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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 8651

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Gridley Seniors Whoop It Up

"Oh, so many, so many congratulations, Dick!" came the response to Prescott's eagerly imparted information.

"And so you missed the dance just because you could sympathize with some one else's worry?" demanded Dick. "But say! The evening is still young, as dances go. Couldn't you get dressed in a little while? Then we could both go and celebrate my good luck."

"I'm dressed," came the demure answer.

"What? Oh--well, now, that's nice of you---"

"I have been expecting this good news," laughed Laura. "And so

I've been dressed all evening, on the chance."

"And you'll go to the class ball if I come around quickly?"

"It would be mean of you not to come and take me, Dick!"

"I'll have to change," declared Dick. "But that never takes a boy long. Won't I be around to your house in short order, though!"

Dick rang off and started to bound upstairs, but a new ting-ling sounded on the 'phone bell.

"Here's another party been trying to get you," announced central.

"Go ahead."

"Hullo, Dick," sounded a low, pleased voice. "I hope you've called up Laura."

"Just rang off, Dave."

"Then you know that the girls didn't go to the class ball to-night, but just dressed and waited on the chance of hearing from us. I'm on the jump to dress, but I'll meet you there, Dick."

Dick took only time to explain the change in his night's plans to his parents. Then he bounded off upstairs, but soon came down again, looking a bit dandyish in his best, and very happy into the bargain.

When Dick arrived at Dr. Bentley's home an automobile stood in front of the house. Dick recognized it, however, as the doctor's machine with the doctor's man at the lever.

The instant that Prescott put his finger on the bell button Laura herself opened the door. She was radiant of face and exquisite in ball costume as she threw open the door and stood framed there, the light behind her.

"Oh, I'm so glad, Dick, so glad!" came her ready greeting. "Come in. I'm all ready but the wrap, but father and mother wish to be among the first to congratulate you."

In the doctor's office stood Dr. and Mrs. Bentley. They greeted

Dick cordially and expressed delight over his success.

"But this is only the first ditch taken, you know," spoke Prescott soberly, though in military phrase. "I have my chance now; that is all. I have more than four years of hard fight facing me before I am sure that the Army can be my career."

"You'll make it, Prescott, just as you've made everything you've gone after at High School," replied Dr. Bentley heartily. "But, now that we've congratulated you, we mustn't keep you an instant longer from your classmates. I had just come in with my car, and Laura told me, so I directed my man to wait. He'll take you both along the road in short order. Good night, my boy!"

Laura brought her wrap, holding it out to Dick.

"If you're to be a gallant Army officer," she teased, "you must learn to do this sort of thing gracefully."

Blushing, Dick did his best. Then the young people went out. Dick helped his companion into the car, then seated himself beside her.

"We're going to pick up Dave and Belle," Laura explained, as the car moved swiftly away. "Then we'll all go in together."

One fellow had beaten them to the class ball, and that fellow was Tom Reade. How he ever did it no one will be able to guess, but Tom flew home, got into his best, and had reached the ball before these young people appeared on the scene.

The happy young candidates-elect went with their companions to the cloak room. Then, Laura on Dick's arm, and Belle clinging to Dave, the two couples entered the ballroom. The strains of a waltz were floating out. Abruptly the music ceased in the middle of the air, for Reade, standing beside the director, had motioned him to cease playing.

"Classmates and friends!" bellowed Reade, "it is my proud opportunity to-night to be able to be the first to announce to you some wonderful good news. To-day Dick Prescott, of ours, defeated all other competitors, and has secured the appointment from this district to the United States Military Academy!"

"Wow! Whoop!" That announcement had them all going. There was one tremendous, increasing din of noise. But Tom, jumping up and down, waving both arms

and scowling fiercely, finally secured silence.

"Who's doing this announcing?" he demanded. "Who's master of ceremonies, if I am not. You just wait--all of you! I'll give you the cue when to turn the noise-works loose. As I just stated, it's Dick for West Point, but or, and--it's Dave Darrin for Annapolis at the same time. Yes, Dave is going to represent this district at Annapolis!"

The musicians were on their feet by this time. All with a rush the sweet, proud strains rang out:

"My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing!"

Instantly all stood at attention, the young men all over the hail holding themselves with especial erectness. Not a voice was heard until the good old refrain was through. To the two happy chums "America" had a newer, stronger meaning. The spirited air came to them with a new meaning that had never been plain before.

Dick felt the tears in his eyes. Foolish, o course, but he couldn't help it! And choky Dave furtively wished that he dared reach for his handkerchief with all those hundreds of eyes turned on him.

As the music came to an end the High School boys filled their lungs for a mighty cheer. Quick as a flash, however, the leader of the orchestra tapped his baton, then swung it once more, and the instruments leaped on into:

"Columbia, the gem of the ocean!"

That was for the Navy, of course, and one didn't have to keep quiet, either. Words of the song, and cheers, mingled with the musicians' strains.

And then it wound up in a cheer and a mad rush of yelling that must have been heard for a mile.

An impromptu reception and hand shaking followed, but to Dick and Dave, and their partners, it had more the look of a mob.

It was a joyous and big-hearted mob, though, and in time it quieted down. After a very long interruption the dancing started again, and Dick and Dave were able to whirl away with their partners.

As the next dance after that, started there was a sudden halt

by many of the couples, and soon a roar of laughter ascended.

For the orchestra had chosen, as the air, "The Girl I Left Behind

Me."

This air will always be associated with the United Service--the Army and Navy. It is a rollicking, jolly, spirited old tune, as it needs must be for "The Girl I Left Behind Me" is the tune that is played when the country's defenders, in war time, are marching away for the front, after just having said the last goodbye to mother, sister and sweetheart.

Just now, however, the old air had none of the tragic connected with it. It was all in the spirit of fun. Laura, blushing furiously, and Belle striving to appear wholly unconscious, but striving too hard, lent all the more merriment to the moment.

"It's that confounded old idiot, Tom Reade," muttered Dave to his partner. "I wonder how many more such tricks he knows!"

Presently came "The Army Lancers," and that brought out a right royal good cheer. Two numbers after that, came "A Life on the Ocean Wave," and more cheers.

It was after three in the morning when the gay affair broke up.

But who cared for that? Class balls come but once a year.

Right after "Home, Sweet Home," which wound up the ball, the orchestra added a number, "The Star Spangled Banner."

Both Dick and Dave reached home pretty thoroughly tired out, after having seen their girl friends home. Neither boy rose much before noon the day following.

Dick and Dave remained enrolled at High School until the Christmas

Holidays, then dropped out, having ended the term.

Each boy had other studies with which he wished to busy himself--studies that would have a direct bearing on the stiff entrance examinations at West Point and Annapolis. The rest of their time, until they reported at their respective National Academies, they intended to devote to these other studies to make doubly sure of their success.

Dick's notification from the Secretary of War arrived on Christmas morning.

"The grandest Christmas present. I ever had!" muttered Dick, gazing at the single sheet, the words on which were couched in stiff official language.

Dave Darrin fumed a good deal, for it was nearly a month later before he received his notification from the Secretary of the Navy. It came at last, however, and Darrin knew what postponed happiness means.

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