Part 2 out of 4
Prescott, nodding, went on with his writing, turning out page
after page. Then he rose, placing the sheets on News Editor Bradley's
"I'm pretty sure you'll find it all right, Mr. Bradley," declared
Dick. "Now, I must get home, for I'm due in bed in half an hour."
"Training and newspaper work don't go well together," laughed
the news editor. "However, your football season will soon be
over. This time next year you'll be through with High School,
and I hope you'll be with us then altogether."
"I don't know about that, Mr. Bradley," smiled Dick, picking up
his hat and starting for the door. "But I do know that I like
newspaper work mighty well. When a fellow is writing for a paper
he seems to be alive all the time, and right up to the minute."
"That youngster may come to us for a while, after he gets out
of High School," called Mr. Pollock, across the room, after Prescott
had, gone out. "But he won't stay long on a small daily. A youngster
with all his hustle is sure to pull out, soon, for one of the
big city dailies. The country towns can't hold 'em."
Dick went briskly down the street, whistling blithely, as a boy
will do when he's healthy and his conscience is clear.
A block below another boy, betraying the hang-dog spirit only
too plainly, turned the corner into Main Street.
It was Phin Drayne, out for one of his night walks. Fearing that
he might be insulted, and get into a fight with some one, Drayne
had armed himself with one of his father's canes. The stick had
a crook for a handle.
Prescott caught a glimpse of the other boy's face; then he turned
away, hastening on.
"I'm not even worth looking at," muttered Phin to himself.
Just as Dick went past, Phin seized the cane by the ferule end,
and lunged out quickly.
The crook caught neatly around one of Dick's ankles just as the
foot was lifted.
Like a flash Prescott went down. One less nimble, and having
had less training, might have been in for a split kneecap. But
Dick was too much master of his body and its movements. He went
down to his hands, then touched lightly on his knees.
Phin laughed sneeringly as Dick sprang up, unhurt.
"Keep out of my way, after this---you less-than-nothing!" muttered
Dick between his teeth. "I don't want to have to even hit a thing
"You'll show good judgment, Mr. Big-head, if you don't try it,"
jeered Drayne, menacing Dick with the cane.
The color came into Dick's face. Leaping forward, with all the
adroitness of the born tackler, he caught that cane, just as it
descended, and wrenched it out of Phin Drayne's cowardly, hand.
Crack! Dick broke it in two across his knee, then tossed the
pieces into the street.
"You'll never be able to do anything better than a sneaky act,"
muttered Dick contemptuously, turning to walk on.
With a smothered cry Phin Drayne leaped forward to strike Prescott
down from behind.
Dick was around again like a flash, one fist striking up the arm
with which the sneak had aimed his blow.
"Stand off, and keep away," advised Prescott coldly.
"I won't; I'll thrash you!" hissed Phin.
There was nothing for Dick to do but put up his guard, which he
did with great promptness. Drayne danced around him, seeking
a good point at which to close in.
Prescott had no notion of fighting; neither did he propose to
take an assault meekly.
"Look out!" yelled Drayne, suddenly rushing in.
"Certainly," mocked Prescott coolly.
He shot up Phin's arm as easily as could have been desired. With
his right he parried another blow.
"Get out of this, and go about your business," advised Dick sternly.
"Think I'll take any orders from you?" snarled Phin. "I'll-----"
He continued to crowd in, hammering blows. Dick parried, but
did not attempt to retaliate. The truth was, he felt secretly
sorry for the fellow who had fallen as low as Phin.
But Drayne was no coward physically, when his blood was up. It
drove him to fever heat, now, to see how easily the captain of
the football team repulsed him.
"I'll get your wind going, and then I'll hammer you for fair!"
"Mistake there, somewhere," retorted Dick coolly.
But Drayne was coming in, harder and harder. Dick simply had
to do something. So, after he had parried more than a score of
blows the young football captain suddenly took a springy step
forward, shot up Phin's guard, and landed a staggering blow on
the nose. Phin began to reel. Dick hit him more lightly on the
chest, yet with force enough to "follow up" and send to his knees.
"Here, what's this?" called a voice, and a heavy hand seized Dick
by the collar behind, pulling him back.
It was Heathcote Drayne, Phin's father, a powerful man, who now
Phin was quickly upon his feet and start forward.
From across the street sounded a warning cry, followed by footsteps.
"Now, I've got you!" cried Phin exultantly. He struck, and landed,
on Dick's cheek.
"Stop that, Phin!" shouted his father, without letting go of Dick's
collar, however. Phin, however, instead of obeying, aimed another
blow, and would have landed, had not another figure bounded in
and taken the blow, next hurling Phin back against a brick wall.
It was Len Spencer, "star" reporter of "The Blade," who had thus
interfered. And now Dave Darrin was dancing in front of Heathcote
"Let go of Prescott! What sort of fair play is this?"
"Mind your own business!" ordered Mr. Drayne. "I'm stopping a
Not an instant did impulsive Darrin waste in arguing the matter.
He landed his fist just under Heathcote Drayne's left eye, causing
that Heathcote to let go of Dick in a hurry.
"You young scoundrel!" glared Mr. Drayne, glaring at Dave.
"Opinions may differ as to who the scoundrel is," retorted Dave
unconcernedly. "My own notions of fair play are against holding
one of the parties in a fight so that the other may hammer him."
"I'll have you arrested for this assault," stormed Mr. Drayne,
applying a handkerchief to the bruised spot under his eye. "Both
you and Prescott---your ruffian friend for assaulting my son.
"Go ahead and do it," retorted Dave. "As it happens, your son
did all the assaulting, and Prescott, who didn't care about fighting
with such a thing, only defended himself. We saw it all from
across the street, but we didn't come across to interfere until
we had to."
"I'll take some of your impudence out of you in the police court,"
insisted Mr. Drayne.
"Yes, I would, if I were you," broke in Len Spencer coolly. "I
saw this whole business, too, and I'll take pleasure in testifying
against you both. Mr. Drayne, you didn't see the start of this
thing, and I did. But you, at least, know that your son is a
moral leper kicked out of the High School because he was not decent
enough to associate with the other students. I wouldn't be surprised
if he gets some of his bad qualities from you, sir"
"You'll sing a different tune in court," asserted Heathcote Drayne
"So will you," laughed Len Spencer. "By the way, I see a policeman
down the street. If you want to prefer a charge, Mr. Drayne,
I'll blow my police whistle and bring the officer here."
Spencer took a whistle from his pocket, moving it toward his lips.
"Do you want the officer!" challenged the reporter.
But Mr. Drayne began to see the matter in a somewhat different
light. He knew much about the nature of his son, and here were
two witnesses against him. Besides, one was a trusted staff writer
for the local paper, and the whole affair was likely to result
in a disagreeable publicity.
"I'll think this all over before I act," returned Mr. Drayne stiffly,
as he took his son by one arm. "Come along, Phin."
As the Draynes moved away each held a handkerchief to his face.
"I don't think much of fighting, and I don't like to do it,"
muttered Darrin, who was beginning to cool down. "But if Heathcote
Drayne had had to do more fighting when he was younger he might
have known how to train that cub of his to be more of a man."
Dick Puts "A Better Man" in His Place
Of course Dick heard no more from the Draynes. He didn't expect
that he would.
Phin, however, was noticed no more on the streets of the little
city. Then, in some way, it leaked out that his father had sent
him to a military boarding school where the discipline was credited
with being very rigid.
"I guess papa has found that his little boy was none too much
of an angel," laughed Dave Darrin when discussing the news with
The first four games of the season went off successfully for Gridley,
though all were hard battles in which only fine leadership and
splendid team work by all saved the day.
Two of these games had been played on the home grounds, two away
from home. The fifth game of the season was scheduled to be played
on the home grounds. The opponent for this game was to be Hallam
Heights High School. The Hallam boys were a somewhat aristocratic
lot, but not snobbish, and the Gridley young men looked forward
to an exciting and pleasant game. It was the first game ever
played between Gridley and Hallam Heights. Coach Morton talked
about the strangers one rainy afternoon in the gymnasium.
"I believe you're going to find yourselves up against a hard
proposition," declared coach slowly "These young men attend a High
School where no expense is spared. Some of the wealthy men of the
town engage the physical director, who is one of the best men in
his class. Speight, who was at college with me, is engaged in
addition as the football coach. I remember Speight as one of the
cleverest and most dangerous men we had at college. He could think
up a whole lot of new field tricks overnight. Then again, most of
the Hallam Heights boys are young fellows who go away for athletic
summers. That is, they are young fellows who do a lot of boating,
yachting, riding, tennis, track work, and all the rest of it.
They are young fellows who glory in being in training all the
year around. Speight writes me that he thinks he has the finest,
strongest and most alert boys in the United States."
"We'll whip them, just the same," announced Dick coolly.
"Gridley will, if anyone can---I know that," agreed Mr. Morton.
"You've won all four games that you've played this season. Hallam
Heights has played five games and won them all. The Hallam youngsters
are out to capture the record that Gridley has held for some time
that of capturing all the games of the season."
"Bring 'em on!" begged Darrin. "I wish we had 'em here to play
just as soon as the rain lets up."
"Don't make the mistake of thinking that, because the Hallam boys
have rich fathers, they're dudes, who can't play on wet ground,"
laughed Mr. Morton.
"If Hallam sends forth such terrors," grinned Dick, rising from
the bench on which he had been sitting, "then we must get in trim
for 'em. Come on, fellows; some of the light speedy exercises.
I'll work you up to all the speed you can take care of, this
For the next ten minutes Dick was as good as his word. Then,
after a brief breathing spell, Prescott ordered his men to the
running track in the gallery.
"Three laps at full speed, with a two-minute jog between each
speed burst, and a minute of breathing between each kind of running,"
called out Dick.
Then, after he had seen the fellows started, he turned to the
"If I never learned anything else from you, Mr. Morton, I think
I've wholly absorbed the idea that no man is in condition unless
he can run well; and that nothing will make for condition like
"As to what you've learned from me, Captain Prescott," replied
the coach, "I fully believe that you've learned all that I have
to teach. I wouldn't be afraid to go away on a vacation and leave
the team in your hands."
"Him!" smiled Dick. "Without you to back me up, Mr. Morton, I'm
afraid some of the fellows might kick over the traces."
"They wouldn't kick over but once," laughed the coach. "The first
time any fellow did that you'd drop him from the team. And the
fellows know it. I haven't noticed the young men attempting to
frisk you any."
"I know whom you mean," replied the submaster, his brow clouding.
"But he got out of the team, didn't he?"
"Yes; but I didn't put him out."
"You would have put him off the team if it had been left for you
to do it."
As soon as he thought the squad had had enough exercise to keep
them in tone, Dick dismissed them.
"But every one of you do his level best to keep in condition all
the time until we get through with Hallam Heights," urged the
young captain. "That applies, too, not only to team members,
but to every man in the squad. If the Hallam fellows are swift
and terrific, we can't tell on whom we may have to pounce for
This was to be a mid-week game, taking place Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday morning word reached school that Hudson, who was down
to play right guard, and Dan Dalzell, right end, were both at
home in bed, threatened with pneumonia. In each case the doctor
was hopeful that the attack would be averted, but that didn't
help out the afternoon's game any.
"Two of our prize men out," muttered Dick anxiously to Dave at
"And it's claimed that misfortunes always travel by threes," returned
Darrin, half mournfully.
"Don't!" shivered Prescott. "Let us off with two misfortunes."
Afternoon came along, somewhat raw and lowering. Rain might prevent
the game. Less than three quarters of the people who bought seats
in advance appeared at the grounds. The sale of spot seats was
not as brisk by half as it would have been on a pleasanter day.
But the Hallam Heights boys came along early, bounding and full
of fun and dash.
They were a fine-looking lot of boys. The Gridley youngsters
took to their opponents instantly.
"I wonder what's keeping Dick?" muttered Dave Darrin, half anxiously,
in dressing quarters.
"Anyway, we won't worry about him until we have to," nodded Mr.
Morton. "Our young captain is about the promptest man, as a rule,
in the whole squad."
"That's just why I am uneasy," grunted Dave.
Hardly had he spoken when Dick Prescott came in---but limping
And what a rueful countenance the young captain of the team
"Suffering Ebenezer, man, but what has happened?" gasped Dave.
All the other Gridley youngsters stopped half way in their togging
to listen for the reply.
"Nothing much," grunted Dick. "Yet it came near to being too
much. A man bumped me, as I was getting on the car, and drove
me against the iron dasher. It was all an accident, due to the
man's clumsiness. But it barked my knee a good bit."
"Let me see you walk about the room," ordered Coach Morton. He
watched closely, as Dick obeyed.
"Sit down, Prescott, and draw the trousers leg off on that side.
I want to examine the knee."
While Mr. Morton went to work the other members of the team crowded
about, anxiety written on all their faces.
"Does it hurt more when I press?" asked the submaster keenly.
"Ah, I thought so! Prescott, you're not badly hurt for anything
else; but your knee is in no shape to play this afternoon!"
A wail of dismay went up from the team members. The rueful look
in Dick's face deepened.
"I was afraid you'd bar me out," he confessed. "I never felt
so ashamed in my life."
"It wouldn't be of any use for you to play, for that knee wouldn't
stand it in any rough smash," declared the coach, shaking his
"It's all off with us, then," groaned one of the fellows. "We may
as well ask Hallam if they'll allow us to hand 'em a score of six
to nothing on a platter, and then stay off the field."
"Hush your croaking, will you?" demanded Dave Darrin angrily,
glaring about him. "Is that the Gridley way? Do we ever admit
defeat? Whoever croaks had better quit the team altogether."
Under that rebuke the boy who had ventured the opinion shrank
"You're sure I'll be in no shape to go on, Coach?" asked Dick
"Why, of course you could go on," replied Mr. Morton. "And you
could run about some, too, unless your knee got a good deal stiffer.
But you wouldn't be up to Gridley form."
"Have I any right to go on, with a knee in this shape?" queried
"You certainly haven't," replied Mr. Morton, with great emphasis.
"Dave," called the young football chief, "you're second captain
of the team. Get in and get busy. Put up the best fight you
can for old Gridley!"
"Aye, that I will," retorted Dave Darrin, his eyes sparkling,
cheeks glowing. "I'll go in like a pirate chief, and I'll break
the neck of any Gridley man who doesn't do all there is in him
"Listen to the fire eater," laughed Fenton. Dave grinned
good-humoredly, but went insistently:
"All right. If any of you fellows think I take less than the
best you can possibly do, try it out with me."
Then Darrin came over to rest a hand on Prescott's shoulder.
"Dick, you'll give me any orders you have before we go on, and
between the halves, won't you?"
"Not a word," replied Dick promptly. "Dave, you can lead as well
as ever I have done. If you're going to be captain to-day you'll
be captain in earnest. I'll hamper you neither with advice nor
With so important a player as Dick Prescott out of the team Dave
had a hard task in rearranging the eleven. In this he sought
direction from Mr. Morton. Rapidly they sketched the new line-up.
Darrin himself would have to drop quarterback and go to center.
For this latter post Dave was rather light, but he carried the
knack of sturdy assault better than any other man in the team
Tom Reade was called to quarter. Shortly afterwards all the details
had been completed.
"As to style, you'll gather that from the signals," muttered Darrin.
"The only rule is the one we always have---that we can't be beat
and we know we can't."
There came a rap at the door. Then a bushy mop of football hair
was thrust into the doorway.
"Talking strategy, signals or anything we shouldn't hear?" asked
the pleasant voice of Forsythe, captain of the Hallam Heights
"Not a blessed thing," returned Dave. "Come in, gentlemen."
Captain Forsythe, in full field toggery, came in, followed by
the members of the visiting team, all as completely attired for
"We're really not intruding?" asked Forsythe, after he had stepped
into the room.
"Not the least in the world," responded Dave heartily. "Mr. Forsythe.
let me introduce you to Mr. Morton, our coach, and to Mr. Prescott,
the real captain of this tin-pan crowd of pigskin chasers."
"Oh, I mistook you for Prescott," replied Forsythe, as he acknowledged
"No; I'm Darrin, the pewter-plate second captain---the worst you've
got to fear to-day," laughed Dave, as he held out his hand.
"Why---what----anything happened?" asked Captain Forsythe, looking
"Captain Prescott has had his knee injured, and two of our other
crack men are in bed, sick," replied Mr. Morton cheerfully. "Otherwise
we're all quite well."
"Your captain and two other good men out?" asked Forsythe in real
sympathy. "That doesn't sound fair, for we came over here prepared
to put up the very best we had against you old invincibles. I'm
"Captain Forsythe, we all thank you for your sympathy," Dick
answered, "but Captain Darrin can lead at least as well as I
can. I believe he can do it better. As for the team that we're
putting in the field to-day, if you can beat it, you could as
easily beat anything we could offer at any other time. So, as
far as one may, with such courteous opponents as you are, Gridley
hurls back its defiance and throws down the battle gage! But
play your very best team, Captain Forsythe, and we'll do our
best in return."
Could Dave Make Good?
Dave Darrin, a good deal disheveled and covered with soil and
perspiration on his face and neck, came striding in after time
had been called on the first half.
Dave's generalship had kept Hallam Heights from scoring, but Gridley
hadn't put away any points, either.
"You saw it all from the side lines, Dick?" Dave asked, as the
chums, arm in arm, strolled into dressing quarters.
"What are your instructions for the second half."
"I haven't any."
"Your advice, then?"
"I haven't any of that, either. Dave, any fellow who can hold
those young human cyclones back as you've done doesn't need any
pointers in the game."
"But we simply couldn't score against them," muttered Darrin.
"So I know there's something wrong with my leadership. What
"Nothing whatever, Darrin. It simply means that you're up against
the hardest line to get through that I've ever seen Gridley tackle.
Why, yesterday I was looking over the record of these Hallam
boys, and I find that they've already whipped two college second
teams. But you'll get through them in the next Dave, if there's
any human way of doing it. So that's all I've got to say, for
I'm not out there on the gridiron, and I can't see things from
the side line the same as you can on the ten-yard line. Perhaps
Mr. Morton may have something to offer."
But the coach hadn't.
"You're doing as well as any man of Gridley could do, Darrin,"
the submaster assured the young second captain. "Of course, with
Prescott at center, and yourself jumping around as quarter-back
the team would be stronger. But in Prescott's enforced absence,
I don't see how you can play any point of the line more forcefully
than you've been doing."
But Dave, instead of looking puffed up, replied half dejectedly:
"I was in hopes you could both show me where I'm weak."
"You're not weak," insisted Coach Morton.
"That throws me back on thinking hard for myself," muttered Darrin.
Where a weaker man would have been pleased with such direct praise
Dave felt that he was not doing his duty because he had not been
able to lead as brilliantly as Dick had done in earlier games.
"Brute strength isn't any good against these Hallam fellows,"
Darrin told himself, as he returned to the field. "They're all
A-1 athletes. Even if Gridley played a slugging game, it wouldn't
bear these Hallam boys down. As to speed and scientific points,
they seem to be our masters. Whatever we do against them, it
must be something seldom heard of on the gridiron something that
will be so brand new that they can't get by it."
Yet twice in the half that followed Gridley barely escaped having
to make a safety to save their goal line. Each time, however,
Dave wriggled out of it.
When there were but seven minutes left neither team had scored.
Gridley now had the ball for snap-back at its own twenty-five-yard
The most that home boosters were hoping for now was that Gridley
would be able to hold down the game to no score.
Dave had been thinking deeply. He had just found a chance to
mutter orders swiftly.
Fenton, little, wiry and swift, was to-day playing at left end,
the position that Dick himself had made famous in the year before.
"Eighteen---three--eleven---seven---nine!" called Tom Reade, crisply.
The first four figures called off the play that Gridley was to
make, or to pretend to make. But that nine, capping all at the
end, caused a swift flutter in Gridley hearts. For that nine,
at the end of the signal, called for a fake play.
Yet the instant that the whistle trilled out its command every
Gridley player unlimbered and dashed to the position ordered.
Only three men on the team understood what was contemplated.
Coach Morton, from the side lines, had looked puzzled from the
moment that he heard the signal.
Dick Prescott, eager for his chum's success, as well as the team's,
stood as erect as he could beside Mr. Morton, trying to take in
the whole field with one wide, sweeping glance.
As Tom Reade caught the ball on its backward snap, he straightened
up, tucking the ball under his left arm and making a dash for
Gridley's right end.
Immediately, of course, Hallam rushed its men toward that point.
Yet the movements of Gridley's right wing puzzled the visitors.
For all of Dave's right flankers dashed forward, making an effective
Surely, reasoned Captain Forsythe, Tom Reade didn't mean to try
to break through by himself with the pigskin.
That much was a correct guess. Tom didn't intend anything of
All in a flash Reade, as prearranged, dropped the ball, punting
Up it went, soaring obliquely over Gridley's left flank and far
Just a second before the ball itself started, little Fenton had
put himself in motion. By the time that the ball was in the air
Fenton was past Hallam's line and scorching down the field.
Now Forsythe and every Hallam man comprehended all in a flash.
Fenton had caught the ball with a nicety that brought wild whoops
from the Gridley boosters, now standing on their seats and waving
the Gridley colors.
"That little fellow looks like a streak of light," yelled one
The description wasn't a bad one. Fenton was doing some of the
finest sprinting conceivable. Before him nothing menaced but
big Harlowe, Hallam's fullback. Harlowe, however, was hurling
himself straight in the impetuous way of little Fenton.
It looked like a bump. There could be but one result. Fenton
would have to go down to save the ball.
Harlowe reached out to tackle.
Fenton came to a quivering stop, just out of reach. Then, almost
instantly, the little left end dashed straight forward again.
But the move had been enough to fool Harlowe. Of course, he assumed
that Fenton would spring to one side. Harlowe imagined that it
would be a dodge to the left, and Harlowe leaped there to tackle
But Fenton, actually going straight ahead, fooled the calculation
of his powerful adversary and got past on the clever trick.
Harlowe dashed after his sly opponent. But Fenton, still almost
with his first big breath in his lungs, was running as fast as
ever. A man of Harlowe's size was no one to send after a greased
mosquito like Fenton.
So nothing hindered. Amid the wildest, noisiest rooting, Fenton
stepped it over Hallam's now undefended goal line, reached down
and pressed the pigskin against the earth for a touchdown.
On the grand stand the noise was deafening. The whistle sounded
and the flushed players of both teams came back to range up for
the kick from field. Dave, his cheeks glowing, took the kick.
He sent a clean one that scored one more point for Gridley.
The cheering and the playing of the band still continued when
the two elevens again lined up for play during the last five minutes
of the game. The referee was obliged to signal to the leader
to stop his musicians.
Forsythe looked hot and weary. His expectation of an easy victory
had come to naught. Unless he and ten other Hallam boys could
work wonders in five minutes.
But they couldn't and didn't. The time keeper brought the game
to a close.
"Gridley has handed us six to nothing," muttered Forsythe, as
he led his disheartened fellows from the field. "That puts us
with the other second-rate teams in the state."
"A great lot of orders you needed, didn't you?" was Captain Dick
Prescott's happy greeting as Dave met him beyond the side lines.
"You won that game for us, just the same," retorted Dave.
"I?" demanded Dick, in genuine amazement.
"Yes; you, and no one else."
"You refused to give me a hint. You threw me down hard, on my
own resources. I saw all those hundreds of people demanding that
Gridley win," retorted Dave. "What could I do? I had to make
the fellows do something like what they've been doing under Dick
Prescott, or confess myself a dub. I couldn't lean on a word
from you, Dick. So you fairly drove me into planning something
that would either carry off the game or make us look like chromos
of football players. You wouldn't say a word, Prescott, that
would take any of the blame on yourself! So didn't you force
me to win!"
"That's ingenious, but not convincing," retorted Dick, as the
two chums stepped into dressing quarters. "To tell you the truth,
Dave, I think a good many people now believe that you ought to
be the regular captain."
But Darrin only grinned. He knew better.
Some of the fellows tried to praise Fenton to his face.
"Quit! You can't get away with that," chuckled the fast little
left end. "Some one had to take that ball and drop it behind
Hallam's goal line. I was the one who was ordered to do it.
If I hadn't, what would you fellows have said about me?"
By the time that the Hallam Heights young men were dressed several
of them came to the Gridley quarters, Forsythe at their head.
"We want to shake hands," laughed Forsythe, "and to make sure
that you have no hard feelings for what we tried to do to you."
Dick and Darrin took this in laughing goodfellowship.
"If you call this your dub team to-day," continued Forsythe, a
bit more gloomily, "we shudder to think what would have happened
to us had you put in your regular line-up."
"There isn't any dub team in Gridley," spoke Dick quickly. "All
of our fellows are trained in the same way, by the same coach,
and we stake all our chances on any line-up that's picked for
the day. It was hard on you, gentlemen, that my knee put me out
for the day. Darrin is twice as crafty as I am."
"Oh, Darrin is crafty, all right," agreed Forsythe cheerfully.
"But, somehow, I like him for it."
On some of the side streets Gridley boys were allowed to light
bonfires that evening, and there was general rejoicing of a lively
nature. From the news that had come over concerning the Hallam
Heights team there had been a good deal of fear that Gridley
would, on this day, receive a set-back to its rule of always
Leading the Town to Athletics
"Mr. Morton, we want a little word with you."
"All right---anything to please you," laughed the submaster, looking
at Dick and Dave as they came up to him in the yard at recess.
"We've been thinking over a plan," Dick continued.
"It has something to do with athletics, then!" guessed the submaster.
"Yes, sir," nodded Dave.
"High School athletics, at that," continued Mr. Morton.
"There you're wrong, sir, for once," smiled Prescott. "Mr. Morton,
we've been thinking of the High School gym. It's a big place.
Pretty nearly three hundred gymnasts could be drilled there at
"Yes; I know."
"There's a fine lot of apparatus there," went on Dick. "It cost
thousands and thousands of dollars to put that gym. in shape."
"And it's worth every dollar of the cost," contended Mr. Morton
"Mr. Morton," challenged Dick, "who paid for it?"
"The city government," replied the submaster.
"Where did the city government get the money?"
"From the citizens, of course."
"Now, Mr. Morton," went on Prescott, "how many of the citizens
get any direct benefit out of that gym.? Only about a quarter
of a thousand of High School students! Couldn't the city's money
be spent so that a far greater number would have the use of and
benefit from the city's big investment!"
"Why," replied the submaster, looking puzzled, "the youngsters
in the lower schools have their needs provided for, in some way,
in their own school buildings."
"True," agreed Dick. "But what of the small army of clerks and
factory employees of Gridley? Aren't they citizens, even if they
haven't the time to attend High School? Haven't our smaller business
fry a right to the health and good spirits that come out of gymnastic
and athletic work? Haven't our typewriters, our salesgirls and
factory girls a right to some of the good things from the gym.?
Aren't they all citizens, and isn't the gym. their property as
much as it's anyone else's!"
"Excellent," nodded Mr. Morton. "But how do you propose to get
them interested in the use of their property, even if the Board
of Education will permit it?"
"The willingness of the Board of Education can be dropped out
of sight," argued Dick. "The Board is the servant of the people,
and must do what the people want. What Dave and I want to see
is to have the High School gym. turned over to the young working
people of the city in the evening time. Say, two evenings a week
for young men and two evenings for the young women. We believe
it will result in big gains for Gridley. When you put new life
and brighter blood into the toilers, it increases the wealth of
the whole city, doesn't it?"
"I declare, I think it ought to," replied Mr. Morton. "But see
here, how are two boys---or, let us say, two boys and a
submaster---going to bring about any such result as this?"
"By presenting it properly through the leading daily of Gridley,"
replied Prescott, with great promptness.
"Have you received any assurance that Mr. Pollock, of 'The Blade,'
will be for this big scheme of yours?" asked Mr. Morton.
"When we've explained it all, I don't see how he can help being
for it," rejoined Prescott. "If 'The Blade' takes hold and booms
this idea, day in and day out, it won't be very long before evening
gym. classes will be filled to overflowing. And the Board of
Education would have to give way before the pressure."
Then Dave took hold of the subject for a while, talking with great
earnestness. Mr. Morton listened with increasing interest.
"I think, boys, that you've hit upon an idea that will be of great
service to our city," remarked the submaster. "Yet what put all
this into your heads!"
"Why, sir, it's our last year at the High School," replied Dick,
smiling though speaking with great earnestness. "After four years
of the fine training we've had here, Dave and I feel that it's
our place to do something to leave our mark behind. We've been
talking it all over, and we've hit upon this idea. Will you stand
by us in it?"
"Why, yes; all that I can, you may be sure. But just what do
you boys expect me to be able to do!"
"Why, help us form the plans and back us up in them. You are
really the leader in school athletics in this town, Mr. Morton,"
explained Prescott. "I can quote you in 'The Blade' as to the
benefits that would result in giving gym. training to workers
who can't attend High School. And, in the spring, after a winter
in the gym., young men and women could form outdoor squads for
running and other outside training. Altogether, sir, we think
we might make Gridley famous as a place where all who possess
any real energy go in to keep it up through public athletics.
And such classes of young men and women could have the use of
our athletics field."
By the time that recess was over the submaster certainly had enough
thoughts to keep him busy.
That afternoon Dick and Dave took Mr. Morton around to "The Blade"
office. Right at the outset Mr. Pollock jumped at the idea.
"Prescott," he cried, "you've sprung a big idea. 'The Blade'
will feature this idea for days to come. You may have a column,
or a column and a half every day, and 'The Blade' will also back
it up on the editorial page. Now, go ahead and get your stuff
in shape. Above all, have interviews with prominent men, especially
employers, setting forth the benefit that ought to come to the
young people and to the city at large. Take as your keynote the
idea that the city's duty is just as great to provide physical
education as it is to supply learning out of textbooks. You'll
know how to go ahead on that line, Prescott."
By the next day Gridley had something new to talk about. By the
time three days had passed the matter was being discussed with
Employers saw, and said that the time young men spent in a gym.
would not be spent in billiard rooms or other resorts of a harmful
or useless character. Young women who went to the gym. would
be home and in bed early, instead of staying up most of the night
at a dance. All who entered the gym. classes would begin to think
about their bodily condition and plan to improve it. Improved
bodies meant a better grade of work and increased pay.
Dick wrote splendidly on the subject. "The Blade," editorially,
gave Dick & Co. full credit for springing the idea. The Board
of Education, at its next meeting, authorized the superintendent
of schools to throw the High School gym., open evenings for the
purpose indicated. It also voted Mr. Morton an increase of pay
on condition that he take charge of the evening gym. classes for
young men. One of the women teachers was granted a like increase
for assuming charge of the evening gym. classes for young women.
Dick Prescott, on behalf of the High School boys, guaranteed that
the most skilled in athletics among the High School boys would
be on hand to aid in training the young men, and in getting up
sports and games for the gym. in winter, and for the athletic
field in the spring.
As soon as the classes were opened they were crowded to their
utmost capacity. All of the younger portion of Gridley seemed
suddenly anxious to go in for athletics.
"Prescott and his well-known comrades of the High School appear
to be leading in the very vanguard of athletics this year," stated
"The Blade" editorially.
Dick and his friends could not, however, give as much aid to the
new scheme now as they intended to do later. They were in the
middle of the football season, and that had to be carried through
first of all.
Yet it was a big evening for Dick, Dave and their chums when the
High School gym. was thrown open for the forming of the gymnastic
class for young men.
Almost three hundred presented themselves for enrollment. Scores
of the leading citizens were also on hand to see how the new plan
would take. Among these latter was Herr Schimmelpodt, the retired
contractor, who was always such an enthusiastic booster for High
"I tell you, Bresgott, it vos a fine idea of yours," cried the
big German, as he stood in a corner, looking on, while Dick talked
with him. "This vill keep young folks out of drouble, and put
dem in health. It vill put Gridley to being twice as good a town,
"Hullo, Mr. Schimmelpodt," called a young clerk, passing in trunks
and gym. shoes. "Don't you get into a squad to-night? This would
do you a lot of good."
"Maype, if I go in for dis sort of thing, I crowd out some young
mans who needs it as much as you do," retorted the German, blinking.
"But don't you think you need it, also" laughed the clerk?
"Now, led me see," pondered the German. "Young man, you think
you gan run?"
"I know I can," laughed the clerk, leaping lightly up and down
on his soft gym. shoes.
"I yonder if you could reach dot door ofer dere so soon alretty
as I gan?" queried Herr Schimmelpodt.
"Will you run me a race?" grinned the clerk.
"Vell, you start, und ve see apout it."
Tantalizingly, the clerk started. Then he glanced back over his
shoulder. There was a great noise on the floor of the gym. Herr
Sclhimmelpodt had started. He was so big that he made a good
deal of noise when he traveled. But he was going like a streak,
and the clerk began to sprint in earnest.
It was all in vain, however. With a few great bounds Herr Schimmelpodt
was close enough to reach out one of his big arms and lay hold
of the fleeing clerk. That clerk stopped suddenly, with a jolt.
"Vy don't you go on running, ain't it?" demanded Herr Schimmelpodt.
A crowd formed about them.
The reason why the clerk didn't continue his running was a very
good one. One of the German's big hands encircled the clerk's
thin arm like a bracelet of steel. The clerk struggled, but he
might as well have tried to break out of irons.
"You vant me to bractise running, so dot I gan catch you, eh?"
grunted the German. "You vant me to eat breakfast sawdust for
a dyspepsia vot I ain't got, huh? You vant me to dake breathing
eggsercises ven I can dake more air into my lungs, alretty, dan
your whole body gan disblace? You vant me to do monkey-tricks
mit a dumb-pell, yen I gan do things like dis?"
Suiting the action to the word, Herr Schimmelpodt grasped the
clerk by one shoulder and one thigh. Up over his head the German
raised the unhappy young man. Herr Schimmelpodt's arms fell and
rose as he "exercised" with the young man for a wand.
Everything in the gym. had stopped. All eyes were on this novel
performance. Roars of laughter greeted some new stunts that Herr
Schimmelpodt performed with his human wand. The great German
was the only one who seemed unconscious of the hurricane of laughter
that he was causing.
At last the German put his victim back on the floor.
"Yah, young mans, I am much oblige dot you show me how I need
eggsercise. I feel much better alretty."
Red-faced, the clerk fled to the other side of the room, followed
by the laughter of the other gymnasts.
Yet Herr Schimmelpodt's good-natured performance had great value.
It taught many of the young men present how far this generation
has fallen behind in matters of personal strength. Mr. Morton
had easier sailing after that.
The "King Deed" of Daring
"Yes; that performance helped a lot."
Herr Schimmelpodt was prevailed upon, by Mr. Morton, to come around
on another evening to show some further feats with his great strength.
Around the waist-line the German was flabby; the fat rolled in
heavy ridges. Feeling aware of this defect in personal appearance
Herr Schimmelpodt determined to devote some of his abundant leisure
to getting his belt line into smaller compass. But the German
would not do this before all eyes in the public, gym. So he and
some other well-to-do business men who were conscious that the
years had dealt too generously by them in the matter of flesh,
hired a small hall and converted it into a private gym.
It was all the doings of Dick & Co., just the same.
The town was ripe, now, for performances in extraordinary athletics.
Fate willed it that there should be a chance.
Once a year an opera company of considerable prominence appeared
at Gridley for one evening.
Whenever this evening came around, it was made the occasion for
a big time in local society. The women of the well-to-do families
turned out in their most dazzling finery.
This year "Lohengrin" was to be sung at the local opera house.
Dick could have obtained, at "The Blade" office, free seats for
Dave and himself for this Friday night. But they were still in
close training, and there was a game on for the afternoon of the
day following. For that reason nine o'clock found both of the
young men in bed and asleep.
Near the opera house the street was thronged with carriages.
Carriage after carriage drove up and discharged its load of handsomely
dressed women and their more severely attired escorts. All of
Gridley that could attend the opera were in evening dress.
During the evening a half gale of wind sprang up. While all was
light and warmth inside, outside the wind howled harder and harder.
By the time that the music lovers began to pour out, the blast
Leaning on the arm of her escort, as her carriage drove up to
the door, one beautifully gowned woman stepped out. Over her
hair was thrown a black, filmy scarf in which nestled a number
of handsome diamonds.
Just as she reached the curb, but before she could step into the
waiting carriage, this woman gave a shriek of dismay.
The gale had caught at her diamond-strewn head-covering. Like
a flash that costly creation was caught up from her hair and borne
on the wind.
Others standing by saw the costly thing whisked obliquely up into
the air. It was still ascending on the blast when it passed
out of the range of vision.
"O-o-o-oh! My beautiful jeweled scarf!" sobbed the woman hysterically.
The crowd quickly formed about her. She was recognized as Mrs.
Macey, the wife of a wealthy real estate operator.
"It was careless not to have it fastened more securely, but it's
no use to cry over what can't be helped now, my dear," replied
her husband. "Get into the carriage and I'll see if any trace
can be found of the scarf."
Still sobbing, Mrs. Macey was helped into the carriage. Then
Mr. Macey enlisted the help of the bystanders.
In every direction the street was searched. The fronts of the
buildings opposite were examined; the gratings in the sidewalk
were peered through. But there was no trace, anywhere, of the
"It will be worth two hundred and fifty dollars for anyone to
find it and return it to me," shouted Mr. Macey. That scattered
the searchers more widely still. Presently a woman friend drove
home with Mrs. Macey, while her husband remained to push the search.
He kept at it until two o'clock in the morning, half a hundred
men and boys remaining in the search.
Then Mr. Macey gave it up. The gaudy, foolish trifle was worth
about five thousand dollars. As the night wore on Mr. Macey began
to have a pessimistic notion that perhaps some one had found the
scarf but had been too "thrifty" to turn in such a precious article
for so small a reward.
"I guess it may as well be given up," sighed Mr. Macey, after
two in the morning. "I'm going home, anyway."
The readers of "The Blade" that crisp October morning knew of
Mrs. Macey's loss.
There was much talk about the matter around the town. People
who walked downtown early that morning peered into gutters and
down through sidewalk gratings. Then, at about seven o'clock
a sensation started, and swiftly grew.
One man, glancing skyward, had his attention attracted to something
fluttering at the top of the spire of the Methodist church, more
than half a block away from the opera house. It was fabric of
some sort, and one end fluttered in the breeze, though most of
the black material appeared to be wrapped around the tip of the
weather vane in which the spire staff terminated.
"That's the jeweled scarf, I'll bet a month's pay!" gasped the
discoverer. Then, mindful of the reward, he dashed to the
nearest telephone office, asking "central" to ring insistently
until an answer came over the Macey wire.
"Hullo, is that you, Mr. Macey?" called the discoverer, a teamster.
"Then come straight up to the Methodist church. I'll be there.
I've discovered the jeweled scarf."
"How---how many jewels are left on it?" demanded Mr. Macey.
"Come right up! I'll tell you all about it when you get here."
Then the teamster rang off, after giving his name. The real estate
man came in a hurry, in a runabout. His wife, pallid and hollow-cheeked,
rode in the car with him. To Mr. Macey the teamster pointed out
the barely visible bit of black fluttering a hundred and sixty
feet above the pavement.
"Now how about the reward, Mr. Macey?" demanded the teamster.
"That will be paid you, if you return the scarf to Mrs. Macey,"
replied the real estate man dryly.
The teamster's jaw dropped. For the uppermost eighteen feet of
the spire consisted of a stout flagpole. Below this was the sloping
slate roof of the top of the steeple proper. Only a monkey or
a "steeplejack" could get up there, and on a day like this, with
a half gale still blowing, a steeplejack might be pardoned for
declining the task.
Swiftly the news spread, and a great crowd collected. Dave Darrin
heard of it right after breakfast, and hurried to get Dick Prescott.
Together the chums joined the crowd.
"You'll have to get a steeplejack for the job, Mr. Macey," the
chums heard one man advise the real estate operator.
Only one was known. His home was some forty miles away. Mr.
Macey tried patiently to get the man over the long distance telephone.
Some member of the man's family answered for him. The expert
was away, and would not be home, or available, for three days
to come at least.
"Never mind, Macey," laughed the friend, consolingly. "It'll
wait. No one in Gridley will take the scarf. It's safe up there."
"Huh! Is it, though?" snorted the real estate man. "At any minute
the strong wind may unwind it and send it whirling off over the
town. Or the gale may tear it to pieces, scattering the diamonds
over a whole block, and not one in ten of the stones would ever
Mrs. Macey sat in the runabout, a picture of mute misery.
Herr Schimmelpodt elbowed his way through the outskirts of the
crowd and stood absorbing his share in the local excitement.
"Ach! I am afraid dere is von thing dot you gan't do, Bresgott,"
smiled the German. "Ach! By chimminy, though, I don't know yet."
"I was wondering myself whether I could make a good try at steeple
climbing," laughed Dick eagerly. "The money sounds good to me
"No; I don't know. I think it would be foolish," replied Herr
"I believe you could get up there, Dick," muttered Darrin, in
a low voice.
"Then you could, Dave."
"I think I could," nodded Darrin. "And, by crickets, if you were
here, Dick, I'd certainly try it."
"Try it anyway, then," urged Prescott.
"Not unless you balk at it," returned Darrin.
"I'm not going to balk at it," retorted Dick, flushing just a
bit. "But you spoke of it first, Dave, and I think you ought
to have first chance at the reward."
"Tell you what I'll do," proposed Darrin, seriously. "We'll toss
for it, and the winner has the try."
"I'll go you," nodded Prescott.
Herr Schimmelpodt, regarding them both seriously, saw that they
"Boys, boys!" he remonstrated. "Don't think of it yet!"
"Why not?" asked Dick.
"You would be killed," remonstrated the big German.
"Is that the best opinion you have of us, after the way you've
been praising us athletes for two years?" laughed Prescott.
"I'll toss you for it, Dick," nudged Dave.
"What's this?" demanded Mr. Macey.
"Prescott and I are going to toss for it, to see who shall have
the first chance to climb the spire and flagstaff," replied Dave.
"Nonsense! Out of the question," almost exploded Mr. Macey.
"It would be like murder to allow either of you to try. That's
work for a regular steeplejack."
"Well, what is a steeplejack?" demanded Dick. "He's a fellow
of good muscle and nerve, who can stand being in high places.
Either of us could climb a flagpole from down here in the street.
Why can't either of us go up there, just as well, and climb from
the steeple roof?"
"Prescott, have you any idea of the strength of the wind up there?"
demanded the real estate man. "It's blowing great guns up there!"
"Get some one to toss the coin, and either you or I call," insisted
Some one told Mrs. Macey what was being proposed.
"Oh, stop them!" she cried, leaning forward from the runabout.
"Boys, boys! Don't do anything wildly rash like that! I'd sooner
lose the scarf than have lives risked."
"She needn't worry," sneered some one in the crowd. "The High
School dudes are only bluffing. They haven't either o' them the
sand to do a thing like that."
Both Prescott and Darrin heard. Both flushed, though that was
all the sign they gave.
"Herr Schimmelpodt, you must have a cent," suggested Dick. "Toss
it, will you, and let Darrin call the turn."
Grumbling a good deal the German produced the required coin.
He fingered it nervously, for a moment, then flipped it high in
"Tails!" called Dave.
It came down heads.
"Oh, well, the best two out of three," insisted Dick.
"That fellow's nerve is going already," laughed some one. "He's
anxious for the other fellow to get the honor."
There was a grim twitching at the corners of prescott's mouth,
but he said nothing.
Again the coin was tossed. This time Dick called:
"I'm ready," announced Dick quietly.
"I congratulate you, old fellow," murmured Dave eagerly. "And
I'm going with you to the base of the flagpole! The last climb
is yours you've won it!"
The Nerve of the Soldier
Again Mrs. Macey sought to interpose. Her husband, too, was at
first against it.
But, now that the die was fairly cast, Herr Schimmelpodt firmly
championed the boys.
"Eider von of dem gan do it---easy!" declared the big German.
"You don't know dem boys----vot? Ach, I do. Dey got der brain,
der nerves und der muscle."
"It's a crime to let such youths attempt the thing," shivered
an anaemic-looking man in the crowd. "Whichever one goes up that
flagstaff will come down again faster. He'll be killed!"
"Cheer up some more," advised Herr Schimmelpodt stolidly. "It
don't gost you nottings, anyway. If Dick Bresgott preak his neck
soon, I gif him der bulliest funeral dot any boy in Gridley efer
"But what good-----" began the nervous man tremulously.
"Talk ist cheap," retorted Herr Schimmelpodt, with a wink, "mid
dot's all I haf to bay for dot funeral. Dick Bresgott ain't fool
enough yet to preak der only neck he has."
At this a jolly laugh went around, relieving the tension a bit,
for there were many in the crowd who had begun to feel mighty
serious as soon as they realized that Dick was in earnest.
Some one brought the janitor of the church. A hardware dealer
near by came along with two coils of rope, which he thought might
Mr. Macey went inside with the janitor and the two chums. A score
or two more would have followed, but the janitor called to Herr
Schimmelpodt to bar the way, which the big German readily did.
Then the four inside began to climb the winding staircase to the
"Go slowly, Dick; loaf," counseled Dave. "Don't waste a bit of
your wind foolishly."
At the bell loft all four paused to look down at the crowd.
Now up a series of ladders the four were obliged to climb, inside
the spire top. This spire top was thirty-six feet above the floor
of the bell loft; but eight feet from the top of the spire a window
let out upon a narrow iron gallery that ran around the spire.
"I---I don't believe I'll step out there," faltered Mr. Macey,
who was stout and apoplectic-looking.
"I don't blame ye any," agreed the janitor. "It ain't just the
place, out there, for a man o' your weight and years."
"Don't look down at the street, Dick," begged Dave.
"Why not?" asked Prescott, deliberately disobeying. "If I couldn't
do that without getting dizzy, it would be foolish to climb the
"Prescott, you'd better not try it," protested Mr. Macey. "Just
listen to how strong the wind is at this height. I'm afraid you'll
be dashed down to the ground. Gracious! Hear the flagstaff rattle."
"I expected it," replied Dick, sitting down, inside the spire
"What are you doing?" demanded the real estate man.
"Taking off my shoes," Dick replied coolly.
"Do you really mean to make the attempt?"
"You don't think a Gridley boy would back out at this late moment?"
queried Dick, in surprise.
"Ye couldn't stop these younkers, now, by force," chuckled the
"I certainly wouldn't care to try force," remarked Mr. Macey dryly.
"These young men are too well developed."
Dave was now on the floor, getting off his shoes.
"What are you going to do, old fellow?" asked Prescott.
"Going to follow you as far as the top of the spire," replied
Darrin quietly. "Who knows but I may be able to be of some use?"
Dave stepped out first on the little iron balcony. The crowd
below saw him, but at the distance could not make out clearly
which boy it was. Then Prescott followed.
"Give me one foot," called Dave, kneeling and making a cup of
Dick placed his foot, then started to climb the sloping surface
of slate, Darrin aiding.
As Dave straightened to a standing position Dick reached up, getting
hold of the base of the flagstaff.
"Hold on there, a minute," advised Dave, as his chum stood on
the little ledge at the top of the spire. "And don't be foolish
enough to look down into the street."
Dave darted inside, picking up the lighter of the ropes. Going
out on the balcony again Darrin tossed one end of the rope to
Dick, who made it fast around the flagpole.
Using the rope, Dave went easily up and stood beside Prescott.
"There is a fearful wind here," muttered Dick, as both swayed
while holding to the stout, vibrating mast. "But you can make
it, old fellow."
It had been the original intention in building the church to use
this mast as a flag pole. Then some doubt had arisen among the
members of the parish. A weather vane had been put at the top
of the pole, and the question of connecting flag tackle had been
left to be decided at a later date.
Had the flag tackle been there now Dick could have made an easier
problem of the ascent; yet, even with the rope, it would have
been an undertaking from which most men would have shrunk.
"I'm going to start now," said Dick very quietly.
"Good luck, Dick, old fellow!" called Dave cheerily. "You'll
Darrin still remained standing on top of the spire after Dick
had started to climb.
The only way that Prescott could move upward was to wrap arms
and legs around the pole.
How the wind swayed, jarred and vibrated it! Once, when ten feet
of the ascent had been accomplished, Dick felt his heart fail
A momentary impulse, almost of cowardice, swept over him.
Then he steeled himself, and went on and up.
That staff must be more than a mile high, it now seemed to the
boy, hanging there in momentary danger of his life.
Dave, standing below, looking up, knew far more torment.
Watching Dick, Darrin began to feel wholly responsible for the
whole awful predicament of his chum.
"I urged him on to it," thought Dave, with a rush of horror that
his own peril could not have brought to him. "Oh, I hope the
splendid old fellow does make this stunt safely!"
It seemed as though thousands were packed in the street below,
every face upturned. The breath of the multitude came short and
sharp. Two women and a girl fainted from the strain.
In a window in the building across the street a photographer poised
his camera. Behind the shutter was a long-angled lens, fitted
for taking pictures at a distance.
Just as Dick Prescott's arms were within two feet of the weather
vane the photographer exposed his plate.
Dick, in the meantime, was moving in a sort of dumb way now.
The keenness of his senses had left him. He moved mechanically;
he knew what he was after, and he kept on. Yet he seemed largely
to have lost the power to realize the danger of his position.
A-a-ah! He was up there now, holding to the weathervane! His
legs curled doggedly around the flagstaff. He had need now to
use all the strength in his legs, for he must use one hand to
disentangle the black scarf, which lay twisted about the vane
just over his head. But it was the right scarf. The glint and
dazzle of the diamonds was in his eyes.
How the extreme end of that flag pole quivered. It seemed to
the boy as though the pole must bend and snap, what with the pressure
of the heavy wind and the weight of his body!
Slowly, laboriously, mechanically, like one in a trance, Dick
employed his left hand in patiently disentangling the black web
from the trap in which it had been caught.
At last the scarf was free. Most cautiously Dick lowered his
left hand, tucking the jeweled fabric carefully into the inner
pocket of his coat.
"I---I---guess---it safe---in there," he muttered, hardly
realizing that he was saying any thing.
Dave, from below, had looked on, fascinated. Now that he saw
the major part of the daring feat accomplished, Darrin did not
make the mistake of shouting any advice to his comrade. He knew
that any sudden shout might attract Prescott's attention in a
way to cause him to lose his head.
Slowly---oh, so slowly! Dick came down. It seemed as though,
at last, he understood his danger to the full and was afraid.
The truth was, Prescott realized that, with all the vibrating
of the staff in the wind, his muscular power was being sapped
out of him.
Dave Darrin was down again, crouching on top of the spire, when
Dick reached him.
"Just touch your feet, Dick!" Darrin called coolly. "Then stand
holding to the pole until I get down into the balcony."
Dick obeyed as one who could no longer think for himself.
This done, Dave slipped down the spire's slope, by the aid of
the rope, until his feet touched the balcony's floor. Now he
stood with upturned face and arms uplifted.
"Use the rope and come down, Dick," hailed. Darrin softly. "I'm
here to catch you, if you need it."
Down came Prescott, holding to the rope, but helped more by Dave's
"Help Prescott inside, you two," Dave ordered sharply. Then,
after the men inside the spire top had obeyed, Dave swung himself
in. He left the rope fastened above, for whoever cared to go
and get it.
Mr. Macey, ashen faced and shaking, stared at Dick in a sort of
"I---I got it," said Dick, when he could control his voice. "Here
it is, safe in my pocket."
"I forgot to ask," rejoined Mr. Macey tremulously. "I'm sick
of that bauble. Ever since you started aloft, Prescott, I've
been calling myself all sorts of names for being a party to this
"Why, it's all right," laughed Dick, only a bit brokenly. "It
was easy enough---with a fellow like Dave to help."
"Did he go up the flagstaff, too?" demanded Mr. Macey, opening
his eyes wider.
"No," declared Darrin promptly. "Prescott did it."
"But good old Dave was right at hand to help," Dick contended
"Get yourselves together, boys. Then we'll get down out of here,"
urged Mr. Macey. "I haven't done anything, but I feel as though
I'd be the one to reel and faint."
"Take this scarf, now, please," begged Dick, holding open his
The real estate man looked over the bauble that had placed two
manly lives in such desperate jeopardy. The fabric was much torn,
but all the precious stones still appeared to be there.
Mr. Macey folded the scarf and placed it in one of his own inner
"Now, let us get down out of here," begged the real estate man.
"This place is giving me the horrors."
"You can start ahead, sir," laughed Dave. "But we want time to
put our shoes on."
Two or three minutes later the four started below, going slowly
over the ladder part of the route. When they struck the winding
staircase they went a bit more rapidly.
Down in the street it seemed to the watchers as though ages had
passed since the two boys had been seen going inside from the
But now, at last, Herr Schimmelpodt heard steps inside, so he
threw open the heavy door at once.
As Dick and Dave came out again into the sunlight what a mighty
roar of applause and cheering went up.
Then Herr Schimmelpodt, advancing to the edge of the steps, and
laying one hand over his heart, bowed profoundly and repeatedly.
That turned the cheering to laughter. The big German held up
his right hand for silence.
"Ladies und chentlemen," shouted Herr Schimmelpodt, as soon as
he could make him self heard, "I don't vant to bose as a hero!"
"That's all right," came with a burst of goodhumored laughter.
"It vos really nottings vot I did," continued the German, with
"True for you."
"Maybe," continued Herr Schimmelpodt, "you think I vos afraid
when I climb dot pole. But I wos not---I pledch you mein vord.
It is nottings for me to climb flagpoles. Ven I vos ein poy
in Germany I did it efery day. But I will not dake up your time
mit idle remarks. I repeat dot I am not ein hero."
The wily old German had played out his purpose. He had turned
the wild cheering, which he knew would have embarrassed Prescott,
into a good-natured laugh. He had diverted the first big burst
of attention away from the boys, much to the relief of the latter.
But now the crowd bethought itself of the heroes that a crowd
always loves. Hundreds pressed about to shake the bands of Prescott
"Get into my car! Stand up in front of Mrs. Macey and myself
until we can get out of this crowd," urged Mr. Macey, bustling
the boys toward the runabout.
Mrs. Macey, whitefaced, was crying softly and could not speak.
But her husband, with the two boys standing up before him, honked
his horn and turned on the power, starting the car slowly. A
path was thus made for their escape through the crowd, though
the cheering began again.
"Now, you can put us down, if you will, sir,", suggested Dick,
when they had reached the outer edge of the crowd.
"Not yet," retorted Mr. Macey.
"Why not, sir?"
"You've a little trip to make with me yet."
"Wait a moment, and you'll see."
Less than two minutes later Mr. Macey drove his car up in front
of one of the banks and jumped out.
"Come on, boys," he cried. "I want to get that reward off my
"You run in, Dick," proposed Dave, on the sidewalk. "I'll wait
"You'll go with me," Prescott retorted, "or I won't stir inside."
So Darrin followed them into the bank.
"I'm so thankful to see you boys safely out of the scrape," declared
Mr. Macey, inside, "that I'm going to pay the full reward to each
"No you won't," retorted Dick very promptly. "You'll pay no more
than you offered. Dave and I'll divide that between us."
"Not a cent for me!" propounded Darrin, with emphasis.
"If you don't share the reward evenly, I won't touch a cent of
it either, Dave Darrin," rejoined Dick heatedly.
Dave tried to have his way, but his chum won. Mr. Macey made
another effort to double the reward, but was overruled.
So young Prescott received the two hundred and fifty dollars in
crisp, new bills, and as promptly turned half of the sum over
to his chum.
Now that it was safely over with, it had not been a bad morning's
Dick Begins To Feel Old
Despite the strain of what they had gone through Dick and Dave
led the Gridley boys through a fierce gridiron battle that same
afternoon, and won again by a score of 13 to 5.
But the people of Gridley paid little heed to the score that day,
or the next. The sensation that Dick and Dave had supplied was
the talk of the town, to the exclusion of other topics relating to
high School boys.
Mr. Pollock bought a copy of the photograph showing Dick close
to the weather vane on his climb. A half-tone cut made from this
photograph was printed in "The Blade."
"This young man is now a member of 'The Blade' staff, reporting
school and other matters," ran the comment under the spirited
picture. "We believe that Mr. Prescott will continue to be a
member of the staff, and to grow with 'The Blade.'"
"What about that, Dick?" laughed Darrin.
"I've told Mr. Pollock and Mr. Bradley that I believe my plans
will carry me a good distance away from 'The Blade' office after
this year," replied Dick, with a meaning smile. "If they won't
believe me now, perhaps they'll wake up later."
The town had not been wanting in croakers at the outset of the
football season, who had predicted that Dick Prescott and his
chums would "drag down" the football team and its fine traditions
from past years.
But the eleven, mainly under Dick and under Dave's captaincy in
two fierce gridiron battles, had gone right along winning games.
The last three battles had been fought out to a successful finish
in November. There now remained only the Thanksgiving Day game
to complete the season.
By all traditions each football team in the country strives to
have its biggest fight take place on Thanksgiving Day. By another
tradition, every team seeks to have this game take place on the
In the latter respect Gridley lost this year. The game, which
was against Fordham High School, was scheduled to take place at
Enthusiasm, however, was at top notch. Citizens hired the Gridley
Band to go along with the young men and help out on noise. A
special train in two sections was chartered, for some seven
hundred Gridleyites had voted in favor of an evening dinner on
Thanksgiving Day; they were going along to see the game.
Fordham had lost two games, against exceptionally strong teams,
earlier in the season, but had of late a fine record. Fordham
had dropped several of its original players, putting in heavier
or better men, and a new coach had been employed. The Fordham
boys were now believed to be able to put up a strenuous game.
"I hope you're going to win, Prescott," said Mr. Macey,
meeting Dick on the street one afternoon not long before Thanksgiving.
"Have you any doubts, sir?" smiled the captain of the Gridley
"Well, you see, Fordham was my native town. I run down there
often, and I know a good deal of what's going on there. Fordham's
second coach has attended the last two games you played, and he
has been stealing all your points that he could get."
"He has, eh?" muttered Prescott. "That's news to me. Oh, well,
it's legitimate to learn all you can about another team's play."
"From the reports Fordham has of your play the young men over
in that town are certain that they're enough better to be able
to bring your scalps into camp."
"Perhaps they'll do it," laughed Dick pleasantly. "We'll admit
that we're about due for a walloping whenever the crowd comes
along that can do it."
"I am only telling you what I hear from Fordham," continued Mr.
"And I'm glad you did, sir. We'll try to turn the laugh on Fordham."
"Then you think you can beat 'em?"
"No, sir. We never think we can. We always know that we can!
That's the Gridley way---the Gridley spirit. We always win our
battles before we go into them, Mr. Macey. We make up our minds
that we can't and won't be beaten. It isn't just brag, though.
We base all our positiveness on the way that we stick to our
training and coaching, and on our discipline. Mr. Macey, this
is the third year that I've been playing on different Gridley
High School teams. I remember a tie game, but no defeats."
"I guess Fordham will find it a hard enough proposition to down
you young men," remarked Mr. Macey.
"They're going to discover, sir, that they simply can't do it.
Gridley never goes onto any field to get beaten."
"Und dot isn't brag, neider," broke in a man who had halted to
listen. "Ven dese young men pack deir togs to go away, dey pack
der winning score in der bag, too. Ach! Don't I know dot? Don't
I make mineself young vonce more by following dese young athletes
Herr Schimmelpodt looked utterly shocked that anyone should think
it possible for another High School eleven to take a game from
Dick soon encountered Dave and told him the news he had gleaned
from Mr. Macey.
"Been sending their second coach over to watch our play, have
they?" laughed Darrin softly. "That seems to show how much they
fear us in Fordham."
"I believe we are going to have a stiff game," muttered Prescott.
"Hallam Heights and Fordham are the only two teams that think
enough of the game to hire two coaches."
"Well, we have Hallam's scalp dangling down at the gym.," laughed
"And we'll have Fordham's in the same way," predicted Dick confidently.
It barely occurred to the young captain of the team to wonder
what it would mean for him if the game to Fordham should be lost.
Dick would be the first captain in years who had lost a football
game for Gridley. It would be a mean record to take out of High
School life. But Dick gave no thought to such a possibility.
"Of course we're going to wallop Fordham," he thought. "I wish
only one thing. I'd like to see the Fordhams play through a stiff
game just once."
It was too late, however, to give any real thought to this, for
Fordham's next and last game of the season was to be the one with
"Are you girls going to the game?" asked Dick, when he and his
chum met Laura Bentley and Belle Meade before the post office.
"Haven't you heard what the girls are doing, Dick?" questioned
Laura, looking at him in some surprise.
"I have heard that a lot of the girls are going to the game."
"Just forty-two of us, to be exact," Laura continued. "We girls
and our chaperons are to have one car in the first section. You
see, we've arranged to go right along with the team. We have
our seats all together at Fordham, too."
"My, what a lot of noise forty-two girls can make in a moment
of enthusiasm!" murmured Dave.
"We can, if you give us any excuse," advanced Belle.
"Oh, we'll give you excuse enough. See to it that you keep the
noise up to the grade of our playing."
"Mr. Confident!" teased Belle.
"Why, you know, as well as we do, that we'll come home with Fordham's
scalp!" retorted, Darrin.
"You've heard some of the talk about Fordham's confidence in winning,
haven't you?" asked Laura, a bit anxiously.
"Yes," nodded Dick. "But that doesn't mean anything. You know
the Gridley record, the Gridley spirit and confidence."
"Still," objected Belle, "one side has to lose, and the Fordham
boys have all the stuff ready to light bonfires on Thanksgiving
"Have you any particular friends over in Fordham?" asked Dave
Darrin, with a sudden swift, significant look.
"No, I haven't," retorted Belle hastily. "And I hope, with all
my heart, that Gridley gains the only points that are allowed.
Yet, sometimes, so much confidence all the while seems just a
"I won't say another word, then, until after the game," promised
"Oh, I'll turn half girl, and say 'I told you so,'" mimicked
It would have been hard to find anyone in Gridley who would have
said openly that he expected the home boys to be beaten; but there
were many who knew that they were more than a bit anxious. Before
the game, anyway, Fordham's brag was just as good as Gridley brag.
"Won't you be glad, anyway, when the Thanksgiving game is over?"
"Yes, and no," smiled Prescott seriously. "When I come back from
Fordham I shall know that I have captained my last game on a High
School team. That tells me that I am getting along in life---that
I am growing old, and shall soon have to think of much more serious
things. But, honestly, I hate awfully to think of all these grand
old High School days coming to an end. I mustn't think too much
about it until after the game. It makes me just a bit blue."
"Won't you be captain of the basket ball team this winter?" asked
"No; I can't take everything. Hudson will probably head the basket
"Why, I heard that you were going in hard for basket ball."
"So I am. Mr. Morton is so busy, with the new evening training
classes, that he has asked me to be second coach to the basket
ball crowd. I'll undoubtedly do that."
"Oh, then you'll still be leading the athletic vanguard at the
High School," murmured Laura, and, somehow, there was a note of
contentment in her voice.
"I shall be, until I'm through with the High School," Prescott
answered. "But think---just think---how soon that will come
around for all of us!"
Fordham Plays a Slugging Game
For half an hour before the first section of the special pulled
out, the Gridley Band played its liveliest tunes. A part of the
time the band played accompaniment to the school airs, which the
crowd took up with lively spirit.
There is a peculiar enthusiasm which attaches to the Thanksgiving
Day game. This is due partly to the extra holiday spirit of the
affair. Then, too, there is the high tension that precedes the
last game of the season.
With a team that has won every game to that point, yet often with
great difficulty, the tension of spirits is even higher.
As the first section of the special rolled in at the railway station
the part of the crowd that was "going" began to break up into
groups headed for the different parts of the train.
Herr Schimmelpodt went, of course, to the car that carried the
team. The boys wouldn't have been satisfied to start or to travel
without him. The big German had come to be the mascot of Gridley
Just before the train started Herr Schimmelpodt waddled out to
the rear platform of the car.
In his right hand he brandished a massive cane to which the Gridley
High School colors were secured.
"Now, listen," he bellowed out. "Ve come back our scalps not
wigs! You hear dot, alretty?"
While the cheering was still going on, and while the band was
crashing out music, the first section pulled out, making room
for the second section.
A run of a little more than an hour at good speed, and with no
way stops, brought the Gridley invading forces to Fordham.
At the depot, the local team's second coach awaited the players.
He had two stages at hand, into which the team and subs piled.
A wagon followed, carrying the kits of the Gridley boys. There
were two more stages for the band. All the other travelers had
to depend on the street-car service.
Finding the stages rather crowded, Dick nudged Darrin, then made
for the kit wagon.
"I really believe we'll have more comfort, Dave," proposed Prescott,
"if we get aboard, this rig and ride on top of the tog bags."
The suggestion was carried out at once.
"I'll drive along fast, if you want," proposed the driver, "and
get the togs down to the grounds ahead of your team."