The Half-Back eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about The Half-Back.

“I can’t sing a word,” answered Joel.

“You must.  Hullabalooloo decrees it.”

“Then Hullabalooloo can come and make me,” retorted Joel stubbornly.

“What,” asked the mask in a deep, grewsome voice, “what is the penalty for disobedience?”

“Tossed in the blanket,” answered the other four in unison.

“You hear, Freshman March?” asked the mask.  “Choose.”

“I’ll sing, I guess,” answered Joel, with a grin.  But West jumped up.

“Don’t you do it, Joel!  They can’t make you sing!  And they can’t make me sing; and the first one that comes in reach will get knocked down!”

“Oh, well, I don’t mind singing,” answered Joel.  “That is, I don’t mind trying.  If they can stand it, I can.  What shall I sing?”

“What do you know?”

“I only know one song.  I’ll sing that, but on one condition.”

“Name it?” answered the mask.

“That you’ll join in and sing the chorus.”

There was a moment of hesitation; then the masks nodded, and Joel mounted to a chair and with a comical grimace of despair at West, who sat scowling on the couch, he began: 

     “There is a flag of crimson hue,
      The fairest flag that flieth,
     Whose folds wave over hearts full true,
      As nobody denieth. 
     Here’s to the School, the School so dear;
      Here’s to the soil it’s built on! 
     Here’s to the heart, or far or near,
      That loves the Flag of Hillton.’”

Joel was not much of a singer, but his voice was good and he sang as though he meant it.  Outfield sat unresponsive until the verse was nearly done; then he moved restlessly and waited for the chorus, and when it came joined in with the rest; and the strains of Hilltonians rang triumphantly through the building.

     “Hilltonians, Hilltonians, your crimson banner fling
      Unto the breeze, and ’neath its folds your anthem loudly sing! 
      Hilltonians, Hilltonians, our loyalty we’ll prove
      Beneath the flag, the crimson flag, the bonny flag we love!”

The Knights of the Sacred Order of Hullabalooloo signified their approval and demanded the next verse.  And Joel sang it.  And when the chorus came the maskers lost much of their dignity and waved their arms about and shouted the refrain so loud that doors up and down the hall opened and wondering voices shouted “Shut up!” or “More!  M-o-r-e!” for two minutes after.  As the last word was reached Joel leaned quickly forward toward an unsuspicious singer, and, snatching the mask from his face, revealed the countenance of Louis Whipple.

And then, amid much laughter, the other masks were slipped off, and the remaining members of the Sacred Order of Hullabalooloo stood revealed as Blair, Cartwright, Somers, and Cooke.

And Outfield, joining in the laugh at his own expense, was seized by Cooke and waltzed madly around the table, while the rest once more raised the strains of Hilltonians: 

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The Half-Back from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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