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open an account, we might as well do it now, don't you think?” Polly retired behind a counter and produced a long and narrow book, from which dangled a lead-pencil at the end of a string. She put the tip of the pencil between her lips and looked across. “You ’d better tell me your full names, I think.” “Edward Anderson Turner and—” “I meant just your first names.” “Oh! Edward and Laurence. You can charge us each with two bottles and one cake.” “I like that!” scoffed Laurie. you were treating to cakes?” “Huh! Don't you want to help Miss Comfort? I should think you'd like to-to do a charitable act once in awhile.” “Don’t see what difference it makes to her,” grumbled Laurie, “whether you pay for both or I pay for one. She gets her money just the same.” Ned brushed a crumb from his jacket. “You don’t get the idea,” he replied gently. “Of course, I might pay for both, but you would n’t feel right about it, Laurie.” “Would n't I? Where do you get that stuff? You try it and see.” Laurie spoke grimly, but not hopefully. Across the counter, Polly was giggling over the accountbook. “You’re the funniest boys I ever did see,” she explained, in answer to their inquiring looks. “You—you say such funny things!” Before she could elucidate, footsteps sounded in the room behind the store and a tiny white-haired woman appeared. In spite of her hair, she could n’t have been very old, for her face was plump and unwrinkled and her cheeks quite rosy. Seeing the customers, she bowed prettily and said “Good afternoon” in a very sweet voice. “Good afternoon,” returned the twins. “Mama, these are the Turner boys,” said Polly. “One of them is Ned and the other is Laurie, but I don't know which, because they look just exactly alike. They-they're twins!” “I want to know!” said Mrs. Deane. “Is n’t that nice? I’m very pleased to meet you, young gentlemen. I hope Polly has served you with what you wanted. My stock is kind of low just now. You see, we don’t have many customers in summer, and it 's very hard to get things, nowadays, even if you do pay three times what they 're worth. Polly, those ice-cream cones never did come, did they?”
“Gee, do you have ice-cream?” asked Ned, eagerly. “Never you mind!” said Laurie, grabbing his arm. “You come on out of here before you die on my hands. I 'm sorry to tell you, ma'am, that he does n’t know when to stop eating. I have to go around everywhere with him and look after him. If I did n't, he 'd be dead in no time.” “I want to know!” exclaimed the Widow Deane interestedly. “Why, it 's very fortunate for him he has you, is n’t it?” “Yes'm,” answered Laurie, but he spoke doubtfully, for the little white-haired lady seemed to hide a laugh behind her words. Ned was grinning. Laurie propelled him to the door. Then, without relinquishing his grasp, he doffed his cap. “Good afternoon,” he said. again.” “We know not how,” added Ned, “we know not when.” “Bless my soul!” murmured the Widow, as the screen door swung behind them. Back at school, the twins found a different scene from that they had left. The grounds were populous with boys, and open windows in the two dormitory buildings showed many others. The entrances were piled with trunks and more were arriving. A rattling taxi turned in at the gate, with much blowing of a frenzied, but bronchial, horn, and added five merry youths to the population. Ned and Laurie made their way to East Hall, conscious, as they approached, of many eyes focussed on them from wide-flung windows. Remarks reached them, too. “See who 's with us!” came from a secondfloor casement above the entrance; “the two Dromios!” “Tweedledum and Tweedledee!” “The Siamese Twins, I 'll bet a cooky!” “Hi, East Hall! Heads out!” The two were glad when they reached the shelter of the doorway. “Some one's going to get his head punched before long,” growled Ned, as they started upstairs. “What do we care? We don't own 'em. Let them have their fun, Neddie.” “I 'll let some of them have a wallop,” was the answer. “You 'd think we were the first pair of twins they 'd ever seen!” “Well, maybe we are. How do you know? Suppose those trunks have come?” They had, and for the next hour the twins were busy unpacking and getting settled. From beyond their door came much turmoil; the noise of arriving baggage, the banging of
doors, shouts, whistling, singing; but they were otherwise undisturbed until, just when Laurie had slammed down the lid of his empty trunk, there came a knock at their portal, followed, before either one could open his mouth in response, by the appearance in the doorway of a bulky apparition in a gorgeous crimson bath-robe. “Hello, fellows!” greeted the apparition. “Salutations and everything!”
CHAPTER IV KEWPIE STARTS SOMETHING
THE twins stared silently and suspiciously for an instant. Then Ned made cautious response. “Hello,” he said, with what must have seemed to the visitor a lamentable lack of cordiality. The latter pushed the door shut behind him by the kick of one stockinged foot and grinned jovially. “My name 's Proudtree,” he announced. “You can’t blame us,” coldly. Proudtree laughed amiably. “It is a rotten name, is n’t it? I live across the corridor, you know. Thought I 'd drop in and get acquainted, seeing you ’re new fellows; extend the hand of friendship and all that. You understand. By Jove, Pringle was right, too!” “That 's fine,” said Ned, with more than a trace of sarcasm. “What about?” “Why,” answered Proudtree, easing his generous bulk into a chair, “he said you fellows were twins.” “Not only were,” said Laurie, gently, “but are. Don’t mind, do you?” “Oh, come off your horse,” begged the visitor. “Don’t be so cocky. Who 's said anything? I just wanted to have a look. Never saw any twins before—grown-up twins, I mean. You understand.” “Thought you said you came to extend the hand of friendship,” retorted Ned, sarcastically. “Well, have a good look, partner. There 's no charge!” Proudtree grinned and accepted the invitation. Ned fumed silently under the inspection, but Laurie's sense of humor came to his aid. Proudtree appeared to be getting a lot of entertainment from his silent comparison of his hosts, and presently, when Ned's exasperation had just about reached the explosive point, he chuckled. “I’ve got it,” he said.
“Got what?” Laurie asked. “The-the clue! I know how to tell you apart! His eyes are different from yours; more blue. Yours are sort of gray. But, geewhillikins, it must be a heap of fun! Being twins, I mean. And fooling people. You understand.” “Well, if you 're quite through,” snapped Ned, “maybe you 'll call it a day. We 've got things to do.” “Meaning you’d like me to beat it?” asked the visitor, good-temperedly. “Just that!” “Oh, come, Ned,” Laurie protested soothingly, “he 's all right. I dare say we are sort of freakish, and—” “Sure,” agreed Proudtree, eagerly, “that 's what I meant. But say, I did n’t mean to hurt any one 's feelings. Geewhillikins, if I got waxy every time the fellows josh me about being fat—” Words failed him and he sighed deeply. Laurie laughed. “We might start a sideshow, the three of us, and make a bit of money. “Only ten cents! One dime! This way to the Siamese Twins and the Fat Boy! Walk up! Walk up!’” Proudtree smiled wanly. “I only weigh a hundred and seventy-eight and threequarters, too,” he said dolorously. “If I was a couple of inches taller it would n’t be so bad.” “I don’t think it 's bad as it is,” said Laurie, kindly. “You don’t look really fat; you just look sort of of -” “Amplitudinous,” supplied Ned, with evident satisfaction. Proudtree viewed him doubtfully. Then he smiled. “Well, I 've got to get rid of nearly fifteen pounds in the next two weeks,” he said, with a shake of his head, “and that 's going to take some doing.”
“What for?” Laurie asked.. “Why destroy your symmetry?” “Football. I 'm trying for center. I
nearly made it last year, but Wiggins beat me out. He 's gone now, though, and Mulford as good as said last spring that I could make it this fall if I could get down to a hundred and sixty-five.” “Who 's Mulford?” inquired Ned. “A fortune-teller?” Proudtree ignored the sarcasm. “Mulford's our coach. He 's all right, too. The trouble with me is I’m awfully fond of sweet things, and I-I 've been eating a lot of 'em lately. But I guess I can drop fourteen pounds if I cut out pies and candy and things Don't you think so?” Proudtree appealed
to Laurie almost pathetically. “Don’t let any one tell you anything
different,” replied Laurie, reassuringly. Ned,
these parts. Are you fellows going out?” “Not just yet,” replied Ned. “He means are we going to try for the
football team,” explained Laurie. “Yes,
we are, Proudtree; at least, one of us is.” “You?” “We haven't decided yet. You see, we 've never played your kind of football. Back home, at high school, we played American Rugby, and it 's quite different. But we decided that one of us had better go in for football and the other for baseball, if only to do our duty by the school.” Proud tree looked puzzled. “How are you going to decide?” he asked. “Oh, we'll toss up or draw lots or something, I suppose. Maybe, though, Ned had better play football, because I know more baseball than he does. Still, I'm not particular.” “That 's the limit!” chuckled the visitor. “Say, what are your names? I did n’t see any cards on the door.” “Turner. His is Laurie and mine 's Ned,” answered the latter. “Do we put our names on the door?” “It's the best way,” answered Proud tree. “Well, I 've got to be moving. I started to take a shower and got side-tracked. You
evidently recovered from his peevishness, asked: “What sort of football do they play here?” “Corking!” answered Proudtree. “I mean, Rugby or the other?” “Rugby!” exclaimed Proudtree, scornfully. “I guess not! We play regular football. Nobody plays Rugby around
SALUTATIONS AND EVERYTHING!’"
chaps come on over and see me and I 'll get some of the other fellows in. You want to meet the right sort, you know. What 's your class?” “Lower middle, I reckon,” said Ned. “That 's-what we expect.” “Too bad you can't make upper. That's mine. We’ve got a corking bunch of fellows this year. Well, see you later. Try for Mr. Barrett's table when you go down. That 's
the best. Maybe they 'll put you there if you bluff it out. You understand. So long, fellows.”
Proudtree withdrew with considerable dignity in view of his bulk, waving a benedictory hand ere the door closed behind him. Ned shook his head. “Sort of a fresh hombre,” he said. “Oh, he only meant to be friendly, I reckon,” said Laurie. “You understand.” Ned laughed. “I 'll bet they ’ve got a wonderful football team here if he plays on it! By the way, maybe we 'd better settle which of us is to be the football star. I suppose they begin to practise pretty soon. I'll be the goat, if you like; though you had better luck with that book you bought in Chicago. I could n’t make head or tail of it. I never saw so many rules for playing one game in my life!” “It was sort of difficult,” agreed Laurie. “I dare say, though, that you pick up the rules quick enough when you start to play. If you don't really mind, I think you’d better go in for football, and I 'll do the baseball stunt. I've played it more than you have. you know, even if I’m no wonder.” “All right!” Ned sighed. “We 'll get a bottle of arnica to-morrow. Nothing like being prepared. How about going to see Mr. What's-his-name before supper about courses?” “Might as well, and have it over with. I 'd like to know whether we 're going to make the lower middle.” “Don’t see what else we can make. They can't stick as in the junior class. Where 's my coat? For the love of lemons, Laurie, can't you find anything else to sit on? Gosh, look at the wrinkles!” “Those are n’t wrinkles; they 're just creases. Come on!” Half an hour later they closed the door of Mr. Cornish's study on the floor below, in a chastened mood. Each carried a little buff card whereon the instructor had tabulated an amazing number and variety of study periods. Back in Number 24, Ned cast himself into a chair, thrust his legs forth, and gazed disconsolately at the card. “I don’t see where a fellow finds time for anything but work here,” he complained. “Sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one hours a week! What do you know about that?” “Well, don't be so proud of it. I've got the same, have n't I? I wonder how many hours he thinks there are in a day?”
spent much of their time outdoors.
“I tell you what I think,” said Ned, after a moment's thought. “I think he got it into his head that we’re very ambitious and want to graduate next Spring!” “Maybe that's it,” agreed Laurie, gravely. “Shall we go back and tell him he's wrong?” “N-no, let 's not. He seemed a wellmeaning old codger, and I would n’t want to hurt his feelings—if he has any. Let 's go down and see what they 've got for supper.” Ned's blandishments failed with the waitress, and they were established at a table presided over by a tall and very thin gentleman, whose name, as they learned presently, was Mr. Brock. There were four tables in the room, each accommodating ten boys and a member of the faculty. Diagonally across the dining-hall, the twins described the ample Mr. Proudtree. Another table was in charge of a pleasant-faced lady who proved to be the school matron, Mrs. Wyman. Mr. Cornish, the hall-master, and Mr. Barrett, sat at the heads of the remaining boards. The room was very attractive, with a fine big stone fireplace at the farther end, and broad windows on two sides. The food proved plain, but it was served in generous quantities; and notwithstanding that the twins were a bit self-conscious, they managed a very satisfactory meal. Their fellow-students seemed to be a very decent lot. Their ages appeared to average about sixteen, and they had the clean, healthy look of boys who At the table at which the twins sat, four of the boys were evidently seniors, and one was as evidently a junior. The latter looked hardly more than thirteen, though he was in reality a year older than that, and had the features and expression of a cherub. The twins concluded that he was a new boy and felt a little sorry for him. He looked much too young and innocent to face the world alone. No one made any special effort to engage either Ned or Laurie in conversation, perhaps because the returning youths had so much to talk about among themselves. Mr. Brock ate his supper in silence, save when one of the older boys addressed him, and had a faraway and abstracted air. Laurie saw him sweeten his tea three times, and then frown in annoyance when he finally tasted it. The boy who had guessed their awful secret at luncheon sat at the next table, and more than once Ned caught him looking across with a half-bewildered, half-frightened expression that somehow managed to convey the intelligence that, in spite of temptation, he had kept the faith. Ned finally rewarded him with a significant wink, and the youth retired in confusion behind the milk pitcher. When the meal was over the twins went outside and, following the example set by others, made themselves comfortable on the grass beyond the walk. Near by, two older boys were conversing earnestly, and Ned and Laurie, having exhausted their own subjects of conversation, found themselves listening. “We 've got to do it,” the larger of the two was saying. “Dave 's going to call a meeting of the school for Friday evening, and Mr. Wells is going to talk to them. I'll talk too. Maybe you ’d better, Frank. You can tell them a funny story and get them feeling generous.” “Nothing doing, Joe. Leave me out of it. I never could talk from a platform. Anyway, it 's the fellows' duty to provide money. If they don’t, they won't have a team. They understand that—or they will when you tell them. There's another thing, though, Joe, that we 've got to have besides money, and that 's material. We 've got to get more fellows out.” “I know. I'll tell them that, too. I'm going to put a notice up in School Hall in the morning. Mr. Cummins says there are eight new fellows entering the middle classes this
year. Maybe some of them are football players.” “Bound to be. Did you see the twins?”
“No, but Billy Emerson was telling me about them. What do they look like?”
“Not bad. Rather light-weight, though, and sort of slow. They 're from Arizona or somewhere out that way, I think. You can't tell them apart, Joe.”
“Think they’re football stuff?”
“Search me. Might be. They 're light, though. Here comes Kewpie. Gosh, he 's fatter than ever! Hi, Kewpie! Come over
here!” It was Proudtree who answered the hail, descended the steps and approached. “Hello, Joe! Hello, Frank! Well, here we are again, eh? Great to be back, is n’t it? Have a good summer, Joe?” “Fine! You?” “Corking! I was on Dad's yacht all through August. Saw the races and everything. Bully eats, too. You understand.” “Yes,” Joe Stevenson replied, “and I understand why you're about twenty pounds overweight, Kewpie! You ought to be
kicked around the yard, you fat loafer. Thought you wanted to play center this fall.” “I 'm going to! Listen, Joe, I 'm only fourteen pounds over and I'll drop that in no time. Honest, I will. You see! Besides, it is n’t all fat, either. A lot of it 's good, hard muscle.” “Yes, it is! I can see you getting muscle lying around on your father's yacht! I'm off you, Kewpie. You have n’t acted square. You knew mighty well that you were supposed to keep yourself fit this summer, and now look at you! You 're a big fat lump!” “Aw, say, Joe! Listen, will you?” Proudtree's gaze wandered in search of inspiration and fell on the twins. His face lighted. “Hello, you chaps!” he said. Then he leaned over and spoke to Joe. “Say, have you met the Turner brothers, Joe? One of 'em 's a swell player. Played out in North Dakota or somewhere.” “Which one?” asked Joe, surreptitiously eyeing the twins. “Why, the I forget: they look so much alike, you know. I think it 's the one this way. Or maybe it 's the other. Anyway, I'll fetch them over, eh?” “All right, Kewpie.” Kewpie started away, paused, and spoke again. “They 're—they 're awfully modest chaps, Joe. You 'd think from hearing them talk that they did n’t know much about the game, but don't you be fooled. That's
just their way. You understand.”
“Oh, sure, Kewpie!” And when the latter had gone on his errand Joe smiled and, lowering his voice, said to Frank Brattle: “Kewpie ’s trying to put something over. I wonder what.”
“Proudtree tells me one of you fellows plays football,” said Joe, a minute later, when introductions had been performed and Ned and Laurie had seated themselves. “We need good players this fall. Of course, I hope you 'll both come out.”
“Ned 's the football chap,” said Laurie. “Baseball 's my line.”
“I don’t know—” began Ned, but Laurie pinched him warningly and he gulped and, to Kewpie's evident relief, made a fresh start. “I’m not much of a player,” he said modestly, “but I'm willing to have a try at it.”
Kewpie darted an “I-told-you-so” glance at Joe and Frank.
“Where do you come from, Turner?” Joe asked politely.