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

THE BOAT RACE.

The balance of that school year was a season of hard study for Joel.  It was not in his nature to remain long despondent over the loss of the Goodwin scholarship, and a week after the winter term commenced he was as cheerful and light-hearted as ever.  But his failure served to spur him on to renewed endeavors, and as a result he soon found himself at the head of the upper middle.  Rightly or wrongly—­and there is much to be said on both sides—­he gave up sports almost entirely.  Now and then West persuaded him to an afternoon on the links, but this was infrequent.  The hockey season opened with the first hard ice on the river, and West joined the team that met and defeated St. Eustace in January.  There was one result of his application to study that Joel had not looked for.  Outfield West, perhaps from a mere desire to be companionable, took to lessons, and, much to his own pretended dismay, began to earn the reputation of a diligent student.

“You won’t talk,” growled West, “you won’t play chess, you won’t eat things.  You just drive a chap to study!” As spring came in the school talk turned to baseball and rowing.  For the former Joel had little desire, but rowing attracted him, and he began to allow himself the unusual pleasure of an hour away from lessons in the afternoon that he might go down to the boathouse with West, and there, in a sunny angle of the building, watch the crews at work upon the stream.  Hillton was trying very hard to turn out a winning crew, and Whipple, who was captain of the first eight, toiled as no captain had toiled before in the history of Hillton aquatics.

The baseball season ended disastrously with a severe drubbing for the Hillton nine at the hands of St. Eustace on the latter’s home ground.  The fellows said little, but promised to atone for it when the boat race came off.  This occurred two days before class day, which this year came on June 22d, and very nearly every pupil traveled down the river to Marshall to witness it.  The day away from school came as a welcome relief after the worry and brain-aching of the spring examination, and Joel, although he knew for a certainty that he had passed with the highest marks, was glad to obey Outfield’s stern decree and accompany that youth to the scene of the race.

They went by train and arrived at the little town at noon.  After a regal repast of soup and sandwiches, ice cream and chocolate eclairs, the two set out for the river side.  The Hillton crew had come down the day before with their new shell, and had spent the night at the only hotel in the village.  The race was to be started at three, and West and Joel spent the intervening time in exploring the river banks for a mile in each direction from the bridge, and in getting their feet wet and their trousers muddy.

By the hour set for the start the river sides were thronged with spectators, and rival cheers floated across the sparkling stream from bank to bank.  That side of the river whereon St. Eustace Academy lies hidden behind a hill held the St. Eustace supporters, while upon the other bank the Hillton lads and their friends congregated.  But the long bridge, something more than a mile below, was common ground, and here the foes mingled and strove to outshout each other.

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