Acton's Feud eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about Acton's Feud.
to Acton, though quietly, “Play the game, sir!  Play the ball!” Acton flushed angrily, and I did not like the savage way he faced round to Bourne, who was particularly busy at that moment and did not notice it.  The game went on until within about five minutes from time.  Amber had been feeding Aspinall assiduously for the last ten minutes, and Acton had, despite his cleverness, more than he could really hold in the flying International.  He stalled off the attack somehow, and Bourne always covered his exertions, so that it seemed as if there would be a draw after all.  At last the ball was swung across, and Aspinall was off on a final venture.  Acton stuck to him like a leech, but the winger tipped the ball to his partner, and as Acton moved to intercept the inside, the latter quickly and wisely poked the ball back again to Aspinall.  He was off again in his own inimitable style, and I saw him smile as he re-started his run.  I rather fancy Acton saw it too, and accepted the smile as a sneering challenge; anyhow, he set his lips and I believe made up his mind that in any case Aspinall should not get the winning goal.  How it exactly happened I cannot say, but as Aspinall was steadying himself, when at top speed, for an almost point-blank delivery, I saw Acton break his own stride, shoot out his leg, and the next moment the International was stumbling forward, whilst the ball rolled harmlessly onward into our goal-keeper’s hands.  I could hardly believe my own eyes, but it was a deliberate trip, if ever there was one!  Aspinall tried to recover himself, failed, and came with a sickening crash against the goal-post.  I blew the whistle and rushed to Aspinall; his cheek was bleeding villainously and he was deadly pale.  I helped him up, and he said with his usual smile—­who could mistake it for a sneer?—­“Thanks, old man.  Yes, I do feel a bit seedy.  That back of yours is an animal, though.”  He tried hard to keep his senses; I saw him battling against his faintness, but the pain and shock were too much for him; he fell down again in a dead faint.

We improvised a hurdle and carried him up to the school.  Acton, pale to the lips, prepared to bear a hand, but Bourne unceremoniously took him by the arm and said with concentration, “No thanks, Acton.  We’ll excuse you—­you beastly cad!” I heard Bourne’s remark, though no one else saw or heard.  Acton’s hand closed involuntarily, and he gave Bourne a vitriolic look, but did nothing nor said anything.  We took Aspinall up to Merishall’s—­his old house—­where he was staying, and left him there still unconscious.

What astonished me was that no one save Bourne had noticed the trip, but when I came to think it over the explanation was easy.  Acton had, whether from accident or of purpose, “covered” his man and blocked the view from behind.  I myself had not really seen the trip, but it would have been plainly visible for any one opposite on the touch-line, and luckily there was no one opposite.  The goal-keeper might have seen it, but Roberts never attends to anything but the ball—­the reason he’s the fine keeper that he is.  Bourne had actually seen it, being practically with Acton, and I knew by his pale face and scornful eyes that he would dearly have liked to kick Acton on the spot.

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Acton's Feud from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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