Ralph Barbour.

Quarter-Back Bates





CHAPTER IV
BLASHINGTON

Of course, said Stanley, you can go to Juds reception if youd rather, but youll have a poor time. You just shake hands with Jud and a bunch of the faculty and Mrs. Jud and stand around until you get tired and go home again.

Jud being Doctor Lane? asked Dick.

Right! The idea is that youre to become acquainted with the other fellows and the instructors, but the old boys fight shy of it and the new boys just stand and look at each other, and the faculty always forgets your name the next morning.

Well, it doesnt sound exciting, acknowledged Dick, and Im for cutting it out unless its required.

It isnt, its elective, laughed Stanley. Well blow over to Blashs room presently. He may not be there, but we can try.

They had finished supper and were strolling along the walk toward the west gate. Windows were open in the dormitories and from the nearer ones came the sound of voices and laughter. Occasionally someone hailed Stanley and they stopped for a moment while the latter held conversation. There were groups of fellows on the turf along The Front, for the evening was warm and still. A bluish haze softened the twilight distances and somewhere toward the centre of the town a church bell was ringing. It was all very peaceful and homey, and Dick felt no regrets for Leonardville. At the gate which led onto the junction of Linden and Apple Streets they paused a moment. A belated arrival climbed tiredly out of a decrepit taxi in front of Williams and staggered up the steps bearing suit-case and golf-bag. Along the streets and less frequently across the campus the lights gathered brightness in the deepening twilight, although westward the sky was still faintly aglow.

Where does Blashington room? asked Dick as they turned their steps back the way they had come.

Goss, answered Stanley. He rooms with Sid Crocker, this years baseball captain.

Goss? Recollection came to Dick. I wonder if you know a fellow named Quiggle no, thats not his name. I dont know what his name is, but he rooms in Goss. Hes a tall, lanky chap with a long nose.

Whered you meet him? asked Stanley, interestedly.

Dick recounted the incident and, since he didnt happen to look at Stanleys countenance while doing so, was not aware of the smile that trembled about the hearers lips. Hes going to pay me the rest of that money when I find him, ended Dick resolutely. I thought maybe youd know who he is.

Well, the description isnt very er whatyoucallit, Dick, replied the other gravely. I dare say the fellow was just having a joke with you.

I dare say, but he was too fresh. I felt like an awful fool when the taxi driver called me down for offering him half a dollar instead of seventy-five cents. Well, I suppose Ill run across him pretty soon.

Oh, you will, Stanley assured him almost eagerly Youre absolutely certain to, Dick!

Whats the joke?

Joke?

Yes, what are you snickering about?

Oh, that? I I thought I wanted to sneeze.

Its sort of dusty this evening.

I hadnt noticed it, said Dick suspiciously. But Stanleys countenance was quite devoid of amusement, and he accepted the explanation. In front of Goss, Stanley backed off onto the grass and looked up to one of the third floor windows.

Theres a light in his room, he announced. Somebodys in, anyhow. Lets go up.

So, Stanley leading the way, they climbed the two flights of worn stairs, for Goss didnt boast slate and iron stairways, and traversed a length of corridor to where the portal of Number 27 stood partly open. Stanley thumped a couple of times on the door and entered. Someone within said, Come in, Stan, and Dick, following his friend, saw a rather short, stockily-made youth stretched on the window-seat at the end of the room. Excuse me if I dont rise, continued the boy. I happened to look out a minute ago and saw you rubbering up here. He shook hands with Stanley and then, seeing Dick for the first time, muttered something, and swung his feet to the floor.

Shake hands with Bates, Sid, said Stanley. Dick, this is Mr. Crocker, well-known in athletic circles as a shot-putter of much promise.

Shut up, grumbled Crocker. Glad to meet you, he added to Dick. Sit down, you chaps, if you can find anything to sit on. Blash has got his things all over the shop. Bring up that chair for your friend, Stan. You can sit here, and Ill put my feet on you. Pardon me if I return to a recumbent position, will you? Im very weary.

Wheres Blash? asked Stanley. Gone over to Juds, I suppose.

Not exactly. Hes down the hall somewhere. He suggested tossing up to see whether he or I should unpack the bags, and he lost. So, of course, he remembered that he had to see a fellow and beat it. He will be back in a few minutes, I guess. This is a fair sample of the way in which he meets his obligations, gentlemen. Im ashamed of him.

Sid Crocker sighed, stretched, and deposited his feet in Stanleys lap. He was a nice looking boy of apparently eighteen years, with light hair and a round, much tanned face. He seemed unnecessarily serious of countenance, Dick thought, but afterwards he found that Sids expression of gravity was no indication of mood. Sid caught Dicks gaze and was reminded of his duties as host.

I guess I didnt quite get your name, he said, politely.

Bates, said Stanley. Were together over in Sohmer. This is his first year.

Bates? echoed Sid. Bates! Where have I Ah! I remember. He sank back against the cushions again, closing his eyes as though in deep thought. Dick determined to be modest, but it was flattering to find that someone here had heard of him. He waited for Crocker to proceed, and so did Stanley, but instead Sid wriggled off the window-seat. Just excuse me a minute, will you? He crossed to a chiffonier, opened a drawer and fumbled within. Just remembered something. Fellow downstairs wanted me to lend him er Whatever it was the fellow downstairs required they didnt learn, for Sid removed something from drawer to pocket and made for the corridor. While Im about it, he added from the doorway, Ill find Blash and fetch him back. Dick got the impression that he was seeking to convey to Stanley more than his words expressed, for he stared very hard at that youth as he spoke and continued to stare for an instant longer before he disappeared.

Rather a jolly old room, said Stanley, when they were alone. These old places fix up nicely, I think.

Dick agreed. Personally he didnt care for the idea of sleeping and living in the same room, but the low studding, and the deep window embrasure and the scarred, dark-painted woodwork were somehow very homelike. The walls held dozens of pictures of all sorts: photographs, posters, engravings, etchings, a veritable hodge-podge. Amongst them were strange trophies, too: part of a wooden board bearing the strange legend TE WAY S PASSING in two lines, evidently half of a sign that had been sawed in two; a fencing mask; a canoe paddle with a weird landscape painted on the broad end; a cluster of spoons and forks tied together with a brown-and-white ribbon; several tennis rackets; a lacrosse stick; a battered baseball adorned with letters and figures and tacked to the moulding by its torn covering; several faded or tattered pennants, one bearing a big blue K which Dick presumed stood for the rival school of Kenwood. Between the two narrow beds was a good-sized study table littered with books and clothing and odds and ends awaiting Blashingtons return. Two chiffoniers and three chairs about completed the furnishings. The beds held bags, partly unpacked, and two steamer trunks blocked the passages between beds and table.

Blash has had this room four years, mused Stanley. Says he would be homesick if he went anywhere else. The joke about Sids shot putting, by the way, is that he tried it last fall and Blash got a cannonball that weighed about thirty pounds, and worked it off on him. Sid almost killed himself trying to putt it more than twelve feet. Then he noticed that Blash and the others were using another shot, and got onto the joke. Here they come.

With Sydney Crocker was a tall, thin fellow who, to Dicks utter amazement, wore a long and drooping black moustache. Perhaps the gorgeous luxuriance of that moustache was a surprise to Stanley as well, for Dick noted that the latter stared at it fascinatedly for a long moment ere he greeted its wearer. Even then he seemed to find difficulty in speaking. Perhaps the dust was annoying him again. Dick awaited an introduction while the thought that there was something wrong with that moustache, grew from a mere suspicion into a certainty. In the first place, no fellow of Blashingtons age could grow such a thing. In the second place he wouldnt be allowed to wear it in a preparatory school. In the third place it was much too good to be true; too long, too black, too Why, of course, it was a false one stuck on! Dick smiled knowingly as Blashington stepped over a trunk and held out a bony hand.

Pleased to meet you, Mr. Bates, said Blashington, heartily. Any friend of Stans is mine to the extent of ten dollars. Sit down, everyone. Dear me, you havent got these things put away yet, Sid. So sorry to have you chaps find the room in such a mess. I dont know what Sids been doing, Im sure. Blashington chatted on, but Dick noted that there was a distinct air of restraint about the others. Indeed, Stanley appeared to be actually suffering from restraint, for his face was very flushed, and the low sounds that came from him spoke of deep pain.

You are a new-comer, I understand, Bates, Blashington continued, smiling amiably behind that ridiculous moustache. I hope you will like us and spend a pleasant and profitable year in these classic shades.

He said more, but Dick wasnt listening now. Classic shades! Where had he heard that expression recently, and who had used it? Then memory came to his aid and he knew! His face stiffened and his cheeks paled. Blashington, reading the symptoms aright, paused in his rhetorical meanderings and laughed.

Bates is on, Stan, he said. I see the warm light of recollection creeping over his face. Further attempts at disguise are futile, not to say idle. The clock strikes twelve. Unmask! Blashington pulled the moustache from his face and tossed it to the table. Excuse the little jest, Bates. It was Sids thought. Like most of his ideas, it didnt work.

Stanley and Sid were laughing enjoyably, but Dick couldnt find any humour in the trick. He remained silent, while Sid gasped: Gee, Blash, you did look an awful ass with that thing on!

Did I? Well, I seem to have offended Bates. He doesnt look as though he thought I was a bit funny.

I dont, said Dick, stiffly. Either now or this afternoon.

Oh, come, Dick! protested Stan. Take a joke, wont you?

Dry up, Stan, said Blashington. Bates has a right to feel peeved if he likes to. Look here, Bates, Im sorry I offended you. When you know me better youll understand that I didnt mean to. Will that do for an apology?

I think the whole thing is awfully silly, replied Dick coldly, but its of no consequence: not enough to talk about.

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. Then Stanley said hurriedly: Thats all right then! You mustnt mind Blash, Dick: nobody does.

Blash, whose expression of deep contrition Dick had thought suspiciously emphatic, chuckled. I thank you, Stan, for them few kind words. Well, now that the entente cordial has been restored, how are you and everything? Have a good summer?

Oh, yes, bully. Did you?

I had a busy one, anyway. Ill tell you about it some time. I suppose youve heard that Pat isnt coming back this year?

No! Why? Whats the matter?

Gaines told me that he had a letter from Pat about two weeks ago, saying that his father had lost a lot of money and that he was going to work; Pat, I mean, not his father: although it is likely that Mr. Patterson will work, too. It sounds reasonable, eh? Im awfully sorry. Pat was a dandy chap. Besides, hes going to leave a big hole to be filled.

Thats right, agreed Sid Crocker. Patterson was a corking quarter-back. And he would have played on the nine next spring, Ill bet. He swung a mean bat on the Second last year, and would have made a mighty good fielder for us, I guess. Who will get his place, Blash?

Stone. Gus isnt bad, but Pat came pretty close to being a marvel. Were talking about our last years quarter-back, Bates. Do you care for football?

Dick felt Stanleys anxious look on him as he answered: Yes, I like football, thanks.

Do you play?

I have played some.

Thats good. We need talent this year, and you look as if you might be clever. Dick knew, however, that Blash was only being polite.

Do you play baseball? asked Sid.

N No, not much. Of course I have played it, but Im not good enough. His manner was still stiff, and he made no effort to remain in the conversation. The others chatted on for some time longer, Stanley frequently seeking to get Dick to talk, but not succeeding, and then the visitors took their departure.

Drop in again, Bates, said Blash. If theres anything I can do to help, let me know.

Dick thanked him non-committingly. Outside Stanley shook his head. He was smiling, but Dick knew that he wasnt pleased. I guess that didnt get us much, Dick, he said.

Dick frowned. Well, I cant help it! he said defensively. He makes me tired. Anyway, if I cant get along in football without his help, Im quite willing to stay out of it.

Oh, that wont make much difference, I suppose. I only thought that if Blash took to you

Well, he didnt: any more than I took to him.

I suppose I ought to have told you he was the fellow you rode up from the station with, but I didnt realise that you were really so peeved with him. Its sort of too bad you couldnt have taken it as a joke, Dick.

Im sorry, answered the other haughtily. I wont trouble you to introduce me to any more of your friends, Gard.

Well, dont be waxy, said Stan, good-naturedly. Theres no harm done. You may like Blash better when you get to know him, and

I dont think so. And it doesnt matter, does it?

N No, except that its always nicer to like fellows than not to. You get more out of out of life, Dick. Well, never mind Blash. Want to go over to Juds for a few minutes? It isnt too late.

I dont know. Yes, I guess I will, but you neednt bother unless you want to.

Oh, Ill come along. We dont have to stay. Hope therell be some eats, though.

When they had turned back and were retracing their steps along The Front, Dick broke a silence of several minutes duration.

Anyway, he said a trifle resentfully, I noticed one thing.

Whats that? inquired Stanley.

Blashington took mighty good care not to say anything about that twelve cents he owes me!

CHAPTER V
RUSTY

Two busy days followed for Dick. Stanley was a great help, however, and getting settled into his stride was accomplished fairly easily. There was his adviser to see and his courses to arrange: he was required to take seven courses, one of them elective. For the latter he chose General History, not so much because he felt a hankering for such knowledge as the course afforded as because it entailed but two recitations a week. You see, he had to arrange so as not to have studies interfere too much with football! However, there seemed no danger of his not having enough school work, for, with History, his grand total was twenty-nine hours.

He passed his physical examination with flying colours and on Wednesday set to work with the football candidates. Of these there was a startling number, he thought. The field that afternoon was so thickly sprinkled with fellows of all sizes, shapes and degrees of experience that there was scarcely room to move about. Dick found himself simply one of many, doomed to go through with the usual routine of the beginner. At first he felt somewhat impatient and even peeved, but presently he decided to view the thing as a joke. They would very soon see that he belonged in an advanced squad, he thought, and meanwhile it wouldnt do him any harm to practice the kindergarten stuff with the rookies.

The coach didnt appear until Thursday, and when he came, Dick didnt altogether approve of him. In the first place, Dick considered him too old: he looked to be every day of thirty-four or five. In the second place, Coach Driscoll lacked the good-natured, free-and-easy manner that Dicks experience had associated with football instructors. He wasnt bad looking, and he had very evidently kept himself in good physical trim, but, being so old, he would, Dick decided, be horribly behind the times and out-of-date. Tod Driscoll was a Parkinson graduate and a Yale man. At Yale, he had established an enviable reputation as a football player. He had been coaching at Parkinson for five years, Dick learned, and with success, for in that time the Brown-and-White had thrice triumphed over the Blue of Kenwood. And he was popular in spite of the fact that he was a very strict disciplinarian.

Dick found Captain Bob Peters more to his liking. Peters was a homely, tow-haired, snub-nosed chap built like a Greek athlete, with a smiling countenance and a clear, creamy-brown skin against which his grey-blue eyes looked startlingly bright. He was cheerful and light-hearted and yet could be very intense and very earnest on occasions. He played at right end on the team. Dick didnt have any dealings with Captain Peters at this period, however, for a youth named Warden appeared to have control of his fortunes. Warden was a dark-complexioned, earnest fellow who never said an unnecessary word to the squad of beginners over whom he had been placed, and who worked very hard and conscientiously every minute. Dick thought he took himself and his duty a bit too seriously, but couldnt help liking and respecting him.

Dick was rather surprised at the extremely earnest and business-like way in which football practice was conducted. There was so much system and everyone was so serious! Even the manager and his hard-working assistant appeared to have no thought in life beyond that of turning out a successful football team. Billy Goode, the trainer, alone seemed to be unaffected by the contagion of effort. Billy even found time for a laugh and a joke.

Naturally, Dick was especially interested in the quarter-back candidates. He got one of the fellows to point out Gus Stone to him, and was relieved to find that Stone didnt look very wonderful. He was rather short and perhaps a bit heavier than the position demanded, although doubtless a week of work would remove some of the weight. There was also Cardin, a slighter and younger boy who had played the position on the Second Team last year. And there were a dozen others, Dick amongst them, who had declared their preference for the quarter-back job.

He saw Wallace Blashington now and then on the field or in the gymnasium, and Blash always spoke, but there was no further meeting until the following Saturday. By that time Dick had settled down into the routine of school life, and had decided that he was going to like Parkinson immensely and Stanley Gard even more. Dick had grown rather used to having other fellows wait on him, run his errands and make life easy for him in general. He had never consciously asked such service, but had received it as a tribute to popularity. But he was not getting it now. If he had expected Stanley to wait on him and he didnt know whether he had or not, but probably had! he was doomed to disappointment. Stanley was the best-hearted chap in the world, but if one of Dicks shoes had got away from him and taken up a temporary abode under Stanleys bed, it was Dick who fished it out. Only once had Dick asked a service. Then, seated at his study desk, he had lightly suggested that Stanley should hand him a book that was lying on the radiator top near the window. Stanley was seated in a chair somewhat nearer the radiator than Dick, but there was no sound of movement and after a second Dick looked around inquiringly. Stanley was still seated and there was a quizzical grin on his countenance. After a somewhat blank stare, Dick arose and got the book. As he sat down again he said sarcastically: Much obliged, Stan.

Stanley chuckled. Dick, youve been sort of spoiled, havent you? he said.

Spoiled? What do you mean? Just because I asked you

Youre one of those fellows who expect others to do things for em, and get away with it. Wish I knew the secret. But it isnt good for you, Dick. You must learn to run your own errands, and whitewash your own fences. Any time you break a leg, Ill fetch and carry for you, but while youre able to get about nothing doing! In fact, seeing that Im an older resident of this place, Im not certain you shouldnt be fagging for me!





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