Ralph Barbour.

Quarter-Back Bates





Pryne ran the team according to directions as best he could. He lacked experience, though, and if the play went faster than before it was due more to the eagerness of the substitutes than to Prynes efforts. Those substitutes did themselves proud, even if they werent strong enough to score, and, although many fellows on the bench wished that Coach Driscoll had cared more about winning and less about developing substitute material, it was generally agreed that much credit was due the rookies. Before the quarter was ended Captain Peters was added to the retired list and Findley took his place.

The third period ended with Phillipsburg making several changes, something she had refrained from doing before, and the ball in Parkinsons possession on her twenty-nine yards where Skinner had been downed after a punt. More changes were made. Trask went in for Kirkendall and Dean for Upton, at centre, and four other substitutes trotted nervously on. One of them was Dick.

CHAPTER XIII
THE LAST QUARTER

Phillipsburg began that final period with all the confidence born of having held her enemy scoreless through thirty-six minutes of play. She had replaced many of her first-string men, but her captain was still in and so was the quarter-back who had started. On the Parkinson stand the audience was on its feet, imploring a touchdown.

Dick had been through some trying moments during his brief football career at Leonardville, but he had never felt quite so conspicuous, never so uncertain of himself, as when he trotted out and joined the group of brown-jerseyed players by the thirty-yard line. His heart was beating like a sledge-hammer and his palms were moist and there was a funny prickling sensation in his legs. Diffidence had seldom troubled him before, and he felt doubly awkward now for that reason. But there wasnt much time for thought of his feelings, for he had hardly joined his team-mates when the whistle blew the end of the minute intermission.

Dick looked over his companions in the back-field and wished that he knew more of them. Trask, in Kirkendalls position, was much the same sort of fellow in appearance as K. But he was lighter, and a good two years younger, Dick thought. Curtis was a good man and so was Skinner, but of the two Curtiss style of play was better known to Dick. Gleason had been made acting captain, and it was the substitute guard who bent behind centre to whisper into the quarters ear.

Weve got to get Skinner loose, Bates, said Gleason. Hes the boy if he can get away.

All right. Lets start something, Parkinson! Signals!

When the ball came back from between Deans wide-spread legs, Dick whirled and tossed it to Skinner, and Skinner, rather heavily built but quick at starting and hard to stop, went hurtling into the opposing left guard and, with half the Parkinson team behind him, smashed his way through for six yards. Then came every indication of a forward, with the left end edging out and showing nervous impatience and Dick dropping back eight yards behind centre and the half-backs watching the opposing ends.

Back shot the ball to Dick, he made a pretence of throwing it to the left and turned his back to the line. Around swept Findley, the right end, and to him went the pigskin at a short, quick pass. The halfs fell into stride beside him and Dick sprang away to guard the rear. Four strides, six, and a sharp cry of In! In! The end dug a heel in the trampled sod and swung to the right. Straight toward the confusion of swaying bodies that had formed the two lines a moment before, he raced. Yet there was some method in the confusion, for Parkinsons right end and one half had been drawn across the field on the false alarm and her tackle had been forced in. Back of the enemy line the secondary defence was rushing to the support of the forwards, but the interference cleaned the hole nicely and Findley shot through, dodged a tackle and was off at a tangent, finding holes where there seemed none, racing diagonally toward the right side-line. The interference was gone now and he was on his own, but only the Parkinson quarter remained between him and the distant goal. Free of the m?l?e, he swung down the field at the forty-yard line, a scant dozen feet from the boundary.

Behind him came the pursuit, but Findley was fleet of foot and only the Phillipsburg quarter, coming fast yet cautiously down on him, caused him concern. The middle of the field was past now and he had gained another yard or two of elbow-room and the pursuers had not gained. Then came the supreme instant. The Phillipsburg quarter sprang with outstretched arms and Findley gave, turning and twisting, across two yards of the precious territory at his right. The quarters clutching fingers grasped, held for an instant, and Findley went staggering to one knee. Then he was up again, the quarter was rolling over on his back, legs ludicrously in air, and a great shriek of triumph came across from the Parkinson stand. Findley was safe and bearing in toward the still distant goal, while, behind him, friend and foe pounded in pursuit.

Dick had followed Findley through the line, had defeated one eager tackler and had gone sprawling onto the turf. But he had been on his feet again an instant later and, skirting the struggling mass, had kept straight ahead down the field. He knew that he could not hope to reach Findley in time to aid him against the quarter-back. His only chance of helping lay in being well down the field in case the runner got past the enemy quarter. None sought to stop him, for the play had followed the ball, and, while in the ruck of the pursuit friend and enemy went down and were strewn behind, Dick had had the centre of the gridiron to himself, with Findley speeding along well ahead and to the right and the quarter-back cutting across to him. Then had come the runners clever escape and now he and Dick were converging on the goal, the latter gaining a little as the white lines went slowly underfoot. Never was the foremost pursuer very far behind, but always, barring an accident, Findley seemed to have sufficient margin to win by. Yet, as the thirty-yard line was left behind, one Phillipsburg player became momentarily more dangerous. He had managed to avoid the Parkinson interferers and had worked himself well into the lead. He was tall and slight and a runner of no mean ability, and Dick, turning his head for a quick glance, read the menace. Findley was tiring slightly and running more slowly, head back, as Dick, edging further to the right, brought himself nearer to the path of the pursuit.

Followed an anxious moment. Findley crossed the fifteen yards with Dick a scant six feet behind and the Phillipsburg man gaining on the runner at every stride. But to reach Findley the enemy would have to slip around Dick or topple him aside, and Dick knew it. The rest of the pursuers, strung back half the length of the field, were no longer to be reckoned with. There was a thumping of swift feet at Dicks side and he looked around into the set, intent face of the Phillipsburg player. The latter meant to swing past Dick and then, with a final burst of speed, bring Findley to earth before the goal-line was reached. But Dick had other views. Slowing imperceptibly, he let the enemy run even, as he did so catching a questioning look from a pair of wide, straining eyes. Then he swung quickly to the right, shoulders hunched, and went sprawling over and over on the ground. And with him went the enemy. And staggering, almost falling, Findley, the pigskin clutched tightly now to his stomach, crossed the last white line and sank gratefully to the turf.

Somewhere, a great distance away as it seemed to him, there was a subdued roar that sounded like Findley! Findley! Findley!

Minutes later a nervous, anxious youth by name of Trask directed the pointing of a ball in the none too steady fingers of Dick, the latter lying on hip and elbow close to the twenty-yard line. So much depended on that goal that Trask had at first mutinously refused to attempt it and had only consented when convinced that no one else on the team dared even try. Trask was very deliberate and many times Dicks hands moved this way or that in obedience. Behind Trask the referee knelt on one knee with upraised hand. Then, when Dick thought that in just one more second he would have to yell, there came a firm, quiet Down! from Trask, the referees hand dropped swiftly earthward, a brown object swung past Dicks eyes and the ball was gone. Still poised on hip and elbow, Dicks eyes followed the revolving oval. Very slowly it mounted upward, seemed to wobble uncertainly against the blue sky, veered erratically to the right as though making straight for a post and then began to fall. Dicks heart sank like a leaden weight. Trask had kicked too short! Then the ball suddenly went upward again as though struck from beneath and a din of cheers and shouts broke the long minutes of silence.

Struck the bar and went over! someone shouted and Dicks heart leaped upward again as swiftly as the ball had bounded from the cross-bar. The Phillipsburg players ended their leaping charge and with downcast faces walked past as Dick jumped to his feet. Someone thumped him tremendously on the back and almost sent him sprawling to earth again, and Trasks voice howled hoarsely: Got to hold em now, Bates! Got to hold em, old man! Its our game if we can hold em!

Were going to! answered Dick with a world of confidence in his voice. Were going to hold em, Trask! Its our day! Come on!

And hold them they did, although there were moments during the remaining nine or ten minutes when things looked dark indeed for the visitors. Phillipsburg hustled in new players and went back at the enemy tooth and nail. A bewildering variety of single and double and even triple passes were essayed. Some succeeded, most failed, but all were puzzling and unnerving to a team of third and even fourth-string players, and that Parkinson managed to stave off defeat in that final quarter was scarcely less than a miracle. End runs got away and yet were stopped short of disaster, and always Dick clung to the ball to the last desperate moment before yielding it by a punt. Parkinson didnt make the mistake of playing only for safety, for a purely defensive game kept up for a length of time takes the heart out of the defenders. When Parkinson got the ball she attacked as hard as ever, and some of the substitutes won real laurels that afternoon. But at last the end came, after Phillipsburg had thrice won her way inside her opponents thirty yards and had once got to her fourteen, and eleven joyous, tired, breathless youths fell against each other and babbled incoherent congratulations.

An hour later players and rooters mingled happily on the home-bound train and in a corner of one car Dick and Stanley and Blash and Rusty crowded themselves in and over and around one seat designed for two persons and made merry. Dicks merriment was less strenuous than that of the others, for that brief session had left him rather limp and tired. It had also, it appeared, left him somewhat of a hero to his friends, for Blash declared that only Dicks interference had won the game.

Findleys run was a corker, said Blash, and he ought to have the Victoria Cross for it, but it wouldnt have scored if you hadnt been Johnny-on-the-Spot, Dick. Why, Lovering would have had Findley as sure as shooting! Of course, we might have smashed it over from the ten yards, and then again we might not have. I think we might not have. What saved the bacon for us was you bowling Lovering over, and dont you forget it! The Victoria Cross for Findley and the Distinguished Service Cross for you. Ill order them at once.

The gentleman is quite correct, said Rusty, although it isnt a usual condition with him. And, look here, fellows, while were pinning bouquets on, why not say a couple of kind words for the whole bloomin team that held those Phillipsburg guys innocuous I believe thats the word, Stan? innocuous all through the last dreadful quarter? I ask you why not, and again I ask you

Moved and carried, droned Blash, that the hearty thanks of the meeting be extended to the team. So ordered. There being no other business before the meeting, a motion to adjourn will

Move you, Mr. Chairman, that Stan be appointed a committee of one to find the train-boy and buy much sweet chocolate. All in favour

What with? demanded Stanley sarcastically. Seven cents? You borrowed every red Id borrowed from Dick, Rusty. What did you do with it?

Rusty grinned, gulped and broke into chuckles. I spent it, dear one, he giggled. And twas well-spent, believe thouest me! Listen and Ill tell you Hold on, though! Who buys the chocolate? Honest, Im far too faint to narrate this moving tale. Have a heart, Blash!

Im busted, son. Honest!

Dick produced a few silver coins and some pennies. Ill be the goat, he said, but someone else must do the buying. I wouldnt stir from here for a thousand dollars; even if I could, which I cant with Stan sitting on my shoulder.

Give me the pelf, volunteered Stanley, with a sigh. Which way do I go?

Forward, advised Rusty. I saw him going through ten minutes ago. Better hurry, too, for he didnt appear to be overstocked.

Stanley went wearily away along the crowded aisle and Blash reminded Rusty of the tale. Go on, he said, and lets hear your criminal adventures.

Wait till Stan comes back. Dont I tell you Im faint from want of food? Besides, Stans going to enjoy this yarn. Jumping Jehosophat, I wish we were home and I was eating my supper! Isnt anyone else starved?

We all are, said Blash, only we dont dont wear our stomachs on our sleeves!

Dick laughed and Rusty shook his head wonderingly. The kid is clever, he murmured. Ah, here he comes! Empty-handed, by jiminy! No, he bears succor! A-a-y, Gard! Sweet youth, I bid you welcome! Wheres mine? Wha-a-at? Only three cakes for all that money I supplied you with? What do you know Oh, well, Ill try to worry along on this. Folks, that tastes good! Now then, lend me your ears and everything and Ill narrate to you the story of The Careful Spender and the Helpful Friend.

CHAPTER XIV
RUSTY BRINGS A FRIEND

When I left you in the restarong, began Rusty, I hied me forth in pursuit of a youth whose countenance I had spied through the window, in short, none other than Sandy Halden. Sandy said he was looking for someone, I forget who, and I said Id help him look. I believe in helping others whenever it isnt too hard work.

Why that pill, though? asked Stanley. Thought you had no use for Sandy.

Youre quite wrong then, answered Rusty earnestly. To the eager and inquiring mind nothing is useless. Anyhow, you shut up and let me tell this. Sandy and I wandered through the metropolis side by each, admiring the soaring edifices and the homes of ease and luxury. And as we strolled, we talked. Maybe I talked more than Sandy did, but thats neither here nor there. Among other things I said was this: Theyre charging fifty cents to see the game this afternoon, Sandy, and thats too much. Not that Im going to pay it, though. Im going to see it for nothing. Of course that interested Sandy tremenjously, for Sandy doesnt mind spending money any more than a Scotsman! He wanted to know how I was going to do it; did I have a pass or what. Dont have to have a pass, I told him. Maybe youve noticed that one of the dormitories is right close to the field? Well, if you happen to have a friend there whose room is on the back, you dont have to spend your good money. You just sit in the window up there quite comfortably and look right down on the field. Of course, youre not as close as you are in a stand, but you can see everything that goes on and youre saving a big old half-dollar. And a half-dollar is a lot of money about the middle of the month! Sandy agreed cordially to that sentiment and said he wished that he knew someone in one of those dormitories. I said, yes, it would be nice if he did, and looked at my watch, remarking that I mustnt be late for my engagement. Then we happened on a candy store and I stopped and looked in the window and said something about the caramels looking nice. I could see Sandy struggling mentally and I kept on looking at the caramels. He tried to edge off, but I wouldnt edge. So finally he said in a weak little voice that he guessed hed get a few and we went in and he bought a quarter of a pound for fifteen cents. Then we strolled on and ate the caramels, and after a bit I said sort of thoughtfully: Look here, Sandy, if youd like to see the game with me I guess it would be all right. My friend is a mighty nice sort and I dont think hed mind if I brought you along.

What friend? asked Dick, puzzled.

My friend in Wallack Hall, replied Rusty, with a grin. Wallacks the dormitory that looks like a tomb and has ivy all over it.

Oh, said Dick uncertainly. Blash made a derisive noise in his throat and Stanley chuckled.

Well, Sandy was that pleased! Gee, fellows, it does give one a fine feeling to give pleasure to others, doesnt it? Sandy was quite affecting. He said I was mighty kind and he wouldnt forget it and hed like awfully to meet my friend. So we came to a drug store about then and I said I was thirsty and Sandy insisted on buying sodas. By that time it was getting on toward two and I asked a fellow in the store how to get out to the school and he told me and we started out. I had to pay the car fares, for Sandy was looking out the window hard when the conductor came around. When we got out there I said wed better walk around awhile and see the place, and we so did, and when it was about time for the game to start I conducted Sandy to Wallack. He may not be in yet, I said, because he has a two oclock recitation, but he said I was to make myself at home until he got back. So we climbed two flights of stairs and I went along looking at the numbers on the doors, telling Sandy I didnt quite remember which room it was. Sandy kept asking me what the fellows name was and reading the cards, but I put him off until I found the room. Then I knocked, and, sure enough, Harold wasnt in, but hed left the door open and so we went on in. It was a bully room, with a lot of corking furniture and pictures and so on, and we looked around and waited for Harold to come back. You couldnt see as much of the field as Id expected, because the top of the grand stand cut off the nearer side of it, but it wasnt bad, and I made Sandy take his coat off and sit down on the window-seat. He was very grateful, was Sandy. Doing things for him is a real pleasure, fellows! And Rusty looked around the small circle of his audience with much feeling. Stanley was chuckling and Blash and Dick grinning broadly, and Rusty seemed surprised at their amusement.

Well, thats about all there is to tell, except that presently Sandy called out that they were starting the game and I came over and looked out over his shoulder and saw that he was telling the truth. Funny Harold doesnt show up, I said, as concerned as anything. So I opened the door and looked up and down the corridor and there wasnt anyone in sight and the building was awfully silent. Guess Ill go down to the entrance, Sandy, I said, and see if I can see him. You sit tight. So Sandy said all right, he would, and that Phillipsburg had just kicked-off, and I went out and closed the door gently but firmly behind me, absent-mindedly turning the key in the lock, and went downstairs. Harold wasnt in sight and so I went on around to the field.

You locked Sandy in there? exclaimed Stanley incredulously and joyfully. Rusty grinned and nodded.

I guess so. I didnt try the door, but the key turned all right.

The others were fairly howling. Wouldnt I like to have been there when the owner of the room got back! gasped Blash. What do you suppose Sandy told him?

He told him the truth, laughed Rusty, but I dont believe Summer believed him.

Summer? Not that big left-guard of theirs? cried Stanley.

Yes, Harold Summer.

Then then you do know him?

Only by reputation, replied Rusty modestly. Ive never had the honour of meeting him.

Howd you know where he roomed?

Easy. Looked up the fellows on the team until I found a couple who roomed in Wallack. Half of them do room there, because its a sort of senior dormitory, I guess.

Looked em up where? demanded Dick.

In the school catalogue. There was a copy in the library. I forgot to say that we visited the library amongst other places of interest. I found one football chap lived in 17 Wallack and another in 28, and I knew that one of them must be on the back, and it turned out to be 17, and that was Harolds dive.

Summers? But, look here, seems to me Summers name is George, said Stanley. Where do you get this Harold stuff?





: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16