Ralph Barbour.

Quarter-Back Bates





Did he find it? asked Dick amusedly.

Dont think so. Anyway, he hasnt choked yet!

On Wednesday Sandy Halden fell to Dicks squad in signal drill. There had been a very strenuous twenty minutes with the tackling dummy and most of the fellows were still smarting under the gentle sarcasms of Billy Goode, and some nursed sore spots as well. Halden had failed as signally as any of that particular squad to please the trainer and had come in for his full share of disparagement, and his temper was not of the best when signal work began.

Dick resolved to have no trouble with Halden; nor any nonsense either. But Halden started off more hopefully today and managed to get through the first ten minutes of drill without a mistake. He showed Dick, however, that he was still resentful by scowling on every occasion. Davis had, it appeared, found enough courage to ask for his transfer to the line, for he was on Dicks squad at left guard. Of course, with none to oppose him Davis managed to go through the motions satisfactorily enough, but whether he could ever be made into a good guard remained to be seen. There were five signal squads at work that afternoon, and several of them were followed by blanketed youths for whom no positions remained. Coach Driscoll and, at times, Billy Goode and Manager Whipple moved from one squad to another, the coach, however, devoting most of his time to the squad containing the more promising of the substitute material or what seemed such at that early period. Captain Peters was at right end on the first squad, which held all of last seasons veterans: Furniss, Harris, Cupp, Upton, Newhall, Wendell, Stone, Gaines, Warden and Kirkendall. The weather had turned cold since Saturday and there was a gusty north-east wind quartering the field, and the more seasoned squads were charging up and down the gridiron with much vim.

Dick had his men pretty well warmed up at the end of ten minutes and plays were going off fairly smoothly. Then, down near the east goal, came the first serious mix-up in the back field. Showers, playing full-back, had received the ball from centre direct and was to make the wide-turn run outside his own left end, the two half-backs going ahead as interference. It was a play that had already been gone through half a dozen times that afternoon. But now for some unknown reason Halden, instead of sweeping around to the left in the wake of the other half, plunged straight ahead at the right guard-tackle hole and emerged triumphantly beyond. His triumph ceased, though, when he saw Showers and the right half-back trotting along a good fifteen yards distant. He pushed through toward Dick, who had been engaged with a mythical opposing back, scowling darkly.

You called for a straight buck! he challenged.

Wrong, Halden, replied Dick quietly. I called for a run outside left end and you were supposed to be in advance of the ball.

You got your signal wrong, then!

I dont think so.

Everyone else understood it. Well try it again presently, Halden. See if you can get it right next time.

I got it right that time. I heard the signal, and it was

Hire a hall, Sandy, advised a lineman. You were all wrong.

I was not! Bates doesnt give the signals so anyone can get them, anyway. He talks down in his boots!

Never mind that, Halden. Signals! 9 11 Youre out of position, Halden. Come on, come on!

Whats eating you? Im in position!

You are now, but you werent. Signals! 9 11

I havent moved an inch!

Well, do it now then. Move a couple of hundred inches and get out of here. Dick looked around for someone to take Haldens place, but there were no followers today. Halden had turned very red and now he stepped up to Dick sputtering.

You cant put me off, you smart Aleck! I was put here by Driscoll and Ill stay until he tells me to go. You think youre the whole thing, dont you? How do you get that way? You make me sick!

Dick made no answer, but he watched Halden closely, for the boy was quite evidently in a fighting mood. It was Davis who came to the rescue by slipping out of his place in the line and inserting himself suddenly between Halden and Dick.

Sure, hes got a right to fire you, Sandy, and youre fired! So beat it! Davis pushed Sandy playfully away. Bates is boss, son.

He is not! Hes no more on this squad than I am! Quit shoving me, Short!

Driscoll is looking over here, warned Showers uneasily. Lets get at it, fellows.

Right you are, responded Davis, jumping into his place again. Let her go, Bates!

I must have another half-back, answered Dick, looking about.

Oh, forget it, growled Halden. Im not going off.

I think you are, replied Dick quietly. He left the squad and walked across to where Billy Goode was standing with Manager Whipple. Im short a half-back, he announced. Got someone, Mr. Trainer?

Whats the matter? Someone hurt? asked Billy.

No, but Ive let Halden go. He tried to make trouble.

Billy looked at Dick quizzically. You let him go! What do you know about that? He turned inquiringly to Stearns Whipple.

Whipple smiled. Bensons not working, he said. Give him Benson.

Would you? Billy shot a look of mingled disapproval and respect at Dick. Well, all right. Send Halden to me. Say, whats your name? Gates? Oh, Bates! Well, if I was you Bates, I wouldnt get too uppity. Billy went off for Benson and Dick started back toward his waiting squad, followed by the amused regard of Whipple. Benson trotted out from behind a neighbouring group and joined Dick.

Billy sent me over, he said. Im a half-back.

Go in at left, will you? Thats all, Halden. Goode says to report to him.

Halden walked up to Dick and spoke very softly. Ill get you, Bates, if it takes a year! he said.

Dick nodded. Come on, fellows! Signals!

Some ten minutes later Coach Driscoll found Dick on the bench while the first and second squads were taking the field for the scrimmage. Whipple tells me you had trouble with Halden, he said. What was wrong, Bates!

He tried to hold up work arguing whether he or I was wrong about a signal I gave.

Who was wrong!

He was, sir, but that didnt matter. He wouldnt work. Just wanted to chew the rag. So I let him go.

The coach smiled faintly. You probably did right, Bates, but perhaps in future youd better report the matter to me first. You see some fellows might question your authority. The coachs smile grew. Well, I dare say Halden wont trouble you again. He nodded and went off. Dick looked after him thoughtfully.

When he smiles he doesnt look so old, he said to himself.

CHAPTER IX
LETTERS AND RHYMES

Dicks home letters became shorter about this time. Life was very busy for him. He wrote the news, but he no longer indulged his pen in descriptions. Sumner White had written twice from Leonardville, rather long letters about the High School Team, with messages from Dicks former schoolmates and questions about Parkinson football methods. Sumners faith in Dick remained unimpaired, although the latter had still to announce his acceptance on the Parkinson First Team. We are all expecting big things from you, Dick old scout, wrote Sumner in his latest epistle. Cal Lensen is going to get the Parkinson weekly to exchange with the Argus so he can keep tabs on you. So just remember that were watching you, kid! Every time you make a touchdown for Parkinson the old Argus will have a full and graphic account of it in the next number. But youd better write now and then, besides. Good luck to you, Dick, and that goes for all the gang.

It wasnt very easy to answer Sumners letters because answering involved explaining why he hadnt made the team. But Dick did answer them. The following Sunday he wrote: Got your letter Tuesday, but saved it for today because Sundays about the only day a fellow has time here for writing letters. Glad to get the news about everyone, but very sorry to hear of the Chester game. But you fellows must remember that Chester has the edge on you, anyway. Look at their coach and all the money they spend and all that! Besides, 19-6 isnt as bad as we licked them two years ago. I guess youll have to find someone for Mercers place. Ed tries hard, but he isnt scrappy enough for full-back. You need a fellow who isnt afraid of a stone wall and doesnt get hurt the way Ed did all last year. What about Cleary? Hes slow, I know, but you might speed him up this year, and he has lots of fight Things here are humming along finely. We played Musket Hill yesterday and just walked away with them. I told you I didnt fancy Driscoll, the coach, but I like him better, and I guess he does know how to get the stuff out of a team. Talking about full-backs, I wish you could see our man here in action. His names Kirkendall and he comes from Kentucky. The fellows call him K of K., or just K sometimes. Well, he got started yesterday in the third period on our forty and Stone (quarter) fed him the ball eight times and he landed it on N. H.s seven yards, and hed have taken it over, too, if Stone hadnt acted the silly goat and switched to Warden. It took Warden and Gaines both to get it over then, but they did it. Only it seemed too bad not to let K. get the credit for the touchdown after smashing all the way for fifty yards. Stone doesnt use his head, it seems to me. But he does play a good individual game. For all-round work, though, our captain, Bob Peters, is the star of the team. He plays right end, and hes a wonder at it. Talk about getting down under punts! Gee, Sum, hes under the ball from the minute its kicked, and he seems to always know just where its going, too. But hes just as good on defence, and the way he handled the opposing tackle yesterday was a marvel. Hes a dandy captain, too, for all the fellows swear by him and would do anything he asked them to, I guess.

Im still pegging along on the outside, and maybe I wont make the team this year. There are nearly five hundred students here and a lot of them are corking football players and a fellow has got to be mighty good to even get looked at by the coach. So you mustnt be surprised if you dont see my name in the Leader this year. Of course its early yet, and I might have luck, but Im not counting on it much. Im having a good time, though. Some of the football chaps are corkers, big fellows, you know. I mean big every way, not only in size. Theyre big enough in size, though, believe me, Sum. Gee, I was certainly surprised when I saw how the team stacked up. Why, Newhall, the right guard, must weigh two hundred pounds, and Cupp isnt any light-weight either. Another thing I was surprised at was the way they go at football here. Everythings all arranged and cut out six months ahead and its the most business-like proposition I ever saw. Theres an Athletic Committee first, composed of three faculty and two students, the football and baseball managers usually. Then theres the Head Coach, and under him the trainer and his assistant. The committee meets every week and then theres a meeting in the coachs room every night but Sunday and everything is threshed out and plans made for the next day. There doesnt seem to be a moment wasted here. Just at first I thought it was too professional or something, but I guess its just being efficient. It works all right, anyway. Well, I must stop and go over to see a fellow in the village with Stan. Ill tell you about that fellow some time. Hes a wonder! Remember me to everyone and think over what I wrote about Leary. I forgot to tell you the score yesterday. It was 27-3. Some game, eh?

Dick might have written a little more truthfully that he wasnt counting at all on making the First Team, for at the end of the first fortnight at Parkinson it was pretty evident to him that he had still some distance to go before he would reach the proficiency of fellows like Peters and Kirkendall and Warden and several more. The fact that he had loomed up as an uncommonly good quarter-back at Leonardville High School, and that the town papers had hailed him as a star of the first magnitude, didnt mean much to him here. He saw that Parkinson and Leonardville standards were widely apart. Why, there were fellows on the Second Team here who were better than anything Leonardville had ever seen! But Dick took his disappointment philosophically. He meant to try very hard for a place on the big eleven, no matter how humble it might be, and so get in line for next year. He wondered sometimes if he wouldnt have shown himself wiser had he gone out for the Second Team instead. There was still time for that, for very often candidates released from the First Team squad went to the Second and made good, but somehow he didnt like the idea of trying for the moon and being satisfied with a jack-o-lantern! No, he decided, if he failed at the First he would quit for that year and try all the harder next. Rumors of a first cut were about on the Monday following the Musket Hill game, and Dick prepared for retirement to private life. The cut didnt come, however, until Thursday, and when it did come it passed Dick by. Why, he couldnt make out. Fellows like Macomber and Swift and Teasdale disappeared and Dick remained. And Macomber and the others were, in Dicks estimation, much better players than he. But he accepted his good fortune and went on trying very hard to make good, telling himself all the time that the next cut would take him, certainly.

But if Dicks success at football was in a measure disappointing, his faculty for making friends had not deserted him. He had acquired many by the end of the first fortnight at school. Of course, they were not all close friends, but they were more than mere acquaintances. Among the close friends he counted Stanley first. Then came Blash and Sid and Rusty. His liking for Blash and Blashs for him seemed to have started after the episode of the telephone call. Because Dick had fooled Blash and Blash had taken it smilingly seemed no good reason for an increase of friendship, but there it was! Blash still threatened to get even some day, and Dick was certain that he would, but that only made the mutual liking stronger. As between Sid Crocker and Rusty Crozier, Dick would have had trouble saying which he liked the better. Rusty was far more amusing, but Sid was a dependable sort of chap. In trouble, Dick would have thought first of Sid. Oddly enough, Dicks popularity was greater amongst fellows older than he. Each of those whom he counted real friends was at least a year his senior, and Harry Warden, with whom acquaintanceship was fast warming into friendship, was nearly two years older. But the disparity in age was not greatly apparent, for Dick had the growth and manners of eighteen rather than seventeen, and one who didnt know the truth might well have thought him as old as either Stanley or Rusty.

Of enemies, so far as he knew, Dick had made but one. Sanford Halden allowed no opportunity to remind Dick of his enmity to get past him. He had been among those dropped from the First Team squad in that first cut and it appeared that he somehow managed to hold Dick to blame for that. When they passed in hall or on campus Sandy always had a malevolent scowl for him, and once or twice Dick thought he even heard mutters! All this Dick found mildly amusing. Sandy reminded him of a villain in a cheap melodrama. A few days after the cut Dick heard that Sandy had attached himself to the Second Nine for fall practice.

Football took up a great deal of Dicks time and much of his thought, but he managed to maintain an excellent standing in each of his courses and thus won the liking of most of the instructors with whom he came in contact. With Mr. Matthews, who was Dicks advisor, he was soon on close terms of intimacy. The instructor was one of the younger faculty members, a man with a sympathetic understanding of boys, and tastes that included most of the things that boys liked. He had a passion for athletics and was one of the Nines most unflagging rooters. But for all this he was not generally liked. The younger boys, who formed most of his classes, were suspicious of his fashion of regarding them individually instead of as a whole. They declared, some of them at least, that he crowded them. By which, in school parlance, was meant that he tried to be too friendly. They resented his attempts to interest himself in their doings outside classes. Among the older boys, however, he was a prime favourite, and his study in Williams was the scene of Friday evening parties that were always well attended. Anyone was welcome. There was much talk, the subjects ranging from the value of the spitball in pitching to the influence of Bible study on literary style. At nine oclock ginger ale and cookies the latter especially made by a woman in the town and transferred each Friday from her house to the school in a laundry box by Mr. Matthews were served. Perhaps some of the guests were present more on account of the ginger ale and molasses cookies than for any other reason, for the cookies had long since gained a wide fame, but none questioned their motives.

Stanley and Dick attended one of the parties the Friday following the Musket Hill game. There were more than a dozen fellows already in the room when they arrived, most of whom Stanley knew and a few of whom were known to Dick. All the usual seating accommodation being exhausted, the instructor had dragged his bed to the door of the adjoining room, and on the edge of that the newcomers found places, they and a spectacled youth named Timmins completely filling the doorway. Conversation was still general. Mr. Matthews, dropping a word now and then into the noisy confusion, was at his study table cutting sheets of paper into quarters with a pair of shears. He wasnt a bit impressive, being under rather than over medium height and slight of build. He had light hair that was already thin over the forehead, bluish eyes and light lashes, all of which gave him a somewhat colourless appearance. But there was an inquiring tilt to the short nose, a humorous droop at the corners of the mouth and a very determined protrusion of the chin that lent interest to the countenance.

The study was a comfortable sort of place. The woodwork was painted mahogany brown and there was a lightish buff paper on the walls and many books in the low cases and a few really good engravings above. The furniture was old, rather dilapidated and most friendly. Even the chairs whose backs were straightest and whose seats looked most uncompromising had acquired unsuspected and hospitable curves. There was a deep red rug, rather a good rug it was if you knew anything about Mousuls, and a saddle-bag was stretched along the window-seat. Just now the latter was hidden by four of the guests.

Mr. Matthews dropped the shears and rapped for attention. Before we settle the affairs of nations, fellows, as is our weekly custom, he announced in his pleasant and somewhat precise voice, I propose that we spend a half-hour in mere recreation. This particular form of recreation is not original with me. I ran across it in the summer. Half a dozen of us were trying to live through the third day of a northeast storm down on the Maine coast. Wed exhausted every known means of staving off imbecility when one of the party, he happened to be a clergyman, by the way, introduced should I say sprung, Harris? sprung this on us. There are three things, he said, that every man firmly believes he can do. One is run a hotel, another is conduct a newspaper and the third is write poetry. He proposed that we should write poetry. We tried, and the results, if not calculated to win us undying fame, were at least amusing. Suppose, then, we try the same stunt this evening. Here are some pencils and two fountain pens. You are respectfully requested to leave the pens behind when you go out. The pencils I leave to your consciences. And here are some sheets of paper. Ford, would you mind distributing to those behind you? And you, McEwen? Thank you. Now the idea is to choose the surname of one of the party and write a two-line verse, the first line ending with the er victims name. Want to try it?

Yes, sir! Well try anything once! My middle name is Tennyson, Mr. Matthews!

All right. And for the one who writes what is voted to be the best effusion, there is a prize concealed in this drawer here.

Loud applause from the assemblage, and an inquiry from the window-seat: Please may we see it first, sir?, followed by more applause and laughter.

Sorry, Neal, but the prize is not to be seen until won. I want you to really try! To illustrate the style of composition to be followed, I give you this, gentlemen, craving your indulgence. It is one of my attempts on the occasion mentioned. I ran across it the other day and it gave me the idea of trying the game this evening. In explanation I may say that the gentleman mentioned was a super-excellent golf player and very, very thin as to body.





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