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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10420

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Fordham Plays a Slugging Game

For half an hour before the first section of the special pulled out, the Gridley Band played its liveliest tunes. A part of the time the band played accompaniment to the school airs, which the crowd took up with lively spirit.

There is a peculiar enthusiasm which attaches to the Thanksgiving Day game. This is due partly to the extra holiday spirit of the affair. Then, too, there is the high tension that precedes the last game of the season.

With a team that has won every game to that point, yet often with great difficulty, the tension of spirits is even higher.

As the first section of the special rolled in at the railway station the part of the crowd that was "going" began to break up into groups headed for the different parts of the train.

Herr Schimmelpodt went, of course, to the car that carried the team. The boys wouldn't have been satisfied to start or to travel without him. The big German had come to be the mascot of Gridley High School.

Just before the train started Herr Schimmelpodt waddled out to the rear platform of the car.

In his right hand he brandished a massive cane to which the Gridley

High School colors were secured.

"Now, listen," he bellowed out. "Ve come back our scalps not wigs! You hear dot, alretty?"

While the cheering was still going on, and while the band was crashing out music, the first section pulled out, making room for the second section.

A run of a little more than an hour at good speed, and with no way stops, brought the Gridley invading forces to Fordham.

At the depot, the local team's second coach awaited the players. He had two stages at hand, into which the team and subs piled. A wagon followed, carrying the kits of the Gridley boys. There were two more stages for the band. All the other travelers had to depend on the street-car service.

Finding the stages rather crowded, Dick nudged Darrin, then made for the kit wagon.

"I really believe we'll have more comfort, Dave," proposed Prescott, "if we get aboard this rig and ride on top of the tog bags."

The suggestion was carried out at once.

"I'll drive along fast, if you want," proposed the driver, "and get the togs down to the grounds ahead of your team."

"If you please," nodded Dick. "Our boys will want everything ready when they reach the grounds."

So the two chums were quickly carried beyond the noise and confusion. A few minutes later the wagon turned in at the Fordham Athletic grounds.

The Fordham High School boys were out in the field, practicing. As seen in their padded togs they were an extra-bulky looking lot.

"Great Scott!" grunted Darrin, half disgustedly. "Each one of those Fordham fellows must weigh close to a ton."

"The more weight the less speed, anyway," laughed Dick good-humoredly.

"And, look! I wonder how old some of those fellows are," continued Darrin. "I wonder if, in this town, men wait until they've made their fortunes and retired, before they enter High School. Why, some of these Fordham fellows must have voted for president the last two times."

"Hardly as bad as that, I guess," smiled Prescott. "Still, these Fordham boys do look more like a college eleven than a High School crowd."

Dave continued to gaze over at the home team, and to scowl, until the wagon was halted before dressing quarters. Here the teamster and another man made short work of carrying in all the tog-bags.

A few minutes later the other fellows arrived.

"Say, which team is it we're fighting to-day?" demanded Hudson.

"Harvard, or Yale?"

There was general grumbling comment.

"I think," insisted Tom Reade, "that the Fordham team wouldn't like to stand a searching hunt into the eligibility of some of their players."

"They've surely brought in some who are not regular, fair-and-square

High School students," contended Dan Dalzell.

There was much more talk of this sort, some of the Gridley boys insisting that Fordham ought to be compelled to account for the size and seeming age of some of the home players.

"We're up against a crooked line-up, or I'll give up," muttered

Greg Holmes.

"Now, see here, fellows," laughed Captain Dick. "I don't believe in making any fuss beforehand. We'll just go ahead and take what comes to us."

"It would be too late to make a kick after we've played," cried some one.

"You fellows," continued Dick, "make me think of what I heard Mr. Pollock say to Wilcox, chairman of the campaign committee back home."

"What was that?" demanded half a dozen.

"Why," chuckled Prescott, "Mr. Pollock said to Wilcox: 'Now, see here, there's always a chance that the election will go our way. So never yell fraud until after the election is over.'"

"I guess that's the wisest philosophy," laughed Coach Morton, who had taken no part in the previous conversation.

"If that's the Fordham team," continued Dick, "it's one of pretty sizable fellows. But we'll do our plain duty, which is to pile out on to the field and proceed to stroll through any line that is posted in our way."

Just before the Gridley youngsters were ready to go out for preliminary practice the big Fordham fellows came off the fiel

d.

"Hullo!" piped Dave, as the Gridley boys strolled out to the gridiron.

"You ought to feel happy, Dick. There's a big section of West

Point over on the grand stand."

Nearly two hundred young men in black and gray cadet uniforms of the United States Military Academy pattern sat in a solid block at one point on the grand stand.

"No, they're not West Pointers," sighed Dick. "See here, those fellows, of course, are students at the Fordham Military institute. They wear the West Point uniform. And that's the military school that Phin Drayne went to."

"The sneak!" grunted Dave. "I wonder if he's over in that bunch, now."

"I'm not even enough interested to wonder," returned Prescott.

"He's where he can't do us any harm, anyway."

"But, if the Fordham boys put anything over us, I'll bet Drayne has things timed so that the military boys will do a big and noisy lot of boasting."

"They will, anyway, if we allow them a chance," answered Dick.

"Now, spread out, fellows," he called, raising his voice.

In the next moment the ball was in lively play.

The first time that a fumble was made a jeering chorus sounded among the military school boys.

"I expected it," growled Darrin.

"We don't care, anyway," smiled Dick. "Let 'em hoot! I don't draw the line until they throw things."

"If they knew Phin Drayne as we do, they'd throw him first," grimaced

Darrin.

A minute later another hoot went up. It was plain that the military school boys had been primed for this.

But the gray-clad youths, it was very soon evident, were not the only ones who had come out to make a noise. Half of the Fordham crowd present joined in the volleys of derision that were showered down on the practicing boys from Gridley.

"It's nothing but a mob!" declared Darrin, his eyes flashing.

"Careful, old fellow," counseled Prescott coolly. "They're trying to get our nerve before the game begins. Don't let 'em do it."

This excellent instruction Dick contrived to pass throughout his team. Thereafter the Gridley boys seemed not to hear the harsh witticisms that were hurled at them from all sides of the field.

Just in the nick of time the Gridley Band began playing. That stopped the annoyance for a while, for Fordham had neglected to provide a band.

Yet when the Gridley High School song was started by the band, and the Gridley boosters joined in the words, the answer from Fordham came in the form of a "laughing-song," let loose with such volume that the Gridley offering to the merriment was drowned out.

"I hope we can give this rough town a horrible thumping--that's all," muttered Dave, his eyes flashing.

"Don't let them capture your 'goat,' and we will," Dick promised, as quietly as ever.

The plain hostility of the home crowd was wearing in on more than one of the Gridley boys. Dick felt obliged to call his eleven together, and to give them some quiet, homely but forcible advice. Coach Morton followed, with more in the same line.

Yet it came as a welcome relief to the Gridley youngsters when the referee and the other officials came to the field and game was called.

Dick Prescott won the toss, and took the kickoff.

That, of course, sent the ball into Fordham ranks. In an instant the solid Fordham line emitted a murmur that sounded like a bear's growl, then came thundering down upon the smaller Gridley youngsters.

There was a fierce collision, but Gridley held on like a herd of bulls. The ball was soon down.

For five minutes or so there was savage playing. Fordham played a "slugging" game of the worst kind. Several foul tackles were quickly made by home players, yet so quickly released that the referee could not be sure and could not inflict a penalty. Sly blows were struck when the lines came together.

The average football captain would have claimed penalties, and fought the matter out.

But Dick Prescott let matters run by. He was waiting his opportunity.

So hard was the "slugging," so overbearing and ruthlessly unfair was the Fordham charge that, at the end of five minutes, Gridley was forced to make a safety, losing two points at the outset.

"Yah!" sneered an exultant voice from the ranks of the military school. "That's the fine Captain Prescott we've heard about!"

Tom Reade, in togs, was standing among the Gridley subs at the side line.

Tom recognized, as did all the Gridley boys, the voice of Phin

Drayne.

"Yes!" bellowed Tom, facing the gray-clad group. "And that last speaker was a fellow who was expelled from Gridley High School for selling out his team!"

It was a swift shot and a bull's-eye. The Fordham Institute boys had no answer ready for that. Half of them turned to stare at Phin Drayne, whose guilty face, with color coming and going in flashes seemed to admit the truth of Reade's taunt.

"Dick," growled Darrin, as they moved forward, after the safety, to Gridley's twenty-five yard line, "these Fordham fellows are simply ruffians. They're fouling us every second, and they'll smash half our fellows into the hospital."

"We'll see about that!"

Dick Prescott's voice was as quiet and cool as ever, but there was an ominous flash in his eyes.

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