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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 11872

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Dick Puts "A Better Man" in His Place

Of course Dick heard no more from the Draynes. He didn't expect that he would.

Phin, however, was noticed no more on the streets of the little city. Then, in some way, it leaked out that his father had sent him to a military boarding school where the discipline was credited with being very rigid.

"I guess papa has found that his little boy was none too much of an angel," laughed Dave Darrin when discussing the news with his chums.

The first four games of the season went off successfully for Gridley, though all were hard battles in which only fine leadership and splendid team work by all saved the day.

Two of these games had been played on the home grounds, two away from home. The fifth game of the season was scheduled to be played on the home grounds. The opponent for this game was to be Hallam Heights High School. The Hallam boys were a somewhat aristocratic lot, but not snobbish, and the Gridley young men looked forward to an exciting and pleasant game. It was the first game ever played between Gridley and Hallam Heights. Coach Morton talked about the strangers one rainy afternoon in the gymnasium.

"I believe you're going to find yourselves up against a hard proposition," declared coach slowly "These young men attend a High School where no expense is spared. Some of the wealthy men of the town engage the physical director, who is one of the best men in his class. Speight, who was at college with me, is engaged in addition as the football coach. I remember Speight as one of the cleverest and most dangerous men we had at college. He could think up a whole lot of new field tricks overnight. Then again, most of the Hallam Heights boys are young fellows who go away for athletic summers. That is, they are young fellows who do a lot of boating, yachting, riding, tennis, track work, and all the rest of it. They are young fellows who glory in being in training all the year around. Speight writes me that he thinks he has the finest, strongest and most alert boys in the United States."

"We'll whip them, just the same," announced Dick coolly.

"Gridley will, if anyone can--I know that," agreed Mr. Morton. "You've won all four games that you've played this season. Hallam Heights has played five games and won them all. The Hallam youngsters are out to capture the record that Gridley has held for some time that of capturing all the games of the season."

"Bring 'em on!" begged Darrin. "I wish we had 'em here to play just as soon as the rain lets up."

"Don't make the mistake of thinking that, because the Hallam boys have rich fathers, they're dudes, who can't play on wet ground," laughed Mr. Morton.

"If Hallam sends forth such terrors," grinned Dick, rising from the bench on which he had been sitting, "then we must get in trim for 'em. Come on, fellows; some of the light speedy exercises. I'll work you up to all the speed you can take care of, this afternoon."

For the next ten minutes Dick was as good as his word. Then, after a brief breathing spell, Prescott ordered his men to the running track in the gallery.

"Three laps at full speed, with a two-minute jog between each speed burst, and a minute of breathing between each kind of running," called out Dick.

Then, after he had seen the fellows started, he turned to the coach.

"If I never learned anything else from you, Mr. Morton, I think I've wholly absorbed the idea that no man is in condition unless he can run well; and that nothing will make for condition like judicious running."

"As to what you've learned from me, Captain Prescott," replied the coach, "I fully believe that you've learned all that I have to teach. I wouldn't be afraid to go away on a vacation and leave the team in your hands."

"Him!" smiled Dick. "Without you to back me up, Mr. Morton, I'm afraid some of the fellows might kick over the traces."

"They wouldn't kick over but once," laughed the coach. "The first time any fellow did that you'd drop him from the team. And the fellows know it. I haven't noticed the young men attempting to frisk you any."

"One did."

"I know whom you mean," replied the submaster, his brow clouding.

"But he got out of the team, didn't he?"

"Yes; but I didn't put him out."

"You would have put him off the team if it had been left for you to do it."

As soon as he thought the squad had had enough exercise to keep them in tone, Dick dismissed them.

"But every one of you do his level best to keep in condition all the time until we get through with Hallam Heights," urged the young captain. "That applies, too, not only to team members, but to every man in the squad. If the Hallam fellows are swift and terrific, we can't tell on whom we may have to pounce for substitutes."

This was to be a mid-week game, taking place Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday morning word reached school that Hudson, who was down to play right guard, and Dan Dalzell, right end, were both at home in bed, threatened with pneumonia. In each case the doctor was hopeful that the attack would be averted, but that didn't help out the afternoon's game any.

"Two of our prize men out," muttered Dick anxiously to Dave at recess.

"And it's claimed that misfortunes always travel by threes," returned

Darrin, half mournfully.

"Don't!" shivered Prescott. "Let us off with two misfortunes."

Afternoon came along, somewhat raw and lowering. Rain might prevent the game. Less than three quarters of the people who bought seats in advance appeared at the grounds. The sale of spot seats was not as brisk by half as it would have been on a pleasanter day.

But the Hallam Heights boys came along early, bounding and full of fun and dash.

They were a fine-looking lot of boys. The Gridley youngsters took to their opponents instantly.

"I wonder what's keeping Dick?" muttered Dave Darrin, half anxiously, in dressing quarters.

"

Anyway, we won't worry about him until we have to," nodded Mr. Morton. "Our young captain is about the promptest man, as a rule, in the whole squad."

"That's just why I am uneasy," grunted Dave.

Hardly had he spoken when Dick Prescott came in--but limping slightly!

And what a rueful countenance the young captain of the team displayed!

"Suffering Ebenezer, man, but what has happened?" gasped Dave.

All the other Gridley youngsters stopped half way in their togging to listen for the reply.

"Nothing much," grunted Dick. "Yet it came near to being too much. A man bumped me, as I was getting on the car, and drove me against the iron dasher. It was all an accident, due to the man's clumsiness. But it barked my knee a good bit."

"Let me see you walk about the room," ordered Coach Morton. He watched closely, as Dick obeyed.

"Sit down, Prescott, and draw the trousers leg off on that side.

I want to examine the knee."

While Mr. Morton went to work the other members of the team crowded about, anxiety written on all their faces.

"Does it hurt more when I press?" asked the submaster keenly. "Ah, I thought so! Prescott, you're not badly hurt for anything else; but your knee is in no shape to play this afternoon!"

A wail of dismay went up from the team members. The rueful look in Dick's face deepened.

"I was afraid you'd bar me out," he confessed. "I never felt so ashamed in my life."

"It wouldn't be of any use for you to play, for that knee wouldn't stand it in any rough smash," declared the coach, shaking his head solemnly.

"It's all off with us, then," groaned one of the fellows. "We may as well ask Hallam if they'll allow us to hand 'em a score of six to nothing on a platter, and then stay off the field."

"Hush your croaking, will you?" demanded Dave Darrin angrily, glaring about him. "Is that the Gridley way? Do we ever admit defeat? Whoever croaks had better quit the team altogether."

Under that rebuke the boy who had ventured the opinion shrank back abashed.

"You're sure I'll be in no shape to go on, Coach?" asked Dick anxiously.

"Why, of course you could go on," replied Mr. Morton. "And you could run about some, too, unless your knee got a good deal stiffer. But you wouldn't be up to Gridley form."

"Have I any right to go on, with a knee in this shape?" queried

Dick.

"You certainly haven't," replied Mr. Morton, with great emphasis.

"Dave," called the young football chief, "you're second captain of the team. Get in and get busy. Put up the best fight you can for old Gridley!"

"Aye, that I will," retorted Dave Darrin, his eyes sparkling, cheeks glowing. "I'll go in like a pirate chief, and I'll break the neck of any Gridley man who doesn't do all there is in him this afternoon."

"Listen to the fire eater," laughed Fenton. Dave grinned good-humoredly, but went insistently:

"All right. If any of you fellows think I take less than the best you can possibly do, try it out with me."

Then Darrin came over to rest a hand on Prescott's shoulder.

"Dick, you'll give me any orders you have before we go on, and between the halves, won't you?"

"Not a word," replied Dick promptly. "Dave, you can lead as well as ever I have done. If you're going to be captain to-day you'll be captain in earnest. I'll hamper you neither with advice nor orders."

With so important a player as Dick Prescott out of the team Dave had a hard task in rearranging the eleven. In this he sought direction from Mr. Morton. Rapidly they sketched the new line-up.

Darrin himself would have to drop quarterback and go to center. For this latter post Dave was rather light, but he carried the knack of sturdy assault better than any other man in the team after Prescott.

Tom Reade was called to quarter. Shortly afterwards all the details had been completed.

"As to style, you'll gather that from the signals," muttered Darrin. "The only rule is the one we always have--that we can't be beat and we know we can't."

There came a rap at the door. Then a bushy mop of football hair was thrust into the doorway.

"Talking strategy, signals or anything we shouldn't hear?" asked the pleasant voice of Forsythe, captain of the Hallam Heights boys.

"Not a blessed thing," returned Dave. "Come in, gentlemen."

Captain Forsythe, in full field toggery, came in, followed by the members of the visiting team, all as completely attired for work.

"We're really not intruding?" asked Forsythe, after he had stepped into the room.

"Not the least in the world," responded Dave heartily. "Mr. Forsythe. let me introduce you to Mr. Morton, our coach, and to Mr. Prescott, the real captain of this tin-pan crowd of pigskin chasers."

"Oh, I mistook you for Prescott," replied Forsythe, as he acknowledged the introductions.

"No; I'm Darrin, the pewter-plate second captain--the worst you've got to fear to-day," laughed Dave, as he held out his hand.

"Why--what--anything happened?" asked Captain Forsythe, looking truly concerned.

"Captain Prescott has had his knee injured, and two of our other crack men are in bed, sick," replied Mr. Morton cheerfully. "Otherwise we're all quite well."

"Your captain and two other good men out?" asked Forsythe in real sympathy. "That doesn't sound fair, for we came over here prepared to put up the very best we had against you old invincibles. I'm awfully sorry."

"Captain Forsythe, we all thank you for your sympathy," Dick answered, "but Captain Darrin can lead at least as well as I can. I believe he can do it better. As for the team that we're putting in the field to-day, if you can beat it, you could as easily beat anything we could offer at any other time. So, as far as one may, with such courteous opponents as you are, Gridley hurls back its defiance and throws down the battle gage! But play your very best team, Captain Forsythe, and we'll do our best in return."

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