The Trustees’ Meeting

On the following morning Don sought out the colonel and asked for a few
minutes to talk over an important matter. At the colonel’s invitation he
sat down and came at once to the point.

“Colonel Morrell,” he began. “You only tolerate Mr. Gates’ attitude
because he is the senior trustee and actually controls the school by his
money, isn’t that so?”

The colonel was astonished but he nodded frankly. “Yes, that is so. Of
course, Mr. Gates has been a trustee for a good many years and there is
something else to consider besides his money, but I’ll admit that plays
a big part. It costs something to run the school and his generosity has
made a lot of things possible that we would otherwise have done
without.”

“Of course,” responded Don. “Is his obstinate attitude confined simply
to this matter of football, or does he make things unpleasant for you in
other ways, Colonel Morrell?”

“In some other things he is very disagreeable, too,” the headmaster
said. “But in the matter of the football game he is unusually so. What
makes you ask?”

“If you had someone else to take his place, who would advance as much
money as he does, and with not nearly as much trouble, would you
consider running directly against Mr. Gates?” Don went on, ignoring the
colonel’s question.

The colonel thought for a moment. “Yes, I think I would,” he admitted,
slowly. “As I told you before, Mr. Gates has made things pretty
disagreeable for me on several occasions. He has a sort of stranglehold
on the school simply because of his wealth and that makes it hard for
the rest of the trustees and myself. In other words, if he wants a thing
done his way he has only to say so and tap his pocketbook and we all
have to do as he wants us to.”

“That’s just about what I thought,” nodded Don. “Now, I’ll tell you what
I have in mind, Colonel Morrell. When I was home last summer I talked to
my father quite a bit about the school and he shares my enthusiasm for
it. When I heard of the trouble you had with Mr. Gates about the
football situation I wrote to him and asked him if Mr. Gates ever got
disgusted and left the trustee body would he consider becoming a trustee
in Gates’ place, providing he was elected to the body. He wrote back and
said that he would.”

The colonel digested the news slowly. “That is very nice of your father
and I certainly appreciate it,” he said at last. “But of course I could
not simply ask the senior Gates to resign so that I could put another
man in his place.”

“I wouldn’t want you to do that,” answered Don, quietly. “But this is
what I mean. You know that the entire student body wants to play
Dimsdale and that one man alone is holding us back. What I propose is
this. Suppose a committee consisting of two representatives from each
class waits on Mr. Gates and tells him plainly that the school is
determined to play our rival? If he is unruly and threatens to resign
we’ll just allow him to resign and my father will take his place.”

“I see now what you are getting at,” cried the colonel. “We won’t be
driving him out, but he will be driving himself out! It will give us an
opportunity to see if he is simply bluffing and at the same time you
boys will get your game. Personally, nothing would suit me better than
to see that game played. I think it is high time that the unfriendliness
of years standing is done away with and that athletic and other
relations be restored between this school and Dimsdale.”

“Then you approve of my plan?” asked Don.

“I certainly do. The issue will then be squarely up to Mr. Gates and it
will be up to him to decide what course to pursue. I won’t have anything
to say about it, nor will the other trustees, and if he wishes to resign
your father will take his place. Nothing could be more clear-cut than
that.”

“When will there be another meeting of the trustees?” inquired Don.

“In three days’ time. We did not get all business finished at the last
meeting, due mostly to the football discussion, and we must meet again
then.”

It was agreed that Don should inform the captains and lieutenants of
each class to appear before the trustees and explain their stand. After
he had left the colonel’s office he went to class and later hunted up
the cadets whose presence would be required. All of them were instructed
to keep things quiet until after the meeting of the trustees, and all
agreed to do so.

On the night of the meeting the selected cadets were ready and met
outside the colonel’s office. Hudson and Berry represented the first
class, Douglas and Don the third. The trustees had arrived and were
inside, settling themselves and talking.

The colonel opened the door and allowed them to march in, where they
faced the slightly astonished trustees. They soon made out Melvin Gates,
a tall, thin man with burning bright eyes and a lofty air about him.
Colonel Morrell came briefly to the point.

“These cadets, gentlemen, represent the student body, and are here to
speak for themselves. As you remember, at the last meeting it was
decided that the school was not to play Dimsdale, now or ever, according
to Mr. Gates. I passed that message on to the corps, but it seems that
they refuse, for once, to accept the decision.”

Melvin Gates straightened up in his chair and shot a bitter look toward
the stalwart cadets. “Oh, they refuse to accept it, do they?” he said,
in a rasping voice.

The colonel looked at Hudson, who spoke up in reply. “Yes, Mr. Gates,
the student body refuses to accept the decision. We are taught good
sportsmanship here at Woodcrest and the doctrine that men are to be met
and treated like men. We feel that it is unfair to brand the Dimsdale
school of today with the stigma of a set of rowdies of the past, so we
are here to respectfully protest the ban against playing them.”

“I don’t care what you are here to protest!” shouted Gates, rising in
excitement. “I have refused to give my sanction to this game, or to the
proposition of renewing any kind of relations with Dimsdale school, and
I will not retract one word of it.”

“It is most unfortunate that you feel that way, sir,” replied the senior
Cadet Captain. “For we are going to play them as soon as possible!”

There was a gasp from the assembled trustees and Gates’ face reddened.
He snapped around on the silent headmaster.

“Morrell, are you going to allow this to go on?” he demanded.

“I do not see that I can do anything about it,” said the colonel. “It is
the fervent wish of the entire corps that we play Dimsdale, and I am
heartily in favor of it myself.”

“You know what this will mean to the school!” cried the angry Gates. “I
will resign and withdraw every cent of my money.”

“I should be sorry to see you do that, Mr. Gates,” returned the colonel.
“But I am not going to thwart my boys any longer.”

“All right, sir, all right,” ground out the trustee. “Then I resign, at
once! How will you manage to get along without my money, Morrell? Answer
me that!”

“I beg your pardon, sir,” put in Don. “But my father has agreed to
become a trustee in your place if you should resign.”

Gates was taken aback. A murmur arose from the other trustees and more
than one satisfied look was exchanged. The chief trustee shook with
rage.

“Oh, very well, gentlemen, very well! If that is the way you feel about
it, I see that there is nothing left for me to do but to resign. This is
a pretty cheap game to play, Morrell.”

“It isn’t a game at all!” retorted the colonel, with spirit. “How long
do you suppose these young men were going to submit to the rule of one
man on a question like this? Don’t you see that for years you have made
these young men the laughing stock of the neighboring preparatory
schools, and that we have been questioned on all sides as to our
sportsmanship? It was only a matter of time, Mr. Gates, and I was simply
lucky enough to have Mercer’s father offer to take your place if you
resigned.”

“Had it all planned out, eh?” snarled Gates. “Mercer’s father prepared
to step in as soon as I stepped out!”

“Yes, but you can’t blame anyone if you want to step out,” returned the
colonel. “If you will resign, someone must take your place. We will
receive your resignation at any time, Mr. Gates.”

“You’ll get it soon,” the trustee promised. “Let me tell you, nothing
good will come of all this. The idea of you young cadets wanting to play
Dimsdale this year! Why, everybody knows that they will run away with
you!”

The cadets flushed and Berry replied. “We will try hard to make them run
after us, and not away with us, sir.”

“They’ll make a laughing stock of you!” shouted the irate trustee.

Colonel Morrell turned to his cadets. “You may go, boys,” he said.
“Spread the news that Woodcrest will play Dimsdale!”

The cadets saluted and left the room and in a short time the news was
flying all over the school. The cadets went wild and the coach was
enthusiastic. On the next day a formal challenge was sent to the rival
school, and in another day the reply was received.

“We play ’em on November 24th,” said the coach, briefly. “I hear that
they plan to wipe up the ground with us!”

“That is what you hear!” smiled Hudson, grimly. “Wait until you see the
game!”