Dick Prescotts's Fourth Year at West Point
H. Irving Hancock
Part 3 out of 4
and honor, I beg you to go softly to the corner and hear what
is being said. Do not let Jordan suspect that you are near.
What he is saying will clear me. Go, and go softly, I beg you,
as a matter of justice from one man to another!"
All the time that Dick had held his arm Douglass had stood there,
not seeking to snatch himself free.
Nor did he utter a word. The class president stood there, like
a statue, looking straight past Prescott, as though he did not
know that such a being existed anywhere in the world.
Now, with despair tugging at his heart, Prescott released his hold.
Cadet Douglass moved forward again. Dick stood watching his brother
cadet with a feeling of despair until he saw that Douglass was
moving softly. Dick saw him go quietly around the corner of the
building. Now, Dick was at his heels, stealthy as any Indian
could have been, until he looked around the corner and saw that
Cadet Douglass had slipped into the same shadow that Dick himself
had occupied until a moment before.
"Now, if that pair yonder will only go on talking about me for
sixty seconds!" thought Dick in a frenzy.
Again he flew toward the front of the building. There was just
one other cadet outside---Durville, the man whom he had been obliged
to report for a tremendously grave breach of discipline.
But Dick Prescott's courage was up now. He raced forward, fairly
gripping Durville and holding him tight.
"Durville, listen to me for just a moment," begged Dick. "I know
you don't like me, but you're a man of honor. Jordan is on the
east side of this building, and I believe he is confessing a plot
that he put into successful operation against me. Douglass is
already there listening. Will you slip there softly, and listen,
too? I don't ask this as a matter of friendship, but of honor!
Will you go---and softly?"
Slowly Durville turned and looked into Prescott's eyes. Then he
did not speak, but he nodded.
"Thank you, Durville! Be quick---and stealthy! Let me guide you."
Class President Douglass stood in the shadow. He heard Jordan's
own tongue telling the stranger the familiar story of how he,
Jordan, had been reported for indolence in the bridge construction
"I had to get square," Jordan was continuing, just as Dick piloted
Durville within hearing.
"And you think you did it slickly, I suppose?" jeered the stranger.
Though Jordan did not seem to suspect it, the stranger was seeking
this information as another blackmailing club to hold over Jordan's
"Slick?" queried Jordan, with a sneer. "Well, it wasn't altogether
that. There was a good bit of luck in the whole job, too, but
Prescott is in Coventry, and there he'll stick, too. He'll be
away from here inside of two or three days more."
"How did you manage to do it?" asked the stranger, concealing
his anxiety to have Jordan tell the story.
THE STORY CARRIED ON THE WIND
"Oh, I fixed it all right," insisted Jordan confidently.
He was speaking in a rather low tone, but the breeze carried every
word to the ears of the listeners.
"You're talking just to hear yourself talking," sneered the stranger
"No; I'm not, Henckley," retorted the cadet.
"What was the trick, then?"
"Don't you wish you knew?" laughed Jordan.
"I don't care much," replied the stranger named Henckley. "But
I can't just picture you as doing anything extremely clever.
Even if it was luck, as you say, I can't figure how you were smart
enough to know how to profit by it. That's why I'm just a bit
curious, but no more."
"Why, you see, it happened this way," went on Jordan. "I saw
Prescott, that night back into camp, going into the tent of the
O.C. I thought that perhaps Prescott was going there in order
to say more about the matter that he had reported me for that
forenoon. So I moved close and listened. It seemed that some
of the plebes had been running the guard nights. Lieutenant Denton
asked the fellow Prescott, who is a cadet captain, to keep a watch
and stop plebes before they had a chance to get on the other side
of the guard line.
"Well, I knew the point at which plebes were in the habit of getting
past the guard line, and so did Prescott, I guess. So, a little
after taps, I slipped outside the guard near where I judged Prescott
would be watching. Then, after I had heard him speak with the
cadet sentry I presently stooped low in the bushes and lit a cigar.
Then I stood up straight and the glowing end of the cigar showed
from where Prescott stood. He did just what a fellow like him
feels bound to do, and what I knew he'd do. He hailed me. I
acted as though I wanted to get away, then allowed myself to be
overhauled. I was reported, of course, and made to pay the penalty.
But I was able to make the other fellows in the class believe
that Prescott had trailed me, on purpose to rub it into me. That
looked like over zeal, backed by a grudge, and the first class
swallowed it in fine shape. They gave him the silence, but had
not made it permanent Coventry. Then he caught another man, named
Durville, for going off the post in 'cit.' clothes, and that settled
the case against that fellow Prescott. But it was my trick that
made all the rest possible."
"I don't see that that was anything very clever," rejoined Henckley.
"I told you, didn't I," argued Jordan, "that it was as much luck
"What part of it was clever, anyway?" jeered Henckley.
"Why, putting the whole game through, and making the class take
it up, yet doing it all so that the trick could never be traced
back to me," replied Jordan.
In the shadow, Durville turned briskly, gripping Dick's hand with
Douglass saw. After a bare instant's hesitation the class president
also took Prescott's hand, giving it a mighty squeeze.
In the joy of that friendly grasp from his own classmen, Dick
Prescott almost felt that all the bitterness of the last few months
had been wiped out in a second.
Then Douglass stepped out from the shadow, his face stern and set.
"Perhaps you will want to stop talking, Mr. Jordan," he called.
"Your conversation has not been a private one!"
With the strong wind blowing away from Jordan, that cadet heard
only a rumble of voices. Both he and Henckley, however, caught
sight of the advancing figures.
"Hello! What are you fellows doing here?" demanded the money
lender, with blustering indignation.
"I might ask that question of you, fellow, but I won't, for I
already know," replied Cadet Douglass, fixing his eyes on the
"You've been listening to our talk?" demanded Henckley angrily,
while Jordan, after his first gasp of dismay, seemed to shrivel
back against the wall of Cullum Hall.
"Mr. Jordan," continued the class president, facing the dismayed
one in gray uniform, "I don't believe the significance of this
meeting has escaped you?"
"No-o-o," wailed Jordan in misery.
"Now, see here, young fellows, don't you go and blab what you've
been spying on just now," remonstrated Mr. Henckley, a note of
dismay creeping into his tone.
"It can hardly concern you, sir," flashed Cadet Douglass, wheeling
upon the money shark. "Yet I suppose it does, too. For now I
do not see how Mr. Jordan can hope to remain at the Military Academy.
That, I suppose, may possibly affect your security for the money
which, I take it, Mr. Jordan has borrowed from you."
"But you won't blab, and have him kicked out?" coaxed Mr. Henckley,
his voice now wholly wheedling.
"What the cadets may see fit to do for their own protection is hardly
a matter that can be discussed with you, sir," returned Douglass
"Oh, now see here, there are ways and ways," spoke Henckley in
a wheedling tone. "Let's all be friendly."
Before Douglass could guess what was happening the money shark
had pressed a hand against the cadet's. With an impatient gesture
Douglass shook his own hand free. But something like paper remained
in his palm. Douglass held up that hand, and discovered that it held
a banknote that Henckley had slipped into Douglass' hand as a bribe.
Cadet Douglass calmly tore that banknote in bits and flung it
off on the breeze. The fragments were out of sight in an instant.
Then Douglass coolly knocked the money shark down.
"Come along, fellows," spoke the class president quietly, and
turned on his heel.
"Confound you, Mr. Fresh, I'll report this to the superintendent,"
"Do!" called Douglass in cool contempt over his shoulder.
Douglass, Durville and Prescott tramped together around to the
front of Cullum Hall.
There Douglass again paused to hold out his hand, remarking:
"Mr. Prescott, the class meeting is not to be held until Monday
evening. All I am privileged to say is that I think what we have
overheard tonight will very materially affect the class action.
I am very grateful to you, my dear sir, for having called us."
Durville, too, held out his hand in sign that the past grudge was
forgotten so far as he was concerned.
Full of a new happiness, Dick trudged back to cadet barracks.
Finding Greg Holmes in, Prescott imparted the wonderful news.
Greg leaped up delightedly, pumphandling his chum's arm and patting
him on the back.
"Come out all right?" sputtered Holmes. "Of course it will, and
I always knew it would."
Meanwhile Cadet Jordan was surveying Henckley with a look of mingled
rage, disgust and consternation.
"Now, you've gone and done it, you bull-necked, toad-brained idiot!"
cried the elegant Mr. Jordan.
"Why didn't you pay up like a man, and this would never have happened,"
growled Henckley, rubbing the spot where Douglass had struck him.
"Pay up like a man?" sneered Jordan. "Well, this affair has one
small, good side to it. You've got me run out of the cadet corps,
"Out of the cadet corps?" screamed Henckley. "Then what becomes
of what you owe me?"
"That's something you'll have to settle to your own satisfaction,"
jeered the dismayed cadet. "I can offer you no help."
Jordan turned on his heel, starting to walk away, when Mr. Henckley
leaped after him, seizing him by the arm.
"See here-----" began the money shark hoarsely.
"Let go of my arm," warned Jordan in a rage, "or I'll hit you
harder than Douglass did."
As the money lender shrank back out of Jordan's reach, the cadet
strode off swiftly.
Mr. Jordan was in his bed when the subdivision inspector went
through the rooms that night.
At morning roll call, however, Jordan did not answer.
An investigation showed that he had gone. All his uniforms and
other equipment he had left behind, from which it was judged that
Jordan had, in some way, managed to get hold of an outfit of civilian
Jordan had deserted, with a heart full of hate for Dick Prescott,
with whom the deserter swore to be "even" before the academic year
THE CLASS MEETING "SIZZLES"
That Sunday, save Greg, none of the cadets addressed Prescott.
Anstey, however, thought up a new way of getting around the "silence."
As he passed Dick, the Virginian winked very broadly. Other cadets
were quick to catch the idea. Wherever Dick went that Sunday he was
greeted with winks.
Monday Dick was in a fever of excitement. For once he fared badly
in his marks won in the section rooms.
When evening came around every member of the first class, save
Prescott, hurried off to class meeting. For the first time in
many months, Greg attended.
As the cadets began to gather, excitement ran high. The room
was full of suppressed noise until President Douglass rapped sharply
Then, instantly all became as still as a church.
"Will Mr. Fullerton please take the chair?" asked the class president.
"The present presiding officer wishes the privileges of the floor."
Amid more intense silence Fullerton went forward to the chair, while
Douglass stepped softly down to the floor.
"Mr. Chairman," called Douglass.
"Mr. Douglass has the floor."
Douglass was already on his feet, of course. He plunged into
an accurate narrative of what had happened, and what he had overheard,
on Saturday night. He told it all without embellishment or flourish,
and wound up by calling attention to Jordan's plain enough desertion
from the corps.
Durville then obtained the floor. He corroborated all that the class
president had just narrated.
"May I now make a motion, sir?" demanded Durville, turning finally
toward the class president.
"Yes," nodded Cadet Douglass.
"Mr. Chairman, I move that the first class, United States Military
Academy, remove the Coventry and the silence that have been put
upon our comrade, Mr. Richard Prescott. I move that, by class
resolution, we express to him our regret for the great though
unintentional injustice that has been done Mr. Prescott during
these many months."
"I second the motion!" shouted Douglass.
It was carried amid an uproar. If there were any present who
did not wish to see Dick thus reinstated, they were wise enough
to keep their opinions to themselves.
"Mr. Chairman!" shouted another voice over the hubbub.
"Mr. Mallory," replied the chair.
"I move that Messrs. Holmes and Anstey be appointed a committee
of two to go after Mr. Prescott and to bring him here---by force,
Amid a good deal of laughter this motion, too, was carried. The
two more than willing messengers departed on the run.
The class president rose, waving his right hand for utter silence.
Then, slowly and modestly, he said:
"I have greatly enjoyed the honor of being president of this class.
But I can no longer take pride in holding this office, for, in
common with the rest of you, I realize that I secured the honor
through a misapprehension. I therefore tender my resignation
as president of the first class."
"No, no, no!" shouted several.
"Thank you, gentlemen," replied Douglass with feeling. "I appreciate
it all, but I feel that I have no longer any right to the presidency
of the class, and I therefore resign it---renounce it! Gentlemen,
comrades, will you do me the favor of accepting my resignation at
"On account of the form in which the request is put," said Durville,
as soon as he had secured the chair's recognition, "I move that
our president's resignation be accepted in the same good faith in
which it is offered."
"Thank you, Durry, old man!" called Douglass in a low voice.
A seconder was promptly obtained. Then Chairman Fullerton put
the motion. There were cries of "too bad," but no dissenting
In the meantime Greg and Anstey all but broke down a door in their
effort to reach Dick quickly.
"Come on, old chap!" called Greg, pouncing upon his chum. "It's
all off! Savvy? We have orders to drag you to class meeting, if
force be necessary. Come on the jump!"
"Won't I, though?" cried Dick, seizing his fatigue cap and hurrying
on his uniform overcoat.
A smaller mind might have insisted on taking slowly the request
from the class that had unintentionally done him such an injustice.
But Cadet Prescott was made of broader, nobler stuff. He realized
that, without exception, the manly fellows in his class were heartily
glad to do him justice, now that they knew how blameless he had
been. Dick was as anxious to meet his class as they were to reinstate
So he hurried along between the jubilant Holmes and Anstey.
The meeting had just quieted down again by the time that the three
cadets entered the room.
But in an instant Halsey was on his feet, regardless of rules of
"Give old ramrod the long corps yell!" he shouted.
With hardly the pause of a second it came, and never had it sounded
sweeter, truer, grander than when some hundred powerful young
throats sent forth the refrain:
_"Rah, rah, ray! Rah, rah, ray! West Point, West Point, Armee
Ray, ray, ray! U.S.M.A.!_"
Dick Prescott's chest began to heave, though he strove to conceal
all emotion. It was sweet, indeed, to have all this enthusiasm over
him, after he had so long been the innocent outcast of the class.
Tears shone in either eye. Ashamed to raise a hand to brush the
moisture away, Dick tried to wink them out of sight.
But Douglass, Durville and the others gave him no time to think.
They came crowding about him faster than they could reach him,
each with outstretched hand.
Little was said. Soldiers are proverbially silent, preferring
deeds to words. So, for nearly ten minutes, the handshaking proceeded.
At last Douglass, with a warning nod and several gestures, brought
the temporary chairman to his senses.
Rap! rap! rap! rang the gavel on the desk.
"The class will please come to order," called Chairman Fullerton.
"Now, gentlemen, is there any further business to come before
"Mr. Chairman," called Douglass, "I move that we proceed to the
election of a class president."
"Second the motion," cried Durville.
The motion was carried with a rush.
"Mr. Chairman!" called the tireless ex-class president.
"Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am going to make a mistake that
has become time honored among public speakers, that of telling
you what you already know as well as I do. This is that Mr. Prescott
ought never to have been deposed from the class presidency. I
move, therefore, sir, that we rectify our stupidity and blindness
by making Mr. Prescott once more our president. I beg, sir, to
place in nomination for the class presidency the name of Richard
Prescott, first class, U.S.M.A."
"I second the nomination, suh!" boomed out the voice of Anstey.
"Other nominations for the class presidency are in order," announced
Again silence fell.
"Since there are no more nominations, I move you, sir, that Mr.
Prescott be elected president of this class by acclamation."
"Sir, I second the motion," came from Durville's throat.
There was wild glee as a volley of "ayes" was fired.
"Those of a contrary mind will say 'no,'" requested the chair.
Not a "no" could be heard.
"The chair will now withdraw, after appointing Mr. Douglass, Mr.
Durville, Mr. Holmes and Mr. Anstey a committee of honor to escort
the new-old class president to the chair."
While the little procession was in motion the windowpanes rattled
more than ever, with the long corps yell for Prescott.
The instant his hand touched the gavel, Dick rapped for order.
"Gentlemen of the first class," he said quietly, "I thank you
all. Little more need be said. I am sure that mere words cannot
express my great happiness at being here. I will not deny that
I have felt the injustice of the cloud that has hung over me for
the last few months. Anyone of you would have felt it under the
same circumstances. But it is past---forgotten, and I know how
happy you all are that the truth has been discovered."
There was a moment's silence. Then Dick asked, as he had so often
"Is there any further business to come before the class meeting?"
"A motion to adjourn is in order."
The motion was put, offered and carried. Dick Prescott stepped down
from the platform, a man restored to his birthright of esteem from
FINDING THE BASEBALL GAIT
"Morning, old ramrod!"
Never had greeting a sweeter sound than when Dick strolled about in
the quadrangle after breakfast the next morning.
Scores who, for months, had looked straight past Prescott when
meeting him, now stopped to speak, or else nodded in a friendly
Twenty minutes later, the sections were marching off into the
academic building, in the never-ceasing grind of recitations.
"Prescott," declared Durville, during the after-dinner recreation
period, "we want you to come around to show what you can do at
baseball. We've some good, armor-proof material for the squad,
but we need a lot more. And we want Holmesy, too. Bring him
around with you, won't you?"
"If he'll come," nodded Dick.
"He must come. But you'll hold yourself ready, anyway, won't you?"
"I'd hate to go in without Greg," replied Dick. "He and I generally
work together in anything we attempt."
"That was just the kick Holmesy made when you---when things were
different," corrected the captain of the Army nine hastily.
"Well, you see, 'Durry,' we were always chums back in the good old
High School days. We always played together, then, in any game,
and either of us would feel lonesome now without the other."
"Oh, of course," nodded Durville. "Well, I'll see Holmesy and
try to round him up, if you say so."
"I think I can get him to come around," smiled Dick. "But you
may be tremendously disappointed in both of us."
"Can you play ball as well as Holmesy?"
"Perhaps; nearly, I guess."
"Then we surely do need you both, for we've seen Holmesy toy with
the ball, and we know where he'd rate. Do you think you play
baseball at the same gait that you do football, old ramrod?"
"I think it's possible that I do," Dick half admitted slowly.
"Always modest, aren't you?" laughed "Durry" good humoredly.
"Somehow, Prescott, it seems almost impossible to think of you
heading a charge, or graduating number one in your class. You'd
be too much afraid that someone else wanted either honor."
Prescott laughed good humoredly. Then, dropping his voice, he
went on very gravely:
"Durry, you've behaved very nicely to me in more ways than one,
after that time when I necessarily reported you. Are you sure
that you wholly overlooked my act."
"Glad you asked me, Prescott. I've come to realize that you did
your full duty, and the only thing you could do as the captain
of my company. But I was terribly upset that night. Nothing but
a matter of the first importance would ever have driven me to slip
into 'cits.' and sneak off the post in that fashion."
"I can quite believe that," nodded Dick.
"Well, it---it was a girl, of course," confessed "Durry."
"You know, cadets have a habit of being interested in girls, and
this girl means everything to me. She's up in Newburgh, and was
ill. I thought she was more ill than she really was. But I knew
that I could hardly get official permission to go and see her,
so---so I chanced it and went without leave. I wouldn't have
done such a thing under any other circumstances."
"Did the young lady recover?" asked Prescott with deep interest.
"Oh, yes; I dragged her to the hop the other night. She was stepping
around the hall with another fellow, for one of the dances, and
that was how I came to be out in the air alone. But I'll look
for both you and Holmesy at practice this afternoon," ended "Durry,"
"Go to a diamond try-out?" asked Greg when Dick broached the subject.
"Of course I will, and crazy over the chance. All that has held me
back so far, old ramrod, was the fact that you hadn't been invited.
But now that has all been changed."
When the diamond squad reported, Lieutenant Lawrence, the head
baseball coach, ordered the young men outdoors to the field.
"Come over here, please, Prescott and Holmes," called the coach,
who had been conferring in low tones with "Durry."
"What positions do you two feel that you would be at your best in?"
"Why, we have conceit enough, sir, to think that we might make
at least a half-way battery," smiled Dick.
"Battery, eh?" repeated Lieutenant Lawrence. "Good enough! Get
out and do it. Durville, you're one of the real batsmen. Run
out there to the home plate, and see whether Prescott and Holmes
can put anything past you."
How good it felt to be in field clothes again! And both Greg
and Dick wore on the breasts of their sweaters the Army "A," won
by making the football eleven the year before.
Dick fingered the ball carefully while Greg was trotting away
to place behind the home plate. Lieutenant Lawrence went more
deliberately, but took his place where the umpire would have stood
in a game.
"What kind of a ball do you like best, Durry?" asked Prescott,
"A medium slow one, close to the end of the stick, about here,"
"I'll try to give you something else, then," chuckled Dick.
And give the batsman something else was just what he did.
Crack! Durville swatted the ball. It rose steeply at first,
then sailed away gracefully towards the clouds.
"Get a fresh ball!" shouted one member of the training squad.
"That leather isn't going to come down again!"
It did, though a scout had to run far afield to pick it up.
Lieutenant Lawrence didn't look exactly disappointed, but he had
hoped to see something better than this had been.
Five more Dick pitched in, and of these "Durry" put his mark on
"That will be enough to-day, I guess, Mr. Prescott," remarked
Lieutenant Lawrence in an even voice.
Poor Dick flushed, but was about to turn away from the pitcher's
box when Durville turned to the Army coach.
"If you really don't mind, sir, I'd like to see Prescott throw
in a few more. He hasn't held a ball in his hands for a long
time, and I think he has only been warming up."
"If you really think it worth while," nodded the lieutenant.
Then, raising his voice:
"We'll have you try just a few more, Prescott. Try to astonish
Greg, whose face had flushed with mortification, now crouched
a bit, sending Dick one of the old-time signals. Holmes was not
even sure his chum would remember the signal.
It is doubtful if anyone noticed the return that Dick sent back to
show that he understood.
Durville took a good grip on his stick, his alert gaze on the man
in the box.
With hardly a trace of flourish Dick let the ball go. On it came,
not very swift and straight over the plate. "Durry" himself felt
a sinking of the heart that. Dick should let such an easy one
Yet Durville had his own work to do honestly. He must pound this
easy one and drive it as far as he could.
Durville swung and let go. But just as he did so---that ball
It passed on a level two feet below the swinging stick, and Greg,
with a quiet grin, neatly mitted it.
"Good!" muttered Coach Lawrence under his breath. "Got any more
like that, Prescott?" he called.
"I think I have a few, sir, when I get my arm warmed up and limbered,"
"Take your time, then. Don't knock your arm out of shape."
Again Greg was signaling, though the signal was so difficult to
catch that many of the onlookers wondered if Holmes really had
Again Durville had fanned truly, though nothing but air. The
outshoot had seemed to spring lazily around, just out of reach
of the end of his stick.
Now, every member of the squad, and all of the spectators were
beginning to take keen notice.
"Slowly, Prescott. Take your time between," admonished Lieutenant
Lawrence, who knew how easily a pitcher out of training might
wrench his muscles and go stale for several days.
Greg had signaled for what had once been one of his chum's best---a
modification of the "jump ball" that had cost this young pitcher
much hard study and arm-strain.
As Dick stood ready to let go of the ball he seemed inclined to
dawdle over it. It wasn't going to be one of his snappiest---any
onlooker could judge that, at least, so it seemed.
Even Durville was fooled, though he did not let up much in the way
Now the ball came on, with not much speed or steam behind it.
Durville took a good look, made some calculation for possible
deception, then made his swing with the stick.
Slightly forward Durville had to bend, in order to get low enough
to make the crack.
As his bat swished half lazily through the air, Durville "ducked"
suddenly, for the upbounding ball had gone so close to his ear
as to seem bent on removing some of the skin off that member.
Greg, who had been stooping, was up in time to mit the ball.
Then Durville, his face flushing, heard Holmes chuckle.
"One or two more, if you like, sir," called Dick, facing the coach.
"But I think, sir, I'd better be in finer trim before I do too
much tossing in one afternoon."
"You've done enough, Prescott," cried Lieutenant Lawrence, stepping
forward and resting one hand cordially on Dick's shoulder.
"Train with us for a fortnight, and you'll take all the hide off
of the Navy's mascot goat."
There was a laugh from the members of the squad who stood within
hearing. But, as Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes walked over to
the side of the field they were greeted by a cheer from all who
had watched their performance.
"I'm very glad you asked for a further trial for Prescott," murmured
Lieutenant Lawrence to the captain of the Army nine.
"I thought you would be, sir," Durville replied.
"We have a line-up, after these two men have been trained into
shape, that will make one of the strongest Army nines in a generation."
"We'd have tanned the Navy last year, sir," ventured Durville, "if
we had known what material we had in Prescott and Holmes, and had
been able to get them out."
At cadet mess that evening the talk ran high with joy. West Point
was sure it had found its baseball gait!
READY FOR THE ARMY-NAVY GAME
In between times, in the strenuous hours that followed, Dick found
the time, somehow, to write two letters of moment.
One was to his mother, the other to Laura Bentley. In both he
told how the last bar to his happiness in the Army had been removed.
Yet Dick did not go very deeply into details. He merely explained
that the class had discovered, on indisputable evidence, that
he had been dealt with unjustly. He made it plain, however, that
he was now again in high favor with his class, and that he had
even been honored by reelection to the class presidency.
"Greg, you send Dave Darrin a short note for me, will you?" begged
Dick, as he toiled away at the missive to Laura. "Old Dave will
want only the bare facts; that will be enough for him. He'll
cheerfully wait for details until some time when we're all graduated
and meet in the service."
Dave Darrin's reply was short, but characteristic:
"Of course dear old Dick came through all right! He's the kind
of fellow that always does and always must come through all
right---otherwise there'd be no particular use in being manly."
No word came from the missing Jordan. Truth to tell, no one seemed
to care, outside of the young man's father. It is rare, indeed,
that a cadet deserts, and when he does, unless he has taken government
property with him, no effort is made to find him.
By the end of the week, Dick Prescott was the hope of the Army nine,
as he had once been of the eleven.
A cadet is always in condition. His daily training keeps him there.
So Dick had only to give his arm a little extra work, increasing
it some each day.
"Do you think I'm going to be in satisfactory shape, sir?" Dick
asked the Army coach Friday afternoon.
"If something doesn't happen to you, Prescott, you're going to
be the strongest, speediest pitcher I've ever seen on the Army
nine," replied Lieutenant Lawrence.
"Isn't that saying a good deal, sir?"
"Yes; but you're the sort of athlete that one may say a great
deal about," replied Lieutenant Lawrence, with a confident smile.
"And Mr. Holmes is very nearly as good a man as you are."
"I always thought him fully as good, even better," replied Prescott.
"There isn't much to choose between you," admitted coach. "I wish
we could always look for such men on our Army teams."
"You can one of these days, sir."
"When will that day come?"
"It will come, sir, when public-spirited citizens everywhere go in
strongly for athletics in the High Schools, as they did in the town
where Holmes and I received our earlier training."
The letter from Cadet Prescott's mother came almost by return
mail. She had never for a moment lost faith, she wrote, that
all would come out right with her boy, and she was heartily glad
that her faith had been justified. She was sorry, indeed, for
that unfortunate other cadet whose enmity for Dick had been his
own undoing in the long run.
It was some days later when Laura's letter reached the now eager
pitcher of the Army nine.
Now that letter was cordial enough in every way, and Laura made
no secret of her delight and of her pride in her friend.
"Yet there's something lacking here," murmured Prescott uneasily,
as he read the letter through once more. "What is it? Laura
writes as if she were trying to show more reserve with me than
she did once. What is the matter? Has she cooled toward me at
just the time when I shall soon be able to offer her my name and
The thought was torment. Nor, of course, did Dick fail to remember
all about that prosperous and agreeable Gridley merchant, Leonard
Cameron, who, for upwards of two years, had been one of Miss Bentley's
most devoted admirers.
"I suppose he's the kind of fellow who is calculated to please
a woman," mused Dick with a sinking at heart. "And Cameron has
had the great advantage of being right on the spot all the time.
Moreover, he has had his future mapped out for him, while I wasn't
assured about my own, and he hasn't been afraid to speak. Great
Scott, I must wait until the night of the graduation ball before
I can speak and find out how the land lies for me. But is Laura
coming to that hop?"
Again Dick ran hastily through the letter. Yet, look as he would,
he could find no allusion of Laura's to coming on for the Graduation
"What an idiot I am!" growled Prescott to himself. "I'm certain
I forgot to ask her, in my last letter. If I did, it was solely
because I've always been so sure that she'd be on here for
graduation week as a matter of course."
After pacing his room for a few moments, Dick sat down and wrote
feverishly back to Laura Bentley, asking her if she were coming
on for graduation and the hop.
"I've always looked forward to having you here as a matter of
course on that great occasion," Dick penned, "so I'm not very
certain that I have made the invitation as explicit as I've meant
to. But you'll come, won't you, Laura? It would be a poor graduation
for me, without your face in the throng, for the others will be
strangers to me. Won't you please write promptly and set my mind
at ease on this vital point?"
In three days Laura's answer came. Unless unavoidably prevented
she would be on hand during a part of graduation week.
"And I certainly want to attend the graduation hop," Laura added,
"for it will probably be the only one that I shall ever have a
chance to attend."
"Now, what does she mean by that last statement?" pondered Dick,
finding new cause for worry. "Does she mean that she expects
to cut the Army after this year? Is she really planning to marry
that fellow Cameron? Gracious, how time has flown during these
hurried years at West Point! For two years past Laura has been
fully old enough to wed! What a folly she'd commit in waiting
all these years for backward me to get ready to open my lips!
Yes; I guess it's going to be Cameron."
Cadet Prescott compressed his lips grimly, but he was soldier
enough to be game and face the music.
"I've got to be patient a few weeks more, and take the chances,"
Dick told himself, as he scurried away to daily ball practice.
"With a rival in the field I wouldn't dare, anyway, to trust
my fate to a pleading set down on paper. But I'll send Laura
a letter once a week now, anyway. She may guess from that, as
graduation approaches, that I am sending my thoughts more and
more in her direction."
With the bravery of which he was so capable, Dick ceased his worry
about his sweetheart as much as he could, and threw his leisure
hours heartily into his work in the ball squad.
It will not be possible to describe the games of the season in
detail. There were twenty scheduled games in all, though three
were called off on account of rain. The Army won twelve out of
sixteen games played with college teams. Dick and Greg were the
battery in the heaviest nine of the winning games, and in one
of the games lost.
Prescott and Holmes had no difficulty in putting up a game that
has sent them down in history as being the best Army battery to
But the Navy, that year, had an exceptionally fine team, too,
with Dave Darrin and Dalzell for its star battery.
"This is the game we've got to win, fellows," called out Durville
earnestly, two days before the Annapolis nine was due at West
Point in the latter part of May. "We've done finely this year,
better than we had hoped. But, after all, what is it to beat
every other college, and then have to go down before the Navy in
defeat at the end?"
"Who says we're going down in defeat?" grumbled Greg.
"If you say we're not, you and Prescott, then you can do a lot
to hearten us up," continued Durville, with a sharp glance at the
star battery pair.
"See here, old ramrod, you know all about that Annapolis battery,"
broke in Hackett, of the nine. "What about them as ball players?
I understand you went to school with Darrin and Dalzell. Do
that pair play ball the way they do football?"
"Yes," nodded Dick. "If anything, they play baseball better."
"But you and Holmesy put them out at football. Can't you do it
on the diamond, too?" insisted Hackett.
"I hope so, but Greg and I will feel a lot more like bragging,
possibly, after we've played the game through. There isn't much
brag about us now, eh, Greg?"
"Not much," confessed Greg. "And you fellows want to remember
that old ramrod and I are to play only two out of the nine positions.
Don't depend on us to play the whole game for the Army."
"Of course not," agreed Hackett, perhaps a bit tartly. "But if
the other seven of us were wonders we'd stand no show unless we
had a battery that can do up these awful ogres of the Navy nine."
"Oh, you're better than the Navy battery, aren't you, old ramrod?"
"No, we're not," replied Dick slowly, thoughtfully.
"Don't tell us that the salt-water catcher and pitcher are ahead
of you two!" protested Durville with new anxiety.
"If either crowd is better, they're likely to be It," murmured Dick.
Thereupon all in the dressing room wheeled to take a look at Greg.
But young Holmes nodded his head in confirmation.
"Don't talk that way," pleaded Beckwith.
"You'll have us all scared cold before we touch foot to the field
day after to-morrow."
"Just what I said," grumbled Greg. "Some of the fellows on the
Army nine expect two men who are not above the average to win the
From all private and newspaper accounts many of the West Point
fans were inclined to the belief that the Navy outpointed the
Army in the matter of battery. It had been so the year before
when, as readers of "_Dave Darrin's Third Year At Annapolis_" will
recall, the Navy had succeeded in carrying the game away with
neatness and despatch.
"You young men have simply got to hustle and keep cool. That's
all you can do," urged Lieutenant Lawrence. "We haven't had so
good a nine in years. Whatever you do, don't lie down at the
last moment, and give up to the Navy the only game of the year that
is really worth winning."
Then came two hard afternoons of practice. Every onlooker watched
Dick and Greg closely, anxious to make sure that neither young man
was going stale.
With each added hour it must be confessed that anxiety at West
Point rose another notch.
Then came the day of the game. Even the tireless and merciless
instructors over in the Academic Building eased up a bit on the
cadets that day, if ever the instructors did such a thing.
The Annapolis nine arrived before one o'clock and was promptly
taken to dinner.
All that forenoon, the factions had been gathering.
Most of the visitors, to be sure, came to "root" for the Army,
though there were not wanting several good-sized crowds that came
to cheer and urge the Navy young men on to victory.
By noon there were three thousand outsiders on the West Point
reservation. Afternoon trains, stages and automobiles brought
crowds after that. By three o'clock everyone that expected to
see the game had arrived. There were now nine thousand people
on the grandstands and along the sides.
"Nine?" repeated Durville in the dressing room, when the word
was brought to him. "Five thousand used to be about the usual
crowd, I believe. Old ramrod, you and Holmesy are surely responsible
for the other four thousand. Darrin and Dalzell can't have done
it all, for the Navy always travels light on baggage when headed
this way. Yes, you and Holmesy have dragged the crowd in."
"Quit your joshing," muttered Greg, who was bending over his shoe
"Yes; cut it. We can stand it better after the game," laughed Dick.
"Get your men out in five minutes more, Durville," called Lieutenant
Lawrence, looking in. "The Navy fellows have been on the field
ten minutes already. You want to limber up your men a bit before
game is called."
Already the sound had reached dressing quarters of the visiting
fans cheering for the Navy.
In three minutes more the cheering ascended with four times as
much volume, for now Durville marched the picked Army nine on
to the field, and the fans on the stands caught sight of these
trim young soldiers.
"I've got a hunch you'll do it for us to-day," whispered Beckwith
in Prescott's ear.
"Look out. A little hunch is a dangerous thing," retorted Dick,
with a grim smile.
DAN DALZELL'S CRABTOWN GRIN
Six minutes later, the umpire called the captains to the home
plate for the toss.
"There they are---the same old chums!" cried Dick, hitting Greg
Darrin and Dalzell, of the Navy nine, had been trying to catch the
eyes of the Army battery.
Now the four old chums raced together to a point midway between
pitcher's box and home plate. There they met and clasped each
"The same old pair, I know!" cried Dave Darrin heartily.
"And we think as much of you two as ever, even if you are in the
poor old Army," grinned Dan. "We've come all the way up from
Crabtown to teach you how to play ball. The knowledge will probably
prove useful to you some day."
"Why, Dick," protested Holmes in mock astonishment, "these cabin
boys seem to think they can really play ball!"
"And all I'm afraid of is that they can," laughed Dick.
"Can't we, though---just!" mocked Dan, dancing a brief little step.
"Wait until you take a stick to our work, and then see where
"Cut it, Danny, little lion-fighter, cut it!" warned Dave Darrin,
with quiet good nature. "You know what they tell us all the time,
down at Crabtown---that 'brag never scuttled a fighting ship yet.'
"Dave, you don't expect Danny to believe that, do you?" asked
Greg, grinning hard. "Danny never went into anything that he
didn't try to win by scaring the other side cold. If our instructors
here know what they're talking about, hot air isn't necessarily
fatal to the enemy."
"I can tell you one thing, anyway," chipped in Dan, while the
other three grinned indulgently at him.
"Yes; you have it straight that this is to be the Army's game,"
mocked Greg. "But we knew that before we saw you to-day."
"There goes our joy-killer," grunted Prescott, as the umpire's
shrill whistle sounded in. "Dave, we'll be in the Navy's dressing
room just as soon as-----"
"Just as soon as this cruel war is over," hummed Dan.
The toss having been won by the Navy, the captain of that nine
had chosen to go to bat.
Now the players on both sides were scattering swiftly to their
Dick took but a bound or two back to the box, just as the umpire
broke the package around the new ball and tossed it to the Army
It was on, with a rush, and a cheer, led by some eight measures
of music from the Military Academy Band, which had been quiet for
a few minutes.
Then the cheer settled down, for Prescott found himself facing Dan
Dalzell at the bat, with Darrin on deck.
"Wipe 'em!" signaled Greg's antics.
Now, to "wipe" Dalzell, who had known everyone of Dick's old curves
and tricks in former days, did not look like a promising task,
for Dalzell, in addition to his special knowledge about this pitcher,
was an expert with the bat. But there might be a chance to put
Dan on the mourner's bench. If Dalzell succeeded in picking up
even a single from Dick's starting delivery, then Dave could be
all but depended upon to push his Navy chum a bag or two further
around the course.
"If I can twist Dan all up, it may serve to rattle Dave, too,"
thought the Army pitcher like a flash.
Dalzell poised the bat, and stood swinging it gently, with an
expectant grin that, had it been a school audience, would have made
the youngsters on the bleachers yell:
"Get your face closed tight, Danny! That grin hides the stick!"
Dalzell had often had that hurled at him in the old days, but he
did not have to dread it now. But Prescott knew that old broad
grin. It was Dalzell's favorite "rattler" for the balltosser.
"I think I know the scheme for getting the hair off your goat,"
mused Prescott, as he sent in his first.
"Ball one!" called the umpire.
Dan's grin broadened.
Dalzell knew he had the Army pitcher going now, and didn't take
the trouble to reach for the ball.
That took some of the starch out of the Navy batsman, who suddenly
realized that this twirler for the Army was up to old tricks.
Dan was sure he had that one, and he missed it only by an inch.
Gone, now, was the grin on Dalzell's face. A frown gathered between
his eyes as he took harder hold of the stick and waited.
Nor did Prescott keep him long waiting. The ball came in, and
Dan gauged it fairly well. Yet he fanned for the third time.
Dan hesitated an almost imperceptible instant at the plate. Swift
as lightning he made a wry little mouth at Prescott. It nearly
broke Dick up with laughter as Dalzell stalked moodily to the
bench and Dave stepped forward.
In fact, the Army pitcher choked and shook so that Durville called
to him in a quiet, anxious voice from shortstop's beat:
"Anything wrong, ramrod?"
None of the spectators heard this, but most of them saw Dick's
short, vigorous shake of the head as he palmed the ball.
Then he let it go, for Darrin was waiting, and in grand old Dave's
eyes flashed the resolve to retrieve what had just been taken from
"Darry can't lose, anyway. He'll take the conceit out of these
Army hikers," predicted some of the knowing ones among the Navy
Though not sure, Dave had expected this, and did not try keenly
for Dick's first delivery, which, as he knew of old, was seldom
of this pitcher's best.
Then came what looked like a high ball. Of old, this had been
the poorest sort for Darrin to bit, and Dick seemed to remember
it. But Darrin had changed with the years, and he felt a swift
little jolt of amusement as he swung for that high one.
Just about three feet away from the plate, however, that ball
took a most unexpected drop, and passed on fully eighteen inches
under the swing of Darrin's stick.
At the next Darrin's judgment forbade him to offer, but the umpire
judged it a fair ball, and called:
Dalzell, on the bench, was leaning forward now, his chin plunged
in between his hands.
"Dick Prescott hasn't lost any of his knack for surprises," muttered
Danny. "And if we, who know his old tricks, can't fathom him at
all, what are the other seven of us going to do?"
As the ball arched slowly back into Dick's hands, Dalzell, in
his anxiety, found himself leaping to his feet.
And now Prescott pitched, in answer to Greg's signal, what looked
like a coming jump ball.
Dave Darrin knew that throw, and was ready. In another instant
he could have dropped with chagrin, for the ball, after all, was
another "drop," and Greg Holmes had mitted it for the Army in
tune to the umpire's:
"Strike three-out! Two out!"
"David, little giant, your hand!" begged Dalzell, in a fiery whisper
as his chum reached the bench.
"What's up?" asked Darrin half suspiciously.
"Agree with me, now---make deep and loud the solemn vow that we'll
use Dick and Greg just as they've treated us!"
"We will, if we can," nodded Darrin, more serious than his chum.
"But I always try to tell you, Danny boy, that it's best not to do
your bragging until after you've scuttled your ship."
Just as Dave had stepped away from the plate, Hutchins, the little
first baseman of the Navy, had bounded forward.
Hutchins was wholly cool, and had keen eye for batting. He hoped,
despite what he had heard of Prescott's cleverness, to send Navy
spirits booming by at least a two-bagger.
Prescott had not wasted any moments, this time, and Hutchins was
caught unawares. The little first baseman flushed and a steely
look came into his eyes.
At the next one he struck, but it came across the plate as an
out-shoot that was just too far out for Hutchins's reach. Had
he not offered it would have been a "called ball."
With two strikes called against him, and nothing moving, Hutchins
felt the ooze coming out of his neck and forehead. The Navy had
been playing grand ball that spring. It would never do to let the
Army get too easy a start.
But Dick poised, twirled and let go. It was a straight-away,
honest and fair ball that he sent. To be sure there was a trace
of in-shoot about it that made Hutchins misjudge it so that, in
the next instant, the passionless umpire sounded the monotonous
"Strike three---and out. Side out!"
From the Navy seats dead calm, but from the band came a blare
of brass and a clash of drums and cymbals as the cheering started.
In an instant, out of all the hubbub, came the long corps yell
from the cadets, ending with:
Sweet music, indeed, to the Army battery. But Greg heard it on
the wing, so to speak, for at the changing of the sides he had
hastened forward, so as to pass Dan Dalzell:
"Danny boy, after the game, I want you to do something big for
me," whispered Cadet Holmes.
"Surely," murmured Dalzell. "What shall it be?"
"I think I know how you get that grin of yours, that conquering
grin on your face, but I wish you'd show me how you make it stick!"
"Call you out for that some day," hissed Dalzell, as, with heightened
color, he made his way to catcher's post of duty behind the plate.
Dave Darrin received the ball, and handled it, after the ways
of his kind, for a few seconds, to detect any irregularities there
might be to its surface or any flaws in its roundness.
"Play ball!" called the umpire.
With Beckwith holding the stick, and Durville on deck, Dick had
time to do what he was most anxious to do---to make a study of
any new things that Darrin might have learned.
Dave appeared to be fully warmed at the start. "Strike one!"
called the umpire, though Beckwith had not dared offer.
Dick began to see light. Dave was in fine form, and was sending
them in with such terrific speed that it was barely possible to
gauge them. That style of pitching carried big hopes for a Navy
WHEN THE ARMY FANS WINCED
As Darrin sent in the third ball Beckwith made a desperate sweep for
it. It was not to be his, however.
"Three strikes! Striker out!"
That broad grin had come back to Dan Dalzell's face, as he held up
the neatly mitted ball for an instant, then hurled it lazily back
to Dave Darrin.
Now, Durville came to bat, and the captain of the Army nine was
an accurate and hard hitter.
Then came a slight swish of willow against leather. Durville
had at last succeeded in just touching the ball. But it was a
foul hit, and that was all. Dan, however, was not out at the
side in time to pick that foul into his own mitten.
Durville, his face somewhat pale and teeth clenched, stood ready
for his last chance. It came, in one of Darrin's trickiest throws.
It was no use, after all. Durville missed, and Dalzell didn't.
"Strike three---striker out!"
"Prescott, you know that Navy fellow! Go after him---hammer him
all the way down the river!" groaned Durville in a low voice as
Dick came forward.
Dan's quick ears heard, however, and his grin broadened. Well
enough Dalzell knew that Darrin had a lot of box tricks secreted
that would fool even a Prescott.
But Dick was not to be rattled, at any rate. He picked up the
bat, "hefted" it briefly, then stepped up beside the plate, ready
in a few seconds after Durville had gone disconsolately back to
"I won't try to decipher Dave's deliveries; I'll judge them by
what they look like after the ball has started," swiftly decided
So fast did Prescott start when that fly popped, that he was nearly
half way to first base when he dropped his bat. It was only a
fly out to right field, but it was a swift one, and it struck
turf before the Navy fielder could hoof it to the spot. He caught
it up, whirled, and drove straight to first, but Prescott's toe
had struck the bag a fraction of a second before.
"Runner safe at first!" called the umpire quietly. Then the ball
went back to Dave, who now had a double task of alertness, for
Holmes held the bat at the plate, while Prescott was trying to
steal second. Well did Dave Darrin know the trickiness of both
these Army players!
Greg, too, was cool, though a good deal apprehensive. With him
the call stood at balls three and strikes two when Greg thought
he saw his real chance.
Swat! Greg struck with all his strength, and at the sound, a
cheer rose from the seats of the Army fans. But the ball was
lower than Greg had calculated, and after all his assault on the
leather had resulted only in a bunt.
Navy's pitcher took a few swift steps, then bent, straightened
up and sent the ball driving to first.
"Runner out at first!"
Then indeed a wail went up. What did it matter that Prescott
had reached second? Greg's disaster had put the side out. And
now the Navy came back to bat. In this half of the second, three
hits were taken out of Prescott's delivery, and at one time there
were two sailors on bases. Then the Navy went out to grass and
the Army marched in for a trial. This time, however, the Army
had neither Durville, Prescott nor Holmes at the plate, and with
these three best batters on the bench, Dave had the satisfaction
of striking the soldiers out in one, two, three.
In the third inning neither side scored. Then, in the fourth,
with two sailors out when he came to bat, Dalzell exploded a two-bagger
that brought the Navy to its feet on the benches, cheering and
hat-waving. By the time that Dan's flying feet had kicked the
first bag on the course Dave Darrin was holding the willow and
standing calmly by the plate, watching.
Two of Dick's offers, Dave let go by without heeding, one ball
and one strike being called. But Dave, though he looked sleepy,
was wholly alert. At the third offer he drove a straight, neat
little bunt that was left for the Army's second baseman. That
baseman had it in season to drive to Lanton, at Army first base.
But Dave had hit the bag first, and was safe, while Dan Dalzell
was making pleased faces over at third.
Now, a member of the Navy team slipped over to that side of the
diamond to coach Dan on his home-running. In addition to pitching,
Dick had to watch first and third bases, in which situation Dave
Darrin, with great impudence and coolness, stole second in between
On the faces of the Army fans, by this time, anxiety was written
in large letters. They had heard much about the Navy battery, but
not of its base-running qualities.
It was little Hutchins now again at the bat. His last time there
he had been struck out without trouble.
"But, it never does to be too positive that a fellow is a duffer,"
mused Prescott grimly, as he gripped the leather.
Just when little Hutchins seemed on the point of going to pieces
he misjudged one of Dick's puts so completely that he struck it,
by accident, a fearful crack. A cloud of dust marked the limits
of the diamond, while the air was filled with yells and howls.
When the dust cleared and the howls had subsided it was found
that Dalzell had loped in across the home plate, Darrin had come
along more swiftly and was in, while Hutchins touched the second
base an instant after the ball had nestled in Greg Holmes's Army
It mattered little that Earl, who came next to bat, struck out.
The Navy had pulled in two runs---the only runs scored so far!
In the other half the Army nine secured nothing.
In the fifth neither team scored. In the sixth the Navy scored
one more run. In the sixth Lanton, of the Army, got home with
a single run.
Thus, at the beginning of the seventh, the score stood at three
to one with the grin on the Naval face.
During the seventh inning nothing was scored. Now, the sailor
boys came to bat for the first half of the eighth, with a din
of Navy yells on the air. West Point's men came back with a sturdy
assortment of good old Military Academy yells, but the life was
gone out. The Army was proud of such men as Durville, Prescott,
Holmes, but admitted silently that Darrin and Dalzell appeared
to belong to a slightly better class of ball.
"It's our fault, too," muttered the Army coach, Lieutenant Lawrence,
to a couple of brother officers. "Darrin and Dalzell have been
training with the Navy nine for two years, while Prescott and
Holmes came in late this season. Even if they wouldn't play last
year, these two men of ours should have reported for the very
first day's work last February."
"Prescott couldn't do it," remarked Lieutenant Denton, who had just
joined the group.
"Why not, Denton?" asked Lieutenant Lawrence.
"He was in Coventry."
"Didn't you know that?" asked Denton.
"Not a word of it, though Durville once hinted to me that there
was some sort of reason why Prescott couldn't come in."
"There was---the Coventry," Denton replied. "But that trouble
blew over when the first classmen found themselves wrong in something
of which Jordan had accused Prescott."
"Humph!" growled Lieutenant Lawrence, in keen displeasure. "Then,
if we lose to-day, the first class can blame itself!"
"You think our battery pair better than the Navy's, then?" asked
"Our men would have been better, by a shade, anyway, had they
been as long in training. But as it is-----"
"As it is," supplied another officer in the group, "we are wiped
off the slate by the Navy, this year, and no one can know it better
than we do ourselves."
Just as the fortunes of war would have it, Dan Dalzell again stood
by the plate at the beginning of the eighth.
"Wipe off that smile, Danny boy," called Darrin softly.
But Dan only shook his head with a deepening grin which seemed
to declare that he found the Navy situation all to the good.
In fact, Dalzell felt such a friendly contempt for poor old Dick's
form by this time, that he cheerily offered at Dick's first.
Crack! That ball arched up for right field, and Dan, hurling
his bat, started to make tracks and time. Beckwith, however,
was out in right field, and knew what was expected of him. He
ran in under that dropping ball, held out his hands and gathered
Dick smiled quietly, almost imperceptibly, while Dan strolled
mournfully back to the bench. Then Prescott turned, bent on
annihilating his good old friend Darrin, if possible. In great
disgust, Dave struck out. The look on the Navy fan's faces could
be interpreted only as saying:
"Oh, well, we don't need runs, anyway!"
But when Hutchins struck out---one, two, three!---after as many
offers, Navy faces began to look more grave.
"Hold 'em down, Navy---hold 'em down!" rang the appeal from Navy
seats when the Army went to bat in the eighth.
Dick was first at bat now, with Greg on deck. As Prescott swung
the willow and eyed Darrin, there was "blood" in the Army pitcher's
Then Darrin gave a sudden gasp, for, at his first delivery, Dick
sized up the ball, located it, and punched it. That ball dropped
in center field just as Dick was turning the first bag. It sped
on, but Dick turned back from too big a risk.
But he looked at Greg, waiting idly at bat, and Holmes caught the
full meaning of that appealing look.
"It's now or never," growled Greg between his teeth. "It's seldom
any good to depend at all on the ninth inning."
Darrin, with a full knowledge of what was threatened to the Navy
by the present situation, tried his best to rattle Greg. And
one strike was called on Holmesy, but the second strike he called
himself by some loud talk of bat against leather. Then, while
the ball sped into right field, Greg ran after it, stopping, however,
at first bag, while Prescott sprinted down to second bag, kicked
it slightly, and came back to it.
It was up to Lanton, of the Army, now! In this crisis the Army
first baseman either lacked true diamond nerve, or else he could
not see Darrin's curves well, for Lanton took the call of two
strikes before he was awarded called balls enough to permit him
to lope contentedly away to first. This advanced both Dick and
Bases full---no outs! Three runs needed!
This was the throbbing situation that confronted Cadet Carter
as he picked up an Army bat and stood by the plate, facing the
"wicked" and well-nigh invincible Darrin of the Navy!
THE VIVID FINISH OF THE GAME
On both sides of the field, every one was standing on seats.
Even the cadets had risen to their feet, every man's eye turned
on the diamond, while the cadet cheer-master danced up and down,
ready to spring the yell of triumph if only Carter and the player
on deck could give the chance.
Lieutenant Lawrence wiped his perspiring face and neck. The coach
probably suffered more than any other man on the field. It was his
work that had prepared for this supreme game of the whole diamond
Over at third base Cadet Prescott danced cautiously away, yet every
now and then stole nearly back. Dick was never going to lose a
scored run through carelessness.
"Now, good old Carter, can't you?" groaned Durville, as the Army
batsman went forward to the plate.
"Durry, I'll come home with my shield, or on it," muttered Carter,
with set teeth and white lips as he went to pick up the bat that
he was to swing.
Carter was not one of the best stick men of the Army baseball
outfit, but there is sometimes such a thing as batting luck.
For this, Carter prayed under his breath.
Darrin, of course, was determined to baffle this strong-hope man
of West Point. He sent in one of his craftiest outshoots. For a
wonder, Carter guessed it, and reached out for it---but missed.
"Strike two!" followed almost immediately from the placid's umpire's
Everyone who hoped for the Army was trembling now.
Dan Dalzell did some urgent signaling. In response, Darrin took an
extra hard twist around the leather, unwound, unbent and let go.
_Crack_! Batter's luck, and nothing else!
"Carter, Carter, Carter!" broke loose from the mouths of half a
thousand gray-clad cadets, and the late anxious batter was sprinting
for all there was in him.
Just to right of center field, and past, went the ball---a good
old two-bagger for any player that could run.
From third Dick came in at a good jog, but he did not exert himself.
He had seen how long it must take to get the ball in circulation.
As for Holmes, he hit a faster pace. He turned on steam, just
barely touching third as he turned with no thought of letting
up this side of the home plate.
Lanton made third---he had to, for Carter was bent on kicking
the second bag in time.
Had there been another full second to spare Carter would have
made it. But Navy center field judged that it would be far easier
to put Carter out than to play that trick on Lanton, since the
latter had but ninety feet to run, anyway.
So Carter was out, but Lanton was hanging at third, crazy with
eagerness to get in.
It all hung on Lanton now. If he got across the home plate in
time enough it would give the Army the lead by one run. At this
moment the score was tied---three to three!
"Get out there and coach Lantin, old ramrod," begged "Durry,"
and Dick was off, outside of the foul line, his eye on Dave Darrin
and on every other living figure of the Navy nine.
It was Holden up, now, and, though the cadets on the grandstand
looked at Carter briefly, with praise in their eyes for his two-bagger
that had meant two runs, the eyes of the young men in gray swiftly
roved over by the plate, to keep full track of Holden's performance.
But Holden struck out, and Army hopes sank. Tyrrell came in to
the plate, and on him hung the last hope. If he failed, Army
fans would be near despair.
Dave Darrin was beginning to feel the hot pace a bit, for in this
inning he had exerted himself more than in any preceding one.
However, that was all between Darrin and himself. Not another
player on the field guessed how glad Dave would be for the end
of the game. Yet he steeled himself, and sent in swift, elusive
ones for Tyrrell to hit.
Swat! Tyrrell landed a blow against the leather, at the last
chance that he had at it. It was a bunt, but Navy's shortstop
simply couldn't reach it in time to pick it up without the slightest
fumble. That delay brought Lanton home and over the plate.
How the plain resounded with cheers! For now the Army led by
a single run, and Tyrrell was safe at first.
Jackson up, with Beckwith on deck. There was hope of further
Yet no keen disappointment was felt when Jackson struck out.
In from pasture trooped the Navy men, eager to retrieve all in
"Fit to stay in the box, old ramrod?" anxiously asked "Durry,"
as the nines changed.
"Surely," nodded Dick.
"Don't stick it out, unless you know you can do the trick," insisted
the Army captain earnestly.
"I'm just in feather!" smiled Dick.
Greg, too, had been a bit anxious; but when the first ball over
the plate stung his one unmitted hand, Holmes concluded that Prescott
did not need to be helped out of the box just at that time.
Then followed something which came so fast that the spectators all
but rubbed their eyes.
One after another Dick Prescott struck out three Navy batsmen.
Greg Holmes made this splendid work perfect by not letting anything
That wound up the game, for Navy had not scored in the ninth, and
the rules forbade the Army nine to go again to bat to increase a
score that already stood at four to three.
Instantly the Academy band broke loose. Yet above it all dinned
the cheers of the greater part of the nine thousand spectators
As soon as the band stopped the corps yell rose, with the names
of Durville, Prescott and Holmes, and of Carter whose batting luck
had played such a part in the eighth.
But, by the time that the corps yell rose the Army nine was nearly
off the field.
"Listen to the good noise, old ramrod," glowed Greg.
"It's the last time we'll ever hear the corps yell for any work
we do in West Point athletics," went on Greg mournfully.
"I know it," sighed Dick. "If we ever hear cheers for us again,
we'll have to win the noise by a gallant charge, or something
"In the Army," replied Greg, choking somewhat.
"Yes; in the good old Army," went on Dick, his eyes kindling.
"I don't feel any uneasiness about getting through the final
exams. now. We're as good as second lieutenants already, Holmesy!"
While thus chatting, however, the two chums were keeping pace with
their comrades of the nine. The nine from Annapolis moved in a
compact group a little ahead down the road.
Just before the Army ball-tossers reached the dressing quarters,
Lieutenant Lawrence, their coach, hastened ahead of them, meeting
them in the doorway.
"The best nine we've had in a long number of years, gentlemen,"
glowed coach, as he shook the hand of each in passing. "Thank
you all for your splendid, hard work!"
Thanks like that was sweet music, after all. But Dick raced to
dressing quarters full of but one thing.
"Quick, Holmesy! We don't know how soon the Navy team may have
to run down the road to a train."
"Aren't they going to have supper at the mess?" demanded Greg,
as he stripped.
"I don't know; I'm afraid not."
Dick and Greg were the first of the Army nine to be dressed in
their fatigue uniforms. Immediately they made a quick break for
the Navy quarters.
"It looks almost cheeky to throw ourselves in on the other fellows,"
muttered Greg dubiously. "Some of the middies will think we've come
in on purpose to see how they take their beating."
"They didn't get a bad enough beating to need to feel ashamed,"
replied Dick. "And we won't say a word about the game, anyway."
"May we come in?" called Prescott, knocking on the door of the
"Who's there?" called a voice. Then the Navy coach, in uniform,
opened the door.
"Oh, come in, gentlemen," called the coach, holding out his hand.
"And let me congratulate you, Prescott and Holmes, on the very
fine game that you two had a star part in putting up for the nine
"Thank you, sir," Dick replied. "But we didn't call on that account.
There are two old chums of ours here, sir, that we're looking for."
"See anything of them anywhere?" smiled Dave Darrin, stepping
forward, minus his blouse and holding out both hands.
Dick and Greg pounced upon Dave. Then Dan struggled into another
article of clothing and ran forward from the rear of the room.
"How soon do you go?" asked Dick eagerly.
"The 6.14 train to New York," replied Dave.
"Oh, then you're not going to have supper at cadet mess?" asked
Greg in a tone of deep disappointment.
"No," answered Dan Dalzell. "It would get us through too late.
We dine in New York on arrival."
"Hurry up and get dressed," Dick urged. Then, turning to the
coach, he inquired:
"May we keep Darrin and Dalzell with us, sir, until your train
"No reason on earth why you shouldn't," nodded the Navy coach.
So Dave and Dan were dressed in a trice, it seemed, though with
the care that a cadet or midshipman must always display in the
set of his immaculate uniform.
Dick seized Dave by the elbow, marching him forth, while Greg
"Great game for you-----" began Dan, as soon as the quartette
of old chums were outside.
"Send all that kind of talk by the baggage train," ordered Cadet
Holmes. "What we want to talk about are the dear old personal
"You youngsters are through here, after not so many more days,
aren't you?" began Darrin.
"Yes; and so are you, down at Annapolis," replied Prescott.
"Not quite," rejoined Dave gravely. "There's this difference.
In a few days you'll be through here, and will proceed to your
homes. Then, within the next few days, you'll both receive your
commissions as second lieutenants in the Army, and will be ordered
to your regiments. You're officers for all time to come! We
of the first class at Annapolis will receive our diplomas, surely.
But what beyond that? While you become officers at once, we
have to start on the two years' cruise, and we're still midshipmen.
After two years at sea, we have to come back and take another
exam. If we pass that one, then we'll be ensigns---officers at
last. But if we fail in the exam, two years hence then we're
dropped from the service. After we've gone through our whole
course at Annapolis we still have to guess, for two years, whether
we're going to be reckoned smart enough to be entitled to serve
the United States as officers. I can't feel, Dick, that we of
Annapolis, get a square deal."
"It doesn't sound like it," Prescott, after a moment, admitted.
"Still, you can do nothing about it. And you knew the game when
you went to Annapolis."
"Yes, I knew all this four years ago," Darrin admitted. "Still,
the four years haven't made the deal look any more fair than it
did four years ago. However, Dick, hang all kickers and sea-lawyers!
Isn't it grand, anyway, to feel that you're in your country's
uniform, and that all your active life is to be spent under the
good old flag---always working for it, fighting for it if need be!"
"Then you still love the service?" asked Dick, turning glowing eyes
upon his Annapolis chum.
"Love it?" cried Dave. "The word isn't strong enough!"
"Are you engaged, old fellow?" asked Greg of Dan Dalzell.
"Kind of half way," grinned Dan. "That is, I'm willing, but the
girl can't seem to make up her mind. And you?"
"I've been engaged nine times in all," sighed Greg. Yet each and
every one of the girls soon felt impelled to ask me to call it off."
"Any show just at present?" persisted Dalzell.
"Why, strange to say," laughed Greg, "I'm fancy free at the present
"How did the old affair ever come out between Dick and Laura Bentley?"
asked Dan curiously.
"Why, the strange part of it is, I don't believe there ever has been
any formal affair between Dick and Laura," Greg went on. "That is,
no real understanding between them. And now-----"
"Yes?" urged Dan.
"A merchant over in Gridley, a rather decent chap, too, has been
making up to Laura pretty briskly, I hear by way of home news,"
"Does the yardstick general win out?" demanded Dan.
"From all the news, I'm half afraid he does."
"How does Dick take that?" Dan was eager to know.
"I can't tell you," Greg responded solemnly, "for I have never
ventured on that topic with old ramrod. But if he loses out with
Laura, I feel it in my bones that he'll take it mighty hard."
"Poor old Dick!" sighed Dan, loyal to the old days. "Somehow,
I can't quite get it through my head that it's at all right for
anyone to withhold from Dick Prescott anything he really wants."
Greg sighed too.
"Any idea what arm of the service you're going to choose?" asked
"I believe I'll do better to wait and see what my class standing
is at graduation," laughed Greg. "That is the thing that settles
how much choice I'm to have in the matter of arm of the service."
"Any liking for heavy artillery?" asked Dan.
"Not a whit. Cavalry or infantry for mine."
"Not the engineers?"
"Only the honor men of the class can get into the engineers,"
grunted Greg. "Neither Dick nor I stand any show to be honor
men. We feel lucky enough to get through the course and graduate
Dick and Dave, too, were talking earnestly about the future, though
now and then a word was dropped about the good old past, as described
in the _High School Boys' Series_.
Ten minutes before the train time two chums in Army gray and two
in Navy blue reached the platform of the railway station. The
other middies were there ahead of them. In the time that was
left Dick and Greg were hastily introduced to the other middies.
A few jolly words there were, but the other members of the Army
nine and still other cadets were on hand, and so the talk was
Amid noisy, heartfelt cheering the middy delegation climbed aboard
the incoming train. Amid more cheers their train bore them away
and then some sixty West Point cadets climbed the long, steep road,
next hastening on to be in time for supper formation.
For the members of the first class West Point athletics had now
become a matter of history only!
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