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The following day Joel arrived on the football field to discover the head coach in full charge. He was talking earnestly to Wesley Blair. His dress was less immaculate than upon the preceding afternoon, although not a whit less attractive to Joel. A pair of faded and much-darned red-and-black striped stockings were surmounted by a pair of soiled and patched moleskin trousers. His crimson jersey had faded at the shoulders to a pathetic shade of pink, and one sleeve was missing, having long since "gone over to the enemy." In contrast to these articles of apparel was his new immaculate canvas jacket, laced for the first time but a moment before. But he looked the football man that he was from head to toe, and Joel admired him immensely and was extremely proud when, as he was passing, Blair called him over and introduced him to Remsen. The latter shook hands cordially, and allowed his gaze to travel appreciatingly over Joel's five feet eight inches of bone and muscle.
"I'm glad to know you, March," he said, "and glad that you are going to help us win."
The greeting was so simple and sincere that Joel ran down the field a moment later, feeling that football honors were even more desirable than before. To-day the throng of candidates had dwindled down to some forty, of whom perhaps twenty were new men. The first and second elevens were lined up for the first time, and Joel was placed at left half in the latter. An hour of slow practice followed. The ball was given to the first eleven on almost every play, and as the second eleven were kept entirely on the defensive, Joel had no chance to show his ability at either rushing or kicking. Remsen was everywhere at once, scolding, warning, and encouraging in a breath, and the play took on a snap and vim which Wesley Blair, unassisted, had not been able to introduce. After it was over, Joel trotted back with the others to the gymnasium and took his first shower bath. On the steps outside was West, and the two boys took their way together to the Academy Building.
"Did you hear Remsen getting after Bart Cloud?" asked West.
"No. Who is Cloud?"
"He plays right half or left half, I forget which, on the first eleven," answered West, "and he's about the biggest cad in the school. His father's an alderman in New York, they say, and has lots of money; but he doesn't let Bart handle much of it for him. He played on the team last year and did good work. But this season he's got a swelled head and thinks he doesn't have to play to keep his place; thinks it's mortgaged to him, you see. Remsen opened his eyes to-day, I guess! Whipple says Remsen called him down twice, and then told him if he didn't take a big brace he'd lose his position. Cloud got mad and told Clausen--Clausen's his chum--that if he went off the team he'd leave school. I guess few of us would be sorry. Bartlett Cloud's a coward from the toes up, March, and if he tries to make it unpleasant for you, why, just offer to knock him down and he'll change his tune."
"Thank you for telling me," responded Joel, "but I don't expect to have much to do with him; I don't like his looks. I know the boy you mean, now. He's the fellow that called me names--'Country,' you know, and such--the first day we had practice. I heard him, but didn't let on. I didn't mind much, but it didn't win my love." West laughed uproariously and slapped Joel on the back.
"Oh, you're a queer sort, March. I'd have had a fight on the spot. But you--Say, you're going to be an awful grind, March, if you keep on in your present terrible course. You won't have time for any fun at all. And I was going to teach you golf, you know. It's not nice of you, it really isn't."
"I'll play golf with you the first afternoon we don't have practice, West, honestly. I'm awfully sorry I'm such a crank about lessons, but you see I've made up my mind to try for the--the--what scholarship is that?"
"Carmichael?" suggested West. Joel shook his head.
"No, the big one." West stared.
"Do you mean the Goodwin scholarship?"
"Yes, that's the one," answered Joel. West whistled.
"Well, you're not modest to hurt, March. Why, man, that's a terror! You have to have the Greek alphabet backward, and never miss chapel all term to get a show at that. The Goodwin brings two hundred and forty dollars!"
"That's why I want it," answered Joel. "If I win it it will pay my expenses for this year and part of next."
"Well, of course I hope you'll make it," answered West, "but I don't believe you have much show. There's Knox, and Reeves, and--and two or three others all trying for it. Knox won the Schall scholarship last year. That carries two hundred even."
"Well, anyhow, I'll try hard," answered Joel resolutely.
"Of course. You ought to have it; you need it. Did I tell you that I won a Masters scholarship in my junior year? Yes, I did really. It was forty dollars. I remember that I bought two new putters and a jolly fine caddie bag."
"You could do better than that if you'd try, West. You're awfully smart."
"Who? Me?" laughed West. "Pshaw! I can't do any more than pass my exams. Of course I'm smart enough when it comes to lofting out of a bad lie or choosing a good club; but--" He shook his head doubtfully, but nevertheless seemed pleased at the idea.
"No, I mean in other ways," continued Joel earnestly. "You could do better than half the fellows if you tried. And I wish you would try, West. You rich fellows in Hampton House could set such a good example for the youngsters if you only would. As it is, they admire you and envy you and think that it's smart to give all their time to play. I know, because I heard some of them talking about it the other day. 'You don't have to study,' said one; 'look at those swells in Hampton. They just go in for football and golf and tennis and all that, and they never have any trouble about passing exams.'" West whistled in puzzled amazement.
"Why, March, you're setting out as a reformer; and you're talking just like one of those good boys in the story books. What's up?" Joel smiled at the other boy's look of wonderment.
"Nothing's up, except that I want you to promise to study more. Of course, I know it sounds cheeky, West, but I don't mean to meddle in your business. Only--only--" Joel hesitated.
"Only what? Out with it!" said West. They had reached the Academy Building and had paused on the steps.
"Well, only--that you've been very kind to me, West, and I hate to see you wasting your time and know that you will wish you hadn't later, when you've left school, you know. That's all. It isn't that I want to meddle--" There was a moment of silence. Then:
"The idea of your caring!" answered West. "You're a good chap, March, and--I tell you what I'll do. I will go in more for lessons, after next week. You see there's the golf tournament next Saturday week, and I've got to put in a lot of hard practice between now and then. But after that I'll try and buckle down. You're right about it, March, I ought to do more studying, and I will try; although I don't believe I'll make much of a success as a 'grind.' And as to the--the--the rest that you said, why, I haven't been extraordinarily kind; I just sort of took to you that day on the campus because you looked to be such a plucky, go-ahead, long-legged chap, you know. I thought I'd rescue you from the ranks of the lowly and teach you golf and make a man of you generally. Instead of that"--West gave one of his expressive whistles--"instead of that, why, here you are turning me into a regular 'Masters Hall grind.' Thus do our brightest dreams fade. Well, I'm oil. Don't forget the upper middle class meeting to-night. They're going to vote on the Class Crew question, and we want all the votes we can get to down the fellows that don't want to pay the assessment. Good-night."
And Outfield West took himself off toward his room, his broad shoulders well back, and his clear, merry voice singing the school song as he strode along. Joel turned into the library, feeling well satisfied with the result of his meddling, to pore over a reference book until supper time.
The following morning Joel awoke to find a cold rain falling from a dull sky. The elms in the yard were dripping from every leaf and branch, and the walks held little gray pools that made the trip to breakfast a series of splashes. In the afternoon Joel got into his oldest clothes and tramped over to Hampton House. The window of West's room looked bright and cheerful, for a big wood fire was blazing on the hearth within. Joel kicked the mud from his shoes, and passing through the great white door with its old-fashioned fanlight above, tapped at West's room. A faint response from beyond the portal summoned him in.
The owner of the room was sandpapering a golf shaft before the fire, and a deep expression of discontent was on his face. But his countenance lighted up at sight of his visitor, and he leaped to his feet and drew a second armchair before the hearth.
"You're a brick, March! I was just wishing you roomed near enough so that I could ask you to come over and talk a bit. Isn't it a horrible day?"
"It's awfully wet; but then it has to rain sometimes, I suppose," answered Joel as he took off his overcoat.
"Yes, but it doesn't have to rain just when a fellow has fixed to practice golf, does it?" West growled. Joel laughed.
"I thought the real, simon-pure golfer didn't mind the weather."
"He doesn't as long as he can get over the ground, but the links here is like a quagmire when it rains. But never mind, we'll have a good chummy afternoon. And I've got some bully gingersnaps. Do you like gingersnaps?" Joel replied in the affirmative, and West produced a box of them from under the bed.
"I have to keep these kinds of things hid, you know, because Blair and Cooke and the rest of the fellows would eat them all up. By the way, I made up a list of the things you'll have to get if you're going in for golf. Here it is. Of course, I only put down one of each, and only a dozen balls. I'll get the catalogue and we'll reckon up and see how much they come to."
"But I don't think I can afford to buy anything like this, West," answered Joel doubtfully.
"Nonsense! you've got to! A fellow has to have necessities! What's the first thing on the list? Read 'em off, will you?"
"Driving cleek," read Joel.
"Yes, but never mind the clubs. There are seven of them on the list and you can get pretty fair ones for a dollar and a half each. What's next?"
"But that makes ten dollars and a half," cried Joel.
"Of course it does. And cheap enough, too. Why, some of mine cost three dollars apiece! What's next?"
"One dozen Silvertowns."
"Correct; four dollars. Mark it down. Next?"
"Caddie bag," responded Joel faintly.
"A dollar and a half. Next."
"But, West, I can't afford these things."
"Nonsense, March! Still--well, you can call the bag a dollar even; though the dollar ones aren't worth much. Mine cost five."
"But you have coat and trousers down. And shoes, and--"
"Well, you can leave the shoes out, and get some hobnails and put them on the soles of any good heavy shoes. Then there's gloves. They cost about a dollar and a half. As for trousers, you can do with ordinary ones, but--you've got to have a coat, March. A chap can't swing a club in a tight-fitting jacket like the one you've got on. Now let's reckon up."
"There's no use in doing that, West," laughed Joel. "I can't buy one of these things, to say nothing of the whole list. I'm saving up for my football togs, and after I have those I sha'n't be able to buy anything else for months."
West settled his chin in his hand and scowled at the flames. "It's too bad, March; and I put your name up for the Golf Club, too. You will join that, won't you? You must, now that I've put you up. It's only a dollar initiation fee and fifty cents dues."
"Very well, then, I'll join the club," answered Joel. "Though I don't see what use there is in it, since I haven't anything to play with and wouldn't know how to play if I had."
"Well, I'm going to teach you, you know. And as for clubs and things, why, I've got some oldish ones that will do fairly well; a beginner doesn't need extra good ones, you see. And then, for clothes--well, I guess fellows have played in ordinary trousers and coat; and I've played myself in tennis shoes. And if you don't mind cold hands, why, you needn't have gloves. So, after all, we'll get on all right." West was quite cheerful again and, with a wealth of clubs--divers, spoons, bulgers, putters, baps, niblicks, and many other sorts--on the rug before him, chattered on about past deeds of prowess on the links until the room grew dark and the lamps in the yard shone fitfully through the rain, by which time a dozen clubs in various states of repair had been laid aside, the gingersnaps had been totally demolished, and West had forgotten all about the meanness of the weather and his lost practice.
Then Cooke and Somers demanded admission, to the annoyance of both West and Joel, and the lamps were lighted, and Joel said good-night and hurried back to his room in order to secure a half hour's study ere supper time.
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