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The High School Left End by H. Irving Hancock

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Then all turned to watch the fight, which was now passing the
stage of preliminary caution.

Several boys and men had run down from Main Street. Now, more
than a score of spectators were crowding about.

"Hurrah!" piped up one boy from the Central Grammar School."
The mucker bantam against the 'sorehead' lightweight!"

There was a laugh, but Bert Dodge didn't join in it, for, after
receiving two glancing, blows on the chest, he now had his right
eye closed by Dick's hard left.

The next instant the bewildered Dodge received a blow that sent
him down to the sidewalk.

"I think I've paid you back, now," Prescott remarked quietly.

At this moment Mr. Prescott, hearing the noise from the back of
his bookstore, came to the door.

"What is the trouble, Richard?" inquired his parent.

Dick stepped over to his father, repeating, in a low voice, the
insult that Dodge had hurled at him.

"You couldn't have done anything else, then!" declared the elder
Prescott, fervently; and this was a good deal for Dick's father,
quiet, scholarly and peace-loving, to say.

Bert and Bayliss walked sullenly away amid the jeers of the onlookers.
Once out of their sight, Bert, fairly grinding his teeth, said:

"Bayliss, I'll have my revenge yet on that mucker Prescott---"
and then, as if struck by a sudden thought, he added savagely:

"The Tottenville game's tomorrow---you know?"

"Yes?" said Bayliss inquiringly.

"Well, wait till tomorrow afternoon, and I'll take the conceit
out of the miserable cur---just you wait."



"Rah! rah! _Gri-i-idley_!"

Again and again the whole of the rousing, inspiring High School
yell smote the air.

It was but a little after noon on Saturday.

It seemed as though two thirds of the school, including most of
the girls, had come down to the railway station to see the High
School eleven off on its way to Tottenville. That city was some
thirty miles away from Gridley, but there was a noon express train
that went through in forty minutes.

Coach Morton and Captain Wadleigh had rounded up the whole of
the school team. All of the subs were there. The coach and members
of the team were at no expense in the matter, since their expenses
were to be paid out of the gate receipts of the home eleven.

To many of the boys and girls of Gridley High School, however,
the affair bore a different look. The round trip by rail would
cost each of these more than a dollar, with another fifty cents
to pay for a seat on the grand stand at Tottenville.

Hence, despite the fine representation of High School young folks
at the railway station, not all of them were so fortunate as to
look forward to going to the game.

In addition to those of the young people who could go, there were
more than three hundred grown-ups who had bought tickets. The
railroad company, having been notified by the local agent, had
added a second section to the noon express.

And now they waited, enthusiasm finding vent in volleys of cheers
and the school war-whoop.

Dick Prescott and his chums stood at one end of the platform. Nor
were they alone. Many admirers had gathered about them. Laura
Bentley and Belle Meade, who were going with the rest to Tottenville,
were chatting with Dick and Dave. Each of the girls carried the
Gridley High School colors to wave during the expected triumphs of
the afternoon.

"I'm glad you're playing today," Laura almost whispered to young

"Why?" smiled Dick

"Why, I believe you're one of those fortunate people who always
carry their mascot with them," rejoined Miss Bentley earnestly.
"With you there, Dick, I feel absolutely certain that even Tottenville
must go down in the dust. Gridley will bring back the score---and
not a tied score, either."

"I certainly hope I am as big a mascot, or possess as big a mascot
as you seem to believe," laughed young Prescott.

"You and Dave are each other's mascots," declared Belle Meade,
with a laugh. "I remember that last year when you were both on
the baseball nine Gridley never lost a game in which you and Dave
both played."

"Nor did the nine lose any other game," returned Dick, "though
there were some games when Dave and I weren't on the batting list.
The nine didn't lose a game last season, Miss Belle, and had
only one tied score."

"Anyway," declared Laura, with great conviction, "it all comes
back to this---that Gridley can't lose today because both Prescott
and Darrin are to play."

"And I believe, young ladies, that you're both much nearer to
the truth than you have any idea of. In today's game a great
deal does depend on Prescott and Darrin."

It was Captain "Hen" Wadleigh, who, passing to the rear of the
group, had overheard Laura's remark, and had made this addition
to her prophecies.

"Here comes the train!" yelled one youth, who was fortunate enough
to have a ticket for the day.

Soon after the sound of the whistle had been heard the express
rolled in. But this was the first section of the regular train.
By some effort the football crowd was kept off the train. Soon
after the second section of the train was sighted as it rolled
toward the station.

"Team assemble!" roared Captain Wadleigh.

There was a rush of husky, mop-headed youths in his direction.

Just then a hand rested on Dick's arm.

"Let me speak with you, just a moment Prescott."

As Dick turned he found himself looking into the face of Hemingway,
plan clothes man to Chief Coy of the Police department.

"I'm awful sorry, lad, but-----" began Hemingway slowly, in a
tone of the most genuine regret.

Dick's face blanched. He scented bad news instantly, though he
could not imagine what it was.

"Anyone sick---any accident at home?" asked the young left end.

"Team aboard, first day coach behind the smoker!" roared Captain
Wadleigh, and the fellows made a rush.

"The truth is," confessed Hemingway, "I've a war-----"

Dick saw light in an instant.

"Oh, that wretched Dodge? He has-----"

"Sworn out a warrant for your arrest," nodded Hemingway.

Laura and Belle did not hear or see this. They were hurrying
rearward along the train.

Few of the football fellows saw the trouble, for they were busy
boarding the car named by Captain Wadleigh.

Dave Darrin was the only one to pay urgent heed.

"See here, Hemingway," began Dave, "Dick will come back---you
know that. He's desperately needed today. Won't it do just as

"No," broke in the plain-clothes man, reluctantly. "I'd have
done that if possible, but Dodge's father put the warrant in my
hand and insisted."

"He?" echoed Darrin, bitterly. "The very man that Dick and I
rescued when he was out of his head and in the clutches of scoundrels
He? Oh, this is infamous---or crazy!"

"I know it is," nodded Officer Hemingway sympathetically. "But
what am I to do when-----"

"Hustle aboard, there, you Prescott and Darrin!" roared Captain
Wadleigh's voice from an open window.

"You hear, Hemingway?" urged Dave.

"Yes; but I can't help it," sighed the policeman.

"We're not going---can't-----" fluttered Darrin. His voice was
low, but it reached the captain of the eleven.

"What's that?" roared Wadleigh, making a dash for the door of
the car. "Keep your seats, you other fellows. I-----"

"You go, Dave---you must!" commanded Dick. "Hurry! The train
is starting. Hustle! Play for both of us."

Dick gave his chum a push that was compelling. Dave yielded,
boarding the step as the end of the car went by him.

"What-----" began Wadleigh, breathlessly.

"I'll explain," panted Darrin angrily.

The train was now in full motion.

"Hey, dere! Stop dot train, quick! Me! I am not off board, yet!"

It was Herr Schimmelpodt, hot, perspiring and gasping, who now
raced upon the platform. For one of his weight, combined with
his lack of nimbleness, it was hazardous to attempt to board the
moving train.

Yet Herr Schimmelpodt made a wild dash for the train. He would
have been mangled or killed, had not Officer Hemingway caught
the anxious German and pulled him back.

"Hey, you! Vot for you do dot?" screamed Herr Schimmelpodt.
"Hey? Answer me dot vun, dumm-gesicht!" (Foolish-faced one.)

"I did it to save you from going under the wheels," retorted Officer
Hemingway dryly.

"Und now I don't go me by dot game today!" groaned Herr Schimmelpodt.
"Me! I dream apout dot game all der veek, und now I don't see
me by it."

"But, man-----"

"Hal's maul." (Literally' "Shut your mouth!")

"Me! Und I Couldn't lose dot game for ein dollar!" glared the
prosperous German.

He stared after the departed second section, from the open windows
of which fluttered or wildly waved many a banner; for few of the
Gridley crowd had yet discovered that one of the most prized members
of the team had been left behind.

Herr Schimmelpodt it was, who, a wealthy retired contractor, had
found his second youth in his enthusiasm over the High School
baseball nine the season before.

Though thrifty enough in most matters, the German had become a
liberal contributor to the High School athletic fund, to the great
dismay of his good wife, who feared that his new outdoor fads
would yet land them both in the poorhouse.

"Vot you doing here, Bresgott?" demanded Herr Schimmelpodt, turning
upon the young prisoner. "Vy you ain't by dot elefen? How dey going
to vin bis you are behint left?"

"You have company in your misery, sir," said Officer Hemingway.
"I'm awfully sorry to say that Dick Prescott can't see today's
game, either. It's a whopping shame, but sometimes the law is
powerless to do right."

"What foolishness are you talking mit, vonce alretty?" demanded
Herr Schimmelpodt, looking bewildered.

"I've just been arrested, on a false charge of assault," Dick
stated quietly.

"You? Und you don't blay by der game yet' By der beard of Charlemagne,"
howled Herr Schimmelpodt excitedly, "ve see apoud dot!"

Digging down into a trouser's pocket this enthusiastic old High
School "rooter" brought up a roll of bills almost as large around
as a loaf of bread.



"What are you going to do with all that wallpaper, Mr.Schimmelpodt?"
laughed Officer Hemingway.

"Me? I gif bail, don't I?" demanded the German.

"Well, you can't do it here. That's a matter to be fixed in court."

"Und dot train going by a mile a minute, I bet you!" gasped the
German ruefully.

"Come along, lad," urged Hemingway gently. "On Saturdays court
opens at one o'clock. We'll get right up there and see this matter

"I bet you've see dis matter through---right through someone,
ain't it?" exploded Herr Schimmelpodt, ranging himself on the
other side of the young prisoner.

As they went along the German, using all his native and acquired
shrewdness, quickly got at the bottom of the matter.

In the meantime indignant Dave Darrin was telling all he knew
about the business to an indignant lot of High School youngsters
in the day coach.

"You keep your upper eyebrow stiff, Bresgott," urged the warm-hearted
German. "I see you through by dis business. Don't you worry."

"Thank you, but it isn't the arrest that is really bothering me,"
Prescott answered. "It's the feet that I'm fooled out of playing
this afternoon. And Darrin and I had been trained for so many
special tricks for today's game that I'm almost afraid my absence
will make a difference in the score. But, Herr Schimmelpodt,
if you want to help me, do you really mind dropping in at the
store and telling my father, so that he can come down to the court
room? Yet please be careful not to scare Dad. He has a horror
of courts and criminal law."

"I bet you I do der chob---slick," promised the German, and hurried

"There goes a man that's all right, from his feet up to the top
of his head," declared Officer Hemingway.

On the streets Dick's appearance with Hemingway attracted little
notice. Folks were used to seeing the High School reporter of
"The Blade" walking with this policeman-detective. The few who
really did notice merely wondered why Dick Prescott was not on
his way to the Tottenville gridiron today.

When Hemingway and his prisoner reached the court room there were
only two or three loungers there, for it was still some minutes
before the time for the assembling of the court.

Presently Bert Dodge and his friend, Bayliss, dropped in. They
glanced at the young left end with no attempt to conceal their
feelings of triumph. Bert looked much the worse for wear.

Dick returned their looks coolly, but without defiance. He was
angry only that he should have been cheated of his right to play
in that big game.

Then in came the elder Dodge, only just back from a sanitarium.
Beside him walked Lawyer Ripley, who immediately came over to
Dick, just before Herr Schimelpodt and Dick's father entered the
room hastily.

"Prescott," began the old lawyer, sitting down beside the young
player, and speaking in a low tone, "I've just been called into
this matter, as I'm the Dodge family lawyer. Had my advice been
asked I would have demanded much more investigation. From what
knowledge I have of you, I don't regard you as one who is likely
to commit an unprovoked assault. Have you any objection to stating
your side of the case bearing in mind, of course, the fact that
I'm the Dodge lawyer."

"Not the least in the world," Dick replied promptly.

It was just at this moment that Herr Schimmelpodt and the elder
Prescott came hastening into the room.

Bert Dodge and Bayliss looked over uneasily, several times, to
where Lawyer Ripley and the young prisoner sat. Dick's father
stood by in silence. He already knew his son's version of the
affair of the day before. Herr Schimmelpodt didn't say anything,
but sat down, breathing heavily.

Then the clerk of the court and two court officers came in. Justice
Vesey entered soon after and took his seat on the bench.

"The case of Dodge versus Prescott---I mean, the people against
Prescott, your honor, is the only thing on the docket this afternoon,"
explained the clerk.

"Is the case ready" inquired the justice mildly.

"I will ask just a moment's delay, your, Honor," announced Lawyer
Ripley, rising. "I wish a moment's conference with my principals."

The court nodding, Mr. Ripley crossed the room, engaging in earnest
whispered conversation with the Dodges, father and son.

While this was going on a telegraph messenger boy entered. Espying
Dick, he went over and handed him a yellow envelope. Dick tore
it open. It was a telegram sent by Dave Darrin, on the way to
Tottenville, and read:

"Fred Ripley said he heard insult offered you by Dodge yesterday.
Get case adjourned to Monday and Ripley will testify in your

Smiling, Dick passed the message to his father. Mr. Prescott,
after scanning the telegram, rose gravely, crossed the room and
handed the slip of paper to Lawyer Ripley.

"If the court please, we are now ready with this case," announced
Lawyer Ripley.

"Proceed, counselor. Mr. Clerk, you will swear such witnesses
as are to be called."

"If the court please," hastily interjected Mr. Ripley. "I don't
believe it is going to be necessary to call any witnesses. With
the court's permission I will first make a few explanations."

"This case, your Honor, is one in which Albert Dodge, a minor,
with the consent of his father, has preferred a charge of aggravated
assault against Richard Prescott, a minor.

"That there was a fight, and that said Prescott did vigorously
assault young Dodge, there is no doubt. Prescott himself does
not deny it. But I am satisfied, if it please the court, that
the case is one in which, on the evidence, young Prescott is bound
to be discharged. I am satisfied that young Prescott had abundant
provocation for the assault he committed. Further, we have received
apparently satisfactory assurance by wire that a witness is prepared
to testify to conduct and speech, on the part of young Dodge,
that would justify an assault, or, as the boys call it, 'a fight.'
Now, your Honor, if the prisoner, Prescott, through his father,
will agree to hold the elder Dodge blameless in the matter of
civil damages on account of this arrest, I shall move to have
the case dismissed."

"Will you so agree, Mr. Prescott," inquired the court, glancing
at Dick's father.

"Yes," agreed the elder Prescott, "though I must offer my opinion
that this arrest has been a shameful outrage."

"My client, the elder Dodge-----" began Lawyer Ripley, in a low

"Case dismissed," broke in Justice Vesey briskly, and Mr. Ripley
did not finish his remark.

Bowing to the court, Dick rose, picked up his hat and started
out with his father.

But once outside Herr Schimmelpodt caught them both by the arm.

"Vait!" he commanded. "I much vant to hear me vot Lawyer Ripley
haf to say to dot young scallavag."

"Are you talking about me?" demanded Bert Dodge, flushingly hotly,
for, just at that moment, he turned out of the court room into
the corridor.

"Maybe," assented Herr Schimmelpodt.

"Then stuff a sausage in your Dutch mouth, and be quiet," retorted
Bert impudently.

"Young man, if your father hat not enough gontrol of er you, den
I vill offer him dot I teach you manners by a goot spanking,"
replied Herr Schimmelpodt stiffly.

"Bert, you will be silent before your elders," ordered Mr Dodge.
"You have come close enough to getting me into trouble today.
Had I understood the whole story of the fight, as I do now, I
never would have backed your application for a warrant."

If you meet with any rebuke from young Prescott's friends, take
it in meekness, for you richly deserve censure."

"As you are only a boy, Bert, and I am your father's lawyer,"
broke in Mr. Ripley, even more sternly, "I have used whatever
powers of persuasion I may have to have this case ended mildly.
The Prescotts might have sued your father for a round sum in
damages for false arrest. And, if you and Bayliss had sworn falsely
as to the nature and causes of the fight, you might both have
been sent away to the reformatory on charges of perjury. Remember
that the law against false swearing applies to boys as much as
it does to men. And now, good day, Mr. Dodge. I trust you will
be able to convince your son of his wrongdoing."

However, the elder Dodge, despite his momentary sternness, was
not a parent who exercised much influence over his son. Half
an hour later Bert had out the family runabout, making fast time
toward Tottenville.

"Bert," said Bayliss, rather soberly, "I'm inclined to think that
Lawyer Ripley was good enough to get us out of a fearful scrape."

"That's what he's paid for," sniffed Bert "He's my father's lawyer."

"Then I'm glad your father has a good lawyer. Whew! It makes
me sick when I stop to think that we might have been trapped into
giving---er---prejudiced testimony, and that then we might have
been shipped off to the reformatory until we're of age!"

"Ain't Fred Ripley the sneak, though!" ejaculated Bert angrily.
"The idea of him standing ready to 'queer' a case against his
father's clients! I thought Fred had more class and caste than
to go against his own crowd for the sake of a mere mucker!"

"Well, the thing turned out all right, anyway," muttered Bayliss.
"We're off in time to see the game."

"And that's more than Dick Prescott will do today," laughed Bert
sullenly. "He can't catch a train to Tottenville, now, in time
for the game."

"If Gridley loses the game today," hinted Bayliss, "I suppose
the fellows will all feel that it was because Prescott didn't
go along. Then they'll all feel like roasting us."

"Oh, bother what the High School ninnies think---or say," grunted

Fifteen minutes later there was a loud popping sound. Then a
tire flattened out, so that it became necessary for the young
men to get out and busy themselves with putting on another tire.
At this task they did not succeed very well until, finally, another
automobilist came along and gave the boys effective help.

So it was that, by the time the pair reached Tottenville, housed
the car at a garage, and reached Tottenville's High School athletic
field, the game was well on.

As the two young men reached the grand stand the Gridley contingent
were on their feet, breathless.

Gridley had the ball down to the ten-yard line from Tottenville's
goal. Captain Wadleigh's signals were ringing out, crisp and
clear. A whistle sounded.

Then the ball was put swiftly into play. Tottenville put up a
sturdy resistance against Gridley's left end.

Dave Darrin had the ball, and appeared to be trying to break through
the Tottenville line, well backed by Gridley's interference.

Of a sudden there was a subtle, swift pass, and Gridley's left
end darted along, almost parallel with the ten-yard line, then
made a dashing cut around and past Tottenville.

Two of the home team tackled that left end, but he shook them
off. In another instant-----

"Touchdown!" yelled the frantic Gridley boosters.

"Touchdown! Oh, you Darrin! Oh, you Prescott!"

Bert Dodge rubbed his eyes.

"Prescott?" he muttered.

"Blazes, but that is Prescott!" faltered Bayliss, with a sickly

"How did he ever get over here in time to play?" demanded Bert

Herr Schimmelpodt could have told. The stout, sport-loving old
contractor had parted with some of his greenbacks to a chauffeur
who had put Dick and himself over the long road to Tottenville.
And the young left end was playing, today, in his finest form!



It was Dave Darrin who kicked the goal. This ran the score up
to six to nothing in Gridley's favor.

It was the first scoring in a game that had begun by looking all
bad for Gridley.

The Tottenville High School boys were bigger than the visitors
and fully as speedy.

In fact, even now, to impartial observers, it looked as though
these six points on the score had been won by what was little
better than a fluke.

"Gridley can't keep this up," remarked the Tottenville boosters
confidently. "They'll lose their wind and nerve against our fine
line before the game is much older."

The first half went out with score unchanged. But Captain Wadleigh
did heave a sigh of relief when the time keeper cut in on that
first half.

"Fellows, look out for the fine points," he warned his fellows,
after they had trotted into quarters. "It'll be craft, not strong
rush, that wins for us today, if anything does."

"Prescott's here. He and Darrin can put anything over in the
line of craft," laughed Fred Ripley.

Ripley was in togs, but was not playing. He was on the sub line,
today, awaiting a call in case any player of his team became disabled.

"Darrin and Prescott are all right," nodded Wadleigh gruffly.
"But they have endurance limits, like other human beings. Don't
rely too much upon any two or three men, fellows. Now, in the
second half"---here Wadleigh lowered his voice---"I'm going to
spare Prescott and Darrin all I can. So you other fellows look
out for hard work."

Dick's eyes were still flashing. This was not from the fever
of the game, but from the recollection of how narrowly he had
escaped being tricked out of this chance to play today.

On his arrival, and while dressing before the game, Prescott had
related to the team the mean trick that had been played upon him.
He had also told how the case came out in court.

"Dodge and Bayliss are traitors to the school!" cried Purcell
indignantly. "We'll have to give 'em the silence!"

"Hear! Hear!" cried several of the fellows.

This, in other words, meant that Dodge and Bayliss would be "sent to
Coventry"---shut out from all social contact with the school body
during the remainder of the school year.

"I think I'm with you, fellows," nodded Captain Wadleigh. "However,
remember that the football team can't settle all school questions.
We'll take this up when we get back to Gridley."

In the second half it was not long before Gridley did go stale
and tired. But so, too, to the disgust of home boosters, did
the Tottenville High School boys.

The game became a sheer test of endurance. Gridley, under Wadleigh,
played with a doggedness that made Tottenville put forth all its

"Brace up, you lobsters," growled Captain Grant of the home team,
after the whistle had sounded on Tottenville's "down" with the
ball. "Buck the simple Gridley youths. Wade through their line
as if you fellows were going to dinner half an hour late. Don't
let them wind you, or stop you!"

Tottenville threw all its force into the following plays. Surely,
doggedly, the home boys forced the ball down the gridiron. At
last Gridley was forced to make a safety, thus scoring two points
for their opponents.

"Don't let that happen again, fellows," urged Wadleigh anxiously.
"Fight for time, but don't throw any two-spots away."

"Rally, men! Brace! Crush 'em!" ordered Captain Grant. "Seven
minutes left! We've got to score."

These muttered orders caused a grim smile among the Tottenville
High School boys, for the only way to tie the score would be to
force Gridley to make two more safeties---a hard thing to do against
a crack eleven in seven minutes!

Dick and Dave Darrin were called into play as soon as the visitors
had the ball in their own hands once more.

The "trick" signal sounded from quarter-back's lips.


There was instant, seemingly sly activity on the part of Gridley's
right wing. Those from Gridley who stood on the grand stand thought
that the coming play looked bad in advance.

"Why don't they use Prescott again?" asked some one anxiously.
"He has been having a vacation."

Then followed the snap-back. Quarter-back started with the ball,
and it looked as though he would dash for the right.

The quarter took one step, then wheeled like lightning, and rushed
after Darrin, who already was in swift motion.

Gridley's whole line switched for the left.

Tottenville found out the trick after the heaviest fellows in
its line had started for Gridley's right.

"Oh, Darrin---sprint! Oh, you Prescott!"

Truly the boosters were howling themselves hoarse.

There was frenzy on in an instant.

To the knowing among the watchers there was no chance for Gridley
to rush down on the enemy's goal line, but every yard---every
foot, now---carried the pigskin just so much further from Gridley's
goal line.

Gridley's interference rushed in solidly about Dave Darrin, as
though to boost him through.

Dick seemed bent on beating down some of the formation surging
against the visitors.

Just as the bunch "clumped" Dave Darrin went down. There was
a surge over him, and then Dick Prescott was seen racing as though
for life.

There was no opposition left---only Tottenville's quarter-back
and the fullback.

Tottenville's quarter got after fleeting Dick too late, for the
whole movement had been one of startling trickery.

One Tottenville halfback was too far away to make an obstructing
dash in time.

In dodging the other halfback Dick dashed on as though not seeing
the fellow. This, however, was all trick. Just in the nick of
time Prescott, still holding the ball, ducked and dodged far to
the left, getting around his man.

Tottenville's fullback was now the sole hope of the home team.

Prescott, however, dodged that heavy fellow, also.

From the Gridley boosters on the grand stand went up a medley
of yells that dinned in the young left end's ears. Panting, all
but fainting, Dick was over the enemy's goal line and he had the
ball down.

When Dave had emerged from that fruitless clumping he had a broad
grin on his face. He saw that while Dick was not yet over the
goal line, only the fullback was in the way and the fullback
was no match for Dick in the matter of speed.

Then the yells told the rest. Back came the ball. Captain Wadleigh
nodded to Dave to kick the goal.

Captain Grant looked utterly wild. He had assured everyone in
Tottenville who had asked him that the Gridley "come ons" would
be eaten alive. And here-----!

Dave made the kick. After going down in that bunch Darrin was
not at his best. Body and nerves were tired. He failed to kick
the goal.

Hardly, however, had the two teams been started in a new line-up
when the time keeper did his trick. The game was over.

That last kick had failed, but who cared? The score was eleven
to two!

Ere the players could escape from the field the Gridley boosters
were over on the gridiron.

Dick and Dave were bodily carried to dressing quarters. Wadleigh,
who had shown fine generalship in this stiff game was cheered
until the boosters went hoarse.

"Gentlemen," cried Coach Morton, raising his voice to its fullest
carrying power as the dressing quarters filled, "it's probably
too early to brag, but I feel that we've got an old-fashioned
Gridley eleven this year."

"Ask Grant!"

"Ask anybody in Tottenville!"

The first yell was sent up by Ripley, the second by another substitute.

All the Gridley members of the team were excited at the close
of this game. Not even their weariness kept down their spirits.

Herr Schimmelpodt didn't attempt to enter quarters. He was now
too much of a "sport" to attempt that. But he stood just outside
the door, vigorously mopping his shining, wet face.

There were two extra places in the German's hired car. Dave,
of course, was asked to fill one of these, and Captain Wadleigh
was invited to take the fifth seat.

More dejected than ever were Bert Dodge and his chum, Bayliss,
as they slouched away from the grounds. They did not attempt
to invade the gridiron and join in the triumphal procession to

"You can't seem to down that fellow Prescott," muttered Bayliss,
in disgust. "Just as you think you've got him by the throat you
find out that he's sitting on your chest and pulling your hair."

"Oh, I don't know," growled Dodge sulkily. "He may have his weak
spot, and it may be a very weak spot at that."

The pair moped along until they reached the garage in which they
had left the runabout.

Bayliss was standing near the doorway, while Bert inspected the
machinery of the car.

"Pest! Look out there," muttered Bayliss, stepping back from
the open doorway.

"What is it?" demanded Bert. "Oh, I see! Old Schimmelpodt brought
the beggar Prescott over here in an auto. That's how the fellow
managed to get into the game, after all. Well, what of it all,

"That car is running along slowly, and it has a full-sized crowd
in it," muttered Bayliss, going closer to his crony. "Wadleigh,
Prescott and Darrin---and maybe the chauffeur is a thick friend
of theirs."

"What on earth are you driving at?" demanded Dodge, glancing up.

"Bert, I don't believe I'm wholly stuck on the scheme of us driving
back to Gridley. There are too many lonely spots along the road.

"Do you think they'd assassinate us?" jeered Bert.

"I---I think Wadleigh may have formed the notion of stopping us
and giving us a thrashing," responded Bayliss.

"Bosh!" snapped Dodge quickly.

Yet, none the less, he paused and looked thoughtful.

"There's more than one road to Gridley, old fellow," muttered
Bert uneasily. "You see Schimmelpodt and that mocker didn't pass
us on the way here."

"But I think they're likely to have guessed our road," persisted
Bayliss. "There was an ugly look on Wadleigh's face, too, as
that car drove past here."

"But old Schimmelpodt wouldn't stand for anything disorderly
and---unlawful," urged Bert.

"I don't know about that," retorted Bayliss significantly. "That
old German has gone crazy over High School sports. He might stand
in for 'most anything. You know, he offered your Dad to give you
a spanking this afternoon."

The thought of Herr Schimmelpodt's big and capable-looking hands
caused Bert to shiver a bit uneasily. Yet he didn't want to
admit that he was scared. He glanced at his watch.

"We've time to catch the regular train back, I suppose, Bayliss."

"Let's do it, then," begged the other.

"Will you pay a chauffeur to take this car home, then?"

"I'll pay half," volunteered Bayliss eagerly.

"All right, then; if you're pretty near broke, we'll divide the
cost," agreed Dodge.

An arrangement was easily made with the owner of the garage.
Then, the charges paid, this pair of cronies, who considered themselves
much better than the usual run of High School boys, hurried over
to the railway station.

The train was waiting by the time that the pair arrived. Bert
and Bayliss hastily purchased tickets, then boarded the handiest
car. The train proved to contain few people except the Gridley
student body and boosters from that town.

"Here, what are you fellows doing in here?" angrily demanded Purcell,
as the cronies entered one of the cars.

"We're going to ride to Gridley, if you've no objections," replied
Bert, with sulky defiance.

"No, sir; not in this car!" declared Purcell promptly. "Too many
decent people here. The cattle car for yours!"

"Oh, shut up!" retorted Dodge, trying to shove into a vacant seat.

But Purcell gripped him and pushed him back.

"No, siree! Not in here! The cattle car is your number."


"We'll pitch you off the train if you have the cheek to try to
ride in this ear," insisted Purcell.

High School boys, when off on a junket of this kind, are likely to
be as wild as college boys. A score of the Gridley youths now
jumped up. It looked as though there were going to be a riot.

"Oh, come on," snarled Bayliss, plucking his crony's sleeve.
"We don't want to ride with this truck, anyway."

Into the next car stamped the two young men, their faces red with
anger and shame.

"Sneaks!" piped up some one.



At the instant of their entrance into the car the air had been
full of merry chatter.

There were many High School girls in this car, and not many vacant

As the word "sneaks" sounded through the car everyone turned around.

Bert and Bayliss found themselves uncomfortably conspicuous.

At once all the talk and laughter ceased. Stony silence followed.

One of the girls was sitting alone in a seat.

Bayliss, unable to endure the situation any longer, glided forward,
dropping into the vacant place.

"That seat is engaged," the girl coolly informed him.

So Bayliss, redder than ever, hurriedly rose.

Bert had already started for the next car. Bayliss slunk along
after him.

"Sneaks!" cried some one, as they showed their faces in still
the next car forward.

Here, too, all the chatter stormed at once.

Bert, pulling his hat down over his eyes, went hurriedly past
the boys and girls of Gridley, and into the next car.

Bayliss followed with the fidelity and closeness of a little dog.

Now, the next car ahead proved to be the smoking car. Here, at
any rate, the despised pair could find safe harborage.

But one of the men of Gridley, who had followed the football team
this day, and who had got an inkling of the story of the arrest,
removed a cigar from between his lips and pointed an accusing
finger at the boys.

"See here, you fellows!" he shouted. "This car is exclusively
for men. Can you take a hint?"

"But we've got to sit somewhere," flashed Bert defiantly.

"I don't know as that's necessary, either," retorted the Gridley
man. "At least, I don't care if it is. After your dirty little
trick, today, we don't want you in here among men. Do we, neighbors?"

There were many mutterings, some cat-calls and at least a score
of men rose.

"You let me alone, you fellows!" yelled Bert Dodge, as he made
a break for the front end of the car. "Don't any of you dare
to get fresh with me!"

By the time he had reached the front end of the car Bert was almost
sobbing with anger and shame.

Bayliss had followed, white and silent.

In the baggage car, to their relief, the sole railway employee
there did not object to their presence.

Bert and his crony found seats on two trunks side by side.

"Dodge," whispered Bayliss unsteadily, after the train had pulled
out from Tottenville, "I'm afraid we're in bad with the school

"Afraid?" sneered Bert. "Man, don't you know it?"

"Well, it's all your fault---this whole confounded row!"

"Oh, you're going to play welsher, are you?" sneered Bert. "Humph!
By morning you'll be a full-fledged mucker!"

"Don't you worry about that," argued Bayliss, though rather stiffly.
"I know my family---and my caste."

"I should hope so," rejoined Dodge, with just a shade more cordiality.

Rather than alight at Gridley, and face the whole High School
crowd---for scores who had not been able to meet the expense of
the trip to Tottenville would be sure to be at the station to
meet the victorious team---Bert and Bayliss rode on to the next
station, then got off and walked two miles back to town.

By Monday morning the punishment of the pair was made complete.

Bert and Bayliss walked to school together. As they drew near
the grounds both young men felt their hearts beating faster.

"I wonder if there's anything in for us?" whispered Dodge.

"Sure to be," responded Bayliss.

"Well, the fellows had better not try anything too frisky. If
they do, they'll give us a chance to make trouble for 'em!"

It seemed as though the full count of the student body, boys and
girls, had assembled in the yard this morning.

All was gay noise until the pair of cronies appeared at the gate.

Then, swiftly, all the noise died out.

One could hardly hear even a breath being drawn.

The silence was complete as Bert and Bayliss, now very white,
stepped into the yard.

Though not a voice sounded, every eye was turned on the white-faced

Bert Dodge's lips moved. He tried to summon us control enough
of his tongue to utter some indifferent remark to his companion.

But the sound simply wouldn't come.

After a walk that was only a few yards in distance, yet seemed
only less than a mile in length, the humiliated pair rushed up
the steps, opened the great door and let themselves in.

At recess neither Bayliss nor Dodge had the courage to appear
outside. As they left school that afternoon they were treated
to the same dose of "silence."

Tuesday morning neither Dodge nor Bayliss showed up at all at

On Thursday morning High School readers of "The Blade" were greatly
interested in the following personal paragraph:

_"Bayliss and Dodge, both of the senior class, High School, have
severed their connection with that institution. It is understood
that the young men are going elsewhere in search of better educational

That was all, but it told the boys and girls at Gridley High School
all that they needed to know.

"That is the very last gasp of the 'sorehead' movement," grinned
Tom Reade, in talking it over with Dan Dalzell.

"Well, they did the whole trick for themselves," rejoined Dan.
"No one else touched them, or pushed them. They took all the
rope they wanted---and hanged themselves. Now, that pair will
probably feel cheap every time they have to come back to Gridley
and walk the streets."

"All they had to do was to be decent fellows," mused Tom. "But
the strain of decency proved to be too severe for them."

In the High School yard that Thursday morning there was one unending
strain of rejoicing.

Some of the other late "soreheads," who had escaped the full meed
of humiliation---Davis, Cassleigh, Fremont, Porter and others---actually
sighed with relief when they found what they had escaped in the
way of ridicule and contempt.

"The whole thing teaches us one principle," muttered Fremont to Porter.

"What is that?"

"Never tackle the popular idol in any mob. If you can't get along
with him, avoid him---but don't try to buck him!"

"Humph!" retorted Porter. "If you mean Prescott and his gang---Dick
& Co., as the fellows call them---I can follow one part of your
advice by avoiding them. I never did and never could like that
mucker Prescott!"

The fact of interest to Dick would have been that he appeared
to enjoy the respect of at least ninety-five per cent. of the
student body of the High School.

Surely that percentage of popularity is enough for anyone. The
fellow can get along without the approbation of a few "soreheads"!



If Dodge and Bayliss devoted any time to farewells among their
late fellow-students before quitting Gridley the fact did not
seem to leak out.

Yet despite the absence of two young men who considered themselves
of such great importance the Gridley High School appeared to go
on about the same as ever.

It was the season of football, and nearly of the school's interest
and enthusiasm seemed to spend itself in that direction. Coach
Morton did all in his power to push the team on to perfection;
the other teachers worked harder than ever to keep the interest
of the students sufficiently on their studies. The girls, as
well as the boys, suffered from the infection of the gridiron

Five more games with other High School teams were fought out,
and now Gridley had an unbroken record of victories so far for
the season.

Such a history can often be built up in the athletics of a High
School, but it has to be a school attended by the cream of young
manhood and having an abundance of public interest and enthusiasm
behind it all.

Not at any time in the season did Coach Morton allow the training
work to slacken. Regularly the entire squad turned out for field
work. If the afternoon proved to be stormy, then four blasts
on the city fire alarm, at either two o'clock or two-thirty, notified
the young men that they were to report at the gym. instead.
There, the work, though different, was just as severe. The result
was that every youngster in the squad "reeked" with good condition
all through the season.

It is in just this respect that many a High School eleven fails
to "make really good." In a team where discipline is lax some
of the fellows are sure to rebel at spending "all their time training."
Where the coach exercises too limited authority, or when he is
too "easy," the team's record is sure to suffer in consequence.
Many a High School eleven comes out a tail-ender just because
the coach is not strict enough, or cannot be. Many a team composed
of naturally husky and ambitious boys fails on account of a light-weight
coach. On the other hand, the best coach in the country can't
make a winning eleven out of fellows who won't work or be disciplined.

Coach Morton's authority was unbounded. After the team had been
organized for the season it took action by the Athletics Committee
of the Alumni Association to drop a man from the team. But coach
and captain could drop the offender back to the "sub" seats and
keep him there. Moreover, it was well known that Mr. Morton's
recommendation that a certain young man be dropped was all the
hint that the Athletics Committee needed.

Under failing health, or when duties prevented full attention
to football training, a member of the team was allowed to resign.
But an offending member couldn't resign. He was dropped, and
in the eyes of the whole student body being dropped signified
deep disgrace.

In five out of the won games Dick Prescott had played left end,
and without accident. Yet, as it was wholly possible that he
might be laid up at any instant, the coach was assiduously training
Dan Dalzell and Tom Reade to play at either end of the line.
Other subs were rigorously trained for other positions, but Dan
and Tom were regarded as the very cream of the sub players in
the light-weight positions.

Dan had played left end in one of the lesser gables, and had shown
himself a swift, brilliant gridironist, though he was not quite
as crafty as Prescott.

Tom Reade had less of strategy than Dan but relied more upon great
bursts of speed and in the sheer ability to run away from impending

Now the boys were training for the team's eighth game, the one
to be played against the Hepburn Falls High School, a strong

"Remember that a tie saves the record, but that it doesn't look
as well as a winning," Coach Morton coaxed the squad dryly, as
they started in for afternoon practice.

"We miss the mascot that the earlier High School teams used to
have," remarked Hudson.

"Yes? What was it?" inquired coach.

"Why, bully old Dr. Thornton used to drop in for a few minutes,
'most every practice afternoon?" replied Hudson. "I can remember
just how his full, kindly old face, with the twinkling eyes, used
to encourage the fellows up to the prettiest work that was in
then. Oh, he was a mascot---Dr. Thornton was!"

Coach Morton was of the same mind, but he didn't say so, as it
would sound like a rejection on the present unpopular principal,
Abner Cantwell.

This afternoon there was no real team practice Mr. Morton wanted
certain individual play features brought out more strongly. One
of these was the kicking of the ball.

After several had worked with the pigskin Morton called out:

"Now, Prescott, you take the ball, and drop back to the twenty-five-yard
line. When you get there name your shot---that is, tell us where
you intend to put the ball. Where doesn't matter as long as it
is a long kick and a true one. After you name your shot, then
run swiftly to the center of the field. From there, without a
long pause, kick and see how straight you can drive for the point
you have named."

"All right, sir," nodded Dick. Tucking the pigskin under his
arm, he jogged back to the twenty-five-yard line.

"Right over there!" called Dick, pointing. "I'll try to drop
the ball in the front row of seats, second section past the entrance."

"Very good, Prescott!"

No one was sitting in the section named by Prescott, but a few
onlookers who had been squatting in a section near by hastily

"The duffers! They needn't think I am going to hit them with
the ball," muttered Dick. Then he started on a hard run.

Just at center he stopped abruptly, swung back his right foot
and dropped the ball.

It was a hard, fast drive. The ball arched upward, somewhat,
though it did not travel high.

But to Dick, standing still to watch the effect of his kick there
came a sudden jolt. A man had just appeared, walking through
the entrance passage. His head, well up above the sloping sides
of the passage at this point, was not right in line with the ball.

And that man was Principal Cantwell!

Several members of the squad saw what might happen, but every
one of them was too eagerly expectant to make a sound to prevent
the threatened catastrophe.

Dick saw and half shivered. Yet in his desire to say something
in the fewest words of warning, all he could think of was:

"Low bridge!"

Nor did Coach Morton succeed in thinking of anything more helpful,
for he shouted only:

"Mr. Cantwell!"

"Eh?" asked the principal, turning toward the coach and therefore
not seeing the ball that was now nearly upon him.

Mr. Cantwell, on this afternoon, having a few calls in mind, had
arrayed himself in his best. He wore a long black frock coat
which, he imagined, made him look at least as distinguished as
a diplomat. In the matter of silk hats, being decidedly economical,
Mr. Cantwell allowed himself a new one only once in two years.
But new one had been due; he had just bought one, and now wore
this glossy thing in the latest style.

There was no time for more warning.

The descending ball was in straight line with that elegant hat.

Bump! The pigskin struck the hat full and fair, carrying it from
the principal's head.

On sailed hat and football for some three feet, the hat managing
to run upside down.

R-r-r-rip! The force with which the football was traveling impaled
the hat on a picket at the side of the stand. Then, as if satisfied
with fits work, the football struck and bounded back, landing
at the principal's feet.

For one moment Mr. Cantwell was dumb with amazement.

Then he saw his impaled hat and realized the extent and tragedy
of his loss. The angered man went white with wrath.

"What ruffian did that!" he roared.

But the boys, unable to hold in any longer, had let out a concerted
though half-suppressed "whoop!" and now came running to the spot.

"Who kicked my hat off?" demanded the principal, pointing tragically
to the piece of headgear, through the crown and past the rim of
which the picket now stood up as though in triumph.

"You---you got in the way of---the ball, sir," explained Drayne,
trying hard to keep from roaring out with laughter.

"But some one kicked the ball my way," insisted the principal,
with utter sternness. "Don't tell me that no one did! That football
could not By through the air without some one propelling it.
Now, young gentlemen, who kicked that ball?"

"I did, Mr. Cantwell," admitted Dick, pushing his way through
the throng. "And I'm very sorry that anything like this has happened,

"On, you did it, oh?" demanded the principal, eyeing the young
man witheringly. "And you actually expect an apology to restore
my new and expensive hat to its former pristine condition of splendor?"

"I didn't know you were there, sir," Dick explained. "You didn't
appear until just after I had kicked the ball."

"Prescott is quite right, Mr. Cantwell," put in Coach Morton.
"None of us knew you were here in the passage until the ball
had been kicked---not, in fact, until the ball was almost upon

"Then, when you saw me, why didn't you call out to warn me?" demanded
the principal, still fearfully angry, though trying to keep back
unparliamentary language.

"I did call out, sir," replied Dick. "There was mighty little
time to think, but I called out the two quickest words I could
think of."

"What did you call?" demanded the principal.

"I yelled 'low bridge!'"

"A most idiotic expression," snorted the principal. "What on
earth does it mean, anyway?"

"It means to duck, sir," Prescott answered.

"Duck?" retorted Mr. Cantwell, glaring suspiciously at the sober-faced
young left end. "Now, what on earth does 'duck' mean, unless
you refer to a web-footed species of poultry?"

"Prescott was rattled, beyond a doubt, Mr. Cantwell," interposed
Coach Morton. "So was I---the time was so short. All I could
think of as to call out to you by name."

"With the result that I looked your way--- and lost my row hat,"
snapped the principal. He now turmoil to take the spoiled article
off the paling. He looked at it almost in anguish, for he had
been very proud of that glossy article.

"It's a shame," muttered Drayne, with mock sympathy.

"That's what it is," agreed Dave Darrin innocently. "But---Mr.
Morton---I think the matter can be fixed satisfactorily. If
you call this to the attention of the Athletics Committee won't
they vote to appropriate the price of a new hat out of the High
School athletics fund? You know, the fund is almost overburdened
with money this year."

"That might not be a bad idea," broke in the principal eagerly.
"Will you call this to the attention of the Committee, Mr. Morton,
For it was in coming here to watch the young men that I lost my
fine, new hat."

"Now, I'm heartily sorry," replied Mr. Morton, "but I am certain
the members of the committee will feel that money contributed
by the citizens of the town can hardly be expended in purchasing
hats for anyone."

"But-----" Mr. Cantwell began to expostulate. Then he stopped,
very suddenly. Just as plainly as anyone else present the principal
now saw the absurdity of expecting a new hat out of the athletics
fund. Mr. Cantwell shot a very savage look at innocent-appearing
Dave Darrin.

"My afternoon is spoiled, as well as my hat," remarked the principal,
turning to leave with as much dignity as could be expected from
man who bore such a battered hat in his hands.

"The hatter might be able to block your hat out and repair it,"
suggested Hudson, though without any real intention of offering
aid. "Our coachman had that sort of trick done to played-out
old silk hat that Dad gave him."

"Mr. Hudson," returned the principal, turning and glaring at this
latest polite tormentor, "will you be good enough to remember
that I am not extremely interested in your family history.

"Back to your practice, men!" called the coach sharply, after
the last had been seen of the back of the principal's black coat.

"It was too bad!" muttered Dick, in a tone of genuine regret.

"Say that again, and I'll make an effort to thrash you, Prescott!"
challenged Hudson, with a grin.

"Well, I am sorry it happened," Dick insisted. "And mighty sorry,

"You couldn't help it."

"I know it, but that hardly lessens my regret. I don't enjoy
the thought of having destroyed anyone else's property, even if
I couldn't help it and can't be blamed.

"Prescott said he didn't know I was there!" exclaimed Mr. Cantwell
angrily to himself. "Bosh! That boy has been a thorn in my side
ever since I became principal of the school. Of course he saw
me---and he kicked wonderfully straight! Oh, how I wish I could
make him wear this hat every day during the balance of the school
year! Such a handsome hat---eight dollars!"

"It's a shame to tell you," confided Dave Darrin, as he and Dick
headed the sextette of chums on the homeward tramp, "but you're
certainly looking in great condition, old fellow."

"I feel simply perfect, physically," Dick replied. "I have, in
fact, ever since I first began to train in the baseball squad
last season. It's wonderful what training does for a fellow!
I know there's a heap of bad condition in the world, but I often
wonder why there is. Why, Dave, I ought to knock wood, of course,
but I feel so fine that it seems as though nothing could put me
out of form."

At that moment young Prescott had no idea how easily a few minutes
could bring one from the best possible condition to the brink
of physical despair.



"Only a team of fools would hope to stop Gridley High School this

Thus stated the Elliston "Tribune" after Gridley had walked through
Elliston High School, one of the strongest school teams of the
state, by a score of eight to nothing.

That copy of "The Tribune" found its way over to Gridley, and
fell into the hands of some of the High School boys.

"Be careful, young men," warned Mr. Morton. "Don't get it too
seriously into your heads that you can't be beaten, or your downfall
will date from that hour. The true idea is not that on can't
be beaten, but that you won't. Stick to the latter idea as well
as you do to your training, and it will be a good eleven, indeed,
that can get a game away from you."

"Only two more to play this year, anyway," replied Hudson. "We
can't lose much."

"The team might lose two, and that would a worse record than any
Gridley eleven has made in five years," retorted Mr. Morton dryly.

"We won't lose 'em, though," rejoined Tom Reade. "Every fellow
in the squad is in a conspiracy to pull the eleven through the
next two games---by its hair, if necessary."

"That line of thought is better than conceit," smiled the coach.

The game with Paunceboro High School came off, one of the most
stubbornly fought battles that Gridley had ever entered. It seemed
impossible to score against this enemy.

Again and again Dick broke around the left end in a spirited dash,
or Dan Dalzell made one of his swift sorties at right end. Then,
by the time that Paunceboro had grown used to end dashes, Gridley
would make a smashing charge at center.

All these styles of attack, however, Paunceboro met smilingly.
In the first half there was no score.

Yet Paunceboro did not succeed any better in getting through or
around Gridley's line of flexible human steel. Until within ten
minutes before the close of the second half, it looked like a
tie between giants of the school gridiron.

Then, by a series of feints in which Prescott, Darrin, Drayne
and Hudson bore off the most brilliant honors, although all under
Wadleigh's planning, Paunceboro was sorely pressed down against
its own goal line.

Just in the nick of time Paunceboro made a safety, and thus sent
the ball back up the field. But it cost Paunceboro two
reluctantly-given points, and that was the score---two to nothing.

Gridley was still victor in every game so far played in the season.
November was now far along, and there remained only the great
Thanksgiving Day game. This contest, against Filmore High School,
was to be fought out on the Gridley field.

"Your football season will soon be over, Dick," remarked Laura
Bentley, one afternoon when Prescott and Darrin, on their way
back from coach's gridiron grilling, met Laura and Belle on Main

"This season will soon be over," replied Dick "but I hope for
another next year."

"And then, perhaps, at college?" hinted Belle.

"If we go to college," replied Dick slowly.

"Why? Don't you expect to?" asked Laura, in some surprise.

"We are not sure," murmured Dick, "that we want to go to college."

"Why, I thought both of you were ambitious for higher education,"
cried Belle.

"So we are," nodded Dave.

"Oh! Then, if not to college, you are going to some scientific
school?" guessed Laura.

"I wonder if you two could keep a secret?" laughed Dick teasingly.

"Try us!" challenged Belle Meade.

Dick glanced at Dave, who gave a barely perceptible nod.

"No; we won't try you," retorted Dick "We'll trust you, without
any promise on your part."

"Good!" cried Laura, in a gratified tone.

"Well?" inquired Belle, as neither boy spoke.

"It's just here, then," Prescott went on, in a low tone, after
glancing around to make sure that no one else was within hearing.
"The Congressman from this district, in a year or so more, will
have the filling of a vacancy at West Point. That means a cadetship
from this district. Now, a Congressman can appoint a cadet as a
matter of favoritism, or to pay a political debt to some relative of
the boy he so appoints. But the custom, in this district, has
always been for the Congressman to appoint the boy who comes out
best in a competitive examination. The examination is thrown
open to all boys, of proper age, who can first pass a good physical

"So you're both going to try for it?" asked Belle quickly.

"No," retorted Dave very quickly. "That would make us rivals.
Dick and I don't want to be rivals."

"Then where do you come in?" asked Belle, glancing curiously at

"Whisper!" replied Dave, looking mischievously mysterious. After
a pause he continued, almost in a whisper:

"At just about the same time there will be a vacancy at Annapolis.
So while Dick is trying to get a job carrying the banner for
the Army, it will be little David trying for a chance to be a
second Farragut in the Navy."

Dick winced at his chum's rather slighting allusion to an Army
career, but on this one point of preference in the way of the
service, the two chums were willing to disagree. Darrin wouldn't
have gone to West Point if he could. Dick admitted the greatness
of the American Navy, but all his heart was set on the Army.

"Both of you boys, then, are planning to give up your lives to
the Flag?" exclaimed Laura.

"Yes," nodded Dick; "do you think it's foolish?"

"I think it's glorious!" breathed Laura.

"So do I," agreed Belle heartily; "though, like Dave, I should
think the Navy would be the more attractive."

"Oh, the Navy is all right," gibed Dick. "It would never suit
me, though. You see, a fellow in the Navy has nothing to do but
ride into a fight on board a first-class ship. It's too much
like being a Cook's tourist war time. Now, any Army officer,
or a private soldier, for that matter, has to depend upon his
own physical exertions to get him into the fight."

"And an Army fellow," twitted Dave, "if he finds the fight too
hard for him, can always dig a hole and hide in it. But where
can a naval officer hide?"

"Oh, he has it easy enough, anyway, hiding behind armor plate,"
scoffed Dick.

"Of one thing I feel certain, anyway," said Laura thoughtfully.
"You are both of you cut out for the military life. Under the
most fearful conditions I don't believe either one of you would
ever show the white feather."

"I don't know," replied Dick gravely. "Neither one of us has
ever been tested sufficiently. But I hope you're right, Laura.
I'd sooner be dead, at this instant, than to feel that my cowardice
would ever throw the slightest stain on the grand old Flag. I
try to be generous in my opinions of others. I think I can stand
almost any man except---the coward!"

"I'm not a bit afraid of either one of you, on that score," broke
in Belle warmly.

"That's very kind of you," nodded Dave. "But of course you don't
know any more about our bravery than we do ourselves. It has
never been proven."

"How many young men have been killed in football this year?" asked
Laura quietly.

"I think the paper stated, the other day, that it was something
more than forty," replied Dick.

"Well, don't you two play football," demanded Laura. "Don't you
both jump into the crush as fearlessly as anyone, Doesn't it take
about as much nerve to play fast and furious football as it does
to fight on the battlefields Isn't football, in its hardest form,
a great training for the soldiers"

"Oh, perhaps," laughed Dick. "For that matter, Laura, I believe
you could soon talk me into believing that I'm braver than good
old Phil Sheridan!"

"Hullo," muttered Dave suddenly. "What-----"

"Where's the crowd rushing!" demanded Belle, in the same breath.

"There's some trouble down the street!" cried Darrin. "And smoke,

"It's a fire!" cried Dick, wheeling about. "Come along---all!"

As the girls started to scurry down the street Dick caught Laura's
nearer arm to aid her. Dave did as much for Belle.

These four young people were among the first hundred and fifty
to gather on the sidewalk before a store and office building that
was on fire.

It was a five story building. Fire had started in back on the
second floor. Originating in offices empty at the time, the blaze
had gained good headway ere it was discovered. It had eaten up
to the third and fourth floors, and was now sweeping frontward.
On the third floor the heat had cracked the window glass, and
the air, rushing in, had fanned up a brisk blaze. Flames were
beginning to shoot out their fiery tongues through these third
story windows.

"Is everyone out of that building?" demanded the policeman on
the beat, rushing up. He had just learned that a citizen had
gone to ring in the fire alarm, so now the policeman's next thought
was directed toward life saving.

There was a quick count of those who had been in the offices on
the upper floors.

On the fourth floor one suite of offices had been occupied as
a china painting school. Miss Trent, the teacher, who had reached
the sidewalk safely, now looked about her anxiously.

"I had only one pupil up there, Miss Grace Dodge," replied Miss
Trent, hurriedly. "I called to her and then ran. Miss Dodge
started after me, then rushed back to get her purse, palette and
color case."

"Has anyone seen Miss Dodge?" demanded the policeman.

No one had.

"Then I'll get up there, if I can," muttered the officer.

Dropping belt and club to the sidewalk, and pulling his helmet
down tight on his head, the policeman darted into the building
and up the stairs.

At that moment, above the smoke and flames pouring out of the
third story windows, Grace Dodge appeared at one of the windows
on the fourth floor. She was hatless, and a streak of blood appeared
over her left temple.

"Don't jump!" shouted several men loudly. "A policeman has just
started up to get you."

Miss Dodge appeared somewhat dazed; it was a question whether
she understood. But her face disappeared from the window way.
To many of the horrified ones below, it appeared as though the
imperiled girl had swayed dizzily away from the window, as though
overcome by the heat and fumes from the windows below her.

"Where is the fire department? Is it never coming?" wailed one
woman in the throng, wringing her hands.

No one here knew that the citizen who had rushed to send in the
alarm had found the first box out of order. He was now rushing
to another alarm box.

Out of the hallway came the policeman, white-faced and tottering

"I---I couldn't get up much above the second floor," he gasped,
in a voice out of which the strength was gone. "I---I guess
the---heat and smoke got me! But---some one---must try!"

Where was that fire department?

Dick, staring over the crowd, found that all of his chums had

"Come on, fellows!" he yelled. "We've got to do something. Follow

Prescott, after one swift glance at the buildings, made a dash
for the door of the one just to the right of the blazing pile.
Into the stairway entrance he dashed, followed by Dave Darrin,
by Tom Reade, Greg Holmes, Dan Dalzell and Harry Hazelton.

"Hurrah!" yelled some one, in infectious enthusiasm. "Dick &
Co. to the rescue!"



That became instantly the cry:

"Dick & Co. to the rescue!"

Yet none of the sextette heard it.

They were all inside, at the first step of their projected deed of

"All of you but Dave run through the offices!" yelled Dick. "Some
of the tenants must have fire-rope coils. Grab the first rope
you can find and bring it to me on the roof. Hustle! Dave, you
follow me!"

Even to boys daily grilled on the football gridiron it was no
mere matter of sport to dart up five flights of stairs at fast

Dick Prescott was panting as he reached the roof and threw open
the skylight door.

But he got out on the roof, hurrying across it, doing his best,
at the same time, to gulp in chestfuls of fresh air.

Then he came to the edge of the roof next to the burning building.

The roof of that other building was about fifteen feet below the
Roof on which Dick Prescott stood.

After an instant of swift calculation young Prescott jumped.

He landed, below, on the balls of his feet, though the next instant
the momentum of the fall carried him forward onto his hands.

In another twinkling Prescott was up, running toward the front
edge of the building.

He stopped at the skylight door, but discovered that the flames
and smoke below shut off hope there. So he continued to the front
of the roof.

Here Dick glanced back, for a second, to make sure that Dave
had followed safely.

Darrin was on his feet, and waved his hand reassuringly.

Then Dick Prescott leaned out, peering down at the front of the
burning building.

"There's Prescott!" shouted some of the most enthusiastic watchers.

"Hurrah. Old Gridley High School!"

But Dick paid no heed to the crowd. He was trying to locate the
window at which Grace Dodge had appeared, and was trying to contrive
how he would use a rope when one came.

In the meantime Darrin, having jumped to the lower roof, remained
where he had dropped, awaiting the arrival of the other fellows
with a rope.

After a few moments they came. Reade had a coil of inch rope,
which he waved enthusiastically.

"Wait until we get the rope uncoiled," called Greg. "Then we'll
lower some of us down to join you"

"Lower---nothing! Jump!" yelled Dave, in a stentorian quarter-deck

Greg obeyed, instanter. Tom flung the coil of rope below, then
followed it. Hazelton and Dalzell, an instant later, were with
their comrades.

"Come on, now," ordered Darrin, who had snatched up the coil of
rope and was darting over the roof. "Dick's waiting for us."

Prescott, still looking below, heard the swish of ropes on the
roof as Dave uncoiled and threw the lengths out.

"Good!" yelled Dick, looking back. "Tom, you take a turn or two
of the rope around that chimney, for anchor. Dave, you stand
here at the roof edge to pay out the rope. Greg, you and Dan
get in behind Dave to help on the hoist. See, Dave! That third
window from the end--- there's where the rope wants to go."

"You going down the rope?" queried Darrin dryly.


"Wait, then, and I'll tie some knots in it."

"No time for that," vetoed Dick sharply.

"I'll have to take my chances. Miss Dodge may be smothering,
or burning. Pay it out---fast!"

Dick watched until he saw that the rope had gone low enough, and
that it hung before the right window.

"Now, brace yourselves, fellows!" he called, between his hands,
for the roar of the flames and the crackling of timbers made some
sort of trumpet necessary, even at short range.

On his knees, his back to the street, at the edge of the roof,
Dick Prescott seized the rope.

Then, with a fervent inward prayer, he started over the edge, and
hung in the air, eighty feet from the ground.

Down below, the ever-increasing crowd let out a cyclonic, roaring
cheer. It was a foolish thing to do, for it might have rattled
the young football player. But Prescott paid no attention to
the racket, and kept on lowering himself, coolly.

Here was where his gym. training and all his football practice came in
splendidly. Every muscle was strong, every nerve true to its

Not once did Prescott fear that he would lose his grip and fall to
the street below.

Up above, at the roof's edge, stood Darrin, directing as though
from quarter-deck or military-top. Dave had to lean rather far
out, at that great height, but it did not make him dizzy.

"There! The grand old chap has landed on the window-sill!
He has gone inside!" cried Dave, turning to his comrades. "Now
we can wait until we feel a signal-pull on the rope."

As he turned away from the smoke that was coming up through the
air Darrin realized how much smoke he had inhaled. He thumped
his chest lightly, taking deep breaths.

Dick was in the studio now.

Close to the window, where the draught was strongest, Prescott
found the smoke so thick that he had to grope his way through
it; but bending low, he quickly came to where Grace Dodge lay
unconscious on the floor.

She looked lifeless, as she lay there.

"Whew! I'm afraid she's a goner, already!" thought Dick, with
a great surge of compassion.

However, seizing the unconscious girl by the shoulders he dragged
her swiftly over the floor to the window through which he had come.

The rope still dangled there.

Seizing it, Dick gave it a gentle pull---not too hard, for fear
the jerk might catch good old Dave of his guard and yank him over
the roof's edge.

In another instant Darrin was "back on the job," peering down.

Dick made a signal that Dave understood perfectly.

Prescott's next care was to knot his end of the rope swiftly around
Grace's body, above the waist, adjusting the coils so that considerable
of the strain would come under the shoulders, where it could best
be borne.

Once more Dick leaned out of the window, making motions. Dave
Darrin nodded. The fascinated crowd in the street looked up,
breathless. Few now even thought to wonder why the fire department
did not appear.

At Dave's command the others on the roof with him began to hoist.
Slowly, Dick aided Grace's body through the window. Then the
girl, motionless, so far as she herself was concerned, swung in
the air, slowly ascending.

Now groans of horror went up from the street. It seemed to the
onlookers below as though a dead body were being hoisted.

Dick had made a loose hitch of the end of the rope so that it
bound the girl's skirt about her ankles.

As he watched, he saw the swinging body steady at the roof edge.
Then Grace disappeared from his sight as Dave and the others
hauled her to momentary safety.

"Ugh!" gasped young Prescott. The smoke and the hot air, filling
his lungs, drove him back from the open window to a spot where
the draught was less intense.

After a few moments he heard something clattering against the
window frame.

"What is it?" wondered Dick, dreamily, for his senses were leaving

Rousing himself, by a supreme effort of the will, the young football
player staggered toward the window. It was the rope, which Dave
had lowered for him. And thoughtful Darrin had swiftly knotted
a strong slip-noose at the end.

Dick had just strength and consciousness enough left to slip this
noose over his head and down under his armpits, drawing the noose
tight. Then---so fast was the hot air and smoke overcoming him
that he had to fight for it!---Dick forced his way to the sill
and gave a hard tug at the rope. Then he reeled, falling back
senseless upon the floor.

In that same instant, not far behind him, the flames burst through
the flooring.

There must be some quick work, now, or Dick Prescott would meet
a hero's death at seventeen!



Dave Darrin did not falter in his duty for an instant.

He had been waiting for that tug on the rope.

Now he leaned out, and as far over as was possible without pitching
himself headlong into the street below.

"Dick! Oh, Dick!" he roared.

There was, of course, no answer, for young Prescott day senseless
on the floor, smoke and hot air filling his lungs, the creeping
flames threatening to pounce upon and devour him.

Wondering, Dave gave a slight signal tug himself at the rope.

From below there was no answer.

"Something uncanny has happened, down there!" muttered Darrin.

"What's wrong?" called Reade.

"I wish I knew," muttered Dave. "There is no further signaling."


That was as far as Tom got with his hint at an explanation.

"Cut it," retorted Darrin briskly. "Keep the rope steady. I'm
going down there."

"Can you-----"

"Yes!" blazed Dave recklessly. "Watch me. Here goes nothing!"

As the last three words left his lips Darrin swung free over the
roof edge.

He was going down the straining, smooth rope now, hand under hand.

The dense crowd in the street below was quick to realize that
something new and tragic was on the cards.

A gasp of suspense went up as Dave slowly went down.

Many in the street uttered a silent prayer---for heroes are ever
dear to the multitude.

Dave's task now was more dangerous than Dick's original undertaking
had been.

The smoke was rolling up with ever increasing density.

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