Ralph Barbour.

Left Half Harmon





No, if I hadnt got in the way, like a blamed idiot, hed have got it all right, he insisted. You see, I thought he was coming over here and so I stepped over there like this and he came the other way and I tried to side-step him and

It doesnt matter a bit, Harmon assured them, smiling quite cheerfully now. Therell be another train pretty soon.

Thats so! Evidently the idea hadnt occurred to Bob before and he welcomed it with enthusiasm. Sure, theres a train about six oclock, fellows!

Well, thats nearly two hours, said Joe. Lets put our bags inside and find some seats. No use standing up all that time.

Oh, but you chaps neednt wait around, declared Harmon. I wouldnt think of having you do that!

The three looked at each other inquiringly. Then: Cant let you wait around here all alone, said Joe decidedly; not after making you lose your train like that. Bob, you and Martin go on up and take my bag with you, and Ill stay here.

Why not all go up? asked Martin. Harmons got nearly two hours to wait. He might as well come along and be comfortable.

Thats the ticket! exclaimed Bob. Leave your bag here and ride up to school with us, Harmon. Well show you around a bit and then well go up to my room or Joes and rest until about a quarter of an hour before your train goes. And Ill ride back with you!

Harmon hesitated. Thats very nice of you, he said warmly, but I wouldnt want to miss another one. Maybe Id better just sit in the station and

Youd die of the heat down here in this hole, said Joe. Come on! Well find out when the train is due, leave your bag with the agent and beat it.

Harmon allowed himself to be persuaded. After all, it was decidedly warm there at the station, and an hour and fifty-one minutes which was what the agent made it would be a long time to wait. And Joe insisted on waiting with him, too, and that was the strongest argument presented, for Joe and his friends had treated him mighty nicely and Harmon felt that it would be a pretty low piece of business to make any of them suffer. So off they all went presently in one of the tumble-down, creaky carriages that still competed with the few taxi-cabs at Alton, and Harmon proved himself a thoroughly good sport by appearing to forget the regrettable incident and displaying much interest in the town and, finally, the school.

The others pointed out all points of interest on the way: the Congregational Church that had the tallest steeple in New England none of them could remember the exact figures, however the Town Hall and Library, the rival motion picture theaters, the Common with the statue of Nathan Hale in the center at least Bob and Martin thought it was Nathan Hale and Joe was stoutly of the opinion that it was Lafayette the ornate residence of Altons richest and most influential citizen, a brownstone monstrosity almost entirely surrounded by conservatories from which a very few sun-baked ferns and palms peered forth, and so on to the school entrance on Academy Street.

On the left, proclaimed Bob from the front seat, forming a megaphone of his hands, the modest dwelling is the Principals residence.

Behind it you can see it now is Haylow Hall. Next on the right you see Lykes, especially interesting as the home of Mr. Robert Newhall, one of Altons most prominent undergraduates. In the center of the row is Academy Hall. Directly back of it, if you look quick, you will discern Lawrence Hall. Lawrence is the most popular of all the buildings. It contains the dining hall. Further to the right is Upton, and then Borden. Behind Borden is the Carey Gymnasium. The building by itself at the further end of the Green is Memorial Hall. We are now entering the school grounds. Let me draw your attention to the German howitzer on the left, and, on the right, one of our own 25s. Both guns saw service in the World War and were presented to the school

Oh, dry up, Bob! protested Joe. Harmon will think youre an idiot.

Reckon he thinks so already, responded Bob sadly, after the way I acted at the station. Jimmy, you can dump us at Lykes.

The driver of the vehicle nodded silently and turned to the left in front of Academy Hall, from the steps of which a group of boys shouted greetings, boisterous and even ribald, to the occupants of the carriage. Harmon found himself wishing that he had been included in that jovial and noisy welcome. This was his first sight of a preparatory school and he liked what he saw and hoped that Kenly would prove as attractive. Alton Academy occupied a tract of ground on the edge of the town apparently two blocks square. From the wide, well-shaded street the Green rose at a gentle grade to the row of brick and limestone buildings that fronted it, a smooth expanse of fine turf intersected by gravel roads and paths and shaded here and there by giant elms. There was no fence nor wall and from a little distance the Green seemed to run, right and left, into the flower-filled yards of the houses across the side streets. There was something very dignified, very lovely about the place, and the visitors heart warmed to it. He wanted to ask if Kenly was like this, but incipient loyalty to the school of his choice restrained him. Then the carriage pulled up at a dormitory building and everyone piled out. There was a squabble between Joe and Martin over who was to pay, Martin harking back to a similar occasion last spring when he had paid the bill and Joes memory failing him utterly. Harmon made a motion toward his pocket, but Bob edged him toward the steps.

Leave it to them, he chuckled. Mart always pays in the end.

This statement was speedily proved true and Joe and Bob conducted Harmon along the first floor corridor to the end of the building and there opened a door and ushered him into a cool, shadowy study. Martin had gone on to Haylow to dispose of his bag, but, before Harmon had got well settled in a comfortable chair where the faint afternoon breeze reached him from one of the windows, he was back.

They sat there awhile and talked. Once Joe and Bob absented themselves on some casual excuse that took them out of the room, and once Martin and Joe were gone for several minutes, but always one of the number was left to entertain the visitor. Harmon liked the study and the small alcove-bedroom that led from it and was much interested in the pictures and trophies that adorned the walls and the tops of the chiffoniers. Joe explained that his roommate, Don Harris, had not arrived and would probably not get there until the next morning. Harris came from Ohio and faculty allowed those who lived at a distance a days grace.

I suppose you have to be at Kenly tonight, dont you, Harmon? he asked.

I believe so. I understand that school begins in the morning. What time is it getting to be? I dont want to miss that next train.

Oh, theres an hour and twenty minutes yet, said Bob. Howd you like to take a look around? It doesnt seem quite so warm now.

The visitor was agreeable to the suggestion and the quartette set forth. They went first to Lawrence Hall and saw the big dining-room that accommodated four hundred. The forty-odd tables were already draped in white and set for supper, and, with the afternoon sunlight slanting through the high windows, the silent hall looked very pleasant. They climbed the stairs to the visitors gallery and then descended other stairs and looked into the big kitchen through the oval windows in the swinging doors. Then came the athletic field, where several of the tennis courts were already in use, and Harmon heard tales of hard-fought battles on gridiron and diamond and track, battles that were invariably won by Alton. He wanted to ask if Kenly had never scored a victory there, but he refrained.

They poked their heads into Upton and Borden Halls, the latter dormitory reserved for the freshman students, and then crossed to the gymnasium. Harmon could honestly and unaffectedly praise that, for it was just about the last cry in buildings of its kind. He looked longingly at the big swimming pool with its clear green water showing the white tiled floor below, and Bob regretted that there wasnt time for a swim. Then came Memorial Hall, where the sunlight shone through the many-hued windows and cast wonderful designs of red and blue and gold and green on the marble tablets across the silent nave. The library was here, a book-lined, galleried hall whose arched ceiling was upheld by dark oak beams. Two great tables, each on a deep-crimson rug, stood at either end, and many comfortable chairs surrounded them. There was a stone fireplace with monstrous andirons, and the school seal above it. Facing the corridor door, a clock, set in the gallery railing, ticked loudly in the silence. Upstairs was the Auditorium on one side of the corridor, a large, many-windowed hall with a platform at one end, while, across from it, were four recitation rooms.

Outside again, they followed a path that took them under the shade of the elms back to Academy Hall. There was not much time left now, and after viewing the school offices from a respectful distance and peering into some of the classrooms on the first and second floors, Joe decided that their guest had better be thinking of getting back to the station. You mustnt go, though, without seeing the view from the cupola, he added. Theres plenty of time for that.

Harmon looked doubtfully at his watch, but Joe was already leading the way toward a narrow flight of stairs at the end of the second-floor corridor and Bob had an urging grip on his shoulder.

Thats right, agreed Martin. Everyone ought to see the view from the cupola. It its one of the sights! Perhaps he meant to add further persuasion, but a fit of coughing overtook him. Bob, over Harmons head, scowled ferociously back at him.

The stairway ended at a closed door and the procession halted while Joe shot back a heavy iron bolt and drew the portal outward. Then he stepped politely aside and the visitor entered a small apartment some eight feet square. It was quite bare and lighted by four tiny panes set one in each wall and just under the ceiling. Harmons gaze went questing for the stairs or ladder by which he was to reach the cupola, but there was nothing of that sort in sight. Indeed, there was no egress save by the door through which he had entered! He was on the point of calling polite attention to the fact when a sound behind him brought him quickly about. The sound had been made by the door as it closed, and while he stared, open-mouthed, a second sound reached him, and this time it was made by the bolt sliding harshly into place!

CHAPTER III
HELD BY THE ENEMY

A long moment of deep silence followed.

Harmon stared bewilderedly at the closed door. Of course, it was some sort of a silly joke, but it seemed so peculiarly at variance with all that had gone before that he couldnt understand. Wondering, he waited for the door to reopen. Instead, however, came the voice of Joe Myers, subdued by the intervening portal but recognizable and distinct.

Harmon, can you hear me?

Yes!

Thats good. Now listen. Its too late to make that train, old man, and there isnt another until about nine oclock. That would get you to Lakeville pretty late and faculty wouldnt like it, I guess. Whats the use of starting the term with a black eye, eh? No sense in getting in wrong right at the start, is there? Its a sort of a handicap to a fellow

Theres plenty of time to get the train if youll open that door, replied Harmon impatiently. Whats the big idea, anyway? If its a joke its a mighty poor one, Myers!

It isnt a joke, came the answer. You see, its like this. We hate to see a nice, decent chap like you spoiling his whole er his whole future career by making a mistake, Harmon. And you will make a mistake if you go to Kenly. Why, you say yourself that youre not certain of making the team over there! What sort of a school is it, I ask you, where a fellow of your your caliber has to get out and dig for a place on the eleven? Now, here youre sure of it. All youll have to do will be just put your name down at the office. Of course we dont know what arrangement Kenly has agreed to make, and maybe we cant promise all they have. You see, faculty heres sort of sort of strait-laced. But Ill promise you this much, anyhow, Harmon: Your first quarter wont cost you a cent. Well see to that. All you need is to

I havent the slightest idea what youre talking about! protested the prisoner. Open that door and let me out, or or

Now dont get peevish, please! begged Joe. Honest, were doing this for your own good, Harmon. Just think a minute and youll see it. Were offering you a quarters tuition and the full-back position on the team. If Kenly can do any better, why, all Ive got to say is that theyre a lot of low-down cheats, after the way they talk over there!

But Im not going to Kenly to play football! exploded Harmon. I dont care if I never play! Im going to to learn!

Sure! Well, thats another reason why you ought to stay here. Everyone knows that Altons a better school for learning things than Kenly. You dont have to take my word for that, either. Its universally accepted. Why, gosh-ding-it, weve got a bigger faculty and a better one than Kenly ever thought of having! And weve got better buildings and a better plant generally! Why, say, you can learn more here in a month than you could learn at Kenly in a year!

Are you fellows crazy? demanded Harmon. Let me out or Ill kick the door down!

You cant do that, replied Joe equably. Its two inches thick. And no one will hear you, no matter how much row you make, for there wont be anyone on the next floor until tomorrow morning. So you might just as well get rid of that idea, old man. We need you right here at Alton, and we mean to have you. And youll be mighty glad some day that we did this. Of course, right now youre feeling a bit peeved with us, but youll get over that when you calm down and think things over. Maybe youd like to consider awhile. Theres no hurry. How about it?

There was no reply for a long moment. Then Harmon said in quite a placid voice: Will you please tell me again what youre getting at? Maybe Im kind of dense, but its all hodgepodge to me!

Sure! Here it is in a nutshell. We need you on the team

What team? asked Harmon patiently.

Why, the football team, man! We need you a heap more than Kenly does, and were willing to do anything in reason to get you. Maybe you wont mind telling us what Kenly has offered you.

For what?

Why, for well, for going there.

Kenly hasnt offered me anything. Why should she? Im entering like anyone else.

There was a silence. Then Joes voice came again, somewhat more chilly. All right. Its your affair. If you dont want to tell, you neednt, but we wouldnt ever speak of it. I suppose you mean that we havent offered enough. Well, Ill have a talk with some of the fellows and see what they say. You understand, Harmon, that whatever we do we do without faculty getting wise. And, of course, whatever money we managed to raise would come out of a few pockets, because lots of fellows wouldnt approve, and lots of em havent got the money. For that matter, I dont altogether approve myself! If it was almost anyone else Id tell him to go to thunder! Still, if Kenly can do this sort of thing and get away with it

Would you very much mind listening to me a minute? begged the boy on the other side of the door. Kenly isnt paying me money for going there. She hasnt offered to and I wouldnt take it in any case. Is that plain?

Y-yes, replied Joe, but

Then why not stay here instead? asked Bob eagerly. Youre sure of making the team and it wont cost you a cent for tuition the first quarter! Weve got everything Kenly has and a lot she hasnt. Besides, its a heap nicer playing on a winning team than on a losing one, and were going to lick Kenly this fall as sure as shooting!

That trains gone, hasnt it? asked Harmon quietly.

Just leaving the station, answered Joe in relieved tones.

Then you might as well let me out of here.

That means youve decided to stay?

No, it doesnt. I havent any idea of staying. But

You think it over, advised Joe. Well be back in half an hour or so. What have you got against Alton, anyway?

Nothing against the place, answered Harmon, but a lot against the crazy idiots in it! Open the door and stop acting the fool!

There was a low-voiced conference outside and then Joe announced: Well let you think it over awhile, old man. Theres no use getting mad about it. Were doing this for your sake as much as for our own, and youd ought to see that. That offer still holds good, remember. Maybe Ill be able to better it when I come back. Ill see

Look here, you you crazy loon! Do you mean that youre going around telling the fellows that youve got me locked up here?

Well, Ive got to tell them something, havent I? I cant say

Dont say anything! I dont want your money! I wouldnt stay here if you paid me a thousand dollars a week!

You mean that? asked Joe dubiously.

Of course I mean it! Now let me out!

Well, leaving money out of it altogether, Harmon, and all on the level: Whats the matter with going to school here instead of over there?

Why should I? asked Harmon exasperatedly. I started for Kenly and thats where Im going. You can keep me here all night and all tomorrow and all

But thats not reasonable, protested Joe mildly. Here were giving you a chance to

Reasonable! Ha! Do you call what youre doing reasonable?

It may not look so, but it sure is! Hang it, man, were trying to save you from making a perfectly rotten mistake! Look here, have you paid your first quarter over there?

I have not, but thats got nothing to do with it.

Of course it has! returned Joe in triumph. You arent a student there until youve registered and paid your first quarter bill! All right! Just pay your money here, old man: the tuitions the same! What do you say?

No!

Well, Ive said all I can think of, replied Joe despondently. You think it over awhile, Harmon. Theres no hurry: you can register any time this evening before nine and tomorrow morning before twelve. Well be back after a bit. You sort of think it over, eh?

I dont need to think it over! I havent the least idea of doing anything so crazy! Come on and open the door now, and lets have an end to this this silly nonsense!

But there was no reply. Instead, there came to the captive the faint sounds of retreating footsteps. He listened suspiciously. Perhaps it was only a hoax, perhaps Myers was still outside. After a minute he called.

That doesnt fool me! he said. I know youre still there!

But there was no answer, and when another minute had gone by he realized that they had actually gone and left him there alone!

CHAPTER IV
HARMON COMES TO TERMS

The prisoner thrust his hands in his pockets and made a frowning survey of his cell. From the point of view of his captors it appeared an ideal apartment. There was but one door and that was firmly locked and plainly invulnerable. The windows were beyond reach and, in any case, too small to crawl through, and what had once been an opening admitting to the belfry above had been long since boarded up. He kicked tentatively at the door and might just as well have kicked at any other place in the four surrounding walls so far as results were concerned. There was no furniture, not even a chair. Listening, he heard nothing save, once, the distant shriek of a locomotive.

After a few minutes of hopeless inspection of the place, Harmon shrugged his shoulders and seated himself on the floor with his back to the wall and acted on Joe Myers advice to think it over. But thinking it over didnt enlighten him much. That his captors really meant business was evident, but why they had gone to so much trouble was a mystery. None of the reasons they had given seemed sufficient. That they had proceeded to such lengths merely to save him from the direful fate of becoming a Kenly fellow was too improbable. That they seriously wanted his services on the football team was just as unlikely: or, at least, it was unlikely that they would value those services highly enough to indulge in kidnapping as a means of securing them! No, there was something else, something that didnt appear. Perhaps Kenly had once enticed an Alton boy away and Alton was trying to get even. Or perhaps

There was a sound beyond the door and Harmon stopped conjecturing and listened. A voice came to him that was not Joe Myers.

I say, Harmon!

Hello! The prisoner tried to keep his tone hostile, but he wasnt altogether successful, for he was becoming tired of isolation and silence.

Joe sent me up to read something out of the school catalogue to you. Can you hear all right?





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