DAN BEGINS RIGHT

Dan Vinton returned to Yardley after the Christmas vacation on an
afternoon of one of those bright, warm days which sometimes happen
along in the middle of Winter. As the train rumbled over the bridge,
Dan caught a fleeting glimpse of Long Island Sound sparkling in the
sunlight and pricked out here and there with a white sail. On his way
up the winding road to the school–he had the station carriage to
himself save for the unobtrusive presence of a homesick Preparatory
Class boy–he saw clean russet meadows aglow in the mellow light,
and, farther inland and across the little river, Meeker’s Marsh a
broad expanse of reeds and grass and rushes shading from green-gold to
coppery red. So far, although it was the third of January, there had
been no snow storm worthy of the name in the vicinity of Wissining,
and, save that the trees were bare of leaves, one might have thought
himself in Autumn. It was as though a careless, laughing October day
had lost its place in the procession and now, after a two months’
truancy, had squirmed and crowded itself back into line again. Dan cast
a glance toward the athletic field, half expecting to see the brown
footballs hurtling up against the sky.

The carriage skirted The Prospect and began the steep ascent which ends
with the plateau on which the school buildings stand. A freight train
rumbled by through the cut a few rods below and Dan watched the white
steam as it wreathed upward until a movement by the boy in the farther
corner of the carriage drew his attention. The lad was digging a
gloved knuckle into his eye, his head averted in an effort to hide the
threatening tears. Dan smiled. But the next moment, as he recalled how
near to tears he had himself been on more than one occasion only some
four months previous, the smile disappeared and he leaned forward.

“Well, kid, glad to get back?” he asked kindly.

The lad–he looked to be no more than twelve years of age–turned and
glanced at the questioner shyly, bravely trying to summon a smile as he
shook his head.

“Oh, well, you will be in a day or two,” responded Dan heartily.
“What’s your name?”

“Merrow, sir.”

“Well, buck up, Merrow; and never mind the ‘sir.’ I dare say you chaps
are pretty comfortable in Merle, aren’t you?”

“Yes, s–, yes, Mr. Vinton.”

“Oh, so you know me, do you?” laughed Dan. The boy nodded and smiled
bashfully.

“I guess every fellow knows you,” he murmured.

“Well, don’t call me Mister, please. Where do you live when you’re at
home?”

“Germantown, Pennsylvania, s–, I mean–”

“Well, that isn’t very far away, is it?” asked Dan cheerfully.

“N–no, not so very,” replied the other doubtfully.

“I should say not. I dare say you left home only three or four hours
ago, eh?”

“Twelve o’clock.”

“Well, I started yesterday afternoon,” said Dan. “I had to come all the
way from Ohio. That beats you, doesn’t it?”

The younger boy nodded. Then:

“We have a fellow in our house who comes from California,” he announced
proudly.

“And that beats me,” laughed Dan. “Well, here we are.” He took up his
bag and clambered out. “Come over and see me this evening, Merrow, if
you get too lonesome; 28 Clarke’s my room. Cheer up.”

He left his bag on the steps of Oxford while he sought the office to
register.

“Back early,” said Mr. Forisher, the secretary.

“Yes, sir,” answered Dan. “We’ve got some dandy snow out our way and I
thought I’d better start early in case the trains got tied up. Not many
fellows back yet, are there?”

“Only a few. The next train will bring most of them. Nice weather we’re
having.”

Dan agreed that it was and turned toward the door. But:

“By the way, Vinton,” said the secretary, “you have a new roommate with
you this term, I believe?”

“Yes, sir, Gerald Pennimore.”

“Exactly. Well–er–we want to make young Pennimore’s stay with
us as pleasant as possible, Vinton, and so–anything you can do
to–er–smooth the way for him will be–er–appreciated at the Office.”

“Yes, sir. I’m going to try and look out for him, sir.”

“That’s right. I suppose he will be along pretty soon.”

“He and his father are coming on the six o’clock, sir. I had a letter
from him a couple of days ago.”

“Ah, that reminds me, Vinton! Mr. Collins left word that you were to
join Mr. Pennimore and his son at the Doctor’s table this evening. He
thought that would make it pleasant for the boy.”

Dan smiled as he closed the Office door behind him.

“It pays to be a millionaire,” he thought. “I rather wish, though, for
Gerald’s sake, that his father wasn’t coming along. The sooner the
fellows forget that Gerald’s John T’s son the better it’s going to be
for Gerald.”

He rescued his bag and made his way to Clarke Hall where he climbed two
flights of well-worn stairs and let himself into a corner room on the
front of the building. There he sat down his bag, threw off his hat
and coat and, crossing to the windows, sent them screeching upward.
The sun had passed from the front of the building but a thin shaft of
amber light entered the side window and fell upon the bare top of the
chiffonier nearby. Dan thrust his hands into his pockets and looked
about him. Then he shook his head.

“It’s going to be funny here at first without Tubby,” he muttered.
“Tubby wasn’t what you’d call an ideal roommate, but I was sort of
getting used to him. I suppose a fellow misses even a boil if he has it
long enough!”

Twenty-eight Clarke was a large room, well lighted and airy. It was
comfortably if plainly furnished. Each side of the room held its bed,
chiffonier, washstand and chair. An ingrain carpet covered most of
the floor and the shallow bay window was fitted with a window-seat
piled with cushions. In the center of the room stood a broad-topped
study table and a comfortable arm-chair flanked it at either side.
On the clean gray-tinted walls hung a few good pictures. There was a
good-sized closet on each side of the door. Being in a corner room
there was an end window as well as the bay in front.

Dan hung his gray overcoat and derby hat in the closet, swung his bag
to the table and began to unpack it. And while he is engaged let us
have a good look at him.

Dan Vinton was fifteen years of age, rather tall, lithe, and long of
limb. He had a quickness and certainty of movement–exhibited even in
the way in which he stowed his things away–that impressed the observer
at once. Alertness was a prominent characteristic of Dan’s; he never
shilly-shallied, nor, on the other hand, was he especially impulsive.
He had the faculty of making up his mind quickly, and, his decision
once reached, he acted promptly and with little loss of effort. Dan’s
course between two points was always a straight line. All this may have
had something to do with the fact that he played an extremely good game
of football at the end of the line.

I don’t want to give the impression that Dan was one of the thin and
nervous sort; on the contrary he was well-built, if a trifle large
for his fifteen years, while his limbs were not all bone even if they
were long. And nerves were things that never bothered him. He was
good-looking, with steady brown eyes, a short, straight nose, brown
hair, and a pleasant mouth which hinted of good temper. Dan had entered
Yardley Hall School the preceding Fall and was in the Third Class.
He had won a place for himself on the football eleven and had scored
the winning touchdown in the final contest against Yardley’s rival,
Broadwood Academy. One cannot ordinarily do a thing like that without
becoming pretty well known in a school of some two hundred and seventy
students or without gaining some degree of popularity, and Dan was no
exception. He had received enough praise and adulation to have turned
a less well-balanced head. To Dan the School’s homage had brought
pleasure but not pride. He had many acquaintances but only a handful
of friends. But the friends were worth having and the friendship was
real.

Having emptied the bag he tossed it onto the closet shelf and wandered
to the window, glancing at his watch on the way.

“Ten minutes to five,” he murmured. “That train ought to be in.” At
that moment there was a shriek from a locomotive whistle and Dan
threw open one of the front windows and craned his head and shoulders
out. It was just possible to see the corner of the station, nearly a
half-mile away, and there was the big engine puffing black smoke clouds
from its diminutive stack. A moment later it had taken up its journey
again and Dan watched it and the ten cars slip across the open track
and plunge into the long cut through the school grounds below The
Prospect. It would be ten minutes at least before the carriages would
arrive, and Dan settled himself in his arm-chair and took up a book.
But the arrival of his trunk from the station interrupted him a moment
later, and after the porter had gone he decided to do his unpacking
now and get it over with. The trunk was only a small one and didn’t
keep him busy very long, but before he had finished the carriages had
begun to unload their noisy passengers at the front of Oxford Hall and
Dan decided to finish his task before seeking his friends. So it was
nearly a quarter of an hour later that he set his cap onto the back of
his head and ran down the stairs. The station carriages were making
their second trips and the front of Oxford was sprinkled with fellows.
Dan returned salutations here and there without stopping as he cut
around the corner of Clarke and made his way to Dudley.

There was no need to knock at the door of Number 7, for the portal was
wide open and Loring and Dyer and a third person whom Dan didn’t know
were in plain sight. Dan stood for an instant in the doorway, but for
an instant only, for Alf Loring caught sight of him, gave a shout,
hurdled a suit-case and dragged him into the room.

“Hello, you old chump!” he cried. “When did you get here? We looked
all through the train for you. How are you? Isn’t it great to get back
again? I want you to know my brother Herb. Herb’s going to stay over
night with us. Herb, this is Dan Vinton.”

Dan shook hands with the elder brother and with Tom Dyer, Loring’s
roommate. Dyer only said “Hello, Dan,” in his slow, quiet way, but
his hand-clasp and the smile that accompanied it said a lot more. Alf
Loring talked on breathlessly as he threw bags out of the way and told
everyone to find a seat.

“Herb’s on his way to New Haven, Dan. He’s coming here in the Fall to
help turn out the dandiest team old Yardley’s ever had, aren’t you,
Herb?”

“Maybe,” answered his brother smilingly. “If you fellows want me.”

“Of course we want you!” cried Alf. “What have I been telling you all
along?”

“Well, I don’t know how your coach would like it, Kid. He may not want
anyone butting in.”

“Payson? Don’t you believe it! Payson’s a dandy chap, Herb; he’ll be
pleased to death to have someone take a hand. Won’t he, Dan?”

“I should think he ought to be,” Dan replied. “Especially a man like
Mr. Loring.”

The Yale man acknowledged the compliment with a nod and a laugh. “I
don’t know much about coaching, though,” he said. “I’ve never tried it.”

“Oh, well, you know how to play football,” said Alf, “and that’s more
than some coaches do. You’ll be all right. With me to help you,” he
added as an afterthought. At which they all laughed, even Dyer. Herbert
Loring was a big, broad-chested, handsome fellow who looked a little
bit spoiled. He was in his junior year at Yale and was one of the star
half-backs. It was evident that Alf thought this big brother a very
fine and important person, and equally evident that big brother wasn’t
denying it. But in spite of the fact that he seemed a trifle too well
pleased with himself, Dan quite liked him.

For a time the talk dwelt on football, football past and future,
football at Yale, and football at Yardley. Tom Dyer’s part in the
discussion was slight, he preferring to get his bag unpacked and his
things put away. But it was Tom who finally switched the conversation
away from football.

“That protegé of yours shown up yet, Dan?” he asked, pausing on his way
to the closet with a pair of shoes in each hand.

“Not yet. He and his father are coming on the six o’clock train, I
believe.”

“By Jove!” exclaimed Alf. “I’d forgotten all about Little Lord
Fauntleroy. Poor old Dan!”

“Who’s Little Lord Fauntleroy?” asked Herbert Loring.

“Dan’s new roommate and protegé. I told you about him, don’t you
remember?” Big Brother shook his head and taking one knee into his
clasped hands leaned back comfortably against the cushions of the
window-seat.

“No, you didn’t, Kid. Who is he? Let’s hear about him.”

“It’s all just like a story in a book,” said Alf, with a grin at Dan.
“It happened last Fall. You know who John T. Pennimore is, don’t you?”

“The man they call the Steamship King? He lives around here, doesn’t
he?”

“Yes, you can see his place from out front. Sound View he calls it;
and it’s a dandy; there’s eight acres of it, with a regular palace of
a house, stables, kennels, gardener’s lodge, hot-houses, and all that
sort of thing. They say he’s worth a hundred millions.”

“They say a whole lot of rot,” said his brother witheringly. “He
probably has ten or fifteen millions.”

“Is that all?” murmured Tom. “Wonder how he lives!”

“Well, anyhow, he’s rich, all right. And he’s done two or three things
for the school, they say; given money, I suppose; shouldn’t wonder if
he owned some stock in it. Does he, do you think, Dan?”

“I never heard him say anything about it,” Dan replied. Herbert Loring
looked across at him with surprise and interest.

“Do you know him?” he asked.

“Know him?” scoffed Alf. “Why, they’re as thick as thieves, aren’t you,
Dan? I wouldn’t be surprised if they called each other by their first
names.”

“Well, where’s the story?” asked his brother impatiently.

“Coming right along. John T. has one son, a kid of about–how old,
Dan? Fourteen? Yes. And of course the old gentleman thinks a whole lot
of him. Well, one day last Fall our hero–” with a bow to Dan–“was
walking through the woods to the beach by the path that leads along
John T’s fence when he heard a dickens of a yowling; sounded like a dog
having its tail cut off. So our hero investigates.”

“Cut out the ‘hero’ business,” begged Dan.

“Pardon me! Mr. Vinton investigates and finds that on the other side of
the fence is a play-house and that the dog is shut up in the play-house
and that the play-house is on fire. I say, Dan, it’s always been a
mystery to me how that thing got on fire.”

“It was funny,” responded Dan carelessly.

“Well, anyhow,” continued Alf, “Dan climbs the fence and finds this
young Pennimore kid, breaking into the house with an axe to rescue the
dog. He tries to make him behave but the kid insists on rescuing Fido.
So in he goes. By that time the house is full of flames and smoke and
such things. Dan waits a minute and the kid doesn’t come out again.
Then Dan ties a handkerchief around his mouth, girds up his loins and
dashes into the seething cauldron–”

“That’s water,” interrupted Tom disgustedly. “You mean ‘the sea of
flames.’”

“All right, Tom; dashes into the sea of flames and pulls out the kid
and the dog, too, and gets nicely baked in the process.”

“Nonsense!” said Dan. “I only got a couple of little burns on my leg
and arm.”

“Who’s telling this story?” demanded Alf. “You dry up! Well, old John
T. comes along with some of his servants and finds them and takes them
up to the house and has them put to bed and gets the doctor for them.
Whether he offered Dan half his kingdom I don’t know; Dan’s awfully
tight with his details; but I’ll bet he could have had anything he’d
wanted, say half a dozen steamships. John T. keeps him at his house
until noon next day, sends word to Toby, that’s our Principal here,
you know, that Dan’s made a jolly hero of himself and that he isn’t to
be licked for staying away from school. Of course the kid’s grateful,
too, and between them they come pretty near spoiling little Daniel;
automobile rides, trips on John T’s big ocean yacht, dinners and
luncheons and all the rest of it! Oh, Dan’s the whole works at Sound
View!”

“Bully for you!” laughed Herbert Loring with a glance of admiration at
Dan.

“But the best part of the story is to come,” said Alf. “Old Toby has
always been eager to get John T. to send his son to school here; he’s
been after the boy on the quiet for a couple of years; but John T. was
afraid something might happen to little Gerald if he got up here with
all us great rough rowdies–”

“Come now, Alf, that’s a whopper,” interrupted Dan warmly. “You can’t
blame Mr. Pennimore, I think, for being soft over the boy. His wife’s
dead and Gerald’s all he’s got to be fond of.”

“That and fifteen millions,” muttered Tom gravely.

“Well, anyhow, he wouldn’t think of it. Had a private tutor for Gerald
and watched him every minute. Broadwood Academy wanted to get the kid,
too, Herb. I guess that’s one reason Toby wanted him here; we always
like to get ahead of Broadwood, you know. Well, to make a long story
short, as they say, Dan has the cheek to tell John T. that if he wants
to make a man out of his boy the only thing to do is to send him to
Yardley. And John T. thinks it over awhile and finally agrees to do it
if Dan will take Gerald to room with him and look after him; warm his
milk for him and cover him up at night, and all that sort of thing, you
know. And now the question before the meeting is; Who is the joke on?”

“I should say it was on Vinton,” laughed his brother. “I’m afraid
you’re in for a hard time of it.”

“You ought to know better than to believe all Alf tells you,” replied
Dan untroubledly. “Mr. Pennimore didn’t ask me to let Gerald room with
me. That was my idea. My roommate had left school and I thought I might
as well take Gerald in. He’s not a milksop at all, in spite of what
Alf says. He’s been spoiled a bit, but a month or so here will knock
all that out of him. Mr. Pennimore is as fine a man as I ever met and
I’m mighty glad to do anything for him I can. I don’t propose to warm
Gerald’s milk for him, as Alf puts it, but I intend to be decent to him
and see that he has a fair chance. Lots of the fellows will be down on
him at the start just because he is John T. Pennimore’s son. That isn’t
fair. He can’t help it if his father is a millionaire. Lots of fellows
here have fathers who have plenty of money, only they’ve never been
talked about in the papers.”

“There’s something in that, Dan,” Alf allowed. “Here’s Tom here. Tom’s
father owns about everything in his part of New Jersey, so they say,
but Tom isn’t half bad when you get to know him.”

Tom only smiled.

“Glad you think that way,” said Dan earnestly, “for I want you two
fellows to be nice to Gerald and help me all you can.”

“You do, eh?” asked Alf. “Well, we’ll do it for your sake, Dan. Bring
the kid around some time and we’ll look him over. What class is he
going into?”

“Fourth. He could have made the Third easily if it hadn’t been for
math.”

“Why doesn’t he live at home?” asked Herbert Loring.

“The winter home is in New York,” Dan explained. “Sound View is just a
summer place. Besides, Mr. Pennimore is going abroad pretty soon for
several months, I believe. That’s one reason he was willing to let
Gerald come here; he said he guessed he’d be safer here than all alone
in New York with just the servants.”

“Oh, I dare say the kid isn’t as bad as Alf makes out,” said the elder
Loring. “I don’t envy you your job, though, Vinton. If you’ll take my
advice, and I know what I’m talking about, you’ll let him hoe his own
row. I dare say a few hard knocks are only what he needs.”

“And I’ll bet he will get them,” observed Tom thoughtfully.

“Whatever happens,” counselled Alf, “make him understand that he’s got
to take things as they come and that the sooner he forgets that his dad
has any money the better it’ll be for him.”

“I’m going to,” answered Dan. “Or, at least, I’m going to try. He isn’t
a bad sort at all, and I don’t want him to make a mess of things here,
especially after persuading his father to let him come.”

“Well, don’t you worry,” said Alf. “We’ll help you out all we can. I
guess he will get on all right. He must have some sense or he wouldn’t
be John T’s son!”

“Must be supper time,” said Tom. “Something tells me so, and it isn’t
my watch either.”

“That’s right, it’s five minutes after six. Come on, fellows. I’ll find
a place for you at our table, Herb. Are you hungry?”

“Sort of. Well, glad to have met you, Vinton. Come and see me if you
get up to New Haven. Alf will tell you where I live.”

“Oh, you’re not through with Dan yet,” laughed Alf. “He sits at our
table.”

“But not to-night,” replied Dan, as they went out. “Toby’s invited me
to his table. Mr. Pennimore and Gerald will be there, you know.”

“Well, what do you think of that?” cried Alf.

“Well, son,” said Mr. Pennimore, “I guess everything’s all right.
You’ve got a nice, clean, pleasant room here and Dan to keep you from
getting homesick.”

“They don’t put very much in the rooms, do they?” asked Gerald
Pennimore a trifle dubiously.

Supper was over and Mr. Pennimore and the two boys, after a visit to
the Office, had come up to 28 Clarke. Mr. Pennimore was returning to
New York on the nine-thirty-eight train, in spite of the fact that
Doctor Hewitt, the Principal, had pressed him to spend the night at
Yardley.

“Well, I don’t see but what you have everything that you need,” replied
Gerald’s father, adding with a smile, “You must remember, son, that
you’re here to study and work.”

Mr. John T. Pennimore was about fifty-two or -three years of age,
rather under than above average height, a very well-bred looking
gentleman with a kind if somewhat thoughtful face. His eyes were very
black, very bright and keen. His hair was just a little grizzled at
the temples, and he wore a dark beard, trimmed short, and a mustache.
His manners were charming and his voice pleasant. Dan had never seen
Mr. Pennimore when he was not immaculately dressed. He always looked,
to use a familiar expression, as though he had just stepped out of a
band-box.

The resemblance between father and son was not yet very striking. What
there was depended more on tricks of voice, and little mannerisms than
on looks, although when Gerald laughed the resemblance was slightly
apparent. Gerald promised to grow into a larger man than his father,
although just at present he appeared far from robust. He was fourteen
years old, but scarcely looked it. He was slightly built, and his
very blue eyes, pink and white skin, and corn-colored hair gave him
a somewhat girlish appearance which of late had been troubling him a
good deal. For Gerald admired strength and virility, and his greatest
ambition was to make a name for himself on the athletic field, an
ambition that, judging from present indications, seemed scarcely likely
to be attained.

Gerald’s mother had died so soon after his birth that he couldn’t
recall her at all. Since then he had been in charge of nurses and
tutors, had been given well-nigh everything he wanted and had been as
carefully guarded as the heir-apparent of a throne. Mr. Pennimore had
tried hard not to spoil him, but Gerald was an only child and it would
have been strange indeed if Mr. Pennimore had been quite successful in
his effort. Dan and Gerald had known each other only three months but
were already quite close friends. Gerald’s liking for the older boy
was closely akin to hero worship; and the day on which he had learned
that he was to go to Yardley Hall School and room with Dan was one of
the happiest of his life. On the other hand, Dan liked Gerald less for
what he was than for what he believed he was capable of being. The boy
had never had a fair chance, he thought, and it was no wonder that he
was a trifle selfish and self-centered. And as for his flat chest and
weak muscles, why, what could you expect of a boy who had never had any
real playmates and whose most violent exercise consisted of driving in
carriage or automobile or pasting stamps in a stamp book! Dan believed
that a couple of years at Yardley would work a change.

“Oh, I’ll have to study all right,” responded Gerald to his father’s
reminder. “It’s going to be hard, I guess. But I don’t care,” he added
with a shy smile at Dan. “I’d a lot rather be here than at home
studying with one of those silly old tutors.”

Mr. Pennimore smiled.

“If it weren’t for those tutors, Gerald, you wouldn’t be here now.”
Then he turned to Dan. “Now, Dan,” he said, “tell me what you do all
day. When I’m away I shall often be wondering what this boy of mine is
up to. Tell me something about your life here.”

“Well, sir, we get up about seven and go to Chapel at half-past,”
responded Dan. “We have prayers and Old Toby–I mean Doctor Hewitt–reads
a chapter in the Bible and Mr. Collins reads the announcements. Then we
have breakfast at eight. I’m going to try and get Gerald a place at our
table, sir, but I’m afraid there isn’t room.”

“Perhaps one of the fellows will change with me,” suggested Gerald
hopefully. But Dan smiled and shook his head.

“I don’t believe so,” he answered. “It doesn’t matter much which table
you’re at, though; you get mighty good feed everywhere. That’s one
thing Yardley’s good at, Mr. Pennimore, feeding the fellows. They give
us all we want, and it’s good, too. Recitations begin at nine and
continue until twelve. Dinner’s at one, and then, from two to four,
there’s more recitations. At four there’s gymnasium for the Prep and
Fourth Class fellows. After that there’s nothing to do except study
in the evening from eight to nine. Lots of fellows don’t do that; if
you haven’t many recitations during the day you can do most of your
studying then.”

“That sounds a whole lot, doesn’t it?” asked Gerald anxiously of his
father.

“Well, it doesn’t sound like an idle life,” laughed Mr. Pennimore. “But
I dare say it will go smoothly enough after you’ve once got into the
routine, son. Method lightens toil. But there’s plenty of play, I take
it, Dan?”

“Yes, sir, lots. We have a mighty good time. There are two societies,
Cambridge and Oxford. Most every fellow belongs to one or the other.
I’m going to get Gerald into Cambridge; that’s the one I belong to; but
I can’t get him in until May.”

“Are these secret societies?” asked Mr. Pennimore with a trace of
anxiety.

“No, sir, we haven’t any of those. Faculty won’t let us. Our societies
are debating clubs, or, at least, they’re supposed to be, and we do
have debates; there’s one every Saturday night. But they’re more social
than anything else. Both societies have nice rooms where the fellows
can get together and talk or play or read. Then, of course, a fellow
can have lots of fun out of doors. There’s golf and hockey now, and
after awhile there’ll be baseball and tennis and other things. And then
there’s basket-ball, too; a good many fellows go in for that.”

“I’m going to play baseball,” announced Gerald decisively.

“Well, we will see about that,” replied his father. “It’s a long way to
Spring yet. You keep up with your studies for a couple of months and we
will talk about baseball later.”

“You must see Mr. Bendix to-morrow,” said Dan, “and take your physical
examination. He will tell you what sports you can go in for.”

“Does he have the say?” asked Gerald anxiously. Dan nodded.

“You’d better believe he does! If he says you can’t play baseball or
football you can’t, and that’s all there is to it. But he’s square, all
right, is ‘Muscles,’ and you want to do just as he tells you. He’s a
wonder!”

Gerald considered this in silence a moment. Then:

“If a fellow can’t play baseball and things I don’t see any use of
coming here,” he murmured.

Mr. Pennimore laughed.

“So that’s your idea, is it, son? Well, let me tell you that you’re
here to fit yourself for college. You wanted to come here, Gerald, and
you’ve had your way. Now there must be no backing down, my boy. Life
isn’t all play, as you’ll find out when you get older, but you can make
it seem like play by taking an interest in work. You mustn’t think that
because I’ve got money enough for us both that you’re going to sit
down and twiddle your thumbs and watch the procession go by. No, sir!
You’re going to march with the rest, and I want to see you marching
at the head. Work’s one of the best things life has to offer, if we
only realize it, and the man who loves his work is the man who does it
best and gets the most out of life. Well, you’ll think me a tiresome
old codger if I lecture any longer. Just you put the same amount of
enthusiasm into work that you do into play, Gerald, and you won’t have
much trouble. Now I must get down to the station if I’m going to catch
that train.”

“Are you going abroad soon, sir?” asked Dan.

“In about two weeks. Gerald’s coming up to town to see me a day or two
before I sail, and I’d like to have you come along, Dan, if you want
to. I sail on Tuesday. You boys might come up Friday evening and stay
until Sunday. We’ll fix it up later with Doctor Hewitt.”

“Thank you, sir,” answered Dan. “I’d like to come very much if I won’t
be in the way. I’ve never been to New York except just to come into
the station and go out again.”

“Well, we will have to show him some of the sights, eh, son? Take him
to a theater or two.”

“That’ll be fine!” cried Gerald. “Will you go, Dan?”

“You bet I will, if I can get off!”

“I’ll write to the Doctor next week and see,” said Mr. Pennimore. “I
think I can persuade him to let you go. Now get your cap, son, and walk
a little way with me. Good-bye, Dan. I’ll see you in town before I
sail. Keep an eye on this worthless boy of mine and see that he writes
to me twice a week. If he doesn’t I’ll shut down on his allowance. I
guess that will bring him to terms,” laughed Mr. Pennimore.

Dan went with them to the head of the stairs, shook hands again with
Mr. Pennimore and returned to his room. Gerald’s big trunk, which had
arrived an hour before, stood in front of the door. Dan bent over and
unbuckled the strap. It wasn’t an easy task and Dan had to put all his
strength into it. When it was done and he had slipped down the catches
he stood off and ran his fingers through his hair in a way he had when
puzzled. Then he shook his head slowly, fastened the catches again and,
after a deal of hard work, restrapped the trunk, working the buckle
into the last possible hole.

“Might as well begin right,” he murmured as he dropped panting into his
chair and took up a book.

Yardley Hall School[1] stands on a small plateau about a half-mile from
the shore, and commanding a broad view, of Long Island Sound, about
half way between Newport and New Haven. The Wissining River, from which
small stream the tiny village takes its name, curves around the back of
the school grounds, separating them from the wide expanse of Meeker’s
Marsh, flows beside the village, and empties into the Sound. Across
the Wissining lies Greenburg, a considerable manufacturing town, and
beyond Greenburg and some two miles from the water is located Yardley’s
time-honored rival, Broadwood Academy.

[1] Readers who desire a more detailed description of Yardley
Hall School are referred to Chapter V of _Forward Pass_, the
preceding story in this series.

There are six buildings at Yardley, most of them quite modern; the
school is not old, as New England schools go, having been founded
by Doctor Tobias Hewitt in 1870. There is Oxford Hall, containing
the Office, the Principal’s living rooms, laboratories, recitation
rooms, library, assembly hall, and the rooms of the rival societies,
Oxford and Cambridge. Oxford Hall is one of the older buildings. The
other is Whitson, which elbows it on the East and which contains the
dining-room, or commons as it is called, on the first floor, and
dormitories above. Clarke is a dormitory entirely, as are Dudley and
Merle, the latter being reserved for the boys of the Preparatory Class.
The Kingdon Gymnasium completes the list of buildings if one excepts
the heating plant and the boat house.

From the back of the gymnasium the ground slopes down slowly to the
tennis courts, the athletic field and the river. Here, too, but
further upstream is the golf links, a nine hole course that is well
maintained and well patronized. In front of Oxford Hall is an expanse
of lawn known as The Prospect. From this a flight of steps leads to
the lower ground and joins a path which crosses the railroad cut by
a rustic bridge and leads to the woods beyond. Through these various
paths wind deviously to the beach and the Sound. Between the woods,
which are school property, and at the mouth of the river, lies the
Pennimore estate, eight acres of perfectly kept lawn and grove and
shrubbery, with a long stone pier running out into the water for the
accommodation of the “Steamship King’s” big yacht on which, in the
summer time, he makes his trips to and from New York.

From the upper floors of the Yardley buildings one may see for miles
up and down the Sound, and even, on clear days, catch a glimpse of
Montauk Point across the water. It would, I think, be difficult to find
a finer site for a school than that occupied by Yardley. Although still
under forty years of age, Yardley Hall has won a name for itself in a
part of the country where famous schools are many, and you will never
be able to persuade a Yardley man to acknowledge that any other school
approaches it in excellence. As for Broadwood–well, I never could do
justice to a Yardley man’s opinion of that institution!

On an afternoon about a week subsequent to the opening of the winter
term Dan dropped in at Number 7 Dudley. The bright weather continued,
but there was no hint of Autumn in the air to-day. A shrill east wind
charged around the corner of the building, and boys crossing the yard
kept their heads down into their collars and their hands in their
pockets and took short cuts across the winter turf in brazen defiance
of regulations. But Number 7 was warm and cozy as Dan closed the door
behind him and tossed his cap onto a chair. The steam pipes were
sizzling drowsily and in the grate a bed of coals glowed warmly.

“Gee,” said Dan, “I wish we had fireplaces in Clarke.”

“You ought to be glad you haven’t,” answered Alf Loring from the
window-seat. “Every time you have a fire it costs you ten cents for a
hod of coal. Tom’s always kicking about the expense.”

Tom Dyer, seated at the study table writing a letter, grunted
ironically without looking up.

“Come on over here and stretch your weary limbs,” said Alf, cuddling
his feet under him to make room and tossing a pillow at the visitor.
Alfred Loring was seventeen years old and was captain and quarter-back
of the football team. He was a nice, jolly looking fellow with a pair
of merry brown eyes and hair of the same shade which he wore parted
in the middle and slicked down straightly on either side of his
well-shaped head. Alf was in the Second Class, as was his roommate,
Tom Dyer. Tom, however, was a year older, a rangey, powerful looking
youth, rather silent, rather sleepy-looking, but good-natured to a
fault. Tom wasn’t a beauty, by any means, but his gray eyes and his
expression when he smiled redeemed the rather heavy features. Tom
played on the Eleven at left half and had just been elected captain of
the basket-ball team in place of a First Class fellow who had failed to
return in the fall.

“Ain’t it cold?” asked Alf as Dan snuggled against the pillow. “If this
keeps up we’ll have ice on the river in no time. Do you skate, Dan?”

“Not much. But I’m going to get some skates and try it.”

“I don’t know whether to believe you or not,” laughed Alf, “you’re so
modest. I dare say you can skate all around me.”

“No, honest, Alf, that’s the truth. I can’t skate much. I never seemed
to be able to learn.”

“That’s too bad. I was hoping you’d try for the hockey team. But you
get some skates and get busy. You’d better come out for the team,
anyway. You’ll have plenty of fun, even if you don’t make it.”

“And probably break my silly neck!”

“Well, don’t do that; we need you too much next fall. But you might try
for goal. You don’t have to skate much to play goal.”

“Don’t have to do much of anything,” observed Tom dryly, “except stand
up there and be hit with a hunk of hard rubber that feels like paving
block. I’ve tried it; played on Whitson team two years ago. We played
Clarke for the School Championship.”

“Did you win?” asked Dan, scenting a story.

“No, we lost,” replied Tom, going on with his writing.

“Tell him how, Tom,” said Alf with a chuckle.

“Dead easy,” answered Tom with a reminiscent smile. “The first half
ended three to two in our favor and we were feeling pretty cheerful.
But when we began again one of our fellows–Nickerson–he was playing
cover-point–did something that didn’t please the referee and got put
off for the limit; two minutes, I think it was. Then Clarke got down to
business and made things hot around goal. I stopped about four shots
in as many seconds and then there was a mix-up in front of the net and
someone laid open my head with his stick. When I came around again I
found they’d scored on us. I tried to go back and play but I was too
dizzy to stand up and they made me quit and put in a sub named Baxter.
Baxter meant well, but he was so excited that he couldn’t see straight.
And along toward the end of the half, with the score tied, Clarke
rushed the puck again and took a shot. Baxter stopped it with foot and
it got stuck between his skate and his boot. Instead of calling for
time or doing anything sensible he just stood there and shook his foot
like a hen with mud between her toes. Well, at about the sixth shake
the puck came out and flew into the net. That gave Clarke one goal to
the good. We all called Baxter names, and that got him more excited and
nervous than ever. And then, with about a minute to play the puck came
down again with everyone squabbling over it. Baxter’s eyes just stood
out of his head and he made a dash out of goal, got the puck somehow or
other and deliberately swiped into his own goal! Oh, he made quite a
hit that day for a sub!”

“I’ll bet he did!” laughed Dan. “I suppose you fellows all loved him to
death.”

“We did–not,” grunted Tom. “It was funny about Baxter, though,” he
added thoughtfully. “He graduated last year, and about a month later he
was going over from New York to Boston with his folks on that steamer
that caught fire; what was its name, Alf?”

“_Independence._”

“Yes. The fire didn’t amount to a whole lot in the end, but for awhile
things looked a bit bad. Well, the papers the next day made a regular
hero of Baxter. According to them he was the life of the party. Had
a fine time and enjoyed every minute of his visit. He bossed folks
around, strapped life-preservers on fat old ladies, helped launch the
boats and was as cool as a cucumber. It just shows that you never can
tell, don’t it?”

“Where is he now?” asked Dan.

“Oh, he’s a dead ’un now; he’s gone to Harvard,” answered Tom.

“What did he want to go there for?” asked Dan, who had already decided
on Yale, quite indignantly.

“Search me! What does any fellow want to go there for?”

“Well, it’s lucky for Yale some fellows do go,” laughed Alf. “If they
didn’t we wouldn’t have anyone to beat!”

“Well, there’s something in that,” grunted Tom. “But I’ll tell you
fellows one thing, though. Some day those Harvard Johnnies will take
their hands out of their pockets, work up a coaching system like they
have at Yale and everlastingly wallop us for keeps!”

“Oh, you run away and play!” scoffed Alf.

“All right. You just wait and see,” replied Tom unruffledly, returning
to his letter.

“What’s Tom think he’s doing?” asked Dan of Alf.

“He _thinks_ he’s a little Hague doing the arbitration act,” replied
Alf, “but what he’s really doing is making a mess. Rand–you know Paul
Rand?–he’s basket-ball manager, or thinks he is. Well, he tried to
make dates with Broadwood for three games and got high and mighty and
tried to dictate things with the result that Broadwood refused to have
anything to do with us. And I don’t blame her. We won last year, you
know, and so Rand thought we could lay down the law. Broadwood didn’t
see it that way. So Tom is trying to make a noise like a Dove of Peace.
He’s writing to the Broadwood captain, and I’ll bet he gets sat on for
his trouble.”

“That’ll be all right,” replied Tom, folding and sealing his letter.
“I’ve offered them their choice of dates for the second game and told
them we’d play the third anywhere they liked. They’ll come down and
make terms. And when they do–” Tom put the stamp on with a bang of his
fist–“we’ll lick them so hard that they won’t know whether they’re
coming or going!”

“That’s Tom’s idea of Peace!” laughed Alf.

“Well,” growled his roommate, “I’ve got to have some satisfaction for
grovelling under their feet and rubbing my head in the mud.” He tossed
the letter aside distastefully. “Say, Dan, how’s the kid getting on?”

“Yes, how is little Geraldine?” asked Alf.

“All right,” replied Dan not very enthusiastically. “I was going to
bring him along, but he hadn’t shown up when I left the room. I dare
say he’s gone over home.”

“Sound View?” asked Alf. “I thought the place was closed up.”

“It is, but some of the servants are there, and he’s got a dog he’s
awfully fond of; the one that ’most got burned.”

“I heard some of the Prep kids calling him ‘Young Money-Bags’ the other
day,” said Tom. “I’m afraid he isn’t going to be popular, Dan.”

“I don’t see why not,” answered Dan warmly. “He isn’t a snob by any
means; doesn’t even act like one. The fellows here wouldn’t think of
looking down on a chap because he had no money. Why should they look
down on him because he has?”

“Oh, I don’t think it’s exactly that,” mused Alf. “The trouble is, Dan,
that Toby and Collins and the Faculty generally are so blamed proud of
him. You’d think he was a young prince.”

“They aren’t proud of him,” answered Dan. “They’re proud of getting
him; proud of beating Broadwood.”

“Well, that’s a commendable pride,” said Alf with a yawn. “The best way
to do, as Brother Herb said the other day, is to just let him fight it
out alone. If the School finds you sticking up for him too much they’ll
take more of a grudge than ever to him.”

“Oh, I’m letting him do his own fighting right enough. So much so that
Gerald thinks I’ve gone back on him, and looks at me pathetically when
he thinks I don’t see him. Makes me feel sort of like a brute, you
know. He’s been a bit homesick, too, I guess, although he hasn’t said
anything about it.”

“Well, that’s promising,” said Alf. “Shows he isn’t a cry-baby. Does he
know anyone yet?”

“I don’t think so; except you fellows. It’ll take him time, I suppose.”

“Bring him around here whenever you want to,” said Tom. “I don’t mind
him. I know what it’s like to be homesick and out of it myself.”

“You!” exclaimed Dan.

“Sure! Don’t you think I’ve got any feelings? I went to a boarding
school for two years before I struck Yardley; one of those motherly
places where they advertise a nice home life for the kids. The first
month I was there I thought I’d die. Lonesome? Gosh, that isn’t any
word for it! I was sort of quiet and shy, I guess, and the fellows
thought I was stuck-up and left me pretty much alone except when they
picked on me.”

“Did you get over it?” asked Dan.

“Had to. I stood it until I couldn’t have stayed there any longer and
then I picked out the biggest fellow in my class and put it up to him.
‘I’ve been here a whole month,’ I told him, ‘and you fellows haven’t
spoken decently to me yet.’ (I was only thirteen and was half crying.)
‘You’ve either got to take some notice of me,’ I said, ‘or fight, and
I don’t care which it is.’ The chap looked at me in a funny sort of
way for a minute, and then he laughed and clapped me on the shoulder.
‘Fight!’ he said. ‘Why, I don’t want to fight you, kid. You’re all
right. You come along with me.’”

“Well?” Dan asked eagerly.

“Oh, I went.”

“Yes, but did he–what did he do?”

“Nothing; just walked with me across the playground. It was in the
afternoon after school and almost every fellow was there. That was all
he had to do. They gave me a chance after that and I made good.”

“If he’d accepted your invitation and licked you, though,” said Alf, “I
don’t see that it would have helped you much.”

“He wouldn’t have licked,” said Tom quietly, “not the way I was feeling
that day.”

“You, you old duffer,” scoffed his roommate, “why, you couldn’t lick a
postage stamp!”

Tom pushed his chair back, arose, and approached Alf with a broad
smile. Alf got his legs from under him and prepared for battle. Dan
removed to a safer vantage point, and the trouble began. It was a
fine “rough-house” while it lasted. The cushions were soon on the floor
and the combatants speedily followed them, bringing along a curtain
pole and two curtains. It was the pole that produced a cessation of
hostilities. In falling it came end first and Alf’s head happened to
be in the way. There was a yell, and when Tom removed himself from the
recumbent form of his chum, Alf was feeling of his head disgustedly.

[Illustration: “It was a fine ‘rough-house’ while it lasted.”]

“That fool thing always does that. I’ll bet my brain is just full of
holes.”

“Well, there’s something the matter with it,” laughed Tom.

Then they went at it again, around the study and up against the
table where the ink bottle was upset and a portion of its contents
distributed over the letter Tom had just written.

“There!” gasped Tom. “Look what you’ve done! Spoiled the stamp! And
I’ll have to address a new envelope.”

“You did it yourself, you clumsy brute,” answered Alf, rearranging
his attire. “But I’ll give you another stamp. It’s worth that much to
wallop you!”

“Huh! A lot of walloping you did!”

“I made you look like thirty cents, all right. Didn’t I, Dan?”

“I declare it a draw,” laughed Dan. “And I’m going to get out before
you do any more damage.”

“Oh, don’t go,” begged Alf. “Wait and see me lick him again. I’ve only
just begun on him.”

“Huh!” Tom grunted, seating himself at the table. “Say, Dan, wait a
second, like a good chap, and drop this in the mail for me. I’ll take
that stamp, Alf.”

“Haven’t got it just now. I’ll give you one some day, though. I always
pay my debts sooner or later.”

“I’ve got one,” Dan offered. “Toss me the letter.”

“There you are. Remind me that I owe it to you, Dan. That was the last
one I had. I can’t keep stamps. I believe Alf must eat them.”

“Well!” exclaimed Alf indignantly, “I’d just like to know who buys all
the stamps that are used in this room.”

“Not you, you old miser!”

“Tom, you must apologize for that, you really must!”

“Who to? Now, look here, sonny, if you start this again–!”

Dan made a hurried leap for the door and escaped the rush.

“Good-bye, you fellows!”

There was no answer, but as he closed the door behind him there came
the crash of an overturned chair. He paused, smiling, a little way down
the corridor and waited. From beyond the closed portal of Number 7 came
sounds resembling those of a small riot. Presently Dan walked heavily
back and rapped sharply on the door. Instantly the commotion ceased.

“Come in,” said a polite voice.

Dan opened the door. Alf, breathing heavily, was reading on the
window-seat and Tom was seated in a corner nonchalantly nursing one
knee.

“What’s all this noise I hear?” asked Dan, trying to imitate the
gruff tones of Mr. Austin, one of the instructors who roomed in the
building. There was a howl of rage from the occupants of the room and
Dan turned and fled. The joke kept him chuckling all the way around to
Oxford, where he posted Tom’s letter. Then he climbed the stairs to
his room in Clarke, threw open the door and paused on the threshold in
consternation.

In front of the washstand stood Gerald sopping his face with a
blood-stained towel. His nose was swollen and bleeding, his knuckles
were skinned and he was crying.

“Why, Gerald! What’s the matter?” cried Dan.

“N-nothing,” muttered Gerald, turning away.

“Nothing! Nothing be blowed! You’re a sight!” He drew the towel away
from the boy’s face. “Why, you’ve been fighting! Who hit you and how
did it happen? Here, let me take the towel. You sit down there and I’ll
fix you up. Who did it?”

“T-Thompson.”

“Who’s Thompson? And what did he hit you for?”

“I hit him fu-first.”

“Well, what was it about? Let’s see your hand. I should say you did hit
him! You’ll need some court plaster on those knuckles, my boy. Does
your nose hurt very much?”

“Yu-yes,” answered Gerald, struggling with his sobs.

“Well, never mind; don’t cry any more; it’ll feel better in a few
minutes.”

“I’m not cr-crying because it hurts,” sobbed Gerald, “I’m cr-crying
because he li-licked me!”

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