Ralph Barbour.

Right Guard Grant





There is, but Dick never joined. He said they were amateurs. What do you say to supper? Oh, by the way, you were out for football, werent you? Whats your line?

Ive played guard mostly.

Guard, eh? Slim looked him over appraisingly. Sort of light, arent you?

I guess so, allowed Leonard. Of course, I dont expect to make the first; that is, this year.

Slim grinned wickedly. No, but youll be fit to tie if you dont. Take me now. Last year I was on the second. Left end. Im only a soph, and sophs on the big team are as scarce as hens teeth. So, of course, I havent the ghost of a show and absolutely no hope of making it. But if I dont theres going to be a heap of trouble around here!

Well, I suppose I have a sneaking hope, acknowledged Leonard, smiling.

Sure. Might as well be honest with yourself. As for playing guard, well, if you got hold of a suit about three sizes too large for you, stuffed it out with cotton-batting and put heel-lifts in your shoes you might stand a show. Or you might if it wasnt for this fellow Renneker. I dare say youve heard about him? Hes ab-so-lutively sure of one guard position or the other. And then theres Smedley and Squibbs and Raleigh and Stimson and two-three more maybe If I were you, General, Id switch to end or quarter.

Oh, I wouldnt want to elbow you out, laughed Leonard.

Thats right. Slim grinned. Try quarter then. Weve got only two in sight so far.

Leonard shook his head. Guards my job, he said. Ill plug along at it. I might get on the second, I dare say. And next year The trouble is, I cant seem to grow much, Staples!

Better call me Slim. Everybody else does. Well, you know your own business best. Only, if you tell Johnny that you belong to the Guards Union and that the rules wont allow you to play anything else, why, Im awfully afraid that the only thing youll get to guard will be the bench! Lets go to chow.

At the door of the dining hall they parted, for Slims table was not Leonards. But, said the former, I guess we can fix that to-morrow. There are a couple of guys at our table that dont fit very well. Ill arrange with one of them to switch. Care to go over to Macs this evening? Being a newcomer, youre sort of expected to. Theyll be mostly freshies, but we dont have to stay long. Ill pick you up at the room about eight.

Under Slims guidance Leonard went across to the Principals house at a little after the appointed hour and took his place in the line that led through the front portal and past where Doctor McPherson and Mrs. McPherson were receiving. Slim introduced the stranger and then hustled him away into the library. Might as well do it all up brown, he observed sotto voce. Met any of the animals yet?

Animals? repeated Leonard vaguely.

Faculty, explained Slim. All right. Well find most of em in here. They can see the dining room from here, youll observe, and so they sort of stand around, ready to rush the minute the flag goes down.

Not so many here yet. Try to look serious and intellectual; they like it. Mr. Screven, I want you to meet my friend Grant. General, this is Mr. Screven. And Mr. Metcalf. Mr. Metcalf wrote the French and Spanish languages, General.

If I had, Staples, Id have written them more simply, so you could learn them, replied the instructor with a twinkle.

Touche! murmured Slim. Honest, though, I wasnt so rotten, was I, sir?

You might have been much worse, Staples. Dont ask me to say more.

Well, Ill make a real hit with you this year, sir. They say Sophomore French is a cinch.

I trust youll find it so, replied Mr. Metcalf genially. Where is your home, Mr. Grant?

Presently Slims hand tugged him away to meet Mr. Tarbot and Mr. Kincaid and Mr. Peghorn, by which time Leonard couldnt remember which was which, although Slims running comment, en route from one to another, was designed to aid his friends memory. Peghorns physics, appraised Slim. You wont have him, not this year. Hes a bit deaf. Left ears the best one. Dont let him nail you or hell talk you to death. Here we are.

There were others later, but Leonard obtained sustenance before meeting them, for Slim so skillfully maneuvered that when the dining room doors were thrown open only a mere half-dozen guests beat him to the table. To the credit of the faculty be it said that Mr. Kincaid only lost first place by a nose. The refreshments were satisfactory if not elaborate and Slim worked swiftly and methodically, and presently, their plates well piled with sandwiches, cake and ice-cream, the two retired to a corner. The entering class was large that fall and, since not a few of the other classes were well represented, the Doctors modest residence was crowded. Slim observed pessimistically that he had never seen a sorrier looking lot of freshies.

How about last year? asked Leonard innocently.

The entering class last year, replied Slim with dignity, was remarkably intelligent and um prepossessing. Every one spoke of it. Even members of the class themselves noticed it. Want another slice of cake?

Leonard rather pitied some of the new boys. They looked so timid and unhappy, he thought. Most of them had no acquaintances as yet, and although the faculty members and some of the older fellows worked hard to put them at their ease they continued looking like lost souls. Even ice-cream and cake failed to banish their embarrassment. The Principals wife, good soul, haled them from dark corners and talked to them brightly and cheerfully while she thrust plates of food into their numbed hands, but so soon as her back was turned they fled nervously to cover again, frequently losing portions of their refreshments on the way. Reflecting that even he might do some small part to lighten the burden of gloom that oppressed them, he broached the subject to Slim when that youth had returned with another generous wedge of cake. But Slim shook his head.

I wouldnt, he said. Honestly, General, theyre a lot happier left alone. Im supposed to be on the welcome committee myself, but Im not working at it much. Fact is, those poor fish had a lot rather you didnt take any notice of them. They just get red in the face and fall over their feet if you speak to em. I know, for I was one myself last year!

Somehow, mused Leonard, I cant imagine it.

Cant you now? Slim chuckled. I want you to know that the shrinking violet hasnt a thing on me. Chuck your plate somewhere and lets beat it. Theres no hope of seconds!

Back in Number 12 Haylow they changed to pajamas and lolled by the window, through which a fair imitation of a cooling breeze occasionally wandered, and proceeded to get acquainted. It wasnt hard. By ten oclock, when the light went out, they were firm friends and tried.

The business of settling down consumed several days, and as the Fall Term at Alton Academy began on a Thursday it was Monday before Leonard really found himself. Slim was of great assistance to him in the operation and saved him many false moves and unnecessary steps. As both boys were in the same class Leonard had only to copy Slims schedule and, during the first day, follow Slim dutifully from one recitation room to another, at the end of each trip renewing Wednesday evenings acquaintance with one or another of the faculty members, though at a distance. In various other matters Slim was invaluable. Thursday evening Leonard took his place at Slims table and so enlarged his circle of speaking acquaintances by eight. Several of the occupants of the board Leonard recognized as football candidates. There was, for instance, Wells, universally known as Billy, heir apparent to the position of left tackle, and Joe Greenwood, who might fairly be called heir presumptive to the fullback position, only one Ray Goodwin thus far showing a better right. There was, also, Leo Falls, who, like Leonard, was a candidate for guard. Thus, five out of the ten were football players, a fact which not only made for camaraderie, but provided a never-failing subject for conversation. Of the others at the table, two were freshmen, likeable youngsters, Leonard thought; one was a sober-faced senior named Barton, and the other two were juniors who, being the sole representatives of their class there, were banded together in an offensive and defensive alliance that, in spite of its lack of numbers, was well able to hold its own when the question of class supremacy was debated. On the whole, they were a jolly set, and Leonard was thankful to Slim for securing him admission to them; even though, as Slim reminded him, several of them would be yanked off to the training table not later than next week.

What the others thought of Leonard the latter didnt know, but they seemed to take to him readily. Perhaps the fact that he was sponsored by Slim had something to do with it, for Slim, as Leonard soon noted, was a favorite, not only at his table but throughout the school in general. (The fact that Slim was President of the Sophomore Class was something that Leonard didnt learn until he had been rooming with the former for nearly three weeks; and then it wasnt Slim who divulged it.) I dont mean to convey the idea that Leonard was unduly exercised about the impression he made on his new friends, but no fellow can help wanting to be liked or speculate somewhat about what others think of him. After a few days, though, he became quite satisfied. By that time no one at the board was any longer calling him Grant. He was General. Slims nickname had struck the popular fancy and gave every sign of sticking throughout Leonards stay at school.

There wasnt anything especially striking about the newcomer, unless, perhaps, it was a certain wholesomeness; which Slim, had he ever been required to tell what had drawn him to his new chum, would have mentioned first. Leonard was of average height, breadth and weight. He had good enough features, but no one would ever have thought to call him handsome. His hair was of an ordinary shade of brown, straight and inclined to be unruly around the ears and neck; his eyes were brown, too, though a shade or two darker; perhaps his eyes were his best feature, if there was a best, for they did have a sort of faculty for lighting up when he became interested or deeply amused; his nose was straight as far as it went, but it stopped a trifle too soon to satisfy the demands of the artist; his mouth was just like any other mouth, I suppose; that is, like any other normal mouth; and he had a chin that went well with his somewhat square jaw, with a scarcely noticeable elevation in the middle of it that Slim referred to as an inverted dimple. Just a normal, healthy youngster of sixteen, was Leonard sixteen verging closely on seventeen rather better developed muscularly than the average boy of his years, perhaps, but with nothing about him to demand a second glance; or certainly not a third. He didnt dress particularly well, for his folks werent over-supplied with wealth, but he managed to make the best of a limited wardrobe and always looked particularly clean. He was inclined to be earnest at whatever he set out to do, but he liked to laugh and did it frequently, and did it in a funny gurgling way that caused others to laugh with him and at him.

He might have made his way into the Junior Class at Alton had he tutored hard the previous summer, but as he had not known he was going there until a fortnight before, that wasnt possible. His presence at the academy was the unforeseen result of having spent the summer with his Uncle Emory. Uncle Emory, his mothers brother, lived up in Pennsylvania and for many years had displayed no interest in the doings of his relatives. The idea of visiting Uncle Emory and working for his board had come to Leonard after Tim Walsh, football coach at the high school, had mentioned farm work as one of the short paths to physical development. Rather to the surprise of the rest of the family, Uncle Emorys reply to Leonards suggestion had been almost cordial. Uncle Emory had proved much less of the bear than the boy had anticipated and before long the two were very good friends. By the terms of the agreement, Leonard was to receive board and lodging and seventy-five cents a day in return for his services. What he did receive, when the time for leaving the farm arrived, was ninety-three dollars, being wages due him, and a bonus of one hundred.

And now, asked Uncle Emory, what are you doing to do with it?

Leonard didnt know. He was far too surprised to make plans on such short notice.

Well, continued Uncle Emory, why dont you find yourself a good school that dont ask too much money and fit yourself for college? I aint claiming that your fathers made a big success as a lawyer, but you might, and I sort of think its in your blood. You show me that you mean business, Len, and Ill sort of look out for you, leastways till youre through school.

So that is the way it had happened, suddenly and unexpectedly and gorgeously. The hundred and ninety-three dollars, less Leonards expenses home, hadnt been enough to see him through the year at Alton, but his father had found the balance that was needed without much difficulty, and here he was. He knew that this year was provided for and knew that, if he satisfied Uncle Emory of his earnestness, there would be two more years to follow. Also, a fact that had not escaped Leonard, there were scholarship funds to be had if one worked hard enough. He had already set his mind on winning one of the five available to Sophomore Class members. As to the Law as a profession, Leonard hadnt yet made up his mind. Certainly his father had made no fortune from it, but, on the other hand, there were men right in Loring Point who had prospered exceedingly thereby. But that decision could wait. Meanwhile he meant to study hard, win a scholarship and make good in the eyes of Uncle Emory. And he meant to play as hard as he worked, which was an exceedingly good plan, and hadnt yet discerned any very good reason for not doing that on the Alton Academy Football Team!

CHAPTER V
THE BOY ON THE PORCH

He liked the school immensely and the fellows in it. And he liked the town, with its tree-shaded streets and comfortable old white houses. A row of the latter faced the Academy from across the asphalt thoroughfare below the sloping campus, home-like residences set in turf and gardens, guarded by huge elms and maples. Beyond them began, a block further east, the stores. One could get nearly anything he wanted in the two short blocks of West street, without journeying closer to the center of town. In school parlance this shopping district was known as Bagdad. Further away one found moving picture houses in variety. Northward at some distance lay the river, and under certain not too painful restrictions one might enjoy boating and canoeing. On Sunday Alton rang with the peeling of church bells and Bagdad was empty of life save, perhaps, for a shrill-voiced purveyor of newspapers from whom one could obtain for a dime an eight-section New York paper with which to litter the floor after the return from church. On that first Sunday Slim acted as guide and Leonard learned what lay around and about. They penetrated to the sidewalk-littered foreign quarter beyond the railroad, where Slim tried modern Greek on a snappily-attired gentleman who to-morrow would be presiding over a hat cleaning emporium. The result was not especially favorable. Either Slims knowledge of Greek was too limited or, as he explained it, the other chap didnt know his own language. Then they wandered southward, to the Hill, and viewed the ornate mansions of the newly rich. Here were displayed tapestry brick and terra cotta, creamy limestone and colorful tile, pergolas and stained glass, smooth lawns and concrete walks, immaculate hedges and dignified shrubs. Being a newer part of town, the trees along the streets were small and threw little shade on the sun-heated pavement, and this, combined with the fact that to reach the Hill one had of necessity to negotiate a grade, left the boys rather out of breath and somewhat too warm for comfort. On the whole, Leonard liked the older part of Alton much better, and confided the fact to his companion.

So do I, agreed Slim. Of course these places up here have a lot of things the old houses lack; like tennis courts and garages and sleeping porches; but theres an old white house on River street, just around the corner from Academy, that hits me about right. Ill show it to you some time. I guess its about a hundred years old; more, likely; but, gee, its a corking old place. When I have a house of my own, General, none of these young city halls or Carnegie libraries for mine! I want a place that looks as if some one lived in it. Take a squint at that chocolate brick arrangement over there. Can you imagine any one being really comfortable in it? Why, if I lived there Id be always looking for a bell-hop to spring out on me and grab whatever I had and push me over to the register so I could sign my name and get a key. Thats a fine, big porch, but Ill bet you wouldnt ever think of sitting out there on a summer evening in your shirt sleeves and sprinkling water on that trained mulberry tree!

I dont believe, laughed Leonard, that they put anything as common as water on that cute thing. They probably have a Mulberry Tree Tonic or something like that they bathe it in. Say, there is some one on the porch, just the same, and it looks to me as if he was waving to us.

Why, thats Johnny McGrath! said Slim. Hello, Johnny! That where you live?

Sure. Come on over!

Slim looked inquiringly at Leonard. Want to go? he asked in low tones. Johnnys a good sort.

Leonard nodded, if without enthusiasm, and Slim led the way across the ribbon of hot asphalt and up the three stone steps that led, by the invariable concrete path, to the wide porch. A boy of about Leonards age stood awaiting them at the top of the steps, a round-faced chap with a nose liberally adorned with freckles and undeniably tip-tilted. He wore white flannel trousers and a gray flannel coat, and there was a liberal expanse of gray silk socks exposed above the white shoes.

Want you to meet my friend Grant, said Slim, climbing the wide steps. General, this is Johnny McGrath, the only Sinn Feiner in school. What you been doing to-day, Johnny? Making bombs?

Johnny smiled widely and good-humoredly. Youre the only bum Ive seen so far, he replied. Come up and cool off.

Thats a rotten pun, protested Slim, accepting the invitation to sit down in a comfortable wicker chair. Say, Johnny, there must be money in Sinn Feining. He looked approvingly about the big porch with its tables and chairs, magazines and flowering plants. Is this your real home, or do you just hire this for Sundays?

Weve been living here going on three years, answered Johnny. Ever since dad made his pile. He turned to Leonard and indulged in a truly Irish wink of one very blue eye. Slim thinks he gets my goat, he explained, but he doesnt. Sure, I know this is a bit of a change from The Flats.

The Flats? repeated Leonard questioningly.

Thats what they call it over beyond the Carpet Mills, explained Johnny. Shanty Town, you know; Goatville; see?

Oh, yes! I dont believe Ive been there yet.

Well, it isnt much to look at, laughed Johnny. We lived there until about three years ago. We werent as poor as most of them, but there were six of us in five rooms, Grant. Then dad made his pile and we bought this place. Johnny looked about him not altogether approvingly and shook his head. Its fine enough, all right, but, say, fellows, its awfully whats the word I seen saw the other day? Stodgy, thats it! I guess its going to take us another three years to get used to it.

He misses having the pig in the parlor, observed Slim gravely to Leonard. The latter looked toward Johnny McGrath anxiously, but Johnny only grinned.

Twas never that bad with us, he replied, but I mind the day the Clearys nanny-goat walked in the kitchen and ate up half of dads nightshirt, and mother near killed him with a flat-iron!

Why did she want to kill your father with a flat-iron? asked Slim mildly.

The goat, I said.

You did not, Johnny. You told us it was a nanny-goat and said your mother nearly killed him. If that doesnt mean your father

Well, anyway, I had to lick Terry Cleary before there was peace between us again, laughed Johnny. Then his face sobered. Sure, up here on the Hill, he added, you couldnt find a scrap if you was dying!

The others had to laugh, Slim ejaculating between guffaws: Johnny, youll be the death of me yet! Johnnys blue eyes were twinkling again and his broad Irish mouth smiling.

Its mighty queer, he went on, how grand some of these neighbors of ours are up here. Take the Paternos crowd next door here. Sure, six years ago that old Dago was still selling bananas from a wagon, and to-day wow! the only wagon he rides in is a limousine. And once, soon after we moved in, mother was in the back yard seeing the maid hung the clothes right, or something, and there was Mrs. Paternos black head stuck out of an upstairs window, and thinking to be neighborly, mind you, mother says to her, Good morning, maam, or something like that, and the old Eye-talian puts her nose in the air and slams down the windy window, I mean!





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