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    Chapter 22

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    Chapter 23
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    THE MEETING WITH HIXLEY HIGH

    Football talk now filled the air at Colby Hall, and for the time being most of the cadets forgot about how the Rovers had been treated on the lake by Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown.

    Nappy was particularly angry, because of the way he had been treated by Jennie Mason, on whom he had been sweet ever since they had become acquainted. Slugger, too, was hurt over what the girls had said about his meanness. But he was far more put out over the fact that he could act only as a substitute on the regular eleven, and that Gif Garrison had finally concluded to put Jack in his place. Fred had not won out for the first eleven, but Gif had told him he stood so high on the scrub that he might possibly make the team before the season came to an end.

    "It's all those Rovers' fault," growled Slugger Brown to Martell.

    "Of course it is!" was the unreasonable reply. "I'll tell you, Slug, we ought to do something to get square with those chaps."

    "If I break loose and do that, it'll be something they'll remember as long as they live!" declared Slugger Brown, vehemently.

    Nappy Martell looked at his crony knowingly, and then glanced around to see if anybody was listening.

    "Let's do it right now, Slug," he said in a low voice. "I don't care what it is, so long as we can get the best of those Rovers."

    "We'll think it over, Nap. This isn't to be any one-cent, every-day affair, you know."

    "Right you are! I'm game for anything--just remember that!" added the other cadet.

    As Gif Garrison had said, there were three football games scheduled for Colby Hall that Fall. The first of these was to be with Hixley High School, located in a town at the other end of the lake. Then would follow a game of more importance with the Clearwater Country Club, at their beautiful grounds on the outskirts of Haven Point. And then the last and most important game of all--that with Columbus Academy, located about ten miles away. Whether the last named game would be played at Colby Hall or at the Columbus Academy grounds, was still a question.

    In a few days Jack recovered completely from the spiking he had received from Slugger Brown, and then he went at his football practice with greater vigor than ever. He took Slugger's place on the regular eleven, as already mentioned, and in his first game they beat the scrub team by a score of 32 to 12.

    "Now, that's better!" declared Gif. "You didn't let the scrub walk all over you."

    Fred had been on the scrub team, and, although that eleven had been defeated, he was in a rather happy frame of mind, for the reason that out of the twelve points scored he had been directly responsible for six points.

    "I think Fred is going some," remarked Jack to Gif, later on when he had a chance to speak to the football captain privately.

    "You're right, Jack," was the answer. "And I've got my eye on him."

    The game with Hixley High was not a very important one, yet it was made the occasion for quite a gala day by not only the boys of both schools but likewise the girls attending the high school and also the young ladies of Clearwater Hall. The Rover boys and some of their chums invited Ruth and her several friends, including Jennie Mason and Ida Brierley, to be present, and this invitation was gladly accepted.

    "I don't wonder that Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell look so glum occasionally," remarked Spouter to Jack the day after the invitations had been given and accepted. "I just had a talk with my cousin May, and she says Jennie Mason and Ida Brierley are through with those two cadets. They told Nappy and Slugger they thought they were nothing but cowards for the way they treated you Rovers on the lake."

    "Well, I'm glad they've given up going with that pair," announced Jack.

    The last game with Hixley High had been played on the grounds of that institution, so that the game this year was to take place at Colby Hall.

    "You fellows will have the honor of bringing the girls over from Clearwater Hall," remarked Jack to his cousins and his chums. "I'll have to stay here and do a bit of practising."

    The auto-stage and a number of automobiles and carriages had been requisitioned, and also a number of motor boats on the lake, and in these the young folks from Hixley High School and from Clearwater Hall journeyed to Colby Hall.

    Jack was on the lookout for Ruth and the others, and lost no time in greeting the girl as soon as she appeared.

    "I'm so glad that you're on hand to encourage us to win," said he, as he took Ruth's hand.

    "Thank you. But how are you sure I am here to encourage you?" she questioned mischievously. "Maybe I'm going to root for Hixley High."

    "You dare!" he returned earnestly, and then they both laughed and hurried towards the grandstand, where seats had been reserved for the entire party.

    "Whoop her up for Hixley High!" was the cry. And then those in favor of the high school took up the slogan:

    "Do or die! Hixley High! Hixley High!"

    "They mean to win if yelling will do it," was May Powell's comment.

    "Oh, I guess the cadets of Colby Hall can yell, too," responded Fred. And he was right, for a moment later there boomed out this refrain:

    "Who are we? Can't you see? Colby Hall! Dum! Dum! Dum, dum, dum! Here we come with fife and drum! Colby! Colby! Colby Hall!"

    And this the cadets repeated over and over again until they were hoarse.

    "Well, I've got to go now," said Jack, reluctantly, as word came for the team to gather in the dressing room for final instructions.

    "Good-bye then," said Ruth, sweetly. And then, looking Jack full in the eyes, she added earnestly: "Oh, I do hope you'll win!"

    They were simple words, but the way in which they were spoken, and the look that accompanied them, thrilled the youth to the heart, and he went down to the dressing room on feet that seemed to be walking on air.

    "Now then, boys, I expect every one of you to do his level best," said Gif. "Hixley High has been bragging everywhere that it has a superior team this year and is going to walk all over us. I want you to play with vigor from the very start;" and then followed a number of directions concerning plays and signals, to all of which his eleven listened earnestly.

    When the Colby Hall team came forth, they were given a loud round of applause, and this was repeated when Hixley High showed itself. The high school boys were nearly all seniors, and a glance sufficed to show that, player for player, they were quite a few pounds heavier than the cadets.

    "If our eleven wins this game they will be going some," was Fatty's whispered comment to a fellow cadet.

    "You're right there," was the answer. "Those chaps certainly look pretty husky."

    It is not my intention here to give the particulars of this game with Hixley High, interesting as it proved to be. It was not the big game of the season--that was to come later. During the first quarter, the playing on both sides was rather rough and ragged, each school doing its best to wear its opponent out at the very start. In these onslaughts the weight carried by Hixley High told, so that when the whistle blew the score was 6 to 3.

    "Hurrah! Hurrah!" came from the supporters of the high school. And again and again they boomed out with their slogan.

    "This game isn't over yet!" cried one of the followers of Colby Hall.

    "We haven't begun to play yet! Just watch us in the second half!" added another cadet.

    "Oh, dear! I thought Colby Hall would score, sure!" pouted Ruth.

    "Those Hixley High boys are awfully big fellows," answered May.

    The second quarter opened with a good deal of cheering for each side. The playing now became more settled, and the ball went back and forth from the 20-yard line on one side to the 30-yard line on the other. Then came a mix-up, in the midst of which Jack managed to get the ball and start with it for the goal.

    "Rover has it!"

    "Run, Jack, run! Leg it for all you're worth!"

    And Jack did run, making the best of his opportunity. Three of the Hixley High players did their utmost to down him, but when the third laid him low, he was directly over the chalk mark.

    "A touchdown!" was the cry from the Colby Hall cadets. And then they gave vent to their feelings by tooting their horns and sounding their rattles.

    The touchdown was followed by a skilful kick for goal, and with this in their favor, Colby Hall went at the game with renewed vigor, so that when the whistle blew for the ending of the second half the score stood 13 to 6 in favor of Colby Hall.

    "That's the way to do it!"

    "Keep it up, boys!"

    "Oh, wasn't that a splendid run by Jack?" cried Ruth, enthusiastically.

    "It certainly was!" answered one of the other girls.

    With the score piling up against them, Hixley High grew fairly frantic in the third quarter. As a consequence, their play became rougher than ever, and twice they had to be called to order, and once they were penalized. But their vigor told, and in spite of all Colby Hall could do to hold them back, they gained constantly, and when the end of the third quarter was reached the score was a tie.

    "Thirteen to thirteen! What do you think of that?"

    "Some playing, eh?"

    Each side cheered its own, but many were the anxious faces when the two elevens lined up for the final quarter.

    "Now then, boys, dig into them!" cried Mr. Crews, earnestly. "Show them what Colby Hall can do!"

    "Watch 'em--watch 'em closely!" cautioned Gif. "They may try to pull off some new stunt at the last minute."

    Once more the two teams went at it "hammer and tongs." It was certainly a battle royal, and on more than one occasion it looked as if some of the players might be seriously injured. As it was, Hixley High had to put in one substitute, and Colby Hall took on two. But the fighting blood of the cadets was now up, and with a great rush they carried the ball over the Hixley High line. They failed, however, to kick the goal, much to the regret of their followers.

    "Never mind, boys," said Gif, encouragingly. "Hold 'em now! That is all I ask of you--hold 'em!"

    And hold them Colby did, although the high school lads fought like demons to carry the ball across the cadets' territory. Back and forth went the play, the crowd meanwhile yelling itself hoarse. The ball was on the Colby Hall 15-yard line when the whistle blew and the game was over.

    "Colby Hall wins!"

    "Hurrah! Hurrah!"

    Then the horns and rattles sounded out louder than ever, and in a twinkling the football field was alive with visitors, and the triumphant eleven was surrounded.
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