Monday, February 1, 2010

THE ROAD TO CONTENT CORNERS, part 2 of 5, by C. Courtenay Savage (1922)

The field was a large one. He climbed the rather dilapidated stone wall, looked about and started on a tour of exploration.

In the far corner of the field a group of boys were playing baseball. It may have been his business interests that led him in their direction or perhaps it was a sudden assertion of his own youth. He was only twenty-six, hardly out of the boy class himself. Certainly, one would never have imagined him to be a man of scheming business methods. He was of fair height, with a broad forehead and clear, clean eyes.

As he walked toward the boys there was a shout and his attention was directed to a ball, swiftly rolling along the ground near him. He picked up the ball and hurled it back. Once he had been a good player but now the ball fell short. To excuse his poor throw, he walked closer to the players. They were country boys of from fifteen to twenty and they were playing "sides."

"Hello, Boyce!" One of the older boys greeted him. "Want a game?"

He shrugged his shoulders, undecided. The game went on. It was mostly a case of throw and hit, not the fancy game of the high-priced ball park but rather the excitement of the back lot. Gradually the tingle of it crept into Hewett's blood. He borrowed a fielder's mitt and went to a base to enter the game. It was fun.

For an hour Boyce Hewett played ball. When he fanned the air and struck out, they laughed and so did he. When he hit with such force that his "side" scored three runs, they looked at him with pride and his heart swelled. When there was a dispute as to whether a ball had fallen fair or foul, he was called upon as the deciding judge. It was quite plainly a foul, he announced and this, in spite of the fact that his decision was against his team.

"Yeah, see!" one of the boys called, "It was a foul! Don't you know that you can't get nothing by playing a skin game? Play fair! Cheating shows!"

The game went on. Hewett forgot business. His soft white shirt was crumpled and dirty. The crease was gone from his immaculate gray trousers. He did not even hesitate to slide in hopes of making a base. He was in the game and the game was his.

Presently a watch was consulted.

"Gee! I promised to be home at twelve sharp," said one of the older boys. "There's going to be big doings in town this afternoon and I'm going to be there."

"Yeah! Say, it's hot! I'm all wet."

"Let's go swimming--let's!"

A quarter of a mile away was a famous old swimming-hole where the water was deep and clear, the thick hedge of trees and bushes shut out the rest of the world and the stream was wide enough for a short race.

"Sure! Come on--won't take but a few minutes--come on." The younger boys undecided, looked at Boyce, felling instinctive deference to a guest.

The perspiration was rolling from his face and the back of his neck burned where the hot sun had reached the tender skin. He looked at the pool and grinned.

"Sure! Come on!" he said and five minutes later they all splashed into the cool water.