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was Tom's cheerful response. “How's this?” And he read the note he had written.
and rested. We had a big job ahead of us, to carry out the scheme I had formed. Both Tom and Donaldson had fallen in with this scheme immediately, and had even clapped me on the back in enthusiastic approval of it.
I slept the greater part of the three days that Donaldson was away, so that I was feeling in first-class fettle when he quietly stepped into my room on the evening of the third day, and closed the door softly behind him.
"Everything is all ready," he announced. “The game is up to you."
I seized his hand and shook it joyously.
“Good for you," I cried. “I was afraid they wouldn't come. Now we are safe to go ahead.”
“As soon as you will,” was the Don's reply, as he threw himself into a chair. “And
My Dear Griggs—I invite you to be my guest at the finish-you alone. Meet me at Redding Sunday evening. The jig is all up with you, so come and be sociable, like a good fellow.
We'll make it as easy on your account as we can.
Instantly we were loudly entering our protests against such rashness, but Tom scoffed at all our reasons, and said that Griggs was a fellow to be trusted when placed on his honor. We finally compromised by agreeing that the carrier pigeon should not be freed until Saturday morning. Then I shook hands with my two companions
“Well, in that case Driscol told me to tell you to turn loose this last carrier."
the sooner the better. I am anxious to come amid many expressions of hope for the suc“You should have heard them when I told cess of our undertaking, and manifold cauthem. They were for coming right up in a tions concerning the particular duties which body and mixing things, until I had to assert each of us was bound to execute by Monday, my authority and tell them how to come- and then quietly left the room and the house. two and three at a time and incog. Oh, My long plodding up the mountain was 'inthey're on—and Monday you'll see them- eventful,, except when I passed Dalton if you're still alive."
which I did early Saturday foreoon. I had Just then Tom came in.
been taking a nap, after tramping three"Monday,” he repeated. “Is it all fixed ? fourths of the way by night; and the sun was Hooray! Well, when are you going to get well risen when I struck the trail again. away, Mack?”
Ten miles from the camp I was arrested by “Within an hour," I replied.
the hoof-beats of galloping horses, and bare"Good! Now, I'll send my little message, ly had time to dodge behind a tree when if you don't mind."
Dalton came into view. He was riding one He sat down and scribbled off a few lines horse and leading another—which set me to on a piece of paper, then went to a shelf in thinking for a moment and the near look
corner of the room and took down a I got of his face pretty well assured me that wooden box from which he extracted the car- he was easy in mind, and that all was going rier pigeon I had been presented with.
well at the camp, so far as he knew. A mo“What are you up to now?” demanded ment later he was gone, and I was left to Donaldson.
pursue my journey to its end without hin. “Sending a word to my friend Griggs,"drance.
The tents were all deserted when I reached them, save for a couple of Chinese, whom I could see were servants; so I pushed on through the camp to the farther side, where a curious sight met my eyes.
It would not have been curious on Buckeley or a Hanford campus, being nothing more than a football game under full steam; but it struck me with a queer kind of feeling to see those uniformed collegians scrimmaging in dirty red and white heaps out there on a level field in these remote mountains, especially when I reflected about the forty miles which stretched and rolled and glimmered between here and civilization.
Suddenly the game stopped with a jerk. I had been seen! A chorus of exclamations, dwindling into murmurs and hushed whispers, followed. Then some of the pla: ers and two or three fellows without uniforms left the bunch and came toward me.
Ahead of all the rest was a short, stumpy sort of chap in ordinary clothes-quite summery, however, for the weather was warmwhom I instantly picked out for Driscol, owing to an air of authority he wore.
"Hello, you!” he said in a tone mixed equally of alarm and hostility. "What do you want?”
“Who?-me?" I asked with a drawl.
Driscol's expression relaxed, and I could see it was as much on account of my tone as my words. I was easily accepted for the ignoramus I wished them to think me. Many of the fellows behind Driscol began to smile and some to make joking remarks to one another which I could not hear, but which seemed to give them some amusement. They looked at Driscol's back, then at one another again, and assumed mock expressions of fear that were intended to depict Driscol's condition of mind at my appearance—from which I inferred they were not half so concerned as he was, and would rather enjoy his discomfiture if it did not wholly interfere with their own ultimate part in the game.
They reminded me of certain employees I had seen who worked for their employer simply for the money they got from him, but who otherwise would have relished seeing him fail or meet with misfortune of any kind.
“How'd you get up here?" was the next
question to snap out at me.
“Me? Oh, I walked.”
"I don't mean that—what caused you to come, and who showed you the way?”
“Who? Oh, I came by myself. But the other day I was up here with another feller, an’ we thought maybe, so long as you fellers was up here to practice foot-ball, as we judged by the looks o' things, perhaps you'd like to have another club come up an' play agin yer. So me an' some other fellers in Redding, being interested in football ourselves, thought we'd fetch a club of our'n up to-morrer an' go yer a rattle just fer the fun of it. That's what I come ter tell yer."
There was another hum of murmurs, and from being amused the players behind Driscol became distinctly surprised, and showed it in their faces. Driscol himself stared at me speechless for a space long enough for me to count the men in uniform-twentytwo exactly. All the Easterners were there, sure enough, and a redoubtable lot of players they looked.
Driscol finally cleared his throat.
"Do you mean to say, you idiot,that you're going to bring a foot-ball team up here tomorrow?” he demanded, indignantly.
"To-morrer,” I repeated affably, "Yep. Couldn't get 'em here any sooner. Anyhow we couldn't play on Sunday, and I didn't get a chanst to tell the boys about you folks bein' up here practicin' until only a couple o' days or so ago. But they'll get here tomorrer all right, O. K., without fail, sure pop. Don't you worry."
"Worry!" echoed Driscol, in a tone of despair. “I should think I would. What in the nation do you mean by poking your nose up here without an invitation? We don't want to play ball with you or your gang. We have not the time to waste on you. Just take yourself off now and don't let those other chumps come up here if you know what's good for yourself or for them.”
"Them? Oh, they're comin'. I couldn't stop 'em now. They're crazy ter come; they haven't had a real lively game fer a long spell, an' this is a chanst they couldn't miss fer a farm. Still, I'll tell 'em what you say when they'—
I stopped for the other boys were crowding round Driscol and talking to him in low, earnest voices, every now and again glancing at me and then emphasizing their words with gestures. Finally their counsel, if it was such, must have prevailed, for Driscol's brow cleared a little and he came toward me in a more friendly spirit. They evidently had impressed him with the folly of exciting my suspicions and convinced him that th best way out of the situation was to let the game take place as I proposed, and rely upon my honor to keep their hiding place a secret il they should choose to make that a condition of the contest.
This, it soon turned out, was exactly what they had advised. Driscol came up to me and held out his hand, saying: "Perhaps I was too hasty. We did not wish to be bothered—that was all. Of course if your fellows want to play us a little friendly game we shall do them the common courtesy of meeting them half way. The only thing we shall require of them will be that they pay a certain penalty if we defeat them.”
“It is agreed, just as you have proposed. If you beat us we'll all go home-and we jolly ought to!"
So the match was arranged. I could see they were coming more and more to regard it as a huge lark for them, and this just suited me. I heard some of them remarking derisively how they would "make monkeys" out of the "clod-hoppers," and slapping their knees and shaking their heads over the absurdity of the contest as they walked off in little bunches together.
I borrowed a dozen nose-masks and sets of ear-guards and took my departure, slipping off down the mountain for ten miles or so to await the coming of my country ballkickers. I made my camp for the night and went to sleep eagerly thirsting for the morrow.
Along about noon the next day I sauntered
"Penalty? O, I reckon that'll be agreeable. What'll the penalty be?”
“An easy one-simply that no one in the crowd shall say a word to anybody about the game or about us after it is over."
"A word ? O, they won't-not a wordif you beat 'em. But how about the penalty if they beat youze fellers ?”
There was a loud laugh from the whole crowd.
“O, you can name it yourself,” cried one of them—"anything from being stewed in oil to kicking the sun off yonder mountain-top. Sail in, old Overalls, and think up a good one."
"Well,” I drawled, deliberately, “I'll tell you one, an' it's this:-Ef we beats you, every one of you is to go home next day!”
An exchange of glances shot back and forth among them. Driscol frowned again, but recovered himself, for almost instantly he smiled, as did the others, and said:
into the football camp. The collegians were lined up waiting for the rustic eleven to appear. They wore expectant grins, which they tried to smooth into polite smiles of welcome, as I came in sight.
"Hain't my fellers come yet?" I asked.
“Not yet,” said Driscol good-naturedly. "Are you sure they will not disappoint you?"
“Them? O, they won't disappoint me; narry one of 'em. Ah! There's a 'ouple o' the boys now."
Two big fellows in soiled overalls and denim blouses came faltering awkwardly out of the woods, and paused, hesitating. They wore nose-masks and ear-guards, which with their costumes and big slouch hats gave them a most grotesque and clownish appearance.
I introduced them to Driscol, and they mumbled something confusedly and hastened to draw away into the shelter of the trees again. Presently they were joined by
a third, then a fourth, a fifth, and bye and bye two more. They kept stealing up silently like shadows until they were all there. Evidently they could overhear the sniggering which some of the collegians out on the gridiron could ont restrain, for they kept huddled together, like embarrassed strangers at a party, until I walked over and called to them to come and practice for the game.
Then they ambled out upon the gridiron and one of them threw a big round rubber ball on the ground. Instantly a shout went up from the collegiaus.
“What's that?” cried dozen jee voices.
"That? O, that's a foot-ball," I replied sharply. "What did you think it was-a train of cars?"
"Foot-ball?" they answered with another shout. “O, come off!”
"Where'd you get it?"
One of them threw a modern pig-skin oval on the gridiron and it rolled crookedly out among my awkward squad. The latter picked it up and they all crowded round it looked at it wonderingly, then one of them picked it u and they all crowded round it drawlingly and stretching their thick necks with curiosity.
“Do we have to play with that thing?" the nearest one to me demanded, in a kind of growl, as if they would refuse to do so if I but said the word, and as though he expected me to say it. But I nodded my head to conciliate them and told him they might as well do it to keep the peace.
"That's one of the new-fangled hind which they play with in the colleges," I explained. “Go ahead and see what you can do with it."
They could not do much. They rolled around on it, kicked at it and missed, tried to throw it, but invariably it slipped in a contrary direction, and tried to catch it, but never by any chance managed to cling onto the illusive thing if ever they succeeded in correctly judging its flight, which was seldom. A sorrier attempt to play real foot-ball I could not have thought possible. I must have indicated something of this in my countenance, for presently I became aware that
Driscol was at my elbow with offers of commiseration.
"Perhaps they haven't played for a good while," he was saying. "Are you sure they know the rules?—the late ones, I mean."
"Rules?" I replied. "O, yes, they know 'em well enough. It's the ball that bothers 'em. But they'll soon ketch onto it."
"They don't seem to be able to place itI haven't seen one of them catch it or kick it yet.”
“Wait till yeh do!” was my rejoinder; and even as I spoke, by some chance one of the big feet did meet the oval fair on the point, and the way it shot like a meteor across the gridiron was a spectacle to see. Full sixty yards it went, low and straight and swift, almost hugging the ground, yet just out of reach of the intervening hands, until it landed squarely under the arm of the furthermost giant.
Well, such a rumble of astonishment as shook the throats of these collegians! Their mouths stayed wide open after the exclamations had burst from them, and their eyes stuck out almost like knobs.
"That was better," muttered Driscol at my side. "If they could only do that once in a while in the game it would be less of a farce than it's going to be. But when even you are surprised at it, as any one can see by your face, there's no use hoping it was anything more than an accident. But come on," he finished resignedly, “it's time they were getting through with it."
CHAPTER VI. The Game in the Mountains. The collegians had already done their practicing, so there was nothing to do now but call game.
At that moment the bark of a spuirrel sounded in the trees behind me and while the captains of the teams were tossing for position I sauntered to the edge of the woods. Standing in the shade, not ten feet away,
Tom and—Wilfred Griggs!
“Don't you want an umpire?" said Tom, in a low voice.
“Who?" I demanded somewhat icily. I shuddered at his rashness.
"Griggs," he replied, coolly. “O, don't be a tragedian, Mack. Griggs is tied hand and foot. Of course he'd like nothing better than to rush out there and queer the whole works -he's fairly burning up to do it-and to knock me down into the bargain—but he
won't. Not he. Will you, old man ?"
Griggs gazed at him with a strange mixture of admiration for his nerve and despair for his own helplessness in his honest countenance; and I really felt sorry for him.
“There was nothing to do but give my promise, of course," he said. "I suppose your friend MacDermot knows that that was a condition of my coming. And I wanted to come even-even—to see the thing fail.”
His voice faltered a little and he turned his head to look at a bird that sang in a near-by tree; and I felt sorrier for him than ever.
He was a splendid chap all around.
“And so he's come," said Tom cheerily, laying his hand on Grigg's shoulder in a most friendly way, "at my invitation. We're going to see the game—and the afterward. It'll soon be over, old chap"—to Griggs,
But come, here's for my idea as to umpiring the game. What do you say,Mack, to letting Griggs go into the camp alone, as though he'd just arrived by himself in response to that last message? Then they can choose him for umpire. I'd rather trust him than any of the rest of them."
I frowned at the sugestion, but Griggs was watching me with a smile of cold irony, as if to say of course I would object, despite my profession of faith in him awhile ago; so immediately I answered the smile with one of my own to signify indifference.
"Why, certainly," I said, turning to leave them. “If you are satisfied I am."
"Thank you," said Griggs, simply. He turned and shook Tom's hand, then walked quickly out from under the trees, bowing to me as he passed. I did not see him again until ten minutes later, when he marched
who managed to smile back at him—"and then you and I will be chums and go off shooting together for the rest of our vacation. By hooky! I'll tell you what we will do: the four of us will go up to Don's ranch and have the biggest time on record. Football is everything."
"It is just now," said Griggs. “But you are good fellows, and have treated me better than I could have expected, and are treating all of us better than we deserve."
"It was a shabby trick, wasn't it, now ?” said Tom.
“It was,” confessed Griggs.
"But not of your inventng, I'll be bound," Tom continued.
"I was deeper in it than most," was the reply.
"Well," said Tom thoughtfully, “that shows what this college rivalry business will do if you give it room. I shouldn't wonder if it wouldn't spoil me if it got a chance.
upon the field between the two teams and blew a whistle for the game to begin.
It began in the only way possible for so unequal a contest: the trim-limbed collegians got the ball on the first tackle, throwing one of my clumsy giants in overalls so hard that the pigskin bounced ten yards out of his hands. It was seized by an opponent in full flight and whisked down the field in a sinuous flash, weaving in and out among my mountaineers like a tape flying alternately through a row of needles. Four or five of my team rolled on their backs in the wake of the runner; the rest made lumbering grabs at him as he shot by them and fell forward on their hands and knees as they missed him. That is, all but one of them did. By some lucky stroke our right-guard had anticipated such a disaster and was now directly in the path of the runner, where he had no business to be at all if he had played his position properly. The full-back should