THE ROVER BOYS AT SCHOOL
THE CADETS OF PUTNAM HALL
By Arthur M. Winfield
My Dear Boys:
"The Rover Boys at School" has been written that those of you who
have never put in a term or more at an American military academy
for boys may gain some insight into the workings of such an
While Putnam Hall is not the real name of the particular place of
learning I had in mind while penning this tale for your amusement
and instruction, there is really such a school, and dear Captain
Putnam is a living person, as are also the lively, wide-awake,
fun-loving Rover brothers, Dick, Tom, and Sam, and their
schoolfellows, Larry, Fred, and Frank. The same can be said, to a
certain degree, of the bully Dan Baxter, and his toady, the sneak,
commonly known as "Mumps."
The present story is complete in itself, but it is written as the
first of a series, to be followed by "The Rover Boys on the Ocean"
and "The Rover Boys in the Jungle," in both of which volumes we
will again meet many of our former characters.
Trusting that this tale will find as much favor in your hands as
have my previous stories, I remain,
Affectionately and sincerely yours,
INTRODUCING THE ROVER BOYS
"Hurrah, Sam, it is settled at last that we are to go to boarding
"Are you certain, Tom? Don't let me raise any false hopes."
"Yes, I am certain, for I heard Uncle Randolph tell Aunt Martha
that he wouldn't keep us in the house another week. He said he
would rather put up with the Central Park menagerie—think of
that!" and Tom Rover began to laugh.
"That's rather rough on us, but I don't know but what we deserve
it," answered Sam Rover, Tom's younger brother. "We have been
giving it pretty strong lately, with playing tricks on Sarah the
cook, Jack the hired man, and Uncle Randolph's pet dog Alexander.
But then we had to do something—or go into a dry rot. Life in
the country is all well enough, but it's mighty slow for me."
"I guess it is slow for anybody brought up in New York, Sam. Why,
the first week I spent here I thought the stillness would kill me.
I couldn't actually go to sleep because it was so quiet. I wish
uncle and aunt would move to the city. They have money enough."
"Aunt Martha likes to be quiet, and uncle is too much wrapped up in
the art of scientific farming, as he calls it. I'll wager he'll stay
on this farm experimenting and writing works on agriculture until he
dies. Well, it's a good enough way to do, I suppose, but it wouldn't
suit me. I want to see something of life—as father did."
"So do I. Perhaps we'll see something when we get to boarding
"Where are we to go?"
"I don't know. Some strict institution, you can be sure of that. Uncle
Randolph told aunty it was time the three of us were taken in hand. He
said Dick wasn't so bad, but you and I—"
"Were the bother of his life, eh?"
"Something about like that. He doesn't see any fun in tricks. He
expects us to just walk around the farm, or study, and, above all
things, keep quiet, so that his scientific investigations are not
disturbed. Why doesn't he let us go out riding, or boating on the
river, or down to the village to play baseball with the rest of
the fellows? A real live American boy can't be still all the time,
and he ought to know it," and, with a decided shake of his curly
head, Tom Rover took a baseball from his pocket and began to throw
it up against the side of the farmhouse, catching it each time as
it came down.
Tom had thrown the ball up just four times when a pair of blinds
to an upper window flew open with a crash, and the head of a
stern-looking elderly gentleman appeared. The gentleman had gray
hair, very much tumbled, and wore big spectacles.
"Hi! hi! boys, what does this mean?" came in a high-pitched voice.
"What are you hammering on the house for, when I am just in the
midst of a deep problem concerning the rotation of crops on a
hillside with northern exposure?"
"Excuse me, Uncle Randolph, I didn't think to disturb you,"
answered Tom meekly. "I'll put the ball away."
"You never stop to think, Thomas. Give me that ball."
"Oh, let me keep it, Uncle Randolph! I won't throw it against the
house again, honor bright."
"You'll forget that promise in ten minutes, Thomas; I know you
well. Throw the ball up," and Mr. Randolph Rover held out his hands.
"All right, then; here you go," answered Tom, somewhat put out to
thus lose a ball which had cost him his week's spending, money;
and he sent the sphere flying upward at a smart speed. Mr. Rover
made a clutch for it, but the ball slipped through his hands and
landed plump on his nose.
"Oh!" he cried, and disappeared from sight, but reappeared a
moment later, to shake his fist at Tom.
"You young rascal! You did that on purpose!" he spluttered, and
brought forth his handkerchief, for his nose had begun to bleed.
"Was anyone ever tormented so by three boys?"
"Now you are in for it again, Tom," whispered Sam.
"I didn't mean to hit you, Uncle Randolph. Why didn't you catch
it on the fly?"
"On the fly?" repeated the uncle. "Do you suppose I am accustomed
to catching cannon balls?"
"Didn't you ever play baseball?"
"Never. I spent my time in some useful study." The elderly
gentleman continued to keep his handkerchief to his nose, and
adjusted his glasses.
"Thank fortune, you are all going to go to boarding school next
week, and we will once more have a little peace and quietness
around Valley Brook!"
"Where are we to go, Uncle Randolph?" asked Sam.
"You will learn that Monday morning, when you start off."
"It wouldn't hurt to tell us now," grumbled Tom.
"You must learn to be patient, Thomas. My one hope is that life
at boarding school makes a real man of you."
"Of course we are all to go together?"
"Yes, you are to go together, although I can get along with
Richard very well, he is so much more quiet and studious than you
"I reckon he takes after you, Uncle Randolph."
"If so, he might do worse. By the way, what were both of you
"Nothing," came from Sam.
"We haven't anything to do. This farm is the slowest place on
earth," added Tom.
"Why do you not study the scientific and agricultural works that I
mentioned to you? See what I have done for scientific farming."
"I don't want to be a farmer," said Tom. "I'd rather be a
"A sailor!" gasped Randolph Rover. "Of all things! Why, a sailor
is the merest nobody on earth!"
"I guess you mean on the sea, uncle," said Sam with a grin.
"Don't joke me, Samuel. Yes, Thomas—the calling of a sailor
amounts to absolutely nothing. Scientific farming is the thing!
Nothing more noble on the face of the earth than to till the
"I never saw you behind a plow, Uncle Randolph," answered Tom,
with a twinkle in his blue eyes. "Besides, I heard you say that
the farm ran behind last year."
"Tut, tut, boy! You know nothing about it. I made a slight
miscalculation in crops, that was all. But this year we shall do
"You lost money year before last, too," commented Sam.
"Who told you that?"
"Mr. Woddie, the storekeeper at the Corners."
"Mr. Woddie may understand storekeeping, but he knows nothing of
farming, scientific or otherwise. I spent several thousands of
dollars in experimenting, but the money was not lost. We shall
soon have grand results. I shall astonish the whole of New York
State at the next meeting of our agricultural society," and Mr.
Randolph Rover waved his hand grandiloquently. It was easy to see
that scientific farming was his hobby.
"Randolph!" It was the voice of Mrs. Rover, who now appeared
beside her husband. "What is the matter with your nose?"
"Tom hit me with his ball. It is all right now, although it did
"The bad boy! But it is just like him. Sarah has given notice
that she will leave at the end of her month. She says she can't
stand the pranks Tom and Sam play on her."
"She need not go—for the boys are going to boarding school, you
"She says you promised to send them off before."
"Well, they shall go this time, rest assured of that. I cannot
stand their racing up and down stairs, and their noise, any
longer. They go Monday morning."
"Better send them off tomorrow."
"Well—er—that is rather sudden."
"Sarah's month is up Friday. She will surely go unless the boys
are out of the house. And she is the best cook I have ever had."
"Excepting when she burnt the custard pies," put in Tom.
"And when she salted the rice pudding!" added Sam.
"Silence, both of you. Randolph, do send them off."
"Very well, I will. Boys, you must go away from the house for an
hour or two."
"Can we go fishing or swimming?" asked Tom.
"No, I don't want you to go near the river, you may get drowned."
"We can both swim," ventured Sam.
"Never mind—it is not safe—and your poor father left you in
"Can we go down to the village?"
"No, you might get into bad company there."
"Then where shall we go?" came from both boys simultaneously.
Randolph Rover scratched his head in perplexity. He had never had
any children of his own, and to manage his brother's offspring was
clearly beyond him. "You might go down to the cornfield, and
study the formation of the ears—"
"Send them blackberrying," suggested Mrs. Rover. "We want the
berries for pies tomorrow, and it will give them something to do."
"Very well; boys, you may go blackberrying. And mind you keep out
"We'll mind," answered Tom. "But you might let me have that
"I will give it to you in the morning," answered Randolph Rover, and
turned away from the window with his wife.
As soon as they were out of sight, Tom threw up both hands in
mock tragedy, "Alack, Horatio, this excitement killeth me!" he
cried in a stage whisper. "Sent blackberrying to keep us out of
mischief! Sam, what are we coming to?"
"Well, it's better than moping around doing nothing. For my part,
I am glad we are to go to boarding school, and the sooner the
better. But I would like to know where to?"
"If only we were going to a military academy!"
"Hurrah! Just the thing! But no such luck. Get the berry
baskets and let us be off. By the way, where is Dick?"
"Gone to the village for the mail. There he comes down the road
now," and Tom pointed to a distant path back of the meadows.
The two boys hurried into a woodshed behind the large farmhouse
and procured a basket and two tin pails. With these in hand they
set off in the direction of the berry patch, situated along the
path that Dick Rover was pursuing, their intention being to head
off their brother and see if he had any letters for them.
Of the three Rover boys, Richard, commonly called Dick, was the
eldest. He was sixteen, tall, slender, and had dark eyes and dark
hair. He was a rather quiet boy, one who loved to read and study,
although he was not above having a good time now and then, when
he felt like "breaking loose," as Tom expressed it.
Next to Richard came Tom, a year younger, as merry a lad as there
was ever to be found, full of life and "go," not above playing all
sorts of tricks on people, but with a heart of gold, as even his
uncle and aunt felt bound to admit.
Sam was the youngest. He was but fourteen, but of the same height
and general appearance as Tom, and the pair might readily have
been taken for twins. He was not as full of pranks as Tom, but
excelled his brothers in many outdoor sports.
The history of the three Rover boys was a curious one. They were
the only children of one Anderson Rover, a gentleman who had been
widely known as a mineral expert, gold mine proprietor, and
traveler. Mr. Anderson Rover had gone to California a poor young
man and had there made a fortune in the mines. Returning to the
East, he had married and settled down in New York City, and there,
the three boys had been born.
An epidemic of fever had taken off Mrs. Rover when Richard was but
ten years of age. The shock had come so suddenly that Anderson
Rover was dazed, and for several weeks the man knew not what to
do. "Take all of the money I made in the West, but give me back
my wife!" he said broken-heartedly, but this could not be, and
soon after he left his three boys in charge of a housekeeper and
set off to tour Europe, thinking that a change of scene would
prove a benefit.
When he came back he seemed a changed man. He was restless, and
could not remain at home for more than a few weeks at a time. He
placed the boys at a boarding school in New York and returned to
the West, where he made another strike in the gold mines; and when
he came back once more he was reported to be worth between two and
three hundred thousand dollars.
But now a new idea had came into his head. He had been reading up
on Africa, and had reached the conclusion that there must be gold
in the great unexplored regions of that country. He determined to
go to Africa, fit out an exploration, and try his luck.
"It will not cost me over ten to twenty thousand dollars," he said
to his brother Randolph. "And it may make me a millionaire."
"If you are bound to go, I will not stop you," had been Randolph
Rover's reply. "But what of your boys in the meanwhile?"
This was a serious question, for Anderson Rover knew well the risk
he was running, knew well that many a white man had gone into the
interior of Africa never to return. At last it was settled that
Randolph Rover should become Dick, Tom, and Sam's temporary
guardian. This accomplished, Anderson Rover set off and that was
the last any of his family had ever heard of him.
Was he dead or alive? Hundreds of times had the boys and their
uncle pondered that question. Each mail was watched with anxiety,
but day after day brought no news, until the waiting became an old
story, and all settled down to the dismal conviction that the
daring explorer must be dead. He had landed and gone into the
interior with three white men and twenty natives, and that was all
that could be ascertained concerning him.
At the time of Anderson Rover's departure Randolph had been on the
point of purchasing a farm of two hundred acres in the Mohawk
Valley of New York State. The land had not changed hands until a
year later, however, and then Dick, Tom, and Sam were called upon
to give up their life in the metropolis and settle down in the
country, a mile away from the village of Dexter Corners.
For a month things had gone very well, for all was new, and it
seemed like a "picnic," to use Tom's way of expressing it. They
had run over the farm from end to end, climbed to the roof of the
barn, explored the brook, and Sam had broken his arm by falling
from the top of a cherry tree. But after that the novelty wore
away, and the boys began to fret.
"They want something to do," thought Randolph Rover, and set them
to work studying scientific farming, as he called it. At this
Dick made some progress, but the uncle could do nothing with Tom
and Sam. Then the last two broke loose and began to play pranks
on everybody that came along, and life became little short of a
burden to the studious Randolph and, his quiet-minded spouse.
"I must send them off to a boarding school, or somewhere,"
Randolph Rover would say, but he kept putting the matter off,
hoping against hope that he might soon hear from his lost brother.
AN ENCOUNTER ON THE ROAD
"I'll race you to the path," said Sam, when the woodshed was left
"All right," answered Tom, who was always ready to run. "Toe the
mark here. Now then—one, two, three! Go!"
And away they went across the meadow, leaping two ditches with the
agility of a pair of deer, and tearing through the small brush
beyond regardless of the briers and the rents their nether
garments might sustain. At first Tom took the lead, but Sam
speedily overhauled and then passed him.
"It's no use—you always could outrun me," panted Tom, as he
came to a stop when Sam crossed the footpath ten yards ahead of
him. "I can't understand it either. My legs are just as long as
yours, and my lungs just as big, too, I think."
"You want to do your running scientifically, Tom. That athletic
instructor in New York—"
"Oh, bother your scientific things, Sam! Uncle gives us enough of
that, so don't you start in. I wonder if Dick has got a letter
from Larry Colby? He promised to write last week. He is going to
a boarding school soon."
"We'll know in a few minutes. I wonder where Larry—Gracious,
Sam broke off short, as a loud cry for help reached their ears.
It came from the footpath, at a point where it ran through a grove
of beech trees.
"It's Dick's voice! He wants help!" burst from Tom's lips. "Come
on!" and he set off as rapidly as his exhausted condition would
permit. As before, Sam readily outdistanced him, and soon came
upon the scene of a most brutal encounter.
A burly tramp, all of six feet in height, had attacked Dick Rover
and thrown him upon his back. The tramp was now kneeling upon the
prostrate boy's chest, at the same time trying to wrench a watch
from Dick's vest pocket.
"Keep still there, or I'll knock you on the head!" cried the
tramp, as, letting go of the watch chain, he clapped a dirty hand
over Dick's mouth.
"I—won't—kee—keep still!" spluttered Dick. "Let—me—up!"
"You will keep still—if you know what is best for you. I have
your pocketbook, and now I am bound to have that watch and that
"No! Don't rob me of the watch! It belonged to my father!" panted
Dick, and as the watch came out of the pocket he made a clutch at
it. "Help! help!"
"Will you shut up!" burst out the tramp fiercely, and struck at
the youth with his fist.
It was at this juncture that Sam put in an appearance. A glance
told him how matters stood, and without waiting an instant he came
up behind the tramp, and, catching him by the shoulders, hurled
"Sam! Good for you!" burst out Dick joyfully. "Don't let him get
"What do you mean, boy?" demanded the ruffian, as he turned over
and leaped to his feet.
"You let my brother alone—that's what I mean," was the answer.
"Give me my pocketbook and that watch!" went on Dick, for the
tramp held both articles, one in each hand.
"Yes, I will—not," was the ready reply, turning, suddenly, the
tramp started through the grove of trees on a run.
Without waiting, Sam ran after him followed by Tom, who had now
arrived. Dick came behind, too much winded by being thrown on his
back to keep up with them.
"He is making for the river!" cried Tom, after running for several
minutes without gaining on the thief. "If he has a boat he'll get
"I don't think he has a boat, Tom. He looks like a regular
"We'll soon find out."
They could not see the ruffian, but they could hear him quite
plainly as he crashed through the brush beyond the grove of trees.
Then came a crash and a yell of pain.
"He has stumbled and fallen!" said Sam, and redoubled his speed.
Soon he reached the spot where the tramp had gone down. He was
about to proceed further when a well-known object caught his eye.
"Here is the pocketbook!" he burst out, and picked the article up.
A hasty examination showed that the contents were intact; and the
two boys continued the pursuit, with Dick still following.
They were now going downhill toward the river, and presently
struck a patch of wet meadow.
"We must be careful here," observed Tom, and just then sank up to
his ankles in water and mud. But the tramp could now be seen
heading directly for the river, and they continued to follow him.
They were still fifty yards from the shore when Sam uttered a cry
of dismay. "He's got a boat!"
"So he has. Stop there, you thief!"
"Stop yourself, or I'll shoot one of you!" growled the tramp, as
he leaped into a flat bottom craft moored beside a fallen tree.
He had no pistol, but thought he might scare the boys.
They came to a halt, and an instant later the flat-bottom craft
shot away from the river bank. By this time Dick came up, all out
"So he has gotten away!" he cried in dismay.
"Yes," answered Sam, "but here is your pocketbook."
"And what of my watch—the one father gave to me before he left
"He's got that yet, I suppose," said Tom.
At this Dick gave a groan, for the watch was a fine gold one which
Mr. Rover had worn for years. Dick had begged for the timepiece,
and it had been entrusted to him at the last moment.
"We must get that watch back somehow!" he said. "Isn't there
another boat around here?"
"There is one up to Harrison's farm."
"That is quarter of a mile away."
"I don't think there is any nearer."
"And the river is all of two hundred feet wide here! What shall
It was a puzzling question, and all three of the boys stared
blankly at each other. In the meantime, the thief had picked up a
pair of oars and was using them in a clumsy fashion which showed
plainly that he was not used to handling them.
"If we had a boat we could catch him easily," observed Tom. Then
his eyes fell upon the fallen tree. "I have an idea! Let us try
to get across on that! I won't mind a wetting if only we can get
Dick's watch back."
"Yes, yes; just the thing!" put in his elder brother quickly.
All hands ran down to the fallen tree, which was about a foot in
diameter and not over twenty-five or thirty feet in length. It
lay half in the water already, and it was an easy matter to shove
"We can't do much without oars or a pole," said Tom. "Wait a
moment," and he ran back to where he had seen another fallen tree,
a tall, slender maple sapling. He soon had this in hand; and,
cleared of its branches, it made a capital pole. Dick and Sam sat
astride of the tree in the water, and Tom stood against an upright
branch and shoved off. The river was not deep, and he kept on
reaching bottom without difficulty.
By this time the tramp was halfway across the stream, which was
flowing, rapidly and carrying both boat and tree down toward a
bend quarter of a mile below.
"Go on back, unless you want to be shot!" cried the man savagely,
but they paid no attention to the threat as no pistol appeared;
and, seeing this, the thief redoubled his efforts to get away.
He was still a quarter of the distance from the opposite shore,
and the boys on the tree were in midstream, when Sam uttered a
shout. "There goes one of his oars! We can catch him now—if
we try hard!"
It was true that the oar was gone, and in his anxiety to regain
the blade the tramp nearly lost the second oar. But his efforts
were unavailing, and he started to paddle himself to the bank,
meanwhile watching his pursuers anxiously.
"We'll get him," said Dick encouragingly, when, splash! Tom went
overboard like a flash, the lower end of his pole having slipped
on a smooth rock of the river bottom. There was a grand splutter,
and it was fully a minute before Tom reappeared—twenty feet
away and minus his pole.
"Hi! help me on board, somebody!" he spluttered, for he had gone
overboard so quickly that he had swallowed a large quantity of
Both Sam and Dick tried to reach him, but could not. Then the
current caught the tree and whirled it around and around until
both boys began to grow dizzy.
Seeing they could not aid him, and getting back a little of his
wind, Tom struck out for the tree. But the water running over his
face blinded him, and ere he knew he was so close the tree came
circling around and struck him on the side of the head.
"Oh!" he moaned, and sank from sight.
"Tom's hit!" gasped Sam. "He'll be drowned sure now!"
"Not if I can help him!" burst out Dick, and leaped overboard to
his brother's assistance. But Tom was still out of sight, and for
several seconds could not be located.
Sam waited anxiously, half of a mind to jump into the river
himself. The tramp was now forgotten, and landed on the opposite
bank unnoticed. He immediately dove into the bushes, and
disappeared from view.
At last Dick caught sight of Tom's arm and made a clutch for it.
Hardly had he taken hold than Tom swung around and caught him by
the throat in a deathlike grip, for he was too bewildered to know
what he was doing.
"Save me!" he groaned. "Oh, my head! Save me!"
"I will, Tom; only don't hold me so tight," answered Dick. "I—can't
get any air."
"I can't swim—I'm all upset," was the reply; and Tom clutched
his elder brother tighter than ever.
Seeing there was no help for it, Dick caught hold of the fingers
around his throat and forced them loose by main force. Then he
swung himself behind Tom and caught him under the arms, in the
meantime treading water to keep both of them afloat.
"Sam, can't you bring that tree closer?" he called out.
There was no reply, and, looking around, he saw that the tree and
his younger brother were a hundred yards away, and sailing down
the river as rapidly as the increasing current could, carry them
for quarter of a mile below were what were known as the Humpback
Falls—a series of dangerous rapids through which but few boats
had ever passed without serious mishap.
"I reckon Sam is having his hands full," he thought. "I must get
Tom to the shore alone. But it is going to be a tough job, I can
"Oh, Dick!" came from Tom. "My head is spinning like a top!"
"The tree hit you, Tom. But do keep quiet, and I'll take care of
"I can't swim—I feel like a wet rag through and through."
"Never mind about swimming. Only don't catch me by the throat
again, and we'll be all right," was Dick's reassuring reply, and
as his brother became more passive he struck out for the bank upon
which the thief had landed.
The current carried them on and on, but not so swiftly as it was
carrying the tree. Soon they were approaching the bend. Dick was
swimming manfully, but was
now all but exhausted.
"You can't make it, Dick," groaned Tom. "Better save yourself."
"And let you go? No indeed, Tom. I have a little strength left
and—Hurrah, I've struck bottom!"
Dick was right: his feet had landed on a sandbar; and, standing
up, both boys found the water only to their armpits. Under such
circumstances they waded ashore with care, and here threw
themselves down to rest.
"That thief is gone," said Dick dismally.
"And my watch too!"
"But where is Sam?" questioned Tom, then looked at his brother
"The Humpback Fall!" came from Dick. "Sam! Sam!" he yelled;
"look out where you are going!"
But no answer came back to his cry, for Sam had long since floated
out of hearing.
SAMS ADVENTURE AT HUMPBACK FALLS
For several minutes after Dick leaped overboard to Tom's
assistance, Sam's one thought was of his two brothers. Would they
reach the tree or the shore in safety? Fervently he prayed they
The tree went around and around, as a side current caught it, and
presently the whirlings became so rapid that Sam grew dizzy, and
had to hold tight to keep from falling off.
He saw Dick catch Tom from the back and start for shore, and then
like a flash the realization of his own situation dawned upon him.
He was on the tree with no means of guiding his improvised craft,
and sweeping nearer and nearer to the rapids of which he had heard
so much but really knew so little.
"I must get this tree to the river bank," he, said to himself, and
looked around for some limb which might be cut off and used for a
But no such limb was handy, and even had there been there would
have been no time in which to prepare it for use, for the rapids
were now in plain sight, the water boiling and foaming as it
darted over one rock and another, in a descent of thirty feet in
"This won't do!" muttered the boy, and wondered if it would not be
best to leap overboard and try to swim to safety. But one look at
that swirling current made
him draw back.
"I reckon I had best stick to the tree and trust to luck to pass
the rocks in safety," he muttered, and clutched the tree with a
firmer hold than ever.
The strange craft had now stopped circling, and was shooting
straight ahead for a rock that stood several feet above water. On
it went, and Sam closed his eyes in expectancy of an awful shock
which would pitch him headlong, he knew not to where.
But then came a swerve to the left, and the tree grated along the
edge of the rock. Before Sam could recover his breath, down it
went over the first line of rapids. Here it stuck fast for a
moment, then turned over and went on, throwing Sam on the under
The boy's feet struck bottom, and he bobbed up like a cork. Again
he clutched the tree, and on the two went a distance of ten feet
further. But now the tree became jammed between two other rocks,
and there it stuck, with Sam clutching one end and the water
rushing in, a torrent over the other.
For the moment the boy could do little but hold fast, but as his
breath came back to him he climbed on top of the tree and took a
look at the situation.
It was truly a dismaying one. He was in the very center of the
rapids, and the shore on either side of him was fifty to sixty
"How am I ever to get to the bank?" he asked himself. "I can't
wade or swim, for the current is far too strong. I'm in a pickle,
and no mistake. I wonder if Dick and Tom are on solid earth yet?"
He raised his voice into a shout, not once, but several times. At
first only the echoes answered him, but presently came a reply
from a distance.
"Sam! Sam! Where are you?" It was Dick calling, and he was
running along the bank alone, Tom being too exhausted to accompany
"Here I am—in the middle of the falls!"
"Out here—in the middle of the falls!"
"Great Caesar, Sam! Can't you wade ashore?"
"No; the current is so strong I am afraid to."
In a minute more Dick reached a spot opposite to where the tree
rested. As he took in the situation his face clouded in
"You are right—don't try wading," he, said. "If you do, you'll
have your skull cracked open on the rocks. I'll have to get a
rope and haul you off."
"All right; but do hurry, for this tree may start on again at any
To procure a rope was no easy matter, for nothing of that sort was
at hand, and the nearest farmhouse was some distance away. Yet,
without thinking twice, Dick set off for the farmhouse, arriving
there inside of five minutes.
"I need a rope, quick, Mr. Darrel," he said. "My brother is in
the middle of the Humpback Falls on a tree, and I want to save
"Why, Dick Rover, you don't tell me!" cried Joel Darrel, a farmer
who had often worked for Randolph Rover. "Sure I'll get a wash
line this minute!" and he ran for the kitchen shed.
Luckily the line was just where the farmer supposed it would be,
and away went man and boy, Dick leading, until the river bank was
"There he is, Mr. Darrel. How can we best help him, do you
The farmer scratched his head in perplexity.
"Hang me if I jess know, Dick," he said slowly.
"If we try to pull him straight to shore the current will carry
him over the rocks in spite of the line."
"How long do you suppose the line is?"
"It is fifty yards, and all good and strong, for I bought it of
Woddie only last week."
"Fifty yards—that is a hundred and fifty feet. Do you see that
spur of rock just above there?"
"Is it more than a hundred and fifty feet from that rock to the
"Hardly; but it's close figuring."
"Let us try the line and see."
Both walked up to the spur of rock they had in view. It jutted
out into the river for several yards, and was rather wet and
"Take care, or you'll go in too," cautioned Joel Darrel. "Shall I
throw the rope out?"
"You might try it," answered Dick. "I'll hold fast to your leg,"
and he squatted down for that purpose.
The line was uncoiled and thrown three times, but each time it
fell short and drifted inshore again.
"Hurry up!" suddenly yelled Sam. "The tree is beginning to turn,
and it will break loose before long."
"Let me try a throw," said Dick, and took the wash line. As he
made the cast, Tom came up on a walk, his head tied up in a
"Where is Sam?"
"Out there," said Joel Darrel, and watched the casting of the line
with interest. Again it fell short, but Dick's second throw was a
complete success, and soon Sam held the outer end of the line
"It reaches, and we have about fifteen feet to spare," said Dick
joyfully. "Sam, tie it around you." Scarcely had the word left
the younger brother's lips than the tree upon which he rested
wobbled and went over, and he found himself thrown into the
"Pull away, all hands!" cried Dick, and hauled in desperately,
while Joel Darrel did the same. Tom was not equal to the task,
but contented himself with holding fast to Dick's coat, that his
elder brother might not slip from the rock.
It was no light work to get Sam up the first rise of the rapids,
but once this rise was passed the rest was easy by comparison.
They pulled in steadily, and presently the boy reached the rock
and came up, looking very much like a dripping seal as he
clambered to safety.
"Thank fortune, you are safe!" cried Dick when it was all over;
and Tom said "Amen," under his breath. Joel Darrel looked well
satisfied as he coiled up the wash line.
"It was a narrow escape," he remarked presently. "You want to be
careful how you try to cross the river at this point. What were
you doing on the tree?"
"I was after a thief," answered Sam, and then he looked at Dick
and Tom. "Where is he?"
"Gone," returned Dick.
"A thief!" ejaculated Joel Darrel. "Whom did he rob?"
"He robbed me."
"Do tell, Dick! When?"
"About half an hour ago. I was coming from the Corners with the
mail, when he pounced on me near our berry patch and knocked me
down. He took my pocketbook and my watch, but Sam and Tom came
up, and we chased the fellow and got the pocketbook back."
"But he kept the watch?"
"Was it a good one?"
"It was a gold watch that my father paid sixty-five dollars for—and
the chain was worth ten; and, what is more, the watch was one my
father used to wear; and as he is gone now, I thought a good deal of
it on that account."
"That's natural, my boy. But where did the thief go?"
"Came across the river about quarter of a mile above here."
"Then he had a boat?"
"Yes—a craft painted brown, with a white stripe around her."
"That's Jerry Rodman's boat. He must have stolen her in the first
place to cross to your side."
"More than likely."
"But where did he go after he crossed the river?"
"Into the bushes, I guess. You see, Tom went overboard from the
tree and got struck, and I went to his assistance, so I didn't
notice exactly. I want to get back now and follow the rascal."
"I'll go along."
"I wish you would."
"In that case I won't try to keep up with you," put in Tom. "My
head is aching fit to split."
"Yes, you may as well take it easy," answered Dick. "But, say,
why not, walk up to the river road and see if the rascal heads in
"So I will, Dick. Will you go too, Sam?"
It was arranged that Sam should accompany and they set off
immediately, while Dick and Joel Darrel ran along the river bank
to where the rowboat had been abandoned.
Down where it was muddy it was easy to trace the tramp's
footprints, and they led through a meadow and across a cornfield,
coming out at a side road leading to the town of Oak Run.
"Well, where to next?" questioned the farmer, as he and Dick came
to a halt.
The youth shook his head. "It's so dry here the footprints are
lost," he returned slowly.
"That's true, Dick. But I reckon he went to Oak Run."
"Because he could catch a train from there which would take him
miles away—and I guess that is what he wants to do just about
"There is something in that."
"Besides, you know, the other end of the road ends up in the
woods. He wouldn't go there."
"I had best start for Oak Run, then."
"I'll go along."
The distance was a mile and a half, and they thought they would
have to walk it, but hardly had a dozen rods been covered than
they heard the sound of wagon wheels, and a grocery turnout and
came into sight driven by a boy Joel Darrel knew well.
"This comes in just right," observed Darrel to Dick. "Hi there,
Harry Oswald. Give us a lift to Oak Run, will you?"
"Certainly, Mr. Darrel," answered the grocery boy, and brought his
store wagon to a stop. The farmer leaped to the seat, and Dick
On the way Harry Oswald was made acquainted with the situation,
and he drove along with all possible speed. They were just
entering the outskirts of Oak Run when the whistle of a locomotive
"That's the down train for Middletown," cried Joel Darrel. "Hurry
The horse was whipped up, and they swept along to the depot at a
speed which made the constable of the town shake his fist at Harry
and threaten to arrest him for fast driving.
The words came from Dick, and he was right. Before the depot was
reached the long train had pulled out. Soon it was lost to sight
in the distance.
The thief was on it; and his escape, for the time being, was now
THE LAST DAY AT THE FARM
"What does this mean?"
It was Gilbert Ponsberry, the chief constable of Oak Run, who
spoke, as he strode up to the grocery wagon, all out of breath.
"Hullo, Ponsberry, you are just the man we want to see!" cried
Joel Darrel. "Did you notice who boarded that train?"
"No; I wasn't at the depot. Anything wrong?"
"I have been robbed of a gold watch and chain," answered Dick, and
related the particulars.
"Gee shoo! No wonder you drove fast," ejaculated the constable.
"I would have done so myself. How did that fellow look?"
As well as he was able, Dick gave a description of the thief.
"I saw that tramp yesterday," said the constable, when he had
finished. "He was in the depot, talking to a tall, thin man. I
remember him well, for he and the other fellow were quarreling. I
hung around rather expecting a fight. But it didn't come."
"You haven't seen the thief since yesterday?"
"You remember the tall, thin man he was with?"
"Oh, sure, for he had a scar on his chin that looked like a knife
"Is he anywhere around?"
"I haven't seen him since. Let us take a walk around, and we can
ask Ricks the station master about this."
"We had better ask Mr. Ricks first," said Dick.
All hands, even to the grocery boy, hunted up the station master,
an elderly fellow who was well known for his unsociable
"Don't know anything about any thief," he snapped, after hearing
the story. "I mind my own business."
"But he may have taken the train," pleaded Dick. It made his
heart sink to think that the watch, that precious memento from
his father, might be gone forever.
"Well, if he did, you had better go after him—or telegraph to
Middletown," was the short answer, and then the station master
"You telegraph for me," said Dick to the constable. "I will pay
"All right, Dick. My, but old Ricks is getting more grumpy every
day! If this railroad knows its business it will soon get another
manager here," was Gilbert Ponsberry's comment, as he led the way
to the telegraph office.
Here a telegram was prepared, addressed to the police officer on
duty at the Middletown station, and giving a fair description of
The train would reach the city in exactly forty-five minutes; and
as soon as the message had been sent, Dick, Darrel, and the
constable went off on a tour of Oak Run and the vicinity.
Of course nothing was seen of the thief, and in an hour word came
back from Middletown that he was not on the cars.
This was true, for the train had stopped at a way station, having
broken something on the engine, and the thief had left, to walk
the remainder of the distance to Middletown on foot.
It was not until nightfall that Dick returned to his uncle's
Here he found that Sam and Tom had already arrived. Tom was lying
on the sofa in the sitting room, being cared for by his Aunt
Martha, who was the best of nurses whenever occasion required.
"Didn't find any trace of the villain?" queried Randolph Rover,
with a sad shake of his head. "Too bad! Too bad! And it was
your father's watch, too!"
"I never wanted to see Dick wear it," put in Mrs. Rover. "It was
too fine for a boy."
"Father told me to wear it, aunty. He said it would remind me of
him," answered Dick, and he turned away, for something like a tear
had welled up in his eye.
"There, there, Dick, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," cried
his aunt hastily. "I would give a good deal if you had your watch
Supper was waiting, but Dick had no appetite, and ate but little.
Tom braced up sufficiently to take some toast and tea, and
declared that he would be all right by morning and so he was.
"Here is a letter for Tom from Larry Colby," cried Dick during the
course, of the evening.
"I declare, I forgot all about it, Tom, until this minute."
"I don't blame you, Dick," was the reply, with a sickly smile.
"You read it for me. The light hurts my head," and Tom closed his
eyes to listen.
Larry Colby was a New York lad who in years gone by had been one
of Tom's chums. The letter was just such a one as any boy might
write to another, and need have no place here. Yet one paragraph
interested everybody in the sitting room:
"Next week I am to pack my trunk and go to Putnam Hall Military
Academy [wrote Larry Colby]. Father says it is a very fine
military, school, and he has recommended it to your uncle."
"Putnam Hall Military Academy!" mused Tom. "I wonder where it
"It is over in Seneca County, on Cayuga Lake," replied Randolph
Rover, and something like a smile appeared on his face.
"On Cayuga Lake, uncle!" cried Sam. "Why, that's a splendid
location, isn't it?"
"And is that where we are to go?" put in Tom eagerly.
"Yes, Thomas; I might as well tell you, although I wanted to
surprise you. You are to go to Putnam Hall, and there you will
have with you Lawrence Colby, Frank Harrington, and several other
lads with whom you are all acquainted."
"Hurrah, Uncle Randolph!" came from Sam, and rushing up, he caught
his relative around the shoulder. "You're the best kind of uncle,
"Putnam Hall is an institution of learning that has been
established for some twenty years," went on Mr. Rover, pushing
back his spectacles and laying down the agricultural work he had
been perusing. "It is presided over by Captain Victor Putnam, an
old army officer, who in his younger days used to be a
schoolmaster. He is a strict disciplinarian, and will make you
toe the mark; but let me say right here, I have it from Mr. Colby
that there is no schoolmaster who is kinder or more considerate of
"Is it a regular military institution like West Point?" asked Tom.
"Hardly, Thomas, although the students, so I am informed, dress
like cadets and spend an hour or so each day in drilling, and in
the summer all the school march up the lake and go into an
"That just suits me!" broke in Sam enthusiastically. "Hurrah for
"Hurrah!" echoed Tom faintly, and Dick nodded to show he felt as
they did. At the cheer, Sarah the cook stuck her head into the
"Sure an' I thought Tom was out of his head, bedad," she observed.
"Sarah, I'm going away soon—to a military academy. I won't
bother you any more," said Tom.
"Won't yez now? That will be foine." Then the cook stopped
short, thinking she had hurt the boy's feelings. "Oh, Master
Tom, don't moind me. You're not such an—an awful bother as we
think," and then at a wave of Mrs. Rover's hand she disappeared.
After this the evening passed quickly enough, for the boys wanted
to know all there was to be learned about their future boarding
school. Mr. Rover had a circular of the institution, and they
pored over this.
"Captain Victor Putnam is the head master," said Dick, as he read.
"He has two assistants, Josiah Crabtree and George Strong, besides
two teachers who come in to give instructions in French and
German if desired, also in music. Uncle Randolph, are we to take
up these branches?"
"I am going to leave you to select your own studies outside of the
regular course, Richard. What would be the use of taking up
music, for instance, if you were not musically inclined."
"I'd like to play a banjo," said Tom, and grinned as well as the
bandage on his head, would permit.
"I doubt if the professor of music teaches that plantation
instrument," smiled Mrs. Rover. Then she patted Tom's shoulder
Now the boys were really to leave her, she was sorry to think of
"They will not take more than a hundred pupils," said Dick,
referring to the circular again. "I should say that was enough.
The pupils are divided into two companies, A and B, of about fifty
soldiers each; and the soldiers elect their own officers, to serve
during the school term. Tom, perhaps you may turn out captain of
"And you may be Major Dick Rover of the first battalion," returned
Tom. "Say, but this suits me to death, Uncle Randolph."
"I am glad to hear it, Thomas. But I want you to promise me to
attend to your studies. Military matters are all well enough in
their way, but I want you to have the benefits of a good
"Oh, I fancy Captain Victor Putnam will attend to that," put in
The circular was read from end to end, and it was after ten
o'clock before the boys got done talking about it and went to bed.
Certainly the prospect was a bright one, and if poor Dick had only
had his watch the three would have been in high feather. Little
did they dream, of all the startling adventures in store for them
during their term at Putnam Hall.
It must not be supposed that Mr. Randolph Rover intended to allow
the theft of Dick's watch to pass without a strong effort being
made to recover the article. Early in the morning he drove to the
Corners, and to Oak Run and another village called Bender's, and
at each place had a notice posted, mentioning the loss and
offering a reward of fifty dollars for the recovery of the
property and of one hundred dollars if the thief was captured in
addition. This offer, however, proved of no avail, and Dick had
to leave for Putnam Hall wearing his old silver watch, which he
had put aside upon the receipt of the gold timepiece.
It was a clear, sun-shiny morning when the boys started off. They had
paid a last visit to the various points of interest about the place
and bid good-by to Sarah, who shook hands warmly, and said farewell to
the hired men, both of whom hated them to leave, for they had made
matters pleasant as well as lively. Their three trunks were loaded in
a farm wagon, and now Jack, one of the men-of-all-work, drove up with
the two seated carriage to drive them over to Oak Run by way of the
river bridge, half a mile up the stream.
"Good-by, Uncle Randolph!" cried one after another, as they shook
hands. "Good-by, Aunt Martha!" and each gave Mrs. Rover a hug and
a kiss, something which brought the tears to the lady's eyes.
"Good-by, boys, and take good care of yourselves," said Randolph
"And if you can't stand it at boarding school, write, and we will
send for you to come back here," added his wife; and then, with a
crack of the whip, the carriage rolled off, and the farm was left
behind. It was to be many a day before the boys would see the
ON THE WAY TO PUTNAM HALL
"I don't think we'll want to send word to Aunt Martha to be taken
back," observed Sam, who sat on the driver's seat with the hired
"Neither do I," returned Tom. "To be sure, we have a nice enough
home here, but it's dreadfully slow."
"There is no telling what may be in store for us," joined in Dick.
"Don't you remember how Fred Garrison fared at Holly School? That
institution sent out a splendid circular, and when Fred got there
they almost starved him to death."
"That is true. Where is Fred now?"
"I don't know."
"Mr. Colby wouldn't recommend Putnam Hall if it wasn't all right,"
remarked Tom. "Jack, whip up the team, or we'll miss that train."
"They are going putty well now, Master Tom," replied the driver.
The trunks had gone on ahead, and when they reached the depot at
Oak Run they found old Ricks grumbling because no one was there to
"Do you reckon I'm going to be responsible for everybody's
baggage?" he snarled as Dick approached him.
"I'll check them as soon as I can get tickets," answered Dick
curtly. "What an old bear he is!" he whispered to Tom. "He
didn't treat me half decently when I was over here about the
"If only we had a little time I would fix him," whispered Tom in
return. He had sobered down for several days now and was dying to
play a trick on somebody.
They went into the station and procured tickets, and then found
the time for the train had been changed, and it would not be along
for nearly half an hour.
"Good! Just wait till I get back," said Tom.
He had noticed Ricks gathering up some waste paper around the
depot, and felt tolerably certain the old fellow was about to
build a bonfire of it. Walking over to one of the stores, he
entered, and asked the proprietor if he had any large firecrackers
"Just two, sir," said the storekeeper, and brought them forth.
Each was six inches long and thick in proportion.
"How much?" asked the boy.
"Seeing as they are the last I have, I'll let you have them for
fifteen cents each."
"I'll give you a quarter for the two."
"Very well; here you are," and the transfer was made on the spot.
Slipping the firecrackers into his coat pocket, Tom sauntered up
to old Ricks, while Sam and Dick looked on, sure that something
was in the wind.
"Ricks, that is pretty bad news from Middletown, isn't it?" he
"Bad news? What do you mean?" demanded the station master, as he
threw some more waste paper on the fire, which he had just lit.
"About that dynamite being stolen by train wreckers. They think
some of the explosive was brought up here."
"Didn't hear of it."
"Dynamite is pretty bad stuff to have around, so I've heard."
"Awful! Awful! I never want to see any of it," answered Ricks,
with a decided shake of his head.
"If it goes off it's apt to blow everything to splinters," went on
"That's so—I don't want any of it," and the old man began to
gather up more waste paper for his fire. Watching his chance,
Tom threw one of the firecrackers into the blaze and then
rejoined his brothers.
With a handful of paper Ricks again approached the blaze. He was
standing almost over it when the firecracker went off, making a
tremendous report and scattering the light blazing paper in all
"Help! I'm killed!" yelled old Ricks, as he fell upon his back.
"Get me away from here! There's dynamite in this fire!" And he
rolled over, leapt to his feet, and ran off like a madman.
"Don't be alarmed—it was only a firecracker," called out Tom,
loud enough for all standing around to hear, and then he ran for
the train, which had just come in. Soon he and his brothers were
on board and off, leaving poor Ricks to be heartily laughed at by
those who had observed his sudden terror. It was many a day
before the cranky station master heard the last of his dynamite.
The boys were to ride from Oak Run to Ithaca, and there take a
small steamer which ran from that city to the head of the lake,
stopping at Cedarville, the nearest village to Putnam Hall. At
Cedarville one of the Hall conveyances was to meet them, to
transfer both them and their baggage to the institution.
The run to Ithaca proved uneventful although the boys did not tire
of looking out of the window at the beautiful panorama rushing
past them. At noon they had lunch in the dining car, a spread
that Sam declared was about as good as a regular dinner. Three
o'clock in the afternoon found them at the steamboat landing,
waiting for the Golden Star to take them up to Cedarville.
"Fred Garrison, by all that's lucky!" burst out Tom suddenly, as
he rushed up to a youth of about his own age who sat on a trunk
eating an apple.
"Tom Rover! Where are you bound?"
"To a boarding school called Putnam Hall."
"You don't say! Why, I am going there myself," and now Fred
Garrison nearly wrung off Tom's hand.
"If this isn't the most glorious news yet!" burst in Dick. "Why,
Larry Colby is going too!"
"I know it. But he won't come until tomorrow."
"And Frank Harrington is going too."
"He is there, already—he wrote about it day before yesterday.
That makes six of us New York, boys."
"The metropolitan sextet," chirped in Sam.
"Boys, we ought to form a league to stand by each other through
thick or thin."
"I'm with you on that," answered Fred. "As we are all newcomers,
it's likely the old scholars will want to haze us, or, something
"Just let them try it on!" cried Tom. "Yes, we must stick
together by all means." And the compact, so far as it concerned
the Rover boys and Fred Garrison, was made on the spot. Later on
Larry Colby and Frank Harrington joined them gladly.
It was not long before the Golden Star, a stanch little side-wheeler,
steamed up to the dock, and the waiting crowd rushed on board and
secured favorable places on deck. The baggage followed, and soon they
were off, with a whistle which awoke the echoes of Cayuga Lake for
While waiting on the dock Dick had noticed three girls standing
near them. They were evidently from the rural district, but
pretty and well dressed. The boys took seats near the bow of the
boat, on the upper deck, and presently the girls sat down not far
"He was awfully bold, Clara; I want nothing to do with him," Dick
heard the prettiest of the girls say. "He had no right to speak
"He had dropped his handkerchief, and he pretended I was stepping
on it," said another of the three. "Oh, here he comes now!" she
went on as a youth of seventeen came into view. He was large and
bold-looking, and it was easy to see that there was a good deal of
the bully about him. He was smoking a cigarette, but on seeing
the girls he threw the paper roll away.
"How do you do again?" he said, as he came up and tipped his hat.
At this all of the girls looked angry, and not one returned his
salutation. But, undaunted by this, the newcomer caught up a camp
stool and planked himself down almost directly between the
prettiest of the three and her companions.
"Splendid day for the trip," he went on.
"Won't you have some confectionery?" and he hauled from his pocket
a box of cream chocolates and held them out.
"Thank you, but we don't wish any," said the youngest of the
"Won't you have some?" asked the unknown of the eldest girl.
"I don't want any, and I told you before not to speak to me!" she
said in a low voice, and the tears almost came into her eyes.
"I ain't going to hurt you," grumbled the young fellow. "Can't a
fellow be pleasant like?"
"I do not know you, sir."
"Oh, that's all right. My name is Daniel Baxter. Sorry I
haven't a card, or I would give you one," was the smooth
"I do not wish your card," was the answer delivered in the most
positive of tones.
"Oh, all right. Yes, it's a splendid trip," said the fellow, and
drew his camp chair even closer. The girls wished to edge away,
but there was no room in the narrow bow. The eldest girl looked
around as if for help. Her eyes met those of Dick, and she
"Say, that fellow is a regular pill," whispered Tom to his elder
"Somebody ought to take him by the collar and pitch him
"You are right, Tom," answered Dick, and then as the bully
attempted to crowd still closer to the girls he suddenly arose,
took a few steps forward, and caught Dan Baxter by the arm.
"You get out of here and be quick about it," he said in low but
The fellow started, and for the instant his face changed color.
But then he saw that Dick was but a boy, younger and smaller than
himself, and his bullying manner returned. "Who are you talking
to?" he demanded.
"I am talking to you. I told you to get out—and be quick about
"Oh," cried the eldest girl, but her face took on a look of relief,
for she saw that Dick was a thoroughly gentlemanly youth.
"Who are you anyway?" blustered Dan Baxter.
"My name is Dick Rover, if you want, to know." Dick turned to the
girls. "He was annoying you, wasn't he?"
"Very much," answered the three promptly.
"Then you'll get out, Daniel Baxter."
"Supposing I refuse?"
"If you refuse, I'll pitch you out, and make a complaint to the
police at our first stopping place."
"You talk big!" sneered the bully, but he was much disconcerted.
"Don't you talk back to my brother," put in Tom, who had come up.
"You think you're a regular masher, as they call such silly
fellows, but I don't think your game is going to work here."
"That's it," chimed in Sam.
"Humph! three of you, eh?" muttered the bully. "We'll see about
this some other time," and leaving his camp chair he made for the
cabin and disappeared, from view.
"He's a bad egg," was Tom's comment, but how thoroughly bad the
Rover boys were still to learn.
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
"I must thank you for ridding us of that fellow," said one of the
girls. "He has annoyed us several times."
"It was a pleasure to assist you," answered Dick, with the
politeness of a dancing master, and tipped his hat; and his
brothers and Fred Garrison did the same.
After this there seemed nothing to do but to be introduced, and
Dick did this for the boys, while the eldest girl acted for
herself and her companions.
"My name is Dora Stanhope," she said. "These are my cousins
Nellie and Grace Laning. We live at Cedarville."
"Just the place we are going to!" cried Tom. "We are bound for
Putnam Hall. I suppose you know the place?"
"We do—very well," answered Dora Stanhope. "It is less than
quarter of a mile away from our farm."
"And it is quite near to our place too," added Nellie Laning.
"Then perhaps we'll see more of each other," remarked Fred
"Perhaps; but isn't Captain Putnam rather strict about letting you
boys out?" questioned, Dora.
"We don't know yet—we are newcomers."
"Newcomers!" cried Nellie. "Then you don't know that fellow who
was just here?"
"No. Does he belong at Putnam Hall?"
"Yes. I know nothing of him, however, further than that I have
seen him several times on the Hall road."
Dick gave a low whistle.
"Perhaps we've put our foot in it," remarked Sam in a low tone to
"Never mind; we did what was right," answered Dick. "No fellow is
justified in acting as Dan Baxter did."
"Tell us something about Putnam Hall, won't you?" said Fred
Garrison, after a pause.
At this the three girls laughed.
"What should we know about that place?" asked Dora. "We have
never been inside, excepting at one Christmas entertainment."
"But you must see some of the fellows occasionally."
"Not often," said Grace Laning. "Captain Putnam does not allow
his pupils to leave the grounds excepting on special occasions.
But papa caught three of the pupils in our strawberry patch once."
"He did? And what happened to the fellows?" put in Tom with deep
"Father made them pick twelve quarts of berries for him for
nothing, and didn't let them eat a single one."
"Great Caesar! What a fine fellow your dad—I mean your father—must
"Of course he is fine. The boys had no right to attempt stealing
the berries. My father would have given them some for the
"But they wouldn't have been half as sweet as if they were hooked
on the sly," said Tom wisely, and everybody laughed.
"You boys ought to have fine times at Putnam Hall," went on Dora
to Dick. "I sometimes see the soldier boys marching; and once,
last summer, I visited their encampment."
"We are looking forward to a good time,"' was the answer. "And I
trust we see you again," went on Dick; and Dora blushed prettily.
The Golden Star was now approaching a little landing known as
Hopedale, and all left their chairs to see the village, and people
getting on and off. It was an engaging scene, and the did not
return to the bow of the boat until ten minutes later, after
taking a walk completely around the steamer's deck.
In the bow a surprise awaited them. During their absence Dan
Baxter had appropriated four of their camp chairs and was
stretched out on them as if in sleep.
"Oh, what a cheek!" cried Tom.
"Let us haul him off," suggested Sam.
"All right, come ahead," put in Fred.
"Oh, please don't have another row with him!" cried Dora in alarm.
"Let him keep the seats. We can go somewhere else."
"All right, let the pig sleep," said Dick.
He felt tolerably certain that Dan Baxter was awake and heard him,
but the bully made no sign.
The party walked away, and the bully sneered softly to himself.
"They didn't dare to tackle me," was what he thought in his
conceit. "I'd like to meet 'em one by one alone. I'd show each a
trick or two."
At last Cedarville was reached and the little steamer tied up at
the dock, and the boys and girls went ashore. Just before
leaving, Dick took a look at Dan Baxter and saw that he was now
sleeping in earnest.
"I won't wake him," he thought. "If he is carried to the head of
the lake, it will only serve him right."
Once on the dock, he and Fred hurried off to see about the baggage,
and while they were gone a well-dressed and pleasant-looking farmer
came up and kissed each of the girls. It was Mr. Laning.
"I hope you had a nice visit to Cousin May's," he said. "Come,
the carriage is waiting out in the street."
And he hurried the girls away before they had hardly time to say
"Nice girls," remarked Tom.
"Yes, indeed," answered Sam. "Hope we see them again."
"We won't have much of a chance if what they say about Putnam Hall
is true, Sam. Evidently Captain Putnam believes in keeping his
pupils well in hand."
"Well, Uncle Randolph believes we ought to be taken well in
Dick and Fred returned presently, bringing with them a tall, lean
man of apparently fifty.
"Boys," cried Fred, "let me introduce you to Mr. Peleg
Snugsomebody, general utility man at Putnam Hall."
"Peleg Snuggers, please," said the man meekly. "Excuse me, but I
was sent to bring you to the Hall."
"Do we walk?" demanded Tom.
"No, sir; the carryall is out on the street, and my boy Pete has
the wagon for your trunks."
"The trunks are already in the wagon," said Dick. "Come ahead."
"How many of you, please?" went on Peleg Snuggers.
"There is only one of me, thank you," answered Tom meekly.
"Don't joke me so early in the term, please," said the utility man
pleadingly. "Goodness knows, I'll get more than my share between
now and Christmas. I mean, how many it the party?"
"Five of us, Mr. Sluggrub."
"Snuggers, please; Peleg Snuggers—an easy name to remember when
you get the swing of it, sir."
"To be sure, Smullers. Yes, there are exactly five of us," and
Tom winked at his companions.
"That's all right; the captain said to bring five. Where is the
"The other boy. I see only four of you."
"You asked me how many there were in the party, Mr. Snugbug."
"Yes, sir; and you said five."
"Four of us, and only one of you. Isn't that five—or do they
have a different kind of arithmetic at Putnam Hall from what I
have been studying?"
"Please don't joke, Master Rover, please don't. I was to bring five
boys." The utility man drew a slip of paper from his pocket. "Four new
boys—Richard, Samuel, and Thomas Rover and—Frederick Garrison—and
Corporal Daniel Baxter."
"Gracious, the bully is a corporal at the Hall!" came from Sam in
so low a tone that Snuggers did not catch it.
"The corporal isn't present," said Fred, gazing around absently.
"So he isn't. Must have missed the boat. Come along, please,"
and Peleg Snuggers led the way to where a large and extra-heavy
carryall stood. A splendid team of iron-grays was attached to the
carriage; and Dick, who loved good horseflesh, could not help but
admire the animals.
"Oh, they are fine, Master Richard," said Snuggers. "Nothing
finer on the lake shore. Captain Putnam's one recreation is to
drive behind a fast team."
"Is it? I wish he would take me out with him some time."
"Always drives alone. Reckon it kind of quiets him, after a noisy
time with the boy."
They were soon on the way, which led out of Cedarville and over a
hill fronting the lake.
"By the way, do you know where the farms belonging to Mr. Stanhope
and to Mr. Laning are located?" asked Tom, when they were well out
of the village.
"Mr. Stanhope, sir? There isn't any Mr. Stanhope. He died two
years ago. That place you see away over yonder is Mrs. Stanhope's
"She has a daughter Dora?"
"Yes," Peleg Snuggers paused for a moment. "They say the widder
thinks of marrying again."
"Is that so!" put in Dick, and then he wondered if Dora would be
pleased with her stepfather. "So that is the place?"
"Yes, sir; two hundred and fifty acres, and the fittest dairy in
these parts. If the widder marries again, her husband will fall
into a very good thing. The dairy company at Ithaca once offered
fifty thousand dollars for the cattle and land."
"Gracious!" came from Tom. "We've been chumming with an heiress.
Are the Lanings rich, too?"
"Very well to do. That is their place, that side road. Here is
where we turn off to get to the Hall. Captain Putnam had this
road made when the Hall was first built."
The road was one of cracked stone, as smooth as a huge iron roller
could make it. They bowled along at a rapid rate, under the wide
spreading branches of two rows of stately maples. They were close
to the lake, and occasional glimpses of water could be caught
through the tree branches.
"It is certainly a splendid locality for a boarding academy," was
Dick's comment. "My, what pure air—enough to make a sick boy
strong! Do you have much sickness at the Hall?"
"Very little, sir. The captain does not let a cast of sickness
stand, but calls in Dr. Fremley at once."
"That is where he is level-headed," said Fred. "My father said I
was to call for a doctor the minute I felt at all sick."
They were now approaching Putnam Hall, but there was still another
turn to make. As they swept around this, they came upon a tramp,
half asleep under a tree. The tramp roused up at the sounds of
carriage wheels and looked first at the driver of the carryall and
then at the four boys.
"Phew!" he ejaculated, and lost no time in diving out of sight
into some brush back of the row of maples.
"Hullo, who was that?" cried Sam.
"A tramp, I reckon," answered the utility man. "We are bothered a
good deal with them."
"Begging at the Hall for the left-overs?"
"Exactly. The captain is too kind-hearted. He ought to drive 'em
all away," answered Peleg Snuggers; and then the carryall passed
When it was gone, and the wagon with the trunks had followed, the
tramp came out of the brush and gazed after both turnouts. "Say,
Buddy Girk, but dat was a narrow escape," he muttered to himself.
"Wot brought dem young gents to dis neighborhood? It can't be
possible da have tracked me—an' so quick." He hesitated. "I
t'ink I had better give dis neighborhood de go-by," and he dove
into the brush again. He was the rascal who had stolen Dick's
TOM GETS INTO TROUBLE
Putnam Hall was a fine building of brick and stone, standing in
the center of a beautiful parade ground of nearly ten acres. In
front of the parade ground was the wagon road, and beyond was a
gentle slope leading down to the lake. To the left of the
building was a playground hedged in by cedars, at one corner of
which stood a two-story frame building used as a gymnasium. To
the right was a woods, while in the rear were a storehouse, a
stable, and several other outbuildings, backed up by some farm
lands, cultivated for the sole benefit of the institution, so that
the pupils were served in season with the freshest of fruits and
The Hall was built in the form of the letter F, the upright line
forming the front of the building and the other lines representing
wings in the rear. There were three entrances—one for the
teachers and senior class in the center, one for the middle
classes on the right, and another for the youngest pupils on the
left. There were, of course, several doors in the rear in
The entire ground floor of the Hall was given over to class and
drill rooms. The second floor was occupied by Captain Putnam and
his staff of assistants and the pupils as living and sleeping
apartments, while the top floor was used by the servants, although
there were also several dormitories there, used by young boys, who
came under the care of Mrs. Green, the housekeeper.
Captain Victor Putnam was a bachelor. A West Point graduate, he
had seen gallant service in the West, where he had aided the
daring General Custer during many an Indian uprising. A fall from
a horse, during a campaign in the Black Hills, had laid him on a
long bed of sickness, and had later on caused him to retire from
the army and go back to his old profession of school teaching. He
might have had a position at West Point as an instructor, but he
had preferred to run his own military academy.
"Hurrah, here we are at last!" cried Fred Garrison, as the
carryall swept into view of the Hall. "I see twenty or thirty of
the students, and all togged out in soldier clothes!"
"I suppose we'll be wearing suits soon,", answered Tom. "By
George! I'm going to give them a salute."
(For the doings of the Putnam Hall students previous to the
arrival at that institution of the Rover boys see "The Putnam Hall
Series," the first volume of which is entitled, "The Putnam Hall
"How?" asked Sam.
"Never mind. Just wait and see."
In a minute more they swept up to the gateway leading to the
parade ground. Some of the pupils had seen the carriage coming,
and they ran down to learn if any old friends had arrived.
"Hullo!" yelled several.
"Hullo yourself!" came in return, and then Tom drew out the
firecracker still in his pocket and lit it on the sly. Just as it
was about to explode he threw it up into the air.
Bang! The report was loud and clear, and everybody within hearing
rushed to the spot to see what it meant. There were forty or
fifty pupils and two assistant teachers, but Captain Putnam had
"Hi! Hi! What does this mean?" came in a high-pitched voice, and
Josiah Crabtree, the first assistant, rushed up to the carryall.
"What was that exploded?"
"A big firecracker, sir," answered Peleg Snuggers.
"And who exploded it?"
Before the utility man could answer there came a cry from the
"Don't peach, Peleg, don't peach!"
"Silence, boys!" burst from Josiah Crabtree wrathfully. "Such a
disturbance is against the rules of this institution."
"We didn't fire the cracker," piped up a tall, slim boy. "It came
from the carriage."
"Mumps, you're nothing but a sneak and tattle-tale," was the reply
to this, from several older cadets; and, afraid of having his ears
boxed on the sly, John Fenwick, nicknamed Mumps by everybody in
the Hall, ran off.
"Which of you fired the cracker?" demanded Josiah Crabtree,
advancing to the carriage step.
There was no reply, and he turned to the driver.
"Snuggers, what have you to say?"
"I can't say anything, sir. I was taking care of the horses,
sir," answered the hired man meekly.
"I will find out who fired the cracker before I have finished with
you," growled the head assistant. "Get down and march into the
"Gracious, what have we struck now?" whispered Fred to Dick.
"Is this Captain Putnam?" asked Dick, without answering his chum.
"No, young man; I am Josiah Crabtree, A. M., Captain Putnam's
first assistant. And you are—" He paused.
"I am Dick Rover, sir. These are my brothers, Tom and Sam."
"And I am Fred Garrison," finished that youth.
"Very good. I hope, Richard, that you were not guilty of firing
"Was there any great harm in giving a… a salute upon our
"Such a thing is against the rules of the institution. Article 29
says, 'No pupil shall use any firearms or explosive at any time
excepting upon special permission'."
"We are not pupils yet, Mr. Crabtree."
"That argument will not pass, sir. So you fired the cracker?
Very well. Mr. Strong!"
The second assistant came up. He was a man of not over twenty-five,
and his face was mild and pleasant.
"What is it, Mr. Crabtree."
"You will take charge of the other new pupils, while I take charge
of the one who has broken our rules on his very arrival."
"Hold on!" cried Tom. "What are you going to do with my brother?"
"That is… none of your business, Master Rover. You will go with
"He didn't fire the cracker. I did that! And I'm not ashamed of
it. I wasn't a pupil when I did it, and I'm not a pupil now, so I
can't see how you can punish me for breaking one of your rules."
At this there came a titter from the cadets gathered around.
Hardly any of them liked Josiah Crabtree, who was dictatorial
beyond all reason. The head assistant flushed up.
"You are a pupil here, and I will show you that you cannot break
our rules with impunity, and be impudent to me in the bargain!"
cried Crabtree. "Come with me!" And he caught Tom by the arm,
while Dick and the others were led off in another direction.
"Surely, this is a fine beginning," thought Tom as he walked
along. He was half inclined to break away, but concluded to await
"Are you going to take me to Captain Putnam?" he questioned.
"We do not permit cadets placed under arrest to ask questions."
"Great smoke! Am I under arrest?"
"Perhaps you'll want to hang me next."
"Silence! Or I shall be tempted to sentence you to a caning."
"You'll never cane me, sir."
"Silence! You have evidently been a wayward boy at home. If so
it will be best for you to remember that all that is now at an
end, and you must behave yourself and obey orders."
"Can't a fellow breathe without permission?"
"How about if I want a drink of water?"
"Silence, I say!" stormed Josiah Crabtree. "I'll warrant you'll
not feel so smart by the time you are ready to leave Putnam Hall."
There was a silence after this, as the head assistant led the way
into the building and conducted Tom to a small room looking out
toward the rear.
"You will remain here, Rover, until Captain Putnam returns."
"How long will that be?"
"Didn't I tell you not to ask questions?"
"But Captain Putnam may not return for a day or a month," went on
"Captain Putnam will be back in an hour or two." Without another
word, Josiah Crabtree turned and left the room, locking the door
"Well, by crickety!" came from the boy when he was left alone.
"I've put my foot into it from the very start. I wonder what
Captain Putnam will say to this? If he's half as sour minded as
old Crabtree, I'll catch it. But I haven't done anything wrong,
and they shan't cane me—and that's flat!" and he shook his
curly head decidedly.
The room was less than ten feet square and plainly furnished with
two chairs and a small couch. In one corner was a washstand
containing a basin and a pitcher of water.
"This looks a good deal like a cell," he mused as he gazed around.
Suddenly his eyes caught some writing on the wall in lead pencil.
He stepped over to read it.
"Josiah Crabtree put me here,
And I am feeling very queer;
He boxed my ears and pulled my hair
Oh, when I'm free won't I get square!"
"Somebody else has been here before me," thought Tom. "I rather
reckon I'll get square too. Hullo, here's another Whittier or
"In this lock-up I'm confined;
If I stay long I'll lose my mind.
Two days and nights I've paced the floor,
As many others have before."
"I hope I don't stay two days and nights," said Tom half aloud.
Then he walked to the single window of the apartment to find that
it was heavily barred.
"No escaping that way," he went on to read another inscription,
this time in blank verse:
"And I am jugged,
Alone in solitude, and by myself
Alone. I sit and think, and think,
And think again. Old Crabtree,
Base villain that he is, hath put me here!
And why? Ah, thereby hangs a tale, Horatio!
His teeth, the teeth that chew the best of steak
Set on our table—those I found and hid;
And Mumps, the sneak, hath told on me! Alas!
When will my martyrdom end?"
"Good for the chap who hid the teeth!" continued Tom, and smiled
as he thought of the rage Crabtree must have been in when he
discovered that his false teeth were gone. A rattle in the
keyhole disturbed him, and he dropped onto a chair just as the
head assistant again appeared.
"I want the keys to your trunk and your satchel," he said.
"What for, sir?"
"Didn't I tell you before not to ask questions?"
"But my keys are my own private property, and so is what is in the
trunk and the satchel."
"All pupils' baggage is examined, Rover, to see that nothing
improper is introduced into the Hall."
"Want to see if I've got any more firecrackers?"
"We do not allow dime novels, or, eatables, or other things that
might harm our pupils."
"Eating never harmed me, sir."
"Sometimes parents load up their boys with delicacies which are
decidedly harmful. Come, the keys."
Josiah Crabtree's tones were so harsh that Tom's heart rebelled on
"I shan't give them to you, Mr. Crabtree. You have no right to
place me here. I wish to see the proprietor, Captain Putnam, at
"Do you—er—refuse to recognize my authority over you?" cried
Josiah Crabtree passionately.
"I do, sir. When I have met Captain Putnam and been enrolled as a
cadet it may be different. But at present I am not a cadet and
not under your authority."
"We'll see, boy, we'll see!" came hotly from the head assistant.
"Before I am done with you, you will be sorry that you have defied
And with these words he went out, slamming the door after him.
Tom had made an enemy at the very start of his career as a cadet.
A MEETING IN THE MESSROOM
In the meantime Dick, Sam, and Fred had been having quite a
different experience. George Strong, the second assistant at
Putnam: Hall, was not only a first-class teacher, but a calm and
fair-minded gentleman as well; and in addition, and this was
highly important, he was not so old but that he could remember
perfectly well when he had been a boy himself.
"Come this way, my lads," he said with a faint smile. "I trust
you will soon feel at home in Putnam Hall. It is Captain Putnam's
desire to have all of his boys, as he calls them, feel that way."
"What will Mr. Crabtree do with my brother?" asked Dick anxiously.
"I cannot say, Rover. Probably he will place him in the guardroom
until Captain Putnam arrives."
"I am sure he didn't do much that was wrong."
"We had better not discuss that question, my boy. Come this way;
I will conduct you to your room."
"George Strong showed them into the main hallway and up the stairs
to the second story. Passing through a side hall, they entered a
large, bright dormitory overlooking the parade- and the
playground. Here were eight beds, four on either side, with as
many chairs, and also a table and two washbowls, with running
water supplied from a tower on the roof, the water being pumped up
by the aid of a windmill.
"This room has not been occupied this year," said the teacher.
"Captain Putnam and Mrs. Green, our housekeeper, thought it might
be as well to put you in here together, along with Lawrence Colby
and Frank Harrington, when they come. I believe you are all
friends, at least Harrington and Colby intimated as much in their
"They told the truth," cried Sam. "This just suits me, and we owe
Captain Putnam and Mrs. Green one for doing it."
George Strong smiled. Then the smile faded as he remembered how
Josiah Crabtree once told Captain Putnam that he did not believe
in letting chums room together. "Place each boy among strangers,"
Crabtree had said. "It will make him more reliant." But Captain
Putnam had not listened to the crabbed old fellow, and Strong was
glad of it.
"Here is a closet, in which each of you can stow his clothing when
it is dealt out to him. Your ordinary suits will, of course, be
placed away for you, for during the academy term, you will as
cadets wear only your uniforms."
"When will I get my uniform?" asked Fred, who was anxious to don
his "soldier fixings," as he put it.
"Tomorrow, if we have any suit on hand that fits."
"I don't want a second-handed suit," put in Sam.
George Strong laughed. "Don't worry, my boy; every pupil gets new
clothing. But, many boys are so nearly of a size that Captain
Putnam always keeps a dozen or more suits on hand."
"Oh, that's different."
"The beds are all numbered, and to avoid disputes we always put
the eldest boy in bed No. 1, and so on. You can arrange this
between yourselves, and I feel certain you won't get into a dispute."
"We won't quarrel," said Dick. "I don't how exactly how old Frank
and Larry are, though."
"Then arrange to suit yourselves until they come," concluded Mr.
Having shown then their dormitory he conducted them through the
building and exhibited the various class- and drill-rooms, and
then ended up by introducing them to several other pupils,
including Bart Conners, the major for the term, and Harry Blossom
and Dave Kearney, the two captains.
"Welcome to Putnam Hall!" cried Major Bart Conners, a tall youth
of nearly seventeen. He shook hands all around, and so did the
two captains; and then the assistant teacher left the party.
"Oh, it was a shame the way Crabtree treated your brother!" said
Captain Harry to Dick. "It's a wonder to me that Captain Putnam
keeps him here."
"I was in for getting up a petition to have Crabtree removed," put in
Captain Dave. "I think every boy in the academy would sign it."
"I hope Captain Putnam is not so severe," said Fred.
"Not by a jugful, Garrison," came from Captain Harry. "He's
strict, and makes everybody toe the mark, but you couldn't find a
better all-around man."
"Then he'll suit me."
It was now quite late, and presently a loud, clear bell rang out
in the belfry.
"Six o'clock," said Captain Dave Kearney. "That is to bring in
the boys from the playground. They have fifteen minutes in which
to wash up for supper. Excuse me, I'll be needed in ten minutes
to form my company," and soon the newcomers found themselves
alone with several others who had just arrived at Putnam Hall.
The cadets were rushing from everywhere to the lavatories, to make
themselves presentable on parade. Soon they began to form on the
grounds before the building. Dick and the others saw them divide
up into two companies, with Harry Blossom at the head of the first
and Dave Kearney leading the second. The two companies, called a
battalion, were commanded by Major Bart. In addition to the
officers, there were two drummers, a bass-drummer, and two fifers.
"Companies, attention!" came the command, and the lines became
rigid. "By column of fours—march!" The drums struck up, and
away went the columns of each company, to the front of the parade
ground. Then they wheeled to the right, the fifers started up a
lively air, and the cadets marched around the hall three times,
and at last into the door nearest to the mess-hall or dining room.
"By Jinks, that's fine!" cried Sam. "Cadet life will suit me, I'm
sure of it."
The cadets had hardly disappeared before one of the waiters in the
mess-hall came forward. "Please come right in, gents," he said.
"Mr. Strong will give you places at the tables." And they went
and soon found themselves seated among as jolly a set of boys as
they had ever encountered.
Of course there were exceptions; where would there not be in a
crowd of nearly a hundred? There were pupils there who were
morose by nature, those who seldom or never smiled, and there were
likewise half a dozen of the Dan Baxter order—bullies and
worse. We shall see more of all these characters as our tale
"I wonder if Tom is going to get any supper?" said Dick to his
"If they don't give him any, I'll raise a kick, Dick."
"So will I."
"Silence at the table!" came in the sharp tones of Josiah
Crabtree, who presided over the particular board at which the
Rovers had been placed.
"I was only wondering if my brother was going to get any supper,"
returned Sam boldly.
"Silence! I will take care of that."
In the midst of the meal a newcomer appeared at the doorway to the
messroom. It was Dan Baxter.
"Well, Baxter, how is this?" asked Mr. Strong, the teacher nearest
"I—I was carried to Bar Landing," answered the bully sheepishly.
"Bar Landing? Then you were on the afternoon boat from Ithaca?"
"How did you come to be carried past Cedarville?"
"I—er—fell asleep on the trip."
"Indeed! Well, when next you travel you had better try to keep
awake," was George Strong's comment, and a titter passed along the
table, which made Dan Baxter very angry.
"Sit down here. Alexander, help Baxter to some supper."
"Yes, sah," came from the waiter; and no more was said. Presently
Baxter caught sight of Dick at the table opposite, and he looked
daggers at the youth. "He's got it in for me," thought Dick; and
he was right.
The supper at an end, the pupils were allowed two hours to
themselves—one hour outdoors if they wished it, or both hours
in the reading room, which was well supplied with books and all of
the best magazines. The newcomers went out in a bunch, and
Captain Harry Blossom accompanied them.
"I'll show you the gymnasium, if you wish to see it," he said.
"I would like to know something about Tom," replied Dick. "Where
have they placed him?"
"Undoubtedly in the guardroom."
"Where is that?"
"Do you see that window over there?" and Captain Harry pointed
with his hand.
"Yes," came from Dick and Sam together.
"Well, that's the window to the place."
"I wonder if I can't talk to my brother?" went on Dick.
"It's against the rules to talk to a prisoner."
"Well, I'm going to talk anyway," said Dick with a recklessness
which was unusual to him. "I want to find out just what they are
doing with him."
"I guess I had best leave this crowd," remarked the young captain
of Company A.
Dick was about to ask why, when Sam nudged him on the arm. "Let
him go," whispered the younger brother.
In a moment more Captain Harry had walked away.
"Don't you see what he meant?" asked Sam aloud.
"Then you are losing some of your wit, Dick. He didn't want to
see us break the rules. I suppose if he had seen us he would have
felt it was his duty to report us."
"That's so, Sam. How thick I was! Well, I'm going over to the
"So am I."
"And I'll go too," added Fred.
Off the three hurried across the parade ground, the other new
cadets watching them curiously, for all had heard of what Tom had
done and how Josiah Crabtree had treated him.
The window of the guardroom was but five feet from the ground. In
front of it, however, was an iron fence, placed in the form of a
semicircle, at a distance of about ten feet from the opening. The
fence was higher than Dick's head, and the iron pickets were
"The window to the room is shut," announced the elder Rover, after
an inspection in the semi-darkness. "It's a shame, in this warm
weather. Poor Tom will be half smothered to death!"
"Wait till I attract his attention," said Sam. Catching up a clod
of grass and dirt he threw it against one of the window panes.
A minute of suspense followed, but no face appeared at the window.
"That's queer," said Fred. "It seems to me he would show himself
if he was there."
"Perhaps he, can't," said Sam. "He may be chained up in the other
end of the room."
"I'm going to make sure," said Dick determinedly. "Sam and Fred,
both of you give me a boost up."
"But how will you get back?"
"You can give me another boost through the pickets."
"Hurrah! so we can!" cried Sam. "All right; up you go!"
And up Dick did go, so rapidly that he almost fell over the top of
the iron barrier.
"Now, who has a match?" he asked.
"Here you are," said Fred, and passed over several.
Stepping to the window, Dick tapped upon it, and at the same time
struck a light, for the room within was pitch-dark. The next
instant he muttered a cry of disgust. "Sold!"
"What's that?" came from Sam and Fred.
"The room is empty."
"Then there must be some mistake," said Fred. "Can you see all
"Sure Tom isn't asleep in a corner or on a couch—if there is
one?" put in Sam. "He would go to sleep if he could."
"He isn't here—no doubt of it," answered Dick, after striking a
second match and making another inspection. "Oh!"
Dick blew out the match in a hurry and started back for the fence.
He had seen the door of the guardroom open and Josiah Crabtree
The head assistant of Putnam Hall saw the light of the match and
by it obtained a good view of Dick's face.
"Ha! that youth has come here to assist his brother to escape!"
was the conclusion he reached. He darted for the window and threw
"Come back here, Master Rover!" he cried, as he saw Dick trying to
mount the fence.
"Don't you go!" whispered Sam, and tried to assist Dick from the
other side, while Fred did the same.
Josiah Crabtree would have leaped from the window, but the bars
held him back.
"I'll get you yet!" he ejaculated wrathfully, and, turning, ran
from the guardroom, with the intention of capturing Dick on the
A STRANGE MEETING IN THE WOODS.
To go back to Tom, at the time he was left alone by the head
assistant of Putnam Hall, after refusing to give up the keys to
his satchel and trunk.
"I've put my foot into it now," thought the boy dismally. "I
wonder what Captain Putnam will say to all this when he hears of
it? Of course old Crabtree will make out the worst possible case
It was too dark to see much, and he dropped on the couch. He was
worried a good deal, yet he was not one to take anything too
deeply to heart.
Before long a waiter appeared with a tray containing a big bowl of
bread and milk. Had Josiah Crabtree had his own way, he would
have sent only bread and water for the lad's supper, but such a
proceeding would have been contrary to Captain Putnam's rule. The
kind captain realized that his pupils were but boys and should not
be treated as real prisoners, even when they did break the academy
"Heah is yo' suppah, sah!" announced Alexander, the waiter, as he
set the tray on the table. "Sorry I can't leave the light, sah."
He referred to a lamp, also, on the tray, which he now removed.
"What have you got?" asked Tom, sitting up.
"Bowl of bread and milk, sah."
"Is that what they give visitors for supper?"
"Gracious, sah, is yo' a visitah, sah?"
"I consider myself as such until I am placed on the muster roll."
At this Alexander scratched his woolly head. "Well, sah, I don't
know nuffin about dat, sah. I has to obey Mr. Crabtree's oahdahs,
"Has Captain Putnam come back yet?"
"No, sah, an' he sent word dat he didn't think he could git back,
sah, before morning, sah."
"Humph! Then I'll have to stay here until that time."
"I reckon so, sah."
"It's a jolly shame."
"Dat's right, sah," and Alexander grinned.
"Well, leave the bread and milk. It's better than nothing. But
hold on. Who are you?"
"Alexander Pop, sah, at yo' service, sah," and again the colored
man grinned. He was a short, fat fellow, the very embodiment of
"Well, Alexander, if you are at my service, supposing you get me
something else to eat beside this bread and milk."
"Oh, sah, I couldn't do dat."
"Yes, you could. Here is a quarter. Don't you want to earn
that?" And Tom held out the silver piece.
"Mr. Crabtree would hab me discharged if he cotched me, Master
"Then don't let him catch you, Aleck, my boy."
At this the negro laughed and showed his immense ivories.
"Yo' is jest de boy I dun like to see, sah," he said. "Jess wait
an' I'll do wot I can fo! You but mum's de word, sah-eh?"
"I never peach, Aleck; it's only a coward that does that,"
The negro disappeared from the room, but reappeared in less than
ten minutes with something done up in a napkin.
"Dare you am, sah," he said, "two tongue sandwiches and a big
piece of layer cake, sah, all I could git, fo' Mrs. Green am werry
sharp. And here is a bit of candle, sah, for a light. But please
don't let 'em know I brought yo' de things, sah."
"Never a word, Aleck, thank you," answered Tom, and handed over
Left again to himself, Tom lost no time in making way, not only
with the sandwiches and cake, but also some of the bread and milk,
for his day's traveling had left him tremendously hungry. The bit
of candle was less than two inches long, and began to splutter
just as the meal was finished.
A rattle at the door caused the lad to sweep the cake crumbs out
of sight, blow out the candle, and pocket the tiny bit left. Then
the light of a lamp lit up the guardroom, and Josiah Crabtree came
"Well, Rover, have you enjoyed your supper?" he asked coldly, as
he glanced at the half empty bowl.
"Very much," was the youth's equally cold reply.
"You like bread and milk, then," was Crabtree's sarcastic
"Nothing better, sir, for supper."
The head assistant bit his lip, and then set down the lamp.
"Rover, don't you think, you are making a bad beginning?" he said
after a pause.
"I don't understand you, Mr. Crabtree."
"Any other boy on joining a school would wish to make his entrance
as creditable as possible."
"But I haven't joined this school yet."
"I won't argue that point."
"I wasn't even on your grounds, but in the public highway—and
there shot off—what? A simple firecracker. And for that you
hauled me to this place, and treat me like one who has broken half
the laws of the land. If Captain Putnam upholds you in this
matter, do you know what I shall do?"
"Make an additional fool of yourself, I presume."
"I shall write home to my guardian that I do not consider Putnam
Hall a proper boarding academy for any boy, and that I want to be
put somewhere else."
At these outspoken words Josiah Crabtree grew pale. His great
unpopularity was already having its effect upon Captain Putnam,
and he was afraid that if he should be the means of losing a pupil
it might cost him his place, as much as he knew that the captain
did not favor changes in his staff of instructors.
"Don't be unreasonable, my lad," he said, but his tone was much
milder than before.
"I don't think I am unreasonable."
"The road is one belonging to this institution—in brief, a
private road. You became a pupil here when you entered our
carriage, that, which brought you here."
"Does everybody who rides in that carriage become a Putnam Hall
pupil?" demanded Tom.
He saw that he was worrying Crabtree, and resolved to keep it up.
"Well—er—we won't argue that point."
"Then supposing we don't argue anything until Captain Putnam comes
back? In the meantime if you will release me I'll go to
Cedarville and put up at the hotel for the night."
"I shall not release you."
"All right, then. But if my guardian takes me away, mark my
words, you shall stand a personal lawsuit for having locked me up
here without having any right to do so."
"Why—er—this to me—me, the head assistant here?" screamed
In his rage he ran over to Tom and caught him by the ear.
He had scarcely done so than Tom put out one foot, gave the
teacher a shove, and down went Crabtree flat on his back.
"You villain!" gasped the head assistant, as he scrambled to his
"Don't you pinch my ear again," retorted Tom.
The door was open, and before Crabtree could stop him he ran out
into the hallway.
"It will be the worse for you!"
"I'll risk that."
"Stop him, somebody!" screamed Josiah Crabtree at the top of his
Without waiting, Tom ran down the hallway. He knew not where he
was going, and, coming, to a door, slipped through. He now found
himself in the rear of the Hall and a few seconds later ran across
the back garden and dove into the farm lands.
"Free once more," he thought. "And I shan't go back until I am
certain Captain Putnam is on hand to receive me. I wonder how
Dick and Sam are faring?"
Thinking that his brothers would soon learn of his escape, and not
wishing to be caught, he hurried on until the farm lands were
passed and he found himself in a woods.
"I'll sweep around in a circle and make for that road leading to
Cedarville," he concluded, and trudged on rapidly, for the woods
were dark and lonely and not particularly to his liking.
Tom had covered the best part of half a mile: when he saw a light
ahead. At first he thought it must shine from the window of some
farmhouse, but soon made it out to be from a campfire, situated in
something of a hollow and not far from a spring.
"Hullo! Tramps or charcoal burners," he thought. "I wonder if
they would be friendly?"
He slackened his pace and approached cautiously until within ten
yards of where two men sat in earnest conversation. One man was
tall and thin and had a scar on his chin. The other fellow was
the thief who had robbed Dick of his watch.
At first Tom was not inclined to believe the evidence of his
"Perhaps I'm mistaken," he mused.
He resolved to draw nearer and hear if possible what the two men
A clump of bushes grew close to the spring before mentioned, and
he crawled up behind this, thus getting within fifteen feet of the
"You are certain you saw the boys, Buddy?" he heard the tall man
with the scar say.
"I'm as sure of it as I'm sure your name is Arnold Baxt—"
"Hush, Buddy, how many times must I tell you that I want that name
dropped, especially around here?"
"There ain't anybody around here to hear us!"
"Well, I don't want the name mentioned. I call you Buddy. You
must call me Nolly."
"All right, Nolly."
"Now, you are dead sure you saw the boys on their way to Putnam
"How much have you drank today?"
"Only two glasses, this morning. Oh, it was them," went on Buddy,
with a total disregard for grammar.
The tall man muttered something under his breath.
"It's too bad," he said aloud.
"What's too bad?"
"That they are going to Putnam Hall. Still, I don't know as it
will amount to anything. But I reckon you had best get out of the
"I'm going to get out."
"What brought you here?"
"I wanted to see you again, as I said before."
"That mining deal."
"I can't do anything at present."
"There are some papers missing, Buddy. As soon as I get those
I'll be in a condition to go ahead. You know, I've got to move
"Well, what brought you here?"
"That is my business."
"Every few months or so you come up to Cedarville, Baxt—— Nolly,
and on a secret mission."
"Well, who has a better right? Come, let us talk about something
else. If you— Hullo, what's that?"
Both men leaped to their feet as a sound from the bushes back of
the spring reached their ears.
Tom had been lying as quiet as a mouse when a pinching-bug, as
they are commonly called, had dropped from one of the bushes onto
The bug was as big as a walnut shell, and had fine nippers, and
when he took hold of the skin Tom could not help but make a slight
noise as he tried to throw the bug off.
Before the boy could arise to his feet the two men were rushing
upon him, Buddy with a stick and the tall man with something which
he had drawn from his pocket. It was a sand-bag, a favorite weapon
used in our large cities by footpads.
SETTLING DOWN AT THE HALL
"It's a boy!" cried the tall, slim man.
"One of the boys!" came from the tramp known as Buddy.
"You don't say!" The tall man turned to Tom. "How did you get
"Walked," answered Tom as calmly as he could, although this is not
saying much, for he realized that the pair before him were
desperate characters and that he was no match for them.
"Have you been spying on us?" demanded the fellow called Nolly.
"I've been spying on this man," answered Tom, pointing to the
other fellow. "He stole my brother's watch. What have you done
"Never stole a watch in me life!" returned Buddy quickly.
"I say you did, and it will do no good to deny it."
"If you say I stole any watch I'll—I'll knock yer down," cried
And he rushed at Tom and aimed a blow at the boy's head with his
Nolly also ran forward with his sand-bag; and seeing this, Tom
leaped back, and was soon making tracks as fast as his legs could
The two men did not pursue him far. Instead, they turned and ran
in the opposite direction.
Tom hurried on until he came within sight of a large farmhouse.
Reaching the front door, he used the brass knocker vigorously.
Soon an upper window was raised, and the head of a middle-aged man
was thrust out.
"Who is there?" he demanded.
"I want help, sir," answered Tom. "I am a pupil at Putnam Hall,
and I have just spotted a fellow in this neighborhood who robbed
my brother of a gold watch."
"Is that so!"
"Oh, papa, is it one of the boys Grace and I were telling you
about?" came in the voice of Nellie Laning. "Aren't you Tom
"Yes. This must be Mr. Laning."
"Yes, my boy, I am John Laning," answered the farmer. "I will be
down in a moment. We are in the habit of retiring early."
In a few minutes Tom was let into the house, and he told his story
to John Laning, his wife, and the two girls, all of whom listened
Then a hired man was aroused, and the two men and the boy hurried
to where the campfire had been located.
But, as stated before, Buddy and Nolly had made good use of their
time, and no trace of them was to be found.
"They have skipped out," said Mr. Laning.
"To look for them will be worse than looking for spiders in a corn
stack. I suppose you'll be getting back to Putnam Hall now?"
"If it is all the same, I would like to engage a room at your
farmhouse for the night," answered Tom, and told his tale.
At the mention of Josiah Crabtree's name John Laning's face grew
"I don't wonder you had a row with that man," he said. "I know
him only too well. You can stay at my house if you will, and it
shall not cost you a cent."
"Hullo, here is luck!" thought Tom, and thanked the farmer for his
When they got back to the farmhouse Tom's story had to be told to
Grace and Nellie, while Mr. Laning went off to prepare a room for
"Oh, Josiah Crabtree!" cried Nelly. "Why, don't you know he is
trying to court our Aunt Lucy?"
"Your Aunt Lucy? Who is she?"
"Dora Stanhope's mother. Dora's father is dead, you know."
"Great Caesar!" burst from Tom; "I hope Dora never gets him for a
"So do all of us, Tom; but I'm afraid he has made quite an
impression on Aunt Lucy. She is rich; and my own idea is that
Josiah Crabtree is after her money."
"He's none too good for it," was Tom's blunt comment.
The girls and the lad chatted together for half an hour, and then
all retired for the balance of the night.
"They're awfully sweet," thought the boy, "these two, and Dora
He slept soundly, and did not arise until after seven. On coming
below he found a hot breakfast awaiting him, to which it is
perhaps needless to state he did full justice.
While he was talking to the girls, and finishing up at the same
time, Mr. Laning came in.
"Thought I would tell you that Captain Putnam just drove down the
Hall road on his way to the school," he announced.
"Then I'll get back at once," said Tom, and bade the various
members of the family good-by. "Hope we meet again soon," he
whispered to the girls, and this made both blush.
Mr. Laning would have driven the lad to the academy, but Tom
declined the offer and set off on foot. It did not take him long
to cover the distance, and he entered the grounds as unconcernedly
as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
"Hullo!" cried several cadets as they noticed him. "Where did you
come from? Mr. Crabtree has been looking all over for you."
"I don't wish to see him. I wish to see Captain Putnam? Where is
"Gracious, but you're a cool one!" remarked one of the cadets.
"The captain is in his office, I think."
"Will you please show me to the place?"
The office was a finely furnished apartment just off the main
classroom. Tom knocked on the door.
"Come in," said a cheery voice, and the boy calmly entered to find
himself confronted not only by Captain Putnam, but likewise by
"Ah! Here is the young reprobate now!" cried Crabtree, as rushing
up, he grasped Tom by the arm.
"You will kindly let go of my arm, Mr. Crabtree," said Tom
"You shan't run away again!"
"That's true—now Captain Putnam is here."
"So this is Thomas Rover," said Captain Victor Putnam, with
something like a twinkle in his clear eyes. "Rover, I have heard
a rather serious report about you and your brother Richard."
"What kind of a report, if I may ask, sir?"
"Mr. Crabtree says you have been impudent to him, and that when he
locked you in the guardroom for breaking the rules you attacked
him and knocked him down."
"He attacked me first. If anybody attacked you, wouldn't you be
apt to knock him down if you could?"
"That would depend upon, circumstances, Rover. If a man attacked
me on the street I would certainly endeavor to defend myself to
the best of my ability. But you must remember that you are a
pupil here, and Mr. Crabtree is one of your masters, appointed by
"I am not a pupil yet, sir—although I hope to be very soon."
"Why, what do you mean?" demanded Victor Putnam, and now his voice
grew stern. Many a boy would have flinched, but Tom had
determined to say just what he thought of Crabtree, and he stood
"I mean just this, Captain Putnam. I came to Putnam Hall with the
best intention in the world of doing my duty as a pupil and
becoming a credit to your institution. I hadn't a thought of
breaking a rule or being impudent. Before I entered your grounds
I thought of a big fire cracker I had in my pocket, and just for
the fun of the thing set the cracker off, as a sort of farewell to
the outdoor life so soon to be left behind."
"Captain Putnam, are you going to listen to such tomfoolery?"
interrupted Josiah Crabtree.
"I believe I have a right to tell my story," answered Tom.
"Unless that right is granted, I shall leave the Hall, go back to
my guardian, and tell him that I refuse to become a pupil here."
"You are a pupil already," snarled Crabtree.
"I am not—and that is just the point I am trying to make," went
on Tom to the owner of Putnam Hall. "As soon as the firecracker
went off, this man rushed up and demanded an explanation. He was
going to lock up my brother first, but I said I had fired the
cracker, and so he compelled me to go to the guardroom with him.
I was locked in and treated to bread and milk for supper, and he
wanted to steal the keys of my trunk and valise from me."
"Steal!" ejaculated Josiah Crabtree.
"That is what it amounted to, for the keys, and boxes are my
"Mr. Crabtree merely wanted to see that your baggage contained
nothing improper," put in Captain Putnam. "There are certain
things we do not allow boys to bring into the institution."
"Then he had a right to keep my baggage out until I was properly
enrolled as a pupil. I did not bring in the trunk and bag
At this Captain Putnam began to smile.
"I see the point you are trying to make, Rover. You are trying to
prove that you were placed under arrest, so to speak, before you
were under our authority here."
"Exactly. I will leave it to you, Captain Putnam, if I was really
a pupil when Mr. Crabtree hauled me off to the guardroom."
At this plain question the face of the owner of the Hall became a
"You make a very fine distinction, Rover," he answered slowly.
"Perhaps so, sir; and I do it because I want to begin right here.
If I am to be handicapped at the start of my career, what is the
use of my trying to make a record for myself?" and Tom looked the
master of Putnam Hall full in the face.
Without a word Captain Putnam held out his hand. "Thomas, you
have considerable spirit, but I think your heart is in the right
place, and I am willing to try you. Supposing you enroll as a
pupil now, and we let bygones be bygones?"
"With all my heart, sir!" cried Tom, glad to have the whole affair
settled so easily.
"Why, are you going to let the—the young rascal go?" demanded
Josiah Crabtree, in amazement.
"I'm not a rascal, Mr. Crabtree."
"Yes, you are!"
"Mr. Crabtree, I have decided to drop the matter," put in Captain
Putnam, in a tone which admitted of no dispute, and the head
assistant fell back abashed. "Rover says he wishes to make a
record for himself, and I am inclined to help him. He starts his
term free and clear of all charges against him—and his brother
whom you have locked up shall do likewise. Kindly call Mr.
"It is a—a most unusual proceeding," growled the head
"Perhaps, but we will talk that matter over at another time."
Josiah Crabtree went out; and in a minute George Strong appeared,
and Tom was turned over to him, to sign the roll of the academy
and to join Sam, Fred, and the others in the class room over which
Mr. Strong presided.
"Hullo, you're back," whispered Sam, but no more could be said
until recess, when Tom told his story in detail. In the meantime
Dick was released.
"So you met the fellow who stole my watch!" cried the elder
brother. "I wish you had got the timepiece."
"So do I, Dick."
Dick had been captured by Josiah Crabtree just as he was vaulting
the iron fence around the guardroom window. The head assistant
had locked him up in the apartment Tom had occupied, and there
Dick had remained all night.
"Oh, Crabtree is a terror!" said Dick later on. "I hope Dora
Stanhope's mother never marries him."
"I'll wager neither of you have heard the last of Crabtree, even
if we are not in his classes," remarked Sam. "He will watch for a
chance to get even, mark my words."
"I don't doubt it, Sam," answered Tom. "But let him come on. I
intend to do my duty as a cadet, and I am not afraid of him."
A ROW IN THE GYMNASIUM
For several days matters moved along smoothly with the Rover boys.
In that time their chums, Frank Harrington and Larry Colby,
arrived, and these, with Fred, made up the "Metropolitan Sextet,"
as they called themselves—the sole occupants of dormitory No.
Next to this dormitory was apartment five, occupied by Dan Baxter,
Mumps, and six others of the bully's cronies. The two apartments
were connected by a door, but this was nailed up.
So far there had been no open rupture between Baxter and Dick, but
there was trouble "in the air," and it was bound to reach a climax
sooner or later.
Fortunately for Dick and his brothers, Captain Putnam had cadet
uniforms to fit them, and the three were now dressed in true
military style. The other boys had to wait until uniforms could
be made for them.
The first day at Putnam Hall was spent in assigning the newcomers
to the various classes, according to their knowledge. On the
second day the three Rover boys were placed in the awkward squad,
to learn the military drill.
The squad was presided over by Corporal Mark King, a youth who was
cut out to be a soldier, although his father was a sea captain.
"Now then, line up!" he called out to the newcomers. "All of you
will please toe that crack in the floor; now turn out your toes
like this, and put your shoulders back, hands with the palms to
His instructions were followed to the letter, for all were anxious
to learn as fast as possible.
"Now the first thing to remember is to say nothing, but obey orders
promptly," exclaimed the corporal. "When an order is given the first
part is a warning, while the conclusion is the time when that order
must be executed. For, instance, I tell you 'Eyes right!' I say
'Eyes,' and you get ready to move your eyes; I add 'Right,' and you
instantly turn them to the right, and keep them there. Now we'll try.
Eyes—right! Great smoke! number four, you turned them to the left! Now
again: Eyes—right! Good! Eyes—front! That's first-class. Now:
Eyes—left! Eyes—front! That couldn't be better."
And so it went on for an hour, during which the boys learned not
alone how to use their eyes, but also to "left face," "right
face," "front face," and "about face"—that is, to turn directly
to the rear. Then they learned how to
mark time "with their feet, starting with the left foot."
"Tomorrow you shall learn how to march," said Corporal King when
the drilling was over. "And then each of you will get a gun and
go through the manual of arms."
"Will we learn how to shoot?" asked Tom. "I can shoot a little
"We have target practice once a month, and during the annual
encampment," concluded the corporal.
"I wish that encampment was already at hand!" sighed Sam. He
imagined that life under a tent would just suit him.
As soon as the boys "got the run" of the institution they began to
feel at home. They made friends rapidly, especially when it
became known that Sam was a fine runner and Tom a capital baseball
player. There were several baseball teams in the school, and they
frequently played matches on Saturday afternoons.
The gymnasium pleased Dick as much as it did his younger brothers,
and nearly every day, he spent a quarter of an hour or more in the
building, using one apparatus or another, for the building was
fitted up with rings, parallel bars, wooden horses, pulling
machines, and other paraphernalia of athletic usage.
One afternoon Dick had just begun to use a set of parallel bars
when Dan Baxter sauntered in, accompanied by Mumps and two other
There were very few cadets in the building at the time, and Baxter
came directly to Dick.
"I guess we can settle that little affair now," muttered the
bully, and slapped Dick on the cheek. "That for interfering with
my doing on the boat."
Being on the bars, Dick could not ward off the blow, but he
immediately sprang down, and with flushed cheeks leaped in front
"You seem very anxious to fight," he said in a low, steady voice.
"You can, therefore, take that for a starter!" And hauling off
with his right fist, he struck Dan Baxter fairly and squarely upon
the nose, causing the blood to spurt and sending the bully to the
floor like a shot.
If ever there was an individual taken by surprise it was the bully
of Putnam Hall. He had not anticipated such a sudden and
determined resistance, and for several seconds he lay still, too
dazed to move. In the meantime his friends sprang forward, but
Dick waved them off.
"My fight is with Baxter," he said. "I want you to keep your
hands out of it."
"You hit him when he wasn't prepared," blustered Mumps.
"And he hit me when I was not prepared. Stand back!"
And Dick made such a show of being ready to attack Mumps that the
toady fell back in great alarm.
In the meanwhile Dan Baxter arose, and tried to stop the flow of
blood with his handkerchief. "I'll get even with you, Rover!" he
growled behind the stained cloth.
"At any time you please, Baxter," returned Dick. "But don't you
take me off my guard again, or I'll have no mercy on you."
"Do you dare to meet me in a fair, standing up fight?" demanded
"I certainly do."
"All right, then. Next Saturday afternoon at three."
Dick bowed. "Where?" he questioned.
"In the patch of woods behind the cornfield."
"Mums is the word, fellows," said Baxter to his cronies. "You
will keep this to yourself, Rover, won't you?"
"How many do you expect to bring to the fight?"
"Only the four fellows who are here."
"Very well; I will bring a like number."
"Want to tell everybody, don't you?"
"No, but I think I am entitled to fair play; and that means that I
must have as many friends there as you have."
"All right," grumbled Baxter, but he evidently did not like the
arrangement. A moment later he hurried off, to do what he could
to prevent his nose from swelling.
Dick told only his brothers and his chums of what had occurred,
but the news leaked out that a fight was on, and Saturday
afternoon found at least twenty cadets in the secret and on their
way to witness the "mill," as those who had read something about
prize-fighting were wont to call the contest.
Now, lest my readers obtain a false impression of my views on this
subject, let me state plainly that I do not believe in fights,
between boys or otherwise. They are brutal, far from manly, and
add nothing to the strength of one's character. It is well enough
to know how to defend one's self when occasion requires, but such
occasions occur but rarely.
But I have set out to relate the adventures of the Rover boys, in
school and out, and on land and sea, and I feel I must be truthful
and tell everything just as it happened, not only in this volume,
but in all those which are to follow; and, consequently, I shall
tell of the fight as the particulars were related to me by Sam
Rover, Fred Garrison and others—details which I am certain are
The spot was a sheltered one, and on the edge of the woods two
spies were posted, to warn the contestants should Josiah Crabtree
or any of the other teachers appear, for fighting was against the
rules of Putnam Hall, and neither Dick nor Baxter wanted to be
Both came to the spot promptly, and, without preliminary talking,
took off their coats, collars, ties, and caps. A ring was formed,
and Dick stepped forward and faced Baxter.
The bully was several inches taller than his opponent and at least
fifteen pounds heavier. His nose was a bit swollen, and there was
a sneer upon his coarse face.
"Rover, if you wish to apologize to me you can do so, and save
yourself a thrashing," he remarked.
"I can take care of myself, Baxter. Perhaps you would like me to
make a similar proposition to you. If so, let me say it is too
late; I came here to give you a well-deserved thrashing, and I
mean to stick to my determination."
"Phew, but we talk big!" muttered Mumps.
"You keep your oar out, Mumps," put in Tom. "If you don't I'll give
you a hiding, just as soon as Dick is done with Dan."
"Will you? Maybe you'll be the one to catch it," muttered Mumps.
Nevertheless, he said no more.
"Are you ready?" asked the boy who acted as timekeeper.
"I am," said Dick.
"So am I," returned Baxter, and hurled himself at his opponent
without a second's delay.
He had expected to catch Dick napping, but he found himself
mistaken. A blow aimed at Dick's face was well parried, and in
return Dick hit Baxter heavily on the shoulder.
"Hurrah! Score one for Dick!" cried Larry Colby. "That's right,
old man, keep at him."
"Keep cool, Dan!" put in Mumps. "You can polish him off at your
The blow on the shoulder staggered Baxter, and he fell back, to
become more cautious; and then the two boys began to circle around
and around, each looking for a favorable "opening." At last
Baxter thought he saw what he wanted, and struck out again, and
Dick was hit on the cheek.
"That's the way, Baxter!" came the cry.
"That was a teaser! Give him another!"
Again Baxter launched out, and now Dick was hit on the arm. He
slipped to one side, and struck out like lightning, and the bully
caught it in the neck, something which, spun him around like a
"Another for Dick!" cried Frank Harrington. "Keep it up!"
Again the two boys faced each other. But only for an instant.
With a savage cry Baxter sprang upon Dick as if to fairly tear him
apart. One blow landed upon Dick's arm and a second on his chest.
"It's Baxter's fight! Baxter is still king of this school!"
"You might as well give it up, Rover; he's too many for you!"
So the cries ran on, while the bully, encouraged by his success,
renewed his efforts; and an additional blow sent Dick to the
ground in a heap.
FAIR AND FOUL FIGHTING
As Dick went down, Tom and Sam uttered cries of chagrin and
horror. The eldest Rover had been struck on the chin, and the
blood was flowing from a deep scratch.
"Get up! Get up, Dick!" cried Tom. "Don't say you are beaten!"
"Yes, yes; get up and go at him!" added Sam.
The urging was unnecessary, as Dick was already scrambling up.
Dan Baxter made a dash at him, intending to strike him while he
was down, but a fierce look from Tom stopped him.
"You'll fight fair, Baxter," were Tom's words.
"Yes, he'll fight fair," repeated Dick, throwing back his head as
if to collect himself. "Fellow-students, Dan Baxter is not fit to
be a pupil at this academy."
"Why not?" came in a chorus.
"He is not fighting me fairly."
"What do you mean?" blustered Mumps.
"Don't find fault because he knocked you down," added another of
the bully's cronies.
"I say he is not fighting fair," repeated Dick stoutly. "He has
something in each hand."
At this unexpected announcement Dan Baxter started back and
changed color. Then of a sudden he placed both hands into his
"He is putting the things out of sight!" cried Tom, who saw
through the bully's intentions.
"Come, Baxter, show us what you had."
"I didn't have anything," growled the bully. "If you say I had
I'll punch your head off. This is only a ruse to, let Dick gain
time to get his wind."
"That's it!" cried Mumps. "Go at him, Dan, and finish him!"
"Baxter daren't turn out his pockets," said Sam, "Do it if you
"There is what I have in them," answered the bully, pulling a
trunk key from one pocket and some small change from the other.
"Perhaps you'll say I was fighting with these in my hands."
"Turn the pockets, out!" demanded Dick.
"Yes, turn 'em out!" added Fred, and a dozen others took up the
"I won't do it," growled Baxter, but it was plain to see that he
was growing uneasy. "I'm a gentleman, and I can whip Rover with
ease, and do it fairly, too!"
While he was speaking Larry Colby had come up behind him. Ere
Baxter could stop the movement, Larry pushed his hand into one of
the bully's pockets and turned it out. A jagged stone as big as a
walnut dropped to the ground.
"There, see that!" cried Larry. "For shame, Baxter!"
"I didn't have the stone—you placed it there!" blustered the
so-styled king of the school.
"Didn't you though?" said Fred Garrison, who had also come up
behind Baxter, and he quickly hauled another stone from the other
"That is how he scratched me," said Dick. "I was sure he had
something in his hand."
"It's a put-up job!" howled Baxter, growing red in the face. "If
you want to continue the fight, come on!" and he squared off
"That's the talk!" said Mumps. "Let both show their hands!
Perhaps Rover has some stones, too!"
Both opened their palms, then doubled up their fists. Baxter was
the first to strike out. But, as quick as lightning, Dick dodged
the blow and landed vigorously upon the bully's chest. Before
Baxter could recover, Dick struck out again, and the bully caught
it straight in the left eye.
"Oh!" he yelled in pain, and put his hand up to the injured optic,
which began to grow black rapidly. Then he struck out wildly half
a dozen times. He was growing excited, while Dick was as calm as
ever. Watching his opportunity, Dick struck out with all his
force, and Baxter received a crack on the nose which caused him to
fall back into the arms of Mumps. As that nose had been struck
heavily in the gymnasium, it was decidedly tender, and Baxter
roared with pain.
"Have you had enough?" demanded Dick, coming up to him.
Yes—Baxter had had more than enough; but he did not wish to
acknowledge it. He made a sign to Mumps previously agreed upon,
and Mumps raised his cap as a signal to one of the spies set on
"Stop the fight!" cried the guard instantly. "Somebody is
"Nonsense—nobody is coming!" said the other spy, but Baxter
would not listen to him.
"I'm not going to be caught—I'll finish this some other time,"
he said to Dick, and hurried away with Mumps and his other
friends, leaving Dick the victor beyond question.
"I knew you could do it!" cried Tom, as he fairly hugged his elder
"I'll wager he won't bother you again."
"No, indeed!" put in Sam; and Fred and the others said the same.
That was the first and last time that Dan Baxter fought any of the
boys openly, but he was their bitter enemy in secret; we shall
learn in this and other volumes.
As soon as Baxter had retreated, Dick and his brothers hurried to
a near-by brook, where the elder Rover took a wash, and tried by
other means to remove the traces of the contest from his person.
He had a slight swelling on the scratched chin, but that was all,
and inside of an hour felt quite like himself once more.
With Baxter it was very different, and the Sunday following he
asked to be excused from attending church services in the Hall,
saying he had fallen on some rocks and hurt his face. On hearing
this, Captain Putnam came to see him.
"Sorry to hear this, Baxter," he said. "Do you think you need a
"No, sir; I'll be all right in a few days."
"Where did you fall?"
"Down by the brook, while we were playing tag."
"Indeed! Well, you want to be more careful in the future," was
Captain Putnam's advice, and then he left Baxter. If he suspected
anything he did not let on. To a certain extent he believed in
letting boys fight out their own battles.
The Rover boys had come to Putnam Hall in the fall, and now summer
sports were cast aside among the pupils, and football and hare and
hounds became the rage.
As we know, Sam was an excellent runner, and hare and hounds just
"We must ask the captain to let us take a long trip next Saturday
afternoon," he said; and the boys went to the owner of Putnam Hall
in a body and obtained permission.
It was decided that Sam and Fred should be the hares, while Larry
Colby was to be leading hound. As Frank Harrington had a trumpet
he was made whipper-in. Captain Putnam supplied the boys with a
package of old copying books, and these were cut up into small
bits and stuffed into two pillow cases loaned by Mrs. Green.
The start was made on a clear but frosty afternoon. The hares
stood on the parade ground, with the hounds, to the number of
thirty, behind them. George Strong had consented to start them
off. The hares were to be given three minutes start of the little
scholars and five minutes start of the big boys.
"All ready?" asked the second assistant of Putnam Hall, as he took
out his watch.
"All ready," answered Sam and Fred.
"Then go!" And away went the two boys straight for the cornfield,
dropping bits of paper as they sped along. They leaped the fence
in the rear, crossed the brook, and then started along a path
leading through the woods beyond.
"We mustn't dream of letting them catch us," remarked Sam, as he
ran on, with Fred directly behind him. "I wonder where this path
"The top of the mountain, so Mr. Strong told me. He said there
was another path coming down to the westward."
On and on they went along the path until they came to a narrow
mountain road. Here they met a farmer carting a number of logs in
his wagon, and stopped him to ask a few questions.
"Yes, that road will take you right up to the top," he said. "But
you want to be careful and not make a wrong turn, or you may get
"I'm not afraid of being lost," said Fred with a light laugh; and
on they sped again, as rapidly as ever, for Fred was as good a
runner as Sam, and the pair worked very well together.
At the top of the first rise of ground they came to a spot that
was somewhat bare, and here they halted to look back.
"There are the small fellows!" cried Sam, pointing with his
finger. "And the big ones are not far behind."
"They are speeding along in good shape," was Fred's comment. "Come
on, before they spot us!" And they hurried up the next hill.
Here they encountered a number of rocks, and were brought to a
halt several times to determine which was the best path to pursue.
"By jinks! the farmer was right—we are getting lost!" said Sam
"Where is the path?"
"I think it is to the right."
"And I think it is to the left."
At this both lads looked at each other, then burst out laughing.
"It can't be in both directions, Fred."
"That's true, and I am sure I am right."
"All right, we'll try it," and they did, but it was a good ten
minutes before the path came into view again, and meanwhile the
first of the hounds drew dangerously close.
But the game was by no means over, as we shall see.
WHAT THE GAME OF HARE AND HOUND LED TO
"What a glorious view!"
It was Sam who uttered the words. The top of the mountain had
been reached at last, and the boys were feasting their eyes on the
grand panorama spread on all sides.
"How beautiful the lake looks!" said Fred.
"And how far one can see!"
"It's a pity we didn't bring a pair of glasses with us, Fred.
But, say, I'm hungry."
"So am I. Let us eat that lunch at once and then start on the
Each had brought a sandwich along, and these were soon consumed
and washed down with a drink of cold water from a spring not far
away. Then on they went, over the top of the mountain, and along
a path which they thought would bring them around its western
base. It was now four o'clock, leaving them two hours in which to
get back to Putnam Hall.
About a third of the distance down the mountain side had been
covered, and Sam was slightly in advance, when suddenly he uttered
a cry of alarm.
"Look out, Fred!"
"What is it?"
"Over yonder! And he is coming for us!"
Sam was right; it was a snake—an angry looking reptile all of
six feet long, and as thick as Sam's wrist. It hissed savagely as
it advanced, first upon Sam and then upon Fred.
If there was one thing which could fill Fred Garrison full of
terror it was a snake, and the yell he gave would have outmatched
that of an Indian on the warpath.
"Save me!" he screamed. "Don't let him touch me!"
"Jump back!" cried Sam, and leaped himself. Then, seeing a tall
rock handy, he sprang upon it, and here Fred joined him.
Now, it happened that the snake had its home under the rock, and
the movement of the lads made it more angry than ever. With a
fierce hiss it came for the rock and disappeared underneath, out
of the range of their vision.
"It's gone under the rock!" panted Fred. He was so agitated he
could scarcely speak.
"I know it," returned Sam. "I wonder if it means to crawl up
"Oh, don't say that, Sam. I—I—can't we hit it with
"I haven't a thing but the bag of paper."
"Neither have I. Oh, what shall we do?"
"Perhaps, we had better stay here until the others come up."
"Do you think the snake will keep quiet that long?"
"I'm sure I don't know."
Very much disturbed, the two boys peered over the edge of the
rock. They were not versed in the different species of reptiles,
and knew not but that the one at hand might be poisonous.
"I see his tail!" cried Fred with a shiver.
"He is moving around as if getting ready to come out."
"I wonder if I can grab him by the tail?" mused Sam.
"Grab him? Oh Sam!"
"I've heard you can catch them by the tail, snap them, and make
their heads fly right off."
"Gracious, I wouldn't attempt it!"
While Fred was speaking the tail of the snake came up on the side
of the rock. Setting his teeth, Sam bent down and made a reach
for the slippery thing, and caught it tight.
With a hiss the snake raised its head, its diamond-like eyes
shining like twin stars.
"You'll be poisoned!" shrieked Fred, when whack! Sam gave the
body of the reptile a swing and brought the head down with great
force on the edge of the rock.
One blow was enough, for the head was mashed flat. Then Sam threw
the body into the bushes, there to quiver and twist for several
hours to come, although life was extinct.
Fred was as white as a sheet as he leaped to the ground. "I
couldn't have done that for a million dollars!" he declared.
"What a splendid nerve you have, Sam."
"My father told me how to catch a snake in that way," exclaimed
Sam. "But hurry, or the hounds will overtake us. I can hear them
"Your father must have been equally brave, then," answered Fred,
as they started off on, a run. "By the way, have you heard
anything of him yet?"
"Not a word, Fred."
"Don't it make you feel bad at times?"
"Does it, Fred! Why, some nights I can't go to sleep for thinking
of where he may be—dead in the heart of Africa, or perhaps a
captive of some savage tribe."
"Have they ever hunted for him?"
"Several have gone out, but no traces are to be had. Dick, Tom,
and I are in to hunt for him, though, as soon as our Uncle
Randolph will permit it."
"That's an idea. But you may have to go right into the jungles
"I don't care if we have to go to the top of the North Pole, if
only we find him," answered Sam with quiet determination.
Inside of half an hour the bottom of the mountain was gained, and
then they struck out along a road which presently took them within
sight of the Stanhope homestead.
"I wonder if we have time to call on Dora?" mused Fred. "It would
be a scheme to leave our paper trail right through their garden."
"Glorious!" burst from Sam, caught by the idea. "I am certain
Dora Stanhope will appreciate the sport."
It did not take them long to reach the garden around the
farmhouse; and, running up the path, they ascended a side porch.
As they did so two forms appeared around the house. One was Mrs.
Stanhope, wearing a shawl over her shoulders and a bonnet on her
head, and the second was Josiah Crabtree!
"Old Crabtree!" murmured Sam, and then of a sudden he pulled Fred
out of sight behind some lattice-work inclosing one end of the
"We must hurry, my dear, or we may be too late," Josiah Crabtree
was saying; and now the boys noted that he was conducting the lady
toward a carriage standing by the horse block.
"I—I—had we not better wait until next week, Josiah?"
questioned Mrs. Stanhope timidly. She was a pale, delicate woman
of forty, of a shrinking nature, easily led by others.
"No, my dear, there is no use in waiting."
"You must not mind what your daughter says, my dear. When we are
married she will easily become reconciled to the change, mark my
"Gracious, old Crabtree is going to marry her!" whispered Sam.
"She wants me to wait," continued the lady.
"And you ought to wait, mother," came in Dora's voice; and now she
too came into sight, but without a hat or wraps.
"Mr. Crabtree wishes very much to have the ceremony performed this
afternoon, Dora dear."
"If he wants to marry you, why can't he do it openly—at home or
in our church?"
"He is averse to any display."
"It seems to me it is a very sneaking way to do," answered Dora
coldly. "When you and papa were married the wedding was well
attended, so I have been told."
"Your father and myself are different persons, Miss Dora,"
interrupted Josiah Crabtree stiffly. "I prefer a quiet wedding,
and no time is better than the present. I shall at once resign my
position at Putnam Hall and come to live here."
Dora Stanhope's lip curled in scorn. She saw through Josiah
Crabtree's motives, even though her mother did not.
"If you wish to marry my mother, why do you not make preparations
to support her?" she said.
"Dora!" cried Mrs. Stanhope pleadingly.
"I mean what I say, mother. He intends to marry you and then make
you support him, out of the proceeds of this farm."
"You are entirely mistaken," interrupted Josiah Crabtree.
"Perhaps you do not know that I am worth, in bank stocks and in
bonds, between twenty and thirty thousand dollars."
"I would like to see the stocks and bonds," said the girl.
"So would I," whispered Fred to Sam. "I'll wager he isn't worth a
thousand dollars all told although they say he is a good deal of a
"Dora, do not insult Mr. Crabtree. If you wish to come along and
see the ceremony performed, put on your things…."
"I do not wish to go."
"Very well, then; you had best return to the house."
"It is a shame!" cried the girl, and burst into tears.
"We will be back by seven o'clock," said Josiah Crabtree, and led
the widow down the garden path to where the carriage was standing.
"I wish I could stop this wedding," whispered Sam to his chum.
"I am with you on that," returned Fred.
"Creation, here come the hounds! Just the thing!"
He looked at Sam, and his chum, instantly understood. Leaving the
porch at a bound, they ran across the garden.
"Hurrah! we have you!" yelled Larry Colby, as he rushed up,
followed by Tom, Dick, and a dozen of the other big cadets.
"Quick, this way!" cried Sam. "Do you see that carriage?"
"Of course we do," answered Tom.
"It contains Mrs. Stanhope and old Crabtree. They are going to
drive off and get married against Dora Stanhope's wishes."
"Phew!" came in a low whistle from the eldest of the Rover Boys.
"We ought to stop this affair," went on Fred.
"Old Crabby is going to get married!" came in a shout. "Come on,
let us go along!"
And pell-mell went the boys after the carriage, which had just
turned from the horse-block with the teacher and Mrs. Stanhope
inside, and a farmhand named Borgy on the front seat.
JOSIAH CRABTREE IN DIFFICULTY
Dora Stanhope had witnessed the approach of the boys, and now she
came out into the garden again and confronted them. She blushed
prettily upon seeing Dick and several others with whom she was
"I understand that Mr. Crabtree is about to be married," said Dick
in a low tone.
"Yes, he insists on marrying my mother this afternoon. He has
been at her about this for several months," answered Dora between
"Evidently you oppose the marriage."
"I—I hate Mr. Crabtree!" came almost fiercely. "He is—is
nothing like my poor dead papa was."
"I believe you, Dora," answered Dick. "I don't see what your
mother can find in him to like. We hate him at the academy."
"I know it—and I imagine Captain Putnam is preparing to get rid of
him, for I heard he was corresponding with a teacher in Buffalo—one
who has been head master in a military academy out in that vicinity."
"Indeed! I hope we do get clear of him—and I wish you could
get clear of him too."
"It doesn't seem as if I could," sighed Dora. "He has wound my
mother right around his finger, so to speak. But what are those
other boys going to do?" And she pointed to the balance of the
cadets, who were following closely upon the wheels of the
carriage, which had turned into the highway leading to Cedarville.
"I'll go after them and see," said Dick, and turned to leave.
Then he came to a halt and turned back. "Dora, I am awfully sorry
for you," he whispered. "If I can ever do anything for you, don't
hesitate to call on me."
"I'll remember that, Dick," she replied gratefully, but never
dreamed of how much she would one day require his aid.
When Dick joined the crowd he found it on all sides of the
carriage, shouting and hurrahing wildly. At first Josiah Crabtree
pretended to pay no attention, but presently he spoke to the
driver, and the turnout came to a halt.
"Students, what does this unseemly conduct mean?" he demanded
"Why, Mr. Crabtree, is that you!" exclaimed Frank Harrington in
"Yes, Harrington. I say, what does it mean?"
"We are out playing hare and hounds, sir."
"But you are following this carriage."
"Oh, no, sir, we are following the paper scent, sir," answered
Larry Colby, and pointed to the pieces of paper, which Fred
Harrison was slyly dropping just in front of the horses.
"Then our carriage is on the trail," sighed Josiah Crabtree. "It
is very annoying."
"Oh, it doesn't bother us much, sir," answered Frank coolly.
"Bother you! It is myself and Mrs. Stanhope to whom I referred.
Make the hares take another course."
"Can't do that, sir, until we catch them."
"But why must you keep so close to this carriage?"
"I don't know, sir. Perhaps it is the carriage which is keeping
close to us."
Josiah Crabtree looked more angry than ever. He spoke to the
driver, with a view to increasing the speed of the team, but Borgy
had entered into the spirit of the fun at hand, and he was,
moreover, a great friend of Dora, and he shook his head.
"Couldn't do it sir," he said. "I wouldn't want to run the risk
of winding them."
"Do you mean to say they cannot outrun these boys?" demanded the
head assistant at Putnam Hall.
"Hardly, sir—the lads is uncommonly good runners," answered
"I will show you how to manage them!" ejaculated Josiah Crabtree,
and stepped over to the front seat.
"Oh, Josiah, be careful!" pleaded Mrs. Stanhope.
"I know how to drive horses, so don't worry," answered Crabtree,
and took up both reins and whip. Before Borgy could stop him he
had given one of the horses a smart cut on the flank.
The steed was a spirited one and not used to the whip, and
scarcely had the lash landed than he gave a wild leap into the
air, came down, and broke into a mad run, dragging his mate with
him. A second later the carriage struck a stone, bounced up, and
Borgy was pitched out, to land in the midst of some bushes growing
by the roadside.
The bolting of the team proved almost fatal to the boys in front,
who scattered just in time to let horses and carriage pass them
with lightning-like speed. Then the cadets gathered together and
stared blankly at one another.
"It's a runaway!"
"Serves old Crabby right, for hitting the horse!"
"Yes, but he and the lady may be killed!"
Such were some of the cries. As soon as they could recover, the
whole party made after the carriage, now disappearing around a
"They'll never get around the next turn alive!" said Captain Harry
Blossom, who was running beside Tom. Soon Dick joined the pair.
In the meantime Josiah Crabtree was filled with terror over the
sudden turn of affairs. He dropped the whip and tugged first at
one rein and then the other.
"Whoa! whoa!" he cried in a hoarse whisper. "Whoa!"
But instead of slackening their speed, the team moved on faster
than ever, the carriage rocking violently from side to side.
"We will be killed!" moaned Mrs. Stanhope. "Oh, why did I not
take Dora's advice and have a regular wedding, as she proposed!"
"I will—will stop them!" panted Crabtree. "Whoa, you brutes,
"Whoa, Peter; whoa, Jack!" added Mrs. Stanhope timidly.
For an instant the horses seemed to take notice of the lady's
voice, but only for an instant; then they went on as fast as ever,
around another bend, and down a rocky stretch, lined on either
side with trees and bushes.
Suddenly there came a crash, as a wheel came off the carriage.
Then came a second crash and Mrs. Stanhope was hurled forth among
some bushes. But the turnout continued on its way, Josiah
Crabtree clinging to the wreck, until at last he too was hurled
forth, to fly up among some tree branches and remain there for the
best part of ten minutes.
When the crowd of cadets reached Mrs. Stanhope they found the lady
unconscious and evidently suffering from a broken arm. Several of
them, including Dick, Tom, and Sam, did what they could for her,
while others ran off to find Josiah Crabtree and to summon a
It was several minutes before the head assistant at Putnam Hall
could be helped out of the tree. He came down in fear and
trembling, so overcome he could scarcely stand.
"How—how is Mrs. Stanhope?" was his, first question.
"We don't know," answered several of the cadets, and Josiah
Crabtree hobbled back to find out.
The shades of night had long fallen when Mrs. Stanhope was
conveyed to her home, and a doctor was brought from Cedarville and
the Lanings were informed of what had happened. The doctor said
that a rib as well as the left arm had been fractured, and that
the lady must be kept quiet for at least two months. At once Dora
set about doing what she could for her mother, and Nellie Laning
remained at the homestead to assist her. No one seemed to care
about Josiah Crabtree, and he was allowed to hobble back to Putnam
Hall on foot.
"It was the fault of those boys," he muttered to himself. "I'll
get even with them, see if I don't!"
But his chances of "getting even" while at the academy were
speedily nipped in the bud by Captain Putnam, who did not say
anything on Sunday, but interviewed the head assistant early on
the day following.
"It is perhaps needless for us to go into the details of what has
occurred, Mr. Crabtree," said the owner of the Hall. "Your
contract with me comes to an end next month. I will pay you in
full tomorrow and then I wish you to remove yourself and your
belongings from this place."
"You—you discharge me!" cried the teacher in astonishment.
"I do. I have long been dissatisfied with your conduct toward my
pupils, and I am now satisfied that you are not worthy of the
position with which I entrusted you."
At this Josiah Crabtree's face fell, for he had hoped to keep his
place at Putnam Hall until his marriage to Mrs. Stanhope was
assured. Now there was no telling when that marriage would occur,
and in the meantime it was not likely he could get another
"I think I ought to have more notice than this."
"You deserve no notice—since you were about to marry on the
sly, so to speak, and, most likely, leave me when your contract
came to an end without allowing me time to make other
"I would have given you at least two weeks time."
"And I am giving you three weeks pay, which you do not deserve. I
do not think we need to prolong the discussion," and Captain
Putnam turned away.
The departure of Josiah Crabtree was hailed with satisfaction by
all of the pupils excepting Dan Baxter. Strange to say, a strong
friendship had sprung up between the bully and the hot-tempered
school teacher. Baxter was the only one who shook hands when
"I hope we meet again, Mr. Crabtree," he said. "I like you, even
if the others don't."
"And I like you, Baxter," answered Josiah Crabtree. "I shall
And Josiah Crabtree did remember the bully in a manner which was
strange in the extreme.
DAN BAXTER'S MONEY
After the departure of Josiah Crabtree from Putnam Hall, George
Strong became the leading assistant, and another teacher named
Garmore took second place.
Garmore was a Yale man, and soon became as favorably known as
Strong, so the pupils had nothing more to find fault with, so far
as their instructors went.
As has been noted before, there were several baseball teams among
the boys. As it grew too cold for baseball, these teams gave up
this sport, and a good number of the lads took up football.
In this sport, Sam, being a good runner, felt very much at home,
and soon he was at the head of one of the teams, playing center.
Tom was also on the team, playing quarterback.
Not far from Putnam Hall was another academy kept by a certain
gentleman named Pornell. The pupils at Pornell's were also great
football players, and one day they sent over a challenge that the
Putnams, as they were dubbed, should play them a match for the
championship of the township in which both seats of learning were
The challenge was brought, by Peleg Snuggers, who had gone over to
Pornell's on an errand for Captain Putnam.
"It's for you," said Snuggers, handing the communication to Sam.
The youthful captain of the eleven broke open the letter and read
"PORNELL ACADEMY, November 18, 189-
"To the Putnam Hall Football Team: We hereby challenge you to a
game of football for the championship of the township of
Cedarville, the game to be played Thanksgiving afternoon next at
two o'clock, at our grounds or at your own, as you may elect. We
would prefer to play on our grounds, as we have a grandstand,
one-half of which will be reserved for your friends, if you
will come over.
"PORNELL FOOTBALL TEAM,
"Per Harry Ackerson, Capt. and Secy."
"They certainly mean business," said Tom, who was in the crowd,
listening to the reading of the challenge. "I go in for accepting
"So do I," said Larry, who played halfback.
"And I," put in Fred, who was on the right end.
The members of the football team were all at hand, and it did not
take long to find out each was in favor of the game, and then the
matter was laid before Captain Putnam.
"Want to play football with Mr. Pornell's lads, eh?" smiled the
captain. "All right, I know of no healthier sport, rightly
conducted. You shall play them, and on their grounds if you wish.
But, mind you, no neglecting lessons for the sake of practicing
between now and Thanksgiving!"
The pupils promised to neglect nothing, and went off with a
Soon Peleg Snuggers was on his way to the rival academy with the
following answer to the challenge:
"PUTNAM HALL, November 19, 189-
"Pornell Football Team: We hereby accept your challenge to play a
game of football for the championship of the township on
Thanksgiving afternoon next at two o'clock. As you have a
grandstand we will play on your grounds. In return for the use of
half of your stand on this occasion the senior class of our
academy will put up a silver cup as a trophy, said trophy to go to
the club winning the game, and to belong to that club which shall
during matches to be arranged in the future win the cup three
"THE PUTNAM HALL FOOTBALL TEAM,
"Per Fred Harrison, Secy and Treas."
Dick had suggested giving the cup, and all of the senior class
"chipped in" willingly, raising ten dollars, with which a very
neat trophy was secured through a pupil whose father was a
silversmith in New York. I say all the senior class contributed.
I must correct this. There was one exception, and that was Dan
"I haven't got anything for you or your brothers," growled the
bully when Dick spoke of the matter before the class. "Let 'em
furnish their own silver cups if they want 'em."
"All right, Baxter; I guess Sam and Tom will be just as well
satisfied if you don't chip in," had been Dick's ready answer. "I
only wanted to give everyone a chance to own an equal share in the
gift, if it was desired."
"Our football team can't play for a sour apple, Dick Rover.
They'll be whipped out of their boots."
"If I was a betting boy, I'd bet you a dollar on the result,"
answered Dick coldly.
"I'll bet you ten dollars we win!" put in Fred Garrison
"I'll cover that bet," sneered Baxter, and drew from his pocket a
roll of bills.
"Gracious, Baxter, where did you get that wad?" questioned several
in chorus, for the supply of pocket money among most of the pupils
"Never mind—I have it, and that's enough," answered Baxter, but
he lost no time in putting all of the money but the ten-dollar
It was all Fred Garrison could do to scrape up an equal sum, and
even at that he had to borrow a dollar from Dick. But he was
"game," and the money went to another pupil, who became
stakeholder until the contest should be decided.
"It's a shame!" cried Sam, when he heard of the transaction. "To
bet against his own school! I'm like Dick—I don't believe in
betting, and yet I am glad Fred took him up. If it is in my
power, Baxter shall lose his wager."
Thanksgiving was but a week off, so the football team had to work
hard to get into proper condition. Moreover, studies must not be
neglected, for Captain Putnam was strict, and would have canceled
the game had his cadets become unmindful of their school duties.
But the team got permission to get up an hour earlier than usual
every morning, and this time was spent in the hardest kind of
practice with the ball.
The report that Baxter had bet against his own school spread, and
the bully became more unpopular than ever. But this did not daunt
him, and soon he had a dozen other bets on, aggregating fifty
dollars or more.
"It's a mystery to me where he gets so much money," said Dick to
Captain Blossom one day, "Is his father rich?"
"I can't tell you," answered the youthful commander of Company A.
"Fact of the matter is nobody knows much about Baxter—not even
Mumps his chum. Nobody ever comes to see him, and he seldom ever
gets any letters, yet he always has all the spending money he
"Perhaps he's got a gold mine somewhere," laughed Dick.
"I don't know about that, but I do know that there are days when
he hasn't a cent, and the next day he will have just such a roll
of bills as you saw him with day before yesterday—and the money
doesn't come to him through the mail either."
"Perhaps Captain Putnam deals it out to him."
Captain Harry shook his head. "Not much! The captain wouldn't
let him have more than five dollars at a time. I've been through
the mill, and I know."
Here the matter was dropped, but Dick had good cause to remember
this conversation later on.
The distance from Putnam Hall to Pornell Academy was a mile and a
half, and it was arranged that the football team, Captain Putnam,
George Strong, and several others should ride to the latter place
in the Hall carriages while the others walked the distance.
Thanksgiving dawned bright and clear. The morning was spent in
the Hall chapel, and dinner was served promptly at twelve.
"Don't eat too much," cautioned Sam. "I want every player to be
wide awake today."
The start was signalized by a grand flourish of tin horns; and
away went the two carriages with the horses on a gallop, followed
by a large number of the cadets on foot, organized into their
regular companies, with Major Bart Conners at the head of the
battalion. The boys were in their best uniforms, and certainly
presented an imposing appearance as they marched behind the music
of their drums and fifes.
When the grounds at Pornell Academy were reached, they were found
to be more than three quarters full, for the proprietor of the
place had opened up for the benefit of the public at large, and
many had come from Cedarville and the surrounding territory. The
grandstand was already comfortably filled, many coming into the
part reserved for the Hall folks on tickets of invitation issued
by Sam and indorsed by Captain Putnam.
"Here they come!" yelled the boys of Pornell. "Three cheers for
The cheers were given with a will; and, getting the football team
and the other cadets together, Putnam Hall gave a rousing cheer in
return for Pornell Academy.
Then the football teams disappeared into their respective dressing
rooms, and the newly arrived cadets took their places in the
grandstand. A timekeeper and referee had already been appointed
by Sam and the rival captain, at a meeting at the Hall three days
"My! what a crowd!" exclaimed Tom, as he surveyed the multitude.
"I didn't think we were going to have such an audience as this!"
"Nor I," returned Sam. "We must do our level best, fellows!"
"That's what!" came from several. "If we get whipped—"
"Remember what Baxter did—that's enough to nerve anybody on,"
finished Larry Colby.
"By the way, where is Baxter?"
"Sneaked out of the ranks," answered another player. "Nobody
wanted to march with him."
"Well, I don't blame them," concluded Sam.
"Doctor Pornell now put in an appearance and desired to know if
the football team did not wish to march around the oval escorted
by his own players.
"Certainly!" cried Sam. "And to show this is a purely friendly
match, let us march side by side," he went on, and this was also
arranged. The Putnam Hall drum-and-fife corps led the march, and
each player strode forth with a rival at his side. The march
brought forth a wild round of applause and a veritable shrieking
of tin horns and cracking of wooden clappers.
After the march each team was allowed quarter of an hour for
practicing. The Pornellites came out first and tumbled over the
leather in lively fashion. The Putnamites soon followed.
"They may be all right, but they haven't the weight," said one of
the rivals. And this appeared true, for each Pornellite, man for
man, was at least five pounds heavier than his opponent. But
weight does not always count for everything, even in a football
"Time for practice is up!" came presently, and the two teams drew
away from the gridiron. Then there was a toss-up for goals, and
Pornell won and took the east end, that which was most favored by
the slight breeze that was blowing.
And then the great game began.
THE GREAT FOOTBALL GAME
The halves were to be of twenty minutes each, so no time was lost
in putting the leather into the field. It was Putnam's kick-off,
and on the instant the ball went sailing into the air, to land
well into Pornell's territory. Then came a grand rush, and before
the words can be put down twenty-two lads were at it nip-and-tuck
to get possession of the sphere.
"It's Pornell's ball!"
"Say, but ain't this going to be a snappy game!"
"Our fellows have the ball!"
"There she goes up five yards into Putnam ground!"
"Carry that ball back!" yelled Dick excitedly. "Don't let them
gain an inch!"
"Whoop her up for Pornell!"
And then came a wild blare of tin horns and a waving of the
academy colors, brown and white. The waving of the Hall colors,
an American flag set in a border of green, came also, with an
equal din from horns and wooden clappers.
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!"
So, the game went on for ten minutes, and the Pornellites had
gained exactly twenty-five yards—no more.
"Looks like a stand-off," said several. "Say, maybe those young
soldiers aren't game!"
"That's what—but we'll wax 'em!" was the answer, and then of a
sudden came another yell, for Pornell had the ball and was pushing
it straight ahead for Putnam's goal.
"Five yards more!"
"Fifteen yards more!"
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"
Toot! toot-a-root-toot! Clack-clack-clack, bang!
The Pornellites were now wild, but they stared blankly as they saw
plucky Tom Rover snatch the leather up and run back twenty yards
"He's going right through with it!"
"There goes Hardy after him!"
"Down they go!"
"Lushear has the ball! It's going back!"
"Run, Lushear, run! A dollar if you make it!"
"They can't catch him! Oh, pshaw! Down he goes!"
"But the ball is safe! A touchdown! Hurrah!"
The cry was correct. Just three minutes before the end of the
first half the Pornell team scored a touchdown. Instantly
preparations were made to kick a goal if possible. But the kick
was a failure, and the two sides retired for the half with the
score standing 4 to 0 in Pornell Academy's favor.
Glumly the Hall boys retired to their dressing room, there to be
rubbed down by their chums. "It's too bad, it certainly is," came
from a dozen sympathizers.
"But it can't be helped. Don't give up yet."
"They are too heavy for us in mass play," said Sam. "We must try
more running away with the leather." And so it was agreed.
Soon the gong rang, and they re-entered the field.
"Now, Putnam Hall, do your best! We are looking at you!"
"They can't play a little bit," sneered Dan Baxter. "I'm ashamed
of them," and he smiled to himself, thinking the fifty dollars put
up on the game was already as good as won.
Sam had given his team some explicit instructions, and these were
now being followed. As soon as the ball came into Putnam's
possession there was a run on their part that carried the sphere
twenty yards into their opponents territory.
"Go in and win, Putnam!"
"That's the way to do it!"
"Take it from them, Pornell! Go for it! Take it!"
And Pornell did take it, and half the distance gained was lost.
Both teams were now warmed up, and for fully five minutes the ball
flew back and forth, remaining at the end of that time almost in
the center of the gridiron.
Then Pornell tried some heavy mass play, but lost the leather on a
fumble, and it came into Tom Rover's possession.
Away flew Tom, as though a legion of demons were after him,
straight for Pornell's goal. The crowd began to shout itself
"See Tom Rover! Go it, Tom, old boy, go it!"
"He can't carry it through! See, Conkey and Largren are after
"There he goes down! Conkey has the leather!"
This was true, but ere Conkey could start to run Fred Garrison
brought him to earth and the ball rolled out into the field.
Sam and a Pornell halfback made a rush for it.
"My ball!" yelled the Pornellite, who was twenty pounds heavier
than the little captain.
"Not today!" retorted Sam, and snatched it from under his very
feet. Before the Pornellite could recover from his astonishment,
Sam was pelting up the field with all the nimbleness of his agile
"Hurrah for Sam Rover!"
"Great Caesar! see him leg it! They can't catch him!"
"There he goes over the line!"
"A touchdown! The game is a tie!"
"Quick, fellows!" cried Sam. "Only five more minutes, remember.
Who is to kick?"
It was a player named Larcom. But Larcom was not equal to it, for
the wind was rising and blowing in several directions at once.
"No goal! The game is a tie!"
"Put the ball out again!"
"Only four minutes to play!"
Again the football went forth, and again the crowd pounced upon it.
The Pornellites were now desperate and massed themselves as never
before. They pushed forward ten yards—fifteen—twenty—almost
thirty. It looked as if they would score another touchdown, if not
kick a goal. But now Sam Rover sent a certain sign to his players. It
was taking a risk, but it was worth trying.
The ball came over to the right of the field and spun like
lightning to the left. Fred caught it up, ran ten yards, and
passed it to Larry Colby, who turned it over to Tom. Away it
went to Sam, and then to Frank. The Pornellites were bewildered.
Where was the ball?
"Putnam has it!"
"There she goes! Hurrah for Frank Harrington. Another
It was true. Putnam Hall had scored another touchdown. A
tremendous yelling and cheering broke out, in the midst of which
the gong sounded. The game was over, and our boys had won the
In a twinkle the gridiron was covered with swarming students, and
Sam and his fellow players were hoisted up on willing shoulders,
to be trotted around the oval. "Hurrah for Pornell!" they
shouted. "Hurrah for Putnam!" came back the cry. It had been a
bitter but friendly contest, and victors and vanquished shook
hands over and over again.
Of course many students of Pornell were bitterly disappointed, but
no one felt so sour over the whole afternoon's doing as did Dan
Baxter. In all he had lost over fifty dollars, and now neither
his fellow students nor the boys of Pornell Academy wanted
anything to do with him. "I haven't any use for a chap who bets
against his own crowd," was the comment of one academy student,
and he voiced the sentiment of all. Only Mumps stuck to his chum,
and the two soon left the grounds together.
By four o'clock the cadets were on their way back to Putnam Hall,
the carriages moving behind the two companies of young soldiers,
who sang and shouted themselves hoarse as they moved along. Even
Captain Putnam entered into the spirit of the affair. "Brings me
back to the days when I was a cadet myself," he said to George
Directly after supper a huge bonfire was lit on the playground,
and the students were allowed to have their own fun until eleven
o'clock. The football team was, of course, the center of
attraction, and Sam and Tom came in for their full share of
While the festivities of this Thanksgiving Eve were at their
height, a sudden thought struck Dick. Captain Putnam had given
the cadets permission to go beyond bounds if any cared to do so,
and he hurried away, his intention being to call upon Dora
Stanhope and see how she was faring. Although Dick would not
admit it, he thought a great deal of Dora, and he was sorry that
she was in danger of having the detestable Josiah Crabtree for a
It was a clear, moonlight night, and he hurried off in the best of
spirits, taking a short cut by way of a road through the woods.
As he walked along he remembered how Tom had met in this vicinity
the thief who had stolen the watch.
"I wonder if I'll meet him," he thought, but no tramp put in an
appearance; indeed, he did not see a soul until the Stanhope
homestead was reached.
A light was burning brightly in the sitting room, and the curtains
were drawn down to within six inches of the bottom of the windows.
Dick was about to ascend the porch, when he changed his mind and
walked softly to one of the windows.
"If they have a lot of company I won't disturb them on a holiday
like this," he thought, and peeped under one of the curtains.
The sight that met his gaze filled him with astonishment and
indignation. Only two persons were present, Dora and Josiah
Crabtree. Crabtree had the girl by the left wrist, and had one
hand raised as if to strike his prisoner.
DICK AT THE STANHOPE COTTAGE
Such were the words which sprang involuntarily to Dick's lips as
he gazed at the scene before him. He was filled with bitter
indignation and could hardly resist the temptation to break in the
window and leap to Dora's assistance.
As he paused, he saw Dora push Crabtree back and leap to the
opposite side of the center table.
"Don't you dare to touch me, Mr. Crabtree!" came loud enough for
Dick to hear quite, plainly.
"I want you to behave yourself, young lady," stormed Josiah
"I know how to do that without your advice."
"No, you don't. You have set your mother against me. If it
hadn't been for you, we would be married long ago."
"I believe a daughter has a right to advise her mother concerning
a stranger, Mr. Crabtree."
"Well, an outsider—if you like that better."
"I am no outsider. I've known your mother for years. I might
have married her, instead of your father doing so, if he hadn't
played an underhanded trick which—"
"Stop, Sir. You shall not say a word against my father."
"Good for Dora!" thought Dick. "She's the right kind."
"Your mother is quite willing to marry me, and as a dutiful
daughter you should bow to her wishes."
"Mother is not herself, Mr. Crabtree. Ever since father died she
has been upset by business matters, and you have pestered the life
out of her. If you would only go away for a month or so and give
her time to think it over, I am sure she would end this matter
"Tut, tut, child, you do not know what you are talking about!
Your mother has given me her word, and you ought to bow to the
"She has not yet married you, Sir, and until she is actually bound
to you there will still be hope for her."
"This is—is outrageous!" cried Josiah Crabtree wrathfully. "Do
you think I will allow a mere slip of a girl to stand between me
and my plans? Just wait until I am your father—"
"You shall never take the place of my dear dead father, Mr.
Crabtree—never!" and now Dora's eyes filled with tears. "He was
ten thousand times better than you can ever be!"
"I must admit I can't see it. He had not half the education I
possess," answered Josiah Crabtree conceitedly.
"Perhaps not, but he had an honest, warm heart, and that counts
for more than a mere book education. I fancy many men are
smarter, even in book learning, than Mr. Josiah Crabtree; who
tried last week for an opening at Columbia College and failed to
meet the requirements."
"Ha! who told you that?"
"Mother told me."
"She is foolish to take you into her confidence. It was not my
fault that I failed of the opening—merely the pig-headedness of
those having the matter in charge. However, I do not care much.
As soon as your mother and I are married, I shall make some
changes here, put up a fine brick building, and open a rival
school to Putnam Hall."
"Gracious, here is news!" thought Dick. "Wonder what Captain
Putnam will say to that?"
"Will you?" ejaculated Dora. "And who will give you permission to
make alterations here?"
"Mrs. Crabtree—that is soon to be."
"Do you know that she holds this property in a trust for me, Mr.
Crabtree? It will be hers only if I die before I become of age.
Her own shares of papa's estate is situated further up the lake,
At this announcement Josiah Crabtree started back. "You—you
are not telling the truth," he faltered.
"But your mother is the executrix of your father's will."
"Exactly. Consequently she has full control of all the property
until you are twenty-one."
"She has—but certain changes suggested by you or her would be
subject to the approval of the court or the surrogate, so I have
been told," answered Dora quietly.
Josiah Crabtree glared at the girl, and then began to pace the
floor impatiently. "Dora, see here," he said finally. "Let us
come to terms."
"Your mother and I are bound to get married. Remove your
opposition to this, and I will promise not to interfere with you
in the least. You can do as you please and go where you please,
and you shall have all the spending money from time to time that
the estate can afford."
At this the girl's lip curled proudly. "I do not thank you for
your offer, Mr. Crabtree. The whole difficulty is just here—I
do not like you; and my mother shall never marry you so long as I
can prevent it."
"You—you saucy minx!" he snarled and leaping around the table caught
her by the wrist again. "I'll tame you before I am done with you, mark
my words! If you dare to talk to your mother again—Hullo, who is
"Dick Rover!" cried Dora in amazement and in delight.
For Dick had suddenly thrown up the window sash, which was
unlocked, and leaped straight into the sitting room.
"Let her go, Josiah Crabtree!" ordered the young cadet. "Don't
you dare to strike her, or I'll knock you flat!"
"One of the Rover boys!" muttered the ex-teacher. "What business
have you here at this hour of the evening? Have you run away from
"Since you have been discharged, I do not feel called upon to
answer your question," answered Dick. "But you must let Dora
alone, or there will be a broken head around here, I can tell you
At Dick's plain words Josiah Crabtree greatly paled. He had
dropped the girl's wrist and now he fell back several steps.
"I was not harming the girl, only trying to reason with her."
"Oh, I know you well enough. I've heard you were the most
pigheaded teacher they ever had at Putnam Hall," rejoined Dick
warmly. "I shall take pains to let Mrs. Stanhope know what they
think of you, too."
"Was he discharged?" asked Dora. "He told mamma that he had left
of his own accord."
"He was discharged," answered Dick, who had got word through Peleg
"It is not true!" stormed Josiah Crabtree. "This is a—a plot
to injure me in the eyes of Mrs. Stanhope, and you shall pay
dearly for it, boy!" and he shook his fist in Dick's face.
"Don't do that again, Mr. Crabtree, or we may have a set-to right
here—begging Dora's pardon," answered Dick, his eyes flashing
"That's all right—don't give in an inch to him, Dick,"
whispered Dora. "I hate him—oh, more than words can tell!" and
she caught the youth's arm.
"I am not afraid of you, boy!" was the short return, but now the
ex-teacher turned to the hallway. "I was on the point of leaving,
and now I will go, Dora. But I will be back in a day or two," and
he strode from the room. A moment later he had secured his hat
and overcoat and taken his departure.
"Oh, what a dreadful man!" sobbed Dora, when he was gone. "Dick
Rover, what shall I do?" and she looked at him pleadingly.
"It's a puzzle to me, Dora—worse than an example in cube root
in algebra!" He smiled sadly. "But if I was you I'd hold out and
never let him marry my mother."
"Oh, I will never consent to that—never! But he may marry her
"If he does, you can apply to the courts for another guardian—if
Crabtree doesn't treat you fairly."
"But I do not wish to separate from my mother."
"Well, the only thing to do is to keep fighting him off. In the
meantime I'll try to get some folks who know Crabtree well to tell
your mother just what a mean, crabbed fellow he is. Undoubtedly
he is after the money your father left."
"So I always supposed—but mother does not think so."
"How is your mother?"
"She is doing nicely, and may be out in a week or two. I am
keeping her in as long as possible, so that Josiah Crabtree cannot
argue her into going off and getting married."
"You certainly have your hands full, Dora," answered the young
cadet. "I wish I could take this burden off your shoulders,
indeed I do!" and impulsively he caught up her plump, hand and
"Oh!" She snatched the hand away and blushed prettily, but was not
angry. "I—I—; it's something to know one has a friend,
Dick," she said softly. "Can I come to you if I—that is if I
want something done?"
"To be sure, Dora—I'll do anything in the wide world for you
there!" and he kissed her hand again.
At that moment an elderly lady who had been hired to wait on Mrs.
Stanhope came in, and the conversation was changed. Dora asked
about life at the Hall, and Dick told of the football game and of
the parts Tom and Sam had played in it.
"You are a great set of boys!" Dora smiled.
"I wish I had a couple of sisters."
"You have your two cousins, Nellie and Grace."
"Yes, but they are not as intimate as sisters would be—although
they are the best of cousins."
"What does Mr. Laning say of Crabtree?" Dick whispered, as the
nurse left the room for a moment.
"Uncle does not like him, but he says the whole matter is none of
his affair—and mother must do as she thinks best."
It was now growing late, and Dick took his departure, kissing
Dora's hand a third time as they stood in the darkness of the
porch. "You're terrible!" she murmured, but it is doubtful if she
meant anything by it. Girls and boys are about the same the world
over and Dick's regard for Dora was of the manly sort that is
creditable to anybody.
"Hurrah, boys, the ice is forming just as fast as it can! We'll
have skating in twenty-four hours!"
It was Sam who came rushing into the gymnasium with the news. The
place was crowded at the time, for it was too cold to play on the
"Skating!" cried Tom. "That just suits me. I wonder if I brought
my skates along?"
"You didn't," answered Sam. "Neither did I."
"I have my skates," said Fred Garrison. "Brand new pair."
"My skates were old," said Tom. "I must strike Captain Putnam for
a couple of dollars of my allowance and buy a new pair."
"So must I!" put in Sam. "Dick, I know, has his skates."
It was early in December, and it had been growing colder steadily.
There had been one fall of snow, but it had amounted to but
The next day skating in the cove of the lake near Putnam Hall was
excellent, the ice being from three to four inches thick. At once
Sam and Tom went to Captain Putnam.
"Want to buy some skates?" said the captain. "Well, the money I
am keeping is your own, and I presume every boy likes to skate.
Here are two dollars for each of you. Show me your purchases when
you get back."
"We will," replied the lads, and hurried off, for time was
precious, with the smooth ice waiting for them. They knew that a
certain hardware dealer in Cedarville had a good quantity of
skates on hand, and started to walk to the village without delay.
"Baxter is going to buy a pair of skates, too," said Sam, on the
way. "I heard him telling Mumps about it."
"Well, we don't want Baxter for company," answered Tom. "He can
It did not take the lads long to reach Cedarville, but once at the
hardware store considerable time was lost in getting just the
"It's queer Baxter hasn't shown up," said Tom, when they were
ready to leave.
"Perhaps he went elsewhere for his skates," suggested Sam.
The hardware shop was at the end of the village street, and as
they passed a number of places of business Tom suddenly caught his
brother by the arm.
"There is Baxter now—just entering that tavern!" he exclaimed
in a low voice.
"The tavern!" repeated Sam. "Why, it's against the regulations to
enter a drinking place!"
"I don't care—I saw Baxter go in," returned Tom. "He was with
a tall man."
"If Captain Putnam hears of this, Baxter will be sent away, or at
"Perhaps, Sam; but I shan't tell him."
"No; we're no tale-bearers. Let us go up to the side windows of
the tavern and see if we can see them."
This was agreed to, and the two boys hurried up to first one
window and then another.
"They are not in the saloon part, that's certain," said Tom
blankly. "But I saw Baxter go in, and the tall man with him."
"Here is a side room," answered Sam.
"And there they are, at a corner table. The man is giving Baxter
Tom peeped into the window over his brother's shoulder. "My
"What's up now, Tom?"
"That tall man is the same fellow I met in the woods. The man
that was with the tramp who stole the watch!"
"You don't mean it!"
"But I do! See the scar on his chin?"
"He is that thief's pal, as they call it."
"And he just gave Baxter some bank bills! What does it mean?"
"I give it up. But I know one thing—that man ought to be
"That's true. Oh! they have seen us! If they—hi! what do you
mean by that?"
For a burly bartender had suddenly come up behind both of the boys
and hurled them backward.
"No spying around this place!" cried the dispenser of liquors
roughly. "Take yourselves off!"
"There is a man inside I want to see," said Tom.
"Why don't you come in, then?"
"I will—as soon as I can find a policeman or a constable."
"What! going to have a gent arrested?"
"The man inside knows all about a stolen watch."
"You must be mistaken."
"No, I am not. Where can I find a policeman?"
"Down at the steamboat landing, most likely."
"All right. Sam, you stay here and see that that fellow don't
make tracks," and Tom prepared to move away.
"See here, we don't want any trouble in our place," said the
barkeeper. "We run a respectable house, we do."
"Then you ought to help me bag the pal of a thief," retorted Tom.
"Hold on, Tom!" came from Sam. "They're gone! They slipped
through a back door!"
Tom ran up to the window again. It was true Baxter and the man
with a scar had disappeared.
"Come on back!" he cried to his brother, and both ran to the rear
of the tavern. Here there was a yard, at the end of which stood a
barn and a long, low carriage shed. Only a negro hostler was in
"Perhaps they haven't come out yet," began Sam, when he caught
sight of a buggy on a road behind the barn. It was going at a
furious rate, the scarred man driving, and lashing his mettlesome
horse at the same time.
"There goes the man!"
"That's so. Where is Baxter?"
"I don't know."
They ran after the buggy, but soon gave up the chase, as man and
turnout disappeared around a bend leading to the woods back of
"We've lost him!" murmured Tom, when he could get back his breath.
"Now who in the name of Old Nick can he be?"
"Evidently a friend to Baxter. Perhaps he is Baxter's father?"
"Baxter's father—Gracious! He is!"
"How do you know?"
"I'm not positive, but when I met him and the thief in the woods,
the thief, who was called Buddy, started to call that fellow
Baxter, but the tall man wouldn't have it, and made him call him
Nolly. His right name, I feel certain, is Arnold Baxter."
"Then, if he isn't Baxter's father, he must be some close
relative, otherwise he wouldn't give Baxter that money. Now it is
easy to see where the bully gets all of his cash. That tall man
must be rich."
"Yes, but who knows how he comes by his money? He is the chum of
a thief, that's certain."
A search was made for Dan Baxter, but he could not be found. As a
matter of fact, he had been in the buggy, hiding under the seat.
The boys hung around for quarter of an hour longer, and then
resolved to return to Putnam Hall.
"No use of making a row about it," said Tom. "I remember that
policeman at the steamboat landing. He is a terribly fat fellow
and evidently a hard drinker. He couldn't help us enough. We had
better try to work this out on our own account. I'll tackle
Baxter the first chance I get."
When the Hall was reached they looked around for the bully, but
found he had not returned. They had now to go in for their
studies, and for the time being the affair was dropped.
That afternoon found them on the lake, and while enjoying the
skating Dick was informed of what had occurred. "A bad crowd,"
said the elder Rover. "Yes, tackle Baxter, by all means. But be
cautious what you say, for you can't prove much, remember."
A race had been arranged between the boys, and Dick was one of the
contestants. The distance was from one end of the cove to the
other was a little over three-quarters of a mile. There were ten
starters, including Fred, Frank, Larry, and Mumps. Mumps had a
reputation as a skater, gained at his home on the Hudson River.
"All ready?" shouted the starter.
There was a dead silence.
"Go!" came the word, and away went the ten, their skates flashing
brightly in the setting sun. Soon Larry Colby was in advance,
with Mumps just over his shoulder.
"It is Larry's race!"
"Mumps is a close second!"
"Shake 'em up, Fred! What are you lagging about, Frank? Go it,
Skirk skirk skirk went the skate runners, and now a crowd of lads
started in pursuit of the racers. Soon the turning point was
gained. Larry was in advance still, but now Mumps overtook him,
and suddenly the boy from the Hudson who had such a reputation as
a racer shot fifteen feet in advance. It looked as if the race
was certainly his, and Larry and the others felt much downcast.
THE SKATING RACE—DAN BAXTER IS CORNERED
The wind had been with the racers thus far, but as one after
another of the skaters turned the mark they found the wind now
full in their faces, and it was blowing freshly.
"Mumps will win beyond a doubt!" was the cry, as the lad from the
Hudson River forged still further ahead.
"My skate is loose!" cried Larry, and a second later the skate came
off and flew fifty feet away.
By this time Dick and Fred were coming up, slowly but surely. It
seemed to be nip-and-tuck between them, and the friends of each
"Go it, Dick; you can come in second anyway!"
"Make him follow you, Fred! You can do it if you try!"
On and on went the racers, Mumps still ten feet ahead, Fred and
Dick side by side, and the others in a bunch just back of them.
But the strain was now beginning to tell upon Mumps, who had
pushed himself too much from the start. Halfway to the finish
from the turning point Dick and Fred began to crawl up, until they
were less than a yard behind him, one at either hand.
"Go it, Mumps! They are catching you!"
Mumps did try to increase his speed, but his wind was gone and he
could hardly strike out. The finish was now in sight, and the
boys began to shout on every side:
"Go it, every one of you!"
"Hurrah! Mumps, Dick, and Fred are a tie!"
It was true the three boys were side by side. But presently both
Dick and Fred made extra efforts and forged ahead.
"It's your race, Fred!"
"It's yours, Dick!"
But it was neither's race—for with a shout both whizzed over
the line at the same instant.
"And Mumps ain't in it!"
"Three cheers for Dick and Fred!" shouted Frank Harrington, and
the cheers were given with a will. By this time the play hour was
over, and all of the skaters rushed back to the Hall, to get ready
for the drill previous to supper. It is needless to add that each
lad brought an extra big appetite with him.
All of the Royer boys noticed that Dan Baxter did not turn up at
roll call, nor did the bully put in an appearance that night.
"Got a day off," said Mumps, but that was all he could tell.
Late on the following day Tom was walking toward the gymnasium
when he caught sight of Baxter just entering the school grounds.
He at once ran toward the bully.
"Baxter, I want to have a talk with you," he said sharply, as he
looked the bully squarely in the face.
"Do you?" was the uneasy answer. "All right, fire ahead."
"Hadn't you better come up to the dormitory? We can have it all
to ourselves, for the others are either in the gymnasium or on the
"Well, I was going up to our dormitory anyway," answered Baxter,
and stalked off, leaving Tom to follow him. Once they were in the
dormitory occupied by the bully and his set, Baxter locked the
"Now out with what you have got to say, and be quick about it," he
"I want to know who that man was, you met in the tavern in
"Didn't meet any man in particular. Met half a dozen in general."
"You know the man I mean—the tall fellow, with a scar on his
"Oh, that fellow? I think his name is Nolly. He's a book agent,
and I promised to buy some histories from him," and Baxter
pretended to yawn, as if he was not especially interested.
"You are not telling the truth, Baxter," answered Tom, undaunted
by this show of nerve.
"Do you mean to say I lie, Rover? Take care, or you may be sorry
for what you say!"
"You can't pull the wool over my eyes, Baxter. That man's name is
no more Nolly than mine is George Washington or yours William
"Isn't it? Then perhaps you know his real name."
"I do. His name is Arnold Baxter."
Had a bomb exploded at Baxter's ear he would not have appeared
"Say, who told you that?" he demanded fiercely and caught Tom by
"Let go of me, Dan Baxter."
"I say, who told you that?"
"I heard his name in the woods. He was with the man who robbed my
brother Dick of his watch, when we were at home."
"Stuff and nonsense!" growled the bully, but he was very pale, and
his voice shook with emotion. "That man's name is William Nolly.
He used to know my father. That is why I helped him along by
giving him an order for the histories. I don't really want the
"If you was helping him, how is it that Sam and I saw you taking a
roll of bills from him down at the tavern?"
Again Baxter started. "You didn't see no such thing!" he roared,
regardless of his grammar. "I—that is—he gave me some
change, that is all. Here are the books I bought," and he pointed
to a package he had been carrying.
"It's a made-up story," retorted Tom. "He gave you money, and my
opinion is that that man is your father, and that he is no better
than the man with whom he associates."
The words had scarcely left Tom's lips than Baxter leaped upon
him—like an enraged animal and hurled him to the floor. "I've a good
mind to—to kill you for that, Rover!" he hissed. "Take it back, or
I'll choke you to death!" and his strong hand sought Tom's throat.
"Will you!" came in a gasp, and now Tom turned over and threw the
bully to one side. "I guess two can play at this game. Take
that!" and he struck Baxter a heavy blow on the side of the face.
In a moment they had clinched and were trying their best to throw
Suddenly came a rattle of the door knob. "Boys! Boys! What does
this mean?" It was George Strong's voice. "Open the door
"Keep your mouth shut!" whispered Baxter, as he again shook his
fist in Tom's face. "Not one word—on your life!"
Then he disengaged himself, adjusted his collar and tie, which had
become rumpled, and unlocked the door. At once the head assistant
strode into the dormitory.
"Have you two been fighting?" he demanded.
"We were only boxing a bit, sir," answered Baxter, before Tom
could speak. "No harm intended, sir."
"You were making a good deal of noise," answered George Strong
dryly. "What have you to say, Rover?"
"I have this to say, Mr. Strong," answered Tom boldly. "I would
like to interview Captain Putnam without delay."
"Don't you dare—" began Baxter, when a wave of the teacher's
hand cut him, short.
"About what, Rover?"
"About this affair, and about Baxter, sir. I am not a telltale,
but certain things have happened which I think Captain Putnam
should know for his own sake and for the reputation of his
"You—you imp!" hissed Baxter. He wanted to spring at Tom, but
now George Strong caught him and held him fast.
"Baxter, you had best come with me—and you too, Rover."
"To see Captain Putnam?" queried Tom.
"I don't want to go," blustered the bully. "Let Rover tell his
yarn—I don't care. It will be only another of his lies."
"Then you shall go to the guardroom," said the teacher. "Rover,
you may go to see the captain alone."
"I will sir—at once," and Tom made away. He had no sooner
departed than George Strong marched Baxter off to the guardroom
previously described. As the pair passed down the stairs they
encountered Mumps coming up.
"Hullo, Dan, what does this mean?" asked Mumps in wonder.
"I'm under arrest," laughed Baxter bitterly. "And for nothing,
"Silence!" commanded George Strong. "If you have done nothing
wrong, you will soon be released."
"You bet I will," rejoined Baxter insolently, and then, watching
his chance, he made a sign which Mumps well understood. The sign
meant "Come and help me if you can."
Mumps nodded to show that he understood. Then he pretended to go
up to the dormitory, while the head teacher conducted Baxter to
the guardroom, locked the impudent one in, and walked away with
THE BULLY LEAVES PUTNAM HALL
"So you wish to see me, Rover? Very well, come right in and sit
down," said Captain Putnam, who sat in front of his desk, making
up some of his accounts for the month just past.
Tom came in and sat down. It must be confessed he was a trifle
nervous, but this soon wore away.
"I came to tell you something and to ask your advice," he began.
"You remember what happened to me when I ran away into the woods
just after arriving at the Hall?"
"Very well, Thomas," and the captain smiled.
"Well, when Sam and I went to Cedarville to buy our skates we saw
Dan Baxter in the tavern there, in company with the man with a
scar on his chin. This man gave Baxter some bank bills."
"What! At the tavern?"
"Please tell your story in detail, Rover," and now Captain Putnam
swung around so that he might get a full view of his pupil's face.
And Tom told his story from beginning to end just as I have set it
down in the foregoing pages.
"I am certain this man is some relative of Baxter," he concluded.
"And I am equally certain he is not an honest fellow."
"Humph!" Captain Putnam arose and began to pace the heavily
carpeted floor. "Rover, this is a serious charge."
"I understand that, Sir. But you can't blame us boys for trying
to get back Dick's watch and trying to—to—"
"Bring the guilty party to justice? Certainly not! But it would
seem the man with a scar is not the thief."
"No, but he is the boon companion of the thief."
"That is true—unless there is some grave mistake. But you are
right about one thing, the man is really Baxter's father, and his
name is Arnold Baxter."
"And why does he travel around under the name of Nolly?"
"That is the mystery. I met Mr. Baxter only once—when he
placed his son in my care. At that time I was certain he was
wearing a wig and a false mustache. The scar was on his chin,
although he tried to hide it. I have never seen him since. When
any money is due from him he sends it to me by mail and does not
ask for any receipt. I once asked Baxter about his parents, and
he said his mother was dead and he didn't know exactly where his
father was, as the latter was a great traveler and went
"If you are right, and the man is a rascal, it is to his credit
that he is trying to bring his son up as a gentleman. Perhaps he
doesn't want Daniel to know anything of the past. Do you follow
"I do, sir. But if this is so, would he take his son into the
"Perhaps—everybody is not so opposed to drinking as I am."
"Well, if Mr. Baxter is a bad man, I rather think Dan is a chip of
the old block," rejoined Tom bluntly. "But be that as it may, all
I want to get hold of is that thief and Dick's timepiece."
"I will question Baxter closely," answered Captain Putnam. "But I
do not wish to hold him guilty of something of which most likely
he knows nothing."
George Strong had by this time come in, and he was sent to bring
Baxter. He was gone but a few minutes when he came back in high
"Baxter has broken out of the guardroom!" he, exclaimed. "I
cannot find him anywhere!"
"Did you look in the dormitory?"
"Yes, sir; and his valise is gone, and his trunk is empty of all
"Humph!" Captain Putnam's brow contracted. "This looks very
At that moment one of the smaller cadets came in with a note in
"I just met Baxter running down the road!" exclaimed the little
fellow. "He gave me this for you, Captain Putnam."
At once the proprietor of the Hall tore open the communication and
read it half aloud:
"Good-by to Putnam Hall forever. It is full of fellows who are no
good and run by a man I never liked. No use of following me, for
I am going to join my father, and I don't mean to come back.
"P. S.—Tell the Rover boys I shan't forget them, and some day I
shall take pains to square accounts.
"The foolish boy," was the captain's comment. "But perhaps he has
done what is best, for it might have been necessary to dismiss
him." For a long while those at the Hall wondered how Baxter had
escaped. Only Mumps knew and he kept the secret to himself. A
duplicate key to the door of the guardroom had done the trick.
As Baxter was not followed, nothing more was spoken of him for the
time being, and after several days the cadets settled down to
their regular work as though nothing out of the ordinary had
occurred. A hunt was instituted by Dick for Arnold Baxter and
Buddy the thief, but no trace of the pair came to light.
The Christmas holidays were now at hand and the closing days at
Putnam Hall were given over to several entertainments. One of
these consisted of a stage performance of a play called "A
Christmas in a Tenement," given by twelve of the boys. Three of
the lads, including Tom, took female parts, and the audience
laughed itself sore over the antics that were cut up.
Many living in the vicinity came to the entertainment; including
all of the Lanings and also Dora Stanhope and her mother; who was
now almost as well as ever.
"It was fine!" said Nellie Laning to Tom. "But, oh, Tom, what a
girl you did make!"
"Wouldn't you like me for a sister?" queried Tom.
"A sister! Oh, dear!" cried Nellie, and began to laugh again.
"You looked like a female giraffe!" put in Grace Laning. "Sam
acted a little boy splendidly. Sam, don't you want a stick of
"Yes, mammy, please," squeaked Sam, just as he had on the stage,
and another laugh went around.
In the meantime Dick had drawn Dora to one side. "What is the
news?" he asked anxiously.
"Nothing new," sighed Dora. "Josiah Crabtree has gone to Boston
on business. I am afraid I cannot keep that marriage off much
longer. He seems bound to marry mother, and even if she feels
like drawing back she hasn't the courage to tell him so."
"It's a shame," murmured Dick. "Well, remember what I said, Dora,
if I can ever help you I will." And he squeezed her hand. Before
they separated he gave her a silk handkerchief he had purchased at
Cedarville, one with her initial in the corner, and she blushingly
handed over a scarf made by herself. Dick was very proud of that
scarf, although Tom and Sam teased him about it unmercifully.
Of course the boys had received letters from their uncle and aunt
regularly, yet they watched eagerly for the hour that should bring
them within sight of the farm with its well-known buildings. The
journey to Oak Run proved uneventful, and here Jack, the hired
man, met them with the carriage.
"Glad to see you, lads," he said—with a grin.
"Seems quite natural like."
"So it does, Jack!" cried Tom. "Let 'em out, for we want to get
The snow was falling, and by the time the farmhouse was reached it
was several inches deep. "We're in for a sleigh ride before we go
back," said Sam.
Their uncle and aunt stood at the door to receive them. "Welcome
home! Merry Christmas!" came from both, and each of the boys gave
a warm handshake to Randolph Rover and hearty kiss to their Aunt
Martha. Past troubles were all forgotten.
This was Christmas Eve, and the boys stayed up late, cracking nuts
by the blazing log fire and having a good time generally.
In the morning Dick was the first one awake.
"For gracious' sake!" he ejaculated, staring at the chimney piece.
"There hung his own stocking and also one each belonging to Tom
and Sam. Each was filled with goodies such as he knew only his
Aunt Martha could make.
"Sam and Dick, wake up, we've struck a bonanza!" he cried, and
hauled both from under the covers. All laughed heartily, and
marched down to the dining room with the stockings over their
"A merry Christmas to Uncle Randolph from all of us," said Tom,
handing over a much coveted volume on agriculture. "And a merry
Christmas to Aunt Martha from three bad boys," added Sam, and
turned over a fancy work-basket, both presents having been
purchased at Ithaca on the journey home.
"Ha! Just what I desired!" said Randolph Rover, adjusting his
spectacles. "I am very much obliged, boys—I am, indeed!"
"Such a pretty basket!" murmured Mrs. Rover. "It was very good of
you!" and she, hugged each lad in his turn. Then came more
presents—neckties, collars, and gloves for the boys, besides a
book for each written by a favorite juvenile writer.
"The snow is two feet deep!" said Dick, after an inspection, when
breakfast had come to an end. "We're booked for the house today!"
"We'll wait until afternoon," said Mr. Rover.
It was a happy time, even if they were snowed in. Soon the warm
sun came out and brought the snow down a little. "Best kind of
sleighing now," said the hired man, and drove around the biggest
sleigh on the place. All tumbled in, and the party did not return
until after midnight.
SOMETHING ABOUT THE PAST
During holiday week the boys took occasion to tell their uncle all
of the particulars concerning the tramp called Buddy, Arnold
Baxter, and his son the bully. It is needless to state that
Randolph Rover listened to their story with interest.
"I would like to meet this man with a scar on his chin," he said.
"Speaking of him reminds me of something that happened years ago."
"What was it, Uncle Randolph?" questioned Tom.
"Your father had an enemy who had a scar on his chin."
"What!" cried Sam. "Could it have been this Arnold Baxter?"
"Hardly, although such a thing is possible. This man was a
Westerner, and laid claim to some property owned by your father.
They had a quarrel, and the fellow shot your father in the arm and
then ran away. I never learned any of the particulars."
"Arnold Baxter and this Buddy spoke about a mining claim, and
about some papers," burst out Tom. "I'd like to wager he is the
"If he is, you want to beware of him," responded Randolph Rover
gravely. "He is your father's deadliest enemy."
"I'll remember that," said Dick, and his brothers nodded. The
matter was talked over for several hours, but brought little
On New Year's Day came another fall of snow, and the lads spent
the afternoon in a regular snowballing match among themselves and
with the hired man. Poor Jack caught it on all sides, and after
quarter of an hour's bombardment was glad enough to run to the
barn, for shelter. "But it's great sport," he grinned, as he
almost stood on his head trying to get from the back of his neck a
soft snowball which Tom had planted there.
The following day they started back for Putnam Hall, and on the
way met Larry, Frank, Fred, and a number of others. When Ithaca
was reached a surprise awaited the crowd. The weather was so cold
that the ice impeded transportation, and the Golden Star was not
making her usual trips to Cedarville and other points.
"Here's a state of things!" cried, Tom. "What's to do—walk to
"Well, hardly, seeing that it is a good number of miles and the
weather is bitterly cold."
"Well, if we can't walk and can't ride, how are we to get there?"
came from Sam.
"That's the conundrum, Brudder Bones," laughed Larry, imitating a
negro minstrel. "I'se gib it up, sah!"
"It's no laughing matter," said Dick. "We might stay in Ithaca
over night, but traveling may be no better in the morning."
"Let us send a telegram to Captain Putnam for instructions,"
suggested Fred, and soon the following message was prepared and
sent to the Hall by way of Cedarville:
"Six of us are held up at Ithaca by the cold. How shall we come
This message was forwarded without delay, and while awaiting an
answer Dick and his brothers took a walk through the town.
They were passing down the main street when Sam uttered a short
"Hullo, there is Josiah Crabtree!"
"Where?" questioned Dick with deep interest.
"Across the way. He has just entered the jewelry store on the
"Say, perhaps he's buying a wedding ring," blurted out Tom before
he stopped to think.
"Tom, that matter is no joke," came from Dick, as his face grew
red. "I sincerely hope, for Dora Stanhope's sake, that he never
marries, Dora's mother."
"Oh, so do I," answered Tom readily.
"Why, he isn't fit to be stepfather to a dog!"
"Let us look into the window and see what he is doing," suggested
Dick uneasily, for he could not get it out of his head but that
his brother's guess might be correct.
The window was broad and clear, and they looked through it into
the shop with ease. Josiah Crabtree stood at the counter, talking
to a clerk, who presently brought forth a tray of plain rings.
"It is a wedding ring, as sure as you are born!" cried Tom.
"I'm going in," said Dick in a low tone. "Wait for me here," and
he entered the establishment. There were counters an both sides,
and he walked to a position directly opposite to that occupied by
"I wish to see some cheap scarf pins," he said to the clerk who
came to wait on him, and the man hurried off to bring on the
"And is this the latest style of wedding ring?" Dick heard Josiah
Crabtree say in a low voice.
"Yes, sir, the very latest—and very tasty," answered the clerk
who was waiting on him.
"I wish two, one for the lady and one for—ahem—myself."
"Yes, sir—quite the style now for a gentleman to have a ring.
Want them engraved, of course."
"Yes. Here is a paper with the sizes and what is to be engraved
upon each. How much will they be with the engraving?"
"Six dollars each, sir."
"Six dollars! Don't you make a reduction on taking two?" asked
Crabtree, who was a good deal of a miser.
"We can throw off a dollar on the pair," answered the clerk, after
consulting the proprietor of the shop.
"I didn't expect to pay over ten dollars."
"We can give you this style for ten dollars."
"No, I want the latest—to please the lady."
"Humph!" muttered Dick. "You'll never please Mrs. Stanhope with
"Eleven dollars is the lowest we can take."
"And when will the rings be ready for me?"
"Day after tomorrow. We might do them quicker, but we have a
great deal of engraving ahead."
"Day after tomorrow will do, for I do not wish them until next
week," answered Josiah. "Here is my card. I am stopping at the
American House in this city."
"Yes, sir. Do you want the rings sent?"
"No, I will call for them," concluded the ex-teacher, and hurried
from the place. Sam and Tom saw him coming, and dodged out of
sight around the corner.
Dick had taken in all that was said and had in the meantime picked
out a cheap scarf pin which cost but ten cents. As soon as
Crabtree was gone he paid for the pin, shoved it into his pocket,
and rejoined his brothers, to whom he told the particulars of what
"He intends to marry Mrs. Stanhope next week," he declared
bitterly. "I would give almost all I'm worth to stop that
"Gracious, but you do think a heap of Dora!" said Tom slyly.
"Well, I don't blame you. She is a splendid girl—eh, Sam?"
"That's right," answered Sam.
"But, Dick, why not put up a job on old Crabtree?"
"What kind of a job?"
"Find out just when he wants to get married and then send him a
letter from Yale or some other college, requesting him to come on
at once if he wants a certain position. That will cause another
delay, and maybe Mrs. Stanhope will get sick of him."
"Oh, if only we could do something like that!" cried his elder
brother quickly. "I wish I could send him away out West."
"We'll manage it somehow—" put in Tom.
"Sam, what wonderful ideas you have for your years!"
"Oh; I take after my big brothers," answered the youngest Rover
Late in the evening a telegram was received from Captain Putnam:
"Remain in Ithaca over night, at the American House. Will send
word how to get here in the morning."
"The American House!" ejaculated Dick. "That is where old
Crabtree is stopping."
"If only we can have some fun with the old chap!" sighed Tom.
The six boys marched to the hotel in a body, told their story, and
showed the telegram to the clerk.
"All right," said the clerk. "We've had cadets stop here before.
I have a big room on the second floor, with two large beds in it.
Will that do?"
"That suits me," said Larry.
"Is Mr. Josiah Crabtree stopping here?" questioned Tom.
"Yes. He has the room next to the one I mentioned—his is No.
13, and yours will be No. 14."
"All right; thanks," answered Tom dryly, and immediately began to
lay plans for playing a joke on the old teacher.
"We don't want to let Mr. Crabtree know we are stopping here," he
said to the clerk later on. "He is no longer a teacher at the
Hall, and we would rather not meet."
"Shall I put you in another room?"
"Oh, no; only don't tell him we are here."
"I'll remember that, sir."
As soon as the boys had been shown to the big room, Tom turned to
his fellows. "I want each of you to chip in ten cents," he said.
"What for?" came in a chorus.
"For the purpose of getting square with old Crabby."
"I don't see the connection," said Larry. "Kindly be a little
"You'll see, or hear, the connection a little later on," answered
Tom. "Quick, shell out and I'll promise you your money's worth,
or return the amount with legal interest."
The fifty cents was quickly collected, and, adding ten cents of
his own, Tom ran from the hotel. "No fish market open at this
time of night," he said to himself.
"I'll have to try a restaurant," and hurried into the first place
which came into sight.
"Have you any crabs?" he asked, of the waiter who came to him.
"Yes, sah; very fine, sah. Want some soft-shell, sah?"
"I don't care whether they are soft-shell or as hard as rocks. I
want live crabs, the most active kind you have in stock."
The waiter stared in amazement, then called the owner of the
"You want live crabs?"
"I do—strong, active, go-ahead crabs, and I want them in a
"Is this a joke?"
"It will be—when the crabs get to work," answered Tom with a
"Oh, I understand," laughed the restaurant keeper. "How many?"
"What are they worth?"
"Good nippers are worth ten cents apiece."
"Give me six, and mind you put them in a strong box for me."
Five minutes later Tom left the restaurant with the live crabs
tucked safely away in a shoe box under his overcoat.
FUN AT THE HOTEL
It was no easy matter for Tom to get into the room Josiah Crabtree
was occupying, but after trying a good number of keys, fished up
here, there, and everywhere, one was at last found that fitted the
Striking a match, Tom entered the room quickly, drew back the
sheet of the bed, dumped in the crabs, and then pulled the sheet
up to its original place.
"He's coming!" whispered Sam, who stood guard at the door. "Hide,
Tom," and then he ran back to the big room adjoining.
Finding he could not escape, Tom threw the box under the bed and
rushed to a closet in the corner. Here he crouched down behind a
large trunk left in the place on storage. He had scarcely
secreted himself when Josiah Crabtree came in. He had shoved his
key in the lock, but had failed to notice that the lock-bolt was
already turned back.
"Oh, what a cold night," muttered the ex-school teacher as he lit
the gas. "A warm bed will feel fine."
"I reckon it will be warm enough," thought Tom.
As the room was scantily heated, Crabtree lost no time in
disrobing. Having donned a long night robe, he turned off the
gas, flung the sheets back, and leaped into bed.
Exactly ten seconds of silence followed. Then came a yell
calculated to raise the dead.
"Whow! What's this? Oh! What's got me by the legs? Oh, oh! oh!
I'm being eaten up alive! Let go there! Oh, dear!"
And with additional yells, Josiah Crabtree leaped straight out of
bed, one crab hanging to his left knee, several on his feet, and
one, which he had caught hold of clinging to the back of his hand.
At once he began to do an Indian war-dance around the apartment,
knocking the furniture right and left.
"Let go there! What on earth can they be? Oh, my toe is half off—I
know it is! Let go!" And then he struggled toward the gas jet, but
before he could light it Tom had slipped out of the apartment, closing
the door behind him. The banging of furniture continued, and then came
a crash, as the washstand went over, carrying with it a bowl, a soap
tray, and a large, pitcher filled with water. The icy water gushed
over Crabtree's feet, making him shiver with the cold, but the crabs
were undaunted and only clung the closer.
The noise soon aroused the entire hotel, and the clerk, several
bell-boys, and finally the proprietor, rushed to the scene. The
door was flung wide open.
"Have you been drinking, sir? How dare you disturb the hotel in
this fashion?" demanded the proprietor.
"The crabs! Take them off!" yelled Crabtree, continuing to dance
"Crabs? What made you bring crabs up here?"
"I—I—oh, my toes! Take them off!" shrieked Josiah Crabtree,
and kicked out right and left. One of the crabs was flung off, to
land in the hotel proprietor's face and to catch the man by the
"My nose! He will bite it off!" cried the hotel man. "Kill the
thing, Gillett—smash it with a-a-anything!"
And Gillett, the clerk, tried to do so, while the hotel man and
Crabtree continued to dance around in the wildest kind of fury.
Safe in their own room, the boys laughed until they cried. All
had gone to bed, and Tom lost no time in getting under the covers.
"Somebody has played a trick," began Crabtree when an extra nip on
his knee cut him short. "Oh, my, I shall die!" he moaned. "I
know I shall die!"
By this time the proprietor of the hotel had freed himself from
the crab that had nipped him on the nose. "You won't die, but
you'll get out of this hotel," he snarled. "Throw the crabs out
of the window," he continued to his employees, and after a good
deal of trouble one crab after another was hurled forth, the
window being kept open in the meantime and the icy draught causing
Crabtree to shiver as with the ague. As there seemed no help for
it the ex-teacher began to dress again with all possible speed.
"If I find out who did this I'll—I'll kill him," moaned Josiah
Crabtree. "I've been nipped is a hundred places!"
"You'll leave this hotel!" said the proprietor. "I've had enough
of you. First the room didn't suit, then the price was too high,
and at dinner and supper you found all manner of fault with the
menu. You'll go, and the quicker, the better."
"But look here—" began Crabtree.
"I won't argue with you. Either get out or I'll have you arrested
as a disorderly character."
"Not a word. Will you go quietly, or shall I have you put out?"
"I'll—I'll go!" gasped Josiah Crabtree, and five minutes later
he was on the cold street, satchel in hand, and saying all manner
of unpleasant things under his breath.
"Oh, Tom!" laughed Sam, and could go no further. Each of the boys
had felt like exploding a dozen times. It was not until an hour
after that any of them managed to get to sleep.
When they came down in the morning the hotel clerk winked at them.
"I'm not saying a word," he whispered. "But it served the old
crank right. Even the boss is doing a little smiling, although he
got quite a nip himself."
"Really, I don't know what you are talking about," answered Tom.
Then he shut up one eye, stuck his tongue into his cheek, and
strolled into the dining room.
"He's an out-and-out boy, he is," murmured the clerk, gazing after
Breakfast was finished, and the cadets were strolling around the
hotel awaiting further instructions from Captain Putnam, when a
man drove up to the door in a big livery-stable sleigh.
"I am after some boys bound for Putnam Hall," he said. "Captain
Putnam telegraphed to the boss to bring 'em up to the Hall in
"Hurrah!" shouted Sam. "Such a long ride will just suit me!"
"If it doesn't prove too cold," was Dick's comment.
There was but one seat in the turnout, the back being filled with
straw and robes. "Take your lunch with you," said the driver.
"For it's a long trip we have before us, and I reckon a part of
the road ain't none too good."
The clerk of the hotel was consulted, and soon a big lunch-box was
packed, containing sandwiches, cake, and a stone jug of hot
coffee. This was stowed away in the straw, and the lads piled in,
laughing merrily over the prospect before them.
"Off we go!" shouted Larry, and with a crack of the whip the
sleigh started. It was drawn by a heavy pair of horses, who
looked well able to get through any snowdrift that might present
Ithaca was soon left behind, and they sped swiftly along a road
running northward, a half mile more from the west shore of the
lake. The road was level, and somewhat worn by travel, and for
the first three miles good time was made.
"If we can continue this gait we'll reach Putnam Hall by three or
four o'clock this afternoon, allowing an hour's rest at noon,"
said the driver in reply to a question put by Frank. "But we have
still a number of small hills to climb, and it's not going to stay
as clear as it was early this morning."
The latter remark was caused by the sun disappearing under heavy
clouds. Soon it began to snow, at first lightly, and then heavier
"We're going to catch it!" said Tom, after the noon stop had been
taken at a wayside hotel, where they had taken dinner, keeping the
boxed lunch for later on. "The snow is four inches deeper than it
On they went again, the snow becoming so thick at last that they
could scarcely see a yard before them. It was very cold, and the
cadets were glad enough to huddle in the straw, with the robes
over them, leaving the driver to pick his way as best he could.
An hour had gone by, and they were wondering if they were anywhere
near Cedarville, when a wild shout rang out, and the next instant
came a crash, as their sleigh collided with another coming from
the opposite direction. A runner of each turnout was smashed, and
the occupants of the other sleigh came tumbling in upon the lads
in great confusion.
"Great Caesar! what's this?" groaned Tom as he shifted a weight
from his shoulders, and then he stared in amazement as he found
himself confronted by Nellie Laning!
"Tom Rover!" burst from the girl's lips soon as she could recover
her breath. "Did you ever!"
"Well, hardly!" murmured Tom, as he helped her to, a sitting
position. "You're coming in on us fast. What's the trouble? Oh,
and there is Grace and your father!"
"The sleighs ran into each other," answered Nellie. "Can you stop
the horses, father?" she called out.
"Yes, but the sleigh is a goner," answered Mr. Laning, and then
some sharp words passed between himself and the livery-stable
driver. There was no doubt, however, but that the blinding storm
was largely responsible for the accident.
An examination proved that both sleighs would have to be abandoned,
and then the two parties sought shelter at a near-by farmhouse, while
Mr. Laning went off on one horse, and the livery-stable driver on
another, each to borrow a sleigh elsewhere.
This left the boys in the company of the girls for over an hour,
and during that time Dick, Tom and Sam asked a great many
questions, especially about Mrs. Stanhope and Dora.
"Yes, the marriage is to come off next week, Thursday, unless
something prevents it," said Nellie. "Dora is fairly sick over
the prospect. What Aunt Lucy can see in Mr. Crabtree is more than
any of us can understand."
"He must have hypnotized her," observed, Dick. "It's a shame! I
wish old Crabtree was in Jericho!"
"So do all of us!" laughed Grace, and then Sam took her off for a
quiet chat, while Tom, monopolized Nellie.
"Those Rover boys think a great deal of the Lanings and
Stanhopes," observed Larry to Fred. "Well, it's all right—they
are awfully nice girls, every one of 'em!"
BALLOTING FOR A SECOND LIEUTENANT
"Back to Putnam Hall at last! How home-like the place looks!" Sam
uttered the words as he leaped from the sleigh and ran for the
main entrance, where Captain Putnam stood to receive them. He had
heard of the accident, and was fearful that one or another of his
pupils might have been hurt.
"Thank Providence that no one was killed or seriously injured!" he
observed, as he wrung each by the hand. "Welcome, lads, and I
trust you have all had happy holidays."
"The same to you, Captain Putnam!" cried one after another, and
then they passed in to be greeted by George Strong and the new
Cadets kept coming back for three days, on the following Monday
the regular school opened, to end in July. Soon the boys were as deep
in their studies as ever before.
In the meantime Dick had concocted a scheme for sending Josiah
Crabtree on a goose chase to Chicago. Tom had a friend in that
city, and he was requested to mail without delay a certain letter
which Tom enclosed with his own.
This letter was composed by Dick. It was written on a large
letter-head upon which Dick printed the advertisement of the "Mid-West
National College, Incorporated," doing the work on a small printing
press used by some of the boys in getting out a school monthly. To
make the letter even more imposing, Dick printed the body of it on a
typewriter which was used by one of the classes taking a business
course. The letter ran as follows:
"JOSIAH CRABTREE, A. M., Cedarville, N., Y.
"CHICAOO, January 1, 189-.
"Dear Sir: You have been recommended to us by a New York
scholastic employment agency as a first-class teacher in
mathematics, history, and other branches. We are in immediate
need at the opening of this term of such a teacher, and will pay
two thousand dollars per year. Will you come on at once, at our
expense, with a view to closing with us? Our institution is a new
one, but we already have eighty pupils, of the best families of
the Middle West, and are certain to have fifty more before the end
of the year. We understand that you are a bachelor, which state
just suits our wants. Kindly wire us and come on before Thursday
the 10th, if possible. The two thousand per year is, of course,
exclusive of board and suite of rooms, which, we provide for all
of our instructors.
"ANDREW N. BLUFF, LL.D., President."
"If that doesn't make old Crabtree hustle then I miss my guess,"
said Tom after reading the communication. "He loves money too
well to let that two thousand slide—marriage or no marriage.
Even if he wants to wed, he'll go West to try and fix it up to
hold the position anyway."
The letter was posted to the friend in Chicago that very night.
On the letter to Josiah Crabtree was placed an address in
Cedarville which was certain to catch him.
On the following day Captain Putnam, announced an election for
second lieutenant of Company A. "Lieutenant Darman will not be
here any longer, as his family have moved to England," he said.
"I trust you elect the best cadet possible to the office. The
election takes place next Wednesday at noon."
At once a lively discussion took place. There were half a dozen
pupils who wanted the position, and among them were Dick, Fred,
"I ought to have that place," said Mumps, and on the quiet he
started to buy up votes where he could not influence them in any
other way. This move succeeded among the smaller lads, but the
big boys turned from him with scorn.
It must be confessed that Dick was exceedingly anxious when the
time for balloting arrived. Would he succeed or fail?
Just before dinner Captain Putnam brought out a square box into
which ballots might be cast.
"The cadets will stand up in a row to be counted," he said.
"Major Conners, will you will kindly count your command."
"Eighty-seven, including myself," announced the youthful major,
after he had gone down the line and back with care.
"Are any cadets absent?"
"Very well then, we will proceed to vote by having each cadet come
up and cast a slip of paper with his favorite's name on it in the
box. The line will march in single file, one pace from man to
The captain stood by the ballot box, and up came the file, Major
Conners first and Captain Blossom following. In a few minutes all
of the eighty-seven ballots were in the box, and then began the
"I will now read the result of the first ballot," announced
Captain Putnam, holding up a paper with the figures, and amid a
dead silence he began:
Whole number of votes cast 87
Necessary to a choice 44
Fred Garrison has 32
Richard Rover has 8
George Granbury has 15
John Fenwick has 12
"Consequently, nobody is elected. Another vote will be taken
immediately after dinner," and then the companies were re-formed
and marched into the mess hall.
"Fred Garrison is ahead!" came in a whisper from every side.
"Good for you, Fred!"
"Mumps only got a dozen votes," came from one of the little boys.
"He won't get my vote next time."
"Nor mine," chimed in his chum.
"Don't worry, Dick," whispered Tom. "The final result isn't
reached yet. Somebody has got to drop out first."
The dinner finished, the boys gathered in knots to talk the
question over. Soon the line was re-formed for a second ballot.
At that moment Fred Garrison stepped forward.
"Fellow students!" he cried. "One word before you vote. I wish
to withdraw from the contest, doing so in favor of two of my
friends, Dick Rover and George Granbury. I thank those who voted
for me before from the bottom of my heart."
"Hurrah for Fred!" came from a score of throats, and a cheer rent
the air. "We won't forget you next time, old man!"
Soon the second ballot was cast, and amid another silence Captain
Putnam read it off:
Number of votes cast 87
Necessary to a choice 44
John Fenwick has 7
George Granbury has 23
Richard Rover has 57
"Richard Rover is declared elected second lieutenant of Company A
for the balance of this term."
A cheer broke forth, and many of the cadets came up to shake Dick
by the hand. Among the number were Fred and George Granbury.
"You beat me fairly, Rover," said Granbury, a whole-souled fellow.
"I am satisfied—so long—as such a cad as Mumps doesn't get
"Mumps was badly left," put in Tom. "See, he is sneaking off to
his room. I rather guess he wishes he hadn't run."
"I thank you all very much," said Dick, his face glowing. "I
shall try to do my best as second lieutenant. Three cheers for
all of the cadets of Putnam Hall!"
And the cheers broke forth with renewed vigor.
"Dick, you must do the square thing tonight," said Frank some time
"What do you mean?" asked the elder Rover.
"When a fellow is elected to an office he is supposed to treat his
friends. All of the cadets will be sneaking up to your dormitory
some time between ten and twelve o'clock tonight."
"Indeed!" Dick mused for a moment.
"All right—I'll be ready for them, Frank; but mum is the word."
"You will treat?"
"I'll treat every cadet who shows himself and doesn't make any
"Good for you! Then I can spread the word that it is all right?"
"Beware of Mumps. If he heard of what is going on I think he
would try to spoil our game."
"I'll be careful," answered Frank, and hurried off in one
direction, while Dick hurried off in another.
Both had scarcely disappeared than Mumps came forth from behind a
hall rack which stood close at hand.
"How lucky to overhear their talk," said the sneak. "Will I spoil
their game? Well, just wait and see, that's all!"
PREPARING FOR A MID-NIGHT FEAST
Dick was in a quandary as to how he was to treat all of his
friends, and called Sam and Tom to him for consultation.
"I've got a dollar and a quarter," said Sam, "you can use that,
"And here is a dollar and ten," added Tom, passing over the amount
in ten cent pieces and nickels. "Haven't you any money of your
"I have two dollars and thirty cents," answered Dick.
"That makes four dollars and sixty-five cents," said Tom, summing
up. "That's enough for a pretty fair blow-out."
"So it is, Tom, but where is the stuff to come from? Mrs. Green
won't sell it to me."
"And she has her pantries all locked up."
"Oh, pshaw! You don't want to treat the boys on school stuff,"
said Sam. "Get 'em something from Cedarville—some bottled
soda, candies, nuts, and things like that."
"That's the talk, Dick. Let us sneak out after dark and go to
Cedarville!" cried Tom. "That would just suit me."
"I'll think it over," answered his big brother slowly.
After supper found most of the cadets indoors, for the night
promised to be cold. About half of the boys remained in the
library, while the others betook themselves to their rooms.
"Well?" queried Tom, as he approached Dick on the stairs.
"I'm ready, Tom," answered his brother.
"But be careful, or we'll be spotted."
Like a pair of ghosts they glided up the front stairs, along the
broad hallway, and down the stairs in the rear. The door was
unlocked, and they passed into the yard.
"Let us take Peleg Snuggers into our confidence," whispered Tom.
"For a quarter I am certain he'll let us have one of the captain's
"You can test him if you wish," answered Dick, who was doubtful.
Peleg Snuggers was found in the harness room shining up some
buckles by the aid of a stable lantern.
"Hullo, Peleg—working rather late," was Tom's greeting.
"Yes, sir—got behind," answered the utility man. "What brought
"I want a horse, Peleg. Which one can I have?"
"A horse! Did the captain send you?"
Instead of replying Tom held out a silver quarter. "Don't ask
questions, Peleg, but just let me take a horse for an hour or two,
that's a good man."
"Can't do it, Master Rover—against orders, sir."
"Oh, yes, you can. We won't hurt the beast. We are bound to get
to Cedarville and back before ten o'clock. Do you want us to drop
on the road from exhaustion and be frozen to death?" and Tom put
the question in all seriousness.
"No, no, certainly not!"
"Then bring out a horse. That black will do. Here, take the
quarter, Peleg, and much obliged to you. Hurry up."
"Was there ever such a boy!" grumbled the man; but, nevertheless,
he arose and got the black horse ready for them, hooking the
animal to a small cutter.
"Remember, if the captain learns of this, I don't know nothing
about it…," he called out, as the two boys drove off by a back
way, out of sight of the main building of the institution.
"Peleg is all right, if you know how to handle him," said Tom, as
he took the reins from Dick.
"I'll let him out a bit, and we'll drive to Cedarville in a
"Tom, you're getting more cheeky every day," was Dick's comment,
yet he was far from displeased over what his brother had
Away went the cutter, the roads being now in an excellent
condition. Soon Putnam Hall was left far behind, and they came
within sight of the Stanhope homestead.
"I'd like to stop for just a minute," said Dick, but Tom shook his
"We want to get to Cedarville before the shops close," said the
"We can stop on the way back—if we have time," and they
continued on their way.
Both knew Cedarville "like a book," as Tom expressed it, having
been there so many times before. They drove straight to the
largest confectionery in the village.
"A pound of chocolates, a pound of marshmallows, a pound of iced
fruits, and five pounds of best mixed candies," said Dick, and the
articles were quickly put up for him.
"A dollar and thirty cents, please."
The bill was paid, and they hurried to another store, where they
purchased two dozen bottles of soda water, a dozen bottles of root
beer, and five pounds of mixed nuts. Tom wanted to buy some
cigarettes for such of the cadets as might wish to smoke, but Dick
shook his head at this.
"No, that's going too far," he said. "We'll have a respectable
spread, and that's enough."
Inside of half an hour they had started on the return, the various
articles purchased stowed safely away in the back of the cutter.
"We'll have at least fifteen minutes to spare," said Dick, and
waited as patiently as possible until the Stanhope homestead again
appeared. As soon as they gained the entrance to the garden, Dick
hopped out, ran up the path to the porch, and rang the bell. Dora
Stanhope answered his summons.
"Oh, Dick, is that you?" she cried. "Come in."
"I can't stay but a few minutes, Dora," he answered as he entered
the hall. "I must get back to the academy. I thought I would
just stop to see how you are getting on."
"Oh, everything is the same, Dick."
"I heard the marriage was to take place this week."
"Let me tell you something," went on the boy, and told her of the
letter to be sent from Chicago to Josiah Crabtree.
"Oh, I hope he gets it and goes!" exclaimed Dora quickly, and her
face brightened a bit.
"Send me word if he does," said Dick.
He remained for ten minutes longer, but what was said and done
need not be mentioned here. When he left his heart was all aglow,
while Dora was blushing deeply. "Best girl in the world," he
murmured. "What an awfully nice young fellow," was Dora's
"Hurry up!" cried Tom from the sleigh, when his big brother put in
an appearance again. "I'm most frozen stiff!" And on went the
cutter, the horse feeling quite fresh after his rest.
"I'll go ahead and see if the coast is clear," said Dick, when
they reached the vicinity of the stable, and he leaped into the
snow. It did not take long to walk to the barn. He was gone but
a few minutes, and came back on a run.
"We are in for it!" he cried. "Mr. Strong is down at the stable
talking to Peleg Snuggers."
"Great Caesar! What's to do?"
"Get the stuff out of the sleigh first and hide it near the Hall
in the snow," answered Dick. "Be quick!"
His advice was followed, Tom carrying the soda water and root beer and
Dick the other things. All were hidden in a snow bank—directly under
the dormitory window.
This accomplished, Dick led the horse up to the back of the stable
and unhitched him. He could hear George Strong and the utility
man talking less than twenty feet away.
"Very well, Snuggers, I'll be back shortly," he heard, coming from
the head assistant, and Strong walked from the stable toward the
In a twinkle Dick ran around the stable corner. "Quick, Peleg,
here is the horse, all unhooked. Put him in his stall. The
cutter is back there, out of sight," and as the hired man took
possession of the animal, the youth ran off, to join his brother
at the entrance to Putnam Hall.
"The door is locked!" groaned Tom.
"Something is wrong."
Without replying, Dick ran around to a spot under the dormitory
window. Making a soft snowball, he threw it against the glass,
and followed this by several others. Presently the window was
thrown up, and Sam, Fred, and Larry showed their heads.
"Say, you fellows, help us up!" cried Dick softly. "There is a
wash line in the closet—the one my Aunt Martha insisted on
tying around my trunk when we came here last summer."
There was a scramble in the room, and presently the end of the
line was thrown out. It was new and strong, and quite capable of
supporting either of the lads' weight.
"You go first, Tom but be quick!" said Dick softly, and his
brother caught hold and went up with ease, bracing one foot after
another against the rough stonework and projecting bricks. Then
the rope came down a second time and Dick ascended.
Hardly were the boys in the room than there came a loud knocking
on the door.
"It's Mr. Strong!" gasped Sam. "What shall we do now? It looks
as if we were a caught!"
MUMPS IS TAUGHT A LESSON
The cadets stared blankly at each other. Only two of them were
undressed; the others had all of their clothing on.
It was time for the head assistant to go the rounds, to see that
all was right for the night. Should he be allowed to enter the
dormitory he would certainly "smell a mouse," and perhaps knock
all of their plans for a feast in the head.
"Off with your clothing, all of you!" whispered Tom. "I'll manage
this affair. Pretend to be asleep."
"But, Tom, it's my fault—" began Dick, when his younger brother
cut him short.
"Into the bed—I'll be all right, Dick."
Satisfied that Tom had some plan in his head for smoothing matters
over, the other boys disrobed with marvelous rapidity and crept
into their beds. While this was going on the knocking an the door
"Boys, open the door!" said George Strong. "Open the door, do you
"Answer him!" whispered Tom to Larry, whose bed was nearest him.
"Pretend you have just awoke," and he flung himself on the floor,
with one of a pair of big rubber boots in each hand.
"Oh—er—Mr. Strong, is that you?"
"Yes, open the door."
"Why—er—is it locked?
At once Larry tumbled from his bed, unlocked the door and stood
there rubbing his eyes. "Excuse me, Sir, for not hearing you
"I want to know what the meaning is of the noise in here?" said
George Strong severely, as he gazed around the dimly lit
apartment, for the lamp was turned low. "You boys are—gracious
me! What's this?"
The teacher started back in genuine surprise, and his words
aroused all of the boys in the beds, who followed his gaze in
For in the center of the floor sat Tom, his eyes tightly closed, a
rubber boot in each hand, and rocking backward and forward with
great rapidity, as if rowing.
"Two lengths ahead!" muttered Tom. "I'll beat you yet, Larry!
Three lengths! Oh, but this is a dandy race! Pull away, you
can't beat me! Oh! There goes an oar," and, bang! went one of
the rubber boots against the base board, and Tom made a leap as if
diving into the water after it, sprawling and spluttering as he
pretended to swim.
"He's got the nightmare again!" shouted out Sam, quick to
understand Tom's dodge. "Tom, wake up there!"
"The nightmare!" echoed Mr. Strong. "Is it possible? Poor boy!
Wake up, Thomas!" and he caught Tom by the shoulder and shook him
and finally set him on his feet.
"The oar—I will have the— Oh!" Tom opened his eyes and stared
around him blankly. "Why—er—what's up?"
"My boy, you've had the nightmare," answered the teacher kindly.
"I told you not to eat that pie tonight," put in Sam. "He saved his
pie from dinner, and ate it just before we came up here,"—which was
"Er—I thought I was on the lake racing Larry Colby," murmured
Tom and hid his face as if in embarrassment. "What did I do?" he
"You almost raised the roof, that's what you did," answered Dick.
"You had better send home for some of those digestion tablets you
used to take," and then he hid his face in the blankets to keep
from laughing out loud.
"I will." Tom turned to George Strong. "Excuse me, Mr. Strong, I
am sorry I have caused you so much trouble."
"How do you feel now?" questioned the assistant anxiously.
"Oh, I'm all right now."
"Well, then, go to bed; and I trust you sleep more soundly for the
balance of the night," said the teacher; and he remained in the
room until Tom was tucked in, when he went off, taking the key of
the door with him.
"Tom, you're a brick!" came from Frank, when the teacher was out
of hearing. "What a head you have on your shoulders!"
"Strong took the key of the door," said Fred.
"I don't like that."
"Shove a chair-back up under the knob," suggested Dick, and this
was done, the chair thus making an excellent brace.
"Now to get that stuff in," said Dick, donning his clothing with
all possible speed. "I shouldn't wonder if the soda and root beer
are frozen as hard as a rock."
He was soon ready to descend, and the others lowered him by aid of
the wash line. Then the boxes and packages were hoisted up, and
Dick came after.
A few minutes later came a slight tapping on the door, repeated
three times. It was a signal, and Sam opened the door, admitting
George Granbury and seven other cadets from dormitory No. 2. The
occupants of several other dormitories followed.
"Are we to have Mumps and his crowd in here?" asked one of the
"I don't want Mumps," answered Dick. "Not because he ran against
me, but because he was Baxter's toady and is a regular sneak."
"Little Luke Walton and Mark Gross voted for you, Dick," said
Harry Blossom. "They ought to be invited."
"All right, tell them to come in, and anybody else who wishes,
outside of Mumps," answered Dick.
The young captain went off, and soon returned with six boys of
Sam's age or younger.
"Mumps is awfully mad," he announced. "My idea is, he is going to
cause us trouble if he can."
"We'll wax him good if he does!" cried Tom. "Say, Sam, let us
watch him," and he hurried into the hallway, while the others
attacked the several good things Dick had provided for them.
Tom and Sam had been in the dark hallway but two minutes when the
door of Mumps' dormitory opened and the sneak came out, wearing
his slippers and his long overcoat. He glided swiftly toward the
side stairs leading to Captain Putnam's private apartments.
"He's going to peach!" whispered Tom, "Come on, Sam, let us
capture the enemy!" and he hurried after Mumps and caught him by
"Hi! who is this?" demanded the sneak, turning in fear. Then, as
Tom and Sam confronted him, his face grew white.
"Come with us, Mumps, we want to treat you," answered Tom readily,
into whose head another trick had entered.
"I don't want any of your treat," growled the sneak. "Let me go."
"Oh, you must come," urged Tom. "We have a fine bottle of root
beer and a lot of candied fruit for you."
If there was one thing that Mumps liked, it was root beer, while
he knew candied fruit was very rich eating. Accordingly he
"I'll get all I can first and tell on them afterward," he thought,
and allowed Tom, and Sam to conduct him into the dormitory
occupied by the Metropolitan Sextet.
"Here is Mumps come to join us!" cried Tom, as he introduced the
sneak into the room and he winked at Dick. "Now, Mumps, sit down
and make yourself at home, and I'll get something for you," and he
motioned the sneak to a position at the head of his bed.
He hurried off, and presently came back to Mumps with a fine slice
of candied orange. The sneak was greedy, and instantly
transferred the entire slice to his mouth and began to chew it
"Oh!" he cried presently, and drew down his face in disgust.
"What's the matter, Mumps?" asked Sam.
"This orange tastes like kerosene!" spluttered Mumps, and rushed
to the window. As he put out his head, Tom pointed to the sneak
and then to the lamp at which he had "flavored" the candied fruit.
"We'll get square just wait," he whispered. "You gave me that
piece on purpose," howled the sneak, as soon as he had cleared
his mouth. "Oh, what an awful dose! Somebody give me a drink of
"The water is all gone, Mumps," answered Tom. "Awfully sorry.
Have a glass of root beer," and he poured out a tumbler full.
Willing to drink anything to take that taste out of his mouth, the
sneak took the tumbler and gulped down about half of the root
The remainder was about to follow, when suddenly he stopped short.
"Awfully good, isn't it?" put in Dick.
"Good? It tastes like salt water!" snorted Mumps. And he was not
far wrong, for Tom had taken the pains to put a lot of salt in to
the glass before filling it up.
"Why, that is the best root beer I ever tasted," put in Larry.
"It's as sweet as sugar. Let me taste your glass, Mumps."
"Do so with pleasure," and the sneak passed it over. Larry
pretended to take a gulp. "Fine! Couldn't be better. Isn't that
so, Frank?" and he passed the glass to Harrington. "It's
certainly as good as mine, and that's O. K.," answered Frank; and
then George Granbury took the tumbler and declared the root beer
was even better than what he had had previously.
"It's certainly your stomach, Mumps, my boy," said Tom. "You look
kind of funny—just like a fellow I knew who got the smallpox."
"He does look like a fellow getting the smallpox," put in Dick.
"Mumps, does your tongue feel dry-like?"
"Dry, of course it is dry—and salty," growled Mumps, but he
began to grow uneasy.
"Let me see your tongue," put in Sam, who happened to have a blue
pencil in his pocket. As he spoke he broke off some of the blue
point and crumbled it in his fingers.
"My tongue is all right," answered Mumps. Nevertheless, he held
it out; and Sam slyly dropped the bluing on it.
"It's as blue as indigo!" he exclaimed, "Look into the glass for
Somewhat against his will, Mumps strode over to the looking glass.
As he noted the condition of his tongue, he grew very pale and
began to tremble.
"It is blue," he whined, "and—and—I feel sick all over. Oh,
say, do you think I really am getting the smallpox?"
For an instant there was a dead silence. Then the boys could hold
in no longer, and a long but smothered laugh showed the sneak how
completely he had been sold.
A LIVELY GAME OF BASEBALL
If ever a boy was mad clear through that boy was the sneak of
Putnam Hall. As the laugh ended, Mumps shook his fist at one and
another of his tormentors.
"Think you are smart, don't you?" he spluttered in his rage.
"I'll fix you all! I'll go and tell Captain Putnam all about this
spread, and then maybe you won't catch it!"
"Mumps, keep quiet," said Dick, placing himself between the
enraged one and the door. "Make too much noise, and I'll promise
you the worst drubbing you ever received."
"If you peach on me, I'll give you a second whipping," added Tom.
"This is a gentlemanly affair," put in Larry.
"The boy who gives us away gets a thrashing from me."
"Ditto myself," said Frank; and several others said the same. All
looked so determined that Mumps fell back in alarm.
"You let me go," he whined. "I don't want to stay here any
"You can't go until you promise to keep quiet," said Dick.
"And you'll promise right now," cried Tom, seizing a pitcher of
ice water that had been hidden under one of the stands. Leaping
on a bed he held the pitcher over Mumps' head.
"Promise, quick, or I'll let her go!" he went on.
"Oh, don't!" yelled Mumps, as a few drops of the water landed on
his head and ran down his neck.
"Do you promise to keep silent?" demanded Dick.
"All right. Now mind, if you break that promise you are in for at
least ten good whippings."
"Somebody else may give you away," said Mumps craftily.
"No one will. If Captain Putnam hears about this it will be only
through you. So beware, Mumps, if you value your hide!" And then
the sneak was allowed to go. Five minutes later the spread came
to an end, the muss was cleared away, and every cadet sought his
couch, to rest if not to sleep.
It is possible that Captain Putnam and George Strong suspected
something, yet as the cadets seemed none the worse for the
festivities the next day, nothing was said on the subject. "Boys
will be boys," smiled the captain to his head assistant; and there
the whole matter dropped.
Several days later, while some of the cadets were down at the cove
clearing off a portion of the ice for skating, Mrs. Stanhope's
man-of-all-work came over with a note for Dick from Dora. The
Rover boys all read the note with deep interest.
"I have good news [so ran the communication]. Mr. Crabtree has
gone to Chicago, and the marriage has been postponed until next
summer. You do not know how glad I am. Of course there will be
trouble when Mr. Crabtree learns how he has been fooled, but
mother has promised me to remain single until August or September,
and I know she will keep that promise. I thank all of you very
much for what you have done. Yesterday I saw Dan Baxter, who
seems to be hanging around this neighborhood a good deal. He
wanted to speak to me, but I did not give him the chance. I wish
he would go away, for he looks to me like a very evil-minded
person. It is strange, but Mr. Crabtree thinks a good deal of
him, and has told my mother so. He says it is nonsense to put Mr.
Baxter down as a criminal."
"Baxter stopping around here…" mused Dick. "What can he be up
"He had better clear out," said Sam. The matter was discussed for
some time, but nothing came of it.
Skating lasted for nearly a month, and then both the ice and the
snow melted away as if by magic. Soon spring was at hand, and the
early flowers began to show themselves in Mrs. Green's little
garden, which was the housekeeper's one pride.
Dick had seen Dora once in that time. The girl had told him about
how Josiah Crabtree had searched in vain for the college mentioned
in the bogus letter.
"He said I played the trick," were Dora's words. "He wants mother
to send me to some strict boarding school."
"And are you going?" had been Dick's question.
"No, I shall remain with mother. After she is married again I do
not know what will become of me," and as Dora's eyes filled with
tears Dick caught her hand.
"Don't worry, Dora," had been his words. "I will help you, and it
is bound to come up right in the end."
As soon as summer was at hand, the Putnam Hall baseball club
received a challenge from the Pornell club to play them a game at
either school grounds.
"They want to square accounts for the football defeat," said Fred.
"Well, the only thing to do is to accept the challenge," and the
acceptance was sent without delay, the game to be played on the
Putnam Hall grounds, Captain Putnam having promised the cadets his
aid in building a grandstand. The lumber came out of a boathouse
that had been torn down to make place for a new structure, and as
many of the cadets took to carpentering naturally, the grandstand
was quite a creditable affair.
Frank Harrington was captain and catcher for the Putnam Hall team.
Tom was pitcher, while Larry played first base, Dick second, and
Sam was down in center, to use those nimble legs of his should
occasion require. Fred was shortstop, and the balance of the club
was made up of the best players the school afforded.
The Saturday chosen for the game was an ideal one, clear and not
too warm. The students from Pornell arrived early, and so did the
other visitors, and by two o'clock the grounds were crowded.
As before a parade was had. Then the umpire came out and gave
each team fifteen minutes for practice.
"We're in luck," said Dick, when Putnam Hall won the toss and took
last innings. In a moment more they were in the field, and the Ump
called out: "Play!"
As was natural, Pornell had put its heaviest batters at the head
of their list, and it is possible Tom was a bit nervous as he
twirled the ball and sent it in toward the home plate.
"Ball one!" came the decision, and again the sphere came in.
"Ball two!" said the umpire.
"Take it easy, Tom!" called out Dick. "Lots of time, remember."
The next was a strike. Then came a foul, and then a hard drive to
left field, and amid a wild, cheering the Pornell batsman gained
second base in safety.
"That's the way to do it, Cornwall! Keep it up, Snader!"
The second player now came up, and again the ball came in. Tom
was as nervous as before, and another hit was made, and the player
covered first, while the man on second went to third.
"Tom, do be careful," whispered Frank, walking down to him.
"Don't let that fellow in," and he nodded in the direction of the
The third player was now at the bat. Two balls and two strikes
were counted against him and then came a foul, high up in the air,
which Frank caught with ease.
"One out, and two on base! That's not so bad."
Again the ball came in. "One strike!" said the umpire. "I want a
high ball!" growled the batter. Again the ball was delivered.
"Two strikes!" Then the ball came in again. "Three strikes!
Batter out!" And Tom got a rousing cheer for striking out the
But the two men were still on first and third, with one more man
to put out.
"Take care!" whispered Larry, and the basemen all moved up closer.
One strike, and then came a high fly, far out in center field.
"Run, Sam! Don't miss that!" came in a yell. "Run! run!"
And Sam did run, knowing that if he missed the ball the Pornell
team would score two runs, if not three. It was going far down
the field, but he was after it, and just as it came down, he made
a leap and—clutched the sphere with his left hand.
"He has it! Hurrah! No runs this innings for Pornell!" And the
Putnamites howled themselves hoarse, while their opponents had
nothing to say.
But the players from the rival academy had a fine battery, and it
was impossible to "get onto" their pitcher's curves during that
first innings. The players went out in one, two, three order,
leaving the score 0 to 0.
"It's going to be a close game," said an old player from,
Cedarville. "I'm not betting on either side."
The second innings passed without any scoring being done. In the
third innings the Pornell team made two runs. In the next innings
Putnam Hall pulled a single run "out of the fire," as Dick put it,
for it was his tally, made on a slide halfway from third base.
After this there were more "goose eggs," until the end of the
eighth inning when the score became a tie, 2 to 2.
One more inning for each side, and the excitement became intense.
"We must prevent them from scoring, by all means," said Frank as
they took the field, while the first batter of the Pornellites
came to the plate; and amid a breathless silence the final innings
OFF FOR THE SUMMER ENCAMPMEMT
The present situation was enough to make any pitcher nervous, and
it must be confessed that Tom could scarcely control himself. "A
wild pitch, and it's all up with our side," he thought, as he took
his place in the "box."
"One ball!" That was the verdict as the sphere landed in Frank's
hands. "Two balls!" came immediately after.
Frank paused, then rolled the ball to Tom. "Do be careful,"
whispered Dick. "Take your time."
"Perhaps we had better put Larry in the box," suggested another
player, but Tom shook his head determinedly. "I'll stick it out!"
"One strike!" The batter had tried, but failed to hit the sphere.
Tom felt more hopeful, but immediately after came three balls and
then four balls, and amid a cheer from his friends the Pornell
player walked to first base.
The second man at the bat went out on a foul, and the cadets
cheered this time. Then came a strong hit to left field, and in
came one run.
"Hurrah! 3 to 2 in Pornell's favor!"
"You've got 'em on the run now, boys; keep it up!"
Two balls, and the next batter knocked a hot liner to Fred. It
came along like lightning, but Fred wore a "do-or-die" look and
made a dive for it—and held on, although his hands stung as if
scorched with fire.
"Hurrah! Two out! Now for the third, and then knock out that
lead of one run!"
Alas! This was easier said than done. The next player gained
first, and so did the youth to follow. Then came a heavy hit, and
the score went up to 5 to 2. But that was the last of it, so far
as Pornell was concerned.
"Now, Putnam Hall, see what you can do!"
Larry was at the bat, and cautious about striking. "One strike!"
called the umpire, as the boy let a good ball go by. Another real
strike followed, and then Larry caught the sphere fairly and
squarely, drove it far into left field, and made a home run.
"A homer! Wasn't that great!"
"That makes the score 5 to 3. Keep it up, Putnam Hall!"
The home run was very encouraging, and now Dick came forward with
his ashen stick. He had one strike called on him and then managed
to make a clean one-base hit.
Another player, named Forwell, took stand next. The pitcher for
the Pornell team was now as nervous as Tom bad been and suddenly
Forwell was hit in the arm by the ball.
"Dead ball!" cried the umpire. "Take your base," and Forwell went
to first, while Larry marched to second.
Then Sam came to the bat, but his first strike was a foul, caught
by the third baseman. Another out followed, made by the captain,
much to his chagrin. The score now stood 5 to 3, with two players
on base and two out. One more out and the match would come to an
end, unless the score was a tie.
"Tom Rover to the bat!" called the score-keeper, and Tom marched to
the plate. A strike and two balls, and he made as clean a one-base
hit as had his elder brother.
"Three on base and two out!" came the cry.
"Now, Pornell, be careful!"
Fred Garrison was the next of the team to come forward. All eyes
were centered upon Fred. "Be careful, oh, be careful!" pleaded
Frank. "Don't get out as I did!"
"One strike!" cried the umpire as the ball whizzed over the plate.
"Ball one!" came a moment later. "Strike two!" was immediately
Bang! the ball had come on again, and Fred had hit it with all of
the force at his command. It shot past second base and toward
centerfield. "Run! run!" yelled Frank, and the crowd joined in,
as Dick started for home, followed by Forwell and Tom. The center
fielder fumbled the ball, and the four runners came in one right
on top of the other.
"Putnam Hall has won!"
"Say, but wasn't that a great game?"
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" came from the cadets and their friends.
It was a great time for the boys. They gave three cheers for
their opponents, but the Pornellites felt their second defeat too
keenly, and as quickly as they could they left the grounds, and
quarter of an hour later were on their way home.
After this contest matters moved along quietly until June. In the
meantime the cadets studied up with all diligence for the
examinations soon to take place. All of our friends passed
creditably, Dick standing second in his class, Tom fourth and Sam
third in their classes. Captain Putnam and George Strong heartily
approved of the showing made.
"That Tom Rover is full of fun," was the captain's comment, "but
he knows how to study as well as how to play jokes."
Mumps was almost at the foot of his class. The sneak had hardly
any friends left, and he announced that he was going to leave
Putnam Hall never to return—for which no one was particularly
Immediately after the examinations it was announced that the
entire school would march to a place called Brierroot Grove, where
they would go into their annual encampment for two weeks. At once
all of the cadets were in a bustle, and soon uniforms were brushed
up, buckles and buttons polished, knapsacks packed, and rifles
oiled and cleaned.
"Makes a fellow feel as if he was going off to the war!" observed
Sam. "I don't know but what I would like to be a soldier some
The battalion marched away one Monday morning, with flags flying,
drums beating loudly, and the fifers blowing away upon "Yankee
Doodle" with all of their might. The route was the lake road, and
many of the farmhouses passed were decorated in honor of the
departure. As they passed the Stanhope homestead, Dora and Mrs.
Stanhope came forth and waved their handkerchiefs, and Dick, as
second lieutenant of Company A, could not resist the temptation to
wave his sword at them.
The camping-out spot was reached that afternoon at five o'clock.
The provision wagon and that loaded with the tents had already
come up, and soon the cadets were putting up their tents, while
the cooking detail was preparing supper. The evening meal
consisted of nothing but bread, coffee, and beef stew, but never
did plain fare taste better, with such pure mountain air for
"It's just boss!" said Tom on the second day in camp. "Living in
a tent suits me to death."
The next day, however, he changed his tune, for it rained in
torrents, and everybody got soaked to the skin.
"Ugh!" said Tom. "I wasn't thinking of this when I said it suited
me to death." All made the best of it, and luckily the storm did
not last over twenty-four hours, when the sun came out warmly, and
that was the last of the rain while the encampment lasted.
A week had passed by when one afternoon Dick, Tom, and Sam
received permission to visit the town of Rootville, a mile away.
They were not to be gone not over three hours, and were to
purchase some medicine needed by several cadets who had taken cold
during the damp spell.
The boys walked to Rootville in high spirits, and readily procured the
drugs desired, then they wandered around from place to place, taking
in the sights.
There was a depot, and as natural they drifted thither, and into
the waiting room. Here almost the first persons they saw was
Arnold Baxter and Buddy the tramp thief.
"Gracious!" burst from Dick's lips, and then he pulled Tom and Sam
back. "Here is a chance at last to arrest that thief!"
"That's so!" cried Tom. "Wait, I saw a policeman outside. I'll
call him," and he darted off. While Dick and Sam awaited Tom's
reappearance, they noticed that Baxter and Buddy were holding a
conversation of great interest.
"I will pay you well if you will help me in this deal," Arnold
Baxter was saying.
"I'll do all I can," answered Buddy Girk. "But what of your son
"Dan is not to be depended upon," answered Arnold Baxter. "He
robbed me of two hundred dollars and skipped out for Chicago."
"Humph!" murmured Dick. "Here is certainly news of Dan Baxter
that is very much to his discredit. I hope I and Dora and the
rest never hear of him again."
Some other folks now came into the depot, and Arnold Baxter and
Buddy lowered their voices, so that Dick and Sam could hear
Soon Tom arrived, followed by the policeman, who looked
anxiously at the two men.
"You say they are thieves?" he asked of Dick.
"The short man is. He stole my watch."
"What of the other?"
"He is a bad man too—although it may be hard to prove it."
At once the crowd approached the evil pair, and the officer caught
Buddy Girk by the arm, "I want you," he said in a low, firm voice.
The thief turned swiftly, and as he saw himself confronted by Dick
and the officer of the law his face fell.
"I ain't done nothing'!" he cried, and tried to break away, but
the officer at once overpowered him and brought forth a pair of
"You'll put these on," he said grimly, and spite his protestations
Buddy Girk was handcuffed.
"Hold on!" cried Dick, as Arnold Baxter started to run. He made a
clutch for the man, but Baxter was too quick for him and slipped
through the crowd and out of the depot. Instantly Dick made after
THE RECOVERY OF THE WATCH—CONCLUSION
Arnold Baxter hesitated but a moment on gaining the depot
platform. A freight train was passing the station at a slow rate
of speed, and, running to an empty car which stood wide open, he
leaped on board.
Dick was close behind him, and as the man boarded the freight car
caught him by the leg. As Dick held on like a bulldog there was
nothing left for Arnold Baxter to do but to drag the youth up
"You imp!" he snarled, as the two faced each other on the car
floor. "What do you mean by following me in this fashion?"
"And what do you mean by running away in this fashion?" panted
"I have a right to do as I please."
"And so have!"
"You have no right to follow me."
"That remains to be seen, Arnold Baxter. I would like to ask you
a few questions."
"Would you, indeed?" sneered the tall man.
"Yes. I won't waste words. Were you and my father enemies years
At this direct question Arnold Baxter scowled darkly. "Yes, if
you are anxious to know," he muttered.
"I fancied as much. You tried to swindle him out of some Western
"The boot was on the other leg—he tried to swindle me—ran
off to Africa with my papers, I think, or else left them somewhere
where I can't find them."
"I do not believe you, for my father was an honest man, while you
are the boon companion of a thief."
"Have a care, boy—I won't stand everything!" snarled Arnold
Baxter, his eyes gleaning like those of an angry cat.
"I am not afraid of you, Arnold Baxter. I shall hand you over to
the police at our next stopping place!"
"Will you!" hissed the man, and leaped at Dick, bearing him down
to the car floor. At once his hand sought the lad's throat.
"I've a good mind to choke the life out of you," he went on. "I
hate you all—everyone who bears the name of Rover!"
"Le—let up!" gasped Dick, growing purple in the face, while his
eyes bulged from their sockets.
"I'll pitch you off!" was Arnold Baxter's answer, and suddenly he
lifted Dick up in his strong arms and stepped to the open doorway.
They were passing over a trestle spanning a wide gully, at the
bottom of which were bushes, rocks, and a tiny mountain stream.
"Don't!" cried Dick, and snatched at the handle of the car door.
He had just clutched it, when Arnold Baxter launched forth his
body into space.
The next instant, and while Baxter stood by the edge of the door,
the long train swung around a sharp curve. There was a quick
jerk, and with a yell of fright which sounded in Dick's ears for
days afterward, Arnold Baxter slipped through the doorway and went
tumbling head foremost down into the gully!
Dick shut his eyes at the sight and clung fast mechanically.
Then, as soon as he could recover, he swung himself into the car.
He could not stand, and sank like a lump of lead to the car floor
When he recovered, several train hands surrounded him, and his
face was wet from the water they had poured over him. It was
fully an hour before he could tell his story, and then a hand-car
was sent back to the spot where Arnold Baxter had had his terrible
The rascal was found at the foot of the gully, a leg and several
ribs broken and otherwise bruised. He was carried to the hand-car
like one dead, and later on transferred to a hospital at Ithaca.
Here it was announced that he might possibly recover, although
this was exceedingly doubtful.
"He's a bad one," said Tom, when he heard Dick's story. "I would
like to know what Buddy Girk has to say about him."
Buddy had been taken to the Rootville jail and searched, and a
pawn-ticket for the stolen watch found in his vest pocket. The
ticket was on a Middletown pawnbroker, and showed that fifteen
dollars had been loaned on the timepiece. Buddy had more than this
amount in his pocket, and some time later the money was forwarded
to the pawnbroker, and then the precious watch and chain came back
to Dick, in as good a condition as ever.
"I haven't got nuthin' to say," said Buddy, when Dick tried to
make him talk. "I didn't steal the watch, and I didn't do
"You won't tell me anything about Arnold Baxter?" questioned Dick.
"Ain't got nuthin' to say," repeated Buddy, who was planning to
escape from jail that very night.
And escape he did, through a window the bars of which were bent
and broken. The authorities searched for him for nearly a week,
but the search proved unavailing.
"I don't care particularly," said Dick, in commenting on the affair.
"I have my watch back and that's the main thing."
"But Buddy ought to be punished. Now if it was Arnold Baxter who
had gotten away—after that terrible fall—I wouldn't say a
word," answered Tom.
The encampment came to an end in a blaze of glory on the Forth of
July, with firecrackers and fireworks galore. The cadets "cut up
like wild Indians" until after midnight, and Captain Putnam gave
them a free rein. "Independence Day comes but once a year," he
said. "And I would not give much for the boy who is not
"You are right there, captain," returned George Strong. "Our boys
are true blue, every one of them."
Out on the parade ground the cadets were singing loudly and
marching at the same time. Everyone was in the best of high
spirits, and it was a time never to be forgotten.
Here I must bring to a close, for the present, the story of the
Rover Boys' doings at Putnam Hall and elsewhere. We have seen how
Dick was robbed of his watch and how he recovered the timepiece;
how the boys joined the other cadets, and what friends and enemies
they made; and we have likewise entered into many a sport and
contest with them.
With the termination of the encampment the school term came to an
end, and the Rover boys returned to their home with their uncle
and aunt. But more adventures were in store for them, and these
will be related in another volume, to be entitled "The Rover Boys
on the Ocean; or, a Chase for Fortune." In this volume we will
meet all of our old friends, and also learn more concerning Josiah
Crabtree and his little plot to marry Mrs. Stanhope and obtain the
money the lady was holding in trust for Dora. We shall likewise
meet Dan Baxter and his toady Mumps, and learn much concerning a
thrilling chase on the ocean and its happy results.
But for the present all went well. The boys arrived at the
homestead two days after the Fourth and were met at the door by
their Uncle Randolph and Aunt Martha.
"Welcome home, all of you!" cried Randolph Rover. And as their
aunt kissed them, he continued, "And what do you think of your
"What do we think?" repeated Tom.
"Why, we think Putnam Hall is the best boys school on earth!"
And Dick and Sam agreed with him.