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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 22
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Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 22 Post by :Javier Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :3443

Click below to download : Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 22 (Format : PDF)

Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 22

CHAPTER XXII

Uncle Ike had been reading the morning paper, as he sat before the grate fire, in the sitting room, while the red-headed boy was using a slate and pencil trying to figure out something to make it match the answer as given in the arithmetic, and having guessed the answer right he was drawing a picture of Uncle Ike and his pipe, and occasionally wetting his finger in his mouth and rubbing out some feature of the old man that didn't suit. He had the old man pictured in a football costume of padded trousers, nose guard, ear guard, knee pads, and all the different things used in football, and when he showed the picture to Uncle Ike, that old citizen sighed, though he looked a bit pleased that he should be the study of so eminent an artist. Uncle Ike had been reading that there was to be a football game that afternoon, between the State university and Beloit college, and he wanted to go like a dog, but he had abused football so much that he was ashamed to speak of going.

"I hope you are not interested in that disreputable game," said Uncle Ike, knocking the ashes out of his pipe on the andirons of the fireplace. "I hope you don't want to go and see respectable boys maimed and killed, and knocked down and dragged out, and sandbagged, and brained. I have seen a bull fight in Mexico, but I never want to see anything as bloody as a football game," and the old man winked to himself, and filled the pipe.

"Oh, what you giving me?" said the boy, jumping up in indignation. "Football is no worse than the old-fashioned pullaway you used to play. I am going to see this game through a knothole in the fence I rented from a boy who has the knothole concession at the baseball park."

"No, you don't," said Uncle Ike, "you will go in the gate like a gentleman. No nephew of mine is going to grow up and be a knothole audience. You get two or three of your chums and come around here about 2 o'clock, and I will go with you, and stand between you and the sluggers, and see this game out. I don't want to go, and detest the game, but I will go to please you," and the old man looked wise and fatherly.

"Oh, you don't want to go, like the way the woman kept tavern in Michigan," said the boy, as he edged toward the door.

"How was it that the woman kept the hotel in Michigan?" he asked, looking mad.

"Like hades," said the boy, "only the man who told me about it said she kept tavern like h----l, but I wouldn't say that in the presence of my dear old uncle,", and the boy slipped out ahead of a slipper that was kicked at him by the laughing old man.

So in the afternoon Uncle Ike, the red-headed boy and two chums appeared at the gate, the old man plunked down two dollars with a chuckle, asked if he could smoke his pipe in there, and was told that he could smoke a factory chimney if he wanted to, and they went in and got seats on the bleachers, and as they sat down the old man said it was almost exactly like the bull ring in Mexico. The boys explained to him that the red ribbons were university colors and the yellow belonged to Beloit, and he must choose which side he would root for. As the red matched his flannel underwear and his flushed face, he said he was for the university, and then the boys explained the game, about carrying the ball, getting touchdowns, kicking goal, and half-back and quarter-back, and when the teams came in and the crowd yelled, Uncle Ike felt hurt, because it made so much noise, and people acted crazy. Uncle Ike looked the players over, and he said that big fellow from Beloit was John L. Sullivan in disguise, and wanted him ruled off. The play began, the ball shot out behind the crowd, a man grabbed it and started to run, when someone grabbed him by the legs and he went down, with the whole crowd on top of him. Uncle Ike raised up on his feet and waved his pipe, and when one of the men did not get up and they brought water and tried to bring him back to life, he shouted: "That is murder. I saw that fellow with the black socks strike him with a hatchet. Police!" but someone behind him yelled to him to sit down, and the red-headed boy pulled his coat tail, he sat down, and the game went on, but Uncle Ike was mad, because the dead boy was playing as lively as anybody.

Then a man got the ball and started on a run down the field, with the whole crowd after him, and finally they got him down and Uncle Ike stood up again and said: "Stop the game. I saw a fellow trip him up, and pound him with a billy, and stab him. Say, boys, he's dead, sure. Where's the police? Ain't there no ambulance here? Kill the umpire!" he shouted, remembering that he was an old baseball fan.

(Illustration: Where's the police 195)

"Oh, don't worry, Uncle Ike, they are all right," said the boy, waving a long piece of red ribbon, as the two bands tried to play a "Hot Time" and a waltz at the same time. "Now watch the kangaroo kick off," and as he kicked the ball the whole length of the field the old man simply sat still and said:

"Gee whiz, but that was a corker. U-rah-u-rah!" and the only way to stop him was to feed him peanuts.

From an enemy of football the old man was rapidly becoming its friend. When the men came together at first, and went down in a heap, legs flying in all directions, and noises like heavy blows coming to him, he would swear he saw a man strike another with a mallet, but later in the game he said it served the man right, and he ought to have been hit with an ax, and before the game was over he was so interested that he got down off the bleachers, leaned over the railing and yelled at the'' combatants to eat 'em up, and when the game was over he rushed into the field, hugging the players, and saying that it was the greatest thing that ever was, and offering to act as one of the bearers to the funeral, if anybody had been killed, and when the boys got him out of the grounds he took up the whole sidewalk, waving his ribbons, tied on his cane, shouting the university yell till he frothed at the mouth, and on the way home he took the boys into a store and bought them a new football, and insisted that they come into the front yard and play a game every morning, and offered to have the shrubbery cut down to give them room. As they got home, and the other boys had gone away, the red-headed boy said:

"Uncle Ike, you have disgraced the whole family. You went to the football game under protest, a quiet, inoffensive citizen, ostensibly to take care of us boys, and the first jump out of the box you got crazy, and we had a terrible time to get you home. I don't suppose you remember what you did do out there. Do you remember of putting your arm around a strange lady, and hugging her, and telling her to yell? Her husband is looking for you with a gun. Do you remember of grabbing a young woman sitting in front of you, just as they made a touchdown, pulling her head over into your lap, and patting her cheeks with your great big hands, and telling her she ought to marry a football player? Her brother is coming up street now with a baseball club. I suppose you have no recollection of jumping up and sitting down in the lap of a woman in the seat behind you, throwing your arms around her, and telling her she was a darling, and squeezing her till you broke her corset. She says you offered her marriage, and her lawyer will be here in the morning to find out what you are going to do about it. I think you better be examined by doctors to see if you are not getting nutty, and let them send you to a sanitarium," and the boy sighed, and looked at the old man as though his heart was broken.

"Say, did I do any of those things?" asked Uncle Ike, as he got up and looked out of the window, and then locked the door, and acted frightened. "Well, I'll be dumbed! I recollect the woman in front of me, and the one behind, but I pledge you my word that I did not know that I hugged anybody. I am willing to apologize, but I'll be condemned if I marry any of 'em, and I'm not crazy. That confounded game got me all mixed up, and I may have acted different from what I would ordinarily, but it was not my intention to propose to any female."

"But say, Uncle Ike, what did you think of the game as a means of building up muscle, pluck, push, get there, and general usefulness?" asked the boy.

"Greatest thing I ever saw," said Uncle Ike, as he looked out of the window, to see if any females he might have hugged in his excitement were out there waiting for him. "Say, I saw young fellows in that game that I used to know, who would cry if taken across their father's knee, and beg for mercy, and they would rush into the most dangerous position, and if knocked silly they would smile, never groan, and suck a swallow of water out of a sponge, and go in for another knockdown. That game will make men of the weak boys, and cause them to be afraid of nothing that walks. The boy who pushes, and tackles, and runs through a wilderness of other boys who are trying to down him, and get his pigskin away, will become the pushing business man who will go through the line of business progress, and make a touchdown in his enterprise, and he will kick a commercial or professional goal, over the heads of all competitors. Life is only a football game, after all. Every man in business who is worth his salt is a pusher, a shover, a tackier, a punter, or half-back, and the unsuccessful ones are the ones who carry the water to bring the business players to, when they become overheated, and do the yelling and hurrahing when the pushing business man in the football game of life makes a touchdown. It is these rough players that become the rough riders when war comes to the country, and they rush the ball up San Juan hill in the face of the Spanish tacklers, and the interference of barbed wire and other things. War is a football game also, and the recruiting officers are not looking for the weak sisters who can't push and shove, and fight, and fall over each other, and when wounded laugh and say it is nothing serious. A country that has a majority of its boys growing up to fight on the football field for fun, has no cause to fear any war that may come to it, for if they will fight like that in good nature, to uphold the colors of their college, what will they do to uphold 'Old Glory,' which comprises the dearest colors in all the world? Yes, boy, you can go on playing football, and if you are injured your Uncle Ike will pay all the expenses, and sit up nights with you, but you better not take me to any more games, for the first thing you know I will be bringing home here more wives than that Utah congressman has got. Now, go rest up, and next week I will take you to see President McKinley, at the hotel here, and you will see him throw his arms around me and say, 'Hello, Uncle Ike!' I used to know him when he wasn't President," and Uncle Ike dismissed the boy, and sat by the window till dark, looking out to see if anybody was coming to claim his hand in marriage, and wondering if he did make as big a fool of himself at the football game as the boys said he did.

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CHAPTER XXIUncle Ike was out in the front yard in the early morning, in his shirt sleeves, with no collar on, an old pair of rubber boots to keep the dew from wetting his feet, and he was helping the Indian summer haze all he could, by smoking the clay pipe and blowing the smoke up among the red and yellow leaves of autumn, and as he kicked the beautiful leaves on the lawn into piles he thought what foolish people they were who claimed last week that winter had come, because it was a little chilly, when he could have
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