Part 2 out of 4
And in a terrific outburst which, as the Phillyloo Bird afterward said,
"Like to of busted Bannister's works!" the enthusiastic collegians
Then Butch, apparently in quest of information, persisted:
"Who's all right?"
To which the three hundred or more youths, all seemingly equipped with
lungs of leather, kindly answered:
"Thor! Thor! Thor!"
Still, though the Phillyloo Bird declared that this vocal explosion caused
the seismographs as Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and in Salt Lake
City, Utah, to register an earthquake somewhere, it had on the blond
Freshman a strange effect. The vast mountain of muscle lumbered heavily
across the room, gazed down at the howling crowd of collegians without
emotion, then slammed down the window, and returned to study.
"Good night" called Hicks. "The show is over! Let him have another yell,
boys, to show we aren't insulted; then we'll disband!"
Considering Thorwald's cool reception of their overtures, which some youth
remarked, "Were as noisy as that of a Grand Opera Orchestra," it was quite
surprising to the students, in the morning, when what occurred an hour
after their serenade was revealed to them. As the story was told by those
who witnessed the scene, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., Butch, Beef, Monty, Pudge,
Roddy, Biff, Hefty, Tug, Buster, and Coach Corridan after the commotion
subsided, retired to the sunny Hicks' quarters, where the football
situation was discussed, along with ways and means to awaken Thor, when
that colossal Freshman himself loomed up in the doorway.
As they afterward learned, several excited Freshmen had dared to invade
Thor's den, even while he studied, and give him a more or less correct
account of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s masterly oration in his defense. Out of
their garbled descriptions, big John Thorwald grasped one salient point,
and straightway he started for Hicks' room, leaving the indignant Freshmen
to tell their story to the atmosphere.
"Hicks," said Thor, not bothering with the "Mr." required of all Freshmen,
as his vast bulk crowded the doorway, "is it true that Mr. Thomas Haviland
Hicks, Sr., wants me to play football? He has been very kind to me, and
has helped me, and so have you, here at college. After a year of study, I
should have had to stop night-school, but for him--instead, I got another
year, and prepared for Bannister. I did not know that he desired me to
play, but if he does, I feel under obligation to show my great gratitude,
both for myself and for my father,"
A moment of silence, for the glorious news could not be grasped in a
second; those in the room, knowing Thomas Haviland Hicks, Sr.'s, brilliant
athletic record at old Bannister, and understanding his great love for
his Alma Mater, knew that Hicks, Sr., had sent Thor to Bannister to play
football for the Gold and Green, though, as he had written his son, he
would not have done so had he honestly believed that another college would
suit the ambitious Goliath better.
"Does he?" stammered the dazed T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., while the others
echoed the words feebly, "Yes, I should say he does!"
For a second, the ponderous young Colossus hesitated, and then, as calmly
as though announcing he would add Greek to his list of studies, and wholly
unaware that his words were to bring joy to old Bannister, he spoke
"Then I shall play football."
HICKS STARTS ANOTHER MYSTERY.
"Fifteen men sat on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the Devil had done for the rest--
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!"
T HAVILAND HICKS, JR., his chair tilted at a perilous angle, and his feet
thrust gracefully atop of the study-table, in his cozy room, one Friday
afternoon two weeks after John Thorwald's return to the football squad, was
fathoms deep in Stevenson's "Treasure Island." As he perused the thrilling
pages, the irrepressible youth twanged a banjo accompaniment, and roared
with gusto the piratical chantey of Long John Silver's buccaneer crew;
Hicks, however, despite his saengerfest, was completely lost in the
enthralling narrative, so that he seemed to hear the parrot shrieking,
"Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!" and the wild refrain:
"Fifteen men sat on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!"
He was reading that breathlessly exciting part where the cabin-boy of the
Hispaniola, and Israel Hands have their terrible fight to the death, with
the dodging over the dead man rolling in the scuppers, the climbing up the
mast, and the dirk pinning the boy's shoulder, before Hands is shot and
goes to join his mate on the bottom; just at the most absorbing page, as he
twanged his beloved banjo louder, and roared the chantey, there sounded,
"Tramp--tramp--tramp!" in the corridor, the heavy tread of many feet
sounded, coming nearer. Instinctively realizing that the pachydermic parade
was headed for his room, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., rushed to the closet,
murmuring, "Safety first!" as usual, and stowed away his banjo. He was just
in the nick of time, for a second later there crowded into his room Captain
Butch, Pudge, Beef, Hefty, Biff, Monty, Roddy, Bunch, Tug, Buster, Coach
Corridas, and Thor, the latter duo bringing up the rear.
"Hicks, you unjailed public nuisance!" said Butch Brewster, affectionately.
"We, whom you behold, are going for to enter into that room across the
corridor from your boudoir, and hold a football signal quiz and confab. We
should request that you permit a thunderous silence to originate in your
cozy retreat, for the period of at least a hour! A word to the wise is
sufficient, so I have spoken several, that even you may comprehend my
"I gather you, fluently!" grinned T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., taking up
"Treasure Island" and his graceful pose once more. "Leave me to peruse the
thrilling pages of this classic blood-and-thunder book, and I'll cause a
beautiful serenity to obtain hither."
"See that you do, you pestiferous insect!" threatened Beef McNaughton,
ominously. "Come on, fellows, Hicks can't escape our vengeance, if
he bursts into what he fatuously believes is song. Just let him act
When the Gold and Green eleven, half of which, to judge by size, was
Thor, had gone with Coach Corridan into the room across from that of the
blithesome Hicks, the sunny-souled Senior tried to resume his perusal of
"Treasure Island," but somehow the spell had been broken by the invasion of
his cozy quarters. So, after vainly essaying to take up the thread of the
story again, Hicks arose and stood by the window, gazing across the campus
to Bannister Field, deserted, since the football team rested for the game
of the morrow. As he stood there, the gladsome Hicks reflected seriously.
He thought of "Thor," and decided sorrowfully that the problem of awakening
that stolid Colossus to a full understanding of campus life was as unsolved
"But I won't give it up!" declared Hicks, determinedly. "I have always
been good at math, and I won't let this problem baffle me."
Since the night, two weeks back, when T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., had made his
memorable speech, explaining to his fellow-students the "Billon-Dollar
Mystery," and arousing in them a vast admiration for the slow-minded,
plodding John Thorwald, every collegian had done his best to befriend the
big Freshman. Upperclassmen helped him with his studies. Despite his almost
rude refusal to meet any advances, the collegians always had a cheery
greeting for him, and his class-mates, in fear and trembling, invaded
his den at times, to show him they were his friends. Yet, despite these
whole-hearted efforts, only two of old Bannister did the silent Thor
seem to desire as comrades: the festive Hicks, for reasons known,
and--remarkable to chronicle--little Theophilus Opperdyke, the timorous,
studious "Human Encyclopedia."
"Colossus and Lilliputian!" the Phillyloo Bird quaintly observed once when
this strangely assorted duo appeared on the campus. "Say, fellows--some
time Thor will accidentally sit on Theophilus, and we'll have another
mystery, the disappearance of our boner!"
The generous Hicks, longing for Thor's awakening to come, was not in the
least jealous of his loyal little friend, Theophilus. In fact, he was
sincerely delighted that the unemotional Hercules desired the comradeship
of the grind, and he urged the Human Encyclopedia to strive constantly to
arouse in Thor a realization of college existence, and a true knowledge of
its meaning. At least one thing, Theophilus reported, had been achieved by
Hicks' defense of Thorwald, and the subsequent attitude of the collegians--
the colossal Freshman was puzzled, quite naturally. When over three hundred
youths criticized, condemned, and berated him one night, and the next, even
before he reconsidered his decision about football, came under his window
and cheered him, no wonder the young Norwegian was bewildered.
On the football field, with his dogged determination, his bulldog way of
hanging on to things until he mastered them, big Thor progressed slowly,
and surely; the past Saturday, against the heavy Alton eleven, the blond
Freshman had been sent in for the second half, and, to quote an overjoyed
student, he had "busted things all up!" It seemed simply impossible to stop
that terrible rush of his huge body. Time after time he plowed through the
line for yards, and old Bannister, visioning Thor distributing Hamilton and
Ballard over the field, in the big games, literally hugged itself.
And yet, despite Thorwald's invincible prowess, despite the vast joy of
old Bannister at the chances of the Championship, some intangible
shadow hovered over the campus. It brooded over the training-table, the
shower-rooms after scrimmage, on Bannister Field during practice; as yet,
no one had dared to give it form, by voicing his thought, but though no
youth dared admit it, something was wrong, there was a defective cog in the
machinery of that marvelous machine, the Gold and Green eleven.
"'Oh, just leave it to Hicks," quoth that sunny youth, at length, turning
from the window; "I'll solve the problem, or what is more probable,
Theophilus may stir that sodden hulk of humanity, after awhile. I won't
worry about it, for that gets me nothing, and it will all come out O.K.,
At this moment, just as T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., picked up "Treasure Island"
again, he heard drifting across the corridor from the room opposite, in
Butch Brewster's familiar voice:
"--Yes, I'll win three more Bs'--one each in football, baseball and track;
next spring, I'll annex my last B at old Bannister, fellows--"
His last B--The words struck the blithesome Hicks with sledge-hammer
force. Big Butch Brewster was talking of his last B, when he, T. Haviland
Hicks, Jr., had never won his first; with a feeling almost of alarm, the
sunny youth realized that this was his final year at old Bannister, his
last chance to win his athletic letter, and to make happy his beloved Dad,
by helping him to realize part of his life's ambition--to behold his son
shattering Hicks, Sr.'s, wonderful record. His final chance, and outside of
his hopes of winning the track award in the high-jump, Hicks saw no way to
win his B.
Thomas Haviland Hicks, Sr., as has been chronicled, the beloved Dad of the
cheery Senior, a Pittsburgh millionaire Steel King, was a graduate of old
Bannister, Class of '92. While wearing the Gold and Green, he had made
an all-round athletic record never before, or afterward, rivaled on
the campus. At football, basketball, track, and baseball, he was a
scintillating star, annexing enough letters to start an alphabet, had they
been different ones. Quite naturally, when the Doctor, speaking anent
the then infantile Thomas Haviland Hicks, Jr., said, "Mr. Hicks, it's a
boy!"--the one-time Bannister athlete straightway began to dream of the day
when his only son and heir should follow in his Dad's footsteps, shattering
the records made at Bannister, and at Yale, by Hicks, pere.
However, to quote a sporting phrase, the son of the Steel King "upset the
dope!" At the start of his Senior year, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr. had not
annexed a single athletic honor, nor did the signs point to any records
being in peril of getting shattered by his prowess; as Hicks himself
phrased it, "Dame Nature was some stingy when she handed out the Hercules
stuff to me!" The happy-go-lucky youth, when he matriculated as a Freshman
at Bannister College, was builded on the general lines of a toothpick, and
had he elected to follow a pugilistic career, a division somewhat lighter
than the tissue paperweight class would have had to be devised to
accommodate the splinter-student. A generous, sunny-souled, intensely
democratic collegian, despite his father's wealth, the festive Hicks, with
his room always open-house to all; his firm friendship for star athlete
or humble boner, his never-failing sunny nature, together with his famous
Hicks Personally Conducted Expeditions downtown to the Beef-Steak Busts he
had originated, in his three years at old Bannister, had made himself the
most popular and beloved youth on the campus, but, he had not won his B!
And he had tried. With a full realization, of his Dad's ambition, his
life-dream to behold his son a great athlete, the blithesome Hicks had
tried, but with hilariously futile results. Nature had endowed him, as he
told his loyal comrade, Butch Brewster, with "the Herculean build of a
Jersey mosquito," and his athletic powers neared zero infinity. In his
Freshman year, he inaugurated his athletic career by running the wrong way
in the Sophomore-Freshman football game, scoring a touchdown that won for
the enemy, and naturally, after that performance, every athletic effort was
greeted with jeers by the students,
"I have tried!" said Hicks, producing two letters from the study-table,
"But not like I should have tried. I could never have played on the eleven,
or on the nine, but I have a chance in the high-jump. I know I've been
indolent and care-free, and I ought to have trained harder. Well, I just
must win my track B this spring, but as to keeping the rash promise I made
to Butch as a Freshman--not a chance!"
It had been at the close of his Freshman year, after Hicks, in the
Interclass Track Meet, had smashed hurdles, broken high-jumping cross-bars,
finished last in several events, and jeopardized his life with the shot and
hammer, that he made the rash vow to which he now had reference. Butch,
believing his sunny friend had entered all the events just to entertain the
crowd, in his fun-loving way, was teasing him about his ridiculous fiascos,
when Hicks had told him the story--how his Dad wanted him to try and be a
famous athlete; he showed Butch a letter, received before the meet, asking
his son to try every event, and to keep on training, so as to win his B
before he graduated. Butch, great-hearted, was surprised and moved by the
revelation that the gladsome youth, even as he was jeered by his friendly
comrades, who thought he performed for sport, was striving to have his
Dad's dream come true; he had sympathized with his classmate, and then his
scatter-brained colleague had aroused his indignation by vowing, with a
"'Oh, just leave it to Hicks!' Remember this, Butch, before I graduate from
old Bannister, I shall have won my B in three branches of sport!"
Butch had snorted incredulously. To win the football or the baseball B,
the gold letter for the former, and the green one for the latter sport,
an athlete had to play in three-fourths of the season's games, on the
"'Varsity"; to gain the white track letter, one had to win a first place in
some event, in a regularly scheduled track meet with another team. And now,
Butch's skepticism seemed confirmed, for at the start of his last year at
college, Hicks had not annexed a single B, though he bade fair to corral
one in the spring in the high-jump.
"Heigh-ho!" chuckled Hicks, at length. "Here I am threatening to get gloomy
again! Well I'll sure train hard to win my track letter, and that seems
all I can do! I'd like to win my three B's, and jeer at Butch, next June,
but--it can't be did! I shall now twang my trusty banjo, and drive dull
Quite forgetful of the football conclave across the corridor, and of Butch
Brewster's request for quiet, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr. dragged out his
beloved banjo, caressed its strings lovingly, and roared:
"Fifteen men sat on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the--"
"Hicks!" Big Butch Brewster crashed across the corridor, both doors being
open. "Is this how you maintain a quiet? I'm going to call Thor over and
make him sit down on you! Why, you--"
"Have mercy!" plead the grinning Hicks. "Honest, Butch, I didn't go to bust
up the league--I--I heard you talk about your B's, and I got to thinking
that I have but little time to make my Dad happy; see, here's proof--read
these letters I was perusing--"
Puzzled, Butch scanned the first one, dated back in the May of their
Freshman year; Hicks had received it before the class track meet, and, as
chronicled, he had heard from his sunny comrade later, how it impelled the
splinter youth to try every event, while Bannister believed him to enter
them for fun. The letter was post-marked "Pittsburgh, Pa.," and it read:
DEAR SON THOMAS:
Your last term's report gratified me immensely, and I am proud of your
class record, and scholastic achievements. Pitch in, and lead your class,
and make your Dad happy.
But there is something else of which I want to write, Thomas. As you must
know, it has always been a cause of keen regret to me that you have never
seemed to care for athletics of any sort; you appear to be too indolent and
ease-loving to sacrifice, or to endure the hardships of training. I suppose
it is because of my athletic record both at Bannister and at old Yale that
I am so eager to see you become a star; in fact, it is my life's most
cherished ambition to have you become as famous as your Dad.
However, I realize that my fond dream can never come true. Nature has not
made you naturally strong and athletic, and what athletic success you may
gain, must come from long and hard training and practice. If you can only
win your college letter, your B, Thomas, while at Bannister, I shall be
I said nothing when you failed even to try for the teams at your
Preparatory School, but I did hope that at Bannister, under good coaches
and trainers, you would at least endeavor to win your letter. I must admit
that I am disappointed, for you have not even made an earnest effort to
find your event. Often, by trying everything, especially in a track meet, a
fellow finds his event, and later stars in it.
I really believe that if you would start in now to develop yourself by
regular, systematic gymnasium work, and if you would only try, in a year
or so you could make a Bannister team. Theodore Roosevelt, you know, was a
puny, weakly boy, but he built himself up, and became an athlete. If you
want to please me, start now and find your event. Attempt all the sports,
all the various track and field events, and always build yourself up by
exercise in the Gym.
And you owe it to your Alma Mater, my son! Even if, after conscientious
effort, you fail to win your B, to know that you have given your college
and teams what help you could, will please your Dad. Remember, the fellow
who toils on the scrubs is the true hero. If you become good enough to give
the first eleven, the first nine, the first five, or the first track squad
a hard rub and a fast practice, you are serving Bannister.
I don't ask you to do this, Thomas, I only say that it will make me happy
just to know you are striving. If you never get beyond the scrubs, just to
hear you are serving the Gold and Green, giving your best, in that humble
unhonored way, will please me. And if, before you graduate, you can win
your B, I shall be so glad! Don't get discouraged, it may take until your
Senior year, but once you start, stick.
"Read this one, too, Butch," requested Hicks, hurriedly, as a hail of, "Oh,
you Hicks, come here!" sounded down the corridor, from Skeet Wigglesworth's
abode. "I'll be back as soon as Skeet finishes his foolishness. Don't wait
for me, though, if I am delayed, for you want to be talking football."
Left alone, big Butch Brewster, who of all the collegians that had known
and loved the sunny Hicks, some now graduated, understood that his athletic
efforts, jeered good-naturedly by the students, were made because of a
great desire to win his B and make happy his Dad, read the second letter,
dated a few days before:
DEAR SON THOMAS:
You are starting the last lap, son, your Senior year, and your final chance
to win your B! Don't forget how happy it will make your Dad if you win your
letter just once! Of course, you cannot gain it in football, for nature
gave you no chance, nor in baseball; but in track work it is up to you.
Train hard, Thomas, and try to win a first place; just win your track B,
and I'll rest content!
Your college record gives me great pleasure. You stand at the top in your
studies, and you are vastly popular, while the Faculty speak highly of you.
Let your B come as a climax to your career, and I'll be so proud of you.
Don't forget, you are the "Class Kid" of Yale, '96, and those sons of old
Eli want you to win the letter. As to football, you cannot win your gold B
by playing three-fourths of a season's games, but you might get in a big
game, even win it, if you'll get confidence enough to tell Coach Corridan
about yourself. Don't mind the jeers of your comrades--they just don't
know how you've tried to please your Dad; you owe it to your Alma Mater
to tell, and, take my word as a football star, you have the goods! Your
peculiar prowess has won many a contest, and old Bannister needs it this
season, I hear--
There was more, but big Butch scarcely saw it, bewildered as the behemoth
Senior was; what new mystery had Hicks set afoot? What did Hicks, Sr.,
mean by writing, "You might get in a big game, even win it, if you'll get
confidence enough to tell Coach Corridan about yourself? You owe it to your
Alma Mater to tell, and take my word, as a football star, you have the
goods--" Why, everyone knew that T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., possessed no more
football ability than a Jersey mosquito, and yet--
"Another Hicks mystery," groaned Butch, holding the two letters
thoughtfully. "And father and son are in it, But if Hicks don't get his B,
it will be a shame. Say, I know--"
A few moments later, good-hearted Butch Brewster, in the behalf of his
sunny comrade, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., was making to the Gold and Green
eleven and Coach Corridan, as eloquent a speech as that blithesome youth,
two weeks before, had made in defense of the condemned and ostracized Thor!
He read them the two letters of Hicks' beloved Dad, and told how the cheery
collegian wanted to win his B for his father's sake; graphically, he
related Hicks, Sr.'s, great ambition, and how Hicks, Jr., for three years
had vainly tried to make good at some athletic sport, and to win his
letter. Big Butch, warming to his theme, spoke of how T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., letting the students believe that he entered every event in the track
meet of his Freshman year just for fun, had been trying to find his event,
and train for it; he explained that the festive youth, ever sunny-natured,
under the good-humored jeers of his comrades, who did not know his real
purpose, really yearned to win his B.
"You fellows, and you, Coach," he thundered, "all know how Hicks, unable
to make the 'Varsity, has always done humble service for old Bannister,
cheerfully, gladly; how he keeps the athletes in good spirits at the
training-table, and is always on hand after scrimmage to rub them out. He
is chock-full of college spirit, and is intensely loyal to his Alma Mater.
Why, look how he rounded up Thor--he ought to have his B for that!"
Thanks to Butch's speech, the Gold and Green football stars, most of whom
were Hicks' closest friends, saw the scatter-brained, happy-go-lucky
youth in a new light; his eloquent defense of John Thorwald had shown old
Bannister that he could be serious, but the knowledge that T. Haviland
Hicks, Jr., even as he made a ridiculous farce in athletics, was ambitious
to win his B, just to make his Dad happy, stunned them. For three years,
the sunny Hicks' appearance on old Bannister Field, to try for a team, had
meant a small-sized riot of jeers and good-natured ridicule at his expense;
but Hicks had always grinned a la Cheshire cat,--and no one but good
Butch Brewster, all the time, had known how in earnest the lovable
"Now," concluded Butch, "Hicks may win a B in track work, if he gets a
first place in the high-jump, and if so, O.K., but if he does not--"
"You mean--" Monty Merriweather--understood, "if he fails, then the
Athletic Association ought to--"
"Present him with a B!" said Butch, earnestly, "as a deserved reward for
his faithful loyalty and service to old Bannister's athletic teams. Don't
let him graduate without gaining his letter, and making his Dad realize a
part of his ambition--a two-thirds vote of the Athletic Association can
award him his letter, and when all the students know the truth about his
ridiculous fiasco on Bannister Field, and realize the serious purpose
beneath them all, they--"
"We'll give him his B!" shouted Beef, loudly, "If he fails in track work
next spring, we'll vote him his letter, anyway!"
Out in the corridor, T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., returning from Skeet
Wigglesworth's room and entering his own cozy quarters, could not help
hearing the conversation, as the doors of both his den and the room across
the corridor were open. A great love for his comrades came to his impulsive
heart, and a mist before his eyes, as he heard how they wanted to vote him
his B in case he failed to win it in track work; he thrilled at Butch's
[Illustration B: 'Fellows,...I--I thank you from the bottom of my heart']
"Fellows," he startled them by appearing in the doorway, "I--I thank you
from the bottom of my heart. I couldn't help hearing, you know--I do
appreciate your generous thoughts, but--I can't and won't accept my B
unless I win it according to the rule of the Athletic Association."
A silence, and then Butch Brewster, gripping his comrade's hand
understandingly, held out to him the two letters.
"Forgive me, old man," he breathed, "for reading them aloud, but I wanted
the fellows to know, to appreciate you! And say, Hicks, what does your Dad
mean by saying that you are the 'Class Kid' of Yale, '96, and that those
sons of old Eli want you to win your letter? And what does he mean by
saying that you may get in a big game--may win it--that you have
the goods in football, but lack the confidence to announce it to Coach
Corridan? Also that old Bannister needs just the peculiar brand you
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., his sunny, Cheshire cat grin illuminating his
cherubic countenance, beamed on the eleven and Coach Corridan a moment.
"Oh, that's a mystery," he said, cheerfully. "If I do gain the courage
and confidence, I'll explain, but unless I do--it remains a--mystery!"
COACH CORRIDAN SURPRISES THE ELEVEN
"ALL MEMBERS OF THE FIRST ELEVEN ARE URGENTLY REQUESTED TO BE PRESENT IN
THE ROOM OF T. HAVILAND HICKS, JR.--AT EIGHT P. M. TONIGHT; YOU WILL BE
DETAINED ONLY A FEW MINUTES, BUT LET EVERY PLAYER COME, AS A MATTER OF
EXTREME IMPORTANCE WILL BE PRESENTED. PATRICK HENRY COERIDAN, HEAD-COACH."
"Now, what do you suppose is up Coach Corridan's sleeve?" demanded T.
Haviland Hicks, Jr., cheerfully. "Has Ballard learned our signals, or some
Bannister student sold them to a rival team, as per the usual football
story? Though the notice doth not herald it, I am to be present, for my
room is to be used, and the Coach gave me a special invitation to cut the
Gordian knot with my keen intellect."
The sunny Hicks, with Butch, Beef, Tug, and Monty, had just come from
"Delmonico's Annex," the college dining-hall, after supper; they had paused
before the Bulletin Board at the Gymnasium entrance, where all college
notices were posted, and the Coach's urgent request had caught their gaze.
The announcement had caused quite a stir on the campus. The Bannister
youths stood in excited groups talking of it, and in the dormitories it
superseded all thought of study; however, there seemed little chance that
any but the "'Varsity" and T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., who was always consulted
in football problems, would know what took place in this meeting.
"There is only one way to find out, Hicks," responded big Butch Brewster,
his arm across his blithesome comrade's shoulders, "and that is, attend
the meeting! You can wager that every member of the eleven will be there,
except Thor--he regards it as 'foolishness,' I suppose, and he won't spare
that precious time from his studies."
At five minutes past eight, Butch's prophecy was fulfilled, for every
member of the eleven was in Hicks' cozy room, except Thor, the Prodigious
Prodigy, whose presence would have caused a mild sensation. It was an
extremely quiet and orderly gathering, for Coach Corridan, who had the
floor, was so grave that he impressed the would-be sky-larking youths.
Having their undivided attention, he proceeded to make a speech that, to
all intents and purposes, had much the same effect on the team and Hicks as
a Zeppelin's bombs on London:
"Boys," he spoke, in forceful sentences, driving straight to the point,
"I am going to take the eleven, and Hicks, whose suggestions are always
timely, into my confidence, in the hope that we, working together, may
carry out an idea of mine for the awakening of Thor to a realization
of things! I ask you not to let what I shall tell you be known to the
student-body, but you fellows play with Thor every day, and you will
understand the crisis, and appreciate why it is done, if I decide it
necessary to drop John Thorwald from the football squad."
"Drop Thor from the squad!" gasped T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., staggered, and
then pandemonium broke loose among the players. Drop the Prodigious Prodigy
from the squad, why, what could the Slave-Driver be thinking of? Why,
look how Thorwald, on the scrubs, tore through the heavy 'Varsity line for
big gains. He was simply unstoppable; and yet, almost on the eve of the big
game that old Bannister depended on Thor to win by his splendid prowess, he
might be dropped from the squad! Excited exclamations sounded from Captain
Butch Brewster, Beef, and the others of the Gold and Green eleven:
"Why not give the big games to Ballard and Ham, Coach?"
"Say, shoot Theophilus Opperdyke in at full-back!"
"Good-by, championship! No hopes now, fellows!"
"If Thor doesn't play in the Big Games--good night!"
A greater sensation could not have been caused even had kindly white-haired
Prexy announced his intention of challenging Jess Willard for the World's
Heavy-Weight Championship. Dropping that human battering-ram, Thor, from
the football, squad was something utterly undreamed-of. Coach Corridan
raised his hand for silence, and the youths subsided.
"Hear me carefully, boys," he urged, "I know that old Bannister has come to
regard John Thorwald as invincible, to use his vast bulk as a foundation
on which to build hopes of the Championship, which is a bad policy, for no
team can be a one-man team and win. I realize that as a football player,
Thor hasn't an equal in the State today, and if he had the right spirit, he
would have few in the country. It would be ridiculous to decry his prowess,
for he is a physical phenomenon. But you remember T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s,
splendid defense of Thor, a week or so ago? Hicks gave you a full and clear
explanation of the big fellow, and showed you why he does not know what
college spirit is, what loyalty and love for one's Alma Mater mean! His
masterly speech changed your attitude toward Thor, and even before he
decided to play football, for Mr. Hicks' sake, you admired him, because
of his indomitable purpose, his promise to his dying mother. Now I am
telling you why he may be dropped from the squad, because I want you
fellows to give Thor a square deal, to remember what Hicks told you of him,
and to keep on striving to awaken him to the true meaning of campus years,
to make him realize that college life is more than a mere buying of
knowledge. I want to keep him on the squad, if humanly possible, and I
shall outline my plot later.
"Tomorrow we play Latham College. It is the last game before the big games
for The State Intercollegiate Football Championship. Saturday after this,
we play Hamilton, and the following week Ballard, the Champions! The eleven
I send in against those teams must be a solid unit, one in spirit and
purpose--every member of the Gold and Green team must be welded with his
team-mates, and they must forget everything but that their Alma Mater must
win the Championship! With no thought of self-glory, no other purpose in
playing than a love for old Bannister, every fellow must go into those
games to fight for his Alma Mater! Now, as for Thor, I need not tell you
that he is not in sympathy with our ambition; he simply does not understand
campus tradition and spirit. He is as yet not possessed of an Alma Mater;
he plays football only because of gratitude to Mr. Thomas Haviland Hicks,
Sr., and he hates to lose the time from his studies for the practice.
The football squad knows that his presence is a veritable wet blanket on
enthusiasm and the team's fighting spirit."
It was true. That intangible shadow of something wrong, brooding over
training-table, shower-room, and Bannister Field, that self-evident
truth which almost every collegian had for days confessed to himself yet
hesitated to voice, had been given definite form by Coach Corridan talking
to the eleven. The good that Thorwald might do for the team by his superb
prowess and massive bulk was more than offset and nullified by his
To the blond Colossus, daily practice was unutterable mental torture. His
mind was on his studies, to which his bulldog purpose shackled him; he
begrudged the time spent on Bannister Field; he was stolid, silent, aloof.
He scarcely ever spoke, except when addressed. He reported for practice at
the last second, went through the scrimmage like a great, dumb, driven ox,
doing as he was ordered; and when the squad was dismissed he hurried to his
room. He was among the squad, but not of them; he neither understood nor
cared about their love for old Bannister, their vast desire to win for
their Alma Mater; he played football because he was grateful to Hicks, Sr.,
for helping him to get started toward his goal, but as Coach Corridan now
told the 'Varsity, he killed the squad's enthusiasm,
"All of this cannot fail to damage the esprit de corps, the morale, of
the eleven," declared Coach Corridan, having outlined Thor's attitude. "I
know that every member of the squad, if Thor played the game because of
college spirit, for love of old Bannister, would rejoice at his prowess.
But as it is they are justly resentful that he is not in the spirit of the
game. What we may gain by his playing, we lose because the others cannot do
their best with his example to hurt their fighting spirit. I do not want,
nor will I have on my eleven, any player who plays for other reasons than a
love for his Alma Mater, be he a Hogan, Brickley, Thorpe, or Mahan. I have
waited, hoping Thorwald would be awakened, as Hicks explained, but now I
must act. Tomorrow's game with Latham must see Thor awakened, or I must,
for the sake of the eleven, drop him from the squad for the rest of the
"Yet I beg of you, in case the plan I shall propose fails, remember Hicks'
appeal! Do not condemn or ostracize John Thorwald in any degree. He has
three more seasons of football, so let us keep on trying to make him
understand campus life, college tradition. Be his friends, help him all you
can, and sooner or later he will awaken. Something may suddenly shock him
to a true understanding of what old Bannister means to a fellow. Or perhaps
the awakening will be slow, but it must come. And Bannister can win without
Thor, don't forget that! We'll make one final effort to awaken Thor, and
if it fails, just forget him, boys, so far as football goes, and watch the
Gold and Green win that championship."
"What is your scheme, Coach?" questioned Captain Butch Brewster, his honest
countenance showing how heavily the responsibility of team-leader weighed
upon him. "You are right; as Thor is now, he is a handicap to the eleven,
"My idea is this," explained the Slave-Driver earnestly. "Select some
student to go to Thorwald and try to show him that unless he gets into the
game and plays for old Bannister, he will be dropped from the squad. If
possible, let the fellow make him understand that, in his case, it will be
a shame and a dishonor. Now, Butch, you and Hicks can probably approach
Thor, or perhaps you know of someone who--"
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s, cherubic countenance showed the light of dawning
inspiration, and Coach Corridan paused, as the sunny youth exhibited a
desire to say something, with him not by any means a phenomenal
happening; given the floor, the blithesome youth burst forth excitedly:
"Theophilus--Theophilus Opperdyke is the one! He has more influence over
Thor than any other student, and the big fellow likes the little boner.
Thor will at least listen to Theophilus, which Is more than any of us can
gain from him."
After the meeting had adjourned, and the last inspection had been made in
the other dorms, the Seniors being exempt, several members of the Gold and
Green team--Captain Butch, Beef, Pudge, Monty, Roddy, and Bunch, together
with little Theophilus Opperdyke, dragged from his studies--foregathered in
the cozy room of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.; those who had heard the
coach's talk were still stunned at the ban likely to be placed on the
Brobdingnagian Thor. On the campus outside Creighton Hall, a horde of
Bannister youths, incited by Tug Cardiff, who gave them no reason for his
act, were making a strenuous effort to awaken the Prodigious Prodigy,
evidently depending on noise to achieve that end, for a vast sound-wave
rolled up to Hicks' windows--"Rah! Rah! Rah! Thor! Thor! Thor!
"Listen!" exploded T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., indignantly. "You and I,
Theophilus, would give a Rajah's ransom just to hear the fellows whoop it
up for us like that, and it has no more effect on that sodden hulk of a
Thor than bombarding an English super-dreadnaught with Roman candles!
Howsomever, Coach Corridan exploded a shrapnel bomb on old Bannister's
Then Hicks carefully outlined to the dazed little boner the substance of
the coach's talk to the team, and Theophilus was alarmed when he thought of
Thor's being dropped from the squad. When Captain Butch had outlined the
Slave-Driver's plot for striving to awaken the Colossus to a realization of
what a disgrace it would be to be sent from the gridiron, though he did not
announce that the Human Encyclopedia had been elected to carry out Coach
Corridan's last-hope idea, Theophilus sat on the edge of the chair,
blinking owlishly at them over his big-rimmed spectacles.
"After all, fellows," quavered Theophilus nervously, "Coach Corridan, if he
drops Thor from the squad, won't create such a riot on the campus as you
might expect. You see, the students, even as they built and planned on
Thor, gradually came to know that there is vastly more to be considered
than physical power. That great bulk actually acts as a drag on the eleven,
because Thor isn't in sympathy with things! Still, if he could only be
aroused, awakened, wouldn't the team play football, with him striving for
old Bannister, and not because he thinks he ought to play, for Hicks' dad?
Oh, I do hope the Coach's plan succeeds, and he awakens tomorrow; I
know the boys won't condemn him, if he doesn't, but--I--I want him to
"It's his last chance this season," reflected T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.,
enshrouded in a penumbra of gloom. "I made a big boast that I would round
up a smashing full-back. I returned to Bannister with the Prodigious
Prodigy. I made a big mystery of him, and then--biff!--Thor quit football.
Then I explained the mystery, and got the fellows to admire him, and when
Thor decided to play the game I thought 'All O.K.; I'll just wait until
he scatters Hamilton and Ballard over Bannister Field, then I'll swagger
before Butch and say, "Oh, I told you just to leave it to Hicks!"' But now
Thor has spilled the beans again."
"I--I hope that the one you have chosen to appeal to Thor--" spoke
Theophilus timorously, "will succeed, for--Oh, I don't want him to be
dropped from the squad, and--"
Big Butch Brewster, who had been gazing at little Theophilus Opperdyke with
a basilisk glare that perturbed the bewildered Human Encyclopedia, suddenly
strode across the room and placed his hand on the grind's thin shoulders.
"Theophilus, old man, it's up to you!" he said earnestly. "Thor has a
strong regard for you; in fact, outside of his good-natured tolerance
for Hicks, you alone have his friendship. Now I want you to go to him,
Theophilus, and make a last appeal to Thor. Try to awaken him, to make him
understand his peril of being dropped from the squad, unless he plays
the game for his college! It's for old Bannister, old man, for your Alma
"Go to it, Theophilus!" urged Beef McNaughton. "Coach Corridan said Thor
might be suddenly awakened by a shock, but no electric battery can shock
that Colossus, and, besides, miracles don't happen nowadays. Yes, it's up
to you, old man."
For a moment little Theophilus, his big-rimmed spectacles falling off
as fast as he replaced them, and his puny frame tense with excitement,
hesitated. Sitting on the extreme edge of the chair, he surveyed his
comrades solemnly and was convinced that they were in earnest. Then, "I--I
will try, sir!" exclaimed Theophilus, who would never forget his
Freshman training. "I'm sure Hicks, or somebody, could do It better than
I; but--I'll try!"
THEOPHILUS' MISSIONARY WORK
"College ties can ne'er be broken--
Loyal will remain each heart;
Though the last farewell be spoken--
And from Bannister we part!
"Bannister, Bannister, hail, all hail!
Echoes softly from each heart;
We'll be ever loyal to thee--
Till we from life shall part!"
Theophilus Opperdyke, the timorous, intensely studious Human Encyclopedia,
stood at the window of John Thorwald's study room. That behemoth, desiring
quiet, had moved his study-table and chair to a vacant room across the
second-floor corridor of Creighton, the Freshman dormitory, when the
Bannister youths cheered him, and he was still there, so that Theophilus,
on his mission, had finally located him by his low rumblings, as he
laboriously read out his Latin. The little Senior was gazing across the
brightly lighted Quadrangle. He could see into the rooms of the other
class dormitories, where the students studied, skylarked, rough-housed,
or conversed on innumerable topics; from a room in Nordyke, the abode of
care-free Juniors, a splendidly blended sextette sang songs of their
Alma Mater, and their rich voices drifted across the Quad. to Thor and
"Though thy halls we leave forever
Sadly from the campus turn;
Yet our love shall fail thee never
For old Bannister we'll yearn!
Bannister, Bannister, hail, all hail!"
Theophilus turned from the window, and looked despairingly at that young
Colossus, Thor. The behemoth Norwegian, oblivious to everything except the
geometry problem now causing him to sweat, rested his massive head on his
palms, elbows on the study-table, and was lost in the intricate labyrinth
of "Let the line ABC equal the line BVD." The frail chair creaked under his
ponderous bulk. On the table lay an unopened letter that had come in the
night's mail, for, tackling one problem, the bulldog Hercules never let go
his grip until he solved it, and nothing else, not even Theophilus, could
secure his attention. Hence the Human Encyclopedia, trembling at the
terrific importance of the mission entrusted to him, waited, thrilled by
the Juniors' songs, which failed to penetrate Thor's mind.
"Oh, what can I do?" breathed Theophilus, sitting down nervously on the
edge of a chair and peering owlishly over his big-rimmed spectacles at the
stolid John Thorwald. "I am sure that, in time, I can help Thor to--to know
campus life better; but--tomorrow is his last chance! He will be dropped
from the squad, unless--"
As Thor at last leaned back and gazed at his little comrade, just then, to
the tune of "My Old Kentucky Home," an augmented chorus drifted across the
"And we'll sing one song
For the college that we love--
For our dear old Bannister--good-by"
To the Bannister students there was something tremendously queer in the
friendship of Theophilus and Thor. That the huge Freshman, of all the
collegians, should have chosen the timorous little boner was most puzzling.
Yet, to T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., a keen reader of human nature, it was
clear; Thorwald thought of nothing but study, Theophilus was a grind,
though he possessed intense college spirit, hence Thor was naturally drawn
to the little Senior by the mutual bond of their interest in books, and
Theophilus, with his hero-worshiping soul, intensely admired the splendid
purpose of John Thorwald, toiling to gain knowledge, because of the promise
of his dying mother. The grind, who thought that next to T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., Thor was the "greatest ever," as Hicks phrased it, had been, doing
what that care-free collegian termed "missionary work," with the stolid,
unimaginative Prodigious Prodigy for some weeks. Thrilled with the thought
that he worked for his Alma Mater, he quietly strove to make Thorwald
glimpse the true meaning and purpose of college life and its broadness of
development. The loyal Theophilus lost no opportunity of impressing his
behemoth friend with the sacred traditions of the campus, or of explaining
why Thor was wrong in characterizing all else than study as foolishness and
waste of time.
"Thor," began Theophilus timidly yet determinedly, for he was serving old
Bannister now, "old man, do you feel that you are giving the fellows at
Bannister a square deal?"
John Thorwald, slowly tearing open the letter that had come that night,
and had lain, unnoticed, on the study-table while he wrestled with his
geometry, turned suddenly. The Human Encyclopedia's vast earnestness and
the strange query he had fired at Thor, surprised even that stolid mammoth.
"Why, what do you mean, Theophilus?" spoke Thor slowly. "A square deal?
Why, I owe them nothing! I sacrifice my time for them, leaving my studies
to go out and waste precious time foolishly on football. Why--"
"I mean this," Theophilus kept doggedly on, his earnest desire to stir Thor
conquering his natural timidity. "You were brought to old Bannister by
Hicks, who made a great mystery of you, so we knew nothing of you; but the
fellows all thought you were willing to play football. Then, after they
got enthused, and builded hopes of the championship on you, came
your quitting. Hicks defended you, Thor, and changed the boys' bitter
condemnation to vast admiration, by telling of your life, your father's
being a castaway, your mother's dying wish, your toil to get learning, and
your inability to grasp college life. Then from gratitude to Mr. Hicks you
started to play again--naturally, the students waxed enthusiastic, when you
ripped the 'Varsity to pieces, but now you may be dropped by the coach,
after tomorrow, because you don't play for old Bannister, and your
indifference kills the team's fighting spirit. You do not care if you are
dropped; it will give you more time to study, and relieve you of your
obligation, as you so quixotically view it, to play because Mr. Hicks will
be glad; but--think of the fellows.
"They, Thor, disappointed in you, their hopes of your bringing by your
massive body and huge strength the Championship to old Bannister shattered,
are still your friends--they of the eleven, I mean especially, for, as yet,
the rest do not know you may be dropped. And the fellows came beneath your
window tonight to cheer you; they will do so, Thor, even if you are dropped
and they know that you will not use that prodigious power for their Alma
Mater in the big games; they will stand by you, for they understand! Just
think, old man; haven't the fellows, despite your rude rebuffs, tried
to be your comrades? Haven't they helped you to get settled to work and
assisted you with your studies? Why, you have been a big boor, cold and
aloof, you have upset their hopes of you in football, and yet they have no
condemnation for you, naught but warm friendliness.
"You are not giving them or yourself a square deal, Thor! You won't even
try to understand campus life, to grasp its real purpose, to realize what
tradition is! The time will come, Thor, when you will see your mistake; you
will yearn for their good fellowship, you will learn that getting knowledge
is not all of college life. You will know that this 'silly foolishness' of
singing songs and giving the yell, of rooting for the eleven, of loyalty
and love for one's Alma Mater, is something worth while. And you may find
it out too late. Oh, if you could only understand that it isn't what you
take from old Bannister that makes a man of you, it is what you give to
your college--in athletics, in your studies, in every phase of campus life;
that in toiling and sacrificing for your Alma Mater you grow and develop,
and reap a rich reward!"
Could T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., Butch Brewster, and the Gold and Green eleven
have heard little Theophilus' fervent and eloquent appeal to John Thorwald,
they would have felt like giving three cheers for him. They loved this
pathetic little boner, who, because of his pitifully frail body, could
never fight for old Bannister on gridiron, diamond, or track, and they
tremendously admired him for working for his college and for the redemption
of Thor. Timorous and shrinking by nature, whenever his Alma Mater, or a
friend, needed him the Human Encyclopedia fought down his painful timidity
and came up to scratch nobly.
It was Theophilus whose clear logic had vastly aided T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., to originate The Big Brotherhood of Bannister, in 1919's Sophomore
year, and quell Roddy Perkins' Freshman Equal Rights campaign. In fact, it
had been the boner's suggestion that gave Hicks his needed inspiration.
And, a Junior, Theophilus had been elected business manager of the
Bannister Weekly, with Hicks as editor-in-chief as a colossal joke. The
entire burden of that almost defunct periodical had been thrust on those
two, and, thanks to the grind's intensely humorous "copy," the Weekly had
been revived and rebuilt. And Theophilus, in writing the humorous articles,
had been moved by a great ambition to do something for old Bannister.
"Look at me, Thor!" continued Theophilus Opperdyke, his puny body dwarfed
as he faced the colossal Prodigious Prodigy. "A poor, weak, helpless
nothing! I'd cheerfully sacrifice all the scholastic honor or glory I ever
won, or shall win, just to make a touchdown for the Gold and Green, just to
win a baseball game, or to break the tape in a race for old Bannister!
And you--you, with that tremendous body, that massive bulk, that vast
strength--you won't play the game for your Alma Mater, you won't throw
that big frame into the scrimmage, thrilled with a desire to win for your
college! Oh, what wonderful things you could do with your powerful build;
but it means nothing to you, while I-- Oh, you don't care, you just won't
awaken; and, unless you do, in tomorrow's game you'll be dropped from the
squad, a disgrace."
John Thorwald-Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy, that Gargantuan Freshman of
whom Bannister said he possessed no soul--stirred uneasily, shifted his
vast tonnage from one foot to the other, and stared at little Theophilus
Opperdyke. That solemn Senior, who had not seen the slightest effect his
"Missionary Work" was having on the stolid Thor, was in despair; but he did
not know the truth. As Hicks had once said, "You don't know nothing what
goes on in Thor's dome. There's a wall of solid concrete around the
machinery of his mind, and you can't see the wheels, belts, and cogs at
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., with all his keen insight into human nature, had
failed utterly to diagnose Thor's case, had not even stumbled on the true
cause of that young giant's aloofness. The truth was unknown to anyone,
but there was one natural reason for John Thorwald's not mingling with his
fellows of the campus-the blond Colossus was inordinately bashful! From his
fifteenth year, Thor had seen the seamy side of life, had lived, grown and
developed among men. In his wanderings in the Klondike, the wild Northwest,
in Panama, his experiences as cabin-boy, miner, cowboy, lumber-jack, and
Canal Zone worker, he had existed where everything was roughness and
violence, where brawn, not brain, usually held sway, where supremacy was
won, kept, and lost by fists, spiked boots, or guns! In his adventurous
career, young Thorwald had but seldom encountered the finer things of life,
and his nature, while wholesome, was sturdy and virile, not likely to be
stirred by sentiment; so that now, among the good-natured, friendly boys of
old Bannister, he, accustomed to rude surroundings and rough acquaintances,
And Theophilus, as well as T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., shot far wide of the
mark in believing that the big Hercules had no power to feel; he possessed
that power, but, with it the ability to conceal his feelings. They thought
nothing appealed to him, had stirred his soul, at college, but they were
wrong; true, Thor was unable to understand this new, strange life; he was
puzzled when the collegians condemned and ostracized him at first, when
he quit football because it was not a Faculty rule to play, but he was
grateful when Hicks defended him, and the admiration of the student-body
was welcome to him. He had thought he was doing all they desired of him,
when he went back to the game, and now--when Theophilus told him that he
might be dropped from the squad, he was bewildered. He could not understand
just why this could be, when he was reporting for scrimmage every day!
But the friendliness of the youths, their kind help with his studies,
the assistance of the genial Hicks, and, more than all, above even
the admiration of the Freshmen for his promise and purpose, the daily
missionary work of little Theophilus, for whom the massive Thor felt a real
love, had been slowly, insidiously undermining John Thorwald's reserve. No
longer did he condemn what he did not understand. At times he had a vague
feeling that all was not right, that, after all, he was missing something,
that study was not all; and yet, bashful as he was, fearing to appear
rough, crude, and uncouth among these skylarking youths, Thor kept on his
silent, lonely way, and they thought him untouched by their overtures. Of
late, when unobserved, the big Freshman had stood by the window, watching
the collegians on the campus, listening to their songs of old Bannister,
and yet because he felt embarrassed when with them, he gave no sign that he
Now, however, the splendid appeal of loyal, timorous Theophilus stirred
Thor, and yet he could not break down the wall of reserve he had builded
around himself. He had deluded himself that this comradeship was not for
him, that he could never mingle with these happy-go-lucky youths, that
he must plod straight ahead, and live to himself, because his past had
"You are a Freshman!" spoke Theophilus, unaware that forces were at work on
Thor, and making a last effort. "You stand on the very threshold of your
campus years; everything is before you. I am at the journey's end--very
nearly, for in June I graduate from old Bannister. I never had the chance
to fight for my Alma Mater on the athletic field, and you--Oh, think of
what you can do! About to leave the campus, I, and my class-mates, realize
how dear our college has become to us. If you could just know that
Bannister means something to you, even now, if you only felt it, you
could make your years mean great things to you. Thor, could you leave old
Bannister tomorrow without regret, without one sigh for the dear old place?
We, who soon shall leave it forever, fully understand Shakespeare, when in
a sonnet he wrote:
"This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong--
To love that well which thou must leave ere long!"
There was a silence, and then Thor slowly drew out a letter from its
envelope, scanning the scrawl across its pages. A few moments, while its
meaning seemed to seep into his slow-acting mind, and then a look of
helpless bewilderment, as though the stolid Freshman just could not
understand at all, came to his face; a minute John Thorwald stood, as in a
trance, staring dully at the letter.
"Thor! Thor! What's the matter? What's wrong?" quavered the alarmed
Theophilus, "Have you gotten bad news?"
"Read it, read it," said the big Freshman lifelessly, extending the letter
to the startled Senior. "It's all over, I suppose, and I've got to go to
work again. I've got to leave college, and toil once more, and save. My
promise to my mother can't be fulfilled--yet. And just as I was getting
Theophilus Opperdyke hurriedly perused the message, which had come to Thor
in that night's mail but which the blond giant had let lie unnoticed while
he tackled his geometry. With difficulty Theophilus deciphered the scrawl
on an official letterhead:
THE NEW YORK-CHRISTIANA STEAMSHIP LINE
(New York Offices)
Nov. 4, 19--.
I am writing to tell you that I've run into a sort of hurricane, and you
and I have got a hard blow to weather. I started you at college on the
$5,000 received from the heirs of Henry B. Kingsley, on whose yacht, as
you know, I was wrecked in the South Seas, and marooned for ten years. I
figured on giving you an education with that sum, eked out by my wages, and
what you earn in vacations.
I had the $5,000, untouched, in a New York bank, and I wanted to take it
over to Christiania; when I was about to sail on my last voyage, I drew out
the sum, and put it in care of the Purser of the Norwhal, on which I
was mate, intending, of course, to get it on docking, and deposit it in
Christiania. At the last hour I was transferred to the Valkyrie, to sail
a few days later, and I knew the Norwhal's purser would leave the $5,000
for me in the Company's Christiania offices, so I did not bother to
transfer it to the Valkyrie.
Perhaps you read in the newspapers that the Norwhal struck a floating
mine, and went down with a heavy loss of life. The Purser was among those
lost, and none of the ship's papers were saved; my $5,000, of course, went
I am sorry, John, but there seems nothing to do but for you to leave
college and work. For your mother's sake, I wish we could avoid it; but we
must wait and work and tackle it again. Your first term expenses are paid,
so stay until the term is out. Perhaps Mr. Hicks can give you a job in one
of his steel mills again, but we must work our own way, son. Don't lose
courage, we'll fight this out together with the memory of your promise to
your dying mother to spur you on. The road may be long and rocky but we'll
make it. Just work and save, and in a year or two you can start at college
again. You can study at night, too, and keep on learning.
I'll write later. Stay at college till the term is up, and in the meantime
try to land a job. However, you won't have any trouble to do that. Keep
your nerve, boy, for your mother's sake. It's a hard blow, but we'll
weather it, never fear, and reach port.
JOHN THORWALD, SR.
P.S. I am sailing on the Valkyrie today, will write you on my return to
New York, in a few weeks.
Theophilus looked at the massive young Norwegian, who had taken this
solar-plexus blow with that same stolid apathy that characterized his every
action. He wanted to offer sympathy, but he knew not how to reach Thor. He
fully understood how terrific the blow was, how it must stagger the
big, earnest Freshman, just as he, after ten years of grinding toil, of
sacrifice, of grim, unrelenting determination, had conquered obstacles and
fought to where he had a clear track ahead. Just as it seemed that fate had
given him a fair chance, with his father rescued and five thousand dollars
to give him a college course, this terrible misfortune had befallen him.
Theophilus realized what it must mean to this huge, silent Hercules, just
making good his promise to his dying mother, to give up his studies, and go
back to work, toil, labor, to begin all over again, to put off his college
"Leave me, please," said Thor dully, apparently as unmoved by the blow
as he had been by Theophilus' appeal. "I--I would like to be alone, for
Left alone, John Thorwald stood by the window, apparently not thinking of
anything in particular, as he gazed across the brightly lighted Quad. The
huge Freshman seemed in a daze--utterly unable to comprehend the disaster
that had befallen him; he was as stolid and impassive as ever, and
Theophilus might have thought that he did not care, even at having to give
up his college course, had not the Senior known better.
Across the Quadrangle, from the room of the Caruso-like Juniors,
accompanied by a melodious banjo-twanging, drifted:
"Though thy halls we leave forever
Sadly from the campus turn;
Yet our love shall fail thee never
For old Bannister we'll yearn!
"'Bannister, Bannister, hail, all hail!'
Echoes softly from each heart;
We'll be ever loyal to thee
Till we from life shall part."
Strangely enough, the behemoth Thorwald was not thinking so much of having
to give up his studies, of having to lay aside his books and take up again
the implements of toil. He was not pondering on the cruelty of fate in
making him abandon, at least temporarily, his goal; instead, his thoughts
turned, somehow, to his experiences at old Bannister, to the football
scrimmages, the noisy sessions in "Delmonico's Annex," the college
dining-hall, to the skylarking he had often watched in the dormitories. He
thought, too, of the happy, care-free youths, remembering Hicks, good Butch
Brewster, loyal little Theophilus; and as he reflected, he heard those
Juniors, over the way, singing. Just now they were chanting that
exquisitely beautiful Hawaiian melody, "Aloha Oe," or "Farewell to Thee,"
making the words tell of parting from their Alma Mater. There was something
in the refrain that seemed to break down Thor's wall of reserve, to melt
away his aloofness, and he caught himself listening eagerly as they sang.
Somehow he felt no desire to condemn those care-free youths, to call their
singing silly foolishness, to say they were wasting their time and their
fathers' money. Queer, but he actually liked to hear them sing, he realized
he had come to listen for their saengerfests. Now that he had to leave
college, for the first time he began to ponder on what he must leave. Not
alone books and study, but--
As he stood there, an ache in his throat, and an awful sorrow overwhelming
him, with the richly blended voices of the happy Juniors drifting across to
him, chanting a song of old Ballard, big Thor murmured softly:
"What did little Theophilus say? What was it Shakespeare wrote? Oh, I have
"'This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong--
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.'"
"There's a hole in the bottom of the sea,
And we'll put Bannister in that hole!
In that hole--in--that--hole--
Oh, we'll put Bannister in that hole!"
"In the famous words of the late Mike Murphy," said T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.,
"the celebrated Yale and Penn track trainer, 'you can beat a team that
can't be beat, but--you can't beat a team that won't be beat!' Latham must
be in the latter class."
It was the Bannister-Latham game, and the first half had just ended.
Captain Butch Brewster's followers had trailed dejectedly from Bannister
Field to the Gym, where Head Coach Corridan was flaying them with a tongue
as keen as the two-edged sword that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of
Eden. A cold, bleak November afternoon, a leaden sky lowered overhead, and
a chill wind swept athwart the field; in the concrete stands, the loyal
"rooters" of the Gold and Green, or of the Gold and Blue, shivered,
stamped, and swung their arms, waiting for the excitement of the scrimmage
again to warm them. Yet, the Bannister cohorts seemed silent and
discouraged, while the Latham supporters went wild, singing, cheering,
howling. A look at the score-board explained this:
END OF FIRST HALF: SCORE:
Bannister ........ 0
Latham ........... 3
The statement of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., swathed in a gold and green
blanket and humped on the Bannister bench, to shivering little Theophilus
Opperdyke, the Phillyloo Bird, Shad Weatherby, and several more collegians
who had joined him when the half ended, was singularly appropriate. In
Latham's light, fast eleven, trained to the minute, coached to a shifty,
tricky style of play with numberless deceptive fakes from which they worked
the forward pass successfully, Bannister seemed to have encountered, as
Mike Murphy phrased it, "A team that won't be beat!" According to the
advance dope of the sporting writers, who, in football, are usually as good
prophets as the Weather Bureau, Bannister was booked to come out the winner
by at least five touchdowns to none. But here a half was gone, and Latham
led by three points, scored on a rather lucky field-goal!
The psychology of football is inexplicable. Yale, beaten by Virginia,
Brown, and Wash-Jeff, with the Blue's best gridiron star ineligible to
play, a team that seemed at odds with itself and the 'Varsity, mismanaged,
poorly coached, journeys to Princeton to battle with old Nassau; the Tiger,
Its tail as yet untwisted, presents its best eleven for several seasons, a
great favorite in the odds, and yet the final score is Yale, 14; Princeton,
7! A strange fear of the Bulldog, bred of many bitter defeats, of similar
occasions when a feeble Yale team aroused itself and trampled an invincible
Orange and Black eleven, when the Blue fought old Nassau with a team that
"wouldn't" be beat, gave victory to the poorer aggregation. So many things
unforeseen often enter into a football contest, shifting the balance of
power from the stronger to the weaker team. One eleven gets the jump on the
other, the favorite weirdly goes to pieces--team dissension may exist, a
dozen other causes--but, boiled down, Mike Murphy's statement was most
Latham simply would not be beat! The sporting pages had said: "Latham
simply can't beat Bannister!" Here the team, that could not be beaten was
being defeated, and the team that would not be defeated was, so far, the
victor. Perhaps the threatened dropping of Thor from the Gold and Green
squad shook somewhat Captain Butch's players; more likely, the Latham
aggregation got the jump on Bannister, opening up a bewildering attack of
criss-crosses, line plunges, cross-bucks, and tandems, from all of which
the forward pass frequently developed; they literally overwhelmed a
supposedly unbeatable team. And once they got the edge, it was hard for
Bannister to regain poise and to smother the fast plays that swept through
or around the bewildered eleven.
"We have got to beat 'em!" growled Shad, "Mike Murphy or not. Why,
if little old Latham cleans us up, smash go our chances of the State
Championship! Oh, look at Thor--the big mountain of muscle. Why doesn't he
wake up, and go push that team off the field?"
Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy, his vast hulk unprotected from the cold wind
by a football blanket, squatted on the ground, on the side-line, apparently
in a trance. Ever since the night before, when his father's letter had
dealt such a knock-out blow to his hopes of fulfilling the promise to his
dying mother, had rudely side-tracked him from the climb to his goal, the
blond giant had maintained that dumb apathy. If anything, it seemed that
the cruel blow of fate had only served to make Thor more stolid and
impassive than ever, and Theophilus wondered if the Colossus had really
grasped the import of the tragic letter as yet. The news had spread over
the college and campus, and the students were sincerely sorry for Thor. But
to offer him sympathy was about as difficult as consoling a Polar bear with
Coach Corridan, carrying out his plot, had decided not to start Thor in
the first half of the game. So the Norwegian Hercules, having received no
orders to the contrary, however, donned togs and appeared on the side-line,
where he had sat, paying not the slightest heed to the scrimmage and
seemingly unaware that the Gold and Green was facing defeat and the loss of
the Championship, for a game lost would put the team out of the running.
All big John Thorwald knew was, in a few weeks he must leave old Bannister,
must give up, for a time, his college course. Just when the grim battle was
won, he must leave, to work. Not that the Viking cared about toil. It was
the delay that chafed even his stolid self. He was stunned at having to
wait, maybe two years, before starting again.
And yet, as he squatted on the side-line, oblivious to everything but his
bitter reflections, the Theophilus-quoted words of Shakespeare persisted in
intruding on his thoughts:
"This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong--
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long."
Try as he would, he could not fight away the keen realization that
books and study were not all he would regret to leave. He was forced to
acknowledge that his mind kept wandering to other things. He found himself
pondering on the parting with Theophilus Opperdyke, with that crazy Hicks;
he wondered if he, out in the world again, toiling his lonely way, would
miss the glad fellowship of these care-free youths that he had watched,
but never shared, if he would ever think of the weeks at old Bannister.
Somehow, he felt that he would often vision the Quad at night, brightly
lighted, dormitories' lights agleam, students crossing and recrossing,
shouting at studious comrades. He would hear again the melodious
banjo-twanging, the gleeful saengerfests, the happy skylarking of the boys.
He had never entered into all this, and yet he knew he would miss it all;
why, he would even miss the daily scrimmage on Bannister Field; the noisy
shower-room, with its clouds of steam, and white forms flitting ghostlike.
He would miss the classrooms; in brief, everything!
John Thorwald was awakening! Even had this blow not befallen him, the huge,
slow-minded Norwegian, in time, with Theophilus Opperdyke's missionary
work, would have gradually come to understand things better--at least, to
know he was wrong in his ideas, which is the beginning of wisdom. Already,
he had ceased to condemn all this as foolishness, to rail at the youths
for wasting time and money. Already something stirred within him, and yet,
stolid as he was, bashful among the collegians, he was apparently the same.
But the sudden shock Head Coach Corridan spoke of had come. His father's
letter telling of his loss and that Thor must leave Bannister had awakened
him to the startling knowledge that he did care for something more than
study, that all the things that had puzzled him, that he had sneered at,
meant something to his existence, that he dreaded leaving other things than
"I--I don't understand things," thought Thorwald. "But--if I could only
stay, I'd want to learn. I'd try to get this 'college' spirit! Oh, I've
been all wrong, but if I could only stay--"
As if in answer to his unspoken thought, the big Freshman beheld marching
toward him Theophilus Opperdyke, his spectacles off, and his face aglow,
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., evidently in the throes of emotional insanity; a
Senior whom he knew as Parson Palmetter; Registrar Worthington, and Doctor
Alford, the kindly, beloved Prexy of old Bannister. The last named placed
his hand on the puzzled behemoth's ponderous shoulder.
"Thorwald," he said kindly, "Hicks, Opperdyke and Brewster, last night,
came to my study and acquainted me with your misfortune. They told me of
your life-history, of your splendid purpose to gain knowledge, to make
something of yourself, for your dying mother's sake. Old Bannister needs
men like you, Thorwald. Perhaps you do not understand campus ways and
tradition yet, perhaps you are not in sympathy with everything here; but
once a love for your Alma Mater is awakened, you will be a power for good
for your college.
"Now I at once took up the matter with Mr. Palmetter, President of The
Students' Aid Bureau. This year, for the first time in our history, we have
dispensed with janitors and sweeps in the dormitories, and with dining-hall
waiters, so that needy and deserving students may work their way through
Bannister. Owing to the fact that Mr. Deane, a Senior, has given up his
dormitory, Creighton Hall, as he has funds for the year and needs the time
to study, we can offer you board and tuition, in exchange for your work in
the dormitory, and waiting on tables in the dining-hall. Since your first
term bills, until January first, are paid, if you will start to work at
once, we will credit any work done this term on books and incidentals for
next term. By this means--"
"Why, you don't--you can't mean--" rumbled Thor, who had just dimly
grasped the greatest point in Prexy's speech. "Why, then I won't have to
leave Bannister--I won't have to quit my studies! Oh, thank you, sir; thank
you! I will work so hard. I am not afraid of work; I love it--a chance to
toil and earn my education, that's what I want! Thank you!"
"And in addition," said the Registrar, "Mr. Palmetter reports that he can
secure you, downtown, a number of furnaces to tend this winter, which you
can do early in the morning and at night; this will bring you an income for
living expenses, and in the spring something else will offer itself. It
means every moment of your time will be crowded, but Bannister needs
Something stirred in John Thorwald. His heart had been touched at last. He
thought of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., Butch, and little Theophilus worried
at his having to leave college, going to Doctor Alford; of Prexy, the
Registrar, and Parson Palmetter, working to keep Thor at old Bannister.
He recalled how sympathetic all the youths had been, how they admired his
purpose and determination; and he had rewarded their friendliness with
cold aloofness. He felt a thrill as he visioned himself working for his
education, rising in the cold dawn, tending furnaces, working in the dorm.,
waiting on tables--studying. With what fierce joy he would assail his
tasks, glad that he could stay! He knew the students would rejoice, that
they would not look down on him; instead, they would respect and admire
him, toiling to grow and develop, to attain his goal!
"Go to it, Thor!" urged T. Haviland Hicks, Jr. "We all want you to stay,
old man; we'll give you a lift with your studies. Old Bannister wants
you, needs you, so stick!"
"Stay, please!" quavered little Theophilus. "You don't want to leave your
Alma Mater; stay, Thorwald, and--you'll understand things soon,"
"Report at the Registrar's office at seven tonight, Thorwald," said Prexy,
and then, because he understood boys and campus problems, "and to show your
gratitude, you might go out there and spank that team which is trying to
lick old Bannister."
John Thorwald, when Doctor Alford and the Registrar had gone, arose and
stood gazing across Bannister Field. He saw not the white-lined gridiron,
the gaunt goal-posts, the concrete stands filled with spectators, or the
gay banners and pennants. He saw the buildings and campus of old Bannister,
the stately old elms bordering the walks; he beheld the Gym., the four
dormitories--Bannister, Nordyke, Smithson, and Creighton--the white Chapel,
the ivy-covered Library, the Administration and Recitation Halls; he
glimpsed the Memorial Arch over the entrance driveway, and big Alumni Hall.
All at once, like an inundating wave, the great realization flashed on
Thor that he did not have to leave it all! Often again would he hear the
skylarking youths, the gay songs, the banjo-strumming; often would he see
the brightly lighted Quad., would gaze out on the campus! It was still
his--the work, the study, and, if he tried, even the glad comradeship of
the fellows, the bigger things of college life, which as yet he did not
The big slow-minded youth could not awaken, at once, to a full knowledge
and understanding of campus life and tradition, to a knowledge of college
spirit; but, thanks to the belief that he had to leave it all, he had
awakened to the startling fact that already he loved old Bannister. And
now, joyous that he could stay, John Thorwald suddenly felt a strong desire
to do something, not for himself, but for these splendid fellows who had
worried for his sake, had worked to keep him at college. And just then he
remembered the somewhat unclassical, yet well meant, words of dear old
Doctor Alford, "And to show your gratitude, you might go out there and
spank that team, which is trying to lick old Bannister."
John Thorwald for the first time looked at the score-board; he saw, in big
BANNISTER .......... 0
LATHAM ............. 3
From the Gym. the Gold and Green players--grim, determined, and yet worried
by the team that "won't be beat!"--were jogging, followed by Head Coach
Patrick Henry Corridan. The Latham eleven was on the field, the Gold and
Blue rooters rioted in the stands. From the Bannister cohorts came a
"Hold 'em, boys--hold 'em, boys--hold--hold--hold!
Don't let 'em beat the Green and the Gold!"
A sudden fury swayed the Prodigious Prodigy; it was his college, his
eleven, and those Blue and Gold youths were actually beating old Bannister!
The Bannister boys had admired him, some of them had helped him in his
studies, three had told Doctor Alford of him, had made it possible for him
to stay, to keep on toward his goal. They would be sorrow-stricken if
Latham won! A feeling of indignation came to Thor. How dare those fellows
think they could beat old Bannister! Why, he would go out there and show
them a few things!
Head Coach Corridan, let it be chronicled, was paralyzed when he ducked
under the side-line rope--stretched to hold the spectators back--to collide
with an immovable body, John Thorwald, and to behold an eager light on that
behemoth's stolid face. Grasping the Slave-Driver in a grip that hurt, Thor
"Mr. Corridan, let me play, please! Send me out this half. We can win.
We've got to win! I want to do something for old Bannister. Why, if we
lose today, we lose the Championship! I don't understand things yet, but I
do love the college. I want to fight for Bannister. Please let me play!"
The astonished coach and the equally dazed Gold and Green eleven, with the
bewildered collegians who heard Thor's earnest appeal, were silent a few
moments, unable to grasp the truth. Then Captain Brewster, his face aglow,
seized the big Freshman's arm excitedly.
"Sure you'll play, Thor!" he shouted. "Fullback, old man! Come on, team.
Thor's awake! He wants to fight for his Alma Mater; he wants Bannister to
win! Oh, watch us shove Latham off the field--everybody together now--the
yell, for Thor!"
"Right here," grinned an excitedly happy T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., when the
yell was given, "is where a team that won't be beat gets licked by a chap
what can lick 'em!"
What took place when the blond Prodigious Prodigy lumbered on Bannister
Field at the start of the last half of the Bannister-Latham game can be
imagined by the final score-board figures:
BANNISTER ......... 27
LATHAM ............. 3
It can best be described with the aid of Scoop Sawyer's account in the next
--At the start of the second half, however, the Latham cohorts were given
a shock when they beheld a colossal being almost as big as the entire Gold
and Blue eleven, go in at fullback for Bannister. And the Latham eleven
received a series of shocks when Thor began intruding that massive body
of his into their territory. Tennyson's saying, "The old order changeth,
yielding place to new" was aptly illustrated in the second half; for
Bannister's bugler quit sounding "Retreat!" and blew "Charge!" Four
touchdowns and three goals from touchdowns, in one half, is usually
considered a fair day's work for an entire team. Even Yale or Harvard; but
when one player corrals four touchdowns in a half--he is going some! Well,
Thor went some! Most of the half he furnished free transportation for
two-thirds of the Latham team, carrying them on his back, legs, and neck,
as he strode down the field; a writ of habeas corpus could not have stopped
the blond Colossus. Anyone would have stood more show to stop an Alpine
avalanche than to slow up Thor, and the stretcher was constantly in
evidence, for Latham knockouts.
[Illustration C: 'A writ of habeas corpus could not have stopped the blond
The game turned into a Thor's Personally Conducted Tour. Thorwald, escorted
by the Gold and Green team, made four quick tours to the Latham goal-line.
It was simply a matter of giving the ball to the Prodigious Prodigy, then
waving the linesmen to move down twenty yards or more toward Latham's line.
Thor was simply unstoppable, and more beneficial even than his phenomenal
playing was his encouragement to the team. He kept urging them to action,
his foghorn growl of, "Come on, boys!" was a slogan of victory! Judging by
Thor's awakening, and his work of the Latham game, Bannister's hopes of The
State Intercollegiate Football Championship are as roseate as the blush on
a maiden's cheek at her first kiss, and--
That night, in the cozy room of T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., John Thorwald,
supremely happy yet withal as uncomfortable as a whale on the Sahara
Desert, overflowed an easy-chair. The room was filled, or what space Thor
left, with the Bannister eleven, second-team players, Coach Corridan, and
several students; on the campus a riotous crowd of Bannister youths "raised
merry Heck," as Hicks phrased it, and their cheer floated up to the
"Rah! Rah! Rah! Thor! Thor! Thor! He's--all--right!"
"Come, fellows," spoke T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.
"Let's sing to the captain, good old Butch! Let 'er go!"
"Here's to good Butch Brewster! Drink it down!
Here's to good Butch Brewster! Drink It down!
Here's to good Butch Brewster--
He plays football like he uster--
Drink it down! Drink it down--down--down--down!"
A strange sound startled the joyous youths; it was a rumbling noise,
like distant thunder, and at first they could not place it. Then, as It
continued, they located the disturbance as coming from the prodigious body
of Thor, and at last the wonderful phenomenon dawned on them.
"Thor is singing college songs!" quavered little Theophilus Opperdyke,
so happy that his big-rimmed spectacles rode the end of his nose. "Oh,
Hicks--Butch--Thor is awake at last! He is trying to get college spirit, to
understand campus life--"
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., suddenly realized that what he had so ardently
longed for had come to pass; aided by Theophilus' missionary work and by
the sudden shock of Thorwald, Sr.'s, letter. Thor was awakened, had come to
know that he loved old Bannister. His awakening, as shown in the football
game, had been splendid. How he had towered over the scrimmage, in every
play, urging his team to fight, himself doing prodigies for old Bannister.
Thor, who had been so silent and aloof! Then the sunny-souled youth
"Oh, I told you I'd awaken Thor, Butch!" he began, but that behemoth
quelled him with an ominous look.
"You!" he growled, with pretended wrath, "you! It was Theophilus
Opperdyke who did the most of it, and Thorwald's father did the rest! Don't
you rob Theophilus of his glory, you feeble-imitation-of-some-thing-human!"
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., grinned a la Cheshire cat. The happy-go-lucky
Senior was vastly glad that Thor had awakened, that now he would try
to grasp the real meaning of college existence. He felt that the young
Hercules, from now on, would slowly and surely develop to a splendid
college man, that he would do big things for his Alma Mater. And the
generous Hicks gave Theophilus all the credit, and impressed on that
happy Human Encyclopedia the fact that he had done a great deed for old
Bannister. Just so, Thor was awakened.
"Oh, I say, Deke Radford, Coach, and Butch," Hicks chortled, getting the
attention of that triumvirate as well as that of the others in the room,
"remember up in Camp Bannister, in the sleep-shack, when Coach Corridan
outlined a smashing full-back he wanted?"
"Sure!" smiled Deke. "What of it, Hicks?"
Then T, Haviland Hicks, Jr., that care-free, lovable, irrepressible youth,
whose chance to swagger before this same trio had been postponed so long
and seemingly lost forever, satiated his fun-loving soul and reaped his
reward. Calling their attention to Thor, the Prodigious Prodigy, and asking
them to remember his playing against Latham that day, the sunny Senior
strutted before them vaingloriously.
"Oh, I told you just to leave it to Hicks!" he declared, grinning happily.
"I promised to round up an unstoppable fullback, a Gargantuan Hercules, and
I did! Just think of what he will do to Hamilton and Ballard in the big
games! As I have often told you, always--leave It to Hicks!"
"ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL"
"Oh, what we'll do to Ballard
Will surely be a shame!
We'll push their team clear off the field
And win the football game!"
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., one night three days after the first big game, that
with Hamilton, a week following Thor's great awakening in the Latham game,
sat in his cozy room, having assumed his favorite position--chair tilted
back at a perilous angle and feet thrust atop of the radiator. The
versatile youth, having just composed a song with which to encourage
Bannister elevens in the future, was reading it aloud, when his mind was
torpedoed by a most startling thought.
"Land o' Goshen!" reflected the sunny-souled Senior, aghast. "I haven't
twanged my ole banjo and held forth with a saengerfest for a coon's age! I
surely can do so now without arousing Butch to wrath. Thor has awakened,
Hamilton is walloped, and Bannister will surely win the Championship!
Everything is happy, an' de goose hangs high, so here goes!"
Holding his banjo a la troubadour, the blithesome Hicks, who as a Senior
was harassed by no study-hours or inspections, strode from his room and out
into the corridor, up and down which he majestically paced, like a sentinel
on his beat, twanging his beloved banjo with abandon, and roaring in his
foghorn, subterranean voice:
"Oh, the way we walloped Hamilton
Surely was a shame!
And we're going to win the Championship--
For we'll do Ballard the same!
"And Bannister shall flaunt the flag
For at least three seasons more;
Because--no team can win a game
While the Gold and Green has Thor!"
On Bannister Field, three days before, the Gold and Green had crushed the
strong team from "old Ham" to the tune of 20 to 0; Thor's magnificent
ground-gaining, in which he smashed through the supposedly impregnable
defense of the enemy, was a surprise to his comrades and a shock to
Hamilton. Time and again, on the fourth down, the ball was given to
Thorwald, and the blond Colossus, with several of old Ham's players
clinging to him, plunged ahead for big gains. So now with a monster
mass-meeting in half an hour, the exultant Bannister youths pretended to
study, but prepared to parade on the campus, cheer the eleven and Thor,
and arouse excitement for the winning of the biggest game, a victory over
Ballard, a week later.
From the rooms of would-be studious Seniors on both sides of the corridor,
as Hicks patrolled it, came vociferous protests and classic criticisms,
gathering in force and volume as the breezy youth's foghorn voice roared
his song; that heedless collegian grinned as he heard:
"R-r-rotten! Give that Jersey calf more rope!"
"Hicks has had a relapse! Sing-Sing for yours, old man!"
"Arrest Hicks, under the Public Nuisance Act!"
"Woof! Woof! Shoot it quick! Don't let it suffer!"
Just as T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., strumming the banjo blithely and Carusoing
with glee, reached the end of the corridor and executed a brisk 'bout-face,
he heard a terrific commotion on the stairway, and, a moment later, Butch
Brewster, Beef McNaughton, Deacon Radford and Monty Merriweather gained the
top of the stairs. As they were now between the offending Hicks and
his quarters, there seemed no chance for the sunny Senior to play his
safety-first policy; so he waited, panic-stricken, as Butch and Beef
lumbered heavily down the corridor.
"Help! Aid! Succor! Relief! Assistance!" shrieked Hicks, leaning his
beloved banjo against the wall and throwing himself into what he
fatuously believed was an intensely pugilistic pose. "I am a believer in
preparedness. You have me cornered, so beware! I am a follower of Henry
Ford, but even I will fight--at bay!"
"Well, you are at sea now!" growled Beef, tucking the splinter youth
under one arm and striding down the corridor, followed by Butch with the
banjo, and Monty with Deacon. "You desperado, you destroyer of peace and
quietude, you one-cylinder gadabout! You're off again! We'll instruct you
to annoy real students, you faint shadow of something human!"
"Them's harsh sentences, Beef!" chuckled T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., as that
behemoth kicked open Hicks' door, bore the futilely squirming, kicking
youth into the room, and hurled him on the davenport. "Watch my banjo,
there, Butch; have a couple of cares! Say, what'smatter wid youse guys,
anyhow? This is my first saengerfest for eons. Old Bannister has a clear
track ahead at last, the Championship is won for sure, and Thor, that
mighty engine of destruction to Ham's and Ballard's hopes, after much
tinkering, is hitting on all twelve cylinders. Why, I prithee, deny me the
pleasure of a little joyous song?"
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., since the memorable Latham game, when Thor had
awakened between halves, and the Prodigious Prodigy had shown himself
worthy of his title by winning the game after defeat leered at old
Bannister, had suffered a relapse, and was again his old sunny, heedless,
happy-go-lucky self. Now that John Thorwald had been startled into
realizing that he loved his college and had been saved from having to
leave, now that he played football for his Alma Mater, and Bannister's
hopes of the Championship were roseate, the blithesome Hicks had abandoned
himself to a golden existence of Beefsteak Busts downtown at Jerry's,
entertaining jolly comrades in his cozy room, and pestering the campus with
his banjo and ridiculous imitations of Sheerluck Holmes, the Dachshund
Detective. Big Butch Brewster, lecturing him for his care-free ways, as
futilely as he had done for three years past, gave up in despair.
"I might as well be showing moving-pictures to the inmates of a blind
asylum," he growled on one occasion, "as to persuade you to quit acting
like a lunatic! You, a Senior--acting like an escaped inhabitant of
Big Butch Brewster, drawing a chair up to the davenport, assumed the manner
of a physician toward a recalcitrant patient, while Beef carefully stowed
the banjo in the closet and Deacon Radford, an interested spectator, sat
on the bed. The happy-go-lucky Hicks, at a loss to account for the strange
expressions of his comrades, tried to arise, but the football captain
pinned him down with one hand.
"Seriously, Hicks," spoke Butch, "your saengerfest came at a lamentably
inopportune time! I regret to Inform you that old Bannister faces another
problem, with regard to Thor, and unless it is solved, I fear--"
"Thor has balked again?" gasped the dazed Hicks, whom Butch now allowed to
sit up, as he showed interest. "Has the engine of destruction stalled?
Why, as fast as we get him lined up, off he slides at an angle! Well, you
fellows did perfectly right to bring this baffling problem, whatever it is,
to me. What is the trouble--won't Thor play football?"
The irrepressible Hicks was bewildered at hearing that a new problem
regarding Thor had arisen, and, naturally, he at once connected it with
football, since the big Freshman had twice balked in that respect. Since
his awakening, effected by Theophilus' missionary work, his last appeal,
and Thor's letter from his father, Thor had earnestly striven to grasp the
true meaning of college life, to understand campus tradition. No longer did
he hold aloof, boning always, in his lonely room. Instead, he mingled with
his fellows, lingering with the team for the skylarking in the shower-room
after scrimmage, turning out for the nightly mass-meeting. Often, as the
youths practiced songs and yells on the campus, Thor's terrific rumble was
heard--some had even dared to slap his massive back and say, "Hello, Thor,
old man!" and the big Freshman had responded. It was evident to all that
Thorwald was striving to become a collegian, and knowing his slow, bulldog
nature, there was no doubt as to his ultimate success; hence T. Haviland
Hicks, Jr., was vastly puzzled now.
"Oh, Thor hasn't backslid!" smiled Beef. "You see, Hicks, it's this way:
Owing to Mr. Thorwald's losing the five thousand dollars, Thor, as you
know, is working his way at Bannister. Well, with his hustling, his studies
and football scrimmage, he simply does not have a minute for the other
phases of college life, for the comradeship with his fellows--"
"Here is his day's schedule," chimed in Deacon, referring to a paper: "Rise
at four-thirty A. M. Hustle downtown to tend several furnaces until seven.
Breakfast at seven. Till nine, make beds and sweep dormitory rooms.
Nine till three-fifteen P. M., recitation periods and dormitory work,
sandwiched. Then until supper, football practice, and nights study. Add
to that waiting on tables for the three meals, and what time has Thor to
broaden and develop, to take in all the big things of campus existence, to
grow into an all-round college man?"
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., wonderful to chronicle, was silent. He was
reflecting on the irony of fate; as Deacon said, now that Thor had
awakened, and earnestly wanted to be a collegian, he had no time to enter
into campus life. Glad at being able to stay at old Bannister, to keep on
with his studies, climbing steadily toward his goal, and finding a joy in
his new relationship with the students, the ponderous Thorwald had flung
himself into his hustling, as the youths called working one's way at
college, with zeal. To the huge Freshman, toil was nothing, and since it
meant that he could keep on with his study, he was content. The collegians
vastly admired his grim determination; they aided all they could with
his studies, and helped with his work, so he could have more time for
scrimmage, and yet another phase of the problem came to Hicks.
It seemed unjust that John Thorwald, after his long years of hard physical
toil, and his mental struggles, often after hours of grinding work, at the
very time when the five thousand dollars from Henry B. Kingsley's heirs
promised him a chance to study without a body tortured and exhausted,
should be forced again to take up his stern fight for knowledge. And it
was cruel that Thor, just awakening to the true meaning of college life,
striving to grasp campus tradition, and eager to serve his Alma Mater in
every way, should have so little time to mingle with his fellows. He should
be with them on the campus, on the athletic field, in the dorms., the
literary society halls, the Y. M. C. A. He should be realizing the golden
years of college life, the glad comradeship of the campus. Instead, he must
arise in the bitter cold, gray dawn, and from then until late night toil
and study unceasingly.
"It's a howling shame!" declared the serious Hicks, a heart full of
sympathy for Thor. "Just as he wakes up and is trying to understand things
at old Bannister, bang! the Norwhal is blown up by a stray mine, and
down goes his dad's money. Why didn't Mr. Thorwald get the five thousand
transferred to the Valkyrie? Oh, if that money hadn't gone down to Davy
Jones' locker, Thor would be awakened and have time for college life, too!"
Butch Brewster started to speak when the thunderous tread of John Thorwald
sounded in the corridor. The Prodigious Prodigy seemed approaching at
double-quick time, and the youths stared at each other. However, when
Thor appeared in the doorway, a letter in hand, they gazed at him in
bewilderment, for his face fairly glowed.
"Read it, fellows, read it!" he breathed, with what, for him, was almost
excitement. "It just came! Oh, isn't that good news? Read it out, Captain
Butch. Won't we wallop Ballard now!"
Big Butch Brewster, mystified by Thor's happiness, and urged on by his
equally puzzled comrades, drew out the letter, and a glad smile coming to
his honest countenance, he read aloud:
"THE NEW YORK-CHRISTIANIA. STEAMSHIP LINE (New York Office)
"Nov. 18, 19--.
"MR. JOHN THORWALD, JR., Bannister College.
"We beg to state that your father, first mate on our liner, the Valkyrie,
three days outbound from New York to Christiania, sent a message, via
wireless, to our New York offices by the inbound Dutch Line's Rotterdam.
The Rotterdam relayed the message to us, and we forward it herewith,
"'DEAR SON: Purser of my ship, the Valkyrie, informed me today that the
purser of the ill-fated Norwhal, learning of my transfer to this liner,
transferred my $5,000 to the Valkyrie before he sailed to his fate. I am
sending this via the Rotterdam, inbound, and our office will forward it
to you. Will write on arriving at Christiania. Father.'
"We are sorry for the delay in forwarding this message, but through an
accident, it was mislaid in our office for a few days.
"THE NEW YORK-CHRISTIANIA STEAMSHIP LINE,
"per J. L. G."
A moment of silence; outside on the campus the Bannister youths, preparing
for the mass-meeting in the Auditorium, started cheering. Someone caught
sight of Thor, standing now by the window of Hicks' room, on the third
floor of Bannister Hall, and a few seconds later there sounded:
"Thor! Thor! Thor! Thor will bring the Championship to old Bannister! Rah!
"Oh," shouted T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., grinning happily, his arm across
Thor's massive shoulders, "'All's well that ends well,' as Bill Shakespeare
says. It's all right now, Thor. Fate dealt you a hard punch, but it served
its purpose; for it made you realize how you would regret to leave college.
Now you won't have to hustle and have all your time filled with toil and
study; you can go after every phase of campus life, and serve old Bannister
in so many ways."
John Thorwald stood, a contented look on his placid, impassive face,
gazing down at the campus below and hearing the plaudits of the excited
collegians. The stately old elms, gaunt and bare, tossed their limbs
against a leaden sky; a cold, dreary wind sent clouds of dry leaves
scurrying down the concrete walks. In the faint moonlight that struggled
through the clouds, the towers and spires of old Bannister were limned
against the sky-line. Across the campus, on Bannister Field, the
goal-posts, skeleton-like, kept their lonely vigil. On that field, in
less than a week, the Gold and Green must face the crucial test--against
Ballard's championship eleven, in the Biggest Game; and now, almost on the
eve of battle, the shackles had been knocked from him; he was free of the
great burden, free to serve his Alma Mater, to fight for the Gold and
Green, to grow and develop into an all-round, representative college man.
All of a sudden it dawned on the slow-thinking young Norwegian just how
much this freedom to grow and expand meant to him, and he turned from the
window. From below, the shouts of "Thor! Thor! Thor!" drifted, stirring his
blood, as he looked at Hicks, Butch, Beef, Monty and Deacon.
"'All's well that ends well,' you say. Hicks," he spoke slowly, his face
joyous. "That's true; but I'm just starting, fellows. I'm just beginning
to live my college years, not for myself, but for old Bannister, for my
Alma Mater, for I am awake, and free!"
THEOPHILUS BETRAYS HICKS
Big Butch Brewster, a life-sized picture of despair, roosted dejectedly on
the Senior Fence, between the Gym and the Administration Building. It was
quite cold, and also the beginning of the last study-period before Butch's
final and most difficult recitation of the day, Chemistry. Yet instead
of boning in his warm room, the behemoth Senior perched on the fence and
stared gloomily into space.
As he sat, enveloped in a penumbra of gloom, the campus entrance door of
Bannister Hall, the Senior dorm., opened suddenly, and T. Haviland Hicks,
Jr., that happy-go-lucky youth, came out cautiously, after the fashion of a
second-story artist, emerging from his crib with a bundle of swag, the
last item being represented by a football tucked under Hicks' left arm.
Beholding Butch Brewster on the Senior Fence, the sunny-souled Senior
exhibited a perturbation of spirit seeming undecided whether to beat a
retreat or to advance.
"Now what's ailin' you?" demanded Butch wrathily, believing the
pestersome Hicks to be acting in that burglarious manner for effect. "Why
should you sneak out of a dorm., bearing a football like it was an auk's
egg? Why, you resemble a nigger, making his get-away after robbing a
hen-roost! Don't torment me, you accident-somewhere-on-its-way-to-happen. I
feel about as joyous as a traveling salesman who has made a town and gotten
nary a order!"
"It's awful!" soliloquized T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., perching beside the
despondent Butch on the Senior Fence. "I am not a fatalist, old man, but
it does seem that fate hasn't destined Thor to play football for old
Bannister this season! Here, after he won the Ham game, and we expected him
to waltz off with Ballard's scalp and the Championship, he has to tumble
downstairs! Oh, it's tough luck!"
It was two days before the biggest game, with Ballard--the contest that
would decide the State Intercollegiate Football Championship. Ballard, the
present champions, discounting even Hamilton's stories of Thor's prowess,
were coming to Bannister with an eleven more mighty than the one that had
crushed the Gold and Green the year before, with a heavy, stonewall line,
fast ends, and a powerful, shifty backfield. The Ballard team was confident
of victory and the pennant. Bannister, building on the awakened Thorwald,
superbly sure of his phenomenal strength and power, of his unstoppable
rushes, serenely practiced the doctrine of preparedness, and awaited the
And then John Thorwald, the Prodigious Prodigy, whose gigantic frame seemed
unbattered by the terrific daily scrimmage, whom it was impossible to
hurt on the gridiron, the day before, going downstairs in Creighton Hall,
hurrying to a class, had caught his heel on the top step, and crashed to
the bottom! And now, with a broken ankle, the blond Colossus, heartbroken
at not being able to win the Championship for old Bannister, hobbled about
on crutches. Without Thor, the Gold and Green must meet the invincible
Ballard team! It was a solar-plexus blow, both to the Bannister youths,
confident in Thor's prowess, building on his Herculean bulk, and to the
big Freshman. Thorwald, awakened, striving to grasp campus tradition, to
understand college life, was eager to fling himself into the scrimmage, to
give every ounce of his mighty power, to offer that splendid body, for his
Alma Mater, and now he must hobble impotently on the side-line, watching
his team fight a desperate battle.
"If Bannister only had a sure, accurate drop-kicker!" reflected Captain
Butch hopelessly. "One who could be depended on to average eight out of ten
trials, we'd have a fighting chance with Ballard. Deke Radford is a wonder.
He can kick a forty-five-yard goal, but he's erratic! He might boot the
pigskin over when a score is needed from the forty-yard line, and again he
might miss from the twenty-yard mark. Oh, for a kicker who isn't brilliant
and spectacular, but who can methodically drop 'em over from, say, the
thirty-five-yard line! Hello, what's the row, Hicks?"
T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., started to speak, changed his mind, coughed, grew
red and embarrassed, and acted in a most puzzling manner. At any other
time, big Butch would have been bewildered; but with Thor's loss weighing
on his mind, the Gold and Green captain gave his comrade only a cursory
"I--I--Oh, nothing, Butch!" stammered Hicks, to whom, being "fussed," as
Bannister termed embarrassment, was almost unknown. "I--I guess I'll
take this football over to my locker in the Gym. I ought to glance at my
Chemistry, too. So-long, Butch; see you later, old top!"
When the splinter-youth had drifted into the Gym., Butch Brewster,
remembering his strange actions, actually managed to transfer his thoughts
for a time from the eleven to the care-free T. Haviland Hicks, Jr. The
behemoth Senior reflected that, to date, the pestiferous Hicks had not
explained his baffling mystery he recalled the day when he had told the
Gold and Green eleven of the loyal Hicks' ambition to please his dad by
winning his B, when he had described the youth's intense college spirit
and had suggested that if Hicks failed to corral his letter the Athletic
Association award him one for his loyalty to old Bannister. And Butch saw
again the bewildering sentences in the letter from Thomas Haviland Hicks,
Sr., to his son.
"Evidently," meditated Butch, literally and figuratively "on the fence,"
"Hicks has failed to summon up enough self-confidence to explain his
mystery; queer, too, for he usually is bubbling with faith in himself. He
has acted like a bashful schoolgirl at frequent times--he starts to tell
me something, then he gets embarrassed, back-fires, and stalls. He and
Theophilus have been sneaking out in the early dawn, too. Wow! What did he
sneak out of the dorm. that way, with a football, for? He looked like a
yeggman working night shift. Why should he skulk out with a football? He
has never explained his dad's letter, or told just what Mr. Hicks meant by
calling him the "Class Kid" of Yale, '96, and saying those members of old
Eli wanted him to star! Oh, he's a tantalizing wretch, and I'd like to
solve his mystery, without his knowledge, so I could--"
At that instant, to the intense indignation and bewilderment of good Butch
Brewster, little Theophilus Opperdyke, the timorous Human Encyclopedia of
old Bannister, exited from Bannister Hall. The Senior boner gave a correct
imitation of the offending Hicks, in that he skulked out, gazing around
him nervously; but he portaged no pigskin, and, unlike the sunny youth, on
periscoping Butch, he seemed relieved.
"Theophilus, come here!" thundered the wrathful football captain,
shifting his tonnage on the Senior Fence. "What's the plot, anyhow? It's
bad enough when T. Haviland Hicks, Jr., sneaks out, bearing a football,
like an amateur cracksman making a getaway; but when you appear, imitating
a Nihilist about to hurl a bomb--say, what's the answer to the puzzle, old
Little Theophilus, his pathetically frail body trembling with suppressed
excitement, his big-rimmed spectacles tumbling off with ridiculous
regularity, and his solemn eyes peering owlishly at his behemoth classmate,
stood before the startled Butch. It was evident that the 1919 grind
labored under great stress. He was waging a terrific battle with himself,
struggling to make some vast and all-important decision. He strove to
speak, hesitated, choked, coughed apologetically, and acted as fussed as
Hicks had done, until Butch was wild; then, as if resolved to cast the die
and cross the Rubicon, he decided, and plunged desperately ahead.
"It's--it's Hicks, Butch!" he quavered, torn cruelly by conflicting
emotions. "Oh, I don't want to be a traitor--he trusted me with his secret,
and I--I can't betray him, I just can't! But he didn't make me promise not
to tell. He just told me not to. Oh, it's his very last chance, Butch, and
with Thor hurt, old Bannister might need him in the Ballard game."
"What is it, Theophilus, old man?" Butch spoke kindly, for he saw the
solemn little Senior was intensely excited. "Tell me--if our Alma Mater
needs any fellow's services, you know, he should give them freely--since