But, as the trainer muttered presently, it was only the freshmen who had won, and the real battle of the day was yet to come. And soon the band and the shouting parade wheeled away from beneath the windows and swung off up the street to make known far and wide the greatness of Harwell, her freshmen, and the grandeur of their victory over the youngsters of Yates. And, as the last cheer floated up from the procession as it disappeared around a far corner, lunch was served, and player and coach, trainer and rubber, substitute and mascot, drew up to the last meal before—what? Victory or defeat?
It was not a merry repast, that lunch before the fray. Some men could not bring themselves to eat at all until the coaches commanded with dire threats. Others, as though nothing out of the ordinary was about to take place, ate heartily, hungrily, of everything set before them. At the far end of the room Joel March played with his steak and tried to delude himself into thinking he was eating. He felt rather upset, and weak in the joints, and as for the lad’s stomach it had revolted at sight of the very first egg. But luckily the last meal before a game has little effect one way or the other upon the partaker, since he is already keyed up, mentally and physically, to a certain pitch, and nothing short of cold poison can alter it.
In the streets below, for blocks in all directions, the crowds surged up and down, and shouts for Harwell and yells for Yates arose like challenges in the afternoon air. Friends met who had not done so for years, enemies accorded enemies bows of recognition ere they remembered their enmity. The deep blue and the deeper crimson passed and counterpassed, brushed and fluttered side by side, and lighted up the little college city till it looked like a garden of roses and violets.
And everywhere, over all, was the tensity that ever reigns before a battle.
The voices of the ticket speculator and of the merchant of “Offish’l Score Cards” were heard upon every side. The street cars poked their blunt noses through the crowd which closed in again behind them like water about the stern of a ship. Violets blossomed or crimson chrysanthemums bloomed upon every coat and wrap, or hung pendant from the handle of cane and umbrella. The flags of Harwell and Yates, the white H and white Y, were everywhere. Shop windows were partisan to the blue, but held dashes of crimson as a sop to the demands of hospitality and welcome.
At one o’clock the exodus from town began. Along the road that leads to the football field hurried the sellers of rush cushions and badges, of score cards and pencils, of blue and crimson flags and cheap canes, of peanuts and sandwiches, of soda water and sarsaparilla, bent upon securing advantageous stands about the entrance. A quarter of an hour later the spectators were on the way. The cars, filled in and out with shouting humanity, crept slowly along, a bare half block separating them. Roystering