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"I tell you what it is, gentlemen, once for all. I can not go in for baseball next spring, nor even for the few games we have still to play this fall."

Roy Henning was talking to a group of college boys of the upper classes in St. Cuthbert's yard. It was late September and still very warm. The little gathering of friends found the shade of a large elm tree in one corner of the yard very grateful. A hearty burst of laughter followed Roy's announcement. No one for an instant entertained the idea that Henning was in earnest and meant what he said. Was he not passionately fond of the game? Had he not, before vacation, been the very best player on the college diamond?

"Oh! of course not! of course not!" exclaimed Jack Beecham, Roy's truest friend and constant companion. "Of course not! You're no good anyway! You couldn't be center-rush on the eleven if you tried! You don't know a thing about baseball either! Oh! no! And another team wouldn't do a thing to us if you left the pitcher's box! Oh! no, not at all!"

"Look here, Jack," said Henning, "I'm in earnest. I am not going to engage in sports at all this year."

"Not for the money, I know that. It has always cost you a good penny. But let me assure you, you dear old goose, that you can't come any sort of game like that on us--not on me, at least. Let me tell you, Roy boy, that you are most decidedly and most strictly in it, and in it every time."

"With pleasure, when I find evidence that you are in possession of that valuable commodity."

"That's all right, old fellow. We know your modesty, and all that. We're also under the impression that you have recently developed a remarkable penchant--that's the word, isn't it, boys--for practical jokes. But this time be so condescending as to remember that joke-day--April 1, you know--is a long way off. See?"

"Yes, I see," replied Henning, "but you fellows will not, nor will you listen to reason. So it is useless for me to talk."

"That's precisely what we wish to do," said Jack--laughing Jack Beecham--who struck an attitude and continued, "but you persist in talking anything but reason. What an incontestably preposterous thing for you to say that you are not going to play ball. Is a fish going to swim?"

"Nonsense or not, boys, I have good reason for saying what I have said. It's a fact. I am not going to play."

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