Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Dave Porter and His Rivals - or, The Chums and Foes of Oak Hall
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward, 1862-1930
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dave Porter and His Rivals - or, The Chums and Foes of Oak Hall" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                          Dave Porter Series

                      DAVE PORTER AND HIS RIVALS


                        BY EDWARD STRATEMEYER

Author of "Dave Porter at Oak Hall," "The Gun Club Boys of Lakeport,"
"Old Glory Series," "Pan-American Series," etc.

                       ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN GOSS



BOSTON
LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.
1930

Copyright, 1911, by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.
_All Rights Reserved_

DAVE PORTER AND HIS RIVALS
Printed in U. S. A.



[Illustration: THE PUCK WAS FAIRLY STOLEN FROM MALLORY HIMSELF BY DAVE.]



PREFACE


"DAVE PORTER AND HIS RIVALS" is a complete story in itself, but forms
the seventh volume in a line issued under the general title of "Dave
Porter Series."

When I brought out the first volume of this series, entitled "Dave
Porter at Oak Hall," I trusted that the story would please the young
people for whom it was written, but I did not imagine that so many
thousands of boys and girls all over our broad land would take to Dave
as they have, and would insist upon knowing more about him.

My opening tale was one of boarding school life, and this was followed
by "Dave Porter in the South Seas," whither our hero had gone in search
of his father, and then by "Dave Porter's Return to School," in which
book Dave met all of his friends again and likewise a few of his
enemies.

So far our hero had heard about his father, but had not yet seen his
parent, and the next volume, "Dave Porter in the Far North," related the
particulars of a trip to Norway, where the youth had some stirring
adventures amid snow and ice in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Coming back to America, the lad was sent again to Oak Hall, as set down
in the next volume, called "Dave Porter and His Classmates." During that
term at school many complications arose, and our hero did something for
the honor of Oak Hall that was a great credit to him.

Dave's father was now with him, but his sister Laura was in the Far
West, and upon her return he received an invitation to visit a large
ranch, and how he went, and what strenuous times he had, were related in
"Dave Porter at Star Ranch."

As soon as his Western outing was at an end, Dave returned home, and
then betook himself once more to Oak Hall. Here, to his surprise, he
found an unusual state of affairs, the particulars of which are given in
the pages that follow.

Once again I thank those who have praised my books in the past. I hope
the present volume will also please them and do them good.

EDWARD STRATEMEYER.



CONTENTS


       I. AN AUTOMOBILE RIDE

      II. DAVE AND HIS PAST

     III. WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FALLS

      IV. AN UNEXPECTED ARRIVAL

       V. THE BOYS AND A BULL

      VI. A TALK WITH AARON POOLE

     VII. ON THE WAY TO OAK HALL

    VIII. ABOUT SOME NEW STUDENTS

      IX. THE FOOTBALL MEETING

       X. LOOKING FOR A MISSING ROWBOAT

      XI. A MIDNIGHT FEAST

     XII. AN EARTHQUAKE FOR JOB HASKERS

    XIII. IN WHICH SOME SHOES ARE MISSING

     XIV. WHAT THE GIRLS HAD TO TELL

      XV. A RUNAWAY MOTOR-BOAT

     XVI. A STRUGGLE ON THE GRIDIRON

    XVII. REORGANIZING THE ELEVEN

   XVIII. AN INITIATION AND WHAT FOLLOWED

     XIX. SNEAK AGAINST SNEAK

      XX. THE GREAT GAME WITH ROCKVILLE

     XXI. THANKSGIVING, AND A SNOWBALLING CONTEST

    XXII. IN WHICH THE SHOES COME BACK

   XXIII. HOOKER MONTGOMERY'S STRANGE REQUEST

    XXIV. A RACE ON SKATES

     XXV. IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY

    XXVI. A DASH FOR LIBERTY

   XXVII. A GAME OF ICE HOCKEY

  XXVIII. A DISCOVERY OF INTEREST

    XXIX. HOOKER MONTGOMERY'S REVELATION

     XXX. THE ENEMY RUNS AWAY

    XXXI. ANOTHER VICTORY--CONCLUSION



DAVE PORTER AND HIS RIVALS



CHAPTER I

AN AUTOMOBILE RIDE


"Everybody ready?"

"Yes, Dave; let her go!" cried Phil Lawrence.

"How about you folks in the other auto?" queried Dave Porter, as he let
off the hand brake and advanced the spark and lever of the machine he
was about to run.

"We are all ready," responded Roger Morr.

"Been ready for an hour," added Ben Basswood, who sat beside Roger.

"Oh, Ben, not quite as long as that!" burst out Laura Porter, who was
one of three girls in the tonneau of the second car.

"Well, make it fifty-eight minutes then; I'm not particular," responded
Ben, calmly.

"Are the lunch hampers in?" asked Jessie Wadsworth, anxiously. "Mamma
said we musn't forget anything."

"Trust Dave and Roger to look after the food," burst out Phil Lawrence.

"Likewise Mr. Phil Lawrence," added Dave. "Just wait till it comes lunch
time, and you'll see Phil stow away about fifteen chicken sandwiches,
ten slices of cake, three pickles, five olives----"

"Stop! I draw the line on olives, Dave!" cried Phil, making a wry face.

"Oh, olives are fine; I love them!" cried Belle Endicott.

"Then all that are coming to me are yours," returned Phil, quickly. "But
start her up, fellows, if we are going!" he added, and then, putting a
big horn to his lips, he blew a loud blast.

"Take good care of yourselves!" cried a voice from the veranda of the
mansion in front of which the two automobiles were standing, and Mrs.
Wadsworth waved a hand to the young people.

"We'll try to," answered Dave, and then he threw in the clutch on low
gear, and the big touring car moved gently away, out of the grounds of
the Wadsworth mansion and into the main highway leading from Crumville
to Shady Glen Falls. The second car speedily followed.

It was a late summer day, with a clear blue sky overhead and just enough
breeze blowing to freshen the air. A shower of rain the day previous had
laid the dust of the road and added to the freshness of fields and
woods.

The boys and girls had planned this outing for several days. All of the
youths were to return to Oak Hall school the following week, and they
wished to do something for the girls to remember them by, as Dave
expressed it.

"Might have a party," Roger had suggested.

"No good, unless it was a lawn party," Phil had answered. "It's too
stuffy in the house, these warm days."

"We might take a couple of autos and go for a day's outing up the river
road," Dave had suggested, and this proposition had been accepted
immediately. It was decided that Dave should run the Wadsworth machine,
he having learned to do so some time before, and Roger was to run a car
hired at the new Crumville garage. Each car had a capacity of five
passengers, including the driver, and the party consisted of ten young
people, five boys and five girls.

"Now, Dave, don't let her out for more than fifty miles an hour,"
remarked Sam Day, who sat in the back of the leading auto, between two
of the young ladies.

"Fifty miles an hour!" shrieked Jessie Wadsworth. "What an idea! Dave,
don't you dare!"

"Oh, Lazy is only fooling, Jessie," answered Dave. "He wouldn't want to
ride at that rate of speed himself."

"Twenty miles an hour is fast enough," said Belle Endicott. "I want to
view the scenery. It is lovely around Crumville--so different from
around the ranch."

"Yes, the scenery is fine, even though we haven't such big mountains as
you have out West," answered Dave.

"And Shady Glen Falls is an ideal spot for a picnic," said Jessie. "Papa
took us there last summer."

"You've got to make the most of the Falls this summer," went on Dave. "I
heard in town last week that next year a paper company is going to put a
mill there."

"Oh, Dave, is that the Eureka Paper Company?" questioned Jessie.

"Yes. What do you know about them?"

"Why, I heard papa and your uncle talking about it. It is a company in
which Mr. Aaron Poole holds a big interest."

"Aaron Poole!" murmured the youthful driver of the automobile, and his
face grew serious, as he remembered the trouble he had had with that
mean individual.

"Yes. Papa heard Nat bragging down at the post-office, about what great
things his father was going to do, when the paper company got started."

"That's just like Nat Poole," was Phil Lawrence's comment. "If Nat
couldn't brag about something he'd die."

"By the way, where does Nat keep himself?" questioned Sam Day. "I
haven't met him since I came to Crumville."

"He has been keeping shady--since our little affair at Niagara Falls,"
explained Dave.

"Is he going to return to Oak Hall?"

"I presume so. He left his motor-boat and some other things up there, so
I heard."

"We can get along without Nat Poole, Dave."

"Right you are, Lazy," put in Phil Lawrence. "But maybe, with Link
Merwell gone, he won't be quite so bad as he was."

"Oh, that horrid Link Merwell!" cried Jessie. "I trust we never see or
hear of him again!"

"Well, one thing is certain, Merwell will never get back to Oak Hall,"
said Dave. "He got his walking papers and that settled it. He is out for
good, the same as Nick Jasniff."

"Dave, have you heard anything about Jasniff lately?" questioned Phil.

"One of the boys wrote that he had heard Nick had returned to the United
States. Personally, I haven't seen or heard from him since we met in
Europe--and I don't want to see him," added Dave, earnestly.

Toot! toot! came from behind the leading automobile, and a moment later
the second car ranged up alongside.

"Guess you folks are doing more talking than running!" cried Roger, with
a grin. "Here is where we show you the road!" And in a twinkling the
second car shot ahead, and was "hitting her up," as Ben expressed it, at
thirty miles an hour. Dave immediately turned on more speed likewise,
and over the smooth, straight road both machines spun.

"Oh, Dave, is it safe?" asked Jessie, with a little gasp, as the speed
increased.

"Yes,--as long as we are on the straight road," he answered. "We'll have
to slow down at the turn."

"I like to ride fast--but not too fast," said Lucy Basswood, Ben's
cousin, the other girl in the car.

The turn in the road was almost gained, and both machines had slowed
down once more, when there came a shrill, screeching whistle from
behind, and a racing car shot into sight, moving along with a great
noise, for the muffler had been cut out. All of the girls screamed in
fright, and instinctively Dave and Roger ran their cars as close to the
right side of the road as possible. Then, with a roar, the racing car
shot past, sending up a cloud of dust, and a shower of small stones,
one of which hit Laura Porter in the cheek, and another striking Phil in
the ear.

"Fellows that run that way ought to be arrested," was Roger's comment.

"Oh, I was so afraid we should be struck!" gasped Jessie, sinking back
into her seat with a white face.

"Did you recognize them?" asked Belle Endicott.

"I didn't have time to look," answered Roger. "I was busy getting out of
the way."

"Just what I was doing," added Dave. "I didn't want them to take off the
mudguard, or a wheel."

"I caught sight of one of the fellows," said Ben Basswood. "He looked
right at me as he passed."

"Who was it?" questioned several eagerly.

"Nat Poole."

"Nat Poole!" cried Dave. "Surely, he wasn't driving that racing car."

"No, he was in the rear, with another chap,--and two were on the front
seat. But I didn't recognize any of the others."

"I saw that machine in Crumville last week," said Laura. "I believe it
belongs in Lumberdale."

"I hope those fellows are not bound for Shady Glen Falls," said Laura.
"It would quite spoil our outing, to have such persons around."

"A picnic like ours would be dead slow for that crowd," remarked Phil.
"If they stop anywhere, it will be most likely at some roadhouse, where
they can drink and smoke, and play pool and cards."

The racing car had long since disappeared in the distance, and now the
other automobiles proceeded on their way. The girls were very nervous,
and the boys did all in their power to remove the strain. But the girls
declared that they had had a narrow escape from a serious accident, and
it put much of a damper on the trip.

"If ever I meet the driver of that car I'll give him a piece of my
mind," said Dave. "It's against the law to run at such high speed."

The distance to Shady Glen Falls from Crumville was thirty-five miles.
The last half of the journey was over a winding dirt road, and the boys
had calculated that it would take them two hours to reach the picnic
grounds.

"We'll go by way of Darnell's Corners, and come back by way of Haslow,"
said Dave. "That will give us a sort of round trip." And so it was
decided.

Darnell's Corners was but five miles from the Falls. It was only a small
settlement, boasting of a tavern, a blacksmith shop, a church, and two
stores. As they came in sight of the place Phil uttered a cry:

"There is that racing car now!"

Phil was right, the car stood in front of the tavern, the engine still
running and letting out short puffs of smoke.

"Where are the fellows who were in it?" questioned Sam.

"Must have gone inside for a drink," answered Ben.

"Here come two of them now," said Roger, in a low voice, as the tavern
door swung open and two young men appeared, each wearing a linen duster
and a touring cap.

"It's Nat Poole!" cried Jessie.

"I know that driver," said Dave. "He is Pete Barnaby, a sport from
Lumberdale. He used to follow the horse races before autoing became
popular. He once tried to sell Caspar Potts a horse, but we found out
the animal was doctored up and worthless, and we didn't take him.
Barnaby was furious when the deal fell through."

"I've heard of him," said Ben. "He wanted to sell my father a horse, but
father wouldn't have anything to do with him."

While the boys were talking the tavern door had swung open again, and
now two other persons stepped forth. They, too, wore linen dusters and
touring caps, and one carried a basket containing something to eat and
to drink.

"Dave!" cried Phil, in astonishment. "Look who they are!"

"Link Merwell and Nick Jasniff!" murmured Dave. "How in the world did
they get here, and what underhanded work are they up to now?"



CHAPTER II

DAVE AND HIS PAST


Dave Porter had good reasons for looking upon Link Merwell and Nick
Jasniff with suspicion. In the past these two unworthies had caused Dave
a good deal of trouble, and when exposed each had vowed that sooner or
later he would "square accounts" with the youth who had gotten the
better of him. Dave had hoped he had seen the last of them, but here
they were, eyeing him closely, each with a face that plainly showed his
envy and his hatred.

To those of you who have read the preceding volumes of this series Dave
Porter and his friends and enemies will need no special introduction.
For the benefit of others let me explain that Dave had once upon a time
been a homeless child, having been found wandering along the railroad
tracks near Crumville. He was placed in the local poorhouse, and later
on bound out to a broken-down college professor named Caspar Potts, who
had taken to farming for his health.

Professor Potts could not make farming pay, and was in danger of being
sold out by Aaron Poole, the father of Nat Poole, already introduced,
when a most unexpected happening changed the whole current of events. In
the town lived Mr. Oliver Wadsworth, a rich manufacturer. He had a young
daughter named Jessie, and one day, when this miss was waiting for an
automobile ride, the gasoline tank of the machine took fire, and Jessie
was in danger of being burned to death when Dave rushed in and rescued
her.

"A boy who will do such a brave deed deserves to be assisted," said Mr.
Wadsworth, and he talked to the boy, and learned that Caspar Potts had
once been one of his own college professors. Arrangements were at once
made for the professor and Dave to move to the Wadsworth mansion, and
then Dave was sent to boarding school, as related in detail in my first
volume, entitled "Dave Porter at Oak Hall." With Dave went Ben Basswood,
his one chum in Crumville.

At the school Dave made a number of friends, including Roger Morr, who
was the son of a United States senator; Phil Lawrence, the offspring of
a wealthy shipowner; Sam Day, usually called Lazy, because of a habit he
had of taking his time, and others whom we shall meet in the near
future.

In those days, Dave's greatest trouble was the cloud over his parentage,
and when he got what he thought was a clew to his identity he promptly
followed it up by taking a trip far across the ocean, as related in
"Dave Porter in the South Seas." After some stirring happenings, on
ship-board and among the natives, he located his uncle, Dunston Porter,
and learned much concerning his father, David Breslow Porter, and his
sister Laura, then traveling in Europe.

After his trip to the South Sea islands, the lad returned to Oak Hall,
as related in the third volume, called "Dave Porter's Return to School."
Here he was warmly received by his many friends, and became more popular
than ever, much to the disgust of Link Merwell, Nick Jasniff, and also
Nat Poole, who had followed him to Oak Hall from Crumville.

"Dave Porter puts up a big front, but I'll take him down a peg or two,"
said Nick Jasniff, and he forced a fight with the Crumville lad. Much to
his surprise he was knocked down and badly whipped, and then, in a
sudden brutal rage, he snatched up an Indian club and might have
inflicted serious injury to Dave had not the latter seized him, while
others forced the weapon from his grasp. Then, in alarm, Jasniff ran
away from Oak Hall, and having gotten himself mixed up with some men who
were wanted for a robbery, he left the country.

During this term at the school Dave was anxiously awaiting to hear from
his father and his sister. Then came word, through Jasniff, who tried to
belittle Dave, that Mr. Porter and Laura were in Europe, and the youth
determined to go in search of them. Roger accompanied him, and what
befell the pair was related in detail in "Dave Porter in the Far North."
In England Dave ran across Nick Jasniff, and compelled the fellow to
tell what he knew of Mr. Porter, and then Dave followed his parent to
the upper part of Norway, where father and son at last met, under
conditions far out of the ordinary.

Laura Porter, not knowing anything of Dave's existence, had gone from
Europe to the ranch home of her friends, the Endicotts. She returned to
Crumville, to meet her long-lost brother, and then Dave again returned
to Oak Hall, as told of in "Dave Porter and His Classmates." Jasniff was
gone, but Link Merwell and Nat Poole remained, and both did what they
could to dim Dave's popularity. Link Merwell was particularly obnoxious,
and in the end Dave took matters in his own hands and gave the bully the
thrashing he richly deserved. Then some of the fellow's wrongdoings
reached the ears of the master of the school, and he was ordered to pack
his trunk and leave, which he did in a great rage.

"It is all Dave Porter's doings!" said Link Merwell, bitterly. "But
wait--I'll square up with him, see if I don't!"

Laura Porter and Belle Endicott were great friends, and through the
latter Laura and her brother received an invitation to visit the
Endicott ranch in the Far West, and this they did, as related in the
volume entitled "Dave Porter at Star Ranch." They took with them Jessie
Wadsworth and also Roger and Phil. On the way they met Nat Poole at
Niagara Falls, and Poole attempted to play a mean trick on Dave. But the
latter turned the tables on the money-lender's son, and the latter went
back home a wiser if not a better boy.

The Endicott ranch was located next to one owned by Link Merwell's
father, and, as was to be expected, it was not long before there was a
clash between Dave and his party on one side and Merwell and his
followers on the other. Link Merwell, as usual, did all in his power to
injure Dave, and make the outing for the others a failure, but he was
caught in his own trap, and it was proved that he had, to a certain
extent, aided some horse-thieves in their nefarious work. Mr. Merwell
had to pay Mr. Endicott for the animals that were missing, and, in order
to hush the matter up, he agreed to sell his ranch and move to some
other part of the country.

"Well, I hope that is the last of Link Merwell, so far as we are
concerned," said Roger at the time.

"We can do very well without such chaps as Merwell and Nick Jasniff,"
Dave had added, with a grim smile.

"Yes, and without such fellows as Nat Poole, too," Phil had put in.
"Although I must say I don't think Nat is as bad as Link and Nick."

"Nat is too much of a dude to be real bad," said Laura.

"Nat lacks backbone," explained Dave. "He usually does what the others
tell him to. But Jasniff and Merwell are both wicked fellows, and
Jasniff is brutal."

The home-coming from the ranch had been a gala occasion at the Wadsworth
mansion, and the young people had been warmly welcomed by Jessie's
parents and by Mr. Porter and Caspar Potts. Ben Basswood had come over
from his home to greet them, and he brought with him Sam Day, who was
paying him a visit.

"I suppose you are all going back to Oak Hall," remarked Sam to the
boys.

"Of course," answered Dave. "You are going back, aren't you?"

"Sure thing--and so are all of the others of our old crowd."

"We must make the best of what vacation is left before we get down to
the grind again," remarked the senator's son, and the next day the
matter was talked over, with the result that the automobile trip to
Shady Glen Falls was proposed and decided upon. All had started out in
the best of spirits, never dreaming of the trouble that was in store for
them.

"Dave, what are you going to do?" whispered Ben, as he, too, recognized
the crowd coming toward the racing car.

Before Dave could answer, Nat Poole strode forward with a sickly smile
on his face.

"Hello, there!" he cried, and nodded curtly to the girls. "Out for a
ride, I see."

"Nat, who was driving your car?" asked Dave, sharply.

"What business is that of yours, Dave Porter?" questioned the dudish
youth, quickly.

"You came pretty close to running us down. You were speeding altogether
too fast."

"Ho! ho! We scared you, did we?" returned Nat. "Sorry for the girls, I'm
sure," and his face took on a mean little grin.

"What are you finding fault about, Dave Porter?" demanded Pete Barnaby,
the owner of the racing car, coming closer. His nose was very red, and
his breath smelt strongly of liquor.

"I am finding fault with the way your car was run, if you want to know
it," answered Dave, stoutly.

"We are not asking you for advice."

"Perhaps not, but if you try any such trick again, Pete Barnaby, you may
get yourself into trouble."

"You were exceeding the speed limit," put in Roger.

"And you came close to running us down," added Ben.

"Oh, you boys are a timid bunch," grumbled the owner of the racing car.
"I didn't come within ten feet of touching you."

"Of course they are a timid crowd," said Nick Jasniff, loudly. "If they
had any sand they wouldn't say anything about it."

"You're a nice one to talk about 'sand,' after what Dave did to you at
the school gym.," was Phil's sarcastic comment.

"Look here, Phil Lawrence, I don't want any of your hot air!" cried Nick
Jasniff, in a sudden rage. "You keep your mouth shut."

"It's a wonder you didn't stay in Europe, Jasniff," said Dave. "I didn't
think you'd dare to come back to the United States."

"Say, you needn't----" began Jasniff, and then drew back, looking much
disturbed. "You--er--you needn't rake up old times. Those things are all
settled, and I've got as much right to be here as you have."

"Well, you won't come back to Oak Hall," said Sam.

"Don't want to come back. I'm going to a better school."

"And so am I," said Link Merwell, as if he was anxious to make the fact
known to his former schoolmates.

"I don't care where you go, so long as you don't bother us any more,"
rejoined Dave.

"Oh, you haven't seen the end of us yet, has he, Nick?" said Link
Merwell, appealing to his crony.

"Not much he hasn't," retorted Nick Jasniff.

"We are going to Rockville Military Academy," continued Link Merwell,
mentioning a school which, as my old readers know, was located not a
great distance from Oak Hall. In the past there had been many contests
between the students of the two seats of learning, and the rivalry was
very bitter.

"Rockville!" cried the senator's son. "I shouldn't think they'd want you
there."

"Say, you take that back, or I'll--I'll----" blustered Merwell, and then
stopped, not knowing how to proceed.

"Oh, say, come on, you fellows," broke in Nat Poole, who was growing
scared, thinking there might be a fight. "You can talk this over some
other time. Just remember what we started out to do. Hurry up, let's do
it," and he motioned his companions towards the racing car.

"I'm ready to go ahead," answered Pete Barnaby, climbing into the
driver's seat. "Come on, pile in, if you're going."

"I don't want Dave Porter and his crowd to think I am afraid of them,"
growled Link Merwell.

"We'll meet you after you get back to Oak Hall," sang out Nick Jasniff.
"And we'll settle old scores."

"Well, you look out that you don't get your fingers burnt trying to do
it!" retorted Dave. And then the racing car started off and was speedily
lost to view around a turn of the road.



CHAPTER III

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FALLS


"What horrid young fellows!" was Jessie's comment. She was trembling
from head to foot and her face was pale.

"Don't mind what they say," answered Dave, kindly. He thought a great
deal of the girl, and it distressed him greatly to see her so worried.

"I shouldn't think they'd want Jasniff and Merwell at Rockville," was
the comment of the senator's son. "Everybody in that town knows how
Jasniff was mixed up in that railroad station affair." He referred to a
robbery committed by some men, the particulars of which were recorded in
"Dave Porter's Return to School." Nick Jasniff had been in company with
the evil-doers, but his share in the transaction had been smoothed over
and hushed up by his family.

"Well, I heard that the military academy was rather hard up for pupils
this term," answered Sam. "About a dozen of the sophs and juniors left,
and the enrollment of freshmen was rather slim. I suppose on that
account the authorities can't be overly particular as to who they take
in."

"And of course Merwell and Jasniff had their sides of their stories to
tell," said Dave. "You can be sure they didn't tell matters as Doctor
Clay would have done."

"Or as we might have done--had we been asked," broke in Sam.

"Well, I hope you boys keep away from them when you get to school," said
Laura.

"What do you suppose they are up to now, Dave?" asked the shipowner's
son.

"I don't know, Phil; but from the look on Nat Poole's face I should
think----" And then Dave stopped short.

"What?"

"Well, never mind now. I may be wrong, and there is no use of worrying.
Come on, let us get to the Falls,--and try to forget that crowd." And so
speaking, Dave started up the touring car he was running, and followed
in the direction Pete Barnaby had taken, and Roger came after him.

The meeting at the tavern had disturbed all of the girls, and the boys
had hard work trying to cheer them up and make them forget the
unpleasant encounter. Everybody felt that there was "something in the
air," but each person hated to mention it to the others.

Presently Dave reached the point where they would have to take to a side
road that was deep with dust and hemmed in on both sides by rocks and
bushes. Here, in the dust, could plainly be seen the marks of another
automobile.

"Think they came this way, Dave?" questioned Sam.

"Yes,--although some other folks may be at the Falls on an outing."

"Oh, I hope we don't meet them again!" said Belle Endicott. The two
machines were running slowly and close together.

They passed on around a long curve, and over a small hill, and then came
in sight of the river, glistening in the sunshine between the trees.
From a distance came the roar of the Falls, where a fairly large body of
water rushed steadily over the rocks.

"Isn't it a shame that they are going to use the Falls for a mill!" said
one of the girls.

"Well, this is a commercial age, and so one must expect those things,"
answered Dave. "But I shall hate to see the Falls used for business.
They are so pretty."

There was another turn just ahead, and it was lucky for Dave that he was
running slowly, for there, across the road, were placed several logs and
dead limbs of trees. As it was, he ran directly on top of some of the
tree limbs before he could come to a stop, and Roger, so close behind,
had to turn into some bushes to avoid ramming the car in front.

"Well, of all things!" burst out Phil, while several of the girls
screamed in fright.

"Who did this?" demanded the senator's son.

"It is easy to see who did it," answered Dave. "See the sign?" And he
pointed to a big white card, tacked to a post propped up among the logs
and tree limbs. On the card was painted, in red, the following:

    THIS ROAD CLOSED

    _By Order of Aaron Poole
    Pres. Eureka Paper Co._

"This is some of Nat's work!" burst out Phil. "That is why he was in
such a hurry to get ahead of us."

"I believe you," answered Dave. "I was afraid he was up to some trick,
but I didn't want to say anything about it until I was sure."

"But if Nat is guilty, how did he know we were coming here?" asked
Roger.

"I guess I can explain that," said Ben. "I was talking to my cousin
about it, down at the drug store. Just as we were coming out, after
having some soda, I saw Nat behind one of the partitions. He must have
heard all we said, and I suppose it made him mad to think we were going
to have a good time, and that he wouldn't be in it."

"Exactly," returned Dave. "Just as he was mad when he wasn't invited to
the party, and tried to spoil the ice-cream."

"Do you suppose they have a right to close the road?" questioned Roger.

"I don't know. I always thought this was a public highway."

"So it is," added Ben. "The paper company bought the ground on one side
of the road but not on the other. I don't think they can stop us from
going through, even though they may stop us from going down to the
Falls."

"But if we can't go to the Falls, what is the use of keeping on this
road?" asked Laura.

"We can go above the Falls, Laura," answered her brother. "There is a
beautiful spot there called Lookout Point, where you can look out all
over the valley."

The matter was talked over for a few minutes, and the boys decided to go
ahead, to show that they considered that they had a right to use the
road, even if they did not go down to the Falls. The roadway was cleared
sufficiently to let the cars pass, and the power was turned on once
again.

"Be careful, Dave, that you don't run into more trouble!" sang out
Roger.

"I'll be on the lookout!" was the answer. "And you be prepared to stop
quick, too, so as not to run into me."

"I'll drop back to a place of safety," returned the senator's son.
"There is no use of keeping so close together, anyway."

The road wound in and out among the trees, and in some spots was so
narrow that the boys had to run with great care, for fear of bumping
into the stump of a tree or on the rocks, or switching into some
low-hanging branch. Dave had his foot on the brake, ready to stop
quickly, should it become necessary to do so.

"Hi, there! Stop! Don't you dare to come any further!"

The call was an unexpected one, coming just as the leading automobile
hove in sight of the Falls. Dave saw Nat Poole hurrying towards him,
followed by Merwell and Jasniff. Pete Barnaby was nowhere in sight, and
the marks on the narrow road told that his racing car had gone on ahead.

"What do you want, Nat?" asked Dave, as coolly as he could, having
brought his machine to a standstill.

"Can't you read, Dave Porter?" fumed the son of the Crumville
money-lender.

"Certainly I can read."

"Well, then, what are you doing on this road? You know it is closed. You
haven't any right on it at all--you or anybody else. You turn around and
go back, just as quick as you can."

"This is a public road, Nat Poole!" cried Ben. "You hadn't any right to
put up that sign."

"Humph! A lot you know about it, Ben Basswood! This is my father's land,
and I reckon he knows his rights. You are not going down to the Falls
to-day to have your picnic." And Nat's small eyes gleamed maliciously.

"We don't intend to go down to the Falls,--now that we know how matters
stand," said Dave. "But we are going through on this road."

"Not much you ain't--not another step!" roared Nat.

"That's right, Nat, make 'em keep off your property," put in Link
Merwell.

"Show 'em that you won't allow a poorhouse nobody to dictate to you,"
added Nick Jasniff, but in such a low voice that Dave did not catch all
he said.

"I said we were going through on this road--and we are," answered Dave,
calmly, and he started to turn on the power again. As he did this Nat
Poole leaped to the road directly in front of the touring car, and
Jasniff and Merwell followed suit.

"Stop! Don't you dare to touch me, or I'll have the law on you!"
screamed the money-lender's son.

"We'll fix 'em for you, Nat!" cried Nick Jasniff. "Come on, Link, get to
work!" And leaping to one side of the roadway he dragged forth the dead
limb of a tree and dropped it in front of the first car. Quick to
understand, Merwell followed with another dead limb, and then with some
stones.

"That's the stuff!" cried Nat Poole, his face brightening. "Pile it up,
fellows!" And he, too, ran for some sticks and stones, with which to
make the barrier in the narrow roadway more complete.

Had Dave elected so to do he might have gone ahead when first this work
was done by the enemy. But there was danger of injury both to the big
touring car and to those in the roadway, and he did not wish to take the
risk. Besides, there was no telling if Roger could get through, and he
would not leave the crowd in the second automobile in the lurch.

"Now, I reckon you'll have to turn back!" cried Nat Poole, in triumph,
after so much had been piled in the roadway that passing was totally out
of the question.

"Nat Poole, I believe you are the meanest boy in the whole world!" cried
Jessie, and there was a suspicion of tears in her eyes as she spoke.

"Humph! You people needn't think that you are going to have the best of
me all the time," growled Nat.

"We are not doing this against any of the young ladies," said Link
Merwell, with a smirk at Laura that made Dave's sister turn away in
disdain. "We are only doing it to square accounts with Dave Porter and
his cronies. We owe them a good deal,--and this is the first
installment."

"With a good deal more to follow!" added Nick Jasniff, with a wicked
chuckle.

"To the best of my knowledge and belief, this is a public highway," said
Dave, as calmly as he could. "You have no right to block the road, and I
want you to clear that stuff away just as fast as you put it there."

"Hear him talk!" cried Link Merwell. "You'd think he was Governor of the
State, wouldn't you?"

"Don't you mind what he says, Nat," said Jasniff. "If they start to take
the stuff away we'll put it back." And then, looking around, he picked
up a heavy stick which might be used for a club. He was spoiling for a
fight, and only the presence of the girls, and the fact that he and his
cohorts were but three against five, kept him from attacking Dave.

"Oh, Dave, what shall we do?" whispered Jessie. She was becoming more
frightened every minute.

"I don't see how we are going to turn around," said one of the other
girls. "The trees are too close to the sides of the road."

"We are not going to turn around," answered Dave, and his face took on
a stern look. He turned to his chums. "How about it?"

"I'll fight them before I turn back!" answered Roger.

"So will I," added Phil. "I don't believe they have any more right to
this road than we have."

"Oh, you mustn't fight," cried Laura.

"Do you want to let that crowd crow over us, Laura?" asked Dave, flatly.

"No, no, Dave! But--but----" And then Laura stopped short, not knowing
what to say. She did not wish to see an encounter, nor did she wish her
brother and his chums to give in to those who were so unjustly opposing
them.



CHAPTER IV

AN UNEXPECTED ARRIVAL


"This is the time we get the best of Dave Porter!" whispered Link
Merwell to his cronies. "I guess we have spoiled their picnic."

"I--I--don't think th--they'll fight," faltered Nat, as Dave leaped to
the ground, followed by his chums.

"Better arm yourselves with clubs," suggested Nick Jasniff. "Remember,
we are only three to five."

"Maybe we had better--er--go away," returned the money-lender's son,
hesitatingly.

"No, I am going to see the thing out," answered Jasniff.

"So am I," added Merwell. "Don't go, Nat--they won't dare to fight--with
the girls looking on."

"Whoa, there! Whoa!" came a cry from behind the two touring cars, and
looking back the boys and girls saw a man drive up on a buckboard drawn
by a spirited horse.

"Why, if it isn't Jed Sully!" cried Ben.

"Who is he?" questioned Sam.

"Sort of a roadmaster in these parts. I suppose he is going around,
inspecting the roads and bridges."

"Then he ought to be able to tell us about this road!" put in Phil,
quickly.

"Hello! What's the meaning of this?" demanded Jed Sully, after
alighting. And he strode forward and confronted the boys.

"How are you, Mr. Sully?" said Dave, for he had met the roadmaster
before.

"Oh, so it's you, Dave! Blocked up, eh?" And the roadmaster looked first
at Dave and his chums and then at those standing on the other side of
the barrier. "Who did this?"

"They did," answered Roger, and pointed to the other crowd.

"What for?" And the roadmaster's voice grew a bit hard.

"Nat Poole, there, claims that his father has a right to close this
road," explained Dave. "He put up a barrier some distance back, but we
passed it. Now he and his friends have put up this."

"And we want to know if they have a right to do it," added Ben. "I had
an idea the new paper company bought only one side of the road."

"So it did," answered Jed Sully. "And even if it bought both sides it
couldn't close off this road, which is a public highway." He turned to
Nat. "Are you Aaron Poole's son?"

"Ye-as," faltered the youth addressed, and he commenced to look worried.

"Did your father give you orders to close off this road?"

"Why--er--he--that is," stammered Nat. "What business is it of yours,
anyway?" he cried.

"It is a good deal of my business," responded Jed Sully, warmly. "I am
the roadmaster for this district, and I won't allow you or anybody else
to close off this road, or any other, without special permission. You
had no right to put those logs across the road away back, and put up
that sign, and I want you to take 'em away as soon as you can."

"Well, my father bought this land, and----"

"No, he didn't buy it; the paper company bought it," corrected Jed
Sully. "But that gave 'em no right to close the road. You take that
stuff out of the way, and at once, or I'll have you locked up." And
walking around the barrier he caught Nat by the arm.

"Let go--don't you touch me!" screamed the money-lender's son, trying to
jerk away.

"You let my friend alone," broke in Nick Jasniff, and made a motion as
if to use his club.

"Here, none of that--or I'll have you all in the lock-up in jig time,"
said the roadmaster, so sternly that Jasniff allowed the club to drop to
his side. He turned again to Dave and his friends. "Did you see these
chaps put this stuff here?"

"Yes," replied the others.

"Then get to work and clear it away instantly, or I'll lock you all up,
and these fellows can testify against you," continued the roadmaster, to
Nat and his cronies.

"Good! that's the way to talk to 'em!" cried Roger, in a low voice.

"I guess Nat didn't expect to meet the roadmaster," returned Sam.

The money-lender's son and his cronies tried to argue the matter, but
Jed Sully would not listen to them. He knew Aaron Poole, and had no love
for the man who had on more than one occasion foreclosed a mortgage, and
driven people out of house and home.

"I'll give you ten minutes to clear the road," he said, taking out a big
silver watch. "If it ain't cleared by that time I'll take you over to
Lumberdale and lock you up."

"I won't touch a stick!" cried Jasniff, defiantly.

"Nor I," added Merwell.

"Oh, but--er--I don't want to be locked up!" whined Nat.

"You said your dad had a right to the road," said Jasniff, in disgust.

"I thought he did have, but--er--I guess I was mistaken. Oh, come on and
help me!" pleaded Nat, and set to work without further delay, to clear
the road.

Jasniff and Merwell were very angry, but they did not care to let their
crony do all the work, and they were a bit afraid of Jed Sully, so
presently they took hold and aided the money-lender's son in clearing
the highway.

"As soon as you've finished here you'll come back with me and clear the
other spot," said the roadmaster. "And you can tear up that sign, for it
is no good."

"I'm going to put it up near the Falls," answered Nat. "Nobody can come
down there any more."

"Then you'd better put up a fence to keep 'em out," was the roadmaster's
comment.

"You don't want us to come back with you, do you?" asked Dave, in a
whisper. "We are off for a picnic and it is getting late."

"No, you can go on if you want to," answered Jed Sully. "I can manage
them, I reckon. If they give me any trouble I'll put 'em in the lock-up
and get you to testify to what they did on the road."

"Oh, Dave, let us go on!" cried Jessie. "I don't want to stay here
another minute."

The others were all anxious to depart, and as soon as the road was
entirely clear the two touring cars were started up.

"Hope you have a nice time clearing away that other stuff," remarked
Phil to Nat Poole and his cronies, as the machine passed on.

"Don't you crow,--we are not done with you yet!" shouted Merwell, and
Jasniff shook his fist at the departing cars. Nat Poole felt so
humiliated he turned his gaze in another direction.

"It was a lucky thing that that roadmaster came along when he did,"
remarked Sam, when the scene of the encounter had been left behind. "If
he hadn't showed up I don't know what we should have done."

"Maybe we would have had a fight," returned Ben.

"Oh, I am glad it didn't come to that!" cried Jessie, and her face
showed her relief.

"Wonder what became of the racing car and Pete Barnaby?" questioned the
shipowner's son.

"Perhaps Barnaby went ahead to make more trouble for us!" said Dave. "We
had better be on our guard," he called to Roger.

"I'll follow you at a safe distance, as I did before," answered the
senator's son.

The Falls were passed, and then they commenced to ascend a long hill,
leading to Lookout Point. Just before the spot was reached they took to
another side road, and were glad to see that no other automobile had
passed that way.

"We'll have the Lookout all to ourselves," said Dave. "And that is just
what we want."

"Maybe I'm not getting hungry!" cried Phil. "I really believe I could
choke down a chicken sandwich, if I was forced to do it!"

"'Forced' is good!" answered Dave. "Girls, be sure to keep the hamper
away from Phil, or he won't leave enough behind to feed a canary," and
this remark brought forth the first laugh since the trouble on the road.

They drove as close to Lookout Point as the road allowed, and then
placed the two cars in a safe place under the trees.

"We must keep our eyes open," whispered Dave to the other boys. "That
other crowd may sneak up and try to damage the machines, so as to make
us walk from here."

"We'll watch out," answered Roger; and the others said the same.

While the boys started a campfire over which to boil some coffee, and
obtained a bucket of fresh drinking water from a nearby spring, the
girls spread a tablecloth over some flat rocks and set around the dishes
and the things to eat. There was more than enough of everything to go
around, and it was particularly appetizing after that long ride in the
fresh air.

"I tell you, this is something like," cried Dave, munching on a sandwich
and a stalk of celery. "I shouldn't mind having a picnic like this once
a week regularly."

"Make it twice a week," returned Roger, who was eating a sandwich from
one hand and a hard-boiled egg from the other.

"Who'll have some coffee?" cried Phil, coming up with a pot of the
steaming beverage. "I've got to strain it through the corner of a
napkin, but I guess that won't hurt it."

"Napkin, indeed!" cried Jessie. "There is a strainer in the spout."

"Oh, is there? I didn't look in to see. Well, here goes! Coffee! Ten
cents a cup, or two cups for a nickel! Good for the complexion and
warranted to cure the blues!" cried the shipowner's son gayly, and swung
the pot around over his head.

"Hi! Look out there!" roared Sam, clapping his hand to his ear. "I like
coffee, but I don't drink it that way!" And he wiped off a few drops
that had reached him.

"Phil is fined one horseshoe nail for spilling the coffee," cried Dave.

"Don't nail me so soon!" answered the shipowner's son gayly.

"Shoo! Just to hear that!" murmured Roger.

"I'm too hoarse to answer to that!" said Ben.

"Say, do you know why a lawyer likes to drink coffee?" asked Sam.

"Why?" asked the girls, in a chorus.

"Because there is always a fee in it for him," was the answer. And then
the joker had to dodge an olive and a pickle that Dave and Phil hurled
at him, while all the girls giggled.

An hour was spent over the lunch, the boys doing their best to entertain
the girls and succeeding admirably. Of course a good many of the things
that were said were silly, but everybody was in good humor and out for a
good time, so what did it matter? In their high spirits they forgot all
about the unfortunate occurrence of the morning.

After the lunch the boys helped the girls clean up and put away what was
left, and then all strolled about, first to the edge of the Lookout, to
view the scenery, and then to the woods and the brook beyond. Dave
naturally paired off with Jessie, while Roger went with Laura, and Phil
with Belle.

"Well, it won't be long now before I'll be off again for Oak Hall," said
Dave, as he and Jessie stood where the brook tumbled over a series of
rocks, making a murmur pleasant to hear.

"Yes, Dave, and I--I shall be sorry to have you go," said Jessie,
looking him full in the eyes.

"You'll write to me often, won't you, Jessie?" he asked, in a lower
voice.

"I'll answer every letter you send, Dave," and now she cast down her
eyes for a moment. "I always do."

"I know it--and you can't imagine how much I treasure those letters," he
went on.

"Well, I--I think a lot of your letters, too," she whispered.

"Then you want me to write very often?"

"Yes."

"All right, I will. And, Jessie----" continued Dave, but just then a
shout from Sam interrupted him.



CHAPTER V

THE BOYS AND A BULL


"Wonder what Sam wants?" said Dave, as the shouting continued. "I guess
I'll have to go and see."

He ran over the rocks in the direction of the cries, and soon came in
sight of his chum.

"Hurry up!" cried Sam. "I want you!"

"What is it, Sam?" questioned Dave.

"We are going to have trouble."

"What, have Jasniff and those others come here?"

"No, but maybe it's just as bad, Dave. Just look toward the autos."

Dave did as requested, and his face became a study. He was half inclined
to laugh, yet, having been brought up in the country, he well knew the
seriousness of the situation.

The two automobiles stood side by side, about three yards apart. Between
them was a big and angry-looking bull, tramping the ground and snorting
viciously. The bull had a chain around his neck, and to the end of this
was a small-sized tree stump, which the animal had evidently pulled
from the ground in his endeavor to get away from his pasture. The tree
stump had become entangled in the wheel of one of the automobiles, and
the bull was giving vicious jerks, first one way and then another,
causing the machine to "slew around" in an alarming fashion.

"Sam, we'll have to get him out of there!" cried Dave. "If we don't he
may break that wheel--or do worse."

"I'm afraid he'll run off with the car!" gasped Sam. He was almost out
of breath from running and calling.

By this time the others were coming up. At the sight of the savage bull
several of the girls commenced to scream.

"Oh, we'll be killed!"

"Can't somebody drive him away!"

"Look! look! He is dragging one machine into the other!"

"You girls had better keep back," warned Dave. "If he breaks loose he
may come for you."

"Oh, Dave, do be careful!" cried Jessie.

"Yes, yes, don't go too close," added his sister.

"What do you suppose we can do?" questioned the senator's son, as the
boys gathered in a group at a little distance, and the girls got behind
them.

"If I had a hooked pole I'd soon fix him," answered Dave.

"How?" asked Phil, who knew little or nothing about bulls.

"See that ring in his nose? I'd hook him in that and then keep him at
the end of the pole. That always brings 'em to terms."

"But we haven't got any hook," said Ben. "We might make one, though," he
added.

A small hatchet had been brought along--with which to chop firewood--and
securing this the boys quickly cut two slender but strong saplings, and
trimmed them of their branches.

"There is a hook in our car," said Jessie. "If you could only get that!"

"Don't you try it," said Ben. "I've known a bull to leap into a wagon,
and this one might leap right into the auto and wreck everything--and
hurt you in the bargain."

"I'll use a tree root for a hook," said Dave, and quickly found what he
wanted, and bound it fast to one of the poles by means of a fishing line
he happened to be carrying.

"Now, Ben, you stand by to prod him, if he gets too rambunctious," went
on Dave, as he handed the second pole to his chum.

"All right," answered Ben. He, too, had been brought up on a farm, and
knew a little about bulls.

The animal had quieted down for a moment, and was grazing on some grass
between the automobiles. But, as the lads approached, he raised his
head, pawed with his hoof, and gave a vicious snort.

"He means to fight, Dave!" cried Ben. "We've got to be on our guard."

"Oh, do be careful!" cried Belle. To her this beast of the farm looked
more terrifying than those she had seen on the ranch.

With great caution Dave approached the bull from one side while Ben
approached from the other. The animal snorted again, and lowered his
horns. All the girls began to scream.

"Better be quiet," called out Dave. "You'll only excite him more."

"Oh, be careful!" answered Jessie, in a horrified whisper.

At that moment the bull backed up against one of the automobiles, and
then moved forward again. This action released the tree stump, so that
the beast was now free to go where he pleased. He started straight for
Ben.

"Prod him!" yelled Dave, and Ben promptly did as requested, catching the
bull in the mouth with his stick. Then, as the animal turned aside, Dave
jumped closer, put out his stick, and caught the improvised hook in the
nose ring.

"Good! you've got him!" shouted Phil. "Can we help you any?"

"I don't think so--keep quiet," was the reply.

The bull snorted wildly for a moment, and Dave had all he could do to
keep the animal at the pole's length. But he knew how to twist the ring,
and this speedily brought the beast to terms. The snorting ceased, and
the bull stood still, glaring viciously at his captor, but not daring to
attempt an attack.

"Come, gee haw!" cried Dave, presently; and with caution commenced to
pull on the pole. Slowly the bull stepped after him, dragging the chain
and stump behind him.

"What are you going to do with him?" called out Roger.

"Tangle him up in the bushes--if I can," was the answer, and Dave turned
in the direction of the brushwood lining the watercourse.

At this point there were a good many sharp rocks and twisted roots of
bushes and trees, and it was not long before the loose stump caught on
them.

"Come on, we'll fasten him good and hard!" cried Phil, dashing up behind
the bull, and as quickly as it could be done he and the others piled
some loose rocks against the tree stump, so that it would be next to
impossible for the bull to work it free.

"Now you can let him go, Dave," said Ben, who had stood guard with his
pole. "We've got him as fast as he ever was." And then Dave let loose
from the ring, much to the animal's relief, for he chanced to have a
tender nose, and the twisting of the ring hurt him a good deal.

"Are you sure he won't get away and come for us?" questioned Laura, as
all drew to a safe distance.

"He won't get away very soon," answered Ben. "But we ought to notify his
owner of what we have done."

"Whose bull is it?" asked one of the girls.

"I give up--I never saw him before."

"I think the bull belongs to the Hook Stock Farm," said Dave, mentioning
a farm located about a mile away. "I don't know of anybody else around
here who would own a bull. When we go home we can stop at the farm and
tell them of what has happened."

Leaving the animal quietly grazing among the bushes, the boys and girls
walked over to the automobiles, to learn if any damage had been done. In
his movements the bull had scratched some paint from the wheels and the
mudguards, but that was all, for which they were thankful.

"Well, it's about time to start for home," said Dave, consulting his
watch. "Remember, we are to go the long way around,--and stop at the
Hook place in the bargain."

"I'm ready to go," answered Jessie. The presence of the bull still
disturbed her.

Yet it was some little time before they started, for the things had to
be packed, and several of the boys and girls wanted to get photographs
of the picnic party. Then Dave cranked up, and Roger did the same. All
piled in, and the start for home was begun.

"I'll wager that Nat Poole, Link Merwell, and Nick Jasniff are the
maddest boys in this State," was Phil's comment, as the first car rolled
on, with he and Dave on the front seat.

"I believe you, Phil," answered the driver of the machine. "And if
Jasniff and Merwell really do go to Rockville Academy you can make up
your mind that they will cause us all the trouble possible."

"I don't believe the better class of fellows at the military academy
will take to those chaps."

"Neither do I. But there are some mean boys at that school--you remember
them--and Merwell and Jasniff will flock with that bunch. Oh, they'll
try their best to down us, you see if they don't!" declared Dave.

On the road beyond the picnic ground they came to a spot where some
rocks and logs had been piled up and then taken away again. All gazed at
the spot with interest.

"I guess Pete Barnaby did this--under directions from Nat Poole," said
Ben.

"Yes, and Jed Sully made him, or the Poole crowd, clear it away again,"
answered Dave. "They'll not close this road as long as Sully is
roadmaster."

"Be on your guard, Dave!" sang out Roger. "Those rascals will play some
trick on us, if they can."

"I'm on the watch!" answered Dave.

As they bowled along all kept their eyes on the alert, and it was well
that they did so, for at a turn they suddenly came upon some broken
bottles thrown down just where the machines had to pass. Dave gave a
yell of warning, and turned off the power and applied the brakes just in
time, and, as before, Roger had to turn into the bushes, to avoid
striking the turnout ahead.

"They thought they'd make us cut our tires," said Dave.

"Right you are," answered Phil. "Phew! If we had gone over that glass we
might have had some nasty punctures or blow-outs."

"They ought to be arrested for this!" said Sam, wrathfully. "It's
against the law to put glass on a public highway."

"We can't prove they did it," answered Ben. "If we accused them, of
course they would deny it. But it shows their meanness."

The boys got out and picked up some of the glass, and swept the rest
aside as well as they could. Then the machines were started up once
more, and soon they came in sight of the Hook Stock Farm, and Dave
beckoned to a man who stood near the gateway.

"Have you lost one of your bulls?" he asked.

"We sure have!" answered the man, quickly. "What do you know about him?"

"We know he tried to run off with our autos," returned Dave, with a
grin, and then told the man the story, and described where the animal
could be found. While he was speaking two other stock farm hands came
up. They had been looking for the bull since early morning.

"He's a valuable beast," said one of the men. "I hope he ain't hurt
none."

"He isn't hurt--and we are mighty glad he didn't hurt us," said Phil.

"Oh, he won't hurt nobody--if he's left alone," said the man.

"How can he hurt anybody, if he is left alone?" was Roger's dry query.
But the man was too dull to see the joke.

From the stock farm hands, the boys found out which were the best roads
to take, and then passed on again, up hill and down dale for a distance
of six miles, when they came out on a broad and well-kept highway.

"Good! This is what I like!" cried Dave, and turned on the power until
the touring car was moving along at a lively rate. Roger "hit her up,"
as he called it, also, and before long they had covered an additional
ten miles. Then they had to go over a hill, beyond which lay the village
of Lester.

"Let us stop at Lester for some ice-cream soda," whispered Phil to Dave,
and the latter agreed.

At the foot of the hill there was a turn, and Dave slowed up to make
this, and Roger did likewise. Then, as they passed a deep and muddy
ditch, Dave gave a cry and came to a stop.

"Look there!" he called out, pointing down into the ditch.

All gazed to where he pointed. There, in the water and mud, rested the
racing car belonging to Pete Barnaby. And standing in the mud up to his
knees was the sporty man himself, looking the picture of woeful
despair.



CHAPTER VI

A TALK WITH AARON POOLE


As the boys halted their touring cars and gazed at the racing car and
its owner, they could not help but smile, and Phil laughed outright.

"How did it happen?" asked Dave, in as kindly a tone as he could assume,
for he saw that Pete Barnaby was in serious trouble. The turnout had
landed in a particularly soft spot, and was settling deeper and deeper
every minute.

"None of your business!" growled the sporty man, wrathfully.

"Oh, all right!" returned Dave, coldly. "I thought maybe you would want
us to help you."

"Precious little help I'd get from you chaps!" grumbled Pete Barnaby.

"You might get some if you would act half civil," answered Dave.

"Humph! I suppose you want me to ask you to help me, so that you can
have the pleasure of refusing me, eh?"

"No, if I can aid you I will," answered Dave, promptly.

"He doesn't deserve any help," whispered Phil.

"I know that, Phil," answered Dave. "But I'd hate to leave him in the
lurch. Why, that machine may sink so deep nobody could get it out."

"If you'll haul me out I'll pay you for your trouble," said Pete
Barnaby, gruffly. "It's an easy way to earn ten dollars."

"I don't want your money," replied Dave. "I'll do what I can."

"So will I," added Roger. "The two machines together ought to be able to
do the trick."

"Do you really mean it?" asked the sporty man, and now his voice had a
ring of hope in it.

"Yes," said the senator's son, and Dave nodded.

The boys got out, and from the three cars ropes were produced and tied
together, and the two touring cars were hooked one in front of the
other, and then made fast to the racing car.

"Don't haul too hard at the start," begged Pete Barnaby. "If you do you
may pull my car apart."

"We'll be careful," answered Dave. He turned to his chum. "Remember,
Roger, we've got eighty horse-power hooked up here."

"I'll be on my guard," answered the senator's son. "But remember," he
added to Pete Barnaby, "we are not to be responsible if the hauling
breaks your car."

"I'll run that risk--only go slow," answered the man in trouble.

The rope had been made as long as possible, so that the stalled car
could be drawn out of the ditch lengthwise instead of sidewise. The two
cars in the road started up on low speed, and gradually the rope grew
taut.

"Look out, everybody, in case that rope snaps!" cried Ben. "I once heard
of a rope like that snapping and killing a house-mover."

"You are cheerful, I must say," was Sam's dry comment. Nevertheless, all
were on their guard as the rope grew as tight as a string on a bow.

"She ain't moving yet!" cried Pete Barnaby. He stood by the side of his
machine watching the rope closely.

Hardly had he spoken when there came a slow, sucking sound, as the
wheels left their bed of soft mud. Then the racing machine moved forward
slowly.

"Hurrah! she's coming!" cried Sam. "Put on a little more steam and
you'll have her!"

Dave and Roger turned on more power, and the racing machine continued to
move. Soon it was at the edge of the ditch, and then, with something of
a jerk, it came up on the roadway, leaving a trail of dirty water and
slimy mud behind it.

"Say, you did it all right enough!" cried Pete Barnaby, in delight. "I
was afraid she was too deep down to budge."

"She would have been too deep if you had left her there very much
longer," answered Dave. "Now, if you'll untie those ropes and clean them
off for us, we'll be on our way again."

"Sure, I'll clean them off." And the sporty man set to work with
alacrity. "Say, don't you really want me to pay you for this?" And he
made a move as if to draw a roll of bills from his pocket.

"I don't want a cent," answered Dave.

"It's all right," added Roger; "only, Mr. Barnaby, I'd advise you after
this not to stand in with Nat Poole and his crowd."

"I'm sorry I did, now; honest I am," was the sporty man's answer.
"I--er--I only did it as a favor for Nat, because his father is holding
one of my notes. How did you make out after I went away? I see you must
have got through."

"We did," replied Dave, and then mentioned how Jed Sully had come to
their aid. At this news Pete Barnaby began to grin.

"It was sure a neat way of turning the trick," he said, "and seeing how
you young gentlemen have helped me, I'm glad you did it. You can be sure
I'll never lay a straw in your way again, never!" And then, the ropes
having been put away, the two touring cars proceeded on their way once
more, leaving Pete Barnaby to clean up his machine and put it in running
order again.

"Dave, that was a real nice thing to do!" declared Jessie, and gave him
a bright look.

"He must have felt awfully small, for you to be so generous after the
way he acted," was Laura's comment.

"Maybe it will be a lesson to him, to do what is square in the future,"
said Belle.

They were soon in the town of Lester, and there stopped at the main drug
store, where the boys treated the girls to ice-cream "sundaes," as they
are sometimes called. Then they took a round-about way back to
Crumville, arriving there at sundown.

"Oh, what a nice day we have had, in spite of the drawbacks!" cried
Jessie, dancing into the mansion.

"Drawbacks?" queried her mother. "Did you get a puncture, or a
breakdown?"

"Oh, no; nothing happened to the cars," answered the curly-haired miss.
And then she turned to the boys, to let them tell the story. While they
were doing this, Mr. Wadsworth came in, followed by Dave's father and
his uncle, and Caspar Potts.

"That is just on a par with Aaron Poole's actions in general," said Mr.
Wadsworth. "He would claim the earth, if he dared. I think the other
property owners along that road will have something to say if he tries
to close it up."

"I heard about the new paper company this morning," said Dave's father.
"Some of the stockholders are not in sympathy with the way Mr. Poole is
managing affairs, and they talk of putting him out."

"I hope they do put him out!" cried Dave. "He tries to carry things with
too high a hand altogether."

"I am glad people are finding out what sort of folks the Pooles are,"
said Caspar Potts. He had not forgotten how in the past Aaron Poole had
driven him to the wall, and tried to get his little farm away from him.

After the automobile outing, Phil, Roger, and Sam left Crumville to pay
their folks a brief visit before departing for Oak Hall. This left Dave
and Ben to get ready by themselves, and to take out the girls, which
they did on several occasions. They thought they might meet Nick Jasniff
and Link Merwell, but did not do so, and later on heard that the pair
had departed for Rockville Military Academy. They saw Nat Poole, but he
kept out of speaking distance.

"I wish Nat was going to Rockville, too," said Ben. "He'd never be
missed at Oak Hall."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that, Ben," returned Dave. "Nat spends considerable
money--although how he gets it from that miserly father of his I don't
know--and that makes him some friends. But I, too, wish he wasn't going
back to our school."

"Do you suppose he'll take the same train we take?"

"Perhaps, although I hope not."

On the day before departing for Oak Hall, Dave and Ben went down to the
railroad station to purchase their tickets. There they saw Nat, with a
new dress-suit case and a new fall overcoat, talking to his father.

"He must be going to take the train this afternoon," said Dave, and he
was right. When the train came in Nat got aboard, along with a number of
other passengers. As he did this, he espied the others, and spoke a few
words to his father in a whisper. Then the train rolled away, and Aaron
Poole strode over to where Dave and Ben were standing.

"See here, young man, I want to talk to you!" cried the money-lender,
gazing sourly at Dave.

"What do you want, Mr. Poole?" asked Dave, as calmly as he could.

"You tried your best to get my son into trouble the other day."

"No, I didn't--Nat got himself into trouble."

"Bah! You needn't try to tell me! I know all about it."

"I don't care to discuss the question," went on Dave, a trifle sharply.

"Nat was to blame--if you don't believe it, ask Mr. Sully, the
roadmaster," put in Ben.

"Don't you try to tell me!" fumed Aaron Poole. "I know both of you boys
only too well! You did your best to get my son and his friends into
trouble. Now, I want to warn you about something. I understand both of
you are going back to Oak Hall. Nat is going there, too, and I give you
fair warning that you must treat him fairly. If you don't I'll come to
the school and have it out with Doctor Clay, understand that?" And the
money-lender shook his long finger into the faces of the boys.

"Mr. Poole, just let me tell you something," answered Dave. "It is
something you ought to know, and I feel it is my duty to tell you, even
though you are not treating us as you should. Come out of the crowd,
please."

"I don't want to listen to your talk."

"Well, you had better,--unless you want a lot of trouble later on."

"What do you want?" And rather unwillingly the money-lender followed
Dave and Ben to a secluded corner of the railroad station.

"I want to warn you about the company Nat is keeping. The two boys he is
going with, Nick Jasniff and Link Merwell, are bad characters. You
don't have to take my word for it--write to Doctor Clay and see what he
says. Nick Jasniff ran away from school and he got hold of some money
that didn't belong to him and used it. Link Merwell got mixed up with
some horse-thieves, on his father's ranch out West, and his father had
to foot the bill to hush the matter up. I feel it my duty to tell you
this, so that you can warn Nat. That's all." And Dave caught Ben by the
arm and started to walk away.

"Humph! So that is your game, eh? Trying to blacken other boys'
characters!" sneered Aaron Poole. "Well, it won't work with me, for I
know you too well, Dave Porter. Don't I know where you came from--the
Crumville poorhouse? I guess I can trust my son to pick out the right
kind of friends. You are jealous of him, because those other boys won't
go with the like of you! Don't talk to me! Only----" And Aaron Poole
raised his forefinger again. "Remember my warning, when you get to Oak
Hall!" And then he strode away, his thin lips tightly drawn, and his
sharp chin held high in the air.

"Well, wouldn't that make you groan!" was Ben's comment, after the man
had disappeared. "Dave, you had your trouble for your pains."

"I don't care, Ben--I just felt I had to tell him. It's a shame to let
Nat cotton to fellows like Jasniff and Merwell. They will drag him down
as sure as fate."

"I believe you there. But if Nat's father won't listen--why, I'd drop
the matter. Besides, you must remember that those fellows are going to
another school, situated quite some distance from Oak Hall. Nat won't
see them, excepting on special occasions."

"He can meet them whenever he goes to Rockville--the town I mean--and
Jasniff and Merwell will get him to drink and smoke, and maybe gamble,
and worse. Nat is easily led at times."

"Yes, I know that." Ben drew a long breath. "Well, let's drop the
subject, Dave. We have our own battles to fight." And then the boys
separated, each to finish the preparations for his departure.



CHAPTER VII

ON THE WAY TO OAK HALL


Swiftly the hours rolled away until it was time for Dave to bid his
family and his friends good-by and leave for Oak Hall. The evening
before his departure he took a walk with Jessie, to the end of the
Wadsworth garden, but what was said between the pair was never known to
anybody but themselves. When they came back he was holding her hand, and
both of them looked as if they understood each other perfectly and were
correspondingly happy.

All of the girls, as well as Dave's father, went to the depot to see him
off, and there they met Ben and some of his folks. Then the train came
in, and the youths climbed on board, dress-suit cases in hand. The girls
waved their handkerchiefs.

"Have a good time!" cried Belle, gayly.

"Take good care of yourself, Dave!" added Jessie.

"Don't forget to write," supplemented Laura.

"We'll do everything you want us to do!" shouted Dave, with a smile,
and then he and Ben waved their caps from the car window as the train
rolled forward, and Crumville was left behind.

"Well, we are off at last," observed Ben, as he and Dave settled back in
the seat for the run to the Junction, where they would have to change
cars for Oakdale, the town nearest to the school. "And I am not sorry,
are you?"

"Not at all, Ben. When it comes time to go to Oak Hall I am always glad
to go and meet the other fellows; when the term is over I am equally
glad to get home and see the folks. It is like the seasons--at the end
of the summer I am glad winter is coming, and at the end of winter I am
just as pleased that summer is at hand."

"It's the change, I suppose." Ben stretched out and drew his knees high
up in front of him. "My, but when you come to look at it, what changes
have taken place at Oak Hall since we first went there! Don't you
remember what a bully Gus Plum used to be, and how Chip Macklin used to
toady to him! Now Plum has reformed completely, and Chip is as manly a
little chap as any of 'em."

"It's a pity that Nat Poole can't take a leaf from Gus's notebook and
reform, too," answered Dave.

"Maybe he will--after he sees the error of his ways. But, Dave, what of
athletics this season? Are you going in for them?"

"I am--but not too strongly, Ben. I want to get all the education I
can."

"Want to get through and leave Oak Hall?"

"I don't want to be a schoolboy all my life. I want to get out in the
world and make something of myself."

"What are you going to become after you leave school?"

"I don't know yet. I was talking it over with father and my uncle, but I
haven't reached any decision."

At the Junction the boys had to wait about half an hour for the train to
Oakdale. Dave suggested that they walk over to a candy store and have
some soda water.

"May meet some of the other fellows there," he added. "The train from
the other way came in quarter of an hour ago, and I saw a lot of
dress-suit cases in the baggage room."

As the two youths entered the candy store a shout went up from three
boys who were drinking soda.

"There are Dave Porter and Ben Basswood!"

"Hello, Dave, old man; how are you?"

"My, look at Ben's new suit! It's almost loud enough to talk!"

"Hello, fellows!" answered Dave, and striding forward he shook hands
with the crowd, one after the other.

"Got any of those mountain lions with you?" queried Joseph Beggs, a
round-faced, fat lad. "Heard you brought down about a dozen while you
were on the ranch."

"Yes, Buster, I've got three in my trunk," answered Dave, gayly. "Want
me to let 'em loose!"

"Heard you did up Link Merwell," said Luke Watson, another lad, who was
well liked because of his singing and playing abilities. "I was glad to
hear it."

"So were all of us," broke in the third boy, a tall, slim youth, Maurice
Hamilton by name. "But speaking of mountain lions puts me in mind of a
story. Once three men----"

"The same old Shadow!" interrupted Dave, grabbing his hand and giving it
a squeeze that made the story-teller of the school wince. "Shadow, I
believe you'd try to spin a yarn when you were proposing to your best
girl."

"That sure would be a yarn," cried Ben, as he, too, shook hands.

"I haven't any best girl and you know it," retorted Shadow. "But I say,"
he continued, closing one eye tightly. "How is Miss Jessie Wadsworth,
Dave?"

"Very well," was the answer, and Dave turned a bit red. "Let us have
something," he added, hastily, to the clerk behind the soda fountain
counter. "What shall it be, Ben?"

"Make it a true love frappé," sang out Buster Beggs, with a broad grin.

"But don't forget to put some ginger in it," added Shadow Hamilton.

    "My love, how can I leave thee!
    One parting hug I give thee!
    And now when Oak Hall calls me,
    I go, whate'er befalls me!"

sang Luke Watson, and put up his hands as if playing an imaginary
guitar.

"Say, doesn't anybody want to hear that story about the mountain lions?"
queried Shadow, reproachfully. Story-telling was his hobby, and it had
often been said by his friends that he would rather spin a yarn than
eat.

"Some other time, Shadow," answered Buster. "We want to hear about
Dave's trip West, and about what he did to Link Merwell."

"Before I tell you about that, let me give you a piece of news," said
Dave. And then he related how he and the others had met Merwell and
Jasniff with Nat Poole, and how the two former youths were going to
Rockville Military Academy. As he had anticipated, this created quite a
sensation, and a lively discussion followed, which was kept up even
after the crowd got aboard the train which would carry them to Oakdale.

"Well, if Rockville wants such fellows it can have 'em," was Buster
Beggs's comment. "I, for one, am glad they are out of Oak Hall."

"I know one fellow who will be glad they are gone," said Shadow. "That
is Gus Plum."

"Yes, indeed," answered Dave, for he well remembered what influence
Merwell and even Jasniff had exercised over Plum when the youth had
found his appetite for liquor almost too strong for him.

Of course Dave had to go over many of his Western adventures, and the
others listened with keen interest to all he had to tell. When he
mentioned the theft of the horses at the ranch, and how Link Merwell had
been mixed up with the thieves, more than one shook his head.

"According to that, Link and Nick are a team," said Luke Watson. "Dave,
you had better be on your guard. They won't hesitate to play you some
foul trick."

Oakdale, a small but prosperous town, was reached at last, and the
schoolboys piled out of the train, along with a few other passengers.

"Hello, there is Polly Vane!" cried Dave, catching sight of a slender
lad with a girlish face. "How are you, Polly?"

"Oh, it's Dave Porter!" answered Bertram Vane, in a low but pleased
voice. He held out his slender hand. "I am delighted to see you back!
How tanned you are, and how strong-looking!"

"It was the mountain air did it, Polly. By the way, is Horsehair
around?" he continued, with a glance beyond the depot platform.

"Oh, yes! Here he comes now!" And as Polly spoke the big carryall of the
school swung into view, with Jackson Lemond, commonly called
"Horsehair," on the driver's seat. The boys made a rush for the
carryall, throwing their suit-cases in the rack on top, and piling
inside one over the other.

"Horsehair, you're looking fine!"

"How's the widow, Horsehair? Heard you were going to marry a widow with
eight children."

"Nine children, Buster,--don't drop any of the family like that."

"Nothing like getting a ready-made family while you are at it,
Horsehair."

"I heard the widow was a suffragette, Horsehair. Is that right?"

"If she's that, Horsehair, she'll make you mind the children and wash
dishes--better beware!"

"Oh, don't worry about that. Horsehair is an expert at washing dishes,
and at minding babies he once took first prize at a county fair; didn't
you, Horsehair?"

"Say, you!" roared the carryall driver, his face as red as a beet. "You
quit your knockin'! I ain't gittin' married to no widder, nor nobody
else! An' I ain't washin' dishes an' mindin' babies nuther! Such boys!"
And with a crack of his whip he started up the turnout so suddenly that
half the lads were pitched into the laps of the other half.

It was certainly a jolly crowd that rolled over the well-kept highway
toward Oak Hall. They knew that many hard lessons awaited them, and
that, once school opened, discipline would be strict, but just now all
were in high spirits. To the tune of "Auld Lang Syne" Luke Watson
started up the school song, and the others joined in lustily:

    "Oak Hall we never shall forget,
      No matter where we roam,
    It is the very best of schools,
      To us it's just like home!
    Then give three cheers, and let them ring
      Throughout this world so wide,
    To let the people know that we
      Elect to here abide!"

"That's the stuff!" cried Ben, slangily. "Now, then, for the field cry,"
and then came the Oak Hall cheer:

          "Baseball!
           Football!
           Oak Hall
           Has the call!
    Biff! Boom! Bang! Whoop!"

"I think we ought to display the school colors!" cried Dave. "Anybody
got a flag?"

"Here is one," answered Polly Vane, from his seat in front, beside the
driver. "But I haven't got a stick for it."

"Never mind, Shadow's fishing rod will do," answered Dave. "Shadow, hand
it over."

"All right, but don't break the rod," said Shadow. "It cost me four
bones."

The rod was put together, and the school colors fastened to the top.
Then the rod was thrust out of a side window of the carryall and waved
in the air, first by one student and then another.

"Look out, that you don't hit nobody with that fishin' pole!" warned the
carryall driver, as the turnout swung around a bend of the road.

He had scarcely spoken when a buggy came into view, driven by a tall,
serious-looking individual, wearing a high silk hat. The buggy swung
forward quickly, directly in line with the fishing rod, and before the
boys could haul the colors in the rod hit the silk hat, sending it
whirling into the bushes beside the roadway.



CHAPTER VIII

ABOUT SOME NEW STUDENTS


"Hi! hi! what's the meaning of this outrage!" roared the individual in
the buggy, as he brought his horse to a standstill. "Do you want to kill
me?"

"Who is it? Is he hurt?" questioned Dave, quickly.

"I don't know," answered Ben. "The rod took off his hat, but whether it
struck his head or not remains to be seen."

"Wot's the trouble back there?" demanded Jackson Lemond, as he succeeded
in bringing his team to a halt.

"Trouble is, we hit that man with the rod," answered Buster.

"Humph! I told you to be careful," grumbled the carryall driver. "It
don't pay to act like a passel o' wildcats, nohow!"

"It's too bad it happened," said Dave, and leaped to the ground and ran
back to where the buggy stood, with the driver glaring at them savagely.
The other students followed.

"Are you hurt?" asked Dave, anxiously. The man in the buggy was a total
stranger to him.

"Hurt? I don't know whether I am or not. What do you mean by knocking
off my hat with that stick?"

"It was an accident, sir. We had our school colors on the fishing rod
and were waving them in the air. We didn't expect to hit anybody."

"Bah! you are a lot of rowdies!" growled the man. "Give me my hat!" And
he pointed to where the head covering rested on some bushes.

"There you are," said Ben, restoring the hat to its owner. "But we are
not rowdies--it was purely an accident," he added, with a little flash
out of his clear eyes.

"Bah, I know schoolboys! They think it smart to be tough!" The man
looked his silk hat over. "I ought to make you buy me a new hat."

"That doesn't seem to be damaged any," said Buster, as he looked the
tile over. "If it is, of course we'll make it right," he added, hastily.
He and Luke were holding the fishing rod at the time of the accident.

"Do you boys belong at Oak Hall?" demanded the man, smoothing down the
roughed-up silk hat with his forearm.

"Yes," answered Dave.

"I thought so. Well, if this hat is cracked or anything like that I'll
notify the master of the school, and make you get me a new hat. Maybe it
will be a lesson to you, to be more careful."

"Let me see the hat, please," said Luke.

"What for?"

"I wish to see if it is really damaged."

"If it is, I'll let you know quick enough, don't fear."

"I want to see it now. I am not going to pay for a new hat if this one
is all right."

"Ha! so you don't want to take my word for it, eh?" roared the man.

"I want to look the hat over," answered Luke, stubbornly.

"So do I," added Buster.

"I'll not give you the hat--to play more tricks with. I shall take it to
a hat dealer, and if he says it is injured, I'll call at the school
about it." And having thus delivered himself the man in the buggy put
the silk hat on his head, spoke to his horse, and whirled on down the
road in the direction of Rockville.

"Talk about a peppery individual!" cried Ben. "He certainly is one."

"I don't think the hat was damaged at all," said Dave. "It will simply
be a hold-up--if he tries to get a new one out of us. That hat is quite
old and rusty-looking."

"He was a rusty-looking fellow all the way through," commented Buster.
"Wonder who he is?"

"He's some kind of a doctor," answered the carryall driver, who had left
his turnout to join the boys. "He came to Oakdale and Rockville this
summer, and he gives lectures on how to git well and strong, an' then he
sells medicine. I know a feller got a bottle from him, but it didn't do
him no good. He calls himself Doctor Montgomery,--but I reckon he ain't
no real doctor at all."

"Must be one of these quacks who go around the country trying to rope
people in," said Dave. "If he is, he ought to be run out of the
neighborhood."

"Maybe we'll never hear from him again," said Luke. But the boys were
destined to hear from Hooker Montgomery again, and in a manner to
surprise them.

Returning to the carryall, the boys took in the colors, so that they
might do no further damage, and then the journey to Oak Hall was
resumed. The encounter on the road had sobered them a little, and this
did not wear away until they came in sight of the school buildings.

"Hurrah! I see Phil and Roger!" cried Dave, as the carryall swung in
between the large oak trees that gave the place its name. "Hello!" he
shouted. "Here we are again!"

"Dave!" returned the senator's son, running forward, while Phil did the
same. "How are you all?" he added, waving his hand to the crowd in
general.

A number of other boys were present, and soon Dave was surrounded by his
old friends, all eager to shake hands. They wanted to know all about his
trip, and he in return wanted to know what they had been doing. So there
was a perfect babble of voices as the crowd walked into the main school
building, where good old Doctor Hasmer Clay, the head of the
institution, stood to welcome each new arrival.

"Glad to see you back, Porter," he said, kindly. "And I must thank you
in person for the skin you sent from the ranch. We have placed it on the
floor of the reception room. I am quite proud to think one of my pupils
is such a good shot."

"Roger and Phil are good shots, too," answered Dave, anxious that his
chums should have all the credit due them.

"So I understand." Doctor Clay paused for a moment. "I believe you met
Lincoln Merwell out West." He eyed Dave curiously as he mentioned the
fact.

"Yes, I met him--and we had some trouble--but it is all over now. But,
Doctor Clay----" Dave motioned the master of the school to one side and
lowered his voice. "Do you know that Merwell and Nick Jasniff are going
to Rockville Military Academy?"

"Is it possible!"

"That is what they say. It seems to me that the authorities of Rockville
ought to know what sort they are."

"That is true, Porter, but--ahem!--I don't know what I can do. You see,
to tell you the truth, the management of the military academy has
changed hands, and the new master and I are not on speaking terms. He
wished to obtain certain pupils, and they came to this school instead,
and that made him very angry. He claimed that I treated him unfairly,
but I did not. Even if I were to warn him against Jasniff and Merwell it
is not likely that he would take the warning in good part. Besides, the
military academy is not in a prosperous condition financially, and I
rather think the owners will take almost any pupils they can get."

"I see, sir. Well, if that's the case, why we might as well drop the
matter," answered Dave.

"I will think it over, and perhaps I'll send a letter to the master of
Rockville," returned Doctor Clay, seriously. "I don't want even an enemy
to harbor such lads as Jasniff and Merwell without knowing what they
are, although it would be to Rockville's credit if it took those boys
and made real men out of them."

As my old readers know, Oak Hall was a large building of brick and
stone, shaped in the form of a cross, with the classrooms, the private
office, the dining-room, and the kitchen on the ground floor. On the
second floor were the majority of the school dormitories, furnished to
accommodate from four to eight pupils each. The school was surrounded by
a broad campus, sloping in the rear to the Leming River, on the bank of
which was located the school boathouse. At one side of the campus was a
neat gymnasium, and at the other were some stables and sheds, and also a
newly-built garage for automobiles and motor-cycles.

Dave and his chums had their quarters in dormitories Nos. 11 and 12, two
large and well-lighted apartments, having a connecting door between. Not
far away was dormitory No. 13, occupied by Nat Poole and his cronies.
Merwell and Jasniff had had beds in that room, but now those places were
given to others.

Roger and Phil had arrived the day before, and were already settled, and
now they did what they could to make Dave at home, assisting him in
unpacking his trunk and his suit-case, and putting the things away in
the bureau and the clothes closet. Of course Dave had brought along some
pictures and banners, and these were hung up or set on the bureau--that
is, all but one photograph--one of Jessie she had given him the day
before. That he kept to himself, in his private drawer with a few other
treasures, under lock and key.

"Hello, Dave; can I help you?" came a voice from the doorway, and Gus
Plum appeared. The former bully of the Hall was a trifle thin and pale,
but his eyes were clear and his voice pleasant to hear.

"Why, Gus, how are you!" cried Dave, and shook hands warmly. "Did you
have a good time this summer?"

"Quite good," answered Plum. "You know I went up to Maine with Mr. Dale.
He took up half a dozen fellows, and we went in for botany and geology
while we were camping out."

"Well, I guess Mr. Dale is good company," answered Dave. He referred to
Andrew Dale, the first assistant teacher of the school, a man well
beloved by nearly all the students. Every summer this teacher took out
some of the boys, and there was always a rivalry as to who should go
along.

"It was better than just--er--knocking around," stammered Gus Plum. He
meant carousing around with fellows of the Merwell and Jasniff sort, and
Dave understood. He hesitated for a moment and looked around, to see if
anybody but Phil and Roger were in the rooms. "Of course, you know Nat
Poole is back," he continued, in a low voice.

"Yes,--I saw him leave Crumville."

"Dave, you want to beware of him." Gus Plum uttered the words very
earnestly.

"Oh, I am not afraid of Nat--never was."

"Yes, but this is different, Dave. I suppose you know there are a lot of
new fellows at Oak Hall this year."

"There are new fellows every year--the seniors go and the freshies come
in."

"Yes, but this year we have more new fellows than ever. A school in
Laverport broke up, and sixteen of the students were transferred to Oak
Hall--sophs, juniors, and seniors. So those fellows, added to the
freshies, make quite a bunch."

"What has that got to do with Poole and me?"

"Nat Poole and one of the fellows from Laverport, a chap named Guy
Frapley, are very good friends--in fact, I think they are related. This
Frapley was a sort of leader at Laverport, and he has got a number of
the other newcomers under his thumb. Last night I was down by the
boathouse, and I heard Nat and Frapley talking about you. Nat was very
anxious to do something to 'make you take a back seat,' as he termed it,
and after a while Frapley consented to take the matter up with him."

"What do you suppose they'll do?" questioned Phil, who had listened to
Plum's words with interest.

"I don't know exactly, but they'll do something, you can be sure of
that. More than likely it will be something underhanded."

"I am not afraid of Nat Poole--nor of this Guy Frapley, either," said
Dave.

"Dave has so many friends here, why should he be afraid?" asked Roger.

"Well, I only thought I'd warn you, that's all," answered the former
bully, meekly. "I don't want Dave to have any more trouble if I can help
it."

"It's kind of you, Gus, to tell me of this," answered Dave, heartily.
"And I'll be on my guard. But I really don't think Nat Poole will cut
much of a figure during this term of school. He has lost too many of his
old friends."

But, for once, Dave was mistaken. Nat Poole did "cut a figure," although
not quite in the manner expected, and what he and his cronies did caused
Dave not a little trouble.



CHAPTER IX

THE FOOTBALL MEETING


In a few days Dave felt as much at home as ever. Nearly all of his old
friends had returned to Oak Hall, and dormitories Nos. 11 and 12 were
filled with as bright a crowd of lads as could well be found anywhere.
In the number were Gus Plum and Chip Macklin, but the former was no
longer the bully as of old, and the latter had lost his toadying manner,
and was quite manly, and the other students treated them as if all had
always been the best of friends.

It did Dave's heart good to see the change in Plum, and he was likewise
pleased over the different way in which Macklin acted.

"I never thought it was in Gus and Chip," he said, privately, to Roger.
"It shows what a fellow can do if he sets his mind to it."

"It's to your credit as much as to their own," declared the senator's
son. "I don't believe Gus would have reformed if you hadn't braced him
up."

"I wish I could reform Nat Poole."

"You'll never do it, Dave--but you may scare him into behaving himself."

"Have you met Guy Frapley, Roger--I mean to talk to?"

"Yes, in the gym., where Phil and I were practicing with the Indian
clubs."

"What do you think of him?"

"I think he is fairly aching to become the leader of the school. He was
leader at Laverport, and it breaks his heart to play second fiddle to
anybody here. He and Nat are as thick as two peas. They tell me he is a
great football player, so I suppose he will try to run the eleven--if
the fellows will let him."

"I don't think the old players will let a new crowd run our team."

"The trouble is, some of the old players are gone, and the new crowd may
count up the largest number of votes. In that case they'll be able to
run things to suit themselves."

Dave had settled down to his studies in earnest, for that winter he
wished to make an extra good record for himself. He loved sports, but as
he grew older he realized that he was at Oak Hall more for a mental than
a physical training.

"When my time comes, I shall have a good many business interests to look
after," was the way he expressed himself to Phil, who joked him about
"boning like a cart horse," "and I know if I haven't the education I'll
be at the mercy of anybody who wishes to take advantage of my
ignorance."

"Well, you are not going to give up football, are you, Dave?" questioned
the shipowner's son.

"Not if they want me on the eleven."

"Well, that depends. We have a meeting Monday afternoon, in the gym."

Dave had noticed a good many whispered conversations taking place
between some of the old students and all of the new ones, and he had
wondered what was going on. A hint was dropped that the football meeting
would "wake things up," whatever that might mean.

"I think I know what is in the wind," said Gus Plum to Dave during a
recess on Monday. "Nat Poole and Guy Frapley came to me last night and
they wanted me to pledge myself to support Frapley for captain of the
eleven."

"Well, they had a right to do that, Gus."

"I told them I wouldn't do it. They said if I didn't I'd get left. I
told 'em that wouldn't hurt me very much, because I didn't care for
playing anyway."

"I see," answered Dave, thoughtfully.

He at once sought out Roger, Phil, and Sam Day,--those who had loved to
play football in the past, and who had hoped to be on the eleven the
present season--and talked the matter over with them. Then the
shipowner's son made a quiet canvass among all those interested in
football.

"Plum is right," he declared later. "Frapley, aided by Nat Poole and his
cronies, is going to carry matters with a high hand."

"It's an outrage!" cried Sam. "A stranger running the Oak Hall eleven! I
shall protest!"

"It won't do any good--if Frapley gets the votes," answered Roger.
"Especially if he is a good player, and they say he is."

The news that there was going to be a lively time drew a large crowd to
the meeting in the gymnasium. This was called to order by the former
manager of the eleven, and a call was issued for nominations for a new
manager.

"I nominate John Rand!" cried Nat Poole, mentioning one of the students
from Laverport.

"Second the nomination!" added Guy Frapley, promptly.

"I nominate Henry Fordham," said Roger, putting up one of the old
students, who did not play, but who was a good general manager, and a
youth well liked by his classmates.

Dave seconded Roger's nomination, and as there were no other names
submitted, the nominations were declared closed.

"Mr. Chairman, I'd like to say a few words before we hold an
election--I mean, before we vote," said Sam Day, mounting a chair.

"Oh, dry up, and let us cast our ballots!" muttered Nat Poole.

"I wish to speak in favor of Henry Fordham, whom all _old students_ of
Oak Hall know so well," continued Sam. "He knows----"

"Vote! vote! Let us vote!" called out several new students loudly, and
it was seen that they were urged on by Guy Frapley.

In a moment half a dozen students were speaking at once, and it took
several minutes for the chairman of the meeting to restore silence. Then
Sam was allowed to make a short speech and he was followed by Dave, both
speaking in favor of Fordham. Then a new student spoke in favor of Rand,
and then the voting began.

The result was a painful surprise for Fordham, and equally painful to
Dave and his chums. So well had Nat Poole, Guy Frapley, and their
cohorts laid their plans that John Rand was elected manager of the
coming eleven by a majority of five votes.

"It is all up with our crowd!" murmured Roger to Dave, when the result
was announced. "That crowd has got votes enough to ride over us
rough-shod, and it is going to do it."

And the senator's son was right, as later events speedily proved. The
new football team, made up of a regular eleven and five substitutes,
counted but six old Oak Hall players. Dave, Roger, Phil, and their close
chums were utterly ignored. Guy Frapley was chosen captain and
quarter-back, and Nat Poole was made full-back. It is needless to say
that some of the old players, who had worked so hard in the past to make
Oak Hall victorious, left the meeting in disgust.

"This is the worst I was ever up against!" murmured Roger. "Talk about
ingratitude! And just think that once Phil nearly lost his life to help
us win!"

"And think of how hard Dave and you worked," put in a sympathizer. "It's
a burning shame, that's what it is."

"Well, there is one satisfaction," said Dave, as calmly as he could,
although he was as depressed as any one. "It is on their shoulders now
to make good. We haven't anything on that score to worry about."

"I'll tell you what let's do!" cried Phil. "We'll organize a scrub
eleven, and wax 'em out of their shoes!"

"I don't believe they'll play you--they are afraid," said Buster.

"Never mind, then we'll play somebody else. We can challenge them,
anyway. If they are afraid of us we want the whole school to know it."

Phil's idea met with considerable favor, and he easily persuaded Dave,
Roger, Sam, Gus Plum, and a number of others to join his scrub eleven,
which was named the Old Guard. Phil was manager as well as captain, and
played right half-back, while Dave was quarter-back, and Roger was
center. The eleven went into practice with as much vigor as if they were
training for some championship games.

As had been anticipated, the regular eleven tried to ignore the Old
Guard. When a challenge to play was issued, John Rand sent back word
that he could fix up his own scrub eleven without any help from
outsiders. His scrub was made up of freshmen and, of course, the regular
team beat them with ease.

"Never mind--they are afraid of us--and we'll let everybody know it,"
declared Roger. And then the challenge from the Old Guard to the regular
eleven was posted up in the gymnasium, where all might see it. It was
torn down over night, but a new copy was put up by the following noon.

As was to be expected, the challenge created much talk, and Phil and
Frapley almost came to blows about it. Phil and his chums were accused
of trying to break up the good feeling of the school in general, and, in
return, the shipowner's son very bluntly told the new captain of the
school eleven that he would lead Oak Hall to defeat.

"It's time enough to talk like that after we are beaten," declared Guy
Frapley, grimly. Then it was announced that the regular Oak Hall
football eleven would play the opening game of the season against an
eleven from Lemington on a Saturday afternoon, the contest to take place
on the Lemington Athletic Grounds.

"They ought to be waxed good and proper!" said Chip Macklin.

"Who?" asked Dave.

"Our eleven, Dave. Oh, I know what you will say--that that isn't the
true school spirit and all that--but just the same, Poole and Frapley
and that bunch don't deserve to win."

"I've got half a notion not to go to the game," declared Sam.

"I am going," answered Dave. "I don't like that crowd, and I don't think
we were treated fairly. Just the same, for the honor of Oak Hall, I am
going to the game and root for our side."

"The same old Dave!" murmured Roger, in admiration. "Well, if you're
going I am going too."

Lemington was situated several miles up the river, and while some of the
boys decided to go to that town by the carryall and on their bicycles
and motor-cycles, others decided to go up in boats.

As my old readers know, Nat Poole was the owner of a good-sized
motor-boat, a craft he had had stored in the boathouse since the last
summer. In this boat the dudish student frequently went for a cruise up
and down the river, taking his cronies along. The fact that he owned the
craft and could give them a ride, made Nat quite popular with some of
the students.

"I'll take the eleven up to Lemington in my motor-boat," said Nat to the
manager. "It will be a fine sail, if the weather is good." And so it was
arranged.

As the weather remained warm, Dave and his chums often went out on the
river for a row, and one afternoon they rowed as far as Bush Island,
about two miles away. On the island were some chestnut trees, and the
boys walked over to see if the nuts were fit to gather.

"I see some other fellows here!" cried Roger, and pointed to some boys
in military uniforms some distance away.

"They must be fellows from Rockville Academy," answered Dave. "I didn't
think they'd come as far as this after school hours."

"Well, I suppose they have as much right here as we have," was Phil's
comment.

They passed on, and presently lost sight of the other crowd. Then,
quarter of an hour later, they came out on the island shore, to see the
other lads in a rowboat, just getting ready to leave the place.

"Why, there are Link Merwell and Nick Jasniff!" exclaimed Roger.

"Right you are," answered Dave. Then he gave another look. "Where is our
boat?" he questioned, quickly.

All looked around and saw that their rowboat was missing.

"They must have taken it," cried Phil. He raised his voice: "I say,
Merwell! Jasniff! Stop, I want to talk to you!"

"Not much!" called back Nick Jasniff.

"We don't want to talk to you," answered Link Merwell.

"What have you done with out boat?" questioned Roger.

"That's for you to find out!" returned Nick Jasniff. "Ta ta! Hope you
have a nice time getting back to Oak Hall!"

And then he and Link Merwell and their companions took up their oars and
rowed swiftly away from Bush Island.



CHAPTER X

LOOKING FOR A MISSING ROWBOAT


"We are certainly in a pickle," remarked Roger, as the Rockville cadets
rounded a point of the island and disappeared from view.

"I wonder what they did with our boat," said Phil. "I don't see it
anywhere on the water."

"Perhaps they took it to the other side of the island," suggested Dave.

"Would they have time to do that?"

"I don't know. This is a total surprise to me, Phil."

"They did the trick on the impulse of the moment," went on Roger. "For
they didn't know we were coming here."

"And we didn't know they were here," added Dave. "Let us take a look
around and see if we can spot the boat."

"All right, I'll go down the shore and you can go up," cried Phil, and
set off at as rapid a gait as the nature of the ground permitted.

A hasty search did not bring the rowboat to light. The boys met on the
other side of the island, and stared wonderingly at each other.

"See anything?"

"Not a thing."

"The boat must be somewhere."

"Maybe they sunk her!" cried the senator's son. "Merwell and Jasniff are
just unprincipled enough to do it."

"If they did that, they must have done it close to where we tied her up.
They wouldn't have time to take her away," returned Dave. "Let us go
back and see if we can find any trail in the mud and sand."

They crossed the island, passing the chestnut trees as they did so.
Under one of the trees Dave picked up a letter. It was addressed to
Nicholas Jasniff, General Delivery, Rockville.

"Jasniff must have dropped this when he was nutting," said Dave, as he
and the others looked at the address.

"What is in it?" asked Phil. "It's open; read it."

"Would that be fair, Phil?"

"I think so. Jasniff is an enemy, not a friend. It may contain some clew
to his doings, and if there is anything underhanded going on we can let
the authorities know."

Dave took out the single sheet that the envelope contained. On it was
written, in a sprawling, heavy hand, the following:

     "MY DEAR JASNIFF:

     "I got your leter and I wil do all I can to help you pervided you
     wil help me on that bussines I meantioned to you. I know we both
     can make money and hardly anny risks. Beter not come to the office
     but meet me at Dunns on the River.

     "Yours afectenately,
     "DR. H. MONTGOMERY."

"Why, this letter was written by that Doctor Hooker Montgomery, the man
whose silk hat we knocked off!" cried Dave.

"His education seems to be extremely limited," observed Phil. "He'd
never stand at the top of the spelling class, would he?"

"I was asking about him, and he's a regular fakir," said Roger. "He
isn't a doctor at all, although he calls himself one. He puts up a
number of medicines and calls them 'Montgomery's Wonderful Cures.' I was
told that he used to do quite a business among the ignorant country
folks, but lately hardly anybody patronizes him."

"And that is why he is willing to aid Jasniff in some scheme, I
suppose," said Phil. "I'll wager it is something underhanded. When are
they to meet?"

"It doesn't say," answered Dave. "But the postmark is a week old, so I
presume the meeting is a thing of the past. I guess I'll not keep the
letter," he concluded, and cast it on the ground where he had found it.

Arriving at where the rowboat had been tied up, the three chums looked
around carefully, and soon saw footprints leading to a little cove,
shaded by tall elderberry bushes. Pushing some of the bushes aside, Dave
looked into the water and gave a cry:

"Here she is, fellows!"

"Have you really found the boat, Dave?" questioned Phil.

"Yes. She's at the bottom of the cove. They piled her full of stones and
sunk her. They must have had quite a job doing it."

"And here are the oars!" exclaimed Roger, dragging them from the bushes.
"Say, it's going to be cold work getting that boat into shape for use,"
he added, for the sun was going down and the air was keen.

"I'll do it, if you don't care to," answered Dave. "A cold plunge will
do me good."

"I'll help, if you say so?" volunteered Phil.

"Never mind, Phil; I think I can do it alone. No use in more than one
undressing."

The rowboat had been sunk in water three feet deep. Taking off most of
his clothing, and also his shoes and socks, Dave waded into the cove and
set to work taking the stones out of the craft. It was certainly cold,
and only the heavy labor served to keep his blood in circulation.

"They didn't pound a hole in her, did they?" asked the senator's son,
anxiously.

"I don't see any hole," answered Dave. "I'll soon know. There aren't
many more stones left."

He had great difficulty in budging the bottom stone, the largest of the
lot. But, once this was removed, the boat was quite buoyant and came
close to the surface. Then Dave shoved the craft close to shore, and
turned it over to empty it.

"As good as ever!" cried Roger, and his tones showed his relief. "Now,
Dave, get into your clothes again, and Phil and I will row you back to
the Hall. We'll be late--and you know what that means, if Job Haskers
catches us."

"We've got a good excuse," said Phil. "But maybe Haskers won't accept
it," he added, remembering only too well how harsh and unreasonable the
second assistant teacher could be at times.

"I think I'll do some of the rowing myself, just to get warm," said
Dave, when they got into the craft, and he took an oar; and soon Bush
Island was left behind.

"This is another mark against Merwell and Jasniff," said the shipowner's
son, as they pulled in the direction of the school. "I suppose they
thought we'd have to stay on the island all night."

"Yes, and maybe longer," said Dave. "I fancy they wouldn't care if we
had to remain there until we were almost starved."

"We'll have to get back at them somehow," came from Roger.

It was quite dark when they reached the boathouse at Oak Hall. No
students were in sight, all having gone in to supper. Dave looked at his
watch.

"Supper is almost over!" he cried. "We had better hurry if we want
anything to eat!"

"Eat? Rather! I am as hungry as a bear!" cried Phil.

"So am I," added the senator's son.

Putting the rowboat away, the three boys started in the direction of the
big school building. As they did this they saw somebody approaching them
from an angle of the east wing.

"It's Haskers!" whispered Phil. "He is coming this way!"

"Let's run for it!" cried Roger. "We can get in on the other side!
Quick!"

"Boys! boys! Stop!" called out Job Haskers, as they started to run. "I
know you, Porter! Morr! Lawrence! Stop, I say!" And he came running
after them.

"It's no use, he recognizes us!" groaned Phil, and came to a halt, and
so did the others.

"What is the meaning of this? I demand to know where you have been?"
cried Job Haskers, sourly, as he came up, puffing from his unusual
exertions.

"We are sorry, Mr. Haskers, but we were out rowing, and we were detained
at Bush Island," explained Dave.

"Did you have permission to stay away during the supper hour?"

"No, sir. We didn't intend to do so. We were----"

"Humph! that is no excuse, young man, no excuse whatever! You know the
rule. Go to your rooms at once--and stay there until to-morrow morning."
And Job Haskers glared coldly at the three students. He seemed always to
take special delight in catching a student at some infringement of the
rules, and in meting out punishment.

"We haven't had any supper yet," said Roger.

"That is not my fault, Morr. The dining-room is now about to close, and
you cannot go in. It will be a lesson to you to be on hand promptly in
the future."

"We have got to have something to eat!" declared Phil, stubbornly.

"Ha! don't you dare to talk back to me, Lawrence! If you do it again,
I'll give you some extra lessons to learn."

"Mr. Haskers, won't you listen to us?" asked Dave, in a steady voice.
"We have a good excuse to offer for being late."

"I don't want any excuses. It was your duty to return to the Hall in
time for supper."

"We simply couldn't get here. We were on Bush Island, and our boat was
taken away from us."

"I saw you come back here in a boat."

"We found our boat after a while,--after we had lost a good hour looking
for it. Then we rowed back as fast as we could."

"Pooh! The usual story! I want no such lame excuses! Some teachers might
accept them, but not I! Go to your rooms, and at once,--and don't dare
to come downstairs until to-morrow morning--or I'll cut off all your
holidays until Christmas!" And Job Haskers folded his arms and stood
like a judge before the boys.

An angry remark arose to Dave's lips. But he checked it and turned
toward the school building, and Roger and Phil followed. Job Haskers
marched after them.

"Go upstairs at once!" he ordered. "No lingering in the lower hall!" For
he was afraid the lads might slip him and try to get something to eat on
the sly.

"Mr. Haskers, I wish to talk to Doctor Clay," said Dave.

"Doctor Clay has nothing to do with this affair! I am in charge here for
the present."

"Do you mean to say that I can't see the doctor?"

"Doctor Clay is away on business. You may see him in the morning if you
wish."

"I don't think he'd send us to bed supperless."

"It is your own fault. You boys have got to learn to obey the rules of
this institution. Perhaps it will be a lesson well learned."

"I think it's an outrage!" muttered Phil.

"What is that, Lawrence?" cried the teacher, harshly. But Phil did not
repeat his statement.

There seemed to be no help for it, and slowly the three students passed
up the stairs and entered their dormitory. Job Haskers watched them out
of sight, and then stalked away, his face as grim and hard as ever.

"Well, doesn't this beat the nation!" groaned Roger, as he plumped down
on one of the beds.

"Evidently old Haskers hasn't forgotten what happened last term," was
Phil's comment. "He is going to make it just as hard as he can for us."

"I'm as hungry as can be. I didn't have much dinner. Dave, are you going
to stand for this?"

"What do you mean, Roger--staying in the room until to-morrow?"

"That and going without supper."

"I don't care so much about staying in the room," was the reply. "But I
can assure you of one thing,--I am not going without my supper."

"How are you going to get it?"

"I don't know yet. But I am going to get it somehow," replied Dave, and
his tone of voice showed that he meant what he said.



CHAPTER XI

A MIDNIGHT FEAST


While the three students were discussing the situation the door of the
dormitory opened, and Sam Day and Shadow Hamilton entered.

"Hello, why weren't you down to supper?" asked Sam.

"We didn't get here in time," answered Roger. And then he related what
had occurred on Bush Island.

"It was just like Jasniff and Merwell," said Shadow. "And like old
Haskers, too! I suppose he is laughing to himself now because he made
you go without your supper."

"But I am not going without it," said Dave. "That is, not if you fellows
will do me a favor."

"Want me to get something from the pantry for you?" queried Sam,
quickly. "I'll do it--if it can be done."

"You can't get in the pantry any more," said Phil, with a wry face.
"Since Dave and I did the trick some time ago they keep the doors
locked."

"And that puts me in mind of a story!" cried Shadow. "Once a little
boy----"

"Quit it, Shadow!" interrupted Sam. "You don't expect Dave and Roger and
Phil to listen to your yarns when they are starving, do you? Tell the
story after they have filled up."

"Well, it was only a short yarn," pleaded the story-teller of the
school. "But, of course, if we can do anything----"

"You can--I think," said Dave. "But you must act quickly."

"What's to be done?"

"Since I have been here I have noticed a wagon going through on the main
road every evening about this time. It belongs to Rousmann, the
delicatessen man of Rockville. I wish you'd stop him and see what you
can buy for us." And as he finished Dave took a two-dollar bill from his
pocket and held it out.

"By hookey! I'll do it!" cried Sam, readily. "Come on, Shadow! Maybe we
can get enough to have a little feast to-night!"

"Not on two dollars," answered Phil. "Here's another fifty cents."

"Oh, I've got a little money of my own," returned Sam.

"So have I--thirty-five cents," added Shadow. "My allowance is behind
time. And that puts me in mind of another story. Two men were----Oh, but
I forgot, you are too hungry to listen to yarns. Well, I'll tell it some
other time," and away he went after Sam, out into the hallway and down
the broad stairs.

"If only they get there before that wagon passes!" sighed the senator's
son.

"Maybe the driver won't have anything to sell. He may be sold out," came
from Phil.

"Let us hope for the best," answered Dave, cheerfully. "He can't be sold
out of everything. Even a loaf of bread and some sardines wouldn't go
bad."

"Or some frankfurters," added Roger.

A few minutes passed, and Ben came up to the room, and the story of the
adventure on the island and with Job Haskers had to be told again. Ben
was as indignant as Sam and Shadow had been.

"I wouldn't stand for it!" he cried. "Why don't you report to Doctor
Clay?"

"Because he is away," answered Dave. "But I may report to him
to-morrow," he continued, thoughtfully.

A half-hour passed--to the hungry boys it seemed a long time--and then
came a clatter of footsteps in the hallway. The door was banged open,
and in came Sam and Shadow, followed by Gus Plum and Luke Watson, and
each carrying a fair-sized bundle under his coat.

"We got there just in the nick of time!" panted Sam, for he was somewhat
out of breath. "Fact is, I had to run after the wagon to stop it."

"And we got a dandy lot of stuff," continued Shadow. "Gus and Luke
helped us to buy it."

"We are in for a spread to-night," explained Gus Plum. "But you fellows
can eat all you wish right now."

The door was closed and locked, and one after another the bundles were
opened. The boys who had done the purchasing had certainly "spread
themselves," as Dave said. They had obtained some fresh rolls and cake,
an apple and a pumpkin pie, some cheese, and some cold ham and tongue, a
bottle of pickles, and five different kinds of crackers in boxes.

"This is certainly a spread and no mistake," said Dave, as he and Phil
and Roger viewed the eatables with keen satisfaction.

"Chip Macklin has gone off to a farmer's house for two quarts of milk,"
said Shadow. "And I told him to bring some apples, too,--if he could get
them."

"We'll have more than if we had been downstairs to supper," said the
shipowner's son.

"Whatever is left will do for our spread later," explained Sam.

"Whatever is left," repeated Shadow. "Say, that puts me in mind of a
story--and I'm going to tell this one," he added, as several of those
present gave a groan. "A little boy was looking for his shoes. He found
one and looked at it thoughtfully, and then said: 'I dess you is the
right one, and your brovver is the left one, but you is the left one,
and your brovver ain't left 'tall, 'cause he's gone.'" And the story
produced a smile all around.

In a few minutes came a triple rap on the door--a well-known signal--and
Sam opened the portal, to admit Chip Macklin. The small student carried
two bottles of milk under his coat, and his pockets were bulging with
apples and pears.

"Hurrah! Now we can have a square meal and no mistake!" cried Dave, as
glasses were produced, and the milk was poured out. "Chip, we owe you
one for this."

"You're welcome," answered the little lad, with a smile. He was glad to
be of service, in return for all Dave had done for him in the past.

The eatables were spread out on a studying table, and Dave and his chums
proceeded to "fill up," as Phil expressed it. They made a hearty meal,
and yet, when they had finished, there was a considerable portion of the
food left.

"We'll not touch the pies or the fruit," said Dave. "Those can be saved
for the spread later."

The boys were just clearing away the crumbs of the meal when there came
a hasty knock on the door.

"Who is there?" asked Roger, going to the door, but not opening it.

"It is I, Murphy," came in the husky tones of big Jim, the monitor. "If
anything is going on in there, I want to warn you that Mr. Haskers is
coming up--I heard him tell an under teacher."

"Thanks, Jim--we'll be ready for him," answered the senator's son, and
passed out a pear and an apple, and then the kind-hearted monitor walked
away again on his rounds.

The students worked hastily and noiselessly, and in less than three
minutes the remainder of the food was stowed away in a closet out of
sight, and everything about the dormitory was cleaned up. Then the lads
got out their books and writing materials.

"Come in!" cried Dave, when a knock sounded sharply, and the door was
opened, and Job Haskers presented himself. His face showed his
disappointment at finding everything as it should be.

"Oh, Mr. Haskers, you are just in time!" cried Phil, innocently. "Will
you kindly show me how to do this example in algebra?"

"And will you please show me how to translate this Latin?" asked Roger,
catching his cue from Phil.

"And I've got a problem in geometry that is bothering me," said Dave,
smoothly.

"I have no time for lessons now," answered the teacher, harshly. "I have
other duties to perform. If you will attend to the explanations given in
the classrooms you will need no extra aid," and thus delivering himself,
Job Haskers backed out of the dormitory as speedily as he had entered
it.

"Stung that time!" murmured Ben, as he closed the door once more. "I'll
wager an apple against a peanut that he thought he would catch Dave,
Roger, and Phil eating on the sly."

"Or off the table," added Sam, and then Ben shied a book at his head.

For over an hour the lads in the dormitory turned their attention to
their lessons. During that time some other occupants of Nos. 11 and 12
came in, and all were informed of the spread to be given at midnight. To
make things more lively, some boys from No. 10 were also asked to
participate.

"Of course you are going to ask Nat Poole and Guy Frapley," said Roger,
with a grin.

"Not on your collar-button!" replied Sam. "They can furnish their own
spreads--they and the whole crowd with 'em."

"We want to look out that they don't get wise to what we are doing,"
said Plum. "It would be just like Nat to give us away, if he knew."

"If he did that he ought to have his head punched," murmured Luke.

"Say, Luke, give us a little music, before it gets past hours,"
suggested Dave, and willingly enough Luke got out a banjo, tuned up, and
rendered several favorites. While the playing was going on, the door was
left open, and a small crowd congregated in the hallway to listen, for
Luke was really a skillful performer. All too soon the playing had to
come to an end, as the time for "lights out" arrived.

It was exactly twelve o'clock when Sam arose from where he had been
resting and made a light. At once the others also got up. All were
dressed, and it did not take long to bring the eatables from the closet
and push two studying tables together for a "banquet board," as Roger
dubbed it. He and Dave and Phil were not particularly hungry, yet they
entered with vim into the proceedings. The door between Nos. 11 and 12
was open, and those invited from No. 10 came in as silently as shadows.

Soon the feast was in full swing. The pies were large, and were cut into
just enough pieces to go around. The fancy crackers were passed around
in their boxes, and the apples and pears were placed on a tennis racket
and handed around, "like an old-fashioned contribution box," according
to Plum's way of describing it.

"We ought to have a speech!" cried Ben. "I move Dave Porter be called
upon to speak."

"Second the motion!" cried several others.

"Give us something on 'How to Learn Without Studying,'" suggested
Shadow.

"Or 'How to Do Algebra While You Sleep,'" said Ben.

"Or 'How to Make Haskers Reform,'" suggested Luke.

"Don't ask him to speak on the impossible," broke in Plum. "You'll never
get Jobey to reform--it isn't in him."

"I'm too full to make a speech," said Dave, with a smile. "Besides, we
don't want any noise up here, or we'll be spotted sure."

"I know what we ought to do!" cried Phil.

"What?" asked a chorus.

"Pay old Haskers back for the mean way he treated us. Can't we do
something to him while he is asleep?"

"We sure can!" answered Roger. He looked at Dave. "What shall it be?"

Dave thought for a moment, and then a broad grin overspread his
features.

"I wonder if we can manage it," he said, half to himself.

"Manage what, Dave?" asked several, eagerly.

"I think we can do it--if some of you fellows will furnish a stout
line. Several fishing lines twisted together will do."

"But what do you intend to do, Dave?"

"Make Job Haskers think there is an earthquake,--that is, if he is in
bed and asleep, and we can get into his room."

"Oh, he must be asleep by this time," said Sam.

"And here is a stout cord. I used it for flying my big kite," added Ben.

"Then, come on, and we'll give Job Haskers a surprise. But don't make
any noise, or we may get caught."



CHAPTER XII

AN EARTHQUAKE FOR JOB HASKERS


The door to the hall was cautiously opened, and the boys looked out. The
coast appeared to be clear, and Dave tiptoed his way out, followed by
his chums. A faint light was burning, as required by the school
regulations, and this kept the students from bumping into anything.

All knew the location of the apartment occupied by Job Haskers, and it
did not take them long to reach the door to it. Here they paused to
listen intently.

"He is in there and asleep," whispered Dave.

"Yes, and snoring," added Roger. "That shows he won't wake up very
easily."

"We'll wake him up, don't fear--if my plan works," replied Dave, with
grim humor.

With great caution the door was tried and found to be unlocked. Then,
scarcely daring to breathe, Dave stepped into the apartment, with Roger
and Phil behind him, clutching at his arms. The light in the hallway was
near by, and Dave motioned for it to be turned up, so that he could see
around the room.

Job Haskers's bed had been turned around for this term, so that the head
was next to the wall beside the doorway. It was a new brass bedstead,
ornamental but light.

With deft fingers, Dave doubled the cord provided by Ben, and tied one
end to the head railing of the brass bedstead. The other end of the cord
he carried to the doorway, and threw up through the transom, which swung
upon side pivots.

"Good, I see your plan now!" murmured Phil. "I reckon we'll give him an
awakening all right enough!"

As soon as the boys in the hallway had secured the outer end of the
doubled cord, Dave stepped out of the room again, followed by Roger and
Phil.

"Why not lock the door?" whispered the senator's son. "The key is here."

"Just what I intended to do," answered Dave, in an equally low voice.

The door was closed and locked, and the students all gathered in front
of the portal, each with his hand on the cord.

"I wish we could dump him out of bed," muttered Plum.

"We'll give him a little quiver first," said Dave. "He won't know what
to make of it. I don't think he'll notice the cord. It is just the color
of the wall."

They pulled the cord taut, and then raised the head of the bed an inch
or two. Then they let it drop.

"Oh--er--who is that?" they heard Job Haskers murmur. "Is it time to get
up, Swingly?" He mentioned the name of the school janitor, who had
orders to rouse him when he was over-sleeping.

Of course there was no answer to the teacher's question. He waited for a
moment, and then turned over in bed, as if for another snooze.

"Now we'll give him a sharp jerk," whispered Dave, and the students
caught hold of the cord with vigor. Up came the head of the bed about a
foot and swayed violently towards the door.

"Hi! hi! What's this?" roared Job Haskers, sitting bolt upright, and
gazing about in bewilderment.

"It's the end of the world!" came, in a hollow voice, through the
keyhole. "The end of the world!"

"Mercy on me! It's an earthquake, that's what it is!" burst from the
befuddled teacher, and then as the bed was jerked high in the air once
more, he rolled over in the blankets and slid down to the lower end,
where one foot got caught between the brass bars.

"Get out of the building, Mr. Haskers!" came a cry through the keyhole.
"It is going to shake to the ground!"

"Yes! yes! It must be an earthquake!" groaned the bewildered pedagogue.
"Oh, will I ever get out alive, I wonder!"

The top of the bedstead was bobbing up and down, like a ship on an angry
ocean. In the darkness Job Haskers was completely bewildered, and he
firmly believed that an earthquake had struck Oak Hall and that the
building was in danger of collapsing. With a cry of fright he tumbled
out on the floor, and threw the covers, in which he was wound up, aside.
He tried to find the door, but the top of the bedstead was now in the
way.

"The fire escape--it is the only way out!" he muttered to himself, and
as the boys continued to jerk the bedstead around, he ran to the window
and threw out a rope, fastened to a ring in the floor. Then out of the
window he bounced and slid down the rope with a speed that blistered his
hands.

"He has gone out of the window!" cried Roger, who had his eye glued to
the keyhole. "Wait a minute, fellows!"

"Quick! We must take away the cord," said Dave, and in a trice the door
of the bedroom was unlocked, the bed shoved into place, and the cord
removed. Then the students scampered away, turning down the light as
before.

Once on the ground Job Haskers lost no time in getting away from the
building. Each instant he expected another quake that would bring that
noble pile of bricks, stone, and mortar to the ground. But the quake did
not come.

"Queer!" he murmured, presently. "Didn't anybody else feel that awful
shock?"

"Hi, you, throw up your hands, or I'll fill ye full o' buckshot!"

The cry came from behind him, and it caused Job Haskers to leap with a
new fear. He turned, and in the gloom of the night saw a man approaching
with a gun pointed full at him.

"Don't--don't sho--shoot me!" he gasped.

"Up with yer hands!" came from the man. "I cotches ye that time, didn't
I? Now, wot are ye, a ghost, a burglar, or a student on a lark?"

"Wh--who are yo--you?" stammered Job Haskers. "Did you--er--feel the
earthquake?"

Instead of answering the questions, the man came closer, until the
barrel of his shotgun was within a foot of the teacher's head. Then he
gave a cry of astonishment.

"Why, if it ain't Mr. Haskers! Wot in the world are you a-doin' out this
time o' night, sir?"

"Lemond!" faltered the teacher, as he recognized the driver for the
Hall. "Did you--er--did you feel the earthquake?"

"Earthquake? No, sir."

"It is strange."

"Did you feel any of 'em, sir?" Horsehair had lowered his gun and was
gazing fixedly at the teacher. "Say, you ain't walking in your sleep,
are ye?" he questioned, abruptly.

"No, no--I--er--I am sure I am not," stammered Job Haskers, yet in
secret he pinched himself to make certain. "I was--er--in bed, and I
thought I felt an earthquake--the bed swayed, and I heard a cry----" The
teacher stopped suddenly. "Perhaps it was those rascally boys!" he
cried, abruptly.

"Boys! Did they play a joke on yer? They wouldn't be above it, sir--they
are as full of 'em this term as ever, sir. How did you git out o' the
building--down that rope?"

"Ye-as. You see, the bed moved--or I thought it did--and blocked the
doorway, and I----But never mind, Lemond, don't say anything about this.
I'll go in." And the teacher started rapidly across the campus. He was,
of course, in his bare feet, and was finding his pajamas anything but
warm in this frosty fall air.

"You can't get in that way, 'less you have a key!" called out
Horsehair.

"I have no key," and Job Haskers stopped abruptly.

"I can let ye in the back way."

"That will do. Come, let us hurry--I am getting cold."

The back door was gained, and Job Haskers entered and felt his way up
the semi-dark stairs. As he reached the upper hallway he found himself
confronted by Doctor Clay, who had come in rather late, and who had been
on the point of retiring when certain strange sounds had disturbed him
and caused him to start an investigation.

"Why, Mr. Haskers, where have you been?" asked the doctor in
astonishment. "I heard a noise, but I did not know you were stirring."

"I--er--I imagined some of the students were skylarking," faltered the
assistant.

"Did you catch anybody?"

"No, sir,--they were too slick for me."

"This skylarking after hours must cease. Have you any idea who they
were?"

"Not--er--exactly. I had some trouble early in the evening with Porter,
Lawrence, and Morr, and they may be the ones. If you please, I'll take a
look in their room."

"Do so, and if anything is wrong, have them report to me in the
morning," said Doctor Clay, and retired once more to his room.

Moving swiftly through the hallway, Job Haskers reached his own room
and threw open the door. He made a light, and gazed around in great
perplexity. Everything was in perfect order excepting the bedclothes,
which were just as he had left them. He walked slowly to the window and
drew in the rope that was used for a fire escape.

"Strange! Strange!" he murmured to himself, as he scratched his head. "I
was sure the bed moved. Can I have been dreaming after all? I ate a
rather heavy supper, and my digestion is not as good as it used to be."

He put on his slippers and donned a dressing gown, and thus arrayed
sallied forth once more, this time in the direction of the dormitory
occupied by Dave and his chums. He approached on tip-toe and opened the
door quickly and noiselessly.

But the students had had ample time in which to get to bed, and every
one was under covers and apparently sleeping soundly. To make sure they
were not shamming, the teacher came in and gazed at one after another
closely. Then, with a face that was a study, he left the dormitory again
and walked slowly to his own room.

"Is he gone?" asked a voice in the dormitory, after a full minute of
silence.

"Yes, Phil," answered Dave. "But don't make any noise--he may come
back."

"Say, that was the richest joke yet!" chuckled Ben.

"How he must have looked, sliding down that rope in his pajamas!"
exclaimed Sam.

"If I dared, I'd really send in a theme to-morrow on 'Earthquakes,'"
piped up Polly Vane.

"Do it, Polly; I dare you!" cried Macklin.

"I will--if you'll let me sign your name to it," answered the girlish
student, but at this Chip shook his head vigorously.

"I'll bet old Haskers is as mad as a hornet," was Phil's comment. "Well,
it served him right, for the way he treated us," he added.

"I guess we needn't go to the doctor to-morrow with any complaint," said
the senator's son. "We have squared up."

"I'd like to know what Haskers really thinks of the shaking up," said
Dave. And then he turned over to go to sleep, and the others did
likewise.

The feast and the fun had tired the boys out, and the majority of them
slept soundly until the rising bell rang out. Dave was the first to kick
the covers aside and get up, but Ben followed immediately.

"Grand day, Dave!" cried Ben, running to the window to gaze out. "What a
fine day to go nutting, if we could get away."

"Nothing but lessons to-day, Ben," answered Dave. He was bending down,
looking under the bed. "Has anybody seen my shoes?" he continued,
looking from one to another.

"I haven't seen them," answered Roger. He bent down to get out his own
foot coverings. "Hello, my shoes are gone, too!" he cried.

"So are mine!" exclaimed Plum.

"And mine!" came quickly from several of the other boys.

"Did anybody put them in the closets?" asked Dave.

"If they did, they are not here now," answered Ben, who had entered one
of the closets to look.

A hasty search was made, the boys looking into every place they could
think of,--but all to no purpose. Every shoe, every boot, and every
slipper belonging to them had disappeared.



CHAPTER XIII

IN WHICH SOME SHOES ARE MISSING


"What do you think of it?"

"Who took them?"

"We can't go downstairs in our bare feet."

Such were some of the remarks made, as the lads of dormitories Nos. 11
and 12 looked at each other. The closets had been searched thoroughly
but without success.

"See here, if anybody in these rooms hid those shoes, I want to know
it!" demanded Sam, gazing around sharply.

"I hardly think a fellow would hide his own shoes, too," answered Luke.

"He might,--just to hide his own guilt."

"I believe this is the work of some outsider," declared Dave. "Most
likely Nat Poole and his crowd."

"By Jove, Dave, I believe you are right!" exclaimed Phil. "It would be
just like them to do it, if they got the chance."

"Did you say Nat Poole?" queried Shadow, scratching his head
thoughtfully.

"I did. Most likely Nat heard of our feast, and it made him extra sore
to think we were having a good time and he wasn't invited."

"That is true, and I guess----" Shadow stopped short, and a curious look
crossed his face.

"What is it, Shadow? Do you know anything of this?" asked Roger.

"Why, I--er--that is, I had a dream last night," stammered the
story-teller of the school. "Or, maybe it wasn't a dream after all," he
went on, in confusion.

"See here, Shadow, have you been sleep-walking again, and did you make
off with our shoes?" demanded Phil. He remembered only too well how poor
Shadow was addicted to walking in his sleep, and how he had once walked
off with a valuable collection of rare postage stamps belonging to
Doctor Clay.

"I--I don't think so," stammered Shadow, and got as red as a beet. "But
I had a queer dream. I forgot about it at first, but now it comes back
to me. I somehow dreamed that somebody came into this room and bent over
me while I was in bed, and then picked up something. I started to stop
him--and then I went sound asleep again."

"Who was the person?" questioned Polly Vane.

"I don't know."

"See here, Shadow, I'll wager a new necktie that you walked off with our
shoes!" declared Sam. "And if you did, please be kind enough to tell us
where you put them."

"Oh, Sam! I really--I don't think I did!" stammered the sleep-walker, in
much confusion.

"The feast must have been too much for you, and it set you to
sleep-walking," said Roger. "Now just see if you can't remember where
you went with the shoes."

"The whole bunch must have made quite a load--all one fellow could
carry," said Luke.

"Yes, and he'd have to put them in a box or a sheet at that," added
Plum.

"Try to think real hard," suggested Roger.

"If he did it, it is funny that he took his own shoes, too," remarked
Dave.

Poor Shadow was so confused he did not know what to say or do. He sat on
the edge of the bed the picture of despair.

"I--I thought I was all over sleep-walking," he murmured. "The doctor at
home was treating me all summer."

"One thing is certain--we can't stay up here all morning," burst out the
senator's son. "I'm going to borrow a pair of shoes somewhere."

"So am I," added Dave. "We'll hunt for the missing shoes later on."

"Say!" burst out Shadow, half desperately. "You--you won't tell Doctor
Clay about this, will you?"

"Not if you did it without knowing it, Shadow," answered Dave, promptly.

"I won't say a word," answered Plum.

"I--I don't know if I did it or not," went on Shadow, his face as red as
ever. "I didn't know I took those postage stamps and those class pins
that time. But if I did take 'em,--and we don't find 'em--I'll buy new
shoes for all hands, if it takes every dollar I can scrape up."

The boys donned their clothing and then went on a tour of some of the
other dormitories. Thus several borrowed shoes, while the others had to
be content with slippers and foot coverings usually worn on the athletic
field.

"Not very elegant," remarked Phil, as he gazed at the slippers he had
borrowed, "but 'any port in a storm,' as the sailors say. I hope we get
our shoes back."

"So do I, Phil," returned Dave. "But if Shadow went off with them he may
have gone a long distance. Remember, he carried those postage stamps
away up the river, and used a rowboat to do it. Maybe he rowed off with
our foot coverings."

"He doesn't act as if he was tired--and he would be tired if he went
very far with the shoes. Why, we didn't get to sleep until about one
o'clock or half-past."

"I know that. It certainly is a mystery."

With several of the boys appearing at breakfast wearing slippers the
secret of what had happened could not very well be kept, and it soon was
whispered around that NOS. 11 and 12 had been cleaned out of shoes,
boots, and slippers during the night, and that Shadow was suspected of
having walked again in his sleep. His chums tried to hush the matter up,
yet enough was said to make the story-teller of the school thoroughly
uncomfortable.

"I'd give ten dollars to locate those shoes!" said Shadow to Dave, later
on.

"So would I," answered Dave. "We can make a hunt after school."

Half a dozen of the students joined in the search for the missing foot
coverings, and the lads looked high and low, but without success.

"Only one place more that I know of," said Dave. "That is the old
granary."

"I don't think they can be there, but we can look," said Shadow.

The old granary was a building located behind some of the carriage
sheds. It had once held grain, but was now used for the storage of
garden implements. The lads found the door unlocked, and pushing it open
they entered and gazed around in the semi-darkness.

"I don't see much that looks like shoes," remarked Roger.

"I'll strike a light," said Dave, and did so. The match flared up, and
as it did so, several uttered cries.

"There they are, over in the corner!"

"We have found them at last!"

"Light a lantern and see," said Phil, and a stable lantern was quickly
procured and lit. Then the boys worked their way around a mower and a
harrow and some other farming implements to where they had seen the
shoes.

"Sold!"

"These are a lot of old stuff thrown away long ago!"

It was true--the shoes they had located were worn out and covered with
mildew. Shadow kicked them savagely.

"What a sell--and just after I was sure we had found them," he muttered.

Heavy at heart the students left the granary and put away the lantern.
They had exhausted their resources, and walked back to the school in a
decidedly sober mood.

"Well, all I can offer is this:" said Shadow, at last. "Each of you buy
new shoes and slippers, and turn the bills over to me--and I'll pay them
as quickly as I can."

"Don't you bother about my shoes, Shadow," said Dave, kindly. "I can get
others easily enough."

"So can I," added Roger and Phil.

"But I would like to really know whether you walked off with them in
your sleep, or if this is some trick of our rivals," continued Dave.

"You don't want to know any more than I do," declared the sleep-walker.

There seemed no help for it, and the next day all the boys paid a visit
to Oakdale and purchased new shoes. They did not bother with slippers or
boots, thinking that sooner or later the missing foot coverings would
turn up. The shoe dealer was all attention, for never before had he had
such a rush of trade.

Dave, Phil, and Roger got fitted first, and with their purchases under
their arms, they quitted the shoe shop and strolled up the main street
of the town.

"There are some girls we know!" cried the senator's son, presently, and
pointed across the way. Coming in their direction were Mary Feversham
and Vera Rockwell, two girls who lived in that vicinity, and who had
come to the lads' school entertainment the year before. Vera had a
brother with whom the senator's son was well acquainted.

"Why, how do you do!" cried Mary, as the boys crossed the street and
tipped their caps. "So you are all back at school, eh?"

"I thought you must be back," added Vera, giving all a warm smile.

"Yes, we are back," answered Dave. "How have you been since we saw you
last?"

"Very well indeed," answered Vera. "And how did you like it on the
ranch? We heard you had turned into regular cowboys."

"Hardly that," said Dave. "But we went in for bronco-busting, and
rounding-up, and all that."

"Somebody said you had some trouble with cattle thieves," went on Vera.

"Oh, Vera, don't mention that!" cried Mary, and blushed a little.

"Why shouldn't we?" demanded the other girl. "I don't believe those
stories, and I think Mr. Porter and his friends ought to know what is
being said."

"What is being said?" repeated Roger.

"Yes."

"Who is talking about us?" demanded Phil.

"Mr. Merwell,--the young man who used to go to Oak Hall. He goes to
Rockville Military Academy now."

"And what did he say?" questioned Dave.

"Oh, he said a great many things--not to me but to some girls I know. He
said all of you had gotten mixed up with some cattle thieves, and had
tried to get out of the trouble by blaming him, but that he and his
father had made you stop talking about him."

"Well, if that doesn't take the cake!" exclaimed Phil. "Isn't that
Merwell to a T?"

"The shoe was on the other foot," explained Roger. "Merwell was the one
who was mixed up in the affair, and he and his father had to pay for a
lot of horses that--well, disappeared. We exposed him, and that is what
made him mad."

"Did Mr. Merwell steal some horses?" asked Vera, in alarm.

"Not exactly--according to his story," answered Dave. "He says he took
them in fun. Then the regular cattle thieves took them from him--and let
him have some money. He claimed that he was going to return the horses,
but didn't get the chance."

"And he and his father had to pay for the horses in the end?"

"Yes,--they paid Mr. Endicott, the owner of the ranch at which we were
stopping."

"Then I guess Link Merwell was guilty," said Mary. "And after this I
don't want him to even speak to me--he or that friend of his, Mr. Nick
Jasniff."

"You'll do well to steer clear of the pair," warned Roger.

"It is a shame that they are allowed to talk about you as they do," said
Vera. "If they keep on, they will give you a very bad name."

"I don't believe folks in Rockville will believe much of what Jasniff
says," said Phil. "They'll remember his evil-doings of the past."

"He and Merwell seem to have made themselves popular at the Academy,"
was Mary's reply. "How they have done it I don't know. But perhaps they
have money, or else----"

The girl did not finish, for just then an automobile swung around the
corner and came to a halt in front of a store near which the young
people had halted. The automobile contained Merwell, Jasniff, and two
other students of the Academy, all attired in the cadet uniforms of that
institution.



CHAPTER XIV

WHAT THE GIRLS HAD TO TELL


One of the strange cadets was driving the automobile, and hardly had it
come to a stop when Merwell and Jasniff bounded out on the sidewalk,
directly in front of Dave and his friends.

"Why--er--hello!" stammered Jasniff, and then, recognizing the girls, he
grinned broadly, and tipped his cap.

"How do you do?" said Merwell, to Mary and Vera, and at the same time
ignoring Dave and his chums.

The two girls stared in astonishment, for they had not expected to see
the very lads about whom they had been conversing. But they quickly
recovered and turned their backs on the newcomers.

"What's the matter--don't you want to speak to me?" demanded Jasniff, a
sickly look overspreading his face.

"I assuredly do not, Mr. Jasniff," answered Vera, stiffly.

"And I suppose you don't want to speak to me either," came sourly from
Link Merwell.

"You are right, Mr. Merwell--I do not."

"After this you will please us best by not recognizing us," added Mary,
coldly.

"Oh, I see how it is--these chaps have been filling you up with stories
about us!" cried Merwell, roughly. "Well, if you want to believe them
you can do it. I don't care!" And he turned on his heel and entered a
nearby store.

"Some day you'll wish you hadn't made such friends of Porter & Company,"
said Jasniff, and he glared defiantly at Dave and his chums. "Maybe
you'll find that they are not just what you thought they were," and
having thus delivered himself, he, too, entered the store. In the
meantime the automobile had gone on along the street to the post-office,
where the two strange cadets went in to see about mail.

"Say, I think I'll lay for Merwell and Jasniff and----" began Phil, when
a warning pinch on his arm from Dave caused him to break off.

There was an awkward pause, neither the boys nor the girls knowing
exactly what to say or do.

"Well, we must be going," said Vera. "I promised to be home by dark."

"And I have some errands to do before I go back," added Mary. "So we'll
say good-by."

"I hope we meet again," remarked Phil.

"Maybe we'll come to some of your football games," ventured Vera. "I
did so enjoy some of those other games."

"We are not playing on the eleven this season," answered Dave. It gave
him a little pang to make the admission.

"Oh, is that so!" Both of the girls gave the boys a studied look. "Well,
we must be going." And then they hurried down the street, around a
corner, and out of sight.

"Fellows, we ought to lay for those chaps!" cried Roger, as soon as the
chums were alone.

"Just what I was going to suggest," broke in Phil.

"What good will it do?" asked Dave. "We can't make anything out of
Merwell and Jasniff by talking, and we don't want to start a fight."

"I'd like to duck 'em in a mud pond!" muttered the shipowner's son. "It
is what they deserve."

"They deserve tar and feathers!" was Roger's comment. "Why, in some
places they'd be run out of town. How they ever got into Rockville
Academy I can't understand."

"Money sometimes goes a great way," said Dave. "They may have literally
bought their way in--that is, their parents may have done it for them."

The three students had passed to the other side of the street. Now they
looked down the highway and saw the automobile go around a corner in
the direction of Rockville. But the machine soon came to a halt again,
although they did not know it.

"Well, I am going to lay them out for taking that boat, anyway," said
the senator's son.

"Ditto here," added Phil.

"Physically or mentally?" queried Dave, with something of a smile.

"Both--if it's necessary," returned the shipowner's son, promptly. It
was easy to see he was spoiling for a fight.

"I am going to see what they are doing," said Roger, after another
minute had passed. "Maybe they won't come out until they think we have
gone away."

He recrossed the street, and peered through one of the show windows of
the store. Then, of a sudden, he made a rapid motion for his chums to
join him.

"They are going out by a back way!" he cried. "The sneaks! They intend
to give us the slip!"

"They shan't do it!" exclaimed Phil. "Come on!" And he set off on a run,
with the others at his heels. They turned one corner and then another,
and soon reached an alleyway between two houses located on a street
behind the store. Here they plumped squarely into Merwell and Jasniff,
each with a bundle under his arm.

"So this is the way you sneak away, eh?" demanded Phil.

"Sneak away!" blustered Merwell. "Not at all--we were only taking a
short cut; ain't that so, Nick?"

"Sure," answered Jasniff, loudly. "We don't have to sneak away from
anybody."

"We've a good mind to give you both a sound thrashing," cried Phil,
angrily. "You had no business to touch our boat."

"And you had no business to talk about us to Miss Feversham and Miss
Rockwell," added the senator's son.

"See here, you let us pass!" muttered Merwell. "Don't you dare to lay
your fingers on us!" And he tried to edge to one side.

"See here, both of you," said Dave, sternly. "I want to give you a final
warning. You have been talking about us; I know it, and it is useless
for you to deny it. Now I want you to understand this: If you say
another word against me, or against Phil or Roger, I'll see to it that
you are exposed to every student at Rockville Academy."

"You won't dare!" cried Jasniff. His voice trembled a little as he
spoke.

"I will dare, Nick Jasniff. I know what you are--and I know what Link
Merwell is--and I don't propose to stand any more of your underhanded
work. Now you have your last warning,--and if you are wise you'll heed
it."

"Say, do you want to fight?" roared Jasniff, coming forward, and
sticking his chin close to Dave's face.

"I can defend myself, Jasniff,--even when a fellow tried to take a foul
advantage of me, as you did that time in the gym."

"Bah! Always ringing that in. I only swung the Indian club to scare you.
I can fight with my fists."

"Well, remember what I said, Jasniff. It's my last warning."

"Oh, come on--they make me sick!" cried Link Merwell, a certain nervous
tremor in his voice. "We don't want to listen to their hot air!" And
plucking his crony by the arm he hurried out of the alleyway into the
street.

"Shall we let 'em go, Dave?" whispered Phil. "I'd just as soon pound 'em
good."

"If we did that, Phil, they'd claim we were three to two and took an
unfair advantage of them. Let them go. They have their final warning,
and if they don't heed it--well, they will have to take the
consequences."

"I could hardly keep my hands off of Merwell."

"I felt the same way," said Roger. "He deserves all we could give him."

The three chums watched Merwell and Jasniff turn another corner. They
expected to see the pair walk to where the automobile was standing, but
instead noted that the two cadets entered the Oakdale Hotel.

"Must be going to see somebody," suggested Phil.

"Or else they have gone in to smoke and drink and play pool," added
Roger. "You'll remember Merwell liked to drink. He was the one who did
his best to lead Gus Plum astray."

"Yes, I remember that," answered Dave. "I am mighty glad Gus and he are
keeping apart."

The three students walked past the hotel, and looking in at an open
window, saw Jasniff and Merwell talking to a man who sat in the reading
room with a newspaper in his hands.

"Why, that is that Hooker Montgomery!" exclaimed Roger. "The fake doctor
who sells those patent medicines."

"We'd better not let him see us, or he'll be wanting a new silk hat from
us," murmured Phil. And he grinned as he thought of what had occurred on
the road on the day of their arrival at Oak Hall.

"I wonder if Jasniff met him at Dunn's on the river?" said Dave. "That
is what the letter requested, you'll remember."

"Wonder what business Jasniff was to aid him in?" queried the
shipowner's son.

"Maybe Jasniff is going to help him to dispose of some of his marvelous
remedies," suggested Roger. "I reckon he could give the ignorant farmers
as good a talk about them as Montgomery himself."

"More than likely, since Montgomery is a very ignorant man," answered
Dave.

"The other fellows ought to be ready to go back to school by this time,"
said the senator's son, after watching those in the hotel for a minute.
"Let us hunt them up;" and thus, for the time being, Jasniff, Merwell,
and Doctor Montgomery were dismissed from their minds. The meeting at
the hotel was an important one to our friends as well as to those who
participated, but how important Dave and his chums did not learn until
long afterwards.

It was a comical sight to see the boys of dormitories Nos. 11 and 12
walking back to the Hall, each with a shoe box under his arm. Sam Day
led the procession, carrying his box up against his forearm, like a
sword.

"Shoulder boxes!" he shouted, gayly. "Forward march!" And then he added:
"Boom! boom! boom, boom, boom!" in imitation of a bass-drum.

"We've got boxes enough to last us for a year of picnics," cried Ben,
for in Crumville, as in many other places, shoe boxes were frequently
used for packing up picnic lunches.

"Say, that puts me in mind of a story!" put in Shadow, eagerly. "A girl
who was going to get married had a shower, as they call 'em. Well, a wag
of the town--maybe he was sore because he couldn't marry the girl
himself--told all his friends, in private, that she was very anxious to
get a nice bread-box. The shower was to be a surprise, and it was, too,
for when it came off the girl got exactly eleven bread-boxes."

"Oh!" came in a groan. "The worst yet."

"Not so bad," said Dave, dryly. "If she filled the boxes the married
pair must have proved a well-bred couple."

"Hark to that!" roared Phil. "Say, Dave, go and take a roll!"

"When it comes to a joke, Dave is the flower of this flock," was Luke's
comment.

"Anyway, he takes the cake," murmured Ben.

"Ben, say something; don't loaf on the job," came from the senator's
son.

"A joke like that is pie for Roger," murmured Polly Vane.

"Even so, nobody has a right to get crusty," murmured Plum.

"Or pious!" continued Dave, and then Shadow made a pass for him with a
shoe box. Then Roger started to run, and the others came after him, and
away they went in a merry bunch, along the road leading to Oak Hall.
Soon they came out at a point where the highway ran along the Leming
River, and there halted to rest, for the run had deprived some of them
of their wind.

"I hear a motor-boat," said Roger. "Wonder if it is Nat Poole's craft?"

"It is!" answered Plum. "Here he comes, right close to shore!"

The river was a good fifteen feet below the level of the roadway, and
gazing down through the bushes lining the water's edge, the students
beheld Nat Poole's motor-boat gliding along in a zig-zag fashion. Nat
was not in the craft, which was evidently running without an occupant.



CHAPTER XV

A RUNAWAY MOTOR-BOAT


"What do you make of that?"

"The motor-boat must have run away from Nat!"

"Either that or Nat has fallen overboard!"

"Maybe Nat has been drowned!"

These and other remarks were made, as the boys on the highway gazed down
at the craft that was speeding along in such an erratic fashion over the
surface of the river. A closer look confirmed their first opinion, that
nobody was on board.

"I'm going to try to stop her!" shouted Dave, and ran back along the
highway, and disappeared into the bushes. Roger followed him closely,
and some of the others trailed behind.

"I am going up the river--to see if I can find Nat!" shouted Phil, and
away he sped, and Sam and Ben went along.

It was no easy matter for Dave to work his way down the bank of the
stream. The bushes were thick and the footing uncertain, and once his
jacket caught on a root and he had to pause to free himself. But at
last he came out on a narrow strip of rocks and sand, at a point where
the Leming River made a broad turn.

The water at this point was quite shallow, and here he thought the
progress of the motor-boat would be stayed. His surmise was correct, the
craft bringing up between several smooth rocks. The engine continued to
work, pounding the boat back and forth, and threatening to sink her.

Fortunately, Dave had on a pair of gaiters he had borrowed, and they
were so big that he slipped them off with ease. His socks followed, and
then he rolled up his trousers to his knees, and waded into the stream.

"Be careful, or you'll slip and hurt yourself on the rocks!" sang out
the senator's son.

"I'm watching out!" returned Dave.

He was leaping from one smooth stone to another, keeping in the shallow
spots as much as possible. Thus he managed to get within a few yards of
the motor-boat.

As he came closer he saw that the craft was pounding on the rocks worse
than before. The pounding had in some way moved the gasoline control
forward and also advanced the spark, and the engine was practically
running "wild."

"I hope she isn't getting ready to blow up!" thought the youth, and he
gazed anxiously ahead. Smoke was issuing from the motor-boat, coming
from some over-heated oil.

He leaped to the next high rock, and then plunged boldly forward, soon
gaining the bow of the craft. At the stern the propeller was churning
the water into a white foam. The craft was trembling violently, and the
hum of the machinery gave full evidence of the power it was exerting.

Fortunately, Dave's knowledge of gasoline engines now stood him in good
stead, and without the loss of a second he turned off the supply of
gasoline and the electric spark, and thus allowed the engine to "die."
As the propeller slowed up and stopped, the water behind the craft
calmed down, and then the pounding on the rocks was reduced to a gentle
rub that did little but scratch the paint.

"Is she all right, Dave?" called out Roger, who stood on the rocks of
the bank watching proceedings with great interest.

"I think so, although it hasn't done the engine any good to run wild.
She's pretty well heated up, and the cylinders may be carbonized, or
something like that."

"What are you going to do--try to run her in here?"

"No, I'll not take the risk. I only wanted to stop the engine and get
rid of the risk of the boat blowing up."

"You ran a big risk doing it. She looked to me as if she might go up any
instant."

"She can't get out of here--the current holds her," went on Dave. "She
will be perfectly safe until Nat comes for her. I'd like to know where
he is."

"Phil and some of the others went off to see."

To save the boat as much as possible, Dave took two of the wooden
gratings of the flooring and tied them to ropes hanging over the sides.
In this position they acted as fenders, so that the rocks rubbed against
the gratings instead of the boat proper.

"I am afraid he'll have quite a job of it, getting her out into the
stream," said Dave, on coming ashore, and when he was putting on his
socks and the gaiters. "She'll have to back out against the current and
do a lot of turning."

"Maybe he'll have to get somebody to tow him out,--with a very long
line," returned Roger.

"If only Nat didn't fall overboard," said Dave.

In the meantime, Phil and some of the others had run up the stream a
distance. As they turned a point where there were several small islands
the shipowner's son set up a shout.

"There is Nat now!"

"Whatever is he doing?" queried Ben.

"Swimming ashore, or trying to wade," answered Sam.

The boys on the shore came down to the water's edge and watched Nat
Poole with interest. He was floundering around in water up to his waist.
Sometimes he would come up on a rock, and then slip and pitch headlong.
But he kept on, until he was but a few yards away.

"Hi, Nat! what's the matter?" called out Phil. "Did you fall overboard?"

"Hel--help me!" chattered the unfortunate one, and now the others
realized that he was suffering greatly from the cold. "Don--don't let
m--me--g-g-g--go down!"

"We'll help you!" answered Phil, promptly, and ran out on some dry rocks
to a point close to poor Nat. "Come, give me your hand and I'll pull you
up."

"So will I," added Ben, who had come behind the shipowner's son.

The suffering youth was only too glad to have somebody come to his aid,
and he put up both hands, and those on the rocks hauled him up and then
aided him to get to a safe spot on shore. He was shivering from head to
feet, and his teeth chattered so that he could hardly speak.

"I wa--want t-t-to get where it is wa-wa-warm!" chattered Nat. "That
wa--water is li--like i-i-i-ice!"

"Take off your wet coat," said Phil, kindly. "Here, you can have mine.
I've got a sweater on." And he passed over the garment.

Nat was glad enough to don something dry, and the exchange was quickly
made.

"If you'll take my advice, you'll make a run of it to the nearest
farmhouse and warm up," said Ben. "If you don't you may take your death
of cold."

"I--I wi--will," answered Nat.

"I'll go with you. There is a farmhouse just down the road a bit."

"We'll go back to where we left Dave and the others," said Phil. "They
were after your boat," he explained.

"Did th--they st--stop h-h-her?"

"I don't know. We saw her, in the river, running wild. How did it
happen?"

"I was fi--fixing the rudder li--line at the st--st--stern when all of a
su--sudden we hit a r--r--rock or something and I we--went overboard,"
answered Nat. "Before I co-could g-g-get back the b-b-boat got away
from m-m-me."

"Dave and some others went after the boat. We saw it running by itself,
among the rocks."

Nat was too cold to pay attention just then to what had become of his
property. He ran as fast as he could to the farmhouse, and there was
taken in and allowed to dry himself in front of the fire, and was given
a cup of hot tea. In the meantime Phil rejoined Dave and Roger, and
told how the money-lender's son had been found.

It was after the supper-hour when all of the boys got back to Oak Hall,
and Job Haskers was on the point of reading them a lecture and forcing
them to do without supper when Doctor Clay appeared. To the master of
the school the lads related their story, and he at once excused them for
their tardiness, and told them to go directly to the dining-room, while
he ordered Lemond to get out the school coach and go after Nat.

"Poole can be glad he was not drowned," said the doctor. "It was nice of
you to stop the engine of his boat. But after this I want all of you to
be more careful. I do not want to lose any of my boys!" And the look he
gave them went to the heart of every lad present.

"What a difference between him and old Haskers!" murmured Phil.

"I'd give as much as a dollar to have Haskers leave," added Sam.

"I reckon every fellow in the school would chip in a dollar for that,"
was Plum's comment.

When Nat got in he was sent at once to his room, to change all of his
clothes, and was then given a hot supper, which made him feel quite like
himself. Later on he questioned Dave about the motor-boat, and said he
would try to get the craft from among the rocks the next day, hiring a
professional boatman to assist him. He did not thank Dave for his aid,
nor did he thank Phil and the others.

"I guess it isn't in him to thank anybody," was Ben's comment. "Nat is
one of the kind who thinks only of himself."

"He will have a hard time of it, getting his boat," said Dave, and so it
proved. It took half a day to get the craft from among the rocks, and
then it was found that she leaked so badly she had to be sent to a
boat-builder for repairs.

That Saturday was the day scheduled for the football game with
Lemington. As Nat could not take the eleven to that town in his
motor-boat, as promised, the school carryall was pressed into service.
This made some of the other students, who had arranged to go in the
carryall, find other means of conveyance, and there was considerable
grumbling.

"Poole said he would take 'em in the motor-boat," growled one student.
"He ought to have seen to it that his boat was repaired on time."

The Old Guard football eleven all had bicycles or motor-cycles, and they
went to the Lemington Athletic Grounds in a body on their wheels. All
carried the school colors, and many also had horns and rattles.

"We'll show 'em that we can root for Oak Hall even if we are not on the
eleven!" declared Dave.

Job Haskers took but little interest in athletics, declaring he thought
too much time was wasted over field sports, but Andrew Dale was keenly
alive to what was going on. He knew all about the trouble in the
football organization, and he watched the departure of Dave and his
chums with interest.

"Aren't you going, Mr. Dale?" asked Dave.

"Oh, yes, I am going in the carriage with Doctor Clay. Do you think we
shall win, Porter?"

"We'll win if rooting can do it!" cried Dave.

"Then you intend to 'root,' as you call it?"

"Yes, sir--we are going to root for all we are worth."

"I am glad to know it," answered Andrew Dale; and then he turned away to
attend to some school duties. Later on, when he and the doctor were on
the way to the game, he mentioned the trouble in the football club, and
told how Dave and his chums had been left out in the cold, and how Dave
and the others were now going to cheer for and encourage the school
eleven.

"Fine! Grand!" murmured the master of the school, his eye lighting up
with pleasure. "That is the proper school spirit! It does Porter, Morr,
and the others great credit."

"Exactly what I think, Doctor," answered the first assistant. "Many
players would have remained away altogether, or gone to the game to
throw cold water on the efforts of those on the gridiron. It shows a
manliness that cannot be excelled."

"Yes! yes!" murmured Doctor Clay. "A fine lot of boys, truly! A fine
lot! It seems a pity they were forced off the team."

"Perhaps they'll be back--before the football season is over," answered
Andrew Dale, gravely.

"What do you mean, Dale?"

"Perhaps the football eleven will need them and be glad to get them
back."



CHAPTER XVI

A STRUGGLE ON THE GRIDIRON


When Dave and his chums reached the athletic grounds they found the
grandstand and the bleachers about half filled with people. The
Lemington contingent had a good number of rooters, and they were already
filling the air with their cries of encouragement. The boys looked
around, but saw nothing of Vera Rockwell or Mary Feversham.

"Maybe they didn't think it worth while to come," suggested the
senator's son.

"No Rockville fellows here, either," said Phil. "They play an eleven
from Elmwood this afternoon."

The Lemington players were already on the field, and it was seen that
they were rather light in weight, only the full-back being of good size.

"Our eleven has the advantage in weight," said Roger. "But I rather
fancy those fellows are swift."

"Yes, and they may be tricky," added Ben.

As soon as Dave and his chums were seated, Dave gave the signal, and
the Oak Hall cheer was given. Then followed another cheer for the school
eleven, with a tooting of horns and a clacking of wooden rattles.

"Mercy! but those Oak Hall students can make a noise!" exclaimed one
girl, sitting close by.

"That is what they call 'rooting'!" answered her friend. "Isn't it
lovely!"

"Perfectly delicious! They ought to win, if they shout like that!"

Guy Frapley heard the racket, and walked over to the spot from whence it
proceeded. He was astonished beyond measure to see Dave leading off,
yelling at the top of his lungs, and waving a rattle in one hand and the
school colors in the other.

"What do you think of that?" he asked, of Nat Poole.

"Oh, Porter and his crowd want to make out they don't feel stung over
being out of it," grumbled Nat.

"But they are rooting harder than anybody."

"They'll be glad to see us lose."

"We are not going to lose."

"I didn't say we were," answered Nat, and walked away. Somehow, it made
him angry to see Dave and his chums cheering, and in such an earnest
manner. He would have been better satisfied had Dave acted grouchy or
stayed away from the game.

The game was to be of two halves, of thirty minutes each, with ten
minutes intermission. Oak Hall won the toss-up, and as there was no wind
and no choice of goals, they kept the ball, and Lemington took the south
end of the gridiron.

"Now, then, here is where Oak Hall wins!" cried Dave, loudly. "Do your
level best, fellows!"

"Shove her over the line, first thing!" added Roger.

"Oak Hall! Oak Hall!" yelled Phil. "Now then, all together in the game!"

Under the inspiration of the cheering, Oak Hall made a fine kick-off,
and by some spirited work carried the pigskin well down into the
Lemington territory. But then the ball was lost by Nat Poole, and the
opposing eleven brought it back to the center of the gridiron, and then
rushed it up to the thirty-yard line of the school.

"That's the way to do it!" yelled a Lemington supporter. "You've got 'em
going!"

"Send it back!" yelled Dave. "All together, for Oak Hall!" And this cry
was taken up by a hundred throats.

Guy Frapley got the ball, a minute later, and made a really fine run
around the Lemington left end. This brought the pigskin again to
center, and there it remained for nearly five minutes, the downs on
both sides availing little or nothing. A scrimmage followed, in which
one Lemington player was injured, and he accused one of the Oak Hall
fellows, a new player named Bemis, of foul play. This protest was
sustained, and Bemis was retired and another new player named Cardell
was substituted.

"Five minutes more!" was the cry, and again both elevens went at it.
Dave suddenly saw the captain of the Lemingtons make a certain sign to
some of his men.

"They are up to some trick!" he cried to his chums, and hardly had he
spoken when the ball went into play, through center and across to the
left end. It was picked up like a flash, passed to the quarter-back, who
was on the watch for it, and carried toward the Oak Hall line with a
rush.

"A touchdown for Lemington!"

"That's the way to do it!"

"Now, Higgins, make it a goal!"

Amid a wild cheering, the pigskin was brought out for the kick, and the
goal was made.

"That's the way to do it!"

"Now for another touchdown!"

Again the pigskin was brought into play. But while it was still near the
center of the field the whistle blew and the first half of the game came
to an end.

Score: Lemington 6, Oak Hall 0.

It must be confessed that it was a sorry-looking eleven that straggled
into the Oak Hall dressing-room to discuss the situation.

"You want more snap!" cried John Rand, the manager.

"They put up a trick on us!" grumbled Nat. "They got that touchdown by a
fluke."

"Well, I wish we could make one in the same way," retorted Rand. Since
being elected manager, he had had anything but an easy task of it to
make the eleven pull together. Some of the old players wanted Dave,
Roger, Phil, and the others back, and threatened to leave unless a
change was made.

"This looks as if Oak Hall was out of it," whispered Phil to his chums,
during the intermission.

"Oh, I don't know," returned Dave. "A touchdown and a goal isn't such a
wonderful lead."

At the beginning of the second half it was seen that Guy Frapley and his
fellow-players were determined to do something if they could. But they
were excited and wild, and the captain could do little to hold them in.
Several times they got confused on the signals, and once one of the new
ends lost the ball on a fumble that looked almost childish. Inside of
ten minutes, amid a mad yelling from the Lemington supporters, the ball
was forced over the Oak Hall line for another touchdown, and another
goal was kicked. Then, five minutes later, came a goal from the field.

"Hurrah! That's the way to do it!" yelled a Lemington supporter.

"Fifteen to nothing!" cried another. "Thought Oak Hall knew how to play
football!"

"They ought to play some primary school kids!"

"You shut up!" screamed Nat Poole, in sudden rage. "We know what we are
doing!"

"You ought to be an ice-man,--you're slow enough," retorted the
Lemingtonite, and this brought forth a laugh, and made Nat madder than
ever.

Again the ball was placed in play, and this time Oak Hall did all it
could to hold its own. But it was of no avail. Lemington carried the air
of victory with it, and its confidence could not be withstood. Again the
ball was shoved over the line for a touchdown, and again the goal was
kicked, amid a cheering that was deafening.

"It's a slaughter!" murmured Roger.

"I am afraid so," answered Dave. "Too bad! I am sorry for the school!"

"So am I," said the senator's son, and Phil and Ben nodded gravely.

The last five minutes of the game only served to "rub it in," as Shadow
expressed it, for Lemington scored again, this time, however, failing
to kick the goal. When the whistle blew the pigskin was on the Oak Hall
twenty-five yard line.

Final score: Lemington 26, Oak Hall 0.

It is perhaps needless to state that the local supporters yelled and
cheered, and blew their horns, and clacked their rattles until they were
exhausted. It was a great victory, for in the past Oak Hall had been a
formidable rival on the gridiron. The eleven cheered for Oak Hall, and
were cheered in return; and then the visitors got out of sight as
quickly as possible.

"A bitter defeat truly," said Doctor Clay, while driving back to the
school. "Our boys did not seem to play together at all."

"It was very ragged work," answered Andrew Dale. "But it is no more than
I expected, from what I saw in the practice games. Our eleven will be
able to do but little unless it improves wonderfully."

"I believe you, Dale. Don't you--ah--think they would do better if
Porter and Morr and Lawrence were in the line-up?"

"I certainly do. But they have been voted out, so I was told."

"Ahem!" Doctor Clay grew thoughtful. "What does Mr. Dodsworth think
about it?" The party he mentioned was the gymnastic teacher, who took
quite an interest in football, although not officially.

"He thinks Porter, Morr, Lawrence, and Plum ought to be put back on the
eleven. He says it is a shame that they were put off in the first
place."

"I believe our school is to play Rockville Academy next."

"Yes, and I just got a message over the telephone that Rockville won
from Elmwood this afternoon, twelve to four. I know Elmwood has a strong
eleven, so Rockville must be extra good this season."

"Exactly so; and that means, if our eleven is not greatly strengthened
before we meet Rockville, we shall suffer another defeat," responded the
master of Oak Hall, rubbing his chin reflectively.

"More than likely, sir."

"Too bad! In these days some folks think football and baseball quite as
important--ahem!--as--er--some studies. It is a wrong idea,
assuredly,--yet I--ahem!--I think it would be a very good thing if we
could show the world that our students can play football as well as do
other things."

"Football is a great thing at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, Doctor."

"Yes, indeed! I remember well how I used to witness those stirring
games, and how I would yell with the rest. Why, Dale, one year we had a
quarter-back that was a corker. They couldn't stop him! He got the
pigskin and skinned down the field like a blue streak, and--but, ahem!
that is past history now," finished the doctor, bringing himself back to
his usual dignity. "But I must look into this football matter more
closely," he added with a speculative sigh.

Poole, Frapley, and their crowd had arranged for a banquet that night,
and many others of Oak Hall had gathered boxes and barrels for bonfires.
The banquet was a tame affair, and not a single fire was lighted.

"We are having frost early this year," said Luke, dryly.

"Yes, it came on suddenly, this afternoon," added Shadow.

"I'll wager you will hear something drop in the football team before
long," went on Luke. "The school won't stand for such work as we had
to-day."

"Who is to blame?"

"Rand, Frapley, Bemis, and Nat Poole."

"Then they better resign."

"Just what I say."

During the evening the talk throughout the school was largely about the
game, and nearly every player was severely criticised. It was agreed
that Bemis had acted in a thoroughly unsportsmanlike manner, and he was
told that he would have to resign, and he agreed to do so. It was also
agreed by the students generally that of the new players, Guy Frapley
had done the best work.

"Give him proper support and he would be all right," said Dave. "But, in
my opinion, the eleven as it now stands will never win a victory."

"And that is what I think, too," added Roger.



CHAPTER XVII

REORGANIZING THE ELEVEN


On Monday morning the students of Oak Hall were treated to a surprise.
Directly after chapel service Doctor Clay came forward to make an
address. He first spoke about the good work that the pupils were,
generally speaking, doing, and then branched off about the football
game, and the poor exhibition made on the gridiron.

"In the past I have not thought it proper for the head of this
institution to take part in your football and baseball games, contenting
myself with giving you an instructor in the gymnasium alone," he
continued. "But I find that these sports now play a more or less
prominent part in all boarding schools and colleges, and that being so,
I have thought it wise to embrace all field sports in the gymnasium
department. Consequently, from to-day your football elevens, your
baseball nines, and your track athletics, and in fact all your sports,
will be held under the supervision and direction of Mr. Dodsworth, your
gymnasium instructor. He will be assisted by Mr. Dale, who, as you all
know, was once a leading college football and baseball player. These two
gentlemen will aid you in reorganizing your football eleven, and will do
all in their power to give to Oak Hall the victories you all desire."

This announcement came as a bombshell to Rand, Frapley, Poole, and their
cohorts, and it was equally surprising to all of the others who had
played on the eleven.

"That means a shaking-up for us all right," said one of the players. "I
can see somebody getting fired already."

"Do you suppose they intend to take the management away from me and
Rand?" demanded Frapley. "I don't think that is fair. Rand was made
manager by a popular vote."

"If they want me to resign, I'll do it," snapped the manager. He had
been so severely criticised that he was growing tired of it.

"It's a shame that we can't run our club to suit ourselves," grumbled
Nat Poole. "If the teachers are going to do it, maybe they had better do
the playing too."

"Well, they'd play a heap sight better than you did, Nat," was the
remark of another student.

Doctor Clay's announcement created such a stir that the students could
think of little else during the day. All felt that from henceforth
football, baseball, and track athletics would become a regular part of
the institution.

In the afternoon a notice was posted up in the Hall and in the
gymnasium, calling a special meeting of all who were interested in the
football organization. The meeting was called for Tuesday afternoon at
four o'clock, and the call was signed by Mr. Dodsworth and Mr. Dale.

"They are not going to let any grass grow under their feet," remarked
the senator's son, as he and Dave read the notice.

"Shall you go to the meeting, Roger?"

"Of course. And you must go, too, Dave. I know Mr. Dale and Mr.
Dodsworth want all the fellows to be there."

Following the posting of the notice came word that Rand had resigned the
management of the eleven, and then came another notice calling for the
election of a new manager.

"Let us put up Henry Fordham again," suggested Phil. "That is, if he is
willing to run."

The football meeting was attended by nearly every student of Oak Hall,
the gymnasium meeting room being literally packed. The only youth who
was absent was John Rand.

Mr. Dale called the meeting to order, and made a neat speech, in which
he advised the lads to act soberly and accordingly to their best
judgment. He said the football game with Lemington had proved a great
disappointment, and he sincerely trusted that the reorganized eleven
would be able to lead the school to nothing but victories. He added that
as Rand had resigned, they would first proceed to the election of a new
manager, and then the rearranging of the eleven would be begun under the
direction of Mr. Dodsworth and himself.

The teacher had scarcely finished his speech when Guy Frapley was on his
feet.

"Mr. Dale, I wish to say something," he almost shouted. "As everybody
here knows, I am the captain of the football eleven. What I want to know
is, whether I am to be the captain of the eleven or not. If I am to be
nothing but a figurehead, why, I'd rather get out."

It was an aggressive, almost brutal, manner of expressing himself, and
it produced an uproar.

"Put him out!"

"Make him resign!"

"Tell him he has got to behave himself and make good!"

"Boys! Young gentlemen! We must have quietness!" cried Andrew Dale,
raising his hand. And then he rapped for order.

"I'll resign!" shouted Guy Frapley, when he could be heard. "I don't
want anything more to do with the old team, anyway!" And in a rage he
forced his way out of the gymnasium. Several of his friends tried to
get him to return, but without avail.

The departure of Frapley brought about a semblance of order, and
presently the gymnasium instructor got up to talk. What he said was
directly to the point. He said that he had prepared a list of names of
former football players of Oak Hall, with a record of the work of each
individual. This list would be used in making up the reorganized team.

"That's the talk!" cried one student. "That's the common-sense way of
going at it."

"Merit is what counts every time," added another.

When a vote was taken for a new manager, Henry Fordham was elected
almost unanimously. In accepting, the new manager stated that he was
glad he was going to have the assistance of Mr. Dale and Mr. Dodsworth,
and he hoped that from now on the club would pull together and pile up
nothing but victories. This speech was well received and loudly
applauded.

Then the list of football players of past seasons was read. Dave was
placed at the top of the list, with Phil, Plum, Roger, and Sam following
in the order named. Nat Poole's name was sixteenth, much to his disgust.

"I suppose that means that I can't play on the eleven," he growled.

"You may become a substitute," answered Mr. Dodsworth.

"Not much! If I can't play on the eleven, I know what I'll do--I'll pack
my trunk and go home!"

"Do it right away!" shouted a voice from the rear of the room.

"You'll never be missed, Poole," added another.

"All right, I'll leave!" shouted Poole, purple with rage, and then he
left the meeting as abruptly as Guy Frapley had done. At the door he
shook his fist at the crowd. "You just wait--I'll fix Oak Hall for
this!" he added, sourly.

"How foolish!" murmured Luke. "Nat will never make any friends by acting
like that."

"Do you think he'll leave Oak Hall?" questioned another boy.

"Perhaps,--if his father will let him."

Following the departure of Nat Poole came the reorganizing of the
football eleven. Dave was placed in the position he had occupied the
year before, and Phil, Roger, Sam, and Plum followed. Of those who had
played against Lemington only five were retained--those who had been on
the eleven one and two years previous. All the other players were told
they would have to enter the scrub team, for a try-out for the
substitute bench.

It filled Dave's heart with pleasure to get back in his old position.
He was unanimously chosen as captain of the eleven, and he called for
some practice every afternoon that week,--a call that was indorsed by
Mr. Dodsworth, Mr. Dale, and the new manager.

"We have got to get right down to business--if we want to beat
Rockville," said Dave, to the others. "I understand they put up a stiff
game with Elmwood. If we are beaten, all the fellows who were put off
the eleven will have the laugh on us."

"We'll do our best," cried the senator's son.

"It's a good thing we organized the Old Guard," said Phil. "That kept us
in fine condition."

Practice commenced in earnest the next day, and was kept up every
afternoon, under the supervision of Mr. Dale and the gymnasium
instructor. Mr. Dodsworth perfected the eleven in signal work, and
Andrew Dale showed them how to work several trick plays used effectively
by the college he had attended.

Many of the students wondered what Guy Frapley, Nat Poole, and John Rand
would do. On the day following the reorganization of the football
eleven, all three students sent telegrams to their parents, and received
replies the next day. Rand and Frapley left Oak Hall, and announced that
they were going to Rockville Military Academy. Nat Poole had wanted to
go, too, but Aaron Poole would not permit it, for the reason that he had
paid for Nat's board and tuition in advance, and he was not the man to
sacrifice one cent by such a move. Later on he wrote a letter, stating
that he didn't believe in any such foolishness as football anyway, and
Nat had better settle down to his studies and get some good of the money
that was being spent on him. This letter angered Nat exceedingly, but he
could do nothing without his parent's consent, and so he settled down as
best he could.

"I shouldn't wonder if Rand and Frapley become cronies of Merwell and
Jasniff," said Dave to Phil. And so it proved,--the four became quite
intimate, and all of them vowed that sooner or later they would "settle
accounts" with Dave for the trouble he and his chums had caused them.
The ringleader of the four was Nick Jasniff, and he resolved to do
something that would put Dave in the deepest kind of disgrace. Not to
expose himself, he matured his plans slowly and with great caution.

Although Dave was doing all in his power to make the football eleven a
good one, he was not permitted to devote all his spare time to that
organization. Oak Hall, as my old readers know, boasted of a secret
organization known as the Gee Eyes, those words standing for the
initials G and I, which in their turn stood for the words Guess It.
Dave and his chums were all members of this society, which was kept up
mainly for the fun of initiating new members.

"The Gee Eyes meet to-night, Dave," said Buster Beggs on Friday morning.
"Big affair--initiation of six new members. You must be on hand."

"I think I had better go to bed--so as to be in good trim for the
football game," answered Dave.

"Oh, no, you must come!" pleaded Buster. "Phil and Roger, and all the
old crowd have promised to be there."

"Well, I'll be on hand if you'll promise not to keep us out after twelve
o'clock, Buster. The eleven has got to get its sleep, remember that."

"All right, we'll try to cut it short," answered Buster Beggs, who, this
term, was the leader of the society, or Right Honorable Muck-a-Muck, as
he was called.

"What are you going to do?" questioned Dave.

"That's a secret, Dave. But it will make you laugh. We are going to
initiate the whole six at one time."

"Very well, I'll be there."

"One thing more, Dave," went on Buster, in a low voice. "Keep this from
Nat Poole."

"But he is a member," urged Dave. "He has a right to know."

"If he knew he'd tell on us sure--he is down on the whole crowd. We are
going to drop him."

"I see. Well, you are leader this term, Buster, so do as you please,"
answered Dave, and walked off to one of his recitations. Then Buster
hurried off in another direction.

As soon as the two students were gone a third boy tiptoed his way from
behind a coat rack, where he had been in hiding. The lad was Nat Poole.

"I thought something was in the wind!" murmured Nat to himself. "I must
find out just where they are going, and what they are going to do,--and
then I'll let Doctor Clay know all about it. Maybe if Porter and his
crowd are caught red-handed they'll be put in disgrace, and then they
won't be able to play that game with Rockville!"



CHAPTER XVIII

AN INITIATION AND WHAT FOLLOWED


"Are we all ready?"

"We are."

"Then forward--and make as little noise as possible until we are out of
hearing of the school."

The Gee Eyes had assembled at the boathouse, under the leadership of
Buster Beggs and Ben Basswood. Three of the number had gone ahead,
taking with them the six new students who were to be initiated.

The members of the society had with them their robes and other
paraphernalia, consisting of boxlike headgear, stuffed clubs, wooden
swords, squirt guns, and other articles too numerous to mention. They
hurried off into the woods, and there donned the robes and headgear, and
lit their lanterns, for the night promised to be dark.

"I hope nobody has found us out," ventured Roger. "We don't want to get
caught at this." He had received an inkling of what was coming.

"Oh, I guess we are safe enough," answered Dave. "Murphy said he would
let us in."

"Say, talking about being let in puts me in mind of a story," came from
Shadow. "A man stayed out later nights than his wife liked. One night he
didn't come home until very late, and he stood on the sidewalk, afraid
to let himself in. Along came a friend and asked him what he was doing.
'Please ring the bell and see if my wife is home,' said the man. So the
friend rang the bell, and the next instant the door opened, and he got a
broom over his head. 'Is she in?' asked the man on the sidewalk. 'Sure
she is,' answered his friend. 'Go right in and you'll get a warm
welcome!'" And at this story there was a general snicker.

A few minutes' walk brought the members of the Gee Eyes to a clearing in
the woods. Here several lanterns had been hung up, casting a weird light
of red, blue, and green. Those to be initiated were present, and
surrounding them in a big circle, the members of the society commenced
to chant:

    "Flabboola! flabboola!
      See the victims, see!
    Flabboola! flabboola!
      Victim, bend your knee!
    Sinky panky! flabboola!
      Fall upon the ground!
    Sinky panky! flabboola!
      Sing without a sound!"

And then came a wild dancing around the victims, with a brandishing of
clubs and swords.

"Hi! don't stab me!" roared one, as a sword was thrust suddenly in the
direction of his stomach.

"Shut up!" murmured the victim next to him. "They won't hurt you."

"The Right Honorable Lord of the Reservoir will warm up the victims'
backbones!" sang out Buster, in a hoarse bass voice. And then Shadow
Hamilton, in his disguise, crept behind the nearest victim, and sent a
stream of ice-water from a squirt-gun down the fellow's neck.

"Wow! wow!" yelled the student, trying to break away from the pair who
held him. "Crimps! but that's cold!"

"'Tis for thy good we do this to thee!" said Shadow, solemnly, and then
the next victim was treated to a similar dose. He submitted quietly, and
so did the next fellow, but the fourth broke away, and started off in
the direction of the school.

"Hi, come back here!" yelled several. "Don't you want to become a
member?"

"I--I guess I've changed my mind!" stammered the youth. "I--er--I can't
stand cold baths, nohow. If you--Hello, what's this!" And of a sudden he
pitched over some dark object, and went headlong.

"Ouch!" came in another voice. "Ouch! What do you mean by kicking me in
the ribs?" And a groan of pain followed.

"Who is behind those bushes?" asked Dave.

"Must be a spy!" returned Phil.

"A spy! A spy! Capture him!"

"Don't let him get back to the school!"

On the instant there was great excitement, and fully a dozen members of
the Gee Eyes rushed forward and caught hold of the escaping victim, and
the fellow over whom he had stumbled. Both were dragged forward, and the
light of a lantern was turned on the unknown.

"Why, it's Nat Poole!"

"He was spying on us!"

"Maybe he was going to report us!"

"You le--let go of me!" stammered Nat. He put his hand to his side.
"That fellow half killed me!" And he gave another groan.

"What were you doing in the bushes?" demanded Ben, sternly.

"Me? Why--er--nothing."

"Yes, you were."

"I'll wager a button he was going to report us!" exclaimed another
student.

"It ain't so!" whined Nat. "Ain't I got a right to be here? I'm a
member."

"No, you are not--you've been cast out!" answered a deep bass voice.

"If he wants to be one of us, he's got to be initiated all over again!"
said Phil, in a disguised voice. "What say, boys, shall we do it?"

"Yes! yes! Put him with the others!"

"Sure thing! Nat, you are just in time!"

"We'll give you an initiation you'll never forget, a regular three-ply,
dyed in the wool, warranted storm-proof initiation," added Ben, in
tragic tones.

"I don't want to be initiated again!" howled the money-lender's son.
"I've had enough of this society. You let me go!"

"Not to-night!" was the firm answer, and much against his will Nat was
forced to go along with the crowd; and thus his plan to find out what
they were going to do, and then carry the news to Doctor Clay, was
nipped in the bud.

"We were lucky to catch Nat," whispered Dave to Roger, as the whole
crowd proceeded through the woods, led by Buster and Ben. "I am certain
he was spying on us for no good purpose."

"Exactly, Dave, and we want to watch him right along," returned the
senator's son. "First thing you know, he'll be giving our football
signals and tricks away to Rockville and the other schools we are going
to play."

Nat had been forced to join the other victims, and the seven were
marched a distance of a quarter of a mile. The crowd came out on the
bank of the river, at a spot where several ice-houses had recently been
erected.

"Now, we'll give you the famous slide for life!" cried Buster, and
pointed to the upper portion of one of the ice-houses, where a big
wooden slide led downward into the Leming River.

"I can't stand cold water!" cried the victim who had previously tried to
run away.

"'Twill do you a power of good!" answered Sam, in a deep voice.

"Say, you ain't going to dump me into the river from that thing!" roared
Nat Poole. "I won't stand it!"

"Then sit down to it, Nat!" came a voice from the rear.

Of a sudden the seven victims were blindfolded. Several protested
weakly, but the others kept silent, for they knew it would do no good to
attempt to hold back; indeed, it might make matters worse. Yet nobody in
that crowd wanted a ducking, for the water was cold, and they were quite
a distance from the school.

Some narrow stairs led to the upper portion of the ice-houses, and
blindfolded as they were, the victims were forced to mount these and
were then taken to a room in the back of one of the buildings.

"Now for Number One!" sang out Buster, and one of the victims was rushed
forward to a slide.

"Hope you can swim, Carson!" said one of the hazers.

"The water isn't over ten feet deep," said another.

"Swim hard and then you won't take cold," added a third.

"If you find yourself really drowning, yell for help," put in a fourth.

"I--er--I don't think this is quite fair----" commenced poor Carson, and
then he was tripped flat on his back and sent downward with a plunge.
"Oh!" he screamed, and then continued to go down, with great rapidity,
for the slide had been looked over by the boys, and made as smooth as
possible. He shut his mouth tightly, expecting every instant to strike
the chilling waters, but of a sudden his feet struck a heap of sawdust,
and into this he slid up to his knees. Then eager hands seized him, and
the bandage was torn from his eyes. In the semi-darkness he saw that he
had not come down the slide over the water, but down another, which
ended in the sawdust pit of the ice-house. He looked decidedly sheepish.

"Have a fine swim, Carson?" asked one of his tormentors.

"What a sell!" muttered the victim. "But anyway, it's better than the
river!" he added, with much satisfaction.

One after another the victims were sent down the wooden slide. Some came
down silently, like martyrs, while others yelled in alarm. Nat Poole
was the last to be brought forward. He was well blindfolded.

"Be careful, Nat!" cried one student, gravely. "Don't hit your head when
you go down."

"And don't scratch yourself on any of the nails," added another.

"As soon as you hit the water somebody will haul you in with a
boathook," came from a third.

"I--I don't want to slide into the water, I tell you!" screamed the
money-lender's son. "I'll catch my death of cold!"

"You run all the way back to school and get into bed and you'll be all
right!" said a fourth hazer.

"I--I can't swim very well! You let me go!" And now Nat was fairly
whining.

"Can't do it, Nat! Here is where you get a first-class, A No. 1, bath!"
was the cry, and then the victim was sent flat on his back on the wooden
slide. He let up a shriek of agony, and another shriek as he commenced
to slide down. Then he lost his nerve completely, and uttered yell after
yell, only ending when he struck the sawdust with such force that he
turned a complete somersault and got some sawdust in his mouth and nose.

"My, but he certainly knows how to scream!" remarked Dave, as he and the
others rushed below, to join the crowd. "I hope he doesn't rouse the
neighborhood."

When the cloth was removed from Nat's eyes, and he had a chance to see
where he had landed, he was the maddest lad present. All the other
victims were laughing at him, and the club members almost doubled up in
their mirth.

"Think you're smart, don't you?" he snarled. "But you just wait!"

"Want more of the initiation?" demanded Buster.

"No, I don't! You let me go! I'm going back to the school!"

"So are we, Nat, and you'll go with us," answered Shadow. "Don't let him
get away from us!" he whispered to his friends.

"Well, this winds up the initiation," said Buster, throwing off his
headgear, a movement that was followed by the others. "You fellows are
now full-fledged members of the Gee Eyes."

"And I'm glad it is over," answered one of the victims. "Say, but that
was a dandy shoot the chutes!" he added, half in admiration.

"It is not quite as firm as it might be," said Dave. "It needs more
bracing up on the sides. The carpenters aren't done, I suppose."

"I thought it was mighty shaky myself," put in Phil. "Why, once I
thought it was going down with us."

"Oh, it's as sound as a dollar!" cried Shadow. "Of course, with such a
crowd----"

Shadow did not finish, for from above the boys in the sawdust pit, there
came a sudden ominous cracking. In the semi-darkness of the night they
saw a brace snap in twain. Another brace quickly followed, and then the
wooden slide commenced to sway from side to side.

"It's coming down!" yelled Roger, hoarsely. "Get out of here
quick--unless you want to be killed!"



CHAPTER XIX

SNEAK AGAINST SNEAK


It was a time of extreme peril for the boys in the sawdust pit at the
bottom of the wooden slide, and nobody realized this more thoroughly
than did Dave. In some manner the wooden bracings had become loosened,
and the ponderous slide was in danger of coming down with a mighty crash
on their heads. If it did this, more than likely some of the lads would
be seriously injured, if not killed.

"Jump from the pit!" yelled Dave, and caught Phil by one hand and Roger
by the other. All made a wild scramble, kicking the sawdust in all
directions.

"Let me get out of here!"

"Confound this robe, I'm all tangled up in it!"

"My foot is caught! Help me, won't you?"

Such were some of the cries that arose, as, in a bunch, the boys tried
to get out of the sawdust pit. All succeeded but Buster Beggs, who,
while on the rim of the pit, slipped and fell back,--just as another
brace snapped, and the ponderous wooden slide sagged still more.

"Help me!" yelled Buster. "Don't leave me, fellows!"

"Here, give me your hand!" cried Dave, turning back, and as the hand was
thrust towards him, he gave a jerk that brought Buster out in a hurry.
By this time most of the boys had run to a safe distance, and Dave and
Buster lost no time in following.

"All here?" demanded Ben. The lanterns had been left behind, so that
they could see only with difficulty.

A rapid count was made, and it was learned that all were safe. One
student had scratched his face, and another had wrenched his ankle, but
in the excitement these minor injuries were scarcely noticed.

"Thank fortune we are out of that!" panted Phil.

"I'm mighty glad I wasn't killed," added Luke.

"I wonder if the slide is really coming down after all," remarked Sam.
"It doesn't seem to be moving any more."

All peered forth in the semi-darkness at the big wooden affair. It had
sagged in the middle, and the top had twisted several feet to one side.
Another brace looked as if it was on the point of breaking and letting
it down still further.

"Better get out of here," said Nat Poole. "If the owner of the
ice-houses finds this out he'll make you pay for the busted slide."

"Well, I think we ought to pay for it, anyway," answered Dave, quickly.
"We broke it."

"Huh! I wouldn't pay a cent unless I had to," grumbled the
money-lender's son.

"What about our lanterns?" asked Roger.

"That's so!" exclaimed Ben. "They are all up in the ice-house, or down
in the sawdust pit."

"We can't leave them there,--they may set fire to something," said Phil.

"We'll have to get them," decided Dave.

"Oh, but that's dangerous!" cried one of the students who had just been
initiated. "Why, the slide might come down just as we were getting the
lanterns!"

"Yes, and I don't want to be killed for the sake of four or five
lanterns," added another.

"It's not a question of the worth of the lanterns," said Dave. "We
mustn't leave them here because of the danger of fire. If we left them,
and the ice-houses burnt down, we'd have a nice bill to pay!"

"Oh, don't croak so much!" growled Nat Poole. "I'm going back to school.
It's cold here."

"You stay where you are, Nat!" cried Ben, catching him by the arm.
"You'll go back with the rest of us, and not before."

With caution Dave, followed by Phil and Shadow, approached the
ice-house, and climbed up one of the ladders nailed to the side of the
building. Then they ventured out on a corner of the slide, and secured
two of the lanterns.

"We'll have to go down part of the slide for that other," said the
shipowner's son.

"No, don't do that, for your weight may bring the slide down," returned
Dave. "I'll get a long stick and see if I can't get the lantern with
that."

A stick was handy, and fixing a bent nail in the end, Dave reached down,
and after a little trouble secured the lantern. Then the boys went below
and secured the lanterns in the sawdust pit.

"Hi! what are you boys doing here?" demanded an unexpected voice from
out of the darkness, and by the light of the lanterns the students saw a
man approaching. He had a stick in one hand and an old-fashioned
horse-pistol in the other.

"Who are you?" questioned Buster, as leader of the Gee Eyes.

"Who am I? I am Bill Cameron, the owner of these ice-houses, that's who
I am! And I know you, in spite of them tomfoolery dresses you've got on.
You're boys from Oak Hall."

"You've hit the nail on the head, Mr. Cameron!" cried Phil. "Glad to see
you!" And he walked forward and held out his hand.

"Who be you?" demanded Bill Cameron, and peered at the shipowner's son
curiously. "Well, I declare, if it ain't the young man as stopped the
runaway hoss fer my wife! Glad to see you!" And the ice-house man shook
hands cordially. "Up to some secret fun, I suppose."

"Yes, sir."

"I thought I heard a yellin' around the ice-houses, and I told my wife
I'd dress and come over and see what it meant. Hope you ain't done no
damage," the man continued, somewhat anxiously.

"We have done a little damage, I am afraid," answered Phil. "But we are
willing to pay for it."

"What did ye do?"

In as few words as possible Phil and some of the others explained the
situation. They were afraid Bill Cameron would be angry, but instead he
broke into a laugh.

"Ain't it the greatest ever!" he cried. "You ain't done no damage at
all. The carpenters put that wooden slide up wrong, and I told 'em
they'd have to take it down, and they started to-day. That's what made
them bracin's bust. The hull thing is comin' down,--so what you did
don't hurt, nohow."

"I am very glad to hear that!" cried Phil, and the others said
practically the same. Then they bade good-night to the ice-houses'
owner, and hurried in the direction of Oak Hall.

"It's a good thing, Phil, that you knew Mr. Cameron," said Dave, on the
way. "But you never told me about stopping a runaway horse for Mrs.
Cameron."

"Oh, it wasn't much!" answered the shipowner's son, modestly. "It
happened last June, just before we started for Star Ranch. The horse was
running along the river road, and I got hold of him and stopped him,
that's all. Mrs. Cameron was going to tell Doctor Clay about it, but I
got her to keep quiet."

"Phil, you're a hero!" And Dave gave his chum's arm a squeeze that made
Phil wince, but with pleasure.

Murphy, the monitor, was on the watch for them, and let them in by a
back door. All lost no time in getting to their dormitories and in
undressing and going to bed. Everybody in the crowd was satisfied over
the initiations but Nat Poole. His plot to expose Dave and his chums had
failed, and he was correspondingly sour.

"But I'll fix them yet," muttered the money-lender's son, to himself.
"Just wait till they start to play Rockville, that's all!" And the
thought of what he had in mind to do made him smile grimly.

It must be confessed that some of the football players felt rather
sleepy the next morning. Dave was sleepy himself, and this alarmed him
not a little.

"If we lose the game with Rockville to-day it will be our own fault," he
said, to the crowd that had participated in the Gee Eyes' doings. "We
should have gotten home at least an hour earlier than we did last
night--or rather this morning." And then he made each player take a good
rubbing down and just enough exercise to limber up his muscles.

Dave had not forgotten what had been said about Nat Poole, and directly
after breakfast he called Chip Macklin to one side. As my old readers
know, Chip had once been the sneak of the school, and he knew well how
to hang around and take notice of what was going on.

"Chip, I've got some work for you," said Dave, in a low voice. "I may be
mistaken--in fact, I hope for the honor of the school that I am. But I
don't trust Nat Poole. He is down on some of us because we have gotten
back on the eleven, and you'll remember how chummy he used to be with
Jasniff and Merwell, who are now going to Rockville,--and with Rand and
Frapley, and they are now going to the academy also. I am afraid that
Nat----"

"That Nat will try to sell you out?" finished Chip, his little eyes
snapping expectantly.

"Yes. He may give our signals away, or something like that."

"I see. And you want me to watch--and report, if I see anything wrong?"

"Yes."

"I'll do it. I'd like to catch him--for he never treats me decently,"
added Chip.

It had been decided that some of the boys should go to Rockville by
boats and others by carriages and on their bicycles and motor-cycles.
The eleven were to go in the school carryall, and Mr. Dodsworth and
Andrew Dale were to go with them.

Owing to the change in the academy management, but little had been done
to the athletic field, and when the Oak Hall club arrived, they found
the grounds rather uneven and poorly marked.

"Bad for really good playing," remarked Dave.

"You'll have to be on your guard," warned Andrew Dale. "This field
should have been rolled down after the last storm."

The grandstand was rather a small affair, and it speedily became filled
with visitors, for the annual football game between the two schools was
always a great drawing card. Flags and banners were much in evidence,
and so were horns and rattles.

"I wonder if any outsiders we know are present?" remarked Roger to his
chums, as they walked across the field.

"Somebody is waving from the corner of the stand," answered Phil. "I
think it is Miss Rockwell."

"It is, and Miss Feversham is with her, and so is Mr. Rockwell,"
answered Dave, and then the boys took off their caps in salutation. And
then they recognized a number of other friends.

The eleven had just turned into its dressing-room, to prepare for the
game, when Chip Macklin came running in all out of breath.

"I want to see Dave!" he gasped, and then, as soon as the pair had
walked to a corner, he went on: "I caught Nat."

"What doing?" demanded Dave, quickly.

"Giving all of your signals away to Merwell, Jasniff, and one of the
Rockville football players. He started to tell about your trick plays
when he saw me standing near, and shut up."

"Where is he now?"

"In the grandstand, with some girl."

"I will attend to this at once, Chip. Come with me."

Dave led the small student out of the dressing-room, and called Andrew
Dale and Mr. Dodsworth. Quickly the situation was explained. The school
teacher looked shocked, and the gymnastic instructor was disgusted.

"I will take care of Poole," said Mr. Dale, in a strained voice. "Mr.
Dodsworth, you had better arrange for a change of signals."

"I will," answered the gymnastic instructor. And then Andrew Dale
hurried off, and Dave returned to the dressing-room, accompanied by Mr.
Dodsworth. The signals were re-arranged, and so were the signs for some
of the new trick plays.

"Now then, boys, let me give you a bit of advice," said Mr. Dodsworth,
when they were ready to go out on the field for practice. "From what I
have heard Rockville has good staying powers, and will try to tire you
out. Your move is to go at them with a jump and make your points early
in the game--and then hold them down. Now do your best--and don't give
in until the last whistle blows!"



CHAPTER XX

THE GREAT GAME WITH ROCKVILLE


"Dave, I think I see a chance of catching Rockville napping," said
Roger, just before the practice began.

"You mean, if they try to take advantage of our signals?"

"Yes. If they feel sure we are going to do one thing and we do another,
they'll get left."

"Well, they'll deserve to get left--if they try to profit by any such
work."

"Maybe the eleven won't stand for it."

"Oh, I don't know. Rockville is hungry for a victory over us, and they
may think all is fair in love and war and football," broke in Phil.

As each eleven came on the gridiron it was roundly cheered. The
Rockville supporters at once commenced their well-known slogan:

       "Rockville!
       Rockville!
    You'll get your fill
       Of Rockville!"

And immediately Oak Hall replied with its own well-known cry:

          "Baseball!
          Football!
          Oak Hall
          Has the call!
    Biff! Boom! Bang! Whoop!"

And then from both sides arose a great din of horns and rattles. In the
rear of the field were several automobiles and they, too, let off their
horns and screech whistles, adding to the noise.

The practice at an end, the toss-up followed, and this was won by
Rockville, and they elected to take the ball. Out on the gridiron spread
the two elevens, each player eager to do his best. Then the whistle
blew, there came a kicking of the pigskin, and the great game was on.

The play was fast and furious from the start, and in a very few minutes
Dave and his chums understood that to gain a victory was going to be no
easy thing. Rockville had the advantage in weight, and long practice had
put every man in the pink of condition.

But the trick that Nat Poole had tried to play bore unexpected results.
The kick-off was a good one, but the pigskin was caught by Phil and he
brought it back almost to the center of the gridiron, being aided by
clever interference on the part of Roger and Plum. Then the signal was
given to carry the ball through the center. The Rockville players
thought it was a signal to run around the left end, and moved
accordingly. Up the field came the pigskin, and before Rockville could
recover from the error made, Plum had the ball within four yards of the
goal line. Here, however, he was downed so heavily that the wind was
knocked completely out of him.

"That's the way to do it! Hurrah for Oak Hall!"

"Now, shove it over, fellows!"

"They didn't follow their signals at all!" whispered one player to the
Rockville captain.

"I know it," was the low answer. "Don't depend on the signals after
this."

But the damage had been done, and two minutes later Oak Hall obtained a
touchdown, Roger carrying the ball over the line. Dave made the kick,
and the pigskin sailed neatly between the posts. Then what a cheering
went up, and what a noise from the horns and rattles!

"That's the way to do it!"

"First blood for Oak Hall! Now keep up the good work!"

As quickly as possible the ball was brought once more into play, and now
the contest waged fast and furious. Back and forth went the pigskin,
first in the possession of one eleven, and then in the possession of
the other. There was a fine run around the right end by Roger, and
another by a player for Rockville. Then came a mix-up, and each side had
to retire a player, while Rockville was penalized several yards for an
off-side play.

"Five minutes more!" came the warning, and then in a fury Rockville
tried to form a flying wedge--such a move being permissible that year.
The shock was terrific, and in spite of all their efforts to stand firm,
Oak Hall broke, and the pigskin was carried over the line. Then the goal
was kicked--and the whistle blew, and the first half of the great game
came to an end.

Score: Oak Hall 6, Rockville 6.

Panting for breath, for that last shock had been a telling one, the Oak
Hall players filed into the dressing-room, there to rest and to receive
such attention as they needed.

"Well, it is still our game as much as theirs," said Dave, trying to
cheer up his men. "But we want to go at 'em hammer and tongs in the
second half."

"Try that right-end trick as early as possible," advised Mr. Dodsworth.
"I don't think they'll be looking for it. That mix-up on signals
bothered them some."

"Did Mr. Dale see Poole?" asked Roger.

"Yes, and Poole was sent back to the school in care of one of the
carriage drivers," answered the gymnastic instructor.

Down in the grandstand the supporters of Rockville and of Oak Hall were
having lively discussions over the merits of the two elevens. Among the
Rockville students were Jasniff, Merwell, and Frapley.

"I hope we wax 'em in the second half!" said Merwell to Jasniff.

"How much money did you put up, Link?" asked Jasniff.

"All I could scrape up--thirty-five dollars."

"And I put up forty dollars."

"With the Oak Hall fellows?"

"No, with some sports from the town."

"Just what I did. Of course, I hope we don't lose! If we do I'll be in a
hole until my next remittance comes."

"Oh, Rockville has got to win!" said Jasniff, loudly. "We can't help but
do it."

"This is Oak Hall's game!" cried a voice from the other end of the
grandstand, and then a cheer went up, followed by another cheer from the
local supporters.

"Say, when do we get back at Dave Porter?" asked Merwell, while the
cheering was going on. "I'm getting tired of waiting."

"We'll get back at him very soon now," answered Jasniff. "If what Doctor
Montgomery tells me is true, everything will be ready about
Thanksgiving time."

"Can you depend on the doctor?"

"I think so. He is almost down and out, and will do anything for money,"
answered Nick Jasniff, and then the talk came to an end, as the second
half of the game began.

Both elevens had been urged to do their best, and the play was as
spirited as before. Rockville was unusually aggressive, and one of the
players tackled Phil unfairly, giving his shoulder a severe wrench. A
protest was at once made by both Phil and Dave, and amid a general
wrangle the Rockville man was retired.

"Never mind, they are going to put Ross in!" was the cry. "He'll show
'em what he can do!" Ross had been a favorite player in years gone by,
but had not been allowed to play before because he was behind in his
studies. Now, however, it was seen that he was sorely needed, and the
Rockville faculty gave the desired permission to fill the vacancy.

Ten minutes of play found the pigskin near the center of the field.
Then, for the first time, Dave saw a chance to use the right-end trick
which Mr. Dodsworth had suggested, and gave the necessary signal. At
once the entire eleven was on the alert.

The trick consisted in sending the ball over to the right, back to
center, and then to the right again, some players meanwhile rushing to
the left as a blind. The movements were made with rapidity, and
Rockville was caught napping. Up came the pigskin in Plum's arms, and he
turned it over to another player, who in turn passed it to Dave. Then
Dave saw a clear space and dove for it. He was followed and tackled, but
shook himself loose, and dropped on the ball directly over the goal
line.

A roar went up.

"Another touchdown for Oak Hall!"

"Now for another goal!"

Amid a wild cheering the try for goal was made. But a keen wind had
sprung up, and the goal was missed by a few inches.

"Never mind, that makes the score eleven to six in Oak Hall's favor."

Once again the ball was brought into play. There were but seven minutes
of time left, and Rockville played like demons, hurling themselves again
and again at their opponents. But Dave felt that enough had been
accomplished, and gave the signal to be on the defensive, and thus
Rockville was held back, and the most it could do was to get the ball on
Oak Hall's thirty-five yard line. And then the fateful whistle sounded,
and the great game came to a close.

Final score: Oak Hall 11, Rockville Academy 6.

It was a well-earned victory, and the Oak Hall eleven were warmly
praised by their friends and the public in general, while many condemned
the military academy for the roughness shown.

"Oh, it was too lovely for anything!" said Vera Rockwell, when Phil and
Roger sauntered up, waiting for the carryall to take the eleven back to
Oak Hall.

"It was indeed!" added Mary Feversham. "We compliment you, and we
compliment Mr. Porter, too," she added, her eyes beaming brightly.

"A well-fought game," was Mr. Rockwell's comment; and then the boys
passed on, to join their fellows.

Of course the majority of the Rockville supporters felt blue over the
outcome of the game, and they lost no time in leaving the grandstand and
disappearing from view. Jasniff and Merwell went also, but in another
direction.

"This leaves me high and dry," growled Merwell. "I won't have a cent to
spend for two weeks."

"Let us see if we can't borrow some money," suggested Jasniff.

"I'd like to know who from? All the fellows who bet have lost their
money."

"Then we'll have to hit somebody who didn't bet--some of the goody-goody
fellows," and he laughed bitterly.

"Like Porter, eh?"

"Yes, Porter never bets, nor drinks, nor smokes. I can't understand how
he makes himself popular, can you?"

"It's his smooth way. But some day he'll be found out and dropped,"
answered Merwell.

"He'll be dropped when we work our little game against him," returned
Jasniff, with an evil look in his eyes.

Never had the carryall contained a happier crowd of students than those
who rode back to Oak Hall after the game. They sang, cheered, and
whistled to their hearts' content, and nearly drove Horsehair wild with
their antics, climbing out of the windows and over the roof of the
turnout.

"Bless my heart, but you must be careful!" pleaded the driver. "I don't
want to hurt no-buddy on this trip!"

"Oh, Horsehair, we can't hold ourselves down!" answered Phil. "Such a
victory isn't gained every day."

"Yes, sir, I know, sir. But them hosses don't know nothin' about
football, an' fust thing you know they'll run away," pleaded the
carryall driver.

"We'll take a chance," put in Roger, brightly. "Now, then, all
together!" And out on the air rolled the old school song to the tune of
Auld Lang Syne, and then followed a cheering that could be heard for
half a mile.

"Bonfires to-night!" announced Buster Beggs. "The biggest yet."

"Say, that puts me in mind of a story----" began Shadow, but what he
wanted to tell was lost in a tooting of horns and a clacking of rattles
that lasted until Oak Hall was reached.



CHAPTER XXI

THANKSGIVING, AND A SNOWBALLING CONTEST


The celebration that night was a grand affair, and Doctor Clay allowed
the students to remain out until midnight. Many bonfires were lighted,
and the boys danced around, sang songs, and played many practical jokes
on each other and on Horsehair and Pop Swingly. Shadow was in his
element, and was permitted to tell a dozen or more of his yarns, much to
his own satisfaction if not of his listeners.

The only boys who felt blue were Nat Poole and the lads who had played
against Lemington and then been put off the eleven. Nat had received a
sharp lecture from the doctor and then been sent to his room, to remain
there until the following morning. He wanted to pack up and go home,
fearing the jeers of his fellow-students when they learned of his
meanness, but he did not dare to make this move, for his father had
written him a sharp letter, telling him to finish out the term at Oak
Hall or otherwise to go to work,--and Nat did not want to go to work.

Of course the victory over Rockville made Dave and his chums feel good.
The whole eleven were warmly congratulated by the doctor, and by Mr.
Dale and Mr. Dodsworth.

The game with the military academy was followed by a number of other
contests, and the school made a fine record for itself, winning six
games out of eight. The two games lost were with college boys, and these
players were all considerably heavier than the Oak Hall lads. The last
game took place on Thanksgiving Day, and was witnessed by Dave's father
and Mr. Wadsworth, and also by Laura and Jessie. Oak Hall won this
contest by a score of 18 to 11.

"Oh, it was grand, Dave!" cried Jessie, after the boys had left the
gridiron. "That run you made was the best ever!"

"You all did well," said Laura.

"It makes my blood tingle, and I feel like getting into the game
myself," said Oliver Wadsworth. "It was a clean-cut contest from start
to finish."

Phil and some of the other boys were going home, and soon said good-by.
Mr. Porter and Mr. Wadsworth went off with Doctor Clay, and that left
Dave and Roger with the two girls. As Senator Morr was at home from
Washington, it was decided that the young folks should pay Roger's home
a visit for the rest of the day, Mr. Porter and Mr. Wadsworth coming
there in the evening to take Laura and Jessie back to Crumville.

The young folks made a jolly party as they boarded the train. They
turned over one of the double seats and sat facing each other, and
laughed and chatted until Hemson was reached. Here a carriage awaited
them, and they were driven to the Morr mansion, where they received a
warm greeting from the senator and his wife.

The girls had much to tell about themselves, and then asked about
matters at the school. They were indignant to learn that Nat Poole had
exposed the football signals.

"It is just like him--the sneak!" cried Jessie. "Oh, Dave, I hope you
don't have anything more to do with him."

"I am willing to let him alone if he will let me alone."

"Do you hear anything from Link Merwell?" questioned Laura.

"Not much. But I understand he and Nick Jasniff have it in for me."

"Then, Dave, you must be on your guard," cautioned his sister. "I think
Merwell is a regular snake in the grass--his actions at the ranch prove
it--and Jasniff is no better."

"Jasniff is worse," said Roger. "He is a brute."

The boys and girls spent a happy evening together, and all too soon Mr.
Porter and Mr. Wadsworth arrived to take Laura and Jessie back to
Crumville. The boys hated to see them go, and went to the depot with
them. There was some warm handshaking, and then the train rolled away,
and the boys went back to the house.

"Splendid girls, both of them," was Roger's comment, and Dave quite
agreed with him. But he was thinking more about Jessie than his
sister,--and it is quite likely Roger was thinking more about Laura.

The boys remained at Roger's home until Saturday afternoon, and then
returned to Oak Hall. The air was heavy and very cold, and they were
glad to get out of the carryall, rush into the school, and warm up.

"Feels like snow to me," said Dave; and he was right. It started to snow
that night, and kept it up for the greater part of Sunday, so that by
Monday the ground was covered to the depth of a foot or more.

"Hurrah, for a snowballing match!" cried Buster. "Everybody in the line
after school."

"Let us choose sides," suggested Ben. "Instead of having an Army of the
North and an Army of the South, we can have----"

"An Army of Red and an Army of Blue," finished Dave. "What do you say to
the red sweaters against the blue sweaters?"

As many lads of the school wore red sweaters, and about an equal number
wore blue, the idea caught on instantly, and at the noon recess the two
armies, of Red and of Blue, were hastily organized. Each numbered
twenty-five recruits, and Roger was made the leader on one side and Sam
Day the leader on the other. With Roger went Dave and Phil, while Ben,
Buster, and Shadow sided with Sam. Roger's side was the Army of Red, and
they made themselves a big red flag, with the initials O. H. on it. Not
to be outdone, Sam's army made a big blue flag, also with the school
initials.

It was decided that the Army of Blue was to take a position in the
woods, and that the Army of Red was to try to dislodge them and force
them to retreat. If either army was driven back two hundred yards it
must give up its flag and count itself beaten.

After school half an hour was allowed for getting ready, and most of
that time was consumed in making snowballs and in fortifying the edge of
the woods by throwing up a snowbank. Then a bugle belonging to one of
the students sounded out, and the great snowball battle began.

It was certainly a hot contest, and the snowballs flew in all
directions, and many a "soldier" received one in the body or in the
head. Sam had placed his followers with care, and try their best the
Army of Red could not dislodge them.

"I have a scheme," said Phil, after the battle had lasted for fully half
an hour, and while the boys were pausing to manufacture fresh
"ammunition" in the shape of snowballs. "Let us rush up and then pretend
to retreat. They'll think they have us on the run, and as soon as they
leave the woods and that snowbank, we can turn on 'em again, and wallop
'em."

"If you try that, be sure of one thing," said Dave. "Have plenty of
snowballs on hand. Otherwise that fake retreat may become a real one."

"We'll make a lot of snowballs," said Roger. "Pitch in, everybody!"

In a little while, the Army of Red was ready for the movement Phil had
suggested. Then Roger explained just how it was to be carried out. They
were to advance on the left wing of the Blues and then retreat in the
direction of the road. As soon as the Blues came from cover, they were
to drive them--if they could be driven--to the upper edge of the woods
and across the field beyond.

"Now then, all together!" cried the senator's son. "And make them think
you are really retreating, at first."

Forward went the Army of Red, throwing snowballs wildly. Then came a
shower of balls in return, and several of the Reds were seen to fall, as
if knocked down. Then came a pause, and several lads started to go back.

"Stop! Don't run!" yelled Roger. "Don't run!" But as this was part of
the deception, those in retreat kept on backing away.

"Hurrah! we've got 'em on the run!" came from the woods, and in a trice
several of the Army of Blue appeared on the top of the snowbank. "Come
on, let us chase 'em!"

Over the snowbank came the Army of Blue, carrying all the snowballs it
could manage. The Army of Red continued to retreat, each boy loaded down
with ammunition. Then, just as the edge of the woods was cleared, a loud
whistle sounded out.

It was the signal to turn, and like one man the Army of Red faced about,
and let fly a heavy volley of snowballs, directly in the face of the
enemy. The Blues were taken completely by surprise, and almost dazed.
Then came another volley of snowballs, and a dozen lads were struck, in
the head and elsewhere.

"Wow!" yelled one boy. "Say, what are we up against?"

"Let 'em have it!" came the rallying yell of the Reds. "Down with 'em!
Drive 'em to cover!" And on they came with a rush, throwing their
snowballs with all the accuracy possible. The severe onslaught
demoralized the other army for the time being, and two boys broke and
ran--then half a dozen more--and then the whole army.

"Stop! Turn and face 'em!" yelled Sam. "Give it to 'em hot!" But this
was not to be, for the reason that the Blues were out of ammunition.
They ran close to the woods, but were driven from that cover by a flank
movement, and then took to the field, trying to manufacture snowballs as
they ran.

"We've got 'em going--don't let up!" cried Dave, and, having stopped to
make a few more snowballs, he pushed on, with Roger and half a dozen
others beside him. Phil carried the flag, and all made for where the
enemy had its flag of blue. Then came an exchange of snowballs at close
range, and poor Phil was hit in the face. He dropped the flag, and Dave
picked it up.

"Much hurt, Phil?" asked Roger, anxiously.

"I guess not," was the plucky reply. "Go on and wax 'em!" And then Phil
turned back for a moment to catch his breath.

At the edge of the field was a ridge, and back of this a deep hollow.
Sam decided to take a stand behind the ridge, and so directed his
followers.

"But look out for the holes," said one of the boys. "Some nasty ones
around here."

The battle soon waged as fiercely as ever. On came the Army of Red with
a fresh supply of ammunition, and snowballs flew in all directions. Poor
Sam was struck in the ear, and the carrier of the flag was hit in the
arm and in the mouth. Down went the flag, and before the carrier could
pick it up, three of the enemy pounced upon him, and while two held him,
the third captured the all-important trophy.

"Hurrah! We've got their flag! Now drive 'em along!" was the cry.

"We must get the flag back!" called out Sam. "Now then, all together!"
And again the battle went on.

"Now, for a final rush!" said Roger, after the blue flag had been taken
to the rear. "We are going to win! Come on!" And he led the way.

Near the top of the ridge, the Red and the Blue fought fiercely, for all
the boys were now thoroughly warmed up. Back and forth surged the long
lines, and for several minutes it looked as if the Blues might succeed
in driving the Reds back. Once Dave came close to losing the flag, and
only saved it by sending two of the enemy sprawling headlong in the
snow.

At last the Reds managed to reach the top of the ridge, and from that
point send down a fierce shower of snowballs. The Blues could not
withstand this fire, and broke and ran.

"Hurrah! the victory is ours!" yelled several of the Reds.

"Let us clinch it, and make 'em cry for mercy!" shouted one of the
victorious army, and forward he went, and nearly all of the others after
him.

"Be careful!" cried Dave. "There are a lot of holes around here!
Somebody may break a leg."

His voice was drowned by the shouts of those who had won, and over the
ridge and towards the hollow poured the victors and vanquished--the
latter trying to dodge the fresh shower of snowballs.

"It's all over--let up!" yelled one boy of the Army of Blue. "Let up,
can't you?"

"One last shower, fellows!" cried Roger. "Now then, all together!"

The snowballs were delivered, and then came a pause, as all realized
that the battle was at an end. Then, from the far end of the hollow,
came an unexpected yell:

"Help! help! I am down in a hole and can't get out! Help!"



CHAPTER XXII

IN WHICH THE SHOES COME BACK


"Somebody is in trouble!"

"Who is it?"

"Where is he?"

"It is Tom Hally!" cried Roger, mentioning one of the new boys at Oak
Hall. "He must have fallen into one of the holes near the big hollow."

"Come on and see what is the matter," said Dave, and dropping the flag,
he sped in the direction of the cries, and a dozen others followed.

When they reached the spot from which the cries for help had proceeded
they could see nothing of Tom Hally.

"He was here a minute ago--I saw him!" declared a student named Messmer.
"He must have gone down out of sight!"

"Be careful that somebody doesn't go down on top of him," cautioned
Roger.

He had hardly spoken when there came a cry from Messmer, and, looking in
his direction, the other boys were horrified to see him sink into the
snow up to his waist.

"Hi! hi! help me!" yelled Messmer. "Quick, something has me by the
foot!"

"Maybe it's Hally, at the bottom of the hole!" burst out Dave.

"Let us make a chain and haul him out," suggested Phil.

This suggestion was considered a good one, and in a twinkling a long
line was formed, the boys taking hold of each other's hands. Dave was at
one end of the line, and he approached Messmer with caution.

"Help me!" gasped Messmer. "Something is dragging me down!"

"Take hold of my hand," answered Dave. "Hold tight!"

Messmer did as requested, and then Dave gave the other boys the signal
to haul away.

"But be careful," he added. "Otherwise the line may break, and some more
of us will go in the hole."

The students hauled steadily and cautiously, and slowly but surely
Messmer came out of the snowy hole. As his feet came into view it was
seen that a pair of hands were clasped around one of his ankles.

"Tom Hally is there!" shouted Dave. "Be extra careful, or he may slip
back!"

He had hardly spoken when Messmer's foot came up with a jerk. The
unfortunate boy below had let go, being probably too exhausted to keep
hold.

"Oh, Dave, what shall we do?" gasped Roger. He stood next in the life
line.

"Make two lines!" cried Dave. "Here, you get hold of one of my feet, and
Messmer can get hold of the other. Now don't let go, whatever you do.
I'll go down after Hally."

"But the danger----" began Ben.

"We can't leave Hally to smother to death there, Ben. Now then, hold
tight," answered Dave.

The two lines were formed, each end boy holding tight to one of Dave's
ankles. Then Dave threw himself down in the snow and wormed his way to
the edge of the hole. Several feet below he saw one of Tom Hally's hands
sticking up, the fingers working convulsively. He made a clutch and got
a firm grip of the wrist.

"Haul away!" he called. "But be easy, or the edge of the hole may cave
in!"

Under Dave's directions the boys hauled away with care, and presently
poor Tom Hally came to the surface of the snow, and was dragged to a
safe spot. He was all but exhausted, and too weak to stand.

"Here, we'll carry you to the school!" cried Roger, and he and some
others made a "chair," and thus the unfortunate lad was carried to Oak
Hall, where he was placed in a rocking chair in front of a fire.

"I went down all of a sudden," he explained, when he could talk. "I
yelled for all I was worth, and I saw some of you running towards me.
Then I went out of sight, and the next I knew Messmer's feet were on my
head. I caught hold of one foot and was dragged almost to the surface.
Then my strength gave out,--and I hardly know what I did after that."

"Dave pulled you out," answered Phil. "He saw one of your hands sticking
out of the snow, and he got us fellows to form two lines, with him on
the end."

"I am very thankful," said Tom Hally, and he gave Dave's hand a warm
squeeze. "I shall never go near that hollow again!"

"It's a dangerous place in the winter time," said Roger. "We should have
known better than to have retreated in that direction."

"Well, the Army of the Red won!" cried one of the students. "Say, wasn't
it a dandy battle!"

"It certainly was!" answered several others.

Doctor Clay was much alarmed to learn that Hally and Messmer had gone
down in a hole in the snow, and he came to see how the former was
getting along. Then he praised Dave and his chums for their bravery in
effecting a rescue.

In the past Hally, who was a rather silent student, had had little to
say to the other boys, but now he spoke to Dave, and asked him quite a
number of questions concerning himself and the other occupants of
dormitories Nos. 11 and 12.

"I'd like to be in with your bunch," said he, wistfully. "I don't like
our crowd very well."

"Where are you?" asked Dave.

"In No. 13--with Nat Poole and his crowd."

"They aren't very much of Nat's crowd any more, are they?"

"Oh, several boys still stick to him. But he makes me sick."

"Well, I am sorry, Hally, but our rooms are filled up," said Dave.

"Poole is down on you, isn't he?"

"Yes."

"He told me you and he had had a lot of trouble."

"So we have--but I claim it was mostly Nat's fault. He does some pretty
mean things."

"So he does, for a fact," and Tom Hally nodded earnestly. "He is down on
Maurice Hamilton too, isn't he?"

"Yes, but Shadow never did him any harm. It's just Nat's mean
disposition," returned Dave; and there the conversation had to come to
an end.

But that talk, coupled with the fact that Dave and his chums had so
bravely gone to Tom Hally's rescue, produced an unexpected result. Two
days later, when the occupants of dormitories Nos. 11 and 12 got up,
they were surprised to find, just inside of one of the doors, a big
pasteboard box, securely tied with a heavy cord.

"Why, what's this?" asked Phil, who was the first to see the box.

"Must be a Christmas box!" cried Dave. "And yet it is rather early in
the season for that."

"Is it addressed to anybody?" questioned Ben.

"Nothing on it," announced Roger, after an inspection. "Maybe the box
was placed in this room by mistake."

"Let us open it and see what is inside," suggested Polly Vane.

"I second that motion," added Luke. "Hope it's got some nice Christmas
pies in it."

"Maybe it's a trick," cautioned Shadow. "Go slow on opening it."

The boys pushed the box to the center of the dormitory with care, and
then Roger cut the cord with his pocketknife.

"You open it," said Phil to Dave.

"I am not afraid," answered Dave, and took off the cover.

And then what a shout went up!

"Our shoes, and boots, and slippers!"

"Where in the world did this come from!"

"Say, I thought my shoes were gone for good!"

"Are they all here?"

"I guess so. Let us sort 'em out and see."

Hastily the box was turned over, and the contents dumped on the floor.
Then began a general sorting out, lasting for several minutes.

"One of my gym. shoes is missing," announced Phil.

"Perhaps one of the other fellows has it," suggested Dave, and the
shipowner's son started a fresh search. But it was of no avail. Every
shoe, slipper, and boot that had been taken had been returned excepting
one of Phil's foot coverings.

"Well, I don't care much," said Phil. "These shoes were about worn out,
anyway."

"Where do you suppose this box came from?" asked Ben, and then he gazed
curiously at Shadow, and the others did the same.

"I--I suppose you think--that is, you imagine I--er--I had something to
do with this," stammered the boy who had on several occasions walked in
his sleep.

"Do you know anything about it, Shadow?" asked Dave.

"Not the first thing!"

"Did you dream of anything last night?"

"Yes, I dreamed about a--er--a----" stammered the sleep-walker.
"I--er----Oh, it wasn't about shoes, or anything like that."

"Well, what was it?" demanded Roger, sternly.

"It was about a party, if you must know. I dreamt I took a girl, and we
had a nice time dancing and playing games. There weren't any shoes in
it," and poor Shadow got redder than ever.

Dave looked the box over with care. It was a common pasteboard box, with
nothing on it in the way of writing or advertising.

"This certainly is a mystery," he said, slowly. "First the shoes
disappear, and now they come back. I give it up."

"Somebody has been playing a trick on us!" declared Roger. "The question
is, who?"

"I don't know of anybody who would do such a thing, excepting it was Nat
Poole," declared Ben.

"Well, there is no use of taxing Nat with it," declared Dave. "For he
would deny it point-blank, unless you could prove it against him."

The boys talked the affair over until it was time to go down to
breakfast, but they could reach no conclusion regarding the mystery.

"Maybe it will never be explained," said Buster.

"Well, even so, I am glad to get my shoes and slippers back," lisped
Polly Vane.

A few days after the restoration of the foot coverings there came a thaw
and then a sudden cold snap. Ice began to form on the river, and soon
it was thick enough for skating, much to the joy of the students, for
nearly all of them loved to skate. Some of the boys had ice-boats, and
these were also brought out for use.

"I understand that Rockville is going to put out a strong ice-hockey
team this winter," said Roger to Dave one day. "They are going to
challenge us, too."

"Well, we'll have to make up a team to beat 'em," answered Dave.

"That won't be so easy," declared another student. "They have some great
skaters and hockey players at the military academy this season. They've
got one player who is a star."

"Who is that?"

"Will Mallory. He came from down East, and he is the slickest ice-hockey
player you ever set eyes on."

"Well, if they challenge us we'll do our best," declared Dave, and some
others said the same.

The next day, after school, Dave had occasion to go to Oakdale on an
errand. Roger was going along, but at the last minute had to stay
behind, so Dave went alone.

He had scarcely passed out of the school grounds when he noticed that he
was being followed. A tall, thin man had stepped from behind some oak
trees, and was coming after him.

"I wonder what that chap was doing around the school?" the youth asked
himself.

He walked along rapidly, and the man did the same. Then Dave slackened
his pace, and the follower did likewise.

"He doesn't want to catch up to me, that's sure," thought the youth.
"Maybe he is afraid I'll recognize him. Wonder who he is?"

He turned and looked back. But the man had his overcoat pulled up and
his soft hat pulled far down, and Dave could see little of his face.

"This is a mystery," mused Dave. "I am going to speak to him," and he
stopped short and waited for the mysterious individual to come up.



CHAPTER XXIII

HOOKER MONTGOMERY'S STRANGE REQUEST


The stranger approached slowly, as if hoping Dave would go on before he
came up. Once he looked towards the fields on either side of the road,
as if thinking to turn off. But no side road was at hand, so he had to
either come on or turn back.

"Why, it is Doctor Montgomery!" said the lad to himself, as he
recognized the man. Then, as he got still closer, Dave saw that the
so-styled doctor looked shabby and dissipated. His nose was exceedingly
red, as if he had been drinking, and his overcoat was much worn and so
were his shoes.

"How do you do?" he said, somewhat gruffly, as he came up to where Dave
was standing.

"How are you?" returned Dave, coldly, and stepped aside, as if to let
the doctor pass. But instead of doing this the traveling physician came
to a somewhat unsteady halt.

"Your name is Dave Porter, isn't it?" he queried, trying hard to steady
a voice that liquor had rendered nervous.

"It is."

"I guess you know me, Doctor Montgomery."

"Yes."

"Going to Oakdale?"

"I am."

"So am I. If you don't mind I'll walk with you. I want to talk to you."

"What do you wish?" demanded Dave. The road was rather a lonely one, and
he did not fancy the doctor for a companion.

"I've been wanting to see you for some time, Porter," answered Hooker
Montgomery, hesitatingly, as if not knowing how to begin. "Fact is, I
went up to the school hoping to meet you."

"Why didn't you call for me if you wanted to see me?"

"Well--er--the fact is, Doctor Clay and I are not on good terms, that's
why. To tell you the truth, I once sold some of my medicines to some of
his hired help, and he didn't like it. He thinks my medicines are
not--er--reliable. But they are, sir, they are--more reliable than those
of most physicians!" And Hooker Montgomery tried to draw himself up and
look dignified. But, to Dave, the effort was a failure. He could read
the fellow thoroughly, and knew him to be what is commonly called a
fakir, pure and simple.

"What did you want of me?" asked Dave, as they walked on in the
direction of Oakdale.

"I wished to see you on an important business matter."

"Business? What business?"

"I will come to that presently, Porter. But it is important, very
important, I can assure you. I was going to ask you to call at a certain
place in Rockville and see me about it."

"What place?"

"A boarding-house at which I am stopping. It is a very nice place,
located on the river, and kept by a lady named Dunn--Mrs. Margaret
Dunn."

At once Dave remembered the letter picked up on Bush Island--the letter
written by Doctor Montgomery, and asking Jasniff to meet him at Dunn's
on the river. In that communication the doctor had said he would aid
Jasniff all he could, provided the Rockville student would assist him in
some transaction involving little risk--which would mean that there must
be something "shady" about it.

"Can't you explain the business to me without my going to Rockville?" he
asked.

"I cannot. I have some things at the boarding-house--some letters and
documents--I wish to show you. Day after to-morrow is Saturday. Can't
you come to Rockville in the afternoon and see me? I can assure you,
sir, it is very important, very important indeed!" And Doctor
Montgomery gave Dave a mysterious look.

"Do the letters and documents concern me personally?"

"They concern you, and--shall I tell you? Yes, I will! They concern you
and your sister. But don't ask me to say more now. I will explain all
when you come to see me."

Dave began to think rapidly. This fellow was friendly with Jasniff and
probably with Merwell also. Once Merwell had caused Laura Porter much
annoyance by holding certain letters she had written. Was it possible
Merwell still had some of her letters, and was he planning to make more
trouble because of them?

"I don't understand this business, Doctor Montgomery," he said, frankly.
"If it was so important why didn't you write to me, or telephone?"

"I will explain. This is important to you and your sister. It would hurt
your reputation to make anything public. I want to do things on the
quiet, see? Acting entirely in your interests, Porter. You will
understand it all when you call and--er--see the letters and documents,
and the photographs, especially the photographs."

"All right then--I'll come--if I can get off."

"About three o'clock in the afternoon?"

"Between three and four."

"Very good, sir, very good indeed. You will not regret coming, I can
assure you, sir. But one thing more. Let me caution you to say nothing
to your school friends of this visit. I wish you to come entirely
alone."

"Why alone?" demanded Dave, suspiciously.

"Because I wish to protect myself as well as you and your sister. I want
no witnesses to our meeting, as I wish to avoid all trouble. I shall be
alone, and I wish you to be alone also."

"This is a mighty strange proceeding."

"Possibly, Porter. But you will understand everything when you call. You
need not be afraid. At present I am the only boarder Mrs. Dunn has, and
she is old and somewhat deaf. The house is on the river road, the fourth
place above the sawmill. It is painted light yellow. You can't miss it."

"And you won't tell me any more at present?"

"I cannot. But on Saturday afternoon, if you will come to me alone, you
shall know all."

"Very well."

"And one thing more, Porter. I am going to do you and your family a
great favor."

"Well?"

"I am a poor man. I could have made money out of my remedies had I
charged as some physicians do, but instead I wished to aid humanity, and
so sold my priceless medicines for a song. Yes, I am poor, sir, and I
need money. If I aid you----" Hooker Montgomery paused suggestively.

"If you really do me a favor, you shall be well paid for it, Doctor
Montgomery," replied Dave, promptly.

"You mean that?" And now the doctor's voice took on a sudden note of
keen interest.

"I do."

"They tell me your folks are rich."

"We are well off."

"Ah, ahem! Very good! Then if I do a very great favor for you probably
you will--er--appreciate it."

"Yes, sir."

"Then it is settled, Porter, and I shall look for you about three
o'clock on Saturday sure. And you are to come entirely alone."

"I understand. But, listen, Doctor Montgomery," went on Dave, and his
voice grew stern. "There is to be no underhanded work in this. If there
is--well, you'll get the worst of it."

"Oh, no; nothing of that sort, I can assure you, sir! You have
absolutely nothing to fear," answered the man hurriedly, but his eyes
were rather shifty as he spoke.

"All right, I'll be on hand,--if I can get away."

They had now gained a crossroads, and here the doctor halted. He looked
at Dave as if on the point of speaking again, then simply jerked his
head in an attempted dignified fashion, and hurried off, around a bend
and out of sight.

It would be hard to analyze Dave's feelings as he proceeded on his
errand to Oakdale. He wondered if Doctor Montgomery was acting on his
own account or for Merwell and Jasniff, and he also wondered what the
mysterious letters and documents and photographs could be. Was it
possible that Laura had once given her photograph to Merwell, or had it
taken when in that rascal's company? If the latter was true, Merwell
would know that the Porters would give a good deal to get the picture,
and have the negative destroyed.

"Perhaps it is only a scheme to get me to Rockville and to some place
where Jasniff and Merwell can lay hands on me," he mused. "They'd like
nothing better than to black my eyes and pound me to a jelly. If I go
there alone I'll have to keep my eyes wide open."

Then Dave remembered what the doctor had said about being a poor man and
needing money. Perhaps the fellow thought to "bleed him," not only in
the interest of Jasniff and Merwell, but also for himself.

"He'll not get a cent out of me unless he has something of real value to
turn over to me," Dave decided. "If it's only a blackmailing scheme,
he'll find me as sharp as himself." He could make nothing of the fact
that the doctor had at first tried to avoid him.

He was half tempted to tell Roger and Phil about the affair, but at last
decided to see it through alone. If there really was something in it
about private letters and photographs he would prefer that his chums
know nothing of it.

All that evening and throughout Friday, Dave was very thoughtful. His
chums noticed it, and Roger and Phil both asked what was wrong.

"Nothing wrong," he answered, with a faint smile.

"You've got something on your mind, Dave," went on the senator's son.
"Struck a new girl, or has Jessie struck a new fellow?"

"Not as bad as that, Roger. I was just wondering if I should buy a red
necktie or a blue one."

"Rats! It's a girl, I'll wager a new hat."

"Or else Dave is thinking out some new essay with which to capture a
prize," suggested Phil.

"Don't you worry about me," answered Dave. "Come on out and have a
skate," and thus the subject was dismissed, for the time being.

The Leming River was in fine condition for skating, and fully two score
of students were out, some cutting fancy figures, and a few racing.
Among the number was Nat Poole, clad in a new crimson sweater and
wearing a brand new pair of long hockey skates.

"Nat is training for hockey," said Roger. "He says he is going to
organize a team."

"Well, we'll organize one, too," answered Dave. "I always did like field
hockey, and I know I'd like it on the ice."

"Come on, Dave!" shouted Ben, circling up on his skates, and doing a
"spread eagle."

"Come on where?"

"Get into the race! We want you, and Phil, and Roger, too."

"What race is that?"

"Mr. Dodsworth wants all the big boys in it. It's a race up the river
for a mile, and back to the boathouse. The winner gets a silver
lead-pencil sharpener."

"All right, I'm in that!" cried the shipowner's son. "I need a
sharpener."

"So do I," added Roger. "How about it, Dave?"

"I'll go in, although my skates are not as sharp as they might be."

A crowd had gathered to see the race, and in a few minutes the
contestants were lined up by the gymnastic teacher. The starters
numbered fourteen, and included Nat Poole, Dave, Roger, Phil, Shadow,
Ben, and Plum.

"All ready?" asked Mr. Dodsworth. "Then go!" And away went the long
line, the skates flashing brightly in the clear sunlight, and the
onlookers cheering, and uttering words of encouragement to their
favorites.



CHAPTER XXIV

A RACE ON SKATES


"Go it, everybody!"

"May the best skater win!"

"Don't try to skate too fast, Ben. Remember, the race is two miles
long!"

"Hello, there goes one fellow down!"

"It's Luke Watson. He has lost his skate."

The last report was correct, and as the skate could not be adjusted
without the loss of some time, Luke gave up, and watched the others.

Nat Poole was exceedingly anxious to win the race, and he had been
partly instrumental in getting up the contest. His new skates were of
the best, and it must be admitted that Nat was no mean skater.

Phil had good skates and so had Roger. Dave's skates were only fair, and
were very much in need of sharpening.

Away went Nat at top speed, soon drawing half a dozen yards ahead of his
competitors. Behind him came a student named Powers, and then followed
Ben, Roger, Phil, Dave, and the others.

"I don't think I can win!" sang out Dave to his chums. "These skates
slip too much. But I'll do my best."

"Come on, you slow-coaches!" cried Ben, merrily, and then he shot
forward until he was abreast of Nat. Seeing this, the money-lender's son
put on an extra burst of speed, and went ahead again.

"Say, Nat Poole is certainly skating well!" cried one of the onlookers.
"He'll make a record if he keeps it up."

"I don't think he can keep it up," answered another.

In a very few minutes the turning point was gained, and Nat made a sharp
curve and started back. The turn brought him directly in front of Dave.

"Clear the track!" he roared. "Clear the track, I say!"

"Clear the track yourself!" answered Dave. Nevertheless, as Nat came
closer, he swerved a little to one side so that the money-lender's son
might pass. As Nat swept on he swung his arms freely, and one fist took
Dave in the side.

"Foul! foul!" cried several who saw the move.

"It was his own fault!" Nat retorted. "I told him to get out of the
way!" And off he started for the finishing line.

Dave said nothing, but kept on, reaching the turning point a few
seconds later. Phil and Roger were just ahead of him, and Plum was
beside him.

"Go on and win!" he shouted. "I can't keep up with these skates!"

"Here goes for a finish!" yelled Phil, and darted ahead, with Roger at
his heels. Then Plum flashed forward, and soon the three were side by
side, with Dave about three yards to the rear, followed by Powers.

Coming down the homestretch, Nat Poole thought he had it all to himself.
He was glad of it, for he had set such a fast pace at the start that he
was becoming winded, and he had to fairly gasp for breath. He looked
over his shoulder, and as nobody was near he slackened his speed a
little.

"Keep it up, Nat!" yelled one of his supporters. "Go it, old man!"

"Morr and Lawrence are crawling up!"

"So is Plum!"

These last cries startled Nat, and he sought to strike out as he had at
the start. But his wind was now completely gone--and the finishing line
was still a quarter of a mile away.

"There goes Morr to the front!"

"Lawrence is after him, and so is Plum!"

"Here comes Basswood!"

"What's the matter with Porter? He is dropping behind."

"He said his skates were dull."

"Oh, that's only an excuse!" sneered one of the students who had been
put off of the football eleven that term.

"It's true," answered Tom Hally. "I saw the skates myself. Can't you see
how he slips when he strikes out?"

On and on went the skaters. Nat was still ahead, but now Roger and Phil
came up on one side, and Gus Plum on the other, while Ben came up close
in the rear. Behind Ben was Dave, determined to see the race out even if
he did not win.

With the finishing line but a hundred feet away, Phil, Roger, and Gus
Plum shot to the front. Then Ben followed. Nat Poole tried to keep up,
but could not. Then of a sudden Dave went ahead also.

"Nat is dropping behind!"

"He put on too much steam at the start!"

"There goes Porter ahead of him!"

"See, Morr, Lawrence, and Plum are even!"

"Yes, and there comes Ben Basswood up to them!"

"Here they come! Clear the way, everybody!"

With a rush the skaters came on. For one brief instant Roger was ahead,
but then the others put on a burst of speed, and over the line they
came, amid a great yelling and cheering.

"A tie between Morr, Plum, and Lawrence!"

"And Basswood and Porter tied for second place!"

"Nat Poole wasn't in it, after all."

"My skate got loose," grumbled Nat, as he came up slowly. "If it hadn't
been for that I would have won."

"That's an old excuse, Nat!" shouted a boy in the rear of the crowd.
"Invent something new!" And a laugh went up, that angered the
money-lender's son greatly. He took his defeat bitterly, and lost no
time in leaving the ice and disappearing from view.

"A fine race!" declared Mr. Dodsworth, "But I don't know how I am to
award the prize."

"Cut it in three parts," suggested Buster.

"Say, that puts me in mind of a story," came from Shadow. "An old
Irishman was dying and wanted to make his will. 'How do ye want to lave
yer money, Pat' asked his friend. 'Sure,' says Pat; 'I want to lave it
all to me woif an' me four childer, equal loike, so ivery wan gits a
quarter!'"

"We might have another race," suggested Mr. Dodsworth. "That is, if you
are not too tired--I mean, of course, a race between those who were
tied."

"Oh, let us cut sticks for it," suggested Phil.

"That will suit me," said Plum.

"Me, too," said the senator's son. "I am too tired to race again."

So the three lads drew sticks for the prize, and Gus Plum won.

"Hello! I'm in luck!" cried Gus, and looked much pleased. The silver
lead-pencil sharpener was passed over to him, and he thanked the
gymnastic instructor warmly for it.

"I am glad he got it, since it pleases him," said Phil to Roger, and the
senator's son nodded in agreement.

The only boy who felt sore over the race was Nat Poole, and he continued
to declare that he would have won had his skate not come loose.

"But just wait," he said, to some of the students. "I'll show 'em what I
can do when we get to playing hockey." And that very night he started in
to organize an ice-hockey team. He did not consult Mr. Dodsworth or
Andrew Dale, fearing that they would not favor his selection of players.

"They have nothing to do with hockey," Nat explained to his friends.
"All they have to look after is baseball and football, and track
athletics. Doctor Clay didn't say a word about ice hockey, or field
hockey, either." This was true, the master of the Hall having probably
forgotten all about those sports. Nevertheless, it was understood by the
majority of the students that all games and contests held with parties
outside of Oak Hall were to come under the supervision of the gymnastic
instructor and Andrew Dale.

"What are you going to do with yourself to-morrow afternoon?" asked
Roger of Dave, on going to bed Friday.

"I have a little business to attend to in Rockville, Roger."

"Is that so? Want me to go along?"

This was a question Dave had dreaded to have asked, and he hardly knew
how to answer. He determined to be as frank as possible.

"No, Roger. I am sorry, but the party I am going to see asked me to come
alone."

"Oh, all right. I just thought I'd mention it."

"If it hadn't been for that I should like very much to have you and Phil
along," continued Dave, earnestly. "But I can't take anybody."

"Must be going to see a girl," and the senator's son looked at his chum
quizzically.

"No, it is not a girl. Now please don't ask me any more questions."

"Just as you say, Dave," answered Roger, and then began to get ready to
go to bed. He could not help but wonder what the business was, and why
Dave was so secretive about it.

In the morning Dave had to go through the same kind of a scene with
Phil. The shipowner's son was as much mystified as Roger, and after
Dave had departed, the pair walked into the warm gymnasium to talk the
matter over.

"Dave has something on his mind," said Roger. "I noticed it yesterday."

"So did I, Roger. What is it, do you suppose?"

"I don't know, excepting it may be about Merwell and Jasniff. He said it
wasn't about those girls."

"Do you think he is going to meet Merwell and Jasniff in Rockville?"

"Possibly. I can't think of anything else."

"If Dave got into trouble, I'd like to be on hand to help him."

"So would I. But I guess Dave knows how to take care of himself." And
then the subject was dropped, and the two students began to exercise
with some Indian clubs.

In the meantime, Dave was on his way to Rockville. As the road was clear
of snow he used his bicycle, and soon covered the distance to the town.
He passed along the river road to the sawmill, and then kept his eyes
open for Mrs. Dunn's house.

"This must be the place," he said to himself, as he reached a
dilapidated residence, located in what had once been a fine flower
garden, but which was now a tangle of rank bushes and weeds. The gate
was off, and leaping from his wheel, he trundled his bicycle along the
choked-up garden path to the front piazza. Then leaving his wheel
against a tree, he mounted the steps and rang the old-fashioned turn
bell.

Dave had approached the house boldly, thinking that possibly somebody
might be watching him from behind the blinds of the windows, all of
which were closed. Yet he was on his guard, and in the lining of his
overcoat he carried a stout stick, with which to defend himself should
such a course be necessary.

No one answered his first summons, and he rang the rusty bell a second
time. Then the front door was opened, and Doctor Montgomery showed
himself.

"Ah, how do you do!" he said, with a bland smile. "Walk right in, Mr.
Porter. I see you are on time."

Dave hesitated for a moment, and then entered the broad hallway of the
house. In front of him was a long flight of stairs leading to the second
floor, and on either side were doors leading to the parlor and to a
dining-room.

"Mrs. Dunn isn't feeling very well, so I had to come to the door
myself," explained Hooker Montgomery, smoothly. "She used to take some
drug-store medicine and it did her no good. Now she is taking my
remedies, and she will soon be herself." He said this so naturally that
Dave was thrown a little off his guard. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Dunn
was not at home, having gone away to visit a sister in Albany. It was
because of her absence that the tricky doctor had invited Dave to come
to the house. Had she been at home his schemes would have necessitated
meeting Dave somewhere else.

"Doctor, I haven't much time to spare, so I hope you will get at the
bottom of what you want without delay," said Dave, after the door had
been closed and locked by the physician. It was so dark in the hall he
could hardly see.

"I'll not take much of your time, sir,--not over half an hour at the
most," was the reply from Hooker Montgomery. "But all of the documents
and letters and photographs are in my room, on the second floor. Kindly
come up there and look at them." And the man started up the stairs. Dave
hesitated for a moment, wondering if it would be best to go up, and then
followed.



CHAPTER XXV

IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY


At the head of the stairs the doctor paused, and then opened a door
leading to a back bedroom. The apartment had two windows, but the blinds
were closed, what little light there was coming in through the
turned-down slats.

"I have to shut off a good deal of light on account of my eyes,"
explained the doctor, as he saw Dave glance at the blinds. "My eyes are
very weak, and I am told that the sunlight is very bad for them."

"I am sorry to hear that," answered Dave.

He hardly knew what to say or how to act. His reception had not been
what he had anticipated, and he could not imagine what was coming next.

"Here are some of the documents I wish you to look over first--and then
we'll talk business," said Hooker Montgomery, pointing to a mass of
legal-looking papers lying on the bed. "You can take them to the window
if you wish," and he sank down in a rocking-chair, as if tired out, and
placed both hands over his eyes.

Curious to know what the documents might contain of importance to him,
Dave took some of them up and stepped close to one of the windows. The
writing was poor, and it was hard to make out what had been written.

His face was bent closely over one of the pages when of a sudden he felt
some unusual movement behind him. He started to turn, but before he
could do so, a big bag was thrown over his head and arms, and tied
around his waist. At the same instant he was tackled around the legs,
and his ankles were tied together.

Of course he struggled, and for several minutes his would-be captors had
all they could do to hold him. But he had been taken so completely off
his guard that resistance proved useless. Soon a rope was passed around
the bag and over his arms, and further struggling was out of the
question.

"Who are you?" he demanded, in a muffled tone, for inside of the bag it
was all he could do to breathe. The covering was so heavy he could not
see a thing.

No answer was vouchsafed to his question. He was backed up against the
bed, and made to sit down, and then he heard his captors leave the room,
locking the door after them.

Dave was both chagrined and angry--chagrined to think that he had been
taken in so easily, and angry to think that he was a prisoner and at
his captors' mercy.

"This must be the work of Merwell and Jasniff," he thought. "They simply
hired the doctor to get me here. There is nothing in the story of
documents, letters, and photographs. What a fool I was to walk into the
trap!"

And then he wondered when his captors would return, and what they
proposed to do with him.

For fully a quarter of an hour Dave waited, straining his ears to catch
every sound. From below came a murmur of voices, but what was said he
could not learn. Once he thought he recognized Jasniff's rough tones,
but he was not sure.

Tired of sitting on the edge of the bed, Dave got up and tried to move
around. Then he made the discovery that his ankles were tied to a rope
that was secured to the bed, and that the latter was stationary.

"I'm a prisoner, and no mistake," he reasoned, grimly. "I wonder how
long they intend to keep me here?"

The room was cold, and he was glad that he had his overcoat on. His cap
had fallen off inside the bag, but his thick hair and the bag prevented
his catching cold in the head.

"Guess I'll wake them up a bit," he thought, and so commenced to stamp
on the floor. Then he stamped louder, until he felt he must be knocking
the plaster from the ceiling below. He was in the midst of the stamping
when the door of the room was thrown open and somebody came in.

"Stop that noise, or I'll knock you down!" said a sharp voice, and at
the same instant a strong hand was placed on his shoulder, and he was
given a vigorous shake.

Dave was surprised, for the voice was not that of Doctor Montgomery,
neither did it belong to Merwell nor Jasniff. Yet, in some way, the
voice sounded familiar.

"What are you going to do with me?" demanded Dave, as he stopped his
stamping.

"You'll find that out later, Porter. Now keep quiet,--if you know when
you are well off."

"I want to know now. You have no right to treat me in this fashion. I'll
have you and Doctor Montgomery put in jail for it."

"You shut up!" cried the stranger, and he gave Dave a shove that sent
him back on the bed. "You make any more noise and I'll quiet you in a
way you won't like!" And then the fellow left the room again, and the
door was locked as before.

Feeling that he might be attacked and seriously injured if he kept up
the noise, Dave remained quiet, and thus the remainder of the afternoon
passed. As night came on the room became dark and extra cold, and he
shivered in spite of himself.

"If they leave me here all night I'll be frozen stiff," he thought,
grimly. "Oh, why didn't I tell Roger and Phil where I was going! They
might come to the rescue!"

After another wait Dave heard more talking below, and then three persons
came upstairs and into the room.

"Now, you keep real quiet and you won't get hurt," said the person who
had spoken before. "If you start to raise a row--well, you'll wish you
hadn't, that's all."

"What are you going to do?"

"Keep quiet, and you'll find out before very long."

"Do you know this is a very high-handed proceeding?"

"Shut up!"

The tone was extra sharp, and Dave received a rough shake of the
shoulder. Not knowing but what he might be knocked down, he relapsed
into silence.

Presently his feet were unfastened, and he was led out of the room and
down the stairs. Then the party made its way to the rear of the house,
and went outside.

"Now we are going to give you a little sleigh-ride for your health,"
said the person who had spoken before.

As there was no snow on the ground Dave felt this must mean a ride on
the river, and he was not mistaken. A horse and a low box-sleigh were
at hand, and into the turnout Dave was lifted, the fellow who had spoken
getting on one side of him and somebody else on the other. Then still
another party took up the reins, and started to drive off, over the ice,
which was just thick enough to bear the weight of such an outfit.

Although Dave's arms were tied to his sides, he could move his hands a
little, and he managed to get hold of a good-sized pin, which had been
fastened to a corner of his overcoat. As the sleigh moved over the
smooth surface of the river he resolved to make an effort to learn the
identity of the silent fellow beside him, and so moved the pin around,
and shoved it towards the individual as far as possible.

"Ouch!" came the sudden exclamation, as the point of the pin reached its
mark, and the fellow leaped partly to his feet. "What in thunder----"
And then the speaker broke off short.

"I know you, Link Merwell!" cried Dave. "I thought all along it was
you."

"I'm not Merwell!" growled the fellow, in a deep voice. "Don't you dare
to stick me with that pin again, or I'll mash you!" And then he refused
to say any more. But he gave Dave's arm such a pinch that it was black
and blue for a long time afterwards.

With the bag over his head, Dave could not hear very well, yet he felt
tolerably certain that the fellow was Link Merwell, and if this was so,
then most likely the driver of the sleigh was Nick Jasniff. But who the
third party could be was still a mystery.

"Some old enemy I have forgotten," reasoned the captive. And then he
wondered where he was being taken, and for what purpose.

After a ride of half an hour the sleigh came to a halt, and Dave was
ordered to get out. Then he was marched up a steep bank and up some
steps. A door was opened, and all of the party entered a building of
some sort. He was placed in a room and tied fast to a ring fastened in
the floor.

"Now you behave yourself and you'll soon be freed and treated to a hot
supper," said the man who appeared to be the spokesman for the crowd.
"But if you make a row you'll not be freed, and you'll not get a
mouthful."

Then Dave was left alone once more, and all three of his captors
apparently left the building.

The room was warm, and for this the captive was grateful. A chair had
been placed for him to sit upon, so he was fairly comfortable. An hour
passed and during that time all was silent. Then somebody came in and
started to release his arms and take the bag from his head.

It was a man, tall and muscular, and Dave felt sure he had seen him
before, but where he could not remember. The man wore a mask, made of a
handkerchief with holes cut in it for his eyes.

"Sorry I can't let you go just yet," he said. "But here is something to
eat and to drink." And he pointed to a table, upon which rested a lamp,
for it was now late in the evening and dark. On the table was a cup of
hot tea and several cheese sandwiches and a small baker's pie.

"Well, I'm hungry, that's certain," said Dave, grimly. "And if I've got
to stay here I might as well eat."

"That's the sensible way to talk," answered the man.

"When are you going to let me go?"

"I can't say yet--most likely in the morning."

"Why did you bring me here?"

"Just for fun."

"You've taken a lot of trouble for your fun," said Dave. He did not
believe the man's statement.

"Eat your supper, Porter," growled the man, and sank down on a chair
close to the door. "No funny work now, mind you!" And he brandished the
very stick Dave had carried for self-protection.

There was no help for it, and sitting down to the table Dave began to
eat and to drink. The sandwiches were fresh, and so was the pie, and as
the ride in the keen air had given him an appetite, he disposed of them
quickly. The tea tasted rather bitter, but he was dry and speedily
drained the cup. The man watched him drink, with evident satisfaction.

"Now you had better lie down and try and get a little rest," said the
fellow of the mask. "When I want you I'll call you." And so speaking he
left the room, locking the door after him.

As soon as the man was gone Dave tried to loosen the rope that bound his
feet together. It was a hard task and took some time, and bending over
seemed to make his head swim. When he straightened up his head grew even
more dizzy, and almost before he knew it he was staggering around.

"What a queer sensation!" was his thought. "What in the world is the
matter with me?" And then like a flash came the answer. "That tea! It
must have been drugged!"

The captive was right in his surmise. The tea had been drugged, and soon
poor Dave felt so dizzy he had to rest on the bed. He tried several
times to rouse up, and then his senses forsook him completely.

Dave had been unconscious for about a quarter of an hour when the man
came in, looked at him, and shook him. Then he went below.

"Well, we've got him," he said to the others. "He is practically dead to
the world."

"Good!" was the answer. "Better bring him down right away. We want to
get this job over."



CHAPTER XXVI

A DASH FOR LIBERTY


When Dave regained his senses he found himself in the tonneau of a big
automobile that was speeding swiftly over a dark country road. On either
side of him sat a person who was masked, and in front were two persons
whose faces he could not see. His hands were tied behind him, and his
ankles were made fast to the foot-rest in the bottom of the tonneau.

He wondered where he was being taken, but knew it would be useless to
ask any questions. How long he had been unconscious he did not know, but
felt it must have been a considerable time, for it was now night, and
whenever they passed a farmhouse it was without lights, showing the
occupants had gone to bed.

Dave fully realized that he was in a position of peril. His enemies had
treated him in an outrageous fashion, and what they proposed to do next
there was no telling. He felt that he must escape if it could possibly
be accomplished.

He had roused up a little, but now deemed it best to let the others
think he was still unconscious. Accordingly, he uttered a deep sigh, and
then slipped further down on the seat, and let his head fall forward on
his breast.

"Pretty well dosed," he heard one of the party murmur, and now he was
sure he recognized Nick Jasniff's voice.

"Say, Shime, I hope you didn't give him too much of the drug," said
another of the party, and Dave felt certain it was Link Merwell who was
speaking. "If he shouldn't recover----"

"Oh, he'll come around all right enough," growled the man called Shime.
He was running the automobile, and now Dave was able to place him as a
fellow who worked around a livery stable and garage in Rockville. Shime
was a drinking man, and his reputation was far from an enviable one.

"How much further have we to go?" asked Jasniff, after a few minutes of
silence.

"Not far," answered the driver of the automobile. "We'll take to the
side road now. Hold fast, it's pretty rough," and then the touring car
turned off the main highway and began bumping over the rocks and ruts of
a narrow wood road. The way was uphill, and the driver had to throw in
his second speed to gain the top of the rise. Then the car made a sharp
turn, and halted in front of a stone building.

"Is this the place?" asked Jasniff.

"Yes," answered Shime. "Wait till I light a lantern, and then you can
bring him in."

"I shall have to care for him when we are in the house," said the fourth
person of the party who had carried Dave off. It was Doctor Montgomery,
and his breath was thick from liquor.

Still thinking he might get a chance to escape if he made out that he
was unconscious, Dave hung limp in the automobile, and allowed his
captors to lift him out and place him on the ground. Then he was carried
into the stone building and placed on a bench.

"You certainly dosed him strongly," said Hooker Montgomery. "I had
better make an examination. Loosen up his hands and feet."

A little bit alarmed, Jasniff and Merwell set to work and released Dave
from his bonds. In the meantime Shime had lit a lantern, and placed it
on a rough table. Doctor Montgomery got out a medicine case, and began
to mix up a potion in a glass.

"This ought to bring him around," he said, in a thick, unsteady voice.

Dave did not dare to look around, but by the draught in the room he knew
that the door must have been left open, probably to give him more air.
He did not think the disreputable physician was in any condition to
administer his medicines, and he did not propose to swallow any if he
could avoid it.

"I must escape," he thought, and with a moan, as if in great pain, he
twisted around, and opened his eyes for an instant.

That instant was long enough for him to locate the doorway, and beyond
he made out a stretch of woodland, lit up by the lamps of the
automobile. Between him and the doorway stood Merwell and Jasniff, with
Shime and the doctor on the other side.

"Shall I hold his head, doctor?" asked Merwell. "Maybe he won't be able
to swallow if----"

Merwell got no further, for just then Dave leaped to his feet with an
agility that surprised even himself. Stiff though he was, he ran at
Merwell, hurling him flat. Then he bumped into Jasniff, who made a weak
attempt to stop him. The two swung around, and Jasniff was sent crashing
into the table, knocking over the lantern. Then Dave leaped for the
doorway.

"Stop him!"

"He must not get away!"

"Ouch! Don't step on me!" came from Link Merwell. He was on his back,
and Jasniff's foot had landed on his stomach.

The four rascals had been taken completely by surprise. As the lantern
fell it went out, and in his endeavor to get to the doorway, Shime
bumped into Jasniff. The doctor ran into the bench, and his glass of
medicine went splashing into Merwell's face, eliciting another protest
from that bully.

Dave did not care about what happened in the building. His one thought
was to get away, for he fully realized that in a hand-to-hand encounter
he would be no match for his four enemies.

Had he had time he might have jumped into the automobile, and started up
the machine. But he was afraid to risk this, and so ran down the wood
road a short distance, and then plunged into the bushes. He did not stop
there, but kept on, until he calculated that he was a full quarter of a
mile from the stone building.

"I don't think they can follow me to here, at least not in the
darkness," he told himself.

He stopped to rest and to consider what he had best do next. The effects
of the drug were now entirely gone, and he felt once more like himself.

"I ought to have the whole crowd locked up," he reasoned. "But it would
be the testimony of one against four, and they would most likely deny
everything."

He went on again, and presently came out on the main highway. As he did
this he saw the flash of some lamps in the distance. He crouched down
behind some bushes, and a minute later saw the automobile whizz by,
with his enemies in it.

"They are going back," he reasoned. "I suppose now I have gotten away
from them, Merwell and Jasniff will return to the academy as fast as
they can, and Shime and the doctor will return to Rockville; and they'll
all play the innocent."

As he walked on, Dave wondered what the plot against him was. He felt
convinced that carrying him off was only the beginning of it.

"Well, whatever it was, I nipped it in the bud," he thought. "Perhaps
some day I'll find out all about it,--some day when I can corner one or
another of that rascally bunch. I take it that Shime and Montgomery are
simply in the employ of Jasniff and Merwell. Both of them are hard
drinkers and willing to do almost anything to get a few dollars."

Not far down the highway Dave passed a signboard which told him that
Rockville was ten miles away.

"I can't walk ten miles," he thought. "I had better see if I can't get
accommodations at some farmhouse, and then drive over to the school
after breakfast."

With this idea in view he kept on, until he reached a spot where the
railroad crossed the highway. As he did this he saw a freight train
standing near a siding where a milk car was to be taken on.

"Does this train go to Oakdale?" he asked, of one of the hands.

"Yes, but it isn't a passenger train," was the reply.

"Can't you take me along?" questioned Dave. "I wish to get to Oakdale
very much, and without delay."

The train hand looked Dave over by the light of his lantern. He saw that
the youth was no tramp.

"All right, get in the caboose," he said. "But it will cost you a
smoke."

"I haven't any cigars, but you can buy yourself some," answered Dave,
and passed over a quarter of a dollar, which the train hand pocketed
with satisfaction.

Soon the train was under way, and in less than half an hour they reached
the siding at Oakdale, and there Dave jumped off. By his watch the lad
saw that it was three o'clock Sunday morning. Without delay he struck
off on foot for the school.

As he hurried on he wondered what he had best do on arriving at Oak
Hall. Should he rouse up Doctor Clay and tell the master the whole
story, or would it be better to say nothing and await developments?

"If I say anything there will be a great hullabaloo, but it won't prove
anything," he reasoned. "Merwell and Jasniff will deny everything, and
so will Shime, and that fake doctor might take it into his head to sue
me for slander. No, I'll fight my own battles, and see if I can't corner
them on my own hook. But I'll tell Phil and Roger."

Arriving at the school grounds, Dave wondered how he was going to get in
without being observed. He tried all the doors, to find each locked.

"If I ring the bell I'll have to explain matters," he said to himself.
"I'll see if I can't rouse up some of the fellows."

He walked around to the window of No. 11, and threw several handsful of
gravel up against the glass. At first there was no response, but
presently the window was raised, and Roger's head appeared.

"Is that you, Dave?" asked the senator's son, in a low voice.

"Yes, Roger. Will you slip down and let me in."

"Sure thing. Will the side door do?"

"Yes."

No more was said, and the window was closed. Dave hurried to the door
mentioned, and a moment later Roger opened it, and he entered. Then both
hurried upstairs, making as little noise as possible.

"What kept you so long?" asked the senator's son, while Dave was
undressing.

"I'll tell you and Phil in the morning," was Dave's reply. "I've got a
yarn to spin you will hardly believe." And then he went to bed. But it
was a long time before he was able to drop asleep, and then his dreams
were little short of a nightmare.

It was not until Sunday afternoon that Dave got a chance to tell his two
chums the particulars of what had occurred. They listened with keen
attention to all he said, and the face of each plainly expressed his
amazement.

"That's the worst ever!" was Roger's comment. "What were they going to
do with you, Dave?"

"I don't know."

"I believe it was some deep-laid plot," said Phil. "Your getting away
spoiled it all."

"For them, yes,--but not for me," answered Dave, with something of a
grin. "I don't know what I escaped, but I am mighty glad I got away."

"What about your bicycle?" asked the senator's son. "Aren't you going to
try to get that back?"

"Certainly,--and I am going to interview that Doctor Montgomery,
too,--if I can catch him. But I want you two to go along," answered
Dave.

He was glad to take it easy for the rest of the day. On Monday, after
school, the three boys went to Rockville on bicycles, Dave borrowing a
wheel belonging to Buster. They rode straight to the Dunn house, to
find it locked up tightly. In the yard was Dave's machine, standing
against the tree as he had left it.

"I guess the doctor has come and gone," said Dave, after trying all the
doors. "Most likely he'll make himself scarce for a while."

"Why not interview that fellow Shime?" suggested Phil.

"I will," answered Dave, and taking the extra wheel along, the three
students rode around to the Rockville livery stable and garage. Here
Dave asked the proprietor about Shime.

"He has gone," said the man, sourly. "Day before yesterday he took one
of my best autos for a joy ride. When he came back this morning I
discharged him. He took his things and got out--and I don't know where
he went to."

This was as much as the garage owner could tell, and with it Dave had to
be content. He and his chums turned away; and a little later set out on
the return to Oak Hall.



CHAPTER XXVII

A GAME OF ICE HOCKEY


"I reckon you scared them pretty thoroughly, Dave."

"I am glad of it if I did," answered Dave. "I hope I scared them so much
that they never bother me again."

Several days had passed, and in that time Dave had learned many things.
From Rockville had come the news that Doctor Montgomery had left rather
suddenly, without stating where he was going, and Dave had likewise
learned that Shime had not shown himself since his discharge by the
garage owner. And now from the military academy came word that Merwell
and Jasniff had obtained leave of absence for a week.

"They say Doctor Montgomery must have been getting ready to leave," said
Phil, who had been to Rockville. "He owes a board bill at the hotel as
well as at his boarding-house. Mrs. Dunn is back, and is very angry to
think the doctor got away during her absence."

"I suppose Merwell and Jasniff think the affair will blow over by the
time they return," said Roger. "Well, Dave, you can do as you please,
but if I were you I'd try to corner them."

"If I did that, Roger, they'd try to squirm out of it somehow. What I'd
like to do best of all would be to give Merwell and Jasniff a good
thrashing."

"Well, they deserve that, Dave."

"I believe they were going to place you in some kind of an awkward
position," came from Phil. "Maybe they were going to commit some crime
and try to fasten it on you."

"Well, whatever it was, they got left," declared Dave.

"By the way, did you see the notice Nat Poole posted up in the gym.?"
asked Roger, during a pause.

"No. What is it?"

"He has lost a watch-chain charm, and he offers a dollar reward for its
return."

"As if the fellows wouldn't return it without a reward, if it was
found!" exclaimed Phil. "That just shows Nat's natural meanness of
mind!"

"Nat is busy organizing his ice-hockey team," said Roger. "They are
going out to practice this afternoon."

"Which puts me in mind that we were going to organize a hockey team
also," returned Dave. "I guess the sooner we get at it the better."

The ice on the river was clear and smooth, ideal for hockey playing, and
that season ice hockey was taken up in earnest at both Oak Hall and
Rockville. Nat Poole had little difficulty in organizing a team, he
being the captain and playing rover. The others on his team were made up
of those who had played with him on the football eleven and some new
students at the Hall.

Dave had studied the play and the players with care, and he finally made
up a team as follows:

    _Goal_, Sam Day.
    _Point_, Dave Porter, _captain_.
    _Cover Point_, Phil Lawrence.
    _Center_, Roger Morr.
    _Rover_, Gus Plum.
    _Left Wing_, Maurice Hamilton.
    _Right Wing_, Ben Basswood.
    _Substitutes_: Tom Atwood, Luke Watson, and Henry Babcock.

"You have got to play as if you meant it, if you want to win any games,"
said Dave to his fellow-players, and so much in earnest did he become
that, between ice hockey and his studies, he completely forgot about the
adventure which had followed his visit to Doctor Montgomery.

Nat Poole could not help but boast of what his team could do, and when a
challenge came to Oak Hall from Rockville to play a game he wanted to
accept it without delay. But before he could do so, Mr. Dodsworth
interfered.

"We have two hockey teams in this school," said the instructor. "Your
seven, and that of which Dave Porter is captain. I think it would be no
more than fair that you play a game between you, and that the winner be
permitted to accept the Rockville challenge."

This did not suit Nat at all, as he wanted matters entirely his own way.
But nearly every boy in the school sided with Mr. Dodsworth, so at last
the money-lender's son had to agree to play the game with Dave's team,
and it was decided that this game should take place, weather permitting,
the following Saturday, and that the game with Rockville should come off
one week later.

"To hear Nat Poole talk you would think he had won the game already,"
said Roger, to the others on Dave's seven. "He makes me sick!"

"Speaking of having it won already, puts me in mind of a story," came
from Shadow. "A little girl went in the pantry and stayed quite a while.
When she came out she asked her mother: 'Ma, can I have a cruller?'
'Yes, my dear,' answered ma. Then she saw that the little girl wasn't
eating anything, so she asked: 'Why don't you take a cruller, Alice?'
'Oh,' says Alice; 'I had that when I first went to the pantry!'"

"Wow!" murmured Sam. "That joke came from the ark!"

"It was told to Pharaoh by Napoleon, when they were hunting for the
North Pole," added Plum.

"Well, I don't think it hits Nat Poole's case," was Sam's comment. "He
won't get any cruller in this game."

"Right you are!" cried Plum.

Plum was as anxious as anybody to defeat the money-lender's son. Since
the former bully had turned over a new leaf Nat was constantly saying
mean things about him, and it was only Gus's grim determination to "keep
the peace" that kept him from pitching into Nat "rough-shod." In keeping
his hands off Nat, Plum had a harder battle to fight than if he had
attacked the money-lender's son bodily.

It had to be admitted that, as the day for the contest between the two
Oak Hall sevens approached, Poole's team was in good shape. Nat had
drilled them with care, and had profited by the work of two of the
players who had been on another boarding-school seven the winter
previous. One of these players knew several sharp tricks, and it was
hoped that these tricks would help to defeat Dave's seven.

The game was to be played under the inter-scholastic rules of that year,
with two halves of twenty minutes each, and an intermission of ten
minutes. Mr. Dodsworth was the referee, and the accustomed goal umpires
and timekeepers were also selected. The "field" had already been marked
on the ice, and the goal nets set, so that everything was in readiness
for the match. Each player had the regulation ice-hockey stick, and wore
regulation hockey skates, well sharpened for the occasion.

"Well, we've got our work cut out for us," said Phil, as he came out for
practice.

"Beware of off-side plays," warned Dave. "Don't give Poole's crowd a
chance to claim off-play or fouls--and don't let them do anything unfair
without a protest."

Just before the play was to start Chip Macklin beckoned to Dave.

"Look out for Bolton," he whispered, as Dave skated up.

"Why do you say that, Chip?"

"I heard him and Nat whispering together. Bolton said their side must
win--he had a bet on it with somebody. Then Nat advised him to take
chances--which means that they may club you, or kick you with their
skates."

"We'll be on the lookout," answered Dave, and he immediately let the
others know what Poole and Bolton had in mind to do.

Amid a cheering for both sides, the puck was brought out and placed on
the ice, directly in the center of the field, and between the sticks of
two of the players. Then the whistle blew, and the contest commenced.

Back and forth over the smooth ice flew the rubber disc, first towards
one goal and then towards the other. Dave got it and carried it far down
the field, and then turned it over to Plum. Gus lost it to Poole, who
knocked it over to a player named Foss. It came dangerously close to
Dave's goal, but was sent spinning forward again by Sam, and then
followed a turning and twisting back and forth, in the midst of which
Nat Poole went flat on his back, and Phil went sprawling over him.

"Foul! foul!" yelled Nat, as he scrambled up. "You did that on purpose!"

"I did not!" answered Phil, with flashing eyes. "I guess you fell on
purpose!"

"There was no foul!" decided Mr. Dodsworth. "It was simply an accident
all around." And then the play was resumed.

At the end of eight minutes of play Dave's team rushed the puck forward
once more. Nat's team tried its best to send the disc back, but lost it
by a bad fumble by Bolton. Then straight into the goal net flew the
puck.

"Hurrah! One goal for Porter's team!"

"That's the way to do it!"

"Humph! They got that by a fluke!" growled Bolton.

"They got it because of your error!" answered one of the students at the
side line.

Again the puck was placed in the center of the field, and once more the
struggle was renewed. This time the disc was again forced close to the
Porter goal, but without avail. Sam sent it back, and Dave shot it to
Phil, who whizzed the puck over to Shadow. Then came a mix-up, and the
puck flew close to the Poole goal.

"Back with it!" was the cry. "Don't let 'em score another goal!"

A player named Gardener had the puck. He was about to send it to Bolton,
when Phil interfered and sent the disc over to Ben Basswood. As Ben
swept over the ice with the disc Bolton rushed forward, swinging his
hockey stick viciously.

"Look out!" yelled somebody, and many saw a swing of the stick that came
dangerously close to Phil's head.

"Bolton, you try that again, and I'll knock you down!" said Phil, his
eyes flashing fire as he spoke.

"My--er--my stick slipped," stammered Bolton, and turned away quickly.
Before more could be said a cheer went up.

"Another goal for the Porter team!"

"That's the way to play ice hockey!"

It was true, Ben had made the second goal. With five minutes more of the
half to play the puck was placed in position once again.

"Say, we've got to do something!" growled Nat Poole.

"All right, do it," answered one of the team, who had seen Nat make
several errors, and who was growing disgusted.

Both Nat and Bolton were ugly, and showed it in every movement. The puck
was worked down into the Porter territory, but again without avail, and
as it commenced to move in the opposite direction Nat and Bolton grew
furious. Nat gave his follower a meaning look, and a minute later Bolton
swung his hockey stick around, almost on a line with Dave's shoulder.

Had the blow landed as intended, Dave would have been seriously lamed,
and possibly his arm might have been broken. But Roger was close at
hand, and in a flash the senator's son thrust out his hockey stick, so
that the blow glanced off, doing little harm.

"Time!" called Roger, and it was granted, and both teams at once
gathered around Dave and Bolton.

"Bolton, that was done on purpose; you can't deny it!" cried Roger. "You
did your best to injure Dave."

"I did not!" roared Bolton, growing red in the face.

"He did! He did!" was the general cry. "Put him out!"

There was a great hubbub, in the midst of which Mr. Dodsworth consulted
with Andrew Dale, who was assistant referee. Then Mr. Dodsworth came
forward.

"Bolton," he said, clearly and coldly; "you are retired."

"Can't I play any more?" growled the student.

"No. Your conduct is unworthy of a gentleman, and you must leave the
field. The game will proceed."



CHAPTER XXVIII

A DISCOVERY OF INTEREST


It was a stinging rebuke, and everybody within hearing felt its effect.
There was a sudden hush, and then Bolton turned and skated away,
muttering savagely under his breath.

Once more the game proceeded, but before the puck could be gotten within
striking distance of either goal the whistle blew; and the first half of
the game came to an end.

"Wonder what Nat Poole thinks of his team now?" remarked Roger, as the
boys gathered in a group to discuss the plays made.

"He is as mad as hops," reported Plum. "He says Bolton was not to blame,
and that it wasn't fair for Mr. Dodsworth to rule him off."

"They ought to be satisfied," said Messmer, who was close by. "Langley,
the substitute, is as good as Bolton, if not better."

"Say, we must keep them from scoring in the second half!" cried Ben.
"That will break Nat's heart. He has been blowing constantly that he was
going to do us up."

"Look out for tricks," cautioned Dave. "They may have something up their
sleeve they haven't tried yet--although I doubt it."

Promptly on time the second half of the game started. As soon as the
puck was put into action it was seen that Nat's team had adopted new
tactics. This was to "worry" the disc along close to the side line, and
in such a manner that Dave's seven had to either miss it or run the risk
of off-side plays.

"Get it out, fellows!" cried Dave, and then gave a signal to bring it
back. This was not expected by the Poole players, and before they
realized what was occurring, the Porter seven had the puck nearly to the
goal net. Here a fierce fight occurred, and the disc went back and forth
with astonishing rapidity. But at last Dave got it and made a goal so
swiftly and so neatly it brought forth tremendous applause.

"Another for Porter's side!"

"Say, they are piling 'em up, aren't they?"

"Come, Nat! Get in the game and show us what you can do!"

With a glum face Nat Poole ordered his team to their places, and again
the try for a goal started. But the seven was now thoroughly
demoralized, and another goal was made by the Porters in less than four
minutes. Then followed three minutes of ragged work near the middle of
the field, and then the whistle blew and it was all over.

"And a regular slaughter for Nat Poole's team," was the comment of one
of the students.

"It knocked us out to take Bolton out of the game," grumbled Nat. "That
wasn't fair."

"Bolton wasn't any better than the rest," answered Phil. "Nat, you were
beaten fairly and squarely, and you know it."

"Oh, shut up!" growled the money-lender's son, and hurried away out of
sight as soon as possible.

"Well, young gentlemen," said Mr. Dodsworth to Dave and his followers,
"you did very well, and I am proud of you."

"Mr. Dodsworth, do you think we stand any chance of beating Rockville?"
asked Dave, earnestly.

"I do, yes. But it will be no easy work."

"Not as easy as to-day, eh?" put in Ben, with a grin.

"By no means, Basswood. I have seen the Rockville seven play two games,
and they are very quick and clever. No, you must not look for any
walk-over. If you win it will only be by good, clean-cut work."

"Then I can send an acceptance of their challenge?" questioned Dave.

"Yes, and you had better do it at once," answered the instructor; and
the letter was sent by special messenger within the hour.

That evening the boys celebrated their victory by lighting a number of
bonfires along the river. They were allowed to be out an hour later than
usual, and skated and had a good time generally. Nat Poole and his
cronies were not in evidence, but nobody missed them.

"I hope we don't get snow," remarked Dave, on retiring. "A heavy fall
would knock out the game with Rockville."

"Oh, they could clear the ice," answered Phil. "But I'd like to see it
stay clear."

But this was not to be. All day Sunday the sky was overcast, and by
Monday morning it was snowing furiously, blotting out the landscape on
all sides.

"Here is where we stay indoors and do some studying," remarked Roger,
making a wry face.

"Good chance to catch up," was Ben's comment. "I've got to bone at some
Latin anyway."

"And I have a theme to finish," added Dave. "Let us do all the studying
we can," he went on. "Then, if it clears off, we'll have so much more
time outdoors."

This proposal was accepted by the lads of Nos. 11 and 12, and soon
nearly all of them were at work over their lessons. The exception was
Luke Watson, who said he was ahead in his studies for once.

"I am going to put my clothing in order," said Luke. "My closet and my
bureau drawers are something fierce. I hardly know where to find a
necktie or a shoe any more."

"You ought to follow Polly's example," suggested Dave. "He has
everything as neat as a pin."

"It's easy enough," said the girlish student. "All you've got to do is
to put everything in its proper place at the start, and then put it back
after you have used it."

"Say, that puts me in mind of a story," began Shadow. "Once two
boys----"

"Drop it!"

"We are studying, not listening to stories!"

"Throw a book at him if he opens his mouth again!"

"All right, if you don't want to hear it," murmured Shadow, and turned
to his own lessons.

Luke arranged his bureau drawers to his satisfaction, and then went to
his clothing closet. Out came several suits of clothing, some shoes and
slippers, and a quantity of other things.

"I don't see why I am keeping these old slippers," he murmured, half to
himself. "I haven't worn 'em this term. Guess I'll turn 'em over to Pop
Swingly. He might get a little good out of 'em."

"Did you speak to me, Luke?" asked Dave, looking up from his books.

"No. I was musing over these old slippers. I am going to give 'em away."

"Maybe some poor person would be glad to get them."

"I don't know any poor person around here. I'll turn 'em over to Pop
Swingly. He can----Hello, what's this?"

Luke had turned the slippers over in his hand, and from the toe of one
of them had dropped a small, shining object. Luke picked it up with
interest.

"Why, it's a watch charm!" exclaimed Dave, coming forward.

"So it is! How did that get in my slipper?"

"What's that?" cried Shadow, coming over, while some of the other
students did the same.

"Luke just found this watch charm stuck in the toe of one of his old
slippers," explained Dave.

"That is Nat Poole's charm--the one he lost from his watch-chain!" cried
Ben.

"Are you sure, Ben?"

"Pretty sure, yes. I've seen it often enough to know it."

"Yes, it looks like Nat's charm," said Roger.

"And was that charm in your slipper?" questioned Shadow, excitedly.

"Yes, it just dropped out."

"Were those slippers taken at the time all our shoes and boots and
slippers disappeared?" continued Shadow.

"Yes. Say, Shadow, you don't think----"

"Yes, I do!" shouted the lad who had the reputation of walking in his
sleep. "I think Nat Poole took those shoes, slippers, and boots, and
then got scared in some way and returned them. And when he boxed 'em up
he caught his watch charm in the slipper, and the charm dropped inside."

"It looks reasonable," was Dave's comment.

"You let me have that charm and I'll find out about this," went on
Shadow. "I'll show him he can't do such a thing and then shove it off on
me, and make folks believe I took the shoes while I was walking in my
sleep!"

"Going after Nat now?" asked Buster.

"Yes."

"Do you want anybody along?" asked Dave. "Better have witnesses to
this."

"All right; Dave, you come along,--and you too, Phil. I guess you want
to know what became of that missing gym. shoe."

"So I do," answered the shipowner's son.

"Where is Nat?" asked Roger.

"I don't know, but I'll soon find out," answered Shadow, with
determination. He had been deeply chagrined over the disappearance of
the shoes, boots, and slippers, and had felt it keenly when he was
suspected of having walked in his sleep once again and made off with the
foot coverings.

The three students left the dormitory, and from another lad learned that
Nat was in the library. They sent a small boy after him, stating that he
was wanted at once at the "den," a room where the students sometimes
congregated, but which just then was deserted.

Wondering what was coming, the money-lender's son soon put in an
appearance. He had not been told who wished to see him, and his face
fell when he saw Shadow, Dave, and Phil.

"What do you want?" he asked, surlily. "I am busy this afternoon."

"Nat, is this your watch charm, the one you lost?" questioned Shadow,
holding out the piece in his hand.

"Sure it is!" cried the money-lender's son. "Where did you find it?"

"Found it just where you lost it--in Luke Watson's slipper."

"Eh?" And Nat looked startled.

"Nat, we have found you out!" cried Shadow, sternly. "You needn't
attempt to deny it. You took those shoes, boots, and slippers."

"Who says so?"

"I do."

"I--I did not."

"Yes, you did."

"Don't you know you were seen?" asked Phil, with a wink at his chums.

It was only a chance shot, but it told in a most unexpected way.

"Say, has Tom Hally been talking about me?" roared Nat, in sudden rage.
"If he has I'll--I'll----"

"Now, take it easy," advised Dave. "Nat, don't you realize that this is
a serious matter?"

"I don't care! I'll fix Hally, see if I don't!"

At that moment the door opened, and the boy who had been rescued from
the hole in the snowy hollow came in with several chums.

"Hally, come here!" called Phil.

"Say, did you give me away, after all?" demanded Nat Poole, rushing
forward and catching Tom Hally by the arm.

"Let go of me!" returned Hally. "I don't know what you are talking
about."

"Yes, you do, you sneak!"

"I'm no sneak!" And Tom Hally's eyes flashed dangerously.

"Hally, tell me, did Nat Poole take our shoes and boots and slippers
that night?" demanded Dave.

"He did." Hally grew red in the face. "I wasn't going to mention it, but
now you ask me a direct question I'll not tell a falsehood. He took the
shoes and hid them in the trunk room. I caught him doing it, but I
thought it was only a joke, and so kept silent. Then, after you fellows
rescued me from the hole in the snow, I made Nat send the shoes back. At
first I was going to tell on him, but, somehow, I didn't want to play
the sneak."

"I understand," answered Dave. He turned to Shadow. "This clears you."

"So it does, Shadow, and I am mighty glad of it," put in Phil.

"Yes, it clears me," answered the student who was known as a
sleep-walker. "Or at least, I will be cleared--after I am done with Nat
Poole," and Shadow looked at the money-lender's son in a manner that was
full of grim significance.



CHAPTER XXIX

HOOKER MONTGOMERY'S REVELATION


"What do you want?" demanded Nat, and his voice trembled a little, for
he realized that he was cornered.

"In the first place, I think you'll have to restore Phil's missing gym.
shoe," remarked Dave dryly. "How about it, Phil?"

"That's so," answered the shipowner's son.

"I've got the shoe in my closet," growled Nat. "It dropped out when I
was packing the box. I'll get it now."

"No, you don't!" cried Shadow. "You can get the shoe any time. We will
settle the rest of this affair before you leave."

"I--er--I don't understand?" stammered the money-lender's son. "You've
got your shoes back. What more do you want? Can't you stand for a joke?"

"Not that kind of a joke, Nat. You put me in a false light--made
everybody think I had walked off with the shoes in my sleep--and you
made the whole crowd buy new shoes. We ought to make you pay that bill."

"I won't pay a cent! You--you've got the new shoes."

"Well, you've got to settle with me anyway," went on Shadow, firmly.
"You can take your choice of two things. If you won't explain to the
whole crowd how the thing happened, and won't apologize to me, why I'm
going to give you a sound thrashing, that's all."

"Humph!"

"No 'humph' about it. You can take your choice."

"I won't apologize to you, or to anybody."

"Then you'll get a sound thrashing, Nat Poole."

"I am not afraid of you!"

"You won't apologize?"

"No!"

"Very well, then. Remember, I am going to give you the thrashing of your
life the very first chance I get," declared Shadow, and then, without
another word he left the "den," and Dave and Phil went with him.

"Are you going to do what you just said, Shadow?" questioned Phil.

"Indeed I am! I'll teach him that he can't put off his dirty tricks on
me!" declared the sleep-walker.

"When will you meet him?"

"I don't know. I'll lay for him some day when he goes to town."

"He'll keep out of your way most likely," declared Dave.

"Never mind, I'll catch him some time," declared Shadow, grimly.

A little later the missing shoe was returned to Phil. Nat Poole showed
himself only during class hours, and it was plain to see that Shadow's
threat had scared him. He and Bolton talked of "squaring up" with Dave,
Shadow, and the others, but nothing came of the discussion.

"You are not afraid of Hamilton, are you?" asked Bolton of Nat.

"Of course I ain't!" cried the money-lender's son.

"Then why don't you challenge him to a regular fight?"

"Why, I--er--that is, it wouldn't do," stammered Nat. "Shadow would be
just mean enough to let one of the teachers or the doctor hear about it,
and I might be expelled. My father has been very strict lately, so I
don't dare do anything to worry him. But if he attacks me I'll defend
myself, don't you fear!" added Nat, boastfully. It may be added here
that Nat and Shadow met the very next afternoon, back of the boathouse,
and though the money-lender's son tried to get away, Shadow pounced
upon him and knocked him down, and ended up by blackening Nat's left
eye, and making his nose bleed. Later on, Nat tried to "square himself"
with his friends by stating that Shadow had attacked him while he was
feeling sick, but it is doubtful if anybody believed this statement.

By Wednesday the storm cleared away, and the air became clear and
bracing. Word was sent in from Rockville that, unless another storm
followed, the ice on the river would be cleared off for the game of
hockey as scheduled.

"Well, we must get into practice," said Dave, and that very afternoon a
portion of the river near the Oak Hall boathouse was scraped clear, and
the seven got to work, under the eyes of Mr. Dodsworth and Andrew Dale.

"Rockville will do its best to win," said Roger. "If for no other reason
than to wipe out the football defeat."

"And we must do our best to down 'em!" cried Dave.

"I am going for a sleigh ride to-morrow," announced Phil. "I've hired a
big sleigh from Oakdale, and I want the whole bunch to go."

"Bully for Phil!" cried Ben. "A sleigh ride will suit me first-rate."

"Where will you go?" asked Shadow.

"I thought of going to Hopperville and back. That is about as far as we
can go between four o'clock and ten. I'll telephone to the Hopperville
Hotel to have supper ready for us."

"Phil, you're a brick!" cried Roger.

"Will the doctor let us go?" asked Ben.

"Yes, I asked him before I hired the sleigh."

The thought of a sleigh ride was a pleasant one, and Phil had little
difficulty in making up a party of eight, including Roger, Dave, and
Ben.

"It will be moonlight," said Dave. "And that will make the riding extra
fine."

It was a merry crowd that climbed into the big sleigh on the following
afternoon. The turnout was filled with straw, so that they might keep
warm, and was drawn by four good horses.

"Now then, let her go!" cried Phil, and the driver cracked his whip, and
they were off, the envy of all the students who had been left behind.

The road to Hopperville lay through Oakdale and Rockville, and as each
town was passed the boys set up a cheer and blew the horns that had been
brought along. Some folks cheered them in return, and just as they were
leaving the town where the military academy was located, some cadets
rushed from around a corner and pelted them with snowballs.

"Never mind!" yelled Roger, as he dodged. "You'll get yours next
Saturday!"

It was dark by the time Hopperville was reached and all of the boys were
glad enough to jump out of the sleigh and go into the hotel to warm up
before sitting down to supper. The horses and the turnout were taken
around to the stables.

The hotel was located on a corner, and across the side street was
another hotel--a resort that did not bear a particularly good
reputation. It had a bar attached to it, and it was whispered that
sporty men often went to the resort to gamble.

The reading-room of one hotel faced the other, and as Dave, Roger, and
Phil entered one apartment they noticed that the one across the way was
lit up, and that the window curtains had not been lowered. Then Dave
gave a sudden cry of surprise.

"Look at that man over there, Phil!"

"Why, it is Doctor Montgomery!" answered the shipowner's son.

"Montgomery!" cried Roger. "I thought he had cleared out from these
parts."

"I am going over to talk to him," said Dave.

"Want us to go along?" came from both of the others.

"You might as well."

"Say, why don't you scare him?" suggested Phil. "If you do that, you may
get him to tell all about the plot against you."

"Oh, I'll do that--don't fear," answered Dave.

As supper would not be ready for half an hour, the three lads excused
themselves, and hurried across the street. They found Hooker Montgomery
still alone, reading a sensational newspaper.

"Well, doctor, how are you?" said Dave, coolly, as he dropped in a chair
beside the so-styled physician.

"Why--ah--who--ahem!--where did you come from?" stammered Hooker
Montgomery. He was so taken back that he knew not what to say. He had
not dreamed that Dave and his chums would visit Hopperville, which was
somewhat out of the regular line of travel.

"I guess you didn't think I'd find you," continued Dave.

"Were you--ahem!--looking for me?" asked the doctor, weakly. And now the
boys noticed that he looked more dissipated than ever, and that his
garments were decidedly shabby.

"See here, Doctor Montgomery, I am not going to beat around the bush
with you," said Dave, sternly. "You played me a mean trick, and you know
that I can put you in prison for it."

"Why, I--ahem!--I--that is----"

"You kidnapped me, and that is a serious offense."

"No! no! I did nothing of the sort!" cried the man, and his face showed
actual misery. "Oh, Porter, don't blame me for it! I made a big
mistake! I was a fool to listen to those others! But I needed
money--times were very hard--and they said it was only a schoolboy
trick--that is, that is what they said first. But afterwards----" The
pretended doctor did not finish.

"Who said it was a trick?"

"Those two young men, Merwell and Jasniff. They were angry at you
because of something of which I know nothing. They wanted to get you in
their power for a lark--that was the story they first told. They
promised me twenty dollars if I would aid them--and I never got a
cent--not a cent!" added Hooker Montgomery, almost tearfully. "Oh, don't
prosecute me! I am down and out! My practice has been ruined--some folks
even want me arrested for practicing without a state certificate--and
those rascals never came to my aid! And after all I did for them!"

Dave was a good judge of character, and he saw at once that Hooker
Montgomery was assuredly in a pitiable condition. Drink had made him
lose his practice and his ability to induce people to buy his medicines,
and now he had relied upon Merwell and Jasniff to aid him, and they had
failed to do so. Evidently the man was not so much of a rascal as he was
weak-minded.

"So Merwell and Jasniff promised to pay you if you aided them?" said
Dave.

"Yes."

"But you got me to come to your boarding-house."

"So I did, but it was those two fellows who put me up to it."

"Where did Shime come in?"

"Oh, he only furnished the auto for a consideration. He was under
Jasniff's thumb--and now he is down and out, too."

"You say it was the plot of Jasniff and Merwell to get me in their
power. Why did they want to do this?"

"If I tell you, Mr. Porter, will you--ahem!--will you prosecute me?"
asked Hooker Montgomery, tremblingly.

"I may prosecute you if you don't tell me."

"As I said before, I didn't understand their plot at first. They said it
was only a schoolboy trick. But it was not,--as I found out later. It
was a villainous plan to get you into serious trouble."

"What trouble?"

"I don't know all of the particulars, but I know some. From that old
stone building you were to be taken to some town near by. I heard them
say something about breaking into a jewelry factory, and you were to be
drugged and left in the factory. I think they were going to make it
appear as if you had broken into the factory, and that an explosion to
blow open a safe had stunned you."

"Can that be true?" burst from Roger.

"What cold-blooded plotting?" was Phil's comment.

"I can't give you any details, for I was--ahem!--sick at the time and
did not quite understand," went on Hooker Montgomery, and Dave reasoned,
and rightfully, that he had been under the influence of liquor. "Of
course, they'll deny the whole thing. But that is what they plotted to
do to you."

"Where are Merwell and Jasniff now? Do you know?"

"Yes, they are in this town. That is why I came here--to see them and
get some money, if I could, for I am dead broke. But they wouldn't see
me."

"Here!" cried Dave, in astonishment. "Where?"

"At the residence of one of Merwell's relatives, on the other side of
town. Do you want to see them?" And a sudden look of interest dawned in
Hooker Montgomery's fishy eyes.

"I do."

"Going to have it out with them?"

"Yes."

"Good for you, sir! I'll show you where you can find them!"



CHAPTER XXX

THE ENEMY RUNS AWAY


In a very few minutes Dave and his chums were on the way to find Merwell
and Jasniff. As the party walked along Hooker Montgomery told more about
his dealings with the rascally students. It was plain to Dave that the
so-styled doctor had been nothing but a weak tool, and in a way the
youth had to pity the poor wretch whom dissipation had so dragged down.

In less than five minutes the party arrived at a small residence set
well back in a garden. The walk was unshoveled, and they had to pick
their way through the snow. When they rang the doorbell a tall, thin
elderly woman answered their summons.

"Good-evening, Mrs. Slater," said Hooker Montgomery. "I'd like to see
Mr. Merwell and Mr. Jasniff."

"They have gone," was the sharp answer, and Mrs. Slater looked as if she
wished to shut the door in the faces of the callers.

"When will they be back?"

"They won't be back."

"Will you kindly tell me where they have gone?" questioned Dave.

"Who are you?" And the woman eyed Dave suspiciously.

"My name is David Porter, and I wish to see Merwell and Jasniff very
much."

"Porter! Then you must be that young villain Link told me about--the one
who made so much trouble for him out on the ranch!" exclaimed Mrs.
Slater. "Well, you can't see Link, or his friend. They have gone, and
they won't be back."

"Have they gone to Rockville Academy?"

"You can find that out for yourself!" cried Mrs. Slater, and then
slammed the door shut, and locked it.

"Very accommodating lady, I must say!" murmured Phil, sarcastically.

"Very essence of politeness," added Roger.

"Well, if they have gone, there is no use of our staying here," declared
Dave. "Come on." And he led the way back to the hotel. Here they had
another talk with Hooker Montgomery.

"If you'll promise not to prosecute me I'll appear against Merwell and
Jasniff any time you want me," said the so-called doctor. And there the
matter rested; and the boys went back to join their companions and help
to make way with the generous supper that was awaiting the whole party.

"What place do you suppose Merwell and Jasniff were going to rob?" asked
Roger of Dave, on the way back to Oak Hall.

"I am sure I don't know, Roger. Montgomery didn't say. More than likely
those rascals didn't tell him."

"What are you going to do next, go up to Rockville after Link and Nick?"

"I've been thinking I'd go up there early next Saturday, before the
hockey game. Want to go along?"

"Certainly, if you wish it. I guess Phil will go, too--if you ask him."

"I'll do it. I don't think I can manage the two alone."

"Going to have them arrested?"

"That depends on how they act. One thing is certain, I am not going to
stand for any more of their underhanded work," answered Dave, grimly.

The day of the game dawned clear and bright. The contest was scheduled
for three o'clock, and Dave, Phil, and Roger got permission to go to
Rockville in the morning. They said they would meet their fellow-players
on the river later.

Arriving at Rockville, the three chums put up at the hotel, where they
rested from the long skate, and then had dinner. Then they started in
the direction of the military school.

The street on which they were walking ran past the railroad station, and
as they passed the platform Roger happened to look at the people
assembled, waiting for a train. He gave a shout:

"There is Merwell now!"

"Where?" asked Dave and Phil.

"Just went into the waiting-room."

The three lads quickened their pace and hurried into the waiting-room.
They saw Merwell and Jasniff at the ticket window, just picking up some
tickets and change.

"I want to see you fellows," said Dave, coldly, and placed a hand on a
shoulder of each of the rascals.

Merwell and Jasniff wheeled around, and the face of each turned pale.

"Wha--what do you want, Porter?" stammered Merwell.

"Ah, don't talk to him," blustered Jasniff. "Let go of me!" And he tore
himself loose.

"Jasniff, you've got to talk to me," answered Dave. "If you won't talk
I'll call an officer."

"Don't you do that!" cried Merwell, in increased alarm. "You let me go!
It's a--a--mistake! I haven't done anything!" And he commenced to back
towards the door.

"Merwell, you and Jasniff played me a dirty trick!" declared Dave. "I
don't know whether to have you arrested or to take it out of you. I gave
you a sound thrashing once, but it doesn't seem to have done you much
good."

"You--you let me alone, Porter!"

"Where are you going?" asked Roger.

"Don't you tell them!" burst out Jasniff, quickly. "It's none of their
business!" And he looked knowingly at Merwell.

"I guess I had better call an officer," suggested Phil, just by way of
intimidating the rascally students.

"No--no--don't do it!" cried Link Merwell. "Come on, Nick, there is the
train!"

He leaped past the others, and out of a back door of the station. As
Dave, Phil, and Roger went after him, Jasniff went out of the front
door.

A train had come to a stop, and a number of passengers were getting off
and on. Link Merwell darted into the midst of the crowd, and mounting
one of the platforms, entered the car.

"Going after him?" asked Phil.

"No. What's the use?"

"Where is Jasniff?" asked Roger.

"There he goes!" cried Dave, and pointed to the end of the train, which
the student named had just boarded.

The train was now moving, and as it swept by, the three lads on the
platform saw Link Merwell peer anxiously out of a window at them. Then,
as the last car rolled by, they beheld Nick Jasniff in the doorway. He
shook his fist at them.

"Just wait, Dave Porter!" he yelled, defiantly. "Just wait, that's all!"
And then the train disappeared swiftly from view.

"Wonder if they are running away from the academy?" came from Phil.

"It looks like it to me," answered Dave. "I guess they are pretty badly
scared. Maybe they know that Doctor Montgomery had turned against them."

"Well, if they only stay away it won't be so bad," said the senator's
son.

"I might telegraph ahead and have them held," said Dave. "But I guess it
isn't worth while."

"Do you know what I think?" said Phil. "I think they were at that Mrs.
Slater's house the night we called, and what we said scared them." And
in this surmise Phil was correct.

An hour later found the three chums down on the river, where they were
met by the other members of the hockey team. A great crowd was
assembling, and in the number were Vera Rockwell, Mary Feversham, and a
number of other people they knew.

The boys from Oak Hall had come in sleighs and on skates, and they had
brought their horns, rattles, and banners with them. The Rockville
cadets were also alive to the occasion, and the combined din from both
sides was deafening.

"Here is where we do up Oak Hall!"

"Here is where Rockville gets another defeat!"

"Remember, this is for the championship of the Leming River!"

So the cries rang on, drowned ever and anon by the tooting of horns and
the clacking of rattles. Soon came a short practice, and then the two
sevens lined up for the great contest.

At a glance it was easy to see that the Rockville team was a fine one.
Every player was tall and thin, and an exceptionally swift skater. They
had been well drilled into team work, and sent the puck from one player
to another in a manner that brought forth many favorable comments.

"We sure have our work cut out for us!" whispered Ben to Dave. "They are
the swiftest bunch I have yet seen on skates."

"And their captain is certainly a star," added Shadow. "I never saw a
fellow turn quicker or send the puck with more force."

"We've got to fight and fight hard!" cried Dave. "I want every fellow on
the job, first, last, and all the time!"



CHAPTER XXXI

ANOTHER VICTORY--CONCLUSION


"That's the way to do it!"

"What did I tell you? Oak Hall won't be in this game!"

"This will wipe out that football defeat!"

So the cries rang out. The great ice-hockey contest was but six minutes
old, and amid a wild yelling and cheering Rockville had carried the puck
down into the Oak Hall territory, and Mallory, their star player, had
made a swift and safe goal.

"Wasn't that going some!"

"Three cheers for Mallory!" And the cheers were given with a will.

"Oak Hall! Oak Hall!" came the answering cry, and then the supporters of
that school burst out into a new slogan:

           "Ice hockey!
            Nice jockey!
            Oak Hall
            Has the call!
    Wa! wa! wa! wa! Whoop!"

"Oh, what a shame that Rockville scored!" sighed Vera Rockwell.

"Never mind, the game isn't ended yet," returned Mary Feversham.

"No," came from a Rockville cadet, sitting near. "When it is the score
will be about forty to nothing, in our favor." And this remark caused
some cadets to smile, and made both of the girls turn very red.

"Aren't they horrid!" whispered Mary.

"Don't mind them," answered her friend. "But, oh, I do so hope Oak Hall
wins!" And then both girls waved their Oak Hall banners vigorously, by
way of encouragement to the team.

Once more the puck was put into play in the center of the field of ice,
and again Rockville sent it flying near to the Oak Hall goal. But this
time it came back, and now the fight was on for several minutes near the
left side line. There was a little rough play on both sides, and the
referee called time.

"I want no more such work," he said, almost sternly.

"I was hit in the side by somebody," growled Plum.

"I was hit in the back," came from a Rockville player.

"If there is any more such work I'll call the game," said the referee,
and then the whistle blew to start again.

This time Oak Hall worked with vigor, and presently had the rubber disc
down close to the Rockville goal. But alas for their hopes! Just as Ben
was on the point of striking for the net, a Rockville player stole the
puck from him, rapped it to another player, who sent it whirling to
Mallory, and in a twinkling it was down at the other end of the field.

"Another goal for Rockville!"

"What did I tell you? Boys, this is a walk-over for our school!" cried
Guy Frapley, who was on hand and as anxious as anybody to see Oak Hall
defeated.

"Oak Hall may be able to play football, but they don't know how to play
ice hockey!" added John Rand, who was with him and equally anxious to
see Dave and his friends lose.

The supporters of Oak Hall had little to say. The only lad who felt
happy was Nat Poole.

"Here is where Dave Porter and his crowd get what is coming to them,"
thought the money-lender's son. It pleased him greatly to think his
school might be beaten. Which shows how really mean-spirited Nat was.

Again the game proceeded, and now the contest waged in earnest. In a
mix-up near the center of the field, one of the Rockville players named
Devine crashed into Plum, and both went down in a heap, with two other
players on top. The puck went sailing toward the Oak Hall goal, and
though Dave did his best to stop it, the goal was made an instant later.

"Time! time! Somebody is hurt!"

"That goal ought not to count!"

A babble of voices sounded out, and slowly the players untangled
themselves. Then it was learned that Plum had been hurt on the shoulder,
and one of the Rockville players had gotten cut in the ankle, and both
had to retire. Luke Watson took Plum's place. It was decided that the
goal had been made unfairly, after time was called and allowed, and so
it was not counted.

But even this did not help Oak Hall in the first half of the contest.
Rockville went at it hammer and tongs again, and soon scored a
legitimate third goal, amid a cheering that was tremendous. Then the
whistle blew, and the first half of the game became a thing of the past.

"We are up against it and no mistake," remarked Roger, dolefully, as he
and the other players sat down on a bench in the boathouse to rest.

"We are too slow," answered Dave. "We simply must put more ginger in our
playing."

"Yes, and we've got to take more chances," added Sam. "Might as well do
it--we can't lose anything," he added, bitterly.

When the call sounded to start the second half of the game, the Oak Hall
seven came forward with a do-or-die look on their set faces. Rockville,
on the other hand, wore a happy smile, as if the victory was already a
sure thing.

For a minute the playing was uncertain. Then came a surprise, for Oak
Hall "broke loose," to use Messmer's way of expressing it. The puck was
fairly stolen from Mallory himself by Dave, and sent forward, and to the
right and the left, in a manner that was bewildering.

"Send it back, Rockville!"

"Don't let them score!"

"Back with it! Back!"

"Go it, Oak Hall! Whack it, Hamilton!"

"Now for the goal, Morr!"

"There she goes!"

"Hurrah! Score one for Oak Hall!"

"Now then, you've struck your gait, fellows! Keep up the good work!"

It was true. Oak Hall had scored on a beautiful strike by Roger, aided
by Shadow. But Dave had started the thing by getting the rubber away
from Mallory, much to that star player's chagrin.

The goal warmed the hearts of the Oak Hall seven wonderfully, and when
the puck was again placed in position, they went for it like hungry cats
after a mouse. The exchange of blows was rapid, and the disc was stolen
and recovered half a dozen times in as many seconds. Then came a long
drive by Ben, and another by Dave, and then a Rockville player sent it
out of bounds. Bringing it back gave the lads time to recover their
breath, and again they went at it with a determination that was
terrific.

"Oh, somebody will be killed!" cried Vera, as several came together with
a crash.

"What a rough game!" murmured Mary. "But look, Dave Porter has the
rubber!"

"Yes, and he is carrying it to the Rockville goal!"

"Oh, look at the others after him!"

Dave had the puck, and with almost a clear field ahead of him he was
"worrying" it along, while the whole of the Rockville team was following
on his heels. He waited until they were almost on him, then made a half
turn, raised his stick, and let drive with all his power.

"Say, look at that!"

"What a beautiful drive!"

"Another goal for Oak Hall!"

"Three cheers for Dave Porter!" came from some of the Oak Hall
supporters, and the cheers went echoing far and wide across the river.
Vera and Mary cheered with the rest, and so did a number of other girls.

"Now then, Oak Hall, tie the score!"

"We will!" murmured Roger.

"That's the talk!" cried Dave. "Everybody in the game now, and on the
jump!"

Fearing they were losing their hold on the game, Mallory spoke to the
others of his team. He gave the signal for a trick play on the left
side. But Dave was on the alert, and the trick was blocked, and then
Dave gave a signal to try the same trick on Rockville. Neither Mallory
nor his followers dreamed this would be done, and they were so neatly
caught that every old ice-hockey player who witnessed the play had to
smile. The trick took the puck halfway down into the Rockville
territory, and though the cadets worked hard to send it back, it was not
to be, and Phil knocked the goal that tied the score.

"A tie! A tie!"

"Now, Oak Hall, one more to win!"

"Rockville! Rockville! One more! One more!"

By this time everybody was thoroughly worked up over the contest. All
who had been seated were on their feet and cheering wildly for their
favorites.

"Whatever you do, don't let them score again!" said Dave, to his
players. "Keep the rubber away from our goal."

"We'll send it down to their goal," answered Shadow.

"So we will!" cried Ben.

"This is our game--we have got to have it," was Phil's response.

"It's win or bust," muttered Roger.

Once more the puck was placed in position. Rockville now played as they
had never played before, and twice the disc came dangerously close to
the Oak Hall goal. But each time Luke Watson drove it back. Then it came
forward swiftly to the other end of the field. Here there was a
battle-royal between Mallory and Roger. Dave came whizzing up, and
managed to steal the rubber, and sent it to Ben. He got it within three
yards of the goal, and then Shadow took hold, and landed it safely in
the net.

"Hurrah! One more for Oak Hall!"

"That makes the score four to three!"

"Wake up, Rockville! Six minutes more to play!"

"Now hold 'em!" cautioned Dave, as the puck was brought forth once more.
"Hold 'em, I tell you!"

"We'll do more!" answered Roger, grimly. "That is, if we get the
chance."

"Of course--but don't run any risks."

Back and forth flew the rubber disc. Rockville was wild to tie the
score. This made one of the players take a "long chance." Roger saw it,
and in a twinkling he rushed forward and upset the fellow's
calculations, and sent the puck again into the Rockville territory. Then
came a rush of players, and back and forth swung the human mass. Then of
a sudden the rubber disc flew up into the air, to land almost at Sam
Day's feet.

It was Sam's chance, and like a flash he improved it. Down the icy field
went the rubber with Sam behind it.

"Stop him!"

"Send it back!"

Dave was behind Sam, and now he swept ahead. Then came a mix-up with
Mallory. But Dave got the puck and sent it straight for the net.

"Another goal for Oak Hall!"

"Two minutes more to play!"

"Rockville can't win now!"

With saddened faces Rockville lined up once more, and again the disc was
put in action. The fight was hot, and the puck moved rapidly in the
center of the field. Then the whistle blew, and the wonderful contest
came to an end.

Final score: Oak Hall 5, Rockville 3.

It was assuredly a well-earned victory, and Dave and his team were
warmly praised by all their followers. Even Doctor Clay came up to shake
each player by the hand.

"I am proud of you," he said. "This will be quite a feather in the Oak
Hall cap."

"Can we celebrate to-night, Doctor?" asked Roger, quickly.

"You can--up to twelve o'clock. But please don't wreck the school
building," and the master of Oak Hall smiled indulgently.

"Oh, it was just too lovely for anything!" cried Vera.

"The best ever!" added Mary.

"I got a number of good snap-shots of the game," said Polly Vane, who
was quite an amateur photographer. "I'll have the pictures developed and
printed, and give each of you copies to take home."

"That will be splendid, Polly," answered Dave. Later on Dave received
his set of pictures, and took them to Crumville, where he showed them to
Jessie and the others with much pride.

"That contest was harder than the one on the gridiron," remarked Phil,
when they were returning to Oak Hall in one of the big sleighs.

"Rockville meant to win," said Buster. "And it looked as if they would
win, at first."

"They have a star player in Mallory," said Ben. "But one star doesn't
make a team."

"Say, that puts me in mind of a story," began Shadow. "Once three
fellows----" But then he broke off short, as a handful of soft snow
thrown by Roger took him full in the mouth.

"Keep your stories for to-night, Shadow!" cried Dave. "Now for a song!"
And then the crowd in the sleigh began singing at the top of their
lungs.

It was assuredly a grand victory, and that evening the whole school
celebrated, with bonfires, singing, and dancing. Dave was called on for
a speech. Plum took part in the celebration, for he was not seriously
injured.

"And now for the holidays and home!" said Dave, on the following Monday
morning. "Just two weeks more of the grind, boys!"

"They'll soon slip by," said Phil.

"Dave, do you imagine that Merwell and Jasniff will return to
Rockville?" continued the shipowner's son.

"I don't know--perhaps, after a while--when they think I will drop the
charge against them."

"Perhaps they are too scared to come back," said Phil.

"They are bad eggs," murmured Dave. But how bad, he was still to learn.
He was to meet Merwell and Jasniff again, and what that pair did to
injure him and those he so dearly loved will be told in another volume
of this series, to be entitled: "Dave Porter on Cave Island; or, A
Schoolboy's Mysterious Mission." In that book we shall meet Dave and
many others of our characters again, and learn the particulars of a
happening at Crumville that was as dismaying as it was perplexing.

"Well, let us forget Merwell and Jasniff," said Roger. "Say, that
hockey victory has made me feel two years younger."

"That and a letter he got from Laura," murmured Phil.

"Humph, as if I didn't see the letter you got from Belle Endicott,"
retorted the senator's son.

"Dave got a letter, too--from Jessie," went on Phil. "Perhaps----"

"Hi, you fellows, get through grinding, and come for a skate!" shouted
Ben, bursting into the dormitory. "The ice was never better."

"That's the talk!" cried Dave, throwing down his Latin grammar. "First
fellow to get his skates on gets a ginger snap!"

And off he ran, with the others at his heels. And here for the present
we will say good-by to Dave Porter, his chums, and his rivals.


THE END



DAVE PORTER SERIES

By EDWARD STRATEMEYER

"Mr. Stratemeyer has seldom introduced a more popular hero than Dave
Porter. He is a typical boy, manly, brave, always ready for a good time
if it can be obtained in an honorable way."--_Wisconsin, Milwaukee,
Wis._

"Edward Stratemeyer's 'Dave Porter' has become exceedingly
popular."--_Boston Globe._

"Dave and his friends are nice, manly chaps."--_Times-Democrat, New
Orleans._

    DAVE PORTER AT OAK HALL
              Or The School Days of an American Boy

    DAVE PORTER IN THE SOUTH SEAS
              Or The Strange Cruise of the Stormy Petrel

    DAVE PORTER'S RETURN TO SCHOOL
              Or Winning the Medal of Honor

    DAVE PORTER IN THE FAR NORTH
              Or The Pluck of an American Schoolboy

    DAVE PORTER AND HIS CLASSMATES
              Or For the Honor of Oak Hall

    DAVE PORTER AT STAR RANCH
              Or The Cowboy's Secret

    DAVE PORTER AND HIS RIVALS
              Or The Chums and Foes of Oak Hall

    DAVE PORTER ON CAVE ISLAND
              Or A Schoolboy's Mysterious Mission

    DAVE PORTER AND THE RUNAWAYS
              Or Last Days at Oak Hall

    DAVE PORTER IN THE GOLD FIELDS
              Or The Search for the Landslide Mine

    DAVE PORTER AT BEAR CAMP
              Or The Wild Man of Mirror Lake

    DAVE PORTER AND HIS DOUBLE
              Or The Disappearance of the Basswood Fortune

    DAVE PORTER'S GREAT SEARCH
              Or The Perils of a Young Civil Engineer

    DAVE PORTER UNDER FIRE
              Or A Young Army Engineer in France

    DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS
              Or At the Front with the Fighting Engineers





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dave Porter and His Rivals - or, The Chums and Foes of Oak Hall" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home