Dave Porter and His Rivals/Chapter 31



"That's the way to do it!"

"What did I tell you? Oak Hall won't be in this game!"

"This will wipe out that football defeat!"

So the cries rang out. The great ice-hockey contest was but six minutes old, and amid a wild yelling and cheering Rockville had carried the puck down into the Oak Hall territory, and Mallory, their star player, had made a swift and safe goal.

"Wasn't that going some!"

"Three cheers for Mallory!" And the cheers were given with a will.

"Oak Hall! Oak Hall!" came the answering cry, and then the supporters of that school burst out into a new slogan:

"Ice hockey!
Nice jockey!
Oak Hall
Has the call!
Wa! wa! wa! wa! Whoop!"

"Oh, what a shame that Rockville scored!" sighed Vera Rockwell.

"Never mind, the game isn't ended yet," returned Mary Feversham.

"No," came from a Rockville cadet, sitting near. "When it is the score will be about forty to nothing, in our favor." And this remark caused some cadets to smile, and made both of the girls turn very red.

"Aren't they horrid!" whispered Mary.

"Don't mind them," answered her friend. "But, oh, I do so hope Oak Hall wins! " And then both girls waved their Oak Hall banners vigorously, by way of encouragement to the team.

Once more the puck was put into play in the center of the field of ice, and again Rockville sent it flying near to the Oak Hall goal. But this time it came back, and now the fight was on for several minutes near the left side line. There was a little rough play on both sides, and the referee called time.

"I want no more such work," he said, almost sternly.

"I was hit in the side by somebody," growled Plum.

"I was hit in the back," came from a Rockville player.

"If there is any more such work I'll call the game," said the referee, and then the whistle blew to start again.

This time Oak Hall worked with vigor, and presently had the rubber disc down close to the Rockville goal. But alas for their hopes! Just as Ben was on the point of striking for the net, a Rockville player stole the puck from him, rapped it to another player, who sent it whirling to Mallory, and in a twinkling it was down at the other end of the field.

"Another goal for Rockville!"

"What did I tell you? Boys, this is a walk-over for our school!" cried Guy Frapley, who was on hand and as anxious as anybody to see Oak Hall defeated.

"Oak Hall may be able to play football, but they don't know how to play ice hockey!" added John Rand, who was with him and equally anxious to see Dave and his friends lose.

The supporters of Oak Hall had little to say. The only lad who felt happy was Nat Poole.

"Here is where Dave Porter and his crowd get what is coming to them," thought the money-lender's son. It pleased him greatly to think his school might be beaten. Which shows how really mean-spirited Nat was.

Again the game proceeded, and now the contest waged in earnest. In a mix-up near the center of the field, one of the Rockville players named Devine crashed into Plum, and both went down in a heap, with two other players on top. The puck went sailing toward the Oak Hall goal, and though Dave did his best to stop it, the goal was made an instant later.

"Time! time! Somebody is hurt!"

"That goal ought not to count!"

A babble of voices sounded out, and slowly the players untangled themselves. Then it was learned that Plum had been hurt on the shoulder, and one of the Rockville players had gotten cut in the ankle, and both had to retire. Luke Watson took Plum's place. It was decided that the goal had been made unfairly, after time was called and allowed, and so it was not counted.

But even this did not help Oak Hall in the first half of the contest. Rockville went at it hammer and tongs again, and soon scored a legitimate third goal, amid a cheering that was tremendous. Then the whistle blew, and the first half of the game became a thing of the past.

"We are up against it and no mistake," remarked Roger, dolefully, as he and the other players sat down on a bench in the boathouse to rest.

"We are too slow," answered Dave. "We simply must put more ginger in our playing."

"Yes, and we've got to take more chances," added Sam. "Might as well do it—we can't lose anything," he added, bitterly.

When the call sounded to start the second half of the game, the Oak Hall seven came forward with a do-or-die look on their set faces. Rockville, on the other hand, wore a happy smile, as if the victory was already a sure thing.

For a minute the playing was uncertain. Then came a surprise, for Oak Hall "broke loose," to use Messmer's way of expressing it. The puck was fairly stolen from Mallory himself by Dave, and sent forward, and to the right and the left, in a manner that was bewildering.

"Send it back, Rockville!"

"Don't let them score!"

"Back with it! Back!"

"Go it, Oak Hall! Whack it, Hamilton!"

"Now for the goal, Morr!"

"There she goes!"

"Hurrah! Score one for Oak Hall!"

"Now then, you've struck your gait, fellows! Keep up the good work!"

It was true. Oak Hall had scored on a beautiful strike by Roger, aided by Shadow. But Dave had started the thing by getting the rubber away from Mallory, much to that star player's chagrin.

The goal warmed the hearts of the Oak Hall seven wonderfully, and when the puck was again placed in position, they went for it like hungry cats after a mouse. The exchange of blows was rapid, and the disc was stolen and recovered half a dozen times in as many seconds. Then came a long drive by Ben, and another by Dave, and then a Rockville player sent it out of bounds. Bringing it back gave the lads time to recover their breath, and again they went at it with a determination that was terrific.

"Oh, somebody will be killed!" cried Vera, as several came together with a crash.

"What a rough game!" murmured Mary. "But look, Dave Porter has the rubber!"

"Yes, and he is carrying it to the Rockville goal!"

"Oh, look at the others after him!"

Dave had the puck, and with almost a clear field ahead of him he was "worrying" it along, while the whole of the Rockville team was following on his heels. He waited until they were almost on him, then made a half turn, raised his stick, and let drive with all his power.

"Say, look at that!"

"What a beautiful drive!"

"Another goal for Oak Hall!"

"Three cheers for Dave Porter!" came from some of the Oak Hall supporters, and the cheers went echoing far and wide across the river. Vera and Mary cheered with the rest, and so did a number of other girls.

"Now then, Oak Hall, tie the score!"

"We will!" murmured Roger.

"That's the talk!" cried Dave. "Everybody in the game now, and on the jump!"

Fearing they were losing their hold on the game, Mallory spoke to the others of his team. He gave the signal for a trick play on the left side. But Dave was on the alert, and the trick was blocked, and then Dave gave a signal to try the same trick on Rockville. Neither Mallory nor his followers dreamed this would be done, and they were so neatly caught that every old ice-hockey player who witnessed the play had to smile. The trick took the puck halfway down into the Rockville territory, and though the cadets worked hard to send it back, it was not to be, and Phil knocked the goal that tied the score.

"A tie! A tie!"

"Now, Oak Hall, one more to win!"

"Rockville! Rockville! One more! One more!"

By this time everybody was thoroughly worked up over the contest. All who had been seated were on their feet and cheering wildly for their favorites.

"Whatever you do, don't let them score again!" said Dave, to his players. "Keep the rubber away from our goal."

"We'll send it down to their goal," answered Shadow.

"So we will!" cried Ben.

"This is our game—we have got to have it," was Phil's response.

"It's win or bust," muttered Roger.

Once more the puck was placed in position. Rockville now played as they had never played before, and twice the disc came dangerously close to the Oak Hall goal. But each time Luke Watson drove it back. Then it came forward swiftly to the other end of the field. Here there was a battle-royal between Mallory and Roger. Dave came whizzing up, and managed to steal the rubber, and sent it to Ben. He got it within three yards of the goal, and then Shadow took hold, and landed it safely in the net.

"Hurrah! One more for Oak Hall!"

"That makes the score four to three!"

"Wake up, Rockville! Six minutes more to play!"

"Now hold 'em!" cautioned Dave, as the puck was brought forth once more. "Hold 'em, I tell you!"

"We'll do more!" answered Roger, grimly. "That is, if we get the chance."

"Of course—but don't run any risks."

Back and forth flew the rubber disc. Rockville was wild to tie the score. This made one of the players take a "long chance." Roger saw it, and in a twinkling he rushed forward and upset the fellow's calculations, and sent the puck again into the Rockville territory. Then came a rush of players, and back and forth swung the human mass. Then of a sudden the rubber disc flew up into the air, to land almost at Sam Day's feet.

It was Sam's chance, and like a flash he improved it. Down the icy field went the rubber with Sam behind it.

"Stop him!"

"Send it back!"

Dave was behind Sam, and now he swept ahead. Then came a mix-up with Mallory. But Dave got the puck and sent it straight for the net.

"Another goal for Oak Hall!"

"Two minutes more to play!"

"Rockville can't win now!"

With saddened faces Rockville lined up once more, and again the disc was put in action. The fight was hot, and the puck moved rapidly in the center of the field. Then the whistle blew, and the wonderful contest came to an end.

Final score: Oak Hall 5, Rockville 3.

It was assuredly a well-earned victory, and Dave and his team were warmly praised by all their followers. Even Doctor Clay came up to shake each player by the hand.

"I am proud of you," he said. "This will be quite a feather in the Oak Hall cap."

"Can we celebrate to-night, Doctor?" asked Roger, quickly.

"You can—up to twelve o'clock. But please don't wreck the school building," and the master of Oak Hall smiled indulgently.

"Oh, it was just too lovely for anything!" cried Vera.

"The best ever!" added Mary.

"I got a number of good snap-shots of the game," said Polly Vane, who was quite an amateur photographer. "I'll have the pictures developed and printed, and give each of you copies to take home."

"That will be splendid, Polly," answered Dave. Later on Dave received his set of pictures, and took them to Crumville, where he showed them to Jessie and the others with much pride.

"That contest was harder than the one on the gridiron," remarked Phil, when they were returning to Oak Hall in one of the big sleighs.

"Rockville meant to win," said Buster. "And it looked as if they would win, at first."

"They have a star player in Mallory," said Ben. "But one star doesn't make a team."

"Say, that puts me in mind of a story," began Shadow. "Once three fellows——" But then he broke off short, as a handful of soft snow thrown by Roger took him full in the mouth.

"Keep your stories for to-night, Shadow!" cried Dave. "Now for a song!" And then the crowd in the sleigh began singing at the top of their lungs.

It was assuredly a grand victory, and that evening the whole school celebrated, with bonfires, singing, and dancing. Dave was called on for a speech. Plum took part in the celebration, for he was not seriously injured.

"And now for the holidays and home!" said Dave, on the following Monday morning. "Just two weeks more of the grind, boys!"

"They'll soon slip by," said Phil.

"Dave, do you imagine that Merwell and Jasniff will return to Rockville?" continued the shipowner's son.

"I don't know—perhaps, after a while—when they think I will drop the charge against them."

"Perhaps they are too scared to come back," said Phil.

"They are bad eggs," murmured Dave. But how bad, he was still to learn. He was to meet Merwell and Jasniff again, and what that pair did to injure him and those he so dearly loved will be told in another volume of this series, to be entitled: "Dave Porter on Cave Island; or, A Schoolboy's Mysterious Mission." In that book we shall meet Dave and many others of our characters again, and learn the particulars of a happening at Crumville that was as dismaying as it was perplexing.

"Well, let us forget Merwell and Jasniff," said Roger. "Say, that hockey victory has made me feel two years younger."

"That and a letter he got from Laura," murmured Phil.

"Humph, as if I didn't see the letter you got from Belle Endicott," retorted the senator's son.

"Dave got a letter, too—from Jessie," went on Phil. "Perhaps——"

"Hi, you fellows, get through grinding, and come for a skate!" shouted Ben, bursting into the dormitory. "The ice was never better."

"That's the talk!" cried Dave, throwing down his Latin grammar. "First fellow to get his skates on gets a ginger snap!"

And off he ran, with the others at his heels. And here for the present we will say good-by to Dave Porter, his chums, and his rivals.