Little Prince Goldilocks
FRANK MANN HARRIS
NOW, ALTHOUGH I never had much use for him, I do not mind admitting that this Wally McNairn is a pretty fair sort of a sports announcer: that is, if you are fond of sports announcers. Personally, unless they have me tied to a hospital bed like I was for ten long weeks, I will about as soon chew on a rubber heel soaked in beef-juice as a substitute for T-bone, as I will listen to a fight or game by way of the air instead of seeing it for myself, or better still, taking a hand in it.
But it seems that there are many folks here and there who actually enjoy listening to these vitamin-voiced microphone agitators spraying the air waves with a description of what they see, or imagine they see, and with such folks Wally McNairn ranks close to tops. Which makes it the next thing to being unanimous, as it is no state secret that Wally stands very far up in the first division on his own private rating. I remember one Sunday when he drops in at our clubhouse, with all the gang around nursing bruises and cutting up the Sunday alibis for what happened to the team on Saturday. Wally had been out of town broadcasting a game in the other league, and for no particular reason somelxxly happens to ask him what kind of a battle it was.
“It was wonderful,” Wally modestly answers. “Just wonderful. Why, within half an hour after the game was over they counted more than two hundred phone calls at the station, all saying how marvellous my broadcast had been.”
Just a shy, shrinking sort of a violet, you might say: and you may well wonder how it was that none of that Panthers bunch had ever given him a thorough going-over for his own good, because he always hung around our clubhouse a lot, such times as he was not flogging the ether with adjectives or answering his fan mail, and that bunch down there takes great delight in reducing large heads without the use of any liniment. But he is a pleasant enough lug when not too busy three-cheering himself; and besides that he is very big and well made, and full of anecdotes like about the time he sparred with Dempsey and set Jack back on his heels with a left hook, and the like, so the boys had always suffered him more or less in silence.
He and I, although on speaking terms, had never been especially friendly, as a big-shot radio star naturally could hardly be exited to waste much valuable time on anything so common and ordinary around a football team as a mere lineman. So I am somewhat surprised, and peg it as very decent of him at that, when one of the very first callers at the hospital, the night after I get my leg busted at practice, proves to be Wally.
But although he turns out to be a nightly visitor from then on, 1 could only give him a score for undiluted friendly
intentions that first time, because within a week it seems like about the only living male who is not on my regular calling list is the Prince of Wales; and he probably only misses on account of being on the wrong side of the ocean.
F)R A FACT it appears as if I must be the most highly popular egg in this town. By some miracle the team has a few bucks in the treasury, and they stake me to a private room instead of dumping me in a big ward; and every evening that room is a dead ringer for rush hour on the trolleys, with fellows even spilling out into the corridor for lack of space inside. They sit on all the chairs and tables and they shoot dice on my bed, they eat up all my fruit and candy and truck, and they autograph the cast on my leg till it is like a hotel register. They come early—in the evening, that is; I have plenty of solitude daytimes—and they stay till the old dame down in the office phones and threatens to send up the riot squad.
It is such an outburst of sudden popularity as is very liable to make me get. extremely high on myself and start throwing chests. What I mean, it is liable to do such only that I do not for one little minute fool myself that the big rush of trade is on account of any blaze of personal magnetism on my part. Quite well I know that the real attraction is nothing more or less than a hundred and ten pounds or so of what-it-takes inside of a blue and white uniform, and its name is Jerry McKee. Not to make a mystery of it, the Jerry is whittled down from Geraldine, and she is night nurse on my corridor; and such a nurse as can make even a busted leg at the beginning of a football season seem easy to take.
Now I am not a professional word juggler, heaven be thanked, so I will not attempt to describe this Jerry McKee —which is a big break for you, as Shakespeare or even the guy that writes the Tarzan books would need to get real hot to do such a job properly. And anyways, with girls it is the same as with dynamite or hooch—it is the results that count, not the picture on the label. But maybe you will get the general idea if I tell you how this one acts on Charlie Carey, our long-suffering coach. Charlie is noted far and near as a woman despiser who wouldn’t walk half a block to attend a post-office party, with Velez, Dietrich and Ruby Keeler all invited guests. But he gets one flash of this Jerry McKee feeding me the thermometer, with about nine huskies looking on as if they would give an eye to trade places with me, and he immediately sounds off, like this: “I wish to announce,” Charlie says, “that any more guys on the team that get hurt after this will be taken to St. Malachi’s Hospital and not to this one.”
Charlie tells me afterw-ard that he has to do this in
self-defense. “If I do not act quick,” he says, “I can see every big balxxm on the team breaking his fool neck trying to move in here along with you.”
TO BOIL it down small, practically the entire Panthers team, as well as a lot of their supporters, fall for this Jerry McKee in mass formation. She knocks them flatter than all the best football talent in the country has been able to do in five seasons, and if she had accepted even a half of the invitations to eat and dance and so forth that are chucked at her, she would have needed to hire at least three of those expert accountants to keep her date-books straight.
But the best that any of the lads get is the chill, although in a nice way. One and all she turns down invitations, no matter who from or what for, but always with the little smile that takes all the sting off the tum-down, like as if it pained her to do so. She says that nursing is the same as toedancing—you get all the exercise you can use in your work, and that any doll who puts in twelve hours per night pounding hard hospital corridors cannot be expected to mingle much in the social whirl, as she needs all her spare time for resting up her poor tired dogs. Of course this may not be the exact language she uses, as she speaks very refined at all times, but it gives you the grist of her remarks to all comers.
So for lack of proper encouragement the big nightly attendance gradually falls off and dwindles down pretty much to the few who are going to come and see me anyway, no matter whether I am nursed by the Queen of Sheba or
Old Mother Hubbard. But there are two of the lovesmitten brigade who remain faithful all through the piece, and one of these is Wally McNaim, the ruler of the air waves, and the other is Dick Baird, the big middle-winger.
THIS PAIR appear to have it real bad and no fooling, and they sit around and cast longing looks at the door, hoping for Jerry to appear, till I am about sick of the sight of them. They do not get much action for all the time they spend either, as the hospital is full and all the nurses busy, and this Jerry, although young, is by no means a green hand and soon learns to disconnect my buzzer, as otherwise these two would have run her ragged answering fake calls to my room.
I get a big kick out of kidding Wally about the lack of speed he is showing, as he had never made any effort to conceal the fact that he put himself in Clark Gable’s class, only much higher, when it comes to scattering heart throbs around among the fair sect.
“What appears to be the trouble, Wally?” I ask him. “The old stuff don’t seem to be going over so big as usual. It looks like you had better fetch over some of your porridgevoiced crooners to warble a few love-ditties and sort of help you out.”
“What do you mean, the old stuff?” Wally snaps, quite peevish. “Whatever are you raving about?”
“Why,” I says, “all you guys in the radio racket have got so accustomed to having skirts flocking around and pawing all over you, in the hope that you will give them a chance to show Kate Smith and the Boswell girls where to head in, that you just don’t know' what to make of one that w ill not fall for your line.”
“You must be crazy,” Wally says.
“That is an open question,” I reply, “and you could probably find folks that would bet either way. But crazy or not, I was not snoozing even if my eyes did happen to be closed the other night when you were telling this little nurse that she had the sort of personality that was wasted in nursing, and what a knockout she w’ould be if she went in for radio.”
“Aw, I was just jollying her along a bit,” Wally protests. “That is what you say,” I answer. “I suppose you were only trying to show her a good time when you asked if she wouldn’t like to have a voice test. How would you like it if I was to tell her about that stenographer who chucked up a good job on the strength of you promising to get her a voice test, and who is still waiting for her first sight of a mike?”
“All the cuckoos in the world flock around a radio station,” Wally says, “and that one was plain daffy, for sure. Still, you don't need to go putting in any more knocks than you have to, Jimmy.”
“No,” I says, “I will not divulge the secrets of your horrid past, as long as you behave yourself and don’t try to pull anything too raw. Being tied here by the leg is such a lousy business that I am glad to have even you for company. Besides, this McKee wren appears to know what the score is all the time, and doesn’t need me for a guardian. So go ahead and do your stuff. It won’t get you anything anyway, because somebody has moved in ahead of you.”
“Who do you mean?” Wally asks, very sharp.
"Why, Dick Baird, of course,” I says. “Who did you think?”
“Him!” Wally says scornfully, "He couldn’t get out of his own way.”
“Maybe not,” I tell him. “Dick isn’t any silver-tongued orator, like some I know, and there are times when he seems to have more hands and feet than one guy should carry. Nevertheless,” I says, “right now he is head man with Jerry McKee, so play that over on your loud-speaker and see how you like it.”
WHEREUPON Wally leaves, looking plenty disgusted, while I lay back on the pillow and wish to myself that what I tell him about Dick Baird is the truth, which it is far from being, because I always had a soft spot for the big clown. I like him so well, in fact, that I do my best to put in a plug for him with the good-looking nurse.
"That Dick Baird is sure one grand guy,” I say to her, casual-like, when she is fussing around after everybody has gone for the night.
“Is he?” she says. “What a pity it is that he has that awful trouble with his throat.”
“What makes you think anything is the matter with his throat?”
“Well,” she says with a snicker, “whenever he opens his mouth to try and say anything, something seems to almost choke him.”
“That is probably his heart in his mouth,” I tell her, “and you are to blame for that. But let me inform you that the same Dick Baird has got a heart big enough for an ox.”
“I know that he has ears big enough for one,” she says. “It is a wonder he wouldn’t let his hair grow longer and try to hide* some of them.”
"Never you mind his hair or his ears,” I say. “Except in the movies they don’t pay off on looks men’s looks anyway—and even if he is not any parlor ornament, Dick Baird is just about the most valuable football player in this country.”
“Dear, dear,” Jerry says. “You don't say. What a pity it is he keeps it a s«rot.”
“What do you mean, a secret?”
“Well,” she says, “I read the papers once in a while, and I never noticed his name in any big letters.”
"Sit down,” I says to her. “Never mind the old guy in the next room, he can wait. Sit right down, because I am going to tell you a few plain facts alxmt the game of football. I supix>se you are too young to remember a song they used to have in vaudeville which went, ‘The coat and pants do all the work, but the vest gets all the gravy’?”
"It sounds as if it might be very pathetic,” she answers, “but what has it got to do with the game of football?”
"It has everything to do with it,” I tell her. “You read the papers or listen to the radio, and you would imagine that a football team consisted of four or five backs, with maybe a couple of outside wings thrown in to make up the number. Those guys are the vest. They get all the gravy -all the big headlines, all the kind applause.', and all the nice pictures in the papers.”
“How thrilling,” Jerry says, not even half trying to hide a yawn.
“But,” I continue, ignoring it, “down there in the mud and the muck and the sweat—”
“Where men are men,” Jerry murmurs.
“—down there where the going is tough, you will find the coat and pants; the middle and inside wings and the centre. They are the lads who do about eighty per cent of the work and take eleven-tenths of the abuse and all they get for it is a bawling out if anything goes wrong, and their names mentioned in small type at the bottom of the column as being among those present. And of all the good middle wings I know, Dick Baird is about the best of the lot.”
“How thrilling,” says Jerry, this time making no attempt to hide the yawn. “Really, Mr. Green, you should have it set to music and sing it. And while there isn’t anything I would sooner do than sit here and listen to you for hours and hours—it even seems as if I had already been listening that
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Little Prince Goldilocks
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long—I regret to say that there are several I patients waiting for nursie to pass the I s<X)thing hand over the fevered brow and i tuck them in for the night. So good evening, and thank you. But I will bet I know something about you, Jimmy.”
“What is that?” I ask.
"I will bet that you were a middle-winger or whatever you call it your own self.” “Wrong, sister,” I says. “Dead wrong. I was an inside, which is even lower down in the scale of humanity. But I will bet I know something about you.”
“I hope it is nice,” she says.
“I will bet,” I tell her. “that your old lady didn’t believe in corporal punishment near enough. A good spanking—” But Jerry makes a face at me and ducks before I can finish, leaving me wondering if my boost for my pal Dick lias been such a whale of a success after all.
IT IS NOT long, however, before I discover that somebody is paying attention to my words of wisdom, even if Jerry is not. There is a radio in my room, and when it comes Saturday I pin the earphones on and listen in on Wally McNaim. The Panthers are playing the Crimsons, and Wally is up there telling the folks about it in his best style. As I said before, he is no slouch of a sports announcer, and he makes it all very interesting. But several times he slips things into his broadcast that start me sort of wondering.
For instance, more than once when the Crimsons are making some ground in line plays, Wally says, “There seems to be a big hole in the left side of the Panthers’ wingline;” or maybe it will be like this: “Another big Crimson gain through that soft spot on the Panthers’ left.” And once, after the other team makes yards twice in a row, Wally says; “Panthers are going to make substitutions. It looks as if Coach Carey might be going to take out Baird, the left middle—Oh, no, he is allowing Baird to stay in there.”
But as the team wins by a fair score I think no more about it till Charlie Carey comes in to see me the next afternoon. We talk about this and that, and then, “What was wrong with the left side of our line yesterday?” I ask him.
“I wish that all you had wrong with you was the same thing,” Charlie says. “Those tramps don’t make eight feet through that side all day. Dick was stopping them before they even got started. Why?”
“Oh, nothing,” I says, “only somebody told me there was a soft spot on that side.’’ “Tell whoever it was to go and get his eyes examined quick,” the coach says. "The other side was sort of cheesey once or twice, but the left was as solid as your head.” When Wally McNaim shows up that night I start in to give him a ribbing about it.
"I listened to your broadcast yesterday,” I tell him. "What was the big idea of saying that the left side of our line was mushy? Why, they tell me that you couldn't have made a hole through that wing with a field gun.”
Wally was right there with the explanation.
“You know how it is, Jimmy,” he says. “One team’s left side is the other team’s right side, and away up there on the roof a fellow is apt to get things twisted.”
“We got to expect those kind of mistakes,” I tell him, “from green punks like McNamee and Ted Musing; but from a big-time expert like yourself we look for something a bit different. It is funny that the side of the line that you were putting in the grease all afternoon is the one where your friend Dick Baird plays.”
Wally looks a trifle flustered, but before he can say anything, in comes my supper, and I am blessed if that Jerry McKee don’t start right in telling him how swell his broadcast was.
"All of the girls that were off duty were
listening to you,” she says, “and we thought you were just grand. How do you ever manage to stand the strain, talking away for hours like that? I would think your voice would give out; your poor throat must ! be raw.”
JUST THEN Dick Baird makes his appearJ anee, wearing a beautiful mouse over one eye and a split lip.
“If you want to gush over somebody,” I say to Jerry, “how about Dick here? He wasn’t up on any grandstand roof risking , his tonsils. He was down there where the | cleats were flying.”
The little devil looks at Dick as if he was something the cat had found in the alley.
“You’ve been fighting,” she sniffs disgustedly, and poor Dick turns all the colors in a paint-box and, as usual, chokes up and says nothing.
“Naw, he wasn’t fighting,” I tell her. “He was playing football and some of his little playmates must have got a bit careless.”
“Oh, were you playing?” she says to Dick, like it was news to her. “What a pity you couldn’t have heard Mr. McNairn’s broadcast. It was the most thrilling thing I ever listened to.”
Now I ask you, was that like a woman or —was that like a woman? Later on, when | I start to give her a polite bawling out for ' it, she just laughs at me.
“Dick Baird is a grand fellow,” she says. “But I just love to watch the way he gets mauve around the ears when I look at him.”
“Even so,” I says, “you don’t need to feed McNaim so much of the old salve. He is swelled up like a poisoned pup as it is.”
“Why,” she giggles, “what is wrong with telling him he is wonderful? He adores hearing it, doesn’t he?”
“You fool around too much with that lug and you might be sorry,” I tell her. “He is—”
“Listen, Jimmy,” she interrupts me, “even back on the farm where I come from we get the newspapers once a month or so.
I know all about you city slickers and the way you lay snares for us poor country girls. Wally and Dick are both nice boys, but I am too busy to be bothered taking either of them seriously.”
“Too busy?” I says. “Busy at what?”
“Right now I am busy trying to be a nurse,” she says. “How’m I doing?”
“How would I know?” I grunt. “Ask your doctor.”
“I have asked him,” Jerry answers, “and he says I am doing fine, thank you.”
' I HIE WEEKS drag on, like they do when you are in bed and wishing you were somewhere else, and if either Dick or Wally are making any progress with the little nurse, it would take better eyesight than I got to detect it. They both keep on coming to see me —or her—as faithfully as ever, and she treats them both fairly impartially. If there is one of them she likes better than the other, she keeps it hidden too well for me to tell.
With Wally McNaim I get the idea, some way, that it is his conceit more than anything that makes him keep on coming. His good opinion of himself is not allowing him to admit that any girl can remain cold to his charms. But Dick Baird’s case is different. Those shy, silent downs often take that kind of a thing very serious; and whether it is love sickness or not, his playing falls off. Although the Panthers keep winning games, the other teams are making far more ground through Dick than they have any right to do; and by the time the championship playoffs are due, Charlie Carey is fit to be tied.
“If somebody don’t light a fire under that big ape, Baird,” Charlie says to me, “we! are beat sure. Last Saturday those Maroons were galloping through him like he was a one-way street and he is just watching them go by. If he don’t show any more fight to-
morrow, some of those tough babies on that Badger line will about trample him clear to China and then it will be good-by, Championship.”
“I will have to try and think up some way to help you, Charlie,” I says.
“Don’t you do it,” Charlie answers. “It is a mistake for a wing man to try thinking. The only thing you could do would be to grow a new leg and put on a uniform. I would be glad of even you out there tomorrow.”
“Things must be bad,” I reply, sarcasticlike.
“They are worse than that,” Charlie says. “The line is shot to aitch, and if Baird don’t snap out of his trance it will be just too bad.”
That afternoon they pry the cast off my leg and I am too occupied to properly resent what Charlie says about wingmen’s brains. The club doctor brings along a specialist and they gun me over and pronounce everything is oke; so I ask if it will be all right for ire to go to the game next day.
“Nothing doing,” this Dr. Morgan, the specialist, says. “If 1 thought you could behave and sit still, I might allow you to go. But the chances are you would try and celebrate, like when you win the title down in Ottawa, and you would likely fracture that leg all over again.”
“Were you at that Ottawa celebration?” I ask.
“No,” he replies, “unfortunately not. But I have heard all about it; in fact I have heard quite a bit about you lately.”
“Yeah? Who from?” I ask him, but he only shakes his head and smiles. He is a very pleasant sort of an egg and quite young for a specialist.
“Get a pair of crutches,” he says, “and hobble around here for a few days; and try and not take it too hard when the Badgers beat your beloved Panthers tomorrow.”
“How much money says they will?” 1 yell, but this doc. just grins and says he isn’t a betting man.
DICK BAIRD only stops in for a minute that evening, but by some miracle he digs up nerve enough to ask Jerry McKee if she would like to see the game.
“I c-can’t t-t-take you m-m-myself,” he stutters, blushing down to his collar, “b-but I got a c-couple of t-tickets and thought m-maybe you and a friend would like to go.” For a wonder, the girl acts nice to him and doesn’t try any kidding.
“That’s awfully sweet of you, Dick,” she says, “and I’m truly sorry I can’t go, but I’m going to be busy. But thanks for asking me, and I hope you have all the good luck in the world tomorrow.”
Dick goes out, red but happy, and Wally McNaim, who has been sitting there watching it all, sneers: “What a fine mess of tripe that big sap turned out to be.”
“Pipe down,” I tell him, “if you had one half as much ticker as he’s got, or could do anything a quarter as good as he plays football, you would have something to swell up about.”
“He plays football grand,” Wally says. “5k) grand that Carey will probably yank him out in the first five minutes.”
"He will be in there right to the finish,”
“He will be lucky to even start,” declares Wally. “He is yellow and can’t take it. Last Saturday, guys half his size were parading all over him and he hadn’t nerve enough to even take a crack at them.”
“You are dead wrong, Wally,” I says. “I will bet you that Little Prince Goldilocks is there forty ways tomorrow.”
“What is that you called him?” Wally asks quick and interested.
“Forget it,” I reply, pretending like I am embarrassed. “Forget it. That just slipped out without thinking.”
But he insists on knowing, and at last I have to tell.
“But you be sure and keep it dark,” I say, “or Dick would be like to murder me. You, see, when Dick is about six years old or so, some fool newspaper where he lives promotes one of these nutty beauty contests for children. The kid that is unlucky enough to win, gets to take the leading part in a
charity pageant or some such. And Dick’s | momma, who is a very romantic lady with no better sense than to keep Dick wearing long curls still, enters him in this contest, and what is still worse he wins it. So the poor kid has his pictures plastered all over the paper and has to strut the stage as Little Prince Goldilocks, which near kills him and no wonder.
“How I come to learn about this tragedy,”
I continue, “is because Dick gets very sad and confidential at the tail-end of the banquet we have the time we win the Dominion title. He dam near cries when he tells me how this terrible disgrace has blighted his whole life. So keep it a dead secret, for I really believe that if somebody was to up and whisper Little Prince Goldilocks in lus ear, the poor guy would go nuts.”
Y\7ALLY PROMISES, and leaves. He * ’ is sort of licking his lips over something.
“I suppose you will be listening in tomorrow as usual,” he says to Jerry McKee. “I shall try and make it good for you.”
She doesn’t give him a tumble.
“That was a rotten thing to do, Jimmy Green,” she blazes at me as soon as he goes. “What was?” I ask, very innocent.
“What you told that conceited pup about Dick,” she says. “Was any of it true?” “Sure, it was true,” I reply. “You don’t think I would lie to an important shot like McNaim, do you?”
“If it was true you should be ashamed,” she says. “You know that Wally McNairn is not the kind to keep a thing like that to himself. He will have it all over town. What ever possessed you to tell him?”
“It sort of slipped out,” I told her.
“It did nothing of the kind,” she says* “You did it deliberately. Jimmy Green, you are up to some devilment, now aren’t you?”
“Why ask me?” I answer. “You don’t believe anything I say. But you better give a listen to that broadcast. I may be wrong, but I have an idea it might be good.”
“I have something better to do with my time tomorrow,” she says. “Jimmy, would you like me to tell you a secret?”
“I wouldn’t like you to tell me anything but 'good night.’ I need my rest after all the heavy brain work I did today, and tomorrow I got to start learning to walk.” I says. “If you are down near the crutch departj ment, see if they have a nice pair that would ¡ iit me. Heavy ones.”
“I’ll do that,” she answers. “Good night, Jimmy dear. You have been— you’ve been awfully sweet to me.”
“Scram,” I tell her. “I will be just as sweet tomorrow night, especially if those Panthers win that old ball game.”
But when game time comes, it seems as if that is just what the Panthers are determined not to do. Five minutes after the whistle, Whitey Rennison, our catching half, with one eye probably on the grandstand as usual, drops one back of our line and a Badgers outside falls on it for a soft try. They foozle the convert, but I pretty near wrench the earphones out of the socket when I hear about it. Those Badgers are not such a team as you can start handing things on a platter to and expect to do good.
A minute or so later I hear McNairn, from the grandstand roof, announcing news which is perhaps not as big a surprise to me as it may be to some.
“It seems as if a young riot has broken loose down on the line,” he says, “and fists are flying fast and furious.” Then he says: “Baird of the Panthers and Arundle of Badgers are penalized for fighting. As they go to the penalty bench, Arundle appears to have a very badly bunged-up eye.”
TT CONTINUES like that most of the afternoon. Four or five times Dick is put off for scrapping, and when he is on the field McNaim keeps reporting heavy weather and squalls on the line. I sit there picturing what is happening, and I would have given an arm to be out there helping Dick in the good work, although from the Badgers casualty reports he don’t appear to be needing much assistance.
But for all that, the team just can’t seem to score anything except one measly point on an onside that rolls to the deadline, and that one touch looks as big as a house.
At last I hear McNaimsay. “About one minute to play with Badgers five points up and in possession of the ball on Panthers’ twenty-five yard line. Two plunges fail to gain, but Badgers are using up as much time as possible. Third down— they will probably kick for a single and sew the game up. Baird, who has been off for fighting, comes back on Panthers’ line. The signals are called and the ball is snapped and—somebody broke through and blocked the kick ! It is Baird. He scoops up the loose ball and is away, with the whole Badgers team in pursuit. Baird goes ten—twenty—thirty — forty—fifty—sixty—he’s over! Over for a touchdown ! A touchdown by Baird just as the whistle blows to end the game, and the Panthers are cham-pions!”
Then another voice comes on—some stooge that McNairn has on the roof with him. It says:
"That was a great finish to a great game, folks, and now if you will wait a moment Wally McNairn is on his way down to the field and will bring to the microphone down there some of the players who have starred in this great contest. Just a moment, if you please.”
A short pause and then McNairn’s voice, important as a drum-major:
“Here we are on the playing field, surrounded by a howling mob of people who have gone absolutely wild with that glorious finish. First of all, we are going to have speak to you some of the Panthers, the new champions. Coming to the microphone now we have the hero of the day, the man whose brilliant play in the dying moments of the game won the title, the great inside wing of the Panthers. I have pleasure in introducing Dick Baird, better known as Little Prince Goldi—”
Smack ! Crash ! Then silence. Then more silence. Then a long pause, and then the voice of the stooge on the roof :
"I regret to say that something of a riot seems to have broken out down there, and as the microphone appears to have been badly damaged, we will have to give up the idea of having the players speak to you.
I Before returning you to the studio, may I remind you that this broadcast came to you through the courtesy of—”
I still don’t know whose courtesy it was.
I turn off the radio, thinking that the crash I heard didn’t sound like it was any microphone was hit.
CO WHEN McNairn shows up that even^ ing, I am not at all amazed to see him somewhat battered and shopworn.
“You will go down among those rough footballers,” I kid him, “instead of sticking on the roof where you are nice and safe.” “Shut up,” he says, and as he appears to
mean it, I do so. In about five minutes I Dick makes his appearance, and he is also looking considerably frayed. His eyes blaze when he spots McNairn.
“Listen, you two,” I declare myself. “If you start anything here I will crack down with these crutches, which were picked especially for weight. If they connect you will feel it, so the best thing you can do is kiss and make up, or else wait till I can get out of here and see the fight. What is wrong with you anyway, Dick?”
“Somebody,” blurts Dick, “somebodytold those Badgers to call me Goldilocks, and it must have been him.”
“1 told them,” I says.
“You told them?”
“Maybe not personally,” I says, “but I sent them a message by a trusty friend.” I look at Wally and there is guilt in the eye he can still see out of. “You see, Dick,” I says , “it has been on my mind that your attention has not been on your work, so I thought that if we could sort of get you hot, you might lx; some good to the team, which is more than you have been for a month back.”
“Oh, well,” says Dick, beginning to cool out. Then he flares up again. “But you, McNairn, what right did you have to call me that in front of that microphone and —” “Forget it,” I says. “Whatever he did to you, it looks like you gave him a paid-in-full receipt. So let it slide and take a look at this note I get an hour back.” They take it and read:
Dear Jimmy: You wouldn’t let me tell you my secret last night, so I am writing instead. When you receive this,
I shall be married to Dr. Morgan. You met him yesterday, don’t you think he is grand? We have been engaged for more than a year. Give my regards to Dick and Wally and be sure and come up and see us some time—especially if you have any more bones that need setting. Yours in haste,
The two of them read this note and then they look at one another.
“Shake,” says Dick and they mitt each other as solemn as owls. Then: “Come on,” ' says Wally, “let’s beat it.”
“Where are you two going?” I ask them as they go.
“I don’t know where we will finish,” Wally says, “but we will start off by going out and killing a few doctors.”
“I don’t care where it is,” Dick says, “as long as there aren’t any women there.”
And where they went, I cannot say. All I know is that about sunrise next morning a chunk of coal comes sailing through my window and when I look out there are Dick and Wally, with their arms round one another’s necks, warbling “Dear Old Pal of Mine” about as sour as ever I heard it sung.