“Louder! Louder!” commanded the remorseless youth on the baggage truck. “Nine long Harwells! One, two, three!”
“Har-well! Har-well! Har-well! Har-well! Har-well! Har-well! Har-well! Har-well! Har-well!” The sound crashed up against the vaulted station roof and thundered back. And none heard the shriek of the incoming train as it clattered over the switches at the entrance of the shed, and none saw it until it was creeping in, the engineer leaning far out of the cab window and waving a red bandanna handkerchief, a courtesy that won him a cheer all to himself.
Then out tumbled the returning heroes, bags in hands, followed by the head coach and all the rest of the attendant train. And then what a pushing and shouting and struggling there was! There were forty men to every player, and the result was that some of the latter were nearly torn limb from limb ere they were safe out of reach on the shoulders of lucky contestants for the honor of carrying them the first stage of the journey to college.
There were some who tried to hide, some who tried to run, others who enjoyed the whole thing hugely and thumped the heads of their bearers heartily just to show good feeling.
Joel was one of the last to leave the car, and as he set foot on the platform a hundred voices went up in cheers, and a hundred students struggled for possession of him. But one there was who from his place of vantage halfway up the steps repelled all oncomers, and assisted by a second youth of large proportions seized upon Joel and setting him upon their shoulders bore him off in triumph.
“Boom! Boom!” said the big drum. And the procession started. Down the long platform it went, past the waiting room doors where a crowd of onlookers waved hats and handkerchiefs, and so out into the city street. Joel turned his head away from the observers, ashamed and happy. There was no let-up to the cheering. One after another the names of the players and substitutes, coaches and trainer, were cheered and cheered again.
“Out of the way there!” cried Joel’s bearers, and the marching throng looked about, moved apart, and as Joel was borne through, cheered him to the echo, reaching eager hands toward him, crying words of commendation and praise into his buzzing ears.
“Rah-rah-rah, Rah-rah-rah, Rah-rah-rah, March!”
“One!” shrieked a youth near where Joel soon found himself at the head of the procession, and the slogan was taken up:
“Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight! Nine! Ten! E-lev-en!”
“Now give me your hand, Joel!” cried the youth upon whose left shoulder he was swaying. Joel obeyed, smiling affectionately down into the upraised face. Then he uttered a cry of pain. One of the fingers of his left hand was bandaged, and Outfield West dropped it gingerly.
“Not—not broke?” he asked wonderingly. Joel nodded.
“Aren’t you proud of it?” whispered his chum.