“Very well, then, I’ll join the club,” answered Joel. “Though I don’t see what use there is in it, since I haven’t anything to play with and wouldn’t know how to play if I had.”
“Well, I’m going to teach you, you know. And as for clubs and things, why, I’ve got some oldish ones that will do fairly well; a beginner doesn’t need extra good ones, you see. And then, for clothes—well, I guess fellows have played in ordinary trousers and coat; and I’ve played myself in tennis shoes. And if you don’t mind cold hands, why, you needn’t have gloves. So, after all, we’ll get on all right.” West was quite cheerful again and, with a wealth of clubs—divers, spoons, bulgers, putters, baps, niblicks, and many other sorts—on the rug before him, chattered on about past deeds of prowess on the links until the room grew dark and the lamps in the yard shone fitfully through the rain, by which time a dozen clubs in various states of repair had been laid aside, the gingersnaps had been totally demolished, and West had forgotten all about the meanness of the weather and his lost practice.
Then Cooke and Somers demanded admission, to the annoyance of both West and Joel, and the lamps were lighted, and Joel said good-night and hurried back to his room in order to secure a half hour’s study ere supper time.
THE PRACTICE GAME.
“First and second Eleven rushes and quarters down the field and practice formations. Backs remain here to kick!” shouted Wesley Blair.
It was a dull and cold afternoon. The last recitation was over and half the school stood shivering about the gridiron or played leapfrog to keep warm. Stephen Remsen, in the grimiest of moleskins, stood talking to the captain, and, in obedience to the command of the latter, some fifteen youths, clad for the coming fray, were trotting down the field, while eight others, backs and substitute backs on the two teams, passed and dropped on the pigskin in an endeavor to keep warm.
The first and second elevens were to play their first real game of the season at four o’clock, and meanwhile the players were down for a stiff thirty minutes of practice. Joel March shivered with the rest of the backs and waited for the coach and the captain to finish their consultation. Presently Blair trotted off down the field and Remsen turned to the backs.
“Browne, Meach, and Turner, go down to about the middle of the field and return the balls. Cloud, take a ball over nearer the side-line and try some drop-kicks. Post, you do the same, please. And let me see, what is your name?” addressing a good-looking and rather slight youth. “Ah, yes, Clausen. Well, Clausen, you and Wills try some punts over there, and do try and get the leg swing right. March, take that ball and let me see you punt.”
Then began a time of sore tribulation for Joel; for not until ten minutes had passed did the ball touch his toe. His handling was wrong, his stepping out was wrong, and his leg-swing was very, very wrong! But he heard never a cross word from his instructor, and so shut his lips tight and bore the lecture in good-humored silence.