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VISITING VANDALS DEFACE PROPERTY
Saturdayís Football Game at Hillsport Commemorated by Smears of Paint
ďHillsport, Nov. 4: This town awoke on Sunday morning to find that some time during the preceding night vandals had been at work with paint and brush. In a number of conspicuous places the score of Saturdayís football game between Hillsport and Alton Academy was set forth in great black figures. To the youthful perpetrators of the outrage no place was sacred, for the ornamental brick wall about Principal Handleyís residence, adjoining the school campus, was one of the sites selected for the derisive inscription. On Parker Street, the stable belonging to Chief of Police Starbuck likewise tells the story of Alton Academyís football victory. Probably other instances of property defacement will be found, but these so far are the most glaring that have come to light. Indignation is widespread and both town and school authorities propose to use every effort to bring the guilty persons to justice. While complete evidence is still lacking, it is generally believed that certain of the visiting party of Alton Academy students, over-excited by an unusual and unlooked for triumph over the local school, remained behind on Saturday evening and celebrated the victory in this reprehensible fashion. Indeed, it has been already established that four or five Alton youths were seen about town as late as half-past six or seven that evening. Unfortunately for them, the miscreants left a clue which if followed will undoubtedly lead to their apprehension. This is now in the hands of Chief of Police Starbuck. We understand that Principal Handley is already in correspondence with the authorities at Alton Academy and that the wanton defacement of school property will not be allowed to pass unpunished.Ē
Willard handed the paper back in silence. Martin grinned. ďHave you anything to say before sentence is passed?Ē he asked sepulchrally.
ďSentence has been passed, so far as Iím concerned,Ē answered Willard. Martin stared. Then:
ďWhat do you mean?Ē he demanded anxiously.
ďI mean that Iíve just come from a fine moment with Doctor McPherson. That Principal over there, Handley or whatever his silly name is, has written to the Doctor, and sent that clue along, too.Ē
ďWow!Ē muttered Martin awedly. ďWha Ė what was the clue?Ē
ďAnd sweet dreams,Ē added Willard ironically.
ďWhat did he say?Ē asked Martin after a moment of painful thought. Willard shrugged.
ďHe said a lot! He wasnít so bad, though. Iíll have to say that for him. Iím on hall bounds until the faculty gets together and decides whether Iím to be boiled in oil or merely drawn and quartered. You fellows may get by all right, though. Iím the only one theyíre sure of so far. Why the dickens didnít someone say that that brick wall was the Principalís?Ē
ďHow were we to know?Ē demanded Martin.
ďWhy doesnít he live inside where he ought to? Say, we managed to pick a couple of fine spots, didnít we? It was a clever idea to paint up the side of the Chief of Policeís barn! Oh, we were a grand little bunch of nuts!Ē And Martin laughed mirthlessly.
ďYes,Ē agreed Willard, ďwe surely managed to do things up brown while we were doing!Ē
ďDidnít you tell ĎMací that you didnít have anything to do with it?Ē
ďThat would have been a fine song-and-dance!Ē jeered Willard. ďWhat if I didnít do any of the actual painting? I went along, didnít I? Besides, there was my handkerchief, all stuck up with black paint. He didnít waste any time asking me whether Iíd done it. All he wanted to know was who the others were.Ē
ďYou might as well have told him,Ē said Martin gloomily. ďHeíll find out quick enough.Ē
ďI donít think so,Ē answered Willard. ďNo one saw us come back, and short of taking the whole school over there and letting the restaurant folks pick you fellows out, I donít see how theyíre going to tell.Ē
Martin brightened. Then his face fell again. ďWeíll have to fess up, Brand. It wouldnít be fair to let you stand the whole racket.Ē
ďThatís a swell idea,Ē answered the other derisively. ďYou and Bob off the team would help a lot, wouldnít it?Ē
ďWe-ell Ė Ē Martin scowled in concentrated study of the problem. Then: ďLook here,Ē he said, ďa fellowís got to eat, anyway. Letís go to dinner. Afterwards weíll find Bob and Ė Ē
His remark was interrupted by a knock at the door followed by the entrance of Bob himself, a somewhat troubled looking Bob who, without noticing anything unusual in the looks of the roommates, plunged into speech. ďSay, fellows,Ē he announced, lowering himself into a chair and viewing them frowningly, ďIím not quite easy in my mind about that business the other night.Ē
ďReally?Ē asked Martin. ďHow strange!Ē
The sarcasm was lost, however. Bob shook his head and went on. ďNo, because I have a horrible suspicion that I tied that handkerchief to the handle of the paint can, Brand. And if I did theyíll find it, sure as shooting. I Ė I suppose it had your initials on it, eh?Ē
Willard shook his head. ďNo,Ē he answered gently.
ďHonest?Ē Bob perked up. ďThen it wonít matter if they do find it, will it? Gee, I was getting sort of worried! You see, I thought first Iíd given it back to you, Brand, and then I thought Iíd thrown it away, but Cal said last night that he sort of remembered feeling it around the handle and I sort of half remember putting it there. But if it didnít have any mark on it, we shouldnít worry.Ē
ďI didnít say that,Ē corrected Willard. ďI said it didnít have any initials, and it didnít. All it had was ĎHarmoní, in nice big letters.Ē
ďGreat Scott!Ē gasped Bob.
ďBy the way, you havenít cast your eye over the Darlington paper by any chance, have you?Ē drawled Martin.
ďNo. Is there anything in it?Ē asked Bob anxiously.
ďWhy, yes, you might say so. Like to look at it?Ē
Bob viewed the others with growing disquiet. ďWhatís the joke?Ē he demanded, scowling. ďWhat are you two fellows so blamed creepy about? Letís see that paper!Ē
Willard and Martin said nothing until Bob had finished the story. Then: ďLooks like we might have a bit oí weather,Ē drawled Martin.
Bob laid the paper down softly and grinned in sickly fashion.
ďIíll say so,Ē he answered.
By mid-afternoon the news was all over school and conjecture was rife. Alton took it as a fine joke and laughed and chuckled enjoyably. Hillsport had been paid back in her own coin, and painting the football score on Principal Handleyís sacred wall was considered a veritable master-stroke of genius! Decorating the premises of Hillsportís chief of police was also looked on approvingly, for, while it lacked the magnificence of the other effort, it nevertheless held a touch of daring that kindled youthful enthusiasm. Some of the seniors shook their heads and soberly predicted trouble, but others, knowing themselves innocent, were unconcerned with that feature of the affair. They wouldnít have to suffer, so why worry? Oddly enough, the identity of the heroes remained a mystery, although many fellows looked wise and pretended to be able to tell a lot if they would. To Bob and Martin and the others it seemed impossible that none should recall the fact that they had remained behind when the car that bore the football players had left the school. But things had been confused that afternoon and excitement had reigned, and if anyone did recall that significant fact none made mention of it. You may be certain that none of the four jogged the memories of any of the others!
Hall restrictions, or hall bounds in student phraseology, was ordinarily not a very severe infliction. You went to chapel, classes and meals as usual, but for the rest you stayed in your dormitory building and let the world wag along without you. You were allowed the freedom of the recreation room downstairs and you could, if the hall master saw fit to allow, visit other fellows in the building. So long as you were not engaged in athletic activities you didnít suffer greatly, although after a few days the r?gime began to seem decidedly monotonous. In Willardís case hall bounds was a real punishment since it meant no more football, and he had very dreary thoughts that Monday afternoon. As required, he had acquainted Manager Ross of his forced absence from the field, and Ross had scowled and scolded, and even stormed a little, but had not, apparently, connected the fact with the happening at Hillsport on Saturday night.
Willard didnít dare prophesy to himself what the outcome would be. He had a well-developed notion that fellows had been expelled from Alton School for misdemeanors no more heinous. In any case, he was quite certain that there would be no more football for him that fall, since even if, by a miracle, his punishment should be ultimately no worse than at present, a week or a fortnight of absence from practice would end his usefulness to the team. Coach Cade, he reflected grimly, wasnít going to hold the left half-back position open for him! There were moments when he felt somewhat aggrieved and when he told himself bitterly that it wasnít fair that he should be made the goat for the whole crowd. But second thought did away with all that. If he could keep the others out of it, he decided, he would do it ungrudgingly, even if it cost his dismissal. After all, the success of the football team was the big thing, and, although he couldnít help any longer with his playing, he could help a whole big lot by keeping his tongue still.
If Willard couldnít visit outside Haylow, there was nothing to prevent occupants of other dormitories visiting him, and after practice that afternoon four disturbed and perturbed youths sat in Number 16 and faced a puzzling situation. Martin was strong for confessing and making a public apology to Doctor Handley at Hillsport, in the hope that the Alton faculty would be lenient. He was decidedly obstinate in the matter, and it took much persuasion from Willard and Cal to alter his view. Bob was the least talkative of the four. He said he was perfectly willing to do whatever the others decided was best, but he offered no opinions. Bob blamed himself for the whole affair, from first to last, ignoring the fact that Cal had originated the scheme, and insisted that if it hadnít been for his carelessness it would never have been connected with Willard. Mea culpa was written large on Bobís countenance and Martinís repeated assertion that they were all tarred with the same brush Ė an allusion that made Cal wince, in view of the fact that his gray suit was costing him two and a half dollars for cleansing Ė had no effect on his melancholy.
In the end it was Willard whose words produced conviction. ďYou fellows make me tired,Ē he declared impatiently. ďWhatís the use of going all over it a dozen times? The whole thingís just this: If you fellows squeal on yourselves it isnít going to do me any good, so far as I can see, and itíll just about bust up the team. With the best right guard and left tackle out for the rest of the year, whatís going to happen? You know plaguey well they canít find fellows to fill your places in the little time thatís left. Weíd get licked good and hard, and thatís all there is to that. As for faculty being lenient, well, maybe they might be, but you can bet being lenient wonít let any of us play football! If weíd done something perfectly mean and putrid Iíd say fess up and take the medicine, but we havenít. We didnít any of us know that Doctor Thingumbob lived in that house. We were just playing a practical joke and the rest was simply tough luck. You fellows just keep your silly mouths shut and go on and play football and lick the hide off Kenly. Thatís all you need to do. Iíll take the punishment, whatever it is, and keep right on smiling. Thereís just one thing I wonít stand for, though.Ē Willard looked at Bob and Martin fiercely. ďIf I get canned and you fellows donít beat Kenly Iíll come back here and Iíll Ė Iíll mighty near kill you!Ē
ďOh, dry up,Ē muttered Bob. ďYou know blamed well weíll claw the wool off those guys, Brand! You donít have to talk that way.Ē
ďIt isnít right, though,Ē said Martin.
ďItís as right as anything we can do,Ē asserted Cal. ďWe havenít done anything criminal, even if faculty thinks we have. Brandís got the right dope, fellows. Thereís no use killing off the team just to Ė to salve our consciences. Look here, I donít play football. Iíll go in with Brand. Maybe Mac will be easier if thereís two of us.Ē
ďOh, donít play the silly goat,Ē begged Willard. ďWhat good would it do? Whereís the sense of two getting canned, maybe, instead of one? Stop chewing the rag, for the love of mud! And pull your face together, Bob, before it freezes that way. Gosh, anyone would think you were going to be hung! You fellows beat it out of here before someone suspects, and stop looking like the criminals you are!Ē
Willard carried the day.
During the next few days Doctor McPherson summoned various students before him and questioned them, but learned nothing new. The weekly faculty meeting was held Wednesday evening, and Thursday morning Willard found a buff envelope on the mail board in the lower corridor of Haylow. Inside was a request that he call on the Principal that afternoon at half-past four at his residence.
ďWould you pack up now or wait until afterwards?Ē asked Willard smilingly of Martin. Martin, however, refused to treat the matter so lightly, and growled and fumed at a great rate. At four-thirty Willard pushed the button beside Doctor McPhersonís front door and was ushered into a book-lined room on the right. The Doctor arose to meet him and shook hands, a ceremony dispensed with at the office. Then, when the visitor was seated, the Doctor picked up a typewritten sheet from the desk and handed it across.
ďRead that, please, Harmon, and tell me whether you wish to sign it,Ē he said.
It was a letter to Doctor Handley, at Hillsport School, apologizing very humbly and, at the same time, very gracefully for what had happened. It stressed the fact that the writer had not known that he was defacing school property and was offered ďon behalf of myself and my companions who participated in the regrettable act.Ē Willard read it through carefully and laid it back on the edge of the desk.
ďYes, sir,Ē he said, ďIíll be very glad to sign it.Ē
ďVery well. I am also writing to Doctor Handley and the two letters will go together.Ē The Doctor dipped a pen in ink and handed it to Willard and the latter placed his signature at the bottom of the sheet.
ďThank you.Ē The Doctor laid the sheet aside and faced the boy again. ďWe gave some thought and discussion to your case last night, Harmon, and, I am glad to tell you, decided to accept your version of the incident. That is, we reached the conclusion that your statement to the effect that you and your companions were not aware of the fact that you were defacing Doctor Handleyís property was true. While you have been with us but a short time, your hall master and your instructors spoke extremely well of you, and that weighed in your favor. It was decided that you are to go on probation for the balance of the term, a penalty which you will, I think, realize is far from extreme. Probation, as you doubtless know, requires a certain standing in class and exemplary conduct. It also denies you certain privileges, amongst them participation in athletics. I may add that as fast as your fellow culprits are discovered a like penalty will be awarded to each. I hope this will be a lesson to you, Harmon. There is a very distinct line between harmless fun and lawlessness, and I trust that hereafter you will recognize it.Ē
Willard returned to Haylow too relieved over his escape from the extreme penalty to let the matter of probation trouble him for the time. Martin, returning from practice shortly after, performed a dance of triumph and joy. ďThatís great, Brand!Ē he declared. ďI donít mind telling you now that I was fearing the worst. Of course, I didnít let you see it Ė What are you laughing at?Ē
ďWhy, you crazy chump, I could see all along that you thought I was going to get canned! Youíve been about as jolly as an undertaker!Ē
ďHonest? Well, Iíll tell you one thing you donít know, son, and that is that if they had canned you Iíd have gone along. I made up my mind to that!Ē
ďWhat good would that have done?Ē jeered Willard.
ďNever mind, thatís what would have happened,Ē replied Martin doggedly.
ďWell, donít be too care-free and light-hearted,Ē laughed the other. ďMac says that as fast as you chaps are found out youíll get the same medicine.Ē
ďHeís got to find us first,Ē chuckled Martin. ďIf he was going to do it heíd have done it before this.Ē
ďWell, I hope youíre right. How did practice go?Ē
ďFine! We scored three times on the second. Son, weíve got a real team this year!Ē
ďWho was at left half?Ē
ďMawson most of the time. Longstreth had a whack at it, too. Weíre going to miss you there, Brand.Ē
ďMuch obliged,Ē answered Willard dryly. ďI guess youíll worry along, though. Whatís it like to be on pro?Ē
Martinís face sobered as he shook his head. ďIíve never been there yet, and I hope I never shall, but I guess itís sort of fairly rotten!Ē
And so it proved to be. While Willard was no longer confined to the dormitory, he was not allowed to go on the field and was debarred from being outside the school property after six in the evening, and the latter restriction meant that the movies, unless he chose to attend in the afternoon, would know him no more until after Christmas Recess. The hardest feature of his punishment, however, was the required standing in all classes. Marks under 85 drew frowns of disapproval, and Willard reflected that the rule that kept him inside the grounds in the evenings was not such a bad one, for only by spending the evenings in diligent study could he hope to scrape through.
Being forbidden attendance at practice or games did not, however, prevent him from witnessing the game with New Falmouth High School on Saturday. He saw it, although at a distance and in a rather uncomfortable attitude, from Felix McNattís window in Upton. McNattís room, while not on the end of the building overlooking the field, was near the corner and, by opening a window and leaning well out Willard could see all of the gridiron save the stretch of it close to the nearer stand. Fortunately for his comfort, the day was only mildly cold. New Falmouth High was not a formidable antagonist and Alton had no difficulty in running up 34 points while the adversary was securing 7. Afterwards it was stated throughout the school that McNatt won that game single-handed, but that was an exaggeration. True it is, though, that the full-back carried the ball over for four of the five touchdowns and was largely instrumental in securing the fifth! Willard observed from his aery with mingled emotions that Mawson was far from effectual on attack, although he played a consistently good game on defense. Cochran, at right half, had an off-day, and Moncks, who took his place in the third quarter, was not much better. It seemed to Willard that the Gray-and-Gold deserved a larger score than she got, for she followed the ball closely, played hard and showed real end of the season form throughout. Two penalties in the last period undoubtedly saved the visitor from a worse drubbing. The visitorís touchdown was honestly earned in the first few minutes of play when Gil Tarverís forward-pass to Lake fell into the hands of the enemy and a blue-and-white-legged youth raced thirty-odd yards and fell across the goal-line. A nimble-footed quarter-back added another point.
The New Falmouth game passed into history and Alton faced the next to the last contest with confidence. Oak Grove Academy was always a worthy competitor, and this year was to meet Alton on Oak Grove ground, but the Gray-and-Gold had reached her stride and the only question that concerned her adherents was the size of the score and whether Oak Grove would be represented in it. Kenly had played a stiff game with Lorimer Saturday and had won it in the last five minutes, the final score being 16 to 13. Although the best Alton had been able to do against Lorimer was to play her to a 3 to 3 tie, the Gray-and-Gold nevertheless found encouragement in the Kenly-Lorimer game, arguing that Altonís present playing was fifty per cent better than it had been a fortnight ago, granting which a meeting between Alton and Kenly on Saturday would have found the former easily superior. Whether this reasoning was correct or not, certain it is that neither players nor adherents doubted Altonís ability to beat Oak Grove Academy in most decisive fashion at the end of the week. But this was before Mr. Kincaid, physics instructor, put two and two together and beheld a great light.
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