For a few moments Drayne hung about
outside, irresolute. Then his native shrewdness
“Not to go in, after having
been seen here in the yard would be to confess whatever
anyone wants to charge,” muttered Phin.
“Of course I’ll go in. And I’ll
just stand there and look more and more astounded
every time that anyone says anything. Brass,
Phin –brass! Oh, I’d like
to see anyone down me!”
So, with all the swagger he could
put on, this young Benedict Arnold of the school stepped
into the Board room. As he entered, the clerk
of the Board hastened toward him.
“Step into this anteroom at
the side, Mr. Drayne, until you’re called,”
the clerk directed. “There will be some
routine business to be transacted first. Then,
I believe, the Board has a few questions it desires
to ask you.”
Left by himself, the young man began
to be a good bit frightened. He was brave enough
in matters requiring only physical courage. But
in this instance the culprit knew that he had been
guilty of a contemptibly mean act, and the knowledge
of it made a moral coward of him.
“What are they doing?
Trying to sentence, me to solitary confinement?”
wondered the young man, when minute after minute went
by without any call for him. In the Board room
he could hear the droning of voices.
“And that Dick Prescott is out
there, sitting at a reporter’s table, ready
to take in all that happens,” muttered Phin savagely.
“Won’t he enjoy himself, though?”
At last it seemed to Phin as though
a hush fell over those in the next room. But
it was only that voices had been much lowered.
Then a door opened, the clerk looking in and calling:
“Mr. Drayne, will you come before the Board
Phin passed into the larger apartment.
Seated in one chair was Dr. Thornton; in another
chair Mr. Morton. And Dick Prescott was there,
but gathering up his writing materials as though about
The chairman waited in silence until
Prescott had passed out of the Board room. After
the clerk had closed the door the chairman announced:
“The Board is now in executive
session. Dr. Thornton, we will listen to the
matter which we understand you wish to bring before
us for consideration.”
Composedly Dr. Thornton stepped to
the edge of the table, standing there, resting his
left hand on the table as he began to speak.
In simple words, without any visible
emotion, the High School principal stated what he
understood of the receipt of copies of the football
signal code by the captains of rival football elevens.
Next Mr. Morton took the stand, so
to speak, and went much more into detail. He
told what the reader already knows, producing several
of the copies returned by the honorable captains of
other school teams.
Then Mr. Morton put in evidence, with
these copies of the code, copies of business letters
received from Drayne’s father, and presumably
written on the Drayne office machine.
“If you examine these exhibits,
gentlemen, I think you will agree that the betrayed
code and the business letters were written on one
and the same machine. The use of the magnifying
glass makes it even more plain.”
Then Mr. Morton sat down.
“Now, young Mr. Drayne, what
have you to say?” demanded the presiding officer.
“Why should I say anything,
sir?” demand Drayne, with an impudent assumption
of swaggering ease.
“Then you admit the truth of the charges, Mr.
“I do not.”
“Then you must really have something to say.”
“I have heard a charge made
against me. I am waiting to have it proved.”
“Do you admit,” asked
the presiding officer, “that these copies of
the code were written on your father’s office
“I do not, sir. But, if
it be true, is that any proof that I made those copies
of the signal code? Is it argued that I alone
have access to the typewriter in my father’s
office. For that matter, if I have an enemy
in the High School and I must have several –wouldn’t
it be possible for that enemy, or several of them,
to slyly break into my father’s office and use
that particular typewriting machine?”
This was confidently delivered, and
it made an undoubted impression on at least two or
three members of the Board. But now Mr. Morton
broke in, quietly:
“I thought some such attempt
as this might be made. So I waited until I saw
what the young man’s line of defense might be.
Here is an envelope in which one of the copies was
received by the captain of a rival football team.
You will note that the sender, while understanding
something about the use of a type machine, was plainly
a novice in directing an envelope on the typewriter.
So he addressed this envelope in handwriting.
Here is the envelope in question, and here is one
of Mr. Drayne’s school examination papers, also
in his own handwriting. I will ask the members
of the Board to examine both.”
There was silence, while the copies
passed from hand to hand, Drayne losing color at this
“Be brassy!” he whispered
to himself. “You’ll pull through,
Phin, old boy.”
“I am sorry to say, Mr. Drayne,
that the evidence appears to be against you,”
declared the chairman slowly.
“It may, sir,” returned
the boy, “but it isn’t conclusive evidence.”
“Have you anything more to say,
Mr. Morton?” asked the chairman, looking at
“Plenty, Mr. Chairman, if the
Board will listen to me.”
“Proceed, Mr. Morton.”
The football coach thereupon launched
into a swiftly spoken tirade against the “brand
of coward and sneak” who would betray his school
in such a fashion. Without naming Phin, Mr. Morton
analyzed the motives and the character of such a sneak,
and he did it mercilessly, although in the most parliamentary
language. Nor did he look toward the boy, but
Phin was squirming under the lash, his face alternately
red or ghastly.
“For such a scoundrel,”
continued Mr. Morton, “there is no hope greater
than the penitentiary! He is fit for nothing
else. Such a traitor would betray his best friend,
or his country. Such a sneak would be dead to
all feelings of generosity. The smallest meannesses
must envelop his soul. Why, sir, the sender of
these copies of the signal code was so mean, so small
minded, so sneaking and so utterly selfish” –how
Phin squirmed in his seat! –“that,
in sending the envelopes through the mail he was not
even man enough to pay full postage. Four cents
was the postage required for each envelope, but this
small-souled sneak, this ungenerous leech actually
made the receivers pay half of the postage on ‘due-postage’
“I didn’t!” fairly
screamed red-faced Phin, leaping up out of his chair.
“I stuck a four-cent stamp on each envelope
myself! I remem-----”
Of a sudden he stopped in his impetuous
burst of language. A great hush fell in the
room. Phin felt himself reeling with a new fright.
“Then,” demanded Mr. Morton,
in a very low voice, his face white, “why did
you deny having sent out these envelopes containing
the copies of the code?”
There was a shuffling of feet.
Two or three of the Board laughed harshly.
“Oh, well!” burst almost
incoherently from the trapped boy. “When
you employ such methods as these you make a fellow
tell on himself!”
All his ‘brass’ was gone
now. He looked, indeed, a most pitiable object
as he stood there, his lower jaw drooped and his cheeks
“I think you have said about
all, Mr. Drayne, that it is necessary for you to say,”
interposed the chairman. “Still, in the
interest of fair play we will allow you to make any
further statements that you may wish to make.
Have you anything to offer?”
“No!” he uttered, at last, gruffly.
At a sign from the chairman the clerk
stepped silently over, took Phin by one elbow, and
led him to the door. Phin passed on out of the
building, stumbling blindly. He got home, somehow,
and into bed.
In the morning, however, even a sneak is braver.
“What can they do to me, anyway?”
muttered Phin, as he dressed. “I didn’t
break any of the laws of the state! All anyone
can do is to cut me. I’ll show ’em
all how little I care for their contempt.”
So it was not wholly in awe that Phin
Drayne entered the general assembly room the next
morning, a few minutes before opening time. Several
of the students greeted him pleasantly enough.
Phin was quick to conclude that the news had not
leaked anyway, beyond the members of the football
Then came the opening of the session.
The singing books lay on the desks before the students.
Instead, however, of calling out the page on which
the morning’s music would be found, Dr. Thornton
held his little gavel in his hand, after giving a preliminary
rap or two on his desk.
“I have something to say to
the students of the school this morning,” began
Dr. Thornton, in a low but steady voice. “It
is something which, I am happy to state, I have never
before been called upon to say.
“One of the most valuable qualities
in any man or woman is loyalty. All of us know,
from our studies in history and literature, many conspicuous
and noble examples of loyalty. We have also,
in our mind’s eye, some examples of the opposite
qualities, disloyalty and treachery. Outside
of sacred history one of the most conspicuous examples
of betrayal was that of Benedict Arnold.”
Every boy and girl now had his eyes
turned fixedly on the old principal. Outside
of the football squad no student had any idea what
was coming. Phin tried to look wholly unconscious.
Dr. Thornton spoke a little more on
the meanness of treachery and betrayal. Then,
looking straight over at the middle of the third aisle
on the boys’ side of the room, the principal
“Mr. Drayne, stand by your desk!”
Phin was up, hardly knowing how he
accomplished the move. Every pair of eyes in
the room was focused on him.
“Mr. Drayne,” continued
the principal, and now there was a steely glitter
of contempt in the old man’s eyes, “you
were displeased because you did not attain to as high
honors on the football eleven as you had hoped.
In revenge you made copies of the code signals of
the team, and mailed a copy to the captain of nearly
every team against which Gridley High School is to
play this year.”
There came, from all parts of the
room, a gasp of incredulous amazement.
“Your infamy, your treachery
and betrayal, Mr. Drayne, were traced back to you,”
continued the principal. “You were forced
to admit it, last night, before the Board of Education.
That Board has passed sentence in your case.
Mr. Drayne, you are found utterly unfit to associate
with the decent manhood and womanhood to be found
in the student body of this High School. By the
decision of the Board you are now expelled from this
school. You will take your books and belongings
and leave instantly. You will never presume
to enter through the doors of this school again.
From Phin came an angry snarl of defiance.
He tried to shout out, to tell the principal and
his late fellow students how little, or less than
little, he cared about their opinions.
But the words stuck in his throat.
Ere he could try again, a hiss arose from one quarter
of the room. The hiss grew and swelled.
Phin realized, though he dared not look about him any
longer, that the hissing came as much from the girls
as from the boys.
Drayne did not attempt to bend over
his desk. Instead, he marched swiftly down the
half of the aisle, then past the platform toward the
“Mr. Drayne,” called Dr.
Thornton, “you have not taken your books, or
paper or other desk materials.”
“I leave them, sir,” shouted
Phin, above the tumult of hissing, “for the
use of some of your many pauper students.”
Then he went out, slamming the door
after him. He darted down to the basement, then
waited before the locker door until one of the monitors
came down, unlocked the door, and allowed Phin to
get his hat. But the monitor never looked at
him, or spoke.
Once out of the building, Phin could
keep back the choking sob and tears no longer.
Stealing down a side street, where he would have
to pass few people, Phin gave way to his pent-up shame.
Yet in it all there was nothing of repentance.
He was angry with himself –in a
fiendish rage toward others.
Afterwards, he learned that the books
and other contents of his desk were burned in the
school yard at recess, to the singing of a dirge.
But, even for the purpose of making a bonfire of
his books the students would not touch the articles
with their hands. They coaxed the janitor to
find a pair of tongs, and with this implement Phin’s
books and papers were conveyed to the purifying blaze.
Behind the door in the privacy of
his own room Phin Drayne shook his fist at the surrounding
“I have one mission in life,
now, anyway!” raged the boy. “I’ve
got some cruel scores to pay. You, Dick Prescott,
shall come in for a large share of the payment!
No matter how long I have to wait and plan, or what
I have to risk, you shan’t get away from me!”