Ralph Barbour.

Quarter-Back Bates

Then Babe Upton twanged a banjo and improvised the verses of a song whose refrain ran:

Up and down and all around, thats the way we find em!
Two for five and three for ten, and heres a string to bind em!

Dick thought Babes faculty for making rhymes quite marvelous until he noticed that he used only three or four in the course of a dozen verses. Before he had finished, half of those present had been sung about. The verses werent remarkable for sense of rhythm, but they always won laughter and applause. Cheever came in for the following:

Heres big Jim Cheever, looking fine.
He always does when hes out to dine.
You couldnt keep Jim away to-night,
For hes right there with his appetite!

And even Dick didnt escape, for Babe turned his grinning face toward the couch and twanged the strings and sang:

A fellow named Bates is here to-night
And his face it is an awful sight!
Maybe he fell against the wall,
But Ill bet he didnt get it a-playing football!

Up and down and all around, thats the way we find em!
Two for five and three for ten, and heres a string to bind em!

Jerry Wendell gave imitations, one of Mr. Addicks, the Greek and Latin instructor, being especially clever. Wendell leaned over the back of a chair and drew his face into long lines. Young gentlemen, he began in a slow, precise and kindly voice, the trees are budding this beautiful morning and the little birds are chirping to one another and theres a feeling of spring in the air. You may have noticed it, young gentlemen? As Juvenal so poetically phrases it, Sic transit gloria mundi, Veluti in speculum Sunday. Are there any amongst you this bright morning who know who Juvenal was? Is there one? No, I feared as much. Warden, would it inconvenience you to open your eyes and give me your attention? Ah, I thank you. Yes, young gentlemen, spring is upon us. Especially is it upon you. I have but to gaze on your rapt, intelligent countenances, your bright and eager faces, to realize how thoroughly you are imbued with the Spirit of the Spring. If Townsend will drag his legs out of the aisle I thank you. Spring is a wonderful season, young gentlemen, a beautiful season, the vernal equinox, as a poet has so well phrased it. The Greeks, as you doubtless recall, celebrated the coming of spring with appropriate observances. And yet it may be that the fact has escaped many of you. A pity, a great pity! Suppose, therefore, that you refresh your memories on the subject and be prepared tomorrow to tell me in what way the Greeks welcomed the advent of spring. And we will have tomorrow what the spring has prevented us from having today, and also the next two pages. Young gentlemen, the class is dismissed. Will some one of you kindly awaken Peters as you pass out?

Then the host flicked away the cloth from the table and there was an outburst of applause for what lay revealed.

Sandwiches of many sorts, potted delectations, cakes and pastries, biscuits and cheese and much ginger ale. After that came a half-hour of earnest endeavour on the part of each and every one to ruin digestion, with Bob maintaining a sharp and yet lenient watch on the football fellows, to whom pastry was taboo. Bobs soiree ended in a final burst of song that brought an apologetic warning from a proctor. Afterwards Dick and Stanley walked across to Sohmer humming the tune of Babes absurd jingle, Stanley breaking into words as they climbed the dormitory stairs:

Ive got a lot of math to do,
But I dont think I will; would you?
Im so full of cake and pie
Id rather just lie down and die!


That party in Captain Peters room has no bearing on the story save that it seemed to Dick to mark the beginning of a closer intimacy with the football crowd. He heard himself alluded to as Dick Bates, instead of Bates, and from that to Dick was a matter of only a few days. And there were other signs, too; as when, during practice on Wednesday, Kirkendall, relieved by Trask in the scrimmage, sank into the bench at Dicks side, gave his knee a mighty and somewhat painful thump, grinned and relapsed into silence. Had K spoken Dick wouldnt have thought so much of it. The fact that the big full-back considered words unnecessary meant so much more.

There were some mighty sessions of work that week, for Coach Driscoll was smoothing out the First Team attack, adding a new play now and then, shifting his players experimentally and drilling, drilling, drilling until Dick sometimes awoke at night with the cry of Signals! in his ears. He had his full share of quarter-back work with B Squad and worked as hard and intelligently as he knew how. Such work was different at Parkinson than at Leonardville High. At the latter place playing quarter meant developing individual ability first and letting team-work look after itself in a measure. Here at Parkinson one was ground and filed and fitted into the eleven much as a machine part is fitted into the assembled whole, and one was a unit of the team first and an individual last. At first Dick had been disappointed over a reality so different from his secret expectations. Although he had openly professed humility and had told the fellows at Leonardville that he might not count for much in a football way at a school as large as Parkinson, yet he had never greatly doubted that his advent would be a matter of importance to the school, nor that he would find the path to glory broad and easy. He had outlived the surprise and disappointment, however, and was ready to defend the Parkinson system with his last breath, a system that played no favourites and judged only by results.

Parkinson played the local high school the following Saturday. Warne was a hard-fighting but light team and the game was one-sided from the start. Dick, rather to his surprise, was trotted on in the middle of the second quarter, when Stone was slightly hurt in a flying tackle, and stayed in until the last period began. He ran the team well and handled several difficult punts in a clever manner, but he had no opportunity to distinguish himself, nor did he seek one. Overanxiety on one occasion led him into a wretched fumble under Warnes goal and once he got his signals so badly jumbled that Bob Peters had to come to his rescue. But the fumble led to no disaster and the mixed signals signified little.

Parkinson rolled up a total of thirty-three points in forty-eight minutes of playing time and managed to keep High School at bay until, in the final few moments, with a substitute line in, High School, having worked down to Parkinsons thirty-four on a forward-pass, dropped a really remarkable goal from about the forty yards. To be sure, there was a strong wind blowing almost straight with the ball, but even so the kick was as neat a one as had been seen on Parkinson Field that season and none begrudged the frantic delight that the visitors obtained from those three points. In fact, Parkinson applauded quite as heartily as did the High School rooters.

On Monday occurred a momentous event in Dicks estimation. He was taken to the training table.

Being taken to the training table perhaps did not signify so much in itself, for the table was in reality two tables, each holding from twelve to fourteen, and one might spend a football season at one of them without winning his letter in either of the two games that counted, Chancellor and Kenwood. But when one was snatched, so to say, from obscurity to the training table in the middle of the season one had a right to be a little elated and to cherish expectations. So, at least, Dick thought, and so Stanley declared.

Youre certain of playing part of the time in the Kenwood game, Dick, said Stanley. Stone is the only fellow youve got to be scared of, and he isnt going to last the game through. Cardin is no better than you are now and I miss my guess if you dont come faster the rest of the season than he does. And Prynes only so-so. As I figure it out, you and Cardin are just about tied for second choice quarter, and all youve got to do is work like the dickens to beat him.

Sounds easy the way you tell it, laughed Dick. For that matter, all Ive got to do is to work like the dickens to cop a scholarship!

Not at all. Copping a scholarship, as you so vulgarly phrase it, requires a certain amount of grey matter in the garret. Winning a position on a football team is merely a matter of physical effort. No brains are necessary, my son. Therefore, I back you against the field to get the quarter-back job!

Thank you for nothing! At least, it requires more brains to play football well then it does to jump over a lot of silly hurdles!

There speaks ignorance, retorted Stanley in a superior and pitying tone. There are just three fairly decent hurdlers in this school, Dickie, and there are at least half a hundred fairly decent football players. Q.E.D.

Q.E. rot! said Dick. Anyone with skinny legs and a pair of spiked shoes can jump fences, you old swell-head! Besides, you dont jump em half the time: you just knock em over and get tangled up in em. You track boys are a lot of nuts, anyway.

Before you say something that Ill have to resent, Dick, I will change the subject for your sake.

Ha! grunted Dick derisively. Thats what everyone does when the argument goes against them. Say, whats Sandy Halden doing with you fellows, Stan?

He was trying to be a half-miler last I knew, but I saw him over with the jumpers Friday. You and he made up yet?

I havent even seen him, except to pass him in Parkinson. I guess, by the way, Billy didnt report that little mix-up last week.

I knew he wouldnt. Billys all right: even if he did tell me this afternoon that I took-off like a steam-roller!

Hes very discerning, murmured Dick.

Stanley shied a whisk-broom at him, and in the subsequent fracas conversation languished.

Dick started at training table that evening and found himself assigned to a seat at the substitutes board between Pryne and Bartlett, a second-string guard. At the other table Coach Driscoll presided, with Captain Bob facing him at the farther end. At Dicks table Stearns Whipple, the manager, occupied the head. No one paid any special attention to the newcomer as he took his seat, although several smiled in a friendly way and Pryne seemed glad to see him. Fellows had a way of appearing suddenly at that table and disappearing suddenly as well, and so a new face occasioned little interest. Stanley had cheerfully, almost gleefully, predicted that Dick would starve to death at training table, and consequently Dick was somewhat relieved to find the danger apparently very remote. There was less to choose from, and certain things that Dick was fond of, such as pie and frosted cake, were noticeably absent, but there was plenty of food nevertheless. To make up for the pastry, there was ice-cream three times a week instead of once, with a single rather dry lady-finger tucked under the saucer. Steak and chops and underdone beef and lamb formed the basis of the meals, and with those viands went a rather limited variety of vegetables. Eggs were served at breakfast in lightly cooked condition and milk was the regular three-times-a-day beverage to the exclusion of coffee and tea.

It was on Thursday that Dick returned from a hard practice to find a letter from his father awaiting him. Mr. Bates wrote regularly each week, usually on Sunday, so that his letter arrived at school Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. The present epistle was an extra one and Dick opened it with some curiosity. When he had read it through he was alternately smiling and frowning. It wasnt long, but it was emphatic.

Dear Dick:

Every time I take up the Sentinel these days I find a piece about you in it. How you did something or other in a football game and how proud the town is of you. What I want to know is, do you do anything at that school but play football. Im getting right-down tired of reading about you. I sent you there to study and learn things and get a good education and not to play football and get your name in the papers all the time like a prize-fighter. You buckle down and attend to your work for a spell, thats my advice to you. If I keep on seeing where youve made a home run or whatever it is Im going to yank you out of there plaguey quick. Folks keep asking me have I seen where you did so and so and aint I proud of you, and I tell them No, I aint a blame bit proud, because I didnt send you to school to play games, but to make a man of yourself. I hope you are well, as I am at the present writing.

Your aff. father,
Henry L. Bates.

Dick read that letter to Stanley and Stanley chuckled a good deal over it. Of course he is proud of you, just the same, Dick, he said. But I dare say theres something to be said for his point of view. Youll have to convince him that youre doing a bit of studying now and then on the side, eh?

I suppose so. But he ought to know that if I wasnt keeping my end up in class Id be hiking home mighty quick! Maybe I ought to work harder, Stan, and let football alone, but, gee, a fellows got to do something besides study!

Cant you persuade the editor of that home paper of yours to let up on you for awhile? How do you do it, anyway? Nobody in my home ever sees my doings in print. Got a drag with the editor, or what?

Its the High School Argus, responded Dick a trifle sheepishly. The fellows that run it got The Leader here to exchange with them and they print everything about me they see in The Leader. Of course that isnt much: just the accounts of the games: but the Argus fellows work it up and then the Sentinel copies it. I I wish they wouldnt.

Do you? Stanley grinned wickedly. Yes, you do! Youre tickled to death! So would I be, Dickie. Tell you what: you sit down and write a nice letter to your dad and tell him the facts and make him understand that playing football doesnt incapacitate you for occasional attention to studies. Or you might write a little piece about how you stood highest in your class last month, and how teacher gave you a big red apple for it, and send it to the town paper. That would please your dad, wouldnt it? And how about mentioning that youve made the Banjo and Mandolin Club? Think that would help any?

You go to the dickens, grumbled Dick. The trouble is, dads easy-going as you like until he gets his back up. Then you cant argue with him at all. He will do just as he says he will unless I make him understand that Im working as well as playing. If, he added ruefully, he learned about the Banjo and Mandolin Club hed probably send me a ticket home!

But you played football when you were in high school, didnt you? And did track work? And was on the Glee Club, or whatever the fearful thing was called?

Yes, but I suppose I was sort of under dads eye and he knew that I was getting along all right in school. Being away off here, he sort of thinks Im being purely ornamental!

I dont see how he could think you ornamental, said Stanley soothingly. Hasnt he ever seen you?

Its all well enough for you to joke, replied Dick, grinning half-heartedly, but you dont know my dad.

Tell you what! Let me write and tell him what a whale you are in class room. After hed read what Id written hed send you a letter of apology, Dickie! I can see it now. My dear son, can you forgive me for my unjust and unworthy doubts? Your er your estimable companion, Mr. Gard, has written me the truth and I see now how terribly I misjudged you. It makes me extremely happy to know to know that you have Mr. Gard as a friend. He is, as I discern, a young gentleman of great er mental attainment and

Oh, shut up! laughed Dick. Youd joke at a funeral!

Not at my own, anyway! Well, cheer up, old top, and hope for the worst. Then youll get the best. If your father refuses to finance you Ill take up a collection and your loving friends will see you through; at least, to the end of the football season! And Stanley chuckled enjoyably.

Of course Dick answered that letter immediately and spent the better part of an hour and much ink trying to convince his father that in spite of the evidence he was doing his full duty. Perhaps he had secret qualms even as he wrote, though, for it is a fact that from that day forth he managed another hour of study, by hook or by crook, and perceptibly improved his standing in various classes. And finding time for more study was less easy than it sounds, for the day following his appearance at training table found him accepted by coach and players as the second-choice quarter-back, and if he had thought he knew what hard work in practice meant he now saw his mistake. For he was added to the select coterie who remained on the field three or four afternoons a week after the others had been dismissed and who were drilled in punting and catching until their legs ached and they saw a dozen footballs where there was but one.

Guy Stones attitude toward Dick was peculiar, or so Dick thought. He appeared to miss no opportunity to chat with him and was very friendly, but afterwards, thinking Stones conversation over, Dick invariably found that the first-string quarter had seemingly sought to instill self-doubting and discouragement in his possible substitute. One short conversation will do as an illustration.

I see you take the snap-back almost facing centre, said Stone when they were on their way to the gymnasium after a hard practice. Think you can work faster that way?

No, but I feel surer of the pass, answered Dick. Do you think I ought to stand more sidewise?

Stone looked doubtful. I dont know. Of course, Dick, if you face your backs more you dont have to turn so far when you continue the pass. Its well to have the ball travel from centre to runner on as straight a line as possible, you know. If you take it so, and then have to turn like this before you shoot it at the runner, youre losing time, arent you?

Why, yes, but only a fraction of a second, Id say. I do it that way because I can see the ball better from the time centre starts the pass until its in my hands. When I turn I just slip my right foot around a few inches and swing on my left. But if its better to stand sidewise to the line

Oh, Im not suggesting that you change now, protested Stone. Its always dangerous to change your style of doing a thing as late in the season as this. If youd started earlier but then you may be right about it. Youre the doctor, Dick. If you can do it better the way you are doing it, I say keep on. Of course, in a real game youll probably find sometime that your back isnt where you expect him and therell be a mix-up, because when youre excited you do funny things. Take Gaines, now. He has a great way of trying to beat the ball and goes loping away from position before youre ready to toss to him. That means he has to slow up or lose the pass. If you stand so you can see your backs as the ball comes to you you know how to act. Of course, when the pass is to the back direct, mistakes like that cant happen often, but Driscoll doesnt fancy the direct pass much.

Then you dont think my way is correct and you dont think I ought to change it, said Dick, puzzled. Mr. Driscoll has never said anything about it being wrong.

My dear fellow, Im not saying its wrong, either, am I? I think theres a natural way for everyone to do a thing, and thats your natural way. And I guess it wouldnt be wise to try to change now. All I do say is that youre likely to wish you had changed it some old day. But I wouldnt worry about it. I dare say youll muddle through all right.

When Dick mentioned the talk to Stanley the latter laughed.

Forget it, Dick, he said. Stones worried for fear you may beat him out for the place. Havent you any gumption!

Beat him! Dick exclaimed. Thats likely, I dont think!

Well, convince him that it isnt likely, and youll find that he will stop talking that way. Cant you understand that if he can get you worried enough youll fall off in your playing? He isnt afraid of Cardin, evidently, but he is of you.

Do you think so? asked Dick thoughtfully. Maybe thats it, then. Just the same, there isnt a chance that Ill beat him. I do think Im doing better work than Cardin, but Stone has it all over me.

Now, yes, but maybe he thinks youll keep on coming. How does Cardin take it, by the way?

Cardin? Oh, he doesnt seem to mind. Hes an awfully nice chap, Cardin.

Yes, he is. But dont fool yourself into thinking he doesnt care, Dick. Its just hes too decent to let you see it. Hes a good loser; and there arent many of that sort. I hope, whatever happens, hell get his letter.

Oh, so do I! agreed Dick earnestly. I do like Cardin!

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