Part 3 out of 3
Now he was indeed willing to run without any more coaxing than the
bitter air upon his wet skin. His only hope of getting warm was in
his heels. And he ran like a maniac till Tug and the rest must put on
extra force also, or leave him completely.
Almost before they knew it, now, they were on the outskirts of
Kingston village. Their arrival at the beginning of the home stretch
was signaled in a very startling manner; for Tug, who had regained the
lead, saw ahead of him a bright, shining strip that looked for all the
world like a little frozen stream under the moonlight. He did not care
to risk stepping on any more thin ice, so he gave the quick command:
And he jumped, followed almost immediately by his devoted attendants.
The next thing they all knew, they were in half-frozen mud up to
their knees. The bright patch they had supposed to be a brook was a
And they had carefully jumped over the sidewalk into the mire beyond!
Tug was disgusted but not disheartened, and he had his crew under way
again instantly. He kept up his system of short cuts even now that
they were in town. He led them over back fences, through orchards and
kitchen-gardens, scattering a noisy flock of low-roosting hens in one
place, and stirring up a half-dozen more dogs in another.
The true home stretch was a long downhill run straight to the goal.
By the time they reached this MacManus was once more in bad shape, and
going very unsteadily.
As they cleared the brow of the hill, Tug's anxious heart was pierced
with the fear that he had lost the long, racking race, after all; for,
just crossing the stake at the finish, he caught a sight of Orton.
The rest of the team saw the same disheartening spectacle. And
MacManus, eager for any excuse to stop running, gasped:
"They've beaten us. There's no use running any farther."
But Tug, having Lakerim ideals in mind, would never say die. He
squandered just breath enough to exclaim:
"We're not beaten till the last man crosses the line!" And he added:
"Stage, run for your life."
And Stage ran. Oh, but it was fine to see that lad run! He fled
forward like a stag with the hounds in full cry after him. He wasted
not an ounce of energy, but ran cleanly and straightly and splendidly.
He had the high-stepping knee-action of a thoroughbred trotter, and
his running was as beautiful as it was swift.
"Run, all of you, for your lives!" cried Tug; and at that the
weary little band sprang forward with a new lease on strength and
determination. Tug had no ambition, like Orton, to leave his men to
find their own way. Rather, he herded them up and urged them on, as a
Scotch collie drives home the sheep at a canter.
Orton's runners were "tailed out" for more than half a mile behind
him. He himself was easily the first man home; but Stage beat his
second man in, and Bloss was a good third. Orton ran back frantically,
now, to coax his last three men. He hurried in his third runner at a
fairly good gait, but before he could get him to the line, Tug had
brought forward his last three men, Sawed-Off well up, MacManus going
doggedly and leaning mentally, if not physically, on Tug, who ran at
By thus hurling in three men at once, Tug made an enormous inroad upon
the score of the single-man Brownsvillers. Besides, though Orton got
his next-to-the-last man in soon after Tug, the last Brownsviller did
not come along for a minute afterward. He had been left to make his
way along unaided and unguided, and he hardly deserved the laughter
that greeted him as he came over the line.
Thus Orton, too ambitious, had brought his team in with this score: 1,
3, 8, 9, 10--total, 31; while Tug's men, well bunched at the finish,
came in with this score: 2,4, 5, 6, 7-total, 24.
Tug richly deserved the cheers and enthusiasm that greeted his
management; for, in spite of a team of individual inferiority to
the crack Brownsvillers; he had won by strict discipline and clever
The victorious outcome of the cross-country run, as well as many other
victories and defeats, had pretty well instilled it in the Lakerim
minds that team-play is an all-important factor of success. But the
time came when there was no opportunity to use the hard-learned,
easily forgot lesson of team-work, and it was each man for himself,
and all for Lakerim and Kingston.
When the ground was soggy and mushy with the first footsteps of
spring, and it was not yet possible to practise to any extent out of
doors, the Kingston Athletic Association received from the athletic
association of the Troy Latin School a letter that was a curious
combination of blood-warming hospitality and blood-curdling challenge.
The Latin School, in other words, opened its heart and its gymnasium,
and warmly invited the Kingston athletes to come over and be eaten up
in a grand indoor carnival. Troy was not so far away that only a small
delegation could go. Almost every one from Kingston, particularly
those athletically inclined, took the train to Troy.
Most surprising of all it was to see the diminutive and bespectacled
History proudly joining the ranks of the strong ones. He was going to
Troy to display his microscopical muscles in that most wearing and
violent of all exercises--chess.
The Tri-State Interscholastic League, which encouraged the practice
of all imaginable digressions from school-books, had arranged for
a series of chess games between teams selected from the different
academies. The winners of these preliminary heats, if one can use so
calm a word for so exciting a game, were to meet at Troy and play for
the championship of the League.
If I should describe the hair-raising excitement of that chess
tournament, I am afraid that this book would be put down as entirely
too lively for young readers. So I will simply say once for all that,
owing to History's ability to look wiser than any one could possibly
be, and to spend so much time thinking of each move that his
deliberation affected his opponents' nerves, and owing to the fact
that he could so thoroughly map out future moves on the inside of his
large skull, and that there was something awe-inspiring about
his general look of being a wizard in boys' clothes, he won the
tournament--almost more by his looks than by his skill as a tactician.
The whole Academy, and especially the Lakerimmers, overwhelmed this
second Paul Morphy with congratulations, and felt proud of him; but
when he attempted to explain how he had won his magnificent battle,
and started off with such words as these: "You will observe that I
used the Zukertort opening"; and when he began to tell of his moves
from VX to QZ, or some such place, even his best friends took to tall
The Kingston visitors found that the Troy Latin School was in
possession of a finer and much larger gymnasium than their own. But,
much as they envied their luckier neighbors, they determined that they
would prove that fine feathers do not make fine birds, nor a fine
gymnasium fine athletes. A large crowd had gathered, and was put in a
good humor with a beautiful exhibition of team-work by the Troy men
on the triple and horizontal bars and the double trapeze. The Trojans
also gave a kaleidoscopic exhibition of tumbling and pyramid-building,
none of which sports had been practised much by the Kingstonians.
After this the regular athletic contests of the evening began.
In almost every event at least one of the Lakerim men represented
Kingston. Some of the Dozen made a poor showing; but the majority,
owing to their long devotion to the theory and the practice of
athletics, stood out strongly, and were recognized by the strange
audience, in their Lakerim sweaters, as distinguished heroes of the
The first event was a contest in horse-vaulting, in which no Lakerim
men were entered. Kingston suffered a defeat.
"Ill begun is half done up," sighed Jumbo.
But in the next event the old reliable Tug was entered, among others;
and in the Rope-Climb he ran up the cord like a monkey on a stick, and
touched the tambourine that hung twenty-five feet in the air before
any of his rivals reached their goal, and in better form than any of
The third event was the Standing High Jump; and B.J. and the other
Kingstonians were badly outclassed here. Their efforts to clear the
bar compared with that of the Trojans as the soaring of an elephant
compares with the flight of a butterfly.
Punk was the only Lakerimmer on the team that attempted to win glory
on the flying-rings, but he and his brother Kingstonians suffered a
like humiliation with the standing high-jumpers.
The clerk of the course and the referees were now seen to be running
hither and yon in great excitement. A long delay and much putting of
heads together ensued, to the great mystification of the audience. At
length, just as a number of small boys in the gallery had begun to
stamp their feet in military time and whistle their indignation, the
official announcer officially announced that there had been a slight
hitch in the proceedings.
"I have to explain," he yelled in his gentlest manner, "that two of
the boxers have failed to turn up. Both have excellent excuses and
doctors' certificates to account for their absence, but we have
unfortunately to confess that the Kingston heavy-weight and the Troy
feather-weight are incapacitated for the present. The feather-weight
from Kingston, however, is a good enough sport to express a
willingness to box, for points, with the heavy-weight from Troy. While
this match will look a little unusual owing to the difference in size
of the two opponents, it will be scientific enough, we have no doubt,
to make it interesting as well as picturesque."
As usual, the audience, not knowing what else to say, applauded very
And now the heavy-weight from Troy, one Jaynes, appeared upon the
scene with his second. There was no roped-off space, but only an
imaginary "ring," which was, as usual, a square--of about twenty-four
feet each way.
Jaynes was just barely qualified as a heavy-weight, being only a
trifle over one hundred and fifty-eight pounds. But he overshadowed
little Bobbles as the giants overshadowed Jack the Giant-killer.
Bobbles, while he was diminutive compared with Jaynes, was yet rather
tall and wiry for his light weight, and had an unusually long reach
for one of his size. He regretted now the great pains he had taken to
train down to feather-weight weight. For when he had stepped on the
scales in the gymnasium, the day before he had started for Troy, he
found that he was three pounds over the necessary hundred and fifteen.
So he had put on three sweaters, two pairs of trousers, and his
football knickers, and run around the track for fully four miles,
until he was in doubt as to whether he was a liquid or a solid body.
Then he had fallen into a hot bath, and jumped from that into a cold
shower, and had then been rubbed down by some of his faithful Lakerim
friends with a pail of rock-salt to harden his muscles. At Troy, too,
he had continued these tactics, and found, to his delight, when he
weighed in, that he just tipped the scales at one hundred and fifteen.
And now he was matched to fight with a heavy-weight, and every pound
he had sweat off would have been an advantage to him! Yet, at any
rate, it was not a fight to a finish, but only for points, and he
counted upon his agility to save him from the rushes and the major
tactics of the larger man.
In order to make the scoring of points more vivid and visible to the
audience, it was decided, after some hesitation, that the gloves
should be coated with shoe-blacking.
Bobbles realized that his salvation lay in quick attack and the
seizure of every possible opportunity, as well as in his ability to
escape the onslaughts of the heavy-weight. He did not purpose turning
it into a sprinting-match, but he felt that he was justified in making
as much use of the art of evasion as possible.
He began the series by what was almost sharp practice, but was
justified by the rules.
The referee sang out:
"Gentlemen, shake hands."
Then the long and the short of it quickly clasped boxing-gloves in the
middle of the ring.
"Time!" cried the referee.
[Illustration: THE BOXING MATCH.]
Immediately on the break-away, before Jaynes had got his hands into
position, Bobbles had landed on him with a fine left upper cut that
put a black mark on Jaynes' jaw. Jaynes looked surprised, and the
audience laughed. Bobbles also laughed, for he knew he would have few
chances to place black spots on the upper works of the tall Jaynes,
and that he must make his scores mainly upon the zone just above
Jaynes was as much angered as surprised at receiving the first blow,
and sailed in with a vengeance to pepper Bobbles; but he began to
think that he was boxing with a grasshopper before long, for, wherever
he struck, there Bobbles was not. In fact, most of his straight-arm
blows were not only dodged by Bobbles with the smallest necessary
effort, but were effectively countered.
Bobbles proved himself an adept at that best of boxing tactics,
the ability to dodge. He rarely moved more than would take him
sufficiently out of harm's way. A little bending of the head from one
side to the other, a quick side-step or an adroit duck, saved him from
being the bull's-eye of most of Jaynes' attacks.
There were to be three rounds of three minutes each, with one minute's
intermission between rounds. The first round was over before either
of the men was much more than well warmed up to the work, and before
either had scored any impressive amount of points. Jaynes, however,
realized that Bobbles had landed oftener than he, and that the
sympathy of the audience was with the little fellow. When time was
called for the next round, therefore, he decided to rush things;
and he charged on Bobbles with such fury that side-stepping and
back-stepping were of little avail, and there was nothing for Bobbles
to do but go into the mix-up and try to give as much as he received.
Before they knew just how, they were clinched, and the referee was
cutting them apart like a cheese-knife. And now the big man realized
that on the swift interchange of blows Bobbles was quicker than he,
and that he must keep him at a little distance. Relying, then, on
his greater reach, he went at Bobbles in a most exasperating manner,
holding one long arm out straight, and fanning Bobbles with the other.
Bobbles ran into the outstretched fist with great enthusiasm at first,
but after a moment's daze he dodged round and under that arm and
devoted himself to playing a tattoo on Jaynes' solar plexus. Since his
glove left a black mark wherever it struck, it was tattooing in two
Both men welcomed the gong that announced a chance to breathe.
The grateful rubbing down, fanning, and sponging of the lightning-like
seconds between the rounds restored both men somewhat to their
enthusiasm, though the furious rate at which they had taken the two
previous rounds left them bodily weak.
Jaynes' second told him, during the pause, that Bobbles had decidedly
the best of it thus far on form, and Jaynes' temper was aroused.
Bobbles, having been told by his second that he had the better of
it, had grown a trifle rash and impudent, and dared to take the
aggressive. He went straight into Jaynes' zone of fire, and managed to
plant several good hooks and upper cuts.
While Bobbles was playing in the upper regions for Jaynes, Jaynes made
a reach for Bobbles' body, several times; but Bobbles was not there.
When Jaynes made a careless lead, Bobbles countered and dodged with
All these things, while they increased Bobbles' score and standing
with the judges, increased Jaynes' temper; and finally he gave a
vicious right swing, which Bobbles avoided unintentionally by slipping
and falling. So he found himself on the floor, with Jaynes standing
over him in expectant anticipation of landing him another ebonizing
blow. He heard, also, the referee beginning to count slowly the
seconds. His first impulse was to rise to his feet and assail Jaynes
with all his might; then he realized that he had nine seconds for
refreshment, and there he waited on one hand and one knee, while the
seconds were slowly intoned, until the referee sang out:
Then he made a sidelong scramble to his feet, and succeeded in dodging
the blow with which Jaynes welcomed him back.
Jaynes charged now after Bobbles like a Spanish bull; but the wiry
Lakerimmer dodged him, and smote back at him while he dodged; while
Jaynes, losing his head completely, wasted his strength in futile
rushes and wild blows that bruised nothing except the atmosphere.
Before the end of the round both men were decidedly tired, because the
pace had been very rapid. The blows they dealt at each other were now
hardly more than velvety shoves, and the air seemed to be the chief
obstacle in their way. When by some chance they clinched, they leaned
lovingly upon each other till the referee had to pry them apart. There
was a little revival of interest just before the gong sounded to end
the third and last round; for Bobbles, having regained some of his
wind, began to pommel Jaynes with surprising rapidity and accuracy.
The end of the bout found them in a happy-go-lucky mix-up, each
The judges now met to discuss the verdict they were to render; and,
there being some dispute as to the number of blows landed by each, the
two men were brought forward for inspection. Bobbles' face and neck
were as black as a piccaninny's, but there were few dark spots upon
his chest. Jaynes, however, was like a leopard, for the blacking on
Bobbles' gloves had mottled him all up and down and around.
As Jumbo remarked to Sawed-Off: "Bobbles certainly had designs on that
The judges had been agreed that on the points of defense, guarding,
ducking, getting away, and counter-hitting, Bobbles, considering his
size, was plainly the more brainy and speedy of the two. They were
also inclined to grant him the greater number of points on his form in
general, and especially on account of the disparity in size and reach;
and when they counted the tattoo-marks on each, they found that here
also Bobbles had made the highest score, and they did not hesitate to
award him the prize.
The next event was the High Kick, which was won by a Kingston
hitch-and-kicker, who was a rank outsider from the Dozen. Quiz managed
to be third and add one point to the Academy's score.
Then came an exhibition of Indian-club swinging. Jumbo had formerly
been the great Indian-club swinger of the Dozen, but he had recently
gone in so enthusiastically for wrestling that he had given up his
other interest. Sleepy had taken up this discarded amusement with as
much enthusiasm as was possible to him. There was something about it
that appealed to Sleepy. It was different from weight-lifting and
dumb bell exercising in that when you once got the clubs started they
seemed to do all the work themselves. But Sleepy was too lazy to learn
many of the new wrinkles, and the Troy club-swingers set him some
tasks that he could not repeat. In form, too, he was not their equal;
and this event went to the Kingston opponents.
A novelty was introduced here in place of the usual parallel-bar
exhibition. From the horizontal bar a light gate was hung, and the
various contestants gave exhibitions of Vaulting. The gate prevented
the use of the kippie swing. There was no method of twisting and
writhing up to the bar; it had to be clean vaulting; and Kingston
gradually raised the mark till the Troy men could not go over it.
At its last notch only one man made it, and that was a Kingston
athlete--but unfortunately not a Lakerimmer, as Punk remained behind
with the others, and divided second place with a rival.
A Sack Race was introduced to furnish a little diversion for the
audience, which, in view of the length of the program, was beginning
to believe that, after all, it is possible to have too much of a good
thing. The Kingstonians had put their hope in this event upon the
Twins. None but the Dozen could tell them apart, but the Kingstonians
felt confident that one of the red-headed brotherhood would win out.
And so it looked to the audience when the long row of men were tied
up like dummies in sacks that reached to their necks; for, after the
first muddle at the start, two small brick-top figures went bouncing
along in the lead, like hot-water bags with red stoppers in them.
The Kingstonians, not knowing which of the Twins was in the lead, if
indeed either of them actually led, yelled violently:
"The Twins! The Twins!"
It was Reddy that had got the first start and cleared the multitude,
but Heady, by a careful system of jumping, was soon alongside his
brother. He made a kind-hearted effort to cut Reddy off, with the
result that they wabbled together and fell in a heap. They did not
mind the fact that two or three other sack-runners were falling all
over them; nor did they care what became of the race: the desire of
each was to tear off that sack and get at the wretched brother that
had caused the fall. Not being able to work their hands loose, they
rolled toward each other, and began violently to bunt heads. Finding
that this banner of battle hurt the giver of the blow as much as it
did the receiver of it, they rolled apart again, and began to kick at
each other in a most ludicrous and undignified manner. The Lakerimmers
were finally compelled to rush in on the track and separate the loving
brothers. Strange to say, the Twins got no consolation for the loss of
the race from the fact that the audience had laughed till the tears
ran down its face.
[Illustration: "TIED UP LIKE DUMMIES IN SACKS."]
When the Running High Jump went to Troy on account of the inability
of B.J. to reach even his own record, the Kingstonians began to feel
anxious of results. Troy had won six events, and they had won only
four. The points, too, had fallen in such a way that there was a bad
Sawed-Off appeared upon the horizon as a temporary rescuer; and while
he could not put the sixteen-pound bag of shot so far as he had in
better days sent the sixteen-pound solid shot, still he threw it
farther than any of the Trojans could, and brought the Kingston score
up to within one of the events gone to Troy. Pretty added one more by
a display of grace and skill in the fencing-match with foils, that
surprised even his best friends from Lakerim, and won the unanimous
vote of the three judges, themselves skilful fencers.
A wet blanket was thrown on the encouragement of the Kingstonians by
their inferiority at weight-lifting. Sawed-Off was many pounds from
the power of a certain powerful Trojan, who was a smaller man with
Then all the members of the Dozen had a special parlay with Jumbo,
imploring him to save the day and the honor of both Kingston and
Lakerim by winning the wrestling-match.
When Jumbo glanced across the floor and saw the man that was to be his
opponent striding toward the mat in the center of the floor, he wished
that some one else had been placed as the keystone in the Kingston
arch of success. For Jumbo knew well the man's record as a wrestler.
But Jumbo himself, while small, was well put together; and though
built, as he said, "close to the ground," he was built for business.
Since he had gone in for wrestling he had made it the specialty of
all his athletic exercises. He had practised everything that had any
bearing on the strengthening of particular muscles or general agility.
He had practised cart-wheels, hand-springs, back and front flips. He
had worked with his neck at the chest-weight machine. He would walk on
his hands to strengthen his throat, and his collars had grown in a few
weeks from thirteen and a half to fifteen, and he could no longer
wear his old shirts without splitting them. He made the mats in the
Kingston gymnasium almost his home.
His special studies were bridging and spinning. He spent hours on his
back, rising to his two feet and his head and then rolling from one
shoulder to the other and spinning to his front. When he had his
bridge-building abilities fairly well started, he compelled his heavy
chum Sawed-Off to act as a living meal-bag, and rolled around upon
the top of his head and bridged, with Sawed-Off laying all his weight
across his chest. When he went to bed he bridged there until the best
of wrestlers, sleep, had downed him. When he woke in the morning, he
fell out of bed to the floor, turning his head under him and rolling
so as not to break his neck or any bones, and bridging rigidly upon
his head and bare feet.
Jumbo knew that, whatever might be the ability of his rival, the
Trojan Ware, at least he, Jumbo, could have his conscience easy with
the thought that he had made the most profitable use of the short time
he had spent on wrestling, and that he would put up as good a fight as
was in him.
More than that no athlete can do.
Jumbo and Ware met upon the mattress with their close-shaven heads
looking like bulldogs' jowls; and they shook hands--if one can imagine
bulldogs shaking hands.
Jumbo had two cardinal principles, but he could put neither of them
into practice in the first maneuvers: the first was always to try to
get out of one difficulty by dumping the opponent into another; the
second was always to try for straight-arm leverages.
Ware being the larger of the two, Jumbo was content to play a waiting
game and find out something of the methods of his burly opponent. He
dodged here and there, avoiding the reaching lobster-claws of Ware by
quick wriggles or by slapping his hands away as they thrust. Suddenly
Ware made a quick rush, and, breaking through Jumbo's interference,
seized him around the body to bend him backward. But while the man was
straining his hardest, Jumbo brought his hands around and placed them
together in front of the pit of his stomach, so that the harder Ware
squeezed the harder he pressed Jumbo's fists into his abdomen.
Ware looked foolish at being foiled so neatly, and broke away, only to
come at Jumbo again, and clasp him so close that there was no room for
his fists to press against Ware's diaphragm. But now Jumbo suddenly
clasped his left arm back of Ware's neck, and with his right hand bent
the man's forehead back until he was glad enough to let go and spring
away. Ware continued to run around Jumbo as a dog runs around a treed
cat. But Jumbo always evaded his quick rushes till Ware, after many
false moves, finally made a sudden and unforeseen dash, seized Jumbo's
right hand with both of his, whirled in close, and, with his back
against Jumbo's chest, carried the Lakerimmer's right arm straight and
stiff across his shoulder. Bearing down with all his weight on this
lever, and at the same time dropping to his knees, he shot Jumbo over
his shoulders, heels over head.
"That Flying Mere was certainly a bird!" said Bobbles.
Ware went down with Jumbo, to land on his chest and break any bridge
the boy might form. And the Flying Mere had been such a surprise,
and the fall was so far and the floor so hard, that, while Jumbo
instinctively tried to bridge, his effort collapsed. His two shoulders
touched. The bout was over.
The first fall had been so quickly accomplished, and Jumbo had offered
so feeble a resistance, that the Troy faction at once accepted the
wrestling-match as theirs, and the Kingstonians gave up the evening as
Jumbo was especially covered with chagrin, since he had practised so
long, and had builded so many hopes on this victory; worst of all, the
whole success of the contest between the two academies depended on his
When, then, after a rest, the referee called "Time!" Ware came
stalking up jauntily and confidently; but Jumbo, instead of skulking,
was up, and at, and on him like a wildcat. Ware had expected that the
Lakerim youngster would pursue the same elusive tactics as before, and
he was all amaze while Jumbo was seizing his left hand with his own
left hand, and, darting round behind him, was bending Ware's arm
backward and upward into the Hammerlock.
The pain of this twist sent Ware's body forward, so that Jumbo could
reach up under his right armpit and, placing the palm of his right
hand on the back of Ware's head, make use of that crowbar known as the
right Half-Nelson. This pressure was gradually forcing Ware forward on
the top of his head; but he knew the proper break for the Hammerlock,
and simply threw himself face forward on the mat.
As he rose to his knees again Jumbo pounced on him like a hawk, and
while Ware waited patiently the little Lakerimmer was reaching under
Ware's armpit again for another Half-Nelson; but Ware simply dodged
the grasping of Jumbo's right hand, or, bringing his right arm
vigorously back and down, so checked Jumbo's arm that the boy could
not reach his neck. Jumbo now tried, by leaning his left forearm and
all his weight upon Ware's head, to bring it into reach; but Ware's
neck was too strong, and when he stiffened it Jumbo could not force it
Ware waited in amused patience to learn just how much Jumbo knew about
wrestling. Jumbo wandered around on his knees, feinting for another
Half-Nelson, and making many false plays to throw Ware off his guard.
Suddenly, while Ware seemed to be all neck against a Half-Nelson,
Jumbo dropped to his knees near Ware's right arm, and, shooting his
left arm under Ware's body and his right arm across beneath Ware's
chin, laid violent hold on the man's left arm near the shoulder with
what is known as the Farther-Arm Hold. Jumbo's movement was so quick
and unexpected that Ware could not parry it by throwing his left leg
out and forward for a brake. He realized at once that he would have to
go, and when Jumbo gave a quick yank he rolled over and bridged. But
Jumbo followed him quickly over, and clasping Ware's left arm between
his legs, he forced the right arm out straight also with both his
hands so that Ware could not roll. Then he simply pressed with all his
force upon Ware's chest. And waited.
Ware squirmed and wriggled and grunted and writhed, but there was no
escape for him, and while he stuck it out manfully, with Jumbo heavy
upon him, he knew that he was a goner.
And finally, with a sickly groan, London Bridge came a-falling down.
The bout was Jumbo's, and he retired to his corner with a heart much
lighter. The applause of the audience, the rip-roaring enthusiasm
of the Kingston Academy yell, followed by the beloved club cry of
Lakerim, rejoiced him mightily. He had put down a man far heavier
than he; and he felt that possibly, perchance, maybe, there was a
probability of a contingency in which he might be able to have a
chance of downing him once more--perhaps.
It was a very cool and cautious young man that came forward to
represent Kingston when the referee exclaimed:
"Shake hands for the third and last bout!"
Jumbo, as soon as he had released Ware's fingers, dropped to his
hands and knees on the mat, squatting far back on his haunches, and
manifested a cheerful willingness to go almost anywhere except on the
back of his two shoulders.
It was Ware's turn to be aggressive now, for he had been laughed at
not a little for being downed by so small an opponent. He spent some
time and more strength in picking Jumbo up bodily from the mat and
dropping him all over the place. Jumbo's practice at bridging stood
him in excellent stead now, and he got out of many a tight corner by a
quick, firm bridge or a sudden spin.
Ware time after time forced one of the boy's shoulders to the mat,
and strove with all his vim to force the other shoulder down. And
he generally succeeded; but the first always came up. Jumbo went
willingly from one shoulder to the other, but never from one to both.
He frequently showed a most obliging disposition, and did what Ware
wanted him to, or, rather, he did just that and a little more--he
always went too far; and Ware was becoming convinced that he never
could get those two obstinate shoulder-blades to the mat at the same
After much puttering, he reached the goal of his ambition, and got
the deadly Full-Nelson on Jumbo's head, and forced it slowly and
irresistibly down. Just as he was congratulating himself that he had
his fish landed, Jumbo suddenly whirled his legs forward and assumed a
sitting position. The whole problem was reversed. Ware rose wearily to
his feet, and Jumbo returned to his hands and knees.
Once more Ware strove for the Nelson. He was jabbing Jumbo's head and
trying to shove it down within reach of his right hand. Suddenly, with
a surprising abruptness, Jumbo's head was not there,--he had jerked it
quickly to one side,--and Ware's hand slipped down and almost touched
the floor. But the watchful Jumbo had seized Ware's wrist with
both hands, and returned to the big fellow the compliment of the
Straight-Ann Leverage and the Flying Mere which had been so fatal
to himself in the first bout. Ware's fall was not nearly so far as
Jumbo's had been, and he managed to bridge and save himself.
Before Jumbo could settle on his chest, Ware was out of danger. But he
went to his hands and knees in a defensive attitude that showed he was
nearly worn out.
Jumbo did not see just what right Ware had to imitate his own
position, and the two of them sprawled like frogs, eying each other
Jumbo soon saw that he was expected to take the aggressive or go
to sleep; so, with a lazy sigh, he began snooping around for those
nuggets of wrestling, the Nelsons. After foiling many efforts, the
Trojan noted all at once that Jumbo's head was not above Ware's
shoulders, but back of the right armpit. In a flash a thought of pity
went through Ware's brain.
"Poor fool!" he almost groaned aloud; and reaching back, he gathered
Jumbo's head into chancery.
A sigh went up from all Kingston, and Sawed-Off gasped:
"Poor Jumbo 's gone!"
But just as Ware, chuckling with glee, started to roll Jumbo over, the
boy swung at right angles across Ware's back, and brought the Trojan's
arm helplessly to the Hammerlock.
This was a new trick to Ware, one he had never heard of, but one that
he understood and respected immediately. He yielded to it judiciously,
and managed to spin on his head before Jumbo could land on his chest.
Ware had more respect now for Jumbo, and decided to keep him on the
defensive, especially as a bystander announced that the time was
Ware rushed the contest, and, after many failures, managed to secure a
perfect Full-Nelson. Jumbo's position was such that there was no way
for him to squirm out. He resisted until it seemed that his neck would
break. In vain. His head was slowly forced under.
And now his shoulders began to follow, and he was rolling over on his
One shoulder is down.
The referee is on all fours, his cheek almost to the ground. He is
watching for the meeting of those two shoulders upon the mat.
The Kingstonians have given up, and the Trojans have their cheers all
And now the despairing Jumbo feels that his last minute has come. But
just for the fraction of a second he sees that the cautious Ware is
slightly changing his hold.
With a sudden, a terrific effort, he throws all his soul into his
muscles--closes his arms like a vise on Ware's arms. The Nelson is
broken, or weakened into uselessness. He draws his head into his
shoulders as a turtle's head is drawn into its shell, whirls like
lightning on the top of his head to his other shoulder, and on over,
carrying the horrified Ware with him, plouncing the Trojan flat on his
back, and plumping down on top of him.
And the excited referee went over on his back also, and kicked his
heels foolishly in the air as he cried:
Jumbo had won the match.
This brought the score of contests back to a tie, and the result of
these Olympic games now rested entirely on the victors of the Tug of
Curiously enough, the Trojans and the Kingstonians had each won a
series of firsts, seconds, and thirds that totaled up the same. So the
Tug of War, which had been intended only for an exhibition, became in
a sense the deciding event of the whole contest.
The captain of the Kingston four was the large Sawed-Off, who was also
the anchor of his team. He came out upon the floor, wearing around his
waist a belt that was almost as graceful as a horse-collar, and quite
as heavy, made, as it was, of padded leather. It was suspended from
his shoulders like a life-belt, and carried a deep groove around the
middle of it.
The Troy captain had a similar contrivance about him, and he looked
somewhat contemptuously upon the Kingstonians, who had not the beefy,
brawny look of his own big four.
The eight took their places on the long board, each man with his feet
against a cleat. The rope was marked in its exact center with a white
cord, and held there by a lever, which the umpire pressed down with
The Troy tuggers took a stout hold on the rope and faced the
Kingstonians gloweringly. The Kingston men, however, faced to the rear
and straddled the rope--all except Sawed-Off, who had wrapped it round
his belt, and taken a hitch in it for security. He faced the Trojans,
and hoped that science would defeat beef once more in the history of
When all were ready the umpire shouted "Go!" and at the same instant
released the lever and the cable.
The Trojans threw all their muscle into one terrific jerk; but each of
Sawed-Off's men, gripping the cable in front of him at arm's-length,
fell forward, face down.
By the impact of their full weight, and by relying not merely upon
their arms, but on the whole pull of back and legs, the Kingstonians
gave the rope a yank that would have annoyed an oak-tree, and
certainly left the Trojans no chance.
After this first assault the teams found themselves thus: The
Kingstonians were stretched prone upon the board with their legs
straight against the cleats; Sawed-Off was braced against his cleat
and seated, facing Troy. The rival team was seated, but with knees
bent; and their captain glared amazed at Sawed-Off, who was busily
taking in over a foot of captured cable.
The Trojan captain, Winthrop by name, gave a signal grunt, to which
his men responded with a fury, regaining about two of the lost inches.
This lifted Sawed-Off slightly off the board, and in response to three
or four bitter wrenches from Troy, he was forced to let them have six
inches more cable, lest they cut him in two like a cake of soap.
But Kingston had learned, by painful experience, the signals of the
Troy captain; and just as the Trojans were reaching confidently
forward for a new hold, the alert Sawed-Off murmured a quick hint, and
his men gave a sudden hunch that took the enemy unawares, and brought
back home three inches of beautiful rope. The same watchfulness won
another three; and there they held the white string, a foot to their
side, when the time was up and the lever was clamped down.
After a short rest, the men resined their hands anew and prepared for
the second pull. The Trojan captain had been wise enough to see the
advantage of the Kingston forward fall, and he was not too modest to
When the lever was supped the second time both teams fell face
downward. But now Troy's greater bulk told to her advantage, and she
carried the white cord six inches to her side.
The Kingstons lay with their knees bent.
Now Sawed-Off tried a preconcerted trick signal. With ominous tone he
"Now, boys--all together--heave!"
At the word "heave" the Trojans braced like oxen against the expected
jerk; but none came, and they relaxed a little, feeling that they had
been fooled. But Sawed-Off's men were slowly and silently counting
five, and then, with a mighty heave, they yearned forward, and
catching the Winthrop team unprepared, got back four inches. They
tried it again, and made only about an inch. A third time Sawed-Off
gave the signal, and the Trojans, recognizing it, waited a bit before
bracing for the shock. But for the third time Sawed-Off had arranged
that the pull should immediately follow the command. Again the Trojans
were fooled, and the white went two inches into Kingston territory.
The Trojans now grew angry and panicky, and began to wrench and twist
without regard for one another. The result of this was that Kingston
gradually gained three inches more before Winthrop could coax his men
back to reason and team-work.
The time was almost gone now, and he got his men into a series of
well-concerted, steady, deadly efforts, that threatened to bring the
whole Kingston four over with the snail-like white cord. But Sawed-Off
pleaded with his men, and they buried their faces in the board and
worked like mad. To the spectators they seemed hardly to move, but
under their skins their muscles were crowding and shoving like a gang
of slaves, and fairly squeezing streams of sweat out of them as if
their gleaming hides were sponges.
And then, after what seemed a whole night of agony, the white cord
budged no more, though the Trojans pulled themselves almost inside
out; and suddenly the lever nipped the rope, and the contest was over.
The Trojans were all faint, and the head of Winthrop fell forward
limply. Even Sawed-Off was so dizzy that he had to be helped across
the floor by his friends. But they were glad enough to pay him this
All Kingston had learned to love the sturdy giant, and the Lakerimmers
were prouder of him than ever, for it was through him that the fatal
balance had been pulled down to Kingston's side, so that the team
could take another victory home with them to the Academy.
As the school year rolled on toward its finish in June, times became
busier and busier for the students, especially for the Lakerimmers,
who felt a great responsibility upon their shoulders, the
responsibility of keeping the Lakerim Athletic Club pennant flying
to the fore in all the different businesses of academic life--in the
classroom, at the prize speaking, in the debating society, and, most
of all, in the different athletic affairs.
It was no longer necessary, as it had been at home in Lakerim, for the
same twelve men to play all the games known to humanity--to make a
specialty of everything, so to speak. At Kingston, while they were
still one body and soul, and kept up their union with constant powwows
in one another's rooms, but most often in Tug's, they were divided
variously among the athletic teams, where each one felt that his own
honor was Lakerim's.
Their motto was the motto of the Three Musketeers: "All for one, and
one for all."
The springtime athletics found the best of them choosing between the
boat crew and the ball team. It was a hard choice for some of them
who loved to be Jacks-at-all-trades, but a choice was necessary. The
Kingston Academy possessed so many good fellows that not all of the
Dozen found a place on the eight or the nine; still, there were
enough of them successful to keep Lakerim material still strongly in
Of the men that tried for the crew, all were sifted out, gradually,
except B.J., Quiz, and Punk. The training was a severe one, under a
coach who had graduated some years before from Kingston, and had come
back to bring his beloved Academy first across the line, as it had
gone the year he had captained the crew.
As the training went on, the man who had been elected captain of the
eight worked so faithfully--or overworked so faithfully--that he was
trained up to the finest point some two or three weeks before the
great regatta of academies. Every day after that he lost in form, in
spite of himself, and the coach had finally to make him abdicate the
throne; and Punk, who had worked in his usual slow and conservative
fashion, seemed the fittest man to succeed him. So Punk became captain
of the crew, and found himself at the old post of stroke-oar.
On the day of the great Henley of the Interscholastic League, when all
the crews had got away in their best style, after two vexatious false
starts, Punk slowly, and without any impatience, urged his crew past
all the others, till Kingston led them all.
From this place he could study his rivals well, and after some
shifting of positions, he saw the Troy Latin School eight coming
cleanly out of the parade and making swiftly after him. Suddenly a
great nervousness seized him, because he remembered the time, the year
before, when the Lakerim crew rowed Troy, and when his oar had broken
just before the finish, so that he had been compelled to jump out into
the water, and had missed the joy of riding over the line with his
winning Lakerimmers. He wondered now if this oar would also play him
But he had selected it with experienced care, and hard as he strained
it, and pathetically as it groaned, it stood him in good stead,
and carried him, and the seven who rowed with him, safely into the
paradise of victory.
Of the Lakerimmers who tried for the baseball team, four men were
elevated to the glory of positions on the regular nine.
Sleepy had somehow proved that left-field was safer when he was
seeming to take a nap there than it was under the guard of any of the
more restless players.
Tug was a second baseman, whose cool head made him a good man at that
pivot of the field; he was an able assistant to the right-field, a
ready back-stop to the short-stop, and a perfect spider for taking
into his web all the wild throws that came slashing from the home
plate to cut off those who dared to try to steal his base.
Sawed-Off was the nearest of all the Kingstonians to resembling a
telegraph-pole, so he had no real competitors for first base. He
declined to play, however, unless Jumbo were given the position of
short-stop; and Jumbo soon proved that he had some other rights to the
position besides a powerful pull.
Reddy and Heady had worked like beavers to be accepted as the battery,
but the pitcher and catcher of the year before were so satisfactory
that the Twins could get no nearer to their ambitions than the
substitute-list, and there it seemed they were pretty sure to remain
upon the shelf, in spite of all the practice they had kept up, even
through the winter.
The Kingston ball-team had found its only rival to the championship of
the Interscholastic League in the nine from the Charleston Preparatory
School. The Kingstonians all plucked up hope, however, when they found
themselves at the end of the season one game ahead of Charleston; or,
at least, they called it one game ahead, for Charleston had played off
its schedule, and Kingston had only one more nine to defeat, and that
was the Brownsville School for Boys, the poorest team in the whole
League, a pack of good-for-nothings with butter on their fingers and
holes in their bats. So Kingston counted the pennant as good as won.
Down the team went to Brownsville, then, just to see how big a score
they could roll up. Back they came from Brownsville so dazed they
almost rode past the Kingston station. For when they had reached the
ballground, one of those curious moods that attacks a team as it
attacks a single person seized them and took away the whole knack that
had won them so many games. The Brownsvillers, on the other hand,
seemed to have been inspired by something in the air. They simply
could not muff the ball or strike out. They found and pounded the
curves of the Kingston pitcher so badly that the substitute battery
would have been put in had they not been left behind because it was
not thought worth while to pay their fare down to Brownsville.
The upshot of the horrible afternoon was that Brownsville sent
Kingston home with its feelings bruised black and blue, and its record
done up in cotton. It was a good thing that Kingston had prepared no
bonfire for the victory they had thought would be so easy, because if
the defeated nine had been met with such a mockery they would surely
have perished of mortification.
The loss of this game--think of it, the score was 14 to 2!--tied the
Kingstonians with the Charlestonians, and another game was necessary
to decide the contest for the pennant. That game was immediately
arranged for commencement week on the Kingston grounds.
And now the Twins, who had resigned themselves to having never a
chance on the nine, found themselves suddenly called upon to pitch and
catch in _the_ game of the year; for the drubbing the regular pitcher
had received had destroyed the confidence of the team in his ability
to pitch a second time successfully against the Charlestonians.
To make matters worse, the game was to come almost in the very midst
of the final examinations of the year, and the Twins became so mixed
up in their efforts to cram into their heads all the knowledge in the
world, and to pull out of their fingers all of the curves known to
science, that one day Reddy said to Heady:
"I half believe that when I get up for oral examination I'll be so
rattled that, instead of answering the question, I'll try to throw the
ink-bottle on an upshoot at the professor's head."
And Heady answered, even more glumly:
"I wouldn't mind that so much; what I'm afraid of is that when you
really need to use that out-curve you'll throw only a few dates at the
batter. I will signal for an out-curve, and you'll stand in the box
and tie yourself in a bow-knot, and throw at me something about
Columbus discovering America in 1776; or you'll reel off some problem
about plastering the inside of a room, leaving room for four doors and
When the day of the game arrived, however, Reddy and Heady took their
positions with the proud satisfaction of knowing that they had passed
all their school-book examinations. Now they wondered what percentage
they would make in their baseball examination.
Sleepy, however, went out to left-field not knowing where he stood.
He knew so little about his books, indeed, that even after the
examination was over he could tell none of the fellows what answers he
had made to what questions, and so they could not tell him whether or
no he had failed ignominiously or passed accidentally. This worry,
however, sat very lightly on Sleepy's nerves.
The largest crowd of the year was gathered to witness the greatest
game of the year, and Charleston and Kingston were tuned up to the
highest pitch they could reach without breaking. The day was perfect,
and in the preliminary practice the Kingstonians showed that they were
determined to wipe out the disgrace of the Brownsville game, or at
least to cover it up with the scalps of the Charlestonians.
At length the Charlestonians were called in by their captain, for they
were first at bat. The Kingstonians dispread themselves over the field
in their various positions. The umpire tossed to the nervous Reddy
what seemed to be a snowball, whose whiteness he immediately covered
with dust from the box. The Charlestonian batter came to the plate and
tapped it smartly three or four times. The umpire sang out:
Reddy cast a nervous look around the field, then went into a spasm
in which he seemed to be trying to "skin the cat" on an invisible
turning-pole. Out of the mix-up he suddenly straightened himself. The
first baseman saw a dusty white cannon-ball shoot past him, and heard
the umpire's dulcet voice growl:
Which pleased the Kingston audience so mightily that they broke forth
into cheers and applause that upset Reddy so completely that the next
ball slipped from his hand and came toward the first baseman so gently
that he could hardly have missed it had he tried.
The Kingstonian cheer disappeared in a groan as everybody heard that
unmistakable whack that resounds whenever the bat and the ball meet
face to face. But the very sureness of the hit was its ruination, for
it went soaring like a carrier-pigeon straight home to the hands of
Sleepy, who, without moving from his place, reached up and took it in.
The Kingston groan was now changed back again to a cheer, and the
first batter of the first half of the first inning had scored the
The Charleston third baseman now came to the bat. Three times in
succession Reddy failed to get the ball over the plate, and the man
evidently had made up his mind that he was to get his base on balls,
for at the fourth pitch he dropped his bat and started for first base,
only to be called back by the umpire's voice declaring a strike. To
his immense disgust, two other strikes followed it, and he went to the
bench instead of to the base.
The third Charlestonian caught the first ball pitched by Reddy, and
sent it bounding toward Jumbo, who ripped it off the ground and had
it in the hands of his chum Sawed-Off before the Charlestonian was
half-way to first base.
This retired the side, and the Kingstonians came in to bat amid a
pleasant April shower of applause.
Sawed-Off was the first Kingston man to take a club to the
Charlestonians. He waved his bat violently up and down, and stared
fiercely at the Charleston pitcher. His ferocity disappeared, however,
when he saw the ball coming at a frightful speed straight at him, and
threatening to take a large scoop out of his stomach. He stretched up
and back and away from it with a ridiculous wiggle, that was the more
ridiculous when he saw the ball curve harmlessly over the plate and
heard the umpire cry:
He upbraided himself for his fear, and when the next ball was pitched,
though he felt sure that it was going to strike him on the shoulder,
he did not budge. But here he made mistake number two; for the ball
did not curve as the pitcher had intended, but gave the batter a sharp
nip just where it said it would. The only apology the pitcher made was
the rueful look with which he watched Sawed-Off going down to first
The Kingston center-fielder was the next at the bat, and he sent a
little Roman candle of a fly that fell cozily into the third baseman's
Jumbo now came to the plate, and swinged at the ball so violently that
one might have thought he was trying to lift Sawed-Off bodily from
first base to second. But he managed only to send a slow coach of a
liner, that raced him to first base and beat him there. Sawed-Off,
however, had managed to make second before the Charleston first
baseman could throw him out, and there he pined away, for the Kingston
third baseman struck out, possibly in compliment to the Charleston
third baseman, who had done the same thing.
This complimentary spirit seemed to fill the short-stop also, for he
sent down to his rival Jumbo a considerately easy little fly, which
stuck to Jumbo's palms as firmly as if there had been fly-paper on
The Charleston catcher now found Reddy for a clean base-hit between
left and center field. He tried to stretch it into a two-base hit, and
the Kingston center fielded the ball in so slowly that he succeeded in
his grasping attempt.
The Charlestonian second baseman made a sacrifice hit that advanced
the catcher to third. And now the pitcher came to the bat, eager to
bring home the wretch at whom he had hurled his swiftest curves. His
anxiety led him into making two foolish jabs at curves that were out
of his reach, and finally he caught one just on the tip of his bat,
and it went neatly into Tug's hand, leaving the catcher to perish on
Sleepy now came to the bat for Kingston, and, without making any
undue exertion, deftly placed a fly between the short-stop and the
left-fielder, and reached first base on a canter. He made no rash
attempts to steal second, but waited to be assisted there. The
Kingston right-fielder, however, struck out and made way for Reddy.
Reddy, though a pitcher, was, like most pitchers, unable to solve the
mystery of a rival's curves for more than a little grounder, that lost
him first base, and forced Sleepy to a most uncomfortable exertion to
keep from being headed off at second.
Tug now came to the bat; but, unfortunately, while the hit he knocked
was a sturdy one, it went toward third base, and Sleepy did not dare
venture off second, though he made a feint at third which engaged the
baseman's attention until Tug reached first.
Heady now came to the bat, and some of the Charlestonians insisted
that he had batted before; but they were soon convinced of their error
when the Twins were placed side by side.
Heady puzzled them even more, however, by scratching off just such
another measly bunt as his brother had failed with, and when he was
put out at first Sleepy and Tug realized that their running had been
in vain. Sleepy thought of the terrific inconvenience the struggle for
the three bases had caused him, and was almost sorry that he had not
struck out in the first place.
The Charleston right-fielder opened the third inning with a graceful
fly just this side the right-fielder's reach, in that field where
base-hits seem to grow most plentifully. The Kingston center-fielder
was presented with a base on balls, which forced the right-fielder to
second base. Now Reddy recovered sufficiently to strike out the next
Charleston batter, though the one after him sent into right field a
long, low fly, which the Kingston right-fielder caught on the first
bound, and hurled furiously to third base to head off the Charleston
runner. The throw was wild, and a sickening sensation went through the
hearts of all as they saw it hurtle past the third baseman.
The Charleston runner rejoiced, and giving the bag a mere touch with
his foot, started gaily for home. A warning cry from his coach,
however, checked him in full speed, and he whirled about to see that
Sleepy, foreseeing the throw from right-field as soon as the ball left
the bat, had sauntered over behind the third baseman, had stopped the
wild throw, and now stood waiting for the base-runner to declare his
intention before he threw the ball. The Charlestonian made a quick
dash to get back to third; but Sleepy had the ball in the third
baseman's hands before him.
Now the third baseman saw that the second Kingston runner had also
been wavering uncertainly between second and third, ready to reach
third if Sleepy threw for home, and to return to second if he threw
to third. The third baseman started toward the runner, making many
pretenses of throwing the ball, and keeping the poor base-runner on
such a razor-edge of uncertainty that he actually allowed himself to
be touched out with barely a wriggle. This double play retired the
side. It was credited to the third baseman; but the real glory
belonged to Sleepy, and the crowd gave him the applause.
Once more Sawed-Off towered at the bat. He was willing to take another
bruise if he could be assured of getting to first base; but the
pitcher was so wary of striking him this time that he gave him his
base on balls, and Sawed-Off lifted his hat to him in gratitude for
this second gift.
The center-fielder knocked a fly into the hands of the first baseman,
who stood on the bag. Sawed-Off barely escaped falling victim to a
double play by beating the fly to first.
Again Jumbo labored mightily to advance Sawed-Off, and did indeed
get him to second on a well-situated base-hit. The next Kingstonian,
however, the third baseman, knocked to the second baseman a bee-liner
that was so straight and hot that the second baseman could neither
have dodged nor missed it had he tried; so he just held on to it, and
set his foot on the bag, and caught Sawed-Off before he could get back
to the base.
The fourth inning was opened by a Charlestonian, who sent a singing
fly right over Sawed-Off's head. He seemed to double his length like
a jack-knife. When he shut up again, however, the ball was not in his
hand, but down in the right-field. It was a master stroke, but, worth
only one base to Charleston.
The second man at the bat fell prey to Reddy's bewildering curves, and
Reddy heard again that sweetest sound a pitcher can hear, the umpire's
The Charlestonian who had lined out the beautiful base-hit proved
himself the possessor of a pair of heels as good as his pair of eyes,
and just as Reddy had declared by his motions such a readiness to
pitch the ball that he could not have changed his mind without being
declared guilty of a balk--just at that instant the Charlestonian
dashed madly for second base. Heady snatched off his mask and threw
the ball to second with all the speed and correctness he was master
of; but the throw went just so far to the right that Tug, leaning far
out, could not recover himself in time to touch the runner.
These two now began to play a game of hide-and-seek about second base,
much to Reddy's discomfort. There is nothing so annoying to a pitcher
as the presence of a courageous and speedy base-runner on the second
base; for the pitcher has always the threefold terror that in whirling
suddenly he may be found guilty of balking, or in facing about quickly
he may make a wild throw; and yet if he does not keep a sharp eye in
the back of his head, the base-runner can play off far enough to stand
a good chance of stealing third safely.
Reddy engaged in this three-cornered duel so ardently that before he
knew it he had given the man at the bat a base on balls. This added to
his confusion, and seeing at the bat the Charleston catcher who had in
the second inning knocked out a perfect base-hit and made two bases
on it, Reddy left the wily fox at second base to his own devices, and
paid no heed to Tug's efforts to beat the man back to second. Suddenly
the fellow made a dart for third; though Heady's throw was straight
and swift, the fellow dived for the base, and slid into safety under
the ball. In the shadow of this dash the other Charleston base-runner
took second base without protest.
The Charleston catcher was evidently determined to bring in at least
one run, or die trying. He smashed at every ball that Reddy pitched.
He only succeeded, however, in making a number of fouls. But Reddy
shuddered for the score when he realized how well the Charleston
catcher was studying his best curves. Suddenly the man struck up a
sky-scraping foul. Everybody yelled at once: "Over your head!"
And Heady, ripping away his mask again, whirled round and round,
trying to find the little globule in the dazzling sky. He gimleted all
over the space back of the plate before he finally made out the ball
coming to earth many feet in front of him. He made a desperate lunge
for it and caught it. And Reddy's groan of relief could be heard clear
from the pitcher's box.
The Charleston catcher, in a great huff, threw his bat to the ground
with such violence that it broke, and he gave way to the second
baseman, who had made a sacrifice hit in the second inning--which
advanced the catcher one base. The man realized, however, that a
sacrifice in this inning, with two men already out, would not be so
advantageous as before. He made an heroic attempt, resulting in a
clean drive that hummed past Reddy like a Mauser bullet, and chose a
path exactly between Jumbo and Tug. It was evident that no Kingston
man could stop it in time to throw either to first base or home ahead
of a Charleston man; but since Kingston could not put the side out
before a run was scored, the Charlestonians cheerfully consented to
put themselves out; that is, the base-runner on second, making a
furious dash for third, ran ker-plunk into the ball, which recorded
itself on his funny-bone.
When he fell to the ground yelping with torment, I am afraid that
the Kingstonians showed little of the Good Samaritan spirit, for the
ball-nine and the Kingston sympathizers in the crowd indulged in
a jubilation such as a Roman throng gave vent to when a favorite
gladiator had floored some new savage.
The Kingston men came in from the field arm in arm, but it was not
long before they were once more sauntering out into the field, for not
one of them reached first base.
A game without runs is not usually half so interesting to the crowd as
one in which there is free batting and a generous sprinkling of runs.
The average spectator is not sport enough to feel sorry for the
pitcher when a home run has been knocked over the fence, or to feel
sorry for a fielder who lets a ball through his fingers and sends the
base-runners on their way rejoicing. To your thorough sport, though,
a scientific, well-balanced game is the most interesting. He likes to
see runs earned, if scored at all, and has sympathy but no interest
for a pitcher who permits himself to be knocked out of the box.
A more nicely balanced game than this between Kingston and Charleston
could hardly be imagined, and there was something in the air or in
the game that made the young teams play like veterans. Each worked
together like a clock of nine cog-wheels.
Though the next four innings were altogether different from one
another in batting and fielding, they were exactly alike in that they
were all totaled at the bottom of the column, with a large blank
At the opening of the ninth inning even the uncultured members of the
crowd--those unscientific ingoramuses that had voted the game a dull
one because no one had made the circuit of the bases--even these sat
up and breathed fast, and wondered what was going to happen. They had
not drawn many breaths before the Kingston catcher rapped on the plate
and threw back his bat to knock the stuffing out of any ball that
Reddy might hurl at him; and, indeed, his intentions were nearly
realized, for the very first throw that Reddy made hit the bull's-eye
on the Charleston bat, and then leaped away with a thwack.
Reddy leaped for it first, but it went far from his fingers.
Next after him Tug went up into the air and fell back beautifully.
And after him--just as if they had been jumping-jacks--the
center-fielder bounded high and clutched at the ball, but past his
finger-tips, too, it went, and he turned ignominiously after it. If he
was running the Charlestonian was flying. He shot across first base,
and on, just grazing second base--unseen by Tug, who had turned his
back and was yelling vainly to the center-fielder to throw him the
ball he had not yet caught up with. On the Charlestonian sped in a
blind hurry. He very much resembled a young man decidedly anxious to
get home as soon as possible. He flew past third base and on down like
an antelope to the plate. This he spurned with his toe as he ran on,
unable to check his furious impetus, until he fell in the arms of the
other Charleston players on the bench.
And then the Charleston faction in the crowd raised crawled in at the
back door and been ousted unceremoniously!
The Kingstonians had certainly played a beautiful game, but
the Charlestonians had played one quite as good. All that the
Kingston-lovers could do when they saw their nine come to the bat for
the ninth time was to look uncomfortable, mop their brows, and remark:
The Kingstonian center-fielder was the first to the bat, and he struck
Then Jumbo appeared, and played a waiting game he was very fond of:
while pretending to be willing to hit anything that was pitched, he
almost always let the ball go by him; and since he was so short and
stocky,--"built so close to the ground," as he expressed it,--the
pitcher usually threw too high, and Jumbo got his base on balls
a dozen times where he earned it with a base-hit or lost it on a
And now he reached first base in his old pet way, and made ardent
preparations to steal second; but his enterprise was short-lived, for
the Kingston third baseman knocked an easy grounder to the short-stop,
who picked it from the ground and tossed it into the second baseman's
hands almost with one motion; and the second baseman, just touching
the base with his toe to put Jumbo out on a forced run, made a clean
throw to first that put out the batsman also, and with him the side.
The scientists marked down upon the calendars of their memory the fact
that they had seen two preparatory school teams play a nine-inning
game without scoring a run. The others in the crowd only felt sick
with hope deferred, and wondered if that home plate were going to be
as difficult to reach as the north pole.
The Charleston third baseman came to the bat first for his side in the
tenth inning, and he struck out. The left-fielder followed him, and
by knocking a little bunt that buzzed like a top just in front of the
plate, managed to agonize his way to first base before Reddy and Heady
could field the ball, both of them having jumped for it and reached it
at the same time. But this man, making a rash and foolish effort to
steal second, was given the eighteenth-century punishment of death for
theft, Heady having made a perfect throw from the plate.
The Charleston short-stop reached second on a fly muffed by the
Kingston right-fielder--the first error made by this excellent player.
And now once more the redoubtable Charleston catcher appeared at the
bat. Once more he showed his understanding of Reddy's science. This
time he was evidently determined to wipe out the mistake he had made
of too great haste on his previous home runs. After warming up with
two strikes, and letting three balls pass, he found the ball where he
wanted it, and drove out into left-field a magnificent fly.
Pretty saw it coming, and turning, ran to the best of his ability for
the uttermost edge of his field, hoping only to delay the course of
the ball. At length it overtook him, and even as he ran he sprang into
the air and clutched upward for it, and struck it as if he would bat
it back to the home plate.
It did not stick to his fingers, but none of the scorers counted it as
an error on the clean square beside his name under the letter E. He
had not achieved the impossible of catching it, but he had done the
next best thing: he had knocked it to the ground and run it down in
two or three steps, and turned, and drawing backward till the ball
almost touched the ground behind him, had strained every muscle with a
furious lunge, and sent the ball flying for home in a desperate race
with the Charleston short-stop, who had passed third base and was
sprinting for dear life homeward.
At the plate stood Heady, beckoning the carrier-pigeon home with
frantic hope, Sawed-Off and Reddy both rushing to get behind him and
back him up, so that at least not more than one run should be scored.
With a gasp of resolve the Charleston runner, seeing by Heady's eyes
that the ball was just at hand, flung himself to the ground, hoping to
lay at least a finger-tip on the plate; but there was a quick thwack
as the ball struck Heady's gloves, there was a stinging blow at the
Charlestonian's right shoulder-blade, and the shrill cry of the
Once more the spectators shifted in their seats and knit their brows,
And now Sleepy opened the second half of the tenth inning. He had a
little splutter of applause for his magnificent throw when he came to
the plate; but he either was dreaming of base-hits and did not
hear it, or was too lazy to lift his cap, for he made no sign of
recognition. He made a sign of recognition of the Charleston's
pitcher's first upshoot, however, for he sent it spinning leisurely
down into right-field--so leisurely that even he beat it to first
base. The Kingston right-fielder now atoned for his previous error by
a ringing hit that took Sleepy on a comfortable jog to second base and
placed himself safely on first.
Then Reddy came to the bat. He was saved the chagrin of striking out
to his deadly rival, but the hit he knocked was only a little fly that
the pitcher caught. The two base-runners, however, had not had great
expectations of Reddy's batting prowess, so they did not stray far
from their bases, and were not caught napping.
Now Tug came to the bat; and while he was gathering his strength for
a death-dealing blow at the ball, the two base-runners made ready to
take advantage of anything he should hit. The right-fielder played off
too far, and, to Tug's despair, was caught by a quick throw from the
pitcher to the first baseman.
Tug's heart turned sick within him, for there were two men out, and
the only man on base was Sleepy, who could never be counted on to make
a two-base run on a one-base hit.
As Tug stood bewailing his fate, the ball shot past him, and the
Tug shook himself together with a jolt, and struck furiously at the
"Strike--two!" sang the umpire.
And now the umpire had upon his lips the fatal words:
For as he looked down the line traced in the air by the ball, he saw
that Tug had misjudged it. But for once science meant suicide; for
though Tug struck wildly, the ball condescendingly curved down and
fell full and fair upon the bat, and danced off again over the first
baseman's head and toward the feet of the right-fielder. This worthy
player ran swiftly for it and bent forward, but he could not reach it.
It struck him a smarting whack on the instep, and bounded off outside
the foul-line; and while he limped painfully after it, there was time
even for the sleepy Sleepy to reach the plate and score a run.
And then the right-fielder, half blinded with pain, threw the ball at
nobody in particular, and it went into the crowd back of third base,
and Tug came in unopposed.
And since the game was now Kingston's, no one waited to see whether
Heady would have knocked a home run or struck out. He was not given a
chance to bat.
There was great rejoicing in Kingston that night, much croaking of
tin horns, and much building of bonfires. The athletic year had been
remarkably successful, and every one realized the vital part played
in that success by the men from Lakerim--the Dozen, who had made some
enemies, as all active people must, and had made many more friends, as
all active people may.
The rejoicing of the Lakerimmers themselves had a faint tang of
regret, for while they were all to go back to the same town together
for their vacation, yet they knew that this would be the last year of
school life they could ever spend together. Next year History, Punk,
Sawed-Off, and Jumbo were to go to college. The others had at least
one more year of preparatory work.
And they thought, too, that this first separation into two parts was
only the beginning of many separations that should finally scatter
them perhaps over the four quarters of the globe.
There was Bobbles, for instance, who had an uncle that was a great
sugar magnate in the Hawaiian Islands, and had offered him a position
there whenever he was ready for it.
B.J. had been promised an appointment to Annapolis, for he would be a
sailor and an officer of Uncle Sam's navy.
And Tug had been offered a chance to try for West Point, and there
were no dangers for him in either the rigid mental or the physical
Pretty, who had shown a wonderful gift for modeling in clay, was going
some day to Paris to study sculpture.
And Quiz looked forward to being a lawyer.
The Twins would go into business, since their father's busy sawmill
property would descend to both of them, and, as they thought it out,
could not very well be divided. Plainly they must make the best of
life together. It promised to be a lively existence, but a pleasant
History hoped to be a great writer some day, and Punk would be a
professor of something staid and quiet, Latin most probably.
Sawed-Off and Jumbo had not made up their minds as to just what
the future was to hold for them, but they agreed, that it must be
something in partnership.
Sleepy had never a fancy of what coming years should bring him to do;
he preferred to postpone the unpleasant task of making up his mind,
and only took the trouble to hope that the future would give him
something that offered plenty of time for sleeping and eating.
Late into the night the Twelve sat around a waving bonfire, their eyes
twinkling at the memory of old victories and defeats, of struggles
that were pleasant, whatever their outcome, just because they were
At length Sleepy got himself to his feet with much difficulty.
"Going to bed?" Jumbo sang out.
"Nope," drawled Sleepy, and disappeared into the darkness.
They all smiled at the thought of him, whom none of them respected and
all of them loved.
In a space of time quite short for him, Sleepy returned with an
arm-load of books--the text-books that had given him so much trouble,
and would have given him more had they had the chance offered them.
"Fire's getting low," was all he said, and he dumped the school-books,
every one, into the blaze.
The other Lakerimmers knew that they had passed every examination,
either brilliantly or, at the worst, well enough to scrape through.
Sleepy did not even know whether he had failed or not; but the next
morning he found out that he should sadly need next year those books
that were charred ashes in a corner of the campus, and should have to
replace them out of his spending-money.
That night, however, he was blissful with ignorance, and having made
a pyre of his bookish tormentors, he fell in with the jollity of the
When it grew very late silence gradually fell on the gossipy Twelve.
The beauty of the night and the union of souls seemed to be speech
Finally the fire fell asleep, and with one mind they all rose and,
standing in a circle about glimmering ashes, clasped hands in eternal
friendship, and said:
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