“I vote we all protest to Bourne. A round robin should meet the case.”
“Good,” said Mivart. “Draw one up, Dicky dear.”
Dick in time produced the following:—
“We, the undersigned, think that the St. Amory eleven is incomplete without John Acton, of Biffen’s house, and, consequently, that he ought to have the last cap; and we would beg the captain to offer it him unless there be very good reasons for not doing so. We would suggest that if John Acton isn’t to have the cap he be told the reason. The undersigned do not wish in the smallest degree to prejudice the right of the captain to select members for the eleven, but think that in the present case the withholding of a cap from John Acton inexplicable.”
“You’re a ready scribe, Dick,” said Chalmers. “We may all sign that, eh?”
“Yes,” said Worcester. “I first, because I am undeservedly offered the cap, and the rest of you in order of membership.”
No one saw any objection to signing Dick’s memorandum, and forthwith, with all legal formality, the round robin was signed by the ten, and sent to Phil by Dick’s fag with orders to wait for an answer.
It came within five minutes.
I have no intention of offering John Acton a place in the St.
Amory’s football eleven. There are good reasons for not doing
so, and I have already told Acton the reasons. Please let me
know whether you accept the vacant place I had the pleasure of
This was a thunderbolt among the fellows. Then Acton knew!
Worcester posted back to Acton, lost in amazement.
“Look at this, Acton!”
Acton carefully read Bourne’s letter, and Dick, who was watching him anxiously, saw him bite his lips with rage; for Phil’s icy contempt stood out in every word of the letter.
“He says you know why you are not in the eleven.”
Acton knew that he would have to explain something, or else Bourne would win the day yet. So he said—
“That is true. He told me so at the beginning of the season, but, of course, I never bargained for his keeping his word; and when you hear the reason he gave me—if this is his reason—you’ll gasp.”
“Well,” said Dick, “although I’ve no right to ask you, I’d like to hear the plain, unvarnished tale, for, speaking out, Phil Bourne has always passed for a decent, level fellow. This business, somehow, doesn’t seem his form at all, and it is only fair to him to say it.”
“Did you see the match we had with Shannon’s scratch team when the term began?”
“Did you notice anything about my play?”
“You opened our eyes a bit, I remember.”
“Did I play roughly?”
“No. Not quite that! You were not gentle; but you aren’t that as a rule, though your game is fair enough.”
“Not for Bourne. He doesn’t like my game. I’m too rough. It’s bad form, pace Bourne, therefore I’m barred my place in the eleven.”