Right Guard Grantñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Look on the floor, Higbee! Bet you Staples is in there!” some one shouted. Hands explored the corners and one boy produced a flash light and cast its rays about. Disappointment was writ large on the countenances of all. “Not here!” was proclaimed.
“Where’d he go?” asked Higbee, who appeared to be one of the leading spirits.
“Who?” asked Leonard densely.
“Slim Staples. Where’d he get to?”
“Oh, Slim?” Leonard leaned out of one door and looked up the block. In front of the well-lighted and for the moment unguarded entrance to the restaurant, a tall youth paused to wave a hand ere he disappeared. Leonard laughed softly. “Why,” he went on, “Slim’s just gone in to dinner.”
“Yes, he has!” jeered Higbee. But others had seen the incident, although too late to interfere, and the dire news was being shouted up and down the block.
“He got in! I saw him!” “Oh, your grandmother! How could he?” “Yes, he did! Arthur saw him, too! He stopped at the door and waved – ” “What’s that? Staples made it? When? How could he? What? Walked right in the door! Say, where were you guys? You were supposed to – ” “Come on! Let’s stop him! Where’d he go? Who saw him?” “They say he got in!” “Rot! He’s in the crowd somewhere! This cab was a stall! Come on, Freshmen!”
Such a hullabaloo! Leonard, laughing, awaited his chance. It came. The defenders of the Moody street approach forgot him entirely and went rushing toward the door of the restaurant. Leonard slipped swiftly from the cab and followed, taking his place in the rear ranks of the enemy. The driver of the taxi, his fifty cents safely in his pocket, chuckled and swung back toward Market street.
Something over a hundred freshmen came together in a confused, pushing, shoving mass before the restaurant entrance. Accusations of dereliction of duty were frequent. Denials answered them. The masterful Higbee, striving to make his voice heard above the tumult, demanded proof. Assertions and denials battled for supremacy. Staples had gone in. Staples hadn’t gone in. Lots of fellows had seen him. They were crazy. Higbee waved a hand in exasperation. The policeman from the corner appeared suddenly in the scene, his good-natured voice mildly exhorting them to “move on now and don’t be blocking the sidewalk.” Slowly they gave back, flocking into the street. Across the thoroughfare the group of juniors, laughing enjoyably, forgot their neutral status and proffered wicked advice.
“Go on up and get him, Freshies! Don’t let him fool you that way!”
Fortunately perhaps, the noise was still too great for the advice to reach the freshmen. And just then a window went up on the second floor of the building, and the shade was pushed aside. “Oh, Fresh!” Comparative silence fell, and the crowd in the street craned their heads and sought the voice, slowly backing from the entrance in their effort to see. “Oh, Fresh!” Again the mocking challenge. A mutter arose from the throng that grew rapidly into a roar of futile rage.
At the window Slim Staples smiled benignly down and waved a gay hand.
“Who wins the bet?” he called.
“A cold dinner for you, Slim!” shouted a freshman shrilly. A shout of approval went up, but Slim shook his head.
“Haven’t started yet,” he answered. “Oysters just coming up!” Grinning faces appeared behind Slim’s at the window. “Now then, fellows, three hearty groans for the Freshman Class!”
With a final wave of his hand, Slim disappeared, the window closed, and the long white shade fell back into place. A dismal silence held the throng below. Only the unkind laughter of the juniors disturbed the quiet of the moment. And in that moment, made desperate by Slim’s mention of oysters, a boy in a white sweater that was somewhat too large for him, detached himself swiftly from the group and sped toward the doorway. The shout of warning came too late. So, too, did the effort of the startled policeman. The latter’s hands came away empty, and Leonard, caroming from a corner of the doorway, righted himself and went scurrying up the flight of stairs.
At the top he paused for an instant to glance behind. The policeman was trying to do two things at once and succeeding. He was peering undecidedly after the trespasser and holding back the pursuit. With an unsteady laugh Leonard tried the knob of the door in front of him, from behind which came the sounds of a merry party. It did not yield. Leonard tried again and put his weight against the portal. From below came the hoarse voice of the officer.
“Hey, youse, come down out of that before I comes up and gets you!”
Leonard beat a tattoo on the door. The policeman started slowly and heavily and remorselessly up the carpeted steps. Behind him the doorway was crowded with faces. Leonard kicked until the door shook.
“Let me in, Sophs! This is Grant!” he shouted.
“Come away from that now!” ordered the policeman gruffly. He was almost at the top, and Leonard’s brief glance told him that his good-nature was no longer to be relied on.
“I’ve got a right in here,” panted Leonard, still pounding and kicking. “I’m – I’m one of the party!”
“Your party’s down below,” answered the officer grimly, and, topping the last step, stretched out a massive hand. Leonard, backed against the door now, waved weakly at the menace and tried to find words. Then, just when the Law was about to clutch him, the door behind him opened suddenly and unexpectedly and Leonard arrived on the scene of the Sophomore Dinner in most undignified manner!
The door closed as quickly as it had opened, leaving a surprised policeman to scratch his head and, finally, to retrace his steps to the sidewalk, where his appearance empty-handed summoned a groan of disappointment from the waiting throng. That disappointment was the last straw, and, after a rather half-hearted cheer for themselves, the freshmen wended their way back to school.
Upstairs, Leonard was finishing his sixth and final oyster.
After a day like yesterday only one thing could be expected of the weather, and so here was a rainy Sunday. After church came dinner, and after dinner – well, nothing, it seemed, but a long and sleepy afternoon. Leonard and Slim found reading matter and settled down, Slim on the window-seat because he managed to reach it first, and Leonard on his bed, with his own and Slim’s pillows under his head. Outside the November afternoon was dark with lead-gray clouds and a fine, persistent rain challenged Leonard’s optimistic prediction of clearing weather by four o’clock. Slim grunted gloomily and hunched himself more comfortably against the cushions. “It’s days like this,” he said, “that account for the startling prevalence of crime during the month of November in American preparatory schools.”
At three Leonard laid down his book, yawned and looked through the window. It wasn’t raining as it had been an hour ago; it was raining harder! “As a weather prophet,” reflected Leonard, “I’m a flivver.” He yawned again. Then: “Let’s put on our coats, Slim, and get out,” he suggested. “This is deadly.” There was, however, no response, and Leonard lifted himself on an elbow and looked across. Slim’s book was laid flat across his chest, and he was fast asleep. “Sluggard!” grumbled Leonard. He pillowed his head in his hands and considered. He might go to sleep, too, but he didn’t want to. He might arouse Slim and persuade him to go out. Or he might let poor old Slim alone and splash over to The Hill and see Johnny McGrath. That’s what he would do!
His final act before leaving the room was to slip a piece of paper between Slim’s gently folded hands. On the paper was written: “Gone to Europe. Back at five. Sweet dreams.” Mrs. McGrath answered Leonard’s ring and told him that Johnny was up in his room and that he should go right up. Meanwhile she divested Leonard of his dripping mackinaw and bore it off to the nearest radiator to dry. Johnny was hunched in a big chair when Leonard reached the head of the stairway and could see into the room. His knees were close to his chin, and a big book was propped against them. But the book was quickly laid aside when he saw the visitor. He pushed a chair close to the radiator and forced Leonard into it, bidding him put his feet to the warmth, and then drew up a second chair for himself, beaming welcome the while.
“Sure, you’re an angel,” he declared, “to drop in like this, General. Where’s Slim that he isn’t with you?”
“Fast asleep, the lazy coot. I guess last evening was too much for him, Johnny.” They had progressed to the stage where “McGrath” had given place to “Johnny.” “Did you hear about it?”
Johnny nodded and laughed. “Yes, young Shawley was telling me this morning. I’m sorry I didn’t go down and see the fun. You and Slim were too smart for them, eh?”
“Well, we got there, although I’ll confess they had us worried for awhile. What I don’t understand is why they locked us in the room. They must have known we’d have got out sooner or later.”
Johnny nodded again. “I’ll tell you about that. ’Twas Reilly put the freshmen up to it, or most of it. They had it planned, they thought, so Slim couldn’t get to the dinner. They expected he’d start early, and there was about twenty of the freshies waiting for him down by the gate, where they could have got him either way he’d gone.”
“Got him?” queried Leonard.
“Oh, sure, nothing rough, you understand. But they had a fake note from Coach Cade asking Slim to stop and see him, and one of them was to give it to him, the rest being out of sight. The coach went away over Sunday at five-forty, but Reilly had in some way got him to leave the key to his rooms. Well, the plan was that Slim was to call at the house over there on the corner, and some one was to say ‘Come in,’ and the room would be dark and then, the first thing Slim would know he’d be safe in the big closet for the evening.”
“But Slim knew – we both knew – that Mr. Cade was going home, Johnny.”
“Maybe, but likely he wouldn’t have remembered it, or perhaps he’d have figured that Mr. Cade was going on a later train. Anyway, that’s how they had it fixed. But you fellows didn’t start along early enough, and the gang had to go to supper. So Shawley locked you in the room, to keep you there until they could get out from supper. He’d swiped the key earlier in the afternoon, do you see. Well, when you did start out they knew it was too late to spring that fake note on you and so they fixed to keep you away from the restaurant. That is, Slim. They didn’t care so much whether you got there. You were only a – a complication, as you might say. Remember, I tipped Slim off the other evening. I didn’t know then what the scheme was, but I knew they were after him.”
“So that was it,” mused Leonard. “We saw the freshies hiding around behind trees when we got back from the game, but I didn’t suppose they meant anything much. Neither did Slim; until we found ourselves locked in the room.”
“How was it Slim got there finally?” asked Johnny. “Young Shawley says you were in a taxicab, with Slim’s white sweater on – ”
“Yes, we changed clothes. That is, I put on Slim’s sweater and he put on my coat and an old felt hat I was wearing. You see, they’d already seen Slim with that sweater on, and so they’d be looking for it again. I got in the taxi on Market street and Slim walked away around by Morrison street, coming back on Moody. We’d fixed ‘zero hour’ at seven fifteen so he’d have time to get to the corner when I did. Of course the freshies thought I was Slim as soon as they saw the white sweater, and I didn’t show myself before I had to. Slim just walked into the crowd, with my hat pulled down over his face, and while the freshies were all clustered around the taxi he sauntered along down the street, no one paying any attention to him. It was as easy as pie.”
“Sure, I wish I’d been there,” chuckled Johnny. “And they say you butted a cop out of your way afterwards and no one could stop you!”
“I didn’t butt him. He made a dive at me and I side-stepped, showing the value of football training, Johnny.”
“Did you have a good dinner?”
“Did we? Wow! And, gee, I was so hungry I couldn’t eat fast enough. We didn’t get through until half-past nine, pretty nearly!”
“I suppose you heard about Renneker and Jimsy Carnochan?” asked Johnny.
“No. Who’s Jimsy – Oh, I remember! What’s happened?”
“Sure, nothing much – yet,” answered Johnny, “but I’m fearing something may. It seems that Jimsy and a couple of other town fellows were coming along River street last night when Renneker and Red Reilly and three or four other chaps were coming back to school. They’d been over watching the freshies, you know.”
“I know; we passed them,” assented Leonard.
“Well, I got it from Jimsy this forenoon after church. According to his tell, our gang was taking up the whole sidewalk, walking five or six abreast, maybe, and one of the fellows with Jimsy objected and shoved into them, and there were some words. Jimsy says the juniors started the trouble, but maybe he’s prejudiced. Anyhow, he and Renneker squared off and punched each other a couple of times, no harm being done, do you see, and the others shoving in spoiling it. From what Jimsy says, I get it that Renneker laughed and wanted to shake hands, and Jimsy was still ugly. He’s that way when he’s mad. He said something to Renneker about ‘having the goods on him,’ and then Renneker and the others went on. Well, now Jimsy’s awfully sore, General, and I’m fearful he’ll be telling what he knows around town, and it’ll get to the Academy. I argued with him, but he’s stubborn. There’s English blood in him, I’m thinking.”
Leonard laughed. “That’s what makes him stubborn, eh?”
Johnny grinned. “Sure it is,” he answered stoutly. “Every one knows the English are mules for stubbornness.”
“Oh, well, he’ll probably get over his grouch,” said Leonard cheerfully. “And, even if he should spill the beans, it wouldn’t be likely to reach faculty’s ears.”
“Maybe not,” allowed Johnny. “Not that I’d trouble much if it did, for it looks to me like this big fellow isn’t any marvel, anyway, and some one else might play his position fully as well and maybe better.” He looked meaningly at Leonard, but the latter chose to disregard the insinuation.
“Gordon Renneker’s playing a lot better game than he did awhile back, Johnny. Yesterday he was corking in the last part of the game with New Falmouth.”
“It might be,” Johnny admitted. “I didn’t go. But if I was you I’d be sort of glad if Renneker wasn’t around, General.”
“Oh, nonsense! There’s still Stimson and Raleigh and Falls.”
“You’ve got Raleigh and Falls beat right now,” declared the other with deep conviction. “And I wouldn’t wonder if you could play as good a game as either of the others, in spite you aren’t so big.”
“You’re crazy,” laughed Leonard. “Anyway, Johnny, I’m not kicking. I do think that Mr. Cade will give me a show in the Oak Grove game next Saturday, and if I make good in that it’s likely I’ll get into the Kenly Hall fracas for a time.”
“This Oak Grove game’s the last before the big one, isn’t it?” mused Johnny. Leonard nodded. “Then you’ve got only the two weeks,” continued the other reflectively. “Man, you’ve got to work! My money’s on you, though, General, and whether this big fellow is playing or isn’t playing I’ll be looking for you to be right there when the last fight starts.”
“I wish I had your confidence, Johnny,” laughed Leonard. “Unless by ‘right there’ you mean on the bench.”
“I do not,” said Johnny decisively. “I mean playing at right guard or left and giving the other fellows what-for!”
“Oh, well, I hope you’re right.”
“I know I’m right.”
“Any English blood in you?” asked Leonard.
Yet on Monday it almost seemed that Johnny’s hopefulness was not without cause, for Leonard found himself treated with a new – well, deference is hardly the word: let us say respect, although even that word is scarcely the right one. Call it what you like, however, and the fact remains that the new order of things entailed much harder work than Leonard had done before. With less than two weeks remaining before the final contest of the season, Coach Cade appeared to be striving to present a team of worn-out and exhausted cripples for Kenly Hall’s amusement. Yet, probably because he had brought them along fairly slowly so far, the players proved capable of performing a lot of work and receiving a lot of punishment in that fortnight. The time had come to round off the corners, to smooth down the rough places, to acquire subtleties without forgetting fundamentals. There were new plays to learn, too, and, a little later, new signals. Perhaps Leonard worked no harder than any one else; perhaps, because he had more to learn, it just seemed harder. But he got on famously. There was no doubt about that. He was fast and mettlesome and used his head. By the last of the week he had been accepted by those in the know – and some who weren’t – as a certain performer against Kenly Hall. When he spoke of sore muscles or contused shins or strained ligaments Slim browbeat him shamefully.
“What of it?” Slim would demand fiercely. “Expect to play football without getting bruised a little? Don’t be a pill. Why, you’ve got Renneker and Stimson lying awake nights trying to think up some way of beating you! Here, let’s see your old leg. Where’s that bottle of arnica? Hold still, you silly ass! Sure, I knows it hurts, but you needn’t throw a fit about it!”
“Fit yourself!” Leonard would snap indignantly, being thoroughly weary and sore all over. “Look at the way you went on when you got a black eye that time!”
“It wasn’t the bruise I minded, it was simply the damage to my manly beauty. These sore places of yours won’t ever show, General, even if you play in a bathing-suit!”
Then, on Friday, Jimsy Carnochan returned from a brief visit to New London and took his pen in hand, thereby considerably “gumming up” the Alton Academy football situation.
To Jimsy’s credit be it said that he didn’t hide behind any such anonymity as “A Friend” or “Wellwisher” or “Fair Play.” No, sir, Jimsy came right out and signed the bottom of that chirographic bombshell plainly with his name, thus: “James Duffy Carnochan.” It was a bombshell, too, if for no other reason than that it exploded so unexpectedly. It was addressed to Coach Cade, and it reached that already harassed gentleman by the first mail delivery on Saturday morning. It ran as follows:
You might like to know that one of your football players isn’t eligible to play on your team. His name is Renneker but it wasn’t that last August when he played first baseman for the Maple Leafs baseball team of New London, it was George Ralston. He got twenty-five dollars for playing first baseman and if you don’t believe it please communicate with John Worrall in Care Broady Silk Mill, New London. Worrall managed the Maple Leafs and paid the money to Ralston or Renneker cash before the game started, as he will tell you. I guess he can’t deny it anyway, not if you ask him right out.
Wishing you a successful season,
James Duffy Carnochan.
Coach Cade frowned, read the epistle a second time, laughed shortly and thrust it into a pocket. He had received similar communications before to-day, sometimes written in good faith, sometimes purely mischievous. Then he reflected that here must be an example of the former sort, since the writer had not only signed his name but, evidently as an after-thought, placed an address on the flap of the envelope. Nevertheless, in the press of other matters Coach Cade forgot the letter for several hours, and it wasn’t until he pulled it forth from his pocket when seeking another document that he recalled its annoying existence. This was just after early dinner was over at training table, and Gordon Renneker was still in sight by the dining hall door. The coach excused himself to Tod Tenney and made after the player.
“Renneker,” he said, overtaking the big fellow just outside the hall, “got a minute to spare?”
Renneker assented and followed the other along the path that led around to the gymnasium. Coach Cade produced the letter and handed it to Renneker. “Got that in the morning’s mail,” he explained. “I’m not taking any stock in it, you understand, but you’d better see it.”
Gordon Renneker read the epistle through calmly and handed it back, with a smile. The smile, however, was not quite natural, and the coach noted the fact. “Well,” he asked, “what about it?”
“I’d say,” replied Renneker, “it’s a case of mistaken identity.”
“Probably,” agreed Johnny, eyeing him sharply nevertheless. “I presume you never played baseball on this team?”
“No,” answered the other. The coach waited for further words, but Renneker seemed to have finished with the subject. The coach frowned. He put the letter back into a pocket.
“Know this fellow Carnochan?” he asked.
“No. I never heard of him before.”
“H’m, funny he has it in for you, then.”
Renneker shrugged. “He may know me, Coach,” he suggested. “I think I’ll look the beggar up and ask him what’s on his mind. What’s the address? Mind if I have the letter?”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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