"Oh-h-h-h, Cam-er-on!" Agony, reproach,
entreaty, vibrated in the clear young voice that rang out over the
Inverleith grounds. The Scottish line was sagging!—that line invincible
in two years of International conflict, the line upon which Ireland and
England had broken their pride. Sagging! And because Cameron was
weakening! Cameron, the brilliant half-back, the fierce-fighting,
erratic young Highlander, disciplined, steadied by the great Dunn into
an instrument of Scotland's glory! Cameron going back! A hush fell on
the thronged seats and packed inner-circle,—a breathless, dreadful hush
of foreboding. High over the hushed silence that vibrant cry rang; and
Cameron heard it. The voice he knew. It was young Rob Dunn's, the
captain's young brother, whose soul knew but two passions, one for the
captain and one for the half-back of the Scottish International.
And Cameron responded. The enemy's next
high punt found him rock-like in steadiness. And rock-like he tossed
high over his shoulders the tow-headed Welshman rushing joyously at him,
and delivered his ball far down the line safe into touch. But after his
kick he was observed to limp back into his place. The fierce pace of the
Welsh forwards was drinking the life of the Scottish backline.
An hour; then a half; then another half,
without a score. And now the final quarter was searching, searching the
weak spots in their line. The final quarter it is that finds a man's
history and habits; the clean of blood and of life defy its pitiless
probe, but the rotten fibre yields and snaps. That momentary weakness of
Cameron's like a subtle poison runs through the Scottish line; and like
fluid lightning through the Welsh. It is the touch upon the trembling
balance. With cries exultant with triumph, the Welsh forwards fling
themselves upon the steady Scots now fighting for life rather than for
victory. And under their captain's directions these fierce,
victory-sniffing Welsh are delivering their attack upon the spot where
he fancies he has found a yielding. In vain Cameron rallies his powers;
his nerve is failing him, his strength is done. Only five minutes to
play, but one minute is enough. Down upon him through a broken field,
dribbling the ball and following hard like hounds on a hare, come the
Welsh, the tow-head raging in front, bloody and fearsome. There is but
one thing for Cameron to do; grip that tumbling ball, and, committing
body and soul to fate, plunge into that line. Alas, his doom is upon
him! He grips the ball, pauses a moment—only a fatal moment,—but it is
enough. His plunge is too late. He loses the ball. A surge of Welshmen
overwhelm him in the mud and carry the ball across. The game is won—and
lost. What though the Scots, like demons suddenly released from hell,
the half-back Cameron most demon-like of all, rage over the field,
driving the Welshmen hither and thither at will, the gods deny them
victory; it is for Wales that day!
In the retreat of their rubbing-room the
gay, gallant humour which the Scots have carried with them off the field
of their defeat, vanishes into gloom. Through the steaming silence a
groan breaks now and then. At length a voice:
"Oh, wasn't it rotten! The rank quitter
that he is!"
"Quitter? Who is? Who says so?" It was the
captain's voice, sharp with passion.
"I do, Dunn. It was Cameron lost us the
game. You know it, too. I know it's rotten to say this, but I can't help
it. Cameron lost the game, and I say he's a rank 'quitter,' as Martin
"Look here, Nesbitt," the captain's voice
was quiet, but every man paused in his rubbing. "I know how sore you are
and I forgive you that; but I don't want to hear from you or from any
man on the team that word again. Cameron is no quitter; he made—he made
an error,—he wasn't fit,—but I say to you Cameron is no quitter."
While he was speaking the door opened and
into the room came a player, tall, lanky, with a pale, gaunt face,
plastered over the forehead with damp wisps of straight, black hair. His
deep-set, blue-grey eyes swept the room.
"Thanks, Dunn," he said hoarsely. "Let
them curse me! I deserve it all. It's tough for them, but God knows I've
got the worst of it. I've played my last game." His voice broke huskily.
"Oh, rot it, Cameron," cried Dunn. "Don't
be an ass! Your first big game—every fellow makes his mistake—"
"Mistake! Mistake! You can't lie easily,
Dunn. I was a fool and worse than a fool. I let myself down and I wasn't
fit. Anyway, I'm through with it." His voice was wild and punctuated
with unaccustomed oaths; his breath came in great sobs.
"Oh, rot it, Cameron!" again cried Dunn.
"Next year you'll be twice the man. You're just getting into your game."
Right loyally his men rallied to their
"Right you are!"
"Why, certainly; no man gets into the game
"We'll give 'em beans next year, Cameron,
They were all eager to atone for the
criticism which all had held in their hearts and which one of them had
spoken. But this business was serious. To lose a game was bad enough,
but to round on a comrade was unpardonable; while to lose from the game
a half-back of Cameron's calibre was unthinkable.
Meanwhile Cameron was tearing off his
football togs and hustling on his clothes with fierce haste. Dunn kept
his eye on him, hurrying his own dressing and chatting quietly the
while. But long before he was ready for the street, Cameron had crushed
his things into a bag and was looking for his hat.
"Hold on! I'm with you; I'm with you in a
jiffy," said Dunn.
"My hat," muttered Cameron, searching
wildly among the jumble.
"Oh, hang the hat; let it go! Wait for me,
Cameron. Where are you going?" cried Dunn.
"To the devil," cried the lad, slamming
the door behind him.
"And, by Jove, he'll go, too!" said
Nesbitt. "Say, I'm awfully sorry I made that break, Dunn. It was beastly
low-down to round on a chap like that. I'll go after him."
"Do, old chap! He's frightfully cut up.
And get him for to-night. He may fight shy of the dinner. But he's down
for the pipes, you know, and—well, he's just got to be there. Good-bye,
you chaps; I'm off! And—I say, men!" When Dunn said "men" they all knew
it was their captain that was speaking. Everybody stood listening. Dunn
hesitated a moment or two, as if searching for words. "About the dinner
to-night: I'd like you to remember—I mean—I don't want any man to—oh,
hang it, you know what I mean! There will be lots of fellows there who
will want to fill you up. I'd hate to see any of our team—" The captain
"We tumble, Captain," said Martin, a
medical student from Canada, who played quarter. "I'll keep an eye on
'em, you bet!"
Everybody roared; for not only on the
quarter-line but also at the dinner table the little quarter-back was a
marvel of endurance.
"Hear the blooming Colonist!" said
Linklater, Martin's comrade on the quarter-line, and his greatest
friend. "We know who'll want the watching, but we'll see to him,
"All right, old chap! Sorry I'll have to
cut the van. I'm afraid my governor's got the carriage here for me."
But the men all made outcry. There were
other plans for him.
"But, Captain; hold on!"
"Aw, now, Captain! Don't forsake us!"
"But I say, Dunn, see us through; we're
"Don't leave us, Captain, or you'll be
sorry," sang out Martin. "Come on, fellows, let's keep next him! We'll
give him 'Old Grimes!'"
Already a mighty roar was heard outside.
The green, the drive, the gateways, and the street were blocked with the
wildest football fanatics that Edinburgh, and all Scotland could
produce. They were waiting for the International players, and were bent
on carrying their great captain down the street, shoulder high; for the
enthusiasm of the Scot reaches the point of madness only in the hour of
glorious defeat. But before they were aware, Dunn had shouldered his
mighty form through the opposing crowds and had got safely into the
carriage beside his father and his young brother. But the crowd were
bound to have him.
"We want him, Docthor," said a young giant
in a tam-o'-shanter. "In fac', Docthor," he argued with a humourous
smile, "we maun hae him."
"Ye'll no' get him, Jock Murchison,"
shouted young Rob, standing in front of his big brother. "We want him
The crowd laughed gleefully.
"Go for him, Jock! You can easy lick him,"
said a voice encouragingly.
"Pit him oot, Docthor," said Jock, who was
a great friend of the family, and who had a profound respect for the
"It's beyond me, Jock, I fear. See yon
bantam cock! I doubt ye'll hae to be content," said the doctor, dropping
into Jock's kindly Doric.
"Oh, get on there, Murchison," said Dunn
impatiently. "You're not going to make an ass of me; make up your mind
Jock hesitated, meditating a sudden
charge, but checked by his respect for Doctor Dunn.
"Here, you fellows!" shouted a voice.
"Fall in; the band is going to play! Get into line there, you
Tam-o'-shanter; you're stopping the procesh! Now then, wait for the
line, everybody!" It was Little Martin on top of the van in which were
the Scottish players. "Tune, 'Old Grimes'; words as follows. Catch on,
"Old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn,
Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn,
Old Dunn, old Dunn,
old Dunn, old Dunn,
Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn."
With a delighted cheer the crowd formed in
line, and, led by the little quarter-back on top of the van, they set
off down the street, two men at the heads of the doctor's carriage
horses, holding them in place behind the van. On went the swaying crowd
and on went the swaying chant, with Martin, director of ceremonies and
Dunn hurling unavailing objurgations and entreaties at Jock's head.
Through the uproar a girl's voice reached
the doctor's ear:
"Aren't they lovely, Sir?"
The doctor turned to greet a young lady,
tall, strong, and with the beauty of perfect health rather than of
classic feature in her face. There was withal a careless disregard of
the feminine niceties of dress.
"Oh, Miss Brodie! Will you not come up? We
can easily make room."
"I'd just love to," cried the girl, "but
I'm only a humble member of the procession, following the band and the
chariot wheels of the conqueror." Her strong brown face was all aglow
"Conqueror!" growled Dunn. "Not much of a
"Why not? Oh fudge! The game? What matters
the game? It's the play we care about."
"Well spoken, lassie," said the doctor.
"That's the true sport."
"Aren't they awful?" cried Dunn. "Look at
that young Canadian idiot up there."
"Well, if you ask me, I think he's a
perfect dear," said Miss Brodie, deliberately. "I'm sure I know him;
anyway I'm going to encourage him with my approval." And she waved her
hand at Martin.
The master of ceremonies responded by
taking off his hat and making a sweeping bow, still keeping up the beat.
The crowd, following his eyes, turned their attention to the young lady,
much to Dunn's delight.
"Oh," she gasped, "they'll be chanting me
next! Good-bye! I'm off!" And she darted back to the company of her
friends marching on the pavement.
At this point Martin held up both arms and
called for silence.
"Second verse," he shouted, "second verse!
Get the words now!"
"Old Dunn ain't done, old Dunn ain't done,
Dunn, old Dunn ain't done,
Old Dunn ain't
done, old Dunn ain't done,
Dunn, old Dunn ain't done."
But the crowd rejected the Colonial
version, and rendered in their own good Doric:
"Old Dunn's no' done, old Dunn's no' done,
Dunn, old Dunn's no' done,
Old Dunn's no'
done, old Dunn's no' done,
Dunn, old Dunn's no' done."
And so they sang and swayed, following the
van till they neared Queen Street, down which lay the doctor's course.
"For heaven's sake, can't they be choked
off?" groaned Dunn.
The doctor signalled Jock to him.
"Jock," he said, "we'll just slip through
at Queen Street."
"We'd like awfully to do Princes Street,
Sir," pleaded Jock.
"Princes Street, you born ass!" cried Dunn
"Oh, yes, let them!" cried young Rob,
whose delight in the glory of his hero had been beyond all measure. "Let
them do Princes Street, just once!"
But the doctor would not have it. "Jock,"
he said quietly, "just get us through at Queen Street."
"All right, Sir," replied Jock with great
regret. "It will be as you say."
Under Jock's orders, when Queen Street was
reached, the men at the horses' heads suddenly swung the pair from the
crowd, and after some struggling, got them safely into the clear space,
leaving the procession to follow the van, loudly cheering their great
International captain, whose prowess on the field was equalled only by
his modesty and his hatred of a demonstration.
"Listen to the idiots," said Dunn in
disgust, as the carriage bore them away from the cheering crowd.
"Man, they're just fine! Aren't they,
Father?" said young Rob in an ecstasy of joy.
"They're generous lads, generous lads,
boy," said Doctor Dunn, his old eyes shining, for his son's triumph
touched him deeply. "That's the only way to take defeat."
"That's all right, Sir," said Dunn
quickly, "but it's rather embarrassing, though it's awfully decent of
The doctor's words suggested fresh
thoughts to young Rob. "But it was terrible; and you were just on the
win, too, I know."
"I'm not so sure at all," said his
"Oh, it is terrible," said Bob again.
"Tut, tut, lad! What's so terrible?" said
his father. "One side has to lose."
"Oh, it's not that," said Rob, his lip
trembling. "I don't care a sniff for the game."
"What, then?" said his big brother in a
voice sharpened by his own thoughts.
"Oh, Jack," said Rob, nervously wreathing
his hands, "he—it looked as if he—" the lad could not bring himself to
say the awful word. Nor was there need to ask who it was the boy had in
"What do you mean, Rob?" the captain's
voice was impatient, almost angry.
Then Rob lost his control. "Oh, Jack, I
can't help it; I saw it. Do you think—did he really funk it?" His voice
broke. He clutched his brother's knee and stood with face white and
quivering. He had given utterance to the terrible suspicion that was
torturing his heroic young soul. Of his two household gods one was
tottering on its pedestal. That a football man should funk—the suspicion
was too dreadful.
The captain glanced at his father's face.
There was gloom there, too, and the same terrible suspicion. "No, Sir,"
said Dunn, with impressive deliberation, answering the look on his
father's face, "Cameron is no quitter. He didn't funk. I think," he
continued, while Rob's tear-stained face lifted eagerly, "I know he was
out of condition; he had let himself run down last week, since the last
match, indeed, got out of hand a bit, you know, and that last
quarter—you know, Sir, that last quarter was pretty stiff—his nerve gave
just for a moment."
"Oh," said the doctor in a voice of
relief, "that explains it. But," he added quickly in a severe tone, "it
was very reprehensible for a man on the International to let himself get
out of shape, very reprehensible indeed. An International, mind you!"
"It was my fault, Sir, I'm afraid," said
Dunn, regretfully. "I ought to have—"
"Nonsense! A man must be responsible for
himself. Control, to be of any value, must be ultroneous, as our old
professor used to say."
"That's true, Sir, but I had kept pretty
close to him up to the last week, you see, and—"
"Bad training, bad training. A trainer's
business is to school his men to do without him."
"That is quite right, Sir. I believe I've
been making a mistake," said Dunn thoughtfully. "Poor chap, he's awfully
"So he should be," said the doctor
sternly. "He had no business to get out of condition. The International,
"Oh, Father, perhaps he couldn't help it,"
cried Rob, whose loyal, tender heart was beating hard against his little
ribs, "and he looks awful. I saw him come out and when I called to him
he never looked at me once."
There is no finer loyalty in this world
than that of a boy below his teens. It is so without calculation,
without qualification, and without reserve. Dr. Dunn let his eyes rest
kindly upon his little flushed face.
"Perhaps so, perhaps so, my boy," he said,
"and I have no doubt he regrets it now more than any of us. Where has he
"Nesbitt's after him, Sir. He'll get him
But as Dunn, fresh from his bath, but
still sore and stiff, was indulging in a long-banished pipe, Nesbitt
came in to say that Cameron could not be found.
"And have you not had your tub yet?" said
"Oh, that's all right! You know I feel
awfully about that beastly remark of mine."
"Oh, let it go," said Dunn. "That'll be
all right. You get right away home for your tub and get freshened up for
to-night. I'll look after Cameron. You know he is down for the pipes.
He's simply got to be there and I'll get him if I have to bring him in a
crate, pipes, kilt and all."
And Nesbitt, knowing that Dunn never
promised what he could not fulfil, went off to his tub in fair content.
He knew his captain.
As Dunn was putting on his coat Rob came
in, distress written on his face.
"Are you going to get Cameron, Jack?" he
asked timidly. "I asked Nesbitt, and he said—"
"Now look here, youngster," said his big
brother, then paused. The distress in the lad's face checked his words.
"Now, Rob," he said kindly, "you needn't fret about this. Cameron is all
The kind tone broke down the lad's
control. He caught his brother's arm. "Say, Jack, are you sure—he
didn't—funk?" His voice dropped to a whisper.
Then his big brother sat down and drew the
lad to his side, "Now listen, Rob; I'm going to tell you the exact
truth. CAMERON DID NOT FUNK. The truth is, he wasn't fit,—he ought to
have been, but he wasn't,—and because he wasn't fit he came mighty near
quitting—for a moment, I'm sure, he felt like it, because his nerve was
gone,—but he didn't. Remember, he felt like quitting and didn't, And
that's the finest thing a chap can do,—never to quit, even when he feels
like it. Do you see?"
The lad's head went up. "I see," he said,
his eyes glowing. "It was fine! I'm awfully glad he didn't quit,
'specially when he felt like it. You tell him for me." His idol was firm
again on his pedestal.
"All right, old chap," said his big
brother. "You'll never quit, I bet!"
"Not if I'm fit, will I?"
"Right you are! Keep fit—that's the word!"
And with that the big brother passed out
to find the man who was writhing in an agony of self-contempt; for in
the face of all Scotland and in the hour of her need he had failed
because he wasn't fit.
After an hour Dunn found his man, fixed in
the resolve to there and then abandon the game with all the
appurtenances thereof, and among these the dinner. Mightily his captain
laboured with him, plying him with varying motives,—the honour of the
team was at stake; the honour of the country was at stake; his own
honour, for was he not down on the programme for the pipes? It was all
in vain. In dogged gloom the half-back listened unmoved.
At length Dunn, knowing well the
Highlander's tender heart, cunningly touched another string and told of
Rob's distress and subsequent relief, and then gave his half-back the
boy's message. "I promised to tell you, and I almost forgot. The little
beggar was terribly worked up, and as I remember it, this is what he
said: 'I'm awfully glad he didn't quit, 'specially when he felt like
it.' Those were his very words."
Then Cameron buried his face in his hands
and groaned aloud, while Dunn, knowing that he had reached his utmost,
stood silent, waiting. Suddenly Cameron flung up his head:
"Did he say I didn't quit? Good little
soul! I'll go; I'd go through hell for that!"
And so it came that not in a crate, but in
the gallant garb of a Highland gentleman, pipes and all, Cameron was
that night in his place, fighting out through the long hilarious night
the fiercest fight of his life, chiefly because of the words that lay
like a balm to his lacerated heart:
"He didn't quit, 'specially when he felt