Quarter-Back Batesñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“I’m not saying there is. I’m only giving you an example of the way secrets get around. There are other ways in which that ‘two-over’ play might reach Kenwood. A newspaper writer might explain it in an account of a game, for instance. It isn’t safe to even write about such things in your letters home, Bates. I didn’t caution you or any of the players, for I supposed you’d realise that what goes on in practice is a secret and not to be spoken of off the field. When was this letter written?”
Dick thought hard a moment. “About two weeks ago, sir.”
“And it wasn’t sent. Why?”
“I hadn’t finished when it came time to go to a recitation and I slipped it in a book and couldn’t find it later. So I wrote another. And then, a couple of days afterward, I came across this one in the book and tore it up and threw it away.”
“Where did you throw it?”
“I don’t remember, sir. I think, though, I dropped it in one of the paper barrels on the Front; maybe the one at this side of Parkinson.”
“Anyone see you do it?”
“I suppose so. I guess there were fellows around.”
“Hm. Who do you know at Kenwood, Bates?”
“No one, sir.”
“Positive? I understand that you have corresponded with someone there quite regularly since you came here.”
“That’s not so, Mr. Driscoll. I’ve never written a letter to Kenwood Academy in my life and I don’t know anyone who goes there. I suppose what happened is that the piece of my letter and the piece of envelope happened to be found together. Who found them, sir?”
Mr. Driscoll shook his head. “I agreed not to bring him into it, Bates. There’s no reason why I should. He has, I guess, no wish to appear in the r?le of a spy. He found this evidence and handed it over to me as it was his duty to. I wish – ” He fell silent, frowning at the two scraps of paper. Then: “Are you a rapid writer, Bates?” he asked.
“Not very, I guess.”
The coach took a pad of paper from the desk beside him and a fountain pen from his pocket. “Suppose you write what I tell you to on that,” he said. Dick laid the pad on his knee and waited. “Ready? Write ‘Massachusetts Academy Kenwood,’ please.”
Dick wrote and the coach accepted the result and viewed it intently. Then he shook his head. “Your K and your A aren’t like the others, Bates, but there’s a certain similarity. Honestly, I don’t know what to think. I want to believe you, my boy, but this – this evidence is rather convincing. Look here, can you prove to my satisfaction that this letter was intended for this friend in Loganville and not meant for someone at Kenwood?”
“Leonardville, sir. I don’t know. I can get Sumner to write to you and say that I sent him a letter containing what you read there, although worded differently, probably, and some other letters like I’ve told you. Would that do?”
“It would certainly help. Hang it, Bates, you must see yourself that the thing looks bad!”
“Yes, sir, I guess it does,” agreed Dick dispiritedly.
“All I can say is that it was done thoughtlessly and that I’ve never had any correspondence with Kenwood. Why should I want to give away our plays to Kenwood, Mr. Driscoll?”
“I don’t know, Bates. You’ve worked hard and made good and I don’t believe you’re the sort of fellow that would do a dishonourable act. You have been careless and thoughtless, but I’d like mightily to believe that your account of it is right. If you’ll wire to this fellow White – ”
“Why, he’s coming here Saturday, sir! I just remembered! Would it do if we waited and – and talked to him?”
“Coming here? Of course it would! That’s fine! But how does it happen that he’s coming to Warne?”
Dick somewhat shamefacedly explained and the coach smiled at his embarrassment. “Well, it seems that you’re more of a hero than I suspected, Bates,” he said quite in his usual manner. “I had heard something about it, too, of late.” He added that with a twinkle, and Dick smiled ruefully.
“That was a beastly joke of Wallace Blashington’s sir. He – he heard somehow about – about this and thought he’d have some fun with me.”
“I see. Well, now, Bates, let’s see where we stand. You produce this White chap Saturday before the game and if he can put a quietus on this story I’ll be satisfied. No one has heard anything about this matter except – the fellow who found these pieces of paper and I. And no one will hear. I guess I’m pretty well convinced already, my boy! Now don’t let this bother you. It will come out all right, I’m sure. And if it does – as it’s going to – we’re going to need your best work the day after tomorrow. Come and see me Saturday, Bates, and – By the way, what time do you expect this Mr. White?”
“I think he will be in on that train that gets here at twelve-ten, sir.”
“Hm, rather late! But that can’t be helped. You switch him over here to me as soon as he arrives and we’ll nail this thing right away. That’s all, Bates. Sorry this had to come up, but as it has I’m glad we’re going to clear it up so nicely.” Mr. Driscoll offered his hand and Dick shook it and went out.
“Of all the crazy things to do!” marvelled Stanley when, at noon, Dick found him in the room and poured out the story to him. “Didn’t you know you weren’t supposed to give your plays away like that?”
“I guess I didn’t think,” said Dick humbly. “Besides, Leonardville is so far away – ”
“Well, no use talking about it now. Who do you suppose found the letter?”
“I don’t know. Most anyone might have. I dare say I tossed the whole thing at the barrel and this piece that Mr. Driscoll has fell outside.”
“Yes, that’s probably what happened. But where did the bit of envelope come from? I don’t believe that was any accident, Dick!”
“What do you mean?” demanded Dick warmly. “Do you think I lied – ”
“Hold your horses! What I mean is that – well, I don’t know just what I do mean, Dickie. But if anyone had found that piece of your letter and wanted to get you in wrong all he’d have had to do was – ”
“I thought of that, Stan, but there isn’t anyone who – ”
Dick stopped and frowned thoughtfully at his chum.
“Sure of that?” asked Stanley.
“You mean – ”
“Yes, how about Sandy? He has it in for you, hasn’t he?”
“Why, yes, I suppose he has. In fact, he’s got a good big mad on with me, Stan. I didn’t tell you, but I had a bit of an argument with him yesterday afternoon, down in front of the door. Do you think – ”
“What sort of an argument?” asked Stanley suspiciously.
So Dick told and Stanley snapped his fingers in triumph. “Why, it’s as plain as the nose on your face, Dick!” he exclaimed. “Either Sandy came across that piece of paper by accident or he saw you tear the letter up and pulled it out after you’d gone on. Then, yesterday, he fixed up that envelope to look as if it belonged with the letter! You didn’t ask Mr. Driscoll when he got them, did you? Well, I’ll wager it was last night after you’d thrown Sandy down or early this morning. It’s a mean thing to say, Dickie, but the thing’s just the sort of low-down plot that Sandy would take to. Shows ingenuity, too, and Sandy’s no fool if he is a villain! Why don’t you put it up to Driscoll straight! Tell him you know who supplied the incriminating evidence and tell him the whole yarn.”
“But I can’t prove anything, Stan.”
“What of it? You can show that Sandy has a grouch and Driscoll’s got sense enough to see that the whole thing’s a frame-up.”
“I might go to Sandy and make him tell the truth,” said Dick.
“How? He’d deny it, of course. Well, after all, it’s no great matter. Driscoll doesn’t believe it and when your Leonardville chum gets here he can clear the whole thing up. Best thing to do is forget it. It’s rather a sell on Sandy, though, for I guess he expected Driscoll would fire you off the team!”
“Somehow, I sort of think that’s what he meant to do when I first went in there.”
“You can bet he didn’t want to, Dick! He’d have done it, though, in a minute, if he hadn’t believed your story! Say, if I was you I’d take a crack at Sandy, just for luck, the first time I met him!”
But Dick didn’t do that. For one reason, he didn’t see Sandy that day or the next. He might have found him, but Dick concluded that his hold on the position of substitute quarter-back was uncertain enough at present without taking any chances! And so long as Sumner was coming to clear up the mystery he could afford to keep the peace.
That Thursday evening Dick and Stanley went over to Goss to call on Blash and Sid. It was raining great guns and an easterly gale was howling around the corner as they set forth and, in violation of a school ordinance, cut across over the turf and under the dripping branches of the bare lindens. Both Blash and Sid were home and hailed the arrival of visitors with loud acclaim. Blash pulled the “larder,” as he called it, from under the window-seat and produced sweet crackers and the remains of a pineapple cheese and Sid disappeared down the corridor and presently returned with three bottles of some sweetly sickish concoction called Raspberry Squash. It was a quarter of an hour later, after the last bit of cheese had disappeared that Dick, idly prospecting among a pile of magazines and papers – many of them moving picture monthlies – happened on something that brought an exclamation of surprise to his lips. The others, busy in talk, neither heard nor noted and Dick drew from concealment a copy of the Leonardville Sentinel, opened with the third page uppermost. “Leonardville is Proud of Him,” read Dick. He didn’t go on, for he remembered the rest of it perfectly. Instead, he laid the paper down and thoughtfully stared across at Blash, who was too enthralled in the conversation to heed. Dick kept silence for a good five minutes. Then, to the astonishment of the others, he broke in rudely and abruptly.
“How did you know about my brother Stuart, Blash?” he demanded.
“Eh? What’s that?” Blash looked across startledly, striving to accommodate his mind to the sudden change of subject.
“And where we lived?” pursued Dick.
“Oh! Well, what was it you asked?” Blash floundered badly, his gaze falling on the paper under Dick’s hand and a slow grin curving the corners of his mouth.
“I asked how you knew my brother’s name and where he lived,” explained Dick calmly; “and where we lived.”
Blash looked at Dick for an instant and then shrugged. “I didn’t, Dick,” he answered. “That part was supplied by the editor man, I suppose. All I did was to write a nice little press notice and mail it to the paper. I didn’t know whether they’d use it, but they did, and they sent me a copy of it. Honest, now, don’t you think journalism is my line? Dana or Bennett or any of those top-notchers got anything on me, Dick?”
Stanley was staring wide-eyed. “D-do you mean that you wrote that thing about Dick in the Leonardville paper?” he gasped.
“Most of it,” replied Blash modestly. “Of course, as I’m telling you, I couldn’t supply the – the intimate details.”
“Well, I’ll be jiggered!”
“Same here,” laughed Sid. “Blash, you’re as crazy a loon as they make!”
“Seems to me,” said Dick, “you’ve spent most of your time of late working practical jokes on me. After this I’ll never believe a thing until I’ve made sure you’re not at the bottom of it. Well, I wonder if you know that that tommyrot of yours here about my high school friends coming to see Saturday’s game started something.”
“Started something!” Blash asked eagerly. “No. What?”
“Five of the fellows read that drivel and decided to follow the suggestion. Blash, I hope you choke!”
Blash had gone off into a gale of laughter. Stanley and Sid grinned doubtfully, wanting to laugh, too, but fearful of wounding Dick’s feelings.
“O boy!” gasped Blash. “Dick, I guess we’re more than even! I’ve paid in full, eh?”
Dick smiled at last. “No, you still owe me some pennies.”
“Not a cent! You telephoned me that night at the movie house that I needn’t pay the last seven and a half cents: or, at least, ‘Uncle John’ did!”
“That’s so,” acknowledged Dick, laughing. “I’d forgotten.”
“When you get back,” said Stanley, “you can read what I wrote on the piece of paper one night. Remember?”
Dick nodded. “Better tell me now, though. I never could stand suspense.”
“I wrote ‘Blash will chisel a penny in two and send half as the last payment.’ Was I right, Blash?”
“Right as rain! Fact is, the two halves are in that top drawer over there this minute. But you’ll never get either of them, Dick. I’ve paid my debts!”
“You have,” agreed Dick heartily. “You’ve more than paid them, and I hope I’ll live long enough to hand you back the change!”
Friday was a hard day to live through. Excitement was in the very air and football tunes assailed one at every turn. For the players the day was a nervous period of suspense. Dick was heartily glad when recitations took his thoughts off the morrow. There was some punting and a light signal drill on the field in the afternoon, but it was all over by half-past four. A final black-board talk was held in the evening and after it most of the players went over to the final mass-meeting and sat on the stage and were wildly cheered. Everyone who could think of anything to say that evening said it: Mr. Morgan, Chairman of the Athletic Committee, Coach Driscoll, Captain Peters, Billy Goode, Manager Whipple and one or two lesser luminaries. And the musical clubs played and the Glee Club sang and everyone joined in, and enthusiasm held sway until late.
Saturday morning dawned brisk and fair, with a light westerly wind sweeping along the Front. Kenwood began to appear on the scene as early as half-past ten, and from that time on blue banners were almost as numerous as brown-and-white ones. The Kenwood team came at shortly after twelve and went at once to Alumni Hall for an early luncheon, heartily cheered on their way by friend and foe. On the train that brought the thirty husky warriors came also five persons whose affiliations were evidently with Parkinson, for each of the five wore a brown necktie, differing somewhat in shade, and two wore brown-and-white arm-bands. In the confusion existing in and about the Warne station they were not discovered by the reception committee of one for several minutes. Then Dick gave a yell, charged through the throng, grabbed Sumner White and spun him around.
“Sum! You old scoundrel! How are you?” Dick was surprised to discover how glad he was to see Sumner.
“Fine! Gee, Dick, you’ve grown an inch! Say, you needn’t have come to meet us. I told your – ” Sumner stopped, grinning. “See who’s here?”
“Hello, Charlie! Hello, Jim! Say, I’m awfully glad – ” Dick’s words stopped in his throat. Then: “Dad!” he gasped.
Mr. Bates laughed a trifle embarrassedly as he took Dick’s hand in both of his own. “Yes, it’s me, Dick. I – I thought I’d come along and keep these young fellows in order, you know. Well, how are you, son?”
“I’m great,” answered Dick, “but I’m so knocked in a heap – Think of you coming, dad! Gee, I’m glad to see you! How are you? Let’s get out of here where we can talk.” Dick took his father’s arm and piloted him out to the sidewalk. Taxicabs were not to be thought of, for the demand already exceeded the supply six to one, and so they set off along the street afoot, Dick talking and asking questions and all the others chiming in every minute. It wasn’t until they were crossing the campus, Dick pointing out the sights, that he remembered the appointment with Mr. Driscoll. Then he hurried them all to the room in Sohmer and left them in charge of Stanley while he and Sumner went on to the gymnasium. On the way Dick explained the situation to his companion, perhaps not very lucidly, and Sumner was still in a most confused condition of mind when he faced the coach. But it didn’t matter, for Mr. Driscoll’s questions were few and somewhat perfunctory after Dick had had his say about Sandy Halden. “I think, sir,” Dick ended, “that Halden didn’t find that piece of an envelope at all. I think he addressed it himself, copying my writing the best he could.”
“And I think you’re right,” agreed Mr. Driscoll. “I’ll have something to say to Halden after this game’s out of the way. He’s a dangerous fellow to have around.”
Five minutes later they were back in Number 14, in the midst of a merry din of talk and laughter. Dick couldn’t remain with them long, however, for luncheon for the players was at a quarter to one, or as soon as the Kenwood party vacated the dining hall, and so, giving the tickets he had obtained for them to Sumner, he hurried away. “Stan will look after you,” he shouted back from the door. “There’s a stand-up lunch in Alumni for visitors at one-thirty, or you can get real food in the village. Stan will take you over to the field in plenty of time and I’ll see you here after the game. So long, dad! So long, fellows!”
“Go to it, Dick!” cried Sumner. “Eat ’em up, old scout! We’ll be rooting for you!”
A sketchy luncheon in the dining hall, with no one eating much, not even the veterans like Bob Peters and Harry Warden, a flight by way of the service entrance to the gymnasium and the usual confusion of changing to playing togs and listening to final instructions at the same time. Then, at last, just before two o’clock, a heartening, quiet talk of a minute by the coach.
Kenwood was already at practice when Parkinson reached the field. The home stand arose and gave the “long cheer” and the base drummer of the Warne Silver Cornet Band thumped vigorously. Counter cheers mingled from across the field and then the visitors cheered for Parkinson, and Captain Bob led his men forth and a ten-minute warming-up followed, with three squads trotting up and down and the punters stretching their long legs down by the east goal. It was four minutes past two when the teams took their places and the din of cheering and singing subsided.
In seats half-way up the centre of the south stands Mr. Bates and Sumner White and the other three visitors from Leonardville watched intently. Sumner had just discovered that Dick was not in the Brown-and-White’s line-up and had proclaimed the fact disappointedly.
“What’s that mean?” asked Mr. Bates anxiously. “Isn’t he going to play, Sumner?”
“Oh, yes, sir,” replied Sumner, assuming more confidence than he felt. “You see, a quarter-back doesn’t often last a whole game. It’s a pretty hard job. So they generally put in one to start the game and then run the other fellow on later. I guess Dick will get in before the half’s over, Mr. Bates. I think I see him down there on the bench. Yes, there he is, sir.”
Mr. Bates had to have his son pointed out to him, and then a shrill whistle blew and Kenwood, having lost the toss, kicked the ball high and far into the sunlight.
For the first ten minutes of that game Parkinson and Kenwood tried each other out and neither team approached a score. Kenwood had what advantage lay in a mild westerly breeze and she punted often. But if she expected fumbles or misjudgments she was disappointed, for either Stone or Warden caught unfailingly and usually took the ball back over one or two white lines before being stopped. Just at first Mr. Bates, whose football education had been sadly neglected, thought the game much too rough and predicted broken legs and worse, but before that first quarter was at an end he was inured to the ungentle behaviour of the contestants and was following the varying fortunes of the game with grim lips and flashing eyes.
Parkinson made one first down and Kenwood two in the initial period, the second of the Blue’s successes coming just at the end when a back shot unexpectedly around Peters’ end and made all of seven yards before he was pulled to earth and enthusiastically sat on by most of the Parkinson team! Two attacks on Newhall and Wendell added the three more and the chain was trailed to a new position. But the Blue was still well away from the home team’s goal and shortly after the second quarter began she had to punt again.
Neither team appeared to be able to gain consistently through the opposing line, while neither team had shown thus far much ability to run the ends. It looked like a punting duel all the way, with the victory depending on a “break” in the defence of one side or the other. It was a ding-dong affair for thirty minutes of playing time, and when the first half ended neither team could claim the advantage.
“You wait till Dick gets in, though,” said Sumner to Mr. Bates when the field had emptied and the Silver Cornet Band was blaring forth again. “That quarter they’ve had playing may be good, but I’ll bet Dick can play all around him. He’s awfully slow, for one thing – ”
“Dick is?” inquired Mr. Bates, anxious to learn football lore.
“No, that fellow Stone. Dick’s a streak when he gets started. Why, he can do the hundred in ten and two-fifths, sir!”
“You don’t say!” murmured Mr. Bates. He wondered what the hundred was and how Dick “did” it, but he had no intention of exhibiting his ignorance any further. He was still recalling Sumner’s expression when he had innocently asked which team the little man in the grey flannel trousers – he happened to be the umpire – played on!ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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