“Why, it wouldn’t have mattered if you were playing, March,” said Blair. “For there’s no harm in telling you now that we were depending on you for half the punting. Remsen thinks you are fine and so do I. ’With March to take half the punting off your hands,’ said he one day, ’you’ll have plenty of time to run the team to the Queen’s taste.’ Why, we had you running on the track there, so you would get your lungs filled out and be able to run with the ball as well as kick it. If you were playing we’d be all right. But as it is, there isn’t a player there that can be depended on to punt twenty yards if pushed. Some of ’em can’t even catch the ball if they happen to see the line breaking! St. Eustace is eight pounds heavier in the line than we are, and three or four pounds heavier back of it. So what will happen? Why, they’ll get the ball and push us right down the field with a lot of measly mass plays, and we won’t be able to kick and we won’t be able to go through their line. And it’s dollars to doughnuts that we won’t often get round their ends. It’s a hard outlook! Of course, if I can pass—” But there Blair stopped and sighed dolefully. And Joel echoed the sigh.
The last few days before the event of the term came, and found the first eleven in something approaching their old form. Blair continued to burn the midnight oil and consume page after page of Greek and mathematics and German, which, as he confided despondently to Digbee, he promptly forgot the next moment. Remsen made up a certain amount of lost sleep, and Whipple gained the confidence of the team. Joel studied hard, and refound his old interest in lessons, and dreamed nightly of the Goodwin scholarship. West, too, “put in some hard licks,” as he phrased it, and found himself climbing slowly up in the class scale. And so the day of the game came round.
The night preceding it two things of interest happened: the eleven and substitutes assembled in the gymnasium and listened to a talk by Remsen, which was designed less for instruction than to take the boys’ mind off the morrow’s game; and Wesley Blair took his examination in the four neglected studies, and made very hard work of it, and finally crawled off to a sleepless night, leaving the professors to make their decision alone.
And as the chapel bell began to ring on Thanksgiving Day morning, Digbee entered Blair’s room, and finding that youth in a deep slumber, sighed, wrote a few words on a sheet of paper, placed this in plain sight upon the table, and tiptoed noiselessly out.
And the message read:
“We failed on the Greek. I’m sorrier than I can tell you.—Digbee.”
THE GAME WITH ST. EUSTACE.