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T. Haviland Hicks Senior by J. Raymond Elderdice

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"Oh, a bold, bad man was Chuckwalla Bill--
An' he lived in a shanty on Tom-cat Hill;
Ten notches on the six-gun he toted on his hip--
For he'd sent ten buckos on the One-way Trip!"

Big Butch Brewster, captain and full-back of the Bannister College football
squad, his behemoth bulk swathed in heavy blankets and crowded into a
narrow bunk, shifted his vast tonnage restlessly. He was dreaming of the
wild and woolly West, and like a six-reel Western drama thrown on the
screen in a moving-picture show, he visioned in his slumbers a vivid and
spectacular panorama.

The first lurid scene was the Deserted Limited held up at a tank station in
the great Mojave Desert by a lone, masked bandit who winged the dreaming
Butch in the shoulder, the latter being an express guard who resisted.
After the desperado, Two-Gun Steve, had forced the engineer to run the
train back to a siding, he had ordered Butch to vamoose. Quite naturally,
then, the collegian next found himself staggering across the arid expanse,
until at last, half dead from a burning thirst, seeking vainly for a
water-hole, the vast stretch of sandy, sagebrush-studded wastes shimmered
into a gorgeous ocean of sparkling blue waters. Then, as he collapsed on
the scorching-hot sand, helpless, the cool water so near, suddenly the
scene shifted.

In quick and vivid succession, Butch Brewster beheld a burning stockade
besieged by howling Indians, and a frontier town shot up by recklessly
riding cowboys on a jamboree. Then he became a tenderfoot, badgered by
yelling, shooting roisterers, and later a sheriff, bravely leading his
posse to a sensational battle with that same Two-Gun Steve and his gang,
entrenched in a rock-bound mountain defile.

Finally, he stood with hands above his head in company with other
passengers of the Sagebrush Stagecoach, while a huge, red-shirted Westerner
with a fierce black mustache and a six-shooter in each hand belching
bullets at Butch's dancing feet, roared out huskily: "Oh--I'm a ring-tailed
roarer (bang-bang)! I'm a rip-snortin', high-falutin', loop-the-loopin'
bad man (bang-bang)! I'm wild an' woolly, an' full o' fleas, an' hard
to curry below the knees--I'm a roarin' wild-cat, an' it's my night to howl
(bang-bang)! Yip-yip-yip-yeee!"

Big Butch, opening his eyes and starting up, gazed about him in sheer
surprise; for an instant, in that state of bewilderment that comes with
sudden awakening, he almost believed himself in a Western ranch bunkhouse,
and that some happy cowboy outside roared a grotesque ballad. He gazed at
the interior of a rough shack built of pine boards, with bunks constructed
in tiers on both sides. There were figures in them--Western cowboys,
perhaps. Then it seemed, somehow, that the voice drifting from the outside
was strangely familiar. Back at Bannister College, where he remembered he
had gone in the dim and dusty past, he had often heard that same fog-horn
voice, roaring songs of a less blood-curdling character, and accompanied by
that same banjo twanging, which tortured the campus, and bothered would-be
studious youths!

"I'm not in a moving-picture show," Butch informed himself, as he donned
khaki trousers, football sweater, and heavy shoes. "I'm not on a Western
ranch, either. I'm in the sleep-shack of Camp Bannister, the football
training-camp of the Bannister College squad! Those fellows in the bunks
are not cowboys, Indians, and bandits--they are my teammates! I did dream
stuff that would shame a Wild West scenario, but I understand it all
now--my dreams were influenced by T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.!"

At that dramatic moment, to substantiate his statement, the raucous voice,
accompanied by resounding chords strummed on a banjo, sounded again. The
vocal and instrumental chaos was frequently punctured by revolver reports,
as the torturesome Caruso outside roared:

"Oh, Chuckwalla Bill thought life was sweet--
Till he met up with Sure-shot Pete;
A hotter shootin' match Last Chance never saw--
But Sure-shot Pete was some quicker on the draw!"

The pachydermic Butch, fully dressed--and awake, raging in his wrath like
an active volcano, glanced at his watch, and discovered that it was exactly
five A.M.! Intensely pacified by this knowledge, he lumbered toward the
bunkhouse door and flung it open, determined to crush the pestersome youth
who thus unfeelingly disturbed the quietude of Camp Bannister at such an
unearthly hour! However, his grim purpose was temporarily thwarted--before
him spread a beautiful panorama, a vast canvas painted in rich hues and
colors, that indescribably charming masterpiece of nature, entitled dawn.

Butch, gazing from the bunkhouse doorway toward the pebbly shore of the
placid lake stretching out for two miles before him, beheld Old Sol,
blood-red, peeping above the wooded hills on the far-off, opposite strand
of Lake Conowingo; the luminous orb laid a flaming pathway across the
shimmering waters, and golden bars of light, like gleaming fingers
outstretched, fell athwart the tall pines that towered on the high bluff
back of the camp. The glorious sunshine, succeeding a flood of rosy color,
inundated the scene; it bathed in a gorgeous radiance the early autumn
woods, it illumined the bunkhouse, and another rude shanty known to the
squad as the grub-shack, it poured down on old Hinky-Dink, the ancient
negro cookee, setting the breakfast tables just outside the canvas

"Deed, cross mah heart, Mistah Butch," grinned old Hinky-Dink, seeing, as
a motion picture director would express it, "Wrath registered on the
countenance" of Butch Brewster, "Ah done tole dat young Hicks dat a bird
what cain't sing an' will sing mus' be made not to sing! Ah done info'med
him dat yo'-all was layin' fo' him, cause he done bus' up yo' sleep!"

A jay bird, a flashing bit of vivid blue, shot from a tall pine, jeering
shrilly at Butch; out on the lake, a trout leaped above the water for an
infinitesimal second, its shining scales gleaming in the sunshine. From the
cook-tent, where old Hinky-Dink grumbled at the frying pan, the appetizing
odor of frying fish assailed the football captain, softening his wrath.

High above the shanties, on a tall flagpole made from a straight young
pine, floated a big gold and green banner, its bright colors gleaming in
the sunshine; it bore the words:


Head Coach Corridan, smashing the precedent that had made former Gold and
Green squads have their training camp at Bannister College, had brought
the Varsity and second-string stars to this camp on the shore of Lake
Conowingo, in the Pennsylvania mountains. For two weeks, one of which had
passed, they were to train at Camp Bannister, until college officially
opened; swimming, hunting, cross-country runs, and a healthful outdoor
existence would give the athletes superb condition, and daily scrimmages on
the level field back of the bluff rounded out an eleven that promised to be
the strongest in Bannister history.

As big, good-natured Butch Brewster stood in the bunkhouse doorway, his
wrath at the pestiferous Hicks forgotten, in his rapture at the glorious
dawn, he saw something that showed why his dreams had been of the wild
West! The expression of indignation, however, yielded to one of humorous
affection, as he gazed toward the shore.

"I can't be angry with Hicks!" breathed Butch, beholding a spectacle more
impressive than dawn. "So, the irrepressible wretch has Coach Corridan's
revolvers, used in starting our training sprints, and a lot of blank
cartridges! He is giving an imitation of a Western bad man. No wonder
I dreamed of Indians, cowboys, and hold-ups; I'll have revenge on the
heartless villain, routing me out at five!"

He saw a massive rock, rising thirty feet in air, its sheer walls scaled
only by a rope-ladder the collegians had rigged up on one side. Atop of
"Lookout There!" as the campers humorously designated the rock, roosted
a youth who possessed the colossal structure of a splinter, and whose
cherubic countenance was decorated with a Cheshire cat grin. Quite unaware
that his riotous efforts had brought out the wrathful Butch Brewster,
the youthful narrator of Chuckwalla Bill's stormy career continued his
excessively noisy seance.

His costume was strictly in character with his song. He wore a sombrero,
picked up on his Exposition trip the past vacation, a lurid red
outing-shirt, and he had wrapped a blanket around each locomotive limb to
imitate a cowboy's chaps. Two revolvers suspended from a loosened belt, a
wild West, and as Butch stared, the embryo Western bad man twanged a
banjo noisily, and roared the concluding stanza of his desperado hero's

"Said Chuckwalla Bill, 'Oh, boys, plant me
With my boots on--on the wide prair-eee'--
Where the coyotes howl, they planted Bill--
An' so far as I know, he's sleepin' there still!"

"Here they come," grinned Butch, hearing a tumult in the bunkhouse, and
a confused Babel of voices. "Hicks has awakened the camp. Now watch the
fellows wreak summary vengeance on his toothpick frame!"

From the sleep-shack, aroused at that weird hour by the clamor of the
irrepressible youth, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., tumbled others of the squad,
in varying stages of deshabille; big Beef McNaughton, right half-back,
Roddy Perkins, the Titian-haired right-end, Pudge Langdon, a ponderous
tackle, and Monty Merriweather, a clean-cut, aggressive candidate for left
end. From within, other wrathy youths howled vociferous protests at their

"Stop that noise; put your muzzle on again, Hicks!"--"Where's the fire?
Say, Hicks, muffle your exhaust!"--"Say, Coach, must we endure this day and

The bunkhouse fairly erupted angry collegians, boiling out like bees
swarming from a disturbed hive; Hefty Hollingsworth, the Herculean
center-rush. Biff Pemberton, left half-back, Bunch Bingham, Tug Cardiff,
and Buster Brown, three huge last-year substitutes; second-string players,
Don Carterson, Cherub Challoner, Skeet Wigglesworth, and Scoop Sawyer. A
dozen others, from sheer laziness, hugged their bunks devotedly, despite
the terrific turmoil outside.

"It's a disgrace, a howling shame!" exploded Beef, his elephantine frame
swathed in blankets to conceal a lack of vestiture, "Last night, until
midnight, that graceless wretch roosted on 'Lookout There' and because the
glorious moonlight made him sentimental and slushy, he twanged his banjo
and warbled such mushy stuff as 'My Love is young and fair. My Love has
golden hair!' When does he expect us to sleep?"

"He doesn't!" explained Monty Merriweather, with succinct lucidity,
grinning at his comrades. "Say, fellows, you know how Hicks dreads a cold
shower-bath; well, some of you rage at him from the other side of the rock,
while I climb up the rope-ladder and close with him! Then some of you
prehistoric pachyderms ascend, and we'll chuck that pestersome insect into
the cold, cold lake--"

"Done!" chuckled Butch Brewster, delightedly. So, while he, Beef
McNaughton, Hefty Hollingsworth, and others beguiled the jeering Hicks,
expressing in dynamic, red-hot sentences their exact opinions of his
perfidy, the athletic Monty imitated a mountain-scaling Italian soldier.
He climbed stealthily up the swaying rope-ladder; nearer and nearer to the
unsuspecting youth he crept, while the cherubic Hicks, to tantalize the
group below, again burst forth:

"Whoop-eee! I'm a bold, bad man (bang-bang)! I got ten notches on my
ole six-gun--I'm a killer. I wings a man before breakfast every day! I
got a private burying-ground, where I plants my victims (bang-bang)!
Yip-yip-yip-yee! Oh, I'm a--Ouch, Monty--leggo me--Oh, I'll be
good--why didn't I pull that rope-ladder up here? Don't bust my banjo
--don't let Butch get me--"

Monty Merriweather, reaching the flat top of the rock, had courageously
flung himself, without regard for the Bad Man's desperate record, on the
startled Hicks, whose first thought was for his beloved banjo. While he
held the blithesome tormentor helpless, Butch, Beef, and Roddy Perkins
climbed the rope-ladder, and the grinning youth was soon in their clutches,
while the collegians below, like a Roman, mob aroused by the oratory of Mr.
Mark Antony, howled for revenge:

"Bust the old banjo over his head, Butch!"--"Sing to him, Beef--that's
an awful revenge on Hicks!"--"Tie him to the rock--make him miss his

"Hicks," growled Butch, eyeing his sunny comrade ominously, "you ought to
be tarred and feathered, and shot at sunrise! When Bannister opens, you
will be a Senior, and you'll disgrace '19's dignity! This is a sample of
what we have endured at college for three years, and the worst is yet to
come! You have committed the awful atrocity of awakening Camp Bannister
at five A. M. with your ridiculous imitation, of a Western desperado. To
dampen your ardor, we will chuck you into the cold lake--just as you are!"

"Help! Assistance! Aid! Succor!" shouted the happy-go-lucky Hicks, as the
behemoth Butch and Beef seized him, swinging him aloft with ludicrous ease,
"Police! Fire! Murder! Take care of my banjo, Monty. Tell all the fellows
at old Bannister I died game, and plant Hair-Trigger Bill with his boots
on! Oooo, Beef, Butch, have a heart, that water is cold!"

T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., relieved of banjo and revolvers, but his
shadow-like structure still clad in shoes, trousers, with imitation "chaps"
and flamboyant red shirt, with his classic head still adorned by
the sombrero, was swung back and forth by the two bulky football

"Three--Let him go!" shouted Butch Brewster, and like a falling meteor,
the splinter-like youth, who had already fallen from grace, shot from the
rock, head-first, disappearing with a spectacular splash in the icy waters
of Lake Conowingo. Knowing Hicks to be as much at home in the water as a
fish in an aquarium, the hilarious squad on shore prepared to jeer his
reappearance above the water; however, their program was interrupted by
old Hinky-Dink, who stood in the cook-tent doorway, belaboring a dishpan
lustily with a soup-ladle, and shouting:

"Breakfus' am served; fus' an' las' call fo' breakfus; all dem what am late
don't git no breakfus!"

"Breakfast!" exclaimed Monty Merriweather, who, with Roddy, Butch, and
Beef, remained on the rock, despite the summons of the Cookee. "Hurry up,
Hicks, I'm ravenous. Say, Butch, suppose all that Western regalia makes him
water-logged; he's a terribly long while down there! Didn't he look like
the hero in a moving-picture feature? We've given him the water-cure, but
he will do that same stunt over again. That sunny-souled Hicks is simply

A second later, the grinning, cheery countenance of T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., shot above the water, and simultaneously with his appearance, just as
though he had been chanting below the surface, for the entertainment of the
finny denizens of Lake Conowingo, the irrepressible youth roared:

"A hotter shootin' match Last Chance never saw--
But Sure-Shot Pete was some quicker on the draw!"



Head Coach Patrick Henry Corridan, known to toil-tortured Gold and Green
football squads from time immemorial as "the Slave-Driver," Captain Butch
Brewster, and serious Deacon Radford, the star Bannister quarter-back,
foregathered around a table in the Camp Bannister grub-shack.

It was ten-thirty of the morning whose dawn T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., had
blithesomely hailed with an impromptu musicale and saengerfest on "Lookout
There!" rock, and the football triumvirate were in togs. The squad, over in
the bunkhouse, noisily donned gridiron armor for the morning practice, and
the pestiferous Hicks was maintaining a mysterious silence, somewhere.

This football trio, on whom rested the responsibility of rounding out a
winning Bannister eleven, vastly resembled a coterie of German generals,
back of the trenches, studying a war-map. Before them was spread what
seemed to be a large checker-board. It was a miniature gridiron, with the
chalk-marks painted in white; there were thumb-tacks stuck here and there,
some with flat tops painted green and gold, others, representing the enemy,
were solid red. The former had names printed on them, Butch, Roddy,
Beef, and so on. By sticking these on the board, the three directors of
Bannister's football destiny could work out new plays, and originate
possible winning lineups.

"We've just got to win the State Championship this season, Coach!" declared
Butch, banging the table emphatically, as he stated a self-evident fact.
"It's my last year for Old Bannister, and so with Beef and Pudge. I'll give
every ounce of strength I possess In every game, to make that pennant float
over Bannister Field!"

"Bannister will win it!" vowed the behemoth Beef, his good-natured
countenance grim, and his jaw set. "Not for five years has a Gold and Green
team won the Championship--not since the year before Butch and I were
Freshmen! We've got a splendid bunch of material to build a team with,

"Our biggest problem is this," spoke Coach Corridan, as with a phenomenal
display of strength he took Beef McNaughton between thumb and forefinger
and placed him on the field. "We must strengthen both line and backfield,
for we lost by graduation Babe McCabe, Heavy Hughes, and Jack Merritt. Now,
to replace that lost power--"

Just then, from directly beneath the open window by which they had
gathered, like the midnight serenade of a romantic lover, sounded
the well-known foghorn voice of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., as to the
plunkety-plunk of a banjo accompaniment, he warbled melodiously:

"Gone are the days--I used to spend with Car-o-li-nah!
She had the sunshine in her laughter (plunkety-plunk)
Just like that state they named her after--"

"Hicks!" announced Butch, stealthily approaching the window, and
beckoning his companions. "Easy--look at him, Deke, there he is, Hicks,
the irrepressible! We might as well attempt to stab a rhinocerous to death
with a humming-bird's feather, as to try and reform him!"

Arrayed like a lily of the field, a model of sartorial splendor, Hicks
occupied a chair beneath the window, tilted back gracefully against the
side of the grub-shack. He had decked his splinter-structure with a
dazzling Palm Beach suit, and a glorious pink silk shirt, off-set by a
lurid scarf. A Panama hat decorated his head, white Oxfords and flamboyant
hosiery adorned his feet, while the inevitable Cheshire cat grin beautified
his cherubic countenance. A latest "best seller" was propped on his knees,
and as he perused its thrilling pages, he carelessly strummed his beloved
banjo, and in stentorian tones chanted a sentimental ballad:

"Gone are the days--the golden days I'm dreaming of,
I think I hear her softly calling (plunkety-plunk)
'Will you be back? Will you be back? (plunk-plunk)
Back to the Car-o-li-nah you love?'"(plunkety-plunk),

For three golden campus years T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., had gayly pursued the
even tenor (or basso, since he possessed a foghorn, subterranean voice)
of his Bannister career. He absolutely refused to take life seriously, and
he was forever arousing the wrath--mostly pretended, for no one could be
really angry with the genial youth--of his comrades, by twanging his banjo
and roaring out rollicking ballads at all hours. He was never so happy
as when entertaining a crowd of happy students in his cozy quarters,
or escorting a Hicks' Personally Conducted expedition downtown for a
Beef-Steak Bust, at his expense, at Jerry's, the rendezvous of hungry

However, despite his butterfly existence, Hicks, possessed of a
scintillating mind, always set the scholastic pace for 1919, by means of
occasional study-sprints, as he characteristically called them. But when it
came to helping his beloved Dad realize a long-cherished ambition to behold
his only son and heir shatter Hicks, Sr.'s, celebrated athletic records, it
was a different story. T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., ever since he committed
the farcical faux pas of running the wrong way with the pigskin in
the Freshman-Sophomore football contest of his first year, had been a
super-colossal athletic joke at old Bannister.

His record to date, beside that reverse touchdown that won for the
Sophomores, consisted of scoring a home-run with the bases congested, on a
strike-out; of smashing hurdles and cross-bars on the track; endangering
his heedless career with the shot and hammer; and making a ridiculous farce
of every event he entered, to the vast hilarity of the students, who, with
the exception of Butch Brewster, had no idea his ridiculous efforts were in
earnest. In the high-jump, however, Hicks had given considerable promise,
which to date the grasshopper collegian had failed to keep.

Hicks, the lovable, impulsive, and irrepressible, with his invariable sunny
disposition, his generous nature, and his democratic, loyal comradeship
for everybody, was loved by old Bannister. The students forgave him his
pestersome ways, his frequent torturing of them with banjo-twanging and
rollicking ballads. His classmates idolized him, Juniors and Sophomores
were his true friends, and entering Freshmen always regarded this
happy-go-lucky youth as a demigod of the campus.

Big Butch Brewster, who was forever futilely lecturing the heedless Hicks,
thrust his head from the grub-shack window, fought down a grin, and sternly
arraigned his graceless comrade:

"Hicks, you frivolous, campus-cluttering, infinitesimal atom of nothing,
you labor under the insane delusion that college life is a continuous
vaudeville show. You absolutely refuse to take your Bannister years
seriously, you banjo-thumping, pillow-punishing, campus-torturing
nonentity. You will never grasp the splendid opportunities within your
reach! You have no ambition but to strum that banjo, roar ridiculous songs,
fuss up like a tailor's dummy, and pester your comrades, or drag them down
to Jerry's for the eats! You won't be earnest, you Human Cipher, Before you
entered Bannister, you formed your ideas and ideals of campus life from
colored posters, moving-pictures, magazine stories, and stage dramas like
'Brown of Harvard"; you have surely lived up, or down, to those ideals,

"Them's harsh words, Butch!" joyously responded the grinning Hicks,
unchastened, for he knew good Butch Brewster would not, for a fortune, have
him forsake his care-free nature. "Thou loyal comrade of my happy campus
years, what wouldst thou of me?--have me don sack-cloth and ashes, strike
'The Funeral March' on my golden lyre, and cry out in anguish, 'ai! ai!
'Nay, nay, a couple of nays; college years are all too brief; hence I
shall, by my own original process, extract from them all the sunshine and
happiness possible, and by my wonderful musical and vocal powers, bring joy
to my colleagues, who--Ouch, Butch--look out for that nail, you inhuman

Big Butch, at that juncture of Hicks' monologue, had effectively terminated
it by leaning from the window, grasping his unsuspecting comrade by the
scruff of the neck, and dragging him over the window-ledge, into the
grub-shack, and the presence of Coach Corridan and Deacon Radford.
Strenuous objection was registered, both by the futilely struggling Hicks,
and a nail projecting from the sill, which caught in the Palm Beach
trousers and ripped a long rent in them; fortunately, Hicks' anatomy
escaped a similar fate.

"A ripping good move, eh-what?" chuckled Hicks, twisting like a
contortionist, to view the damage done his vestiture, "Hello, what have we
here?--the German field-map, by the Van Dyke beard of the Prophet! I
bring the Kaiser's order, ham and eggs, and a cup of coffee. No, that's a
mistake. General Hen Von Kluck, lead a brigade of submarines up yon hill to
thunder the Russian fort! Von Hindering-Bug, send a flock of aeroplanes and
Zeppelins to the Allied trenches, the enemy is shooting Russian caviare

"Hicks," said Head Coach Corridan, smiling at Butch Brewster's indignation,
"you are such a wonder at solving perplexing problems by your marvelous
'inspirations,' suppose you turn the scintillating searchlight of your
colossal intellect upon the question that Bannister must solve, to produce
a championship eleven!"

It was T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s, inveterate habit, whenever a baffling
situation, or what the French call an "impasse" presented itself, to
state with the utmost confidence, "Oh, just leave it to Hicks!" On
most occasions, when he made this remark, accompanied by a swaggering
braggadocio that never failed to make good Butch Brewster wrathful, the
happy-go-lucky youth possessed not the slightest idea of how the problem
was to be solved. He just uttered his rash promise, and then trusted to his
needed inspiration to illuminate a way out! And, as the Bannister campus
well knew, Hicks had solved more than one torturing question by an
inspiration that flashed on his intellect, when all hope of a satisfactory
solution seemed dead.

For example, in his Sophomore year, when the Freshman leader, James
Roderick Perkins, that same Titian-haired Roddy who was now a bulwark at
right end, became charged with a Napoleonic ambition, and organized a
Freshman Equal Rights campaign, paralyzing Bannister football by refusing
to allow Freshmen to try for athletic teams, unless their demands were
granted. Hicks, when his inspiration finally smote him, smashed the
Votes-for-Freshmen crusade, and quelled Roddy, Futilely racking his brain
for a counter-attack, having blithely told the troubled campus, "Just leave
it to Hicks," he had ceased to worry, and then the inspiration had come, By
The Big Brotherhood of Bannister giving the upper-classmen full government
over Freshmen, a scheme successfully carried through, the peril had been

"I got a letter from Dad yesterday," began Hicks, somewhat irrelevantly,
considering the Coach's remarks, "and he said--"

"'--Inclosed find the check you wrote for,'" quoth Deacon Radford,
humorously. "'If you keep up this pace, I shall have to turn my steel
mills to producing war munitions, to pay your college bills.' Say, Hicks,
seriously, listen to our problem, and suggest what Coach Corridan should

While Hicks' athletic powers were known to equal those of the paralyzed
oldest inhabitant of a Civil War Veterans' Home, the sunny youth knew
football thoroughly; often he originated plays that the team worked out
with success, and his suggestions were always weighed carefully by the
football directors. So, after he had adjusted his lurid scarf at the
correct angle, and gazed ruefully at his torn habiliments, the sunshiny
Senior seated himself at the table, before the "war-map," and gave heed to
the Coach.

[Illustration A: 'Here's the problem, Hicks']

"Here's the problem, Hicks," said the Slave-Driver, indicating the
Bannister eleven, represented by the gold and green topped thumb-tacks.
"From the line we lost Babe, a tackle, Heavy, a guard, and Jack Merritt, a
star end. Now, Monty Merriweather will hold down Jack's place O. K.--l can
shift Beef from right half to guard, and put Butch at right-half, while
Bunch Bingham can take care of Babe's old berth at tackle. But I have no
one to shoot in at full-back, when I shift Butch; you see, Hicks, my plan
is to build an eleven that can execute old-time, line-smashing football,
and up-to-date open play as well; I want fast ends and halves, with a
snappy quarter, and I have them; also, the backfield is heavy enough for
line-bucking, if I get my beefy full-back. I must have a big, heavy, fast
player, a giant who simply can't be stopped when he hits the line. With
Butch and Biff at halves, Deke at quarter. Roddy and Monty ends, and my
heavy line--why, a ponderous, irresistible Hercules at full-back will--"

"Say!" grinned the irrepressible Hicks, as Coach Corridan warmed up to
his vision, "you don't want much, Coach! Why don't you ask Ted Coy, the
famous ex-Yale full-back, to give up his business and play the position for
you? Maybe you can persuade Charlie Brickley, a fair sort of dropkicker,
to quit coaching Hopkins, and kick a few goals for old Bannister! I get
you, Coach--you want a fellow about the size of the Lusitania, made of
structural steel, a Brobdingnagian Colossus who will guarantee to advance
the ball fifteen yards per rush, or money refunded!

"Why, Coach, while you are wanting things, just wish for a chap who will
play the entire game himself, taking the ball down the field, while the
rest of the team are pushed along in rolling-chairs, while imbibing pink
tea. Get a prodigy who will instill such terror into our rivals that
instead of playing the schedule, Bannister will simply arrange with other
teams to mark themselves down defeated, and then agree what the scores
shall be."

"I knew it!" growled Butch Brewster, glowering at the jocular youth. "We
should never have consulted him on this problem, for it is not one within
his power to solve, even though he performed the miracle of talking
seriously about it Now--"

"Now--" echoed Hicks, with pretended seriousness, "Coach, you just hand me
the blue-prints and specifications of said Gargantuan Hercules, and I'll
try to corrall just such a phenomenon as you desire. Never hesitate to
consult me on such important matters, for I am ever-ready to cast aside my
own multifarious duties, when my Alma Mater needs my mental assistance,

"Hicks, are you crazy?" fleered Deacon Radford, moved to excitement,
despite his great faith in the versatile youth. "Full-backs like that do
not grow on trees; the only one I ever read of was Ole Skjarsen, in
George Fitch's 'Siwash College Stories,' and he was purely fictitious. We
know you have accomplished some great things by your 'inspirations,' but as
for this--"

"Just leave it to Hicks" quoth the irrepressible youth, swaggering toward
the door with an affected nonchalant self-confidence that aroused Butch to
wrath, and vastly amused his companions. "I'll admit a human juggernaut
like Coach Corridan dreams of will be hard to round up, but, I'll have an
inspiration soon. Don't worry about your old eleven, your problem will be
solved, and you will have a team that can play fifty-seven varieties of
football. Raw revolver, my comrades."

When the graceless T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., had sauntered gracefully out of
the grub-shack, big Butch Brewster, almost exploding with suppressed wrath,
stared at Slave-Driver Corridan and staid Deacon Radford a full minute;
then he grinned,

"That--Hicks!" he murmured, struggling against a desire to laugh. "What a
ridiculous prophecy! 'Just leave it to Hicks!' Well, that means the problem
goes unsolved, for though I confess he is brilliant, and his so-called
'inspirations' have helped old Bannister; when it comes to rushing out and
lassoing a smashing. Herculean full-back--bah!"

Ten minutes later, when Coach Corridan and the Gold and Green squad climbed
the bluff to the field back of Camp Bannister, for morning signal drill,
their last memory was of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., arrayed in radiant
vestiture, his chair tilted against the bunkhouse--the chords of the banjo,
and his foghorn voice drifting to them on the warm September air:

"Oh, father and mother pay all the bills (plunk-plunk)
And we have all the fun (plunkety-plunk)
With the money that we spend in college life!"

Two hours afterward, as a tired, perspiring squad scrambled down the bluff,
and made for the cool waters of Lake Conowingo, a mysterious silence,
like a mighty wave, literally surged toward them. Camp Bannister seemed
deserted, the sun was still shining, the birds sang as cheerily as ever,
but instinctively the collegians felt an indescribable loneliness, a sense
of tremendous loss.

"Hicks!" shouted Butch Brewster, loudly, his voice shattering the
stillness. "Hicks--ahoy! I say, Hicks--"

Old Hinky-Dink, a letter in his hand, hobbled from the cook-tent toward
them; like a sinister harbinger of evil he advanced, grinning deprecatingly
at the squad:

"Mistah Hicks am gone!" he announced importantly. "He done gib me fo' bits
to row him ober to de village, to cotch de noon 'spress fo' Philadelphy!
Heah am a letter what he lef'--"

Big Butch Brewster, to whom the billet-doux was addressed in T. Haviland
Hicks, Jr.'s, familiar scrawl, tore open the envelope, and while the squad
listened, he read aloud the message left by that sunny-souled youth;


"Coach Corridan will have to use the alarm clock from now on! I'm called
away on business. See that my stuff gets to Bannister O.K. Stow it in the
room next to yours. I'll be back at college some time in the next century.
Give my adieux to Coach Corridan and the squad.

"Yours truthfully,


"P.S.: Tell Coach Corridan he should worry--not! I'm hot on the trail of
a fullback that will make Ted Coy at his coyest look like the paralyzed
inmate of an old man's home. Just leave it to Hicks!"



"Has anybody here seen our Hicks?
Has anybody here seen our Hicks?
If you've seen him, answer, 'Yes!'
He's tall and slim, and he wears a grin,
And his banjo-thumping is a sin.
Has anybody here seen our Hicks--
Hicks--and his old banjo?"

Captain Butch Brewster, big Beef McNaughton, the Phillyloo Bird--that
flamingo-like Senior--and little Theophilus Opperdyke, the timorous boner
whom Bannister College called the "Human Encyclopedia," roosted on the
sacred Senior Fence, between the Gymnasium and the Administration Building.
A gloomy silence, like a somber mantle, enshrouded the four members of '19,
as they listened to a rollicking parody on, "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?"
chanted by some Juniors in Nordyke, with T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., as the
object of solicitude. Nor did the melancholy youths respond to the queries
hurled down at them from the dormitories' windows:

"Say, Butch Brewster, where is that crazy Hicks?"

"Beef, ain't our Hicks a-comin' back here no more?"

"Hello, Phillyloo, any word from our Hicks yet?"

"Ahoy there, Theophilus, where is Hicks, the Missing?"

The seven-thirty study-hour bell was ringing, its mellow chimes sounding
from the Administration Building tower. From the windows of the dormitories
gleams of light shot athwart the darkness. Over in Creighton Hall, the
abode of Freshmen, a silence reigned, but in Smithson, where the Sophomores
roomed, Nordyke, home of the Juniors, and Bannister, haunt of the solemn
Seniors, pandemonium obtained. In these dorm. rooms and corridors that
night, just as in the class-rooms, or on the campus, and Bannister Field
that day, there was but one topic. Whenever two students met, came the
query inevitable:

"Where is Hicks? Isn't Hicks coming back this year?"

The Freshmen, bewildered, quite naturally, at the furore made over
one missing student, asked, "Who is Hicks?" Seeking information from
upper-classmen they received innumerable tales, in the nature of Iliad
and Odyssey, concerning T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.; they heard of his campus
exploits, such as his originating The Big Brotherhood of Bannister, and
they laughed, at recitals of his athletic fiascos. They were told of his
inevitably sunny nature, his loyal comradeship, his generous disposition,
and as a result, the Freshmen, too, became intensely interested in the
all-important campus problem: "Where is T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.?"

Little Theophilus Opperdyke, whose big-rimmed spectacles, high forehead,
and bushy hair gave him an intensely owlish appearance, sighed
tremendously, stared solemnly at his class-mates, and became the author of
a most astounding statement: "I--I can't study," quavered the "boner,"
he whose tender devotion to his books was a campus tradition, and whose
loyalty to his firm friend, the blithesome Hicks, was as that of Damon
to Pythias, "I just can't care about my studies, without Hicks here!
Somehow, it--it doesn't seem like old times, on the campus."

"I should say not!" ejaculated the Phillyloo Bird, sepulchrally, his
string-bean length draped with extreme decorative effect on the Senior
Fence, "Life at old Bannister without T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., is about as
interesting as 'The Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture!'
Prexy thought he started the college on its Marathon three days ago, but
Bannister will not be officially opened until Hicks stands by his window
some study-hour, twangs that old banjo, and shatters the campus quietude
with a ballad roared in his fog-horn voice!"

Big Butch Brewster, enshrouded in melancholy, instinctively gazed up at the
windows of the room T. Haviland Hicks, Jr. had reserved on the third floor
of Bannister Hall, the Senior dorm., as if he fully expected to behold
the missing youth materialize. There, in lonely grandeur, waited the
sunny-souled Senior's vast aggregation of trunks, crates, and packing
boxes, together with Hicks' baggage brought down from Camp Bannister. The
bothersome banjo had disappeared at the same time the youthful Caruso
imitated the Arabs, folding his figurative tent, and stealing away.

"It's a strange paradox," boomed Butch Brewster, finding that no Hicks
appeared at the window, "but for three years Bannister has stormed at Hicks
for bothering us during study-hour, or at midnight, with his saengerfest,
and now I'd give anything to see him up there, and to hear that banjo, and
his songs! It is just as if the sun doesn't shine on the campus, when T.
Haviland Hicks, Jr., is away!"

Bannister College had been running for three days "on one cylinder," as
the Phillyloo Bird quaintly phrased it, on account of the gladsome Hicks'
mysterious absence. Not a word had the Head Coach, Captain Brewster, the
football squad, or any of the collegians received from the blithesome
youth, since the billet-doux he left with old Hinky-Dink at Camp
Bannister. Old students, returning to the campus for another golden year,
invaded Hicks' room in Bannister, ready to enjoy the cozy den of that
jolly Senior, but they encountered silence and desolation. No one had the
slightest knowledge of where the cheery Hicks could be; they missed his
singing and banjo strumming, his pestersome ways, his cheerful good nature,
his cozy quarters always open house to all, and his Hicks' Personally
Conducted tours downtown to Jerry's for those celebrated Beefsteak Busts.

A telegram to Mr. Thomas Haviland Hicks, Sr., in Pittsburgh, sent by the
worried Butch Brewster, had brought this concise response:

No knowledge of Thomas' whereabouts. He should be at Bannister.

"Queer," reflected Beef McNaughton, shifting his bulk on the protesting
fence. "We know Hicks will be back, for all his luggage is stowed away
in his room, and we are sure he is giving us all this mystery just for a
joke--he dearly loves to arrange a sensational and dramatic climax--but
we just can't get used to his not being on the campus. When Theophilus
Opperdyke can't study, it's high time the S.O.S. signal was sent to T.
Haviland Hicks, Jr."

"That is not the worst of it," growled Captain Butch Brewster, his arm
across little Theophilus' shoulders. "The football squad misses Hicks,
Beef. For the past two seasons he has sat at the training-table, his
invariable good-humor, his Cheshire cat grin, and his sunny ways have kept
the fellows in fine mental trim so they haven't worried over the game. But
now, just as soon as he left Camp Bannister, the barometer of their spirits
went down to zero and every meal at training-table is a funeral. Coach
Corridan can't inject any pep into the scrimmages, and he says if Hicks
doesn't return soon, Bannister's chances of the Championship are gone."

"As Theophilus says," responded the gloomy Beef, "we just can't get used
to his not being here. We miss his good-nature, his sunny smile, the jolly
crowds in his cozy quarters--why, the campus is talking of nothing but
Hicks--and I don't know what Bannister will do after Hicks graduates--shut
down, I suppose!"

"Well, you know," grinned the Phillyloo Bird, his cadaverous structure
humped over like a turkey on the roost, "our Hicks hath sallied forth on
the trail of a full-back, a Hercules who will smash the other elevens to
infinitesimal smithereens! He told the squad to just leave it to Hicks,
so don't be surprised if he is making flying trips to Yale, Harvard, and
Princeton, striving to corral some embryo Ted Coy. Remember how Hicks often
fulfills his rash prophecies!"

"A Herculean full-back--Bah!" fleered Butch, for all the campus knew of
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s, extremely rash vow to unearth a "phenom." "The
truth of it is, fellows. Hicks has failed to locate such a wonder as Coach
Corridac outlined, for there ain't no such animal! He doesn't like to
come back to Bannister without having made good his promise, without that
Gargantuan giant he vowed to round up for the Gold and Green."

Just then, as if to substantiate Butch's jeering statement, a youth wearing
the uniform and cap of The Western Union Telegraph Company and
advancing across the campus at that terrific speed always exhibited by
messenger-boys, appeared in the offing. Periscoping the four Seniors on the
fence, he navigated his course accordingly and pulling a yellow envelope
from his cap, he queried, in charmingly chaste English:

"Say, kin youse tell me where to find a feller name o' Brewster, wot's
cap'n o' de football bunch?"

"Right here, Little Nemo," advised the Phillyloo Bird, solemnly. "Hast thou
any messages from New York for me? John D. Rockefeller promised to wire me
whether or not to purchase war-stocks."

The Phillyloo Bird, at this stage of his monologue, was interrupted by a
yell that would have caused a full-blooded Choctaw Indian to turn pale.
This came from good Butch Brewster, who, having signed for the message,
and imagined all manner of catastrophes, from world-wars, earthquakes,
pestilence and loss of wealth, down to bad news from Hicks, after the
fashion of those receiving telegrams but seldom, had scanned the yellow
slip. Never before, or afterward, not even when the luckless Butch fell in
love, and T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., assisted Cupid, did the pachydermic Butch
act so insanely as on this occasion.

"Whoop-eee! Yee-ow! Wow-wow-wow!" howled the supposedly solemn Senior,
tumbling from the Senior fence and rolling on the campus like a decapitated
rooster. "Hip-hip-hooray! Ring the bell, Beef, get the fellows out, have
the Band ready, Oh, where is Coach Corridan? Read it, Beef, Theophilus,
Phillyloo. Oh, Hicks is coming and he's got--"

It is possible that little Theophilus, who firmly believed that big Butch
Brewster had gone emotionally insane, would have fled for help, but at that
juncture members of the Gold and Green football squad, with Head Coach
Patrick Henry Corridan, appeared, marching funereally toward the Gym.,
where a signal quiz was booked for seven forty-five. Beholding the
paralyzing spectacle of their captain apparently in paroxysms on the grass,
Hefty Hollingsworth, Biff Pemberton, Monty Merriweather and Pudge Langdon
hurled themselves on his tonnage, while Roddy Perkins sat on his head, and
wrested the telegram from his grasp,

"Call up Matteawan," shouted Roddy, unfolding the slip, "Butch is getting
barmy in the dome, he--Oh, Coach, fellows--great joy! Just heed."

James Roderick Perkins, as excited as a Senator about to make his first
speech, read aloud the telegram, on which the heedless Hicks had triple


"Coming 8.30 P. M. express today. Discharge entire eleven--got whole team
in one. Knock out partitions between five rooms. Make space for Thor, the
Prodigious Prodigy! Leave it to Hicks!


"Hicks is coming!" shrieked the Phillyloo Bird, soaring down from the
Senior Fence like a condor. "He will be here in less than an hour; he sent
this wire just before his train left Philadelphia. Money is no object, when
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., wants to mystify old Bannister."

"'Discharge entire eleven,'" quoth Butch Brewster, having somewhat subdued
his frenzy. "'Got whole team in one--knock out partitions between five
rooms--make space for Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy!' Now, what in the world
has that lunatical Hicks done? Who can Thor be?"

Tug Cardiff, Buster Brown, Bunch Bingham, Scoop Sawyer, little Skeet
Wigglesworth, Don Carterson, and Cherub Challoner, not having given their
brawn to the subduing of Butch, now kindly donated their brain, in all
manner of weird suggestions. According to their various surmises, T.
Haviland Hicks, Jr., had lured the Strong Man away from Barnum and Bailey's
Circus, had in some way reincarnated the mythical Norse god, Thor, had
hired some Greco-Roman wrestler, or by other devices too numerous and
ridiculous to mention, had produced a full-back according to Coach
Corridan's blue-prints and specifications.

Big Beef McNaughton, seized with an inspiration that supplied
locomotive-power to his huge frame, lumbered into the Gym., and soon
appeared with monster megaphones, used in "rooting" for Gold and Green
teams, which he handed out to his comrades. Then the riotous squad, at his
suggestion, sprinted for the Quad., that inner quadrangle or court around
which the four class dormitories, forming the sides of a square, were
built; anyone desiring an audience could be sure of it here, since the
collegians in all four dorms. could rush to the Quadrangle side and look
down from the windows. In the Quadrangle, under the brilliant arc-lights,
the exuberant youths paused,

"One--two--three--let 'er go!" boomed Beef, and the football squad, in
basso profundo, aided by the Phillyloo Bird's uncertain tenor, and
Theophilus' quavery treble, roared in a tremendous vocal explosion that
shook the dormitories:

"Hicks is coming! Hicks is coming! Everybody out on the campus! Get ready
to welcome our T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.! Hicks is bringing Bannister's
full-back--a Prodigious Prodigy!"

Windows rattled up, heads were thrust out, a fusillade of questions
bombarded the squad in the Quadrangle below; from the three upper-class
dormitories erupted hordes of howling, shouting youths, and soon the Quad.
was filled with a singing, yelling, madly happy crowd. The Bannister Band,
that famous campus musical organization, following a time-honored habit of
playing on every possible occasion, gladsomely tuned up and soon the
noise was deafening, while study-hour, as prescribed by the Faculty, was

"Everybody on the campus, at once!" Butch Brewster, Master-of-Ceremonies,
boomed through his megaphone, having aroused excitement to the highest
pitch by reading Hicks' telegram. "Old Dan Flannagan's jitney-bus will soon
heave into sight. Let the Band blare, make a big noise. Let's show Hicks
how glad we are to have him back to old Bannister."

It is historically certain that Mr. Napoleon Bonaparte returning from Jena
and Austerlitz, Mr. Julius Caesar, home at Rome from his Conquests, or Mr.
Alexander the Great (Conqueror, not National League pitcher) never received
such a welcome as did T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., from his Bannister comrades
that night. To the excited students, massed on the campus before the Gym.
awaiting his arrival, every second seemed a century; everybody talked at
once until the hubbub rivaled that of a Woman's Suffrage Convention. Thomas
Haviland Hicks, Jr., was actually returning to old Bannister; and he was
bringing "The Prodigious Prodigy," whatever that was, with him. Knowing the
cheery Senior's intense love of doing the dramatic and his great ambition
to startle his Alma Mater with some sensational stunt, they could hardly
wait for old Dan Flannagan's jitney-bus to roll up the driveway,

"Here he comes!" shrieked, little Skeet Wigglesworth, an excitable Senior,
who had climbed a tree to keep watch. "Here comes our Hicks!"

"Honk--Honk!" To the incessant blaring of a raucous horn, old Dan
Flannagan's jitney-bus moved up the driveway. The genial Irish Jehu, who
for over twenty years had transported Bannister collegians and alumni
to and from College Hill in a ramshackle hack drawn by Lord Nelson, an
antiquated, somnambulistic horse, had yielded to modern invention at
last. Lord Nelson having become defunct during vacation, Old Dan, with
a collection taken up by several alumni at Commencement, had bought a
battered Ford, and constructed therewith a jitney-bus. This conveyance was
fully as rattle-trap in appearance as the traditional hack had been, but
the returning collegians hailed it with glee.

"All hail Hicks!" howled Butch Brewster, beside himself with joy,
"Altogether--the Bannister yell for--Hicks!"

With half the collegians giving the yell, a number shouting
indiscriminately, the Bannister Band blaring furiously, "Behold, The
Conquering Hero Comes," with the youths a yelling, howling, shrieking,
dancing mass, old Dan Flannagan, adding his quota of noises with the
Claxon, brought his bus to a stop. This was a hilarious spectacle in
itself, for on its sides the Bannister students had painted:


On the roof of "The Dove," or "The Crab," as the collegians called it when
it skidded sideways, perched precariously that well-known, beloved youth,
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr. He clutched his pestersome banjo and was vigorously
strumming the strings and apparently howling a ballad, lost in the
unearthly turmoil. As the jitney-bus stopped, the grinning Hicks arose, and
from his lofty, position made a profound bow.

"Speech! Speech! Speech!" A mighty shout arose, and Hicks raised his hand
for silence, which was immediately delivered to him.

"Fellows, one and all," he shouted, a mist before his eyes, for his
impulsive soul was touched by the ovation, "I--I am glad to be back!
Say--I--I--well, I'm glad to be back--that's all!"

At this masterly oration, which, despite its brevity, contained volumes of
feeling, the Bannister students went wild--for a longer period than any
political convention ever cheered a nominated candidate, they cheered T.
Haviland Hicks, Jr. "Roar--roar--roar--roar!" in deafening sound-waves,
the noise swept across the campus; never had football idol, baseball hero,
or any athletic demigod, in all Bannister's history, been accorded such a
tremendous ovation.

"Fellows," called T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., climbing down from his precarious
perch, "stand back; I have brought to Bannister the 'Prodigious Prodigy.'
I have rounded up a full-back who will beat Ballard all by himself. Behold
the new Gold and Green football eleven, 'Thor'!"

From the grinning Dan Flannagan's jitney-bus, like a Russian bear charging
from its den, lumbered a being whose enormous bulk fairly astounded the
speechless youths; Butch Brewster, Beef McNaughton, Tug Cardiff, Bunch
Bingham, Buster Brown, and Pudge Langdon were popularly regarded as the
last word in behemoths, but this "Thor" dwarfed them, towered above them
like a Colossus over Lilliputians. He was a youth, and yet a veritable
Hercules. Over six feet he stood, with a massive head, covered with tousled
white hair, a powerful neck, broad shoulders, a vast chest. To a judge of
athletes, he would tip the scales at a hundred and ninety pounds, all solid
muscle, for that superb physique held not an ounce of superfluous flesh.

"Hicks," said Head Coach Patrick Henry Corridan, gazing at the mountain of
muscle, "if size means anything, you have brought old Bannister an entire
football squad! What splendid material to train for the Big Games, why--he
will be irresistible!"



"I didn't raise my Ford to be a jitney--
To run the streets, and stay out late at night!
Who dares to put a jitney sign, upon it--
And send my peace-ship out for fares to fight?"

T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., standing by his open window at 3 P. M. one
afternoon a week after his sensational return to Bannister College, with
the "Prodigious Prodigy" in tow, indulged in the soul-satisfying pastime of
twanging his banjo, and roaring, in his subterranean voice, a parody on "I
Didn't Raise My Boy to be a Soldier." It was actually the first Caruso-like
outburst of the pestersome youth that year, but his saengerfest brought
vociferous howls of protest from campus and dormitories:

"Bow-wow-wow! The Grand Opery season is starting!"

"Sing some records for a talking-machine company, Hicks!"

"Kill that tom-cat! Listen to the back-fence musicale!"

"Say, Hicks--we'll take your word for that noise!"

On the Gym. steps, loafing a few moments before jogging out to Bannister
Field for a strenuous scrimmage under the personal supervision of
Slave-Driver Corridan, the Gold and Green football squad had gathered. It
was from these stalwart gridiron gladiators that the caustic criticism of
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s, vocal atrocities emanated, and the imitation of a
mournful hound by "Ichabod," the skyscraping Senior, was indeed phenomenal.
Added to the howls, whistles, jeers, and shouts of the squad, were like
condemnations from other collegians, sky-larking on the campus, or in the

"At that," grinned Captain Butch Brewster happily, "it surely makes me feel
jubilant to hear Hicks' foghorn voice shattering the echoes, with his
banjo strumming disturbing the peace--for which offense it shall soon be
arrested. We can truly say that old Bannister is now officially opened for
another year, for T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., has performed his annual rite--"

"Right--!" scoffed big Pudge Langdon, indignantly, as he gazed up at the
happy-go-lucky youth, at the window of his room on the third-floor, campus
side, of Bannister Hall, "Hicks ought to be tarred and feathered; there is
nothing right in the way he has acted since his return to college! He
struts around like Herman, the Master-Magician, and all the fellows fully
expect to see him produce white rabbits from his cap, or make varicolored
flags out of his handkerchief."

"We ought to toss him in a blanket," stormed Beef McNaughton, in ludicrous
rage. "Ever since he mystified Bannister by going out and corralling a
Hercules who is an entire eleven in himself, Hicks has maintained that
sphinx-like silence as to how he achieved the feat, and he swaggers around,
enshrouded in mystery! All we know is that 'Thor' is John Thorwald, of
Norwegian descent. If we ask him for information, that wretch Hicks has
him trained to say, 'Ask the little fellow, Hicks!'"

T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., in truth, had acted in a most reprehensible manner
since that memorable night when he brought "Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy,"
to the campus. Not that he ceased to be the same sunny-souled, popular and
friendly youth. The collegians, happy at finding his room open-house again,
flocked to his cozy quarters, Freshmen fell under the spell of his
generous nature, his Beef-Steak Busts, down at Jerry's were nightly
occurrences, and he was the same Hicks as of old. But, after the dramatic
manner in which Hicks had mysteriously made good the rash vow uttered at
Camp Bannister and had brought to Coach Corridan a blond-haired giant who
seemed destined to perform prodigies at full-back, the sunny Senior had
evidently labored under the delusion that he was "Kellar, The Great

Instead of relieving the tortured curiosity of the students, wild to know
how and where Hicks had unearthed this physical Hercules, who in every way
filled the details of Head Coach Corridan's "blue-prints," T. Haviland
Hicks, Jr., enjoying to the full this novel method of torturing his
comrades, made a baffling mystery of the affair, much to the indignation of
his friends.

"Just leave it to Hicks," he would say, when the Bannister youths
cajoled, implored, threatened, or argued. "Thor is eligible to play four
years of football at old Bannister. I call him Thor, after the great Norse
god, Thor; he is of Norwegian descent. That is all of the Billion-Dollar
Mystery I can disclose; ten thousand dollars offered for the correct

"Here comes Scoop Sawyer," said Monty Merriweather, as that Senior, waving
his arms in air, catapulted from Bannister Hall, and strode toward the
squad on the Gym. steps; his appearance registered wrath, in photo-play
parlance, and on reaching his comrades he immediately acquainted them with
its cause.

"Listen to that Hicks!" he exploded, gesticulating with a sheaf of papers.
"Hicks, the mocking-bird! He is mocking us--with his 'Billion-Dollar
Mystery!' Say--here I am writing to Jack Merritt; he played football four
years for old Bannister; he was captain of the Gold and Green eleven; last
Commencement he graduated, and the last thing he said to me was, 'Scoop,
old pal, write to me next fall, tell me everything about the football
season; keep me posted as to new material!' Everything--keep him posted
as to new material--Bah! If I write that Hicks has brought a fellow he
calls 'Thor,' who spreads the regulars over the field, Jack will want
to know the details, and--that villainous Hicks won't divulge his dread

At this moment, Scoop Sawyer, so-called because he was ambitious to be a
newspaper reporter, after graduation, and for his humorous articles in the
Bannister Weekly, had his intense wrath soothed by that which has
"power to soothe the savage breast"; T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., displaying a
wonderful originality by composing, then chanting, his parody, concluded
the chorus roaring lustily, to a rollicking banjo accompaniment:

"If street car companies gave seats to all patrons
The strap-hangers in jitneys would not ride.
There'd be no jits. today
If Ford owners would say,
I didn't raise my Ford to be a--jitney!"

"That is too much!" raged Captain Butch Brewster, facing his excited
colleagues. "Come on, fellows, we'll invade Hicks' room, read him Scoop's
letter to Jack Merritt, and make him solve the Mystery! We're done with
diplomacy; now, we'll deliver the ultimatum; when the squad returns from
scrimmage, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., will tell us all about Thor, or be
tossed in a blanket! Are you with me?"

"We are ahead of you!" howled Roddy Perkins, leading a wild charge for
the entrance to Bannister Hall. Following him up the two flights of stairs
with thunderous tread came Butch, Beef, Monty, Biff, Hefty, Pudge, Tug,
Ichabod, Bunch, Buster, Bus Norton, and several second-team players,
Cherub, Chub Chalmers, Don, Skeet, and Scoop Sawyer with his letter. With
a terrific, blood-chilling clatter, and hideous howls, the Hicks-quelling
Expedition roared down the third corridor of Bannister, and surged into the
room of that tantalizing T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.!

"Safety first!" shrieked that cheery collegian, stowing his banjo in the
closet and making a strenuous but futile effort to dive head-first beneath
the bed, being forcibly restrained by Beef, who clung to his left ankle.
"Say, to what am I indebted for the honor of this call? Why, when I got
back to Bannister, you fellows gushed, 'Oh, we're so glad you're back,
Hicks, old top; we missed even your saengerfests,' and when I start one--"

"Hicks," pronounced Butch Brewster grimly, holding the genial offender
by the scruff of the neck, "you tantalizing, aggravating, irritating,
lunatical, conscienceless degenerate! You assassin of Father Time, you
disturber of the peace, heed! Scoop Sawyer is writing to Jack Merritt, to
tell about the football team, and Bannister's chances of the Championship;
he wants to tell Jack all about this Thor! Now, you have acted like
Herman-Kellar-Thurston long enough, and hear our final word. Read Scoop's
letter, and if when you finish its perusal you fail to give us full
information, and answer all questions about Thor--"

"The football team will toss you in a blanket until you do!" finished Monty
Merriweather, "We intended to wait until after the scrimmage, but Butch
evidently believes we should end your bothersome mystery as once, and--"

"'Curiosity killed the cat!'" grinned T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.; then seeing
the avenues and boulevards of escape were closed, but fighting for time,
"let me peruse said missive indited by our literarily overbalanced Scoop. I
am reluctant to dispel the clouds of mystery, but--"

Scoop Sawyer thrust the typewritten pages of the letter--composed on
the battered old typewriter in the editorial sanctum of the Bannister
--into Hicks' grasp and with a grin, that blithesome youth read:

Bannister College, Sept, 27.


There is so much to tell you, old pal, that I scarcely know where to
start, but you want to know about the football eleven, so I'll write about
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., and his 'Billion-Dollar Mystery,' as he calls it;
about Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy. You well know what a scatter-brained
wretch Hicks is, and how he dearly loves to plot dramatic climaxes--to
mystify old Bannister. Just now Hicks has the campus as wrathful as it is
possible to be with that lovable youth; he has originated a great mystery,
and achieved a seemingly impossible feat, and instead of explaining it, he
swaggers around like a Hindoo mystic enshrouded in mystery and the fellows
are wild enough to tar and feather the incorrigible villain!

To get off to a sprint-start, up in Camp Bannister, before college opened,
when the squad was in training camp, Butch Brewster says that Coach
Corridan one day, before Hicks, expressed a fervid ambition to find a huge,
irresistible fullback--

Here the chronicle must hang fire, while T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., grinning
at the wrath his mysterious behavior aroused, peruses those sections of
Scoop Sawyer's epistle telling of two scenes already described; first,
the one in the Camp Bannister grub-shack, where Head Coach Corridan
blue-printed the Gargantuan athlete he desired, and the blithesome Hicks
confidently requested that the Herculean task be left to him; second, the
scene of intense excitement on the campus the night that the missing Hicks
returned personally conducting that mountain of muscle, the blond-haired

Having grinned at these descriptions, the pestiferous Hicks scanned a
picturesque description by Scoop of the events that transpired between that
memorable night and the present invasion of the sunny Senior's room by the
indignant squad.

--Naturally, Jack, old Bannister was intensely curious to know who this
"Thor" could be, and how Hicks unearthed such a giant. But, instead of
swaggering a trifle, as he inevitably does, and saying, 'Oh, I told you
just to leave it to Hicks!' then telling all about it, after accomplishing
what everyone believed a ridiculously impossible quest, he maintains that
provokingly mysterious silence, and John Thorwald (we know his name,
anyway) stolidly refers us to Hicks. So where Thor originated or how under
the sun Hicks got on his trail, after making his rash vow to corral a
mighty fullback, is a deep, dark mystery.

Now for Thor himself. Words cannot describe that Prodigious Prodigy; he
must be seen to be believed! We do know that he is John Thorwald, and of
distinctly Norwegian descent, so that calling him after the mythic Norse
god is extremely appropriate. And he is reminiscent of the great Thor, with
his vast strength and prowess. Thanks to T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s, love of
mystery, and of tantalizing old Bannister, we know nothing of Thorwald's
past, but we are sure he has lived and toiled among men, to possess
that powerful build. I can't describe him, old man, without resorting to
exaggeration, for ordinary words and phrases are utterly inadequate with
Thor! Conjure up a vision of Gulliver among the Lilliputians and you can
picture him towering over us. He is a Viking of old, with his fair features
and blond hair. Probably twenty-five years old, he has a powerful frame and
prodigious strength, he dwarfs such behemoths as Butch and Beef, and makes
such insignificant mortals as little Theophilus and myself seem like

Thor is so big, Jack, that when he gets in a room, he crowds everyone
into the corridor, and fills it alone. No wonder Hicks telegraphed to knock
out the partitions between five rooms to make space for Thor! When he
stands on the campus he blots out several sections of scenery, and the
college disappears, giving the impression he has swallowed it. Thor is a
slow-minded being, but possessed of a grim determination. To get an idea
into his mind requires a blackboard and Chautauqua lecturer, but once he
masters it, he never lets go; so it will be with football signals, once let
him grasp a play, he will never be confused. He is simply a huge, stolid
giant. He has a bulldog purpose to get an education, and nothing else
matters. As for college spirit, the glad comradeship of the campus, he has
no time for it; he pays no attention to the fellows at all, only to Hicks.

His devotion to that wretch is pathetic! He follows Hicks around like a
huge mastiff after a terrier, or an ocean leviathan towed by a tug-boat; he
seems absolutely helpless without T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., and so we have
a daily Hicks' personally conducted tour of Thor to interest us. Briefly,
Jack, John Thorwald is a slow-moving, slow-minded, grimly bulldog giant,
who has come to Bannister to study, and as for any other phase of campus
existence, he has never awakened to it!

Now for the football story: Well, the day after Hicks' sensational arrival,
which I described, Coach Corridan, Captain Butch Brewster, Beef, Buster,
Pudge, Monty, and Roddy with yours truly, went to Thor's room in Creighton
just before football practice. We found that Colossus, who had matriculated
as a Freshman, aided by Hicks, patiently masticating mental food as served
by Ovid. Coach Corridan said, 'Come on, Thorwald, over to the Gym.; we'll
fix you out with togs, if we can get two suits big enough to make one for
your bulk! Ever play the game?' 'I play some,' rumbled Thor stolidly, never
raising his eyes from his Latin. 'Don't bother me, I want to study.
I have not time for such foolishness. I am here to study, to get an
education!' 'But,' urged the coach earnestly, 'you must play football for
your Alma Mater, for old Bannister. Why, you--you must, that's all!' Thor
gazed at Hicks questioningly--I forgot to add that insect's name--and
asked, 'Is it so, Hicks? I got to play for the college?' And when Hicks
grinned, 'Sure, Thor, it must be did. Bannister expects you to smear the
other teams over the landscape,' that blond Norwegian Viking said, 'Well,
then, I play.'

All Bannister turned out to behold the "Prodigious Prodigy" on the football
field. Somewhere--Hicks won't divulge where--Thor has learned the rudiments
of the game. With that bulldog tenacity of his, he has learned them well.
Hence he was ready for the scrubs, and in the practice game it was a
veritable slaughter of the innocents. The 'Varsity could not stop Thor.
Remember 'Ole' Skjarsen, the big Swede of George Fitch's 'Siwash College'
tales? Thor, after the ten minutes required to teach him a play, would take
the ball and just wade through the regulars for big gains. The only way to
stop him was for the entire eleven to cling affectionately to his bulk,
and then he transported them several yards. He is a phenom, a veritable
Prodigious Prodigy, and maybe old Bannister isn't wild with enthusiasm.
His development will be slow but sure, and by the time the big games for
the championship come, he will be a whole team in himself. Right now he
goes through daily scrimmage as solemnly as if performing a sacred rite. He
doesn't thrill with college spirit, but as for football--

Leaving Hicks to read the rest of Scoop Sawyer's long missive, terminating
with indignant condemnation of the sunny youth's love of mystery, the
terrific enthusiasm roused at old Bannister by the daily appearance on
Bannister Field of Thor, and his irresistible marches through the 'Varsity,
must be chronicled and explained.

Not for five seasons, not since the year before Hicks, Pudge, Butch, Beef
and the others of 1919 were Freshmen, had the Gold and Green corraled that
greatest glory, The State Intercollegiate Football Championship! In Captain
Butch's Sophomore year, he had flung his bulk into the fray, training,
sacrificing, fighting like a Trojan, only to see the pennant lost by a
scant three inches, as Jack Merritt's forty-yard drop-kick for the goal
that would have won the Championship struck the cross-bar and bounded back
into the field. And the past season-old Bannister could still vision that
tragic scene of the biggest game.

The students could picture Captain Brewster, with the Bannister eleven a
few yards from Ballard's goal-line, and the touchdown that would give the
Gold and Green that supreme glory. One minute to play; Deacon Radford had
given Butch the pigskin, and like a berserker, he fought entirely through
the scrimmage. But a kick on the head had blinded him, in the melee--free
of tacklers, with the goal-line, victory, and the Championship so near, he
staggered, reeled blindly, crashed into an upright, and toppled backward,
senseless on the field, while the Referee's whistle announced the end of
the game, and glory to Ballard. Even then, after the first terrible shock
of the loss, of the cruel blow fate dealt the Gold and Green two
successive seasons, the slogan was: "Next year--Bannister will win the
Championship--next year!"

It was now "next year!" Losing only Jack Merritt, Babe McCabe and Heavy
Hughes from the line-up, and having Monty Merrlweather and Bunch Bingham,
fully as good, Coach Corridan's Gold and Green eleven, before the season
started, seemed a better fighting machine than even the one of the year
before. But when the irrepressible T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., in some
mysterious fashion making good his rash vow to produce a smashing full-back
that can't be stopped, towed that stolid, blond Colossus, Thor, to old
Bannister, enthusiasm broke all limits!

Mass-meetings were held every night. Speeches by Coaches, Captain, players,
Faculty, and students, aroused the campus to the highest pitch; every day,
the entire student-body, with The Bannister Band, turned out on Bannister
Field to cheer the eleven, and to watch the Prodigious Prodigy perform
valorous deeds, like the god Thor. "Bannister College--State Championship!"
was the cry, and with the giant Thor to present an irresistible catapulting
that could not be stopped, the Gold and Green exultantly awaited the big
games with Hamilton and Ballard.

And yet, the stolid, unemotional, unawakened Thor, on whom every hope of
the Championship was based, whom all Bannister came out to watch every day,
practiced as he studied, doggedly, silently. It was evident to all that
he hated the grind, that he wanted to quit, that his heart was not in the
game, but for some cause, he drove his Herculean body ahead, and could not
be stopped!

"Now, you abandoned wretch," said Butch Brewster grimly, as the
happy-go-lucky Hicks finished Scoop's letter, and glanced about him wildly
seeking a way of escape, "in one minute you will tell us all about John
Thorwald, alias 'Thor,' or be tossed sky-high in a blanket by the football
squad, and please believe me, you'll break all altitude records!"

"Spare me, you banditti!" pleaded Hicks, reluctant to cease torturing
Bannister with his Billion-Dollar Mystery, yet equally unwilling to aviate
from a blanket heaved by the husky athletes. "Why seek ye to question the
ways of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.? You have your Prodigious Prodigy--your
smashing full-back is distributing the 'Varsity over the scenery with
charming nonchalance that promises dire catastrophe for other teams, once
he makes the regulars, so--"

At that dramatic moment, just as Butch Brewster glanced at Hicks'
alarm-clock, to start the minute of grace, a startling interruption saved
the gladsome youth from having to make a decision. A heavy, creaking tread
shook the corridor, and the squad beheld, looming up in the doorway, Thor.
He was not in football togs, and as he started to speak his fair face as
stolid and expressionless as that of a sphinx, Captain Butch Brewster
stepped toward him.

"Thor!" he exclaimed, seizing the blond Colossus by the arm, "You aren't
ready for the scrimmage; hustle over to the Gym. and get on your suit."

But John Thorwald, as passive of feature as though he announced something
of the most infinitesimal importance, and were not hurling a bomb-shell
whose explosion, was to shake old Bannister terrifically, spoke in a
matter-of-fact manner: "I shall not play football--any more,"

"What!" Every collegian in Hicks' room, including that dazed producer
of the Prodigious Prodigy, chorused the exclamation; to them it was as
stunning a shock as the nation would suffer if its President calmly
announced, "I'm tired of being President of the United States. I shall not
report for work tomorrow." Bannister College, ever since the night that
Thor arrived on the campus, had talked or thought of nothing but how this
huge, blond-haired Hercules would bring the Championship to the Gold and
Green; his prodigies on the gridiron, his ever-increasing prowess, had
aroused enthusiasm to fever heat, and now--

"I was told wrong," said Thor, shifting his vast tonnage awkwardly from one
foot to the other, and evidently bewildered at the consternation caused by
what he believed a trifling announcement, "I understood that I had to
play football, that the Faculty required it of me, and the students let me
think so. I have just learned from Doctor Alford that such is not true,
that I do not have to play unless I choose, hence, I quit. I came to
college to study, to gain an education. I have toiled long and hard for
the opportunity, and now I have it, I shall not waste my time on such

Then, utterly unconscious that he had spoken sentences which would create
a mighty sensation at old Bannister, that might doom the Gold and Green
to defeat, lose his Alma Mater the Championship, and bring on himself the
cruel ostracism and bitter censure of his fellows, John Thorwald lumbered
down the corridor. A moment of tense silence followed and then Captain
Butch Brewster groaned.

"It's all over, it's all over, fellows!" he said brokenly, "Bannister loses
the Championship! We know it is impossible to move Thor on the football
field, and now that he has said 'No!' to playing football, dynamite can not
move him from his decision."

Then, crushed and disconsolate, the football squad filed silently from the
room, to break the glad news to Coach Corridan, and to spread the joyous
tidings to old Bannister. When they had gone, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.,
staring at the figurative black cloud that lowered over his Alma Mater,
strove to find its silver lining, and at last he partially succeeded.

"Anyway," said Hicks, with a lugubrious effort to grin, "Thor's
announcement shocked the squad so much that I was not forced to explain my
Billion-Dollar Mystery!"



"In the famous words of Mr. Somebody-Or-Other," quoth T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., "something has got to be did, and immediately to once!"

Big Butch Brewster nodded assent. So did Head Coach Patrick Henry Corridan,
Beef McNaughton, Team Manager Socks Fitzpatrick, Monty Merriweather, Dad
Pendleton, President of the Athletic Association, and Deacon Radford,
quarter-back, also Shad Fishpaw, who, being Freshman Class-Chairman,
maintained a discreet silence. Instead of the usual sky-larking, care-free
crowd that infested the cozy quarters of the happy-go-lucky Hicks, every
collegian present, except the ever-cheerful youth, seemed to have lost his
best friend and his last dollar at one fell swoop!

"Oh, yes, something has got to be did!" fleered Beef McNaughton, the
davenport creaking under the combined tonnage of himself and Butch
Brewster, "But who will do it? Where's all that Oh-just-leave-it-to-Hicks
stuff you have pulled for the past three years, you pestiferous insect?
Bah! You did a lot; you dragged a Prodigious Prodigy to old Bannister,
enshrouded him in darkest mystery, and now, when he pushed the 'Varsity off
the field and promised to corral the Championship, single-handed, he puts
his foot down, and says, 'No--I will not play football!' Get busy, Little
Mr. Fix-It."

"Oh, just leave it to Hicks!" accommodated that blithesome Senior, with a
cheeriness he was far from feeling. "You all do know why Thor won't
play football; it is not like last season, when Deke Radford, a star
quarter-back, refused either to play, or to explain his refusal. Let me
get an inspiration, and then Thor will once again gently but firmly thrust
entire football elevens down the field before him!"

As evidence of how intensely serious was the situation, let it be
chronicled that, for the first time in his scatter-brained campus career,
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., did not dare strum his banjo and roar out ballads
to torture his long-suffering colleagues. Popular and beloved as he was,
the gladsome youth hesitated to shatter the quietude of the campus with
his saengerfest, knowing as he did what a terrible blow Thor's utterly
astounding announcement had been to the college.

It was nine o'clock, one night two weeks after the day when John Thorwald,
better known as Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy, so mysteriously produced by
Hicks, had stolidly paralyzed old Bannister by unemotionally stating his
decision to play no more football. Since then, to quote the Phillyloo Bird,
"Bannister has staggered around the ring like a prizefighter with the
Referee counting off ten seconds and trying to fight again before he takes
the count." In truth, the students had made a fatal mistake in building
all their hopes of victory on that blond giant, Thor; seeing his wonderful
prowess, and beholding how, in the first week of the season, the Norwegian
Colossus had ripped to shreds the Varsity line which even the heavy Ballard
eleven of the year before could not batter, it was but natural that the
enthusiastic youths should think of the Championship chances in terms of
Thor. For one week, enthusiasm and excitement soared higher and higher,
and then, to use a phrase of fiction, everything fell with a dull,
sickening thud!

In vain did Coach Corridan, the staff of Assistant Coaches, Captain Butch
Brewster, and others strive to resuscitate football spirit; nightly
mass-meetings were held, and enough perfervid oratory hurled to move a
Russian fortress, but to no avail. It was useless to argue that, without
Thor, Bannister had an eleven better than that of last year, which so
nearly missed the Championship. The campus had seen the massive Thor's
prodigies; they knew he could not be stopped, and to attempt to arouse the
college to concert pitch over the eleven, with that mountain of muscle
blotting out vast sections of scenery, but not in football togs, was not

"One thing is sure," spoke Dad Pendleton seriously, gazing gloomily from
the window, "unless we get Thor in the line-up for the Big Games, our last
hope of the Championship is dead and interred! And I feel sorry for the big
fellow, for already the boys like him just about as much as a German
loves an Englishman; yet, arguments, threats, pleadings, and logic have
absolutely no effect on him. He has said 'No,' and that ends it!"

"He doesn't understand things, fellows," defended T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.,
with surprising earnestness. "Remember how bewildered he seemed at our
appeal to his college spirit, and his love for his Alma Mater. We might as
well have talked Choctaw to him!"

Butch Brewster, Socks Fitzpatrick, Dad Pendleton, Beef McNaughton, Deacon
Radford, Monty Merriweather, and Shad Fishpaw well remembered that night
after Thor's tragic decision, when they--part of a Committee formed of the
best athletes from all teams, and the most representative collegians of old
Bannister, had invaded Thor's room in Creighton Hall, to wrestle with the
recalcitrant Hercules. Even as Hicks spoke, they visioned it again.

A cold, cheerless room, bare of carpet or pictures, with just the
study-table, bed, and two chairs. At the study-table, his huge bulk
sprawling on, and overflowing, a frail chair, they had found the massive
John Thorwald laboriously reading aloud the Latin he had translated,
literally by the sweat of his brow. The blond Colossus, impatient at the
interruption, had shaken his powerful frame angrily, and with no regard for
campus tradition, had addressed the upperclassmen in a growl: "Well, what
do you want? Hurry up, I've got to study."

And then, to state it briefly, they had worked with (and on) the stolid
Thorwald for two hours. They explained how his decision to play no more
football would practically kill old Bannister's hopes of the Championship,
would assassinate football spirit on the campus, and cause the youths to
condemn Thor, and to ostracise him. Waxing eloquent, Butch Brewster had
delivered a wonderful speech, pleading with John Thorwald to play the
game. He tried to show that obviously uninterested mammoth that, like the
Hercules he so resembled, he stood at the parting of the ways.

"You are on the threshold of your college career, old man!" he thundered
impressively, though he might as well have tried to shoot holes in a
battleship with a pop-gun, "What you do now will make or break you. Do you
want the fellows as friends or as enemies; do you want comradeship, or
loneliness and ostracism? You have it in your power to do two big things,
to win the Championship for your Alma Mater, and to win to yourself the
entire student-body, as friends; will you do that, and build a firm
foundation for your college years, or betray your Alma Mater, and gain the
enmity of old Bannister!"

Followed more fervid periods, with such phrases as, "For your Alma Mater,"
"Because of your college spirit," "For dear old Bannister," and "For
the Gold and Green!" predominating; all of which terms, to the stolid,
unimaginative Thorwald being fully as intelligible as Hindustani. They
appealed to him not to betray his Alma Mater; they implored him, for his
love of old Bannister; they besought him, because of his college spirit;
and all the time, for all that the Prodigious Prodigy understood, they
might as well have remained silent.

"I will tell you something," spoke Thor, at last, with an air of impatient
resignation, "and don't bother me again, please! I have come to Bannister
College to get an education, and I have the right to do so, without being
pestered. I pay my bills, and I am entitled to all the knowledge I can
purchase. I look from my window, and I see boys, whose fathers are toiling,
sacrificing, to send them here. Instead of studying, to show their
gratitude, they loaf around the campus, or in their rooms, twanging banjos
and guitars, singing silly songs, and sky-larking. I don't know what all
this rot is you are talking of; 'college spirit,' 'my Alma Mater,' and so
on. I do not want to play football; I do not like the game; I need the time
for my study, so I will not play. Both my father and myself have labored
and sacrificed to send me to college. The past five years, with one great
ambition to go to college and learn, I have toiled like a galley-slave.

"And now, when opportunity is mine, do you ask me to play? You want me to
loaf around, wasting precious time better spent in my studies. What do I
care whether the boys like me, or hate me? Bah! I can take any two of you,
and knock your heads together! Their friendship or enmity won't move me. I
shall study, learn. I will not waste time in senseless foolishness, and I
won't play football again."

T. Haviland Hicks, Jr. was silent as he stood by the window of his room,
gazing down at the campus where the collegians were gathering before
marching to the Auditorium for the nightly mass-meeting that would vainly
strive to arouse a fighting spirit in the football "rooters." That
blithesome, heedless, happy-go-lucky youth was capable of far more serious
thought than old Bannister knew; and more, he possessed the rare ability
to read character; in the case of Thor, he saw vastly deeper than his
indignant comrades, who beheld only the surface of the affair. They knew
only that John Thorwald, a veritable Colossus, had exhibited football
prowess that practically promised the State Championship to old Bannister,
and then--he had quit the game. They understood only that Thor refused to
play simply because he did not want to, and as to why their appeals to his
college spirit and his love for his Alma Mater were unheeded they were

But the gladsome Hicks, always serious beneath his cheerful exterior, when
old Bannister's interests were at stake, or when a collegian's career
might be blighted, when the tragedy could be averted, fully understood. Of
course, as originator of the Billion-Dollar Mystery, and producer of the
Prodigious Prodigy, he knew more about the strange John Thorwald than did
his mystified comrades. He knew that Thor, as he named him, was just a vast
hulk of humanity, stolid, unimaginative of mind, slow-thinking, a dull,
unresponsive mass, as yet unstirred by that strange, subtle, mighty thing
called college spirit. He realized that Thor had never had a chance to
understand the real meaning of campus life, to grasp the glad fellowship of
the students, to thrill with a great love for his Alma Mater. All that must
come in time. The blond giant had toiled all his life, had labored among
men where everything was practical and grim. Small wonder, then, that he
failed utterly to see why the youths "loafed on the campus, or in their
rooms, twanging banjos and guitars, singing silly songs, and skylarking."

"I must save him," murmured Hicks softly, for the others in his room were
talking of Thor. "Oh, imagine that powerful body, imbued with a vast love
for old Bannister, think of Thor, thrilling with college spirit. Why,
Yale's and Harvard's elevens combined could not stop his rushes, then. I
must save him from himself, from the condemnation of the fellows, who just
don't understand. I must, some way, awaken him to a complete understanding
of college life in its entirety, but how? He is so different from Roddy
Perkins, or Deke Radford."

It seemed that the lovable Hicks was destined to save, every year of his
campus career, some entering collegian who incurred the wrath, deserved or
otherwise, of the students. In his Freshman first term, T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., indignant at the way little Theophilus Opperdyke, the timorous,
nervous "grind," had been alarmed at the idea of being hazed, had by a
sensational escape from a room locked, guarded, and filled with Sophomores,
gained immunity for himself and the boner for all time, thus winning the
loyal, pathetic devotion of the Human Encyclopedia. As a Sophomore, by
crushing James Roderick Perkins' Napoleonic ambition to upset tradition,
and make Freshmen equal with upperclassmen, Hicks had turned that
aggressive youth's tremendous energy in the right channels, and made him a
power for good on the campus.

And, a Junior, he had saved good Deacon Radford. When that serious youth, a
famous prep. quarter, entered old Bannister, the students were wild at the
thought of having him to run the Gold and Green team, but to their dismay,
he refused either to report for practice or to explain his decision. Hicks,
promising blithely, as usual, to solve the mystery and get Deke to play,
discovered that the youth's mother, called "Mother Peg" by the collegians,
was head-waitress downtown at Jerry's and that she made her son promise
not to own the relationship, and that while she worked to get him through
college, Deacon would not play football. The inspired Hicks had gotten
Mother Peg to start College Inn, and board Freshmen unable to get rooms
in the dormitories, and Deacon had played wonderful football. For this
achievement, the original youth failed to get glory, for he sacrificed it,
and swore all concerned to secrecy.

"But Roddy and Deke were different," reflected Hicks, pondering seriously.
"Both had been to Prep. School, and they understood college life and campus
spirit. It was Roddy's tremendous ambition that had to be curbed, and Deke
was the victim of circumstances. But Thorwald--it is just a problem of how
to awaken in him an understanding of college spirit. The fellows don't
understand him, and--"

A sudden thought, one of his inspirations, assailed the blithesome Hicks.
Why not make the fellows understand Thor? Surely, if he explained the
"Billion-Dollar Mystery," as he humorously called it, and told why
Thorwald, as yet, had no conception of college life, in its true meaning,
they would not feel bitter against him; perhaps, instead, though regretful
at his decision not to play the game, they would all strive to awaken the
stolid Colossus, to stir his soul to an understanding of campus
tradition and existence. But that would mean--"I surely hate to lose my
Billion-Dollar Mystery!" grinned T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., remembering
the intense indignation of his comrades at his Herman-Kellar-Thurston
atmosphere of mystery, "It is more fun than, my 'Sheerluck Holmes'
detective pose or my saengerfests. Still, for old Bannister, and for Thor."

It would seem only a trifle for the heedless Hicks to give up his mystery,
and tell Bannister all about Thor; yet, had the Hercules reconsidered, and
played football, the torturesome youth would have bewildered his colleagues
as long as possible, or until they made him divulge the truth. He dearly
loved to torment his comrades, and this had been such an opportunity for
him to promise nonchalantly to produce a Herculean full-back, then, to
return to the campus with the Prodigious Prodigy in tow, and for him to
perform wonders on Bannister Field, naturally aroused the interest of the
youths, and he had enjoyed hugely their puzzlement, but now--

"Say, fellows," he interrupted an excited conversation of a would-be
Committee of Ways and Means to make Thor play football, "I have an
announcement to make."

"Don't pester us, Hicks!" warned Captain Butch Brewster, grimly. "We love
you like a brother, but we'll crush you if you start any foolishness,

T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., with the study-table between himself and his
comrades, assumed the attitude of a Chautauqua lecturer, one hand resting
on the table and the other thrust into the breast of his coat, and
dramatically announced:

"In the Auditorium--at the regular mass-meeting tonight--T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., will give the correct explanation of Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy, and
will solve the Billion-Dollar Mystery!"



The announcement of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., had practically the same
effect on Head Coach Corridan and the cheery Senior's comrades as a German
gas-bomb would have on the inmates of an Allied trench. For several seconds
they stared at the blithesome youth, in a manner scarcely to be called
aimless, since their looks were aimed with deadly accuracy at him, but in
general, with the exception of Hicks, those in the room resembled vastly
some of the celebrated Madame Tussaud's wax-works in London.

"Oh," breathed Monty Merriweather, with the appearance of dawning
intelligence, "that's so, Coach, Hicks never has disclosed the details of
his achievement; we were about to extort a confession from him, when Thor
broke up the league with his announcement, and since then, Bannister has
been too worried over Thorwald to trifle with Hicks!"

"That's a good idea!" exclaimed Coach Corridan, who had been remarkably
silent, for him, pondering the football crisis, "Hicks can make his
explanation at the regular mass-meeting tonight, in the Auditorium. I'll
post an announcement of his purpose, and you fellows spread the news among
the students, stating that Hicks will tell how he rounded up Thor. Some
have shirked these meetings since Thorwald quit the game, and this will
bring them out, so maybe we can arouse the fighting spirit again!"

So well did Butch, Beef, Socks, Monty, Dad, Deacon, and Shad tell the news,
that when the bell in the Administration Hall tower rang at ten o'clock it
was ascertained by score-keepers that every youth at Bannister, Freshmen
included, except that Hercules, Thor, had assembled in the Auditorium. That
stolid behemoth, who regarded the football mass-meeting as foolishness, was
reported as boning in his cheerless room, fulfilling the mission for which
he came to college, namely, to get his money's worth of knowledge, which he
evidently regarded as some commodity for which Bannister served merely as a

Big Butch Brewster, on the stage of the Auditorium, the big assembly-hall
of the college, along with Coach Corridan, several of the Gold and Green
eleven, two members of the Faculty, several Assistant Coaches, and T.
Haviland Hicks, Jr., stepped forward and stilled the tumult of the excited
youths with upraised hand.

"We have with us tonight," he spoke, after the fashion of introducing
after-dinner speakers, "Mr. Thomas Haviland Hicks, Jr., the celebrated
Magician and Mystifier, who will present for your approval his world-famous
Billion-Dollar Mystery, and give the correct solution to Thor, the problem
no one has been able to solve. I take great pleasure in introducing to you
this evening, Mr. Thomas Haviland Hicks, Jr."

The collegians, firmly believing it was another of the pestiferous Hicks'
jokes, and wholly unaware of the deep purpose of the sunny-souled,
irrepressible youth's speech, went into paroxysms of glee, as the
shadow-like Hicks stepped forward. For several minutes, the hall echoed
with jeers, shouts, groans, whistles, and sarcastic comments:

"Hire a hall, Hicks; tell it to Sweeney!"--"Bryan better look out. Hicks,
the Chau-talker;"--"Spill the speech, old man; spread the oratory!"--"Oh,
where are my smelling-salts? I know I shall faint!"--"You'd better play a
banjo-accompaniment to it, Hicks!"

T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., for once in his campus career, fervidly wished he
had not been such a happy-go-lucky, care-free collegian, for now, when he
was serious, his comrades refused to believe him to be in such a state.
However, quiet was obtained at last, thanks to the fact that the youths
possessed all the curiosity of the proverbial cat who died thereby, and the
sunny Senior plunged earnestly into his famous speech, that was destined,
at old Bannister, to rank with that of Demosthenes "On The Crown," or any
of W. J, Bryan's masterpieces.

"Fellows," began Hicks, without preface, "I know I've built myself the
reputation of being a scatterbrained, heedless nonentity, and it's too late
to change now. But tonight, please believe me to be thoroughly in earnest.
Bannister faces more than one crisis, more than one tragedy. It is true
that the football eleven is crippled by the defection of Thor, that we
fellows have somewhat unreasonably allowed his quitting the game to shake
our spirit, but there is more at stake than football victories, than even
the State Intercollegiate Football Championship! The future of a student,
of a present Freshman, his hopes of becoming a loyal, solid, representative
college man, a tremendous power for good, at old Bannister, hang in the
balance at this moment! I speak of John Thorwald. You students have it in
your power to make or break him, to ruin his college years and make him a
recluse, a misanthrope, or to gradually bring him to a full realization of
what college life and campus tradition really mean."

"I have made a great mystery of Thor, just for a lark, but the enmity and
condemnation of the campus for him because he quit football suddenly, shows
me that the time for skylarking is past. For his sake, I must plead. He is
not to blame, altogether, for quitting. Myself, and you fellows, gave him
the impression that it was a Faculty requirement for him to play football,
for we feared he would not play, otherwise; when he learned that it was not
a Faculty rule, he simply quit."

Here T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., seeing that at last he had convinced the
collegians of his earnestness, though they seemed fairly paralyzed at the
phenomenon, paused, and produced a bundle of papers before resuming.

"Now, I'll try to explain the 'mystery' as briefly and as clearly as
possible. Up at Camp Bannister, before college opened, Coach Corridan, as
you know, outlined to Butch, Deke, and myself, his dream of a Herculean,
irresistible full-back; I said, 'Just leave It to Hicks!' and they believed
that I, as usual, just made that remark to torment them. But such was not
the case. When I joined them, I remarked that I had a letter from my Dad;
Deke made some humorous remarks, and I forgot to read it aloud, as I
intended. Then, after Coach Corridan blue-printed his giant full-back, I
kept silent as to Dad's letter, for reasons you'll understand. But, after
all, there was no mystery about my leaving Camp Bannister, after making a
seemingly rash vow, and returning to college with a 'Prodigious Prodigy'
who filled specifications, In fact, before I left Camp Bannister, at the
moment I made my rash promise--I had Thor already lined up!"

"I shall now read a dipping or two, and a letter or two from my Dad. The
clippings came in Dad's letter to me at Camp Bannister, the letter I
intended to read to Coach Corridan, Deke, and Butch, but which I decided to
keep silent about, after the Coach told of the full-back he wanted, for
I knew I had him already! First, a clipping from the San Francisco
, of August 25:


"The trading-schooner Southern Cross, Captain Martin Bascomb, skipper,
put into San Francisco yesterday with a cargo of copra from the South Sea
Islands. On board was John Thorwald, Sr., who for the past ten years
has been marooned on an uninhabited coral isle of the Southern Pacific,
together with 'Long Tom' Watts, who, however, died several months ago.
Thorwald's story reads like a thrilling bit of fiction. He was first mate
of the ill-fated yacht Zephyr, which cleared from San Francisco ten years
ago with Henry B. Kingsley, the Oil-King, and a pleasure party, for a
cruise under the southern star. A terrific tornado wrecked the yacht, and
only Thorwald and 'Long Tom' escaped, being cast upon the coral island,
where for ten years they existed, unable to attract the attention of the
few craft that passed, as the isle was out of the regular lanes. Only when
Captain Martin Bascomb, in the trading-schooner Southern Cross, touched
at the island, hoping to find natives with whom to trade supplies for
copra, were they found, and 'Long Tom' had been dead some months."

"Despite the harrowing experiences of his exile, Thorwald, a vast hulk of a
stolid, unimaginative Norwegian, who reminds one of the Norse god, 'Thor,'
intends to ship as first mate on the New York-Christiania Steamship Line.
It is said that Thorwald has a son, at this time about twenty-five years of
age, somewhere In this country, whom he will seek, and--"

T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., at this juncture, terminated the newspaper story,
and finding that his explanation held his comrades spellbound, he produced
a letter, and drew out the message, after stating the youths could read the
entire news-story of John Thorwald, Sr., later.

"This is the letter I received from my Dad," he explained to the intensely
interested Bannister youths, who were giving a concentrated attention that
members of the Faculty would have rejoiced to receive from them. "Up at
Camp Bannister--I was just about to read it to Coach Corridan, Butch, and
Deke Radford, when Deke chaffed me, and then the Coach outlined the mammoth
full-back he desired, so I kept quiet. I'll now read it to you:

"Pittsburgh, Pa., Sept, 17.


"Read the inclosed clipping from the San Francisco Examiner of August 25,
and then pay close attention to the following facts: At the time of this
news-story I was in 'Frisco on business, as you will recall, and for
reasons to be outlined, when I read of the Southern Cross finding the
marooned John Thorwald, and bringing him to that city, I was particularly
interested, so much so that I at once looked up the one-time first mate of
the ill-starred Zephyr and brought him to Pittsburgh in my private car.
My reason was this; in my employ, in the International Steel Combine's
mill, was John Thorwald's son, John Thorwald, Jr.

"To state facts as briefly as possible, almost a year ago, as I took some
friends through the steel rolling mill, I chanced to step directly beneath
a traveling crane, lowering a steel beam; seeing my peril, I was about to
step aside when I caught my foot and fell. Just then a veritable giant,
black and grimy, leaped forward, and with a prodigious display of strength,
placed his powerful back under the descending weight, staving it off until
I rolled over to safety!

"Well, of course, I had the fellow report to my office, and instinctively
feeling that I wanted to show my gratitude, without being patronizing, he
responded to my question as to what I could do to reward him, by asking
simply that I get him some job that would allow him to attend night school.
He stated that, owing to the fact that he worked alternate weeks at night
shift he was unable to do so. Questioning him further, I learned the
following facts:

"He was John Thorwald, Jr., only son of John Thorwald, Sr., a Norwegian;
his mother was also a Norwegian, but he is a natural born American.
Realizing the opportunities for an educated young man in our land,
Thorwald's parents determined that he should gain knowledge, and until he
was fifteen years old, he attended school in San Francisco. When he was
fifteen, his father signed as first mate on the yacht Zephyr, going with
the oil-king, Henry B. Kingsley, on a pleasure cruise in the Southern
Pacific; Thorwald, Sr.'s, story you read in the paper. Soon after the news
of the Zephyr's wreck, with all on board lost, as was then supposed,
Thorwald's mother died. Her dying words (so young Thorwald told me, and I
was moved by his simple, straightforward tale) were an appeal to her
boy. She made him promise, for her sake, to study, study, study to gain
knowledge, and to rise in the world! Thorwald promised. Then, believing
both his parents dead, the young Norwegian, a youth of fifteen without
money, had to shift for himself.

"Thomas, Jack London could weave his adventures into a gripping
masterpiece. Starting in as cabin-boy on a freighter to Alaska, young
Thorwald, in the past ten years, has simply crowded his life with
adventure, thrill, and experience, though thrills mean nothing to him. He
was in the Klondike gold-fields, in the salmon canneries, a prospector, a
lumber-jack in the Canadian Northwest, a cowboy, a sailor, a worker in the
Panama Canal Zone, on the Big Ditch, and too many other things to remember.
Finally, he drifted to Pittsburgh, where his prodigious strength served him
in the steel-mills, and, let me add, served me, as I stated.

"And ever, no matter where he wandered, or what was his toil, whenever
possible, Thorwald studied. His promise to his mother was always his goal,
and in the cities he studied, or in the wilds he read all the books he
could find. The past year, finding he had a good-pay job in Pittsburgh, he
settled to determined effort, and by sheer resolution, by his wonderful
power to grasp facts and ideas for good once he gets them, he made great
progress in night school, until he was shifted, a week before he saved my
life, to work that required him to toil nightly, alternate weeks. So, for a
year, Thor has had every possible advantage, some, unknown to him, I paid
for myself; I got him clerical work, with shorter hours, he went to night
school, and I employed the very best tutor obtainable, letting Thorwald
pay him, as he thought, though his payments wouldn't keep the tutor in
neckties. The gratitude of the blond giant is pathetic, and suspecting that
I paid the tutor something, he insisted on paying all he could, which I
allowed, of course.

"Well, in August, a year after Thorwald rescued me from serious injury,
perhaps death, I was in 'Frisco, and read of Thorwald, Sr.'s rescue and
return. Overjoyed, I took the father to Pittsburgh, to the son. I witnessed
their meeting, with the father practically risen from the dead, and all
those stolid, unimaginative Norwegians did was to shake hands gravely!
Young Thorwald told of his mother's last words, and of his promise, of his
having studied all the years, and of his late progress, so that he was
ready to enter college. His father, happy, insisted that he enter this
September, and he would pay for his son's college course, to make up for
the years the youth struggled for himself--Kingsley's heirs, I believe,
gave Thorwald, Sr., five thousand dollars on his return. So, though
grateful to me for the aid I offered, they would receive no financial
assistance, for they want to work it out themselves, and help the youth
make good his promise to his dying mother.

"Much as I love old Bannister, my Alma Mater, I would not have tried to
send Thorwald there, had I not deemed it a good place for him. However,
since it is a liberal, not a technical, education he wants, it is all
right; and that prodigious strength will serve the Gold and Green on the
football field. Now, Thomas, I want you to meet him in Philadelphia, and
take him to Bannister, look out for him, get him started O. K., and do all
you can for him. Get him to play football, if you can, but don't condemn
if he refuses. Remember, his life has been grim and unimaginative; he has
toiled and studied, it is probable he will not understand college life at

"That's all I need to read of Dad's letter, fellows," concluded T. Haviland
Hicks, Jr. "After I got it, and Coach Corridan, Butch, and Beef heard my
seemingly rash vow to round up a giant full-back, I made a mystery of it; I
loafed in Philadelphia and Atlantic City until I met Thor, and brought him
here. You have all the data regarding Thor, 'The Billion-Dollar Mystery.'"

The students, almost as one, drew a deep breath. They had been enthralled
by the story, and their feeling toward Thor had undergone a vast change.
Stirred by hearing of his promise to his dying mother, thrilled at the way
the stolid, determined Norwegian had ceaselessly studied to make something
of himself for the sake of his mother's sacred memory, the Bannister youths
now thought of football, of the Championship, as insignificant, beside the
goal of Thorwald, Jr. The blond Colossus, whom an hour ago all Bannister
reviled and condemned for not playing the game, who was a campus outcast,
was now a hero; thanks to the erstwhile heedless Hicks, whose intense
earnestness in itself was a revelation to the amazed collegians, Thor stood
before them in a different light, and the impulsive, whole-souled, generous
youths were now anxious to make amends.

"Thor! Thor! Thor!" was the thunderous cry, and the Bannister yell for
the Prodigious Prodigy shattered the echoes. Then T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.,
ecstatically joyous, again stilled the tumult, and spoke in behalf of John

"We all understand Thor now, fellows," he said, beaming on his comrades.
"We want him to play football, and we'll keep after him to play, but we
won't condemn him if he refuses. At present, Thor is simply a stolid,
unimaginative, dull mass of muscle. As you can realize, his nature, his
life so far have not tended to make him appreciate the gayer, lighter side
of college life, or to grasp the traditions of the campus. To him, college
is a market; he pays his money and he takes the knowledge handed out. We
can not blame him for not understanding college existence in its entirety,
or that the gaining of knowledge is a small part of the representative
collegian's purpose.

"Now, boys, here's our job, and let's tackle it together: To awaken in
Thor a great love for old Bannister, to cause college spirit to stir his
practical soul. Let every fellow be his friend, let no one speak against
him, because of football. We must work slowly, carefully, gradually making
him grasp college traditions, and once he awakens to the real meaning of
campus life, what a power he will be in the college and on the athletic
field! Maybe he will not play football this season, but let us help him to

With wild shouts, the aroused collegians poured from the Auditorium, an
excited, turbulent mass of youthful humanity, a tide that swept T. Haviland
Hicks, Jr., on the shoulders of several, out on the campus. Massed beneath
the window of John Thorwald's room, in Creighton Hall, the Bannister
students, now fully understanding that stolid Hercules, and stirred to
admiration of him by T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s, great speech, cheered the
somewhat mystified Thor again and again; in vast sound waves, the shouts
rolled up to his open window:

"Rah! Rah! Rah-rah-rah! Thor! Thor! Thor!" Captain Brewster, through a
big megaphone, roared; "Fellows--What's the matter with Thor?"

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