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   Chapter 11 THE WELCOME WITH A BIG W

The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 6886

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Ben Badger sat perched aloft among the bare, spreading branches of a giant maple near one corner of the school grounds. The maple stood at the curbing of the sidewalk.

Down below stood nearly a hundred High School boys of Gridley.

That Ben was on sentry duty was apparent from the eager looks that those below frequently cast up at him. At times, too, the general impatience sought relief in questions hurled at Ben.

Finally, from the lookout aloft came down the rousing hail:

"Here he comes! fellows! Here he comes! No--here they come!

The whole crowd--Dick & Co.!"

A flutter passed through the crowd below, vet not one of the Gridley

H.S. boys stirred from the ranks just within the school yard gate.

Back on the main steps of the High School building nearly three score of the young ladies were irregularly grouped. They were silent, but expectant.

For "The Blade" had been read in many a Gridley home that morning. The news had traveled fast over Gridley. Though the paper had contained no announcement that Prescott would return to school, every High School boy and girl had felt sure of that.

Down the street, three abreast, came Dick & Co., with proud, firm stride. Very likely the partners were even more exultant than was Prescott himself.

Then the freshman sextette came in full sight from the gateway.

"Who's this?" yelled Ben Badger in his loudest voice.

From the crowded tanks below welled up the chorus:

"Dick & Co.! Dick & Co.! Good old Dick! Bully old Co.!"

Prescott and his chums halted, thunderstruck by the volume and force of that unexpected chorus.

Immediately on top of it rolled out lustily the complicated High School yell, given with a vim never before heard off the football field.

And then:

"What's the matter with Dick Prescott?" demanded Ben Badger, in stentorian tones.

From one half of the H.S. boys came the roaring response:

"He's the whole cheese."

Then, from the other half:

"---for a freshman!"

Dick & Co. recovering from their amazement, were coming on again now. Young Prescott's heart thumped hard. He was no popularity-chaser, but only the fellow who has been down hard, for a while, knows how good it is to be up once more.

As Dick neared the gate Ben Badger dropped down out of the bare maple tree, for Ben had yet other duties on the reception committee.

He and Frank Thompson suddenly snatched Dick Prescott out of the ranks of his chums, and hoisted him aloft. This these two husky first classmen were well able to do.

Across the school yard they started with him, while the rest of the fellows followed, giving voice to the High School yell:

"T-E-R-R-O-R-S! Wa-ar! Fam-ine! Pes-ti-lence! That's us!

That's us! G-R-I-D-L-E-Y H.S.! Rah! rah! rah! rah! Gri-i-id-ley!"

The girls grouped on the steps parted, letting the leaders and followers through.

With the rush as of an army the excited youngsters bore Dick Prescott up a flight of stairs. Half a dozen of the fellows sprang ahead of Badger and Thompson, throwing open one of the doors of the general assembly room.

Again the High School yell broke loose, sounding, in that confined space, as though it must jar the rafters loose.

Dr. Thornton had risen from his chair behind the desk. It was before coming-in-hour, and there was no rule that commanded quietude before the bell rang. Yet such a din had never before been heard in the room.

But just

then Dr. Thornton caught sight of red-faced, happy-looking Dick Prescott on the shoulders of Badger and Thompson. Then the principal laughed in sheer good humor.

Wheeling, Badger and Thompson carried Dick straight up to the platform, where they deposited their human burden at the edge.

"Welcome to our city!" yelled Badger, sonorously.

"Mr. Prescott," greeted Dr. Thornton, holding out his hand, "I am heartily glad to see you back here."

"No more pleased, sir, than I am to be here," returned the young freshman. "And I must thank you, doctor, for the promptness with which you sent the note around to me informing me that the suspension had automatically ended."

While the cheering was going on out in the yard, and while Dick was being carried in triumph into the building, Fred Ripley and Clara Deane had just turned in out of a side street and come within view of the demonstration.

"They're shouting out something about Prescott," murmured Clara.

"Oh, I suppose the mucker has been allowed to sneak back into school," returned Ripley, in disgust.

"It's a shame to allow that class of young fellows in a high school," declared Miss Deane. "If a higher education is necessary for such people, they ought to be sent to a special school of their own."

"If Gridley H.S. goes on being cheapened I shall go to some good private prep. school somewhere," hinted Fred.

"That would be a splendid idea," glowed Clara. "I wouldn't mind going to some good seminary myself."

"If we do, let us hope we can find a town that will contain both schools," suggested Fred, with an attempt at gallantry. "For that matter, Clara, there are co-ed private schools, you know."

"I don't want to go to one," retorted Miss Deane, promptly. "Co-ed schools are just like co-ed colleges. The boys may have a good enough time, but the co-ed girls are shoved into the background. Co-ed boys pretend they don't know that the co-ed girls are alive. The High School is better, for a girl, than any co-ed private school, for in the High School girls are treated on an even footing with boys."

"We'll both of us keep that prep. school idea in mind, though," proposed Ripley, just before the pair entered the school building.

By the time that this exclusive pair entered the general assembly room the scene before them was none too pleasing. The congratulatory crowd being too large for Dick alone, his five partners were holding separate little receptions for groups, relating how Dick, Dave and Greg had captured Tip Scammon. Such speculation there was as to who Tip's unrecognized companion could have been the night before. As Fred stepped into the big room he was conscious of many unfriendly glances that were sent in his direction.

As early as possible Dick Prescott sought out Laura Bentley and Bell Meade, and to them he expressed his heartiest thanks for the splendid aid they had given him toward this present happy moment.

So great was the clamor, in fact, that, when the gong outside struck the "minute-call" at 7.59, no one in the assembly room seemed to hear it. Then came the jingling of the assembly bell in the big room. A murmur of surprise ran around, for time had passed rapidly since Dick's appearance. In another moment the only sound was that of quiet footfalls as the young ladies and gentlemen of the Gridley H.S. moved to their seats. In a few seconds more only the ticking of the big clock was heard.

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