Baseball Joe on the School Nine/Chapter 16

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"The meeting will come to order!"

Teeter was in the chair, looking over a talking, shifting, excited crowd of lads gathered in the school gymnasium. He had assumed the office, and no one had disputed him.

"The meeting will come to order!" he cried again.

"Order! Order!" begged George Bland and Peaches. "We can't do anything like this."

"What are we going to do?" asked Tommy Barton.

"Try and fix things so we can win ball games," answered Tom Davis.

Joe did not say much. He realized that this was, in a measure, a meeting to aid him, and he felt it would be best to keep quiet. His friends were looking out for his interests.

"Order! Order!" begged Teeter again, and after many repetitions, and bangings of his gavel, he succeeded in producing some semblance of quietness.

"You all know what we're here for," went on Teeter.

"No, we don't; tell us!" shouted some one.

"We're here in the first place to make a protest against the way Hiram Shell and Luke Fodick managed the baseball team to-day," went on Teeter, "and then we'll consider what can be done to make things better. We ought to have won against Morningside to-day, and——"

"That's the stuff!"

"That's the way to talk!"

"Hit 'em again!"

These were a few of the cries that greeted Teeter's announcement. He was very much in earnest.

"This isn't a regular session of the athletic committee at all," he resumed. "It's a protest meeting, and it's going to be sort of free and easy. Any fellow that wants to can speak his mind. I take it you all agree with me that we ought to do something."

"That's right!" came in a chorus.

"And we ought to protest against Hiram's high-handed method. What about that?"

"That's right, too," responded several. Joe looked over the crowd. As far as he could see it was composed in the main of lads who were only probationary members of the school society—lads without voting power.

Neither Hiram nor Luke was present, and Joe could not see any of their particular crowd. He was mistaken in thinking that Hiram had no friends there, however, for no sooner had Teeter asked the last question than Jake Weston arose and asked in rather sneering tones:

"Do you call this giving a fellow a square deal?"

"What do you mean?" inquired Teeter. The room was quiet enough now.

"I mean just this," went on the lad who was perhaps the closest of all on the nine to Hiram save Luke. "I mean that Hiram Shell isn't here to defend himself, and you're saying all sorts of mean things against him."

"We intend to have him here—if he'll come," spoke Teeter significantly. "Luke, too. We want them to hear what we say about them."

"You're trying to disrupt the team!" yelled Jake, who had lost his temper.

"I am not! I'm trying to do anything to better the team. We ought to have won that game to-day, and you know it."

"I know that I played my best!" shouted Jake, "and if you accuse me of—"

"Nobody's accusing you," put in Peaches.

Several lads were on their feet, all seeking to be heard. Teeter was vainly rapping with his gavel. It looked for a few moments as if there would be several fights, for lads were shaking their fists in each other's faces.

"Why don't you give Hiram a show?" demanded Jake. "Let him know this meeting is being held.

"I sent word to him, but he didn't come," called Teeter, above the din.

"Well, he's here now!" interrupted a sudden voice, and Hiram Shell fairly jumped into the room, followed by Luke and a score of their particular friends. "I just heard of this snap session, and I want to know what it's about. How dare you fellows hold a meeting of the athletic committee when I didn't call it?"

"Say, you drop that kind of talk!" fairly yelled Teeter. "This isn't a meeting of the athletic committee!"

"Come on down off that platfrom!" demanded the bully striding toward the chairman pro tem. "What right have you got there?"

"Just as much right as you have, and I'm going to stick! This is just a meeting of the fellows of Excelsior Hall, and I've got just as much right to preside as you have."

Perhaps it was the gavel which Teeter clenched in his hand, perhaps it was the fearless manner in which he faced Hiram, or perhaps it was the way in which Joe, Tom, Peaches and several of the larger students crowded up around Teeter, like a bodyguard, that caused Hiram to pause in his progress toward the chairman.

Whatever it was, it proved effective and probably prevented a serious clash, for Hiram was in the mood to have struck Teeter, who surely would have retaliated.

"Well, what's it all about?" asked the bully, after a pause. "What do you fellows want, anyhow?"

"We want the ball team managed differently," retorted Teeter.

"That's right!" came from a score of ringing voices.

Hiram turned a bit pale. It was the first time he had ever witnessed an organized revolt against his authority.

"Aren't you fellows satisfied with the way I manage things?" the bully sneered.

"No, and not with the way Luke Fodick captains the team," went on the now fully aroused Teeter. "There's got to be a change."

"Aw, you're sore because some of your friends can't play!" cut in Jake Weston.

"Not at all," spoke Teeter. "Everyone knows we should have won to-day, and what a miserable exhibition of baseball we gave! It was rotten, and we want to protest. We're willing to let you continue as manager, Hiram, and have Luke for captain, only we fellows want to have more of a say in how the team is run."

"Why, you fellows haven't any rights!" cried Hiram. "A lot of you are only probationary members, anyhow, and can't vote."

"They don't need to vote," declared Teeter. "It isn't a question of voting. We're students at Excelsior—all of us—and we have a right to say what we think. We think things ought to be done differently."

"That's right—we're with him," was shouted in such a volume of energy that it clearly showed to Hiram that, even though he held the balance of power in the committee proper, yet he did not in the whole school, and it was to the whole school that the team would have to look for support. It was a crisis in the affairs of Excelsior Hall.