He would secure some forbidden article of food and ostentatiously appear to be eating it with the greatest enjoyment until he caught Collingwood’s eye; a large circular doughnut or a chocolate eclair delicately poised between his thumb and finger were his favorite instruments for torturing his captain’s peace of mind. He would contrive to be seen just as he was on the point of taking the first bite; then he would reluctantly lay the tidbit down.
“It’s a hard life, this being a near athlete,” he grumbled. “Sitting at a table with a lot of uncongenial pups like you fellows.—Mr. Upton, Blake’s kicking me; make him quit, sir.—Not allowed to eat half the things the rest of you do, and not allowed either to get any of the training-table grub. Well, I never did think of self, so I can endure it better than most.”
The others jeered. But Westby, however he might complain, was faithful at practice and accepted good-naturedly his position upon the second eleven, and the hard battering to which every one on the second eleven was subjected.
The day when he got round Morrill, the first eleven’s left end, and scored a touchdown—the only one which in that week of practice the second eleven scored—brought him so much applause that he began really to think there might be a chance of his ousting Dennison from the regular position. When that notion entered his head he ceased to be facetious about the training; he became suddenly as serious as Collingwood himself. But in spite of that, he remained Dennison’s substitute.
The Saturday set for the game with the Harvard Freshmen was an Indian Summer day. In the early morning mist wreathed the low meadows and the edges of the pond; it seemed later to dissipate itself through all the windless air in haze. The distant hills were blue and faint, the elms in the soft sunlight that filtered down had a more golden glow.
“Great day,” was the salutation that one heard everywhere; “great day for the game.”
Now and then in his morning classes Irving’s thoughts would wander, there would be a gentle rush of excitement in his veins. He would turn his mind firmly back to his work; he did not do any less well that day because his heart was singing happily.
In three hours more—in two—in one—he was going to see Lawrence again; he wondered if he would find his brother much changed. Only two months had passed since they had parted; yet in that time how remote Lawrence had grown in Irving’s eyes from the Lawrence of the Ohio farm!
The bell announcing the noon recess rang; Irving dismissed his last class. He hurried down the stairs almost as madly as the Fourth Formers themselves; the train on which the Harvard Freshmen were coming was due ten minutes before; already Lawrence and the others must have started on the two-mile drive out to the School.
In front of the Study building most of the older boys and many of the younger were congregated, awaiting the arrival of the visitors. Irving walked about among the groups impatiently, now and then looking at his watch. He passed Westby and Collingwood, who were standing together by the gate.