Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Jim Ludwig
THE HIGH SCHOOL CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM
or Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard
By H. Irving Hancock
I. "Kicker" Drayne Revolts
II. A Hint from the Girls
III. Putting the Tag on the Sneak
IV. The Traitor Gets His Deserts
V. "Brass" for an Armor Plate
VI. One of the Fallen
VII. Dick Meets the Boy-With-A-Kick
VIII. Dick Puts "A Better Man" in His Place
IX. Could Dave Make Good?
X. Leading the Town to Athletics
XI. The "King Deed" of Daring
XII. The Nerve of the Soldier
XIII. Dick Begins to Feel Old
XIV. Fordham Plays the Gentleman's Game
XV. "We'll Play the Gentleman's Game
XVI. Gridley's Last Charge
XVII. The Long Gray Column
XVIII. The Would-Be Candidates
XIX. Tom Reade Bosses the Job
XX. When the Great News was Given Out
XXI. Gridley Seniors Whoop It Up
XXII. The Message From the Unknown
XXIII. The Plight of the Innocent
XXIV. Dave Gives Points to the Chief of Police
"Kicker" Drayne Revolts
"I'm going to play quarter-back," declared Drayne stolidly.
"You?" demanded Captain Dick Prescott, looking at the aspirant
in stolid wonder.
"Of course," retorted Drayne. "It's the one position I'm best
fitted for of all on the team."
"Do you mean that you're better fitted for that post than anyone
else on the team?" inquired Prescott. "Or that it's the position
that best fits your talents?"
"Both," replied Drayne.
Dick Prescott glanced out over Gridley High School's broad athletic
A group of the middle men of the line, and their substitutes,
had gathered around Coach Morton.
On another part of the field Dave Darrin was handling a squad
of new football men, teaching how to rush in and tackle the swinging
Still others, under Greg Holmes, were practicing punt kicks.
Drayne's face was flushed, and, though he strove to hide the fact,
there was an anxious look there.
"I didn't quite understand, Drayne," continued the young captain
of the team, "that you were to take a very important part this
"Pshaw! I'd like to know why I'm not," returned the other boy
"I think that is regarded as being the general understanding,"
continued Dick. He didn't like this classmate, yet he hated to
give offense or to hurt the other's feelings in any way.
"The general understanding?" repeated Drayne hotly. "Then I can
tell the man who started that understanding."
"I think I can, too," Prescott answered, smiling patiently.
"It was you, Dick Prescott! You, the leader of Dick & Co., a
gang that tries to boss everything in the High School!
"Cool down a bit," advised young Prescott coolly. "You know well
enough that the little band of chums who have been nicknamed Dick
& Co. don't try to run things in the High School. You know, too,
Drayne, if you'll be honest about it, that my chums and I have
sometimes sacrificed our own wishes to what seemed to be the greatest
good of the school."
"Then who is the man who has worked to put me on the shelf in
football?" insisted the other boy, eyeing Dick menacingly.
"What are you talking about?" cried Drayne, more angry than before.
"Don't be blind, Drayne," continued the young captain. "And don't
be silly enough to pretend that you don't know just what I mean.
You remember last Thanksgiving Day?"
"Oh, that?" said Drayne, contemptuously. "Just because I wouldn't
do just what you fellows wished me to do?
"I was there," pursued Captain Prescott, "and I heard all that
was said, saw all that was done. There was nothing unreasonable
asked of you. Some of the fellows were a good bit worried as
to whether you were really in shape for the game, and they talked
about it among themselves. They didn't intend you to over hear,
but you did, and you took offense. The next thing we knew, you
were hauling off your togs in hot temper, and telling us that
you wouldn't play. You did this in spite of the fact that we
were about to play the last and biggest game of the season."
"I should say I wouldn't play, under such circumstances! Nor
would you, Prescott, had the same thing happened to you."
"I have had worse things happen to me," replied Dick coolly.
"I have been hectored to pieces, at times, both on the baseball
and football teams. The hectoring has even gone so far that I
have had to fight, more than once. But never sulked in dressing
quarters and refused to go on the field."
"No!" taunted Drayne. "And a good reason why. You craved to
get out, always, and make grand stand plays!"
"I suppose I'm as fond of applause from the grand stand as any
other natural fellow," laughed Dick good-humoredly. "But I'll
tell you one thing, Drayne: I never hear a murmur of what comes
from the grand stand until the game is over. I play for the success
of the team to which I belong, and listening to applause would
take my mind off the plays. But, candidly, what the fellows have
against you, is that you're a quitter. You throw down your togs
at a critical moment, and tell us you won't play, just because
your fearfully sensitive feelings have been hurt. Now, a sportsman
doesn't do that."
"Oh, it's all right for you to take on that mighty superior air,
and try to lecture me," retorted Drayne gruffly.
"I'm not lecturing you. But the fellows chose me to lead the
team this year, and the captain is the spokesman of the team.
He also has to attend to its disagreeable business. Don't blame
me, Drayne, and don't blame anyone else-----"
"Captain Prescott!" sounded the low, but clean-cut, penetrating
voice of Mr. Morton, submaster and football coach of the Gridley
"Coming, sir!" answered Dick promptly.
Then he added, to Drayne:
"Just blame your own conduct for the decision that was reached
by coach and myself after listening to the instructions of the
alumni Athletics Committee."
Dick moved away at a loping run, for football practice was limited
to an hour and a half in an afternoon, and he knew there was
no time to be frittered.
"Oh, you sneak!" quivered Drayne, clenching his hands as he scowled
at the back of the captain. "It was you who brought up the old
dispute. It is you who are keeping me from any decent chance
this last year of mine in the High School. I won't stand it!
I'll shake the dust from my feet on this crowd. I won't remain
in the squad, just for a possible chance to sub in some small
His face still hot with what he considered righteous indignation,
Drayne felt better as soon as he had decided to shake the crowd.
In an instant, however, he changed his mind. A sly, exultant
look came into his eyes.
"On second thought I believe I won't quit," he grinned to himself.
"I'll stay---I'll drill---and I'll get good and square with this
cheap crowd, captained by a cheap man! Gridley hasn't lost a
game in years. Well, you chaps shall lose more than one game
this year! I'll teach you! I'll make this a year that shall
never be forgotten by humbled Gridley pride!"
Just what Phin Drayne was planning will doubtless be made plain
Readers of the preceding volumes in this series are already familiar
with nearly all the people, young and old, of both sexes, whom
they are now to meet again. In the first volume, "_The High School
Freshmen_," our readers became acquainted with Dick Prescott,
Dave Darrin, Greg Holmes, Dan Dalzell, Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton,
six young chums who, back in their days in the Central Grammar
School Gridley, had become fast friends, and had become known
as Dick & Co.
These chums played together, planned together, entered all sports
together. They were inseparable. All were manly young fellows.
When they entered Gridley High School, and caught the fine High
School spirit prevailing there, they made the honor of the school
even more important than their own companionship.
In the first year at High School the boys, being mere freshmen, could
not expect to enter any of the school's athletic teams. Yet,
as our readers know, Dick and his friends found many a quiet way
to boost local interest and pride in High School athletics. Dick
& Co. also indulged in many merry and startlingly novel pranks.
Dick secured an amateur position as space reporter on "The Blade,"
the morning newspaper of the little city, and was assigned, among
other things, to look after the news end of the transactions of
the Board of Education. The "influence" that young Prescott secured
in that way doubtless saved him from having grave trouble, or
being expelled when, owing to Dr. Thornton's ill-health, Abner
Cantwell, a man with an uncontrollable temper, came temporarily
to the principal's chair. To everybody's great delight, at the
beginning of this their senior year, Dr. Thornton had returned
to his position fully restored to his former vigor and health.
In "_The High School Pitcher_" Dick & Co., then sophomores, were
shown in some fine work with the Gridley High School nine, and
Dick had serious, even dangerous, Trouble, with mean, treacherous
enemies that he made.
In "_The High School Left End_," Dick & Co., juniors, made their
real entrance into High School athletics by securing places in
the school football eleven. It was in this year that there occurred
the famous strife between the "soreheads" and their enemies, whom
the former termed the "muckers." The "soreheads" were the sons
of certain aristocratic families who resolved to secede from football
in case any of the members of Dick & Co. or of other poor Gridley
families, were allowed to make places on the team. As the group
of "soreheads" contained a few young men who were really absolutely
necessary to the success of the Gridley High School football eleven,
the strife threatened to put Gridley in the back row as far as
But Dick, with his characteristic vigor, went after the "soreheads"
in the columns of "The Blade." He covered them with ridicule
and scorn so that the citizens of the town began to take a hand
in the matter as soon as their public pride was aroused.
The "soreheads" were driven, then, to apply for places in the
football squad. Only those most needed, however, had been admitted,
and the rest had retired in sullen admission of defeat.
Two of the latter, Bayliss and Bert Dodge, carried matters so
far, however, that they were actually forced out of the High School
and left Gridley to go to a preparatory school elsewhere.
The hostile attempts of young Ripley, of Dodge, Drayne and others
to injure Dick & Co. have been fully related in the four volumes
of the "_High School Boys' Vacation Series_." This series deals
with the good times enjoyed by Dick & Co. during their first
three summers as high school boys. These stories are replete
with summer athletics, and a host of exciting adventures. The
four volumes of this Vacation Series are published under the titles:
"_The High School Boys' Canoe Club_," "_The High School Boys in
Summer Camp_," "_The High School Boys Fishing Trip_" and "_The
High School Boys' Training Hike_."
This present year no "sorehead" movement had been attempted.
Every student who honestly wanted to play football presented himself
at the school gymnasium, on the afternoon named by Coach Morton
for the call, including Drayne, who had been one of the original
"soreheads." Drayne afterwards returned to the football fold,
behaving with absurd childishness at the big Thanksgiving game,
as our readers will recall.
Leaving Coach Morton, Captain Prescott hurried away to take charge
of the practice.
"Come, Mr. Drayne!" called Coach Morton "Get into the tackling
work, and be sure to mix it up lively."
"Just a moment, coach, if you please," begged Drayne.
"Well, Drayne?" asked Mr. Morton
"Captain Prescott has just been telling me that I'm to be only
a sort of sub this year."
"Well, he's captain," replied the submaster.
"Huh! I thought it was all Prescott's fine work!" sneered Phin.
"You're wrong there, Mr. Drayne," rejoined the coach frankly.
"As a matter of fact, it was I who suggested that you be cast
for light work this year."
"Oh!" muttered Drayne
"Yes; if you feel like blaming anyone, blame me, not Prescott.
You know, Drayne, you didn't behave very well last Thanksgiving
"I admit that my behavior was unreasonable, sir. But you know,
Mr. Morton, that I'm one of the valuable men."
"There's a crowd of valuable men this year, Drayne," smiled the
"On the strongest pledge that I can give you, Mr. Morton, will
you allow me to play regular quarter-back this season?" begged
the quitter of the year before.
"I would give the idea more thought if Prescott recommended it;
but I doubt if he would," answered Mr. Morton slowly. "Personally,
Drayne, I don't approve of putting you on strong this year. The
quitter's reputation Drayne, is one that can't ever be really
lived down, you know."
Though coach's manner was mild enough, there was look of the resolute
eyes of this famous college athlete that made Phin Drayne realized
how I hopeless it was to expect any consideration from him.
"All right then Mr. Morton," he replied huskily. "I'll do my
best on a small showing, and take what comes to me."
Yet, as he walked slowly over to join the tacklers around the
swinging figure, the hot blood came again to young Drayne's face.
"I'll make this year a year of sorrow Gridley!" he quivered indignantly.
"I'll hang on, and make believe I'm meek as a lamb, but I'll
spoil Gridley's record for this year! There was in olden times
a chap who had a famous knack for getting square with people who
used him the wrong way. I wish I could remember his name at this
Drayne couldn't recall the name at the time, but another name
that might have served Drayne to remember at this instant was---
A Hint from the Girls
There had been nothing rapid in Dick Prescott's elevation to the
captaincy of the eleven.
Back in the grammar school he had started his apprenticeship in
athletics. During his freshman year in High School he had kept
up his training. In his sophomore year he had trained hard for
and had won honors in the baseball nine. In his junior year,
after harder training that ever, he had performed a season's brilliant
work, playing left end in all the biggest games of the season.
So now, in his senior and last year at Gridley High School he
had come by degrees to the most envied of all possible positions
in school athletics.
The election to the football captaincy had not been sought by
Dick. In his junior year it had been offered to him, but he had
declined it, feeling that Wadleigh, both by training and judgement,
was better fitted to lead the eleven on the gridiron. But now,
having reached his senior year, Dick was by far the best leader
possible. Coach and football squad alike conceded it, and the
Alumni Association's Athletics Committee had approved.
Dick Prescott had grown in years since first we saw him, but not
in conceit. Like all who succeed in this world, he had a good
degree of positiveness in his make-up; but from this he left out
strong self-conceit. In all things, as in his school life, he
was prepared to sacrifice himself along whatever lines pointed
to the best good.
Dave Darrin, of all the chums, was nearly as well fitted as was
Prescott to lead, though not quite. So Dave, with Dick's own
kind of spirit, fell back willingly into second place. This year
Dave was second captain of the eleven, ready to lead to victory
if Dick should become incapacitated.
Beyond these, any of the four other chums were almost as well
qualified for leadership. Ability to lead was strong in all the
"partners" of Dick & Co.
While they were on the field that afternoon all of the six worked
as though football were the sole subject on earth that interested
them. That was the Gridley High School way, and it was the spirit
that Coach Morton always succeeded in putting into worthy young
men. Once back in dressing quarters, however, and under the shower
baths, the talk turned but little on football.
As soon as they had rubbed down and dressed Dick & Co. went outside
and started back to town---on foot. Time could be saved by taking
the street car, but Dick and his friends believed that a brief
walk, after the practice served to keep the kinks out of their
joints and muscles.
"What ailed old Drayne this afternoon, Dick?" asked Tom Reade.
"Why, he told me that he had hoped to play quarter this season."
"Regular quarter?" demanded Dan Dalzell, opening his eyes very
"That was what I gathered, from what he said," nodded Dick.
"Well, of all the nerve!" muttered Hazelton.
"The star position---for a fellow with a quitter's record!"
"I was obliged to say something of the sort" smiled Dick, "though
I tried to say it in a way that wouldn't hurt his feelings."
"You didn't succeed very well in salving his feelings, if his
looks gave any indication." laughed Greg Holmes quietly.
"Drayne went over to coach afterwards," added Dave Darrin. "Mr.
Morton didn't seem to give the fellow any more satisfaction than
you did, Dick."
"Who is to be quarter, anyway?" asked Harry Hazelton.
"Why, Dave is my first and last choice," Prescott answered frankly.
"But, personally, I'm not going to press him any too hard for
"Why not?" challenged Greg.
"Because everyone will say that I'm playing everything in the
interest of Dick & Co."
"Dave Darrin is head and shoulders above any other possibility
for quarter-back," insisted Greg, with so much conviction that
Darrin, with mock politeness, turned and lifted his cap in acknowledgment
of the compliment.
"Then coach and the Athletics Committee are intelligent enough
to find it out," answered the young football captain.
"That suits me," nodded Dave. "I want to play at quarter; yet,
if I can't make everyone concerned feel that I am the man for
the job, then I haven't made good to a sufficient extent to be
allowed to carry off the honors in a satchel."
"That's my idea, Darrin," answered Dick. "I believe you have made
good, and so good at that, that I'm going to dodge any charge
of favoritism, and leave it to others to see that you're forced
to take what you deserve."
"Of course I want to play this season, and I'm training hard to
be at my best," said Reade. "Yet when it's all over, and we've
won every game, good old Gridley style, I shall feel mighty happy."
"Yes," nodded Harry Hazelton, "and the same thing here."
"That's because you two are not only attending High School, but
also trying to blaze out your future path in life," laughed Dave.
"Well, the rest of you fellows had better be serious about your
careers in life," urged Tom. "It isn't every pair of fellows,
of course, who've been as fortunate as Harry and I."
"No; and all fellows can't be suited by the same chances, which
is a good thing," replied Prescott. "For my part, I wouldn't
find much of any cheer in the thought that I was going to be allowed
to carry a transit, a chain or a leveler's rod through life."
"Well, we don't expect to be working in the baggage department
of our profession forever," protested Harry Hazelton, with so
much warmth that Dave Darrin chuckled.
Tom and Harry had decided that civil or railroad engineering,
or both, perhaps, combined with some bridge building, offered
them their best chances of pleasant employment in life.
Mr. Appleton, a local civil engineer with whom the pair had talked
had offered to take them into his office for preliminary training.
because at the High School, Tom and Harry had already qualified
in the mathematical work necessary for a start.
No practicing civil engineer in these days feels that he has the
time or the inclination to take a beginner into his office and
teach him all of the work from the ground up. On the other hand,
a boy who has been grounded well in algebra, geometry and trigonometry
may then easily enter the office of a practicing civil engineer
and begin with the tools of the profession. Transit manipulation
and readings, the use of the plummet line, the level, compass,
rod, chain and staking work may all be learned thus and a knowledge
of map drawing imparted to a boy who has a natural talent for
It undoubtedly is better for the High School boy to go to a technical
school for his course in civil engineering; yet with a foundation
of mathematics and a sufficient amount of determination, the High
School boy may go direct to the engineer's office and pick up
his profession. Boys have done this, and have afterwards reached
honors in their profession.
So Tom and Harry had their future picked out, as they saw it.
As soon as they had learned enough of the rudiments, both were
resolved to go out to the far West, and there to pick up more,
much more, right in the camps of engineers engaged in surveying
and laying railroads.
"You fellows can talk about us going to work in the baggage department
of our profession," pursued Tom Meade, a slight flush on his manly
face. "But, Dick, you and Dave are in the dream department, for
you fellows have only a hazy notion that---perhaps---you may be
able to work your way into the government academies at West Point
and Annapolis. As for Greg and Dan, they don't appear to have
even a dream of what they hope to do in future."
"You fellows haven't been spreading the news that Dave and I want
to go to Annapolis and West Point, have you!" asked Dick seriously.
"Now, what do you take us for?" protested Tom indignantly "Don't
we understand well enough that you're both trying to keep it close
As the young men turned into Main Street the merry laughter of
a group of girls came to their ears.
Four of the High School girls of the senior class had stopped
to chat for a moment.
Laura Bentley and Belle Meade were there, and both turned quickly
to note Dick and Dave. The other girls in the group were Faith
Kendall and Jessie Vance.
"Here comes the captain who is going to spoil all of Gridley a
chances this year," laughed Miss Vance.
"Hush, Jess," reproved Belle, while Laura looked much annoyed.
I see you have a wholly just appreciation of my merits, Miss Jessie,"
smiled Dick, as the boys raised their hats.
"Oh, what I said is nothing but the silly talk of him Dra-----"
began Jessie lightly, but stopped when she again found herself
under the reproving glances of Laura and Belle.
Dick glanced at one of the girls in turn, his glance beginning
to show curiosity.
Laura bit her lip; Belle locked highly indignant.
Prescott opened his month as though to ask a question, them closed
"I guess you might as well tell them, Laura," hinted Faith Kendall.
"Oh, nonsense." retorted Miss Bentley, flushing. "It's nothing
at all, especially coming from such a source."
"Then some one has been giving me the roasting that I plainly
deserve?" laughed Captain Prescott.
"It's all foolish talk, and I'm sorry the girls couldn't hold
their tongues," cried Laura impatiently.
"Then I won't ask you what it was," suggested Dick, "since you
don't like to tell me voluntarily."
"You might as well, Laura," urged Faith.
"It's that Phin-----" began Jessie.
"Do be quiet, Jess," urged Belle.
"Why," explained Laura Bentley, "Phin Drayne just passed us, and
stopped to chat when Jessie spoke to him-----"
"I didn't," objected Miss Vance indignantly. "I only said good
"I asked Drayne if he had been out to the field for practice,"
continued Laura. "He grunted, and said he'd been out to see how
badly things were going."
"Then, of course, Laura flared up and asked what he meant by such
talk," broke in the irrepressible Jessie. "Then---ouch!"
For Belle had slyly pinched the talkative one's arm.
"Mr. Drayne had a great string to offer us," resumed Laura. "He
said football affairs had never been in as bad shape before, and
he predicted that the team would go to pieces in all the strong
games this year."
"We have a rule of unswerving loyalty in the history of our eleven,"
said Prescott, smiling, though a grim light lurked in his eyes.
"I guess Phin was merely practicing some of that loyalty."
"None of us care what Drayne thinks, anyway," broke in Dave Darrin
contemptuously. "He wants to play as a regular, and he's slated
only as a possible sub. So I suppose he simply can't see how
the eleven is to win without him. But, making allowances for
human nature, I don't believe we need to roast him for his grouch."
"I didn't think his talk was worth paying any attention to," added
Laura. "I wouldn't have said anything about it, if it hadn't
Jessie took this rebuke to herself, and flushed, as she rattled
"I guess it was no more than mere 'sorehead' talk on Phin Drayne's
part, anyway. Mr. Drayne said he had saved a good deal of his
pocket money, lately, and that he was going to win more money
by betting on Gridley's more classy opponents this season."
"There's a fine and loyal High School fellow for you!" muttered
"Suppose we all change the subject," proposed Dick good-humoredly.
Two or three minutes later Dick & Co. again lifted their caps,
then continued on their way.
"Dick," whispered Dave, "on the whole, I'm glad that was repeated
"It ought to put us on our guard?"
"Guard? Against whom?"
"I should say against Phin Drayne."
"But he's merely offering to bet that we can't win our biggest
games this year," smiled Prescott. "That doesn't prove that we
can't win, does it?"
"Oh, of course not."
"Any fellow that will lower himself enough to make wagers on sporting
events shows too little judgment to be entitled to have any spending
money," pursued Prescott. "But, if Drayne has money, and is going
to bet, he won't be entitled to any sympathy when he loses, will
"Humph!" grunted Dave. "I'd like to have this matter followed
up. Any fellow who is betting against us ought not to be allowed
to play at all."
"Oh, it was just the talk of a silly, disappointed fellow," argued
Dick. "I suppose a boy is a good deal like a man, always. There
are some men who imagine that it lends importance to themselves
when they talk loudly and offer to wager money. I'm not going
to offer any bets, Dave, but I feel pretty certain that Drayne
is just talking for effect."
"His offering to bet against his own crowd would be enough to
justify you in dropping Drayne from the squad altogether," hinted
"Yes, of course," admitted Dick. "But we had enough of football
soreheads last year. Now, wouldn't it make us look like soreheads
if we took any malicious delight in dropping Drayne from the squad
just because he has been blowing off some steam?"
"But I wouldn't trust him on the job," snapped Dan Dalzell. "I
believe Phin Drayne would sell out any crowd for sheer spite."
"Even his country?" asked Dick quietly.
And there the matter dropped, for the time. Had Dick & Co. and
some other High School fellows but known it, however, Drayne
would have borne close watching.
Putting the Tag on the Sneak
Anything that Dick Prescott had charge of went along at leaps
and bounds. Hence the football eleven was in good shape ten days
earlier than Coach Morton could remember to have happened before.
"Your eleven is all ready to line up in the field, now, Captain,"
announced coach, one afternoon not long after, as the squad came
out from dressing quarters for practice.
"I'm glad you think so, sir," replied Dick, a flush of pleasure
mantling his cheeks.
"You have every man in fine condition. Condition couldn't be
better, in fact, for those of the men who are likely to get on
the actual battle line. And all the work is well understood,
too. In fact, Captain, you can all but rest on your oars during
the next fortnight, up to your first game."
"Hadn't we better go on training hard every day, sir?" inquired
the young captain.
"Not hard," replied coach, shaking his head. "If you do, you'll
get your men down too fine. Now, there's almost more danger in
having your men overtrained than in having them undertrained.
Your men can be trained too hard and go stale."
"I've heard of that," Dick nodded thoughtfully.
"Yes," continued coach, "and I've seen school teams that suffered
from training down too fine. Boys can't stand it. They haven't
as much flesh in training down hard, and they haven't as much
endurance as college men, who are older. Captain, you will train
your men lightly, three afternoons a week. For the rest, see
to it that they stick to all training orders, including diet and
hygiene and no tobacco. But don't work any of the men hard, with
an idea of getting them in still better shape. You can't do it."
"Then I'd like to make a suggestion, Coach."
"Go ahead, Captain."
"You never saw a school team, did you, sir, that understood its
signal work any too well?"
"Never," laughed Mr. Morton.
"Then I would suggest, sir, that most of our training time, from
now until the season opens, be spent on drilling in the signals.
We ought to keep at practicing the signals. We ought to get
the signals down better than ever a Gridley team had them before,
"You've just the right idea, Captain!" cried Mr. Morton heartily,
resting one hand around Dick's shoulders. "I was going to order
that, but I'm glad you anticipated me."
"Hudson," called out Prescott, "you head a scrub team. Take the
men you want after I've chosen for the school team."
Dick rapidly made his choice for the school team. He played center
himself, putting Dave Darrin at quarter, Greg Holmes as left tackle
and Tom Reade as right end. Dalzell and Hazelton were left out,
but they understood, quite well, that this was to avoid showing
favoritism by taking all of Dick & Co. on the star team for practice.
"Let me play quarter, Hudson," whispered Drayne, going over to
the acting captain of the "scrub."
"Not this afternoon, anyway," smiled Hudson. "I want Dalzell."
Drayne fell back. He was not chosen at all for the scrub team.
Yet, as he had nearly a score of companions, out of the large
football squad, he had no special reason to feel hurt. Those
who had not been picked for either team lined up at the sides.
There was a chance that some of them might be called out as subs,
though practice in signal work was hardly likely to result in
any of the players being injured.
Drayne did not appear to take his mild snub very seriously.
In fact, after his one outbreak before the team captain, and his
subsequent remarks to the girls, Drayne had appeared to fall in
line, satisfied even to be a member of the school's big squad.
The ball was placed for a snap-back, and Coach Morton sounded
"Twelve-nine-seventeen---twenty-eight---four!" called Dave Darrin.
Then the scrimmage was on in earnest. As soon as the play had
properly developed Mr. Morton blew his whistle, for this was
practice only in the signal part.
Then Hudson took the ball and Dalzell called off:
Again the ball was put in play, to be stopped after ten seconds.
So it went on through the afternoon's work. The substitutes on
the side lines watched with deep interest, for they, too, had
to learn all the signal work.
Within three afternoons of practice Dick had nearly all of his
players so that they knew every signal, and were instantly ready
to execute their parts in whatever was called for.
But there was no danger of knowing the signals too well. Captain
Prescott still called out the squad and gave signal work unceasingly.
"The Gridley boys never jumped so swiftly to carry out their signals
before, Captain," spoke Mr. Morton commendingly.
"I want to have this line of work ahead of anything that Tottenville
can show next Saturday," Dick replied.
"I guess you have the Tottenville boys beaten all right," nodded
Tottenville High School always gave one of the stiffest games
that Gridley had to meet. This season Tottenville was first on
the list. Prescott's young men knew that they had a stiff fight.
It was to take place on the Gridley grounds---that was comfort
to the home eleven.
The entire student body was now feeling the enthusiasm of the
opening of the season on Saturday.
The townsmen of Gridley had subscribed as liberally as ever to
the athletics fund. There had also been a fine advance sale of
seats, and the Gridley band had been engaged to make the occasion
a lively one.
"You'll win, if ever the signs were worth anything, Captain,"
remarked Mr. Morton to Prescott, at recess Thursday forenoon.
"Of course we'll win, sir," laughed Dick. "That's the Gridley
way---that's all. We don't know how to be whipped. I've been
taught that ever since I first entered the High School."
"Pshaw!" muttered Drayne, who was passing.
"Don't you believe our chances are good, Mr. Drayne?" asked Mr.
"I look upon the Gridley chances as being so good, sir," replied
Phin, "that, if I weren't a member of the squad, and a student
of the High School, I think I'd be tempted to bet all I could
raise on Tottenville."
"Betting is too strong a vice for boys, Mr. Drayne," replied the
submaster, rather stiffly. "And doubt of your own comrades isn't
very good school spirit."
"I was talking, for the moment, as an outsider," replied Phin
"Change around then, Mr. Drayne, and consider yourself, like every
other student of this school, as an insider wherever the Gridley
interests are involved."
Drayne moved away, a half-sneer on his face.
"I don't like that young man," muttered Mr. Morton confidentially
to the young captain of the team.
"I have no violent personal admiration for him," Prescott answered.
Then the bell sounded, calling all the boys and girls back to
At just about the hour of noon, a young caller strode into the
yard, paused an instant, studying the different entrances of the
High School building, then kept straight on and entered.
"A visitor for Mr. Prescott, in the reception, room," announced
the teacher in charge of the assembly room.
Bowing his thanks, Dick passed out of the room, crossed the hall,
entered a small room, and turned to greet his caller.
A fine-looking, broad-shouldered, bronzed young man of nineteen
rose and came forward, holding out his hand.
"Do you remember me, Mr. Prescott?" asked the caller heartily.
"I've played football against you, somewhere," replied Dick, studying
the other's face closely.
"Yes, I guess you have," laughed the other. "I played with Tottenville
last year. I'm captain this season. Jarvis is my name."
"Oh, I'm downright glad to see you, Mr. Jarvis," Dick went on.
"Be seated, won't you?"
"Yes; if you wish. Though I've half a notion that what I have
to say may bring you jumping out of your seat in a moment."
"Anything happened that you want to postpone the game?" inquired
Prescott, taking a chair opposite his caller.
"No; we're ready for Saturday, and will give you the stiffest
fight that is in us," returned Jarvis. "But see here, Mr. Prescott,
I'll come direct to the point. Is 'thirty-eight, nine, eleven,
four' your team's signal for a play around the left end, after
quarter has passed the ball to tackle and he to the end?"
Dick started, despite himself, for that was truly the signal for
"Really Mr. Jarvis, you don't expect me to tell you our signals!"
laughed Dick, pretending to be unconcerned.
But Jarvis called off another signal and interpreted it.
"From your face I begin to feel sure that I'm reeling off the
right signals," pursued the Tottenville youth. "Now, I'll get
still closer to the point, Mr. Prescott."
From an inside pocket Jarvis drew forth four typewritten pages,
clamped together and neatly folded.
"Run your eye over these pages, Mr. Prescott, or as far as you
want to go."
As Dick read down the pages every vestige of color faded from
Here was Gridley's whole elaborate signal code, laid down in black
and white to the last detail. It was all flawlessly correct,
"Mr. Jarvis," said Dick, looking up, "you've been a gentleman
in this matter. This is our signal code, signal for signal.
It's the code on which we relied for our chance to give your team
a thrashing on Saturday. I thank you for your honesty, sir."
"Why, I always have rather prided myself on a desire to do the
manly thing," smiled Captain Jarvis.
"May I ask how this came into your possession?" demanded Dick.
"It was in our family mail box, this morning, and I took it out
on my way to school," replied Jarvis. "You see, the heading on
the first sheet shows that the document purports to give the Gridley
"And it does give them, to a dot," groaned Prescott, paling again.
"So I showed it to our coach, Mr. Matthews, and to some of the
members of the team," continued Mr. Jarvis. "I would have brought
this to you, in any case, and I'm heartily glad to say that every
one of our fellows agreed that it was the only manly thing to
"You have won the Gridley gratitude," protested Dick. "This code
couldn't have been tabulated by anyone but a member of our own
squad. No one else had access to this list. There's a Benedict
Arnold somewhere in our crowd," continued Dick, with a sudden
rush of righteous passion. "Oh, I wish we could find him. But
this typewriting, I fear, will give us no conclusive evidence.
Was the address on the envelope in which this came also typewritten?"
"No," replied Mr. Jarvis. "I opened this communication on the
street, while on my way to school. I tossed the envelope away.
Then I fell to studying this document."
"You must have thought it a hoax," smiled Dick wearily.
"I did, at first, yes," continued the Tottenville football captain.
"In fact, I was half of that mind when I left Tottenville to
come here. But I was determined to find out the truth of the
matter. Mr. Prescott, I'm very nearly as sorry as you can be,
to have to bring you this evidence that you have a sneak in Gridley
"I'd far rather have lost Saturday's game," choked Prescott, "than
to discover that we've such a sneak in Gridley High School. I'm
fearfully upset. I wish I had any kind of evidence on which to
find this sneak."
"Have you any suspicions?"
"That would be too much to say yet."
"Of course, Mr. Prescott," continued the Tottenville youth, "you'll
now have to revise all your signals. It will be a huge undertaking
between now and Saturday. If you wish to postpone the game, I'll
consent. Our coach has authorized me to say this."
"I think not," replied Dick, "though on behalf of the team I thank
you. I'll have to speak to our coach, and Mr. Morton is in his
classroom, occupied until the close of the school session."
"I'll meet you anywhere, Mr. Prescott, after school is over."
"You're mighty good, Mr. Jarvis," murmured Dick gratefully. "Now,
by the way, if we're to catch the sneak who has done this dastardly
thing, we've got to work fast. We ought not to let the traitor
suspect anything until we're ready to act. Mr. Jarvis, do you
mind leaving here promptly, and going to 'The Morning Blade' office?
If you tell Mr. Pollock that you're waiting for me, he'll give
you a chair and plenty to read."
"I'm off, then," smiled Jarvis, rising and reaching for his hat.
"I want to shake hands with you, Jarvis, and to thank you again
for your manly conduct in bringing this thing straight to me."
"Why, that's almost insulting," retorted Jarvis quizzically.
"Why shouldn't an American High School student be a gentleman?
Wouldn't you have done the same for me, if the thing had been
"Of course," Dick declared hastily. "But I'm glad that this fell
into your hands. If we had gone into the game, relying on this
"We'd have burned you to a crisp on the gridiron," laughed Jarvis.
"But what earthly good would it do our school to win a game that
we got by clasping hands with a sneak and a traitor? Can any
school care to win games in that fashion? But now, I'm off for
'The Blade's office---if your Mr. Pollock doesn't throw me out."
"He won't," Dick replied, "I'm a member of 'The Blade' staff."
"Don't go back into assembly room with a face betraying as much
as yours does," whispered Captain Jarvis, over his shoulder.
"Thank you for the tip," Dick responded.
When young Prescott stepped back into the general assembly room
his face, though not all the color had returned to it, wore a
smiling expression. He stepped jauntily, with his head well up,
as he moved to his seat.
For fifteen minutes or more Dick made a pretense of studying his
trigonometry hard. Then, picking up a pen with a careless gesture,
he wrote slowly, with an appearance of indifference, this note:
_"Dear Mr. Morton: Something of the utmost importance has come
up in connection with the football work. Will you, without mentioning
this note, and without doing anything that can sound the warning
to any other student, meet me at 'The Blade' office as soon as
possible after school is dismissed? I shall go to 'The Blade'
office just as soon as I get away from here, and I shall await
you in the greatest anxiety.
This note Dick carried forward and left on the general desk.
It was addressed to Mr. Morton, and marked "immediate."
When the reciting classes returned, and the teachers followed,
Mr. Morton read his note without change of expression.
A moment later school was dismissed.
"In a hurry, Dick?" called Dave, racing after his leader as the
young men made a joyous break away from the school building.
"Yes," breathed Prescott. "Come along, Dave. But I don't want
the others, for I don't want a crowd."
"Quiet, now, old fellow," murmured Dick. "You'll have a big enough
surprise in a few moments."
They got away together before their other chums had a chance
to catch up.
"From the look in your face, I'd say that there was something
queer in the air," guessed Dave.
"There is, Darrin. But wait until the moment comes to talk about it."
Walking rapidly, the two chums came to "The Blade" office. Jarvis,
who had been sitting at the back of the office, rose as the two
Gridley boys entered. Dick quietly introduced Dave to the young
man from Tottenville who greeted him cordially.
"Now, we're waiting for one more before we talk," smiled Dick
At that moment the door opened again, and Mr. Morton entered briskly.
"Now, Captain, what is your news?" called coach, as he came forward.
"Why, this is one of the Tottenville team, isn't it?"
"Mr. Morton, Captain Jarvis, of the Tottenville High School team,"
replied Dick, and the two shook hands.
Then Dick drew the typewritten document from his pocket. They
could talk here, for Mr. Pollock had been the only other occupant
of the room, and that editor has just stepped out to the composing
"Captain Jarvis received this in the mail this morning, sir,"
announced Prescott, in a voice that quivered with emotion.
Coach glanced through the paper, his face showing plainly what
he felt. Then Dick took the paper and passed it to Dave Darrin,
who sat consumed by curiosity.
"The abominable traitor---whoever he is!" cried Dave, rising
as though he found his chair red hot. "And I think I can come
pretty near putting the tag on the sneak!"
The Traitor Gets His Deserts
Mr. Morton hesitated a moment, ere he trusted himself to speak.
"Yes," he murmured. "I fear we all suspect the same young man."
"Phin Drayne!" cried Dave, in a voice quivering with anger.
"I didn't intend to name him," resumed the coach. "It's a serious
thing to do."
"To sell out one's school---I should say 'yes'!" choked Darrin.
"No; I meant that it is a fearful thing to accuse anyone until
we have proof that can't be disputed," added Mr. Morton gravely,
though his muscles were twitching as though he had been stricken
"Listen," begged Dick, "while Mr. Jarvis tells you all he knows
of this dastardly business."
The Tottenville captain repeated his short tale. Then Coach Morton
asked several rapid questions. But there was no more to be told
than Dick Prescott already knew.
"I'm tremendously sorry about that envelope," protested Jarvis.
"I'd give anything to be able to hand that envelope over to you,
but I'm afraid I'll never see it again."
"We appreciate your anxiety to help, Mr. Jarvis, as deeply as
we appreciate your manliness in coming to us without an instant's
delay," replied Mr. Morton, earnestly.
At this moment the office boy entered with the mail sack.
"Mr. Pollock!" he bellowed, tossing the sack down on the editor's
desk. Then the office boy hurried to the rear of the building,
intent on other duties.
Mr. Pollock returned to his desk, opening the mail. The football
folks in the further corner lowered their voices almost to whispers.
"Letter for you, Dick," called Mr. Pollock, tossing aside an envelope.
Excusing himself, Dick darted over to get his mail. In an instant
he came back, with a flushed face.
"Here's something that may interest you all," whispered Dick,
shaking as though fever had seized him.
Mr. Morton took the sheet of paper, from which he read:
_"Dear Old Gridleyites: If the enclosed is a fake, it won't work.
If there's really a traitor in your camp you ought to know it.
Milton High School doesn't take any games except by the use of
its own fair fighting devices.
Milton High School
"And here's a duplicate set of our signals, returned by our Milton
friends," went on Dick, with almost a sob in his voice. "Fortunately,
Mr. Decker thought to preserve the envelope that contained our
signal code. Here is the envelope, addressed in some person's
Coach Morton seized the envelope, staring at it hard. He studied
it with the practiced eye of a school teacher accustomed to overlooking
examination papers in all styles of handwriting.
"The writer has tried to conceal his handwriting," murmured the
coach, rather brokenly. "Yet I think we may succeed in tracing
it back and fixing it on the sender."
"Oh!" growled Dave Darrin savagely. "I believe I know on whom
to fasten this handwriting right now."
"I have a possible offender in mind," replied Mr. Morton more
evenly. "In a case of this kind we must proceed with such absolute
caution and reserve that we will not be obliged to retract afterwards
in deep shame and humiliation."
"I think I've done all that I can, gentlemen," broke in Mr. Jarvis.
"I think it is my place, now, to draw out of this painful business,
and leave it to you whom it most concerns. But I am happy in
the thought that I have been able to be of some service to you.
I will now state that I am authorized to offer to postpone Saturday's
game, if you wish, so that you may have time in, which to train
up under changed signals."
"If you consent, sir," proposed Dick, turning to the coach, "we'll
go on with Saturday's game just the same. There has been a big
sale of tickets, the band has been engaged, and a good many arrangements
made that will be expensive to cancel."
"Can you do it?" asked Mr. Morton, looking doubtfully at thee
young captain of the team. "It's Thursday afternoon, now."
"I feel that we've got to do it, sir," Dick replied doggedly.
"Yes, sir; we'll make it, somehow."
So the matter was arranged. The Gridleyites followed Jarvis out
to the sidewalk, where they renewed their assurances of regard
for the attitude taken by Tottenville High School. Then Jarvis
hurried away to catch a train home.
"Now, young gentlemen," proposed Mr. Morton, "we'll go home and
see whether we can engender the idea of eating any lunch, after
this unmasking of villainy in our own crowd. But at half past
two promptly to the minute, meet me at the High School. Remember,
we've practice on for half past three."
"Of all the mean, contemptible-----" began Darrin, after the submaster
had left them.
"Stop right there, Dave!" begged his chum. "This is the most
fearful thing we've ever met, and we both want to think carefully
before we trust ourselves to say another word on the shameful
So the two chums walked along in silence, soon parting to take
their different ways home.
At half-past two both chums met Mr. Morton at the High School.
The submaster led the way to the office, producing his keys and
unlocking the door. They had moved in silence so far.
"Take seats, please," requested Mr. Morton, in a low voice. "I'll
be with you in a moment."
The submaster then stepped over to a huge filing cabinet. Unlocking
one of the sections, he looked busily through, then came back
with a paper in his hand.
"I think I know whom you both suspect," began coach.
"Phin Drayne," spoke Dick, without hesitation.
"Yes. Well here is Drayne's recent examination paper in modern
literature. It is, of course, in his own handwriting."
Eagerly the two football men and their coach bent over to compare
Drayne's handwriting with that on the envelope that had come back
"There has been an attempt at disguise," announced Mr. Morton,
using a magnifying glass over the two specimens of writing. "Yet
I am rather sure, in my own mind, that a handwriting expert would
pronounce both specimens to have been written by the same hand."
"We've nailed Drayne, then," muttered Darrin vengefully.
"It looks like it," assented Mr. Morton. "However, we'll go slowly.
For the present I'll put this examination paper with our other
'exhibits' and secure them all carefully in my inside pocket.
Now, then, let us make our pencils fly for a while in getting
up a revised code of signals."
It was not a long task after all. From the two typewritten copies
Dick copied the first half of the plays, Dave the latter. Then
Coach Morton went over the new sheets, rapidly jotting down new
figures that should make all plain.
"Ten minutes past three," muttered coach, thrusting all the papers
in his inside pocket and buttoning his coat. "Now, we'll have
to take a car and get up to the field on the jump."
"But, oh, the task of drilling all the new calls into the fellows
between now and Saturday afternoon!" groaned Dave Darrin, in a
tone that suggested real misery.
"We'll do it," retorted Captain Dick. "We've got to!"
"And to make the boys forget all the old calls, so that they won't
mix the signals!" muttered Dave disconsolately.
"We'll do it!"
It was Coach Morton who took up the refrain this time. And it
was Prescott who added:
"We've got to do it. Nothing is impossible, when one must!"
It was just twenty-five minutes past three when the coach and
his two younger companions turned around the corner of the athletic
grounds and slipped in through the gate.
Most of the fellows were in the dressing quarters.
Phin Drayne sat on the edge of a locker chest. One of his feet
lay across the knee of the other leg. He was in the act of unlacing
one of his street shoes when Coach Morton called to him.
"Me?" asked Phin, looking up quickly.
"Yes," said Mr. Morton quietly. "I want to post you about something."
"Oh, all right; right with you, sir," returned Phin, leaping up
and following the coach outside.
"What is it?" asked Phin, beginning to feel uneasy.
"Come along where the others can't hear," replied Mr. Morton,
taking hold of Drayne's nearer elbow.
Phin turned white now. He went along, saying nothing, until Mr.
Morton halted by the outer gate.
"Pass through, Drayne---and never let us see your face inside
this gate again."
"But why? What----"
"Ask your conscience!" snapped back the coach. "You'd better
travel fast! I'm going back to talk to the other fellows!"
Mr. Morton was gone. For an instant Phin Drayne stood there as
though he would brave out this assertion of authority. Then,
seized by another impulse, he turned and made rapidly for a town-bound
street car that was heading his way.
"What's up?" asked two or three of the fellows of Dick Prescott.
Perceiving something out of the usual, they spoke in the same
"Oh, if there's anything to tell you," spoke Prescott, suppressing
a pretended yawn, "Mr. Morton may tell you----some time."
But Mr. Morton was soon back. Knocking on the wall for attention,
he told, in as few and as crisp sentences as he could command,
the whole story, as far as known.
"Now, young gentlemen," wound up the coach, "we must practice
the new signals like wild fire. There's mustn't be a single slip
not a solitary break in our game with Tottenville. And that game
will begin at three-thirty on Saturday!
"In reverting to Drayne, I wish to impress upon you all, with
the greatest emphasis, that this must be treated by you all with
the utmost secrecy until we are prepared, with proofs, to go further!
If it should turn out that we're wrong in our suspicions, we'll
turn and give Phineas Drayne the biggest and most complete public
apology that a wronged man ever received."
"All out to practice the new signals!" shouted Prescott, the
young captain of the team.
"Brass" for an Armor Plate
Thursday night and Friday morning more copies of the betrayed
signals poured in upon Captain Dick.
Wherever these signals had been received by captains of other
school teams, it soon appeared, these captains of rival elevens
had punctually mailed them back. It spoke volumes for the honor
of the American schoolboy, for Gridley High School was feared
far and wide on the gridiron, and there was not an eleven in the
state but would have welcomed an honorable way of beating Prescott's
Moreover, working on Dick's suggestion, Mr. Morton busied himself
with securing several letters that had been received from Drayne's
These letters were compared, Friday evening, with the copies of
the signals that had been sent to other elevens. Under a magnifying
glass these collected papers all exhibited one fact that the letters
and the copies of the signal code had been struck off on a machine
having the same peculiarities as to worn faces of certain types.
It was thus rather clearly established that Phin Drayne must
have used the typewriting machine that stood in his father's office.
Drayne was not at school on Friday. Instead, an excuse of illness
was received from him.
Nor did Mr. Morton say anything to Dr. Thornton, the principal,
until the end of the school week.
Just after school had been dismissed, at one o'clock Friday afternoon,
Mr. Morton called Dr. Thornton to the private office, and there
laid before him the charges and the proofs.
That fine old gentleman was overwhelmed with grief that "one of
his boys" should have done such an utterly mean, wanton and dishonorable
"This can't be passed by, Mr. Morton," exclaimed Dr. Thornton
brokenly. "If you will kindly leave the proofs in my hands, I
will see that the whole matter is taken up officially."
Friday afternoon the football squad met for more practice with
the new signals. Friday evening each young man who was scheduled
as being even likely to play the next day studied over the signals
at home, then, under orders, burned his copy of the code. Saturday
morning the squad met for some more practice, though not much.
"I believe all of us are in trim now, sir," Captain Prescott reported
to the coach. "I am rather sure all of our men know the new signals
by heart, and there'll be no confusion. But, of course, for the
first game, the old snap of our recent practice will be missing.
It has been a hard blow to us."
"If we have to lose to-day's game," muttered Mr. Morton, "I'll
be almost satisfied to lose it to Tottenville, after the manly
and straightout conduct of Mr. Jarvis!"
"That same line of thought would make us content to go through
a losing season, for all the fellows in other towns who received
that betrayed code sent the information right back to us," smiled
Prescott. "But we're not going to lose to-day's game, Mr. Morton,
nor any other day's. Drayne's treachery has just about crazed
the other fellows with anger. They'll win everything ahead of
'em, now, just for spite and disgust, if for no better reason."
"Sometimes anger serves a good purpose," laughed Mr. Morton.
"But it was pitiful to look at poor old Dr. Thornton yesterday
afternoon. At first I thought he was going to faint. He seemed
suddenly to grow ten years older. It cut him to the quick. He
loves every one of his boys, and to have one of them go bad is
just as painful to him as to see his own son sent to the penitentiary."
"Is Dr. Thornton coming to the game this afternoon, sir?"
"Yes; he has never missed one yet, in any year that he has been
principal of Gridley High School."
"Then we'll make that fine old American gentleman feel all right
again by the grand game that we'll put up," promised Dick vehemently.
"I'll pass the word, and the fellows will strain themselves to
the last drop."
Orders were issued to the gate tenders to throw Drayne out if
he presented himself at the gate.
Drayne did put in an appearance, and he got through the gate to
a seat on the grand stand, but it was no fault of the gate tenders.
Drayne had spent some of his spare money at the costumer's. With
his trim, rather slim figure Phin Drayne made up rather well as
a girl. He wore black---mourning throughout, perhaps in memory
of his departed honor---and a heavy veil covered his face. In
this disguise Drayne sat where he could see what would happen.
At the outset it was Gridley's kick off, and for the next ten
minutes Tottenville had the ball, fighting stubbornly with it.
But at last, when forced half way down the field between center
and its own goal line, Gridley blocked so well in the three following
plays that the pigskin came to the home eleven.
Dick bent over, holding the ball for the snapback, while his battle
front formed on each side of him.
Dave Darrin, quarter-back, raced back a few steps, then halted,
looking keenly, swiftly over the field.
Phin Drayne drew his breath sharply. Then his heart almost stopped
beating as he listened.
"Thirty-eight---nine---eleven---four!" sounded Darrin's voice,
sharp and clear.
"That's the run around the left end!" throbbed Phin Drayne.
But it wasn't. A fake kick, followed by a cyclonic impact at
the right followed.
"They've changed the signals!" gulped the guilty masquerader behind
the black veil. "Then they've found out."
With this came the next disheartening thought:
"That's the reason, then, why the coach ordered me out of the field
Thursday afternoon. Morton is wise. I wonder if he has told it
Gridley High School was doing some of its brilliant, old-style
play now. Prescott was proving himself an ideal captain, quick-witted,
full of strategy, force, push and dash, yet all the while displaying
the best of cool judgment in sizing up the chances of the hard
But that which Phin Drayne noted most of all was that every signal
used had a different meaning from that employed in the code he
had mailed to the captains of the other school teams.
"It was all found out, and Gridley wasn't hurt," thought Phin,
gnashing his teeth. "Good luck always seems to follow that fellow
Prescott! Can't he be beaten? We shall see! Prescott, my fine
bully, I'm not through with you yet."
The first half ended without either side scoring. Impartial onlookers
thought that perhaps formidable Tottenville had had rather the
better of it, but no one could tell with certainty which was the
When neither side scores in the first half that which remains
to be determined is, which side will show the bigger reserve of
vitality in the second half.
And now the ball was off again, with twenty-two men pursuing and
fighting for it as though the fate of the nation hung on the result.
Dick, too, soon had things moving at a gait that had all Gridley
standing up and boosting with all the powers of lungs, hands and
All that remained to interest Phin Drayne was to discover whether
his late comrades had sufficiently mastered their new signals
not to fail in their team work.
Once in the second half there was a brief fluster. Two Gridley
men went "woozy" over the same signal. But alert Dave Darrin
rushed in and snatched a clever advantage out of momentary confusion.
After that there was no more confusion. Gridley took the game
by a single touchdown, failing in the subsequent kick for goal.
Five minutes later time expired.
Feeling doubly contemptible now, and sick at heart, Phin Drayne
crawled weakly down from the grand stand. He made his way out
in the throng, undetected. He returned to the costumer's, got
off his sneaking garb and donned his own clothing, then slipped
away out through a back door that opened on an alleyway.
Not until Sunday afternoon did Drayne yield to the desire to
get out of doors. His training life had made outer air a necessity
to him, so he yielded to the desire. But he kept to back streets.
Just as luck would have it, Drayne came suddenly face to face
with Dr. Thornton.
The good old principal had a fixed belief which followed the practice
of American law, to the effect that every accused man is innocent
until he has been proved guilty.
In addition, the doctor had recovered a good deal from his first
depression. Therefore he was able to meet this offending pupil
as he would want to under the circumstances.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Drayne," was Dr. Thornton's courteous greeting.
"It is beautiful; weather to be out, isn't it?"
"It is a perfect day, sir," Drayne replied.
Once he had gotten past the principal the young wretch gave way
to his exultation.
"No charge has been made, then," he told himself gloatingly.
"If I had been denounced, the Prin. could hardly have been as
gracious. Well, hang it all, what are charges going to amount
At the High School Monday morning, both before school and at recess,
the members of the football squad cut Drayne dead.
"They suspect me, but they can't prove anything, anyway," chuckled
the traitor to himself. "Brass, Phin, my boy! Brass! That is
bound to win out when the clodhoppers can't prove a blessed thing."
As none of the students outside of the squad showed any especial
inclination to cut him, Phin felt almost wholly reassured.
"It would be libelous, anyway, if the gang passed around a word
that they couldn't prove," chuckled Drayne. "So I guess those
that may be doing a heap of thinking will have caution enough
to keep their mouths shut, anyway,"
That afternoon, after luncheon, Phin Drayne took a long tramp
over country roads at the back of the big town. It was five o'clock
when he returned.
"Here's a note for you, on High School stationery," said Mrs.
Drayne, putting an envelope in her son's hand. "It came some
Something warned the fellow not to open the envelope there. He
took it to his room, where he read the letter. It was from Dr.
Thornton, and said only:
_"You are directed to appear before the Board of Education at
its stated weekly meeting to-night. This is urgent, and you are
warned not to fail in giving this summons due heed."_
In an instant Phin was white with fear. His legs trembled under
him, and cold sweat stood out on his neck, face and forehead.
For some moments the young man acted as though in danger of collapse.
Then he staggered over to the tap at his washbowl, and gulped
down a glass of water. He paced the room restlessly for a long
time, and finally went over and stood looking out of the window.
"Young man," he said to himself severely, "you've got to brace,
and brace hard. If you haven't any nerve, then getting square
is too strenuous a game for you? Now, what can that gang prove?
They can suspect, and they can charge, but my denial is fully
as good as any other man's affirmation. Go before the Board of
Education? Of course I will. And I'll make any accuser of mine
look mighty small before that august board of local duffers!"
Brave words! They cheered the young miscreant, anyway. Phin
ate his supper with something like relish. Afterwards he set
out for the High School building, in which the Board had its offices.
Nor did his courage fail him until he had turned in through the
A young man, whistling blithely, came in behind him. It was Dick
Prescott, erect of carriage, and brisk and strong of stride, as
becomes a young athlete whose conscience is clear and wholesome.
"Hullo, Prescott, what are you doing around here to-night?" hailed
But Dick seemed not to have heard. Not a note did he drop in
the tune that he was whistling. Springing up the steps ahead,
Dick vanished behind the big door.
"Oh, of course he goes here to-night," thought Phin, with sudden
disgust. "Prescott scribbles for 'The Blade' and the Board of
Education is one of his stunts each week."
One of the Fallen
For a few moments Drayne hung about outside, irresolute. Then
his native shrewdness asserted itself.
"Not to go in, after having been seen here in the yard would be
to confess whatever anyone wants to charge," muttered Phin. "Of
course I'll go in. And I'll just stand there and look more and
more astounded every time that anyone says anything. Brass,
Phin---brass! Oh, I'd like to see anyone down me!"
So, with all the swagger he could put on, this young Benedict
Arnold of the school stepped into the Board room. As he entered,
the clerk of the Board hastened toward him.
"Step into this anteroom at the side, Mr. Drayne, until you're
called," the clerk directed. "There will be some routine business
to be transacted first. Then, I believe, the Board has a few
questions it desires to ask you."
Left by himself, the young man began to be a good bit frightened.
He was brave enough in matters requiring only physical courage.
But in this instance the culprit knew that he had been guilty
of a contemptibly mean act, and the knowledge of it made a moral
coward of him.
"What are they doing? Trying to sentence, me to solitary confinement?"
wondered the young man, when minute after minute went by without
any call for him. In the Board room he could hear the droning
"And that Dick Prescott is out there, sitting at a reporter's
table, ready to take in all that happens," muttered Phin savagely.
"Won't he enjoy himself, though?"
At last it seemed to Phin as though a hush fell over those in
the next room. But it was only that voices had been much lowered.
Then a door opened, the clerk looking in and calling:
"Mr. Drayne, will you come before the Board now?"
Phin passed into the larger apartment. Seated in one chair was
Dr. Thornton; in another chair Mr. Morton. And Dick Prescott
was there, but gathering up his writing materials as though about
The chairman waited in silence until Prescott had passed out of
the Board room. After the clerk had closed the door the chairman
"The Board is now in executive session. Dr. Thornton, we will
listen to the matter which we understand you wish to bring before
us for consideration."
Composedly Dr. Thornton stepped to the edge of the table, standing
there, resting his left hand on the table as he began to speak.
In simple words, without any visible emotion, the High School
principal stated what he understood of the receipt of copies of
the football signal code by the captains of rival football elevens.
Next Mr. Morton took the stand, so to speak, and went much more
into detail. He told what the reader already knows, producing
several of the copies returned by the honorable captains of other
Then Mr. Morton put in evidence, with these copies of the code,
copies of business letters received from Drayne's father, and
presumably written on the Drayne office machine.
"If you examine these exhibits, gentlemen, I think you will agree
that the betrayed code and the business letters were written on
one and the same machine. The use of the magnifying glass makes
it even more plain."
Then Mr. Morton sat down.
"Now, young Mr. Drayne, what have you to say?" demanded the presiding
"Why should I say anything, sir?" demand Drayne, with an impudent
assumption of swaggering ease.
"Then you admit the truth of the charges, Mr. Drayne?"
"I do not."
"Then you must really have something to say."
"I have heard a charge made against me. I am waiting to have
"Do you admit," asked the presiding officer, "that these copies
of the code were written on your father's office machine?"
"I do not, sir. But, if it be true, is that any proof that I
made those copies of the signal code? Is it argued that I alone
have access to the typewriter in my father's office. For that
matter, if I have an enemy in the High School and I must have
several---wouldn't it be possible for that enemy, or several of
them, to slyly break into my father's office and use that particular
This was confidently delivered, and it made an undoubted impression
on at least two or three members of the Board. But now Mr. Morton
broke in, quietly:
"I thought some such attempt as this might be made. So I waited
until I saw what the young man's line of defense might be. Here
is an envelope in which one of the copies was received by the
captain of a rival football team. You will note that the sender,
while understanding something about the use of a type machine,
was plainly a novice in directing an envelope on the typewriter.
So he addressed this envelope in handwriting. Here is the envelope
in question, and here is one of Mr. Drayne's school examination
papers, also in his own handwriting. I will ask the members of
the Board to examine both."
There was silence, while the copies passed from hand to hand,
Drayne losing color at this point.
"Be brassy!" he whispered to himself. "You'll pull through, Phin,
"I am sorry to say, Mr. Drayne, that the evidence appears to be
against you," declared the chairman slowly.
"It may, sir," returned the boy, "but it isn't conclusive evidence."
"Have you anything more to say, Mr. Morton?" asked the chairman,
looking at the submaster.
"Plenty, Mr. Chairman, if the Board will listen to me."
"Proceed, Mr. Morton."
The football coach thereupon launched into a swiftly spoken tirade
against the "brand of coward and sneak" who would betray his school
in such a fashion. Without naming Phin, Mr. Morton analyzed the
motives and the character of such a sneak, and he did it mercilessly,
although in the most parliamentary language. Nor did he look
toward the boy, but Phin was squirming under the lash, his face
alternately red or ghastly.
"For such a scoundrel," continued Mr. Morton, "there is no hope
greater than the penitentiary! He is fit for nothing else. Such
a traitor would betray his best friend, or his country. Such
a sneak would be dead to all feelings of generosity. The smallest
meannesses must envelop his soul. Why, sir, the sender of these
copies of the signal code was so mean, so small minded, so sneaking
and so utterly selfish"---how Phin squirmed in his seat!---"that,
in sending the envelopes through the mail he was not even man
enough to pay full postage. Four cents was the postage required
for each envelope, but this small-souled sneak, this ungenerous
leech actually made the receivers pay half of the postage on 'due-postage'
"I didn't!" fairly screamed red-faced Phin, leaping up out of
his chair. "I stuck a four-cent stamp on each envelope myself!
Of a sudden he stopped in his impetuous burst of language. A
great hush fell in the room. Phin felt himself reeling with a
"Then," demanded Mr. Morton, in a very low voice, his face white,
"why did you deny having sent out these envelopes containing the
copies of the code?"
There was a shuffling of feet. Two or three of the Board laughed
"Oh, well!" burst almost incoherently from the trapped boy. "When
you employ such methods as these you make a fellow tell on himself!"
All his 'brass' was gone now. He looked, indeed, a most pitiable
object as he stood there, his lower jaw drooped and his cheeks
"I think you have said about all, Mr. Drayne, that it is necessary
for you to say," interposed the chairman. "Still, in the interest
of fair play we will allow you to make any further statements that
you may wish to make. Have you anything to offer?"
"No!" he uttered, at last, gruffly.
At a sign from the chairman the clerk stepped silently over, took
Phin by one elbow, and led him to the door. Phin passed on out
of the building, stumbling blindly. He got home, somehow, and
In the morning, however, even a sneak is braver.
"What can they do to me, anyway?" muttered Phin, as he dressed.
"I didn't break any of the laws of the state! All anyone can
do is to cut me. I'll show 'em all how little I care for their
So it was not wholly in awe that Phin Drayne entered the general
assembly room the next morning, a few minutes before opening time.
Several of the students greeted him pleasantly enough. Phin
was quick to conclude that the news had not leaked anyway, beyond
the members of the football squad.
Then came the opening of the session. The singing books lay on
the desks before the students. Instead, however, of calling out
the page on which the morning's music would be found, Dr. Thornton
held his little gavel in his hand, after giving a preliminary
rap or two on his desk.
"I have something to say to the students of the school this morning,"
began Dr. Thornton, in a low but steady voice. "It is something
which, I am happy to state, I have never before been called upon
"One of the most valuable qualities in any man or woman is loyalty.
All of us know, from our studies in history and literature, many
conspicuous and noble examples of loyalty. We have also, in our
mind's eye, some examples of the opposite qualities, disloyalty
and treachery. Outside of sacred history one of the most conspicuous
examples of betrayal was that of Benedict Arnold."
Every boy and girl now had his eyes turned fixedly on the old
principal. Outside of the football squad no student had any idea
what was coming. Phin tried to look wholly unconscious.
Dr. Thornton spoke a little more on the meanness of treachery
and betrayal. Then, looking straight over at the middle of the
third aisle on the boys' side of the room, the principal commanded:
"Mr. Drayne, stand by your desk!"
Phin was up, hardly knowing how he accomplished the move. Every
pair of eyes in the room was focused on him.
"Mr. Drayne," continued the principal, and now there was a steely
glitter of contempt in the old man's eyes, "you were displeased
because you did not attain to as high honors on the football eleven
as you had hoped. In revenge you made copies of the code signals
of the team, and mailed a copy to the captain of nearly every
team against which Gridley High School is to play this year."
There came, from all parts of the room, a gasp of incredulous
"Your infamy, your treachery and betrayal, Mr. Drayne, were
traced back to you," continued the principal. "You were forced
to admit it, last night, before the Board of Education. That
Board has passed sentence in your case. Mr. Drayne, you are found
utterly unfit to associate with the decent manhood and womanhood
to be found in the student body of this High School. By the decision
of the Board you are now expelled from this school. You will
take your books and belongings and leave instantly. You will
never presume to enter through the doors of this school again.
From Phin came an angry snarl of defiance. He tried to shout
out, to tell the principal and his late fellow students how little,
or less than little, he cared about their opinions.
But the words stuck in his throat. Ere he could try again, a
hiss arose from one quarter of the room. The hiss grew and swelled.
Phin realized, though he dared not look about him any longer,
that the hissing came as much from the girls as from the boys.
Drayne did not attempt to bend over his desk. Instead, he marched
swiftly down the half of the aisle, then past the platform toward
"Mr. Drayne," called Dr. Thornton, "you have not taken your books,
or paper or other desk materials."
"I leave them, sir," shouted Phin, above the tumult of hissing,
"for the use of some of your many pauper students."
Then he went out, slamming the door after him. He darted down
to the basement, then waited before the locker door until one
of the monitors came down, unlocked the door, and allowed Phin
to get his hat. But the monitor never looked at him, or spoke.
Once out of the building, Phin could keep back the choking sob
and tears no longer. Stealing down a side street, where he would
have to pass few people, Phin gave way to his pent-up shame.
Yet in it all there was nothing of repentance. He was angry
with himself---in a fiendish rage toward others.
Afterwards, he learned that the books and other contents of his
desk were burned in the school yard at recess, to the singing
of a dirge. But, even for the purpose of making a bonfire of
his books the students would not touch the articles with their
hands. They coaxed the janitor to find a pair of tongs, and with
this implement Phin's books and papers were conveyed to the purifying
Behind the door in the privacy of his own room Phin Drayne shook
his fist at the surrounding air.
"I have one mission in life, now, anyway!" raged the boy. "I've
got some cruel scores to pay. You, Dick Prescott, shall come
in for a large share of the payment! No matter how long I have
to wait and plan, or what I have to risk, you shan't get away
Dick Meets the Boy-with-a-Kick
Evil thoughts can never be cherished, day after day, without leading
the more daring or brutal into some form of crime.
Phin, the first three or four times he tried to appear on Main
Street, was "spotted" and hissed by High School boys.
Even the boys of the lower schools heard the news, and took up
the hissing with great zest.
So Phin was forced to remain indoors during the day, which drove
him out by night, instead.
Had he been older, and known more of human nature, he would have
known that the hissing would soon die out, and thereafter he would
meet only cold looks.
At home, be sure Phin was not happy. His mother, a good woman,
suffered in silence, saying little to her son.
Phin's father, a hard-headed and not over scrupulous man of business,
looked upon the incident of expulsion as a mere phase in life.
He thought it "would do the boy good, and teach him to be more
Gridley met Milton High School and scored another victory, Milton
taking only two points on a safety that Gridley was forced to
And now the game with Chester was looming up ahead. It was due
for the coming Saturday.
Three times a week, Dick Prescott had his squad out for drill
and practice, though he was careful to follow Mr. Morton's suggestion
not to get the young men trained down "too fine."
Early one evening in mid-week, Dick sat at his desk in "The Blade"
office, "grinding out" some local copy. He was in a hurry to
finish, for he was due to be in bed soon. Every member of team
and squad was pledged to keep early hours of retiring on every
night but Saturday.
In another chair, near by, sat Dave Darrin, who dropped in to
speak with his chum, and was now waiting until they could stroll
down Main Street together.
"I've just thought of something I want to do, Dick," muttered
Dave suddenly. "I'll jump out and attend to it, now. Walk down
Main Street, when you're through, and you'll run into me."