The rain fell in a steady, remorseless drizzle upon the rain-coats and umbrellas of the throng that blocked the sidewalks and overflowed on to the car-tracks; but the fires of patriotism were unquenchable, and a thousand voices arose to the leaden sky in a fierce clamor of intense enthusiasm. It had rained all night. The streets ran water, and the spouts emptied their tides between the feet of the cheerers. The lumbering cars, their crimson sides glistening, clanged their way carefully through the crowds, and lent a dash of color to the scene. The back of Grays loomed cheerless and bleak through the drizzle, and beyond, the college yard lay deserted. In store windows the placards were hidden behind the blurred and misty panes, and farther up the avenue, the tattered red flag above Foster’s hung limp and dripping.
Under the leafless elm, the barge, filled to overflowing with departing heroes, stood ready for its start to Boston. On the steps, bareheaded and umbrellaless, stood Benham, ’95, who, with outstretched and waving arms, was tempting the throng into ever greater vocal excesses.
“Now, then, fellows! Three times three for Meredith.”
“’Rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! Meredith!” A thousand throats raised the cry; umbrellas clashed wildly in mid-air; the crowd surged to and fro; horses curveted nervously; and the rain poured down impartially upon the reverend senior and the clamorous freshman.
“Fellows, you’re not half cheering!” cried the relentless Benham. “Now, three long Harvards, three times three and three long Harvards for the team.”
“Har-vard, Har-vard, Har-vard! ’Rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! ’rah, ’rah, ’rah! Har-vard, Har-vard, Har-vard! Team!”
Inside the coach there was a babel of voices. Members of the eleven leaned out and conversed jerkily with friends on the sidewalk. Valises and suit-cases were piled high in the aisle and held in the owners’ laps. The manager was checking off his list.
“Hey? Oh, yes; I’m here.” The manager folded the list. Then a penciled line on the margin caught his eye.
“Who’s Jameson? Jameson here?”
“Should be Jimpson,” corrected the man next to him; and a low voice called from the far end of the barge:
“Here, sir.” It sounded so much like the response of a schoolboy to the teacher that the hearers laughed with the mirth begot of tight-stretched nerves. A youth wearing a faded brown ulster, who was between Gates, the big center, and the corner of the coach, grew painfully red in the face, and went into retirement behind the big man’s shoulder.
“Who is this fellow Jimpson?” queried a man in a yellow mackintosh.
“Jimpson? He’s a freshie. Trying for right half-back all fall. I suppose Brattle took him along, now that Ward’s given up, to substitute Sills. They say he’s an A 1 runner, and plucky. He’s played some on the second eleven. Taunton told me, the other day, that he played great ball at Exeter, last year.”
The strident strains of the Washington Post burst out on the air, urging the cheerers to even greater efforts. They were cheering indiscriminately now. Trainer, rubbers, and coaches had received their shares of the ovation. But Benham, ’95, with his coat soaked through, was still unsatisfied, and sought for further tests. Two professors, half hidden under umbrellas, had emerged from the yard, and were standing at a little distance, watching the scene.
“Three times three for Professor Dablee!” The cheers that followed were mixed with laughter, and the two professors moved off, but not until the identity of the second had been revealed, and the air had filled with the refrain of “’Rah, ’rah, ’rah! Pollock!”
“They look as though they ought to win; don’t you think so?” asked one of them.
The other professor frowned.
“Yes, they look like that; every eleven does. You’d think, to see them before a game, that nothing short of a pile-driver or dynamite could drive them an inch. And a few days later they return, heartbroken and defeated.”
Across the square floated a husky bellow:
“Now, then, fellows! Once more! All together! Three times three for Harvard!”
The band played wildly, frenziedly, out of time and tune; the crowd strained its tired throats for one last farewell slogan; the men in the barge waved their hands; the horses jumped forward; a belated riser in Holyoke threw open a front window, and drowsily yelled, “Shut up”; and the Harvard eleven sped on its way up the avenue, and soon became a blur in the gray vista.
“Say, Bob, you forgot to cheer Jimpson.”
The wearied youth faced his accuser, struck an attitude indicative of intense despair, and then joyfully seized the opportunity.
“Fellows! Fellows! Hold on! Three times three for Jim – Jim – who’d you say?”
“Jimpson,” prompted the friend.
“Three times three for Jimpson! Now, then, all together!”
“Say – who is Jimpson?” shouted a dozen voices at once.
“Don’t know. Don’t care. Three times three for Jimpson!”
And so that youth, had he but known it, received a cheer, after all. But he didn’t know it – at least, not until long afterward, when cheers meant so much less to him.
New Haven, Conn., November 19.
Dear Mother: I can imagine your surprise upon receiving a letter from this place, when your dutiful son is supposed to be “grinding” in No. 3 °College House, Cambridge. And the truth is that the dutiful son is surprised himself. Here am I, with some thirty-five other chaps, making ready for the big football game with Yale to-morrow. Here is how it happened:
Yesterday morning, Brattle – he’s our captain – came to my room, routed me out of bed, and told me to report to the coaches for morning practise. You know, I’ve been trying for substitute right half-back. Ward, the regular, sprained his knee in the Dartmouth game, and a few days ago it went lame again. So now Sills has Ward’s place, and I’m to substitute Sills. And if he gets laid out – and maybe I ought to hope he won’t – I go in and play. What do you think of that? Of course Sills may last the entire game; but they say he has a weak back, only he won’t own up to it, and may have to give up after the first half. Gates told me this on the train. Gates is the big center, and weighs 196. He is very kind, and we chummed all the way from Boston. I didn’t know any of the fellows, except a few by sight – just enough to nod to, you know.
We left Cambridge in a driving rain, and a big crowd stood out in it all, and cheered the eleven, and the captain, and the college, and everything they could think of. Every fellow on the first and second elevens, and every “sub” was cheered – all except Mr. Jimpson. They didn’t know of his existence! But I didn’t feel bad – not very, anyhow. I hope the rest of the fellows didn’t notice the omission, however. But I made up my mind that if I get half a show, I’ll make ’em cheer Jimpson, too. Just let me get on the field. I feel to-night as though I could go through the whole Yale team. Perhaps if I get out there, facing a big Yale man, I’ll not feel so strong.
You know, you’ve always thought I was big. Well, to-day I overheard a fellow asking one of the men, “Who is that little chap with the red cheeks?” I’m a midget beside most of the other fellows. If I play to-morrow, I’ll be the lightest man on the team, with the exception of Turner, our quarter-back, who weighs 158. I beat him by three pounds.
Such a hubbub as there is in this town to-night! Everybody seems crazy with excitement. Of course I haven’t the slightest idea who is going to win, but to look at our fellows, you’d think they would have things their own way. I haven’t seen any of the Yale players. We practised on their field for an hour or so this afternoon, but they didn’t show up. There was a big crowd of Yale students looking on. Of course every fellow of us did his very worst; but the spectators didn’t say anything – just looked wise.
Most of the fellows are terribly nervous to-night. They go around as though they were looking for something, and would cry if they didn’t find it soon. And the trainer is the worst of all. Brattle, the captain, is fine, though. He isn’t any more nervous than an alligator, and has been sitting still all the evening, talking with a lot of the old graduates about the game. Once he came in the writing-room, where I’m sitting, and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he smiled, and said to tell you that if anything happened he’d look after my remains himself! Maybe he thought I was nervous. But if I am, I’m not the only one. Gates is writing to his mother, too, at the other table.
Give my love to Will and Bess. Tell Will to send my old skates to me. I shall want them. There is fine skating on Fresh Pond, which, by the way, is a lake.
We’re ordered off to bed. I guess some of us won’t sleep very well. I’m rather excited myself, but I guess I’m tired enough to sleep. I’ll write again when I get back to college. With bushels of love to all,Yours affectionately,Tom.
Jimpson sat on the ground, and watched with breathless interest two charging, tattered, writhing lines of men. Jimpson felt a good deal like an outcast, and looked like a North American Indian. Only legs and face were visible; the rest of Jimpson was enveloped in a big gray blanket with barbaric red borders. Some two dozen counterparts of Jimpson sat or lay near by, stretching along the side-line in front of the Harvard section of the grand stand. Behind them a thousand enthusiastic mortals were shouting pæans to the goddess of victory, and, unless that lady was deaf, she must have heard the pæans, however little she approved of them. The most popular one was sung to a well-known tune:
“As we’re strolling through Fifth Avenue
With an independent air,
The ladies turn and stare,
The chappies shout, ‘Ah, there!’
And the population cries aloud,
‘Now, aren’t they just the swellest crowd,
The men that broke Old Eli at New Haven!’”
And a mighty response swept across the field from where a bank of blue rose from the green of the field to the lighter blue of the sky. It was a martial air, with a prophecy of victory:
“Shout aloud the battle-cry
На этой странице вы можете прочитать онлайн книгу «The Arrival of Jimpson, and Other Stories for Boys about Boys», автора Ralph Barbour. Данная книга имеет возрастное ограничение 12+, относится к жанрам: «Зарубежная классика», «Зарубежные детские книги».. Книга «The Arrival of Jimpson, and Other Stories for Boys about Boys» была издана в 2017 году. Приятного чтения!