good deal to Mr. Pennimore,
and he had promised to look after Gerald. Just how to reconcile that
promise with the fact that Gerald had been canoeing for a month past
without his father’s permission was somewhat of a puzzle. When Dan
reached the door of Number 28 his heart sank. He had returned too
early, after all!

Gerald was still in bed, and it was not difficult to see that he had
been crying. But at present he was looking quite happy, as was Mr.
Pennimore, seated beside him. However severe the storm had been,
reflected Dan, it had cleared away now. He greeted Mr. Pennimore and
shook hands without discerning any signs of reproach nor condemnation
in the other’s regard. Mr. Pennimore referred briefly and smilingly
to the accident, asked for news of Harry Merrow, and expressed his
pleasure when Dan assured him that Harry was practically recovered
after his narrow escape.

“He heard me at the door,” said Dan, “and asked to see me. But the
matron thought I’d better not go in. He sent word that you were to come
and see him in the morning, Gerald.”

“Of course,” said Mr. Pennimore. “And I’ll send Higgins over after
breakfast with some fruit, Gerald. He will probably like it. You can
take it around to him.”

“And please have him bring me my stamp books, all three of them.
They’re in my room. Elizabeth knows where they are. I’m going to give
them to Harry.”

Mr. Pennimore raised his brows slightly.

“Just as you like, son, but you mustn’t forget that you’ve got a
thousand dollars or so worth of stamps there. Rather an expensive
present, isn’t it?”

“I don’t care for them any more,” replied Gerald. “And Harry does. I’d
rather some one would have them who can enjoy them.”

“I dare say you’re right, son. I’ll send them over. And now shall we
ask Dan about Friday?”

Gerald nodded eagerly.

“Well,” said Mr. Pennimore, “Gerald tells me that on Friday the
Baseball Team doesn’t have any practice, and that he understands it to
be the custom to give them a sort of a good time to keep their minds
off the next day’s game. How about that, Dan?”

“Yes, sir, they usually take them for a walk into the country or load
them onto a trolley car in Greenburg and give them a ride. I haven’t
heard what they are going to do with us this year.”

“Well, now, Gerald proposes that I put the Princess at their disposal
Friday afternoon, and let them have a nice, long sail. How do you
think that would do?”

“Bully!” cried Dan. “They’d enjoy that, I know, sir.”

“I tried to persuade Gerald to look after the matter, but he doesn’t
seem to think he ought to. Says, too, that he won’t go along, because
he’s not on the nine. I tell him he ought to go and act as host, but he
doesn’t see it.”

“Dan will understand,” said Gerald confidently. “I couldn’t exactly
explain to father, Dan, but I know I’m right.” Dan nodded.

“Yes, I think you are. It’s rather difficult to explain, sir, but
Gerald has the right idea.” Mr. Pennimore smiled and spread his hands.

“I suppose it’s a matter of school ethics, eh?” he asked. “Well, have
your own way. Now, can you see the coach or the captain and tell him
about this, Dan?”

“Yes, sir, I’ll see Millener, and say you’ve made the offer and that
he’s to talk with you about it.”

“He can call me up on the telephone, if he likes, any time to-morrow
before eight or after six. I shall be glad to have them use the yacht.
I’d like to go along--if it wouldn’t infringe some mysterious law--but
I shall have to be in the city Friday if I’m to take a holiday on
Saturday.”

“Then you’ll want the yacht, sir,” said Dan.

“Oh, no, I’ll use the train for once. Well, I’ll leave the matter in
your hands for the present. And see that this boy stays in bed the
rest of the evening, Dan. Now, I must be getting back.” At the door
he laid a hand on Dan’s shoulder. “Gerald and I, by the way, have
been discussing canoes, Dan, and we’ve decided that they’re a bit too
dangerous for young boys. Good night, good night! You’re to come over
to dinner Sunday, Dan. Or--” Mr. Pennimore paused, smiled, and turned
back into the room. “Look here, Gerald, how would you like to entertain
the Baseball Team at dinner Sunday, eh?”

Gerald sat up eagerly.

“I couldn’t do it, sir, but you could! Will you? That would be just
dandy, wouldn’t it, Dan?”

“Fine!” said Dan enthusiastically. “But there’s an awful lot of them,
sir.”

“How many?”

“Pretty near twenty.”

“Pshaw, we can handle thirty if we can find them! The more the merrier,
boys! I guess after the sort of training table food you told me about
the other day, Dan, they’ll relish a change, eh? I’ll tell the cook
to plan all the sweet, indigestible things he can think of--and pile
on the whipped cream! We won’t say anything about this yet. I’ll see
Doctor Hewitt and talk it over with him first. Good night, son. Get a
good long sleep. Good night, Dan.”

Dan went with Mr. Pennimore to the stairs, and then returned to Gerald,
and an excited discussion of the sailing party and the Sunday banquet.

The next morning Gerald was up bright and early, feeling no ill effects
from the previous day’s misadventure. He soon found that he was looked
on as something of a hero, and had he responded to all the requests for
his story of the incident, he would never have reached commons in time
for breakfast. When he did give his account of the upset, as he was
forced to do at table, he gave most of the credit to Thompson.

“Shucks!” said one of his audience, “you and Thompson make me tired.
He says you did it all and you say he did. I’ll bet a dollar Merrow
crawled out of the water himself, while you two fellows were wrangling
about who was to be the hero!”

To-day was the last day of examinations, and Gerald’s work was over
early. At half-past ten he set out for Merle Hall with his arms full.
He carried a big basket of fruit from the Sound View hot houses,
and the three big stamp books. He found Harry still rather pale and
scared looking, but eager to show his gratitude and anxious to talk.
Being thanked for saving a fellow’s life was, Gerald found, rather
embarrassing, and he switched Harry away from that subject as soon as
he could by producing the basket and the books.

“These are the ones I told you about yesterday,” he explained of the
books, when Harry had admired and nibbled at the fruit. “You know I was
going to give them to you in case Broadwood won the game. But I want
you to have them anyhow. So--so here they are.”

But Harry, much as he wanted them, required a good deal of persuasion
before he would accept them. And then it was only with the proviso
that Gerald was to have them back any time he changed his mind. Then
Gerald exhibited some of the rarer treasures, and the two boys were
deeply absorbed when there was a knock on the door, and Arthur Thompson
entered.

“Thought I’d just drop in and see how you are,” he explained, shaking
hands with Harry in an embarrassed way. He, too, had to listen to
Harry’s thanks, and by this time Harry was quite an experienced hand
at expressing gratitude, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his privilege.
Thompson sat through it as patiently as possible, casting sheepish
glances the while at Gerald. Afterwards they went over the adventure
together, each one describing his sensations and explaining his
actions, and then Gerald got up to leave.

“I must go, too,” said Thompson hurriedly. “Get well, Merrow,
and--er--buck up, you know.”

Gerald promised to look in again in the evening and then he and
Thompson withdrew. Gerald expected the latter to leave him at the
entrance, but instead of that Thompson kept step with him down the walk
toward Clarke. Gerald strove to think of something to say, but without
success, and the silence was growing rather embarrassing, when Thompson
broke out with:

“Say, Pennimore, what have you got against me, anyway? If it’s that
little row we had last Winter, why, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any harm,
really.”

“I guess I haven’t got anything against you--after yesterday,” replied
Gerald gravely.

“That’s the way to talk!” said Thompson, clapping him on the shoulder.
“I’ve noticed that you didn’t see me when we passed, and I don’t like
that. I don’t like fellows to be stand-offish with me. I haven’t
anything against you, and so--”

“If you haven’t anything against me,” blurted Gerald, “why did you keep
me out of Cambridge?”

“Keep you out of Cambridge? Me? I never did!”

“Oh, get out!” scoffed Gerald warmly.

“Honest, I didn’t, Pennimore. Look here, I haven’t any right to tell
you this, but--but if I don’t you won’t believe me, I guess. It was
Jake Hiltz that blackballed you.”

“Hiltz? I don’t know him even by sight,” exclaimed Gerald perplexedly.
Thompson nodded.

“I know, but he knows you. You see, Hiltz and a fellow named Jones,
Tubby Jones we called him, were pretty good friends. Jones used to room
with Vinton in the Fall.”

“Yes,” said Gerald. “I knew him.”

“Well, Tubby, you know, left school before the term was up; got fired
or something; no one ever knew exactly what did happen to Tubby. Then
you came to room with Vinton, and Hiltz--well, Hiltz resented it.
That’s all. He just didn’t like to see you in Tubby’s place. And,
besides that, he doesn’t like Vinton much, I think. And, anyway, he’s
the sort of chap that would rather spite some one, if he could do it
without being found out, than eat his dinner. I hadn’t any business
telling you this, Pennimore, because we’re not supposed to tell
anything that happens at election, but I didn’t want you to think I’d
done any such dirty trick. And you would have thought so, even if I’d
argued myself black in the face, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, I think I would,” answered Gerald frankly. Thompson laughed.

“I’ll bet you would. You believe what I say, though, now, don’t you?”

“Yes, indeed. And--and I’m glad I was mistaken.”

“That’s the talk!” returned Thompson heartily. “I don’t see any use in
fellows having grouches with each other. I like plenty of friends. I
guess I’m pretty mean sometimes, but I’m always ready to apologize and
shake hands. Let’s do that now; what do you say?”

“All right,” answered Gerald with a smile. And so they shook hands on
the steps of Clarke, and Thompson went off, beaming and whistling at
the top of his lungs.

There was a hard practice that afternoon, delayed by the thunder-storm.
Payson was himself again, and the way he drove and scolded was a
caution. But the fellows liked it and responded magnificently. It was
almost six o’clock when he finally released them. Afterwards, in the
locker room, he made a little speech.

“If you play on Saturday the way you played to-day,” he said, “you’ll
stand a mighty good show to win. I’ve let you fellows go your own gait
since last Saturday, because I saw that you were a bit fine, and I
didn’t think you’d stand driving. I argued that if you really wanted
to win from Broadwood, you’d work out your own salvation, and you’ve
done it. I guess some of you have been calling me names.”

A good many of his hearers looked sheepish. Payson smiled grimly.

“That’s all right. I can’t blame you. I dare say it looked as though
I had paresis. I hadn’t, though. I simply gave you fellows credit for
some sense and fight, and I wasn’t mistaken. The way you got together
and played the game just to _show_ me, proves that. Well, we’ve had
the last practice for this year, and I’ve taught you all I could. It’s
up to you now. I can’t do any more. You’ve pulled together well, and
you’ve pulled with me well. You’ve got a fine captain, and it will be
your own faults if he doesn’t lead a winning team. To-morrow afternoon
we’re going to take an outing. Mr. John T. Pennimore has offered us the
use of his steam yacht for the whole afternoon, and Captain Millener
has accepted with thanks. I want every fellow to go along. You’re to
meet at Mr. Pennimore’s pier at two o’clock. I guess you’ll have a good
time. Whether you do or don’t, an afternoon on the water will do you
all good. Don’t bother your heads about Saturday’s game--yet. Plenty
of time for thinking about that when Saturday comes. Broadwood has a
slight advantage this year in playing on her own grounds, but we can
offset that if we try. To-morrow at two o’clock, then.”

“Now, fellows, three cheers for Mr. Payson!” cried Millener, jumping
onto a bench. And they were given royally. And then came three cheers
for Mr. Pennimore, which would have done Gerald’s heart good had he
been there to hear.

Gerald saw the baseball team, accompanied by Payson and Andy Ryan,
embark on the Princess the next day with regret. He didn’t regret
that Dan and Alf and Millener and Colton, and all the other baseball
fellows he knew by sight and duly reverenced, were going to have a
jolly afternoon together; he only regretted that he wasn’t along; and
he regretted that a whole lot. But Gerald had been learning during
the last six months. When he first entered Yardley he would have
accompanied the team to-day without a qualm, and would have wondered
why the fellows treated him coolly. Now he knew that some of the
fellows would call him “fresh kid,” and almost all would hold him
in contempt for showing off. So he watched the embarking from the
terrace of Sound View, and afterward went up to the gymnasium, got
into his dark blue gym suit, and went at the punching-bag until he
was breathless, cheerful, and running with perspiration. Then he
trotted down to the bath and whistled happily while the luke-warm spray
enveloped his grateful body. He was quite alone down there and could
make as much noise as he wanted to. At last, bracing himself for the
shock, he “turned on the ice,” as the fellows said, and yelled lustily
as the cold jets hissed upon him. Then, glowing and refreshed, puffing
and gasping, he rubbed himself dry and dressed leisurely, whistling
merrily all the while, from stockings to tie. Finally he climbed the
stairs again, paused at the door in the warm afternoon sunlight to cock
his straw hat a trifle over one eye in the approved Yardley fashion,
and then took the path to the tennis courts in search of adventure with
the little swagger engendered by mental and physical exhilaration.



CHAPTER XXIV

ON YARDLEY HILL


Although Yardley Hall is less than forty years old, it has its customs
and precedents. And one of them is that on the evening preceding the
Broadwood game the combined musical clubs of Cambridge and Oxford shall
give a concert in the Yard. At half-past seven the performers gathered
in front of Dudley and the audience distributed itself on the grass or
sat at the open windows facing the Yard. It was still light up here
on the hill, although below the shadows were darkening over river
and marsh and meadow. Gerald and Harry, the latter up and about in a
borrowed dressing-gown, sat by the open window which looked directly
across at Dudley. The mandolins, banjos, and guitars set the fellows
humming and whistling with “The Merry Widow Waltzes” and one or two
older favorites, and then the glee clubs hummed the accompaniment and
Wheelock, substitute fielder on the Nine, sang “Mighty Lak’ a Rose,”
his sweet tenor voice filling the silent Yard with its mellow tones.
Such an outburst of hand-clapping and applauding voices rewarded this
that he was forced to sing the song over again and follow it with
“A Health to King Charles.” Then the musicians started in on “Old
Yardley,” and in a moment every fellow was singing lustily, in tune
or out, according to his ability. Up from the grass and down from the
crowded windows were hurled the defiant strains;

    “Old Yardley can’t be beat, my boy,
       She’s bound to win the game!
     So give a cheer for Yardley and
       Hats off to Yardley’s fame!”

That started the cheering. They cheered for Captain Millener, for
Colton, for Loring and so on down to Payson and Andy Ryan and “the
subs,” the fellows gradually gathering above the leader who had mounted
the steps of Dudley. Then they cheered for “Yardley! _Yardley!_
YARDLEY!” over and over. Afterwards Millener made a short speech,
and was followed by Payson. There were more cheers and finally the
glee clubs started “The Years Roll On.” Off came hats and in the
soft, summer twilight the slow, sweet, and solemn melody rose to the
darkening sky.

    “The years roll on. Too soon we find
       Our boyhood days are o’er.
     The scenes we’ve known, the friends we’ve loved,
       Are gone to come no more.
     But in the shrine of Memory
       We’ll hold and cherish still
     The recollection fond of those
       Dear days on Yardley Hill.

    “The years roll on. To man’s estate
       From youthful mould we pass,
     And Life’s stern duties bind us round,
       And doubts and cares harass.
     But God will guard through storms and give
       The strength to do His will
     And treasure e’er the lessons learned
       Of old on Yardley Hill.”

It is hard to hear that song unmoved if you are a Yardley man, and the
group in front of Dudley dissolved silently, by ones and twos and by
little groups, the fellows seeking their rooms or their friends’ rooms
to sit at the open windows and talk of graduation, or the morrow’s
contest, or the long summer vacation which was almost upon them.

Dan and Tom and Alf had listened to the concert from the window of
Number 7, and after the last strain of the final song had died away
they sat there in silence and watched the crowd break up and the
fellows radiate across the Yard in the dusk. Finally Alf gave an
impatient shake of his shoulders.

“Hang that song, anyhow,” he said, half laughing, half in earnest.
“It always makes me feel so kind of teary and noble. If I was a
millionaire I’d go out and give away my money. Let’s sing ‘Harrigan’ or
something lively.”

“I don’t think it’s going to hurt you, Alf, to feel noble for once,”
drawled Tom.

“That’s all right,” answered Alf, “but I tell you right now that if
they sing that next year, just before I’m going to graduate, I’ll
disgrace you and myself and the Class by boo-hooing; I’m just certain I
will!”

“Don’t trouble,” said Tom soothingly. “It isn’t likely that you’ll ever
graduate.”

Saturday was a “scorcher.” It started right out being a “scorcher”;
even as early as seven o’clock you knew mighty well just what you were
in for. At breakfast Dan turned in disgust from the hot cereal and had
difficulty getting rid of the three-inch-square piece of steak and a
small portion of the enormous baked potato that was set before him.
The coffee scalded his throat and made him hotter still. Over at the
other table, where sat the “regulars,” Payson was expostulating with
Danforth, the second baseman.

“You must eat something, Danforth. You’ll be knocked up for all day if
you don’t. At least put that glass of milk down and eat a roll.”

“I really can’t, sir,” Dan heard the boy answer. “I’ve had one glass
already, and that’s all I want. If I eat now I won’t be able to take
any luncheon. It’s so hot!”

“All right, but if you feel shaky towards eleven you come here and make
them give you something; don’t wait for luncheon. Now then, fellows,
I want every one of you to stay out of doors and loaf. No tennis
to-day, no golf, no anything but loafing. Luncheon’s at twelve-thirty,
remember, and the barges leave at one. So you want to be right on time
when the doors open.”

“How about the river, sir?” someone asked. “Can we row or paddle?”

“I guess so, if you don’t do too much of it. But keep out of the sun
all you can. That means you, too, you fellows,” he added, turning to
the second table. “Keep out of doors, keep out of the sun, and keep
quiet. Luncheon at half-past twelve.”

It was hard work getting rid of that morning. There were no lessons to
learn, no recitations to attend, no examinations to tussle with. Dan
and Alf found a shady spot at the edge of the woods and tried to read,
but it was stifling hot, even there, and the books soon slipped out of
their hands. Here Gerald found them after a while and Alf returned to a
semblance of animation while he teased Gerald about the dinner party.
It had been all arranged and the news was about school. Alf pretended
that it was Gerald who was to give it and was vastly concerned about
the cost.

At eleven Gerald left them to hurry down to Sound View and make the
butler’s life a burden until the early luncheon was ready. Afterwards,
when it was still only a few minutes past one, the automobile rolled
around to the front door and Gerald and his father got in and sped up
the hill to Merle Hall, where they took in Harry, officially pronounced
well enough to see the game. Then, with flags flying, for Gerald had
adorned the car with four Yardley banners, they sped off down the hill,
across the bridge and away along the dusty road to Broadwood. They
passed the barges half way over and received a cheer as they swept
past. Gerald thought he had caught a brief glimpse of Dan in the second
barge, but wasn’t certain. At all events, Dan was there and supremely
happy. For at luncheon Payson had called across to him from the other
table;

“Careful with your eating, Vinton. Don’t stuff. Danforth’s knocked out
and you’ll start the game at second.”



CHAPTER XXV

THREE TO THREE


     YARDLEY       BROADWOOD

    Durfee, ss.    Cross, 2b.
    Colton, p.     Gale, 3b.
    Condit, 3b.    Russell, cf.
    Lawrence, rf.  Boudinot, rf.
    Loring, lf.    Kent, ss.
    Richards, c.   Patterson, c.
    Millener, 1b.  Bray, 1b.
    Vinton, 2b.    Minot, lf.
    Smith, cf.     Herring, p.

It was all very well to feel confident of a victory for the Blue when
you were back there in Yardley with the Yardley cheers ringing in
your ears, but it was rather more difficult now, when almost every
person waved a Broadwood flag or wore a knot of green and when one
was literally within the enemy’s camp. This was the thought that came
to Gerald as he followed his father and Harry while they worked their
way through the crowd about the tiny grand-stand and finally found
seats on that structure. Accommodations there were at a premium, for
the stand afforded the only shade about the diamond and was so small
that only Faculty members, parents, friends, and students accompanying
them were admitted. The rest of the spectators lined the field behind
the ropes stretched along the first and third base lines, or perched
themselves upon the roof and in the windows of the laboratory building
which stood nearby. Broadwood’s field adjoined the campus, and from
the stand one could look down a long slope of meadow and farm land for
almost a mile.

Gerald confided his doubts to Harry when they had finally squeezed
themselves into their seats high up under the sloping roof, but Harry
had of a sudden changed from a pessimist to an optimist regarding
Yardley’s chances.

“Don’t you worry,” he replied excitedly. “We’ll trim ’em for fair. Here
comes Yardley now!”

The blue-stockinged team, some twenty strong, came trotting down from
the gymnasium, pushed through the crowd about the ropes, hurdled over
or ducked under them, and went to their bench at the right of the
plate. The bench, with its little strip of gay awning above, was in
full view of the stand and Gerald and Harry amused themselves with
comments on the appearances of the players.

“There’s Millener,” said Harry. “Doesn’t he look great in his uniform?”
Gerald admitted that he did, but insisted that Colton looked finer.

“Look at Danforth!” said Gerald a moment later. “He hasn’t got his
uniform on! I’ll bet he isn’t going to play!”

“He’s sick, that’s what’s the matter with him,” responded Harry
bitterly. “Look at him. He looks like a sheet of paper. Isn’t that
the toughest luck you ever saw? Why, he’s one of our best players; we
haven’t got anyone else can play second like Danforth!”

“Who’ll they use?” asked Gerald anxiously.

“Tufts, I guess; he’s the regular sub. But he isn’t any good. We’ll
find out in a minute, though, for they’re going out to practice.”
Gerald turned to acquaint his father with the heart-breaking news, but
Mr. Pennimore had discovered an acquaintance in the lady at his other
side and was busily engaged in conversation. Then the team trotted out
for practice, and Gerald, discovering Dan amongst the players, held
his breath until the youth had taken his position at second. Then he
turned radiantly to Harry. But Harry had seen for himself, and their
exclamations of wonderment and delight exploded together.

“Dan,” cried Gerald.

“Vinton!” cried Harry.

For the next few minutes they excitedly discussed this new development
in all its phases. Mr. Pennimore was informed and expressed the proper
degree of pleasure and excitement. But he made a terrible mistake the
next moment when he inquired whether anyone had made a run yet. Gerald
sat on him properly, informing him that the game hadn’t begun. Then
Broadwood came onto the field and the cheers drowned conversation
for a full minute. Yardley retired to the bench and Gerald and Harry
watched the rival team’s practice with critical eyes. But they were
forced to acknowledge that “Broadwood certainly could field,” and that
if the Green played that way in the game, Yardley would have hard work
winning. At last, at half-past two, the umpire called the captains
to him, Millener of Yardley and Gale of Broadwood, and there was a
minute’s conference at the plate. Then Gale turned to the bench and
raised his hand.

“On the run, fellows!” he called.

Broadwood took the field and Gerald and Harry examined the Blue’s
pitcher with interest as he began throwing into the catcher’s mitt to
limber up. He was as tall as Colton, but slenderer, had dark hair and
a rather surly expression about his mouth except when he smiled. His
movements, save when actually pitching, were deliberate to a degree.

“He doesn’t look much,” confided Gerald.

“But you wait and see,” muttered Harry. “He’s all right. Here comes
Durfee to bat. I say! They’ve gone and changed the batting order,
haven’t they?”

“Probably because Danforth’s out,” suggested Gerald wisely. “Seems to
me it’s a good scheme to have Durfee bat first, because if he does get
to first he’s pretty sure to steal safely.”

Little Durfee, the Yardley shortstop, spread his legs, gripped his bat
and faced the pitcher.

“Play ball!” said the umpire.

And the “Big Game” was on.

A moment later the Yardley partisans were leaping and shouting for joy.
Durfee bunted past Herring and the pitcher fielded too late. Durfee was
credited with a hit, but with a quicker man in the box he would never
have reached first safely. But he was there, very much there, and that
was enough for the wavers of the blue flags. Then came Colton, and
there were cries of “Home run, Colton! Hit it out!” And in the outfield
the players stepped back, for Colton’s reputation was well known. With
two balls and one strike on him, Colton raised his bat in front of a
waist-high ball and sent it rolling slowly toward third. Third baseman
and pitcher both made for it, but it was a clean hit this time and
Durfee was safe at second and Colton at first. How Yardley did shriek
and yell!

“Well, I guess that’ll do for a starter!” shrieked Smith, coaching back
of first. “I guess that’s going some! On your toes, now! Down with his
arm!”

Herring, plainly worried, tried to throw Colton out at first, but Smith
laughed derisively and Colton climbed to his feet again, dusted the
front of his clothes and edged again into a lead. Herring scowled,
glanced around at Durfee, who was dancing back and forth at second, and
settled down to the next man, Condit. Evidently Condit thought that
what had served twice would serve again, or maybe he had his orders
from the bench. At all events, he, too, bunted. The ball rolled toward
the pitcher’s box as straight as an arrow and Herring scooped it up.
But he was rattled, threw hurriedly and the ball instead of reaching
first baseman’s hands landed on Condit’s shoulder and glanced away
under the rope. Little Durfee raced home, Colton went to third and
Condit took second.

The Yardley cheers were deafening. Gerald and Harry pounded each
other on the back and shrieked into each other’s ears, and even Mr.
Pennimore was excited and kept saying “Good! Good! Good!” over and over
in a voice that, owing to the noise about him, no one could possibly
hear. Patterson, Broadwood’s catcher, held a consultation with Herring
midway between box and plate, and everyone knew that he was trying to
steady the pitcher down. That his efforts were successful was proved a
minute later when Lawrence hit a ball into Herring’s territory and was
thrown out neatly. However, that was only one out and Yardley was still
delirious with joy.

Alf Loring was up next and he, like Colton, was enthusiastically
advised to “Lam it out for a homer!” “Knock the cover off it, Alf!”
He didn’t quite do that, but he managed to find one to his liking and
singled to center, scoring Colton and Condit. Alf himself, however,
went out trying to make second, and when Richards struck out miserably
a few minutes later, the side was out and Broadwood was so relieved
that she cheered long and loudly. Yardley let her cheer. With three
runs already to her credit she could afford to be indulgent.

For Broadwood, Cross, second baseman, was the first man up. Colton’s
first ball went wild and took Mr. Cross squarely in the ribs, dropping
him where he stood, but not incapacitating him from hobbling to first a
moment afterwards. So apparently painful was his progress down the line
that Yardley men forbore to jeer and a murmur of sympathy arose from
the feminine onlookers. Colton looked quite remorseful for a moment,
but for a moment only. For just as soon as he had transferred his
regard from Cross to the man at the bat, Cross, disabilities and all,
streaked down to second, making one of the prettiest steals of the day
and awakening peals of laughter from friend and foe alike. Dan ran to
the base to cover, but Richards was taken so wholly by surprise that
he didn’t even make the motion to throw down. Colton looked disgusted,
tried to catch Cross napping, and turned his attention resolutely to
the batsman. But Colton hadn’t found himself yet; that was apparent to
everyone. With two balls and two strikes on the batsman he was unable
to please the umpire and Captain Gale walked to first.

The next man came to bat and swung at a wide one and an attempt at a
double steal was made. Cross, however, was out on a fast throw from
catcher to third and it was a close decision that called Gale safe on
second, so rapidly did the ball fly about. Such snappy work deserved
applause and received it. The batsman made the second out, Colton to
Millener, and right-fielder Boudinot, who followed him, fell a victim
to Colton’s deceptive curves and canny change of speed. So ended the
first inning, the score 3 to 0 and Yardley well pleased and confident
of the outcome.

Dan’s first chance at the willow came in the next inning, after
Millener, first man up, had hit a hard liner that first baseman was
unable to handle. I wish I could say that Dan faced the enemy’s pitcher
unflinchingly and drove out a three-bagger. But truth compels me to
narrate the fact that Dan did nothing of the sort. It was his first
appearance in a big game and he was distinctly nervous; and Herring and
Patterson saw it and simply toyed with him. He aided in his own defeat
by knocking two flies in succession, and then reached out for a wide
ball and walked dejectedly back to the bench. He found the whole team
smiling, not maliciously, but with a sort of “We’ve-all-been-there”
expression that was rather comforting to him and helped him hold his
head up again.

“You’ll do better next time,” muttered Alf, clapping him on the knee.
“Just don’t let him scare you, Dan.”

Smith, who followed Dan at the bat, hit to Broadwood’s second baseman
and a neat double play retired the side.

When Broadwood came up Colton was master of the situation and retired
her in one, two, three order.

The first of the third found the head of the Yardley batting list up.
Yardley cheers broke forth encouragingly as little Durfee selected his
bat and strode to the plate. But a foul which settled with a _smack_
into Patterson’s mitt spoiled his career at the outset. When, however,
Colton smashed out a two-bagger over shortstop’s head, things looked
rosy again. But Colton was too ambitious and was an easy out in trying
to steal third. Condit popped an infield fly. Again Broadwood fell
victim to Colton.

In the fourth inning Loring followed Colton’s example and got two bases
on a drive into left field. Unfortunately he followed the pitcher’s
example too closely and, like him, was put out trying to steal third.

Broadwood had a streak of luck in her half. With one down, Russell
was hit by Colton and went to first. Boudinot then took advantage of
Colton’s moment of upset and landed on an easy ball and sent it arching
into center field. Out there there was a mix-up and Smith and Lawrence,
each trying for the catch, collided and the ball fell to earth, leaving
Russell on second and Boudinot on first. With only one man out, Kent
sacrificed and advanced the runners. Broadwood was cheering imploringly
for runs. Patterson, her catcher, looked wicked as he faced Colton.
Colton settled down and pitched carefully, but Patterson was not to
be denied. There was a sharp _crack_ and away went the ball far over
center-fielder’s head. That hit was good for three bases, and Russell
and Boudinot scored.

Broadwood went crazy with joy and the green banners waved tumultuously.
Up on the grand stand, Mr. Pennimore, Gerald, and Harry unanimously
agreed that “it was perfectly rotten.” There was still a man on third
and Broadwood kept up her cheering as Bray, her big first baseman, took
his place at the plate. But Bray was far too eager to hit and Colton
disposed of him easily.

With the score 3 to 2 in Yardley’s favor the game went on without
further scoring until the sixth inning. Anyone not owning allegiance
to Blue or Green would probably have voted the next inning and a half
quite uninteresting. But to the audience it was all breathlessly
exciting. Every move in the game was closely watched, every moment had
its thrill. Dan faced the redoubtable Herring again in the fifth, and,
although he was not so nervous this time, he again failed to connect
with the ball. In the first of the sixth Yardley got a man as far as
second, but no further.

When Broadwood came to bat in their half of this inning it was seen
that the first man up was a new player. His name was Little and he had
taken Russell’s place in center field. Broadwood cheered expectantly
when he stepped to the plate. Evidently he had a reputation as a
hitter. If he had, he fully lived up to it, for he found the second
ball offered and sent it over Lawrence’s head for a home-run, tying the
score and throwing Broadwood adherents into a veritable delirium of
delight.

“Why didn’t Lawrence play further out?” demanded Harry angrily. “I saw
Millener wave to him. I’ll bet that run will lose us the game!”

“It doesn’t look as easy as it did after the first inning, does it?”
asked Gerald dubiously. “Still, we’ve got just as good a show as they
have.”

“No, we haven’t. They’re beginning to find Colton now. They’ll start
in and knock him all over the place, I’ll bet! You just wait and see!”
Harry’s tones were so lugubrious that Mr. Pennimore thought he ought to
cheer him up. So he remarked pleasantly:

“Well, well, that was a fine hit, wasn’t it?”

The remark was received with silent disgust.

Amidst renewed cheering from Broadwood, Boudinot stepped to the plate
and gripped his bat.



CHAPTER XXVI

DOUBLE PLAY


But Harry’s dismal prophecy was not, for the time at least, to come
true. Colton steadied down magnificently and Boudinot, Kent and
Patterson were easy victims. A sigh of relief swept over the Yardley
ranks as the last men went out. Fortune still smiled impartially upon
the Blue and the Green alike, and there were still three innings to be
contested.

A little breeze came along the hillside and brought a measure of relief
to the perspiring players and spectators. The sun was almost two hours
nearer the horizon.

In the first of the seventh Yardley again got men on bases, and with
two out and men on first and second, Dan went to bat. As he picked out
his bat he looked inquiringly at Payson, but the coach shook his head.
“Do the best you can,” he said simply. Dan’s best wasn’t good enough.
It was an easy hit into second baseman’s glove. Secretly, however, he
was encouraged, and entertained hopes of being able to get a safe hit
off the Blue’s pitcher before the game was over. That hope wasn’t
realized, but it comforted Dan at the time.

Colton pitched wonderful ball in the seventh and eighth, and Broadwood
could do nothing with him, although in the eighth an error on the part
of Condit at third put a man safe on first, and a poor throw to second
by Richards later gave the same runner another base. But he didn’t get
beyond the second bag.

The ninth inning opened with Lawrence at bat for the Blue. Yardley
had congregated her cheering forces back of third base and was
whooping things up in great style. The time had come for a rally and
the School at large meant to do all it could to bring it about. The
blue-stockinged players themselves brightened up and looked more
determined. Up in the grand-stand Gerald and Harry were leaning forward
on the edge of the seat and breathing hard. Mr. Pennimore had lighted a
cigar. As he was an infrequent smoker, Gerald knew that the cigar was
to quiet his father’s nerves.

Lawrence came to bat, looking fiercely determined, and after he had
struck four fouls hit the ball into first baseman’s hands. A poor
beginning, that. But the cheerers seemed undismayed and when Loring
followed him they gave him a cheer that was a cheer, a cheer with
three “Lorings” on the end.

Alf had been batting finely and great things were expected of him. Just
what he would have accomplished will never be known, for an in-shoot
struck him on the wrist and he walked to first nursing the injured
member and scowling fearsomely at Herring. Herring, however, was
probably quite as regretful over the occurrence as Alf. Once on the bag
Alf recovered his good temper and, just to prove that all was forgiven,
immediately stole second amidst the wild plaudits of his friends.
He made a fine slide and beat the ball by what looked to be about a
half-inch, but which was probably somewhat more. Richards, looking just
as grimly determined as Lawrence, singled between shortstop and third
baseman, and Alf went on to third. He would have kept on for home, and
might possibly have made it, had not Colton, coaching behind that base,
held him. Colton came in for a good deal of criticism, but with only
one out, he played it safely and wisely.

Millener went to bat with Alf on third and Richards on first. Richards
was not a good man at stealing and Durfee, who was coaching at first,
held him there and awaited a hit. Millener was anxious enough to hit,
too; you could see that. But nothing came to his liking. Perhaps the
cross-fire of coaching got on Herring’s nerves. At all events, after
scoring two strikes on Millener he was unable to put another ball over,
and Millener trotted to first on four balls. That filled the bases and
Yardley’s cheering took on new volume and stridency. Surely the game
was won now! With three on bases and only one man down, things looked
very good!

But when it was seen that the man up was Vinton, the prospect didn’t
appear quite so bright. Vinton had shown that while he could play
his position at second to the King’s taste he was no batter. Many
wondered why Payson didn’t substitute another player, one whose ability
to bat was proved. The truth is that Payson didn’t dare to, as he
explained afterwards. He expected the game to run into extra innings
and he had no one amongst the substitutes who could hold down second
satisfactorily. So he chanced it, knowing that even if Dan went out
there was still Smith to depend on.

Dan, when he realized the situation and what was expected of him,
rather wished for a moment that Payson had taken him out. But that was
for a moment only. Then his fighting spirit arose and he determined to
show them that Payson knew what he was about. So he faced Herring with
a fine assumption of confidence and so impressed the latter that when
the catcher called for a straight ball he shook his head and tried a
drop instead. Dan was learning now, and the drop didn’t deceive him.
He let it go by and heard the umpire say “Ball!” But the next delivery
caught him napping, and the score was even. Then came something that
looked just about right, and Dan stepped forward and struck it. But
the ball went glancing back over the stop and the umpire called “Foul!
Strike two!”

Dan’s heart sank then. But outwardly he only smiled grimly and took a
firmer grip on the bat. The next delivery was so palpably wide that
Dan didn’t even hesitate about refusing it. Then perhaps Herring was
impatient, for he sent a slow ball that dropped ever so little as it
neared the plate, and Dan, with a sudden suffocating sensation in his
throat, swung at it hard. Bat and ball met with a comforting sound that
sent him speeding down the line to first. High and far went the ball.
Dan rounded first and started toward second. Then, realizing that he
was blocked, he slowed up and scampered back so as not to be in the way
of Millener if that player had to return to first. That was a long fly,
but Broadwood’s center-fielder was under it as it came down, and Dan
was out.

Over on third, however, Alf was poised, one foot on the bag, ready
to sprint for home as soon as the ball touched earth or player. And
the instant center-fielder caught it Alf settled his head between his
shoulders and dug out for the plate. In came the ball, center-fielder
to shortstop, shortstop to catcher, but it didn’t come quick enough
to keep Alf from scoring. He was over the base and rolling out of the
way amidst a cloud of dust when the catcher swung for him. And down
on third Richards was watching hard for a chance to follow Alf in,
and on second Millener was dancing exultantly about. Dan walked back
to the bench and into the arms of the players there. They thumped him
and shouted congratulations into his ears. They had to shout, for the
cheering section was making such a noise that only shouts could be
heard even over here at the bench. Dan grinned and sank into a seat.
Danforth, whom Dan had displaced at second and who had been looking
pretty glum all the afternoon, reached over and shook hands smilingly.
Then came Alf and squeezed himself in beside Dan and rumpled his hair
and punched him and beamed ecstatically. Meanwhile Smith was trying
what he could do. Two balls and then a shout of joy as the ball arched
up and away into left field dwindling to silence as left-fielder pulled
it down, tossed away his glove and trotted in.

The side was out and the score stood 4 to 3 in Yardley’s favor. Cheered
to the echo the blue-stockinged players ran into the field. The day was
not yet won, and they all realized it. Some of the enemy’s best batters
were coming up and if victory was to remain with the Blue it behooved
the latter’s warriors to battle grandly.

“Now, then, fellows!” cried Millener. “Buck up, and get this over! Play
the game!”

The last half began amidst such a pandemonium of sound as hadn’t been
heard on Broadwood Field for years. Cheers for Yardley and cheers for
Broadwood met in midfield and clashed heavenward in a mighty volume.
Then, “Batter up, please!” called the umpire, and the final struggle
was on.

Cross, the first of the foe to face Colton, was an easy proposition and
struck out miserably. And Yardley acclaimed wildly. Then came Gale,
the Broadwood captain. He looked at once anxious and determined. He
found the first ball thrown for a safe hit over shortstop. Then it
was Broadwood’s turn to shout, and she did it. After Gale came the
dangerous Little, and the Yardley outfield fell further back. But
although Little hit, his effort was good for only one base. Things
began to look interesting now and Boudinot, after lingering at the
bench for several moments listening to instructions, stepped to the
plate with a gleam in his eye that put Colton on his mettle.

For a minute or two it seemed that Colton had taken his measure, for he
worked two strikes on him in succession. But after that Colton couldn’t
please the umpire and Boudinot walked to first and filled the bases. If
there had been pandemonium before, what ensued is beyond any language
I know. Back of first and third the Broadwood coachers were yelling
themselves hoarse. Colton was plainly nervous, so nervous that he made
the mistake of throwing to first in an attempt to catch the runner
there. That almost proved disastrous, for Millener was not looking for
the throw, and only stopped it by a hair’s breadth. If it had gone by,
at least two men would have scored and the game would have been lost
then and there. Richards walked down to the box and talked a moment
with Colton, finally clapping him encouragingly on the shoulder before
he returned to his mask and mitt.

Broadwood’s next man was Kent, the shortstop. He wasn’t big but he was
spry and very much in earnest. He smiled derisively at the first ball
and looked pained when the umpire called it a strike. He even wanted
to argue about it, but the official refused to let him. So he gave his
attention to Colton instead, looking quite incensed. Colton sent in an
exasperating in-shoot that fooled Kent quite as fully as had the first
delivery and the umpire called:

“Strike two!”

Kent got madder still, so mad that he quite forgot caution and stepped
out after the next ball and, contrary to all law, found it squarely
on the end of his bat. In raced the man on third, down from second
went the next runner, off for second streaked the third, and away went
Kent and the ball simultaneously, the former for the first bag and
the latter, to all appearances, for somewhere in right center-field.
Broadwood leaped deliriously and waved her banners. All this is what
the first moment saw. The next saw a lad poised midway between first
base and second and some yards back of the line, leap high into the air
in the path of the speeding ball, saw the ball tip the upthrust glove,
bound into the air, and come down in that same glove, saw the lad race
to second and tag that base, and saw Broadwood’s discomfiture and
defeat, Yardley’s ecstasy and victory!

       *       *       *       *       *

Over on a corner of the Yardley bench the scorer bent over his book
while the crowds overflowed the field. He was putting the finishing
touches to his work, and as he figured the last summary he smiled in
contentment. Here is the story the score-book told:

 ===================================================================
   YARDLEY      R   H   P   A   E |   BROADWOOD    R   H   P   A   E
 -------------------------------------------------------------------
 Durfee, ss     1   1   1   6   1 | Cross, 2b      0   2   2   5   1
 Colton, p      1   1   0   1   0 | Gale, 3b       0   1   2   3   1
 Condit, 3b     1   1   1   0   1 | Russell, cf    0   0   0   3   0
 Lawrence, rf   0   0   0   0   1 | Little, cf     1   1   2   0   0
 Loring, lf     1   1   0   0   0 | Boudinot, rf   1   1   1   0   0
 Richards, c    0   1   9   2   0 | Kent, ss       1   0   0   3   1
 Millener, 1b   0   1  11   0   0 | Patterson, c   0   0   5   2   1
 Vinton, 2b     0   0   3   3   0 | Bray, 1b       0   0  13   0   0
 Smith, cf      0   0   2   0   0 | Minot, lf      0   0   2   0   0
                                  | Herring, p     0   0   0   2   1
 -------------------------------------------------------------------
   Totals       4   6  27  12   3 |   Totals       3   5  27  18   5
 -------------------------------------------------------------------

   Innings    1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
 Yardley      3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1--4
 Broadwood    0  0  0  2  0  1  0  0  0--3
 -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Home Run--Little. Three-base Hit--Patterson. Two-base
    Hits--Colton, Loring. Sacrifice Hits--Kent, Vinton. Stolen
    Bases--Cross, Loring, Durfee. Bases on Balls--Off Herring, 2;
    off Colton, 3. Struck Out--By Herring, 5; by Colton, 7. Hit by
    Pitched Ball--Cross, Boudinot, Minot, Loring, Smith. Double
    Plays--Cross to Bray, Vinton unassisted. Time of Game--2 h. 35
    m. Umpire--Gill.

What a journey home in the automobile that was! Mr. Pennimore, Gerald,
Dan, Alf, and Harry in the tonneau, and Tom beside the chauffeur! How
the blue flags snapped and fluttered their signal of victory as the
big car ate up the white road! How, as they rehearsed the struggle,
they always came back sooner or later to Dan’s double play!

“Why, Dan,” declared Alf vehemently, “you won that game just as much
as though you had made a home-run with the bases full! If you hadn’t
doubled then Broadwood would have scored twice at least! Confound you,
Dan, you’re always doing some spectacular stunt and making a blooming
hero of yourself! Why can’t I be a hero, I’d like to know? But you just
wait until next year. If I can’t find any other way of doing it I’ll
set fire to Dudley and rescue Tom in his nightie from the devouring
flames! I’ll be a hero or perish!”

“So that,” inquired Mr. Pennimore when they had ceased laughing at
Alf’s sally, “is what you call a ‘double play.’ Well, it strikes me,
Dan, that double plays are your forte.”

“That’s the first one I ever made, sir,” answered Dan.

Mr. Pennimore smiled.

“Technically, yes, I dare say. But I wonder if we can’t put the term
‘double play’ to a broader interpretation. It seems to me, now, that
anyone who not only makes his own career successful but finds time to
look after the welfare of his friend might very well be said to be
making a double play. What do you say, Mr. Dyer?”

“Yes, sir, you’re right,” answered Tom with decision. “And that’s just
what Dan’s done, as we all know.”

“Yes, and here is one who knows it better than the rest of us,” said
Mr. Pennimore, with an affectionate look at Gerald.

Gerald smiled and glanced shyly at Dan.

“I know one time when he made a double play, and a bully one,” he
affirmed amidst laughter. “And that was when I tried to make a ‘steal
for home.’”

“And which,” added Mr. Pennimore, “unlike most ‘double plays,’ instead
of resulting in a ‘put-out’ perhaps prevented one!”

And he chuckled quite as heartily as any one at his joke.

Here, then, let us leave them for a time, speeding home through the
warm, amber glow of late afternoon, the wind in their faces and joy
in their hearts, feeling as only boys can feel after a battle bravely
fought and a victory well won.


THE END.



BY RALPH HENRY BARBOUR.


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       *       *       *       *       *


 Transcriber’s Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_); text in
   bold by “equal” signs (=bold=).

 --Except for the frontispiece, illustrations have been moved to
   follow the text that they illustrate.

 --Printer’s, punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently
   corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.





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