“CURTIS GORDON, Secretary.”
One afternoon a week later Outfield West and Joel March were seated on the ledge where, nearly two months before, they had begun their friendship. The sun beat warmly down and the hill at their backs kept off the east wind. Below them the river was brightly blue, and a skiff dipping its way up stream caught the sunlight on sail and hull until, as it danced from sight around the headland, it looked like a white gull hovering over the water. Above, on the campus, the football field was noisy with voices and the pipe of the referee’s whistle; and farther up the river at the boathouse moving figures showed that some of the boys were about to take advantage of the pleasant afternoon.
“Some one’s going rowing,” observed Outfield. “Can you row, Joel?”
“I guess so; I never tried.” West laughed.
“Then I guess you can’t. I’ve tried. It’s like trying to write with both hands. While you’re looking after one the other has fits and runs all over the paper. If you pull with the left oar the right oar goes up in the air or tries to throw you out of the boat by getting caught in the water. Paddling suits me better. Say, you’ll see a bully race next spring when we meet Eustace. Last spring they walked away from us. But the crew is to have a new boat next year. Look! those two fellows row well, don’t they? Remsen says a chap can never learn to row unless he has been born near the water. That lets me out. In Iowa we haven’t any water nearer than the Mississippi—except the Red Cedar, and that doesn’t count. By the way, Joel, what did Remsen say to you last night about playing again?”
“He said to keep in condition, so that in case I got off probation I could go right back to work. He says he’ll do all he can to help me, and I know he will. But it won’t do any good. ‘Wheels’ won’t let me play until he’s found out who did that trick. It’s bad enough, Out, to be blamed for the thing when I didn’t do it, but to lose the football team like this is a hundred times worse. I almost wish I had cut that old rope!” continued Joel savagely; “then I’d at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I was only getting what I deserved.” West looked properly sympathetic.
“It’s a beastly shame, that’s what I think. What’s the good of ‘believing you innocent,’ as ‘Wheels’ says, if he goes ahead and punishes you for the affair? What? Why, there isn’t any, of course! If it was me I’d cut the pesky rope every chance I got until they let up on me!” Joel smiled despite his ill humor.
“And I’ve lost half my interest in lessons, Out. I try not to, but I can’t help it. I guess my chance at the scholarship is gone higher than a kite.”
“Oh, hang the scholarship!” exclaimed West. “But there’s the St. Eustace game in three weeks. If you don’t play in that, Joel, I’ll go to ‘Wheels’ and tell him what I think about it!”