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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 12693

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


When the Great News Was Given Out

At just nine o'clock Congressman Spokes came on to the platform followed by two other men.

One of these latter was a town official, who, in a very few words, introduced the Member of Congress.

Congressman Spokes now addressed the young men upon the vocations they were seeking to enter. He explained that neither the Military nor the Naval Academy offered an inducement to boys fond only of their ease and good times.

"At either school," warned the Congressman "you will find ahead of you years of the hardest work and the strictest discipline. No boy whose character is not good can hope to enter these schools of the nation. It is not worth any boy's while to enter unless he stands ready to sacrifice everything, his own ideas and prejudices included, to the service of his country and his flag."

Congressman Spokes continued in this line for some time. Then he called for the boys who wished to try for West Point to gather at the right side of the hall; those for Annapolis at the left side.

"This is the first time you and I haven't been on the same side in everything, old fellow," Dick whispered smilingly, as he and Dave Darrin parted.

What a hurried count the interested youngsters made! But Tom Reade, who didn't belong to either crowd, probably made the most accurate count. He discovered that sixty-two of the boys had voted for West Point. Forty-one favored Annapolis. A few young men present, like Tom, didn't care to go to either government school.

"When I am ready to give the word," continued Congressman Spokes, "the young men who want to go to West Point will file out of the door at this end of the hall. In the rooms across the corridor they will find the physicians who are making the physical examinations for West Point.

"The Annapolis aspirants will file downstairs and enter through the first door at the left, where other physicians will make the physical examinations for Annapolis.

"The examinations by the physicians here will not be conclusive for the successful candidates. The final physical examinations, like the final scholastic examinations, will be made at West Point and Annapolis.

"Now, each young gentleman who passes the physical examination will receive a signed card with his name on it. Such successful young men are then excused until one o'clock. At one o'clock sharp the young men who have certificates from the medical examiners may report for their scholastic examinations. Do not come here, however, for the scholastic examinations. West Point aspirants will report at the High School, and those for Annapolis at the Central Grammar School.

"Now, at eight o'clock this evening you return here. At that hour, or as soon there after as possible, announcement will be made, from this platform, of the names of the successful young men and their alternates. Now the young men for West Point forward, the Annapolis hopefuls downstairs!"

Inside of two minutes the town hall was bare, save for the presence of Tom Reade, who, with his hands in his pockets, walked about, whistling.

In forty-five minutes Dick, flushed an breathless, broke in upon

Tom, as the latter sat waiting patiently for his friends.

"I've passed the doctors all right," announced Dick, producing his card.

"That's all right, then," nodded Tom. "And the rest will be easier."

Twenty minutes later Dave Darrin join them.

"I've passed--that part of the trial," he proclaimed.

"Then, until twelve o'clock, there's nothing to do but go out and kill time," declared Reade.

"Twelve o'clock" repeated Dick. "You mean one o'clock."

"I mean twelve," retorted Tom, with emphasis. "At twelve you eat; you don't gorge, but you chew and swallow something nourishing. Then you'll be in fit shape for the little game of the afternoon."

Both of the chums had reason to realize the weight of their debt to jovial, helpful Reade; who was banishing care and keeping their minds off their suspense. In fact time passed quickly until it was time for Dick and Dave once more to part, to seek their separate examinations.

Just forty of the boys who wanted to go to West Point had passed the doctors as being presumably fit in body and general health. Twenty-seven of the Annapolis aspirants had passed the doctors. Already three dozen disappointed young Americans were on their way home, their dream over.

Tom Reade chose to walk over to the local High School with Dick.

Dave found his way alone to his place of examination.

Dick Prescott and the thirty-nine other aspirants were assembled in one of the class rooms at the High School. On each desk was a supply of stationery. After the young men had been seated the examination papers in English were passed around. This examination Dick thought absurdly easy. He finished his paper early, and read it through three times while waiting for the papers to be collected.

History was a bit harder, but Dick was not especially disturbed by it. Not quite so with geography. Dick had had no instruction in this branch since his grammar school days, and, though he had brushed up much of late on this subject, he found himself compelled to go slowly and thoughtfully. Arithmetic was not so hard; algebra a bit more puzzling.

It was after six o'clock when the examinations were finished, and all papers in. As fast as each examination was finished, however, the papers had been hurried off to the examiners and marked.

Faithful Tom was waiting as Dick came out in the throng.

"Congratulations, old fellow!" cried Reade, holding out his hand.

"You've passed," announced Tom gravely.

"Why, the examiners haven't fin---"

"They don't have to," snorted Tom. "I don't have to wait for the opinions of mere examiners. You've passed, and won out, I tell you. Now let's go look for Dave."

It had been agreed that the three should meet, for supper, at the same restaurant where they had lunched. Darrin was not there yet. It was nearly seven o'clock when Dave came in, looking fagged and worried.

But Tom was up on his feet in an instant, darting toward Darrin.

"Didn't I tell you, old fellow?" demanded. Reade. "And my congratulations!"

"If you hadn't been such a good fellow all day I might be cross," sighed Dave. "Whee! But those examiners certainly did turn my head in

side out. Don't you see a few corners of the brain still sloping over outside?"

"Cheer up," quoth Tom grimly. "Nothing doing. You haven't brains enough to overflow. In fact, you've so few brains that I'm going to do the ordering for your supper."

"Everything I can do, now, is over with, anyway," muttered Prescott.

"So I'm going to forget my troubles and enjoy this meal."

Dave tried to, also, but he was more worried, and could not wholly banish his gloom.

Tom succeeded in making the meal drag along until about ten minutes of eight. Then he led his friends from the restaurant and down the street to the town hall.

Here, though most of the young men were already on hand, there was nothing of boisterousness. Some were quiet; others were glum. All showed how much the result of the examinations meant to them.

But the time dragged fearfully. It was twenty minutes of nine when Congressman Spokes appeared on the platform and rapped for order. He did not have to rap twice. In the stillness that followed the Congressman's voice sounded thunderous.

"Young gentlemen, I now have the results from all the examiners, and the averages have been made up. I am now able to announce my appointments to West Point and Annapolis."

Mr. Spokes paused an instant.

"For West Point," he announced, "My candidate will be---Richard

Prescott, of Gridley. The alternate will be---"

But Dick Prescott didn't catch a syllable of the alternate's name, for his ears were buzzing. But now, for the first time, Tom Reade was most unsympathetically silent.

"For Annapolis, my candidate will be---David Darrin, of Gridley.

The alternate---"

Neither did Darrin hear the name of his alternate. Dave's head was reeling. He was sure it was a dream.

"Pinch me, Tom," he begged, in a hoarse whisper, and Reade complied--heartily.

"The young men who have won the appointments as candidates and alternates will please come to see me at once, in the anteroom," continued Congressman Spokes, who, however, lingered to address a few words of tactful sympathy to the eager young Americans who had tried and lost.

"Come along, now, and let's get this over with as quickly as possible," grumbled Torn Reade. "This Congressman bores me."

"Bores you?" repeated Prescott, in a shocked voice. "What on earth do you mean?"

"I don't like his nerve," asserted Reade. "Here he is, giving out as if it were fresh, news that I announced two hours ago."

Congressman Spokes was waiting in the anteroom to shake hands with the winners. He congratulated the candidates most heartily, and cautioned the alternates that they also must be alert, as one or both of them might yet have a chance to pass on over the heads of the principal candidates.

Mr. Spokes then asked from each of the young men the name of his school principal, the address of his clergyman and of one business man. These were references to whom Mr. Spokes would write at once in order to inform himself that the lucky ones were young men of excellent character.

Then the Congressman wished the young men all the luck in the world, and bade them good evening, after informing them that they would hear, presently, from the Secretary of War with full instructions for West Point, and from the Secretary of the Navy for Annapolis.

"Fancy Phin Drayne passing in his references for the character ordeal!" chuckled Tom Reade, as the three chums walked down the street.

"What time does the next train leave for Gridley?" suddenly demanded

Dave.

"In twelve minutes," answered Tom, after looking at his watch.

"Let's run, then!" proposed Dave.

"We can mope, and have five minutes to spare," objected Reade.

"Let's run, just the same!" urged Dick Prescott.

The three chums broke into a run that brought them swiftly to the station, red faced, laughing and happy.

"Oh, what a difference since the morning!" sang Dick blithely.

"Say, just think! West Point really for mine!"

"Bosh!" grunted Darrin happily. "I'm going to Annapolis!"

Then, as by a common impulse Dick and Dave seized Tom Reade by either hand.

"Tom," uttered Dick huskily, "we owe you for a lot of the nerve and confidence that carried us through to-day!"

"Tom Reade," declared Darrin. tremulously, "you're the best and most dependable fellow on earth!"

"Shut up, both of you," growled Reade, in a tone of disgust. "You're getting as prosy as that Congressman--and that's the most insulting thing I can think of to say to either of you."

The train seemed fairly to fly home. It was keeping pace with the happy spirits of the young men, who, at last, came to realize that the great good news was actually true.

Neither Dick nor Dave could think of walking home from the station. They broke into a run. By and by they discovered that Tom Reade was, no longer with them.

"Now isn't that just like old Tom?" laughed Darrin, when he discovered that their friend was missing. "Well, anyway, I can't wait. Here's where our roads branch, Dick, old fellow. And say! Aren't we the lucky simpletons? Good night, old chum!"

Dick fairly raced into the bookstore conducted by his parents. He almost upset a customer who was leaving with a package under his arm.

"Dad!" whispered Dick, leaning briefly over the counter and laying a hand on Mr. Prescott's shoulder. "I passed and won! I'm going to West Point!"

A look of intense happiness wreathed his father's face and tears glistened in his eyes. But Dick raced on into the back room, where he found his mother.

"All the luck in the land is mine, mother!" he whispered, bending over and kissing her. "I won out! I go to West Point when the month of March comes!"

Mrs. Prescott was upon her feet, her arms around her boy. She didn't say much, but she didn't need to. After a moment Dick disengaged himself.

"Mother, Laura Bentley will be glad to know this news. She's at the ball of the senior class to-night, but I'll see if I can get her father on the 'phone, and tell him the news for her."

But presently it was Laura's own sweet voice that answered over the wire.

"You?" demanded Dick. "Why, I thought you'd be at the ball!"

"Did you think I could be happy all the evening, wondering how you were coming on with your great wish?" asked Laura quietly. "Say, oh, Dick! How did you come out?"

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