Quarter-Back BatesŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ďIím not saying there is. Iím only giving you an example of the way secrets get around. There are other ways in which that Ďtwo-overí play might reach Kenwood. A newspaper writer might explain it in an account of a game, for instance. It isnít safe to even write about such things in your letters home, Bates. I didnít caution you or any of the players, for I supposed youíd realise that what goes on in practice is a secret and not to be spoken of off the field. When was this letter written?Ē
Dick thought hard a moment. ďAbout two weeks ago, sir.Ē
ďAnd it wasnít sent. Why?Ē
ďI hadnít finished when it came time to go to a recitation and I slipped it in a book and couldnít 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.Ē
ďWhere did you throw it?Ē
ďI donít 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.Ē
ďAnyone see you do it?Ē
ďI suppose so. I guess there were fellows around.Ē
ďHm. Who do you know at Kenwood, Bates?Ē
ďNo one, sir.Ē
ďPositive? I understand that you have corresponded with someone there quite regularly since you came here.Ē
ďThatís not so, Mr. Driscoll. Iíve never written a letter to Kenwood Academy in my life and I donít 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?Ē
Mr. Driscoll shook his head. ďI agreed not to bring him into it, Bates. Thereís 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 Ė Ē He fell silent, frowning at the two scraps of paper. Then: ďAre you a rapid writer, Bates?Ē he asked.
ďNot very, I guess.Ē
The coach took a pad of paper from the desk beside him and a fountain pen from his pocket. ďSuppose you write what I tell you to on that,Ē he said. Dick laid the pad on his knee and waited. ďReady? Write ĎMassachusetts Academy Kenwood,í please.Ē
Dick wrote and the coach accepted the result and viewed it intently. Then he shook his head. ďYour K and your A arenít like the others, Bates, but thereís a certain similarity. Honestly, I donít know what to think. I want to believe you, my boy, but this Ė 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?Ē
ďLeonardville, sir. I donít 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 Iíve told you. Would that do?Ē
ďIt would certainly help. Hang it, Bates, you must see yourself that the thing looks bad!Ē
ďYes, sir, I guess it does,Ē agreed Dick dispiritedly.
ďAll I can say is that it was done thoughtlessly and that Iíve never had any correspondence with Kenwood. Why should I want to give away our plays to Kenwood, Mr. Driscoll?Ē
ďI donít know, Bates. Youíve worked hard and made good and I donít believe youíre the sort of fellow that would do a dishonourable act. You have been careless and thoughtless, but Iíd like mightily to believe that your account of it is right. If youíll wire to this fellow White Ė Ē
ďWhy, heís coming here Saturday, sir! I just remembered! Would it do if we waited and Ė and talked to him?Ē
ďComing here? Of course it would! Thatís fine! But how does it happen that heís coming to Warne?Ē
Dick somewhat shamefacedly explained and the coach smiled at his embarrassment. ďWell, it seems that youíre more of a hero than I suspected, Bates,Ē he said quite in his usual manner. ďI had heard something about it, too, of late.Ē He added that with a twinkle, and Dick smiled ruefully.
ďThat was a beastly joke of Wallace Blashingtonís sir. He Ė he heard somehow about Ė about this and thought heíd have some fun with me.Ē
ďI see. Well, now, Bates, letís see where we stand. You produce this White chap Saturday before the game and if he can put a quietus on this story Iíll be satisfied. No one has heard anything about this matter except Ė the fellow who found these pieces of paper and I. And no one will hear. I guess Iím pretty well convinced already, my boy! Now donít let this bother you. It will come out all right, Iím sure. And if it does Ė as itís going to Ė weíre going to need your best work the day after tomorrow. Come and see me Saturday, Bates, and Ė By the way, what time do you expect this Mr. White?Ē
ďI think he will be in on that train that gets here at twelve-ten, sir.Ē
ďHm, rather late! But that canít be helped. You switch him over here to me as soon as he arrives and weíll nail this thing right away. Thatís all, Bates. Sorry this had to come up, but as it has Iím glad weíre going to clear it up so nicely.Ē Mr. Driscoll offered his hand and Dick shook it and went out.
ďOf all the crazy things to do!Ē marvelled Stanley when, at noon, Dick found him in the room and poured out the story to him. ďDidnít you know you werenít supposed to give your plays away like that?Ē
ďI guess I didnít think,Ē said Dick humbly. ďBesides, Leonardville is so far away Ė Ē
ďWell, no use talking about it now. Who do you suppose found the letter?Ē
ďI donít 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.Ē
ďYes, thatís probably what happened. But where did the bit of envelope come from? I donít believe that was any accident, Dick!Ē
ďWhat do you mean?Ē demanded Dick warmly. ďDo you think I lied Ė Ē
ďHold your horses! What I mean is that Ė well, I donít 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 heíd have had to do was Ė Ē
ďI thought of that, Stan, but there isnít anyone who Ė Ē
Dick stopped and frowned thoughtfully at his chum.
ďSure of that?Ē asked Stanley.
ďYou mean Ė Ē
ďYes, how about Sandy? He has it in for you, hasnít he?Ē
ďWhy, yes, I suppose he has. In fact, heís got a good big mad on with me, Stan. I didnít tell you, but I had a bit of an argument with him yesterday afternoon, down in front of the door. Do you think Ė Ē
ďWhat sort of an argument?Ē asked Stanley suspiciously.
So Dick told and Stanley snapped his fingers in triumph. ďWhy, itís as plain as the nose on your face, Dick!Ē he exclaimed. ďEither Sandy came across that piece of paper by accident or he saw you tear the letter up and pulled it out after youíd gone on. Then, yesterday, he fixed up that envelope to look as if it belonged with the letter! You didnít ask Mr. Driscoll when he got them, did you? Well, Iíll wager it was last night after youíd thrown Sandy down or early this morning. Itís a mean thing to say, Dickie, but the thingís just the sort of low-down plot that Sandy would take to. Shows ingenuity, too, and Sandyís no fool if he is a villain! Why donít you put it up to Driscoll straight! Tell him you know who supplied the incriminating evidence and tell him the whole yarn.Ē
ďBut I canít prove anything, Stan.Ē
ďWhat of it? You can show that Sandy has a grouch and Driscollís got sense enough to see that the whole thingís a frame-up.Ē
ďI might go to Sandy and make him tell the truth,Ē said Dick.
ďHow? Heíd deny it, of course. Well, after all, itís no great matter. Driscoll doesnít believe it and when your Leonardville chum gets here he can clear the whole thing up. Best thing to do is forget it. Itís rather a sell on Sandy, though, for I guess he expected Driscoll would fire you off the team!Ē
ďSomehow, I sort of think thatís what he meant to do when I first went in there.Ē
ďYou can bet he didnít want to, Dick! Heíd have done it, though, in a minute, if he hadnít believed your story! Say, if I was you Iíd take a crack at Sandy, just for luck, the first time I met him!Ē
But Dick didnít do that. For one reason, he didnít 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 ďlarder,Ē 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 Ė many of them moving picture monthlies Ė 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. ďLeonardville is Proud of Him,Ē read Dick. He didnít 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.
ďHow did you know about my brother Stuart, Blash?Ē he demanded.
ďEh? Whatís that?Ē Blash looked across startledly, striving to accommodate his mind to the sudden change of subject.
ďAnd where we lived?Ē pursued Dick.
ďOh! Well, what was it you asked?Ē Blash floundered badly, his gaze falling on the paper under Dickís hand and a slow grin curving the corners of his mouth.
ďI asked how you knew my brotherís name and where he lived,Ē explained Dick calmly; ďand where we lived.Ē
Blash looked at Dick for an instant and then shrugged. ďI didnít, Dick,Ē he answered. ďThat 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 didnít know whether theyíd use it, but they did, and they sent me a copy of it. Honest, now, donít you think journalism is my line? Dana or Bennett or any of those top-notchers got anything on me, Dick?Ē
Stanley was staring wide-eyed. ďD-do you mean that you wrote that thing about Dick in the Leonardville paper?Ē he gasped.
ďMost of it,Ē replied Blash modestly. ďOf course, as Iím telling you, I couldnít supply the Ė the intimate details.Ē
ďWell, Iíll be jiggered!Ē
ďSame here,Ē laughed Sid. ďBlash, youíre as crazy a loon as they make!Ē
ďSeems to me,Ē said Dick, ďyouíve spent most of your time of late working practical jokes on me. After this Iíll never believe a thing until Iíve made sure youíre 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 Saturdayís game started something.Ē
ďStarted something!Ē Blash asked eagerly. ďNo. What?Ē
ďFive of the fellows read that drivel and decided to follow the suggestion. Blash, I hope you choke!Ē
Blash had gone off into a gale of laughter. Stanley and Sid grinned doubtfully, wanting to laugh, too, but fearful of wounding Dickís feelings.
ďO boy!Ē gasped Blash. ďDick, I guess weíre more than even! Iíve paid in full, eh?Ē
Dick smiled at last. ďNo, you still owe me some pennies.Ē
ďNot a cent! You telephoned me that night at the movie house that I neednít pay the last seven and a half cents: or, at least, ĎUncle Johní did!Ē
ďThatís so,Ē acknowledged Dick, laughing. ďIíd forgotten.Ē
ďWhen you get back,Ē said Stanley, ďyou can read what I wrote on the piece of paper one night. Remember?Ē
Dick nodded. ďBetter tell me now, though. I never could stand suspense.Ē
ďI wrote ĎBlash will chisel a penny in two and send half as the last payment.í Was I right, Blash?Ē
ďRight as rain! Fact is, the two halves are in that top drawer over there this minute. But youíll never get either of them, Dick. Iíve paid my debts!Ē
ďYou have,Ē agreed Dick heartily. ďYouíve more than paid them, and I hope Iíll live long enough to hand you back the change!Ē
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.
ďSum! You old scoundrel! How are you?Ē Dick was surprised to discover how glad he was to see Sumner.
ďFine! Gee, Dick, youíve grown an inch! Say, you neednít have come to meet us. I told your Ė Ē Sumner stopped, grinning. ďSee whoís here?Ē
ďHello, Charlie! Hello, Jim! Say, Iím awfully glad Ė Ē Dickís words stopped in his throat. Then: ďDad!Ē he gasped.
Mr. Bates laughed a trifle embarrassedly as he took Dickís hand in both of his own. ďYes, itís me, Dick. I Ė I thought Iíd come along and keep these young fellows in order, you know. Well, how are you, son?Ē
ďIím great,Ē answered Dick, ďbut Iím so knocked in a heap Ė Think of you coming, dad! Gee, Iím glad to see you! How are you? Letís get out of here where we can talk.Ē Dick took his fatherís 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 wasnít 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 didnít matter, for Mr. Driscollís questions were few and somewhat perfunctory after Dick had had his say about Sandy Halden. ďI think, sir,Ē Dick ended, ďthat Halden didnít find that piece of an envelope at all. I think he addressed it himself, copying my writing the best he could.Ē
ďAnd I think youíre right,Ē agreed Mr. Driscoll. ďIíll have something to say to Halden after this gameís out of the way. Heís a dangerous fellow to have around.Ē
Five minutes later they were back in Number 14, in the midst of a merry din of talk and laughter. Dick couldnít 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. ďStan will look after you,Ē he shouted back from the door. ďThereís 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 Iíll see you here after the game. So long, dad! So long, fellows!Ē
ďGo to it, Dick!Ē cried Sumner. ďEat íem up, old scout! Weíll be rooting for you!Ē
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 oíclock, 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 ďlong cheerĒ 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-Whiteís line-up and had proclaimed the fact disappointedly.
ďWhatís that mean?Ē asked Mr. Bates anxiously. ďIsnít he going to play, Sumner?Ē
ďOh, yes, sir,Ē replied Sumner, assuming more confidence than he felt. ďYou see, a quarter-back doesnít often last a whole game. Itís 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 halfís over, Mr. Bates. I think I see him down there on the bench. Yes, there he is, sir.Ē
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 Blueís successes coming just at the end when a back shot unexpectedly around Petersí 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 teamís 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 ďbreakĒ 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.
ďYou wait till Dick gets in, though,Ē said Sumner to Mr. Bates when the field had emptied and the Silver Cornet Band was blaring forth again. ďThat quarter theyíve had playing may be good, but Iíll bet Dick can play all around him. Heís awfully slow, for one thing Ė Ē
ďDick is?Ē inquired Mr. Bates, anxious to learn football lore.
ďNo, that fellow Stone. Dickís a streak when he gets started. Why, he can do the hundred in ten and two-fifths, sir!Ē
ďYou donít say!Ē murmured Mr. Bates. He wondered what the hundred was and how Dick ďdidĒ it, but he had no intention of exhibiting his ignorance any further. He was still recalling Sumnerís expression when he had innocently asked which team the little man in the grey flannel trousers Ė he happened to be the umpire Ė played on!ŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
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