“But I thought Mr. Remsen was not coming until Saturday?”
“That,” replied West, confidentially, “was his intention, but he heard of a youngster up here who is such an astonishingly fine punter that he decided to come at once and see for himself; and so he telegraphed to Blair this morning. And you and I, my lad, will March—see?—with the procession, and sing—”
Hilltonians, your crimson banner fling
Unto the breeze, and ’neath its folds your anthem loudly sing!
Hilltonians! Hilltonians! we stand to do or die,
Beneath the flag, the crimson flag, that waves for victory!’”
And, seizing Joel by the arm, West dragged him out of the corridor and down the steps into the warm sunlight of a September noon, chanting the school song at the top of his voice. A group of boys on the Green shouted lustily back, and the occupant of a neighboring window threw a cushion with unerring precision at West’s head. Stopping to deposit this safely amid the branches halfway up an elm tree, the two youths sped across the yard toward Warren Hall and the dinner table.
“You sit at our table, March,” announced West. “Digbee’s away, and you can have his seat. Come on.” Joel followed, and found himself in the coveted precincts of the Hampton House table, and was introduced to five youths, who received him very graciously, and invited him to partake of such luxuries as pickled walnuts and peach marmalade. Joel was fast making the discovery that to be vouched for by Outfield West invariably secured the highest consideration.
“I’ve been telling March here that it is his bounden duty to go to the station,” announced West to the table at large.
“Of course it is,” answered Cooke and Cartwright and Somers, and two others whose names Joel did not catch. “The wealth, beauty, and fashion will attend in a body,” continued Cooke, a stout, good-natured-looking boy of about nineteen, who, as Joel afterward learned, was universally acknowledged to be the dullest scholar in school. “Patriotism and—er—school spirit, you know, March, demand it.” And Cooke helped himself bountifully to West’s cherished bottle of catsup.
“This is Remsen’s last year as coach, you see,” explained West, as he rescued the catsup. “I believe every fellow feels that we ought to show our appreciation of his work by turning out in force. It’s the least we can do, I think. Mind you, I don’t fancy football a little bit, but Remsen taught us to win from St. Eustace last year, and any one that helps down Eustace is all right and deserves the gratitude of the school and all honest folk.”
“Hear! hear!” cried Somers.
“I’d like very well to go,” said Joel, “but I’ve got a recitation at two.” Cooke looked across at him sorrowfully.
“Are you going in for study?” he asked.
“I’m afraid so,” answered Joel laughingly.
“My boy, don’t do it. There’s nothing gained. I’ve tried it, and I speak from sad experience.”