Thursday night and Friday morning
more copies of the betrayed signals poured in upon
Wherever these signals had been received
by captains of other school teams, it soon appeared,
these captains of rival elevens had punctually mailed
them back. It spoke volumes for the honor of
the American schoolboy, for Gridley High School was
feared far and wide on the gridiron, and there was
not an eleven in the state but would have welcomed
an honorable way of beating Prescott’s men.
Moreover, working on Dick’s
suggestion, Mr. Morton busied himself with securing
several letters that had been received from Drayne’s
These letters were compared, Friday
evening, with the copies of the signals that had been
sent to other elevens. Under a magnifying glass
these collected papers all exhibited one fact that
the letters and the copies of the signal code had
been struck off on a machine having the same peculiarities
as to worn faces of certain types. It was thus
rather clearly established that Phin Drayne must have
used the typewriting machine that stood in his father’s
Drayne was not at school on Friday.
Instead, an excuse of illness was received from him.
Nor did Mr. Morton say anything to
Dr. Thornton, the principal, until the end of the
Just after school had been dismissed,
at one o’clock Friday afternoon, Mr. Morton
called Dr. Thornton to the private office, and there
laid before him the charges and the proofs.
That fine old gentleman was overwhelmed
with grief that “one of his boys” should
have done such an utterly mean, wanton and dishonorable
“This can’t be passed
by, Mr. Morton,” exclaimed Dr. Thornton brokenly.
“If you will kindly leave the proofs in my hands,
I will see that the whole matter is taken up officially.”
Friday afternoon the football squad
met for more practice with the new signals.
Friday evening each young man who was scheduled as
being even likely to play the next day studied over
the signals at home, then, under orders, burned his
copy of the code. Saturday morning the squad
met for some more practice, though not much.
“I believe all of us are in
trim now, sir,” Captain Prescott reported to
the coach. “I am rather sure all of our
men know the new signals by heart, and there’ll
be no confusion. But, of course, for the first
game, the old snap of our recent practice will be missing.
It has been a hard blow to us.”
“If we have to lose to-day’s
game,” muttered Mr. Morton, “I’ll
be almost satisfied to lose it to Tottenville, after
the manly and straightout conduct of Mr. Jarvis!”
“That same line of thought would
make us content to go through a losing season, for
all the fellows in other towns who received that
betrayed code sent the information right back to us,”
smiled Prescott. “But we’re not
going to lose to-day’s game, Mr. Morton, nor
any other day’s. Drayne’s treachery
has just about crazed the other fellows with anger.
They’ll win everything ahead of ’em,
now, just for spite and disgust, if for no better reason.”
“Sometimes anger serves a good
purpose,” laughed Mr. Morton. “But
it was pitiful to look at poor old Dr. Thornton yesterday
afternoon. At first I thought he was going to
faint. He seemed suddenly to grow ten years
older. It cut him to the quick. He loves
every one of his boys, and to have one of them go bad
is just as painful to him as to see his own son sent
to the penitentiary.”
“Is Dr. Thornton coming to the
game this afternoon, sir?”
“Yes; he has never missed one
yet, in any year that he has been principal of Gridley
“Then we’ll make that
fine old American gentleman feel all right again by
the grand game that we’ll put up,” promised
Dick vehemently. “I’ll pass the word,
and the fellows will strain themselves to the last
Orders were issued to the gate tenders
to throw Drayne out if he presented himself at the
Drayne did put in an appearance, and
he got through the gate to a seat on the grand stand,
but it was no fault of the gate tenders.
Drayne had spent some of his spare
money at the costumer’s. With his trim,
rather slim figure Phin Drayne made up rather well
as a girl. He wore black –mourning
throughout, perhaps in memory of his departed honor –and
a heavy veil covered his face. In this disguise
Drayne sat where he could see what would happen.
At the outset it was Gridley’s
kick off, and for the next ten minutes Tottenville
had the ball, fighting stubbornly with it. But
at last, when forced half way down the field between
center and its own goal line, Gridley blocked so well
in the three following plays that the pigskin came
to the home eleven.
Dick bent over, holding the ball for
the snapback, while his battle front formed on each
side of him.
Dave Darrin, quarter-back, raced back
a few steps, then halted, looking keenly, swiftly
over the field.
Phin Drayne drew his breath sharply.
Then his heart almost stopped beating as he listened.
“Thirty-eight –nine –eleven –four!”
sounded Darrin’s voice, sharp and clear.
“That’s the run around
the left end!” throbbed Phin Drayne.
But it wasn’t. A fake
kick, followed by a cyclonic impact at the right followed.
“They’ve changed the signals!”
gulped the guilty masquerader behind the black veil.
“Then they’ve found out.”
With this came the next disheartening thought:
“That’s the reason, then,
why the coach ordered me out of the field Thursday
afternoon. Morton is wise. I wonder if
he has told it all around?”
Gridley High School was doing some
of its brilliant, old-style play now. Prescott
was proving himself an ideal captain, quick-witted,
full of strategy, force, push and dash, yet all the
while displaying the best of cool judgment in sizing
up the chances of the hard battle.
But that which Phin Drayne noted most
of all was that every signal used had a different
meaning from that employed in the code he had mailed
to the captains of the other school teams.
“It was all found out, and Gridley
wasn’t hurt,” thought Phin, gnashing his
teeth. “Good luck always seems to follow
that fellow Prescott! Can’t he be beaten?
We shall see! Prescott, my fine bully, I’m
not through with you yet.”
The first half ended without either
side scoring. Impartial onlookers thought that
perhaps formidable Tottenville had had rather the
better of it, but no one could tell with certainty
which was the better team.
When neither side scores in the first
half that which remains to be determined is, which
side will show the bigger reserve of vitality in the
And now the ball was off again, with
twenty-two men pursuing and fighting for it as though
the fate of the nation hung on the result. Dick,
too, soon had things moving at a gait that had all
Gridley standing up and boosting with all the powers
of lungs, hands and feet.
All that remained to interest Phin
Drayne was to discover whether his late comrades had
sufficiently mastered their new signals not to fail
in their team work.
Once in the second half there was
a brief fluster. Two Gridley men went “woozy”
over the same signal. But alert Dave Darrin
rushed in and snatched a clever advantage out of momentary
After that there was no more confusion.
Gridley took the game by a single touchdown, failing
in the subsequent kick for goal. Five minutes
later time expired.
Feeling doubly contemptible now, and
sick at heart, Phin Drayne crawled weakly down from
the grand stand. He made his way out in the
throng, undetected. He returned to the costumer’s,
got off his sneaking garb and donned his own clothing,
then slipped away out through a back door that opened
on an alleyway.
Not until Sunday afternoon did Drayne
yield to the desire to get out of doors. His
training life had made outer air a necessity to him,
so he yielded to the desire. But he kept to back
Just as luck would have it, Drayne
came suddenly face to face with Dr. Thornton.
The good old principal had a fixed
belief which followed the practice of American law,
to the effect that every accused man is innocent until
he has been proved guilty.
In addition, the doctor had recovered
a good deal from his first depression. Therefore
he was able to meet this offending pupil as he would
want to under the circumstances.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Drayne,”
was Dr. Thornton’s courteous greeting.
“It is beautiful; weather to be out, isn’t
“It is a perfect day, sir,” Drayne replied.
Once he had gotten past the principal
the young wretch gave way to his exultation.
“No charge has been made, then,”
he told himself gloatingly. “If I had been
denounced, the Prin. could hardly have been as gracious.
Well, hang it all, what are charges going to amount
At the High School Monday morning,
both before school and at recess, the members of the
football squad cut Drayne dead.
“They suspect me, but they can’t
prove anything, anyway,” chuckled the traitor
to himself. “Brass, Phin, my boy!
Brass! That is bound to win out when the clodhoppers
can’t prove a blessed thing.”
As none of the students outside of
the squad showed any especial inclination to cut him,
Phin felt almost wholly reassured.
“It would be libelous, anyway,
if the gang passed around a word that they couldn’t
prove,” chuckled Drayne. “So I guess
those that may be doing a heap of thinking will have
caution enough to keep their mouths shut, anyway,”
That afternoon, after luncheon, Phin
Drayne took a long tramp over country roads at the
back of the big town. It was five o’clock
when he returned.
“Here’s a note for you,
on High School stationery,” said Mrs. Drayne,
putting an envelope in her son’s hand.
“It came some time ago.”
Something warned the fellow not to
open the envelope there. He took it to his room,
where he read the letter. It was from Dr. Thornton,
and said only:
"You are directed to appear before
the Board of Education at its stated weekly meeting
to-night. This is urgent, and you are warned
not to fail in giving this summons due heed."
In an instant Phin was white with
fear. His legs trembled under him, and cold
sweat stood out on his neck, face and forehead.
For some moments the young man acted
as though in danger of collapse. Then he staggered
over to the tap at his washbowl, and gulped down a
glass of water. He paced the room restlessly
for a long time, and finally went over and stood looking
out of the window.
“Young man,” he said to
himself severely, “you’ve got to brace,
and brace hard. If you haven’t any nerve,
then getting square is too strenuous a game for you?
Now, what can that gang prove? They can suspect,
and they can charge, but my denial is fully as good
as any other man’s affirmation. Go before
the Board of Education? Of course I will.
And I’ll make any accuser of mine look mighty
small before that august board of local duffers!”
Brave words! They cheered the
young miscreant, anyway. Phin ate his supper
with something like relish. Afterwards he set
out for the High School building, in which the Board
had its offices. Nor did his courage fail him
until he had turned in through the gate.
A young man, whistling blithely, came
in behind him. It was Dick Prescott, erect of
carriage, and brisk and strong of stride, as becomes
a young athlete whose conscience is clear and wholesome.
“Hullo, Prescott, what are you
doing around here to-night?” hailed Drayne.
But Dick seemed not to have heard.
Not a note did he drop in the tune that he was whistling.
Springing up the steps ahead, Dick vanished behind
the big door.
“Oh, of course he goes here
to-night,” thought Phin, with sudden disgust.
“Prescott scribbles for ‘The Blade’
and the Board of Education is one of his stunts each