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The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 12161

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

By recess the feeling had quieted down. Dick Prescott was only a freshman, but it is safe to say that he was the most popular freshman who had ever "happened" at Gridley H.S.

However, the noisy spirit of welcome had spent itself Dick & Co. were given a chance to go away quietly by themselves and talk over their own affairs.

Fred Ripley appeared to be the only unhappy boy in the lot. He kept to himself a good deal, and the scowl on his face threatened to become chronic.

Recess was nearly up when Thomp and Captain Sam Edgeworth, of the eleven, approached Dick & Co. A nod from Edgeworth drew Prescott away from his chums.

"Prescott, as you know, we don't usually allow freshmen to mix much with us in the athletic line. But the fellows feel that you are a big exception. You couldn't possibly make the team this year, of course, but we well, we thought you might like a bit of the social end of the squad. We thought you might like to come around to our headquarters and see us drill and hear our talk of the game. Would it interest you any?"

"Would it?" glowed Dick. "Why, as much as it would please a ragpicker to be carried off to a palace to live!"

"Do you care to come around and see us this afternoon?" pursued

Captain Sam. "Say three o'clock."

"I'd be delighted."

"Then come around and see us, Prescott. Maybe you'll be interested in something that you see and hear."

"I wonder---" began Dick, wistfully.

"Well, what?" asked Thomp.

"Could you possibly include my chums in that invitation? They're all mightily interested."

"Yes," nodded Thompson, "they're interested, and they all helped you to spring that trick on the Board of Education. It's more than half likely that we owe the continuance of football this season to Dick & Co."

"Bring your friends along, then," agreed Captain Sam Edgeworth, though he solemnly hoped, under his breath, that he wasn't establishing a fearful precedent by showing such wholesale cordiality to the usually despised freshmen.

"We'll use all six of you as our mascots," laughed Thomp.

"And er--er--" began Dick, a bit diffidently, "we have something that we've been talking over, and we want to suggest to you--if you won't think us all too eternally fresh."

"Anyway, the idea'll have to keep," muttered Edgeworth, as the gong clanged out. "There goes the end of recess."

The long lines were quickly filing in at two entrances? and the work of the school day was on again.

It was barely a quarter of three when Dick & Co. walking two-and-two, came in sight of the otherwise unoccupied store that formed the football headquarters.

"We're too early," muttered Prescott, consulting his watch. "We'll have to take a walk around a few blocks yet, fellows."

"Why?" Dan Dalzell wanted to know. "What difference does a matter of a few minutes make?"

"Haven't you had it rubbed into you enough that you're only a measly freshman?" laughed Dick. "And don't you know a freshman is called a freshman only because he can't dare to do anything that looks the least little bit fresh? From an upper classman's point of view we've had a thumping big privilege accorded us, and we don't want to spoil it by running it into the ground. So I vote for a walk that will make us at least two minutes late going into the football headquarters."

"My vote goes with yours," nodded Dave Darrin.

The good sense of it appealed to all the chums, so they strolled away again, and came back three minutes late, Outside the door they halted. Some of the awe of the conscious freshman came upon two or three of the chums.

"You go in first, Dick," urged Tom Reade.

"It was you who got the invite, anyway," hinted Greg Holmes.

Laughing quietly Dick turned the knob of the door. He went in bravely enough, but some of his chums followed rather sheepishly.

Fred Ripley, who had dropped in five minutes before, saw them at once, and scowled.

"'Ware freshmen!" he called, rather loudly.

Nearly all the members of the regular and sub teams were present. Most of them were going through an Indian club drill at the further end of the room. At Fred's cry several of them turned around sharply.

"Oh, that's all right," called out Edgeworth. "These particular freshmen are privileged. Welcome, Dick & Co.!"

"Privileged? Welcome?" gasped Ripley, in a tone of huge disgust.

"What on earth is the High School coming to these days?"

"If you don't like to see them here, Ripley," broke in Thompson, "you know---"

"Oh, well!" growled Fred, with a shrug of his shoulders. Then, disdaining to look at Dick & Co., this stickler for upper class exclusiveness turned and stalked out of the store, closing the door after him with a bang.

For some minutes Dick and his chums stood quietly against the wall at one side of the big, almost bare room. Then Edgeworth called out:

"Now, fellows, we've had enough of indoor work. We'll take a brief rest. After that we'll go over to the field and practice tackles and formations until dark."

Released from the drills Thomp came over to shake hands with the freshmen visitors. Edgeworth presently strolled over, and a few others.

"By the way, captain," spoke up Thompson, finally, "I think Prescott told us that the mighty freshmen intellects of Dick & Co. had been trying out their brains in the effort to get up some new football stunts."

"That's so," nodded Sam.

"Have we time to listen to them?"

"Yes," decided the football captain; "if it doesn't take them too long to explain."

Ben Badger kicked forward an empty packing case.

"Here's a platform, Prescott. Get up and orate!" he called.

Dick laughingly held back from the packing case until Badger and

Thomp lifted him bodily and stood him on top of the box.

"And cut it short, and make it practical," admonished Ted Butler, "or take the dire consequences!"

"Why, I don't know, gentlemen of the football team, that it's much of an idea," Dick began, "but my chums and I have been thinking over the complaint of the Athletics Committee that you haven't

as much money, this season, as you'd like."

"Money?" echoed one. "Now, you're whispering. Whoop!"

"Money--the root of all evil!" shouted another.

"Get wicked!" adjured a third.

"What my friends and I had to suggest," Dick went on, "was that, as we understand it, the folks of the town don't contribute much cash for upholding the fame of High School athletics."

"The School Alumni Association does pretty well in that line," replied Edgeworth. "The public in general do pretty well by buying tickets rather liberally to our games. It's the expenses that are the great trouble. You see, Prescott, instead of maintaining one team, we really have to support two, for the subs are necessary in order to give us practice. Then the coach's expenses are heavy. Now, the Alumni Association owns our athletic field, but a lot of lumber and carpenter work is needed there every year, making repairs and putting in improvements. Then, when we play high school teams at a distance from here the railroad expenses eat up enormously."

"And we have to play mostly teams at a good distance from here," laughed Ben Badger, "for we've played the nearby elevens time and again, and Gridley has eaten up the other fellows in such big gulps that we have to get on dates, these days, with teams so far away that they don't know much about us."

"But there's plenty of money in the town," replied Dick. "The business men have some of it. The wealthy people have a lot of it, too. It is a Gridley brag that the people of this city are public spirited to the last gasp. Now, if you can get public spirit and money on good speaking terms there wouldn't need to be any lack of funds for High School athletics."

"All right," nodded Edgeworth, trying to conceal a slight impatience "But how are you going to introduce public spirit effectively to money?"

"That's what we freshmen have been wondering," Dick replied. "Now, every student in the Gridley H.S.--boy students and girl students--gets a share of the reflected glory that comes from the work of one of the best high school elevens in the United States. So, as we see it, the whole student body should get together in the raising of funds. And when I say 'funds,' I don't mean pennies or dimes."

"This is becoming interesting," called out Ben Badger.

"That my chums and I would suggest," Dick continued, "is that the whole student body of Gridley H.S. be enlisted, and sent out to scour the town, holding, out a subscription paper that is properly worded at the top."

"How worded?" demanded Ted Butler.

"My freshmen chums and I have prepared a draft of the paper.

May I read what we suggest as a heading for the paper?"

"Hear! Hear!" cried a dozen.

"Thank you," Prescott acknowledged, gratefully. Then, drawing a paper from his pocket, he read as follows:

"'Gridley is justly proud of its public spirit, and rejoices in having the best in several lines. Few if any cities in the United States possess a High School football team that can down the eleven from Gridley H.S. We are proud of our High School, and as proud of its reputation in athletics. We believe that Gridley prominence in athletics should be fostered in every way, and we know that real athletics cost money--a lot of it! We, The Undersigned, therefore subscribe to the Athletic Committee of Gridley H.S. the amounts of public spirit set down opposite our names in dollars.'"

After Dick Prescott had ceased reading it took nearly a full minute for the cleverness of this direct appeal to local pride to strike home in the minds of the football squad. Then loud applause broke loose.

"Freshie!" roared Sam Edgeworth, over the din, "that's genius, compressed into a hundred words!"

"It's O.K.!" declared Thompson, with heavy emphasis.

"Bully!" roared Ben Badger.

Then one pessimist was heard from:

"It's good, but it takes something mighty good to force people to part with their own cash."

"Don't you think that, with every H.S. boy and girl going around with the paper, it will force subscriptions?" Dick inquired.

"Oh, well," granted the pessimist, "I believe it will cost enough money out of the public to pay all the cost of printing the subscription papers anyway."

"If we didn't need that kicker on the team, we'd throw him out of here," laughed Sam Edgeworth, good-naturedly.

Then the matter was put to informal vote, and it was decided to ask the permission of the Athletic Committee to put through the scheme presented by Dick & Co.

"And now it's time to be off for the field," proclaimed Sam Edgeworth, with emphasis. Coach Morton will be waiting for us, and he isn't the man who enjoys being kept waiting."

"Come along with us, Dick & Co.," called Thompson. "You'll have a chance to see whether you approve of our way of handling the game."

So Dick and his partners went along. Though they could only stand at the edge of the field and look on, yet that was rare fun, for no other freshmen were on the same side of the fence.

As all six of the boys knew considerable about the theories and rules of football, and as all of them watched closely the plays between Gridley H.S. and the subs, they soon saw the reason why Gridley had one of the most formidable High School teams in the country.

"Oh, for the day when we can try to make the team!" uttered

Dick Prescott, his eyes gleaming with anticipation.

The fund-raising scheme offered by Dick & Co. went before the Athletic Committee that same evening. It was accepted, as Prescott and Darrin, hanging about outside the H.S. building, learned an hour later.

In three days more the subscription papers had been printed and were distributed. Every boy and girl in the school received one, with instructions to bring it back, "filled out"--or take the consequences.

Then the canvassing began.

Would it work? Dick & Co. felt that their own reputations hung in the balance. And it was bound to be the case that some of the students, though they took the papers, did a lot of prompt "kicking" about it.

Would it "work"?

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