Forge of Foxenby
[Transcriber's note: the Frontispiece was missing from the source book]
FORGE OF FOXENBY
R. A. H. GOODYEAR
Illustrated by T. M. R. Whitwell
BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED
LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY
I. The County Schools' Final
II. The Captain and "The Octopus"
III. A Rival to "The Foxonian"
IV. What followed the First Number
V. Rhymes and Riddles
VI. The Plea of Peter Mawdster
VII. The Squirms in the Forest
VIII. The Burglary
IX. Luke Harwood in the Picture
X. The Merry Men give an Entertainment
XI. Settling the Score
XII. Dick has Friendship thrust upon him
XIII. The Printer is Polite no Longer
XIV. The Fight on the Bowling-green
XV. The Cloud with the Silver Lining
XVI. In which Peter has an Unhappy Day
XVII. The Friend in Need
XVIII. Fluffy Jim provides a Sensation
XIX. Roger returns to Brighter Skies
XX. The Tourist who talked Poetry
XXI. The Merry Men win Glory
XXII. Home Truths for Luke Harwood
XXIII. A Merry Man's Magazine
XXVI. The Three-cornered Tournament
XXV. The Merry Men score Goals
XXVI. Two from Eleven leaves Nine
XXVII. A Gift-goal for St. Cuthbert's
XXVIII. The Winning of the Cup
Forge's Triumph . . . Frontispiece [missing from source book]
FORGE OF FOXENBY
The County Schools' Final
"Straight from the kick-off—a goal!"
"Oh, played, St. Cuthbert's! One up! Hurrah!"
"Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!" came the delightedchorus of congratulations from Cuthbertians in all partsof the field.
But, until the ball is seen resting in the back of thenet, it is as unwise to count a goal as it is to reckonchickens still in the shell. There was a youth behindthe Foxenby posts with a muddy mark on the sideof his face, and he at least knew no goal had beenscored.
The first shot of the match had flashed by theupright—on the wrong side of it for St. Cuthbert's, onthe right side of it for Foxenby, whose sigh of heart-feltrelief was audible when their rivals' untimely cheershad died down.
"A narrow squeak, old man!" said Dick Forge, thecaptain of the Foxenby team, to Broome, theinside-left, selected from Holbeck's House.
"Rather!" answered Broome. "It quite turnedmy heart over. Their centre's got his shooting-bootson this afternoon."
"Helped by the wind, of course. It's buzzingacross from goal to goal. Feel the pressure of it!Like running up against a house-side."
"We'll never get going against it, Captain. They'llbe a dozen goals up at half-time."
"Fudge!" cried the captain. "They've got Lebberstonand Lyon—grand old Lyon—to beat first, andEnnis after that. Throw your chest out, Broome, oldman, and smile!"
Dick's laughing face was a tonic to the faint-heartedones always. However dark the picture seemed to be,he had the happy knack of turning it to the light so thathis chums could see something cheery in it.
To-day they had much need of his enthusiasm, too.By calling "heads" as the referee span a coin in theair, when it would have been much nicer had he said"tails ", he had passed the luck of the toss to the rivalcaptain, who thankfully grabbed the chance of placinga spanking sea-breeze at the back of his team.
Hard lines indeed, you Foxenby fellows, to lose thetoss in a wind like this, and on such a very importantday. For you have worked your way through to thefinal tie of the County Schools' Cup against teams ofstronger build, only to meet, in the last match, elevensturdy youths who outweigh you almost man for man.
Forge and Lyon alone can be said to be up to theaverage bulk of your opponents. Ennis, your trustygoalkeeper, is certainly tall, but see how thin he looks!Almost like a third goalpost, you might say. Yourforwards are fleet-footed to a man, and your halves arelike terriers, ever worrying the foe.
But you can't get away from the fact that weightplays a big part in footer, and when a mass of boneand brawn has half a gale behind it to help itwhenever it charges you, why, phew! you need all thepluck you can muster to pick yourselves up and startin afresh!
"St. Cuthbert's are a dandy side this season,"remarked a young Cuthbertian behind the Foxenby goal."Scored twenty-three times in the Cup-ties up todate, and never once had a goal notched against them."
"Ah, well, they'll blot their copy-books thisafternoon, if never before," retorted Robin Arkness, aFoxenby Junior, who had gathered round him a littlecluster of select pals, and was in a mood to blow hisown side's trumpet.
"Who's going to score against them, anyhow?"asked the perky Cuthbertian youngster.
"Forge will, Broome will, perhaps even old Lyonwill, from full-back, given half a chance," declared theoptimistic Robin.
"Pooh! They can't even cross the half-way line,"snorted the champion of St. Cuthbert's,contemptuously. "See how we're peppering your goalie all thetime. Play up, Saints! Bang 'em in, boys! Oo—ooo,a goal—no, hang it, only a corner! Allow for thewind, Monty—allow for the wind!"
"You mean 'allow for the gas', don't you, kid?"asked Robin. "You're a tip-topper at scoring goalswith your tongue."
Nevertheless the cocksure young Cuthbertian hadevery reason for his confidence. Already there weremany ominous smudges of mud on the newly-whitewashedgoalposts and crossbar, and a series of finely-placedcorner-kicks had only been hustled away bywhat seemed to be desperate scrimmages of the Rugbyorder, with the luck on Foxenby's side.
The impartial crowd of Walsbridge townspeople,on whose ground the final tie was being played, hadread wonderful accounts of the Cuthbertians' rock-likedefence—it delighted them to see that these heftyyouths knew also the straight route to an opponent'sgoal. Therefore, they began by wishing Ennis, thegoalkeeper of the "Foxes", good luck, and plenty ofhard work!
They flocked behind his goal, cheering him againand again as he flung himself backwards and forwardsto fist away corking shots, some of which he probablyknew very little about, though it just happened that hislong body was always in the way. The better thegoal-keeper, the more good fortune he enjoys as a rule.Forwards seem somehow magnetized into shootingwhere he is.
"How about that hatful of goals your team weregoing to score?" Robin Arkness wanted to know, aftertwenty minutes of this sort of thing. "Ratheroverlooked the fact that our side had a goalkeeper, didn'tyou, Cuthbert kid?"
"He kept that last one out by a sheer fluke,"grumbled the young Cuthbertian. "See, there he goesagain, bobbing the ball away with his eyes shut."
"How unkind of him!" said Robin, in mock indignation."Ennis, you're a cad, you know, not lettingthe nice little Saints add to their twenty-three goals.Stand aside, you naughty man, while they drive holesthrough the net!"
But older heads than Robin's were being shaken overthe sore straits in which Foxenby found themselves soearly in the game. Luke Harwood, the prefect ofHolbeck's House, and editor of the school magazine,seemed so concerned about it that he voiced his fearsto Roger Cayton, prefect of Rooke's House, whose closepersonal friendship with the captain of the team madehim doubly anxious about the way things were going.
"Ennis is marvellous," said Luke, "but one-manshows don't win football matches. Our halves andforwards can't even raise a gallop."
"That's no surprise, seeing that you and I have tohold our caps on in the breeze."
"Granted, Cayton. Still, I wouldn't leave all thedonkey-work to Ennis and Lyon if I were captain.I'd fall back and help."
"If you were captain, yes. But Forge has differentideas. Let's give him credit for knowing more aboutfootball than a spectator can."
There was a sting in this comment, which LukeHarwood did not fail to observe. As editor of theFoxonian he was unapproachably the school's bestpupil, and so obviously the Head's favourite boy thathe was known throughout both houses as "Old Wykeham'sPet Fox". But as a footballer he was "onlymiddling", and to-day the selection committee hadquietly passed him over. The pill was a bitter one,and Roger's comment made it still harder to swallow,but all he did was to whistle softly and smile.
"I'd like to know the name of the artist who deckedFluffy Jim, the village idiot, in those stripes of colouredpaper," continued Roger Cayton. "Club colours, ofcourse, blue and white stripes. Still, footballenthusiasm may be carried too far, and such tomfoolerymakes me sick. What goats the St. Cuthbert's fellowswill think us!"
"Pray don't take our little joke too seriously,Cayton," said Luke, with a pleasant laugh. "Where'sthe big league club that doesn't cart its mascot aroundwith it on cup days? Fluffy Jim may bring us luckand some second-half goals."
"Oh, yes, to be sure," snapped Roger. "Particularlyas St. Cuthbert's have come through to the finalwith a clean goal-sheet. They're the sort of chapswho would be scared out of their form by a guy incoloured paper, no doubt."
Harwood gave a resigned shrug of his shoulders.
"Funny, isn't it, how the best-laid schemes 'gangaft agley'?" he commented. "Some of us thoughtthat the sight of a mascot in gala garb would serve tokeep the footballing Foxes in good-humour throughoutthe game."
"It's cheap and nasty," said Roger Cayton, notwithout pluck, considering that Luke Harwood couldhave made a broken reed of him in physical combat."Weakness of intellect is a sorry enough thing initself. A coloured advertisement of it is worse."
Composed in manner always, seldom without anengaging smile, Harwood did not let this half-challengepass unnoticed. There was a gleam in his eyes whicheven short-sighted Roger saw.
Between these two quick-witted boys existed anunspoken feud, founded on Harwood's refusal to printin the Foxonian the contributions which Rogerpersisted in sending. Doubtless Harwood felt that therewas scarcely room in the school magazine for two suchliterary stars as he and Roger to shine at the same time.
"Well," said Harwood, calmly, "sorry if my croniesand I have given offence. Our consolation must bethat Fluffy Jim is having the happiest day of his life.And you fellows may yet come to hail him as aluck-bringer."
"Superstitious piffle, Harwood," Roger grunted,He and Luke then drifted casually, apart. Neitherdesired to spoil a good football match by bearing eachother company any longer. Oil and vinegar, thesetwo!
"I have a rotten grain of suspicion in my nature,doubtless," thought Roger. "Still, Forge is captainof the football team and captain of the school—LukeHarwood would like to be both, and is neither. Heknows Dick is strung on wires, and how small a thingupsets him on big occasions. This fool idea, then, ofdressing the village idiot like a circus clown—is theremethod in his madness? Is there a secret hope thatit will put Dick off his game?"
Left to himself, the half-witted youth known as"Fluffy Jim" was as quiet as an old sheep. Now,inspired by someone behind the goal, he used hisbooming voice to shout out repeatedly, in the dialectof the district:
"Coom back an' keep 'em oot—coom back, coomback, afoŲr they scoŲar!"
Others—and some who should have known better—tookup the cry; but Fluffy Jim's voice rose above therest, just as his paper costume was the mostconspicuous thing on the field.
"Mascot, indeed!" thought Dick Forge bitterly."His ridiculous rig-out gets on my nerves, and now hisvoice is doing ditto. Some kind friend in Holbeck'sHouse is pulling the strings, I suspect. Bother it,how cold and irritable this standing about makes mefeel!"
As if to rub it in, his colleagues in the