Ralph Barbour.

Right Tackle Todd





But the next morning Clem arose in a kindly and even expansive mood. It was Sunday, there was no work to be done and the sun was shining brightly on the best of worlds. So he began promptly to show Jim that everything was to be just as it had been almost and sustained a distinct surprise when Jim failed or refused to read the signs. Jim was calm and polite, but he was also brief and reserved. In fact, somewhat to Clems indignation, Jim appeared to be trying to swipe Clems r?le of Wounded Virtue! Hang it all, Jim sounded as if it were his feelings that had been outraged and hurt! Clem couldnt make it out, and after a few futile efforts to re?stablish the former entente he relapsed into silence. Oh, well, if the idiot didnt appreciate his intentions he could could chase his blind aunt! He, Clem, was through!

So, on the whole Sunday wasnt a very merry day in Number 15 Haylow, and the days that followed werent much better save in so far as that both Jim and Clem became gradually accustomed to the estrangement as time passed. Clem sought other companionship and seldom remained in the room after supper and Jim redoubled his interest in football and the affairs of the Maine-and-Vermont Society. Perhaps it would be more truthful to say that he sought to redouble his interest, for he didnt really succeed. In fact, he wasnt getting along so well on the gridiron these days. The process of making a star tackle out of Jim Todd appeared to have reached an end. By the last of the week he seemed to have retired permanently to the substitute status and even Mulford filled in as often as he did. Lowell Woodruff was puzzled and distressed. Lowell liked to believe that he had in a manner discovered Slim Todd; or that, if the actual discovery wasnt his, he had at least preserved it to the world and established its value. He broached the subject of Jims slump to Clem one evening.

I dont know whats happened to the blighter, he said plaintively. Up to a week or so ago he was going great and Johnny was building plays around him. But now look at the blamed thing! Hes forgetting everything he ever learned and a babe in arms could make him look like a joke. This was an exaggeration, but Lowell dealt in exaggerations.

I fancy, answered Clem, plainly evasive, that hes not feeling very fit, Woodie.

Fit my eye! Hes fit but he wont fight! Somethings taken all the pep out of him. Know what it is?

Clem shook his head. Lowell eyed him sharply and said in pained tones: Youre a liar, Clem.

Clem blustered a little but Lowell refused to retract. Yes, you are, he insisted. But I suppose its something you cant talk about, so Ill forgive you.

Better let it go at that, said Clem, grinning. Anyway, I guess the team will survive without Jim.

Oh, sure. It would survive without any fellow on the squad; even Gus; but that doesnt mean we want to lose a good, promising player, you old coot, and if you know of any way of waking Jim up out of his trance I wish to goodness youd try it.

Ive exhausted all my methods. When I talk to him he just grins and nods and says, Maybe youre right, Woodruff or Theres nothing the matter with me. Youll see to-morrow. Well, I look and I dont see. Perhaps the chap has a secret sorrow or or something. Any of his folks ill that you know of?

Clem shook his head.

How does he stand with the Office? Hear of any trouble?

No, hes all right there. He always is. Hes a shark.

Oh, well, I give it up. Just one more good man gone wrong, I suppose. But if you have any influence

I havent, interrupted Clem shortly. Lets drop it.

So Lowell dropped it, but he wasnt satisfied. He retired from the conversation firmly convinced that Clem knew a heap more than he would acknowledge and that if Clem was in any way responsible for Jims deficiency boiling oil was far too good for him.

On Wednesday Jim received a check for twelve dollars from his father, cashed it at the Office and laid the sum of ten dollars and fifty-nine cents on Clems chiffonier. For some inexplicable reason the finding of the money seemed to annoy Clem, for he swept it into one hand and fairly hurled it into the top drawer. Jim, observing the strange action, made no comment. You just couldnt account for Clems behavior and moods any more!

CHAPTER XVI
JIM DABBLES IN STRATEGY

November was nearly a fortnight old and football was fairly on the home-stretch. With the New Falmouth game out of the way, Alton had still to face Mount Millard, Oak Grove and Kenly Hall, the first two at home, the latter at Lakeville. Frosty nights and frequent chill and lowery days had taken the place of October mildness, and football enthusiasm, which, like the witch hazel, only comes into full blossom after the tang of frost is in the air, was rampant. Football tunes were heard in the dormitories and wherever two or more fellows were gathered together the talk was of the team and of Kenly Halls warriors and of the prospects of a Gray-and-Gold victory. In short, it was the season of the year when most normal American youths talk, think and dream football.

Kenly Hall had won her five games with seeming ease, rolling up large scores on three occasions, and Alton scouts had returned to speak with much respect of the Cherry-and-Black. Those seeking light on the comparative merits of Alton and Kenly had little to work on. Lorimer Academy was the only adversary appearing on the schedules of both. Alton had won from Lorimer 6 to 0. Kenly had defeated Lorimer 27 to 6. From these scores a variety of conclusions could be and were drawn. Pessimists pointed gloomily to the fact that whereas Alton had been able to put over but one touchdown against Lorimer, Kenly had made four. Optimists dwelt on the fact that although unable to cross Altons goal-line Lorimer had found Kenlys pregnable. So there you were. Unlimited argument was possible.

Coach Cade and his assistants, though, had more information to work on. To them it was known that Kenly had a heavy, powerful team which had developed early in the season and which had yet to meet opposition strong enough to thoroughly test it. Kenlys line was strong, if sluggish, and her backfield had weight and experience. So far her backs had shown better ability at plunging than at running plays, and Kenly had won her battles largely on assaults inside and outside tackles. If she had any running game it had not been shown, and the same was only slightly less true of her kicking. In short, Kenly appeared to be standing pat on the style of football played by her last year and the year before; and for several years before that. She was using a fairly well diversified attack inasmuch as she used short over-the-line passes inside the opponents forty-yard line and pulled off an end run, not often successfully, frequently enough to keep the adversary in doubt. If the Cherry-and-Black had one weakness it was in the position of quarter-back. She had tried out three men there and none had exhibited much genius for generalship, although all had plenty of skill as players. Coach Cade drew most satisfaction from the fact that so far Kenly had persisted along old lines and still showed no disposition to upset his plans by introducing innovation.

On the Tuesday following the New Falmouth game the second team, when it faced the first for the first scrimmage of the week, discovered that the opponent was using a new arrangement of the backs. Quarter and one half-back stood five yards behind the line of scrimmage, the former opposite left tackle, the latter opposite the guard-tackle hole on the right. The other half-back and the full-back stood three yards behind the first two, the first directly back of center and the second directly back of the outside half. With this arrangement every pass from center was necessarily made straight to the runner and every member of the back-field was eligible to take a forward pass. There was no variation of the formation save for drop or place-kicking. The punting was done by Whittier from approximately six yards behind the center. This necessitated getting kicks off quickly, but Steve was equal to it. The first teams first punt from the new formation so surprised the second team that the ball went over the defensive backs head!

Combined with line shifts of various sorts, the new backfield formation showed more and more merit as the season progressed. Plays in which the back received the ball while moving seemed especially adapted to it since speed was one thing that the Gray-and-Gold backfield possessed. Such plays demand extreme nicety in their execution and following the New Falmouth game the blackboard became a prominent feature in the instruction and dummy drills a favorite occupation. Evening sessions were held five times a week and plays were set forth in diagram on the blackboard and then walked through on the gymnasium floor. A second volunteer coach had appeared in the person of an old Alton player named Lake, and to him fell the task of putting the final polish on the backs. Football at Alton was now running under forced draft.

Thursday, which would ordinarily have seen a hard practice in preparation for Mount Millard, was very nearly a wasted day, for a hard rain set in about mid-morning and continued until long after dark. The gridiron became a squashy, soggy territory interspersed with miniature lakes by three oclock, and so, although the afternoon was to have been devoted to the perfecting of several plays to be used on Saturday, the best coaches and players could do was to hold a blackboard party in the gymnasium. Five first-string men were to go to Lakeville Saturday to watch Kenly play Comerford and the players who were to take their places were none too well drilled in their r?les. Jim was one of the latter, for Rolls Roice was included in the scouting expedition, and he and George Mulford would both be called on to fill in. Jim suspected that Mulford would be Mr. Cades first choice, and the suspicion didnt worry him at all. Of course he would rather play against Mount Millard than sit on the bench, but whether he was put in at left tackle at the start or only sent in as a substitute for Mulford or Sawyer didnt matter much to him. He paid strict attention to the blackboard talk and went through formations and signal drill afterwards conscientiously enough, but his heart wasnt in it. The squad was dismissed early, with instructions to report there again at seven-fifteen for a night session, and Jim trailed back to Haylow through the downpour to find, whether to his relief or disappointment he couldnt have said, Number 15 empty.

He was up on his studies for Friday, and so he tried to read a story in a magazine, stretching his long form on the window-seat and holding the pages close to the pane in the dim white light. But the story failed to win his interest, and after a while he arose, found his rules book, a pad of paper and a pencil and began to make lines and circles and crosses. Lots of times, lying wakeful in bed, Jim had concocted quite marvelous plays in his mind. At least, they had seemed marvelous at the time. Now he proposed to set them down on paper and see what they really looked like. It proved to be a most entertaining, even absorbing, occupation. The plays he had figured out in bed, or, at least, the few he could remember now, werent at all startling when put to the test. Indeed, few of them were original even to Jim, and those that were transgressed some rule of play. A perfectly gorgeous end-run looked like a world-beater until it dawned on its inventor that it depended for its effectiveness on the presence of a back between tackle and end and that if the back put himself there one of the other line-men would have to drop out. But difficulties were made to be overcome, problems to be solved, and as soon as one diagram had been proved valueless Jim tore off a sheet from the pad and began all over again. When it was almost too dark to see he heard Clems steps in the corridor and gathered the discarded sheets up very quickly and stuffed them in a pocket. He suspected that trying to discover football plays not already discovered was a puerile pursuit, and he didnt want Clem to catch him at it. What he did not have time to do, however, before the door opened was to tear off the top sheet of the pad on which he had just finished the plan for a forward-pass. So he dropped the pad face-down beside him, and when Clem entered he was innocently gazing through the rain-washed pane at the dripping trees and sodden turf below.

Hello, said Clem. Why the gloom?

Too lazy to get up, replied Jim. Clem put the lights on and viewed his room-mate curiously. Probably, he had thought, the poor duffers sort of blue and lonesome. And, being sorry, he was prepared to eat dirt, if necessary, to put things back on something like the old footing. But Jim was thinking of the last play he had fashioned. It had looked good to him, although there had not been time to go over it thoroughly after completion. He wished that Clem had delayed his arrival by another five minutes; or would take himself out again so that he could study the new play at his leisure. Consequently, when Clem looked for pathos in Jims face he didnt find it. Jim looked anything but lonesome and unhappy. Sitting in the dark and staring out onto a rain-drenched world, which would have given Clem the dumps in no time, appeared to have an animating, even cheering, effect on his room-mate. Clem grunted as he turned to hang up his cap.

No practice to-day, I suppose, he remarked, returning to the table.

Only indoors. What sort of a team does Mount Millard have generally?

Fair to middling, I believe. Seems to me theyve beaten us once or twice. I think they licked us in my freshman year. I forget, though. Maybe it was the year before, and I just heard talk of it. You playing Saturday?

Guess so. Ill probably get in for a while. Roice is going to Lakeville with three or four other fellows to see Kenly Hall play.

I see. Clem settled himself in a chair under the light and began to read over a theme that had been returned to him that morning, frowning over the red-penciled criticisms that adorned the margins. Surreptitiously Jim tore the top sheet off the pad, folded it and consigned it to a pocket for future reference. When supper time came Clem showed no disposition to leave, so Jim went to the lavatory first. There, finding it empty for the moment, he disposed of soap and towel and drew out the diagram and studied it for a moment under the light. He was still so occupied when footfalls beyond the swinging doors caused him to thrust the paper hurriedly from sight again. The arrival proved to be Clem, but Jim didnt take the paper out again. He washed and went back to the room for his cap and was soon on his way to Lawrence Hall and supper. In other times he and Clem had always gone together, but now they carefully avoided doing that. Sometimes the avoidance resulted in quite embarrassing situations; as when, a night or so before, Clem had started off first only to stop in the lower corridor to talk to an acquaintance and Jim had come down just as Clem and the other chap were parting. Jim had had to retrace his steps to the mail-boxes and search for a letter he knew wasnt there.

At supper he asked a question of Jake Borden, the right end, who sat beside him. How do they make up these plays they use, Jake? Jim inquired.

What plays? asked Jake.

Any of them. Like that end-around play the second sprung yesterday.

Oh, that ones as old as the hills, replied Jake contemptuously, helping himself to a third piece of toast. So old we werent expecting it. Going to use your butter, Slim?

Jim pushed it over. Well, who do you suppose thought of it? And and how?

Search me! Some ones always springing new ones. It isnt hard to make em up, but only one in a dozen amount to anything. A play may look great on a blackboard and not amount to a row of pins when you try it out against another team.

I suppose so. I guess there are lots of them, too.

A couple of hundred, probably. Whose apricots are those, Pep?

Mine. Want em?

When the dish of stewed fruit had reached Jake and been sampled he resumed. I dont suppose theres any limit to the different plays that could be invented. Of course, most of them would be a whole lot like a whole lot of others, and not many of them would be er practicable, but just consider that youve got, say, four backs and two linemen who can carry the ball and that there are eight holes for them to go through. There youve got forty-eight straight plays right off the reel. Then youve got all sorts of forward-passes, punts, drops and placements: maybe another twenty-five or thirty. And you havent started on fakes and tricks at all yet! Two hundred? Ill bet there are three hundred already! And all over this benighted land Smart Alecks are sitting up with paper and pencils trying to dope out more. Its a fearsome thought, if you ask me.

I suppose all the good plays have been used, anyway, by this time, reflected Jim.

Well, I dont know. No, I dont believe so. Besides, the Rules Committee sees to that. Just as soon as there arent any more nut plays to spring on us poor players the Committee changes the rules and the parlor strategists start all over again. And then theres this forward-pass, Slim. Thats got all sorts of possibilities that havent been what you might call developed yet. Last year folks thought there wasnt anything new under the sun and two or three wild western coaches had brain-storms and showed the eastern guys how theyd been asleep at the switch. You know, Slim, it takes those western chaps to spring the new stuff. If it wasnt for them we fellows back here in the effete east would still be thinking the criss-cross the absolute knees plush ultra of trick football!

What are you fellows gassing about so earnest-like? inquired Tip Benning from across the table.

Football plays, answered Jake. I was saying that if it wasnt for the fellows out west wed still be doddering along with the delayed pass and the good old criss-cross. Theyre the guys who give us the new stuff.

How do you get that way? demanded Billy Frost derisively. Who invented the unbalanced line, for instance?

Well, who invented the shift? And what about the pass to moving back? And

All right! What about the concealed pass? I suppose Harvard sent west for that? And what about Cornells

Ill tell you one play the west did invent, interrupted Latham, and thats the concealed ball trick! It took an Indian to spring that, and if Indians arent Westerners

Listen! Who was coaching the Indians that year? demanded Billy Frost.

How do I know? I wasnt born, I guess!

Well, it was a man named Warner. Maybe youve heard of him?

Ive heard of two Warners, laughed Latham. One of em makes speedometers.

Well, Ill bet that Indian would never have thought of hiding the ball under his jersey. It was the coach pulled that one. And, anyway, it was against the rules.

No, sir, it wasnt! Not then. Anyhow, the Indians won the game with it!

Come to that, some one else broke in, Glenn Warners a Westerner, anyway, isnt he? Didnt he go to Cornell?

What of it? asked Jake. Say, where do you think Cornell is? The first speaker had to acknowledge that he had confused it with Kenyon, and while Coach Cade, at the farther end of the long table, was being appealed to to locate Kenyon College, Jim left the board.

Back in his room he settled down to study that forward-pass play again. He had told himself, coming back from Lawrence, that there was probably nothing in it, or, if there was, the play had long since been evolved. Still, however, Jake Borden had distinctly stated that the forward-pass still held unthought of possibilities, and so it was barely possible

Right there his reflections were rudely disturbed by the fact that his precious diagram was not where he had placed it. Nor was it in any other pocket. All he could find were the several crumpled sheets of paper he had thrust from sight before Clems arrival. Probably he had failed to put in safely back in his vest pocket in the lavatory and it had fallen out. He tore the discarded diagrams into minute pieces and placed them well at the bottom of the waste-basket. Then he proceeded to redraw his forward-pass play.

When it was again accomplished he tried to find its weak points. He made certain by repeated reference to the rules book, now pretty well worn and parting from its covers, that he had not violated any of the twenty-eight mandates, and after that he viewed it from the enemys side. In the end he decided that the play was perfectly legal and that it was capable of success, but those facts made him doubly suspicious of its originality, and, after admiring it for some time and speculating about it and trying to improve it, he crumpled the paper up and dropped it, too, into the basket. He guessed he was no football strategist.





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