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   Chapter 13 No.13

The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 9306

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Dick Begins To Feel Old

Despite the strain of what they had gone through Dick and Dave led the Gridley boys through a fierce gridiron battle that same afternoon, and won again by a score of 13 to 5.

But the people of Gridley paid little heed to the score that day, or the next. The sensation that Dick and Dave had supplied was the talk of the town, to the exclusion of other topics relating to high School boys.

Mr. Pollock bought a copy of the photograph showing Dick close to the weather vane on his climb. A half-tone cut made from this photograph was printed in "The Blade."

"This young man is now a member of 'The Blade' staff, reporting school and other matters," ran the comment under the spirited picture. "We believe that Mr. Prescott will continue to be a member of the staff, and to grow with 'The Blade.'"

"What about that, Dick?" laughed Darrin.

"I've told Mr. Pollock and Mr. Bradley that I believe my plans will carry me a good distance away from 'The Blade' office after this year," replied Dick, with a meaning smile. "If they won't believe me now, perhaps they'll wake up later."

The town had not been wanting in croakers at the outset of the football season, who had predicted that Dick Prescott and his chums would "drag down" the football team and its fine traditions from past years.

But the eleven, mainly under Dick and under Dave's captaincy in two fierce gridiron battles, had gone right along winning games.

The last three battles had been fought out to a successful finish in November. There now remained only the Thanksgiving Day game to complete the season.

By all traditions each football team in the country strives to have its biggest fight take place on Thanksgiving Day. By another tradition, every team seeks to have this game take place on the home grounds.

In the latter respect Gridley lost this year. The game, which was against Fordham High School, was scheduled to take place at Fordham.

Enthusiasm, however, was at top notch. Citizens hired the Gridley Band to go along with the young men and help out on noise. A special train in two sections was chartered, for some seven hundred Gridleyites had voted in favor of an evening dinner on Thanksgiving Day; they were going along to see the game.

Fordham had lost two games, against exceptionally strong teams, earlier in the season, but had of late a fine record. Fordham had dropped several of its original players, putting in heavier or better men, and a new coach had been employed. The Fordham boys were now believed to be able to put up a strenuous game.

"I hope you're going to win, Prescott," said Mr. Macey, meeting Dick on the street one afternoon not long before Thanksgiving.

"Have you any doubts, sir?" smiled the captain of the Gridley team.

"Well, you see, Fordham was my native town. I run down there often, and I know a good deal of what's going on there. Fordham's second coach has attended the last two games you played, and he has been stealing all your points that he could get."

"He has, eh?" muttered Prescott. "That's news to me. Oh, well, it's legitimate to learn all you can about another team's play."

"From the reports Fordham has of your play the young men over in that town are certain that they're enough better to be able to bring your scalps into camp."

"Perhaps they'll do it," laughed Dick pleasantly. "We'll admit that we're about due for a walloping whenever the crowd comes along that can do it."

"I am only telling you what I hear from Fordham," continued Mr.

Macey.

"And I'm glad you did, sir. We'll try to turn the laugh on Fordham."

"Then you think you can beat 'em?"

"No, sir. We never think we can. We always know that we can! That's the Gridley way--the Gridley spirit. We always win our battles before we go into them, Mr. Macey. We make up our minds that we can't and won't be beaten. It isn't just brag, though. We base all our positiveness on the way that we stick to our training and coaching, and on our discipline. Mr. Macey, this is the third year that I've been playing on different Gridley High School teams. I remember a tie game, but no defeats."

"I guess Fordham will find it a hard enough proposition to down you young men," remarked Mr. Macey.

"They're going to discover, sir, that they simply can't do it.

Gridley never goes onto any field to get beaten."

"Und dot isn't brag, neider," broke in a man who had halted to listen. "Ven dese young men pack deir togs to go away, dey pack der winning score in der bag, too. Ach! Don't I know dot? Don't I make mineself young vonce more by following dese young athletes abou

t?"

Herr Schimmelpodt looked utterly shocked that anyone should think it possible for another High School eleven to take a game from Gridley.

Dick soon encountered Dave and told him the news he had gleaned from Mr. Macey.

"Been sending their second coach over to watch our play, have they?" laughed Darrin softly. "That seems to show how much they fear us in Fordham."

"I believe we are going to have a stiff game," muttered Prescott. "Hallam Heights and Fordham are the only two teams that think enough of the game to hire two coaches."

"Well, we have Hallam's scalp dangling down at the gym.," laughed

Dave Darrin.

"And we'll have Fordham's in the same way," predicted Dick confidently.

It barely occurred to the young captain of the team to wonder what it would mean for him if the game to Fordham should be lost. Dick would be the first captain in years who had lost a football game for Gridley. It would be a mean record to take out of High School life. But Dick gave no thought to such a possibility.

"Of course we're going to wallop Fordham," he thought. "I wish only one thing. I'd like to see the Fordhams play through a stiff game just once."

It was too late, however, to give any real thought to this, for

Fordham's next and last game of the season was to be the one with

Gridley.

"Are you girls going to the game?" asked Dick, when he and his chum met Laura Bentley and Belle Meade before the post office.

"Haven't you heard what the girls are doing, Dick?" questioned

Laura, looking at him in some surprise.

"I have heard that a lot of the girls are going to the game."

"Just forty-two of us, to be exact," Laura continued. "We girls and our chaperons are to have one car in the first section. You see, we've arranged to go right along with the team. We have our seats all together at Fordham, too."

"My, what a lot of noise forty-two girls can make in a moment of enthusiasm!" murmured Dave.

"We can, if you give us any excuse," advanced Belle.

"Oh, we'll give you excuse enough. See to it that you keep the noise up to the grade of our playing."

"Mr. Confident!" teased Belle.

"Why, you know, as well as we do, that we'll come home with Fordham's scalp!" retorted, Darrin.

"You've heard some of the talk about Fordham's confidence in winning, haven't you?" asked Laura, a bit anxiously.

"Yes," nodded Dick. "But that doesn't mean anything. You know the Gridley record, the Gridley spirit and confidence."

"Still," objected Belle, "one side has to lose, and the Fordham boys have all the stuff ready to light bonfires on Thanksgiving night."

"Have you any particular friends over in Fordham?" asked Dave

Darrin, with a sudden swift, significant look.

"No, I haven't," retorted Belle hastily. "And I hope, with all my heart, that Gridley gains the only points that are allowed. Yet, sometimes, so much confidence all the while seems just a bit alarming."

"I won't say another word, then, until after the game," promised

Darrin meekly.

"And then---?"

"Oh, I'll turn half girl, and say 'I told you so,'" mimicked

Dave good-humoredly.

It would have been hard to find anyone in Gridley who would have said openly that he expected the home boys to be beaten; but there were many who knew that they were more than a bit anxious. Before the game, anyway, Fordham's brag was just as good as Gridley brag.

"Won't you be glad, anyway, when the Thanksgiving game is over?" asked Laura.

"Yes, and no," smiled Prescott seriously. "When I come back from Fordham I shall know that I have captained my last game on a High School team. That tells me that I am getting along in life--that I am growing old, and shall soon have to think of much more serious things. But, honestly, I hate awfully to think of all these grand old High School days coming to an end. I mustn't think too much about it until after the game. It makes me just a bit blue."

"Won't you be captain of the basket ball team this winter?" asked

Laura quickly.

"No; I can't take everything. Hudson will probably head the basket ball team."

"Why, I heard that you were going in hard for basket ball."

"So I am. Mr. Morton is so busy, with the new evening training classes, that he has asked me to be second coach to the basket ball crowd. I'll undoubtedly do that."

"Oh, then you'll still be leading the athletic vanguard at the High School," murmured Laura, and, somehow, there was a note of contentment in her voice.

"I shall be, until I'm through with the High School," Prescott answered. "But think--just think--how soon that will come around for all of us!"

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