Remsen departed a week after Thanksgiving, being accompanied to the train by almost as enthusiastic a throng as had welcomed him upon his arrival. He had consented to return to Hillton the following year and coach the eleven once more. “I had expected to make this the last year,” he said, “but now I shall coach, if you will have me, until we win a decisive victory from St. Eustace. I can’t break off my coaching career with a tie game, you see.” And Christie occasioned laughter and applause by replying, “I’m afraid you’re putting a premium on defeat, sir, because if we win next year’s game you won’t come back.” He shook hands cordially with Joel, and said:
“When the election of next year’s captain comes off, my boy, it’s a pretty sure thing that you’ll have a chance at it. But if you’ll take my advice you’ll let it alone. I tell you this because I’m your friend all through. Next fall will be time enough for the honors; this year should go to hard work without any of the trouble that falls to the lot of captain.”
“Thank you, Mr. Remsen,” Joel answered. “I hadn’t thought of their doing such a thing. I don’t see why they should want me. But if it’s offered you may be sure I’ll decline. I’d be totally unfitted for it; and, besides, I haven’t got the time!”
And so, when two weeks later the election was held in the gymnasium one evening, Joel did decline, to the evident regret of all the team, and the honor went to Christie, since both Blair and Whipple were seniors and would not be in school the next autumn. And Christie made a very manly, earnest speech, and subsequently called for three times three for Blair, and three times three for Remsen, and nine times three for Hillton, all of which were given with a will.
As the Christmas recess approached, Joel spent a great deal of valuable time in unnecessary conjecture as to his chance of winning the Goodwin scholarship, and undoubtedly lessened his chance of success by worrying. The winners were each year announced in school hall on the last day of the term. The morning of that day found Outfield West very busy packing a heap of unnecessary golf clubs and wearing apparel into his trunk and bags, and found Joel seated rather despondently on the lounge looking on. For West was to spend his vacation with an uncle in Boston, and Joel, although Outfield had begged him to go along, asserting positively that his uncle would be proud and happy to see him (Joel), was to spend the recess at school, since he felt he could not afford the expense of the trip home. West hesitated long over a blue-checked waistcoat and at length sighed and left it out.
“Isn’t it most time to go over?” asked Joel.
“No; don’t you be in a hurry. There’s a half hour yet. And if you’re going to get the Goodwin you’ll get it, and there isn’t any use stewing over it,” replied West severely. “As for me, I’m glad I’m not a grind and don’t have to bother my head about such tommyrot. Just sit on the lid of this pesky thing, Joel, will you? I’m afraid that last coat was almost too much for it.”