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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 13324

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


A Hint from the Girls

There had been nothing rapid in Dick Prescott's elevation to the captaincy of the eleven.

Back in the grammar school he had started his apprenticeship in athletics. During his freshman year in High School he had kept up his training. In his sophomore year he had trained hard for and had won honors in the baseball nine. In his junior year, after harder training that ever, he had performed a season's brilliant work, playing left end in all the biggest games of the season.

So now, in his senior and last year at Gridley High School he had come by degrees to the most envied of all possible positions in school athletics.

The election to the football captaincy had not been sought by Dick. In his junior year it had been offered to him, but he had declined it, feeling that Wadleigh, both by training and judgement, was better fitted to lead the eleven on the gridiron. But now, having reached his senior year, Dick was by far the best leader possible. Coach and football squad alike conceded it, and the Alumni Association's Athletics Committee had approved.

Dick Prescott had grown in years since first we saw him, but not in conceit. Like all who succeed in this world, he had a good degree of positiveness in his make-up; but from this he left out strong self-conceit. In all things, as in his school life, he was prepared to sacrifice himself along whatever lines pointed to the best good.

Dave Darrin, of all the chums, was nearly as well fitted as was Prescott to lead, though not quite. So Dave, with Dick's own kind of spirit, fell back willingly into second place. This year Dave was second captain of the eleven, ready to lead to victory if Dick should become incapacitated.

Beyond these, any of the four other chums were almost as well qualified for leadership. Ability to lead was strong in all the "partners" of Dick & Co.

While they were on the field that afternoon all of the six worked as though football were the sole subject on earth that interested them. That was the Gridley High School way, and it was the spirit that Coach Morton always succeeded in putting into worthy young men. Once back in dressing quarters, however, and under the shower baths, the talk turned but little on football.

As soon as they had rubbed down and dressed Dick & Co. went outside and started back to town--on foot. Time could be saved by taking the street car, but Dick and his friends believed that a brief walk, after the practice served to keep the kinks out of their joints and muscles.

"What ailed old Drayne this afternoon, Dick?" asked Tom Reade.

"Why, he told me that he had hoped to play quarter this season."

"Regular quarter?" demanded Dan Dalzell, opening his eyes very wide.

"That was what I gathered, from what he said," nodded Dick.

"Well, of all the nerve!" muttered Hazelton.

"The star position--for a fellow with a quitter's record!"

"I was obliged to say something of the sort" smiled Dick, "though

I tried to say it in a way that wouldn't hurt his feelings."

"You didn't succeed very well in salving his feelings, if his looks gave any indication." laughed Greg Holmes quietly.

"Drayne went over to coach afterwards," added Dave Darrin. "Mr. Morton didn't seem to give the fellow any more satisfaction than you did, Dick."

"Who is to be quarter, anyway?" asked Harry Hazelton.

"Why, Dave is my first and last choice," Prescott answered frankly. "But, personally, I'm not going to press him any too hard for the post."

"Why not?" challenged Greg.

"Because everyone will say that I'm playing everything in the interest of Dick & Co."

"Dave Darrin is head and shoulders above any other possibility for quarter-back," insisted Greg, with so much conviction that Darrin, with mock politeness, turned and lifted his cap in acknowledgment of the compliment.

"Then coach and the Athletics Committee are intelligent enough to find it out," answered the young football captain.

"That suits me," nodded Dave. "I want to play at quarter; yet, if I can't make everyone concerned feel that I am the man for the job, then I haven't made good to a sufficient extent to be allowed to carry off the honors in a satchel."

"That's my idea, Darrin," answered Dick. "I believe you have made good, and so good at that, that I'm going to dodge any charge of favoritism, and leave it to others to see that you're forced to take what you deserve."

"Of course I want to play this season, and I'm training hard to be at my best," said Reade. "Yet when it's all over, and we've won every game, good old Gridley style, I shall feel mighty happy."

"Yes," nodded Harry Hazelton, "and the same thing here."

"That's because you two are not only attending High School, but also trying to blaze out your future path in life," laughed Dave.

"Well, the rest of you fellows had better be serious about your careers in life," urged Tom. "It isn't every pair of fellows, of course, who've been as fortunate as Harry and I."

"No; and all fellows can't be suited by the same chances, which is a good thing," replied Prescott. "For my part, I wouldn't find much of any cheer in the thought that I was going to be allowed to carry a transit, a chain or a leveler's rod through life."

"Well, we don't expect to be working in the baggage department of our profession forever," protested Harry Hazelton, with so much warmth that Dave Darrin chuckled.

Tom and Harry had decided that civil or railroad engineering, or both, perhaps, combined with some bridge building, offered them their best chances of pleasant employment in life.

Mr. Appleton, a local civil engineer with whom the pair had talked had offered to take them into his office for preliminary training. because at the High School, Tom and Harry had already qualified in the mathematical work necessary for a start.

No practicing civil engineer in these days feels that he has the time or the inclination to take a beginner into his office and teach him all of the work from the ground up. On the other hand, a boy who has been grounded well in algebra, geometry and trigonometry may then easily enter the office of a practicing civil engineer and begin with the tools of the profession. Transit manipulation and readings, the use of the plummet line, the level, compass, rod, chain and staking work may all be learned thus and a knowledge of map drawing imparted to a boy who has a natural talent for the work.

It undoubtedly is better for the High School boy to go to a technical school for his course in civil engineering; yet with a foundation of mathematics and a sufficient amount of dete

rmination, the High School boy may go direct to the engineer's office and pick up his profession. Boys have done this, and have afterwards reached honors in their profession.

So Tom and Harry had their future picked out, as they saw it. As soon as they had learned enough of the rudiments, both were resolved to go out to the far West, and there to pick up more, much more, right in the camps of engineers engaged in surveying and laying railroads.

"You fellows can talk about us going to work in the baggage department of our profession," pursued Tom Meade, a slight flush on his manly face. "But, Dick, you and Dave are in the dream department, for you fellows have only a hazy notion that--perhaps--you may be able to work your way into the government academies at West Point and Annapolis. As for Greg and Dan, they don't appear to have even a dream of what they hope to do in future."

"You fellows haven't been spreading the news that Dave and I want to go to Annapolis and West Point, have you!" asked Dick seriously.

"Now, what do you take us for?" protested Tom indignantly "Don't we understand well enough that you're both trying to keep it close secret?"

As the young men turned into Main Street the merry laughter of a group of girls came to their ears.

Four of the High School girls of the senior class had stopped to chat for a moment.

Laura Bentley and Belle Meade were there, and both turned quickly to note Dick and Dave. The other girls in the group were Faith Kendall and Jessie Vance.

"Here comes the captain who is going to spoil all of Gridley a chances this year," laughed Miss Vance.

"Hush, Jess," reproved Belle, while Laura looked much annoyed.

I see you have a wholly just appreciation of my merits, Miss Jessie," smiled Dick, as the boys raised their hats.

"Oh, what I said is nothing but the silly talk of him Dra---" began Jessie lightly, but stopped when she again found herself under the reproving glances of Laura and Belle.

Dick glanced at one of the girls in turn, his glance beginning to show curiosity.

Laura bit her lip; Belle locked highly indignant.

Prescott opened his month as though to ask a question, them closed his lips.

"I guess you might as well tell them, Laura," hinted Faith Kendall.

"Oh, nonsense." retorted Miss Bentley, flushing. "It's nothing at all, especially coming from such a source."

"Then some one has been giving me the roasting that I plainly deserve?" laughed Captain Prescott.

"It's all foolish talk, and I'm sorry the girls couldn't hold their tongues," cried Laura impatiently.

"Then I won't ask you what it was," suggested Dick, "since you don't like to tell me voluntarily."

"You might as well, Laura," urged Faith.

"It's that Phin---" began Jessie.

"Do be quiet, Jess," urged Belle.

"Why," explained Laura Bentley, "Phin Drayne just passed us, and stopped to chat when Jessie spoke to him---"

"I didn't," objected Miss Vance indignantly. "I only said good afternoon, and--"

"I asked Drayne if he had been out to the field for practice," continued Laura. "He grunted, and said he'd been out to see how badly things were going."

"Then, of course, Laura flared up and asked what he meant by such talk," broke in the irrepressible Jessie. "Then--ouch!"

For Belle had slyly pinched the talkative one's arm.

"Mr. Drayne had a great string to offer us," resumed Laura. "He said football affairs had never been in as bad shape before, and he predicted that the team would go to pieces in all the strong games this year."

"We have a rule of unswerving loyalty in the history of our eleven," said Prescott, smiling, though a grim light lurked in his eyes. "I guess Phin was merely practicing some of that loyalty."

"None of us care what Drayne thinks, anyway," broke in Dave Darrin contemptuously. "He wants to play as a regular, and he's slated only as a possible sub. So I suppose he simply can't see how the eleven is to win without him. But, making allowances for human nature, I don't believe we need to roast him for his grouch."

"I didn't think his talk was worth paying any attention to," added Laura. "I wouldn't have said anything about it, if it hadn't leaked out."

Jessie took this rebuke to herself, and flushed, as she rattled on:

"I guess it was no more than mere 'sorehead' talk on Phin Drayne's part, anyway. Mr. Drayne said he had saved a good deal of his pocket money, lately, and that he was going to win more money by betting on Gridley's more classy opponents this season."

"There's a fine and loyal High School fellow for you!" muttered

Greg.

"Suppose we all change the subject," proposed Dick good-humoredly.

Two or three minutes later Dick & Co. again lifted their caps, then continued on their way.

"Dick," whispered Dave, "on the whole, I'm glad that was repeated to us."

"Why?"

"It ought to put us on our guard?"

"Guard? Against whom?"

"I should say against Phin Drayne."

"But he's merely offering to bet that we can't win our biggest games this year," smiled Prescott. "That doesn't prove that we can't win, does it?"

"Oh, of course not."

"Any fellow that will lower himself enough to make wagers on sporting events shows too little judgment to be entitled to have any spending money," pursued Prescott. "But, if Drayne has money, and is going to bet, he won't be entitled to any sympathy when he loses, will he?"

"Humph!" grunted Dave. "I'd like to have this matter followed up. Any fellow who is betting against us ought not to be allowed to play at all."

"Oh, it was just the talk of a silly, disappointed fellow," argued Dick. "I suppose a boy is a good deal like a man, always. There are some men who imagine that it lends importance to themselves when they talk loudly and offer to wager money. I'm not going to offer any bets, Dave, but I feel pretty certain that Drayne is just talking for effect."

"His offering to bet against his own crowd would be enough to justify you in dropping Drayne from the squad altogether," hinted Greg Holmes.

"Yes, of course," admitted Dick. "But we had enough of football soreheads last year. Now, wouldn't it make us look like soreheads if we took any malicious delight in dropping Drayne from the squad just because he has been blowing off some steam?"

"But I wouldn't trust him on the job," snapped Dan Dalzell. "I believe Phin Drayne would sell out any crowd for sheer spite."

"Even his country?" asked Dick quietly.

And there the matter dropped, for the time. Had Dick & Co. and some other High School fellows but known it, however, Drayne would have borne close watching.

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