Ralph Barbour.

Right Guard Grant





Leonard viewed him scathingly. Honest, Renneker, he replied with slow and painstaking enunciation, you give me an acute pain!

Renneker smiled more broadly. Good boy! Speak your mind! However, if youll stop being peeved and think a minute youll see that it wouldnt do to upset Johnnys apple-cart at this late hour. Besides, I havent brought my togs, and couldnt play decently if I had. Why, I havent practiced for a week, Grant.

You dont need practice, responded Leonard earnestly. A fellow like you

The dickens I dont! scoffed Renneker. Im as stiff as a crutch. Be a good fellow, Grant, and stop scolding. Renneker looked at the letter in his hand, returned it to its envelope and placed it back in his pocket with a smile of resignation. Just plain nut, he said. Thats what he is.

Leonard, watching, was suddenly realizing that this new acquaintance of his was a very likeable chap and that, although he did feel thoroughly out of patience with him just now, he was getting to have a sort of affection for him. Of course he wouldnt have had Renneker suspect the fact for an instant, but there it was! The big fellows story seemed to explain a good deal, such as, for instance, that the calm superiority affected by him had really been a blind to conceal the fact that he was secretly in a state of nervous apprehension, in short a colossal bluff that not even Coach Cade had had the nerve to call! It must have been, Leonard reflected sympathetically, rather a job to play good football and know that at any moment exposure might occur. And, after all, that letter of George Rennekers had rather won Leonard. Of course the fellow was an irresponsible, hair-brained ass, but, nevertheless, the reader had seemed to find something likeable in the writer of that amazing epistle, and he understood somewhat better why Gordon had felt it worth while to protect George even at the cost of his own undoing. He wasnt frowning any longer when Renneker looked back from a momentary inspection of the flying landscape beyond the car window. Renneker must have noted the change, for he asked:

Decided to overlook my transgressions?

Leonard nodded, smiling faintly. Yes, although I still think youre all wrong. Let me tell you one thing, too. If if he stumbled a little there if youre doing this because you think Id be be disappointed about not playing, Renneker, you can just quit it right now. I never expected to play in this game anyhow, I havent for a good while and it wont mean a thing to me if I dont. So if thats it, or if that has anything to do with it

My dear chap, replied Renneker soothingly, when you know me better youll realize that Im not a Sir Launcelot or a a Galahad. Rest quite easy.

It wasnt, though, a positive denial, and Leonard was by no means convinced. He looked doubtfully, even suspiciously at the somewhat quizzical countenance of the other and subsided.

And then a trainman banged open a door and shouted La-a-akeville! Lakeville! and Leonard hurried back for his suit-case.

They went to the hotel for luncheon, walking up from the station and pretending they didnt know that they were objects of interest all the way along the five blocks. There remained the better part of an hour before the meal was to be served, and after depositing their bags in the room that was to serve them for dressing purposes, most of the party descended again to the street and set off to see the town. Slim claimed Leonard as his companion, but Leonard begged off rather mysteriously and Slim set out a trifle huffily in company with Appel and Menge. Leonard then set out to find Mr. Cade, and after several unsuccessful inquiries had failed to discover that gentleman, Tod Tenney came skipping down the stairs and, his escape blocked by Leonard, revealed the fact that Mr. Cade and Mr. Fadden were in Room 17. Leonard, likewise scorning the snail-like elevator, climbed the stairs and found the room. Mr. Cades voice answered his knock. The coach and his associate were sitting in straight-back chairs in front of a long window, their feet on the sill and pipes going busily. Mr. Fadden looked around, waving the smoke clouds from before him with the newspaper he held, and said sotto voce: One of the boys, Cade.

Can I speak to you a moment, sir? asked Leonard.

Mr. Cades feet came down from the sill with a bang and he swung around. Oh, hello, Grant! Why, certainly. Anything wrong?

No, sir. Its about He hesitated and glanced dubiously at Mr. Fadden.

Oh, thats all right, laughed Mr. Cade. You can speak before Mr. Fadden. Pull up that chair and sit down first.

Leonard obeyed, occupying, however, only some six inches of the chairs surface. Its about Gordon Renneker, sir, he began again.

Renneker? The coach looked interested at once. What about Renneker, Grant?

Well Leonard stopped and started anew: Wouldnt it help us a lot, Mr. Cade, if he played to-day?

Probably, but I thought it was understood that Renneker was er out of football. Whats on your mind?

I cant explain it very well, answered Leonard, because I promised not to speak about about part of it. That makes it difficult. He looked at Mr. Cade and then at Mr. Fadden as though seeking assistance. Mr. Cade frowned perplexedly.

Im afraid I cant help you, Grant, for I dont know what youre trying to get at. If youre troubled about Renneker not playing, why, Ill have to tell you that there isnt anything you can do about that. Were looking for you to see to it that he isnt missed, Grant. And we think you can do it.

Leonard shook his head. That isnt it, sir. I know something that I cant tell, because I promised not to. He stopped and strove to arrange matters in his mind. He wished he had composed a statement before coming. Regarding all that Renneker had revealed to him last evening his lips were sealed. It was only about what had transpired this morning that he was not sworn to silence. It was, though, hard to keep the two apart, and he didnt want to break his promise. Mr. Cade, watching him intently, waited in patience. Mr. Fadden puffed hard at his pipe, silently friendly. Leonard rushed the hurdle.

If youll tell Renneker that you want to read a letter he received this morning, sir, he blurted, youll understand.

Tell him I want to read a letter he received? repeated the coach in puzzled tones. But why should I, Grant?

Why, because when you do read it, and Renneker has explained it, you he why, sir, he can play this afternoon!

Oh! said Mr. Cade thoughtfully. After an instant he said: Look here, Grant, you must know a whole lot about this business of Rennekers.

Leonard nodded. Yes, sir, I know all about it. I I knew about it before you did.

The coach gazed at him curiously, opened his lips as if to speak, closed them again and glanced questioningly at Mr. Fadden.

Better see Renneker and get it cleared up, said the second team coach oracularly. Where theres so much smoke there must be some fire. Lets get at it.

All right. He turned to Leonard again. I suppose you realize that if Renneker plays right guard to-day you dont, Grant. At least, not long, probably.

Yes, sir, but Rennekers a lot better than I am, and if he can play it doesnt matter about me, does it?

Hm, no, I suppose it doesnt. Well, Im much obliged to you, my boy. Whether anything comes of this or doesnt, I quite understand that youve tried to help us. Do you know where Renneker is just now?

No, sir, not exactly. He went out right after we reached the hotel. I I guess I could find him.

Do it, will you? Tell him tell him whatever you think best. You know more about this mystery than we do. Only see that he gets here right away. Thanks, Grant.

Could I tell him that you and Mr. Fadden want to see him to talk to him about the game? asked Leonard. If he suspected anything he might not want to come.

The mystery deepens! sighed Mr. Cade. But tell him that by all means. Its totally and literally true. Just see that he comes a-running!

Lakeville was in gala attire. Cherry-and-black pennants and bunting adorned the store windows, and beyond the casement of the towns principal haberdasher the appropriate colors were massed in a display of neckties and mufflers. Here and there the rival hues of gray-and-gold were shown, but it was not until the arrival of the Alton rooters that Lakeville became noticeably leavened with the brighter tints. Leonard encountered Billy Wells and Sam Butler just outside the hotel, but neither of them had seen Gordon Renneker lately, and Leonard went on up the busy street on his quest. He discovered Slim and three others admiring the contents of a bake shop window and bore Slim away with him.

Weve got to find Renneker, he announced anxiously.

I dont see why, objected Slim. Im going to be just as happy, General, if I never set eyes on him again.

Dry up and come on. Mr. Cade wants him right off.

Mr. Cade has strange fancies, murmured Slim, but he accelerated his steps. Been over to the school grounds?

No, I havent had time. Isnt that no, it isnt. It did look like him, back-to.

It looks like him front-to, replied Slim, except that this guy is about forty-five and has different features and has lost some of his hair and wears glasses

Oh, for the love of mud, shut up, Slim! And do look around, cant you? I tell you this is important.

I do wish I could feel it so, said Slim exasperatingly, but I just cant get up any enthusiasm for the chase. Besides, its getting perilously close to chow time, and were going in the wrong direction and

There he is! Leonard left Slim abruptly and darted across the street, narrowly escaping the ignominy of being run down by a rattling flivver adorned with cherry-and-black pennants. Gordon Renneker had just emerged from a doorway above which hung a black-and-gold sign announcing Olympic Lunch Room Good Eats, and still held in one hand the larger part of a cheese sandwich.

Say, what the Renneker stared in amazement from Leonard to the sandwich now lying in unappetizing fragments on the sidewalk.

Awfully sorry, panted Leonard, but youre wanted at the hotel right away. Room 17.

Im wanted? What for? Leonard saw suspicion creeping into Rennekers eyes.

Mr. Cade and Mr. Fadden, he answered quickly and glibly. They told me to tell you they wanted to see you about the game right away.

Flattering, said Renneker. Oh, all right. Wait till I get another sandwich

You mustnt, declared Leonard. Its almost lunch time, and theyre waiting for you, and theyll be mad if you dont come quick! He pulled Renneker away from the lunch room doorway and guided him rapidly toward the hotel. From across the street a perplexed and insulted Slim watched them disappear.

Abandoned! he muttered. Adrift in a strange and cruel city! Heaven help me!

CHAPTER XXIII
FIFTY-FIFTY!

Leonard sat on the bench on the Alton side of the field and watched the kickers at work. There had been a good ten minutes of signal drill for both squads and now only the punters and drop-kickers remained on the gridiron. The game was about to start. Across the field the Kenly Hall sections were cheering loudly each member of their team in turn. The officials were talking earnestly on the side-line. Something white fluttered across Leonards shoulder from the stand above and behind him and settled at his feet. He stooped and picked it up. It proved to be the two middle pages of the official program. He looked around to see if any one would claim it. But no one did and he settled back and regarded the thing. On each page, where they had faced each other before they had torn loose, were the line-ups of the teams, Alton to the left, Kenly Hall to the right, each boxed in by advertisements of local enterprises: White Swan Laundry Special Rates to Academy Men You Cant Go Wrong, Fellows! Bell and Falk, Photographers to All Classes Since 1912. Lakeville Pressing Club Best and Quickest Service in the City Leonards attention wandered to the column of names in the center of the page. Alton, he read. Staples, left end; Butler, left tackle; Stimson, left guard; Newton, center; Grant, right guard; Wells, right tackle; Emerson, Capt., right end; Appel, quarterback; Menge, left halfback; Reilly, right halfback; Greenwood, fullback.

His gaze crossed to the opposite list: Hanley, left end; Pope, left tackle; Tinkner, left guard; Henderson, center Interest waned, and he returned to the first row of names; especially to the fifth from the top. This was the first time Leonard had ever seen his name in a regular program, to say nothing of one with a colored cover and costing fifteen cents, and he was pardonably thrilled. It was, he reflected, something to have your name down in the line-up, even if you didnt play!

And Leonard wasnt going to play; at least, not much. He felt pretty confident of getting into the game long enough to secure his letter, and, if luck was with him, he might even play for five minutes or ten, supposing Renneker or Stimson failed to last. But, in spite of the official program, Renneker was right guard to-day and not Grant.

Leonard didnt know what had taken place in Room 17 just before luncheon, what arguments Mr. Cade had used, but he did know that Renneker had capitulated. He hadnt spoken to Renneker since, for they had sat at different tables at luncheon and afterwards all had been hurry and bustle, with some of the fellows riding to the field in jitneys and others walking. Leonard had walked, with Slim and Perry Stimson and Red Reilly. The conversation had been mostly about Renneker, for that youth had appeared a few moments before in a football costume of borrowed togs and Manager Tenney had spread the joyous news that the big fellow was to play. Stimson and Reilly did most of the speculating, for Slim, although clearly puzzled, knew so much that he was afraid to discuss the matter lest he say too much, and Leonard kept discreetly silent and was supposed by the others to be too disappointed to find words. Slim evidently suspected Leonard of being in the know, but there was no chance to charge him with it. Stimson and Reilly were much pleased by the reinstatement of Renneker, although they charitably strove to disguise the fact out of sympathy for Leonard.

Only once had Leonard come face to face with Gordon Renneker, and then it was in the crowded lobby of the hotel. Leonards look of mingled defiance and apology had been answered by an eloquent shrug of Rennekers broad shoulders and a hopeless shake of the head. But the big fellow wasnt really angry, and Leonard was glad of that. Leonard had had several qualms of conscience since that visit to Room 17, and it had required much argument to convince himself that he had not, after all, violated a confidence.

Across the sunlit field the Kenly Hall band of seven pieces broke into sound again, and a drum boomed loudly and a cornet blared and the cheering section was off on a ribald song that ended with:


And the foe turned Gray when it came to pass
What looked like Gold was only brass!

The gridiron emptied. From the further side-line a man in a white sweater advanced with a khaki-clad youth whose stockings were ringed with cherry-red and black. Captain Emerson walked out and met them. The rival leaders shook hands. A silver coin caught the sunlight as it spun aloft and dropped to the turf. Captain Growe, of Kenly, pointed toward the west goal and the little group broke up. A minute later the teams were in place and the cheering was stilled. The referees voice floated across on the northerly breeze:

Are you ready, Captain Emerson?.. Ready, Captain Growe?

A whistle piped and Kenly kicked off at two minutes past two.

Twenty-five minutes and some seconds later, when the first period ended, several facts had become apparent to Leonard, watching unblinkingly from the bench. One was that Alton and Kenly were about as evenly matched in power and skill as any two teams could be. Another was that, whichever won, the final score was going to be very small. And the third was that Gordon Renneker was playing the kind of football to-day that had won him a place on the All-Scholastic Team!

With the wind, scarcely more than a strong breeze, behind her in that first quarter, Kenly played a kicking game. But with the rival ends as closely matched as they were to-day her punts won her little advantage. Cricket Menge and Bee Appel always ran them back for fair distances before they were thrown, and Joe Greenwood, returning the punts, got almost equal ground. Each team tried out the opposing line systematically without discovering any especially weak places. Each team found that running the ends was no certain way to gain. The ball changed hands again and again, hovering over the middle of the field. Twice Alton made her first down and twice Kenly did the same. Alton was penalized once for holding and Kenly was set back twice for off-side. Each team made two attempts at forward-passing and each failed to gain a foot by that method. When the quarter ended honors were even.

The second period started out to be a duplicate of the first. There was a heart-thrilling moment when Dill, of Kenly, made the first real run of the day by leaking past Captain Emerson and eluding Reilly and placing the pigskin eleven yards nearer the Alton goal. Yet, to counter that, the Kenly attack was thrice spilled before it got well started and the Cherry-and-Black was forced to punt again. Menge was hurt in a tackle and Kendall took his place. Alton braced near her thirty-one yards and carried the ball across the center line, concentrating on the left of the enemys line and alternating with Kendall and Greenwood. But just inside Kenly territory the advance petered out and a long forward to Slim Staples grounded and Kendall punted over the goal-line.

A few minutes later Alton again got the pigskin on her forty-seven and began a punting game. With the wind behind him, Kendall was good for something more than five yards better than the Kenly punter, and after four exchanges the wisdom of the switch was evident, for Alton found herself in possession of the ball on Kenlys thirty-eight yards, following a four yard run-back by Appel. An attack on left tackle netted a scant two yards, and on second down Kendall once more went back to kicking position. The play, however, proved a short heave over the line that Reilly couldnt reach. From the same formation Kendall tried to get around the left on a wide run but was forced out for no gain. With the ball too far over on the side of the field for an attempt at a goal, Greenwood took Kendalls place and Kenly covered her backfield for a punt. But Appel was crafty, the enemy had scattered her secondary defense and the unexpected happened. The ball went to Reilly, and Red dashed straight ahead through a comfortably wide hole opened for him by Renneker and Wells and put the pigskin down on the twenty-seven!

Pandemonium reigned on the south stands. Alton hoarsely demanded a touchdown and Gray-and-Gold pennants waved and fluttered. On the bench below, Leonard clenched his hands on his knees and watched with straining gaze. There was time out for Kenly and a fresh player went in at right half. Then Alton lined up again and Appels shrill voice called the signal.

It was Kendall back once more, but Greenwood got the ball and dug through for something less than two yards. On the same play he got one more, placing the pigskin just over Kenlys twenty-five-yard line. Then a play designed for just such a situation, a play that had been practiced until it went as smoothly as a lot of oiled cogs, was called for. Kendall was still eight yards back, Appel knelt before him to take the ball from Newton and Kenly was on her toes to break through. And then something happened. One of the cogs slipped, perhaps. At all events, the ball never arose from Kendalls toe, and when the whistle blew the Alton quarterback was found at the bottom of the pile with the pigskin desperately clutched in his arms. The perfect play had gone agley, and instead of a deceptive end run by quarter, with fullback swinging at empty air, it was fourth down for a six yard loss!

And then, while the Alton stands were blankly confronting the sudden change in affairs, while Leonard was heaving a sigh that had seemed to come from the very cleats of his shoes, Appel was piping his signal again, undismayed, as it seemed by the misfortune. Now it was Captain Emerson back, with Kenly somehow suspecting a forward-pass instead of the threatened drop-kick. Well, a drop-kick from somewhere around the thirty-seven yards, even with a breeze behind the kicker, did look fishy. And yet that is just what followed. If Jim Newton had been at fault before and he may not have been, for all I know he was perfect now. The ball went back breast-high, was dropped leisurely and sped off and up and over! And Alton had scored at last and some four hundred wearers of the Gray-and-Gold became hysterically joyful!





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