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Title: Guarding His Goal
Author: Barbour, Ralph Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           GUARDING HIS GOAL



By Ralph Henry Barbour


YARDLEY HALL SERIES

  Guarding His Goal
  Forward Pass
  Double Play
  Winning His Y
  For Yardley
  Around the End
  Change Signals


PURPLE PENNANT SERIES

  The Lucky Seventh
  The Secret Play
  The Purple Pennant


HILTON SERIES

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


ERSKINE SERIES

  Behind the Line
  Weatherby’s Inning
  On Your Mark


THE “BIG FOUR” SERIES

  Four in Camp
  Four Afoot
  Four Afloat


THE GRAFTON SERIES

  Rivals for the Team
  Winning His Game
  Hitting the Line


BOOKS NOT IN SERIES

  For the Freedom of the Seas
  Under the Yankee Ensign
  Keeping His Course
  The Brother of a Hero
  Finkler’s Field
  Danforth Plays the Game
  The Arrival of Jimpson
  Benton’s Venture
  The Junior Trophy
  The New Boy at Hilltop
  The Spirit of the School
  The Play that Won


D. APPLETON & CO., Publishers, New York



[Illustration: TOBY, A LITTLE PALE, CROUCHED AND WATCHED]



                        [Illustration: GUARDING
                               HIS GOAL]

                                  BY
                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

                               AUTHOR OF
                 “FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE SEAS,” “UNDER
                       THE YANKEE ENSIGN,” ETC.


                            [Illustration]


                            ILLUSTRATED BY
                             GEORGE AVISON


                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                         NEW YORK      LONDON
                                 1919



                          COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

                          Copyright, 1917, by
                 THE COMMERCIAL ADVERTISER ASSOCIATION


                PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                                 PAGE
     I. INTRODUCING OUR HERO                1
    II. OFF FOR HOME                       14
   III. THE MAN IN THE BROWN OVERCOAT      31
    IV. THE CAPTURE                        49
     V. CHRISTMAS DAYS                     61
    VI. FRIENDS FALL OUT                   73
   VII. FIRST PRACTICE                     90
  VIII. THE SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS            107
    IX. T. TUCKER PLAYS GOAL              119
     X. WITH THE FIRST TEAM               135
    XI. TRADE FALLS OFF                   150
   XII. THE MARKED COIN                   164
  XIII. TOMMY LINGARD EXPLAINS            187
   XIV. A QUESTION OF COLOR               199
    XV. TOBY ENTERTAINS                   212
   XVI. ABSENT FROM CHAPEL                223
  XVII. THE GRAY CARD                     238
 XVIII. IN THE OFFICE                     251
   XIX. A PAIR OF GLOVES                  264
    XX. CAPTAIN AND COACH                 280
   XXI. THE RESCUE                        299
  XXII. THINGS COME OUT ALL RIGHT         316



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                FACING
                                                                 PAGE

 Toby, a little pale, crouched and watched      _Frontispiece_

 “That’s funny,” he murmured                                       168

 “Let her come!” laughed Toby                                      242

 “Coming! Hold on a little longer!”                                314



GUARDING HIS GOAL



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCING OUR HERO


                               T. TUCKER
                     _Clothes Cleaned and Pressed_
                      PLEASE LEAVE ORDERS IN BOX

Such was the legend, neatly inscribed on a small white card, that met
the gaze of the visitor to Number 22 Whitson. As Number 22 was the
last room on the corridor, and as the single light was at the head of
the stairway, the legend was none too legible after nightfall, and the
boy who had paused in front of it to regain his breath after a hurried
ascent of the two steep flights had difficulty in reading it. When
he had deciphered it and glanced at the little cardboard box below,
in which reposed a tiny scratch-pad and a stubby pencil, he smiled
amusedly ere he raised his hand and rapped on the portal.

“Come in!” called a voice from beyond the door, and the visitor turned
the knob and entered.

The room was small, with a ceiling that sloped with the roof, and
rather shabby. There was an iron cot at one side, and a small steamer
trunk peeped out from beneath it. A bureau, grained in imitation of
yellow oak, was across the room and bore a few photographs in addition
to such purely useful articles as brushes and a comb and a little china
box holding studs and sleeve-links. The room contained two chairs,
although at first glance one seemed quite sufficient for the available
space: an armchair boasting the remains of an upholstered seat and a
straight-backed affair whose uncompromising lines were at the moment
partly hidden by a suit of blue serge. The one remaining article of
furniture was a deal table such as one finds in kitchens. It was a
good-sized table and it stood against the wall at the right of the
window embrasure and under the gas bracket. From the bracket extended a
pipe terminating at a one-burner gas stove which, on a square of zinc,
adorned one end of the table. On the stove was a smoothing iron of the
sort known to tailors as a goose. A second such implement was being
pushed back and forth over an expanse of damp cloth in a little cloud
of steam, hissing, but less alarmingly than the other sort of goose,
and filling the room with a not unpleasant odor. The iron didn’t stop
in its travels to and fro, but its manipulator, a well-set-up boy of
fifteen with very blue eyes and red-brown hair, looked around as the
visitor entered.

“Hello,” he said. “Sit down, please, and I’ll be through this in a
shake.”

“No hurry.” The visitor seated himself gingerly in the dilapidated
armchair and draped a pair of gray trousers across his knees. While
the boy at the table deftly lifted the dampened cloth and laid it over
another part of the coat he was pressing and again pushed the hot iron
back and forth, the visitor’s gaze traveled about the little room in
mild surprise. There were no pictures on the white walls, nothing in
the shape of decoration beyond three gaudily colored posters. Two of
them depicted heroic figures in football togs surmounting the word
“Yardley” in big blue letters, and the third was an advertisement
for an automobile, showing a car of gigantic size, inhabited by a
half-dozen lilliputian men and women, perched precariously on the
edge of a precipice. The boy holding the gray trousers hoped that
the man at the wheel, who seemed to be admiring the view with no
thought of danger, had his brakes well set! He hadn’t known that
anywhere in Yardley Hall School was there a room so absolutely
unattractive and mean as Number 22. To be sure, Whitson was the oldest
of all the dormitories and so one naturally wouldn’t look for the
modern conveniences found in Merle or Clarke or Dudley, but he had
never suspected that Poverty Row, as the top floor of Whitson was
factitiously called, held anything so abjectly hideous as the apartment
of T. Tucker. Further reflections were cut short by his host, who,
returning the iron to the stove and whisking the cloth aside, picked up
the coat he had pressed, folded it knowingly and laid it on the foot of
the bed. After which, plunging his hands into his trousers pockets, he
faced the visitor inquiringly.

“Something you want done?” he asked briskly.

“Yes, if you can do it this evening,” was the reply. “But you look
pretty busy. It’s just this pair of trousers, Tucker. I want to wear
them away in the morning.”

“All right, I’ll do ’em. Cleaned or just pressed?” Toby Tucker took the
garment and examined it with professional interest.

“Oh, just pressed. I don’t think they’re spotted. Are you sure you want
to do them? You look sort of busy already.” His glance went to the
half-dozen coats and waistcoats and trousers lying about.

“I am,” replied Toby cheerfully, “but I’ll have these ready for you in
the morning. Seven early enough?”

“Oh, yes, there’s no chapel to-morrow, you know. If I’m not up just
toss them in the room somewhere.”

“All right. You’re in Dudley, aren’t you?”

“Yes, four. Crowell’s the name.”

“I know. You’re hockey captain. I suppose it’s hard to learn that
game, isn’t it?” Toby turned the light out under the burner and seated
himself on the edge of the bed.

“Hockey?” asked Orson Crowell. “N-no, I don’t think so. Of course a
fellow’s got to know how to skate a bit, and not mind being roughed,
you know. The rest comes with practice. Thinking of trying it, Tucker?”

“Me? No, I wouldn’t have time. I just wondered. Arnold Deering’s on the
team, and he’s talked a good deal about it.”

“Oh, you know Arn?”

Toby nodded, hugging his knees up to his chin. “It was Arnold who got
me to come here to school. His folks have a summer place over on Long
Island where I live. Greenhaven. Ever been there?”

Crowell shook his head.

“Nice place,” continued Toby thoughtfully. “Arnold and I got acquainted
and he talked so much about this school that I just made up my mind I’d
come here. So I did.”

“Like it now you’re here?” asked the other boy, smiling.

“Oh, yes! Yes, I’m glad I came, all right. Of course――” Toby glanced
about the room――“I’m not what you’d call luxuriously fixed up here,
but I’ve got the room to myself, and that’s good, because if I had a
room-mate he might object to my staying up all hours pressing clothes.
Besides, it was just about the only room I could afford.”

“Yes, I suppose it’s just about all right for you,” agreed the other
dubiously. “Do you――do you do pretty well?”

“Fair. It gets me enough to keep going on. I don’t charge much, you
see, and it’s easier for fellows to bring their things to me than to
take them to the village or over to Greenburg. It was sort of hard
getting started. Fellows thought at first I couldn’t do it, I guess.
But now they keep me pretty busy. To-day’s been a whopper. Every one
wants his things pressed to go home in. I’m almost done, though. Only
got three more suits――and these trousers of yours. Those won’t take me
long. I’ll be through in a couple of hours.”

“I shouldn’t think you’d have time to do anything else,” commented
Crowell. “When do you get outdoors? And how about studying?”

“Oh, I have plenty of time. I get up at six, and that gives me a good
hour before chapel. And then I have another hour at eleven, and, since
football’s been over, an hour or so in the afternoon.”

“Did you go out for football?”

“Yes, I had a try at it. I was on the second about three weeks and then
they dropped me and I played on my class team. It was lots of fun, but
it took too much time.”

“Yes, it does take time,” granted Crowell. “When I started in in my
second year I was in trouble with the office all the time.”

“I’d certainly like to be able to play it the way you do,” said Toby
admiringly. “I guess it takes a lot of practice, though.”

“Oh, I’m not much good at it,” responded Crowell, modestly. “Did you
see the Broadwood game?”

“No, I didn’t have time. And it cost too much. I wanted to, though.
I’ll see it next year, when they play here.”

Crowell had been studying the younger boy interestedly while they
talked and liked what he saw. There was something very competent in the
youngster’s looks, and the blue eyes expressed a fearlessness that,
taken in conjunction with the determination shown by the square chin,
argued results. He had a round, somewhat tanned face, a short nose
and hair that, as before hinted, only just escaped being red instead
of brown. (It didn’t do to more than hint regarding the color of Toby
Tucker’s hair, for Toby was touchy on the subject and had fought more
than one battle to emphasize the fact that it was distinctly brown and
could not by any stretch of imagination be termed red!) For the rest,
Toby was well built, healthy and strong, and rather larger than most
boys of his age.

“Look here,” said Crowell suddenly. “How are you at skating, Tucker?”

“Oh, I can skate.”

“Done much of it?”

“Yes, I skate a lot, but I don’t know much fancy business.”

“Why don’t you try hockey then? You’d like it awfully. It’s a ripping
sport.”

“I’d be afraid I’d fall over one of those sticks you push around,”
laughed Toby.

“Maybe you would at first,” said Crowell, smiling, “but you’d soon get
the hang of it. You look to me like a fellow who’d be clever about
learning a thing. How old are you, any how? Sixteen, I suppose.”

“Not yet. Fifteen.”

“Fourth Class, then?” Toby nodded and Crowell frowned. “Well, that
wouldn’t matter. Young Sterling played on the second last year when he
was in the fourth. Now, look here――”

“All right,” said Toby, jumping up, “but while we’re talking I might be
pressing those pants of yours. If you’ll stick around about ten minutes
I’ll have them for you. Would you mind waiting that long?”

“Not a bit. Go ahead. What I was going to say was, why don’t you come
out for practice after vacation, Tucker? Of course, I can’t promise you
a place on the second, but if you can skate fairly well and will learn
to use a stick, I don’t see why you mightn’t make it.”

Toby spread the trousers on the board and picked up the cloth. “Why, I
guess I’d love to play,” he responded doubtfully, “but I don’t know if
I’d have time. I dare say you have to practice a good deal every day,
don’t you?”

“About an hour and a half, usually. Think it over. Candidates have been
working in the gym for a fortnight now, but you wouldn’t have missed
much. You’d meet up with a lot of fine chaps, too, Tucker. And, if you
want to think of it that way, you might drum up more trade!” Crowell
concluded with a chuckle, and Toby smiled answeringly as he began to
press the hot iron along the cloth.

“I’ll think it over, thanks,” he said after a moment. “Of course, a
fellow has to do something in winter to get him out, anyway, and maybe
hockey’s more fun than just skating, eh? I guess I wouldn’t be good
enough for your second team, but I sort of think I’d like to try. Maybe
another year I’d be better at it.”

“If you missed the second you might make a class team. They have some
good games and a heap of fun. You tell Arn Deering what I say. Tell him
I said he was to bring you out after you get back.”

“All right, I’ll tell him,” agreed Toby. “He’s been after me, anyway.
To try hockey, I mean. Does it cost much?”

“No. You’ve got skates, I suppose? Well, all you need is something to
wear. The club supplies sticks. Three or four dollars will do it. Do
you know, Tucker, I fancy you might make a pretty good goal?”

“Goal?” repeated Toby in alarm. “To shoot the puck at?”

“I mean goal-tend,” laughed Crowell. “But it amounts to much the same.
You get shot at all right!”

“But you don’t do much skating if you mind goal, do you?” objected Toby.

“Not a great deal, but it’s a hard position to play well, son. Good
goal-tenders are scarcer than hens’ teeth!”

“I wouldn’t mind trying it,” said the other. “Where do you play,
Crowell?”

“We have a couple of rinks down by the river, beyond the tennis courts.
Sometimes the class teams play on the river, but you can’t always be
certain of your ice there. We’re going to have a hard time beating
Broadwood this year, for they’ve got two peachy players. Either one is
better than any chap we have. Hello, all done?”

“Yes. They aren’t very dry yet, so you’d better spread them out when
you get them home so they won’t wrinkle.”

“Thanks. How much?”

“Fifteen cents, please.”

“That’s not much. Got a dime handy?” Toby made the change and Orson
Crowell, draping his trousers over his arm, turned to the door. “You
make up your mind to try hockey, Tucker,” he advised again from the
portal. “I’ll look for you after vacation. Don’t forget!”

“I won’t, thanks. I’ll see what Deering says. If he really thinks I’d
have any chance I’ll have a go at it. Good-night.”

“Good-night. Hope you get your work done in time to get some sleep,
Tucker. You look a bit fagged.”

“I guess I am,” muttered Toby as the door closed behind the hockey
captain, “but I wouldn’t have thought of it if he hadn’t mentioned it.
Well, it’s only a quarter past eight and there’s not much left. Now
then, you pesky blue serge, let’s see what your trouble is!”



CHAPTER II

OFF FOR HOME


Yardley Hall School ended its Fall Term that year on the twenty-first
of December, after breakfast, and by nine o’clock the hill was deserted
and the little station at Wissining presented a crowded and busy
appearance as at least three-quarters of the school’s three hundred
and odd students strove to purchase tickets, to check baggage and to
obtain a vantage point near the edge of the platform from which to pile
breathlessly into the express and so make certain of a seat for the
ensuing two-hour journey to New York. A few of the fellows, who were to
travel in the other direction, were absent, for the east-bound train
left nearly an hour later, but they weren’t missed from that seething,
noisy crowd. Of course much the same thing happened three times each
year, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the hopeless, helpless
manner in which the station officials strove to meet the requirements
of the situation. Long after the express, making a special stop at
Wissining, whistled warningly down the track, boys were still clamoring
at the ticket window and clutching at the frantic baggage master. How
every one got onto the train, and how all the luggage, piled on four
big trucks, was tossed into the baggage car in something under eighty
seconds was a marvel. From the windows of the parlor cars and day
coaches wondering countenances peered out at the unusual scene, and as
the first inrush of boys invaded the good car _Hyacinth_ a nervous old
lady seized her reticule and sat on it, closed her eyes, folded her
hands and awaited the worst!

Toby Tucker, a rather more presentable citizen than the one who had
received Orson Crowell in Number 22 Whitson last evening, was one of
the first to claim sanctuary in the _Hyacinth_. This was not due to
his own enterprise so much as to the fact that a slightly bigger youth
had taken him by the shoulders and, using him as a battering-ram, had
cleaved a path from platform to vestibule. Toby did not ordinarily
travel in parlor cars, but this morning his objections had been
overruled, and presently he found himself, somewhat dishevelled and
out of breath, seated in a revolving chair upholstered in uncomfortably
scratchy velvet with an ancient yellow valise on his knees.

“Put that thing down,” laughed the occupant of the next chair, pushing
his own more modern suit-case out of the aisle. “Gee, that was a riot,
wasn’t it? Here we go!” The train started and Toby, not a little
excited, saw the station move past the broad window, caught a final
fleeting glimpse of the village and then found the river beneath them.
A minute later the express roared disdainfully through Greenburg and
set off in earnest for New Haven and New York. “Two whole weeks of
freedom!” exulted his companion. “No more Latin, no more math, no more
English comp――”

“And no more French!” added Toby feelingly. “And no more clothes to
clean, either. I guess it will take me more than a week to get rid of
the smell of benzine. I stayed up until after ten last night, Arnold. I
wanted to press my own things, but I was too tired. Does this suit look
very bad?”

“Bad? No, it looks corking,” replied Arnold Deering. “It gets me
how you can buy a suit of clothes for about fifteen dollars and have
it look bully, when I have to pay twenty-five and then look like the
dickens. Look at these togs, will you? You’d think I’d had them two or
three years!”

“When a fellow hangs his clothes on the floor the way you do,” laughed
Toby, “he shouldn’t expect them to look very nice. Why didn’t you bring
that up yesterday and let me go over it?”

“Because I knew you had more than you could do, T. Tucker. Besides, you
never let me pay you, you chump.”

“Well, if you’re going to wear your things all mussed up you can pay me
all you want to. Say, how much does this cost?”

“What?”

“Why, this parlor car business?”

“Oh, about a half. It’s my treat, like I’ve told you once.”

“Oh, no――” began Toby. But Arnold drowned out his protest.

“Listen, Toby: you’re coming back to New York the day after Christmas,
aren’t you?”

“No, that’s Sunday; I’ll come Monday.”

“But, hang it, that’s too late! There are piles of things we’ve got to
do. Why, that only gives us a week!”

“I know, but I’ve got to be at home some of the time, Arn. I thought
I’d come up and stay with you from Monday to Saturday and then go back
to Greenhaven until Tuesday.”

“Oh, feathers! Well, all right, but if you’re going to do that you’ve
got to stay with me until day after to-morrow.”

Toby smiled and shook his head. “I can’t, Arn, honestly. I wrote mother
I’d be back to-morrow afternoon. Besides, I haven’t anything to wear
except what I’ve got on. Everything else is in my trunk.”

“You don’t need anything else. If you did I could lend it to you. Have
a heart, Toby. Why, I haven’t seen you for more than a minute at a time
for a whole week!”

“That wasn’t my fault, Arn. You knew where to find me.”

“Of course, but it’s no fun sitting up in your attic and watching you
press trousers or mess around with smelly stuff on the roof. Say, I
wrote dad to get some tickets to the theater for to-night. Wonder what
he will get them for. I’m going to buy a paper and see what the shows
are.”

When Arnold had disappeared down the aisle Toby produced a pocket-book
and gravely and a trifle anxiously examined the contents. To-morrow
he meant to go shopping for presents for the folks in Greenhaven, and
the subject of funds was an important one. The pocket-book held four
folded bills and quite a pile of silver and small coins, but when
Toby had carefully counted it all up the result was not reassuring.
He had his fare to Greenhaven to pay to-morrow, his fare to New York
on Monday, his fare back to Greenhaven the last of the week, and,
finally, his fare all the way to Wissining the following Tuesday.
He would not, he thought grimly, be riding in a parlor car on that
return trip! The funds in hand consisted of exactly twelve dollars and
forty-eight cents. Toby replaced the pocket-book, drew out a little
black memorandum and a pencil and proceeded to figure. He frowned
frequently during the procedure, and once he sighed disappointedly.
After traveling expenses had been allowed for only seven dollars and
a half remained, and seven dollars and a half wasn’t nearly as much
as he had hoped to be able to expend for Christmas presents. Why, the
shaving set he had meant to give his father would cost all of five
dollars, and that would leave but two dollars and a half with which to
purchase presents for his mother and his sister Phebe and Long Tim and
Shorty Joe and――Oh dear, he had quite forgotten Arnold!

He turned some pages in the memorandum book and read thoughtfully down
the list of items there. “Beech, .85; Framer, .30; Williams, .45; Hove,
.15; Lamson, 1.05; Hurd, .45.” He stopped, although there were more
entries, and went back to that Lamson item. Frank was on the train
somewhere and perhaps he might be persuaded to pay up. He had owed most
of that dollar-five since October and ought to be willing to settle. If
he had that it would help considerably. And perhaps he could find Beech
too. He considered a minute and then left his seat and surveyed the
car. There was quite a sprinkling of fellows he knew by sight or well
enough to speak to there, but Frank Lamson was not of them. He started
off toward the rear of the train. Near the door he spoke to a boy in a
shiny derby and a wonderful brown overcoat.

“Hello, Tucker! What say? Frank Lamson? Yes, I saw him on the platform.
He’s here somewhere, I guess. Unless he got left!” Jim Rose chuckled.
“But I don’t suppose he did. I never knew him to!”

Toby passed on to the next car and wormed his way between boys and
bags, nodding occasionally, speaking once or twice, but without success
until he sighted a tall, thin youth of eighteen who sat with his long
legs almost doubled to his chin, reading a paper. Toby leaned over the
back of his chair. “I say, Beech, would it be convenient for you to
let me have that eighty-five cents? I’m sort of short just now, or I
wouldn’t ask you for it.”

Grover Beech looked up a bit startledly from the morning paper. “Eh?
Oh, that you, Tucker? Eighty-five cents?” Beech’s countenance grew
troubled. “I’m awfully afraid I can’t, old man. I’m just about stone
broke. Tell you what, though; I’ll send it to you to-morrow.” Perhaps
the expression of disappointment on Toby’s face touched him then, for
he hesitated, thrust a hand into his pocket and brought it out filled
with change. “Never mind,” he said. “I’ve got it here, I guess. If I
run short I’ll make a touch somewhere. Here you are. Fifty, sixty,
seventy――mind some coppers?――eighty――and five is eighty-five. That
right?”

“Yes, thanks. I wouldn’t have asked for it, only――”

“That’s all right, old man.” Beech waved a slim hand. “Glad to pay
when I can. When I get back I’ll start another bill! Merry Christmas,
Tucker. Say, where do you live, eh?”

“Greenhaven, Long Island,” replied Toby, carefully scoring out the item
of indebtedness in his little book and then as carefully dropping the
coins into his purse.

“That’s near by, eh? Lucky guy! I’ve got to go all the way to
Baltimore. Beastly trip. Be good, Tucker. So long!”

Encouraged, Toby continued his explorations. Half-way along the next
car he discovered his quarry. Frank Lamson, a big-framed youth of
sixteen, with very black hair and dark eyes in a good-looking if
somewhat saturnine face, was seated on the arm of a chair, one of
a group of four or five who were laughing and chatting together.
Toby hesitated about broaching the subject of his errand under the
circumstances, but Frank happened to look up at the moment and greeted
him.

“Hello, Toby,” he called in his usual patronizing and slightly ironical
way. “How’s business? Pressing?”

The joke won laughter from the others of the group, one boy, seated on
an upturned suit-case, almost losing his balance. Toby smiled. The joke
was an old one and he had become used to smiling at it.

“No,” he replied, “business isn’t pressing, Frank, but bills are. I
wish you’d let me have a dollar and five cents, will you? I need some
money pretty badly.”

Frank Lamson frowned and then laughed. “So do I, Toby, old scout. Need
it like anything. Bet you a dollar I need it more than you do.”

“I don’t believe you do,” answered Toby soberly. “I wouldn’t ask you
for it, Frank, but I’m pretty short――”

“You’ll grow, Tucker,” said the boy on the suit-case, with a giggle.

“Toby,” said Frank blandly, “I’d pay you in a minute if I had the
money. But I’ve only just got enough to get home on. As it is, I’ll
probably have to borrow from the butler to pay the taxi man! I’ll
settle up right after vacation, though, honest Injun. How’ll that do?”

“I’d rather have it now,” replied Toby, “or some of it. Suppose you pay
fifty cents on account?”

“Fifty cents! My word, the fellow talks like a millionaire! Say, Toby,
if you’re short go and borrow some from Arnold. He’s simply rolling in
wealth. He always is. And, say, if he comes across, touch him for a
couple of dollars for me, will you?”

“Me, too,” laughed another boy.

“I wish you would, Frank,” said Toby earnestly. “Honest, I do need the
money. And――and you’ve been owing it for some time now, you know.”

“Oh, cut it, Tucker!” exclaimed Frank crossly. “This is no time to
dun a chap for a few pennies. Why didn’t you come around last week if
you needed it so much? Besides, that last job of cleaning you did was
beastly. Every spot came right back again. I’ll leave it to Watkins.
You saw the suit, didn’t you, Chet?”

Watkins, a stout youth who wore a pair of rubber-rimmed spectacles and
looked like a rather stupid owl, nodded obediently. “Rotten job, I’d
call it,” he murmured.

Toby flushed. “I’m sorry,” he answered stiffly. “If you’d brought the
things back again――”

“I had to wear them. But you oughtn’t to charge me fifty cents for a
bum job like that. Still, I’ll pay――later. Cut along now, old scout.
Don’t obtrude vulgar money matters on such a gladsome occasion, what?”

Toby hesitated. Then: “All right, Frank,” he said quietly. “Sorry I
troubled you. Hope you have a Merry Christmas.”

“Same to you, Toby! Just remind me of that little matter when we get
back, will you?” He winked at the audience and elicited grins. “I mean
well, but I’m awfully forgetful. Bye, bye, honey!”

When Toby got back to his seat he found Arnold very busy with his New
York paper, and for the next ten minutes they discussed theaters. Toby,
however, was thinking more of the financial problem that confronted him
than of the evening’s amusement, and Arnold found him disappointingly
unresponsive when he dwelt on the possibility of seeing this play or
that. In the end he tossed the paper aside and acknowledged the truth
of Toby’s remark to the effect that it didn’t do any good deciding
what play he wanted to see most if his father had already purchased
the tickets. For his part, Toby added, he would enjoy anything, for he
had never been to a real theater but twice in his life. That afforded
Arnold an opportunity to reminisce, which he did for a good ten minutes
while Toby pretended to listen but was in reality wondering how to make
eight dollars and thirty-five cents do the work of fifteen!

Arnold Deering was sixteen years old, Toby’s senior by one year. He was
a good-looking chap, with the good looks produced by regularly formed
features such as a straight nose, a rounded chin, brown eyes well apart
and a high forehead made seemingly higher by brushing the dark brown
hair straight back from it. Arnold’s hair always looked as if he had
arisen from a barber’s chair the moment before. Some of the summer’s
tan still remained, and altogether Arnold looked healthy, normal and
likable. He was fairly tall and rather slender, but there was well
developed muscle under the smooth skin and his slimness was that of the
athlete in training.

Later, by which time the train was running smoothly through the winter
fields and woods of Larchmont and Pelham, Toby told of Orson Crowell’s
visit and their talk, and Arnold’s eyes opened very wide. “Why, that’s
bully!” he exclaimed. “If Orson talked that way, Toby, he means to help
you. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took you on the scrub team if you
showed any sort of playing. He doesn’t often go out of his way to be
nice to fellows. I call that lucky! Of course you’ll have a try, after
what he told you!”

“I’d like to, but it would take a lot of time, Arn. You know I didn’t
go to Yardley just to play hockey and things. I――I’ve got to make
enough money to come back next year.”

“Oh, piffle, Toby! What does an hour’s practice in the afternoon amount
to? Besides, you played football, and that took more time than hockey.
Don’t be an idiot. Why, say, I’ll bet you anything you like that you’ll
find yourself on the scrub before the season’s over. And that would be
doing mighty well for a fourth class fellow! You’d be almost sure of
making the school team next year, Toby!”

“But how do I know I could play hockey? I can skate pretty well; just
ordinary skating, you know, without any frills――”

“You don’t need the frills in hockey. What you need is to be able to
stay on your feet and skate hard and――and be a bit tricky.”

“Tricky?”

“Yes, I mean able to dodge and make a fellow think you’re going to do
one thing and then do another. But staying on your feet is the main
thing.”

“And the hardest, I guess. Crowell seemed to think I could play goal,
as he called it.”

“We-ell, maybe,” responded Arnold cautiously. “Goal, to my mind, is the
toughest position on the team. You wouldn’t have to skate so much, but
you’d have to be mighty quick on your feet. And mighty cool, too. But I
guess you’d be cool, all right. I never saw you really excited yet!”

“How about the time we went after the thieves that stole the Trainors’
launch that time and they tried to pot us from the beach?” laughed
Toby.

“Huh! You weren’t excited even then! And I guess a fellow that can stay
cool when the bullets are knocking chips off the boat can keep his
head even when nine or ten wild Indians are banging into the net and
slashing his feet with their sticks! Blessed if I don’t believe Orson
Crowell’s right, Toby! I guess you’re a born goal-tend!”

“You and Crowell are sort of jumping at conclusions, I guess,” replied
Toby. “I’m not even certain I could stop a puck if it came at me.”

“Sure you could. It isn’t hard.”

“You just said it was!”

“Well, I mean it isn’t hard when you know how. Anyway, you’re going to
report for hockey the day we get back if I have to lug you all the way
to the rink!”

“Think there’ll be ice by that time?” asked Toby.

“I don’t know. It doesn’t look like it now. It’s been an awfully mild
sort of winter so far. I wish it would snow for Christmas, don’t you?
Christmas doesn’t seem like Christmas without snow. I’ll bet it’s dandy
around your place in winter, eh?”

“There’s plenty of winter,” laughed Toby. “It gets frightfully cold
over there sometimes. Arn, if your father will let you you’ll come over
for a few days, won’t you?”

“Surest thing you know,” replied the other promptly. “I’ve promised six
or eight times, haven’t I? But he won’t, I guess. You see, since mother
died, dad likes to have me around at Christmas and times like that.
Still, he might. We’ll ask him to-night, eh?”

“All right. Isn’t this the tunnel? We’d better get our coats on, hadn’t
we? Don’t you let me get lost when we get in there!”



CHAPTER III

THE MAN IN THE BROWN OVERCOAT


Arnold’s house was only a five-minute ride from the station, and Toby,
to whom the city was unfamiliar and vastly entertaining, wished it
had been farther. His enjoyment of the sights, however, was somewhat
dampened by the seeming recklessness of the taxi-cab driver, and more
than once he started to his feet to be ready to meet death standing.
It kept Arnold quite busy pulling him back to the seat. Arnold’s Aunt
Alice, who, since his mother’s death, had kept house for Mr. Deering,
was the only one to welcome them, aside from the servants, for Arnold’s
father did not return from his down town office until the middle of
the afternoon. Toby was conducted by Arnold and a man-servant with
a striped waistcoat and a maid-servant with apron and cap and Aunt
Alice’s spaniel, San Toy, into an elevator, past two floors, along
a hall and at last into a great wonderful room that quite took his
breath away. It was all very exciting and confusing and jolly, and San
Toy, entering into the spirit of the occasion, barked so hard that
he lifted his front paws from the floor! And after the servants had
deposited the bags and coats and gone away, Arnold pulled Toby through
a door into his own room adjoining and they looked from the windows
over a vast expanse of trees and lawn and winding paths and shimmering
lakes which Arnold said was Central Park and which Toby accepted
as such and vowed that he could never tire of looking at it. After
luncheon they went for a walk there, but soon hurried back to the house
to meet Mr. Deering who had telephoned that he would be home an hour
earlier than usual.

Arnold’s father was so nice to Toby and seemed so glad to have him
there that Toby forgot much of the embarrassment that had affected
him on his arrival and actually found himself sitting down in a big
velvet-cushioned chair without, for once, wondering whether he would
damage it! Mr. Deering was rather stout, with grizzled hair and a most
carefully trimmed mustache. Toby fancied that he could be very crisp
and even stern in his office, but at home he was jovial and kindly
and one might easily have concluded that for the time at least he had
nothing in the world to do but invent and provide amusement for the two
eager-eyed boys just out of school. The big limousine car was summoned,
and every one, including Aunt Alice and San Toy, piled into it, and
were whisked away northward over smooth pavements, along a blue-gray
river, over a great bridge and into the country. Long before they
turned back the sun had gone down behind sullen clouds and when they
reached the town again the lights were twinkling down the long streets.
And then, to Arnold’s loudly expressed delight, when they got out of
the car at the house little flecks of snow were falling and the evening
had grown quite cold. From that time until dinner was ready Arnold made
frequent trips to the windows and always returned with the cheering
news that “it was still at it.”

A wonderful dinner that! Toby, viewing so many forks and knives and
spoons and plates with dire misgiving, felt extremely uneasy for
the first few minutes for fear he might use the wrong utensil. But
Aunt Alice came to his rescue. “It doesn’t matter, Toby,” she said,
“which fork or spoon you use. I don’t think Arnold ever gets them
just right himself.” And Mr. Deering laughingly suggested that Toby
might follow the example of the man who, finding himself left with two
unused spoons, saved the situation by dropping them in his pocket!
After dinner the car rolled up again and they went off to the theater.
To Arnold’s joy the play was the one he had decided he wanted most
to see, and Mr. Deering gravely explained the coincidence by mental
telepathy and got Toby very interested and astonished before the latter
discovered that it was just a joke. But perhaps Toby didn’t enjoy that
play! It was absolutely beautiful and astounding and thrilling from
the rise of the first curtain to the lamentable fall of the last, and,
although to prolong the gayety they stopped at a gorgeous restaurant
and ate things, Toby couldn’t remember afterwards what he had had, or
much of anything except the play. He would have stayed awake half the
rest of the night――it was already well past midnight when they reached
home again――talking it over with Arnold if that unfeeling brute hadn’t
fallen to sleep almost immediately.

They awoke in the morning, frightfully and deliciously late, to find
the world carpeted with a good inch of snow. From the windows of
Arnold’s room on the front of the house the scene was like fairyland.
Or so, at least, Toby declared. Every branch of every tree and shrub in
the Park was frosted with snow and what had been grass yesterday was
this morning an unsullied expanse of white. But to Arnold’s disgust the
sun was out, shining brilliantly if frostily, and already the streets
were almost bare. Toby, though, declined to be down-hearted, reminding
his chum that it would probably snow again to-morrow, and Arnold, on
that understanding, concluded that life still held a faint promise of
happiness and decided to get dressed and have some breakfast.

But they didn’t spend much time at the table. One isn’t extremely
hungry at nine if one has supped at midnight, and, besides, both boys
were eager to get out of doors. To Toby this forenoon was an important
occasion, for he was to do his Christmas shopping, and when a chap has
all of eight dollars to spend just as he sees fit he doesn’t care to
waste much time on such every-day things as breakfasts!

They traveled downtown on the top of a bus, missing very little of the
brilliant pageant set before them. The holiday spirit was in the air
and the very city itself seemed sensible of the season’s significance.
The sunlight shone dazzlingly on patches of wet pavement, above
the roofs clouds of white steam billowed up against a blue sky and
everywhere was color and life. The windows of the shops were gorgeous
with holiday displays and on all sides the scarlet of holly berries
and the green of fir and pine met the eager eyes of the boys. The
street was a solid stream of moving vehicles, dashing motor cars,
lumbering busses, sedate carriages, rattling delivery wagons. Nickel
and brass and shining varnish caught the sunlight. It was three days
to Christmas, but one might have thought from the hurry and bustle of
the busy shoppers that that important occasion was due no later than
to-morrow. Toby was very thrilled and very excited by the time they
disembarked, seemingly at the risk of their lives, at Thirty-fourth
Street, and Arnold, although far more accustomed to the inspiring
scene, found himself in a truly holiday mood.

Arnold was postponing his own shopping until the next day in order
that Toby, who was to continue on to Greenhaven in the afternoon, might
have the services of his advice and assistance. Toby had ruefully
confided to his chum that his capital was small and Arnold had decided
that Fifth Avenue was not the place for purchasing. So, when they had
gained the sidewalk in safety by what appeared to Toby nothing short
of a miracle, they started away along the cross streets. They didn’t
make very rapid progress, though, for Toby found something fascinating
in nearly every window, and more than once Arnold discovered himself
alone and had to retrace his steps and drag the other away from rapt
contemplation of a marvelous display. Toby’s unbounded admiration and
wonder pleased Arnold, and the latter thoroughly enjoyed exhibiting the
marvels of his city to his friend. They were about midway of the block
when Arnold missed Toby for perhaps the sixth time. He turned back, but
none of the near-by windows reflected the countenance of T. Tucker.
Arnold was about reaching the conclusion that Toby was lost when he
suddenly caught a glimpse of that youth standing by the curbing. Arnold
fought his way back to him. Toby was talking to a seedy looking man
whose unshaven face and watery, shifty eyes inspired Arnold with
anything but confidence. But he reached the scene too late, for Toby
was already returning his purse to his pocket when Arnold seized his
arm.

“Don’t be a chump, Toby,” he said impatiently. “That fellow’s got more
money right now than you have. How much did you give him?”

“Only a quarter,” replied Toby gravely. “He hasn’t had anything to eat
for two days, and his wife’s sick and――”

“I know! His grandmother’s broken a leg and all his children have
scarlet fever! Gee, you oughtn’t to be trusted around this burg with
any money in your pocket. The man’s a professional beggar, you idiot!”

Toby looked both shocked and incredulous. “I don’t think so, Arn,” he
protested. “If you’d heard him――”

“I’ve heard lots of them,” returned the other impatiently. “You stay
with me after this and keep your hand out of your pocket. If you’re
going to give money to all the beggars that ask for it, you won’t have
a cent when you get into a store!”

“I just couldn’t help giving him a little,” said Toby. “Did you notice
that he didn’t have any overcoat? Why, his hands were blue with the
cold, Arn!”

“Yes, and his nose was red with it――or something else. Toby, you’re an
awful green little yap, that’s what you are!”

“What’s a yap?” asked Toby untroubledly.

“It’s what you are,” laughed Arnold. “Come on in here and see what we
can do. This is as reasonable as any place, I guess.”

They pushed through a revolving door and found themselves in a big
department store that was just about twice as crowded as the sidewalk
had been. Arnold found a magnificent gentleman in a long black frock
coat and asked his way to the cutlery department. While they were
receiving directions some one tugged at Toby’s coat, or seemed to,
and he looked around. A man with a stubbly red mustache muttered an
apology and pushed past, and Toby smiled forgivingly and followed
Arnold through the throng. He had decided a week ago to pay as much as
five dollars for a shaving set for his father, but that was before his
discovery that just before Christmas was a bad time for collections!
Now his limit was three dollars and he doubted that that amount
would buy anything nice enough. But when the salesman began to place
the goods before them on the counter Toby took heart. It was simply
wonderful what you could get for a dollar and ninety-eight cents in
this place! In the end he decided on a set costing two dollars and
seventy-five cents――there was none for exactly three dollars――and
put his hand into an overcoat pocket to get his purse out. The hand
returned empty. The other hand went into the other pocket and fared no
better and a look of surprise bordering on alarm overspread the boy’s
countenance.

“What’s the matter?” asked Arnold.

“I can’t find――my purse,” gasped Toby, both hands probing diligently.

“You wouldn’t have it there, would you?” asked Arnold anxiously. “Try
your trousers, why don’t you?”

“I――I’m pretty sure I dropped it into my overcoat pocket after I gave
that man the quarter.” Toby searched his other pockets, however, to
make certain, but without success. “It’s gone!” he announced in utter
dismay, staring blankly at his friend.

“Some one pinched it,” said Arnold, with conviction. “What the dickens
did you ever put it in an outside pocket for? Didn’t you know that
there were pickpockets in the world?”

“I――I guess I didn’t think,” murmured Toby disconsolately, still
dipping unavailingly into various parts of his clothing. “It――it’s
clean gone, anyway. Here’s where I put it.”

“That was a swell place,” said Arnold scathingly. “Here, I’ll pay for
this and you can pay me back some time.”

The salesman, sympathetic but a trifle impatient, started to accept
Arnold’s money, but Toby interfered. “No, please, Arn! I’d rather not,
thanks. I’ve lost my money and it’s my own fault and――”

“But you’ve got to buy your presents! We’ll go down to the office and
get some more from dad. I’ve only got about three and a half.”

“I’d rather not. I couldn’t pay it back for a long while. I’ll just
have to tell the folks what happened, Arn. They won’t mind――much――when
they understand.”

“But why not let me loan you enough for the razor set, anyway? You
don’t need to pay me back for a year, you silly chump!”

But Toby was obdurate. “I――maybe I’ll come back for that later,” he
told the salesman apologetically. “Thanks for your trouble.”

“That’s all right,” returned the man heartily. “It’s too bad you lost
it. You didn’t feel anything, did you? I mean you wouldn’t know where
it happened?”

Toby’s eyes narrowed and he stared for a moment straight ahead.
Then, before Arnold could stop him, he had turned and was plunging
determinedly through the crowd. Arnold hurried after him, sighting him
now and then and finally reaching him near the entrance.

“Where are you going?” panted Arnold, seizing the other by the arm.

“I don’t know,” answered Toby thoughtfully. “Listen, Arn. While you
were asking that man where the razors were I felt something tug at my
coat and I looked around and there was a man pushing by me. He said he
was sorry or something and――and beat it. I’ll bet you anything he did
it!”

“Of course he did! But what of it? You don’t expect to find him waiting
for you to come back, do you?”

Toby shook his head doubtfully. “No, I guess not. Only I thought he
might be still around here. I’d know him in a minute if I saw him.
Don’t you think that maybe if we sort of walked around and kept our
eyes open we might find him?”

“No, I certainly don’t,” said Arnold decidedly. “As soon as he got that
purse of yours he hiked out for some other place, naturally.”

“Oh!” murmured Toby disappointedly. “Where do you think he went?”

“Great Scott! How do I know? He might be just around the corner or he
may be a mile away by this time. You might just as well make up your
mind to doing without that money, Toby. I’m awfully sorry, old man. And
I do wish you’d let me lend you some. It’s perfectly silly not to. If
it was I who had lost my purse I’d take a loan from you in a minute.”

Toby smiled wanly at the idea of lending money to Arnold. Then the
smile faded and he said: “Gee, I needed that eight dollars, Arn.
It――it’s tough, isn’t it?”

“It certainly is, Toby. I’m as sorry as anything. Hang it, if you
hadn’t been crazy enough to hand out money to a beggar it wouldn’t have
happened. After this――”

“I know, but there won’t be any after this. Look here, Arn, I wish
you’d let me have a dime and then run along home. I want to look around
a bit and there’s no use dragging you around too. Will you?”

“Look around? You mean you want to look for the chap who swiped your
purse? That’s crazy, Toby, honestly. You haven’t got one chance in a
hundred, one chance in ten thousand, of ever seeing him again.”

“Maybe not, but――but I’d sort of like to try, Arn. You slip me a dime
and――”

“Slip you nothing! If you must make a silly ass of yourself I’ll stick
around with you. Where do you want to go first?”

“Where’s the nearest big store like this?”

“I don’t know, but we can go and look for it. Do you think he’ll be
there?”

“He might be. You see, if he did so well here he might think he ought
to stick to department stores, and he’d probably take the next one.
Wouldn’t you argue about like that, Arn?”

“Maybe I would, if I were a pickpocket,” chuckled Arnold. “All right,
old man. Come on. Only I warn you right now that you’re only starting
on a wild goose chase, so don’t be disappointed, Toby.”

“I shan’t be,” answered Toby soberly. On the sidewalk he left Arnold
and addressed the carriage-man on the curb. “He says,” he announced
when he rejoined his chum, “that there’s another big store just a
little way along here. It’s the nearest, so I guess we’d better go
there first.”

“First? You don’t mean that you intend to make the round of all the
department stores, do you?”

“I guess there wouldn’t be time for that,” answered Toby, shaking his
head. “You see, my train leaves at three-forty. Besides, I guess that
fellow with the red mustache would get tired, or maybe he’d make so
much money by dinner time he’d just naturally quit. If he got eight
dollars from every one he tackled he’d be mighty well off by noon,
wouldn’t he?”

“Toby, you’re an awful idiot,” laughed Arnold affectionately as he took
him by the arm and steered him along the street. “I’ll let you play
detective till a quarter to one. Then you’ve got to give up and come
home to luncheon.”

“All right. I dare say we can do half a dozen stores by that time.
Listen, Arn, I’ll tell you what the man looked like so you can be on
the watch too, eh? He was short and sort of slim, and he wore a brown
overcoat with a velvet collar, and he had a reddish mustache cut close
and sort of bristly, and he wore a slouch hat.”

“A what?”

“A slouch hat; a soft one, you know; felt. It was dark; I think either
black or dark gray.”

“Well, that’s a pretty good description considering you only saw him
for a second,” applauded Arnold as they entered the store. “We’d better
keep out of sight as much as we can, because if he spotted us first
he’d suspect something and run. Let’s go around here and work back and
then come down the next aisle, and so on. Shall we?”

“I――I don’t know about that,” responded the other. “Seems to me he’d
be likely to stay around where the crowd was thickest, and perhaps he’d
try to keep near a door in case he had to――to leave hurriedly.”

“That’s so, Toby. You’re a regular Sherlock Holmes! All right. The
crowd’s about as thick right here as it is anywhere. Have a look. Do
you see him?” Arnold was beginning to enjoy the task now and tried to
look as much like his conception of a sleuth as he could. Toby, backed
against a counter at one side of the big entrance peered and craned for
several minutes, but finally announced that he didn’t see the quarry.
So they began a pilgrimage of the lower floor, pausing wherever the
crowd was densest. Near the elevators they found a point of vantage
and spent quite ten minutes but without result other than being pushed
and elbowed and trod on. From there they went on to the foot of a
central stairway and again took up their watch. But no red-mustached,
brown-overcoated individual rewarded their sight, although they both
more than once thrilled with the prospect of success at sight of a
brown garment in the throng. They spent more than half an hour in
that store, and Arnold’s enthusiasm was waning fast by the time Toby
acknowledged defeat and led the way toward the big doorway.

“I guess it’s no use,” sighed Toby. “He’s a goner. And so’s my money.”

“Well, I told you that in the first place,” said Arnold, just a trifle
peevishly by reason of having been shoved around and bumped into until
he felt, as he told himself, like a wreck. “Want to try any other
place? It’s nearly twelve and――”

He stopped suddenly, for Toby’s hand was gripping his arm painfully.
“_There he is!_” whispered Toby. “_Look! Over by the umbrellas!_”



CHAPTER IV

THE CAPTURE


Arnold’s gaze sped in the direction indicated, but for an instant the
crowd interfered. “Are you sure?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes,” whispered Toby. “I saw him! Now look, Arn!”

Well, whether he was the man who had taken Toby’s purse or not, at
least he tallied surprisingly with Toby’s description. He was standing
with his back to the counter in front of a fan-shaped display of
ladies’ umbrellas, looking impatiently and frowningly about him for
all the world like a man kept waiting at an appointment. So well did
he look the part, in fact, that Arnold was quite certain that Toby
must be wrong. But a closer examination of the man convinced him that
he was only acting, for the eyes under the pulled-down brim of a black
felt hat darted swiftly hither and thither, reminding Arnold too much
of a hawk. Some twenty feet of aisle space, crowded with shoppers,
separated the boys from the man in the brown overcoat, and it was
only by raising himself on his tiptoes that Arnold could catch brief
glimpses of the latter.

“What are you going to do?” Arnold whispered excitedly.

Toby deliberated. Then he shook his head. “I don’t know. If there was a
policeman here――”

“They have detectives in these stores, I think,” said the other. “Only
I don’t know how a fellow would know one if he saw him.”

“I might keep an eye on him while you found a policeman,” suggested
Toby, doubtfully.

“Suppose he went off before I got the officer, though?”

“That’s the trouble. We might ask a clerk to send for one, or――or find
the proprietor――”

But the man in the brown overcoat settled the matter then and there by
leaving his place at the counter and mingling with the outgoing throng.
More by luck than anything else, Arnold saw and tugged Toby’s coat
sleeve. “Come on!” he said quickly. “He’s going!”

The boys hurried toward the door, or tried to hurry, but their quarry
was lost to sight for a moment and when they reached the sidewalk
nothing was to be seen of him.

“Which way?” demanded Arnold.

Toby, craning his head, dodging about, pushed and scowled at, was at
a loss, and the adventure would have ended there and then had not
Arnold’s gaze caught a brief flash of light brown between the jostling
throng. “I think I see him,” he cried. “Come on, Toby!” He pushed his
way to the edge of the broad sidewalk, Toby following at his heels,
just in time to see the man disappear behind a car at the far side
of the street. Without pause they dashed after. That they escaped
injury in the seething traffic was only by the veriest good fortune.
An automobile almost ran them down half-way across, a trolley car
ground its brakes in seeming chagrin as they leaped out of its path,
and, after that, they were forced to remain marooned between track and
curbing for many moments before a tiny break in the line of vehicles
allowed them to squeeze through.

As might have been expected, by the time they found themselves on the
sidewalk, very much out of breath, the brown overcoat was once more
gone from view, and although they gazed up and down the street no
glimpse of it rewarded them. Toby’s countenance took on an expression
of despair that was almost ludicrous and Arnold fretted and fumed.

“If we hadn’t been held up out there we’d have caught him,” he declared
as they stood undecidedly on the edge of the sidewalk. “Now he’s gone
for good, I guess.”

Toby nodded dolorous assent. “I wish I’d just gone up and grabbed hold
of him when I had the chance,” he said. “Which way was he going, do you
think?”

“He wasn’t going any way. He was headed straight across the street.”

“Why, then――” Toby stopped and ran his gaze over the fronts of the
buildings. Almost opposite where they stood was the entrance of a
small, third-rate hotel. “I’ll bet he went in there,” said Toby with
conviction. “Maybe he lives there.”

Arnold viewed the hostelry and shook his head. “I wouldn’t be surprised
if that is just where he went, but I don’t believe he lives there.
Perhaps if we wait awhile he will come out again. What do you think?”

“I guess it’s all we can do,” replied Toby. “But we had better get
out of sight a little more, for if he came out and saw us he might
recognize me and run.”

The suggestion was a good one since this side of the thoroughfare was
far less crowded and their present position was in fair view of the
entrance. So they retired to a near-by doorway from which, by peering
around the corner of a plate-glass window, they could watch the hotel
entrance. It promised to be tiresome work and there were all sorts
of things happening every minute to distract their gaze. But Fortune
favored them again and very shortly, for they had been there less than
five minutes when Toby uttered a warning hiss and Arnold, whose gaze
had wandered for an instant, looked around in time to see the man
in the brown overcoat emerge from the hotel. He paused for a moment
outside the doorway and speculatively looked up and down the street.
Finally he turned eastward and strolled unhurriedly toward them. The
boys withdrew further into their doorway, turning their backs and
becoming on the instant extremely interested in the window display. But
the man didn’t even glance in their direction and as soon as he had
passed the boys slipped out from concealment and followed.

During the next seven or eight minutes, which time the man consumed
in reaching the corner, there were many pauses. Their quarry paused
frequently to look into windows or survey the passers. Once he stopped
and backed up against a building while his gaze speculatively followed
two richly-dressed women. But apparently he decided that the women
presented small chance for the display of his talents, for he went on
again. All the time the boys looked anxiously for a policeman, but a
policeman when wanted is an extremely rare thing, and not one appeared
in sight all the way along the block. At the corner the traffic signal
was set at “Stop” and the man in the brown overcoat paused just back
of the curb, one of an impatient throng of a dozen or so persons.
Toby and Arnold stopped at a discreet distance. In the center of the
intersecting thoroughfares, in command of the traffic signal, was a
very tall and very efficient-looking policeman. The boys consulted
hurriedly. Then they advanced toward the man in the brown overcoat. The
northward and southward streams of hurrying vehicles continued. Toby
drew up at the man’s right and Arnold on his other side. It was Toby
who opened negotiations.

“We were going to point you out to the policeman,” he said softly,
trying to keep his voice steady, “but we decided to give you a chance
first.”

The man turned and scowled down with shifty eyes.

“What do you want?” he demanded threateningly.

“My purse and eight dollars and fifty cents,” said Toby. “If you try to
get away we’ll grab you and yell. Keep close, Arn!”

The pickpocket glanced swiftly around at Arnold who was pressing
closely against his left shoulder. Then his eyes darted up and down the
avenue. At that moment the crossing officer’s whistle sounded shrilly
and the signal turned. The little throng by the curb surged forward and
with a sudden dart the man followed. But Toby had seized one arm and
Arnold the other, and not fifty feet away was the policeman. The man
in the brown overcoat tried, with a snarl, to throw off his captors,
but they clung like leeches, and fearing to attract embarrassing
attention the man slowed down to a hurried walk. Three abreast, the
boys clinging affectionately to him, they crossed the street. Once
across the pickpocket stopped of his own choice.

“What is this?” he asked indignantly. “A hold-up?”

“If you want to call it that,” answered Toby steadily. “All I want is
the purse you stole from my pocket in Eastman’s. You hand it over and
we’ll let you go.”

“Aw, I never saw you before,” snarled the man. “Get out of here before
I hand you something, kids. It won’t be no purse, neither!” He tugged
in an effort to free himself from their grasps, but they held on hard.

“Want us to shout?” asked Arnold significantly. The man’s belligerent
gaze wavered. He cast a swift and dubious look toward the officer.

“Well, what is it you want?” he muttered.

“You know,” said Toby. “A small yellow coin-purse with eight dollars
in it. Come on, now. You’d better be sensible.”

“I ain’t got any purse, honest. You can search me, boys!”

“Then you threw it away,” responded Toby. “It cost me seventy-five
cents, but it was sort of ripping on the seams, so we’ll call it fifty.
Eight-fifty is what I want from you then.”

“Well, I’ll be blowed!” said the man with a trace of unwilling
admiration. Then he actually chuckled. “Say, kid, you’ve got your
nerve, all right, ain’t you? Say, I kinder think maybe you ought to
have it. You was decent not to squeal to the cop. All right, kid, you
win! But you got to let go my arms if you want me to dig for it.”

Toby questioned Arnold with a glance. “Give him his right arm, Toby,”
said Arnold. “If he starts to go, grab him again. I’ve got him here.”

“Aw, say, can’t you believe a feller?” asked the man aggrievedly. “I
said I’d loosen up an’ I’ll do it. Gee, you rich guys is the limit!
What’s eight dollars to fellers like you, anyway? Why don’t you give
the rest of us a chance to live?”

He thrust the hand Toby had released between the buttons of his
overcoat and fumbled an instant, while Toby watched narrowly and Arnold
clung like grim death to the other arm.

“Why don’t you pick out an honest way to live?” asked Toby.

The man shrugged his shoulders. “Guess I wasn’t brung up right,” he
answered, with a grin. “It ain’t so easy to walk the straight an’
narrer when you get started all wrong, kid. Here’s your money. I threw
the purse away. It ain’t safe to keep purses around you. Let me have
that other hand so’s I can count it off, can’t you?”

He had brought out a roll of bills quite two inches thick. Toby
hesitated, dubious. “Promise not to run?” he asked finally.

“Word of honor, kid!”

“Let him go, Arn.”

“Thank you, gentlemen,” said the man in the brown overcoat ironically.
“Now then, got fifty cents? Here’s your nine dollars.” He peeled off
a five and four ones and Arnold produced a fifty cent piece and the
exchange was made. As Toby slipped the recovered wealth into an inner
pocket the man said: “That’s right, kid. Let me tell you something.
Don’t never carry money in an outside pocket. Leastways, not in this
town! ’Tain’t safe. An’ it’s an awful temptation to fellers like me. So
long, cullies. Good luck!”

“Good-by,” said Toby.

The man in the brown overcoat smiled, winked, pulled his hat to a new
angle and sauntered off and was soon lost to sight in the throng. Toby
drew a deep sigh of relief and satisfaction.

“Jiminy, Arn, I never thought I’d get that back, did you?”

“I never did, Toby. You certainly were lucky. He wasn’t such a bad sort
after all, was he?”

“N――no.” Toby gazed thoughtfully at the busy scene before them. “I dare
say there’s a lot in what he said, Arn. About getting started right,
I mean. I guess lots of folks wouldn’t be dishonest if they’d had the
right sort of――of bringing up, eh?”

“I guess so. Look here, it’s nearly one o’clock! What’ll you do about
buying your presents?”

“I guess it’s too late now.” Toby’s face fell.

“I tell you what we’ll do. We’ll find a telephone and send word we
won’t be home for luncheon, eh? We’ll get a bite to eat somewhere and
then you can shop until nearly three. You can do a lot in two hours.
What do you say?”

“Would you mind? I’d like awfully to do that.”

“Not a bit. It’ll be fun. I know a place near here where we can get
fine eats. Come on!”

But, although Toby came on, when Arnold turned to speak to him a minute
later he wasn’t there. Impatiently Arnold turned back. Toby had paused
a few yards in the rear.

“For the love of mud, Toby, get a move on, can’t you?” exclaimed
Arnold. “What’s wrong now?”

“Nothing,” was the satisfied response. “I only just stopped to see if
my money was still there. I won’t feel really safe until I’ve spent it,
I guess!”



CHAPTER V

CHRISTMAS DAYS


Arnold had his wish that Christmas, for when Toby awoke on the morning
of the twenty-fifth in his little room under the eaves he found that
a miracle had occurred while he slept. In fact the miracle was still
occurring! Greenhaven was smothered in snow, and big, lazy flakes were
still falling from a leaden, misty void. Harbor Street, as it wound
northward, showed a single line of footprints, and those were fast
being obliterated. The boat yard, across the road, was covered with a
white mantle. Beyond, the Cove was dimly discernible, gray-green. The
stern of a coal-scow peered through the white mist from the end of
Rollinson’s Wharf and a little black fishing boat swung at moorings
near by. It was a white, silent and, to Toby, very wonderful world that
met the sight that Christmas morning. But Toby didn’t linger long at
his window, for the room was cold. Instead, wondering whether Arnold
had discovered the snow yet, and deciding, with a chuckle, that he
hadn’t, since it was only seven and Arnold was not a very early riser
when at home, he hurried into his clothes and was presently on his way
down the creaky staircase.

Appetizing odors came from the kitchen, but the dining-room was
deserted save for Mr. Murphy. Mr. Murphy’s greeting was a strident
“Hello, dearie! Won’t you come in and take off your bonnet?” After
which he sidled lumbersomely along his perch, put his head coyly on one
side and chuckled.

“Hello, you old scoundrel,” said Toby. “Merry Christmas to you.” He
rubbed the parrot’s head with a finger and Mr. Murphy closed his beady
eyes and enjoyed it. Toby was glad there was no one there, for it gave
him an opportunity to place the packages he had brought around the
table. Others, he saw, had been ahead of him, for already each plate
held its quota of mysterious parcels tied with red ribbon. Then Phebe
came in from the kitchen and Mr. Tucker stamped in from outdoors and
Christmas greetings mingled, while Mr. Murphy, who loved excitement,
bobbed about on his perch and cried “All hands stand by!” and “Come to
breakfast! Come to breakfast! Come to breakfast!” And in the middle of
the hubbub appeared Toby’s mother bearing a big platter, and a minute
later they were all seated at the table.

That was a very merry meal. One after another the packages were
undone and the contents exclaimed upon and passed from hand to hand
to be admired and every one quite forgot to eat anything until all
the presents had been opened. Mr. Tucker was very much pleased with
his shaving set, and Phebe, who was thirteen and fast becoming a very
pretty young lady, wound the blue-and-white silk scarf Toby had given
her round her throat and refused to be parted from it. Toby’s gift
to his mother was a pair of gloves which Mrs. Tucker declared very
much too fine for her. The fact that they were a full size too small
was not divulged. Toby’s own presents were simple and practical;
a dressing-gown and handkerchiefs from his mother and sister, a
five-dollar gold piece from his father, a pair of woolen mittens from
Long Tim and a watch-fob of braided leather from Shorty Joe. Tim and
Joe worked in Mr. Tucker’s boat yard. When, later in the day, Billy
Plank, the postman, plowed up to the door, there was another gift
for Toby. Of course he guessed right away who it was from, and his
guess proved right. There was a card on top of the little blue box
which read: “Merry Christmas to Toby from Arnold.” When the layer of
cotton had been removed, as well as much white tissue paper, the gift
resolved itself into a pair of gold cuff-links with the letters T.
T. intertwined on them. Of course, as Toby said, they were much too
expensive for his use, but they pleased him immensely and he carried
them around in his pocket all day and viewed them proudly at intervals.
By comparison, his gift to Arnold, an inexpensive little leather case
for pins and studs, looked rather mean, but he was much too sensible to
be worried over it.

After breakfast he set out to visit Long Tim and Shorty Joe and deliver
the presents he had brought them, two ties of most remarkable hues
which, judged solely as color effects, had been stupendously cheap at
thirty-seven cents apiece! Fortunately, as Toby well knew, both Joe
and Tim were fond of bright colors, and his gifts were received with
open-eyed admiration. It was almost noon when he at last got away
from Shorty Joe, who had much to tell him of happenings during his
three months’ absence from Greenhaven. They weren’t very important
happenings, but they were of interest to Toby. Dinner was at two
o’clock, and Toby’s Uncle Benedict and Aunt Sarah, from Good Ground,
arrived a few minutes before, Aunt Sarah bringing him a pair of worsted
gloves which she had knitted. Toby was sorry that he had neglected to
provide a gift for her, but Aunt Sarah didn’t appear to notice the
omission. Dinner was a very jolly and very hearty affair, and after it
was over, Toby, resisting a desire to go to sleep, persuaded Phebe to
don her new muffler and go for a walk with him. It was getting well
along toward dusk by that time and the snow, which had fallen steadily
since before midnight, had almost stopped. They took the road through
the town and then turned up the hill behind the little village from
which a wonderful view of Spanish Harbor and the bay lay before them.
They had lots to talk about and Phebe was full of questions regarding
Toby’s school adventures. On the way back they met two of Toby’s
friends, Billy Conners and Gus Whalen, and the quartette went on to
the little white cottage around the end of the Cove and satisfied
surprisingly vigorous hungers with slices of cold turkey and cranberry
tarts.

Toby returned to New York Monday afternoon and spent a glorious four
days with Arnold. They went twice to theaters, had several sleigh rides
far out into the country, patronized the “movies” two afternoons,
explored the Park, lunched one day with Arnold’s father at a sumptuous
club and, in short, were busy every moment and went to bed each night
so tired that they fell asleep the instant their heads touched the
pillows.

On Friday Arnold went back to Greenhaven with Toby and shared the
latter’s none too generous bed, since a guest chamber was something the
little house didn’t boast, until Sunday. A sharp breeze Friday night
provided fair skating on the marsh and it was on Saturday that Toby
received his first instruction in the duties of a hockey player. They
had no hockey sticks and so they used two lengths of wood that Long
Tim cut for them in the boat shed and a block of mahogany. Toby found
that while he could out-skate his chum in a straight-away race, the
latter could out-maneuver him with ease. Arnold could stop and turn
and dodge with the quickness of a cat! Toby’s efforts to emulate him
resulted in many laughable and sometimes jarring upsets. Perhaps that
lesson didn’t increase his knowledge beyond showing him what a lot
he had to learn, but it provided a heap of fun. Sunday morning they
tramped over to the Head, through a biting easterly gale, and Arnold,
who had provided himself with the key of his father’s summer house
there, rummaged through the dark rooms for an elusive baseman’s glove.
Eventually it came to light, but not before the two boys were pretty
well chilled through. They tried to light a fire in the kitchen range
to warm themselves by before setting out on the return journey, but the
range absolutely refused to draw and they had finally to flee, choking
and coughing from the smoke that billowed through the cracks. Half-way
back Arnold suddenly began to laugh and in answer to Toby’s concerned
inquiries explained that the reason the stove hadn’t drawn was because
the chimney-tops were carefully covered, a fact which he had forgotten
until the moment!

Arnold went home in the afternoon, Toby and Phebe accompanying him
as far as the station at Riverport. After that the remainder of the
Christmas vacation simply melted away, much as the snow did on Monday
when the easterly gale swept around to the south and a radiant sun
smiled down on the dripping world. It didn’t seem to Toby that he had
been away from Yardley Hall more than a half-dozen days, but here it
was Tuesday and he was on his way back again! But going back wasn’t
unpleasant. On the contrary, if anything had happened to prevent his
going back he would have been a most unhappy youth. There was lots to
look forward to, hockey, amongst other things, for Toby had by now
decided that it was his bounden duty to go to the aid of the School in
its commendable endeavor to turn out a winning seven. As there was a
whole hour and a quarter to spend before he was to meet Arnold at the
station, he set out, not without trepidation, to purchase one of those
invaluable little blue-covered books which tell you how to perform
every sort of athletic stunt from swinging Indian clubs to throwing
a fifty-six-pound weight. Of course Toby wasn’t interested in clubs
or weights just now. What he was after was a handbook on hockey, and
after some searching up and down and across the town, with one eye on
the clock, so to speak, he found it. You may be sure that Toby’s scant
funds lay at the bottom of his most inaccessible pocket. Had he so much
as sighted a brown overcoat he would have run! When Arnold found him he
was sitting in a seat in the waiting-room, his feet on his old yellow
valise and his eyes glued to page 19 of “How to Play Hockey.”

They boarded the ten-forty train and were soon gliding through the long
tunnel on their way back to school and duties. But they didn’t sit in a
parlor car this time. Toby would have none of such luxury, and rather
than be parted from him Arnold shared his seat in a day coach. There
were some twenty or thirty other Yardley fellows on board and the time
went swiftly, and almost before they knew it they were crossing the
little bridge and the school buildings were smiling down welcomingly
from the hill and the trainman was calling “Wissining! Wissining!” at
the top of his voice.

Well, it was good to be back again, Toby thought as, spurning carriages
and valiantly lugging their bags, they set off along the road to
school. Oxford Hall, imposing and a bit grim by reason of its gray
granite walls, met their sight first as they left the tiny village and
started up the hill. At the top of the tall pole in front the flag was
snapping in the brisk breeze. Merle Hall, the home of the Preparatory
Class boys, peered around the corner of Oxford, almost frivolous by
comparison with its red brick and limestone trimming. A moment later,
following the road to the right at the beginning of its wide swing
around the base of the Prospect, as the plateau was called, other
buildings came into sight: Whitson, like Oxford, of granite; Clarke, a
replica of Merle; and, just showing between the other buildings, Dudley
Hall, the exclusive residence of the graduating class. The buildings at
Yardley follow the curve of the Prospect, forming a somewhat stunted
letter J, with the Kingdon Gymnasium, out of sight from the road, doing
duty as the tip of the curve and Dudley set in back like a misplaced
dot. From the gymnasium the ground slopes gently back to the river, and
there is the playing field and the boat house and landing and, further
beyond, a fair nine-hole golf course. Across the river from the field
lies a wide expanse of salt meadow known as Meeker’s Marsh. A little
way upstream is Flat Island and a little further downstream is Loon
Island. And not far from Loon Island is the footbridge that connects
Wissining with Greenburg and the railway bridge across which trains
dash or trundle at almost every hour of the day or night. From the
bridges the little river runs fairly straight to the Sound, a mile or
so away.

But we have got far from the two boys who, bags swinging――and beginning
to feel extremely heavy by now――are breasting the last slope of the
well-kept roadway. The old gray granite front of Whitson greets them
and Arnold, followed by Toby, seeks the portal and climbs the worn
stairs to the second floor. There, while Arnold unpacks his bag, Toby
lodges himself on the window-seat and, hugging his knees, talks and
gazes off over the tops of the trees to the sparkling waters of the
Sound and feels for the moment very glad to be back there and very
determined to study hard all through this new term. And presently Homer
Wilkins bangs the door open and comes in dragging a big kit-bag and
conversation becomes ejaculatory and somewhat noisy, and questions and
answers tumble over each other. Wilkins, who shares Number 12 with
Arnold, is a big, jolly looking chap of seventeen, a third class boy
who should be in the second but who never has time enough to do the
necessary amount of studying. Another train reaches the station and
another influx of returning students comes up the hill, and Arnold and
Toby and Homer squeeze their bodies half out the window and hail them.
And soon after Toby takes up his bag again and climbs the last flight
and finds himself once more in his little room under the slates, with
the frayed armchair and the wardrobe whose doors won’t stay shut unless
wedged and the old worn-out rug and――yes, a distinct odor of benzine!



CHAPTER VI

FRIENDS FALL OUT


That afternoon at three o’clock Toby accompanied Arnold to the
gymnasium where the hockey candidates were assembled in the baseball
cage. The arrival of cold weather had added to the enthusiasm and
many new recruits were on hand. Arnold haled Toby to Captain Crowell,
saluted gravely and announced: “Sir, I have the honor to announce
that in pursuance of your orders I have taken into custody and hereby
deliver to you the body of one T. Tucker. Please sign the receipt!”

“Hello, Arn, you crazy chump,” responded Crowell. “Much obliged, just
the same. Glad to have seen you, Tucker. Hope you’ll like us and our
merry pastime. Just wait around a few minutes and we’ll get things
started. Say, Arn, you’re getting a good many fellows out, it seems.
There’s Jim Rose. I want to see him a minute.”

Crowell hurried away and Toby gazed about him. Many of those present
he knew by sight, but only a very few were speaking acquaintances.
Among the latter were Grover Beech, Frank Lamson, Jim Rose and Ted
Halliday. There were others who had sought Toby’s services in the
matter of pressing their clothes but who never seemed to recall him
when they met in public. Arnold had wandered away to speak to Frank
Lamson and Toby found himself embarrassingly alone until a somewhat
stout youth with a pink-and-white countenance ranged alongside and
remarked: “Quite a mob, isn’t it? Must be fifty, I guess. So many
criminal looking countenances, too! Your name’s Tucker, isn’t it?”

Toby acknowledged it and the pink-faced youth went on cheerfully: “I
suppose you’re out for the second. So’m I. Trying for goal. What’s your
line?”

“Line? Oh, goal, too, I think. Crowell seemed to think I’d better try
that.”

“Hah! Me hated rival!” exclaimed the other beamingly. “‘Tucker versus
Creel, or The Struggle for Goal!’ Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Know
what Crowell’s going to spring on us in a minute?”

Toby shook his head, smiling. He found Creel amusing.

“Well, he’s going to inform us that to-morrow afternoon we’re expected
to go down and build the rink. Last winter I was horribly ill that
day.” Sid Creel winked knowingly. “Had a beastly cold. If I was you I’d
sneeze a few times and blow my nose. That gives you a chance of coming
down with grippe before to-morrow.”

“Oh, I guess I shan’t mind helping,” laughed Toby. “How do we do it?”

“You lug a lot of planks from under the grand-stand and nail ’em
together and drive posts into the ground, which is always frozen
solid, and then you shovel dirt up outside the planks. It’s all right
if you’re strong and healthy, but to one of my weak constitution it’s
fierce. After you get the dirt shoveled up――Did you ever shovel frozen
dirt? No? Well, it’s no fun. Last year they had to pick it first. You’d
think they’d make the rink before it gets cold, wouldn’t you?”

“Why, yes, I should,” agreed Toby. “Why don’t they?”

Creel shook his head sadly. “No one knows. It’s a sort of――sort of
impenetrable mystery. I guess it just isn’t done. Anyway, after you
get the dirt piled up outside the planks you hitch a hose to the
hydrant and turn the water on and wait for it to freeze.”

“Well, that part sounds easy,” said Toby.

“It may sound easy, but it isn’t,” responded the other boy lugubriously.
“Because you have to stand around and watch the bank you’ve made. You
see, the dirt’s mostly in chunks and of course the water oozes out under
the bottom of the planks and you have to yell for help and shovel more
dirt on and puddle it down with your feet. And while you’re choking up
one leak about thirty-eleven others start. Oh, it’s a picnic――not!”

“But look here,” objected Toby, puzzled. “If you were sick last time
how do you know so much about it?”

Creel gazed sadly across the cage and made no answer for a moment. Then
he sighed deeply, and: “They came up to the room and pulled me out,” he
answered sadly. “Unfeeling brutes!”

Toby’s laughter was interrupted by Captain Crowell, who called for
attention. “There won’t be any practice this afternoon, fellows,”
announced Crowell. “And I don’t believe there will be any more until
we get the rink ready. We’re going to do that to-morrow afternoon.
Every one be on hand as near three as possible so we can get the work
done before dark. It doesn’t take long if we all show up. If any of
you fellows develop colds between now and then you needn’t report
again. We don’t want fellows on the teams who are as delicate as that.”
Toby thought Crowell’s gaze dwelt a moment on Sid Creel’s innocent
countenance. “A lot of you are new to the game and I want to tell you
right now, so there won’t be any kick coming later, that if you put
your names down for hockey you’ll have to show up regularly or you’ll
be dropped. We mean to turn out the best seven this year that has ever
played for Yardley, and if we are to do that you’ll simply have to
make up your minds to come out regularly for practice and work as hard
as you know how. That means the second team candidates as well as the
first. As soon as we get ice the class teams will be made up, and any
fellow that shows good hockey with his class team will have a chance
to show what he can do on the school squad. You fellows who haven’t
put your names down will please do it before you leave. Halliday is
manager and he will take them. I guess that’s about all, fellows. Only
if you really want to make the teams, show it by doing your best.
Listen to what is told you and do your best right from the start. We
play our first outside game in a little more than a week, so, you see,
there isn’t much time to get together. I hope you’ll all pull hard for
a victory over Broadwood this year. We owe her two lickings and we
might as well start out this winter and give her the first one. Don’t
forget to-morrow afternoon at three sharp, fellows.”

Toby gave his name to Ted Halliday and found Arnold waiting for him at
the door of the cage in conversation with Frank Lamson. Frank hailed
Toby jovially. “Going to be a hockey star, Toby?” he asked. “Well, we
need a few earnest youths like you. Have a good time on your vacation?
You and Arn must have been mighty busy, I guess. I called up twice on
the ’phone and each time they told me that you were out doing the town.
How’s Greenhaven? Say, that must be a dreary hole in winter, isn’t it?
Is your sister well?”

“Fine, thanks. Going back, Arn?”

“N――no, I guess I’ll loaf around here awhile. See you at supper, Toby.”

Arnold and Frank parted from him on the steps and Toby made his way
across the yard, past the sun-dial at the meeting of the paths in front
of Dudley and, finally, through the colonnade that joined Oxford and
Whitson and so around to the entrance of his dormitory. As he went
he puzzled again over the friendship that existed between Arnold and
Frank. Personally, he thought Frank Lamson the most unlikeable fellow
he had ever met. Perhaps, though, he reflected, Frank possessed some
qualities apparent to Arnold and not to him. The two had been friends,
though never exactly chums, for several years, while Toby and Arnold
had known each other only since the preceding June. Probably when you
had known a fellow three or four years you got to like him in spite
of his――his faults. Toby almost said “meannesses,” but charitably
substituted the other word. Of course, there was no reason why Arn
shouldn’t go with Frank if he wished to, only――well, for a fortnight or
so preceding Christmas recess Arn had spent a good deal more time with
Frank than he had with Toby, and the latter wondered, as he climbed
the twilight stairways to his room, whether Arn was beginning to get
tired of him. He was very fond of Arnold and the contingency made him
feel rather sad and lonely.

He shed his sweater and cap and seated himself at the deal table, which
just now was a study desk and not an ironing-board, and drew a book
toward him. But his thoughts refused to interest themselves in Cæsar
and he was soon staring out the window and drumming a slow tattoo
on his teeth with the rubber tip of his pencil. Perhaps it was only
imagination, but, looking back on the last two weeks of vacation, it
seemed to him now that Arnold had been less chummy, that something of
the wonderful friendship of the summer had been lacking. Of course,
Arnold had been perfectly splendid to him, had given him an awfully
good time in New York and had probably given up other good times in
order to spend that week-end with him at Greenhaven. And there were
the gold cuff-links, too. Toby arose and got them from a hidden corner
of the top drawer in the bureau and took them back to the window and
looked at them admiringly and even curiously, as though striving to
draw reassurance from them. In the end he laid them on the table and
sank back into his chair. They were handsome and costly, but they
meant little, after all. Arnold had heaps of money to spend; as much,
perhaps, as any fellow in school. Doubtless he would have given him
something equally as fine had their friendship been far less close.
Why, for all he knew, Arn might have given just such a Christmas
present to Frank Lamson! A wave of something very much like jealousy
went over him and he scowled at the cuff-links quite ferociously and
pushed them distastefully aside. Just that afternoon he had noticed a
new pin in Frank’s tie, a moonstone, he thought it was, held in a gold
claw. It was just the sort of a thing that Arnold would select. In
fact, now that he thought of it, Arnold had a pin very much like it!
There was no doubt in the world that that moonstone scarf-pin had been
Arnold’s Christmas present to Frank, and Toby suddenly felt very, very
miserable.

The daylight faded and the words on the pages of the open book were
no longer legible, although that was a matter of indifference to Toby
since he wasn’t looking at them. What Toby was doing was something far
less commendable and useful than studying his Latin. He was imagining
all sorts of uncharitable things about Arnold and trying to recall all
the faults that Frank Lamson had ever exhibited and making himself
extremely miserable. And finally he arose with a shrug of his broad
shoulders and lighted the gas and pulled down the shade. After that he
scooped the cuff-links up contemptuously and tossed them back into the
bureau drawer.

“Let him,” he muttered. “Who cares, anyway? He’s not the only fellow in
school! I guess I can find some one else to chum with if I make up my
mind to do it.” He closed the bureau drawer with a bang. “He won’t ever
see me wearing those things. Maybe he bought them for Frank and Frank
didn’t like them, or something! He can have ’em if he wants ’em. I’m
sure I don’t!”

After that, since there were no clothes to be cleaned or pressed
this afternoon, he resolutely tried to study, and really did manage
to imbibe a certain amount of knowledge by the time the supper hour
came. He and Arnold had managed to secure seats at the same table in
commons (Yardley Hall, founded by an English schoolmaster, still
retained a few English terms); but they had not been able to get seats
together, and save on infrequent occasions when some boy’s absence
made a rearrangement possible they were divided by the width of the
table. Supper was usually a jolly and enjoyable meal for Toby, as it
was for most others, but to-night he was plainly out of sorts, and
when Arnold came in a trifle late and sank into his chair looking
flushed and happy, he became more morose than ever. Arnold’s greeting
was answered coldly, but Arnold failed to notice the fact and went to
work with a good will on the cold meat and baked potatoes which formed
the principal course. There was a good deal of talk and laughter that
evening amongst the ten occupants of Table 14, and consequently Toby’s
silence and gloom went unnoted by any one until supper was almost over.
Then Arnold, appealing to Toby for confirmation of a story he had
been narrating, was met with such a chilling response that he paused
open-mouthed and stared across at his friend.

“Well, what’s wrong with you, T. Tucker?” he asked wonderingly.

“Nothing,” replied Toby, very haughtily.

Several other fellows turned to observe him and the younger of the two
Curran brothers laughed and said: “Oh, Tucker’s peeved because trade’s
fallen off. Every fellow had his trousers pressed at home, I guess.”

Jack Curran frowned at his brother. “Cut that out, Will,” he growled.
“Try to act like a gentleman even if it hurts you. I say, Glad, I found
that book I told you about. If you want it, come around, will you?”

Gladwin replied and conversation became general again. But now and
then Arnold cast a puzzled glance across at Toby’s lowered head and
wondered what had happened to the usually even-tempered chum. By that
time Toby was angry with himself for having shown his feelings. He
wouldn’t have had the other fellows at the table guess the reason for
his glumness for anything in the world. Nor did he want Arnold to
guess it. He had meant to treat the latter with chill indifference; he
hadn’t intended to act like a sulky kid. When he left the table Arnold
followed him to join him on the way out as was usual, but to-night Toby
skirted another table, reached the corridor in advance of Arnold and,
without a glance, pushed through the swinging door to the stairway and
mounted swiftly to his room. Once there he paused on the threshold and
listened. If he had thought to hear Arnold’s footsteps in pursuit he
was mistaken, for Arnold, viewing his friend’s singular behavior, had
merely shrugged his shoulders a bit irritably and let him go.

In his room again, Toby turned up the light, which had been reduced to
a mere pin-point of flame, dragged the chair to the table again and,
settling his head in his hands, determinedly attacked his Latin. But
for a long while, although he kept his eyes on the page, his ears were
strained for the sound of Arnold’s footsteps. Other footsteps echoed
down the corridor and several doors opened and shut. Roy Stillwell,
across the corridor, was singing a football song, keeping time with his
heels on the floor:

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

Toby, listening whether he wanted to or not, wished Stillwell would
be quiet. How could a fellow study with such an uproar going on?
Presently Stillwell was quiet, and then Toby sort of wished he would
sing again. The silence was horribly lonesome. He raised his eyes from
the book at last and viewed disconsolately the shabby little room.
He wished himself back at home and, for the time at least, honestly
regretted ever having come to Yardley. It had been, he assured himself,
a silly thing to do. Most of the fellows weren’t his sort. Nearly
all that he knew――and he knew few enough――were boys with well-to-do
parents, boys who had about everything they wanted, who lived in
comfortable rooms with pictures on the walls and rugs on the floors
and easy-chairs to loll in and all sorts of nice things. Secretly,
of course, if not openly――and he had to acknowledge grudgingly that
they didn’t do it openly――they looked down on him for being poor and
ill-dressed and having to press clothes to make enough money to assure
his return another year. They weren’t his kind at all. It would have
been far better had he kept on at the high school in Johnstown, as he
would have done if Arnold hadn’t beguiled him with glowing accounts of
Yardley. And there was the matter of the scholarship, too. Toby had
rather hoped to secure one of the six Fourth Year scholarships, if not
a Ripley, which credited one with sixty dollars against the tuition
fee, then a Haynes, which carried fifty dollars with it. Arnold had
been quite sure that Toby could do it and Toby had thought so himself
just at first, but there had been trouble with mathematics in October
and during the time that he had striven to make good as a football
player he had slumped a little in Latin as well. The announcement would
be made the last of the week, but Toby no longer dared hope to hear his
name coupled with one of the prizes.

Suddenly he turned his gaze toward the door and listened intently.
Footsteps on the stairs! They sounded like Arnold’s! Then they came
along the corridor, nearer and nearer. Were they Arnold’s? One instant
Toby thought they were and the next doubted it. They weren’t quite
like, but if they stopped at his door――

They did stop! And a knock sounded! Toby held his breath. He wanted to
run across the room and throw the door open, but something held him
motionless. Another knock, louder this time, and then the door-knob was
tried.

“Let him knock,” said Toby to himself stubbornly. But he didn’t really
mean it. If Arnold called, he decided, he would let him in. He waited
tensely. There was a moment’s silence outside. Arnold must know that he
was in, Toby assured himself, for he could see the light through the
transom and if he really cared about seeing him he would try again. If
he didn’t――

“Tucker!” called a voice from beyond the locked door. “Tucker, are you
in there?”

Toby’s heart sank. It wasn’t Arnold after all! Outside the door stood a
small and apologetic preparatory class youth with a suit draped across
one arm. “S-sorry to disturb you, Tucker,” he stammered, “but I wanted
to know if you thought you c-could do anything with these. Th-they’re
in an awful mess. I b-brushed up against some paint in the village
to-day.”

“I’ll fix them,” answered Toby listlessly. “What’s the name? Lingard?
All right. I’ll have them for you to-morrow evening.”

“Thanks,” exclaimed the youngster gratefully. “I――I hope you won’t find
them too――too m-messy.”

“I guess not. Good-night.”

Toby closed the door again, tossed the clothes over the back of the
dilapidated arm-chair and returned gloomily to his lessons. He was a
fool, he muttered, to think Arn cared enough to seek him out. Not that
it mattered, however. Not a bit! Arn could plaguey well suit himself.
_He_ didn’t care!



CHAPTER VII

FIRST PRACTICE


It’s remarkable how different things look in the morning! A chap may
go to bed the night before in the seventh subway of despair and wake
up in the morning feeling quite cheerful and contented. And this is
especially true if the sun happens to be shining and a little frosty,
nippy breeze is blowing in at the window and the faint odor of coffee
and other delectable things floats in with the breeze. As Toby’s room
was over the kitchen, which occupied the basement of Whitson, he was
quite frequently treated to a presentment of what was to happen in
commons. This morning, sitting on the edge of his bed, and shivering a
little as the playful zephyrs caressed his legs, he sniffed knowingly
and decided that there was an unmistakably choppy bouquet to the
fragrance arising from the kitchen windows. And he was pleased, because
he was especially fond of lamb chops. Also, he was particularly hungry
to-day, having eaten scantily of supper because――

That because brought back to memory his overnight’s grievance. But
this morning it seemed absurdly trifling. He had, he decided, made a
silly ass of himself, and he wondered what on earth had got into him!
He would find Arnold the very first thing and show him that he was
sorry. Of course Arnold liked Frank Lamson. Why shouldn’t he, since
they had known each other several years? Besides, Frank, after all,
wasn’t such a bad chap probably――if you knew him well! Meanwhile there
was a bath to be taken, and one had to do a lot of hustling to get a
bath in before breakfast for the reason that the bathing facilities
in Whitson were archaic and there were some twelve boys for each tub.
This knowledge spurred Toby to action and he jumped up and closed the
window with a bang, seized the gorgeous new crimson dressing-gown that
his mother had given him for Christmas and, struggling hurriedly into
it, dashed down the hall. For once promptness earned its reward. Only
Stillwell and Framer were ahead of him and Toby was back in his room in
five minutes, glowing and happy and hungry.

When, on his way downstairs, he knocked at the door of Number 12
and was invited to enter, he found only Homer Wilkins within. Homer
was still very incompletely attired and very sleepy looking, and he
informed Toby with a prodigious yawn, that Arn had gone on down. “He’s
a regular Little Brighteyes,” he complained. “No worm would have half a
chance with Arn. What’s the weather like, Toby?”

“Great! You’d better hustle if you want any breakfast.”

“I don’t expect any,” replied Homer sadly. “I haven’t had a square meal
in the morning since I’ve been here. Everything’s sold out when I get
down. They ought to have a lunch-wagon for fellows――”

But Toby didn’t hear the rest. Arnold was busily adorning his plate of
oatmeal with much cream and sugar when Toby reached the table. Only
four others were on hand so far.

“Morning,” greeted Toby as he sat down and pulled his napkin out of its
numbered ring.

“Hello, Tucker!” “Morning, Toby!” “Greetings!” “Shove that sugar-bowl
along this way, will you?”

Arnold, however, only looked up briefly and nodded. Toby’s face fell.
When one is ready to apologize and make up it is most disheartening to
find that the other party isn’t ready! Evidently Arnold was nursing
resentment, and Toby knew that as a nurse for that sort of thing Arn
was hard to beat. But he pretended that he observed nothing different
in his friend’s attitude and was quite chatty――for Toby. Will Curran,
who had been severely lectured by his older brother for snobbishness,
showed a desire to make amends and was unusually attentive to Toby. By
the time the table had filled up, which was only when the leisurely
Homer Wilkins had fallen wearily into the chair at Arnold’s left,
Arnold had forgotten to look hurt and proud and was holding an animated
discussion with Gladwin on the subject of hockey skates. Glad, as he
was generally called, was firm for the half-hockey style and Arnold
pinned his faith on the full.

“A straight blade is all right for racing,” declared Gladwin, “but it’s
too slow for hockey.”

“Too slow!” exclaimed Arnold. “How do you mean, too slow? You get more
surface to the ice and――”

“That’s all right when you’re skating, but when you want to turn
quickly――”

“Oh, shucks! Look here, Glad, you take a skate that’s got a round toe
and how are you going to start quickly? You can’t dig your toes in, can
you?”

“No, but you don’t have to. A fellow can start just as quick on the
edge. A long, flat blade is――”

“Oh, poppycock! You never saw a racer start on the edge, I’ll bet! Look
at the Canadians. You don’t deny that they know more hockey than we do,
do you?”

“They did,” responded Glad cautiously, “but we’re catching up with ’em
nowadays. Anyway――”

“Well, they know hockey, son, and they use a full-hockey skate every
time! If that doesn’t prove it――”

“I don’t think the Canadians play any better game than we do these
days,” interrupted Glad. “And that doesn’t prove anything, anyway.
Canadians are more or less English, and you know mighty well that an
Englishman uses the same skate to-day that his great-grandfather used,
and couldn’t be made to change. It――it’s all a matter of custom with
them!”

“Don’t be a silly ass, please,” begged Arnold. “Any fellow who has seen
a Canadian hockey team knows that they use a full-hockey skate, and
a full-hockey skate wasn’t made until a few years ago, and so their
grandfathers couldn’t have used them! Why, you might just as well say
that the best hockey skate is an old-fashioned ‘rocker’!”

“There’s a lot of difference,” began Gladwin, but the audience told him
to shut up and eat his breakfast, and Arnold was restored to his normal
equanimity by the knowledge that he had won the debate. Consequently,
when, a few minutes later, Toby met him in the corridor, Arnold had
quite forgotten his grievance.

“Did you hear that line of piffle Glad pulled?” he demanded. “I’d like
to see him make his quick starts on a pair of half-hockeys! I’ll bet I
could beat him every time!”

“Of course you could,” agreed Toby. “Say, Arn, I――I’m sorry I was such
a beast last night, you know.”

“What? Oh! Say, what was the matter with you, you silly chump, anyway?”

“Nothing, really. I was sort of――sort of cranky, I guess.”

“Must have been,” agreed Arnold cheerfully. “Had the hump, I suppose.
How is it by you to-day?”

“Oh, I’m feeling great to-day. Let’s get out and tramp a little before
first hour. Shall we?”

“All right. Wait till I get a cap. Guess we’ll need sweaters, too.”

“I’ll have to run up and get mine and I’ll fetch yours on the way
down.” Toby paused with the door half open. “Say, Arn, it’s――it’s all
right, isn’t it? About last night, I mean.”

“Of course it is, you chump! Get a move on. We’ve only got about twenty
minutes.”

At three o’clock in the afternoon of that fifth day of January the
stretch of low ground near the river and south of the running track
became the scene of remarkable activity. Fully half the school turned
out, although not all, I regret to say, with the intention of being
helpful. Perhaps fifty per cent. of the gathering was there to watch
the other fifty per cent. work and to get as much amusement as possible
out of the spectacle. Mr. Bendix, the Physical Director, better known
as “Muscles,” was in charge of proceedings, assisted by Andy Ryan, the
trainer. Corner pegs had already been set when the boys arrived and the
task of digging holes for the uprights to hold the boards in place was
under way. Captain Crowell, acting as lieutenant, doled out shovels and
picks and soon the necessary excavations were completed. Fortunately,
only the crust of the earth was frozen and once under that digging was
easy. The joists were next lugged from their place of storage under
the grand-stand and dropped into the holes and with one boy holding
and two or three others shoveling, and Andy Ryan running around with
a carpenter’s level to see that the joists were set straight, that
part of the work went swiftly and would have gone more swiftly if the
onlookers, being in a particularly happy frame of mind, had not stood
around and cheered every move enthusiastically.

Then a stream of fellows made for the back of the grand-stand again and
returned bearing the planks, which, being in sections ready to attach
to the uprights, required less labor than the pessimistic Creel had led
Toby to anticipate. Each section was numbered and fell readily into
place, after which a few long spikes completed the operation. Toby,
armed with a hammer and a bag of spikes, was one of the carpenters.
Every time he missed the head of the spike a shout of derision arose
from the attentive audience, and, in consequence, Toby was very likely
to promptly miss again! But there were plenty of others to aid and
before long the three-foot-high barrier was in place, enclosing a
parallelogram of faded and trampled turf one hundred and thirty-two
feet long by sixty feet wide. Before the last spike had been driven
home the boys were busy with picks and shovels and a foot-high bank of
earth was being thrown up against the bottom of boards on the outside.
By the time the last shovelful had been tossed in place twilight was
on them and the spectators had departed. The thermometer showed the
mercury at twenty-eight degrees, but falling, and it was decided to
put in enough water to only saturate the ground. Two lines of hose
were coupled to the nearer hydrants and the enclosure was thoroughly
wet down. That ended the labor for the time and some forty-odd boys,
abandoning shovels and picks, viewed the result of their labor
with proud satisfaction and tramped somewhat wearily back to the
dormitories. To Toby, at least, who had worked hard and unceasingly
from first to last, the lighted windows up the hill looked very good.

The thermometer was down to twenty in the morning and again the water
was turned into the hydrants, the hose coupled and the frozen ground
sprayed. This operation was repeated twice more during the day and
when, in the late afternoon, Toby and Arnold walked down to the rink
they found an inch of ice already formed. But it was not until the
following afternoon that the rink was ready for use. The mercury was
down to fourteen above zero at three o’clock and the final spraying at
noon had supplied a surface as smooth and hard as glass. By a quarter
past three four squads were at work, rushing and passing and, it must
be acknowledged, sprawling over the ice. Later two teams were picked by
Captain Crowell and the other fellows pulled their sweaters on again
and lined the barrier and looked on. Most of the school was on hand,
as well, and although there was no line-up that afternoon, they found
plenty to divert them.

Toby, of course, spent most of the practice time outside the barrier,
but he profited not a little by watching the more fortunate fellows.
Going back, he confided to Arnold that he was sure he would never be
able to get around on skates the way those chaps did. Arnold, whose
right to a place on the first team was generally recognized, had been
hard at it and was feeling very perked up and cheerful and derided
Toby’s doubts.

“You wait till you’ve had a few days of it,” he said. “You’ll get the
hang of it all right. There’s only one secret, Toby, and that is skate
low. It helps you to keep your balance and makes it harder for the
other fellow to body-check you. If you’re standing straight on your
skates the least shove will throw you over, but if you’re skating low
you can take a good hard check and keep your feet on the ice.”

“I see that,” said Toby. “But you fellows dodge and jump around and
turn so quickly! Why, I’d break my silly neck if I tried it!”

“You’ll learn. Anyway, if you go in for goal, you won’t need to know so
much about skating.”

“How much does a pair of skates like yours cost?” asked Toby after a
moment’s silence.

“I paid five, but you can get a good pair for three and a half. Don’t
buy any till you find out whether you’re going to play goal or not,
though. If you play goal you’ll be better off with a pair of heavy
skates with short blades. You can move a heap quicker in them.”

“And how much would they be?”

“Oh, three and a half, I guess. What’s the matter with wearing the ones
you have?”

“Could I? They’re sort of old-fashioned. I only paid a dollar and a
half for them, and I’ve had them about three years.”

“Let’s see them,” said Arnold. They paused in the light from a lower
window in Merle and Arnold looked them over. Finally he grunted and
passed them back. “I guess they wouldn’t do, Toby. They’d break in two
if some one gave them a good swipe with a stick or skated into them.
What you want to do is to get a pair of skating shoes and screw your
skates right onto them. Those full clamp skates are always tearing your
heel off.”

“How much would shoes cost?” asked Toby.

“Five dollars. More if you want to pay it. But they’ll stand by you for
two or three years.”

“Yes, but Crowell said we’d all have to have hockey gloves, and
they’re frightfully expensive. And I might have to buy a pair of pads
if I got to playing goal. I guess hockey’s a pretty expensive game,
Arn.”

“Pshaw, pads don’t cost much; only about four dollars, I think. Fifteen
dollars will buy everything you’ll need.”

“Gee, that’s cheap, isn’t it?” muttered Toby disconsolately. “I guess
I’ll wait and see if there’s any show of making a team before I buy
much.”

Arnold laughed as they crossed the colonnade and turned toward the
entrance to Whitson. “You were always a cautious chap, Toby!”

“I have to be,” replied the other simply.

“I suppose you do. Look here!” Arnold stopped in the act of pushing
open the door. “I’ve got a pretty good pair of skates upstairs. They’ve
got button heels, but I guess they’d be all right for you. If you want
them you’re welcome. Come on up and I’ll dig them out.”

They proved all right as to size, but, unfortunately, the heel-plates
had been lost. Homer Wilkins, who came in while they were bewailing
this fact, suggested that they could get new plates by sending to the
maker, and they cheered up again. Toby bore the skates away with him
to his room and, arrived there, studied that note-book again. Quite a
few fellows had paid their accounts by now and so many of the entries
had been scored out, but there was still nearly six dollars owing him.
Most of the accounts were small, ranging from fifteen cents to thirty,
but a few were larger and Frank Lamson’s was the biggest. Frank had
promised to pay after vacation, but he hadn’t and Toby considered the
advisability of reminding him of his promise. But Toby decided finally
that he would rather lose the money than dun Frank for it any more.
What he would do, though, was to spend an hour after supper trying
to collect some of the other amounts due him. Having reached that
decision, he started his gas stove, heated his iron and pressed two
pairs of trousers and a coat and waistcoat before supper.

Afterwards, he made the rounds of the dormitories before study hour
and returned richer by two dollars and eighty cents. That amount,
together with four dollars and twenty-two cents which he had by him,
he deposited in a little cardboard box and hid under an extra pair of
pajamas in a bureau drawer, after printing on the lid in ink: “Hockey
Fund.”

Seven dollars would, he believed, buy a pair of pads and a pair of
gloves, and now that Arnold had donated a perfectly corking pair
of skates, he wouldn’t have to purchase shoes. He could put the
heel-plates, when he got them, on the shoes he was wearing and use them
for all purposes. He had a feeling that in expending seven dollars for
hockey paraphernalia he was being downright extravagant, but he had
earned the money and, he told himself defiantly, he had a right to
be reckless with it for once. He didn’t entirely silence an accusing
conscience, but he reduced it to whispers!

Toby had already become an enthusiastic hockey fan without as yet
having taken part in a game! His efforts to make good as a football
player had not been very successful, and he made up his mind that this
time he would conquer. He had an ecstatic vision of one Toby Tucker,
a blue-and-white stockinette cap on his head, wearing a white sweater
with the crossed hockey sticks and the mystic letters Y. H. T. on it,
his legs encased in white leather pads such as Henry, the first team
goal-tend, had worn that afternoon, armed with a wide-bladed stick,
crouching in front of the net while the cheers of Yardley and Broadwood
thundered across the rink. The vision stopped there because, for the
life of him, he couldn’t imagine what the heroic Toby Tucker would do
if some brutal member of the enemy team tried to put the puck past him!
But it was a fine and heart-warming picture, and Toby wanted terribly
to see it realized, and it didn’t seem to him at such moments that it
would be right to let a small matter of seven dollars interfere with
that realization. Besides, there was still the barest, tiniest chance
of that scholarship! When Toby was feeling cheerful he recognized that
chance. At other times he told himself that it didn’t exist. To-night,
being optimistic, he allowed that perhaps, after all, he might win one
of the smaller ones. If he did he would never regret the sinful waste
of that seven dollars. Fifty dollars would make a lot of difference in
his financial condition. However, he would not, he reflected, get his
hopes too high. It was much better not to expect anything. Then if he
did win a Haynes Scholarship――

Gee, he was getting all excited about it! That wouldn’t do, because it
was very, very likely that he wouldn’t succeed. He pulled his books
to him and settled himself, with a sigh, for an hour of study. Anyway,
he thought, as he opened his algebra, he would know to-morrow, for
to-morrow was the eighth and it was on the eighth, according to the
school catalogue, that the awards were announced. Of course, since
there were only six scholarships for the fourth class and about one
hundred students――Toby sighed again, shook his head and plunged into
algebra.



CHAPTER VIII

THE SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS


At Yardley you were supposed to get up at seven. Breakfast was at
seven-thirty. You were allowed, however, a half-hour’s leeway. That is,
you could gain admittance to commons as late as one minute to eight,
but whether you found anything left to eat was quite another question.
At half-past eight came chapel, and while you might with impunity
miss breakfast occasionally, being absent from chapel constituted a
dereliction resulting in a visit to the Office. Chapel was held in the
assembly hall on the third floor of Oxford. There had been a time, when
the founder and first Principal, Doctor Hewitt, had been alive, when
chapel had occurred at half-past seven, but nowadays one fortified
oneself with food before the morning services.

On this Saturday morning Toby, who was so accustomed to early rising
that it was a veritable hardship to lie in bed after seven, finished
breakfast before eight and was out of the hall before Arnold appeared.
Usually he waited for the latter and they crossed to Oxford together;
and sometimes Homer Wilkins, by Herculean effort, managed to go
along. But this morning Arnold had not returned to his room when Toby
clattered downstairs again. Nor was he anywhere in sight. So Toby set
out for chapel alone. Probably Arnold would be waiting for him in the
corridor in Oxford. It wasn’t a morning when one would linger around
out of doors, for the mercury was hovering about zero and an icy wind
was blowing across the Prospect, cracking the flag and bending the top
of the tall mast. Toby dug his hands into his pockets and scurried. The
bell began to ring as he reached the steps. Inside, a crowd of boys
who had lingered till the last moment, surged toward the stairs, and
Toby was caught up and borne along. As a consequence, he did not find
Arnold, and when he was seated on one of the old knife-scarred benches
he was hedged in between two fellows whom he only knew by sight. Doctor
Collins, the Principal, stepped to the rostrum, silence descended over
the room and the Doctor’s pleasant voice began the reading.

“‘Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the
Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit
whence ye are digged.’”

Toby, as he listened, glanced furtively around for sight of Arnold. He
had wanted particularly to see him this morning and ask him when and
where the scholarship announcements would be made. Toby presumed that
a list would be posted on the notice board downstairs, but a hurried
examination of the board as he had been swept past had revealed nothing
that looked as portentous. Probably the list would be posted later.
Toby wondered if he would have the courage to read it! Meanwhile there
was no sign of Arnold and Toby concluded that he had arrived late and
slipped into a seat near the door.

“‘But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have
said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy
body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.’”

Dr. Collins ceased and closed the Bible. There was a moment’s pause and
the subdued shuffling of feet and moving of bodies. Then came silence
again and the invocation and, at the last, the Lord’s Prayer, the boys
reciting together. Toby always liked to hear that. It sounded to him
like the boom of the sea back home, and thrilled him. When heads were
lifted once more, he became conscious of an undercurrent of excitement,
of suspense. The hall was unusually still. The boy on his right, a
thin, earnest-looking youth with a pair of eye-glasses set on the ridge
of a long nose, sat up straighter and more tensely, and Toby thought
he breathed faster than was natural. Toby didn’t recall the fellow’s
name, but they had several recitations in common. In front of him two
boys were whispering together, but so softly that he could hear no
sound. On the platform Doctor Collins was turning the papers in his
hands, and, presently, having sorted them to his liking, he began the
announcements. Three students were summoned to the Office; notice was
given of a lecture on Stevenson next Tuesday evening at eight; a course
in Bible History open to First and Second Class students would begin
Monday; those desiring to join would give their names to Mr. Thurman;
until further notice, the library would be kept open until ten o’clock
at night, in response to a number of requests. Doctor Collins laid
these notices on the desk, cleared his throat and began again. Toby
heard the boy on his right take a long breath.

“In assigning scholarships,” began Dr. Collins, “the Faculty judges
the merits of the applicants, as you doubtless know, on three grounds:
scholarship, character and pecuniary need. At present the School has at
its disposal twenty-six endowed scholarships, and for the current year
they have been assigned as follows.”

Toby’s heart was doing queer things between his stomach and his throat.
He wondered if the others were as surprised as he. Then he realized
that every one else had known the announcements would be made here and
now; that the under-current of excitement of which he had been dimly
aware had been due to that knowledge. He plunged his hands into his
pockets and doubled his fists tightly. He, too, was breathing hard and
fast now. His thoughts were horribly jumbled, and he wondered where
Arnold was, wished he was here, was glad he wasn’t, told himself he had
absolutely no chance for a scholarship, hoped frantically that he had,
and all in the small fraction of time that lapsed while Doctor Collins
settled his glasses more firmly.

“As your names are mentioned, you will kindly stand,” continued the
Principal. “To members of the First Class: Barton Scholarships of one
hundred and twenty-five dollars to William George Phinney, Clark’s
Mills, Rhode Island; David Fearson Caldwell, New York City; Jasper
Haynes, Plainfield, New Jersey; Patrick Dennis Conlon, Bridgeport,
Connecticut. Sinclair Scholarships of one hundred dollars to Phillip
Studley Meyer, Belfast, Maine; William Patterson Byron, Newark, New
Jersey. Elliot Percival Dwight Scholarships of eighty dollars to
Howard Dana Jones, Englewood, Illinois; Horace Newcomb, Greenburg,
Connecticut. The Yardley Hall Scholarship of sixty dollars to Newton
Scott McDonough, Wilmington, Delaware.”

As each name was announced, somewhere in the hall an embarrassed youth
arose and a salvo of clapping greeted him. Toby clapped as hard as any.
It sort of took his mind off the question that was jumping around in
his brain. The nine youths remained standing until the applause, long
continued and hearty, died down. Then:

“You may be seated,” said the Doctor. “To members of the Second
Class――” Toby listened, but only half heard. When a boy stood up he
clapped hard. When a laugh started and rippled around the hall, he
laughed too, a trifle hysterically, but didn’t know what at. The
Second Class recipients sat down and the Doctor began on the Third
Class awards. There were but six of these. Toby only knew one of the
fortunate fellows, Mark Flagg, who played point with the first hockey
squad. The clapping went on and on. Toby wished one instant that it
would cease and the next that it would continue. Then it died away,
Doctor Collins nodded and the boys sank back gladly out of sight. Toby
clenched his hands again, set his countenance in a vacuous stare and
held his breath.

“To members of the Fourth Class:” began the fateful voice. “Ripley
Scholarships of sixty dollars to Gordon Pitman Wells, Cincinnati,
Ohio――”

At the far side of the assembly hall there was a scraping of feet. The
clapping broke forth afresh. Toby didn’t join this time, nor did he
look around. He was too busy keeping his eyes on the back of the head
of the boy in front of him, and, besides, it is doubtful if he could
have unclenched his hands just then.

“――John Booth Garman, Fitchburg, Massachusetts――”

The boy at Toby’s right got slowly to his feet. Toby stole a look at
his face. He was rather red and very embarrassed and there was a little
crooked smile twisting one side of his mouth. Toby’s gaze fell to
Garman’s hand which hung by his side. The long fingers were doubling
back and forth nervously. Toby felt for Garman, wanted to tell him he
was glad. Then, the applause lessening, he strained his ears again. Not
that the crucial moment was yet, for he had no hopes of a Ripley now,
nor much hope of anything. He wished it was all over! Doctor Collins
seized the moment’s calm:

“Tobias Tucker, Greenhaven, New York!”

Something inside of Toby turned a complete somersault. Perhaps it
was his heart, but it didn’t feel like it. His gaze went startledly,
incredulously from the exact middle of the head in front of him to
Doctor Collins’ face. Some one was shoving him from behind and a voice
hissed over his shoulder: “_Stand up, you chump!_” Toby climbed
dazedly to his feet. If it was a mistake, he told himself hollowly, he
would feel like an awful fool! But there didn’t seem to be any mistake.
Every one was clapping enthusiastically and he saw, or seemed to see,
about a million faces smiling at him. His thoughts, as he held onto the
back of the bench in front, were horribly confused while the applause
lasted. After that, when the Doctor announced the recipients of the
three Haynes Scholarships, and the school’s attention was shifted from
him, he found himself mentally deducting sixty from one hundred and
twenty-five and arriving at the joyful if slightly erroneous result of
sixty. Why, his tuition bill for the rest of the year would be only ten
dollars! (Afterwards he found that it would be fifteen, but he managed
to survive the shock!) So busy was he dwelling on the beatitude of this
thought that he didn’t see Doctor Collins nod nor observe the fact that
the other five fellows had seated themselves again, and only became
alive to his hideous conspicuousness when Garman tugged at his coat. He
sank back onto the bench blushing, but still happy.

After that there was a short congratulatory address by the Principal
and then they all stood up again and sang a hymn. Or, at least, most of
them sang. Toby didn’t. But then his heart was singing, and maybe that
was enough. When the final note had died away Doctor Collins gave the
word of dismissal and a quiet and orderly exodus began which turned,
outside the doors, into a stampede. Toby, however, went slowly, the
better to enjoy his pleasant thoughts, until some one linked an arm in
his and dragged him helter-skelter down the remaining flight.

“Hurray, T. Tucker! Didn’t I tell you you’d do it? It’s great, and I’m
tickled to death, Toby!”

Of course it was Arnold, Arnold laughing and eager to show his delight
by risking his neck in a final mad plunge down the crowded staircase.
Toby brought up at the bottom breathless and shaken and leaned against
the wall. “Wh-where were you?” he gasped. “I looked all around for you.”

“I waited for Homer and we were late and just got in by the skin of our
teeth. Didn’t you see me waving to you when you stood up? Gee, but I’m
glad you got a Ripley, Toby. I was afraid it might be only a Haynes.”

“I was afraid it might be only nothing,” laughed Toby. “I was so
surprised when Doc said my name that I guess I’d be sitting there yet
if some fellow hadn’t shoved me and told me to stand up! I don’t see
now how I happened to do it. I made an awful mess of math for a while,
and then in November I had trouble with Coby about Latin. I don’t see――”

“Oh, never mind what you don’t see,” interrupted Arnold gayly. “You got
it. That’s enough, isn’t it? Come on over and chin awhile.”

“What time is it? I can’t. I’ve got English at nine. But, gee, I won’t
know a thing, I guess!”

“All right, then, I’ll see you at eleven. I’m awfully glad, Toby. You
deserved it, too. Every one says that. Lots of fellows were as pleased
as anything when Doc announced your name. I guess you got as much
clapping as any of them!”

“Did I?” asked Toby in surprise. “Why, I didn’t suppose many fellows
knew anything about me! I guess――I guess you’re just jollying!”

“Honest, I’m not! Lots of fellows around where I was sitting nearly
clapped their old hands off for you, and four or five said afterwards
that they were mighty glad you’d copped it. So long! Come up to the
room at eleven, eh?”

Toby nodded and turned back toward the entrance to Oxford. It seemed
strange, even incredible, that any one should have cared whether he won
that scholarship. But it was mighty nice. It made things even better.
He hadn’t supposed that he had any friends in school beside Arnold
and, perhaps, a couple of chaps in his own class who had been more or
less chummy at times. Well, he would just have to show them and Doctor
Collins and――and every one that he really deserved it. He would study
as hard as anything and maybe――well, it was only a chance, but _maybe_,
he’d finish in June an Honor Man! Rather a stupendous dream, that, but
Toby was feeling stupendous this morning!



CHAPTER IX

T. TUCKER PLAYS GOAL


Toby set himself earnestly to learn hockey. I’m not going to tell you
that after a week of sliding and whanging around with the third or
fourth squad he displayed such a marvelous ability that Yardley Hall
was amazed and delighted at the advent of a new star, or that Orson
Crowell, bowing his head in surrender, offered him the captaincy. Such
a thing may happen sometimes, although it is usually in stories, but
it didn’t happen in Toby’s case. No, sir, not by a lot! Toby began by
being just about as awkward and useless as any one could be. For the
first day or two he evidently believed that a hockey stick was meant
to trip over, and when he did use it for other purposes, he wielded it
like a baseball bat. However, after he had cut Fanning’s forehead open
with one of his wild swings, and been sternly reminded for the tenth
time that the rules forbade lifting the stick above the shoulder, he
handled it more discreetly. Loring Casement, who was slated for the
second team captaincy, had charge of the third and fourth squads, and
Loring made the mistake of sizing up Toby as a possible forward, and
for the better part of a week, in fact until the Monday following the
game with St. John’s School, he was allowed to dash wildly and more
or less confusedly about the ice to his own vast enjoyment and the
entertainment of the spectators. Toby’s method of advancing the puck
was to get a good start, stumble over his stick, slide a few yards,
scramble to his feet again and hurl himself on the nearest adversary,
whether said adversary happened to have possession of the puck at the
moment or not. We are told that a rhinoceros, being wounded, will
charge at the first object he sees, whether it is a man or a tree or
an ant-hill. These were Toby’s tactics. The first person who met his
eyes was his prey. It took Toby several experiences to connect his
thunderbolt charges with the blowing of the referee’s whistle and the
cessation of play. But eventually, after Casement had almost tearfully
reiterated that the rules prohibited the checking of a player not in
possession of the puck, Toby saw his error. Possibly he would have
developed after awhile into a fair sort of center or wing, although
all indications were against that supposition, but he wasn’t given
the chance. On that Monday before mentioned Captain Crowell advised
Casement to try Toby at defense, and so Toby suddenly found himself at
point.

Playing point is vastly different from scurrying up and down as a
forward, as Toby discovered. When you played point you did a lot of
waiting and watching, and when you did have anything to do you had a
whole lot! It was rather a breathless moment for him when, for the
first time, he set himself in the path of the invaders. It almost made
him dizzy trying to keep his eyes on the puck, which was slipping from
one onrushing forward to another, and when he did check he got the
wrong man and the puck was in the net by the time he had scrambled to
his feet again. The goal-tend viewed Toby disgustedly and muttered
uncomplimentary things. But Toby showed up better on defense than
attack, soon got a glimmering of what was expected of him and, whatever
his faults may have been, never exhibited any lack of enthusiasm. The
heel-plates had so far failed to arrive――they did come eventually,
but not yet――and so Toby had to wear his old skates. They were forever
coming loose and causing him trouble and delaying the game. His
team-mates begged him to “scrap ’em, Tucker, and buy some skates.”

Toby discovered very early in his experience that hockey required
mental as well as physical abilities. Quick thinking and cool thinking
were, he decided, prime requisites. Watching Orson Crowell or Arnold
or Jim Rose, all seasoned players, zig-zag in and out between eager
opponents, feinting, dodging, but keeping the puck all the while, was
quite a wonderful sight. He had thought so before he had tried it
himself. After he had tried it he was just about ten times as sure of
it. Where Toby made his error at first was in mistaking calculating
science for headlong recklessness. When Crowell, as an example, skated
into a mêlée and brought the puck out, Crowell knew beforehand what he
was going to do and how he was going to do it. When Toby tried it he
merely flung himself into the maelstrom without having any distinct
idea of what was going to happen; except, of course, that he knew he
was going to get his shins cracked or dent the ice with some prominent
angle of his anatomy. After awhile Toby decided that there was a
difference between daring and mere recklessness, and he concluded that
he would skate more with his head and less with his feet!

Several things came hard to him. For a long time he could not learn to
use both hands on his stick, and the exhortation from Casement: “Both
hands, Tucker, both hands!” followed him everywhere. When he did get
the hang of it, though, he found that he was far better off, if only
for the reason that the stick was always in front of him and never
getting mixed up with his skates. But besides that he discovered that
it aided him a lot in keeping his balance and when dodging. And it was
always ready for use, something that couldn’t be said for a trailing
stick. Another thing that was difficult for him to master was dribbling
instead of hitting the puck. Toby’s ball playing had left him with a
natural inclination to use anything in the nature of a stick or club
with a swing, and merely pushing the little hard-rubber disk along the
ice seemed too slow. But after he had lost the puck innumerable times
by striking it he understood the philosophy of dribbling. If Toby was
slow to learn, at least, having learned, he remembered.

The ambition to own his own stick took possession of him before long,
and one afternoon he and Arnold and Homer Wilkins walked over to
Greenburg and had a regular splurge of spending. To be sure, it was
Arnold and Homer who left the most money behind, but Toby spent a whole
half-dollar for the best hockey stick he could find and fifteen cents
more for hot sodas. Selecting that stick was a long and serious matter.
Toby left it largely to Arnold, and Arnold, sensible of the honor done
him, was not to be hurried.

“You want a Canadian rock elm stick,” he declared gravely. “Rock elm
won’t fray on the edge the way other sticks will. Take rough ice and
your stick will have whiskers all along the bottom of the blade if it
isn’t made of the right stuff. And you want to choose one that’s got a
close, straight grain, too. The grain ought to run perfectly straight
with the haft and turn with the blade. Here’s one――No, it’s got a knot
in it. See it? A good whack with another stick would break that there
as sure as shooting.”

“How’s this one?” asked Toby.

“Too heavy, son. It isn’t seasoned, I guess. If you get one that isn’t
dried and seasoned perfectly it’ll warp on you, and――”

“I’d hate to have a hockey stick warp on me,” murmured Homer
distastefully. “Still, I suppose I could take it off, eh?”

“I guess this is the best of the lot,” continued Arnold, too much
absorbed to heed levity. “It’s got a medium wide blade, with a knife
edge; not too sharp, though, either. How do you like it? Feel good?”

Toby hefted it doubtfully. “I think so. Only I thought maybe I’d rather
have one with a narrower thingamabob.”

“Narrower blade? But that’s a forward stick, T. Tucker. You want a
stick for defense, don’t you? You can use this one at point or goal,
either one. Those narrow blades won’t stop a puck the way the wide ones
will. And it’s light, too, and has a peachy grain. I’ve got some tape
you can have, so you needn’t buy any.”

So the matter was eventually settled, and the salesman, who had long
since wearied of standing by, returned and accepted Toby’s fifty-cent
piece and offered to wrap the stick up. But Toby preferred to carry it
unwrapped so that he could examine the grain and swing it speculatively
and admire it to his heart’s content. After that Arnold bought a bottle
of glue, half a dozen pencils, a pair of garters and three bananas, and
Homer purchased a red-and-green necktie which attracted his attention
away across the street and a book with a splashy cover entitled “Dick
Dareall in the Frozen Seas.”

“That doesn’t sound like sense,” objected Arnold when they were outside
again. “If he was in the frozen seas he’d be stuck tight, wouldn’t he?”

“Maybe he was,” said Homer. “Or maybe I’m the one who’s stuck.”

“That sounds fair,” agreed Arnold. “Say, he must have had a fine time
playing hockey, eh? I guess those frozen seas would make a dandy rink?”

They induced Homer to unwrap his necktie for their re-examination, and
Arnold pretended to be frightened and dashed wildly into the street and
was almost run over by an express truck. Toby secretly admired that
vivid tie very much and wanted one just like it, but it was more fun
pretending that it made him feel squirmy and faint. Homer wasn’t in the
least disturbed by their criticisms, however.

“It’s just envy,” he said tranquilly. “You’d both mighty well like to
have it. Besides, it has the green of old Broadwood, and you know how I
love the dear old school.”

As usual, they found a sprinkling of Broadwood boys in the drug
store when Toby stood his modest treat. They were really quite nice
looking chaps, but Homer insisted that they showed every indication of
degeneracy. “Observe the sloping foreheads,” he whispered, “and the
weak chins. Also the vacant expression of the eyes. Still, these aren’t
so bad, really. They only let the best looking ones out.”

“I know,” replied Arnold gravely. “They tell me,” he went on, raising
his voice, “that they’re starting post-graduate courses at Broadwood.”

“That so?” inquired Homer, in the encouraging tone of an interlocutor
in a minstrel show.

“Yes,” drawled Arnold. “They’re going to teach reading and writing
to the advanced students, I understand. And I believe there is even
some talk of a course in elementary arithmetic, but that may be an
exaggeration.”

“My word! Well, Broadwood’s an awful up-and-coming place! I _have_
heard that they were going to introduce football――”

“Aw, cut it!” interrupted a disgusted voice from behind Toby. “That’s
old stuff!”

“Is it?” asked Arnold, innocently regarding the scowling countenance
showing around Toby’s shoulder. “We just heard of it. Much obliged.”

“Fresh snips,” growled another Broadwood youth. “I didn’t know they let
their juniors come to town.”

“What’s yours, gentlemen?” inquired the attendant behind the counter.

“Three hot sodas, please,” began Toby. But Homer interrupted, with a
wink.

“We’ll take three Broadwood punches, please.”

“I don’t know those,” said the clerk, smiling doubtfully. “Spring it.”

“There ain’t no such thing,” answered Homer.

“Give him the regular Yardley drink,” advised a hostile voice from
further along the counter. “Just fill a glass with hot air.”

Toby was beginning to wonder when the trouble would start, but at the
sound of the last voice Arnold leaned forward with a grin and, “Hello,
Tony!” he called. “How’s the boy?”

“Hello, Arn! That you shooting your silly mouth off? Come down here and
have something.”

“Can’t, thanks. How’s everything back in the hills?” But Tony was
making his way to them and an instant later Toby and Homer were being
introduced to “Mr. Spaulding, the world-famous athlete.” Tony Spaulding
proved to be a fine-looking fellow of seventeen or eighteen with a
remarkable breadth of shoulders and a pair of snapping black eyes. Four
other Broadwood boys were haled forward and introduced, and presently,
armed with glasses, they crowded around a diminutive table in the
rear of the store and hobnobbed very socially. Toby gathered during
the course of the ensuing conversation that Tony Spaulding was the
identical left tackle who had caused so much trouble to Yardley last
November, although Toby would never have recognized him in his present
apparel. It also appeared that Mr. Spaulding was a prominent member of
the Broadwood hockey squad and that he was looking forward with much
glee to meeting Arnold on the ice a month or so later. Another member
of the Broadwood contingent was dragged into the limelight with the
remark: “Towle, here, is going to play goal for us this year, Arn.
Johnny, you want to watch out for this shark, Deering, when we play
’em. If you see him coming, spread yourself, boy, spread yourself! And
maybe you’d better yell for help, too!”

It was almost dark when they tore themselves away from their friends,
the enemy, and set out for home, and quite dark by the time they
climbed the hill and reached the radiance of the lighted windows, Toby
bearing his new hockey stick with tender solicitude lest its immaculate
surface be scratched and Homer regretting the fact that he had intended
buying some peanut taffy and had forgotten it.

That was the afternoon preceding the game with St. John’s, and it
wasn’t until the next morning that it became certain that the game
could be played. But a sharp fall in temperature during the early
hours set the ice again and by three o’clock it was in fairly good
shape. That game wasn’t very exciting, for St. John’s showed a woeful
lack of practice and Yardley ran away with the event in the first half
and only supplied a spice of interest in the last period by throwing
an entire team of substitutes in. Toby, with many a better player,
watched the contest from the bench outside the barrier, sweatered and
coated against the cold of the afternoon but ready at any moment to
throw wraps aside and leap, like Mr. Homer’s Achilles, full-panoplied
into the fray. Still Toby didn’t really expect to be called on to
save the day, and he wasn’t. Flagg and Framer played point and played
it quite well enough. Frank Lamson took Henry’s place at goal in the
second period and it was against Frank that St. John’s was able to
make its only two tallies. The first team forwards, Crowell, Crumbie,
Rose and Deering, showed some fine team work that afternoon and won
frequent applause, but, as Sid Creel said to Toby, most any one could
have got past those St. John’s fellows. Halliday showed himself a
really remarkable cover point, and he and Flagg worked together like
two cog-wheels. The final score was 12 to 2, and it was very generally
agreed that Captain Crowell had material for a fine team and that
Yardley had made a good start on her way to the championship.

After the contest was over, willing hands swept the ice surface and
the third and fourth squads staged a battle which, if not quite so
skillful, had it all over the big show for excitement and suspense. As
Sim Warren, who had been playing goal for the fourth squad, was not on
hand, Stillwell, presiding in the absence of Loring Casement, looked
about for some one to take his place. Stillwell had little data to
work on and so solved the problem by moving the cover point to point
and the point back to the net, and filling the vacant defense position
with a substitute forward. Toby’s emotion at finding himself in charge
of the fourth squad’s goal was principally that of alarm. Ever since
Crowell’s remark to the effect that in his estimation Toby might make
a good goal-tend, Toby had secretly longed to play that position, but
this was so――well, so sort of sudden! He had watched Henry preside at
the net time and time again, watched admiringly and enviously, and
theoretically at least knew the duties of the office, but he was
possessed by grave doubts of his ability to profit by his observations.
However, he had no choice in the matter. Some one helped him strap
on a pair of pads, some one else thrust a wide-bladed goal-tender’s
stick into his hands and thirteen youths awaited his pleasure with
ill-concealed impatience. Then Stillwell blew his whistle, dropped the
puck and skated aside, and the battle was on.

There was nothing especially momentous about that half-hour’s practice
of the scrubs. They hustled around and banged away and got very excited
and were off-side every two minutes. And now and then they managed to
give a fair imitation of team-work. Stillwell, who would have much
preferred being up in the gymnasium talking over the afternoon’s game,
went through with his task conscientiously enough, but he was chary
with the whistle and many a foul went unpenalized. Of course, Toby let
several shots get past him, especially in the first fifteen-minute
half, when he was decidedly nervous every time the play approached his
end of the rink. Later, he settled down and made one or two clever
stops, one with his wrist. The latter was unintentional and deprived
him of the use of that member for several minutes. But his team-mates
applauded and so Toby didn’t mind. And after awhile the wrist stopped
hurting some. On the whole, Toby put up a pretty fair game at goal that
afternoon, doing better than the opposing goal-keeper by four tallies,
a fact which Stillwell noted and later mentioned casually to Crowell.

“Young Tucker played goal down there this afternoon,” he remarked.
“Warren was off and I didn’t know who else to put in. He wasn’t half
bad, Orson.”

“Tucker? Oh, is that so? That reminds me that I meant to have Loring
try him out at that very position. Glad you mentioned it. I’ll have
a look at him. Lamson let two mighty easy ones get by to-day, and we
could use another goal-tend if we had him.”

Which conversation would have been remarkably cheering to Toby could he
have overheard it at the moment. But he didn’t. What he did hear just
then was Arnold telling him to “Hold still, you chump! I know it hurts,
but this is good for it.” Whereupon Arnold rubbed the injured wrist
harder and Toby grinned stoically.



CHAPTER X

WITH THE FIRST TEAM


The second team was made up the following Thursday with Grover Beech
in charge as captain. Toby and Warren were retained as goal-tends
and ten other youths, among them Sid Creel, made up the squad. The
first team squad was cut that same day to fifteen, and about a dozen
unsuccessful aspirants departed to private life, or, in some cases,
to seek glory on their class teams. Toby was delighted with his good
fortune and turned all his thought and endeavors to the task of making
himself first-choice for the position. To that end, he read every
scrap of information he could find on the subject of a goal-tend’s
duties, ransacking the school library and borrowing wherever he heard
of a book that promised information. But it was surprising what a
lot of perfectly good authors had failed to deal with this absorbing
subject. Why, you could drag your finger over card after card in the
library index without finding a thing worth reading! Scott, Thackeray,
Lytton, Dickens, Boswell, Stevenson――not a work of advice as to how to
play goal on a hockey team! Still, Toby did manage to discover a fair
amount of hockey literature, and he read it all avidly and, could the
position of first team goal-tend have been awarded by a competitive
examination, either oral or written, Toby would have won hands-down!
When he had assimilated all the information he had read he took a
blue-book and wrote down what was practically a summary of it. That was
Toby’s scheme for registering indelibly on his brain anything that he
wanted particularly to remember. And it was a very excellent scheme,
too. Perhaps Toby’s summary may be of interest to you. It will if you
play hockey or expect to play it, and especially if your ambition looks
toward the position of goal-tend. Anyway, here it is, just as he wrote
it.

“The goal-tend’s position is probably the most responsible of all. If
he fails the opponents score, but if another of his team fails the
opponent only wins an advantage which may not result in a score. A
goal-tender should be cool-headed, plucky and very quick. Quickness
is very important. He should be quick to see a shot coming, to judge
where it is coming and to put himself into position to stop it. A
goal-tender need not be much of a skater or stick-handler, if he has
those other qualifications.

“The goal-tend must guard a space six feet long by four feet high and
so it will not do for him to stay in one position all the time. If the
play is in front of the net he should stand in the middle of the net,
but if the play is at one side he should stand at that side of the net
and steady his knee against the goal-post. The rules forbid kneeling or
lying on the ice and so if the puck is near the goal he should assume
a crouching posture, thus bringing as much of himself as possible near
the ice. The larger a goal-tend is the less space he has to look after,
because a shot is more likely to hit a fat fellow than a skinny one. He
should wear leg-guards that come well above the knees and the bigger
they are the better it is, because by bringing his legs together he can
then present a considerable surface in case of a low shot. He should
also have his shoulders, thighs and elbows padded, both to protect him
from injury and to increase his size.

“He ought not to use his stick to stop a shot with, unless the puck is
coming to him on the ice and slowly. He should try to put his body in
front of the puck or catch it with his hand. The hardest shot to stop
is one which is about knee-high. The goal-tend should watch the puck
every minute. He must never leave his goal unless he is sure that he
can reach the puck before any player of the opposing team can reach it
and there is no player on his own side to do it. When he has stopped
the puck he should sweep it aside and behind his goal if possible, but
never shoot it ahead of him because a player of the other team might
get it and shoot it before he was in position to stop it. When the puck
is behind the goal he should never take his eyes off of it and when it
approaches one side of the goal he should stand at that side and be
ready in case a player tries to hook it in. If there is a scrimmage in
front of the goal he should turn his skates out wide and keep his stick
on the ice also. In that way he can cover about twenty-four inches of
the goal. But if the puck comes toward him at either side he must be
ready to stop it with a skate or his stick.

“Goal-tend should be warmly dressed because he does not get so much
exercise as the other players. Moleskin trousers are better than khaki
or cotton because warmer. He should wear a light sweater and have
well-padded gloves. A goal-tend’s stick should be short with a broad
blade. Some players prefer a built-up stick, but it must not be more
than three inches wide at any place.”

But memorizing all this didn’t make Toby a wonderful goal-tend. It
doubtless helped him, but it is one thing to know what to do and quite
another thing to do it. Probably a week of practice was worth fully as
much as all his reading. On the other hand, it is possible that his
reading made it easier for him to understand what was wanted of him and
to profit by criticism. Grover Beech, the second team captain, was not
a very good instructor. He played a good game himself at cover point
and knew how the other positions should be played, but he lacked the
ability to impart information. Rather impatient and short-tempered, he
was far more likely to send a player who had performed poorly off the
ice and summon a substitute than attempt to show the offender how to
do better. In consequence, Toby, to a great extent, was thrown on his
own resources when it came to learning the science of the goal-tend’s
position. But he watched the first team goals and tried to fashion his
play on theirs, seldom offended twice in the same way and, when he had
been two weeks a member of the second squad, had defeated Warren in the
struggle for supremacy.

So far he had not dug into his hockey fund except to the extent of the
price of his new stick. He wore an old pair of running trunks loaned
by Homer Wilkins, a sweater of his own, a pair of ordinary thick
gloves of buckskin, and, for want of a toque such as the others wore,
went bare-headed. Arnold’s second-best skates performed all he asked
of them and an ancient pair of leg-guards, inherited by the Hockey
Club from some former player, answered their purpose fairly well. He
meant, however, to have his own guards and a good pair of gloves, and,
now that it seemed certain that he had won the right to play the goal
position on the second for the balance of the season, he only awaited
an opportunity to journey to Greenburg to purchase them. But on most
mornings recitations kept him busy and every afternoon was occupied
with practice, and so it was the Thursday of Yardley’s third contest
that the opportunity at last occurred. But before that other events of
interest had happened.

There was, for example, the hockey game with Carrel’s School, the
second contest on the Yardley schedule. Carrel’s presented a strong
and experienced seven, of which two members were past-masters in the
gentle art of shooting goals from all sorts of impossible angles.
Dave Henry, the Blue’s goal-tend, was considered rather a competent
youth, but that Saturday afternoon he had his hands full, so full, in
fact, that he couldn’t begin to hold all that came to them, with the
result that Carrel’s School led six goals to one at the end of the
first twenty-minute period and in the last half, in spite of Yardley’s
frantic, determined endeavors to hold her at bay and score a few
tallies herself, quite swept the Blue’s defense off its feet and scored
pretty much as she wanted to. It was a rattling good game, in spite of
its one-sidedness and the audience which lined the barrier, stamping
its feet and blowing on its numbed fingers, yelled itself quite hoarse
before the referee’s whistle blew for the last time. Seventeen to four
was the score then, and although the Yardley players gathered together
and waved their sticks and cheered tiredly for their rivals, there was
a noticeable lack of enthusiasm in that cheer. The wiseacres had to
go back three years before they could find another such overwhelming
defeat. Captain Crowell took the beating somewhat to heart, and even
Arnold, who was not easily cast-down, moped all the evening and refused
to be comforted by Homer or Toby or any one else.

On the following Monday Framer took Flagg’s place at point and Rose
gave way to Fanning at left wing. Also Crowell experimented with the
four-man defense style of play, which, while not so good for scoring,
at least is theoretically a fine style to keep your goal inviolate.
Crumbie was played back with Halliday on defense, leaving only three
men to meet the opposing attack until it was well down toward the
goal. The second team was summoned onto the ice “to be the goat,” as
Sid Creel phrased it, and there was a very pretty struggle. The second
swept through that four-man defense for three goals in each period,
causing Captain Crowell grave doubts as to the value of it. But the
first won, for neither Warren, who played through the first period,
or Toby, who officiated in the second, could stop more than half the
shots of the first team forwards. Sid Creel, slow-moving and apparently
sleepy, was a tower of strength at point that afternoon, and Beech
was as clever as usual at cover, but Crowell and Arnold Deering were
slippery skaters and accurate shots, and the illusive puck went into
the second’s net nine times in all.

The next day the four-man back idea worked better, Crumbie having
by then a better knowledge of his duties on defense and refusing to
be drawn out of position. Beech sought to meet the first team’s new
tactics by adapting the Canadian scheme of playing three forwards
abreast and the fourth behind. Beech selected the part of rover, but it
can’t be said that he made a shining success of it. In any event, the
first regained its old superiority over the scrub seven and won easily.
And, with a few exceptions, every following day witnessed a similar
result until, near the middle of the season, one Toby Tucker willed
otherwise.

Greenburg High School followed Carrel’s and met overwhelming defeat
at the hands of the Blue. But Greenburg was inexperienced and her
players were poor skaters and the result had been expected. The only
incident meriting mention was a fine goal by Arnold Deering in the
second period. Arnold had stolen the puck from a Greenburg player in
front of his own goal, had evaded the forwards, passed to Crowell near
the middle of the ice and had then received the puck back again when
the Greenburg cover point had challenged. The pass, however, had gone
behind him and he had had to turn and take it as it caromed off the
boards. He was not then in position to shoot and so, after breaking
past a member of the enemy team, he skated in, seeking a chance to pass
back to Crowell. Crowell shouted and Arnold slid the puck along the
ice, but at that moment a Greenburg youth charged into Crowell and the
puck dribbled by. Fanning should have rescued it, but Fanning was far
over at the other side and skating hard, and the Greenburg cover point
was the lucky one. But the cover point hesitated just an instant too
long and Arnold, doubling back, swept past him, stole the disc from
under his nose, dodged two opponents and bore down on the Greenburg
point. Crowell, who had sprawled on the ice, tried to get into position
for the pass, but was too late, and Arnold, sensing it, dodged the
point, keeping the puck away from the latter’s swinging stick by a
veritable miracle, circled the net at the rear and then, as he headed
back close to the goal, slipped the puck deftly between the post and
the goal-tend’s skate. As he did so two of the enemy crashed into him,
the net careened, the goal-tend sat down on the ice and in an instant
the air was full of kicking legs and thrashing sticks. But the puck had
gone in before the upset and the goal umpire’s hand had already been
raised when he was forced to flee from the careening net.

Greenburg protested somewhat perfunctorily and the audience cheered.
And Arnold was hauled out of the melee with a two-inch gash over his
left eye that put him out of the contest and gave him a desperate,
piratical look for several days.

Of course, viewed from the standpoint of perfect hockey, Arnold’s
exploit was nothing to cheer for. When a wing player has to skate
all over the shop and finally hook the puck in from back of goal he
naturally suggests to the unbiased mind that there was a lamentable
absence of team-play; which there was. Captain Crowell knew better
than to praise that performance. Instead, he told Arnold that it was
good skating, blamed himself for letting the cover point upset him and
waded into Fanning for being out of position. But the audience liked
it immensely and for some days Arnold’s exploit was the subject of
enthusiastic praise.

I forgot to say that the score of the Yardley-Greenburg High game was
16 to 3. Not that it matters greatly, however.

You are not to suppose that Toby spent all his time and thought on
the enticing game of hockey. On the contrary, Toby was putting in
some good licks at studying about this time. For one thing, he felt
in honor bound to vindicate the faculty’s selection of T. Tucker as
a recipient of a Ripley Scholarship, and for another thing mid-year
examinations were on. “Mid-years” are serious things, and it behooves a
chap to buckle down and get himself up on his studies, and especially
those studies which, all during the Fall Term, he has sort of squeezed
through on. So Toby worked hard and burned much midnight oil――only it
happened to be gas――and did excellently well in everything save Latin
and not so very badly in that. Poor Homer Wilkins came several croppers
and for a time anticipated severing his connection with the school.
But he managed by dint of many solemn promises and extraordinary
application to weather the storm. Arnold, too, had his troubles, but
they were not serious. Only two members of the first hockey team found
themselves in hot water, Henry and Dunphy, and these were barred from
playing until they had removed their conditions. There was said to be
some doubt about Dunphy’s return to the team that season, but Henry’s
absence from the ice was believed to be a matter of only a fortnight.
Orson Crowell accepted the matter philosophically. After all, things
might have been worse. He recalled one occasion, in his third class
year, when exactly six of a hockey squad of fifteen had been put on
probation after mid-years. Remembering that, he concluded that the
temporary loss of Henry and the possibly final loss of Dunphy were not
worth worrying about. Frank Lamson took Henry’s place at the net and
tried very hard to fill Henry’s shoes. He never succeeded, however,
even though, the week after the Greenburg game, an old-boy and former
hockey captain named Loring, patriotically responded to the call for
aid and put in five days of coaching, paying a great deal of attention
to the goal-tend. But even Alfred Loring could not make a perfect
net-man of Frank Lamson, although Frank did improve quite perceptibly,
and it was thought advisable to draw on the second team for a
substitute pending Henry’s release from probation, and the choice fell
naturally on Toby, who, by that time had plainly shown his superiority
to Warren.

And so, one cold and bleak Thursday afternoon, Toby found himself
practicing with the first, sliding from one side to the other of the
south goal while Stillwell and Gladwin and Casement and Rose rushed
down upon him, passing the puck from stick to stick, and finally
whanged the disk at him. He didn’t make a very brilliant showing that
afternoon, although he tried harder than he had ever tried, for the
first team substitutes had unusual luck in lifting the puck and time
after time it sped past him, knee-high, to nestle in the folds of the
net.

But his lack of success didn’t make him downcast, for he had formed a
wonderful resolution. It was to play goal better than Frank, so that
they would have to keep him on the first. I am afraid that the vision
of Frank Lamson being relegated to the scrubs had something to do with
Toby’s cheerfulness. But then, Toby didn’t pretend to be fond of Frank,
and he was quite human.



CHAPTER XI

TRADE FALLS OFF


The class hockey teams were hard at it by now, for the weather had
settled down to a fine imitation of an old-fashioned winter. The
baseball candidates and the track and field fellows were, perhaps, not
over-enthusiastic about it, and those who played golf made derogatory
remarks anent it, but some seventy boys who swung hockey sticks each
afternoon asked nothing better. The river was frozen five inches
deep and provided even better ice than the first team had on shore.
Two rinks were established opposite the boat house and on those the
four class teams skated and slashed and shouted every afternoon in
preparation for the three or four games which would later decide
the school championship. So far snow had been scarce, but what had
fallen still lay, crusted and glittering. Indoors the track athletes
were awaking from their hibernation and beginning the early drudgery
that was to prepare them for outdoor work. Even baseball was talked,
although indoor practice for that did not begin for another three
weeks. January and February, for those who find no outdoor interests,
are dull months at school, and Toby was very thankful that he had gone
in for hockey.

Business was none too good just now. It is hard to get one’s clothes
soiled when snow covers the world or when one doesn’t get out of doors
often. Of course one would suppose that weather or time of year would
have no effect on the business of pressing trousers and coats, but it
seemed to, and Toby’s trade was almost at a stand-still toward the
beginning of February. When Temple came around to solicit a reinsertion
of Toby’s modest advertisement in _The Scholiast_, the school monthly,
Toby was of two minds, whether to withdraw his card or make it larger.
In the end he decided to offer special prices for February, and Billy
Temple, sitting on the edge of the bed, wrote out the advertisement.

                      CLOTHES CLEANED AND PRESSED

                   =Special Reductions for February=

     Trousers Cleaned   25 Cents      Trousers Pressed   10 Cents
     Coats Cleaned      35 Cents      Coats Pressed      20 Cents
     Suits, including Waistcoats,     Suits Pressed      35 Cents
       Cleaned          60 Cents

                        Overcoats in Proportion

                    =My Work Is Equal to the Best=
                            Give Me a Trial

               GET YOUR WARDROBE IN ORDER NOW FOR SPRING

                      T. TUCKER, 22 WHITSON HALL

Lack of trade didn’t worry Toby as much as it would have had he not
won that scholarship, but he was glad when, that same evening, young
Lingard knocked apologetically and presented himself and four articles
of apparel to be cleaned and pressed. There was the same suit that Toby
had toilsomely freed from its adornment of green paint, and an extra
pair of trousers. This time the suit was spattered with some red-brown
stuff, the nature of which Tommy Lingard was at a loss, or pretended
to be at a loss, to explain. Toby frowned over it and finally said it
looked like iron rust, but Lingard expressed doubts.

“Well, I dare say it will come out,” said Toby. “Most everything does
except acid. Fellows ruin their things at chemistry and then wonder
why I don’t get the spots out of them. I’ll have these ready to-morrow
evening. By the way, Lingard, you never paid me for the last job, you
know.”

“Didn’t I really?” The boy’s voice expressed the greatest surprise, but
Toby wasn’t fooled. “H-how much was it?”

“Seventy-five,” answered Toby, referring to his memorandum book.

“I’m sorry, really.” Lingard searched his pockets and finally produced
a crumpled dollar bill from some recess, and Toby tried to dig up a
quarter in change. But sixteen cents was the best he could do, and he
was on the point of suggesting that the quarter be applied on the new
account when he remembered the hockey fund. He crossed to the bureau
and pulled the little box from its concealment and abstracted two
dimes and a nickel. Lingard was deeply interested in the gas-stove
when Toby came back――Toby had just finished pressing a pair of his own
trousers――and didn’t turn around until Toby spoke.

“Here you are, Lingard. Twenty-five cents. Much obliged. Will you come
for these or shall I leave them in your room?”

“I’ll come and get them, thanks, Tucker. To-morrow evening, you said?”

“Yes, any time after nine. Good-night.”

Lingard went off and Toby, after draping the garments on a hanger,
turned out his light and padded downstairs to see Arnold. It was
against the rules to use any cleansing fluid in the buildings after
dark and so Toby’s cleansing operations had to be done in the daytime.
He found Arnold and Homer playing host to Fanning and Halliday. There
was a box of biscuits open on the window-seat and Homer had fashioned
a pitcherful of orange-colored liquid which the fellows were drinking
from glasses and tooth-mugs. Homer kept an assortment of bottled
fruit-juices and could be relied on to produce a sweet and sickening
beverage at a moment’s notice. Toby declined the mugful of “Wilkins’
Orange Nectar” offered him, but helped himself to the biscuits and made
himself as comfortable as he could on Arnold’s bed.

“Don’t get the crumbs in there, for the love of lemons,” warned Arnold.
“I never could sleep comfortably on cracker crumbs.”

Homer chuckled. “Say, Arn, remember the time we filled Garfield’s bed
with crackers? Gee, that was a riot!”

“What was it?” prompted Ted Halliday, holding out his glass for more
“nectar.”

“Why, Garfield got fresh one time,” recounted Arnold, “and came in
here when we were out and pied the room. It was an awful mess when I
got back. He had turned all the pictures around, and stuffed a suit of
Homer’s clothes with pillows and put it in my bed, and――oh, just raised
Cain generally. He thought he was awfully funny, I guess. You remember
him, Fan?”

Fanning nodded, but Halliday looked blank.

“A big, round-faced fellow,” reminded Homer. “Roomed in 14 last year,
with Dickerman. Played guard on the second for awhile.”

“Oh, yes, I remember. Say, what became of him, anyway? He isn’t here
this year, is he?”

“No, he didn’t come back. Went to Andover or somewhere up that way,”
answered Arnold. “Well, anyway, Homer and I decided we’d get even with
him. Homer’s folks had just sent a box and there was about a half a
dozen boxes of soda crackers in it. So we emptied the lot in Garfield’s
bed. Sort of spread them around neatly and then tidied everything up
again so you wouldn’t ever think it had been touched. But afterwards we
thought that maybe he would just pick the crackers out and eat them.
So we went over and visited him that evening about nine and sat on his
bed. The way――”

“I thought every time we moved he’d hear the silly things go _crunch_!”
laughed Homer. “But he didn’t. We made an awful lot of noise――”

“He wanted us to sit in chairs,” chuckled Arnold, “but we told him we
preferred the bed. Said we were dead tired and wanted to lean back.
After a bit we got to rough-housing, just to finish the job nicely, and
we had it all over the bed, the crackers crunching finely. We had to
shout and howl so he wouldn’t hear them. He said we were a couple of
silly idiots and if we didn’t cut it out ‘Muscles’ would hear the row
and be up. So we let up after we’d rolled all over the bed and said
good-night to him and hoped he’d have a nice, restful sleep, and went
home.”

“Did he?” laughed Fanning.

“Like anything! After his light went out Homer and I opened the door
and listened. We didn’t have to listen long, though. We heard him
mutter something and then there was a roar and he landed out in the
middle of the room, I guess. We saw the light go on again and――well,
we thought we’d better go to bed about then. Which we did, locking
the door very, very carefully first. He almost broke it in before Mr.
Bendix came bounding upstairs to see what the trouble was!”

“Yes,” added Homer, “and the low-life told ‘Muscles’ about it and
showed him the bed! Garfield was one of those chaps who just love a
joke――as long as it isn’t on him!”

“What did ‘Muscles’ do?” asked Halliday delightedly.

“Not a thing. Told Garfield to shake his sheets out and go to bed. But
he wouldn’t speak to either of us for days and days; Garfield, I mean.
Seemed real peeved at us!”

“I’ll bet worse things than that have happened to him at Andover, or
wherever he is,” chuckled Fanning. “It doesn’t take long to find out a
fellow who can’t stand a joke, and then every one has a whack at him.
Garfield was a pill, anyway. I played left half that year on the scrub,
and Garfield was always funking. Just let some one kick him in the
shins and he was ready to quit. Talking about shins, fellows, I wish
you’d see the peach that I’m wearing just now. Every time any fellow
swings his stick it gets my left shin. I’ve got a regular map on it,
with every state a different color. I’m thinking of getting a pair
of leg-guards like Tucker wears. Those shin pads they give us aren’t
any good. Casement doesn’t even know they’re there when he gets to
slashing. I never saw a chap who could bang around with his stick the
way he can, and get away with it. Some day though, he will make me lose
my temper, and when he does he’s going to get something to remember.”

“Tut, tut,” said Halliday, soothingly. “What’s a crack on the shin
between friends? Save your revenge, Fan, and work it off on Broadwood.”

“Yes, you’ll have Tony Spaulding to fight then,” said Arnold.

“Is he such a wonder?” asked Fanning.

“You saw him last year, didn’t you?”

“Yes, but I didn’t think he was anything remarkable. He――”

“He scored six of their ten goals,” said Arnold. “That’s doing fairly
well, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I dare say, but Henry let a lot of shots get by him that never
ought to have been caged. Say, when’s Hen coming back? Lamson’s an
awful frost as a goal-tend.”

“About two weeks from now, he thinks,” replied Halliday. “He flunked in
German and got about a dozen conditions in other things.”

“Only a dozen?” asked Homer. “Well, if it takes him as long to make up
as it’s going to take me he will be back about June.”

“I wish he was back now,” said Fanning, gloomily. “Warren Hall won’t do
a thing to us to-morrow. Those chaps were born with hockey sticks in
their mouths, I guess.”

“Frank hasn’t made a bad showing,” said Arnold. “I don’t say he’s as
good as Henry, but I think he’s a pretty fair goal-tend.”

“Lamson couldn’t stop a medicine-ball if you rolled it at him,” jeered
Fanning. “Maybe he might if he’d stick around the net, but he thinks
he has to skate out and play point most of the time. Loring told him
yesterday that if he didn’t stay where he could touch the net all the
time he’d have him tied to it.”

“You’re prejudiced, I guess,” said Arnold warmly. “Other fellows think
Frank’s doing mighty well. I’ve heard lots of them say so, too. He
hasn’t had the experience that Henry’s had, of course, but he certainly
made some nice stops to-day.”

“All right, I don’t know anything about it,” agreed Fanning. “But I do
know that Warren Hall will shoot him so full of holes to-morrow that he
will look like a blooming sieve. Why, hang it, Arn, Toby Tucker here
can play goal better than Lamson right now! And Tucker never played
hockey until this winter!”

“Neither did Frank――much,” defended Arnold. “He played about a month on
the second last year――”

“He may get the hang of it,” interposed Ted Halliday, entering the
discussion, “but I think you’re dead wrong, Arn, when you say he can
play goal. To my mind he was never meant for a goal-tend. He’d make a
much better cover point, because he’s a good stick-handler and skates
well and is heavy enough to keep his feet when he’s checked. But
he’s dead slow at the net. If Henry doesn’t get back I’ll wager you
anything you like that Tucker plays goal against Broadwood.”

“Right!” agreed Fanning. Arnold shrugged his shoulders. Toby sat up
suddenly and almost choked on the cracker he was eating.

“Me!” he ejaculated.

“Surest thing you know,” asserted Fanning. “If Henry doesn’t work off
his conditions――”

“There’s only you and Lamson,” interrupted Halliday. “Unless they swipe
some fellow from the second, and I don’t know who he’d be. You’re a
heap better than Warren, aren’t you?”

“I――I suppose I’m a little better,” allowed Toby.

“Yes, and Warren’s a lot better than that new fellow, Guild. All you’ll
have to do is to beat out Lamson, and if you can’t do that I hope you
choke.” This was from Fanning. Arnold laughed.

“I’d be glad to see Toby get it,” he said, “but I don’t believe Lamson
is as bad as you fellows think he is. Anyway, Crowell is satisfied with
him.”

“Crowell doesn’t let you know whether he’s satisfied or dissatisfied,”
said Halliday. “Still, I don’t care who plays goal for us as long as
he stops Broadwood from scoring. That’s the main thing, I guess. I’ve
got to trot. Coming along, Fan? No more juice of the sun-kissed orange,
thanks, Homer. I’m full of it now. I’ll bet I’ve got enough different
kinds of chemicals inside me to stock a laboratory!”

“You have not!” denied Homer indignantly. “That’s pure fruit-juice
untouched by the human hand and passed by the board of censors.”

Halliday and Fanning took their departure, laughing, and Toby, so far a
very silent member of the party, broached the object of his visit.

“I wish you’d go over to Greenburg with me in the morning, Arn, and
help me buy some leg-guards and a pair of gloves. Will you?”

“Of course, if I can. What time?”

“Eleven? You don’t have anything then, do you?”

“Not on Saturday. All right. We won’t take Homer, though. He indulges
in too much levity on such solemn occasions.”

“Thanks, but Homer wouldn’t go if he was asked. Homer has given his
promise to expunge three conditions between now and the fifteenth day
of February, and what Homer promises, that he performs.” His expression
of implacable virtue was, however, somewhat marred by a cavernous yawn.
“Still, if you really need my advice, Toby――”

“No, thanks, I’m not buying neckties to-morrow.”

With which _bon-mot_ Toby closed the door behind him before Homer could
think of a suitable rejoinder.



CHAPTER XII

THE MARKED COIN


Frank Lamson was coming along the corridor as Toby reached the top of
the last flight. The fact that Stillwell’s door was open indicated
that Frank had been paying a visit to the substitute cover point. Toby
was for passing with a nod and a word, but Frank, who seemed to be in
unusually good humor, stopped.

“Hello, Sober Sides,” he greeted. “What’s the good word?”

“Hello, Frank,” answered Toby without much enthusiasm. “How are you?”

“Oh, fine! How do you like playing on a real team, Toby?”

“Pretty well. I’ll probably like it better when I get more――more used
to it. I dare say you found it hard at first, didn’t you?”

“Rather! You wait till you have Crowell and Arn and those chaps
shooting at you. Then you’ll know what playing goal really is. Say, I
heard that Dave Henry isn’t coming back. Know anything about it?”

Toby shook his head. “No. They were talking about it to-night in Arn’s
room, but I got the idea that he expected to get off probation in two
or three weeks.”

“Two or three weeks?” Frank repeated calculatingly. “That would make it
just before the Broadwood game. Well, I don’t wish him any bad luck,
but I’d like it just as well if he didn’t.” Frank grinned and winked
expressively. “I’d sort of like to play goal myself against Broadwood,
you see.”

“You think that if Henry didn’t get back you’d play?” asked Toby
innocently.

“Sure thing! Why not? Who else is there?” asked Frank in surprise.
“Unless you think you’re going to do it.” Frank was plainly amused.

“Well, if anything happened to you,” said Toby gravely, “I might have a
chance.”

“Nothing’s going to happen to me, Tobias. So don’t set your hope on
that,” chuckled Frank. “What could happen, eh?”

“Well, you might fall downstairs and break something, or you might
have measles or scarlet fever――”

“Don’t be an idiot,” growled the other. “I dare say you’d like
something to happen, though. I guess it wouldn’t do you much good,
however. You’re too green yet, son.”

“I suppose so,” agreed Toby reluctantly. “I dare say it will take me a
long time to learn to play goal the way you do, Frank.”

Frank nodded, placated and cheerful again. “Oh, I’m not such a much,”
he replied. “I can’t play the game Henry can yet, but I haven’t had
the practice he’s had. But if he stays out another two weeks or so it
might just happen that we wouldn’t want him so much. That chap Loring’s
a great coach. He’s showing me a lot of things. I’ll bet you that in
another week they won’t be getting ’em by me so’s you’ll notice it,
Toby.”

“Yes, a lot can happen in a week.” Toby agreed thoughtfully.

“Right-o! Well, good-night. How’s business? Still pressing? Oh, by the
way, old scout, I still owe you a small bit, don’t I?”

“One dollar, five,” answered Toby promptly.

“All right. I’ll pay that to-morrow, Toby. I really meant to settle it
long ago, but you know how it is. I blew in so much money at Christmas
that I came back stoney-broke. There’s a chap owes me a couple of
dollars, and I’ll collect it to-morrow and pay you, Toby. Good-night.”

Frank went off, whistling cheerfully, and Toby entered his room and
spread his books out. “I wish he would pay me,” he muttered. “But I
don’t suppose he will. And I wish――I wish I knew where he got that
scarf-pin!”

Toby hurried out of Mr. Gladdis’s English class the next forenoon at a
minute after eleven and scurried across to Whitson and up two flights
of stairs. In his room he dumped his books on the table, slipped on a
sweater under his jacket, put on his cap and then paused before the
door and thoughtfully patted his pockets. Wasn’t there something else?
Of course! He must take some money with him! So he went to the bureau
and, pulling open the second drawer, rummaged around for the little
pasteboard box that held his Hockey Fund.

“That’s funny,” he murmured, turning over the scanty contents of
the drawer. Finally he pulled everything out. The little box was
certainly not there! He shook each garment and put it back hurriedly
and agitatedly, and still no box came to light. He looked searchingly
about the room, on the table, on the bureau, even on the floor. Then he
went through the other drawers, tossing their contents about anxiously.
Finally, at a loss, he stopped and, plunging his hands into his
pockets, frowned at the floor.

[Illustration: “THAT’S FUNNY,” HE MURMURED]

“I had it out last night,” he recalled. “I made change for Tommy
Lingard. But I didn’t take it away from the bureau and I remember
putting it right back again. At least, I’m _almost_ sure. I suppose I
might have dropped it in my pocket. But I had these clothes on――” He
ransacked his pockets, but without success. Then: “It _must_ be here,”
he muttered, and once more he searched the second drawer in the bureau,
again taking everything out and shaking it thoroughly. But there was
no box and no six dollars and a quarter! It was certainly puzzling!
To make certain that he had not put the contents of the box in his
pocket, he turned his pockets inside-out. Sixteen cents, mostly in
coppers, that crumpled dollar bill that Lingard had given him, a knife,
a bone button that belonged on his overcoat and a skate key emerged
from his trousers. His waistcoat yielded his memorandum-book and a
leather case containing a fountain pen and two pencils. From his coat
he extracted a handkerchief, a small roll of lead wire, the inch-long
remains of a third pencil, a letter from his mother which had reached
him that morning and the end of a roll of adhesive tape. That was all.
He restored the articles to his pockets, all save the letter and the
button, and sank dejectedly into the dilapidated arm-chair.

At that moment footsteps came along the hall and Arnold called: “Are
you there, Toby?”

“Yes,” was the dismal response. “Come on in.”

“It’s nearly twenty minutes past eleven――” began Arn, appearing in
the doorway. Then he caught sight of Toby’s dejected countenance and
stopped. “Hello, what’s the matter, Toby?”

“I can’t find my money.”

“Can’t find it? Where was it?”

“In the bureau drawer. It was in a little box and I hid it under some
things there. And now it’s gone!”

“Oh, feathers! Look again. How much was it?”

“I have looked again. There was six dollars and a quarter in it.”

Arn whistled expressively and viewed the still open drawer. “Let me
have a look,” he said. But he was no more successful than Toby had
been. “You probably put it somewhere else,” he suggested brightly.
“Have you looked in the other drawers?”

“I’ve looked everywhere,” answered Toby sadly. “It――it just isn’t
anywhere!”

“You don’t suppose――you don’t suppose any one’s taken it, do you?”
asked Arnold, frowning.

“No one knew it was there. Besides, no one ever comes in here except
Nellie.”

“Well, Nellie wouldn’t take it. She’s been goody here for years. So, if
no one took it, it must be around somewhere. Come on and let’s make a
thorough search, Toby.”

Ten minutes later they acknowledged defeat.

“I’m awfully sorry, Toby,” said Arnold. “But maybe it will turn up yet.
Things do, you know, when you’re not looking for them. I guess, anyway,
it’s too late to go to Greenburg now, for I promised Frank I’d play
pool with him in the club at twelve. I’d lend you the money, but I’m
just about broke. I say, though, they’ll charge stuff to you, Toby.
They aren’t supposed to, but they do it right along. Lots of fellows
have accounts in Greenburg. If faculty doesn’t get on to it you’re all
right――as long as you don’t let things run too long. Maybe we can get
over Monday after dinner.”

“What’s the good of having them charged if I can’t pay for them?” asked
Toby morosely. “Anyway, I wouldn’t dare to. When you win a scholarship
you have to be mighty careful, don’t you?”

“I don’t know,” laughed Arnold. “I never won one yet. Well, cheer up,
old man. You’ll run across that money when you aren’t expecting to.
Come along up to Cambridge and play pool.”

“I don’t know how, thanks. You go ahead.”

“Well, come and watch me beat Frank then.”

But Toby refused and presently Arnold hurried away to keep his
appointment, leaving Toby staring disappointedly after him. “He’d
rather play pool with Frank than help me find my money,” he told
himself. Considering that Arnold had put in a good ten minutes of
searching, that was rather unjust, but Toby was in no mood to judge
persons or things fairly just now. “If it had been he who lost it,”
Toby muttered resentfully, “I’d have stayed around and helped him find
it. I wish I’d asked him to tell Frank to bring around that dollar and
five cents!”

Presently he set to work restoring the room to its wonted tidiness,
always hoping that the Hockey Fund would turn up. But it didn’t, and
when things were once more in place he banged the door behind him
and went downstairs and loafed disconsolately around the Prospect
until dinner time. It was much too cold for comfort, but Toby found
satisfaction in being miserable and cold.

He didn’t see Arnold at dinner, for he went into commons early, and
Arnold, staying late at the pool table in the Cambridge Club――one of
the two rival social and debating clubs of which the other was known
as Oxford――didn’t arrive until he had gone out. Toby cleaned young
Lingard’s clothes after dinner, filling Number 22 with the odor of
benzine, and then hung the garments on their hangers by an open window.
By that time it was nearly three and Toby went over to the gymnasium
and joining the throng in the locker-room, changed into hockey togs.
When he reached the rink Warren Hall was already hard at work, a dozen
sturdy-looking youths with black-and-yellow stockings, sweaters and
toques. Warren yielded the ice to Yardley, Toby and Frank skated to the
goals and ten minutes of practice followed. To-day Toby’s heart was not
in his work and about every other shot went past him into the cage.
It seemed to him that he spent most of his time hooking the puck out
with the blade of his stick. But he didn’t care. What Frank had said
last night was probably quite true, anyway. No matter how hard he tried
they’d never let him be more than a substitute this year. Even if Frank
failed to make good Crowell would probably take Warren from the second
to fill his place. The world was very unjust, and――

“Wake up, Tucker! Get onto your job!” cried Flagg at this point in his
reflections. “I can’t play point and goal too, you know!”

So Toby tapped his stick on the ice, crouched and gave a very good
imitation of a goal-tend with his mind on the game. The machinations
of the forwards were foiled, Toby stopping the waist-high shot with
his body and whisking the puck out of the way before Gladwin could
reach it. But the next charge was more successful, although the shot
was an easy one, and possibly it was well for Toby’s reputation as a
coming goal-tend that the referee, a Greenburg High School teacher,
blew his whistle about that time. Toby and the other substitutes skated
to the boards, climbed over, donned their coats and ranged themselves
on the benches. The two teams assembled about the referee and listened
to his warnings and the rival captains watched the fall of the coin.
Warren Hall, winning the toss, took the south goal. The players skated
to position. For Yardley, Frank Lamson was at goal, Framer at point,
Halliday at cover point, Crumbie at right center, Captain Crowell
at left center, Arnold Deering at right end and Rose at left end.
Jim Rose’s return to the first line-up was accepted on the bench as
evidence that he had proved his right to hold the position for the rest
of the season. Crowell and a tall black-and-yellow stockinged youth
faced off, the whistles blew and the game began.

Warren Hall started a march toward the Yardley goal at the outset, but
the right center was so slow on his skates that the rest of the forward
line were all offside before the middle of the rink was reached. The
puck was stopped, but Warren again secured it and her big cover point
once more started down the center toward the opponent’s cage. Captain
Crowell intercepted him, however, and took the puck away, and then,
keeping a straight course with his team-mates abreast, he skated down
to the black-and-yellow goal and shot through the outer defense for the
first tally. Crowell had made no attempt to fool the defenders and his
success was due to the fact that the Warren Hall goal-tend had the puck
hidden from him by his skates. Some three minutes later Yardley caged
the disk again after a very pretty exhibition of team work by Captain
Crowell and Jim Rose. Crowell carried the puck down the ice and passed
it to Rose near the Warren Hall goal. Rose slid it back to Crowell
and the latter snapped it in. Yardley’s cheers, however, were quickly
stilled, for a forward pass had been detected and the tally was not
allowed.

Subsequent to this disappointment Yardley tried hard to score, but were
unable to do so because of the stubborn defense of the black-and-yellow
goal-tend, who during the ensuing ten minutes made some really
remarkable stops. On one occasion Arnold Deering broke through and
had nothing between him and the net but the goal-tend. The latter came
out and made a neat stop, the puck bounding away from his leg-guard.
Had there been another Yardley player on hand to take a shot at that
moment the home team would have had another goal to her credit. The
Warren cover point started another of his bull-dog rushes, and, after
spilling Ted Halliday head-over-heels, himself came to grief when he
bumped Framer and went sprawling along the ice to bring up with a crash
against the boards. The game slowed up after that and the referee
had to warn both teams against loafing. The first period ended with
the score 1 to 0 in Yardley’s favor. Thus far the Blue had shown far
better offensive and defensive playing, save, perhaps, in the matter of
goal-tend. Frank Lamson had had but six chances and none of them had
been difficult, thanks to Halliday and Framer. Yardley had lost several
opportunities to score by slowing up near goal. Crumbie and Rose both
showed a tendency to hesitate when a quick shot would have scored, and
all save Captain Crowell showed the need of practice in shooting.

When the second period began Warren again scored the puck at the
face-off and took the offensive. She at once invaded Yardley territory,
but the man with the puck was “knifed” by Halliday and Framer. The puck
went up and down the rink, with neither team showing much in the way of
team-play. A scrimmage in front of the Warren Hall cage gave Arnold his
chance to shoot the disk past the goal-tend, but again a forward pass
was called and again Yardley had to swallow her disappointment. Shortly
after that Crumbie was sent off for one minute for loafing, and Warren
Hall tried desperately to penetrate the Yardley outer guard, but lost
the puck after every rush. Crumbie came back with instructions from
Coach Loring to keep the puck away from the Yardley goal. With five
minutes of the final period left, the play became fast and furious,
Yardley confining herself to the defensive. A black-and-yellow forward
was sent off for tripping. Halliday stopped a long shot in front of
his position and evaded the Warren Hall players to the net. But his
shot went three feet wide. Warren got together with the return of
the penalized player and showed a brief flash of team-work, taking
the puck down to her opponent’s goal and finally slamming a shot at
Lamson. Frank caught the puck with his hand, dropped it and flicked it
aside. It bounded off a skate and the Warren right center was on it
like a flash. A quick lift and the puck shot into the cage, passing
between Frank Lamson’s body and the side of the net. Had Frank shifted
himself four inches he would have made the stop, but it all happened so
suddenly that he was caught unawares. The period ended with the score
tied.

After a five-minute rest the teams went back to it again for a “sudden
death” period, the first team scoring to win. Gladwin went in for
Crumbie and Casement for Deering, and Warren Hall tried a new cover
point. All kinds of chances were taken by both sevens, but to no avail.
Crowell had two opportunities to bring the game to an end, but he
failed to produce a tally. Once he reached the net unchecked but lost
his balance and was unable to shoot. A second time his try was neatly
stopped by the goal-tend. Had he followed his shot then he might still
have secured a tally, but he swung to the right and the rebounding puck
was slashed aside by the point. Darkness made it almost impossible to
see the puck now, and when, at the end of nine minutes, a flurry of
snow began to fall the referee blew his whistle and brought the game to
a disappointing and indecisive end.

Toby took his way back to the gymnasium through the snowy twilight
with the rest. Personally he was less concerned with the disappointing
outcome of the game than with the loss of his money. Of course he had
wanted Yardley to win, but there are more important things in life than
a hockey victory, and one of them is losing six dollars and twenty-five
cents when that amount has been earned by hard labor and represents
something very much like a small fortune. Every one else was talking
at the top of his voice in the locker room and proving, at least to
his own satisfaction, that, in spite of the final scores, the contest
rightfully belonged to Yardley.

“I wish Ted Halliday would fix up a return game with them,” said Framer
earnestly. “That’s what I wish.”

“That referee chap was crazy in the head like an onion,” proclaimed
Simpson, who had been detached from the second team to take Dunphy’s
place. “Every time we shot a goal he called offside on us.”

“Oh, I guess he was all right,” said Jim Rose. “I know for a fact that
Cap was offside that first time when I passed to him. There’s no use
growling at the referee, Simp.”

Toby waited around a few minutes for Arnold, but when he discovered him
talking with Frank Lamson, still only partly dressed, he made his way
out and walked over to Whitson alone. Back in Number 22, he searched
for the missing box for the fifth or sixth time. A half-hearted attempt
to polish up his morrow’s algebra was interrupted by the six o’clock
bell and he went down to commons.

The occupants of Table 14 had recovered their spirits, if they had lost
them, and were very merry that evening. Or most of them were. Toby was
not. Toby satisfied a healthy hunger in almost uninterrupted silence
and viewed life gloomily. Supper was half over when Arnold came in.
Gladwin at once started a discussion of the game and he and Arnold, who
seldom agreed on any subject under the sun, were soon at it across the
board. Gladwin was a bit cocky by reason of having been sent in in
the overtime period and was more than ever inclined to think his own
opinions about right.

“We had the game sewed up until Lamson made that rotten fluke,” he
declared. “Gee, a child could have stopped that shot! The puck wasn’t
even going fast!”

“I don’t believe any fellow would have stopped it,” answered Arnold
stoutly. “I was right there and I saw it. Frank whisked it to the right
and it hit off some one’s skate and a Warren chap had a clean path to
the net. It was all done in a second and Frank didn’t have time to get
into position again.”

“Piffle! He was standing right by the left post when the shot was
made,” returned Gladwin. “If he had kept his eye on the puck he’d have
seen it and stopped it with his body. The trouble was he lost sight of
it. I tell you, if you’re going to play goal――”

“Oh, you make me tired,” said Arnold shortly. “If a goal-tend could
stop every shot no one would ever win a game!”

“I don’t expect him to stop every shot, but when it comes to an easy
one like that――”

“It wasn’t an easy one, I tell you. It may have looked easy to you
sitting on the bench――”

“It sure did! And it looked easy to every one else except you and
Lamson, I guess. You saw it, Tucker. Did it look to you to be a hard
shot to stop?”

Toby hesitated an instant. As a matter of fact, he considered Frank
Lamson’s failure to make the stop quite excusable, but he wasn’t
feeling very kindly toward Frank, nor toward Arnold either. “It looked
pretty soft to me,” he answered.

“Sure!” said Gladwin, triumphantly. “That’s just what it was, soft!”

“Maybe you’ll have a chance to stop some of those ‘soft’ ones,” said
Arnold crossly to Toby. “Then we’ll see how well you can do it.”

“I’ll bet he’d have stopped that one,” said Gladwin. “What do you say,
Warren?”

The second team goal shrugged. “I wasn’t in position to see the shot,”
he said. “But I know it’s a mighty easy thing to criticize a goal-tend,
Glad. Some of you fellows who think it’s so easy had better get out
there sometime and try a few!”

“That’s right,” agreed Arnold. “You have a go at it sometime, Glad.
I’ll bet you wouldn’t be so critical of others then.”

“That’s no argument. I’m not a goal. Lamson is, or pretends to be,
and――”

“Chuck it, Glad,” advised Jack Curran. “Lamson did the best he could, I
guess. What’s the good of throwing the harpoon into him? You wouldn’t
like it yourself, would you?”

“Oh, well, what does Arn want to pretend that Lamson’s the finest
goal-tend in the world for?” grumbled Gladwin. “I haven’t got anything
against Lamson, only――”

“Well, quit knocking him then,” retorted Arnold. “I don’t say he’s a
wonder. I say he’s doing the best he knows how, and when a fellow does
that――”

“Angels can’t do more,” said Homer Wilkins, soothingly. “Let’s talk
about something else for a minute. I’m a bit fed up on Lamson.”

Toby pushed back his chair and Arnold looked up. “Wait for me, Toby,
will you?” he asked.

“I’ve got some work to do,” answered Toby stiffly.

Arnold shrugged. “Oh, all right. I just wanted to give you this.
Catch!” A crumpled envelope fell to the table with a tinkle in front
of Will Curran, and the latter passed it on to Toby.

“What is it?” asked Toby.

“Money or something. Frank asked me to give it to you this noon and I
forgot all about it.”

“Oh! Thanks.” Toby dropped the envelope in his pocket and turned
away. Homer Wilkins smiled at his plate and Kendall and young Curran
exchanged winks. Toby’s jealousy of Frank Lamson was no longer a
secret. Arnold caught the wink, flushed, scowled and blamed Toby for
the moment’s embarrassment he felt. On the way upstairs Toby regretted,
just as he usually did, his churlishness, and hoped that Arnold would
overlook it and come up to Number 22 later. He wished that he hadn’t
taken sides with Gladwin, too. As little as he liked Frank Lamson, he
thought that Frank had played a very good, steady game that afternoon
and deserved credit. He felt that he owed Frank an apology, which did
not tend to make him any more satisfied with himself. Up in his room,
he pulled the envelope from his pocket and emptied the contents into
his palm. A half, two quarters and a five-cent piece lay there. Frank
had paid in full, and Toby started to find his memorandum book and
scratch off the debt. But his hand paused on its way to his vest pocket
and he stepped swiftly to the light and peered curiously at the coins
in his palm. An expression of amazement came to his face. Dropping all
but one twenty-five cent piece on the table, he took that between his
fingers and examined it, for an instant incredulously, finally with
satisfaction.

The only apparent point of difference between that quarter and the
other one was that just over the date the letters “E. D.” had been
punched into the silver. The D was indistinct, but the first letter
had cut deep into the coin, as though some one had struck the cutting
die an uneven blow. The letters were about half again as large as the
numerals in the date, large enough to attract the attention of any
one glancing at that side of the coin. There was nothing startling
in the presence of the initials. Toby had frequently been possessed
of coins having letters stamped or scratched on them. Nor was he at
all concerned as to the identity of “E. D.” What accounted for his
interest was the fact that over a month before, in New York City, he
had received that identical quarter in change at a dry goods store and
that as late as twenty-four hours since it had reposed in a little
paste-board box in his second bureau drawer.



CHAPTER XIII

TOMMY LINGARD EXPLAINS


Toby seated himself at the table, rested his chin in his hands and,
with the twenty-five cent piece before him, tried to think what it
all meant. The quarter had been in the box, the box had mysteriously
disappeared and now the quarter had turned up again. Logic told him
that the person who had sent him the quarter had taken the box, but
that, of course, meant theft, and, for all his dislike of Frank
Lamson, he couldn’t believe him a thief. Frank might be overbearing
and self-important and something of a snob, and possess numerous other
faults that Toby couldn’t think of just at the moment, but dishonesty
was another matter. Besides, Frank’s folks were well-to-do, if not
actually wealthy, and Frank had plenty of spending money――even if he
didn’t pay all his bills promptly.

Another circumstance against the logical theory was that Frank hadn’t
known of the existence of that six dollars and a quarter, much less,
where it was kept. But, for that matter, neither had any one else known
of it, and yet beyond the shadow of a doubt some one had taken it. Hold
on, though! Perhaps some one had known of it! He had gone to the bureau
when Tommy Lingard was in the room, and, although he hadn’t taken the
box from the drawer, Tommy might easily have guessed the existence of
it. That put a new phase on the matter, and Toby frowned harder than
ever. Granting that Tommy had known of the money being there, it would
have been an easy thing for him to have taken it. No fellow ever locked
his door at Yardley, whether he was in or out, and young Lingard might
have walked into Number 22 at any time during Toby’s absence. So might
any one else. Frank Lamson, for instance. Somehow it seemed quite as
impossible to connect Tommy Lingard with the theft of the money as
it was to suspect Frank of it, though not for the same reason. Toby
believed that Frank was honest. He didn’t have the same conviction
regarding Tommy Lingard, but Tommy was such a shy, ingenuous youngster
that one couldn’t imagine him having the courage to either plan a
burglary or, having planned it, carry it out. Suspecting Tommy of
robbery was like suspecting a canary of murder! Still――

Toby sat back suddenly and thrust his hands into his pockets, staring
at a crack in the plaster with half-closed eyes. Last night he had
found Frank coming along the corridor. Because Stillwell’s door had
been ajar Toby had presumed that Frank had come from that room. But he
might just as well have come from 22! And Frank had himself recalled
the debt and offered to pay it on the morrow, just as though――as though
he had suddenly come into funds! Toby wished that he knew whether Frank
had really been to see Stillwell. If he hadn’t――

After a moment he arose resolutely and crossed the corridor to Number
23. Stillwell was at home, and, although he had his books spread
before him on the table, he was concerned with a quite different task
than studying. He had three hockey sticks across his knees and was
binding electric tape around the blade of one of them. He looked mildly
surprised at Toby’s entrance, but was cordial enough.

“I’m patching up some old sticks,” he explained. “They do well enough
for practice. Sit down, Tucker. What’s on your mind?”

“I can’t stay, thanks,” answered the visitor. “I want to ask you a
question, Stillwell. You may think it’s funny, and you needn’t answer
it if you don’t want to. Anyway, I’d rather you didn’t tell any one I’d
asked it.”

“Hello! What’s the mystery? Fire away, Tucker. I’ll be as silent as the
grave. Only, if it’s anything incriminating――”

“Did Frank Lamson visit you last night?”

“Huh? Frank Lamson?” Stillwell looked at Toby in a puzzled way and
shook his head slowly. “Not last night, Tucker. Lamson hasn’t been here
this term as far as I know. Unless, of course, he came when I was out.
But he couldn’t have done that last night because I was here all the
evening.”

“You’re――you’re sure?”

“Don’t be an idiot, Tucker! Of course I’m sure. What’s the row, anyway?”

“It’s nothing of any importance,” said Toby. “Much obliged.”

“You’re welcome,” laughed the other, “but I’ll be lying awake half
the night trying to solve the mystery. You really oughtn’t to spring
anything like that, Tucker, unless you can come across with the answer!”

“I’m sorry,” replied Toby apologetically. “I’d explain it if I could,
but I really can’t, Stillwell.”

“All right, my boy. Don’t let it bother you. If Lamson committed the
foul deed, I hope the hounds of Justice get him.”

“W-what foul deed?” stammered Toby in surprise.

Stillwell laughed again. “Don’t ask me! I’m only guessing.”

“Oh!” Toby’s ejaculation expressed relief. He smiled. “You’ve been
reading dime novels, I guess. Good-night, and thanks.”

Outside the door the smile vanished. Of course, this new evidence was
only circumstantial, but it certainly supported the original theory.
What puzzled Toby chiefly, though, was why Frank should steal――that
is, take the money. If Frank needed money he could probably get it any
time by writing home for it. There was, Toby decided as he closed his
door behind him, just one explanation, which was that Frank had done it
out of pure meanness! But that wasn’t a very satisfactory explanation,
after all. Further reflection was interrupted by Tommy Lingard, who
came for his clothes. While Toby was taking them from the hangers
he studied the younger boy intently. Tommy Lingard was thirteen, a
pink-and-white youngster with light brown hair and a pair of big dark
blue eyes. He was a handsome youth, in spite of a very turned-up nose,
and had a rather engaging way of coloring shyly when spoken to. No,
thought Toby, this picture of innocence could never have stolen the
money. Nevertheless Toby remarked carelessly as he folded the clothes
on the end of the table:

“Sorry I was out when you came before, Lingard.”

The other boy reddened, but his eyes only grew rounder in surprise.
“I――I didn’t come before, Tucker,” he said. “I thought they wouldn’t be
ready until to-night.”

“Oh, I sort of thought you did,” replied Toby. “Here you are, then.”

“Th-thanks. How m-much is it, please?” stammered Lingard.

“A dollar and twenty. I won’t charge for pressing the extra trousers,
Lingard. They didn’t need much.”

Tommy Lingard fished in his trousers pocket and drew out two folded
bills and some change. One of the bills was of two-dollar denomination
and the other of one. Lingard handed the latter to Toby and selected
two dimes from amongst the coins. “That’s right, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Y-yes,” replied Toby. He was looking curiously at the dollar bill and
apparently didn’t see the change that Lingard was holding out to him.
“Yes, that’s right,” he went on. “Much obliged.”

“Here’s the twenty cents,” said the other.

“Oh, yes, thanks.” Toby accepted it. Then his gaze went back to the
bill. Lingard walked toward the door.

“G-good-night,” he said.

“Good-night, Lingard.” Then, as the door was shutting behind the
youngster, Toby called. “I say, Lingard, just a moment, please!”

“Yes?” Lingard’s voice sounded faint.

“Er――you don’t happen to know where you got this, do you?” asked Toby,
holding the bill out. Lingard retraced his steps slowly and looked at
it. There was a full moment of silence. Then:

“N-no, I don’t,” Lingard said slowly. “You see, I――” He stopped. “Why,
of course I do!” he exclaimed triumphantly then. “I’d forgotten. Frank
Lamson gave it to me this morning. I owed him a dollar and he asked me
for it and I gave him a two-dollar bill. Is――isn’t it all right?”

“Oh, yes, I――I just wondered. It’s been torn, you see, and mended with
a strip of court-plaster. It struck me that the court-plaster was a――a
funny thing to patch a bill with. Maybe Frank did it, eh?”

“He might have. I――I guess it’s just as good, isn’t it?”

“Oh, certainly. You’re sure he gave it to you, eh?”

“Yes, I remember quite well now,” replied Lingard promptly. “I borrowed
a dollar of him last term to pay for having my trunk mended, and I
forgot all about it until this morning――”

“You and Frank are friends, then?”

“Oh, yes. We live in the same street in New York, you know. Sometimes
he borrows from me――when I have it.” Lingard paused. Then: “If you
don’t mind, Tucker, I’d rather you didn’t mention it to any one. I
guess he wouldn’t want it known.”

“Why not?”

“Why――why, you see, other fellows might want to borrow from him. I――I’d
rather you didn’t, please.”

“All right, Lingard. Good-night.”

When the visitor’s footsteps had died away on the stairs Toby sat
himself down at the table again, spread the dollar bill before him and
then from the table drawer produced a little case containing three
sheets of court-plaster. One was pink, one white and one black. The
pink was whole, the black had been reduced to about half its original
size and the white had had a strip about a quarter of an inch wide cut
from its lower edge. Toby looked intently from that oblong of white
sticking-plaster to the bill. Then he tore a piece of paper from a
scratch-pad and found a pencil. Untying the little knot of silk that
held the court-plaster book together, he extracted the pink sheet and
laid it on the piece of paper and with the pencil carefully traced the
outline of it. When that was done he laid the sheet of white plaster
in place of the pink, and fitting it to the top and sides of the
outline, passed his pencil across the bottom edge. After that he took
his scissors and painstakingly cut out the quarter-inch strip remaining
between the two bottom marks. As he had expected, the little piece
of paper exactly fitted the strip of white court-plaster pasted over
the edges of the tear in the dollar bill. There was no possibility of
doubt. The two tallied to the hundredth part of an inch.

Toby tied up the court-plaster book again and restored it, with the
scissors, to the table drawer. Then, actuated by what motive he
scarcely knew, he slipped the bill and the telltale strip of yellow
paper into an envelope and placed that in the drawer too. And after
that he laced his fingers together behind his head and leaned back
and frowned intently at the flickering gas-jet. That dollar bill had
come into his possession just after his return from vacation. Who had
paid it to him he couldn’t recall now. But he remembered perfectly
discovering the tear in it and how, fearing it might increase if not
mended, he had hit on the, to him, clever idea of patching it with a
strip of court-plaster. It was, he reflected, rather odd that the only
two pieces of money in the little box which he could have identified
should both have come back to him! He no longer doubted that Frank
Lamson had taken the little box and its contents from his bureau
drawer, although he could not for the life of him find a satisfactory
motive for the theft. Unless, and after all that was the most plausible
theory, Frank had been pressed for money and Arnold had mentioned to
him that Toby had a fund stowed away to buy hockey things. Wanting a
better explanation, that must do, Toby told himself.

The next question was what was to be done about it. Toby’s proof,
while positive to him, might not seem so to others. If he accused
Frank and demanded the restitution of the stolen money Frank would,
probably, deny emphatically and indignantly. It would be his word
against Frank’s, and Frank was fairly well-liked and popular. But then
he wouldn’t make it public, in any case, and a popular verdict had
nothing to do with the affair. What he wanted was only the restoration
of his six dollars and a quarter and if Frank refused to give it back
to him the matter would have to rest right there. Toby had no notion
of making the affair known. But, he thought vindictively, whether Frank
was willing to restore the money to him or wasn’t, he would have the
satisfaction of telling Frank what he thought of him! To be able to
tell Frank Lamson to his face that he was a thief was almost worth the
loss of the money! He planned and replanned what he would say. Even
if he didn’t intend to make the matter public there’d be no harm in
threatening Frank with it. He could scare him, at least. Frank, of
course, would bluster and try to laugh at him, but for once that sort
of thing wouldn’t work. Toby had the upper hand.

There was no studying done in Number 22 Whitson that evening. Nor
was Toby disturbed again by visitors. He quite forgot his wish that
Arnold would look him up. He forgot Arnold too. His mind was very busy
planning how to wreak vengeance on Frank Lamson. He had not realized
before to-night how thoroughly he hated that youth!



CHAPTER XIV

A QUESTION OF COLOR


I have already remarked that things look very different in the morning
from what they do at night. Toby rolled out of bed some eight hours
later with his mind made up to say nothing about the theft to any one,
not even to Frank Lamson! Just when this resolve had come to him and by
what process of reasoning he didn’t know, for he had certainly gone to
sleep almost fidgety with the desire for morning and the opportunity
to confront Frank with the charge of theft. There is a saying that the
night brings counsel. It would be nearer the facts to say that sleep
clears the brain. Violent emotions such as anger generate a poison, the
scientists tell us, and sleep is one of the antidotes. Toby went to bed
with a good deal of poison in his system and woke up quite free from
it. He was just a little bit surprised at his change of heart, but he
was more glad than surprised. After all, nothing was to be gained by
making trouble for Frank. Evil-doers suffer eventually, anyway, and
there was no reason why Toby should assume the rôle of Retribution.
Besides, and I think this had a good deal of weight with him, Arnold
liked Frank and believed in him, and Toby, now that he was no longer
peeved with Arnold, didn’t want to cause him any pain. Six dollars
and a quarter was still six dollars and a quarter, just as it had
been last night, but it wasn’t worth acting the cad for! Business was
looking up again, thanks, possibly, to the cut-rates advertised in _The
Scholiast_, and it wouldn’t be more than a week or so before he would
have another six dollars. Meanwhile the purchase of hockey gloves and
leg-guards could wait. Oddly enough, he found that his sentiment toward
Frank Lamson this morning was far more charitable than it had been a
week ago. Dislike was tinctured with pity. As a rival, either in hockey
or in the affections of Arnold, Frank seemed much less formidable. So
far as he was concerned, Toby decided as he shuffled down the corridor
to the bath, the incident was closed.

At breakfast Arnold’s manner showed that he had forgotten Toby’s
aloofness of the evening before and when the meal was over they went
up to Number 12 and talked until it was time to go to chapel. Of course
Arnold wanted to know if Toby had found his money, and was surprised
when told that he hadn’t. He was so genuinely sorry that Toby secretly
called himself a beast for ever doubting Arnold’s affection.

“Tell you what I’ll do, Toby,” said Arnold finally. “I’ll strike for
an extra ten dollars and loan you six or seven, or whatever you want.
I haven’t asked for any extra funds for months and months; anyway, not
since November. Dad’s pretty firm about keeping inside my allowance,
but I have a hunch he likes to slip me a little extra now and then if I
can give him a decent excuse. Let’s see, now, what’ll I tell him?”

“Tell him you need a hair-cut,” suggested Homer, who had come up a
minute before. “That’s what I always say.”

“Ten dollars for a hair-cut,” mused Arnold, “sounds a bit thick,
doesn’t it? Guess I’ll just say that I want to make a loan to a chap.
That’s a new one and dad may fall for it.”

“Thanks, Arn,” said Toby, finally defeating the temptation to accept
the loan, “but I’d rather you didn’t. I’ll make that money up in a
week or so and never know I lost it. The trouble about borrowing,” he
added wisely, “is that you have to pay up.”

“There wouldn’t be any hurry about it. You could pay a dollar now and
then, whenever you happened to have it. Better let me do it, Toby.”

But Toby was firm and Arnold finally gave up the scheme. “Too bad,
too,” he mourned, “because that was a brand-new and original touch, and
I’d like to have seen whether it would work!”

Hockey practice the next afternoon was more than ordinarily strenuous.
Mr. Loring, the volunteer coach, was back again after an absence of
a few days, and made things hum. A new combination of forwards was
tried out against the second, Crowell going from left center to left
wing and Jim Rose taking the captain’s place. But, although that
change lasted until Wednesday, it produced no great improvement, and
on Wednesday Crowell and Rose returned to their former positions. Toby
had his first real dose of goal-tending that Monday afternoon, taking
Frank Lamson’s place in the second period. To say that he did better
than Frank would be an exaggeration, but it’s fair to say that he did
as well, and, since Frank had made several good stops that afternoon
and held the second team to two tallies, saying that speaks well for
Toby’s progress as a goal-tend. In the last half the second put the
puck into the net three times. Simpson, Casement and Fanning had been
sent in and the second team found them easier to contend with than the
first-choice forwards. During the last five minutes of play Stillwell
took Halliday’s place at cover point, and it was during Stillwell’s
incumbency that the second scored that third goal. Stillwell took
the wrong man, and Fraser, at point, allowed himself to be drawn too
far out. A quick and clever pass in front of goal gave a second team
forward a pretty chance for a score and, although Toby partly stopped
the lifted puck with his hand, it dropped to the ice just inside the
cage. Toby felt badly about that tally, but no one else seemed to. The
first had a four point lead and another tally for the opponent mattered
little. But after practice was over Coach Loring stopped Toby at the
bench as he was pulling his coat on.

“Let me see those gloves you’re wearing, Tucker,” said Mr. Loring.

Toby exhibited them and the coach sniffed his contempt. “No wonder that
shot got by you,” he said. “Doesn’t it hurt to stop the puck with those
things?”

“Er――yes, sir, sometimes it does.”

“So I’d think. Why, those aren’t padded at all, Tucker! Where’d you get
them? Haven’t you any others?”

“No, sir, I haven’t any others. These are some I had. I――I’ve been
thinking of getting some heavier ones――”

“You’d better do it, my boy. Get a good pair of goal-tender’s gloves
and throw those away. Those aren’t thick enough to keep your hands
warm, and you might very easily get a shot that would break a bone. Can
you buy gloves in Greenburg now? You couldn’t when I was here.”

“Yes, sir, they have them at Fessenden’s.”

“Better attend to getting them before you play again. If you’d had a
heavy pair on to-day you could have stopped that last shot and saved
your team a goal, couldn’t you?”

“I think so. It――it was pretty hard.”

Toby had donned his coat and they were following in the wake of the
others up the board-walk to the gymnasium. Toby didn’t know whether to
try to fall behind or hurry ahead. It was scarcely conceivable that
the coach wanted his company all the way up the hill! But Mr. Loring
settled the matter himself just then.

“How long have you been playing goal, Tucker?” he asked.

“About three weeks, sir.”

“Where’d you play before that? Point, I suppose.”

“Yes, sir, a few days.”

“Were you with the second last year? I don’t seem to remember you.”

“No, sir, I wasn’t here last year.”

“Oh, that’s it? But you played somewhere else, I suppose.”

“No, I never played until last month, Mr. Loring.”

The coach looked surprised. “Never played hockey at all? Well, but――you
don’t want me to believe that you’ve learned all you know about playing
goal in a month, Tucker?”

“Yes, sir, but I’m afraid I don’t know very much,” responded Toby
apologetically.

“Hm, I don’t know. I’ve seen worse playing. When you learn to move a
little bit quicker you ought to do pretty well.” The coach turned and
surveyed Toby speculatively. “Pull that cap off a minute.”

Toby obeyed, wonderingly.

“Thought so! It’s red, isn’t it?”

Toby flushed and swallowed hard. Then: “Brown, sir,” he answered
firmly. The coach laughed.

“Brown, is it? All right, Tucker, my mistake. I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right,” murmured Toby, forgivingly.

“Oh, I wasn’t apologizing,” retorted the coach, dryly. “I meant that
I was sorry it wasn’t red. You see, Tucker, I have a theory that a
goal-tend ought to have red hair.”

Toby looked his surprise. “Why, sir?” he asked.

“Because, Tucker, it has been my experience that fellows with red hair
are fighters. When I played football I always looked the other team
over for red-heads and if I saw one I kept close tabs on him. I don’t
think I ever saw one yet that didn’t bear a lot of watching. Now you
know why I’m a little disappointed in your case. Just at first, when
you took your cap off, I thought there was a reddish tinge to your
hair. Probably it was due to the sunset or the reflection from the snow
or something.”

There wasn’t any sunset, or, if there was, it wasn’t visible, and it
was so nearly twilight that to talk of reflection from the snow was
nonsense. Toby glanced at the coach suspiciously, but Mr. Loring’s face
looked quite guileless.

“It’s always been a sorrow in my young life,” went on the coach
meaningly, “that I didn’t have red hair. I’d have done a heap better at
everything, I guess.”

“You――you’re fooling, aren’t you, sir?” asked Toby.

“Fooling? Nary a fool, Tucker. Red hair is the hall mark of
getthereness, Tucker. It means pep and fight and determination,
red hair does. Sometimes it means temper, too, but temper is all
right if you learn to control it. And sometimes――” he paused a
moment――“sometimes it means stubbornness. But stubbornness is all
right, too, if exercised in a good cause. Of course, when a fellow says
that black is white, when he knows it isn’t, and sticks to it, or
insists that red is――ah――brown――”

Toby burst out laughing and Mr. Loring turned and regarded him
smilingly, his thoughtful solemnity gone.

“It――it’s a little red, sir,” gasped Toby.

“I thought it couldn’t be all due to the sunset,” responded the coach
with a chuckle. “Well, here we are.” They stopped at the gymnasium
steps. “Where do you room, Tucker?”

“In Whitson, sir. Number 22.”

“That’s on the third floor, isn’t it? Mind if I look in on you some
time? I haven’t really finished my little lecture on red hair.”

“No, sir, only――”

“Only what? You mean you’re busy and have no time for callers?”

“No, sir,” floundered Toby. “I mean――I was afraid――you see, my room
isn’t very――very comfortable――”

“Oh, that’s it? Well, you’ve got a chair, I dare say.”

“Two of them,” answered Toby.

“Fine! Going to be in this evening?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll be up for a few minutes, then, between nine and ten. Better get
inside quickly, Tucker, or you’ll get stiff.”

Toby hurried up the steps and through the door, excited and elated.
Maybe, he was thinking, Coach Loring would tell him how to better his
goal work. Toby had heard that Mr. Loring had been a fine hockey player
in his day and had captained his team here at Yardley. He wondered if,
by any chance, he had played goal. He would ask some one. But in the
locker room the idea was put out of his head for the time, for just
inside the swinging doors he almost collided with Frank Lamson. It was
the first time they had been near enough to exchange words since the
night they had met in the upper corridor of Whitson. If Toby expected
to detect signs of guilt in Frank’s countenance he was doomed to
disappointment. Frank only smiled in his careless, somewhat patronizing
manner and asked:

“Did you get that money from Arn, Tucker? Sorry to be slow about it.”
He didn’t sound very sorry, or look especially penitent, and a few days
ago Toby would have resented the fact. To-day, for some reason, he
didn’t, however. Frank seemed much less important than before, much
less capable of irritating the other. Toby nodded.

“Yes, thanks,” he said.

“All right. Well, you and I seem to be rivals, old scout, eh?”

“How is that?” asked Toby, although he knew what Frank meant.

“Why, for goal, you know. I’ll have to keep an eye on you, Toby. You
didn’t do so rottenly to-day, what? Speed it up a bit, my boy, and
you’ll get there yet. Heard anything more about Henry’s coming back?”

“No, I haven’t,” answered Toby carelessly.

“You don’t seem to care, either. Well, it mightn’t make much difference
to you. By the way, are those cut-rate prices still on? I’ve got a suit
that wouldn’t be any worse for cleaning. I’ll fetch it up some day
soon.”

Toby was glad when Frank let him go, for the temptation to hold out
his hand and say “I’d like my six dollars and a quarter, please!”
was strong. And, besides, Toby felt oddly uncomfortable in Frank’s
society, knowing what he did. Afterwards it occurred to him that Frank
had seemed absolutely at ease, and that puzzled him. “Of course, he
doesn’t suspect that I know,” argued Toby, “but, still, you’d think
he’d be a bit ashamed of himself and want to keep out of my way. Why,
he’s more――more friendly since he stole my money than he was before!”



CHAPTER XV

TOBY ENTERTAINS


Toby had the little room under the roof of Whitson well tidied up by
eight o’clock. It still looked far from luxurious, but at least it was
clean. There was a faint odor of benzine to be detected, but there was
always that, and no amount of airing seemed to entirely banish it. Toby
sat down to study at a little after eight, but for the first half-hour
he was continually peering around in dubious appraisal of his efforts
or pushing back his chair and arising to turn the arm-chair a little
more to the left, at which angle its dilapidated seat was more in
shadow, or wedge the sagging door of the wardrobe more firmly shut or
work some similar improvement. After he finally did become absorbed in
study it seemed only a few minutes before nine o’clock struck.

Mr. Loring was very prompt, for Toby had only time to rearrange the few
articles on the top of the bureau for the fifth or sixth time when his
knock came at the door. Alfred Loring was twenty-five or -six years of
age and of medium height. His brown eyes had a disconcerting fashion
of twinkling merrily even when the other features of a good-looking
face proclaimed gravity, as though life was much more of a joke than he
wanted you to know. When Toby had somewhat embarrassedly conducted him
to the seat of honor and subsided into the straight chair by the table,
the visitor opened the conversation in a most unexpected way.

“This where you do your tailoring, Tucker?” he asked.

“Y-yes, sir,” Toby stammered. He had tried so hard to hide every trace
of that occupation, too! The gas-stove, its six feet of tubing wound
around it, reposed under the bed and the irons and other things were
in the bottom of the wardrobe. He wondered how Mr. Loring knew about
it, not surmising that the coach had naturally enough sought to learn
all he could of Toby before his visit. “I don’t do any tailoring,”
corrected Toby. “I just clean clothes and press them.”

“Get much to do?”

“Lots sometimes, sir. In winter I don’t get so much. Fellows don’t seem
to mess their things up in winter. They wear sweaters and old trousers
a good deal.”

“So you try to liven trade by offering special inducements? I see.
Well, that shows you have a business head, Tucker.”

Evidently Mr. Loring had seen _The Scholiast_. Toby hadn’t thought of
that likelihood. Of course, he wasn’t ashamed of cleaning clothes, but
Mr. Loring was such a correct, immaculately-attired gentleman――what
Toby a year ago would have called a “dude”――that he might lose interest
in a fellow who had to perform such labor to eke out his expenses. Toby
viewed Mr. Loring doubtfully and was silent.

“When I was here there was a fellow named Middlebury who used to make
rather a good thing of darning socks. He was a wonder at it. I’ve never
seen a woman do it better, by Jove! Charged two cents a pair, I think
it was, and was as busy as a hen. Nice chap, Middlebury was. Honor Man
two years and rowed on the crew. There isn’t much a fellow can do here,
though, to earn money, and you were clever to think of the cleaning
and pressing business. At college it’s rather different. All sorts
of things there for a chap; waiting on table, looking after furnaces
and shoveling snow and cutting grass, taking subscriptions, selling
things――no end to them.” Coach Loring looked around the little room,
but not at all critically. “I don’t believe I was ever in this room,
all the time I was at school here.”

“Where did you room, sir?” asked Toby.

“Clarke first, and then Dudley. I remember young Thompson roomed on the
floor below. Number 20, I think it was. I wonder what became of Arthur.
Funny how you lose track of fellows after you get away. They don’t
provide you with many luxuries up here, Tucker.”

“No, sir, but the rent isn’t very much, you see.”

“This is your first year, you said, didn’t you? Second class?”

“Third, sir. Maybe I ought to be in the second. I’m nearly sixteen――”

“You look fully that. I wouldn’t worry. I didn’t get out of here until
I was eighteen, and I’ve never regretted it. What do you do besides
hockey, Tucker? Go in for football any?”

“I tried for the second last Fall, but I didn’t make it. They said I
was too light, but I guess it was because I didn’t play well enough.”

Mr. Loring laughed. “You seem honest with yourself, my boy! Now, about
hockey. Like it, do you?”

“Very much, sir.”

“Did you want to play goal or did some one just put you there?”

“I was put,” answered Toby, smiling. “I didn’t know much about it when
I started to play. I tried being a forward, but I couldn’t seem to get
the hang of it. I don’t――don’t skate very fancy.”

“Well, I don’t remember that I did,” was the reply. “But I managed
to get around pretty well and they made me captain finally. So that
needn’t bother you, Tucker.”

“Did you play goal, sir?”

“Point. Vinton was goal then. And――let me see――Felder was cover point.
And then there was Roeder and Durfee and Pennimore――It was Gerald
Pennimore who gave the cup we play Broadwood for every year. Or,
rather, it was Gerald’s father.”

“The Pennimore Cup? I’ve seen some of them in the Trophy Room in the
gym. Did you beat Broadwood when you were captain, Mr. Loring?”

“I think so. By Jove, I don’t remember now! Hold on, though! Yes, we
did win. It was Gerald’s shot in the last minute or so that gave us the
game. We lost the year before that, though, I believe.” He shook his
head, smiling whimsically. “It used to be all terribly important then,
Tucker, but it doesn’t seem now to have mattered much who won! Only
three years ago I wanted to drown myself because the football team I
captained was beaten in its big game. I don’t believe any fellow was
ever much more unhappy. I thought the world had dropped into space or
the sky fallen in or something. It’s a wonderful thing to be young,
Tucker, and have enthusiasm. Take my advice, my boy, and get all the
honest fun out of life you can. First thing you know you’re twenty-five
years old and you’ve reached that awful stage when you’d rather sit
in front of a fire than put on spikes and run three miles through a
snow-storm for the honor of Yardley! Well, this isn’t hockey, is it? Do
you care enough about the game, Tucker, to take a lot of trouble and
work hard and be a real, genuine, rattling good goal-keeper?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Toby earnestly and eagerly.

“Well, I think you could be if you tried real hard. I like your style.
You remind me of old Dan Vinton. He used to stand up there in the same
cool, quiet way. Looked as if nothing mattered a bit to him, but I’ve
seen him stop two pucks at the same time in practice. Coolness is what
counts, Tucker, that and keeping your two eyes glued right to the puck
every moment.”

“Yes, sir, and after that?”

“Nothing after that but just practice. Get in front of your net and let
some one hammer away at you, some one who can serve them all styles,
high, low and every other way, and see how many you can stop. Take a
half an hour of that every day, Tucker. Have you a spare hour in the
morning?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Toby dubiously, “but I’m afraid I don’t know any
one who’d be willing to do that.”

“I’ll find you some one, then. A half-hour of shooting wouldn’t do
any one of those forwards a bit of harm,” added Coach Loring dryly.
“Another thing is this, Tucker. Study the man who’s making the shot.
See how he’s going to do it. Watch his stick. See whether he’s going
to scoop the puck at you or lift it. Learn to guess beforehand where
the puck is coming and how it’s coming. And don’t depend on your hands
to stop it. Sometimes a hand’s all right, but your body’s the surest
thing. Learn to be quick in getting from one side of the cage to the
other. Don’t have your skates too sharp, because you want to use them
quickly. You ought to follow that puck every second, even if it’s down
at the other goal. Get in the habit of watching it. And never rely on
some one else to make the stop. You may think that your cover point or
your point is going to do it, but don’t take it for granted. Always
be ready in case he fails. If the opponent with the puck gets by your
outer defense don’t get rattled. Just remember and tell yourself that
the opponent is every bit as anxious as you are. If you’re nervous,
he’s more so. Keep steady, get ready and watch! Half the time he will
shoot badly just because so much depends on his shooting well. It seems
in hockey that the better your chance the poorer your shot. Don’t let
any one draw you out from goal, Tucker, ever. It’s a good plan to go
out once in a blue moon, maybe, but do it when the other fellow isn’t
expecting you to. Don’t let him plan it. If the man with the puck is
past your point and there’s no one near to engage him, it’s sometimes
a mighty good play to rush out on him. But do it before he can get the
puck away and keep your body between the puck and the net. Vinton had
a way of sliding out sort of crouched down and with his arms out. He
looked like an angry hen, but he used to spoil many a shot that way.
There, that’s all I know about playing goal, Tucker, and maybe some of
it isn’t right!” Mr. Loring ended with a laugh.

“I’m awfully much obliged to you,” said Toby earnestly. “And I’d like
mighty well to have some one shoot for me every day, sir. Only I don’t
know many fellows very well. Deering has a recitation when I’m free and
so he couldn’t do it, you see.”

“I’ll find some one. What time in the morning could you be at the rink?”

“Between eleven and twelve, sir.”

“All right. You be ready for the day after to-morrow,” was the reply.
“If I can’t find any one else I’ll have a go at it myself. Good-night,
Tucker.” Mr. Loring held out his hand. “I hope I haven’t bored you with
my chatter.”

“Oh, no, sir! Why, I――I’ve had a――a fine time, sir!”

“Have you? Good stuff! Now don’t forget my boy, that you’re to work
hard. I’m going to help you. We all will. I want to see you in front of
that net three weeks from next Saturday.”

“That――that’s the Broadwood game, sir, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Does that scare you?”

“No, sir, it doesn’t scare me, but I’m afraid I won’t be good enough.”

“In three weeks, my boy, if you buckle down to it you’ll be quite good
enough. At least, you’ll be as good or better than any other goal
that’s in sight now. If Henry comes back in time――”

“Yes, sir, I know,” murmured Toby.

“Know what?”

“That he will play goal if he gets off probation.”

“Hm; well, if he does it will be your fault, Tucker.”

“My fault, sir? You mean that――that――”

“I mean that if you get along the way I expect you to it won’t matter a
mite to us whether Henry gets back or not! You tell yourself every day,
Tucker, that you are going to make a better goal-tend than Henry or
Lamson. Then prove you’re right. Good-night!”

After the door had closed behind his visitor Toby did a most
undignified thing. He took a run across the worn old carpet and
plunged headfirst onto the bed. It was certainly taking chances,
but the bed, although it rattled and groaned and creaked in all its
joints, withstood the assault. After that Toby wriggled his feet to
the floor, sat up on the side of the cot and, with hands plunged deep
into his pockets and gaze fixed on the opposite wall, muttered “_Gee!_”
ecstatically. And after a moment he said it again: “_Gee!_” Just like
that.



CHAPTER XVI

ABSENT FROM CHAPEL


There was no opportunity to tell Arnold of the wonderful news until
the next morning after breakfast. Then he pulled his chum upstairs
to Number 12 and recounted the whole stupendous happening to him.
Arnold was delighted, but not as delighted as Toby thought he should
have been. And the reason appeared a minute later when Arnold said
doubtfully:

“I think myself you’ve got the making of a mighty good goal, T. Tucker,
only it seems to me you’ll need a good deal more practice than you
can get this year. I wouldn’t be too set up over what Loring says.
Of course he was right about your being a good one and all that, but
Loring is sort of――of visionary, I guess. I mean――”

“I don’t think he’s visionary at all,” replied Toby indignantly. “He
talks mighty practical horse-sense, Arn. How do you mean, visionary?”

“Well, he’s great for what he calls ‘tactical playing’: believes in
planning everything out beforehand and all that. Any one knows that
you can’t plan a hockey game, because you can’t tell beforehand what’s
going to develop. Frank says, too, that Loring wasn’t much of a player
when he was in college. He never made the varsity seven, anyway. He was
just substitute one year, or maybe two.”

“He was football captain, though,” defended Toby.

“I know that, but being football captain doesn’t make you a good hockey
coach, does it?”

“Maybe he was too busy to make the hockey team. If a fellow is captain
of the football team he wouldn’t have much time for other things, it
seems to me. And he was captain of his hockey team here at Yardley,
because he told me so.”

“Oh, well, they didn’t play hockey then as they do now. The game’s just
about twice as far advanced as it was then. I guess that’s the trouble
with Loring. He’s still trying to teach the old-style game. Frank
says――”

“What the dickens does Frank know about it?” asked Toby, a trifle
impatiently.

“Well, he knows more about it than you do, doesn’t he? Anyway, all I’m
trying to tell you is that Loring may have promised more than――than he
can deliver. When he tells you that by practicing hard and all that you
can make yourself a better goal-tend than Henry he’s stretching things
a bit. He wanted to say something nice, I guess. Or maybe he wanted to
make you work harder. Frank says Loring wasn’t asked up here to coach
the seven this year. He just came. He coached last year and we got
licked to a frazzle. Crowell wanted some one else, but there didn’t
seem to be any one, and Loring offered to come――”

“I think he’s a mighty good coach,” said Toby warmly, “no matter what
Frank Lamson or any other fellow says. And I don’t see that Frank is in
position to know more about it than I am, for that matter, Arn.”

“You won’t deny that he’s had more hockey experience, I suppose?”

“No, but――” Toby stopped. He had almost said that Frank’s experiences
hadn’t done him an awful lot of good. Instead; “But I don’t think that
having played last year makes a――a critic of him. Maybe it wasn’t Mr.
Loring’s fault that we lost to Broadwood last year. A coach can’t turn
out a winning team unless he has the material.”

“Our material was all right. It was just as good as this year’s, every
bit. Loring’s a back-number, that’s all. Frank was saying the other day
that if Crowell had got hold――”

“Oh, bother what Frank says!” interrupted Toby, peevishly. “You make me
tired, always quoting Frank Lamson, Arn. You’d think he was the only
fellow in school! He isn’t any better judge of Mr. Loring’s coaching
than you or me.”

Arnold flushed. “How long,” he asked, “since you sat yourself up as a
hockey authority?”

“I don’t. But I know as much hockey as Frank Lamson does right this
minute, even if he has played the game longer.”

“Yes, you do! You’re getting a swelled head, Toby, that’s the matter
with you. You think that just because Loring patted you on the head and
told you you were a great little goal-tend that you know it all. When
fellows who have played the game for years say that Loring’s no good as
a coach――”

“No one does say so but Lamson! And what he says is piffle. And you can
tell him I said so, if you like!”

“It wouldn’t bother him a bit,” answered Arnold angrily. “But if you
can’t speak decently of folks you’d better keep your mouth shut, Toby.
Frank’s a friend of mine, and a friend of yours, too, and――”

Toby laughed loudly. “A friend of mine, is he? That’s a good one!”

“He certainly is! Has he ever done anything that wasn’t friendly?”

“Has he ever done anything that was?”

“Lots!”

“Piffle!”

“Oh, all right. Have it your way, Mr. Smart Aleck! Frank――”

“You ask Frank Lamson if he was a friend of mine last Friday night,”
challenged Toby hotly. “If I had half a dozen friends like him I’d
be――be in the poor house!”

“What do you mean by that? What did Frank do? Go on and tell me now!
You’ve hinted. Out with it.”

But Toby, suddenly sobered, shook his head. “Never mind,” he muttered.
“Ask him if you want to know. I guess he wouldn’t tell, though.” He
laughed mirthlessly.

“That’s a cowardly trick,” said Arnold in disgust. “You make an
accusation against a fellow and then refuse to follow it up. Whether
Frank is a friend of yours or not, you certainly aren’t a friend to
him. And you aren’t a friend to me, either, when you talk like that. If
you weren’t a cad you’d come out and say what you mean.”

“Ask him,” said Toby doggedly.

“I will ask him!” blazed Arnold. “And if I was Frank I’d――I’d――”

“What?” demanded Toby. “Come back and steal my clothes this time, I
suppose! You tell him I’m putting my money in the bank now where he
can’t get it!”

“What! Look here, Toby Tucker, do you mean to tell me that you’re
accusing Frank of stealing that money of yours? Are you plumb crazy?”

“No, it’s you who are crazy! You think so much of Frank that you
believe anything he tells you. He couldn’t do anything wrong, according
to your idea. Well, ask him where he got the quarter with the
initials cut in it! And ask him where he got the dollar bill with the
court-plaster on it! He thinks, because I haven’t said anything, that
I don’t know. Well, I do know. I’ve got all the proof I need, and if I
told fellows what I know――”

“Look here, Toby!” cried Arnold sternly. “Cut that out!”

“Oh, of course! Anything that Lamson does――”

“Leave Frank alone! Look after your own――your own conduct! Accusing a
fellow like Frank of stealing! I never heard anything so rotten! Or so
silly, either! Cut it out, I tell you!”

“Sure! Maybe you’d like me to send him a pocket-book to keep it in? He
swiped my money and I’m not to speak of it for fear I might hurt his
feelings!” Toby laughed shrilly. “That’s a good one!”

Arnold strode to the door, with blazing eyes, and threw it wide open.
“Get out of here, Toby,” he demanded, “and stay out until you can talk
decently of my friends. You needn’t come back until you apologize. I
mean it!”

Toby’s heart sank for an instant, but a smarting sense of injury forced
a laugh and a sneer to his lips. “One excuse is as good as another to
get rid of me, Arn. I’ve known all along that you were――were tired of
me. Frank Lamson――”

“Let Frank alone! I’ve told you once! Get out or I’ll put you out!”

“Try it!” dared Toby. “I wish you would!” Then, as Arnold only stood
motionless with his hand on the door-knob, Toby shrugged his shoulders
and walked past him. On the threshold he paused for a final fling. “I’m
glad to go,” he said hotly. “I don’t care to stay where I’m not wanted.
But if you wait for me to apologize you’ll wait until your hair’s gray,
Arnold Deering. And, considering the way you love him and stand up for
him, I think the least Lamson can do is to divvy up with you on that
money he stole. Or perhaps he has already?”

The door, with Arnold’s weight against it, thrust Toby into the
corridor and closed with a crash. Toby laughed ironically and, his
head high and a disk of red in each cheek, climbed the stairs to the
hall above. In his room, he moved about for several minutes, picking
things up and laying them down again quite unconsciously. He whistled a
gay little tune until he suddenly found himself seated in a chair with
his hands in his trousers pockets, his legs sprawled out before him and
a horrible sinking feeling inside him. The whistle had stopped and he
was staring miserably at the tops of the bare trees outside the window.
He was sorry.

Being sorry is a most absorbing occupation. A fellow can spend heaps
of time being sorry and never realize it. And that’s just what Toby
did. How long he sat there, sprawled disconsolately in the chair,
alternately blaming himself for what had happened and then Arnold,
hating Frank with a new and perfectly soul-filling hatred, I don’t
know. But I do know that when a sense of the passage of time edged in
past the varied and warring emotions and he looked at the tin clock
on the bureau it was exactly eight minutes to nine and he had missed
chapel!

To miss chapel without a good and sufficient excuse was a bad piece of
business for a scholarship student, and the fact drove all thought
of Frank and Arnold and the quarrel from his mind. There was a bare
chance, one chance in ten, perhaps, that his absence wouldn’t be
discovered, but dare he risk it? At Yardley you were put on your
honor as regarded attendance at chapel. Should you stay away you were
expected to report the fact to the office and tender an explanation.
But, thought Toby, what explanation could he offer? Doctor Collins
would scarcely accept the true one as sufficient, and, if it came to
concocting a lie, why he might just as well say nothing and trust to
luck. Failure to report his absence would be no more dishonorable
than lying about! Toby studied the quandary troubledly for a good ten
minutes. Then he pulled his cap on, thrust his hands determinedly into
his pockets and made straight for the Office.

Chapel was over by the time he entered Oxford and the fellows were
streaming down the stairs. Toby turned to the right and strode
valiantly along the corridor and opened the door with the ground-glass
panel and the inscription in formidable black lettering: “Office of the
Principal.” The outer office was a big, strongly-lighted room with its
walls hidden by shelves and filing cabinets. A heavy carpet covered
the floor and at each end of the room a big broad-topped desk stood.
One of these was presided over by the school secretary. He glanced
up perfunctorily as Toby closed the door behind him and nodded to a
chair. Toby sat down and waited. From a further room marked “Private”
came the sound of low voices. The secretary’s pen scratched on and on
in the silence. The outer door opened again and a small boy with a
scared countenance entered, was challenged by the secretary’s glance
and settled down into the chair next to Toby, trying his best to assume
an appearance of nonchalance. Toby wondered if he too had cut chapel.
Presently the secretary plunged his pen into a bowl of shot and looked
toward Toby.

“Well, sir?”

“I want to see Doctor Collins, please.”

“Summons?”

“Sir?”

“Are you summoned?”

“No, sir, not yet. I mean――” Toby floundered. The ghost of a smile
crossed the secretary’s face.

“What do you wish to see him about, please?”

“I missed chapel this morning, sir, and――”

“Oh! What’s the name?”

“Tucker, Third Class.”

“Excuse?” The secretary had drawn a slip of paper to him and recovered
his pen.

“I――I forgot, sir,” answered Toby, lamely.

The secretary’s eye-brows arched. “That’s a novel excuse, Tucker,” he
said dryly. He pulled out a drawer at his right, ran his fingers over
the card index there and finally paused. “Tobias Tucker?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You hold a Ripley Scholarship, I believe?”

“Yes, sir.”

The secretary’s pen moved leisurely across the slip of paper.

“That’s the best excuse you can offer, is it?” he asked, without
looking up.

“I was――was upset by something,” answered Toby, struggling to make a
good case for himself of very poor material. “I didn’t know it was so
late, sir. When I found out what time it was it was eight minutes to
nine. I’m sorry.”

“Hm, being sorry is of so very little use, Tucker. Ever think of that?
After this, I’d advise you to do your being sorry beforehand. It saves
a lot of trouble sometimes. That’s all. You’ll hear from the Office in
due time.”

“I couldn’t see Doctor Collins, sir?” asked Toby wistfully.

“The Principal does not see students without appointments until after
two o’clock, Tucker. You can see him then if you like, but frankly I
don’t think it would do you any good. If he wants to see you he will
let you know.”

“Yes, sir.” Toby went out. After all, he told himself outside, scowling
challengingly at one of the plaster statues that loomed ghost-like
along the corridor, he had done what was honorable. He found a trifle
of consolation in that. Whatever was to be, was to be, and there was
nothing more he could do in the matter. His record until to-day had
been good and he didn’t believe that faculty would deprive him of
that scholarship for just missing one chapel. He was fairly cheerful
by the time he entered Whitson again and if luck hadn’t ordained that
he should almost collide with Arnold at the top of the first flight
he might have kept right on feeling cheerful for awhile longer. But
sight of Arnold brought back recollection of that other trouble. Arnold
drew aside, in stony silence, and Toby, after one startled glance,
stepped aside and passed. Homer Wilkins, behind Arnold, said: “Hello,
Toby! What’s the rush?” But Toby made no answer and went on up the
next flight, oppressed by a queer, empty sort of feeling. There was
nothing to do until nine-thirty, unless he chose to rub up his algebra
a little or press the trousers that Will Curran had left during his
absence. Toby didn’t feel like studying, though, and, after reading
the note that Curran had pinned to the garment, he only crumpled it up
and tossed it in the waste basket and laid the trousers down again. At
another time Curran’s facetious communication would have won a smile,
but to-day it seemed sadly dreary.

Curran had written:

    “Tucker’s Cleansing and Pressing Parlors,

    Dear Sir:

      Please heat your little iron
        And press these trousers nice.
      I’ll call for them this evening
        And bring the stated price.
      Don’t crease them much above the knees,
        For that’s against the style,
      But press the cuffs down very flat,
        So they will stay awhile.

    William Shakespeare Curran.”

Awful rot, Toby thought.



CHAPTER XVII

THE GRAY CARD


There was no summons from the Office that day, and Toby began to take
hope. By evening he was in quite an equable state of mind, thanks,
perhaps, to an hour and a half of hard work on the rink. There’s
nothing much better than outdoor exercise to restore a fellow’s mind to
a normal condition. And for one twenty-minute period Toby had played
goal against the second seven and for an hour before that had taken
part in a hard, brisk practice, his visit to the bench having been of a
scant ten-minute duration. Animated by the desperate resolve to wreak
vengeance on Frank Lamson by beating him out for the position of first
choice goal, Toby had worked harder than he ever had before, with the
result that his playing had been almost of the spectacular kind during
the time he had guarded the first team’s goal. Henry, who had been at
the rink looking on a bit disconsolately, had told him afterwards,
enthusiasm struggling against depression, that he had “knocked them
down in great shape, Tucker, my lad, and no bally mistake about it!”
And Toby had gone back to the gymnasium feeling a bit proud of himself
and hugging the thought that revenge against Frank Lamson was certain
and overwhelming. And then, in the upper hall, he had run plumb against
Frank!

That Arnold had said nothing to Frank of Toby’s accusation was at once
evident, for Frank hailed the younger boy almost cordially. “Great
stuff, Toby!” he said. “You and I are going to have a real race, eh? By
ginger, old scout, I didn’t know you had it in you!” The accompanying
laugh suggested, however, that he was not seriously disturbed. Toby
colored, momentarily embarrassed. The last thing he wanted from Frank
was congratulation!

“Thanks,” he said stiffly. “Glad you like it.”

“Well, don’t get grouchy about it!” exclaimed Frank. “Any one would
think I’d insulted you. Go to the dickens, will you?”

Toby passed him without response, trying hard to look haughty and
dignified. That he wasn’t particularly successful in his effort was
suggested by Frank’s amused laugh behind him. Later, on his way to the
showers, Toby encountered Arnold. It seemed, he thought as he pulled
the curtain across and turned the cold water on with more than usual
disregard of results, that he was always running into Arn! After he had
recovered from the first breath-taking shock of the shower he grumbled:
“And he looks like he thought I was a worm, too, confound him! Any one
would suppose that it was my fault! I had a perfect right to tell the
truth about Frank. He did steal that money from me, and Arn’s saying
he didn’t doesn’t alter the fact a bit. Maybe when he finds that Frank
isn’t the fine hero he thinks he is he’ll come off his high horse. But
he needn’t think I’m going to crawl, for I’m not. If he waits for me to
apologize he will wait a mighty long while!”

Coach Loring came to him while he was dressing. “Beech is going to
practice with you in the morning, Tucker,” he said. “At eleven. He will
tell you what days he’s free. Let me know when he can’t be there and
I’ll arrange with some one else――or do it myself. I noticed you used
your body more to-day in stopping shots. It’s the best plan. Keep it
up, Tucker.”

But in spite of all this encouragement Toby wasn’t really happy that
evening. Supper had been a trying affair. Of course neither he nor
Arnold had even so much as glanced at each other, much less spoken, and
he was conscious all during the meal of the amused or inquiring glances
of the other occupants of Table 14. He wondered whether he could get
himself moved to another table, but abandoned the idea the next moment.
He had done nothing and wasn’t going to run away as though he had. If
Arnold didn’t like eating with him, why, let Arnold move. He put in
an hour of study and then pressed Will Curran’s trousers, and a suit
belonging to another boy, and tried very hard to concoct a rhymed reply
to Curran’s missive. But rhyming was not Toby’s forte and he gave it up
finally and climbed into bed to lie awake a long while in the darkness,
thinking rather unhappy thoughts about life.

Grover Beech was awaiting him at the rink the next morning at a few
minutes past eleven and, after they had shooed a half-dozen preparatory
class boys from the ice, they set to work. Toby liked the long and
lank second team captain and his respect for the latter’s skating and
shooting prowess increased remarkably during that fifty minutes of
work.

“I don’t know just what the silly idea is,” Beech remarked as he
dropped the puck and circled back toward the middle of the rink with
it, “but here goes, Tucker!” Beech tore down toward goal, zig-zagging,
playing the puck first on one side and then on the other, dug his
skates when a few yards away, swept past and, at the last moment,
flicked the disk cunningly past Toby’s skates. Toby fished it out of
the net ruefully, and Beech laughed.

“Keep your eyes open, Tucker!” he called, skating backward and dragging
the puck in the crook of his blade. “Loring says he wants you to have
practice, son, and I mean to give it to you. So watch your eye, boy!”

“Let her come!” laughed Toby.

[Illustration: “LET HER COME!” LAUGHED TOBY]

And come she did, a long shot that skimmed through the air a foot
above the ice and made straight for the center of the net. Toby
silently applauded that shot even as he bent and brought his leg-guards
together. There was a _thud_ and the disk bounded yards away. Beech,
who had followed it up, tried to snap it in, but he was skating too
fast and the puck struck the side post.

“Good stop,” he applauded. “Thought I had you then.”

“It was a peach of a shot,” called Toby. “Give me some more like that,
will you? Those are the sort I want to learn to stop.”

Beech obliged, but lift shots weren’t successful for him, and presently
he went back to his first style, that of skating in close to goal
and snapping the puck so quickly to one side or the other that it
was difficult for Toby to move fast enough to block it. Once, being
caught too far to one side of the cage, he tried to stop the puck with
his stick blade and learned a lesson. For the puck jumped over the
blade and rolled to the back of the net. Three times out of a dozen
or so shots, Beech tallied in that fashion. Then Toby worked out the
solution. The next time, when Beech came swinging up――he could shoot
almost as well left-handed as right――Toby dashed out to meet him, a
proceeding so unexpected to Beech that he almost forgot to shoot. When
he did the puck bounded off Toby’s knee and skimmed off to the side of
the rink.

“Huh!” grunted Beech. “I wondered how long you’d let me do that. Just
the same, you don’t want to try that trick very often, Tucker, or
you’ll come to grief. If there’d been some one with me I’d simply have
passed, you see.”

They stopped a minute and talked that over. Beech seemed to have a good
deal of hockey sense, Toby thought, and the older boy decided that
young Tucker was a pretty brainy lad. Toward the last of the practice
Mr. Loring appeared and watched interestedly.

“Beech,” he said finally, “take some shots from about five yards away,
please. You don’t need to skate. Work right around in a half-circle
shooting from the different angles. Let’s see what Tucker’s weakest
point is.”

It developed that Toby’s principal weakness was in meeting shots made
from that arc of the circle lying to his left. In other words, as Mr.
Loring pointed out, an opposing right wing would stand a better chance
of scoring through Toby than a left wing would. “You’re right-handed,
Tucker,” he said. “You can’t afford to be. Learn to use your left hand
and the left side generally as easily and quickly as your right. Try
it again, Beech.” And then, after Toby had stopped the puck none too
cleverly, he followed with: “See what I mean, Tucker? When the puck
comes at you from your right or from the center you meet it nicely, but
when it comes to you from where Beech is shooting you have trouble. You
don’t cross as naturally from right to left as you do vice versa and
you don’t handle your body as well. To-morrow you’d better pay a good
deal of attention to shots from that side. Practice swinging across
from the right post to the left. If you keep your knee against the post
and push out with it when you want to cross you’ll get a quicker start.
Try it now. That’s pretty good. But you favor your right too much. A
good goal-tend mustn’t know one side from the other. It wouldn’t take
long for an enemy to discover your weakness, Tucker, and they’d pound
you from the right――that is, your left――till the cows come home. Look
here, what about those gloves? Didn’t you say you were going to get
some decent ones?”

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

“Well, get at it, man! Those things aren’t fit to wear. Your fingers
would freeze numb on a cold day. Better attend to it to-day if you can.
It’s five minutes to twelve, fellows. You’d better stop now. Can you
come again to-morrow, Beech?”

“Yes, sir, to-morrow and Thursday, but not Friday; nor Saturday either.”

“Never mind about Saturday. We’ll leave Saturday out. I’ll take your
place Friday, unless I have to run back to New York that day. What I
want to do, Beech, is to make a real corking goal out of Tucker. He’s
got a sort of natural style of playing it that looks good to me. Notice
it?”

“I don’t know, Mr. Loring,” responded Beech doubtfully. “But I know
that Tucker can certainly stop them in good style. He’s had me skating
my head off, sir, before you came.”

“Stopping them when there’s only one man against you isn’t so hard,”
said Toby, tugging at the straps of his leg-guards. “It’s when three or
four are skating down on you that the trouble begins!”

“Only one of the four can shoot, Tucker. Remember that. Keep your eye
glued to the puck, my boy, and it won’t make much difference if there
are twenty at you. It’s the last man who counts.”

They walked back to the gymnasium together and there Mr. Loring left
them. As Toby and Beech hurried into their street clothes Beech said:
“Some of the fellows think Loring doesn’t know his business, but I
don’t see what their kick is. I guess he knows as much hockey as he
needs. I like him, don’t you?”

“Awfully,” agreed Toby emphatically. “They say that he was responsible
for losing the Broadwood game last year. Did you play then?”

“Not on the first, no. But there’s no sense in blaming Loring for the
loss of that game. He did the best he could, I guess. The trouble was
that Broadwood had a team that played all around us. They skated better
and shot better and checked harder. They played like a team and we
played like seven individuals. We didn’t do so badly the first half,
but after that Broadwood got a goal on a fluke――Henry kicked the puck
into his own goal――and that gave them a lead of two, and we went up in
the air and played shinney all the rest of the game. At that they only
licked us seven to three; or maybe it was eight to four; something like
that. I hope to goodness we sock it to ’em good and hard this time,
though. He evidently expects you to play goal in that game, Tucker.”

“I hope I’ll be good enough to,” replied Toby. “I――I’d like it awfully.”

“Of course you would,” laughed the other. “I’d like it myself. I’ve
been playing two years already――three, counting this――and I’ve never
got nearer the first team than I am now.”

“I don’t see why,” said Toby. “You shoot wonderfully, I think.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” Beech shrugged. “I play pretty fair sometimes and
then the next day I don’t. I have pretty good fun with the second,
though, and it’s something to be captain of that. I’ve no kick coming.
We’d better beat it, Tucker. There goes twelve o’clock!”

They dashed upstairs and out the door, Toby with one shoe-lace flapping
in the breeze, and sprinted across to Oxford, Beech winning the race
with six yards to spare.

The morning practice was continued the next day and the next, and Toby
profited far more than he had dared hope to. In the afternoons he had
varying fortune, one day spending most of the playing time on the bench
and once going in for the second period against the second. It was
always Beech that Toby feared the most now, for the rivalry developed
in the morning practice moved both to extra exertions, and, while Toby
knew Beech’s attack pretty well, it was equally true that Beech knew
Toby’s weaknesses. As far as Toby could see, Crowell still favored
Frank Lamson for the position. In fact, Toby was fairly sure that if
Coach Loring hadn’t been there Crowell would have left him on the
bench most days. Frank’s playing grew neither better nor worse. He was
brilliant at times, but never what could be called steady, and he had a
bad habit of losing his temper after a tally had been scored on him and
playing in an indifferent, swashbuckling sort of fashion for minutes
afterwards. Henry was still absent from work and rumor now had it that
he had virtually given up hope of reinstatement in time for further
playing this season. Toby was sorry for him, but he wouldn’t have been
human had he mourned over-much. With Henry out of it, and only Frank
Lamson to contend with, Toby’s chance of making the coveted position in
time for the Broadwood game brightened each day.

There was no morning practice on Friday, for, although Toby went to
the rink dressed for play, Mr. Loring failed to show up. Toby took part
in a weird contest with eight preparatory class fellows and had a good
time, but he regretted wasting that hour. Later, in the afternoon, it
appeared that Mr. Loring had had to go home and would not be able to
get back until the first of the next week. Toby was sorry to hear that,
for he had secretly hoped that the coach would let him get in for a
part of the Nordham game the next afternoon, perhaps for a full period.
With Mr. Loring absent, however, Toby felt pretty certain that he would
view that contest from the bench. Later, returning to his room at dusk,
he found something that made him wonder whether he would even sit on
the bench to-morrow!

The something was a gray card, one of the printed forms used by the
Office on which only the name, day and hour were written in.

    “The Principal desires to see Tobias Tucker in the School
    Office Saturday at 9 A. M.

    Respectfully,

    J. T. THOMPSON, Secretary.”

That is what the card said.

Toby said: “_Gee!_”



CHAPTER XVIII

IN THE OFFICE


“Ah, Tucker,” greeted Doctor Collins the next morning. “Sit down,
please.” Toby lowered himself carefully to the edge of a leather-seated
chair at the end of the big flat-topped desk and clutched his cap
desperately. The Principal laid aside the letter he had been reading
and swung around in his chair until he faced the visitor. “How are you
getting on, my boy?” he asked, gravely pleasant.

Toby took courage. Perhaps things weren’t going to be as bad as he had
feared. “All right, sir, thanks,” he answered.

“Having no trouble with your studies?”

“No, sir, not much.”

“Any at all?”

“Why, I don’t get on so well with Latin,” said Toby hesitantly. “But
everything else is all right, I think.”

Doctor Collins picked up a card at his elbow and looked it over. “Your
report for last month is very fair, Tucker,” he said. “There’s nothing
here to indicate any difficulty with Latin.” He looked inquiringly over
the top of the card.

“I――I only meant that sometimes it was very hard to get, sir,” replied
the boy, “but I generally get it.”

“Oh, I see!” The Doctor smiled. “That’s another story. I’m glad you are
getting along as well as you are, Tucker,” he continued more soberly.
“You see, when we award a scholarship to a student we look to him to
prove our judgment correct. We expect him to maintain an excellent
class standing and be very particular as to deportment and always
obedient to the school regulations. We try to have as few regulations
as possible, but of necessity there are some. In short, Tucker, we
expect a scholarship student to set an example to others, an example of
studiousness, earnestness and good behavior. You understand?”

“Yes, sir,” murmured Toby.

“Do you go in for athletics any, Tucker?”

“Hockey, sir.”

“Does that take much of your time? More, I mean, than the two hours
which the school expects you to devote to outdoor exercise?”

“N-no, sir, I guess not. Yes, sir, it does, too, because since last
Tuesday I’ve been practicing with Grover Beech for an hour in the
morning.”

“At what time?”

“From eleven to twelve, sir. We neither of us have a recitation then.”

“What time do you get up usually, Tucker?”

“About seven, sir. Sometimes before.”

“And breakfast at about half-past seven?”

“Yes, sir, usually. Sometimes it’s a quarter to eight, if I wait
for――for Deering.”

“Then you’re through by eight-thirty generally? In plenty of time for
chapel?”

“Yes, sir, always.”

“Now tell me what the trouble was on Monday. You missed chapel that
morning, I believe?”

“Yes, sir,” Toby hesitated. “I didn’t know how late――” He paused again
and then added desperately: “I forgot about it, sir.”

“That’s what this report says, Tucker, but I can’t quite understand
how you could forget a thing that happens every morning, as regularly
as breakfast. I see that you missed chapel only once before, early in
October, on which occasion you were excused from attendance. That is
right?”

“Yes, sir, the doctor excused me. I had a sore throat.”

“But nothing of the sort Monday last? It was just forgetfulness,
Tucker?”

“Yes, sir,” muttered Toby.

“I wish you had a better excuse,” said the Doctor, after a moment,
tapping the card against a thumb-nail and studying Toby frowningly.
“Your record is so clean otherwise――” He broke off and tossed the card
on the desk. “Are you forgetful by nature, my boy?”

“No, sir, I――I have a pretty good memory, I guess.”

“Then how do you account for your mental lapse in this case?”

Toby studied his hands for an instant in silence. Then he glanced up
and saw something in the Principal’s face that prompted him to attempt
an explanation. “I guess I’d better try to explain, sir,” he said,
smiling appealingly. The Doctor nodded.

“I think so, too, Tucker. Take your time. What happened, just?”

“After breakfast, sir, I went up to Arnold Deering’s room with him
to tell him something. It was something that had happened to me that
was――pretty nice, and I thought Arn――Deering would be pleased about it.”

“Wasn’t he?” prompted the Doctor when Toby paused.

“Not so much as I thought he would be. You see, sir, we’re――we’re
chums.” The Doctor nodded sympathetically. “Then he said he guessed I
was wrong about――about what I’d told him, and then――then we quarreled!”

“I see. Was that your fault, Tucker?”

“No, sir.”

“Quite sure?”

Toby thought. “Well, I guess it was partly my fault, sir, but he was
awfully unreasonable!”

The Doctor smiled broadly. “And you weren’t, eh?” he inquired.

“Maybe I was, too,” granted Toby, reflecting the smile dimly.

“Well, you quarreled. Then what happened? Did you make up?”

“No, sir, he said I was to go out and not come back until I had
apologized. And so I did. And then I went upstairs to my room
and――and――” Toby faltered.

“Kicked the furniture around?”

“No, sir.” Toby shook his head. “I just――just sat down, I guess, and
then, after awhile, I looked at the clock and it was nearly nine.
And so I came over here and asked to see you and Mr. Thompson said I
couldn’t and I told him. I――I’m very sorry, sir.”

“I see, Tucker.” The Doctor swung away around in his swivel chair and
faced one of the broad windows. When he spoke next his face was away
from Toby and the boy had to listen hard to hear what he said. “I
wonder what your idea of friendship is, my boy. You tell me that you
and this other boy were chums. That means that you were fond of each
other, would make almost any sacrifice for each other. I know something
about friendships between boys. I’ve seen so many of them, Tucker, and
some very beautiful ones. And the beautiful ones have always, I think,
been based on unselfishness. In fact, I doubt if a true friendship can
exist without the constant sacrifice of self. I wish you’d think that
over, Tucker.” The Doctor paused and then swung slowly around again in
his chair. “The momentary satisfaction that one gets from yielding to
one’s temper, Tucker, doesn’t begin to make up for the consequences.
See what has happened in your own case. You have made yourself unhappy
and this other boy, too. Your self-respect has suffered. Later you will
take up your friendship, I hope, and go on with it, but you can’t take
it up just as you left it off, Tucker. There will always be a mended
place in it, my boy, and you know that a mended place is always weak. A
friendship is too fine a thing to take any chances with. One ought to
be as careful with a friendship as one would be with a beautiful piece
of delicate glass.”

The Doctor picked up the card again, looked at it a moment and once
more laid it aside. Then, in more matter-of-fact tones, he went
on: “I’m glad you explained to me, Tucker, for it puts a different
interpretation on your ‘forgetfulness.’ It wasn’t forgetfulness that
caused you to miss chapel, but anger. In so far as I am able to
judge, Tucker, it is that temper of yours that will cause you the
most trouble in life. If I were you I would start out now to learn to
control it, and I wouldn’t stop until I had succeeded. A man without
the capacity for becoming angry is not much use in the world, but a man
who is unable to control his anger is not only useless but positively
dangerous, to himself and the community. Anger controlled is a powerful
weapon in the grasp of a strong man, Tucker, but anger uncontrolled is
like a child’s sword whittled from a lathe and breaks in our hands, and
often wounds us in the breaking. Now I’m going to make a bargain with
you, my boy, subject to your agreement. I’ll write the word ‘excused’
on this card if you will give me your promise to go out from here and
sit down somewhere quite by yourself and think over very carefully what
I have been saying. Will you do that?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Toby subduedly.

“That’s all then, Tucker. I’m not going to make any suggestions as to
the healing of the breach with your chum. Those things have to work
themselves out in their own way. Only remember, my boy, that friendship
and selfishness never mix. Good-morning, Tucker.”

Toby went back to his room and closed the door behind him and kept his
agreement to the letter. That is, he recalled very carefully all that
Doctor Collins had told him and weighed it. And agreed with it, too. As
to that temper of his, thought Toby, the Doctor was absolutely right.
It did need controlling. Normally good tempered, when he did let go
he let go altogether. He could almost count on the fingers of his two
hands the times when he had been thoroughly angry, but each time, as he
recalled, the result had been disastrous. Always he had made himself
unhappy and usually some one else. And always he had been horribly
sorry afterwards, when it was too late. He wondered how one went about
learning to control one’s temper. The Doctor hadn’t told him that.
Well, he would find a way. The Doctor had said he could do it, and so
he would. The Doctor had been mighty nice to him, too; not at all the
stern and severe person that Toby had thought him. He was glad he had
made a clean confession of the whole silly business. For it was silly,
frightfully silly. The idea of quarreling with Arn like that! Why, he
would do just about anything for Arn! And Arn――well, maybe Arn didn’t
care as much as he did, but that had nothing to do with it, because
the Doctor had said that friendship must be unselfish, and demanding
a return for what you gave, even of affection, was selfish! And the
Doctor was right, too, as right as anything! If you――cared for some one
you just naturally wanted to do things for him, and you didn’t stop to
think what you were getting in return. No, sir, you didn’t _care_!

Toby aroused from his communing and looked startledly at the clock.
But it was all right. He still had fourteen minutes before his English
recitation. And fourteen minutes was more than enough to do what
he wanted to do in. He jumped up and found a sheet of paper and an
envelope and wrote hurriedly:

    “_Dear Arn_:

    “I’m awfully sorry I was such a rotter. I wish you would
    forgive me and forget all about it if you can. If you want me
    to apologize to F. L. I will. Maybe he didn’t do it, anyway. I
    guess he didn’t. Anyhow, I never meant to say anything about it
    only I got angry and did say it, for which I am very sorry and
    hope you will forgive me.

    “Your friend,

    “TOBY.”

Toby didn’t knock on Arnold’s door, for he wasn’t sure whether Arnold
was out, and, while he had the courage to write the note, to hand it to
him would be a different matter. So he slipped it under the door and
hurried across to Oxford, feeling much happier than he had felt for
several days.

He caught only a brief glimpse of Arnold that forenoon and when dinner
time came he awaited his chum’s arrival anxiously. He knew Arnold too
well to expect him to fall on his neck, so to speak, but it wouldn’t
be hard to discover whether he was willing to make up. Arnold would
probably say “Hello, T. Tucker,” and grin a little, and that’s all
there’d be to it, and Toby would know that it was all right! But it
didn’t happen that way at all. Arnold came in late, seated himself
without so much as a glance across the table at Toby and entered
into conversation with Kendall. Toby’s heart fell. Arn wasn’t going
to forgive him! Then the comforting thought came to him that perhaps
Arnold hadn’t been to his room yet and so hadn’t read the note. That
was undoubtedly the explanation, and Toby recovered his spirits and ate
a very satisfactory dinner. It was almost as though they were friends
again, for, although Arnold didn’t know it, there was that note
awaiting him upstairs, and when he had read it everything would be fine
once more! So Toby got up from the table quite contentedly and rattled
up two flights of stairs to his room in order to put in a quarter of
an hour at history before a two o’clock recitation. And he whistled
merrily until he threw the door open and saw a square blue-gray
envelope lying there. It was one of Arnold’s envelopes. He had written
instead of――of――Toby picked up the note sadly and went to the window
with it.

    “Just being sorry (he read) doesn’t make up for what you
    said. You made accusations that you knew were false. When you
    acknowledge that they are false I will accept an appology and
    not before.

    “Respectfully,

    “ARNOLD DEERING.”

Toby sighed.

“And he spelled ‘apology’ with two P’s,” he muttered, as though that
was the last straw. “And he’s still angry. Gee, I can’t go and tell him
that I know Frank didn’t swipe that money, because I know he _did_.
I suppose I might tell a lie about it, though. I wish――I wish Frank
would choke!” He slipped the note back into the envelope, thrust it
impatiently into the drawer and closed the drawer with a vindictive
_bang_. “All right, then, he can stay mad. I’m not going to say what
isn’t so for him or any one else. ‘Just being sorry doesn’t make up for
it!’ I’d like to know what else you can be but sorry. If he thinks it’s
so easy to――to be sorry――I mean say you’re sorry and apologize, then
why doesn’t he do a little of it? He makes me tired! I don’t care a fig
whether――”

Toby paused right there in his muttering, swallowed hard and looked
sheepish.

“Gee,” he thought, “I nearly did it again! I’m glad Doctor Collins
didn’t hear me! I guess the hard thing about controlling your temper is
to know when you’re not!” With which cryptic reflection Toby made his
way sadly downstairs just as the two o’clock bell began to ring.



CHAPTER XIX

A PAIR OF GLOVES


The hockey game with Nordham that Saturday afternoon left a good deal
to be desired in science and interest. In the first place, and I
mention it as a mitigating circumstance, two days of mild weather had
left the ice in very poor condition and good skating was out of the
question. A half-inch of water lay over the surface and against the
boards on the sunny side of the rink the ice was fairly rotten. Nordham
presented a hard-working aggregation of talent, a team of lithe,
well-trained youths who looked not only in the pink of condition but
able for speed and skill as well. Toby viewed that contest from the
bench, for, lacking Coach Loring’s prompting, Captain Crowell failed to
so much as cock an eye at the substitute goal-tend. However, there was
no necessity at any stage of the game for a relief for Frank Lamson.
Frank had so little to do that he was palpably bored, since as poorly
as Yardley played that day Nordham somehow managed to play far worse.
Her forwards performed fairly well, considering an entire absence of
team-play, but her defense was pitifully weak and Yardley, once past
the center of the rink, had only to keep on her feet in order to score.
Twelve tallies in the first period against two for Nordham, and seven
more in the last to the visitor’s three was the outcome of the contest.
The spectators hung over the barrier listlessly and almost went to
sleep until, toward the end, when Crowell put in three substitute
forwards and a substitute cover point, the contest became so much like
a parody on hockey that they found amusement in making fun of the
players.

If any particular member of either squad stood out prominently it was
Arnold, for Arnold had a particularly good day and scored eight of
the nineteen goals. Soft ice seemed to make less difference with his
skating than with that of his fellow players, for he dashed up and down
and in and out in a particularly startling manner. Nor did he lose the
puck as the rest did. Even along the boards on the soft side of the
rink he had perfect control over it. Toby, watching, was very proud
of Arnold and almost forgot about controlling the temper when Simpson,
beside him, remarked to his neighbor beyond that “Deering was making a
fine play to the gallery!”

As an example of scientific hockey that game was a dismal failure,
and as an afternoon’s amusement it was no more successful from the
viewpoint of the audience. The latter turned away when the final
whistle blew looking very much as though it thought it had wasted the
better part of an hour and a half. Captain Crowell was a bit peevish
afterwards, in the locker-room at the gymnasium, and was heard to
speculate pessimistically on what was to happen three weeks later,
finally observing that he guessed the only thing that would save
Yardley from getting the hide licked off her was a thaw!

Somehow, Toby, wriggling out of his togs――which he might just as well
have kept out of that day――couldn’t help thinking that if Mr. Loring
had been on hand that afternoon that game would have been a heap more
like hockey and less like a Donnybrook Fair. And also, he reflected, if
Mr. Loring had been there one Tobias Tucker might have been allowed to
take some slight part in the proceedings. With only three more games
left on the schedule Toby’s chance of covering himself with glory and
gaining the proud privilege of wearing the crossed hockey sticks on
his sweater looked very slim. This thought, added to the load of gloom
he was already carrying, was almost too much for him. He was rather
miserable that evening.

Mr. Loring returned to Yardley on Tuesday morning, a fact made known
to Toby when he appeared at the rink while Toby and Grover Beech were
earnestly striving to get the better of each other. He looked on for
a minute or two and then, after Beech had sprawled into the net and
he and Toby were pulling it back into position, he climbed over the
barrier and joined them.

“Try these on, Tucker,” he said, holding out a pair of goal-tender’s
gloves of white buckskin. Toby, wondering, dropped his stick to the ice
and tugged off the old woolen-lined glove from his right hand. “They
may be too large for you,” continued Mr. Loring, “but I can have them
changed. How do they seem?”

“Fine,” answered Toby, awedly, working his fingers luxuriously back
and forth and feeling the soft, smooth leather give pliably to every
motion. Beech, taking the other glove from Toby, admired it warmly.

“Gee, Mr. Loring, but those are dandy!” he said. “I’ll bet those cost
something! See the open palm, Toby, and the peachy long cuffs on them.
Are you going to wear them, sir?”

“Me? No, I got them for Tucker,” replied the coach. “Do they seem all
right, Tucker?”

“Y-yes, sir, they――they’re wonderful, but I――I don’t think――” Toby was
plainly embarrassed. “What I mean is,” he struggled on, “that they’re
much too good, sir. You see, I can’t spend much on gloves.”

“They’re supposed to be a present,” replied Mr. Loring. “If you’re too
haughty to accept a present――”

“Oh! No, sir, I’m not, but――but they’re a lot more expensive I guess,
than they need be.”

“It doesn’t pay to buy cheap leather, my boy. Put on the other one and
get used to them.”

“Yes, sir,” murmured Toby, flustered, trying to pick up his stick,
accept the other glove from Beech and find words of thanks at the same
moment, with the result that he fumbled stick, glove and speech! Beech
chuckled, Mr. Loring smiled and Toby colored. “I――I’m most awfully much
obliged,” the latter managed to enunciate at last. “I don’t know how
to――to thank you, sir, and――”

“Never mind,” laughed the coach. “Actions speak louder than words,
Tucker, and I should say that gratitude had simply overwhelmed you!”

Toby laughed too then and struggled into the second glove and smote
them together and viewed them proudly, and Mr. Loring and Beech smiled
understandingly at each other. After that, although Toby thought that
he had utterly failed to meet the situation, the interrupted practice
went on. To the amusement of the others, those new gloves quite
upset Toby’s game and for a few minutes Beech scored goals almost as
he liked. But that didn’t last and very soon the old struggle for
mastery was on again in earnest and Mr. Loring, who had an engagement
in the village at twelve and should have been on his way even then,
enjoyed the contest so much that he stayed until Beech called a halt.
Then he hurried off by the river path with the tails of his fur coat
flapping ludicrously in the wind. Toby and Beech, treading the
squeaky board-walk that led up the slope to the gymnasium, watched and
chuckled. At least, Beech chuckled. Toby didn’t because nothing that
Alfred Loring could do after that morning could ever seem ludicrous to
him. He wondered if the coach had guessed that the reason he had no
better gloves was because he hadn’t the money to buy them with, and
concluded he had――and decided that he didn’t care. Mr. Loring was much
too fine a gentleman to look down on a chap because he happened to be
poor. Those gloves were not left in his locker in the gymnasium that
day, but accompanied him into class room and commons, to be secretly
felt of at intervals.

By that time Toby’s exchequer was slightly replenished and he decided
that those gloves demanded a pair of leg-guards to go with them. He
could buy the leg-guards if he used all his money except a few pennies
and he determined to be reckless and get them. Not having Arnold to
call on for advice and counsel, he sacrificed most of his dinner the
next day, and hurried off to the village alone. As it turned out,
Arnold’s advice wouldn’t have helped him a great deal, for there were
but two styles of leg-guards to choose from at Fessenden’s, one cheap
and unworthy the honor of being associated with those new gloves and
the other expensive and wonderful. Toby unhesitatingly purchased a pair
of the latter sort and counted out his money with a fine feeling of
affluence. The only fly in his ointment was that he couldn’t put them
on then and there and wear them home. Of course he could have done
so, too, but he had a suspicion that the residents of Greenburg would
stare. But he wore them that afternoon and gloried in the immaculate
beauty of the white leather and felt uncomfortably conspicuous until
he got interested in stopping the shots at goal and forgot them. They
came up well above his knee and down over his ankle-bones, and there
were no pesky leather straps punched with holes which were never in the
right places. Instead, they were held in place by canvas strips which,
once slipped through the clasps, stayed there immovably as long as you
wanted them to and undid very easily. In those new white gloves and
new white leg-guards Toby looked very fine that afternoon and managed
to convey the impression that he was a real, sure-enough goal-tend!
Perhaps Crowell was impressed, for he displayed more interest in Toby
than he had since that first talk before Christmas recess. As usual,
Toby played at the net in the second period of the practice game with
the second, and, perhaps because he was trying to live up to his new
togs, got away with a clean score, for not once did the second get the
puck into the net. Mr. Loring smiled his satisfaction when Toby passed
him on his way off the ice and said:

“Good work, Tucker. Keep it up.”

Toby went back to an hour’s study before supper feeling rather well
pleased with himself, and had it not been for the falling-out with
Arnold would have been a very happy youth that evening. As it was,
however, even success on the rink couldn’t make him altogether content.
He missed Arnold’s companionship horribly. What was the use of making
a success of hockey if there was no one to talk it over with? He tried
to think of some chap who could take Arnold’s place, but there didn’t
seem to be any. He was friendly with quite a number of fellows now,
but none of them were intimates. Grover Beech would talk hockey with
him by the hour, but his interest paled the moment another subject was
introduced. No, Toby could think of no one who would care to listen to
his confidences. He got pretty lonely at times about now.

When he and Arnold met, Toby’s rather wistful glances went unseen or,
being seen, met no response. Arnold always looked over him or past
him, coldly and unforgivingly. There were times when Toby was tempted
to humble himself, to offer any sort of apology or atonement in return
for a re-establishment of their old friendship, but always at the last
moment pride or embarrassment intervened. Subsequent to such periods of
weakness Toby went to the opposite extreme and sullenly vowed that he
would never have anything more to do with Arnold; no, sir, not even if
Arnold begged him on his knees!

Arnold appeared strangely morose and crabbed those days. At table he
was short-tempered and often uncivil. He and Gladwin almost came to
blows one evening over a discussion of some perfectly trivial subject,
and it finally got so that the others carefully left him alone. All,
that is to say, except Homer Wilkins. Arnold’s perversities had
no effect on Homer. If Arnold was cross, Homer merely assured him
earnestly and good-temperedly that he hoped he would choke.

Oddly enough, Frank Lamson began to develop a sort of friendship for
Toby. He seldom met him without stopping and talking. The conversation
was never very important or very confidential, but Frank seemed to
derive satisfaction from it. At first Toby was embarrassed, but after
awhile he found himself quite ready to stop and chat. For one thing,
Frank was near to Arnold and Toby could speak of the latter to him.
One day――Frank had found Toby idly reading the notices on the bulletin
board in the corridor of Oxford while awaiting a recitation――Frank
observed:

“Say, Toby, what’s up between you and Arn? He seems to have a peach
of a grouch about something, and I notice you don’t go around much
together any more. What’s wrong, eh?”

“Oh, nothing,” answered Toby evasively. “What――what does Arn say?”

Frank shrugged. “Nothing. Just scowls. I thought you two were regular
what-do-you-call-’ems――Damon and――what was the other chap’s name?”

“Pythias?”

“I guess so. What have you quarreled about?”

But Toby was silent, and Frank, amusing himself by running the end of
a pencil across the radiator pipes, evoking a discordant result that
appeared to give him much pleasure, went on: “Gee, you and he were so
inseparable at Christmas time that I never saw Arn but once all during
vacation, and that was Christmas morning when I went down to his room
to leave a present.”

“That was an awfully pretty pin he gave you,” remarked Toby carelessly.

“What pin?” asked Frank in puzzled tones.

“The one I saw you wearing several times. It was a moonstone, wasn’t
it?”

“That? Arn didn’t give me that. My mother did. Arn gave me a book.
Forget the name of it now. It was pretty punk. I hate folks to give me
books for Christmas, don’t you?”

“No, I like them,” replied Toby. There was, he thought, no reason why
he should be so delighted at discovering that Arnold had not given
Frank that scarf-pin, but delighted he was nevertheless, and his
pleasure made him quite cordial and friendly toward Frank. “That was a
dandy pin, and I was sure Arn had given it to you.”

“Well, he didn’t,” returned the other indifferently. “He gave me a
silly book.” He chuckled. “He didn’t get anything on me, though, at
that, for I gave him a half-dozen handkerchiefs! I’d rather get a book
than handkerchiefs, eh?”

“A good deal rather!” laughed Toby. “Useful things like handkerchiefs
and stockings and gloves are mighty nice to have, but you always
feel as though folks ought to give you things that aren’t useful at
Christmas, don’t you?”

“Absolutely! What did Arn give you, Toby?”

“A pair of gold cuff-links.”

“Fine!” Frank glanced down at Toby’s wrists. “Got ’em on?”

“No, I――they’re too dressy to wear every day.”

Frank grinned. “So peeved you won’t even wear his present, eh? Sic
him, Prince! I dare say whatever the row is, it’s Arn’s fault. He’s
a stubborn brute. I’ve known him for five or six years, I guess, and
I know his tricks. Arn isn’t a bad sort, of course, but he’s mighty
cranky sometimes. Well, he will get over it, Toby. Let him alone, eh?”

Toby made no response. He was wondering what Frank would say if he
was told that he was the reason of the quarrel. Frank varied his
performance on the radiator by tapping the coils and looked hurt when
they all developed about the same notes.

“You know Tommy Lingard, don’t you?” asked Toby suddenly.

Frank nodded without looking up, continuing his hopeless search for
music. “Yes, I know Tommy after a fashion. What about him?”

“Nothing. He said one time that he knew you pretty well.”

“He will say anything, the little rotter,” replied Frank cheerfully.
“Tommy’s one of the finest little impromptu, catch-as-catch-can liars
in school. Still, he managed to tell the truth for once. My folks know
his folks at home. They live on the same street with us. His old man’s
a nice old sort. Has a heap of money. Made it easy, too.”

“Did he?” asked Toby. “How?”

“Just by cutting-up.”

“Cutting-up? How do you mean?”

“He was a butcher,” laughed Frank. “I spring that one on Tommy when he
gets too fresh. He’s a beast of a nuisance, that kid. Always wanting
to borrow money from me. He has plenty of his own, but he spends it on
candy and truck like that and is always broke. Well, here we go! What
do you have this hour?”

“Math,” answered Toby. “Mr. McIntyre.”

“‘Kilts,’ eh? He’s a good old sort, ‘Kilts’ is. Well, so long. See
you at practice.” Frank nodded, still a trifle condescendingly, and
strolled off after one final hopeless tap on a steam coil, leaving Toby
to gather his books and make his way down the corridor in the other
direction. If, he pondered, young Lingard was really the liar that
Frank dubbed him perhaps his story about getting that patched dollar
from Frank was untruthful. On the other hand, though, Frank had said
that Lingard was always trying to borrow money. And if that was so,
why, what more probable than that Frank had loaned him some, as Lingard
had stated? Well, he would probably never know the real truth of it.
And, besides, he had agreed with himself to forget it. So there was
no use speculating about it. But, just the same, he wished he knew!
Somehow it wasn’t so easy to-day to believe in Frank’s guilt. And
somehow revenging himself on Frank by beating him out for the position
of goal-tend didn’t appeal to him nearly so much as it had a few days
before. Of course the mere fact that Arnold hadn’t given Frank that
scarf-pin proved nothing, but Toby got a lot of satisfaction from it!



CHAPTER XX

CAPTAIN AND COACH


There’s a saying to the effect that “clothes make the man.” It isn’t
true, as you and I both know very well. And it is probably equally
untrue that togs make the hockey player. And yet――well, those new
leg-guards and those new gloves certainly had an effect on Toby. Or
something did. On Thursday before the Rock Hill College game, which
was, with the exception of the final contest with Broadwood, considered
the most important event on the hockey schedule, Toby performed so
creditably that Captain Crowell sought Coach Loring afterwards for
counsel.

“That kid Tucker’s playing pretty nearly as well as Lamson, sir, don’t
you think?” he asked. They were walking up to the gymnasium behind the
others and Mr. Loring was making the boards creak as he stamped his
feet to warm them. “The way he played to-day was corking, I thought.”
Crowell’s admiration sounded grudging and the coach glanced at him
speculatingly before he spoke.

“What have you got against Tucker, Crowell?” he asked.

“Not a thing,” answered Crowell in surprise. “What made you think I
had, sir?”

“Well, for a week and more Tucker has played a bit better than Lamson
and you haven’t so much as mentioned it――or him. I began to think that
possibly you had some personal――er――dislike, Crowell.”

“If I had,” answered the captain a trifle stiffly, “I wouldn’t let it
influence me, sir.”

“Glad to hear it,” was the untroubled response. “If you want my
opinion, Tucker’s a better goal than Lamson right now and he will get
better every day.”

Crowell was silent for a minute. Then: “You think we’d better use him
Saturday, sir?” he asked.

“By all means. He needs the experience, Crowell. If he doesn’t fill the
bill, put in Lamson, but by all means give Tucker a chance to get some
work against an outside team. You never can tell what any player is
good for until he’s run up against some one beside his own crowd.”

“It sounds as though you’d already picked him for the Broadwood game,”
said Crowell doubtfully.

Mr. Loring smiled. “_I_ had, but you needn’t unless you want to. I’m
not interfering with your choice of players, Crowell. I told you I
didn’t intend to when I started in. It would be a lot easier for me if
I did do that. A coach who hasn’t absolute control always works at a
disadvantage. But I realized that you didn’t particularly want me here
this year and that it wouldn’t do to antagonize you.”

Crowell colored. “I don’t think you have any reason to say that, Mr.
Loring,” he stammered. “I’ve been very glad to have you.”

“Rather than no one, yes,” replied Mr. Loring dryly. “Possibly you have
wondered why I ‘butted in’ this winter. I’ll tell you. A number of us
Old Boys got to talking things over one afternoon in the club in New
York and the question of a hockey coach came up. I was asked if I was
going to help again this year and said that I had had no request; that
since we had lost to Broadwood last year I thought that probably the
sentiment here was in favor of a change. We all felt that things ought
to be pulled together and we got in touch with Mr. Bendix by telephone.
He told us that you were looking for a coach but hadn’t found any
one. Nothing more was done then. That was in December. I think about
the tenth. During vacation Mr. Bendix happened into the club one day
and the subject of hockey came up again. He said that they were still
without a coach and that he thought it would be well for some of us
to take the matter up and send some one down there. Two or three old
players were approached, but none of them could give the time. For that
matter, I didn’t feel that I could spare the time myself, but there
seemed to be no one else and the others insisted and so I came. I might
have taken everything right out of your hands, Crowell, and put myself
in full command, as I was last season. Faculty advised me to, but I
knew you well enough to realize that the only way we could turn out any
sort of a team was for you and I to pull together, my boy. You didn’t
want me and you wouldn’t have had me if you could have found some one
else. I didn’t much care whether you wanted me or not, however. We
grads want good teams here and we want the old school to win her games.
My interest begins and ends there. So far you and I have got along very
well, but it’s been mainly because I’ve taken pains not to interfere
a bit more than has been absolutely necessary. Now we’ve come to a
situation that demands a sort of a show-down, I guess. Suppose you tell
me frankly why you dislike the idea of having Tucker play goal instead
of Lamson.”

“I haven’t a thing against Tucker, sir,” replied Crowell slowly,
evidently choosing his words with care, “unless it’s his age. He’s
pretty young to be a first team goal-tend, isn’t he?”

“Yes, but if he can play the position it doesn’t seem to me that his
age has much to do with it. What’s the rest of it?”

“That’s all, Mr. Loring, really,” insisted Crowell. “I guess that the
fact of the matter is that I――I just got used to the idea of a certain
fellow playing a position and hate to think of changing.”

“That’s a bad idea, Crowell. Every team is likely to have some
dead-wood in it that needs cutting out. You want the seven best players
in there that you can find, irrespective of age or social affiliations
or anything else. Isn’t that so?”

“Yes, sir, it is. Is there any other dead-wood? Have you any other
fellows in mind?”

“No, I think not. I’d like to see Casement get a good, thorough trial
at right wing, for Deering’s been playing pretty erratically of late,
but I’m not prepared to say that Casement is a better man. As to
Tucker, I’d advise using him harder, giving him a fairer show, Crowell.
If he is really better than Lamson let’s find it out. We want the
best man at goal on Saturday and two weeks from Saturday that we can
discover. Personally I believe Tucker’s the man, but I may be wrong. Is
Lamson a particular friend of yours?”

Crowell frowned. “No, he’s not,” he answered shortly.

“Oh, I didn’t mean it that way,” said the coach soothingly. “I only
wondered if you were hesitating about hurting his feelings. If you are,
you might let me attend to the matter. When it comes to building a team
they all look alike to me.”

Crowell made no answer for a minute. They had reached the gymnasium
and had paused in the upstairs hall. Finally the captain looked up
frankly, if a trifle embarrassedly, at the coach. “I guess, sir,” he
said, “you don’t want to turn out a winning team any more than I do.
And I think it will be best if you just――just take charge of everything
after this. I suppose I’m sort of dunder-headed about some things. If I
choose a fellow for a position I’m likely to let him stay there rather
than acknowledge that I’m wrong even to myself, and that’s mighty poor
management. I’m sorry if I’ve acted like an idiot all the season, sir――”

“You haven’t, Crowell. I didn’t mean to convey the impression that I
was dissatisfied. Everything has gone along quite smoothly, my boy.
If there have been mistakes we’ve shared them. But I’m not going to
pretend that I’m not mighty glad to take full charge, because, quite
frankly, I think you’ll play your position a lot better if you don’t
have too many――er――too many cares of state on your mind! Suppose that
after this we get in the way of meeting after practice, say in your
room, or in mine if you don’t mind walking down to the village, and
going over things together. That seem feasible to you?”

“Yes, sir, I think it would be a mighty good plan,” answered Captain
Crowell. “I guess it would have been better for the team if we’d done
that long ago, Mr. Loring.”

“Possibly. But we won’t worry ourselves with regrets. We’ll look
forward, Crowell, and see if we can’t pull that team together so that
it will everlastingly wallop Broadwood two weeks from next Saturday! I
dare say that what I should have done is had this talk with you a month
ago. But never mind that now. I’ll drop around to-morrow evening――I
guess we’ve said all that’s to be said for the present――and we’ll plan
things for Saturday. Good-night, Crowell.”

Mr. Loring held out his hand and Crowell grasped it tightly.

“Good-night, sir,” he said, “and thanks. I’m not nearly so afraid of
the Broadwood game as I was! You do think we can win it, don’t you,
sir?”

“Hands down, Cap!” answered the coach. “You wait and see what we can
accomplish in two weeks of pulling together!”

And so it came about that when the referee skated to the center of the
rink armed with puck and whistle two afternoons later it was Toby
Tucker who stood guard at the south goal, Toby very sturdy-looking and
straight in toque and sweater and padded khaki pants and magnificent
white leg-guards, his white-gloved hands holding his stick across his
body, his blue eyes very bright and alert and his mouth set firmly and
straight. Toby made a dazzling figure there in the cold sunlight of
a boisterous winter day and, in his costume of dark-blue and white,
against the yellow boards of the barrier and the wind-swept sky above,
might almost have stepped from a poster. In front of him Hal Framer
leaned on his stick, and beyond stood Ted Halliday, and then Crumbie,
and, finally, facing the Rock Hill left wing, Orson Crowell. To the
right was Arnold Deering and to the left Jim Rose. At the other end
of the rink, poised on impatient skates, was the Rock Hill College
team, colorful in gray and crimson. A hard, north-westerly gale blew
across the ice, stinging faces and numbing fingers and, at times,
whirling little clouds of powdery snow in air. A steady _thump-thump_
sounded as the spectators crowded close to the barrier kicked their
shoes against the boards to warm fast-chilling feet. Behind the nets,
ulstered, hands plunged deep into warm pockets, the goal umpires stood
and shivered. Then the referee poised the puck with one hand above the
waiting sticks and raised the whistle to his lips. The tattoo against
the boards died away. A shrill blast sounded, the gray disk of rubber
dropped to the ice, sticks clashed, skate-blades bit and the game began.

On the bench, one of a half-dozen other coated and blanketed figures,
sat Frank Lamson. Frank was still struggling with the surprise that
had overwhelmed him three minutes before when Coach Loring, calling
the line-up, had announced the name of Tucker instead of Lamson. Frank
was still not quite sure the coach had not made a mistake! Only, if he
had, why didn’t he discover it? And what was Orson Crowell thinking of
that he hadn’t entered a protest against such absurdity? Frank stole a
wondering glance along the length of the bench to where Coach Loring
sat. The coach was looking intently at the game and evidently saw
nothing wrong. Slowly, as the figures dashed up and down and in and
out and the ring of steel and the clash of sticks and the cries of the
players filled the air, it was borne to Frank that Toby had superseded
him, that Coach Loring had done what he had done intentionally, that
Crowell had connived at it, that, in short, he, Frank Lamson, was only
a second-string man! Surprise grew to incredulity and incredulity to
dismay. He wondered what the fellows on the bench with him thought of
it, and turned to see. But they were all following the flying puck
absorbedly, evidently with no thought for the stupendous wrong that had
been committed! Indignation surged over him. Anger filled his soul. So
they thought they could treat him that way and get away with it, did
they? They thought they could oust him without a word of explanation
and put a mere fifteen-year-old, inexperienced kid in his place? Well,
they’d find out their mistake! No one could treat him like a yellow
pup, by jingo! He’d show them so, too! Superbly he arose from the
bench, dropped his blanket with a gesture of magnificent disdain and
turned his back on the scene. Unfortunately, however, not a soul saw
him, for at that moment Rock Hill had the puck in front of the Yardley
goal and six pushing, slashing players were fighting desperately there.
And no one saw him make his way off up the slope, bracing himself
against the gale, for just then the referee’s whistle sounded and Rock
Hill was brandishing sticks in triumph and skating, with perhaps a mere
suggestion of swagger, back to her own territory. So Frank’s dramatic
defiance was lost and neither Coach Loring nor Captain Crowell nor any
of Frank’s companions knew that he had withdrawn in outraged dignity
and left them to their fate.

The game went on again. Toby, a little pale, crouched and watched. He
was hating himself for letting the puck get by a minute ago. It had
been almost impossible to follow it. Sticks, feet, bodies had mingled
confusedly before him. He had repelled one attempt after another with
skates and stick, the goal had tilted under the surge of the struggling
players, blades had whacked against his leg-guards, the world had been
a maelstrom of blue legs and crimson――and then the whistle had blown
and, behold, there was the puck a fair six inches past the opening! How
it had got by him he never knew, but there it was, and the goal umpire
had waved his hand and the tragic blast of the whistle had sounded! And
Toby’s heart was filled with woe!

But there wasn’t much time to spend in regrets, for once more the Rock
Hill forwards, strung out across the ice four-abreast, were bearing
down on him. The puck slithered away across to the left and Arnold
charged at his opponent. But a carom against the boards fooled him and
the red-legged enemy secured the disk again and slid it back. Halliday
missed it by an inch and he and the left center went down in a kicking
heap. There was only Framer now, and the puck was but twenty feet away.
Toby slid to the left, crouched, his heart beating hard.

Framer tried to intercept the pass to the right wing but only succeeded
in diverting the puck to the right center. Crowell, dashing in like a
whirlwind, lifted the opponent’s stick, slashed at the puck, missed it
and went past. Framer was on it――had it――was off down the ice, almost
free! Followed a wild scramble then. The Rock Hill cover point fell
slowly back to position. Crowell fell in behind Framer and Arnold tried
hard to get into place for a pass. Then the cover point dashed forward,
Framer slipped the puck to the right and dodged to the left, skates
grated harshly, Arnold swerved in, reached, found the disk with his
stick, circled back, passed across to Crumbie――

“_Shoot!_” yelled Crowell.

“_Shoot!_” implored the spectators.

But the Rock Hill point was rushing desperately at Crumbie, his stick
slashing the ice, and it was Jim Rose, coming in from the rear, who
hooked the puck away just in time and, miraculously dodging the
defenders in front of the cage, banged it home for Yardley’s first
score.

Pæans of delight arose from around the barrier and the blue blades of
the Yardley sticks waved in air. The Rock Hill goal was telling the
point just how it had happened and finding comfort in explaining. Then
they were off again, Rose having the puck along the boards. A pass to
the center of the ice went wrong and it was the Rock Hill cover point
who became the man of the moment. But his reign was brief and ended
when Rose sent him sprawling into the barrier. A Rock Hill forward
stole the disk and skated desperately, but there was no one to take the
pass and ten yards in front of the Blue’s goal Halliday got it away and
fed it down the ice. And so it went for the rest of that first period,
with no more scores for either side. Twice Rock Hill threatened
dangerously and eight times she shot, but only three attempts reached
Toby and those were stopped without difficulty. For her part, Yardley
only once came near to scoring and then the puck struck an upright and
bounded away and Crowell’s attempt to cage it only sent it over the
barrier into the snow.

On the whole, Toby had a fairly easy time of it during that half of the
contest. It was in the second period that he found his work cut out for
him, for, after the rest, Rock Hill showed that she could play hockey.
Halliday was hurt in the first minute of play and Stillwell took his
place. Five minutes after that Crumbie was sent off for tripping, and
it was then that Rock Hill almost snatched a victory. That she didn’t
was only due to the fact that Toby, looking ridiculously small but
making up for his lack of bulk by his quickness, played his position
like a veteran. Stillwell was not Halliday’s equal on defense, and,
with Crumbie off, Rock Hill kept the puck around the Blue’s goal for
what seemed hours to the goal-tend. Shot after shot was made, knocked
down and brushed aside. The applause from the audience was almost
continual and the shouting of the contenders made a babel through
which Toby, inwardly in a wild ferment of excitement but outwardly as
cool as the ice he stood on, slid from one side of the cage to the
other, crouched, straightened, kicked with his skates, thrust with his
stick and watched all the time with his blue eyes, never losing sight
of the puck. Time and again, having shot, Rock Hill secured the disk
the instant Toby thrust it aside. Yardley, minus one player, slashed
and sprawled and shouted helplessly, with Crowell commanding them to
“Get it out of there!” That was a wild and strenuous two minutes for
Toby, but he came through with a clean slate. The scorer credited him
with seven stops in that busy space of time, but Toby is still of the
opinion that the scorer missed some thirty-five or forty! And then,
finally, just as Crumbie tumbled over the barrier again and rushed to
the rescue, Arnold pulled the puck from a Rock Hill forward and got
free with it.

But there was no getting past the opponent’s outer defense now. Cover
point and point had learned their lesson in the first period and, with
a center playing back on defense, Yardley’s rushes never took her past
the outer trenches. Toward the end of the period both teams were
trying long shots and failing miserably. Casement took Arnold’s place
when the latter bruised his knee against the barrier, and, just before
the whistle, Flagg displaced Framer. But the period ended without
another tally, the score still one to one.

Five minutes of rest, then, and back to the battle once more for two
five-minute periods. Then it was that Coach Loring, deciding to relieve
a very tired Toby, called for Lamson and discovered him missing.
Messengers were dispatched to the gymnasium but returned to report that
Frank was not to be found. Coach Loring scowled, shrugged and viewed
Toby doubtfully. Then he conferred with Captain Crowell and the two put
the matter up to Toby himself.

“I’ll be all right in a minute or two,” panted the boy cheerfully.
“Tired? No, sir, I don’t feel tired a bit!”

Coach Loring smiled. “All right, then, you’d better try the next period
anyway. If Lamson turns up we’ll let you off. Do the best you can,
Tucker. We’ve fought them off so far and it would certainly be too bad
to lose the game now, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes, sir! I’ll stop them if it can be done, Mr. Loring.”

And then, presently, they were at it again, with the twilight fast
creeping down over the scene and the half-frozen spectators once more
forgetting their misery in the excitement and suspense of those two
final periods. Science went to the discard now, however, and it was
every man for himself. Both teams tried desperately to score by hook
or by crook. Penalties came fast and furious, and at one time each
team was reduced to five players! The whistle shrilled constantly
for off-side plays. The puck was swept up the rink and back again.
Shots from the very middle of the ice were frequently attempted and
seldom rolled past the points. The players became so weary that they
could scarcely keep their feet under them. Substitutes dropped over
the boards and first-string players wobbled off with hanging heads
and trailing sticks. And all the time Yardley at the barriers cheered
and shouted and implored a victory. But it was not to be. One period
ended, the teams changed their goals and the next began. Toby, finding
it hard now to see the puck at any distance, screwed his eyes up and
peered anxiously every minute. But only three times in the last ten
minutes was his skill called into play and none of the shots which
thumped against his pads was difficult to stop. At the other end of the
rink, the opposing goal-tend had an even easier time, for Yardley was
seldom threatening. And then, suddenly, the whistle shrilled for the
last time and the game was over. And Yardley and Rock Hill gathered in
two little groups in the fast-gathering darkness and limply and weakly
cheered for each other. And although the Blue hadn’t won, and although
she pretended to be downcast over the result, she was nevertheless
secretly very well satisfied with the inconclusive contest, because,
just between you and me, Rock Hill had outplayed her in every position
save one. And that one position was goal.



CHAPTER XXI

THE RESCUE


Toby rather dreaded meeting Frank Lamson after that game. Now that he
had conquered, and something told him that, barring accidents, he was
certain of the goal position for the rest of the season, the victory
seemed much less glorious. In spite of himself, for he tried to be
stern and judicial, he was sorry for Frank. Of course Frank didn’t
deserve any sympathy; no fellow did who was guilty of what Frank was
guilty of; but, just the same, the sympathy was there and Toby had to
sort of put his heel on it every now and then to keep it from rising
up and making him uncomfortable. If only Frank hadn’t been so――so sort
of decent of late, it would have been easier! But when a fellow seeks
you out and shows plainly that he likes to talk to you, why, it’s hard
not to entertain a sneaking liking for him! And, besides that, Frank
was Arnold’s friend, and in spite of the fact that everything was
quite all over between Toby and Arnold and they were never, never going
to speak to each other again, Toby still had a weak dislike of doing
anything to hurt Arnold’s feelings. Of course it was silly and all
that, but there it was! On the whole, Toby wasn’t nearly as happy that
Saturday evening as he should have been, considering the fact that the
whole school was talking about him playing and giving him every bit of
credit that was to be given for staving off a defeat at the hands of
Rock Hill.

The meeting which he dreaded didn’t take place until the next day. It
was rumored that evening that Frank Lamson had been taken sick and had
had to leave the rink, which accounted for the fact that he hadn’t
been available when wanted to substitute Toby. As no one guessed the
emotions of anger and outrage which had prompted Frank’s retirement,
the explanation was accepted at face value. It is possible that Frank,
having recovered his temper, made that explanation to Mr. Loring. I
don’t know as to that. But I do know that Frank was back at practice on
Monday very much as though nothing had happened.

It was Monday noon when Toby, taking a short-cut from the village,
encountered Frank and Arnold on the foot-path that leads up the
Prospect. He didn’t see them until he was nearly on them and it was
then too late to turn back or avoid them. Toby, conscious of the blood
flowing to his cheeks, would have nodded and muttered a greeting and
gone on, but Frank was of another mind. Frank didn’t look particularly
amiable, possibly because he had been in the midst of an indignant
tirade against Coach Loring, and Toby wanted very, very much to keep
right on. He couldn’t, though, because Frank deliberately barred his
path.

“Hello, Toby,” he said growlingly. “I suppose you’re feeling pretty big
to-day, eh? A regular hero and all that, what?”

“No, I’m not feeling big at all,” he answered. Arnold had drawn back
a step or two and was looking down the hill. “I heard you were sick
yesterday, Frank. I hope you’re all right to-day.”

“I was sick of the way I was treated,” answered the other sharply. “I
haven’t got anything against you, Toby. It wasn’t your fault, I guess.
You tried to get it away from me, and you had a right to. That’s
nothing. But that fool Loring didn’t have any right to yank me out of
there without saying anything, did he? I guess I’d been playing pretty
good hockey, hadn’t I? How would you have felt about it if they’d
treated you like that?”

“I――I suppose I shouldn’t have liked it,” murmured Toby uncomfortably,
embarrassedly conscious of Arnold’s presence.

“I’ll bet you wouldn’t! That’s no way to treat fellows. I’ve done good
work all winter for them, played the best I knew how, and that’s what
I get for it! They just drop me without a word! Crowell says that
Loring’s the whole push now and that he didn’t have anything to do with
it. He’s afraid I’ll make trouble for him, I guess. And maybe I will,
too.”

“I dare say he will put you back again to-morrow,” ventured Toby not
very truthfully.

“Yes, he will――not! I wouldn’t go back! I’m through! Arn’s been talking
about duty to the school and all that rot. I’ll bet he wouldn’t think
so much about that if they’d dropped him like a hot potato!”

Toby tried to edge past. “I’m sorry, Frank,” he murmured. “Of course,
I wanted the place and tried for it, but――”

Arnold sniffed and spoke for the first time. “Don’t be a hypocrite,” he
sneered. “You’re just awfully sorry, aren’t you? All cut up about it, I
guess!”

“I _am_ sorry,” declared Toby stoutly. “It isn’t my fault if Mr.
Loring――”

“That’s a coward’s trick, to hide behind some one else,” broke in
Arnold.

“Meaning that I’m a coward?” demanded Toby, hotly.

“You may make it mean what you like!”

“Oh, come now, Arn,” Frank put in soothingly, “Toby’s all right. I’m
not saying anything, am I?”

“That’s twice you’ve called me a coward,” said Toby, his blue eyes
flashing. “You’ll take it back, Arnold, before I ever speak to you
again!” He brushed past Frank and went on hurriedly up the path, deaf
to the latter’s appeal to “wait a minute!”

It was all through with and finished now, he reflected miserably. He
had stood from Arnold just all any fellow could stand! A coward, was
he? Well, he would show them! He didn’t know just how he was to show
them, but that would come later. Until Arnold begged his pardon he
would never speak to him or have a thing to do with him! It wasn’t
until he was safe behind the closed door of Number 22, with his eyes
a little bit wet for some reason, that he recalled Doctor Collins’
advice. Then he told himself ruefully: “It’s just like I said. The
trouble with controlling your temper is that you don’t remember about
it until it’s too late!”

March approached with a week of severely cold weather during which the
river froze nearly eight inches thick and at night cracked like the
report of a pistol. No more snow came and the shrill north-west winds
howling against Toby’s windows forced him to wrap his legs in his
overcoat when he sat down to study. Hockey went on unremittingly, but
there were some days when it was cruelly cold on the rink and playing
goal was none too pleasant. Toby was thankful for those warm gloves
then. The school hockey championship was decided on the river, the
Second Class Team winning the final contest handily from the First.
Toby retained his place as first-choice goal-tend and Frank Lamson
made a fine pretense of indifference and treated Toby as good-naturedly
as ever. But it wasn’t difficult to see that Frank still had hopes
of winning his position back, for he played hard and earnestly. The
morning practice with Grover Beech came to an end two days before the
Greenburg High School game on the advice of Coach Loring.

“You’re getting enough work in the afternoons now, Tucker,” he said,
“and there’s such a thing as overdoing it.”

Toby wasn’t very sorry, for the contests of skill between him and Beech
had become one-sided, since Toby learned more every day and Beech
seemed incapable of further progress in the gentle art of shooting
goals. With the yielding of full authority to Mr. Loring by Captain
Crowell things soon began to look brighter on the rink. The fellows,
bothered not a little before by having two masters, settled down to
following the coach’s directions with far more enthusiasm. There were
no other changes made in the line-up, for Casement had failed to show
any better work than Arnold Deering at right wing. Dan Henry had long
since given up hope of returning to the game that winter and was
helping coach the second team goal-tends and occasionally refereed
the practice games. Toby threw himself heart and soul into learning
and retaining his captured position. It was well for him that he had
something so absorbing, for he was not very happy just now, and hockey
and lessons――for whatever happened he had to maintain a good class
standing――kept his thoughts off his quarrel with Arnold.

The Greenburg High School game was played in Greenburg and the return
match was an easy matter for Yardley. Toby played most of the game,
and then gave way to Frank Lamson. Coach Loring began to put in his
substitutes early in the second period and when the contest ended, with
the score 11 to 3 in Yardley’s favor, not a first-string man was on the
ice. All things considered, the substitutes did very well, scoring four
goals against Greenburg’s really excellent defense. That contest was
the last before the final game with Broadwood and only four work-outs
remained. The reports from the rival school proved pretty conclusively
that Broadwood had one of the best sevens in the history of the dual
league, and it was thoroughly realized at Yardley that if the Pennimore
Cup was to return to the trophy room there, the Blue would have to
put up a better game than she had done so far all season, but Captain
Crowell was hopeful and Coach Loring fairly radiated optimism, and the
players took their cue from their leaders. A month before no one would
have seriously predicted a Yardley victory, but now the tendency was
rather toward over-confidence. And over-confidence, as we know, is a
dangerous thing.

Toby managed to contract a slight cold the Saturday of the Greenburg
game, probably because he had too little to do to allow of his keeping
warm, and it got worse on Sunday night and kept him out of practice
Monday. Nor was it very much better the next day, although he reported
for work and played through the first period and about ten minutes of
the second. The following morning he felt, to use his own expression,
just like a stuffed owl, and he had to drag himself to recitations and
between them sat wrapped in sweater and coat in his room and tried to
see how many of his small store of handkerchiefs he could use up! After
dinner, a tasteless meal to Toby, he sought the school doctor and was
appropriately dosed and instructed to keep away from the rink that
afternoon. “Wrap yourself up warmly,” said the doctor, “and stay out of
doors, but don’t get overheated. Fresh air is the best cure for a cold,
my boy.”

So Toby got himself excused from practice and, after his last
recitation, donned his sweater and tied a muffler around his throat
and went out for a walk. It wasn’t a very invigorating sort of
day, for on Sunday the weather had changed and for two days a mild
south-westerly breeze had been blowing in from the Sound, causing dire
apprehension on the part of the hockey men. Already the river below
Loon Island showed stretches of open water and ice-cakes were floating
down past the bridges and into the unfrozen Sound. It was a moist,
cloudy afternoon and Toby’s feet lagged as he struck down-hill toward
the little village. Wissining had one store, a general emporium that
sold everything a fellow didn’t want and nothing he did. Still, one
could buy pencils there, and Toby needed one, and it didn’t make much
difference in which direction he walked. After the purchase he went
on along the road that parallels the track and eventually leads to
the footbridge to Greenburg. When he got in sight of the river he was
surprised to see to what extent the ice had broken up since yesterday,
or even since morning. Unless the weather grew cold again within the
next two days that Broadwood game would never be played next Saturday.

Toby stood on the bridge a few moments watching the ice-cakes swirl
under, turning and dipping, or pile up against the piers, and then,
mindful of the doctor’s instruction, he took the road along the river
and wandered down toward the Point. The river widens as it nears the
Sound, and to-day, with the tide running out hard and strong and the
ice-cakes moving seaward it was worth watching. He had the road pretty
much to himself, for Wissining is not a populous village and the day
was not such as to attract many folks out of doors, and he plodded on
through melting snow and rotting ice and plain brown mud until the
big wrought-iron gates of the Pennimore estate blocked his further
progress. From that point he could look westward along the Sound for
several miles, and he paused a minute and watched a schooner dipping
her way along under the brisk wind, and a coal steamer churning slowly
eastward. Then he turned back and retraced his steps, since there was
no alternate road, and had reached a point near the little ferry house,
long since abandoned to time and weather, when a faint cry fell on his
ears.

Toby looked about him and saw no one save a man driving a wagon across
the bridge nearly a quarter of a mile upstream. Across the river were
a few shanties and although there was no one in sight it was probable
that the shout had come from there. Toby went on his way, not quite
satisfied, however, for the cry, as faint as it had been, had sounded
like an appeal for help. And then, before he had taken a dozen steps,
it came again, louder this time and seemingly closer at hand. Toby’s
gaze swept the opposite shore, traveled up the river――

What was that between him and the bridge? A boat? No, it didn’t look
like a boat. It was a darkish spot apparently in the water, but surely
no one would be silly enough to attempt to swim there! And then he
realized. In the middle of the river, turning and dipping, floated an
ice-cake and on it, stretched face-downward, was the form of a boy!
Hardly crediting his sight, Toby stood and stared. But there was no
deception. The ice-cake and its imperiled burden was floating nearer
and nearer and the cries, shrill and terror-stricken, came plainly
now across the water. Now and then the frail expanse of ice tipped
dangerously and Toby could see the boy strive frantically to adjust his
body to the slant, to keep the ice-cake from turning over. One hand
clutched desperately at an edge and the other was stretched on the
slippery surface. Straight for the open water of the Sound it floated,
and, as Toby well knew, the boy could never stay on it a moment after
it reached the rough water. Toby’s first act was entirely involuntary.
He rushed to the edge of the embankment, slipping and tripping on the
ice, put his hands to his mouth and sent his voice across the space.

“_All right!_” he shouted. “_Hold on! I’m coming!_”

But that was easier promised than performed, as he realized the next
moment with a sinking heart. At least sixty yards would separate
him from the ice-cake when it floated opposite. If he risked it and
succeeded, he might crawl out on the stationary ice along the shore
and cut that distance down by half, but even then he would be no better
off. He had no rope to throw and could not have thrown it so far in any
event. To swim would be foolhardy, for even if he managed to make his
way through the loose ice as far as the boy he would never be able to
bring him ashore. A boat, then, was the only hope, and not a boat was
in sight on his side of the river. Nearer and nearer came the ice-cake
with its living cargo, colliding with other cakes, swaying and twisting
and dipping, every moment threatening to upheave one side or another
and drop its burden into the icy waters. Toby thought desperately,
looked helplessly about him. And then his gaze fell on the little
dismantled ferry house and he raced down the bank toward it, hoping
against hope.

The door on the water side was half off, sprawling on its rusted
hinges, and at first glance the dim interior seemed empty. But at first
glance only, for, as Toby’s eyes became accustomed to the gloom, they
descried a boat, tilted on its side, and what looked like the handle
of an oar protruding over the edge. How he pulled that skiff from the
old ferry house to the landing and then over yards of creaking, swaying
ice he never knew. But somehow he did it, and somehow, just as he and
the boat sank through yielding ice, he managed to scramble into it,
to seize one of the oars and push off. Rowing was out of the question
as yet, for his strength was spent and the ice, bobbing about in huge
fragments, prevented his dipping the blades in water. But, sobbing
for very weariness, he knelt and pushed, prodding at an edge or a
crevice, and so at last made his way into clearer water and then looked
anxiously upstream.

For an instant his heart sank leadenly, for the boy was nowhere in
sight. He was too late! But the next moment he saw him, already abreast
and moving fast toward the mouth of the river. Toby, with a gasp of
relief, fitted the oars to the ancient thole-pins and rowed his hardest.

He was a good hand in a boat, was Toby, otherwise he would never have
won that race through the ice-floes. The boat leaked like a sieve and
he wondered long before he reached his goal whether it would keep
afloat long enough to reach shore again. Ice-cakes swept down against
the skiff and fairly staggered it. When he saw them in time Toby tried
to fend them off with an oar, but rowing was the main necessity, for
the boy on the ice-cake was going fast, and he must take his chances
with the floes. For many minutes or so it seemed to Toby, the skiff
failed to gain, but at last it caught the current in the middle of the
stream and then, with Toby pulling as he had never pulled before, it
began to gain. The water was already getting rougher and every moment
the boy’s predicament became more perilous. Only once did Toby waste
precious breath on encouragement. Then he shouted over his shoulder:

“_Coming! Hold on a little longer!_”

[Illustration: “COMING! HOLD ON A LITTLE LONGER!”]

Followed some desperate minutes and then victory! Toby avoided a floe
many yards in diameter, letting it pass while he fended the skiff away
from it, and then dug the blades of his oars. An instant later the side
of the skiff grated against the ice-cake and Toby pushed an oar across
its surface. “Catch hold,” he panted, “and pull yourself toward me!”

The boy obeyed, but Toby realized the courage required to release
the hold of those half-frozen fingers on the cake of ice. The boy
grasped the oar and, still face-downwards, moved cautiously,
fearfully toward the skiff. As his weight moved toward the edge, the
ice-cake, scarcely three yards across at the widest place, began to dip.

“_Faster!_” cried Toby. “Grab the side of the boat!”

Over turned the ice-cake and the boy’s body settled with it into the
water, but one straining hand was on the gunwale and Toby had secured
a tight hold on his jacket. The skiff careened as the ice-cake slowly
righted again, Toby pulled with every ounce of strength remaining in
his body and, somehow, the boy came sprawling, inch by inch, into the
boat to lie finally face-up in six inches of water on the bottom while
Toby, scarcely knowing what he did, fixed his oars again and pulled
mechanically for the shore. And as he labored with lungs bursting,
muscles aching and eyes half-closed the perfectly absurd thought came
to him that Tommy Lingard’s clothes would certainly need pressing
to-morrow!



CHAPTER XXII

THINGS COME OUT ALL RIGHT


It was Saturday afternoon. Toby lay in bed in Number 22, very glad to
be home again after two days of the unfamiliar and monotonous white
walls of the infirmary. They had brought him home――for the little,
poorly furnished room was home, after all――that forenoon, and he had
partaken of a perfectly sumptuous dinner, the first in several days,
and had gone peacefully to sleep after it. But he was wide awake now
and feeling very comfortable and contented and beautifully rested. He
had been, they had told him, a pretty sick boy for a day or so after
Mr. Pennimore’s gardener and another man had rescued him and Tommy
Lingard from a sinking boat at the mouth of the river. (For it seemed,
although Toby didn’t pretend to understand it, that he had lost all
sense of direction and had rowed toward the Sound. Either that or his
tired arms had not been able to prevail over the current.) But he was
quite all right now. Of course, his head hurt a bit and his cold wasn’t
quite all gone, and he was still a little stiff in places, but aside
from those failings he felt fine!

The window was open a trifle and through it came sounds that brought a
puzzled frown to Toby’s forehead. They seemed to suggest something not
so pleasant as being at home again in his own bed. Then he remembered
and the frown disappeared. They were playing Broadwood down there on
the rink and if all this had not happened he would have been there
too, guarding his goal in the big game of the year. But, somehow, he
didn’t care so awfully much. Frank would play in his place, and Frank
deserved it. He owed Frank at least that much reparation for the unjust
suspicions he had of him. On the whole, he was glad that Frank had got
the position back again, and he only hoped that he would play such a
dandy game there that the hated Broadwood would go home scoreless!

Thinking of Frank sent his thoughts back to the afternoon before when
a very pale and timid Tommy Lingard had been shown in to him in the
infirmary and had haltingly muttered thanks for his rescue and then,
after much hesitation and many false starts, had cleared up the mystery
of the stolen Hockey Fund. He had owed Frank Lamson some money and
Frank had asked him for it that very night he had left his clothes to
be cleaned, threatening all sorts of awful punishments if he didn’t
pay it up on the morrow. And he had seen Toby go to the drawer of his
bureau to make change that night and so knew of the money kept there.
The next morning he had gone to Number 22 when he knew that Toby would
be in a class-room and taken box and contents and so paid his debt to
Frank Lamson. He hadn’t looked carefully at the money and had failed to
notice the marked quarter or the patched dollar bill, and when Toby had
asked about the latter he had told the first lie occurring to him. And
he was awfully sorry about it and would pay it all back, every cent,
and he only wished he could do it that minute because when a fellow
saves your life, like Toby had saved his――

The sound of triumphant cheering came up from the distant rink, borne
on the nipping little westerly breeze. Toby thrilled and wondered how
the game was going. He _would_ like to have played, after all! But
he owed that much to Frank, and so it had all happened for the best.
And by now――long before this, probably――Frank had got the note he had
written that morning and dispatched by the goody, in which he had told
of his suspicions and of the evidence leading to them and had humbly
asked Frank’s pardon. And after awhile, perhaps, Frank would come up
to see him and tell him it was all right, and――and maybe he would tell
Arnold and Arnold would come, too. Toby had wanted very much to write
Arnold as well; he tried several times; but he wasn’t very much of a
letter-writer yet and the things he wanted to say had got all mixed up
and confused and he had had to give it up. But Arnold would come sooner
or later. He was sure of that, for Arnold knew now that he wasn’t a
coward and Frank would tell him that he had written and apologized――

Another wild pæan of joy from the rink interrupted his thoughts. He
glanced at the clock on the bureau and to his surprise found that it
was nearly four! Why, then, the game must soon be over! If only Yardley
might win it he wouldn’t care at all that he hadn’t been able to play.
Or, at least, not much. He had rather wanted to get his letters and the
crossed hockey sticks between, but there was another year coming, and
so that, too, was quite all right.

Why, the cheering was getting nearer! The game must be over then!
And――and Yardley surely had won, else why should they cheer so? The
fellows were marching back from the rink. He could hear quite plainly
now, catch each word of the old familiar cheer: “_Rah, rah, rah! Rah,
rah, rah! Rah, rah, rah! Yardley! Yardley! Yardley!_” They were at the
gymnasium probably. Yes, they were cheering the players! He heard the
long-drawn “_Crumbie-e-e!_”

“We _must_ have won!” he cried, sitting up suddenly in bed. “We must
have!”

Footsteps pounded the stairs and hurried along the corridor and Toby’s
heart raced. Eager voices sounded in the corridor, came nearer! There
was a knock on the door and Toby, trying to say “Come in!” couldn’t.
But it didn’t matter for the door swung open at once and in came Arnold
and Frank, still in hockey togs, red-cheeked, bright-eyed, bringing
a breath of the frosty outdoors with them. It was Arnold who spoke
first, Arnold falling to his knees beside the bed and throwing one arm
across Toby’s body.

“We won, chum!” he cried. “Four to two! It was great! And old Frank
played a wonderful game――”

“Not as good as Toby would have,” interpolated Frank with conviction
from the foot of the bed.

“And Loring told me to tell you,” continued Arnold breathlessly,
unheeding of interruption, “that you’re to get your hockey letters, T.
Tucker!” Arnold paused then and his face sobered. Finally, in lower
tones he said: “Frank’s told me, Toby, and I don’t blame you for
thinking what you did. He doesn’t either. And I’m sorry, awfully sorry,
that I――I acted the way I did, and called you――what I did. You believe
me, don’t you?”

Toby only nodded. He wanted to speak but――well, a nod was easier!
Arnold’s hand found his on the coverlid and grasped it tightly.

“I wanted to make up long ago, Toby,” he whispered, “but――but I was
just a plain, rotten brute.”

Toby shook his head vehemently, but Arnold wouldn’t have it.

“Yes, I was, chum! A regular brute. Frank told me so a dozen times.
But――but it’s all right now, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” answered Toby happily. “It’s _all right_!”

From the direction of the gymnasium came another long cheer: “_Rah,
rah, rah! Rah, rah, rah! Rah, rah, rah! Tucker!_”

Toby, hearing, smiled contentedly. “I guess,” he murmured, “most
everything comes out all right if you’ll just let it!”


THE END



BY RALPH HENRY BARBOUR


_Hilton Series_


The Half Back

The young hero of this story is carried through preparatory school and
the freshman year at Harvard. The story closes with an account of a
Yale-Harvard game.


For the Honor of the School

The excitement of a cross country run, training for track athletics,
with a glimpse of football are all to be found in this school story.
The hero is both an athlete and a scholar.


Captain of the Crew

“Captain of the Crew” follows “For the Honor of the School” but is in
every sense a complete story. The author is concerned both with school
athletics and with the influences that build character.


_Erskine Series_


Behind the Line

A story of life at a preparatory school with the chief interest
centering around football. The author gives an intimate view of the
preparation and training necessary for a big game.


Weatherby’s Inning

A story of a young man’s struggle against untoward circumstances in
a small New England college. Baseball furnishes the chief athletic
interest.


On Your Mark

Track work furnishes the athletic interest in this story of school
life.


_The Grafton Series_

_These are stories of life at Grafton School. They are full of sport
and games, and will interest any boy who likes the rivalry of contests._


Rivals for the Team

Hugh Ordway comes to America from England. His room-mate, star
half-back of the team, gets him started in football, and on the eve of
the great contest they find themselves rivals for the same position.


Winning His Game

The day of the game between Grafton and Mount Morris arrives and Bud
Baker and Jimmy Logan, two important players, are missing. A search
reveals that they have missed the train. And then――well, read the story.


Hitting the Line

Monty Grail comes East from Wyoming to enter Mount Morris School. At
the Grand Central Terminal he meets two prominent students of Grafton
who induce him to enter their school instead. In the end he is not
sorry he changed his mind.


_The Purple Pennant Series_

_In these books Mr. Barbour tells of life in the average high school.
Each book is a thriller._


The Lucky Seventh

Gordon Merrick, with Dick Lovering, forms a ball team of the remnants
of the High School nine and challenges the boys of the summer colony.


The Secret Play

Clearfield High School loses her football coach, and against much
criticism, Dick Lovering, a cripple, coaches the team. When the day of
the big match comes, some unexpected things happen.


The Purple Pennant

An athletic meet in which the boys have running races, hurdling,
pole-vaulting and hammer throwing, is the climax of this story. The
book tells the story of the purple pennant and how it came into being.


_Each, illustrated, $1.50 net_

These Are Appleton Books

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.

 ――Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 ――Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.





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