One of the greatest tests of the true sportsman is that of team-work. A man who is big enough to subordinate his own brilliance to the limitations of his mates is a sportsman.
THROUGH the welter of laughter, badinage and loud pitched conversation came a crisp, coolly modulated voice.
“It isn’t done, Sandy That is the best reason I can give; one doesn’t do it, that’s all.”
Curious, thought Dexter who was stroke of the varsity crew, about the quality of that voice, how it could carry through the uproar and every word be intact, un blurred.
Or was it simply that his own ears were sharply sensitized to it. that its wave lengths for various reasons, or, rather, for one very important reason, were perfectly attuned to his mental antennae?
Slowly, covertly, John Dexter raised his eyes from his plate and glanced down the long table toward Stuyvesant who sat erect, poised as always in that manner of tacit assurance which was so difficult to define, yet so easy to recognize.
Somehow, he had always been a challenge to Dexter, this alert, deft young scion of wealth with his fresh coloring, his brown, crisply waving hair, his blazing hazel eyes. Why thi3 should be so Dexter did not know unless, perhaps, it was that in his very personality, in his accomplishments, Stuyvesant stood always as the exception to deductions otherwise without flaw, to conclusions otherwise complete.
And now what was it that was not done, that one did not do? Dexter frowned. Something picayune, or at least generally inconsequential no doubt. It was usually the minor observances of life, the damnable exterior lights and shades that counted so importantly with the Stuyvesants of this world.
Stuyvesant smiled as he caught Dexter’s eyes before they could be withdrawn, a frank, boyish smile with a characteristic little upward jerk of the chin.
Dexter grimaced unmirthfully which was his habit of smiling, then looked away. He was brawny in physical mould and in nature rugged; a big, lithe, rangy man whose roughly hewn features seemed to proclaim the heritage of the soil, while his splendidly shaped head, notably the high, broad forehead and its crowning mass of unruly hair, bespoke his mental force and capacity.
Turning his gaze out the window where the lawn lay dreaming in the shade of the old, gnarled fruit trees and thence to the river below, Dexter half rose from his chair as a steam yacht moved sedately into the alluring picture framed by the window casing.
He slouched back into his chair resuming his meal while addressing the table generally.
“The Trident is in.”
The veiled chorus that arose was half jovial, half serious.
Two or three got up from the table and went to the window.
There could be no doubting the interest which the advent of the yacht had aroused.
Bronson, the coach, who had just come into the room, turned abruptly and hurried out of the building, making his way down the steps of the bluff to the landing stage.
YNEXTER marked the subdued excitement with faint inward amusement.
The owner of that yacht was Horace Whitehorn, president of the great banking firm of Whitehorn and Co., but more especially chairman of the rowing committee of the university, around whom, as it seemed, the entire scheme of
aquatics revolved, Stuyvesant who was captain of the crew. grimaced. “ I wonder
Whitehorn will have to say to the coach. The rowing critics who’ve been up here haven’t seemed too keen about us.” Raymond, the tall, wiry bow oar, nodded gloomily. “Being a coach is one fine job, isn’t it?” “It is tough,” agreed Stuyvesant, picking up a spoon and toying with it. “The devil of it is that after last year’s showing he’s simply got to put it over this year or he’ll lose his job.” “It’s the price,” observed Dexter, rising from the table, “of spending your life trying to make other fellows do things for you when you ought to be out doing for yourself.” He laughed mirthlessly. “But I know how he feels, because I feel the same way. You fellows are not snapping in on the stroke I’m sending up.” “Why, I think we’re together, John.” The little coxwain’s voice was troubled. “That’s because you’re judging from outward appearances, Sandy,” said Stuyvesant with a touch of sharpness. “As a matter of fact we’re not together. Now listen all—the coach is going to pull a time trial this afternoon and for the love of Mike, dig in to-day and see if we can’t shove the boat along. Let’s get out of here.” There was a general movement from the dining-room to the veranda. On the lawn, dappled with sun and shadow, some of the freshmen and junior varsity oarsmen were playing indoor baseball and the placid
noontide hour echoed with their shouts and laughter. Dexter went to the steps, in fact descended one step and then
step stood hesitating, gazing toward the yacht, which had dropped her anchor and was swinging broadside to the tide. Stuyvesant joined him. “I suppose Shirley Whitehorn came up with her father.” “Yes—” Dexter paused. “I had a letter from her last night saying she was—” He stopped abruptly, inwardly vexed at the motive—it was pride—which had prompted this information. . DOTH men were friends of the financier’s ^ daughter, and for Dexter, the greatest symbol of what he had done with his life thus far was the depth of the terms upon
which he stood with this girl. He glanced sharply at his captain, but Stuyvesant evidently had taken the implication of correspondence between the two as unimportant, or, at least, not surprising. “I think I’ll run out to the yacht. Want to come along?” Dexter shook his head. “No, thanks.” Stuyvesant stared a*: him, a curious smile playing about the corners of his brilliant eyes. “Would you go out if I didn’t go, John?” “No”—Dexter laughed amusedly—“I shouldn’t go whatever you did.” “Oh, I see. That’s fine.” Stuyvesant threw his arm about the other’s shoulders. “You see, I’ve changed my mind about going to the yacht. I’d rather have a little chin-chin with you if you don’t mind. Let’s stroll out there along the road a bit.” “Sure.” So the two men, one with his heavy, swinging stride, the other so erect, so alert, his head so proudly poised, walked out of the yard and down the winding country road with its ancient elms and cottages resting snugly behind quaint dooryards. “John,” said the captain, “what’s wrong with the crew?” Dexter glanced at the man. “Just what do you think is wrong?”
“I wish I knew!” Stuyvesant regarded his companion with troubled eyes. “I know we aren’t a unit yet. We may appear to be, but we’re not. The answer is deep inside of us somewhere.” “There is nothing pyschological about it,” returned Dexter. “The crew is not making the most of the stroke they’re getting. And ifjwe’re going to win they’re got to, that’s all.” Stuyvesant shook his head doubtfully. “I wonder if it is all?” He hesitated a moment. “John, look here; to come to the point of what’s in my mind, do you suppose the fact that you like Shirley Whitehorn a lot and I like her a lot is affecting our coordination? If so I am free to say to you that—” Dexter interrupted him, laughing. “Stuyve. for heaven’s sake, what’s eating you anyway?” “Nothing, except I’m trying to find out where the crew is off.” “Well, if it will ease your mind any, our friendship for Shirley Whitehorn doesn’t figure in the crew situation in any way.” “Good enough!“-
Stuyvasam gestured as though dismissing the matter. “I'm particularly glad just at the moment, since it will prevent an encounter which otherwise might be socially embarrassing.“
He jerked his head sidewise toward a bend in the road where a girl in light summer tweeds, a silk waist open at the throat and caught by a vivid blue scarf and a straw sport hat, was hurrying toward them.
“Hello there, Stuyvie! Hello John!” She stood before the two, her mobile, delicately colored lips parted in a smile, displaying flawless teeth which were neither big nor small Her eyes were gray and level, her hair the tone of raw rtax. Slightly above medium height there was more than a suggestion of resiliency in her poise.
“Father.” she said, simulating great solemnity, “took Mr Bronson into the library and shut the door. Can you imagine, when l was dying to know how things are going’ The papers have been so beastly! So I ran ashore to look you both up.” She paused, glancing from one to the other. "Well, what have you two galley-slaves to say? Don’t tell me that crew down the river is going to beat us again this year.”
Stuyvesant turned to go.
"John will give you the dope. I’ve got two or three letters that’ve got to go to-day."
The girl frowned.
"You mean you don’t wish to talk about the crew?” "Nonsense, Shirley. I really have to go.” He started along the road, glancing back over his shoulder with the remark he would see her at the quarters.
"Of course you will. Oh, Stuyvie”—Shirley raised her voice “I nearly forgot: You and John and Mr. Bronson are booked to dine aboard the Trident to-night. Is that ail right?"
"Rather! At least so far as I'm concerned. Thank you. Shirley.” He playfully threw her a kiss and resumed his course to the camp.
rHY so silent, big boy?” Shirley Whitehorn touched her companion lightly upon the shoulder. They had sauntered down a dip in the road beneath trees whose branches met overhead and were now following it along the river which lay so silent, so blue. The shoreward waters and the bank were lush with marsh grass and tlowers while, on the other side, fragrant walled meadows heaved gently toward a near horizon.
"I was thinking how little Tom Stuyvesant and I have in common in any way. In fact, how little I and any of the crew have. Stuyve and I were just trying to have a talk as you came up. But we couldn’t. There are no points that touch between us.”
“There wouldn’t be.” The girl smiled gravely. “Your background is altogether different. Then, of course, you two are looking forward in different directions. \ ou are socialistic, and if any men have reason to favor the established order of things without thought or question, don't you know, they are Stuyve and Pete Raymond and the rest.”
He frowned. He did not want her to misunderstand his position.
“I'm not totally against the established order.”
“Of course you’re not. That would be silly. Oh”— She tossed her head—‘T know' everything’s not well with the world. Maybe it's a distorted impression I get from my settlement work. But I do feel that way.” He surveyed her thoughtfully. He had never grown accustomed to her philosophical detachment from so many of the precepts and predilections of her own class, nor ceased to admire her quick sympathy and understanding for the class from which he had sprung.
“I suppose I’m awfully stupid,” she went on, “but how can things be changed really? Or, should they be changed? There is no rhyme nor reason, of course, in overthrowing capital and setting new capital up in its place, is there? There will alw'ays be capital in the world?”
"lies." he rejoined, “but not handled or controlled as it is now."
"How then?” She gestured as though not wishing to press the question and went on: “John, answer me this in words of one syllable. Exactly what are you going to do when you go West after Commencement?”
"Why. I’ve told you, often. I’m going to read law with Senator Hardwick, looking to politics.” Dexter’s eyes lightened. “Senator Hardwick is the biggest man in Saskatchewan, leader of a very strong following in the West.”
"What are you going to do, John? And—”
“We’re going to make the people think for themselves about the balance of power they actually hold. Think for themselves: that’s it in a nutshell. We’re going to tell them what to think, show them how to think. When they do this it will be a different country here.” She smiled.
"Possibly it will be. I imagine the sort of difference will hardly appeal to father, or to Tom Stuyvesant’s father.”
He glanced at her quickly.
"That will depend.” he said, “upon whether your
father or Stuyve’s father want all the power and all the opportunities.”
“I think they do,” she shrugged. “Not that they haven’t enough, or that they really want more for the sake of having it. It’s just a game to get it—and they love to play the game.”
Dexter made a swift gesture.
“That’s all right. I’m not blaming them. But they’ve got to co-operate. They’ll enjoy the game more if it is not quite so easy—or so exclusive. That is, they will if they’re sportsmen. In other words, what we’re to fight for is a fairer game.” He glanced toward the river. “I must be getting back. We have a time trial this afternoon.”
"John,” she said, after they had retraced their steps and walked along for a few minutes in thoughtful silence, “I keep thinking about you and what you’re going to do all the time. I don’t suppose it is loyal, but when we talk I can’t help thinking you’re setting out on a wonderful mission.”
He shook his head doggedly.
“Shirley, I saw my father and mother wear their lives out on that Saskatchewan farm of ours. And for what? To pay loans and interest on mortgages. That’s all.” He paused a moment. “Such things can’t go on in this country.”
CHE stole a glance at him, prey to a powerful rush of ^ emotion. The odorous June breeze was playing with his tousled sandy hair; the sunlight lay upon his rugged face. And he was so big, so strong, so compelling in every phase of personality; so different from all the men she knew.
It was not difficult for her to picture him out in the turmoil, buffeting mightily with life; a leader of men, born to achievement. How many of his classmates were thus guerdoned? Very few—if any. Most of them would settle into niches already waiting, or advance and achieve—if it was in them to do this—along the well-defined grooves. Who of his generation would be able to stand against him when he got under way, or successfully oppose his will?
He caught the expression upon her face and stopped short.
“Shirley,” he said in a hurried, tense voice, “I’ve never known a girl like you. Never known one so big, so broad or so intelligent. Do you know the power you could have in the world?”
She laughed, but she was flushing vividly.
“You’re flattering me now.”
“No, I’m not and you know I’m not. Westmount, the round of Europe, Muskoka, Palm Beach, and mild dips into settlement and general charity work—bunk! You’re wasting yourself.”
She studied him curiously.
“What shall I do then? I mean how not waste myself?” He regarded her steadily. He had not the slightest feeling of embarrassment, such as he might originally have felt, as of unwarrantable presumption. He had outgrown, developed beyond mere class feeling. Then he spoke rapidly, as though rushing into speech.
“Will you wait for me two years, and then come out and get into the fight with me, giving me the things I can get only from you, and you doing the things only you can do? Shirley, we’ll attain success together. We’ll go somewhere, somewhere high.”
Her lips were parted. She was breathing heavily. As he advanced to her she raised her hand, stepping backward.
“John, please! You mean—you want to marry me?” “Yes, I mean that—if you’ll wait for me.”
“Oh!” She was staring at him, her eyes veiled with emotion. “John! I—I—ought not to be surprised,
ought I? No, I shouldn’t. But then one always is—I mean generally. I—what rot I’m talking, aren’t I!
But—but we’re going to talk about this later. Not now. No. You see—” She was fighting desperately to regain poise; she laughed with a note of hysteria. “You see there is a boat race to win—before anything else.”
“A boat race!” He was staring at her.
“Why yes, a boat race. Don’t tell me you had forgotten it.”
“Why no, of course not. But—” He paused, evidently at loss.
She moved irresolutely, still under the spell of emotion. “John, we never understand why some things in life are big to some and small to others, do we? You know how I love the crew. I suppose it is partly inheritance from father, an old varsity oar. All his life it has been his one enthusiasm aside from business; it has been our great bond. Maybe that’s the reason.”
“Possibly.” He spoke as though she had hurt him. Shirley caught it but she desperately maintained the lighter vein.
“Now tell me, John; do you think we’re going to come together and win? You’re the stroke and ought to know.”
“I’m afraid,” he said quietly, “you’ll have to ask the coach. Do you mind if we walk a little fast, Shirley;
I want to lie down awhile, before we start out in the shell.”
There was a note of sharp exasperation in Bronson’s voice as he ordered the crew to cease rowing.
Dexter leaned forward over his sweep gazing at the advancing launch through upraised eyes. He saw the water curling from each side of the polished bow, losing form immediately in cascades of spray. The coach had given the megaphone to the assistant manager, standing at his side in the bow; but he still held the stop watch in the palm of his hand.
Dexter frowned. He surmised what the coach was about to say and he awaited it, sombrely expectant. The launch glided alongside the fragile shell and ceased headway with a great churning astern.
Saving Dexter, the crew had let go their oars. Several had their heads in their hands; the hands of others rested limply upon the unflexed legs. Their chests were rising and falling under quickened breath; they were spent with the exertion of the time trial.
Dexter turned his eyes from the big slicker-clad man in the launch, glancing at the line of curved brown backs, the hunched shoulders. Then his eyes swept shoreward over the river which had turned purple, noting the lights that were beginning to appear through the trees. By the time the shell reached the float and was housed the reflection of those lights would be lengthening out over the water and the undying spell of the June dusk would be established.
He loved this hour, perhaps because it reminded him so sharply of home—the billowing fields softening against the horizon of this vast western land, the lamps of the farm house enlivening the dark bulk of the windbreak grove that protected it. He wished he was there now, out in that country, launched upon his career, not mooning here on this river of futility.
“The time was not too good, fellows. Not too satisfactory.”
A light glanced across Dexter’s eyes as he saw the form of Shirley Whitehorn’s father half rise from the seat in the stern, then settle back. Capital, the thought occurred, was displeased now—as capital always is when conditions arise that money and power cannot resolve.
Somehow he was failing to share the concern of the coach, of Whitehorn, of all the other members of the eight. He felt the eyes of the coach upon him. Unaccountably he flushed.
“John, I haven’t the slightest fault to find with you. You were perfect, as usual; the best natural oar I ever saw.”
He was all of that. He had never seen a shell before coming to college. A perfect oar, and the lines of his sun-bronzed body were those of a sculptured figure, something of Rodin’s.
Bronson turned to the other members of the crew; the usual footless questions as to mechanical changes in rig that had been made against this trial; the usual run of criticism as to rushing slides and washing out; minor criticisms delivered in most cases without warrant and because the coach was groping at mystery.
“What do you think, Stuyvesant?” The coach gestured toward the captain.
Stuyvesant turned his head backward over his shoulder before replying, fixing Dexter with curious, speculative eyes.
“I couldn’t catch anything definite,” he said at length. “I could feel we were not getting it, sir.”
Bronson shook his head slowly.
“You were not, that’s true. I can’t pick vital flaws. But you’re not together.” He paused. “Where is the soul of this crew?”
For a moment there was silence save for the rush of water past the shell and the creaking of the idle oarlocks.
“All right.” Bronson slipped the watch into his pocket and nodded. “The regatta comes next Saturday. We’ll work along and have another shot at the watch on Thursday. That’s all. Paddle to the boat house.”
The coxswain barked an order. The crew bent forward to the catch with a low growling of the slides, the rattling of pins; deep water swirls went silently aft.
CREW matters were not discussed at the dinner aboard the Trident. The manner of the owner toward Bronson, who sat at his left, had been politely casual throughout. If the crew lost on Saturday and Whitehorn deemed it expedient to bring about the coach’s dismissal he would proceed in the matter, thought Dexter, with a manner equally casual.
But there would be nothing indefinite, none the less about a single move. Bronson’s daughters whom he was sending through college, nor, in fact, any consideration calling for sympathy, would delay the process.
Well, Dexter could understand. Any man who uses tools will not tolerate flawed ones. He meant to employ tools himself, many of them, and necessarily there would be no place in his kit for any implement that did not meet the test.
For that matter he had no criticism at all to Continued on page 39
Continued from page 18
make of his host. He was a big man engaged in the game—Shirley had called it a game, and that was what it was—of accumulating money and power. That was all right; it was the rules under which the game was played, or rather the susceptibility of the rules to deviously skilled violation that was wrong. There is where he and the Whitehorns of this country would come to issue. And so he regarded the great man now, not enviously nor with bitterness, but with the interest, respect and appreciation of an opponent who is not sufficiently a fool to underestimate the qualities of the men he intends to meet.
He had asked this man’s daughter to marry him, to fight with him. Here was something grimly ironical, even granting he adored Shirley far beyond all questions of practical moment. Quite ironical, just the same. Supposing they should become engaged? What would Whitehorn do? His daughter had his inflexible mentality. And other inherited qualities. Yet now for the first time he felt a certain uneasiness. Combating it, he studied those at the table.
There was Bronson ; at the highest appraisal a futile sort. Obviously he was in awe of Whitehorn. And in the luxurious environment of this great yacht he was not wholly at ease.
Contrasted to the coach, Stuyvesant, in his easy demeanor, his offhand savoir faire made the man seem a pitiable figure. Probably, thought Dexter, an observer would find him in no better state. But, as he told himself defensively, this had no direct concern with the great financier; nor with his magnificent environment— only inasmuch as it placed before his mind a concrete impression of just what he had asked of Shirley Whitehorn. But this was enough; it was, in fact, thoroughly disturbing. He was assailed by a sense of vast presumption.
He glanced toward Shirley, but failed to catch her eyes. She and Stuyvesant had been together before dinner and their demeanor at table seemed to suggest that something of common interest or significance had developed between them— something evidently not light in its nature.
WHEN coffee had been served and the chief steward was bending over Whitehorn with quiet unction, holding before his master a case of cigars of assorted lengths, the girl rose with a manner of decision.
“I think, father, if you don’t mind. I’ll walk the deck while you smoke. You know you’re never very entertaining until you’re half through your cigar.” As the man nodded she turned to Stuyvesant. “Come along, Stuyvie; I want company.” Dexter, who had half risen, settled back in his chair, gazing down upon the table with smoldering eyes. Lost in thought, he did not hear Whitehorn until the man had addressed him a second time. Then he started abruptly.
“I—I—beg your pardon, sir.”
“I said I had heard you were going to join forces with Hardwick.”
“Yes, sir, that is what I plan to do.” “Wouldn’t want to change your mind would you, and go into my railroad; into the coal region as sort of a liaison—” a gleam crept into the fierce gray eyes— “between capital and labor?”
Dexter was immediately thrilled with a variety of emotions. But one finally dominated as he gazed thoughtfully at the financier. So this was the first gun! Well, the range had been darned poor.
“Thank you,” he replied at length. “That is flattering, Mr. Whitehorn. It makes me feel proud, coming from you. But I’ve absolutely decided.”
“I see.” Whitehorn took his cigar from his mouth and studied the ash. “For your own good—for the good of a lot of persons —I’d think it all over before deciding finally. You understand, I guess, that
the idea involves something of a concession.”
“Yes, sir.” Dexter’s voice and manner expressed nothing other than a desire to be courteous.
“Very good.” Whitehorn leaned back in his chair and relapsed into thoughtful scrutiny of the clouds of smoke he was sending up from his cigar. As the minutes passed Dexter and Bronson engaged in desultory conversation, low-pitched so as not to disturb the mood of their host.
Presently a steward appeared in the doorway, looking at Dexter.
“Miss Whitehorn wants to know, if you’re not busy, can you come aft, sir?”
DEXTER rose with a word of excuse to his host and made his way out upon the deck. He paused a moment struck by the beauty of the moonlit night, his eyes brooding upon the luminous waters and upon the serene silvered hills that lay bey ond. He was very sensitive to all impressions of nature and they were heightened now by the mood of depression which he had been trying without success to fight down at dinner.
The grim, toilsome pageantry of his life thus far unrolled itself before his eyes— and the future, fired though it might be by the flames of ambition and high purpose, did not enliven him.
Filled with a pervading bitterness, he lifted his face slowly toward the moon, his brows drawn into deep lines, his hands clenched rigidly. Right or no right, he loved Shirley Whitehorn. It was not to be reasoned about, not to be analyzed. What she was, she was, and he was what he was. And he loved her. There was the fact. And it could not be helped. Suddenly he relaxed as with a manner of decision and walked swiftly astern.
Shirley Whitehorn stood alone, awaiting him. So surprising, in a measure so startling, was it to find her thus, that for a moment Dexter could not speak; he stood awkwardly before her.
“Tom has gone into the library,” she said quietly. “Now I want to talk to you.” “Yes.” He was at loss to understand her manner, which was strange to him.
“John, I’ve had an amazing little talk with Stuyve, and now I want to get your views about the crew. Suppose we lose?” She held up her hand as he made to speak. “Oh, I know what you think—that excitement over winning or losing is futile and silly. But there are eight chaps in that boat besides you who don’t take it so philosophically. And thousands upon thousands of alumni.”
He regarded her calmly.
“When there are two crews in a race one has to lose, you know.”
“This is not a debate, John.” She moved impatiently. “Don’t you really care awfully whether we win or lose?” “Yes, I want to win, of course. But I’m not putting a false value on victory or the wrong emphasis on defeat.”
“Then why on earth are you on the crew, John?”
“Because I like to row, because I enjoy the exercise and am interested in working out my theories of rowing.”
“Ah!” Her voice was vibrant. ‘ Your theories! Then Tom Stuyvesant was right.”
He stared at her.
‘What do you mean, he was right?” “He’s been studying what was wrong with the crew for more than a week and to-day he found out what the trouble is.” “What is the trouble?” Dexter was smiling patiently.
“It’s you, John Dexter.”
“Eh!” He straightened rigidly. “Did Stuyvesant say that?”
“He told me what he thought. What you said a moment ago confirmed it.” “What did I confirm? I mean, what did I say?”
“You said you were interested in working out your theories of rowing. Your theories! Now listen, John: you’re a perfect oar. You know it; everyone ad-
mits it. Your own interest lies in your perfection doesn’t it?”
‘T am greatly interested in that, yes.” “Yes. you are,” she cried excitedly. "Have you ever for a moment thought of rowing a stroke the crew could meet?” "Aren’t you getting technical, Shirley?” He spoke with a shade of annoyance.
"I’m not getting beyond your depth, at all events. Tom Stuyvesant has felt it for weeks. He’s been sitting in front of you, working his heart out to send forward the stroke you’re giving him.”
"All right, he should.”
"Oh, John! He can’t. And you know it. He hasn’t your ability. None of them has. And instead of studying and adapting yourself to this condition you’ve been insisting they meet the highest skill you possess. I don’t have to tell you this, do I?”
He started to speak, but checked himself. She waited, but still he said nothing. “Don’t you know it, John?”
“I’d never thought of it—” He paused because it was in his nature to be truthful. “Isn’t it the rule of life and leadership to demand that the best be met? Doesn’t the college demand it? Doesn’t your father, above all others, require it?” “John—” Her voice caught, broke
AS HE stood silent, waiting, she moved closer to him.
“You don’t seem to realize how serious this is. It illuminated so many things that have meant a lot to me. Do you remember what you told me this afternoon, that you were going out into the world to tell the people what to think? Think of it, John; you’re going to tell them!”
“Some one has to,” he said.
“Perhaps,” she flashed, “and I thought you were the one—until —until now. You’ve sat in the shell with preconceived ideas how the crew should row and insisted they meet those theories. You were willing to be defeated rather than yield. Is that co-operation?”
As he did not answer she went on: “You say father and the rest must co-operate. Have you ever co-operated? Or has anyone who thinks as you do? Communism! Why, you and your Senator Hardwick and all the rest are more autocratic and individualistic than father ever thought of being.” She paused to catch her breath for she was speaking under deep emotion.
“Yet this morning I was utterly carried away by your fervor! And I’ve always been under your spell, just as your people out West will be.”
“John, look back over the time you’ve been president of your class. Have you tried to lead, or have you tried to drive? And all the while I thought you were so splendid, so unselfish in your love for that poor, trusting creature, the dear old fellow man!”
“Do you think,” he said quietly, “that your interest in rowing gives you the right to say all this to me, Shirley?”
“That was a horrid remark, John. My right? You gave me the right when you asked me to marry you. You haven’t forgotten that, have you?”
“I haven’t forgotten.”
“I was to help you, fight with you. I—” She sobbed, fought down her emotion. “Did you really mean that?”
“I meant it, Shirley.”
“How could a mental slave do these things? That’s what I would have to be. And I couldn’t be that, I simply couldn’t. I never was, even with father. You wouldn’t tolerate anything else.” Her lips were quivering. “You knew how I wanted the crew to win and yet you—” She fought to control her voice.
“Shirley—” He caught her hand and held it, staring into her face. At length she shook her head, smiling sadly, withdrawing her hand.
“You see, there’s nothing to say, nothing. It was a brave dream, John. It seemed beautiful. It—”
He interrupted her with a sharp exclamation.
“Damn Tom Stuyvesant!”
“No!” She raised her hand. “Stuyve should have both our thanks!” She started, as though remembering something she had wished to say. “John, let me tell you something about Tom. When you and he were candidates for president of the class Tom kept it hidden that it was he who gave to the university the new athletic field house so that the election would not be influenced. And you know it
would have been if he, or anyone, had told.”
“Tom Stuyvesant gave that field house?” Dexter’s head was moving slowly from side to side as though dazedly.
“Yes, he gave it.”
There was silence. At length his hand rose to his forehead, passing slowly across it to and fro.
“Shirley, are you going to marry Stuyve?”
She shook her head.
“Tom will never ask me to do that. Our—our—friendship has never been that sort.”
There was a long pause and it seemed freighted with portent. From the shore came faintly the blast of a motor horn. Upon the breeze was borne to them the whistle of a locomotive blowing for a crossing; way down river they could see the gleam of the headlight. There were no other sounds.
“Shirley—” It seemed to her that he was shivering. “Shirley, I withdraw what I asked you this afternoon. It—it was— selfish ... It was worse than that. It—”
Abruptly, with a little convulsive exclamation he turned from her, striding swiftly toward the gangway.
Shirley remained as she had been standing, staring into the night . . . The hum of a motor beneath brought her to the rail. It was the Trident's launch darting shoreward, a tall, slouched figure standing in the stern cockpit.
JUST at the hour set for the morning row next day John Dexter swung from the main road into the yard of the crew quarters. His clothes were dust covered, his bronzed face drawn.
Bronson, who had been pacing the verandah with ever-growing anger and apprehension, hastened down the steps to meet him.
“Dexter—” his voice caught. He cleared it raspingly. “You’ve been away all night. Do you think, sir—”
Dexter raised his hand, speaking in a level voice.
“What I’ve done I had to do. This is no time for kicks, sir. Say anything you want later. But just now—where’s Tom Stuyvesant?”
“He’s down at the boat house dressing. All the crew are. Look here, Dexter—” But the stroke had lurched away, hurrying toward the steps that led down to the river.
As tie reached the.float the captain came out of the boat house, bearing an oar garbed for rowing.
“Dexter!” He stepped back. Then a frown settled upon his face, an expression of utter contempt. “John, let me tell you—”
“Stuyve, wait a minute; just a minute.” He turned, beckoning to the coach. “I want you to hear this, too.” He waited for Bronson to come up.
“Coach—Stuyve—you’re going in at stroke to-day; I’m going to row at Number Seven.”
“For the love of—” Words died upon the captain’s lips; a flow of deep color darkened his face.
The coach stepped up to Dexter, seizing him roughly by the arm.
“Wait!” Dexter fixed his blazing eyes upon the coach and dominated him. “You want to win Saturday. I want to win. All right. I go in at Number Seven. Stuyve at stroke. Try it. That’s all.” He swung upon the captain. “Do you get what I’m driving at? You can’t be so thick that you don’t.”
Stuyvesant gazed at him a moment through narrowed lids.
“Do you know what it means, giving up the stroke position? That’s an honorable berth in this old college, boy.”
“I know just what I’m doing, Stuyve. I can’t do what I want to do if I’m at stroke. I can at Number Seven. Understand? I’ll take your stroke, digest it and—”
“John!” The captain's face was drawn into lines of perplexity. Then suddenly he swung toward Bronson with that sharp little tilt of the chin.
“Coach, I agree with Dexter."
Bronson studied the two men a moment. Suddenly he nodded.
FIFTEEN minutes later the varsity eight squared away from the float upon the bosom of a limpid stream. Directly astern the coaching launch floated waiting for the shell to get clear Continued on page 47
Continued from pane 40 and speeding from the middle of the river to meet them came the boat from the Trident.
Dexter could see the white figure of Shirley Whitehorn at the wheel, the thickset form of her father at her side.
But he felt no emotion. As though still involved in the turmoil of thought, he plied his oar with mechanical effort, his eyes set and expressionless, his forehead cleft with furrows.
On went the shell, out into the middle of the river, languidly paddling, while the coach leaned upon his megaphone, loath, as it seemed, to begin the test in which evidently he had little hope and no belief at all.
But at length as Whitehorn took a half smoked cigar from his mouth and threw it away with an irritable gesture, the coach raised his megaphone, pointing it at the coxswain.
“Let her go, Sandy. Quarter of a mile. Make a racing start, then come down to about—” He turned to Dexter as though in appeal.“What do you want,. John?”
“Thirty four,” was the quiet reply.
“All right, down to thirty-four and hold it. Are you ready? Go!”
There came a crash of oars. Cascades of spray hid the hull of the shell from view. The voice of the coxswain rose in staccato outcry. Fifteen strokes. Then the eight slowly came down to a measured swing.
The coach was leaning way forward now, both hands gripping the gunwales, his eyes fixed, his breath coming in slow gasps. Whitehorn had risen and was leaning forward, too.
Suddenly Bronson shivered. He rubbed his eyes as though to dismiss illusion, then set them upon the shell again. Thus they remained for a full minute. Out of the corner of his mouth he ordered the motorman to speed up. When the boat had gone a hundred feet he told him to stop. He sank to his knees, watching, as the shell thundered up.
Then, as it swept by, the man confirmed all that he had seen and had not dared to believe. This is what he saw: he saw the crew deliver their stroke and swing back for the catch to begin another stroke—all their weight working against the headway of the shell and yet the shell gliding forward between the strokes without a hang, the water singing and hissing along the polished sides. Rhythm! Symphony! Harmony! Beauty and surpassing speed!
“Weigh all!” The coach’s voice went over the waters like a trumpet.
SWIFTLY Dexter’s head turned back over his shoulder, his brow no longer furrowed, his eyes calm and smiling. From the captain’s eyes came beads of tears and he was not ashamed. In the face of every oarsman was the light of a great exaltation. They had no need of any word from the coach. They knew. They had shared in the magic of poetry. They were one. The coxswain was shouting, juggling his megaphone.
“Fellows—” The coach’s voice broke. He turned to the Trident's launch as it shot alongside. “Did you see what’s happened to this crew, Mr. Whitehorn?” “See? Did I see!” Whitehorn’s gruff voice ascended a rising scale. “Do you think my eyes have gone back on me?” The shell was drifting back upon the tide and was now abreast of the two launches.
“Dexter—” Whitehorn rose, gesturing toward the Number Seven—“Shirley told me what you’ve done to-day; I mean, why you did it. It’s a big thing, my boy, and I want to say publicly that I know how big it is.”
For a moment there was utter silence. Then Whitehorn leaned forward, fixing the oarsman with his piercing eyes, an unwonted thrill in his voice.
“Dexter, you’ve done something for yourself to-day. You’ve made yourself more valuable to this old world—or more dangerous. Which?”
“Why, sir—” Dexter raised his head, His eyes met Whitehorn’s squarely. Then he turned to Shirley, staring at her while the soft June winds swept over their heads and the waters went rippling to the sea.
Suddenly the girl averted her face. But she was flushing and smiling radiantly.