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Five members of the “D” club had gathered in Jack Straw’s room on the top floor of Phillip’s Hall the last Saturday afternoon before the end of the Spring term. They had not assembled in official conclave, indeed they had not intended to assemble at all. They had merely gravitated there one by one in search of something to take their minds off the worst disappointment they had been compelled to face that year. The Drueryville-Seaton baseball game, the one that was to have settled the preparatory school championship of Vermont, had been scheduled for that Saturday afternoon, and, lo and behold, in spite of the importance of the day, Jupiter Pluvius or whoever it was that controlled the rain supply,


 had made the game impossible by deluging everything in sight since early morning. And there was no chance of postponing the contest either as school closed the following Friday. The championship would have to remain undecided. And this was just the year Drueryville stood a better chance than ever of adding the “prep” cup to her trophy case. It was enough to make anyone glum.

“They should have named this place Drearyville instead of Drueryville,” muttered Toad Fletcher, the stocky little catcher of the team, as he looked across the deserted campus at the dripping eves of Bradley Hall.

John Monroe Strawbridge, who was known to every boy in school as Jack Straw, shifted his position on the window seat so that he could take another look at the weather.

“It is pretty gloomy on a day like this,” he answered after searching the leaden sky for some signs of a break in the low hanging storm clouds.

Jack and Toad were too dejected in spirit for conversation and since Bunny Baily was deeply engrossed in a book of fiction and Dick Cory


 and Harvey Maston were working out an absorbing game of checkers silence reigned in the room for some time. In fact a stranger passing the door would never have suspected that five perfectly normal, healthy boys were within. But then the “D” club was composed of the honor boys of Drueryville Academy and for that reason if no other, they were bound to be more dignified at times. You see the “D” club was made up of the students who had won the privilege of wearing a white and blue initial, the insignia of the school, on their caps or jersey; and in order to earn that distinction a boy must needs work hard both in the class room and on the athletic field. When a youth successfully attained such laurels the crown was apt to weigh heavily.

How long the clicking of checkers would have remained the only sound is hard to tell had not Tommy Todd happened to see Jack Straw curled up in the window seat. He paused a moment before Phillip’s Hall and waved his hand in friendly greeting. Then he splashed across the muddy road and came up the stairs three steps at a time. Like a small


 portion of the storm itself (for Tommy was by no means a big boy) he burst into the room, his yellow raincoat and rubber hat dripping wet.

“Say, don’t flood the place!” shouted Jack as he noted two growing pools of water on the rug.

But Tommy only grinned as he removed his wet garments and draped them over the back of a chair so that they would drip on the hearthstone.

“Sort of hard luck to have a day like this happen along just when it isn’t wanted,” he suggested to no one in particular. Then without waiting for a response he looked at Jack and spoke.

“Say old man, I can’t think what on earth you’ve been up to recently, but there’s something in the wind. Dr. Moorland wants to see you as soon as possible. I just came from his house and he asked me to look you up. I was going on downtown first because the last place on earth I ever expected to find you was in your own room. What’s the trouble anyway? You haven’t done something that will keep


 you from getting through next week, have you? It’s mighty close to the end of the term and I hope you’ve been careful.”

At this Cory and Maston suspended their game for a moment and Bunny Baily put down his book. All eyes were turned on Jack Straw. And as for Jack, it must be confessed he looked startled and somewhat worried. Hastily he ran through his mental diary, but so far as he could see no one entry stood out above the rest as warranting reprimand from the principal.

“I haven’t the slightest idea what he can want of me,” he assured his guests as he hastened into his bedroom and donned raincoat and rubbers. A few moments later he hurried out into the hall and down the broad stairs toward the main entrance. As he passed the mail rack in the hall he noticed a letter waiting for him. Hastily he seized it and crammed it into his pocket, noting as he did so that the address was written in his father’s hand.

Dr. Theodore Moorland, the principal, lived in a modest little cottage on the north side of the campus. It was almost hidden in a grove


 of tall maples and, as if to make itself more inconspicuous, it had permitted woodbine and ivy to clothe its gray stone walls in a cloak of soft green. A graveled road that wound between fat old maples showed the way to the front door, and it was up this much used path that Jack Strawbridge hastened, his mind still puzzled over the reason for such an unusual command. The heavy old-fashioned door to the cottage was equipped with a ponderous brass knocker of quaint design which thumped with such resonance as to spread consternation in the soul of youngsters summoned thither. Thus they were thoroughly disturbed before they even faced the austere old master.

Such was not the attitude of Jack Straw, however. He had not been able to remember a single reason why he should expect to face a scolding from Dr. Moorland. Every examination paper had come back with excellent markings and his conduct for some time past had been beyond reproach. He thumped the old door knocker twice in his eagerness to find out just what the master wanted. Perhaps it was news from home, he thought, and he comforted


 himself by the fact that nothing serious had happened to his father, for the letter in his coat pocket attested to the fact that he was still well enough to write. But while he was speculating thus the door was opened by Dr. Moorland himself.

The dignified pedagogue greeted the boy with a broad smile and a hearty hand shake.

“I didn’t know but what you and some of the rest of the boys had about grieved yourselves to death over your ill luck at having the championship game broken up by the weather,” he said as he ushered Jack into his study in a secluded wing of the house.

“It is rather hard on us,” said Jack with a smile. “Here we’ve been working since February to get our team in shape for the trophy contest and then a little thing like the weather spoils it. Next year I think we will have to arrange to have the championship game a little earlier so there will be enough time to play it in case of an emergency like this one.”

“Never mind, Jack, my boy,” said the principal, “I have a mission for you that is calculated


 to take your mind off baseball and similar troubles for some time to come.”

The boy was plainly puzzled at this remark. He looked curiously at the principal who was striding the room nervously. Dr. Moorland was a tall, broad shouldered man of sixty. His hair was snow white and so long in back that it curled down over his coat collar. A pair of horn rimmed spectacles that were constantly sliding forward on his nose made him appear to be a testy individual, but in reality he was a genial old gentleman who loved his boys as much as if he was the father of every one of them. The State of Vermont counted him among the best of its educators and he was famed throughout the country, indeed throughout the world as a chemist.

Fiction & Literature
17 December
Rectory Print
Babafemi Titilayo Olowe

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