“His brother? Who’s that?”
“Why, didn’t you know? His brother plays left end on the team—”
“Kiddy Upton’s brother on the Harvard Freshmen! No!”
“Mr. Upton’s, I meant to say.” Louis grinned. “Is he really, Mr. Barclay?”
“I’m rather surprised you didn’t know it. But I guess Mr. Upton is the kind that doesn’t talk much.”
“I should think he’d have let that out.”
“Well, he let it out to me. I suspect—though he hasn’t told me—that he’s helping to put his brother through college. And his success in doing that will naturally depend largely on his success or failure here as a master.”
“You mean—keeping his job?”
Barclay nodded. “Yes. Oh, I don’t suppose there’s any real doubt about that. He’s a perfectly competent teacher, isn’t he? You know; you have a class with him.”
“Ye-es,” said Louis, slowly. “The trouble has been, the fellows horse him a good deal—though not quite so much as they did.”
“They’ll get over that when they know him better,” remarked Barclay.
He knew that Louis Collingwood went away feeling much impressed, and he was pretty sure he had done Irving a good turn.
It was in the noon half-hour, while Collingwood was holding this interview with Mr. Barclay, that Westby, reading the Harvard news in his Boston paper, went giggling into Morrill’s room.
“There’s a fellow named Upton playing on the Freshmen.” He showed Morrill the name. “Let’s get a crowd and go in to Kiddy; I’ll get him rattled.”
“How?” asked Morrill.
“Oh, ask him if this fellow’s a relation of his, and say I supposed of course he must be—such athletic prowess, and all that sort of thing; with a crowd standing there giggling you know how rattled he’ll get.”
“All right,” said Morrill, who was an earnest admirer of Westby’s wit.
So they collected Dennison and Smythe and Allison and Carroll and Scarborough, and marched up the corridor—humorously tramping in step—to Irving’s door. There Westby, newspaper in hand, knocked. Irving opened the door.
“Mr. Upton, sir,” began Westby, “sorry to disturb you, sir.” The boys all began to grin, and Irving saw that he was in for some carefully planned attack. “I was just reading my morning paper, sir, and I wanted to ask you what relation to you the man named Upton is that’s playing on the Harvard Freshman eleven, sir.”
Irving’s eyes twinkled; if ever the enemy had been delivered into his hands!
“What makes you think he’s a relation?” he asked, with an assumption of cold dignity.
“Oh, we all feel sure he must be, sir. Of course your well-known and justly famous interest in all athletic sports, sir—not to say your prowess in them, sir—it’s natural to suppose that any athlete named Upton would belong to the same family with you, sir.”