Ralph Barbour.

Right Tackle Todd





Just as I did, Jim had said.

Yeah. But, say, kid, honest I wasnt meanin to bleed you. I really meant to go to Norwalk the day after I first saw you, just like I told you. But somethin sort o prevented.

Theres another thing, Webb. Im going to see the Judge in the morning before he goes into court. The Police Captain said hed fix it so I could. And Im going to tell him you aint really a a loafer, and about how good you used to be to me, Webb, and I guess he wont be hard on you. But if I do that you must give me back that money, whats left of it.

All of it? Well, but listen, kid, how am I goin to get to Norwalk?

Ill bring you enough for that. How much does it cost on the train?

Four dollars. Jim blinked at that, and then Webb had said: Thats a lie, kid. Two-eightys the price.

Ill get it. That other money, what you stole from Clem Harland, must go back to him. Remember, Webb, Ill have to pay back what you used of it, and the five dollars I borrowed for you besides, and it aint going to be easy. Fathers pretty hard up this year, and I dont get but ten dollars a month.

Yeah, I know about your father. I wrote and tried to make a touch awhile back, but nothin stirrin. Well, what you say goes, kid. Youre sure white, and I wont forget it.

When he had reached the door Webb had called: Say, kid, if youve got a quarter you aint needin you might hand it to the old guy there an tell him to fetch me in some supper. Ill bet the cuisine at this hotels rotten.

Jim had thrust a hand into an empty pocket and replied regretfully: I havent got it, Webb.

All right, kid. Dont you worry. I ate good a while back. See you to-morrow.

Now, staring at the unsullied sheet of note paper before him and tapping his teeth with the end of his fountain pen, Jim was wondering where and how he was to get two dollars and eighty cents to give to Webb in the morning. He was determined that all that was left of Clems twenty-two dollars should go back to him untouched. Webb ought to have more than the mere price of his fare, too. He seemed certain that he had only to reach Norwalk to find work, but he would have to have money for food to eat to-morrow and the part of the next at least. Four dollars wouldnt be a cent too much. Jim went to his closet and looked over his none too ample wardrobe. Jim knew nothing of institutions that loaned money on personal property and allowed you the privilege of redeeming it; he was trying to decide whether his heavy winter overcoat which, if truth were told, was far heavier than it was warm, or the light-weight suit he had worn back to school in the fall could be best given up. Either one ought to sell for a good deal more than four dollars; but how much more he didnt know. His movements dislodged the football from the shelf above and it dropped with a startling thud on his head. He picked it up and was looking it over appraisingly when the door opened and Clem entered.

Clem said Hello, glancing briefly from Jims face to the ball in his hands, and turned to his own closet to hang up his cap.

If there was anything unaccustomed in his tone Jim didnt notice it. He was thinking of what he had to say and wondering how Clem was going to take it. He walked back to the table, stared down at the waiting letter paper and, when Clem turned away from the closet, said: Im terribly sorry about what happened to-day, Clem.

After a slight hesitation Clem replied: Yes. Well, so am I, Jim. It sounded as though he had tried to speak lightly, but he had only succeeded in sounding oddly stiff. Jim looked across inquiringly, but Clem had seated himself on his side of the table and was pulling over his books.

Im going to get whats left of that money in the morning, Jim continued, and give it back to you. Theres only a little over sixteen dollars of it, though, and so Im owing you eleven now. Im going to write to dad and ask him to send me ten and take it out of my December and January allowances. Then then I thought of another way, but I dont know I aint sure about that yet.

Dont bother about it, said Clem. I dont care a hang if you never pay it back. He opened a book, propped his elbows and indicated that the subject was closed. Something in his voice and attitude puzzled Jim, and he jumped to a conclusion.

I guess I know how you feel, he said. It it isnt very pleasant to find that the fellow youre rooming with has a cousin well, a sort of a cousin whos a a thief. I sort of wish you hadnt gone over there with me, Clem.

Clem lifted his head and stared a moment. Then he laughed shortly. Well, I can certainly believe that! he said.

What I mean is if you hadnt known about Webb, about his being related to me, it wouldnt have troubled you. But Id sort of like you to believe that he aint isnt really bad, Clem. If you had known him five or six years ago

Look here, Jim, let me understand you. This cousin of yours, or whatever he is, is a neer-do-well, all right; I guess you could call him a bum without being sued for libel, but just what do you mean by calling him a thief?

Why, I well, I dont want to call him that, Clem, because I Im awfully fond of him, but I guess Ive got to, havent I, after what happened?

What did happen? asked Clem brusquely.

Jim stared in puzzlement. Why, he stole your money, Clem!

Oh, I see. Your cousin stole it.

Well well, didnt he? asked Jim. Didnt you see it? Didnt you hear what that man said, the Police Captain? I thought

Yes, I saw and heard both, Jim, and Look here, suppose we leave the word stole out of it. Lets say borrowed. It sounds better. Anyway, whats the good of talking about it any more? Youre sorry and Im sorry. Let it go that way.

We-ell, all right, answered Jim dubiously. Only I wanted you to know that you were going to get your money back, Clem.

Ive told you I didnt care about that. Besides, hang it all, Jim, if this fellow Webb stole it why dont you let him pay it back? If he stole it where does your liability come in?

Why, he couldnt pay it back, Clem. Or he wouldnt, I guess. Hes promised to go straight, but I dont know if he will. Im responsible, of course. If it wasnt for me he wouldnt have come here and taken it.

When was it he took it? asked Clem coldly.

About three, he said. The other night he saw you get your keys out and open the suit-case, and he heard us talking, and to-day

Saw us through the door, eh?

No, he says the door wasnt quite closed. But he didnt think of stealing the money until to-day. He came up here to ask me for another loan, and we were both out, and he remembered about the money in the suit-case and and took it.

And no one saw him? asked Clem incredulously.

He says Mr. Tarbot saw him go by his study but didnt pay any attention.

Thats hard to believe. And look here, Jim, I dont remember that door being ajar. My recollection is that you closed it tight when you came in from the hall.

I guess I meant to, but maybe I didnt, because Webb saw you go to your drawer and get the keys.

Clem jumped up impatiently, went to the door and set it open an inch or two. Like that? he asked, with a trace of sarcasm. Tell me how he could have seen me go to the closet and open the bag on the floor there.

He couldnt. Jim was finding his chums manner more puzzling every minute. He didnt say he did. He only said he saw you open the drawer and get the bunch of keys. The rest he just heard.

Clem shrugged as he closed the door again and went back to his chair. Jim was watching him anxiously, disturbed by something he couldnt define. Over there at the police station, said Clem, after a moments silence, the Captain told us that your friend said he got the money from you.

Yes, agreed Jim, frowning.

And you said so, too, didnt you?

Of course! What else could I say? I had to lie, Clem. If I hadnt theyd have accused him of theft. I thought you understood why I was doing it!

Oh! Yes, I see.

Suddenly Jim realized. Indignation sent the blood flooding up into his cheeks and for an instant his hands clutched the back of the chair on which they rested until the knuckles showed white. He stifled the exclamation of angry dismay that rushed to his lips, and in the moment he realized that, on evidence alone, Clem was fairly entitled to his belief. Yes, circumstances undoubtedly pointed to him rather than to Webb as the culprit! But the thought that Clem could believe him a thief, on any sort of evidence save that of his own eyesight, hurt him horribly. He felt almost sick for a minute.

Clems eyes were on the book opened before him, but I doubt that he saw the words there. He was secretly at odds with himself. He had returned to the room determined to make no reference to the affair of the stolen money. It had not occurred to him that Jim had sought to protect Webb. It did not occur to him now, seriously. Webb had demanded more money, Jim had known about the twenty-two dollars and had yielded to a sudden temptation. That was how Clem figured it. The mere act of thievery didnt seem so bad to him, nor did the loss of the money if it proved a loss trouble him at all. But he felt terribly injured, spiritually bruised, by the revelation that Jim could do so small and mean an act. He had, almost without realizing it, grown very fond of Jim, and now the discovery that the latter was not worthy of the affection wounded him sorely. But he had meant to keep all this to himself; Jim, he had thought, would be glad to say no more of the affair; and he would have done so if Jim had not made matters worse by attempting to shift the blame to Webb. That had turned Clems sorrow to disgust and, finally, to something close to anger. To him, accusing Webb was far worse than taking the money. The latter was capable of palliation if one granted sudden temptation, but to seek to clear himself at the expense of another, one who could not testify on his own behalf, was indefensible; it was the worst of all offenses to Clems eyes, it was poor sportsmanship!

Jims voice broke the silence finally. It was harsh and strained, for he was trying desperately to hide his hurt, and it was so low that it scarcely carried across the table.

Clem, he said, are you thinking that I stole that money?

Clem looked up, his face oddly expressionless. I thought we had agreed to leave that word out of it.

What does it matter what you call it? asked Jim, his voice trembling a trifle in spite of his efforts to keep it steady. You are thinking it! You dont dare look me in the face and deny it!

Clem frowned. Lets not be tiresome, Jim. Its done. Lets not say anything more about it.

There was another silence. Then: All right, said Jim. I will never speak of it again until you do. The strained expression went out of his face, but it remained white and grim as he seated himself in his chair and took up his pen once more. Now there was no hesitation. The sprawling letters followed each other rapidly across the white sheet. Friday, he wrote; Dear Father: I am sorry to have to ask you for money again but I must have twelve dollars within a few days. This is right important. I want you should take it out of my allowances for December, January and February, so Im not asking anything extra. Please try hard to send me this twelve dollars just as soon as you get this letter. Im not in trouble, so you dont need to be worried any, and when I see you Ill tell you what I have to have it for. I am well and getting along nicely

Jim paused there and stared sadly at the base of the lamp for a long moment before he went on.

CHAPTER XIV
IN THE JUDGES CHAMBER

Jim was the first one at the training table the next morning and the first one away, and it wasnt much after half-past eight when he emerged from Haylow and made his way across the campus. Under one arm he carried his football. At West street he turned to the left and, about a third of the way along the block, turned in under a swinging sign on which a football was portrayed. It was a prosperous looking store whose well-filled shelves and cases and counters offered everything in the athletic and sporting goods lines. At this time of morning there were no customers, and the only occupant was a youth of nineteen or twenty, a graduate of the Academy and a resident of the town. To him Jim explained his errand.

I bought this football here awhile back, he stated, and its never been used any to speak of. Hasnt even been out of my room until to-day. You can see its almost like new.

Yes, I see, but whats the matter with it? The clerk was examining the stitching frowningly.

Nothing, said Jim, but I aint got any more use for it and I thought maybe you could sell it again.

Well, I dont know. Its just about as good as a new one, Mr. Todd; Ive got you right, havent I? You are Todd of the Eleven, arent you? I thought so. Well, as I was saying, Id like to oblige you, but we dont very often have calls for second-hand footballs. I dont suppose we ever had, still Ill be glad to do what I can for you. Ill take it on sale, Mr. Todd. Its kind of late now, though, and the demand for footballs is about over.

I wanted you to buy it from me, said Jim. I need the money right away.

Oh! Well, I dont see how we could do that. If Mr. Emerson was here he might be willing to do it, but he isnt. I dont see much of him at this time of the year. Guess hes pretty busy playing football. He telephones a couple of times a week, but he may not call up to-day.

Jims disappointment showed plainly. Well, Ive got to have the money this morning, he muttered. I Id sell it back to you right cheap.

How cheap? asked the clerk. You paid seven for this, didnt you?

Six-thirty. I got the academy discount.

Thats right. Well, how much do you want for it?

Four, answered Jim.

Well, I dont say it isnt worth it, said the other dubiously, but I guess three and a half would be the best I could get for it, if it sold at all.

Three and a half? Jim considered. All right, Ill take three and a half.

I may get stuck on it, said the clerk hesitantly, but Ill take a chance. Mind, Im doing this, not the store, Mr. Todd. I wouldnt have any right to risk the stores money like this.

Jim nodded. The point wasnt important to him, and he was trying to think of some way in which to get the other fifty cents of the four dollars. The clerk took three dollars and a half from his pocket, handed the sum across the counter and the transaction was completed. Jim hurried out.

Had he passed that way half an hour later and looked in the left-hand window he would have seen his ball prominently displayed above a card on which was printed: Shopworn A Bargain at $4.50.

Further along on the opposite side of the street was a tiny jewelry store. On the single narrow window was printed The Diamond Palace I. Kohn & Son. Crossing the street, Jim removed his cuff-links. Whether they were solid gold or merely plated had never interested him before, but he hoped now that they were solid. They were, and after Mr. Kohn, Junior, a personable youth with extremely red cheeks, a diminutive black mustache and brilliantly shining hair smoothed back from his forehead, had carefully satisfied himself on that point he asked severely: You want to sell them?

Jim said that he did. Young Mr. Kohn shrugged, laid them back on a rusty square of purple velvet and pushed the square toward the customer. We dont buy second-hand jewelry, he said. Jim picked up the links. If you want to sell those for old gold, well pay you what theyre worth.

Jim hesitated. How much? he asked.

Mr. Kohn, Junior, weighed the links on a small scales, out of sight of Jim, by the way, and replied; A dollar and a half. They dont weigh quite so much, but Ill call it a dollar and a half even.

Theyre worth more than that, answered Jim, remembering that there were at least six more jewelry stores in town.

Not for old gold they aint.

Well, I guess I dont want to sell them, said Jim.

How much you think theyre worth? asked the other, still keeping the cuff-links.

Two dollars.

Youre making fun of me, answered the other, smiling patiently. I aint saying they aint worth two dollars to you for cuff-links, because maybe theyd be worth three, but for old gold

All right, replied Jim, holding out his hand.

Say, aint you one of the fellows that plays with the football team over to the Academy? asked young Mr. Kohn.

Yes.

Sure! I recognized you when I see you coming in the door. You was playing in that game last week, wasnt you? Sure! Well, now, listen, to you Ill say a dollar and seventy-five cents. If papa was here hed skin me, but Im a great feller for football, and

Jim was pointing through the top of the case to a pair of cheap imitation gold cuff-links fixed in a small card. Ill let you have them for a dollar, seventy-five and those links there.

I couldnt, positively! Mr. Kohn, Junior, extracted the links in question from the tray and read the cryptic figures on a corner of the soiled card. Say, you know what these sell for. Sixty-five cents! Look for yourself!

g n l read Jim. That dont spell sixty-five to me; it spells twenty-five.

Perhaps Mr. Kohn, Junior, was not without a sense of humor, for he chuckled quite humanly, hesitated a moment and finally turned to a huge safe at the back of the narrow shop. Say, you got a cheek, aint you? he asked almost approvingly. I got to give you that. I guess you football fellers is great bluffers maybe. He counted out a dollar and seventy-five cents. There you are, Mister. Call again. Good morning. Jim took the money and the awful cuff-links and departed. After he had gone young Mr. Kohn rubbed his purchase diligently with a soiled chamois, fixed them to a card, wrote l d b in a corner and placed them on a glass shelf. In the obscure code of the Diamond Palace l d b signified that the article was to be disposed of for five dollars. As, however, the proprietors permitted themselves the privilege of reducing their goods twenty per centum below the marked prices to secure a sale it was possible that Jims cuff-links might some day go for as little as four dollars.

On his way to the Police Station Jim put his new purchases in place and felt vastly more comfortable. The Captain was not in, but the stout Sergeant served as well and conducted Jim up a broad flight of much-worn steps to the second floor of the building. Facing the top of the staircase, a wide portal, its double doors swung open, showed the court room in possession of a few loungers and a clerk busily at work under the judges desk. Jim, however, was conducted past the doorway and to a smaller door at the end of the hall. The Sergeant knocked, received no answer and looked in.

He aint come yet. You set down, kid, and make yourself comfortable. Hell be along in a minute or two.

The Sergeant left him and Jim took one of the several severe-looking chairs and waited. He didnt have to wait long, for presently brisk steps sounded on stairs and corridor and a middle-aged man in a closely-fitting suit of small gray checks and a bright red necktie swung through the doorway. Jim arose. The Judge grunted, dropped a bag on the desk, placed a morning paper atop, hung his derby hat in a wardrobe, sank into a swivel chair and lighted a cigar. All these things were done very briskly, so that Jim was on his feet less than a minute before the Judge waved him back to it.

Want to see me? asked the Judge in an accusing voice.

Yes, sir, if you please. Jim wondered if he should have said Your Honor. But if he had failed in respect the Judge let it pass. He shifted his cigar so that the smoke allowed him a view of the visitor and, after a longing glance at the newspaper, crossed one plump knee over the other.

What about?

About one of the the prisoners, sir.

Coming before me this morning?

Yes, sir, so the Police Captain said, and he said I could see you before court began and tell you about him. You see, Judge, Webb is all right, only

Whats his name?

Webb Todd, but he called himself Webster when they arrested him.

Gave an assumed name, eh? Whats he charged with?

Vagrancy, sir.

That all?

Yes, sir.

Well, there have been too many vagrants around here lately, and I guess its about time some of them were made examples of. What do you know about this Webster?

So Jim, beginning rather timorously but soon forgetting his awe of the listener, said his say. He made Webb out rather a fine character, and once or twice the Judges cigar trembled in his mouth and the Judges keen gray eyes, which werent really half so steel-like as he tried to make them, softened. Jim told how Webb had taught him to swim and pull an oar and use a paddle and had, in short, looked after him like an elder brother for so many years. And he told how Webb had dived into icy water that time when Jim had gone beneath the logs and had saved his life. Now and then the Judge asked a question, and one of them was Whats your name? and another was Youre the boy they call Slim Todd, arent you? And finally, to Jims utter surprise, he and the Judge were talking football!





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