At length the day, as all days great and small, actually arrived. A big crowd awaited the appearance of "the folks from the Front." They were expected about two, but it was not till half-past that there was heard in the distance the sound of the bagpipes.
"Here they are! That's Alan the cooper's pipes," was the cry, and before long, sure enough there appeared Alphonse le Roque driving his French-Canadian team, the joy and pride of his heart, for Alphonse was a born horse-trainer, and had taught his French- Canadians many extraordinary tricks. On the dead gallop he approached the crowd till within a few yards, when, at a sudden command, they threw themselves upon their haunches, and came almost to a standstill. With a crack of his long whip Alphonse gave the command, "Deesplay yousef!" At once his stout little team began to toss their beautiful heads, and broke into a series of prancing curves that would not have shamed a pair of greyhounds. Then, as they drew up to the stopping-point, he gathered up his lines, and with another crack of his whip, cried, "Salute ze ladies!" when, with true equine courtesy, they rose upon their hind legs and gracefully pawed the empty air. Finally, after depositing his load amid the admiring exclamations of the crowd, he touched their tails with the point of his whip, gave a sudden "Whish!" and like hounds from the leash his horses sprang off at full gallop.
One after another the teams from the Front swung round and emptied their loads.
"Man! what a crowd!" said Hughie to Don. "There must be a hundred at least."
"Yes, and there's Hec Ross and Jimmie Ben," said Don, "and sure enough, Farquhar Begh. We'll be catching it to-day, whatever," continued Don, cheerfully.
"Pshaw! we licked as big men before. It isn't size," said Hughie, with far more confidence than he felt.
It was half an hour before the players were ready to begin. The rules of the game were few and simple. The play was to be one hour each way, with a quarter of an hour rest between. There was to be no tripping, no hitting on the shins when the ball was out of the scrimmage, and all disputes were to be settled by the umpire, who on this occasion was the master of the Sixteenth school.
"He's no good," grumbled Hughie to his mother, who was even more excited than her boy himself. "He can't play himself, and he's too easy scared."