O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 353 pages of information about O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920.

Even in death its quills were raised in uncanny duplication of Mart Wiley’s pompadour.

A MATTER OF LOYALTY

BY LAWRENCE PERRY

From The Red Book

Standing in the bow of the launch, Dr. Nicholls, coach of the Baliol crew, leaned upon his megaphone, his eyes fixed upon two eight-oared crews resting upon their oars a hundred feet away.  From his hand dangled a stop-watch.  The two crews had just completed a four-mile race against the watch.

A grim light came into the deeply set gray eyes of Jim Deacon as the coach put the watch into his pocket.  Deacon was the stroke of the second varsity, an outfit which in aquatics bears the same relation to a university eight as the scrub team does to a varsity football eleven.  But in the race just completed the second varsity had been much of a factor—­surprisingly, dishearteningly so.  Nip and tuck it had been, the varsity straining to drop the rival boat astern, but unable to do so.  At the finish not a quarter of a length, not fifteen feet, had separated the two prows; a poor showing for the varsity to have made with the great rowing classic of the season coming on apace—­a poor showing, that is, assuming the time consumed in the four-mile trip was not especially low.

Only the coach could really know whether the time was satisfactory or not.  But Jim Deacon suspected that it was poor, his idea being based upon knowledge he had concerning the capabilities of his own crew; in other words, he knew it was only an average second varsity outfit.  The coach knew it too.  That was the reason his jaws were set, his eyes vacant.  At length he shook his head.

“Not good, boys—­not good.”  His voice was gentle, though usually he was a rip-roaring mentor.  “Varsity, you weren’t rowing.  That’s the answer—­not rowing together.  What’s the matter, eh?”

“I thought, Dr. Nicholls, that the rhythm was very good——­”

The coach interrupted Rollins, the captain, with a gesture.

“Oh, rhythm!  Yes, you row prettily enough.  You look well.  I should hope so, at this time of the season.  But you’re not shoving the boat fast; you don’t pick up and get her moving.  You’re leaking power somewhere; as a matter of fact, I suspect you’re not putting the power in.  I know you’re not.  Ashburton, didn’t that lowering of your seat fix you?  Well, then,”—­as the young man nodded affirmatively—­ “how about your stretcher, Innis?  Does it suit you now?”

As Innis nodded, signifying that it did, Deacon saw the coach’s eyes turn to Doane, who sat at stroke of the varsity.

“Now,” muttered the stroke of the second varsity, his eyes gleaming, “we’ll hear something.”

“Doane, is there anything the trouble with you?  You’re feeling well, aren’t you?”

“Yes sir.  Sure!” The boy flushed.  Tall, straight, handsome he sat in the boat, fingering the oar-handle nervously.  In appearance he was the ideal oarsman.  And yet——­

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O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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