Dave Porter and His Rivals/Chapter 17

CHAPTER XVII


REORGANIZING THE ELEVEN


On Monday morning the students of Oak Hall were treated to a surprise. Directly after chapel service Doctor Clay came forward to make an address. He first spoke about the good work that the pupils were, generally speaking, doing, and then branched off about the football game, and the poor exhibition made on the gridiron.

"In the past I have not thought it proper for the head of this institution to take part in your football and baseball games, contenting myself with giving you an instructor in the gymnasium alone," he continued. "But I find that these sports now play a more or less prominent part in all boarding schools and colleges, and that being so, I have thought it wise to embrace all field sports in the gymnasium department. Consequently, from to-day your football elevens, your baseball nines, and your track athletics, and in fact all your sports, will be held under the supervision and direction of Mr. Dodsworth, your gymnasium instructor. He will be assisted by Mr. Dale, who, as you all know, was once a leading college football and baseball player. These two gentlemen will aid you in reorganizing your football eleven, and will do all in their power to give to Oak Hall the victories you all desire."

This announcement came as a bombshell to Rand, Frapley, Poole, and their cohorts, and it was equally surprising to all of the others who had played on the eleven.

"That means a shaking-up for us all right," said one of the players. "I can see somebody getting fired already."

"Do you suppose they intend to take the management away from me and Rand?" demanded Frapley. "I don't think that is fair. Rand was made manager by a popular vote."

"If they want me to resign, I'll do it," snapped the manager. He had been so severely criticised that he was growing tired of it.

"It's a shame that we can't run our club to suit ourselves," grumbled Nat Poole. "If the teachers are going to do it, maybe they had better do the playing too."

"Well, they'd play a heap sight better than you did, Nat," was the remark of another student.

Doctor Clay's announcement created such a stir that the students could think of little else during the day. All felt that from henceforth football, baseball, and track athletics would become a regular part of the institution.

In the afternoon a notice was posted up in the Hall and in the gymnasium, calling a special meeting of all who were interested in the football organization. The meeting was called for Tuesday afternoon at four o'clock, and the call was signed by Mr. Dodsworth and Mr. Dale.

"They are not going to let any grass grow under their feet," remarked the senator's son, as he and Dave read the notice.

"Shall you go to the meeting, Roger?"

"Of course. And you must go, too, Dave. I know Mr. Dale and Mr. Dodsworth want all the fellows to be there."

Following the posting of the notice came word that Rand had resigned the management of the eleven, and then came another notice calling for the election of a new manager.

"Let us put up Henry Fordham again," suggested Phil. "That is, if he is willing to run."

The football meeting was attended by nearly every student of Oak Hall, the gymnasium meeting room being literally packed. The only youth who was absent was John Rand.

Mr. Dale called the meeting to order, and made a neat speech, in which he advised the lads to act soberly and accordingly to their best judgment. He said the football game with Lemington had proved a great disappointment, and he sincerely trusted that the reorganized eleven would be able to lead the school to nothing but victories. He added that as Rand had resigned, they would first proceed to the election of a new manager, and then the rearranging of the eleven would be begun under the direction of Mr. Dodsworth and himself.

The teacher had scarcely finished his speech when Guy Frapley was on his feet.

"Mr. Dale, I wish to say something," he almost shouted. "As everybody here knows, I am the captain of the football eleven. What I want to know is, whether I am to be the captain of the eleven or not. If I am to be nothing but a figure-head, why, I'd rather get out."

It was an aggressive, almost brutal, manner of expressing himself, and it produced an uproar.

"Put him out!"

"Make him resign!"

"Tell him he has got to behave himself and make good!"

"Boys! Young gentlemen! We must have quietness!" cried Andrew Dale, raising his hand. And then he rapped for order.

"I'll resign!" shouted Guy Frapley, when he could be heard. "I don't want anything more to do with the old team, anyway!" And in a rage he forced his way out of the gymnasium. Several of his friends tried to get him to return, but without avail.

The departure of Frapley brought about a semblance of order, and presently the gymnasium instructor got up to talk. What he said was directly to the point. He said that he had prepared a list of names of former football players of Oak Hall, with a record of the work of each individual. This list would be used in making up the reorganized team.

"That's the talk!" cried one student. "That's the common-sense way of going at it."

"Merit is what counts every time," added another.

When a vote was taken for a new manager, Henry Fordham was elected almost unanimously. In accepting, the new manager stated that he was glad he was going to have the assistance of Mr. Dale and Mr. Dodsworth, and he hoped that from now on the club would pull together and pile up nothing but victories. This speech was well received and loudly applauded.

Then the list of football players of past seasons was read. Dave was placed at the top of the list, with Phil, Plum, Roger, and Sam following in the order named. Nat Poole's name was sixteenth, much to his disgust.

"I suppose that means that I can't play on the eleven," he growled.

"You may become a substitute," answered Mr. Dodsworth.

"Not much! If I can't play on the eleven, I know what I'll do—I'll pack my trunk and go home!"

"Do it right away!" shouted a voice from the rear of the room.

"You'll never be missed, Poole," added another.

"All right, I'll leave!" shouted Poole, purple with rage, and then he left the meeting as abruptly as Guy Frapley had done. At the door he shook his fist at the crowd. "You just wait—I'll fix Oak Hall for this!" he added, sourly.

"How foolish!" murmured Luke. "Nat will never make any friends by acting like that."

"Do you think he'll leave Oak Hall?" questioned another boy.

"Perhaps,—if his father will let him."

Following the departure of Nat Poole came the reorganizing of the football eleven. Dave was placed in the position he had occupied the year before, and Phil, Roger, Sam, and Plum followed. Of those who had played against Lemington only five were retained—those who had been on the eleven one and two years previous. All the other players were told they would have to enter the scrub team, for a try-out for the substitute bench.

It filled Dave's heart with pleasure to get back in his old position. He was unanimously chosen as captain of the eleven, and he called for some practice every afternoon that week,—a call that was indorsed by Mr. Dodsworth, Mr. Dale, and the new manager.

"We have got to get right down to business—if we want to beat Rockville," said Dave, to the others. "I understand they put up a stiff game with Elmwood. If we are beaten, all the fellows who were put off the eleven will have the laugh on us."

"We'll do our best," cried the senator's son.

"It's a good thing we organized the Old Guard," said Phil. "That kept us in fine condition."

Practice commenced in earnest the next day, and was kept up every afternoon, under the supervision of Mr. Dale and the gymnasium instructor. Mr. Dodsworth perfected the eleven in signal work, and Andrew Dale showed them how to work several trick plays used effectively by the college he had attended.

Many of the students wondered what Guy Frapley, Nat Poole, and John Rand would do. On the day following the reorganization of the football eleven, all three students sent telegrams to their parents, and received replies the next day. Rand and Frapley left Oak Hall, and announced that they were going to Rockville Military Academy. Nat Poole had wanted to go, too, but Aaron Poole would not permit it, for the reason that he had paid for Nat's board and tuition in advance, and he was not the man to sacrifice one cent by such a move. Later on he wrote a letter, stating that he didn't believe in any such foolishness as football anyway, and Nat had better settle down to his studies and get some good of the money that was being spent on him. This letter angered Nat exceedingly, but he could do nothing without his parent's consent, and so he settled down as best he could.

"I shouldn't wonder if Rand and Frapley become cronies of Merwell and Jasniff," said Dave to Phil. And so it proved,—the four became quite intimate, and all of them vowed that sooner or later they would "settle accounts" with Dave for the trouble he and his chums had caused them. The ringleader of the four was Nick Jasniff, and he resolved to do something that would put Dave in the deepest kind of disgrace. Not to expose himself, he matured his plans slowly and with great caution.

Although Dave was doing all in his power to make the football eleven a good one, he was not permitted to devote all his spare time to that organization. Oak Hall, as my old readers know, boasted of a secret organization known as the Gee Eyes, those words standing for the initials G and I, which in their turn stood for the words Guess It. Dave and his chums were all members of this society, which was kept up mainly for the fun of initiating new members.

"The Gee Eyes meet to-night, Dave," said Buster Beggs on Friday morning. "Big affair—initiation of six new members. You must be on hand."

"I think I had better go to bed—so as to be in good trim for the football game," answered Dave.

"Oh, no, you must come!" pleaded Buster. "Phil and Roger, and all the old crowd have promised to be there."

"Well, I'll be on hand if you'll promise not to keep us out after twelve o'clock, Buster. The eleven has got to get its sleep, remember that."

"All right, we'll try to cut it short," answered Buster Beggs, who, this term, was the leader of the society, or Right Honorable Muck-a-Muck, as he was called.

"What are you going to do?" questioned Dave.

"That's a secret, Dave. But it will make you laugh. We are going to initiate the whole six at one time."

"Very well, I'll be there."

"One thing more, Dave," went on Buster, in a low voice. "Keep this from Nat Poole."

"But he is a member," urged Dave. "He has a right to know."

"If he knew he'd tell on us sure—he is down on the whole crowd. We are going to drop him."

"I see. Well, you are leader this term, Buster, so do as you please," answered Dave, and walked off to one of his recitations. Then Buster hurried off in another direction.

As soon as the two students were gone a third boy tiptoed his way from behind a coat rack, where he had been in hiding. The lad was Nat Poole.

"I thought something was in the wind!" murmured Nat to himself. "I must find out just where they are going, and what they are going to do,—and then I'll let Doctor Clay know all about it. Maybe if Porter and his crowd are caught red-handed they'll be put in disgrace, and then they won't be able to play that game with Rockville!"