Infomotions, Inc.The New Boy at Hilltop / Barbour, Ralph Henry, 1870-1944



Author: Barbour, Ralph Henry, 1870-1944
Title: The New Boy at Hilltop
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): kenneth; mcturkle; grafton; satterlee; patsy; twigg; joe; pemberton; jerry; tom; ball; grafton hyde; curly
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Title: The New Boy at Hilltop

Author: Ralph Henry Barbour

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THE NEW BOY AT HILLTOP

AND OTHER STORIES

BY

RALPH HENRY BARBOUR




TO BELINDA




CONTENTS


THE NEW BOY AT HILLTOP

THE PROVING OF JERRY

MCTURKLE, THE BAND

THE TRIUMPH OF "CURLY"

PATSY

HIS FIRST ASSIGNMENT

PEMBERTON'S FLUKE

THE SEVENTH TUTOR

A RACE WITH THE WATERS

A COLLEGE SANTA CLAUS

THE TRIPLE PLAY

THE DUB




THE NEW BOY AT HILLTOP



I


Hilltop School closed its fall term with just ninety-five students; it
opened again two weeks later, on the third of January, with ninety-six; and
thereby hangs this tale.

Kenneth Garwood had been booked for Hilltop in the autumn, but
circumstances had interfered with the family's plans. Instead he journeyed
to Moritzville on the afternoon of the day preceding the commencement of
the new term, a very cold and blustery January afternoon, during much of
which he sat curled tightly into a corner of his seat in the poorly heated
day coach, which was the best the train afforded, and wondered why the
Connecticut Valley was so much colder than Cleveland, Ohio. He had taken an
early train from New York, and all the way to Moritzville had sought with
natural eagerness for sight of his future schoolmates. But he had been
unsuccessful. When Hilltop returns to school it takes the mid-afternoon
express which reaches Moritzville just in time for dinner, whereas Kenneth
reached the school before it was dark, and at a quarter of five was in
undisputed possession, for the time being, of Number 12, Lower House.

"We are putting you," the principal had said, "with Joseph Brewster, a boy
of about your own age and a member of your class. He is one of our nicest
boys, one of whom we are very proud. You will, I am certain, become good
friends. Mr. Whipple here will show you to your room. Supper is at six.
Afterwards, say at eight o'clock, I should like you to see me again here at
the office. If there is anything you want you will find the matron's room
at the end of the lower hall. Er--will you take him in charge, Mr.
Whipple?"

On the way across the campus, between banks of purple-shadowed snow and
under leafless elms which creaked and groaned dismally in the wind, Kenneth
reached the firm conclusion that there were two persons at Hilltop whom he
was going to dislike cordially. One was the model Joseph Brewster, and the
other was Mr. Whipple. The instructor was young, scarcely more than
twenty-three, tall, sallow, near-sighted and taciturn. He wore an
unchanging smile on his thin face and spoke in a soft, silky voice that
made Kenneth want to trip him into one of the snow banks.

Lower House, so called to distinguish it from the other dormitory, Upper
House, which stood a hundred yards higher on the hill, looked very
uninviting. Its windows frowned dark and inhospitable and no light shone
from the hall as they entered. Mr. Whipple paused and searched
unsuccessfully for a match.

"I fear I have left my match box in my study," he said at length. "Just a
moment, please, Garwood, and I will--"

"Here's a match, sir," interrupted Kenneth.

"Ah!" Mr. Whipple accepted the match and rubbed it carefully under the
banister rail. "Thank you," he added as a tiny pale flame appeared at the
tip of the side bracket. "I trust that the possession of matches, my boy,
does not indicate a taste for tobacco on your part?" he continued, smiling
deprecatingly.

Kenneth took up his suit case again.

"I trust not, sir," he said. Mr. Whipple blinked behind his glasses.

"Smoking is, of course, prohibited at Hilltop."

"I think it is at most schools," Kenneth replied gravely.

"Oh, undoubtedly! I am to understand, then, that you are not even in the
least addicted to the habit?"

"Well, sir, it isn't likely you'll ever catch me at it," said Kenneth
imperturbably. The instructor flushed angrily.

"I hope not," he said in a silky voice, "I sincerely hope not, Garwood--for
your sake!"

He started up the stairs and Kenneth followed, smiling wickedly. He hadn't
made a very good beginning, he told himself, but Mr. Whipple irritated him
intensely. After the instructor had closed the door softly and taken his
departure, Kenneth sat down in an easy-chair and indulged in regrets.

"I wish I hadn't been so fresh," he muttered ruefully. "It doesn't do a
fellow any good to get the teachers down on him. Not that I'm scared of
that old boy, though! Dr. Randall isn't so bad, but if the rest of the
teachers are like Whipple I don't want to stay. Well, dad said I needn't
stay after this term if I don't like it. Guess I can stand three months,
even of Whipple! I hope Brewster isn't quite as bad. Maybe, though, they'll
give me another room if I kick. Don't see why I can't have a room by
myself, anyhow. I guess I'll get dad to write and ask for it. Only maybe a
chap in moderate circumstances like me isn't supposed to have a room all to
himself."

He chuckled softly and looked about him.

Number 12 consisted of a small study and a good-sized sleeping room opening
off. The study was well furnished, even if the carpet was worn bare in
spots and the green-topped table was a mass of ink blots. There were two
comfortable armchairs and two straight-backed chairs, the aforementioned
table, two bookcases, one on each side of the window, a wicker wastebasket
and two or three pictures. Also there was an inviting window seat heaped
with faded cushions. On the whole, Kenneth decided, the study, seen in the
soft radiance of the droplight, had a nice "homey" look. He crossed over
and examined the bedroom, drawing aside the faded brown chenille curtain to
let in the light. There wasn't much to see--two iron beds, two chiffoniers,
two chairs, a trunk bearing the initials "J. A. B." and a washstand. The
floor was bare save for three rugs, one beside each bed and one in front of
the washstand. The two windows had white muslin curtains and a couple of
uninteresting pictures hung on the walls. He dropped the curtain at the
door, placed his suit case on a chair and opened it. For the next few
minutes he was busy distributing its contents. To do this it was necessary
to light the gas in the bedroom and as it flared up, its light was
reflected from the gleaming backs of a set of silver brushes which he had
placed a moment before on the top of the chiffonier. He paused for a moment
and eyed them doubtfully.

"Gee!" he muttered. "I can't have those out. I'll have to buy some
brushes."

He gathered them up and tumbled them back into his suit case. Finally, with
everything put away, he took off coat and vest, collar and, cuffs, and
proceeded to wash up. And while he is doing it let us have a good look at
him.

He was fourteen years of age, but he looked older. Not that he was large
for his age; it was rather the expression of his face that added that
mythical year or so. He looked at once self-reliant and reserved. At first
glance one might have thought him conceited, in which case one would have
done him an injustice. Kenneth had traveled a good deal and had seen more
of the world than has the average boy of his age, and this had naturally
left its impress on his countenance. I can't honestly say that he was
handsome, and I don't think you will be disappointed to hear it. But he was
good-looking, with nice, quiet gray eyes, an aquiline nose, a fairly broad
mouth whose smiles meant more for being infrequent, and a firm, rather
pointed chin of the sort which is popularly supposed to, and in Kenneth's
case really did, denote firmness of character. His hair was brown and quite
guiltless of curl. His body was well set up and he carried himself with a
little backward thrust of the head and shoulders which might have seemed
arrogant, but wasn't, any more than was his steady, level manner of looking
at one.

Presently, having donned his clothes once more, he picked up a book from
the study table, pulled one of the chairs toward the light and set himself
comfortably therein, stretching his legs out and letting his elbows sink
into the padded leather arms. And so he sat when, after twenty minutes or
so, there were sounds outside the building plainly denoting the arrival of
students, sounds followed by steps on the stairs, shouts, laughter, happy
greetings, the thumping of bags, the clinking of keys. And so he sat when
the door of Number 12 was suddenly thrown wide open and a merry face,
flushed with the cold, looked amazedly upon him from between the high,
shaggy, upturned collar of a voluminous dark gray ulster and the soft visor
of a rakishly tilted cap.




II


And while Kenneth looked back, he felt his prejudices melting away. Surely
one couldn't dislike for very long such a jolly, mischievous-looking youth
as this! Of Kenneth's own age was the newcomer, a little heavier,
yellow-haired and blue-eyed, at once impetuous and good-humored. But at
this moment the good-humor was not greatly in evidence. Merriment gave
place to surprise, surprise to resentment on the boy's countenance.

"Hello!" he challenged.

Kenneth laid the book face down on his knee and smiled politely.

"How do you do?" he responded.

The newcomer dragged a big valise into the room and closed the door behind
him, never for an instant taking his gaze off Kenneth. Then, apparently
concluding that the figure in the armchair was real flesh and blood and not
a creature of the imagination, he tossed his cap to the table, revealing a
rumpled mass of golden yellow hair, and looked belligerently at the
intruder.

"Say, you've got the wrong room, I guess," he announced.

"Here's where they put me," answered Kenneth gravely.

"Well, you can't stay here," was the inhospitable response. "This is my
room."

Kenneth merely looked respectfully interested. Joe Brewster slid out of his
ulster, frowning angrily.

"You're a new boy, aren't you!" he demanded.

"About an hour and a half old," said Kenneth. Somehow the reply seemed to
annoy Joe. He clenched his hands and stepped toward the other truculently.

"Well, you go and see the matron; she'll find a room for you; there are
lots of rooms, I guess. Anyway, I'm not going to have you butting in here."

"You must be Joseph Brewster," said Kenneth. The other boy growled assent.
"The fact is, Brewster, they put me in here with you because you are such a
fine character. Dr. Whatshisname said you were the pride of the school, or
something like that. I guess they thought association with you would
benefit me."

Joe gave a roar and a rush. Over went the armchair, over went Kenneth, over
went Joe, and for a minute nothing was heard in Number 12 but the sound of
panting and gasping and muttered words, and the colliding of feet and
bodies with floor and furniture. The attack had been somewhat unexpected
and as a result, for the first moments of the battle, Kenneth occupied the
uncomfortable and inglorious position of the under dog. He strove only to
escape punishment, avoiding offensive tactics altogether. It was hard work,
however, for Brewster pummeled like a good one, his seraphic face aflame
with the light of battle and his yellow hair seeming to stand about his
head like a golden oriflamb. And while Kenneth hugged his adversary to him,
ducking his head away from the incessant jabs of a very industrious fist,
he realized that he had made a mistake in his estimation of his future
roommate. He was going to like him; he was quite sure he was; providing, of
course that said roommate left enough of him! And then, seeing, or rather
feeling his chance, he toppled Joe Brewster over his shoulder and in a
trice the tables were turned. Now it was Kenneth who was on top, and it
took him but a moment to seize Joe's wrists in a very firm grasp, a grasp
which, in spite of all efforts, Joe found it impossible to escape. Kenneth,
perched upon his stomach--uneasily, you may be sure, since Joe heaved and
tossed like a boat in a tempest--offered terms.

"Had enough?" he asked.

"No," growled Joe.

"Then you'll stay here until you have," answered Kenneth. "You and I are
going to be roommates, so we might as well get used to each other now as
later, eh? How any fellow with a face like a little pink angel can use his
fists the way you can, gets me!"

Kenneth was almost unseated at this juncture, but managed to hold his
place. Panting from the effects of the struggle, he went on:

"Seems to me Dr. Randall must be mistaken in you, Brewster. You don't
strike me at all as a model of deportment. Seems to me he and you fixed up
a pretty lively welcome for me, eh?"

The anger faded out of Joe's face and a smile trembled at the corners of
his mouth.

"Let me up," he said quietly.

"Behave?"

"Yep."

"All right," said Kenneth. But before he could struggle to his feet there
was a peremptory knock on the door, followed instantly by the appearance of
a third person on the scene, a dark-haired, sallow, tall youth of fifteen
who viewed the scene with surprise.

"What's up?" he asked.

Kenneth sprang to his feet and gave his hand to Joe. About them spread
devastation.

"I was showing him a new tackle," explained Kenneth easily.

Joe, somewhat red of face, shot him a look of gratitude.

"Oh," said the new arrival, "and who the dickens are you, kid?"

"My name's Garwood. I just came to-day. I'm to room with Brewster."

"Is that right?" asked the other, turning to Joe. Joe nodded.

"So he says, Graft. I think it's mighty mean, though. They let me have a
room to myself all fall, and now, just when I'm getting used to it, what do
they do? Why, they dump this chap in here. It isn't as though there weren't
plenty of other rooms!"

"Why don't you kick to the doctor?" asked Grafton Hyde.

"Oh, it wouldn't do any good, I suppose," said Joe.

Grafton Hyde sat down and viewed Kenneth with frank curiosity.

"Where are you from?" he demanded.

"Cleveland, Ohio."

"Any relation to John Garwood, the railroad man?"

"Ye-es, some," said Kenneth. Grafton snorted.

"Huh! I dare say! Most everyone tries to claim relationship with a
millionaire. Bet you, he doesn't know you're alive!"

"Well," answered Kenneth with some confusion, "maybe not, but--but I think
he's related to our family, just the same."

"You do, eh?" responded Grafton sarcastically. "Well, I wouldn't try very
hard to claim relationship if I were you. I guess if the honest truth were
known there aren't very many fellows who would want to be in John Garwood's
shoes, for all his money."

"Why?" asked Kenneth.

"Because he's no good. Look at the way he treated his employees in that
last strike! Some of 'em nearly starved to death!"

"That's a--that isn't so!" answered Kenneth hotly. "It was all newspaper
lies."

"Newspapers don't lie," said Grafton sententiously.

"They lied then, like anything," was the reply.

"Well, everyone knows what John Garwood is," said Grafton carelessly. "I've
heard my father tell about him time and again. He used to know him years
ago."

Kenneth opened his lips, thought better of it and kept silence.

"Ever hear of my father?" asked Grafton with a little swagger.

"What's his name?" asked Kenneth.

"Peter Hyde," answered the other importantly.

"Oh, yes! He's a big politician in Chicago, isn't he?"

"No, he isn't!" replied Grafton angrily. "He's Peter Hyde, the lumber
magnate."

"Oh!" said Kenneth. "What--what's a lumber magnet?"

"_Magnate_, not magnet!" growled Grafton. "It's time you came to school if
you don't know English. Where have you been going?"

"I beg pardon?"

"What school have you been to? My, you're a dummy!"

"I haven't been to any school this year. Last year I went to the grammar
school at home."

"Then this is your first boarding school, eh?"

"Yes; and I hope I'll like it. The catalogue said it was a very fine
school. I trust I shall profit from my connection with it."

Grafton stared bewilderedly, but the new junior's face was as innocent as a
cherub's. Joe Brewster stared, too, for a moment; then a smile flickered
around his mouth and he bent his head, finding interest in a bleeding
knuckle.

"Well, I came over to talk about the team, Joe," Grafton said after a
moment. "I didn't know you had company."

"Didn't know it myself," muttered Joe.

Kenneth picked up his book again and went back to his reading. But he was
not so deeply immersed but that he caught now and then fragments of the
conversation, from which he gathered that both Joe and Hyde were members of
the Lower House Basket Ball Team, that Hyde held a very excellent opinion
of his own abilities as a player, that Upper House was going to have a very
strong team and that if Lower didn't find a fellow who could throw goals
from fouls better than Simms could it was all up with them. Suddenly
Kenneth laid down his book again.

"I say, you fellows, couldn't I try for that team?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, you can _try_," laughed Grafton. "Ever play any?"

"A little. We had a team at the grammar school. I played right guard."

"You did, eh? That's where I play," said Grafton. "Maybe you'd like my
place?"

"Don't you want it?" asked Kenneth innocently.

"Don't I want it! Well, you'll have to work pretty hard to get it!"

"I will," said Kenneth very simply. Grafton stared doubtfully.

"Candidates are called for four o'clock tomorrow afternoon," said Joe.
"You'd better come along. You're pretty light, but Jim Marble will give you
a try all right."

"Thanks," answered Kenneth. "But would practice be likely to interfere with
my studies?"

"Say, kid, you're' a wonder!" sneered Grafton as he got up to go. "I never
saw anything so freshly green in my life! You're going to have a real nice
time here at Hilltop; I can see that. Well, see you later, Joe. Come up
to-night; I want to show you some new snowshoes I brought back. Farewell,
Garwood. By the way, what's your first name?"

"Kenneth."

"Hey?"

"Kenneth; K, e, n, n, e--"

"Say, that's a peach!" laughed Grafton. "Well, bring little Kenneth with
you, Joe; I've got some picture books."

"Thank you," said the new junior gratefully.

"Oh, don't mention it!" And Grafton went out chuckling.

As the door closed behind him, Joe Brewster sank into a chair and thrust
out his legs, hands in pockets, while a radiant grin slowly overspread his
angelic countenance.

"Well," he said finally, "you're the first fellow that ever bluffed Graft!
And the way he took it!"

Kenneth smiled modestly under the admiring regard of his roommate.

"Gee!" cried Joe, glancing at his watch. "It's after six. Come on to
supper. Maybe if we hurry they'll give you a place at our table."

Kenneth picked up his cap and followed his new friend down the stairs. On
the way he asked:

"Is that chap Hyde a particular friend of yours?"

"N-no," answered Joe, "not exactly. We're on the team together, and he
isn't such a bad sort. Only--he's the richest fellow in school and he can't
forget it!"

"I don't like him," said Kenneth decidedly.

Hilltop School stands on the top of a hill overlooking the Connecticut
Valley, a cluster of half a dozen ivy-draped buildings of which only one,
the new gymnasium, looks less than a hundred years old. Seventy-six feet by
forty it is, built of red sandstone with freestone trimming; a fine,
aristocratic-looking structure which lends quite an air to the old campus.
In the basement there is a roomy baseball cage, a bowling alley, lockers,
and baths. In the main hall, one end of which terminates in a fair-sized
stage, are gymnastic apparatus of all kinds.

It was here that Kenneth found himself at four o'clock the next day. His
trunk had arrived and he had dug out his old basket-ball costume, a red
sleeveless shirt, white knee pants, and canvas shoes. He wore them now as
he sat, a lithe, graceful figure, on the edge of the stage. There were
nearly thirty other fellows on the floor amusing themselves in various ways
while they waited for the captain to arrive. Several of them Kenneth
already knew well enough to speak to and many others he knew by name. For
Joe had made himself Kenneth's guide and mentor, had shown him all there
was to be seen, had introduced him to a number of the fellows and pointed
out others and had initiated him into many of the school manners and
methods. This morning Kenneth had made his appearance in various class
rooms and had met various teachers, among them Mr. Whipple, who, Kenneth
discovered, was instructor in English. The fellows seemed a friendly lot
and he was already growing to like Hilltop.

Naturally enough, Kenneth found himself the object of much interest. He was
a new boy, the only new one in school. At Hilltop the athletic rivalry was
principally internal, between dormitory and dormitory. To be sure the
baseball and football teams played other schools, but nevertheless the
contests which wrought the fellows up to the highest pitch of enthusiasm
were those in which the Blue of Upper House and the Crimson of Lower met in
battle. Each dormitory had its own football, baseball, hockey, tennis,
track, basket ball, and debating, team, and rivalry was always intense.
Hence the arrival of a new boy in Lower House meant a good deal to both
camps. And most fellows liked what they saw of Kenneth, even while
regretting that he wasn't old enough and big enough for football material.
Kenneth bore the scrutiny without embarrassment, but nevertheless he was
glad when Joe joined him where he sat on the edge of the stage.

"Jim hasn't come yet," said Joe, examining a big black-and-blue spot on his
left knee. "I guess there won't be time for much practice today, because
Upper has the floor at five. They're going to have a dandy team this year;
a whole bunch of big fellows. But they had a big heavy team year before
last and we beat them the first two games."

"Don't you play any outside schools?"

"No, the faculty won't let us. Perfect rot, isn't it? They let us play
outsiders at football and baseball and all that, but they won't let us take
on even the grammar school for basket ball. Randy says the game is too
rough and we might get injured. Bough! I'd like to know what he calls
football!"

"I don't understand about the classes here," said Kenneth. "I heard that
big chap over there say he couldn't play because he was 'advanced' or
something. What's that!"

"Advanced senior," answered Joe. "You see, there's the preparatory class,
the junior class, the middle class and the senior class. Then if a fellow
wants to fit for college, he does another year in the senior class and in
order to distinguish him from the fourth-year fellows they call him an
advanced senior. See? There are five in school this year. Faculty won't let
them play basket ball or football because they're supposed to be too big
and might hurt some of us little chaps. Huh! Hello, there's Jim. I've got
to see him a minute."

And Joe slipped off the stage and scurried across to where a boy of about
sixteen, a tall, athletic-looking youth with reddish-brown hair was
crossing the floor with a ball under each arm. Joe stopped him and said a
few words and presently they both walked over to where Kenneth sat. Joe
introduced the captain and the new candidate.

"Joe says you've played the game," said Jim inquiringly in a pleasant voice
as he shook hands. Kenneth was somewhat awed by him and replied quite
modestly:

"Yes, but I don't suppose I can play with you fellows. Still, I'd like to
try."

"That's right. How are you on throwing baskets?"

"Well, I used to be pretty fair last year."

"Good enough. If you can throw goals well, you'll stand a good show of
making the team as a substitute. You'd better get out there with the others
and warm up."




III


Kenneth's first week at Hilltop passed busily and happily. There had been
no more talk on Joe's part about getting rid of his roommate. The two had
become fast friends. Kenneth grew to like Joe better each day; and it
hadn't taken him long to discover that it was because of Joe's ability to
squirm out of scrapes or to avoid detection altogether rather than to
irreproachable conduct that Dr. Randall looked upon him as a model student.

Basket-ball practice for both the Upper and Lower House teams took place
every week-day afternoon. Kenneth had erred, if at all, on the side of
modesty when speaking of his basket-ball ability. To be sure, he was light
in weight for a team where the members' ages averaged almost sixteen years,
but he made up for that in speed, while his prowess at shooting baskets
from the floor or from fouls was so remarkable that after a few practice
games had been played all Lower House was discussing him with eager
amazement and Upper House was sitting up and taking notice. At the end of
the first week Kenneth secured a place on the second team at right guard,
and Grafton Hyde, whose place in a similar position on the first team was
his more by reason of his size and weight than because of real ability,
began to work his hardest.

The closer Kenneth pressed him for his place the more Grafton's dislike of
the younger boy became evident. As there was the length of the floor
between their positions in the practice games the two had few opportunities
to "mix it up," but once or twice they got into a scrimmage together and on
those occasions the fur flew. Grafton was a hard, rough player and he
didn't handle Kenneth with gloves. On the other hand, Kenneth asked no
favors nor gave any. Naturally Grafton's superior size and strength gave
him the advantage, and after the second of these "mix-ups," during which
the other players and the few spectators looked on gleefully and the
referee blew his whistle until he was purple in the face, Kenneth limped
down to the dressing room with a badly bruised knee, a factor which kept
him out of the game for the next two days and caused Grafton to throw
sarcastic asides in the direction of the bench against which Kenneth's
heels beat a disconsolate tattoo.

Four days before the first game with Upper House--the championship shield
went to the team winning two games out of three--Lower House held an
enthusiastic meeting at which songs and cheers were practiced and at which
the forty odd fellows in attendance pledged themselves for various sums of
money to defray the cost of new suits and paraphernalia for both the basket
ball and hockey teams.

"How much do you give?" whispered Kenneth.

"Five dollars," answered Joe, his pencil poised above the little slip of
paper. Kenneth stared.

"But--isn't that a good bit?" he asked incredulously.

"It seems so when you only get twenty dollars a month allowance," answered
Joe ruefully. "But every fellow gives what he thinks he ought to, you know;
Graft usually gives ten dollars, but lots of the fellows can only give
fifty cents."

"I see," murmured Kenneth. "'What he thinks he ought to give, eh? That's
easy."

The following afternoon Upper and Lower Houses turned out _en masse_ to see
the first of the hockey series and stood ankle-deep in the new snow while
Upper proceeded to administer a generous trouncing to her rival.

"Eat 'em up, Upper! Eat 'em up, Upper!" gleefully shouted the supporters of
the blue-stockinged players along the opposite barrier.

"Oh, forget it!" growled Joe, pulling the collar of his red sweater higher
about his neck and turning a disgusted back to the rink. "That's 14 to 3,
isn't it? Well, it must be pretty near over, that's one comfort! Hello,
here comes Whipple. Gee, but he makes me tired! Always trying to mix with
the fellows. I wonder if he was born with that ugly smile of his. He's
coming this way," Joe groaned. "He thinks I'm such a nice little boy and
says he hopes my heart is of gold to match my hair! Wouldn't that peev
you?"

"Ah, Brewster," greeted Mr. Whipple, laying a hand on the boy's shoulder,
"how goes it today?" He accorded Kenneth a curt nod.

"Going bad," growled Joe.

"Well, well, we must take the bad with the good," said the instructor
sweetly. "Even defeat has its lesson, you know. Now--"

But Kenneth didn't hear the rest. Grafton Hyde was beside him with a slip
of paper in his hand.

"Say, Garwood," said Grafton loudly enough to be heard by the audience near
by, "I wish you'd tell me about this. It's your subscription slip. These
figures look like a one and two naughts, but I guess you meant ten dollars
instead of one, didn't you?"

"No," answered Kenneth calmly.

"Oh! But--only a dollar?" inquired Grafton incredulously.

The fellows nearest at hand who had been either watching the game or
delighting in Joe's discomforture turned their attention to Grafton and the
new junior.

"Exactly," answered Kenneth. "The figures are perfectly plain, aren't
they?"

Grafton shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

"Oh, all right," he said. "Only a dollar seemed rather little, and I wanted
to be sure--"

"Didn't anyone else give a dollar?" demanded Kenneth.

"We don't make public the amounts received," answered Grafton with much
dignity. Kenneth smiled sarcastically.

"What are you doing now?" he asked.

"I merely asked--"

"And I answered. That's enough, isn't it?"

"Yes, but let me tell you that we don't take to stingy fellows in Lower
House. You'd better get moved to Upper, Garwood; that's where you belong.
You're a fresh kid, and I guess we don't have to have your subscription
anyway." He tore the slip up contemptuously and tossed the pieces to the
snow. Kenneth colored.

"Just as you like," he answered. "I subscribed what I thought proper and
you've refused to accept it. You haven't worried me."

But a glance over the faces of the little throng showed that public
sentiment was against him. Well, that couldn't be helped now. He turned his
back and gave his attention to the game. But the incident was not yet
closed. Mr. Whipple's smooth voice sounded in its most conciliatory tones:

"We all know your generosity, Hyde. Let us hope that by next year Garwood
will have learned from you the spirit of giving."

Kenneth swung around and faced the instructor.

"May I ask, sir, how much you gave?"

"Me? Why--ah--I think the teachers are not required--I should say expected
to--ah--contribute," answered Mr. Whipple agitatedly.

"I guess they aren't forbidden to," answered Kenneth. "And I don't believe
you've got any right to criticise the size of my subscription until you've
given something yourself."

Mr. Whipple's smile grew tremulous and almost flickered out.

"I'm sure that the boys of the Lower House know that I am always ready and
eager to aid in any way," he replied with angry dignity, "If they will
allow me to contribute--" He paused and viewed the circle smilingly.

The idea tickled all hands hugely.

"Yes, sir!"

"Thank you, sir!"

"About five dollars, Mr. Whipple!"

Mr. Whipple's smile grew strained and uneasy. He had not expected
acceptance of his offer.

"Yes, yes, perhaps it is best to keep the donations confined to the student
body," he said. "Perhaps at another time you'll allow--"

"Right now, sir!" cried Joe. "Give us a couple of dollars, sir!"

The demand could not be disregarded. Shouts of approval arose on every
hand. On the ice, Wason of the Upper House team had hurt his knee and time
had been called; and the waiting players flocked to the barrier to see what
was up. Mr. Whipple looked questioningly at Grafton and found that youth
regarding him expectantly. With a sigh which was quickly stifled he drew
forth his pocketbook and selected a two dollar note from the little roll it
contained. He handed it to Grafton who accepted it carelessly.

"Thanks," said Grafton. "I'll send you a receipt, sir."

"Oh, that is not necessary," replied Mr. Whipple. Now that the thing was
past mending he made the best of it. His smile had returned in all its
serenity. "And now, Garwood," he said, "as I have complied with your
requirements, allow me to say that your conduct has not been--ah--up to
Hilltop standards. Let me suggest that you cultivate generosity."

Kenneth, who had kept his back turned since his last words, swung around
with an angry retort on his lips. But Joe's hand pulled him back.

"Shut up, chum!" whispered Joe. "Let him go."

Kenneth, swallowed, his anger and Mr. Whipple, with a smiling nod, followed
by a quick malevolent glance at Joe, turned away from the group of grinning
faces.

Chuckles and quiet snickers followed him.

There was joy in the ranks of the enemy.

Only Kenneth showed no satisfaction over the instructor's discomfiture for
he realized that the latter would hold him partly accountable for it.

Presently, the game having come to an end with the score 18 to 7 in Upper's
favor, he and Joe went back together up the hill.

"I wish," said Joe, with a frown, "you hadn't made that fuss about the
subscription. Fellows will think you're stingy, I'm afraid."

"Well, they'll have to think so then," responded Kenneth defiantly.
"Anyhow, Hyde had no business pitching into me about it like that in
public."

"No, that's so," Joe acknowledged. "He hadn't. I guess he's got it in for
you good and hard. But don't you be worried."

"I'm not," answered Kenneth. And he didn't look to be.

"I'm going to see Jim Marble before Graft gets at him with a lot of yarns
about you," Joe continued.

"Thanks," said Kenneth. "I wish you would. I don't want to lose all show
for the team."

"You bet you don't! You're getting on finely, too, aren't you? I don't see
how you work those long throws of yours. Graft says it's just your fool
luck," Joe chuckled. "I asked him why he didn't cultivate a little luck
himself! He's been playing like a baby so far; sloppy's no name for it!"

"Think Marble notices it?"

"Of course he notices it! Jim doesn't miss a thing. Why?"

"Nothing, only--well, I've made up my mind to beat Grafton out; and I'm
going to do it!"

Two days later there was deeper gloom than ever in Lower House. Upper had
won the first basket ball game! And the score, 14 to 6, didn't offer ground
for comfort. There was no good reason to suppose that the next game, coming
a week later, would result very differently. Individually three at least of
the five players had done brilliant work, Marble at center. Joe at left
forward and Collier at left guard having won applause time and again. But
Upper had far excelled in team work, especially on offense, and Lower's
much-heralded speed hadn't shown up. On the defense, all things considered,
Lower had done fairly well, although most of the honor belonged to Collier
at left guard, Grafton Hyde having played a slow, blundering game in which
he had apparently sought to substitute roughness for science. More than
half of the fouls called on the Red had been made by Grafton. And, even
though Upper had no very certain basket thrower, still she couldn't have
helped making a fair share of those goals from fouls.

Kenneth hadn't gone on until the last minute of play, and he had not
distinguished himself. In fact his one play had been a failure. He had
taken Grafton's place at right guard. Carl Jones, Upper's big center, stole
the ball in the middle of the floor and succeeded in getting quite away
from the field. Kenneth saw the danger and gave chase, but his lack of
weight was against him. Jones brushed him aside, almost under the basket,
and, while Kenneth went rolling over out of bounds, tossed the easiest sort
of a goal.

But Kenneth's lack of success on that occasion caused him to work harder
than ever in practice, and, on the following Thursday the long-expected
happened. Grafton Hyde went to the second team and Kenneth took his place
at right guard on the first.




IV


Grafton could scarcely believe it at first. When he discovered that Jim
Marble really meant that he was to go to the second team his anger almost
got the better of him, and the glance he turned from Jim to Kenneth held
nothing of affection. But he took his place at right guard on the second
and, although with ill grace, played the position while practice lasted.
Kenneth took pains to keep away from him, since there was no telling what
tricks he might be up to. The first team put it all over the second that
day and Jim Marble was smiling when time was called and the panting players
tumbled downstairs to the showers. On Friday practice was short. After it
was over Kenneth stopped at the library on his way back to Lower House.
When he opened the door of Number 12 he found Joe with his books spread
out, studying.

"Hello, where have you been?" asked Joe. "Graft was in here a minute ago
looking for you. Said if you came in before dinner to ask you to go up to
his room a minute. Of course," said Joe, grinning, "he may intend to throw
you out of the window or give you poison, but he talked sweetly enough.
Still, maybe you'd better stay away; perhaps he's just looking for a chance
to quarrel."

Kenneth thought a minute. Then he turned toward the door.

"Going?" asked Joe.

"Yes."

"Well, if you're not back by six I'll head a rescue party."

Grafton Hyde roomed by himself on the third floor. His two rooms, on the
corner of the building, were somewhat elaborately furnished, as befitted
the apartments of "the richest fellow in school." He had chosen the third
floor because he was under surveillance less strict than were the first and
second floor boys. The teacher on the third floor was Mr. Whipple and, as
his rooms were at the other end of the hall and as he paid little attention
at best to his charges, Grafton did about as he pleased. To-night there was
no light shining through the transom when Kenneth reached Number 21 and he
decided that Grafton was out. But he would make sure and so knocked at the
door. To his surprise he was told to come in. As he opened the door a chill
draft swept by him, a draft at once redolent of snow and of cigarette
smoke. The room was in complete darkness, but a form was outlined against
one of the windows, the lower sash of which was fully raised, and a tiny
red spark glowed there. Kenneth paused on the threshold.

"Who is it?" asked Grafton's voice.

"Garwood," was the reply. "Joe said you wanted me to look you up."

The spark suddenly dropped out of sight, evidently tossed through the open
window.

"Oh," said Grafton with a trace of embarrassment. "Er--wait a moment and
I'll light up."

"Don't bother," said Kenneth. "I can't stay but a minute. I just thought
I'd see what you wanted."

"Well, you'll find a chair there by the table," said Grafton, sinking back
on the window seat. "Much obliged to you for coming up."

There was a silence during which Kenneth found the chair and Grafton pulled
down the window. Then,

"Look here, Garwood," said Grafton, "you've got my place on the team, I
don't say you didn't get it fair and square, because you did. But I want
it. You know me pretty well and I guess you know I generally get what I
want. You're a pretty good sort, and you're a friend of Joe's, and I like
Joe, but I might make it mighty uncomfortable for you if I wanted to, which
I don't. I'll tell you what I'll do, Garwood. You get yourself back on the
second team and I'll make it right with you. If you need a little money--"

"Is that all?" asked Kenneth, rising.

"Hold on! Don't get waxy! Wait till I explain. I'll give you twenty-five
dollars, Garwood. You can do a whole lot with twenty-five dollars. And
that's a mighty generous offer. All you've got to do is to play off for a
couple of days. Tomorrow you could be kind of sick and not able to play. No
one would think anything about it, and you can bet I wouldn't breathe a
word of it. What do you say?"

"I say you're a confounded cad!" cried Kenneth hotly.

"Oh, you do, eh? I haven't offered enough, I suppose!" sneered Grafton. "I
might have known that a fellow who would only give a dollar to the teams
would be a hard bargainer! Well, I'm not stingy; I'll call it thirty. Now,
what do you say?"

"When you get your place back it'll be by some other means than buying it,"
said Kenneth contemptuously. He turned toward the door. "You haven't got
enough money to buy everything, you see; and--"

There was a sharp knock on the door.

"If you say anything about this," whispered Grafton hoarsely, "I'll--I'll--
Come in!"

"Who is here?" asked Mr. Whipple's voice as the door swung open.

"I, sir, and Garwood," answered Grafton.

"Ah! Garwood! And which one of you, may I ask, has been smoking
cigarettes?"

There was a moment's silence. Then,

"Nobody in here, sir," answered Grafton.

"That will do, Hyde. Don't attempt to shield him," said Mr. Whipple coldly.
"Light the gas, please."

Grafton slid off the window seat and groped toward where Kenneth was
standing.

"Yes, sir," he said, "as soon as I can find a match." He brushed heavily
against Kenneth.

"I beg your pardon, Garwood. I'm all turned around. Where--? Oh, here they
are." A match flared and Grafton lighted the droplight. Mr. Whipple turned
to Kenneth, a triumphant smile on his thin features.

"Well, what have you to say?" he asked.

"About what, sir!" inquired Kenneth.

"About smoking. You deny it, then."

"Yes."

"Ah! And what about this!" Mr. Whipple opened his hand and displayed a
portion of a cigarette with charred end. "You should be more careful where
you throw them, Garwood. This came from the window just as I was passing
below."

"It's not mine," was the answer.

"Oh, then it was you, Hyde?"

Grafton smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

"If you can find any cigarettes in my room, sir, you--"

"Pshaw! What's the use in pretending?" interrupted the instructor, viewing
Kenneth balefully. "I fancy I know where to look for cigarettes, eh,
Garwood? You have no objection to emptying your pockets for me?"

"None at all, Mr. Whipple."

"Then, may I suggest that you do so?"

Kenneth dove into one pocket and brought out a handkerchief and a small
piece of pencil, into the other and--

"Ah!" said Mr. Whipple triumphantly.

In Kenneth's hand lay a piece of folded paper, a skate strap and--a box of
cigarettes! He stared at the latter bewilderedly for a moment. Then he
glanced sharply at Grafton. That youth regarded him commiseratingly and
slowly shook his head.

"I'll take those, if you please," said Mr. Whipple. Kenneth handed them
over.

"I never saw them before," he said simply.

"Oh, of course not," jeered the instructor. "And the room rank with
cigarette smoke! That's a pretty tall story, I think, Garwood. You told me
once that I would never catch you smoking cigarettes. You see you were a
trifle mistaken. You may go to your room."

"I wasn't smoking cigarettes," protested Kenneth. "I never saw that box
before in my life. If Hyde won't tell, I will. I came up here and found
him--"

He stopped. What was the use? Telling on another fellow was mean work, and,
besides, Mr. Whipple wouldn't believe him. He had no proof to offer and all
the evidence was against him. He turned to the door. On the threshold he
looked back at Grafton.

"You sneak!" he said softly.

Then, with the angry tears blinding his eyes, he hurried down to his room
to unburden his heart to Joe Brewster.

Joe was wildly indignant and was all for dashing upstairs and "knocking the
spots out of Graft!" But Kenneth refused his consent to such a procedure.

"I'll tell them the truth when they call me up," he said. "If they don't
believe me they needn't."

Well, they didn't. Kenneth refused to incriminate Grafton and as all the
evidence was strongly against him he was held guilty. The verdict was
"suspension" as soon as Kenneth's parents could be communicated with.
Grafton denied having smoked with Kenneth and got off with a lecture for
permitting an infraction of the rules in his study. Joe stormed and
sputtered, but as Kenneth had bound him to secrecy he could do no more.

That night Upper and Lower met in the second basket-ball game and Grafton
Hyde played right guard on the Lower House team. Fate was kind to the Beds.
Knox, Upper's crack right forward, was out of the game with a twisted ankle
and when the last whistle blew the score board declared Lower House the
winner by a score of 12 to 9. And Lower House tramped through the snow,
around and around the campus, and made night hideous with songs and cheers
until threatened by the faculty with dire punishment if they did not at
once retire to their rooms. And up in Number 12 Kenneth, feeling terribly
out of it all, heard and was glad of the victory.

Sunday afternoon he spent in packing his trunk, for, in spite of Joe's
pleadings, he was determined not to return to Hilltop when his term of
suspension was over. He expected to hear from his father in the morning, in
which case he would take the noon train to New York on the first stage of
his journey.

That night they sat up late, since it was to be their last evening
together, and Joe was very miserable. He begged Kenneth to go to Dr.
Randall and tell just what had occurred. But Kenneth shook his head.

"He wouldn't believe me if I did," he said. "And, anyhow, what's the use of
staying while Whipple's here? He'd get me fired sooner or later. No, the
best way to do is to quit now. I'm sorry, Joe; you and I were getting on
together pretty well, weren't we?"

"Yes," answered Joe sadly. And then he became reminiscent and asked whether
Kenneth remembered the way they kicked the furniture around that first
evening and how Kenneth had joshed Grafton Hyde.

When they at last went to bed Kenneth found himself unable to sleep. Eleven
o'clock struck on the town clock. From across the room came Joe's regular
breathing and Kenneth, punching his pillow into a new shape, envied him.
For a half hour longer he tossed and turned, and then slumber came to him,
yet so fitfully that he was wide awake and out of bed the instant that that
first shrill cry of "_Fire!_" sounded in the corridor.




V


Kenneth's first act after hearing the alarm was to awake Joe, This he did
by the simple expedient of yanking the bedclothes away from him and yelling
"Fire!" at the top of his lungs. Then, stumbling over the chairs, he groped
his way to the hall door and opened it. The corridor was already filled
with excitement and confusion. Of the eighteen boys who roomed on that
floor fully half were in evidence, standing dazedly about in pyjamas or
night shirts and shouting useless questions and absurd answers. Simms, who
lived at the far end of the corridor, emerged from his room dragging a
steamer trunk after him. Instantly the scantily clad youths dashed into
their rooms intent on rescuing their belongings. Joe joined Kenneth at the
door.

"Where's the fire?" he gasped.

"I don't know," answered Kenneth, "but I can smell it. Get something on;
I'm going to. Has anyone given the alarm?" he asked, as Simms hurried back
toward his study.

"Yes! No! I don't know! Everything's on fire upstairs! You'd better get
your things out!"

"Somebody ought to give the alarm," said Kenneth. "Who's seen Mr. Bronson?"

But none had time to answer him. Kenneth scooted down the hall and thumped
at the instructor's door. There was no answer and Kenneth unceremoniously
shoved it open. The study was in darkness.

"_Mr. Bronson!_" he cried. "_Mr. Bronson!_"

There was no reply, and Kenneth recollected that very frequently Mr.
Bronson spent Sunday night at his home. He hurried back to his own room and
found Joe throwing their belongings out of the windows. At that moment the
bell on School Hall began to clang wildly and a second afterwards the alarm
was taken up by the fire bell in the village, a mile away.

Kenneth pulled on his trousers and shoes, looked for a coat only to find
that Joe had thrown all the coats out of the windows, and went back to the
corridor. All up and down it boys were staggering along with trunks and
bags, while from the western end the smoke was volleying forth from Number
19 in great billowy clouds. From the floor above raced fellows with suit
cases and small trunks, shouting and laughing in the excitement of the
moment.

One of the older boys, Harris by name, came galloping upstairs with a fire
extinguisher, followed by a crowd of partly dressed fellows from Upper
House. But the smoke which filled the end of the corridor drove them back
and the stream from the extinguisher wasted itself against the fast
yellowing plaster of the wall. The building was rapidly becoming
uninhabitable and, calling Joe from the study, where he was vainly trying
to get the study table through the casement, Kenneth made for the stairs.
The light at the far end of the corridor shone red and murky through the
dense clouds of smoke.

"All out of the building!" cried a voice from below, and the half dozen
adventurous spirits remaining in the second floor corridor started down the
stairs.

"Do you know how it began?" asked Joe of a boy beside him.

"Yes," was the reply. "King, in 19, was reading in bed with a lamp he has,
and he went to sleep and upset it somehow. He got burned, they say."

"Serves him right," muttered some one. Kenneth glanced around and found
Grafton Hyde beside him.

"Hello," said Kenneth.

"Hello," answered Grafton. "Did you save anything?"

"Yes, I guess so," Kenneth replied. "Did you?"

For the moment animosities were forgotten, wiped out of existence by the
calamity.

"Not much," said Grafton. "But I don't care. I tried to get my trunk down
but the smoke was fierce and the end of the building was all in flames. So
I lit out."

The lower hall was crowded with boys. Dr. Randall, tall and gaunt in a red
flowered dressing gown, and several of the instructors were doing their
best to clear the building.

"All out, boys!" called the doctor. "It isn't safe here now! The firemen
will be here in a minute and you'll only be in the way! I want you all to
go over to Upper House!"

"Hello!" said Kenneth. "What's the matter with you, Jasper?"

Jasper Hendricks, the youngest boy in school, was crouched in a dim corner
of the hall, sobbing and shaking as though his heart was broken.

"What's up?" asked Grafton.

"Don't know. Here's young Jasper crying like a good one. What's the
trouble, Jasper? Did you get hurt?"

But the boy apparently didn't even hear them.

"Lost his things, probably," suggested Grafton, "and feels it. Never mind,
kid? you'll get some more."

"I want every boy out of the building!" cried the doctor. But his voice was
almost drowned in the babel of cries and shouts and laughter.

"Come on, Jasper," said Kenneth, trying to raise him to his feet. "We've
got to get out."

For the first time he caught a glimpse of the boy's face. It was white and
drawn and horror stricken.

"What's the matter?" cried Kenneth in alarm. Young Hendrick's lips moved
but Kenneth could not distinguish the whispered words.

"Eh? What's that? Speak louder! You're all right now! Don't be scared! What
is it?" And Kenneth bent his head as the younger boy clung to him
convulsively.

"_Mister Whipple!_"

Kenneth barely caught the whispered words.

"Mr. Whipple," he muttered. "What does he mean?" He pulled the lad's body
around so that he could see his face in the smoke-dimmed light. "What about
him, Jasper? He's safe, isn't he?"

The white face shook from side to side.

"What does he say?" cried Grafton. "Whipple? Isn't he down? Where is he?"

"He must be--!"

Kenneth paused, his own face paling, and looked fearsomely toward the
stairs down which the gray-brown smoke was floating wraithlike. Then his
eyes met Grafton's and he read his own horror reflected there.

"Jasper's room is next to Mr. Whipple's," said Grafton hoarsely. "He must
have seen something! _Jasper, is Mr. Whipple up there now?"_

The lad's head nodded weakly. Then he broke again into great dry sobs that
shook him from head to foot. Kenneth seized him beneath the shoulders and
dragged him a few yards nearer the door. There he put him down.

"Don't cry, Jasper," he whispered kindly. "It's all right; we'll save him!"

For an instant he looked about him. Through the doors the boys were pushing
their way outward, protesting, laughing, excitedly.

Of the faculty Dr. Randall alone was in sight. One other instant Kenneth
hesitated. Then with a bound he was halfway up the first flight.

"Who's that going up there?" cried the doctor. "Here, come back instantly!"

But Kenneth did not hear, or, hearing, paid no heed. He was at the second
floor, the evil-smelling smoke thick about him, blinding his eyes and
smarting his throat. Above him was a strange lurid glare and the roaring of
the flames. For a moment his heart failed him and he leaned weak and
panting against the banister. Then a voice sounded in his ears.

"It's no use, Garwood," cried Grafton. "We can't get up there."

"We'll try," was the answer.

Bending low, his sleeve over his mouth, Kenneth rushed the next flight.
Grafton was at his heels. At the top Kenneth crouched against the last step
and squinted painfully down the corridor in the direction of Mr. Whipple's
room and the flames. The heat was stifling and the smoke rolled toward them
in great red waves. Grafton, choking, coughing, crouched at Kenneth's side.

"We can't reach him," he muttered. "The fire has cut him off."

It seemed true. Mr. Whipple's room was at the far end and between his door
and the stairway the flames were rioting wildly, licking up the woodwork
and playing over the lathes from which the plaster was crumbling away.
Kenneth's heart sank and for an instant he thought he was going to faint.
Everything grew black before him and his head settled down on his
outstretched arm. Then Grafton was shaking him by the shoulder and his
senses returned.

"Come on!" cried Grafton. "Let's get out of this while we can! We'll be
burned alive in a minute!" There was panic in his voice and he tugged
nervously at Kenneth's arm.

At that moment a great expanse of plaster fell from the ceiling some thirty
feet away and the flames glared luridly through the corridor, making
everything for a brief moment as light as day. From below came calls, but
Kenneth did not hear them.

"Look!" he cried, seizing Grafton's arm. "_On the floor! Do you see?_"

"Yes," shouted Grafton. "It's Mr. Whipple! Can we get him?"

"I'm going to try," was the calm reply. "Will you come with me?"

For a moment the two boys looked into each other's eyes, squinting
painfully in the acrid smoke. The flames crackled and roared in their ears.
The strained, terror-stricken look passed from Grafton's face. His eyes
lighted and he even smiled a little.

"Come on," he said simply.

"Wait!" Kenneth leaned down so that his face was against the spindles and
took a deep breath. There was a current of clearer air arising from the
well and, although it smarted in his lungs, it gave him relief. Grafton
followed his example. Then, for they realized that there was no time to
lose, with one accord they rushed, stooping, down the corridor into the
face of the flames.

Mr. Whipple lay stretched face downward on the floor where he had fallen
when overcome by the smoke and, as is more than likely, his terror. He was
in his night clothes and one hand grasped a small satchel. Behind him the
floor was afire scarcely a yard away. The thirty feet from the stairs to
where he lay seemed as many yards to the rescuers, and the heat grew
fiercer at every step. But they gained the goal, fighting for breath,
bending their heads against the savage onslaughts of the flames, and seized
the instructor's arms. Whether he was alive there was no time to ascertain.
There was time for nothing save to strive to drag him toward the stairway.
With tightly closed eyes, from which the smarting tears rolled down their
faces, and sobbing breaths, they struggled back.

But if it had been hard going it was trebly hard returning. The instructor
was not a large man nor a heavy one, but now he seemed to weigh tons. Their
feet slipped on the plaster-sprinkled boards and their hearts hammered in
their throats. Ten feet they made; and then, as though angry at being
deprived of their prey, the flames burst with a sudden roar through the
melting partition a few feet behind them and strove to conquer them with a
scorching breath. Kenneth staggered to his knees under its fury and Grafton
gave a cry of anguish and despair. But the fiery wave receded and they
struggled desperately on, fighting now for their own lives as well as for
that of the instructor.

Ten feet more and the worst was passed. A frenzied rush for the stairway
and safety was in sight. Half falling, half stumbling, they went down the
first few steps to the landing at the turn, Mr. Whipple's inert body
thumping along between them. There, with faces held close to the boards,
they lay drinking in grateful breaths of the smoke-poisoned air, which,
after what they had been inhaling, was fresh and sweet.

Then, above the booming of the fire, voices reached them, hoarse, anxious
voices, and white faces peered up at them through the smoke from the
corridor below.

"All right!" called Kenneth, but, to his surprise, his words were only
hoarse whispers. Struggling to his knees, he seized Mr. Whipple's arm and
strove to go on. But Grafton offered no assistance. He lay motionless where
he had thrown himself on the landing.

"Come on!" croaked Kenneth impatiently, and tugged at his double burden.
Then the crimson light went suddenly out and he subsided limply against the
banisters just as the rescuers dashed up to them.

When Kenneth came to a few minutes later he was being carried across the
campus. Near at hand a fire engine throbbed and roared, sending showers of
sparks into the winter darkness. Behind him a red glare threw long moving
shadows across the grass. In his ears were shouts and commands and a shrill
whistling. Then he lost consciousness again.




VI


Kenneth lay in bed in Dr. Randall's spare chamber. His left hand was
bandaged and a wet cloth lay across his closed eyes. A window was open and
the lowered shade billowed softly up and down, letting into the darkened
room quick splashes of sunlight. From without came the cheerful patter of
melting snow upon the sill.

Kenneth had had his breakfast--how long ago he could not say, since he had
slept since then--and had learned all the exciting news; that Lower House
was so badly burned that there was no question of repairing it; that Mr.
Whipple had been sent to the hospital at Lynnminster, seriously but not
dangerously hurt; that Grafton Hyde had received no damage and was about
this forenoon wearing a strangely blank expression due to the loss of his
eyebrows; and that King, to whose disregard of the rules the fire had been
due, had, previous rumors to the contrary, escaped unharmed.

Kenneth's informant had been the school doctor, who had also imparted the
information that Kenneth's injuries were trifling, a couple of scorched
fingers and a pair of badly inflamed eyes, but that nevertheless he would
kindly spend the day in bed, "as heroes are scarce these days and must be
well looked after when found."

There came a soft tapping at the door and Kenneth peeked eagerly out from
under the bandage as Grafton Hyde entered and tiptoed across the floor.
Kenneth looked for a moment and grinned; then he chuckled; then he threw an
arm across his face and gave way to laughter unrestrained. Grafton laughed,
too, though somewhat ruefully.

"Don't I look like a fool?" he asked.

Kenneth regained his composure with a gasp.

"I--I didn't mean to be rude," he said contritely, "but--"

"Oh, I don't mind," answered Grafton. "Besides, I'll bet you're the same
way."

"Me?" Kenneth looked startled and passed a finger questioningly across his
eyebrows. "There's nothing here!" he gasped. Off came the bandage. "How do
I look?"

A smile started at Grafton's lips and slowly overspread his face. Kenneth
smiled back.

"We must be a pair of freaks," he said, chuckling. "Do they ever grow back
again?"

"Yes, in no time," answered Grafton. "Besides, Joe says that all you have
to do is to take a pencil and rub it over and no one can tell. I'm going to
try it." He sat down cautiously on the edge of the bed. "How are you
feeling!" he asked.

"All right. Kind of tired, though. How about you?"

"Fine." There was a silence during which he played nervously with a shoe
strap. At last:

"I say, Garwood," he blurted, "it's--it's all right about--about that, you
know. I told President Randall."

"You needn't have," muttered Kenneth.

"I wanted to! And I'm sorry. It was a sneaky thing that I did to you. I--I
don't know why I cared so much about staying on the team; I don't now."

"Did he--was he mad about it?"

"Wasn't he! I am to be suspended for a month."

"I'm sorry," said Kenneth honestly. "It--it was decent of you to tell."

"Decent nothing! It was decent of you not to blow on me the other day. Why
didn't you?" he asked curiously.

"Oh, I don't know," answered Kenneth embarrassedly. "I--I didn't like to, I
suppose. When are you going?"

"This afternoon. That's why I came to see you now, I wanted to--to tell you
that I was sorry about it and see if you wouldn't be friends."

"That's all right," said Kenneth. "I--I'm glad you came."

Had they been older they would have shaken hands. As it was they merely
avoided looking at each other and maintained an embarrassed silence for a
moment. It amounted to the same thing.

The silence was broken by a knock on the door.

"Come!" called Kenneth.

"Look at the heroes having a convention," said Joe gayly as he crossed the
floor. "The Society of the Singed Cats! Well, how are you feeling, chum?"

"Fine and dandy," answered Kenneth.

"Good! Say, we had lots of fun last night! They bunked us in with the Upper
House fellows, and maybe there wasn't a circus! Every time we see King we
ask him if it's hot enough for him! I wouldn't be surprised if he folded
his pyjamas like the Arabs--that's all he saved, you know--and as silently
stole away. We've sure got him worried!" He paused and looked inquiringly
from Kenneth to Grafton. "Did Graft tell you?" he asked.

Kenneth nodded.

"I always told you he wasn't a bad sort, didn't I? Don't you care, Graft;
we'll keep a place warm for you, and a month is just a nice vacation.
Wouldn't mind it myself! Say, are you going to be fit to play in Saturday's
game, Kenneth?"

"I don't know. Will they let me?"

"Why not? They haven't anything against you now, have they? How about your
blessed eyes?"

"Oh, they'll be all right, I guess. But I wish--Graft was going to play."

"Oh, I don't care," declared that youth stoutly. "Go in and give 'em fits,
Kenneth. And--one of you fellows might write me about the game," he added
wistfully.

"We'll do it," said Joe. "We'll write a full account and send diagrams of
the broken heads of the Uppers. Only thing I'm afraid of," he added
soberly, "is that now that Kenneth hasn't any eyebrows they may take his
head for the ball!" Kenneth was up the next day feeling as fit as ever, but
when the subject of returning to basketball practice was broached to the
doctor, Kenneth met with disappointment.

"I can't allow it," said the doctor kindly but firmly. "I'm sorry, but you
know we're responsible for you while you're here, my boy, and I think you'd
better keep away from violent exercise for a week or two. No, no more
basket ball this year."

The verdict brought gloom to Lower House, or, as Upper facetiously called
them now, the Homeless Ones. For with Grafton gone and Kenneth out of the
game the team's plight was desperate. But there was no help for it, and so
Jim Marble went to work to patch up the team as best he might, putting
Simms back at guard and placing Niles, a substitute, at right forward.

The Homeless Ones were quartered wherever space could be found for them.
Joe and Kenneth were so fortunate as to get together again in an improvised
bedroom, which had previously been a disused recitation room, at the top of
School Hall. Most of the Lower House residents had saved their principal
effects and those who had lost their clothing were reimbursed by the
school.

Friday morning two announcements of much interest were made.

"On Monday next," said the doctor, "we receive a new member into the
Faculty, Mr. George Howell Fair. Mr. Fair, who is a graduate of Princeton,
will take the place left vacant by the resignation of Mr. Whipple, who was
so unfortunately injured in the recent disaster. Mr. Fair will take up Mr.
Whipple's work where that gentleman left off."

There was a stir throughout chapel, and murmurs of satisfaction. The doctor
picked up another slip of paper, cast his eyes over it and cleared his
throat.

"You will also be pleased to learn," he said, "that in our time of
tribulation generous friends have come to our assistance. We have lost one
of our buildings, but money has already been provided for the erection of a
new and far more suitable one. I have received from Mr. John Garwood, of
Cleveland, and Mr. Peter L. Hyde, of Chicago, a draft for the sum of one
hundred thousand dollars for the erection of a large dormitory capable of
housing the entire student body. The generous gift seems to me especially,
singularly appropriate, coming as it does from the fathers of those two
students who recently so bravely distinguished themselves. With this
thought in mind the Faculty has already decided that the new dormitory when
completed shall be known as Garwood-Hyde Hall."

Well, Kenneth's secret was out! I hope and believe that his fellows held
him in no higher esteem because they found out that he was the son of one
of the country's wealthiest men. But true it is that for the next few days
he was the object of violent interest not altogether unmixed with awe.

But Joe had to have everything explained, and as the shortest means to that
result Kenneth produced a letter which he had received from his father the
day before and gave it to Joe to read. Only portions of it interest us,
however.

"The newspaper account" (ran the letter) "says that neither of you
sustained serious injuries. I trust that it is so. But I think I had better
satisfy myself on that point, and so you may look for me at the school on
Saturday next. Your mother is anxious to have you come home, but I tell her
that a little thing like pulling a professor out of the fire isn't likely
to feaze a Garwood!

"Now, another thing. You recollect that when you decided to go to Hilltop
we talked it over and thought it best to keep dark the fact that you were
my son. You wanted to stand on your own merits, and I wanted you to. Then,
too, we feared that Hyde's boy, because of the misunderstanding between
Peter Hyde and myself, might try to make it uncomfortable for you. That
alarm seems now to have been groundless, since surely a boy who could do
what he did--and join you in doing it--wouldn't be likely to pick on
another. But that's of no consequence now, as it happens.

"Quite by accident I met Peter here the day after the papers published the
story of your little stunt. Well, he was so tickled about it that we shook
hands and had a 'touching reconciliation,' quite like what you see in the
plays. We talked about 'those worthless kids' of ours and it ended up with
his coming home to dinner with me. So you see you did more than save a
professor's life; you brought about a renewal of an old friendship. After
dinner we got to talking it over and decided the least we could do was to
replace that building. So I've sent your principal a draft by this mail
which will cover the cost of a good new hall. I'm giving half and Peter's
giving half. I hope you and young Hyde will be good friends, just as his
father and I are going to be hereafter. You may expect me Saturday."

"Now," cried Joe triumphantly when he had finished reading, "now I
understand about those brushes!"

"What brushes?" asked Kenneth.

"Why, the night of the fire I threw your suit case out of the window, and
when I went down to get it, it had bust open and was full of swell
silver-backed things. I thought at first I'd got some one else's bag, but I
found I hadn't. And I wondered why you hadn't had those brushes out."

"Oh," laughed Kenneth, "I thought they looked a bit too giddy!"




VII


It was Saturday night and the gymnasium was crowded. The Faculty was there
to a man, and with them, the honored guest of the evening, sat Mr. John
Garwood, trying hard to make out what all the fuss was about and looking
more often toward a bench at the side of the hall than toward the
struggling players. On the bench, one of several red-shirted players, sat
Kenneth. He was forbidden to enter the game, but there was nothing to
prevent his wearing his uniform once more and sitting with the substitutes.
But the fellows with him were not all subs. One was Simms, weary and
panting, nursing a twisted ankle which a moment before had put him out of
the game. And Upper House had suffered, too, for across the floor Carl
Jones was viewing the last of the contest from the inglorious vantage of
the side line. Upper and Lower were still shouting hoarsely and singing
doggedly. On the scoreboard the legend ran:

  Upper House 11--Lower House 11.

No wonder every fellow's heart was in his throat! It had been a contest to
stir the most sluggish blood. In spite of the absence of Grafton and
Kenneth, Lower had played a hard, fast game, and had she made a decent per
cent of her tries at goal would have been the winner at this moment. But
Jim Marble had missed almost every goal from foul, and Collier, who had
tried his hand, had been scarcely more successful. And now the score was
tied and it seemed ages agone since the timekeepers had announced one
minute to play.

The ball hovered in the middle of the floor, passed from side to side. Then
Hurd of Upper secured it, and, with a shout to Knox, sped, dribbling, down
the side line. But a red-shirted youth sprang in front of him and the two
went to the floor together, while the ball bounded into the ready hands of
Jim Marble.

"Oh, good work, Joe!" shouted Kenneth, as Joe sprang to his feet and dived
again into the play.

Jim, taking long and desperate chances, tried for a basket from near the
center of the floor and missed by a bare six inches. A groan went up from
the supporters of the Red, while Upper House sighed its relief. Then there
was a mix-up under Upper's goal and the whistle shrilled.

"Double foul!" called the referee.

A sudden stillness fell over the hall. Not a few of the players sank to the
floor where they stood, while Knox picked up the ball and advanced to the
line. Kenneth, watching with his heart in his throat, had a vague
impression of Jim Marble bending across the rail in consultation with one
of the Faculty. Then the ball rose gently from Knox's hands, arched in its
flight and came down square on the rim of the basket. For a moment it
poised there while hearts stood still. Then it toppled gently over the side
to the floor. Knox had missed!

Lower House set up a frantic chorus of triumph. If only Marble or Collier
could succeed where Knox had failed! But neither Jim nor the left guard was
going to try, it seemed. For over at the Red's bench a lithe form was
peeling off his sweater, and in a moment the cry swept the hall:

"Garwood's going to throw! Garwood! Garwood!"

"It's all right," Jim had whispered. "I asked the doc. Do your best. If you
make it we win, Garwood!"

Kenneth, his pulses far from calm, walked out on the floor and picked up
the ball. The shouting died away and the sudden stillness seemed appalling.
He toed the black streak across the boards and measured the distance to the
basket. Then, his legs astraddle, his knees slightly bent, he swung the
ball once--twice--

There was a moment of suspense, and then--

Then pandemonium broke loose! The ball dropped to the floor unheeded, but
above it the tattered meshes of the netting swayed where it had struck them
going through! It was the cleanest kind of a basket, and it won the game
and the series and the Shield for Lower House!

Kenneth, fighting off the howling fellows who would have perched him on
their shoulders, caught a glimpse of his father's amused face, and broke
for the stairway.




THE PROVING OF JERRY


"I'm awfully sorry," said Ned Gaynor earnestly, "but it isn't as though you
had been blackballed, Jerry."

"I don't see what difference it makes," replied Gerald Hutton
disconsolately. "I don't get taken in, do I?"

"No, but when a fellow's name is 'postponed' he can try again any time. If
he's blackballed, he's a goner until next year."

"Oh, well, I don't want to join the old Lyceum, anyhow," said his roommate
with a scowl.

"Yes, you do," responded Ned, "and I want you to. And I'm going to bring
your name up again just as soon as I think there's a chance of getting you
elected."

"When will that be?" asked Jerry dubiously. Ned hesitated.

"I don't just know, Jerry," he answered finally. "You see, it's like this;
the Lyceum is the only society we have here at Winthrop, and it's small,
only thirty members, you know, while there are over seventy fellows in
school this year. So of course there are lots of chaps who want to get in.
And when it comes to selecting members the society naturally tries to get
the best."

"Which means I'm not one of the best," said Jerry with a grin.

"No, it doesn't," replied his roommate. "It just means that you aren't very
well known yet; you haven't proved yourself."

"Shucks! I've been here ever since school opened in September, and I know
almost every fellow here to speak to."

"Well, but that isn't quite what I mean," replied Ned. "You--you haven't
proved yourself."

"What do you mean by 'proved myself'?" asked Jerry.

"Well, you haven't done anything to--to show what you are. I can't explain
very well, but--"

"What the dickens do you want me to do? Burn down Academy Hall or chuck one
of the Faculty in the river?" inquired Jerry sarcastically.

"Oh, you know what I mean," answered Ned a trifle impatiently. "Sooner or
later a fellow does something worth while, like getting a scholarship or
making the Eleven or the Baseball Team. Then he's proved himself. You've
been here only half a year, and, of course, yon haven't made yourself
known."

"I've done my best," replied Jerry disconsolately. "I worked like a slave
for two weeks trying to get on the Football Team, and I almost broke my
neck learning to skate well enough so I'd have a show for the Hockey Team."

"Maybe you'll make the Nine," said Ned hopefully. "I guess if you do that
there won't be any trouble about the Lyceum."

"I'll never get on the Nine while Herb Welch is captain," said Jerry with a
shake of his head. "He doesn't care for me much."

"Well, I guess that's so," answered Ned thoughtfully. "The fact is, Jerry,
it was Herb who objected to your election to the Lyceum."

"I guessed as much," Jerry replied dryly. "I knew he'd keep me out if he
could. Just as he will keep me off the Nine."

"Oh, come now, Herb isn't that bad. He's sort of rough and bossy, but he's
straight, Jerry. He was very decent at the election. He simply said--"

"I don't want to hear what he said," interrupted Jerry peevishly. "He's a
big bully. He's hated me ever since I interfered the time he was ducking
young Gordon. Gordon couldn't swim, and he was so scared that his face was
as white as that block of paper."

"Well, it was pretty cheeky for a Sophomore to lay down the law to a
Senior, you know," said Ned.

"And it was pretty mean of a Senior to haze a Freshman, wasn't it?" Jerry
demanded. "Anyhow, I spoiled his fun for him."

"And got ducked yourself," laughed the other.

"That was all right. I could swim and wasn't afraid. I was better able to
take it than young Gordon was. Ever since then Welch has had it in for me.
I dare say that if I went and licked his boots he'd let me into the Lyceum
and give me a fair show for the Nine, but I'm not going to do it. I can
play baseball, and I'd like to make the team, but if it depends on my
toadying to Welch, why, I'll stay off, that's all."

"Oh, come now, it isn't as bad as that," responded Ned. "Don't you bother.
I'll get you elected before Class Day, Jerry. Grab your skates and come on
down to the river."

"Skates!" exclaimed Jerry. "Why, you can't skate to-day. The ice is all
breaking up. Look at it!"

From the dormitory window the river was visible for a quarter of a mile as
it curved slowly to the south between Winthrop Academy and the town bridge.
It was late February, and for two days the mercury had lingered around
fifty degrees. Along the nearest shore the ice still held, but in midstream
and across by the Peterboro side the river, swollen by melting snow and
ice, flowed in a turbid, ice-strewn torrent. For a while at noon the sun
had shone, but now, at four o'clock, the clouds had gathered and the moist
air coming in at the open window of the room suggested rain.

"There's plenty of ice along this bank," answered Ned cheerfully, "and as
it may be the last chance I'll get to skate I'm going to make the most of
it. I promised Tom Thurber and Herb Welch I'd meet them at four. I must get
a move on." He closed the book before him and arose from the study table.
"You'd better come along, Jerry."

But Jerry shook his head, staring moodily out over the dreary prospect of
wet campus and slushy road. A mile away the little town of Peterboro lay
straggling along the river, the chimneys of its three or four factories
spouting thick black smoke into the heavy air. Jerry was disappointed. It
meant a good deal to win election to the Lyceum, and, in spite of what he
had told Ned, he had all along entertained a sneaking idea that he would
make it, Welch or no Welch. He wondered whether Ned couldn't have got him
in if he had tried real hard. Ned and he were very good friends, even
though they had never met until they had been roomed together in the fall,
but Jerry was a new boy still, while Ned was a Junior and had known Herb
Welch three years.

"I suppose," he thought, "Ned didn't want to offend Welch. Much he cares
whether I'm elected or not!"

"Coming?" asked Ned, pausing at the door. Jerry shook his head.

"No, I guess not. I think I'll walk over to town and get some things."

"Well, buy me half a dozen blue books, will you?" asked Ned eagerly. He
tossed a coin across and Jerry caught it deftly and dropped it into his
pocket with a nod. Ned slammed the door behind him and went clattering
downstairs. Jerry watched him emerge below, jump a miniature rivulet
flowing beside the board walk and disappear around the corner of the
dormitory. Then he got into his sweater, put his cap on, and in turn
descended the stairs.

It was a good twenty-minutes walk to the village. By keeping along the
river path to the bridge he might have saved something in time and
distance, but the river path was ankle-deep in slush and mud, while the
road, although longer, gave firmer foothold. When he reached the old wooden
bridge he paused and watched the water rushing under between the stone
pillars. He had never seen the stream so high. The surface appeared
scarcely eight feet beneath the floor of the bridge. Huge cakes of ice,
broken loose upstream, went tearing by, grinding against each other and
hurling themselves at the worn stones. And between the fragments of ice the
surface was almost covered with a layer of slush. Jerry flattened himself
against the wooden railing while a team of sweating horses, tugging a great
load of hay, went creaking by him. Then he followed it across and turned to
the right at the end of the bridge into the main street of the town.

His purchases didn't take him long, and soon he was back at the bridge
again. Upstream, on the Academy side of the river, he could see the
skaters. Apparently half the school had decided to seize this last chance
for indulging in the sport, for the long and narrow strip of ice remaining
was quite black with figures. At the end of the bridge Jerry decided to
take the river path, for a glance at his shoes and stockings convinced him
that it was no longer necessary to consider them; they were already as wet
and muddy as it was possible for them to be. He felt rather more cheerful
after his tramp, and told himself that if there was time he would run up to
the room, leave his purchases, get his skates, and join the group on the
ice. By the time he had covered half the distance between bridge and
Academy he could distinguish several of the skaters. There was Morris, with
his blue sweater, and the tall fellow was, of course, Jim Kennedy; and
there was Burns, and young Gordon; Gordon, even if he couldn't swim, was a
dandy skater.

"Only," thought Jerry, "if he got into the river it would be a bad outlook
for him."

He had left the bridge a full quarter of a mile behind when a sudden
commotion among the skaters attracted his attention. There was a scurrying
together and the skating stopped. Jerry paused and watched intently, but
for a moment saw nothing to account for the actions of the fellows. They
were lined up along the edge of the ice in little groups. Then several of
them turned and skated frantically toward the bank. Jerry's first thought
now was that some one had fallen into the water, that the ice had given
way, as it was quite likely to do in its present half-rotten state, and he
looked anxiously for young Gordon's slight figure. He couldn't see him, but
that signified little, since the fellows were packed together and the light
was failing.

But in another instant Jerry saw that his surmise was wrong. For suddenly a
single figure came into view, a figure huddled on hands and knees a full
fifty feet away from his companions. For an instant Jerry couldn't
understand. Then the huddled figure was swept farther away toward the
opposite shore and a clear expanse of angry river showed between it and
those on the ice. One of the fellows had ventured too far, the ice had
broken away, and now he was being borne swiftly down the stream! Already
the current had swept him away from all hope of assistance from his
companions, for up there the channel ran close to the Peterboro shore. The
fragment of ice to which he clung seemed to be fairly large, perhaps ten
feet long by half that in width, but Jerry knew that the chance of its
remaining unbroken for long was very slim. If the fellows had gone for a
boat they might have saved themselves the effort, for no boat could be
managed in that seething mass of broken ice. And a rope would be quite as
useless, since the current would keep the boy along the farther shore and
no one on earth could throw a coil of rope half the distance.

Jerry had already broken into a run, but now he pulled himself up and
glanced behind him toward the bridge. He could be of no more use up there
than were the fellows grouped helplessly at the edge of the ice. If the boy
was to be rescued it must be downstream somewhere, always supposing the
cake of ice hung together and that he managed to retain his place on it.
Jerry thought rapidly with fast-beating heart. Already the boy on the ice
had covered half the distance to where Jerry stood, and the fellows up
there where the accident had happened were leaving the ice, frantically
freeing themselves from their skates and running down the path. Jerry
turned and ran back the way he had come. If he could reach the bridge first
there might be a chance!

His feet slipped in the ice and slush of the path and it was slow going.
Once he fell flat on his face, but was up again in a twinkling, wet and
bruised. A glance over his shoulder told him that the pitching, whirling
slag of ice with its human burden was gaining on him. If only he had
started before! he thought. But he ran on, sliding and tripping, his breath
coming hard and his heart pounding agonizedly against his ribs. He was
almost there now; only another hundred yards or so remained between him and
the end of the bridge. He prayed for strength to keep on as he glanced
again over his shoulder. The boy had thrown himself face down on the ice
and Jerry saw with a sinking heart that already the cake had diminished in
size. If it struck one of the stone pillars of the bridge it would go to
pieces without a doubt, and it would be a hard task for the strongest
swimmer to battle his way clear of that rushing current.

With his breath almost failing him, Jerry reached the bridge and ran out
upon it. He was none too soon. Close to the farther shore the jagged
fragment still held together as it dipped and turned, glancing from the
jutting points of the shore ice and grinding between its fellows in the
ugly green torrent. Face down lay the boy, limp, his hands outthrown beside
him. Under the bridge the river rushed with a loud rushing sound, swift and
relentless.

Jerry ran with aching limbs to the third span, toward which the current was
bearing the helpless, huddled figure. In the brief moment of time left him
Jerry noted two things. One was that those in the van of the straggling
line hurrying toward him along the river path were but a couple of hundred
yards distant. The other was that his left shoulder was aching dully. He
must, he thought, have struck on it when he fell. Then his gaze was on the
motionless form sweeping toward him, and he was leaning over the wooden
rail, his hands at his mouth.

"Stand up!" he cried with all his might.

But there was no answering movement from the boy. Jerry's heart sank, but
once more he shouted, putting, as it seemed to him, every remaining bit of
breath into his call:

"_Stand up and I'll save you_!"

The head raised and a white face gazed up at him as the narrowing current
seized the ice fragment. With a gasp of surprise Jerry looked down into the
horror-stricken eyes of Herbert Welch! Then he had thrown himself down on
the floor of the bridge, his head and shoulders over the water.

"_Stand up_!" he called again. And Welch staggered weakly to his knees, the
ice beneath him tilting perilously. Jerry's hands stretched down over the
rushing water.

"_Catch hold!_" he cried.

A momentary return of hope and courage came to Welch, and as his
treacherous craft shot, crushing and grinding, into the maelstrom, he found
his feet for a moment, and threw his arms above his head, his fingers
clutching hungrily at the empty air. Then a corner of the ice fragment
struck against the left-hand pillar and he lost his balance. But in that
brief moment Jerry's left hand had grasped one of Welch's wrists, and now
the latter hung between bridge and water, swinging slowly and limply. Then
Jerry's right hand found a hold below his left, and he set his teeth and
closed his eyes, praying, as he had done before on the river path, for
strength and endurance. The strain was terrible. He felt the blood rushing
to his head and throbbing there mightily.

His left shoulder hurt worse every moment. But he could hold on a moment
longer. Surely the others would be here in just a second. He thought he
heard cries, but the roar of the water beneath and the throbbing in his
head made it uncertain. Then he heard a voice. It was Herb Welch speaking.

"Let me go, Hutton," said Welch quietly. "You can't hold me here."

Jerry tried to answer, but the pressure against his chest was too severe.
His left hand began to slip from Welch's wrist; the fingers wouldn't hold;
there was a strange numbness from hand to shoulder. With a smothered groan
he tried to tighten his clasp again. Then help came. Eager hands took his
burden, and he felt himself being pulled back from the edge. He glanced up
once and had a glimpse of somber twilight sky and Ned's brown eyes....

When he opened his eyes again he was lying on a couch in a cottage at the
edge of the village. There were several figures about him, and one was
Ned's. He smiled and tried to rise, but was glad to lay back again and look
curiously at his bandaged shoulder.

"It's only a busted collarbone," said Ned. "Doctor says it will be all
right in two or three weeks. We're going to take you back in a minute. The
carriage is coming now."

"That's nice," said Jerry drowsily. "How's Welch?"

"Not hurt a bit. He walked home. And say, Jerry," Ned went on, dropping his
voice, "it's all right about the Lyceum. Herb says he's going to bring your
name up himself at the next meeting. You--you proved yourself to-day, old
chum!"






McTURKLE, THE BAND


We had had hard luck at Harvard all that fall. First Phinney, our 208-pound
left guard, dislocated his shoulder in the Indian game; then Hobb, full
back, got a swat on the head that sent him to the Infirmary for two weeks;
then Jones, our best half, hurt his leg. Those were the principal troubles,
but there were lots of smaller ones besides. Every team that came to
Cambridge did something to us; if they didn't beat us they scored; if they
didn't score they laid up one or two of our men just to show that there was
no hard feeling. Then Penn rubbed it into us good and hard--which wasn't
the way it was written--and about half the college began writing letters to
the _Crimson_.

To make matters look worse, Yale had the best team she had had in several
years; in fact, since the Gordon Browne aggregation. And our chance of
winning from her was about one in one hundred. But we were a daffy lot that
fall, and every time fate smote us we grinned harder and hitched up the
enthusiasm another peg. On the Thursday before the game we had our fourth
mass meeting in the Union. The captain, very much embarrassed, assured us
that every man on the team was ready to do his level best and lay down his
life for the honor of the Crimson--a fact which we knew before, but which
we applauded wildly. Then the trainer told us that every "mon on the tame"
was in the best physical condition, something which we seriously doubted,
but which we also applauded wildly. Then the head coach informed us that it
was a great sight to see the college get together in this way and that if
we stood loyally behind the team on Saturday the team would do its part and
fight to the last breath--or ditch, I forget which. We applauded _that_
more wildly. Then the captain of the Nine got up, brushed the perspiration
from his marble brow, and started the singing. The University Band, eleven
strong, got together after a fashion and we pretty near lifted the roof.
After that we cheered and sung some more and the enthusiasm kept on
bubbling up. Finally, a lot of us in the back of the room yelled in unison:

"We--want--another--meeting--to-morrow-night!"

"So-do-we!" yelled the others.

And we kept that up until the leader told us we could have it. And
presently we stood up and sang "Fair Harvard"--or as much as we knew of
it--and broke up.

In the morning the _Crimson_ contained a notice which said that there would
be no meeting that night. But we didn't believe it, because the meeting had
been agreed upon. At least, a good many of us didn't. Some did, though, I
guess, for at eight the room wasn't more than half full. We sat there and
waited a while and did a little singing and cheering. But no one got on the
platform to talk to us, and the band didn't show up. So about a quarter to
nine we moseyed outside. But we were still full of enthusiasm, and we
wanted to work it off. So we stood around, about eight hundred of us, and
informed the world at large that we wanted the band. No one seemed to care.
But, of course, every minute the crowd got bigger, just as it always will
if you get out and yell something. After a bit we decided to do without the
band, and so we formed in fours and marched over to the yard, singing and
cheering like mad.

After we'd marched around twice we had depopulated the buildings. Fellows
put their heads out of windows, had a look, yelled enthusiastically, turned
the gas up high, and tumbled downstairs and into line. By a quarter past
nine we had easily two thousand fellows in the procession. And when you get
that many together something simply _has_ to happen.

"What we need," said Bud, "is a band."

"But we can't get one," answered Withey.

"Then let's get part of a band."

"Where?"

"McTurkle," answered Bud, with a grin.

"A-a-aye!" we yelled. "McTurkle! We want McTurkle!"

So we left the gang yelling themselves hoarse in front of the university
and scooted over to our dormitory. McTurkle was in. He was sitting at his
table with a green drop light casting a wan glow over his classic features.
The table was piled high with all sorts of books, and you could just hear
McTurkle's wheels go round. When we walked in he slipped the glasses from
his nose by wriggling his eyebrows and turned around and looked at us
blinking.

McTurkle was a funny genius. He was forever grinding. When he wasn't
grinding he was causing strange, painful sounds to emanate from his room.
For a good while we had puzzled over those sounds. Then, finally, one
fateful night, we had descended upon McTurkle in force and learned the
truth. McTurkle performed on the French horn. A French horn is an
instrument which is wound up in a knot like a morning-glory vine, and the
notes have such a hard time getting out that they get all balled up and
confused and are never the same afterwards. I'm not musical, and don't
pretend to be, but I'll bet a hat that the man who invented the French horn
was the same chap who invented French verbs. Well, we made McTurkle take a
solemn oath never to practice after seven o'clock, because it was simply
impossible to remember anything with those sounds sobbing along the entry.
He was frightfully apologetic and promised at once.

When we went in Bud winked at us to leave the negotiations in his hands. We
did so, drawing up in a semicircle behind him and looking very grave.

"McTurkle," said Bud, "we have come to you on behalf of the university."

McTurkle blinked harder than ever and looked a bit scared.

"Out there"--Bud waved his hand toward the window--"out there our
college--your college--the college we all love awaits you."

McTurkle gasped and tried to find his glasses, which were hanging over the
back of his chair at the end of a black cord which he wore around his neck.

"McTurkle," continued Bud, tensely, "as you know, we are on the eve of a
great conflict. Tomorrow the pick of our athletic young manhood does battle
with the brawny horde of Yale. Defeat looms ominous above--upon the
horizon, but the unconquerable spirit of Harvard arises triumphant
and--er--flaps its flaming pinions!"

"A-a-aye!" murmured Withey.

McTurkle found his glasses, fixed them on his lean nose, and regarded Bud
with genuine alarm.

"Not for a moment do we acknowledge defeat, sir! Not until the pall of
evening settles over the trampled field of battle shall we abandon hope.
The university stands firm and undismayed behind her loyal warriors.
Listen, McTurkey--McTurkle, I mean!"

Bud held up a hand imperiously and we all listened, McTurkle with his mouth
wide open and his near-sighted eyes fixed in fascination upon the speaker's
face. From outside came a long, impatient wail from two thousand throats:

"We-want-to-go-to-the-Stadium!"

"What of that, McTurkle!" demanded Bud, sternly. "The spirit of Harvard
speaks! Her sons demand to be led to the scene of the conflict that with
mighty voices they may--er--consecrate the field to victory!"

"But--but--what is it you wish me to do?" stammered the dazed McTurkle,
visibly affected.

"To lead them!" thundered Bud.

"Lead them?" cried McTurkle. "Who? Me? Me--ah--lead?"

"Ah! You, McTurkle! You, with your French horn!"

"You--you want me to play it?"

"We do. The college calls for you. Your duty, McTurkle, your duty to that
college, to your fellows, summons you. Listen, McTurkle, to the voice of
Duty and Patriotism!"

Apparently McTurkle's manner of listening was to hold his mouth open. He
held it open now, wide open. Also his eyes. At last he said:

"But--but--I'm afraid I don't know any of the--ah--the college airs."

"What of that! It is your leadership we want; that and the inspiring
strains of your dulcet horn. Play what you will, McTurkle, only play.
Remember that the success of the team may depend upon you! That to-night it
is our duty and pleasure to show the team that the whole college is behind
them, eager and loyal in its support!"

Never before in three years of college life had any one ever wanted
McTurkle to do anything. And now the knowledge that the whole university
demanded his aid, his leadership, was too much for McTurkle. His face
glowed; he leaped to his feet; a Greek lexicon crashed to the floor;
McTurkle was transformed.

"I'll go!" he said, with majestic simplicity.

We cheered.

McTurkle feverishly wrested his French horn from its green bag, settled his
glasses upon his aquiline nose, turned up the collar of his plaid lounging
coat, and strode to the door.

We followed in triumph.

Over in front of the university they had cheered every one and everything,
and now they were forming again into line of march.

"On to Soldier's Field!" they cried.

We hurried across to the head of the procession, McTurkle's long legs
making us work hard to keep up with him. Arrived, Bud waved an arm for
silence.

"Fellows!" he shouted. "Fellows!"

And when silence had fallen about us he swept his hand dramatically toward
McTurkle.

"Gentlemen," he cried, "the band!"

"A-a-a-aye!" they cheered. "Band! band!"

"Where's the band?" called those further down the line, and the news
traveled fast until from far down by Thayer came wild paeans of delight.

"Where'd they get it? ... Where is it? ... We want 'On Soldier's
Field'! ... We want 'Veritas'! ... Strike up! Move on, there! ...
'Ray for the band! ... A-a-a-aye! Band! band!"

Up at the head of the line we were all laughing and shouting for fair.
McTurkle, beaming delightedly through his glasses, his head held back
inspiritingly and the folds of his plaid jacket waving in the November
wind, placed the French horn to his lips, took a mighty breath and--the
procession moved forward to the strains of "Annie Laurie!"

Now, I've heard since then that the French horn has a compass of only four
octaves and is principally useful as an orchestral adjunct; that, in short,
its ability is limited and its use as a solo instrument slight. All I can
say is that the person who said that doesn't know a French horn; anyway, he
doesn't know McTurkle's French horn. Four octaves be blowed! McTurkle went
fourteen, or I'll eat my hat! Why, the way he put that thing through its
paces was a caution! And as for--er--variations and such!--well, you ought
to have heard him, that's all I've got to say!

Out into the avenue we turned, through the Square and down Boylston Street.
The line was so long that the cars were held up for ten minutes, and Bud
was for circling back and holding them up ten minutes more. And all the
while McTurkle, thin, gaunt, but impressive, marched at the head and
informed us startlingly and with convincing emphasis that for Bonnie Annie
Laurie he'd lay him down and dee. And we took up the refrain, and hurled it
back to the gray November sky. Further along they were singing, "Hard luck
for poor old Eli," and still further down the line they were informing the
dark front of the post office that the sun would set in Crimson as the sun
had set before. And way, way back they were cheering like Sam Hill.

Oh, that was a glorious night! Talk about enthusiasm! We had it and to
burn. We exuded it at every step. Enthusiasm was a drug on the market. Down
by the river McTurkle gave Annie Laurie her final death blow and started in
on the overture to "Martha." That carried us as far as the Locker Building,
and we marched on to Soldiers' Field to the inspiriting strains of a
selection from "Traviata." McTurkle told me what they were afterwards;
that's how I know. Around the gridiron we marched once, the band still
clinging to "Traviata" and the fellows singing whatever pleased them,
generally "Up the Street." Then we had a snake dance, a wonder of a snake
dance! The band got lost in the shuffle, but later on we found him standing
serene and undismayed under the shadow of the west stand spouting "Auld
Lang Syne" till you couldn't see.

Then Bud climbed up on to the edge of the Stadium and we did some more
cheering, and when he called for "a regular cheer for the band" the way we
hit it up was a caution.

Back in the Square, Bud led us over in front of the "Coop," mainly, I
guess, so we would stop the cars for a while. We had some more cheering
then, and then Bud leaped up on the steps and announced "Speech by
McTurkle!"

Nobody except a few of us knew who McTurkle was, but everyone cheered
gloriously. We conducted McTurkle gently but firmly up the steps, and when
the crowd got a good look at him they simply went crazy. McTurkle was
deeply affected. So was the crowd.

"Speech! speech!" they yelled. "Spe-e-eech!" McTurkle, embarrassed but
courageous, his voice faint and tremulous with emotion, spoke.

"Gentlemen," he began.

"Apologize! ... Take it back! ... Who is he? ... It's the band! ... 'Ray
for the band! ... Go on! Say it!"

"Fellows," prompted Bud.

"Fellows," repeated McTurkle.

Deafening applause.

"I wish to thank you for this--ah--this flattering evidence of--shall I say
esteem?"

"Don't say it if it hurts you, old man," some one advised.

"What's he talking about?" asked another.

"I appreciate the honor you have done me," continued McTurkle, warming to
his work. "And it has been a pleasure, a great pleasure, as well as a
privilege, to lead you this evening in your interesting--ah--exercises."

"A-a-a-aye!" yelled the audience.

"There is to be, I understand," said McTurkle, "a game to-morrow, a contest
between this college and--ah--Yale."

Laughter and deafening applause.

"While lack of opportunity has kept me from a personal participation in
your games and sports, yet I am heartily in sympathy with them. Physical
exercise is, I am convinced, of great benefit. In conclusion let me say
that I trust that in tomorrow's game of baseball--"

"Football, you blamed fool!" whispered Bud, hoarsely.

"Ah--I should say football--the mantle of victory will fall upon the
shoulders of our--ah--representatives. I thank you."

McTurkle bowed with gentle dignity.

"What's his name?" cried a chap below.

"McTurkle," answered Bud.

"Wha-a-at?"

"McTurkle!"

"Cheer for McTurkey!" demanded the questioner.

"A-a-aye!" cried the throng.

Bud leaped to the top step.

"Regular cheer, fellows, for McTurkle!" he cried. And it came.

"Har-_vard!_ Har-_vard!_ Har-_vard!_ Rah, rah, rah! Rah, rah, rah! Rah,
rah, rah! The Turkey! The Turkey! The Turkey!"

Then we went home.

I suppose this isn't much of a story, especially as there is no climax; and
I've taken enough English to know that there ought to be some sort of a
climax somewhere. Maybe, though, what happened next day will serve for one.

I got halfway over to the field and found I had forgotten my ticket, and
had to go back to the room for it. McTurkle's door was ajar and through it
came those awful sounds. I kicked it open and stuck my head in.

"Hello," I said. "Do you know what time it is? You'll be late."

McTurkle took the French horn from his face and wiped the mouthpiece gently
with a silk handkerchief.

"Late?" he asked.

"Yes, for the game. You're going, of course, McTurkle?"

He shook his head, beaming affably through his glasses.

"No, no, I'm not going to attend the--ah--game." He waved a hand toward the
book-covered table. "I shall be quite busy this afternoon, quite busy. But
you have my--my best wishes. May the--ah--the mantle of victory fall upon
the shoulders--"

Well, we got licked that day. But, say, honest now, it wasn't McTurkle's
fault, was it?




THE TRIUMPH OF "CURLY"


"Curly" sat with head in hands, elbows on desk, and eyes fixed unseeingly
on the half-opened door. The afternoon sunlight made golden shafts across
the rows of empty seats. The windows were open, and with the sunlight came
the songs of birds, the incessant hum of insects, and occasionally a quick,
rattling cheer.

On the playground, under the bluest of blue skies, with a fresh,
clover-perfumed breeze fanning their dripping brows, the boys of Willard's
School were playing the third and deciding game of baseball with the nine
of Durham Academy. But Curly neither heard the cheering nor had thought for
the contest.

Curly's real name was Isaac Newton Stone. He had taken the "A.M." degree
the preceding June at a Western university, and had entered his name in the
long list of those wishing to be teachers.

As the summer had advanced his hope had waned. September found him without
a position. During the fall and early winter he waited with what philosophy
he could summon, and had studied doggedly, having in view the attainment of
a Ph. D.

Then, in February, an unforeseen vacancy at Willard's School had given him
his place as instructor in Greek and German.

It is a matter of principle at Willard's to haze new teachers. No exception
was made in the case of Isaac Newton Stone, A. M.

He was twenty-three years old, but looked several years younger. He was
small, slight and wiry, with pale blue eyes, a tip-tilted nose and a fresh
pink-and-white complexion. His hair was of an indeterminate shade between
brown and sand-color, and it curled closely over his head like a baby's.
Three days after his advent at Willard's he had become universally known as
Curly.

Former teachers at Willard's, with experience to guide them, had tolerated
the hazing process, if not with enjoyment, at least with apparent good
humor. But Curly, a novice, thought he saw his authority endangered, his
dignity assailed. The ringleaders in the affair, five in number, were
placed upon probation in exactly two seconds.

The class gasped. Such a thing had never happened before. The hazing died a
violent death, and Curly sprang into sudden fame as a tyrant.

The role of iron-heeled despot was least of all suited to Curly or desired
by him, but having momentarily adopted it, he had to continue it. He dared
not take the frown from his face for a moment; intimidation was his only
course.

Meanwhile the faculty viewed events with dissatisfaction. Once or twice
Curly's punishments were not upheld. In May he was informed that unless he
could maintain discipline without such severity the faculty would be forced
to the painful necessity of asking his resignation. His election, the
principal explained kindly, had been in the nature of an experiment, and
unsuccessful experiments must of course be terminated.

The experiment was unsuccessful. It was June now, and class day was but two
weeks distant. This morning there had been trouble in the German class, and
as a result, two students had been placed on probation. The fact that one
of them, Rogers, was the best pitcher in school, and that the loss of his
services would in all likelihood mean the defeat of Willard's nine in this
decisive game was most unfortunate. To be sure, Rogers had merited his
punishment, but the school failed to consider that, and indignation ran
high.

Curly himself, seated in the silent class room, acknowledged failure at
last. He looked at his watch. It was quarter past three. With a sigh he
drew paper toward him, dipped pen in ink and began to write.

The letter was brief, yet it took him nearly ten minutes. When at last it
was finished, lacking only the signature, he read it over. He had made no
attempt at explanation or extenuation, but had thanked the faculty for
their kindness and patience, regretted their disappointment, and begged
them to accept his resignation. He subscribed himself "Respectfully yours,
Isaac Newton Stone," sealed the letter and addressed it to the principal.

This done, he gathered his books, took up his hat and stepped from the
platform. Footsteps sounded in the echoing corridor, and a flushed,
perspiring face peered into the room. Then a boy of sixteen hurried up the
aisle.

"Mr. Stone, sir," he cried, "will you help us? It's the beginning of the
sixth inning, and the score's eight to six in our favor. They've knocked
Willings out of the box, sir, and we haven't anyone else. Apthorpe's cousin
says you can pitch, and--and we want to know if you won't play for us,
sir?" He ended with a gasp for breath.

"But--I don't quite understand!"

"Why, sir, we held 'em down until the fifth, and then they made six runs.
Maybe they've scored some more. If you could only come right away!"

"But who said I could pitch, Turner?"

"Tom Apthorpe's cousin, sir; he's down for Sunday."

"But how did he know?"

"Why, sir, he knew you at college, and--"

"What's his name?"

"Harris, sir. He said--"

"Jack Harris!" The instructor's eyes lighted. He tossed the books on the
desk. "Run back and tell them I'll come as soon as I leave this note at Dr.
Willard's."

There came a cheer from the playground. It was not a Willard cheer.

Turner listened dismayed. "Couldn't you come now, sir?" he begged. "It may
be too late. They're batting like anything. Couldn't you leave the note
afterwards, sir!"

"Well, may be I could," said Curly. He dropped it into his pocket, put on
his hat and strode down the aisle. "Come on, Turner!" he cried.

Along the terrace of the playground, under the elms, were gathered the
spectators--the boys of both schools and their friends. At the foot of the
terrace, just back of first base, a striped awning warded off the sunlight
from a little group of professors and their families. On the field the
blue-stockinged players of Willard's were scattered about, and on a bench
behind third base a row of boys wearing the red of Durham Academy awaited
their turns at bat. This much Curly saw as he crossed the terrace.

Then a tall, broad-shouldered man came toward him with a pleasant smile and
outstretched hand. Curly recognized Harris, and sprang down the steps to
meet him. At college they had been hardly more than acquaintances, yet
to-day they met almost like fast friends.

"I never thought to find you in this part of the world, Stone," said
Harris. "I'm awfully glad to see you again. You're badly needed. Tom
Apthorpe, my cousin, was bewailing the fact that he hadn't anyone to pitch.
I saw that Durham was playing her professor of mathematics on first base,
and asked him if there wasn't anyone in the faculty who could take
Willings's place. Willings is used up, as you can see. Tom said there was
no one unless "--Harris paused and grinned--"unless it was Curly. He didn't
know whether you could play or not. Inquiries elicited the astounding fact
that 'Curly' was none other than Newt Stone, pitcher and star batsman on
our old class nine. I told him to hurry up and get you out. And so, for
goodness' sake, Stone, get into the box and strike out some of those boys
from Durham! The score's eight to eight now, and if they get that man on
second in they'll have a good grip on the game and championship."

"I'm afraid I'm all out of practice," objected Curly. "I haven't handled a
ball for two years, but I'll do what I can. I wish you'd come round to my
room afterwards and have a talk, if you've nothing better to do."

Time had been called, and Apthorpe, who was both captain and catcher, ran
across to them.

"It's good of you, Mr. Stone," he said, wiping the perspiration from his
face. "I don't think we fellows have much right to ask you to help us out,
but if you'll do it for the school, sir, everyone will be mighty glad."

"For the school!" Curly wondered rather bitterly what the school had done
for him that he should come to her rescue. But he only answered gravely:

"I'll do what I can, Apthorpe."

He threw aside his coat and waistcoat and tightened his belt. Then he
walked across the diamond and picked the ball from the ground.

On the terrace bank a boy armed with a blue and white flag jumped to his
feet, and amidst a ripple of clapping from the audience above, called for
"three times three for Curl--for Mr. Stone!" There was a burst of laughter,
but the cheer that followed was hearty.

The batsman stepped out of the box and Curly delivered half a dozen balls
to Apthorpe to get his hand in. Then the two met and agreed on a few simple
signals, the umpire called, "Play!" and the game went on again.

It was the first half of the sixth inning; the score was eight to eight;
there was one man out, a runner on second, and Durham's left fielder at
bat.

Curly looked over the field, glanced carelessly at the runner, turned, and
sent a swift, straight ball over the plate. Durham's players were eager for
just that sort, and the batsman made a long, clean hit into the outfield
between first and second.

When the new pitcher got the ball again the man on second had gone to
third, and Durham's left fielder was jumping about on first.

Durham's next man up was her catcher. Curly strove to wipe out the
intervening two years and to imagine himself back at college, pitching for
his class in the final championship game. But alas! his arm was stiff and
muscle-bound, and creaked in the socket every time he threw.

There was a wild pitch that was just saved from being a passed ball by a
brilliant stop of Apthorpe's; then the batsman hit an infield fly and was
caught out.

"Two gone, fellows!" shouted the captain.

The runner on first took second unmolested, and the Durham coaches yelled
themselves hoarse. But Curly was not to be rattled in that way; and
besides, the stiffness was wearing out of his arm. He set his lips together
and pitched the ball.

"Strike!" cried the umpire. Willard's cheered vociferously. Then came a
ball. Then another strike. Then the batter swung with all his might at a
slow, curving ball--and missed it.

"Striker's out!" called the umpire.

Willard's rose as one man and cheered to the echo. In the tent the
principal and his associates forgot their dignity for an instant, and added
their shouts to the general acclaim. The new pitcher, his eyes sparkling,
retired to the bench.

The fielders, as they joined him, shot curious and admiring glances toward
him. Harris leaned over the bench and talked with him about the incidents
of old college games. And the boys near by listened, while the curly-haired
instructor grew before their eyes into an athletic hero.

The last of the sixth inning ended without a score. Pretty as it was to
watch, the first of the seventh would make tame history. Not a Durham
player reached first base. One--two--three was the way they struck out.

Curly's arm worked now like a well-lubricated piece of machinery, and the
outshoots and incurves and drops which he sent with varying speed into
Apthorpe's hands puzzled the enemy to distraction.

Nor was the second half of the inning much more exciting. To be sure,
Apthorpe put a fly where the Durham right fielder could not reach it, and
so got to first base, and Riding advanced him by a neat sacrifice; but he
had no chance to score.

Durham's best hitter was Mansfield, the instructor, who played first base.
Just when or how the peculiar custom of recruiting baseball and football
players from the faculty originated at Willard's and Durham is not known;
but it was a privilege that each enjoyed and made use of whenever possible.

This year, for almost the first time, Willard's team had been, until
to-day, composed entirely of students. On the other hand, Mansfield had
been playing with Durham all spring, and to his excellent fielding and
hitting was largely due the fact that she had won the second of the three
games.

He was a player of much experience, and in the eighth inning, when he came
to bat, he made a three-base hit. The little knot of Durhamites shrieked
joyfully and waved their cherry-and-white banners.

Curly faced the next batsman, tried him with a "drop," at which he promptly
struck and failed to hit, and then gave his attention to Mansfield on
third. Curly watched him out of the corner of his eye and pitched again.
The umpire called another strike.

Apthorpe threw back the ball to the pitcher; Curly dropped it, recovered
it, and threw swiftly to third base.

Large bodies move slowly. Mansfield was caught a yard from the base. He
retired in chagrin, while Willard's cheered ecstatically. Then the batsman
struck out on a slow drop ball.

The third man made a leisurely hit and was thrown out at first.

During the next half inning Curly held his court on the players' bench.
Little by little timidity wore away, and the boys gave voice to their
enthusiasm. They wished they had known he was such a ball player early in
the spring. Next year he would play on the team, would he not?

Curly remembered the letter in his pocket and sighed.

Again Willard's failed to get a man over the plate, although at one time
there was a player on third. The ninth inning began with the score still
eight to eight. The spectators suggested ten innings, and fell to recalling
former long-drawn contests.

Curly had found his pace, as Harris put it. His white shirt was stained
with the dust of battle; his shoes were gray and scuffed; his curly locks
were damp and clung to his forehead; but his blue eyes were bright, and as
he poised the ball in air, balancing himself before the throw, he no longer
looked ridiculous.

Harris, observing him from the bench, rendered ungrudging admiration.

"Good old 'Newt' Stone!" he muttered. "It's the little chaps, after all,
who have the pluck!"

But pluck alone would not have succeeded in shutting Durham out in that
inning. Science was necessary, and science Curly had. He had not forgotten
the old knack of "sizing up" the batsman. He found, in fact, that he had
forgotten nothing.

Durham made the supreme effort of the contest in that first half of the
ninth inning. It might be the last chance to score. The first man struck
out as ingloriously as his predecessors; but the second batsman, after
knocking innumerable fouls, made a slow bunt and reached his base.

At that Durham's supporters found encouragement, and her cheers rose once
more. Then fate threw a sop to the wearers of the cherry and white.

The third man up was struck on the elbow with the ball, and trotted
gleefully to first, the player ahead going to second. But Curly caught the
runner on first napping, and the next batsman struck out. The
blue-stockinged players came in from the field.

"Stone at bat!" called the scorer. "Brown on deck!"

"A run would do it, sir," said Apthorpe, eagerly.

"One of those old-fashioned home runs, Newt," laughed Harris.

Curly walked to the plate, and stood there, swinging the bat back of his
shoulder in a way that suggested discretion to the wearied Durham pitcher.

From the bank came encouraging cheers for "Mr. Stone." He made no offer at
the first ball, which was out of reach. Then came a strike.

The spectators fidgeted in their seats; the field was almost quiet. Then
bat and ball met with a sharp crack, and Curly sped toward first.

Across that base he sped, swung in a quick curve, and made for second. The
center fielder had picked up the ball and was about to throw it in.

It was a narrow chance, but when Curly scrambled to his feet after his
slide, the umpire dropped his hand. Curly was safe. From the bank and along
the base line came loud cheers for Willard's.

But the following batsman struck out miserably. The next attempted a
sacrifice, and not only went out himself, but failed to advance the runner.

Then Curly, seeing no help forthcoming, advanced himself, starting like a
shot with the pitcher's arm and rising safe from a cloud of dust at third.

Apthorpe went to bat, weary but determined. Curly, on third, shot back and
forth like a shuttle with every motion of the pitcher's arm. With two balls
in his favor, Apthorpe thought he saw his chance, and struck swiftly at an
outshoot.

The result--he swung through empty air--appeared to unnerve him. He struck
again at the next ball, and again missed.

But he found the next ball, and drove it swift and straight at the pitcher.

Curly was ten feet from the base when ball met bat. He stopped, poised to
go on or to scuttle back, and saw the pitcher attempt the catch, drop the
ball as if it were a red-hot cinder, and stoop for it.

Then Curly settled his chin on his breast, worked his arms like pistons and
his legs like driving shafts, and flew along the line.

Beside him scuttled a coach, shouting shrill, useless words. All about him
were cries, commands, entreaties, confused, meaningless. Ten feet from the
plate he launched himself through space, with arms outstretched. The dust
was in his eyes and nostrils.

He felt a corner of the plate. At the same instant he heard the thud of the
ball against the catcher's glove overhead, the swish of the down-swinging
arm, and----

"Safe at the plate!" cried the umpire.

At second Apthorpe was sitting on the bag, joyfully kicking his heels into
the earth. On the bench the scorer made big, trembling dots on the page.
Everywhere pandemonium reigned. The home nine had won game and
championship.

Curly jumped to his feet, dusted his bedraggled clothes, and walked into
the arms of Harris.

"The best steal you ever made!" cried Harris, thumping him on the back. As
he went to the bench he heard an excited and perspiring youth exclaim
proudly, "I have him in Greek, you know!"

Two minutes later the cherry-colored banners of Durham departed, flaunting
bravely in the face of defeat.

Willard's danced across the terrace, shouting and singing. In their
possession was a soiled and battered ball, which on the morrow would be
inscribed with the figures "9 to 8," and proudly suspended behind a glass
case in the trophy room.

Curly and Harris sat together in the former's study. Supper was over. Curly
held a sealed and addressed letter in his hands, which he turned over and
over undecidedly.

"Then--if you were in my place--under the circumstances--you--you wouldn't
hand this in?" he asked.

"Let me have it, please," said Harris, with decision. He tore the letter
across, and tossed the pieces into the waste basket.

"That's the only thing to do with that," he said. And in the successful two
years of teaching since then Curly has come to feel that Harris was quite
right.




PATSY


He made his first appearance one afternoon a week or so before the Fall
Handicap Meeting. Mosher, Fosgill, Alien, Ronimus, and several more of us
were down at the end of the field putting the shot. Fosgill, who was
scratch man that year, had just done an even forty feet and the shot had
trickled away toward the cinder path. Whereupon a small bit of humanity
appeared from somewhere, picked up the sixteen pounds of lead with much
difficulty, and staggered back to the circle with it.

"Hello, kid," said Fosgill; "that's pretty heavy for you, isn't it?"

"Naw," was the superb reply; "that ain't nothin'!"

We laughed, and the youngster grinned around at us in a companionable way
that won us on the spot.

"What's your name?" asked Ronimus.

"Patsy."

"Patsy what?"

"Burns."

"How old are you?"

"'Leven."

"You're a Frenchman, aren't yon?"

"Naw."

"You're not?" Ronimus pretended intense surprise.

"He's a Dutchman, aren't you, Patsy?" said Mosher.

"Naw."

"What are you then?"

"Mucker," answered Patsy with a grin.

For the rest of that day and for many days afterwards Patsy honored us with
his presence. After each put he ambled forth, lifted the metal ball from
the ground with two dirty little hands, snuggled it against the front of
his dirty little shirt, and labored back with it. At the end of the week
Patsy had become official helper.

He was a diminutive wisp of humanity, a starved, slender elf with a
freckled face, wizened and peaked, which at times looked a thousand years
old. It reminded you of the face of one of those preternaturally aged
monkeys that sit motionless in a dark corner of the cage, oppressed with
the sins and sorrows of a hundred centuries. And yet it mustn't be supposed
that Patsy was either a pessimist or a misanthrope. Patsy's gray Irish eye
could sparkle merrily and his thin little Irish mouth usually wore a
whimsical smile. It was as though he realized that life was but a hollow
mockery and yet had bravely resolved to pretend otherwise, that we, young
and innocent, might still preserve our cherished illusions.

We made a good deal of Patsy. We pretended that he was very, very old and
sophisticated--not a difficult task--and deferred to his judgment on all
occasions. But in spite of this Patsy never became "fresh." To be sure, he
speedily began calling Fosgill "Bull," but I don't think he meant the
slightest disrespect; everyone called the big fellow "Bull," and it is
quite possible that Patsy believed it to be a title of honor. He was
attentive to all of us, but his heart was Fosgill's. He used to wait
outside the Locker Building until we came out after dressing and then walk
beside Fosgill until he reached the Square. Then Patsy would say:

"Good night, Bull."

And Fosgill would answer gravely:

"Good night, Patsy."

And Patsy would disappear.

But the evening of the Handicaps we took him back to the boarding house
with us, and he sat beside Fosgill and ate ravenously of everything placed
before him. We learned Patsy's life story that evening. He went to
school--generally. He lived with Brian. Brian was his brother, eighteen
years old, and a man of business; Brian drove for Connors, the teamster.
Patsy wasn't sure that he had ever had a mother, but he was absolutely
certain about his father. He still had vivid recollections of the night
they broke down the door and put the handcuffs on father after father had
laid out the lieutenant with a chair. Patsy didn't know just what father
had done, but he had an idea it was something regarding the disappearance
of numerous suits of clothes from a tailor's shop. Patsy was going into
business himself just as soon as they let him stop school; he was going to
sell papers. He had tried several times to wean himself from education, but
each time they haled him back to the schoolhouse. Patsy thought the thing
was terribly wrong.

When the snow covered the field we saw Patsy only occasionally. In the
spring we got to work early. We believed we had a good show to win the Dual
that year and a fighting chance at the Intercollegiate. We were strong on
the sprints and distances, fair at the jumps and hurdles, and rather weak
at the weights. We had a good man in Fosgill at the shot put, but that's
about all. Along in May we had it doped out that if we could get first in
the shot put we could win out by a point or two. But there wasn't anything
certain about it, for our opponent was strong on second, near-"second," and
third-place men.

Patsy appeared with the first warm day, looking thinner and littler and
older than ever. That first day the assistant manager was holding the tape
for us, and it occurred to him to pick up the shot and toss it back. But he
did it only once. The next time Patsy was astraddle of that sixteen-pound
lump and was looking the assistant manager sternly in the eye.

"I'm doin' this," said Patsy.

After that he did it and no one disputed his right. When the gates were
closed and fellows had to show their H. A. A. tickets to get in, Patsy was
admitted without question. When all the other youngsters for miles around
were gluing their faces to the iron fence watching the baseball games,
Patsy's allegiance never faltered. He was somewhere around Fosgill,
regarding that hero with worshiping gaze. It was in May, I think, that
Patsy made his Great Resolution. He confided it to us on the steps of the
Locker Building when we were waiting for one of the crowd.

"I've decided not to go into business," said Patsy.

"What are you going to do?" asked Billy Allen.

"I'm going to college," replied Patsy easily. "I'm goin' to be a shot
putter."

"Good for you, kid!" said Billy. "What college you going to?"

Billy winked at us and we watched eagerly while Patsy's countenance took on
its expression of lofty contempt.

"Huh!" said Patsy. That was all, but that eloquent monosyllable consigned
all other colleges than ours to the nethermost regions.

"But you'll have to go to school a long time, Patsy," said I, "if you
expect to get into college."

"Yep, I know. It's tough, but I guess I can do it. Was--was it hard for
you?"

I was forced to acknowledge that it had been.

"An' you ain't much of a shot putter, either," said Patsy reflectively.

Fosgill had done forty-two, eight and a half that afternoon and we were
feeling pretty hopeful and good-natured after dinner. Some, one mentioned
Patsy, and Mosher spoke up:

"Say, fellows, let's see that that little cuss does get into college. What
do you say?"

"I'll go you!" cried Fosgill. "He's an all-right kid, is Patsy, and he
deserves something better than spending his life on the streets. We'll
adopt him."

"Sure thing," said Allen. "But we'll have our hands full. And what's to
happen when we leave college?"

"We'll get some one to look after him We'll have a talk with Brother Brian
about it. But, say, Bull, imagine Patsy putting the shot!"

We laughed at that--which we wouldn't have done if Patsy had been there.

"Well, I guess he won't make much of a show at athletics," said I, "but if
we keep him off the streets we'll be doing a whole lot. And I like Patsy."

We all did. And before we left the table that night we had the thing mapped
out. Patsy was to be cared for and looked after. He was to finish grammar
school, go to Latin school, and then to Harvard. And there were to be funds
where they'd do good. Yes, we had it all fixed up for Patsy and we'd have
done it just as planned if Patsy hadn't gone and spoiled it all. And it
happened like this:

When the Dual Meet came along in June we were all to the good. We couldn't
see how we were to lose first in anything except the quarter, the high
hurdles, the hammer throw and the broad jump. And we had enough seconds and
thirds in sight to make good. If Bull Fosgill could beat Tanner with the
shot we were it.

That's the way we had the situation sized up, but of course things don't
happen just as expected; they seldom do in athletics. Some of the firsts we
had claimed went glimmering and we took in seconds and thirds where we
hadn't expected them. But the final result was just about what we had
figured it, and along toward five o'clock the meet depended on the outcome
of one event, and that event was the shot put. To be sure, they were still
fussing with the pole vault, but we were certain of first and third places
and so could discount that.

By some freak of fortune I had managed to qualify with a put of
thirty-eight, one and a half. There were four of us in the finals, Fosgill,
Tanner and Burt of the enemy, and I. Of course Patsy was there, and he
worked like a Trojan. You could see, though, that it went against the grain
with him to fetch for our opponents; Patsy had a good deal of the primeval
left in him. And it's safe to say that no one there was more interested. I
don't think he doubted for a moment that Fosgill would win, and I fancy he
thought me pretty cheeky for aspiring so far as the final round.

Fosgill was ahead with forty-one, ten and a half, Tanner had done three
inches under that, and Burt and I were fighting along for third place,
doing around thirty-eight, six. It was pretty close work, and even the
officials were excited. We had finished one round when the accident
occurred.

Tanner was in the circle. Fosgill was down near the end of the tape and
Patsy was close behind him. Tanner hopped across the circle,
overstepped--fouling the put--and sent the shot away at a tangent. Fosgill
had turned his head to speak to the measurer and never saw his danger.
Tanner let out a shout of warning, and others echoed it. But it was Patsy
who acted. He threw himself like a little catapult at Fosgill and sent him
staggering across the turf. Then Patsy and the shot went down together.

It was all beastly sudden and nasty. When we bent over that poor little kid
he was sort of greenish-white and I'll never forget the way his freckles
stood out. The shot had struck him on the breast and Patsy's weak little
bones had just crushed in. Well, we did all we could; put him in a carriage
at the gate and rushed him to the hospital. He was still breathing, but the
doctor said he never knew anything after the shot struck him--not until
evening. Well, we were all frightfully cut up, and Tanner sat down on the
ground and nearly fainted. Fosgill kept saying "Poor little Patsy! Poor
little kid!" half aloud and walking around in circles. He wanted to go to
the hospital with him, but we told him he could do no good, and we each
still had two puts.

After a while we got our nerve back after a fashion, and went on, but,
thunder! not one of us was worth a hang. I did thirty-six and thirty-seven,
eleven, and won third place at that. Neither Fosgill nor Tanner equaled his
first records and the event went to Bull at the ridiculous figures of
forty-one, ten and a half. We got the meet by four and a half points. It
was almost six o'clock by that time, and Fosgill and I and three others
piled into Alien's auto and raced up to the hospital.

They had just taken Patsy off the operating table and put him to bed. The
doctor told us that the examination showed that there was nothing to be
done; the heart had been injured and was liable to stop work any moment.
Fosgill got the doctor to promise to call him up on the 'phone if Patsy
showed any signs of consciousness. And he left orders that everything
possible was to be done. Tanner had begged us to look after the kid and let
him pay everything, but though we promised, we hadn't any idea of doing it;
Patsy was our kid. We went back to training table, but we were a
low-spirited lot. And just when we were finishing dinner the call came from
the hospital.

We made a record trip in Billy's machine and when we tiptoed into the
accident ward the nurse smiled at us. And so did Patsy. He was a
pathetic-looking little wisp as he lay there with the bedclothes lifted
away from his body, but he smiled and moved his head a bit on the pillow.
Fosgill sat down at the head of the cot and leaned over, his mouth all
atremble.

"Hello, Bull!" whispered Patsy.

"Hello, Patsy!" answered Fosgill, trying to smile.

"Did you--beat him?"

"Yes, Patsy."

"I knew--you would. I told--him so." He glanced at me: "Did
you--beat--that--other chap?"

I nodded and Patsy looked at me with a new respect.

"Good--for you," he whispered.

"Are you--does it hurt much, Patsy?" asked Fosgill.

"No, not much."

"That's good. We'll have you out before long."

Patsy grinned.

"Shut up!" he whispered. "You can't--fool me, Bull. I'm--a goner."

Fosgill muttered something and Patsy's eyes brightened.

"Bull," he whispered, "do you--think I--had a mother--like--other kids?"

"I know you did, Patsy."

"That's good," sighed the kid happily. "I guess--may be--I'll see
her--where--I'm goin'."

"You saved my life, Patsy," muttered Fosgill, "and there isn't a thing I
can do for you. I wish--oh, it's a shame, kid!"

"Huh! I'm glad--Bull. I'd--'a' done most anything--for you, Bull. You've
been good--to me; so's the--others." He closed his eyes wearily for a
moment. Then, "Do you think," he asked slowly, "I could--have learned--to
put--the shot, Bull--some day?"

"Yes," answered Fosgill sturdily. "You had the making of a great shot
putter, Patsy. You'd have made a record for yourself, I'll bet!"

"Are you--kiddin'--me, Bull?"

"No, Patsy. I'll leave it to the others. Isn't it so, fellows?"

We nodded vehemently, and Patsy closed his eyes with a smile of ineffable
content on his little face. Presently the eyes flickered open again.

"Anyhow," he said quite strongly and with an approach to his old air of
self-importance, "anyhow--I guess I won--for Harvard--to-day. Huh?"

"Yes, you did, Patsy," answered Fosgill. "We've got you to thank for it,
dear little kid."

Patsy smiled. Then:

"Good-by--Bull," he said very softly. His eyes half closed.

We waited in silence while the moments crept by, but Patsy didn't speak
again.




HIS FIRST ASSIGNMENT


Tom Collins read again the inscription on the directory at the foot of the
stairs:

  Room 36 _City Editor and Reporters_


glanced again toward the elevator, again drew his letter of introduction
from his pocket, and--again retreated to the doorway. Once more his heart
had failed him.

The result of the impending interview with the city editor of the
Washington Evening World meant so much to him that he feared to meet it.
Another failure and--what? Surely not starvation. To a youth of nineteen,
normally healthy and hopeful, the idea of starvation in a great city,
surrounded by thousands of human beings, seems preposterous. And yet when
the few coins yet remaining in his pocket were gone he would be absolutely
at the end of his resources; unless--unless fortune favored him in the next
few minutes. He had tried every newspaper office in the city with
disheartening results; every office save this one. He reread, perhaps for
the twentieth time, the letter he held, then placed it back in its envelope
with a sigh. The words sounded so empty and perfunctory, the _World_ was
such a big paper, his own ignorance was so great, and--and he was
discouraged. However--

He thrust the letter back into his pocket, jammed his cap resolutely onto
his head, and strode determinedly to the elevator.

"City editor," he announced gruffly.

Room 36 seemed acres big to Tom as he closed the door behind him. Some
dozen men and youths occupied the apartments and to the nearest of these
Tom applied. He was not much over Tom's age and was busily engaged in
cutting a newspaper into shreds with a pair of extraordinarily large
shears. When interrupted he looked up carelessly but good naturedly and
pointed to a far corner of the room.

"That's the city ed; the fellow with the glasses."

Tom thanked him and went on.

The man with the glasses took no notice of his approach but continued his
writing, puffing the while on a very black briar pipe. He was apparently
about thirty-five years of age, had a fierce and bristling mustache, and
rushed his pencil vindictively across the copy paper as though he were
writing the death sentence of his worst enemy.

"Well?"

Tom started. The voice was as savage as the man's appearance, and Tom's
heart sank within him.

"What do you want?" The editor's forehead was a mass of wrinkles and his
eyes glared threateningly from behind his glasses. Tom found his voice and
laid the letter on the desk.

"Humph," said the editor. He read the short message and tossed it aside.
"Ever done newspaper work?" he asked.

"No, sir," Tom replied.

"Then what do you want to begin for?"

"To make a living."

"Oh," sneered the editor, "thought perhaps you wanted to elevate the press.
You're a college graduate, of course?"

"I went to college for a year and a half, sir; I had to leave then."

The editor's face brightened.

"Did they throw you out?"

"No, I--I had no money left; my father died very suddenly, and--and so I
had to leave."

"Too bad; if you'd been fired there might have been some hope for you." Tom
tried to detect a smile somewhere on the frowning face; there was none. "So
you think you can do newspaper reporting, do you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Of course you do! I never found a college boy yet that wasn't plumb sure
he could start right in on fifteen minutes' notice and beat Horace Greeley
or old man Dana. It's so easy!"

"I don't think that," answered Tom, "but I think I could do reporting--
after a day or two. I'm ignorant as to the exact duties of a reporter, but
I can learn, and I can write English."

"But can you find out what other reporters can't? Can you interview the
last new senator in town and make him tell you what he wouldn't have
printed for a year's salary? Can you do that?" Tom hesitated; but he was
gaining courage, and the other's gibes were slowly arousing his resentment.

"If those things can be done by other fellows, I can do them."

"Well, you've got confidence," acknowledged the editor, grudgingly. "But we
don't break new men in here on the _World_; we wait until they have learned
somewhere else, then we offer them a better salary; those are our methods.
You go to work on the _Despatch_ or the _Star_, or somewhere, and when you
prove that you can do as good work as three or four men on our staff you'll
hear from us."

The city editor went back to his pencil. Plainly the interview was at an
end. Tom turned away. "Good day, sir," he muttered. There was a lump in his
throat and his hand, seeking refuge in his pocket, closed on the half dozen
coins. He turned suddenly and faced the city editor again.

"Look here," he said doggedly, "I've got a right to better treatment than
you have given me. I handed you a letter of introduction that ought to have
a little weight, and--and even if it hasn't, it entitles me to common
courtesy from you. I'm not a beggar asking for alms. All I want is a chance
to show that I can do your work decently. I don't even ask any pay, I--I--"

Tom's words died away. After all, what was the use? He had his answer and
there could be no benefit gained from prolonging the interview. But the
city editor was looking at him curiously now.

"Here, hold on there," he commanded, and when Tom again faced him: "If
you'd brought me a letter from Queen Victoria or the Angel Gabriel you'd
have gotten the same treatment. I talk to an average of ten men like you
every day of my life; young chaps who don't know what a newspaper's run
for; who don't care, either. They think reporting or editing is a nice easy
way to make a living, and so they come here expecting to fall into a
position. They don't get it. But when a fellow shows sense I give him a
chance. And I'll give you one. Hold on," he continued as Tom opened his
mouth to thank him, "I'm not offering you a place; I'm not even giving you
a fair deal."

He paused and took a card from a drawer, scowling more than ever.

"Write your name there and send it up to Senator August at the Hotel
Torrence. If he sees you, interview him on the decision of last night's
conference; find out whether they agreed on a nominee. You read the papers?
Then you'll know what we're after. Now there's your chance, just a bare
fighting chance; do you want it?" The card held the single line "For _The
Washington Evening World."_ Tom put it in his pocket.

"I know how desperate the chance is, sir, and I'll take it. And--and thank
you."

"All right. And remember that the last edition goes to press at five
o'clock," he added grimly.

As Tom passed out the youth by the railing had stopped cutting up
newspapers and was writing as though his very life depended upon it. When
he reached the street Tom remembered that he might have used the elevator.

"Senator August left ten minutes ago," said the hotel clerk affably as he
caught sight of the inscription on the card which Tom Collins held. "A new
reporter," he added to himself.

"Left?" echoed Tom in dismay. "Where has he gone?"

"New York, I think. Went to the depot for the 2.20."

Tom glanced at the clock. Another moment and he was boarding a passing car.
He had six minutes to catch the 2.20. His chances of success were slim. For
that matter, thought Tom, the whole undertaking was the merest forlorn
hope; not even the fighting chance that the city editor of the _World_ had
called it. For supposing that he found Senator August and got speech with
him, was it likely that he would tell an inexperienced chap like Tom what
the best reporters in Washington had failed to worm out of him?

The Democratic National Convention to nominate a candidate for the
presidency was but a month away. On the preceding evening, in a little room
in the Hotel Torrence, Senator August, representing the sentiment of the
Eastern democracy, and Senator Goodman, possessing full power to act for
his party in the great West, had met to decide on a Democratic nominee.
Dissension threatened. The East favored a man of moderate views on the
subject of currency reform; the West and the greater portion of the South
stood unanimous for a politician whose success in the coming battle would
presage the most radical of measures. Final disagreement between the
Democrats of East and West meant certain victory for the Republican Party.
And to-day all the country was asking: Have the leaders agreed on a
nominee; if so, which one? Senator Groodman, as uncommunicative as a
statue, was already speeding back to the far West; and Senator August,
equally silent, was on his way home. The newspapers were hysterical in
their demands for information; all day the wires leading to Washington had
borne message after message imploring news, but only baseless rumors had
sped back. And Tom Collins, knowing all this, realized the hopelessness of
his task.

At the depot he left the car at a jump and dashed into the station. A train
on the further track was already crawling from the shed. There was no time
for inquiries. He ran for it and swung himself onto the platform of the
Pullman. A porter was just closing the vestibule door.

"Is Senator August on board?" gasped Tom. The porter didn't know. But he
assured Tom that that was the train for New York and so the latter entered
the Pullman. The car held seven men and an elderly lady. Tom's idea of a
senator was a big man dressed in a black frock coat, a black string tie and
a tall silk hat. But there was no one in sight attired in such fashion and
Tom paused at a loss. Perhaps it was chance that led him halfway down the
aisle and caused him to question a military, middle-aged gentleman who wore
a quiet suit of gray tweeds and was deep in a magazine. The face that
looked up was shrewd but kindly, albeit it frowned a little at the
interruption.

"I am Senator August," was the unexpected reply.

"Oh!" exclaimed Tom blankly. Then he pushed aside a small valise on the
opposite seat and took its place. The frown on the senator's face grew.

"Reporter?" he asked laconically.

"Yes," answered Tom. "I'm from the Washington _World._ I just missed you at
the hotel so I took the liberty of following you to the train." Tom thought
that sounded pretty well and paused to see what impression it had created.
The result was disappointing.

"Well?" asked the senator coldly.

"The _World_ would like to know what decision was reached at last night's
conference, senator."

"I don't doubt it," answered the senator dryly. "Look here," he continued
with asperity, "I've refused to talk to at least two dozen reporters and
correspondents to-day. The results of last night's conference will be made
public by Senator Goodman and myself at the proper time and place; and not
until then. And that is all that I can tell you."

"But--" began Tom.

"Understand me, please; I will say nothing more on the subject."

"Will you give me some idea as to when the proper time will be?" asked Tom
respectfully.

"No, I can't do that either. Perhaps to-morrow; perhaps not for several
days."

"Are you going to New York, sir?"

"I am on my way to my home in Massachusetts."

"Thank you. Have you any objection to my accompanying you on the same
train?" Senator August opened his eyes a little.

"Is that necessary? The announcement will be made to the Associated Press
and, unless I am mistaken, the _World_ is a member of it."

"Very true, sir, but I was assigned to get the result of the conference and
I've got to do it--that is, if I can."

"Very well, I have no objection to your traveling on the same train with
me, just as long as you don't bother me. Will that do?"

"Yes, sir, thank you. I am sorry that I have troubled you."

"You're what?" asked the other.

"Sorry to have troubled you, sir."

"Hm; you're the first one to-day that has expressed such a feeling. You
must be new at the business."

"I am," answered Tom. "I've been a reporter only half an hour. In fact I'm
not certain that I am one at all."

"How's that?" asked the senator, turning his magazine face down on the seat
beside him.

And Tom told him. Told about his three weeks of dreary search for a
position, of his interview with the city editor of the _Evening World_, and
of the forlorn hope upon which he was entered. And when he had finished his
story, Senator August was no longer frowning; the boy's tale had interested
him.

"Well, he did put you up against a hard task; doesn't seem to me to have
been quite fair. He knew that every reporter had failed and he must have
known that you would fail as well. Seems to have been merely a neat way of
getting rid of you. What do you think?"

Tom hesitated a moment.

"I don't think it was quite that. And, anyhow, I knew what I was doing, and
so it was fair enough, I guess."

"But surely you had no idea of success?"

"I ought not to have," answered Tom hesitatingly, "but I'm afraid I did."

The senator looked out of the window and was silent for a moment while the
express sped on through the afternoon sunlight. When he turned his face
toward Tom again he was smiling.

"Well, you appear to have pluck, my lad, and that is pretty certain to land
you somewhere in the end even if you miss it this time. I'm very sorry that
I am obliged to be the means of destroying your chance with the _World_;
but I have no choice in the matter, I----"

"Tickets, please."

Blank dismay overspread Tom's countenance as he looked up at the conductor.

"I--I haven't any."

"Where do you want to go?"

Tom put his hand into his pocket and brought out all his money; less than
two dollars. He held it out to the gaze of the conductor.

"How far can I go for that?" he asked.

"Is that all you have?" asked the senator. Tom nodded. "All right
conductor; we'll arrange this; come around again later, will you?" The
conductor went on. Tom stared helplessly at his few coins and Senator
August looked smilingly at Tom.

"How about following me home?" he asked.

"I--I'd forgotten," stammered Tom.

"Well, never mind. I'll loan you enough to reach the first stop and to
return to Washington. Nonsense," he continued, as Tom began a weak
objection, "I haven't offered to give it to you; you may repay it some
day." He pressed a bill into the boy's hand. "At Blankville Junction you
can get a train back before long, I guess. Never mind that cold-blooded
editor on the _World_; try the other papers again; keep at it; that's what
I did; and it pays in the end. Hello, are we stopping here?"

The train had slowed down and now it paused for an instant beside a little
box of a station. Then it started on again and a train man appeared at the
far end of the car holding a buff envelope in his hand.

"Senator August in this car?" he asked.

The telegram was delivered and its recipient, excusing himself to the
sad-hearted youth on the opposite seat, read the contents hurriedly. Then
he glanced queerly at Tom, while a little smile stole out from under the
ends of his grizzled mustache.

"You are lucky," he said. Tom looked a question, and the senator thrust the
message into his hands. "Read that," he said; "it is from my secretary in
Washington." He pressed the electric button between the windows and waited
impatiently for the porter. Tom was staring hard at the yellow sheet before
him; he reread it slowly, carefully, that there might be no mistake. It was
as follows:

  "_Senator Harrison M. August, "On train 36, Waverly, Md._

"Following telegram just received: 'Chicago, 8, 1.45 P.M. Have just learned
reliable source Republican managers using our silence regarding conference
to advance W's candidacy in Middle West and have published report that we
have agreed on compromise candidate. If report goes undenied many votes
will be lost, especially in Iowa and Wisconsin. Advise immediate
publication of our statement to press. Answer Auditorium, Chicago.
Goodman.' Have advised Goodman of delay in reaching you.

"_Billings_."

"Do you understand what that means?" asked Senator August. Tom could only
nod; he was too astounded to speak. The senator handed a message to the
porter. "Get that off as soon as we reach Baltimore and bring me a receipt
for it." Then he turned again to Tom and thrust the pad of Western Union
message blanks toward him.

"We reach Blankville Junction in eight minutes. Write what I dictate to you
as fast as you can. You know shorthand? All the better."

The senator leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment. Then he began to
speak, rapidly but distinctly, and Tom's pencil flew over the pages, while
the train sped on toward the junction.

The hands of the office clock pointed to twenty minutes after five when Tom
reached the _World_ building. There was no hesitancy now; he pushed open
the little gate and hurried toward the city editor, who had already placed
his hat on his head and was bundling up some papers to carry home. He met
Tom's advance with a frown.

"Well?" he asked coldly.

For answer Tom placed a little package of copy before him.

"What's this?" he demanded. But there was no necessity for reply for he was
already reading the sheets. Halfway through he paused and lifted a tube to
his mouth. "Brown? Say, Joe, get a plate ready for an extra in a hurry;
about half a column of stuff going right up." Then he turned again to his
reading. At the end he gathered the copy together and placed it on his
desk.

"Where'd you get this?"

"On the New York express."

"What station?"

"I left the train at Blankville Junction."

The city editor dated the copy with a big black pencil, ran three strokes
the length of each sheet, wrote a very long and startling head over it and
thrust it into the hands of a waiting boy.

"Copy-cutter," he said. And as the boy sped off the editor turned to Tom.
"How'd you do it?" he asked, frowning tremendously.

But the city editor's frowns no longer struck terror into Tom's heart, and
he told the story briefly, while his hearer puffed rapidly at his pipe.
Only once was he interrupted.

"Hold on there," said the editor. "Are you certain he said he'd not give
out the statement again until he reached New York?"

"Quite certain," was the reply. Something almost resembling pleasure
appeared on the city editor's face.

"He'll not get there until 8.30; too late for the evening papers. The
biggest beat of the year, by George!" For a moment the glasses and the
frown were lost in a cloud of smoke. Then "Go on," he commanded.

Tom finished his story in a few words; told how he had found a train
already waiting at the Junction, how he had written out his copy on the way
back to Washington; and how, had it not been for a long delay just outside
the city, he would have reached the office in time for the regular edition.
And when he had finished he waited for a word of commendation. But none
came. Instead, the city editor nodded his head once or twice, thoughtfully,
frowningly, and said: "Well, you needn't wait around any longer; there's
nothing else to be done."

Tom arose, looking blankly at the speaker. Had he failed after all! Surely
he was not being turned away? But the city editor's next words dispelled
all doubt.

"We go to work on this paper at eight o'clock, Mr. Collins; and by eight I
mean eight, and not ten minutes past. I can't have any man working for me
who cannot be prompt. You understand?"

As Tom clattered happily downstairs a deep reverberation that shook the
building from top to bottom told him that the presses were already printing
the result of his first assignment.




PEMBERTON'S FLUKE


For an hour and a half Yale and Princeton had been battling on the
gridiron; for an hour and a half the struggling lines had advanced and
retreated from goal line to goal line; for an hour and a half the ball had
gone arching up against the blue November sky, had been carried in short,
desperate plunges or brilliant runs to and fro over the trampled white
lines of Yale Field; for an hour and a half twenty-five thousand persons
had watched the varying fortunes of the contest with fast-beating hearts,
had waved their flags, sang their songs and shouted their cheers; and now,
with the last half drawing toward its close, the score board still
proclaimed: "Yale, 0; Opponents, 0."

Pemberton had found the contest exciting, breathlessly so at moments, but
disappointing. Being a freshman, as well as a 'varsity substitute of a
week's standing, he was intensely patriotic, and the thought of a tie game
was unbearable; to a youth of his enthusiasm a tie was virtually a defeat
for the Blue; and a defeat for the Blue was something tragic,
inconceivable! Pemberton was a sandy-haired, blue-eyed, round-faced chap of
eighteen; in height, five feet nine; in weight, one hundred and
sixty-eight; neither large nor heavy, but speedy as they make them, a
bundle of nerves, endowed with a fanatical enthusiasm and a kind of
brilliant, dashing recklessness that often wins where larger courage fails.

At Exeter he hadn't gone in for football until his senior year; the
Physical Director couldn't see the thing from Pemberton's viewpoint;
physical directors are narrow-minded souls; Pemberton will tell you so any
day. With three years of lost time to make up, Pemberton had put his whole
mind into football with the result that he had made the team in time to
play for five short, mad minutes against Andover. This fall he had
distinguished himself on the Freshmen Eleven, and the game with the Harvard
youngsters, if it hadn't resulted in a victory for Yale, had, at least,
made the reputation of Pemberton, left half back. In that somewhat
one-sided contest he had shown such dash and pluck, had eeled himself
through the Crimson's line, or shot like a small streak of lightning around
the ends so frequently that he had been called to the 'varsity bench. And
on the 'varsity bench, one, and quite the smallest one, of a long line of
substitutes, he had sat since the beginning of the Princeton game, with an
excellent chance of staying there until the whistle blew.

He wasn't a fellow to accept inactivity with gracefulness. That "they also
serve who only stand and wait," he was willing to accept as true; but that
wasn't the kind of serving he hankered for; Pemberton's ideal of usefulness
was getting busy and doing things--and doing them hard.

On opposite sides of the field rival bands were blaring out two-steps, the
strains leaking now and then through the deep, thundering cheers. Down on
Yale's thirty-five-yard line Princeton was hammering at right guard for
short gains, edging nearer and nearer the goal, and thousands of eyes fixed
themselves expectantly on Princeton's left half back, dreading or hoping to
see him fall back for a kick. On the thirty yards Yale's line braced and
held. Princeton tried a run outside of left tackle and got a yard. The ball
was directly in front of goal.

"Sturgis is a dub if he doesn't try it now," said the big fellow on
Pemberton's left.

"But he couldn't do it from the forty-yard line, could he?" asked
Pemberton.

"Search me; but from what he's done so far to-day I guess he could kick a
goal from the other end of the field. Nothing doing, though; they're trying
right guard again. There goes Crocker."

Yale's line gave at the center and a Princeton tackle fell through for two
yards. The Princeton cheers rang out redoubled in intensity, sharp,
entreating, only to be met with the defiant slogan of Yale. Pemberton
shuffled his scarred brown leather shoes uneasily and gnawed harder at his
knuckles. Princeton was playing desperately, fighting for the twenty-yard
line. A play that looked like a tandem at right guard resolved itself into
a plunge at left tackle and gave them their distance. The Yale stands held
staring, troubled faces. The Princeton stands were on their feet, shouting,
waving, swaying excitedly; score cards were sailing and fluttering through
the air; pandemonium reigned over there. Pemberton scowled fiercely across.
His left-hand neighbor whistled a tune softly. Princeton piled her backs
through again for a yard.

"Oh, thunder!" muttered Pemberton.

The other nodded sympathetically.

"Here's where Old Nassau scores," he said.

A last desperate plunge carried the little army of the Orange and Black
over the coveted mark. The left half walked back; there were cries,
entreaties, commands; the cheering died away and gave place to the intense
silence of suspense; Pemberton could hear the little Princeton quarter
back's signals quite plainly. Then, after a moment of breathless delay, the
ball sped back, was caught breast high by the left half, was dropped on the
instant and shot forward from his foot, and went rising toward the goal.
The Yale forwards broke through, leaping with upstretched hands into the
path of the ball, yet never reaching it. The field was a confusion of
writhing, struggling bodies, but the ball was sailing straight and true,
turning lazily on its shorter axis, over the cross bar.

Over on the Princeton side of the field hats were in flight, slicing up and
down and back and forth across the face of the long slope of yellow and
black; flags were gyrating crazily; the space between seats and barrier was
filled with a leaping, howling mass of humanity, and all the while the
cheers crashed and hurtled through the air. Well, Princeton had something
to cheer for; even Pemberton grudgingly acknowledged that.

"Have we time to score?" he asked despondently.

His neighbor turned, stretching out his long, blue-stockinged legs.

"There's about five or six minutes left, I guess," he answered. "We've got
_time_ to score, but will we?"

Pemberton didn't think they would. Life seemed very cruel just then.

"Hello," continued the other, "Webster's coming out! I guess here's where
your Uncle Tom gets a whack at Old Nassau--maybe." He sat up and watched
the head coach alertly. The next moment Pemberton was peeling off his
sweater for him.

Princeton ran Yale's kick-off back to her forty yards. The Blue's right
guard was taken out, white and wretched, after the first scrimmage.
Princeton started at her battering again, content now to make only
sufficient gains to keep the ball. But with a yard to gain on the third
down a canvas clad streak broke through and nailed her tackle behind the
line. Pemberton, shouting ecstatically, saw that the streak was his
erstwhile neighbor, and was proud of the acquaintance. Then Yale, with the
ball once more in possession, started to wake things up. Past the forty
yards again she went, throwing tackles and full back at every point in the
Tiger's line for short gains, and showing no preference. But, all said, it
was slow work and unpromising with the score board announcing five minutes
to play. The Yale supporters, however, found cause for rejoicing, and
cheered gloriously until there was a fumble and the Blue lost four yards on
the recovery. Time was called and the trainers and water carriers trotted
on the field. The head coach and an assistant came toward the bench,
talking earnestly, the former's sharp eyes darting hither and thither
searchingly. Pemberton watched, with his heart fluttering up into his
throat. The head coach's gaze fixed itself upon him, passed on up the line,
came back to him and stayed. Pemberton dropped his eyes. It isn't good form
to stare Fate in the face. Was it a second later or an age that his name
was called?"

"Go in at left half; tell Haker to come out. And--er--Pemberton, here's a
pretty good chance to show what you can do."

Pemberton peeled off his white jersey with the faded "E" and raced into the
field. Haker looked down uncomprehendingly at him from the superior height
of six feet when he delivered his message. Pemberton repeated it. Haker
shoved him aside, mumbling impatient words through swollen lips. It was
only when he saw the head coach beckoning him from the side line that he
yielded and took himself off with a parting insult to Pemberton:

"All right, Kid."

Pemberton's eyes blazed and his fists clenched. Kid! Well, he'd show Haker
and everyone else whether he was a kid! Then he looked at the score board
with sinking heart. Only four minutes left! Four minutes! But he took
heart; after all, four minutes was two hundred and forty seconds, and if
they'd only give him the ball! He had run a mile in 4:34 1-5! Suddenly the
whistle blew and the players staggered to their places. It was second down
now, with nine yards to gain. The tandem formed on the left, and Pemberton
ranged himself behind the big tackle disapprovingly. Where was the use, he
asked himself, of wasting a down by plunging at the line? What had they put
him in there for if not to take the ball? Then the signal came and the next
moment he was in the maelstrom. When the dust of battle lifted, the ball
was just one yard nearer the Princeton goal.

Princeton expected Yale to kick, for it was the third down and there was
still eight yards wanted, and so the Princeton right half trotted
tentatively to join the quarter. Yale placed a tackle, full back and left
half behind her tackle guard hole on the left. Her right half fell back
about six yards to a position behind quarter. It might mean a kick or a
tandem, or a run around left end; Princeton's right half hesitated and
edged back toward his line. Pemberton, puzzled, awaited the signal. Of
course the ball was his, but why was he placed so far away from it? The
only play from just this formation that he was acquainted with was one in
which he merely performed the inglorious part of interference. However,
maybe the quarter knew his business, though deep down in his soul he
doubted it.

Now, for an understanding of the remarkable events which followed, it is
necessary to take the reader into the confidence of the Yale quarter back.
Despite Pemberton's misgivings he really did know his business, which was
to get that pigskin over the Tiger's goal line in the next four minutes,
taking any risk to do it. And the present play was a risk. As planned it
was this: at the snapping of the ball the head of the tandem, the tackle,
was to plunge straight through the line between tackle and guard as though
leading a direct attack at that point; full back and left half were to turn
sharply to the left before reaching the line and clear out a hole between
end and tackle; right half back, standing well behind the quarter, was to
receive the ball on a toss and follow the interference; quarter was to stop
tacklers coming around the right end of his line; in short, it was a play
apparently aimed at the left center of Yale's line, but in reality going
through at the left end. But the Yale quarter had reckoned without
Pemberton.

The play started beautifully. The ball was snapped back into quarter's
waiting hands, tackle plunged madly ahead into the Princeton's defenses,
the quarter swung around back to the line, ready for the toss to the right
half, who was on his toes, waiting to dash across to where the hole was
being torn open for him. And then something went wrong! A figure sped
across toward the right end of the line between quarter and right half just
as the ball left the former's hands. The ball disappeared from sight; and
so, in a measure, did Pemberton.

His excited brain had confused the 'varsity with the freshman signals.
Starting on the supposition that he was to receive the ball, the numbers
had somehow conveyed to him the idea that the play was around right end.
The fact that he was to be practically unprovided with interference did not
bother him; if he had had time to consider the matter he would probably
have decided that they knew his ability and were not going to insult him by
offering assistance. But Pemberton wasn't one to be worried over details.
What was wanted was a touchdown, or, failing that, a good long gain. So,
with the rest of the back field plunging toward the left, Pemberton started
on his own hook toward the right.

He was glad the quarter tossed the ball so exactly; otherwise he would have
had to slow down. As it was he was going like an express train by the time
he swept around the Princeton line outside of end. Pemberton could not only
run like the wind, but could start like a shot from a rifle. That he got
clean away before the opponents had found the location of the ball was
partly due to this fact and partly to the fact that Yale's backs were
messing around in a peculiarly aimless manner which, to the Princeton
players, suggested a delayed pass or some equally heinous piece of
underhand work. So Princeton piled through Yale's line to solve the
difficulty, thinking little of the absurd youth who had shot around her
left end without interference.

From Princeton's center to her right end everything was confusion. It was a
glorious struggle, but futile. For the ball was snuggled in Pemberton's
right elbow, and Pemberton was down near the thirty yards sprinting for
goal. In front of him was the Princeton quarter back; behind him, racing
madly, came a Princeton half. To his left was a long, dark bank splotched
and mottled with blue; from it thundered down a ceaseless cataract of sound
that held as a motif entreaty and encouragement. Pemberton saw the waving
flags from the corner of his eyes; and the chaos of cheers and shouts
drowned the thumping of his heart and the _pat, pat_ of his feet on the
trampled turf. Pemberton was enjoying himself immensely, and was grateful
in a patronizing way for the coach's confidence in him. Then the quarter
back engaged his attention. He glanced back. The foremost of the
pursuers--for now the whole field was racing after him--was still a good
ten yards behind. Pemberton was relieved. The twenty-yard line, dim and
scattered, passed under his feet, and the Princeton quarter was in his
path, white and determined, with fingers curved like talons in anticipation
of his prey. Pemberton increased his speed by just that little that is
always possible, feinted to the left, dug his shoes sharply in the turf and
went by to the right, escaping the quarter's diving tackle by the length of
a finger. The quarter dug his face in the ground, scrambled somehow to his
feet, and took up the chase. But now he was second in pursuit, for the half
back had passed him and was pressing Pemberton closely. If the latter had
been content to make straight for the nearest point of the goal line the
result would never have been in doubt; but Pemberton was not one to be
satisfied with bread when there was cake in sight. Nothing would do but the
very center of the goal line, and for that he was headed, running straight
at top speed.

There the pursuing half back found his advantage, for he held a course
nearer the center of the field. It was a pretty race, but agonizing to the
friends of Yale and Princeton alike. At the ten-yard line the flying Yale
man was a yard to the good; at the five-yard line the Princeton. player had
him by the thighs and was dragging like a ton of lead.

Pemberton's fighting spirit came to his rescue. Did that idiot whose arms
were slipping down around his legs think that he was going to be stopped
here on the threshold of success? Did he know he was trying to hold
_Pemberton_? Gosh! He'd show him! Every stride now was like pushing his
knees into a stone wall; one, two, three, four, and still the line was
three yards away. And now the tackler's arms had slipped down about his
knees, holding them together as though with a vise. For an instant
Pemberton fought on--a foot, half a foot--then further progress was
impossible and he crashed over on his face, midway between the goal posts,
the ball held at arms' length, his knuckles digging into the last streak of
lime. Some one thumped down on to his head and strove to pull the ball
back. But he locked his joints and strained forward until somewhere behind
him a whistle shrilled. Then he rolled over on his back, closed his eyes
and fought for breath.

Few could have missed that goal; certainly not Yale's quarter back. Once
more the ball went over the exact center of the goal line, but this time
above the cross bar; and wherever one or more Yale men were gathered
together there was rejoicing loud and continued. For the figures on the
score board told a different story: Yale, 6; Opponents, 5.

A few minutes later, in the car that was to take them back to town,
Pemberton allowed the head coach to shake him by the hand, and strove to
bear his honors becomingly. Congratulations roared in his ears like a
torrent until he was moved to an expression of modest disclaim:

"Oh, it wasn't anything much," said Pemberton. "I ought not to have allowed
that Princeton chap to get near me. But the fact is"--he addressed the head
coach confidentially--"the fact is, you see, I didn't quite understand that
signal."




THE SEVENTH TUTOR


"I'm being perfectly honest with you," said dad. "I tell you frankly that
I don't expect you to succeed, Mr. Wigg----"

"Twigg," corrected the chap in the basket chair.

"Pardon me; Twigg. The boy is simply unmanageable, especially where study
is concerned. He--but, there, perhaps it will be best if I don't prejudice
you too much. You'll have a free hand; I shan't interfere between you. The
last tutor came to me every day with the story of his troubles. I paid him
to keep them to himself; I don't want to hear them. I simply hand the boy
over to you and say: 'Here he is; make a gentleman of him if you can, and
incidentally get him ready for college. Punish him whenever you see fit.
Take any method in doing it you like, so long as you don't forget you're a
gentleman; brutality I won't stand.'"

I wished I could see the chap's face; but I couldn't; just his feet. He
wore low patent leathers.

"If at the end of one month," dad went on, "you have managed to get the
upper hand, we'll continue the arrangement. If you have failed I shall have
no further need of you. In the meanwhile, until then, you're a member of
the family, free to come and go as you like. See that you're comfortable.
That's all, I guess. Want to try it?"

"Yes," said the chap. I didn't like the way he said it, though; it sounded
so kind of certain. All the others had been a bit nervous when dad got to
that point.

"Very well," dad answered. "We'll call it settled. As--er--as a--sidelight
on Raymond's code of honor, Mr. Twigg--you said Twigg?--I'll mention that
for the last few minutes he has been listening to our conversation from
behind the hall door. You may come out now, Raymond."

I went out, grinning. It was all well enough for dad to talk about "the
last few minutes," but I was sure he hadn't known I was there until I
kicked the door after the chap said "yes" like that. The chap got out of
his chair and looked at me as though they hadn't been talking about me for
half an hour.

"Raymond, this is Mr. John Twigg, your new tutor," said dad.

"Thought it was about time for another," I said. Twigg held out his hand,
and so I shook with him. He shook different from the others; sort of as
though he had bones and things inside his fingers instead of cotton wool.

"Glad to see you," he said. "Hope we'll get on together."

"Oh, I'll get on," said I; "but I don't know about you."

"That'll do, Raymond," said dad angrily. "I don't expect you to act like a
gentleman; but you might at least be less of a cad."

"I ain't a cad!" I muttered.

"What else are you when you listen behind doors to things you're not
expected to hear? When you talk like a gutter snipe and act--"

"You're a liar!" I shouted. "Liar! Liar! Liar!"

Dad's face got purple like it always does when he's mad, and his hands
shook. For a moment I thought he was going to jump for me; he never has, no
matter how mad he gets. Then he leaned back again in his chair and turned
to Twigg with a beast of a sneer on his face.

"You see?" he asked, with a shrug. "Nice, sweet-tempered, clean-tongued
youth, isn't he? Want to call it off?"

I looked scowlingly at Twigg. He was leaning back, hands in pockets,
looking at me through half-closed eyes as though I was a side show at a
circus. I stared back at him defiantly. "Have a look," I jeered. He raised
a finger and scratched the side of his nose without taking his eyes off me,
just as though he was a doctor trying to decide what nasty stuff to give
me. After a bit I dropped my eyes; I tried not to, but they got to
blinking.

"No," said Twigg. "If you don't mind I'll walk back to the station and
telegraph for my trunk."

"Sit still," said dad, "and I'll get the cart around. Or you can write your
message and I'll have Forbes send it."

"Thanks," said Twigg, "I'd like the walk." He turned to me. "Want to go
along?"

I grinned at him.

"No, I don't want to go along," I said mockingly.

He didn't seem to notice.

"Luncheon is at--?"

"Two o'clock," said dad.

Dad went into the house, and Twigg put a gray felt hat on his head and
strode off down the drive. I sat on the porch rail and watched him. He
looked about five feet eight inches, and was broad across the shoulders. He
had a good walk. I slouched when I walked. After he was out of sight I
rather wished I'd gone along. There wasn't anything particular to do at
home, and I could have told him about the other tutors; there's some things
that dad doesn't know.

I found Twigg kept a diary. He went to the city on the Wednesday afternoon
after he came, and I rubbered around to see what I could find. The diary
was in his table drawer. It was awful dull rot until I got to the last page
or two. The day before he'd written a lot about me. This was it; I copied
it:

"June 1st.

"Fourth day at Braemere. First desire to throw it up and acknowledge defeat
quite gone. Am determined to see it through. I think I can win. At all
events the thing won't lack interest. Can't flatter myself that I've made
much headway. R. is like a rhinoceros. Can't find a vulnerable spot
anywhere. He seems morally calloused. I say seems because I can scarcely
believe that a boy of sixteen can really be as absolutely unmoral as he
appears. Perhaps, eventually, I will find an Achilles' heel.

"Mr. Dale stands by his agreement. He never offers to interfere. So much
the better. Mr. D.'s attitude toward R. is humorous as well as lamentable.
He views the boy as though he were entirely irresponsible for his being. It
is plain that he sees no connection between the boy's extraordinary
character and his own; yet they are alike in many particulars; one could
almost express my meaning by saying that R. is his father in an
uncultivated state. Mr. D. ascribes the boy's faults to the other side of
the house; he is convinced that the ungovernable temper and lack of moral
sense are unfortunate inheritances from the late Mrs. D. Probably this is
true in a measure. R. was the only child. The mother died at his birth. Mr.
D, returned to this country when R. was four years old, and purchased this
estate. Here the boy has grown up practically neglected. During twelve
years Mr. D. has been out of the country the better part of eight. The boy
has been left to the care of servants. For the past three years he has been
in the hands of tutors, whose periods of service ran from one week to three
months. I am the seventh in line to attempt the work.

"Physically R. is in good shape. He is fond of outdoor life; likes horses,
dogs and animals generally; rides well; shoots and fishes. Mentally he is
decidedly above normal, but quite untrained. Hates study. Would grade about
third year in Latin school. I shall begin at the bottom with him. It's
going to be a hard pull, but I'm going to win out."

I was going to empty the ink bottle over the pages; but I knew if I did
he'd hide the book or lock it up, and I wanted to see what else he'd write.
So I put it back in the drawer. I was sure I'd have him done to a turn in a
month. But it was going to take longer than with the other fools, though.

"That'll do," said Twigg. "You haven't studied a lick, have you?"

"Not a lick," I answered.

"When do you think of beginning?" he asked.

"Not going to begin at all."

"Oh, poppycock, my boy." He tossed down the Latin book and yawned. "Don't
you want to go to college?"

"No; not if I've got to study all that darned stuff."

"What kind of stuff?"

"Darned stuff, I said. You heard me, didn't you?"

"Yes; but I thought perhaps I'd mistaken. Well, we'll try this again
to-morrow. How about mathematics?"

I winked.

"Not prepared? German ditto, I presume?"

"I haven't studied at all, I tell you."

"Well, we know where to begin to-morrow, don't we? Is there any decent
fishing around here?"

"Find out," I muttered.

"Oh, well, I didn't suppose there was," he answered. "It's an
out-of-the-way spot up here, anyway."

"That's a lie! There's as good trout and pickerel fishing here as there is
anywhere in the State, if you know the proper place to look for it."

"Maybe; maybe there are lions and tigers if you know where to look for
them. But I'll believe it when I see them."

He yawned again and looked out the window and drummed on the desk. After a
bit I said:

"You city fellows think you know it all, don't you? If you want fishing
I'll take you where you'll get it."

"I'm not particular about it," he said. "I know about what that sort of
fishing is; sit on a bank or stand up to your waist in water all day, and
catch two little old four-ounce trout and a sunfish."

I jumped up.

"I guess I know more about this place than you do," I cried angrily. "You
come with me and I'll show you fish."

"Too sunny, isn't it?" he asked.

"Not for where I mean."

"Got an extra rod?"

"Yes; you can take my split bamboo--if you won't go and bust it."

"All right; if I break it I'll buy you another. Fish from the bank, do you?
or shall I put boots on?"

"Boots. Got any?"

"Yes. I'll go up and put them on. Take those books off with you, please.
You won't have time for studying before night."

"I won't then, either," I said.

"Well, anyhow, we won't leave them here. Let's keep the shop looking
ship-shape. By the way, it's a bit late, isn't it? How about lunch?"

"Take some grub with us. I'll tell Annie to put some up. I'll meet you on
the steps in ten minutes."

"All right; I'll be there. Er--Raymond!"

"Huh?" said I.

"You've forgotten the books."

"Oh, let 'em wait."

"All right." He sat down at the desk again.

"Ain't you going fishing?" I asked.

"No. I think not," he answered. "Somehow, while those books are here I feel
that we ought to stay at home and study. I dare say the fish will be there
to-morrow as well as to-day, eh?"

"Oh, all right," I said sulkily. "Only you can't make me study, you know."

I sat down and put my hands in my pockets. I looked at him out of the
corners of my eyes. He didn't seem to have heard me.

"Let's see," he said after a moment. "How many lines were we to have in
this?"

"I don't remember," I growled. Then I jumped up and grabbed the books. "You
make me sick," I said. "I'm going fishing."

I took the books out and slammed the door as hard as it would slam.

The day after we went fishing, and got fourteen trout, I had early
breakfast and rode Little Nell over to Harrisbridge and played pool with
Nate Golden, whose dad has the livery stable, all morning. We had dinner at
the inn, and when I got back it was nearly three o'clock. Tommy, the stable
boy, told me as I rode in that Twigg had left word he wanted to see me when
I got back. Well, I didn't want to see him. So I went in the kitchen way
and up the back stairs to my room. When I opened the door there was Twigg,
sitting in the rocker with the books all spread out on the center table.

"Hello," he said. "I'm making myself at home, you see. We're a bit late
with lessons, Raymond, so I thought we might have them up here; then we
won't interfere with your father's writing."

"I don't know 'em," I said.

"I'm afraid you haven't studied them. Never mind; when you get your boots
off we'll go over them together. Here, hold them up. There's no use
bothering with jacks when you've got some one to pull them off for you."

I let him do it. He sort of takes you by surprise sometimes and you don't
know just what to say or do. Afterwards I threw myself onto the bed and
lighted a cigarette. Twigg looked at me and raised his eyebrows.

"Don't smoke while lessons are going on, please," he said.

"Will if I like," I said.

"I'm afraid I can't have that."

"Well, if you don't like it you can lump it." But just the same I kept a
sharp eye on him.

"Well, you're the host up here," he answered calmly. "I suppose I must
consider that." Then what did he do but take out that reeking briar pipe of
his, ram it full of nasty strong tobacco and begin to smoke! "One thing at
a time, eh? We'll have a quiet smoke first and lessons afterwards. Tell me
what you've been doing."

"None of your darned business," I said warmly.

"I suppose it isn't." He took up a book, one of Marryat's, crossed his legs
and began to read. Gee! how that old pipe smelled! I laid on the bed and
watched him blowing big gray clouds out under the corner of his mustache.
When I'd smoked three cigarettes he looked over at me.

"Ready?" he asked.

"No, I'm not ready."

"Let me know when you are," he said. Then he filled the pipe again and went
on reading. After a bit I crawled off the bed. My head felt funny, and I
was almost choking with the smoke. He laid down the book and looked up at
me.

"Shall we begin?" he asked.

"I don't care what you do," I growled. "I'm going outdoors."

"Not yet," said he. He got up and locked the door and put the key in his
pocket. "You forget the lesson."

"You let me out, darn you!" I yelled. "I'm not going to study. You can keep
me here all night and I won't study. You see if I do!"

"Don't be silly," he said, just as though he were talking to a kid. "You
and I are going over those lessons if it takes to-night and to-morrow and
the rest of the week. When you're ready to begin let me know; I shan't ask
you again." And then he went back to that book.

After a while it began to get darkish. I went back to the bed and tried to
sleep, but I couldn't. I could have killed Twigg; but there wasn't any way
to do it. He kept on reading and smoking. About six o'clock he said:

"This is quite a yarn, isn't it? Somehow I never seemed to find time for
Marryat when I was a boy. You've read this, of course?"

"Yes," I muttered.

"Like it?"

"Yes."

"What's your favorite book?"

"I dunno; Froissart, I guess."

"Yes, that's a good one. Ever read 'Treasure Island'?"

"No; who's it by?"

"Stevenson; know him at all?"

"Did he write 'Tower of London' and those things?"

"No, he didn't. He wrote 'Kidnapped' and 'The Black Arrow' and 'David
Balfour,' and a lot of other bully ones."

"'Kidnapped'?" I said. "I'd like to read that. It sounds fine."

"I'll get it for you, if you like."

"You needn't; if I want it I can get it myself, I guess."

"Certainly."

About seven I began to get awfully hungry. Twigg lighted the gas and filled
his pipe again. It made me feel sick and funny inside just to see him do
it.

"You stop smoking that smelly thing in my room," I said.

"I beg your pardon, I'm sure," he said. "Just remember, however, that it
was I who objected to smoking in the first place." He put his pipe down.
There was a knock at the door and Annie asked if we were there.

"Yes, all right," Twigg said. "Please tell Mr. Dale that Raymond and I are
going to do some studying before dinner, and ask him not to wait."

"It's a lie!" I yelled. "He's locked me in. You tell my father he's locked
me in, and won't let me have any dinner. Do you hear, Annie?"

"Yes, Mr. Raymond." It sounded as though she was giggling.

"You might leave some cold meat and a pitcher of milk on the sideboard,
Annie; enough for two," said Twigg. "If we get through by nine we'll look
for it."

"Very well, sir," she answered.

"You--you think you're smart, don't you?" I sobbed. "I'll--I'll get even
for this, you bet!"

I don't care! I was hungry, and the wretched old tobacco smoke made me feel
funny. You'd have cried, too. He made believe he didn't hear me.

"You're just a big, ugly bully! If I was bigger I'd smash your face! Do you
hear me?"

"Yes, my boy, and----"

"I'm not your boy! I hate you, you--you----"

"And let me remind you that you're wasting time." He took out his watch.
"It's now a quarter after seven. If we're not through up here by nine,
there'll be no dinner for either of us."

"Glad of it! Hope you'll starve to death. I'm--I'm not hungry. I had dinner
at Harrisbridge with Nate Golden."

"Who's Nate Golden?" he asked.

"None of your business. If he was here I'd get him to lick you!"

"Lucky for me he isn't here, eh?" Then he went back to reading. I got
hungrier and hungrier and had little pains inside me. I put a pillow over
my head so he wouldn't hear me crying. Then, after a long while I got up
and went to the table and took up a book. He didn't pay any attention. I
went back and sat on the bed for a minute. Then I took up the book again
and threw it down so it would make a noise. He looked around.

"Ah, Raymond," he said, "all ready? Suppose we start with the Latin!"

There wasn't any use not studying, because he didn't play fair. No man has
any right to starve you. So I studied some every day after that. Old
Gabbett, the chap I had before Twigg, used to shrug his shoulders when I
wouldn't study, and tell me I was a good-for-nothing and would live to be
hung. Then he'd go off to his room and let me alone. Browning, the chap
before old Gab, used to get jolly mad and throw books at me, and swear to
beat the band. I used to swear back and call him Sissy. He was a Sissy; he
was about nineteen and didn't have any mustache or muscle, and he couldn't
do a thing except study and play patience. It was rather good fun, though,
getting him mad; it was mighty easy, too. But Twigg was different from any
of them. When he wasn't putting it onto me he wasn't such a bad sort--for a
tutor.

Anyhow, he wasn't a Sissy. He could catch fish and ride fine, and he could
beat me at target shooting with a .32 rifle. He told me one day that he was
stroke on his crew for two years. I guess that's where he got his big
shoulders and muscles. You ought to see his muscles. We went in swimming
one day and I saw them. I'll bet he was the strongest chap up our way.
After he had been there a couple of weeks he went to the city again; and I
read his diary. But there wasn't anything in it about me except one thing
which he had written on June 15th. It said:

"R.'s propensity for eavesdropping and similar ungentlemanly actions
renders it unadvisable to write anything here that I do not want read by
others. Were it not for the aforesaid propensity and one or two lesser
faults I could like the boy immensely. I have hopes, however, that when he
realizes how contemptible and petty these things are he will cease doing
them. He told me once that his favorite book was Froissart. I wonder if he
thinks Froissart was ever guilty of listening behind doors, spying into
others' diaries and swearing like a tough?"

Wonder how he knew?

       * * * * *

Two days after he went to town I met him going out of the house with some
golf sticks. I went along with him to the meadow and watched him hitting
the little white ball. After a bit he let me try it. It wasn't easy,
though, you bet! But when I'd sort of got the hang of it I could hit them
right well. He said I did bully and if I liked I could help him lay out a
nine-hole course the next afternoon and we'd have some games. So we did. We
paced off the distances between the holes and put up sticks with bits of
white cloth on them. The housekeeper gave us an old sheet. And the next day
we played a game. Of course he beat me. But he said I would make a good
player if I tried hard and kept at it. After that we used to play almost
every day, if it wasn't too hot. Only if I didn't have my lessons good he
wouldn't play.

One day I got behind the stone wall--we called it Stoney Bunker--and
couldn't get out, and said "darn." And Twigg picked up the balls and
started back to the house.

"Golf's a gentleman's game, Raymond," he said. "We'll wait until yon get
your temper back."

That made me mad and I swore some more. And there wasn't any more golf for
nearly a week. He won't get mad, too; that's what makes it so beastly. It
got pretty hot the last of the month and there wasn't much to do except lay
around and read. We had lessons before breakfast sometimes while it was
nice and cool on the veranda; and in the forenoon we went swimming. One day
he asked if I wanted him to read to me. I said he could if he liked. I
wanted him to, but I didn't want him to know it. So we sat on the lawn and
he read "Kidnapped," the book he'd spoken about. It was a Scotch story and
simply great. After that when the afternoons were too hot for golf or
riding he'd read.

I forgot to say that dad went away about the middle of the month and stayed
a week, I guess.

"Hello," said Twigg, "where are you going?"

"Oh, just for a ride," I said. He was on the porch and so I pulled Little
Nell up alongside the rail.

"All right; wait a minute, and I'll go along. Do you mind?"

"She doesn't like to stand," I muttered.

"She won't have to long." He grabbed the railing and vaulted over onto the
drive, and I saw that he had his riding breeches and boots on.

"All right," I said. "I'll wait here."

He nodded and went over to the stables. When he was out of sight I jammed
Little Nell with the spurs and tore down the drive lickety-cut. I was going
over to Harrisbridge to see Nate Golden, but I didn't want to tell Twigg
because he was so cranky; always trying to keep me at home. It was Sunday
morning, and kind of cloudy and sultry. When I got to the road I turned
Nell to the right before I remembered that I'd be in sight of the house for
a quarter of a mile. But I wasn't going to turn back then, so I made for
the beginning of the woods as fast as Nell could make it. I knew it would
take Twigg two or three minutes to saddle Sultan, and by that time I could
be out of reach.

But Twigg is always doing things you don't expect him to. When I got to the
edge of the woods I looked toward the house and what did I see but Twigg on
Sultan trying to head me off by riding across the meadow. Just as I looked
Sultan took the panel fence with a rush, got over finely and came
thundering across the turf.

"All right," I said to myself. "If it's a race you're after you can have it
with me now!"

Through the woods the road is a bit soft and spongy in places and so I
pulled Nell down a little. Then came a long hill; and by the time I was on
top of that I could hear Sultan rushing along behind. I gave Nell her head
then, for it was a good, solid road and straight as a die for over a mile.
She hadn't been out of the stall for two days, and maybe she didn't tear
things up! Pretty soon I looked back. There was Twigg and Sultan just
coming up over the hill. They'd gained some. I touched Nell with the spur
and she laid back her ears and just flew! That mile didn't last long, I
tell you. When I got to the Fork I switched off to the left toward
Harrisbridge; it was dusty, and I was pretty sure Twigg wouldn't know which
way I'd gone. The road wound sharp to the left and I'd be out of sight
before Twigg reached the Fork. Two or three minutes later I pulled up a bit
and listened. I couldn't hear a sound. I chuckled and let Nell come down to
a trot, thinking, of course, Twigg had kept the right-hand road and was
humping it away toward Evan's Mills. Then I got to thinking about it and
somehow I kind of wished I hadn't been so darned smart. It seemed sort of
mean because I'd said I'd wait for him and I hadn't. You see, Twigg had
such fool ideas on some things, like keeping his word to you and all that.
I had half a mind to turn around and go back and look for him. But just
then I heard a crashing in the brush on the left and looked back and there
was Twigg and Sultan trotting through the woods toward the road. He'd cut
the corner on me! I made believe I didn't see him, and pretty soon he rode
up to the stone wall and jumped Sultan over into the road almost beside me.

"Well," he said, smiling, "you gave me quite a run!"

"Yes; but I knew Nell could beat that beast and so I slowed down."

"That's all right, then. I thought at first you were trying to give me the
slip, but I knew you'd said you'd wait and so I concluded you wanted some
fun."

"Yes," I said.

"This is the Harrisbridge road, isn't it?" he asked.

"It goes to lots of places."

"Harrisbridge among them?"

"Yes."

"Then we can keep on, eh? We might call on that friend of yours; what's his
name? Nate something?"

"Nate Golden," I muttered.

"That's it. I suppose he'd be at home?"

"He doesn't like swells," I said.

"Am I a swell?"

"Yes, you are."

"And he wouldn't like me?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Oh, just because he wouldn't; that's why. I'm going back now."

"Very well; Harrisbridge some other day, Raymond."

We turned the nags and walked them back toward the country road. Nell was
puffing hard and Sultan was in a lather; he was a bit soft. Pretty soon
Twigg said:

"I'm going in to town to-morrow, Raymond; want to come along?"

"Yes," I said. Dad never would let me go to the city more than once in six
months.

"Good enough; glad to have you. I'm going to run out to college in the
afternoon to get some things from my trunk. Ever been out there?"

I shook my head.

"Maybe it'll interest you," he said. "I suppose you'll go there when you're
ready, eh?"

"Might as well go to one as another, I guess," said I.

"Perhaps; but I'd like you to go to mine," he answered, kind of gravely. "I
think it's a little better than the others, you see."

"I suppose you won't be there," I said, flicking Nell's ear with my crop.

"I'm not so sure," he said. "I'm trying for an instructorship. I get my Ph.
D. next year. Then I want to go to Germany for a year to study. You're
helping to pay for that," he said with a smile.

"I am?"

"Yes; the money I get for your tutoring is to go for that."

"Oh," I said. "Then--then you're coming back to college?"

"If they'll have me."

"Hope they won't," I said.

But I didn't.

The next Wednesday we had lessons after breakfast, because it was a good
deal cooler. Twigg said I had studied first rate, and if I liked we'd have
a go at golf. So we did. I beat him one up and two to play. I thought at
first he was just letting me win, but he wasn't. He didn't seem to be
thinking of golf and looked sort of sober all the way round. When we'd
finished he said:

"Raymond, I don't think I'll have an opportunity to use my clubs again this
summer, and so, if you'd like me to, I'll leave them here. I dare say you
could get some fun out of them. You could get a good deal of practice that
would help you a lot later on."

"Leave them?" I asked. "I--I didn't know you were going away."

"You forget that my month's up to-morrow," he answered quietly. "I was to
have a month in which to see what I could do. If by the end of that time I
had managed to get you in control I was to stay on. That was the agreement
with your father."

"Oh," I muttered. We were sitting under the big maple tree on the lawn. I
had an iron putter and was digging a hole in the turf.

"Yes," he continued, "to-morrow ends the present arrangement. I wish very
much that I could go to Mr. Dale and tell him that I had won. But I can't.
I haven't won, Raymond. I have gained ground, but the victory is still a
long way off."

"You--you've done better than the others," I muttered.

"Have I? Well, I'm glad of that; that's something, isn't it? No man likes
to acknowledge utter defeat; I'm certain I don't."

I dug away with the putter for a minute. Then I said:

"If I asked dad to let you stay, don't you think he would?"

"Perhaps; but I wouldn't want to."

"Oh, if you want to go away, all right," I grumbled.

"I meant that I wouldn't care to remain just because of a whim of yours. If
I believed that by staying I could accomplish something; if I thought that
you wanted me to stay, knowing that it meant hard study--much harder than
any you've been doing--and cheerful obedience; in short, Raymond, if I knew
that I could honestly earn my salary, I'd stay."

He took out his pipe and filled it. I shoved the earth back into the hole
in the turf. Nobody said anything for a while.

"I don't mind study--much," I said presently.

"It hasn't been hard yet," he answered.

"And I don't mind doing what you tell me to. You're--you're not like
Simpkins, Browning, and Gabbett."

"I haven't pulled on the curb yet," he said.

I started a new hole.

"There'd be no more Harrisbridge and Nate Golden," he said, after a bit,
watching the smoke from his pipe.

I stopped digging.

"No more cigarettes; pipes are better."

"Huh," I muttered.

"No more swearing; there'd be a fine for swearing."

"I--I wouldn't care," I said.

"Sure?"

"Sure!" I looked over at him. He was kind of smiling at me through the
smoke. I tried to grin back, but my face got the twitches and there was a
lump in my throat.

"You--you just stay here," I muttered.




A RACE WITH THE WATERS


Roy Milford pulled the brim of his faded sombrero further over his blue
eyes and urged Scamp into a trot, though it was broiling hot. Roy had left
the town two miles behind, and three more miles stretched between him and
home. From the cantle of his saddle hung the two paper parcels which, with
the mail in his pocket, explained his errand.

Not a breath of air stirred the dusty leaves of the cottonwoods along the
road. Roy was barely fourteen years old; but his six years in Colorado had
taught him what such weather foretold, and there were plenty of other signs
of the approaching storm. In the uncultivated fields the little mounds
before the prairie dog holes were untenanted; the silver poplars, weather
wise, were displaying the under sides of their gleaming leaves; the birds
were silent; and the still, oppressive air was charged with electricity.
But, most unmistakable sign of all, over the flat purple peaks of the Mesa
Grande, hung a long bank of sullen, blackish clouds. There was the storm,
already marshaling its forces. Roy was certain that, after the month of
rainless weather just passed, the coming deluge would be something to
wonder at.

Where the road crossed the railroad track Roy touched his buckskin pony
with the quirt and loped westward until he reached a rail gate leading into
an uncultivated field. Here he leaped nimbly out of the saddle, threw open
the gate, sent Scamp through with a pat on the shoulder, closed the bars
again, remounted, and trotted over the sun-cracked adobe. Two hundred yards
away a fringe of greasewood bushes marked what, at this distance, appeared
to be a water course. Such, in a way, it was. But Roy had never seen more
water in it than he could have jumped across. It was a narrow arroyo or
gully, varying in width from twelve to twenty feet, and averaging fifteen
feet in depth. It ran almost due north and south for a distance of five
miles, through a bare, level prairie tenanted only by roving cattle and
horses--if one excepts rabbits, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, owls, lizards,
and scorpions. There was no vegetation except grease-wood, cactus, and
sagebrush. In heavy rains or during sudden meltings of the snow back on the
mountains, each of several small gullies bore its share of water to the
junction at the beginning; of the arroyo, from whence it sped, tumbling and
churning through the miniature gorge, southward to the river.

To Roy, who loved adventure, the arroyo was ever a source of pleasure, with
its twilit depths and firm sandy bed. He knew every inch of it. Many were
the imaginary adventures he had gone through in its winding depths, now as
a painted Arapahoe on the warpath, now as a county sheriff on the trail of
murderous desperadoes, again as a mighty hunter searching the sandy floor
for the tracks of bears and mountain lions. He had found strange things in
the arroyo--rose-quartz arrow heads, notched like saws; an old, rusted
Colt's revolver, bearing the date 1858, and a picture of the holding up of
a stagecoach engraved around the chamber; queer, tiny shells of some long
gone fresh-water snail; bits of yellow pottery, their edges worn smooth and
round by the water; to say nothing of birds' nests, villages of ugly
water-white scorpions; and lizards, from the tiny ones that change their
color, chameleonlike, to "racers" well over a foot long.

From end to end of the arroyo there were but two places where it was
possible to enter or leave. Both of these had been made by cattle crossing
from side to side. One was just back of Roy's home and the other was nearly
two miles south. It was toward the latter that Roy was heading his horse.
He thought with pleasure of the comparative comfort awaiting him in the
shaded depths. Brushing the perspiration out of his eyes, he glanced
northward. Even as he looked the summits of the peaks were blurred from
sight by a dark gray veil of rain. Above, all was blackness save when for
an instant a wide, white sheet of lightning blazed above the mesa, and was
followed a moment later by the first tremendous roar of thunder. Scamp
pricked up his drooping ears and mended his pace.

"We are going to get good and wet before we get home," muttered Roy. "Come
on, Scamp!"

They reached the edge of the arroyo and the little pony, lurching from side
to side, clambered carefully down the narrow path to the bottom. Once
there, Roy used his quirt again, and the horse broke into a gallop that
carried them fast over the sandy bed. On both sides the walls of adobe and
yellow clay rose as straight as though of masonry. Along the brink grew
stunted bushes of greasewood and of sage. Here and there the tap root of a
greasewood was half exposed for its entire length, just as it had been left
by the falling earth. Many of these yellow-brown roots, tough as hempen
rope, descended quite to the bottom of the arroyo, for the greasewood
perseveres astonishingly in its search for moisture.

As Scamp hurried along the brown and gray lizards darted across his path,
and the mother scorpions, taking the air at the entrances of their holes,
scuttled out of sight. Roy took off his hat and let the little draught of
air that blew through the chasm dry the perspiration on face and hair.
Presently the sunlight above gave way to a sullen, silent shadow. The air
grew strangely quiet; even the lizards no longer moved. Roy gazed straight
upward into the slowly rolling depths of a dark cloud, and heartily wished
himself at home. He had seen many a storm; but the one that was approaching
now made him almost afraid. The little twigs of greasewood shivered and
bent, and a cool breath fanned his cheek. There came a great drop,
splashing against his bare brown hand; then another; then many, each
leaving a spot of moisture on the dry sand as big as a silver dollar. Roy
put his sombrero on and drew the string tightly back of his head. He
buttoned his blue-flannel shirt at the throat, patted Scamp encouragingly
on his reeking neck, and rode on.

For the last ten minutes the thunder had been roaring at intervals, drawing
nearer and nearer, and now it crashed directly overhead with a mighty sound
that shook the earth and sent Scamp bounding out of his path in terror.
Then down came the rain. It was as though a million buckets had been
emptied upon him; it fell in livid, hissing sheets and walls, taking
strange shapes, like pillars and columns that came from a dim nowhere and
rushed past him into the gray void behind. He was drenched ere he could
have turned in his saddle; his eyes were filled with rain, it ran dripping
from his soaking hat brim and coursed down his arms and chest and back. For
a moment even Scamp, experienced cow pony that he was, plunged and snorted
loudly, until Roy's voice shouted encouragement. Then he raced forward
again. But almost at once his gait shortened; the bed of the arroyo was
running with water and the softened sand made heavy going. Roy could
scarcely distinguish the walls on either side; but he knew that when the
storm had broken the path leading up out of the arroyo was about a half
mile ahead of him.

As suddenly as it had begun the deluge lessened. The walls, running with
mud, were crumbling and falling here and there in miniature landslides.
Scamp was plunging badly in the soft ground, and so Roy slowed him down to
a trot. He could not, he told himself grimly, get one speck wetter. There
was little use in hurrying. With sudden recollection of his bundles, Roy
glanced back. Only a wisp of wet brown paper sticking to the cantle
remained; the water had soaked the wrappings--baking powder, flavoring
extract, dried fruit, and all the rest of it, had utterly disappeared.

But Roy's regrets were cut short by Scamp. That animal suddenly stopped
short, pricked his ears forward, and showed every symptom of terror. Roy,
wondering, urged him onward. But two steps beyond the horse again stopped
and strove to turn. Roy quieted him and, peering forward up the gully,
through the driving mist of rain, tried to account for the animal's fright.
Was it a bear? he wondered. He knew that there were some in the foothills,
and it was quite possible that one had taken shelter here in the arroyo.
Then, as he looked, a roaring sound, which the boy had mistaken for the
beat of the rain, rose and grew in volume until it drowned the hissing of
the storm and filled the arroyo. Around a bend of the gully only a few
yards ahead came a wave of turbid, yellow water, bearing above it a great
rolling bank of white froth.

For an instant Roy gazed. Then, heart in mouth, he swung Scamp on his
haunches and tore madly back the way he had come. He knew on the instant
what had happened. There had been a cloud-burst on the mesa or among the
foothills, and all the little gullies had emptied their water into the
mouth of the arroyo. He knew also that if the flood caught him there
between those prisonlike walls he would be drowned like a rat. The nearest
place of refuge was a mile and a half away!

After the first moment of wild terror he grew calm. On his courage and
coolness rested his chance for life. He crouched far over the saddle horn
and lashed Scamp with the dripping quirt. Urging was unnecessary, for it
seemed the horse knew that Death was rushing along behind them. He raced as
Roy had never seen him run before. The walls rushed by, dim and misty. In a
minute Boy gathered courage to glance back over his shoulder. His heart
sank--only a yard or two behind them rushed the foam-topped wave. Here and
there the sides of the arroyo melted in the flood and toppled downward,
yards at a time, sending the yellow water high in air, but making no sound
above its roaring. Behind the first wave, perhaps a half hundred feet to
the rear, came a second, showing no froth on its crest, but higher and
mightier. And farther back the arroyo seemed filled almost to the tops of
the banks with the rushing waters. Roy used the quirt ruthlessly, searching
the banks as they sped by in the forlorn hope of finding some place that
would offer a means of egress, yet knowing well as he did so that the
nearest way out was still a full mile distant.

He wondered what death by drowning was like. Somewhere he had read that it
was painless and quick; but that was in a story. Then he wondered what his
mother would do without him to fetch the water from the cistern back of the
kitchen, and feed the chickens and look after the hives. He wondered, too,
if they would ever find his body--and Scamp's! The thought that poor,
gallant old Scamp must die too struck him as the hardest thing of all. He
loved Scamp as he loved none else save father and mother; they had had
their little disagreements, when Scamp refused to come to the halter in the
corral and had to be roped, but they always made up, with petting and sugar
beets from Roy and remorseful whinnies and lipping of the boy's cheek from
Scamp. And now Scamp must be drowned!

It was difficult going now, for the turbid stream reached above the horse's
knees; but the animal was mad with fright, and he plunged desperately
onward. Roy looked up toward the gray skies, through a world of gleaming
rain, and said both the prayers he knew. After that he felt better,
somehow, and when the second wave caught them, almost bearing Scamp from
his sturdy feet, he looked calmly about him, searching the uncertain
shadows which he knew were the walls of the chasm. He had made up his mind
to give Scamp a chance for life. He tossed aside his quirt, patted the wet
neck of the plunging animal and whispered a choking "Good-by." Then, as the
flood swept the horse from his feet and swung him sideways against one
wall, Roy kicked his feet from the stirrups and sprang blindly toward the
bank, clutching in space.

He struck against the soggy earth and, still clutching with his hands, sank
downward inch by inch, his crooked fingers bringing the moist clay with
them and his feet finding no lodgment. The water swept him outward then,
tearing at his writhing legs. Just as his last clutch failed him his other
hand encountered something that was not bare, crumbling earth, and held it
desperately. The flood buffeted him and tossed the lower half of his body
to and fro like a straw. The muddy water splashed into his face, blinding,
choking him. But the object within his grasp remained firm. For a moment he
swung there, gasping, with closed eyes. Then he blinked the water from his
lids and looked. His left hand was clutching the thick tap root of a
greasewood. In an instant he seized it with his other hand as well, and
looked about him. Scamp was no longer in sight. The water was rising
rapidly. The noise was terrific. All about him the walls, undermined by the
flood, were slipping down in wet, crumbling masses. He wondered if the root
would hold him, and prayed that it might. Then the water came up to his
breast, and he knew that if he were to save himself he must manage somehow
to crawl upward. Perhaps--perhaps he might even climb quite out of the
chasm! If only the earth and the root would hold!

Taking a deep breath he clutched the tap root a foot higher and tried his
weight upon it. It held like a rope. He pulled himself a foot higher from
the waters. Once more, and then he found that he had command of his legs
and could dig his feet into the unstable clay. Then, inch by inch, scarce
daring to hope, he pulled himself up, up until he was free of the flood and
between him and the ground above only a scant yard remained. Below him the
rushing torrents roared, as though angry at his escape, and tossed horrid
yellow spray upon him.

Once more he took fresh grip of the slippery root, watching anxiously the
low bush at the edge of the bank. Each moment he thought to see it give
toward him and send him tossing back into the water. But still it held. At
last, hours and hours it seemed since he had first begun his journey, his
hand clutched the edge of the bank, but the earth came away in wet handfuls
at every clutch. At length his fingers encountered a sprawling root or
branch, he knew not which, just beyond his sight; and, digging his toes
into the wall in a final despairing effort, he scrambled over the brink and
rolled fainting to the rain-soaked ground.

How long he lay there he never knew. But presently a tremor of the earth
roused him. Stumbling to his feet, he rushed away from the arroyo just as
the bank, for yards behind him, disappeared. After that he struggled onward
through the driving rain until he sank exhausted to the ground, burying his
head in his arms.

They found him there, hours afterwards, fast asleep, his wet clothes
steaming in the hot afternoon sunlight. They put him into the wagon of the
nearest rancher and jolted him home, his head in his father's lap and the
great horse blankets thrown over him, making him dream that he was a loaf
of bread in his mother's oven.

"When Scamp came in, wet and almost dead, we feared you were gone." They
were sitting about the supper table. Roy had told his story to a wondering
audience, and now, with his plate well filled with mother's best watermelon
preserve and citron cake, he was supremely contented, if somewhat tired and
sobered. His father continued, his rugged face working as he recalled the
anxiety of the day: "I can't see how that broncho ever got out of there
alive; can you, boys? And to think," he added wonderingly, "that it was the
root of a pesky greasewood bush that saved your life! Boy, I don't reckon
I'll ever have the heart again to grub one of 'em up!"




A COLLEGE SANTA CLAUSE


Satherwaite, '02, threw his overcoat across the broad mahogany table,
regardless of the silver and cut-glass furnishings, shook the melting
snowflakes from his cap and tossed it atop the coat, half kicked, half
shoved a big leathern armchair up to the wide fireplace, dropped himself
into it, and stared moodily at the flames.

Satherwaite was troubled. In fact, he assured himself, drawing his handsome
features into a generous scowl, that he was, on this Christmas eve, the
most depressed and bored person in the length and breadth of New England.
Satherwaite was not used to being depressed, and boredom was a state
usually far remote from his experience; consequently, he took it worse.
With something between a groan and a growl, he drew a crumpled telegram
from his pocket. The telegram was at the bottom of it all. He read it
again:

E. SATHERWAITE,

Randolph Hall, Cambridge.

Advise your not coming. Aunt Louise very ill.

Merry Christmas.

PHIL.

"' Merry Christmas!'" growled Satherwaite, throwing the offending sheet of
buff paper into the flames. "Looks like it, doesn't it? Confound Phil's
Aunt Louise, anyway! What business has she getting sick at Christmas time?
Not, of course, that I wish the old lady any harm, but it--it--well, it's
wretched luck."

When at college, Phil was the occupant of the bedroom that lay in darkness
beyond the half-opened door to the right. He lived, when at home, in a big,
rambling house in the Berkshires, a house from the windows of which one
could see into three states and overlook a wonderful expanse of wooded hill
and sloping meadow; a house which held, besides Phil, and Phil's father and
mother and Aunt Louise and a younger brother, Phil's sister. Satherwaite
growled again, more savagely, at the thought of Phil's sister; not, be it
understood, at that extremely attractive young lady, but at the fate which
was keeping her from his sight.

Satherwaite had promised his roommate to spend Christmas with him, thereby
bringing upon himself pained remonstrances from his own family,
remonstrances which, Satherwaite acknowledged, were quite justifiable. His
bags stood beside the door. He had spent the early afternoon very
pleasurably in packing them, carefully weighing the respective merits of a
primrose waistcoat and a blue-flannel one, as weapons wherewith to impress
the heart of Phil's sister. And now--!

He kicked forth his feet, and brought brass tongs and shovel clattering on
the hearth. It relieved his exasperation.

The fatal telegram had reached him at five o'clock, as he was on the point
of donning his coat. From five to six, he had remained in a torpor of
disappointment, continually wondering whether Phil's sister would care. At
six, his own boarding house being closed for the recess, he had trudged
through the snow to a restaurant in the square, and had dined miserably on
lukewarm turkey and lumpy mashed potatoes. And now it was nearly eight, and
he did not even care to smoke. His one chance of reaching his own home that
night had passed, and there was nothing for it but to get through the
interminable evening somehow, and catch an early train in the morning. The
theaters in town offered no attraction. As for his club, he had stopped in
on his way from dinner, and had fussed with an evening paper, until the
untenanted expanse of darkly furnished apartments and the unaccustomed
stillness had driven him forth again.

He drew his long legs under him, and arose, crossing the room and drawing
aside the deep-toned hangings before the window. It was still snowing.
Across the avenue, a flood of mellow light from a butcher's shop was thrown
out over the snowy sidewalk. Its windows were garlanded with Christmas
greens and hung with pathetic looking turkeys and geese. Belated shoppers
passed out, their arms piled high with bundles. A car swept by, its drone
muffled by the snow. The spirit of Christmas was in the very air.
Satherwaite's depression increased and, of a sudden, inaction became
intolerable. He would go and see somebody, anybody, and make them talk to
him; but, when he had his coat in his hands, he realized that even this
comfort was denied him. He had friends in town, nice folk who would be glad
to see him any other time, but into whose family gatherings he could no
more force himself to-night than he could steal. As for the men he knew in
college, they had all gone to their homes or to those of somebody else.

Staring disconsolately about the study, it suddenly struck him that the
room looked disgustingly slovenly and unkempt. Phil was such an untidy
beggar! He would fix things up a bit. If he did it carefully and
methodically, no doubt he could consume a good hour and a half that way. It
would then be half past nine. Possibly, if he tried hard, he could use up
another hour bathing and getting ready for bed.

As a first step, he removed his coat from the table, and laid it carefully
across the foot of the leather couch. Then he placed his damp cap on one
end of the mantel. The next object to meet his gaze was a well-worn
notebook. It was not his own, and it did not look like Phil's. The mystery
was solved when he opened it and read, "H.G. Doyle--College House," on the
fly leaf. He remembered then. He had borrowed it from Doyle almost a week
before, at a lecture. He had copied some of the notes, and had forgotten to
return the book. It was very careless of him; he would return it as soon
as--Then he recollected having seen Doyle at noon that day, coming from one
of the cheaper boarding houses. It was probable that Doyle was spending
recess at college. Just the thing--he would call on Doyle!

It was not until he was halfway downstairs that he remembered the book. He
went back for it, two steps at a time. Out in the street, with the fluffy
flakes against his face, he felt better. After all, there was no use in
getting grouchy over his disappointment; Phil would keep; and so would
Phil's sister, at least until Easter; or, better yet, he would get Phil to
take him home with him over Sunday some time. He was passing the shops now,
and stopped before a jeweler's window, his eye caught by a rather
jolly-looking paper knife in gun metal. He had made his purchases for
Christmas and had already dispatched them, but the paper knife looked
attractive and, if there was no one to give it to, he could keep it
himself. So he passed into the shop, and purchased it.

"Put it into a box, will you?" he requested. "I may want to send it away."

Out on the avenue again, his thoughts reverted to his prospective host. The
visit had elements of humor. He had known Doyle at preparatory school, and
since then, at college, had maintained the acquaintance in a casual way. He
liked Doyle, always had, just as any man must like an honest, earnest,
gentlemanly fellow, whether their paths run parallel or cross only at rare
intervals. He and Doyle were not at all in the same coterie, Satherwaite's
friends were the richest, and sometimes the laziest, men in college;
Doyle's were--well, presumably men who, like himself, had only enough money
to scrape through from September to June, who studied hard for degrees,
whose viewpoint of university life must, of necessity, be widely separated
from Satherwaite's. As for visiting Doyle, Satherwaite could not remember
ever having been in his room but once, and that was long ago, in their
Freshman year.

Satherwaite had to climb two flights of steep and very narrow stairs, and
when he stood at Doyle's door, he thought he must have made a mistake. From
within came the sounds of very unstudious revelry, laughter, a snatch of
song, voices raised in good-natured argument. Satherwaite referred again to
the fly leaf of the notebook; there was no error. He knocked and, in
obedience to a cheery "Come in!" entered.

He found himself in a small study, shabbily furnished, but cheerful and
homelike by reason of the leaping flames in the grate and the blue haze of
tobacco smoke that almost hid its farther wall. About the room sat six men,
their pipes held questioningly away from their mouths and their eyes fixed
wonderingly, half resentfully, upon the intruder. But what caught and held
Satherwaite's gaze was a tiny Christmas tree, scarcely three feet high,
which adorned the center of the desk. Its branches held toy candles, as yet
unlighted, and were festooned with strings of crimson cranberries and
colored popcorn, while here and there a small package dangled amidst the
greenery.

"How are you, Satherwaite?"

Doyle, tall, lank and near-sighted, arose and moved forward, with
outstretched hand. He was plainly embarrassed, as was every other occupant
of the study, Satherwaite included. The laughter and talk had subsided.
Doyle's guests politely removed their gaze from the newcomer, and returned
their pipes to their lips. But the newcomer was intruding, and knew it, and
he was consequently embarrassed. Embarrassment, like boredom, was a novel
sensation to him, and he speedily decided that he did not fancy it. He held
out Doyle's book.

"I brought this back, old man. I don't know how I came to forget it. I'm
awfully sorry, you know; it was so very decent of you to lend it to me.
Awfully sorry, really."

Doyle murmured that it didn't matter, not a particle; and wouldn't
Satherwaite sit down?

No, Satherwaite couldn't stop. He heard the youth in the faded
cricket-blazer tell the man next to him, in a stage aside, that this was
"Satherwaite, '02, an awful swell, you know." Satherwaite again declared
that he could not remain.

Doyle said he was sorry; they were just having a little--a sort of a
Christmas-eve party, you know. He blushed while he explained, and wondered
whether Satherwaite thought them a lot of idiots, or simply a parcel of
sentimental kids. Probably Satherwaite knew some of the fellows? he went
on.

Satherwaite studied the assemblage, and replied that he thought not, though
he remembered having seen several of them at lectures and things. Doyle
made no move toward introducing his friends to Satherwaite, and, to relieve
the momentary silence that followed, observed that he supposed it was
getting colder. Satherwaite replied, absently, that he hadn't noticed, but
that it was still snowing. The youth in the cricket-blazer fidgeted in his
chair. Satherwaite was thinking.

Of course, he was not wanted there; he realized that. Yet, he was of half a
mind to stay. The thought of his empty room dismayed him. The cheer and
comfort before him appealed to him forcibly. And, more than all, he was
possessed of a desire to vindicate himself to this circle of narrow-minded
critics. Great Scott! just because he had some money and went with some
other fellows who also had money, he was to be promptly labeled "snob," and
treated with polite tolerance only. By Jove, he would stay, if only to
punish them for their narrowness!

"You're sure I shan't be intruding, Doyle?" he asked.

Doyle gasped in amazement. Satherwaite removed his coat. A shiver of
consternation passed through the room. Then the host found his tongue.

"Glad to have you. Nothing much doing. Few friends, Quiet evening. Let me
take your coat."

Introductions followed. The man in the cricket-blazer turned out to be
Doak, '03, the man who had won the Jonas Greeve scholarship; a small youth
with eaglelike countenance was Somers, he who had debated so brilliantly
against Princeton; a much-bewhiskered man was Ailworth, of the Law School;
Kranch and Smith, both members of Satherwaite's class, completed the party.
Satherwaite shook hands with those within reach, and looked for a chair.
Instantly everyone was on his feet; there was a confused chorus of "Take
this, won't you?" Satherwaite accepted a straight-backed chair with part of
its cane seat missing, after a decent amount of protest; then a heavy,
discouraging silence fell. Satherwaite looked around the circle. Everyone
save Ailworth and Doyle was staring blankly at the fire. Ailworth dropped
his eyes gravely; Doyle broke out explosively with:

"Do you smoke, Satherwaite?"

"Yes, but I'm afraid--" he searched his pockets perfunctorily--"I haven't
my pipe with me." His cigarette case met his searching fingers, but somehow
cigarettes did not seem appropriate.

"I'm sorry," said Doyle, "but I'm afraid I haven't an extra one. Any of you
fellows got a pipe that's not working?"

Murmured regrets followed. Doak, who sat next to Satherwaite, put a hand in
his coat pocket, and viewed the intruder doubtingly from around the corners
of his glasses.

"It doesn't matter a bit," remarked Satherwaite heartily.

"I've got a sort of a pipe here," said Doak, "if you're not overparticular
what you smoke."

Satherwaite received the pipe gravely. It was a blackened briar, whose bowl
was burned halfway down on one side, from being lighted over the gas, and
whose mouthpiece, gnawed away in long usage, had been reshaped with a
knife. Satherwaite examined it with interest, rubbing the bowl gently on
his knee. He knew, without seeing, that Doak was eying him with mingled
defiance and apology, and wondering in what manner a man who was used to
meerschaums and gold-mounted briars would take the proffer of his worn-out
favorite; and he knew, too, that all the others were watching. He placed
the stem between his lips, and drew on it once or twice, with satisfaction.

"It seems a jolly old pipe," he said; "I fancy you must be rather fond of
it. Has anyone got any 'baccy?"

Five pouches were tendered instantly.

Satherwaite filled his pipe carefully. He had won the first trick, he told
himself, and the thought was pleasurable. The conversation had started up
again, but it was yet perfunctory, and Satherwaite realized that he was
still an outsider. Doyle gave him the opportunity he wanted.

"Isn't it something new for you to stay here through recess?" he asked.

Then Satherwaite told about Phil's Aunt Louise and the telegram; about his
dismal dinner at the restaurant and the subsequent flight from the tomblike
silence of the club; how he had decided, in desperation, to clean up his
study, and how he had come across Doyle's notebook. He told it rather well;
he had a reputation for that sort of thing, and to-night he did his best.
He pictured himself to his audience on the verge of suicide from
melancholia, and assured them that this fate had been averted only through
his dislike of being found lifeless amid such untidy surroundings. He
decked the narrative with touches of drollery, and was rewarded with the
grins that overspread the faces of his hearers. Ailworth nodded
appreciatingly, now and then, and Doak even slapped his knee once and
giggled aloud. Satherwaite left out all mention of Phil's sister,
naturally, and ended with:

"And so, when I saw you fellows having such a Christian, comfortable sort
of a time, I simply couldn't break away again. I knew I was risking getting
myself heartily disliked, and really I wouldn't blame you if you arose _en
masse_ and kicked me out. But I am desperate. Give me some tobacco from
time to time, and just let me sit here and listen to you; it will, be a
kindly act to a homeless orphan."

"Shut up!" said Doyle heartily; "we're glad to have you, of course." The
others concurred. "We--we're going to light up the tree after a bit. We do
it every year, you know. It's kind of--of Christmassy when you don't get
home for the holidays, you see. We give one another little presents
and--and have rather a bit of fun out of it. Only--" he hesitated
doubtfully--"only I'm afraid it may bore you awfully."

"Bore me!" cried Satherwaite; "why, man alive, I should think it would be
the jolliest sort of a thing. It's just like being kids again." He turned
and observed the tiny tree with interest.

"And do you mean that you all give one another presents, and keep it
secret, and--and all that?"

"Yes; just little things, you know," answered Doak deprecatingly.

"It's the nearest thing to a real Christmas that I've known for seven
years," said Ailworth gravely. Satherwaite observed him wonderingly.

"By Jove!" he murmured; "seven years! Do you know, I'm glad now I am going
home, instead of to Sterner's for Christmas. A fellow ought to be with his
own folks, don't you think?"

Everybody said yes heartily and there was a moment of silence in the room.
Presently Kranch, whose home was in Michigan, began speaking reminiscently
of the Christmases he had spent when a lad in the pine woods. He made the
others feel the cold and the magnitude of the pictures he drew, and, for a
space, Satherwaite was transported to a little lumber town in a clearing,
and stood by excitedly, while a small boy in jeans drew woolen
mittens--wonderful ones of red and gray--from out a Christmas stocking. And
Somers told of a Christmas he had once spent in a Quebec village; and
Ailworth followed him with an account of Christmas morning in a Maine-coast
fishing town.

Satherwaite was silent. He had no Christmases of his own to tell about;
they would have been sorry, indeed, after the others; Christmases in a big
Philadelphia house, rather staid and stupid days, as he remembered them
now, days lacking in any delightful element of uncertainty, but filled with
wonderful presents so numerous that the novelty had worn away from them ere
bedtime. He felt that, somehow, he had been cheated out of a pleasure which
should have been his.

The tobacco pouches went from hand to hand. Christmas-giving had already
begun; and Satherwaite, to avoid disappointing his new friends, had to
smoke many more pipes than was good for him. Suddenly they found themselves
in darkness, save for the firelight. Doyle had arisen stealthily and turned
out the gas. Then, one by one, the tiny candles flickered and flared bluely
into flame. Some one pulled the shades from before the two windows, and the
room was hushed. Outside they could see the flakes falling silently,
steadily, between them and the electric lights that shone across the
avenue. It was a beautiful, cold, still world of blue mists. A gong clanged
softly, and a car, well-nigh untenanted, slid by beneath them, its windows,
frosted halfway up, flooding the snow with mellow light. Some one beside
Satherwaite murmured gently:

"Good old Christmas!"

The spell was broken, Satherwaite sighed--why, he hardly knew--and turned
away from the window. The tree was brilliantly lighted now, and the strings
of cranberries caught the beams ruddily. Doak stirred the fire, and Doyle,
turning from a whispered consultation with some of the others, approached
Satherwaite.

"Would you mind playing Santa Claus--give out the presents, you know; we
always do it that way?"

Satherwaite would be delighted; and, better to impersonate that famous old
gentleman, he turned up the collar of his jacket, and put each hand up the
opposite sleeve, looking as benignant as possible the while.

"That's fine!" cried Smith; "but hold on, you need a cap!"

He seized one from the window seat, a worn thing of yellowish-brown otter,
and drew it down over Satherwaite's ears. The crowd applauded merrily.

"Dear little boys and girls," began Satherwaite in a quavering voice.

"No girls!" cried Doak.

"I want the cranberries!" cried Smith; "I love cranberries."

"I get the popcorn, then!" That was the sedate Ailworth.

"You'll be beastly sick," said Doak, grinning jovially through his glasses.

Satherwaite untied the first package from its twig. It bore the
inscription, "For Little Willie Kranch." Everyone gathered around while the
recipient undid the wrappings, and laid bare a penwiper adorned with a tiny
crimson football. Doak explained to Satherwaite that Kranch had played
football just once, on a scrub team, and had heroically carried the ball
down a long field, and placed it triumphantly under his own goal posts.
This accounted for the laughter that ensued.

"Sammy Doak" received a notebook marked "Mathematics 3a." The point of this
allusion was lost to Satherwaite, for Doak was too busy laughing to explain
it. And so it went, and the room was in a constant roar of mirth. Doyle was
conferring excitedly with Ailworth across the room. By and by, he stole
forward, and, detaching one of the packages from the tree, erased and wrote
on it with great secrecy. Then he tied it back again, and retired to the
hearth, grinning expectantly, until his own name was called, and he was
shoved forward to receive a rubber pen-holder.

Presently, Satherwaite, working around the Christmas tree, detached a
package, and frowned over the address.

"Fellows, this looks like--like Satherwaite, but--" he viewed the
assemblage in embarrassment--"but I fancy it's a mistake."

"Not a bit," cried Doyle; "that's just my writing."

"Open it!" cried the others, thronging up to him.

Satherwaite obeyed, wondering. Within the wrappers was a pocket memorandum
book, a simple thing of cheap red leather. Some one laughed uncertainly.
Satherwaite, very red, ran his finger over the edges of the leaves,
examined it long, as though he had never seen anything like it before, and
placed it in his waistcoat pocket.

"I--I--" he began.

"Chop it off!" cried some one joyously.

"I'm awfully much obliged to--to whoever--"

"It's from the gang," said Doyle.

"With a Merry Christmas," said Ailworth.

"Thank you--gang," said Satherwaite.

The distribution went on, but presently, when all the rest were crowding
about Somers, Satherwaite whipped a package from his pocket and, writing on
it hurriedly, was apparently in the act of taking it from the tree, when
the others turned again.

"Little Harry Doyle," he read gravely.

Doyle viewed the package in amazement. He had dressed the tree himself.

"Open it up, old man!"

When he saw the gun-metal paper knife, he glanced quickly at Satherwaite.
He was very red in the face. Satherwaite smiled back imperturbably. The
knife went from hand to hand, awakening enthusiastic admiration.

"But, I say, old man, who gave--?" began Smith.

"I'm awfully much obliged, Satherwaite," said Doyle, "but, really, I
couldn't think of taking--"

"Chop it off!" echoed Satherwaite. "Look here, Doyle, it isn't the sort of
thing I'd give you from choice; it's a useless sort of toy, but I just
happened to have it with me; bought it in the square on the way to give to
some one, I didn't know who, and so, if you don't mind, I wish you'd accept
it, you know. It'll do to put on the table or--open cans with. If you'd
rather not take it, why, chuck it out of the window!"

"It isn't that," cried Doyle; "it's only that it's much too fine----"

"Oh, no, it isn't," said Satherwaite. "Now, then, where's 'Little Alfie
Ailworth'?"

Small candy canes followed the packages, and the men drew once more around
the hearth, munching the pink and white confectionery enjoyingly. Smith
insisted upon having the cranberries, and wore them around his neck. The
popcorn was distributed equally, and the next day, in the parlor car,
Satherwaite drew his from a pocket together with his handkerchief.

Some one struck up a song, and Doyle remembered that Satherwaite had been
in the Glee Club. There was an instant clamor for a song, and Satherwaite,
consenting, looked about the room.

"Haven't any thump box," said Smith. "Can't you go it alone?"

Satherwaite thought he could, and did. He had a rich tenor voice, and he
sang all the songs he knew. When it could be done, by hook or by crook, the
others joined in the chorus; not too loudly, for it was getting late and
proctors have sharp ears. When the last refrain had been repeated for the
third time, and silence reigned for the moment, they heard the bell in the
near-by tower. They counted its strokes; eight--nine--ten--eleven--twelve.

"Merry Christmas, all!" cried Smith.

In the clamor that ensued, Satherwaite secured his coat and hat. He shook
hands all around. Smith insisted upon sharing the cranberries with him, and
so looped a string gracefully about his neck. When Satherwaite backed out
the door he still held Doak's pet pipe clenched between his teeth, and
Doak, knowing it, said not a word.

"Hope you'll come back and see us," called Doyle.

"That's right, old man, don't forget us!" shouted Ailworth.

And Satherwaite, promising again and again not to, stumbled his way down
the dark stairs.

Outside, he glanced gratefully up at the lighted panes. Then he grinned,
and, scooping a handful of snow, sent it fairly against the glass.
Instantly, the windows banged up, and six heads thrust themselves out.

"Good night! Merry Christmas, old man! Happy New Year!"

Something smashed softly against Satherwaite's cheek. He looked back. They
were gathering snow from the ledges and throwing snowballs after him.

"Good shot!" he called. "Merry Christmas!"

The sound of their cries and laughter followed him far down the avenue.




THE TRIPLE PLAY


"If they hadn't gone and made Don captain last year," said Satterlee, 2d,
plaintively. "That's where the trouble is."

"How do you mean?" asked Tom Pierson, looking up in a puzzled way from the
hole he was digging in the turf in front of the school hall.

"Why," answered Satterlee, 2d, with a fine air of wisdom, "I mean that it
doesn't do for a fellow to have his brother captain. Don's been so afraid
of showing me favoritism all spring that he hasn't given me even a fair
chance. When I came out for the nine in March and tried for second he was
worried to death. "Look here, Kid," he said, "there's no use your wanting
to play on second because there's Henen and Talbot after it." "Well, how do
you know I can't play second as well as they?" says I. He was--was
horrified. That's it; a fellow can't understand how a member of his own
family can do anything as well as some one else. See what I mean?"

Tom Pierson nodded doubtfully.

"'You try for a place in the outfield,' said Don. 'But I don't want to play
in the outfield.' I told him. But it didn't make any difference. 'There's
three fellows for every infield position.' said Don, 'and I'm not going to
have the fellows accuse me of boosting my kid brother over their heads.'
Well, so I did as he said. Of course I didn't have any show. There was
Williams and Beeton and 'Chick' Meyer who could do a heap better than I
could. They'd played in the outfield ail their lives and I'd always been at
second--except one year that I caught when I was a kid. Well, maybe next
year I'll have a better show, for a whole lot of this year's team graduate
to-morrow. Wish I did."

"I don't," said Tom. "I like it here. I think Willard's the best school in
the country."

"So do I, of course," answered Satterlee, 2d. "But don't you want to get up
to college?"

"I'm in no hurry; you see, there's math; I'm not doing so badly at it now
since Bailey has been helping me, but I don't believe I could pass the
college exam in it."

"You and 'Old Crusty' seem awfully thick these days," mused the other.
"Wish he'd be as easy on me as he is on you. You were fishing together
yesterday, weren't you?"

Tom nodded. "Sixteen trout," he said promptly.

"Wish I'd been along," sighed Satterlee, 2d. "All I caught was flies during
practice. Then when they played the second I sat on the bench as usual and
looked on."

"But Don will put you in this afternoon, won't he?"

"I dare say he will; for the last inning maybe. What good's that? Nothing
ever happens to a chap in center field. And when a fellow's folks come to
visit him he naturally wants to--to show off a bit."

Tom nodded sympathetically.

"Hard lines," he said. "But why don't you ask your brother to give you a
fair show; put you in the sixth or something like that?"

"Because I won't. He doesn't think I can play baseball. I don't care. Only
I hope--I hope we get beaten!"

"No, you don't."

"How do you know?" asked the other morosely.

"Because you couldn't," Tom replied. "Is 'Curly' going to pitch?"

"No, Durham's agreed not to play any of her faculty. Willings is going to
pitch. I'll bet"--his face lost some of its gloom--"I'll bet it will be a
dandy game!"

"Who's going to win?" asked Tom anxiously.

"You can search me!" answered Satterlee, 2d, cheerfully. "Durham's lost
only two games this season, one to St. Eustace and one to us. And we've
lost only the first game with Durham. There you are, Tommy; you can figure
it out for yourself. But we won last year and it's safe to say Durham's
going to work like thunder to win this. What time is it?"

"Twenty minutes to twelve," answered Tom.

"Gee! I've got to find Don and go over to the station to meet the folks.
Want to come along? Dad and the mater would like to meet you; you see I've
said a good deal about you in my letters."

"Won't I be in the way?"

"Not a bit. In fact--" Satterlee, 2d, hesitated and grinned--"in fact, it
would make it more comfortable if you would come along. You see, Tom, Don
and I aren't very chummy just now; I--I gave him a piece of my mind last
night; and he threw the hairbrush at me." He rubbed the side of his head
reflectively. Tom laughed and sprang to his feet.

"All right," he said. "I'll go, if just to keep you two from fighting.
We'll have to hurry, though; you don't want to forget that dinner's half an
hour earlier to-day."

"Guess you never knew me to forget dinner time, did you?" asked Satterlee,
2d, with a laugh.

Three hours later the two boys sat nursing their knees on the terrace above
the playground. Behind them in camp chairs sat Mr. and Mrs. Satterlee. To
right and left stretched a line of spectators, the boys of Willard's and of
Durham surrounded by their friends and relatives. Tomorrow was graduation
day at the school and mothers and fathers and sisters and elder
brothers--many of the latter "old boys"--were present in numbers. At the
foot of the terrace, near first base, a red and white striped awning had
been erected and from beneath its shade the principal, Doctor Willard,
together with the members of the faculty and their guests, sat and watched
the deciding game of the series. The red of Willard's was predominant, but
here and there a dash of blue, the color of the rival academy, was to be
seen. On a bench over near third base a line of blue-stockinged players
awaited their turns at bat, for it was the last half of the third inning
and Willard's was in the field. Behind the spectators arose the ivy-draped
front of the school hall and above them a row of elms cast grateful shade.
Before them, a quarter of a mile distant, the broad bosom of the river
flashed and sparkled in the afternoon sunlight. But few had eyes for that,
for Durham had two men on bases with two out and one of her heavy hitters
was at bat. Thus far there had been no scoring and now there was a
breathless silence as Willings put the first ball over the plate.

"Strike!" droned the umpire, and a little knot of boys on the bank waved
red banners and cheered delightedly. Then ball and bat came together and
the runner was speeding toward first. But the hit had been weak and long
before he reached the bag the ball was snuggling in Donald Satterlee's
mitten, and up on the terrace the Willardians breathed their relief. The
nines changed sides.

"That's Fearing, our catcher, going to bat, sir," said Satterlee, 2d,
looking around at his father. Mr. Satterlee nodded and transferred his
wandering attention to the youth in question. Mr. Satterlee knew very
little about the game and was finding it difficult to display the proper
amount of interest. Mrs. Satterlee, however, smiled enthusiastically at
everything and everybody and succeeded in conveying the impression that she
was breathlessly interested in events.

"Er--is he going to hit the ball?" asked Mr. Satterlee in a heroic endeavor
to rise to the requirements of the occasion.

"He's going to try," answered his youngest son with a smile. "But he isn't
going to succeed, I guess," he muttered a minute later. For the catcher had
two strikes called on him and was still at the plate. Then all doubt was
removed. He tossed aside his bat and turned back to the bench.

"And who is that boy?" asked Mrs. Satterlee.

"That's Cook," answered Tom. "He plays over there, you know; he's
shortstop."

"Of course," murmured the lady. "I knew I had seen him."

Cook reached first, more by good luck than good playing, and the Willard
supporters found their voices again. Then came Brown, third base-man, and
was thrown out at first after having advanced Cook to second.

"Here comes Don," announced his younger brother with a trace of envy in his
tones.

"I do hope he'll hit the ball!" cried his mother.

"Oh, he'll hit it all right," answered Satterlee, 2d, "only maybe he won't
hit it hard enough."

Nor did he. Durham's third baseman gathered in the short fly that the
batsman sent up and so ended the inning.

"Something's going to happen now, I'll bet," said Tom. "Carpenter's up."

"He didn't do much last time," objected Satterlee, 2d, "even if he is such
a wonder. Willings struck him out dead easy."

Carpenter, who played third base for the visitors, was a tall, light-haired
youth with a reputation for batting prowess. In the first game of the
series between the two schools Carpenter's hitting had been the deciding
feature. Three one-baggers, a two-bagger, and a home-run had been credited
to him when the game was over, and it was the home-run, smashed out with a
man on third in the eighth inning, which had defeated Willard's. In the
second game, played a fortnight ago, Carpenter had been noticeably out of
form, which fact had not a little to do with Willard's victory. To-day the
long-limbed gentleman, despite his retirement on the occasion of his first
meeting with Willings, was in fine fettle, and scarcely had Satterlee, 2d,
concluded his remark when there was a sharp _crack_ and the white sphere
was skimming second baseman's head. It was a clean, well-placed hit, and
even the wearers of the blue had to applaud a little. Carpenter's long legs
twinkled around the bases and he was safe at third before the ball had
returned to the infield. Then things began to happen. As though the spell
had been broken by the third baseman's three-bagger, the following
Durhamites found the ball, man after man, and ere the inning was at an end,
the score book told a different tale. On Durham's page stood four tallies;
Willard's was still empty. And Willard's supporters began to look uneasy.
Then there was no more scoring until the sixth inning, when a single by
Donald Satterlee brought in Cook who had been taking big risks on second
and who reached the plate a fraction of a second ahead of the ball.
Willard's got the bases full that inning and for a time it seemed that they
would tie the score, but Beeton popped a fly into shortstop's hands and
their hopes were dashed.

Durham started their half of the sixth with Carpenter up and that
dependable youth slammed out a two-base hit at once. The flaunters of the
red groaned dismally. Then the Durham pitcher fouled out and the next man
advanced Carpenter but was put out at first. Willard's breathed easier and
took hope. Over on third base Carpenter was poised, ready to speed home as
fast as his long legs would carry him. Willings, who had so far pitched a
remarkable game, suddenly went "into the air." Perhaps it was the coaching
back of third, perhaps it was Carpenter's disconcerting rushes and
hand-clapping. At all events, the Durham first baseman, who was a
cool-headed youth, waited politely and patiently and so won the privilege
of trotting to first on four balls. Fearing, Willard's catcher, walked down
to Willings, and the two held a whispered conversation. They didn't lay any
plots, for all Fearing wanted to do was to steady the pitcher.

Then came a strike on the next batsman, and the Willardians cheered
hopefully. Two balls followed, and Carpenter danced about delightedly at
third and the two coaches hurled taunting words at the pitcher. The man on
first was taking a long lead, pretty certain that Willings would not dare
to throw lest Carpenter score. But Willings believed in doing the
unexpected. Unfortunately, although he turned like a flash and shot the
ball to Satterlee, the throw was wide. The captain touched it with his
outstretched fingers but it went by. The runner sped toward second and
Carpenter raced home. But Beeton, right-fielder, had been wide-awake. As
Willings turned he ran in to back up Satterlee, found the ball on a low
bounce and, on the run, sent it to the plate so swiftly that Fearing was
able to catch Carpenter a yard away from it. The Durham third baseman
picked himself up, muttering his opinion of the proceedings and looking
very cross. But what he said wasn't distinguishable, for up on the terrace
the red flags were waving wildly and the boys of Willard's were shouting
themselves hoarse.

When, in the beginning of the seventh inning, Durham took the field and
Willings went to bat, Captain Don Satterlee came up the bank and threw
himself on the grass by his father's side. He looked rather worried and
very warm.

"Well, my boy," said Mr. Satterlee, "I guess you're in for a licking this
time, eh?"

"I'm afraid so," was the morose reply. "We can't seem to find their pitcher
for a cent." He turned to his brother. "I'll put you in for the ninth, if
you like," he said.

"Oh, don't trouble yourself," answered the other. "You've got along without
me so far and I guess you can finish."

"Well, you needn't be so huffy," answered the elder. "You can play or not,
just as you like. But you don't have to be ugly about it."

"I'm not," muttered Satterlee, 2d.

"Sounds mighty like it. Want to play?"

The other hesitated, swallowed once or twice and kicked the turf with his
heel.

"Of course he wants to play, Don," said Tom Pierson. "Give him a chance,
like a good chap."

"Well, I've offered him a chance, haven't I?" asked Don ungraciously. "I
guess it doesn't make much difference who plays this game." He scowled at
Willings who had been thrown out easily at first and was now discouragedly
walking back to the bench. "You can take Williams's place when the ninth
begins," he added, turning to his brother. The latter nodded silently. A
slightly built, sandy-haired man, with bright blue eyes and a look of
authority, approached the group and Don, with a muttered apology, joined
him.

"That's our coach," explained Tom to Mrs. Satterlee. "He's instructor in
Greek and German, and he's a peach! The fellows call him 'Curly' on account
of his hair. He pitched for us last year and he won the game, too! I guess
he and Don are trying to find some way out of the hole they're in. If
anyone can do it he can, can't he?"

Thus appealed to, Satterlee, 2d, came out of his reverie.

"Yes, I guess so. I wish he was pitching, that's all I wish! I'll bet
Carpenter wouldn't make any more of those hits of his!"

Willard's third out came and once more the teams changed places. The sun
was getting low and the shadows on the terrace were lengthening. Durham
started out with a batting streak and almost before anyone knew it the
bases were full with but one out. Then, just when things were at their
gloomiest, a short hit to second baseman resulted in a double play, and
once more Willard's found cause for delight and acclaim.

The eighth inning opened with Don Satterlee at bat. Luck seemed for a
moment to have made up its mind to favor the home team. An in-shoot caught
the batsman on the thigh and he limped to first. Meyer--"Chick" Meyer, as
Tom triumphantly explained--sent him to second and gained first for
himself, owing to an error. Then came an out. Beeton followed with a
scratch hit just back of shortstop and the bases were full. Up on the
terrace the cheering was continuous. Williams was struck out. Then came
Willings with a short hit past third and Don scored. And the bases were
still full. But the next man flied out to left fielder and the cheering
died away. But 2 to 4 was better than 1 to 4, and the supporters of the
home team derived what comfort they could from the fact.

In the last of the eighth, the doughty Carpenter started things going by
taking first on balls. It was apparent that "Willings had given it to him"
rather than risk a long hit. The next man was less fortunate and was thrown
out after a neat sacrifice which put Carpenter on second. Then a pop-fly
was muffed by Willings and there were men on first and second. But after
that Willings, as though to atone for an inexcusable error, settled down to
work and struck out the next two Durhamites, and the red flags were
suddenly crazy.

Satterlee, 2d, peeled off his sweater and trotted down to the bench. The
ninth inning opened inauspiciously for the home nine. Willard's shortstop
fell victim to the rival pitcher's curves and third baseman took his place.
With two strikes called on him he found something he liked and let go at
it. When the tumult was over he was sitting on second base. Don Satterlee
stepped up to the plate and the cheerers demanded a home-run. But the best
the red's captain could do was a clean drive into right field that was good
for one base for himself and a tally for the man on second. That made the
score 3 to 4. It seemed that at last fortune was to favor the red. The
cheering went on and on. Meyer sent the captain to second but was thrown
out at first. Another tally would tie the score, but the players who were
coming to bat were the weakest hitters, and Willard's hopes began to
dwindle. But one can never tell what will happen in baseball, and when
Fearing lined out a swift ball over second baseman's head and Don Satterlee
romped home, the wearers of the red shrieked in mingled delight and
surprise. The score was tied. But there was more to come. Beeton waited,
refusing all sorts of tempting bait, and during that waiting Fearing stole
second. With three balls and two strikes called on him, Beeton let the next
one go by, and----

"Four balls!" decided the umpire.

Satterlee, 2d, felt rather limp when he faced the pitcher. His heart was
pounding somewhere up near his mouth and it made him feel uncomfortable.
Down on second Fearing was watching him anxiously. On first Beeton was
dancing back and forth, while behind him Brother Don coaching hoarsely and
throwing doubtful glances in the direction of the plate.

"He thinks I can't hit," thought Satterlee, 2d, bitterly. "He's telling
himself that if he'd left Williams in we might have tallied again."

Satterlee, 2d, smarting under his brother's contempt, felt his nerves
steady and when the second delivery came he was able to judge it and let it
go by. That made a ball and a strike. Then came another ball. They had told
him to wait for a good one, and he was going to do it. And presently the
good one came. The pitcher had put himself in a hole; there were three
balls against him and only one strike. So now he sent a swift straight one
for a corner of the plate and Satterlee, 2d, watched it come and then swung
to meet it. And in another moment he was streaking for his base, while out
back of shortstop the left fielder was running in as fast as he might. And
while he ran Fearing and Beeton were flying around the bases. The ball came
to earth, was gathered up on its first bound and sped toward the plate. But
it reached the catcher too late, for Fearing and Beeton had tallied. And
down at second a small youth was picking himself out of the dust. But
Satterlee never got any farther, for the next man struck out. No one seemed
to care, however, except Satterlee, for the score had changed to 6-4, and
the 6 was Willard's!

But there was still a half inning to play and Durham had not lost hope. Her
center fielder opened up with a hit and a moment later stole second. Then
came a mishap. Willings struck the batsman and, although Fearing claimed
that the batsman had not tried to avoid the ball, he was given his base.

Things looked bad. There on second and first were Durham runners and here,
stepping up to the plate with his bat grasped firmly in his hands, was
Carpenter, and there was none out. A two-base hit would surely tie the
score, while one of the home-runs of which Carpenter was believed to be
capable--such a one as he made in the first game of the series--would send
Willard's into mourning.

The terrace was almost deserted, for the spectators were lined along the
path to first base and beyond. Don was crying encouragement to his players,
but from the way in which he moved restively about it could be seen that he
was far from easy in his mind. As for Satterlee, 2d--well, he was out in
center field, hoping for a chance to aid in warding off the defeat that
seemed inevitable, but fearing that his usefulness was over. Willings
turned and motioned the fielders back, and in obedience Satterlee, 2d,
crept farther out toward the edge of the field. But presently, when a ball
had been delivered to the batsman, Satterlee, 2d, quite unconsciously,
moved eagerly, anxiously in again, step by step. Then came a strike and
Carpenter tapped the plate with the end of his bat and waited calmly.
Another ball. Then a second strike. And for a brief moment Willard's
shouted hoarsely. And then----

Then there was a sharp sound of bat meeting ball and Carpenter was on his
way to first. The ball was a low fly to short center field and it was
evident that it would land just a little way back of second base. Neither
Carpenter nor the runners on first and second dreamed for a moment that it
could be caught. The latter players raced for home as fast as their legs
would take them.

Meanwhile in from center sped Satterlee, 2d. He could run hard when he
tried and that's what he did now. He was almost too late--but not quite.
His hands found the ball a bare six inches above the turf. Coming fast as
he was he had crossed second base before he could pull himself up.

From all sides came wild shouts, instructions, commands, entreaties, a
confused medley of sounds. But Satterlee, 2d, needed no coaching. The
runner from second had crossed the plate and the one from first was
rounding third at a desperate pace, head down and arms and legs twinkling
through the dust of his flight. Now each turned and raced frantically back,
dismay written on their perspiring faces. But Satterlee, 2d, like an
immovable Fate, stood in the path. The runner from first slowed down
indecisively, feinted to the left and tried to slip by on the other side.
But the small youth with the ball was ready for him and had tagged him
before he had passed. Then Satterlee, 2d, stepped nimbly to second base,
tapped it with his foot a moment before the other runner hurled himself
upon it, tossed the ball nonchalantly toward the pitcher's box and walked
toward the bench. The game was over.

But he never reached the bench that day. On the way around the field he
caught once a fleeting vision of Brother Don's red, grinning countenance
beaming commendation, and once a glimpse of the smiling faces of his father
and mother. He strove to wave a hand toward the latter, but as it almost
cost him his position on the shoulders of the shrieking fellows beneath, he
gave it up. Social amenities might wait; at present he was tasting the joys
of a victorious Caesar.




THE DUB


"BRIGGS, Bayard Newlyn, Hammondsport, Ill., I L, H 24."

That's the way the catalogue put it. Mostly, though, he was called "Bi"
Briggs. He was six feet and one inch tall and weighed one hundred and
ninety-four pounds, and was built by an all-wise Providence to play guard.
Graduate coaches used to get together on the side line and figure out what
we'd do to Yale if we had eleven men like Bi.

Then after they'd watched Bi play a while they'd want to kick him.

He got started all wrong, Bi did. He came to college from a Western
university and entered the junior class. That was his first mistake. A
fellow can't butt in at the beginning of the third year and expect to trot
even with fellows who have been there two years. It takes a chap one year
to get shaken down and another year to get set up. By the time Bi was
writing his "life" he had just about learned the rules.

His second mistake was in joining the first society that saw his name in
the catalogue. It was a poor frat, and it queered Bi right away. I guess he
made other mistakes, too, but those were enough.

In his junior year Bi was let alone. He was taking about every course any
of us had ever heard of--and several we hadn't--and had no time for
football. We got licked for keeps that fall, and after the _Crimson_ and
the _Bulletin_ and the _Graduates' Magazine_ and the newspapers had shown
us just what ailed our system of coaching, we started to reorganize things.
We hadn't reorganized for two years, and it was about time. The new coach
was a chap who hadn't made the Varsity when he was in college, but who was
supposed to have football down to a fine point; to hear the fellows tell
about the new coach made you feel real sorry for Walter Camp. Well, he
started in by kidnaping every man in college who weighed over a hundred and
sixty-five. Bi didn't escape. Bi had played one year in the freshwater
college at left tackle and knew a touchdown from a nose-guard, and that was
about all. Bi was for refusing to have anything to do with football at
first; said he was head-over-ears in study and hadn't the time. But they
told him all about his Duty to his College and Every Man into the Breach,
and he relented. Bi was terribly good-natured. That was the main trouble
with him.

The fellows who did football for the papers fell in love with him on the
spot. He was a good-looker, with sort of curly brown hair, nice eyes, a
romantic nose, and cheeks like a pair of twenty-four-dollar American
Beauties, and his pictures looked fine and dandy in the papers. "Bayard
Briggs, Harvard's new candidate for guard, of whom the coaches expect great
things." That's the way they put it. And they weren't far wrong. The
coaches did expect great things from Bi; so did the rest of us. When they
took Bi from the second and put him in at right guard on the Varsity we all
approved.

But there was trouble right away. Bi didn't seem to fit. They swapped him
over to left guard, then they tried him at right tackle, then at right
guard again. Then they placed him gently but firmly back on the second. And
Bi was quite happy and contented and disinterested during it all. _He_
didn't mind when six coaches gathered about him and demanded to know what
was the matter with him. He just shook his head and assured them
good-naturedly that he didn't know; and intimated by his manner that he
didn't care. When he came back to the second he seemed rather glad; I think
he felt as though he had got back home after a hard trip. He stayed right
with us all the rest of the season.

I think the trouble was that Bi never got it fully into his fool head that
it wasn't just fun--like puss-in-the-corner or blind-man's-buff. If you
talked to him about Retrieving Last Year's Overwhelming Defeat he'd smile
pleasantly and come back with some silly remark about Political Economy or
Government or other poppycock. I fancy Bi's father had told him that he was
coming to college to study, and Bi believed him.

Of course, he didn't go to New Haven with us, He didn't have time. I wished
afterwards that I hadn't had time myself. Yale trimmed us 23 to 6.

The papers threshed it all out again, and all the old grads who weren't too
weak to hold pens wrote to the _Bulletin_ and explained where the trouble
lay. It looked for a while like another reorganization, but Cooper, the new
captain, was different. He didn't get hysterical. Along about Christmas
time, after everyone had got tired of guessing, he announced his new coach.
His name was Hecker, and he had graduated so far back that the _Crimson_
had to look up its old files to find out who he was. He had played right
half two years, it seemed, but hadn't made any special hit, and Yale had
won each year. The _Herald_ said he was a successful lawyer in Tonawanda,
New York. He didn't show up for spring practice; couldn't leave his work,
Cooper explained. Bi didn't come out either. He couldn't leave _his_ work.
At the end of the year he graduated _summa cum laude_, or something like
that, and the _Crimson_ said he was coming back to the Law School and would
be eligible for the team. Just as though it mattered.

We showed up a week before college began and had practice twice a day. At
the end of that week we knew a whole lot about Hecker. He was about
thirty-six, kind of thin, wore glasses, and was a terror for work. When we
crawled back to showers after practice we'd call him every name we could
think of. And half an hour later, if we met him crossing the Square, we'd
be haughty and stuck-up for a week if he remembered our names. He was a
little bit of all right, was Hecker. He was one of the quiet kind. He'd
always say "please," and if you didn't please mighty quick you'd be sitting
on the bench all nicely snuggled up in a blanket before you knew what had
struck you. That's the sort of Indian Hecker was, and we loved him.

Ten days after college opened we had one hundred and twenty men on the
field. If Hecker heard of a likely chap and thought well of his looks, it
was all up with Mr. Chap. He was out on the gridiron biting holes in the
sod before he knew it. That's what happened to Bi. One day Bi wasn't there
and the next day he was.

We had two or three weeding-outs, and it got along toward the middle of
October, and Bi was still with us. We were shy on plunging halfs that fall
and so I got my chance at last. I had to fight hard, though, for I was up
against Murray, last year's first sub. Then a provisional Varsity was
formed and the Second Team began doing business with Bi at right guard
again. The left guard on the Varsity was Bannen--"Slugger" Bannen. He
didn't weigh within seven pounds of Bi, but he had springs inside of him
and could get the jump on a flea. He was called "Slugger" because he looked
like a prizefighter, but he was a gentle, harmless chap, and one of the
Earnest Workers in the Christian Association. He could stick his fist
through an oak panel same as you or I would put our fingers through a sheet
of paper. And he did pretty much as he pleased with Bi. I'll bet, though,
that Bi could have walked all over "Slugger" if he'd really tried. But he
was like an automobile and didn't know his own strength.

We disposed of the usual ruck of small teams, and by the first of November
it was mighty plain that we had the best Eleven in years. But we didn't
talk that way, and the general impression was that we had another one of
the Beaten But Not Humiliated sort.

A week before we went to Philadelphia I had a streak of good luck and
squeezed Murray out for keeps. Penn had a dandy team that year and we had
to work like anything to bring the ball home. It was nip and tuck to the
end of the first half, neither side scoring. Then we went back and began
kicking, and Cooper had the better of the other chap ten yards on a punt.
Finally we got down to their twenty yards, and Saunders and I pulled in
eight more of it. Then we took our tackles back and hammered out the only
score. But that didn't send our stock up much, because folks didn't know
how good Penn was. But the Eli's coaches who saw the game weren't fooled a
little bit; only, as we hadn't played anything but the common or garden
variety of football, they didn't get much to help them. We went back to
Cambridge and began to learn the higher branches.

We were coming fast now, so fast that Hecker got scary and laid half the
team off for a day at a time. And that's how Bi got his chance again, and
threw it away just as he had last year. He played hard, but--oh, I don't
know. Some fellow wrote once that unless you had football instinct you'd
never make a real top-notcher. I think maybe that's so. Maybe Bi didn't
have football instinct. Though I'll bet if some one had hammered it into
his head that it was business and not a parlor entertainment, he'd have
buckled down and done something. It wasn't that he was afraid of
punishment; he'd take any amount and come back smiling. I came out of the
Locker Building late that evening and Hecker and Cooper were just ahead of
me.

"What's the matter with this man"--Hecker glanced at his notebook--"this
man Briggs?" he asked.

"Briggs?" answered Cooper. "He's a dub; that's all--just a dub."

That described him pretty well, I thought. By dub we didn't mean just a man
who couldn't play the game; we meant a man who knew how to play and
wouldn't; a chap who couldn't be made to understand. Bi was a dub of the
first water.

We didn't have much trouble with Dartmouth that year. It was before she got
sassy and rude. Then there were two weeks of hard practice before the Yale
game. We had a new set of signals to learn and about half a dozen new
plays. The weather got nice and cold and Hecker made the most of it. We
didn't have time to feel chilly. One week went by, and then--it was a
Sunday morning, I remember--it came out that Corson, the Varsity right
guard, had been protested by Yale. It seemed that Corson had won a prize of
two dollars and fifty cents about five years before for throwing the hammer
at a picnic back in Pennsylvania. Well, there was a big shindy and the
athletic committee got busy and considered his case. But Hecker didn't wait
for the committee to get through considering. He just turned Corson out and
put in Blake, the first sub. On Tuesday the committee declared Corson
ineligible and Blake sprained his knee in practice! With Corson and Blake
both out of it, Hecker was up against it. He tried shifting "Slugger"
Bannen over to right and putting the full back at left. Jordan, the Yale
left guard, was the best in the world, and we needed a man that could stand
up against him. But "Slugger" was simply at sea on the right side of center
and so had to be put back again. After that the only thing in sight that
looked the least bit like a right guard was Bayard Newlyn Briggs.

They took Bi and put him on the Varsity, and forty-'leven coaches stood
over his defenseless form and hammered football into him for eight solid
hours on Wednesday and Thursday. And Bi took it all like a little woolly
lamb, without a bleat. But it just made you sick to think what was going to
happen to Bi when Jordan got to work on him!

We had our last practice Thursday, and that night we went to the Union and
heard speeches and listened to the new songs. Pretty poor they were too;
but that's got nothing to do with the story. Friday we mooned around until
afternoon and then had a few minutes of signal practice indoors. Bi looked
a little bit worried, I thought. Maybe it was just beginning to dawn on Me
that it wasn't all a lark.

What happened next morning I learned afterwards from Bi. Hecker sent for
him to come to his room, put him in a nice easy-chair, and then sat down in
front of him. And he talked.

"I've sent for you, Mr. Briggs," began Hecker in his quiet way, "because it
has occurred to me that you don't altogether understand what we are going
to do this afternoon."

Bi looked surprised.

"Play Yale, sir?"

"Incidentally; yes. But we are going to do more than play her; we are going
to beat her to a standstill; we are going to give her a drubbing that she
will look back upon for several years with painful emotion. It isn't often
that we have an opportunity to beat Yale, and I propose to make the best of
this one. So kindly disabuse your mind of the idea that we are merely going
out to play a nice, exhilarating game of football. We are going to simply
wipe up the earth with Yale!"

"Indeed?" murmured Bi politely.

"Quite so," answered the coach dryly, "I suppose you know that your
presence on the team is a sheer accident? If you don't, allow me to tell
you candidly that if there had been anyone else in the college to put in
Corson's place, we would never have called on you, Mr. Briggs."

He let that soak in a minute. Then:

"Have you ever heard of this man Jordan who will play opposite you to-day?"
he asked.

"Yes, sir; a very good player, I understand."

"A good player! My dear fellow, he's the best guard on a college team in
twenty years. And you are going to play opposite him. Understand that?"

"Er--certainly," answered Bi, getting a bit uneasy.

"What are you going to do about it?"

"Do? Why, I shall do the best I can, Mr. Hecker. I don't suppose I am any
match for Jordan, but I shall try----"

"Stop that! Don't you dare talk to me of doing the best you can!" said the
coach, shaking a finger under Bi's nose--"for all the world," as Bi told me
afterwards, "as though he was trying to make me mad!" "'Best you can' be
hanged! You've got to do better than you can, a hundred per cent better
than you can, ever did, or ever will again! That's what you've got to do!
You've got to fight from the first whistle to the last without a let-up!
You've got to remember every instant that if you don't, we are going to be
beaten! You've got to make Jordan look like a base imitation before the
first half is over! That's what you've got to do, my boy!"

"But it isn't fair!" protested Bi. "You know yourself that Jordan can
outplay me, sir!"

"I know it? I know nothing of the sort. Look at yourself! Look at your
weight and your build! Look at those arms and legs of yours! Look at those
muscles! And you dare to sit there, like a squeaking kid, and tell me that
Jordan can outplay you! What have you got your strength for? What have we
pounded football into you for?"

Over went his chair and he was shaking his finger within an inch of Bi's
face, his eyes blazing behind his glasses.

"Shall I tell you what's the matter with you, Briggs? Shall I tell you why
we wouldn't have chosen you if there had been anyone else? Because you're a
coward--a rank, measly coward, sir!"

Bi's face went white and he got up slowly out of his chair.

"That will do, sir," he said softly, like a tiger-puss purring. "You've
done what no one else has ever done, Mr. Hecker. You've called me a coward.
You're in authority and I have no redress--now. But after to-day--" He
stopped and laughed unpleasantly. "I'll see you again, sir."

"Heroics!" sneered the coach. "They don't impress me, sir. I've said you're
a coward, and I stand by it. I repeat it. You are a coward, Briggs, an
arrant coward."

Bi gripped his hands and tried to keep the tears back.

"Coward, am I? What are you, I'd like to know? What are you when you take
advantage of your position to throw insults at me? If you weren't the head
coach, I'd--I'd----"

"What would you do?" sneered Hecker.

"I'd kill you!" blazed Bi. "And I'll do it yet, you--you----"

"Tut, tut! That's enough, Briggs. You can't impose on me that way. I
haven't watched you play football all the fall to be taken in now by your
melodrama. But after to-day you will find me quite at your service,
Mr.--Coward. And meanwhile we'll call this interview off, if you please.
The door, Mr. Briggs!"

Bi seized his hat from the table and faced Hecker. He was smiling now,
smiling with a white, set, ugly face.

"Perhaps I am wrong," he said softly with a little laugh. "I think I am.
Either that or you are lying. For if you are really willing to meet me
after to-day's game you are no coward, sir."

Then he went out.

We lined up at two o'clock.

There was a huge crowd and a band. I didn't mind the crowd, but that band
got me worried so, that I couldn't do a thing the first ten minutes. It's
funny how a little thing like that will queer your game. One fellow I knew
once was off his game the whole first half because some idiot was flying a
kite over the field advertising some one's pills.

We had the ball and began hammering at the Yale line and kept it up until
we had reached her fifteen yards. Then she got together and stopped us;
held us for downs in spite of all we could do. Then she kicked and we
started it all over again. It wasn't exciting football to watch, maybe, but
it was the real thing with us. We had to work--Lord, how we had to work!
And how we did work, too! We made good the next time, but it took us
fifteen minutes to get back down the field. Cooper himself went over for
that first touchdown. Maybe the crowd didn't shout! Talk about noise! I'd
never heard any before! It was so unexpected, you see, for almost everyone
had thought Yale was going to do her usual stunt and rip us to pieces. But
in that first half she was on the defensive every moment. Seven times she
had the ball in that first thirty-five minutes, but she could no more keep
it than she could fly. Altogether she gained eighteen yards in that half.

It was one-sided, if you like, but it was no picnic. It was hammer and
tongs from first to last--man's work and lots of it.

We didn't rely on tricks, but went at her center and guards and just wore
them down. And when that first half was over--11-0 was the score--the glory
of one Jordan was as a last season's straw hat. A new star blazed in the
football firmament; and it was in the constellation of Harvard and its name
was Bi Briggs. What I'm telling you is history, and you needn't take my
word alone for it. I never really saw a man play guard before that day--and
I'd watched lots of fellows try. Bi was a cyclone. To see him charge into
Jordan--and get the jump on him every time--was alone worth the price of
admission. And as for blocking, he was a stone wall, and that's all there
is to it. Never once did the Elis get through him. He held the line on his
side as stiff as a poker until quarter had got the ball away, and then he
mixed things up with the redoubtable Jordan, and you could almost see the
fur fly! Play? O my! He was simply great! And the rest of us, watching when
we had a chance, just felt our eyes popping out. And all the time he
smiled; smiled when he went charging through the blue line, smiled when he
took Toppan on his shoulder and hurled him over the mix-up for six yards,
smiled when we pulled him out of a pile-up looking like a badly butchered
beef, and still smiled when we trotted of the field in a chaos of sound.
But that smile wasn't pretty. I guess he was thinking most of the time of
Hecker; and maybe sometimes he got Hecker and Jordan mixed up.

When we came back for the second half we weren't yet out of the woods, and
we knew it. We knew that Yale would forget that she was bruised and
battered and tired and would play harder than ever. And she did. And for
just about ten minutes I wouldn't have bet a copper on the game. Yale had
us on the run and plugged away until we were digging our toes into our
twelve-yard line. Then we held her. After that, although she still played
the game as though she didn't know she was beaten, she was never dangerous.
We scored twice more in that half. When there was still ten minutes of play
the whistle blew, and Jordan, white, groggy, and weepy about the eyes, was
dragged off the field. Bi had sure used him rough, but I'm not pretending
Jordan hadn't come back at him. Bi's face was something fierce. The blood
had dried in flakes under his nose, one eye was out of commission, and his
lip was bleeding where his tooth had gone through it. But he still smiled.
When we trotted off for the last time the score board said: "Harvard, 22;
Opponents, 0." And those blurry white figures up there paid for all the
hard work of the year.

It was past seven when we assembled for dinner. About all the old players
for twenty years back were there and it sounded like a sewing circle. Bi
was one of the last to come in. He pushed his way through the crowd about
the door, shaking off the fellows' hands, and strode across to where Hecker
was standing. Hecker saw him coming, but he only watched calmly. Bi stopped
in front of him, that same sort of ugly smile on his face.

"We've broken training, sir?" he asked quietly.

"Yes," answered the coach.

Then Bi's hand swung around and that slap was heard all over the room.
There was a moment of dead silence; then half a dozen of us grabbed Bi. We
thought he'd gone crazy, but he didn't try to shake us off. He just stood
there and looked at Hecker. The coach never raised a hand and never changed
his expression--only one cheek was as red as the big flag at the end of the
room. He held up his hand and we quieted down.

"Gentlemen," he said, "Mr. Briggs was quite within his rights. Please do
not interfere with him."

We let Bi go.

"The incident demands explanation," continued the coach. "As you all know,
we were left in a hole by the loss of Corson and Blake, and the only man
who seemed at all possible was Mr. Briggs. But Mr. Briggs, playing as he
had been playing all year, would have been no match for Jordan of Yale. We
tried every means we could think of to wake Mr. Briggs up. He had, I felt
certain, the ability to play football--winning football--but we couldn't
get it out of him. As a last resort I tried questionable means. I asked Mr.
Briggs to call on me this morning. I told him we must win to-day, and that
in order to do so he would have to play better than he'd been doing. He
told me that he would do his best, but that he knew himself no match for
Jordan. That spirit wouldn't have done, gentlemen, and I tried to change
it. I told Mr. Briggs that he was a coward, something I knew to be false. I
insulted him over and again until only my authority as head coach kept him
from trying to kill me. He told me he would do so when we had broken
training and I promised to give him satisfaction. What I did is, I am well
aware, open to criticism. But our necessity was great and I stand ready to
accept any consequences. At least the result of today's contest in a
measure vindicates my method. You who saw Mr. Briggs play will, I am sure,
find excuses for me. As for the gentleman himself, it remains with him to
say whether he will accept my apology for what passed this morning, taking
into consideration the strait in which we were placed and the results as
shown, or whether he will demand other satisfaction."

Half a hundred surprised, curious faces turned toward Bi, who, during
Hecker's statement, had looked at first contemptuous, then bewildered, and
finally comprehending. For about ten seconds the room was as still as a
graveyard. Then Bi stepped up with outstretched hand like a little man, and
for the second time that day we went crazy!

Bi was hailed as the greatest guard of the year, and they put him on the
All-American team, but I don't think Bi cared a button. Anyhow, when they
tried to get him to come out for the eleven the next fall he absolutely
refused, and nothing anyone could say would budge him. He said he was too
busy.




THE END











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