Right Guard GrantŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
Leonard paid for that moment of success two plays later when his chin got in the way of Billyís elbow. They had to call time for Leonard, for an accidental blow on the point of the chin eliminates ambition for all of a minute. But he got up with ambition returning fast and gave Billy a promising look that brought a grin to that youthís countenance. ďAtta boy,Ē he approved. ďLots more waiting!Ē
If there was Leonard didnít go after it. Instead, he was more careful to keep his head down. A leather helmet can take a lot of punishment without showing it. A few minutes later, after A Squad had taken the ball away and pushed herself down to Bís twenty-six yards, Leonard had the supreme satisfaction of smearing a play aimed at him. Billy came through all right, for Leonard let him, but the hole closed behind him, and if Leonard felt any compunction because his cleats were digging into the lower extremities of the fallen Billy he didnít show it! That time Billy viewed his adversary ponderingly as he accepted the proffered hand and scrambled to his feet.
ďHuh,Ē he said, ďthe kidís getting on, eh?Ē
Leonard grinned. ďOn to you, Wells,Ē he answered.
But these great moments were few and far between. Generally Billy was too good for the neophyte. Usually if there was a gain needed where Leonard held forth, that gain eventuated, although it wasnít always as big as expected. Stimson helped his tackle in many a hard place, and Goodwin, playing behind, could be depended on to quell a too ambitious runner. Oddly enough, when Leonard found Renneker in front of him, as happened when A Squad spread her line open, he wasnít nearly so concerned. Renneker, in spite of size and weight and reputation, could be fooled and, after a fashion, handled. Renneker was slow, for one thing. There was no doubt about that. The A Squad quarter was forever telling him so, even if Leonard hadnít discovered the fact for himself. Leonard could handle Renneker far better when A had the ball than he could Billy Wells.
A Squad fought desperately to a touchdown and then added a goal. As she had already scored once in the first period, she was entitled to be a trifle lordly, which she was. B Squad kicked off again and Cricket Menge, catching near his five-yard line, raced back up the field, miraculously worming his fleet way through most of the enemy forces. At the forty yards he was still going, with his own players building a hasty interference about him and the B Squad players converging on him from all points, mostly from behind. Forced close to the side-lines near the center of the field, Cricket swung out from behind his interference and started across. Gurley dived for him and missed him. Cricket straightened out for the distant goal, still running hard and fast. Leonard and Reilly drew up on him as he passed the forty-yard line, and Appel, the B Squad quarter, hovered anxiously ahead. It was a confused rabble of friend and foe that scuttled down the field.
Leonard tried hard to get around Greenwood, plunging along in Mengeís wake, but the big full-back held him away over two white lines. Reilly, edging in, dove too soon and went over and over. Greenwood, striving to hurdle the obstacle, faltered long enough for Leonard to thrust past him. Kendall threw himself in Leonardís way, but the latter hurdled over him. He was a bare three yards behind the runner now, and the thirty-yard mark was underfoot. Appel was edging over, yet not making the mistake of leaving his goal too far. Leonard was too tuckered to do much planning. He put every ounce of strength into a last supreme effort, gained a little and plunged forward, arms out-thrust and fingers groping.
His left hand closed on something tightly, he felt himself being dragged along the turf. Then Appel landed on Cricketís back, and the race was over. Cricket turned a reproachful countenance toward Leonard when they had pulled him to his unsteady feet. But he managed a grin. So did Leonard. That was about all he could have managed just then, for his head was going around, his lungs were bursting and his stomach was horribly empty. He was infinitely relieved when he discovered that the battle was over and that, having been assisted to his feet, he could make his uncertain way to the bench. He passed Coach Cade on the way, and the coach met his eyes and nodded. At least, Leonard thought he did. He was too exhausted to be certain of it.
THE SECOND TEAM COMES OVER
That incident seemed to bring about a subtle difference in Leonardís relations with the other players. He received no particular praise for what, indeed, was only a part of the dayís work; probably none besides Appel and Slim referred to it; but the next day he noticed that many more of the fellows spoke to him or nodded to him in the gymnasium, on the way to the field or during practice. Jim Newton even hailed him as ďGeneral,Ē having probably heard Slim use that nickname. But Wednesdayís performance appeared to have made no difference in Leonardís standing on the squad. To-day he relieved Lawrence for the last five minutes of the last scrimmage period, and that was all the attention he received from Johnny. Billy Wells nodded to him, but had nothing to say. That was Leonardís last appearance in the line-up that week, for on Friday only the firstĖ and second-string players got into the brief practice. On Saturday the eleven went to Hillsport and played Hillsport School, winning an easy contest by a score of 14 to 0. Leonard didnít go along, although some half-hundred of the fellows did. Instead, he and a half-dozen others whose presence at Hillsport had not been considered necessary by the coach spent an hour or more on the field with a ball and they went across to the second team gridiron and saw the last half of a ragged game between the scrubs and a team of substitutes from the Alton High School. Slim showed up just before supper time with two broad strips of plaster over his right cheekbone.
It was on Sunday that Leonard first heard reference to the Sophomore Dinner. ďBy the way,Ē said Slim, looking up from the book he was reading Ė it was raining, and the usual Sunday afternoon walk was out of the question Ė ďhave you come across for the dinner yet, General?Ē
ďEh?Ē asked Leonard. ďWhat dinner?Ē
ďThe class dinner. Youíre going, of course.Ē
ďDo you mean our class? I hadnít heard about it!Ē
ďOh, thatís so; the notices arenít out yet, are they? Well, itís to be the seventh of next month. I forgot this was your first year with us, old son. Itís always the first Saturday in November.Ē
ďFirst Iíve heard of it. How much does it cost?Ē
ďA dollar and a half this year. It used to be a dollar, but they put up the price on us. Youíll get your moneyís worth, though.Ē
ďWhy, I suppose Iíll go. Does every one? All the fellows in the class, I mean.Ē
ďPretty much. A few pikers stay away. Same with all the class feeds, I guess.Ē
ďDo you mean that all the classes have these dinners?Ē
ďSure. We have ours in November, the freshies have theirs in February, the juniors in April and the seniors in June, just before Class Day.Ē
ďWhere do we have it?Ē asked Leonard.
ďKingmanís this year. There are only about two places, Kingmanís restaurant and the Alton House. Last year we had the freshman feed at the Alton House, and it wasnít very good.Ē
ďIs it fun?Ē
ďSure it is. Especially when the freshies try to break it up! Last year the sophs had their shindig at Kingmanís and we smuggled Billy Wells into the basement in the afternoon and he hid behind a pile of boxes until about seven oíclock and then unscrewed the electric light switch. We came rather near getting into trouble over that. The sophs were upstairs, on the second floor, and of course we didnít want to put the lights out all over the building, but we had to do it. Mr. Kingman was tearing mad and made a holler to faculty. It ended with an apology from the freshman class, though, for Kingman thought it over, I suppose, and realized that if he made too much of a fuss weíd stop going to his place. Billy almost got caught getting out that night. He was sneaking out the back way when he ran into one of the cooks. Billy swears the man had a cleaver in his hand. Anyway, Billy got behind a door or into a corner and they didnít see him.Ē Slim chuckled. ďThe sophs didnít get on with their banquet for nearly an hour.Ē
ďBut whatís the idea?Ē asked Leonard. ďWhy did you want to bust up their party?Ē
Slim pondered a moment. Then he shook his head. ďI donít know. Itís just a custom. Itís always been done, I guess.Ē
ďAnd do the sophs do the same thing when the freshmen have their blow-out?Ē
ďOh, no, that would be beneath our dignity. But we try to make things a little difficult for the juniors.Ē
ďI see.Ē Leonard smiled. ďThen, after Iíve paid my dollar and a half, I canít be quite certain that Iíll get my dinner, eh?Ē
ďOh, youíll get it,Ē answered Slim confidently. ďNo silly bunch of freshies is going to bust up this party, son! Weíll see to that. And that reminds me. Keep your ears open from now on and if you hear anything let me know.Ē
ďYes. You might, you know. Freshies like to talk big, and one of them might let drop some information that would be of interest to us. Of course, theyíll try something, you know, and it would make it easier for us if we got an inkling beforehand so weíd know what to look for.Ē
ďI see,Ē said Leonard. ďI suppose you, as Class President, are sort of responsible for the success of the affair, Slim.Ē
ďWell, Iím chairman of the dinner committee, and about half of our duty is to see that the freshies donít hurl a monkey-wrench into the machinery, so to speak. Know any freshmen?Ē
ďTwo or three, but only to speak to.Ē
ďWell, it would be a good plan to get better acquainted,Ē said Slim. ďItís an older fellowís duty to be friendly with the freshies and make life pleasant for them, you know.Ē
Leonard grinned. ďAnd keep his ears open? Sort of like playing the spy, isnít it?Ē
ďOf course. Thereíll be a lot of spying done on both sides during the next fortnight. Theyíll be trying to find out where weíre going to feed, and when, and weíll be trying to find out what theyíre going to do about it.Ē
ďBut if we get out notices, as you said we did, whatís to keep the freshmen from knowing all about it?Ē
ďThe notices donít give the date and place, General. Theyíre just reminders to the members of the class. Of course, the freshmen do find out easy enough, but it makes them work harder if we donít tell íem. Thereís one thing they wonít do, anyway, and thatís cut off the light. Mr. Kingman will take mighty good care that no one gets into the cellar this year!Ē
ďWhat will they do, do you suppose?Ē asked Leonard.
ďSearch me! Maybe theyíll try to rush the hall. They did that three or four years ago, they say, and ate most of the dinner before the sophs could get them out again!Ē
ďGee,Ē murmured Leonard, ďI canít imagine this yearís bunch of freshies trying anything like that!Ē
ďWell, you canít tell. They get pretty cocky after theyíve been here a month or so. Besides, they had their election last week, and that always sort of starts them going. Thereís a lot of them this year; nearly a hundred and thirty, I hear; and if they want to make trouble they can do it.Ē
ďHow many of us are there, Slim?Ē
ďNinety Ė something; ninety-six, I think. Oh, we can look after ourselves. The most they can do, in any case, is hold things up for awhile.Ē
ďSounds exciting,Ē mused Leonard. ďDo they ever get to scrapping?Ē
ďOh, no, not what youíd really call scrapping. Sometimes thereís a rush and a few fellows get mussed up a little. Thereís no hard-feeling, you understand. Itís just the freshmenís bounden duty to break up the sophomore party if they can do it. They never do, but they keep right on trying. Itís rather fun, you know.Ē
ďYes, but I guess Iíll have a good feed before I go,Ē laughed Leonard. ďThen Iíll be sure of not starving!Ē
He paid his dollar and a half to the class treasurer the next day and received the strictly confidential information that the dinner would take place on the evening of November 7th at Kingmanís Restaurant at seven oíclock. ďYou understand, I guess,Ē added Wilfred Cash, ďthat youíre not to mention the place or the date to any one.Ē
ďOh, quite,Ē Leonard assured him gravely.
That Monday afternoon the second team, which for unavoidable reasons, one of which was the inability to find a coach, was nearly a fortnight late in getting under way, came over and faced the first. Many familiar faces were to be seen amongst the scrub aggregation, for fully half of the second teamís line-up had tried for the big team and been rejected. Leonard, looking on at the scrimmage from the bench, still marveled that he was not taking orders from Mr. Fadden instead of from Mr. Cade.
The secondís coach was an old Alton graduate and a resident of the town who, at the earnest solicitation of the Athletic Committee, had consented to give up several hours a day to the task of providing something for the school team to whet their claws on. He was in the real estate business and was a busy man, and that he had listened to the call of the committee was greatly to his credit; the more so that, although he had played football well at Alton and, afterwards, at Yale, he had grown out of touch with the game and was forced to make a study of its modern developments before he dared face his charges. That yearís second team never quite reached the average of Alton second teams, but it was for no lack of hard work on the part of Mr. Fadden. He was quite a stout man, and the scrub was soon calling him ďTub,Ē though never to his face; but when the second team was dissolved a month later the nickname was no longer deserved, since, however the players had fared, Mr. Fadden had lost some thirty pounds from a portion of his anatomy where it had been extremely noticeable.
Leonard had a few minutes of play at tackle and found himself opposed to a very tall and rather awkward youth named Lansing. Lansing wasnít difficult and Leonard had little trouble with him. In fact, the whole second team showed up pretty poorly that afternoon and the first scored three times in twenty minutes of scrimmage. The first might have done even better had she used her best line-up. As it was, most of those who had played against Hillsport on Saturday were not used.
With the advent of the scrub team Leonardís chance of getting into action was much diminished, as he speedily realized. There were, naturally, but two tackle positions on the first, and for those positions there were exactly six applicants, including Leonard Grant. Billy Wells was mortally certain of the right tackle position, and Butler or Wilde would get the other. That left Lawrence, Cash and Leonard himself. Probably Lawrence would be chosen for second substitute. It looked to Leonard as if he and Cash would be out of jobs in a very short time!
Theoretically, of course, those tackle positions were still open, but Leonard knew very well that, although he might conceivably give Lawrence and Cash Ė possibly even Wilde Ė a run for his money, he had no more chance of equalling Billy Wells or Sam Butler as a tackle than he had of displacing Johnny Cade as coach! It didnít seem to him that Slimís advice to become an applicant for a tackle position had been very good. Tackles were a drug on the market. Still, to be fair to Slim, so were guards! Well, he would just do the best he could and be satisfied with what he got. Perhaps he might manage to hang on by the skin of his teeth; and it would help him considerably next fall, he concluded, to finish this season out on the first team, even if he never got off the bench again.
With the Hillsport game out of the way, the season was half over and Alton metaphorically took a deep breath, cinched its belt up another hole and set its gaze on the Mt. Millard contest. Last year the neighboring institution, situated at Warren, some eighteen miles distant, had beaten Alton by the score of 10 to 0. Of course that was at the height Ė or perhaps bottom would be better Ė of Altonís historic slump, but the defeat had rankled. It rankled yet. Until two years ago Mt. Millard had been an adversary of no consequence. Then she had taken unto herself a new coach and won two games running, the first 19 to 0, the second 10 to 0. The fact that Alton hadnít been able to score against Mt. Millard in two years made it even worse. There was a very general sentiment at Alton this fall in favor of defeating Mt. Millard, and defeating her conclusively. In fact, Alton wanted Revenge, Revenge with a capital R! To that end, therefore, on Tuesday Johnny Cade set to work to strengthen his defense against the kicking and passing game, which was Mt. Millardís long suit. The offense was not neglected, but it was given second place in the weekís program. By Thursday two changes, each of which looked to be permanent, had been made. Reilly had succeeded Kendall at right half and Appel had taken Carpenterís position at quarter. Several changes in the line were also tried, but none appeared more than tentative. Jim Newton was running Garrick very close for center and, strange to tell, Coach Cade on two occasions relegated Gordon Renneker to the subs and placed Raleigh at right guard. To an unbiased observer there seemed little choice between them, although they were notably different in build and style of playing. When practice ended Thursday afternoon, which it didnít do until it had become almost too dark to see the ball, it would have required a prophet of more than usual ability to predict the line-up that would face Mt. Millard.
That evening Slim took Leonard over to Lykes to see Rus Emerson. Leonard went none too eagerly, in spite of Emersonís invitation of some time ago, but he went. Afterwards he was very glad he had.
ALTON SEEKS REVENGE
Number 16 was already pretty well crowded when Slim and the diffident Leonard entered. Captain Emerson was there, and so was his roommate, George Patterson. Then there was Billy Wells, Tod Tenney, Jim Newton, Gordon Renneker and a chap named Edwards who later turned out to be the baseball captain. As it seemed to be taken for granted that every one knew every one else Leonard was not introduced. He and Slim squeezed onto a bed beside Jim Newton Ė the thing squeaked threateningly but held Ė and Rus passed them a bottle of ginger-ale, with two straws, and a carton of biscuits. Having helped themselves to the biscuits, they passed it on to Newton. Jim, at the moment engaged in conversation with Tod Tenney, absent-mindedly set the box on the bed. After that it couldnít be found until Jim got up to go. And then it wasnít worth finding, for it had slipped down under the big chap and was no longer recognizable.
A good deal of ďshopĒ was talked, in spite of Captain Emersonís repeated protests. The Mt. Millard game was discussed exhaustively. The only feature concerned with it that was not mentioned was the Alton line-up. That seemed to be taboo. Tod Tenney declared that if Alton didnít wipe the ground up with those fellows this time heíd resign and let the team go to the bow-wows. Whereupon Jim Newton gave a grunt and remarked that maybe if Tod resigned beforehand it would change their luck.
ďLuck!Ē countered Tod. ďIt isnít your luck thatís wrong, you big piece of cheese. Youíre scared of those fellows over at Warren. Theyíve put the kibosh on you. Why, last year you didnít know whether you were on your head or your heels. They didnít have half the team that you had, and you went and let them lick the daylight out of you.Ē
ďSic íem, Prince!Ē murmured Stick Patterson.
ďOh, well,Ē said Billy Wells confidently, ďnever mind last year, Tod. Keep your glimmers on Saturdayís fracas. Weíre going to smear those lucky guys all over the field. Weíve got it on them in weight this year and Ė Ē
ďWe had last year, too, hadnít we?Ē asked Edwards.
ďNot above the collar,Ē grunted Tenney.
ďFor the love of Mike, fellows,Ē begged Rus, ďshut up on football. Itís enough to play it every day without having to talk it all evening.Ē
ďWhat else do you expect football men to talk about?Ē asked Slim, rolling the empty ginger-ale bottle under Stickís bed. ďYou ought to know, Rus, that the football playerís intellect isnít capable of dealing with any other subject.Ē
ďDry up, Slim,Ē said Billy Wells, ďand move over, you poor insect. I want to talk to General Grant.Ē
There being no room to move over without sitting in Jim Newtonís lap, Slim crossed the room and took the arm of the Morris chair, just vacated by Billy. Billy squeezed onto the bed, securing another inch or two by digging Jim violently with an elbow. Jim grunted and said: ďLittle beast!Ē Billy turned a shrewd, smiling countenance on Leonard.
ďWell, howís it going?Ē he asked.
ďAll right, thanks,Ē answered Leonard vaguely. Just what ďitĒ was he didnít know. Probably, however, life in general. But Billyís next words corrected the assumption.ŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
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