Ralph Barbour.

Right Tackle Todd





This is plenty, said Jim earnestly, his voice low. Thanks, Clem. Its mighty good of you. He disappeared once more and again the door closed tightly behind him. Clem stared in a puzzled way, then shrugged his shoulders, returned the four gold pieces and two crumpled dollar bills to the old envelope and tossed the latter back into the bag. Then he turned the key, placed the suit-case back on the shelf and dropped the key-ring into the drawer in the chiffonier. When he had rescued his book from the window-seat and pulled the curtains across the casements, Jim had returned to the room. He had paused inside the door, his back against it, and was staring thoughtfully at the floor. Then, before Clem thought of anything to say, he roused himself and came to the table.

I guess youre wondering about about that fellow, he said slowly, and me lending him money.

Well, curiosity wont hurt me, answered Clem cheerfully. Its no affair of mine, Jim, and you dont owe any explanations.

Hes a fellow I used to know pretty well, Jim went on. He we used to live close together and he was always mighty good to me when I was a little codger. Hes been having trouble lately; out of work and the like of that, Clem; and hes sort of lost hold, I guess. I ran across him yesterday afternoon on State street. He was looking for me to get a little money to carry him along. I gave him three dollars and a half. Thats all I had. Thats why I had to ask you for that five dollars just now.

I see. But that chap doesnt expect you to lend him money right along, I hope. Eight dollars in two days is fairly steep, isnt it?

Jim nodded. He said yesterday he was going to Norwalk. Said he had a job promised him there. But it seems he didnt have enough money left this morning for his ticket. So he wanted me to lend him some more.

Well, thats all right, said Clem. Lets hope he gets his job. To speak right out in meeting, Jim, I didnt like his looks much, and his hands didnt seem to me to show many signs of hard and honest labor. Also, if youll pardon me for seeming disrespect to a friend of yours or, let us say, acquaintance I thought I detected an aroma about him that well, it wasnt exactly the odor of sanctity, Jim.

Yes, I noticed it, too, replied Jim sadly. I guess hes been sort of up against things and and discouraged, Clem. Hes had no job for more than a month, he says. But I made him promise me hed behave if I let him have that five. And I guess he will. He used to be such a nice fellow, Clem!

Too bad, said Clem sympathetically. Lost his grip, I suppose. Well, maybe hell land on his feet again. I dare say its not any too easy to keep straight, Jim, when youre on your uppers. Dont you think of paying back that five, old son, until you get it back from that fellow, no matter if its ten years from now. I dont need it.

Thanks, but Id rather pay it as soon as I get my allowance, Jim protested.

Thatll be about ten days from now.

Youre a stubborn old Maineiac, said Clem sadly, but have your own way about it. Meanwhile, has it occurred to you that the time is twelve minutes past six and that if we want food wed better get a move on us? Of course, you, being on the training table, dont need to worry so much, but where I battle for sustenance its a case of first come, first get it! And, added Clem, waving a towel as he made for the door, there are those at my table who have no conscience at all where another mans butter is concerned!

CHAPTER XI
THE ART OF LINE PLAYING

On Wednesday a stranger appeared at practice. He was a large, broad-shouldered man of perhaps twenty-five or twenty-six years, with a jovial voice and a pleasant smile. He wore a nondescript assortment of football togs among which was a blue sweater bearing a white Y. He did not, however, retain the sweater long, for five minutes after practice had started he was down by the farther goal in charge of a bunch of guards and tackles. With the sweater he seemed to have discarded the jovial voice and the pleasant smile. Presently the rumor spread that the stranger was one Myers, an Alton guard of some years before and, more recently, the Myers who had helped put Yale back on the football map. Also, rumor had it, he was to remain at Alton until the Kenly game and take charge of the linemen.

That afternoon Jim added not a little to his knowledge of playing in the line. Myers spent much time showing his charges how to stand, both on attack and defense. After Hick Powers, invited by the coach to take his position on attack, had set himself, Myers charged into him and sent him sprawling on his back. There you are, said Myers. You were all right for a straight-on attack, but your feet were too much on a line for a side-swipe. You cant always tell how the other fellow is going to come at you. Try it again. Spread wider. All right. Hold it! Not too much weight on your hand, though. Just steady yourself with your finger-tips. Now you fellows study that position. You see that this man is set so that no matter how I may come at him hes got stability. This right foot is far enough behind the left so that I cant throw him off his balance by going straight into him, and far enough to the right so that I cant throw him to his left by charging him sidewise. All of you take that stance. You fourth chap there, bring that rear foot out more. Thats better. Now look at your feet and see how youre standing. Got it? Good! One thing more before we drop the attack position. Dont anchor yourself by putting your weight on your hands. What you are doing is taking the position of a sprinter, and the sprinter doesnt put the weight of his upper body on his hands. If he did hed do one of two things when the pistol barked; hed either plunge forward on his face or hed have to shift his weight back to his legs before he left the mark. Youre using that position because its the position that will get you into play quickest. But your weight must always be on your feet. Never use your fingers to more than steady yourself. Myself, I like to put only one hand to the ground. I let my left hand point back. It seems to me that it helps me start. But thats not important. Use both hands if it seems better for you. Only, and Im repeating this purposely, dont get anchored. And when I say put the weight on the feet, I dont mean, of course, that youre to distribute the weight evenly. The front foot carries most of the weight. It sets flat on the ground. The rear foot holds the ground only with the ball and the toes. But you know that, even if you dont know that you know it!

Now lets take the position on defense. The other side has the ball. Show me now. Not bad, the most of you. Several of you are too high. Remember this, fellows. Up and forward is the direction, not just forward. You must come from below and push upward first. Then forward. Up and forward! Remember that. Ever see a clay pigeon released from a trap? Well, thats the way you fellows ought to charge. Just as though some one had released a spring and sent you straight and hard into the air. Straddle well, keep your head up, hold your arms wide and your hands open and then snap! Dont go at it like a crane lifting a block of stone, slow and steady. Dont try any tank warfare. Speed, fellows! Get the jump every time! Drive into him from below and push him up and back, and do it before he can throw his weight to meet you. And when you charge know what youre going to do, where youre going to apply your power. Be ready with your hands. Theyll get there before your body. And then dont stride forward. Use the short, quick crawling steps youve been taught. Then youll get the power from low down. But if you dont keep your back straight that power, originating in your legs, wont reach your arms. Therell be a break in the line of transmission. Now, then, lets try it. Set wide and get steady. Elbows out, hands ready. Go! Not bad. You fellow with the long legs, you make your steps too long. Duck-walk it. This way. Waddle waddle waddle! See? Try it again. Better. All right for that. One more thing, though. Dont neglect to hog every inch the officials will let you get away with. Your hand, the left if you use it to balance with, the right if you use but one, will be in advance of every portion of your body except your head. Find out how far forward you can set your hand without bringing your head beyond your scrimmage line and always put it there. The difference of even six inches counts. Now well see how much you remember. Lets have two lines here. Ill snap the ball. This sides attacking. Now remember that position first. All right. Get down to it. Here we go!

Afterwards, during the thirty minutes scrimmage with the scrubs, Myers dogged the first team every moment. Keep your back straight, right guard! Lock it! Watch your feet, right tackle! Thats not the way I showed you, not by a long sight! You played too high, left guard! You let your man under you! Charge from below! Great jumpin Judas! Use your hands, center! That man ought never to have got through! And so it went, with Coach Cade making life merry for the backs, Captain Gus doing a little criticizing on his own hook and the quarter imploring the gray empyrean for just one man who could keep his signals straight! Jim played a long session that Wednesday afternoon, and he finished with the suspicion that football practice, as the season neared its climax, was going to be something quite different from anything he had imagined. But he was going to like it. He knew that!

That evening coaches and players met again in Mr. Cades quarters and a long session developed. Jim was not among the eight or nine players invited, and he spent most of the evening going over the affairs of the Maine-and-Vermont Society, which, with a present membership of nearly forty, was in flourishing condition. Last of all, he wrote politely imperative reminders to delinquent members on Clems small typewriter. Jim was not an accomplished typist and he spent a good deal more time than he would have consumed had he written the notes by hand. But there is no denying that the typed results possessed a certain air of authority that Jims sprawling writing would have failed to attain, and this in spite of many erasures and several misspelled words. Clem came back while Jim was still struggling with the envelopes and offered advice of no value and laughed immoderately at the way Jims tongue stuck out when he was hunting for what he called the pedals. Jim finally ended his task and assembled the half-dozen missives atop his chiffonier for delivery on the morrow, looking not a little triumphant.

Arent you going to put stamps on them? asked Clem from the depths of his arm-chair.

Stamps cost money, replied Jim, shaking his head. Im my own postman.

Thats a swell society! Doesnt allow the secretary money for postage!

Yes, it does, but the secretary has good legs, countered Jim. Its no trouble to dump these things in the letter boxes in the halls as I go by. You see, Clem, I was brought up economical!

That so? Clem yawned and began to unlace a shoe. Maybe they dont have stamps in Maine. I suppose when you write a letter at home, Jim, you put your snowshoes on and hike across country with it, eh? Say, talking of societies, how would you like to join Janus?

Me? said Jim. That the one you belong to? Whats it cost?

Not much. Anyway, a fellow doesnt generally ask the cost of joining, old son; he looks grateful and kisses his benefactors hand. Janus, Jim, is well, its Janus. Nough said. If you belong to Janus youre made for life.

Huh, said Jim, thats what you hear about all of em. Guess its too high for my pocket-book, Clem. Much obliged, though.

Dont be a goof! This, old son, is one of lifes fine moments. Why, dog my cats, youre only the third senior thats ever been proposed. Either you make it in your junior year or you dont make it at all.

Mean that Ive been proposed? Who did it? You?

Exactly. And I dont think theres any doubt about you getting through. Hang it, show a little enthusiasm, you cold-blooded fish! Dont you understand youre being honored? Say Hooray!

Yeah, but, honest, Clem, I dont believe I could afford it. Im sort of hard-up right now, and I guess likely Ill be that way for some time.

Well, but I thought Its none of my business, Jim, but isnt your father pretty comfortable?

Jim shook his head. No, he isnt, Clem. Not lately. I guess you dont know what a hard time country folks have nowadays, farmers especially. They cant get money for what they raise like they could a few years ago. Up our way most farmers raise potatoes for their main crop, but theyre a good ways from the market and lots of times it dont pay em to ship em. Right on our place Ive seen more than two hundred bushels raised on a little piece of ground and piled in the cellar, and theyd be there, most of em, in the Spring. After youd paid for bags and carting and freight to Boston and commission to the produce man youd be out of pocket. Same way with hogs and most everything else now. Theres money in lumber, but its the fellows in the cities gets it. When folks havent got money to spend, they dont spend it, and dads business aint very good any more. The only way I could come back here this year was by earning some money last summer. Thats why I went to that sporting camp. You see, I could have gone to college this Fall if Id been willing to. Id have had a couple of conditions, though, and I thought it would be better to come here another year. Besides, I I got to liking Alton pretty well, and when you wrote you were willing to let me come in with you I just made up my mind Id put in another year here. But I couldnt very well ask dad to pay for all of it. I made enough at the camp to pay my tuition, and dad he allows me ten dollars a month for extras and spending money. Now Im in debt to you five dollars, Clem, and Ive got to go sort of careful or I wont have enough money to get home Christmas time.

Thats kind of tough, mused Clem. Funny, but I had an idea that your folks were pretty well fixed. Anyhow, dont you worry about getting home, old son. Theres still money in the strong-box!

Id borrow if I found I had to, I guess, said Jim, but I guess I wont have to. Giving that money to Webb the fellow who was up here the other day, you know, sort of put me short, but now hes gone I guess I wont

Gosh! That reminds me, Jim! Id nearly forgotten it. Say, I dont believe he has gone, that guy. This afternoon Ill swear I saw him on West street. Or if it wasnt him it was his double. I didnt have a very good look at him, for he was going into that cigar store next to the express office, but it sure looked like him, clothes and all!

Jim looked worried. Maybe it was just some fellow who looked like Webb, he said. But his tone lacked conviction. He promised me hed go to Norwalk the next morning, and Id be right sorry to find he hadnt. Besides Jim didnt finish the sentence.

Well, you should worry, said Clem cheerfully. If he comes around here again just you hand him over to me, old son. Ive got a system with pan-handlers and book agents and their ilk. Hows that for a word? Ilk! Ill say thats cute!

But Clem couldnt get Jim to smile. It wouldnt do him any good to come to me again, he said soberly. I havent got any more money. I do wish, though, hed gone like he said he would. That is, if he aint.

Probably he has, replied Clem encouragingly. I dare say I was just fooled by a resemblance, Jim. After all, theres quite a bunch of fellows of his style around town since they started the new factory up. Secretly, though, Clem was convinced that he had not been mistaken, and two days later that conviction was strengthened.

Presently, returning to the original subject of discourse, he said: About coming into Janus, Jim. Suppose you just let it rest for a while. Theres no great rush in the matter, anyway. Ill let your name go over the next meeting. That will give you time to think it over. The expense isnt much anyway. Id tell you exactly, only its against the rules to give out information of any sort. You take a couple of weeks and think it over. I want you to come in if you can possibly do it, old son, so dont say no now.

So Jim didnt say no. He merely shook his head and, so to speak, laid the question on the table. After that, while Clem, propped against his pillow, read in bed, Jim took his football from the closet shelf, snuggled it lovingly in his lap and started all over again on the rules book. When Clems book dropped from his hand and he turned over and closed his eyes, his room-mate was still fondling the ball and frowning over the apparent intricacies of the following: Players of the side which did not put the ball in play may use (1) their hands and arms to push opponents out of the way in order to get at the ball and (2) their bodies or their arms close to the body to obstruct opponents who are going down the field from getting at a player of their own side who is endeavoring to get at the ball.

Jim rubbed a hand across his eyes and read it again. There were, he thought, too many get ats. Maybe, though, he was too sleepy to yes, to get at the sense. Hed try it again to-morrow.

CHAPTER XII
AT THE POLICE STATION

If Wednesdays practice had been stiff Thursdays was adamantine. With the intention of providing better defense for the drop-kickers the first team was lined up near the goal and the substitutes were set against them. With Steve Whittier and Pep Kinsey alternating at kicking, all the rest of the first team had to do was keep the substitutes from breaking through or otherwise interfering with the kick. Myers was behind the subs and the manner in which he egged them on to atrocities of attack proved him, in the minds of the first team players, a man of singularly cruel disposition. Friendship ceased and no quarter was asked. Loring Cheswick at first, and then Benning, sped the ball to the kicker and simultaneously goaded by Myers commands to Bust it up! Get through! Use your hands! and Fight em, Subs! Rip em up! Block that kick! the substitutes hurled themselves ferociously forward and committed nearly everything except murder.

Jim received hard knocks that afternoon. One of the knocks set his nose to bleeding and another crippled his left leg for the rest of the proceedings. But he managed to disguise the damage to his leg, and, of course, a bleeding nose was a mere incident, and so he managed to stay in and to give a very good account of himself. And it seemed once that the Demon Coach, as Myers was dubbed that afternoon, had determined to concentrate on Jim until he got results. He sent a two-man tandem at the right tackle position until he was finally satisfied that he was wasting his time. Perhaps he concluded that he was wasting players, too, for the members of the tandem, especially the second man, got rather roughly treated in the course of events! Jim found the head of the tandem could be thrown off in time to give full attention to the next comer, and, while Jim got some hard knocks, he certainly wore that second man out!

Sometimes the subs did get through and the ball went anywhere save over the goal, and then you should have heard Coach Cade become eloquent! As Jake Borden, right end, remarked, Johnnys words were more refined-like but they cut deeper. Later, when the scrimmage started, Jim discovered to his dismay that he was playing with the subs. He jumped to the conclusion that he had been demoted and felt rather badly, which fact told somewhat on his playing, and, when the second team came over and took the place of the substitutes Jim was one of those who were sent to the showers. As a matter of fact he had been placed with the substitute team to strengthen the right of its line, and retired after the first half of the scrimmage because in the opinion of Jake, the trainer, he had seen service enough. But Jim didnt know that, and he returned to Haylow rather down in the mouth.

Fridays practice was less severe, with the emphasis on signal drill and the handling of punts and passes, and the first-string players went through only a ten-minute scrimmage and were then sent off. Jims misgivings were slightly assuaged when he read the list of the players who were to go to New Falmouth the next afternoon and found his name on it. If he was very bad, he argued, they wouldnt pay his railway fare! Then, feeling more chirpy, he went back to Number 15 Haylow and ran into trouble.

Clem, who had reached the room but a minute before, was gazing perplexedly at the third drawer in his chiffonier. He turned to Jim without greeting to ask: You havent had this drawer open, have you, Jim?





: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17