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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10064

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Dick Meets the Boy-with-a-Kick

Evil thoughts can never be cherished, day after day, without leading the more daring or brutal into some form of crime.

Phin, the first three or four times he tried to appear on Main

Street, was "spotted" and hissed by High School boys.

Even the boys of the lower schools heard the news, and took up the hissing with great zest.

So Phin was forced to remain indoors during the day, which drove him out by night, instead.

Had he been older, and known more of human nature, he would have known that the hissing would soon die out, and thereafter he would meet only cold looks.

At home, be sure Phin was not happy. His mother, a good woman, suffered in silence, saying little to her son.

Phin's father, a hard-headed and not over scrupulous man of business, looked upon the incident of expulsion as a mere phase in life. He thought it "would do the boy good, and teach him to be more clever."

Gridley met Milton High School and scored another victory, Milton taking only two points on a safety that Gridley was forced to make.

And now the game with Chester was looming up ahead. It was due for the coming Saturday.

Three times a week, Dick Prescott had his squad out for drill and practice, though he was careful to follow Mr. Morton's suggestion not to get the young men trained down "too fine."

Early one evening in mid-week, Dick sat at his desk in "The Blade" office, "grinding out" some local copy. He was in a hurry to finish, for he was due to be in bed soon. Every member of team and squad was pledged to keep early hours of retiring on every night but Saturday.

In another chair, near by, sat Dave Darrin, who dropped in to speak with his chum, and was now waiting until they could stroll down Main Street together.

"I've just thought of something I want to do, Dick," muttered

Dave suddenly. "I'll jump out and attend to it, now. Walk down

Main Street, when you're through, and you'll run into me."

Prescott, nodding, went on with his writing, turning out page after page. Then he rose, placing the sheets on News Editor Bradley's desk.

"I'm pretty sure you'll find it all right, Mr. Bradley," declared

Dick. "Now, I must get home, for I'm due in bed in half an hour."

"Training and newspaper work don't go well together," laughed the news editor. "However, your football season will soon be over. This time next year you'll be through with High School, and I hope you'll be with us then altogether."

"I don't know about that, Mr. Bradley," smiled Dick, picking up his hat and starting for the door. "But I do know that I like newspaper work mighty well. When a fellow is writing for a paper he seems to be alive all the time, and right up to the minute."

"That youngster may come to us for a while, after he gets out of High School," called Mr. Pollock, across the room, after Prescott had, gone out. "But he won't stay long on a small daily. A youngster with all his hustle is sure to pull out, soon, for one of the big city dailies. The country towns can't hold 'em."

Dick went briskly down the street, whistling blithely, as a boy will do when he's healthy and his conscience is clear.

A block below another boy, betraying the hang-dog spirit only too plainly, turned the corner into Main Street.

It was Phin Drayne, out for one of his night walks. Fearing that he might be insulted, and get into a fight with some one, Drayne had armed himself with one of his father's canes. The stick had a crook for a handle.

Prescott caught a glimpse of the other boy's face; then he turned away, hastening on.

"I'm not even worth looking at," muttered Phin to himself.

Just as Dick went past, Phin seized the cane by the ferule end, and lunged out quickly.

The crook caught neatly around one of Dick's ankles just as the foot was lifted.

Like a flash Prescott went down. One less nimble, and having had less training, might have been in for a split kneecap. But Dick was too much master of his body and its movements. He went down to his hands, then touched lightly on his knees.

Phin laughed sneeringly as Dick sprang up, unhurt.

"Keep out of my way, after this--you less-than-nothing!" muttered Dick between his teeth. "I don't want to have to even hit a thing like you!"

"You'll show good judgment, Mr. Big-head, if you don't try it," jeered Drayne, menacing Dick with the cane.

The color came into Dick's face. Leaping forward, with all the adroitness of the born tackler, he caught that cane, just as it descended, and wrenched it out of Phin Drayne's cowardly, hand.

Crack! Dick broke it in two across his knee, then tossed the pieces into the street.

"You'll never be able to do anything better than a sneaky act," muttered Dick contemptuously, turning to walk on.

With a smothered cry Phin Drayne leaped forward to strike Prescott down from behind.

Dick was around again like a flash, one fist striking up the arm with which the sneak had aimed his blow.

"Stand off, and keep

away," advised Prescott coldly.

"I won't; I'll thrash you!" hissed Phin.

There was nothing for Dick to do but put up his guard, which he did with great promptness. Drayne danced around him, seeking a good point at which to close in.

Prescott had no notion of fighting; neither did he propose to take an assault meekly.

"Look out!" yelled Drayne, suddenly rushing in.

"Certainly," mocked Prescott coolly.

He shot up Phin's arm as easily as could have been desired. With his right he parried another blow.

"Get out of this, and go about your business," advised Dick sternly.

"Think I'll take any orders from you?" snarled Phin. "I'll---"

He continued to crowd in, hammering blows. Dick parried, but did not attempt to retaliate. The truth was, he felt secretly sorry for the fellow who had fallen as low as Phin.

But Drayne was no coward physically, when his blood was up. It drove him to fever heat, now, to see how easily the captain of the football team repulsed him.

"I'll get your wind going, and then I'll hammer you for fair!" snarled Drayne.

"Mistake there, somewhere," retorted Dick coolly.

But Drayne was coming in, harder and harder. Dick simply had to do something. So, after he had parried more than a score of blows the young football captain suddenly took a springy step forward, shot up Phin's guard, and landed a staggering blow on the nose. Phin began to reel. Dick hit him more lightly on the chest, yet with force enough to "follow up" and send to his knees.

"Here, what's this?" called a voice, and a heavy hand seized Dick by the collar behind, pulling him back.

It was Heathcote Drayne, Phin's father, a powerful man, who now held Prescott.

Phin was quickly upon his feet and start forward.

From across the street sounded a warning cry, followed by footsteps.

"Now, I've got you!" cried Phin exultantly. He struck, and landed, on Dick's cheek.

"Stop that, Phin!" shouted his father, without letting go of Dick's collar, however. Phin, however, instead of obeying, aimed another blow, and would have landed, had not another figure bounded in and taken the blow, next hurling Phin back against a brick wall.

It was Len Spencer, "star" reporter of "The Blade," who had thus interfered. And now Dave Darrin was dancing in front of Heathcote Drayne, ordering:

"Let go of Prescott! What sort of fair play is this?"

"Mind your own business!" ordered Mr. Drayne. "I'm stopping a fight."

Not an instant did impulsive Darrin waste in arguing the matter. He landed his fist just under Heathcote Drayne's left eye, causing that Heathcote to let go of Dick in a hurry.

"You young scoundrel!" glared Mr. Drayne, glaring at Dave.

"Opinions may differ as to who the scoundrel is," retorted Dave unconcernedly. "My own notions of fair play are against holding one of the parties in a fight so that the other may hammer him."

"I'll have you arrested for this assault," stormed Mr. Drayne, applying a handkerchief to the bruised spot under his eye. "Both you and Prescott--your ruffian friend for assaulting my son.

"Go ahead and do it," retorted Dave. "As it happens, your son did all the assaulting, and Prescott, who didn't care about fighting with such a thing, only defended himself. We saw it all from across the street, but we didn't come across to interfere until we had to."

"I'll take some of your impudence out of you in the police court," insisted Mr. Drayne.

"Yes, I would, if I were you," broke in Len Spencer coolly. "I saw this whole business, too, and I'll take pleasure in testifying against you both. Mr. Drayne, you didn't see the start of this thing, and I did. But you, at least, know that your son is a moral leper kicked out of the High School because he was not decent enough to associate with the other students. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some of his bad qualities from you, sir"

"You'll sing a different tune in court," asserted Heathcote Drayne heatedly.

"So will you," laughed Len Spencer. "By the way, I see a policeman down the street. If you want to prefer a charge, Mr. Drayne, I'll blow my police whistle and bring the officer here."

Spencer took a whistle from his pocket, moving it toward his lips.

"Do you want the officer!" challenged the reporter.

But Mr. Drayne began to see the matter in a somewhat different light. He knew much about the nature of his son, and here were two witnesses against him. Besides, one was a trusted staff writer for the local paper, and the whole affair was likely to result in a disagreeable publicity.

"I'll think this all over before I act," returned Mr. Drayne stiffly, as he took his son by one arm. "Come along, Phin."

As the Draynes moved away each held a handkerchief to his face.

"I don't think much of fighting, and I don't like to do it," muttered Darrin, who was beginning to cool down. "But if Heathcote Drayne had had to do more fighting when he was younger he might have known how to train that cub of his to be more of a man."

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