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Left Guard Gilbert by Ralph Henry Barbour

Fernald had selected the latter punishment


That

would have ended the episode had not Chance taken a hand in affairs. Mr. Fernald very seldom visited a class room during recitations. One could count such occurrences on one hand and the result would have sufficed for the school year. And yet today, for some reason never apparent to the boys, Mr. Fernald happened in.

Harry Westcott was holding forth when the principal's tread caught his attention. Westcott turned his head, saw and instantly stopped.

"Proceed, Westcott," said Mr. Fernald.

Westcott continued, stammeringly and much at random. Mr. Fernald quietly walked up the aisle to the platform. Mr. Moller arose and for a moment the two spoke in low tones. Then the principal nodded, smiled and turned to retrace his steps. As he did so his smiling regard fell upon the occupants of the two front rows. A look of puzzlement banished the smile. Bewilderment followed that. Westcott faltered and stopped altogether. A horrible silence ensued. Then Mr. Fernald turned an inquiring look upon the instructor.

"May I ask," he said coldly, "what this--this quaint exhibition is intended to convey?"

Mr. Moller hesitated an instant. Then: "I think I can explain it better, sir, later on," he replied.

Mr. Fernald bowed, again swept the offenders with a glance of withering contempt and took

his departure. Mr. Moller looked troubledly after him before he turned to Westcott and said kindly: "Now, Westcott, we will go on, if you please."

What passed between principal and instructor later that day was not known, but the result of the interview appeared the next morning when Mr. Fernald announced in chapel that because they had seen fit to publicly insult a member of the faculty he considered it only just to publicly inform the following students that they were placed on probation until further notice. Then followed the names of Hall, Westcott, Byrd, Draper and five others. Mr. Fernald added that but for the intercession of the faculty member whom they had so vilely affronted the punishment would have been far heavier.

Nine very depressed youths took their departure from chapel that morning. To Tom Hall, since the edict meant that he could not play any more football that season, unless, which was scarcely probable, faculty relented within a week or so, the blow was far heavier than to any of the others. Being on probation was never a state to be sought for, but when one was in his last year at school and had looked forward to ending his football career in a blaze of glory, probation was just about as bad as being expelled. In fact, for a day or two Tom almost wished that Mr. Fernald had selected the latter punishment. What made things harder to bear was the attitude of coaches and players and the school at large. After the first shock of surprise and dismay, they had agreed with remarkable unanimity that Tom had not only played the fool, but had proved himself a traitor, and they didn't fail to let Tom know their verdict. For several days he was as nearly ostracised as it was possible to be, and those days were very unhappy ones for him.

Of course Tom was not utterly deserted. Steve Edwards stood by him firmly, fought public opinion, narrowly escaped a pitched battle with the president of the Sixth Form, worried Coach Robey to death with his demands that that gentler man intercede for Tom at the office and tried his best all the time to keep Tom's spirits up. Clint and Don and Tim and a few others remained steadfast, as did Amy, who, blaming himself bitterly for Tom's fix, had done everything he could do to atone. Following that edict in chapel, Amy had sought audience with Mr. Fernald and begged clemency for the others.


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