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The High School Freshmen by H. Irving Hancock

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Produced by Jim Ludwig

Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports

By H. Irving Hancock


I. "The High School Sneak"
II. Dick & Co. After the School Board's Scalps
III. Not So Much of a Freshman
IV. Captain of the Hounds
V. The "Muckers" and the "Gentleman"
VI. Fred Offers to Solve the Locker Mystery
VII. Dick's Turn to Get a Jolt
VIII. Only a "Suspended" Freshman Now
IX. Laura Bentley is Wide Awake
X. Tip Scammon Talks---But Not Enough
XI. The Welcome With a Big "W"
XII. Dick & Co. Give Football a New Boost
XIII. "The Oath of the Dub"
XIV. On the Gridiron with Cobber Second
XV. Gridley Faces Disaster
XVI. The Fake Kick, Two Ways
XVII. Dick's "Find" Makes Gridley Shiver
XVIII. Fred Slides into the Freeze
XIX. Dick & Co. Show Some Team Work
XX. Out for That Toboggan
XXI. Thanks Served with Hate
XXII. The Only Freshman at the Senior Ball
XXIII. The Nitroglycerine Mystery Speaks Up
XXIV. The Capture of the Bank Robbers
XXV. Conclusion



"I say you did!" cried Fred Ripley, hotly. Dick Prescott's cheeks
turned a dull red as he replied, quietly, after swallowing a choky
feeling in his throat:

"I have already told you that I did not do it."

"Then who did do the contemptible thing?" insisted Ripley, sneeringly.

Fully forty boys, representing all the different classes at the
Gridley High School, stood looking on at this altercation in the
school grounds. Half a dozen of the girls, too, hovered in the
background, interested, or curious, though not venturing too close
to what might turn out to be a fight in hot blood.

"If I knew," rejoined Dick, in that same quiet voice, in which
one older in the world's ways might have detected the danger-signal,
"I wouldn't tell you."

"Bah!" jeered Fred Ripley, hotly.

"Perhaps you mean that you don't believe me?" said Prescott inquiringly.

"I don't!" laughed Ripley, shortly, bitterly.


A world of meaning surged up in that exclamation. It was as though
bright, energetic, honest Dick Prescott had been struck a blow
that he could not resent. This, indeed, was the fact.

"See here, Ripley-----" burst, indignantly, from Dick Prescott's
lips, as his face went white and then glowed a deeper red than

"Well, kid?" sneered Ripley.

"If I didn't have a hand---the right hand, at that---that is too
crippled, today, I'd pound your words down your mouth."

"Oh, your hand?" retorted Ripley, confidently. "The yarn about
that hand is another lie."

Dick's injured right hand came out of the jacket pocket in which
it had rested. With his left hand he flung down his cap.

"I'll fight---you---anyway!" Prescott announced, slowly.

There were a few faint cheers, though some of the older High School
boys looked serious. Fair play was an honored tradition in Gridley.

Ripley, however, had thrown down his cap at once, hurling his
strapped-up school books aside at the same time.

"Wait a moment," commanded Frank Thompson, stepping forward.
He was a member of the first class, a member of the school eleven,
and a husky young fellow who could enforce his opinions at need.

"Get back, Thomp," retorted Ripley. "The cub wants to fight,
and he's got to."

"Not if he has an injured hand," retorted Frank, quickly.

"He hasn't," jeered Ripley. "And he's got so fight, if he has
four lame hands."

"He can fight, then, yes," agreed Thompson. "But remember, Fred,
it's allowable, when a fellow's crippled, to fight by substitute."

"Substitute?" asked Fred, looking uncomfortable.

"Yes; I'll take his place, if Prescott will let me," volunteered
Frank Thompson, coolly.

"You? I guess not," snorted Ripley. "I won't stand for that.
I'm a third classman, and you're a first classman. You're half
as big again as I am, and-----"

"The odds wouldn't be as bad as you're proposing to take out of
this poor little freshman with the crippled hand," insisted Thompson.
"So get ready to meet me. I'll allow one of my hands to be tied,
if you want."

Yet even this proposition couldn't be made alluring to Fred Ripley.
He knew Thompson's mettle and strength too well for that.

Dan Dalzell, another freshman, had been standing back, keeping
quiet as long as he could.

"See here," proposed Dan, stepping forward, "isn't a freshman
allowed to say something when his friend is insulted?"

"Go ahead," nodded Thompson, who knew Dan to be one of young Prescott's
close friends.

"Dick isn't in shape to fight, and I know it," continued Dan
Dalzell, hotly. "But Ripley wants something easy, like a
freshman, so he can have me!"

"And me," cried Tom Reade, also leaping forward.

"He can have one with me, too," offered Harry Hazelton.

"Same here," added Greg Holmes and Dave Darrin.

All five of the speakers were freshmen, and close chums of Dick

"Say, what do you think I want---to fight a whole pack?" demanded
Ripley, hoarsely.

"Oh, you don't have to fight us all at once," retorted Dave Darrin.
"But you've insulted our friend, and you've taken a sneaking
advantage of him at a time when you _knew_ he couldn't handle
anyone as big as you are. So, Ripley, you're answerable to Prescott's
friends. I'll tell you what you can do. There are five of us.
You can take any one of us that you prefer for the first bout.
When you've thrashed him, you can call for the next, and so on.
But you've got to go through the five of us in turn. If you
don't, I'll call you a coward from now on. You're bigger than
any of us."

"See here, Cub Darrin," raged Ripley, starting forward, his face
aflame, "I don't allow any freshman to talk that way to me. I
won't fight you, but I'll chastise you, and you can protect yourself
if you know how."

He made a bound forward, intent on hitting Darrin, who stood his
ground unflinchingly. But Thompson seized the third classman
by the shoulder and shoved him back.

"Now, stop this, Ripley, and you freshmen, cut it out, too,"
warned the athletic first classman. "This is descending to a
low level. We don't want a lot of bickering or mouth-fighting,
and we don't intend to have anything but fair play, either."

"As this is largely my affair," broke in Dick Prescott, who had
had time to cool down a bit, "let me have a chance to make an

"Go ahead," nodded Thompson.

"Then," proposed Dick, "since you won't let me fight today, why
can't this meeting hold over until my hand is in shape? Then
I'll agree to give Ripley all he wants."

"That's the only sensible thing I've heard said in five minutes,"
declared Frank Thompson, looking about him at other upper classmen.
"Is it the general opinion that the fight hold over for a few
days, or, say, a fortnight?"

"Yes," came back an eager, approving chorus.

"Then so be it," proclaimed Frank. "And now, remember, Ripley,
this fight is not to be pulled off until the school agrees to
it. If you pick any trouble with Prescott until you get the word,
or if you try to find any excuse for hitting him while his hand's
out of shape, then you'll answer to the school for your conduct.
You know what that means, don't you?"

"Humph!" snorted Fred Ripley. "All this fuss about the High School

Again Dick started forward, but Thompson caught him firmly.

"Hold on, freshie!" advised the older boy. "Save it up. Bottle
it. You can have all the more fun out of Ripley when your hand
is in shape."

"His hand is in as good shape as it ever was," retorted Ripley,
scornfully. "And he lies when he says he didn't do this."

Ripley swung, so as to display the tail of a short topcoat that
was one of his treasures. The garment was fashionably made and
of the best material, for Ripley's father was a wealthy lawyer
in Gridley, and the young Ripley hopeful had all the most costly
things a boy can prize.

Along the tail of the coat some miscreant had daubed a streak
of fresh white paint. Ripley had found it there when donning
the coat to leave school at one o'clock that day. Fred knew that
Dick had been in the coat room after recess, and, as he disliked
the freshman, Ripley had accused Dick of the deed.

Having fired his parting shot, Fred turned on his heel, sauntering
over to where the fluttering group of girls waited. One of them,
Clara Deane, stepped forward to meet him.

"Fred, why do you have anything to do with such a low-down fellow
as Prescott?" asked Clara, contemptuously.

"He's the sneak of the school," uttered Fred, harshly; "but I
can't let even a sneak streak my coat with paint."

"And he never did such a thing, either!" broke in Laura Bentley,
disdainfully. "Fred Ripley, you accused Dick Prescott of playing
off a lame hand. I know how his hand became crippled. Dick wanted
me to promise not to tell how it happened, but now I'm going to.
Wait and you can hear, both of you."

"I don't want to, I'm sure," rejoined Clara, with a toss of her
head. "Come along, Fred."

This pair of students walked away together. They always did,
after school was out. The Ripleys and the Deanes were neighbors.

The other girls, however, followed Laura, as, with quick, resolute
step, she marched over to where the High School boys still lingered.

"Boys," began Laura, "Mr. Prescott has been accused of pretending
about a hurt hand. I know how he injured it; and, as he did it-----"

"Please don't say any more, Miss Bentley," begged Dick, flushing.

"Yes, I shall," insisted Laura, quietly. "It happened night before
last. Dick Prescott didn't want anything said about it, and neither
did the police, so-----"

"The police?" chipped in several of the High School boys and girls.

"Yes, the police wanted it kept quiet, so they could have a chance
to catch the fellow," Laura hastened on. "But they've had time
enough, now, to catch the rascal, if they're ever going to. You
see, it happened this way: Mother had forty-five dollars on hand
that belonged to the church fair fund. So, night before last,
she asked me to take it over to Miss Bond, the treasurer. I was
going through Clinton Street, in one of the dark spots, when a
man jumped out from behind a tree and made a snatch for the purse
that I carried in my hand.

"Well, somehow---I don't just know how," Laura continued, "I managed
to keep hold of the purse and I screamed, of course. Then some
one came running down the street as fast as he could---and Dick
Prescott leaped at the rascal. It was a hard fight---a fearful

The girl shuddered even then, in the telling, but she continued:
"The wretch was twice as big as Dick Prescott. I thought Dick
was going to be killed. Twice the fellow broke loose, and started
to run, but what do you think Master Dick was up to?"

"What?" chorused the interested audience.

"Master Dick had his mind set on subduing the robber and holding
him for the police. So he tried to stop the wretch from getting
away. At last, however, the fellow hurled Dick backward, so that
he fell. When he got up he was lame. You all may have noticed
that Mr. Prescott limped a bit yesterday?"

"Yes; he _did_," confirmed Frank Thompson.

"And his hand was hurt, too---I know that," insisted Laura. "For
he escorted me to Miss Bond's, and then home. When we got there,
I asked my father, who is a doctor, to take Dick into the office.
Father said, afterwards, that Dick's right wrist was sprained,
and his ankle wrenched a bit, too. He said Dick would be doing
well to have the full use of his wrist in a week. Then the police
came, when my father telephoned for them, and the police didn't
want anything said for a while."

"So you, a fourteen-year-old freshie, are going about at night
trying to waylay footpads, are you?" demanded Thompson, resting
a friendly hand on Dick's shoulder. "But why did you keep so
close-mouthed, afterwards?" demanded the first classman.

"Well, for one thing, I guess I was a bit ashamed," confessed
Dick, reddening.

"Ashamed of rushing to beauty's aid?" demanded Frank, laughingly.

"Nothing like it," Dick protested, growing redder still. "I was
ashamed over having let the footpad get away."

"What? And he twice your size?" gasped Thompson. "Fellows, what
do you think of the modest cheek of this freshie! Ashamed because
he couldn't bag a full-sized thug!"

"That kid's the mustard!" broke in another first classman, approvingly.

"That's what he is!" came from others.

"Wow! whoop!"

They began crowding about the confused, blushing freshie, pumping
his uninjured left hand. Then some one shouted:

"He's all right, from the ground up. He's a Gridley boy! He's
only a freshie in years, but he'll get over that. Now, up with
Dick Prescott! On your shoulders! Give him the High School yell!"

Before he could even dodge, this High School freshman found himself
going up in the air. With all consideration for his injured hand
the upper classmen rushed him out of the school grounds, onto
the street, holding him aloft in the post of honor. The other
boys followed. Even the few girls followed, waving their handkerchiefs,
while a lusty roar went up:

"T-E-R-R-O-R-S! Wa-ar! Fam-ine! Pesti-lence! That's us! That's
us! G-R-I-D-L-E-Y---H.S. Rah! rah! rah! rah! _Gri-idley_!"

"What's all that racket back there?" asked Clara Deane, turning
at the head of the street. "Why, they're yelling and carrying
that odious little Dick Prescott."

"Must be dragging him off to give him a ducking, as he deserves,"
muttered Fred Ripley, gratingly.

"No, no! It's the school yell, and the girls are waving their

"Then they must be canonizing the school sneak," returned Ripley,
frowning hard.

"Well, don't wait to see," urged Clara. "We don't care about
mixing up too much with such a common crowd as the Gridley H.S.
students are."

"Prescott is nothing but a mucker, but he spoiled my coat, and
I'll make him smart for it!" uttered Fred, his face burning with
sullen rage.

"You'll only smirch yourself, Fred, by having anything more to do
with such a fellow," Clara warned him.

"When I'm even with the fellow, I won't have anything more to
do with him," snorted Ripley. "But I'll wait, watch and plan
for years, if I have to, to take all the conceit and meanness
out of that sneak. I'll never quit until I can look at myself
in the glass and tell myself that I've paid back the lowest trick
ever played on me!"



In Gridley High School, sessions began at eight in the morning.
School let out for the day at one in the afternoon. The brighter
students, who could get most of their lessons in school, and
do the rest of the work during the evening, thus had the
afternoon for work or fun.

Often, though, it happened that there were parties, or school
dances in the evening. Then a portion of the afternoon could
be used for study, if need be. Saturdays, of course, were free
from study for all but the dullest---and the dullest usually don't
bother their heads much about study at any time.

Gridley was not a large place---just an average little American
city of some thirty thousand inhabitants. It was a much bigger
place than that, though, when it came to the matter of public
spirit. Gridley people were proud of their town. They wanted
everything there to be of the best. Certainly, the Gridley High
School was not surpassed by many in the country. The imposing
building cost some two hundred thousand dollars. The equipment
of the school was as fine as could be put in a building of that
size. Including the principal, there were sixteen teachers, four
of them being men.

In all the classes combined, there were some two hundred and forty
students, about one hundred of these being girls. Nearly all
of the students were divided between the four regular classes.
There were always a few there taking a postgraduate, or fifth
year of work, for either college or one of the technical schools.

With such a school and such a staff of teachers as it possessed
the Gridley standard of scholarship was high. The Gridley diploma
was a good one to take to a college or to a "Tech" school.

Yet this fine high school stood well in the bodily branches of
training. Gridley's H.S. football eleven had played, in the past
four years, forty-nine games with other high school teams, and
had lost but two of these games. The Gridley baseball nine had
played fifty-four games with other high school teams in the same
period, and had met defeat but three times in the four years.

Athletics, at this school, were not overdone, but were carried
on with a fine insistence and a dogged determination. Up to date,
however, despite the fine work of their boys, the citizens of
the town had been somewhat grudging about affording money for
training athletic teams. What the boys had won on the fields
of sport they had accomplished more without public encouragement
than with it.

It was now October. Dick Prescott and his five closest friends
were all freshmen. They had been in the school only long enough
to become accustomed to the routine of work and study. They were
still freshmen, and would be until the close of the school year.
As freshmen were rather despised "cubs" Dick and his friends
would be daring, indeed should they dare to do anything, in their
freshman year, to make them very prominent.

According to a good many Gridley people Dick's father, Eben Prescott,
was accounted the best educated man in town. The elder Prescott
had taken high honors at college; he had afterwards graduated
in law, and, for a while, had tried to build up a practice. Eben
Prescott was not lazy, but he was a student, much given to dreaming.
He had finally been driven to opening a small bookstore. Here,
when not waiting on customers, he could read. Dick's mother had
proved the life of the little business. Had it not been for her
energy and judgment the pair would have found it difficult to
rear even their one child properly. The family lived in five
rooms over the bookstore.

From the time he first began to go to school it had been plain
that Dick Prescott inherited his mother's energy, plus some of
his own. He had been one of the leaders in study, work and mischief,
at the Central Grammar School. It was while in the grammar school
that a band of boys had been formed who were popularly known as
"Dick & Co." Dick was naturally the head. The other members of
the company were Tom Reade, Dan Dalzell, Harry Hazelton, Greg
Holmes and Dave Darrin. These were the same now all High School
freshmen who had stepped forward and offered to take Dick's place
in fighting Fred Ripley.

Dick was now fourteen, and so were all his partners, except Tom
Reade, who was a year older. All of Dick's chums were boys belonging
to families of average means. This is but another way of saying
that, as a usual thing, Dick and all his partners would have been
unable to fish up a whole dollar among them all.

Fred Ripley, on the other hand, usually carried considerable money
with him. Lawyer Ripley usually allowed Fred much more money
than that snobbish young man knew how to make good use of.

Fred and Clara Deane were undoubtedly the best-dressed pair in
the High School, and the two best supplied with spending money.
There were a few other sons or daughters of well-to-do people
in Gridley High School, but the average attendance came from families
that were only just about well enough off to be able to maintain
their youngsters at higher studies.

Fred Ripley, despite his mean nature, was not wholly without friends
in the High School. Some of his pocket money he spent on his
closest intimates. Then, too, Fred had rather a shrewd idea as
to those on whom it was safe or best to vent his snobbishness.

From the start of the school year, Ripley had picked out young
Freshman Prescott as a boy he did not like. Dick's place in the
moneyed scale of life was so lowly that Fred did not hesitate
about treating the other boy in a disagreeable manner.

A week after the meeting between Fred and Dick the High School
atmosphere had suddenly become charged with intense excitement.
The school eleven had come out of training, had played almost
its last match with the "scrub" team and was now close to the
time for its first regular match. Oakdale H.S. was to be the
first opponent, and Oakdale was just good enough a team to make
the Gridley boys a bit uneasy over the outcome.

"My remarks this morning," announced Dr. Thornton, on opening
school on Monday, "are not so much directed at the young ladies.
But to the young gentlemen I will say that, when the football
season opens, we usually notice a great falling off in the recitation
marks. This year I hope will be an exception. It has always
been part of my policy to encourage school athletics, but I do
not mind telling you that some members of the Board of Education
notice that school percentages fall off in October and November.
This, I trust, will not be the case this year. If it is I fear
that the Board of Education may take some steps that will result
in making athletics less of a feature among our young men. I
hope that it is not necessary to add anything to this plain appeal
to your good judgment, young gentlemen."

It _wasn't_. Dr. Thornton was a man of so few and direct words
that the boys gathered on the male side of the big assembly room
looked around at each other in plain dismay.

"That miserable old Board of Education is equal to shutting down
on us right in the middle of the season," whispered Frank Thompson
to Dent, who sat next him.

"You know the answer?" Dent whispered back.


"Give the board no excuse for any such action. Keep up to the
academ. grind."

"But how do that and train-----"

A general buzz was going around on the boys' side of the room.
Several of the girls, too, were whispering in some excitement,
for most of the girls were enthusiastic "fans" at all of the
High School games.

Whispering, provided it was "necessary" and did not disturb others,
was not against the rules. These were no longer school children,
but "young gentlemen" and "young ladies," and allowed more freedom
than in the lower schools. For a few moments Dr. Thornton tolerated
patiently the excited buzz in the big assembly room. Then, at
last, he struck a paper-weight against the top of his desk on
the platform.

"First period recitations, now," announced the principal.

Clang! At stroke of the bell there was a hurried clutching of
books and notebooks. The students filed down the aisles, going
quickly to their proper sections, which formed in the hall outside.
The tramp of feet resounded through the building, for some recitation
rooms were on the first floor, some on the second and some on
the third.

Two minutes later there was quiet in the great building. Recitation
room doors were closed. One passing through the corridors would
have heard only the indistinct murmur of voices from the different
rooms. Within five minutes every one of the instructors detected
the fact that, though discipline was as good as ever, Dr. Thornton's
words had spoiled the morning's recitations. Try as they would,
the young men could not fasten their minds on the work on hand.
The hint that athletics might be stopped had _stung_.

Dick & Co. were all sitting in IV. English.

"Mr. Prescott," directed Submaster Morton, "define the principle
of suspense, as employed in writing."

Dick started, looked bewildered, then rose.

"It's---it's-----" he began.

"A little more rapidly, if you please."

"I studied it last night, sir, but I'm afraid I've clean forgotten
all about that principle," Dick confessed. He sat down, red-faced,
nor was his discomfiture decreased by hearing some of the occupants
of the girls' seats giggle.

"I shall question you about that at the next recitation. Mr.
Prescott," nodded the submaster.

"Ye-es, sir. I hope you'll have luck," Dick answered, absently.

"What's that?" rapped out Mr. Morton.

Dick, aroused, was on his feet again, like a flash.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Morton," he came out straightforwardly.
"That sounded like slang, or disrespect. I beg to assure you,
sir, that neither was intended. The truth is-----"

"Your mind is busy with other things this morning, I see," smiled
the sub-master.

"Ye-es, sir." Dick dropped once more into his seat. Ralph Morton
sighed. That very popular young submaster, only three years out
of college, was the hugely admired coach who had led the Gridley
eleven to victory during the last three seasons. He was as disturbed
as anyone could have been over the rumored intention of the Board
of Education to take some unpleasant action regarding High School

It was a terribly unsatisfactory hour in IV. English. Five minutes
before the period was up Mr. Morton dejectedly closed the text-book
from which he had been questioning, and remarked, tersely:

"At ease!"

Instantly the buzz of whispering broke forth. It was required
only that not enough noise be made to disturb the students in
adjoining rooms.

Dick, Tom and Dan sat in the front row. Directly behind them
were the other three members of the "Co."

"Say," muttered Dan, in a low undertone, "Mr. Morton looks half
glum and half savage this morning, like the rest of us."

"Seems to," muttered Tom Reade.

"What do you make of _that_?" challenged Dan.

"There must be strong foundation for the little hint Dr. Thornton
let fall this morning," guessed Dave Darrin.

"And Mr. Morton knows it's a straight tip," added Harry Hazelton,

"It'll be a confounded shame, if the Board does anything like
that," glowed Dick Prescott, indignantly.

"They'll be so many dead ones, if they _do_," flared Tom Reade,

"Yes," agreed Dave Darrin. "But the worst about that Board of
Education is that, though they _are_ dead ones, they're so very
dead that they'll never find it out."

"Won't they, thought" whispered Dan Dalzell, hotly. "Say, I'm
inclined to think they will! I-----"

"Dan!" whispered Dick, warningly.

"Yep; you've guessed right," grinned Dan. "I am hatching a scheme
in my mind. I'm getting up something that will bring even that
dummified Board to its senses."

"Then you can achieve the impossible," teased Reade.

"Say, but it's a warm one that's forming this time," whispered
Dan, his eyes dancing. "I'll see you fellows at recess. Not
a word until then. But you-----"

Ting-ling-ling. The bell connecting with the annunciator at the
principal's desk was trilling in IV. English, as it was in all
the other recitation rooms. IV. English rose, the boys waiting
until the girls had passed from the room. A study-hour in the
big assembly room followed for Dick & Co. Yet, had anyone watched
Dan Dalzell, it would have been found that young man was in the
reference room, and reading, or thumbing---of all volumes in
the English language---the city directory!

When recess broke, Dick & Co. quickly got together. By twos,
Dick and Dave Darrin leading, they marched down through one of
the side streets, it being permitted to High School pupils to
go outside the yard in the near neighborhood.

Presently Dick halted before a stone wall. He eyed Dan keenly,
who had been walking just behind with Harry Hazelton.

"Dan," demanded the leader, "you gave us to understand that your
mind is seething again. Is that true?"

"Quite true," Dan averred, solemnly.

"What particular kind of cerebration is oscillating inside of
your intelligence?" Dick queried.

"Which?" demanded Dan, suspiciously. "No, I never! I'm not that
kind of fellow."

"In plain, freshman English, then, what's your scheme?"

"We'll have to get statistics," announced Dalzell, "before I can
come right down to bare facts. When does the Board of Education,
otherwise known as the Grannies' Club, meet?"

"Tonight, in the Board Room in the High School building," Dick

"How many members are there?"

"Seven," Dick affirmed.

"That's not too many, then," continued Dan, thoughtfully.

"Not too many?" repeated Dick Prescott. "What do you mean?"

"Why, I've been refreshing my general information about this town
by consulting the city directory. From that valuable tome I
discovered that there are just nine undertakers in town."

"Now, what on earth are you driving at---or driveling at?" asked
Dick Prescott, suspiciously, while the other partners remained
wonderingly, eagerly silent.

"Why," pursued Dan, "we can summon seven of the undertakers for
our job, and still leave two available for the public service."

Dick sprang up from the stone wall, tightly gripping Dan Dalzell
by the coat collar.

"Help me watch this lunatic, fellows," urged Dick, quietly.
"He's dangerous. You've heard him! He's plotting assassination!"

"Undertakers don't assassinate anyone, do they?" queried Dan,
with an air of mock innocence.

"What _are_ you plotting, then?" insisted Dick.

Dan's face broadened into a very pronounced grin.

"Why, see here, fellows, there seems to be some fire behind Dr.
Thornton's smoke that the Board of Education may get excited over
low recitation marks, and actually---_stop football_!" finished
Dalzell, in a gasp.

The other five chums snorted. Dan Dalzell was presently able
to control his feelings sufficiently to proceed:

"No one but actually dead ones would expect an American institution
of the higher learning to exist in these days without football.
Hence, if the Grannies' Club---I mean the School Board---are
planning to stop football, or even believe that it is possible,
then they're sure enough dead ones. Am I right?"

"Right and sane, after all," nodded Dick.

"Therefore," pursued Dan, "if the board members are dead ones,
why not go ahead and bury them? Or, at the least, show our kindly
interest in that direction. See here, fellows"---here Dan lowered
his voice to the faintest sort of whisper, while the other partners
gathered close about him---"tonight we fellows can scatter over
the town, and drop into different telephone booths where we're
not known. We can call up seven different undertakers, convey
to them a hint that there's a dead one at the Board Room, and
state that the victim of our call is wanted there at once.

"What good would that do?" demanded Dick, after a thoughtful pause.

"Why," proposed Dan Dalzell, "if seven undertakers call, all within
five minutes, won't it be a delicate way of conveying the hint
that a Board of Education that thinks it can stop football is
composed of dead ones? You see, there'll be an undertaker for
each member of the Board. Don't you think the idea---the hint---would
soak through even those seven dull old heads?"

Tom, Harry and Dave began to chuckle, though they looked puzzled.

"Well, if you ask _me_," decided Dick, after more thought, "I have
just one answer. The scheme is too grisly. Besides, we've nothing
against the undertakers that should make us willing to waste their
time. Moreover, Dan we're in the High School, and we're expected
to be gentlemen. Now, does your scheme strike you as just the
prank for a lot of gentlemen."

"Say, don't look the thing over too closely," protested Dan, more
soberly, "or you'll find lots of bad holes in the scheme. Yet,
somehow, we've got to bring it to the attention of the Board that,
if they go against High School football, they're real dead ones."

"I've just an idea we can do that," spoke Dick Prescott, reflectively.
"We can rig the scheme over, so as to save seven estimable business
men from starting out on fools' errands. And we can drive the
lesson home to the Board just as hard---perhaps harder."

At these hopeful words from the chief the partners pricked up
their ears, then crowded closer.

"In the first place," began Dick, "Dan's scheme---beg your pardon,
old fellow---is clumsy, grisly and likely to come back as a club
to hit us over the head. Now, you all know Len Spencer, the
'Morning Blade' reporter. He's a regular 'fan' over the football
and baseball teams, and follows them everywhere in the seasons.
You also know that Len is a pretty good friend of mine. If I
put Len up to a scheme that will furnish him with good 'copy'
for two mornings, he'll put it through for me, and be as mum as
an oyster."

"How can Len help us in anything?" demanded Dave Darrin, wonderingly.

"Listen!" ordered Dick Prescott, with a twinkle in his eyes.

When Dick & Co. hurried back at the close of recess they felt
serene and content. All the partners felt that Dick Prescott,
the most fertile boy in ideas at the Central Grammar School, was
going to be able to save the day for football. For Dick had propounded
a scheme that was sure to work---barring accidents!

That evening the Board of Education met in dull and stately session.
These meetings were generally so dull and devoid of real news
that the local press was content to get its account from the secretary's
minutes. Tonight was no exception in this respect. No reporter
was present when Chairman Stone rapped for order. Seven excellent
men were these who sat around the long table. Most of them had
made their mark in local business, or in the professions. Yet,
as it happened, none of these excellent men had ever made a mark
in athletics in earlier years. As they appeared to have succeeded
excellently in life without football the members of the Board
were inclined to reason that football must be a bad thing.

After the session had droned along for three-quarters of an hour,
and all routine business had been transacted, Chairman Stone looked
about at his fellow Board members.

"Gentlemen," he began, "we have noticed that, during October and
November, the High School percentages, especially those of the
young men, are prone to fall a bit. There can be but one cause
for this---the football craze. There are signs that this stupid
athletic folly will take a greater hold than ever, this year,
on our High School students. I thought it best to ask Dr. Thornton
to caution the students that any such falling-off of percentages
this year might make it necessary for us to forbid High School

"It was an excellent idea to give such a warning, Mr. Chairman,"
nodded Mr. Hegler.

"So I thought," replied Chairman Stone, complacently. "Yet, while
we have been in session this evening, I have been wondering why
it would not be a good plan to promote scholarship at once by
summarily forbidding football."

"Even for the balance of this present season?" asked Mr. Chesbritt,

"Even for the balance of this season," confirmed Mr. Stone.

There were murmurs of approval. Just at that moment, however,
the door opened suddenly, and Reporter Len Spencer, a bright-faced
young man of twenty-two, hurried in on tip-toe. Then, suddenly,
he halted, looking unutterably astonished.

"Oh, I beg your pardon, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen," murmured
the reporter. "But I did not expect to find you in session."

"And why not, Mr. Spencer?" demanded the chairman, crisply.

"Why, I---er---I---well, to be candid, gentlemen, 'The Blade'
had information that some one had died here."

"Died here?" gasped Chairman Stone. "Upon my word that would
be a most extraordinary thing to do in the presence of this Board.
Where did you get such very remarkable information, young man?"

"It was telephoned to 'The Blade' office," Len Spencer replied.

"By whom?"

"I---I really don't know," replied the young reporter, looking
much embarrassed. "I don't believe our editor, Mr. Pollock, does,
either. The news came in over the 'phone. Mr. Pollock told me
to rush up here and get all the facts."

"The facts," retorted Mr. Stone, dryly, "would be most difficult
for the members of this Board to furnish. Indeed, the only fact
in which we are interested would be the name of the person who-----"

Ting-a-ling-ling! As the telephone bell jangled Chairman Stone
drew the desk instrument toward him, holding the receiver to his

"Hullo!" hailed a voice. "Is that the Board of Education's office?"

"It is," confessed Chairman Stone.

"Is our reporter, Spencer, there? If so, I would like to talk
with him."

"Yes, he's right here, Mr. Pollock. And from the extraordinary
information he has brought us, I think he needs a talking-to. Wait
a moment."

Chairman Stone passed the instrument to Len Spencer. The members
of the Board felt curiosity enough to leave their seats and gather
at the head of the table. They could hear Editor Pollock's voice
as it ran on:

"Hullo, Spencer. Say, I've just had another 'phone from that
same party. He says that he sent in his information a bit twisted.
What he meant to tell us was that there are _seven dead ones_ in
the Board of Education who know so little about public spirit
and pride in our boys that they are even considering the idea
of forbidding High School football."

"Oh, that's it, eh?" asked Spencer, solemnly. "Seven dead ones?"

"Yes; of course you've already discovered that there's no real
tragedy up at the Board, unless they're actually planning some
move against football."

The seven members of the School Board looked at one another blankly,

"Who sent you that message over the 'phone?" questioned the reporter.

The seven Board members pricked up their ears still more keenly.

"I don't know," came Editor Pollock's voice. "But I suspect it
came from the Business Men's Club. That's a wide-awake and progressive
crowd, you know, and full of local pride, even in our High School
boys. But, Spencer, I'm in just a bit of a fix. I had already
run out six lines on the bulletin board announcing that a sudden
death had taken place in the School Board meeting. Now, I've
got to run out another bulletin and explain. Spencer, you'd better
come back here on the jump. Good-bye!"

As the bell rang off, and the reporter laid the instrument back
on the table, he said:

"Gentlemen, I am ordered back to my office in haste. Yet, before
I go, as a matter of news interest, I think I'd better ask you
whether any action is going to be taken forbidding football in
the High School?"

"N-n-not to the best of our knowledge," stammered Chairman Stone.
"We have---taken no action along that line."

"Are you likely to take any such action tonight?"

"I---I---think not."

"Thank you, and goodnight, gentlemen. I offer you my apology
and 'The Blade's' for having intruded on you in this fashion."

As soon as the members of the Board were alone Chairman Stone
glanced about him, and remarked:

"So, it appears, gentlemen, that, if we do not favor High School
football, we shall be regarded as what are termed 'dead ones'!"



The next morning's "Blade" contained a column and a half, written
in Reporter Spencer's most picturesque vein. The headlines ran:
"School Board Hoaxed. Gentle Jokers Convey a Needed Hint. Football
Not to Be Barred in High School. 'Blade' Reporter a First-off
Victim in the Service of Public Spirit."

It was a fine article, from a High School boy's point of view.
It was an article, too, which, in a city ruled by a lively public
spirit, was likely to tie the hands of a Board of Education that
did not care to fly in the face of public opinion.

Dick Prescott, before he went in to breakfast, read the article
in secret, with many a chuckle.

"You seem much interested in the newspaper, Richard," said his
father, when the young freshman came to table, still holding
'The Blade.'"

"Yes, sir. You know I have set my heart on making the H.S. eleven
just as soon as I strike a higher class. I was afraid the School
Board would abolish the game from our school. Now, I know they

"Hm! Let me see 'The Blade.'"

Mr. Prescott glanced through the article, a faint twinkle showing
in his eyes.

"The School Board may stop High School football," commented Mr.
Prescott, laying aside the paper. "They _may_, but it would
take a good deal of courage, for that article will start Gridley
on a furor of enthusiasm for the game. I wonder who got up that

"Why, Dad, 'The Blade,' hints at some one down at the Business
Men's Club."

"Hm! I wonder who wrote the article."

"Perhaps Len Spencer," replied Dick. "You know, Dad, he's a great
fan for all our H.S. sports."

"I can just see Jason Stone reading that article at _his_ breakfast
table this morning," smiled Mr. Prescott. "Stone is a great
sail-trimmer, always afraid of the man who casts a vote."

"What's the matter?" asked Mrs. Prescott, coming in breezily from
the kitchen.

Dick explained the news to his mother.

"Abolish football at the High School!" echoed Mrs. Prescott, indignantly.
"And I've been sharing your great wish Dick, to make the team
when you're old enough. They shan't do it, anyway, Dick, until
you've had your chance on the eleven!"

"No, mother," replied the boy, very quietly; "I don't believe
they will."

With a sudden rush of recollection of other pranks in which she
had known her son to be engaged in the grammar school days, Mrs.
Prescott shot a sudden, wondering glance at him. But Dick, looking
utterly innocent, was chewing his food.

Frank Thompson, Ben Badger and Ted Butler, all seniors, and stars
on the H.S. football team, had risen early that morning, every
one of them feeling glum over the dread that the great sport might
be "killed" for them. They were the only members of the eleven
who happened to see "The Blade" early. In consequence, these
three husky young Americans were on the street early. Just as
naturally they ran into each other.

"Whoop!" yelled Thompson, when he came in sight of his pals.

"Wow!" observed Ben.

"And some more!" glowed Butler.

"Will they stop football _now_?" demanded Thompson.

"Not while anyone is looking," averred Butler.

"But say, it was great of the Business Men's Club to make such
a stroke for us," went on Badger, enthusiastically.

"Yes," admitted Frank Thompson, "if that was where it came from.
I guess it was, all right."

Arm in arm the three went off down the street, feeling as though
the world had turned right side up once more.

Dick met his partners on the way to the High School. All were
grinning quietly.

"You're the genius, Dick," admitted Dan Dalzell, cordially. "My
undertaker scheme would have been ghastly. It would have taken
all the edge off the joke---would have spoiled it, and the joke
would have been a club that would have hit us over the head.
But, say! I wonder if the Grannies' Club will dare to touch our
sacred football now!"

"Don't waste any time wondering," chuckled Tom Reade. "They wont."

It was a happy day in the famous old Gridley High School. Actually,
the recitations went off better than they had done on any day
since term opening.

Dick Prescott was out on the street rather early that afternoon.
He wanted to run across Len Spencer, and chose Main Street as
the most likely thoroughfare for the purpose. He met the reporter
at the head of a little alleyway.

"Well, Dick, how did you like it?" was the reporter's greeting.

"Say, it was great!" Dick bubbled over.

"What do they think down at H.S.?"

"Think?" repeated young Prescott. "Why, everybody is in ecstasies.
The gloom of yesterday has vanished like the mist from a cheap
cigar. You're suspected of writing the article, too, Len. If
the High School students can find any proof that you did you'll
get a rouser in the way of handsome treatment."

The two had stepped down just off the street into the alleyway.

"Does everyone seem to believe that the job was put up at the
Business Men's Club?" Dick asked.

"Sure thing," nodded Len Spencer. "And no member of the Club
will deny it, either, for the thing has struck the popular side
of the town. Why, by tonight, there'll be at least a dozen of
the members, each confidentially telling his friends that _he_
conceived the whole trick."

"That'll make it all the stronger," nodded Dick. "Good thing."

"Glee!" chuckled Len. "Wouldn't the whole town---including the
Board members---wake up, if they only knew that the whole thing
was planned out by a fourteen-year-old freshie, by name Dick Prescott!"

"You won't let it out, Len, that I had any hand in it?" asked
Dick, quickly.

"Oh, not I," promised Len, quickly. "I gave you my word on that,
son, didn't I?"

"Now, see here," Dick went on, "why can't you push this thing
along one day further? Why don't you interview a lot of the prominent
business men on the absolute necessity of football for keeping
up the H.S. spirit and traditions?"

"Good idea as far as it goes," assented Len, dubiously. "But
a lot of the business men might prove to be fossilized, and be
against the grand old game."

"Leave that sort out," hinted Dick, sagely, "and go after the
right kind."

"How'll I know the right kind?" asked reporter Spencer, thoughtfully.

"Why, use your head a bit. There's Beck. He's a millionaire,
and one of the big men of the town, isn't he?"

"Yes; but he may not believe in football."

"Shucks! Of course Beck believes in football," retorted Dick.
"Doesn't his lumber yard furnish all the wooden goods that are
needed for fences, seats, and all that sort of thing up at the
athletic grounds? Doesn't Beck know that, if he said a word against
football, he never get another order for lumber from the H.S.
Alumni association. Then there's Carleson. He's one of the directors
of the railroad, therefore a big enough man to interview."

"Where does Carleson come in on hot interest in football?"

"Use your head," jibed Dick. "Doesn't his railroad have lots
of jobs transporting the football teams to other games, and bringing
other teams here? Don't mobs of fans follow the teams and pay
fare? Why, H.S. football is a dividend-payer to Carleson. Your
own editor, Pollock, will come out for us. Besides the news football
makes for 'The Blade,' just think of the profit from doing all
the poster and ticket printing for us. Then there's Henley, who
sells the team uniforms and other athletic goods _and he's one
of the aldermen_! Why, man alive, there are a score of big men
in town who can't afford to see H.S. football stopped. Here are
some of their names-----"

Dick rattled it along, giving a long list to Len Spencer, who
jotted down the names.

"Thank you; old man," said the reporter, cordially. "I'll get
these interviews, and it'll make a corking good second-day story.
Pollock says I can push this as far as I like, for it has struck
a popular vein. But Pollock says he wouldn't have thought of
it, Dick, if you hadn't set the ball rolling."

"Then he knows the big part that my chums and I took in the game?"
asked Dick, his face showing his concern.

"Yes; but don't worry. Old Pollock is as mum as the grave about
such things. Now, so long, Dick, old fellow. I've got to run
down to the end of this alley to call on a sick friend. Then
I'll hustle out and get a barrelful of interviews that will cinch
and rivet football on Gridley H.S. for a century to come!"

As Len Spencer vanished through one of the doorways Dick Prescott
turned toward the street. As he did so, he jumped back.

"We want you, freshie!" declared Frank Thompson, grimly. "And
we want you badly."

Badger and Butler, who were just behind the speaker, closed in
firmly around the freshman.

"We heard, and we didn't feel ashamed to listen," declared
Thompson. "So you're the genius that has been doing giant's
work for football? You are under arrest, freshie---and I hope
you'll come along without making any row."

Despite the severity of the looks in the faces of these three
seniors, Dick Prescott did not feel very uneasy. He submitted
to walking between Thompson and Butler, while Ben Badger brought
up the rear. The unafraid prisoner was marched along and into
another street, to where the football eleven had its "club room."
This was an unoccupied store, the agent of which allowed the
boys the use of the place, rent free, as long as it remained idle.

When near this headquarters Ben Badger darted ahead, throwing
open the door, while Frank and Ted marched in with their prisoner.

"Attention!" roared Ben.

Nearly all the members and substitutes of the eleven were present.
They were sorting over various bits of football paraphernalia.
Several of them stopped work to look up as Ben Badger slammed
the door shut again.

"Well, what are you making so much noise about?" demanded one
of the second classmen. "You come in with a roar, and all you
bring with you is---just a poor, insignificant little freshie."

"Oh, but what a freshman!" thundered Frank Thompson. "Listen,
fellows, what do you suppose this freshman has done?"

"Lynch him for it, anyway, whatever it is," retorted another.

"Wait!" commanded Thompson. "And listen."

There upon Frank detailed what he and his two comrades had overheard
at the head of the alleyway. Instantly the complexion of things
changed. There were cheers and hoarse yells, as the football
men rushed forward, crowding about Dick Prescott.

"Now I've told all that I heard," wound up Thompson. "We'll have
to ask Mr. Prescott to favor us with the further details, which
I trust he will be inclined to do."

"Mr. Prescott!" That, instead of "cub," "kid" or "freshie." Had
the enthusiasm been less intense Dick would have been sure that
they were having fun with him.

"Go on," ordered Ben Badger briefly. "Talk up!"

To have refused plain orders from a first classman might have
been serious. Dick knew better. Clearing his throat he related
all he could recall of how the plot came to be hatched. Nor was
Dick glory-hunter enough to give himself any more credit than
he did his partners. In his brief account the freshman spread
all the credit for the invention equally over the six members
of Dick & Co.

"'Twas a great thought, and carried out like a campaign," declared
Ben Badger. There was more cheering. Then Frank Thompson dragged
Dick forward once more before the lined-up team.

"Fellows," proposed Thompson, "we owe this freshie-----"

"Stop that!" roared one of the fellows. "Prescott may be
young---painfully young---but he's no freshie."

"Then," amended Thompson, with grave dignity, "we owe a handsome
reward to this---upper classman. May I tell him what the reward
is to be?"

"Go ahead, Thomp!" came an answering roar.

"Then, listen, Prescott. For the great deed you have done for
Gridley H.S. football every member of Dick & Co. deserves undying
fame. As I can't be sure of our ability to confer that, we'll
do the next best thing. In years and class you're all six of
you freshmen. Now, what is expected of a freshman?"

"Why," laughed Dick, "as I understand it, a freshman is a fellow
who doesn't dare to be fresh."

"Hear! hear!" yelled a dozen voices.

"In that respect," proclaimed Thompson, solemnly, "Dick & Co.
shall no longer be freshman at Gridley H.S.! If the spirit seizes
any of you, then go ahead and be fresh---of course, not _too_
fresh! Mix in with the upper classmen, all of you, if you want
to. Have your opinions, and don't be afraid to let 'em out---if
you can't hold in any longer. To the upper class dances this
winter Dick & Co. shall have a bid---if you'll all learn how to
walk and glide across a waxed floor. Remember, when you're among
the fellows, you don't have to keep in the back freshmen row---but
see to it that you don't encourage general mutiny in your class
against the superior upper classes. Finally, you can get sassy
with all upper classman whenever any of you six want to---all
you'll have to do, further, will be to fight."

Another round of cheers confirmed Thompson's declaration.

"Now, fellows, get a move on!" bawled Sam Edgeworth, captain of
the football eleven. "We've barely time to get to the field and
meet Coach Morton punctually."

"Will you let me make one request?" shouted Dick, over the hubbub.

"Yes. Go ahead! Get it out quick!"

"Then please don't let out a word," begged young Prescott, "about
Dick & Co., as we fellows are called, being at the bottom of the
plot against the Board of Education."

"Not a word!" promised Captain Edgeworth, gravely.

Then Dick was hustled good-naturedly to the door, Ben Badger once
more springing forward to hold it open. As Dick hurried out onto
the sidewalk a hurricane of cheers followed him. Then, as the
door was closing, came a fierce burst of the High School yell.

Just as it happened, this parting salute couldn't have been worse
timed. Within four doors Dr. Thornton, the principal, was sauntering
slowly along. He heard tine hubbub, of course, and looked up,
to see Dick Prescott coming out alone, a pleased look on his flushed

Across the street, just coming out of a store, was Chairman Jason
Stone of the Gridley Board of Education.

"Young Prescott! Bless my soul!" murmured Dr. Thornton. "Why
are the football team making such a row over that young freshman?"

In another instant the principal's question all but answered itself.

"Why, I wonder," muttered the good doctor, "if the enthusiasm
in any way relates to the hoax on the Board. Was Prescott at
the bottom of it? I'll keep it in mind and try to find out!"

"If the football crew are making all that row over a mere freshman,"
thought Chairman Stone, "then young Prescott must be the inventor
of the yarn that has made Gridley wonder whether we of the Board
are so many 'dead ones.' Hm! hm! I'll find out if that's the
case. Such a trick is clearly one that would call for expelling
the young man from the High School!"



"Is that mucker going to run today?"

The questioner was Fred Ripley, and his voice was full of disgust.
He glared at Dick Prescott, who was seated unconcernedly on a
stone wall, awaiting the arrival of Tom Reade and Dan Dalzell,
the only other members of Dick & Co. who were to figure in today's

"Is who going to run?" asked Ben Badger.

"That little mucker, Prescott?" insisted Fred.

"Yes," returned Badger, shortly.

"Gridley H.S. is getting worse and worse," growled Ripley.
"Athletics ought to be confined to the best sort of fellows
in the school. These little muckers, these nobodies, ought
to be kept out of everything in which the real fellows take part."

"Don't be a cad, Ripley," retorted Badger, half angrily.

"Oh, I'm no great stickler for caste, and that sort of thing,"
Fred grumbled on. "I'm democratic enough, when it comes to
that, and I associate with a good many fellows whose fathers don't
stand as high in the community as mine does."

"That's really kind of you," mimicked Ben Badger, with another
look of disgust at the rich lawyer's son. "Of course, you feel
just as though anything that your father may have accomplished
puts you in a rather more elect lot."

"Of course, it does," retorted Fred, drawing himself up stiffly.
"Still, you know as well as anyone does, Badger, that I'm not
stuck up just on account of family or position. I'm ready to
give the friend's hand to any of the right sort of fellows. But
what is that little mucker, Prescott? His parents peddle books
and newspapers."

"They run a book and periodical shop, if that is what you mean,"
rejoined Ben, disgustedly, as he looked the young snob over for
the third time. "Some mighty big people have done that in times
past. As to position, Prescott's father isn't a rich man, nor
a very successful one, but I wish I could look forward, some day,
to being half as well educated as Dick's father is."

"A dreamer, a fool, a man who couldn't and didn't succeed," sneered
Fred. "And his son will be a bigger mistake in life. I don't
have anything to do with that kind of people and their friends."

"I'll wish you good-day, then," broke in Badger, crisply, and
moved away. "I want to be reckoned as one of Dick Prescott's
friends. He's one of the most promising young fellows in Gridley

Ripley let loose an astounded gasp. He stood still where Badger
had left him, boiling over with rage. Had Ripley been wise, he
would have chosen another time for anger. Any trainer or physician
could have told this young snob that just before going off on
a long race is the worst possible time for letting anger get the
best of one. Anger excites the action of the heart to a degree
that makes subsequent running performance a thing of difficulty.

Gridley H.S. was out for the October paper chase. This was an
annual event, in which the sophomores, or third classmen, acted
as the hares, while the freshmen played the part of the hounds.
The course was six miles across country. Three courses, of equal
length, were laid down, each with a different terminal. It was
known, in advance, only to the hares, which course would be run
over. But, which ever course was taken, it must be followed to
the end. Five minutes' start was allowed to the hares. Then
the hounds were sent after them in full yelp. By starting time
for the hounds the hares were sure to be out of sight. An official
of the first class, who followed the hares at the outset, gave
the call when the five minutes were up. Beginning with that call
the hares were obliged to scatter bits of paper, as they ran,
all the way to the finish of the run.

All three of the courses were somewhat parallel during the first
five minutes of the run, but, as the hounds had no means of knowing
which course was the right one, the hounds had to divide their
forces until the first of the paper trails was struck. Then the
"baying" of the hounds who found the trail brought the other two
parties of freshmen to them. Usually, four or five upper classmen
ran with the hounds to decide upon "captures" in case of dispute.
A hound overhauling a hare had to throw his arms around the prize,
stopping him fairly for at least fifteen seconds. Then the hare
was sent back, out of the race. Each hound was credited with
the hare he captured.

Twelve hares ran, also twelve hounds. If the hounds captured
seven or more of the hares ere the race was finished, then the
hounds won. If they captured less than six, the hares won. If
six hares were captured, then the race was a "tie." But, as will
be seen, with the five minutes' start, and the hares averaging
a year more of age, the sophomore class usually won this chase.

These rules had originated at Gridley, where the High School boys
considered their form of the game superior to the rules usually

This year, as in previous years, the sophomores felt confident of
winning. The freshmen hounds averaged rather small in size,
though little was known as to the freshmen running powers or
wind. The sophomores were all good runners.

The contestants for positions on both teams had been tried out
three days before, by a committee of men from the first class.
The sophomores had not been allowed to see the freshmen run at
these trials.

The start was to be made at three o'clock on this Monday afternoon.
All the runners were now here, Reade and Dalzell having been
among the last of the freshmen to come up. It was ten minutes
before three.

"Half of the freshmen are a pretty mucky looking lot, aren't they?"
asked Ripley, as he and Purcell, of the hares, strolled by.

"I hadn't noticed it," replied Purcell pleasantly. "I thought
them a clean and able looking lot of young fellows."

"Humph! A pretty cheap lot! I call 'em," rejoined Ripley.

Dick Prescott heard and flushed slightly. He understood the allusion,
coming from the source that it did. But Dick was bent on making
a good run this afternoon, and kept his temper.

"Hares on the line!" shouted Frank Thompson, finally. He was
to fire the shots that started the two teams, then was to run
with the hounds to act as one of the judges of possible captures.

Purcell, who was captain of the hares, led his men forward to
the line laid across the grass. Just before they formed, the
captain gave some whispered instructions. Ben Badger was already
at the line. He was to run with the hares during the first five
minutes, then give the final signal for beginning to scatter the
paper trail.

"On the line there, quick!" called Thompson, watch in his left
hand, pistol in his right. "Ready!"

The hares, each with a bag of torn paper hanging over one hip,
bent forward.

Crack! At the report of the pistol the hares bounded forward.
In barely more than a minute afterwards they were out of sight.

Then followed some minutes of tedious waiting for the Gridley

"Hounds to the line!"

Dick, who had been elected captain of the freshmen team, led his
men forward on all easy lope. Dick took his place at the extreme
left of the pursuing line, with Tom Reade next to him; then Dan

"Ready!" A pause of a few seconds. Crack!

The pistol sent the hounds away. They did not attempt to run
fast. Captain Dick Prescott's orders were against that. The
hounds moved away at an easy lope, for there were miles yet to
be covered. Six miles, in fact, is more than average High School
boys of the lower classes can make at a cross-country jog.
A go-as-you-please gait was therefore allowed. Either hare or
hound might walk when he preferred.

But for the first five minutes the hounds, who divided into three
squads almost immediately, moved along at an easy jog. Every
eye was alert for the first sign of a paper trail. There were
six upper classmen running with the hounds. Ben Badger was somewhere
ahead, hiding in order not to betray the trail. But, when he
had been passed, Badger would jump up and run with the hounds,
making the seventh judge.

"I wonder if we've a ghost of a show to win," muttered Tom Reade.

"Every show in the world---until we're beaten!" replied Dick,
doggedly. "It isn't in the Gridley blood to wonder if we can
win---we've got to win!"

After that Dick closed his lips firmly. He must save his wind
for the long cross-country.

On the left the runners were now in a field. The center was moving
along the highway, the right wing being in a field over beyond.

"Wow-oo! wow-oo! wow-oo!" sounded a deep, far-away chorus.

"There's the trail, away over to the right!" shouted Captain Dick.
"Come on, fellows!"

On an oblique line he led them, toward the road. They took a
low stone wall on the leap, vaulting the fence at the other side
of the road. The center squad had already overtaken the discoverers
of the trail.

"Run easily. Don't try to cover it all in a minute. Save your
wind!" admonished Dick to his own squad.

The upper classmen judges ran well behind the hounds. It was
needful only that they be near enough to see and decide any disputed
point of capture.

It was all of twenty-five minutes over a course that led across
fields and through woods, ere the hounds caught the first glimpse
of their quarry. Yet, all along, the paper trail was in evidence.
One of the hares was required to strew the small bits of paper.
When his bag was empty another hare must begin dropping the white

"I'll bet Ripley dropped along here---the trail is so mean and
difficult," grunted Reade, disgustedly.

"There are the hares ahead---I see two of them!" bellowed Dan
Dalzell, lustily.

A chorus from the hounds responded an instant later. Yes; they
had come in sight of the chase. But the rearmost hares were still
a good half mile away. Then the hares disappeared into a forest,
leaving only the paper trail as evidence of their presence.

"Brook ahead!" sang out Captain Dick. "Go easily and save some
of your wind for jumping."

In a minute more they came to it. Most of the hounds knew when
to start on the faster run that must precede the running jump.

Splash! splash.

Splash! spla-a-ash!

Four of the freshmen floundered in the knee-deep water. Well
doused, they must none the less dash out of the cold water and
continue on the chase.

"Keep a-moving, and you'll soon be dry and warm," Dick called
backward over his shoulder. The four who had been badly wet ran
heavily now, yet afraid of ridicule if they fell out. They were
having their first taste of High School sports, which made no
allowance for quitters.

Twenty minutes later a low hurrah went up from the freshmen hounds.
Dawson, of the hares, found the pace too swift for him. With
a slight pain in his side he lagged so that one of the hounds
put on an extra spurt, then wound his arms around the sophomore.

"Fair capture!" bawled one of the judges, and Dawson, dropping
out, sat down until he could get his wind back.

Within the next twenty minutes four more of the hares fell into
the maws of the hounds.

Five captures! That was fine. Only two more needed, and less
than two miles to cover.

The hares were, at this time, again out of sight in the woods
ahead. But Captain Dick, having saved his wind well, now put
on a slightly better spurt and jogged ahead, full of the purpose
of capturing his second hare. One of the "catches" was already
recorded to his credit.

"There's one of the hares," Dick flashed to himself, as he caught
an indistinct glimpse of a sweater and a moving pair of legs ahead.
"He seems to be losing his wind, too---that fellow."

In a minute more Dick gave another gasp of discovery.

"It's Fred Ripley. I suppose it will be bitter medicine for him,
if _I_ make the catch," thought the young captain of the hounds.

Though he was too manly, too good a sportsman to allow malice
to creep in, Prescott certainly did do his best to overtake the
lagging Fred.

Gradually, the young captain left the hares behind. But Badger,
who was an easy runner, forged ahead so as to keep the leading
hound in full sight.

Hearing some one running behind him, Fred Ripley glanced backward
over his shoulder.

"The mucker!" gritted the lawyer's son. "He mustn't catch me---he

Yet vainly did Ripley try to put on more speed. He kept it up
for a few yards, then knew that he was failing. That ill-advised
anger before the start was surely telling on him now. Dick still
kept forward, gaining a yard or so every few minutes.

"Keep back! Don't you dare touch me, you mucker!" hissed Fred
sharply over his shoulder.

"Mucker?" retorted Prescott. "I'll pay you for that!"

At a bound he covered the distance, throwing first one arm, then
the other, fairly around Ripley. Fred fought furiously to break
the clasp, but was so winded that he couldn't.

"Let go of me! Your touch soils!" he cried, hoarsely.

But Dick still kept his hold, counting: "---twelve, thirteen,
fourteen, fifteen!"

"Fair capture!" rumbled Ben Badger.

The other hounds, or their leaders, were stripping by now. Dick,
at the judge's words, loosed his hold on Fred.

"You cur!" snarled Fred. Then, summoning all his remaining strength,
Ripley hauled off and struck astounded Dick on the face, sending
the captain of the hounds to the ground.

"Take that, mucker!" shouted the assailant.

Those of the hounds who had not shot by, halted in sheer amazement.

Like a flash Dick was on his feet, his eyes flashing, cheeks flushing

"Go on, hounds, go on!" he shouted. "I can take care of this
one disgrace to Gridley H.S.!"



Ben Badger gave Captain Dick a shove. "Go on, Prescott! Go on,
hounds!" roared Badger. "You've only one more capture to make.
Run along, Dick! I'll take care of Ripley. He'll stay right
here until you come back, or else he'll never have the nerve to
show his face at Gridley H.S. again! Run, you hounds!"

Dick needed no farther urging.

Though he was naturally wild with anger, inside, he managed to
keep that feeling down and back. He was captain of the hounds.
He had his duty to his team and his class first of all to think

"Come on, hounds!" he shouted to those who had lagged at sight
of the knock-down. "One more hare in our trap---then we'll be
back here!"

What he meant by being "back here" everyone present could guess.
In fact, many wondered why there had not sooner been a fight
between the freshman and his determined sophomore enemy.

Truth to tell, Dick, after that day in the school grounds, had
been inclined to overlook the whole affair.

He was not afraid of Ripley. It was only that Dick's ordinary
good nature had triumphed. He was not a brawler, yet could stand
out for his rights when a need came.

A third of a mile further on another yell of triumph floated back
to young Prescott, who had not yet regained the lead.

In a few moments more the last of the hounds came upon a flushed,
joyous group of freshmen runners. With them were two of the judges
and a sheepish-looking hare.

The freshmen hounds had won, and had bagged all the hares for
which the game called. Let the five remaining hares keep on running
to the finish, if they would. For the first time in seven years
the freshmen hounds, led by Captain Dick Prescott, had won.

"Ki-yi-yi-yi-yi!" howled the exultant fourth classmen. "And another
for Dick Prescott."

"Dick Prescott has other game on his hands now," spoke up Dan
Dalzell, one of the late arrivals.

"What's the row?" demanded the freshman who had just bagged the
seventh hare.

"Row? That's just it," nodded Dan. "Prescott caught Ripley---"

"We saw that."

"But you didn't see the finish. Ripley, as soon as he was released,
knocked Dick down."

"And _you_ came on with the hounds, Dick!" demanded Tom Reade,

"Badger is keeping Ripley on ice until we get back," Dan supplied,

"Then let us get back quick!" begged Reade.

"Not too fast, though," objected Dan. "Remember, Ripley has been
getting his wind back since he stopped. Give our Dick the
same show."

No one thought of asking why Dick would need his wind now. To
those who had heard the brief recital of facts it was plain that
there could be but one finish to the afternoon's sport. Prescott's
hand was sound, at last, and he could give an account of himself.

"Walk slowly, all hands," insisted Dan. "Dick, old fellow, on
the way back, amuse yourself by getting in all the full, deep
breaths that you can."

"I'll be all right," spoke Dick confidently.

It did not look that way to many of them. Dick was shorter, and
weighed much less than did the sophomore who was waiting back
there under the trees. Ripley had had a good deal of training
in boxing, and was not a coward when he thought the odds on his
own side. What none of the fellows knew, though, was that the
lawyer's son, ever since that scene in the school yard, had been
at his boxing lessons again with renewed energy.

"Play him for delay, at first, Dick," whispered Dan. "If Ripley
can rush you, and get you excited, he'll have a better chance
to win out. If you hold him off, hinder him and delay him, before
long he'll lose some of his nerve. A fellow like Ripley will
begin to go all to pieces, once he gets it into his head that
he has a long and hard job before him."

"I'll do my best," Dick promised. "Hang it, if he hadn't knocked
me down so treacherously, I wouldn't care about fighting. I don't
care so much what he _says_. Fred Ripley's mouth is the weakest
part of him."

The sophomore was waiting, a sulky frown on his face. A few feet
away Ben Badger, a grim look on his usually good-humored face,
leaned against a tree, his arms folded.

Even had he wanted to get away from this, Ripley couldn't have
done it. For a sophomore to find any excuse for getting out of
a fight with a freshman would bring down upon the soph all the
wrath and disgust of the disgraced third class.

"Come on, mucker! Take off your sweater and get ready to take
your real medicine!" snarled Fred, harshly.

But Dick Prescott, young as he was, was much too wise to allow
himself to be betrayed into anger. Instead, he halted a few feet
away, looking with a significant smile at his enemy.

"As I understand it," replied Prescott, "the festivities that
are soon to commence are to decide which is the mucker---which
will go down to the ground to eat his fill of dirt."

Badger, Thompson and Butler took upon themselves the direction
of the coming "affair."

"See here, Ted, you look after Ripley's interests," proposed Badger.

"It's a mean job. I'd sooner have the other side of the bet,"
grumbled Ted Butler, in an undertone.

"I'll look after young Prescott," continued Ben Badger. "Thomp
will do all the honors as referee."

Ripley was already peeling off his sweater.

"Get down to your fighting rig, Prescott," urged Badger, leading
his principal to one side. "How are you, boy?" he whispered,
anxiously. "Feeling right up to the fighting pitch?"

"I hate fighting," Dick answered, simply, speaking so that only
his second could hear him.

"Of course it's necessary sometimes, but I can never quite help
feeling that, at best, it's low-down business."

"So it is," assented Bed Badger, heartily enough. "But what about
it in the case of a sneak like Ripley? If he didn't have other
fellows' fists to fear he'd be unbearable."

"He is, anyway," muttered Dick, just before his head was covered
by the sweater that Badger was helping him remove.

"You've been doing a lot of running this afternoon, gentlemen,"
declared Thompson, as the two combatants came toward him. "Do
you each feel as though you had fighting wind left?"

"I've got as much as the other fellow," replied Dick.

"Don't you dare refer to me as a 'fellow'!" ordered Ripley, scowling.

"I'll call you a girl, then, if you prefer," proposed Dick, with
a tantalizing grin.

"You don't know how to talk to gentlemen," retorted Fred, harshly.

"Be silent, both of you," ordered Thompson, sternly. "You can
do your talking in another way.

"Can't begin too soon for me," uttered Ripley.

"One minute rounds for you, gentlemen," continued Thompson, then
turned to another upper classman, requesting him to hold the watch.
"Now are you ready?"

Ripley grunted, Dick nodded.

"Ready, then! Shake hands!"

"I won't," replied Dick, sturdily, ere Fred could speak. The
latter, though he, too, would have refused, went white with rage.

"Take your places, then," directed Thompson, briskly. "Ready!

Fred Ripley put up a really splendid guard as he advanced warily
upon the freshman. Dick's guard, at the outset, was not as good.
They feinted for two or three passes, then Ripley let out a short-arm
jab that caught Dick Prescott on the end of the nose. Blood began
to drip.

Ripley's eyes danced. "I'll black both eyes, too, before I put
you out," he threatened, in a low tone, as he fought in for another

"Brag's a good dog," retorted Dick, quietly. The blow, though
it had stung, had served to make him only the more cool. He was
watching, cat-like, for Ripley's style of attack. That style
was a good one, from the "scientific" view-point, if Ripley could
maintain it without excitement and all the while keep his wind.

But would he? The freshman, though not much of a lover of fighting,
had made some study of the art. Moreover, Dick had a dogged coolness
that went far in the arena.

Suddenly, Dick let go such a seemingly careless shoulder blow
with his left, straight for Ripley's face, that Fred almost lazily
threw up his right arm to stop it. But to have that right out
of the way was just what Prescott was playing for. Quick as thought
Dick's right flew out, colliding with Ripley's mid-wind with a
force that brought a groan from the taller fighter. Dick might
have followed it up, but he chivalrously sprang back, waiting
for Fred to make the first sign of renewal of combat.

"Time!" came from the boy with the watch.

"Kid, you're going to be all right; you've got your horse-sense
with you," glowed Ben Badger, as he hurried Dick back under a
tree. "Let me see what I can do to stop your nose running quite
so red."

Soon the summons came that took the combatants back to the imaginary
ring. Again they went at it, both sides cautious, for Ripley
was puzzled and a bit afraid. He had not expected this little
freshman to last for a second round. Before the second call of
"time" came Ripley had managed to land two stinging ones on Dick's
left cheek, but the freshman did not go down, nor even wilt under
this treatment. He was proving the fact that he could "take punishment."
Yet Dick did not land anything that hurt his opponent.

"You didn't half try this time," whispered Ben, as he attended
his man in the "corner" under the tree.

"Come on, mucker!" yelled Ripley, derisively, when the two were
summoned for the third round.

"Speak for yourself, fellow," Dick answered, coolly.

"I'm a gentleman, and a gentleman's son," proclaimed Fred, haughtily.
"You're a mucker, and the son of a mucker!"


Dick could stand an ordinary insult with a fair amount of good
nature, when he despised the source of the insult. But now there
was a quiet flash in his eyes that Badger was glad to see.

Ripley started in to rush things. In quick succession he delivered
half a dozen stout blows. Only one of then landed, and that glancingly.
Ripley was puzzled, but he had no time to guess. For Dick was
not exactly rushing, now. He was merely fighting in close, remembering
that he had two striking hands, and that feinting was sometimes

"A-a-a-h!" The murmur went up, eagerly, as the onlookers saw Prescott
land his right fist in solid impact against Ripley's right eye.
Bump! Before Ripley could get back out of such grueling quarters
Dick had landed a second blow over the other eye. Ripley staggered.
A body blow sent him to his knees. Dick backed off but a few

"One, two, three, four, five, six-----" droned off the timekeeper.

Fred Ripley tried to leap up, but, as he did so, Dick's waiting
left caught him a staggering one on the nose that toppled him
over backwards to the ground.

"One, two, three-----" began the timekeeper, but suddenly broke
off, to call time.

"Prescott, you're a bird!" declared Ben Badger, exultantly, as
he led his man away.

"I wouldn't have gone for him so hard," muttered Dick. "But the
fellow started to get nasty with his mouth. Then it was time
to let him have it."

Frank Thompson went over to Ripley, to see whether the latter
wanted to continue the fight.

"That mucker took an unfair advantage of me, hitting me when I was
getting up," grumbled Fred, who now looked a good deal battered.

"Prescott was right within the rules," declared Thompson. "You
would have done the same thing if you had had the chance."

Fred growled something under his breath.

"Are you coming back to the ring?" demanded the referee.

Ripley hesitated. The yellow streak was strong in him, but he
dreaded letting the others see it.

"I'd rather finish this up some other day," he proposed.

"You know you can't do that," retorted Thompson, disgustedly.
"You either have to come up to the scratch, or admit yourself

"Admit myself beaten---by that mucker?" gasped Ripley, turning

"Then come up at the call of time," directed Thompson, and strode
back to the battle ground.

The timekeeper called. Dick Prescott returned to his ground.
Ripley stood back, leaning against a tree. He tried hard to
look dignified, but one glance at his nose and eyes was enough
to spoil the effect.

"Coming, Ripley?" demanded Thompson.

"Brace up, man, unless you want to admit your thrashing," urged
Ted Butler.

"I'll attend to that mucker when I feel like it," growled Fred

The form of the remark was unfortunate for the one who made it,
for it caused one of the freshman class to call out exultantly:

"He sure doesn't feel like it just now. Look at him!"

"Come, if you don't hurry in you've get to admit the beating,"
muttered Ted Butler.

Ripley's reply being only a snort, Butler suddenly drew forth
his handkerchief, rolling it rapidly into a ball.

"In default of a sponge," called Butler, "I throw this up for
my man---I mean principal."

"Ripley being unable to come to the scratch, the fight is awarded
to Prescott," announced Frank Thompson.

"Whoop! Hoo-oo-ray!" The freshmen clustered about were wild with

"You'll have a fine time squaring this with the sophomore class,"
uttered Ted Butler, disgustedly. "Your class, Ripley, will be
sore enough, anyway, over losing the paper chase for the first
time that any of us can remember. Now, for a soph to be thrashed,
in three rounds, by a little freshman-----"

Butler didn't finish, but, turning on his heel, walked over to
join the rest.

There were two sophomores there who had come over at the end of
the paper chase, but neither went to the assistance of his defeated
classman. Ripley, alone, got his sweater back over his head.
The crowd was around Dick Prescott, who felt almost ashamed of
the fight, unavoidable as he knew it to have been.

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