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Title: Around the End
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Around the End" ***

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                            AROUND THE END



BY RALPH HENRY BARBOUR.


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


D. APPLETON & COMPANY, NEW YORK.



[Illustration: “To the right, off the port bow of the launch, a hulking
shadow took shape.”]



                              AROUND THE
                                  END

                            [Illustration]

                                 _By_
                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

   AUTHOR OF “THE HALF-BACK,” “CHANGE SIGNALS,” “FORWARD PASS,” ETC.


                            [Illustration]


                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                                 1913



                          Copyright, 1913, by
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY


                Printed in the United States of America



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                               PAGE
      I. THE FIRST SCRIMMAGE              1
     II. THE RABBIT AND THE DUKE         12
    III. COTTON TRIES FOOTBALL           28
     IV. AT SOUND VIEW                   45
      V. LOST IN THE FOG                 57
     VI. THE RESCUE                      64
    VII. GERALD MAPS A CAMPAIGN          79
   VIII. COTTON MAKES A WAGER            93
     IX. HARRY SCENTS A MYSTERY         107
      X. THE SPY                        123
     XI. BROADWOOD IS FOILED            138
    XII. COTTON MEETS A FRIEND          150
   XIII. THE DUKE STARTS SOMETHING      160
    XIV. KIRK EXACTS A PROMISE          177
     XV. THE NEWS PREDICTS DEFEAT       190
    XVI. COTTON WRITES A LETTER         200
   XVII. A FUMBLE                       209
  XVIII. KENDALL GOES BACK              220
    XIX. 9-6                            229
     XX. HARRY REMEMBERS                241
    XXI. KENDALL MAKES A SPEECH         254
   XXII. TWO SHEETS OF BUFF PAPER       267
  XXIII. “NO GOAL!”                     278
   XXIV. AROUND THE END                 290
    XXV. KENDALL IS MISTAKEN            299
   XXVI. GERALD IS SURPRISED            312



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                              FACING
                                                               PAGE

 “To the right, off the port bow of the launch, a hulking
     shadow took shape.”                    _Frontispiece_

 “The boy dropped to the floor and squirmed quickly from
     sight.”                                                      18

 “‘Hello! Hello! This is Mr. Gibson.... What say?’”              142

 “Something crashed against him, driving the remaining
     breath from his body.”                                      296



AROUND THE END



CHAPTER I

THE FIRST SCRIMMAGE


“This way, everyone!”

Coach Payson sent the call to each end of the field and then, swinging
his small blue megaphone in his hand, waited for the panting players
to gather about him in front of the bench. They came running in from
all parts of the gridiron, a motley gathering of football aspirants;
seasoned veterans of last year’s Yardley Varsity, Second Team
men, substitutes, new boys; big, little, fat, thin, all sizes and
conditions. Andy Ryan, the little red-haired trainer, stood over his
pile of blankets and his water pail, back of the side-line, and viewed
the sixty-odd candidates with a pessimistic shake of his head. John
Payson, turning at the moment, saw it and smiled.

“What’s the matter, Andy? Don’t they look good?” he asked.

“I’ve seen some funny bunches in my day,” replied the trainer, “but
never anything like them!”

“That’s what you say every year,” scoffed Payson good-naturedly.
“I guess this lot will average about the same.” He turned to the
breathless fellows gathering about him and pulled a little red book
from his pocket. “All right, now. First scrimmage to-day, fellows.
First squad: Cousins, Plant, Fales, Girard, Merriwell, Stark, Metz,
Holmes, Greene, Fayette, Marion. Second squad: Fox, Steger, Keene,
Johnson, McKesson, Fenwick, Adler, Simms, Crandall, Burtis, Brinspool.
First squad take the south goal and kick off to the second. Men not
playing get into blankets. On the run now. We’ll have two ten-minute
periods. Get a couple of fellows to take the chains, will you, Andy?”

The two teams trotted to their positions, Andy tossed a horn to Davis,
the manager, and summoned two blue-blanketed figures from the bench to
act as linesmen, and in a moment the ball was hurtling from Merriwell’s
toe.

Behind the benches, scattered over the grand stand, a hundred or more
watchers who, during the preliminary practice, had lolled comfortably
on the sunny seats, sat up and gave their attention to the scrimmage.
Simms gathered in the long kick and, behind a quickly-formed
interference, ran the ball back a good twenty yards before the first
squad smothered him. Murmurs of applause arose from the audience.

“That was a dandy run, wasn’t it?” observed Harry Merrow, who, seated
beside Gerald Pennimore halfway up the stand, was eating peanuts as
though his life depended on it. Gerald nodded.

“I wonder why Payson put Simms on the second and Holmes on the first,”
he said. “Holmes only got into the Broadwood game last year for a few
minutes at the end.”

“He played all through the Nordham game, though, didn’t he? I think
he’s every bit as good as Simms.”

“He’s just as good a player maybe, Harry, but he isn’t half the general
Al is. I see Burtis is playing right half on the second. I wonder if he
will make the team this year. Of course he will get into the games now
and then if only to kick goals, but I guess he’s got a lot of football
to learn yet.”

“Gee, they ought to make him a present of his position on the First
Team,” responded Harry, flicking a peanut shell at a group of boys
below. “Any fellow who will go into a Broadwood game without any
experience and win for us by a goal from the field ought to have
anything he wants.”

“Well, I guess Payson will take him on all right. I hope so. I like
Burtis. Do you know him?”

“I met him once in your room last Spring. It was the day of the
baseball game with Broadwood. He seemed a quiet sort of chap.”

“Yes, he’s a bit shy at first,” Gerald chuckled, and then, in response
to his friend’s look of inquiry, continued: “I’ll never forget the
night last year he came into our room and told Dan quite seriously that
he ‘would like to play on the football team, please.’ Harold Towne put
him up to it. Burtis was a pretty green lad then.”

“Towne always was a pup,” remarked Harry cheerfully. “There he goes
now!”

“Who? Towne?”

“Burtis; he’s got the ball. Made a peach of a catch and―― Oh, good
work, Burtis! Gee, Gerald, he must have made fifteen easily. Say,
he can run with the ball, can’t he? Did you see him slip away from
Fayette?”

“Yes. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made good this year. Goodness knows
we need a couple of half-backs! We’re going to miss Tom Roeder and
Stearns and Hammel like anything.”

“We’re going to miss a whole lot of fellows. We’ll never have an end
as good as Dan Vinton, nor a guard like Ridge. Did you hear Payson say
at the meeting the other night that only once before since he’s been
coaching have we had so few veterans to build the team around?”

“Yes. So, too, I guess. Simms and Merriwell are really the only members
of last year’s team we have; Holmes was more of a second-string man
than anything else. Still, there’s good material out there; Marion for
full, Stark for tackle, two good quarters, Fayette and Crandall and
Greene for halfs; we’ll get along, I guess.”

“I wonder what sort of a captain Merriwell will make,” mused Harry.
“He’s a good player, but――――”

“And a good fellow, and well liked, don’t you think? I don’t believe
he’s the leader that Dan was, though.”

“I should say not! You must miss Dan a whole lot, Gerald.”

“It’s something fierce! Lonely’s no name for it! I had a letter from
him yesterday. He’s out for the Yale Freshman Team, of course.”

“I dare say they’ll make him captain,” asserted Harry loyally.

But Gerald shook his head. “Not much chance of that, I guess. They
made Alf Loring captain last year, and it isn’t likely they’d give
the captaincy to Yardley fellows two years running. First’s going to
score, Harry. Who’s playing center for them? Girard? He’s a whopping
big brute, isn’t he? Pshaw! He’d better learn to pass back better than
that. Blocked! _Ball, you idiots!_ Who’s got it! First, I think. No,
second. Who? Burtis? It does look like him, but――no, it’s――It _is_
Burtis, for a fact! How the dickens did he manage to get around that
end? If he doesn’t watch out Payson will have him on the First Team.”

“Then he’s not likely to watch out,” laughed Harry. “Time’s up.”

They watched the players return to the bench and don their blankets
while Andy ladled out the water sparingly. Payson studied his
memorandum book, talking the while with Percy Davis, the manager.
Captain Merriwell, trailing his blanket behind him, joined them. Then
the coach turned to the line of players.

“All right, Plant, Girard, Stark, Marion, Steger, Johnson, McKesson,
Fenwick and Brinspool,” he called. “Once around the field on the trot
and run in. And don’t forget to weigh.”

Nine blankets were tossed aside and the released players started
their jog around the side-lines. Mr. Payson filled their places in
the line-up, and a few minutes later the second half of the scrimmage
began. Up on the stand, Harry Merrow, having finished the last of the
peanuts, blew up the bag and demolished it with a loud report that made
the audience jump in their seats. When his amusement had subsided he
turned to Gerald again.

“I wish I’d gone in for football,” he sighed.

“You’re too light, you silly chump,” replied Gerald. “Besides, you
can’t do cross-country work and play football. That’s what kept me out
of football; that and the fact that Dan wouldn’t let me on!”

“When are we going to start work?” asked Harry.

“In about two weeks. Andy wants the weather to get a bit colder. Where
did you finish last year? Eighth, wasn’t it?”

“Ninth. Holder beat me out at the line. We ought to have an easy time
with Broadwood this year, Gerald. Most of their best men last year were
seniors.”

“I hope not. I don’t want any runaway race. There’s no fun in that.
Look, second’s going to try a goal from field. There goes Burtis back.
I hope he makes it.”

“Where is it? About the twenty yards? He ought to make it, if they
don’t get through on him. There it goes! Over, wasn’t it?”

“I think so, but it was pretty far to the left. Yes, it’s a goal. That
chap’s playing half the game for the second squad to-day. I’ll bet
they’ll have him in the first to-morrow.”

“I’ll bet they won’t.”

“Why?”

“Because to-morrow’s Sunday,” replied Harry with a chuckle. Gerald
pulled Harry’s cap over his face, rumpled his hair and ran an elbow
into his ribs.

“You’re a smart little joker, aren’t you?” he laughed. “Sit up and
watch the kick-off; and behave yourself; or, as Ned Tooker used to say,
hebave yourself.”

“He was a silly ass,” said Harry, smoothing his hair and adjusting his
cap.

“Ned? Don’t you believe it, Harry. He was a dandy, Ned was. I’ll bet he
has a better time than any other three fellows I know. That’s a punk
kick-off. Fenwick’s got it. Go it, you slowpoke! They’ve got him. He
ran the wrong way, the chump. Funny how easy it is to play the game
from the grand stand, Harry.”

“Yes, I guess you and I would do some brilliant little stunts if we had
to go out there,” agreed Harry, nodding his head toward the field.
“If I had the ball and one of those big chaps like Girard came at me
I’d drop it like a hot potato and never stop running until I was in
20 Whitson with the door locked behind me! Oh, I’d be a brave little
football player!”

“Every man to his trade,” laughed Gerald. “Your trade――and mine――is
running, Harry.”

“That’s so. Then I guess I’d get to my room ahead of Girard, wouldn’t
I? Hello, time’s up. Let’s get back. I’m getting goose-flesh all over
me. It certainly gets cold when the sun quits business. Did you have a
good time this summer?”

“Dandy! Dad and I went across for two months; England, France,
Switzerland, Holland, Germany and a little bit of Italy. It was great.”

“It must have been,” sighed Harry. “Wish _my_ father owned all the
steamship lines in the world! I spent the summer down on the Jersey
coast with the mosquitoes. Had a good time, though. Used to get into
my bathing suit at eleven and keep it on until ’most dinner time. You
ought to see my back. It’s like――like mahogany.”

“Your face is bad enough. I didn’t know you that day you yelled to me
from the window. Thought you were a colored gentleman!”

They made their way down the stand and on to the field. Ahead of them
the players, their blankets flapping grotesquely behind them, were
racing up the path toward the gymnasium. Two or three, however, still
lingered where coach, manager and trainer were in consultation. As
Gerald and Harry reached the end of the field, one of these passed them
at a trot, turned to look and stopped.

“Hello, Pennimore,” he said. “I guess you remember me, don’t you?”

“Of course I do, Burtis. Glad to see you again. How are you?” They
shook hands. “You know Merrow?”

“I――think so. We met last year, didn’t we?” asked Kendall Burtis, as he
shook hands again. Harry said yes, and Gerald asked:

“Are you in Clarke again this year, Burtis?”

“Yes, same place. I’m alone so far. My roommate, Towne, hasn’t shown up
yet.”

“That so? What’s the matter with him?” asked Gerald as they went on.

“I don’t know. I asked at the Office the other day and the secretary
there said they were expecting him.”

“It would be a terrible loss to the school if he didn’t come back,”
observed Gerald gravely. Kendall shot a glance at him and smiled.

“Hope he stays away,” said Harry. “You played some football to-day,
Burtis.”

“Much obliged. I had pretty good luck.”

“Luck didn’t kick that goal, did it?” laughed Gerald.

“Well, there’s always a lot of luck in trying for goal,” replied
Kendall seriously. “Sometimes, just when you’re getting the ball away
something happens, like a forward breaking through, and you get sort of
rattled. Then there’s the pass, too. If that doesn’t come right you’re
likely to miss. There’s a lot of luck in it. Well, I must be getting
on. Glad to have seen you again, Pennimore. You, too, Merrow.”

“Thanks. What are you doing this evening, Burtis? Mind if I drop in for
a minute?”

“I wish you would. I haven’t anything to do. I――I’ll look for you.” He
nodded and trotted ahead.

“Funny about him,” mused Harry. “He’s as homely as a mud-fence until he
smiles, and then blessed if he isn’t almost good-looking! What do you
know about that, old Gerald?”



CHAPTER II

THE RABBIT AND THE DUKE


Harry Merrow’s remark was quite true, true in what it said and in what
it implied. When he smiled Kendall Burtis was a different looking
chap entirely, but he didn’t often smile, and when he didn’t it was
no exaggeration to call him homely. He was sixteen years of age, of
average height, with a figure that seemed to have more than the usual
allowance of corners. He had the rugged appearance of a boy who has
lived out of doors, and worked there, too. He had ashy-brown hair, dark
gray eyes, a nose which was almost a pug, and a broad mouth. Add plenty
of brown freckles to a face well tanned, and you have a fair idea of
Kendall’s physiognomy. But the mouth was kindly, the nose suggested a
sense of humor, and the gray eyes were clear and honest, and somehow,
in spite of its homeliness, the face was attractive.

He sat at the table in 21 Clarke Hall after supper that evening, with
his books open before him and a lead pencil protruding from a corner
of his mouth. And as he conned his lesson, muttering to himself at
times, the pencil wobbled about ludicrously. The room was on the second
floor and at the back of the building. It was plainly furnished and had
a somewhat threadbare look. What few pictures adorned the walls were
mostly on one side of the room, the side sacred to the roommate who had
not yet returned.

There was a knock on the door and in response to Kendall’s invitation
Gerald Pennimore entered. “You know you said I might call, Burtis,” he
announced, “but if you’re busy――――”

“I’m not, Pennimore. I was just having a go at Latin. Sit down, won’t
you?” And Kendall arose and pushed forward a chair with eager shyness.
“This is Harold’s; I don’t own anything as comfortable.”

Gerald seated himself in the Morris chair and looked about him. He was
a decided contrast to his host. Rather tall, slim and lithe, with a
graceful carriage and easy manners, fair-haired, blue-eyed, eager and
alert, he was quite different from the almost delicate youngster who
had entered Yardley Hall School three years before. To-day, in his
senior year, he was Class President, captain of the Cross-Country Team,
a valuable member of the Track Team, a hockey player of some ability
and a power in the school. In age he was a year older than Kendall.

“Towne hasn’t shown up yet?” he asked.

“Not yet. They say at the Office that he is expected, but I have a
notion he isn’t coming back.”

“You’ll be heart-broken about it, of course,” said Gerald,
sympathetically. But there was a smile in his blue eyes.

Kendall looked across gravely. “Well, I got sort of used to him,” he
answered. “Maybe they’d put some other fellow in I wouldn’t get along
with as well. I suppose you miss Vinton a good deal, Pennimore. He was
an awfully fine chap, wasn’t he?”

“Yes. Yes, I miss him a lot. You see, we were together three years
here in school and we spent some of our vacations together, too. I’ve
traveled with older fellows ever since I came here and now they’re
about all gone. I suppose it’s a mistake not to pick your friends from
your own class, but I couldn’t very well help myself. I had rather
a hard time of it when I first struck this place.” Gerald smiled
reminiscently. “You see, Burtis, I was handicapped by having a father
so wealthy that everyone knew about him. Then, too, I’ve lived in the
summer right here within a mile of the school. So when I came a lot
of the fellows were down on me. They used to call me ‘Miss Nancy’ and
‘Money-bags’ and things like that, and I was pretty miserable for
a while. If it hadn’t been for Dan and two or three other fellows,
fellows like Alf Loring and Tom Dyer, I’d have given it up, I guess.
Well, I’m glad I didn’t. How are the football prospects this year,
Burtis? Are we going to do the usual thing to Broadwood?”

“I don’t know much about them. I hear that we’ve only got two or three
first-string men left from last year, though.”

“Yes, but we’ve got a lot of good subs and fellows from last year’s
Second. I suppose you’re fairly certain of a place, Burtis.”

“I don’t know,” replied Kendall slowly. “I haven’t had much experience,
you see.”

“Experience! Great Scott, you had experience enough to go in in the
last minute and land a goal from the forty-yard line!”

“That wasn’t hard. You see, Fogg made a fine pass and Simms aimed the
ball just right, and all I had to do was kick it.”

“Yes, with the whole crazy Broadwood team charging through on you
like a lot of madmen! Sure, it was dead easy――I don’t think!” Gerald
laughed. “I saw you to-day, too, Burtis, and all I’ve got to say is
that if you can kick as well as you did last year and run as well as
you did to-day they’ll have an awfully hard time keeping you off the
First Team! Of course, I’m not a football player――never had time for it
except with a scrub team one year――but you can’t live with a fellow who
has football on the brain for three years without getting the critical
eye. And I’m going to tell you something that Dan said last Spring.
Maybe I oughtn’t to, but I guess you’re not the sort to get a swelled
head. Dan said, ‘That fellow Burtis is a born football player, and if
he had got started earlier he’d have most of us looking like amateurs.
They’ll make him captain before he gets through, see if they don’t!’”

Kendall colored with pleasure and embarrassment. “That’s――that’s
awfully kind of Vinton,” he murmured, “but――but I guess he was
mistaken――――”

“Yes, he was always making mistakes about football things,” replied
Gerald dryly. “Dan is stupid like a fox. Anyway, I hope he’s right,
Burtis.”

“Thank you. Maybe if I had gone to a school where they played football
before I came here I’d know more about it. There’s――there’s a lot to
learn, you see.”

“You’ll learn it,” affirmed Gerald heartily. “Well, you’ve got studying
to do and I guess a little of it won’t hurt me any, so I’ll run along.
Hold on, though! I very nearly forgot what I came for. I applied for
a room in Dudley last Spring; you know, I guess, that Seniors have the
privilege of rooming there if they want to; and I got my room――Number
14; I was to share it with a fellow named Kirk.”

“George Kirk? Captain of the Golf Team? I know him.”

“That’s the fellow. I’ve nothing against Kirk; rather like him, in
fact; what I know of him, which isn’t very much; but afterwards I sort
of hated the idea of giving up my old room here, and when I got back
the other day and saw it I hiked around to the Office and begged Mr.
Forisher to let me keep it. He kicked a lot, but finally said I might.
Seems he had a couple of fellows down for it and had to switch them
somewhere else. So, as it is, I’m alone in 28. Now, what I was going to
suggest was this――why――hello!”

Gerald stopped and listened. In the hall above there was a slamming of
doors and a scurry of feet. “They’d better cut that before they get
downstairs or Collins will nab them!” The clamor increased. Through the
partly open door they could hear someone taking the stairs at bounds,
while above there was the clamor as of a pursuing mob. The quarry,
whoever he was, reached the bottom of the flight with a final jump,
and then, in a twinkling, the room door crashed wide open and a tall,
lank youth plunged in. He was out of breath and the smile he summoned
was too agitated to seem genuine.

“Say, let me hide here a minute, will you?” he whispered to Gerald
hoarsely.

Gerald motioned to the further bed. “Slide under there,” he said
quietly. The boy flew around the table, dropped to the floor and
squirmed quickly from sight. Gerald stepped to the door to close it,
but the pursuit was already at the bottom of the stairs, laughing and
calling. Gerald left the door ajar, scurried back to his chair and,
thrusting his hands into his pockets, leaned carelessly back.

[Illustration: “The boy dropped to the floor and squirmed quickly from
sight.”]

“Yes, when it came to doing it, Burtis, I just couldn’t give up the old
place. You get terribly fond of a room after――――”

There was a hurried knock and the door was pushed open, revealing a
half-dozen laughing faces beyond.

“Hello, Pennimore! Is he in here?” The spokesman was a big fellow named
Johnson, a Second Class boy, who roomed on the floor above.

“Hello,” returned Gerald with a display of mild curiosity. “Is who
here?”

“The Rabbit! Cotton-Tail! Didn’t he slide in here?” Johnson looked
suspiciously around.

“Of course he did,” cried another of the crowd. “He didn’t go
downstairs and this is the only door that’s open! Where is he,
Pennimore? We’ve got to have him! We need him in our business!”

“I don’t know the gentleman,” replied Gerald with a smile.

“Well, he’s in here just the same,” declared Johnson.

“Oh, sure! I’ve got him in my pocket!”

“He’s in a closet,” whispered another fellow audibly.

“Under a bed, probably,” growled a third. “Say, whose room is this,
anyway?”

“This room belongs to my friend, Mr. Burtis,” returned Gerald amiably.
“If you ask him nicely he will probably allow you to come in and search
it to your heart’s content. Mind if this committee of thugs looks
around, Burtis?”

“N-no, I suppose not,” answered Kendall. “But I don’t see why they
should.”

“I don’t see any reason myself,” agreed Gerald, carefully avoiding a
glance toward the further bed. “Johnson, on the whole, I guess you’d
better run away. And you might close the door after you.”

“Then he isn’t here?” asked Johnson doubtfully.

“Who isn’t here?” demanded Gerald with a fine show of irritability.
“Can’t you see he isn’t here? Who the dickens do you want, anyhow?”

“Maybe he did sneak downstairs, after all,” someone suggested. “We’ll
get him when he comes back, fellows.”

“All right,” said Johnson. “Abject apologies for disturbing you,
Pennimore, but the law must be enforced, you know.”

“Oh, certainly,” replied Gerald carelessly. “Go as far as you like, but
close the door after you.”

The door closed and the footfalls died away up the stairs. After a
minute:

“Come out, Mr. Rabbit,” said Gerald softly. “The hounds have gone.”

There was a scuffling under Kendall’s bed and, feet first, the quarry
emerged. “Much obliged,” he panted. “Are you sure they’ve gone?”

“Mm; fairly sure. I’ll lock the door, anyhow. Sit down and recover your
_savoir faire_, whatever that is. You must be a newcomer, Mr. Rabbit. I
don’t recall your features.”

“Yes, I――I came last week,” replied the other, seating himself on the
foot of the bed and brushing the dust from his clothes. He had eyes
that, for want of a better word, might be called hazel, and the rims
were inflamed; Gerald decided, however, that the redness was not from
too much poring over text-books, for the youth didn’t look like that
sort. He was lanky, ungainly and none too attractive. His mouth was
unpleasant and his face didn’t look quite clean. And the red-rimmed
eyes had a sly look in them very unlike a rabbit’s. In age he seemed
about seventeen.

“May I ask,” continued Gerald, “why the gentlemen were so eager to
discover you?”

The boy’s eyes shifted and dropped. “They――they were hazing me,” he
muttered.

“Hazing you! Oh, surely not! Hazing isn’t indulged in here.
Mister――er――what did you say the name was? Rabbit?”

“My name’s Cotton. I don’t care what you call it, but they were trying
to make me hold my head in a basin of water.”

“In a basin of water? What an odd thing to do! Why, Mr. Cotton?”

“They said”――Cotton gulped angrily――“they said they wanted to see if I
was absorbent.”

“Absorbent? Oh, I see; absorbent cotton.” Gerald laughed and even
Kendall had to smile a little. “Well, were you?”

“I got away from them,” he growled.

“Oh, well, that wouldn’t have hurt you any, you know. In fact”――and
Gerald smiled slightly――“in fact a little water might be beneficial,
Cotton.”

Cotton scowled. “Well, they needn’t think they can do that sort of
thing to me. I’m too old a bird. I’ve been to school before. And if
they try any more of their funny stunts, someone will get hurt!”

“I don’t like your attitude,” said Gerald coldly. “A little fun doesn’t
hurt anyone, and as you’re a newcomer, Cotton, you must expect a
certain amount of ragging. I think you’ll find the coast clear now.”

“Besides,” went on Cotton aggrievedly, disdaining the hint, “they
wanted to put ink in the water.”

“You should have reminded them that you were not blotting-paper; merely
absorbent cotton,” replied Gerald with a smile.

There was a knock on the door and Gerald looked inquiringly at Kendall.
Cotton slipped to the floor, prepared to again seek the refuge of the
bed.

“Who is there?” asked Kendall.

“Wellington. May I come in a moment?”

“It’s all right, I guess,” said Gerald. “It’s The Duke.” He arose and
unlocked the door and the newcomer slipped in. He had a round, merry
face above which a tousled head of red-brown hair glinted in the light
like copper. He was about Gerald’s age, but heavier, rounder, softer.
He grinned at Gerald as he closed the door softly behind him, and then
observed the other two boys.

“Trouble’s over, Cotton,” he announced. “The enemy is dispersed. Keep
quiet and you can make it all right. Lock the door if you want to.
Better start along, though, before they get together again.”

Cotton moved doubtfully toward the door. “They’d better not touch me,”
he threatened, “or――――”

“Son,” said The Duke sternly, “you take my advice and don’t make any
foolish remarks. I don’t care much whether they drown you in a basin.
Rather wish they would. Beat it, Cotton!”

And Cotton “beat it,” only pausing long enough to cast a scowl at The
Duke.

The latter watched him go and, when the door was closed behind him,
turned with a comical look of despair to Gerald.

“Say, honest, Gerald, what would you do if you had a thing like that
wished on you?”

“You don’t mean he’s rooming with you?” exclaimed Gerald.

“’Tis true, O Solomon! My chum got away from me this year and that’s
what I drew. When I first saw it I thought to myself, it’s no use,
Duke, you can’t do it! It’s too much! Send in your resignation and
pack your little hand-bag. But then I got to thinking that if I didn’t
suffer someone else would have to, and my self-sacrificing nature
prevailed. So that’s how. Say, you might introduce me to your friend,
if you think he can stand it, Gerald.”

“I beg pardon! I thought you fellows knew each other. Burtis, this is
The Duke of Wellington; Duke, this is Mr. Kendall Burtis.”

“Ah, he of the nimble toe? I’m glad to know you, Burtis. I saw you kick
that goal last Fall. I need not say that I am one of your humble but
sincere admirers.”

Kendall smiled shyly as they shook hands.

“Where does this Cotton chap come from?” asked Gerald as they seated
themselves again. “Somehow he――he doesn’t quite look as though he
belonged, Duke.”

“He comes from some place in ‘Maryland, my Maryland.’ He’s been at
school somewhere down there, I think. Anyhow, he’s always comparing
Yardley with his last place to the detriment of Yardley. That’s what
started the trouble to-night. Lin Johnson and Billy Richards and two
or three others happened in and in about twenty seconds Cotton was
telling us what was wrong with the school. I don’t know where this
other place he’s been at is located, but to hear him talk about it
you’d think it was just outside of Paradise! Well, the fellows stood
it for a while, looking sort of pained and surprised, you know, and
then Lin got started and began to josh him. He doesn’t take a joke very
well, and so――oh, I don’t know, but pretty soon they decided they’d
find out whether he was absorbent cotton or just plain batting. And so
they tried to get him to put his head in a bowl of water. Of course,
I couldn’t interfere with the pleasure of my guests, and of course
I couldn’t take a hand at ragging my roommate, so I was forced to
maintain a difficult neutrality. I rather wished they’d drown him, but
he got away and bolted down the hall. His name, by the way, is Charles,
Charles Cotton.”

“That sounds familiar,” mused Gerald.

“You’re thinking of the chap who helped Izaak Walton write his
‘Compleat Angler,’ but I don’t think this is the same. I’m not sure,
though; he looks a good deal like a fish. The worst I can say about
him, fellows, is that he has an apparently insurmountable hatred of
water when applied to the outer person. I hope, however, to overcome
his aversion. Each evening I recite to him that charming little poem:

    “‘Water, cold water! For washing and drinking
      There’s nothing like water, cold water, I’m thinking.’”

And The Duke, having arisen to deliver the poetical gem, bowed deeply
and vanished through the doorway.

“What did you say his name is?” asked Kendall. “The Duke of Wellington?”

“His name,” laughed the other, “is Lester Wellington, but he’s been
known as The Duke of Wellington ever since he came here. The Duke is
a good sort, but he’s horribly lazy about study. He’s been here five
years, I believe, and has just got into the Second Class. Everyone
likes him, though, and he’s as kind-hearted as can be. It’s a shame he
doesn’t do better with his studies. I’d hate to be in his place and
have that Mr. Rabbit rooming with me!” Gerald shuddered. “I don’t know
why I should take such an aversion to the chap, but―――― Well, let’s
forget him. What I started to say half an hour ago, Burtis, was this:
I’ve got half a room that’s empty and I’d be glad to have you come and
use it. What do you say?”

“You mean――share your room――with you?” stammered Kendall incredulously.

“Yes. Think it over. Let me know to-morrow, though, if you can.
They are likely to plank someone down with me any moment, and with
fellows like that Cotton chap floating around”――Gerald shook his head
dubiously――“there’s no telling what might happen to me!”

“But――but I don’t see why you want _me_!” blurted Kendall.

“Great Scott, don’t be so modest!” laughed Gerald. “Why not? You are
respectable, aren’t you? Well, think it over and――――”

“But I don’t need to think it over! I’d――I’d like to do it very much if
you are sure you really want me to.”

“Good! That’s fine! To-morrow we’ll go and see the Office. I don’t
believe Forisher will mind if we double up, considering that we are
each alone. Anyway, we’ll see. Good-night, Burtis. Sorry you’ve had so
much interruption. All my fault, I fear. See you to-morrow.”



CHAPTER III

COTTON TRIES FOOTBALL


Kendall emerged from the doorway of Whitson Hall and stood for a
minute at the top of the flight of worn granite steps. It was a warm,
lazy day in the last week of September, a day that promised to become
even warmer and lazier as it progressed. Just now the time was only a
little after half-past eight, and breakfast was just over. The first
recitation hour was at nine and in front of the buildings fellows were
loitering in the sunlight. Here on the steps of Whitson at least a
dozen were holding forth: Girard, who played center on the football
team; Jensen, another pigskin follower; Davis, the manager, who was
somewhat handicapped with the given name of Percival, which had been
mercifully shortened and amended to “Perky”; Perry Whitehall, the
dignified editor-in-chief of the school weekly, _The Scholiast_; and
others whom Kendall knew only by sight. Many looked up as he came out
and nodded or spoke to him. Doubtless any one of the three or four
groups sitting or standing about the steps would have been pleased had
he joined them, for Kendall had been a school hero in a small way ever
since when, nearly a year ago now, he had won the Broadwood game by a
kick from placement in the last two minutes of play. But Kendall was
still rather shy, still very modest in his estimate of his own merits,
and would rather have taken a licking than intrude where he wasn’t
wanted.

He had been rooming with Gerald Pennimore in 28 Clarke for four days
now and was still wondering about it. Why Gerald, who was perhaps the
richest boy in school――there was a Fourth Class fellow named Hodgkins
who had just entered and whose father, a railway magnate, was popularly
credited with the possession of more wealth than Mr. John T. Pennimore,
the Steamship King――why Gerald, wealthy and popular, had selected him,
who was anything but wealthy and whose circle of friends included
possibly not more than a dozen or so, for a roommate was a puzzle.
The only likely explanation, Kendall decided, was that Gerald had
done it out of pure kindness of heart. Whatever the reason, however,
Kendall was intensely grateful. It was fine to have such a fellow
as Gerald Pennimore for a friend, fine to share such a comfortable,
even luxurious room as Number 28, fine to get away from his former
roommate, Harold Towne, a chap with whom anyone with less patience and
good nature than Kendall could never have put up.

But there was something else that Kendall was yet more grateful for,
and as he stood there at the top of the steps and let his gaze wander
over the scene before him, he realized it anew. He was very grateful
to his father, who, by more than one sacrifice, had found the money
for Kendall’s second year at Yardley. There had been a time during
the summer when the boy’s chances of returning to school had looked
pretty slim. It had been a bad summer for potatoes, and up in Aroostook
County, Maine, where the Burtis farm was, a failure of the potato crop
spelled trouble. It had been not until almost a fortnight before the
commencement of the Fall Term that Kendall had been quite certain of
returning to Yardley, and he very well knew that back home more than
one comfort would be dispensed with the coming Winter that he might
keep on with his education. And he had made up his mind that none of
the money spent on him should be wasted. He meant to study hard and
learn all he could this year, for it might be his last. He had resolved
to win a scholarship if hard work would do it. There was the Gordon
Scholarship which rebated the entire tuition fee, or, failing that,
there remained four Sidney Scholarships of eighty dollars. One of the
five Kendall meant to win.

From where he stood, Long Island Sound, blue and still, stretched east
and west, visible over the tops of the trees which ran for nearly a
half-mile between the school grounds and the shore. The buildings
circled about the edge of a plateau down which a well-kept roadway
dropped to the meadow lands below and wound westward to the little
village of Wissining, to the river beyond, and, finally, to the small
city of Greenburg beyond that. The river flowed down from behind the
school property, a placid tidal stream which in fair weather was
usually alive with boats and canoes. There were six school buildings,
four of them, Clarke, Whitson, Dudley and Merle, dormitories, one of
them, Oxford, given over to recitation rooms, library, assembly hall,
the Office, the Principal’s living quarters and the rooms of the
two school societies, Cambridge and Oxford. Beyond Merle Hall, the
dormitory for the Preparatory Class boys, was the Kingdon Gymnasium,
completing the line. Between the gymnasium and the river lay the
athletic grounds. Here were the tennis courts, the baseball and
football fields, the hockey rink in winter, the quarter-mile cinder
track and the boathouse and floats. The golf links began nearby and
wandered away along the curving stream, uphill and down.

Yardley Hall School is so well known that it is perhaps unnecessary
for me to bore you with description. Therefore, a few more words and
I am done. The school’s enrollment is about two hundred and seventy
students. There are five classes, First, Second, Third, Fourth and
Preparatory. The faculty numbers twelve, ranging from the Principal,
Dr. Tobias Hewitt, known as “Toby,” down to Mrs. Ponder, the matron,
affectionately――and surreptitiously――called “Emily.”

Kendall descended the steps and turned to his left. At the first
entrance of Clarke Hall he entered and climbed two flights of well-worn
stairs, bore to his left again and opened the door of the last room on
the front of the building. Number 28 was a big, square, well-lighted
room. Beside the shallow bay windows in front there was a window on the
side from which, past the obtruding shoulder of Whitson, one caught a
brief view of Wissining and the mouth of the river in the distance and
of The Prospect in the foreground. Each side of the room held a bed, a
washstand and a bureau. A big, broad study table held the center and
was flanked by easy chairs. There were many pictures, photographs
and trophies on the walls, the carpet was cheerful in tones of brown
and gold and the window-seat was piled high with many-hued cushions.
Altogether the room looked home-like and cheerful, and while there
were numerous evidences of wealth, from the silverbacked brushes and
toilet articles on Gerald’s chiffonier to the heavy, soft-piled carpet
underfoot, there was no ostentation.

Gerald, half-buried in the cushions of the window-seat, was having
a last look at “Wilhelm Tell” before going into class. A German
dictionary was lying beside him on the sill of the open window and a
frown was playing about his brow. He looked up when Kendall came in and
slammed the volume of Schiller shut with a sigh of relief.

“It’s criminal, Kendall, to have to translate German on a day like
this. You can’t do justice to it. It needs a thick fog to gargle
with. No one can manage a good German pronunciation on a fair day;
no one, that is, but a German.” Gerald gathered the books together
and sat up. “Thanks be, I’m not a German! Think of going through life
having to call an insurance policy a――a――wait a minute!” He opened the
dictionary and fluttered the leaves quickly. “Ha! Having to call it
a _versicherungsschein_! Wouldn’t that be――well, _niederschlagend_?
Wouldn’t it?”

“Worse than that,” laughed Kendall. “It would be _grimmig_!”

“_Grimmig?_” Gerald frowned a moment. “That’s furious, isn’t it?”

“Yes, or fierce!”

“Oh! I wonder if the Germans can talk slang. I bet they can’t. Any
nation that calls an irregular verb an _unregelmässig Zeitwort_ must be
far too deficient in humor to produce any George Ades. What time is it?”

Kendall glanced at a small traveling clock on Gerald’s chiffonier and
informed him that it was twelve minutes to nine. Gerald sighed again.

“I’m off to the sacrifice then,” he murmured. “By the way, don’t make
any engagement for to-morrow, please. I want you to have dinner with me
at the house. Afterwards, if it doesn’t rain”――Gerald looked anxiously
at the bank of haze along the horizon――“we’ll kick along shore in the
launch. See you later.”

As the door closed Kendall, picking up his Cicero, smiled. It wasn’t
very likely that he would have had an engagement on Sunday! Then
the smile faded and he wondered, as he went out, what sort of an
appearance he would make at Sound View. He had been there once before,
but there had been several others with him and the occasion had been
most informal. Sunday dinner, he reflected ruefully, was a different
proposition. Perhaps, however, his blue serge suit, purchased in
Greenburg last Spring and pretty well worn since, would do if it
were well brushed. As he reached the stairs The Duke clattered down
the flight above and overtook him. The Duke was radiant in a suit
of intensely blue flannel, the coat of which, cut extremely low and
secured with two buttons, allowed a generous view of a vividly pink
shirt. The Duke was bare-headed and his coppery hair showed evidences
of having been recently wet and brushed.

“Hello, Burtis,” he greeted, ranging himself alongside. “I’ve got grand
news for you.”

Kendall looked politely curious.

“Yes, sir, stu-pend-ous news! Mr. Charles Cotton is going out for
the football team!” The Duke chuckled. “Can you imagine it? Picture
the doughty Charles hurling himself fiercely against the――the craven
foe, his eyes lighted with the joy of battle and the ball clasped
desperately to his heaving chest! Get it? What? He told me of his
decision this morning, his epoch-marking decision. Epoch-marking is
some language, what? I’ve been simply bursting with the news ever
since, but you’re the first fellow I’ve told. My word, but I’ll bet
Payson will be pleased!” He looked at Kendall and grinned. “Simply
lays you flat, doesn’t it? Can’t express yourself at all, what? I
knew you’d be overcome. I congratulated Charles with tears in my
voice, Burtis. I said to him, ‘Charles, my boy, this is indeed a happy
moment for the old school. I thank you. I thank you on behalf of my
schoolmates, Charles, on behalf of the team, on behalf of the coach and
the captain! And I thank you on my own behalf, Charles, for you have
brought joy to my sad heart, light to my weary eyes and laughter to my
lips!’ Yes, sir, I said all that. And do you think he was pleased? Not
a bit of it! He turned upon me like――like a viper and called me――well,
I think I’d better not tell you what he called me. It was distinctly in
bad taste.”

Kendall laughed and The Duke, encouraged, rattled on. “Now the question
is whether we’d better divulge the news all at once or sort of prepare
folks for it. I tell you it’s going to make an awful difference to
the team, having Cotton on it. With his noble example before you, you
fellows can’t help but go in and win. I hope Broadwood won’t hear about
it. If she did she’d probably disband her team to-morrow.”

“Has he ever played before?” asked Kendall as they joined the throng
crowding its way into Oxford.

“No, never, I believe. I think he offered his services last year
wherever he was, but they were not accepted. He lays the fact to
jealousy. Isn’t it sad such things can be? Where are you headed? Latin?
Me, too. And that reminds me that I forgot to do my composition. Won’t
Collins be pleased!”

If the Assistant Principal was pleased he didn’t allow the fact to
become evident, for he said several dryly sarcastic things to The Duke
and ended by suggesting to him that he deliver the Latin composition to
him at his room not later than six o’clock that evening. Whereupon The
Duke, cheerful and forgiving, promised to accept the suggestion and the
Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero engaged the attention of the class.

As it was Saturday, football practice began at three o’clock instead
of four. Kendall joined the stream of candidates that flowed from the
gymnasium locker room to the field and wondered whether Coach Payson
would see fit to start him to-day with the first squad. Kendall’s
opinion of his football ability was modest, but he firmly believed
that, while there was undoubtedly plenty left for him to learn, he
could play half-back as well as either Fayette or Crandall, players who
thus far enjoyed the call for the position he coveted. However, he kept
this opinion to himself, which was a wise thing to do.

Fifteen minutes later, one of a dozen candidates for places behind the
line who were busily engaged in catching punts and running them back,
he spied the redoubtable Cotton, long, lanky, awkward and bewildered,
hurling himself to the ground in the effort to land upon a deceptive
pigskin tossed by the hand of a bored and pessimistic veteran to whom
the drudgery of breaking in a squad of green candidates had been
entrusted. Cotton was suitably arrayed, and his canvas breeches and
cleated shoes held the stamp of newness. The striped blue and white
jersey, however, in which the upper part of his thin body was attired
had evidently seen service of some kind. Observing him a moment,
Kendall decided that the jersey had not reached its present faded and
torn condition on the football field, for Cotton was so palpably out
of his element that the spectacle he afforded was almost pathetic.
Kendall, recalling Wellington’s nonsense, smiled. Cotton, he told
himself, had a hard row to hoe before he reached the First Team!

Still later, after a full half hour of signal work in the squad
directed by Holmes, Kendall walked back to the bench, draping a blanket
over his shoulders, and spied an empty space beside Cotton. He was not
favorably impressed by that youth, but the latter’s attempts had been
so pathetic and his countenance now showed so much weariness that
Kendall, from kindness of heart, squeezed into the space and asked
cheerfully how he had got on. Cotton evidently did not for the minute
recognize in football togs his host of a few nights before, nor did he
respond very affably to the overture. Instead he shot a rather sullen
and somewhat suspicious glance at Kendall and said, “All right,” in a
tone that seemed to ask what business it was of the inquirer’s.

“Have you ever played before?” asked Kendall. “I think Wellington said
you had, though.”

“A little.” He examined Kendall curiously, began to recall his features
and thawed. “I went out for the team last Fall, but”――he shrugged his
shoulders, hinting at things too regrettable to mention――“I didn’t make
it. Say, you’re Burtis, aren’t you? I didn’t know you at first.”

Kendall acknowledged it. “What school were you at last year?” he asked,
less from curiosity than a desire to seem friendly.

“Kingston Manor; near Baltimore. It’s a pretty good school; not as big
as this, but I didn’t care much for the fellows there. It was awfully
cliquish. That’s why I didn’t get on the team. I wasn’t swell enough
for them.” He laughed disagreeably.

“Too bad.” Kendall tried to put into his voice sympathy he didn’t
feel. For some reason Cotton awakened a feeling in him closely akin
to dislike, and it troubled Kendall, for there seemed no excuse for
it. Kendall could almost invariably find something to like in an
acquaintance, and when he couldn’t he still stopped short of actual
antipathy. In the present case, fearing that he was doing the other an
injustice, he took especial pains to be nice. They talked football for
a minute or two. Cotton expressed doubt of obtaining a fair trial.

“I guess if you don’t have friends here it’s about the same as it was
at Kingston or――or anywhere else.”

“I don’t think that,” responded Kendall. “I don’t believe they care
much here who or what you are if you can play football. Why, I didn’t
know a soul in school when I got here last Fall. I don’t know very many
yet.”

“Oh, well, you got taken up by Pennimore and that crowd,” replied
Cotton with something like a sneer.

“Not exactly that,” said Kendall quietly. “I did make a few friends,
though, of course, but the reason I got on at football was because I
could do a little something and they found it out. You buckle down and
learn the game, Cotton, and then, if you can play fairly well, you’ll
get your chance. There isn’t a squarer man alive than Coach Payson,
and Captain Merriwell is a mighty good sort, too. Just the same, it
won’t do you any harm to meet fellows, and I tell you what you do,
Cotton; you come down some evening and make a call. Fellows are always
drifting in and out of our room. Lots of them I don’t know very well
myself, but Gerald will introduce you.”

“Thanks,” replied Cotton almost gratefully. “I will. Wellington doesn’t
like me very well, I guess, and I don’t think much of him, either. He’s
a sort of a Smart Aleck, isn’t he?”

“I don’t know him very well,” answered Kendall noncommittally. “Here
comes the scrimmage. Don’t forget, Cotton. Come and see us some
evening.”

“First and second squads!” called Mr. Payson. “Line up as you did
yesterday.”

Blankets were tossed aside, head-guards caught up and twenty-two
eager aspirants thronged on to the field. Kendall trotted out to his
place on the second squad. Across the field, at the other end of the
fifteen-yard line, was Greene. Under the goal stood Holmes, who was
fighting hard against Simms for the quarter-back position. Up the
field the first squad were lined up for the kick-off, on their toes,
awaiting the whistle. Then Fales, left-guard, swung his long leg and
the brown oval came flying over the white lines, turning lazily in
its flight. Down rushed the enemy. The second squad defenders moved to
the left to meet the onslaught as the ball dipped into Greene’s arms.
The interference formed quickly. Bodies thudded together, players went
down. Greene, clutching the ball, shot forward, three players cutting
a path for him. A feint to the left, a quick turn to the right and
the opening was found. One, two, three white lines passed under his
pounding feet. Then a lithe body sprang upon him. Greene struggled
forward. Another foeman charged and the three went down. The whistle
piped.

“First down! Ten to go!” called the referee.

There was a quick lining-up, Holmes rattled off the signal, Kendall
trotted back to punting position, Best, at center, passed the ball,
Kendall caught it breast-high, stepped forward, swung his leg and away
hurtled the pigskin, arching high against the blue afternoon sky, and
away sped the players to line up again on the first squad’s thirty
yards. The punt had been a good one, forty-five yards in distance and
high enough to let the ends down under it and upset the runner before
he could more than get started.

There was no scoring in the first ten-minute period. Andy Ryan kept a
close watch on the water pail, for the day was warm and the temptation
to drink a dipperful was great. “Easy with the water, boys,” he
counseled time and again. And, “Get your blankets on! Don’t stand
around there getting cold! Have you no sense at all?” There were many
changes for the last period, but Kendall was retained, and, since the
first squad seemed to have gained more by the influx of fresh material
than the second and forced the playing from the start, he was needed.
Five times he was called on to punt out of danger from under his own
goal and as many times, coolly and exactly as though he were practicing
on an empty gridiron, he responded successfully. Then, in the last
minute of play, the tragedy occurred. First swept down to the twenty
yards. Two tries netted but four yards more. A forward pass, unexpected
and well executed, went to Cousins, but Kendall downed him in his
fourth stride and the ball went to the second on her fifteen-yard line.
Folsom, who had taken Holmes’ place at quarter, called on Kendall and
Kendall dropped back just under the cross-bar. For once Best passed
badly. The ball struck the ground a yard in front of the punter and
although Kendall got it on the bound and swung and even started the
kick away, the first squad forwards crashed through, the ball struck an
upraised hand and Captain Merriwell fell on it behind the goal-line.
Simms missed a try-at-goal. Score, first squad, 6; second squad, 0.

A moment later, panting, tired, aching, the players trotted up the
hill to the gymnasium, blankets trailing and flapping, to feel the
grateful splash of the warm water over their bodies, to writhe and gasp
as the icy-cold deluge followed, and to talk it all over, accusing,
defending, explaining, regretting, exulting! Then to dress leisurely,
weariedly and withal happily in an atmosphere of steam and witch hazel
and arnica, in a babel of talk and laughter, silently resolving better
things for next practice, wondering how they could live through the
whole long hour that must elapse before they could have supper!



CHAPTER IV

AT SOUND VIEW


The Pennimore country place, Sound View, lies within a half mile of the
school buildings and adjoins the school property on the west. Taking
the path across The Prospect, as the terrace of lawn in front of Oxford
Hall was called, descending a flight of steps, crossing the curving
drive and continuing the path again beyond, you come to a rustic bridge
which surmounts a twenty-foot cut. Through this the railroad runs
almost due east and west, in the latter direction ultimately reaching,
like so many of the boys who graduate in sight of the cut, the city
of New Haven. Eastward, at a nearly corresponding distance, lies
Newport. But Kendall was thinking of neither New Haven nor Newport, as,
shortly after morning church the next day, he crossed the bridge and
entered the woods. He was taking the shortest route to Sound View and
he was wondering whether the suit of clothes he had put on in honor
of the occasion really looked as well as it had seemed to him. He had
brushed and rebrushed for a quarter of an hour, and had worked with
soap and water and a corner of a towel for as much longer in an attempt
to eradicate stains from the jacket. The latter effort had not been
altogether successful, but he flattered himself that if you didn’t
look very close you couldn’t see the obnoxious spots. At the dividing
of the path he chose the right-hand way and in a minute or two came
within sight of the high fence which divided the school grounds from
Mr. Pennimore’s land. It was a warm but cloudy afternoon, with a little
gusty breeze coming in off the Sound and lazily moving the leaves.
Presently he reached a narrow gate set in the fence. There was a round
hole in it and he put his hand through and lifted a latch on the
further side. Then he stepped in, wound by a broad bed of shrubbery,
following a well-trodden path, and found himself finally on the seaward
side of the big stone house with a wide expanse of lawn and flower-beds
and borders of shrubs near at hand, and the Sound, looking rather
green and sullen to-day, stretching away into the distance beyond. A
big white steam yacht swung idly at her moorings off the mouth of the
river and near a long steel and granite wharf. A sudden barking of dogs
brought Kendall’s gaze back to the direction of the house just in time
for him to see Gerald vault over the low wall of the terrace and start
to meet him. An instant later a wire-haired terrier rushed down the
steps, frantic with excitement, followed more leisurely by a red setter.

“Hello,” called Gerald. “I thought you’d missed your way! Why didn’t
you come earlier?”

“Well, you said to come for dinner,” replied Kendall, stooping to pat
the setter who was wagging him a welcome. “I thought half-past twelve
was early enough. What’s his name, Gerald?”

“The setter’s? His name is Jack. I’ve had him for years. The other
little duffer, who wants to sample your trousers, but doesn’t quite
dare to, is Three Foot, so called because when he is very anxious to
get anywhere he picks up one foot and travels on the other three. Come
on up and sit down. Warm, isn’t it? Dad had to go down to New York
last night and hasn’t got back yet. I sent the car over to meet the
eleven-thirty train, but he wasn’t on it. He will be sorry not to be
here to meet you. You’ve never met the Dad, have you?”

“Once for a minute or two last Spring, over at Broadwood. But I guess
he wouldn’t remember me.”

“Don’t you believe it! Dad never forgets anything. Sit down and get
cool. Have some water or a glass of ginger ale or something?”

Kendall declined as he sank into a long rattan chair and fanned himself
with his hat. “Is that your yacht?” he asked.

“Yes――that is, it’s Dad’s. Mine is a bit smaller.” Gerald smiled.
“About a hundred and twenty-five feet shorter. We’ll try her after
dinner. I asked Harry Merrow to go along. Don’t mind, do you?”

“Not a bit. I like Merrow, although I don’t know him very well. He
spoke to me the other day after mathematics and we had a talk.”

“He’s a very decent kid. I suppose,” Gerald added with a laugh, “he’s
only a year younger than I am, but he’s always seemed a lot younger to
me.”

“I guess he’s about sixteen. You’re seventeen, aren’t you?”

“Yes. I’ll be eighteen next Fall when I get to Yale. I suppose that’s
early enough, but I’d have made it this year if Dad hadn’t kept me on
a diet of tutors for so long. It was funny the way I happened to go to
Yardley. Jack was mixed up in it, weren’t you, old doggums?”

Jack, stretched on the stones at Gerald’s feet, thumped his tail
affirmatively.

“How did it happen?” asked Kendall.

“Well, over there near where you came through the gate I used to have a
playhouse when I was a kid. Once somebody gave me a fireman’s uniform
as a present; you know, red blouse and helmet and a brass trumpet and
so on. So one day I thought it would be a bright idea to have a real
fire and do a rescue stunt. So I put on my fireman’s outfit, got an ax
from the stable, shut Jack in the playhouse and set fire to it.”

“Thunder!” exclaimed Kendall.

“Also lightning,” agreed Gerald. “It was a fool thing to do and Jack
might have been burned to a crisp because I locked the door and threw
the key away for some unknown reason. And the first thing I knew the
place was burning like a bonfire. Not that I was troubling much,
however. I’d brought along a couple of those chemical extinguishers
from the house and my plan was to break open the door, rescue Jack
heroically, just like a sure-enough fire-fighter, and then put out
the flames with the extinguishers. Poor old Jack was howling like a
good one, and I was telling him to keep his courage up or something
like that when a fellow sang out from the other side of the fence and
wanted to know what I was doing. I told him and invited him over to
help. I think he called me a silly little fool, which was impolite
but dreadfully true. Then he jumped over, grabbed the ax away from
me and beat in the door. The place was just a mass of flames inside
and Jack was stretched out like dead. I guess the poor old fellow was
scared stiff. So then there was nothing to do but go in and get him.
The trouble was that after I reached Jack I was too choked up with
smoke and too frightened to get out again, and if the other chap hadn’t
lugged us both out――well, you wouldn’t be sitting here; and neither
would I, nor Jack. We all got scorched a little and we boys were put to
bed and had to be dosed and fixed up by the doctor, and there was a big
old fuss.”

“What an awful thing to do!” said Kendall. “Why, you might have been
burned horribly. Who was the other boy?”

“Dan Vinton. And that’s how I happened to go to Yardley to school. I’d
had about half a dozen tutors and none of them would stay very long
because I was a mean little brat and made their lives a burden to them,
I guess. Dad sort of fell in love with Dan, just as I did, and after
a while, when I insisted that I wouldn’t be happy if I couldn’t go to
Yardley, Dad let me go on the understanding that Dan was to take charge
of me. You see, Dad was away a good deal more then than he is now. So
I went to room with Dan, and he made me toe the mark, too. I was like
a kid with three nurses, for when Dan wasn’t looking after me then Alf
Loring or Tom Dyer was! Well, I had my troubles for a while, but I got
through with them. It did me a lot of good, I tell you, Kendall, for
I was in a fair way to become a conceited, puny little idiot. Why, I
didn’t know what it was to be hungry until I went to Yardley and played
football and lived out of doors! I tell you, the fellow that doesn’t go
to a school where he can mix with other fellows and be thrown on his
own resources and fight his own battles is mighty unfortunate.”

“I suppose so,” agreed Kendall, “but it must be pretty hard on some
fellows. Take chaps who are shy and have been made a lot of at home,
Gerald; I guess they get pretty unhappy sometimes at boarding school.”

“Rather! I was so homesick and――and miserable that I ran away once and
went home to New York. And Dan came after me and lugged me back. Oh, I
know what it is about as well as any fellow. And that’s why I always
try to be friendly with the youngsters that come to school looking as
though they were walking into a den of lions. You come across them
every day at this time of year, trailing around by themselves and
looking sort of red about the eyes and doleful all over. I know about
how they feel; homesick and scared of the other fellows and scared
of faculty and scared of their lessons. It’s bad while it lasts, but
it doesn’t last long. Some morning you wake up with an appetite for
breakfast that almost makes you ache; and some fellow says, ‘Hello,
kid,’ to you as you go downstairs, and smiles at you or maybe claps you
on the back, and you eat a big breakfast and sort of look around and
think how jolly everything looks and how friendly the fellows seem all
of a sudden. And you wake up to the fact that you belong, that you’re
one of the crowd, that you’re a Yardley Hall fellow. And you walk out
of commons with a bit of a swagger and begin to try and decide whether
to be captain of the football team or a First Honors man!”

Kendall smiled appreciatively. He had been through it himself and it
was just as Gerald had described it. And he believed he knew a little
better now why Gerald had picked him for a roommate!

“Another thing,” continued Gerald, rubbing Jack’s ribs with one foot,
“that sort of thing has to come some time, anyway. I mean that――that
stage-fright or whatever you want to call it. If you don’t go through
with it at prep school you’ll have to face it later; perhaps when you
go to college or perhaps when you go into business. Every fellow has
to face it some time. It’s a good deal like being tossed into the water
and told to swim. You swim after a fashion――because you have to to keep
afloat, but you’re scared to death at first. After a bit you like it
and they can’t keep you out of the water unless they tie you up!”

“That’s something I can’t do,” said Kendall, “swim.”

“You can’t?” asked Gerald incredulously. “It’s high time you learned
then. Where have you been all your life?”

“On a farm,” laughed Kendall. “I’m a hayseed.”

“Aren’t afraid of the water, are you?”

“N-no, I think not. I rather like it, only I’ve never tried to swim in
it.”

“That’s good. Just as long as you aren’t scared at the outset you’ll
get on all right. You want to keep in your mind the fact that the Lord
gave you air to breathe in, ground to walk on and water to swim in, and
that you’re just about as safe one place as another. I’ll have to take
you in hand some day soon and teach you to swim.”

“I wish you would. I’ve always wanted to know how.”

A minute later they went in to dinner, followed by the two dogs,
and sat at opposite sides of a round table and were attended by a
serious-faced butler. Kendall held the butler in a good deal of awe
and marveled at the casual, almost disrespectful way in which his host
addressed that functionary. Once or twice he almost held his breath for
fear that the butler, whose name appeared to be Murdock at times and at
other times Scout, would take umbrage at the way in which Gerald bossed
him around. And when, finally, Gerald said carelessly, “That’s all,
Murdock, for a while. Just beat it, will you?” Kendall was quite sure
that Murdock would immediately pack his trunk and leave. But he didn’t,
for when it was time for the dessert Gerald pressed a button and
Murdock noiselessly reappeared, just as though nothing had happened.
That dinner was one to remember and dream about, and both boys, though
more especially Kendall, enjoyed it heartily from the funny little
disks of toast covered with some sort of paste that tasted like fish,
and which, following Gerald’s lead, Kendall anointed with lemon-juice,
to the black coffee served in cups so frail that Kendall almost feared
to lift one.

Afterwards they went upstairs to Gerald’s room and saw his treasures
of various kinds and sat in a broad window-seat that overlooked the
Sound. And at about three a maid announced the arrival of Harry Merrow,
and they arose with sighs and returned to the terrace.

Harry Merrow didn’t look to be sixteen by a full year. He was small of
build and slim of body, with a somewhat thin face that lacked color. He
had nice eyes, which were the saving of an otherwise rather featureless
face. He jumped out of a chair as the other boys emerged from the house
and came to meet them.

“It’s all right,” he announced merrily. “I’ve insured my life for its
full value, Gerald, and now where’s the boat?”

“I guess you didn’t have to pay a very heavy premium,” Gerald laughed.
“Come inside and let’s get some sweaters. It may be cold on the water,
even if it isn’t here.”

The dogs accompanied them down to the pier, barking excitedly, but
there Gerald sent them sternly back to the house. The launch, which
rocked gently at the side of the float, won loud praise from Harry.

“Say, Gerald, she’s a beauty! When did you get her? This summer? How
fast can she go? My wordy, look at all the brass on her! Glad I don’t
have to keep her polished.”

_The Dart_ was eighteen feet over all, with a six foot beam. She had
a cruising cabin with two bunks and a tiny galley. Her hull was of
white cedar painted light gray, with a gold line, while the inboard
finish was mahogany. She was a handsome little craft, and even Kendall,
whose knowledge of boats was limited, knew that she was a launch to be
proud of. The boys sprang aboard and looked her all over from stem to
stern. Harry had to stretch out on a bunk before he was satisfied, and
insisted on having the small stove lighted so he could see just how it
worked. Finally, returning to the cockpit, Gerald started the engine,
Harry, under his directions, cast off the moorings, and _The Dart_
headed out to sea.



CHAPTER V

LOST IN THE FOG


Southward lay Plum Island, seven miles distant, and beyond it the main
shore of Long Island was hazily visible. To the southeast, in clear
weather, one could see Montauk Point, but to-day it was hidden by a
fog bank. There were numerous sailing craft in sight, and an excursion
steamer, well loaded with passengers, passed down the Sound a half mile
away, an occasional blare of music from her band reaching them on the
breeze. There was very little sea to-day and _The Dart_ sped along on
an almost even keel. And how she did go! Fourteen miles, said Gerald,
but it seemed to Kendall that it must be more than that. Gerald, from
where he sat at the wheel in the cockpit, could look along the roof
of the cabin and had a clear view of the course. Everything for the
control of the launch was within reach, spark, throttle, clutches and a
strident electric whistle.

“It’s just like an automobile, isn’t it?” said Harry with a sigh of
envious admiration.

“It’s better,” laughed Gerald. “There aren’t any tires to blow out!”

Kendall perched himself in the stern where he could watch and enjoy the
rush of the green water. Harry stretched himself along the cabin roof.
“Are you going all the way across?” he asked.

Gerald shook his head. “No, I’m going to turn in a few minutes and run
up toward Fishers Island. There’s fog over there and I don’t want to
get caught in it. We’re three or four miles out now, I guess.”

When, presently, _The Dart_ turned her head eastward the breeze was
less apparent. For a moment the sun broke through and the waters of the
Sound took on new shades of paler green as they broke past the stern.
But the clouds soon closed again. Harry, lying against the low handrail
at the edge of the cabin roof, showed an inclination toward slumber.
Gerald and Kendall chatted of a hundred things while the launch
shot her way steadily and swiftly along. Fishers Island grew larger
and nearer. A four-masted schooner lazily dipped by and a long, low
torpedo destroyer, her battleship-gray hull scarcely distinguishable
from the sullen water, steamed toward the mouth of the Thames River,
probably on her way to the Navy Yard above New London. Suddenly a
slight exclamation from Gerald brought Kendall’s attention back from
the wicked-looking craft. Gerald was gazing southward in surprise. All
vestige of Long Island was gone and a bank of gray fog was advancing
across the Sound.

“I don’t like that,” muttered Gerald, and _The Dart_ circled rapidly
and shot away toward home. The sudden turn disturbed Harry’s dreams and
he looked down at the others, blinking inquiringly.

“What was that? Who shoved me? I say, Gerald, look at the fog out
there, will you? Hadn’t we better beat it?”

“We’re beating it now,” answered Gerald grimly, advancing the throttle
lever a little. The steady whirr of the propeller increased and there
was a louder sound from the engine below. “Take the wheel a minute,
Kendall, while I douse some oil. Hold her just as she is.”

Kendall scrambled over and gripped the rim of the wheel, while Gerald
stepped into the cabin and poked around with a long-nosed oil-can. _The
Dart_ was headed straight back for Wissining, but there was a good five
miles ahead of her and the fog-bank was rolling in fast. Kendall viewed
it apprehensively, without realizing just what it meant. It moved
toward them steadily, inexorably. At first nearly a mile away, now it
was less than half that distance. While he looked a sloop, beating
toward Orient Point, grew suddenly faint to view, then disappeared
utterly from sight. Gerald came back and took the wheel.

“We’ll be in it in another five minutes,” he said. “Hustle down, Harry,
and dig the fog-horn out of that after locker. That’s it. Know how to
work it? Just turn the handle around as though you were churning ice
cream or grinding coffee.”

Harry obeyed and a most dismal bellow was emitted from the box. “Isn’t
it sweet?” laughed Harry. “Want me to do it again, Gerald?”

“Not yet. Put it up on the roof and when the fog hits us give her a
turn every half minute or so.”

“How far from home are we?” asked Gerald, looking down the shore.

“Oh, three miles or so. She’s making a good sixteen miles now, but I’ll
have to bring her down to four or five in a minute or two. Here she
comes, fellows!”

There was a faint, damp puff of wind in their faces. Then it passed
over them and gradually the shore line was blotted from sight. Around
them fell a gray blanket of mist. Twenty feet away in any direction the
eye lost itself in the fog. _The Dart_ slowed down and the triumphant
whirr of the screw died away to a timid thudding. The engine clicked
feebly and the rods at the sides of the cylinders moved up and down as
though grown suddenly weary.

“Harry, get busy with your horn,” directed Gerald. “Kendall, you crawl
along to the bow and keep your eyes peeled. If you see anything, even
a log of wood, yell back to me. We’ll be home in half an hour or so
now, but I don’t want to run down a Fall River steamer or anything like
that. It’s awfully bad for your paint!”

At intervals Harry turned the crank of the patent fog-horn and a
lugubrious wail arose to lose itself in the impenetrable mist. Between
times, from various directions, far and near, came similar sounds. Save
for these warnings the silence was deep. What breeze there had been
was scarcely perceptible, although the bank of fog was not stationary,
but moved constantly across them toward the mainland. Once or twice
its grayness was tinged with amber as, for a moment only, the sun
came through the clouds above. Kendall, seated at the forward end
of the cabin roof, strained his eyes into the blank wall ahead. Ten
minutes passed. From somewhere off the bow came the faint shriek of a
locomotive.

“Can’t be far out now,” observed Gerald. “Can you see anything,
Kendall?”

“Not a thing, but――I think I hear something.”

“So do I. Get busy with that horn, Harry!” And Gerald, seizing the
whistle pull, sent a series of frantic blasts into the air that so
surprised Kendall that he almost fell overboard. Then Harry worked the
horn again, and after that they listened intently. From somewhere ahead
came the loud beat of an engine. Then a hoarse shriek broke the silence.

“She’s a steamer,” muttered Gerald, “and a big one, I guess.” Again he
sent the short, sharp peals of the whistle into the air. Now they could
hear the beat of the propeller on the approaching steamer. Again her
fog-horn tore the silence asunder.

“She’s right on us!” cried Harry, grinding frantically at the crank.
Gerald, standing at the wheel, peering forward, worked desperately at
the whistle pull and jammed a lever over. _The Dart_ lost headway,
slowed, stopped. The loud throb of the steamer’s screw seemed all about
them. Uncertainly, Gerald started _The Dart_ forward again, turning
her nose to starboard. Then, as another hoarse bellow came to them, he
stopped the launch as suddenly and pulled the lever to reverse. The
launch began backing away, circling slowly, to an accompaniment of
hysterical shrieks of the whistle and agonized groans of the fog-horn.

“Come back here, Kendall!” called Gerald, and Kendall scurried for the
cockpit. There was a sudden _swash_ as of a wave running up a beach,
and then――――

“Hold on hard, fellows!” shouted Gerald, twirling the wheel.

To the right, off the port bow of the launch, a hulking shadow took
shape, a shadow that loomed high above the water and broadened
instantly into the black bow of a steamer. Somewhere up there a voice
shouted and was drowned in the roar of the whistle. For a long moment
the three boys cowering in the cockpit of the launch, frozen into
silence, neither spoke nor moved. Then Gerald seized a cushion from a
seat and thrust it at Kendall.

“Hold tight to that and jump,” he cried. “Quick.”



CHAPTER VI

THE RESCUE


Kendall, clutching the cork-filled cushion, hesitated, but another
glance at the towering black shadow almost against them decided him.
Harry was already in the water. Gerald, poised on the combing, cried to
him again, and so, holding the cushion to his breast, Kendall leaped.
He felt the water close over him, heard its surge in his ears. Then,
fighting for breath, choked by the water he had swallowed, he found
himself afloat, buoyed up by the cushion. Instinctively he worked his
legs as he had seen swimmers do, striving to win out of the path of the
steamer. A voice called near at hand.

“Gerald! Kendall!”

Kendall tried to answer, but seemingly had no voice, and only succeeded
in choking and coughing. But Gerald, from somewhere in the fog, replied:

“Over here, Harry. Can you keep afloat? Where’s Kendall?”

This time Kendall managed to answer.

“I’m here. I’m all right. Did she hit us?”

“I don’t know. Find Kendall, Harry. He’s got a cushion that will keep
you up, too. Call again, Kendall.”

Then from a distance away, muffled by the fog, came a hail:

“Launch ahoy! Are you all right?”

“We’re in the water,” called Gerald. “Can’t see our launch.”

“What?” asked the voice, evidently through a megaphone.

Gerald repeated.

“Hold on then! We’re dropping a boat!”

The voice was fainter. Gerald swam out of the mist and made toward
Kendall, calling to Harry. Harry replied and in a moment joined the
others. “Take hold of the cushion,” Gerald panted. “It’ll hold you both
up.”

“Take hold yourself,” said Harry, struggling for breath. “I’m all
right. If I――didn’t have these shoes on――――”

“I think this will hold us all up,” said Kendall weakly. He eased away
from the cushion.

“Careful,” said Gerald. “Keep one arm over it. That’s it. Lay hold of a
corner, Harry, and rest a bit.”

“I will if you will,” said Harry stubbornly.

“All right.” Gerald took a grip on the cushion and Harry followed
suit, and although it sank a little it sustained them.

“They’re going to pick us up,” said Gerald. “All right, Kendall?”

“All right,” replied Kendall. But his teeth were chattering and he felt
a little faint.

“If I could get this old sweater off,” Harry was muttering when a hail
came across the water.

“Which way?” called a voice.

“Over here,” Gerald shouted loudly. Then they heard the creak of oars
in locks, and after a moment of suspense, during which Gerald shouted
again, a boat took shape in the grayness and came toward them. It was
manned by two sailors and a young man in uniform who stood in the bow.

“All right, kids,” he said cheerfully. “We’ll get you in. Pull around a
bit to starboard, men. Now then, one at a time, boys. Give me a hand.”

The young officer had made his way to the stern of the small boat while
talking and now leaned over toward the group in the water as the rowers
backed the boat nearer.

“You first, Kendall,” Gerald directed. Kendall stretched forth an arm
and the young officer seized his wrist and in a moment he was squirming
across the gunwale. Once inside he subsided between two seats and
closed his eyes dizzily. When he opened them again Gerald and Harry
were out of the water and the officer was asking Gerald if he wanted to
pick up the cushion.

“Never mind it, thanks,” answered Gerald. “I guess the launch is gone,
anyway.”

“No, we passed it back there and I guess we can find it again all
right. Give way, men.”

“Then you didn’t strike it?” asked Gerald in surprise.

“Just grazed it, I guess. The lookout saw you and we sheered off in
time not to sink you. You fellows take my advice and keep off the water
in weather like this.”

The steamer sent a blast of her whistle and the rowers altered their
course a little.

“We were trying to get home when the fog closed in on us,” replied
Gerald.

“I see. Well, what do you want us to do with you? Put you aboard your
launch or take you with us? We can’t tow that boat of yours, of course,
but she’ll be picked up sooner or later, I guess. We’re bound for New
Haven.”

“There she is, sir,” announced one of the sailors as the launch
appeared through the fog.

“Just put us aboard her, if you please,” said Gerald. “We’ll be all
right, thank you. It was very kind of you to pick us up.”

The officer laughed. He was a fine-looking chap of twenty-one or two,
bronzed and blue-eyed. “Well, we couldn’t do much less, I guess. Glad
things didn’t turn out any worse, boys. Live around here, do you?”

“Wissining,” answered Harry. “We go to school there; Yardley Hall, you
know.”

“What’s your boat, please?” asked Gerald.

“_Conomoit_, Captain Livingstone; Newport News.”

“And what line, sir?”

“Blue Cross Line. Say, you’re a bit particular, ain’t you, about who
pulls you out of the water? Or are you going to sue for damages?
Anything else you’d like to know?” And the officer’s blue eyes twinkled.

“I’d like to know your name, please,” replied Gerald, smiling.

“Oh, my name? My name’s Hallet, Second Officer.”

“Thank you,” answered Gerald. “We’re very much obliged to you.”

“You’re welcome. Say, that’s a fine looking little launch there. Glad
we didn’t rip her up, boys. Over with you, please.”

_The Dart_, apparently unscathed, although later Gerald found a long
smear of black paint along the side where the steamer had grazed, was
rocking quietly enough in the little oily waves as the sailors paddled
the rowboat alongside. Gerald had thrown the clutch out before he
jumped overboard, but the engine was still running. One by one the boys
climbed across to the wet, fog-drenched cockpit.

“Good luck,” called their rescuer. “Keep your whistle going. Give way,
men.”

The small boat disappeared into the fog, the crew of _The Dart_ waving
good-by. Then, “Harry, you and Kendall go down there and get your wet
clothes off,” said Gerald. “You’ll find towels in the bottom of the
right-hand locker. Rub yourself dry and put some blankets around you.
I’ll stay here and keep the horn going until you get fixed up.”

“What’s the matter with you doing it?” asked Harry. “You’re as wet as I
am.”

“You do as I say,” replied Gerald shortly. “I’m boss on this ship.
Hurry up now!”

Kendall’s teeth chattered so as he pulled and tugged at his wet
garments that Harry became alarmed and went to his assistance. But
when they had rubbed their bodies into a glow with the coarse bath
towels they felt rather better for their bath than worse. They took
Gerald’s place on deck and he disappeared to follow the same course
of treatment. The discarded clothing was wrung out and hung about to
dry if it would, and the three mariners, attired in gray blankets,
presented a ludicrous appearance.

“I hope no one will see us,” laughed Harry as Gerald joined them in the
cockpit. “We might be taken for the Flying Dutchman.”

“You look more like an Indian,” said Kendall. “What shall we do when we
get ashore? We can’t go up to school in these blankets!”

“We’ll get ashore first,” replied Gerald, “and decide that afterwards.
Have you heard the _Conomoit’s_ whistle lately?”

“Yes, a min――there it is now.”

Gerald stared into the fog, striving to locate exactly the direction of
the steamer. “Which way did that come from?” he asked puzzledly.

“Over there,” said Harry, pointing to port.

“Over there,” said Kendall, pointing over the bow.

Then the three looked at each other in dawning dismay. “I thought it
was more back there,” said Gerald doubtfully. “Let’s wait until we hear
it again.” But when it came again it was further away and might have
proceeded from almost any point at their right.

“That’s funny,” said Harry. “The last time it seemed more over there.”

“The launch has swung around, probably,” said Gerald. “Well, we’ll
have to make a try, anyway. There’s no use staying here and drifting
around the Sound.” He started the launch slowly ahead and turned her
nose toward where, in his belief, the Connecticut shore lay some mile
and a half away. Harry went back to the fog-horn and Kendall resumed
his position as lookout in the bow. Now and then a whistle sounded at
a distance in one direction or another, and once they heard the slow,
steady beat of a propeller through the enveloping mist, but no craft
came very near them, and _The Dart_, proceeding slowly and cautiously,
with Harry winding lugubrious wails of warning from the patent fog-horn
every half minute or so and Kendall straining his eyes into the gray
wall ahead, slid through the water. In spite of the fact that it seemed
quite probable that they might have to spend the night wandering around
the Sound, the three boys were in high spirits, due, doubtless, to the
reaction which usually follows a moment of peril, and chattered like
magpies. It was unanimously agreed that it would be quite unnecessary
to mention their misadventure to anyone.

“Toby would probably tell us to keep off the water,” said Harry. “And I
guess your father would have something to say, too, Gerald.”

Gerald smiled. “He probably would. It’s all over and I’ve learned my
lesson, which is keep on dry land when there’s a fog in sight. Kendall,
were you scared?”

Kendall hesitated a moment. Then, “Yes,” he answered quite honestly. “I
was. I wasn’t scared when I was in the water so much, but I certainly
hated to take that jump!”

“I don’t blame you,” said Harry. “It’s no fun when you can’t swim.
That’s something you’ll have to learn, Burtis.”

“I’m going to. I don’t believe it’ll be hard. I swam a little to-day.”

Harry laughed. “Of course you could with a cork cushion under your
chin. You’ll find it different when there’s nothing to hold you up.”

“Don’t discourage him,” said Gerald, smiling. “We’ll take him down
to the river some day, Harry, and put him through his stunts. See
anything, Kendall?”

“Nothing,” replied the lookout at the bow. “There’s a sound somewhere,
though.” They all listened. Then Harry gave a shout.

“It’s a train, Gerald. We must be getting near shore.”

“Yes. And I think I hear a bell. Do you?”

The others agreed that they did. “It’s a fog-bell on some ship,” said
Gerald. “Let’s make for it and maybe they can tell us where we are.”
He turned the bow of _The Dart_ a little more to starboard and they
ran slowly on, the _ding-dong_ of the unseen bell growing momentarily
louder.

Presently, “Why were you so anxious to find out the name of that
steamer?” asked Harry.

“I thought that perhaps it was one of Dad’s boats,” replied Gerald.

“Oh! And was it?”

“Yes, a Blue Cross boat. I’m going to send that chap something. He was
awfully decent to us.”

“Why not, seeing that he ran us down?” laughed Harry.

“I guess it was quite as much our fault as theirs. Yell if you see
anything, Kendall.”

“Not a thing yet, Gerald. That bell’s getting pretty near, though.”

“That’s what I think,” responded Gerald, peering ahead. “I wonder where
the dickens we are. It would be a joke on us if we found ourselves down
near New London somewhere. Perhaps that bell’s on some lighthouse,
fellows. Guess not, though; it doesn’t sound like it. Well, we’ll soon
find out. Hello――――”

“What?” asked Harry, working another groan from the horn.

“I thought I saw something ahead there, but it’s gone now. Did you see
anything, Kendall?”

“N-no, I don’t think so. Sometimes the fog sort of thickens and you
think you see things like shadows.”

And then the bell, which had not sounded for a minute, clanged again
and Gerald snatched at a lever, for it seemed almost at their bow. And
as _The Dart_ slid through the water silently, with diminishing speed,
something took shape in the fog ahead of them.

“Land!” exclaimed Harry.

“It’s a boat!” called Kendall. “Straight ahead of us, Gerald. You’d
better stop.”

Gerald reversed the propeller, _The Dart_ churned the water at her
stern and quivered as she began to back. By this time they could see
the amidship section of a white vessel. Gerald raised his voice as the
bell clanged its two notes once more.

“Ahoy there!”

“Ahoy!” answered a voice startlingly near.

“We’ve lost our bearings. How far is the shore?”

“About three hundred feet.”

“Oh! Well, where are we?”

“Pretty nigh off the mouth of the Wissining River. Where do you want to
get to?”

“Wissining River! Then――then what boat’s that?”

“Steam yacht _Princess_, New York, at anchor.”

“Why, that――――” began Harry excitedly.

“S-sh!” cautioned Gerald. Then, “Thank you,” he called to the invisible
informant. “We’re all right then.”

Very cautiously _The Dart_ circled away and made a detour of the
yacht’s bow. “I didn’t want him to see us,” said Gerald with a chuckle.
“He might have recognized the launch and told Dad some time. That was
Purdy, the steward. Keep your eyes peeled, Kendall, and watch for the
pier.”

A few minutes later _The Dart_ was snuggled up to the float, the lines
were made fast and the three boys were stumbling up the gangplank with
their blankets flapping around them and their wet clothing in their
arms. The fog seemed less heavy on shore, but it was still so thick
that they almost reached the house before they saw it. Gerald led the
way around to a side entrance, from which, treading softly and giggling
as they went, they climbed to Gerald’s room without being seen. One
after another they took possession of the bath-tub and then scrambled
for the dry clothing that Gerald provided. The garments didn’t fit very
well, but they answered the purpose. When a maid arrived in response to
Gerald’s ring she was sworn to silence and given the wet clothing.

“Put them where they’ll dry in a hurry,” said Gerald. “Has Father
returned yet?”

“No, sir. He telephoned he wouldn’t be home until to-morrow morning.”

Gerald gave a sigh of relief as the maid closed the door. “Of course
I’m sorry he’s not going to be here for supper,” he explained, “but
it might have been difficult to explain the costumes you fellows are
wearing. Harry, that coat looks as though you expected to grow a whole
lot in the next half hour!”

“Well, it may be a bit large,” allowed Harry, “but it’s some coat, just
the same. It’s a heap dressier than anything I own. What are we going
to do while those things dry, Gerald?”

“Anything you like. We’ll go down and have a fire in the library and
take it easy. You fellows will stay for supper, you know, and by the
time I’ve killed this appetite of mine your clothes will be ready, I
guess. Come on down.”

For an hour or more they sat in front of the fire and talked of a
hundred things, their voices growing drowsier and drowsier as time
passed. Then, just when Harry had begun to snore melodiously in his big
armchair, supper was announced. In spite of all the dinner they had
eaten their afternoon adventures had created fine new appetites, and
all three did full justice to the supper. By eight o’clock the clothes
were pronounced ready to wear again, and Harry and Kendall changed back
to their own garments. Half an hour later the three trudged back to
school by way of the village, Gerald having decided, since his father
was not to be at home that evening, to return with the others. They
parted from Harry at Whitson, after he had been again sworn to secrecy,
and, rather tired and very sleepy, crawled the two flights of stairs to
Number 28 Clarke. As Kendall lighted the light Gerald caught sight of a
card on the table and picked it up.

“What the dickens is this?” he said. “‘Charles Phillip Cotton!’ Now who
is he and why does he leave a visiting card?”

“He’s that chap who rooms with Wellington,” answered Kendall. “The
fellow they chased into my room that night. Don’t you remember?”

“Oh, that duffer? Well, what does he want here?”

“I――I told him I’d be glad to have him look me up. He――he doesn’t know
many fellows, and――――”

“Oh, I see.” Gerald crumpled up the card and tossed it into the waste
basket. “All right, but he must be a silly chump to leave a calling
card here. What does he think this is? Fifth Avenue?”

“If you’d rather he didn’t call――――” began Kendall.

“Not a bit of it. Maybe he’s better than he looks. You ask any fellows
you want, Kendall. Personally, I don’t think I’d ever get very fond of
Mr. Cotton, but if you like him it’s all right.”

“I don’t think I do――very much. Only he seemed kind of out of it, and I
thought if he came in here some time he might meet some of the fellows.
He’s out for the team, you know.”

“Not the football team?” asked Gerald, pausing in the middle of a yawn.
Kendall nodded. Gerald grinned and completed his yawn. Then, “Well,
he’s got plenty of cheek, hasn’t he? Fancy Mr. Cotton playing football!
If I wasn’t so sleepy, Kendall, I’d laugh!”

“And if I wasn’t so sleepy,” murmured Kendall, “I’d have a go at my
German.”

“Oh, hush,” said Gerald, crawling into bed with a long sigh of delight.
“Don’t mention study to a man――who’s just been――rescued――watery
grave――――”

Then he slept.



CHAPTER VII

GERALD MAPS A CAMPAIGN


Two afternoons later Kendall ran across Charles Cotton on the football
field. Cotton was still struggling along with the awkward squad,
and when Kendall, chasing a pigskin that had gone over his head,
encountered him he was on his way to the bench.

“Sorry I wasn’t at home Sunday when you called,” said Kendall. “I hope
you’ll try again.”

“Oh, it didn’t matter,” Cotton replied. “I didn’t have anything to do,
and just thought I’d drop in for a minute.”

“Glad you did. Hope I’ll be there next time. How are you getting on?”

“Pretty fair.”

Kendall nodded and went his way, while Cotton, standing where he was,
watched the other boy pick up the ball and hurl it cleverly back across
the field. “Thinks he’s a smart guy,” he muttered with a curl of his
lip. “Some day I’ll tell him what I think of him and his patronizing
ways. Not till I get what I want out of him, though.”

The first game of the season, that with Greenburg High School, was
only four days away, and this afternoon the scrimmage was longer than
heretofore. For the first time the school was able to get an idea of
how the First Team or Varsity would be made up. Cousins played left
end that afternoon; Plant, left tackle; Fales, left guard; Girard,
center; McKesson, right guard; Stark, right tackle; Adler, right end;
Simms, quarter; Crandall, left half; Fayette, right half, and Marion,
full-back. Of course, McKesson at guard was only temporary, for that
was Captain Merriwell’s position; and a good many looked for a change
at right end before the season was much older. But it was generally
agreed that the First Team, as made up this afternoon, would, with one
or two changes and barring accidents and unforeseen circumstances, play
the season through. A Second Team, captained by Jim Hough, was also
formed, and it was this Second Team that went up against the First for
three twelve-minute periods and was badly beaten.

The first cut came on Wednesday and some twenty-odd fellows left the
squad and swallowed their disappointment. The First Team retained
thirty-six players for the present, and the Second Team twenty-three.
Charles Cotton survived the weeding-out process and remained among the
First Team substitutes. He was trying for end. Kendall was a little
disappointed at finding himself second choice, but was comforted with
the knowledge that he was certain of getting into a full share of the
games since he was by far the best goal kicker in the squad. Holmes,
who since the beginning of practice had been pushing Albert Simms
hard for the quarter position, was more disappointed than Kendall. It
was his last year, and he had been after the place ever since he had
entered Yardley.

On Thursday the Second surprised themselves and everyone else by
rushing the First Team off its feet in two periods and finally winning
the practice game by 10 to 9, scoring two touchdowns and missing
the goal in each case. The First Team got a touchdown, and Kendall,
called on from the side-line, kicked the goal. Later, in the final
period, having substituted Crandall, he added another three points by
a goal from the field. But that wasn’t enough to beat the Second, and
Hugh’s charges gamboled off highly pleased with themselves. There was
no practice on Friday, although the players listened to a half-hour
lecture in the gymnasium and afterward walked through a few simple
plays.

Greenburg High School was not a formidable opponent, and the contest
on Saturday was not much more than a glorified practice game. The
school turned out to a fellow and filled the grand stand and nibbled
peanuts and applauded every opportunity. Merriwell played through the
first two periods and then gave way to McKesson. In the third period
Yardley presented an almost entirely new line-up. Steger went in for
Plant, Jackson for Fales, Best for Girard, Adler for Metz, Holmes for
Simms, Kendall for Fayette, and Brinspool for Marion. Greenburg also
seized the opportunity to try out her new material, and the latter
part of the game was something of a comedy of errors. Yardley already
had a score of 22 to 0, and Holmes received instructions to score by
straight football only. That, however, proved easier to say than to do.
Greenburg, even with a substitute back-field and a rather inexperienced
line, was quick and heady and stopped the Yardley attack for short
gains time after time. The third period ended without a score for
either side.

Up on the grand stand, with a bag of peanuts between them, Gerald and
Harry sat in the warm sunlight and viewed the contest with mild and
critical interest.

“More changes,” murmured Harry as the fourth period was about to
begin. “Best is coming off and Lin Johnson is going in. And there goes
Folsom to take Holmes’s place. Say, wouldn’t you hate to be a football
coach, Gerald?”

“Why?”

“Oh, think of having to lick a bunch like that into shape every year.
Gee, I’d get so discouraged I’d want to quit sometimes!”

“But you mustn’t judge a team by the first game it plays,” answered
Gerald. “Wait a month and then have a look.”

“I know. Somebody’s hurt. There goes Andy with the water pail. Isn’t
it funny that as long as we’ve been playing football, Gerald, nobody’s
ever thought to carry water on to the field in anything but a pail?”

“What would they carry it in? A tumbler?”

“No, but you can’t run with a pail of water without splashing most of
it out. Look at that! Why not use a can or something with a lid? Who is
that chap? Whoever he is, they’re taking him out. It’s Adler, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know him. Somebody’s given him a nasty looking eye, though.”

“I should say so! Yes, that’s Adler. He’s after Cousins’s place. Who’s
the funny looking guy Payson’s sending in?”

“Oh, his name is Cotton. He doesn’t look much as though he could play
end, does he?”

“Cotton?” Harry watched the substitute run on to the field. “Who is he?”

“I don’t know. I met him a week or so ago. He’s rooming with The Duke
in Clarke. He’s new this Fall.”

“Funny,” muttered Harry, “but I seem to know that chap. Name sounds
familiar, too. Cotton ... Cotton....”

“He’s a protégé of Kendall’s,” said Gerald. “Kendall has taken pity on
him because he’s new and doesn’t know many fellows. He asked him around
and he came last Sunday while we were away. Left his visiting card!
What do you know about that for style?”

“Well, whoever he is, he can’t play end,” said Harry in disgust. “That
Greenburg tackle is making him look like a canceled stamp――――”

Harry stopped so abruptly that Gerald turned to regard him curiously.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.

Harry shook his head. He was staring across the field at Cotton with a
frown of perplexity on his face. “Nothing,” he answered finally. “Only
that fellow bothers me. I’m almost certain I’ve seen him somewhere
before.”

“You’ve probably seen him in class or around school,” said Gerald.
“That’s not quite impossible, you know.”

But Harry again shook his head. “If I’d seen him here before I’d
remember it. Almost seems as if I’d met him. Where does he come from?”

“I don’t know. Hold on, though; seems to me The Duke said he came from
Maryland.”

“Well, it wasn’t there, for I’ve never been in Maryland, except to go
through it on a train. There goes Kendall with the ball. Good work,
Burtis! That fellow is certainly a wonder at keeping his feet, Gerald!”

“And he’s pretty good at keeping his head, too,” replied Gerald with a
smile.

“Funny idea you taking him in with you, though,” said Harry. “I like
him first rate, but――――”

“But what?” asked Gerald.

“Oh, I don’t know. He seems hardly your style. That’s all.”

Gerald was silent a moment, watching the efforts of Yardley to carry
the pigskin over the remaining four white lines intervening between it
and the Greenburg goal. At last, “I’ll tell you, Harry,” he said, “I’ve
always felt a sort of interest in Kendall ever since he butted into the
room one night with the calm announcement to Dan that he’d like to
join the football team. Towne put him up to it, you know.”

“I hear Towne isn’t coming back this year,” interpolated Harry.

“You can’t make me feel bad that way,” replied Gerald. “Well, I
really meant to cultivate Kendall after that, but I got busy with the
cross-country work and one thing and another and didn’t see much of
him. Ned Tooker sort of took him up, though, and he seemed in pretty
good hands. Then came that affair of the field goal and the school
made a hero of him, or would have had he let them. Dan was interested
in Kendall, too, and we got him over to the room once or twice, but he
seemed afraid of coming when he wasn’t wanted, and we sort of gave him
up after awhile.

“But Dan was a great believer in Kendall. Said he was the most
‘natural’ football player he had ever seen. And he also said”――Gerald
lowered his voice――“that unless something happened, like Kendall
getting hurt or leaving school, he would be captain before he got
through here.”

Harry whistled softly but expressively.

“And you know Dan doesn’t make mistakes,” added Gerald, his fondness
for his friend sounding in his voice.

“Looks as if he’d made one this time, though, doesn’t it?” asked Harry
with a smile.

“Why?”

“Why? Well, look.” Harry nodded to where Kendall was racing up the
field after a punt. “He’s only first sub now and next year is his last,
isn’t it?”

“Yes. And that’s why we’ve got to get busy.”

“Eh? Who? Get busy doing what?”

“Proving that Dan wasn’t mistaken,” replied Gerald quietly. “If
Kendall’s going to have the captaincy before he leaves here then next
year’s his last chance. And that means that he’s got to win it this
Fall.”

“Yes, but what did you mean when you said we’d got to get busy?”

“Just that,” answered Gerald with a smile. “Dan said Kendall would be
captain. He expects him to be and wants him to be. Well, you know I’m
pretty fond of old Dan, and so it’s up to me to see that things happen
the way he wants them to.”

“But what the dickens can you do?” gasped Harry.

“I don’t quite know yet. But you can see what I have done. I’ve brought
Kendall over to my room where he will meet a lot of fellows he ought
to know. I want him to get close to the other fellows on the team,
for one thing, for it’s those fellows who will elect the captain next
month. Of course, it’s up to him to make good on the gridiron, and I
think he will. He will if I can make him, anyway!”

“But――but, look here, Gerald――that――that’s rank politics!”

“No, it isn’t,” replied Gerald, shaking his head gently. “It’s
politics, but it isn’t rank. It amounts to this, Harry: Kendall hasn’t
the push to get himself elected captain if left to his own efforts. But
there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be captain if he’s wanted――――”

“But he won’t be!”

“Not if he’s left to himself, but I intend to see that he is wanted.
What I am conducting is a quiet campaign in the interests of Kendall
Burtis. If he does his part you’ll find when it comes time to elect a
captain for next year that they’ll be crying for Kendall!”

Harry viewed the other in rapt and admiring awe for a moment. Then,
doubtfully, “But it doesn’t seem to me that he’s got it in him to be a
good captain, Gerald. He――he isn’t a leader. I don’t say he can’t play
football, for I think he can, although even that’s got to be proved a
bit more, hasn’t it? But――well, it takes certain qualities to be a good
captain.”

“What are they?”

“Eh? Oh, I don’t know. Pluck, of course, and brains and――and executive
ability――――”

“Whatever that is,” laughed Gerald. “Well, you can’t say Kendall hasn’t
pluck after the way he went overboard the other day without being able
to swim a stroke. And as for brains, well, you think a minute.”

Harry nodded. “Yes, he’s got a good thinker, I guess.”

“And he can be wonderfully cool in an emergency,” continued Gerald.

“How do you know that?”

“By the way he stepped out on the field last year at the eleventh hour,
grabbed off the grand stand in a pair of long trousers and hustled
into a sweater, and stood there and kicked that goal with the whole
Broadwood team trying to get through and kill him.”

“Y-yes, but――――”

“As for the other thing, what you call executive ability and what the
rest of us, who haven’t your visiting acquaintance with fine English,
call leadership, why, no, he hasn’t displayed any of that yet. He
hasn’t had a chance, I guess. That’s something we’ll have to develop in
him, or, at least, bring out. And he’s discouragingly shy. He will have
to get over some of that. I don’t expect to make him popular in the
general meaning of the word. That isn’t necessary. I don’t think you
can call Charlie Merriwell a very popular chap.”

“He isn’t, and it remains to be seen what sort of a captain he will
make. Simms ought to have had it.”

“Yes, Simms is popular, but he didn’t get the captaincy. I know of at
least two fellows on the team who don’t really like Merriwell and who
cast their votes for him because they knew he could play football and
believed he’d make a good captain and because they respected him. See?
Well, I mean to have Kendall prove that he can play football, show that
he can lead, and win the respect of the fellows.”

“Gee, you’ve got a job! Sounds like a confidence game to me,
too, Gerald. Hanged if you aren’t deliberately setting to work
to――to――what’s that word?――to foist a captain on the school that they
don’t even know!”

“But they will know him before the time comes,” replied Gerald
confidently. “As for foisting”――he shrugged his shoulders――“it’s a fine
old word, Harry, but it’s in wrong. Dan has chosen Kendall for next
year’s captain; Dan knows; Kendall shall be captain. There it is in a
nutshell!”

“You’ve certainly got plenty of cheek,” laughed Harry. “And you can bet
I’ll be watching things with rapt attention, Gerald. I wish you luck,
and Kendall, too, but I’m very much afraid you’ll be disappointed.”

“Perhaps. If we are we’ll stand it. There’s one thing you seem to miss,
though. You talk about standing by and watching things. I have tried to
convey the idea that you were in on the campaign, Harry.”

“Me! What the dickens can I do?”

“I don’t know yet. I think you can be useful, however. Perhaps I’ll
make you head of the publicity department. Anyhow, I want your help. If
I hadn’t I wouldn’t have told you all this. Because it’s got to be kept
a secret from everyone, Harry, and especially Kendall.”

“What? Isn’t he to know?”

“Not a word of it!”

“Then I don’t see how you can expect him to――to do things, to get next
to the fellows, to――――”

“Don’t you see that if we told him he’d back out right now? He hasn’t
any more idea of getting the captaincy that he has of――of flying. And
even if he agreed to it he’d be so self-conscious all the time that
he’d make a horrible mess of it. No, you and I, and maybe another chap
before we’re through, must keep this to ourselves. No one must even
guess that we’re booming Kendall.”

“Sounds difficult,” Harry objected.

“Not very. There’s no reason why anyone should suspect that we are
doing it, is there? Just now Kendall Burtis is about the last fellow
anyone would think of as next year’s captain, isn’t he?”

“He certainly is,” agreed Harry, with conviction.

“Then why should anyone suspect that we’re pushing him for it?
Diplomacy, Harry, diplomacy! Also secrecy!”

“Two orders of each,” said Harry. “Well, it sounds sort of crazy to me,
but I’ll take a chance with you. And now, as the practice has been over
for some five minutes and as we’re about the only fellows in sight, I’d
like to move along. Even politicians have to eat, Gerald.”



CHAPTER VIII

COTTON MAKES A WAGER


I often wonder what Kendall’s sensations would have been had he learned
of the plot to make him football captain. Disbelief, first of all, I
fancy, and then wonder and alarm, and, finally, absolute stupefaction!
But he never did learn, never so much as suspected what was going on.
There was no reason why he should. Number 28 Clarke had long been a
popular place of gathering, as Kendall, who had spent a year in the
same corridor, well knew, and if it sometimes seemed to him that the
room was rapidly degenerating into a club it never occurred to him that
he had anything to do with it. He often wished that Gerald was less
popular, for the gatherings in Number 28 often seriously interfered
with his studying. All kinds of fellows came and went, and Kendall met
them all sooner or later. Had he given the matter special thought he
might have remarked on the fact that while the visitors represented
about every interest in school they were all fellows worth knowing,
fellows who had made good in one way or another, fellows whose words
carried weight and who held influence. They were by no means all
football chaps, nor even all athletic chaps. What Harry Merrow called
“the High-Brow Element” was well represented. At one time or another in
that month of October Gerald managed to attract to his room, and always
in the most natural and casual way, about all the prominent fellows in
Yardley. And Kendall thought it was very nice and enjoyed meeting the
visitors, and, having no ax to grind, was diffidently polite and did
more listening than talking. One evening after Merriwell and Simms, of
the football team, and one or two others had been in and gone again
Gerald took Kendall good-naturedly to task.

“Look here, Kendall,” he said, as they were getting ready for bed,
“it’s a fine thing to be modest and all that, but, as the negro said,
‘it don’t get you nothin’!’ Why don’t you talk a little more?”

“Why, I――I guess I don’t think of anything to say, Gerald.”

“Rot! You talk more sense than most fellows when you do talk. I’m not
suggesting that you jabber just to make a noise, but you’re overdoing
the wise owl act, old man. Fellows may get it into their heads that you
don’t approve of their statements and remarks, you see. Loosen up now
and then, Kendall, loosen up!”

There was no more said, but the suggestion bore fruit. Kendall really
made an effort on the next occasion. He wasn’t exactly chatty, but he
hazarded an opinion now and then, and was both surprised and flattered
to find that what he said was listened to with at least a show of
interest. A chap who doesn’t talk often is pretty certain of a hearing
when he does say anything, and as Kendall seldom spoke unless he had a
remark of some value to offer he soon became certain of his audience.
But all this took time, and in the meanwhile life was pretty busy with
him and he had far more important affairs to think of than polite
conversation in Number 28.

St. John’s School came and departed with trailing banners. Kendall
played through two periods of that game and acquitted himself with
honor. Jennings Academy proved a harder conundrum for the wearers
of the Yardley blue. Jennings was a new opponent, having been given
a place on the schedule that Fall for the first time, vice Carrel’s
School. Jennings had Yardley pretty well scared for three periods,
during which she ran up ten points to the Blue’s five. But in the final
ten minutes Yardley buckled down and hammered her way almost the length
of the field and sent Simms dodging and twisting across the line for
another score. Luckily Fales barely managed to place the pigskin over
the bars in the try-at-goal, and Yardley nosed out of the fray victor
by one point. It was by this time well past the middle of October, and
the remaining contests, with Porter Institute, Forest Hill, Nordham
and Broadwood, were all of the major variety. Yardley was to go away
from home for the Porter game, and this year it was Broadwood’s turn
to entertain her rival, but the other two games were to be contested
on the Yardley field. The Nordham game, for the reason that Nordham
had trounced the Blue the preceding Fall, was looked forward to with
unusual interest and a grim determination to wreak revenge. Not that
Coach Payson meant to endanger his chances of defeating Broadwood the
week afterward, or that any of the fellows wanted him to. However, if
it was in any way possible to square accounts with Nordham without
overexerting or injuring her players, Yardley meant to do it.

Football practice was no longer a romp, although Coach Payson never
allowed the work to become so severe as to be distasteful. Many a day
the players, First Team, Second Team and substitutes, trailed back up
the hill to the gymnasium tired in every muscle and almost ready for
mutiny. But always by the time they had had supper the bruises were
forgotten, the muscles had stopped aching and their thoughts were set
eagerly on the morrow’s practice. Of course, there were the usual
minor injuries to contend with during the early season, the usual
cases of overtraining, but no serious setback to the progress of the
team occurred. That progress was slow and steady. More time than usual
had been given this year to the fundamentals. It was not until after
the Jennings game that tackling the dummy ceased to be a part of the
afternoon programme. Even then the stuffed figure continued to swing
and dance between the uprights and was occasionally visited by some
player who had failed to grasp the knack of stopping the runner. The
kickers, Kendall amongst them, held a half-hour of practice each day.
Simms, the quarter, was a fairly proficient drop-kicker but had never
showed much punting ability, and Payson meant he should learn the art.
Graduation had deprived the team of one or two fair punters, and it
was necessary to replace them. The material was not very promising at
the beginning of the season, if we except Kendall. Kendall had proved
himself a born kicker, but no coach wants to depend on one man for
the whole season. So Fales and Crandall and Plant were added to the
kicking staff, and by the middle of the season Fales had become a
drop-kicker of some ability and Plant was getting off punts of forty
and forty-five yards. But Kendall still held his superiority in both
lines.

It was the Monday after the Jennings game that Kendall ceased being
a substitute and took Fayette’s place at right half-back. The change
surprised no one, not even Fayette, I think, for the school had all
the Fall expected Kendall to make the team and had only wondered why
Payson had not placed him before. A player with Kendall’s ability to
punt, drop-kick or place-kick deserved a position on the team even if
his football ability ended there. But Kendall’s didn’t, and he proved
it time and again as the season wore on. He was a daring runner with
the ball, a brilliant ground-gainer, who dodged and whirled through a
broken field like a small cyclone, and was as difficult to seize and
stop! He was so dependable, in fact, that when the First Team was in
a tight place one was likely to hear murmurs along the side-lines of,
“Why don’t they give it to Burtis?” But Kendall had his limitations,
too, for at line-plunging he failed to gain as did either Marion or
Crandall. He was lighter than those players and could not hit the line
as hard. But if the opening was there Kendall could knife himself
through as well as anyone, and once going he was harder to stop than
the big Marion.

But if the Jennings contest decided favorably the fortunes of
Kendall it also brought disaster to the ambitions of another of our
acquaintances. Charles Cotton was dropped on that Monday. Others went
with him in that final cut, and I doubt if any deserved banishment more
than Cotton; and I’m sure none took it less gracefully. Cotton’s soul
was filled with bitterness and wrath and his speech with condemnation.

Since that first unsuccessful visit to Number 28 Cotton had called
many times. Gerald bore with him for the sake of Kendall, and Kendall,
secretly weary to death of him and disliking him more and more each
time, tried his best to blame himself for the distaste he felt for
Cotton and, for fear he was doing that youth an injustice, was as nice
as pie to him. Cotton always seemed to know when Captain Merriwell or
other influential football fellows were in Number 28, and timed his
visits by such knowledge. He “swiped” frankly and assiduously. He tried
his hardest to make a hit with Merriwell, but only succeeded in making
the captain loathe the sight of him. He was boastful, sarcastic and far
from kind-hearted, but for a while he managed to make even Merriwell
and, in a lesser degree, Gerald believe in his football prowess. He
never hesitated to praise himself and his playing, and if one does
that often enough and with sufficient enthusiasm one will impress the
audience. Unfortunately, however, Cotton was unable to prove on the
gridiron what he proclaimed in the dormitory, and as elocution doesn’t
win football games Cotton’s career came to an end. He selected the
evening of the day of his demise to call on Kendall. Perhaps he hoped
to find Merriwell there and to make a plea for reinstatement. If so he
was disappointed, for only Gerald and Kendall were in the room when he
made his appearance.

“Well, I see you struck it, Burtis,” he announced after greetings were
over. “Very glad, I’m sure. You can play all around Fayette.”

“Thanks,” murmured Kendall. “It was just because I am a bit handier at
kicking than Fayette is that they gave me his place. He may have me out
again before the big game.”

“Pshaw, don’t you worry! Payson loves you; Merriwell does, too; you’re
popular. That makes a difference.”

“Just what do you mean by that?” asked Gerald, with a frown.

“Oh, you know well enough what I mean. A fellow hasn’t much show here
to make anything unless he’s got plenty of friends. Look at me. I can
play end as well as Fox can; better, for that matter; but I get pitched
out and he stays in. Fox has been here two years and has a pull. I’m a
new fellow and haven’t. That’s all.”

“If you can play better than Fox,” exclaimed Gerald impatiently, “why
the dickens don’t you?”

“I have! All the Fall! Ask any one.”

“I don’t need to. I’ve watched practice myself almost every day until a
week ago, and I’ll tell you frankly, Cotton, you never showed anything
when I was looking!”

“I didn’t know you considered yourself an authority on football,
Pennimore. I thought running was your specialty.”

“It is, but I’ve played some football, and I’ve seen a heap of it, and
if you want my opinion I’ll tell you plainly that you play the game
about as well as a piece of cheese! I don’t want to hurt your feelings,
Cotton, but there’s no sense in making charges of favoritism here. In
this school a fellow wins on his merits, and when you’ve been here
longer you’ll realize it.”

“That’s your opinion,” growled Cotton. “You’ve always had everything
you wanted, and you think you’ve earned it all. I’ll bet you that if
you hadn’t known lots of the fellows who give out favors you’d be just
where you were when you came.”

Kendall, who had been listening with an anxious countenance, attempted
the rôle of peacemaker. “Well, you’ve got another year yet, Cotton. I
wouldn’t feel badly about it. After all――――”

“Badly! Oh, I’m not breaking my heart,” replied Cotton, with a sneer.
“It’s no great honor to win your place by a pull. Besides, that team
will be beaten to a froth this year. Why, Broadwood will put it all
over them! You wait and see!”

“You’re one of the sort who doesn’t want to play on the losing side,
are you?” asked Gerald disdainfully. “Then I guess the team’s well off
without you, Cotton.”

Cotton turned toward Gerald with an angry light in his pale eyes, but
whatever the words were that sprang to his lips they never got past.
His reply to the taunt was so gentle that both Gerald and Kendall
stared in surprise. “I can take a licking as well as the next fellow,”
said Cotton quietly. “But I do think it’s a shame to keep good players
off the team and get beaten for it by Broadwood.”

“The team’s no worse than last year’s,” replied Gerald, regaining his
good nature, “and that was good enough to lick old Broadwood, my
friend.”

“Yes, by a goal from the field! Broadwood had you beaten before that.”

“What’s the odds? A field goal is a field goal, and we won. And we’ll
do it again this year.”

“Bet you don’t!”

“Bet we do! That is, I might bet if betting was allowed,” continued
Gerald with a chuckle.

“Well, what will you bet?” Cotton demanded eagerly.

“Not allowed,” responded Gerald. “Betting is barred.”

“You know you’d lose,” taunted the other.

Gerald’s eyes snapped. “Wait a bit, Mr. Cotton! Seems to me you are
pretty certain, considering that the game is a month away.”

“I _am_ certain. Broadwood will make your team――――”

“Why mine? Why not _ours_?”

“Well, our team, then! Broadwood will make it look like――like a bunch
of has-beens!”

“May I ask on what you base your judgment?” asked Gerald.

“On lots of things! On the players, and the coaching system――――”

“You don’t approve of our coaching system?”

“I certainly don’t! Payson works the fellows like a lot of dray horses,
for one thing. And he’s old-fashioned, too. He sticks to old formations
and plays that were worn out when Walter Camp was a baby. And look at
the way he runs practice! Every fellow doing about what he likes! When
does he begin to teach team-play, I’d like to know? In Saturday’s game
there was about as much coördination”――Gerald blinked――“as there is in
a pack of hens!”

“You mean a swarm of hens,” corrected Gerald gently. “Well, all that
may be true. I wish, anyway, you’d mention it to Payson; he ought to
be warned. But――_but_, my caustic and critical friend, we’ll send
Broadwood home with its tail between its legs!”

“Maybe, but you don’t believe it hard enough to bet anything on it!”

“Merely because betting is not allowed and because I have been taught,
besides, that it isn’t nice. Still――――” Gerald paused and considered.
“Still, we might perhaps come to an agreement that would――er――add a
personal interest to the outcome of the game. Let me see, Cotton. I’ll
tell you!” Gerald viewed him in mild triumph. “If Broadwood wins I’ll
invite you to spend Christmas recess with me in New York and give you
a good time, all differences and animosities forgotten. On the other
hand, if Broadwood is defeated you will――what the dickens _will_ you
do?” Cotton opened his mouth to speak, but Gerald went on. “I have it!
If Yardley wins you will stand on the steps of Oxford at five o’clock,
give a cheer for Yardley, and proclaim a certain passage from a play of
one William Shakespeare which I will indicate when the time comes.”

“That’s silly,” growled Cotton.

“Maybe; what’s the difference? Do you agree?”

“Yes. If Broadwood wins you’re to give me a week at your place in New
York at Christmas――――”

“Ten days, if you like.”

“And if Broadwood loses I am to stand in front of Oxford Hall and cheer
for Yardley and say something out of Shakespeare.”

“At five o’clock on the day of the game. And you’re to cheer and speak
loud enough to be heard――er――at the farthest edge of the stupendous
throng.”

“It’s a bargain,” agreed Cotton, with a grin. “I expect to have a
pretty good time at recess. Much obliged. Now I’ll be going. I’m sort
of sorry for you, though, Pennimore.”

“So shall I be if I lose,” laughed Gerald, as Cotton’s footsteps died
away down the hall.

“What is it you want him to repeat?” asked Kendall.

“If he loses? Why, nothing but that famous passage from Mr. Shakespeare’s
‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ You remember the words of our old friend
Dogberry? ‘Masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written
down, yet forget not that I am an ass!’”



CHAPTER IX

HARRY SCENTS A MYSTERY


Life wasn’t all football, however. There was a lot of studying to
attend to. Kendall was taking five courses, in preparation for that
college he might never reach: Latin, Greek, mathematics, English and
German. These made up a total of twenty-two hours a week. French,
physics and chemistry he was leaving to his senior year. Luckily
Kendall had the valuable gift of application, and application might
also be called the royal road to results. Certainly an ounce of it
is better than a pound of labor. Kendall was doing well in all his
courses. He was fond of languages and learned easily, German, however,
presenting a rather more difficult road than Greek or Latin. It was
in mathematics that he had to work hardest. There are some who never
manage to get themselves in sympathy with that science, and Kendall
was one of these. Geometry was his bugbear that year. But, with the
scholarship beckoning, he worked as hard as he knew how and usually
secured creditable marks. Although he had only three hours of English,
that course required a good deal of outside reading; just now they
were digging at Milton, with Shakespeare looming ahead; and there
were weekly compositions to be written, and, of course, one never
quite got away from rhetoric. So Kendall had his hands full, and there
were times when it seemed to him that it would be the part of wisdom
to give up football and devote all his thought and time to digging
for that scholarship. He didn’t, however, although he became panicky
pretty often and assured himself discouragedly that he hadn’t the
ghost of a show of winning even a Sidney. The panicky moments became
more frequent as the Broadwood game drew near and as football made
greater and greater demands on his time and thought. (But when the
awards were made at the end of the term Kendall found that his fears
had been groundless, for he won the Gordon Scholarship after all. And
the pleasure he experienced in writing the news to his father more than
made up for all the labor he had gone through.)

Studying in his room in the evening wasn’t a very great success,
for, although the study hour was more or less strictly observed,
the gatherings there continued, and it was difficult to get the
mind settled on geometry or German, Latin or Greek when you had been
listening for an hour to a discussion of the afternoon’s practice.
Gerald, in his last year, had less to do than Kendall. He was taking
but four courses, found them easy and so had to study but little.
Kendall made use of the hours when he had no recitations to retire to
the library in Oxford, and most of his studying was done there.

And, aside from football, there were other athletic interests demanding
the attention of the school. The cross-country candidates were training
five days a week. The golf team was preparing for the match with
Broadwood. There was a Fall Handicap Tournament going on at the tennis
courts. Even the baseball diamonds were occupied in fair weather.
Boys who found no appeal in any of these pursuits took to the water,
and as long as the Winter held off the river was dotted with canoes
and skiffs, pair-oars and tubs. And yet, back of all this, one event
loomed fatefully, growing each day larger and more portentous. That
was the Big Game. All the athletic industries culminated with the
Broadwood contest; the eighteenth of November marked the end of the
Autumn season, and fellows had a way of making promises to themselves
like this: “After the Broadwood game I’ll buckle down and get caught
up with Latin”; or, “When the Broadwood game’s over I’ll have more
time for study.” There was a subconscious spirit of nervous unrest
pervading the school that grew as the days went by. After the eleven
had journeyed away and returned with the scalp of Porter Institute the
season settled into its final stride, and only two games intervened
before the great test.

Yardley found Porter easy, and rolled up twenty-four points against
her opponent, meanwhile denying Porter the consolation of a single
score. The school declared that the team had found itself and that
the rest was easy. More knowing ones, taking Porter’s weakness into
consideration, found cause for doubts and criticisms. Twice Yardley had
had the ball within Porter’s ten-yard line and had failed to score.
There had been four bad fumbles. The team was still weak on offense.
If Broadwood was to be beaten the Blue must improve vastly in the next
three weeks. Thus the knowing ones. What Coach Payson thought no one
knew.

In the meantime Gerald’s campaign went forward and bore results.
Kendall made friends. Nowadays to walk from his room in Clarke to
a recitation room in Oxford entailed more greetings than last year
he would have been called on to accord in a month. He was really
surprised to find how many fellows he knew well enough to stop and talk
to, how many others demanded recognition, a word, a nod or a wave of
the hand. Of course, among the younger boys he was a hero second only
to Captain Merriwell himself, and the Preparatory Class youth who won
a word from Kendall hurried off to tell the rest of the inhabitants of
Merle of the talk he had had with Burtis, describing just how Kendall
had looked and just what he had said, and, I’m afraid, enlarging
a little on the incident. But that’s a weakness not confined to
Preparatory Class boys. Had you asked some of Kendall’s fellow members
of the team why they had taken a liking to him it is probable that they
would each have said about the same thing――had they deigned to answer
such a question at all! “Burtis?” they would have said. “Oh, I don’t
know. He’s a good sort, don’t you think? Awfully quiet, of course, but
has a lot of horse sense. Doesn’t butt in, either. Not much on the
handsome, but sort of nice looking, too, somehow. Doesn’t have much to
say about what he has done or is going to do or can do; just goes ahead
and does it. Awfully square sort, I’d say. Besides, he certainly can
play football!”

Gerald was pretty busy nowadays with the Cross-Country Team. He was
captain of it and about the best performer. And so Kendall saw less
of him than during the first of the term. But they usually spent the
evenings together. Harry Merrow, also a member of the Cross-Country
squad, was very likely to turn up at Number 28 after supper, and
Kendall had grown to like him very much. There had been another jaunt
on _The Dart_ since the day they had been lost in the fog, but the
second voyage had been an affair without incident. Kendall had not
yet become a proficient swimmer, principally because he had had but
three lessons in the art. It was very hard to find time for anything
just now. But he had managed thirty strokes on the last occasion and
had swallowed only about three quarts of the Wissining River. Gerald
and Harry had assured him that he had done excellently, and Kendall
promised himself that when Spring came he would complete his education.

Another fairly frequent visitor to Number 28 was The Duke. The Duke had
a way of knocking subduedly and entering on tiptoe, throwing fearful
glances behind him and subsiding into a chair with a long sigh of
relief.

“Ha!” he would whisper hoarsely. “Again I have thrown him off the
track! Ah, the peace and quiet of this refuse!” (Perhaps it isn’t
necessary to explain that in The Duke’s language “refuse” meant
“refuge.”) He always pretended that Cotton was dogging his footsteps
and that it was only by extraordinary stealth and cunning that he could
escape his roommate. Once or twice it happened that Cotton followed him
later, and on those occasions The Duke would throw up his hands, roll
his eyes, and spend the rest of the time of his visit sitting silent
and staring at Cotton as though hypnotized.

Cotton still insisted that he had been badly used by coach and captain
and still predicted utter annihilation for the forces of Yardley.
Gerald’s wager soon became known of and occasioned a lot of merriment.
The Duke pretended to be――or perhaps really was――much concerned. “My
word, Gerald, suppose we really did get licked! Have you paused to
consider the fate you have――er――invited? Think of having Cotton on your
hands every hour for a week or ten days! Breakfast, luncheon, dinner,
Gerald! No time off for recitations! Oh, woe is you!”

Some of the other fellows, too, tried to alarm Gerald, declaring that
they wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Broadwood won this year. Then they
drew graphic word pictures of Gerald towing Charles Cotton around New
York in Christmas recess. “Whatever you do, Gerald,” begged Bert
Simms, “don’t take him to the Eden Musee! When you went out you’d get
arrested for attempting to steal one of the wax figures!”

From all of which it will be seen that Mr. Cotton had unfortunately
not ingratiated himself to any extent with the habitués of Number 28.
One evening about midway between the Porter and Forest Hill games the
room was pretty well filled. Merriwell and Simms and Girard, of the
football element, were present, and George Kirk, captain of the golf
team, had dropped in. These, with Gerald and Kendall, pretty well taxed
the seating accommodations. Naturally the three subjects uppermost were
football, cross-country running, and golf. Kirk had been bewailing
the loss to the golf team of Ned Tooker, last year’s captain and star
player, and had expressed himself as very doubtful of the outcome of
the match to be played at Broadwood the following Saturday.

“Burtis, I thought you were going to play golf this year,” said Kirk.

“I am, I think, after the Broadwood game,” answered Kendall. “I like it
first-rate, Kirk, but there isn’t much time for it now, you know.”

“I suppose not. Maybe you’ll get in shape to play with us in the Spring
matches, though. It’s the hardest thing to get fellows to take an
interest in golf here!”

“Everyone wants to play football in the Fall and baseball in Spring,”
said Gerald. “You can’t get them to think of anything else, barring
track sports. We’ve had a dickens of a time this year getting enough
fellows together to make up the Cross-Country Team.”

“I thought you had lots of candidates,” said Charles Merriwell, a
good-looking, dark-haired fellow of nineteen. “Anyhow, you’re going to
win, aren’t you?”

“Oh, I suppose we’ll win all right enough, but if we do it will be
because Broadwood’s weak this year. Our team doesn’t begin to compare
with last season’s.”

“That’s what they all say,” scoffed big Girard, the center. “You hear
that every year. Nothing ever compares with what we had last year. It’s
rot!”

“Not always,” replied Bert Simms. “Our team isn’t as good as last
year’s, and you know it, Pete.”

“What’s the matter with it?”

“Too light, for one thing. Broadwood’s got the heaviest team she ever
put on the field. Bet you she’ll outweigh us four pounds to a man.”

“Oh, piffle! Look at O’Brien, their center; he’s a mite!”

“Well, he’s the only mite they’ve got, Pete. As for the back-field,
they’re tons heavier than we are.”

“Then we’ll make up for it by getting the jump on ’em,” said Girard.
“Weight isn’t everything.”

“Nice of _you_ to say so,” murmured Simms, causing chuckles of
amusement from the others. Girard reached out with a big foot and,
hooking it around a leg of Simms’ chair, brought that youth to the
floor.

“Bert’s right, though,” declared Merriwell, when order had been
restored, “and we’ll find when Payson shows his new plays that we’re in
for a kicking game, with most of our gains on wide runs. You’ll be busy
that day, Burtis.”

At that moment there was a rap at the door and The Duke entered, hands
in pockets, whistling, his eyes roaming the ceiling, elaborately
careless. He had an old felt hat on the back of his head, his coat was
tightly buttoned and the collar was turned up, and a false mustache,
fiercely red, hovered uncertainly under his nose. A burst of laughter
greeted him. Once inside the room, however, his demeanor changed.
Turning swiftly, he threw himself against the door and, as it crashed
shut, quickly turned the key and leaned there breathing heavily, his
eyes darting about with a haunted and terrified glare.

“What is it?” asked Merriwell. “Sherlock Holmes?”

“Old Sleuth,” suggested Gerald. “How did you cut your lip, Duke?”

Without replying The Duke leaned down and pressed an ear against
the keyhole. Then, apparently satisfied, he unlocked the door and
dramatically removed hat and mustache.

“Aha!” he exclaimed hoarsely; “foiled again!”

“Bet you he will be along inside five minutes,” laughed Gerald. “Sit on
the bed, Duke, and try to look like a pillow. Maybe he won’t recognize
you.”

The Duke followed the first part of the suggestion, but refused to
disguise himself as a pillow, even when Simms suggested that that
shouldn’t be a difficult stunt for anyone as feather-brained as The
Duke.

“Don’t trifle with me,” hissed The Duke. “I’m a der-esperate man!”

“Where’d you get the red mustache?” asked Girard. “Let’s see it.”

“Bought in the village,” replied The Duke as he tossed it over. “It
makes a perfect disguise, doesn’t it? I’m going to wear it to history
recitation to-morrow so Collins won’t know me and won’t ask for my
digest, which I have forgotten to prepare.”

“I stump you to,” said Simms. “If you will――――” But the rest was lost
in the laughter caused by Girard’s appearance with the mustache on.
After that they all had to try it, and just as it finally got around to
Kendall there was another knock on the door.

“Ha!” muttered The Duke. “’Tis he! I am discovered! But I shall sell my
life dearly!”

There was a moment of silence as the door swung slowly open, and then,
as Cotton walked in with fine dignity, a howl of laughter went up. Only
The Duke remained grave. Holding a pillow in front of him, he gazed
fiercely over the top of it, muttering and hissing. Cotton paused in
surprise. Simms was rolling on the bed in convulsions and Girard was
sprawled back in his chair, holding his sides. Cotton viewed the scene
at first with bewilderment and then with distaste. A flush crept into
his cheeks as he closed the door behind him.

“Hello,” he said stiffly, “what’s the joke, you fellows?”

Kendall was the first to recover. “Oh, just some of Wellington’s
nonsense,” he replied hastily. “Sit down, Cotton.”

“Y-yes,” gurgled Gerald, “s-sit down somewhere if you can find room.
Sit on the bed there next to The Duke.”

The Duke lowered the pillow, his gaze fixed on Cotton with fearful
intensity. Then, as the latter passed around the table to reach the
bed, The Duke seized the false mustache from Kendall, clapped it to his
face and confronted Cotton superbly.

“Aha, James Mortimer!” he drawled, stroking one end of the brilliant
mustache. “So we meet again, do we? What have you done with the
che-ild?”

Cotton, who had suspected himself to be in some way the subject of the
laughter that had greeted him, was restored to equanimity. He joined in
the laughter that followed and made himself comfortable on the bed.

“Where’d you get that thing?” he asked. “Let’s see how I’d look in it,
Duke.”

“Heaven forfend!” replied The Duke vehemently as he thrust it into his
pocket. “It wouldn’t become you, Charles, it really wouldn’t.”

Cotton smiled in the manner of one humoring a child or harmless lunatic
and turned to Merriwell. “How’s the team getting on?” he asked.

“Fair, thanks,” replied the captain without enthusiasm.

“Going to win on Saturday?”

“Hope to.”

“You’ll have to brace up your line, then. I was reading to-day that
Forest Hill has a wonderful attack this year.”

“What sort of an attack?” asked The Duke interestedly. “Not mumps, I
hope.”

“She’s got most of her last year’s team, hasn’t she?” asked Kendall
hurriedly.

“Blessed if I know,” answered Merriwell. “I guess Payson isn’t much
worried about it, though. I do hope we’ll trim Nordham, though,
fellows.”

“Oh, we’ll run away with her this year,” asserted Girard.

There was another knock on the door.

“Well, we’re some popular to-night,” said Gerald. “Come in!”

It was Harry Merrow. “Hello, everybody,” he greeted. “What is this? A
mass meeting?” Just then his gaze fell on Cotton and his eyes narrowed
suddenly, and for some time after he had perched himself beside Gerald
on the latter’s bed he continued to observe Cotton curiously across
the room. The conversation went on for a minute or two. Then Harry
whispered to Gerald, and the latter broke in with:

“Cotton, I believe you haven’t met Merrow. He’s in your class, by the
way. Sorry; I thought you knew each other.”

Harry reached over Girard’s head and shook hands with Cotton.

“Glad to know you,” he said. “We’ve met before, though, haven’t we?”

“I don’t think so,” replied Cotton. “I’ve only been here this Fall.”

“I mean before that,” said Harry. “Your face seems very familiar.”

“How about his manner?” asked The Duke innocently. Cotton flushed as he
took his seat again.

“That’s an old joke,” he said contemptuously.

“How dear to my heart are the jokes of my childhood,” chanted The Duke.
“When fond recollection presents them to view!”

Harry, looking polite and incredulous, sat down again, but every now
and then he shot a puzzled glance at Cotton. The latter, however,
appeared to have forgotten Harry’s existence after the introduction and
steadily kept his eyes away from that youth. Soon after, Merriwell and
Girard took their departure, followed later by Kirk and Simms. Cotton
stayed on until at last The Duke, giving Gerald a look of despair, said
good night. Cotton left with him, and as soon as the door was shut
Harry broke out:

“I’d give a thousand dollars to know where I’ve seen that fellow!” he
declared.

“That’s a lot of money,” yawned Gerald.

“Not if you say it quick. But honest, fellows, that chap bothers me.
I know I’ve met him before and talked with him, but I can’t imagine
where it could have been. You remember, Gerald, that day at practice I
told you he looked familiar? Well, I was right. There’s――there’s some
mystery about Cotton.”

“Oh, he probably looks like someone else,” said Gerald soothingly.
“Although, to be strictly truthful, Harry, I never saw anyone who
looked just like him!”

“He knew to-night that I recognized him,” mused Harry, “and he wouldn’t
look at me once. Well!” He moved toward the door. “I mean to find out.
Good night, fellows!”



CHAPTER X

THE SPY


However, Harry did not at once borrow The Duke’s red mustache and go
sleuthing. As curious as he was about Cotton, he was much too busy
these days to play detective, for, although he was pretty certain of
winning the cross-country race from Broadwood, Gerald wasn’t taking any
chances, and the way he and Andy Ryan kept the team on the go was a
caution.

The race was to be held, as usual, on the morning of the day of the
football game between the rivals, and over a course which might be
called neutral, lying as it did practically halfway between the two
schools. Broadwood Academy was situated some four miles from Yardley
on the other side of Greenburg and so far inland that at Yardley
they spoke of it humorously as a “freshwater college.” Broadwood was
slightly smaller than Yardley in point of enrollment, but for all of
that was an ideal rival, since she fought hard in every competition
and obligingly went down in defeat oftener than she triumphed. There
was no student now in Yardley who could recall a Broadwood victory on
the gridiron, although there had been some heart-breaking struggles and
alarmingly close scores. In baseball Broadwood was not so obliging,
although since John Payson’s advent at Yardley she had experienced
more defeats than victories. The rivalry between the two preparatory
institutions, both good ones, was healthy. Yardley fellows simulated
a contempt for the wearers of the Green that they really didn’t feel,
and Broadwood pretended similar sentiments toward the Blue. In reality,
however, each school entertained a deep-seated respect for the other.
While Yardley graduates were likely to go up to Yale to complete their
education, Broadwood traditions favored Princeton.

But while Broadwood usually excelled at hockey, garnered a full share
of the track and field honors, proved herself as good as her rival at
baseball, and accepted defeat on the gridiron only after the gamest
battles, she was weak at cross-country running and had been beaten each
of the few times that she had met Yardley. Gerald, who would have liked
to complete his hill-and-dale career and celebrate his year as captain
with a hard-fought victory, lamented Broadwood’s weakness this year.

“I wish we might give them a handicap,” he confided to Harry that
Saturday morning as they went back to the gymnasium after a two-mile
jaunt. It was the day of the Forest Hill game, and partly because it
seemed fair to let the cross-country runners witness the afternoon
contest and partly because it was advisable to accustom the team to
morning work, since the race was to be run in the forenoon, to-day’s
work had started at ten-thirty. Gerald seemed as fresh as when he had
started out, and save for the disks of red which had not yet faded
from his cheeks, one would never have suspected that he had led nine
others over approximately two miles of the hardest sort of going. Harry
Merrow, however, showed the pace. He had managed to finish fourth and
was rather proud of himself, although when Gerald had clapped him
on the back at the finish and congratulated him he had only smiled
depreciatingly.

“We might give them a quarter-mile start,” proposed Harry, with a
laugh, in response to Gerald’s remark. “But I don’t see why you’re so
anxious to get beaten, Gerald.”

“I’m not, but I’d like to have the race a really close one. As it is,
we’re just as likely as not to finish the first four men ahead of
them. I’m pretty certain we will if you run as well as you did to-day.”

“I ought to do three or four minutes better on the eighteenth,” said
Harry. “How far behind you was I to-day?”

“About six minutes. And I did as well within three minutes as I ever
did,” said Gerald.

Harry thought that over for a minute as they climbed the footpath that
affords a short cut to the gymnasium from the village road, and before
he had succeeded in figuring out what their relative positions would
probably be in the race Gerald introduced a change of subject.

“How do you think the campaign is going, Harry?” he asked.

“Campaign? Oh, you mean Kendall’s. Why, pretty well, I think. But I
hear that there’s a good deal of talk of making Crandall captain. He’s
pretty popular, you know. And a good player, too.”

“That so? I hadn’t heard it. Well, Howard’s a fine chap, and if our
candidate loses he ought to make a good captain. Have you heard talk of
any other fellows for captain?”

“No, I guess not. Fales would take it if he could get it. So would two
or three others. Pete Girard, for one.”

“He’d be a wonder,” laughed Gerald. “No, I guess it will be up to
either Howard Crandall or Kendall. You haven’t heard Kendall’s name
mentioned, have you?”

“For the captaincy? No, but I don’t hear much of the talk. But Kendall
has certainly made good so far, hasn’t he? I mean with the fellows.
They all seem to like him. If he’d get busy and pull off some brilliant
stunt this afternoon or next week, or win the Broadwood game with a
field-goal, I guess he could have the captaincy, eh?”

“I think so. Unfortunately, we can’t advise him to get off any
gallery plays. He wouldn’t if we did. Besides, a fellow can’t make
opportunities. All he can do is to grab them when they come. I hope,
though, that Kendall will put up a good game to-day. It’s time the
fellows began to consider him as a possibility. If they don’t we’ll
have to drop a hint pretty soon.”

“You’re a regular old politician,” laughed Harry.

“Say diplomat,” said Gerald. “It sounds more respectable.”

“Schemer is more like it,” responded Harry, as they entered the
gymnasium. “Something tells me that a shower is going to feel mighty
good.”

Half an hour later, when they rounded the front of Oxford, the Golf
Team was just setting off for Broadwood, after an early dinner, in a
three-seated carriage. George Kirk waved to them and then spoke to the
driver, and the carriage stopped. Kirk leaned out and called to Gerald.

“Say, Gerald, do something for me? Find The Duke; he’s at the
telephone, I think, and tell him never mind about New York; I’ll call
up this evening.”

“Never mind about New York, you’ll call up this evening. All right,
George; I’ll tell him. Good luck! Go to it and eat ’em alive!”

Kirk nodded and waved, and the carriage went on down the drive.

“I suppose,” mused Harry as he followed Gerald back to Oxford, “that
Kirk is just as much excited about his old golf match as you and I will
be about the race two weeks from now. Funny, isn’t it?”

“Funny?” repeated Gerald as he ran up the steps. “Why?”

“Oh, funny to think it matters who wins a golf match!”

“It’s evident you’re not a golfer,” laughed Gerald. “I’ll bet that if
George’s outfit gets licked this afternoon he will be like a bear with
a sore head! There’s The Duke in the booth.”

The long-distance booth was halfway down the main corridor of Oxford,
and, although it was rather dim, they could descry a figure behind the
glass. It was dinner hour and Oxford was otherwise quite deserted.
Gerald walked down the corridor, Harry sauntering behind.

“Hi, Duke! Kirk says never mind about New York!” shouted Gerald.

The Duke looked very angry and red-faced behind the window as Gerald
drew near, and was gesticulating wildly. He was also saying things, but
what they were Gerald was still too far away to hear.

“The Duke’s having a fit, Harry,” he announced interestedly. “Come and
watch him.”

“... Door ... lemme out....”

“What’s he saying?” asked Harry grinning as he realized The Duke’s
dilemma. Gerald shook his head.

“Can’t understand him. Can you? Seems quite worked up about something,
though.”

“Lemme out! Don’t be a fool! Can’t you see this blamed door’s stuck?”
And The Duke mouthed and grimaced behind the glass.

Gerald and Harry, maintaining a respectful distance, viewed him
gravely.

“Can’t get his number, I suppose,” said Harry sympathetically.

“Maybe he’s got hold of a live wire somehow. Anything wrong, Duke?”

“You open this door, Gerald! I’m suffocating in here!”

“He wants you to open the door,” explained Harry brightly. “But do you
think you’d better? He looks a bit dangerous, doesn’t he?”

“Y-yes,” responded Gerald doubtfully. “Perhaps we’d better have help in
case he gets――――”

But there was such a rattling of the door, such an assault on the side
of the booth that Gerald’s words were drowned. “I do hope he’s hung
up the receiver so that the operator can’t hear him,” said Harry. “It
might give the school a bad name.”

Gerald, at last taking pity on the prisoner, turned the door knob and
The Duke stumbled out, angry of countenance and incoherent of speech.

“Wish you’d get yourself locked up in that blamed thing,” he sputtered,
“and see how you like it! It’s ninety-eight in there, and you can’t
breathe! Why didn’t you open that door before? Wanted to be smart, I
suppose?”

“What’s the matter with the door?” asked Harry.

“It’s crazy, I guess. You can’t open it from inside to save your life.
It ought to be fixed.”

“Oh, I guess you didn’t go at it right,” said Harry soothingly. “Let me
try it.”

So Harry stepped into the booth and closed the door behind him, The
Duke’s expression of wrath changing slowly to a wicked grin. Harry
turned the knob inside and pushed. The door remained firm. Then he
tried again and with no better success. The Duke was thoroughly
enjoying himself now, applauding and encouraging. Gerald observed
smilingly. At last Harry gave it up.

“Can’t be did,” he announced from within in a smothered voice. “Open
her up, Gerald.”

Gerald looked inquiringly at The Duke and The Duke gazed questioningly
at Gerald. “Strange,” observed the latter, “that you can’t hear what he
says. Perhaps if he put his mouth to the keyhole――――”

“There isn’t any,” said The Duke.

“That’s so.” Gerald shook his head sadly. “I don’t see what he can do
then.”

Harry threatened them behind the glass. “You open that door, you silly
chumps! I want my dinner.”

“Did you get that?” asked The Duke.

Gerald shook his head. “Only a faint murmur. These sound-proof booths
are wonderful, aren’t they?”

“Marvelous! Who’d ever suppose that a person could be as near as that
and not be heard?”

Harry was now doing his best to kick a hole through the wooden
paneling, his expression an interesting mixture of amusement and
annoyance.

“Listen!” said The Duke. “I think I hear a tapping!”

“He is probably trying to signal to us, the way they do in the mines,
you know, when they’re imprisoned.”

“I know. They let food down to them through pipes somehow, don’t they?
I wonder if we could get his dinner to him anyway? We might telephone
it, perhaps.”

“If you don’t open this door,” announced Harry desperately, “I’ll break
the glass and you fellows will have to pay for it. Fair warning!”

“I hear a little better now,” said The Duke. “Perhaps he wants to come
out, Gerald!”

“I wonder! How stupid of us! I’ll bet that’s it, Duke. Suppose we open
the door and see.”

“Silly asses!” grunted Harry as he emerged, warm and disgusted.

“It makes an awful difference who the joke is on, doesn’t it, dearie?”
asked The Duke sweetly.

“Somebody ought to tell someone about that,” said Harry, “and have it
fixed.”

“And someone had better get into commons before someone loses someone’s
dinner,” replied The Duke. “You fellows been in?”

“No, we were on the way when Kirk asked us to find you and give you a
message.”

“He was in a rush and asked me to call up his folks in New York and say
he’d telephone this evening. Couldn’t get the house, though. Central
said they didn’t answer. I wonder if he knew about that door!”

“I don’t think so,” laughed Gerald as they ran up the steps of Whitson.
“He didn’t look to be in a very――very flippant mood.”

After dinner the three boys went up to Gerald’s room and loafed until
it was time to go to the game. They reached the field early, but found
the grand stand already nearly filled. Forest Hill School had sent over
nearly a half hundred rooters and these had taken possession of one
end of the stand and were already tuning up for the afternoon’s vocal
performance. A good many folks had come over from Greenburg and, of
course, Yardley had turned out to a man. The crowds was still streaming
on to the field when the Forest Hill team trotted past the corner of
the stand and crossed the gridiron to throw off blankets along the
further side-line. Gerald, Harry and The Duke were idling by the ropes
on the Yardley side when “Perky” Davis, the football manager, stopped.
Davis was a thin, light-haired youth with an habitual expression of
care and concern. Just now he seemed more worried than ever, and the
creases on his forehead were many and deep.

“Look who’s here, Gerald,” he said in a low voice.

Gerald’s gaze followed the manager’s toward the grand stand.

“Who, Perky?” he asked.

“Gibson, of Broadwood; the fellow who substitutes at guard. See him?
The big chap with the light gray overcoat and the derby hat, sitting
next to the Forest Hill crowd. He’s here to spy on us. Probably thinks
we won’t recognize him. I wish he’d choke. We were going to use four or
five new plays to-day, too. I’ll have to tell Payson.”

“I remember him,” said The Duke. “He’s got his nerve, hasn’t he? I
think he sees us looking at him.”

“Let him,” muttered Davis. “It’s just like Broadwood to send spies over
here.”

“Seen any more?” asked Gerald.

Davis shook his head, searching the throng suspiciously. “Not yet.
Maybe he’s the only one. They wouldn’t send more than one, I guess.
He isn’t much of a player, but they say he’s a mighty clever chap at
sizing up things.”

“Well, I suppose they have a right to do it if they want to,” said
Gerald. “And we can’t very well put him out, can we?”

“No, but he won’t learn much, because when I tell Payson he will shut
down on any new stuff. It’s too bad, though, because we need to try out
those plays.”

At that moment the Yardley team came on and the Yardley cheerers
started into action. “We’d better find some seats or there won’t be
any,” suggested Harry.

“Wait a minute,” said Gerald. Davis had hurried away and was speaking
to the coach. When he turned back Gerald hailed him.

“What did Payson say, Perky?”

“Asked me if I was certain, and I said I was. Then he nodded and called
Charlie and Bert. I guess they’re making over the programme.”

At a little distance Payson, Merriwell and Simms were in consultation.
The rest of the team had taken the field and the footballs were already
flying through the air.

“Someone ought to kick him out,” said Harry, fixing the Broadwood youth
with hostile regard.

“We might kidnap him,” suggested The Duke dreamily. “Anyone got a
gunny-sack handy? We could tie him up in it and drop him into the
Bosphorus――I mean the Wissining.”

“What we should have done,” said Davis, “is to have sent someone to
watch Broadwood play Nordham to-day. If it’s fair for them it’s fair
for us.”

“It’s extremely low-bridge,” replied The Duke disapprovingly. “Quite
reprehensible, whatever that may be. Also, fellows, if anything should
happen to him he’d have only himself to thank.”

“What’s going to happen to him?” asked Gerald, eyeing The Duke with
suspicion. The Duke only smiled carelessly.

“Why ask me? I don’t say anything is going to happen. I only say if
anything should happen――――”

“Oh,” murmured Davis disappointedly, “I thought perhaps you had a plan
to get rid of him.”

The Duke viewed him reprovingly. “Perky, if you want anyone put out of
the way you must do it yourself. I refuse to stain my hands with the
life blood of even a Broadwood fellow. I’m that particular!”

“Well, I hope he enjoys himself,” muttered the manager. “He won’t learn
much, anyway.” He nodded and hurried off, drawing his note-book and
pencil into sight. The Duke quietly beckoned Gerald and Harry toward
the entrance. Outside the three stood for several minutes with their
heads together. When they ambled carelessly back their countenances
were as innocent of guile as the faces of three babies. Only there was
a suspicious twinkle in The Duke’s eyes.

The grand stand being filled, the three found a space on the grass
near the rope and watched the two teams take their positions. It was a
clear, nippy Fall day, with a brisk northwest breeze quartering across
the field and streamers of white clouds scudding by overhead. Forest
Hill had won the toss and chosen the north goal. The whistle blew and
Fales kicked off.



CHAPTER XI

BROADWOOD IS FOILED


Yardley’s first chance to score came within three minutes of the
kick-off, after Forest Hill’s quarter had fumbled on the second play
and Stark had fallen on the ball near the twenty-yard line. But
although the Blue worked down to within twelve yards of the goal, the
attack weakened and the pigskin changed hands. Forest Hill kicked on
first down and the play went to the middle of the field. And about the
middle of the field, with small advantage to either side, it stayed for
the rest of the twelve-minute period, with neither team being able to
gain much ground.

A minute or two before the whistle sounded The Duke carelessly arose,
yawned, stretched and wandered away down the line. Now and then he
paused to look back at the play or to speak to an acquaintance, but
presently, having left the grand stand far behind, he doubled back and
hurried around between the stand and the tennis courts, reappearing at
the entrance just as the two teams, donning blankets, paused for the
two-minute intermission. The Duke pushed his way through the throng
with an important air and faced the sloping tiers.

“Mr. Gibson wanted at the telephone!” announced The Duke loudly. “Is
Mr. Gibson here?”

Without appearing to look in his direction The Duke saw the Broadwood
fellow start in his seat, look indecisively down and settle back again.

“Mr. Gibson wanted at the ’phone!” he continued, passing along in front
of the stand. “Mr. Gibson wanted at the ’phone immediately. Is Mr.
Gibson here?”

The fellows took up the cry. “Is Mr. Gibson here? O you Mr. Gibson!
Show yourself, Gib! There he goes! Here he is! Who wants Gibson? I
don’t! O you Mr. Gibson!”

At the first aisle a tall, broad-shouldered youth in a derby hat was
picking his way down as unostentatiously as possible. The Duke turned
back and met him as he reached the ground.

“Is your name Gibson?” he asked. The other nodded. “You’re wanted at
the ’phone. I’ll show you where it is.”

Followed by the youth in the derby, The Duke pushed his way through the
crowd about the entrance. Back of him a whistle shrilled and the teams
lined up once more.

“Do you know who wants me?” asked Gibson as they started up the path.

“I couldn’t say,” replied The Duke. “Nice day for the game, isn’t it?
You’re a Forest Hill fellow, aren’t you?”

“Hm,” responded the other noncommittally. “Where is this telephone?”

“Oxford,” replied The Duke, leading the way around the front of the
gymnasium and thereby lengthening the journey. “It’s right around the
corner here.” A burst of cheering came from the field below them and
Gibson looked regretfully over his shoulder.

“Those are your fellows cheering,” said The Duke. “I shouldn’t wonder
if you beat us to-day. How many of you came along?”

“Er――quite a number; forty or fifty, I guess. This the building?”

“Next,” said The Duke, conducting the visitor past Merle. “Here we
are.” They went up the steps of Oxford and The Duke led the way down
the dim and silent corridor to the telephone booth. Politely he opened
the door and, Mr. Gibson once inside, politely and very carefully he
closed it. The click of the lock was simultaneous with the lifting of
the receiver from the hook.

“Hello! Hello! This is Mr. Gibson.... What say?... Gibson!...”

[Illustration: “‘Hello! Hello! This is Mr. Gibson.... What say?’”]

The Duke, stealing softly down the corridor, heard no more. At the
doorway he cast a fleeting glance back at the booth. Then he slipped
from sight. Halfway back to the field he paused and did an erratic
breakdown, with much snapping of fingers and many loud chuckles. Then,
pulling his features back into their former innocence of expression,
he went on. He reached the gridiron at an exciting moment and had
seated himself between Gerald and Harry before his fellow-conspirators
realized his return. Then,

“All right?” whispered Gerald.

The Duke, supremely interested in the game, closed one eye slowly and
portentously. Gerald grinned. Harry hugged a foot ecstatically. “Like a
sheep to the slaughter,” whispered The Duke gloatingly. “Oh, _what_ do
you suppose he’s saying to Central?”

“How long will he stay there?” asked Harry.

“Until he gets out. There’s no one in the Office on Saturday
afternoons. Anyway, they couldn’t hear him――unless he broke a window
and yelled like sixty. Did you tell Perky?”

“Yes, and they’ve worked a couple of the new plays already.”

“Tried to, you mean,” corrected Harry gloomily. “They didn’t gain much.”

“Anyone scored?” asked The Duke.

“Not yet. No one’s had a chance. Kendall tried a placement from the
forty-five yards and missed by a yard. Too bad. He had the wind with
him, too.”

“Pete made a rotten pass, though,” said Gerald. “Simms had to scramble
for it. It’s a wonder they got the kick off at all. There’s the whistle.
Half’s over.”

As the players seized their blankets and trotted off the field Davis
hurried up to the trio beside the rope.

“What did you do with him?” he asked in a hoarse whisper.

“Do with him? With who?” asked The Duke innocently.

“Gibson.”

“Perky, you jump to conclusions,” returned The Duke calmly. “If
anything has been done to Mr. Gibson you shouldn’t lay it to me. I have
nothing but the kindest, sweetest sentiments toward the gentleman.”

“Oh, chop it! Is he――is he _safe_?”

“Oh, I do hope so!” replied The Duke. “Don’t tell me that anything has
happened to him, Perky!”

“Quit kidding,” begged Davis. “I want to know. Can we go ahead with the
new plays, Duke? Will he be back?”

“Blessed if I know. I know he isn’t here now, but there’s no telling
how long he’s going to stay away. Tell you what, Perky. I’ll stand at
the entrance and keep watch. If I see him coming back I’ll pass the
word to you and you can tell Payson.”

“All right. I’ll tell Payson that. Don’t miss him, though.”

“Nary a miss, Perky!”

The Duke, followed by Gerald and Harry, went to take up a position at
the corner of the grand stand and Davis scurried off to the gymnasium
in the wake of the team. The Duke, hands in pockets, wandered outside
and viewed the path. But save for the players trotting up the steps of
the gymnasium and Davis speeding to overtake them no one was in sight.

“Look here,” said Gerald, who had been studying the situation in his
mind, “what that fellow will do is to tell Central that he’s locked
up in the booth. Then Central will telephone to Merle or Clarke and
they’ll let him out. We didn’t think of that.”

The Duke frowned. “That’s so,” he acknowledged. “And it’s dollars to
doughnuts Central will get Collins on the ’phone and then there will
be the dickens to pay!”

“Thunder!” breathed Harry.

“Just so,” agreed The Duke. “Well, I’m in for it now, so there’s no
use worrying and getting a wrinkle. After all, it was a patriotic deed
and my conscience is at peace. I done it for the good of my fellow
critters.”

“I don’t see how Collins will know it was you,” said Harry hopefully.
The Duke viewed him with a pitying eye.

“Merely because I paraded up and down in front of the grand stand
yelling my little heart out for Mr. Gibson, Harry. Collins may be
dense, but I think he will be able to follow that clue; what?”

“He will get you,” acknowledged Gerald sadly. “The question is――――”

“The question is what will I get! Well, never mind. What’s done is did.
And here comes the team again and Mr. Gibson is not in sight. What
I should have done after getting him in there was cut the line!” He
looked longingly up the hill. “Maybe it isn’t too late yet,” he added
musingly.

“Then you _would_ get it!” said Gerald. “I guess you’ve done enough,
Duke.”

“Sure; too much is plenty! Anyway, if Mr. Gibson doesn’t get back
before the game’s over I’ll be satisfied.”

The Yardley team came piling through the entrance, Merriwell in the
lead, Coach Payson and Davis following. As he passed Davis lifted his
eyebrows questioningly and The Duke returned a reassuring shake of the
head. Davis whispered to the coach and the latter smiled demurely as he
passed on to the field.

“You fellows,” said The Duke presently, “had better get away from here.
If they see you sticking around with me they’re bound to think you had
a hand in it.”

“So we did,” replied Gerald.

“So you didn’t! What did you do, I’d like to know. Move on now, move
on! Don’t block the sidewalk!”

“Oh, who cares?” asked Harry. “It’s only a joke, anyway. They can’t do
anything to any of us.”

“Besides, Gibson won’t make a fuss,” said Gerald. “He won’t want to
confess that he came over to spy on the team.”

“Well, suit yourselves,” replied The Duke with a shrug of his
shoulders. “If you must have trouble, have it. They’re kicking off.”

The three saw the game, or as much of it as they could, from their
post, at the same time keeping a sharp watch for the reappearance of
Mr. Gibson. The third period proved conclusively that Yardley still
had much to learn about offense. Her attack in the middle of the
field was fairly strong and at times showed flashes of brilliancy,
but once past the thirty-yard line her play slowed up and all the
“punch” vanished. Forest Hill, although light, was remarkably quick and
decidedly “scrappy.” She had many defeats to atone for and when the
third period ended, like the previous ones, without a score against her
it was evident that she had come to the conclusion that here was the
opportunity to obtain vengeance. She started the fourth quarter with a
dash and vim that startled the spectators and staggered the Blue team.
Her back-field, working together beautifully, fooled Yardley time and
again and made short and steady gains until the ball was well down in
the Blue’s territory and Simms was imploring his men to “stop them!” It
was only the Blue’s secondary defense that stood between Forest Hill
and a score, for the Yardley line was too slow and played too high and
the Forest Hill backs sliced through it almost at will. Payson made two
changes when the ball was down on the Blue’s thirty-two yards, putting
in Jackson for Fales and Jensen for Stark. And later, just before the
end of the game, Best relieved Girard at center. The rest of the team,
however, played the contest through, and that without gaining much
credit. Yardley captured the ball on her twenty-five-yard line, worked
a double pass for a slight advance and then punted out of danger.

But Forest Hill came back desperately. Her quarter led a glorious
attack and what had been on the point of happening for two periods
finally happened. An on-side kick was recovered by a Forest Hill back,
Metz and Crandall each missed a tackle and the runner after tearing
off nearly twenty yards, was finally downed by Simms on the Blue’s
seventeen yards. The ball was well over toward the side of the field
when the two teams lined up again and a skin-tackle play gained two
yards and brought the pigskin nearer the center of the field. The
full-back trotted to the twenty-five-yard line and, although the angle
was severe, it seemed that a drop-kick might put the ball over. But
Forest Hill, smarting under many defeats, disdained a victory so simply
bought. The ball went back to the outstretched arms, but the full-back
didn’t kick. Instead he dashed off across the field, with the two
teams trailing after him, found a chance to turn in, eluded one player
after another while the Forest Hill supporters on the stand shrieked
their triumph, and, finally, dragging two Yardley players after him,
staggered and crawled across the goal line!

That touchdown spelled defeat for Yardley and even the staunchest
supporter of the Blue realized it. Even though Forest Hill failed at
the goal the lead was too big to overcome in the two or three minutes
that remained. But Yardley went desperately to work again. It was
agreed afterward that had she played during the first of the game as
she played then there would have been a different tale to tell. Using
every play he knew, Simms, when a lucky fumble gave Yardley the ball
after the kick-off, hurled his backs and tackles against the weakening
Forest Hill line. From their own forty yards to the enemy’s thirty-five
they went, gaining their distance at times by only an inch or two, but
always gaining it. And there, with the timekeeper proclaiming forty
seconds left, Kendall was sent back to the forty-five-yard line, while
the stand held its breath, took the ball breast-high from Best, dropped
it lightly to earth and sent it spinning as straight as an arrow over
the very center of the cross-bar!

Let us be thankful for small favors. Five to three was better than five
to naught, and Yardley cheered philosophically and rose up in the grand
stand and called Kendall blessed. And at the entrance The Duke, casting
one final glance up the hill, derived what satisfaction he might from
a plot well carried out.

Forest Hill, all smiles, hurried off with the captured football, and
Yardley, rather glum and very tuckered, wrapped her blankets about her
and trotted back to the gymnasium under the stigma of her first defeat.

Gerald and Harry were inclined to dejection, although Kendall’s
brilliant goal from the field was a mitigating ray in the surrounding
gloom of failure. But The Duke, with the fine bravado of one on the way
to the guillotine, refused to be downcast.

“Who cares?” he demanded. “What’s Forest Hill to us? She showed us we
weren’t as good as we thought we were and that ought to help. It’s
Broadwood’s scalp we want, fellows, and to-day’s little setback will
do us a lot of good. Besides,” he chuckled, “our friend Gibson is
returning empty-handed. Let us rejoice and make merry, O my comrades,
for to-morrow we die! At least, I do!”



CHAPTER XII

COTTON MEETS A FRIEND


Mr. William Gibson, of Broadwood Academy, really deserves no place in
this narrative, yet I hardly see how we can keep him out inasmuch as
his trip to Yardley that Saturday afternoon proved to be the first link
in a chain of events involving many of the principal actors in our
little drama. For if Gibson had not come to Yardley he would not have
been ignominiously imprisoned in the telephone booth, and if he had not
been shut up in the booth he would not have run across Charles Cotton,
and――but I am getting ahead of the story.

The practice of detailing players or coaches to attend games played
by a rival school or college in order to gain information that may
aid in defeating such rival is a questionable one, in spite of its
prevalence, and I have no intention of defending it. At the same time
I very much doubt if William Gibson――over at Broadwood they called
him Billy――considered that he was doing anything out of the way. I am
willing, even eager, to attribute the highest patriotic motives to
Mr. Gibson, up to the time he met Charles Cotton. For what happened
subsequently I offer no excuses. Even the most rabid patriotism will
not explain it.

Gibson had purposely attired himself to look as little like a
student as possible. That is, he had donned a derby hat instead of
the usual cap and a rather dressy light overcoat, hoping perhaps
to give the impression of being a young gentleman of mercantile
pursuits, say a youthful but promising bank clerk or a budding broker.
Unfortunately, Billy’s countenance and figure, once seen, were nearly
unforgettable. The countenance was heavy and pugnacious and the figure
broad-shouldered and massive, massive even for his eighteen years. He
had never actually attained a first choice position on the Broadwood
eleven, but he was a good player and an excellent substitute guard, and
he had more than once opposed Yardley during his football career. He
had taken pains to arrive early at the field and was in his seat before
the teams came on the field, and it is probable that his presence
would not have been discovered by the enemy had not Davis’s eyes gone
roaming over the Forest Hill contingent in search of an acquaintance.
Gibson saw that he was recognized; the hostile stares of the group
below told him that; and he was disappointed. However, there was no
help for it, and, as he was there, he might as well remain. Even if
Yardley failed to show any new tricks it was still possible to get a
line on her formations in attack and defense and get a general idea of
her ability. When The Duke summoned him to the telephone Gibson had no
suspicions. It was quite possible that the Broadwood coach had thought
of some feature of Yardley’s playing that he wanted information on.
He hesitated for a moment to show himself, thinking that perhaps his
presence might be resented. Then, realizing that he had already been
recognized and that to disregard the summons would look strange, he
answered it. It was only when, cooped up in the telephone booth, he
learned from the Greenburg operator that there was no record of any
call for him that it began to dawn upon him that he had been made the
victim of a hoax.

Very angrily he slammed up the receiver and pushed at the door. A
minute or so later his anger had visibly increased. It was too dark
in the booth to examine the latch with any hope of discovering the
trouble. There was nothing for it but to raise his voice in a demand
for release, which he did. Unfortunately, however, it is very doubtful
if there was a living soul from one end of Oxford Hall to the other.
Eventually, perhaps ten minutes after he had unsuspectingly entered the
booth, the plan of breaking open the door occurred to him. He tried it.
The telephone company, however, had caused that booth to be constructed
of exceedingly strong materials, and finally Gibson, very warm and
breathless, gave up the attempt. Next he considered breaking the glass.
There were several panes and he could take his choice. But while he
had not hesitated to try to force the lock or wreck a panel the idea
of breaking glass struck him as peculiarly destructive and he paused
to consider. And at about that time it occurred to him that a very
simple way of escape confronted him. He snatched down the receiver and
explained his predicament to a sympathetic Central.

“I will call up the Office,” said the operator.

But the Office was empty and no one answered her ring. So she tried
Clarke Hall and was successful. The telephone in Clarke was in the
study of Mr. Collins, the Assistant Principal. Ordinarily Mr. Collins
would have been out at this hour of the afternoon, but it so happened
that a slight cold had suggested to him the advisability of remaining
indoors and taking a nap. The imperative ringing of the telephone bell
put an end to the nap, and, some five minutes later, having discarded
dressing-gown and slippers in favor of outer clothing and shoes, Mr.
Collins, none too pleased with the necessity, strode down the corridor
of Oxford and liberated a strange, perspiring youth from his cell.
Gibson, failing in the dimness of the hall to recognize authority in
the slight, medium-sized person before him, immediately gave vent to
his wrath.

“Say, what kind of a fool thing is that?” he demanded. “I’ve been
suffocating in there for twenty minutes!”

Mr. Collins viewed him gravely.

“Wonder you wouldn’t have that latch fixed! It would have served you
right if I’d bust the glass out of it!”

“It pains me deeply to learn of your discomfort,” replied the Assistant
Principal dryly. “Perhaps if you had telephoned to Central at once you’d
have been released sooner. May I ask who you are and how you happen to
have been using the booth?”

Gibson, having now discovered that he was talking to neither a student
nor the janitor, changed his tune. “My name is Gibson. I――I came to see
the football game. A fellow sung out that I was wanted on the telephone
and showed me up here. When I asked the operator she said no one had
called me. Then I tried to get out and couldn’t.”

“Hm,” said Mr. Collins. “We have reported the matter to the company and
they have agreed to send up and fix that latch. As a matter of fact,
I presumed that they had done so. I am very sorry, Gibson. I don’t
understand, however, why the messenger should have deceived you. Some
mistake, doubtless.”

“He――he did it on purpose,” blurted Gibson, still too angry to be
discreet. Mr. Collins looked surprised. They had reached the steps and
now the Assistant Principal viewed the boy thoughtfully.

“Why?” he asked.

“I――I don’t know,” muttered Gibson. “It doesn’t matter, though. I――I’ll
be going. Thank you, sir.”

“One moment, please. You live in Greenburg?”

Gibson hesitated. Then, “No, sir, I――I’m at Broadwood. I just came over
to see the game.”

“Really?” Mr. Collins raised his brows. “Your Broadwood team doesn’t
play to-day, then?”

“Yes, sir, they play Nordham.”

“At home?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You, however, preferred to see this game, eh? I see. Now this boy who
brought you up here, Gibson; what was he like?”

Gibson, rather uncomfortable under the other’s sarcastic gaze, thought
a moment and at last gave a very excellent description of The Duke.
Mr. Collins nodded again. Then he smiled. It was a fleeting smile, but
Gibson saw it.

“He knew I’d get locked up in there,” he declared aggrievedly. “He
closed the door after me himself!”

“I find no difficulty in crediting that, Gibson,” replied Mr. Collins
gravely. “I think I know the young gentleman and I’ll have something to
say to him. Good-day, Gibson. I regret exceedingly that you have missed
seeing so much of the game. Perhaps, however, it is not yet entirely
over.”

But whether it was or wasn’t Gibson had no idea of returning to the
field. He remained on the steps a moment, watching Mr. Collins out of
sight around the corner of the old stone building, and then, thrusting
his hands into his pockets, set off with a frown down the drive. He had
almost reached the entrance gate at the foot of The Prospect when he
saw a boy walking rapidly toward him from the direction of the village.
Gibson wasn’t at all interested in the other pedestrian and gave him
no more than a thought. But when they drew abreast he glanced up
casually. Recognition was mutual.

“Hello, Cotton, what the dickens are you doing here?”

“Hello, Gibson! What are _you_ doing here?”

“Me? Just came over to see the game. Say, you aren’t at school here,
are you?”

Cotton nodded. “Yes, I entered this Fall. I don’t like it, though.”

Gibson grinned none too kindly. “You don’t like it anywhere very long,
do you? I thought someone said you were at school somewhere down South.”

“I was last year. But I’d rather be up North.”

“Gee, did _they_ fire you, too?” laughed Gibson.

Cotton colored. “No,” he answered shortly, “I didn’t like it. So I
didn’t go back.”

“They didn’t like you, you mean! How you getting on here?”

“All right,” replied Cotton, ignoring the statement in favor of the
question. “It’s a punk school, though. Not half as good as Broadwood.”

“Wonder you didn’t behave yourself when you were with us, then,” said
Gibson. “You’re a bit of a mutt, Cotton, I guess. Well, I must be
getting on. How far is it to Greenburg?”

“Oh, twenty minutes, maybe. Is the game over?”

“No, judging by the sounds it isn’t. I’ve had enough of it, though.
You’ve got a rotten team here this year, Cotton.”

“You bet we have!” assented the other eagerly. “That’s what I tell
them. You’ll lick the stuffing out of them, Gibson. Are you on the team
this year?”

“Me? Not exactly. I’m running Browne pretty hard, though. I may get on
next week. Why aren’t you at the game?”

“I had to get a letter off on the three o’clock mail and the only way
to do it was to take it to Greenburg. They only have two collections a
day up here. It’s a rotten place. I wanted to see the game, too. That’s
why I was hurrying back.”

“Well, don’t let me keep you.”

“Oh, that’s all right. They’ll get licked, anyway.”

Gibson, who had turned to go on, paused and observed Cotton attentively,
speculatively. “You don’t seem to love your team, Cotton,” he suggested.

“Oh, they’re a great bunch of snobs,” replied Cotton bitterly. “If you
haven’t got some sort of a drag you can’t get any show. It’s that way
with everything here. Now, at Broadwood――――”

“Your admiration for your dear old alma mater is touching,” sneered
Gibson. “I suppose you tried for the team and got chucked, eh?”

“I didn’t have any pull. They don’t care how well you play. If you
don’t know the fellows――――”

“Hm,” said Gibson thoughtfully. “Well, say, if you aren’t crazy to see
the end of the game, Cotton, why don’t you turn around and walk back to
Greenburg with me? I’ll treat to a soda, if you like, and we’ll have a
chin.”

“Sure! I don’t care about the game. It must be almost over now,
anyway. But what were you doing over here, Gibson?” Cotton frowned his
perplexity.

“Me? Oh, just watching.” Gibson winked slowly and meaningly.

“By Jove!” Cotton smiled delightedly. “That’s your game, eh? Did you
get anything?”

“Think I’d tell you if I did?” laughed Gibson, taking the other boy’s
arm.

“Oh, shucks!” said Cotton. “You can trust me, old man; you know that.”

“Well, come along and I’ll tell you about it.”



CHAPTER XIII

THE DUKE STARTS SOMETHING


The day after the Forest Hill defeat was warm and languid, more like
a November day. Gerald had gone to Sound View the evening before,
as was his custom when his father was at home, and Kendall, having
attended church in the forenoon and eaten a dinner at the training
table for which he had had little appetite, was at a loss how to spend
his afternoon. There were fellows whom he might look up and who would
doubtless be glad to see him, but somehow he didn’t feel very sociable.
For one thing, he had been through forty-eight minutes of hard play the
day before and felt lame and battered, although there were no scars
to show. Perhaps, too, the weather induced a feeling of apathy; it
was too warm. He wrote his Sunday letter, taking a good deal of time
over it, and managing to fill six pages. But after that was sealed and
addressed there seemed nothing left to do. Gerald had suggested that
he might come up after dinner and take him to ride in the automobile,
but evidently Gerald had changed his mind. The dormitory was quiet and
probably pretty well deserted, for it was no sort of a day to stay
indoors. Kendall finally reached that conclusion himself and, pulling
a cap on to the back of his head, he sauntered along the hall and down
the stairs and so out into the afternoon world, wincing now and then
when his sore muscles protested and dimly oppressed with the emptiness
of existence. Kendall’s condition of mind was, had he but known it,
no uncommon one for the football player the day after a hard game and
a defeat. One cares very little for bruises and weariness after a
victory, but a defeat takes all the glory from them.

There was a handful of fellows on the steps as he came out and he spoke
to them, but had no wish to join them. There were other groups in front
of Whitson and Oxford, and several boys were lolling on the grass
near the flag-pole on The Prospect. One or two had books, but it was
a noticeable fact that none was reading. Even the effort of holding a
book was too much on such a day. Kendall nodded now and then, refused
an invitation to join the group on the grass and skirted Oxford with
a dim idea of walking down to the river. But back of Merle he heard a
hail and, turning, saw The Duke waving to him across the yard. The
Duke was resplendent to-day. There was a suit of blue-gray flannel, a
vividly pink shirt, dark blue socks, tan shoes and a green tie. And
The Duke seemed in high feather. Kendall sat down on the step of Merle
and waited for the gorgeous one to join him. He had not seen The Duke
since shortly after the game the day before and now he wondered whether
that youth had got into difficulties over the affair of Mr. Gibson.
He certainly didn’t have the appearance of a fellow in trouble! One
would have thought, seeing him coming along the path, hands in pockets,
whistling cheerfully, that he hadn’t a care in the world.

“Greetings, O doughty warrior!” saluted The Duke.

“Hello,” replied Kendall apathetically. “Where’s the party?”

“Party? Oh, you refer to my chaste get-up.” The Duke viewed his apparel
approvingly. “Some togs, what?” He seated himself beside Kendall.
“There’s no party, Sir Knight. I have merely dressed myself according
to my mood. My mood to-day is one of triumph and joy. Where’s Gerald?”

“Home,” replied Kendall moodily.

“He’s a lucky chap to have a home around the corner. Be it never so
humble there’s no place like home. What’s the matter with you to-day?
Got the dumps?”

“N-no.”

“Meaning ye-es? Perk up! Observe the cerulean sky and the waving tree
tops, the bright sun and the――the――――”

“It’s a beast of a day.”

“_What?_ It’s a wonderful day! What do you want? Rain? Snow? Hail?
Well, if the things I’ve mentioned don’t cheer you, look at my shirt!
That ought to drive away any case of blues!”

“It looks sort of pink,” said Kendall, smiling with an effort.

“_Sort_ of pink! Sort of _pink_! Man alive, it’s the quintessence of
pink! It’s the pinkest thing that ever happened. That’s why I bought
it. Got it cheap, too. They’d had it in the store for years and years.
No one would buy it. No one had the courage to. But pink suits me, you
know. Goes well with my shell-tint complexion.”

“But why the green tie?”

“A happy conceit of mine own, O Youth of the Festive Toe! I am
impersonating a carnation. The dash of green represents the leaves. Get
me? Pretty thought, what?”

“Very. And the rest of the――the things? Blue socks――――”

“Contrast, dear boy, contrast! Also variety. Also gladness and joy and
triumph. Come on!” The Duke jumped up gayly.

“Where?” asked Kendall with no enthusiasm.

“Where? Anywhere! Who knows? Let us start out in search of adventure.
This is no day to mope and pine. I am consumed by a desire to start
something!”

“You started something yesterday, didn’t you? How did you come out? Did
Collins get after you?”

“Oh, that?” The Duke smiled carelessly and brushed an imaginary speck
from his sleeve. “That is too trifling to speak of.”

“What did he say?”

“Say? What was there he could say? I had merely to explain the
circumstances to him, Burtis. After all, he is reasonable――for a
faculty. Or mayhap I spoke convincingly. In any case”――The Duke waved
a hand magnificently――“we parted with sentiments of mutual respect and
esteem. If you will join me in a stroll toward yon purling stream I
will regale your ears with a brief narration of the event.”

“All right.” Kendall pulled himself up with a sigh and they moved on.

“We met by appointment,” continued The Duke gayly. “Collins made
the appointment. In his study. He suggested eight o’clock as a time
convenient to him and, as I am noted for my good nature, I agreed.
Also, as I have ever held punctuality to be the soul of wit or the
thief of time or the shortest way home or something――I forget the exact
quotation――I was there on the stroke.”

“I’ll bet you were!” agreed Kendall grimly. The Duke smiled.

“On the very dot, O Wisdom Personified. And then――we talked. At first
he did most of it. It seems”――The Duke interrupted the narrative to
chuckle――“it seems that our friend Gibson had the brilliant thought
to call up Central and tell his troubles. Central thereupon called up
Collins. I could speak harshly to Central about that, but as it has all
turned out satisfactorily I won’t. Well, Collins formed himself into a
rescue party and trailed over to Oxford. Having liberated our prisoner
they passed the time of day and in the course of the conversation Mr.
Gibson, let us hope inadvertently, gave a description of my physical
appearance and Collins, being a great friend of mine, recognized the
portrait, or thought he did. Hence the appointment. Of course I don’t
know just what those two said to each other, but I have a strong hunch
that Collins wormed out of Mr. Gibson the fact that he was a Broadwood
unfortunate and surmised the fact that he was, to put it courteously,
over here to rubber at our splendid team of football heroes.”

“What time is it?” asked Kendall.

“Time? I don’t know,” replied The Duke, fumbling at his watch-fob.
“Why? Got something on?”

“No, I was only thinking that if you didn’t get started pretty soon it
would be supper time.”

“Oh!” The Duke laughed. “You have a dry wit, my friend, a dry wit and a
ready. Well, to cut out the non-essentials and the rhetorical effects,
Burtis, Collins asked me if I had enticed Mr. Gibson to the ’phone. Of
course I ’lowed as how I had. Then he asked me why. ‘Because,’ quoth
I, ‘he was over here to spy on the team and Payson wanted to try out
some of the new plays for the Broadwood game.’ ‘But you told him that
he was wanted at the telephone,’ says Collins. ‘Wasn’t that a lie,
Wellington?’ ‘No, sir,’ I retorted, ‘not at all. We wanted him at the
telephone so he wouldn’t see what was going on at the field.’ Whereupon
Collins said ‘Um’ in two or three different tones, and looked kind
of funny at me. Of course I was looking as nearly like an innocent
little George Washington as I knew how. ‘But still, Wellington, hardly
truthful, eh?’ he asked. I considered. ‘Perhaps not strictly, sir,’ I
said, ‘but we had to do something, and what else was there?’ Well, I
had him stumped there! He opened his mouth a couple of times, but he
couldn’t answer. There _wasn’t_ anything else, was there? Of course
not. Collins saw it, too, after a minute, but he wouldn’t say so. He
hemmed a few hems and hawed a few haws and smiled in his funny dry
way. And finally he said, ‘Wellington, if you applied some of your
ingenuity to mastering your studies you’d be better off.’ I said, ‘Yes,
sir.’ Then he frowned and waved his hand, you know, like that. ‘You
may go,’ he said. And I thanked him and went. Only when I got to the
door he stopped me. ‘Mind you,’ said he, ‘you’re not to think that I
approve of what you did, Wellington, because I don’t. It smacks too
much of deceit. It would have been better had you gone to a telephone
and really called him up!’ ‘I never thought of that!’ I said. Then he
grinned a little, and I grinned and came out!”

Kendall laughed. “The next time we’d better consult Collins, I guess! I
suspect he was just as pleased as we were that Gibson got left.”

“Probably. Aside from being a member of faculty he’s fairly human.
Anyhow, I got off easy. Hence my mood of triumph. Let’s go for a
paddle.”

They had reached the boathouse. The porch and float were well sprinkled
with fellows and the river as far as they could see was dotted with
canoes and skiffs.

“I don’t know how to row,” Kendall demurred.

“Who wants to row? Can you paddle?”

“Less than I can row.”

“Well, you go as ballast then. I’ve got a canoe in here somewhere if it
hasn’t fallen to pieces. Haven’t been in it since Spring. Come on.”

Kendall followed the other into the boathouse and helped him lift a
battered green canvas canoe from the rack. When it was outside The
Duke viewed it dubiously. “Looks sort of leaky, doesn’t it?” he asked.
“Guess we’d better take a bailer along. Hi, Lin, got something I can
bail out with?”

Lin Johnson picked up a tin can from the bottom of the canoe he was
disembarking from and tossed it across. The Duke caught it deftly,
dropped it in the bottom of the green canoe and pushed the latter into
the water. In a minute they were afloat, Kendall facing The Duke from
the bow and watching rather enviously the skill with which the latter
managed a paddle from the blade of which a good two inches had been
splintered. They went up the little river, meeting other craft and
exchanging greetings. Once The Duke remarked laughingly:

“Funny how tickled everyone is to see me to-day. It pays to travel in
good company.”

“How do you mean?” asked Kendall innocently.

“Why, don’t you see how cordial the fellows are? That’s because you’re
here, O Mighty Warrior. If I were alone they’d just nod and say ‘’Lo,
Duke!’ Now they nearly fall out of their canoes being polite!”

“Nonsense!” said Kendall, blushing a little. “Why, lots of those
fellows we’ve passed hardly know me.”

“That’s only because you won’t let them. They’d all be tickled to death
to be in my place. Why, my stock will go up a hundred per cent this
afternoon!”

Kendall smiled doubtfully. “I guess they’d a good deal rather know you
than me,” he murmured.

“Think so, my Modest Violet? You miss your guess, then. I wonder if
you’re as innocent as you seem, Burtis.”

“Innocent?”

“Yes. You’re really a school hero, you know, but you don’t seem to be
on to the fact. You could put on all sorts of lugs and the fellows
would stand for it, but instead you hardly notice anyone and go around
looking as humble as――as a worm! Of course I’m not saying it isn’t a
clever scheme, because the less you seem to want to know fellows the
more anxious they’ll be to have you. Get me? And being modest is a good
game, too. Lots of fellows in your place would be swaggering all around
the shop, patronizing us lesser mortals. We’d stand for it all right
enough, but we’d resent it a bit, too, and if you ever came a cropper,
fell down in the big game, you know, or something of that sort, how
we’d jump on you! No, a fellow can have a swelled head and get by with
it if he’s making good, but you don’t love him any more for it. Your
way is much better, Burtis.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Kendall a trifle
indignantly. “I’m not a hero and don’t pretend to be. I don’t want to
be and I’m not trying to be!”

The Duke grinned. “Of course not. I understand. You’re not one of our
star players on the football team and you don’t win games for us by the
niftiest kicking that’s ever been seen in these parts. You seem to, but
you don’t. Appearances are against you.”

“You’re an idiot,” grunted Kendall.

“Oh, certainly!”

“Besides, it’s silly to say I don’t want to know fellows. I do. There
are lots of tip-top fellows I’d like awfully well to know, but I can’t
butt in the way――the way――――”

“The way I do,” suggested The Duke helpfully.

“The way some fellows do.”

“I really believe you mean it!” marveled The Duke. “Why, you poor
benighted heathen, don’t you realize that there’s hardly a fellow in
school who wouldn’t be proud to paddle you up and down the river all
the afternoon just for the glory of being seen with you?”

“No, I don’t,” replied Kendall shortly, “and neither do you. And I wish
you’d stop kidding me, Duke.” Kendall was looking red and embarrassed,
and The Duke, observing, took pity on him.

“All right,” he said soothingly. “You’re a mere worm after all, Burtis.
No one loves you. And when a fellow falls into the river trying to be
polite it’s just because he wants me to notice him. But will I? I will
not! They can drown before I’ll give them a glance!”

“You’re an awful idiot,” said Kendall smilingly.

“You said that before and so there must be something in it,” was the
cheerful response. “And now here is the island, and with your approval
I suggest we get out and find a nice warm spot and lie on our backs and
think great thoughts.”

So the canoe was pulled up on the little strip of beach at Flat Island
and the boys threw themselves down on the bank in the sunlight. It was
getting toward four o’clock and a slight chill was making itself felt.
But in the lee of the trees it was still comfortably warm. The Duke put
his hands under his head, cocked one foot over his knee and gazed up
into the peaceful blue sky. Kendall followed his example and for the
space of several minutes nothing was said. Finally, though, Kendall
broke the silence.

“Did you――did you really mean any of that stuff you said awhile ago in
the canoe, Duke?” he asked.

“What stuff?” asked the other drowsily.

“About――about fellows being willing to know me.”

“Of course I meant it. You, my shy and retiring friend, are one of our
notables. We’re proud of you because you play good football and won the
Broadwood game for us last year. And because you kept Forest Hill from
shutting us out yesterday. We’re proud of any fellow here who does what
he’s set to do and does it well, but when a fellow wins a game from
Broadwood for us we put our heads in the dust and say, ‘Walk on us, O
Conqueror!’”

“That sounds silly,” objected Kendall.

“Then it’s the way I say it. It really isn’t silly. Look here, didn’t
you want to run out and hug Dan Vinton last Spring when he hit out
that two-bagger that tied the Broadwood game? Weren’t you proud of
him? Didn’t you think he was about the finest thing that ever played
baseball?”

“You bet!”

“Well, there you are! You did the same thing, didn’t you, last Fall?
And you’re still doing it, aren’t you? That’s why you’re some pumpkins
here, old scout; why the Prep Class youngsters get in your way and
stare at you soulfully until you fall over them. Then they get together
and show the toe you stepped on and boast how much it hurts! That’s why
fellows try to be nice to you, even if you don’t see it, and why dozens
of them will be as sweet as candy to me for days because I know you
well enough to go paddling with you. And that’s why I’m here now. It
isn’t because I care a cent about you; you bore me to death, but I want
the other fellows to see me with you. Reflected glory. Get me?”

Kendall looked startledly at The Duke until the latter began to grin.
Then he smiled and looked relieved.

“I never thought of that,” he murmured. “I――I’m glad.”

“Well, don’t think of it too much, now,” cautioned The Duke. “Perhaps I
oughtn’t to have said anything about it. I guess the reason we all like
you so well is partly because you――because you’re so unconscious of it.
Don’t spoil it, Burtis.”

“I’ll try not to. I don’t more than half believe it, anyway, I guess,”
he answered shyly. “I’d like to think, though, that――that fellows did
like me a little.”

“You may, O Startled Fawn! And if you take my advice you’ll be a
trifle more――more――what’s the word?――responsive. It’s a good thing for
a fellow to have friends. It helps here and hereafter. If you go up
to college you’ll find that having friends there will make a lot of
difference. I’ve never been to college, but that’s what they tell me.
And in the meanwhile if there’s any little thing you’d like――a place on
the hockey team or the baseball nine or next year’s class presidency
or the presidency of your society――what are you, by the way? Oxford,
aren’t you?――just mention the fact quite casually. It’s a good time.
Maybe you won’t get all you want, but it’s a good plan to let fellows
know.”

“I don’t want a thing,” replied Kendall in an alarmed voice.

The Duke laughed. “All right; you needn’t get scared, though. I just
mentioned it. There’s Jensen and Jim Hough coming down the placid
stream. Just for fun, now, let’s see what they do when they catch sight
of us here. Would it be quite convenient for you to sit up?”

“What for?”

“So they can recognize your charming countenance, of course. It’s
dollars to doughnuts they’ll come ashore.”

“I’d rather not,” said Kendall hurriedly.

“Oh, all right. It isn’t necessary, anyhow. I guess they’ve seen you,
for they’re headed this way. And behind them come Perky Davis and
Whitehall. Know Whitehall?”

“I’ve met him. He’s the editor of the paper, isn’t he?”

“He is. Whitehall is our one best high-brow. He’s an awful bore, but
he’s a good-hearted chap for all that. Yes, here they come. Hello,
Jim! Come ashore and hear the birdies sing. Greetings, Jensen, you old
Dutchman. You fellows know Burtis, don’t you? Hello, Perky! Well, well,
if it isn’t our old friend Horace Greeley Whitehall! Wonders never
cease! Step ashore, Horace, and join the crowd! You’re just the fellow
I’ve been wanting to see. I’ve been telling Burtis that he ought to get
out and try for the _Scholiast_ next term.”

“Really?” asked Whitehall, turning eagerly to Kendall. “By Jove,
Burtis, I wish you would, you know! We need fellows of your kind on the
paper!”

“That’s what I tell him,” said The Duke mendaciously. “He hasn’t
decided about it yet, you know, but he’s terribly interested, aren’t
you, Burtis?”

“Why――why――why, I think it would be very nice,” stammered Kendall. “Do
you think I could do anything?”

“I don’t know who could if you couldn’t,” responded Whitehall.



CHAPTER XIV

KIRK EXACTS A PROMISE


Kendall returned to his room a half hour before supper time in a
condition of mental amazement. He had practically agreed to “go out”
for the _Scholiast_ after Christmas recess and had made the startling
discovery that an editorship on the school weekly was just what he
wanted! Whitehall had kindly and almost apologetically explained that
at first, “just for a while, you know,” Kendall would have to do
reporting so as to learn the ropes. But none of the group on the island
had seemed to doubt for a moment that Kendall would ultimately succeed
to the position of editor-in-chief! When he had spoken modestly of
his lack of experience the fellows had waved the thing aside as of no
consequence.

“That will be all right,” Davis had declared. “It won’t take you any
time to get the hang of it.” And there had been a most flattering
emphasis on the “you.”

Only Jim Hough had seemed unenthusiastic. Jim had expressed doubt
that a fellow could be on the _Scholiast_ and give the proper amount
of time and attention to football. Whereupon had ensued an argument
between Jim and Whitehall as to the comparative importance of football
and journalism, the latter making the absolutely absurd claim that
journalism was the greater pursuit of the two! In the end they had
appealed to Kendall for his opinion and he had put an end to the
dispute by smilingly suggesting that they allow him to defer judgment
until he knew more about journalism, a suggestion that seemed to
impress everyone with its marvelous wisdom. Or everyone save The
Duke. The Duke had grinned like the Cheshire cat all the time and had
more than once favored Kendall with a surreptitious and knowing wink,
thereby adding to Kendall’s embarrassment.

For it was embarrassing. To discover suddenly that instead of the
nonentity one supposes oneself to be one is in reality a public
character, a person of prominence, in short a quasi-hero, is bound
to be both embarrassing and disturbing. But once having had his eyes
opened, Kendall could not doubt that The Duke had spoken truly. He had
only to observe how attentively the others listened to what he said,
how eager they seemed to have him express opinions, how stoutly they
believed in his ability to make the _Scholiast_ and succeed at the
work. But it was pleasant, almost intoxicatingly pleasant, and Kendall
went back to Clarke Hall in a mood far different from that in which he
had left. The world no longer seemed dull or empty. It was, indeed, a
very wonderful world, filled with many likable people and teeming with
possibilities! Kendall’s feelings were reflected so plainly in his
countenance when he entered Number 28 that Gerald, who had unexpectedly
returned for supper and was entertaining George Kirk, viewed him in
surprise.

“Hello,” he exclaimed, “what’s happened to you, Kendall? Anybody left
you a fortune?”

“Not that I know of,” replied Kendall after greeting Kirk. “I――I’ve
been on the river with The Duke. We had a bully time.”

“With The Duke? What the dickens did you do?”

“Oh, nothing much. Just paddled up to the island and sat there. Some
fellows came along and we talked.”

“And that’s your idea of a bully time!” marveled Gerald. “George,
observe our young friend and take a lesson from him. Forget that
Broadwood beat you yesterday. Paddle on the river and cheer up!”

“Did they really beat us?” asked Kendall.

Kirk nodded gloomily. “They simply slaughtered us.”

“Don’t get him on the subject again, Kendall,” begged Gerald. “I found
him moping on the steps and brought him along to brighten him up. He’s
wailed and bewailed for half an hour and I can stand no more of it.
Let’s find a cheerful subject of conversation, such as supper.”

“I’m awfully sorry,” said Kendall sympathetically.

“Let it go at that, then,” said Gerald. “You’ll start him off again if
you aren’t careful. What lovely weather we’re having, George!”

Kirk laughed. “Well, we’ll get back at them in the Spring,” he said
hopefully. “I wish you’d try for the team, Burtis.”

“I don’t think I’d ever make a golfer,” replied Kendall. “You know I
tried last year, Kirk.”

“I know you did. And did mighty well, too. All you need is practice.
I wish you’d think it over. It’s so hard to get good fellows for the
team!”

“Maybe I will, if you want me to,” said Kendall. “I like golf very
much, only I don’t believe I’d ever become much of a player.”

“I think you would,” replied Kirk earnestly. “Any fellow who can do
as well in football as you’re doing, and has such a dandy sense of
directions and distance as you must have to kick those goals, ought to
make a good golfer.”

Kendall smiled, and, seeing the inquiring look on Kirk’s face,
explained. “I was thinking of something Ned Tooker said last year. Ned
said that a good football player couldn’t be a good golf player; that
the one spoiled him for the other; I forget just why.”

Kirk laughed. “Well, Ned was the best golfer we’ve ever had here, but
he didn’t know everything. And, besides, Ned was fond of saying things
just for the sound of them!”

“A common failing,” grieved Gerald as he splashed and gurgled at the
stand. “Alas, how”――gurgle――“few of us”――sniff! splash!――“consider the
sense”――sniff! sniff!――“of our utterances! Where’s that towel?”

“Then it’s a promise, is it, Burtis?” asked the golf captain eagerly.

“Why――er――yes, if you like. At least, I’ll give it a fair try, Kirk.”

“Good stuff! We’ll have some games together after the Broadwood game’s
over. Well, I’ll run along. ’Bye, Gerald.”

“’Bye,” answered Gerald from behind a towel. “Call again, Georgie.”

“Perhaps I will some day. By the way!” Kirk stopped at the door. “What
sort of a chap is that Cotton? I mean the fellow who rooms with The
Duke. All right, is he?”

“All right?” echoed Gerald. “I’d say he was pretty much all wrong.
There’s no harm in him, though, I guess. Ask Kendall. He’s a great chum
of Kendall’s. Thick as thieves, they are!”

“Oh, well, I guess he’s all right, then,” said Kirk. “I asked
because――――” He stopped, looked thoughtfully puzzled a moment and then,
nodding, went out.

“Wonder what Cotton’s done to him,” said Gerald cheerfully. “If I were
a punster I’d say it was evident Kirk doesn’t cotton to him. But I’m
not, and so I won’t. Did I hear you murmur your thanks?”

“Eh?” asked Kendall blankly.

“Well, where have you been? Still thinking of what a wonderful time you
had on the river?” Gerald seemed a little disgruntled over that.

“No, I was just――just thinking.”

What he had been thinking was that if he succeeded in making the
_Scholiast_ and the Golf Team, he would be a pretty busy chap the rest
of the year!

Just how the trick played on Gibson of Broadwood got out is not known.
Neither Gerald nor Kendall divulged it, and The Duke refused to own
to having spoken of the matter. But get out it did, for by Monday
the whole school knew about it and was laughing delightedly. Even the
_Scholiast_, most dignified of school publications, could not forebear
a fling and the next issue contained at the bottom of a page this brief
note:

“The Broadwood Academy Press announces for early publication ‘Personal
Recollections of Booth’; by Gibson.”

Football practice on Monday was hard and long. Several second string
players were temporarily promoted to the First Team, for a number of
the regulars were still showing the effects of Saturday’s game. Kendall
played two periods and then yielded his position to Fayette and was
sent off. On Tuesday, however, strains and bruises were healed and
the First Team lined up as on Saturday, with the exception that Adler
was in place of Metz at right end. Oliver Colton, a former Yardley
captain, arrived on Tuesday and stayed until the end of the week,
putting in three days of hard coaching. Under his tuition the guards
and tackles improved perceptibly. The first serious accident of the
season happened Wednesday, when Lin Johnson, center of the Second Team,
broke a shoulder blade and did it in such a messy way that there was
no question of any more football for him that season. Ireland, who
had been playing full-back on Hough’s team, took Johnson’s place,
but he didn’t make much of a center and the First, when it wanted a
gain through the middle of the opposing line, spoke of taking “a short
trip through Ireland.” But the Second struggled on gamely and, if it
was no longer able to score touchdowns on the First, sometimes got a
field-goal over.

The mass-meetings began Thursday night. Everyone piled into Assembly
Hall on the top floor of Oxford and listened to speeches by Mr. Payson
and Captain Merriwell and Mr. Bendix, Physical Director, and sang
the old songs and experimented with new ones, and cheered themselves
hoarse. The Banjo and Mandolin Club provided the music, assisted by
Perky Davis at the piano, and its efforts to master some of the tunes
offered by enthusiastic amateur composers occasioned much merriment
among the audience below the stage. Afterward Kendall, who had promised
himself an hour’s tussle with algebra that evening, went back alone
to Number 28, Gerald and Harry wandering off with Pete Girard to the
latter’s room in Dudley. To Kendall’s disgust, when he reached Number
28 he found the door ajar and Charles Cotton seated at the table
apparently deeply immersed in calculations with pencil and paper.
Kendall disguised his surprise and disappointment and greeted the
visitor politely if without overmuch enthusiasm. Cotton, however,
seemed to notice no lack of warmth.

“Just the fellow I wanted to see,” he announced, without rising from
Kendall’s chair. “Saw you at the meeting, but lost you outside. I want
you to see what you think of this scheme, Burtis.”

“What is it?” asked Kendall, tossing aside his cap and leaning over the
other’s shoulder. On the table lay a square of paper rudely scrawled
with circles and figures. “I’m not much good at puzzles, Cotton.”

“Oh, this isn’t a puzzle. It’s something new in football signals.”

“You don’t say? What’s the idea?”

“Well, look here. Have you got another chair? Bring it up, like a good
fellow. I’m awfully interested in this and I want you tell me what you
think of it. Now then,” he continued when Kendall had drawn a chair to
the table and seated himself, “here’s the idea. You know the signals
they use now are dreadfully complicated.”

“Are they?”

“Well, aren’t they? Take the Yardley system, for instance. We have two
sets of signals, like this.” Cotton indicated his diagram. “Here are
the holes numbered from 1 to 8. Then the two ends, the two tackles and
the four backs are numbered from 1 to 8. Now that’s confusing, isn’t
it?”

“I don’t see why,” Kendall objected, getting interested now. “We use
three numbers, the first a fake, the second indicating the runner, and
the third the hole. That’s not hard.”

“Then we have special plays numbered, too.”

“Yes, a special play is called by tacking its number on to 500 and when
Simms calls that he calls it right after the fake. You can’t get mixed
up there, can you?”

“N-no,” replied Cotton doubtfully. “I suppose not. Still――now suppose
left half was to take the ball through guard-tackle hole on the right.
How would you call that?”

“We haven’t any such play. If we had, though, Simms would give us, say,
22, 76, 36.”

Cotton studied his diagram. “That sounds harder than need be. Your
22 is your fake, your 76 is your runner, the second numeral of the
number indicating left half-back, and the 36 is the hole, the 6 meaning
between right guard and tackle. That’s it, isn’t it?”

“Of course.”

“Have I got the positions numbered right?”

“Not quite. You’ve got quarter numbered 7; should be 5.”

“That so? Well, you draw a diagram for me, will you? I’m a lobster at
it. Got another piece of paper?”

Kendall drew a pad toward him and quickly made a row of circles for the
forwards and added four more beneath for the backs. Then he numbered
the holes and the players. Cotton nodded approvingly.

“That’s fine and neat,” he commended. “Now suppose you were to punt,
Burtis; what would be the signal for that?”

“‘Burtis back; 24, 49, 16.’”

“Nine means kick, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, and the 16 means nothing. When you get to the 9 you know it is to
be a kick and pay no attention to anything afterwards. Same way with
special plays, Cotton. For instance, ‘75, 506, 102’ means that the play
is to Play Number 6. The 102 means nothing; it’s just tagged on to fill
out.”

“Well, that isn’t as complicated as it seemed at first,” owned Cotton.
“As long as I was on the team we used only hole numbers, you know, and
the quarter indicated the runner with his fingers on his hip.”

“Yes, the Second does that still, I think. It’s not a bad way if all
the backs can see the quarter’s fingers. What is this scheme of yours,
though?”

Cotton frowned a minute. Then he shook his head. “It doesn’t seem so
good now,” he confessed. “My plan was to use numbers for the holes
and letters for the players. It seemed to me it would be easier to
remember.”

“That’s not new,” smiled Kendall. “They used to use letters altogether
sometimes, I’ve heard. Used to take a word with ten or eleven letters,
no two the same, of course, and let a letter stand for the hole and the
player, too. I guess the number codes are better, though.”

“I suppose so, or they wouldn’t use them,” replied Cotton thoughtfully
folding up the paper. “Still, I think a fellow might figure out a
simpler scheme than the one we use.”

“Try it,” laughed Kendall. “If you hit on anything good I guess Payson
will be glad to use it.”

“I suppose the best thing about the number signals is that they can be
changed easily. Now I suppose these signals won’t be used in Saturday’s
game.”

“Yes, they will. But they’ll be changed for Broadwood.”

“I see.” Cotton absently dropped the sheet of paper in his pocket as he
stood up. “Well, I’m going to have another go at it, anyway. I’ll bet I
can beat this scheme. I hope I haven’t been in the way. Were you going
to do anything?”

“Only grind a little,” replied Kendall. “There’s plenty of time yet. So
long, Cotton. Let me know how you get on with that.” He nodded toward
the pocket in which lay the paper.

“I will.” Cotton patted his jacket as though he wasn’t at all sure
where he had placed the sheet, and nodded. “Good-night.”

Kendall, hunting his books, reflected that Cotton wasn’t so bad, after
all. Why, to-night he had been quite human! Of course, he shouldn’t
have taken possession of the room in the absence of the occupants.
There was an unwritten law at Yardley that if a fellow was not in,
you went no further than the threshold unless you happened to be a
particular friend and had permission to make yourself at home. However,
Cotton had behaved so amiably that Kendall was ready to forgive the
breach of manners. He had almost liked the fellow to-night!



CHAPTER XV

THE _NEWS_ PREDICTS DEFEAT


Gerald sat on the lowest step in front of Oxford. It was Friday morning
and a chilly, depressing gray fog was driving in from the Sound.
Somewhere in the distance a whistle buoy was moaning and at intervals
a steamer, creeping along off shore, bellowed hoarsely. It was twenty
minutes before first recitation hour and Gerald had the entrance to
himself. A copy of the morning’s Greenburg _News_ was held in front of
him, getting damper and limper every minute, and Gerald was perusing
the football column. The _News_ chronicled each day the progress of the
Yardley and Broadwood teams, and as the game between the rival schools
approached the _News_ devoted more and more space to them. To-day
the football specialist of the paper came out flat-footed with the
prediction that Broadwood would win the contest. The _News_ had of late
years shown a strong partiality to Yardley and this prediction troubled
Gerald the more for that reason.

“It’s some time,” said the _News_, “since the Green has defeated the
Blue and lots of people around here have begun to wonder whether she is
ever going to repeat. Even the longest road has its turning, though,
and the luck has to change some time. And it looks very much now as
if the change would take place a week from to-morrow when Broadwood
and Yardley meet in their fourteenth annual contest. In fact those who
have seen both teams in action don’t hesitate to hand the victory to
the Green right now. This may sound rash, but they have plenty of good
argument to support their verdict with.

“On the season’s showing Broadwood is undoubtedly ahead. She has met
teams equal to those Yardley has played and has survived every battle
without a defeat, whereas Yardley fell an easy victim to Forest Hill
last week. In total of points made, Broadwood leads her ancient rival
by 88 to 67, not a wide margin certainly, but sufficient to prove
Broadwood’s greater scoring power. Broadwood has been scored against
twice for a total of 8, Yardley as many times for a total of 10. Taking
the work of the two teams last Saturday as a basis of comparison, the
Green is still in the lead. She piled up a score of 11 points against
a worthy opponent and was scored on herself by a goal-from-field.
In the last two quarters Broadwood played solely on the defensive.
Meanwhile Yardley had the utmost difficulty to keep from being shut
out ignominiously by Forest Hill, a much weaker team than Nordham.
Forest Hill found the Yardley defense easy, and, especially in the
third period, did about as she wanted with it. She should have had at
least one more touchdown on the showing made. Yardley secured her three
points when play was almost over, the infallible Burtis toeing a very
pretty field-goal from the forty-five yards. It will be interesting to
see how Yardley performs against Nordham to-morrow, by the way, for
there is a strong sentiment on the hill in favor of beating Nordham at
any cost, in view of the defeat which the latter institution handed to
the Blue last year.

“But comparative scores don’t always tell the truth. Nor does a team’s
showing up to the moment of her final game mean very much. Many a team
has gone through an unfortunate season and then turned in and taken the
measure of its rival in fine style. Yardley, therefore, may surprise
us by showing a reversal of form to-morrow and piling up a bigger
score against Nordham than did Broadwood, in which case those who are
predicting a Broadwood victory a week from to-morrow would have cause
for thought. But there are other things to be considered besides
the season’s showing of the two teams and their comparative scores.
Broadwood looks better on the field and in action as well as on paper.
She has a hard-playing, powerful team which will outweigh Yardley
three or four pounds to the man at least. Her back-field will average
five pounds heavier. And, unlike heavy teams of previous years, this
season’s Broadwood aggregation is fast, fully as fast as Yardley’s.
With a dry field and no favor Broadwood’s team should be worth at least
one score more than Yardley’s.

“In style of play the rivals are much alike. Both depend largely
on line plays to gain ground, although Yardley, with Burtis in the
line-up, will naturally do a good deal of kicking. That phenomenon,
by the way, although practically a new man this season, has come at a
fast clip, and those who consider him only as a brilliant punter and
drop-kicker are in for a surprise. As a dodging back he has no equal
on his own team and will suffer but little by comparison with Captain
Raynor of Broadwood. The Green is ahead at present in the matter of
team-play. She seems to have got together earlier in the season than
usual, and both defense and offense are running smoothly. On the
whole, the Green has a big, powerful team this year, one at least
twenty-five per cent. better than that which suffered defeat last year
by the narrowest of margins. On the other hand, it can’t be said that
Yardley is a whit better off than she was last November; rather, it is
doubtful if she is as well off. She has had to build almost a whole new
team, having suffered badly by graduation, and so far whatever there
is in the team hasn’t shown to be dangerous. It may be that in the few
practice days remaining before the big show Coach Payson, who is one
of the cleverest men handling a school eleven to-day, will manage to
work a miracle. If he doesn’t we can’t see but what there will be cause
for rejoicing in the Broadwood camp at sunset of the 17th――a rejoicing
likely to be worth seeing because so long delayed.”

Gerald lowered the paper thoughtfully. “If you believe that,” he
murmured, “we’re beaten this minute. I guess Broadwood is pretty good
this year; everybody is saying so. I’d hate to have the school get
beaten my last year, though.” He shook his head. “I wonder if Payson
has anything up his sleeve. Kendall says he’s developing end run
plays to beat the band. Maybe that’s the answer. Broadwood can’t be
so terribly fast if she’s as heavy as this fellow says, and perhaps
Payson expects to work the ends and try field goals. Seems to me that
would be his best plan. There’s no denying that our back-field is weak
on line-plunging. They showed that Saturday.” He took up the paper
again. “Let’s see what the games are to-morrow. Yale plays Brown.
That’ll be a cinch. Harvard plays Cornell――――”

“What are you muttering about?” asked a voice. Gerald looked up to find
Harry beside him. “What are you trying to do, Gerald? Get rheumatism
and pneumonia and a few other things?”

“No, I’m doing this for my complexion,” replied Gerald with a grin.
“They say fog is great for the complexion.”

“Brr! I’d rather go without the complexion. Come on inside, unless
you’re doing penance out here.”

“Seen the _News_ this morning?” asked Gerald, as he followed the other
up the steps.

“No, anything in it?”

“A column or so about the teams. We’re going to get licked. It says so.”

Harry smiled untroubledly. “You’ll have to show me,” he said. “Why,
what does the paper know about it?”

“You’d think it knew everything about it to read it,” answered Gerald
sadly. “Who _is_ going to win, anyhow?”

“Little old Yardley,” replied Harry unhesitatingly. “Cheer up! You’re
full of fog. Isn’t this a peach of a day?”

“Fine!” They laid their books on a radiator near the entrance and
backed up to the warmth. “What are your reasons for thinking so?”

“Thinking what? Oh, about the game? Why, we always do win, don’t we?
What’s to keep us from doing it again?”

“The luck has to change,” answered the other unconsciously quoting the
_News_. “They say Broadwood has a dandy team this year.”

“Of course; she always has. But what of it? So have we.”

“The _News_ says we haven’t.”

Harry seized the paper and dropped it behind the radiator. “If you
wouldn’t read such stuff you wouldn’t be worried. They have to fill
the paper up with something, and they might as well say one thing as
another. How’s Kendall?”

“Blooming. Have you noticed anything about him the last three or four
days?”

“No, what? I haven’t seen very much of him.”

“Well, he seems――different, somehow. Has more――more assurance. Why,
I came across him yesterday talking with Perry Whitehall, as thick
as two thieves. And Wednesday he actually got into a discussion with
Simms about something and threshed it right out with him and made
Simms back down. Something about some formation in football. And he
looks different, too.” Gerald frowned thoughtfully at the bust of
Pallas across the corridor. “Looks as though he kind of thought more of
himself.”

“Well,” laughed Harry, “there’s no harm in that. But what about the
campaign? Do we make progress?”

“We surely do; but a whole lot depends on what Kendall does in the
next two games. If he will do a star act or two he can’t help getting
the captaincy. I’ve been sort of sleuthing around, Harry. None of the
fellows seem to have picked a candidate yet. There’s talk of Crandall,
but it’s only talk. What I’m wondering is whether it wouldn’t be a good
idea to casually suggest Kendall’s name to one or two of the football
bunch; just offhand, you know.”

“I suppose it would. Only the fellows mustn’t think we want him for
captain. It ought to be done mighty carefully.”

“Yes, and I guess it would be a good idea to wait until after
to-morrow’s game and see what happens then. If Kendall kicks a couple
of field goals or distinguishes himself any other way perhaps we won’t
have to say a word.”

“He won’t, though,” answered Harry. “Just because we want him to, he
will get hurt at the beginning of the game and have to be laid off. You
see if he doesn’t! That’s the way things happen.”

“Who’s full of fog now?” laughed Gerald. “You’re as pessimistic as an
owl. And you’re all wrong, too. Something tells me that we are going
to win to-morrow and that Kendall is going to make a blooming hero of
himself. Still, if he doesn’t it will be up to us to start the ball
rolling. We might each drop a hint, you know. Who do you know best on
the team? Charlie Merriwell?”

“No, Pete or Bert, I suppose.”

“Well, you go for Bert, then. You could just say something about it’s
being pretty near time to think about a new captain, and wonder who he
will be. Then you could say that you think Kendall would make a pretty
good one. See?”

“Ye-es. But, say, Gerald, have you thought how we’d feel if they did
make Kendall captain and he didn’t turn out to be the right fellow,
after all?”

“No, because he will be the right fellow. What’s the use of considering
things that aren’t so? Dan picked Kendall for the place, and Dan
knows.” The corridor was filling with students, and Gerald dropped his
voice. “I had a letter from him the other day, and he particularly
asked about Kendall. Come on, it’s nine o’clock.”

Harry groaned. “What do you suppose we have recitations for?” he asked.
“Life would be so much nicer without them!”



CHAPTER XVI

COTTON WRITES A LETTER


That afternoon the fog changed to a soft drizzle that puffed in from
the Sound on a southwest breeze and cast a pall of gloom and moisture
over the school. Luckily there was no outdoor practice scheduled, for
the field was soft and slippery and just in condition to produce a crop
of sprains and bruises. Instead, there was a solid two hours of signal
drill and talk in the gymnasium. The plays selected for the morrow
were drawn on the blackboard and explained again by the Coach, after
which the players were “quizzed” on each and afterwards were made to
go through them, first at a walk and then at a trot, until they went
off smoothly. Toward the last the lights had to be turned on, and
the players, their rubber soles patting the boards, moved back and
forth, two squads of them, with their foreshortened shadows dodging
and leaping about the floor with strange effect. The voices of Simms
and Holmes, the first high and sharp and the latter like an angry
growl, called the signals, the centers shot back the balls, the poised
players broke into seeming confusion, there was the sound of pattering
shoes on the floor, of hurried breathing, and then quiet again as the
teams reformed, quiet broken by the even voice of Coach Payson.

“Cousins, you started too soon. Wait until quarter turns. Your duty is
to make the play safe. If there had been a fumble you’d never have got
the ball. Try that again, please. And, Burtis, keep your head straight.
If you turn it you may give away the play. Remember that, everyone.
Don’t indicate by a look or movement where the ball is going or where
the attack is to be made. Same play, Simms.”

At the edge of the shadow cast by the running track a half-dozen
substitutes watched and awaited their turns. With them were Davis,
making interminable notes in his book, and Andy Ryan, the little
red-headed trainer, his sharp eyes following the players’ every
movement. Finally it was over, and the fellows trooped down the stairs
to the showers, the edict “Ten o’clock bed, fellows!” ringing in their
ears.

Meanwhile Gerald was leading a dozen or so scantily attired youths
over the cross-country course, plugging up the slippery hillsides and
splashing through puddles, with the rain soaking their running clothes
and squish-squashing in their spiked shoes, and all for the glory of
Yardley. And, although no one knew it, far out on the golf links, a
solitary figure in the rain-swept landscape, George Kirk was tramping
doggedly along in the wake of a wee white ball. The golfing days were
growing fewer and fewer and, although it would be a good six months
before he could lead his warriors against Broadwood again, he must miss
no chance to prepare for a victory. And this, too, was for the glory of
Yardley.

By supper time the drizzle had turned to a driving rain that beat
against the front windows of the halls and filled the walks with
unexpected puddles into which you walked unseeingly. It was what The
Duke, sprinting back from the library after supper――even The Duke had
to look up a reference occasionally――termed to himself “a dark, dank,
drooly nicht.” He reached the entrance to Clarke out of breath and
somewhat damp, but his spirits were not affected. It took more than
that to affect them. Even the fact that authority in the person of
one Edmund Gaddis, instructor in English, familiarly known as “Old
Tige,” had decreed that The Duke should hand in a theme before Saturday
noon, and that Saturday noon was less than seventeen hours away, cast
no spell of gloom over his gayety. When, having reached the head of
the first flight, he descried Adler coming along the corridor, he
immediately stationed himself against the newel post, clapped a hand
to an imaginary sword hilt and scowled silently at the approaching
figure. Adler, sighting his foe at the same moment, placed a quick hand
on his own weapon and, hugging the further wall, advanced cautiously,
with an insolent expression. No word was spoken. Eyeing each other
intently, haughtily, they met and passed. The weapons were not drawn.
Adler, circling at a safe distance, reached the stairs and, with a
last malevolent glare, which was met and returned, passed from sight.
Whereupon The Duke dropped his hand from his sword hilt and proceeded
upstairs, three steps at a time. Just why the two went through this
procedure they did not know, but they always did, wherever and whenever
they met. Doubtless it added spice to life.

Cotton was writing at the study table when The Duke flung open the
door of Number 47. At sight of his roommate Cotton quickly turned the
written sheet face downward and drew a blotter half over it, afterward
pretending to trace figures on the blotter with his pen. The Duke
observed him disgustedly.

“Oh, chuck the mystery, Cotton! I don’t want to see what you’re
writing. Every time anyone comes around you you hide something like a
silly conspirator. Why the dickens don’t you write something you aren’t
ashamed of, eh?”

“I’m not ashamed of anything I write,” replied Cotton with intense
dignity. “But I don’t want fellows to read my letters, do I?”

“You do not! Nor does anyone want to read your old letters. I’ll bet a
dollar and seven cents no one _could_ read ’em!”

The Duke had seized a towel and was vigorously mopping the rain from
his face and hair. Cotton scowled.

“If I couldn’t write better than you I――I’d use a typewriter!”

“Is that impossible?” scoffed The Duke, tossing the towel aside and
slicking his hair with a pair of military brushes. “Sweet youth, I
wouldst tell thee something an thou willst hearken. My name is Lester
S. Wellington, and the S stands for Spencerian. I, O Colossal Lump of
Ignorance, invented the art of writing!”

Cotton said “Humph!” in an unflattering tone and gathered up his
writing. The Duke, feeling better after his burst of confidence,
pulled a slip of crumpled paper from a pocket and smoothed it out.
It contained the notes written in the library. He had started for
his room with his mind made up to sit down at once and compose that
English theme. But now he viewed the notes distastefully. The virtuous
impulse was dying fast. Besides, how could a fellow do anything with
Cotton there? An English theme――especially to The Duke――was something
requiring ideal conditions of quiet and vast concentration. And it was
absolutely impossible to concentrate when Cotton was scratching his pen
or shuffling his feet at the other side of the table. Besides, there
was still to-morrow morning. He would arise early and do the theme
before chapel. One’s faculties are always at their best in the early
morning. The Duke slipped the notes between the pages of a blue book
and smiled relievedly. He even viewed his roommate with a forgiving
smile.

“Coming over to Oxford?” he asked.

“What for?” growled Cotton, not so ready to make up.

“Why, for the mass-meeting, O Flower of Chivalry!”

“What do I care about the mass-meeting?” inquired Cotton with a scowl.
“A lot of idiots howling and some more idiots making speeches! What
does it amount to?”

“Why, you unpatriotic sinner!” exclaimed The Duke. “I honestly believe
you’d rather see us beaten than not!”

“We’re going to be beaten, whether I want it or don’t. Besides,
there’ll be plenty of fellows there to make a noise without me.”

The Duke viewed him with deep disgust for a moment. Finally, “Cotton,
at times I experience a most frantic temptation to kick you out of the
window. Isn’t that strange? Can you explain it?”

“You’d better try it,” replied the other belligerently.

“No, I shall try to resist,” answered The Duke, shaking his head
gently. “You just say that so I’ll spoil a perfectly good window
and get in trouble. I don’t think that is very nice of you, Cotton.
In fact, I think it shows a mean spirit. No, when I do kick you, O
Delectable One, it will be through the door, with the door open.”

“You――you――――” began Cotton angrily.

“Don’t ask me!” interrupted The Duke, holding up a hand. “I’d like
to oblige you, Cotton, but I will _not_ kick you out the window. You
must try to be reasonable about it. Put yourself in my place, Cotton.
As much as I love you, O Joy of My Heart, I will not sacrifice a good
window merely to satisfy your selfish whim. No, no, Cotton, it must be
the door! You must be satisfied with the door. Not another word, I beg
of you! I am adamant!”

And The Duke, smiling sweetly but reprovingly, passed out, leaving
Cotton sputtering with indignation and rage. By the time The Duke’s
footsteps had died away in the corridor, however, his roommate’s wrath
had wasted to grumblings.

“Silly fool,” muttered Cotton. “Stuck-up idiot! Thinks he’s so beastly
clever, does he? Huh!” He caught sight of the paper The Duke had
slipped into the book, and he reached across the table and drew it out.
“Notes, eh?” he murmured. “For his theme, I guess. Well, he can go and
get some more, he’s so smart!” And very deliberately, grinning the
while, Cotton tore the sheet into tiny pieces and, opening the window,
let them flutter out. Then, chuckling, he returned to the table,
uncovered his letter, dipped his pen and began to write again:

    “And as near as I can find out they won’t learn the new signals
    until about Tuesday. I guess I can find out what they are. I’ll
    try anyway. If I do I’ll let you know right away. It looks like
    they’d get licked to-morrow, and I hope they do. Two or three
    of the fellows are overtrained, they say, but I don’t know if
    it’s really true. Look for a letter Wednesday or Thursday. Best
    regards.”

He didn’t sign his name. Folding the letter he slipped it into an
envelope and addressed it to “William Gibson, Esq., Broadwood Academy,
Greenburg, Ct.” Then, putting it into his pocket, he slipped quietly
down the stairs and across, through the rain, to the letterbox in front
of Oxford. Although there was no one in sight Cotton took no risks
of being seen, and the way in which he extracted the letter from his
pocket and slid it through the slot was a marvel of dexterity. Then, as
a sudden burst of cheering reached him from upstairs, he passed into
the hall and sought the meeting, just as, in spite of his declaration
to the contrary, he had intended to do all along.



CHAPTER XVII

A FUMBLE


The morning of the Nordham game dawned gray and cold and cheerless. The
rain still continued and water lay in pools along the drive and walks.
What the field would be like in the afternoon no one cared to predict.
There was talk of canceling the game, and rumors to the effect that
Andy Ryan had called on Mr. Bendix, the court of final appeal in such
cases, to ask him to declare the game off, were rife about the school
in the morning. It was explained that the trainer was afraid of injury
to the players on such a slippery field. Perhaps had there not been
such a desire to obtain revenge from Nordham for last year’s defeat the
contest might have been canceled. But it wasn’t. There was a conference
at eleven o’clock, attended by Mr. Payson, Mr. Bendix, Captain
Merriwell, Manager Davis and Andy Ryan, and during its progress the
school at large held its breath in painful suspense. When the result of
the conference was announced there was both relief and joy. In spite
of Andy’s advice, the game was to take place, the only alteration of
original plans consisting of a shortening of the playing periods from
fifteen minutes to twelve.

Yardley flocked to the field at two o’clock clad in raincoats and
rubber hats. The attendance from outside the school was naturally
small, although perhaps a hundred and fifty or two hundred townsfolk
came up to pick their way across the soggy grass under bobbing
umbrellas and view the game from the water-soaked seats. Nordham sent
over some twenty or thirty devoted supporters, who managed to make
a large amount of noise considering their number. Two First Class
fellows, detailed by Gerald on request of Mr. Manager Davis, stood at
the entrance and watched for the appearance of inquisitive Broadwood
gentlemen. None sought admission, however, which was fortunate, since
the guards would have been powerless to exclude them. Practice was cut
short to-day, and after one or two dashes about the field and a few
kicks of the wet ball the two teams retired to their respective sides
and the captains met to decide the choice of goals. It was raining
steadily, but not so hard as during the forenoon, and optimistic ones
predicted that the weather would clear before the game was finished.
The field was soft and slippery, and here and there held shallow pools
of water. In the stand, Gerald, seated between Harry and The Duke, was
retelling an old joke called to mind by the condition of the field.

“You fellows may have heard it,” he said. “It’s rather a classic.”

“Cut out the apologies,” begged The Duke. “They’re going to start in a
minute.”

“Well, once when Pennsylvania and Princeton used to play football
together――――”

“That must have been in the dark ages,” murmured Harry.

“――there was a Thanksgiving Day game in Philadelphia. It had snowed
during the night and when it came time to start the game it was
raining, and the field was covered with slush two or three inches deep.
The Princeton captain won the toss. ‘Do we have to play in this fluid?’
he asked bitterly. ‘Of course you do,’ they told him impatiently. ‘Come
on, now; you won the toss; which end do you want?’ The Princeton man
looked around over the waste of gray slush and shook his head. ‘Well,’
he said finally, ‘I guess we’ll kick with the tide.’”

“That’s what we’re going to do,” laughed Harry. “We’ve won the toss.”

Nordham was spreading out over her end of the field and Fales was
trying to make a tee with the soft mud. “I wonder,” said Gerald, “if
he wouldn’t like Kirk to drive off for him.” The whistle blew, Fales
stepped forward and the ball took flight. Nordham at once tested the
field, trying to get a back away around Adler’s end, but the attempt
was a failure. There was no such thing as quick starting to-day, and
the runner was tackled before he had reached his own line. Nordham
kicked then and the ball went to mid-field. Marion tried the center of
the Nordham line and netted two yards, Crandall slid off right tackle
for two more and Simms kicked. A red-stockinged Nordhamite caught the
pigskin near his twenty yards and dodged back to the thirty-five before
he was downed. Then came a forward pass that failed, followed by two
attempts at the right of the Yardley breastworks. The Red missed her
distance by a scant half-foot, and Yardley took the ball away. Kendall
secured three yards outside left tackle on a double pass, and made
three more through left guard. Simms ran back and passed to Cousins,
who was tackled where he caught. It was first down again. Crandall and
Kendall, alternating, worked the tackles for gains until the ball was
on the Reds’ twenty-six-yard line. There Simms fumbled the slippery
ball and a Nordham forward fell on it.

Nordham kicked on first down, getting off a fine long punt that went
over Simms’ head far down the field. The Nordham ends were on him by
the time he had secured the ball and Simms went down in the mud. An
exchange of punts secured five yards for Yardley and then Marion banged
through for twelve and laid the oval on the fifty-yard line. Another
attempt, however, failed of gain and Kendall fell back to punt. Girard
made a wretched pass and Kendall had to fall on the ball to save it.
With twenty-three yards to gain Simms sent Kendall back again as if to
kick and himself took the ball through the Nordham center for ten yards
and would have got away for the necessary distance had he not slipped
and fallen. Nordham tried a forward pass that netted fifteen yards
and then worked a delayed pass for five more, the entire Yardley team
being fooled on the play. The whistle blew with the ball in Nordham’s
possession on Yardley’s twenty-five yards.

So far neither team had shown much strength in attack and neither had
reached scoring distance of the opponent’s goal. In weight Nordham
was perceptibly lighter than Yardley, while her better speed was
handicapped by the slippery field.

In the second period Nordham ripped open the Blue line on two tries for
a first down, bringing the ball to the twenty yards. An end run was
spoiled and a fake kick with an attack on the center of the line netted
but two yards. Then Nordham’s full-back retired to the thirty-five
yards and the quarter knelt in front of him. The ball was almost in
front of the goal and it looked as though a score was to follow. But
the Blue forwards smashed through in time to spoil the place-kick, the
ball thumping against Girard’s upstretched arm and bounding away toward
the side of the field, where it was secured by Kendall.

From her twenty-eight yards the Blue began a series of plays directed
at the tackles that soon worked the ball past the middle of the field.
Stark, right tackle, was drawn back frequently, and Marion and the two
half-backs had their turns. The Red team was weakening, it seemed,
her secondary defense especially making poor work of stopping the
advance. On the stand the Yardley supporters were shouting lustily
for a touchdown, and it looked as though the Blue was well started
on a triumphant journey. With some three or four minutes of the
half remaining, and the Red line allowing gains at every attack, it
seemed that Yardley might well cross that last white line. But near
the thirty-five yards there was a mix-up on signals and Crandall was
thrown for a loss. Simms raged and stormed and Kendall took the ball
for a wide end run. Across the field he raced, protected by fair
interference, watching for a chance to turn in, and finally, just when
it seemed that his chance had come and he had a clear field between him
and the opposing quarter-back, an intrusive Nordham man dodged by the
interference and made a flying tackle that fairly lifted Kendall off
his feet and hurled him to earth.

Away bounded the pigskin. A Nordham player, foiled a moment before,
was in the path of the ball. Those who saw the incident declared that
the red-stockinged chap hardly had to stretch out his hands, that the
ball actually bounced into his arms! In any case, having got it, he
knew what to do. Off he went on a wild effort to cover the seventy-odd
yards between him and Yardley’s goal. Behind him the Yardley players,
aghast at the sudden turn of fortune, trailed in desperate pursuit.
Fayette led the pack, and for a time it seemed that he might reach the
runner before the last white streak was crossed. But twenty yards from
the goal Fayette gave out and was passed by Plant who, in turn, for a
moment raised Yardley hopes. But Plant was heavy, and the streak down
the field told on him before he could reach the Nordham runner, and the
latter staggered over the line, reeled behind a post and fell on top
of the ball in the very middle of the goal, subsequently turning calmly
over on his back and losing all interest in events for a minute.

The tackle that had dislodged the ball from Kendall’s grasp had been
a terrific one, and even the most disappointed spectator grudgingly
acknowledged that to have clung to a wet pigskin after such collision
with the ground would have been almost impossible. Breathless and
dazed, with his left arm filled with tearing pains, Kendall climbed
to his feet in time to see the Nordham runner settle into his stride.
Doggedly Kendall joined the pursuit, but a dozen steps was all he
could manage. Having by then reached a nice pool of water he sank down
into it, clasped his left wrist with the other hand and came so near
fainting that it almost turned him sick. For a moment no one noticed
his collapse. Then Pete Girard went to his assistance, somewhere a
whistle blew, and Andy Ryan, the water pail slopping beside him, raced
on. A big wet sponge was swashed over Kendall’s face and he opened his
eyes. Girard, kneeling across his thighs, was pumping his arms, and at
every moment the left one hurt excruciatingly. Kendall tried his best
to keep his lips tight, but in spite of him a moan got by, and Andy’s
eyes flashed hither and thither and his cunning fingers began a quick
search over the boy’s ribs.

“Where does it get you?” demanded Andy.

Kendall shook his head. Merriwell and some others had come up, and
Kendall could hear their hoarse breathing.

“Can you stand up?” demanded Andy suspiciously.

Kendall doubted it, but he nodded. “I――I’m――all right,” he whispered.
Girard and another lifted him, and again Kendall winced. Andy,
watching, pounced upon him again.

“Hold up, boys,” he said quietly. “Something’s wrong.” He felt of
Kendall’s collarbone, working clever fingers like lightning along the
back of his neck. “Hurt?” he asked. Kendall shook his head. Andy’s
fingers slid down along the left arm, his little green eyes watching
Kendall’s face sharply. The boy held his breath and gritted his teeth.
The awful fingers reached the wrist, closed――――

Kendall felt the blood ebbing away from his face, already pale, but
he returned the trainer’s gaze unflinchingly. Andy’s fingers stopped
kneading, lingered inquiringly at the wrist. Then his eyes left
Kendall’s and Kendall, following the trainer’s gaze, saw a white lump
on the back of his hand.

Andy grunted. “Come off,” he said.

“It’s nothing, Andy, really!” pleaded Kendall. “I――I don’t even feel
it!”

For answer Andy laid a compelling hand on his shoulder. “Sure, I know.
’Tis rather pleasant than otherwise, maybe. But just the same you’ll
come along with me, Burtis, me boy!”

Payson awaited them on the side-line. “Dislocated wrist,” announced
Andy.

“Sorry, Burtis. Fayette! Fayette! Right half, and hurry up!”

“I may go in again, mayn’t I, Andy?” begged Kendall as he lowered
himself to the bench.

“Maybe. I don’t know. Hold your arm out. One o’ you boys put your arms
around his chest. That’s it. Hold steady now.” Slowly Andy pulled at
the hand and pressed against the white lump. There was a squirmish,
gritting sort of jar as the bone fell into place again. “All right.
Hold it so a minute.” Andy reached into his bag for splints and bandage
just as a shout of satisfaction traveled across the field. Kendall,
glancing quickly toward the Yardley goal, saw the pigskin dropping to
earth beyond the farther upright. Nordham had failed at goal!

With quick hands Andy wound the bandage. The shooting pains had already
gone, but there was a dull, throbbing ache at the wrist, and Kendall
viewed the white-swathed member scowlingly. “I wonder――――” he began.

“What?” asked Andy as he tied the knot.

“I wonder if I hurt that before I dropped the ball, Andy.”

“Sure you did! You likely got it doubled under you when you went down.”

“Did I? That’s not so bad, then, is it? I mean there might be more
excuse for fumbling, mightn’t there?”

“No man on earth would have held the ball after getting that,”
responded the trainer, nodding at the hand. “Don’t bother your head
about it, son.” He fashioned a sling of a broad strip of gauze and
placed the arm in it so that the fingers lay over Kendall’s right
chest. “Keep it so. We’ll have the doctor see it later. Time’s up! Get
the blankets ready, boys!”



CHAPTER XVIII

KENDALL GOES BACK


Kendall, trotting awkwardly with one arm out of commission, followed
the team and substitutes up the hill to the gymnasium. Feeling sadly
out of it, he found a seat in a corner and watched the others. The
rubbers were busy as soon as the doors had swung shut, and the air was
already redolent of arnica and witch hazel. There was a rush of water
and a babel of voices. Andy was busy at his store of rubber anklets and
bandages. Fales had twisted his knee and Crandall had a cut over one
eye that gave him a particularly wicked and disreputable appearance.
Payson was talking with Captain Merriwell, the latter stretched at
full length on a table with a rubber massaging his back. Payson was
frowning intently as he talked. One by one the fellows came over to ask
Kendall about his injury. They all seemed really sorry; even Fayette,
who had profited by the other’s misfortune, expressed concern in tones
that sounded genuine! After awhile the coach began to talk and the
room quieted. What he said was not very different from what coaches
have said at such times from the beginning of football. He pointed out
mistakes and explained how to avoid them. There was no scolding. At the
end he said gravely:

“The school wants you to win to-day. Just keep that in mind. You’ve
been outplayed so far by a team that’s no better than you are; not
quite so good, I think. You’re no more handicapped than they are by
the wet field and wet ball. There’s no reason why you can’t make a
touchdown in each period, fellows. But you’ve got to do better than
you have done. You’ve got to play together and put more snap into
it. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what Nordham did to you last year. Or
perhaps you don’t care. If you don’t care, go on playing as you’ve
been playing. If you do care, go back there and show them how to play
football!”

On the way back Payson sought Kendall. “I’m sorry you got hurt,
Burtis,” he said kindly. “Take care of that wrist, though, and we’ll
have you playing next week. Andy says he will have you in shape by
then.” He nodded and moved ahead.

“Next week!” muttered Kendall. “That means I don’t get back to-day! I
could, though, if it wasn’t for this silly sling around my neck.” He
removed his hand and lowered it. It began to hurt as the blood flowed
down into it, and Kendall scowled. “Gee, but it’s mean luck! First
I went and fumbled the ball and they scored a touchdown, and then I
had to bust my wrist and can’t play any more!” He worked his fingers
experimentally. They hurt some, but he decided that he could manage to
hold a ball with them in spite of the splints if they’d only give him a
chance. He looked about for Andy Ryan as they trotted on to the field
to the long cheers of the stand. The trainer was busy, and Kendall
waited until he was for an instant alone. Then――

“Andy, you said I could go back,” he charged.

“Go back? Do you mean play football?”

Kendall nodded.

“I said that, did I?” Andy grinned. “Was I snoring at the time?”

“You know you weren’t,” answered Kendall indignantly. “And you did say
maybe I could――――”

“Maybe! Sure I said maybe, Burtis. But what would you be doing out
there with one arm in a sling――――”

“I don’t need to keep it in a sling, Andy!”

“You don’t, eh? Listen, son. Do you keep your hand where I put it and
take care of it. Then maybe you can play next week. If you don’t――――”

“Maybe!” gasped Kendall in dismay. “Is――is there any doubt of it?”

“There is,” replied Andy dryly. “All ready, men!”

Kendall, staring blankly before him, turned to find a seat on the
bench, and heard his name called. Gerald was leaning across the barrier
with an anxious countenance.

“What did you do?” he called. “Break anything?”

“Dislocated,” answered Kendall, tapping the bandaged wrist. He moved
nearer to Gerald. “They say I can’t play any more to-day, and――and――――”

“Of course you can’t,” agreed Gerald frowningly. “You’ve got to take
care of it. Isn’t it mean luck, Kendall?” One might have thought that
it was Gerald who had injured himself instead of Kendall. The latter
nodded gloomingly, waved his well hand and found a seat between Metz
and Jackson. Metz was not very cheerful company these days, since
he had but lately been deposed from right end in favor of Adler and
was not yet viewing the matter philosophically. Jackson, who was a
substitute guard, a big, raw-boned chap with lantern jaws and eyebrows
that met companionably above his nose, glanced at Kendall’s injury and
asked laconically:

“Broke, Burtis?”

“No, just a dislocation.”

“Too bad ’tain’t broke. They say breaks heal quicker’n dislocations.”

“My, but you’re a cheerful comforter,” muttered Kendall, as he turned
to watch the kick-off. Merriwell had elected to give that honor to
Nordham. There was no advantage attached to the possession of either
end of the field to-day, for there was no wind. The rain still
descended, but it was more like a heavy mist now. Nordham booted the
ball far down the field, and Simms got it near his own ten-yard line
and by a wonderful effort that brought the onlookers to their feet
carried it past mid-field. By that time the Yardley back had dodged and
fought his way past the entire Nordham team save its quarter and seemed
well on his way for a touchdown. Having outstripped his interference,
Simms ran directly at the Red’s quarter-back at full speed. But that
youth was not to be fooled. He approached Simms slowly and cautiously.
Just as the runner swerved to his left the red-legged player made a
diving plunge at Simms and brought him down, the two sliding through
mud and water for yards after the tackle.

Yardley hammered the center for small gain and then slid off the
tackles and made her distance. A fumble was recovered and an end run
lost ground. Simms tried a quarter-back kick, and Nordham got the ball
near her thirty yards. An exchange of punts gave no advantage to either
side, and Nordham tried the Yardley center and squeezed through for two
short gains. Crandall got the punt and trailed off twenty-odd yards
before he was pulled down. Yardley went back to her former tactics of
direct attack, plugging the guards and tackles and now and then trying
a wide end run. In this manner the ball was carried down to Nordham’s
twenty-three-yard line. Marion got through for three, Crandall made
five on a skin-tackle play, and the pigskin rested squarely on the
fifteen-yard line. There was a pause here, Simms and Merriwell holding
a consultation. Kendall guessed that they were discussing the chances
of making that needed two yards. To try a field goal then seemed absurd.

Finally Fales dropped out of the line and went back as though to kick,
and, although there were one or two cries of “Fake!” Nordham seemed
pretty well convinced that a try-at-goal was to be the play. She pulled
her wings in a little and made ready to break through. This left the
Yardley ends free and Kendall, noting the fact, wondered whether Simms
meant to chance a forward pass. The ball went back to Fales and the
big guard stepped forward and swung his long leg. The Nordham forwards
came crashing through with upstretched arms, leaping and stumbling.
Fales, however, had not kicked. With the nearest Nordham players almost
upon him he side-stepped and hurled the ball straight over the center
of the line toward where Cousins awaited it. There was an instant of
suspense, of wild scrambling on the part of the defenders, and then
the ball, aimed too high, went over Cousins’ head, struck an upright
of the goal and bounded back. A dozen bodies threw themselves after
it. But under the rules it went to Nordham for a touchback and a groan
of disappointment arose from the stand. Nordham kicked from behind her
goal line and Crandall made the catch on Yardley’s forty-three yards.
From there Yardley hammered out two yards and then the whistle blew for
the end of the third period.

As the players separated to don their blankets and change positions
Coach Payson strode over to Andy Ryan. Kendall, watching, saw the
trainer swing around and look at him. Payson’s gaze followed. Kendall’s
heart leaped into his throat. For a moment the two talked. Once Andy
shook his head slowly. Once he shrugged his shoulders. Then Payson was
calling.

“Burtis!”

Kendall sprang from the bench and hurried to the side-line.

“Do you think you can go in and kick if you have a chance?” asked the
coach hurriedly. “If you’re to go in at all I’ve got to put you in now.
You may tell Simms not to use you except for kicking.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Take your sling off,” said Andy, “but keep your arm up all you can.
And keep out of scrimmage, too.”

“Yes, you needn’t rough it up any, Burtis. All I want you to do is punt
when necessary, and if we get inside their thirty yards try a goal
unless Simms is pretty certain of making a touchdown. You tell him
that. Tell him he’s to use you only when necessary, and to try for a
field-goal inside their thirty yards unless he’s sure he can make it by
rushing. Send Fayette out. Go ahead!”

The teams were already forming at the farther end of the field as
Kendall sped on. A cheer burst forth from the stand, and then another
as Brinspool raced after Kendall to relieve Marion. Kendall made for
the referee.

“Right half,” he panted. “You’re off, Fayette. Let me have your
head-guard.” Then he drew Simms aside and whispered the instructions.
Captain Merriwell joined them and listened. Neither he nor Simms seemed
very well pleased.

“A goal from field won’t do much good,” muttered Simms. “We’ll have to
have two to even tie the game.”

“He’d better have left Fayette in,” said Merriwell. “Well――――”

“Ready, Yardley?”

“All ready, sir!” Simms trotted to his place. Brinspool snatched
Marion’s head-guard and sent that youth dejectedly off. The whistle
blew.



CHAPTER XIX

9-6


Nordham had made three changes, one in her line and two in her
back-field. With only twelve minutes left to play she was hoping to
stave off a Yardley score and when, on the second play, Brinspool
dropped the ball and she recovered it on her forty-yard line, she
kicked on first down and sent the pigskin twenty yards into the Blue’s
territory. Undismayed, Yardley took up the journey again. Nordham
put all her skill into defensive playing, and twice Yardley made
her distance on the third down only by inches. Then the middle line
was crossed. Crandall swung far around right end for a seven-yard
gain, and Brinspool banged his way through right guard for two more.
Plant was drawn back and made four yards off left tackle. Then Simms
concentrated the attack on the left of the Nordham line and found a
weak place at guard. But the Red’s secondary defense played fiercely
and stopped the runners almost as soon as they were through. Brinspool
had found his pace, however, and went through time and again for
two- and three-yard gains. Twice play was stopped while the distance was
measured, but each time the Blue had an inch or two to spare. Then the
thirty-yard line was reached and Kendall, who all this time had never
once been given the ball and had done no more than interfere for the
runner, observed Simms anxiously. But that youth was not ready to try
a field-goal yet. Plant and Brinspool hammered the left guard and slid
off the left tackle, Crandall made a slight gain on an end run, and the
twenty-yard line was under foot. But then Nordham, desperate, made a
stand. Crandall sliced through between right guard and tackle for two
yards and Brinspool made four straight through center. But with four to
go on the third down the prospect didn’t look encouraging. Merriwell
whispered to Simms and Simms nodded.

“Kick formation! Burtis back! Hold that line, fellows!”

Kendall trotted back to the thirty yards and the defense for the kicker
grouped in front. Whether he could catch the pass Kendall didn’t know.
That splinted hand seemed terribly awkward to him. But when the ball
came back, breast high, his hands closed upon it automatically, and he
stepped forward, dropped it, swung and sent it high and straight over
the bar!

A burst of cheering swept across the field, and Crandall was patting
him on the back. “One more like that, Kendall, and we’ll have ’em
tied!” he shouted.

Seven minutes remained as Nordham brought out the ball and lined up
for a scrimmage. Two tries netted her six yards, and then again she
punted. This time the ball went out at the fifty-five-yard line, and
there was no chance to run it back. Yardley started again toward the
Red’s goal with an end run by Simms that tore off twelve yards. Then
Crandall, taking the ball on a delayed pass, swung around the left
end of the Red’s line and secured nearly fifteen yards before he was
brought down from behind. In the tackle his knee was badly wrenched
and, although he got into the next play, his usefulness for that
day was at an end and Greene took his place. Payson also seized the
opportunity to relieve Girard and Captain Merriwell, Best and McKesson
going in. Plant plowed through for four and Greene made three. Kendall,
by this time forgetting his injured hand, was in every play, and it
was after Brinspool had staggered around right tackle for enough to
make the distance, with Kendall putting out the opposing end, that the
latter had cause to remember that left wrist. Brinspool, following him
closely, lurched against him as he staggered by, and the full weight
of the big fellow came against that injured arm. For an instant Kendall
wanted to crumple up on the soggy turf and forget everything. But he
didn’t, and the pain soon passed.

A fumble by Greene on the next play set them back five yards, Kendall
falling on the ball in a puddle just ahead of a frantic Nordham tackle.
Brinspool failed to gain at center, Plant got four yards through the
right side, and, with six to gain, Kendall punted. By this time the
ball was soaked through to the rubber and was pretty “dead,” and the
punt carried only thirty yards. The result was that the Nordham quarter
had to run forward for it, and just as he reached it the treacherous
ground took a hand in affairs. The pigskin went through his arms as
he recovered his stride, bounded along the wet turf, throwing a spray
behind it, and then rolled toward the side-line. Adler, who had been
put out of the running by a Nordham back, had got to his feet again
and was coming down fast. The other Yardley end, Cousins, had overrun.
Adler, without easing his pace, swung sharply toward the right,
slipped, recovered himself and dived a good ten feet for the ball just
as a Nordham half-back raced by. The two came together and the water
spouted as they rolled in the mud. But Adler had the ball, and it was
down on Nordham’s twenty-eight yards, and the Yardley supporters, who
had by this time abandoned the stand and were clustered deep along the
rope, set up a triumphant frenzied shout.

“Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!” they clamored.

Holmes raced on with waving hand. “Quarter, sir!” he called. “You’re
off, Simms!”

“Oh, get out of here!” snapped Simms.

“Payson’s orders,” answered Holmes.

“You’re delaying the game, Yardley,” came the warning. Simms looked at
Holmes indecisively. Then his head went down and he walked away.

“Now then, fellows,” called Holmes. “Get into it! You’re not playing!
Brace up, Stark, brace up! Let’s put this over in six plays, fellows!”

Brinspool got a yard and a half through center and Greene followed with
four yards past left tackle. Holmes darted through right guard for the
distance, squirming and fighting.

“First down!” The referee waved his arm to the linesmen.

“Line up quick!” roared Holmes. “Over with it! Let’s try their left,
fellows!”

And Holmes actually sent Greene against the left wing, but gained less
than a yard. Brinspool tried the other side and got past for four.

“Kick formation! Burtis back! Hold hard now!”

But the ball went to Holmes and he passed to Brinspool, and the big
full-back charged into the line like a steam engine and went through
with half the Nordham team hanging about him. There was an anxious
moment while the ball was hunted, but when it came to light it lay a
good two feet beyond the tenth yard. Only nine yards away was the goal
line. Across the trampled field the Yardley supporters were shouting
incessantly. Holmes raised an imploring hand and comparative quiet
fell. The Nordham captain was begging and scolding up and down his line:

“Now stop ’em, men! Don’t give ’em another foot! Throw ’em back! Into
it hard and _watch the ball_!”

Holmes barked his signals. Kendall dashed at the guard-tackle hole on
the left, Brinspool followed him, Greene darted across, took the ball
at a hand-pass and, followed by Holmes, squirmed between guard and
tackle on the other side for two yards. Seven yards to go!

“Kick formation! Burtis back! Now hold them, fellows!”

“_Block this kick!_” shouted the Nordham captain.

Holmes shouted his signals.

“Fake!” yelled the Red’s captain. “Watch it! Watch it!”

And a fake it was, the pigskin going to Plant, who had dropped back
of the line. The tackle swung to the left and darted at the opposite
tackle. But Nordham was there, and he went down as though he had run
against a wall.

“Get up! Get up!”

“That’s the way to hold ’em! We’ve got ’em now! They don’t dare to
kick!”

“Third down! Six to go!”

“Line up, fellows! You’ve got to put it over! Get down there, Best!
Kick formation! Burtis――――”

But Holmes paused, for Kendall was whispering to him.

“A field goal will only tie it, Holmes,” said Kendall eagerly. “They’re
looking for a kick. Let me try a run around the left end. Their ends
are away in. I can do it! Fake a kick, Holmes, and let me try it!”

For an instant Holmes hesitated. Then, with a flash in his eyes, “All
right! But I’ll get the dickens if we lose the ball, Burtis. You’ve got
to make it go, remember!”

“I will,” answered Kendall grimly.

“Kick formation! Burtis back! Do your best, fellows! Remember last
year!” Then came the signals and Kendall saw the sudden look of
surprise in Greene’s face as he shifted a few inches nearer the play.
Cousins edged out a step, the opposing end eyeing him doubtfully. Then
Best shot the ball back and Kendall, standing near the twenty-yard
line, caught it. Snuggling it close in his injured elbow, he darted
to the left. Then the field was in movement, the two teams racing
between him and the goal. Luckily the Yardley line had held firmly, and
in the second between his catching of the ball and the discovery of
the play by the opponents Kendall had gained three good strides. The
interference formed a moving wall between him and the pursuit as he
pounded across the slippery turf. The only thing he feared was to miss
his footing.

“In! In!” shrieked Holmes, sending a Nordham man sprawling, and
Kendall, swinging to the right, made for the goal-line. A red-sleeved
figure sprang in front of him, and Kendall’s right arm went out, there
was a shock and the red sleeves slipped from view. One more white line
passed under his feet. The air was filled with shouts. One of his own
men stumbled into his path and went down. Kendall sprang over him,
slipped, found his stride again, and looked into the wild, wide eyes of
the Nordham quarter. Out went the straight arm again, but the quarter
darted aside and sprang. His hands clutched at Kendall’s hips as the
latter pivoted. The quarter’s hands slid from the slippery, rain-soaked
canvas and closed like a vise about one leg. Kendall, gasping for
breath, struggled on, that dead weight sliding behind him. He had lost
all sense of location and had no idea how near to the goal-line he
was. His only thought was to go on and on, somehow, as long as they
would let him. Then a long red arm shot across his chest, a body banged
against him, and he fell to one knee, clutching the ball desperately
with both hands. He struggled to rise again, felt himself being pulled
backward, resisted to the limit of his strength, and finally squirmed
forward, burying his face in the cold, wet grass just as the whistle
shrilled.

Someone pulled him over onto his back and wrested the ball away from
him. For a moment, with closed eyes, he fought for breath. Then,
conscious of a numbing pain in one arm and of a sound that beat upon
his ears like breakers on a beach, he opened his eyes. The first thing
he saw was a shock of red hair, then something brown and dripping, and,
when the sponge was gone, leaving him gasping and half-blinded, a
white-painted post so near that he could have stretched out his arm and
touched it. Slowly his gaze traveled up the post until it found a bar
set at right angles with it. He smiled satisfiedly. “It’s――over, isn’t
it?” he asked weakly.

“A yard over,” answered Andy’s voice. “And now you’ll come off.”

“No, I must kick the goal,” Kendall demurred.

“Here, boys, get him out of this,” was Andy’s reply, and Kendall found
himself being lifted to his feet.

“All right,” he muttered. “I can walk. Let me go, you fellows.”

But when they let him go he staggered and reeled and Andy had to hold
him up. After that he went off to the bench quite docilely between two
substitutes, regarding the faces that forever got in his way, faces
with blazing eyes and wide-open mouths, through a haze of perplexity.
Somehow, there was a great deal of noise going on!

Presently, blanketed, his arm once more in a sling, he was leaning back
against the stand, quite satisfied with the world. From where he sat,
quite alone save for Andy, he could see only the backs of the crowd, a
crowd gone suddenly silent. He knew then that someone, probably Fales,
was preparing to try a goal, and would have got up and gone to see had
not Andy pushed him gently back into his seat.

“Be easy, can’t you?” he grumbled. “How do you think that wrist is
going to get well if you don’t take care of it? If I’d had my way you’d
never gone back there to-day. It’s a wonder you didn’t snap it out
again.”

“All right, Andy,” replied Kendall happily. “I just wanted to see if
we’d get the goal.”

“No matter if we do or we don’t,” said Andy, snapping his bag shut. “We
beat ’em anyway, don’t we?”

“Yes, but――but what _is_ the score?”

“Nine to six, and that’s good enough. How do you feel?”

“Oh, I’m all right, feeling fine. Nine to――――”

“No goal!” someone cried, and “No goal!” ran the verdict as the throng
broke up to follow the ball back to the center of the field.

“Who kicked?” asked Kendall, as Jensen, substitute tackle, came by
trailing his blanket in the mud.

“Fales. Missed it by only a foot, I guess. That was a great run,
Burtis.”

“Can you walk all right?” asked Andy. Kendall got to his feet and tried
it, finding that the dizziness was gone. “Then go on up before the
crowd starts,” directed the trainer. “Get your duds off and take a hot
tub. I’ll look after you when I come up.”

“Couldn’t I see the rest of the game?” begged Kendall.

“You could not,” answered Andy shortly. “Do as I tell you to do for
once. First thing you know them howling hyenas will be wanting to lug
you around on their shoulders and you’ll get hurt again. Off with you
now. Go slow, but keep going!”

“All right. Will you find my sweater for me?”

“I will. Get out!”

So Kendall, feeling rather as though he had had a skyscraper fall on
him and had been kicked by a mule, trudged out and up the path to
the gymnasium, the clamor of shouts and cheers and the piping of the
whistle lessening as he went. Halfway to the gymnasium, warned by a
sudden burst of triumphant cheering, he turned and looked back. They
were diving under the ropes and flooding onto the field. The game was
over. Kendall, smiling blissfully, hurried on.



CHAPTER XX

HARRY REMEMBERS


    “Broadwood had a little team,
       It couldn’t play at all,
     And ev’ry time it tried to pass
       It dropped the blooming ball!
     The ball, the ball, the ball, the ball,
       It dropped the blooming ball!

    “It tried to play with Yardley once,
       And, oh, it was a shame
     To see the way old Yardley went
       And took away that game!
     The game, the game, the game, the game,
       And took away the game!”

“Some range, what?” asked The Duke, slapping Harry Merrow on the
shoulder as they clattered up the last flight in Clarke. “Honestly,
I don’t see how grand opera’s got along all these years without me!
‘The game, the game, the game, the game; And took away the ga-a-me!’
Get that chord? Kind of bad, what? Sometimes I have to pity Caruso and
Scotti, old man.”

“Why, they don’t have to hear you, do they?” asked Harry innocently,
as The Duke flung open the portal of Number 47.

“Good thing for them they can’t! They’d swallow a couple of solos and
commit suicide. Sit down and be miserable. For once that Fido of mine
isn’t here.”

“That what?” asked Harry, mystified.

“Pardon me; I should have said fidus, fidus Achates. Get me? Honestly,
old man, I don’t know how I’m going to go on living with him. Here it
is only the middle of November, and I’m worn to a string. My health is
giving way under the strain. If I was only certain about one thing――――”

“What’s that?” asked the other, as The Duke paused thoughtfully.

“Whether he’s a skink or a bombyx. If I knew that I’d be able to get on
better.”

“What the dickens is a――a skink?”

“A skink? Well, it’s something like a grus, only not nearly so
intelligent.”

“You’re a silly chump,” laughed Harry.

“Worse than that, O Discerning One! I’m crazy, absolutely crazy! So
would you be if you had to live with Cotton. Look at that table! See
the mess! It’s always like that. I, personally, am naturally neat and
tidy, Merrow, but Cotton――well, see for yourself! He――he annoys me!”

“Things do look a bit messy,” acknowledged Harry.

“Messy! My word! Messy, say you? That’s no name for it. It takes half
my time keeping this place picked up. Well, let’s forget my troubles
and talk about yours.”

“I haven’t any, I guess. Except that Kilts is down on me just at
present and I’m having a bad time with math.”

“Well, you heard about me, didn’t you? Had a terrible falling-out
with Old Tige; he got quite――quite insulting Saturday. You see,
I――er――neglected to hand in a theme, and he said I’d have to do it
by Saturday noon. And I really meant to because, of course, he was
quite within his rights, you know. So Friday evening I went over to
the library and worked and worked and delved and delved in the――the
musty archives getting notes for one of the nicest little themes you
ever saw! Oh, I must have worked for ten or fifteen minutes! Armed
with my notes I returned here fully intending to sport my oak, as
we say in dear old England, and do that theme. But here was Cotton
scratching away with his old pen and shuffling his silly feet and
making noises in his throat. It was quite impossible to write a theme
under such circumstances. So I――well, I didn’t. Says I to myself, I
will arise betimes in the morning and do it. Which I did; that is,
fairly betimes. But where were my notes? I ask you, Merrow, as man to
man, where were my notes? Flown! Decamped! Utterly vanished! So, as
there was no time to get more notes, I started in to write a theme on
the simple little subject of Walter Scott. It was a――well, a hurried
effort, and as it turned out I got Sir Walter mixed up in my mind
with Thackeray. Result, disapproval on the part of Mr. Edmund Gaddis;
disapproval and hard words. I was patient with him, Merrow, but it was
difficult, for he said things no gentleman should say to another. We
parted――well, scarcely friends. And I’ve got two themes now hanging
over my head instead of one. And only until to-morrow evening to do
them.” The Duke sighed and shook his head. “But such is life!”

“Too bad,” murmured Harry sympathetically. “And the dickens of it is
that this is no time to push a fellow’s nose to the grindstone. No
fellow can do decent work just before the Broadwood game; it isn’t fair
to expect it.”

“I wish that silly game was over with,” said The Duke fervently.
“Honest, I get so excited and nervous and stirred up about it you’d
think I was going to play quarter-back. By the way, Duffey――he rooms
with Bert Simms, you know――Duffey says Bert is all up in the air over
the game; doesn’t sleep for calling signals all night, and can’t eat.”

Harry looked incredulous. “Why, I saw Simms this morning and talked to
him, and he seemed as untroubled as you please.”

“That so? Well, it’s only what I heard. How is Burtis’s arm getting on?
I haven’t seen him since Sunday.”

“All right. They’re having a leather cuff made that’s to fit right over
the wrist. I didn’t know a simple dislocation could be so bad.”

“What’s the difference between a dislocation and a sprain?” demanded
The Duke.

Harry shook his head. “I don’t know. I suppose that when you sprain
your ankle you just pull the tendons, don’t you, or the ligaments? And
when you dislocate it you throw the bone out of joint.”

“I’m glad we don’t have to take an exam in physiology right now,” said
The Duke.

“Yes, lucky for us,” laughed Harry. “They say the trouble with
Kendall’s wrist is that he’s likely to dislocate it again very easily
if he isn’t careful. Payson has let him off practice for the rest of
the week, Gerald says.”

“Good stuff! After the way he played Saturday they’d ought to let him
do as he pleases. I certainly thought they had us beaten there for a
while!”

“Me, too. What do you think about Broadwood? Think we have any show,
Duke?”

“If Payson plays the right sort of game, yes. If he keeps those heavy
beef-eaters eternally on the jump by hitting their ends we may tire
them out enough to get within kicking distance. When we do we want to
let Burtis do the rest, for we’ll never get a touchdown by straight
line-plunging. Did you see the score they rolled up on Forest Hill?”

Harry nodded. “Twenty-seven to six. Forest Hill scored, though.”

“On a forward pass that ought never to have worked. They can say what
they like about Broadwood being fast, and maybe they are fast for their
weight, but they can’t be fast enough to stand a running game very
long. Payson ought to send our backs around their ends, try forward
passes and all his bundle of tricks, Merrow. Just plain, old-fashioned
football won’t make a dent in that team!”

“That’s what I think. And they say he’s got a lot of good plays outside
tackles. But the trouble is that our own team isn’t so all-fired fast,
Duke.”

“It’s the slowest Yardley team I ever saw,” replied The Duke. “If
Payson doesn’t get some jump and ginger into it between now and
Saturday we’re goners.”

“And as this is Tuesday and there wasn’t much jump yesterday, I guess
we are!”

“Oh, you can’t tell by yesterday. Monday’s always a bad day. There
ought to be a difference by to-morrow, though. He’s got nothing to do
except put pep into them and teach the new signals, as I understand it.
I suppose they’re learning signals to-day, and that’s why practice is
secret, eh?”

“I suppose so. To-morrow’s is to be secret, too, I hear. The only time
we’ll see them in action again before the game will be Thursday. Oh,
well, we’ll hope for the best.”

“And fear the worst! By the way, I understand there’s talk of making
Burtis captain next year.”

“What?” exclaimed Harry. “Who says so?”

“Well, it seems to interest you! Why, I don’t know just where I heard
it; someone said something about it yesterday; said the players had
been talking about it since Saturday’s game. I suppose Burtis made
rather a hit with them Saturday.”

“He made a hit with all of us, I guess! It was mighty plucky to make
that touchdown with his wrist all banged up. I wish they would give
him the captaincy.”

“Well, I don’t know. Yes, I’d like him to have it if he wants it,
because I think he’s a mighty nice, straight sort. But whether he’s got
the stuff in him that leaders are made of――――”

“I know. I’ve wondered about that myself. And here’s what I’ve
concluded, Duke. I’ve concluded that Kendall Burtis is the sort of chap
who doesn’t show goods until they’re called for. I mean that while he
seems very quiet and easy-going and not especially brilliant, just put
responsibility on him and he sort of blazes up. See what I mean?”

“I get you, O Solomon! I guess you’re right, too. Look at Saturday. He
was the man of the hour then, wasn’t he? And, anyhow, he’s as promising
as any of the other fellows who are eligible. Goodness knows, Pete
Girard or Fales wouldn’t make a captain. Howard Crandall might do. It’s
too bad Holmes isn’t going to be with us another year.”

“Yes, he’d make a good one. Hello, I didn’t know you were interested in
postage stamps, Duke.” Harry had taken a yellow covered pamphlet from
the table and was reading the inscription on it: “Parkinson’s Bulletin
for November――Rare Stamps for Collectors.” “Stamps used to be a hobby
of mine. I’ve got a couple of thousand of them at home.”

“That isn’t mine, that’s Cotton’s. He gets more truck like that than
you can shake a stick at. He collects the foolish things, he says.
Got me cornered one night and babbled about ‘cancellations’ and
‘watermarks’ and ‘perforations’ until I had the earache. He says――――
Say what’s the matter with you? Feel ill, do you?”

“Wait!” replied Harry sharply. He was staring intently, scowlingly at
the window. Suddenly his face cleared and he gave a laugh of triumph.
“I’ve got him!” he cried. “I’ve got him!”

“Hooray! Who have you got?”

“Cotton!”

“You may keep him,” declared The Duke with enthusiasm. “And I don’t
care what you do with him!”

“Look here,” exclaimed Harry eagerly. “Do you remember some time ago my
saying I was certain sure I’d seen Cotton before somewhere?”

The Duke shook his head doubtfully. “I don’t remember. Maybe. Well?”

“I was positive I’d seen him, even talked to him. It bothered me a lot.
I used to stare at him in class and cudgel my brains about it, but I
couldn’t place him. But I was right all the time, and this gave me the
clue.” He tapped the stamp catalogue on his knee. “And when you said
he was a stamp collector it all came back to me like a flash.”

“Well, go on; where did you meet him?”

“Do you remember two years ago when some of the fellows went to
Broadwood one night and put a sign on the campus?”

“Sure!”

“Well, I don’t know whether you ever knew who the fellows were, but I
did. And one day I got a letter from a fellow named Charles Cotton, at
Broadwood――――”

The Duke whistled.

“――――asking me to exchange stamps with him; duplicates, you know. We
arranged a meeting in Greenburg, at Wallace’s, and we got together
there and chinned awhile. I think we made one or two swaps, but I don’t
remember for certain. Anyway, it turned out that what Cotton really
wanted was to find out the names of the fellows who had played the
trick on Broadwood. You remember how mad they were over there? Well,
Cotton had a stamp――it was a blue Cape of Good Hope――that I wanted
terribly. I offered him a lot of revenues for it――he was rather keen
on revenues――but he wouldn’t let go; wanted four or five dollars cash,
I think. Finally, though, he as much as said that if I’d tell him the
names of the fellows who had been at Broadwood that night he’d make me
a present of the stamp. But I got suspicious and finally went away. You
know they did learn who one of the fellows was.” Harry paused, darting
a doubtful glance at The Duke.

The latter nodded. “I remember. You had a grouch with Thompson and
squealed on him. If I’d been Thompson I’d have broken your neck.”

“I deserved it,” replied Harry. “I must have been an awful little brute
then. But I didn’t realize what I was doing, and I was good and sorry
for it afterward, Duke.”

The Duke nodded again. “We always are when it’s too late. But never
mind about that. You and Thompson made it up all right. So that was
Cotton, was it? By Jove, I can well believe it! It’s just the sort of
thing I could imagine him doing. If I wanted a piece of dirty work
done, Merrow, I’d ask Cotton to do it. That’s the way he’s impressed me
all along. And to think that I’ve got to have him on my hands the rest
of the year!”

“But why do you suppose he doesn’t own up to having been at Broadwood
two years ago?”

“Probably ashamed of it. Maybe he left under a cloud. It’s a fair wager
he did, too. I’m blessed if I’m going to have him in here with me,
Merrow. He will have to change his room. If he won’t, I’ll make it so
hot for him he won’t want to stay here! You don’t mind if I make use of
what you’ve told me?”

“N-no, I suppose not. I don’t want to make trouble for the fellow, of
course. As long as he behaves himself here――――”

“You don’t have to put up with him all day,” growled The Duke. “I can
be as charitable as the next chap, but charity begins at home, and I
don’t see why I’m required to room with a fellow like Cotton. I hate a
sneak, anyway!”

“Maybe I oughtn’t to have said anything,” doubted Harry, “but when it
came to me who he was I couldn’t help blurting it out. Funny I didn’t
remember him before. His face was so familiar all the time that it
worried me to death. I seemed to be always on the point of remembering,
but never did.”

“I’m going to find out why he left Broadwood,” said The Duke
resolutely. “I know a chap over there――Billy Deemer――I’ll write and
tell him to let me know.”

“Well, I wouldn’t tell it around,” said Harry. “After all, Cotton never
did anything to me.”

“He’s never done anything to me, either,” replied The Duke grimly,
“and I’m going to see that he never has a chance to! All I want is to
get him out of here. After that he can do as he pleases. I’ll write to
Billy this evening. Let’s get out of doors, Merrow. By Jove, do you
know it’s almost four? Let’s walk over to the gym and see the team come
in.”



CHAPTER XXI

KENDALL MAKES A SPEECH


Yardley was in the final throes of excitement, an excitement that
approached the border of hysteria as Saturday drew nearer and nearer.
Rumors of all kinds filled the air. Furniss, Broadwood’s clever
left-end, who, it was generally agreed, would cause more trouble to
Yardley’s end-running game than any other member of the rival team,
was down with mumps and wouldn’t be able to play. Furniss was not down
with mumps; at least, not that Furniss; it was a younger brother in
the Junior Class who was ill. Broadwood had gone all to pieces after
the Forest Hill game; had played too hard and was in the middle of an
awful slump. Broadwood had showed up better at practice on Wednesday
than any day all season. Simms was a nervous wreck and wouldn’t begin
the game Saturday. Simms never felt better in his life, and was as cool
as a cucumber. Burtis was out of the game, inflammation having set in
in his broken wrist. Burtis’s injury was doing finely and he would at
least start the game for Yardley. Stark was having trouble with the
Office and might not be allowed to play against Broadwood; his case
was to come up at faculty meeting Friday night. Stark was all square
with the faculty and anyone who said otherwise didn’t know what he was
talking about!

And so it went, one rumor crowding on the heels of another until it
took a good part of one’s time keeping up with the gossip! Tuesday’s
practice was held in secret and so was Wednesday’s. Most of the
time was devoted to familiarizing the team with the new signals and
smoothing out the plays to be used on Saturday. Those two days were
hard ones and everyone was kept on the jump every minute. The actual
scrimmage was short and often interrupted. On Wednesday night there was
a signal drill in the gymnasium. The doors were closed more as a matter
of habit than anything else, since it was a well understood thing that
none save the team, the coaches and trainer were to enter. Consequently
when, toward the end of the blackboard instruction, Manager Davis
suddenly sprinted across the floor and up the stairs to the running
track and spent ten minutes poking around in corners for spies he was
well laughed at.

“But I did see him,” protested Perky excitedly. “I saw his head right
up there at the curve of the balcony. Had some sort of a cap on and he
was peeking over the railing!”

“You imagined it,” said Merriwell. “Anyhow, if you did see someone
where the dickens did he get to?”

Davis couldn’t answer that, though, and finally he acknowledged that he
might have been mistaken; that since the Gibson affair he had had spies
on the brain, so to speak.

The Duke was in the throes of composition that evening, having at
last settled down to the writing of the themes, when Cotton, who had
disappeared a half-hour before with a vague mention of the library,
returned unostentatiously with a book. The Duke glanced up incuriously,
his mind on his work, favored Cotton with a brief and somewhat hostile
stare, and was in the act of returning his gaze to the paper before him
when a detail of the other’s attire caught his eye.

“Did you know you’d torn your coat there at the pocket?” he asked.

Cotton pulled his coat quickly around and looked at the rip.

“Yes, I――I did that this morning,” he answered carelessly. “I caught it
on a door knob.”

But The Duke was already immersed again in his labor, scowling at the
sheet and muttering as he wrote.

The next day the janitor found a small round window in an alcove off
the running-track in the gymnasium swinging open. Not having heard of
Davis’s hallucination, however, he merely fastened it again and thought
nothing of it.

The weather turned mild on Thursday, and when in the afternoon the team
held open practice and the school lined the ropes and cheered and sang
for a full half-hour, the warm sunlight and gentle southerly breeze
suggested baseball rather than football. Later the fellows crowded
about the front of the gymnasium and cheered some more, cheered every
member of the team individually, cheered Coach Payson and Andy Ryan
and Manager Davis and the two rubbers, and cheered long and loud and
repeatedly for “Yardley! _Yardley!_ YARDLEY!”

In the evening there was a grand mass-meeting, the supreme gathering
of the season, with the whole team seated about the platform and the
musical clubs grouped behind them, with Mr. Payson and Mr. Collins and
Mr. Bendix for guests of honor and Andy Ryan peeping out from a corner,
and with the President of the First Class, Mr. Gerald Pennimore, acting
as master of ceremonies. The Assembly Hall was filled long before the
hour set for the meeting. The audience was in high feather, and while
it waited for the proceedings to formally commence it sang and cheered
and stamped and indulged in mild “rough-house” to its heart’s content.

Promptly at seven-thirty the team and the musical clubs filed on to
the platform, followed by the head coach and the faculty members, and
Gerald held up a hand for silence. As the fellows were busily cheering
the players, Gerald had to stand there patiently several minutes before
he could make himself heard. Even then he had to wait while a cheer was
given “for Pennimore, fellows! And make it good!”

Gerald’s address was short and earnest. He asked for the loyal support
of the team, whether in victory or defeat, and introduced Mr. Collins.
The Assistant Principal, trim and smiling, said about what he usually
said on such occasions, was duly applauded, and yielded to Captain
Merriwell. Merriwell was very earnest, but, not being a fluent speaker,
made poor going and relied more on repetition than variety. However,
the spirit of his discourse met with enthusiastic approval, and after
he had returned to his seat it was some time before Coach Payson found
a chance to have his say. The coach started out in a rather jocular
mood and told two or three stories that set the audience shouting
with laughter. In the end, however, with a sudden change to gravity,
he said: “I’d like to be able this evening to assure you all that we
are going to win on Saturday, fellows, but I can’t. Frankly, to my mind
this year’s contest is more in doubt than any contest for two years.
I don’t know whether we’ll win or lose, fellows. Broadwood has a far
better team than she had last year. She’s farther advanced, is playing
together well and is powerful. In weight she has the better of us. So
far, her record beats ours. On the other hand, we have a team that has
not yet played as well as it is able to play――――”

A shout of approval broke forth.

“――――and a team that has strong possibilities. It isn’t a great team
to-day judged by Yardley standards, but it may be a great team on
Saturday. It’s a well-rounded team, a team of hard-working, willing
players, every one of whom is ready to do his utmost――and a little
more――for the school the day after to-morrow. And now it’s up to the
school to help the team, fellows. I want you all to believe in it, to
stand back of it, to encourage it by thought and action every minute
between now and the last whistle on Saturday. (Cheers.) We’re going
to play the game on foreign soil, so to speak, but whatever handicap
that proves to us can be offset by your support. During the game let
the team know that you’re there and right with them all the time. Don’t
cheer just to make a noise, and don’t cheer just to rattle the other
fellow, but cheer because you want your team to win and want to tell
them so. And don’t stop cheering if the luck goes against them. If
they find themselves losing they’ll play all the harder. Do the same,
fellows; if the team gets in a hole, cheer all the harder――until it’s
out!”

The applause was so loud and prolonged that the coach had to wait a
minute before he could go on.

“I guess that’s about all I have to say. I want to thank you all on
my behalf, just as Captain Merriwell has thanked you on behalf of
the team, for the way you’ve stood behind me all the season, just as
you’ve stood behind me so many seasons previous. It’s a great thing
for a coach to feel that the school has confidence in him. There are
always moments of discouragement, and at such moments the loyalty of
the school is what helps most. Saturday will show whether our team is a
great team or merely a good team, fellows. But whether we win or lose
it will still be _the_ team just the same!”

In the midst of the cheering that followed, the Banjo and Mandolin
Club started “Fighting for Old Yardley,” and the Glee Club took it up
and presently the whole hall was singing:

    “All together! Cheer on cheer!
       Now we’re charging down the field!
     See how Broadwood pales with fear,
       Knowing we will never yield!
     Wave on high your banner blue,
       Cheer for comrades staunch and true;
     We are here to die or do,
       Fighting for old Yardley!”

The second verse followed, and by this time the instruments were quite
drowned out by the voices that roared the words of the song. At the
end Gerald arose and, with upheld hand, smilingly begged silence.
When, finally, the appeal was heeded he called on Mr. Bendix, and
the Physical Instructor made a rather dry little speech, fortunately
as brief as dry. Then someone called “Simms! We want Simms!” and the
meeting took up the cry with laughter and approval. Simms, very red
of face, shook his head in grinning embarrassment, but the demand
increased, and Gerald went across and held out his hand to the
quarter. Simms, however, thrust his own hands in his pockets and shook
his head vehemently. The meeting laughed, but persisted. Gerald
was seen to bend down and speak to Simms, and at last the quarter
rather indignantly jumped up and strode to the front of the platform.
The shouts died suddenly, and a couple of hundred of smiling faces
confronted him.

“I can’t make a speech, and you fellows know it,” said Simms
accusingly. “But Pennimore says I’ve got to say something to shut you
up. So I’ll just say that if you make half as much noise Saturday when
you cheer as you have to-night ragging me we can’t help winning!”

Simms nodded and strode back to his chair, while the audience laughed
and cheered and stamped. Then someone demanded, “Andy! We want Andy
Ryan!” and eventually Andy had to stand up at the back of the platform
and make a bow. But the cries of, “Speech, Andy! Speech!” fell on deaf
ears. The Glee Club leader consulted with the leader of the Banjo and
Mandolin Club while the turmoil continued, and the musicians began to
pick at their instruments. But evidently the meeting was not yet ready
for songs. “We want more speeches!” declared a voice in front. “A-a-ay!
More speeches!” agreed the hall at large. Feet began to stamp in time
to the refrain: “Speeches, speeches, we want speeches! Speeches,
speeches, we want speeches!” Suddenly a voice at the left of the room,
and it sounded a lot like Harry Merrow’s, cried, “Burtis! Burtis! We
want Burtis!”

A howl of approval thundered forth. The clamor took on new strength.
“Burtis! Burtis! We want Burtis!” declared the assembly. Feet stamped
wildly, and fellows at the back of the hall stood up in order to shout
louder. Gerald turned and searched with his gaze for Kendall, who,
sitting in the second row, had slunk down behind the broad back of Pete
Girard. “Burtis! Burtis! We want Burtis!” clamored the throng. Finally
Jensen and Marion, who were seated on either side of Kendall, strove
to drag him to his feet. The audience applauded them. Girard arose
and dragged his chair away, revealing Kendall, red of face, striving
mightily to escape publicity. Gerald spoke to him, and Kendall got
up and bowed awkwardly and sank into his seat again. But the school
was not satisfied. “Speech, Burtis! We want a speech!” “Kick us a
speech, Burtis!” Kendall, smiling wanly, was seen shaking his head at
Gerald, who was bending over him and evidently trying to persuade him
to say something. The turmoil continued, gathering in volume rather
than diminishing. Gerald had Kendall by his well arm now, and was
pulling him out of the chair. Reluctantly Kendall allowed himself to
be conducted to the front of the platform. Gerald, smiling, waved his
hand and stepped back. The hall quieted quickly, and a most appalling
silence succeeded the tumult. Kendall, no longer blushing, but
white-cheeked from fright, began to speak. None, however, save those
in the front rows could hear him, although the hall was so still that
one might have heard a pin drop. Finally, “Louder, please!” called a
distant voice. “You’re misjudging the distance!” There was a laugh at
that and even Kendall smiled rather tremulously, and when he went on
his voice had gained strength.

“I’ve been saying that I never made a speech before,” he said, “and so
you’ll please excuse me now. I――I hope we will win the game, and I’m
sure we fellows on the team will do the best we know how. Thank you.”
He bowed and turned. At that moment a small Prep at the back of the
hall piped up:

“How’s your arm, Burtis?”

Kendall turned back, looked in the direction of the voice and replied
quite naturally: “Getting along nicely, thank you.”

A howl of delight and laughter arose as Kendall, blushing again now,
fairly scuttled to his seat and disappeared from sight, while a deep
voice down front was heard to proclaim, “Anyway, he doesn’t kick with
his arm!” At which the laughter increased.

The demand for more speeches began again, but Gerald sprang to the edge
of the platform and asked for a cheer for Yardley. It came with a will.
Then the players were cheered one after another, beginning with Captain
Merriwell and ending with the last substitute, and Coach Payson was
cheered, and Andy Ryan, and, finally, “The team, fellows! A long cheer,
and get into it!”

Afterward the music began, and they went through the half-dozen songs
selected for the game, finally ending up with “The Years Roll On,”
every fellow on his feet, many of them a little choky as they sang.
More cheers then, somewhat indiscriminate, a scraping of settees and
feet, and the meeting was over.

Gerald and Kendall met in the corridor and walked back to Clarke
together. In front of Oxford some fifty or sixty fellows were still
singing and cheering, declaring at intervals that “We want a parade! We
want a parade!” When Gerald and Kendall reached the steps of Clarke,
Mr. Collins was doing his best to persuade the throng that it wanted
nothing of the sort, that what it really wanted to do was to go to its
rooms and behave itself. From the fact that the singing gradually died
away it may be inferred that Mr. Collins was right.

“Why did you make me get up there and try to talk?” demanded Kendall
aggrievedly as the two climbed the stairs.

“Good practice,” replied Gerald imperturbably. “It’s a handy thing to
know how to make a speech.”

“I guess I’ll never have to make many,” returned Kendall.

Gerald smiled knowingly. “You never can tell,” he said.



CHAPTER XXII

TWO SHEETS OF BUFF PAPER


The warm weather continued on Friday. Between recitations The Prospect
and entrances of the halls swarmed with boys, all intent on the
discussion of just one subject, the morrow’s game. There was a wide
difference of opinion as to the outcome of it. Fellows who two weeks
ago had predicted a Yardley victory were now shaking their heads
gloomily and talking defeat, while others, erstwhile pessimists, were
now jubilantly prophesying a glorious triumph for the Blue. Perhaps
there was somewhere a fellow who managed to put the game out of his
thoughts and attend to his duty in the form of study, but if so he
wasn’t in evidence. Yardley frankly consigned lessons to the limbo of
things left undone, and the faculty wisely shut its eyes.

In the afternoon the Cross-Country Team trotted over the course for the
last time before the race, and the Football Team held what was expected
to be and what would ordinarily have been its final signal drill.
But to the surprise of the fellows who gathered in the gymnasium that
afternoon the coach announced that it had been decided to make a change
in the signal code. Payson said he regretted the necessity, but made no
explanation of the reason.

“I’ll make it as easy as possible, fellows,” he said. “There isn’t time
to learn thoroughly a new set of signals, and so we will change the
code by making the second number the fake instead of the first. That
is, the second digit of the first number will indicate the man, the
second number will be a fake, and the second digit of the third number
will indicate the hole. Thus 28, 76, 93 means that full-back carries
the ball for a plunge through guard-tackle hole on the left, the 76
being the fake number. In the same way, on a kick the signal will be
‘Kick formation, So-and-so back; 59, 107, 22, the first number, 59,
holding the kick digit, 9, and the other numbers being fillers. Just
remember that the first number indicates the player instead of the
second, that the second is the fake, and that the third indicates the
hole. Now, as to special plays. The key number has been any number over
500 for those, given as the second number in the signal. We’ll change
that, I think, and make the key number any number over 200 and have
it the first number in the series. Thus the signal for the delayed
forward pass to the left will be 217, 21, 175, the last two numbers
being merely fillers. You’ll have to study this, fellows, between now
and to-morrow afternoon, for there mustn’t be any mix-up on signals.
There’ll be another drill here this evening at eight o’clock. And
between now and then I want every one of you to plot out on a sheet
of paper one or more plays. Indicate each position with circles or
squares, label each one with letters, as ‘R. E.’ for right end, and so
on, trace the progress of the ball, show how the interference moves,
and underneath give the correct signals for the play. Also be sure
and sign your name in the upper right-hand corner of the sheet. Don’t
neglect this matter, if you please. I want to know that each one of you
is familiar with the signals. Bring the papers here this evening and
hand them to Mr. Davis. All right now; let’s see those plays!”

There was much speculation and not a little dissatisfaction among the
fellows after the drill was over. Simms especially was bitter and
sarcastic, but Simms’s nerves were pretty taut just then and he may be
excused some show of annoyance.

“Just when we get the signals down pat he goes and changes them,” said
Simms in the locker room later. “And what for, I’d like to know?
Putting the fake number in the middle is a fool piece of business, I
think.”

Captain Merriwell, to whom Simms addressed his remarks, was
noncommital. “I suppose Payson has a good reason for it,” he replied.
“It isn’t likely he’d do it unless he had, Bert. You can bet he doesn’t
want to risk a mix-up on signals to-morrow unless it’s absolutely
necessary.”

“Well, the only reason for changing signals at the last hour that I
can think of,” muttered Simms, “is that the other fellow has got on to
them; and I don’t believe that!”

“I think he will explain this evening or to-morrow,” said Merriwell
soothingly. “Meanwhile we’ve got to make the best of it and learn the
new signals.”

“That’s well enough for you,” replied Simms bitterly. “You haven’t got
to have the whole thing at the end of your tongue to-morrow. If I make
a mistake I’ll get blamed for it.”

“Then don’t make any mistakes,” answered Merriwell quietly.

Simms stared at him a moment, outraged, and finally said, “Humph!” and
relapsed into silence.

But Coach Payson didn’t explain that evening, or ever; at least, not
to the team at large. After the evening’s session, however, he and
Merriwell and Davis went over to the captain’s room, and there the
only member of the trio who was in ignorance of the reason for the
eleventh-hour change, Manager Davis, was enlightened.

“Now,” said Payson, when they were seated, “let’s see those papers,
Davis.”

One by one he looked them over, comparing each with a much-creased
sheet of buff paper which he extracted from his bill-book and laid
beside him. Davis looked on curiously. Now and then Payson paused as
he turned the papers over and glanced doubtfully at the buff sheet.
Finally, when he had reached almost the bottom of the pile, he said
“Hm!” very softly. A second sheet of buff paper was in front of him
and he was studying it attentively. Presently, as though satisfied, he
handed it to Captain Merriwell, following it with the creased sheet.
The latter had been folded several times and was soiled, as though it
had passed through many hands. Merriwell, frowning, compared one sheet
with the other. Finally he nodded.

“I can’t believe, though, that he’d do a thing like that, sir,” said
Merriwell troubledly.

“I can scarcely believe it myself,” replied the coach, “but there is
the evidence. Show them to Davis. Davis, should you say that those two
diagrams had been made by the same person?”

“Certainly,” replied the manager after a brief survey of them. “There
can’t be any doubt of that, can there?” He looked at the name written
in the corner of the fresher sheet. “But when did Burtis do this other
one, sir?”

“That’s what we don’t know. Have you got that letter there, Merriwell?”

For reply Merriwell opened a drawer in the table, searched a moment and
then handed a folded sheet of writing paper across to Perky. The latter
opened it and read as follows:

    “MR. CHARLES MERRIWELL,
      “Yardley Hall School,
        “Wissining, Ct.

    “Dear Sir:

    “There’s been a leak over at your place and some dirty work
    over here. The enclosed sheet, which, as I understand it,
    is supposed to be an explanation of your signals to be used
    Saturday, has just come into my hands. I’m sending it to you
    thinking that perhaps you will be able to find the sneak who
    sent it. We had nothing to do with it here. The fellow who
    obtained it did so without authorization on his own hook. I’m
    sorry about it, but I guess the only thing for you to do is
    to change your signals for the game. Let me know whether this
    reaches you. I don’t think it has been seen by more than three
    or four people here, including the fellow who received it,
    our coach, and myself, and we haven’t made any study of it.
    Nevertheless, you’d better protect yourself by changing your
    signals before the game. We’ll look after the fellow at this
    end, and I hope you’ll find the traitor at your end and give
    him what he deserves. You fellows can’t say we haven’t always
    played fair and you mustn’t blame us for this business. I hope
    we’ll have a good day for the game and a dandy contest.

                             “Yours truly,
                                              “WILLIAM L. RAYNOR.”

Davis laid down the letter and stared in bewilderment.

“Merriwell got that this morning,” said the coach. “We decided that
the best way to trace the authorship of that document was to get all
the players to make similar diagrams. There’s one peculiar thing about
that first paper, Davis. You’ll notice that Burtis――supposing he did
it, and I can’t see any reason to doubt it――labeled the positions with
small letters. See what I mean? He has written, or, rather, printed,
‘l. h. b.’ in what printers call lower case, instead of ‘L. H. B.’ in
capitals. Now, if you look through all the diagrams submitted to-night,
and every fellow handed one in, you’ll find that Burtis is the only
one who does that. Then, too, there is the evidence of the paper. Both
sheets apparently were torn from the same block. The paper is the same,
a deep buff in color. There’s one other paper there that is buff――I
think it’s Brinspool’s――but it is lighter. Now, two and two usually
make four, Davis.”

“Yes, but――but why should he do it? Why, the fellows were talking of
him for captain!”

“Too bad! It’s beyond me; I can’t see any motive. The only explanation
I can think of is that some Broadwood fellow got hold of him and fooled
him. I’m not willing to think that Burtis did this realizing what it
meant. It――it’s absolutely contrary to my conception of the boy’s
character, Davis.”

“It was Gibson!” declared Perky. “I’ll bet you anything it was that
fellow Gibson! You remember the day he came over to spy on us? We
fooled him then, and so he got back at us. But I didn’t know Burtis
knew him.”

“It’s a funny affair,” said Merriwell thoughtfully. “Anyway, there’s no
use raising a fuss until after the game. We’re in a bad enough fix as
it is. We’ve got to work like the very dickens to win to-morrow, and if
we let this thing get out the team will be upset, probably, and we’ll
get licked as sure as shooting. You aren’t going to say anything to him
about it now, are you, sir?”

“No, I think not. Better let him alone. I don’t believe he is morally
guilty, fellows. And we need him to-morrow if we ever did.”

“There’s one thing that puzzles me,” observed Davis. “It doesn’t seem
as if the writing was in the same hand as the printing.”

“Yes, I noticed that. But very often a man writes differently with a
pen than with a pencil. Besides, you can’t very well compare printing
with writing. Anyway, whoever did it managed to give a very pretty
exposure of our signal code. They’ve even got two special plays down
there.”

“It’s a rotten piece of business,” exclaimed Davis. “And I’ll bet
you anything that chap Gibson is at the bottom of it. Look here, Mr.
Payson, suppose you let me have a talk with Burtis. Maybe I could find
out about it without letting him know.”

But Payson shook his head and Merriwell dissented with a frown.

“Better not,” said the coach. “Wait until after the game. There’s
enough to contend with now, Davis; don’t let us have any more upsets.
We’ll let Burtis play his game to-morrow, giving him the benefit of
the doubt, and ask an explanation later. It’s a good thing we are all
agreed that he isn’t really guilty, fellows, for if we weren’t we’d
have no right to let him play; and if he didn’t play”――Payson shrugged
his broad shoulders――“we’d be in a hole, to say the least. Merriwell,
you keep this truck until it’s wanted. Put it away somewhere where it
won’t be seen. Great Scott, I wish this hadn’t happened!”

“So do I,” muttered Merriwell.

“Will the fellows know the new signals all right, sir?” asked Davis
anxiously.

“I think so. The change is slight. You see, I’m taking Raynor’s word
for it that they haven’t tried to profit by that document. If I
thought they had I’d have changed the whole code over; made a new set
of signals right through. As it is, I’ve only altered them enough to
safeguard us. Well, I must be off. Get to bed, Merriwell, and try to
forget the whole thing. After all, we’re no worse off than we were, or
but very little. I must drop in on Simms a minute. He’s the one who is
probably having fits. Good night. Good night, Davis. Not a word about
this!”

“Not a word, sir. Good night.”

“Look here, Charlie,” said Perky, after the door had closed behind the
coach, “I just don’t believe he did it!”

“Burtis?” Merriwell shrugged his shoulders wearily. “There’s the
evidence.” He nodded at the littered table.

“Then he was fooled; someone got at him! He――he isn’t that sort, and
you know it. Look here, they can’t make him captain with this thing
hanging over his head, Charlie!”

“I don’t think he had a show anyway, Perky. Crandall’s the man for the
job. I shall propose Crandall.”

“We-ell, yes, Howard’s all right, but――――”

“But what?”

“Well, there are a lot of the fellows want Burtis,” replied Perky
frankly. “It’s too bad.”

“Oh, never mind about who’s the next captain,” exclaimed Merriwell
crossly. “What we’ve got to do now is to win to-morrow’s game! Good
night!”



CHAPTER XXIII

“NO GOAL!”


At last! The day of the game!

Many a boy awoke that morning to blink sleepily for a moment and then,
full consciousness sweeping upon him, to experience a sudden tightening
at the heart and a resultant shortness of breath. The moment he had
been looking forward to for fifty-odd days was at hand! The greatest
event of the school year was rushing toward him! It was enough to
make any fellow feel a bit queer, a bit scared, too, for that matter.
By evening he would be either triumphant and proud and happy or
sickeningly disappointed, with the feeling that everything had dropped
away from under him! So much depended on those short two hours of the
afternoon!

The morning had a keen nip to it. The warm spell had taken its
departure. The sky was blue, with an occasional slowly sailing cloud,
and the sun was warm in sheltered places. But there was a frosty tang
in the air, and Winter seemed just over the hills, ready at a moment’s
notice to pounce down upon the Autumn world. A light breeze came out of
the northwest and forbade loitering in shaded places. It was an ideal
day for the game, with a dry field assured and small favor to either
end of it.

In the forenoon Yardley got her first taste of victory, Gerald’s
Cross-Country Team simply running away from Broadwood and winning 22
to 83. Yardley finished five men ahead of the first Broadwood runner,
and then brought her sixth man in in eighth place and her seventh in
ninth. Harry finished in fourth position, two minutes behind Gerald,
who easily led the field all the way and trotted over the line smiling
and seemingly fresh after his three-mile journey.

Later there was an early dinner in commons, and at a little past
one o’clock the boys began to depart for Broadwood. Every sort of
conveyance that the town of Greenburg afforded was on hand. Gerald
piled his big automobile full of friends: Harry and The Duke and Lin
Johnson, still in bandages, and others we haven’t met. The First
Team journeyed to the scene of the game in a long barge drawn by
three horses, and the Second Team had chartered a similar vehicle and
followed close behind, in a cloud of dust and a holiday mood. The game
was to begin at two-fifteen, and by half after one Yardley presented
the appearance of a deserted village. I doubt if there remained behind
more than three or four of the faculty and “Mr. McCarthy,” the janitor.

For details regarding the two teams which lined up against each other
that afternoon we can do no better than consult the Greenport _News_.
Here, then, is what the _News_ published:


HOW BIG PREP SCHOOLS WILL LINE UP TO-DAY

    YARDLEY                                               BROADWOOD

      Player      Age Height Weight  Weight Height Age      Player
 Cousins, l.e.     19  5.10    161     165   5.11   20  r.e., Thurston
 Plant, l.t.       18  5.10    174     193   5.08   19  r.t., Scott
 Fales, l.g.       18  5.11    176     191   6.00   19  r.g., Browne
 Girard, c.        19  5.10    189     151   5.08   19  c., O’Brien
 Merriwell, r.g.   19  5.08    162     174   5.10   18  l.g., Smith
 Stark, r.t.       17  5.11    176     185   5.11   20  l.t., Peebles
 Adler, r.e.       16  5.07    153     167   5.09   17  l.e., Furniss
 Simms, q.b.       18  5.08    152     157   5.09   17  q.b., Saunders
 Crandall, l.h.b.  17  5.09    163     167   5.10   18  r.h.b., Reid
 Burtis, r.h.b.    16  5.08    153     159   5.09   17  l.h.b., Raynor
 Marion, f.b.      18  5.10    172     173   5.11   18  f.b., Gordon

 Average weight of line, 170 lbs.        Average weight of line 175-1/7 lbs.
 Average weight of back field, 160 lbs.  Average weight of back field, 164 lbs.
 Average weight of team, 166-5/11 lbs.   Average weight of team, 171-1/11 lbs.
    Officials――A. D. Stone, Brown, Referee; Chas. Parent, Princeton, Umpire;
        H. I. Morris, Yale, Linesman.
    Time――15 minute quarters.

By two o’clock Yardley had taken possession of its section of the small
stand and was overflowing all along the ropes on the west side of the
field. Blue flags, white lettered, were abundant. Across the gridiron
Broadwood massed her cohorts and waved her green banners. Fathers and
mothers, sisters and brothers, aunts and cousins, faculty and townsfolk
were present in numbers, while Old Boys of both schools swaggered
about, patronizing, resplendent. The cheering began when the two teams
trotted on from opposite corners, and it continued with only brief
pauses until the final whistle sounded.

Broadwood won the toss and chose the north goal, Yardley kicking off
to Saunders on his ten-yard line. The Green’s quarter ran back to the
thirty-eight yards before he was smothered. The same player immediately
fumbled, and Plant fell on the ball after it had rolled to Broadwood’s
forty-seven yards. Two plays gained little, the Green line showing
wonderful defensive powers, and Kendall kicked to Broadwood’s five-yard
line. Saunders caught and ran back seven yards before he was downed. A
Broadwood back fumbled, but the Green recovered the ball just inside
the goal-line. Yardley was cheering like a band of wild Indians. A
plunge at the line netted two yards, and then Reid kicked from behind
his line, the ball going to Crandall in mid-field. Yardley was set back
fifteen yards for holding on the first play. A forward pass went wrong
and Kendall punted to Broadwood’s twenty yards, the ball going out.
Broadwood got started then, and after three tries secured her first
down of the game. The Yardley line showed weakness at the left of
center. The Green worked a fake kick for twelve yards around Cousins’
end and followed it with two plunges at Fales which netted another
first down. Fales braced then and Broadwood’s heavy full-back was
pushed back for a loss. Saunders punted and Simms caught on Yardley’s
thirty-two yards and was thrown in his tracks.

Yardley opened up with her end plays and Crandall and Kendall reeled
off enough around Furniss to make her distance. Simms tried a forward
pass again, and Adler got the ball for a small gain. A fumble by Simms,
and the pigskin rolled ten yards back before Crandall recovered. Stark
was caught holding, and Yardley was again put back fifteen yards. A try
at right end failed, and Simms kicked from position, Cousins recovering
for Yardley on his fifty-yard line. Two tries at tackle netted eight
yards, and Kendall failed to make the distance through the left of
center. Broadwood hammered the Blue line for short gains, and worked
to Yardley’s thirty-five yards. A penalty for off-side set her back, a
skin-tackle play put her on the Blue’s twenty-eight yards, and Saunders
tried a goal from placement. The kick went short.

Yardley kicked off and Raynor caught and reeled off fifteen yards
before he was thrown. Time was called, the Broadwood captain having
been hurt in the tackle. Broadwood now made a desperate assault on her
enemy’s defenses and twice made her distance. Fales and Plant were
both playing high. Broadwood was caught using her hands and set back.
Saunders punted, and Simms caught on his fifty-yard line and ran back
twelve yards before he was thrown. The Broadwood line held firm, and
after two tries at it Simms ran around his right end and made his
distance. Marion went straight through center for six, but failed to
gain on a second attempt in the same place. Kendall tried a wide run
around his own left, but was thrown for a loss and the pigskin went to
Broadwood. Concentrating on Yardley’s left wing the Green made eight
yards in two tries. Fales was taken out, and Jackson went in. Gordon,
of Broadwood, stole four yards around Stark, and the quarter ended.

So far Broadwood had shown better defensive power than her rival, and
Yardley had exhibited a rather more varied attack. Simms was running
the team too slowly, however, and seemed at times uncertain of his
signals, although he had made no mistakes.

The second quarter opened with the ball in Broadwood’s possession near
the center of the field. Two plays gained little, and Broadwood put in
a substitute for Gordon. On the first play the ball went back to the
new full-back, and the latter reeled off twenty-three yards through a
broken field before he was finally run off at Yardley’s twenty-seven
yards. After the ball was brought in Broadwood twice tried Plant and
gained only four yards. Reid again tried a place kick, but Yardley’s
forwards broke through and the ball bounded from Merriwell’s head and
rolled to the forty yards, where Saunders fell on it for the Green.
Broadwood now began to rip through the Yardley line between tackles and
soon had the pigskin back within scoring distance. Girard was weakening
fast, and on the eighteen yards Best was sent in for him. Broadwood’s
backs were proving wonderful ground-gainers. Faking another try-at-goal
from placement, the Green’s quarter took the ball for a run around his
own left end. Kendall brought him down after a three-yard gain. With
the ball on Yardley’s twelve yards Broadwood concentrated on Merriwell
and made seven yards in two tries, a quick double-pass play being
difficult to fathom for Yardley. With the pigskin on the five-yard mark
and three to go on third down, with Broadwood thundering for a score
and Yardley’s cheerers imploring the Blue to “Hold ’em! Hold ’em!” a
touchdown seemed inevitable. The Green’s full-back took the ball and
plunged at the guard-tackle hole on the right. For an instant the Blue
yielded, but the secondary defense piled in to the rescue and when the
whistle blew and the pile-up was untangled Broadwood had failed of her
distance by six inches.

Kendall fell back between his goal-posts and got off a wonderful punt
of fifty yards that Saunders found difficult to handle. The ball got
away from him and rolled up the field, and by the time he had fallen
on it on his fifty-yard line both Yardley ends were pinning him to the
ground. Broadwood took up her journey again, but lost fifteen yards
for holding, and finally punted from the Blue’s forty-five yards.
The ball went over the line and Yardley put it in scrimmage on her
twenty-five yards. End runs gained twice, and a forward pass took the
ball to the Blue’s forty-eight yards. Marion found a weak place at the
Green’s left wing and plunged through for seven, Kendall following this
with a hair-raising run outside of tackle for twelve more. Yardley’s
supporters howled their delight and went frantic a moment later when
Simms took the ball on a trick play and dashed straight through the
enemy’s center for ten yards. Someone, however, had been off-side, and
the ball went back. Another end run went wrong and Kendall punted.
Saunders caught, dodged Cousins and Stark, and came back fourteen
yards. A fumble by the quarter was recovered for a loss. Broadwood
failed to gain through the line and Reid punted. Simms ran back ten
yards and was thrown. Kendall and Crandall worked a double-pass, and
the latter got five yards around the Green’s right end, Thurston for
once being caught napping. The half ended with the ball near the middle
of the field in Yardley’s territory.

The teams trotted back to the gymnasium, and the rival camps sang their
songs. Yardley had had the worst of it thus far, but her supporters
were far from acknowledging the possibility of defeat. “Wait until we
get the ball where Burtis can try a goal,” was the frequent prophecy.
“Then you’ll see something!”

Fales was back at left guard when the third quarter began. Broadwood
kicked off. Simms caught on his ten yards, and on the first line-up
brought the Yardley students to their feet when, on a fake kick play,
he dashed around Broadwood’s right end for twelve yards. A forward
pass failed, Marion made three through left guard and Kendall booted.
Broadwood came back desperately from her thirty yards, and in ten
plays planted the pigskin squarely on the fifty-five-yard line. A
plunge at the center gave her her distance. Stark was hurt, and after
being patched up went back. But a minute later he was taken out and
Jensen took his place. With two yards to go on a third down, Broadwood
was thrown back and it was Yardley’s ball on her forty-three yards.
Broadwood’s left end was negotiated twice, and it was first down for
the Blue. Furniss was taken out and a red-headed, rangy youth took his
place. But the gains still continued there, and, with Crandall and
Kendall and Simms carrying the ball, four and five yards were torn off
at a time. Marion provided variety by crashing through twice between
right guard and tackle. Simms was running the team faster now and no
longer seemed bothered about signals. There was one mix-up, however,
which set the Blue back a good six yards. But this distance and two
more yards was regained by Kendall, who sliced past left tackle.
Broadwood was on the run and along the west side of the gridiron the
blue flags waved triumphantly. Past the forty-yard line went the ball,
past the thirty-five, Yardley still making her distance on each three
tries. A mighty plunge by Crandall through left guard set the pigskin
on Broadwood’s thirty yards. But Crandall was badly injured in the
play and had to give place to Greene. Greene celebrated his arrival by
immediately fumbling, and the ball went to the enemy on the threshold
of her goal!

But Fate played fair for once. Two attempts at the Yardley line netted
the Green six yards and Reid fell back to punt. There was a poor pass,
Jensen got through and Reid was thrown, the ball bobbing out of his
hands and across the field to where a half-dozen players of both sides
scrambled for it. Plant was the fortunate one, and it was once more
Yardley’s ball on Broadwood’s twenty-five yards. Marion tried the
center and got two and Greene shot around the enemy’s left for three
more, bringing the pigskin nearly opposite the goal-posts. Yardley
waved and howled along the side-line as it saw Kendall walk back up the
field. He pulled a handful of dry grass and tossed it into the air to
study the wind. Then, with feet well apart, he raised his arms for the
pass. The clamor died to silence and Simms’s signals came across the
field sharp and brittle:

“_99-17-11!_”

Back shot the ball, the two lines heaved and struggled, the big
Broadwood forwards plunged through, a tackle brushed Greene from his
path and leaped with upstretched arms at the kicker. Too late, though!
Calmly and slowly Kendall’s leg swung forward, the ball tapped on the
ground, a foot met it squarely and it started upward and forward for
the bar. A dozen hands strove in front of it, but it cleared them all.
A veritable babel of triumph arose to the sky from the Yardley side,
faltered, failed and died away as a volume of sound crashed from across
the gridiron.

“No goal! No goal!” shrieked Broadwood.



CHAPTER XXIV

AROUND THE END


The blue-clad players were walking disconsolately back to the other end
of the gridiron. The ball had passed under the bar instead of over;
Kendall had missed goal by a foot only, but missed it he had. Murmurs
of disappointment traveled along the west side of the field. For a
minute the blue flags trailed discouragedly. But the teams were at it
again, and there was still a good four minutes left of the quarter.
Yardley advanced and lost the ball on a fumble. Broadwood made one
first down and was forced to kick. Greene made a startling run after
the catch, getting twenty-odd yards before he was stopped. Marion made
two desperate plunges at left tackle and slid by each time for a short
gain, and Kendall made the rest of the distance through right guard.
Then came a penalty for off-side playing, and Kendall punted on the
second down. Saunders caught and was downed, and the whistle blew for
the third period. And there was still no score.

Payson sent Crandall back when the last quarter began, and made two
other changes. Holmes took Simms’s place, and Brinspool went in for
Marion. Fifteen minutes remained in which to conquer or lose, and as
the two teams, each showing the effects of the struggle, faced each
other again on Broadwood’s thirty-eight yards it was still anybody’s
game.

Broadwood secured six yards on two plays, and then Reid, starting as
if to round Yardley’s right end, suddenly stopped, turned and aimed a
well-directed pass at the red-haired left end. The latter was quite
alone and made a good catch, and in an instant he was streaking down
the field. Only Holmes was between him and a touchdown, and Holmes
was well over on the further side of the gridiron. Ten yards, fifteen
yards, and the green-jerseyed youth was still running. Past the center
of the field he sped, Holmes closing in on him cautiously, the rest
of the enemy trailing along desperately in the rear. On Yardley’s
forty-five yards the runner swung to the right as though to pass inside
of Holmes, but the latter was wary and refused to follow. Another ten
yards and the two met. The runner dodged to the left as Holmes dived,
but the quarter’s tackle was sure, and after three struggling paces
the Broadwood runner came to earth. Thirty-five yards he had reeled
off, the ball was on Yardley’s twenty-seven and Broadwood cheered
frantically. It was now or never for the Green, and all seemed to
realize it. Yardley was for the moment disorganized, and her defense
crumbled. The Green swept through for eight yards on the first play,
gained her distance on the next and stood victoriously on the Yardley
sixteen-yard line. A conference followed. Evidently Saunders was for
trying a field goal, while Captain Raynor wanted a touchdown. Broadwood
went back to her line-plunging. Holmes and Merriwell pleaded and
threatened, and the Yardley line braced. Two yards was all Broadwood
gained on her first attack, a yard and a half on her second. There
seemed nothing for it then but a try at goal. Reid paced back and took
kicking position. Saunders fell to his knees behind center. “Hold ’em
now! Hold ’em! Get down, Smith! Stop that man, Peebles!” cried Saunders.

“Break through, fellows!” implored Holmes hoarsely. “Block this kick!
Block it!”

Back went the ball, but not to Saunders. That youth flattened himself
out of the way, and Reid was running to his right. A cry of warning
broke from Holmes.

“Watch a pass! Watch a pass!”

But too late! Adler had been drawn in, and far to the right of the
Yardley end the red-haired youth stood poised for the pass! Frantically
a half-dozen Yardley players strove to reach Reid before he could
throw. But already he had stopped, turned and was taking aim. Then away
shot the ball, arching gently across the field to the waiting Broadwood
end. Adler and Kendall rushed down upon him, but the ball descended
into his hands on the five-yard line and he was away on the instant.
Three strides and he was over the last lime mark and heading in toward
goal. Simms pulled him down before he had centered the ball, but the
damage was done. Broadwood had scored! On the blackboard at the end of
the field appeared an ominous white figure 6!

The punt-out was caught but Saunders failed to kick the goal, and
Yardley took what comfort it might from that. Eleven minutes of playing
time still remained, and the Blue’s supporters refused to give up
hope. Yardley had only to score a touchdown to tie, while a goal from
the touchdown would win the game. The blue flags began to wave again
half-heartedly, and the cheering started anew. The cheer leaders,
their blue megaphones gyrating, did their utmost, but for a time the
responses were weak. Broadwood took the defensive immediately after the
kick-off and held to it. Yardley played desperately and every trick in
her bundle was tried. Twice end runs were started that seemed destined
to change the complexion of the game, but each time the runner was
stopped before he could quite get away. From one forty-yard line to
the other the play went back and forth, Broadwood punting on second
down if not first and Yardley coming back with her end and tackle
plays, punting only when forced to. And so nearly ten of the remaining
eleven minutes passed away and Broadwood’s title to the contest grew
momentarily stronger. The linesman had announced two minutes left and
Yardley had just failed to gain on her second down near the Blue’s
trampled forty-five-yard line. Holmes tried a quarter-back kick, and it
worked, Cousins getting the ball on the Blue thirty-five yards. He was
immediately tackled, however, and downed. Near at hand the blue flags
were tossing ecstatically, and hundreds of throats were roaring an
imploring chorus of “_Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!_”

It was a time for desperate measures. The seconds were ticking off
fast. Holmes hurried the line together.

“Come on! Come on! Signals! 38-107-45! 38-107――――”

Back went the ball, thudding against Brinspool’s stomach as he dashed
forward. Merriwell and Jensen opened the hole and Brinspool staggered
through, twisting, panting, the ball clutched tightly. The sound of
rasping canvas, of bodies straining together, of grunts and cries,
of panting breaths! A wild confusion of lunging, struggling forms,
of grasping arms, of wide, anxious eyes, of white, tired faces,
dirt-streaked and convulsed with effort! A faint, grumbling cry of
“_Down!_” and the shrilling of the whistle! And Yardley had wrested
four yards from the enemy!

“Line up, quick!” howled Holmes. “Get into this! We’ve got ’em going,
fellows! They can’t hold us! Signals! Right tackle over! 98-16-107!
98-16――――”

It was Brinspool again; he was playing to-day as he had never played
before all season; it was Brinspool between his tackle and end at the
right, Brinspool taking the ball at a short throw and crashing past the
Broadwood tackle for another three yards! Then the whistle again, and
Merriwell, staggering out toward the side-line, asking the time, and
Holmes begging him to come back and never mind.

“We’ve time to put it over,” he cried. “Line up, fellows!”

“Forty seconds!” called the linesman.

Holmes faltered and passed a hand over his face. Broadwood, jubilant,
broke into exultant cries. “Hold them, Broadwood! It’s their last
play! Stop this! Throw them back! Get under ’em!”

“Signals!” growled Holmes. “Kick formation! Burtis back!” He turned and
viewed the positions. Greene and Brinspool were crouched already at the
right, and Kendall, white-faced but steady, was raising his hands. “Get
this, Burtis, and make it good, boy! Signals! 17-11-21!”

“Signals! Signals!” shrieked Greene, as Kendall’s heart leaped. Holmes
darted a look of murder at the offending Greene.

“Signals!” he cried again, chopping out the numbers with hoarse barks.
“17-89-31! 17-89――――”

“Block this kick! Block it!” shrieked Broadwood.

Back swept the ball from between Best’s wide-set feet, back to Kendall
at head-height. Up went his hands, out swung a leg and then, with the
ball tucked in the crook of his left elbow, he was plunging across the
field to his left, while shrieks and cries filled the air. It was the
play that had won the Nordham game, a simple run from kick formation,
a play easy to stop if expected, but likely to gain if not. And in
this case Broadwood had looked for a kick, reasoning that Yardley
had given up all idea of trying to win by rushing, that in the few
seconds remaining she would try to mitigate her defeat by securing the
three points that a goal from field would yield her. And Broadwood
was napping on the right of her line. The brilliant Thurston who had
made himself feared all through the game, who had spoiled more than
one attempt at his end of the line, had crept in and up, desperately
determined to get inside of the Yardley end and spoil the kick. It was
Broadwood’s right half-back, Reid, who first scented the danger and
started to intercept Kendall. Saunders pounded behind him. But the
Yardley interference was well formed, well spaced and desperate. Reid
went down with Holmes, and Greene blocked Saunders. At that instant
Kendall turned in and leaped toward the goal-line, his right elbow
locked and his arm stretched out to meet the foe. Six white lines lay
between him and the goal. He crossed two in safety, Greene speeding
beside him. Then the enemy swept upon him. Greene threw himself in the
path of a frantic foe and went down, and Kendall ran alone.

Three white streaks danced before his eyes now. A form leaped at him,
all blue-clad arms, and Kendall’s open hand flattened against a face
and he was still free. Two lines more now, only two! A shock almost
threw him from his feet; hands were clutching at his hips; he whirled
on one heel, staggered and broke away; a form dashed in front of him,
hands stretching upward; Kendall leaped and went over the falling foe;
the last line was under foot! One stride――another!―― Many hands fell
upon him, dragging him down! He tried to shake free, but they were too
many for him! He fell to his knees, something crashed against him,
driving the remaining breath from his body, and he toppled over on the
turf, the old injury paining horribly and his lungs bursting for air.

[Illustration: “Something crashed against him, driving the remaining
breath from his body.”]

They led him away to the side-lines, for the leather harness had failed
him and the bones had slipped out again. And while the spectators
held their breaths, Fales tried to kick a goal. Victory for the Blue
depended on his efforts, and he knew it. Weary and panting, he directed
the poising of the ball, stepped forward and kicked. The pigskin rose
erratically, turned lazily over and dropped weakly to earth in front
of the charging Broadwood line. And Fales sat down on the turf, rolled
onto his face, buried his head in his arms and wept!

Said the scoreboard: Broadwood 6; Visitors 6.



CHAPTER XXV

KENDALL IS MISTAKEN


Kendall sat in a corner of the barge as it rattled its way through
clouds of dust back to Wissining. They had pulled his wrist into
place again, bandaged it and put it back in a sling. Every bump of
the barge’s weak springs made it throb painfully. But it was not his
injury that Kendall minded. It was the knowledge that he had failed his
fellows and the school. That was what hurt. He had lost the game, he
told himself miserably. It had needed only that goal from the field to
win, and he had missed it. He still wondered how it had happened. He
had dropped the ball as well as he knew how, had kicked at the right
instant, his instep had met it squarely, he was convinced that he
had made no miscalculation of the distance. And yet, by some unhappy
chance, the ball had barely cleared the bar underneath instead of
sailing over. Since the whistle had blown he had avoided the glances of
his teammates, was avoiding them now. He knew that by to-morrow they
would find excuses for him, the kinder-hearted ones at least, but now
they must all loathe him; and he didn’t want to read that loathing in
their faces. So he kept his eyes on the roadside all the way back to
school, only occasionally conscious of his aching wrist, and was very
unhappy and weary and sore.

Here and there some of the fellows were conversing jerkily in tired
voices, but there was no joking to-day, no bantering, no laughing, no
singing as the team went home. It seemed to them all that the tie had
been a defeat. For the moment they had lost sight of the fact that
Broadwood had outweighed them and that in playing their rival to a
tied score they had perhaps gained some glory after all. Yardley had
grown accustomed to victory on the gridiron, and anything less than a
victory spelled disgrace to them. They were thankful, each and every
one of them, that until the barge reached Yardley they would not have
to face their fellows. Now and then a lighter vehicle passed, and the
occupants leaned out and shouted and waved their flags as they went by.
But the players made no response. Perhaps one or two grinned stoically;
perhaps here and there a fellow’s face worked and his throat choked up.
To-morrow――even later this same evening――they would begin to see things
less pessimistically, but now, thoroughly tired, aching and sore, it
seemed to them that they were little better than pariahs. The bottom
had just dropped out of everything and they were left dangling in space!

When the barge rolled up the drive to the front of Oxford a crowd had
already gathered about the steps, a throng of nearly a hundred, and the
returning warriors were met with cheers that were hearty and loyal.
A look of dull surprise overspread some of the faces in the barge;
some of the fellows smiled a little; others grew frankly tearful. All
shouldered their way through the crowd and sought their rooms, avoiding
the hands that would have detained them and the questions that met
them. Afterward, as other vehicles returned and emptied their loads,
the gathering grew and the cheers became louder and louder, and when,
finally, some two hundred voices took up the strains of the school song
and sang it through proudly and lovingly and even exultantly, you’d
never have guessed that Yardley held herself defeated!

Number 28 was dark when Kendall reached it. Gerald was not there,
and he was very glad. He didn’t light the lights, but crossed to the
window-seat, after he had taken off his coat and cap, and threw himself
down among the cushions to think it all over again. Thinking, however,
made it no better. It seemed to him that he was disgraced; that even
his usefulness to the school was over. He hated to think of the morrow
when he would have to face the fellows and read the verdict in their
faces. He could imagine the whispers as he went by. “That’s the failure
that lost the Broadwood game for us!” Of course, there would be some
who wouldn’t let it make any difference. They’d be disappointed in him,
but they’d try not to let him see, and they’d be loyal still――Gerald,
for instance, and Harry and, yes, probably The Duke. And perhaps one or
two others. And maybe after a while he would get over it. Perhaps by
the time the Winter term began it would be half forgotten and he could
hold up his head again.

Once it occurred to him that had Fales kicked the goal after the
touchdown they would still have won a victory. But he was charitable
toward Fales. Fales had been worn out, almost ready to collapse, and it
was no wonder he had missed. Besides, Fales was not supposed to excel
at goal-kicking. With Kendall it was different. He was first of all a
kicker, he had been given his place on the team because they believed
he could be depended on to score from the field. And he had failed
at the one most important moment of the season! Kendall groaned and
turned his head as though to get away from his thoughts.

The world outside the windows got blacker and blacker. He knew that in
the next building they were gathering for the banquet and the election.
But he had no intention of going. He didn’t want to face them yet,
while as for eating, he didn’t care if he never saw food again! Now
and then a voice or a strain of whistling or a bar of song came up to
him as fellows passed under the window. Once there was a long burst of
cheering from commons. One of the Old Boys, perhaps a former football
hero, had entered the dining-hall probably. Well, they’d never cheer
him that way; never, unless――yes, there was another year coming, after
all. Perhaps they’d give him a chance to retrieve, to make up then!
For a moment he felt better. But then the thought that if he failed
to win his scholarship this year he wouldn’t be likely to get back
again sent his spirits down once more. And so for another hour he lay
there in self-abasement and self-accusation and got a little tearful
at times and felt pretty miserable. And finally, tired out physically
and mentally, he fell asleep and only awoke when someone thumped on the
door and called his name loudly. He sat up, with a wince as his injured
arm was jolted, and rubbed his eyes.

“Burtis! You in there?” demanded the caller imperatively. The knob
rattled, but Kendall had turned the key and the door denied admittance.
For a brief instant Kendall clung to his desire for seclusion. But
then, as there came a kick which threatened to drive a panel in, he
answered:

“Hello! Who is it, please?”

“Simms! Open the door, you silly chump! What time do you think it is?”

Kendall crossed the room in the darkness and turned back the key. The
door was pushed open, admitting a flood of light from the corridor.
Simms stared in at him.

“What the dickens are you doing?” he demanded. “Been asleep?”

“Yes, a little while,” answered Kendall.

“Well, find your cap and come on. We’re half through dinner! We’ve been
looking for you for an hour.”

“I――I don’t think I want to go over there, thanks,” murmured the other.
“I――my arm’s pretty sore, and I’m tired――――”

“What of it? Don’t you think the rest of us are tired, too? And sore?
Gosh, I haven’t a bone in my body that isn’t yelping! Besides, we’ve
got to elect a new captain pretty soon.”

“You won’t need my vote,” Kendall demurred. “I’d vote for Crandall if
I was there. You could tell them that, couldn’t you?”

“Crandall! Well, say――――” Simms paused and chuckled. “Just the same
you’d better come, Burtis. They sent me for you, and I can’t go back
without you. Get your cap, like a good fellow.”

“They sent for me? Who, Simms?”

“Why, the lot of them, the whole push, of course,” replied the quarter
impatiently.

“Do you mean――that they――really want me?” faltered Kendall.

“Really want you? Say, what’s the matter with you, old man?” Simms
looked curiously into the other boy’s face. Then he whistled softly.
“So that’s it, eh?” he asked, as though of himself. He put one hand
on Kendall’s shoulder. “Look here, Burtis,” he said affectionately,
“you’ve got some fool notion in your head, haven’t you? Feeling sore, I
guess, about that goal you didn’t make. Is that it?”

“Why――why, of course, I feel pretty rotten about it,” answered the
younger boy. “And I thought――perhaps the other fellows――――” His voice
dwindled away into silence.

Simms laughed cheerfully. Then his fingers closed reassuringly on
Kendall’s shoulder. “Poppycock, Burtis! Poppycock, my son! No one’s
holding that against you! How could they? Great Scott! haven’t we all
made mistakes to-day? You don’t think _you_ lost the game, do you?
Well, you didn’t! No more than I did, or Merriwell or Fales or any
of the rest of us――alone! We all had a hand in it, Burtis. Besides,
Payson’s been giving us a whole earful of guff about what a little
band of heroes we are! Why Payson says we never had any show for that
game, by rights! Says we only tied ’em because we didn’t know we were
licked!” Simms’s voice dropped. “Burtis, don’t be a silly chump. Get
your cap and come along. There’s a seat by me you can have. Come and
see for yourself whether we want you there!”

It seemed too good to be true, and as he turned away to dash a sponge
across his face his eyes got leaky again, and it took him a long time
to get through with the towel and find his cap. Then he was following
Simms down the stairs and along the walk and through the entrance to
Whitson, alive with students awaiting the result of the election. As
the two pushed their way through, the fellows fell back for them,
cheering and shouting, laughing and joking. Kendall followed the
quarter as in a daze. The big door opened, and he saw the long table
spread in the middle of the hall and lined on each side with the
fellows. There was Merriwell at the head and John Payson at the foot,
turning at the sound of the opening door, and Perky Davis, and, yes,
Andy Ryan, too, and all the other fellows between, talking and laughing
as though Yardley had really won!

Kendall faltered at the door, but Simms dragged him on. “Got him,
fellows!” he announced, pushing Kendall forward into the flood of light
about the table. “Found him sound asleep, and almost had to kick the
door in!”

“Hello, Burtis, you old top!” shouted Girard.

“Everything’s eaten up, Burtis!” cried Marion.

Kendall found himself pushed into a chair between Simms and Adler.
Everyone was talking at him, laughing at him, it seemed, and, wonder
of wonders, every face was kindly! If an expression of doubt crept now
and then into Merriwell’s countenance as he glanced at the newcomer,
Kendall didn’t see it. Nor did he discern that Coach Payson was viewing
him in a half-puzzled way. For a space, in fact, he saw very little.
Eager hands passed him things and piled his plate high and Kendall
pecked at the viands, too happy to really eat.

But after a while he began to hear what was going on about him. They
were still talking over the game, but the former despondency was
all gone. Rather, they were slightly boastful now! Plant, in high
spirits, was explaining loudly what would have happened if one tiny,
infinitesimal thing――Kendall couldn’t make out just what it was――had
been different. “Why, in that case, we’d have knocked the green
sawdust out of ’em!” declared Plant. And he appealed to Mr. Payson
for confirmation. The coach smiled and nodded. Holmes was already
predicting the horrible fate that awaited Broadwood next year. “Next
year” seemed the keynote now. Simms and Adler talked in front of
Kendall, and had a hot discussion over some unimportant happening of
the day, and threatened each other with fruit knives. There was much
noise and confusion, all very jolly and happy. Kendall drank a cup
of coffee and nibbled a banana that someone thrust at him, settled
contentedly back in his chair, stretched his tired legs under the table
and began to see the world through a wonderful mellow, golden haze.

Then, it must have been a half-hour later, when the last spoon had
been laid reluctantly aside, although many diners were still sipping
their second or third cups of black coffee, Captain Merriwell arose and
hammered the table for attention. One by one the voices died away and
the captain made his speech. He thanked them all for the bully way in
which they had stood by him and the school, for the great game they had
put up to-day; and he thanked Coach Payson for his patience and hard
work and――――

But the rest was lost in the sound of cheers and the tinkling of silver
against goblets and the thumping of feet.

And now it remained to choose a captain for next year, Merriwell
went on. It was customary for the retiring captain to make the first
nomination, but he wasn’t going to do that to-night. He was going to
let them make their selection without any suggestion from him, knowing
that whoever they chose would be the right man! And nominations were in
order!

More cheering then, and some laughter, and finally a quieter mood,
while the fellows glanced curiously around the table and waited.
Cousins pushed back his chair and stood up, smiling as the fellows
began to clap.

“I can’t make a speech, fellows, and I don’t need to. We’ve got plenty
of fellows on this team who would make good captains, and for my part I
say it’s hard to choose (Applause and cries of “That’s right!”). But in
my opinion I think there’s one in especial that deserves the position.
He’s played three full years on the team, he’s a fellow we all like――I
might say love――and――well, I think he’s the captain we want. Fellows,
I place in nomination Howard Crandall.”

Lots of cheering then, and lots of kindly looks toward the blushing
Crandall. Simms and Fales, who sat on his other side, had their heads
together. Then Simms started up, but Stark was ahead of him. Stark was
saying nice things about Pete Girard, and Pete was struggling to throw
a napkin at him and repeating, “Sit down, you big chump! I don’t want
to be captain!” much to the amusement of the table. But Pete got his
meed of applause when Stark finished, and then Simms sprang up.

“Fellows, we’ve had good names put before us. Crandall, bless his old
hide, would make a good captain! So would Girard, if he could keep
awake! (Sit down, Pete!) Either one of them would do to lead us――I mean
the rest of you fellows, because some of us will be out of it next
year――to lead you to victory. But, fellows, there’s one here who hasn’t
been named yet, and I know you’re waiting for it. We’ve got a fellow
here who would make the sort of captain we want, the sort we love to
follow, the sort that Chase was in the old days before we came here,
and that Vinton was, and that Merriwell has been. He hasn’t served his
three years, fellows, but that can’t be helped. It isn’t his fault,
it’s our misfortune. He’s only been two seasons on the team, but in
that time he’s yanked one game out of the fire for us and saved us from
defeat in the other! And, fellows――――” Simms paused and seemed debating
with himself. Then: “Fellows, when the rest of us were feeding our
faces here to-night and jollying up, this chap was staying away because
he thought he’d failed us to-day and that we didn’t want him here!
Fellows, I nominate for the captaincy of the Yardley Hall Football Team
for the Season of 1911, Mr. Kendall Burtis!”



CHAPTER XXVI

GERALD IS SURPRISED


Simms must have been right when he said they were waiting for that
name, for such a burst of applause went up as to set the fixtures
shaking above the table. Napkins waved and goblets rang. Kendall,
staring bewilderedly, told himself that it was a dream; that he had not
heard aright! And yet they were all looking at him and waving at him
and crying his name! He gazed about, the color rushing into his cheeks,
and showed such a terrified countenance that the cheers grew into
laughter. Merriwell was rapping for silence again. “Are there any more
nominations?” he asked, trying to make himself heard. It seemed that
there were not. “Then please come to order, fellows. You have three
candidates to vote on――――”

“Leave me out, Charlie!” called Pete Girard. “I decline the honor!”

“Then two,” began Merriwell again. But Crandall was on his feet.

“I want to thank the fellows who nominated me,” he announced, “but
I withdraw, too, please. And I’d like to make Burtis’s nomination
unanimous!”

In the confusion of cheering that followed, Merriwell had hard work
making himself heard. Finally, though: “Those in favor of the election
of Kendall Burtis will stand up,” he announced. Every chair was pushed
back save those of Merriwell, who was already standing, of Coach
Payson and Andy Ryan, who had no voice in the proceedings, and of
Kendall himself. Marion mounted a chair and called for “Three cheers
for Burtis, fellows! Let her go!” The cheers came with a will and were
followed by cries of “Speech! Speech!” Kendall, his eyes on the table,
and his well hand nervously employed in the manufacture of bread pills,
felt himself being lifted to his feet. It was an awful thing to have to
say anything, for his voice was nowhere to be found at first; and when
it did come it was so shaky and low that for a moment no one could hear
it.

Finally, however, his halting words reached them.

“――Awfully afraid you’ve made a――a most horrible mistake,” he was
saying, “and I wish you’d change your minds, fellows. Honestly――” and
he looked appealingly about――“I don’t think I could do it, fellows!”

A howl of delight and derision went up. Kendall faltered again.

“I――I’d like you to excuse me, please, and――――”

“Not on your life! You’re elected, Burtis!”

Kendall turned questioningly, pleadingly, to Simms. Simms, laughing,
shook his head. “No use,” he said. “You’re it!”

Kendall gulped, smiled wanly, started to sit down, reconsidered and
went on: “Then all I can say is that I’m awfully much obliged and that
I――I’ll do the best I know how. But I hope you’ll all help me a lot,
because――because I don’t know much about my job!”

Merriwell, looking worried, went down the table and for a minute
conversed in whispers with Coach Payson. The coach frowned and,
nodding, finally arose and walked to the side of the room. Merriwell
tapped Kendall on the shoulder.

“I say, Burtis, just come over here a minute, will you?”

Kendall, wondering, accompanied the other to where the coach stood. The
rest of the team followed them with curious eyes.

“Burtis,” said Payson, pulling a folded sheet of paper from his pocket,
“have you ever seen this before?”

Kendall looked at it in surprise. Then, “Why, yes, sir, I think so. I
drew that diagram, but I didn’t do all that writing.”

“How did you happen to make the diagram?” asked Merriwell.

“Why, a fellow came to my room one night, and we got to talking about
signals; the different systems, you know; he had some scheme of his own
and wanted to know what I thought of it. I didn’t think much of it,
though.”

“Who was this fellow?” asked Payson.

Kendall hesitated. “Is there――is there any trouble about this?” he
asked.

It was Payson’s turn to hesitate, and he looked uncertainly at
Merriwell. Finally: “Yes, this has made some trouble, or very nearly.”

“Then I guess I’d better not say who the fellow was,” replied Kendall.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to, Burtis. This sheet of paper contains a
full explanation of our signals for the Broadwood game, the original
signals, you understand. It was sent to someone at Broadwood and got to
the hands of the captain. He returned it to Merriwell. Now you see some
explanation is necessary, Burtis.”

“But I only made the diagram. It was before we learned the new signals,
Mr. Payson.”

“This other chap, whose name you won’t tell, took this paper away with
him when he left?”

“Yes, sir. I never thought――――”

“And you did not tell him afterwards about the signals for the
Broadwood game?”

“No, sir. We never spoke of the thing again.”

“And you say this is not your writing?”

“No, sir; it isn’t.”

“And you know nothing more of this than you’ve told us, Burtis?”

“I really don’t. I’m awfully sorry I made that diagram, but――he
said――――”

“This other fellow?”

“Yes, sir. He said he wanted to work out a better system, and asked me
to explain the one we were using then. That was all there was to it,
Mr. Payson.”

Payson frowned. “I’m very much inclined to believe you, Burtis,” he
said kindly, “but you must see that until this matter is cleared up you
can’t――er――very well accept the captaincy. If I were you I’d see that
other fellow right away and get him to tell what he knows, Burtis.”

“Yes, sir. And――and am I to――to tell them that I can’t be captain, sir?”

“No, that isn’t necessary. I think――Hello, Davis! Want to see me?”

“Why, yes, I guess so, Mr. Payson. Are you talking about that business
of the signals? Because if you are I can clear that up in a jiffy.”

“Well, for goodness sake, do it!” ejaculated Payson. “What do you know?”

“I know the whole story,” replied Perky importantly. “Here’s how it
was. Cotton got Burtis to make that diagram for him. Then he sneaked
into the gym that night we were having signal drill――I told you I saw
someone, but you wouldn’t believe me!――and got the signals. Maybe he
was there another time, but he doesn’t own to it.”

“Then he acknowledges this?” asked Merriwell.

“Sure! He had to; I made him!”

“How did you get hold of it, Perky?”

“Did a little detective work. Got a clue from George Kirk just by
accident. Kirk saw Cotton and that fellow Gibson together in Greenburg
the day he came back from the golf match with Broadwood. I put two
and two together, found that Cotton was at Broadwood two years ago,
and then went and told him I knew all about it. He thought I did and
’fessed up.”

“Where is he now?” asked Merriwell angrily.

Perky shrugged his shoulders. “Search me,” he said. “He left here this
morning. That’s all I know!”

A half-hour later Kendall opened the door of Number 28. Outside
there were still faint echoes of the cheering that had greeted the
announcement of the election. Gerald, who had dined at home that
evening, was in the room, and with him was Harry Merrow. Had Kendall
been especially discerning just then he might have told from the
expressions on their faces that they had heard the news. But he wasn’t;
he was too excited for one thing. And, being excited, he tried not to
show it. He said, “Hello” restrainedly, laid his cap down and took a
chair.

“Hello,” responded Gerald carelessly. “Been to the banquet?”

Kendall nodded.

“Did they elect a captain?” asked Harry gravely.

Kendall nodded again. There was a silence. Finally and rather
sheepishly Kendall said:

“What do you suppose those fellows did, Gerald?”

“What fellows?” asked Gerald, suppressing a grin.

Kendall nodded vaguely in the direction of commons. “Those fellows,
the――the football team.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Raised rough-house, I suppose. What did they do,
Kendall?”

“They――they”――Kendall found himself blushing――“they made me captain!”

“_What!_” Gerald turned and viewed the grinning Harry in wild
amazement. “Why, I was never so surprised in all my life!”


THE END



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Pictures in Color. Large 12mo. Cloth, $1.25 net.

“The Texan Scouts” is the story of the further adventures of Ned
Fulton, the young hero of “The Texan Star” and his friends. There is
plenty of thrilling adventure and excitement, and at the same time the
background of the story is historically true. The book is complete in
itself, and it is not necessary to have read the previous books by Mr.
Altsheler to thoroughly enjoy this.


  =The Texan Triumph=         By Joseph A. Altsheler

Pictures in Color, Cloth, Large 12mo. Price $1.35 net. By mail, $1.47.

Here is a another volume about the Texan struggle for independence,
written in Mr. Altsheler’s best style. Ned Fulton and his friends of
former books are all there and figure in many an exciting escapade,
winding up with the famous battle of San Jacinto, where the Mexican
General Santa Anna is defeated. One fine thing about Mr. Altsheler’s
stories is that they always have a background of real history and the
incidents in them are true to the times.


  =Apache Gold=               By Joseph A. Altsheler

With Pictures in Color. Cloth, Large 12mo. Price $1.35 net. By mail,
$1.47.

This is a story of the far Southwest, of the high mountains, abandoned
dwellings, venomous Apaches, and a hunt for a treasure lost by
Spaniards many generations ago. Charles Wayne is a telegrapher at a
small way station in Arizona. A man who seems to be a tramp, staggers
from the desert into his little office and dies there. But before his
death he utters disjointed sentences about a great treasure concealed
in the distant and lofty mountains. The adventures of Charles in search
of this treasure form the basis of the story.


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK



 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, except as noted.

 ――Accepted possessive “s” variants (e.g. Simms’ vs. Simms’s,
   Holmes’ vs. Holmes’s, etc.) were retained.

 ――Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 ――Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.





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