“Here!” called the latter, jumping from his seat. Then a sharp, agonized cry followed, and Prince toppled over, clutching vainly at the air. The head coach paused. The doctor and the trainer pushed toward the fallen man, and a moment later the former announced quietly:
“He’s fainted, sir.”
“Can he go on?” asked the head coach.
“He is out of the question. Ankle’s too painful. I couldn’t allow it.”
“Very well,” answered the other as he amended the list. “Kingdon, Blair, March.”
Joel’s heart leaped as he heard his name pronounced, and he tried to answer.
“March?” demanded the head coach impatiently; and
“Here, sir!” gulped Joel, rushing to the door.
“All right,” continued the head coach. “There isn’t time for any fine phrases, fellows, and if there was I couldn’t say them so that they’d do any good. You know what you’ve got to do. Go ahead and do it. You have the chance of wiping out a good many defeats, more than it’s pleasant to think about. The college expects a great deal from you. Don’t disappoint it. Play hard and play together. Don’t give an inch; die first. Tackle low, run high, and keep your eyes on the ball! And now, fellows, three times three for Harwell!”
And what a cheer that was! The little building shook, the men stood on their toes; the head coach cheered himself off the bench; and Joel yelled so desperately that his breath gave out at the last “Rah!” and didn’t come back until the little door was burst open and he found himself leaping the fence into the gridiron.
And what a burst of sound greeted their reappearance! The west stand shook from end to end. Crimson banners broke out on the breeze, every one was on his feet, hats waved, umbrellas clashed, canes swirled. A youth in a plaid ulster went purple in the face at the small end of a five-foot horn; and for all the sound it seemed to make it might as well have been a penny whistle. The ushers waved their arms, but to no purpose, since the seats heeded them not at all, but shouted as their hearts dictated and as their throats and lungs allowed.
Joel, gazing about him from the field, felt a shiver of emotion pass through him. They were cheering him! He was one of the little band in honor of which the flags waved, the voices shouted, and the songs were sung! He felt a lump growing in his throat, and to keep down the tears that for some reason were creeping into his eyes, he let drive at a ball that came bumping toward him and kicked it so hard that Selkirk had to chase it half down the field.
“Rah-rah-rah, Rah-rah-rah, Rah-rah-rah, Harwell! Harwell! Harwell! Rah-rah-rah, Rah-rah-rah, Rah-rah-rah, Harwell!”
The leaders of the cheering had again gotten control of their sections, and the long, deliberate cheer, majestic in its intensity of sound, crashed across the space, rebounded from the opposite stand, and went echoing upward into the clear afternoon air.