Frank Merriwell's Limit

CHAPTER IX.
A MISHAP TO RATTLETON.

Frank was starting for a walk out into town when Harry Rattleton overtook him.

"Hold on, Merry," he cried, "and I'll wake a talk with you - I mean take a walk."

"If you get your feet tangled the way you do your words, you'd not be able to walk," laughed Frank.

It was a crisp mid-winter day, and the air was exhilarating. They walked along with swinging steps, their shoulders thrown back and chests expanded.

"This is the sort of weather to put ginger into a man," said Merry. "Fill your lungs, Harry."

"I'm, doing it," assured Rattleton. "This air is great-simply great."

"It is," nodded Merry, "I don't see how any fellow can round up and let his chest sink in such days."

"Lots of them do."

"I know it. Whenever I see one, I feel like going up to him and giving him a lecture. There are lots of fellows who never fill their lungs with good fresh air. Some of the air cells are never expanded. Those cells need exercise in order to remain healthy, just as much as any part of the body. Without proper exercise, they become weak and useless. When they are weakened, they cannot resist disease, and then the fellow gets a bad cold, and it settles on his lungs. He begins to cough and he finds he cannot throw the cold off. His vitality is weakened, and then follows consumption. All this comes about because he does not walk with his shoulders back, his chest expanded, and give his lungs the proper exercise."

"There are some fellows in college who need to be told this."

"That's right, and some fellows have been told so by me. College men will spend all their time plugging make terrible mistakes. I do not object to any man because he is a grind, but I feel like telling him, 'My poor fellow, you are losing more than you are winning.' To-day, it has become understood generally that work of body and work of mind must go together in order to accomplish the best results."

"That's all right."

"Neglect either body or mind, and the result is a failure. The man who makes himself a grind and neglects his body comes out of college weakened physically, possibly with shattered health."

"Then what's he good for?"

"He is not fitted to fight the battle of life, for I am satisfied that life is a battle. A man can't step out of college and into a fine paying position just because he happened to stand at the head of his class."

"He may have a pull."

"That's different. I mean a man without influence. Therefore, the fellow whose body is weakened is easily buffeted about when he gets into the battle of life. Perhaps he meets with rebuff after rebuff. He finds he is not fit physically for the struggle, and he loses heart and gives up. He makes a failure in life, though he was such a brilliant success in the college class room. Then chumps who think they know it all rise up and say he was overeducated. They even assert that he failed because he had a college education. Such fellows make me a trifle languid!"

"How is it you think about all these things, Merriwell?" asked Rattles, looking at Frank wonderingly.

"Why? It's natural, it seems to me, for any one to think about them."

"Some fellows don't seem to think about anything."

"I know. It seems to hurt them to think. Chickering's set, for example. Never mind then. As I was saying, the fact has become recognized that in order to properly succeed in the battle of life a man should not neglect the education of his body. There was a time when college were sneered at and joked about. The comic papers were full of jokes about the chap who went to college to learn football. The faculty of the college looked on athletics askance. Things have changed in later years. Now athletics are encouraged, and they are considered a part of the college life, which is a very good thing. "

"Jove! Merriwell, you're making me feel guilty."

"Am I?"

"Sure."

"Why?"

"Well, I know I have not been taking regular exercise of late.

"Is that right?"

"Yes."

"Well, you've got to brace up, old man. Now get your chest out and fill your lungs. Draw in a deep breath. Fill the upper part of your lungs, as well as the lower. Don't you know you can fill part of your lungs and let a part remain idle? Expand the upper part of your chest."

"Whew!" breathed Harry. "If I have to expand any more than that I'll bust."

Frank laughed.

"Now this is only once. Keep it up as we walk along. Draw in good, deep breaths, and let them out slowly-slowly. That's the way. To finish with, take a long breath and hold it. See how many you can count while you field it. That will be the test to show you whether you are progressing. Little by little, you will be able to count more and more."

"I believe I'll try it every day. Seems to warm a fellow up all over."

"Sets your blood to running warm. Quickens the action of your heart without artificial stimulants. A fellow drinks whiskey and it makes his heart beat swiftly, and thus it seems to warm him up. Let him exercise properly, breathing deeply, and he accomplishes the same result, but without the false exhilaration of intoxication."

"Is this to be a temperance lecture?"

"Oh, no. I'm exercising my mouth now."

Frank laughed, and Harry exclaimed;

"Badger's beginning to exercise his again."

"Is he?"

"Yes."

"How do you know?"

"Heard him."

"When?"

"This morning."

"Where?"

"Fence."

"What was he doing?"

"Bragging, same as usual.

Frank smiled in a singular manner.

"Hodge will be pleased," he said.

"What?" asked Harry, surprised. "Why should he be pleased?"

"Never mind. Something will happen if Badger has started to talk. Where are you going, Rattles?"

"To the laundry."

They were out in town now, and walking along one of the principal streets. Suddenly they came face to face with two young ladies, whom they recognized. Frank lifted his hat, and so did Harry. Alas for the latter!

As Rattleton lifted his hat, there was a shower of soiled linen. Collars and cuffs rained down about him and fell on the sidewalk, to his horror and dismay.

Frank realized what had happened, and he repressed his laughter with difficulty. The girls were forced to smile, for Rattleton was ludicrous in his horror and dismay. A small boy pointed him out and shouted to another:

"Come here, Chimmy, an' see der duck dat's sheddin his lawndree! Hi! hi!"

Harry made a scramble to gather up the stuff which had fallen on the sidewalk. Some of the collars actually seemed to wiggle in an effort to avoid him. Some of the cuffs rolled into the gutter.

"Last time I'll ever harry my linen in my cat-I mean carry my linen in my hat!" spluttered Rattles, scrambling after the elusive stuff.

When he had gathered it all up, he crammed it into his hat again, yanked his hat onto his head with both hands and started off on a run, deserting Merriwell, for he could not bear to face the smiling girls.

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