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   Chapter 5 No.5

The Dozen from Lakerim By Rupert Hughes Characters: 6746

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Tug had stood the praise and applause of his fellow-students, and especially the wild flattery of the Dozen, who were almost insanely joyful over his success in captaining the scrub football team and wiping the earth up with the varsity, until he was as sick as a boy that has overfed on candy. Finally he had slunk away, rather like a guilty man than a hero, and started for his room. Once he had left the crowd and was alone under the great trees, darkly beautiful with the moonlight, he felt again the delicious pride of his victory against the heavy odds, and the conspiracy of his deadly rival in football. He planned, in his imagination, the various steps he would take to reorganize the varsity eleven, to which it was evident that he would be elected captain; and he smacked his lips over the prospects of glorious battles and hard-won victories in the games in which he and his team would represent the Kingston Academy against the other academies of the Tri-State Interscholastic League.

His waking dreams came true, in good season, too; for, under his inspiring leadership, the Kingston men took up the game with a new zest, gave up the idea that individual grand-stand plays won games, and learned to sink their ambitions for themselves into a stronger ambition for the success of the whole team. And they played so brilliantly and so faithfully that academy after academy went down before them, and they were not even scored against until they met the most formidable rivals of all, the Greenville Academy. Greenville was an old athletic enemy of the Lakerim Club, and Tug looked forward to meeting it with particular delight, especially as the championship of the League football series lay between Greenville and Kingston. I have only time and room enough to tell you that when the final contest came, Tug sent his men round the ends so scientifically, and led them into the scrimmages so furiously, that they won a glorious victory of 18 to 6.

But this is getting a long way into the future, and away from Tug on his walk to his room that beautiful evening, when all these triumphs were still in the clouds, and he had only one victory to look back upon.

Tug's responsibility had been great that afternoon, and the strain of coaxing and commanding his scrub players to assault and defeat the heavier eleven opposed to them had worn hard on his muscles and nerves. When he got to his room he was too tired to remember that he had forgotten to take the usual precautions of locking his door and windows, or even of drawing the curtains. He did not stop to think that hazing had been flourishing about the Academy grounds for some time, and that threats had been made against any of the Lakerim Dozen if they were ever caught alone. He could just keep awake long enough to light his student lamp; then he dropped on his divan, and buried his head in a red-white-and-blue cushion his best Lakerim girl had embroidered for him in a fearful and wonderful manner, and was soon dozing away into a dreamland where the whole world was one great football, and he was kicking it along the Milky Way, scoring a touch-down every fifty years.

A little later History poked his head in at the door. He also had left the crowd seated on the fence, and had started for his room to study. He saw Tug fast asleep, and let him lie undisturbed, though he was tempted t

o wake him up and say that Tug reminded him of the Sleeping Beauty before taking the magic kiss; but he thought it might not be safe, and went on up to his room whistling, very much off the key.

Tug slept on as soundly as the mummy of Rameses. But suddenly he woke with a start. He had a confused idea that he had heard some one fumbling at his window. His sleepy eyes seemed to make out a face just disappearing from sight outside. He dismissed his suspicions as the manufactures of sleep, and was about to fall back again on the comfortable divan when he heard footsteps outside, and the creak of his door-knob. He rose quickly to his feet.

A masked face was thrust in at the door, and the lips smiled maliciously under the black mask, and a pair of blacker eyes gleamed through it.

Tug made a leap for the door to shut the intruder out, realizing in a flash that the hazers had truly caught him napping.

But he was too late. The masked face was followed swiftly into the room by the body that belonged to it, and by other faces and other bodies-all the faces masked, and all the bodies hidden in long black robes.

Tug fell back a step, and said, with all the calmness he could muster:

"I guess you fellows are in the wrong room."

"Nope; we've come for you," was the answer of the first masker, who spoke in a disguised voice.

Tug looked as resolutely as he could into the eyes behind the mask, and asked rather nervously a question whose answer he could have as easily given himself:

"Well, now that you're here, what do you want?"

Again the disguised voice came deeply from the somber-robed leader:

"Oh, we just want to have a little fun with you."

"Well, I don't want to have any fun with you," parleyed Tug, trying to gain time.

"Oh, it doesn't make any difference whether you want to come or not; this isn't your picnic-it's ours," was the cheery response of the first ghost; and the other black Crows fairly cawed with delight.

Still Tug argued: "What right have you men got to come into my room without being invited?"

"It's just a little surprise-party we've planned."

"Well, I'm not feeling like entertaining any surprise-party to-night."

"Oh, that doesn't make any difference to us." Again the black flock flapped its wings and cawed.

And now Tug, as usual, lost his temper when he saw they were making a guy of him, and he blurted fiercely:

"Get out of here, all of you!"

Then the crowd laughed uproariously at him.

And this made him still more furious, and though they were ten to one, Tug flung himself at them without fear or hesitation. When five of them fell on him at once, he dragged them round the room as if they were football-players trying to down him; but the odds were too great, and before long they overpowered him and tied his wrists behind him; not without difficulty, for Tug had the slipperiness of an eel, along with the strength of a young shark. When they had him well bound, and his legs tethered so that he could take only very short steps, they lifted him to his feet.

"I think we'd better gag him," said the leader of the Crows; and he, produced a stout handkerchief. But Tug gave him one contemptuous look, and remarked:

"Do you suppose I'm a cry-baby? I'm not going to call for help."

There was something in his tone that convinced the captain of the

Crows.

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