Ralph Barbour.

Right Guard Grant





I dont suppose Ill even get a smell of the big game, he said sorrowfully. Rennekerll play at right and Stimson at left, and you and Falls will be next choice. It was that big guy that queered my chances.

Leonard didnt have to ask who was meant. Instead he said comfortingly: You cant tell, Raleigh. You might beat Stimson yet. And youll surely have it all over me for first substitute.

But Raleigh shook his head. Not a chance, Grant. I know a real player when I see him, even if Im getting to be a dub myself. Youre a live-wire. I wouldnt be surprised if you got Stimsons job before the Kenly game.

Me? Much obliged for the compliment, Raleigh, but I guess Stimson isnt frightened much! I havent got the weight, you know.

You dont seem to need it, replied Raleigh enviously. Youve got speed to burn. Wish I had a little of it!

The next day Leonard was called to the training table, where he took his place between Lawrence and Wilde and where, after his second or third repast, he was no longer Grant but General. On Wednesday he discovered with something of a thrill that Coach Cade was taking him seriously as a candidate for a guard position, for he was given a hard thirty-minute drill in blocking and breaking through in company with Renneker and Stimson and Raleigh and Falls. Soon after that, just when Leonard didnt know, Squibbs disappeared from the football squad. It will be remembered, perhaps, that not long before Coach Cade had erased a name from a page of his little book.

It was on Thursday evening that Johnny McGrath appeared at Number 12 Haylow in response to Leonards invitation. Both Leonard and Slim were at home, and Johnny had no cause to doubt that he was welcome. The conversation was not particularly interesting. Or, at least, it wouldnt sound so if set down here. There was one subject not included in the many that were discussed, and that was the resemblance of Gordon Renneker to George Ralston. Just before he left Johnny said, a trifle hesitantly: By the way, Slim, heard anything about Saturday?

About the dinner, do you mean? Slims eyes narrowed.

Yes. I wondered if youd heard any er any rumors. Johnny looked very innocent just then. Slim shook his head slowly.

Nothing much, Johnny. Have you?

Why, I dont know. Johnny appeared undecided. You see, Im a junior, Slim, and maybe I oughtnt to give away any freshman secrets.

Huh, Slim grumbled, if it wasnt for you fellows putting em up to the mischief

Sure, I had nothing to do with it, laughed Johnny. And what I heard didnt come from my crowd. Tis just something I accidentally came on.

Well, out with it. What are the pesky kids up to?

Im not knowing that, Slim.

Well, what the dickens do you know, you Sinn Feiner?

All I know, replied Johnny evasively, as he opened the door, is that if I was President of the Sophomore Class Id be watching out mighty sharp come Saturday evening. Johnny grinned, winked meaningly and vanished.

Humph, said Slim.

He does know something, the silly ass. He started up as if to go after Johnny, but then sat down again and shrugged his shoulders. He wouldnt tell, I suppose.

What do you think he was hinting at? asked Leonard.

Slim shrugged again. How the dickens do I know? I dare say the freshies have cooked up some plot to make me look silly. Maybe they think they can keep me away from the dinner. All right, let them try it! And Slim looked grim as he began to disrobe.

On Saturday Leonard made his first trip away from Alton with the football team, being one of twenty-six fellows who journeyed to New Falmouth. Last fall Alton had just managed to defeat the clever High School team by one point, and to-day the visitors werent looking for any easy victory. It was well they werent, as events proved. New Falmouth was too powerful for the Gray-and-Gold. With only one more game on her schedule, and that against a rival high school of smaller calibre, New Falmouth was in position to use everything she had in to-days contest. And she certainly held nothing back. Last seasons game, lost to her through her inability to convert two touchdowns into goals, had been a disappointment, and she fully intended to take her revenge.

Coach Cade started with several substitutes in his line-up, but this was not because he held the enemy in contempt. His real reason was that he hoped to hold New Falmouth scoreless in the first half of the game and use his best talent to tuck the victory away in the last. But that wasnt to be. Before the second quarter was half-way through Johnny Cade was hurling his best troops onto the field in a desperate attempt to turn the tide of battle. For by that time New Falmouth had scored twice and had 10 points to her credit on the score-board while the visitors had yet to show themselves dangerous.

Leonard didnt see service until the third period. Then he went in at left guard in place of the deposed Stimson. The score was still 10 to 0, and Alton looked very much like a beaten team. New Falmouth had a powerful attack, one that was fast and shifty and hit hard. No place in the Gray-and-Gold line had proved invulnerable in the first two periods, while the home team had run the ends with alarming frequency. Only Altons ability to pull herself together and stand firm under her goal had prevented the enemys score from being doubled.

Leonard had Jim Newton on one side of him and Sam Butler on the other when the second half began. He had not played beside Butler before and didnt know the tall youths style of game as well as he knew Billy Wells, and for awhile the two didnt work together any too smoothly. In fact, the left of the Alton line was no more difficult to penetrate than the right until Leonard discovered from experience that Butler went about his business in a different fashion from that used by Billy and began to govern his own play accordingly. Butler couldnt be depended on, for one thing, to back up attacks between left guard and center. Such plays always pulled him in and left him fairly useless. Also, he played too high much of the time, a fact that invited more attacks at his position than Leonard approved of. Yet, when once these facts had been learned, Leonard was able to discount them to an appreciable extent and before the third period was more than half over New Falmouth was less attentive to that side of the adversarys line.

Leonard knew that he was playing football, and extremely hard football, before the third play had been made. New Falmouth got the ball on the kick-off and started a battering-ram attack that bore the enemy back time and again. Leonard went through some punishment then, for the first three plays were aimed at the Alton left guard and tackle. He acquired a bleeding nose in the second of them and a bruised knee in the third. About that time he got interested and began to really fight. Captain Emerson went off with a bad limp and Kerrison took his place. Not much later Bee Appel, after having been aimed at since the game began, was finally downed for good and Carpenter took over the running of the team. The third period ended without further scoring, although the ball had stayed in Alton territory most of the time and was still there.

A penalty for off-side set Alton back another five yards nearer her goal just after play was resumed, and, when she had been held for two downs on the twenty-two yards, New Falmouth tried a goal from placement. For once, however, the line failed to hold and half the Alton team piled through on the kicker and the ball bounded off up the field and was captured by Reilly, of Alton, on the thirty-six yards. Alton made first down on two plunges and a six-yard run by Menge. Then, however, after three more attempts, Greenwood punted to the home teams twenty-five, where the ball went outside. New Falmouth made two through Renneker and tore off five more around Kerrison. A third down was wasted on a plunge at center that was repulsed. Then New Falmouth tried her third forward-pass of the game, and the ball landed nicely in the hands of Slim Staples close to the forty-yard line, and Slim dodged to the thirty-two before he was stopped.

Here, it seemed, was Altons chance to score at last, but after Carpenter had attempted a run following a delayed pass and had centered the ball at the sacrifice of a yard, the chance didnt look so bright. Greenwood made a scant two at the New Falmouth left, and then, with nine to go on third down, and Greenwood in kicking position, Carpenter called for an end-around play with Slim Staples carrying. Just what happened Leonard didnt know, but somewhere between Jim Newton and Slim the ball got away. Leonard heard Carpenters frantic grunt of Ball! and swung into the enemy. Then he felt the ball trickle against his foot, thrust aside for a moment and dropped to a knee. When he got his hands on the pigskin the battle was all about him, and cries and confusion filled the air. Yet he was able to thrust himself up again through the m?l?e, and plunge forward, and, having taken that first plunge, to go on. He met a back squarely and caromed off him into the arms of another, broke loose somehow and went forward again. The goal-line was startlingly near, and he made for it desperately, slanting first to the left and then doubling back from a frenzied quarter. He and the quarter met and, spinning on a heel, he staggered over the line, a New Falmouth man astride him as he fell.

Unfortunately there was no one left on the Alton team who could kick a goal once in five times, and Joe Greenwood, who tried to add another point to the six, failed dismally. The fault wasnt entirely his, though, for New Falmouth broke through and hurried the kick. But even to have scored was something, and Leonard, still wondering just how it had happened, was appraised of the fact in most emphatic language and actions. Over on one side of the field a half-hundred or so of Alton sympathizers who had accompanied the eleven were shouting ecstatically and wildly. Denied victory, they made much of that touchdown.

The ball went to New Falmouth for the kick-off, and Leonard sprang away to repel the invaders. Behind him, Carpenter got the pigskin, juggled it and tried to run it back, but two New Falmouth ends downed him fiercely. On the second play Greenwood got clean away around the left end and made it first down on the thirty-yard line. Just as he was jubilating hoarsely over that Leo Falls came romping on, hailed the referee and joyfully slapped Leonard on the back.

Youre off, he announced. Lets have your head-guard.

Leonard looked unbelievingly at him. Off? he gasped. Me? But the referee was waving impatiently, and Leonard pulled off his helmet and turned sadly toward the bench. The world seemed just then filled with ingratitude and injustice, and the cheer that hailed him fell on unresponsive ears. Jake hurried out to enfold him in a blanket, mumbling fine phrases, and Mr. Cade said something as Leonard passed to the bench, but the days hero was not to be salved so easily. From the bench he sadly watched the game to its end and witnessed, in the closing moments, the addition of another 3 to New Falmouths 10. Life was very dark!

CHAPTER XVI
FIRST TRICK TO THE ENEMY

But time heals all wounds, and long before the special trolley had landed the team back at Alton Leonards spirits were again at normal, or perhaps a little beyond normal since, in spite of the defeat, the Gray-and-Gold had had her big moments, and he had shared in at least one of them. Disappointment had not prevented the other members of the squad from giving praise where it was deserved, and Leonard had heard a number of nice things said. Rus Emerson had been especially complimentary, and Coach Cade, while less demonstrative than the players, had expressed his approval quite unmistakably. So, all in all, Leonard should have been more than satisfied with the afternoon, it seemed. But he wasnt, for the defeat rankled, and Slims well-intended but cynical sounding advice to forget it and wait until next year brought little comfort. But in spite of having failed in their quest of revenge, the team became quite cheerful, even merry, in fact, before they rolled into Alton, and so Leonard too regained his spirits. It was almost dark by the time he and Slim turned into the yard and made their way toward Haylow, although beyond the buildings the western sky still showed a tint of faded gold most appropriate to the occasion. The Sophomore Dinner was set for seven, and it was already well past five, a fact that Slim mentioned as they reached the front of Academy Hall.

I ought to get there a bit early, I suppose, he added. Theres usually something that goes wrong at the last minute, and the other fellows on the committee probably wont show up until the last moment.

A dim form detached itself from the shadows of the doorway of Academy once the two had passed and loitered carelessly down the middle path in the direction of the gate. Neither Slim nor Leonard saw this, however. But, just as they went up the steps of Haylow, Leonard laid a detaining hand on his companions arm.

Theres a fellow behind that tree over there by the yellow house, said Leonard softly. You cant see him now. He poked his head around just as we started up here.

Slim looked, but the further side of Meadow street was wrapped in shadows and the particular tree, seen between the posts of the entrance, looked no different than other trees. Slim shrugged. I dont see anything, General. Guess it was just a shadow.

No, it wasnt. I saw the fellows head plainly.

Oh, well, what of it? Probably some kid playing hide-and-seek. Ill tell you, though. Well have a look from the window at the end of the corridor. Come on.

They climbed the stairs and then went along the second floor hall to the casement that overlooked Meadow street. When they reached it and peered surreptitiously out and down a dark form was proceeding townward along the further sidewalk, beyond the tree. For a brief moment the form was palely lighted as it passed under a street light, and Slim grunted.

Guess you were right, he said. Looks like one of the freshies. Keeping tabs on me, I suppose. I wonder if there was anything in Johnny McGraths guff. Just for fun, when we go in the room well have a look before we light up. There may be more of the varmints hiding about.

What do you suppose theyre up to? asked Leonard.

Search me, said Slim. Then he chuckled. Maybe theyre going to kidnap us, General. Wish theyd try it, eh?

I guess theyre not interested in me, replied Leonard a bit regretfully. See any one?

He was looking over Slims shoulder, peering from the darkened window. Outside the Academy yard was black save where the infrequent lights along the walks shed a dim yellow radiance that sent elongated shadows of the nearby trees sprawling off into the gloom. It was a time of evening when most of the fellows were in the dormitories, and save for a boy who passed under the window, whistling a football tune, to turn in at the doorway beneath and come pounding up the stairway, the yard appeared empty. Then Slim said Humph! under his breath.

What? asked Leonard eagerly.

Look along the Doctors path about fifty or sixty feet from the middle path. See anything?

N-no, answered Leonard disappointedly.

Well, I do. Theres some one under the tree there. Close up to the trunk and There! Now hes moving out a bit! See?

Yes! exclaimed the other watcher excitedly. What do you suppose

Silly chumps, muttered Slim amusedly. Kid stuff! Oh, well, it amuses them. Hell have to leave there pretty soon and go home to supper, though. Thatll be our chance to give them the slip. What time is it, anyhow? Turn on the light, will you?

Twenty-two of six, answered Leonard a moment later.

Plenty of time, then. They cant get out from supper in much less than half an hour, and thatll make it half-past. Well be gone by Slim stopped and listened. Thought I heard some one outside, he explained, turning his glance away from the closed door. I was going to say that by half-past six well be over at Kingmans. Gee, Im tired, General! How does my eye look?

Not so bad, said Leonard. He felt gingerly of his own nose. This things mighty sore yet. Would you do anything to it?

Your beak? No, not until we get back again. Bathe it in arnica then. All it needs now is soap and water.

The youth who had gone pounding up to the floor above a few minutes earlier now came thumping down again. The dormitory was by no means quiet, but the visitors passing sounded well above all else. Slim frowned. Thats the noisiest brute I ever heard, he muttered. He went over to the window and looked down, but all he could see in the darkness was a dim shape going toward Lykes. Must be wearing wooden shoes, from the sound. He peered in the direction of the watcher under the tree and then pulled the green shade down. I hope your feet are cold out there, he muttered.

Both boys laid aside the clothes they had worn to New Falmouth, since, as one never knew just what might occur in the course of a class celebration, it was customary to wear articles that were not highly valued. Slim pulled a pair of gray flannel trousers from the closet and hunted out an old white sweater. Leonard selected a veteran suit of grayish tweed that, during the past summer, had served on Sundays and holidays at the farm. They didnt hurry in their preparations, since, if only as a joke on the freshman spies, they meant to time their trip to the village while the enemy was at supper. Besides, they were both feeling the effects of the game in the shape of lame muscles and a general disinclination to move faster than a slow walk.

Six oclock struck while they were still dawdling and talking lazily of the afternoons experiences, and doors began to open along the corridors and the dwellers in Haylow set off for Lawrence Hall and supper. Slim struggled into an old bath-robe and looked around for his slippers. I sort of think Ill be ready to eat, myself, by the time seven oclock comes, he remarked. Where the dickens is that other slipper of mine?

Im ready now, said Leonard. I hope to goodness nothing happens to that dinner before I get at it!

Dont worry, General. Nothings going to happen to the food. Ill bet that right at this minute Kingman is mounting guard down there with a shot-gun loaded with buckshot!

Well, then I hope that nothing happens to keep me from reaching it, amended Leonard, smiling.

Slim chuckled. Thats different, he said. Ill guarantee the feed, General, but I wont guarantee the guests. Ah, here you are, you lopsided old reprobate! He pulled the missing slipper from under the further side of his bed and thrust a bare foot into it. Guess we might as well wash up, he announced. No use cutting it too fine. I dont run from trouble, but I dont hunt for it, either, and maybe well be just as well off if we get inside that restaurant before the freshies finish their supper.

All right, assented Leonard. The hall was silent now and the last footfall had ceased sounding on the pavement below. He picked up his own robe and threw it over his present scanty costume. At that instant there was an impatient exclamation from Slim.

What the dickens is the matter with this door? Slim demanded as he turned the knob and pulled. Then, Look here, wheres the key? he asked blankly.

The key was always on the inside of the lock, but it plainly wasnt there now. Slim and Leonard both looked about the floor. Then, together, they seized the knob and pulled hard. The door didnt yield.

Locked! said Leonard.

Slim nodded, and a broad smile crept over his face. Locked is right, he chuckled. The little varmints win the first trick, General!

But how? Theres been no one here!

Remember the fellow with the heavy tread? Thats who, Ill bet. Got the tip from the fellow under the tree, or some other fellow, and made a lot of noise going upstairs and then came down again quiet and locked us in.

But how could he have got the key without our hearing the door open or Leonard blinked. I see! They put the key in the outside before we came home!

Slim nodded. Or had it in their pocket. Well, weve got to get out somehow. Theres no use raising a riot, for no one will hear us, I guess. Perhaps if we yelled from the window But, shucks, I wouldnt give those kids the satisfaction! If there was a transom

How about the window? interrupted Leonard.

Rather a long drop, General, with a mighty hard landing. Wait a minute! What fellows of our class are in Haylow? Lets see. Joe Conklins in Number 27, but thats upstairs and on the back. Hed never hear us. Hes probably on his way, too. Who else is there?

Wharton, in 4, said Leonard. Lets raise a row and see if anything happens.





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