Right Guard Grantñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Appel chose this play – Number 39 was its official title – with the ball on Lorimer’s thirty-four-yard line well over toward the west side of the field. Cricket Menge was second in line when the backs turned as the ball was snapped and ran past the quarter. The play was nearly spoiled by Slim’s inability to throw the opposing end in, but he did the next best thing and allowed him to go past on the outside. Reilly took the Lorimer right half and disposed of him neatly and Cricket piled around on his heels. Greenwood prevented a flank attack and then confusion reigned and for a moment no one could have said exactly what did happen. But when the moment – a brief one – had passed, there was Cricket running two yards ahead of the nearest pursuer and making straight for the goal. It was Appel who put the crowning touch on his work by spurting through the ruck and engaging the Lorimer quarter just in time. Menge, small and fleet, reached the goal-line an instant later almost unchallenged. And after that the Gray-and-Gold held firmly against the charge of a frantic opponent and Rus Emerson dropped the ball very neatly between the uprights and well over the bar, doing what Lorimer had failed to do on a like occasion and so winning a game that, viewing the matter without prejudice, belonged to the enemy!
A STRANGE RESEMBLANCE
The school weekly, The Doubleay– more generally referred to as the “Flubdub” – was almost epic over the Lorimer game in the following Thursday’s issue. It dwelt heavily on the dramatic aspects and very lightly on the scientific. It found, or pretended to find, much encouragement in the masterly way in which the Alton representatives had overcome the enemy’s lead and soared to victory in the last minutes of play. Every one came in for a kind word – every one save the adversaries – and there was even fulsome praise for a few: Captain Emerson and Appel and Cricket Menge and Greenwood and Gordon Renneker. Even Slim, who had stuck it out for three periods, was mentioned approvingly. The Flubdub concluded with a flourish of trumpets, declaring that the Alton team had already found its stride and was headed straight for a victory over Kenly Hall.
The Flubdub’s effusion is set forth here, out of chronological order, merely to show how judgments differ. There were others who viewed the Lorimer game with less enthusiasm; as, for instance, Slim and Leonard. Slim made a wry face and shrugged his shoulders. “Just plain robbery,” said the left end. “We hadn’t any more right to take that game than – than nothing at all! Talk about stealing the baby’s rattle! Why, bless my soul, General, the only reason that ‘39’ play succeeded was because it went wrong! I was supposed to box that end of theirs, Kellog, and he wouldn’t box. By rights, he ought to have swung around back of me and spoiled the picture. Just by luck he didn’t, and Cricket got by and squirmed loose. That wasn’t good football, son, it was good luck.
We played pretty fairly punk, the lot of us, although we did do a bit better after Appel took the helm. Bee isn’t the player Carpenter is, but he certainly can run the team a sight better, if you want my opinion. As for me, I don’t mind owning that I was rotten. But all the others were, too, so I don’t feel so badly. Even your friend Renneker did more heavy looking on than anything else, so far as I could see.”
“I’m afraid I can’t claim him as a friend,” said Leonard. “He’s never known me since we parted in the cab that day.”
“Well, I’m beginning to sour on that handsome guy as a tackle. Looks to me like he was touched with frost!”
At about the same time that Saturday evening Rus Emerson was seated in Coach Cade’s front room in the old white house opposite the school gate on Academy street. Johnny sat at one side of a big mahogany table and Rus at the other, and each was slumped well down on his spine as if he had put in a hard day’s work. The soft light of the lamp left their faces in shadow. The coach was speaking. “Who makes up these All-Scholastic Football Teams, Cap?” he inquired.
“The papers, I guess. That is, the sports editors.”
“Reckon they make mistakes now and then?”
“I wouldn’t wonder.” Rus smiled gently in the shadow.
“H’m.” There was silence a moment. Then: “He certainly looks good,” continued the coach almost wistfully. “I don’t know that I ever saw a chap who came nearer to looking the part of a clever, hard-fighting lineman. Why, just on appearances you’d pick him out of a crowd and shake hands with yourself.”
“He certainly does look the part,” agreed Rus. “And maybe he will find his pace after a bit.”
“Maybe.” But Johnny’s tone was dubious. “He won’t find it unless he looks for it, though, and it doesn’t seem to me that he’s taking the trouble to look.” The coach laughed softly, ruefully. “The funny thing is, Cap, that he’s got me bluffed. I know mighty well that he needs jacking up, but every time I get ready to ask him if he won’t kindly come alive and take an interest in things he turns that calmly superior gaze on me and I haven’t the courage. Why, drat his handsome hide, Cap, he looks like he invented football! Speaking harshly to him would be like – like knocking off the President’s hat with a snowball!”
Rus chuckled. “He’s got me like that, too. I want to apologize every time I open my mouth to him. Do you know, I’m beginning to wonder whether it wouldn’t be a good plan to switch him over to the subs for a few days. It might be good medicine.”
“Ye-es, it might. We’ll see how he comes on the first of the week, though. Besides, Cap, who’s going to tell him he’s out of the line-up?” laughed Johnny. “Me, I’d have to write him a letter or send him a telegram!”
There was a knock at the door and Tod Tenney came in. “Hello, Coach! Hi, Rus! Say, is there anything special this evening? Anything to discuss, I mean? If there isn’t I want to cut. There’s a shindig down town.” Tod grinned.
“‘Nobody knows,’” hummed Rus, “‘where the Old Man goes, but he takes his dancing shoes!’”
“Yes, there’s one thing,” answered the coach gravely. “I’d like your opinion, Tod. What do you think of this fellow Renneker?”
Tod already had the doorknob in hand, and now he turned it, pulled the portal inward and sort of oozed through the aperture. But before the countenance quite disappeared the mouth opened and the oracle spoke.
“He’s a false-alarm,” was the verdict.
Then the door closed.
Sunday afternoon Slim and Leonard went to walk again and, at Leonard’s suggestion, ended up at Number 102 Melrose avenue. Johnny McGrath seemed extremely pleased to see them, but Slim had to hint broadly before the lemonade pitcher appeared. They talked of yesterday’s game, which Johnny had attended. “I took my kid brother,” said Johnny. “He plays on his grammar school team now and then. He’s a sort of tenth substitute or something, as near as I get it. Well, he told me confidentially yesterday after we got home that his team could beat the stuffing out of ours!”
Slim laughed. “I wouldn’t want to say it couldn’t, the way we played yesterday. How does it happen, though, that the kid’s playing football when you can’t, Johnny?”
Johnny smiled. “Mother doesn’t know it, you see. Maybe I ought to tell on him, but he’s crazy about it and I haven’t the heart. Sure, I don’t believe he’s likely to get hurt, for all the playing he does.”
“Nor I. I just wondered. I do wish you could talk your mother around, though.”
“Why,” answered Johnny, “if I was to tell her I’d set my heart on it she’d not forbid me, Slim. But she’d be fearful all the time, and she’s had worry enough. And it isn’t like I cared much about it. Maybe I’d be a mighty poor football player, do you see? And, anyway, there’s basket ball, and baseball, too.”
“I didn’t know you played baseball,” said Slim.
“In the summer. We have a team here in town called the Crescents. I play second. Most of the fellows are older than me. It’s a good team, too.”
“Sure,” said Slim. “I’ve heard of the Crescents. Some of the fellows from the carpet mills are on it, eh?”
“Most of them are mill fellows; McCarty and O’Keefe and McCluer and Carnochan – ”
“How come you don’t call yourselves the Shamrocks? Or the Sinn Feiners?”
“Well,” laughed Johnny, “our pitcher’s name is Cartier and the shortstop’s is Kratowsky. And then there’s – ”
“Don’t,” begged Slim, “I can’t bear it! Who do you play against?”
“Oh, any one. We played about thirty games last summer and won more than half. We go away for a lot of them. We went as far as Bridgeport once. We played twice at New Haven and once at New London and – ” Johnny stopped and pushed a slice of lemon around the bottom of his glass with the straw. “Say, what’s the name of the big fellow who’s playing left – no, right guard for us?”
“Renneker,” said Slim. “First name’s Gordon. What about him?”
“Nothing. Gordon Renneker, eh? Does he play baseball, do you know?”
“No, I don’t, Johnny. Want him for the Crescents next summer?”
Johnny shook his head. “I was – I was just wondering. You see, there was a fellow played on this New London team – the Maple Leaf it was called – looked a whole lot like this chap.”
“Maybe it was he,” said Slim cheerfully, setting down his glass with a regretful glance at the empty pitcher. “Maybe baseball’s his real game and he got mixed.”
“This fellow’s name was Ralston, George Ralston,” replied Johnny, frowning. “Sure, though, he was the dead spit of Renneker.”
“I’ve heard of fellows changing their names before this,” said Leonard. “Perhaps, for some reason, Renneker didn’t want to play under his own name. Was he good, McGrath?”
“He was,” answered their host emphatically. “He played first, and he had a reach from here to the corner of the porch and could hit the cover off the ball every time. He played fine, he did. Kind of a lazy-acting fellow; looked like he wasn’t much interested. And maybe he wasn’t, if what they told us was so.”
“What was that?” asked Slim, smothering a yawn.
“Well, it was the newsboy on the train handed me the story. I wouldn’t like to say he was giving me straight goods, for he was a mean looking little guy. You see, those Maple Leafs beat us, something like 14 to 6 it was, and some of our crowd were kind of sore. Going back on the train they were talking over the game and this newsboy was hanging around. Pretty soon he came over to where I was sitting and got to talking. Seemed he lived in New London, or else he hung over there. Anyway, he knew some of the players, and he got to telling about them. ‘That fellow Smith,’ he said – that wasn’t the name, but he was talking about the pitcher – ‘gets thirty for every game.’ ‘Thirty what?’ I asked, not getting him. ‘Thirty dollars,’ said he. ‘No wonder we couldn’t hit him then,’ I said. ‘And how about the catcher?’ ‘Oh, he don’t get paid,’ said the boy. ‘They don’t any of the others get paid except that Ralston guy. They give him twenty-five. He don’t play regular with them, though.’ I let him talk, not more than half believing him. Of course, I’d heard of fellows taking money for playing on teams supposed to be strictly amateur, but it’s always on the quiet and you don’t know if it’s so. Afterwards I told Ted McCluer what I’d heard and Ted said he guessed it was straight goods; that he’d heard that that pitcher wasn’t playing for his health.”
Slim frowned and shook his head. “I guess you are mistaken, Johnny,” he said. “Renneker’s rather a swell, as I understand it, and it isn’t likely he’d be running around the country playing ball for a trifling little old twenty-five dollars. Guess you’re barking up the wrong tree, son.”
“I’m not barking at all,” replied Johnny, untroubled. “Only when I had a close look at this Renneker fellow yesterday he was so much like Ralston that I got to thinking.”
“Well, I’d quit,” advised Slim with some emphasis. “And I’d be mighty careful not to tell that yarn to any one else. You know how long Renneker would last if it got around.”
Johnny nodded. “That’s a fact,” he agreed.
Leonard looked puzzled. “But if he isn’t the fellow McGrath took him for, how could it matter any?”
“You aren’t Julius C?sar,” answered Slim, “but you might have a hard time proving it.”
“Get out! C?sar’s dead!”
“So are you – from the neck up,” retorted Slim. “Come on home before you get any worse.”
“I suppose, now,” said Johnny thoughtfully, “they’d not let Renneker play on the team if it happened that he really was this other guy.”
“Of course they wouldn’t,” answered Slim, a bit impatiently. “What do you think? Accepting money for playing baseball! I’ll say they wouldn’t! But I tell you you’re all wrong about it, anyway, Johnny. So don’t talk about it, son. Even if a fellow is innocent, getting talked about doesn’t help him any.”
“Sure, I know,” agreed Johnny. “It wouldn’t be him, I guess.”
“Not a chance,” said Slim heartily. “Coming, General?”
Half a block down the avenue Leonard broke the silence. “Sort of funny,” he remarked, “that the initials should be the same. ‘G. R.’; Gordon Renneker and George Ralston.”
“Too blamed funny,” muttered Slim.
Leonard looked at him with surprise. “You don’t think, do you, that – that there’s anything in it?”
Slim hesitated a moment. Then: “Don’t know what to think,” he answered. “Johnny’s no fool. If you play baseball with a chap you get a pretty good view of him. Of course, now and then you find a case where two fellows look so much alike their own mothers mightn’t know them apart at first, and Johnny might easily be mistaken. I dare say he didn’t get a very good look at Renneker yesterday. Besides, what would a chap like Renneker be doing barnstorming around for a measly twenty-five?” It was evident to Leonard that Slim was working hard to convince himself. “Anyway,” he went on, “Johnny’ll keep it to himself after this.”
“Yes,” Leonard affirmed, “but I think he still believes he’s right.”
“Let him, so long as he keeps it to himself. I’m not awfully enthusiastic about this Gordon Renneker, General. So far he hasn’t shown anything like what you’d expect from a fellow with his reputation. And I don’t warm up to him much in other ways. He seems a pretty cold fish. But he may get better, and, even if he doesn’t, I guess we wouldn’t want to lose him. So it’s up to us to forget all about this silly pipe-dream of Johnny’s, see?”
“I see,” replied the other thoughtfully.
Something in his tone caused Slim to dart a questioning glance at him, but Leonard’s countenance added nothing to his voice and they went on in silence.
LEONARD MAKES A TACKLE
Monday was a day of rest for those who had taken part for any length of time in the Lorimer game, and so the two teams that finally faced each other for a short scrimmage contained much doubtful talent. Leonard again went in at left tackle and, since he didn’t have Billy Wells and Captain Emerson to oppose him, he managed to do a great deal better. Cruikshank, who acted as quarterback and captain of the patched-up eleven on which Leonard found himself, twice thumped the latter on his back and uttered hoarse words of approval. The two teams were very nearly matched, and the ten minute period was nearly over before either secured a chance to score. Then A Team got Dakin off tackle for a gallop of sixteen yards, and the pigskin lay close to the opponent’s twenty. Goodwin slashed through center for four and Dakin got two. Then Goodwin tried the middle of the line again and found no hole, and there was a yard loss. Goodwin, who had been playing full-back until recently, had not yet fully mastered his new job. With five to go on third down, Cruikshank took the ball himself and managed to squeeze through the enemy’s right wing and squirm along for the rest of the distance. The ball was then close to the ten-yard line. Kerrison dropped back from end position to the eighteen and held out his arms. But no one was fooled by that gesture, and Dakin, plunging past Leonard, made less than a yard. Then it was “Kerrison back!” once more, and this time Leonard got the jump on the opposing guard and Dakin found a hole to his liking and plunged through to the four yards. With less than three to go, Kerrison went back to end position and on the next play the whole backfield concentrated behind Goodwin, and once more Leonard put his man out and felt the runner rasping by him. The opposition melted, and Goodwin went through and staggered well past the goal-line before he was downed. The coach wouldn’t let them try the goal, and so they had to be satisfied with the six points. They trotted back to the gymnasium fairly contented, however.
Leonard secretly hoped that his performance, even though against a none too strong adversary, had been noted by Johnny. If it had the fact was known only to the coach and no immediate results materialized. On Tuesday, with the first-string men back in place, Leonard wasn’t called on; although he had plenty of work with C Squad. There was a second cut that afternoon and the number of candidates left was barely sufficient for three elevens. Of that number, however, was Leonard, even though, as he assured himself, better players had been banished!
Wednesday found him again at tackle, but now on the right of the line, with Stimson at one elbow and Gurley dodging back and forth at his other side. He found Butler less trying as a vis ? vis than Billy Wells, but he somehow wished Johnny hadn’t changed him over. Billy, even at his deadliest, was an honorable foe, and even a partial success gained against Billy was something to be proud of. Not, however, that Leonard found Butler an easy adversary. Far from it. Butler made Leonard look pretty poor more than half the time, while, when Leonard was obliged to give his attention to Left Guard Smedley, the substitute tackle made an even sorrier showing. On the whole, Leonard wasn’t a bit proud of his work, either on offense or defense, during the first period, and returned to the bench convinced that his goose was cooked. When Johnny, criticizing and correcting along the line of panting players, reached Leonard he stopped again.
“Not so good to-day,” he said. “What was wrong, Grant?”
Leonard hadn’t the least idea what was wrong, beyond a general inability to play the position as it should be played, and, besides, he was horribly surprised and embarrassed by the unexpected attention. Nevertheless, after a moment of open-mouthed dumbness, he had a flash of inspiration.
“I don’t think I can play so well at left tackle, sir,” he replied, meeting the coach’s eyes with magnificent assurance. Mr. Cade smiled very slightly and moved past. But he turned his face again toward Leonard an instant later.
“I’ll take you up on that, Grant,” he said sharply.
Leonard felt uncomfortable. He wasn’t quite certain what Johnny had meant. Besides, there had been something – well, not exactly unfriendly, but sort of – sort of rasping in his tone; as if Johnny had thought to himself, “Get sassy with me, will you. I’ll show you!” Leonard wished now he had kept his mouth shut. Some of the fellows who had taken part in the first period of scrimmaging were making their way back to the showers, but as no one dismissed him Leonard sat still and got his breath back and wondered what awaited him. Then Tod Tenney called “Time up, Coach!” and Johnny Cade swung around and pulled out his little book and sent them back on the field again.
“B Team,” he called. “Gurley and Kerrison, ends; Wilde and Grant, tackles; Squibbs and – ”
But Leonard didn’t hear any more. He was shedding his blanket and telling himself fiercely that he just had to make good now. The fierceness remained throughout the subsequent twenty-one minutes required to play ten minutes of football. At the first line-up Billy Wells smiled joyfully at Leonard. “See who’s here,” he called gayly, swinging his big arms formidably. “Who let you in, sonny? Some one sure left the gate open! Which way are you coming?”
“Inside,” answered Leonard grimly.
“Welcome to our midst, sweet youth!”
Of course Leonard didn’t go inside. In the first place, the play was around the right end, and in the next place Billy wouldn’t have stood for it. Leonard busied himself with Renneker, got slammed back where he belonged and then plunged through the melting lines and chased after the play. Rus Emerson slapped him on the back as they passed on their way to the next line-up.
“Glad to see you, Grant,” declared the captain.
On the next play Leonard and Billy mixed it up thoroughly, but truth compels the admission that of the two Leonard was the most mixed! You just couldn’t get under Billy. If you played low, Billy played lower. If you feinted to your right, Billy moved to his right, too. If you tried to double-cross him and charged the way you feinted he outguessed you and was waiting. He knew more ways of using his shoulder than there were letters in the alphabet, and his locked hands coming up under your chin were most effective. No cat was half as quick as Billy and no bull-dog half as stubborn and tenacious. Yet Leonard did have his infrequent triumphs. Once, when Reilly wanted three yards to make the distance, Leonard put Billy Wells out completely and Red slid by for a yard more than needed. Leonard had got the jump that time by a fraction of a second, and he was so proud of his feat that doubtless it showed on his face, for Billy viewed him sarcastically for a moment and then announced: “Just bull-luck, you poor half portion of prunes!”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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