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    Chapter 18

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    Chapter 19
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    SLUGGER BROWN IS EXPOSED

    To be thrown down so violently was bad enough, but to be spiked in the leg hurt so much that Jack could not repress a gasp of pain.

    "Get off of me, Brown!" he panted when he could speak. "What do you mean by spiking me that way?"

    "Didn't spike you!" retorted Slugger Brown, scowling viciously.

    The whistle blew and Gif came running towards the pair. "What's the matter?" he demanded.

    "Brown tackled me unfairly and then spiked me," answered Jack.

    "It's false!" roared the accused one. "I threw him down according to the rules and I didn't spike him at all!"

    The pain in Jack's leg was so intense that he could hardly stand. Fred and some others came rushing to his assistance, and between them he managed to hobble to a bench at the side of the football field. A crowd began to collect, and all wanted to know what had gone wrong.

    "Let us take a look at your leg, Rover," said Mr. Crews. "That will show whether you were spiked or not." The limb was exposed, and then a cry of dismay went up.

    "Why, look there--it's all bloody! Slugger Brown must have spiked him for keeps!"

    "That's a shame--if he did it on purpose. He has no right to have spikes in his shoes."

    "I didn't do it on purpose! It was an accident!" cried the accused player. "I didn't know I had spiked him or that I had spikes. Maybe he cut himself on a stone or something like that."

    "No; he has been spiked," announced the gymnasium instructor, after examining the wound. "Come, Rover; we'll go to the gymnasium and I'll attend to that and bind it up for you."

    "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Brown, for doing such a thing to my cousin," said Fred.

    "That's right!" broke in Randy, who had come up.

    "You stop your talking!" answered Slugger Brown, uneasily. "It was an accident, I tell you. Anybody on the team might have done it."

    Colonel Colby had been on the other side of the field, but now he came hurrying forward to see what was amiss. He told Mr. Crews to do everything that was necessary for Jack, and then turned to Gif.

    "I think it would be as well for you to retire Brown for the present," he said in a low voice.

    "Just what I was going to do," answered the football captain quickly. "We'll have to investigate this matter after the game is over."

    "I don't see why I should be put off the team!" cried Slugger Brown, when notified that a substitute would take his place. "It was an accident and nothing else."

    "We'll see about that later, Brown," answered Gif briefly. "Anyway, you had no right to have spikes on your shoes."

    With one substitute in place of Brown and another playing Jack's position, the game went on and came to a finish in favor of the regular team by a score of 22 to 16.

    "Not such a very good showing for the regulars," was Gif's comment.

    "Maybe, if Jack had been in shape to play, we might have beaten you," remarked Fred, grimly.

    "Oh, I'm not willing to admit that," answered the football captain. "Just the same, some of you fellows on the scrub did very well, indeed. I'm going to continue to keep my eyes on all of you."

    Down in the gymnasium the wound inflicted by the spikes in Slugger Brown's shoe had been carefully washed and dressed by Mr. Crews and then bandaged.

    "I don't think you'll have any great trouble from it, Rover," remarked the gymnasium instructor. "But, just the same, you had better favor that leg for a few days."

    "Then you wouldn't advise me to play football?" questioned Jack in dismay.

    "Not for the next few days. After that I think you'll be all right."

    As soon as the game was over, Gif, aided by Mr. Crews, began an investigation, closely questioning all of the players and those looking on who had seen the encounter between Brown and Jack. Of course, there were various versions of the affair, but the consensus of opinions seemed to be that the tackle had been an unfair one and that Brown could have avoided spiking Jack had he been more careful. It was likewise considered unfair to use spiked shoes even in a practice game.

    "I guess he did it just to be nasty," said Gif to Mr. Crews. "You see, he and Nappy Martell and that crowd are all down on the Rovers."

    "I know nothing about the quarrels between the cadets," was Mr. Crews' reply. "But I do know that spiking anyone on purpose cannot be permitted in this institution. I recommend, Garrison, that Brown be suspended from the team."

    This was going a little further than Gif had anticipated. He knew that Brown was a fairly good player, carrying considerable weight, and that the cadet's heart would be almost broken if he was taken out of the games entirely.

    "Don't you think, Mr. Crews, it would be going far enough if I put him on the bench with the substitutes?" he pleaded. "To be thrown out of the team entirely is a terrible blow for any one."

    "But we expect our cadets to act like young gentlemen and not like brutes, Garrison," returned the gymnastic instructor warmly. "However, if you wish to place Brown among the substitutes, I will not oppose you. His weight might help you to win some game if it was running very close and some of your best players dropped out." And so it was arranged.

    Slugger Brown had been very anxious to know what the outcome of the matter would be. He was far from appeased when he received the notification that, while he would be retained on the regular team, it would be only as a substitute.

    "A substitute, eh?" he said sarcastically to Gif. "So that is the way you are going to punish me for something that couldn't be helped."

    "Mr. Crews and I went into the details of the affair, Brown," answered the football captain. "Mr. Crews wanted to put you off the team entirely. It was only through my efforts that you are to remain as a substitute."

    "I've been the mainstay of our football eleven ever since it was organized!" stormed Slugger Brown. "I helped to win every victory that came our way."

    "I'm not denying that you play well. But, just the same, if you'll remember, you've been warned of your brutal attacks before. In that game with Hixley High last Fall, the left tackle said, if you will remember, that you ought to be handed over to the police. Now Mr. Crews says--and I agree with him--that we've got to play in a clean-cut fashion, free from all needless brutality."

    "Bah! I won't listen to you," howled Slugger Brown. "You're in with those Rovers, and that whole crowd is down on me just because I am chummy with Nappy Martell. I won't stand for it! If I can't play on the regular team, I won't play at all!"

    "Very well then, you can suit yourself about that," answered Gif; and to avoid further argument he walked away, leaving the big youth in anything but a pleasant frame of mind.

    The interview had taken place in the gymnasium, and presently Slugger Brown was joined by Nappy Martell and three or four other cronies, including Codfish.

    "It's an outrage!" was Martell's comment, when Slugger had told of what had occurred. "I wouldn't stand for it! No wonder you told him you wouldn't play on the eleven any more."

    "A team that has got a captain like that doesn't deserve to win," was the comment of one of the other cadets.

    "Say, Slugger, why don't you get to work and see if you can't boost Gif Garrison out of his place? He has no more right to be captain of the eleven than you have."

    "Easy enough to say," growled Brown. "But Garrison has too many of the fellows under his thumb. Oh, I don't care--they can go to grass with their old football games!" And then Slugger Brown stalked off by himself to nurse his wrath as best he could. He was very bitter against Jack.

    "It's all that Rover boy's fault," he muttered to himself. "I don't wonder Nappy is down on that crowd."

    The recent cold snap had given way to weather that was quite balmy; and, being unable to put in his off time in football practice, Jack remembered what he had said to Ruth Stevenson about a row on the river. He consulted with Fred, and then the pair managed to get a message to both Ruth and May Powell; and in return received word that the two girls would be pleased to go out the following afternoon about four o'clock.

    "Gee! you fellows will have a dandy time," remarked Randy, when he heard of this. "Why didn't you let us know?"

    "Four in one of those rowboats is about enough," answered Jack. "But if you and Andy want to go out, why don't you get another boat and send word to a couple of the other girls?"

    "All right! Let's do it," answered Andy, quickly; and the upshot of the matter was that they telephoned over to Clearwater Hall and made an arrangement with Alice Strobell and Annie Larkins.

    "It's a shame we can't ask Jennie Mason, too," said Randy, who remembered the fifth girl who had been in the crowd at the moving picture theater.

    "You won't have to worry about Jennie," answered Alice Strobell, over the telephone. "She has a date with somebody else."

    The Rover boys had already arranged about the boats, and promptly on time they set off down the river in the direction of the lake. They had to row past the several docks of the town, and then drew up at a small wharf, leading up to the Clearwater Hall grounds.

    When the girls appeared, they were accompanied by one of the teachers, who had been sent down, evidently, for the purpose of looking the cadets over.

    "Now remember, do not stay out any later than six o'clock," said the teacher, as the girls were entering the two rowboats, assisted by the boys.

    "Oh, we'll have to come back a little before that time," answered Jack. "You see, we are due at Colby Hall at that hour."

    "Very well then," said the teacher. "I trust you all have a pleasant time," and she smiled.

    "Oh, we'll have a good time--don't worry," sang out Andy, gaily.

    "To be sure we will," echoed May Powell.

    And then, with the girls safely seated in the two rowboats, the boys took up the oars, and the little outing on Clearwater Lake was begun.
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