Montville Boy Makes Good
THE IDEA, naturellement, was conceived in the fertile brain of Oscar Plouffe. He developed it, rounded it into shape. perfected it and gave it to Montville in all its beautiful simplicity.
As a consequence, the engineer of the late local gaped from his cab in bewilderment as the train pulled into Montville that winter afternoon. For the platform was crowded. Now. the population of Montville is not large, but neither is the station platform; and when every man. woman and child in the village is apparently seized by a simultaneous impulse to meet the same train the result is a mob scene of no mean proportions.
“A wedding, perhaps,” said the engineer to his fireman as the train came to a stop.
“But, no,” exclaimed the fireman a few moments later. ‘They are all getting on the train !”
The engineer promptly swallowed his chewing tobacco. You could not blame him. It was, you comprehend, a veritable exodus.
One might have thought Montville had received word, on the best authority, that the village was marked for destruc-
tion by earthquake that very night, and that the good folk were sensibly fleeing from the wrath to come. One might have thought that, I say, had it not been for the hilarity that prevailed. Pushing and scrambling, laughing and chattering, with smiles on their faces and expectation in their eyes, they left Montville as if this departure was the most joyous occasion of their lives.
There was Pierre Labonne, the notary, dignified as a bishop and immaculate as a bridegroom, exhorting every one to be calm. There was Mayor Lillivert, with his spouse and all the little Lilliverts. There was Adolphus Tantivy, and Hippolyte Jolivet. one-time owner of that famous prize cow “Celinie.” There were Mademoiselles Celestine, Jeanne and Alphonsine Jolivet. There was the wealthy Hermidas Tessier, and old Grandpère Poupet and M. Doucet. and Aristide Perrault. Nearly every one was there. Scarcely a handful of people had been left in Montville.
Ah, but this was a proud moment for Oscar Plouffe ! It was his idea, and Montville had responded nobly. All, that is. save the bedridden, some of the infants in arms, the town constable and that old skinflint, Gabriel Potvin, dealer in hay and feed.
And when the coaches were jammed, when the conductor came out of his daze long enough to sing out, “Bo-oard!” it was Oscar Plouffe who really gave the engineer his orders.
who really gave the engineer his orders.
He waved grandly to the popeyed man in the cab. .
“Let us proceed!” he boomed.
And they proceeded, with Oscar Plouffe puffing triumphantly as he clambered up the steps. Montville cheered. Montville was going to Montreal.
UP IN THE smoker. Oscar Plouffe sat like a plump and benevolent potentate. Never had there been such a crowd on the late local. Every seat was occupied. The aisles were crowded. Such chattering, such laughing, such a hubbub of excited conversation you never heard before. And. in the smoker, such a reek of shag tobacco you never breathed.
Naturally the conductor was eaten up with curiosity. Inevitably he sought information from Oscar Plouffe. Through the fog kxmied the round.
placid face of the innkeeper as he sat there hugging a mysterious parcel. Graciously, he explained the affair to the conductor.
“Montville goes to the hockey match in Montreal.”
The conductor was more puzzled than ever.
“Ah, yes,” he said. “Canadiens and Boston, eh? But why? I have never known Montville to show such an interest ...”
“We go to cheer for Adelard Touchette,” said Plouffe proudly.
The conductor scratched his head.
“Touchette? Who is Touchette?”
A rumble of indignation in the smoking car. The hardy men of Montville were shocked. What a dolt of a conductor ! A man of traveland he had never heard of Touchette?
Old Phileas Trudel spluttered through his whiskers.
“Perhaps. M. Conductor, you have never heard of Les Canadiens?”
“Certainly I have heard of Les Canadiens. But nevertheless—”
Oscar Plouffe raised a fat. restraining hand.
“It is because of Touchette,” he explained, “that we of Montville prepared this excursion. We took up a subscription. enough to pay all expenses. An affair of the community, you understand. Everything is arranged, to the last penny. Touchette, you understand, is one of us. He was born in Montville. He played hockey on the little rink behind the schoolhouse. He worked in the grocery store of M. Trudel—”
“My store!” proclaimed Old Phileas. his chest swelling.
“And now,” concluded Oscar Plouffe magnificently, “this very night he brings honor to Montville. We go to cheer for him. He achieves fame. Tonight, M. Conductor, this native son of Montville plays as a substitute on the right wing for Les Canadiens !”
SUCH CONFUSION, such an uproar when they reached Bonaventure, that ancient, red brick monstrosity which was nevertheless so grand to the innocents from Montville. Such excitement! Old Grandpère Poupet was lost within three minutes and the most incredible anxiety prevailed until the short-sighted old gentleman came hobbling hastily out of the ladies’ washroom amid shrill outcry from that sanctuary. Then three of the Jolivet boys, who had gone in search of Grandpère Poupet, were nowhere to be found, and it was not until ten minutes had passed that Oscar Plouffe discovered them outside the station in the middle of a traffic tangle that had sent threescore street-car motormen, taxi chauffeurs, truck drivers and constables into tears of exasperation. But at last the delegation was rounded up.
Through it all, Oscar Plouffe remained superbly calm. It was magnificent to see his generalship. And then, when he had guided them outside, a grand gesture and:
There, with horses stamping, bells jangling and fur-coated drivers all in readiness, were twenty sleighs. A score, no less, all ordered in advance by that genius. Plouffe. Such a roar of appreciation ! How had Oscar Plouffe guessed that many of the ladies had viewed with apprehension the prospect of a journey in a Montreal taxicab? And then the squealing and guffawing and scrambling and crowding as Montville was wedged into twenty sleighs! They will tell you it cannot be done. The answer is that it was done. Oscar Plouffe must have figured it all out by cubic measurement, for the twenty big sleighs held Montville exactly, with one boy bulging precariously over the side.
But there yet remained a final touch. When Oscar Plouffe decided that Montville should do honor to Adelard Touchette, substitute right-wing player for Les Canadiens, he left nothing undone. Climbing into the head sleigh, he untied the mysterious parcel that he carried. He unfolded the contents and there, before the amazed and admiring eves of the crowd, he stretched out a tremendous streamer, a veritable banner, with scarlet letters a foot high. It was attached to the sleigh that all the world of Montreal might read the patriotic legend:
A great cheer went up. And then, with a snapping of whips, a musical clamor of sleighbells, with wails from the
The conductor was properly abashed.
The reason for the unprecedented exodus from Montville was made clear.
A boy who has risen to the dizzy eminence of substitute right wing for Les Canadiens is not to be regarded lightly in the province of Quebec.
babies, yelps from the ladies, giggles from the young girls, shouts from the men, with laughter and shrieks and babel beyond description, the procession moved off.
“To the Forum,” ordered Oscar Plouffe, settling back among the fur robes. Caesar would have given the same order with the same air.
“Yes, sir!” said the driver, with respect. He was a burly, hard-bitten man not given to meekness, but he recognized a great man when he saw one.
And Grandpère Poupet waved his cane at the traffic cop on the comer and whooped shrilly:
Now, of all the Montville folk who crowded gaily into the Forum that night, few were more excited than that pretty Mademoiselle Margot Trudel. Nineteen years young, looking like a child at her first Christmas tree, dimpled, bright-eyed, Mademoiselle Margot was—ah, how shall I ’say it?—like a beautiful seidlitz powder. No, I am not proud of that simile and I lament the inadequacy of my prose, for it is well-known that a seidlitz powder lacks color. But at least it sparkles, at least it bubbles charmingly, at least it has a freshness that suggests a spiritual picture of this eager girl as she hugged her father’s arm and ecstatically awaited the aopearance of Adelard Touchette.
You have guessed it, of course !
In the days when young Adelard Touchette played hockey on the rink back of the schoolhouse. in the days when he worked in the grocery store of Phileas Trudel, in those days he was the devoted slave of Margot. He was a snub-nosed, black-haired, freckle-faced youngster, and if Margot believed he would be a great man some day it is certain that no one else in Montville shared that belief. A
, bov-and-girl affair, but make not a joke of that, mesdames el messieurs, for you well know that the first passion of the young has its own delicately flaming beauty. When Adelard Touchette went to play hockey in Quebec he went with the warm kisses of Margot on his lips.
This, then, was a night of nights for the daughter of Phileas Trudel. In mid-season her lover had been summoned from the team in Quebec to replace an injured player of the great Canadiens. He would make his first appearance in the big league. Adelard was to have his opportunity at last.
Small wonder Montville was proud!
Phileas Trudel was telling Grandpère Poupet, who was deaf and wouldn't have listened anyway, that he had always predicted great things for Adelard Touchette.
“The moment he came into my store and said to me, ‘M. Trudel, will you give me a job?’ I said to myself, ‘Here is a lad who will make his mark in the world.' Often, after he had been playing hockey I would take him aside and say to him. ‘Adelard. you do well, but you have still much to leam. Now, when you shoot the puck . . .’” And Phileas droned away, finally digging his elbow into the ribs of Grandpère Poupet. “Was I not right, hey?”
The ancient jumped, looked at him blankly and piped:
“Of a certainty, Phileas. Of a certainty. This is a very large rink.”
Margot smiled. She was remembering the times her father had predicted that the lazy young villain of a Touchette would come to no good end because he wasted his time playing hockey when he should have been working.
And now the good folk of Montville, in the fine seats procured for them by that master strategist. Oscar Plouffe, Continued on page 34 were making as much noise among themselves as all the rest of the spectators. There had been no little amusement when they came trooping to their seats, and a wave of laughter when that proud banner had been unfolded to reveal its inscription, “Vive Montville.” But the “millionaires”—those doughty, leather-lunged occupants of the cheaper seats- had recognized kindred souls. They had paused for a moment in their chant of “Les Canadiens sont là,” and burst into a hearty roar of welcome:
Continued from page 19
And Oscar Plouffe, rising, cupped his hands to his mouth, filled his lungs and bellowed :
Whereupon the “millionaires,” without the faintest idea of what he meant, howled courteously the echo:
Programmes were fluttering like thousands of tiny flags. Touchette? Who w'as Touchette? A gentleman in a beaver coat appealed to Plouffe across the aisle.
“Pardon, sir, but who is Touchette?” Plouffe beamed on him.
“A son of Montville, sir. We are his townsfolk. He is playing tonight as a substitute on the right wing, and permit me to tell you, sir, that it will not be long—” “That is strange,” interrupted the gentleman. “I do not find his name on the programme.”
Oscar Plouffe, who had been too busy to look at the programme which was to be a souvenir of an occasion that would shine in the history of Montville, whisked it from his pocket. He looked. He frowned. Then, with a jaunty air, he shrugged.
“It is doubtless a mistake of the printer.”
BUT it was not, unfortunately, a mistake of the printer.
When the red-shirted Canadiens skated out on to the ice, Montville let loose a roar of welcome and eagerly scanned the skimming figures, seeking the sturdy, bulletheaded Touchette. But in vain.
Touchette was not with the team. He was not on the ice. Montville took refuge in excuses. Touchette was late. Touchette would appear presently. But everyone was puzzled, disappointed, apprehensive. And when the game began, with Adelard Touchette neither on the ice nor in the players’ box, gloom settled down upon the delegation from Montville.
"But what has happened?” demanded Mayor Lillivert. “We come to see Touchette. Where is Touchette?”
“Yes,” piped Adolphus Tantivy. “Oscar Plouffe has arranged this excursion at great expense to us all. It is incredible. I am stunned. We are all made to look ridiculous. Where is Touchette? And where, in fact, is Oscar Plouffe?”
Oscar Plouffe had deserted his delegation in this black hour. The game began, and Montville regarded it sourly. The rink roared with cheers for the fleet Canadiens, rang with anathemas against the redoubtable M. Shore and his Boston crew, but there was not so much as a peep out of the glum little group from Montville.
But Oscar Plouffe had gone into action. A little pale, a little shaken, he was tugging at the elbow of a bored young man in the press box.
“Sir—I beg your pardon—a little information—it is about Touchette—Adelard Touchette—is he ill?”
The bored young man looked at him.
“I’ll tell the world,” he said. “He’s about the sickest kid in Montreal right now.”
“Is it—is it serious?” spluttered Plouffe. “Well, they’re sending him back to Providence for a rest cure so he can get in shape to tackle Schmeling.”
The bored young man looked languid and jotted a note on a pad as Morenz streaked down the ice like a hawk from the .skies, split the defense, drew out the Boston goalie and slammed the puck into the net. The Forum exploded. After a while Plouffe was able to make himself heard.
“Rest cure? Schmeling?”
“You’ll find Touchette in the dressing room. He socked the coach on the nose before he ever got a workout. I think he’s a mental case myself. Goofy as a gopher.” This, as the ghastly truth sank in, was probably the blackest moment of Oscar Plouffe’s life. He had organized this excursion, he had brought the people of Montville a hundred miles to Montreal— and Touchette was not to play for the Canadiens after all. The young dolt had socked the coach on the nose and was to be sent back to Providence in disgrace ! The great excursion had been for nothing.
“We shall see,” muttered Plouffe.
Doors never remain closed to Oscar Plouffe. How he obtained access to the dressing room, there to confront the wretched Touchette who sat in lonesome misery beside a water bucket, how he learned the story of Touchette’s downfall is a matter best known to himself.
“It was a joke, M. Plouffe,” muttered the culprit. “I have been a fool. I am ruined.” “A joke? You struck the coach on the nose as a joke? You have a strange sense of humor,” said Plouffe grimly.
“They play jokes on most young fellows when they join the team,” explained Touchette. He was more rugged, more thickset than Plouffe had remembered him, but there were still freckles on his nose. “The players said to me: ‘Be on your guard against a big fellow who will try to make a fool of you. It is his practice to tell new men that he is the coach and to give them orders. Pay no attention to him. He is merely a loafer who has nothing to do with us.’ So I resolved that this loafer would not make a fool of me. When he came into the dressing room and said ‘Do this’ and ‘Do that,’ I said, ‘No, you big loafer, I shall take no advice from you.’ And what with one word leading to the next one, we both became excited and I hit him on the nose.” Touchette groaned. “And he was the coach after all.”
Plouffe shook his head thoughtfully as he regarded the despairing Touchette.
“There are more than a million people,” he observed, “on the Island of Montreal. With so many to choose from—if you must hit people on the nose—bah! Well, it is necessary that there be action immediately. Montville must not be disappointed.”
And he bustled away.
THE FIRST PERIOD was over, the Canadiens were leading by two goals, the loudspeakers were belching sweet music, the Forum was echoing with the great
hollow roar of the crowd, and the citizens of Montville were muttering with wrath.
“Where,” demanded Adolphus Tantivy for the nineteenth time, “is Oscar Plouffe? He has made fools of us. Certainly an explanation is owing.”
“Such an expense, this journey,” growled M. Tessier. “One can imagine how the people of Champeau will laugh when they hear of this.”
Mayor Lillivert winced. The rival town of Champeau would never permit this catastrophe to be forgotten.
“One envies Gabriel Potvin,” he said. “He had sufficient intelligence to remain at home and hear the game by radio, at no cost whatever.”
As for Margot Trudel, she was trying to pretend that she had a cinder in her eye. The poor child was heartbroken.
Down in the office of the management of the Canadiens, the worthy Plouffe was under full steam. A fortunate meeting with an executive of a brewery with which the Hotel Vendôme did business had done the trick. An introduction in the right place, and now Plouffe was battling right nobly for Touchette, for Montville.
“I have brought nearly two hundred people to this game. We have travelled a hundred miles. The affair has been managed at great expense, for wo are not wealthy folk. We are assured by the newspapers that Touchette will play. And now we are disappointed. Gentlemen, I appeal to you, for the sake of my friends. If any of you come from a small town you will realize our emotions. As for Touchette, he assures me it was a mistake. He wishes to apologize—” The coach, who was present, waved a negligent hand.
“That’s oke,” he said. “One of the boys told me all about it. They were ribbing the kid. I should have got wise. But you see, Mr. Plouffe, he took a poke at me. That’s bad for discipline. Now, as a matter of fact, thekid isn’t being sent back to Providence. We couldn’t let him play tonight, but that was to throw a scare into him, teach him a lesson—” _
“But the punishment,” said Plouffe, “falls upon these good people who have paid for their seats and travelled a hundred miles. The boy has had his lesson, I assure you. What harm will there be, when your team is already leading by two goals, to permit him to play for a little while? Gentlemen, on behalf of Montville—”
Oscar Plouffe can be very compelling at times. It is generally agreed in Montville that the hotel profession’s gain was the legal profession’s loss when Plouffe chose his life work.
Shortly before the beginning of the second period he puffed his way down the aisle, back to his seat among the melancholy folk of Montville. But Plouffe was not melancholy. His florid face glowed with triumph.
“M. Plouffe,” yelped Adolphus Tantivy, “we have been waiting for an explanation. You have brought us here at great expense, on your solemn promise that Adelard Touchette would appear tonight with Les Canadiens. It is outrageous—”
“M. Tantivy,” said Plouffe, calmly, “my promise is never broken. Touchette will play. I have arranged it.”
Montville gasped. Margot Trudel sat up, Continued on page 37 eyes shining, cheeks glowing. Grandpère Poupet uttered a shrill cheer. Clamor broke forth.
Continued from page 34
What a man !
And now the second period got under way. Sticks clashed, the players skimmed over the ice sheet like swallows, the crowd howled, goalies leaped and slid, the puck sjied hither and thither, men crashed to the ice. Boston attacked furiously, the Canadiens defended their net stoutly. And at last, during an offside face-off, when three of the Canadiens trudged off the ice for a rest, a sturdy, bullet-headed youth in a red sweater leaped eagerly out on to the ice and skated over to his position at right wing.
The great banner was raised on high.
“Vive Montville!” they roared.
Grandpère Poupet brandished his cane.
“PipeTouchette!” bellowed Oscar Plouffe. It was a small sea of sheer bedlam. And as those doughty "millionaires” realized the situation, they rose to their feet and welcomed the newcomer with a roar.
Margot Trudel flung lier arms about her father’s neck, half strangling him. and wept with excitement and joy.
“Let go! Let go, ma petite!” he begged. “They are playing. I cannot see.”
Great was Montville’s pride in that glorious moment as young Adelard Touchette took his place with the elect of the hockey world. And, as the puck was faced off, young Touchette beamed with pleasure. He waved toward his townsfolk, eagerly he sought the pretty face of Margot Trudel . . .
The puck dropped to the ice. The centres battled for it, the disc flew across to the grinning Touchette’s feet and found him all unprepared. A Boston forward swept in with the speed of a runaway locomotive. Touchette woke up, made a feeble stab at the spinning rubber, missed, danced wildly for a second, and then sat squarely and ingloriously upon the ice.
No more inglorious début could be imagined !
And how the crowd laughed. There was a veritable thunderclap of mirth. That little stepdance of Touchette’s, terminating in his undignified downfall, could not have been bettered by the most acrobatic comedian of the movies. Coming so close upon his great recéption, it had the essential virtue of contrast. It was sublime. It sent the mob into hysterics. They choked, they yelled, they wept, they laughed.
The laughter, however, was mercifully brief. For the Boston forward who had made Touchette look so ridiculous had sailed in. to make Hainsworth jump like a jack rabbit to block a burning drive. And in the next instant the Boston forwards were buzzing around the cage. The Canadiens, perhaps a little shaken, a little upset by Touchette’s humiliation and the unholy explosion of laughter, were forced back. Players were piled in a heap around the net. The red light flashed.
A Boston goal !
Oscar Plouffe sat down, breathing heavily. He felt ill. All Montville felt ill. All except Grandpère Poupet, who yelled like a venerable redskin, under the impression that Touchette had inaugurated his big-league career by scoring a goal against Boston. No one took the trouble to enlighten him.
“Well,” sighed Plouffe hopefully, “perhaps he will do better next time.”
But Touchette did not do better next time. Not satisfied with making himself ridiculous before thousands of people, that miserable youth skittishly proceeded to humiliate Montville.
Many rookies had passed through the hands of the coach, and he had not benched Touchette instantly. He would give the boy a chance. But the temperament of Adelard Touchette was of a sensitive nature. Laughter, ridicule, the terrible knowledge that he was to blame for that Boston goal, shattered his confidence, broke his morale, left him a shivering wreck.
Stage fright !
He took a pass at his own blue line and
stumbled away with the puck. He faltered, lost the disc, regained it. plunged on down the ice until he met the oncoming Boston wing. Touchette was rattled. He should have passed the puck to his uncovered centre. He tried to evade the wing, clumsily. The puck was taken from him and another Boston rush was on. The Boston forward was sent flying on his ear at the defense, but that didn’t help Touchette.
Again, the Canadiens took advantage of a penalty to launch an attack. They swarmed back of the Boston blue line. Touchette plunged valiantly and foolishly into a mob of struggling players, and emerged like a disorderly customer from a tavern. He picked himself up from the ice out in front of the Boston goal and then—miracle of miracles—the puck came skimming out of the mêlée.
It clicked smartly against his stick. The goalie was lying sprawled in the net. The pride of Montville gaped. He looked at the puck, he looked at the goal. The crowd shrieked.
In the nick of time, with two Boston players plunging toward him. with the goalie scrambling desperately to his feet, Touchette realized that destiny had presented him with the opportunity of a lifetime. Hastily he shot—and skied the puck ten feet over the net into the back screen!
Oscar Plouffe, utterly crushed, buried his face in his hands.
Margot Trudel wept openly.
Montville groaned unanimously.
The cheers of the crowd changed to howls of exasperation.
Touchette was benched.
And Oscar Plouffe, with bent shoulders, muttered desolately to himself: “I shall
never live this down—no, not in three hundred years.”
A few minutes later Boston tied the score. The name of Adelard Touchette was a byword and a hissing in the Forum. People looked at the delegation from Montville as if to say, “So this is the breed that produces such unspeakable dolts as that Touchette!” No one dared fold up that once-proud banner, but everyone wished heartily that the thing was out of sight.
At the end of the second period Oscar Plouffe disappeared very rapidly.
THEY had paid for their seats, and the train did not leave until midnight in any case, so the delegation from Montville remained for the third period. But if ever an excursion party radiated dejection, gloom and downright despondency, it was that lugubrious group. They came, they saw, they were humiliated. They were not cheered by certain ribald enquiries from humorous folk wanting to know if Montville had other natural resources aside from hockey players.
What did it matter to Montville that the F'or um had not seen such hockey all season as the hockey that raged in that final period? Boston had come from behind to tie the score, and the teams battled furiously to break the deadlock. Swift, stirring rushes down the ice. grim, hard-fought defense play, crashing body checks, electrifying scrambles around the nets—the period hit a terrific pace from the outset. The Montville folk regarded the spectacle without enthusiasm.
Oscar Plouffe. his fat face a little anxious but by no means as gloomy as the occasion warranted, sat beside Margot Trudel. He patted her shoulder.
“There is yet a chance,” he said, consoling her. “I had a little talk with our young friend. And with the coach. He is not a bad fellow, that coach. Perhaps even yet ...” But the minutes went on. The teams played themselves into exhaustion. The score remained tied. Adelard Touchette remained on the bench. Adolphus Tantivy audibly expressed the opinion that he would do well to crawl under it.
And then, suddenly, the miracle! With two of his players suffering injuries, with others sagging with exhaustion, the coach gave Touchette another chance. With five minutes to go. he leaped out on to the ice. his jaw set, his mouth grim, without a
glance at the crowd. No. there was no stage fright about Touchette now. He had eyes for only one man in the rink and that man was the Boston goalkeeper.
Montville gasped. Montville surged with new hope. Montville saw Touchette take a pass, they saw him heading madly toward the Boston net. Fresh and eager, deaf to the roars of the crowd, he sped to the blue line like a whirlwind, evading his weary check, racing in on the Boston defense. He headed toward that goal as if the defense did not exist. Hitchman stepped squarely in his path. Down went Touchette. spreadeagled on the ice. Up he came again, whirled, raced into a comer and stole the puck from under the very nose of a Boston player. Out he came again, doggedly, with one! purpose in his mind. He sidestepped, swooped in . . . He shot !
PITY the Boston goalie. No one could have followed the course of that puck. No one could have seen it. One cannot see a bullet in flight. Fortunate indeed for the goalkeeper that he jumped the wrong way in a foolhardy attempt to stop that terrific drive, for the puck would assuredly have gone right through him.
But, yes! Do you not understand? Touchette scored.
Not only that, but, while the rink was still thunderous with acclaim, while the good folks of Montville were shrieking deliriously, while the game had still a minute to go, he took the puck from back of the Canadien net, raced down the ice at 190 miles an hour, split the defense and let loose another of those wicked, those incredible shots that seemed impelled by dynamite rather than by human arms and wrists—a shot that would have knocked the goalie’s head right off his shoulders if it had not, fortunately, missed him and whizzed into the net. Ah, magnificent was Touchette ! The crowd turned a collective back somersault, drew in its breath and then let loose a spontaneous roar of joy that was heard —one understands on excellent authority —as far away as Dominion Square.
And, blandly smiling upon the mob of howling maniacs that had once been a dejected delegation from Montville, with Margot Trudel clinging to his neck, with Grandpère Poupet pounding somebody’s bowler hat into wreckage with his cane— blandly smiling, I say, stood Oscar Plouffe.
For it was Oscar Plouffe, you must understand, who had made this triumph possible. A great psychologist, that Plouffe! A man of deep understanding and infinite resource. Stage fright? There is a cure for that. Give the victim something else to think about. But Oscar Plouffe’s part in that affair was not realized until some time afterward, when Adelard Touchette. the hero of the hour, came striding up to his admiring townsfolk. He paid scant attention to their vociferous acclaim. Grimly, he sought out that pretty Margot Trudel.
“Now,” he said fiercely, “perhaps you will cheer for him again.”
Margot stared at him. uncomprehending. “Cheer for him? For whom. Adelard?” “For that Boston goalkeeper.”
“But I do not understand,” faltered Margot. “Never did 1 cheer for him “I know all!” declared Touchette dramatically. “When M. Plouffe came to me at the end of the second period and told me that the people of Montville were disappointed in me. I said to him: ‘And
Margot—is she disappointed, too?’ He laughed. ‘You have not heard, then?’ he said. ‘You have not heard that the Boston goalkeeper spent the summer near Montville? Of all your old friends, she is the only one who tonight cheers for Boston.’ ” Touchette glared at her.
"So you would cheer for him. ha?” he said. “You have wasted your breath tonight, my fine young lady.”
“But. Adelard ! The Boston goalkeeper— I do not know his name. I never saw him in my life! Why, M. Plouffe himself can tell you ...”
But Oscar Plouffe had discreetly disThe End.