I sit looking
into the bottom of the boat, which is the only thing to do now that I can
breathe without shutting my eyes. Other people are already discussing the race.
Cass, just behind me, swears furiously. Ned tells him to shut up. Stroke turns
around. He is about to cry. I put my hand on his shoulder. Try to smile at him.
I don't feel a bit benevolent. Ned sits looking into the bottom of the boat,
too. Finally he looks up, shakes his head at me very slowly. I know how he
feels. There wasn't a thing he could do.
launch comes by. The officials avoid looking at us. Freddie says, "Nice
race, Harvard." His face is suddenly very pale and tired. I am beginning to
Ned pulls us off
the course. We wait for the jayvee race to come down. Everyone is analyzing our
own race. There is nothing to say. We fell apart. Blew a sure thing. A bunch of
rank amateurs. The people on shore look at us curiously.
The jayvees win
handily, the varsity loses by three feet. A sad day for Harvard rowing. This is
the first varsity race Coolidge has ever lost. He had two unbeaten seasons
before. We row back up the course, down the inlet. At the boat-house we give
our shirts to Cornell. The Cornell people are a little embarrassed about taking
After the Cornell
people go our crew clusters around Freddie. They give him suggestions, make
pronouncements, wait for him to say something. Most of them are afraid for
their positions. Freddie keeps still, which is smart of him.
At dinner the
conversation is quiet and correct, for a change. Very different from the
unrestraint of last night. We board the bus and leave for Cambridge immediately
after we are through eating. We are scheduled to arrive back at Harvard around
2 or 3 in the morning. Easter Sunday. I am sitting with Young again, and we
begin to discuss the race. I have calmed down at least enough to talk it over.
"It felt pretty good to me up until the end," I say. "Then it all
went to pieces."
"I was in a
daze all the way through it," Young says. "The whole thing felt awful.
We just haven't had enough experience."
I agree. "The
poor stroke though," I say, "his first race."
"Yes, we may
have some changes."
stroke?" Young has been superb at second-guessing Freddie all season.