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Text - "Change Signals" Ralph Henry Barbour


A week passed very quickly and left Kendall pretty well shaken down into his place at Yardley. During that week there were five days of practice on the gridiron and he reported promptly and regularly. I wish I could say that he showed promise of becoming a good player, but I can't. As a matter of fact, he exhibited about as little aptitude for the game as any member of Squad D, and that isn't flattering since Squad D was made up of what in school slang were known as "dubs." It wasn't that Kendall was not willing enough; he'd have worked his feet off to learn to play football well; but he was undeniably awkward in movement and astonishingly slow at getting started. He performed his tasks with a kind of ferocious earnestness that ought to have shown better results. On Saturday of that week there was no practice, for the weather was unusually warm for the last of September and many of the candidates were showing the effect of the work. Kendall was left with a whole afternoon on his hands with which he didn't know what to do. After his English lesson at two he strolled back to his room half hoping that Harold would be there. He didn't like that roommate of his very well, but to-day even Harold would have been better than no one. But the room was empty when he reached it. He tossed his books onto the table, thrust his hands into his pockets and walked to the window. It was too fine an afternoon to stay indoors, he decided, and so he went out again. In the hallway he glanced undecidedly toward the door of Number 28, but his courage failed him. He had met Gerald Pennimore three or four times since the day they had walked back from the gymnasium together, but only for a moment on each occasion. Once they had passed on the stairs and perhaps thrice they had nodded and spoken in Oxford. But Kendall had not taken advantage of the other's invitation to call. Since he had learned that Gerald was the son of John T. Pennimore, whose fame had reached even to Roanoke, Kendall had doubted the sincerity of that invitation. It didn't seem reasonable that a boy of Gerald Pennimore's position should really want to make a friend of him. To-day, though, he would have given a good deal for Gerald's companionship. But the door at the end of the hall was closed and it was more than likely that the room was empty. Kendall descended the stairs and, with no objective point in mind, mooned along the path toward the field. The tennis courts were filled and he stood for some time and looked on. On the baseball diamonds two games seemed to be in progress and the shouts and laughter of the players reached him at the courts. But when he took up his journey again his steps led him toward the boathouse where a number of figures were visible about the float. Up and down the river in the warm afternoon sunlight many gayly hued canoes were gliding. At the boathouse Kendall loitered for some minutes, watching several craft start away and wishing that some of the merry crews would invite him along as a passenger, since he knew no more about paddling or rowing than the average boy whose life has been spent on a farm where the largest body of water within five miles is a six-foot brook. But none of the mariners asked him to accompany them on their voyages and after awhile Kendall left the float and wandered downstream along the bank of the river. On the other side was Meeker's Marsh, and at intervals enticing little inlets emptied into the larger stream. Kendall wished he were over there that he might explore some of them. It was quite warm, in spite of the breeze that blew across the marsh, and Kendall pushed his straw hat away from his forehead, dug his hands into his pockets and loitered slowly along, whistling a tune. He was a little bit lonely, if the truth is to be told, a little bit inclined for the first time to be homesick. He wondered if he would ever know fellows and enter into the good times about him. Presently a small island came into view, and then, a little further downstream, a railway bridge. He determined to cross that and return along the opposite bank to the marsh. But when the railway bridge was reached there was another just beyond, a bridge for wagons and pedestrians, and Kendall chose that instead. Once across it a new idea came to him. He would keep on by the dusty road and visit Greenburg. There would be stores with things in the windows, and probably a place where he could buy a glass of soda water or root beer; for he was decidedly thirsty after his walk in the sun. The thought quite cheered him and the whistled tune became louder. Five minutes on the dusty road brought him to the edge of the town proper and windows with fascinating goods began. Those windows had a deal of attraction for the country-bred boy and more than once his hand sought his trousers pocket enquiringly as some object more than usually alluring tempted him. He had been quite lavishly supplied with spending money by his father when he had left home, and then, afterwards, his mother had taken him aside and thrust a whole five dollar bill into his hand. Of course he didn't have all that wealth with him; he had heard often enough of the danger of carrying money about in the cities; but there was a whole half dollar in his pocket, to say nothing of some nickels and coppers. But Kendall had never learned extravagance, and a thing had to be pretty tempting to make him part with any of his hoard. And so he reached the very middle of Greenburg, where the big dry-goods store is, and the two banks, and the Palace of Sweets, and Wallace's drug store, without having yielded. But when he heard the siz-z-z of the soda fountain in Wallace's he knew that the moment had come. Greenburg is quite a busy, citified place on a fine Saturday afternoon, and the drug store was well filled with customers when Kendall went in.

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