Harper's Round Table, August 4, 1896
Copyright, 1896, by Harper & Brothers. All Rights Reserved.
|published weekly.||NEW YORK, TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 1896.||five cents a copy.|
|vol. xvii.—no. 875.||two dollars a year.|
HOW BRADDY'S BROTHER BROUGHT THE NEWS HOME.
BY JULIANA CONOVER.
"Slide! Slide! You'll make it! Hooray! Hooray! Tiger! Siss-boom-ah!"
"Wake up, Bingham, wake up!"
The boy opened his eyes with a start. "Mother! Why, what's the matter?"
"I've been shaking you for fully two minutes, dear. I want you to getup."
"Oh, what made you wake me?" reproachfully. "I was in the middle of adream that I was playing second base in Tom's place, and was just makingthe winning run for Princeton."
"Wouldn't you rather see the winning run made than dream about it?"
Bingham sat up; he was wide-awake now.
Mrs. Bradfield smiled. "Yes," she said, "I am going to let you go afterall. Tom is so unhappy about it, so feverish and restless, that I amactually afraid of the consequences if he does not hear all about thegame, so I have promised him to let you ride to Princeton on yourbicycle; it is only twenty-five miles, and part of the way the road isgood. You will have to stay all night, but Tom says that you can sleepin his room, and that Frank Porter will look after you."
"Tiger-tiger-tiger! Siss-siss-siss-boom-boom-boom-ah-ah-ah!" shoutedBingo, and he pitched his pillow all across the room. "Trying a newcurve," he hastily explained.
In an incredibly short time he was dressed, had had his breakfast, andwas ready to start off. He went in to say good-by to his brother. PoorTom was down with an attack of rheumatic fever. He had come home tospend Sunday, after playing a brilliant game against the Orange AthleticClub, and had been taken ill.
"So unfortunate," his mother said, "just before examination."
"Such hard lack," said Bingo, "just before the Yale game."
Tom had not pitched since Freshman year, but he was fielding and battingin splendid form, and his loss would seriously cripple the nine.
But try as he might to get well, the pain and fever clung to himobstinately, and the day of the game found him, with his temperature at103į, declaring that if he couldn't play some one must see the game forhim. His father was away, his mother couldn't leave him, so there was noone but Bingham, who had sadly resigned himself to his fate, when, as wehave seen, his mother suddenly reversed her decision, and his world wasfilled with sunshine again.
"Go to my room in Witherspoon," said Tom—"you know it—and tell PorterI sent you. He'll take you to Ivy to lunch, and down to the game. Besure and telegraph, for I must hear, and they'll never get the news inthis little out-of-the-way place."
"Are you perfectly sure you know the road, dear, and that it will not betoo much for you?" asked Mrs. Bradfield, anxiously, as she watched heryoungest son examining his tire and fixing his brake. "I do wish thetrains made connections."
"I'd ride fifty miles through anything," said Bingham, his eyesglistening, "to see a Yale game. Good-by, mother. Don't worry. I'llsurely telegraph, and will be home early to-morrow morning."
"Good-by, dear. Cheer for Tom, and may the orange and black win theday."
It was a hilly, sandy road, one of the worst in New Jersey, washed outin many places, and with ruts like trenches, but Bingo scorched andcoasted as though it were an asphalt pavement or cinder race-track, andhe scarcely slowed up through the whole twenty-five miles, but came intoPrinceton, the perspiration rolling down his face and his shirt wringingwet. On the campus he met Tom's room-mate.
"Why, if it isn't Braddy's brother," exclaimed Porter, "and steaminglike a kettle! Glad to see you, boy. How is poor old Tom?"
"A little better. He sent me up so as to tell him about the game."
"I see. Official reporter for the Redwood Star," laughed Porter. "It'smighty hard lines that Tom is laid up. Woods is playing pretty well, buthe can't touch the ball—strikes out every time. But come up to theroom, little Brad. You'll spend the night, of course?"
Bingham followed Frank Porter up to the well-known room in WitherspoonHall, and there he washed off the stains of travel as well as he couldfor asking questions and examining the groups on the wall.
"That's the '95 football team, isn't it? and there's Tom's Freshmannine. I saw the game here with Harvard, which we won, and we had a fire,don't you remember? What's that—the Glee Club? Tom has the picture ofthe Mandolin Club. Do you think we're going to win to-day? Will Blakepitch?" etc.
Porter answered when Bingo gave him time, for "Braddy's brother" was agreat favorite with Tom's friends, and they prophesied a brilliantathletic future for him.
Before going to lunch Porter took him to see the ingenious invention ofone of the members of the faculty—of a cannon for shooting curvedballs. "It's going to be a great thing in baseball," Porter said. "Itwill save the pitcher's arm, and give the nine splendid battingpractice."
Lunch over, Bingham began to get impatient. Carriages and omnibuses werealready rolling down to the grounds, and streams of people wereploughing through the dust.
They stopped at the Athletic Club-house on their way, and all the nineshook hands with Bingo and asked after Tom; but his cup of joy was quitefull when Blake, the Captain, told him to come with them and sit on the'varsity bench.
Dave Hunter and the other Princeton boys looked enviously from thebleachers upon the honored guest, who sat squeezed in between JackMcMasters and Dr. Bovaird, his eyes glued to the diamond and his heartthumping against his ribs.
Princeton came to the bat first, and Williams led off with a cleansingle to left, and Shaw followed by another to centre.
It was a surprise that took every one's breath away, but they recoveredit in time to cheer.
Yale was too easy! They would pound her out of the box, even without theaid of Tom's two and three baggers!
But Jackson flied out to second. Blake, who pitched, but couldn't hit adrop, went out on strikes; and though Williams stole third and Field gothis first on balls, their innings closed with a beautiful spectacularcatch by Woodward in centre field.
Then Yale came to the bat, and her little handful of "rooters" made theair shiver with their wild barbaric cheer: "Brek-ek-ek-ex! Ko-ax, ko-ax.Brek-ek-ek-ex! Ko-ax, ko-ax. Oh-op, oh-op. Parabalou—Yale!"
In a moment there came a crack of the bat.
"Run it out! run it out!" cried the Yale coach.
Bingo held his breath. It was a hot grounder to second, and Tom wasn'tthere. Woods fumbled it, and the first error was scored for Princeton.
The next man got his base on balls, all due to his "beautiful eye," theYale Captain seemed to think. Then Blake rallied and struck Jenkins out;and though Watson brought Smith to third on a sacrifice, the littleshortstop fielded the next ball in fine style, and the runner was out.
But Yale proved to be anything but "easy," for though the crowd in whiteduck trousers on the bleachers cheered themselves hoarse as directedwith unremitting energy by their appointed leaders, not a single safehit, or even an unearned run, was squeezed out of the next four innings;while Yale went in, and by timely sacrifices and well-bunched hits ranher score up to five. Five to nothing, and little Brad would have totelegraph that to Tom.
The grand stand grew very quiet, though here and there were bunches ofblue ribbon waving amid the glowing mass of orange and black. The menhad stopped explaining the game to their sisters and friends. Let themask why the same ones who batted the ball had to run, and why theychanged sides so often. Their questions fell on the unresponsive air.
Princeton came to the bat for the sixth inning. As Blake walked in fromthe pitcher's box, tired and discouraged, his eyes fell upon "Braddy'sbrother" leaning forward, his elbows on his knees. The droop of thestrong young shoulders and the strained intense look gave him an addedpang. It seemed like wanton cruelty to so bitterly disappoint a boy, andhe knew that little Brad was feeling and suffering for two. Bingo triedto smile as the Captain put his arm round him, but it was hard work. Hisnerves were strung up to such a pitch that he could easily have cried,but one does not often do that at fourteen.
"We'll beat them yet, little Brad," said Blake. "See if we don't."
"We'll have to do it in this inning, then," answered Bingo, "becauseit's going to rain like everything."
Blake looked up. The clouds were piling on top of one another black asnight in the west, a tremendous wind had sprung up, and the dust wasblowing a mile a minute. "Whew!" he whistled, "it looks like a cyclone;we will have to do it this time—sure." And he walked over to coach.
Williams was at the bat; two balls were called, then a strike; anotherball. "Good eye—steady now—steady"—then a burst of applause, for hiseye had proved true, and he took his base to the stimulating strains ofthe triple cheer.
"Lead off—lively—look out—now you're off!" yelled[Pg 967] Blake, and hewas off, hurling himself at second with a reckless disregard of life andlimb.
"Safe!" declared the umpire, and the sky-rocket cheer broke loose again.
Shaw gritted his teeth and held his bat in a vise. He too was watchingthe clouds, and knew that this might be their last chance. He had madeone hit. Why couldn't he make another? And he did—a short one to right.And when Jackson followed by a foxy little bunt, the field almost wentwild. Three men on bases and none out.
Blake went to the bat, and as he did so he turned and looked at Braddy'sbrother; and he said afterwards that if ever a man had been inspired bya glance, he had been that day—"and it wasn't a girl, either." Sucheager hope and earnest faith shone in little Brad's face that no onecould have helped making a home run, and that's what happened to Blake,and he only realized the miracle as he dived for the home-plate, whilethe long cheer, and the short cheer, and the locomotive cheer, and thedistant thunder all combined to bring to his consciousness thestupendous fact that he had made himself immortal.
It was surely Princeton's inning, for Field made his first two-bagger,and was brought in on a bad overthrow. Then, with two men out, Green gothis base on balls, stole second and third, and reached home on anothersingle by Williams, and the score stood 6 to 5 when Yale came to thebat.
Would the rain hold off for ten minutes more? It was doubtful. But Blakewas determined not to lose any time, and strike after strike was calledamid the wildest enthusiasm, and in one, two, three order the New Havenmen were retired, just as the storm, which had been gathering, soominously, burst.
There was a stampede from the bleachers, ladies crowding into the grandstand and men making for the cage. The small boys dropped from trees andfences, and the ripping thunder, blinding lightning, and pelting rainhad it all their own way for full fifteen minutes; and all that time"Little Brad" glowed like a miniature sun on the 'varsity bench, wherethe nine sat in cheerful resignation.
But the game wasn't over, for the sky cleared with the same violence ithad shown in clouding over, and though every one felt that somewherethere must have been a fearful ravaging storm, Princeton had fortunatelyonly gotten the edge of it. The umpire declared himself ready, andPrinceton went to the bat, only, like Yale, to go out in one, two, threeorder.
"The fatal seventh!" groaned the alumni, as they