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   Chapter 28 No.28

The Dozen from Lakerim By Rupert Hughes Characters: 32772

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Of the Lakerimmers who tried for the baseball team, four men were elevated to the glory of positions on the regular nine.

Sleepy had somehow proved that left-field was safer when he was seeming to take a nap there than it was under the guard of any of the more restless players.

Tug was a second baseman, whose cool head made him a good man at that pivot of the field; he was an able assistant to the right-field, a ready back-stop to the short-stop, and a perfect spider for taking into his web all the wild throws that came slashing from the home plate to cut off those who dared to try to steal his base.

Sawed-Off was the nearest of all the Kingstonians to resembling a telegraph-pole, so he had no real competitors for first base. He declined to play, however, unless Jumbo were given the position of short-stop; and Jumbo soon proved that he had some other rights to the position besides a powerful pull.

Reddy and Heady had worked like beavers to be accepted as the battery, but the pitcher and catcher of the year before were so satisfactory that the Twins could get no nearer to their ambitions than the substitute-list, and there it seemed they were pretty sure to remain upon the shelf, in spite of all the practice they had kept up, even through the winter.

The Kingston ball-team had found its only rival to the championship of the Interscholastic League in the nine from the Charleston Preparatory School. The Kingstonians all plucked up hope, however, when they found themselves at the end of the season one game ahead of Charleston; or, at least, they called it one game ahead, for Charleston had played off its schedule, and Kingston had only one more nine to defeat, and that was the Brownsville School for Boys, the poorest team in the whole League, a pack of good-for-nothings with butter on their fingers and holes in their bats. So Kingston counted the pennant as good as won.

Down the team went to Brownsville, then, just to see how big a score they could roll up. Back they came from Brownsville so dazed they almost rode past the Kingston station. For when they had reached the ballground, one of those curious moods that attacks a team as it attacks a single person seized them and took away the whole knack that had won them so many games. The Brownsvillers, on the other hand, seemed to have been inspired by something in the air. They simply could not muff the ball or strike out. They found and pounded the curves of the Kingston pitcher so badly that the substitute battery would have been put in had they not been left behind because it was not thought worth while to pay their fare down to Brownsville.

The upshot of the horrible afternoon was that Brownsville sent Kingston home with its feelings bruised black and blue, and its record done up in cotton. It was a good thing that Kingston had prepared no bonfire for the victory they had thought would be so easy, because if the defeated nine had been met with such a mockery they would surely have perished of mortification.

The loss of this game-think of it, the score was 14 to 2!-tied the Kingstonians with the Charlestonians, and another game was necessary to decide the contest for the pennant. That game was immediately arranged for commencement week on the Kingston grounds.

And now the Twins, who had resigned themselves to having never a chance on the nine, found themselves suddenly called upon to pitch and catch in the game of the year; for the drubbing the regular pitcher had received had destroyed the confidence of the team in his ability to pitch a second time successfully against the Charlestonians.

To make matters worse, the game was to come almost in the very midst of the final examinations of the year, and the Twins became so mixed up in their efforts to cram into their heads all the knowledge in the world, and to pull out of their fingers all of the curves known to science, that one day Reddy said to Heady:

"I half believe that when I get up for oral examination I'll be so rattled that, instead of answering the question, I'll try to throw the ink-bottle on an upshoot at the professor's head."

And Heady answered, even more glumly:

"I wouldn't mind that so much; what I'm afraid of is that when you really need to use that out-curve you'll throw only a few dates at the batter. I will signal for an out-curve, and you'll stand in the box and tie yourself in a bow-knot, and throw at me something about Columbus discovering America in 1776; or you'll reel off some problem about plastering the inside of a room, leaving room for four doors and six windows."

When the day of the game arrived, however, Reddy and Heady took their positions with the proud satisfaction of knowing that they had passed all their school-book examinations. Now they wondered what percentage they would make in their baseball examination.

Sleepy, however, went out to left-field not knowing where he stood. He knew so little about his books, indeed, that even after the examination was over he could tell none of the fellows what answers he had made to what questions, and so they could not tell him whether or no he had failed ignominiously or passed accidentally. This worry, however, sat very lightly on Sleepy's nerves.

The largest crowd of the year was gathered to witness the greatest game of the year, and Charleston and Kingston were tuned up to the highest pitch they could reach without breaking. The day was perfect, and in the preliminary practice the Kingstonians showed that they were determined to wipe out the disgrace of the Brownsville game, or at least to cover it up with the scalps of the Charlestonians.

At length the Charlestonians were called in by their captain, for they were first at bat. The Kingstonians dispread themselves over the field in their various positions. The umpire tossed to the nervous Reddy what seemed to be a snowball, whose whiteness he immediately covered with dust from the box. The Charlestonian batter came to the plate and tapped it smartly three or four times. The umpire sang out:

"Play-ball!"

Reddy cast a nervous look around the field, then went into a spasm in which he seemed to be trying to "skin the cat" on an invisible turning-pole. Out of the mix-up he suddenly straightened himself. The first baseman saw a dusty white cannon-ball shoot past him, and heard the umpire's dulcet voice growl:

"Strike!"

Which pleased the Kingston audience so mightily that they broke forth into cheers and applause that upset Reddy so completely that the next ball slipped from his hand and came toward the first baseman so gently that he could hardly have missed it had he tried.

The Kingstonian cheer disappeared in a groan as everybody heard that unmistakable whack that resounds whenever the bat and the ball meet face to face. But the very sureness of the hit was its ruination, for it went soaring like a carrier-pigeon straight home to the hands of Sleepy, who, without moving from his place, reached up and took it in.

The Kingston groan was now changed back again to a cheer, and the first batter of the first half of the first inning had scored the first "out."

The Charleston third baseman now came to the bat. Three times in succession Reddy failed to get the ball over the plate, and the man evidently had made up his mind that he was to get his base on balls, for at the fourth pitch he dropped his bat and started for first base, only to be called back by the umpire's voice declaring a strike. To his immense disgust, two other strikes followed it, and he went to the bench instead of to the base.

The third Charlestonian caught the first ball pitched by Reddy, and sent it bounding toward Jumbo, who ripped it off the ground and had it in the hands of his chum Sawed-Off before the Charlestonian was half-way to first base.

This retired the side, and the Kingstonians came in to bat amid a pleasant April shower of applause.

Sawed-Off was the first Kingston man to take a club to the Charlestonians. He waved his bat violently up and down, and stared fiercely at the Charleston pitcher. His ferocity disappeared, however, when he saw the ball coming at a frightful speed straight at him, and threatening to take a large scoop out of his stomach. He stretched up and back and away from it with a ridiculous wiggle, that was the more ridiculous when he saw the ball curve harmlessly over the plate and heard the umpire cry:

"Strike-one!"

He upbraided himself for his fear, and when the next ball was pitched, though he felt sure that it was going to strike him on the shoulder, he did not budge. But here he made mistake number two; for the ball did not curve as the pitcher had intended, but gave the batter a sharp nip just where it said it would. The only apology the pitcher made was the rueful look with which he watched Sawed-Off going down to first base.

The Kingston center-fielder was the next at the bat, and he sent a little Roman candle of a fly that fell cozily into the third baseman's hands.

Jumbo now came to the plate, and swinged at the ball so violently that one might have thought he was trying to lift Sawed-Off bodily from first base to second. But he managed only to send a slow coach of a liner, that raced him to first base and beat him there. Sawed-Off, however, had managed to make second before the Charleston first baseman could throw him out, and there he pined away, for the Kingston third baseman struck out, possibly in compliment to the Charleston third baseman, who had done the same thing.

This complimentary spirit seemed to fill the short-stop also, for he sent down to his rival Jumbo a considerately easy little fly, which stuck to Jumbo's palms as firmly as if there had been fly-paper on them.

The Charleston catcher now found Reddy for a clean base-hit between left and center field. He tried to stretch it into a two-base hit, and the Kingston center fielded the ball in so slowly that he succeeded in his grasping attempt.

The Charlestonian second baseman made a sacrifice hit that advanced the catcher to third. And now the pitcher came to the bat, eager to bring home the wretch at whom he had hurled his swiftest curves. His anxiety led him into making two foolish jabs at curves that were out of his reach, and finally he caught one just on the tip of his bat, and it went neatly into Tug's hand, leaving the catcher to perish on third base.

Sleepy now came to the bat for Kingston, and, without making any undue exertion, deftly placed a fly between the short-stop and the left-fielder, and reached first base on a canter. He made no rash attempts to steal second, but waited to be assisted there. The Kingston right-fielder, however, struck out and made way for Reddy.

Reddy, though a pitcher, was, like most pitchers, unable to solve the mystery of a rival's curves for more than a little grounder, that lost him first base, and forced Sleepy to a most uncomfortable exertion to keep from being headed off at second.

Tug now came to the bat; but, unfortunately, while the hit he knocked was a sturdy one, it went toward third base, and Sleepy did not dare venture off second, though he made a feint at third which engaged the baseman's attention until Tug reached first.

Heady now came to the bat, and some of the Charlestonians insisted that he had batted before; but they were soon convinced of their error when the Twins were placed side by side.

Heady puzzled them even more, however, by scratching off just such another measly bunt as his brother had failed with, and when he was put out at first Sleepy and Tug realized that their running had been in vain. Sleepy thought of the terrific inconvenience the struggle for the three bases had caused him, and was almost sorry that he had not struck out in the first place.

The Charleston right-fielder opened the third inning with a graceful fly just this side the right-fielder's reach, in that field where base-hits seem to grow most plentifully. The Kingston center-fielder was presented with a base on balls, which forced the right-fielder to second base. Now Reddy recovered sufficiently to strike out the next Charleston batter, though the one after him sent into right field a long, low fly, which the Kingston right-fielder caught on the first bound, and hurled furiously to third base to head off the Charleston runner. The throw was wild, and a sickening sensation went through the hearts of all as they saw it hurtle past the third baseman.

The Charleston runner rejoiced, and giving the bag a mere touch with his foot, started gaily for home. A warning cry from his coach, however, checked him in full speed, and he whirled about to see that Sleepy, foreseeing the throw from right-field as soon as the ball left the bat, had sauntered over behind the third baseman, had stopped the wild throw, and now stood waiting for the base-runner to declare his intention before he threw the ball. The Charlestonian made a quick dash to get back to third; but Sleepy had the ball in the third baseman's hands before him.

Now the third baseman saw that the second Kingston runner had also been wavering uncertainly between second and third, ready to reach third if Sleepy threw for home, and to return to second if he threw to third. The third baseman started toward the runner, making many pretenses of throwing the ball, and keeping the poor base-runner on such a razor-edge of uncertainty that he actually allowed himself to be touched out with barely a wriggle. This double play retired the side. It was credited to the third baseman; but the real glory belonged to Sleepy, and the crowd gave him the applause.

Once more Sawed-Off towered at the bat. He was willing to take another bruise if he could be assured of getting to first base; but the pitcher was so wary of striking him this time that he gave him his base on balls, and Sawed-Off lifted his hat to him in gratitude for this second gift.

The center-fielder knocked a fly into the hands of the first baseman, who stood on the bag. Sawed-Off barely escaped falling victim to a double play by beating the fly to first.

Again Jumbo labored mightily to advance Sawed-Off, and did indeed get him to second on a well-situated base-hit. The next Kingstonian, however, the third baseman, knocked to the second baseman a bee-liner that was so straight and hot that the second baseman could neither have dodged nor missed it had he tried; so he just held on to it, and set his foot on the bag, and caught Sawed-Off before he could get back to the base.

The fourth inning was opened by a Charlestonian, who sent a singing fly right over Sawed-Off's head. He seemed to double his length like a jack-knife. When he shut up again, however, the ball was not in his hand, but down in the right-field. It was a master stroke, but, worth only one base to Charleston.

The second man at the bat fell prey to Reddy's bewildering curves, and Reddy heard again that sweetest sound a pitcher can hear, the umpire's voice crying:

"Striker-out!"

The Charlestonian who had lined out the beautiful base-hit proved himself the possessor of a pair of heels as good as his pair of eyes, and just as Reddy had declared by his motions such a readiness to pitch the ball that he could not have changed his mind without being declared guilty of a balk-just at that instant the Charlestonian dashed madly for second base. Heady snatched off his mask and threw the ball to second with all the speed and correctness he was master of; but the throw went just so far to the right that Tug, leaning far out, could not recover himself in time to touch the runner.

[Illustration: "'STRIKER-OUT!'"]

These two now began to play a game of hide-and-seek about second base, much to Reddy's discomfort. There is nothing so annoying to a pitcher as the presence of a courageous and speedy base-runner on the second base; for the pitcher has always the threefold terror that in whirling suddenly he may be found guilty of balking, or in facing about quickly he may make a wild throw; and yet if he does not keep a sharp eye in the back of his head, the base-runner can play off far enough to stand a good chance of stealing third safely.

Reddy engaged in this three-cornered duel so ardently that before he knew it he had given the man at the bat a base on ball

s. This added to his confusion, and seeing at the bat the Charleston catcher who had in the second inning knocked out a perfect base-hit and made two bases on it, Reddy left the wily fox at second base to his own devices, and paid no heed to Tug's efforts to beat the man back to second. Suddenly the fellow made a dart for third; though Heady's throw was straight and swift, the fellow dived for the base, and slid into safety under the ball. In the shadow of this dash the other Charleston base-runner took second base without protest.

The Charleston catcher was evidently determined to bring in at least one run, or die trying. He smashed at every ball that Reddy pitched. He only succeeded, however, in making a number of fouls. But Reddy shuddered for the score when he realized how well the Charleston catcher was studying his best curves. Suddenly the man struck up a sky-scraping foul. Everybody yelled at once: "Over your head!"

And Heady, ripping away his mask again, whirled round and round, trying to find the little globule in the dazzling sky. He gimleted all over the space back of the plate before he finally made out the ball coming to earth many feet in front of him. He made a desperate lunge for it and caught it. And Reddy's groan of relief could be heard clear from the pitcher's box.

The Charleston catcher, in a great huff, threw his bat to the ground with such violence that it broke, and he gave way to the second baseman, who had made a sacrifice hit in the second inning-which advanced the catcher one base. The man realized, however, that a sacrifice in this inning, with two men already out, would not be so advantageous as before. He made an heroic attempt, resulting in a clean drive that hummed past Reddy like a Mauser bullet, and chose a path exactly between Jumbo and Tug. It was evident that no Kingston man could stop it in time to throw either to first base or home ahead of a Charleston man; but since Kingston could not put the side out before a run was scored, the Charlestonians cheerfully consented to put themselves out; that is, the base-runner on second, making a furious dash for third, ran ker-plunk into the ball, which recorded itself on his funny-bone.

When he fell to the ground yelping with torment, I am afraid that the Kingstonians showed little of the Good Samaritan spirit, for the ball-nine and the Kingston sympathizers in the crowd indulged in a jubilation such as a Roman throng gave vent to when a favorite gladiator had floored some new savage.

The Kingston men came in from the field arm in arm, but it was not long before they were once more sauntering out into the field, for not one of them reached first base.

A game without runs is not usually half so interesting to the crowd as one in which there is free batting and a generous sprinkling of runs. The average spectator is not sport enough to feel sorry for the pitcher when a home run has been knocked over the fence, or to feel sorry for a fielder who lets a ball through his fingers and sends the base-runners on their way rejoicing. To your thorough sport, though, a scientific, well-balanced game is the most interesting. He likes to see runs earned, if scored at all, and has sympathy but no interest for a pitcher who permits himself to be knocked out of the box.

A more nicely balanced game than this between Kingston and Charleston could hardly be imagined, and there was something in the air or in the game that made the young teams play like veterans. Each worked together like a clock of nine cog-wheels.

Though the next four innings were altogether different from one another in batting and fielding, they were exactly alike in that they were all totaled at the bottom of the column, with a large blank goose-egg.

At the opening of the ninth inning even the uncultured members of the crowd-those unscientific ingoramuses that had voted the game a dull one because no one had made the circuit of the bases-even these sat up and breathed fast, and wondered what was going to happen. They had not drawn many breaths before the Kingston catcher rapped on the plate and threw back his bat to knock the stuffing out of any ball that Reddy might hurl at him; and, indeed, his intentions were nearly realized, for the very first throw that Reddy made hit the bull's-eye on the Charleston bat, and then leaped away with a thwack.

Reddy leaped for it first, but it went far from his fingers.

Next after him Tug went up into the air and fell back beautifully.

And after him-just as if they had been jumping-jacks-the center-fielder bounded high and clutched at the ball, but past his finger-tips, too, it went, and he turned ignominiously after it. If he was running the Charlestonian was flying. He shot across first base, and on, just grazing second base-unseen by Tug, who had turned his back and was yelling vainly to the center-fielder to throw him the ball he had not yet caught up with. On the Charlestonian sped in a blind hurry. He very much resembled a young man decidedly anxious to get home as soon as possible. He flew past third base and on down like an antelope to the plate. This he spurned with his toe as he ran on, unable to check his furious impetus, until he fell in the arms of the other Charleston players on the bench.

And then the Charleston faction in the crowd raised crawled in at the back door and been ousted unceremoniously!

The Kingstonians had certainly played a beautiful game, but the Charlestonians had played one quite as good. All that the Kingston-lovers could do when they saw their nine come to the bat for the ninth time was to look uncomfortable, mop their brows, and remark:

"Whew!"

The Kingstonian center-fielder was the first to the bat, and he struck out.

Then Jumbo appeared, and played a waiting game he was very fond of: while pretending to be willing to hit anything that was pitched, he almost always let the ball go by him; and since he was so short and stocky,-"built so close to the ground," as he expressed it,-the pitcher usually threw too high, and Jumbo got his base on balls a dozen times where he earned it with a base-hit or lost it on a strike-out.

And now he reached first base in his old pet way, and made ardent preparations to steal second; but his enterprise was short-lived, for the Kingston third baseman knocked an easy grounder to the short-stop, who picked it from the ground and tossed it into the second baseman's hands almost with one motion; and the second baseman, just touching the base with his toe to put Jumbo out on a forced run, made a clean throw to first that put out the batsman also, and with him the side.

The scientists marked down upon the calendars of their memory the fact that they had seen two preparatory school teams play a nine-inning game without scoring a run. The others in the crowd only felt sick with hope deferred, and wondered if that home plate were going to be as difficult to reach as the north pole.

The Charleston third baseman came to the bat first for his side in the tenth inning, and he struck out. The left-fielder followed him, and by knocking a little bunt that buzzed like a top just in front of the plate, managed to agonize his way to first base before Reddy and Heady could field the ball, both of them having jumped for it and reached it at the same time. But this man, making a rash and foolish effort to steal second, was given the eighteenth-century punishment of death for theft, Heady having made a perfect throw from the plate.

The Charleston short-stop reached second on a fly muffed by the

Kingston right-fielder-the first error made by this excellent player.

And now once more the redoubtable Charleston catcher appeared at the bat. Once more he showed his understanding of Reddy's science. This time he was evidently determined to wipe out the mistake he had made of too great haste on his previous home runs. After warming up with two strikes, and letting three balls pass, he found the ball where he wanted it, and drove out into left-field a magnificent fly.

Pretty saw it coming, and turning, ran to the best of his ability for the uttermost edge of his field, hoping only to delay the course of the ball. At length it overtook him, and even as he ran he sprang into the air and clutched upward for it, and struck it as if he would bat it back to the home plate.

It did not stick to his fingers, but none of the scorers counted it as an error on the clean square beside his name under the letter E. He had not achieved the impossible of catching it, but he had done the next best thing: he had knocked it to the ground and run it down in two or three steps, and turned, and drawing backward till the ball almost touched the ground behind him, had strained every muscle with a furious lunge, and sent the ball flying for home in a desperate race with the Charleston short-stop, who had passed third base and was sprinting for dear life homeward.

At the plate stood Heady, beckoning the carrier-pigeon home with frantic hope, Sawed-Off and Reddy both rushing to get behind him and back him up, so that at least not more than one run should be scored.

With a gasp of resolve the Charleston runner, seeing by Heady's eyes that the ball was just at hand, flung himself to the ground, hoping to lay at least a finger-tip on the plate; but there was a quick thwack as the ball struck Heady's gloves, there was a stinging blow at the Charlestonian's right shoulder-blade, and the shrill cry of the umpire:

"Out!"

Once more the spectators shifted in their seats and knit their brows, and observed:

"Whew!"

And now Sleepy opened the second half of the tenth inning. He had a little splutter of applause for his magnificent throw when he came to the plate; but he either was dreaming of base-hits and did not hear it, or was too lazy to lift his cap, for he made no sign of recognition. He made a sign of recognition of the Charleston's pitcher's first upshoot, however, for he sent it spinning leisurely down into right-field-so leisurely that even he beat it to first base. The Kingston right-fielder now atoned for his previous error by a ringing hit that took Sleepy on a comfortable jog to second base and placed himself safely on first.

Then Reddy came to the bat. He was saved the chagrin of striking out to his deadly rival, but the hit he knocked was only a little fly that the pitcher caught. The two base-runners, however, had not had great expectations of Reddy's batting prowess, so they did not stray far from their bases, and were not caught napping.

Now Tug came to the bat; and while he was gathering his strength for a death-dealing blow at the ball, the two base-runners made ready to take advantage of anything he should hit. The right-fielder played off too far, and, to Tug's despair, was caught by a quick throw from the pitcher to the first baseman.

Tug's heart turned sick within him, for there were two men out, and the only man on base was Sleepy, who could never be counted on to make a two-base run on a one-base hit.

As Tug stood bewailing his fate, the ball shot past him, and the umpire cried:

"Strike-one!"

Tug shook himself together with a jolt, and struck furiously at the next ball.

"Strike-two!" sang the umpire.

And now the umpire had upon his lips the fatal words:

"Strike-three!"

For as he looked down the line traced in the air by the ball, he saw that Tug had misjudged it. But for once science meant suicide; for though Tug struck wildly, the ball condescendingly curved down and fell full and fair upon the bat, and danced off again over the first baseman's head and toward the feet of the right-fielder. This worthy player ran swiftly for it and bent forward, but he could not reach it. It struck him a smarting whack on the instep, and bounded off outside the foul-line; and while he limped painfully after it, there was time even for the sleepy Sleepy to reach the plate and score a run.

And then the right-fielder, half blinded with pain, threw the ball at nobody in particular, and it went into the crowd back of third base, and Tug came in unopposed.

And since the game was now Kingston's, no one waited to see whether Heady would have knocked a home run or struck out. He was not given a chance to bat.

CONCLUSION

There was great rejoicing in Kingston that night, much croaking of tin horns, and much building of bonfires. The athletic year had been remarkably successful, and every one realized the vital part played in that success by the men from Lakerim-the Dozen, who had made some enemies, as all active people must, and had made many more friends, as all active people may.

The rejoicing of the Lakerimmers themselves had a faint tang of regret, for while they were all to go back to the same town together for their vacation, yet they knew that this would be the last year of school life they could ever spend together. Next year History, Punk, Sawed-Off, and Jumbo were to go to college. The others had at least one more year of preparatory work.

And they thought, too, that this first separation into two parts was only the beginning of many separations that should finally scatter them perhaps over the four quarters of the globe.

There was Bobbles, for instance, who had an uncle that was a great sugar magnate in the Hawaiian Islands, and had offered him a position there whenever he was ready for it.

B.J. had been promised an appointment to Annapolis, for he would be a sailor and an officer of Uncle Sam's navy.

And Tug had been offered a chance to try for West Point, and there were no dangers for him in either the rigid mental or the physical examinations.

Pretty, who had shown a wonderful gift for modeling in clay, was going some day to Paris to study sculpture.

And Quiz looked forward to being a lawyer.

The Twins would go into business, since their father's busy sawmill property would descend to both of them, and, as they thought it out, could not very well be divided. Plainly they must make the best of life together. It promised to be a lively existence, but a pleasant one withal.

History hoped to be a great writer some day, and Punk would be a professor of something staid and quiet, Latin most probably.

Sawed-Off and Jumbo had not made up their minds as to just what the future was to hold for them, but they agreed, that it must be something in partnership.

Sleepy had never a fancy of what coming years should bring him to do; he preferred to postpone the unpleasant task of making up his mind, and only took the trouble to hope that the future would give him something that offered plenty of time for sleeping and eating.

Late into the night the Twelve sat around a waving bonfire, their eyes twinkling at the memory of old victories and defeats, of struggles that were pleasant, whatever their outcome, just because they were struggles.

At length Sleepy got himself to his feet with much difficulty.

"Going to bed?" Jumbo sang out.

"Nope," drawled Sleepy, and disappeared into the darkness.

They all smiled at the thought of him, whom none of them respected and all of them loved.

In a space of time quite short for him, Sleepy returned with an arm-load of books-the text-books that had given him so much trouble, and would have given him more had they had the chance offered them.

"Fire's getting low," was all he said, and he dumped the school-books, every one, into the blaze.

The other Lakerimmers knew that they had passed every examination, either brilliantly or, at the worst, well enough to scrape through. Sleepy did not even know whether he had failed or not; but the next morning he found out that he should sadly need next year those books that were charred ashes in a corner of the campus, and should have to replace them out of his spending-money.

That night, however, he was blissful with ignorance, and having made a pyre of his bookish tormentors, he fell in with the jollity of the others.

When it grew very late silence gradually fell on the gossipy Twelve. The beauty of the night and the union of souls seemed to be speech enough.

Finally the fire fell asleep, and with one mind they all rose and, standing in a circle about glimmering ashes, clasped hands in eternal friendship, and said:

"Good night!"

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