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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 185 pages of information about The Half-Back.

“Hello! you fellows.  What’s up?  Thought it was golf, from the crowd over here.”  He stretched himself beside them on the grass.

“Golf!” answered Bartlett Cloud contemptuously.  “I don’t believe you ever think of anything except golf, Out!  Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night trying to drive the pillow out of the window with a bed-slat?”

“Oh, sometimes,” answered Outfield West smilingly.  “There’s a heap more sense in being daft over a decent game like golf than in going crazy about football.  It’s just a kid’s game.”

“Oh, is it?” growled Bartlett Cloud.  “I’d just like to have you opposite me in a good stiff game for about five minutes.  I’d show you something about the ‘kid’s game!’”

“Well, I don’t say you couldn’t knock me down a few times and walk over me, but who wants to play such games—­except a lot of bullies like yourself?”

“Plenty of fellows, apparently,” answered the third member of the group, Wallace Clausen, hastening to avert the threatening quarrel.  “Just look around you.  I’ve never seen more fellows turn out at the beginning of the season than are here to-day.  There must be sixty here.”

“More like a hundred,” grunted “Bart” Cloud, not yet won over to good temper.  “Every little freshman thinks he can buy a pair of moleskins and be a football man.  Look at that fellow over yonder, the one with the baggy trousers and straw hat.  The idea of that fellow coming down here just out of the hayfield and having the cheek to report for football practice!  What do you suppose he would do if some one threw a ball at him?”

“Catch it in his hat,” suggested Wallace Clausen.

“He does look a bit—­er—­rural,” said Outfield West, eying the youth in question.  “I fear he doesn’t know a bulger from a baffy,” he added sorrowfully.

“What’s more to the subject,” said Wallace Clausen, “is that he probably doesn’t know a touch-down from a referee.  There’s where the fun will come in.”

“Well, I’m no judge of football, thank goodness!” answered West, “but from the length of that chap I’ll bet he’s a bully kicker.”

“Nonsense.  That’s what a fellow always thinks who doesn’t know anything about the game.  It takes something more than long legs to make a good punter.”

“Perhaps; but there’s one thing sure, Bart:  that hayseed will be a better player than you at the end of two months—­that is, if he gets taken on.”

“I’ll bet you he won’t be able to catch a punt,” growled Cloud.  “A fool like him can no more learn football than—­than—­”

“Than you could learn golf,” continued West sweetly.

“Oh, shut up!  I know a mule that plays golf better than you do.”

“Well, I sha’n’t attempt to compete with your friends, Bart.”

“There you both go, quarreling again,” cried Clausen.  “If you don’t shut up, I’ll have to whip the pair of you.”

Wallace Clausen was about two thirds the size of Cloud, and lacked both the height and breadth of shoulder that made West’s popular nickname of “Out” West seem so appropriate.  Clausen’s threat was so absurd that Cloud came back to good humor with a laugh, and even West grinned.

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