Right Tackle ToddŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ďStereotyped,Ē said Martin Gray. ďThatís the word!Ē He spoke triumphantly, as one will when a momentís search for the proper term has been rewarded. ďStereotyped, Clem!Ē
ďOh, I donít know,Ē replied his room-mate, only mildly interested in Martís subject. ďOf course they do look pretty much alike Ė Ē
ďIt isnít only their looks, though. But, come to think of it, thatís another proof of my Ė er Ė contention. Hang it, Clem, if they werenít all alike as so many Ė er Ė beans Ė Ē
ďDonít you mean peas?Ē asked Clement Harland, grinning.
ďBeans,Ē continued Mart emphatically. ďThey wouldnít all wear the same things, would they?Ē
ďDonít see that, Mart. After all, a chapís simply got to follow the jolly old style, eh?Ē
ďNot if he has any Ė er Ė individuality! No, sir! I saw fifty at least of the new class arrive yesterday, and except that sometimes one was shorter or taller or fatter than the others, you could have sworn they were all from the same town. Yes, sir, and the same street! Same clothes, same hats, same shoes, same Ė Ē
ďWell, after all, why not? Besides, after theyíve been here awhile they develop different Ė as youíd say Ė Ďer Ė characteristics.í What if the kids do look alike when they first come?Ē
ďBut you donít get the Ė er Ė the idea at all!Ē protested Martin. ďWhat Iím trying to get at Ė Ē
ďIs that Alton Academy attracts a certain type of fellow and doesnít get enough freaks to suit you.Ē
ďFreaks be blowed! I donít want freaks, I want new blood, something different now and then. You know as well as I do that new blood is what Ė Ē
ďYouíve got the Ďmelting potí idea, eh?Ē
ďYes, I guess so. Why not? Look at the other schools; some of íem, anyway: Dexter, Dover Ė Ē
ďI said some of íem. Take Dexter now.Ē
ďLook at the Ė er Ė variety of fellows that go there. Whatís the result?Ē
ďWhy, the result is that they manage to beat Dover pretty often at football, but I always thought that coach of theirs had a good deal to do with that!Ē
ďShucks, Iím not talking about athletics, although thatís a pretty good test, too. What I mean is that itís the school that draws its enrollment from all over the country and from all Ė er Ė classes that does the biggest things; and thatís the most use, too.Ē
ďI donít believe it,Ē answered Mart. ďItís the school itself, its policy, its traditions that count. You might have every state in the Union Ė Ē
ďOh, that, of course, but I say that a student body composed of a lot of totally different types Ė Ē
ďAll right, but how are you going to get them?Ē
ďReach out for íem! How do other schools get íem?Ē
ďSearch me, old son! Maybe they advertise in the papers; Dakotas, New Mexico, Florida, Hawaii Ė Ē
ďSure! Why not! This schoolís in danger of Ė er Ė dry-rot, Clem! Four hundred or so fellows all alike, speaking the same language Ė Ē
ďI should hope so!Ē
ďThinking the same thoughts, having the same views on every subject.
Gosh, canít you see that you and I donít get as much out of it as if we could rub up against something different now and then? Wouldnít it be refreshing to find a fellow who didnít think just as we think about everything, who didnít wear exactly the same kind of clothes, who didnít think the sun rose and set in New England?Ē
ďBut the sun does rise and set in New England,Ē objected Clem. ďIíve seen it.Ē
ďOh, shut up! You know what I mean. Wouldnít it?Ē
Clem considered a moment. Then he shook his head doubtfully. ďYou should have gone to Kenly Hall, Mart,Ē he answered. ďThey have all kinds there, the whole fifty-seven varieties.Ē
ďYes, and theyíre better off for it. Of course itís the proper thing for us to make fun of Kenly, but you know mighty well that itís every bit as good a school as Alton; maybe better in some ways. But Kenly isnít much different from us. They get about the same lot year after year, just as we do. One yearís freshman class looks just like last yearís. Maybe they do get an occasional outsider. Quite a few middle-west chaps go there. But mostly they draw them from right around this part of the country, as we do. Gee, Iíd certainly like to see, just for once, a fellow turn up here who didnít look as if heíd been cast in the same mold with all the others!Ē
ďYouíre getting all worked up about nothing, old son,Ē said Clem soothingly. ďYou mustnít do it. It always upsets you so you canít eat your meals, and itís only half an hour to supper.Ē
ďIf you werenít so blamed stubborn Ė Ē
ďShut up a minute! Hello! Come in!Ē
The door of Number 15 opened slowly until the more dimly lighted corridor was revealed through a narrow aperture and a voice said: ďExcuse me, please, but is this where the fellow that hires the football players lives?Ē
From where Martin sat the owner of the voice was hidden, and so he could not account for the radiant grin that enveloped his room-mateís countenance for an instant.
ďI didnít get it,Ē said Clem, politely apologetic. ďWonít you come in?Ē His face was sober again, unnaturally sober in the judgment of Martin Gray.
ďWell,Ē said the unseen speaker doubtfully. Then the door again began its cautious passage across the old brown carpet, and Mart understood Clemís grin.
The youth who now stood revealed to Martís astounded gaze was little short of six feet tall, it seemed. In age he might have been anywhere from sixteen to twenty, with eighteen as a likely compromise. He was attired neatly but, it appeared, uncomfortably in a suit of dark gray which fitted him too loosely across the shoulders and too abruptly at the ankles, its deficiency at the latter point exposing to Martís fascinated eyes a pair of wrinkled woolen socks of sky-blue. The low shoes were not extraordinary, but there was something deliciously quaint about the collar, with its widely parted corners, and the pale blue satin tie that failed to hide the brass collar-stud. Even the hat, a black Alpine shape, struck a note of originality, possibly because it was a full size too small and was poised so precariously atop a thickish mass of tumbled hair that seemed not yet to have decided just what shade of brown to assume. Clem coughed delicately and asked: ďYou were looking for some one?Ē
ďGuess Iíve got the wrong place,Ē said the stranger, his first embarrassment increasing at the discovery of Mart beyond the doorís edge. ďThe fellow Iím looking for is the one who hires Ė well, takes on the football players. Guess heís the manager, ainít he?Ē
ďPossibly,Ē answered Clem, turning to Mart with an inquiring glance. ďWhat do you think?Ē
Martin took his cue promptly. ďOr, maybe the coach,Ē he suggested. ďYou donít know his name?Ē
The stranger shook his head. He held firmly to the outer knob of the door, resting his shoulders against the edge of it as he frowned in an effort of memory. ďI heard it,Ē he replied, ďbut I forget what it was. He said I was to see him between five and six about me getting on the football team and I thought he said he lived in Number 15 in Lykes Hall, but Ė Ē
ďWell, you see, this isnít Ė Ē
But Clem interrupted Mart swiftly. ďSit down, wonít you?Ē he asked, smiling hospitably. ďI dare say we can thresh out the mystery. And you might shove that door too, if you donít mind. Thanks.Ē
The stranger closed the door as slowly as he had opened it, removed his hat and advanced gingerly to the chair that Clemís foot had deftly thrust toward him. He gave them the impression of having attained his growth so suddenly as to be a little uncertain about managing it. He lowered himself almost cautiously into the chair, placing two rather large feet closely together and holding his hat firmly by its creased crown with both hands, hands generously proportioned, darkly tanned and extremely clean. He looked about the room and then back to Clem, while a slow smile radiated the long, somewhat plain face.
ďYou fellows got it right nice here,Ē he ventured.
ďLike it?Ē asked Clem in a more friendly tone. The strangerís smile had transformed him on the instant from a queer, almost uncouth figure to something quite human and likable. ďYes, it isnít a bad room. Where do you hang out? By the way, you didnít mention your name, did you?Ē
ďToddís my name. My roomís over in Haylow; Number 33. A fellow named Judson and I have it together. It ainít like this, though. Not so big, for one thing, and then the ceiling comes down, over there like, and I keep hitting my head on it.Ē
Mart laughed. ďThey didnít build you for one of those third floor rooms, Todd.Ē
The slow smile came again and the gray eyes twinkled, and the visitor relaxed a little in the straight chair. ďGosh, I started to grow last year and it looks like I canít stop. I didnít use to be such an ungainly cuss.Ē
ďI wouldnít let that bother me,Ē returned Mart. ďYouíll fill out pretty soon, I dare say. How tall are you?Ē
Todd shook his head. ďI ainít measured lately,Ē he acknowledged a trifle sheepishly. ďBeen scared to. Pop says if I donít stop pretty soon it wonít be safe for me to go out in the woods lessín some one might mistake me for a tree and put an ax to me!Ē
ďWhereís your home?Ē asked Clem, with a side glance at his room-mate.
ďFour Lakes, Maine. At least, we donít live right in the village, but thatís our postoffice address. We live about three miles north, up the Ludic road. You ever been around there?Ē
It seemed that they hadnít, but once started Todd was not averse to supplying personal information. Clem fancied that Judson, whoever he might be, had not proved a sympathetic listener and that Todd was heartily glad to find some one to talk to. His father had a store, it seemed, and was also interested in timber lands and numerous other interests. There was a large family of children of which the present representative was the senior member. He had been going to school at Four Lakes until last Spring.
ďI was set on going to college, you see, and I thought Iíd learned enough, but I went down to Lewiston and talked with a fellow down there and he said Iíd better go to a preparatory school for a couple of years first. I asked where and he said this place. So I came down here. Seems like he might have said some place nearer home, but I guess it donít matter. This looks like a right nice school. I guess you fellows are seniors, arenít you?Ē
ďJuniors,Ē corrected Clem. ďI suppose youíre one of us, Todd.Ē
ďI guess so. I ainít heard for sure yet. They started me off as a junior, though.Ē
ďOh, youíll make it,Ē declared Mart. ďSo youíre going to play football, eh?Ē
ďOh, I donít know.Ē Todd smiled embarrassedly. ďI ainít ever yet, but this fellow I was looking for stopped me this morning and asked if I was going to and I said no, and then he asked didnít I want to and I said I didnít know if I did or not, and he said for me to come and see him between five and six oíclock and weíd talk about it. He said what his name was, but I forget. I think he said he managed the players.Ē
ďHe didnít,Ē inquired Clem very innocently, ďmention what position he thought youíd fill best on the team?Ē
Toddís gray eyes twinkled again. ďNo, he didnít, but I guess maybe one of the posts at the end of the fieldís got broken and heís looking for a new one.Ē
ďI think it must have been Dolf Chapin you saw,Ē said Mart, smiling at Clemís slight discomfiture. ďHeís Ė Ē
ďThatís the name,Ē declared Todd with relief. ďWhereís his room, please?Ē
ďHeís in 15 Lykes.Ē
ďWell, isnít this Ė Ē Then Toddís countenance proclaimed understanding and he chuckled. ďGosh, I went right by it, didnít I? I was over at that building where they have the library Ė Ē
ďMemorial,Ē said Mart.
ďAnd meant to stop at the first building after I came off that path that comes from there. Instead of that I got right back in my own house, didnít I? I ainít got this place learned very well yet. Well, Iím much obliged to you. Maybe Iíll see you again. My name, like I told you, is Todd, Jim Todd.Ē He arose and offered a big hand to Clem and then to Mart.
ďGlad to have met you, Todd,Ē responded Clem, spreading his fingers experimentally after the crushing grip they had sustained. ďMy nameís Harland, and this is Gray. Drop in again some time, wonít you? Iíd like mighty well to hear how you get along with football.Ē
ďWell, I ainít so sure Iíll play it,Ē answered Todd from the doorway, frowning a little. ďI guess playing games sort of interferes with a fellowís school work, and what Iíve seen of the courses theyíve got me down for makes me think Iíll have to do some tall studying. Iím glad to have met you, and maybe I might come in and see you again some time.Ē
ďDo that,Ē said Clem earnestly.
Then the door closed slowly but decidedly and Clem and Mart dropped back into their chairs. After a moment Clem said: ďLooks to me like your prayer was answered, Mart.Ē
ďWell, heís only one, but heís a hopeful sign.Ē
Clem chuckled softly. ďYou and Todd ought to get along pretty well together,Ē he continued. ďYou wanted something different, and there you have it. At least, he doesnít wear clothes like the rest of us; heís no slave to Fashion, old son. Maybe he wonít mind telling you where he buys his togs, eh?Ē
ďSome way,Ē answered Mart, ďit doesnít seem quite fair to make fun of him. There was something awfully decent about the chap, in spite of his clothes and his Ė er Ė queer appearance.Ē
ďThatís true, and I wasnít really making fun. Only Ė Ē Clem interrupted himself with a laugh. ďSay, isnít it just like Chapin to try to round that fellow up for the football squad? Honest, Mart, if a one-legged fellow showed up here and Dolf saw him he wouldnít be happy until he had him out on the field!Ē
ďAt that,Ē replied Mart, as he arose to prepare for supper, ďJim Todd might be a blamed sight better player than some of those cripples who lost the game last year for us! I noticed that your delicate sarcasm was trumped very neatly by our recent guest, old timer!Ē
ďYes,Ē Clem acknowledged, ďthatís so. I fancy our friend James isnít such a fool as his hat makes him out!Ē
JIM TODD QUITS
The occupants of Number 15 Haylow didnít see anything more of Jim Todd for a while. In fact, he had nearly gone from their memories when Clem collided with him at the entrance to the dormitory one day in late October. Jim only said ďHelloĒ and would have gone by, but something prompted Clem to renew the acquaintance.
ďWell, how do you like things now that youíve been with us awhile, Todd?Ē he asked.
ďFine, thanks. Iím getting on real well.Ē
ďGood! By the way, you never paid that next call, you know. Gray and I have been wondering about you.Ē That was more flattering than truthful perhaps. ďStill playing football, or did you decide not to go in for the manly pastime?Ē
Jim smiled. ďWell, Iím still on the squad,Ē he said, ďbut I donít do very well at that game. Guess Iíll be quitting this week. Itís pretty hard, and it takes a good deal of a fellowís time, too.Ē
ďWell, if theyíve kept you all this time youíll probably last the season out,Ē responded Clem, not a little surprised.
But Jim Todd shook his head. ďI guess Iíll be getting through pretty soon,Ē he said firmly.
ďWell, drop in and see us again, anyway.Ē Clem hurried on to a recitation, wondering most of the way to Academy Hall why he had renewed the invitation. Nothing came of it for nearly a fortnight, however. Then, late one afternoon, Mr. James Todd knocked and entered. Six weeks had somewhat altered his appearance, and he looked far less ďdifferent.Ē He was still the same tall, loose-jointed chap, but he wore a gray sweater and a pair of old blue trousers and no hat, and so much of his oddity was missing. He was, too, more at ease on this occasion, and settled his long length back in the Morris chair that Clem indicated without his former hesitation. Presently, in the course of conversation, Mart observed:
ďIíve been looking for you on the football team, Todd, but I missed you. Still, itís hard to recognize your friends under those leather domes you fellows wear. You didnít get into the Mount Millard game, did you?Ē
ďI ainít been in any of them,Ē answered Jim. ďI ainít much of a football player.Ē
ďOh, well, youíve got two chances yet,Ē replied Mart cheeringly. ďMaybe Cade is keeping you back for the Kenly Hall game.Ē
ďI quit last week,Ē said Jim simply.
ďQuit? You mean Ė er Ė is that so?Ē floundered Mart. ďWell, maybe next year Ė Ē
ďIt was pretty hard work,Ē added Jim Todd. ďPretty wearing. I got tired of it finally. Mr. Cade and me had a sort of argument about it, but I told him I wouldnít ever make a football man and that I had sort of got behind with my studies and he let me go finally. I like him. He got sort of mad with me, but I guess heís over it by now.Ē
Clem and Mart exchanged glances that indicated puzzlement. ďYou mean,Ē asked Clem at last, ďthat you resigned? You werenít fired off?Ē
ďNo, I just quit,Ē answered Jim untroubledly. ďYou see, itís like this, Harland. Most of the fellows in the squad had played football before. Some of them have been at it two or three years, likely. It was new to me. Of course Iíd seen fellows playing it, you know; they had a sort of a team at the school I went to back home; but it never interested me much and I never thought Iíd care to try it. Well, I was pretty green when I started off and I had a lot to learn. Guess I didnít learn very well, either. Seems like I was pretty stupid about it. Mr. Cade said I didnít put my mind on it, but I donít think that was so. Guess the trouble was I didnít get real interested in it. He told me that if I worked hard this Fall Iíd likely get to play next year. He tried to make an end of me, but I never got good enough to play in any of the games. I just sat on that bench out there at the field and looked on. They keep you on the field two hours every afternoon; sometimes longer than that; and I could see I was just wasting my time. I kept saying so to Dolf Chapin, but he said I wasnít, that I was learning and that it was my duty to stick it out. So I did till last week. Then I decided Iíd better quit. So I quit.Ē
ďI see,Ē said Mart dryly. ďAnd Johnny Cade? I suppose he had something to say, Todd.Ē
ďYes, he said a whole lot,Ē answered Jim soberly. ďLooked once like Iíd have to paste him in the jaw, the way he was talking, but I didnít because I knew he didnít mean all he said. He was sort of upset, I guess.Ē
ďSounds to me as if you were a more valuable man than you realized,Ē said Clem.
ďNo, I guess I wasnít very valuable, really. I guess these football coaches like to have their own way pretty well.Ē
ďWell,Ē said Mart, laughing, ďIíll bet youíve earned the distinction of being one of the few fellows that ever resigned from the squad! No wonder Cade was grumpy! Heís not used to that!Ē
There followed another lapse in the acquaintanceship. Clem and Mart caught glimpses of Jim Todd in class room and dining hall; infrequently passed him on the campus; sometimes exchanged greetings by word or sign. The Kenly Hall game came and went, bringing the football season to a disappointingly inconclusive end. Beaten the year before, Alton tried desperately to wreak vengeance, but, although her players and her game were infinitely superior to those of the preceding season, Kenly Hall, too, showed improvement, and at the final whistle the score stood just where it had stood at the end of the first half, at 7 to 7. Each team had scored one touchdown and followed it with a clean goal. Each team, too, had narrowly failed of a second score, Kenly Hall when a forward-pass over the goal-line had been tipped but not caught and Alton when a fourth down on the enemyís four-yard line had gained but one foot of the necessary two. Both touchdowns had resulted from long runs, a Kenly Hall quarter-back bringing glory to the Cherry-and-Black by a thirty-four-yard dash around the opponentís left and ďCricketĒ Menge, left half on the Gray-and-Gold team, evening things up a few minutes later by wrapping himself about a lateral pass and dodging and twirling his way over eleven white lines to a score.
After the first disappointment, Alton Academy, viewing the result more calmly and fairly, came to the conclusion that her gridiron warriors had gained more glory than had been thus far accorded them. Both Kenly Hall coach and captain had stated publicly that the team which had met Alton was the best eleven that had represented the Cherry-and-Black in six years, and if that was so Ė and certainly Alton Academy had no reason to doubt it!†Ė then Captain Grantís team Ė ďĎGeneralí Grantís ArmyĒ the football song called it Ė had secured a virtual victory in spite of the score. Careful analysis of the contest added strength to that verdict, for the records showed that Alton had outrushed her opponent by thirty-two yards, gained two more first downs than her ancient enemy had secured and had had slightly the better of the kicking argument. So on Monday night there was a delayed, but intensely enthusiastic, mass meeting in the auditorium and honor was done to the heroes. Everybody spoke who had any right to, and a few who hadnít, and there was much singing and a great deal of cheering. Clem and Mart, neither of them football enthusiasts, attended the celebration, as in duty bound, and ended by cheering quite as loudly as any. The testimonial had one result that the school in general never learned of. It decided a wavering Athletic Committee in favor of renewing Coach ďJohnnyĒ Cadeís contract, which terminated that Fall, for another two seasons. Prior to seven-thirty that Monday evening his last two yearsí record of one defeat and one tie, even when balanced against previous success, had looked more than black to the Committee. At nine oíclock it was viewing that record more leniently. And on Wednesday Coach Cade departed with a new contract in his trunk.ŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
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