For the good of the team

By Ralph Henry Barbour

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Title: For the Good of the Team

Author: Ralph Henry Barbour

Release Date: May 21, 2023 [eBook #70829]

Language: English

Produced by: Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed Proofreading
             Team at

TEAM ***

                             FOR THE GOOD
                             OF THE TEAM


_Yardley Hall Series_


_Purple Pennant Series_


_Hilton Series_


_Erskine Series_


_The “Big Four” Series_


_The Grafton Series_


_North Bank Series_


_Books Not In Series_


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, Publishers, New York


                             FOR THE GOOD
                              OF THE TEAM

                          RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

                    FORMATION,” “FOURTH DOWN,” ETC.


                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                      NEW YORK :: 1923 :: LONDON

                          COPYRIGHT, 1923, BY
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY



 CHAPTER                                  PAGE

      I. A HERO RETURNS                      1
     II. CAPTAIN AND COACH                  18
    III. A BOY ON CRUTCHES                  30
     IV. “ONLY THE CAPTAIN!”                45
      V. A CLASH OF AUTHORITY               60
     VI. DEFEAT                             77
    VII. THE ATH. FAC. TAKES A HAND         93
   VIII. A NEW LEADER IS CHOSEN            105
     IX. OUT OF A JOB                      118
      X. THE HANDICAPS                     134
     XI. THE LAST LAP                      147
    XII. NEIL INTERVENES                   160
    XIV. WANTED, A KICKER                  183
     XV. THE CONFERENCE                    197
    XVI. LE GETTE EXPLAINS                 212
   XVII. TASKER GOES OVER                  226
  XVIII. IN THE LAST QUARTER               242
    XIX. STUART SPEAKS HIS MIND            257
     XX. “FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM”        275

                             FOR THE GOOD
                             OF THE TEAM

                               CHAPTER I

                            A HERO RETURNS

Two boys met in the Grand Central Station in New York one warm
afternoon in late September and, greeting each other, passed hurriedly
toward the gate beyond which the Hartford Express waited. Each was
good-looking, well-built, alert and self-possessed. But a few months
separated their ages, although Jack Brewton had seen his eighteenth
birthday and Stuart Harven had not. In the train, their bags at their
feet, they plunged into conversation. While they had been close friends
at Manning School, they had not met during vacation, nor had they
corresponded. At seventeen and eighteen one is far too busy for letter
writing, and, fortunately, friendship doesn’t demand it. There was,
consequently, much to be said, and the journey to Safford was half
over before the subject of summer adventures had been exhausted. Then
Stuart gave the talk a new turn with the careless announcement:

“I had a letter from the new coach about a month ago.”

“Haynes?” asked Jack interestedly. “What did he have to say?”

“Oh, nothing much. Said he thought he ought to get in touch with me
and hoped I was having a pleasant vacation and all that. Suggested my
meeting him in New York and talking things over, but I couldn’t make
it. The date he set was just the time we were starting off on the

“Too bad,” murmured Jack.

“Oh, I don’t know. What’s the good of talk? There wasn’t anything to be
done until we got the team together. I hope to goodness he isn’t going
to be one of the talky kind: his letter looked that way: he wrote about
four pages, I guess. Said he hoped I was keeping in good condition
and wasn’t neglecting kicking.” Stuart chuckled. “I haven’t touched a
football but once since spring practice. Then we had a sort of a game
up at the camp one day. A lot of the college chaps were football men:
Means of Cornell, and Davis of Dartmouth, and five or six others. We
had quite a scrappy little game. Played two twenty-minute periods.
Of course the counselors won, but they had to work for it. I played
quarter and got off two dandy runs, one for nearly seventy yards.”

“You ought to have put in some practice, just the same, Stuart,” said
Jack disapprovingly. “It wouldn’t have done any harm.”

“Did you?”

“Yes, I’ve been at it pretty steadily for the last month.”

“Faithful old Fido!” laughed Stuart. “Well, I don’t believe in it. A
fellow comes back much fitter and more ready for work if he doesn’t
wear himself out during the summer. I don’t think it hurts you any, for
you’re a shark for work, and always were, but I get stale if I overdo
it. Bet you I’ll show more pep to-morrow than the fellows who have been
summer training.”

“Maybe,” answered Jack, smiling but unconvinced. “Still, pep isn’t
everything. I’ll bet you can’t kick five goals out of ten tries from
the thirty-yard line to-morrow.”

“What of it?” laughed Stuart. “I’ll be able to next week. Look here,
what’s the good of bringing the team back five days before term opens
if they’re going to know it all before they come? That’s what the early
session’s for, to get us back in shape.”

“We ought to be in shape when we get back,” answered Jack. “We can’t
afford to give Pearsall even one day’s start of us, Stuart.”

“Don’t you worry about Pearsall this year,” replied the other, smiling
and confident. “We’re going to do her up brown.”

“Hope so.”

“Sure to! At least, we will if Haynes turns out all right. I’m still
wishing, though, we’d gone after Corcoran.”

“What’s the use of wishing it?” asked Jack, with a shrug. “You know we
couldn’t have paid his price. Take my advice, old son: forget Corcoran
and make the best of ‘Hop’ Haynes. Anyhow, Stuart, don’t start out with
a prejudice toward him.”

“Oh, I’ve got nothing against the man. I dare say he will do well
enough. Still, you know yourself, Jack, he’s just a ‘small town’ coach:
never did anything big.”

“If he had Manning wouldn’t have got him,” replied Jack. “He put in
three successful years at Fisherville, though, and was assistant at
Erskine a year before that.”

“Fisherville doesn’t play a team unless she knows she can beat it. Any
one could coach Fisherville to win. Bet you I could myself!”

Jack smiled and shook his head. “You’re a great little quarterback,
Stuart, and you’re the youngest captain Manning has ever had, and all
that, but don’t ever try coaching, old son. You couldn’t do it.”

“How do you make that out?” demanded Stuart. “You don’t have to be a
wonder to coach a football team.”

“No, but you have to have one quality that you haven’t, Stuart,”
answered the other in good-humored raillery.

“What’s that?” asked Stuart suspiciously.

“Amenability,” replied Jack gravely.

“What’s amenability? You mean good nature? Rot!”

“Look it up when you get a chance,” laughed Jack. “Anyhow, you stick to

“I believe I’ve been insulted, but no matter. Say, I ran across a
couple of nice-looking plays this summer. They’re not new, of course,
but we’ve never used them and they might be good medicine for
Pearsall. Got a piece of paper? An old letter will do. That’s the
ticket!” Stuart produced a pencil and the two boys leaned their heads
close while it traced strange lines on the back of an envelope.

Half an hour later the friends parted, Stuart carrying his bag to Lacey
Hall and Jack taking his to Meigs. They were to meet later for supper
in the village; meals for the football candidates were to begin with
breakfast in Lyceum House to-morrow; and meanwhile there were trunks
to be unpacked. Stuart’s room, on the second floor of Lacey, had been
prepared for his occupancy. One of the two small beds was made up and
the accumulated dust of the summer had been removed. Stuart set his
bag on the table and looked about him. The room, with its gray papered
walls, its brown craftsman furniture, its two-tone blue rug and its
pictures and trophies, was surprisingly like home, and he gave a sigh
of satisfaction as he threw aside his coat and went to the end window.
The sun had traveled past, and when he raised the shade and the lower
sash a cool breeze entered, bringing with it a few dried ivy leaves
from the stone sill. Below him lay a narrow strip of grass between the
building and School Lane. The young maples that lined both sides of
the way――the lane had been cut through but four years ago――were still
green, but the leaves looked dry and tired, as though the hot summer
had been almost too much for them. Across the graveled thoroughfare,
seen from the window between the upper branches of the trees, was
Memorial Building, the dining hall, its buff sandstone front, with its
four tall columns, hot in the afternoon sunlight. Further to Stuart’s
left stood the library; beyond it, the tennis courts. Straight ahead,
the school grounds ended at an iron fence half hidden by shrubbery
and vines, and then came an open field that descended to the placid,
winding river. The new steel bridge over which High Street led was just
visible past the corner of Memorial. Beyond it, nestling ’neath tall
elms, spread the town. Two church spires, one slenderly conical and one
square and dignifiedly squatty, pierced the greenery with their white
forms, and now and then a weathered gray roof or a red-brown chimney
peeked forth.

Safford was like half a hundred other Connecticut towns, quiet, as
placid as the river that flowed around it and unvexed by the problems
that beset larger communities. Twice a day the express paused for
a moment at the little station and at four other times local trains
tarried on their way up and down the valley. There were no street
cars and, speaking comparatively, even automobiles were scarce.
Safford’s only claim to renown was Manning School; and there had been
occasions――perhaps there still are――when Safford’s inhabitants would
have been willing to worry along without such fame. The celebrations of
athletic victories occur only infrequently, however, and for the most
part the townsfolk had no cause for complaint, and were doubtless glad
enough of the presence of the big school across the river. I know the
storekeepers were, anyway.

Stuart’s trunk arrived before he had quite finished washing off the
dust of travel, and for nearly an hour after that he busied himself
unpacking, stowing his things methodically away in drawers or hanging
them neatly in the closet, in the latter process carefully taking up
no more than his half of the hooks. The occupant of the other bed and
proprietor of the second chiffonier would be along in a few days, and
there must be space for his belongings. Neil Orr came from Stuart’s
home city and represented the reason why Stuart was remaining in Lacey
through his upper middle year instead of moving to Meigs as was the
privilege, almost invariably taken advantage of, of the third-year
students. Neil was a lower middle class fellow, and since he must
remain in Lacey, Stuart had elected to remain with him. To his own
belief at least, Stuart had acted as guide and protector to Neil during
the previous year and he couldn’t conceive of Neil’s getting along
without him. Perhaps he exaggerated his usefulness to Neil somewhat,
but the motives that prompted him to forego life in the upper class
dormitory were wholly creditable.

It was still too early for supper when he had finished his task and
changed into a comfortable old suit, and, probably because Neil was
still in his thoughts, he went down and crossed the old campus to
Holton Hall. The northern half of the school property had become known
as the old campus when School Lane had been cut through. It held five
dormitories and Manning Hall, the latter accommodating the recitation
rooms, the assembly hall and the offices. Of the five dormitories,
Holton was the elder brother and stood back from the rest as though
keeping a fraternal watch on them. Stuart was not sure that his visit
would prove successful, for there still remained four days before the
faculty members were required to report, but when he came within sight
of the corner study which was his destination his doubts were removed.
The two end windows on the lower floor were wide open and the brown
silk sash curtains were pushed wide. Mr. Moffit, attired principally
in a pair of discolored gray flannel trousers and a running shirt, was
applying a piece of emery cloth to the head of a lofter when Stuart,
accepting the invitation to enter, pushed the study door wide. A golf
bag leaned against the morris chair at the instructor’s elbow, but it
went to the floor with a rattle and crash of its contents when Mr.
Moffit jumped up.

“Hel-lo, Harven!” he exclaimed in pleased surprise. “So we’re back
again! My, my, and all browned up like a berry! Well, I am glad to see
you, my boy!” He shook hands with a grip that made the visitor wince
and pushed the latter toward a chair. “You’ve found me in rather an
undignified moment, it seems. Suppose you take your own coat off and
lend me countenance. It’s been frightfully hot here to-day.”

“Hot everywhere, sir. New York was like an oven.”

“You came that way? Isn’t there a shorter route from Springfield?”

“Yes, but you have to change, sir. And I wired Jack Brewton to meet me
at the Grand Central. Been playing golf, sir?”

“Yes, quite a lot this summer. But it’s over with.” Mr. Moffit sighed.
“Harven, I’m more than ever convinced that the Destiny that shapes our
ends made a botch of it in my case. I ought to have been born with a
silver spoon. I’m naturally the laziest man on earth except as to one
thing. That’s golf. I’ll toil from sunup to pitch dark playing golf,
but anything else――especially the teaching of English――comes mighty
hard. And this fall it seems to me that I’m lazier than ever before. I
don’t want to go back into harness one earthly bit, my boy. I sigh for
wealth and slothfulness, for silken shirts and shaded porches. The gods
bestow their favors blunderingly.”

“You’d soon get tired of silk shirts and porches,” laughed Stuart. “I’m
sure I would. Want some help with those, sir?”

“Thanks, but this is the last. I’m putting them to bed for a nine
months’ sleep. Unless――” the instructor’s eyes brightened――“you play?
There’s a very fair links over at Harrington, and I could sneak in a
couple of hours in the morning.”

“I don’t, sir. Besides, football begins to-morrow and I suppose we’ll
have two sessions a day until Wednesday.”

“That’s why you’re back. I’d forgotten.” Mr. Moffit slipped the lofter
into the bag with a sigh. “That reminds me that I met your new coach
this forenoon. He seems a very pleasant, affable sort, but he doesn’t
play golf. Have you met him yet?”

“No, sir. Do you know where he’s staying?”

“He told me, but I’ve forgotten. I’m afraid I lost interest when I
found he was not a golfer. Somewhere in the village, of course.”

“I thought of looking him up this evening, but if I don’t know where
he’s living I suppose I can’t do it.”

“He’s probably taking his meals at the hotel. I fancy you’d get a word
of him there, Harven.”

“Yes, sir, but there’s no hurry. I’ll see him in the morning. Are there
many of the team back, do you know?”

“I don’t. You’re the first chap I’ve seen. No one’s come yet, except
Mr. Wallace and me, so far as I know. Doctor Gurley’s back, of course.
I took dinner with him last evening. Vacation appears to have toned him
up remarkably. So it has you, my boy. Have a pleasant summer?”

“Dandy, sir! You’re looking awfully fit, too.”

“I suppose so. Yes, I’m feeling fairly rugged, thanks, but――but not at
all ambitious! I purposely came back a few days ahead to do some work.
I’ve got a new course to map out, for one thing. But all I’ve done so
far is clean five golf clubs!” And Mr. Moffit looked with humorous
sadness at the bag beside him.

Stuart laughed. “Don’t you worry, sir. You’ll soon be in form again and
making things hard for us as usual.”

Mr. Moffit smiled and shook his head. “I trust that you are right, but
to-day there’s no iron in my make-up. I’m absolutely out of character
and the sorriest theme ever handed in by a junior couldn’t move me to
wrath! Well, you’ve come back to a pretty stiff task, my boy, haven’t
you? Do you know, I’m not certain that I wouldn’t rather have my own
job than yours. If I make mistakes I can remedy them or I can gloss
them over, but if you make them they’ll stand out on the football
season like so many sore thumbs, and you won’t have time to remedy
them. A bit awed by the responsibility, are you?”

Stuart shook his head smilingly. “No, sir, I don’t think so. Of course,
it’s going to take some work, but we’ve got a good crowd to start with.
If Mr. Haynes knows football as he’s supposed to, things will run along
all right, I guess.”

“The confidence of youth is a beautiful thing,” murmured the other.
“Well, I sincerely hope that things will run along all right and I
wish you the best luck in the world. And that means a successful
season crowned by a glorious victory over Pearsall. I’ll be watching
with a great deal of interest how the youngest captain ever elected
here performs his task, my boy. I hope, though, you won’t start out
overconfident. I’ve been here twelve years and overconfidence at one
stage or another of the season has lost more games for us than any
other one factor. Heed the words of age and experience, Harven, and
don’t write the answer until you’ve worked out the proposition.”

“Oh, I’m not cocksure,” laughed Stuart. “I’m confident that we can
win, but I realize that we’ve got to work every minute, and work hard.
By the way, sir, what does amenability mean? Jack told me that was a
quality I didn’t have.”

“Amenability?” repeated the instructor. “It means several things. For
one, it means the quality of being open-minded, of willingness to be
governed. We speak of a person as being amenable to reason, which
usually means that the person has taken our advice, or, at least,
listened to it.”

“Sounds as though he was calling me pigheaded,” said Stuart.

“Hardly as bad as that,” laughed the other; “he was probably trying to
convey the idea, and convey it as politely as possible, that you are
likely to rely too implicitly on your own judgment and are slightly
contemptuous of others’. Isn’t that more likely to be it?”

“Then it means cocksure,” grunted Stuart. “I don’t think I am. Do you,

Mr. Moffit smiled, his blue eyes twinkling. “You and I have been pretty
good friends for two years, Harven,” he answered, “and we’ll probably
remain so as long as we don’t ask each other questions like that.”

Stuart grinned. “But seriously, Mr. Moffit, am I like he says? I don’t
mean to be.”

“I’m sure you don’t, my boy. To be frank, there’s something in
Brewton’s indictment, I fancy, but not enough to trouble about.
I’d prefer to call it self-dependence, which, up to a point, is an
admirable attribute of youth.”

“Well, he’s always getting off something like that,” said Stuart. “I
don’t mind him.”

“I wouldn’t. I’d just make certain that his charge is incorrect,

“Yes, sir.” Then: “Gosh, I was almost forgetting what I came to see you
about! You know Neil Orr, Mr. Moffit. He’s eligible for a society this
year, and I’d like mightily to get him into Lyceum. I’m pretty sure he
can make Manning if he wants to, but I’d rather have him with us, and I
guess he’d rather, too.”

“Orr is a splendid fellow in my judgment,” answered Mr. Moffit, “and
I’d be glad to have him in Lyceum, but you know, Harven, I’m only the
faculty director and have no vote.”

“Yes, sir, I know that, but I thought you might speak a good word for
him when the time comes. I’m going to put him up right off.”

“Gladly, if my opinion is asked, but I can’t promise more than that,
my boy. You wouldn’t want me to, I’m sure.”

“No, sir, of course not.” Stuart agreed, but not very fervently. After
a moment he added, “I think some of the fellows won’t want him on
account of his being like he is, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

“I doubt that,” answered the instructor. “I can’t imagine any of our
fellows objecting to Orr on account of physical――ah――disabilities,
Harven. I’d dislike to think it was so.”

“Maybe I’m wrong,” said Stuart. “Only, something was said last spring
that made me think that way. Well, I must be off to supper. Jack is
probably as mad as a hornet by this time. Good-by, sir.”

“Good-by, Harven. Very glad to have seen you again. Drop in some
evening before term starts, and bring Brewton along, won’t you?”

                              CHAPTER II

                           CAPTAIN AND COACH

Stuart didn’t look for Mr. Haynes that evening. Instead, after supper
in Safford’s only restaurant, he and Jack, together with three other
early arrivals, went to the moving picture theater, which, like the Old
Elm Café, was the sole representative of its kind in Safford. Stuart
expected to meet the coach the next morning at breakfast, but the
latter failed to show up. Pending the opening of Memorial, meals were
served to the football players in the Lyceum House. This was a small
cottage situated across the Principal’s Walk at the rear of Holton. In
early days it had been used as a dormitory, as had a similar structure
in the corner of the new campus. Later, the rooming facilities had been
increased by the building of Sawyer and Byers Halls, the two cottages
had been given over to the school societies, the Lyceum and Manning.
The Lyceum House had four bedrooms on the upper floor, and living
room, dining room and kitchen below. This morning the dining room was
crowded when Stuart arrived. Nineteen fellows had answered the summons
to pre-season practice, while the table seated but twelve. Fortunately,
all of them did not come at the same time. As it was, Stuart made the
fourth in the waiting line. His appearance was the signal for loud and
hearty greetings, and there was much hand-shaking. Jack Brewton was
already there and promised Stuart his place at table as soon as he “got
outside a couple more eggs.”

Most of the returning players on last year’s first team were on hand:
burly, red-haired Joe Cutts, the center; Leo Burns, square-headed and
sandy-complexioned, as hard-fisted as he was soft-hearted, one of the
best halfbacks in recent years; “Howdy” Tasker, big and gray-eyed and
handsome, almost certain of the fullback position; Millard Wheaton,
short but sturdy, pink-cheeked and blue-eyed, who meant to give Stuart
a hard battle for quarterback supremacy; and others besides. Tom
Muirgart, commonly known as “Mudguard,” yielded his chair to Stuart
while Jack was still toying with his second helping of poached eggs,
and Stuart deluged his oatmeal with milk and sprinkled it with sugar,
and pitched in. “Whitey,” general factotum of the establishment, and
as black a darkey as ever toiled in a southern cotton field, hurried
back and forth in the seemingly hopeless endeavor to supply the wants
of the eaters. Oatmeal, bacon, eggs, stewed peaches, toast, coffee,
milk disappeared as if by magic, and pathetic plaints filled the air
constantly: “Oh, Whitey! Got any more bacon?” “Whitey, bring some more
milk, will you?” “Coffee, Whitey; and fill her up this time!” “Bring
me two, three eggs, Whitey; and some toast!” “A-a-ay, Whitey! I’m
starving! Get a move on, will you?”

At Stuart’s left a pleasant-faced, brown-eyed youth asked: “Have you
seen the coach? He was asking for you last night.”

“No, what’s he like, Billy? I thought he’d be here this morning.”

“Rather a nice sort. Rather smallish. Looks keen, though.”

“Who’s that?” asked Joe Cutts from across the board. “Mr. Haynes? Quite
a peppy boy, I’ll bet! He isn’t big, but he’s got a bad eye, son. He’ll
have us jumping for fair!”

“If he can make you jump he’ll be going some,” laughed Billy
Littlefield. Joe smiled tolerantly and landed a piece of toast
on Billy’s nose. Wallace Towne, slipping into a vacated chair and
absent-mindedly annexing Howdy Tasker’s glass of milk, joined in with:

“I hear there isn’t going to be any training table this year.”

“Where do you get that stuff?” asked Stuart pityingly.

“Coach. He doesn’t believe in ’em. He told me so yesterday. Came down
on the train with him. Says all we need is plenty of plain food and no
coddling. Told him I didn’t care how plain it was if it was plenty.”

Stuart frowned. “That’s nonsense,” he declared. “We’ve always had
training tables here, and I guess we’ll continue to.”

“All right. You tell ’em. Whitey, for the love of Mike, feed me! All
I’ve had’s a glass of milk.”

“Yes, and it was mine,” observed Howdy. “Feed the brute, Whitey.”

“Guess the new chap’s got a lot of revolutionary ideas,” went on
Wallace. “Said a mouthful about straight football. Hates stunt plays, I
guess. Strong on fundamentals, too. So am I. We agreed perfectly. Made
a big hit with him.”

“You would,” said Jack scathingly. “You’d agree with any one, you old

“What’s that?” asked Wallace untroubledly. “An elephant’s little boy? I
deny it. You’re thinking of Joe.”

“I’ve seen his sort before,” said Stuart. “They start out with the
idea of changing everything, but they soon get over it.” He smiled
patiently. “That straight football guff’s mighty old stuff. It won’t
win games to-day. He’ll get over it. Got any more eggs, Whitey?”

Reaching the field at half-past ten――a few minutes beyond that time, as
a matter of fact, but if the captain can’t be late, who can?――Stuart
concluded at first glance that Mr. Haynes had again failed to put
in an appearance, and he wasn’t altogether displeased. This new
coach seemed to be acting rather cocky, Stuart thought, and being
late to practice might tone down some of his assurance. But a second
look showed a stranger there. The fact that he was in togs quite as
disreputable as any being worn there had disguised him. He was talking
to Miles Whittier, the assistant manager, when Stuart made himself
known. Mr. Haynes shook hands cordially, but, Stuart thought, without
as much empressement as the situation called for. While they talked
Stuart studied the other and was conscious of a slight feeling of
disappointment. Perhaps the description he had heard was to blame.
At all events, the coach was much more of a “regular fellow” than
Stuart had unconsciously pictured him. He was small, perhaps, but
the fact didn’t impress you greatly because he was remarkably well
built. He was younger than Stuart had suspected, too; surely not more
than twenty-six. He was good looking, but the good looks were more a
matter of expression than of features, for the latter were irregular.
There was a short nose and a rather long upper lip, a firm mouth and a
square jaw, keen dark-brown eyes and a wide forehead under hair that
appeared to have a suspicion of red in it. He had a pleasant smile and
an agreeable voice, and yet Stuart somehow felt a trifle uncomfortable
while they conversed. Perhaps it was the penetrative quality of the
straight, unwavering regard of the coach that was responsible.

For Alan Haynes was doing a little studying, too. He wanted very much
to learn what sort of a youth this was with whom he was to work. What
conclusions he reached I do not know. He saw, however, a straight,
well-made boy of a trifle more than normal height and weight for his
years, with the good looks of regular features and perfect health. I
doubt if he read any antagonism, for I don’t think that Stuart was
conscious of any, but I think he surmised that behind the blue-gray
eyes there lay a touch of arrogance, and perhaps the corners of the
pleasantly-smiling mouth hinted that its owner was self-willed. Maybe
because of such surmises, the coach paid the most respectful deference
to Stuart’s words, and the latter mentally concluded that Wallace
Towne’s characterization of the new coach had been overdrawn. Probably,
he thought, the other had talked sort of big to impress Wallace. There
was no harm in that just so long as he didn’t try it on him!

“We’d better get together this evening, Harven,” the coach was saying,
“and talk things over. Suppose I drop in at your room? I haven’t found
quarters yet, and my room at the hotel is just a box.”

“Suits me, Mr. Haynes. I’m in Lacey, the second dormitory on the Lane;
Number 12; one flight. How about eight o’clock?”

“Perfect. Well, shall we get them started?”

After practice the coach had company on the way back to the village.
“The Laird” was taking a dozen or so pairs of football shoes to the
repair shop. He had them tied together by the lacings and slung over
his shoulder as the coach fell into step beside him. His real name was
Angus McCranie and he looked as Scotch as his name sounded. It was
always somewhat of a disappointment, though, to hear The Laird speak,
for it was only in moments of excitement that his native burr was used.
He had been trainer at Manning for nearly a dozen years and had become
as much a part of the institution as Manning Hall or Old Jarratt,
the Greek and Latin professor, or even Doctor Gurley himself. He was
short and leanly muscular, with grizzled hair and pale blue eyes that
shone startlingly bright from under thick tufts of brows and from a
seamed face that, summer or winter, was always the color of a well-worn
saddle. In age, The Laird was, by his own confession, “upwards of
thirty.” The register in the little town of his birth would have proved
him well over forty. But age was of small importance in his case. He
was still as spry, to all appearances, as he had been a dozen years
since; and another score of years would make little difference.

“And what did you think of the lads, sir?” asked The Laird, as they
took the turn of High Street near Manning Society House.

“Excellent,” answered the coach promptly and emphatically. “A fine
looking lot, I call them. What is your opinion of this year’s material,
Mr. McCranie?”

The Laird produced a briar pipe and began to fill it. “About average,
sir. Mr. Haynes, the more I see of the lads, sir, the more settled I
become as to one conviction, which is that you can’t ever tell what’s
in a pudding till you open the bag.”

“Meaning,” responded the other, “that good-looking bodies don’t always
land first over the hurdles.”

“Exactly, sir. I’ve seen fine, upstanding lads licked by runts in my
time, and I’ve seen promising teams just fairly fall to pieces during
a season. Man, it’s not the shape of a lad’s body, or the muscles that
play under his skin that counts. It’s what’s on the inside. It’s the
spirit of him!”

“True,” assented Mr. Haynes.

“And that’s why, sir, when they say to me ‘What do you think of the
team this year,’ or the squad, maybe, I tell them the same thing. ‘Wait
till they’ve got their first black eye,’ I say, ‘and then ask me!’”

Mr. Haynes nodded gravely. “That’s what brings out the spirit,” he
replied. He paused midway of the bridge and looked down into the slowly
moving stream. “Any fish in this river?” he asked.

The Laird leaned an elbow on the railing, blew a cloud of smoke into
the sunlight and shook his head sadly. “There used to be, sir. I’ve
caught ten-inch trout further up. But three years ago they built a mill
at the falls and now you’ll get nothing saving a shiner or two. It’s a
shame, it is so!”

“Too bad! Ten inches, eh? That’s nice fishing. Flies or worms, Mr.

“Well, I’ll tell you the truth, sir,” chuckled the trainer. “I’m as
prideful an angler as any, Mr. Haynes, but as the Good Book says, pride
goeth before the Falls. ’Twas worms I used.”

Further on Mr. Haynes said: “Captain Harven is rather a brilliant
player, I understand, Mr. McCranie.”

“You’re right, sir. ’Twas he won the Pearsall game last fall. A very
clever lad, Mr. Haynes. One of the finest quarters we’ve ever had here.
And a grand runner. ’Twas his getting away for nearly sixty yards that
brought us the victory. After that he could have been president if the
lads could have made him such. They did the best they might, and,
in spite of his being only a third-class boy this year, elected him

“A steady player?” inquired the coach casually.

The Laird shot a quick, keen glance at him. “You’re fair observing,
sir. I’ll not say the lad’s a steady player, for he’s not, but you’ll
be forgiving him that for the way he plays when he’s at his best.
He’s high-strung like, with a wee bit of temper, but a fine lad for
all, sir. There’s two kinds. There’s them that’s always reliable. You
know beforehand what they’ll time at every lap. They’re grand, but
there’s never a surprise in them, sir. Their time to-day is their
time to-morrow, barring an accident. Then there’s the other sort.
To-day you’ll click them one time, to-morrow another. You never know
for certain what they’ll do. But when the time comes they’re like
thoroughbred horses, Mr. Haynes. A touch of the spur and they tear
loose, sir, and naught can head them. Maybe they’ll drop, past the
line, but they’ll win!”

“That sort requires careful handling,” mused the coach.

“Man, you speak true! Haven’t I learned it? But they’re worth the
trouble, sir.”

“Well, I’ll stop here,” said Mr. Haynes as they reached the hotel. “I
hope you and I will get along splendidly, Mr. McCranie. I shall look to
you for a lot of advice, for I’m pretty much of a stranger yet.”

“We’ll get along grand, sir,” replied the trainer heartily, “and I’m
not denying there’s things I can tell you, for I’m an old dog here. But
I’ll be asking you drop the ‘Mister,’ sir. McCranie’s my name, or Angus
if you like it better. The lads call me The Laird, and that’s a name
I’m fair proud of, Mr. Haynes, for they’d never have given it me if I’d
not come by it rightly.”

“Very well, McCranie. And my name is Haynes, also without the ‘Mister.’”

“It is now,” replied the trainer, with a chuckle, “but I’m thinking
that when we’re better acquainted ’twill be just ‘Coach’!”

                              CHAPTER III

                           A BOY ON CRUTCHES

Two workouts that day, although each was brief, left Stuart’s body
rather lame, for, while he had led a mildly strenuous life in camp and
at sea during the last three months, some of the muscles brought into
play in football practice were decidedly flabby. At supper that first
evening, although he hid his twinges, the fact that he appeared to be
the only one of the squad inconvenienced by the day’s activities caused
him to acknowledge to himself that there might be something in summer
training after all!

He prepared for the conference with Coach Haynes by determining to be
rather on his dignity, telling himself that, in the interest of future
harmony, it would be well to deal with the other with a firm hand, to
let him understand right at the start that revolutionary changes in the
conduct of the team or the campaign would not be welcomed. There was,
for instance, the coach’s plan of doing away with the training table,
as silly an idea as Stuart had ever heard of! Stern measures now might
prevent later trouble, the captain reflected.

The coach, however, appeared in a most conciliatory mood, paid
respectful attention to Stuart’s ideas and failed to show the cloven
hoof at all. On several occasions Stuart forgot his dignity and, to his
later annoyance, found himself laughing heartily. They made excellent
progress. Some of the coach’s notions didn’t coincide with Stuart’s,
but he was so far from insistent, so evidently open to conviction, that
for the most part the captain let them pass unchallenged. After all,
Mr. Haynes had no more to say in favor of a thorough grounding of the
team in the fundamentals than Stuart knew to be tenable. Nor, though
he certainly showed a leaning toward the old-style football, did he
asperse the newer and trickier plays. He found some fault with the
schedule, but there Stuart was at one with him, for undoubtedly the
playing of Walsenburg as early as the middle of October was a mistake.
Stuart explained that Walsenburg had refused a later date and that,
rather than lose the benefit to be had from a game with an opponent
of Walsenburg’s mettle, it had been decided to take her on in early
season, slipping Williston down the schedule to the Saturday before

“We must just make up our minds to a defeat on October 16, then,”
replied the coach smilingly.

“I’m not so sure, sir,” said Stuart. “We’ve got quite a bunch of
veterans this year and I guess we’ll be able to squeeze through with no
worse than a tie. Walsenburg won’t be running very strong herself at
that time.”

“Those big schools start out stronger than we do,” said the coach. “We
won’t trouble about it, though. Sometimes, I think, a trimming isn’t
bad medicine for a team along in the early season. It’s likely to cure

“Yes, but we rather hate to get licked here at Manning,” demurred
Stuart, frowning. “And Walsenburg hasn’t beaten us but once in four
years. I――I don’t think the fellows would take very kindly to it, sir.”

“Hatred of defeat is a credited aversion, Harven, but it isn’t always
wise to win. Sometimes the cost is too great. I never like to bring a
team along too fast in October. Usually you pay for it later. Well, we
can deal with the Walsenburg game when it comes. Tell me about Lansing
High School. That comes first, doesn’t it? Yes, well, what do they
usually do?”

Afterwards they discussed the players. Mr. Haynes seemed particularly
anxious to learn about the linemen. “We’re strong at the center, you
say?” he asked. “‘Got veterans there,’ have we?”

“Yes, sir, and corkers! Cutts, the big red-haired fellow, you know;
and Beeman and Towne for guards. And we’re fixed for tackles, too,
Mr. Haynes. Jack Brewton’s one of the best in the business, and Ned
Thurston’s nearly as good. ‘Thirsty’s’ been playing tackle two years
already. Jack was in every game but one last season and he’s a whale.”

“Sounds good. I liked the looks of Brewton immensely. He’s the ideal
build for tackle. Cutts seemed a trifle heavy for a center, though. But
perhaps he’s a bit overweight. I have a weakness for fast men in the
center, Harven.”

“Well, Joe isn’t so slow, and I guess he’s due to drop eight or ten
pounds in the next week. You’ll like him when you see him work, sir.”

The subject of the abolishment of the training table was not introduced
by the coach and so it didn’t come up for discussion. After the other
had taken his departure, Stuart rehearsed the evening and uneasily
came to the conclusion that so far as firmness was concerned he had not
been an overwhelming success. Still, there hadn’t been much chance for
firmness. He consoled himself with the promise to maintain a watchful
eye on the coach and be on guard against that gentleman’s smooth

Practice went very well. Other candidates showed up day by day, and
on Sunday, Fred Locker, the manager, returned. Stuart was glad to see
him, for Fred was a hard-working, invaluable chap and, moreover, a firm
adherent of Stuart’s; and now and then the latter felt dimly that,
should it ever come to a show-down between him and the new coach, he
would need all the backing he could get. There was no doubt that Mr.
Haynes had found much favor with the football squad. There was constant
proof of it. They had already conferred a nickname on him and, save to
his face, he was called “Hop,” that being a favorite ejaculation of his
used on all sorts of occasions. He didn’t join the players at meals in
Lyceum House, but none seemed to feel himself affronted, although Mr.
Craig, the former coach, had always presided at the head of the table.
Mr. Haynes had found quarters just across the river, convenient to the
school, and on Sunday evening Stuart and Fred Locker and The Laird met
there and went very thoroughly into many questions.

The fall term began Tuesday, and on Monday the influx of returning
students began. Rumor had it that the school was to be filled this
year, which meant an enrollment of three hundred and fifty. Not since
the opening of Byers, the latest of the new dormitories, had the school
held a full quota, and the report was pleasing to Stuart, among others,
since, theoretically at least, the more students there were the more
football players there would be. He hoped that among the new fellows
entering the senior or upper middle classes there would be a few
experienced ones, perhaps even a star or two. To anticipate a trifle,
however, Stuart’s hope proved vain, for among the newcomers there was
but one fellow of first team caliber. Haley Leonard, entering the
upper middle class, had weight and a year’s experience behind him and,
after being miscast for part of the season in a rushline position, was
relegated to the backfield and made good as fullback.

On Tuesday afternoon, one of the numerous carriages that rattled to
and fro between the station and the school that day, stopped in front
of Lacey Hall and three boys emerged. Two of them hustled forth,
paid the driver and were quickly swallowed up in the entrance to the
dormitory. But the third member of the trio alighted more slowly, and
it is with this third youth that we have to do. First the end of a
pair of crutches came into sight. Then, the rubbered tips secure on
the pavement, a boy of sixteen swung himself nimbly out. Seen without
his crutches, there was nothing in his appearance to suggest physical
disability. He looked to be normally strong and healthy, with the usual
number of arms and legs, a well-developed torso, and a good-looking,
clean-cut countenance wherein a pair of very deep blue eyes constituted
the most attractive feature. Settling with the driver, he accepted the
bag which the latter handed to him and, with surprising dexterity, took
himself and bag across the walk and up the steps. Once inside, however,
his progress became slower, for the steep stone stairway presented
difficulties when a suitcase hung against the right-hand crutch. Had
any one appeared he would have given over his burden, but as it was he
made the ascent alone, and, at last gaining the second floor, swung
himself along more quickly than another would have walked to the portal
of Number 12. Inside the room the expression of pleasure faded from
his face, for there was no one there to greet him. Setting down his
bag, he looked at his watch and understood.

“Practice,” he muttered. “I might have remembered.” The qualm of
disappointment vanished and, abandoning one of his crutches, he set
about the unpacking of his suit case. From bag to chiffonier, closet
and table he went quickly and efficiently, sometimes throwing his full
weight on the remaining crutch, sometimes placing an aiding hand on
table or chair back or bedstead. Presently, since his trunk was still
to arrive, his task was completed and he seated himself in a chair
that faced the south window, laying the crutch beside him. It would
have taken keen observation then to have suspected anything wrong with
the apparently sound limbs stretched before him, yet the truth is that
never in all his life had they once sustained his full weight. Place
Neil Orr in the water and he could swim like a fish, but ashore and
minus his crutches he was as helpless as a crawling baby. Perhaps had
he once had the full use of his legs he would have minded the lack of
it a great deal, but as it was, while he often envied others their
ability to walk and run and take part in athletics, he was quite
contented with his lot.

Perhaps the Lord had been fully as kind to Neil as to seemingly more
fortunate youths, for while Neil had been denied the usual means of
locomotion he had been blessed with a happy disposition; and were I
forced to make choice of the two gifts I’d never hesitate in choosing
the happy disposition. You are not to suppose that Neil was one of
those objectionably cheerful idiots who, when you pound your thumb
with a hammer under the mistaken idea that you’re hitting a nailhead,
smilingly reminds you, while you dance around with your thumb in your
mouth, that it would have been much worse had you been using an ax,
and that “it will be all the same ten years from now.” A sense of
proportion must accompany a happy disposition if the latter is to be
of use, and in Neil’s case it did. He also had a nice sense of humor
and a kindliness of heart that won him friends everywhere. Among those
who knew Neil only by sight there were probably some who wondered that
Stuart Harven should forgo the privilege of spending his upper middle
year in the greater comfort of Meigs Hall in order to remain with the
younger boy, but those who were acquainted with the latter didn’t
wonder at all. Jack Brewton, close friend of both, smiled to himself
when Stuart explained that he had decided to stay on in Lacey because
it didn’t seem fair to Neil not to. Stuart honestly thought that he was
conferring a benefit, but Jack knew that he was receiving it!

Stuart and Neil had been friendly acquaintances before coming to
Manning. Back home, in Springfield, they had gone to school together,
been of the same “crowd” and done the same things. Although they were
nearly of an age, Stuart was the senior by four months――Neil had always
been one year behind the other in school, owing to the fact that Stuart
possessed a faculty for, as he phrased it, “hitting the high places”
in his studies. Teachers shook their heads over that faculty. They
knew perfectly well that Stuart was, to make use of another convenient
phrase, “beating the game,” but there was nothing they could do about
it. He got high marks, even though his instructors were convinced that
he knew far less of the subjects than did many boys who were marked
much lower, and there was nothing for it but to pass him. Some did it
sadly, with earnest exhortations to more serious and thorough work,
others did it quite as grudgingly but with a secret envy for a quality
not possessed by their plodding, slow-going minds. Once interested in
a course, Stuart could fairly “eat it up,” but the trouble was that few
courses interested him, and even during his two years at Manning――he
had entered the lower middle class――he had continued to rely on his
uncanny ability to learn just enough and no more than was necessary
to keep him in good standing. Since the classes were larger here, he
managed to fool many of the instructors and even gain a reputation for
brilliancy, which reputation helped him to go on fooling them. Among
the few who were not deceived was the English instructor, Mr. Moffit.
Mr. Moffit――Miss Muffit the boys called him――said one day, half in fun,
half in earnest: “Harven, you’re a smart chap, but your smartness is
the Devil’s kind, and some day you may regret it. A juggler may toss up
a glass bowl and a silk hat and a billiard cue ninety-nine times and
catch the hat on his head, the cue on his chin and the bowl on the cue.
But the hundredth time something goes wrong and there’s an awful smash.
Better watch out for the hundredth time, my boy!” To which Stuart
had replied apologetically: “Maybe I don’t go into things as hard as
I should, sir, but there’s lots of time yet. You wait till I get to

Neil didn’t have Stuart’s gift, fortunately or unfortunately, as you
choose to view it, and he worked much harder for no better surface
results. He regarded his friend’s method with secret doubt but never
criticized it. When he reached Manning, a year after Stuart, it seemed
quite natural that they should take a room together. Neil admired and
liked Stuart for the qualities that attracted other fellows, and,
besides, for his athleticism. Even in the early school days Stuart had
been a leader in games of all sorts. Stuart was as willing as Neil to
join forces. He liked the other boy immensely, and was sorry for him,
although there was something in Neil’s attitude that prohibited pity,
and felt that it would be a friendly act to look after him and see
that his physical disability didn’t act as a handicap. They had spent
a year together in the corner room in Lacey and everything had gone
wonderfully. You couldn’t quarrel with Neil if you wanted to because he
simply wouldn’t have it. If you got nasty Neil merely retired within
his undisturbed self and waited for you to get over your mood. Then he
went on again as if nothing had happened. There might have been rows
aplenty had Neil desired them, for, while Stuart wasn’t quarrelsome,
he was fond of his own opinions and impatient of others’. But Neil
didn’t consider his views or any one else’s views of much importance,
certainly not important enough to become ruffled over! What had begun
as mutual respect and liking had grown within one school year to
something much deeper and stronger, though, boylike, neither would have
cared to give a name to it.

The shadows were growing long on the campus when Stuart returned to No.
12. The greetings exchanged were almost casual, but the handclasp was
hard and the faces of both boys showed their pleasure.

“I’m beastly sorry I couldn’t meet you, Neil,” said Stuart, “but I
couldn’t cut practice to-day. How long have you been here?”

“Perhaps an hour. I unpacked my bag and have been waiting for my trunk.
There’s some of your laundry in it, by the way. Your mother sent it
over yesterday and asked me to bring it along.”

“Thanks. Well, how are you, anyway?”

“Fine,” smiled Neil. “Don’t I look fairly healthy?”

“I’ll say you do. And you’ve got a corking tan. Where’d you get it?”

“I was on the river a good deal. You aren’t exactly pallid yourself,
you know.”

“I know. Hot, isn’t it? Haynes gave us nearly two hours to-day, drat

“Tell me about him, Stuart. What’s he like?”

“All right, I guess. Rather nice-looking chap. Pleasant and all that.”

“I’m glad,” said Neil. “I hope you’re going to get on together all

Stuart frowned slightly. “Why shouldn’t we? Gee, you talk as if I
didn’t usually get on with folks!”

“I didn’t mean to,” replied the other. “What’s the news? Who’s back?
How’s Jack?”

“Jack’s all right. Most of the fellows we know are here, I guess. There
isn’t much news though. We’ve put in four days of hard practice, two
sessions daily, and things look pretty good. We’ve got a corking lot of
fellows to start with. If Haynes doesn’t develop too many fool notions
I guess we’ll have a record season.”

“I hope so. I’d hate horribly to have Pearsall beat us this year, when
you’re captain. What do you mean by fool notions, Stuart? Is the new
coach notional?”

“Sort of.” Stuart frowned again. “Most of it’s just talk, though, I

“Do the fellows like him?”

“Yes. They won’t, though, if he keeps on working them as hard as he
did Saturday and to-day. By the way, I’m putting you up for Lyceum
to-morrow, Neil, so you’d better get ready to ride the goat.”

Neil smiled. “Thanks. I’ll practice on the footboard of the bed.”

“I told you so you could turn down Manning if they got after you.”

“There’s nothing like being beforehand,” replied Neil demurely.

“Well, they’d get you if they could, I guess. What are you looking so
foxy about? Have they been after you already?”

Neil laughed and nodded. “More than a month ago. Greg Trenholme wrote

“Oh! What did you tell him?”

“Declined, with proper expression of polite regret. I dare say I’d feel
rather the fool if I failed at Lyceum. Still――――”

“Fail? Why should you? Don’t be an ass! You’ll go through flying. Well,
let’s get washed up. I’m as hungry as a bear!”

                              CHAPTER IV

                          “ONLY THE CAPTAIN!”

The football training table was customarily formed about four days
after the beginning of the term. It was in reality two tables, at which
were gathered some twenty-two of the foremost candidates. Precedent
had established a hard-and-fast dietary, of which such articles as
underdone steaks and chops and roasts of beef formed the fixed basis.
Fresh bread was taboo, as was pastry and most other forms of dessert.
Eggs, certain cereals, milk and fresh vegetables and fruit formed the
balance of the menu. A patented preparation of grain took the place of
coffee. Usually by the time the season drew to an end you got so you
could drink the substitute without making a face. But before that time
you had become heartily sick of the monotony of the food and sighed
deeply for such health-destroying viands as baked macaroni, apple
pie, broiled ham, suet puddings and coffee――especially and constantly
coffee! Even the twice-a-week ice cream, observed enviously by the
neighboring tables, didn’t make up for the breaded veal cutlets or
hot rolls that passed with teasing fragrance but never stopped.
The training table necessitated what practically amounted to the
preparation of two meals in the school kitchen, a fact that doubtless
led the faculty to listen sympathetically to the suggestion of Mr.
Haynes. This suggestion reached the faculty by way of the Committee on
Athletics, popularly called the “Athletic Faculty,” and was submitted
with the committee’s entire approval. The suggestion was no less than
the abolishment of the training table. The first regular faculty
conference was held Thursday evening. Mr. Pierson, assistant instructor
in English and chairman of the Athletic Faculty, laid the matter before
the meeting and read the written argument by the new coach. Subject,
he stated, to the approval of the school faculty, the Committee on
Athletics proposed to give the plan a trial. After a discussion which,
considering the revolutionary character of the proposal, was extremely
brief, the faculty set the seal of its approval; without, you will
observe, consulting Captain Stuart Harven in the least.

In fact Stuart knew nothing of it until Friday forenoon, and then
learned of it in the most haphazard fashion. Wallace Towne, waiting
for H Room to empty so that he might attend a Latin class before he
had quite forgotten all he had learned overnight, caught Stuart in the
corridor of Manning. “See I was in the know about training table, Cap,”
he said. “I’m always there with the inside info. What do you think of
it? No more raw meat to make us savage. No more parched corn playing
coffee. Real food. Great, I say!”

“What are you jabbering about, Wally?” asked Stuart.

“Mean you don’t know?” Wallace looked incredulous. “Why, dearie,
faculty’s abolished the dear old training table! Give you my word! It’s
a thing of the past. Just like the dodo bird and the tandem play and――
All right, ask Jud McColl if you don’t believe me.”

“You’re crazy,” declared Stuart. But his words lacked conviction. “You
can’t build up a football team without a training table!”

“I can’t, no, but Hop Haynes can. Hop’s the Moses that’s going to lead
us through the Red Sea of dish gravy into the Pruneless Land. Say,
that’s good, what? Have to send that to the ‘Bull’!”

(He did, and _The Bulletin_ printed it, slightly elaborated, in the
Caught on the Campus column.)

Stuart reiterated his doubt of Wallace’s sanity and took himself into
Latin class, Wallace, still chuckling over his _bon mot_, following.
Stuart wasn’t easy in his mind, though, in spite of his expressed
contempt for Wallace’s information, and added nothing to his laurels
as a Latin scholar that morning. Oddly enough, Judson McColl was the
first fellow Stuart’s eyes fell on when the class was over. McColl was
Prominence personified. He was President of the recently formed Student
Council, President of Manning Society, Captain of the Hockey Team and,
with Stearns Wilson, represented the student body on the Athletic
Faculty. In spite of all these honors, however, McColl was simple,
likable and approachable. He expressed regretful surprise that Stuart
had been unaware of the proposed abolition of the training table.

“I supposed of course you knew, Stuart,” he said. “Mr. Haynes
introduced the proposal several days ago.”

McColl looked so puzzled that Stuart fancied his dignity in danger.
“Of course I heard something about it,” he replied defensively, “but I
didn’t know it had been brought up. Personally, I think it’s a crazy
scheme, Jud.”

“We-ell, I don’t know.” McColl pursed his lips. “Haynes made out a
strong case, Stuart. Of course, if it doesn’t work we’ll go back to the
old way. We thought there’d be no harm in giving it a trial, eh?”

Stuart shrugged. “Seems to me it would have been fairer to give the
players a voice in the matter,” he said.

“Don’t agree with you there,” replied McColl. “Things like that are up
to the Committee. Anyway, about all the football fellows I’ve talked
with are in favor of it.”

Stuart looked incredulous, but, having no data to base a contrary
assertion on, he let the statement pass unchallenged. Parting from
McColl, he went over to Meigs to unburden his mind to Jack. Jack,
of course would share his indignation. But neither Jack nor Stearns
Wilson, his roommate, was in, and Stuart went across to Lacey and spent
the period before dinner nursing his sense of injury. Neil had a class
and didn’t show up before the midday meal, and Stuart had sufficient
time and solitude to work up a very fair case against Coach Haynes and
the Athletic Faculty. Thinking things over, it struck him as peculiar,
if not suspicious, that Jack, who, since he roomed with Stearns Wilson,
must have known about the training table matter, hadn’t spoken of it to
him. Stuart uneasily wondered if Jack favored the absurd change. McColl
had said that many of the players did. Perhaps Jack was one of them
and, knowing Stuart’s position in the matter, had purposely avoided the
subject. Jack became grouped in Stuart’s mind with those others who had
conspired to bring about an iniquitous change by underhand methods.
He decided to see Coach Haynes immediately after dinner and speak his
mind. After all, Haynes was the chief culprit.

At dinner Stuart broached the matter to Leo Burns and Harry Beeman,
the only members of the squad at his table, and was pained, even
disgusted, to discover that they were heartily in favor of the change.
Beeman, who, as a first-string man and a veteran, should have had more
sense, was eloquent on the merits of the new plan, and Stuart retired
disgruntledly from the subject. The left guard made himself more
obnoxious by taking it for granted that his views were the captain’s.

Stuart’s hike to Coach Haynes’ quarters in the village after dinner
produced no satisfaction, for the coach wasn’t there. He waited
awhile, but Mr. Haynes didn’t come. Having to hurry back to school
under an ardent September sun so as not to be late for a half-past-one
recitation didn’t improve Stuart’s temper any. It was in the gymnasium
at three-thirty that he finally unburdened his mind. His arraignment
wasn’t nearly so harsh as he had intended it should be, for Mr. Haynes
was so palpably sincere in his regrets that Stuart had to pull in his
horns at the very beginning.

“I wouldn’t have had it happen for anything,” declared the coach
earnestly. “I was certain that I had spoken of the matter to you,
Captain Harven. I surely intended to. I went into it with quite a
number of the fellows, I know. So many things have come up the past
week, though, I’ve been so rushed and confused, that probably I failed
to consult you.”

“You certainly did,” replied Stuart stiffly. “And, naturally, I was
rather surprised this morning to learn that the matter had come up and
been decided.”

“I should say so!” Mr. Haynes was evidently grieved. “Of course you
should have been consulted, and I can’t see how I failed to bring it
up to you. You’re quite sure it wasn’t mentioned? There was that long
talk we had in your room one night――――”

“It wasn’t mentioned then, sir, nor at any other time. Perhaps I
wouldn’t mind so much if――if I approved, but I don’t, Mr. Haynes.”

“Really? By jove, I’m sorry to hear that! So many of the fellows
favored it, you see, Harven. No one I spoke to was against giving
the plan a trial. It isn’t an experiment, Harven, although it is new
here. We tried it out my last two years at Fisherville and it worked
splendidly. You couldn’t get one person there to-day to speak in favor
of the training table. We got far better results without it. We didn’t
lose a single game last year, and only one the year before. Three years
ago we lost four out of eight. That tells the story, doesn’t it?”

Stuart frowned, unconvinced. “How can you tell it was that, Mr. Haynes?
You might have done just the same with a training table, I’d say.”

“The condition of the fellows was better, Harven; thirty per cent
better at least. It isn’t rare beefsteak and thick cream and the rest
of the stereotyped training table diet that produces the best results.
I’ve seen teams spoiled by overeating time and again. Loading your
stomach with rich, heavy food is simply folly. It doesn’t make for
strength and energy, Harven. Plain food, plenty of it, but never too
much, is my belief.”

“If the fellows eat around at different tables, how are you going to
see that they eat what they should?”

“You don’t.” Mr. Haynes smiled. “They see to that themselves. It
doesn’t take them long to learn the lesson. Those who prefer to eat
what isn’t good for them to playing football are no loss to us. But
you’ll find there aren’t many such: perhaps one or two in a squad of
forty. It isn’t just a case of being put on honor, Harven; it’s a case
of using your common sense. If you don’t eat wisely you don’t keep
in condition, and if you aren’t in condition you don’t play on the
team. Just as soon as the fellows get that into their heads there’s no
trouble. The fare here is good enough and sufficient enough and varied
enough for any fellow to train on, Harven, and I’ll guarantee to show
you a better-conditioned squad by the first of November than Manning
ever saw here when training tables were used.”

“You couldn’t spoil the crowd we’ve got here this year no matter what
you fed them!” replied Stuart stubbornly.

“Oh, yes, you could! You’d only have to feed them on underdone beef
twice a day, and fill them with rich cream, and encourage them to eat
all they’d hold. I’ve seen it tried pretty often. I went through it
myself, too. I’ve been so logy after a dinner of that sort that it
was an effort to stretch my arms! Look here, Captain Harven, keep an
open mind on this question, won’t you? Just sit back and see how it
turns out. We both want to secure the best possible results this year,
and I think this is one way to do it. Don’t think that I’m simply
experimenting with the team, for I’m not. I’m convinced that this way
is the best. If I weren’t I wouldn’t consider it for a moment. I’m
mighty sorry that the thing went through without your cognizance, and I
certainly apologize for my share of the blame. But it has gone through,
and so, even if you don’t feel like giving it your full approval yet,
you’ll help me to make it go, won’t you?”

Stuart shrugged. “I don’t see how I could do anything else,” he
answered. “Only――well, I’ll wait and see. I’ve got to be shown, sir.”

“Quite right! We’ll leave it so. Now we’d better get out, eh?”

All during practice the conviction persisted in Stuart’s mind that,
in spite of Mr. Haynes’ smooth words something, as he phrased it to
himself, had been put over on him. He felt aggrieved, even humiliated,
and regretted that he hadn’t talked up to the coach harder than he
had. The trouble was, he reflected, that Mr. Haynes was so blamed
polite and plausible that you couldn’t talk the way you wanted to!
Instead of interfering with his work, however, Stuart’s grievance that
afternoon induced redoubled exertion, and he drove A squad so hard and
put so much vim and snap into his work that, in the twenty minutes of
scrimmaging, the veterans twice carried the ball nearly the length
of the field for a score. The Laird, hovering up and down the side
line, frowned dubiously. Such speed had no place on a gridiron where a
thermometer, had there been such a thing, would have registered around

Going back to the gymnasium afterward, Stuart charged Jack with black
treachery. “You knew what was going on, didn’t you?” he demanded.
“Stearns must have talked about it. Why didn’t you say something to me?”

“Why, I thought you knew!” expostulated Jack. “Of course Stearns
mentioned it, but there wasn’t much talk. I knew you didn’t like the
scheme and I supposed you were putting up a fight.”

“It’s mighty funny,” growled the other. “Every fellow in school seems
to have known all about it except me! It’s the silliest stunt I ever
heard of! First thing we know Haynes’ll be springing a scheme to cut
out practice!”

“Well, he hasn’t shown any sign of it yet,” replied Jack dryly. “Looks
to me like he was a plaguey sight more likely to overwork us than
underwork us! We’ve had more hard practice in a week than we had last
fall in two weeks! And you’re as bad as he is. Looked like you were
trying to play us off our feet to-day!”

“Do you good,” muttered Stuart. “Are you in favor of no training table,

“Well, I don’t know,” said Jack cautiously. “I do think that we
sometimes ate too much last year. I’ve seen Joe Cutts get away with
two steaks and three baked potatoes, besides all the trimmings, at one
meal. And you’ll remember that half of us were no good at all for a
whole week in October last season. The Laird said we’d been eating too
many eggs and too much milk.”

“Well, we won, didn’t we? A touch of biliousness is nothing. You can’t
keep thirty-odd fellows in perfect trim every day for two months. That
stands to reason. Eating too much doesn’t help, of course, but eating
the wrong sort of stuff is worse. And that’s what a lot of chaps will
do when there’s no one to look after them. Haynes says it worked fine
at Fisherville, but Fisherville isn’t Manning. Besides, they always
take mighty good pains at Fisherville to take on only teams they know
they can lick!”

“I guess it isn’t that bad,” laughed Jack. “You don’t like Fisherville;
that’s your trouble. The truth is, though, that Fisherville turned out
just about the best and smoothest team in this part of the country last
fall, and you can’t get around that, old chap.”

“We’d have beaten her if she’d given us a chance,” growled Stuart.
“They’re mighty careful not to give us a game.”

“Haynes said the other day he would arrange a game next season.”

“He may think so,” answered Stuart pessimistically, “but Fisherville
will find an excuse. You wait and see.”

Later, Stuart sought sympathy from Neil and, after a fashion,
got it. Neil agreed that Stuart should have been consulted in the
matter; agreed, too, that doing away with the training table was most
unfortunate if Stuart’s forebodings should prove justified. “Maybe,
though, Mr. Haynes meant to consult you, as he says he did,” continued
Neil. “I guess he has had a good deal to think about since he took
hold, eh? It’s all pretty new to him, Stuart. It was decent of him to

“What’s the good of his apology?” demanded the other impatiently.
“Whether he meant to consult me or not, he didn’t, and it makes me
feel rather small, naturally. I’m captain of the team, and I ought to
have a little say in its affairs. It doesn’t look as if I were going
to, though! Haynes has the Athletic Faculty with him, and can do as he
likes, I guess. I should think either Jud or Stearns might have asked
my opinion before buckling under to him. They’re supposed to look after
the interests of the fellows, but all they think about is pleasing

Neil let that pass without comment. After a moment he asked: “Do you
really think it will work badly, Stuart, this new plan?”

“Oh, I don’t know. But what’s the good of it? We got along all right
before, didn’t we? Why does he have to come and upset things?
Faculty’s crazy to give in to him this way, too.”

“Well, let’s wait and see how it turns out,” advised Neil. “Mr. Haynes
must think he’s right, or he wouldn’t advocate it. If he’s wrong, of
course they’ll go back to the training table again. Just don’t let it
upset you, Stuart. That’s the main thing. Steady on, eh?”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter about me,” muttered Stuart ironically. “I’m only
the captain!”

                               CHAPTER V

                         A CLASH OF AUTHORITY

Manning disposed of Lansing High School the next day without difficulty.
The score, 20 to 0, did not, in fact, represent the true strength of the
home team, for in the last half Coach Haynes ran in a bewildering number
of substitutes who, while they held the opponent from scoring, were not
able to add to the twenty points already won. The Cherry-and-Gray showed
excellent form, rather better than was customary in a first contest, and
Manning strolled away from the field comfortably certain that this
year’s “Cherries” were going to prove themselves one of the Big Teams in
the school’s history. Indeed, with practically six seasoned veterans to
build around, there was no apparent reason why the team shouldn’t turn
out to be as good as any in recent years. Stuart was in gay spirits that
evening, and only the fact that his proposal of Neil to membership in
Lyceum was to be acted on kept him from joining Jack and “Howdy” Tasker
and Fred Locker and several more of the football crowd in a visit to
Safford’s one movie house. Jack, bursting hilariously into Number 12
after supper with an announcement of the party, had to be satisfied with
Neil’s acceptance. Stuart watched them join the others at the gate and
go off along School Lane, and felt rather virtuous and heroic.

When he reached Lyceum House he found that various Saturday night
diversions had reduced the attendance at the first regular meeting to
less than a score of fellows. Stearns Wilson was there of course, for
he was President, and so, in his rôle of faculty director, was Mr.
Moffit. Thurston, Whaley, Tom Muirgart and Steve Le Gette represented
the football element. Stuart wasn’t especially pleased to see Le Gette,
who was a big, dark-complexioned, curly-haired fellow of eighteen, a
senior and candidate for a tackle position. Stuart had nothing especial
against the other. He doubted if they had spoken a hundred words to
each other since they had been in school. But he didn’t like Le Gette’s
sardonic smile, which always made him feel that the big black-haired
fellow was secretly laughing at him, and he was pretty certain that Le
Gette liked him no better. But his annoyance at sight of the other――if
it deserved the name――was slight and passing.

The secretary was painfully long-winded with his report, but he
finished it at last and at least six members relievedly moved its
adoption. Balloting on the names of five candidates for election
started then. Neil’s name came last, and Stuart made his little
speech――and did it very well since he had the knack of talking well
to an audience――and Stearns Wilson seconded the proposal very nicely,
saying much more than Stuart had dared hope he would when he had
enlisted his aid. As no one asked Mr. Moffit’s opinion, the director
could not enter the lists on behalf of the candidate. But after all,
Stuart reflected, it was of no consequence, for among the small number
present there was surely no one to vote against a fellow as well liked
as Neil. Even as he made this reflection, though, his gaze fell on
Steve Le Gette and an instant’s doubt assailed him. But it passed
quickly. Blackballing a candidate for election to Lyceum was something
that wasn’t done without good cause, without strong conviction of
the candidate’s undesirability, and Le Gette scarcely knew Neil and
certainly could have nothing against him. George Whaley briefly added
his second and voting began. Each member walked to the table, picked
a ball from the outer compartment of the box and dropped it into the
inner. Conversation, interrupted by the speeches, began again. Stuart,
talking to Mr. Moffit, faltered as he watched Le Gette stride to the
box and cast his vote, and then secretly laughed at himself for his

Will Severence, the secretary, drew aside the cover as casually as
he had on four previous occasions. Then, however, his manner altered
abruptly and he glanced swiftly, questioningly about the room. After
a moment’s hesitation he announced: “One contrary vote, fellows,” and
held up a little black ball. A second of silence followed. Then several
spoke at once, but it was Muirgart’s voice that was loudest.

“Some silly mistake!” he exclaimed incredulously. “No one would be
crazy enough to turn down a fellow like Orr!”

“Of course,” agreed Stearns Wilson. “Must be a mistake.”

“Try it over,” suggested Thurston.

It was irregular and some discussion followed, but in the end, since
every one appeared willing and Mr. Moffit smilingly declined to give
a ruling, the vote was taken a second time, and in silence. Severence
once again surveyed the result, and there was a troubled tone in his
voice as he answered the silently questioning gaze of the meeting.

“Just the same,” he said. “One black.”

“_What!_” Stuart half started from his chair, but Mr. Moffit laid a
gently restraining hand on him.

“Oh, I say, that’s a rotten shame!” declared George Whaley. “What’s
the idea?” He appealed frowningly about the room. “Look at the fellows
we’ve taken in already to-night! I’d like to know who’s got it in for

“Well, don’t scowl at me,” growled Thurston. “I didn’t do it.”

“Same here!” “Nor I!” Several voices disclaimed until Stearns Wilson
rapped sharply on the desk. “Is there any further business?” he asked.
Stuart again made as if to rise and again Mr. Moffit’s hand restrained
him. Some one moved adjournment, some one seconded and the meeting was
over. Whaley and Muirgart moved toward Stuart, but he was already on
his feet, making for the door, his face black with rage. He pushed past
them with a muttered growl. Taking his cap from the table in the hall,
his gaze unwittingly encountered the face of Steve Le Gette through the
open door and their eyes met. Le Gette’s countenance seemed to Stuart
to express a triumph at once derisive and amused. Mr. Moffit called
from the doorway an instant later, but Stuart, already crunching the
gravel of the Principal’s Walk, either did not or pretended not to hear.

Neil was back in Number 12 when Stuart reached it, comfortably reclined
in a morris chair, reading. Stuart closed the door behind with a slam
and shied his cap to the bed. “The dirty pup!” he raged. “The sneaking
bounder! But I’ll get even with him if it takes all the rest of my
life! He can’t do that to me and get away with it!”

Neil’s cheeks went a little white, but he only smiled as he said: “No
use getting mad about it, Stuart. He had a right to turn me down if he
wanted to, I guess.”

“No, he didn’t, by jingo! He――Look here!” Stuart paused in his
irritable tramping between door and table. “How’d you know?”

“Must have guessed it from your manner,” laughed Neil. “How many were
there against me?”

“One, but that was enough. It was Steve Le Gette, the dirty dog. He
doesn’t like me, but that’s no reason to take it out on you! Just
because I put your name up――――”

“Are you sure it was Le Gette?” Neil looked puzzled. “Why, I don’t even
know him, except by sight! Why should he――he――――”

“Because he wanted to get at me, I tell you! But I’ll get _him_, Neil,
as sure as shooting!”

“Did he tell you he did it?”

“Tell me? Of course he didn’t! He wouldn’t have had the courage to tell
it! But he looked it. It was on his ugly face from the moment I got
there. I half suspected it, but I couldn’t quite think he’d do it, even
if he wanted to. Every one there was so――so astonished they wouldn’t
believe it! We took the vote over! If you’d seen the sneering, rotten
look he gave me afterwards! I wish I’d punched his face right then. If
Moffit hadn’t been there――――”

“I’m glad you didn’t,” said Neil quietly. “After all, it’s rather my
affair than it is yours, isn’t it?”

Stuart stared in real surprise. It hadn’t occurred to him before that
Neil might be the one to feel it most. Even now he wasn’t ready to
acknowledge it.

“Not by a long shot,” he declared. “The insult was to me. He’s got
nothing against you, couldn’t have. If any one else had proposed you
he wouldn’t have cared. If I’d realized I’d have had Thirsty or Whaley
do it. I’m not through yet, though. I’ll get you in next term, you can

“I’m not sure that I’d want you to,” said Neil doubtfully. “Isn’t there
something a little――well, a little degrading about coming back like
that after you’ve been shown once that you aren’t wanted?”

“Not a bit! Look here, Neil, every fellow there wanted you in, and they
were all as surprised and――and mad as I was! You bet I’ll try again!
And I’ll make it go, too! When I get through with Le Gette he won’t
know a black ball from a white!”

“I’d lots rather you just let the whole thing drop,” said Neil
earnestly. “Taking revenge on Le Gette isn’t worth while. Besides,
being blackballed isn’t――well, it isn’t altogether pleasant, and I’d a
heap rather not have it talked about, and all that, you know.”

“I’m not going to talk about it,” answered Stuart grimly. Then, after a
moment, getting Neil’s point of view, he added: “It’s nonsense to feel
that way about it, though, old chap. Lots of fellows are turned down
for Lyceum or Manning without any one thinking anything about it. And,
gee, some fellows get three and four black balls against them! Every
one there to-night knows that it was just spite-work. You don’t need to
let it worry you one mite.”

“Thanks, but I’d rather you didn’t go after Le Gette, Stuart, if you
don’t mind very much. In the first place, you have no real proof――――”

“Proof enough,” growled the other.

“And in the second place, it’ll just make talk. Let’s forget it.”

“Not on your life! There won’t be any talk, Neil, but Le Gette will
know that I’ve settled with him!”

Neil said no more. He believed that by morning Stuart would have calmed
down somewhat. And it wasn’t wise to oppose Stuart beyond a certain
point, anyway. He just got more set in his notions. Stuart returned to
the subject several times before sleep settled down over Number 12.

Had Stuart encountered Le Gette the next forenoon there would probably
have been an explosion; perhaps blows. But, as luck had it, he didn’t,
and by eleven-thirty, at which time an open hour fell to him, he had
thought of a better, more subtle method of revenge. He went into the
village and found Mr. Haynes. The coach, sitting in his shirt-sleeves
by an open window of his living room, listened silently to the tale.
When Stuart had reached the end of his eloquence he lighted his briar
again and said: “Too bad, Harven. Possibly, though, you’ll be able to
make it the next time. From what I hear, this chap Orr is too fine a
fellow to be treated like that.”

“He’s a corker,” declared Stuart stoutly. “Yes, I’ll make it the next
time all right, Mr. Haynes, but it’s this time that I’m talking about.”

“I see. Well, was there something you wanted from me? I’m afraid I’m
not in a position to be much help to you, as much as I’d like to.”

“Why, I came to you because I wanted you to know just what a rotter Le
Gette is! I’m not going to have that sort of a fellow on the team, sir.
We don’t want his kind. The others wouldn’t if they knew. Of course,
I’m not going to tell it around. It’ll get around without my telling,
anyway. I just wanted you to understand what the reason was, Mr.

The coach blew a cloud of smoke from his lips and through it viewed
Stuart in a puzzled fashion. “Let me get this right, Captain Harven,”
he said after a moment. “Am I to understand that you’re proposing
to――well, dispense with Le Gette’s services on the team?”

Stuart looked surprised, too. “Of course! I propose to fire him! What
else is there to do? A fellow like Le Gette isn’t fit for the team.
That’s what I’m here about.”

“I see.” Mr. Haynes was silent for the better part of a minute, while
Stuart watched him with dawning suspicion. Then: “I don’t think the
position you take is tenable, Captain Harven,” he said gently. “Because
a private quarrel exists between you and Le Gette you propose to
deprive the squad of a very clever player. Now――――”

“The quarrel has nothing to do with it,” replied Stuart impatiently. “I
can look after my own quarrels. But Le Gette did a sneaky, contemptible
act. Don’t you see that? A football team is――is――well, in a way it’s
a society, Mr. Haynes, a club. It has its social side as well as its
other, and we don’t want to have dealings with a fellow like Le Gette,
a fellow that will make a personal matter the excuse for harming one
whom he doesn’t even know.”

“Are you sure you aren’t making this a personal matter, too? Are you
sure it’s because you want to guard the members of the team from the
contaminating influence of Le Gette? Or are you merely trying to get
even with him? Better think about that a minute.”

“Of course I’m sore against him,” answered Stuart resentfully. “I don’t
deny that. Any fellow would be. But, just the same, I’m acting for
the――the welfare――――”

“Granting that, though, Captain Harven,” interrupted the coach, “how do
you know that Le Gette really did what you say he did? As I understand
it, there is no way of telling whether a voter drops in a black ball
or a white ball at your elections. Has Le Gette acknowledged he voted
against Orr?”

“No, not in words. He doesn’t have to. I _know_! His looks were enough.
Besides, he was the only one there that could have! The others all
wanted Neil elected.”

“Well, suppose you’re correct in your assumption,” said the coach.
“There is more than a reasonable doubt, I’d say, but suppose you are.
Do you seriously ask me to fire Le Gette for this offense and on this

“No, for I’ll fire him myself,” flared Stuart. “I’m captain of the
team, even if being captain doesn’t amount to much this year! At
least, I fancy, I’ve got the right to say whether or not a player is
fit to be on the team!”

Mr. Haynes shook his head gently. “I doubt that, Harven.”

“What! Do you mean to say――――”

“Exactly.” The coach’s voice was quiet but very firm, very assured.
“I mean, Captain Harven, that it is the coach’s place to select the
players. That I take to be one of his duties. If he is to instruct a
team in football he certainly has the privilege of deciding who shall
belong to that team; in other words whom he considers eligible to his
instruction. And if he has the power to choose the members he must
surely have the power to dispense with them.”

“Where does the captain come in in your scheme?” sneered Stuart.

“The captain has the duty of leadership,” replied the coach, without
appearance of offense. “The team selected, he becomes its head,
responsible to the coach for its obedience to his orders and, more
than all, for its morale. There should be close and frank coöperation
between captain and coach. The captain undoubtedly should occupy an
advisory position in all matters pertaining to the team. He should
act as a liaison officer between the players and the coach. I am sorry
that coöperation between us so far this season hasn’t amounted to
much. From the first, rightly or wrongly, I have observed an attitude
of resentment in you toward me. I have said nothing, in the hope that
it would pass, in the trust that you would soon set aside any slight
personal dislike of me that you had and meet me fairly and frankly
halfway. But this you don’t seem inclined to do. I’ll acknowledge
that the matter of the training table was unfortunate, but I think
that, were you perfectly fair to me, you would acknowledge that no
offense was meant and sponge it off the slate, Harven. Wait, please:
let me finish. There can’t be divided authority in the running of a
football team any more than there can be in any other effort toward
success. It is best to have the duties of your office and mine clearly
defined for our mutual understanding. I am paid a salary――two thousand
dollars, to be exact――to come here and do my level best to turn out
a winning football team. As I understand it, I am responsible only
to the Committee on Athletics and, under them, am in full command. I
couldn’t do the work justice if matters were any different, Harven.
You have been chosen the captain of the team, an intermediary between
the players and the coach. Your authority does not extend beyond that
of any other member of the team _outside_ the team. To grant you the
right to select and discharge players would be fatal to my authority.
You would become the court of last resort and your word would be law,
not mine. I couldn’t work under those conditions. Surely you must see
that, Captain Harven.”

“Until this year the captain has had an equal say with the coach in the
affairs of the team,” answered Stuart hotly. “Until you came there was
never any question as to who had authority or who hadn’t!”

“And until this year you were not captain,” replied Mr. Haynes coldly.
“I’m sorry, Harven. I wish things had turned out differently. Perhaps
I’m not wholly free from blame, but, frankly, I don’t know how to
handle you, my boy. I hope we’ll come together presently. Meanwhile
I’m here for just one thing. You know what that is. And I propose to
accomplish that thing. I want your help, need it badly, but, with it or
without it, I’m going to be coach of this team and hold the reins.”

Stuart jerked to his feet and stared down on his host with white
face and angry eyes. “You refuse to fire Le Gette, then?” he demanded

“I do, Captain Harven. I refuse most decidedly.”

“Suppose I say, then, that I won’t work on the team with him?”

“You can’t,” answered the coach earnestly. “You have a duty to the
school, just as I have toward my employer. Clashes between you and me,
my boy, must not be allowed to damage the prospects of the team. We’ll
fight our battles together off the field and not, as you say Le Gette
did, make the innocent suffer.”

Stuart’s eyes fell, but the hostility was still in his voice as he
answered: “All right, sir. I’m just as keen as you are for having
Manning win this year. You needn’t lay all the blame on me, though, for
not coöperating. You treated me rotten from the first. I shan’t forget
that. I guess you’ve got the Athletic Faculty behind you, so there’s
nothing for me to do but lie down and play dead! I’m not going to fight
you. If I asked for a show-down I guess the team would be on my side,
all right, but I’m not playing baby. I’ll see it through because it’s
my team as much as it is yours, even if you don’t think so. There’s
one thing, though, I’m promising myself, Mr. Haynes. When the season’s
over I’m going to give myself the satisfaction of telling you just what
I think of you!”

“When the season’s over I’ll be ready to hear it, Captain Harven,”
answered the coach quietly.

Stuart went out wishing mightily that slamming the door would not be
beneath his dignity.

                              CHAPTER VI


No one learned of that conversation in the coach’s quarters but Neil.
And Neil, although he said little, was, in Stuart’s opinion, none too
sympathetic. Which, of course, means that Neil didn’t approve of his
chum’s course and couldn’t conceal the fact. Stuart was sensible of a
slight disappointment in Neil this fall. The latter didn’t seem nearly
so sympathetic as last year, he thought. Somewhat moodily he listened
to Neil’s plea for concord and patience, at last replying rather

“Don’t worry. I know where I stand and I’m going to take my medicine.
Haynes has the upper hand and, short of taking the matter to the Ath.
Fac., there’s nothing I can do. And I guess the Ath. Fac., would back
Haynes against me, as far as that goes. He’s being paid a salary for
his job, and I’m not. They’d do as he said if only to get their money’s
worth. As for Le Gette――――”

He stopped, and Neil said anxiously: “Better forget all about him,
Stuart. There’s nothing you can do, anyhow!”

“There’s plenty I _can_ do,” answered the other grimly, “but I’m not
going to. Haynes is right about one thing, and I’m fair enough to say
so. The team’s success is the main consideration. I’ll work as hard for
that as he will, confound him!”

To Stuart’s credit it may be said that he honestly meant that and
earnestly tried to live up to the promise. If he didn’t wholly succeed
it was not for lack of good intention. Between him and Le Gette ensued
a period of armed neutrality. Stuart heroically resisted the temptation
to tell Le Gette what he thought of him, promising himself, however,
the pleasure of doing so after Pearsall had been disposed of. It was
in his power to make Le Gette’s path to the first team more difficult
of travel, perhaps, by underhand machinations, to keep him off it
entirely, but he had no thought of that. At work they spoke when they
had to. At other times they passed without greetings. Jack riled Stuart
one day by declaring that Le Gette seemed to him to be rather a decent
chap. “Of course I don’t know him,” he added. “I’m only judging by
what I’ve seen of him at the field.”

“You know what he did to Neil, don’t you?” asked Stuart hotly.

“Y-yes, but――well, honestly, Stuart, I’ve always thought there might
have been a mistake there.”

“There was,” replied the other dryly, “and he’ll find it out some day!”

On the seventh, Manning defeated Wentworth, 7 to 0, in a close,
well-played contest, and there began to be talk of getting through
the season without being scored against. A week later such talk
ended abruptly. On the Tuesday succeeding the Wentworth game the
Cherry-and-Gray met her first misfortune. Leo Burns, already picked as
the likeliest of the halfbacks, sprained his ankle in practice. It was
a bad sprain, with no chance of recovery in time for the Walsenburg
game, and Stuart’s confidence in the team’s ability to win that contest
had a setback. Of course it was no life-or-death matter, but he wanted
that game very much. Walsenburg was a stout adversary who had thrown
several scares into Manning during the last few years, but had beaten
her but once. Stuart knew that Walsenburg was thirsting for Manning
blood and even suspected her of duplicity in securing an early date.
Also, there existed a slight feeling of rivalry between him and the
Walsenburg quarter. All in all, Stuart would rather have won that
contest than any other on the schedule, with, of course, the exception
of the big game with Pearsall. He tentatively mentioned splints and
bandages to The Laird, but The Laird was emphatically opposed to taking

“He’d be little use, Cap, in the game,” he declared, “and if he was
hurt again he’d be out for the season. Yes, I know he’s keen for
playing, but there’s other games coming and we’ll need him worse than
we’ll need him next Saturday.”

“There isn’t any game coming, except Pearsall, that I’d rather win,”
replied Stuart dejectedly.

“Nor me,” agreed the trainer. “They’re a hard, corky bunch of lads, but
maybe we’ll down them just the same.”

“That’s likely, with Haynes making no effort for them,” said Stuart
bitterly. “He isn’t even giving us a new play! We’ll have to face them
with the same stuff we had last year, and they’ll eat it up, Laird!”

Nevertheless, Stuart hadn’t given up all hope, for even though Coach
Haynes had decided to make no special preparations for Walsenburg,
he knew that there was a strong sentiment among the players in favor
of beating the rival at almost any cost, and he was relying on that
sentiment to pull the team through. It was evident as early as the
first of that week that no help was to be expected from Mr. Haynes. He
had more than once declared himself against disturbing the early season
progress of the team for the purpose of beating an opponent. “We’ll
take them in our stride,” was his way of expressing it. There was not
a little criticism and some grumbling from the veterans, but the new
coach had by now pretty firmly established himself in their favor, and
openly expressed opposition to his decision was lacking.

Ernest Lowe took Burns’ place at left half and practice went on
methodically until Friday. On Friday evening Coach Haynes did call a
session in the gymnasium and gave them nearly an hour of floor practice
on formations and some ten minutes of good advice, but that was the
extent of his concessions. And the next day, when the line-up was made
known, he had, at least in the judgment of most, neutralized that by
putting Steve Le Gette in at right tackle in place of Ned Thurston. Le
Gette had been playing a good game as substitute, and Thurston had, it
was true, been under his form since the Wentworth contest, but those
who knew “Thirsty” were convinced of his ability to come back and were
far from pleased with the change. Stuart closed his lips very tight and
said nothing when the list was read, but on the way to the field he
confided to Jack bitterly that “Walsenburg ought to lick us, with our
own coach doing all he can to help her!”

From a Manning viewpoint the game left much to be desired. Looking at
it from the Walsenburg side of the field, it was a corker! Walsenburg’s
players were probably no better individually than the opponent’s,
but collectively they were just as much better as the final score
proclaimed them: and the final score was 13 to 6.

Walsenburg had developed team play to a remarkable point, considering
the time of year. Sticking to quite simple plays, starting from a
three-abreast formation, Walsenburg relied on speed, weight and
smoothness of operation to win. The Cherry-and-Gray was put on the
defensive early in the first quarter and kept there until the half
was over, while the enemy twice rushed her way to the home team’s
threshold, the first time losing the ball on downs on the eight yards
and the second time plunging across the line for a touchdown that was
followed by a goal. In the third quarter Manning staged a come-back,
and securing the pigskin on her own twenty-two yards she mingled two
forward-passes with an end-running attack that, aided by a penalty for
holding, placed her within scoring distance of the adversary’s goal.

After that it was only grim determination that enabled her to put
the ball over, for her plays, none of them new, were “old stuff” to
Walsenburg and were as often stopped behind the line as beyond it. It
was individual brilliancy versus team play, with the odds all in favor
of the latter, and yet for once the probabilities were upset, for,
from the visitor’s twenty-seven to her six, big, calm-eyed “Howdy”
Tasker, at fullback, smashed his way in four attempts, once plunging
for five yards outside left tackle quite on his own, the interference
having been nailed in its tracks. From the six, Manning ground down the
defense by concentrating on the Walsenburg right guard, throwing Tasker
and Hanson at him, and then Tasker again, and gaining a yard, a yard
and a half and another yard. On fourth down slightly over six feet of
trampled turf remained to be conquered, and, with Manning imploring
from the stand, Tasker again hurled himself at Walsenburg’s right guard
and Stuart, the ball snuggled to his stomach, shot off to the right,
head down, and plunged some how through the mêlée until, falling, his
hands held the pigskin just over the last white line.

Stuart failed at goal by less than the width of the ball and Manning
groaned dismay and sorrow, for at this stage of the contest it seemed
that the home team might hold the enemy from further scoring. But,
although Walsenburg appeared content to mark time for the rest of the
period, in the last quarter she again showed her power. Tasker’s weak
punt from his thirty-five to midfield gave the adversary her chance
and she set herself to the task with new energy. She had freshened
her backfield with a pair of substitute halfs and began a ferocious,
remorseless hammering of the Manning right side. Towne was worn down
and gave way to Baker, and Le Gette, who had performed creditably
at right tackle, was replaced by Thurston. But the enemy had almost
gained his objective by that time and was ready to shift his attack. A
crafty forward-pass, as well performed as it was unexpected, placed the
ball on the home team’s seventeen yards for first down. A fake place
kick developed into a quarterback run around left end, and, although
Stuart brought down his rival well across the field, the pigskin was
four yards closer to the goal line. From the thirteen yards Walsenburg
reached the five in three plunges through a weakening line. There
Manning braced and wrenched the ball from the enemy by inches and
Tasker punted from behind his line. But again the ball went short and a
Walsenburg halfback caught on Manning’s twenty-three and dodged back to
the fourteen.

Tasker and Lowe were taken out and fresh backs sent in. Cutts, at
center, was also replaced. But Walsenburg was not to be denied. A
double pass fooled Manning badly, three plunges at the new center
yielded gains and once more the enemy was inside the five-yard line.
The Cherry-and-Gray cohorts hoarsely pounded out their slogan of
“_Hold, Manning! Hold, Manning!_” but Manning was a played-out team now
and there was little glory for the visitor in her final triumph. Two
plays took the pigskin across, the second through a hole big enough
for a push-cart to pass and Manning tasted the bitterness of defeat.

That game, though it ended in disaster for Manning, was, after all,
nothing to hang one’s head over. Against a far-better developed team,
the Cherry-and-Gray had fought desperately and often heroically, and
this fact, when the first sting of disappointment had worn off, was
recognized by the school. In fact, the _Bulletin_, the school weekly,
was quite epic in its editorial the following Thursday, and likened the
battle to Thermopylae, and the home team to Greek heroes. It praised
Captain Harven highly for his generalship and individual playing, which
praise was certainly well deserved, and it spoke in glowing measure of
several others: Tasker and Towne and Cutts and Whaley; and even dripped
honeyed words on Le Gette. Perhaps the _Bulletin_ overdid it somewhat,
but it meant well.

One person who appeared neither depressed or elated over the result of
the Walsenburg contest was Coach Haynes. He placed criticism where it
was merited and commendation where deserved, and set his face toward
the Forest Hill game with no sign of disturbance on it. He seemed quite
satisfied and, certainly, voiced no regrets.

But Stuart took that defeat badly. Perhaps without realizing it, he had
half believed the optimists who had a week before bravely predicted
a clean slate for the season. I don’t think he allowed his hopes to
dwell on the possibility of the team getting through without being
scored on: that was less a possibility than an impossibility, but
he had dared hope for a season of no defeats. He believed, and was
justified in believing, that had Coach Haynes given the team even three
days of preparation for the Walsenburg contest it might at least have
emerged from it with a tied score. He had no sympathy for the coach’s
contention that a defeat was sometimes good medicine. At least, he
didn’t believe that true of a team of which he was captain. It might be
so other years.

Stuart’s dissatisfaction was increased by the reflection that, so far
as public opinion was concerned, he had failed to show any superiority
over the rival quarterback. Naturally, since the other had played on
the winning side, his work appeared more brilliant. Stuart tried to
comfort himself with the assurance that, man for man, he had shown a
little more than the Walsenburg quarter, but, lacking the confirmation
of public opinion, that assurance didn’t make him happy. He laid
his failure to win the decision over his rival to Mr. Haynes, thus
increasing by just so much more his account against the coach.

Stuart spoke his mind very freely to all save Mr. Haynes. Between him
and the coach there existed an armistice, respectful, but no more.
Stuart avoided private converse with the other, and at the conferences,
held twice, occasionally thrice, a week in the coach’s quarters, he
maintained an aloof attitude that, while it had no apparent disturbing
effect on Mr. Haynes, created a disquieting atmosphere of which the
others were dimly aware. It is doubtful if Stuart realized how evident
his antagonism was; doubtful, too, if, had he realized it, he could
have disguised it, for his resentment still burned very deeply. Stuart
took his grievance to the players and found sympathetic ears. Most of
the fellows held that it would not have hurt the progress of the team
if the coach had allowed them to take or tie the Walsenburg game, and a
few still nursed dissatisfaction as late as the following Monday. Most
of them, however, were willing to let bygones be bygones by then, and
were inclined to be bored when Stuart reverted to the subject. They
liked Stuart, were proud of him as a captain, credited him with the
brilliance as a player which he thoroughly deserved, but when it came
to a question of leadership they preferred to put their trust in Hop
Haynes. Stuart was all right, but――well, he was liable to fly off the
handle if any one tried to interfere with his methods or question his
opinions, and, after all, a football team needed a steady hand on the
lines. That was the general opinion among the fellows, although there
remained a handful whose personal allegiance to Stuart would have stood
them up in front of a firing squad at sunrise if he had led the way.
Among the latter was Jack Brewton. Jack however, was not ignorant of
his friend’s shortcomings. Rather, he realized them very thoroughly and
put his faith in Stuart in spite of them. While he would have stepped
at once to Stuart’s side and had an actual breach between captain and
coach transpired, he would have gone with his eyes open, and while he
was sympathetic toward his friend’s feelings he did not hesitate to say
what he honestly thought, as, on Monday.

“It would have been bully to win that game, Stuart, but Haynes is the
Big Boss, you know, and his business is training football teams. He
evidently thought it would be better not to put out the effort, and
it’s only fair to assume that he was right. The school’s paying him
real money for what he’s doing and all we can do is believe that he’s
worth his salary; at least until he shows he isn’t. And if we believe
that, we’ve got to believe he was right about Saturday’s game. Q. E.
D., or words to that effect.”

“Because you pay a coach a salary it doesn’t signify that he’s got all
the wisdom of Solomon or Walter Camp,” objected Stuart. “We could have
trained a week to meet Walsenburg and still been ready for Forest Hill
next Saturday. Forest Hill isn’t dangerous; and even if she were, any
of us would rather have lost to her than to Walsenburg. Haynes has got
you fellows hypnotized. All he has to do is strike an attitude and look
wise and you all say ‘A-ah!’”

Jack threw an arm over Stuart’s shoulders and shook him gently.
“Listen, old thing, you’re heading for trouble, and I wish you
wouldn’t. Just forget your grouch against Haynes and see how things
turn out. If he hands us a victory over Pearsall you’ll be one of the
first to forgive and forget. Better do it now and make that victory
more certain. Some of the fellows are talking already. They say you
don’t care what happens to the team so long as you can make faces at
Haynes. Of course that isn’t so. The old crowd understands, but there’s
a bunch of new chaps around who are getting gabby. Now, wipe off the
slate, Stuart, and start over. We’re all after success for the team.
Just let’s think of that and nothing else.”

“Oh, all right.” Stuart was silent a moment. Then he added: “It’s easy
enough for you chaps, but――but I’m captain! Hang it, what’s the good of
having a captain if he hasn’t any more authority than a third string
substitute? Since the season started I haven’t had a voice in one
single decision that’s been made! I’m sick of it, I tell you! For two
cents I’d throw it up! I would, by gosh!”

“Oh, no, you wouldn’t,” said Jack soothingly. “You’re not the sort to
desert under fire, old man. Come on and I’ll play you fifty points at
billiards before math.”

Stuart allowed himself to be dragged to Meigs where, perhaps not
without some connivance on Jack’s part, he ran out twelve points to the

After three weeks of trial, the plan of doing without the training
table appeared to be a success. At first some of the new candidates
took advantage of their freedom and ate not wisely but too well, but
they soon discovered that it didn’t work. The Laird had an eagle’s eye
for physical condition, and when a warning wasn’t sufficient a day or
two on the bench――and a four-lap jog of the track――brought the offender
around. Even Stuart was obliged to confess that the new plan was
working satisfactorily, although he made the confession without great
enthusiasm and only to The Laird. He and The Laird were very close
friends, and he could make admissions of this sort to him.

A week of hard practice followed the Walsenburg game and then Manning
met Forest Hill School and won decisively, 27 to 3, and the season was
half over.

                              CHAPTER VII

                      THE ATH. FAC. TAKES A HAND

Before the Forest Hill game was a thing of the past, however, the
dissensions between coach and captain had produced the inevitable
result. There was a feeling of disquiet and apprehension among the
players that showed itself in little but unmistakable ways and, while
as yet it showed no apparent effect on their work, threatened to impair
their morale sooner or later. There was a good deal of talk, a good
deal of discussion, and the fellows began to take sides. Five or six
of the veterans honestly considered that Mr. Haynes had been and still
was conducting the affairs of the team in a high-handed manner, and
while they credited him with the best of intentions they still held
that Stuart was “getting a raw deal.” To these faithful supporters were
added a few others who, caring little about the merits of the case,
loved a scrap for its own sake. To be fair to Stuart it should be said
that, if he did little to prevent this situation, he at least did
nothing intentionally to produce it. When he found that the players
were actually beginning to take sides he saw the danger and, not
hypocritically, declared that “Haynes was boss and it was up to them
all to obey orders and not shoot off their mouths.” That, though, only
brought knowing looks. Of course Stuart would talk like that: he would
feel that he had to!

The other side hinted disagreeably that the captain had a swelled head;
that he always had had and that it was bigger than ever since he had
been made captain: and that any fellow who couldn’t get along with a
chap like Mr. Haynes was a natural-born grouch. Stuart found support
and sympathy in an unsuspected quarter in the shape of manager Fred
Locker. Locker had nothing against the coach personally, but he had
spent three years at Manning and had seen things done differently,
and, while he had nothing to say publicly, he let Stuart know his
sentiments. He talked to Jack one evening, too, but he quickly agreed
with the latter that, whoever was in the right, Stuart mustn’t be
allowed to “mess things up and make a fool of himself.” The main thing,
of course, was to lick Pearsall and it was every fellow’s duty to work
for that result.

In the Forest Hill game Stuart played as well as he ever had, although
the incentive to great effort was lacking since the contest was
one-sided from the first. On Monday, however, when the first was
stacked up against the second and Saturday’s players were, contrary to
custom, sent into the scrimmage, Stuart was distinctly off his game.
Scenting an opportunity to triumph, perhaps, the second, coached by
Mr. Webster, who had long since earned the affectionate nickname of
“Old Unabridged,” started in with a whoop. Several of the fellows on
the first team who had played through the Forest Hill game slightly
resented being called on to-day. Some of them were a little bit tired,
or thought they were, which amounts to practically the same thing.
Among them was Stuart. His resentment was principally aimed at the
violation of a long-established precedent which allowed those who had
played through a Saturday game a Monday of rest or, at the most, the
lightest sort of labor. He didn’t much mind playing, although, as he
explained later to Neil, he “didn’t feel very zippy,” but the injustice
rankled. As a result he――well, he was pretty poor.

Second took the kick-off and came up the field hard, using a new
split-formation play that “Old Unabridged” had just taught them,
to such good results that they were on the first’s twenty-yard line
before any one knew what was happening. After that they tried twice to
bore through the center and then tried to heave across the left. Tom
Muirgart spoiled that, however, catching the ball just short of the
line, and the first lined up on her three yards. Stuart called for a
plunge at center, which yielded practically nothing, and then, instead
of letting Tasker punt out of danger, himself took the ball for a run
around the right. In the situation that was as unexpected a play as
it was hazardous. Perhaps Stuart expected its unexpectedness to make
it go, but if he did he was wrong. A big second team tackle slammed
through and got him before he could turn in and heaved him across the
goal line for a safety.

Some of his companions looked on him sorrowfully and reproachfully,
though only half in earnest. Coach Haynes spoke his mind quietly but
crisply. “Bad generalship, Captain Harven,” he said, as Stuart found
his feet again. “Too risky. You should have punted.”

Stuart, knowing all that quite as well as the coach, scowled and
bit his lip. The coach, about to add something further, caught his
expression and wisely changed his mind.

The second chose to kick-off and the pigskin floated high and far
toward the first team goal. Stuart claimed it and got under it near
the ten-yard line. The catch was not a difficult one. The other backs,
never doubting that he would make it, sped ahead to form interference.
The ball fell straight into Stuart’s hands and as straightly bounded
out again. He tried to get it on the bounce as it went on toward the
goal line, failed, and threw himself on it. Again misfortune met
him. The ball somehow wiggled loose and a second team end, who had
marvelously evaded the interference, crashed down across Stuart and
captured the pigskin.

From the seven yards the second carried over in four plays, choosing
Towne as a point of attack. Although she failed at goal, the second
had, beyond any possible doubt, won the game in the first six minutes
of play, and she rejoiced exceedingly and made herself most obnoxious;
so much so that Billy Littlefield came to blows with a second team
end and was yanked out by a stern referee. Stuart, sore and silent,
followed back to position to find Millard Wheaton awaiting him. “Wheat”
was trying hard to look regretful, but the attempt wasn’t very

“What do you want?” asked Stuart darkly.

“You’re off,” said Wheaton. “Sorry, Cap.”

“Get out of here!” Stuart pulled his head guard on with a jerk.

Wheaton, at a loss, turned to Tasker, but Howdy only shrugged. Of
course his duty was to call the referee’s attention to Stuart’s
refusal, but――well, Stuart was captain of the team, and so, after a
moment’s indecision, Wheaton trotted back to the side-line. Then Mr.
Haynes walked out with Wheaton in tow. Stuart, seeing, went toward them.

“Captain Harven,” said the coach firmly but quietly, “I sent Wheaton in
to take your place.”

“I intend to stay in, sir,” answered Stuart doggedly. “This is a
practice game and a boob play or two don’t matter.”

“I think differently. Kindly do as I say. We can discuss the matter

“No, sir! I’m captain and I’m within my rights, Mr. Haynes. I’m going
to play this period out. It wasn’t fair to work us to-day, anyhow. Some
of us are done up. If we make mistakes it’s because we oughtn’t to be
here at all. You can put Wheat in the next period if you like, but he
doesn’t play quarter now.”

Mr. Haynes looked a bit white, but he only nodded and turned on his
heel. Then: “Come on, Wheaton,” he said, and led the way back to the
side line. Stuart was aware that the other fellows were very carefully
avoiding looking at him. Harmon broke the silence and the tension with
a cheerful “Come on, First! Let’s get ’em!” and the whistle piped.

Stuart played the twelve-minute period out, as he had said he would,
and played very raggedly, although there were no more glaring mistakes.
When the teams went off, second still holding her 13 to 0 lead, Stuart
tried hard to look nonchalant and smiling and accepted the blanket that
The Laird tossed him with a joking remark. The Laird, though, shook his
head gently. Stuart froze up and watched the rest of the scrimmage in

He had plenty of time for second thought before the final whistle blew
and the first team trailed off to the gymnasium smarting under a 13 to
7 defeat, and in that time he decided that he had, in the accommodating
language of the baseball diamond, “pulled a boner.” He firmly believed
himself to have been justified in his refusal to accept dismissal
from the line-up. That didn’t trouble him. His mistake had been, he
concluded, in insisting on his right to remain. It would have been
better in every way had he protested with dignity and gone off the
field. He would have had the sympathy of his team mates, avoided the
possible charge of insubordination and added further evidence of the
coach’s high-handedness. As it was, he had the uncomfortable conviction
that he had made himself appear ridiculous rather than heroic. These
reflections were no aid to composure and peace of mind, and, although
he wanted to convey the impression that the incident had left him
undisturbed, no one was deceived by his studied attempt at nonchalance.
He took pains not to avoid Mr. Haynes, but did not seek to reopen the
discussion. For his part, the coach, rather graver than usual, seemed
to have dismissed the matter from his mind.

Stuart went back to Lacey from the gymnasium and recounted the incident
to Neil. He treated it lightly, even flippantly, but under the
lightness was an unconscious note of defiance. He didn’t expect Neil
to altogether approve of his action, but it was typical of him that
he always did tell Neil things whether he looked for commendation or
censure. Perhaps this was largely because the other’s judgments, for or
against, were invariably frank and honest. When Stuart had ended, Neil
smiled and shook his head.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you, Stuart,” he sighed. “You
do mess things up frightfully!”

“What about others?” asked Stuart in injured tones. “Who started the
trouble to-day?”

“Don’t be a goop,” begged Neil. “If some one shies a brick at you, is
there any reason why you can’t side step it? Whether you realize it
or not, you’ve been trying to make out a case against Mr. Haynes ever
since you got here. Of course, that’s poor business, but if you must
do it, why do everything you can to spoil it? No matter who was in the
right to-day, and I’m not enough of a football man to know, your cue
was instant obedience. Then, if there was any injustice, you’d have
had public opinion on your side. Can’t you see that, you chump? What
happened afterwards?”

“Nothing. He didn’t open his mouth, and so I didn’t.”

“You better, though,” said Neil earnestly. “See him this evening and
make some sort of an apology.”

“I will like fun!” exclaimed Stuart indignantly.

“You’ve got to,” Neil replied firmly. “You can insist all you please on
your rights in the matter, but you must own up that you acted wrongly.
You did, you know. That was a poor example to set the rest of the team,

The other was glumly, rebelliously silent for a minute. Then: “Of
course I did the wrong thing,” he acknowledged grudgingly. “Seems to
me I’m always doing it where Haynes is concerned. He gets my goat,
confound him! I had a good case against him to-day and I spoiled it,
just as you say. I won’t go over to his rooms and lick his boots, Neil,
but I’ll call him on the telephone after supper.”

Neil considered a moment doubtfully. After all, even that was quite a
concession from Stuart, and so he nodded. “All right, but be decent,
Stuart. Don’t talk haughty.”

“All right, but I won’t apologize: understand that! I’ll say I was
wrong in staying in after he told me to come out, but I _won’t_ say
that I didn’t have a perfect right to!”

But after supper, although Stuart went twice to the telephone
downstairs, Mr. Haynes didn’t respond, and so that near-apology wasn’t
made. There was much talk that evening among the players and even
Stuart’s stanchest upholders could find no good excuse for him. The
best they could do was plead extreme provocation; and even that was
challenged by the opposition. By the next day the school in general had
hold of the story and there were many and varied versions of what had
actually happened. The most sensational story had it that blows had
been exchanged between coach and captain. The school in general stood
loyally behind the captain, for, especially amongst the younger boys,
he was looked up to as a hero. Junior class fellows viewed his progress
across the campus that morning with an admiration so evident as to make
Stuart uncomfortable.

Returning from a recitation at eleven, he found an envelope in his box
bearing the inscription, “Manning School, Safford, Conn. Committee
on Athletics.” Communications from the Athletic Faculty, usually on
routine matters, were no unusual affairs, and Stuart slipped the
letter into his pocket with no disturbing premonition and only slight
curiosity. In fact, it was not until he had been in Number 12 for
several minutes and had settled down to dig for an impending hour
test in English that he recalled the missive and dug it from his
pocket. Since Neil was at a recitation, Stuart had the room to himself,
something that he was later very thankful for. He made nothing of the
letter at the first reading, for incredulity turned the phrases into a
meaningless jumble. Then, a puzzled frown between his eyes, he read it

    Mr. Stuart Harven,
      Captain Manning School Football Team,
        12 Lacey Hall.

    Dear Sir:

    At a meeting of the Committee on Athletics held this evening
    the following Resolution was passed:

    “Whereas, in the judgment of this Committee, Captain Stuart
    Harven has shown himself unable or unwilling to act in
    coöperation with the Coach in the conduct of the affairs of the
    Football Team, which fact this Committee considers detrimental
    to the welfare of the Team, it is

    “Resolved that Captain Stuart Harven be directed to appear
    before this Committee at eight o’clock on the evening of October
    26 and show cause why his resignation as captain should not be
    requested for the good of the Team; and that a copy of this
    Resolution be delivered to Captain Stuart Harven.”

                                  For the Committee on Athletics,
                                       Chas. E. Dodge, Secretary.

                             CHAPTER VIII

                        A NEW LEADER IS CHOSEN

Amazement slowly gave way to anger. The thing was so unexpected that
for a while he could not believe it, and the idea that it was a hoax
presented itself. But that theory vanished speedily and he faced the
truth. A sense of insult, of degradation mastered him and he crumpled
the letter into a ball and hurled it to the floor. He passed a bad ten
minutes, his wrath encompassing Coach Haynes and the whole Athletic
Faculty. Of the latter, though, it was the student members, Jud McColl
and Stearns Wilson, on whom his anger fell chiefly. They pretended to
be his friends. He could find excuses for the coach, for the coach
made no secret of his hostility, but McColl and Stearns had literally
betrayed him.

Finally he rescued the letter and smoothed it out and reread it. It
was plain enough, he told himself. They wanted him to go before them
and eat humble pie, perhaps apologize to Haynes! What they did not
want was his resignation. No matter if he had failed, from their point
of view, as a captain, he was still invaluable as a player. There was
no one to take his place at quarter. In spite of their bluff, they
couldn’t do without him, and they knew it! And he knew it! Stuart
laughed mirthlessly. Well, they’d see! If they expected penitence and
apologies they’d be fooled! He’d call their bluff!

He selected a sheet of school paper and went about the matter very
calmly. When it was finished his reply was a model of conciseness and,
he hoped, dignity:

    Mr. Stuart Harven acknowledges the receipt of the Committee’s
    communication of yesterday and respectfully tenders his
    resignation as Captain of the Football Team.

He considered delivering it personally at the Office but in the end put
a stamp on the envelope and dropped it into the box in front of Manning
as he hurried to his next class. He was no longer angry. He was excited
instead, excited and triumphant. He wondered how the Committee would
manage to crawl out of the hole he had placed them in, and he chuckled
as he pictured the surprise and chagrin with which his letter would be
received. That the resignation would be accepted never entered Stuart’s
mind. He might have to make concessions, but if there was any crawling
done, the Ath. Fac. would do it! He went into the class room in a very
cheerful frame of mind.

It was Neil who caused him his first qualms of doubt. Neil was
distressed and strangely pessimistic. “You must get that resignation
back before it reaches them,” he declared earnestly. “If you go to the

Stuart shrugged. “You can’t get a letter back like that. Besides, I
don’t want to. I’ve called their bluff, now let them get out of it the
best way they can!”

“But, Stuart, suppose they don’t want to! Suppose you’ve played into
their hand?”

“What do you mean, played into their hand? You don’t think they
really want my resignation, do you?” Stuart laughed in ridicule. “Not
much! Not unless they think I’d give up the captaincy and go right on
playing. And if they do think that they’ve got a fine big surprise
coming to them!”

“I don’t know,” Neil shook his head troubledly, “Mr. Haynes is against
you, remember, and――――”

“So are Jud and Stearns Wilson, and I’m not likely to forget it,
either,” interrupted Stuart in an ugly tone. “But if it came to a
show-down I guess there are plenty of fellows on the team――――”

“Stuart, if the Committee accepts your resignation the players won’t
have anything to say about it! Don’t you see that? They couldn’t do
anything if they wanted to. If you’d only waited and talked it over
first! I――I’m awfully afraid you’ve messed things up again!”

“Oh, piffle! You wait and see, old man. They’ll be talking mighty
small to-morrow. Jud McColl knows me well enough to tell them that I’m
not the sort to be kicked out of the captaincy and then keep right on
playing for them! Haynes knows it, too. He’s no fool, if he does act

But in spite of his pretended assurance Stuart began to wonder
secretly if he had, after all, made a mistake. Haynes had proved
pretty conclusively that he stood strong with the Committee. He began
to consider what would happen if they did the impossible thing and
accepted the resignation. Short of inciting the team to mutiny, he
realized, with a sinking sensation, that there wasn’t anything he could
do! And, for that matter, it might be that the number of fellows on
the team who would stand by him would be too small to cause anything
approaching a mutiny. And, besides that, Stuart wasn’t sure that he
would want a mutiny. That would be going too far. It would play hob
with the team and, no matter how it resulted, would set them back
badly. After all, even though the confounded bunch of old women that
called themselves the Committee on Athletics didn’t seem to believe it,
the success of the team was first in his thoughts! Then he banished
doubts. Neil was always more or less of a pessimist. Of course, maybe
it might have been wiser to have waited and talked it over a bit first,
but it was mighty unlikely that the Ath. Fac. would cut off its nose to
save its face, or, put differently, would lose a star quarterback to
retain its dignity!

There was no apparent knowledge of the Committee’s letter among the
fellows on the field that afternoon. Evidently the matter was still
a secret. Coach Haynes was the same as usual, formally polite to
Stuart, and the unpleasant incident of yesterday seemed to have been
forgotten. Stuart went at his work with a resolution to emphasize his
value to the team and played the game with all the dash and brilliancy
of which he was capable. It was one of his good days and he made the
most of it. “Old Unabridged’s” pets were torn asunder and trampled on,
out-generaled and out-fought, and the first walked off the field at the
end with a 17 to 0 victory.

“Now,” said Stuart to himself, “let them go ahead and fire me!”

His high spirits, though, failed to lighten Neil’s gravity.

Jack came over to Number 12 that evening and he and Stuart talked a
good deal of football and a good deal of other things, and, apparently
there was no cloud in the sky. But Neil didn’t have much to say, and
when rallied by Jack only smiled and answered that he was far too much
awed by so much brilliance to venture remarks of his own. Stuart,
realizing the real reason for his roommate’s quietness, had brief
moments of uneasiness.

Oddly, when morning came, he awoke with the feeling of uneasiness
vastly increased, and, although he told himself that there was no cause
for anxiety, he remained nervous all during breakfast and through his
first two classes, and it was with positive relief that, at half-past
eleven, he returned to Lacey and spied a letter in his box. Up in
Number 12, he hesitated for a long minute before he slit the envelope.
When at last he did so and read the contents his face paled. After that
he sat for many more minutes, the letter in his hand and his eyes fixed
broodingly on the floor.

It was a very polite missive, almost cordial in spite of its brevity.
It thanked Mr. Stuart Harven for his communication, appreciated his
spirit of loyalty to the school, accepted his resignation with regret
for the necessity for doing so and hoped that the incident would not
be allowed to affect his interest in the Team’s success or impair his
usefulness. When Neil came in later Stuart had recovered his poise. He
handed the letter to Neil with a smile that, if it didn’t deceive Neil,
established the attitude which Stuart was to hold for some time. Neil
said nothing for a moment after he had read the epistle. When he did
speak he only said gravely: “I’m sorry, Stuart.”

Stuart shrugged. “Why, so am I, in a way,” he replied with seeming
candor. “I guessed wrong, and no fellow likes to make mistakes. As for
the rest of it, resigning and all that, why, I’m not sure it isn’t a
good thing, Neil. Trying to get along with Haynes is a good deal of a
job, and the next fellow will find it out. And I’ll miss playing, I
suppose, for awhile.”

Neil nodded. After a moment he said tentatively: “This oughtn’t to stop
you from playing, Stuart.”

Stuart laughed shortly and mockingly. “Oh, of course not! I ought to
keep right on, eh? Maybe I could get a job lugging the water pail!
Don’t be a coot, Neil! If I’m not good enough for captain, I’m not good
enough to play quarterback.”

“How about the team, though? This isn’t going to make you want Pearsall
to win, is it?”

“No, but they won’t need me. Wheaton’s a good man, and once I’m out of
his way he’s bound to be a lot better.” Stuart didn’t sound convincing
even to himself, though, and he added: “Anyway, I’ve got some pride,
Neil, and I’m switched if I’ll go back there as a private in the ranks
to be grinned at by every whippersnapper of a fourth-string substitute
and lorded over by Haynes! No, by golly, they’ve got what they wanted
and now they can go ahead and make good. All I say is, whoever the new
captain is I pity him!”

That ended the subject for a while, for during the next few days it was
carefully avoided by both.

The School heard the news that afternoon, and, as was to be expected,
excitement prevailed. On the whole, however, the thing created less
sensation than Stuart, for one, looked for. Among the players sides
were taken and argument raged, but Stuart’s partisans were vastly in
the minority, and if he had secretly hoped for anything approaching a
protest against his resignation he was disappointed. His own attitude
in public was one of smiling, half-contemptuous amusement. He made no
charges in words, no matter what his manner expressed. A fair sample
of his explanations to those who questioned, was his reply to Greg
Trenholme, the baseball captain.

“I just couldn’t get along,” he said. “There was only one thing to do
and I did it.”

Of course there were many who surmised that Stuart’s resignation had
not been offered solely without suggestion from the Committee on
Athletics and who freely published that surmise, but the truth of it
was never established. Stuart dropped out of the team and remained away
from the field, and what news he had of football affairs he received
from Jack. Jack was plainly sympathetic and sorry, but Stuart couldn’t
help feeling after the first few days that Jack was accepting the
situation with surprising equanimity. The fact was that the unfortunate
incident once accepted, Jack’s principal sensation was one of relief.
Affairs had been going far more smoothly at the field since Stuart’s
departure. The feeling of tension had disappeared, and, with Coach
Haynes alone in command, the players knew where they stood. Of course
Stuart was missed at quarter, and there was no one in sight who
promised to more than half fill his shoes, but Jack’s loyalty to his
friend couldn’t disguise for him the fact that so far as the welfare
of the team was concerned Stuart’s absence was more of a blessing than
a misfortune. He, like Neil and several others, had suggested that the
loss of the captaincy need not keep Stuart off the team, but with a
similar result.

“Nothing doing,” laughed Stuart. “When I quit, I quit. When Haynes
appoints a new captain you won’t need me.”

“What’s Haynes got to do with choosing a captain?” asked Jack.

“Why, isn’t he going to?” asked the other innocently. “Who is, then?”

“The players, of course,” answered Jack. “There’s a meeting called for
to-morrow night. It’ll probably be Howdy Tasker.”

“What’s the matter with you getting it?” asked Stuart.

“Me? Gosh, I couldn’t captain the team!”

Two days later, Stuart heard the result of the meeting. “Nobody
would accept,” said Jack gloomily. “We had Howdy nominated and he
refused point-blank. Then we tried to elect Joe Cutts and then Billy
Littlefield, and they lay down on us. So――――”

“Weren’t you nominated?” asked Stuart.

Jack nodded. “Yes, but I wouldn’t make any kind of a captain. Well, it
ended up with no election. Now, they say, the Ath. Fac. will appoint
some one. No one seems to want it, though.”

“You were a chump not to accept, Jack. Why didn’t you?”

Jack looked uncomfortable. “I told you, didn’t I?” he growled.
“Besides, I wouldn’t want to take it when――after you――――”

Stuart laughed. “I thought that was it,” he said. “Well, you should
have taken it, old man. I’d rather see you captain than any one. If
any one could get along with Haynes it’s you, I guess. If you get the
chance again you take it and stop being a silly ass.”

Jack shook his head, “I don’t believe I’d want it,” he muttered.

That was Sunday morning. Monday Jack sought Stuart again just before
dinner. “Look here,” he began, plainly embarrassed, “they’ve gone and
done it, the crazy jays.”

“Done what?”

“Appointed me captain. The Ath. Fac. I got word half an hour ago. Isn’t
that the limit?”

“I don’t see anything to be insulted about,” answered Stuart. He tried
to sound cordial, but he didn’t succeed. “You’d better accept, I’d say.”

“Fellows tell me I’ve got to,” muttered Jack. “I’d a heap rather not.
It――it seems sort of rotten. I mean toward you.”

Stuart laughed shortly. “Don’t mind me, Jack. I’m out of it completely.
You wouldn’t do me any good by refusing.”

“You’re quite sure you wouldn’t mind?” asked Jack anxiously.

“Absolutely, old son. Go to it!” Stuart managed to get the right note
that time, and Jack caught it and smiled his relief.

“Well, then, I suppose I’d better,” he said. “I’d a lot rather you
still had the job, though, Stuart, and I’d hate mightily to take it
if――if you didn’t like it. You know that, eh?”

“Sure!” Stuart did know it, and appreciation of Jack’s loyalty made the
word sound genuine. “Some one’s got to be captain of the team, Jack,
and it might as well be you. In fact, you deserve it, old man, and I’m
glad you’ve got it!”

And he really thought he was glad, but after Jack had gone off,
relieved and quite cheerful, he found himself wondering how much of
his friend’s reluctance had been real and how much feigned. Certainly
he couldn’t blame Jack for wanting the captaincy. Any fellow would be
glad of the honor. Of course some chaps might have refused under the
circumstances, but perhaps not many. Friendship didn’t mean an awful
lot, after all, to the average fellow, and possibly he ought to give
credit to Jack for asking him about it before deciding: if, that is,
Jack hadn’t already made up his mind to accept the captaincy before
coming to him! Stuart’s lip curled a little. He guessed Jack wouldn’t
have let the chance get away from him whether he――Stuart――had liked it
or lumped it!

                              CHAPTER IX

                             OUT OF A JOB

Stuart borrowed some clubs from Fred Locker and tried to interest
himself in golf and, for several afternoons, with Neil swinging
along beside him on his crutches, haunted the links. But impatience
and ineptness soon proved too much for a lukewarm enthusiasm and
that means of passing the time was discarded. Stuart relied on Neil
almost pathetically that first week, and the latter good-naturedly
put himself at the disposal of his chum and tried his best to be of
service, neglecting his studies on many occasions and not infrequently
getting pretty tired in accompanying the other over the roads or across
fields. As nimble as he was, the crutches hurt cruelly after a while,
and Stuart, trying, it seemed, to escape from the sounds of punted
balls and the cries of the players on the gridiron, set a lively pace

Stuart’s own studies suffered, too, and they could ill afford to
since football duties had left him in none too good a standing. On
Friday Mr. Moffit summoned him to his study in Holton and Stuart went
over there dejectedly that evening after supper. However, the English
instructor didn’t prove formidable. He managed to make the boy talk
about the loss of the captaincy and, perhaps because he was tired of
pretending, Stuart made a clean breast of the affair, from first to
last, finding his audience sympathetic and obtaining much relief from
the confession.

“Harven,” asked Mr. Moffit when Stuart had ended, “do you recall a
conversation we had here one afternoon before school started?” Mr.
Moffit’s eyes twinkled. “We discussed, among other things amenability.
I think some one had charged you with a lack of that quality, and we
denied the aspersion with the contempt it deserved and substituted an
over supply of self-dependence.”

Stuart nodded gloomily.

“Oh, well, that gets us nowhere, does it? One of the most puerile
pursuits that the human creature indulges in is weeping on the graves
of dead actions. There’s nothing in it, Harven. Just clang the cemetery
gate, stick your hands in your pockets, pucker your lips and whistle
bravely. And then tackle the next job. Of course we do learn by past
mistakes――at least we ought to and some of us do――but there’s nothing
to be gained by beating the breast and putting ashes in the hair. Now
then, what are you doing?”

“Doing?” asked Stuart vaguely.

“Yes. You’re out of football. What’s taking its place? I’m fairly
certain it’s not English A!”

Stuart smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry about this morning, sir. I――I
didn’t even look at the stuff yesterday.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” laughed Mr. Moffit. “Well, if it
isn’t study that’s occupying your mind and time, what is it?”

“I guess nothing much. I’ve been walking around. And I tried golf,

“There! I knew you had some intelligence, Harven!” the instructor
beamed. “Golf ought to be just the thing for you.”

Stuart shook his head. “I’m no good at it, sir.”

“Who is? I’m probably the poorest player that ever swung a club. But I
don’t let that worry me. Not too much, anyhow. I promise myself that
some day I’ll know so much golf that I’ll have to write a book about
it to keep from bursting! You’re eighteen――Seventeen, is it? Well, of
course you’re starting perhaps ten years too late, but you’ve a good
chance to make good. My misfortune is that I never heard of the game
until I was nearly thirty. Got any clubs?”

“No, sir, I borrowed some from a fellow.”

“Take mine then. They are in the closet over there doing nothing. I
hate to open the door and get the reproachful looks they give me! It
may be imagination, Harven, but sometimes when I awake at night I could
swear that I hear them whimpering. Take them and use them. Break them,
if you like. I’m sure a golf club would rather be broken than idle!”

“Thanks, sir, but I don’t believe I’ll try it any more just now. I――I
don’t seem to be able to get my mind on it.”

Mr. Moffit sighed. “You’re right then. Don’t try golf when you can’t
give it every thought. It’s divided attention on the links that has
enriched the men who make golf balls. Well, if not golf, what then?”

Stuart shook his head again. “I’ll find something, sir. I mean to try
basket ball later.”

“Don’t wait until later, Harven. Find something at once and put your
heart into it. Do you row?”

“No, sir, not much. I can scull a bit.”

“A pleasant diversion, but not absorbing, I fear. Well, think it over
and tackle something. And come and see me about the middle of next week
and tell me what it is. Will you?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

“Good! And just one more thing, Harven. When you go out of here I want
to see you put your shoulders back and hear you whistle!” Mr. Moffit
was on his feet and holding his hand out. Apparently the interview was
at an end, but the subject of English A had been scarcely touched on,
and as Stuart shook hands he said:

“I’ll try to do better in English, Mr. Moffit. I’m sorry――――”

“Bless you, I didn’t ask you over here to talk English to you,”
interrupted the other heartily. “I was after the cause, Harven――the
effect was apparent. Come out from under the weeping willows and hit
the sunshine trail, my boy! That’s the first thing. Then find something
to do and do it hard. After that English A and all the other courses
will pretty nearly look after themselves! Good night.”

Outside, Stuart heard Mr. Moffit’s window go up and the instructor’s
voice called: “Harven! You’re not doing it, you know! Shoulders back
and whistle, you duffer!”

Stuart laughed and obeyed.

He met Coach Haynes only twice or thrice in that week. He made no
effort to avoid him, but their paths seldom crossed. When they did
meet they spoke politely. Rather to his surprise, Stuart found that
his enmity toward the coach was leavened by a large admixture of
respect. The coach, he reasoned, was an open and avowed foe who had,
when all was said, fought fairly. Some day not far distant Stuart
meant to go to him and tell him just exactly what he thought of him,
but until that delectable moment he would treat him with the dignity
and respect due one warrior from another. But toward the Committee
on Athletics, faculty and student members alike, he cherished a dark
wrath. Especially toward Judson McColl and Stearns Wilson was this
anger directed. They, as it seemed to Stuart, were veritable snakes
in the grass. He got a good deal of unconscious comfort from that
anger and suffered a distinct loss when he was forced to abandon it.
That happened one morning when toward the end of the week, he met
McColl face to face in front of the library and, instead of returning
McColl’s friendly “Hi, Stuart!” gave him a coldly contemptuous look and
passed silently on. Almost any other fellow but the President of the
Student Council would have shrugged his shoulders and thereafter let
Stuart alone, but McColl wasn’t the sort to do that; which is, perhaps,
one reason why he was President of the Student Council and of Manning
Society. Unexpectedly, Stuart felt himself grasped by the shoulders and
pushed gently but very, very firmly against the library wall. Judson
McColl regarded him good-humoredly yet sternly.

“Let’s get this right, Stuart,” he said quietly. “Why the haughty brow
and the frozen glare? Come across, old man.”

Stuart came across promptly, glad of the chance, and McColl heard him
out patiently. Then, however, he told Stuart things that fairly took
the ground from under Stuart’s feet. “Stearns and I were against the
resignation business from the start,” he said, “but we had the three
faculty members against us right along. We didn’t make much of a fight
against that first resolution, for we thought it might be a good thing
if you came and talked it over with the Committee. Where you made your
mistake was not doing it, Stuart. When you sent your resignation in
Stearns and I did everything we could to get the Committee to lay it
on the table and appoint a sub-committee to see you, but Pierson and
Wallace and Dodge wouldn’t stand for it. We called Coach Haynes in that
evening and he was flatly against accepting the resignation, but――――”

“_What?_” exclaimed Stuart.

“Yes, Haynes told us plainly that we shouldn’t accept your resignation
until we’d made another effort to smooth things over with you. But the
faculties were on their dignity, and Pierson said you’d had your chance
and had refused it. When it came to a vote Stearns and I were two
against three and we lost out.”

“I didn’t know that,” muttered Stuart.

“You know it now, son,” answered Jud McColl dryly. “It’s a pretty
good idea not to go off half-cocked, Stuart.” Then McColl laughed and
slapped Stuart on the shoulder. “Buck up and smile!”

Stuart managed the smile, but it wasn’t very hearty. “Sorry I made such
an ass of myself, Jud,” he mumbled. “Thanks for――for what you did.”

“You’re welcome, son. Sorry we couldn’t do more. If I’d had any idea
you were going to come back with that resignation like that I’d have
been around to see you. It wouldn’t have done any harm, you know, if
you’d met us halfway instead of flying off the handle like that. What
was the big idea?”

“Oh, I don’t know.” Stuart shook his head dejectedly. “I thought it was
Haynes’s doing and I was sore.”

“Well, of course, Haynes did put the matter before the Committee, but
he only asked to have things cleared up so the team would get along
better. I don’t believe for a moment that he wanted you out, old man.
Look here, why don’t you call it an even break and start over again?
Why not go out and help them along, Stuart?”

“Oh, I guess they don’t need me,” muttered the other. “Besides, I’d be
off my game.”

“Well, think it over and see if you can’t forget your hurt feelings. So

Perhaps it was unfortunate that, fifty yards further on, passing
Sawyer, Stuart almost collided with Steve Le Gette, and that to Stuart
it seemed that Le Gette’s startled look changed, as he sheered aside,
into an expression of malicious triumph. In any event, the chance
meeting drove out of Stuart’s mind any effect caused by McColl’s
advice. He certainly wouldn’t go back to the team as long as Le Gette
was there to sneer, he told himself!

Until three or half-past in the afternoons Stuart got along fairly
well, for there was plenty to occupy his mind, but when the hour of
football practice arrived he felt horribly lost. When you’ve been doing
a certain thing at a certain time each day for a long period you can’t
help missing that thing when it’s no longer there for you to do. Stuart
tried studying, but the silence of the well-nigh empty hall oppressed
him. Besides, the hours between three and six of a fine October day
were never meant to be wasted in poring over the pages of a text book!
Even Neil realized that and, though he would offer to remain in Number
12 and keep Stuart company, the latter always refused to allow him
to do so. Neil’s favorite retreat in good weather was a bench beside
the tennis courts, or, when there happened to be a match in progress,
the summit of the short ladder, from where he gravely made some such
announcement as; “The games are three――one. Mr. Spudkins leads.”
Several times he induced Stuart to accompany him to the courts, but
the football player didn’t entertain Neil’s enthusiasm for tennis and
after looking on through half a dozen games he got bored and restless.
He had really tried very hard to find interest in golf, but as he had
never played enough to more than learn the modus operandi he failed. He
might have found a place in one of the four-oared shells without much
trying, for he was a fair hand with a sweep and there were always from
three to ten dormitory and class crews in training during the fall, but
the plain truth is that he wanted to play football and didn’t want to
do anything else. Even to have gone to the field and looked on would
have been better than nothing, but pride forbade that. He was surely
at a loose end those days, and the fact that every afternoon for a
week provided ideal football weather made it seem that even Nature was
taking a hand in his chastening. But on the day of his enlightening
talk with Judson McColl chance offered him a solution of one difficulty.

He stopped at the bulletin board in the corridor of Manning and, for
want of a better way in which to pass a couple of minutes, read some of
the notices. The fact that Sawyer, 22 Meigs, had lost a gray sweater,
or that Lumkin, 8 Byers, wanted to buy a second-hand typewriter didn’t
engross him. Neither did a plaintive call for candidates for the
soccer football team. He was in a mood to bear with splendid equanimity
the failure of Sawyer to recover his sweater, the inability of Lumkin
to acquire a typewriter and the utter collapse of the soccer team.
But a moment later he came across an announcement that did excite his
interest. It was already a week or more old and it announced the date
of the Fall Handicap Meeting and stated that entries would be received
up to and including November 4. The notice was signed “Charles E.
Dodge, 2 Sawyer Hall.” Mr. Dodge was the Physical Director, and, with
The Laird, attended to the training of the track and field candidates.

Stuart reread the announcement and then frowned thoughtfully. In his
junior year he had won third place in the Spring Track Meet in the
mile and had just failed of capturing fourth in the half. Last year he
had won his place on the eleven and lost interest in the cinder path.
But somewhere there was a pair of spiked canvas shoes with his name
lettered on the lining in faded ink, and there was time enough for all
the practice he wanted. He didn’t believe for a moment that he could
finish the mile or get placed in the half mile, but it wouldn’t be
bad fun trying, and, which was really his reason for considering the
idea, the running track surrounded the second team gridiron, and from
the second team gridiron one could see very nicely what was going on
in first team circles! In other words, while he wouldn’t have gone to
the first team field and watched practice for anything, he could see no
reason why it shouldn’t be perfectly permissible to take up track work
and sometimes, in the pauses of practicing starts or after a jog around
the cinders, cast an occasional uninterested glance over toward the
big team. The more he considered the plan the better it looked to him,
and so, without more ado, he walked over to Sawyer Hall, discovered
Mr. Dodge in his study and put his name down for the mile run and the
880 yards. Mr. Dodge was in a chatty mood and Stuart had to stay and
talk much longer than he wanted to. The Physical Director did not,
however, refer to Stuart’s resignation from the football captaincy, and
so Stuart forgave him for his loquaciousness and tried hard to become
interested in track matters and the chances of capturing the Dual Meet
with Pearsall next May. Mr. Dodge observed, evidently quite sincerely,
that he hoped the team would have Stuart’s services when that time

When he told Neil that evening the latter was clearly puzzled. “Why,”
he said doubtfully, “I dare say you’ll get some fun out of it, Stuart,
but you’ll find yourself in pretty punk condition, I’m afraid. And
there’s only a few days left for practice.”

“Oh, I don’t expect to do anything,” answered the other. “I’ll probably
last about two laps in the mile and finish last in the other, but I’m
not doing anything just now, and a fellow ought to keep in some sort of
condition. I may go in for basket ball after recess. Or maybe hockey. I
wonder where those running shoes of mine got to.”

The next afternoon he was out on the track. The Laird, who found time
from duties with the football team to give a few minutes daily to the
track men, viewed his appearance with surprised approval and warned him
against overwork. Stuart dryly assured him that he had no reason for
uneasiness, and The Laird puckered his brows and nodded. Evidently the
new candidate for track honors wasn’t to be considered very seriously.
Mr. Dodge, however, appeared to entertain no doubts on the subject of
Stuart’s earnestness and, when he arrived to look after the candidates,
displayed an embarrassing and even annoying interest in the newcomer.
If only to keep from disappointing Mr. Dodge, Stuart was forced for
several succeeding afternoons to make a plausible pretense of training,
something that rather interfered with his observation of the first
team practice. Of course, he found himself hideously out of form and
suspected that some of the other candidates were viewing his presence
on the track with a mixture of sympathy and amusement. But he didn’t
mind that so very much. What he would have minded was the knowledge
that Coach Haynes and the football fellows were suspecting the real
reason for his proximity to the first team gridiron. But it is scarcely
likely that any of them, unless, possibly, it was Jack, gave any
thought to the matter.

After the third day on the cinders Stuart found that a little of his
former speed and stamina had returned to him, although he still doubted
his ability to give any of his competitors a real race in either of
the events for which he was entered, even if he had been inclined to.
Judging, however, by the time he spent on the track and beside it, you
would have thought him a most determined candidate, for he was always
one of the first to arrive and he never left until after the football
men had gone from the gridiron. If he spent most of his time sitting
around in his bathrobe and looking across the field, that was his own
affair. Hadn’t The Laird warned him against overwork?

                               CHAPTER X

                             THE HANDICAPS

The Fall Handicap Meet took place on a Thursday afternoon, and
practically the whole school turned out in the rôle of contestant,
official or onlooker. Of course there were some not present; the
baseball players, who were drawing to the end of fall practice; a few
tennis enthusiasts; a few others who preferred the river to the grand
stand; and the football men. But of the latter not all remained away,
for a handful had been given leave to take part in the events. Le
Gette and Leonard were there to toy with the shot and hammer, Earnest
Lowe was on hand to compete in both the pole vault and the sprints,
and there were as many others who had changed canvas for “shorts.”
Over fifty lads had entered, the Junior Class being rather better
represented than any of the others. Some thirty more fellows were on
hand in various official capacities, and among these was Neil Orr who,
as usual on such occasions, was one of the timers. Naturally, there
weren’t very many left to act as audience.

The afternoon was clear and there was warmth in the sunlight, but
a cool breeze blew down the stretch and kept the gaudily colored
bathrobes of the entrants wrapped tightly about lightly-clothed bodies.
When Stuart reached the track a little after three the field events
were already under way, and lithe, white-clad figures were busy at
the vaulting and jumping standards. He could see, too, the big form
of Steve Le Gette poised momentarily like a statue ere he sent the
shot away. Stuart’s first event was the half mile, and that was set
for three-forty, and so, clutching his robe closely about his bare
legs, he seated himself on the turf beside Tom Hanson. Tom, excused
from football work for the afternoon, was entered for the 100 and 220
events. Half a dozen other contestants were in the group, watching the
trials of the 100-yards hurdles which had just started.

“Didn’t know you were in this game,” observed Hanson as Stuart joined
the group. “What’s yours, Cap? Quarter mile?”

Tom had used the title from force of habit and probably didn’t know
that he had used it, which Stuart realized after he had shot a quick
glance at the other’s smiling face. Stuart explained that he was down
for the half mile and the mile.

“Haven’t done much running lately, have you?” Tom asked.

“Not much. Won’t to-day, probably. Thought I’d just like to keep my
hand in, you know.”

“Meaning your legs,” chuckled Tom. “Well, you’ll have plenty of company
in your events, I guess; especially the mile. About every junior who
has two good legs thinks he’s a miler. I know, for I did myself when I
came. Ran fourteenth in a field of thirteen, or something like that,
and then The Laird got me to try the sprints. Mighty glad he did, too,
for it was only the fact that I could manage the hundred in ten flat
that got me on the football team. That was last year. Remember?”

Stuart nodded. “Certainly do, Tom. That was some run of yours in the
Forest Hill game. Eighty-five yards, wasn’t it?”

“Eighty, to be truthful. Or half a yard more, maybe. It was a funny
piece of luck. I’d been sitting on the bench ever since the season
started and hadn’t been in a game. Fair enough, too, for all I could do
was punt a bit.”

“How about run?” laughed Stuart.

“Well, yes, I could sprint, but I mean I wasn’t much use as far as
football stuff went. That day they laid Pitkin out cold in the first
quarter, if you remember, and then Ernie got a kick in the head and for
some reason or other Coach picked on me. That was in the third quarter,
close to the end of it, and the ball was about seven yards from our

“Yes, and third down, too, with only two to go,” added Stuart grimly.
“Forest Hill had us beaten, 9 to 0. Anyway, we all thought so.”

“So did the coach,” chuckled Tom Hanson. “Anyway, he just told me
that here was a good chance to improve my education, and to go on
in at right half. ‘Any orders, sir?’ I asked, mighty knowing. He
looked disgusted and said: ‘No, except you can tell those Little Lord
Fauntleroys out there to bring the ball back when they get through
playing with it!’ He was sore, all right.”

“We all were,” said Stuart reflectively. “Forest Hill had been
making goats of us for three periods and we didn’t seem able to help
ourselves. Gee, we didn’t know enough football to play a night school!”

“Well, that was certainly a lucky fumble,” mused Tom.

“Lucky for us,” grunted Stuart. “Those fellows were so certain of that
touchdown they thought they didn’t have to really play. I saw the ball
jump out of the back’s hands and I tried mighty hard to get through to
it, but Stoughton was in my way. I yelled ‘_Ball! Ball!_’ until I was
hoarse, and no one seemed to hear me. Our line was just pushing and
shoving, like a lot of fellows paid by the day! They didn’t seem to
realize that nothing was hitting them and that the whole Forest Hill
team was chasing the ball! Guess you were the only other chap of our
crowd who saw the blamed thing was loose!”

“I thought I’d never get around to it,” said Tom. “It rolled out to the
left of our line and I had to upset Lever to get him out of my way.
When I got to it luck played right into my hands. It was still bobbing
around, with about six of the enemy grabbing for it. Just as I edged in
it must have hit a pebble, I guess, for blamed if it didn’t hop about
eighteen inches into the air and right into my paws. After that it was

“Yes, awfully easy,” said Stuart derisively. “All you had to do was get
clear of the whole Forest Hill mob and run eighty yards!”

“Well, no one troubled me much,” answered Tom.

“N-no, not after you’d got going good, but I had seven varieties of
heart failure for a while. Boy, you surely traveled!”

“Had to! Besides, I was fresh as a daisy. Just as soon as I’d worked
out of the crowd I knew I was all right. There wasn’t one of that bunch
who wasn’t too tired to give me a race.”

“That got us the game,” reflected Stuart. “Gee, but I’ll never forget
how crazy we were when we saw you go over that line! After that we just
got it into our heads that Forest Hill wasn’t such a sight better than
we were, and we tore her up.”

“It looked like we’d started too late, though, until you got off that
forward pass to ‘Mudgard.’ Even then I wouldn’t have bet much on our

“No, for Burns had a mean angle to kick from and there was some wind.
Not much, but plenty to queer his aim. At that, if you remember, the
old pigskin hit the bar going over!”

“Sure do,” chuckled Hanson. “I remember lots of things about that game.”

“I’ll bet you do. I guess you remember the way the fellows got up and
cheered you when you came in to supper that night, for one thing!”
Stuart laughed softly. “You certainly were the popular guy that time,

“Oh, shucks! Anyway, that got me started. That’s why I say I’m glad I
didn’t make a miler. If I’d finished that race much better than twelfth
or thirteenth――anyway, last but one――I’d have gone right on running the

Stuart nodded. “And we’d have lost a crackajack half, Tom. Glad you
were so rotten. Bet you, though, I’ll do even worse to-day than you

“Oh, I guess you’ll finish pretty well up,” said Tom. “Of course that
poor fish, Lantwood, will win. Say, I can’t stand that chap.”

“Well, he isn’t horribly attractive to me,” responded the other, “but
I’ve nothing against him. He certainly can run the mile; and the half,
too, for that matter. What have you got against the lad, Tom?”

“Oh, I’ve heard two or three things,” answered Tom vaguely.

“Such as what?”

But Tom shook his head. “I’d rather not tell, Cap. They might not be

“Then why do you put stock in them?” laughed Stuart.

Tom grinned. “Well, I’m satisfied that they are true, but――oh, well,
they mightn’t be! Say, how did he manage to make Lyceum, anyway?”

“I forget who backed him. He came in with a crowd last January.”
Stuart’s brow darkened. “It is funny that a chap like Austin
Lantwood can make the society and a decent fellow like Neil Orr gets
blackballed! It makes me sick.”

“That’s so,” Tom agreed. “It was rather putrid, I thought. Ever learn
who did it, Cap?”

“I know who did it, all right,” replied Stuart morosely. “And he’ll get
his some day.”

“Well!” Tom viewed his companion speculatively. “Guess it wasn’t the
fellow I thought it might be, then.”

“I don’t know who you thought it was,” said Stuart, “but there’s just
one fellow it could be.”


But Stuart’s reply was prevented by the stentorian summons to the
half-milers and he left Tom and went over to the starting line. Jud
McColl was in charge there, and when Stuart had answered to his name
he was sent down to his mark. Only Austin Lantwood stood on scratch.
He was a tall, thin, pale-faced, upper-middler with colorless hair
and light blue eyes. But he had the runner’s build and the muscles of
his stem-like legs worked like oiled machinery under the skin. Tully,
a senior, came next. Then half a dozen more were sprinkled along the
cinders to where Stuart was stationed with three others, evidently
all juniors, somewhat nervous and jumpy. Still others were placed
here and there around the turn. Secretly, Stuart considered that the
handicappers had been more flattering than charitable in awarding him
his allowance. Still, he was so little concerned in his fortunes that
he couldn’t muster up even a mild indignation. After the usual delay, a
pistol went off behind him and he sprang forward. It took six strides
to secure the position next to the rim, and he had to yield place to
one of the juniors to reach it. After that he settled into a fair
pace and determined to hold it, no matter what happened, until he had
reached the end of the backstretch on the second, and last, lap.

There had been nineteen starters and when Stuart was well into the
backstretch on that first lap more than half of the number were ahead
of him. Lantwood didn’t pull up and past until the last turn was
behind. Tully was close at his heels, with Farnsworth, one of Stuart’s
classmates, coming stride for stride with him. The bell rang for the
final lap with the field well bunched in front of the stand. But after
that the runners began to string out. Just past the first turn Lantwood
sprinted and took the lead and Tully fell into third place, with
Farnsworth still keeping pace with him. Stuart was then eighth man, and
until he was well into the backstretch he had some notion of bettering
his place. But the next moment he realized that he would be lucky to
finish, for Lantwood was setting a fast pace and Stuart’s breath was
going fast. Halfway along the back he fell into tenth position, and
from there on he ran in genuine distress. He got back his wind a little
at the last corner, but he was still in bad shape and finished just
about dead-beat in tenth place. Lantwood won in good time by something
over twelve yards, with Tully second, a junior Levering third and
Farnsworth a poor fourth. For a few minutes Stuart was too busy getting
his lungs working as they should to display much interest in the
result. He was convinced that running was not his game; at least that
running the half mile wasn’t; and was seriously considering having his
name scratched for the mile.

But there remained half an hour before that event was to be run, and
maybe he’d better wait and see how he felt. After all, it was sort of
yellow to give up so early. He could at least start. Hanson, who had
won into the finals in both sprints, told him he had run a good race.

“I was watching you, Cap,” said Tom, “and you surely handled yourself
well. Of course your trouble is that you haven’t had enough work. I
wouldn’t wonder, though, if you’d do a heap better in the mile. Guess
the longer distance and the slower pace is your meat. Let some one
pace you for the first three laps, Cap. Then you don’t have to trouble
about your time so much. Get in behind Tully, if you can. He’s a mighty
steady runner and you can depend on him to take you to the fourth lap
in good shape. Old Tully’s a fox at the running game. Maybe he isn’t
as fast as Lantwood, but he always finishes with something left, and a
couple of years from now he will be getting a lot more firsts than that
poor simp.”

“I might almost think, to listen to your talk, Tom, that you didn’t
like Lantwood.”

“Oh, he can run,” answered Tom, “and so can a coyote.”

“Ever see one?”

“No, but I’ll bet he’d look a lot like Lantwood!”

“I won’t bet with you. Guess I’ll go over and see what sort of a
handicap they’re giving me for the mile.”

“Don’t you know?” demanded Tom incredulously. Stuart shook his head.
“Well, you surely are taking a big interest in this business! Are you
quite sure you’ve got your name down?”

Stuart grinned. “Why anticipate trouble, old son?” he asked. “It’s
bound to turn out that they haven’t given me more than half the
handicap I ought to have.”

“Now,” answered the other approvingly, “you sound like a real

“Thanks. Hope you cop your sprints, Tom. What do you think?”

“Guess I’ll get first in the two-twenty, with any sort of luck, but I’m
not likely to do better than third in the other. Lowe has that cinched,
and Bannister’s a bit better than me at the distance. I’m a rotten
starter. Ernie always has two yards on me at the gun.”

“Well, there’s your call. Let’s see you beat the bunch, Tom.”

Tom’s prediction regarding the 220-yard dash proved correct, for
he finished well ahead of the other three men, but, later in the
afternoon, he was proved to be slightly wrong as to the short sprint.
Instead of finishing third behind Ernest Lowe and Bannister, he
finished second, with Bannister ahead and Lowe behind. For once, as he
confided to Stuart afterwards, he had beaten Ernie away from the mark,
and his satisfaction over that achievement far exceeded his pleasure in
winning the two-twenty! But Tom Hanson was not the only contestant of
the afternoon who succeeded in accomplishing the unexpected.

                              CHAPTER XI

                             THE LAST LAP

“_All out for the mile run! Milers this way!_”

Stuart was glad when the summons came, for the hour was growing late,
the shadows were stretching far across the field and the air was
getting decidedly chill. Even the woolen bathrobe no longer sufficed
to keep the cold from his legs, and only by frequent exercising and
rubbings was he able to hold the muscles from tightening. Many of the
patient spectators were wandering shiveringly down from the stand to
loiter up and down the side of the track. The field events were over,
all save the pole vault. In that Ernest Lowe was still fighting for
first place with Kendall, a lower middler and a horse of the darkest
hue. Already the school record had been broken and there was every
indication that the Dual record would share the same fate.

Neil swung himself over to where Stuart pranced about down beyond the
first turn. “Go get ’em,” he called cheerfully as he approached across
the turf. Stuart shook a gloomy head.

“A swell chance,” he protested. “Look at the handicap! A hundred and
forty yards in a mile run! A lot of good that will be to me! And
there’s Smiley over there with more than two hundred.”

“You’re better than he is, though, aren’t you?” asked Neil.

“Maybe a little,” allowed the other disconsolately. “But I’m too cold
to run now. My muscles are all twisted up. It’s a crazy piece of
business to keep us hanging around like this!”

“I guess the others are just as cold,” said Neil cheerfully. “There’s
quite a bunch of you, isn’t there? Must be nearly twenty.”

“For two cents I’d quit,” muttered Stuart, looking back up the track
that was sprinkled with runners.

“I wouldn’t,” advised Neil. “You may do a lot better than you expect
and be mighty glad you ran.”

“Oh, I’ll do the half, anyway,” replied the other grudgingly as the
warning cry of “_On your mark!_” floated down to him.

“Well, good luck,” said Neil. “Don’t start off too fast.”

Stuart nodded, his face set forward now, his hands tightening on the
cork grips. After a long moment of suspense the pistol rang out and
Stuart jogged into his stride.

A mile race is seldom of much interest to the spectators during the
first two laps. The positions of the contestants change so gradually
that there is no thrill to be had. Infrequently a runner sets out to
run down an opponent, but the spurt is soon over. Stuart overhauled
a junior on the first lap and was himself passed by Candee, a rather
stocky senior who used so short a stride that the wonder was he could
keep it up for the three laps that was generally his limit. At the
starting line shouts of encouragement awaited the runners as they sped
past, and Stuart heard his own name from several lips. It was Tom
Hanson’s voice, however, that sounded loudest.

“Nice running, Cap!” shouted Tom. “Lengthen out a bit!”

Stuart realized the wisdom of that advice, for he had unconsciously
been clipping his stride and running high. He was fairly in the ruck
as he approached the corner. Farnsworth was edging past him and half a
dozen others were strung along in front and behind. Not content with
the pace directly in front of Stuart, Farnsworth ran wide at the
beginning of the turn and then edged in ahead of a long-legged junior
who had not been able to hold his generous handicap. Stuart considered
passing the junior, too, taking pace from Farnsworth, but the result
seemed not worth the effort and he hugged the inside rim and pegged
on. His body was warm enough now and his muscles, in spite of his
earlier fear, were supple and responsive. Also, he had found his wind
nicely. He was, in fact, thoroughly enjoying the battle, and the idea
of quitting at the end of the second lap was forgotten. Farnsworth was
a dozen yards away when Stuart straightened out on the backstretch, and
the long-legged junior was slowing up. Stuart went outside the latter
and slipped back into place beside the four-inch boards. The breeze had
passed and the evening air was still and frostily cold. As he came to
the next turn he saw, across the turf, the face of the old stand, dyed
orange-red in the rays of the sinking sun. All around the quarter-mile
path now the contestants were strung, a few palpably out of the race
and only persevering from motives of pride. He couldn’t see either
Lantwood or Tully without turning his head, but he felt that the former
at least was fairly close behind. He wished that Tully would pass
him, for he had not forgotten Tom Hanson’s advice to tie to the more
experienced miler and hold him to the end of the third lap at least.
But Tully didn’t show up. Stuart promised himself to be ready to go
after him when he did.

It was Lantwood who passed first. He chose the straightaway for the
maneuver, spurting where the watchers were clustered thickest about
the track. Stuart reflected that that was like Lantwood, for the
pasty-faced youth always played to the gallery when he could. He didn’t
let Lantwood’s sprint hurry him, however, and went past the mark in a
babel of sound acclaiming the delight of the spectators at finding, at
last, something to cheer about. If any one hailed his passing he didn’t
know it, for Lantwood’s spectacular burst of speed brought forth an
acclaim that drowned all other applause.

The first corner found his feet growing heavy and his breathing
beginning to shorten, but he had the comforting assurance that the
others were in a like case, some more so, some less. He could not,
however, help glancing enviously at the fleet-footed Lantwood. The
latter was some forty yards ahead, leading the field, his head up and
his thin legs working like two pieces of machinery. That, acknowledged
Stuart, was real running, and he was momentarily impatient with himself
for having the temerity to pit his own amateur efforts against such
ability. But the _pat-scrunch_ of shoes beside him put the thought out
of his mind and he turned his head a fraction to see who was passing

It was Tully, big and raw-boned and earnest. There was something
impressive about Tully’s running, even if he never finished better than
second or, more often, third. Tully set his pace a dozen strides from
the start and never changed it. He knew how fast he could run four laps
of the track, and he made his plans accordingly. If the pace he set
wasn’t hard enough to wear the other man out, why, that was something
else. Some day, Tully promised himself, his pace would do the trick. It
was only a matter of finding the pace that, persisted in from the start
to finish, would carry him to victory. Meanwhile, those who depended
on a final, heart-bursting sprint to carry them the last part of the
way won from him only tolerant contempt. Whether he finished first or
second or tenth, Tully would always step off the track with a tranquil
countenance and walk unhesitatingly to the dressing room. Stamina was
old Tully’s long suit, and, as The Laird observed frequently, if the
Dual Meet provided for a two-mile run Tully would win such an event at
a jog!

Tully never glanced aside as he went slowly, methodically past Stuart,
and gradually took the pole again. Behind Tully ran Walton, and Stuart
had no intention of letting the latter by just then. Stuart increased
his speed for a half-dozen strides and placed himself behind Tully.
From there he went on like the bigger fellow’s shadow, matching stride
for stride. Of the twenty or so who had started only a dozen were left
in the running, although all but three were still jogging about the
track, hopelessly distanced. Ahead of Stuart were five men: Lantwood,
with nearly a quarter of a lap lead; a red-headed fellow whose name
Stuart did not know; Smiley who, although he had lost much of his
handicap, was still running nicely; Farnsworth, who was falling back
at the turn, and Tully. Farnsworth appeared to have shot his bolt too
soon, for he was evidently in distress already. Stuart’s own condition
was not, he reflected, anything to boast of, but he could still pound
out the strides and still keep his head level. Toe to heel with Tully,
he took the corner and drew up on Farnsworth. The latter was wobbling
badly. Across the next corner, Stuart observed that the unknown redhead
was slowing up.

The gong had clanged the beginning of the last lap, announcing that
Lantwood had crossed the mark. At that moment Tully edged outward and
Stuart took his cue from the big fellow and they went past Farnsworth.
Then the straightaway began, with the crowd about the finish line. The
gong clanged again. That would be either the redhead or Smiley, thought
Stuart. He couldn’t see which was ahead. A moment later he was himself
passing the crowd, and cheers for Tully and for Harven were sounding
loudly. Stuart thought he heard Tom Hanson’s voice, but he wasn’t sure.
It didn’t matter, anyhow. Nothing much did matter but the fact that
Tully was setting a hard pace to follow. Of course Tully hadn’t altered
his speed a mite. It wasn’t that. It was merely that Stuart was getting
to the limit of his endurance, or thought he was, which was much the
same thing.

The turn brought a certain relief and encouragement. Another corner
would bring the backstretch, and after that the last turn and then the
homestretch. Halfway down the further side of the track, Lantwood was
going easily. He was not running so fast now, but he didn’t have to.
He had the race as certainly as if he was already stepping across the
line. There was no longer any question of who would win, if there ever
had been. All that remained to be settled was the matter of second,
third and fourth places. Well, if he could hold out, Stuart reflected,
he would be sure of fourth position. Tully would get second, of course,
and Smiley third. The redhead was beaten, plodding away with head
swaying and his stride short. They’d pass him at the next turn. Funny,
thought Stuart, if he and old Tully were to fight it out for fourth
place, for Smiley still had a comfortable lead and still seemed able.
He wondered what handicap Tully had had. Not much, probably, for the
old warrior was a real runner at the mile. A swift glance over his
shoulder showed Stuart that the nearest pursuer was at least thirty-odd
yards behind and in poor shape. No danger from that quarter.

The red-haired youth dropped by them as they turned into the
backstretch. Ahead, Smiley was having trouble. Stuart could see the
uncertainty of his stride. Once Smiley’s head came back, was recovered
and fell sidewise for an instant. Perhaps, then, it was to be third
place he was to fight for, and the thought gave him a thrill. But,
halfway along the stretch, his own legs began to go back on him. They
didn’t feel as if they belonged to him any more. His head, too, got
silly. It wouldn’t stay where it belonged. Something was wrong with his
neck, for the muscles pained him and felt knotted. But of course one
didn’t stop so long as he could still get his breath and keep his feet
moving. If the rim of the track would keep out of his way and not try
to trip him up he could do better. If he ever caught a spike in the

Tully’s body leaned to the left. Stuart got a better grip on himself
and followed around the corner. There was a lot of noise from across
the field. Perhaps Lantwood had finished. No, Lantwood was still in
sight, just vanishing into the lane formed by the crowd. Ahead, but
considerably nearer, was Smiley. Stuart guessed they’d beat Smiley. He
wondered if Tully hadn’t slackened his speed a mite. Here they were
at the last corner already, and if Tully would only hit it up a bit
they might get by Smiley before the finish came. But Tully kept on
untroubledly. Stuart, sobbing for breath now, wobbling a bit more on
the legs that didn’t seem his, was impatient. Didn’t the silly idiot
_want_ to win second place? What was the matter with him? Why, Smiley
was all in; any one could see it; and all they had to do was speed up
just a little to pass him!

A dozen strides further on Stuart became angry. He wanted to call out
to Tully and tell him to sprint, but he knew there was no breath left
him for any such purpose. Then, without reasoning a moment, he eased
his pace a fraction, turned slightly and ran even with the big fellow.
He wanted to say “Come on!” but he couldn’t even close his mouth to
form the words. For three strides he matched strides with Tully, and
then drew ahead. He had no longer any conscious thought of winning
second place. Ahead of him, only a little way ahead of him now, was
the faltering Smiley, and Stuart wanted to pass Smiley. He couldn’t
have explained just then why he wanted to, but he did. It was a sudden
obsession. The sight of Smiley’s swaying form ahead affronted him. He
closed his dizzy eyes and forced himself on.

The sound of excited cheers, cries, exhortations might have been the
murmur of a breeze among leaves so far as Stuart was concerned.
Later he remembered hearing it perfectly, but just then, as he went
swaying toward the finish line, it made no impression. There was but
one thought in his mind. He must reach that other runner and get past
him. And reach him he did, a scant four strides from the mark. After
that it was just a question of inches between second man and third, and
of feet between third man and fourth, for Stuart and Smiley and Tully
finished in a bunch. The principal difference was less in space than in
condition, for whereas both Stuart and Smiley toppled into the arms of
bystanders, old Tully kept on for a dozen paces, slowed gradually and
then walked off to where he had left his bathrobe.

The judge at the finish said that Stuart had won by a button, which
was near enough the truth. Personally Stuart didn’t care a bit for as
much as five minutes whether he had won at all. But when he could sit
up again and look about him on a hazy world the knowledge brought a
warming satisfaction. A dozen fellows were telling him that he had run
a great race, that he had shown fine generalship and a lot of other
complimentary things, to all of which Stuart listened amiably and in
silence. Then he allowed Tom Hanson to raise him to his feet and some
one else to hold his robe for him; and a pale, panting youth who proved
to be Smiley, shook hands with him and said “Congratulations, Harven,”
and Stuart grinned and answered “Thanks! Ought to have been you,” and,
so far as Stuart was concerned, the Fall Handicap Meet was at an end.

Of course a certain renown accrued to him, and the race was talked
of for a day or two. The Laird tried to get him to promise to keep
on training for the track, promising to make a great miler of him by
the next year, but Stuart shook his head. “It was rather fun,” he
acknowledged, “but I’m through, Laird. I’m not really a track man. Next
year――well, I guess I’ll be playing football again by then.”

A second team player made the statement that “as a football captain
Harven was a great mile runner,” and the _bon mot_ won much favor among
those who were not in sympathy with Stuart’s recent behavior.

                              CHAPTER XII

                            NEIL INTERVENES

Although Stuart managed to remain away from the football field during
practice, the temptation to witness the Saturday contests from a closer
point of observation than the running track was too strong to be
resisted. Anyway, even if a fellow didn’t any longer concern himself
with the fortunes of his own team, he naturally wanted to see how
the other fellow comported himself. So when the St. Charles contest
was played he and Neil were occupants of seats at a far end of the
stand. There wasn’t much to excite oneself over in the course of that
game, for the visitor was outplayed from the start, and out-generaled
as well. Coach Haynes put in a wealth of substitutes in the third
and fourth periods, and even then the final score was satisfactorily
decisive, being 21 to 0 in favor of the Cherry-and-Gray. But during
the succeeding game, that with the Brown Freshmen, Neil was really
sorry for his chum. Stuart pretended indifference and tried very, very
hard to maintain a studied calm, but the way in which he clenched his
hands and wriggled in his seat and made funny noises in his throat,
told Neil that he wasn’t happy. There was no good reason why he should
have been happy, for that matter. The Brown youngsters were too many
for the Cherry-and-Gray from the first kick-off, and, although Manning
fought hard and twice held the enemy from scoring in the first two
periods, she couldn’t get her own offense working decently and never
once threatened the enemy’s goal. Individually, the Manning linemen
were good, but they didn’t seem to get together well. The backfield
had lost its aggression completely and, while it was easy enough to
lay a portion of the blame on Wheaton, at quarter, by no means all of
it was due to him. Leo Burns, recovered from his injury, was at left
half, Billy Littlefield at right and Howdy Tasker at fullback. There
were flashes of hard, brilliant playing, but on the whole the Manning
backfield was a disappointment to-day, especially on attack. During the
intermission Stuart was rather silent and carefully avoided discussing
the game.

The Brown Freshmen started in in the third quarter harder than ever and
at the end of five or six minutes had scored their first touchdown.
Better playing and a heavier team counted at last. Coach Haynes made
two changes after that, putting Le Gette at right tackle in place
of Thurston and Hanson at right half in place of Billy Littlefield.
Hanson’s presence bolstered up the backfield perceptibly, but Stuart
couldn’t see any improvement in the right tackle position. Probably he
didn’t want to. There was one bright spot in the third period when,
toward the end of it, Howdy Tasker got away on an old-style fake-kick
play and circled Brown’s left end for thirty-odd yards, placing the
pigskin on the enemy’s twenty-eight. But the advance failed a few yards
beyond, for Wheaton fumbled a pass, and, although Burns recovered it,
a down had been lost. Tasker got a scant two yards outside left tackle
and then Hanson heaved to Muirgart and the ball grounded. Burns tried a
drop-kick from the thirty-five-yard line, but the ball sailed far wide
of goal.

Brown crashed her way to a second touchdown in the last period,
finding but weak opposition inside the ten yards and putting the ball
across from there in three tries at the right of the line. Each of her
touchdowns was followed by a goal, and the final score was 14 to 0.

Going back to the dormitory, Stuart’s long-pent emotions burst forth.
He called the team a disgrace, an insult to Manning traditions, a gang
of loafers and many other choice names. And he said hard things about
the generalship displayed and the sort of coaching that could take out
a good man like Thurston and put in Steve Le Gette. He didn’t criticize
Jack’s playing or Jack’s performance of his duties as captain, nor
did he deal unkindly with Wheaton, but about every other player was
thoroughly hauled over the coals. As for “Wheat,” Stuart declared that
he had done as well as any fellow had a right to expect. “He’s no
wonder, but he worked himself to death, pretty near, with a backfield
that was asleep on its feet most of the time! Why Littlefield just
stopped when he got to the line and looked for a comfortable place to
sit down! Hanson was some better, but he didn’t show enough punch to
break a lath. If that’s the sort of team Haynes thinks is going to
lick Pearsall, he’s got a jolt coming to him!”

Stuart had a lot more to say, and said it, his remarks lasting until
long after he and Neil had reached Number 12. Finally, though, wrath
and disgust were succeeded by a settled gloom that continued most of
the evening. Neil tried to persuade him to go over to the village to
the movies after supper, but he wouldn’t, and Neil went off by himself.
In the yard, though, he met Jack and Greg Trenholme and Howdy Tasker
and, on the way to the village, listened to much post-mortem talk from
the fullback. Coming back after, it must be acknowledged, a not very
hilarious evening at the little theater, Greg introduced the subject of
Stuart. “Neil, why doesn’t he take a tumble to himself and go back to
the team and help out? Doesn’t he know that the school’s getting sore
at him? After to-day it’ll look worse than ever.”

Neil didn’t answer, and it was Jack who attempted an excuse. “Let the
poor fellow alone,” he said. “He’s feeling pretty sore, I guess.”

“No reason for it that I can see,” said Tasker. “He threw up his job
when he didn’t have to. I call that deserting in the face of the enemy,
by jove! Now, instead of doing the decent thing and playing quarter, he
sulks. I like Stuart, but he’s a pigheaded ass!”

“We certainly need him,” said Jack feelingly. “I’m not saying anything
against ‘Wheat,’ for he wasn’t any rottener than most of us to-day, but
he can’t play the game that Stuart can at quarter, and no one pretends
that he can or ever will. I talked to Stuart about going back and got
sat on.”

“Have you tried it, Neil?” asked Greg.


“No good, eh?”

“Some one,” said Tasker impatiently, “ought to talk turkey to him. I
should think he’d see that it’s his duty to play. Look here, Neil,
you’ve got more influence with him than any one else, I guess. Why
don’t you have a real talk and show him that――that――Gosh, I should
think after seeing to-day’s game he’d _want_ to get out and do
something! I know plaguy well I would!”

“I’ll see what I can do,” agreed Neil readily but not very hopefully.
“I’ll try him again to-morrow.”

“Atta boy! Tell him the school’s getting sore with him and――”

Jack interrupted Tasker. “No, don’t tell him anything of the sort,
Neil. That would just put his back up. Tell him the team needs him.
That’s the only thing that’ll fetch him.”

When Neil got back to the room, Stuart had turned in and was sound
asleep, and Neil nodded approvingly. “A good sleep will make him feel
better in the morning, I guess,” he said to himself. “And I’ll tackle
him before he gets a chance to catch a new grouch!”

It was while they were dressing that Neil said suddenly: “Stuart, will
you tell me the truth if I ask you something?”

Stuart grinned. “I’ll either tell you the truth or keep my mouth
closed,” he replied. “What’s the question, little one?”

“Aren’t you wanting to be back on the team, Stuart?”

For a long moment it seemed that Stuart meant to keep his mouth closed.
He gave far more attention to pulling on a sock than the task appeared
to demand. When, however, he had snugged it over his foot fastidiously
he looked up.

“Sort of,” he said.

Neil swung over to his dresser, selected a soft collar and thrust a
blue tie through the loops.

“Why don’t you?” he asked finally.

“Because I’ve got some self-respect, I suppose. And maybe I’m not
wanted, anyway.”

“That’s not so, Stuart. The fellows all want you.”

“Maybe some of them do.” Stuart pulled his trousers on and cinched the
belt with a jerk. “I’ll bet Haynes doesn’t, though.”

“What makes you think that?” asked Neil.

“Why, if he wants me, why doesn’t he――” Stuart stopped.

“Say so?” supplied the other. “Maybe he thinks it wouldn’t do any good.”

“Well, I guess it wouldn’t,” muttered Stuart.

“After all, if the team needs you, and it certainly does, what Mr.
Haynes says or doesn’t say hasn’t got much to do with it, I guess. It’s
the team you’d be helping and not the coach, Stuart.”

“I wouldn’t be much use there if Haynes didn’t want me, though. And I
guess he’s pretty well satisfied with things as they are.”

“I don’t see how he can be after yesterday’s slaughter,” replied Neil.
“But I’m glad you’ve explained.”

“Explained what?” asked Stuart suspiciously.

“Why you don’t go back,” answered the other. “I didn’t want to think
that it was just your pride that was keeping you from doing your duty.
If it’s because Mr. Haynes doesn’t want you, that’s different. I can
understand that, of course. No one wants to go where he’s not wanted.”

“You bet he doesn’t,” agreed Stuart.

“I’m glad to know that you would go back if it wasn’t for that,” said
Neil. “You would, wouldn’t you?”

“I suppose so,” replied the other doubtfully. Then, seeing Neil’s
puzzled look, he added quickly: “Of course I would!”

Neil’s face cleared and he smiled. “That’s the ticket! That’s what I
wanted to be sure of!”

“Seems to me you’re mightily interested all of a sudden,” said Stuart
dubiously. “I don’t see that it makes much difference what the reason

“It makes all the difference in the world,” replied Neil earnestly.
“Anyway, it does to me. You see, Stuart, I’ve thought all along that
you ought to forget your――your differences with the coach and the
others and just remember that the team needed you. And I guess I’ve
blamed you when I oughtn’t to have. I thought it was just hurt pride
that kept you away. Now I find that you had a pretty good reason. Don’t
you see?”

Stuart thoughtfully stuck his military brushes together and nodded. “I
see,” he answered. “You ready?” At the door he added: “You’re a queer
idiot, old Neil!”

After breakfast Neil was missing and Stuart went across to Meigs to put
in the time before church with Jack. Since Jack’s roommate was Stearns
Wilson, Stuart had carefully avoided Number 17 of late, but now, since
Jud McColl had eliminated his only excuse for being down on Wilson,
there was no reason for staying away. Wilson, however, wasn’t in this
morning, as it proved, and Stuart and Jack had the room to themselves.
Something of the old intimacy between the two was lacking, it seemed,
and the talk, if not exactly constrained, wasn’t like the talks they
used to have. Stuart assured himself several times that he held no
resentment against Jack, but the fact remained that somewhere there was
a fly in the amber of their friendship. Stuart didn’t remain in Number
17 until church time, but left after a half hour or so, feeling oddly
relieved when he had closed the door behind him, and returned to Lacey.
Neil was still absent, and Stuart, selecting a magazine and throwing
himself on the window seat, wondered where the dickens he could be.

If by some magic power he could have seen Neil at that moment he would
have been very greatly surprised.

                             CHAPTER XIII

                     STUART GOES OUT FOR THE TEAM

Neil was sitting in an armchair in Coach Haynes’ front room, his
crutches against his knees. The coach sat near by, close to one of the
long front windows, completely surrounded by a Sunday paper. Beyond
him, through the casement that reached to the floor, Neil saw the
little park, fenceless, deep in yellow and red maple leaves, and the
abandoned iron fountain in the center, its basin long dry and filled
with the litter of many seasons. But, against the trees, some of them
still retaining their gaudy foliage, and bathed in the sunlight of a
wonderful early November morning, it looked rather pretty. Mr. Haynes
was smoking an after-breakfast pipe, and the clouds of gray-blue smoke
writhed and billowed in the shaft of sunlight that fell athwart the
worn carpet and almost restored the ancient hues of its floral garlands.

“There never has been a moment since Harven resigned,” the coach was
saying, “when I wouldn’t have been mighty glad to have him back in his
old position, Orr, but no good would have come of my taking any steps
to get him. I think you realize that. I believed that he would come
around himself in time, but I thought it would be before this. Now that
he has decided to return, I’m very glad of it.”

“Yes, sir, but he hasn’t,” said Neil, smiling ruefully. “I mean, he’d
like to, but he thinks you don’t want him.”

“He hasn’t any right to think so,” commented Mr. Haynes. “I suppose he
thinks I was instrumental in ousting him, which I wasn’t, but even so
he should know that the success of the team means too much to me for
me to allow personal likes or dislikes to interfere. Well, what’s your
idea, Orr? Do you want me to see him and ask him to come back?”

“No, sir, I wouldn’t expect you to do that!” exclaimed Neil.

“Oh, I’ll do it if it’s necessary,” replied the coach surprisingly.
“But I fancy the less I appear personally in the matter the more chance
we have of success, Orr. You know Harven, and you know he’s a chap to
be handled with gloves――and mighty smooth ones at that! For instance,
if he learned you’d been here this morning, and I asked him to come
back to the team, he would naturally connect the two, jump to the
conclusion that you’d worked on my sympathies and we never would get
him. There’s a better way if we can only think of it.”

The coach puffed hard on his pipe and stared through the window for a
space. Finally: “You say he doesn’t know you’re here?” he asked.

“Not from me, sir. And I shan’t tell him.”

The coach nodded and a second silence followed. At last he turned and
rapped the ashes from his pipe into the ash tray on the arm of his
chair. “I’ve got it, Orr,” he said. “The Laird’s the one to do it. I’ll
see him this afternoon.”

Neil’s face brightened. “That’s so, Mr. Haynes! They’ve always been
great pals! Stuart will listen to The Laird.”

“I’m sure he will. Don’t hurry away, though. I’m mighty grateful to you
for doing this, Orr. I wish you didn’t have to use those things.” He
pointed smilingly to the crutches. “I’d like you on the team, old man!”

Neil flushed, not at the allusion to the crutches but in real pleasure.
You see, he sometimes thought that if he had been like other chaps
he could have done rather well in sports, and it was fine to have the
coach confirm the thought. He made his way back to school very happy.

Stuart was inclined to be a bit resentful because Neil had left him
alone, but he didn’t insist on knowing where the other had been and
Neil at once began to bustle around in preparation for church. His
prayer book and hymnal had, it appeared, been misplaced, and in aiding
in the search Stuart forgot his resentment and any curiosity he may
have had. The missing articles were eventually discovered by Neil just
where he had left them a week before. It was almost dusk when there
came a knock on the door of Number 12 and The Laird came in. Stuart
had been humped up on the window seat earnestly wrestling with his
English, and Neil was in the middle of a delayed Sunday letter. The
Laird explained carelessly that he’d been out for a bit of a walk and
thought he’d drop in and pass the time of day. Stuart was glad to see
him and equally glad of an excuse to close his books, and he made
The Laird comfortable in the biggest of the two easy chairs and was
quite merry. Neil ended his letter hurriedly during the first minutes
of the trainer’s visit, inclosed it, and, excusing himself, took it
down to the letter box in front of Manning Hall. He made the trip very
leisurely and, on the way back, stopped in a few minutes with Tom
Hanson who lived on the first floor. He was careful not to make his
absence suspiciously prolonged, however, and got back to Number 12 some
fifteen minutes after his departure. The trainer was still there and
neither he nor Stuart appeared to have been aware of Neil’s absence.
They were talking football, the pair of them; discussing the chances
of Yale coming back in time for the Princeton game next Saturday, and
the overthrow of the big colleges in their games yesterday. It was
evident to Neil, however, that The Laird had performed his mission,
and performed it well since Stuart was unmistakably in an excited and
exalted frame of mind. Presently the trainer took his leave, and Neil,
after waiting a moment for Stuart to explode the news, asked idly:

“What did The Laird have to say? Anything new in the world?”

“N-no.” Stuart was elaborately careless. Whatever he had to tell, Neil
saw, wasn’t going to be exploded! “We were talking about the game
Saturday and one thing and another. Where’d you go?”

“Out to post my letter. Then I stopped in at Tom Hanson’s for a minute.
It’s getting colder.”

“Yes.” Stuart absently fingered the pages of a book. “I guess we’re in
for a cold snap. Glad of it. You need zippy weather for football. That
reminds me. I’ve decided to go back on the team to-morrow.”

“Honest?” exclaimed Neil, in surprised and pleased tones. “I’m awfully

Stuart laughed ironically. “The Laird says Haynes was talking to him
to-day. What do you think he asked him?”

“I don’t know. What?”

“Asked him if he thought I meant to come back! Looks as if he wasn’t
so mighty independent, after all, eh? The Laird says he guesses Haynes
would be tickled to death if I showed up again. And The Laird sort of
wants me to, too.”

“That’s fine,” commented Neil. “Only, if he happened to be wrong about
Mr. Haynes you wouldn’t want to do it, of course.”

“He isn’t wrong,” replied Stuart decisively. “He’s dead right. I――I’ve
sort of suspected――just lately, I mean――that Haynes wouldn’t be
heartbroken if I reported again.”

“Oh! But you said――”

“I know,” answered the other impatiently. “I didn’t have anything to
go on, you see; it was just a――just a feeling. Anyway, I’ve decided to
risk it. I’m going out to-morrow afternoon. Gee, it’ll be good to get
back into togs again! Of course, I may not get my place back, but I
don’t care so much. I’ll have the fun of playing. And――and The Laird
says they need me. There’s only one more game before Pearsall, but he
thinks we’re going to come back all right. Golly, Neil, we’ve _got_
to! When you come right down to it, Pearsall hasn’t done so remarkably
well herself this fall. Yesterday’s win wasn’t anything to brag about.
Eleven to three against Lyons was pretty punk, I’ll say. They’ll have
to do a great sight better playing two weeks from now if they expect to
beat this outfit!”

Stuart, once well started on the subject of football, gave no signs
of tiring. In fact, he kept it up until supper and, after supper,
until bedtime. Neil listened patiently if not always interestedly, too
pleased with the result of the conspiracy to begrudge attention, even
though it left him ill-prepared for to-morrow’s recitations. Stuart was
too absorbed to notice that his roommate sometimes hid a yawn behind a
polite hand.

The next afternoon Manager Locker, early on the field and uninterestedly
watching two second-string backs kicking a ball about, beheld with
surprise the approach of a youth in togs who had, at the distance of a
hundred yards, a remarkable resemblance to Stuart Harven. Nor did his
surprise decrease as the youth drew nearer and the resemblance
increased. Locker drew in a long breath and ejaculated: “Well, I’ll be
jiggered!” Then he stepped eagerly forward. “Stuart!” he exclaimed.
“Gee, this is great! Say――”

But Stuart interrupted gravely. “Hello, Fred,” he said. “I’d like to
report for practice.”

Locker opened his mouth for a good laugh, but something in the other’s
face caused him to change his mind. Instead: “Oh!” he faltered. “That’s
fine! Well, I guess we need――――”

“Might take my name if you don’t mind.” Stuart’s gaze traveled to the
breast of Locker’s jacket and came to rest significantly over an inside

“What? Oh, sure!” The manager hurriedly produced his red book and
plucked a pen from a pocket of his vest. There was no harm in humoring
the other!

“Stuart Harven, seventeen, Upper Middle Class, 12 Lacey,” announced the
applicant soberly. Locker wrote it down.

“Experience?” he asked.

“Two years. Maybe you’d better say three. I played part of this season.”

Locker nodded, as grave now as Stuart. “What position?” he inquired.


“Thanks.” Locker closed his book and slipped it back into his pocket.
“I suppose you know about your physical examination? But I forget;
you’ve played this season already, you said. Report to the trainer
after practice, please. Now, you big chump, come off your high horse
and talk sense! Are you really going to play?”

Stuart nodded. “If they’ll let me, Fred.”

“_Let_ you? _Let_――Say, where do you get that stuff? You watch ’em! I
guess the only chap who won’t be tickled pink is Wheaton. And, at that,
I fancy he won’t be awfully cut up, for Wheat’s bitten off more than he
can Fletcherize, and he knows it! Here they come now!”

The squad was beginning to dribble across the field from the gymnasium.
Once past the tennis courts, the balls began to soar. Stuart saw Coach
Haynes well back in the second group, talking to Jack. Stuart kept
his place beside Fred Locker, waiting, a trifle woodenly, for his
presence to be discovered. It was Tom Muirgart who first recognized
him and spread the news with a shout. Then Tom, followed by Billy
Littlefield and Wallace Towne, hiked across the corner of the gridiron
and assaulted him joyfully. It was hard to keep up that expression and
manner of unconcern when Tom was banging him between the shoulders
and Billy was ruffling his hair with jovial but ungentle hand. Stuart
donned his headgear in protection and dodged Tom’s enthusiastic palm.

“Cut it out, fellows,” he growled, embarrassed, and darting an
apprehensive look toward the approaching coach. “Don’t make a――a silly
scene!” But in avoiding Tom’s blows he backed squarely into the stout
arms of Joe Cutts, and Joe seized on him as though he were an opposing
center and lifted him, struggling and wriggling, off his feet. After
that there was no use in attempting to carry the affair off with
dignity and decorum, and Stuart realized it and subsided in weak and
futile remonstrances. “Thirsty” and “Howdy” and “Bee” and half a dozen
others closed about him and pummeled him joyously or pumped his arms,
or, unable to get close enough to lay violent hands on him, shouted
their welcome. Stuart alternately grinned and scowled; grinned because
grinning seemed to ease the sort of choky feeling in his throat, and
scowled to prove that he hadn’t grinned!

And then, the group thinning, he found himself looking straight at
the coach. Mr. Haynes smiled and held out his hand. “Glad to see you,
Harven,” he said cordially.

Foes may clasp hands and still remain foes. Stuart returned the coach’s
firm grip and said: “Thanks, sir.”

Then practice began.

Stuart discovered that a fortnight or so of idleness had told on his
muscles surprisingly, but he didn’t allow any one else to suspect it.
He went through formation drill in a squad of substitutes, playing his
old position. He felt that the atmosphere here was not so sympathetic
as it had been among that group of older players, but he didn’t resent
it. Nor did he resent being left on the bench when, after an hour’s
practice, the second team trailed across from the further gridiron and
the scrimmage began. He couldn’t expect to get his place back without a
struggle. That wouldn’t be fair to Wheat, who, no matter what might be
said of his shortcomings, had tried loyally and hard. For that matter,
Stuart reflected, he might get no better than first substitute’s place
for the rest of the season. To-day he didn’t care very much. It was
so jolly good to get back at all! He had been an idiot to stay out so
long, he told himself. Haynes had acted pretty decently. Shown good
form, too. Some men would have been sloppy and hypocritical and some
would have been sneering or sarcastic. Haynes had hit just the right
note, and Stuart was grateful. “You might dislike Haynes,” he said to
himself, “but you have to respect the guy!”

Stuart’s relegation to the bench during scrimmage was, perhaps, made
more endurable by the presence near by of Steve Le Gette. It wasn’t
that Le Gette’s mere proximity gave comfort to Stuart, but it was some
satisfaction to know that if Stuart wasn’t good enough for a place in
the line-up, neither was Le Gette!

Stuart didn’t spend the whole period on the bench, however, after all,
for toward the end of the game Wheaton was banished and Stuart slipped
back to his old position for a wonderful five minutes.

                              CHAPTER XIV

                           WANTED, A KICKER

Stuart’s return to the fold was a matter of almost as much discussion
as his previous retirement had been. But where he had been censured
before for leaving the squad he was now censured for returning to it.
Among his friends and closer acquaintances, of course, his action was
approved, but there were some three hundred and fifty students at
Manning that fall and to the bulk of them Stuart Harven was known by
sight only, and it was from outside his small circle of friends and
admirers that disapproval came. It was largely held that, having left
the team, he should have stayed off it for the season; that his return
would only have the effect of upsetting football affairs again. Even
among the squad there were some who viewed his reappearance on the
field rather coldly. There was, however, no doubt as to the sentiment
of most of the players, and Stuart was grateful to those for their
hearty welcome and friendliness. He needed the encouragement such
friendliness gave, for it was speedily evident that his absence from
practice, as brief as it had been, had played hob with his game. Much
of the old dash was gone, much of his former initiative lacking. He
had to prod himself constantly in order to show a semblance of his old
form. It was as though the ability to play was inside him but wouldn’t
come out! By the middle of the week he despaired of “coming back” and
realized disheartenedly that so far as the big game was concerned he
might just as well have stayed away. But he was of use to the team, and
knew it. He found some comfort in the knowledge, and, which is to his
credit, refused to be downcast and kept pegging away as hard as he knew

Of course what Stuart realized others saw, too. Wednesday evening Jack
brought up the subject after a conference in Coach Haynes’s quarters.
“I don’t know what’s the matter with Stuart,” he said troubledly. “He
isn’t playing anywhere near his real game.”

“No,” said the coach. After a moment he added: “I’m afraid his coming
back is going to make more unhappiness for him, Brewton. I suppose he
expected to get his place again, but it doesn’t look now as if he
could have it, and I’m afraid he will think he is injured and blame
me.” Mr. Haynes shook his head regretfully. “It’s too bad. There’s
enough ill feeling on his side toward me already; and there’s another
year to go through with yet. That is, if I’m back again.”

“But you will be, sir, won’t you?”

“I hope so, Brewton, but a good deal depends on how things go this
year. I was given a one-year contract with the understanding that if
things went well this fall I should have another for two. If Pearsall
shows us up I fancy I’ll be looking for a new job.” Mr. Haynes smiled.
Then he looked grave again. “This trouble with Harven has been mighty
unfortunate. The Committee has stood by me, but I suppose they can’t
help thinking that another man might have got along with less friction.
And I guess they’re right. If I had understood Harven as well in
September as I do now I’d have handled him differently. I can’t comfort
myself with the assurance that the fault has all been his, you see.
I’ve made mistakes, too, Brewton.”

Jack frowned. “Stuart’s awfully sort of touchy and stubborn,” he
muttered. “I guess it would be mighty hard for any coach to get along
with him much better than you have. He――hang him!――he’s got it in
for me now. I don’t know why. He’s as stiff as a ramrod. It can’t be
because I took his place, for I went to him before I accepted it and he
said it was all right, that he’d rather see me captain than any other
fellow. But he acts as if I’d done something against him!”

Mr. Haynes smiled. “Human nature has some queer angles, my boy,” he
said. “I fancy Harven really thought he was glad to see you become
captain, and I dare say he’s tried to be, but there’s a little hurt
feeling that persists, and he can’t help showing it. But I wouldn’t let
it bother me. He’ll get over it in time. By the way, what about Towne?
Have you heard from him since afternoon?”

“No, sir, but I guess it’s only a cold.”

“Well, I hope so,” answered the coach grimly. “We can’t afford to lose
our best guard just now. And we’d certainly be in a hole if he wasn’t
on hand to kick field goals. That’s a weak department with us, Brewton.
Outside of Towne and Harven we haven’t a fellow we can depend on for
field goals. Tasker is a whale of a punter, but if the Pearsall game
depended on a three-point tally I’d hate to have to leave it to him!
Of course, if Harven was in we’d be safe, but unless he bucks up a
whole lot inside of the next week he’s likely to see that game from the
bench. If I were you I’d look in on Towne to-night and see how he’s
making it.”

Jack agreed and took his departure.

Thursday morning it became known that Wally Towne was ill with
something that looked a whole lot like tonsillitis, and consternation
reigned throughout the school. That afternoon Baker played right guard
and the most promising of the second team’s guards was requisitioned
by Mr. Haynes. Baker, however, was not a success, and the second team
fellow, although he was scrappy and quick and worked hard, was much too
light for the place. On Friday the coach tried an experiment, and Steve
Le Gette, second-string tackle, was shoved into the line between Cutts
and Thurston. Le Gette had the weight and the size and he soon showed
that he had the fight. It was not certain that Towne would not be back
for the Pearsall game, but tonsillitis, if you have it severely enough,
can play hob with you, and even if Wally was able to enter the final
contest it was doubtful that he would be able to play it through; and
just now the doctor’s report was far from reassuring. So Coach Haynes
set about the development of a new guard, to the chagrin of several
substitutes for that position, and, recalling the fact that, with Towne
out of the game, there’d be a dearth of goal kickers, looked about him
for likely material. In the end, it was Le Gette who seemed the most
promising. Tasker would have to do the bulk of the punting and, while
he might add to his field goal ability by hard practice, it seemed
neither wise nor fair to add to his duties. Le Gette had done some
punting the year before on the second team as substitute fullback, and
so the coach’s choice fell on him.

Stuart, well wrapped in a big gray blanket against the chill wind
that was sweeping across the field, was watching the first and second
plugging away down by the thirty-yard line at the far end of the
field when some one seated himself on the bench beside him. Stuart,
interested in seeing the result of Tasker’s effort to punt into the
teeth of the wind, didn’t turn his head until Mr. Haynes’s voice
startled him.

“Harven,” the coach was saying, “how are you fixed for time in the

“Time?” Stuart looked rather blank for an instant, trying to focus his
thoughts. It was a trifle disconcerting to find the coach’s eyes on a
level with his at a distance of two feet.

“Perhaps I’d better explain what I’m after,” continued the other. “We
need another man who can kick goals, Harven. If Towne shouldn’t make
the Pearsall game we’d be in a fix. If you were playing I’d not worry,
but, to be candid, you may not be.” He paused, but Stuart, turning his
gaze away, only nodded. “We need another man, if only to be on the safe
side,” Mr. Haynes resumed. “I know that a week is a mighty short time
to work in, but I think that if you gave an hour to the business in
the mornings and perhaps a half hour in the afternoons you could come
pretty close to giving us a new goal kicker. A good deal would depend
on the other chap, of course, but I’ve got a fellow who has done some
punting and who is willing to learn. He was on the second last year
and I’ve frankly told him that his chance of getting into the big game
depends on his ability to kick goals fairly well. You’ll find him eager
to learn, Harven. I’d take him in hand myself, but I’m no kicker and
never was, and I wouldn’t be able to teach him half as well as you
will. Now what do you say?”

“Of course I’ll do what I can, sir,” answered Stuart soberly and a bit
stiffly. “I can find an hour every morning, if my time suits the other
fellow’s. Is it certain that Towne won’t be able to play?”

“No, but we’ve got to be prepared. We may never have a chance to score
from the field in that game, but we want to have the goods if the
chance does come.”

“Of course. Who is the fellow, Mr. Haynes?”

“Le Gette,” replied the coach promptly.

Stuart looked startled. “Steve Le Gette?” he exclaimed.

The coach nodded. “Yes, I’m trying him at guard in Towne’s place and I
think he’ll fit. I’ll tell him to see you after practice and you can
fix a time for the instruction I hope.”

Stuart was frowning at his scarred hands. “We――he and I aren’t very
friendly, sir,” he muttered.

“I know that, but this is a time when such things don’t matter,
Harven,” answered the other quietly. “Each of you has a duty to perform
for the team. Personal differences can be forgotten for an hour or so
each day, I fancy.”

Stuart was silent a moment. Then: “I can do it if he can,” he replied.

“Good!” Mr. Haynes stretched out his hand and Stuart had put his in
it before he realized what was happening. He even grinned a little
in response to the coach’s smile. Afterwards he told himself that he
wished Haynes wasn’t so keen on hand-shaking. “Much obliged, Harven,”
the coach went on. “Don’t spare Le Gette. He’s game for all you can
pile on to him. See what you can do in a week. If you think I can help,
let me know, but I shan’t butt in on you. It’s up to you and Le Gette.”
He nodded and hurried off down the side line.

When the second period started Stuart took Wheaton’s place at quarter
and, it seemed to him, did better than he had done any day since his
return. He was not confident enough to carry the ball himself, although
had he tried a quarterback run in one instance and made it good he
might have added another six points to the first team’s score. But he
ran the team with not a little of his old brilliance, and Coach Haynes,
following the plays, smiled thoughtfully.

The meeting of Stuart and Le Gette was extremely polite and formal.
They walked back to the gymnasium together and compared schedules,
finding that on every day save Tuesday it would be possible to get an
hour together on the field. On Tuesday they fixed on a half hour,
possibly forty minutes, following breakfast. They parted with mutual
relief on the gymnasium steps.

There was a most enthusiastic cheer meeting that evening, and Stuart
and Neil attended, although the former tried to get out of it. New
songs and old songs were sung, every one who had the courage to face
that sea of faces and could think of anything to say made a speech.
There was wild and noisy applause on every provocation and the cheering
was deafening. Neil, noting that Stuart’s name brought as vociferous a
response as any, glowed proudly.

On their way out of the hall Stuart collided with Mr. Moffit and the
instructor took him by the arm and led him aside. “You didn’t come back
to report,” he accused smilingly. Stuart grinned. “I meant to, sir, but
I couldn’t make it. I suppose you’ve heard――――”

“Yes, and I was very glad, Harven. It is always a satisfaction to one
to learn that one’s prophesies have been――er――correct. You see, I
expected you to go back on the team and laid a wager with myself that
you would. It pleases me to win. I thank you.”

Stuart laughed. “You took chances, sir. I didn’t think I would go back.”

“On the contrary, my boy, I was betting on a sure thing. I was rather
ashamed to take that end of the wager: it was almost like cheating
myself. You see, Harven, what we think and what we think we think are
frequently very different thoughts. Well, the best of luck to you!” The
instructor nodded and smiled and was borne on and Stuart joined Neil
again. As he steadied the latter through the throng at the entrance he
said with conviction:

“Miss Muffit’s a mighty decent old guy, Neil.”

“Sure,” agreed Neil. “Every one is when we think so.”

Stuart’s rôle as teacher of the gentle art of kicking field goals began
the next forenoon. He had grimly determined to follow Mr. Haynes’s
instructions and not spare the pupil, and, as they crossed to the
second team gridiron, he announced:

“Haynes tells me that you want to learn, Le Gette, and that I’m to
teach you. I wasn’t crazy to take the job, as you can guess, but I did
take it and I’m going to do my best with it. What I’m trying to get at
is just this.” He stopped and scowled sternly. “You’ve got to work if
anything’s to come of this, and I’m going to see that you do work. But
you’re not to think that I’m――I’m trying to put anything over on you.
I’m doing this for Haynes――I mean for the team, and it won’t get us
anywhere if you grouch or sulk.”

“Oh, that’s all right,” answered Le Gette. “I’m not any crazier about
this than you are, but if you keep your shirt on I’ll do the same. And
I’ll take all the work you can give me, Harven. Let’s go.”

After half an hour Stuart concluded that it was going to be less a
matter of the teacher’s not sparing the pupil than of the pupil’s not
sparing the teacher. Le Gette was a veritable whale for work, and all
Stuart’s admonitions to take time were wasted. Le Gette spared neither
himself nor Stuart. And he proved an apt student, too. Stuart had to
acknowledge that. He listened to what was told him, copied the other’s
methods and got results. A knowledge of punting aided to some extent,
but drop-kicking is an art by itself and the pupil had much to learn.
When the hour was up and they had to hurry back to the campus, Stuart
couldn’t have said whether he or Le Gette was the more exhausted! In
the afternoon there was a brief half hour after the Williston game
was over, but as Le Gette had played through most of that contest he
wasn’t in very good shape for his lesson. For that matter, neither was
Stuart, for he, too, had participated. Both were glad enough when the
darkness put an end to the session. They went back to the gymnasium
in the twilight, crossing the deserted first team gridiron in silence
until, just short of the lighted windows of the building ahead, Le
Gette said feelingly:

“A shower isn’t going to be so rotten, eh?”

And Stuart answered, almost amiably: “You said something!”

The Williston game had resulted about as predicted. The visitors had
proved rather more formidable than expected, perhaps, and Coach Haynes
had been forced to use most of his first-string players well into
the third period. The exceptions were Whaley and Wheaton. The right
end had been roughly used in a tackle and had given way to Wesner in
the second period and Wheaton had yielded to Stuart soon after the
beginning of the third quarter. Stuart had done well enough; had run
the team fast and surely, had recovered a fumble of Tasker’s that might
have resulted disastrously and had pulled off three perfect heaves to
Tom Muirgart. But as for “stunts” Stuart simply wasn’t there. Those
old-time quarterback runs for thirty, forty, sometimes sixty yards were
missing. Only once during the time he had played had he dared attempt
a run and then he had been spilled promptly for a two-yard loss. On
the whole, though, the Cherry-and-Gray had played a hard, snappy
game against a doughty opponent, and the final score of 19 to 6 was
generally considered satisfactory. There were those who maintained that
Williston should not have scored, but there are always pessimists in
every community.

                              CHAPTER XV

                            THE CONFERENCE

After Breakfast Sunday morning Jack appeared at Number 12 Lacey with a
big bundle of newspapers under his arm. It was his first call for over
a week and, had Neil been absent, there might have been an appreciable
restraint in the atmosphere. But Neil saved the situation, and in a
minute the conversation was going smoothly enough. Jack was full of the
football news, dumping all save the sporting sections of the Sunday
papers on the floor, and read aloud the story of the Pearsall――St.
Charles game, which Pearsall had captured by the staggering score of 39
to 0. Stuart forgot his grievances in surprise and concern.

“Golly! That’s three scores more than we made against them! It’s double
what we did! St. Charles must have been ’way off her game, Jack. You
can’t tell me that Pearsall is that much better than we are.”

But the story held nothing to confirm his theory. St. Charles was
credited with having played hard and with having made few mistakes. “I
guess Pearsall’s better than we thought she was,” said Jack gloomily.
“We didn’t find those St. Charles ends very easy, but Pearsall seems to
have run them about as she pleased! Look at some of her gains: ‘Connor
made seven outside left tackle’; ‘Morton, faking a throw to Cooper, ran
around right end for sixteen yards, St. Charles’ defense having fallen
for the bluff’; ‘Loring failed at the center, but on the next try went
outside tackle on the left and carried the pigskin to the twenty-eight
yards’; ‘Connor got around right end again for six, but a penalty for
off-side took the ball back to the forty-one yards.’ Say, that Connor
must be some guy!”

“Who went over to the game for us?” asked Stuart.

“Hanson and Joe Jakin.”

“What do they say?”

“I haven’t heard yet. They’re going to report this afternoon. They
didn’t get back until late last night. There was a freight smash-up
down the line and their train was held up. By the way, in case I forget
it, there’s a conference at Haynes’s Tuesday night and he wants you to
be sure and come.”

“Me?” Stuart looked surprised. “Oh, well, I guess I wouldn’t be much
use,” he added after a pause.

“Yes, you would. There’ll be about eight of us and we’re going over the
final plans. I’ll look for you.”

“Maybe I’ll get there,” answered Stuart with elaborate carelessness.

“You will,” said Neil decidedly. “You’ll get there if I have to carry

Jack laughed, and after a moment of indecision Stuart managed a grin.
Then they returned to the subject of the Pearsall――St. Charles game
and thrashed it all out, if not to their satisfaction at any rate most
exhaustively. When Jack took his departure, his precious papers under
his arm again, Stuart’s “So long, Jack,” was almost cordial.

In the afternoon Stuart went over to the infirmary and called on Wally
Towne. He spent only a few minutes with the patient, however, for Towne
was not up to talking much, and the nurse discouraged a longer visit.
Towne was certain that he’d be all right for the Pearsall game, but,
secretly, Stuart doubted it. Nor could he find anything in the nurse’s
expression to bear out Towne’s assertion. He left the room convinced
that if there were any field-goals scored on Saturday next they would
not be scored by poor old Wally!

Monday was rather an off day on the gridiron so far as the regulars
were concerned. Stuart had some fifteen minutes with a first team that
was largely substitutes, and the second managed to tie the game at 6
to 6. But so far as the education of Le Gette was concerned Monday was
not an off day at all. There was a round sixty minutes of work in the
morning and, because practice was shortened, a good forty-five in the
afternoon. Le Gette already showed progress, and Stuart acknowledged
the fact to the pupil on the way back from the field at dusk. Perhaps
his words sounded more grudging than he really felt, for Le Gette
laughed and answered: “Don’t say it if it hurts you, Harven.” Whereupon
Stuart fell into a silence and wondered if punching the other on the
nose would really yield him all the satisfaction he thought it would!

Tuesday the players put their noses back on the grindstone and Coach
Haynes turned it fast and unremittingly. When the second team came over
and the scrimmage started both sides realized that to-day’s battle was
going to be real and earnest, and, although neither Mr. Haynes nor
“Old Unabridged” so much as suggested it by word, look or gesture, fur
began to fly right away. A day of rest or light work for the first team
regulars had put them on their mettle and, paraphrasing the old story,
they were determined that no second team could bite them and live! It
was a hot, scrappy affair from the first whistle to the ten-minute
intermission, and, from the intermission on to the last panting moment
when, with their backs to the goal line, the first team warriors
repelled the second for the fourth time inside the five-yard line,
praying for the whistle. Nominally it ended in a victory for the first,
7 to 6, but virtually it was a tie, for that margin of one point was
there only by reason that the second possessed no player with half the
ability of Joe Cutts to kick a goal from placement.

Stuart played through the second period――they played two halves of
fifteen minutes each――and worked hard. If he didn’t cover himself with
glory he at least managed to get fairly well sprinkled with gore, for
a second team end put an elbow against his nose in a heated moment of
the contest, and life was going far too hectically just then for the
administration of first aid. When the flow was staunched Stuart would
have been denied admittance at any respectable abattoir! But that was
all in the day’s work, and a puffy nose soon responds to the proper
treatment, and, anyhow, they’d stopped the second four times inside the
five yards! Still, Stuart felt the pace and showed it when the game was
done, and Le Gette, himself a dirt-smeared, short-winded, disreputable
object, took one brief look at his instructor and shook his head.

“It can’t be done,” he said. “Let’s call it off, Harven.”

And Stuart, wanting to act the Trojan but sensing the call of the
showers, nodded as reluctantly as he could, arose and limped off on the
trail of the others.

It was while The Laird was delicately administering to his enlarged and
ensanguined nose that Stuart asked perplexedly: “Say what’s the matter
with me, anyhow, Mac?”

The Laird tossed a wad of absorbent cotton into the basin and replied,
“Naught, lad. There’s no break there. ’Twill be fine to-morrow.”

“Oh, shucks, I don’t mean my nose,” responded Stuart impatiently,
“and you know it. I mean, what’s the reason I can’t play worth a hang
any more? You’ve seen how it is, Mac. I’m not half as good as I was.
I can’t play as well as I could at the beginning of last season!
Something’s wrong, and I can’t put my finger on it!”

“Eating all right?” asked the trainer.

“Sure. Eating enough, anyway. Sometimes things don’t taste so good,
but――oh, it isn’t that. I’m all right that way. Nothing wrong with me.
I mean――――”

“Don’t think about it, lad.” The trainer wiped his hands carefully and
returned things to the shelves. “No one can lay off as long as you did
and not break his stride. Given another week or ten days, you’d come
back fine.”

“But I haven’t got another week,” protested Stuart. “There’s only three
days! And I’ve been back a whole week already and I’m no better than I
was when I started!”

“I know,” The Laird nodded sympathetically. “It’s too bad, but I’d not
greet. You’re doing your best, lad, and we all know it, and there’s no
more any one can do.”

“Well, it’s mighty funny,” growled Stuart. “I’m fit as ever and I know
all the football I ever knew, but――but I can’t――can’t deliver the
goods! I get sort of scared, Mac. I’m afraid to try anything myself
for fear I’ll make a mess of it. The other day I almost fumbled!”

“What of it? There’s others have fumbled and lived to spring an alibi!”

“Maybe, but I never fumbled but once, and you know it: in a game, I
mean. And it frightened me, Mac.”

“You think too much, lad, and it’s making you nervous. Forget football
for a couple of days. And to-morrow, when you go in, give the ball to
yourself and prove you’re just as good as ever you were.”

“I wouldn’t be, though,” answered Stuart gloomily. “I’d make a botch of
it. I haven’t got the sand any more, Mac.”

“Try it, just the same, lad. If you get stopped there’s no great harm
done. But try it. That’s the only way to tell. There you are. Give
the nose a good bath in cold water to-night and again in the morning.
The lad that handed you that must have near sprained his elbow, I’m

Stuart took his damaged countenance to Coach Haynes’ at half-past seven
that evening and afforded more or less merriment to the others present
at the conference. There were seven of the players there: Jack, Tom
Muirgart, Beeman, Wheaton, Howdy Tasker, Leo Burns and Stuart. And The
Laird sat in a dim corner and smoked his pipe incessantly and spoke
only to answer questions. Fred Locker came in later, out of breath and
apologetic. Stuart took small part in the discussion that lasted well
over an hour and a half, although both Jack and the coach by word and
manner invited his opinions. The fact was that Stuart would willingly
have given his opinions had he had any, but, to his surprise, he
found that, save on one or two subjects alone he had formulated none.
It was Jack who, aside from Mr. Haynes, had supplied suggestion and
criticism, who had, it appeared, really given thought to the questions
that arose. For the first time Stuart realized how far short of perfect
his conception of a captain’s duties had been, and he felt a new, and
slightly envious, respect for Jack.

Coach Haynes was very frank in comparing Manning and Pearsall and
made no attempt to spare any one’s feelings. “I don’t think Pearsall
has much if anything on us in the rush line. Maybe Walworth is a bit
cleverer than Cutts. He’s a good example of the light, quick-moving
center, very shifty and a hard man to handle on offense. Their right
guard is a remarkably good one, too, and Le Gette will have his hands
full. As to ends, I’m not troubling. Our scouts report that Cooper, who
played left end for them, was boxed time and again Saturday. Of course,
we can’t count much on that, for that fault will probably be largely
corrected. It’s when we come to the backfield that the comparison goes
against us, fellows. There’s no doubt that, as the two teams played
three days ago, Pearsall has a faster, heavier and more aggressive
set of backs than we have. Connor, their right half, is an unusually
fine player. He made most of their running gains for them and did a
lot better against the St. Charles ends than we did. Morton, fullback,
is big and heavy and hard to stop. He failed to gain just three times
against St. Charles when he bucked the line. At runs outside tackles
he’s a bit slow. Loring, the left half, is good but not so dangerous
as Connor. Their quarter is experienced and runs off a fast game. He
seldom carries the ball himself.

“Pearsall will use about the same plays she used last year, from all
the information we have. She has probably a couple of aces up her
sleeve, but so have we. She hasn’t developed forward passing much and
hasn’t been very successful so far with that style of game. Her punters
are ordinarily good. There are weird stories of Loring having made
sixty yards frequently in practice but he’s never shown anything of the
sort in public. There’s no doubt, however, that he owes his place on
the team more to his punting ability than to his running. So it may be
that he’s the nigger in the woodpile.”

“You think then, sir,” asked Muirgart, “that Pearsall has the edge on

“Surely. I think she’s at least six points better than we are to-day.
Mind you, though, I say _to-day_, Muirgart. Next Saturday’s another
day. Frankly, I’d rather go into a game of this sort with the odds
against us a bit. We’ll realize that we’ve got to fight harder and
we’ll do it. We can beat Pearsall. I don’t say that just as a bluff.
I mean it. We can beat her and we’re going to. We’re going to do it
by getting the jump on her right at the start, by making no mistakes
and by always, everlastingly trying a little bit harder than she does!
Every fellow must go into the game with the determination to outplay
his opponent and the conviction that if he really tries hard he can do
it. Fellows, I’ve seen teams that were admittedly two scores weaker
than their opponents go in and fight and fight and win. I’ve seen it
time and again. It’s spirit that does the trick. Teach two teams the
same amount of football, have them physically even and put them on the
field. What’s going to happen? A tie game? Not once in ten times! One
team or the other will have the better spirit and will win the game!
Well, let’s get down to business.”

They went over the plays then, discussing, arguing. Every play was
judged with relation to Pearsall’s style of defense and her success
against such plays during the season. In the end nineteen only were
retained. As each could be pulled off at both right and left of center
Manning would have at her disposal thirty-eight variations. All
reasonable contingencies were brought up and disposed of. Stuart was
questioned regarding Le Gette’s probable usefulness as a field goal
kicker and gave an encouraging report. “He ought to be tried out in a
game to-morrow, though, Mr. Haynes,” Stuart added. “Kicking a goal is a
different thing when half a dozen wild Indians are charging through on
top of you!”

“I’ve been waiting for the word from you,” replied the coach. “We’ll
give him a trial to-morrow and every other day until Saturday. What’s
the news of Towne, by the way, Laird?”

The Laird took his pipe out of his mouth and shook his head.

“He’ll not play, Coach, save you put him in at the end for a bit. And
I’m thinking that’s not so wise, for he has his letter already.”

Stuart walked back to school with Jack and Fred Locker and said little
on the way. The evening’s proceedings had left him feeling extremely
unimportant, and the feeling wasn’t an agreeable one. The manager
left them to look in at the mass meeting which, as was evident from
the sounds that came from the assembly hall in Manning, was still in
progress, and Stuart and Jack paused at the corner of Lacey. There was
silence between them for a moment, and then Stuart said impulsively:
“Jack, it was a mighty good thing they dished me and made you captain.
You’ve got the brain for it, and I hadn’t. I didn’t realize it until

“Rot!” said Jack indignantly. “Besides, brain――or what you mean by
that――isn’t the only thing a captain needs, Stuart. The right sort of
football captain needs what I haven’t got and never could get.”

“What?” asked Stuart.

Jack shook his head. “I don’t know how to put it into words. It isn’t
exactly popularity, and――leadership isn’t quite it. Those things are
part of it, though. I read about a fellow who was a captain over in
France in the War. He wasn’t popular exactly. Some of his men loved
him but a lot more fairly hated him. But they all _believed_ in him,
Stuart, and they’d have followed him to――to Berlin, and cheered all the
way! I guess that’s about what I’m trying to get at. What that fellow
had is what I haven’t got and what you have, Stuart.”

“I have?” muttered Stuart. “I don’t think I knew it, Jack.” He was
silent a moment. Then with a little laugh that held more of bitterness
than amusement, he added: “If I had, I’ve surely lost it. No one would
follow me to-day as far as the door there!”

“You failed them, Stuart,” answered the other gravely. “But they’ll
come back when you say the word.”

“Come back? Oh――well――I guess there won’t be any coming back. I suppose
I did play the fool, Jack. Just the same, I guess it was better for
the team. You’re a better captain than I was or could have been. I――I
haven’t been awfully decent lately, and――well, you might forget it, if
you don’t mind, and――――”

“Oh, shut up!” said Jack gruffly. “Go to the dickens, will you? Good
night, you poor simp!”

Stuart found Number 12 in darkness. Neil, he reflected, was probably
over at the cheer meeting. Neil had a sentimental streak in him and
loved to get choked up and moist-eyed listening to the Glee Club sing
“Old Manning!” Stuart didn’t light up just then, but pulled a chair
to the window and put his feet on the window seat and looked across
at the lights in Meigs and thought over what Jack had said and what
had happened during the evening and a lot of things. When Neil came in
later he found him still there.

“Hello,” Neil exclaimed, “what’s your trouble?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to discover,” answered Stuart soberly.

                              CHAPTER XVI

                           LE GETTE EXPLAINS

The cold spell continued well into the middle of the week, with brisk
winds from the northwest and, if rumor was to be credited, a momentary
flurry of snow Tuesday evening. The clicking of the steam in the pipes
had a pleasant sound those mornings when, leaping heroically from bed,
one slammed the window down, hustled shiveringly into a bathrobe and
scuttled along the corridor to the showers. Once inside the swinging
doors, the warm steam-laden atmosphere drove out the chills and almost
invariably, for some reason, induced song. Disrobed figures, darting
in or out of the showers, sang lustily. Robed figures, awaiting their
turns, sang, too. As one had to drown the sound of the spray and
his neighbors’ voices in order to hear and appreciate his own vocal
efforts, the lavatories were so many Babels. At this season football
songs were in favor, and a stranger listening outside could not have
failed to be convinced of Manning’s might and valor and of the
futility of Pearsall’s pretensions!

But one didn’t have to listen outside the lavatories to hear football
pæans those days. Every one sang them or whistled them, in hall, on
campus, along the village street. Already the big cherry-red banner
with the gray M floated beneath the stars-and-stripes from the flagpole
in front of Manning Hall and dormitory windows were showing crossed
pennants or cherry-colored pillows. In the village the storekeepers
were digging out last season’s surplus of flags and megaphones and
arm bands, and over the portal of the town hall the ancient and faded
length of red and gray bunting was once more in place. In short,
Safford was preparing for the big event that came but once in two years
and scorned expense! It was even said that Mr. Hutchins――familiarly
known throughout school as “Blinky”――had recklessly imported from New
York a whole dozen cherry-and-gray four-in-hands the like of which had
never been seen in Safford and, which was even more certain, would
never be seen at Manning! But, although fellows shied from the ties,
they considered that “Blinky” had been very sporting.

Cheer meetings were held nightly, increasing in fervor as the big game
approached. Unknown to fame indeed was he who by Friday night had not
stood at least once on the platform in assembly hall and voiced his
faith in the team! Fellows who never read a newspaper save on Sunday,
and then confined themselves to the magazine and “comic” sections,
hurried to the village after breakfast and meandered back to the campus
with their faces concealed behind the outspread pages of the morning
journals. Studious youths who had hitherto been uncertain whether
a touchback was a player or an article of football attire became
suddenly versed in the rules of the game to the point of argument, and
Nutting, who kept the stationery store, sold the four rules-books that
had caused him sorrow for nearly two years! In fact, Manning School
was undergoing a recurrent malady known as football fever and was
experiencing it in its most virulent form.

On Wednesday, however, the malady had not reached its height, and
morning recitations were fairly normal; something not to be said of
Thursday’s or Friday’s. Stuart and Le Gette put in the usual practice
session on the second team gridiron and Le Gette did seven goals out
of ten tries by drop kicking and four out of ten from placement. When
work was over Stuart announced that the other would have a chance to
show what he could do against the second team that afternoon. If Stuart
expected signs of trepidation in Le Gette he was disappointed. Le Gette
only nodded and said: “I suppose you’ve got to forget the other fellows
and just keep your mind on the kick.”

Stuart had no better advice to offer.

When the trials came Le Gette didn’t do so badly. The first time,
called back from guard position to try a drop kick from second’s
thirty, he showed nervousness but, since his line held fast, he put
the pigskin over. A few minutes later, however, on a second attempt,
an opposing tackle leaked through and hurried him and the ball went
slewing off to a corner of the field. Again he made good, from close
to the twenty, and, just before the end came, he failed miserably at a
placement kick after touchdown. Afterwards, Stuart kept him out until
it was too dark to see the ball, and, with an eager junior chasing the
pigskin for them, drilled Le Gette in placement kicking so strenuously
that all hands, including the willing junior, were thoroughly fagged
out. But on Thursday Le Gette showed improvements both at morning
practice and during the game with the second, and Stuart felt a deal of
pride in the results of his coaching, even before Mr. Haynes sought him
on the bench and congratulated him.

“You’ve done wonders, Harven,” said the coach earnestly. “You’ve pulled
us out of a hole. No doubt about that. Le Gette’s as good right now as
Towne. I’m mighty grateful to you.”

“That’s all right,” muttered Stuart. “He’s worked like a Trojan, Le
Gette has. I’ll say that for him.”

“I guess you both have,” answered the coach warmly. “Perhaps you’d
better ease up to-morrow. Mustn’t overdo it.”

“No fear, sir. Le Gette’s a whale for work. He’ll be twenty per cent
better Saturday. I’m going to keep him right at it until the last

“We――ell, all right. Maybe you know best. See that he gets a good
rubbing afterwards.” Mr. Haynes nodded and hurried off, leaving
Stuart frowning after him. The frown was occasioned by the unwelcome
realization that the coach’s commendation had pleased him, and Stuart
didn’t want to be pleased by anything the coach said or did.

There was a stiff, grueling practice that afternoon, in which the first
team rose in its might and, to use Billy Littlefield’s picturesque
metaphor, “chewed the ear off the goats.” Which meant that the first
stacked up fourteen points in the first period and twelve in the
second, and that all the second could do was drop a rather lucky field
goal from the thirty-five yards, aided by a brisk wind. Stuart played
all of that second half and played about as usual. In spite of The
Laird’s advice, he had not dared to put himself to the test. It was
all well enough for The Laird to say that if he was stopped it didn’t
matter, but it did matter. The first was on its mettle those days and
a win over the second was something greatly to be desired, and Stuart
never found a time when, in his judgment, to risk the loss of territory
or, possibly the ball, would have been permissible. So he fed the
pigskin to the other backs or shied it over the line to a waiting end
and never attempted to gain the glory of a spurt outside of tackle or a
“knife” through the line.

Thursday’s work-out was the last before the Pearsall game, although
there was some signal and formation drill on Friday and a short session
for the kickers. The second disbanded with much cheering and romped
joyously off the field, elation over the end of a season’s martyrdom
overweighing the degradation of a 26 to 3 defeat. That was Thursday.
Friday Stuart and Le Gette got in an hour in the forenoon and an hour
before twilight, and Le Gette kicked fourteen out of a possible twenty
drops from various distances and at assorted angles, and Stuart, unable
to dissimilate any longer, slapped his pupil on the back and exclaimed
heartily: “That’s booting ’em!”

That was when the afternoon’s session was over. Le Gette, having
rescued his sweater from the ground faced Stuart with a broad grin. “I
guess I must be pretty good, Harven,” he replied, “to have _you_ say

Stuart frowned. “Oh, I’m not such a pup as that,” he protested. “You’ve
done mighty well, and――I’m fair enough to say so.”

“Thanks. All right. Let’s wander.” Then, when they had gone a little
way, he turned to Stuart and said: “You’ve got it in for me for
blackballing young Orr, haven’t you?”

Stuart, surprised, stared back an instant. Then: “Yes, I have,” he
answered coldly. “And if it’s the same to you, Le Gette, we’ll keep
off that subject.”

“I thought so. And I didn’t care a whoop. But you’ve been pretty decent
in this business, Harven, and I guess I’d like to have you know that
you’re wrong.”

“Wrong? How am I wrong? Just because you didn’t like me you needn’t

“Hold your horses,” interrupted Le Gette calmly. “You didn’t get me.
I’m trying to tell you that I didn’t vote against Orr.”

There was a moment of incredulous silence before Stuart laughed
sarcastically. “Go on, you’re doing fine!” he sneered.

Le Gette flushed but kept his temper. “All right,” he said. “If you
take that tone, I’m through.”

Stuart eyed him doubtfully. Then: “There’s no use telling me that,” he
expostulated. “I know you did it. Who else was there?”

“That’s for you to find out,” Le Gette replied shortly. “I’ve told you
that I didn’t do it. Let’s drop it.”

They went on towards the gymnasium in silence, Stuart thinking hard.
After a minute he said: “All right, Le Gette, I believe you. Sorry if
I was rotten. But you looked at me funny that night, and I knew you had
it in for me――――”

“Never did,” answered the other quickly. “Anyway, not until you showed
that you disliked me for some reason. But no matter how I felt toward
you, Harven, I wouldn’t do a dirty trick like that.”

They had reached the steps, and Stuart paused. “Wait a second,” he
said. “I’d like to get this right. It looks as if I’d made an awful
fool of myself. I never had anything against you, Le Gette; I mean
until that happened. You always looked sort of――of sneery, and――well, I
thought you didn’t like me. Then, that night, you had a look―― Maybe I
imagined it――――”

“I guess I looked at you the way you looked at me,” replied Le Gette
gruffly. “You always seemed to think I was a lump of dirt! I don’t say
that I was awfully cut-up about that blackballing, except that I’ve
always sort of liked Neil Orr, for it got your goat for fair. But I
didn’t do it, and I didn’t like you thinking I did. That got me peeved
and I went on letting you think so.”

“Well,” said Stuart helplessly, “it’s mighty funny!”

“Oh, if you don’t believe me!”

“I don’t mean that! I mean the whole thing’s funny; me thinking you had
it in for me and――and blaming you for the blackballing. I――I’m sorry,
Le Gette. Honest, I am!”

“Well, I wanted you to know the truth,” muttered the other.

“I’m glad you told me. I guess I owe you an apology.”

“Oh, I don’t believe so. Can’t blame you for being peeved, the way
things stood. Guess I ought to have explained at the time, only I was
too mad.”

“Of course,” agreed Stuart. Then, thoughtfully: “I wish I knew who did

“I don’t mind telling you, but I wouldn’t bother to say anything about
it to him because I gave him a dressing down he won’t forget for
awhile. It was young Lantwood.”

“Austin Lantwood! But――why, I thought――”

“Oh, he didn’t have anything against you. It was something that Orr had
done. He didn’t tell me what.”

“I don’t believe it! Neil never did anything against any one! He’s the
squarest fellow in school! If Lantwood says that――――”

“Oh, it probably wasn’t anything really,” interrupted Le Gette.
“Lantwood’s more or less of a pill. Anyway, he won’t do it again, and
if you put Orr’s name up next term there’s no doubt that he’ll make it
all right.”

“I’m going to,” answered Stuart. “How’d you know it was Lantwood?”

“Sort of guessed it. Happened to see his face when Severence announced
the vote. Afterwards, I followed him out and poked a fist at him and
made him come across. He’s yellow and only lied once. Then I gave him
a playful jolt in the ribs and he confessed. It wasn’t any business
of mine, I suppose, but――well, maybe I thought I might want to square
myself some day. Say, let’s go in. I’m freezing to death out here!”

“The little rat!” murmured Stuart as he followed the other into the
warmth of the gymnasium.

“All of that,” agreed Le Gette cheerfully. “But I wouldn’t bother with
him, Harven. I told him I’d break his neck if he ever did anything like
that again. He won’t. Funny thing about it is he’s taken rather a shine
to me since then!”

Later, back in Number 12, Stuart asked: “Neil, what did you ever do to
Austin Lantwood?”

Neil marked a place in his book with a finger and shook his head as he
looked up. “Lantwood? Why, nothing! That is―――― Why do you ask?”

“Well, Le Gette’s just told me that it was Lantwood who blackballed you
for Lyceum.”

“Lantwood! Funny I didn’t think of him,” mused Neil. “Well, I’m glad it
wasn’t Le Gette, anyway. You know, I didn’t think it was, Stuart.”

“Lantwood told Le Gette that you’d done something to him some time or
other. What was it?”

Neil laughed. “Well, last spring I told him he was a disgrace to the
school, and a few things like that, and I dare say he didn’t like it.”

“What for?”

“Why, I found him twisting a kid’s arm one afternoon in the lower
corridor in Manning. The kid was a junior, about thirteen, I guess,
and hardly up to the other chap’s shoulder. He was crying and I butted
in. Lantwood said the kid had called him names and I said I guessed he
deserved it. He wanted to scrap, and I couldn’t oblige him very well,
so I hauled off with one crutch and he beat it. That’s all there was to
it, except that I told him a few things to think over!”

“Well, I’ll be switched!” marveled Stuart. “Think of little Neil’s
losing his temper! Golly, I didn’t think you could do it!”

“I’m not sure that I did just that,” replied Neil reflectively. “I was
indignant, I guess, but I don’t think I was mad.”

“Well, I hope you’ll never get mad at me, then,” laughed Stuart. “I
suppose when you’re really angry you use _both_ crutches!”

“No,” Neil shook his head smilingly, “when I get really mad I don’t say

“Hope you remain chatty, old son. Well, Lantwood won’t do it again,
Steve says, and――――”

“_Who_ says?”

“Le Gette.”

“Oh!” Neil hid the amusement in his eyes by bending over his book
again. “Well, I’m glad it wasn’t Le Gette, Stuart.”

“Yes.” After a moment Stuart added: “He’s not such a bad sort, Neil.
I――I was sort of fooled about him.”

“You sometimes are, you know,” agreed Neil mildly.

“Well, when a fellow makes you think he doesn’t like you――――” Stuart
paused. “I’m going to put you up again for Lyceum right after
Christmas recess, and you’ll go through like a shot.”

“All right. Thanks. Now will you kindly let me go ahead with this? Even
if you never study, I’ve got to occasionally!”

“What a rotten subject to mention,” groaned Stuart. “I’m in a regular
mess with Greek. But a fellow simply can’t get his mind on things like
that in the last week of the season. After we’ve trimmed Pearsall――――”
He stopped and was silent a moment. Then: “Know something, Neil?” he
asked abruptly.

Neil nodded without looking up again. “A little something,” he murmured.

“We’re going to get licked Saturday,” announced Stuart in dismal tones.
“Something tells me so.”

“That so? What time is it?”

“Quarter to six――nearly.”

“Wait half an hour then and something will tell you differently. I’ve
always noticed that you’re a bit of a pessimist just before mealtime!”

“Oh, go to the dickens,” murmured Stuart.

                             CHAPTER XVII

                           TASKER GOES OVER

Why, when he had already gone through one Pearsall game, Stuart should
have awakened on the morning of November twentieth with his heart in
his mouth was beyond him. But he did, and all the time he was dressing
and all through breakfast he felt jumpy and scared. He managed to eat
a normal amount of food, although he didn’t want anything but a cup of
coffee, for fear that his table companions might surmise the degrading
fact that he was as nervous as any tyro. It was a relief to get out of
doors afterwards and sit in the sunlight in front of Manning with some
of the fellows and wait for ten o’clock to arrive. At ten he and Steve
Le Gette were to have a final session on the field. He wished now they
had decided to meet earlier.

The weather was well-nigh ideal for football; bright, with scarcely
a suggestion of breeze and the thermometer around fifty. Perhaps by
midday the sun might shine a bit too ardently, but just now it was
very welcome. There were almost no classes this morning; none at all
for the football players; and the holiday feeling was apparent from the
first. Le Gette showed up a quarter of an hour before the appointed
time, to Stuart’s relief, and they went over to the gymnasium and
donned togs very leisurely. There was no hurry now that the tedium
of inactive waiting was past. All either of the boys desired was an
occupation to take their minds from what was scheduled to take place
at two o’clock. They talked freely to-day, and Steve Le Gette found
that there was quite a different side to Stuart Harven from what he
had known. Stuart explained Lantwood’s grievance against Neil and from
that subject the talk slipped to Neil’s appointment as one of the day’s
cheer leaders, Le Gette wondering how he would manage in view of his
dependence on crutches. Stuart was confident that Neil would have no
trouble, though. “He can do about everything any one else can except
walk,” he said. Then, as was fated, the conversation reached the game
and they talked of it all the way over to the field and felt better for

Practice wasn’t very hard this morning. Stuart tried to make Le Gette
more perfect in placement kicking, but it was fairly evident that no
amount of practice would ever bring Le Gette’s place kicks to a par
with his drops. Of the latter he performed several difficult ones,
Stuart placing him at angles such as would probably never occur in
contests. They were not alone this morning, for two or three dozen
fellows wandered over to the field and looked on. Wallace Towne was
one. Towne plainly showed his recent illness, although he told Stuart
that he felt perfectly all right and hoped that Haynes would let him
into the game for a while.

“Wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t my last game,” he said. “You’ve got
another year. But I haven’t. Not here.”

“Still you’ve got your letter, old man,” consoled Stuart.

“I know. That isn’t it. I want to smash a couple of ‘Percies.’ Suppose
you’ll get in, eh?”

“I don’t know, Wally. I’m hoping Haynes will let me in for a period.
Guess that’s the best I can expect. I’m playing rotten.”

“Don’t believe it! You couldn’t. You’ll make it. Wish I was half as

The advance guard of the enemy had begun to put in an appearance by
the time Stuart and Le Gette got back to the campus, and blue pennants
and arm bands were well in evidence. Luncheon for the players was a
lightweight affair at twelve, at which there was far more talking than
eating. Talk is a splendid outlet for nervousness. After luncheon the
squad went to the gymnasium and walked through half a dozen plays and
listened to a final talk by the coach. Like many of his kind, Mr.
Haynes firmly believed that the team scoring first was the team that
won. Perhaps later he changed his mind, but to-day he still believed
and shared his belief.

“We’re going to get the jump on Pearsall,” he explained. “We’re going
to try mighty hard to score inside the first ten minutes. After we have
scored we’ll play a safe game, but until we have we’re going to take
chances and use every trick that will gain ground. The first punch
is what counts, fellows, and we want to deliver it. I want to see
Pearsall played right off her feet in the first eight or ten minutes.
That means that every one of you must show all the speed and all the
snap you know, and a bit more besides. There’s to be no time called,
no hesitation about signals. Every man must keep on the jump every

Manning went over to the field at half-past one. Already the stands
were well sprinkled. The townsfolk had showed their allegiance by
turning out in their bravest array, many of them bringing lunch along
so that they might be early on hand and secure the best seats. The
yearly circus and the Manning-Pearsall football game were the only
events capable of inducing Safford citizens outside their doors.
Pearsall romped on a few minutes later, by which time there was a
sufficient number of her adherents in place to give her a rousing
welcome. That event started the cheering which continued without
respite until the teams took the field. Down in front of the Manning
sections, Stearns Wilson, cheer captain, and McColl, Trenholme and Neil
Orr, his lieutenants, swung their big cherry-colored megaphones and
worked hard. The way in which Neil danced about on his crutches and
waved his arms was a wonder and a delight, and it is no exaggeration
to say that, although his section held a goodly number of visitors
sprinkled in with the students, he obtained quite as good results as
any of the other leaders.

The day had turned just a little too warm for the comfort of the
warriors, but the absence of wind was something to be thankful for and
atoned for the excess of temperature. The Pearsall squad, some thirty
strong, looked hard and eager. Statistics gave the visitors a two pound
advantage in the rushline and placed the backfield average at the same
figure. Five minutes before two Captain Brewton led his squad to the
bench and Coach Haynes summoned Stuart.

“Harven,” he announced, “you’re going to start at quarter. I think you
can run the team somewhat faster than Wheaton, and speed is what we
want. You know the plays. Make them go and make them go fast. I want a
score――a touchdown if we can get it, a field goal if we can’t――inside
of ten minutes. If we haven’t got it then, you come out, Harven.”

“If we have got it, sir?”

“You play the half through, barring accidents.”

“All right, sir. We’ll have it if it’s to be had.”

“It _is_ to be had, Harven, and I want you to feel so. There are two
things to keep in mind every minute. One is accuracy and the other is
speed. Get your plays right and then make them go fast. Get the jump
from the kick-off and never lose it!”

“Yes, sir, I’ll do my best.”

“That’s all I ask, Harven. Your best is mighty good!”

But, although Stuart had spoken confidently enough to the coach, he
was filled with misgivings when he trotted out on the gridiron with
a thundering cheer beating against his ears. Ten minutes was but ten
minutes, and, unfortunately, Pearsall had won the toss and given
Manning the kick-off. He was not through being surprised at his good
fortune when Joe Cutts stepped forward and shot the pigskin away
from the tee. He had hoped to get into the game for a little while;
perhaps for a whole period toward the end; but that he should have been
chosen in preference to Wheaton to start the game was something almost
miraculous. Well, there he was, and Haynes looked for a score in the
first ten minutes of playing time, which, thought Stuart as he raced
down the field behind the ball, was a good deal to expect! But that
wasn’t saying it couldn’t be done. No, sir, not by a long shot! Those
chaps weren’t any better than old Manning. Maybe not so good. Haynes
had said that it was spirit that counted――――

Just then Stuart went slam into a Pearsall tackle, a whistle shrilled
and on the Blue’s seventeen yards a carroty-haired half whom Stuart
recognized as Connor rolled off the ball and scrambled to his feet.

Pearsall tested the Manning center for a yard, massed her whole
backfield on Thurston for two more, gained three through Beeman and
then punted. It was Billy Littlefield, playing back with Stuart, who
caught, and Billy reeled off most of ten yards before he was toppled.
Then, with the two teams facing each other across Manning’s forty-five,
the Cherry-and-Gray began an onslaught that became history.

Statistics, if there was such, would show that ninety-nine times in
one hundred the first attack by a team in an important game is made
at the line. Ninety-seven times in a hundred the second play is also
directed at the line. In short, the attempt is almost invariably made
to try out the opposing defense in the first minutes of play. This rule
is almost as inviolable as the law of gravitation. Recently, however,
a famous scientist has shown that even the law of gravitation has its
exceptions, and it is possible that knowledge of this fact may have
emboldened a lesser scientist――for who dares say that football is not
a science?――to conceive of an exception to the rule alluded to. All
that as may have been, the rule was flagrantly disregarded. Instead
of sending a back experimentally against the enemy’s line, Stuart
watched the ball pass by him into the outspread hands of Leo Burns,
saw the whole backfield, from balanced formation, dash to the right,
saw the Pearsall end neatly boxed by Tasker and Littlefield and saw
Burns tearing over the line. I say that Stuart saw all this, but it
would be nearer the facts to say that he saw some of it and sensed the
rest. For Stuart was busy himself. While Whaley blocked the opposing
tackle, Le Gette and Stuart cleaned out a hole that wasn’t used and
met the first onslaught of the enemy’s backs. Burns, running wide and
without interference, took the pigskin over four white marks before he
was pulled down by the Pearsall quarter. The ball was near the enemy’s
forty-three when it came to light again.

Pearsall looked bewildered, even stunned. More than that, she looked
hurt and injured, as though Manning had played an unfair trick on her.
She had had her rush line all set, every husky player from tackle to
tackle swinging and crouched, ready to repel the attack. And what
had the enemy done? What, indeed, but outrage and transgress one of
the fundamental rules and precedents and go scurrying off around an
unsuspecting end! Pearsall was surprised, disgruntled and sore. The
thing was never done, and Manning had done it! But the Blue had
scant time to nurse her grievance, for never had a team sped back
to positions and cried its signals as quickly as Manning did in the
ensuing five seconds. The Pearsall quarter fairly had to run to get
back up the field ere the ball again went into play. And in those
few seconds the Manning stand was a bedlam of cheers unmeasured but

Again Stuart sent the ball to Burns on a direct pass and again Burns
crossed to the right. But this time the play went outside the tackle,
and, because Cooper, the Pearsall left end, eluded the interference and
managed to get himself in the way, the down netted but three yards, and
it was Pearsall’s turn to cheer. But that was only a momentary pause in
the advance. Littlefield found a hole awaiting him between guard and
tackle and slashed through for three more, and Tasker, faking a punt,
went hurtling into and over the opposing right tackle and, fighting,
squirming, head-down, took the ball for the rest of the distance before
the secondary defense piled on to him.

Pearsall, confused by the opponent’s speed, tried desperately to stem
the tide, tried to meet speed with speed and failed. She was still
dismayed by that first act of treachery, puzzled by a foe who did the
unexpected and kept on doing it. She had been assured that Manning was
an exponent of old-style football who would buck the line so long as
a foot rewarded her. But Manning didn’t seem to realize that Pearsall
had a center and was apparently only partly aware of the existence of
her guards! There was little time for conferences, for Manning leaped
from the ground to position in a breath and her demoniac quarter began
to cry his signals almost before the whistle had ceased! Pearsall was
as nearly demoralized as it had ever been her fortune to be for several

Inside her thirty-yard line, according to all the rules of the game,
her defense should have strengthened and the enemy’s attack slowed
down. Yet nothing of the sort happened. With Pearsall’s backs close
behind her line, well spread to repel end attacks, Manning again did
the improbable. Le Gette fell back to kicking position and Tasker took
his place in the line. Pearsall believed no try-at-goal would come on
second down, and yet there was no telling what such a crazy opponent
would do, and so the backs tried to be in two places at once and were
quite unprepared for the quick, short heave from Stuart to Muirgart.
A Pearsall back did almost spoil the pass since, scenting an end run,
he had sped out at the last instant, but Muirgart pulled the ball down
safely near the twenty-yard line and reached the fourteen before the
frantic Pearsall back pulled him to earth.

The Blue called for time then, something she might better have done
minutes before, and making no pretense of an injury to a player
gathered in close conclave near the goal. A substitute end was whisked
in from the Pearsall bench and was closely watched by the enemy lest
he divulge instructions from his coach before the next play was over.
Stuart fumed at the two-minute delay but had to put up with it. He
and Jack bent and talked in panting whispers. Back up the field,
the Cherry-and-Gray cohorts were chanting “_Touchdown! Touchdown!
Touchdown!_” From the opposite stand the Pearsall contingent was
equally clamorous with its slogan “_Hold ’em Pearsall! Hold ’em
Pearsall!_” Then the whistle piped again.

It was first down, the ball a scant yard past the fifteen and well to
the left of the goal. Stuart, dripping perspiration, his heart thumping
hard, reasoned that Pearsall would look for one of two things, a run
around the left on the short side of the field or an attack to the
right to center the ball in case a try-at-goal became necessary. What
she would doubtless least expect was a straight smash at the left of
the line. And so that is what Stuart called for and that is what Tasker
performed. A fullback split-buck through left of center, with Tasker
taking the ball from Stuart at a hand pass, with Burns and Littlefield
charging to the right, with Brewton and Beeman putting the opposing
guard out and Cutts heaving at the center, took the ball to the eight
yards. Pearsall was shouting hoarsely, frantically, digging her cleats.
The substitute end whispered his order as Stuart yelped for action.

“Come on, Manning! Play fast! Get in there, Thirsty! Signals!”

Again the ball went to Tasker, but this time a scant yard rewarded an
off-tackle play on the right. Pearsall found encouragement and, when
the stick was seen to move but a few feet along the side-line, a wild
shout of acclaim arose from the blue-decked stand.

“Third down!” shouted the referee. “About three to go!”

“Let’s have it!” cried Stuart. “Hard, fellows, _hard_! Here we go! Le
Gette back! Signals!”

“Bust that up!” shrieked the Pearsall captain. “Block that kick! Get
through, Pearsall!”

“Watch for a fake!” shouted the Blue’s quarter anxiously.

Back went the ball, but although Le Gette swung his long leg, it was
Billy Littlefield who snuggled the pigskin to his stomach, put his
head down and dashed like a battering-ram into the line. Before him
went Burns, behind him Stuart and Le Gette. Straight at the Pearsall
right guard he dashed, stopped with a grunt, dug his toes and went on
again. Shouts, grunts, wild confusion of sound and movement, and then,
suddenly, a wavering of the Blue defense! The line buckled, gave! Then
the secondary defense piled in behind it, and the advance paused,
stopped. A whistle blew.

Littlefield, void of breath but grinning, was pulled to his feet.
“Fourth down! About half a yard to go!” droned the referee.

“Let’s have it!” yelled Stuart hoarsely. “Kick formation! Hold that
line, Manning!” Stuart trotted back to kicking position. “Signals!”
Then they came, and Cutts passed the ball back to Tasker and the big
fullback ran out to the left, Burns beside him, Littlefield behind.
Then came Stuart’s frantic “_In! In!_” and Tasker swerved to the right,
Littlefield sent a Pearsall tackle toppling out of the path and, with
the enemy all about him, yet, as though by a miracle, eluding them,
Howdy Tasker――Fame beckoning him on――spun and twisted, dodged and
side-stepped and, finally, with half the Pearsall team clutching and
dragging, spurned the last line and went over!

Almost before the whistle had blown Stuart was sprinting toward the
side line. “How much time is there, sir?” he demanded breathlessly of
the linesman.

“Oh, you’ve got seven minutes yet!” was the reply.

Seven minutes! Then they had scored in eight, well under the coach’s
allowance of ten! Stuart swung his head guard in triumph as he hurried
back. Now if only he could kick the goal! Le Gette picked up the ball
and took it out to the twenty-yard line, Stuart following, and slowly
and cautiously lowered himself to the ground. They were still cheering,
still shrieking back there on the Manning side, and for an instant
the sound worried Stuart. Then he cast an anxious look at Le Gette.
Save that that youth’s lungs were pumping hard, he showed no sign of

“This ought to be easy, Stuart,” panted Le Gette reassuringly, as he
pointed the ball.

“Yes,” agreed Stuart. But there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm in
that assent. He was wishing with all his heart that he might exchange
places with the other. The old self doubt was back and he was horribly
afraid. Yet he instructed Le Gette with apparent confidence, took a
last look at the bar, stepped forward and kicked. Then he closed his
eyes for an instant, not daring to watch the flight of the ball, and
opened them only when a mighty cheer burst forth from the Manning

                             CHAPTER XVIII

                          IN THE LAST QUARTER

No team could continue the pace that Manning had set at the start, and
when Cutts had again kicked off from the midfield and Pearsall had
caught and reeled off twelve yards there was a perceptible let-down
in Manning’s speed, and, since the Blue had in the interim between
the scoring and the kick-off pulled herself together, the opponents
appeared more closely matched. Pearsall made her distance once, Connor
carrying the ball around Whaley when two tries at the left of center
had yielded five yards. The Blue’s fullback got two through Le Gette,
but after two more tries at the line Pearsall punted to Stuart on his
thirty-two. He managed to dodge back for five before he was thrown

Manning began then a systematic bucking of the Pearsall center and
obtained good results, Tasker and Burns gaining between tackles for
enough to take the pigskin in the Blue’s territory. There an off-side
penalty set her back and Littlefield was caught off the line and dumped
on his head. Stuart punted to the Blue’s fourteen and Pearsall kicked
on second down to Manning’s forty. Manning failed to make her distance
on three tries and Tasker punted. The kick was short and a Pearsall
back landed the ball on his thirty-two. A forward pass grounded, but
on the next play Connor again went around Whaley and reached Manning’s
forty-six. A second attempt at the same play was spilled for a loss and
Pearsall sent her left half close off Thurston for six. The quarter
ended and the teams changed fields.

Pearsall had regained her confidence and showed it, and the Blue
stand was shouting madly. Pearsall brought off her first successful
forward-pass and made it go for nine yards, placing the ball close to
the home team’s thirty-yard line. Pearsall’s quarterback got loose
around his left and added four more, and Coach Haynes hurried Wesner on
in place of Whaley. The Blue was playing desperately and was hard to
stop. Yet from the twenty-six her progress was slower and it required
the tape to determine her right to retain possession of the ball on
the twenty. But she had made her distance by an inch or two, and the
Pearsall supporters went mad with joy. Almost on the threshold, the
Blue became cautious and, using a right shift, concentrated on the
enemy’s tackles. But two tries gained her only three yards and Loring,
her left half, went back to kicking position. As was expected, the
third down became an attempt at a plunge through center, an attempt
that was spoiled by the Manning backs. Then, from the twenty-three,
Loring got the ball on a good pass, dropped it and kicked. Manning
broke through, but, although Jack Brewton tipped the pigskin with his
fingers, the ball went squarely across the bar and the Blue had scored.

The rest of the second period passed without further scoring, although,
with but two minutes to play, Stuart, faking a pass to Tasker, hid
the ball for an instant and then shot straight through the enemy’s
center and dodged and squirmed through the backfield for twenty-eight
yards, landing the pigskin on Pearsall’s twenty-nine. That sample of
the quarterback’s return to his old form brought the Manning cheerers
to their feet, and there they stayed, cheering wildly, imploring a
touchdown. But, although Coach Haynes sped Hanson in for Littlefield
and Hanson and Lowe and Tasker each banged at the Pearsall line or
plunged past tackle, three downs left the Cherry-and-Gray three yards
short of her distance and Stuart and Jack held a consultation. Stuart
was all for risking a forward pass, but Jack preferred playing it safer
on a try at a field goal.

“It had better be Le Gette, then,” Stuart panted. “I’m all in, Jack.
But he can do it.”

“All right! Let’s have it!”

Le Gette looked a little bit pale when he dropped back to the
twenty-eight. The distance was nothing to bother him, nor was the
angle extreme, but this was his first attempt during the game and he
was nervous. And things went against him: Joe Cutts passed high and Le
Gette wasted a valuable moment getting the ball to position: a Pearsall
guard got through between Beeman and Cutts and, although Hanson spilled
him, added to Le Gette’s worriment. As a result the ball started well
but, short of the goal, veered from its path. There was a moment of
doubt that ended with a yell of relief from Pearsall. The pigskin had
passed a foot outside the further upright! Le Gette looked as if he
wanted to cry, but Stuart said: “Hard luck, Steve! You’ll get the next
one!” and the teams lined up once more. Pearsall tried one smash at
the foe and then the whistle blew.

Manning and Pearsall sang and cheered all through the intermission,
Manning with the confidence that a four-point lead gave her, Pearsall
with the hope of ultimate victory. When the teams trotted back again
all previous efforts in the line of cheering were paled by the mighty
welcomes that burst forth from the stands. Pearsall had made but one
change in her line-up, Manning two. Codman was at left guard in place
of Beeman and Wheaton was at quarter. Stuart saw the rest of the game
from the bench. He held no resentment toward Mr. Haynes, for “Wheat”
had proved his right to the position and the coach had fulfilled his
promise. If, secretly, Stuart believed that he could have played that
second half better than his rival, he gave no voice to the belief.
He took what consolation he could from the conviction that he had
performed well while he had been in and tried not to be unduly troubled
by the reflection that had he tried that goal from field instead of Le
Gette, Manning’s score might now be three points bigger.

Pearsall came back for that third period at least twenty per cent
better. What had passed in the Blue’s quarters during half-time
none but the members of the team and their coach knew, but whatever
it was it had had its effect. Pearsall, with her line-up practically
unaltered, took command of the situation at once. Manning gave the
kick-off to Pearsall and when the ball had landed in Muirgart’s arms
near his twenty-five-yard line she kept it but a brief time. Three
rushes proved the enemy’s line too strong, and Tasker punted. Fate took
a hand then. That punt was high and short and was pulled down on the
fifty-yard line. From there Pearsall opened up a new style of attack,
placing her backs, three-abreast, close to her line and keeping the
plays concealed most bewilderingly. She found a weak spot at Codman
and made gain after gain there until Codman was replaced by Baker. She
pulled off two forward-passes that were as successful as they were
daring, using long heaves far down the field to an unprotected end. Six
minutes after the kick-off the Blue was hammering at Manning’s portal
and the Cherry-and-Gray, desperate, was fighting for those final ten

Pearsall saw victory ahead and was not to be denied. Amidst a continued
welter of noise from the stands, she hammered and banged, gaining two
yards here, three there, making it first down at last on Manning’s six.
Irmo went in for Cutts, who was showing wear, and the Manning center
stood steady. With four yards to go on fourth down, Pearsall, faking
a kick, sent Connor skimming around the right end and, with sinking
hearts, the Cherry-and-Gray’s adherents saw him stagger across the goal
line at the corner of the field. From that touchdown Loring sent over
an easy goal, and on the score-board the white numerals changed from 7
to 3 to 7 to 10!

But there still remained nearly twenty minutes of playing time and,
undaunted, Manning went back to the contest. Pearsall for the rest of
that period seemed content to play on the defensive and punted whenever
the ball fell into her hands in her own territory. Manning found the
Blue line almost impregnable and was forced to use all the tricks in
her bag to make her gains. But luck seemed against her. Forward passes
failed and end runs were as often stopped behind the line as beyond
it. Yet, by hook or by crook, the Cherry-and-Gray managed to make her
distance four times before the whistle ended the third period, though
never once reaching far into Pearsall territory. When the period ended
the ball was Manning’s on her thirty-four yards, following a punt by
the enemy.

Stuart, watching anxiously from the bench, squirmed time and again
as the home team’s plays failed to gain and the minutes sped past.
There was something psychological in Manning’s condition, and Stuart
recognized the fact, although he didn’t use such a long word to
describe it to himself. He merely said: “That touchdown has taken the
starch right out of them!” It wasn’t that Manning didn’t try hard, for
she did. Her men were fairly working themselves to death. But labor and
skill, if ill applied, fail of their purpose, and Manning was somehow
fighting blindly. Stuart recalled a movie comedy he had seen wherein
a man had tried mightily to break through a door in a wall that ended
ten feet further along. The team, he thought, was like that man. It
was wasting its efforts trying to get through what might better be
got around or over. It had tried to get around, to be sure, and it
had tried to get over as well, but it hadn’t tried the right way. In
running the ends it had been advertising the play beforehand, starting
the runner from well behind the line and sweeping the interference
along with him. Why, the veriest idiot could have told what was
coming! As for her forward passes, he could find little fault with the
execution of those. Sheer luck had spoiled them, it seemed. But the
team did have a puzzling forward pass play which was well disguised as
a half back run, and that had not been attempted. More than once he was
moved to speak his thoughts to Coach Haynes, but always something held
him back. After all, the Coach had eyes and doubtless saw just what
Stuart saw. Perhaps when the fourth period began the Cherry-and-Gray
team would find itself again.

While the teams changed fields and water carriers scampered to the side
lines with pails and paper cups, Coach Haynes turned from a conference
with The Laird and summoned Littlefield to him. A few brief words were
exchanged and Billy, throwing off his blanket, ran on. No other change
was made. Yet when Manning had wasted one play on an ill-fated attack
at the Pearsall line on the left of center, she suddenly changed her
tactics, and Stuart, observing, sighed his relief.

“Haynes has sent the right dope, I guess,” he confided to Lowe, beside
him. “Now maybe we’ll see something.”

But Pearsall was not napping, and, although Littlefield sneaked
through between tackle and end on the left, the gain was short. Another
try outside of end went better, but fourth down found them shy three
yards of the required ten, and Tasker booted. This time, catching
near her twenty-five, her quarterback slammed to earth without gain
by Muirgart, Pearsall didn’t kick on first down, nor yet on second or
third. Instead, she began a hard drive on Manning’s left wing, hitting
Brewton and Baker for short gains and then getting past Jack on the
outside for nearly the distance. A fake kick and a quick slam at center
gave her first down on her thirty-six. From there the Blue, abandoning
defensive tactics, took the war into the enemy’s territory in just
seven plays. Muirgart gave place to Jakin at left end and went limping
off to the cheers of the Manning stand. Pearsall worked a quarterback
run for eight and followed with a well-disguised forward-pass that
landed the ball on Manning’s thirty-two. There, however, she hit a snag
and, with a yard to go on fourth down, saw her backs piled up with no
gain. Almost under the shadow of her goal, Manning took no risk of
losing the ball, but, after one futile plunge at right tackle, punted.

Tasker got nearly fifty yards on that kick, and the Manning supporters
yelled their relief and delight. Pearsall started back determinedly
from her thirty-five, gained four around Jakin, gained one at the same
end, made two through Irmo and again kicked. Littlefield caught on
his twenty-seven and swept the ball back to the forty before he was
stopped. Then began another brave attempt to reach the distant goal.
Using C Formation, with the backs spread widely, Manning fought her way
across midfield and started a determined march into the enemy country.
With Tasker back as though to punt, Littlefield and Burns found gaps
time and again and shot through the line only to be brought to earth by
the secondary defense. Yet the short gains were consistent for awhile,
and the pigskin went nearer and nearer the Blue’s goal. But the minutes
were ticking themselves off with fatal rapidity, and as, past the
thirty-five, the gains shortened, and, finally, Burns was thrown for
a loss, Stuart knew that there was to be no victory for the home team

On the enemy’s thirty-two, with four to go on fourth down, Wheaton
tried a desperate expedient. Given another five yards or so, he would
be willing to risk a try for a goal from the field, and so, sending Le
Gette back to kicking position and dropping to the ground as though to
hold the ball for a place kick, Wheaton called his signals. Pearsall,
alarmed, held herself ready to break through. Then the ball sped back
into Wheaton’s hands. But instead of kicking it Le Gette only swung
his foot past it, and the next moment Wheaton was on his feet stepping
back, the pigskin poised for a throw. Then Jakin signaled and the ball
sped across the line. It was a fine toss and a fine catch and although
the left end did not get free, he made the twenty-two yards before he
was smothered by the enemy.

The Manning stand saw victory waving, and such a shout went up from
the throats of her devoted hundreds that even the wearied and jaded
players felt the thrill. Manning was racing with Time now, for the
linesman was slowly edging nearer and nearer, his eyes constantly
dropping to the dial of the stop watch in his hand, and it seemed
that Time must win. The two-minute period had already been announced,
and more than twenty yards remained between the Cherry-and-Gray and
a victory. Manning sprang quickly to position, but not so quickly
that the time she consumed did not seem interminable to the anxious
watchers. Pearsall was less inclined to speed, but the opponent made
her hustle. Littlefield tried hard to gain off tackle on the right, but
made less than two yards. Next, what looked like the same play resolved
itself into another forward pass, but this time Wesner failed to get
into place and the pass grounded. Then Fortune again turned her back on
the Cherry-and-Gray warriors. Tasker smashed through between left guard
and tackle for nearly five yards, but the squawking of the horn spelled
disaster and the referee paced off five yards and put the ball back
close to the twenty-five-yard line. Jakin had been caught off-side.

Stuart groaned aloud. Third down and thirteen yards to go! And seconds
instead of minutes left! Would Wheaton waste any of that precious
time on a hopeless rush or would he call on Le Gette for a field goal
from about the thirty-three yards that looked equally hopeless? All
expectation of a victory had been abandoned by the Manning supporters.
Instead, they prayed for a tie score, and, as the precious seconds
ticked themselves away, prayed silently.

Yet that silence was broken before the whistle blew again, for Towne
was running on, and, behind him, four more substitutes, and the
Manning stand answered the cheer leaders’ demand for “A short cheer
for Towne!” for Leonard, for Thompson, for Lowe, for Whiting! Cheers
for those who retired were cut short, for the whistle piped once more,
the referee scuttled to safety and a sigh of relief burst from Stuart.
Le Gette was walking back!

“Twenty-four seconds!” some one was crying as he took his stand. But
that didn’t worry him. The play once begun, time was of no account. It
was the distance and angle that caused him trepidation. He was eight
yards behind the line and the line was close to the twenty-five; and
the nearer goal post was well to his left. Perhaps had he been fresh,
with his lungs not seemingly on the point of stopping work and his
heart not pounding like a sledge, he might have faced his task with
more confidence. But as it was his spine felt more like a column of
water than a thing of bone and his muscles were twitching.

On the stands a deep silence had fallen. Pearsall’s cry of “_Block that
kick!_” had dwindled away. Even the shouts of the opposing players had
lapsed to hoarse mutters as Irmo, sighting, prepared to shoot the ball
back. Wheaton, crouched behind the center, yelped his signals in a
voice that cracked. Steve Le Gette held his trembling hands straight
out, stiffened himself on his wobbling legs. Then came the thuds
of meeting bodies, the rasping of canvas against canvas, the wild,
unintelligible cries, the throaty grunts as Pearsall hurled herself at
the enemy. But came, too, the battered brown ball, turning lazily over
twice on its shorter axis and settling true into the outstretched hands
awaiting it. One more brief glance at the crossbar, a quick turning of
the ball, a single step forward, a powerful swing of a leg! Then forms
blotted the speeding ball from his sight. The enemy was all about him,
plunging past, toppling to the trampled sod.

Up and up, slowly, unconcernedly, went the ball, hung for a moment
against the blue of the sky and arched downward. Midway between the
posts it sailed and, for a fleeting instant, as it began its descent,
it was eclipsed by the white streak of the crossbar!

                              CHAPTER XIX

                        STUART SPEAKS HIS MIND

Ten to ten!

A tied score and victory for neither team!

When the outburst that acclaimed Le Gette’s goal had finally died down
a strange silence descended over the stands. Near midfield the teams
were cheering each other, but the cheers sounded faint and perfunctory.
The groups broke up and the players turned toward the benches and
then, mingling with the throng, hurried off the field. The cheering
section on the Manning side found its voice and broke into measured
sound; a long cheer for the Team, a regular cheer for Pearsall――“and
make it good!”――and another long cheer for Manning. The remnants of the
Pearsall cheering section returned the compliment, and then the stands

It was a very quiet throng that flowed over the turf toward the
campus. There is something woefully flat about a tied football game,
and speculation and argument as to what might have happened bring
small comfort. Many of the visitors felt cheated because there had
been no subsequent spectacle, no snake dance with caps and brightly
hued megaphones tossing over the crossbars, no triumphant cheering
and singing. Some departed firm in the conviction that that amusement
should have been provided for them irrespective of the game’s outcome!

In the gymnasium there was plenty of talk, but it flowed levelly, with
no crescendos. Many remarks began with “If” and “But” and ended in
the air. The general atmosphere was one of resentment rather than of
regret, as though Fate had played a sorry trick. Later on, perspective
came to the aid and a more philosophic mood prevailed, but just now
there were moody faces aplenty in the locker room. Outside, the fellows
were gathered before the entrance responding faithfully to Stearns
Wilson’s every demand. Players and substitutes, coaches and managers,
trainer and assistants were cheered loudly, but the sound, booming down
to the wearied warriors, failed to dispel their gloom.

At supper time the entrance of every football fellow was, as usual,
warmly applauded, and cheerfulness was more apparent. Stuart, coming
in a few minutes late, with Neil, was met with a salvo such as had
been accorded only Jack Brewton. Stuart, drawing his chair out, looked
back to see who had followed him into the hall, and was surprised
to discover that the long-continued chorus of “A-a-ay!” was in his
honor. He felt an odd sense of pleasant confusion and tried to hide it
by drinking from an empty water glass. A crowd that included Stuart
and Jack and Neil invaded the moving picture house after supper and,
finding a really humorous comedy to laugh at, returned to school in
better spirits.

But in Stuart’s case the spirits didn’t outlast the night, and when he
awoke nearly an hour before he needed to on Sunday morning and found
the world gray and soggy under a drizzling rain he became horribly
depressed. He couldn’t get to sleep again, but lay listening to the
patter of the drops on the window ledge and faced a blank future. There
didn’t seem to be anything to get up for! Nothing this morning nor any
other morning! Life looked frightfully drab and dull. No more football!
Nothing ahead but lessons! He groaned and pulled a sheet over his head.
Of course, he might go in for basketball. That was pretty good fun.
Or hockey. Either one would at least keep him in training. But for
what? More basketball or hockey! Just now he was in a martyrlike mood
and told himself that he’d never try football again; anyhow, not at
Manning. He had made a dismal failure of it and self-respect at least
forbade his going back to it. They’d elect Howdy Tasker captain next
Saturday evening, probably. Well, Howdy was all right, but he had had
enough of working under some one else. And Haynes would be coaching
again, he supposed. Well, Haynes had been pretty decent lately, he’d
say that, but if he went back to the team next year there’d be the
same old rows! No, he was through with football; plumb, everlastingly

Neil awoke with a prodigious yawn and a backward stretch that knocked
his knuckles resoundingly against the wall. Neil always awoke that way.
Then he sat up and, as Stuart thrust the sheets from his face, blinked
across smilingly. “Hello,” he said. “What time is it?”

“About a quarter to eight,” answered Stuart morosely. “Go to sleep

“I’m slept out. Gee, it’s raining, isn’t it?”

“No, some fellow’s cleaning his teeth out the window,” said Stuart
sarcastically. Neil brushed the remaining sleep from his eyes and
studied his roommate for a moment in silence. Then:

“Whence the grouch, son?” he asked sympathetically.

“Oh, what’s the good?” asked the other vaguely. “Nothing to look
forward to now but just a lot of beastly studying!”

“Cheer up, Christmas vacation’s only a month away!”

“We-ell,” acknowledged Stuart grudgingly. Then, with triumphant
pessimism: “And after vacation come exams!”

Neil laughed. “I guess you’re beyond human aid this morning! Been awake

“Half an hour, I suppose. I’ve been thinking.”

“That explains it. Thinking always did have a bad effect on you,
Stuart. What have you been thinking about?”

“Lots of things. About football, for one. I’m going to quit.”

“Why not? The season’s over.”

Stuart scowled. “I mean for good. I’m through.”

Neil digested that startling information a moment. Then he asked
carelessly: “Did it ever occur to you that you might be elected captain

“_Me?_” Stuart stared across incredulously. “You’re crazy! Not a
chance! Anyhow, I wouldn’t accept!”

“Wouldn’t you? Why?”

“You know why,” replied Stuart shortly. “After what happened this year,
do you think I’d――I’d―――― Anyway, they wouldn’t want me for captain.
And I don’t blame ’em. It’ll be Howdy, I guess. He’ll make a good one,

“Yes, I think he would,” agreed Neil. But there was a suggestion of
reservation in his tone that caused Stuart to view him suspiciously.

“Look here,” he charged, “for the love of Mike, don’t go around making
cracks like that, Neil!”

“Like what?” asked the other innocently.

“Why, about me being captain next year! Think I want fellows to think
that――that I’m looking for it――or would take it if it was offered?
Well, by golly, I don’t! That would be the limit!”

“All right, I won’t mention it. Suppose, though, some one else
suggested it? Want me to say officially that you’d refuse?”

“Yes, I do! You say it as officially as you know how. But I guess no
one but you would ever think of it, you crazy coot!”

“Well, that’s that,” replied Neil. “Let’s get up and have a good shower
before the gang takes possession.”

“I don’t want any shower,” grumbled Stuart.

Nevertheless, he followed Neil out of bed and down the hall, and
presently he might have been heard whistling a football tune quite
cheerfully above the hiss of the water.

After breakfast, at which meal he consumed rather more food than for
many weeks past, the feeling of depression took possession of him
once more, and it was not until the sermon was nearly finished that
a possible explanation came to him. The explanation held just six
letters: H-a-y-n-e-s! His thoughts went back to a conversation held
long before in the coach’s room, especially to the closing words of
that conversation. “When the season’s over I’m going to give myself
the satisfaction of telling you just what I think of you!” “When the
season’s over I’ll be ready to hear it!” Stuart, remembering, squirmed
in his seat. The season was over and the time had come.

Stuart didn’t hear any more of the sermon, if he had heard any before.

When dinner was done and he and Neil were back in the room he mooned
restlessly around for awhile and then took up his cap. “I’m going out
for a bit,” he explained carelessly.

“Want me to come along?” asked Neil, looking up from the letter he was

“No, don’t bother,” answered Stuart hurriedly. “I won’t be long.
I――I’ll just mosey around. Maybe walk over to the village or somewhere.
Back soon.”

Neil nodded. “Better take an umbrella. It’s pouring now.”

But Stuart chose a raincoat instead and took himself off, leaving Neil
to gaze reflectively at the closed door and tap the end of his pen
thoughtfully against his teeth.

Stuart wasn’t sure that Mr. Haynes was in town. He might, for all he
knew, have hurried off home by this time. If he had done so, Stuart
would be a whole lot relieved. At least, that’s what he told himself,
only to retract it a minute later. He had something to say to the
coach, something that had to be said sooner or later, and it would be a
heap better to say it now and get it off his chest!

Mr. Haynes answered the door himself when Stuart had rung, Mr. Haynes
in a faded blue dressing gown and slippers, a section of a morning
paper in his hand. He didn’t seem at all surprised to find Stuart on
the threshold, a fact proved by his greeting. “Hello, Harven,” he said
cordially. “Come in. Throw your coat over the chair there. Rather a wet
day, isn’t it? I expected you’d be over.”

Stuart preceded his host into the dim study and took one of the two
chairs drawn close to the long windows. The little park before the
house was dismal and sodden to-day. Mr. Haynes plowed his way through
a litter of papers and sank into the opposite chair rescuing his pipe
from the ash tray and reaching for his pouch.

“The Courant has a pretty good story of the game,” he said as he
filled the bowl. “Have you read it?” Stuart nodded. “Gives you a lot
of credit, Harven, but no more than you deserve. The way you drove the
team in the first quarter was as nice a thing as I ever saw. I dare say
you’ve wondered why I didn’t put you back in the second half, Harven.”

“No, sir, I haven’t. You said it would be Wheaton.”

The coach nodded. “Yes, I said that, but after your showing――” He
paused and lighted his pipe. “I’m going to be honest. You ought to have
gone back, Harven. I believe now that if you had gone back we might
have won. I made a mistake. You see, Wheaton had worked mighty hard,
fairly sweated for us for weeks, and I thought he deserved his reward.
It doesn’t do, though, if you’re a coach, to let sentiment get at you.
I ought to have known better. Well, it’s too late now. Of course, we
might not have won, even if you had been in, but I shall always be
bothered by the possibility. We put up a good game, though, and in
several ways showed up better than Pearsall. For one thing, we were in
better condition. And we have more ground gained to our credit. On the
whole, Harven, we haven’t any cause to be sore over that game. We faced
a good team, a better team than I’d suspected, and if we didn’t outplay
them we came mighty close to doing it!”

“Yes, sir.” Stuart studied his hands a moment. Then, “When it comes to
placing the blame for losing――for not winning, though――” he went on,
“I guess I’ve got a good deal to do with that, Mr. Haynes. I guess if
I hadn’t acted crazy and made things harder for you and thrown up my
job――not that Jack wasn’t a mighty good captain, though: I don’t mean
that, sir! But if things had gone smoother at the first――――”

“I know, Harven. Between us we sort of botched the business, didn’t we?
It wasn’t altogether your fault. Knowing you as I do now, I see that
I was half to blame. I got a wrong impression of you when I took hold
here. My mistake was in not trying to make a friend of you first of
all. You didn’t give me much encouragement, but I should have tried.
You see, Harven, I’ve learned since then that you are hard to drive
but easily led. And you’re loyal. I tried to drive you. That was my
first mistake, and maybe my biggest. I should have set out to win your
friendship. I might not have succeeded, of course, but I should have

“I――I guess you would have,” muttered Stuart.

“Succeeded?” Mr. Haynes smiled. “Hang it, Harven, I almost believe I
could have! Anyway, I like to think so.”

“Just the same, there’s no reason for you to take any of the blame,
Mr. Haynes,” said Stuart. “I thought I knew it all, and I didn’t. The
fellows oughtn’t to have made me captain. I didn’t have the head for
it. That’s been proved twice over. I showed rotten judgment lots of
times. It was a good thing for the team that I was chucked.”

“You weren’t chucked,” said the coach earnestly. “No one――I, least of
all――wanted you to resign. That letter to you was badly conceived and
badly written. All any one wanted was to get things running smoothly,
but the Committee went about it the wrong way. When you offered your
resignation I protested against its acceptance. So did Wilson and
McColl. But the majority of the Committee were against us. The majority
had put themselves in a hole, and rather than crawl out they pulled
the hole in on top of ’em. I felt all along that if you and I could
pull together we could go a long way, Harven, but I didn’t know how to
manage you. Well, all that’s ancient history now. There were mistakes
made on both sides, mistakes that aren’t likely to be made again, I
guess. Because, Harven, you’ve got good sense and you’re fair, and
you know that I was right about the two things that caused the most
friction between us. I mean the abolishment of training table and the
injustice of barring Le Gette from the team because of something he had
done to offend you personally. I made plenty of mistakes, but on those
two things I was right. Isn’t that so?”

“Yes, sir,” answered Stuart honestly. “The fellows were in better shape
this year than they were last. There wasn’t any slump this year, and
last year there was. And about Le Gette, why, he――I found out just the
other day that he didn’t do what I thought he did.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” replied the coach heartily. “And even if he had,
Harven, I still would have been right in not sacrificing him to your
personal animosity. Don’t you agree with me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good! I’m not ‘rubbing it in,’ Harven. I’m not always right in my
premises and judgments, any more than any one else is, but I wanted
to know that you recognized that in those things I was right and that
you were fair enough and frank enough to say so. Because if it should
happen that we were to work together again next fall it would make
it easier for both of us. Perhaps I haven’t expressed myself very
clearly, but I guess you get what I’m driving at.”

“Yes, sir. But I don’t believe I’ll be playing next year.”

“What? Why not?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” answered Stuart vaguely.

“Well, I certainly hope you will. If I came back I’d surely need you.”

“But you _are_ coming, aren’t you, sir?” asked Stuart.

“I can’t say. You see, I was engaged for this season only. Although it
wasn’t set down in the contract, it was naturally understood that a
renewal of the contract depended on my success with the team this fall.
Well, I don’t know how the Committee on Athletics view the result. In
some ways we had a good season. We won five games, lost two and tied
one. We got through without injuries worth speaking of, although the
credit for that isn’t mine. If we had won yesterday’s game I might
fairly claim success. Between you and me, I still claim it. But the
Committee may not look at it as I do. Results are what count, Harven,
and there’s no getting around the fact that we didn’t win our big

“Oh! But we didn’t lose it, either, sir. That ought to mean something,
I’d say. Besides, I guess all the fellows think that you did mighty
well. I do, anyway. I thought, of course, you were coming back.”

“Perhaps I shall,” replied the coach, smiling.

“Not that you’d care much, I suppose,” added Stuart. “I guess you
wouldn’t have much trouble finding a job!”

“Perhaps not, but it doesn’t do a coach any good to change too often.
I’ve been at it four seasons and this is my third place. That doesn’t
sound very well, does it? I was at Erskine College the year after I
graduated and then I went to Fisherville and stayed two. I left there
because Manning offered me more money, and I needed it. I don’t expect
to spend my life as a football coach, Harven, but while I’m at it I
want to do the best I can. I’ve got a sort of a law practice back home,
but it’s only the start of one, and I can’t afford to depend on it yet.
You see, there’s a family at home, too, and they have to live.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you were married, sir!”

“I’m not. The family consists of my mother and two sisters, unmarried.
One of my sisters looks after the office while I’m away, but there
isn’t much to do, unfortunately. My town’s a smallish one and there
are two lawyers already established there. It’s slow work to build a
practice, Harven, in a place like that.”

“I should think it would be,” mused Stuart. “I think I’d rather coach
football than be a lawyer, anyway.”

“It doesn’t lead very far, though. I hope that I’ll be in a position to
drop it after another two years. Meanwhile, I’d rather stay here than
look for a new place. Next year ought to see a whale of a team here.
Look at the material we’ll have: you and Hanson and Thurston and Burns
and Tasker――no end of good players. Why, we can start with practically
a veteran team! And we’ve laid a good foundation this fall, Harven:
we’ve got a system at work. Whoever has the job of coaching next fall
will have a cinch!”

“You bet! We’ve got some corking second-string fellows, too, Mr.
Haynes: Lowe and Leonard and――and Thompson――”

“And Irmo. He has the making of a fine center. And we’d be pretty well
fixed for guards with Beeman and Le Gette. Le Gette played a fine game
yesterday. And if it hadn’t been for his field goal we’d have lost. I
want you to know, Harven, that I certainly appreciate the work you did
with Le Gette. I don’t believe another chap on the squad could have
taught him what you did in that short time.”

“He was a mighty good learner,” said Stuart warmly. “You simply
couldn’t tire him! Lots of times I’d want to quit and he’d keep me at
it. With Le Gette kicking field goals next year we’d ought to be pretty
well fixed.”

“Yes, but I’m hoping you’ll share that duty with him,” said the coach.

“Well, I don’t know,” murmured Stuart. “If you don’t come back――――”

He stopped suddenly and felt the blood creeping into his cheeks and, to
hide his hideous embarrassment, jumped to his feet.

“I must be getting back,” he said. “Neil will think I’m lost or――or

“Must you? Well, I’m glad you dropped in. Do it again before I go,
won’t you? I’m sticking around until the last of the week. Oh, by the
way,” he continued as they shook hands, “wasn’t there something you
wanted to say to me after the season was over?”

Stuart caught the kindly quizzical gleam in the other’s eyes and
grinned sheepishly.

“I――I guess I’ve said it,” he muttered.

                              CHAPTER XX

                      “FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM”

The football banquet and election was held the Saturday after the
Pearsall game, as was the established custom. Coach Haynes, urged to
remain for it, did so, and sat at the head of a long table in the
upstairs parlor of the village hotel, for the occasion transformed
into a banquet hall and hung with cherry-and-gray streamers and flags.
All players who had taken part in the Pearsall or Brown games were on
hand, as were Mr. Pierson, chairman of the Committee on Athletics, the
manager and Assistant manager and The Laird. In all, twenty-six persons
sat down to the feast, and good-fellowship and jollity held sway from
oysters to ices. Mr. Pierson spoke and Mr. Haynes spoke and――well,
about half of the number said their say before the feast was over. Even
The Laird was lifted to his feet and compelled to say something; and it
is only fair to add that The Laird, although slow at the start, did
extremely well once he had forgotten his embarrassment, and had the
whole company convulsed. And, of course, there was singing, a whole
lot of singing that, no matter if it wasn’t beyond criticism, sounded
mighty well down below on the sidewalk where, after the movie theater
had closed its doors, a half-hundred Manning fellows stood and waited
to learn the result of the election. There was a well-defined rumor to
the effect that the election was “fixed,” but rumors are not always
correct. In any case, the rumor produced no expressions of indignation.

It was nearly half-past ten when Mr. Pierson took his leave, pursued
down the stairs by the vocal assurance that he was a jolly good fellow.
Mr. Haynes, too, would have left then, but by unanimous――and extremely
loud――protest was induced to keep his place. The Laird always had
witnessed the elections and so he simply drew a chair to a window and
stuffed his pipe with evil-smelling tobacco. It was Jack who rapped for
order with the lid of a sugar bowl and announced that nominations for
the captaincy were in order.

Wally Towne and Harry Leonard found their feet simultaneously and,
although Leonard was both nearer and larger than the other, Jack
looked right past him and gravely said: “The Member from the Hospital
has the floor!”

“It gives me great pleasure,” announced Towne when the laughter had
subsided, “and――er――does me much honor to place before you the name of
one whose right to the captaincy of the team is incontestable. It would
be a waste of time for me to set forth this gentleman’s qualities,
because you all know them as well as I do. Fellows, I nominate Stuart

There was a din of clapping and cheers. Stuart, struck dumb by
surprise, stared incredulously at the speaker. Then he was on his
feet. “Fellows! Mr. Chairman!” But others were before him, several
others, and Jack, glancing mockingly at Stuart, recognized Tasker. Tom
Muirgart, at Stuart’s left, pulled him forcibly back into his chair.

“Shut up,” he said sternly. “You’re out of order!”

“But I don’t want――I won’t accept――――” stammered Stuart.

“Order!” called Jack, thumping vigorously with the sugar bowl lid. “Mr.
Tasker has the floor.”

“Mr. Chairman, and fellows,” began Howdy, “in seconding the nomination
of Harven I’d like to say a few words.”

“Go ahead, Howdy!”

“Who’s stopping you?”

“You tell ’em, Old Timer!”

“Towne says it would be wasting time to say anything about the nominee,
but I don’t agree with him. I’ll say there’s a lot to say about him.
I’ll say――――”

“Take a fresh hold, Howdy!”

“I’ll say――” Howdy gulped and started over. “Look what happened this
fall. We elected Harven captain and he got out. I don’t pretend to know
all the facts, but I do know that there were mistakes made. Whether
Harven made them or the Ath. Fac. or Coach Haynes doesn’t matter. Maybe
they all made ’em. Anyway, it’s all over and past now. But what I want
to say is this. There aren’t many of us would have acted better than
Stuart Harven did under the circumstances. He didn’t sit down and sulk.
He saw that he was needed on the team and he walked right back and――and
enlisted as a private! And he worked hard and he made good. Every
fellow who played during those first ten minutes of the Pearsall game
knows that he did. I haven’t got my breath yet! He mighty near drove us
off our feet, but we liked it and loved him for it and――and, by gosh,
we got there! If I never play football again I’ve had my money’s worth,
fellows! And if I play twenty years I’ll always remember that touchdown
and be proud that I had a hand in it! Now, I’ll say that a fellow who
can handle the team like that, and――and who is the sportsman that
Harven is, why, I’ll say――I’ll say――――”

But Tasker didn’t have to say any more, for the cheers drowned his
voice, and after moving his lips a moment longer he sat down. Half a
dozen others demanded recognition, among them the frantic Leonard, and
Billy Littlefield was the fortunate one.

“I’d like to say――if I can make myself heard――that I second the
nomination of Harven, and I move that we cut out the red tape and
declare him unanimously elected!”

“Seconded!” “Atta boy! Let’s call it a day!” “Harven!”

Jack rapped strenuously. “We’ll have to do this in order,” he
announced. “Are there any further nominations?” He looked inquiringly
at Leonard, but Leonard, into whose ear Leo Burns was talking
emphatically, made no move. Jack whanged the lid down. “We’ll proceed
to ballot,” he said gravely. “Gentlemen, is it your pleasure――――”

“Hold on!” That was Stuart. In spite of the efforts of Muirgart and
Thurston, beside him, he managed to get to his feet. “I’m――I――It’s
mighty good of you fellows, and I appreciate it, but I can’t accept. I
mean it. I’ll work hard next year and do all I know how, but you’ve got
to elect some other chap. I had my whack at being captain, and I made
a mess of it, and I’m through. Any one of you will do better than I
could. I nominate Howard Tasker. He――――”

“You’re out of order, Mr. Harven,” said Jack sternly. “The nominations
are closed!”

“All right, but――――”

Jack pounded vigorously, and Stuart, still protesting, was yanked back
into his chair.

“I move that a standing vote be taken, Mr. Chairman!” called
Littlefield. Several seconds were heard.

“Moved and seconded,” droned Jack, “um-um-those in favor-um-contrary
minded-um-um-carried! Are you ready for the vote? Those in favor of
the election of Stuart Harven to the captaincy will rise and remain
standing while――――”

Every one save Stuart was on his feet in the instant, cheering, and the
balance of Jack’s oration was lost. Even Coach Haynes found himself
standing, and, smiling apologetically, sat down again. Leonard, who
had entertained the mistaken idea of nominating Hanson, was shouting
as loud as any. Jack’s announcement of the result wasn’t heard beyond
the sugar bowl whose lid he was rapidly pounding out of shape. Tom
Muirgart, grinning, rumpled Stuart’s hair.

“You’re elected, son!” he chuckled. “Get up and make a speech!”

Stuart swallowed hard, grinned in a sickly fashion and shook his head.
“All right,” he muttered. “But――but it was a put-up job, Tom!”

“Sure it was!” roared Tom. “It was all fixed. Neil Orr warned us that
you’d refuse, and so we had to――――”

“Speech!” “Get up there, Cap!” “Speech, Harven!” “Shoot, son!”

Stuart arose, more embarrassed than he could remember ever having been
in his life. Comparative silence had been restored and two dozen faces
were fixed expectantly on him. But the faces all expressed liking and
good will and Stuart found courage.

“I meant what I said, fellows, but it didn’t seem to make much
difference. So――well, I accept.”

“You bet you do!” agreed Jack from the end of the board. “You’re

“All right, but――you’d have done a heap better if you’d selected some
one else. Just the same, I thank you, and――and I’ll do my best; and it
will be a better best than last time! I made a lot of mistakes, but I’m
not going to make them again. Next year things will go a heap better,
and if we don’t lick Pearsall to a stiff froth I――I’ll eat my hat!”

Enthusiastic applause greeted that prophecy. When he could make himself
heard again Stuart continued. “There’s something else I want to speak
about, fellows. We’ve just got to have Mr. Haynes back next year. You
don’t need me to tell you that. But I understand that the Committee on
Athletics may not be satisfied with his work because we didn’t lick
Pearsall. That’s poppycock. It wasn’t his fault. Every fellow here
knows that we had a far better team this fall than last. We were in
better physical shape and we knew more football. Now it seems to me
that it would be a mighty good plan to let the Ath. Fac. know how we
feel about Mr. Haynes, let them know that we want him back next year;
yes, and the year after that! I propose that we get up a petition and
sign it all around and hand it in. It ought to have some weight with
them, and as I understand that they are to make a decision the first of
next week, the sooner we do it the better. That’s all, I guess. Except
that I thank you fellows again for the honor you have done me.”

Stuart sat down again while the table cheered long and heartily.
Thurston sprang to his feet, but, seeing that Mr. Haynes was also
standing, seated himself again. “After you, Coach,” he said.

“Thank you,” replied Mr. Haynes. “I only want to say that I appreciate
Harven’s words. I feel very proud and, at the same time, rather humble.
How well I’ve succeeded this season is for you to judge, but I am
conscious of having tried hard, and, while I made mistakes, I have
learned by them. To know that I have retained your liking and that
you still have faith in me is――well, it makes me feel pretty good. I
congratulate you on the choice you have made, for, no matter what he
says, I know that Stuart Harven is the man for the job. We’ve had our
differences of opinion, he and I, but we’ve got over them. What he says
about another year I subscribe to heartily, fellows, and if he has to
eat his hat I’ll help him! I’ll be right on hand to do it because the
Committee on Athletics very kindly offered me a contract for two years
more this afternoon and I signed it!”

Pandemonium reigned supreme then. Billy Littlefield started “For he’s
a jolly good fellow” and every one joined. The beauty of that song is
that you don’t have to know many words and you can keep on singing it
as long as your voice will hold out. In the end, however, it changed to
the school song, and while that was still in progress some one started
downstairs and the others followed and, still singing, the party made
its way out to the sidewalk, where, the news announced, cheers drowned
the song.

A few minutes later Stuart found himself walking back to school with
Jack’s arm linked in his. Before and behind were others, laughing,
singing, sometimes cheering, but at the campus the throng separated
into smaller units and ultimately Stuart and Jack found themselves
alone in front of Lacey.

“Come on up for a minute,” urged Stuart.

“Pretty late, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but it doesn’t matter to-night. I shan’t get to sleep for hours,
and――I want to talk things over.”

So they made their way through the silent corridors to Number 12, to
find Neil still up and dressed, an expectant grin on his face. Stuart
shied his cap at him. “I’ll bet you had a hand in it,” he charged.
“That villainous grin gives you away, old son!”

“Not guilty!” Neil laughed. “I told every one you wouldn’t accept,
didn’t I, Jack?”

“You did, Neil, you certainly did,” assented Jack gravely.

Stuart grunted. “Huh, a lot of attention you fellows paid to him, I’ll

Jack grinned. “We certainly did. We stuffed the ballot box, old son. We
saw that it wouldn’t be any use to tender the captaincy to you, so we
stuffed it down your silly throat!”

Stuart’s pretended indignation faded to a smile as he sat himself on
the window seat and took one knee into his hands. Jack perched beside
him and Neil swung his chair around to face them after he had turned
down the light halfway. “Who started it, Jack?” asked Stuart.

“I don’t know, really. Nobody, I guess. That is, it seemed to be
sort of taken for granted all around that you were to have it. The
only――only conspiracy was to-night before dinner. Then we sort of
fixed to railroad the election through. You weren’t to have any chance
to refuse it, or, if you did kick up your heels, we weren’t to pay
any attention to you. Of course, everything was strictly according to

“Yes, it was!” jeered Stuart. “Suppose I didn’t see how you refused to
recognize Harry Leonard?”

“Well,” said Jack, “Leonard was only delaying traffic. He had a fool
notion that Tom Hanson wanted the election.”

“Didn’t he?”

“Who, Tom? I don’t believe so. Anyhow, he hadn’t a chance, and it was
an act of simple kindness to keep him from making a show of himself.
Besides, I did give Leonard a chance to speak his little piece, and he
wouldn’t.” Jack grinned. “That was after I’d seen Leo talking to him.
Maybe Leo showed him the futility of――er――his course.”

Stuart grunted again, and Neil said wistfully: “I wish I’d been there!”

After a moment’s silence in the dim room Stuart said thoughtfully:
“Well, there wasn’t anything to do but accept, but――but I don’t see yet
why they did it. After the failure I made of it this time, and all!”

“They did it for just one thing, Stuart,” replied Jack earnestly.
Stuart looked the question. “They did it for the good of the team.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The talk died away and each of the three boys sat there in the
half-darkness and thought his own thoughts. Stuart’s excitement had
given place to a feeling of contentment and well-being and good will.
His thoughts passed over his school life, and, while he saw very
clearly the many mistakes he had made, he was not disturbed. Wasn’t
it Mr. Moffit who had said that one learned by mistakes? Well, he had
learned, he told himself, and whatever the mistakes of the future might
be, they’d not be the old ones. Thinking forward, he made many good
resolutions, most of which, it is only fair to say, he kept. A yawn
from Jack broke the long silence.

“I was almost asleep,” he said. “You night owls can stay up if you
like, but I’m going to bed.”

“Don’t break up the party,” begged Stuart plaintively. “Say, I wish you
were going to be here next year, Jack. I’ll miss you, you old coot.”

“Thanks; same to you. I guess, though, you’ll be much too busy to
miss any one, old son. You’ll have a football team to look after,
and, speaking from brief experience, I’ll say that’s a man-sized job!
Stuart, if you don’t beat Pearsall next year I’ll come back and lick

“You’re permitted to come back and _try_!”

“Huh! Well, just you see that I don’t have to. Here’s Neil to look
after, too. Don’t forget that. That’ll keep you busy, you know; he’s
always getting into trouble.”

Stuart failed to note the twinkle in Jack’s eyes. He looked across at
his roommate and nodded gravely.

“That’s so,” he assented. “Some one’s got to look after old Neil.”

                                THE END

 Transcriber’s Notes:

 ――Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 ――Printer’s, punctuation, and spelling inaccuracies were silently

 ――Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 ――Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.


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