The Winning Touchdown/Chapter 14

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"Three cheers for the Newkirks!" commanded Bean Perkins, as he swung his gaily decorated cane, and the yells bore ardent testimony to the warm feeling felt for a defeated rival.

"Now, then, sing: 'Though We Walloped You, We Love You'!" again ordered the cheer leader, and the song welled forth.

In turn, the Newkirk players cheered for their opponents, and though there was the bitterness of defeat in their hearts, none of this betrayed itself in their yells.

The big crowd scattered from the grandstands, and, pausing only to get rid of the worst of the dirt that marked them, our three heroes were soon walking side by side with Phil's sister and her two companions.

"Oh, wasn't it great?" demanded Miss Tyler, of Phil.

"Splendid!" cried Ruth Clinton.

"You certainly rolled up a great score against them," was Miss Harrison's contribution to the trio of opinions.

"We ought to be ashamed of ourselves," declared Phil. "Newkirk isn't in our class, and we only play them to sort of open the season, and for practice. Yet they nearly scored on us."

"Oh, we didn't do so bad," was Tom's opinion.

"I think we showed up pretty well, for a team that had to be patched up after we lost two of our best players," came from Sid.

"Well, you fellows didn't play so awful," conceded the quarter-back, "but if Sam had been in much longer there'd have been a different story. Pete Backus is making out all right, and his practice in jumping does him good. But Sam——"

"Simpson helped a lot," said the end.

"Yes, better than I thought he would. He didn't get gridiron-fright because he was on the 'varsity, and his head seems to be about the same size as before, barring where he got kicked over the eye," went on Phil. "Understand, I'm not knocking the team!" he explained quickly, for he saw the girls looking at him rather oddly. "Only I know, and so does Kindlings and Lighton, that we've got to do heaps better when we play Fairview and Boxer Hall."

"Oh, our boys are going to beat you!" exclaimed Miss Tyler, with a mischievous glance at her chums.

"Yes, you have to stick up for Fairview," declared Phil, "but wait and see." He spoke confidently, yet there was an uneasy feeling in his heart, Both Boxer and Fairview had stronger teams than ever before.

The little party walked on, laughing and chatting, discussing the game at intervals. Phil had a chance to speak to his sister away from the others for a moment, and took advantage of the opportunity, to ask:

"Langridge hasn't been pestering you with any of his attentions lately, has he, Ruth?"

"Indeed he hasn't!" she exclaimed vigorously. "And if he does, Phil, I hope you won't do as you did before, and make the other girls and me ridiculous."

"I didn't mean to do that," replied the quarterback, "only I'm not going to have him mixing in with anyone I care for."

"And I presume that is intended as much for Madge as it is for me!" whispered Ruth, with a laugh at her brother's blushes, which were visible under the bronze of his tan.

"Oh, don't—" he began, and then the others came up.

"Well, what about us, fellows?" asked Tom, when the inseparables were in their room that night, rather sore and tired from the game.

"We can't pat ourselves on the back, and vote ourselves gold medals," declared Phil. "I hear that Lighten and old Kindlings are having a consultation, and there may be a shift of some of the players."

"I hope he puts me on the other end," exploded Tom. "Bascome didn't support me at all to-day."

"Now, don't get to feeling that way over it!" cautioned Phil, quickly. "That spirit makes a team go to pieces sooner than anything else."

"Oh, I'm not going to disrupt the team!" declared Tom. "I think, though——"

He stopped suddenly, and appeared to be listening. Phil sat up on the old sofa, and Sid looked questioningly toward the door.

"Someone's out in the corridor," he whispered.

"Yes," and Tom nodded. "Maybe they think we're out, and they're bringing back our chair."

"Or the clock," added Phil. Tom arose, and tiptoed toward the portal. Before he reached it, there came a cautious knock on the panel.

"Shall we answer it, or pretend we're not in?" he breathed to Sid. Then, without giving the latter time to answer, a voice called, in a hoarse whisper:

"I say, Tom, are you and the bunch in there?"

"It's Dutch!" spoke Phil, in his natural tone. "Come on in, you old scout! What's all the secret society business about, anyhow?"

Tom opened the door, and Billy Housenlager and Holly Cross stood revealed.

"Don't yell so!" cautioned Dutch. "We're going to haze that big chap—what's his name?" and he turned to Holly.

"The one from California," explained the centre rush.

"Oh, Simpson," supplied Tom. "Haze him—what for? The hazing season is over."

"Not for him," explained Dutch, with a chuckle. "You see, he arrived late, and he didn't get what was coming to him in his freshman year. So he has to take it now. Do you lads want to be in on it? If you do, don't make any noise. He's in a room nearly above you fellows, and he may suspect something and listen. Want to have some fun?"

"I don't know—do we?" and Tom turned to his companions.

They hesitated a moment, and then Phil, with a long yawn, exclaimed:

"I don't know as I care to. Too tired. You fellows can, if you like."

"Not for mine!" came quickly from Sid. "I've got some butterfly specimens to mount."

"Oh, you fellows make me tired!" declared Dutch, in accents of disgust. "Why don't you be sports? Have some fun! Come on, Tom!"

"No; if Phil and Sid are going to stay in to-night, I'll be with them. You and Holly can go ahead with the hazing. What's it going to be?"

"Oh, it isn't Holly and me alone," explained Dutch, quickly. "A lot of the lads are in on it, but I suggested you chaps, and now you back out."

"We never backed in," replied Phil. "What are you going to do to Simpson, anyhow?"

"Make him swim Sunny River," declared Dutch, with a chuckle. "That is, we're going to chuck him in, and he'll sink or swim."

"That's taking chances," remarked Tom, quickly. Somehow, he did not like the idea of hazing the Californian. They had become too friendly with him, and Tom was glad his chums had declined to have a hand in it.

"No chances at all," denied Dutch, vigorously. "We'll be ready with a boat and ropes, in case he can't swim. But I think he can."

"I didn't mean about that part of it," went on the end. "But he may take cold."

"Oh, piffle!" cried Holly Cross. "If he can't stand a little wetting he's no good. Besides, it's warm to-night. Come on, Dutch; we'll go back and tell the crowd that this bunch is doing its knitting, and can't come." His voice showed his contempt.

"Tell 'em anything you like," retorted Sid, "and maybe before you're through you'll wish you'd stayed home and learned your lessons."

"Aw, rats!" fired back Dutch, as he and his chum went down the corridor.

"Say, maybe there's more truth than poetry in what you said," commented Phil, after the door had been closed.

"In what?" asked Sid.

"About those fellows being sorry. You know, Simpson is a husky lad, and he may put up more of a fight than they give him credit for."

"By Jove!" cried Tom, suddenly. "I believe you're right, Phil. Those hazers are going to stack up against trouble, and what's the matter with us seing the fun?"

"How?" asked Sid.

"Go down to the river, and watch 'em throw Frank in."

"Sure!" cried Phil; and a little later three figures stole cautiously out, crossed the campus, and took position well concealed in the now leafless shrubbery that lined the bank of the stream.

"Here they come!" suddenly exclaimed Tom, who had constituted himself a lookout. "And they've got him, too!"

"How can you tell?" demanded Phil.

"He's the biggest fellow in the bunch."

"I didn't think he'd let them take him out of his room," said Sid. "Maybe he's in a blue funk."

"You don't know him," declared Tom, quietly. "If I'm not mistaken, there'll be some fun soon."

"Keep quiet, or they'll have the laugh on us if they see us," cautioned Phil.

The hazers and their victim came nearer, and the voice of Dutch Housenlager could be heard declaiming in triumph:

"Now, then, fellows, we'll initiate Mr. Simpson into the mysteries of the Mermaid Society. I believe you never were a member of that, were you, Mr. Simpson?" he asked, mockingly.

"Never, and I don't want to join now," came from the big Californian, who seemed strangely gentle in the hands of his captors.

"Oh, but you must, you know," explained Holly Cross.

"Sure," asserted Bascome. "You ought to have joined as a Freshman, but it's not too late. Is the water nice and warm, Dutch?"

"Yes; I had it heated to seventy-two degrees this afternoon," replied the fun-loving Housenlager.

"What! You're not going to put me in the river to-night, are you?" demanded Simpson, in almost tragic tones.

"That's our intention," mocked Dutch.

"But I may catch cold. You oughn't to do a thing like this, boys," pleaded Frank.

"Oh, listen to him!" mocked Bascome. "Let's take him back to his mama!" and he imitated the crying of a baby.

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The Winning Touchdown
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"Oh, but, fellows, just consider," begged the intended victim. "I—I may be drowned," and his teeth seemed to chatter. "Please—please let me go!"

"Oh, yes—with bells on!" cried Holly, with a laugh.

"Say, I thought you said he'd make mincemeat of 'em?" whispered Phil. "Why, he's a coward!"

"Maybe," admitted Tom, somewhat puzzled. "I didn't think he'd beg off like this."

"Pshaw! It's going to be a fizzle," declared Sid.

"Now, then, all ready?" asked Dutch of his chums. "Get good holds, Holly and Bascome, and pitch him in."

"Oh, let me go! Please let me go!" begged Simpson.

"Aw, cut it out! Be a sport!" urged Dutch. "It won't hurt you, and if you can't swim, we'll pull you out. You've got to take your medicine, and you might as well make up your mind to it. In with him now, fellows!"

"Let her go!" cried Holly.

"No! Don't! Stop!" cried the Californian, and his voice broke. "Please let me go—consider, fellows—you may regret this!"

"Regret nothing!" cried Dutch. "In with him!"

There was a struggle on the bank of the river, a series of surprised grunts and exclamations. Then a dark body went sailing through the air, and fell with a splash into the stream, while the shout that followed ended in a gurgle.

"There he goes!" cried Phil. "He's in!"

Another dark body shot from the bank into the water.

"Why—why!" gasped Sid. "They're hazing two! Who's the other lad, I wonder?"

The second body made a great splash. Then, before it came to the surface, a third form hurtled through the air and made a great noise in Sunny River.

"Julius Cæsar's grandmother's cat's kittens!" yelled Tom, careless of who heard him. "Simpson isn't in the water at all, fellows! Look! look! There he is! He's throwing the others in! He's throwing 'em all in!"

Phil and Sid stood beside their chum, and gazed on the scene, which was now partly illuminated by a half moon. They saw the big Californian standing in the midst of his would-be hazers, knocking them down right and left as they rushed at him, and then, as the hidden ones watched, they saw the new student grasp Holly Cross around the waist, and, by a wrestler's trick, toss him over his back, and into the stream, where three forms were now swimming toward shore—three wet, miserable forms—three very much surprised lads—and Holly Cross joining them by the most direct route—by an air line, so to speak.

Into the water Holly fell with a splash, and after him went Dutch. Then, seeing their two ringleaders thus summarily disposed of, the other hazers ceased their attack on Simpson.

He stood in the midst of the throng, many of whom were just arising from some terrific left-handers.

"I told you that you might be sorry," came in calm tones from the Californian.

"For the love of mustard, who are you, anyhow?" demanded Bascome, as he crawled dripping and shivering up on the bank. "Are you a champion strong man, or an elephant trainer?"

"Oh I spent one vacation traveling with a circus, and learned to do some throwing tricks," modestly explained Simpson. "And now, gentlemen, I'll bid you good-evening," and before the crowd could stop him, had they been so disposed, he walked away.

That's how Frank Simpson was hazed. Ask any old Randall graduates to tell you about it, and hear what they say.