The Final Round





After the New-Year the school filled up with big boys, some of whom had

returned with the idea of joining the preparatory class for college,

which the minister had persuaded John Craven to organize.



Shinny, however, became the absorbing interest for all the boys, both

big and little. This interest was intensified by the rumors that came up

from the Front, for it was noised through the Twentieth section that Dan

Munro, whose father was a cousin of Archie Munro, the former teacher,

had come from Marrintown and taken charge of the Front school, and that,

being used to the ice game, and being full of tricks and swift as

a bird, he was an exceedingly dangerous man. More than that, he was

training his team with his own tricks, and had got back to school some

of the old players, among whom were no less renowned personages than Hec

Ross and Jimmie "Ben." Jimmie Ben, to wit, James son of Benjamin McEwen,

was more famed for his prowess as a fighter than for his knowledge

of the game of shinny, but every one who saw him play said he was "a

terror." Further, it was rumored that there was a chance of them

getting for goal Farquhar McRae, "Little Farquhar," or "Farquhar Bheg"

(pronounced "vaick"), as he was euphoniously called, who presumably had

once been little, but could no longer claim to be so, seeing that he was

six feet, and weighed two hundred pounds.



It behooved the Twentieth team, therefore, to bestir themselves with all

diligence, and in this matter Hughie gave no rest either to himself or

to any one else likely to be of use in perfecting his team. For Hughie

had been unanimously chosen captain, in spite of his protests that the

master or one of the big boys should hold that place. But none of the

big boys knew the new game as perfectly as Hughie, and the master had

absolutely refused, saying, "You beat them once, Hughie, and you can do

it again." And as the days and weeks went on, Hughie fully justified the

team's choice of him as captain. He developed a genius for organization,

a sureness of judgment, and a tact in management, as well as a skill and

speed in play, that won the confidence of every member of his team. He

set himself resolutely to banish any remaining relics of the ancient

style of play. In the old game every one rushed to hit the ball without

regard to direction or distance, and the consequence was, that from end

to end of the field a mob of yelling, stick-waving players more or less

aimlessly followed in the wake of the ball. But Hughie and the master

changed all that, forced the men to play in their positions, training

them never to drive wildly forward, but to pass to a man, and to keep

their clubs down and their mouths shut.



The striking characteristic of Hughie's own playing was a certain

fierceness, amounting almost to fury, so that when he was in the attack

he played for every ounce there was in him. His chief weakness lay in

his tempestuous temper, which he found difficult to command, but as he

worked his men from day to day, and week to week, the responsibility of

his position and the magnitude of the issues at stake helped him to a

self-control quite remarkable in him.



As the fateful day drew near the whole section was stirred with an

intense interest and excitement, in which even the grave and solemn

elders shared, and to a greater degree, the minister and his wife.



At length the day, as all days great and small, actually arrived. A big

crowd awaited the appearance of "the folks from the Front." They were

expected about two, but it was not till half-past that there was heard

in the distance the sound of the bagpipes.



"Here they are! That's Alan the cooper's pipes," was the cry, and

before long, sure enough there appeared Alphonse le Roque driving his

French-Canadian team, the joy and pride of his heart, for Alphonse was

a born horse-trainer, and had taught his French-Canadians many

extraordinary tricks. On the dead gallop he approached the crowd till

within a few yards, when, at a sudden command, they threw themselves

upon their haunches, and came almost to a standstill. With a crack of

his long whip Alphonse gave the command, "Deesplay yousef!" At once his

stout little team began to toss their beautiful heads, and broke into

a series of prancing curves that would not have shamed a pair of

greyhounds. Then, as they drew up to the stopping-point, he gathered

up his lines, and with another crack of his whip, cried, "Salute ze

ladies!" when, with true equine courtesy, they rose upon their hind legs

and gracefully pawed the empty air. Finally, after depositing his load

amid the admiring exclamations of the crowd, he touched their tails with

the point of his whip, gave a sudden "Whish!" and like hounds from the

leash his horses sprang off at full gallop.



One after another the teams from the Front swung round and emptied their

loads.



"Man! what a crowd!" said Hughie to Don. "There must be a hundred at

least."



"Yes, and there's Hec Ross and Jimmie Ben," said Don, "and sure enough,

Farquhar Begh. We'll be catching it to-day, whatever," continued Don,

cheerfully.



"Pshaw! we licked as big men before. It isn't size," said Hughie, with

far more confidence than he felt.



It was half an hour before the players were ready to begin. The rules of

the game were few and simple. The play was to be one hour each way,

with a quarter of an hour rest between. There was to be no tripping,

no hitting on the shins when the ball was out of the scrimmage, and all

disputes were to be settled by the umpire, who on this occasion was the

master of the Sixteenth school.



"He's no good," grumbled Hughie to his mother, who was even more excited

than her boy himself. "He can't play himself, and he's too easy scared."



"Never mind," said his mother, brightly; "perhaps he won't have much to

do."



"Much to do! Well, there's Jimmie Ben, and he's an awful fighter, but

I'm not going to let him frighten me," said Hughie, savagely; "and

there's Dan Munro, too, they say he's a terror, and Hec Ross. Of course

we've got just as good men, but they won't fight. Why, Johnnie 'Big

Duncan' and Don, there, are as good as any of them, but they won't

fight."



The mother smiled a little.



"What a pity! But why should they fight? Fighting is not shinny."



"No, that's what the master says. And he's right enough, too, but it's

awful hard when a fellow doesn't play fair, when he trips you up or

clubs you on the shins when you're not near the ball. You feel like

hitting him back."



"Yes, but that's the very time to show self-control."



"I know. And that's what the master says."



"Of course it is," went on his mother. "That's what the game is for, to

teach the boys to command their tempers. You remember 'he that ruleth

his spirit is better than he that taketh a city.'



"O, it's all right," said Hughie, "and easy enough to talk about."



"What's easy enough to talk about?" asked the master, coming up.



"Taking a city," said Mrs. Murray, smiling at him.



The master looked puzzled.



"Mother means," said Hughie, "keeping one's temper in shinny. But I'm

telling her it's pretty hard when a fellow clubs you on the shins when

you're away from the ball."



"Yes, of course it's hard," said the master, "but it's better than being

a cad," which brought a quick flush to Hughie's face, but helped him

more than anything else to keep himself in hand that day.



"Can't understand a man," said the master, "who goes into a game and

then quits it to fight. If it's fighting, why fight, but if it's shinny,

play the game. Big team against us, eh, captain?" he continued, looking

at the Front men, who were taking a preliminary spin upon the ice, "and

pretty swift, too."



"If they play fair, I don't mind," said Hughie. "I'm not afraid of them;

but if they get slugging--"



"Well, if they get slugging," said the master, "we'll play the game and

win, sure."



"Well, it's time to begin," said Hughie, and with a good by to his

mother he turned away.



"Remember, take a city," she called out after him.



"All right, muzzie, I'll remember."



In a few moments the teams were in position opposite each other. The

team from the Front made a formidable show in weight and muscle. At the

right of the forward line stood the redoubtable Dan Munro, the stocky,

tricky, fierce captain of the Front team, and with him three rather

small boys in red shirts. The defense consisted of Hec Ross, the

much-famed and much-feared Jimmie Ben, while in goal, sure enough, stood

the immense and solid bulk of Farquhar Bheg. The center was held by four

boys of fair size and weight.



In the Twentieth team the forward line was composed of Jack Ross, Curly

Ross's brother, Fusie, Davie Scotch, and Don Cameron. The center was

played by Hughie, with three little chaps who made up for their lack of

weight by their speed and skill. The defense consisted of Johnnie "Big

Duncan," to wit, John, the son of Big Duncan Campbell, on the left hand,

and the master on the right, backed up by Thomas Finch in goal, who much

against his will was in the game that day. His heart was heavy within

him, for he saw, not the gleaming ice and the crowding players, but "the

room" at home, and his mother, with her pale, patient face, sitting in

her chair. His father, he knew, would be beside her, and Jessac would be

flitting about. "But for all that, she'll have a long day," he said to

himself, for only his loyalty to the school and to Hughie had brought

him to the game that day.



When play was called, Hughie, with Fusie immediately behind him, stood

facing Dan in the center with one of the little Red Shirts at his back.

It was Dan's drop. He made a pass or two, then shot between his legs

to a Red Shirt, who, upon receiving, passed far out to Red Shirt number

three, who flew along the outer edge and returned swiftly to Dan, now

far up the other side. Like the wind Dan sped down the line, dodged

Johnnie Big Duncan easily, and shot from the corner, straight, swift,

and true, a goal.



"One for the Front!" Eleven shinny-sticks went up in the air, the

bagpipes struck up a wild refrain, big Hec Ross and Jimmie Ben danced a

huge, unwieldy, but altogether jubilant dance round each other, and then

settled down to their places, for it was Hughie's drop.



Hughie took the ball from the umpire and faced Dan with some degree of

nervousness, for Dan was heavy and strong, and full of confidence. After

a little manoeuvering he dropped the ball between Dan's legs, but Dan,

instead of attending to the ball, charged full upon him and laid him

flat, while one of the Red Shirts, seizing the ball, flew off with

it, supported by a friendly Red Shirt on either side of him, with Dan

following hard.



Right through the crowd dodged the Red Shirts till they came up to the

Twentieth line of defense, when forth came Johnnie Big Duncan in swift

attack. But the little Red Shirt who had the ball, touching it slightly

to the right, tangled himself up in Johnnie Big Duncan's legs and sent

him sprawling, while Dan swiped the ball to another Red Shirt who had

slipped in behind the master, for there was no such foolishness as

off-side in that game. Like lightning the Red Shirt caught the ball, and

rushing at Thomas, shot furiously at close quarters. Goal number two for

the Front!



Again on all sides rose frantic cheers. "The Front! The Front! Murro

forever!" Two games had been won, and not a Twentieth man had touched

the ball. With furtive, uncertain glances the men of the Twentieth

team looked one at the other, and all at their captain, as if seeking

explanation of this extraordinary situation.



"Well," said Hughie, in a loud voice, to the master, and with a careless

laugh, though at his heart he was desperate, "they are giving us a

little taste of our own medicine."



The master dropped to buckle his skate, deliberately unwinding the

strap, while the umpire allowed time.



"Give me a hand with this, Hughie," he called, and Hughie skated up to

him.



"Well," said Craven, smiling up into Hughie's face, "that's a good,

swift opening, isn't it?"



"Oh, it's terrible," groaned Hughie. "They're going to lick us off the

ice."



"Well," replied the master, slowly, "I wouldn't be in a hurry to say

so. We have a hundred minutes and more to win in yet. Now, don't you see

that their captain is their great card. Suppose you let the ball go for

a game or two, and stick to Dan. Trail him, never let him shake you. The

rest of us will take care of the game."



"All right," said Hughie, "I'll stick to him," and off he set for the

center.



As the loser, Hughie again held the drop. He faced Dan with

determination to get that ball out to Fusie, and somehow he felt in his

bones that he should succeed in doing this. Without any preliminary he

dropped, and knocked the ball toward Fusie.



But this was evidently what Dan expected, for as soon as Hughie made the

motion to drop he charged hard upon the waiting Fusie. Hughie, however,

had his plan as well, for immediately upon the ball leaving his stick,

he threw himself in Dan's way, checking him effectually, and allowing

Fusie, with Don and Scotchie following, to get away.



The Front defense, however, was too strong, and the ball came shooting

back toward the line of Reds, one of whom, making a short run, passed

far out to Dan on the right. But before the latter could get up speed,

Hughie was upon him, and ignoring the ball, blocked and bothered and

checked him, till one of the Twentieth centers, rushing in, secured it

for his side.



"Ha! well done, captain!" came Craven's voice across the ice, and

Hughie felt his nerve come back. If he could hold Dan, that deadly Front

combination might be broken.



Meantime Don had secured the ball from Craven, and was rushing up his

right wing.



"Here you are, Hughie," he cried, shooting across the Front goal.



Hughie sprang to receive, but before he could shoot Dan was upon him,

checking so hard that Hughie was sent sprawling to the ice, while Dan

shot away with the ball.



But before he had gone very far Hughie was after him like a whirlwind,

making straight for his own goal, so that by the time Dan had arrived at

shooting distance, Hughie was again upon him, and while in the very act

of steadying himself for his try at the goal, came crashing into him

with such fierceness of attack that Dan was flung aside, while Johnnie

Big Duncan, capturing the ball, sent it across to the master.



It was the master's first chance for the day. With amazing swiftness

and dexterity he threaded the outer edge of the ice, and with a sudden

swerve across, avoided the throng that had gathered to oppose him, and

then with a careless ease, as if it were a matter of little importance,

he dodged in between the heavy Front defense, shot his goal, and skated

back coolly to his place.



The Twentieth's moment had come, and both upon the ice and upon the

banks the volume and fierceness of the cheering testified to the

intensity of the feeling that had been so long pent up.



That game had revealed to Hughie two important facts: the first, that he

was faster than Dan in a straight race; and the second, that it would be

advisable to feed the master, for it was clearly apparent that there was

not his equal upon the ice in dodging.



"That was well done, captain," said Craven to Hughie, as he was coolly

skating back to his position.



"A splendid run, sir," cried Hughie, in return.



"Oh, the run was easy. It was your check there that did the trick.

That's the game," he continued, lowering his voice. "It's hard on you,

though. Can you stand it?"



"Well, I can try for a while," said Hughie, confidently.



"If you can," said the master, "we've got them," and Hughie settled down

into the resolve that, cost what it might, he would stick like a leech

to Dan.



He imparted his plan to Fusie, adding, "Now, whenever you see me tackle

Dan, run in and get the ball. I'm not going to bother about it."



Half an hour had gone. The score stood two to one in favor of the Front,

but the result every one felt to be still uncertain. That last attack of

Hughie's, and the master's speedy performance, gave some concern to the

men of the Front, and awakened a feeling of confidence in the Twentieth

team.



But Dan, wise general that he was, saw the danger, and gave his commands

ere he faced off for the new game.



"When that man Craven gets it," he said to the men of the center, "make

straight for the goal. Never mind the ball."



The wisdom of this order became at once evident, for when in the

face-off he secured the ball, Hughie clung so tenaciously to his heels

and checked him so effectually, that he was forced to resign it to the

Reds, who piercing the Twentieth center, managed to scurry up the ice

with the ball between them. But when, met by Craven and Johnnie Big

Duncan, they passed across to Dan, Hughie again checked so fiercely that

Johnnie Big Duncan secured the ball, passed back to the master, who with

another meteoric flash along the edge of the field broke through the

Front's defense, and again shot.



It was only Farquhar Bheg's steady coolness that saved the goal. It was

a near enough thing, however, to strike a sudden chill to the heart of

the Front goal-keeper, and to make Dan realize that something must be

done to check these dangerous rushes of Craven.



"Get in behind the defense there, and stay there," he said to two of his

centers, and his tone indicated that his serene confidence in himself

and his team was slightly shaken. Hughie's close checking was beginning

to chafe him, for his team in their practice had learned to depend

unduly upon him.



Noticing Dan's change in the disposition of his men, Hughie moved up two

of his centers nearer to the Front defense.



"Get into their way," he said "and give the master a clear field."



But this policy only assisted Dan's plan of defense, for the presence

of so many players before the Front goal filled up the ice to such an

extent that Craven's rushes were impeded by mere numbers.



For some time Dan watched the result of his tactics well satisfied,

remaining himself for the time in the background. During one of the

pauses, when the ball was out of play, he called one of the little Reds

to him.



"Look here," he said, "you watch this. Right after one of those rushes

of Craven's, don't follow him down, but keep up to your position. I'll

get the ball to you somehow, and then you'll have a chance to shoot.

No use passing to me, for this little son of a gun is on my back like a

flea on a dog." Dan was seriously annoyed.



The little Red passed the word around and patiently waited his chance.

Once and again the plan failed, chiefly because Dan could not get the

ball out of the scrimmage, but at length, when Hughie had been tempted

to rush in with the hope of putting in a shot, the ball slid out of the

scrimmage, and Dan, swooping down upon it, passed swiftly to the waiting

Red who immediately shot far out to his alert wing, and then rushing

down the center and slipping past Johnnie Big Duncan, who had gone forth

to meet Dan coming down the right, and the master who was attending to

the little Red on the wing, received the ball, and putting in a short,

swift shot, scored another goal for the Front, amid a tempest of

hurrahings from the team and their supporters.



The game now stood three to one in favor of the Front, and up to the end

of the first hour no change was made in this score.



And now there was a scene of the wildest enthusiasm and confusion. The

Front people flocked upon the ice and carried off their team to their

quarter of the shanty, loading them with congratulations and refreshing

them with various drinks.



"Better get your men together, captain," suggested Craven, and Hughie

gathered them into the Twentieth corner of the shanty.



In spite of the adverse score Hughie found his team full of fight. They

crowded about him and the master, eager to listen to any explanation of

the present defeat that might be offered for their comfort, or to any

plans by which the defeat might be turned into victory. Some

minutes they spent in excitedly discussing the various games, and in

good-naturedly chaffing Thomas Finch for his failure to prevent a score.

But Thomas had nothing to say in reply. He had done his best, and he had

a feeling that they all knew it. No man was held in higher esteem by the

team than the goal-keeper.



"Any plan, captain?" asked the master, after they had talked for some

minutes, and all grew quiet.



"What do you think, sir?" said Hughie.



"O, let us hear from you. You're the captain."



"Well," said Hughie, slowly, and with deliberate emphasis, "I think we

are going to win." (Yells from all sides.) "At any rate we ought to

win, for I think we have the better team." (More yells.) "What I mean is

this, I think we are better in combination play, and I don't think they

have a man who can touch the master."



Enthusiastic exclamations, "That's right!" "Better believe it!" "Horo!"



"But we have a big fight before us. And that Dan Munro's a terror. The

only change I can think of is to open out more and fall back from their

goal for a little while. And then, if I can hold Dan--"



Cries of "You'll hold him all right!" "You are the lad!"



"Everybody should feed the master. They can't stop him, any of them.

But I would say for the first while, anyway, play defense. What do you

think, sir?" appealing to the master.



"I call that good tactics. But don't depend too much upon me; if any man

has a chance for a run and a shot, let him take it. And don't give up

your combination in your forward line. The captain is quite right in

seeking to draw them away from their goal. Their defense territory is

too full now. Now, what I have noticed is this, they mainly rely upon

Dan Munro and upon their three big defense men. For the first fifteen

minutes they will make their hardest push. Let us take the captain's

advice, fall back a little, and so empty their defense. But on the

whole, keep your positions, play to your men, and," he added, with a

smile, "don't get too mad."



"I guess they will be making some plans, too," said Thomas Finch,

slowly, and everybody laughed.



"That's quite right, Thomas, but we'll give them a chance for the first

while to show us what they mean to do."



At this point the minister came in, looking rather gloomy.



"Well, Mr. Craven, rather doubtful outlook, is it not?"



"O, not too bad, sir," said the master, cheerfully.



"Three to one. What worse do you want?"



"Well, six to one would be worse," replied the master. "Besides, their

first two games were taken by a kind of fluke. We didn't know

their play. You will notice they have taken only one in the last

three-quarters of an hour."



"I doubt they are too big for you," continued the minister.



"Isn't altogether size that wins in shinny," said Mr. Craven. "Hughie

there isn't a very big man, but he can hold any one of them."



"Well, I hope you may be right," said the minister. "I am sorry I have

to leave the game to see a sick man up Kenyon way."



"Sorry you can't stay, sir, to see us win," said Craven, cheerfully,

while Hughie slipped out to see his mother before she went.



"Well, my boy," said his mother, "you are playing a splendid game, and

you are getting better as you go on."



"Thanks, mother. That's the kind of talk we like," said Hughie, who

had been a little depressed by his father's rather gloomy views. "I'm

awfully sorry you can't stay."



"And so am I, but we must go. But we shall be back in time for supper,

and you will ask all the team to come down to celebrate their victory."



"Good for you, mother! I'll tell them, and I bet they'll play."



Meantime the team from the Front had been having something of a

jollification in their quarters. They were sure of victory, and in spite

of their captain's remonstrances had already begun to pass round the

bottle in the way of celebration.



"They're having something strong in there," said little Mac McGregor.

"Wish they'd pass some this way."



"Let them have it," said Johnnie Big Duncan, whose whole family ever

since the revival had taken a total abstinence pledge, although this

was looked upon as a very extreme position indeed, by almost all the

community. But Big Duncan Campbell had learned by very bitter experience

that for him, at least, there was no safety in a moderate use of "God's

good creature," as many of his fellow church-members designated the

"mountain dew," and his sons had loyally backed him up in this attitude.



"Quite, right!" said the master, emphatically. "And if they had any

sense they would know that with every drink they are throwing away a big

chance of winning."



"Horo, you fellows!" shouted big Hec Ross across to them, "aren't you

going to play any more? Have you got enough of it already?"



"We will not be caring for any more of yon kind," said Johnnie Big

Duncan, good-naturedly, "and we were thinking of giving you a change."



"Come away and be at it, then," said Hec, "for we're all getting cold."



"That's easily cured," said Dan, as they sallied forth to the ice again,

"for I warrant you will not be suffering from the cold in five minutes."



When the teams took up their positions, it was discovered that Dan had

fallen back to the center, and Hughie was at a loss to know how to meet

this new disposition of the enemy's force.



"Let them go on," said the master, with whom Hughie was holding a

hurried consultation. "You stick to him, and we'll play defense till

they develop their plan."



The tactics of the Front became immediately apparent upon the drop of

the ball, and proved to be what the master had foretold. No sooner had

the game begun than the big defense men advanced with the centers to the

attack, and when Hughie followed up his plan of sticking closely to Dan

Munro and hampering him, he found Jimmie Ben upon him, swiping furiously

with his club at his shins, with evident intention of intimidating

him, as well as of relieving Dan from his attentions. But if Jimmie Ben

thought by his noisy shouting and furious swiping to strike terror to

the heart of the Twentieth captain, he entirely misjudged his man; for

without seeking to give him back what he received in kind, Hughie played

his game with such skill and pluck, that although he was considerably

battered about the shins, he was nevertheless able to prevent Dan from

making any of his dangerous rushes.



Craven, meantime, if he noticed Hughie's hard case, was so fully

occupied with the defense of the goal that he could give no thought to

anything else. Shot after shot came in upon Thomas at close range,

and so savage and reckless was the charge of the Front that their big

defense men, Hec Ross and Jimmie Ben, abandoning their own positions,

were foremost in the melee before the Twentieth goal.



For fully fifteen minutes the ball was kept in the Twentieth territory,

and only the steady coolness of Craven and Johnnie Big Duncan, backed

by Hughie's persistent checking of the Front captain and the magnificent

steadiness of Thomas in goal, saved the game.



At length, as the fury of the charge began to expend itself a little,

Craven got his chance. The ball had been passed out to Dan upon the left

wing of the Front forward line. At once Hughie was upon him, but Jimmie

Ben following hard, with a cruel swipe at Hughie's skates, laid him

flat, but not until he had succeeded in hindering to some degree Dan's

escape with the ball. Before the Front captain could make use of his

advantage and get clear away, the master bore down upon him like a

whirlwind, hurled him clear off his feet, secured the ball, dashed up

the open field, and eluding the two centers, who had been instructed to

cover the goal, easily shot between the balsam-trees.



For a few moments the Twentieth men went mad, for they all felt that a

crisis had been passed. The failure of the Front in what had evidently

been a preconcerted and very general attack was accepted as an omen of

victory.



The Front men, on the other hand, were bitterly chagrined. They had come

so near it, and yet had failed. Jimmie Ben was especially savage. He

came down the ice toward the center, yelling defiance and threats of

vengeance. "Come on here! Don't waste time. Let us at them. We'll knock

them clear off the ice."



It was Dan's drop. As he was preparing to face off, the master skated up

and asked the umpire for time. At once the crowd gathered round.



"What's the matter?" "What's up?" "What do you want?" came on all sides

from the Front team, now thoroughly aroused and thirsting for vengeance.



"Mr. Umpire," said the master, "I want to call your attention to a bit

of foul play that must not be allowed to go on"; and then he described

Jimmie Ben's furious attack upon Hughie.



"It was a deliberate trip, as well as a savage swipe at a man's shins

when the ball was not near."



At once Jimmie Ben gave him the lie, and throwing down his club, slammed

his cap upon the ice and proceeded to execute a war-dance about it.



For a few moments there was a great uproar, and then the master's voice

was heard again addressing the umpire.



"I want to know your ruling upon this, Mr. Umpire"; and somehow his

voice commanded a perfect stillness.



"Well," said the umpire, hesitating, "of course--if a man trips it is

foul play, but--I did not see any tripping. And of course--swiping at

a man's shins is not allowed, although sometimes--it can't very well be

helped in a scrimmage."



"I merely want to call your attention to it," said the master. "My

understanding of our arrangements, Mr. Munro," he said, addressing the

Front captain, "is that we are here to play shinny. You have come up

here, I believe, to win the game by playing shinny, and we are here to

prevent you. If you have any other purpose, or if any of your men have

any other purpose, we would be glad to know it now, for we entered this

game with the intention of playing straight, clean shinny."



"That's right!" called out Hec Ross; "that's what we're here for." And

his answer was echoed on every side, except by Jimmie Ben, who continued

to bluster and offer fight.



"O, shut your gab!" finally said Farquhar Bheg, impatiently. "If you

want to fight, wait till after the game is done."



"Here's your cap, Jimmie," piped a thin, little voice. "You'll take cold

in your head." It was little French Fusie, holding up Jimmie's cap on

the end of his shinny club, and smiling with the utmost good nature, but

with infinite impudence, into Jimmie's face.



At once there was a general laugh at Jimmie Ben's expense, who with a

growl, seized his cap, and putting it on his head, skated off to his

place.



"Now," said Hughie, calling his men together for a moment, "let us crowd

them hard, and let's give the master every chance we can."



"No," said the master, "they are waiting for me. Suppose you leave Dan

to me for a while. You go up and play your forward combination. They are

not paying so much attention to you. Make the attack from your wing."



At the drop Dan secured the ball, and followed by Fusie, flew up the

center with one of the Reds on either hand. Immediately the master

crossed to meet him, checked him hard, and gave Fusie a chance, who,

seizing the ball, passed far up to Hughie on the right.



Immediately the Twentieth forward line rushed, and by a beautiful hit

of combined play, brought the ball directly before the Front goal, when

Don, holding it for a moment till Hughie charged in upon Farquhar Bheg,

shot, and scored.



The result of their combination at once inspired the Twentieth team with

fresh confidence, and proved most disconcerting to their opponents.



"That's the game, boys," said the master, delightedly. "Keep your heads,

and play your positions." And so well did the forward line respond that

for the next ten minutes the game was reduced to a series of attacks

upon the Front goal, and had it not been for the dashing play of their

captain and the heavy checking of the Front defense, the result would

have been most disastrous to them.



Meantime, the Twentieth supporters, lined along either edge, became more

and more vociferous as they began to see that their men were getting the

game well into their own hands. That steady, cool, systematic play of

man to man was something quite new to those accustomed to the old style

of game, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm.



Gradually the Front were forced to fall back into their territory, and

to play upon the defensive, while the master and Johnnie Big Duncan,

moving up toward the center, kept their forward line so strongly

supported, and checked so effectually any attempts to break through,

that thick and fast the shots fell upon the enemy's goal.



There remained only fifteen minutes to play. The hard pace was beginning

to tell upon the big men, and the inevitable reaction following their

unwise "celebrating" began to show itself in their stale and spiritless

play. On the other hand, the Twentieth were as fresh as ever, and

pressed the game with greater spirit every moment.



"Play out toward the side," urged Dan, despairing of victory, but

determined to avert defeat, and at every opportunity the ball was

knocked out of play. But like wolves the Twentieth forwards were upon

the ball, striving to keep it in play, and steadily forcing it toward

the enemy's goal.



Dan became desperate. He was wet with perspiration, and his breath was

coming in hard gasps. He looked at his team. The little Reds were fit

enough, but the others were jaded and pumped out. Behind him stood

Jimmie Ben, savage, wet, and weary.



At one of the pauses, when the ball was out of play, Dan dropped on his

knee.



"Hold on there a minute," he cried; "I want to fix this skate of mine."



Very deliberately he removed his strap, readjusted his skate, and began

slowly to set the strap in place again.



"They want a rest, I guess. Better take off the time, umpire," sang out

Fusie, dancing as lively as a cricket round Jimmie Ben, who looked as if

he would like to devour him bodily.



"Shut up, Fusie!" said Hughie. "We've got all the time we need."



"You have, eh?" said Jimmie Ben, savagely.



"Yes," said Hughie, in sudden anger, for he had not forgotten Jimmie

Ben's cruel swipe. "We don't need any more time than we've got, and we

don't need to play any dirty tricks, either. We're going to beat you.

We've got you beaten now."



"Blank your impudent face! Wait you! I'll show you!" said Jimmie Ben.



"You can't scare me, Jimmie Ben," said Hughie, white with rage. "You

tried your best and you couldn't do it."



"Play the game, Hughie," said the master, in a low tone, skating round

him, while Hec Ross said, good-naturedly, "Shut up Jimmie Ben. You'll

need all your wind for your heels," at which all but Jimmie Ben laughed.



For a moment Dan drew his men together.



"Our only chance," he said, "is in a rush. Now, I want every man to make

for that goal. Never mind the ball. I'll get the ball there. And then

you, Jimmie Ben, and a couple of you centers, make right back here on

guard."



"They're going to rush," said Hughie to his team. "Don't all go back.

Centers fall back with me. You forwards keep up."



At the drop Dan secured the ball, and in a moment the Front rush came.

With a simultaneous yell the whole ten men came roaring down the ice,

waving their clubs and flinging aside their lightweight opponents. It

was a dangerous moment, but with a cry of "All steady, boys!" Hughie

threw himself right into Dan's way. But just for such a chance Jimmie

Ben was watching, and rushing upon Hughie, caught him fairly with his

shoulder and hurled him to the ice, while the attacking line swept over

him.



For a single moment Hughie lay dazed, but before any one could offer

help he rose slowly, and after a few deep breaths, set off for the

scrimmage.



There was a wild five minutes. Eighteen or twenty men were massed in

front of the Twentieth goal, striking, shoving, yelling, the solid

weight of the Front defense forcing the ball ever nearer the goal. In

the center of the mass were Craven, Johnnie Big Duncan, and Don fighting

every inch.



For a few moments Hughie hovered behind his goal, his heart full of

black rage, waiting his chance. At length he saw an opening. Jimmie Ben,

slashing heavily, regardless of injury to himself or any others, had

edged the ball toward the Twentieth left. Taking a short run, Hughie,

reckless of consequences, launched himself head first into Jimmie Ben's

stomach, swiping viciously at the same time at the ball. For a moment

Jimmie Ben was flung back, and but for Johnnie Big Duncan would have

fallen, but before he could regain his feet, the ball was set free of

the scrimmage and away. Fusie, rushing in, had snapped it up and had

gone scuttling down the ice, followed by Hughie and the master.



Before Fusie had got much past center, Dan, who had been playing in the

rear of the scrimmage, overtook him, and with a fierce body check upset

the little Frenchman and secured the ball. Wheeling, he saw both Hughie

and Craven bearing down swiftly upon him.



"Rush for the goal!" he shouted to Jimmie Ben, who was following Hughie

hard. Jimmie Ben hesitated.



"Back to your defense!" yelled Dan, cutting across and trying to escape

between Hughie and Craven.



It was in vain. Both of the Twentieth men fell upon him, and the master,

snatching the ball, sped like lightning down the ice.



The crowd went wild.



"Get back! Get back there!" screamed Hughie to the mob crowding in upon

the ice. "Give us room! Give us a show!"



At this moment Craven, cornered by Hec Ross and two of the Red Shirts,

with Dan hard upon his heels, passed clear across the ice to Hughie.

With a swift turn Hughie caught the ball, dodged Jimmie Ben's fierce

spring at him, and shot. But even as he shot, Jimmie Ben, recovering his

balance, reached him and struck a hard, swinging blow upon his ankle.

There was a sharp crack, and Hughie fell to the ice. The ball went wide.



"Time, there, umpire!" cried the master, falling on his knees beside

Hughie. "Are you hurt, Hughie?" he asked, eagerly. "What is it, my boy?"



"Oh, master, it's broken, but don't stop. Don't let them stop. We must

win this game. We've only a few minutes. Take me back to goal and send

Thomas out."



The eager, hurried whisper, the intense appeal in the white face and

dark eyes, made the master hesitate in his emphatic refusal.



"You can't--"



"Oh, don't stop! Don't stop it for me," cried Hughie, gripping the

master's arm. "Help me up and take me back."



The master swore a fierce oath.



"We'll do it, my boy. You're a trump. Here, Don," he called aloud,

"we'll let Hughie keep goal for a little," and they ran Hughie back to

the goal on one skate.



"You go out, Thomas," gasped Hughie. "Don't talk. We've only five

minutes."



"They have broken his leg," said the master, with a sob in his voice.



"Nothing wrong, I hope," said Dan, skating up.



"No; play the game," said the master, fiercely. His black eyes were

burning with a deep, red glow.



"Is it hurting much?" asked Thomas, lingering about Hughie.



"Oh, you just bet! But don't wait. Go on! Go on down! You've got to get

this game!"



Thomas glanced at the foot hanging limp, and then at the white but

resolute face. Then saying with slow, savage emphasis, "The brute beast!

As sure as death I'll do for him," he skated off to join the forward

line.



It was the Front knock-off from goal. There was no plan of attack, but

the Twentieth team, looking upon the faces of the master and Thomas,

needed no words of command.



The final round was shot, short, sharp, fierce. A long drive from

Farquhar Bheg sent the ball far up into the Twentieth territory. It was

a bad play, for it gave Craven and Thomas their chance.



"Follow me close, Thomas," cried the master, meeting the ball and

setting off like a whirlwind.



Past the little Reds, through the centers, and into the defense line

he flashed, followed hard by Thomas. In vain Hec Ross tried to check,

Craven was past him like the wind. There remained only Dan and Jimmie

Ben. A few swift strides, and the master was almost within reach of

Dan's club. With a touch of the ball to Thomas he charged into his

waiting foe, flung him aside as he might a child, and swept on.



"Take the man, Thomas," he cried, and Thomas, gathering himself up in

two short, quick strikes, dashed hard upon Jimmie Ben, and hurled him

crashing to the ice.



"Take that, you brute, you!" he said, and followed after Craven.



Only Farquhar Bheg was left.



"Take no chances," cried Craven again. "Come on!" and both of them

sweeping in upon the goal-keeper, lifted him clear through the goal and

carried the ball with them.



"Time!" called the umpire. The great game was won.



Then, before the crowd had realized what had happened, and before they

could pour in upon the ice, Craven skated back toward Jimmie Ben.



"The game is over," he said, in a low, fierce tone. "You cowardly

blackguard, you weren't afraid to hit a boy, now stand up to a man, if

you dare."



Jimmie Ben was no coward. Dropping his club he came eagerly forward, but

no sooner had he got well ready than Craven struck him fair in the face,

and before he could fall, caught him with a straight, swift blow on the

chin, and lifting him clear off his skates, landed him back on his head

and shoulders on the ice, where he lay with his toes quivering.



"Serve him right," said Hec Ross.



There was no more of it. The Twentieth crowds went wild with joy and

rage, for their great game was won, and the news of what had befallen

their captain had got round.



"He took his city, though, Mrs. Murray," said the master, after the

great supper in the manse that evening, as Hughie lay upon the sofa,

pale, suffering, but happy. "And not only one, but a whole continent of

them, and," he added, "the game as well."



With sudden tears and a little break in her voice, the mother said,

looking at her boy, "It was worth while taking the city, but I fear the

game cost too much."



"Oh, pshaw, mother," said Hughie, "it's only one bone, and I tell you

that final round was worth a leg."





The Fight On The Ledge The First Blow In The Fight facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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