Edward Stratemeyer.

Dave Porter's Return to School. Winning the Medal of Honor



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"No stories just now!" cried Dave. "I want to know who did this?"

"I saw some burdock burs yesterday," said Polly Vane. "Little Sammy Bilderman had them."

"Yes, and he gave them to Nat Poole," declared Chip Macklin. "I saw him do it."

"That explains it!" cried Dave.

"Explains what?" asked several of the others.

"Why Poole and Plum didn't show themselves while the racket was going on in Haskers's room. They came in here and fixed us up."

"It must be so," said Phil, "for I know my bed was all right before."

Dave leaped noiselessly to the door and threw it open. Nobody was outside, but he heard a door at a distance close softly.

"Somebody was out there. He just ran off," he declared.

"Come on," said Roger, and tiptoed his way into the semi-dark hall, followed by Dave and Phil. They made their way to the door of the dormitory in which Poole and Plum belonged. They heard a rustle and the faint creaking of two beds.

"We've found them all right," whispered the senator's son. "The question is, what shall we do in return?"

"Wait," advised Dave. "We've had enough for one night. Let us get to bed."

The others were willing, and so they returned to their own room. The burs were cleared away, and in a few minutes more all of the lads were in the land of dreams.

In the morning, on entering the classroom, the students found Job Haskers heavy-eyed and in anything but a pleasant humor. He called one class after another to order in a sharp, jerky voice, and gave the pupils demerit marks upon the slightest provocation. As a result Dave, Phil, and eight other students suffered in their general average.

"How I wish Dr. Clay would get rid of him," sighed Phil.

"And get another teacher like Mr. Dale to take his place," said Dave. All the boys loved Andrew Dale, who was as pleasant as he was capable.

It was not until two days later that Roger met Bob Lapham. The farm boy said his father had heard nothing more of the burglars and the stolen silverware, and had come to the conclusion that little could be done in the matter.

"It is too bad," said the senator's son. "I do hope he gets his stuff back some day."

Although Dave was out for fun and sport, it must not be thought that he neglected his studies. As my old readers know, he was a youth who put his whole heart and soul into whatever he was doing, and this applied to his lessons as well as to everything else. In the past he had kept close to the top of his class, and he was resolved to retain that position or do still better.

"I came to learn something," he said, more than once. "I am not going to neglect my lessons, no matter what is in the air."

"But you'll join our football team, won't you?" asked the senator's son, who was looked upon as the leader in that sport by nearly all the old football players.

"I will if you want me to, Roger. But you know I am not an extra good player.

Baseball is my game, not football."

"But we want you to play the position you took last year, when you made that victorious run."

"Very well. What of the other fellows?"

"Ben will be quarter-back as before, and Phil a half-back, and Sam right tackle. I haven't made up my mind about the others yet, although I think I'll try Shadow for center and Buster for guard."

"What do you think of the team Gus Plum has organized?"

"Well, to tell the truth, Dave, I think some of his fellows play pretty good football," answered Roger, in a low voice, so that no outsider might hear him.

"Just what I think. Henshaw is a dandy quarter-back, and Babcock makes a good, heavy tackle. We ought to have them on our team – if we are to play Rockville."

"Well, I would ask them to join us, only if I do that, Plum will say I am trying to steal his men from him."

The next morning came a surprise. Roger received a challenge from the Arrows to play a game of football the very next Saturday afternoon. Nat Poole delivered the paper, and his face had a superior smile on it as he did so.

"Why, Poole, we are not in trim to play yet," said Roger. "We need more practice."

"Afraid to play us, eh?" sneered the aristocratic youth. "I thought so."

"I am not afraid. Make it three weeks from now and I'll accept."

"No, you must play this week or not at all. If you won't play we'll challenge the Rockville fellows."

With this declaration Nat Poole hurried away, leaving the senator's son much worried. As Roger had said, his team needed practice. They were all good players individually, but team work is what counts in a modern game of football. He went to consult his friends.

"We can't do it," said Sam, shaking his head. "Why, some of us scarcely know the new rules yet, much less our signals."

"We need at least two weeks of good, snappy practice," put in another of the players. "None of us are hard enough yet."

"This is a plan to get us into a hole," declared Dave. "If we back out Plum will challenge the Rockville boys and make out that his eleven is the representative one from this school. It's just like one of his dirty tricks."

The boys talked the matter over a good hour, and finally a vote was taken.

"I say play," declared Dave. "Let us practise all we possibly can. If we are beaten we can immediately send a challenge for another game on the Saturday following."

So it was at last decided, although Roger, Phil, and Sam were still doubtful. They declared it was taking a big risk and that if they lost they would never hear the end of it.

In the meantime Gus Plum was laughing in his sleeve, as the popular saying goes, feeling certain that Roger's eleven would not accept the challenge. Three of the players who had formerly played on the team of the senator's son had left Oak Hall, and that meant the substitution of green hands from whom it was not known what to expect.

"They'll crawl out of it," declared Nat Poole, as he and the bully of the Hall and a student named Jasniff talked it over. Jasniff was a newcomer at Oak Hall, a fellow with a squint in one eye and a manner that few of the boys cared to tolerate, although, strange to say, it pleased Plum and Poole. Jasniff smoked, and played pool when he got the chance, and so did they, and, in addition, the new student was fond of drinking and horse races, – a poor sort of a companion for any youth who wanted to make a man of himself.

"You've got them dead to rights," said Nick Jasniff. "They'll crawl, see if they don't."

"I'll give them until Thursday to accept," said Gus Plum. "If they don't, I'll send a challenge to Rockville on Friday."

"Will Rockville play us?" asked Poole. "They may put up some sort of a kick."

"I'll let them know how matters stand," answered the bully of the Hall, with a suggestive wink. "If Morr's crowd won't play us, then we are the representative team of the Hall, aren't we?"

As the bully ceased speaking, Dave and Roger walked up to the three other boys.

"Here's our answer to that challenge, Plum," said the senator's son, and held out a paper.

"I presume you decline to play us," sneered the bully, as he took the note.

"On the contrary we take pleasure in accepting the challenge," said Dave.

CHAPTER VIII
THE RIVALS OF OAK HALL

For the moment after Dave made his announcement there was a dead silence. The faces of Gus Plum and his associates showed their disappointment.

"Going to play us, eh?" said the bully, slowly.

"You'll be beaten out of your boots," said Nat Poole, with a sneer.

"That remains to be seen," answered Roger. "We accept the challenge and we are here to arrange all the details of the game."

A talk lasting nearly a quarter of an hour followed, in which they went over such details as seemed necessary. Plainly Plum was ill at ease. He wanted to chose an umpire, referee, and linesmen from outside of Oak Hall, but the senator's son would not consent to this.

"I am satisfied to have Mr. Dale for umpire," he said. "And three of our head students can act as referee and linesmen." And so at last it was decided, but not without a great deal of grumbling.

"You won't win this time, Porter," remarked Nick Jasniff, as Dave and Roger were leaving. "After this game you'll never be heard of again in this school."

"'He laughs best who laughs last,'" quoted Dave, and walked away, arm in arm with Roger. Jasniff stared after him and so did Plum and Poole.

"They really mean to play after all," muttered Poole. "I was dead sure they'd decline."

"You never can tell what Porter will do," growled Gus Plum. "I'll wager he got Morr to accept."

"Well, we've got to wax 'em good and hard," remarked Nick Jasniff. "And we ought to be able to do that easily enough – with Henshaw and Babcock on our side. Those two fellows play as if they belonged to some college eleven."

"Yes, I hope great things from Henshaw and Babcock," answered the bully of Oak Hall.

When Roger and Dave returned to the members of their own eleven they were asked how Plum and his crowd had taken the acceptance of the challenge. Then the coming game was discussed from every possible point of view.

"Do you know, I'd almost rather beat Plum than some outside team," remarked Phil. "He deserves to be taken down."

"I don't like Nick Jasniff at all," said Dave, slowly. "In one way I think he is a worse fellow than either Plum or Poole."

"He has a bad eye," said Sam. "It's an eye I don't trust."

"Which puts me in mind of a story," added Shadow. "Now don't stop me, for this is brand-new – "

"Warranted?" queried Dave.

"Yes, warranted. Two Irishmen and a Dutchman got into an argument and when they separated all three were in bad humor. The next day one of the Irishmen met the other Irishman. 'Sure, Pat,' says he. 'I don't loike that Dootchmon at all, at all.' 'Nayther do I,' answered the other Irishman. 'He has a bad eye, so he has,' went on the first Irishman. 'That's roight, he has – an' I gave him that same this very marnin'!' says the other Irishman."

"Three cheers for the new joke!" cried Roger, and a general laugh arose.

"Well, I suppose all we can do is to start practice and keep it up until the day for the match comes," said Dave, after the laughter had subsided.

"That's it," answered the senator's son. "We'll do what we can this very afternoon."

The boys went to their classroom with their heads full of the coming football contest. Roger had already made up his eleven, largely from the material of the season previous. But the boys who had gone from Oak Hall left weak spots in the line which it was next to impossible to fill.

Then came another set-back, which made Dave and the others gloomy enough, and caused Gus Plum and his associates to smile grimly to themselves. Instead of remaining clear, a cold, dismal rain set in that very afternoon and kept up for two days. To practise on the football field was out of the question, and all Roger's eleven could do was to exercise in the gymnasium. Here there was always some one of Plum's crowd to look on and see whatever was being tried in the way of a trick or a new movement.

"I hope it rains Saturday, too," grumbled Phil. "We won't be able to make any kind of a showing at this rate."

"It will be just our luck to have good weather Saturday," sighed Shadow.

Even Dave was disheartened, but he did not show it. Instead he did all the practising he could in the gymnasium and helped Roger whip the eleven into shape. As he had said, he did not care for football as much as baseball, but he was resolved to do his best.

On Saturday morning all the boys were up early, to see what sort of weather they were going to have. The sun was under a cloud, but by nine o'clock it cleared up and a fine, warm wind from the south sprang up.

"That settles it, we have got to play," said Buster Beggs.

"Let us go out and practise as soon as we can," said the senator's son, and called the eleven without delay.

Of course the match had been talked over throughout the school and even outside. As a consequence, when the time came to play, a goodly crowd had assembled on the football field. There was cheering for both sides and the waving of a good many Oak Hall banners. In the small stand that had been put up sat Dr. Clay and about twenty visitors.

"I don't see anything of Henshaw and Babcock," said Dave, looking over the field. "They must be going to play."

"There they are, over in the corner, talking to Plum and Poole," answered Roger, pointing with his hand.

"They must be planning some new move," said Phil. "We'll have to watch out for them."

Presently Babcock, a fine, sturdy player, came forward, followed by Henshaw. Both were frowning, and when Babcock said something to his companion Henshaw nodded vigorously. Plum and Poole came behind, and neither appeared particularly happy.

The game was to be played under the rules of that year, with two halves of thirty minutes each. When it came to the practice Roger's team did what it could. The players were full of energy, but the team work was not at all what it might have been.

"Want to tune up!" sang out one looker-on, to Roger. "Get together!"

"We are trying to," answered the senator's son.

Plum's eleven did much better in practice, working in perfect harmony. Only Poole made fumbles, for which the bully of the Hall upbraided him roundly.

"Oh, don't howl at me," growled Poole. "I am doing as well as you are."

At length the game was called and the two elevens lined up. They were pretty well matched, although Henshaw and Babcock stood out above the others.

"Wish that pair were on our side," sighed Roger. "Each of them has weight, wind, and cleverness – just the things a good football player ought to possess."

There was no time to say more. The toss-up gave Plum's eleven the ball and a few minutes later it was put into play and sent twenty yards into our friends' territory. Then came a scrimmage and the leather went back and forth rapidly. The play was ragged, for neither side had as yet settled down to hard work. There was no brilliant play, and when the ball was carried over the line by Henshaw the applause was rather tame.

"An easy touchdown!"

"Now make it a goal."

This was not so easy, for the wind had freshened. The ball sailed outside of the posts, so that the Arrows received but five points.

Again the ball was put into play and now the work on both sides became more earnest. Several of Gus Plum's players became rough and Plum himself tried to "spike" Dave with his shoe. Dave gave the bully a shove that sent him headlong.

"A foul! Time!" was the cry.

"He tried to spike me!" cried Dave, hotly.

"I didn't!" roared the bully.

"He did – I saw it!" put in Roger.

"Have you spikes in your shoes?" demanded the umpire.

"No," muttered Gus Plum, but his face grew red.

The umpire made him show the bottoms of his shoes. Each had a small spike in it – something quite contrary to the rules, as all football players know.

"Change your shoes at once, or get out of the game," was the decision rendered, and Gus Plum ran off the field with a redder face than ever.

The first half of the game closed with the score 12 to 0 in favor of Gus Plum's eleven. A safety for Roger's team had been made by Dave, who saw it was the only thing to do when crowded by Babcock, Henshaw, and two others. The second touchdown made by the Arrows came through Babcock aided by several others.

"We could whip them if it wasn't for Babcock and Henshaw," said Luke Watson. "Those two chaps are dandy players and no mistake."

During the intermission it was seen that Gus Plum was having another lively interview with Babcock and Henshaw. But the two expert players would not listen to the bully of Oak Hall.

"Something is wrong in their camp, that's certain," was Phil's comment.

"Look here, if you say anything, I'll put you off the team!" cried Gus Plum, to Babcock and Henshaw, so loudly that many standing around could hear him.

"All right, put me off if you wish," answered Babcock sharply.

"I'll never play with you again anyway!" added Henshaw. "I've done my best to-day, but this ends it, if I never play again as long as I stay at Oak Hall."

"You're out of it, both of you!" roared Gus Plum, in a sudden rage. "Dawson, take Henshaw's place, and Potter, you take Babcock's place. I'll show you that I can run a team to suit myself."

"Very well," said Babcock, and turning on his heel he left the field. Henshaw, without saying a word, followed his friend.

All who witnessed the scene were curious to know what it meant, but none of the other Arrow players would explain. Soon it was time for the second half of the game. Two of Roger's players had been slightly hurt, and their places were filled by two substitutes, which weakened the eleven still more.

"Henshaw and Babcock are out of it!" cried Phil, to Roger and Dave.

"That gives us a better chance to win," said the senator's son.

"If it isn't too late," returned Sam Day; "12 to 0 is a pretty hard lead to overcome."

"We'll do our best," said Dave. "Let every man go in for all he is worth!"

The play was fast and furious from the very start, and inside of two minutes Roger's players had the leather close to the Arrows' goal line. But then Nick Jasniff with extreme roughness hurled Sam Day to the ground. Jasniff was off-side at the time and his movements were consequently contrary to the rules.

"You may retire from the field," said the referee, after he and the umpire had talked the matter over.

Poor Sam was in bad shape when picked up and carried from the field, but fortunately he recovered inside of an hour. In the meantime another player was put in his place and another in the place of Jasniff and the game went on.

CHAPTER IX
THE END OF THE GAME

"A touchdown for the Morr team!"

"That's the way to do it!"

"Now make it a goal!"

The leather had been carried over the line after hard work. Without delay it was placed in position for the kick and went sailing directly between the two posts.

"That's the talk!"

"Now go and make another!"

There were still eighteen minutes in which to play. The goal made Roger, Dave, and the others enthusiastic, and they "sailed in" as never before. On the other hand, the loss of Babcock, Henshaw, and Jasniff cast a gloom over Gus Plum's eleven and the bully could do little to rally them.

"It was a mistake to fire Babcock and Henshaw," said one of the tackles. "They were our best players."

"That's right," added the center rush.

"Do you mean to say they can play better than I and Nat?" demanded Gus Plum.

"They can play just as well," grumbled the tackle.

"Rot! Come on ahead and wax 'em!"

But the call to "wax" Roger's team was of small avail. With Babcock and Henshaw gone the Arrows could do little or nothing, and soon Dave kicked a goal from the field. Then came another touchdown, another goal from the field, and two more touchdowns. Each of the touchdowns resulted in goal kicks. The Arrows were in despair and could do absolutely nothing.

"Pile it on!" cried Roger, enthusiastically. "Pile it on, boys!" And they did pile it on, until the whistle blew and the game was over.

Final score – Plum's eleven 12, Roger Morr's eleven 45!

It was a terrible defeat for the bully of Oak Hall and he could scarcely wait for the game to come to an end. He fairly ran for the gymnasium when it was over and did his best to keep out of sight for the rest of the day and all day Sunday, and Nat Poole went with him.

The cheering for Roger and his eleven was great, and all the players came in for their full share of glory. Dave had done some remarkably clever work, for which his friends shook his hand and congratulated him.

"Well, you gave Gus Plum's crowd all that was coming to them," said one of the students to Dave. "I don't think he'll ever organize another football eleven in this academy."

What this student said was practically true. During the following week the Arrows held several stormy sessions and the upshot was that the eleven disbanded. Nearly all the players were angry because Gus Plum had put Henshaw and Babcock out of the game, for to this they attributed their defeat. It leaked out that Plum had wanted the two players to play some rough trick on Roger's eleven, and both Babcock and Henshaw had declined, stating that it was against the rules and unsportsmanlike. This had angered the bully, and hence the quarrel and separation.

"I want to play fairly and squarely or not at all," said Babcock, and Henshaw said practically the same thing. Gus Plum denied the report, but nobody believed him.

During the following week Dave was taking a walk along the river bank when he heard loud talking close at hand. Looking through the bushes he saw Sam Day and Nick Jasniff.

"You had no business to jump on me as you did at the game," Sam was saying. "It was outrageous."

"Oh, stop your yowling," grumbled Jasniff. "It wasn't done on purpose."

"It was done on purpose, Nick Jasniff, and I think you were a brute to do it."

Sam had scarcely uttered the latter words when Nick Jasniff, who carried a heavy stick in his hand, leaped forward and struck out. The stick landed on Sam's head and he went down in a heap.

"Don't!" he groaned. "Don't hit me again!"

"Won't I, though!" cried Nick Jasniff, in a passion. "I'd like to know what's to hinder me?" And he raised the stick again.



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