Dave Porter and His Rivals/Chapter 27

CHAPTER XXVII


A GAME OF ICE HOCKEY


"I reckon you scared them pretty thoroughly, Dave."

"I am glad of it if I did," answered Dave. "I hope I scared them so much that they never bother me again."

Several days had passed, and in that time Dave had learned many things. From Rockville had come the news that Doctor Montgomery had left rather suddenly, without stating where he was going, and Dave had likewise learned that Shime had not shown himself since his discharge by the garage owner. And now from the military academy came word that Merwell and Jasniff had obtained leave of absence for a week.

"They say Doctor Montgomery must have been getting ready to leave," said Phil, who had been to Rockville. "He owes a board bill at the hotel as well as at his boarding-house. Mrs. Dunn is back, and is very angry to think the doctor got away during her absence."

"I suppose Merwell and Jasniff think the affair will blow over by the time they return," said Roger. "Well, Dave, you can do as you please, but if I were you I'd try to corner them."

"If I did that, Roger, they'd try to squirm out of it somehow. What I'd like to do best of all would be to give Merwell and Jasniff a good thrashing."

"Well, they deserve that, Dave."

"I believe they were going to place you in some kind of an awkward position," came from Phil. "Maybe they were going to commit some crime and try to fasten it on you."

"Well, whatever it was, they got left," declared Dave.

"By the way, did you see the notice Nat Poole posted up in the gym.?" asked Roger, during a pause.

"No. What is it?"

"He has lost a watch-chain charm, and he offers a dollar reward for its return."

"As if the fellows wouldn't return it without a reward, if it was found!" exclaimed Phil. "That just shows Nat's natural meanness of mind!"

"Nat is busy organizing his ice-hockey team," said Roger. "They are going out to practice this afternoon."

"Which puts me in mind that we were going to organize a hockey team also," returned Dave. "I guess the sooner we get at it the better."

The ice on the river was clear and smooth, ideal for hockey playing, and that season ice hockey was taken up in earnest at both Oak Hall and Rockville. Nat Poole had little difficulty in organizing a team, he being the captain and playing rover. The others on his team were made up of those who had played with him on the football eleven and some new students at the Hall.

Dave had studied the play and the players with care, and he finally made up a team as follows:

Goal, Sam Day.
Point, Dave Porter, captain.
Cover Point, Phil Lawrence.
Center, Roger Morr.
Rover, Gus Plum.
Left Wing, Maurice Hamilton.
Right Wing, Ben Basswood.
Substitutes: Tom Atwood, Luke Watson, and Henry Babcock.

"You have got to play as if you meant it, if you want to win any games," said Dave to his fellow-players, and so much in earnest did he become that, between ice hockey and his studies, he completely forgot about the adventure which had followed his visit to Doctor Montgomery.

Nat Poole could not help but boast of what his team could do, and when a challenge came to Oak Hall from Rockville to play a game he wanted to accept it without delay. But before he could do so, Mr. Dodsworth interfered.

"We have two hockey teams in this school," said the instructor. "Your seven, and that of which Dave Porter is captain. I think it would be no more than fair that you play a game between you, and that the winner be permitted to accept the Rockville challenge."

This did not suit Nat at all, as he wanted matters entirely his own way. But nearly every boy in the school sided with Mr. Dodsworth, so at last the money-lender's son had to agree to play the game with Dave's team, and it was decided that this game should take place, weather permitting, the following Saturday, and that the game with Rockville should come off one week later.

"To hear Nat Poole talk you would think he had won the game already," said Roger, to the others on Dave's seven. "He makes me sick!"

"Speaking of having it won already, puts me in mind of a story," came from Shadow. "A little girl went in the pantry and stayed quite a while. When she came out she asked her mother: 'Ma, can I have a cruller?' 'Yes, my dear,' answered ma. Then she saw that the little girl wasn't eating anything, so she asked: 'Why don't you take a cruller, Alice?' 'Oh,' says Alice; 'I had that when I first went to the pantry!'"

"Wow!" murmured Sam. "That joke came from the ark!"

"It was told to Pharaoh by Napoleon, when they were hunting for the North Pole," added Plum.

"Well, I don't think it hits Nat Poole's case," was Sam's comment. "He won't get any cruller in this game."

"Right you are!" cried Plum.

Plum was as anxious as anybody to defeat the money-lender's son. Since the former bully had turned over a new leaf Nat was constantly saying mean things about him, and it was only Gus's grim determination to "keep the peace" that kept him from pitching into Nat "rough-shod." In keeping his hands off Nat, Plum had a harder battle to fight than if he had attacked the moneylender's son bodily.

It had to be admitted that, as the day for the contest between the two Oak Hall sevens approached, Poole's team was in good shape. Nat had drilled them with care, and had profited by the work of two of the players who had been on another boarding-school seven the winter previous. One of these players knew several sharp tricks, and it was hoped that these tricks would help to defeat Dave's seven.

The game was to be played under the interscholastic rules of that year, with two halves of twenty minutes each, and an intermission of ten minutes. Mr. Dodsworth was the referee, and the accustomed goal umpires and timekeepers were also selected. The "field" had already been marked on the ice, and the goal nets set, so that everything was in readiness for the match. Each player had the regulation ice-hockey stick, and wore regulation hockey skates, well sharpened for the occasion.

"Well, we've got our work cut out for us," said Phil, as he came out for practice.

"Beware of off-side plays," warned Dave. "Don't give Poole's crowd a chance to claim off-play or fouls—and don't let them do anything unfair without a protest."

Just before the play was to start Chip Macklin beckoned to Dave.

"Look out for Bolton," he whispered, as Dave skated up.

"Why do you say that, Chip?"

"I heard him and Nat whispering together. Bolton said their side must win—he had a bet on it with somebody. Then Nat advised him to take chances—which means that they may club you, or kick you with their skates."

"We'll be on the lookout," answered Dave, and he immediately let the others know what Poole and Bolton had in mind to do.

Amid a cheering for both sides, the puck was brought out and placed on the ice, directly in the center of the field, and between the sticks of two of the players. Then the whistle blew, and the contest commenced.

Back and forth over the smooth ice flew the rubber disc, first towards one goal and then towards the other. Dave got it and carried it far down the field, and then turned it over to Plum. Gus lost it to Poole, who knocked it over to a player named Foss. It came dangerously close to Dave's goal, but was sent spinning forward again by Sam, and then followed a turning and twisting back and forth, in the midst of which Nat Poole went flat on his back, and Phil went sprawling over him.

"Foul! foul!" yelled Nat, as he scrambled up. "You did that on purpose!"

"I did not!" answered Phil, with flashing eyes. "I guess you fell on purpose!"

"There was no foul!" decided Mr. Dodsworth. "It was simply an accident all around." And then the play was resumed.

At the end of eight minutes of play Dave's team rushed the puck forward once more. Nat's team tried its best to send the disc back, but lost it by a bad fumble by Bolton. Then straight into the goal net flew the puck.

"Hurrah! One goal for Porter's team!"

"That's the way to do it!"

"Humph! They got that by a fluke!" growled Bolton.

"They got it because of your error!" answered one of the students at the side line.

Again the puck was placed in the center of the field, and once more the struggle was renewed. This time the disc was again forced close to the Porter goal, but without avail. Sam sent it back, and Dave shot it to Phil, who whizzed the puck over to Shadow. Then came a mix-up, and the puck flew close to the Poole goal.

"Back with it!" was the cry. "Don't let 'em score another goal!"

A player named Gardener had the puck. He was about to send it to Bolton, when Phil interfered and sent the disc over to Ben Basswood. As Ben swept over the ice with the disc Bolton rushed forward, swinging his hockey stick viciously.

"Look out!" yelled somebody, and many saw a swing of the stick that came dangerously close to Phil's head.

"Bolton, you try that again, and I'll knock you down!" said Phil, his eyes flashing fire as he spoke.

"My—er—my stick slipped," stammered Bolton, and turned away quickly. Before more could be said a cheer went up.

"Another goal for the Porter team!"

"That's the way to play ice hockey!"

It was true, Ben had made the second goal. With five minutes more of the half to play the puck was placed in position once again.

"Say, we've got to do something!" growled Nat Poole.

"All right, do it," answered one of the team, who had seen Nat make several errors, and who was growing disgusted.

Both Nat and Bolton were ugly, and showed it in every movement. The puck was worked down into the Porter territory, but again without avail, and as it commenced to move in the opposite direction Nat and Bolton grew furious. Nat gave his follower a meaning look, and a minute later Bolton swung his hockey stick around, almost on a line with Dave's shoulder.

Had the blow landed as intended, Dave would have been seriously lamed, and possibly his arm might have been broken. But Roger was close at hand, and in a flash the senator's son thrust out his hockey stick, so that the blow glanced off, doing little harm.

"Time!" called Roger, and it was granted, and both teams at once gathered around Dave and Bolton.

"Bolton, that was done on purpose; you can't deny it!" cried Roger. "You did your best to injure Dave."

"I did not!" roared Bolton, growing red in the face.

"He did! He did!" was the general cry. "Put him out!"

There was a great hubbub, in the midst of which Mr. Dodsworth consulted with Andrew Dale, who was assistant referee. Then Mr. Dodsworth came forward.

"Bolton," he said, clearly and coldly; "you are retired."

"Can't I play any more?" growled the student.

"No. Your conduct is unworthy of a gentleman, and you must leave the field. The game will proceed."