Change Signals: A Story of the New Football

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Change Signals: A Story of the New Football

Author

Ralph Henry Barbour

About this book

Kendall Burtis is the new kicker on Yardley Hall's football team.

Contents (26)

CHAPTER I THE MASS-MEETING
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CHAPTER II TOWNE PLAYS A JOKE
CHAPTER III KENDALL MAKES A CALL
CHAPTER IV FIRST PRACTICE
CHAPTER V KENDALL LEARNS OF A PLOT
CHAPTER VI AND FOILS IT
CHAPTER VII CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
CHAPTER VIII THE FIRST GAME
CHAPTER IX NEW ACQUAINTANCES
CHAPTER X NED TOOKER
CHAPTER XI THE MYSTERIOUS KICKER
CHAPTER XII NED USES TACT
CHAPTER XIII GOLF WITH BROADWOOD
CHAPTER XIV DAN IS OUT OF SORTS
CHAPTER XV NED EARNS A QUARTER
CHAPTER XVI A DISSERTATION ON MUSHROOMS
CHAPTER XVII UNDER THE MANAGEMENT OF MR. TOOKER
CHAPTER XVIII YARDLEY VISITS NORDHAM
CHAPTER XIX CHEERS AND SONGS
CHAPTER XX DAN IS KIDNAPPED
CHAPTER XXI AT THE “WASHINGTON’S HEAD”
CHAPTER XXII KENDALL EXPLAINS
CHAPTER XXIII THE MORNING OF THE GAME
CHAPTER XXIV KENDALL MEETS AN OLD FRIEND
CHAPTER XXV “CHANGE SIGNALS!”
CHAPTER XXVI KENDALL MAKES THE FIRST

CHAPTER I THE MASS-MEETING

“Old Yardley can’t be beat, my boy,
She’s bound to win the game!
So give a cheer for Yardley, and
Hats off to Yardley’s fame!”

The Banjo and Mandolin Club, huddled together on the right of the platform in Assembly Hall, strummed diligently and with enthusiasm, their zeal atoning for shortcomings due to lack of practice. For this was the first night of the fall term, and many members had not touched their instruments since the final chord had been twanged on class day. (Brewster, playing second mandolin, was doing bravely with a silver dime, having lost his pick and not being able to borrow one!) Beyond the platform some two hundred and fifty clear-eyed, clean-skinned boys sang the words with vim. Many, unable to satisfactorily express their enthusiasm vocally, kept time with their feet. Across the platform from the musicians sat the Assistant Principal, Mr. Collins, the physical instructor, Mr. Bendix, the head coach, Mr. Payson, the president of the First Class, Lawrence Goodyear, and the football captain, Dan Vinton. The mass meeting had been called to formally open the football season at Yardley Hall School. The song ended in a final triumphant burst of sound and Goodyear arose. As he moved to the front of the platform the applause began, the stamping of feet and the long-drawn “A-a-ay!” repeated over and over until Goodyear’s upraised hand commanded quiet.

“We’re here to-night, fellows, to start things going. We’re going to hear from the faculty and from the head coach and the captain, and all I’m supposed to do is to introduce the speakers. But before I do that there’s just one thing I want to say, fellows, and it’s this. We’re going to win this year—”

The cheers burst forth deafeningly, and it was a full minute before Goodyear could go on.

“Just as we did last year and other years before that.” (Another demonstration, but briefer.) “But to do it we must all get together and stand right back of the team every minute. It’s school loyalty that does the business. Every fellow who has been on a team knows what it means to feel that the school is right back of him. It means a lot, I tell you; I don’t say that it wins games, but it comes mighty near it sometimes. The team may have its failures; it can’t win all the time; but it isn’t going to help matters if you start ‘knocking.’ There may be mistakes made; that happens now and then; but don’t ‘roast’ the team for it. Don’t roast anyone; get behind and push harder than ever! That’s all, fellows. Mr. Collins will now speak a few words to you.”

The audience proved that it was in entire sympathy with Goodyear’s sentiments by cheering long and loudly. And then it began again as the Assistant Principal stepped to the front of the stage. Mr. Collins, in spite of the fact that he represented Authority and meted out punishment to ill-doers, was very popular. Doctor Hewitt, or “Toby” as the school called him, was the Principal, but the doctor was getting well along in years now and the actual school management fell on the younger and very capable shoulders of “Mr. Warren Collins, A.M., Yale,” to quote the school catalogue. Mr. Collins confined his remarks to-night to a few moments only. He said he was glad to see them all back again, glad to see so much enthusiasm and glad that the football prospects looked so bright. “With a settled coaching policy well established, a coach whom we all admire and respect and a captain who has proved himself popular, brilliant and earnest,” said Mr. Collins, “we are very fortunate, I think. And I, for one, shall be very much surprised if this season proves anything but one of the best in recent years.”

Mr. Bendix had his meed of welcome and applause when he followed the Assistant Principal. Although “Muscles” was a hard taskmaster and was often well hated by the lazier youths, he was generally liked. Besides, this was the beginning of the term, the old boys were happy at getting back again and the newcomers delighted to be there, and they would have cheered even “Mother” Walker, who was the least loved of all the faculty, had he appeared. Mr. Bendix had quite a little to say about physical examinations and the matter of training, and his remarks were not especially exhilarating. But everyone heard him through with respect and then burst into thunderous cheers as the football captain came to the front of the platform.

Dan Vinton was a First Class boy, seventeen years of age, tall and lithe, with an alert, good-looking face in which a pair of steady brown eyes and a distinctly good-tempered mouth were the most notable features. Just at present the mouth was smiling, but there was embarrassment in the smile, for Dan wasn’t much of a speaker and had been dreading this occasion for weeks. As he waited for the applause to cease he sunk his hands in his trousers pockets, and then, realizing his lapse, hurriedly pulled them out again. The cheers changed to a shout of laughter and a boy in a front seat called:

“Put ’em back again, Dan!”

Then the hall quieted down, and Dan, more embarrassed than before, began to speak.

“Fellows,” he said, “I can’t talk very well. In fact, I’m just about scared to death. I guess you can see that. But what I’ve got to say won’t take long. You’ve made me captain and I’m going to do the best I know how for you. I’m not making any promises. That would be a silly thing to do because we none of us can tell what may happen as—as the season advances. But we’ve got a mighty good start for the team this fall. We’ve got five of the fellows who played against Broadwood last year and a lot of good second string fellows. So as far as—as experienced material goes we’ve got no kick coming. But I don’t want you to think that we’ve got all the men we want, for we haven’t. I hope that to-morrow afternoon every one of you chaps who hasn’t lost a leg or an arm will come out for the team. I want to see the biggest bunch of candidates that ever turned out at Yardley! And don’t stay away because you think you can’t play football. Come out and get to work and we’ll tell you in a week whether you can play or not. You know they’ve changed the rules again this year and a fellow doesn’t have to weigh two hundred pounds to be of use to the team. We want fellows who have speed and who can handle a ball, and, above all, we want fellows who can kick. Well, I guess that’s all.” Dan’s hands unconsciously went back to his pockets and a cheer went up. But he didn’t take them out this time. He only smiled. “There’s one thing more, though,” he went on earnestly. “What Goodyear told you about standing back of the team is so. I don’t mean just coming down to the field and cheering. That’s all right as far as it goes. What I mean is letting us know all the time that you’re right back of us, hoping us on, wishing us on, pulling every minute! You do your share, fellows, and we’ll do ours, I promise you!”

Pandemonium reigned for a good two minutes after Dan walked back to his chair. Then Hammel, the baseball captain, was on his feet calling for “a cheer for Captain Vinton, fellows, and make it good!” And it was good, and if Oxford Hall hadn’t been built of granite I think it would have shook under that outburst.

Then Payson got up, and more cheering followed, for the big, broad-shouldered man of thirty-two who faced them was a school idol. In his six years as football and baseball coach at Yardley, John Payson had turned out four winning teams on the gridiron and had done very nearly as well on the diamond. He had quick, sharp black eyes, a broad, strong jaw and an ease and grace of carriage that quite belied his two hundred and odd pounds. Payson spoke quietly and seriously and the hall was so still that you might have heard a pin drop. He agreed with the previous speakers that the outlook was bright, but reminded them that many a team with fine early season prospects had come a cropper before now. And then he repeated the captain’s call for candidates, for hard work, for self-sacrifice and devotion and for the whole-souled support of the student body. And then, as he turned away and the stilled audience burst into sound, the leader of the Banjo and Mandolin Club nodded his head and the strains of “The Years Roll On” broke into the tumult. Instantly every fellow was on his feet, singing the slow, sweet song:

“The years roll on. Too soon we find
Our boyhood days are o’er.
The scenes we’ve known, the friends we’ve loved,
Are gone to come no more.
But in the shrine of Memory
We’ll hold and cherish still
The recollection fond of those
Dear days on Yardley Hill.”

Very reverently they sang it, and not many without a thrill and, perhaps, a moistening of the eyes. Many of the older boys could remember standing with heads bared to the cold November wind and singing it grandly after Yardley had gone down to defeat before her rival. All save the new boys had sung it at class day under swaying, many-hued lanterns and with the warm breath of June in their faces. If you are a Yardley man, young or old, you can never hear that song unmoved:

“The years roll on. To man’s estate
From youthful mold we pass,
And Life’s stern duties bind us round,
And doubts and cares harass.
But God will guard through storms and give
The strength to do His will
And treasure e’er the lessons learned
Of old on Yardley Hill.”

The last strain died away, there was a moment of silence, and then caps were slipped onto heads, feet shuffled on the floor, settees were pushed aside and the fellows crowded toward the doors. Then down the old, worn stairway they went, talking and laughing a little subduedly, and out into a mild September night lighted by millions of twinkling white stars that seemed to shine down kindly as though sympathizing with the glow of exaltation, of courage and kindliness and patriotism, in all those boyish hearts.