Reade, Substitute Right Half
by F. Scott Fitzgerald


“Hold! Hold! Hold!” The slogan thundered up the field to where the battered, crimson warders trotted wearily into their places again. The blues’ attack this time came straight at center and was good for a gain of seven yards.

“Second down, three,” yelled the referee, and again the attack came straight at center. This time there was no withstanding the rush and the huge Hilton fullback crushed through the crimson line again and shaking off his many tacklers, staggered on toward the Warrentown goal.

The midget Warrentown quarter-back ran nimbly up the field and, dodging the interference, shot in straight at the fullback’s knees throwing him to the ground. The teams sprang back into line again, but Hearst, the crimson right tackle, lay still upon the ground. The right half was shifted to tackle and Berl, the captain, trotted over to the sidelines to ask the advice of the coaches.

“Who have we got for half, sir?” he inquired of the head coach.

“Suppose you try Reade,” answered the coach, and calling to one of the figures on the pile of straw, which served as a seat for the substitutes, he beckoned to him. Pulling off his sweater, a light haired stripling trotted over to the coach.

“Pretty light,” said Berl as he surveyed the form before him.

“I guess that’s all we have, though,” answered the coach. Reade was plainly nervous as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other and fidgeted with the end of his jersey.

“Oh, I guess he’ll do,” said Berl. “Come on kid,” and they trotted off on the field.

The teams quickly lined up and the Hilton quarter gave the signal “6-8-7G.” The play came between guard and tackle, but before the full-back could get started a lithe form shot out from the Warrentown line and brought him heavily to the ground.

“Good work, Reade,” said Berl, as Reade trotted back into his place, and blushing at the compliment he crouched low in the line and waited for the play. The center snapped the ball to quarter, who, turning, was about to give it to the half. The ball slipped from his grasp and he reached for it, but too late. Reade had slipped in between the end and tackle and dropped on the ball.

“Good one, Reade,” shouted Mridle, the Warrentown quarter, as he came racing up, crying signals as he ran. Signal “48-10G-37,”

It was Reade around left end, but the pass was bad and the quarter dropped the ball. Reade scooped it up on a run and raced around left end. In the delay which had been caused by the fumble Reade’s interference had been broken up and he must shift for himself; even as he rounded the end he was thrown with a thud by the blue full-back. He had gained but a yard. “Never mind, Reade,” said the quarter, “my fault.” The ball was snapped, but again the pass was bad and a Hilton line man fell on the ball.

Then began a steady march up the field toward the Warrentown goal. Time and time again Reade slipped through the Hilton line and nailed the runner before he could get started. But slowly Hilton pushed down the field toward the Warrentown goal. When the Blues were on the Crimson’s ten-yard line their quarter-back made his only error of judgment during the game. He gave the signal for a forward pass. The ball was shot to the full-back, who turned to throw it to the right half. As the pigskin left his hand, Reade leaped upward and caught the ball. He stumbled for a moment, but, soon getting his balance, started out for the Hilton goal with a long string of Crimson and Blue men spread out behind him. He had a start of about five yards on his nearest opponent, but this distance was decreased to three before he had passed his own forty-five-yard line. He turned his head and looked back. His pursuer was breathing heavily and Reade saw what was coming. He was going to try a diving tackle. As the man’s body shot out straight for him he stepped out of the way and the man fell harmlessly past him, missing him by a foot.

From there to the goal line it was easy running, and as Reade laid the pigskin on the ground and rolled happily over beside it he could just hear another slogan echo down the field: “One point—two points—three points—four points—five points. Reade! Reade! Reade!”


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