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Title: On Guard - Mark Mallory's Celebration
Author: Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968
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 "On Guard - Mark Mallory's Celebration" ***

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Transcriber's note:

      "Lieut. Frederick Garrison" is a pseudonym used by Upton
      Sinclair.



[Illustration: "Cadet Mallory received a letter from a friend." (See
page 7)]


ON GUARD

Or

Mark Mallory's Celebration

by

LIEUT. FREDERICK GARRISON, U. S. A.

Author of "Off for West Point," "A West Point Treasure,"
"A Cadet's Honor," etc.



[Illustration: Boy's Own Library]

Philadelphia
David Mckay, Publisher
610 South Washington Square

Copyright, 1903
By Street & Smith

On Guard



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                      PAGE
        I.--A Letter from a "Furlough Man"        7
       II.--Mark's Idea                          15
      III.--A New Ally                           22
       IV.--A Surprise for the Seven             31
        V.--The Scheme Succeeds                  36
       VI.--What Mark Overheard                  46
      VII.--Mark's Counterplot                   57
     VIII.--The Attack on Mark                   65
       IX.--Three Discomfited Yearlings          74
        X.--Texas Runs Amuck                     80
       XI.--Texas Raids West Point               91
      XII.--The Cause of a Friend               103
     XIII.--The Reformation of Texas            110
      XIV.--A Plot of the Yearlings             118
       XV.--The Plebes Plot, Too                128
      XVI.--Setting the Trap                    133
     XVII.--The Result at the Hop               141
    XVIII.--A Strange Announcement              149
      XIX.--Texas Turns Highwayman              160
       XX.--Two Midnight Prowlers               167
      XXI.--Benny is Exposed                    178
     XXII.--Mark Receives a Committee           183
    XXIII.--A Fight, and Other Things           199
     XXIV.--Six to the Rescue                   208
      XXV.--Mark in the Hospital                216
     XXVI.--Texas Has an Interview              224
    XXVII.--A Plot to Beat "the General"        232
   XXVIII.--"Bull" Finds an Ally                241
     XXIX.--Strange Conduct                     250
      XXX.--A Surprise for Murray               256
     XXXI.--The Plot Succeeds                   265
    XXXII.--Triumph--Conclusion                 277



ON GUARD.



CHAPTER I.

A LETTER FROM A "FURLOUGH MAN."


"A letter for me, did you say?"

The speaker was a tall, handsome lad, a plebe at the West Point Military
Academy. At the moment he was gazing inquiringly out of the tent door at
a small orderly.

The boy handed him an envelope, and the other glanced at it.

"Cadet Mark Mallory, West Point, N. Y.," was the address.

"I guess that's for me," he said. "Thank you. Hello in there, Texas!
Here's a letter from Wicks Merritt."

This last remark was addressed to another cadet in the tent. "Texas,"
officially known as Jeremiah Powers, a tall, rather stoop-shouldered
youth, with a bronzed skin and a pair of shining gray eyes, appeared in
the doorway and watched his friend with interest while he read.

"What does he say, Mark?" he inquired, when the latter finished.

"Lots," responded Mark. "Lots that'll interest our crowd. They ought to
be through sprucing up by this time, so bring 'em over here and I'll
read it."

"Sprucing up" is West Point for the morning house-cleaning in the summer
camp. A half hour is allowed to it immediately after breakfast, and it
is followed by "the A. M. inspection."

In response to Mark's suggestion, Texas slipped over to the tent in back
of theirs in "B Company" Street, and called its three occupants. They
came over and joined those in Mark's tent; and then Mark took out the
letter he had just received.

"I've got something here," said he, "that I think ought to interest all
of us. I guess I'll have time to read it before inspection. We are a
secret society, aren't we?"

"That's what we are," assented the other six.

"But what's that got to do with it?" added Texas.

"And we've banded ourselves together for the purpose of preventing the
yearlings from hazing us?" continued Mark, without noticing his friend's
inquiry. "Well, it seems that they've been doing about the same thing
down at Annapolis, too. This is from Wicks Merritt, a second class cadet
up here, who's home on furlough this summer. He took a trip to
Annapolis, and this is what he says. Listen very dutifully now, and
don't get impatient:

      "DEAR MALLORY: I have heard a lot about you since the
      last time I wrote. Several of the fellows have written
      to me, and they haven't been able to mention anything
      but you. They tell me you are kicking up a fine old
      fuss in West Point during my absence. They say that
      you won't let anybody haze you. They say that you've
      gotten a lot of plebes around you to back you up, and
      that the yearlings are half wild in consequence.

      "I don't know what to make of you. You always were an
      extraordinary genius, and I suppose you have to do
      things in your own sweet way, whether it's rescuing
      ferryboats or sailboats or express trains, or else
      locking us yearlings in ice houses. I cannot imagine
      what will be the end of the matter. I am sure the
      yearlings will never give in.

      "I'm told that when they tried to lick you into
      submission you did up Billy Williams, the best fighter
      in the class. Also that Bull Harris, whom I warned you
      against as being a sneaky fellow, tried to get you
      dismissed by skinning you on demerits, but that you
      circumvented that. Also that you and your friends have
      made it hot for him ever since, upon which fact I
      congratulate you.

      "I don't know what the yearlings will do next, but I
      imagine that they're 'stalled.' Since you've started,
      I suppose the best thing for you to do is to keep up
      the good work and not let them rest. But for Heaven's
      sake, don't let any of them see this! They'd cut me
      for aiding and abetting a plebe rebellion. You are
      certainly the boldest plebe that every struck West
      Point; nobody in our class ever dared to do what
      you've done.

      "It seems, though, that you have imitators, or else
      that you are imitating somebody. Down here at
      Annapolis this year pretty much the same state of
      affairs is going on just now. There's a plebe down
      here by the name of Clif Faraday (I've met him, and I
      told him about you), and he's raising the very old boy
      with the third class fellows. It seems that he
      outwitted them in all their hazing schemes, and has
      got them guessing at what he'll do next, which is
      about as B. J. as anything you ever did, I imagine. It
      looks as if plebes both at West Point and here would
      get off with almost no hazing this year. And it's all
      on account of you, too.

      "Genius knows no precedent, they say. Farewell.

      "Your friend,

      "WICKS MERRITT.

      "P. S.--They tell me you've saved the life of Judge
      Fuller's daughter. Just take a word of advice--make
      the most of your opportunity! She's the prettiest girl
      around the place, and the nicest, too, and she has
      half the corps wild over her. If you can make friends
      with her, I think the yearlings would stop hazing you
      at her command."

Mark finished the reading of the letter and gazed at his comrades,
smiling.

"You see," he said, "our fame has spread even to Annapolis. Gentlemen, I
propose three cheers for our crowd!"

"An' three fo' Clif Faraday!" cried Texas.

"Only don't give any of them," added Mark, "for somebody might hear us."

There was a moment's pause after that, broken by a protest from one of
the Seven, Joseph Smith, of Indianapolis, popularly known as "Indian,"
a fat, gullible youth, who was the laughingstock of the post.

"I tell you," said he, his round eyes swelling with indignation, "I
don't think what Clif Faraday did was a bit more B. J. than some of our
tricks!" (B. J. is West Point dialect for "fresh.")

"That's what I say, too, b'gee!" chimed in another, a handsome,
merry-eyed chap with a happy faculty of putting every one in a good
humor when he laughed. "Just look at how Mark shut two of 'em up in an
ice house. Or look at how, when they took Indian off to the observatory
to haze him, b'gee, we made 'em think the place was afire and had 'em
all scared to death, and the fire battalion turning out besides. Now,
b'gee, I want to know where you can beat that!"

And his sentiment was echoed with approval by the remainder of those
present. The seven had by this time scattered themselves about the tent
in picturesque and characteristic attitudes, listening to the discussion
carried on by the excitable Master Dewey.

First of all and foremost was the grave and learned "Parson," the Boston
geologist. The Parson was stretched on his back in one corner with
nothing but his long, bony shanks visible. Somehow or other Parson
Stanard always managed to keep those legs of his with their covering of
pale green socks the most conspicuous thing about him.

Sitting erect and stately on the locker, was Master Chauncey, the "dude"
of the party. A few weeks of West Point had already worked wonders with
Chauncey; his aristocratic friends on Fifth Avenue would scarcely have
known him. In the first place, he, with the rest of the plebes, were
compelled to walk, whenever they went abroad, with "head erect, chest
out, eyes to the front, little fingers on the seams of the trousers,
palms outward." Try this and you will find, as Chauncey was finding,
that it is hard to do that and at the same time keep up the correct
London "stoop." Chauncey had been obliged to leave his cane and monocle
behind him also, and a few days later, when plebe fatigue uniforms were
donned, his imported clothes and high collar went by the board, too.

But Chauncey still clung to his accent, "bah Jove;" and was still known
to the seven as "the man with a tutor and a hyphen"--his name being
Mount-Bonsall, if you please--and to the rest of the corps as the dude
who most did up six yearlings.

The corner opposite the Parson's contained the dozing figure of
Methusalem Zebediah Chelvers, the "farmer" from Kansas, popularly known
as "Sleepy."

Sleepy never did anything or said anything unless he had to; the seven
had known him for weeks now, and knew no more about him than at the
start. Sleepy was still sleepy, and that was all.

The other members of this bold and desperate secret "anti-hazing"
society were Dewey, the prize story-teller of the party, "b'gee;"
Indian, the "prize pig;" Texas, a wild and woolly cowboy just from the
plains, with a right arm that had paralyzed four cadets in as many
minutes, and, last of all, Mark Mallory, the leader.

"Just look at the things we've done, b'gee!" continued Dewey. "Look at
the times they've tried to haze us and we've outwitted them! See how we
had the nerve to yank 'em out of bed the other night, b'gee. Or, if that
isn't enough, just think of Bull Harris."

This last remark was greeted with a chuckle of laughter from the seven,
in which even Sleepy found sufficient energy to join. And, indeed, the
recollection was enough to make one laugh.

As readers of the first books in this series, "Off for West Point" and
"A Cadet's Honor," know, Bull Harris was the sworn enemy of the seven,
and of Mark in particular. He never had ceased plotting in his mean,
cowardly way to get Mark into trouble, and it was the joy of the plebes'
lives to outwit him. On the day previous they had succeeded beyond their
wildest dreams. Given a bloodhound that had been sent out from a
neighboring village to trail a burglar who had stepped into a barrel of
pitch, the seven had put pitch on Bull Harris' shoe and started the dog
after him during the evening's dress parade. The dog had chewed Bull's
trousers to ribbons, had broken up the parade, had made Bull the
laughingstock of the place and earned him the deathless nickname of
"Bull, the Burglar." Naturally, Bull was wild with rage, and the seven
with hilarity.

They were still chuckling over it and the general discomfiture of the
yearling class and their own future prospects as triumphant plebes, when
inspection put an end to the discussion and scattered the crowd.

"But just you keep in mind," was Dewey's parting declaration, "that
we're the B. J.-est plebes that ever were, are, will be or can be. And,
b'gee, we're going to show it every day, too!"

Which the Parson punctuated with a solemn "Yea, by Zeus!"



CHAPTER II.

MARK'S IDEA.


The yearling corporal who did the inspecting had done his criticising
and gone his way, leaving four of the seven in their tent--Mark, Texas,
the Parson and Sleepy--who, being the tallest, had been assigned to
Company A. And the four sat down to await the signal to "fall in" for
drill.

"I reckon, Mark," said Texas, meditatively surveying his new uniform in
the looking-glass. "I reckon that we fellows kin say that hazing's most
over now."

"Assuredly!" said the Parson, gravely, "for indeed we have completely
broken the spirit of the enemy, and he knows not which way to turn. I
think that, in words of the song of Miriam, we may say:

  "'Sing, for the sword of the tyrant is broken!
    His chariots and horsemen are rent in twain.'

"Yea, by Zeus!"

The Parson said this with his usual classic solemnity. Mark smiled to
himself as he sat down upon the locker and gazed at his friends.

"I've got something to tell you fellows," said he. "I think now's about
as good a time as any. I haven't said anything about it to the crowd
yet. When I do they'll have their eyes opened, and realize that if we're
going to subdue the yearlings, we've got to start right at it all over
again. We've scarcely begun yet."

The three others looked at him in surprise; Texas rubbed his hands
gleefully, seeing that Mark's statement, if true, meant lots more fun
for the future.

"You remember last night," Mark continued, "about midnight, how the
Parson shouted out in his sleep and woke the whole camp?"

"Yes," added Texas, "and scared me to death. I thought I was down home
and the ole place was being run in by rustlers or somethin'."

"You met me at the door of the tent," Mark went on. "I didn't tell you
where I'd been; I'll tell you now. Last night a dozen or two of the
yearlings took me out of camp--they surprised me, and held me so that I
couldn't move. They tied me to a tree, and were just on the point of
beating me."

"What!"

The three were staring at Mark in unutterable amazement.

"Yes," said Mark. "They told me I'd either have to promise to be a
milk-and-water plebe after this or else be licked until I would. And
Bull Harris took a big rope and----"

"Did he hit ye?" cried Texas, springing to his feet excitedly. "Wow!
I'll go out an' I'll----"

"Sit down!" said Mark. "He didn't hit me, for the Parson yelled just
then and scared 'em all back to camp. And you needn't tackle Bull
anyhow, for I'm going to do that myself pretty soon. The point just now
is that the yearlings haven't given up. They're still fighting."

"I didn't know there were so many cowards in the place!" muttered Texas.

"They're desperate," said Mark. "They've got to do something. Now we'll
watch out for such surprises the next time, and meanwhile we'll show
them that we're determined not to stop."

And Mark saw by the faces of the other three that that was just what
they wanted. Texas especially was twitching his fingers nervously and
looking as if he were wishing for some yearling to tackle right then and
there.

"I tell you what we'll do, Mark," he broke out, suddenly. "We'll tie
ourselves together an' sleep that way, an' then if they take one they'll
have to take all."

"That's quite an idea," said the other, laughing. "But the main point
now is just this: We're to set out with only one idea in our heads to
think of; perhaps it might be well to offer a prize to the fellow who
thinks of the best scheme. We want to keep those cadets fairly on the
jump from the start."

"Bully!" cried Texas.

"And it seems to me, moreover," continued the leader, "that we make a
big mistake if we let this day pass without doing something."

"Yea, by Zeus!" vowed the Parson, his solemn face glowing with interest.
"For this day is the day of all days in the calendar of Freedom. This
day is the day when our immortal colonies did vow and declare that the
dragon of tyranny they would trample beneath their feet. This day is the
day when first the eagle screamed, when humanity cast off its fetters
and stood in the light of God's truth. This day is the glorious Fourth
of July!"

The Parson had arisen to his feet, the better to illustrate the casting
off of the fetters, and his long black hair was waving wildly and his
long white arms yet more so. Boston and Boston "liberty" were dangerous
topics with him; he got more excited over them than he did when he found
his immortal cyathophylloid coral "in a sandstone of Tertiary origin."

"Yea, by Zeus!" he continued. "Such are the auspices, the hallowed
recollections of this immortal moment that I verily believe no
revolution can fail on it. I say that if ever we strike boldly, we do it
to-day. And I, as a citizen of Boston, pledge my aid to any plan."

"Yaas. An' we got a half holiday to-day, tew."

This rather prosaic peroration to the Parson's speech came from one
corner, where Sleepy sat lazily regarding the scene. That was the first
hint that the "farmer" had offered, and it had corresponding weight. The
four shook hands on it then and there, that by the time dinner was over
they would have a brand new and startling plan to work for the
yearlings' edification. The signal to fall in for drill found them still
pledging themselves to that.

Mark said nothing more to any one upon the subject; he left his friends
to think for themselves, and he, when he got a chance, started out
likewise on his "own hook." In the first place, it was necessary to find
out just how the yearlings meant to spend that half-holiday afternoon;
having found that, it would then be time to think up a plan for spoiling
the fun.

There was a member of the plebe class who had been a plebe the year
before, that is, who had failed on examinations and had not been
advanced. Naturally, he knew all the yearlings, and, having been through
camp once, knew also what would be apt to happen on the Fourth of July.
Mark himself knew nothing about it, for no one thought it necessary to
tell plebes about such things; and so to this "hold-over" Mark went to
learn.

That gentleman, in response to some diplomatic interrogation, emitted
the information that there was nothing "on." That a ball game had been
intended, but prevented at the last moment. That probably most of the
cadets would go walking, or amuse themselves any way--some of them do a
little hazing. That it was a pleasant custom to make the plebes dress up
in masquerade and give a parade or something. And that finally there was
to be an entertainment in the evening.

What sort? Well, it was dignified and patriotic. There were programmes
issued--not given to plebes, of course. Would Mallory like to see one?
Perhaps he could get one, would see after drill, etc., etc. "Much
obliged. Good-morning."

The affable young gentleman did manage to get Mallory a programme. He
gave it to him just before dinner. "Thank you." "Oh, not at all, only
too glad to oblige you," etc. And Mark rushed into the tent and eagerly
read the handsomely printed pasteboard:

          United States Military Academy.
               July 4th, 8.30 P. M.
                    PROGRAMME.
                    Overture.
                     Prayer.
                     Music.
    Reading of The Declaration of Independence.
      Cadet George T. Fischer, Pennsylvania.
                     Music.
                    Oration.
           Cadet Edmund S. Harris----

Mark read not another word; he stared at the paper in amazement and
incredulity, rapidly changing to glee. Harris! Bull Harris delivering an
oration! Mark turned and faced his companions, feeling about ready to
burst with hilarity.

"Listen here, fellows!" he cried. "Here's a chance, a chance of a
lifetime! Oh, say! Bull's going to make a speech! Gee whiz! We'll----"

"Didn't you fellows know about that?" put in a voice in the doorway, as
Dewey's face appeared there. "I heard the yearlings talking about it.
They say Bull's a fine orator, that he's been working at an elegant
speech for months. And, b'gee, he means to bring down the house."

Mark's face was simply a picture of merriment at that.

"Fellows," he said, as soon as he could manage to get breath to say
anything at all. "Fellows, I'll go you just one bargain more."

"What is it?" cried the others.

"It's very simple. It's just that we spoil that beautiful speech of Bull
Harris', if we have to bust to do it."

And the seven cried "Done!" in one breath.



CHAPTER III.

A NEW ALLY.


The more they thought over that scheme the better they liked it; the
more they imagined Bull Harris, pompous and self-conscious, spouting his
magnificent periods and then brought to an ignominious and ridiculous
conclusion, the more they chuckled with glee. They felt no prickings of
conscience in the matter, for Bull was not a personage to inspire such.
His devices had been cowardly and desperate; only last night he had been
on the point of lashing Mark with a rope when the latter was helplessly
tied to a tree. With such a man ordinary standards of fairness did not
hold good.

The only trouble with the "scheme" was its general indefiniteness. And
that the seven recognized. It was all very well to say you were going to
"bust up" Bull Harris' speech. But how? It would not do to guy him, or
to use any device of which the authors might be found out. It was quite
a problem.

Texas suggested an alarm of fire, which was outvoted as dangerous,
likely to produce a panic. Some one else wondered how about kidnaping
Bull and tying him up. This suggestion was put on file as being
possible, to be consulted in case no better appeared, which bid fair
just then to be the case.

Mark and his friends marched down to dinner without any further ideas
appearing. The plebes still marched separate from the rest of the corps,
though they were allowed to share the privilege of the spirited band
which enlivened the proceedings. They still sat at separate tables, too,
which made most of them feel very much outcast indeed.

The command "Break ranks," after the march from mess hall again, marked
the beginning of that holiday during which the seven had vowed to do so
much. And still nobody had seemed to hit upon any suitable plan for the
discomfiture of Bull Harris.

"We've got to hurry up about it, too," Mark declared. "For, if there's
any fixing up to be done, we ought to be doing it now."

"Where's the thing to be, anyway?" inquired Dewey.

"In the big gymnasium building, they say," was the answer. "They'll
probably cover the floor with seats. But I don't think we can do
anything inside the place. I think we ought to kick up some sort of
rumpus outside."

And with this advice the seven heads got to work again.

Ideas come slowly when you want them badly. It would seem that with
those seven minds busy on the same subject something should have
resulted. But it didn't. The seven strolled away from camp and wandered
about the grounds cudgeling their brains and calling themselves names
for their stupidity. And still no plan came forward.

They strolled down to the gymnasium building in hopes that proximity to
the scene itself would prove efficacious. They stared at the vestibule
and the windows blankly, wondering what the place might be like inside,
wondering if there would be much of a crowd, wondering if Bull would
have much of a speech--wondering about everything except the matter in
hand.

"Plague take it all!" they muttered. "Let's walk out Professor's Row and
find some quiet place to sit down. Perhaps we can think better sitting."

Professor's Row is a street that bounds the parade ground on the west.
It is cool and shady, with benches and camp chairs on the lawn. But
there were plenty of people to occupy the seats, and so the seven found
no place there to cogitate.

They had not gotten much farther before all ideas of plots and orations
were driven from Mark's head a-flying. They were passing a group of
people standing on the opposite side of the street, and suddenly one of
them, a girl, hurried away from the others, and cried out:

"Mr. Mallory! Oh, Mr. Mallory!"

Mark turned the moment he heard the voice, and, when he saw who it was,
he promptly excused himself from his friends and crossed the street. The
six strolled on, smiling and winking knowingly at one another.

"Hope he'll remember what Wicks Merritt said, b'gee!" laughed Dewey.

Mark had no time to remember anything much. He was too busy, watching
the vision that was hurrying to meet him.

Grace Fuller certainly was a beautiful girl, beyond a doubt. She was a
blonde of the fairest type; her complexion was matchless, and set off by
a wealth of wavy golden hair. She was dressed in white, and made a
picture that left no room to wonder why "half the cadets in the place
were wild over her."

"I'm glad I swam out to save her," was the thought in Mark's mind.

A moment later he took the small white hand that was held out to him.

"Mr. Mallory," said the girl, gazing at him earnestly, "I shall not wait
for any one to introduce you to me. I must tell you that I appreciate
your bravery."

Mark bowed and thanked her; he could think of nothing more to say.

"They just let me out of the hospital to-day," she continued, "and I
made up my mind that the very first thing I was going to do was to tell
you what I thought of your courageous action on my behalf. I want to
know you better, Mr. Mallory."

She said it in a plain and simple way that Mark liked, and he told her
that nothing would please him more.

"I would ask you to take a walk with me now," said Grace, "but for all
those cadets who are with me. I don't think they'd relish that, you
being a fourth class man."

"I don't think they would," responded Mark, with a queer smile which the
girl did not fail to notice.

"I don't care!" she exclaimed, suddenly. "They can get mad if they want
to. I think a great deal more of some plebes than I do of yearlings.
Excuse me just a moment."

And then, to Mark's infinite glee, this beautiful creature hurried over
and said something to the group of cadets, at which they all bowed and
walked off rather stiffly, sheepishly, Mark thought. The girl rejoined
him, with a smile.

"I told them they'd have to excuse me," she said, as she took Mark's
arm. "I told them I owed you a debt of gratitude, and I hoped they
wouldn't mind."

"Probably they won't," observed Mark, smiling again.

"I don't care if they do," vowed Grace, pouting prettily. "They'll get
over it. And they're awfully stupid, anyway. I hope you're not stupid."

With which Mark quite naturally agreed.

"I don't think the cadets like you much," she went on, laughing. "I had
such fun teasing them by talking about your heroism. They didn't like it
a bit, and they'd try all sorts of ways to change the subject, but I
wouldn't let them. They say you are terribly B. J. Are you?"

"I suppose they think so," answered Mark. "I'm nothing like as B. J. as
I shall be before I get through."

"That's right!" vowed the girl, shaking her head. "I like B. J. plebes.
I think I should be B. J. if I were a plebe. I don't like these mild,
obedient fellows, and I think the plebes stand entirely too much."

"I wish you were one to help me," laughed Mark, noticing the contrast
between the girl's frail figure and her energetic look.

"I'm stronger than you think," said she. "I could do a lot." And then
suddenly she broke into one of her merry, animated laughs, during which
Mark thought her more charming than ever. "If I can't fight," she said,
"you must let me be a Daughter of the Revolution. You must let me make
clothes and bake bread the way the colonists' daughters did. It's just
appropriate for to-day, too."

"I don't want any bread----" began Mark, looking at her thoughtfully.

"Perhaps not," she put in, with a peal of laughter. "If you saw the
bread I make, you'd be still more emphatic. It's like the fruit of the
tree of knowledge--'Whoso eateth thereof shall surely die.'"

"I see you read the Bible," said Mark, laughing. "But to get back where
I was. I'll let the tailor make my clothes, also. What I need most just
now are tricks to play on the yearlings."

"Do you?" inquired Grace. "I can tell you of lots of tricks the cadets
have played. But that's the first time I ever heard of a plebe playing
tricks on yearlings. It's usually the other way."

"Variety is the spice of life," said Mark. "The yearlings have tried
rather contemptible tricks on me once or twice, very contemptible! I
could tell you what several of those cadets who were with you did to me
last night, and I think you'd be angry. Anyway, I'm going to make them
miserable in return."

"I helped the yearlings get up a beautiful joke last year," said Grace,
looking at Mark in ill-concealed admiration. "Wicks Merritt was the
ringleader. He wrote to me, by the way, and told me to be very nice to
you now that you'd saved my life--just as if he thought I wouldn't!
Anyway, I got them some powder to use for the scheme."

"Powder!" echoed Mark. "How did you get powder?"

"They couldn't manage to run off with any around here, so I got George
to buy some. George is our butler. You'll see George when you come over
to visit me, which I hope you will."

"I thought you lived across the river, beyond cadet limits," put in
Mark.

"So I do, but the cadets come, all the same, lots of them."

"So will I, then!" laughed the other. "But you haven't told me what you
did with the powder."

"Do you see that big gun over there?" she answered, indicating Trophy
Point. "Well, they stood that upon end and fired it off late one night.
Wasn't that a fine joke?"

"Ye-es," said Mark, very slowly. "Ye-es, it was."

He was staring at the girl, a look as of an inspiration on his face.

"They stood that gun up on end and fired it off late one night," he
repeated, scarcely heeding what he was saying, so rapt was he in his
thought.

"Yes," said Grace, gazing at him curiously, and meeting his eyes. "Yes.
Why?"

Mark studied her look for a moment; he saw mischief and fun dancing in
it, and, in a moment more, he had made up his mind.

"Tell me, Miss Fuller," he said, speaking very low. "Would you--would
you like to have 'George' buy some more powder?"

"More powder!" she echoed. "What do you----"

And then she caught the gleam in her escort's eye.

"Are you--do you mean you want to do it?" she cried.

"Yes," said Mark, simply. "Will you help?"

"Yes, yes!"

"Do you mean it?"

"I'll give you my hand on it," responded Grace.

Mark took it.

"When?" asked she.

And Mark answered, with a laugh, almost a shout of triumph.

"To-night!" he said. "To-night! Ye gods!"



CHAPTER IV.

A SURPRISE FOR THE SEVEN.


Six disconsolate plebes sat on a bench at the extreme northern end of
Professor's Row late that afternoon, gazing unappreciatively at the
magnificent view of the upper Hudson. Those plebes had been cudgeling
their stupid heads ever since dinner time to no purpose.

"Durnation!" growled one of them. "I dunno what we air goin' to do. Mark
won't let us blow up the durnation ole building. He won't let me hold up
the crowd, cuz they'd expel me. He don't want to kidnap Bull, cuz Bull
would tell. I dunno what!"

"B'gee!" added another. "I wish he'd come help us think instead of
chasing around town with girls. He's been with her all afternoon----"

"Here they come now!" interrupted Texas, pointing down the street.

"Yea, by Zeus!" assented the Parson. "And our friend is much smitten
already."

"Who wouldn't be?" laughed Dewey. "Isn't she a beauty, though? B'gee, I
wish he'd bring her over and introduce her."

"Reckon she ain't a-hankerin' after plebes," drawled Sleepy, who, as
usual, had half the bench for his tired form to cover.

This observation put a damper on Dewey's enthusiasm. It was true, and,
besides that, it came from the silent member of the firm.

"She's beautiful, all the same," he vowed, as the two drew nearer still.
"And, b'gee, she seems to be lively, too."

"If I mistake not," put in the Parson, gravely, "our friend is vastly
excited over something."

This last observation seemed to be correct. The two were laughing; in
fact, their faces seemed to express about as much glee as they could
very well express, and once Mark was seen to slap his knee excitedly.
The six were carried away by curiosity, which curiosity changed suddenly
to the wildest alarm. For when the two were just opposite, what must
Mark do but turn and lead the girl over to his friends?

The effect upon the latter was amusing. Chauncey made a wild grab for
his collar to see if it were straight; Sleepy sat up and rubbed his
eyes; the Parson cleared his throat--"ahem!" Indian gave vent to a
startled "Bless my soul!" Dewey exclaimed "b'gee!" and poor Texas turned
pale and trembled in his bold cowboy legs.

A moment later the vision in white was upon them.

"Miss Fuller," said Mark, "allow me to present my friends," etc., etc.

The Parson inclined his head gravely, with dignity becoming the immortal
discoverer of a cyathophylloid coral in a sandstone of Tertiary origin;
Chauncey put on his best Fifth Avenue salute; Indian gasped and hunted
in vain for his hat; the "farmer" swept the ground with his; Dewey
looked all broke up and Texas hid behind everybody.

There was vague uncertainty after that, changing to horror at the next
speech.

"Miss Fuller," said Mark, smiling, "has proclaimed herself an ardent
sympathizer and admirer of the purposes and principles of the Banded
Seven. Miss Fuller desires to be known as a 'Daughter of the
Revolution.' Miss Fuller knows about Bull Harris, and doesn't like him,
and suggests a first-rate method of busting--if you will pardon my
slang, Miss Fuller--to-night's celebration. Miss Fuller likes to hear
cannon go off at night. She offers to procure the powder if we will do
the loading; she even offers to fire it, if we'll allow her. Also,
gentlemen, allow me to propose member number eight of the seven, and
incidentally to suggest that the name Banded Seven be changed and that
in future we go down to posterity as----"

Mark paused one solemn moment, and cleared his throat----

"The Banded Seven and One Angel!"

And after that there was a deep, long, wide, and altogether
comprehensive silence, while the six stared at Mark and his thoroughly
amused friend in incredulity, amazement, alarm, horror--who can say
what?

It was fully a minute before any of them found breath. And then a
perfect torrent of Bah Joves! Durnations! B'gees! Bless my souls! and By
Zeuses! burst out upon the air, to be followed by another silence even
longer and larger than the last.

What on earth had happened! The six couldn't seem to get it through
their heads. Could it be possible that this girl, the belle of West
Point, the beauty over whom half the cadets were wild, the daughter of a
famous judge, was sympathizing with a few, poor, miserable plebes in an
effort to upset West Point? And that she had actually offered to help
them in a trick, the boldness of which was enough to make the boldest
hesitate? Good stars! The world must be coming to an end! No wonder the
amazed plebes gasped and stared, and then stared and gasped, unable to
believe that they stood on the same earth as half a minute previously.

Mark and his companion, who understood their perplexity entirely, and
who seemed to have gotten amazingly in sympathy during a brief
afternoon's conversation, stood and regarded them meanwhile with
considerable amusement.

Well, it must be true! Mark said so, and the girl heard him and seemed
to say "yes" with her laughing blue eyes.

That was the conviction which finally forced itself upon the incredulous
and befuddled six, and with it came a dim, undefined consciousness of
the fact that possibly they were not doing the very politest thing in
the world in staring at their "angel."

First to realize it was Texas, last of all to whom one would have looked
for any species of gallantry.

Texas sprang forward and seized the girl's fair white hand in his own
mighty paw.

"Hi, Miss Fuller!" he cried, "I'm glad to have you join! Whoop!"

Which broke the ice.



CHAPTER V.

THE SCHEME SUCCEEDS.


Dress parade in all its Fourth of July holiday splendor had passed, and
the sunset gun marked the ending of that day of celebration. Through the
dusk of evening the battalion had marched back from supper, to the tune
of "Marching Through Georgia" from the band and the popping of sundry
small firecrackers from mischievous small boys on the way. And then the
cadets had scattered, still in their dress uniforms, each to join his
own party of friends and go to the evening's entertainment.

Cadets are famous as "ladies' men," and during the gay holiday season,
which was now on, West Point was crowded with girls, so that every cadet
had his opportunities for gallantry, excepting, of course, the plebes,
who do not go into "society."

As the hour approached, the big gymnasium hall took on a lively aspect.
It ceased to be a gymnasium for a while; rings and trapezes were hung
up, and rows of seats occupied the floor, instead of parallel bars. The
big West Point Band was seated in front, and the rest of the room was
devoted to pretty girls and their cadet escorts. The Fourth of July
celebration was a cadet affair; the "president" occupied the small
platform in solitary grandeur; the commandant and his staff were
present, but they sat among the audience.

The plebes were there, too, on sufferance. The gallery was given up to
their use, and they filled it entirely, and gazed on the scene below.
The room with its decorations of flags and bunting, making them feel
very patriotic indeed.

The plebes we are interested in were there with the rest. They sat off
in one corner where they could whisper and keep their secret all to
themselves. If any one had overheard them, which they took good care
should not happen, he would have learned, to his amazement, that the
night's plot was all perfected. He might have learned that "George" had
done his duty with fully as much delight as any of the Seven.

He might have learned that having been taken into the secret "George"
had not only gotten the powder, but had volunteered to do the work
himself, to save the seven "young gintlemen" all danger of discovery. He
might have learned that down in a secluded woody hollow just east of
camp lay three big siege guns in "Battery Knox," loaded and stuffed to
the muzzle with powder and paper and rags.

There was lots more he might have learned. He might have learned that at
the present moment the jolly, red-faced butler was lurking about the
neighborhood of the Battery, anxiously surveying his watch at intervals
of every minute or so, waiting for half-past nine, the precise minute
when he was to touch off the fuse and run. Also that Grace was down with
her father, in the audience, occasionally stealing a sly glance at Mark;
also that Mark was bearing a good deal of merry banter upon his
conquest; also that the Seven, having spent two hours or so with Grace,
were vowing her the most original, daring and altogether charming girl
that ever was anywhere, a most undoubtable and valuable ally of Mark and
his anti-hazing society.

The seven were about as nervous and anxious as seven plebes could
possibly be. What if "George" should be found out? What if the guns
should not go off? It was such a colossal and magnificent plot that the
mere thought of its failure was enough to make one's hair turn gray.
What if the thing should begin too late, the guns go off before Bull
started? Or on the other hand, suppose his speech was short and he
shouldn't be interrupted!

Mark had calculated the time carefully. He had allowed five minutes for
the "prelude." But suppose it should be longer, or shorter, or should
begin after eight-thirty? As the hour drew near Mark and his friends
sat and wriggled in their seats and glanced at their watches and----

"It's half past now," growled Texas. "Durnation, it's a minute after
that! Ain't they ever--ah!"

The bandmaster arose from his seat, and raised his baton in the air. It
was the "Star Spangled Banner," and the sound shook the flags that
graced the walls and shook the hearts of the audience, too, and made
them rise as one man.

  "'Tis the Star Spangled Banner
      And long may it wave.
    O'er the land of the free
      And the home of the brave!"

The notes died out and the Seven remembered that for a moment they had
forgotten to be nervous.

The grave young chaplain arose, and raised his hands. His prayer was
earnest, and his voice trembled as he spoke of the flag and its country.
But alas! our friends had no eye or ear for beauty. It was time--time!
Would he take more than the calculated five minutes? It was time for him
to stop! Plague take it--six!--six and a half!--ah! There he had said
"Finally," no, he was going off on another tack! Gee whiz--eight--thank
heavens!

The sigh of relief that came at last from the Seven almost shook the
roof.

Then came "music;" that had been problematical. Music might mean
anything from two minutes to twenty. But there is no need of torturing
the reader, even if the seven were tortured correspondingly. The piece
took some ten minutes of agony, and then Cadet Captain Fischer stepped
forward on the platform.

Fischer was an immensely popular man with his class, and they applauded
him to the echo. He looked handsome, too, in his chevrons and sash. He
read "The Declaration of Independence," and he read it in the voice that
had made him first captain, a voice that was clear and deep and ringing,
a voice that sounded in the open above the thunder and rattle of
artillery drill, and that sounded still better in the hall, as it spoke
the words that had made a continent tremble.

There was nothing in that to worry the Seven--they had gotten a copy of
the "Declaration" and practiced it by the watch. Fischer finished on
schedule time; but then came the tussle. And some poor plebes up in the
gallery nearly had apoplexy from waiting.

There were fifteen minutes left. That allowed say ten minutes for the
music, and five for Bull to get warmed up to his work.

The bandmaster arose; he played "Hail Columbia." The audience, wild with
fervor, stormed and shouted; he played it again. The minutes fled by.
The Seven gasped! The audience kept up their applause, and the music
struck up "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," while the time fled yet faster
still.

Great heavens! and still the fools--the fools!--in that crowd clapped
and waved handkerchiefs--would they never stop, would they never let
Bull step forward? He was dying to. The Seven could see him in his seat,
half-risen, waiting doubtless as impatiently as they. And still the
people wouldn't behave themselves.

Bull rose up. Ah, at last. There was a cessation in the infernal racket!
The amount of torture the plebes suffered during those brief moments
cannot be told. The gun might go off at any moment now! It might go off
before Bull started, might ruin the whole thing. Plague take him, what
made him walk so slowly? Would he never get up on that platform? And the
foolish audience, why didn't they stop and let him start? What did they
want to be applauding that ugly old yearling for? And why didn't he stop
that fool bowing and scraping? Some people are such chumps!

The applause stopped at last. An expectant hush fell upon the crowd.
Bull Harris stood pompous and self-conscious, gazing upon the scene for
a moment, and then began. The Seven gasped: "We've got him."

"Ladies and Gentlemen: We have assembled upon this memorable occasion to
celebrate (Now let that gun go, b'gee!) one of the most glorious
achievements (You bet we have!) that ever was attained by man. We have
assembled (What on earth's the matter with "George?") to applaud with
the voices of the present, words that echo from memories of the past,
(Can his watch have stopped?) words that will ring through the halls of
time (Plague take the luck!) as long as time shall be counted in the
heart throbs of living men. The deeds of our ancestors live in the----"

At last!

With a boom and a rattle and a crash gun No. 1 of Battery Knox thundered
out upon the still night air. Bull stopped in amazement; the audience
sprang up in alarm; the seven shrieked--silently--for joy. And then----

Boom!

It was No. 2. The room rang with shouts of confusion; cadets stared and
ran hastily about; women cried out in alarm.

Boom!

It was No. 3, and at the same instant from a hundred throats came the
dreaded cry of "Fire!"

Three guns is West Point's fire alarm. Quick as a flash, before the
audience had time to think of flight, of panic, the commandant of cadets
sprang to the platform.

"Company fire battalion form on the street outside, immediately!"

At the same moment, in response to a command from outside, a drum
orderly sounded the "long roll." The band struck up a quick march, and
tramp, tramp, tramp, the grave cadets marched out of the hall,
forgetting friends and entertainment, forgetting everything in the one
important thought--discipline--obedience to orders.

And in half a minute more the gymnasium was empty; the street was
crowded with the anxious audience, and the battalion was tramping
steadily across the parade ground in a vain search for an imaginary
fire.

In that battalion were seven wildly delighted plebes. They hugged
themselves for joy; they gasped, choked with repressed laughter. They
punched each other in the ribs and whispered:

"Didn't we do it? Oh, didn't we do it? Three cheers for the Banded
Seven--B. B. J.!"

The fire, of course was not found. Near camp the corps halted, to wait
for the person who fired the alarm guns to come out and lead the way. He
didn't do it, and gradually it began to dawn upon the commandant and the
assembled "tacs" that the whole thing was a hoax. "And then indeed the
Philistines were wroth."

Captain Quincey, the commandant, stepped to the head of the line,
determined to investigate the matter on the spot. Roll call disclosed
the fact that no one was absent; that made him think the guns were fired
with a time fuse, and so he tried another way to find out the culprits.

It is not good form in West Point to lie; cadets who do soon find
themselves cut by the class. So Captain Quincey, knowing that, gave this
order:

"Parties who fired those guns will remain standing. Those who are
innocent will advance one step. March!"

Now that any plebe had dared to do such a bold trick had never occurred
to the cadets. They were convinced that some of their number were
guilty, and they protected them in the usual way. Not a man moved. They
refused to obey the order.

The commandant was furious, of course. He tried it the other way,
ordered the guilty ones to advance. Whereupon the whole corps stepped
forward to share the blame. To punish them he tried the dodge of keeping
them standing at attention for half an hour or so, but several dropped
from well-feigned exhaustion, which stopped that scheme.

He ordered one of the "tacs" to march them around the parade ground. The
cadets, who were out for fun by this time and angry besides, guyed the
unpopular "tac" with a vengeance. It was too dark for him to distinguish
any one, and so every one obeyed orders wrong, producing chaos and
finally compelling him to summon the commandant to preserve order.

With the commandant watching, those weary cadets marched for an hour
more. Then he asked some questions and again got no answers. And finally
in disgust he sent them off to their tents, most of them still puzzled
as to who did it, some of them wild with joy.

These last were the Banded Seven--"B. B. J."



CHAPTER VI.

WHAT MARK OVERHEARD.


"Now, captain, there are no two ways about it, this business has got to
stop, and stop right where it is."

The speaker was Colonel Harvey, superintendent of the West Point
Military Academy. He was sitting in the guardhouse tent of the camp and
talking to Captain Quincey.

"Yes," he repeated, slapping his leg for emphasis, "it's got to stop."

"I quite agree with you, colonel," responded the other, deprecatingly.
"Quite. But the only question is to find out the offenders."

"If the offenders are not found out," cried the other, "I shall punish
the whole class until they confess. Discipline shall not be laughed at
while I am in command of this academy. And that is just exactly what
that matter amounts to."

"It certainly does seem," admitted the other, "that the yearling class
has such an idea in mind."

"Never since I have been here has a class of yearlings dared to
celebrate their release from plebehood by such a set of lawless acts. It
began the very first night that the plebes entered camp. I do not know
what had been going on before that, but the yearlings had evidently
become entirely reckless of consequences, and careless of discovery.
They woke the camp by a series of outrageous noises; one of them fired
off a gun, I believe."

"Lieutenant Allen," put in the other, "told me that he made an
investigation on the spot and could find nothing suspicious."

"The yearlings had probably seen to it that he wouldn't. Then night
before last Lieutenant Allen, who was again on duty, reported to me
personally that he was awakened about midnight by a shout, and going
outside of his tent found that about half the cadets had been out of bed
and over in Fort Clinton, probably hazing some one. They were all
rushing back to camp; he says that it was so dark he could recognize no
one."

"It is perfectly outrageous!" exclaimed the commandant.

"It has got to be stopped, too," vowed the other. "That incident of the
gun last night capped the climax. I have heard of the cadets playing
that prank before, loading one of the guns and firing it at night. But
this time they did it for the evident purpose of breaking up the
entertainment, and moreover, they fired three so as to make people think
it was an alarm of fire. I think myself that was carrying the matter a
trifle too far. And as I said, I propose to see that it is punished."

The above was meant to be private. Neither the superintendent nor the
commandant meant that their conversation should reach any one but
themselves. There was one other auditor, however, and it was Mark.

He was a sentry and his beat lay by the tent. As he paced up and down
every word that was said was audible to him.

Early that same morning, after having been spruced up and polished by
his friends, he had turned out and received an elaborate set of
instructions from a yearling corporal. Now he was putting them into
effect during his two hours' turn "on guard."

One of his instructions had been silence. Yet he was only human--and as
the angry remarks of the high and mighty Colonel Harvey reached his ears
it must be confessed that between chuckles and grins he was far from
silent indeed. And a few minutes later when he was relieved from duty
till his next turn, he rushed off with unconcealed excitement to his
tent.

There were three seated therein; and Mark greeted them with a burst of
long-repressed merriment.

"Hello, fellows!" he cried. "Oh, say, I've got the greatest news of the
century!"

"What's up?" they inquired eagerly.

"I thought I'd die laughing," responded Mark. "You know all the tricks
we've been playing on the yearlings? Well, I just overheard the
superintendent talking to the commandant of cadets and he's blamed it
all on the yearlings."

"What?"

"Yes, I heard it. And he may punish them. You see, it's always the
yearlings who have played pranks before. The plebes have never dared.
And so the superintendent doesn't think of blaming us. Isn't that fine?
And, oh, say! won't the yearlings be mad!"

The Parson arose solemnly to his feet.

"Yea, by Zeus," said he. "Gentlemen, I propose three cheers for the
Banded Seven."

They were given with a will--and in a whisper.

"Wow!" roared Texas. "An' to think that the ole man--Colonel Harvey, if
you please--went an' blamed the firin' o' them guns on the yearlin's!
Whoop! Say, didn't it come out great? It scared the place most blue; an'
that coward, Bull Harris, the feller that wanted to lick Mark when he
was tied to a tree, had his ole speech busted up in the middle, too.
Whoop!"

"I think," laughed Mark, "I shall have to go around and carry this news
to Grace Fuller."

That remark started Texas on another speech no less vehement.

"I tell you, sah, she's a treasure!" he vowed. "Jes' think of a girl
that had sense enough to think up that air scheme fo' firin' the gun an'
nerve enough to offer to do it, too. An' she's jined with us to bust
them ole yearlings. Whoop! It's all on account o' Mark, though."

"Yea, by Zeus," put in the Parson, gravely. "As I have said before, our
friend is much smitten, and she likewise. I do not blame her, since he
saved her life."

A rattle of drums interrupted the conversation just then, summoning the
plebes to drill. Mark alone had an hour of leisure, he having been on
guard duty, and during that hour having secured a permit, he set out for
the hotel in search for the object of all their talk.

Grace Fuller was sitting on the piazza as he approached. She was dressed
in white and the color just seemed to set off the brightness and beauty
of her complexion. She greeted her friend with one of her pleasant
smiles that seemed to make every one near her feel happy.

"Come up and sit down," she said. "I've been waiting for you all
morning. I'm just dying to have some one to talk to about our adventure
last night."

Mark ascended the steps with alacrity and took a seat. And for the next
half hour the two talked about nothing else but their glorious triumph,
and the way they had fooled everybody, and how mad the commandant was,
and how puzzled the cadets.

"I suppose you noticed," said the girl, "that George was about two
minutes late? Well, it seems there were two people sitting on one of the
guns, and he didn't know what to do. He waited and waited, and finally
crept up and lit the fuse and ran. The gun went off while those two were
sitting on it."

There was a hearty laugh over this rather ludicrous picture.

And then a few moment's silence, during which the girl gazed
thoughtfully into space.

"I've got something important to tell you, by the way," she said,
suddenly. "Last night the cadets all thought one of themselves had
played the joke. Well, it seems that they've found out since."

"They have! How do you know?"

"I was talking to Corporal Jasper this morning. Jasper's a mighty nice
boy, only he thinks he's a man. All the yearlings are that way, so
pompous and self-conscious! I think plebes are delicious for a change. I
told Mr. Jasper that and he didn't like it a bit. Anyhow, they must have
inquired among themselves and found out that nobody in their class had
anything to do with it. For the 'corporal'--ahem!--was pretty sure you
were the guilty one, and he said the class was mad as hops about it."

"That's good," laughed Mark, rubbing his hands gleefully. "Perhaps we'll
have some fun now."

"You will. That's just the point. I don't know that I ought to tell you
this, but I didn't promise Mr. Jasper I wouldn't, and I suppose my
duties as a member of the Seven are paramount to all others."

"Yes," responded Mark, "we'll expel you if you play us false. But don't
keep me in suspense. What's all this about?"

"I like to get you excited," laughed the girl, teasingly. "I think I'll
hold off a while so as to be sure you're interested, so as to make you
realize the importance of what I have to say. For you must know that
this is a really important plot that I've discovered, a plot that
will----"

"I think it is going to rain," remarked the cadet, gazing off dreamily
into space. "I hope it will not, because it is liable to damage the corn
crop, the farmers say that----"

"I'll give up," laughed the girl. "I'll tell you right away. You are to
be on sentry duty to-night, aren't you?"

"Yes," said Mark, "I am. I wouldn't be here now if I were not."

"And your post is No. 3, isn't it?"

"Yes! How did you know?"

"All this is what my small boy friend the corporal told me. You see that
my information comes right from headquarters. I suppose you know that
Post No. 3 runs along Fort Clinton ditch."

"But what's that got to do with the plot?" cried Mark.

"Everything. The plot is to 'dump' you, as the slang has it."

"Dump me?"

"Yes; take away your gun and roll you head over heels into the mud."

"Oh!" responded Mark, thoughtfully, "I see. Take my gun away and roll me
head over heels into the mud. Well, well!"

There was a silence for a few moments after that during which Mark
tapped the chair reflectively.

"Are you going to let them do it?" inquired Grace at last.

"From what you know of me," inquired he, "do you suppose I will?"

"Hardly."

"And I won't, either. I think the yearlings that try it will have some
fun. I only hope there are enough of them."

"There will be," said the girl. "There'll be three."

"I'm very glad you told me," said Mark, "very. I'm beginning to perceive
that our ally will be a very serviceable ally indeed."

"She will be faithful anyway," said the girl. "The Daughters of the
Revolution always are. She has a debt of gratitude to pay to the chief
rebel which she will not very soon forget; and she hopes he will not,
either."

Whereupon Mark bowed and arose to take his leave.

"I must get back to camp," he explained, "to tell the Seven about this
new plan. We shall find a way to circumvent it, I think; we always do.
And I'll promise you that the yearlings who 'dump' me will have a very
lively evening of it. Good-by."

And Mark left.

Now it must be explained that the plebes had lately been given guns.

The instruction in marching, halting, etc., which they had gotten in
barracks was supplemented by all sorts of evolutions, and by drill in
the manual of arms.

This latter of course necessitated guns; and great was the joy of the
ambitious and warlike plebe on the momentous day that "guns" were given
out. The guns were regulation army muskets, heavy beyond imagination. So
the plebe soon wished he hadn't wished for them. Besides drilling with
them, which he found harder work than digging trenches, he had to clean
them daily; and cleaning a gun under the watchful eye of a merciless
yearling proved to be a matter of weeping and gnashing of teeth. It had
to be done; for he had a number on his gun, so that he couldn't steal
his neighbor's well-cleaned one; and if his own wasn't clean he got
into trouble at the very next inspection.

Besides the three drills a day, there were other duties galore. There
was policing twice a day, "policing" meaning the sweeping clean of the
acre or two of ground within the limits of Camp McPherson. Then also
there was "guard-mounting."

Guard-mounting is the daily ceremony of placing the sentries about the
camp; the cadets who go on duty then remain until the following morning.
This ceremony has already been described within the pages of this
series; it will have much to do with our present story.

The plebes of course were not put on guard until they had been fairly
well trained in other duties. They had to know how to march, halt,
salute, present arms, etc. Also they had to be accoutered in their dress
uniforms, which were issued about this time.

Mark Mallory had been notified to report for guard duty that morning,
greatly to the joy of his friends, the Seven, who had rubbed and
polished him till he shone. He had "fallen in" at the summons and
received a long and appalling list of instructions from his corporal.
Then he had been put on Post No. 3 for his first tour of duty.

The sentries about the camp march for two hours, and then have four
hours off duty, thus having eight hours "on" in the twenty. During this
time they speak to no one, except to challenge parties who cross their
beats. This last duty is where the yearlings have all the fun with the
new plebe.

"Deviling" sentries is an old, old amusement at West Point. The plebe
goes on duty, solemn and anxious, awed to silence and gravity by the
sternness of his superiors. He is proud of his important office and
thoroughly resolved to do his duty, come what may, and to die in the
last ditch. He seizes his gun resolutely; feels of the bayonet point
valiantly; puts on his sternest and most forbidding look; strides forth
with a step that is bold and unwavering. And the yearlings "don't do a
thing" to him.

What they did to Mark and his friends will be described later on.



CHAPTER VII.

MARK'S COUNTERPLOT.


Mark returned to the camp to find his six friends just returned from
drill and enjoying a brief respite until the summons came for their next
duty. He gathered them together in solemn conclave, and then in whisper
imparted to them the information he had just received from the "angel."

The effects of Mark's announcement upon his friends varied considerably
with each.

Indian was terrified beyond measure; the possibility of such tricks
being tried upon him, too, made his fat eyes bulge. Texas, on the other
hand, was wild with excitement and joy, and a little good-natured envy.

"Wow! Mark," he cried. "Why is it you always have all the fun? Them ole
cadets always go fo' you; nobody else kin ever do anything. Ef them
fellers don't git roun' to me some day I'm goin' off an' raise a rumpus
some other way."

"What'll you do?" inquired Mark, laughing.

"I'll go off'n git on a roarin' ole spree!" vowed the other, solemnly.
"An' I'll ride into this yere ole camp an' raise such a rumpus as it
ain't ever seen afore. Jes' you watch me now! What you fellers
a-laughin' at?"

"I'm sorry I can't let you go on in my place," said Mark, smiling. "Or
perhaps I'll let you come out and help me 'do' them when they tackle
me."

Texas was somewhat mollified by that; and then the Seven settled down to
a serious discussion of the situation.

"Fellows," said Mark, "I want to tell you something. You know I'm
getting tired of the notion those yearlings have in their heads, that
they can haze us without its costing them anything. Now I've been
thinking this business over and I've got an idea. If they try to dump me
to-night I'm going to fool them and I'm going to fix it so that they'll
be the laughingstock of the corps. After I get through with them then
we'll go dump some of their sentries instead. And now, what I want to
know is, will you help me?"

"Help you!" gasped the others, excitedly. "Help you! What are we banded
for?"

"Oo-oo!" wailed Indian. "I can't. I'll be on duty, too! And suppose they
attack me! Bless my soul!"

"You'll have to fight your own battle!" laughed Mark. "They won't try
anything very desperate on you. But now let me tell you of my plot."

The six gathered about him to listen to his whispered instructions.
From the contortions their faces went through one would have supposed
they liked the scheme. And in the end Mark, finding that it met with
approval, sat down and wrote a brief note:

      "DEAR MISS FULLER: We have a plan to punish those
      yearlings, and we want you to help us once more. Ask
      George, the butler, to go down to Highland Falls and
      buy us a quart of peroxide of hydrogen. The Parson
      says it must be very strong, a ninety per cent.
      saturated solution. We'll explain to you afterward
      what we want the stuff for. Please do not fail us.

      "Your friend,

      "MARK MALLORY."

They sealed that note and put it together with a coin into the hands of
a drum orderly. And after that there was nothing to do but wait in
suspense and impatience for the momentous hours of evening, when the
yearling class was to make one more effort to subdue "the B. J.-est
plebe that ever struck the place."

Night came, as night always does, no matter how anxiously it is waited
for. Mark and his friend Indian went on guard that afternoon from two to
four; and soon after that came dress parade and the sunset gun, then
supper and finally darkness at last. With eight o'clock the two went on
once more.

Though Mark did not once relax his vigilance during the time from then
till taps he was inclined to think that the attack upon him would not
take place until his next watch, which began at two. For now there were
numbers of people strolling about and hazing was decidedly unsafe. So
sure was he of this that his allies did not even prepare their plot.

Mark's judgment proved to be correct; he marched back and forth along
the path that marked his beat and no one offered to disturb him. What
"deviling" was being done at that hour was of a milder sort, a sort that
was not intended for such B. J. plebes as he.

Among the victims of this, however, was our unfortunate friend Indian.
What happened to Indian happens to nearly all plebes at the present day.
It is our purpose to describe it in this chapter.

Indian was a gullible, innocent sort of a lad; life was a solemn and
serious business with him. Most plebes take their hazing as fun, rather
unpleasant, but still nothing dangerous. With Indian on the other hand
it was torture; he dreaded the yearlings as his mortal enemies, and to
his poor miserable soul everything they did was aimed at his life.

This curious state of affairs the yearlings were not slow to discover,
and the result had been that fully half the hazing that was done had
fallen on the head of this unfortunate plebe. And one may readily
believe that the merry cadets were waiting with indescribable glee for
the first night when poor Joseph Smith turned out on sentry duty.

Sentry duty at the camp is of course a mere formality; no enemies are
expected to attack West Point, and there is no necessity for an
all-night guard. But it was precisely this fact that our friend could
not understand, and that was where the fun came in.

To Indian, the sentry was put on guard to ward off some real and
terrible danger. Everything that happened confirmed this view in his
mind. In the first place the solemnity and businesslike reality he found
in the guard tent impressed him. Then the sepulchral tones of the
corporal who gave him instructions, and who, it may readily be believed,
lost no opportunity to impress the gravity of the situation upon his
charge and to frighten him more and more, strengthened his conviction.
Then they gave him a gun, a heavy, dangerous-looking gun, with a
cold-steel bayonet sharp as a knife, that made him see all sorts of
harrowing visions of himself in the act of plunging it, all bloody, into
the body of some gasping foe.

After that, with all these uncanny ideas in his head, they marched him
solemnly out to his post and left him there alone in the darkness.

Indian's post lay alongside the camp, but in his fright he did not
recognize anything. All he knew was that it ran along a dark deserted
path beneath trees that groaned and creaked in the moonlight. And
Indian paced tremblingly up and down clutching his cold steel gun
nervously, seeing an enemy in every waving shadow and in every tree
stump, hearing one in every distant voice and tread, consoling his mind
with visions of all sorts of horrors, wishing he had some one to talk
to, and wondering if it were not almost ten o'clock and time for that
other sentry to relieve him. The very clanking of his own bayonet
scabbard made this bold young soldier jump.

This continued as the night wore on. Indian strode back and forth losing
heart every moment, and beginning to believe that the relief guard had
forgotten him. Tramp, tramp--and then suddenly he halted, his heart
leaped up and began to thump in a frenzy. Could that be? Yes, surely it
was! Some one was crossing his beat, stealing along in the moonlight!

Half mechanically, Indian obeyed his instructions, brought down his gun
to the charge position and gave the challenge:

"Who goes there?"

The voice was so weak that Indian scarcely heard it. He stood trembling,
to await the answer. When the answer came he was still more mystified.

"The Prince of Wales!" called the intruder.

The Prince of Wales? What on earth was he doing here? Poor Indian had
received no instructions about the Prince of Wales. But he was given no
time to find out, for a step way back at the other end of the post took
him down there on the run, where in response to his second challenge the
ghost of Horace Greeley made itself known. And scarcely had the ghost
been warned away before the confused sentry had to rush back to the
original place to find that the prince had given place to a band of
Potawottamie squaws combined with Julius Caesar and the Second
Continental Congress.

Indian of course should have summoned the corporal of the guard. But in
the alarm he had forgotten everything except that he must challenge
everybody he saw. The result was that the poor lad was kept flying up
and down until nearly dead from exhaustion, challenging ghosts and
colonels, armed parties, patrols, grand rounds, reliefs, and other
things military and otherwise. Occasionally a "friend with the
countersign" would hail, and then inform the rattled sentry that the
countersign was "butter beans," or "Kalamazoo," or "kangaroo," or "any
old thing you please," as one joker told him. Poor Indian was fast being
reduced to a state of nervous prostration.

He was in this condition when the climax came. Hurrying down the path he
was suddenly electrified to see a red can lying in the middle of the
path. Staring out in great black letters that made the sentry gasp were
the letters d-y-n-a-m-i-t-e! Indian started back in alarm. He saw a
spark, as if from a fuse; and in an instant more before he had a chance
to run, that can--which contained a firecracker--went up into the air
with a terrific flash and roar.

That was the last straw for Joseph.

He dropped his gun; gave vent to one shriek of terror and then turned
and fled wildly into camp!



CHAPTER VIII.

THE ATTACK ON MARK.


There was confusion indescribable in a moment; cadets rushed out of
their tents, and every one who chanced to be in the neighborhood started
on a run for the scene of the trouble, most of them just in time to see
the figure of the frightened plebe flying down a company street to the
guard tent. Indian's hair was sailing out behind, his eyes were staring
and his cheeks bulging with fright.

In response to the first yell, Lieutenant Allen, the tactical officer in
charge, had rushed to the tent door, followed by the corporal of the
guard, the officer of the day, and a host of other cadet officials. The
figure in blue, however, was the only one the plebe saw. That meant an
army officer and safety for him. So to that figure he rushed with a gasp
of fright.

"What's the matter?" cried Lieutenant Allen.

"Dynamite, sir, anarchists!"

"What!"

"Yes, sir, oh, please, sir, bless my soul, sir, I saw it,
sir--puff--oh!"

It took the amazed officer several moments to take in the situation.

"Anarchists," he repeated. "Dynamite! Why, what on earth?"

And then suddenly the whole thing flashed across him. It was another
prank of the yearlings! And, what was worse, a thousand times worse,
here was a sentry off his beat, in direct violation of his orders of all
military law.

"Didn't you receive a command, sir," he demanded severely, "not to leave
your post for any reason whatsoever? Don't you know that in time of war
your offense would mean hanging?"

"Bless my soul, sir!" gasped the sorely perplexed plebe, frightful
visions of gallows rising up before his bulging eyes. "Yes,
sir--er--that is, no, sir--bless my soul! They're going to attack the
place!"

The officer gazed at the lad incredulously for a moment; he thought the
plebe was trying to fool him. But that look on Indian's face could not
possibly be feigned; and the officer when he spoke again was a trifle
more consoling.

"Don't you know, my boy," he said, "this is all a joke? It was not real
dynamite."

"Not real dynamite!" cried the other in amazement. "Why, I saw it!
It----"

"It was the yearlings trying to fool you," said the lieutenant.

"Yearlings trying to fool me!" echoed the other as if unable to grasp
the meaning. "Why--er--bless my soul! Yearlings trying to fool me!"

The thought filtered through gradually, but it reached Indian's excited
brain at last. The change it produced when it got there was marvelous to
behold. The look of terror on his face vanished. So he had been fooled!
So he had let the yearlings outwit him! Yearlings--his sworn enemies!
And he a member of the Banded Seven at that! It was too awful to be
true! It was----

And then suddenly before Lieutenant Allen could raise a hand or say a
word the plebe wheeled, sprang forward and tore back down the company
street.

There was a look on Indian's face that his friends had seen there just
once before. The yearlings had tied him to a stake that day to "burn"
him, and they had set fire to his trousers by accident. Indian had
broken loose, and it was then that the look was on his face, a look of
the wildest fury of convulsive rage. Now it was there again, and Indian
was too mad to speak, almost too mad to see.

He rushed down the street, he tore in between two of the tents and burst
out upon the path where the sentry beat lay. It was dark and he could
see little, but off to one side he made out a group of cadets. He heard
a sound of muffled laughter. Here were his tormentors! Here! And with a
gasp and gurgle of rage Indian plunged into the midst of them.

After that there was just about as lively a time as those yearlings had
ever seen. Indian's arms were windmills and sledge hammers combined,
with the added quality of hitting the nail on the head every time they
hit. The result ten eyes could not have followed, and as many pens could
not describe it. Suffice it to say that the plebe plowed a path straight
through the crowd, then whirled about and started on another tack. And
that a few moments later he was in undisturbed possession of his post,
the yearlings having fled in every direction.

Then Indian picked up his musket, shouldered it, and strode away down
the path.

"I guess they'll leave me alone now," he said.

They did. Indian marched courageously after that, his head high and his
step firm, conscious of having done his duty and signally retrieved his
honor.

Pacing patiently, he heard tattoo sound and saw the cadets line up in
the company street beyond. He heard the roll call and the order to break
ranks. He saw the cadets scatter to their tents, his own friends among
them. Indian knew that it was half-past nine then and that he had but
half an hour more.

As he marched he was thinking about Mark. He was wondering if the
yearlings had had the temerity to try their "dumping" so early in the
evening. And he wondered, too, if Mark had prevailed, and if he had
dared to put into execution the daring act of retribution he had
planned.

Mark meantime was also walking his post, over on the other side of the
camp. He had marched there in silence and solitude since eight. He, too,
had heard tattoo; he had seen his five friends enter their tents which
lay very close to his beat, and he had nodded to them and signaled that
all was well.

Time passed rapidly. He saw the cadets undressing, saw most of them
extinguish their lights and lie down. And then suddenly came a roll upon
the drum--ten o'clock--"lights out and all quiet." And at the same
moment he heard the clank of a sword, and the tramp of marching feet
coming down the path. It was the relief.

They left another sentry there in Mark's stead and marched on around the
camp, picking up the others. Among these was the weary fat Indian, who
joined them with a sigh that it is no pun to call one of "relief." A few
minutes later they were in the guard tent, where Indian learned that the
attack had not yet come, at which he sighed again.

Cadets who are members of the guard sleep in the big "guard tent," which
is situated at the western end of the camp. Here they can be awakened
and can fall in and join the relief when their time comes without
disturbing the rest of the corps. Mark and Indian did not go on duty
again until two o'clock in the morning, and so they "turned in," in no
time and were soon fast asleep.

When they are awakened again we shall follow Mark to "Post No. 3."
Nothing more was done to poor Indian that night.

It was the "corporal of the relief," who touched Mark on the shoulder
and brought him out of the land of dreams. He sprang up hastily and
began to dress; cadets sleep in their underclothing, so that they may be
ready to "fall in" promptly, all dressed in case of an emergency. Mark,
gazing about him, saw a big white tent, with sleeping forms scattered
about it. A yawning cadet officer sat at a table, a candle by his side.
And five other sentries, about to go "on" like himself, were sleepily
dressing.

Promptly at the minute of two the six fell in, in response to the low
command of the corporal. At the same time the sentry's call of the hour
sounded:

"Two o'clock and all's well!"

And then out into the cold night air marched the six and away to their
posts of duty. There was a bright moon and the whole camp was light as
day as they marched. At number three, in response to the corporal's
order, Mallory fell out. And then "Forward, march!" and away down the
dim vista of trees swept the rest and around a turn and were gone. Mark
Mallory was alone, waiting for the enemy.

He was not afraid. He had made up his mind as to what he should do, and
now he was here to do it. He realized that from the very first moment he
set foot on this post, the word must be vigilance, vigilance! And he
gritted his teeth and set his square, sunburned jaws and seized his
rifle with a grip of determination, striding meanwhile on down the path.

He had not gotten halfway down to the end, the tramp of the relief was
still in the air, when suddenly came a low, faint whistle. Mark was
expecting that, and he faced about, started off the other way. He heard
a faint sound of hurrying feet and knew that his friends, the five, had
crossed. He saw shadows flitting in the deep grass of the ditch beside
him and knew that they were scattering to hide and wait in accordance
with the agreement. And he set his teeth with a still more grinding snap
and strode on. Vigilance, vigilance!

The moon was high in the heavens by this time; one could almost have
seen to read.

"They won't dare to try it," thought Mark. "A snake couldn't creep up on
me now. They'll have to come from the camp, too, for they can't cross
any sentry beat. But I'll watch, all the same."

His heart was beating fast then, he could almost regulate his step by
it. Outside of that all was ghostly and silent, except for the breathing
of the sleepers in the nearest tents of Company A. Once, too, he heard
the distant roar of a train as it whirled down the river valley, and
once the faint chug chug of a steamboat that passed on the water. But
for the most part the camp was unbroken in its peacefulness.

Tramp, tramp. Down the path to the sentry box, right about, and back
again. His post--number three--extended from the upper end of the
colorline on which two and six were marching, down along the north side
of the camp skirting the tents of Company A--his own--with the deep
ditch of Fort Clinton right to the left, past the tent of Fischer, the
first captain, and that of the adjutant, and ending near the water tank.
Tramp! tramp!

It was just a few minutes more before the corporal of the relief came
around, testing the sentries' knowledge of the orders of the night.
Later still came the cadet officer of the guard, with a clank of sword;
and he passed on, too. Tramp, tramp. And still no sign of trouble.
Mark's challenge, "Who comes there?" had been heard but once, and that
by the corporal.

"Will they try it?" he thought. "Now's the time. Will they try it?"

The answer came soon. Peering ahead with the stealthiness of a cat,
glancing back over his shoulder every minute, watching every moving
shadow, listening for every faintest sound. Tramp, tramp. Eastward
toward the river; he reached the water tank, where the shade was the
thickest, where stood the only bushes that could conceal a lurking foe.
Opposite the tent of the bootblack he halted and started back again,
where the path lay clear in the moonlight. Tramp, tramp. He could see
number two, far down in the distance, his white trousers glistening as
he marched. He saw the shadows of the trees waving, he heard the
breathing of the sleepers.

Then suddenly came the attack. There was a quick step behind him, and
everything grew dark. A cloth was flung about his mouth, and two pair of
hands about his writhing, sinewy body. Down he went to the ground,
fighting with every ounce of muscle that was in him. And after that
there was fun to spare.



CHAPTER IX.

THREE DISCOMFITED YEARLINGS.


It was Mark's duty to summon the corporal of the guard at the very first
sign of danger. But he didn't. He was going to settle this himself, and
he meant to punish those yearlings without any official aid.

He wanted to keep them busy, so that his friends could approach unseen,
and he set out to do it with all the strength of his powerful frame.
There were three of the yearlings, just as Grace had said, and they were
big fellows, selected for that reason; the yearling class knew Mark
Mallory--knew that he could fight when he wanted to, and he wanted to
then. He went down struggling, kicking, hitting right and left; on the
ground he was writhing and twisting as no eel had ever done. And then
suddenly he heard a muttered exclamation, felt the hands that were
gripping him relax; he flung off his enemies and sprang up to find each
of them struggling desperately in the grip of the triumphant five.

There were two for each of the yearlings. That was not quite so unfair
as the three to one that had prevailed a moment before; but it was
enough to make victory certain. The yearlings did not dare cry out; they
were more to blame than the plebes and they knew it. The plebes knew
it, too, knew that they had only to hold their enemies, not trying to
keep them quiet.

The six had the yearlings flat upon their backs in a very brief space of
time. To bind them hand and foot was a still easier task. And then the
mighty Texas flung one over his shoulder, the rest carrying the other
two; they sprang down into the ditch; they climbed the parapet of the
fort beyond; and a moment later were safe, out of sight or hearing.

Then Mark Mallory, sentry number three, brushed off his soiled clothing,
picked up his soiled gun, shouldered it and marched calmly away down the
path. Tramp, tramp.

Sentry number three would have loved dearly to "see the fun," but there
is no worse offense known at West Point than deserting a sentry post. He
did not dare take the risk, so we shall have to leave him alone and go
see for ourselves.

The five rascals with their securely-bound and gagged victims did not go
very far. They stopped in the middle of old Fort Clinton and dropped
their mummy burdens to the ground. Texas pulled from under his coat a
bottle, one quart of peroxide of hydrogen, very strong, "a ninety per
cent. saturated solution." And he got right to work, too.

You ask what he did? Any one ought to guess that. As a hair dye,
peroxide of hydrogen is pretty well known, we fancy.

Add Texas was a liberal hair dyer, too. He put plenty of it on. He was
not careful to apply it evenly, to get it on everywhere. In fact, he was
rather careful not to. Texas was not seeking for any beautiful effects,
mind you; all he wanted to do was to put some mark on those yearlings
that would cure them of their hazing habits, that would make them the
laughingstock of the class.

Having finished one, doused him well, Texas went on to the next. And
more miserable looking and feeling cadets than the three a human being
cannot imagine. They had some vague idea of what their tormentors were
doing, and visions arose up before them, visions of themselves dancing
in the ballroom, or walking about with their best girls, or marching on
parade, with half yellow and half black or brown hair, stamped and
labeled before all to their shame as the yearlings who tried to haze
Mallory. And the worst of it was they daren't tell the authorities; they
were more to blame than anybody!

Texas knew that; and he soaked on the peroxide of hydrogen the
more--ninety per cent. saturated solution.

Having finished this they left their victims there for a while, so that
their hair might dry and the bleach have a good chance to work. It would
never have done in the world to let them run back to camp and wash it
all out. Oh, no! And, besides, it might be well to leave them there a
while to reflect upon the sin of hazing.

As to this last point a mild bit of sarcasm occurred to the Parson. "The
Parson" was just the man to preach a sermon; and he got down upon his
knees and whispered very softly into the ears of each of the three:

"Gentlemen," said he, "the epistle for the day is written in the sixth
chapter of Galatians, the seventh verse. 'Be not deceived, brethren. For
whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' Here endeth the first
lesson. Yea, by Zeus!"

And then the five hair dyers stole away, and likewise the one quart
bottle, peroxide of hydrogen, ninety per cent. saturated solution.

They were not through yet. Oh, not by a long shot! They rejoined sentry
number three and held a whispered consultation.

"Who's on to-night?" was the question.

"Only one to interest us. Bull Harris!" was the answer.

"Where?"

"Number two."

And then the five figures disappeared once more in the darkness--the
moon had kindly hidden for a while. Mark could see number two from his
post, and he watched with the utmost eagerness. He saw three horrified
yearlings dash across his own beat and vanish in their tents. He let
them pass without challenge, even if it was against the orders, for he
knew that they were the three unhappy heroes of the peroxide of hydrogen
bottle, just released by the plebes.

After that there was a silence of perhaps five minutes. Mark, in
disobedience of all orders, was actually standing still, peering across
at the sentry on the next beat. He could see that gentleman's white
"pants" shining out; and then suddenly he saw several dark figures steal
up behind him, saw the sentry shoot up into the air and take a header to
the grass. The next moment came rapid footfalls and some quick shadows
flying across the path. The shadows disappeared in the tents and Camp
McPherson was once more silent as the night.

Sentry number two got up from the ground in a meditative way; his
look--though Mark did not see it--was what is often described as an
injured one. He made no sound, because for one thing he was too
surprised, and for another because he had an idea some of his own class
had done that trick--mistaken him for Mallory! For though Bull Harris
had watched long and anxiously he hadn't seen Mark "dumped."

Mark meanwhile had faced about and was strolling on down the path, a
rather happy and satisfied expression upon his face. Tramp, tramp.

This chapter would not be complete without a word--just a word--about
three yearling friends of ours. They woke up--if they slept at all that
night--with three startling crops of beautiful golden shining hair,
rather piebald in places. One likes to lavish adjectives upon that hair;
the piebald is not meant to be a pun. Now, as to how that hair got dyed
during the night, not a man of them would tell. But the Seven told
Grace, of course; and Grace told the cadets, which amounted to the same
thing in the end. The story was all about the post that morning.

By that time the three had been to the barber's and their heads looked
like a wheat field, a field of golden grain after the reaping machine
had been hauled across. But that didn't save the three. They were guyed
unmercifully; one of them had three fights at Fort Clinton before he
could convince his classmates that he really didn't want to be called
"Peroxide."



CHAPTER X.

"TEXAS" RUNS AMUCK.


"Drunk! Drunk! For Heaven's sake what do you mean?"

Mark had been sitting in the door of a tent in "A" company street,
vigorously polishing a musket. At the moment he had dropped the gun and
the cleaning kit to the ground and was gazing in amazement at Indian,
who had halted, breathless, in front of him.

"Drunk!" the first speaker repeated. "Texas drunk! What on earth are you
talking about?"

The other was so red in the face and out of breath from what had
evidently been a long run that he could scarcely manage to answer. His
eyes were staring, and his face a picture of excitement and alarm.

"Bless my soul!" he gasped. "I tell you--I saw him! He's wild!"

"What do you mean? Where is he?"

"He--he's got a horse! He's ridden off! Oh--bless my soul--he's killing
everybody!"

Mark sprang to his feet in excitement. At the same moment another head
appeared in the opening, preceded by a hasty "What's that?" It was
Parson Stanard, and his learned classical face was a picture of
amazement.

"Texas drunk!" he echoed. "Where did he get anything to drink?"

"I don't know!" gasped Indian. "Bless my soul--I only saw him one
moment; he dashed down the road. Oh! And had a horse, and his
guns--Lord, I was scared nearly to death."

"Which way did he go?" inquired Mark, quickly, a sudden resolution
taking possession of his mind.

"Down toward Highland Falls," answered the other.

And before he could say another word, Mark had seized his hat, sprang
out of the tent, and bounded away down the company street to the great
amazement of the cadets who chanced to see him.

"Texas'll be expelled! Expelled!" he muttered. "And then what on earth
will I do?"

The time was morning. The plebe class had just been dismissed a short
while ago from an hour of drill, and most of them were over by the
cavalry plain, watching the preparations of the rest of the corps for
"light artillery drill," which was the programme of the morning.

Scarcely half an hour ago Mark had left Texas and now he was drunk! And
he was drunk after the fashion of the cowboys, reckless of everything,
shooting and yelling, ready to raid a town if need be. Where he had
gotten his whiskey, or his horse, what on earth had led him to such an
extraordinary proceeding, were questions that Mark could not solve; but
he knew that his friend was in imminent danger, that expulsion stared
him in the face. And that was all Mark needed to know.

He did not notice that the plain on his right was crowded with
spectators of the drill, and that those same spectators were staring at
him curiously as he dashed past. He had eyes for but one thing, and that
was a building to one side, down the hill toward the shore of the
Hudson. He did not stop for paths; he plunged down the bank, and finally
wound up breathless in front of the cavalry stables.

Most of the men were off to one side, at that moment engaged in
harnessing the horses for the drill on the plain above. But one was
left, and he sat in the doorway, calmly smoking his pipe, and gazing
curiously at the figure before him.

"What d'ye want?" he demanded.

"A horse!" gasped Mark.

"Plebe?" inquired the other, with exasperating slowness.

"Yes."

"Where's yer permit?"

"Haven't got any."

"Don't get no horse then!"

Mark gazed at the man in consternation--he hadn't thought of that
difficulty. Then a sudden idea occurred to him, and he thrust his hand
into the watch pocket of his uniform. There was money there, money which
as a cadet Mark had no business to have. But he thanked his stars for it
all the same. There was a five-dollar bill, and he handed it to the man.

"For Heaven's sake," he panted, "give me a horse! Quick! Don't lose a
moment! I'll see you don't get blamed--say I took it away from you if
you want to."

The man fingered the bill for a few moments, lost in thought.

"It'd take more'n you to take a horse away from me," he said at last.
"But since you're in such a hurry----"

He stepped inside the building, and a moment later reappeared, leading
one of the government cavalry horses.

"Saddle?" he inquired.

By way of answer Mark sprang at the animal's head, and in one bound was
on his back.

"Get up!" he cried, digging his heels into the horse's side. "Get up!"
and a moment later was dashing down the road as if he had been shot from
a catapult.

"Terrible hurry that!" muttered the stableman, shaking his head, as he
turned away. "Terrible hurry! Something wrong 'bout that 'ere."

There was; and Mark thought so, too, as he galloped down the road. He
feared there would be much more wrong in a very short while. In half an
hour or so the plebe class, his class, would be called to quarters once
more for drill, and if he and Texas were not on hand then, there would
be trouble, indeed. If they were, there was prospect of no less
excitement. From what Mark knew of his hot-tempered and excitable
comrade when sober, he could form a vague idea of what a terror he might
be when he was mad with drink; and being thus he would not be apt to
behave as the meek and gentle thing a plebe is supposed to be. Mark had
had great trouble in keeping Texas quiet, even under ordinary
circumstances.

Mark, it may be mentioned, had met this wild and uncivilized lad down at
the hotel at Highland Falls, some weeks before either of them had been
admitted to the academy. Texas had then with recklessness helped Mark in
outwitting some hazers among the candidates. Mark had been drawn to the
other by his frank and open nature, by their mutual love of fun and
adventure, and by a certain respect each felt for the other's prowess.
The story of the heroic efforts by which Mark had earned his cadetship
was known to Texas, as indeed it was to every one on the post.

The two had come up to the Point together, and passed their
examinations; and they had been fast friends ever since. Mark had
backed Texas in a battle in which Texas had "licked" no less than four
of the yearlings. Texas had been Mark's second in a fight with the
picked champion of the same class. And since then the two had set out
together on a crusade against hazing which had turned West Point customs
topsy-turvy and made the yearlings fairly wild with desperation.

Through all this the two had fought side by side, and were stanch
friends. And now! The Texan's wild passions had led him to an act that
might mean instant expulsion. And Mark felt that West Point was losing
half its charm.

All this he was rapidly revolving in his mind as the horse sped down the
road. Texas might be found! He might be brought back in time, if indeed
he had not already shot some one! Mark felt that the chance was worth
the risk, and he leaned forward over the flying horse's neck and urged
him on with every trick he could think of.

On, on they sped. Down the road past the riding hall, up the hill, past
the mess hall, the hospital and then on southward toward Highland Falls.
The passers-by stopped to look at the hurrying figure in astonishment;
people rushed to the windows to see what the clatter of hoofs might
mean; but before they got there the horse and rider had vanished down
the street in a swirling cloud of dust.

As if there were not enough to perplex Mark, a new problem rose up
before him just then. The village he had left behind him, and was
speeding down the road--when he chanced to think of the fact that he was
almost at "Cadet limits." There was a fork in the road just below; to go
beyond it meant instant expulsion if discovered! And how could he hope
to be undiscovered, he in a cadet uniform and on that public highway?

The risk was desperate, but Mark had almost resolved to take it, when a
startling sound broke upon his ears.

"Wow! Whoop!" Bang! Bang! "Wow!"

And a moment later, sweeping around a turn, a cloud of dust appeared to
Mark's straining eyes. The cloud drew nearer; the shouts and yells
swelled louder, accompanied now and then by a fusillade as from a dozen
revolvers; and at last, in the midst of the cloud, as if racing with it,
a horse and rider came into view, the rider with a huge revolver in each
hand and a dozen in his belt, flinging his arms, shouting and yelling as
if forty demons were on his trail.

"Heaven help him!" Mark thought to himself. "Heaven help him, for I
can't!"

The rider was Texas.

Mark had scarcely had time to take in the startling situation, before
the horse and rider were upon him with a rush and a whirl.

"Wow! Whoop!" roared Texas, with all the power of his mighty throat; and
at the same moment Mark heard a bullet whistle past his head.

Texas had not recognized his friend at the pace he was riding; he and
his flying steed were past and started up the road in the direction
whence Mark had come, when the latter turned and shouted:

"Texas! Oh, Texas! come back here!"

Texas gave a mighty tug upon the reins which brought his horse to his
haunches; he swung him around with a whirl that would have flung any
ordinary rider from the saddle; and then he dashed back, on his face a
broad grin of recognition and delight.

"Hi, Mark!" he roared. "Durnation glad to see you! Whoop!"

Mark's mind was working with desperate swiftness just then. He saw in a
moment that there was yet hope. Texas was not staggering; he sat his
saddle erect and graceful. His voice, too, was natural, and it was
evident that he had drunk only enough to excite him, to make him wild
and blind to the consequences. There was room for lots of diplomacy in
managing him, Mark thought. The only obstacle was time--or lack of it.

He reached over from his horse and seized the hand which the other held
out to him.

"How are you, old man?" he said.

"Bully!" cried Texas. "Ain't felt so jolly, man, fo' weeks! Whoop! 'Ray!
Got a horse, Mark, ain't you? Wow! that's great! Come along, thar! Git
up! We'll go bust up the hull camp. Wow!"

And Texas had actually turned to gallop ahead. Mark had but a moment to
think; he thought quickly, though, in that moment, and resolved on a
desperate expedient.

"Texas!" he called, and then as his friend turned, he added: "Texas, get
down from that horse!"

The other stared at him in amazement, and Mark returned that stare with
a stern and determined look. There was fire in Powers' eye, more so than
usually; but there was a quiet, unflinching purpose in Mark's that the
other had learned to respect.

That had been a hard lesson. Texas had lost his temper once and struck
Mark, and Mark thrashed him then as he had never been thrashed before.
Texas knew his master after that, and now as he stared, a glimmering
recollection of the time returned to his whirling brain.

"Texas, get down from that horse."

There was a moment more during which the two stared at each other in
silence; and then the right one gave way. Texas leaned forward, flung
his leg over the saddle, and sprang lightly to the ground. And after
that he stood silent and watched his friend, with a worried and puzzled
look upon his face.

Mark breathed a sigh of relief as he saw that he had won. He dismounted,
led his horse over to the side of the road, and sat down. Texas followed
him, though his unwillingness was written on his face.

"Now see here, old man," Mark began, having gotten him quiet, as he
thought. "I want to talk to you some."

"Pshaw!" growled Texas. "I don't want to talk. I want to git up an' git,
an' have some fun."

"Well, now, see here, Texas," Mark continued. "Don't you know if you are
seen carrying on this way you'll get into trouble? How about drill in a
few minutes?"

"Ain't goin' to drill!" cried the other, wriggling nervously in his
seat, and twitching his fingers with excitement. "Tired o' drillin'! I'm
a-goin' to have some fun!"

"But don't you know, man, that you'll be expelled?" Mark pleaded.

"Expelled! Wow!"

That was the spark that started the conflagration again. Texas leaped to
his feet with fury.

"Expelled!" he roared. "Who'll expel me? Whoop! I'd like to see anybody
in this place try it naow, by thunder! I'll show 'em! I'll hold up the
hull place! Watch me scare 'em! Whoop!"

And almost before Mark could move or say anything, the wild lad sprang
forward at a bound and landed upon his horse's back. A moment later he
was off like a shot, leaving only a cloud of dust and an echo of yells
behind him.

"Wow! Whoop! Who'll expel me? Come out yere, you ole officers, an' try
it! Wow!"

Texas was on the warpath again. This time headed straight for West
Point.

And riding behind him with desperate speed, scarcely fifty yards in the
rear, was Mark, pursuing with all his might, and trembling with alarm as
he thought of what that desperate cowboy might do when once he reached
the post.

For West Point, and the crowded parade ground, were not a quarter of a
mile away.



CHAPTER XI.

TEXAS RAIDS WEST POINT.


The summer season is a gay one at West Point. During the winter cadet
life is a serious round of drill and duty, but after that comes a three
months' holiday, when cadets put on their best uniforms and welcome
mothers and sisters and other fellows' sisters to the post. There are
hops then, and full dress parades, and exhibition drills galore.

It was one of these drills that was going on that morning, perhaps of
all of them the most showy and interesting to the stranger. And the
mothers and sisters and other fellows' sisters were out in full force to
see it.

"Light artillery drill" is practice in the handling and firing of field
cannon. The cadets learn to handle heavy guns also, practicing with the
"siege and seacoast batteries" that front on the southern shore of the
Hudson. But the drill with the field pieces is held on the cavalry
plain, a broad, turfless field just south of the camp.

The field presented a pretty sight on that morning. It was surrounded
with a wall of trees, behind which, to the south, the somber gray stone
of barracks stood out, with the academy building, the chapel and the
library. To the north the white tents of the camp shone through the
trees and a little further to the left, the Battle Monument rose above
them and caught on its marble sides the glistening rays of the sun.
Beneath the trees all around the plain and crowding the steps of the
buildings, were scattered groups of spectators, the gay dresses of the
women helping to make a setting of color.

There was a jingling of harness, a rumbling of wheels, and a murmur of
excitement among the spectators as the cadet corps put in an appearance,
natty and handsome in their uniforms, the officers riding on horseback,
and the privates mounted on the cannon or the caissons. Platoon after
platoon they swept out upon the field; then formed in accordance with
the sharp commands of the officers; and in a few minutes more "artillery
drill" was under way.

It is rather an inspiring sight at times. There are over a dozen of the
cannon, with four horses each to draw them, and when the whole squadron
gets into motion at once, there is a thundering of hoofs and a cloud of
dust behind to mark the path. And then when they wheel, and aim and
fire, the roar of the discharge echoes among the hills and makes the
post seem very military and warlike indeed.

So thought the spectators as they sat and watched, too much interested
to have any eyes for what might happen elsewhere. But those who sat on
the southern edge of the plain, where the road from Highland Falls
emerged, were destined to witness a far more exciting incident than
that, an incident which was not down on the programme, and which the
tactical officers and the commandant of cadets, who stood by their
horses at one side, had not planned or prepared for.

The last discharge of the morning's drill was yet ringing in the
spectators' ears, and the sound barely had time to make its way down the
road, before it was answered and flung back by another volley that was
all the louder for its unexpectedness.

Bang! Bang!

The people turned and gazed in alarm. The cadet captain out upon the
field stopped in the very midst of a command and leaned forward in his
saddle to see; a sentry marching up the street forgot his orders and
wheeled about in surprise. There was the wildest kind of excitement in a
moment.

A horseman was racing up the road, galloping blindly ahead at full tilt.
He wore the uniform of a cadet, and his face was red with excitement. He
leaned forward over his horse, firing right and left into the air, while
from his throat proceeded a series of yells such as no one in that vast
crowd had ever heard before.

"Wow! Wow! Whoop!"

There was no time for exclamations from the spectators, no time for
questions or anything else. It was scarcely a second more before the
wild rider was upon them and he drove straight through the crowd with
the speed of an express train, neither he or his horse heeding any one.

The panic-stricken people fled in all directions, some of them barely
escaping the flying animal's hoofs. And in a moment more he was out on
the open plain, heading straight for the squadron.

"Wow! Wow!" yelled the rider. "Expel me, will ye? What ye got them guns
for, hey? Hold up yer hands! Whoop!"

Shouting thus at the top of his lungs, he was almost upon the cadets
when the frightened spectators heard another rattle of hoofs and another
rider burst through the open space in full pursuit. It was Mark, and he
was desperate then, galloping even more furiously than the cowboy in
front, for he knew that no one but he could ever stop Texas now.

The amazement and fright of the spectators cannot be pictured; nor the
anger of the officers who saw it all. These latter put spurs to their
horses and galloped out to the two; but Texas and Mark behind him had
already reached the dumfounded cadets.

Texas had emptied the two revolvers in his hands, and he raced yelling
across the plain. With a whoop he flung them at the nearest cadet, and
whipping two more from his belt, opened fire point-blank.

"Wow! Whoop!" he howled. "Expel me, will ye? Take that!"

Bang! Bang!

Half the horrified cadets turned to run; some dropped down behind the
cannon and the horses, when Texas fired there was not a man in sight.

Mark was almost upon him when the first bullet struck. It hit one of the
horses upon the flank, and tore a deep gash. The animal reared and
snorted with terror. His companions in harness took the alarm, and
almost at that same instant started on a wild dash across the field, the
four of them whirling the heavy cannon along as if it had been a toy.

A few yards ahead was the end of the field, and there, crowded in a
dense mass, people who had rushed to that side to avoid the Texan's
flying speed. And toward that surging, frightened mass the four horses
plunged with might and main.

It was a terrible moment. Those who saw the danger gasped, cried out in
horror, but those who stood in the path of the flying steeds were too
frightened to move. The move had come so suddenly, so unexpectedly. The
crowd stood huddled together; the crash came before they had time to
realize what was happening.

In the moment's excitement, the two horsemen had remained unnoticed.
Texas had seen the runaway, seen the crowd an instant later. Through his
confused and excited brain the consequences of his acts seemed to flash
with the sharpness of a thunderbolt. He had acted with the quickness of
a man who lives, knowing that at any moment he may be called upon to
"pull his gun," and defend his life. He had wheeled his horse about,
plunged his heels into the horse's sides, and at that moment was
sweeping around in a wild race for the leaders of the runaway four.

Quick as Texas was, Mark was a moment ahead of him. As he raced across
the plain toward his friend he had seen the horses start and swerve and
made for them, approaching from the opposite side to the Texan.

All this had happened in the snapping of a finger--the dash of the four,
and two racing from each side to head them off. And it was all over
before the imperiled crowd could turn to flee.

Texas was seen to leap out over his horse's head and seize the bridle of
one of the leaders as he fell. The crowd saw Mark's horse, dashing in
from the other side, barely a foot from the mass of the spectators,
crash into the Texan's flying steed. They saw the horse go down; they
saw Mark disappear. And then in the crush that followed he was lost to
sight beneath the plunging hoofs of the four.

There was a moment of blind confusion after that in which each one in
the crowd had time to think and see for himself alone. The spectators
were pushing wildly back before the onslaught of the approaching horses.
Several of the cadets and officers had sprung forward to seize the
horses' heads; Texas was clinging to the bridle with all his strength.
And Mark--Mark's was the greatest peril of all. He had fallen over his
horse's neck; he had seen the two leaders plunging toward him, stumbling
over the body of his own prostrate horse, crushing down upon him--and
then before his dazed eyes had swept a flying rein. He saw it, and
clutched at it, as a drowning man might do; raised himself upon it with
a mighty tug, and then a moment later was hurled far out over the plain,
as the horse he clung to, stopped in its rush, went down in a heap with
the cannon on top.

It was all over then. The spectators had been saved as by a miracle, the
barrier interposed by Mark's horse. And there was left a pale,
half-fainting lot of people crowded around a tangled mass of horses and
harness, with Texas clinging to one of the bridles, unconscious from a
wound in his head.

They loosened his deathlike grip, and laid him on the ground, while
Mark, having picked himself up in a more or less dazed condition,
burrowed frantically through the crowd to reach his side.

"Is he hurt? Is he hurt?" he cried.

The surgeon was at that moment bending over the Texan's body, where he
had hurried as soon as he saw the accident.

"It is only a scratch," he said, hastily. "He will get well."

And Mark breathed freely again; he turned pale, however, a moment later,
as he saw the doctor, catching the odor of the lad's breath, shake his
head and look serious.

"He knows! He knows!" Mark muttered to himself, "and it is all up with
poor Texas."

They carried the lad over to the hospital; and then West Point set to
work to get over its amazement and alarm as best it could.

They cleared up the wreck for one thing. Two of the horses had broken
their legs and had to be led off and shot. The rest trotted behind the
corps as it marched away--marched, for no amount of excitement could
interfere with West Point discipline. And then there was left down at
that end of the cavalry plain only a crowd of curious people, with a
scattering of army officers and plebes, all discussing excitedly the
amazing happenings of scarcely five minutes ago, and wondering what on
earth had taken possession of the two reckless cadets that had started
all the trouble.

They looked for Mark, but Mark had disappeared while the excitement was
at its height. He did not welcome the questions or the stares of the
curious. Moreover, he saw the superintendent, Colonel Harvey, excitedly
questioning several of the staff about the matter. Mark feared that the
superintendent might turn upon him any moment, and he wanted time to
think before that happened.

He dodged behind the library building, the Parson with him, and made his
way around to the now deserted camp. Once beneath its protection, the
two sat down and stared at each other in dismay. There was no need to
say anything, for each knew how the other felt. Texas was up the spout;
Mark was but little better off; and the universe was coming to an end.

That was all.

"Well," said Mark at last, "we're busted!"

And the Parson assented with a solemn "Yea, by Zeus!" and relapsed into
a glum silence again.

Neither of them felt called upon to say anything after that; neither
could think of the least thing to say. There wasn't a glimmering of
hope--they were simply "busted," and that was all there was to it.

There is a saying that in multitude of council there is safety. The tent
door was pushed aside a few minutes later and Indian's lugubrious,
tear-stained, horrified face peered in. Indian followed, and seated
himself in one corner, and then the tent relapsed into silence and
solemnity once more.

Three more disgruntled persons it would be hard to find, excepting
possibly the other three of the Banded Seven, who at the moment were
wandering disconsolately about the camp. The whole situation was so
unutterably amazing, dumfounding. Texas had often talked in his wild
Texas way about getting on a "rousing ole spree jest once," and of his
intention to "hold up" the cadet battalion some fine day just for a
joke; but nobody had ever taken him seriously. And now he had gone to
work and done it, and killed two horses, and Heaven only knew how many
people besides--for who could say what the crazy cowboy might not have
done down at Highland Falls? Why, it made his friends shiver to think of
the whole thing! But the situation only grew worse with the thinking;
and the three in the tent stared at one another in undiminished
consternation and despair.

"Well," muttered Mark a second time. "We're busted!"

And he had two to agree with him.

They would probably have sat there all morning if it had not been for a
small drum orderly outside--the drum orderly sounded the "call to
quarters," and a few minutes later the plebes were lined up in the
company street, muskets in hand, for drill. And it did not take a very
sharp eye to notice that every man in the class was staring curiously at
Mark Mallory, the plebe who but a few minutes before had been riding
across the parade ground in an attempt to put a whole artillery squadron
to flight, and that, too, under the superintendent's very nose.

"I wonder if he's crazy?" muttered one.

"Or drunk?" suggested another, laughing. "Oh, say, but I'd hate to be in
his place!"

Which last sentiment was held unanimously by the class, and by the rest
of the corps, too, as they scattered to their tents. A storm was going
to break over Mallory's head in a very, very short while, the cadets
predicted.

The prediction proved to be true. One of the cadet officers had barely
managed to run over the list of names at roll call before an orderly
raced into camp and handed him a message. He read it, and then he read
it again, aloud:

"Cadet Mallory will report to the superintendent at once."

And a moment later, while a murmur of excitement ran down the line, Mark
stepped out and hurried away down the street.

"The storm breaks now in just about five minutes," thought the corps.



CHAPTER XII.

THE CAUSE OF A FRIEND.


Mark was doing a desperate lot of thinking during that brief walk down
to the headquarters building. Every one he passed turned to stare at
him, but he did not notice that. He knew that in a very short while now
the critical moment was coming. Texas could not speak for himself; Mark
must tell his story for him, and save him from disgrace and dismissal if
the thing could possibly be done.

The headquarters building lies behind the chapel, just beyond the scene
of the runaway. There was still a crowd of people standing around, and
Mark saw them nod to one another with an "I-told-you-so" look as he
turned to enter the superintendent's office.

"Oh, just won't he catch it!" thought they.

Mark thought so, too, as he entered. A man met him at the door, and
without an inquiry or a moment's delay led him to Colonel Harvey's door
and knocked. He evidently knew just why Mark came.

The door was opened as the man stepped to it. Mark entered and the door
shut. He turned, and found himself confronted by the tall and stately
officer. Mark gazed at him anxiously and found his worst fears
confirmed. There was wrath and indignation upon the superintendents'
face, a far different look from the one Mark had seen there the last
time he stood in that office.

Colonel Harvey started to speak the instant Mark entered the room.

"Mr. Mallory," said he, "will you please have the goodness to explain to
me your extraordinary conduct of this morning?"

Mark looked him squarely in the eye as he answered, for he knew that he
had nothing to be ashamed of.

"I can explain my conduct better," he said, "by explaining that of Cadet
Powers first."

The colonel frowned impatiently.

"I want to know about it; I do not care how. I want to know whatever
induced a cadet of this academy to behave in the disgraceful way that
you two did this morning."

"I can explain it very easily, sir. It was simply that Cadet Powers was
drunk."

"Drunk!" echoed the superintendent.

He started back and stared at Mark in amazement. Mark returned his look
unflinchingly.

"Yes, sir," he said. "Drunk. You will probably receive a report from the
hospital to that effect this afternoon."

"And now," thought Mark to himself, "the cat is out of the bag. I wonder
what will happen."

The superintendent still continued to gaze at him in consternation.

"And pray," he inquired at last, "were you drunk, too?"

It was a rather bold question, to say the least, and that flashed over
the officer's mind a moment later, as he saw the handsome lad in front
of him start a trifle and color visibly. He was sorry then that he had
said it, and more so when he heard Mark's response.

"I have never touched liquor in my life," said the latter, in a low,
quiet tone that was a rebuke unspoken.

Mark saw a vexed look sweep over the colonel's face, caused by that
gentleman's recognition of his own rudeness; and Mark's heart bounded at
that.

"He'll be extra kind to me now," he thought, "to make up for it. Score
one point for our side."

"If you please," Mark continued, after a moment's pause, "I will tell
you the story."

"Do," said the colonel, briefly.

"I was in my tent about ten minutes before the accident happened, and a
cadet ran in and told me that Texas----"

"Texas?"

"Pardon me. Texas is our name for Cadet Powers. Told me that Powers was
drunk. I set out to find him. The horse which I had I--er--ran away with
from the stables. I met Powers down the road and I tried to keep him
quiet. He broke away from me, and I followed him. You saw the rest."

"I see," said Colonel Harvey, reflectively. "I see. I am very glad, Mr.
Mallory, to find that you are not as much to blame as I thought. This is
a bad business, sir, very bad. It was almost murder, and to all
appearances you were as much to blame as the other. But I have no doubt
that I shall find your story true."

Mark bowed, and waited for the other to continue; the crisis was almost
at hand now.

"Mr. Powers," the colonel went on, "will of course be dismissed at once.
And by the way, Mr. Mallory, you deserve to be congratulated upon your
promptness and bravery."

There was a silence after that, and Mark, drawing a long breath, was
about to go. The superintendent had one thing more to add, however, and
it was a singularly fortunate remark at the moment.

"I wish," he said, "that I could reward you."

"You can!"

It burst from Mark almost involuntarily, and he sprang forward with
eagerness that surprised the other.

"If there is anything you wish," he said, quietly, "anything that I can
do, I shall be most happy."

"There is something!" Mark cried, speaking rapidly. "There is something.
And if you do it I'll never forget it as long as I may live. If you do
not--oh!"

Mark stopped, unable to express the thought that was in his mind. The
colonel saw his agitation.

"What is your wish?" he inquired.

"Powers!" cried Mark. "He must not be dismissed."

The colonel started then and gazed at him in amazement.

"Not be dismissed!" he echoed. "What on earth is Powers to you?"

"To me? He is everything that one friend can be to another. I have known
him but two months, sir, but in those two months I have come to care
more for him than for any human being I have ever known--except my
mother. He has stood by me in every danger; he has been as true as ever
a friend on earth. He would die for me, sir--you saw what he did to-day.
I have seen him do braver things than that, and I know that he has the
heart of a lion. If he goes--I--I do not see how I can stay!"

"But, my dear sir," cried the colonel, still surprised, "think of the
discipline! You do not know what you ask. I cannot have my cadets carry
on in that manner."

"What I have told you no one knows but you and I, and two others I can
trust. The surgeon knows it, and that is all. He can call it temporary
insanity, sunstroke--a thousand things!"

"That is not the point. It is the man himself, his contempt for
authority, for law and order, his lacking the instincts of a gentleman,
his----"

"You are mistaken," interrupted Mark, forgetting entirely in his
excitement that he was talking to the dreaded superintendent. "You were
never more mistaken in your life! Texas has all the instincts of a
gentleman; he has a true heart, sir. But think where he was brought up.
He is a cowboy, and to get drunk is the only amusement he knows at home.
He has no more idea right now that it is wrong to drink than to eat. His
own father, he told me, got him drunk when he was ten years old."

"But, my boy," expostulated the colonel, "I can't have such a man as
that here. Think of an army officer with such a habit."

"It is not a habit," cried Mark. "He did it for fun--he knows no better.
And I will guarantee that he does not do it again. If I had only known
beforehand he would not have done it this time."

"Do you mean to say," demanded the other, "that you have sufficient
influence over him to see that he behaves himself?"

"I mean to say just that," responded Mark, eagerly, "just that! And I
will risk my commission on it, too! I offer you my word of honor as a
gentleman that Mr. Powers will give you his word never to touch another
drop of liquor in his life. And there's no man on earth whose promise
you could trust more."

Mark halted, out of breath and eager. He had said all he could say; he
had fired his last cartridge, and could only sit and wait for the
result.

"You said you would like to reward me!" he cried. "And oh, if you only
knew what a favor you could do! If you will only give him one chance,
one chance after he has realized his danger. It is in your power to do
it--the secret is yours to keep."

Colonel Harvey was pacing the room in his agitation; he continued
striding up and down for several minutes in thought, while Mark gazed at
him in suspense and dread.

At last he halted suddenly in front of Mark.

"You may go now, Mr. Mallory," said he. "I must have time to think this
over."

Mark arose and left the room in silence. He could not tell what might be
Texas' fate, and yet as he went he could not help thinking that the
colonel's hesitation meant nine points won of the ten--thinking that one
more chance was to be granted.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE REFORMATION OF TEXAS.


"Well?"

There were five of them--Indian, the Parson, Dewey, Chauncey and Sleepy.
They sat in a tent in Company A and at that moment were gazing anxiously
at a figure who stood in the doorway.

"Well?"

"There is hope," said Mark. "Hope for poor Texas."

And then he came in and sat down to tell the story of his interview with
the colonel. The plebes listened anxiously; and when he finished they
set to work to compose themselves as best they could to wait.

"The answer will come to-night," Mark said, "when they read off the
reports. And until then--nothing."

Which just expressed the situation.

The day passed somehow; between police duties and drills, the six were
kept busy enough to relieve the suspense of waiting. And after supper
the battalion lined up, the roll was called, and the orders of the
following day were read, while Mark and his friends fretted and gasped
with impatience. There were reports, and finally miscellaneous notices,
among them the sick list!

"Fourth class," read the officer, then halted a moment. "Powers"--every
man in the line was straining eyes and ears, half dead with
curiosity--then, "excused indefinitely--temporary mental aberration,
caused by heat."

Safe!

And a moment later the line broke ranks, the cadets discussing with
added interest the case of that extraordinary plebe. But the six had
danced off in joy.

"He's safe! He's safe!" they cried. "Hooray!"

"And now," said Mark, "there's only one thing more. We've got to reform
him, make sure he don't do it again!"

"We will," said the others.

It was two days after that, one evening after supper, that the door of
the hospital building was opened and Texas came forth, spruce and
handsome in a brand new uniform, looking none the worse for his
"sunstroke" treatment--_i. e._, plenty of cold water, inside and out.
Texas felt moderately contented, too. He had held up the corps as he had
promised--not a man in the crowd had dared to fire a shot at him. He had
a vague recollection of having done something heroic, besides. He saw
that every one was staring at him in "admiration;" in short, our friend
Powers was prepared for a rousing and hearty reception from the rest of
the Seven.

He strode up the company street, not failing to notice meanwhile that
plebes, and old cadets, too, made way for him in awe and respect. He
stopped at Mark's place, pushed the flap aside, and entered with a rush.

"Oh!" he cried. "Whar be you? How's everybody?"

The first person he saw was Master Dewey, and to him Texas rushed and
held out his hand. To his indescribable amazement that young gentleman
calmly stared at him, and put both his hands behind his back.

"W--w--why!" gasped Texas.

Whereupon Dewey turned upon his heel and walked out of the tent.

Texas was dumfounded. He stared at the others; they were all there
except Mark, and they gazed at the intruder in cold indifference. None
of them apparently had ever seen him before.

"Look a yere!" demanded Texas at last. "Ain't you fellows a-goin' to
speak to me?"

Evidently they were not, for they didn't even answer his question. Texas
stood and stared at them for a few moments more, wondering whether he
ought not to sail in and do up the crowd. Finally, as the silence grew
even more embarrassing, he decided to go out and find Mark to learn what
on earth was the matter. With this intention he turned and hurriedly
left the tent, while the five inmates looked at one another and smiled.

Mark was walking up the street; Texas espied him and made a dash for
him.

"Hi, Mark!" he roared. "What's the matter with them----"

Texas stopped in alarm; a feather might have laid him flat. Mark, his
chum, his tent mate, was staring at him without a sign of recognition!
And a moment later Mark turned on his heel and strode away in silence,
while Texas gasped, "Great Scott!"

That evening, seated on one of the guns up by Trophy Point, was visible
a solitary figure, looking about as lonely and wretched as a human being
can. It was "the Texas madman." Everybody kept a safe distance away from
him, and so no one had a chance to notice that the madman's eyes were
filled with tears.

"Poor Texas," Mark was thinking. "He'll come to terms pretty soon."

He did, for a fact. That same evening, just before tattoo, Mark felt a
grip upon his arm that made him wince. He turned and found it was his
friend, a look of misery upon his face that went to the other's heart.

"Look a-yere, old man," he pleaded. "Won't you--oh, for Heaven's sake,
tell me what's the matter?"

"I don't mind telling you," responded Mark, slowly. "You have behaved
yourself as no gentleman should, and as no friend of mine shall!"

"I!" cried Texas, in amazement. "I! What on earth have I done?"

"Done!" echoed Mark. "Didn't you go off and get drunk? For shame,
Texas!"

Texas was too dumfounded to say a word. He could only stare and gasp.
Here was a state of affairs indeed!

"Yes!" chimed in Dewey, approaching at this moment. "And you nearly
killed dozens of people, too. Mark was within an ace of being dismissed;
and as for you! why, you'd have been fired long ago if Mark hadn't
pleaded for hours with the superintendent!"

Texas turned his wondering eyes upon Dewey then. He was fairly choking
with amazement.

"Do you mean to say," he gasped at last, "that you fellows are mad with
me because I got drunk?"

"Exactly," responded Mark.

"And do you mean to tell me that you call that disgraceful conduct?"

"I do. And I mean to tell you, moreover, that you can't be a friend of
ours while you do it. I don't know how people feel about such things
where you come from, Texas, but I do know that if people up here knew
you had been in that condition not a soul would speak to you. There's
very little room among decent people for the fellow who thinks it smart
to make a fool of himself, and he usually finds it out, too, after it is
too late. I never spent my time hanging around saloons, and I don't
think much of fellows that do, either."

Mark could scarcely repress a smile as he watched the effect this brief
sermon produced on the astounded Texan.

"I wonder what dad would say if he heard that!" was the thought in the
latter's mind.

Texas was brought back from this thought rather suddenly to his own
situation. For Mark and Dewey both turned away to leave him again.

"Look a-yere, Mark," he cried, seizing him by the arm again. "Look
a-yere, ole man, won't you forgive me jest this once. Oh, please!"

And there were tears in the Texan's big gray eyes as he said it.

"But you'll do it again," Mark objected.

"'Deed I won't, man! 'Deed I won't. I'll swear I'll never do it again
s'long as I live."

"But will you keep your promise?"

"I never broke one yit as I know," responded Texas with an injured look.

And Mark, rejoicing inwardly at his success, but outwardly very grave
and solemn, said that he'd go in and ask the other six about it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Texas sat with his feet against the tent pole and a pen in one hand. He
held a letter to his father in the other; he was just through writing
it, and he was going to read it for the edification of the Banded Seven.

"'Dear Scrap,'" he began. "You see," added Texas, in an explanatory
note, "I call him Scrap sometimes just to make him feel comfortable. All
the boys call him that. 'Dear Scrap. This yere is the first letter I've
written you since I hit this place. I ain't heard from you, so I don't
know whether you got 'lected fo' Congress or not. I been havin' piles o'
sport up yere. Took in three quarts 'tother day, an' I held up the hull
corps on the strength of it. Busted two horses' legs, though, an' I
reckon you'll have to send on the price. Don't think they'll mount to
over a thousan' or two. I've still got my guns----'

"Guns is spelt with one 'n,' ain't it?" Texas inquired, interrupting
himself. "I put two--makes it seem bigger and more important, sorter.

"'They're the queerest folks up this way! They gave me thunder fer
gittin' drunk, said twarn't gentlemanly. Reckon after you licked a few
they'd call you a gentleman all right 'nough! They made me swear off,
else they wouldn't let me stay. What do you reckon the boys'll say to
that? Had to do it, though--you needn't git mad over it--I'm havin' so
much fun a-doin' of the yearlings that I wanted to stay. They kain't one
of 'em lick me.'

"I didn't mention you, Mark," Texas added, laughing. "Cause if I'd told
dad that you did lick me, he'd probably want to come up an' try a whack
himself, jes' to see ef you really could hit hard. Dad won't ever
acknowledge that I kin do him, though I almost licked him twice, when he
got riled. Reckon I'll end this yere letter now. I jest wanted to tell
him to send 'long some money.

"Now let's go out and hunt up some o' them old yearlin's."

And that was the beginning of Texas' reformation.



CHAPTER XIV.

A PLOT OF THE YEARLINGS.


"An invitation! Why, surely, man, you must be mistaken. They never
invite plebes to the hops."

The speaker was Mark. He was sitting with a book in his hand beneath the
shade trees at one side of the summer encampment of the corps. At that
moment he was looking up from the book at Chauncey, who had just
approached him.

"An invitation!" he repeated. "I can hardly believe it possible."

"Perhaps if you see it you'll believe it more readily, ye know,"
remarked the dudish cadet.

"Seeing's believing, they say," laughed Mark, taking it and glancing at
the address. "Mr. Chauncey Van Renssalaer Mount-Bonsall," he read. "Yes,
I guess that's for you. I don't believe there are two persons on earth
with that name, or with one so altogether aristocratic and impressive."

Mark was glancing at the other out of the corner of his eye with a
roguish look as he said that. He saw a rather pleased expression sweep
over his face and knew that he had touched his friend Chauncey in his
weak spot. Mark had been removing the contents of the envelope as he
spoke. He found a square card, handsomely engraved; and he read it with
a look of amazement upon his face--amazement which the other noticed
with evident pleasure.

The card had the words "Camp McPherson" over the top, and below in a
monogram, "U. S. C. C."--United States Cadet Corps. At one side was a
view of the camp, the Highlands of the Hudson in the distance. And in
the center were the words that had caused all the surprise:

      "The pleasure of your company is requested at the hops
      to be given by the Corp of Cadets every Monday,
      Wednesday and Friday evening during the encampment.

      "West Point, N. Y.,

      "July 6, 18--."

That was all, except for the list of "hop managers" below. But such as
it was, it was enough to cause Mark no end of perplexity.

"A plebe invited to the hop," he muttered. "I can hardly believe it yet.
There must be some mistake surely. Why, man, no plebe has ever danced at
a hop in all West Point's history. They scarcely know there are such
things. Just think of it once--we miserable beasts who hardly dare raise
our heads, and who have to obey everyone on earth!"

"We've raised our heads pretty well, bah Jove," drawled the other. "And
we've shown ourselves a deuced bit livelier than the yearlings, don't ye
know."

"Yes, but we've only done that by force. We've licked them and outwitted
them at every turn, something no plebes have ever dared to do before.
But simply because we've made them recognize our rights that way is no
reason why they should ask one of us to a hop."

"No," responded Chauncey, "it isn't. But I know what is."

"What?"

"I've a cousin in New York by the name of Sturtevant--deuced
aristocratic folks are the Sturtevants! Ever hear of the Sturtevants of
New York?"

"Er--yes," responded Mark, that same sly look in his eyes again. "I've
heard of them very often. They are related to the Smiths, aren't they?"

"Well, not that I know of, bah Jove--but come to think of it, my second
cousin was a Sturtevant and she married one of the De Smythes, if that's
who you're thinking of."

"I guess that's it," said Mark, solemnly. "Let it go at that, anyway.
But what have the Sturtevants, the Sturtevants of New York, got to do
with a West Point hop?"

"It's simply that this cousin of mine, ye know, has a friend up here, a
first class man, an adjutant or sergeant quartermaster, or some such
deuced animal, I forget just what, bah Jove! Anyway, I've an idea he got
me the invitation."

Mark let himself down to the ground on his back and lay there for a few
moments after his friend's "explanation," while he thought over it and
incidentally kicked a tree trunk for exercise. Chauncey waited
anxiously, wondering what sort of an effect his announcement of his
influential friends would have upon Mark.

"Those yearlings," began the latter at last, in a meditative, half
soliloquizing tone, "have never yet lost an opportunity to annoy us."

"What's this got to do with the hop, bah Jove?" interrupted Chauncey.

"Lots. It's simply this. You have been just as fresh as any of us,
Chauncey. With all your aristocratic blood, ye know. I saw you nearly
whip half a dozen of them one day when they wouldn't stop hazing
Indian."

"I didn't whip them, bah Jove," began Chauncey, modestly.

"Well, anyhow, they couldn't whip you, and so it was all the same. The
point is that they have never done anything to be revenged for the
insult. I have an idea that this may be an attempt."

"This!" echoed the other in surprise. "Pray how?"

"Simply that they'd like to see you come to the hop and have nobody to
dance with--for no girl will dance with a plebe, you know, I don't care
who he is--and so have to go home feeling pretty cheap. Then you'd be
the laughingstock of the corps, as the plebe who wanted to dance at the
hop."

It was Chauncey's turn to be thoughtful then. And to his credit be it
said that he recognized the truth there was in Mark's explanation of
that surprising card. For Chauncey was no fool, even if he was dudish
and aristocratic.

"I'm afraid that's it," said he. "I'm deuced glad I thought of asking
you, Mark, ye know. I'll not go to-night. And we'll let the matter drop,
bah Jove."

"Let it drop!" echoed Mark; and then he added, with emphasis, "Not
much!"

"What'll ye do?"

"Do? What's the use of having a secret society for the purpose of
avenging insults, if you don't avenge 'em? And don't you call it an
insult that the yearlings should suppose us big enough fools to take
that bait and go to their old hop?"

"It was rather insulting," admitted Chauncey.

"It was," said Mark. "And what's more, I move that we retaliate this
very day. Let's go up and find the rest of the Seven, and by Jingo,
perhaps we'll bust up their plaguey old hop!"

With which words Mark slammed his book to and arose to his feet and set
out in a hurry for camp.

They entered Camp McPherson and hurried up the A Company "street" to
their own tent. They entered without ceremony, and Mark scarcely waited
to greet the rest before he plunged right into the subject in hand.

"Fellows," he said, "the yearlings have tried a new trick on us; and
Chauncey and I have vowed to get square, right off."

Texas sprang up with a whoop that scared the sentry on the path nearby,
and a "Wow!" scarcely less voluble. He demanded to know instanter what
was up, and danced about anxiously until he managed to learn; when he
did learn he was more excited still.

The Parson forgot his fossils, and even his "Dana" when he heard Mark's
news, and he rose up and stretched his long, bony arms, inquiring with
almost as much anxiety as Texas. In fact, the only one of the three who
was not excited was "Sleepy." His state was that of the tramp, who
answered: "Why did you come here?" "To rest." "What made you tired?"
"Gittin' here."

The two other members of the Banded Seven popped into the tent just then
and Mark sat down and told them all of the yearlings' plan, as soon as
he could manage to get the excitable Texas quiet enough. He passed
around the invitation which the rest stared at as incredulously as Mark
had; and then he offered his explanation, and finding that they all
seemed to agree with him, stated his purpose to retaliate, with which
they agreed still more.

"Yes!" cried Texas. "Come on, let's do it. Let's bust up their ole hop!
Let's raise a rumpus an' scare 'em to death! What d'ye say?"

"I don't think we had better do that," responded Mark, laughing.
"Whatever trick we play has got to have something to do with hop, so as
to let them know why we did it. But we broke up one entertainment not a
week ago. I think it had better be a quiet trick on some of them, for
you know they say that a man may play the same trick once too often."

"Let's hold up their ole band," suggested Texas, "an' run 'em into the
woods an' hide 'em."

"Or else," laughed Mark, "we might dress up in the band players'
uniforms and go in and play hymns for 'em. But I think somebody ought to
suggest something that's possible."

"Let's put glue on the floor," hinted Indian.

"Let's dress up as girls and go," laughed Dewey.

"Or make the Parson put in some of his chemicals, ye know, an' smoke 'em
all out, bah Jove," put in Chauncey.

"B'gee!" cried Dewey. "That reminds me of another story. You fellows
needn't groan," he added, "because this is a good one. And I'm going to
tell it whether you like it or not. It's true, too. There was an old
professor of chemistry gave a lecture, and there were whole lots of
ladies present. We might work this trick some time. A good many of the
complexions of those ladies weren't very genuine, b'gee, and not
warranted to wear. And some of the chemicals the professor mixed made a
gas that turned 'em all blue!"

Dewey breathed a sigh of relief at having been allowed to deliver
himself of a whole story without interruption; and the Parson cleared
his throat with a solemn "ahem!"

"The chemicals to which you refer," he began, "were probably a mixture
of hydrofluosilicic acid with bitartrate of potassium and
deflagisticated oxygen, which produces by precipitation and reduction a
vaporous oxide of silicate of potassium and combines----"

"We've only half an hour left before drill," interrupted Mark solemnly.
"I move that the Parson discontinue his lecture until he'll have time to
finish it."

The Parson halted with an aggrieved look upon his face; and after
remarking the surprising lack of interest in so fascinating a subject as
chemistry, buried himself in silence and "Dana's Geology."

"It seems to me," continued Mark, after a few minutes' pause, "that we
haven't gotten very far in our planning. Now I have an idea."

The effect was that of a rainbow bursting through a stormcloud. The
Seven were all smiles in an instant, and the Parson came out of his
shell once more and leaned forward with interest.

"What is it?" he cried.

"It won't take long," said Mark, "to tell it. You may not like it. It'll
take lots of planning beforehand if we do try it. It seems to me that
the yearlings have set a trap for us, and want us to walk into it. Now,
I think we might bid them defiance, and show how little we care for
them, by going in right boldly and outwitting them in their own country,
that's the plan."

The six stared at him in amazement.

"You don't mean," cried Dewey, "that Chauncey ought to go to the hop?"

"That's just exactly what I mean," was the answer. "And I mean,
moreover, that we ought every one of us to go with him."

"But nobody'll dance with us, man!"

"They won't? That's just exactly the part we ought to fix. Grace Fuller
will, for one, I'm sure. And I'm also sure she can find other girls who
will. What do you say?"

They scarcely knew what to say. The proposition was so bizarre, so
altogether startling. Plebes go to the hop! Why, the thought was enough
to take a man's breath away. No plebe had ever dared to do such a thing
in West Point's history. One might almost as well think of a plebe's
becoming a captain! And here was Mark seriously proposing it!

They had a perfect right to go. They had an invitation, and no one could
ask for more. But the freezing glances they would get from every one!
The stares, and perhaps insults from the cadets! Still, as Mark said,
suppose Grace Fuller, the belle of West Point, danced with them? Suppose
all the girls did? Suppose, swept away by the fun of "jollying" the
yearlings, the girls should even prefer plebes! The more you thought
over that scheme the better you liked it. Its possibilities were so
boundless, so awe-inspiring! And suddenly Master Dewey leaped up with an
excited "b'gee!"

"I'm one!" he cried. "I'll go you!"

"Wow!" roared Texas. "Me too!"

And in a few moments more those seven B. J. plebes had vowed to dance at
the hop that night if it was the last thing they ever did on this earth.

"By George!" cried Mark, as they finished, leaping up and seizing his
hat, "I'm going over to see Grace Fuller about it now! Just you wait!"



CHAPTER XV.

THE PLEBES PLOT, TOO.


Mark found the object of his search on the hotel piazza, looking as
beautiful and attractive as his mind could imagine. As it proved, she
was fully as anxious to see him as he was to see her; she was curious to
hear about "Texas."

"So he has promised never to do it again!" she said, when Mark had told
her of Powers' "reformation." "I thought he would do anything for you.
Poor Texas fairly worships the ground you walk on."

"He has promised never to drink, anyhow," responded Mark. "It was very
funny to see how long it took him to get the idea into his head that it
was wrong. It's just as I told you, and as I told the superintendent,
too; down where he comes from it's the custom when a man wants to have
fun he drinks all the whiskey he can to start him. And Texas thought
he'd try it up here."

"He certainly did have fun," exclaimed the girl, breaking into one of
her merry laughs at the recollection of the scene.

"I had been having a pretty exciting time myself," he said, "trying to
keep Texas quiet. And when those huge horses took fright and started to
dash into the crowd, I had still more of it."

"I think you were perfectly splendid!" cried the girl, clasping her
hands in alarm even as she thought of the occurrence. "When you came
dashing down on your horse and sprang in to head them off, my heart
fairly stopped beating. But I knew you would do it; I have always said
you would never stop at any danger, and father agrees with me, too."

There was a moment's silence after that; and then Mark, who was anxious
to get at the important business of the morning, thought it a good time
to begin.

"I've something more interesting to discuss, anyway," he added. "And
I've only a very few minutes before drill in which to talk it over with
you. I've taken the trouble to get a permit from headquarters and all to
run over and ask you, so you mustn't delay me by compliments. That's my
province, anyway--and duty."

"That was a very neat one," laughed Grace Fuller. "I declare, you are
quite a cavalier. But excuse me for wasting the valuable time of the
house. What is the matter?"

"I've a scheme," responded Mark.

The girl lost all her bantering manner in a moment; she saw the twinkle
in Mark's eyes, and knew that some fun was coming.

"Is this another plan for worrying the unfortunate yearlings?" she
inquired.

"It is," said he. "I've no time to think up any other kind of plans just
at present. You see they get up so many against me that I am busy all
the time holding up my end. If it were not for your aid I am afraid I
should have failed before this."

"Have they prepared a new one already?"

By way of answer Mark took out the "invitation."

"Read that," he said, "and see."

Grace took it and glanced at it, a look of surprise spreading over her
face.

"Why, I have one just like it!" she cried. "But where on earth did you
get this?"

"It was sent to our friend Chauncey," answered the plebe. "You see the
yearlings thought he would take the bait and come; being rather weak on
the point of his aristocracy, he was supposed to fall right into the
trap and consider it a recognition of his social rank. Then when he came
he'd have no one to dance with, and would be a laughingstock generally."

"I see," said the girl. "It was a nice tribute to our common sense."

"Ours!" laughed Mark. "The yearlings have small idea that you are
sympathizing with the plebes."

"Well, I am," vowed the other. "With you, anyway, and I do not care in
the least how soon they know it. I told father, and he said I was quite
right. I don't like hazing."

"You may have a chance to let them know it publicly very soon,"
responded Mark, gazing at her sweet face gratefully. "That's what I came
over to see you about. You see we want to accept the invitation."

"Accept it! Why, that would be walking right into the trap!"

"That's just exactly what I mean to do. Only I mean to put a hole in the
other side first, so that I can walk out again and run off with traps
and trappers and trappings and all."

"How do you mean?"

"You are not as acute as usual," laughed Mark. "I had expected that by
this time you would have guessed the secret."

"You don't mean to go and dance?"

"Exactly," said Mark.

Grace Fuller glanced at him in horror for a moment, and then as she saw
his merry eyes twinkle a vague idea of what he meant began to occur to
her. She began to see the possibilities of the affair, just as Mark had
seen them. He might get all the girls to dance with him; he might have
the yearlings perfectly furious, raving; he might dump West Point
traditions all at once, all in a heap, and with a dull, sickening thud
at that.

As she began to realize all this, Mark was gazing into her eyes; he saw
them begin to dance and twinkle just as his had. And he laughed softly
to himself.

"Our angel has not failed us," he whispered. "I knew she would not. Will
you help us?"

And Grace answered simply that she would. But she set her teeth together
with a snap that meant much.

It meant that Mark Mallory was to be the first plebe ever to dance at a
West Point hop.



CHAPTER XVI.

SETTING THE TRAP.


The dinner hour had passed, likewise the second policing of the day had
been attended to by the humble plebes. The afternoon's drill was over;
it was time for full dress parade.

Company streets were alive with bustling cadets. Officers were winding
themselves into their red sashes, privates were giving the last
polishing touches to spotlessly shining guns. And the plebes, lonely and
disconsolate, were watching the preparations for the ceremony and
wondering if the time really would ever come when they too might be
esteemed handsome enough to be put on parade.

There was one plebe, however, to whom no such foolish idea occurred. For
indeed, he was quite convinced that he was better looking in his new
uniform than most of them, and a great deal more aristocratic than all.
He was, at the moment we stole in upon his thoughts, marching with much
dignity down the street of Company B.

He carried his hands at his sides, "palms to the front, little fingers
on the seams of the trousers," as plebes used to be obliged to do
whenever they walked about in public. But even with all that stiff and
awkward pose he could not lose the characteristic dudish "Fifth Avenue"
gait without which our friend Chauncey would not have been himself.

For it was Chauncey, and he was bound upon an all important duty.

He stopped at one of the tents; there was only one occupant in it, a
yearling, red-headed, hot-tempered looking chap, with a turned-up nose
and a wealth of freckles, Corporal Spencer, known to his classmates as
"Chick."

Master Chauncey Van Rensselaer Mount-Bonsall stood in the doorway and
bowed with his most genteel, perfect and inimitable bow. He would have
knocked had he seen anything but canvas to knock on.

"Mr. Spencer?" he inquired.

The yearling stared at the plebe in amazement; but Chauncey's politeness
and urbanity were contagious, and Corporal Spencer could not help
bowing, too.

"May I have the privilege of a few moments' conversation with you?" the
plebe next inquired.

"Ahem!" said Mr. Spencer. "Why--er--I suppose so."

"Corporal Spencer, I have a favor to ask of you, don't cher know, bah
Jove!"

Corporal Spencer was silent.

"I do not know why I should look to you for it, except--aw--ye know,
you were my drill master, and so I look to you as my superior, my
guardian, so to speak."

"That's a little taffy for him," Chauncey added--to himself. "Bah Jove,
I think the deuced idiot has taken the bait."

The plebe lost no time in taking advantage of his opportunity; he opened
an envelope he held in his hand.

"I received to-day," he began, "a card, ye know, an invitation to the
hop. I do not know who sent it, bah Jove, but I'm deuced grateful, for
I'm awfully fond of dawncing. I need scarcely tell you that I shall
hasten to accept it, don't cher know."

The look of delight which spread over the yearling's face was not lost
upon the plebe.

"So the idiot is going to fall into the trap," thought the former.

"So the idiot thinks I'm idiot enough to be fooled," thought Chauncey.

Chauncey continued, delighted with his success, no less than the
corporal was with his supposed one.

"Now, I have two friends," he said, "plebes, don't cher know, who are
deuced anxious to come with me. And I wanted to awsk you, bah Jove, if
you could get me two invitations. I know it is a great deal for one to
do for a plebe, but----"

Corporal Spencer was in such a hurry to assent that he could not wait
for the plebe to finish.

"Not at all!" he cried. "Not at all. Why, I shall be most happy to do it
for you, Mr. Mount-Bonsall. Really, it is a very small favor, for I have
plenty of invitations at my disposal. Wait just one moment, and you
shall have them. The yearling class will be delighted to--ahem--welcome
your two friends."

A minute or two later Master Chauncey's Fifth Avenue gait was carrying
him swiftly up the street again, with two more of the much coveted
invitations in his hand. And Chick Spencer was rushing into another tent
to seize his friend Corporal Jasper wildly by the arm.

"What do you think? What do you think?" he cried. "The plebes are coming
to the hop!"

"What! Why!"

"That fool dude has fallen into the trap. He's coming to dance, and
bring two more plebes with him. Oh, say, oh say!"

The whole yearling class knew of it a few moments later when the
companies fell in for parade. And the wildest hilarity resulted.

"A plebe at the hop! A plebe at the hop!" was the cry. "A plebe without
a soul to dance with him. Oh! but won't there be fun."

There was indeed to be fun; the yearlings would have thought so if they
could have seen Chauncey and read his thoughts. Oh, yes, there was fun.

But the question was, who was to enjoy it?

Chauncey, when he reached his own tent, found Mark standing in front of
it; and Mark was dancing about with excitement, too.

"Did you get them?" he cried.

"Yes, I did, ye know, and--where are you going?"

Mark had started hastily down the street. He stopped long enough to
shove a note into his friend's hand and give a warning word as to
secrecy; then he turned and was gone.

"Read it! Read it!" was echoing in Chauncey's ears.

He did; and this was what he read:

      "DEAR MR. MALLORY: I am writing this in great haste.
      Come over to see me at once; things are coming out
      beautifully. Did you get the extra invitations?

      "Your friend,

      "GRACE FULLER."

And Chauncey nodded his head in delight, gave vent to an extra "bah
Jove," and then dived into his tent to talk it over with the others.

What the others had to say is of little moment; the all important person
was Mark, and Mark was hurrying over to the hotel, keeping step to the
tune of the band that was just then marching across the parade ground
at the head of the battalion.

He found Grace waiting for him.

"You got the invitations?" she inquired.

"Yes, Chauncey did," responded the other, laughing.

"I told you," said the girl, "that Corporal Spencer would do it. I knew
his handwriting on the envelope at once, and I was sure that he was in
the plot to fool Mr. Chauncey. And I'd just love to outwit him, too."

"You say you were successful?" inquired Mark.

For answer Grace Fuller presented three dance cards, at which Mark
glanced with amazement and delight indescribable.

"Why, they're full!" he cried. "You've gotten some one for every dance!"

"Yes," she said, laughing gleefully as she went over the names with him.
"I put your names over the top, you and Mr. Dewey and Mr. Chauncey--that
last name of his is too long to say. And I could have filled a dozen
just as well, only you said that you three were the only ones who cared
for dancing. I hope you all dance well. Mr. Dewey looks as if he might;
and our Fifth Avenue friend I'm sure is a perfect sylph. I think you do
everything gracefully."

"I hope you have a chance to find out," laughed Mark. "I hope you have
put yourself down on my card."

"I have put you down for the very first dance," said she, simply. "You
told me to fix it all the way I liked."

"But who are the other girls?" inquired Mark. "I haven't met any of
them."

"You will in plenty of time. I'll introduce you to them. They're all
friends of mine; you see, I know nearly every one about the post. And
I've picked all the very prettiest and nicest girls of them all, too."

"And arranged them in order of merit," added Mark, slyly glancing at his
own card, whereat the girl shook her fan at him.

"But tell me," he continued, in perplexity, after a few moments' pause,
"how did you ever manage to get so many girls into the conspiracy? Why,
I had no idea that one-tenth as many cared anything about plebes."

"I used a little diplomacy," laughed Grace. "I made myself as charming
as I could. I found two, three in fact, whose brothers are plebes, and
one whose brother will be next year. I think most of the girls really
sympathize with the plebes, and then, too, I'm sure all of them like to
tease. Did you ever know one who did not? And this will make the
yearlings fairly wild. But the chief reason I urged I can't tell to you;
you wouldn't like it."

"Why not?"

"It would make you conceited, as you say. You must know--you ought to
if you don't--that you're a regular hero among West Point girls. In the
first place, every one knows how you saved me; and then all of them saw
you the other day stop that runaway. You're famous, besides, as the
boldest plebe that ever came here; the yearlings are the laughingstock
of the place because of you. And that makes you a sort of romantic
creature, a Sir Galahad in disguise. To dance with you is a whole fairy
tale."

Mark laughed heartily over this description, which he chose to consider
exaggerated. But whatever might be the cause of Grace Fuller's success,
he was heartily and undisguisedly delighted at the success itself. Here
were three dance cards, one for each of the conspirators; and all of
them were full, which meant that there were a score or more of girls who
had pledged themselves to join in that plot.

It was a triumph indeed, and Mark thanked Grace for it most heartily.
And when he left the hotel and hurried over to camp again, his chuckles
of delight were audible and numerous.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE RESULT AT THE HOP.


Every one goes to hops promptly on time at West Point. In select society
it is the thing nowadays to go late everywhere, so Chauncey assured his
friends. But at the academy relentless tattoo sounds on hop-nights at
half-past nine as usual. The cadets have to be in line at camp five
minutes later. And so, anxious to dance all they can, everybody who
intends to dance is on hand by the hour of eight.

The dances were held, in Mark's day, in the academy building, in two big
rooms on the second floor. Those rooms are used as examination rooms;
luckless and frightened candidates were sent there to show what they do
not know. This evening, however, it was gay and festive.

The West Point Military Band, in full plumage, occupied a small platform
and dispensed an overture previous to the first waltz. The walls were
gay with flags and an abundance of decorations in general. And the floor
and seats about the room were still more beautifully adorned.

A person who "knew the ropes," who was familiar with hops and hop ways,
would not have failed to notice that there was something unusual going
on that night, that everybody seemed to be waiting for something. Cadets
talking to damsels could not keep their eyes from straying to the
doorway, while at the doorway sauntered about, waiting, a considerable
group of anxious cadets. There was one thought in the minds of all of
them.

"Will they come? Oh, say, will they come?"

And then, suddenly, a ripple of excitement ran around the room; cadets
crowded to the doorway, girls strained their necks to get a view, the
leader of the band in all his finery nearly let his orchestra run wild
in his interest. And across the floor rushed Corporal Spencer, hop
manager, and grasped his friend Jasper by the arm.

"They're here! They're here, man!" he gasped. "Oh, say!"

And the next instant the bandmaster waved his baton, the music crashed
all at once, and the first dance was begun.

A dance with plebes present!

To say that the three, Mark, Chauncey and "B'gee," were the cynosure of
all eyes would not begin to express the situation. Every one's glance
was fairly glued upon them. Girls forgot their dance partners, cadets
stopped still in their tracks. Not a soul offered to dance. Not a soul
did anything but stare at those three idiots.

They did not seem the least bit ill at ease. All of them seemed quite
in their element. Their attire was surely immaculate; Chauncey was
fairly radiant in an elegantly handled monocle. And they did not seem to
notice the stares, intentionally rude, that came from the cadets. They
knew just what to do, and they did it, while the whole room watched and
gasped.

Grace Fuller, belle of West Point, sat in one corner of the room, a
perfect vision of loveliness indescribable. About her were half a dozen
cadets. Her stern old father sat nearby, with Mrs. Fuller beside him.
And toward that group those idiotic plebes were going!

The yearlings gasped in horror, bit their lips in vexation. For Judge
Fuller arose from his seat and welcomed Mark Mallory heartily; his wife
did likewise. The three sat down and began to talk to them and to Grace,
at which the cadets with that party went off in horror and amazement.

Well, there was no use staring any more, for the three plebes were safe
behind that bulwark; and vexed and aggravated, the cadets went their
ways and began to dance. They kept their eyes on the three, however.
They saw Mrs. Fuller rise suddenly and cross the room, with Chauncey and
Dewey at her side. And then what must she do but introduce them to two
girls? Oh!

This was terrible! Bull Harris, Mark's old enemy, was in the very act of
asking one of the girls, a tall, stately creature clad in pink, if he
might have the pleasure, etc.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Harris," said she. "But I'm already engaged for this
dance."

And then up stepped Mrs. Fuller.

"Miss Evens," she said, "allow me to present Mr. Dewey, with whom I
believe you have promised to dance."

A moment later, to the indescribable horror of the cadets in the place,
three plebes set out upon that floor to dance, each of them leading
girls with whom to dance was a privilege that came only to the best. And
how those plebes did dance! The yearlings had never seen better; they
could not but acknowledge that. For the plebes were on their mettle
then, and if ever they danced in their lives, they did then, radiant
with triumph, swept away by the excitement distributing benignant smiles
upon every one.

There is only one heaven that lasts an eternity. All others, that dance
included, have their finish. The three plebes returned the delighted
girls to their seats, and the cadets, excusing themselves from every
one, rushed out into the hall, there to hold an angry and excited
consultation. For this was indeed a desperate, a terrible thing!
Evidently three girls, relying upon their charms, were going to insult
the corps wantonly, dance with some beastly plebes.

"They shall pay for it!" was the cry. "Not a man shall dance with them.
Cut them dead!"

But if the yearlings supposed that Mark and his friends proposed to
dance with just three girls all that night, they were woefully and badly
mistaken. The fever had spread in the interim; introductions had been
going on. When the yearlings returned, behold, Mark was making himself
charming to another girl, and Chauncey, perfectly in his element at
last, was busily engaged in describing the streets of Paris to a group
of half a dozen!

"Cut them all!" whispered the yearlings.

Well, they tried it. To be brief, Grace and the other two danced with no
one that next dance. But three more girls went down on the blacklist,
and the plebes' triumph was yet greater.

"We'll leave 'em no one to dance with," chuckled Mark. "We'll send them
all home!"

The next dance was a lanciers. Three couples joined the groups upon the
floor and lo and behold, from the spot where the plebes stood every
cadet fell away with obvious meaning. The rudeness was seen by every one
in the room; it was the worst insult of all. The three couples stood
lost for a moment; and then, suddenly, red with indignation, the
dignified judge sprang to his feet.

He and his daughter made up that set. And once more the yearlings fairly
ground their teeth with rage.

They did not know what to do then. They were fairly baffled. The plebes
had entered the trap--and here was the result!

"Oh, if we only hadn't been fools enough to send those invitations!" was
their thought.

Meanwhile dance after dance passed, girl after girl was "out of it."
There is always a scarcity of girls at a place like West Point. There
are always sure to be more cadets at every hop than there are partners,
and with those three vile plebes sending three to the wall every
dance--and the prettiest and most liked ones, too--things soon began to
arrive at a crisis. It looks funny to see the pretty girls sitting and
the ugly ones dancing; and every one began to see that the plebes were
having decidedly the best of the bargain. They were dancing with whom
they pleased; most of the cadets were soon unable to dance at all,
finding it necessary to hang about the doorway and discuss the
situation.

It was a distinct triumph for the plebes; even the yearlings could not
deny that, and that made them all the angrier.

Ten dances had passed; by actual count there were thirty girls "out of
it," and something less than twenty still left to the cadets. And then
the matter came to a head.

Cadet Lieutenant Wright, a first class man, captain of the football
team, and a hop manager for his class, caused the trouble. Urged by all
his desperate classmates and urged still more by the spectacle of Mark's
dancing with a certain sweet creature who had hitherto devoted all her
energies to making herself charming to him, he stepped forward in the
middle of the dance and with his badge of manager upon his coat, touched
Mark upon the arm.

Mark halted abruptly. The whole room stared.

"Mr. Mallory," said the lieutenant, "the cadets who are giving this hop
request you to leave the floor."

Mark's face turned white; he bit his lip savagely to choke down his
anger, and when he spoke at last his voice was hard and calm.

"The cadets who are giving this hop," he said, drawing the invitation
from under his coat, "invited me by this to come. I shall consider your
remark, sir, as a personal insult, for which you will be called upon to
answer at Fort Clinton."

"And do you refuse to leave?"

"As an invited guest and a cadet of this academy I most decidedly do."

And the whole room heard him, too.

Wright returned to his classmates; a brief consultation was held, ending
in his stepping across the room and speaking to the leader of the band.
The music stopped abruptly.

The hop was over for the night.

Three heartily delighted plebes escorted three heartily delighted
damsels home that night. And wild indeed was the hilarity of them and of
the Banded Seven.

"Victory! Victory!" was the cry. "We danced and we have conquered!"



CHAPTER XVIII.

A STRANGE ANNOUNCEMENT.


"Hey, fellows! What do you think? Mark Mallory's in disgrace."

"In disgrace!"

"Yes, and he's going to be fired. Whoop!"

The first speaker was Bull Harris. At the moment he was red in the face
and breathless as the result of a long run across the parade ground. At
the end of it he had burst suddenly into the midst of a crowd of his
classmates with the excited exclamation above.

The effect upon them of the startling announcement was electrical. To a
man they had leaped to their feet, with expressions of delight they made
no effort to conceal.

"How do you know it, Bull?" demanded one of the crowd.

"The superintendent has sent for him right in the middle of drill,"
cried Bull.

"What for?"

"I don't know. It's something he's been doing. One of the orderlies told
me he heard the old man say he'd fire him. And that's all I know."

The babel of confusion and excited voices that resulted from this bit of
news lasted without interruption for several minutes.

"It's too good to be true," they vowed. "By George, just as we were
talking about him, wondering how we could get square with the confounded
plebe, for his tricks! And now he's going to be fired."

And then suddenly Bull's voice rose above the excitement again.

"Look! Look!" he cried. "If you don't believe me look and see for
yourselves. There he goes now!"

The cadets stared across the parade ground and then shouted aloud for
joy.

Down on the road by the cavalry plain a single lone figure was walking,
a figure clad in the "plebe" uniform. And the figure was that of
Mallory!

Mark as he walked did not observe the group of cadets who were glaring
at him so angrily. It would not have worried him if he had, for he had
something a good deal more important to occupy his mind just then. He
was racking his brains to think of some plausible reason to account for
his errand at the moment.

He had been, along with the rest of the plebe company, lined up on one
side of the camp for drill. A tactical officer had been rigidly putting
them through the manual of arms, with half a dozen yearling corporals
and file closers aiding him. And then, breathless with running, an
orderly had burst upon the scene.

He had a note in his hand, and he handed it to the "tac." The latter
read it, then read it aloud--again.

"Cadet Mallory will report to the superintendent at once."

That was all; the rest of the class stared and wondered, and Mark
stepped out of the line, handed his gun to the orderly, and strode away
from the scene.

The yearlings, as we have seen, had a good deal clearer notion of why
Mark was wanted than he had himself. To Mark it was an absolute mystery.
He knew no reason on earth why the superintendent should want him, and
he quickened his pace so as to get there and find out the sooner.

Erect and firmly stepping as was the plebe's habit by this time, he
marched down the road toward the academy building, between the parade
ground and the Cavalry Plain. He passed the chapel, and then the
headquarters building, his destination, lay before him. Mark had entered
that building just three times before this. He could not help thinking
of them then.

The first time, he had felt, was the most momentous moment of all his
life. Months of struggling were there crowned with a triumph that had
seemed to leave no more worlds to conquer. For he had entered that
building then to take the oath of allegiance as a duly certified and
admitted "conditional" cadet.

What that had meant to Mark only those who have followed his history can
appreciate. Poor and friendless, he had seen West Point as a heaven, the
object of all his future hopes, an object far away from his home in
Colorado, but one to be struggled for and hoped for none the less. He
had earned the money to come by a sudden stroke of cleverness--one step.
After that he had striven for the appointment, a step far longer and
harder, yet one that must be taken.

The congressman of that Colorado district had held a competitive
examination. Mark had tried, and also his deadly enemy, one Benny
Bartlett, a rather weak, malicious youth, spoiled by the old squire, his
father. Benny had sworn to win, and was desperate when he realized he
couldn't; he had bribed a printer's devil, gotten the examination
papers, and so passed ahead of Mark, who was made alternate. But Mark
had afterward beaten Benny at the West Point examination, where cheating
was impossible, and had thus secured the long coveted cadetship.

While we are talking about him he has gone inside. It would be well to
stop and follow him, for momentous things were destined to result from
that visit, too. It was indeed true, as the yearlings so joyfully
learned, Mark Mallory was in deep and serious danger.

An orderly showed him promptly to the office of Colonel Harvey. Mark
found that gentleman alone in the room, the same room where he had been
received so kindly before. But this time the stern old officer seemed
less cordial. There was a chilly air about it all that made the plebe
feel rather uncomfortable. Colonel Harvey did not speak; he did not even
look up from the paper on which he was writing; and Mark stood by at
attention, waiting respectfully.

The first movement did not come from either of them. Mark strove to keep
his eyes to the front, which was in accordance with orders. But he could
not help glancing about the room a little. And to his surprise he saw a
side door open and another figure enter the room.

Mark did not see that just at the moment the colonel's glance was fixed
upon him steadfastly; he was too busy staring at the stranger. The
stranger was a young fellow with coarse features, evidently a
workingman. He twisted his hat in his hand nervously, obviously ill at
ease. He stared at Mark and at the officer alternately. Mark, who did
not know him from Adam, turned away after the first glance, giving no
more thought to the intruder except to wonder what he was doing in that
office.

When Mark turned his eyes upon Colonel Harvey again he saw then that
the latter was watching him. And a moment later the colonel laid down
his pen and spoke:

"Cadet Mallory," he said sternly, "I wish you to observe this man. Do
you know him?"

Mark stared at the stranger in amazement.

"No, sir," he said. "I never saw him before, to my knowledge."

"Are you sure?"

"Perfectly."

There was a moment's pause after that, and then the superintendent
tapped a bell upon his desk. It was answered at once. The same door
opened again, and two persons entered suddenly. Mark knew them, and he
knew them well. He stared at them incredulously, gasping; and he sprang
back in amazement.

"Benny Bartlett!" he cried. "You here! And the squire!"

It was Benny Bartlett sure enough; Mark knew his sallow deceptive look
too well to be mistaken. And the squire was the same stout and
blustering, self-assertive old man. He banged his cane on the floor as
he heard Mark's exclamation and saw his look of surprise.

"Yes, sir," he cried. "It is the squire. And I observe you start with
guilt when you see him, too."

Mark stared at the two all the harder then. And there was a brief
silence during which every one stared at every one else. Mark thought
he saw the stranger twist his cap yet more nervously.

"Mr. Mallory," began the superintendent at last. "Mr. Mallory, do you
know why these three are here?"

"No, sir," said Mark, with evident emphasis.

"Is this upon your honor as a gentleman?"

"It is," was the answer.

"Humph!" snorted the squire. "Your word of honor isn't worth much!
I----"

"If you please," interrupted Colonel Harvey with dignity, "that question
is for me to settle. Mr.--er--what did you say this man's name was?"

"Nick," put in the squire.

"Nick," said the superintendent, turning toward the strange youth, "will
you please have the goodness to tell again the story which you told to
me."

Nick looked frightened and hesitated.

"Come, come!" cried the squire, impatiently. "Out with it now, and no
lies about it!"

Thus enjoined Nick cleared his throat and began.

"I'm a printer's boy," he said, "and I works for the Roberts in Denver.
I was a-walking along the street one day, I was and up comes this
feller--indicating Mark--and he says, says he to me, 'Your people are
printing the examination papers for Congressman Wheeler, ain't they?'
'Yes,' says I, and then after that a little while he says that he wants
to win them examinations, 'cause there was a feller trying 'em that he
wanted to beat. So he gimme a hundred--that was the next day; he said
he'd earned it in a railroad smash up, or something--and then I got them
papers and gave 'em to him. And that's all I know."

"Very good," commented the squire, tapping his cane with approval. "Very
good! And what did he say about these West Point examinations?"

"He said, says he, 'If I win these here and git the appointment, I ain't
a-going to do nothin' but skin through the others with cribs.'"

"That's right!" cried the squire, triumphantly. "There now! What more do
you want?"

He glanced at the superintendent inquiringly, and the superintendent
gazed at Mark. As for Mark, he was simply too dumfounded to move. He
stood as if glued to the spot and stared in blank consternation from one
to the other.

"Well," said the colonel at last, "what have you to say for yourself?"

Mark was too amazed to say much.

"So that is their plan!" he gasped. "So they seek to rob me of my
cadetship by this--this----"

He stopped then, unable to express his feelings.

"Colonel Harvey," he inquired at last, "may I ask if you believe this
story?"

"I do not see, Mr. Mallory," was the response, "what else I am to
believe. I do not like to accuse these three gentlemen of a plot to ruin
you. And yet--and yet----"

"May I ask a question or two?" inquired Mark, noticing the puzzled and
worried look upon his superior's face.

"Most certainly," was the answer.

"In the first place, if you please, according to this story, if I gave
this man a hundred dollars, why did he tell about it afterward?"

"His conscience troubled him," cried the old squire excitedly. "As yours
would have if you had any. He knew that he had done wrong, robbed my
son, and he came and told me. And I was wild, sir, wild with anger. I
have brought this man on all the way from Colorado, and I propose to see
my son into his rights, if I die for it!"

"Oh!" said Mark. "So you want Benny made a cadet. But tell me how, if I
had the papers, did Benny beat me so badly, anyhow?"

"My son always was brighter than you," sneered the old man.

"And all the examinations weren't from printed papers," chimed in
Benny's crowing voice. "There was spelling, and reading and
writing--that was where I beat you."

"I see," responded Mark. "It is a clever scheme. And I'm told I passed
here because I cheated; how came you to fail?"

"My son was sick at the time," cried Squire Bartlett, "and I can prove
it, too."

Mark smiled incredulously at that; Benny Bartlett nodded his head in
support of his father's assertion.

"Well?" inquired the squire. "Is there anything more you want to know?"

"No," said Mark. "Nothing."

"Satisfied now, are ye?" sneered the other; and then he turned to
Colonel Harvey. "I think that is all, sir," he said. "What more do you
want?"

The colonel stood gazing into space with a troubled look. He did not
know what to say; he did not know what to think. He could not call these
three men conspirators; and yet the handsome, sturdy lad who had done so
much to win his approval, surely he did not look like a thief!

"Mr. Mallory," he inquired at last. "What have you to say to this?"

"Nothing," responded Mark. "Nothing, except to denounce it as an
absolute and unmitigated lie from beginning to end."

"But what proof can you bring?"

"None whatever, except my word."

After that there was no more said for some minutes. The silence was
broken by the superintendent's rising.

"Mr. Mallory," he said, "you may go now. I must think this matter over."

And Mark went out of the door, his brain fairly reeling. He was lost!
lost! West Point, his aim in life, his one and only hope, was going! He
was to be dismissed in disgrace, sent home branded as a criminal! And
all for a lie! An infamous lie!

A few minutes later Benny and the printer's devil, his accomplice, came
out of that same door. But it was with a far different look. Benny was
chuckling with triumph.

"It worked!" he cried. "By Heaven, it worked to perfection! Even the old
man hasn't caught on!"

"Squire Bartlett's as blind as Mallory," laughed the other. "And
Mallory'll be out in a week. Remember, you owe me that hundred to-day."



CHAPTER XIX.

TEXAS TURNS HIGHWAYMAN.


There were six terrified plebes up at Camp McPherson, when Mark rushed
in, pale and breathless, to tell them the reason for his summons to
headquarters. The Banded Seven had not had such a shock since they
organized to resist the yearlings.

"Benny Bartlett!" cried Texas, springing up in rage. "Do you mean that
little rascal I licked the day he got sassy during exams?"

"That's he," said Mark, "and he's come back to get his revenge."

"And you don't mean," cried the six, almost in one breath, "Colonel
Harvey believes it?"

"Why shouldn't he?" responded Mark, despairingly. "I cannot see any way
out of it. The whole thing's a dirty lie from beginning to end, but it
makes a straight story when it is told, and I can't disprove it."

"But I thought you said," cried Texas, "that you saw Benny himself
cheating, or tryin' to, at the examinations right hyar."

"So I did," said the other. "But I cannot prove that. I know lots of
things about him, but I can't prove one of them. They've simply got me
and that's all there is of it. There are three of them, and it's almost
impossible to make the superintendent think they're lying. Think of a
rich old man like the squire's doing a trick like that!"

"Perhaps he ain't," suggested Texas, shrewdly.

"Perhaps not," admitted Mark. "Benny would not hesitate to lie to his
own father. But all the same I have no proof. And what in Heaven's name
am I to do?"

Mark sat down upon the locker in his tent and buried his face in his
hands. His wretchedness is left to the imagination. The whole thing had
come so suddenly, so unexpectedly, right in the midst of his triumph!
And it was so horrible!

The six could think of no word of comfort; for they were as cast down,
as thunderstruck, as he. Their regard for Mark was deep and true, and
his ruin they felt was theirs. They sat or stood about the tent in
characteristic attitudes, and with dejection written upon every line of
their countenances.

First to move was the wild Texas, ever impulsive and excitable. And
Texas leaped to his feet, with a muttered whoop!

"I'm a-goin' to prove them air fellers are lyin', by thunder, ef I have
to resign to do it!"

By the time that brief resolution was finished Texas was out of the tent
and gone. The six glanced up as he left, and then once more resumed
their dejected and bewildered discussion.

"I can see no way out of it. No way!" groaned Mark. "I am gone."

And the others could see no other way to look at it.

Texas was rather more bizarre and unconventional, more daring than his
companions from the "effete East," and his detective efforts were apt to
be more interesting for that reason. He paced up and down the company
street, hearing and seeing no one, thinking, thinking for all he was
worth.

"Proof! Proof!" he kept muttering to himself over and over again.
"Proof! Proof!"

Perhaps it was ten minutes before he did anything else. Texas was like a
fisherman waiting for a bite during that time. He was waiting for an
inspiration. And then suddenly the inspiration came. He stopped short in
his tracks, opened his eyes wide and staring, and his mouth also; his
fingers began to twitch with a sudden wave of excitement; his face
flushed and he trembled all over. The next moment with a joyful
"durnation!" he had turned and was off like a shot down the street.

"I've got it! I've got it! Whoop!"

And then suddenly he halted again.

"I won't tell 'em," he muttered to himself. "I'll keep it for a
surprise! But then, I'll want some one to help me. Who'll I--oh, yes!"

Texas had turned and started with no less haste the other way.

"I'll git one o' them ole cadets," he chuckled, "some one the ole man'll
believe. I know!"

At the eastern side of the camp, in A Company Street, and facing the
sentry post of Number Three, stood a single spacious tent. It belonged
to the first cadet captain, Fischer by name. And at that tent, trembling
with impatience, the plebe halted and knocked.

"Come in," called a voice, and Texas entered.

There was but one occupant in the tent--the first captain has a tent to
himself, if you please. It was Fischer, tall and stately and handsome as
usual, with his magnificent uniform and sash and chevrons. He was
engaged in writing a letter at the moment; he looked up and then arose
to his feet, a look of surprise upon his face as he recognized the
plebe.

"Mr. Powers," said he.

Texas bowed; and then he started right in to business.

"Mr. Fischer," he began, "I know it ain't customary for plebes to visit
first classmen, and especially B. J. plebes. But I got something to say
right naow that's important, more important than ceremonies an' such.
Will you listen?"

The officer bowed courteously, though he still looked surprised.

"It's about Mr. Mallory," said Texas. "I reckon you've heard the stories
'bout him?"

"I have heard rumors," said the other. "I shall be glad to hear more."

Texas told him the story then, just as Mark had told it a few minutes
ago. And the look of surprise on the captain's face deepened.

"This is a serious business, Mr. Powers," he said.

"It's one lie from beginning to end!" growled the other. "Now look
a-yere. You been a pretty good friend o' Mark's, Mr. Fischer. You're the
only man I know of in this place that's tried to see fair play. When
Mark had to fight them yearlings it was you saw he had his rights. When
they tried to get him dismissed on demerits, you were the one to stop
'em. Now, I don't know why you did it, 'cept perhaps you're an honest,
fair an' square man yourself, an' saw he was, too. Anyhow, you've been
his friend."

"I have tried to see fair play," responded the other, slowly. "I have
not approved of many of his acts, what he did last night at the hop, for
instance. But still----"

"If you knew this yere plot was a lie, would you say so?" interrupted
Texas.

"I most certainly should."

"An' if you saw a chance to prove it, knowin' that Mark'd be dismissed
if you didn't, would you?"

"It would be my duty, I think, as captain of his company. I should do it
anyway, for I respect Mr. Mallory."

And Texas seized the surprised Fischer by the hand and gave him a mighty
squeeze.

"Wow!" he cried. "I knew you would! Whoop! We'll fool them ole liars
yet!"

Then, to the still greater surprise of the cadet captain--who wasn't
used to Texas' ways--the plebe dragged him over to the corner of the
tent and whispered in a trembling, excited voice.

"Don't you tell a soul, naow, not a soul. S-sh! Do you want to turn
highwayman?"

Fischer stared at the other in alarm.

"Turn highwayman!" he echoed.

"Yes," whispered Texas. "Don't you know what a highwayman is? He's a man
what robs folks at night?"

Fischer gasped and looked dumfounded. The day that Texas had gone on his
"spree" and tried to wreck West Point he had been reported by the
surgeon on the sick list for "temporary mental aberration due to the
heat."

"This is an awfully hot day," thought Fischer. "I hope to gracious he
hasn't got any guns!"

Texas waited a moment longer, and then he went on to whisper. He had
lots to say, and one would have been interested to observe its effect
upon the officer. His look of consternation faded; one of interest,
doubt, and then finally of delight replaced it. And by the time the
other was through he had forgotten the lad was a plebe. He seized his
hand and slapped him upon the back.

"By George!" he cried. "I'll do it! It's a slim chance, slim as thunder,
but if it'll clear Mark Mallory I'll try it if it costs me my chevrons!"

At which Texas gave vent to a whoop that awoke the echoes of the
Highlands.



CHAPTER XX.

TWO MIDNIGHT PROWLERS.


On the night of the day we are writing about, there was something
unusual happening. It was neither a sentry nor an officer, this stealthy
figure that stole out of a tent in the street of Company A. He waited
cautiously until the sentry behind his tent had passed on to the other
end, and then with the slyness of an Indian he crept down the path. And
when he disappeared again, it was the big tent of the first captain that
swallowed him up.

Fischer was expecting that visit. He was up and dressing, and ready for
the other.

"There are the clothes, Mr. Powers," he whispered. "Leave your uniform
here and slip into them quickly."

The captain's voice was trembling with excitement, and some little
nervousness, too. This was a desperate errand for him. It might cost him
his chevrons, if not worse; for he had desperate deeds to do that night.

"Have you got the guns?" he whispered.

By way of answer Texas slipped two shining revolvers into the other's
hands. Fischer gripped the cold steel for a moment to steady his nerves,
and then thrust the weapons into the pocket of the rough coat he wore.

"Come on," he said. "I'm ready."

He stepped out of the tent, Texas close at his heels. The two crept
around the side, then crouched and waited. Suddenly Fischer put his
fingers to his lips and gave a low whistle. The effect was
instantaneous. Sentries Number Three and Four promptly faced about and
marched off the other way. It was contrary to orders for sentries to
face in opposite directions at the same time. But it was handy, for it
kept them from "seeing any one cross their beats." Texas and his
companion had sprung up and dashed across the path and disappeared over
the earthworks of old Fort Clinton.

"That was neatly done," chuckled Texas. "We're safe now."

"It would be a sad state of affairs, indeed," laughed the other, "if a
first captain couldn't 'fix' two sentries of his own class. We're all
right if we don't make any noise."

A person who glanced at the two would not have taken them for cadets.
They were clad in old dilapidated clothing, with collars turned up to
increase the effect. To complete this disguise, they took two black
handkerchiefs from their pockets, and in a few minutes more were as
desperate-looking burglars as ever roamed the night.

"Burglary's not much worse than conspiracy, anyway," muttered Fischer,
as he hurried along. "I wonder what time it is."

"Twelve o'clock and all's we-ell!" rang the voice of the sentry
from camp just then--an answer to the question. And the two
villainous-looking men crept on in silence, gripping their weapons the
tighter as they went.

The hotel lies very near the camp; it was only a short walk for the two,
even creeping and dodging as they were, before they were safely hidden
close to the porch of the building. The house is in Colonial style, with
big, high pillars, painted white. It was a difficult climb, but the two
lost not one moment in hesitation. They evidently knew just why they
came, and had planned their task beforehand. Texas sprang up on the
shoulders of the other, and a short while later was lying breathless
upon the tin roof of the piazza.

Fischer had dodged back into the shadow to wait. The other lay where he
was for a short while, to glance about him and recover his breath; then
he rolled over and crept softly and silently along until he reached one
of the windows. Texas had found out which one beforehand; he could
afford to waste no time now, for this was a State's prison offense he
was at.

He raised himself and glanced over the sill of the open window; he
glanced hastily about the room inside, and then dropped down again and
crept to the edge of the roof.

"They aren't there," he whispered. "S-sh!"

"Not there!" echoed the other. "Then they haven't come home yet. Drop
down."

Texas slid down that pillar with alacrity that would have scared a cat.
And the two were hiding in the bushes a moment or two later.

"Gee whiz!" muttered Fischer. "Just think of the risks we took. They
might have come in on us."

"Where can they be?" whispered Texas, anxiously. "I hadn't any idea they
wouldn't be in by twelve."

"There's nothing they can be doing around here," said Fischer. "I don't
know----"

"Look a here!" muttered Texas, excitedly, as a sudden idea occurred to
him. "I saw 'em a-goin' down to Highland Falls this evenin', an----"

Fischer gripped him by the arm.

"Jove!" he cried. "We'll go down and lay for 'em. It's a faint chance,
but if we catch 'em there it'll be a thousand times less dangerous for
us. And if we miss them we can come back. Let's hurry."

It was a dangerous business, that getting down to Highland Falls. There
were the camp sentries and the sentries of the regular army, besides,
patroling most of the paths. And any of them would have stopped those
two rough-looking men if they had seen them skulking about the post. But
Fischer had been there three years, and he knew most of the "ropes." He
dodged from building to building, always keeping the road in view so as
to see their victims if they passed--and finally came out upon the road
just at the beginning to cadet limits. Here they hid in a thick clump of
bushes and lay down to wait amid the silence of that dark, deserted
spot.

"I wonder if they'll come," whispered Texas. "I wish I had one of 'em by
the neck. The rascals----"

The words were choked in their utterance; for the officer suddenly
nudged his companion and pointed down the road.

"Look!"

That was all he said. Texas turned and glanced as he directed. There
were two figures, clearly outlined in the moonlight, walking slowly up
the road.

"It's they," whispered Fischer. "Shall we try it?"

And Texas gripped the two revolvers in his pocket and muttered, "Yes, we
shall!"

The two came nearer and nearer. Out of the black shadows where they lay
the cadets stared hard, watching them anxiously, waiting, panting with
impatience and excitement. The strangers were slightly built, both of
them, and young; Texas recognized one of them plainly. It was Benny
Bartlett; that the other was the printer's boy, he took for granted.
Then suddenly he noticed one of them stagger.

"That solves it," whispered Fischer. "They've been down to Cranston's
getting drunk. The beasts!"

That last word cut Texas like a knife; he had been that way not a week
ago himself. Texas was slowly learning the civilized view of
drunkenness.

He forgot that in a few moments more, however. There was excitement,
plenty of it, to fill his mind. The pair drew nearer still in the bright
moonlight, and the time for their desperate deed was almost upon the
cadets.

"For Heaven's sake don't let them get away," whispered Fischer. "If they
cry out, make a break for camp, and I'll fix it."

That word was the last to be spoken; they lay in silence after that,
listening to the others. Benny Bartlett, it appeared, was the more
hilarious of the two, as such feeble hilarity goes. The other was trying
hard to keep him quiet. The bushes that hid the cadets were right beside
the road; and as Benny drew near they made out that he was trying to
sing.

"We won't go home till morning; we won't go----"

"Shut up, you fool!" the other muttered, shaking him by no means gently.
"You'll wake the old man, and----"

The two watchers rose upon their knees. Two revolvers clicked gently,
which made the printer's boy start in alarm, and then came a subdued
"Now!"

Before the victims could move or utter a sound two stalwart, roughly
dressed, black-masked figures sprang out into the road. And the
half-drunken pair found themselves gazing into the muzzles of two
glistening revolvers.

"Hold up your hands!"

Half dead with terror the printer obeyed; the other sunk in a heap to
the ground, his teeth fairly chattering.

"Not a sound!" was the next gruff order, obeyed equally well; and then
the robbers got quickly to work.

It was all done so expeditiously that the victims scarcely realized it.
One of the men covered the two with his weapons and the other went
swiftly through the pockets of both.

He did not seem to care for watches or money. It was papers he looked
for, and he glanced at what he found with feverish impatience. He had a
matchbox in his hand, and he turned away from the party as he struck a
light and read one after the other, tossing them aside with an angry
exclamation. He searched the printer first and seemed to find nothing.
Then he went for Benny, tumbling him about the ground and not forgetting
to administer sundry vigorous kicks.

He had almost searched Benny, too, without success, when suddenly he
gave an exclamation of joy, an exclamation which almost caused the other
to drop his revolvers. The searcher had put his hand into a small,
out-of-the-way pocket, and found a bit of carefully folded paper.

"This'll do it!" he whispered. "Come on."

Texas' heart began to throb with joy--Texas was the one with the gun.

"Victory! Victory!" he muttered. "Wow!"

Ready to shout with excitement at his success he started to follow the
other, who was already making for the dense woods at the side of the
road. He backed away slowly, still facing the two horrified lads, still
leveling his weapons at them.

"Not a sound!" he muttered gruffly. "Remember!"

He reached the edge of the shadow in safety, and then suddenly a noise
caught his sharp ear. It was not from the two, but from up the road. It
was the sound of a horse's hoofs, accompanied by a jingling of sword and
spur. Texas glanced around quickly; it was a horseman trotting up the
road, an officer from the cavalry post! And in an instant more Texas had
sprung into the woods and was dashing away with all his speed.

"Run, run!" he whispered to the cadet just in front. "Somebody's
coming."

Benny Bartlett had not nerve to give an alarm; but the printer's boy
had. The fleeing pair heard his voice shouting:

"Help! help! Murder!"

And an instant later came a clatter and thunder of hoofs as the soldier
dashed up.

"What's the matter?" he cried.

"Robbers!" shrieked the two. "We've been held up! They ran in there!
Help! Help!"

The rescuer wheeled his horse sharply about; he whipped his sword from
its scabbard and plunged furiously into the woods. The two heard his
horse dashing up, and they knew their danger was great indeed.

Texas was flying on ahead, running for his life; but Fischer, who was a
good deal the cooler of the two in the emergency, seized him by the arm
and forced him into a clump of bushes on one side.

"Lie there!" he cried. "S-sh! Not a sound!"

The wisdom of the ruse was apparent. Crashing footsteps gave the officer
something to follow; without it he might not find them in the black
woods. They heard his horse thrashing about in the underbrush; the man
was evidently afraid of nothing even in the darkness, for he plunged
through it furiously, riding back and forth and beating the bushes. Once
he passed so near to them that Texas heard the sword swish and felt for
his revolvers instinctively. But that was the best the man could do,
and finally he gave it up in disgust and rode out to the road again.

Then the two highwaymen arose and stole softly away in the darkness,
congratulating themselves upon that narrow escape and still more upon
their success.

When they reached the camp, which they did in a great hurry, for they
knew the officer would alarm the post, they passed the sentry in the
same way, and separated, Texas hurrying into his own tent. To his
amazement he found his tent mates awake and sitting up, for what reason
he had no idea.

"What's the matter?" he cried anxiously, for he saw at once that
something horrible had happened.

"Matter enough!" cried Mark in just as much anxiety. "It's not enough
for me to get dismissed, but you have to go to work and get yourself in
the same scrape."

"I dismissed!" echoed Texas, in amazement. "How?"

"Your absence has been noticed," groaned Mark. "Lieutenant Allen has
ordered an inspection of the tent every half hour until you return.
They've been here twice now, and you're a goner. And what makes it ten
thousand times worse, I know it's on account of me. You've been doing
something to clear me."

All this was said in about as lugubrious a tone as one could well
imagine. But as for Texas, he merely chuckled as if he didn't care in
the least.

"I reckon it'll be all right," he chuckled, as he began to shed his
"cits" clothing. "Jes' you fellers go to bed an' be good. I reckon it'll
all come out all right. Good-night."



CHAPTER XXI.

BENNY IS EXPOSED.


"Well, sir, I've come to ask what you propose to do about it."

It was the pompous old squire, and he stood once more in the
superintendent's office, impatience written in every line of his face.

"Yes, sir," he continued, "I should like to know your decision."

"But, my dear sir," exclaimed Colonel Harvey, "I have not made up my
mind entirely. It is only yesterday you stated your case. What is the
hurry?"

"Hurry, sir?" returned the squire, "I am in a hurry for my rights. I
mean that my son shall have the cadetship he has earned."

"Where is your son?" inquired the other, after a moment's thought.

"He is up at the hotel," answered the squire. "Why?"

"I should like to see him for just a moment. I have one question to ask
him, if you please. I'll send an orderly for him."

The old man bowed stiffly; he sat up very straight in his chair and
waited with dignity until his young hopeful appeared, wondering
meanwhile what more the obdurate officer could want.

Master Benjamin entered the room obviously pale and flushed. He did not
feel very well as the result of his last night's "manliness," and he had
dim visions of robbers and stolen papers besides. He bowed to his father
and the grave superintendent.

"Take a seat," said the latter. "I shall not keep you long. Take this
pen and paper. I am anxious to see your handwriting. Please write these
words as I dictate them."

Benny, puzzled and alarmed, prepared to obey; he saw that the army
officer was watching him narrowly, which did not increase his ease of
manner.

"Write," said Colonel Harvey, "I--promise--to--pay-to--Nick---- What's
the matter?"

Benny had begun to write promptly. At the sixth word he had turned pale
as death, and his hand was trembling.

"What's the matter?" thundered the colonel again. "Why don't you write?"

"I--I----" stammered Benny. "I'm not very well."

"I should say not!" responded the other, angrily. "Let me see that
paper."

He took it from the trembling lad's hand.

"Is that your son's handwriting?" he demanded, turning to the squire.

Old Mr. Bartlett glanced at it quickly, a look of amazement upon his
face.

"No," he said, "it isn't. Benny, why don't you write in your usual way?
Why don't you do as the gentleman tells you? And what's the meaning of
this, anyway?"

Benny took the pen again, this time weakly.

"I'll write it," he said. "Here."

Colonel Harvey dictated it again relentlessly.

"I--promise--to--pay--to--Nick--Flynn--one--hundred--dollars--when
M.--M.--is--fired. Benjamin Bartlett. Received--payment--July--13. Nick
Flynn."

The officer took the result, laid it on his desk and took another from
his pocket to compare.

"That settles it," said he, looking up at last. "Conspiracy."

"What does this mean, sir?" demanded the angry old squire, who had been
waxing more and more impatient under the ordeal. "Why should my son be
insulted like a common criminal? Why----"

"Because he is one," responded the other, just as warmly. "Look at those
two papers, sir! Your son wrote both, and I know it."

"Where did you get that other?"

"The story is briefly told," said Colonel Harvey. "Two cadets of my
academy turned highwaymen yesterday and held up your son at the point of
a revolver. I presume he has told you."

"So that's who it was!" cried the furious squire. "So that's the kind of
cadets you have! I shall have them both in jail."

"You will not," laughed the other, "for several reasons. In the first
place, you do not know who they are, and I do not propose to tell you.
In the second, if you do, your son is guilty of conspiracy, and I shall
see him punished for that."

"This is preposterous!" exclaimed Squire Bartlett. "That paper proves
absolutely nothing----"

"His manner when I asked him to write it, and his attempt to disguise
his hand, prove a good deal to me. It proves to me, sir, that he is
lying, and that you are a very foolish and indulgent father to believe
him as you do. He has lied to me and to you, and he lies still when he
denies it. Look at him cower now, sir! I knew that this whole thing was
an outrageous plot the very moment the cadets showed me that paper this
morning. One of them is one of my most trusted officers, and I believe
his account. And what is more----"

Here the colonel stopped and glared at Benny.

"I say this for the benefit of your son, who evidently hates Mark
Mallory. I believed and was glad to believe, that Mallory, who is the
finest lad I had seen for many a day, is as honest as he is brave. And I
shall take great pleasure in telling him so, and in apologizing for my
doubts. And in conclusion----"

Colonel Harvey arose to his feet and bowed.

"I bid you a good-day, Squire Bartlett. Cadet Mallory will not be
expelled from this academy, if I can help it."

And Benny and the squire left West Point that morning, which was the end
of Mark's peril in that direction.



CHAPTER XXII.

MARK RECEIVES A COMMITTEE.


"Oh, say, Mark, I wish you'd fight that ole cadet! An' ef you do, jest
won't we whoop her up! Gee whiz!"

The speaker was Texas. His quiet gray eyes were glistening as he spoke,
and his face was alive with excitement.

The two were resting from the morning's drill, and were lounging about a
shady nook in the corner of the siege battery inclosure. Grouped about
them, and equally interested in the important discussion were five
plebes, the other members of the Banded Seven.

It will be remembered that one of the "hop managers," a first classman
and an officer, Cadet Lieutenant Wright, had ventured in behalf of his
class to request Mark to leave the floor. Mark, who was in the midst of
a dance at the moment, had been justly indignant. He had informed the
other that an apology would be demanded; and that as a cadet, having an
invitation, he proposed to stay and dance. Whereupon the hop managers
had stopped the music and "busted up their ole hop" and gone home in a
rage.

That was the end of the matter, except that there was a fight on
between Cadet Mallory and Lieutenant Wright. It was to that fight that
Texas was alluding.

"An' ef you lick him," he repeated, "won't we whoop her up!"

"There will certainly be a fight," responded Mark, after a moment's
thought. "That is, unless Wright apologizes, which he will not do of
course. I do not like to fight; I'd a great deal rather get along
without it; for it is a brutal sort of an amusement at best."

"Rats!" growled Texas.

"But it's necessary all the same," continued the other. "I do not see
how I can keep my dignity otherwise. The notion that a plebe is a
creature without any feelings who may be slammed about at will is
altogether too prevalent to suit my taste; and I propose to have the
cadets understand once and for all that they may haze me all they want
to if they can, but that when they insult me they are going to get
hurt."

"Bully, b'gee!" chimed in Dewey, with a chuckle of delight.

"Do you think you can do him?" inquired one.

"I don't know," said Mark. "And what is more I don't want to know. If I
knew I could whip him I wouldn't want to fight. I mean to try."

"Wow!" growled Texas, angry at the mere supposition of Mark's not being
able to thrash any one on earth. "Didn't he whop Billy Williams? An'
ain't he the best man in the yearlin' class?"

"They said he was," said Mark. "And I had a hard time with him. But
Wright's been here two years longer and is trained to the top notch.
He's stronger than Williams, but I doubt if he's so quick. And still
he's captain of the football team, which means a good deal, I'll tell
you."

"I wish 'twar my chance to fight him!" exclaimed Texas. "Say, Mark, you
always were lucky."

"I don't even know if he'll fight yet," laughed the other.

"B'gee!" chimed in Dewey, "I think it's about time you began to think of
getting ready to start to send over and find out. Reminds me of a story
I once heard, b'gee----"

"Good Heavens!" groaned Mark, with a look of anguish, "I'll send at
once. Everything I do seems to remind you of something. I'll send."

"You will, hey?" laughed Dewey. "B'gee, that reminds me of another.
There was a fellow lived in Kalamazoo, and he----"

"You go!" said Mark. "I'll make you my ambassador to keep you quiet. Or
at least you can tell your stories to the enemy. Hurry up now!"

Dewey arose from his seat and prepared to start upon his errand. Texas
was on his feet in an instant.

"Naow look a yere, Mark!" he cried. "Why kain't I go? I want some fun,
too. You wouldn't let me go that time to Billy Williams!"

"I won't let you go now for the same reason," laughed Mark. "You'd be in
a free-for-all fight in half a minute yourself. You go ahead, Dewey.
Tell Mr. Wright that I demand an apology or else that he name the time
and place. Throw in a few 'b'gees' for good measure, tell him a yarn or
two, and make yourself charming and agreeable and handsome as usual.
Tra, la, la."

Dewey tossed him an effusive kiss by way of thanks for the compliment,
and then vaulted over the embankment and set out for camp, marching
right merrily to the tune of "The Girl I Left Behind Me," hands at the
side, chest out, palms to the front, little fingers on the seams of the
trousers!

The remainder of the Banded Seven waited in considerable anxiety for the
return of the "ambassador." They were one and all of them interested in
their leader and hero; his triumph was theirs and theirs his.

"He'll take half an hour, anyway," said Mark. "So there's no use
beginning to get impatient yet. Let's take it easy."

"Yea, by Zeus!" said the Parson. "And in the meantime allow me to call
your attention to a most interesting and as yet unclassified fossil
which I unearthed this very morning."

The Parson cleared his throat with his usual "Ahem!" and Mark cast up
his eyes.

"I wish I had found an embassy for the Parson, too," he groaned.

But there was no necessity for Mark's alarm, as it proved. The Parson
had barely time to give a few introductory bits of information about
"the pteroreptian genera of the Triassic and Jurassic periods," when the
"Girl I Left Behind Me" once more made herself audible and Dewey
appeared upon the scene, obviously excited.

"What are you back so soon for?" inquired Mark.

"I hadn't anything to do," responded the other, hurriedly. "Wright
wouldn't see me."

"What! Why not?"

"He says there's a committee from his class coming to see you about it,
b'gee."

"A committee!" echoed Mark. "I've got nothing to do with any committee.
It's my business to challenge him."

"I know. But that don't make any difference. He wouldn't talk about it,
he just said the committee would see you about it and explain the
situation. And to make it more exciting, b'gee, they're coming now."

"How do you know?" inquired Mark.

"I saw 'em," answered Dewey, "and I told 'em where you were and, b'gee,
they're on the way in a hurry. Something's up, b'gee, and I'm going to
be right here to see it, too."

Dewey dropped into his corner once more, and after that the Seven said
nothing, but waited in considerable suspense for the arrival of the
distinguished first classmen, wondering meanwhile what on earth they
could want and why on earth they found it necessary to interfere in
Mark's quarrel with the officer.

They came, three of them, in due time. The Parson immediately arose to
his feet.

"_Hoi presbeis tou Basileos!_" he said in his mist stately tone, and
with his most solemn bow. "That's Greek," he added, condescendingly--to
the six; he took it for granted that the learned cadets knew what it
was. "It's a quotation from the celebrated comedy, the _Acharnians_, and
it----"

They were shockingly rude, that committee. They paid not the least
attention to the Parson and his classical salutation, but instead, after
a stiff, formal bow, proceeded right to their business with Mark. The
Parson felt very much hurt, of course; he even thought of challenging to
a duel at once. But a moment later he found himself listening with rapt
attention to the amazing information which that committee had to give.

Mark did not know the names of the three cadets who confronted him.
Their faces were familiar and he knew that they were first classmen.
That was evidently all that the committee considered necessary, for they
did not stop for an introduction.

All of the Banded Seven's fun had, up to this point, been manifested
against the yearlings, and it had been the yearlings, chiefly, whose
wrath they had incurred. But that hop was too much; that had been an
insult to every cadet, and Mark knew that he had made new and more
powerful enemies. He could see that in the looks of the three stern and
forbidding cadets who glared at him in silence, with folded arms.

"Mr. Mallory," said the spokesman.

Mark arose and bowed politely.

"What is it you wish?" said he.

"We have been sent to say a few words to you from the first class."

Another bow.

"In the first place Mr. Mallory, the class instructs us to say that your
conduct at the hop the other night deserves their severest censure. You
had no business to go."

"As a cadet of this academy," responded Mark, calmly, "I considered it
my right."

"It has not been customary, sir," said the other, "for new cadets to go
to the hops."

"Precedent may be changed," was Mark's answer. "It should be when it is
bad."

There was a moment's silence after that and then he continued:

"Let us not discuss the point," he said. "I always consider carefully
the consequences of my acts beforehand. I am prepared for the
consequences of this one."

"That is fortunate for you," returned the "committee," with very mild
sarcasm. "To proceed however, Lieutenant Wright, one of our hop
managers, acting, please understand, in behalf of the class, requested
you to leave."

"To continue the story," said Mark, keeping up the sarcastic tone, "I
was naturally insulted by his unwarranted act. And I mean to demand an
apology."

"And if you do not get it?" inquired the other.

"Then I mean to demand a fight."

"Which is precisely what we were sent to see you about," responded the
cadet.

Mark was a trifle surprised at that.

"I thought," he said, "that my second should arrange the matter with Mr.
Wright's. However, I shall be glad to fix it with you."

"You will fix nothing with us," retorted the other. "The class has
instructed me to tell you that most emphatically you will not be
allowed to fight with the lieutenant."

Mark stared at the three solemn cadets in amazement, and Texas gave vent
to a muttered "Wow!"

"Not be allowed to fight!" echoed Mark.

"No, sir, you will not. Mr. Wright was the class' delegate; your quarrel
is with the class."

"B'gee!" put in Dewey, wriggling with excitement, "let's lick the class,
b'gee!"

Mark was silent for a while, thinking over the strange turn of affairs;
and then the committee continued:

"Mr. Wright will not do you the honor of a fight or of an apology."

Mark flushed at that stinging remark. The speaker never turned a hair,
but stared at him just as sternly as ever, seeing that his thrust had
landed.

Mark had a way of saying nothing when he was angry, of thinking
carefully what it would be best to do. And now he gazed into space, his
brows knitted, while his six friends leaned forward anxiously, wondering
what was coming next.

"Suppose," the plebe inquired at last, "suppose, sir, I were to force a
fight with Mr. Wright?"

"If you do," said the other, "the class will take it upon itself to
prevent that fight, using brute force if necessary, and punishing you
severely for your impertinence. And moreover you will be required to
defend your right to resist their authority, to defend it against every
member of the class."

"All at once?" inquired Mark, with a tinge of irony.

"No, sir. Separately, and in fair fight."

Mark was thoughtful and silent again.

"The consequences," he said, at last, "are unpleasant. The consequences
of swallowing so gross and unmerited an insult as Mr. Wright's, given
before hundreds of people, are more unpleasant still. Dewey!"

That young man sprang to his feet with an excited "B'gee!"

"Dewey," said Mark, in slow and measured tones, and never once taking
his eyes off the three stern cadets, "Dewey, you will return for me,
please, to Mr. Wright's tent. Tell Mr. Wright for me that I demand an
apology by this evening--or else that he name a time and place. And tell
him finally that if he refuses I shall consider myself unfortunately
obliged to knock him down the first time I see him."

"Bully, b'gee!"

"Wow!"

The six plebes had leaped to their feet as one man, with a wild hurrah!
Oh, could anything have been better than that? Those three cadets had
fairly quailed before Mark's bold and sudden, yet calm defiance.

"I think, gentlemen," said he, "that my purposes are clear to you now.
And I bid you good-morning."

Half a minute later Mark was buried in the wild embraces and
congratulations of his hilarious friends; Texas was dancing a Spanish
fandango about the inclosure, and Dewey, red and excited, was on his way
to camp as fast as his delighted legs could carry him.

"B'gee!" he kept chuckling. "B'gee, we'll wipe the spots off of 'em,
b'gee. Whoop!" The more excited Dewey got the more b'gees he was
accustomed to put in.

He was back again at the Siege Battery ten minutes later, this time even
more excited, more red, more breathless than ever.

"B'gee!" he gasped. "I got it. He'll--he'll--b'gee, he'll fight."

"Whoop!" roared Texas.

"Yes," continued Dewey, "and b'gee, you can bet there'll be fun! You
see, he wants to fight. He's no coward, I could see that, and he's mad
as thunder because the class won't let him. And b'gee, I chucked in a
few hints about his being afraid, which made him madder still, so that
when I fired out that last part about knocking him down if he didn't,
b'gee, he was wild. Oh, say! He hopped about that tent like--like Texas
is doing now--and b'gee he wanted to have it out right away."

"Whoop!" roared Texas. "Let's go up now! I'll help! Let's----"

"Sit on him and keep him quiet," laughed Mark, shoving Texas into a
corner. "Now go on."

"We couldn't fight at Fort Clinton, b'gee," continued Dewey still
gasping for breath, "because the cadets would have learned. And so
finally, b'gee, he said we'd get a boat and cross the Hudson. How's
that?"

"When?" cried Mark.

"To-morrow morning first thing, b'gee!"

Texas had escaped by this time and was dancing about once more. And the
rest of the Seven were about ready to join him. This was the greatest
bit of excitement of all. The most B. J. thing they had ever done,
defying the whole first class and going out of cadet limits besides.
There never were seven lads more full of fun than these boys; and never
had they seen a chance for quite so much fun as in this daring venture.

The seven adjourned for dinner soon after that. As they "fell in" on the
company street it was evident to Mark that the story of his bold
defiance, his desperate stroke, was all about the place even then. It
was known to the first class, and to the yearling enemies, and even to
the plebes, who stared at him in awe and wondered where on earth he had
gotten the "nerve" to dare to do what he had. For Mark Mallory stood
pledged by his defiance to fight the whole corps of cadets.

He bore his notoriety easily; he returned the stares of his enemies with
cool and merry indifference, and as he cleaned his musket and turned out
for drill, or made the dust about the camp fly while on "police duty,"
there was nothing about him to lead any one to suspect that he was, of
all West Point's plebes and even cadets, the most conspicuous, the most
talked of.

The story spread so far that it reached the ears of a certain very dear
friend of his. An orderly handed him a note late that afternoon; he knew
the handwriting well by this time and he opened the letter and read it
hastily:

      "DEAR MR. MALLORY: Please come over to the hotel as
      soon as you can. I have some important news for the
      Seven, and for you particularly.

      "Your friend,

      "GRACE FULLER."

Mark went, wondering what could be "up," and he found that it was about
that same all-important affair that Grace wanted to see him.

"I hear you are going to fight," she began as soon as she saw him; there
was a worried smile on her face which made Mark smile involuntarily.

"It's nothing very desperate," he answered. "So you needn't be alarmed.
You see it's necessary for me to fight once in a while else you and I
couldn't play all our beautiful B. J. tricks."

"I guess you'd better go then," she laughed. "But I don't like it a bit.
You'll come home all bruised up and covered with court-plaster, and I
shan't have anything to do with you until you get handsome again."

"Thanks for that last word 'again,'" responded he with a laugh. Then, he
added, more seriously, "How did you find all this out? I thought none of
the cadets were going to speak to you since the hop?"

"Pooh!" said Grace. "You didn't suppose they meant that, did you? Half
of them are beginning to capitulate already. I knew they wouldn't hold
out."

"I knew it too," thought Mark to himself; he was watching the girl's
beautiful face, with its expression of action and life.

"It seems then that all my rivals are back again," he said, aloud.

"None of them are your rivals," answered the girl; and then she added,
quickly: "But that wasn't what I sent for you to tell you. I have been
finding out some more secrets. I think if I keep on practicing on the
cadets I'll be quite a diplomatist and confidence man by and by."

"What have you found out now?"

"Simply that the whole first class proposes to keep you from fighting."

"I knew that before," said Mark.

"Yes," answered Grace. "But you didn't know that they knew you and
Wright were going to cross the river to settle it."

"Do they know that, too?" cried Mark.

"They do; and moreover they intend to keep watch on you, and if you
leave camp to-night you'll have the whole class to follow you."

Mark looked interested at that.

"I can see," he said, "that I am going to have no small amount of fun
out of this business. I wish you could manage to use a little of your
diplomacy in helping me escape."

"And I wish," added Grace, gazing at him with the same anxious look he
had noticed before, "I wish I could help you do the fighting too. I hate
to think of your being hurt."

"It hurts me to have you look so unhappy," said Mark, seriously. "I can
stand the other. As a fighter I don't think you would make much of a
success. This is a case of 'angels for council; devils for war.'"

"Go ahead," sighed Grace, "if you have to go to hospital I'll come over
and nurse you."

Mark took his departure soon after that; he set out for camp, revolving
in his mind all sorts of impracticable schemes for outwitting the first
classmen that night. His thoughts were interrupted by hearing his name.
He looked up; a cadet was addressing him.

"Mr. Mallory," he said, "good-afternoon. My name is Harden. Mr. Wright
has asked me to be his second."

Mark bowed.

"Also to say that if you will be outside of your tent, dressed, at two
to-morrow morning he will have a boat ready to take us to a quiet
place."

Mark bowed again.

"Bring one second with you," the cadet continued, "Mr. Wright will have
but one. And keep this very secret; tell no one, for the cadets will
surely stop us if they learn. Mr. Wright has great doubts of our success
anyway."

"I shall do my best," answered Mark. "I am as anxious to succeed as he.
And I'm much obliged to you for your trouble."

Mark turned away and entered his tent.

"There'll be fun to-night," he muttered; "plenty of fun to-night."

There was.



CHAPTER XXIII.

A FIGHT, AND OTHER THINGS.


"Are you ready in there? S-sh!"

"Yes, I'll be out in a moment."

"Two o'clock and all's we-ell!"

The first speaker was Harden, the first classman, the second was Mark,
and the third the sentry, calling the hour.

The moonlight, clear and white, shone down on the glistening, snowy
tents; the camp was almost as bright as day. Two figures who stood
crouching in the company street were plainly visible, dressed in old
contraband "cit's clothing" for disguise. And presently two more
appeared, similarly clad, Mark and his old friend, the learned and
pugilistic Parson.

The four said not a word, but stole silently down the street to the park
that bounded the camp on the east, the river side, the beat of sentry
No. 4. One of them gave a low whistle, a signal to the sentry to face
about so that he might not "see any one cross his beat." The four sped
across the line and were lost a moment later in the shadow of the woods.

The sound of their whistle had an echo, though they did not know it. It
came from another tent and was the signal for a strange scene, one that
probably that camp had never before witnessed. In an instant, it seemed,
the white ground was alive with dark figures and black hurrying shadows.
One-third of the whole cadet corps, all the first class, in fact, were
about to engage in the perilous task of dodging camp!

There was no delay, no hesitation; the whole crowd fell in under one
leader, stole down the street, signaled the sentry; and then came a dash
and a tramp of feet that almost shook the ground. The class was gone.
Gone to stop that fight or die!

One hates to tax a reader's credulity. To say that that sleepy moonlit
camp was once more a witness of the same unusual scene not half a minute
later seems beyond the possibility of belief. Yet so it was. There was
no signal this time; they simply met, five of them, all plebes, two from
an A Company and three from a B Company tent just in the rear. They,
too, fell in under a leader, a leader who punctuated his orders with a
whispered "Wow!" And they, too, crossed the sentry post and vanished in
the woods.

There was some one to trail the trailers!

We shall skip forward to those in advance. The four would-be duelists
had no idea of their detection. They thought that their early start had
done the work. They climbed down the bank of the river, passed the
riding hall, and came out on the railroad track below, just at the mouth
of the tunnel.

"The boat is down near Highland Falls," said Harden, briefly; and then
there was silence again. Wright had not said one word since the start.

They set out down the track. They stole by the little station, with its
single light and its half-sleeping telegraph operator. And then--hark!
What was that?

Tramp, tramp! The four turned in amazement. Great heavens, they were
followed! Clearly visible in the moonlight, their white trousers
glittering, the company was marching steadily behind them. They were in
line and had a captain. At concealment there was no attempt; they seemed
to say, every one of them. "Well, here we are. Now what are you going to
do about it?" And the four stared at each other in amazement.

"Shall we resort to flight?" inquired the learned Parson.

"They're too many; they'd catch us," said Harden, emphatically. "I don't
know just what to do. I rather think we're outwitted. I--what's that?"

"Ding! dong! Woow-oo!"

"A train!" exclaimed Mark. "That'll scatter 'em. But it'll do us no
good."

A moment later there was a glare of light in the tunnel, light that
shone upon the figures on the track; and then the heavy train shot out
and came rushing down upon them. The cadets scattered of course; and in
the temporary confusion Mark saw a golden chance. It was a slow train;
he could see. A freight! And a moment later as the engine rushed past
them, he shouted to the other three:

"Catch it! Catch it as it passes!"

It was all done so quickly they had scarcely time to think. They saw the
last car whirl past the cadets; they saw the company reforming to march.
And a moment later all four of them leaped toward the train and flung
themselves aboard the last platform of the way car.

It was going faster than they had thought; the sudden jerk they got
nearly tore their arms from their sockets, and the Parson's loose joints
cracked ominously. But they hung on, all of them, with a grip like
death. And they had the intense satisfaction of hearing a yell of rage
from the cadets in the rear, and of seeing, as they clambered up and
looked behind them, the whole crowd break into a run and set out in
furious, though vain pursuit.

"That settles it," said Mark, joyfully. "We're safe! now then."

But his words were just a trifle premature. The cadets were fast being
left behind, running though they were; but there was a new danger
hitherto unthought of. The car they were on was the caboose. The door
was flung open; a rough figure strode out.

"Hey, there, git off o' that! What the divil are yez doin' there?"

The four stared at each other in consternation. Here was a rub! They
looked for all the world like tramps, to be kicked off unceremoniously
into the hands of the enemy again. But before the man could move Harden
thrust his hand into his pocket.

"Here," he said. "Take that, and shut up."

The man gazed at them dubiously. They might be burglars, robbers--but
then it was good money, and nobody the wiser. That was none of his
business anyhow. He muttered an apology and slammed the door again,
while the four sighed with relief.

"I wonder what next," said Mark.

There was nothing more; the long train rumbled on down the river bank
and the party waited in silence until Harden gave the signal. Then they
made more or less ungraceful and uncomfortable leaps from the platform,
sprang down the bank into the rushes, and a moment or so later were on
their way across the river in a rowboat.

"Which means," whispered the Parson to Mark, "that we'll have our fight
after all."

Mark had thought of that. He was already calculating the chances. Wright
had a great, powerful frame, with massive, bull shoulders and a face
that showed no end of grit. That much Mark could see. He knew, too, that
the man was a gymnast of three years' practice under a master as skilled
as Uncle Sam could find; that every muscle had been worked and trained,
that he was lithe and quick and active, skilled with foil and bayonet
and broadsword, a perfect horseman, and the captain of West Point's
crack eleven besides. Mark thought of all this; and then he clinched his
own broad hands and gritted his teeth and waited.

There was not a word said on the trip; all were too solemn and anxious.
Harden rowed--working silently and swiftly. The waves lapped against the
boat, and the ripples spread out in long, silvery, moonlit trail behind
them. And then the boat sped in under the shadow of the trees on the
eastern bank, and a moment later grated on the pebbly beach.

Harden sprang ashore and drew up the boat. The rest landed and he went
on into the woods. The three followed him a short ways, and then at a
little clearing he stopped.

"Here," said he, "is the spot."

Mark halted and gazed about him. He saw a small turf-covered inclosure
surrounded by the deep black shadows of a wall of trees. The moon
strayed down through the center furnishing the only light. It was not
three o'clock yet, and the sun was far below the horizon. Mark whipped
off his coat.

"I am ready," said he. "Let us lose no time."

Wright and his second were just as prompt and businesslike. The
lieutenant stripped his brawny frame to the waist and bound his
suspenders about him to hold his trousers. Mark was ready then, too.

"It is your choice," said he to the other. "How shall we fight?"

"By rounds," he answered simply. He was a man of few words. "My second
has a watch," he added. "Mr. Stanard may look on if he cares to, though
we shall each have to rely upon the other's honor mostly. We have no
referee."

"I am willing," said Mark. "Let Mr. Harden manage it. And let us be
quick. Will you shake hands?"

They shook. And then the "referee" pronounced the word.

"Go!"

And they went, hammer and tongs.

A man who chanced to be strolling along the river bank in the moonlight
at three o'clock that July morning would have met with a startling
scene. Just picture it to yourself, a quiet glade in the deep shadows of
the trees, and in the center of it two white half-naked figures battling
to the death, landing blows that shook the air. And all in silence and
mystery. The two seconds, kneeling in the shadows watching anxiously,
feverishly, were hidden from view.

Wright had one advantage over Mark. He had seen him fight, and he knew
his method. He knew that in skill and agility Mark was his equal; it was
agility that had beaten Billy Williams, the yearlings' choice. And so
Wright relying on his strength and training pitched right in, for he and
his second had agreed that a "slugging match" was the best way to beat
Mallory.

Mark was willing to have it so; time was short, and they might be
interrupted any moment. The sooner that unpleasant episode were over the
better. And he answered the officer's forward spring by another no less
sudden and fierce.

A fight such as this one could not last very long, for human bodies
cannot stand many blows as crushing as human arms can deal. The two had
leaped in, each bent on forcing the other back; and for a moment they
swayed, as in a deadlock, landing blow after blow with thuds that woke
the stillness of the forest depths. The two seconds sprang forward,
staring anxiously. They could scarcely follow the flying white arms,
they could not see the effects of the crashes they heard; but they
realized that any one of them might end it all, that their man might go
down at any moment.

The end came, however, sooner than either had thought. Harden, glancing
feverishly at the watch, had counted off the first minute, was counting
for the end of the second. He had opened his mouth to call time, when he
heard the Parson give a gasp. He looked up just in time to see one of
the white figures--they had been bounding all about the inclosure and he
knew not which it was--tottering backward from one mighty blow upon the
head.

A moment later the figure was lying gasping upon the ground, and Harden
sprang forward to see who it was. But he had hardly moved before he
heard a shout, and glancing about him, saw a sight that made him start
in alarm. The black woods were fairly alive with flitting white figures.
And the figures with one accord were rushing wildly down upon the group.

"Kill 'em! Soak 'em!" was the cry. "Where's that plebe? Hooray!"

It was the baffled first class.



CHAPTER XXIV.

SIX TO THE RESCUE.


Be it said in the first place, for the reader's comfort and relief, that
the figure who lay upon the ground stunned and gasping was not that of
Mark Mallory. Harden saw that as he turned again, and he groaned. The
Parson saw it, too, and uttered a geological and classical exclamation
of satisfaction, completely forgetful of his peril at the present
moment. And as for Mark, he had known it long ago; he had meant that it
should be just so.

The first classmen as they poured in upon the scene, furious and out of
breath, took in the situation in one glance. They saw their friend and
classmate, the mighty Wright, stretched helpless on the turf, and they
knew that Mark Mallory, the hated plebe, had defied them successfully,
had outwitted them, and stood now in all his impudence, his purposes
completely achieved. And their rage rose to bounds beyond the
possibility of description.

But they had him now! Though triumphant, he was in their power, alone
with no soul to help him in all that lonely forest! And like so many
wild animals they leaped upon him.

You have read of the fury of a mob? And you know what a mob may do? It
is far more than any single one of them, any half dozen of them, would
ever dream of doing. This mob had everything to urge them on, nothing to
restrain them. Had not this plebe tormented their very eyes out? Had
they not sworn to punish him within an inch of his life if he dared to
fight with their lieutenant? And was not the lieutenant lying there now,
half dead, calling upon them for vengeance?

One and all they sprang upon him. The leader seized him roughly by the
shoulder, flung him backward; the next moment Mark's arm shot out and
the man went down like a log. That made the crowd still more furious; a
dozen of them reached the bold plebe at once, and then there was the
wildest kind of a time.

Mark could not tell very clearly what happened; he was vaguely conscious
of shouts and imprecations; of flying arms and closely pressing bodies;
of blows and kicks that blinded him, stifled him. He himself was
striking out right and left, and he felt that he was landing, too. He
saw another figure beside him doing likewise, and he knew that the
gallant old Parson was at his side. And after that his head began to
swim; lights danced before his eyes, and his strength began to fail him.
He went down, and that was all he knew.

There was no restraining those wild cadets, though fully half among them
were manly enough to try. The brute passions of the rest were let loose
and there was no stopping them. They still pressed about the two
struggling plebes, a crowd roaring for vengeance and satisfaction. And
they meant that nothing should prevent their having it, either.

Something did, none the less. And it was something startling and
unexpected. The reader will remember that we left the five hot upon the
trail. The five were upon the trail still.

They had followed the crowd down the railroad track. The crowd had hired
a schooner the day before, having learned that Mallory and Wright were
going to attempt to cross the next morning; they had followed in that,
and the five under the leadership of Texas had broken the lock on a
rowboat they found and had pursued the cadets across. They had landed a
few minutes later; they had heard the shouts of the crowd; and now, wild
and reckless with rage at what they saw, they were rushing from the
woods to the rescue.

To the rescue? It bid fair to be a weak attempt, for there were just
five to attempt it, and of the others there may have been fifty. No one
could count them; they were a mob, a wild-eyed, furious mob. But of the
unevenness of the conflict the gallant five never once thought. They
knew that their leader was in peril, and that it was their business to
rescue him. And that was all.

Foremost among them was the wild Texan and he was a sight to put a
hundred in a panic, a sight to rival Hercules and his club. Texas had
snatched an oar from the boat, and as he ran he was brandishing that.
His hair was ruffled, his face was red, and his eyes staring and wild.
From his mouth came a series of yells and whoops that made the forest
echo. And a moment later he struck the crowd of cadets.

How that mighty oar did cut the air! If it had been a broadsword it
could not have swept a clearer furrow. And behind it came the other
four, all armed with clubs, making a V formation that was simply
irresistible.

So long as the cadets were unarmed the fight was very one-sided, indeed,
and the five might have rescued Mark in no time. But quick as a wink one
of the cadets stooped and seized a stick; his example was followed
instantly, and in half a minute the gallant rescuers were confronted
with a score of clubs and assailed by a shower of stones that beat them
back in confusion--stalled!

No, not quite! There was one rescuer left, a resource that Texas alone
had. Texas had received a cut across the face that made him simply
crazy. He dropped the oar, slung his hands around to his hip pockets,
and a moment later with two huge six-shooters opened fire point-blank at
the crowd.

It happened that those revolvers held only "blanks." Mark had insisted
upon that beforehand, for he knew his friend's sudden temper. But that
made no difference to the cadets. When they saw those weapons flash in
the pale moonlight, saw them in the hands of that wild-haired, wild-eyed
figure, heard the deafening reports and saw the powder flash blindingly
in their faces, they turned as one man and fled in terror to the cover
of the woods.

And they left their victims lying on the ground!

Texas was not so mad but that he had some cunning left. He saw his
chance, and shouted to his companions. The four seized the
half-unconscious, sorely-battered pair in their arms, and whirling
suddenly, made a dash for the shore. Texas himself scorned to run. He
gazed about him defiantly, balancing his revolvers in his hands; and
when he saw that the alarmed cadets did not contemplate a sally, he
backed slowly through the woods and rejoined the other plebes.

The cadets had not the nerve to face those revolvers again, at least not
at once. They had a moment later when they discovered to their horror
what the plebes were going to do.

It was a horrible revenge. Instead of going to their own rowboat, the
crowd deliberately marched out upon a little dock where the schooner
lay. They put their charges into that, and then while the big Texan
coolly faced about with his guns, the others seized the two rowboats and
deliberately proceeded to tie them on behind.

They were going to leave the whole class stranded!

A yell of fury, of horror, of fright went up from the crowd! Leave them!
Impossible! It lacked then two hours of reveille. And for them to be
absent meant disgrace, court-martial, dismissal! Wild with alarm the
crowd made a dash for the schooner, leaping into the water, running for
the dock, shouting and yelling. And Texas calmly raised his revolvers,
and stood thus, firm and terrible in the clear moonlight.

Before that figure they quailed an instant; that instant was enough. The
big vessel swung off from the dock, the night breeze filling her sails.
And Texas turned like an antelope and made a leap for the boat.

The crowd saw him land on the stern; they saw the white glistening track
bubble up as the vessel glided away; then in blank horror they turned
and gazed at each other--lost!

Texas meanwhile, soon as he saw the boat clear, had but one thought in
his devoted mind. He made a dash for Mark and staring in horror and
anguish at his white and bloody face, fell to flinging water upon him.
And he gasped with relief when he saw Mark open his eyes.

Mark's body was still stripped, and Texas, even Texas, shuddered as he
saw the bruises upon it. There was one that made the victim cry out as
his friend touched it, and Texas started back in alarm.

"Good heavens!" he cried; "his shoulder is broken."

Mark smiled feebly; and at the same instant a chorus of cries arose from
the despairing cadets on the shore.

"Tell Mallory we'll leave him alone if he'll come back," was one of
them.

"B'gee!" cried Dewey, "did you hear that? What do you say?"

And Mark raised himself with a struggle.

"No, no," he gasped. "Don't! I mean to fight them."

"Fight them! How can you fight with a broken shoulder?"

"I--I won't tell them it's broken!" panted Mark.

"Wow!" roared Texas, wildly. "Ef you don't lick 'em I will! Whoop! An'
as fo' them cowards on the shore, let 'em get fired an' bust!"

"Bully, b'gee!" echoed Dewey.

And the battered old Parson chimed in with a feeble and gasping "Yea, by
Zeus!" while the schooner sailed on in disdainful triumph.

The first class, as it seemed, did not get fired. They ran all the way
to Garrisons, the town opposite the point, and there begged a boat
secretly to cross. But the news when it spread next morning made them
the laughingstock of all creation. And Mark, in the hospital, was the
hero of the whole cadet corps.



CHAPTER XXV.

MARK IN THE HOSPITAL.


"General Miles here? Who told you so?"

"I saw him myself. He just got off the train. And there's going to be a
review of the corps and a whole lot of stuff. Don't you hear those guns.
That's the salute, b'gee!"

Texas and Dewey paused in their excited conversation to listen to the
booming of the cannon to the west of the camp. And scarcely had the
sound ceased before the roll of a drum was heard coming from the guard
tent at the head of the A Company Street.

"That's the call to quarters, b'gee," continued the bearer of the news
excitedly. "I bet we're going to see some fun, Texas."

That "call to quarters" brought cadets from every direction hurrying
into camp to "spruce up," and "fall in;" but the two, who were seated on
a bench over by Trophy Point, did not even offer to move. For that call
to quarters had nothing to do with them; that was for old cadets, the
first classmen, and the yearlings.

When the battalion turned out for review in honor of its distinguished
guest nobody thought of putting them on exhibition.

The two sat looking at the line forming over by camp, and also at a
group of figures way down at the other end of the parade ground, a group
of blue-uniformed officers, with the West Point band at the head. It was
evidently the superintendent and his staff and the distinguished visitor
with him.

"Looks as if there's goin' to be high jinks roun' hyar," observed Texas.
"It's a shame Mark ain't hyar to see it."

Dewey assented to that emphatically, and Texas after a few moments of
moody thoughtfulness, continued:

"Hang them ole cadets!" he growled. "It makes me want to git up and
slash round some whenever I think of half o' that whole battalion
pitchin' in to punch a feller, because not one of 'em was man enough to
lick him in a square, stand-up fight. Tell you, it makes my blood boil!
An' they broke his shoulder, an' sent him to hospital, an' he too much
of a man to tell on 'em at that! The cowards!"

"That's what I say, too, b'gee!" chimed in Dewey. "Mark's the spunkiest
man that ever they laid eyes on."

"That's what he is," growled Texas. "Jes' think o' whar we'd be ef
twan't for him. We'd be lettin' them cadets haze us, that's what we
would."

"Never mind," said Dewey, prophetically. "Just wait till he's well
again, b'gee! And we'll stick by him meanwhile."

"Will we?" echoed Texas. "I couldn't tell in a thousands years what that
aire feller's done fo' me. An' I know one other besides us that'll stand
by him, too."

"Grace Fuller, you mean?"

"That's what I do! Ever since Mark swam out and near killed himself
savin' her from drownin' that girl's been the best friend ever he had.
You jes' ought to go over to the hospital an' see how she sends him
flowers an' fruit an' things. They let her in to sit with him an' talk
to him where they won't let us plebes near him."

"B'gee, I don't blame 'em!" laughed Dewey. "They're afraid of you over
there, since they had to nurse you after you rode out and 'held up' the
artillery squadron at drill. But I tell you, Mark's in luck to have
Grace spooney over him. She's the most beautiful girl I ever saw, and
she's the belle of this place. I declare I can hardly believe it, that
she's joined with us plebes to fool the yearlings."

"She's jes' full o' fun," laughed Texas, "but I reckon the great
reason's cause she's so fond o' Mark. I wish I had his luck. I jes'
stand off, 'n look at her and wonder s'posin' 'twas me--dog gone it!"

Texas saw an amused smile begin to flit about his companion's merry
face; he suspected he was about to "remind" that cheerful recounter of a
yarn; so he stopped.

"Tell you what," he continued after some more thinking. "I know 'nother
girl that's dead gone on Mark."

"B'gee!" cried Dewey in surprise. "Who's that?"

"'Moll' Adams."

"Who on earth is she?"

"I reckon she came in afore you met us," mused Texas. "Yes, 'twas 'fore
you joined the Banded Seven. You know Bull Harris?"

"B'gee!" laughed Dewey. "Didn't I lick the cuss once?"

"That's so," said Texas. "I forgot. Well, Bull--'twas jes' like him--was
botherin' this girl down on the road to Highland Falls one day. He had
hold of her arm an' she was fightin' to git away or somethin'. Anyhow
Mark knocked him down, which was the beginnin' of all this hazin'
business. Bull got all his yearlin' gang after Mark. After that Mark did
her 'nother favor, got her brother out of a terrible scrape. An' I think
she's been mighty fond of him ever since."

"B'gee!" laughed Dewey. "This is real romantic. What makes you think
so?"

"I've seen her hangin' roun' the hospital inquirin' fo' Mark. An' I can
tell by the way she looks at him. I don't think she likes to see him so
chummy with Grace."

"That's more romantic yet," chuckled Dewey. "Why don't Mark care for
her?"

"You see," said Texas, "some o' the cadets, one of 'em a pretty decent
feller, a friend o' Mark's, told him that she waren't--she waren't quite
right. She's somethin' of a flirt, you know. I don't like girls that
kind much myself an' I'm sure Mark don't. He's kep' pretty shy o' her,
an' I kinder think she's noticed it."

"Is she pretty?" inquired the other.

"She's mos' as pretty as Grace," responded Texas. "An' that's sayin' a
deal. She's what you call a brunette--black hair an' eyes. There's some
girls a feller feels are all right; he feels he's a better feller when
he's with them. Grace Fuller's one of 'em. She's jes' the angel we call
her. Then there's some that ain't, an' this girl's one of them."

"Quite a character analysis," laughed the other. "But I guess, b'gee,
you're right, all the same. And speaking of unpleasant characters,
there's that Bull Harris. We haven't heard from him for a long time."

"I reckon," said Texas, "Bull's been wantin' to see what the first
class'd do to Mark since he'd failed to haze him. I reckon the durty ole
rascal's right well satisfied now."

"You don't love him much," observed the other.

"Why should I? Ain't he tried every mean kid trick he could think of on
Mark an' me, too? He's all right to bully girls but when he tried Mark
now, he found he'd hit a snag. He's been doin' nothin' ever since but
tryin' to get us into scrapes. An' I was thinkin' to-day, 'tain't no
lucky sign he's quiet. I jes' reckon he's plottin' some new durnation
trick."

"I wish he'd come on with it," laughed Dewey. "Life is getting really
monotonous the last two days since Mark's been in hospital. We've been
having so many lively and interesting brushes with the cadets, b'gee,
that I can't get along without some excitement at least every day."

"I reckon it'll come soon enough," observed Texas. "An' they say when
you speak of angels they flap their wings. I wonder how 'bout devils.
There's ole Bull Harris now, the third feller from the right in the
front rank of A."

"And he's going out to salute the general," observed Dewey. "I wish we
had another bloodhound now so's we could put it on his trail the way we
did once. B'gee, but he was mad!"

As the two had been talking the battalion had formed on the company
ground; roll call had passed quickly, and the cadet adjutant had turned
the parade over to the charge of the tactical officer, Lieutenant Allen.
The latter's sharp commands had rung out a moment later and the
firmly-stepping lines had swung around and were now well on their way
down the parade ground, at the other end of which stood the famous
general and his staff.

It was an inspiring moment. The air seemed fairly to shake with the gay
music of the band. The cadet's uniforms and equipments were glittering
in the sunlight, their banners waving on the breeze. They wheeled like
so many splendid pieces of mechanism and in a few moments more were
standing at "present arms" in one long line that extended the width of
the field.

The officers brought their swords up to the salute and the spectators
cheered, as a handsome figure rode out from the group of officers and
cantered down the line. It was General Miles himself, a fine military
figure, striking and imposing. The cadets would have cheered him, too,
if they had dared.

During this interesting ceremony our two friends of the plebe class had
gotten up and started on a run for the scene. They had been so much
interested in their discussion of "Meg" Adams and Bull Harris that they
had forgotten all about watching this. But by the time they got there
the review was over, and the cadets had scattered once more. This time
to prepare for exhibition drill of the afternoon.

The two wandered about disconsolately after that, Texas growling at
Dewey for having talked too much. And then suddenly the former stopped
short and stared at his friend.

"I know what I'm going to do!" he declared.

"What?"

"I'm a-goin' to see Mark."

"I thought they wouldn't let you in," laughed Dewey.

"I'm a-goin' all the same," vowed the other. "Ef they won't let me I'll
make 'em. Jes' you watch me!"

And with that the impulsive Texan faced about and set out for the
hospital in a hurry.



CHAPTER XXVI.

TEXAS HAS AN INTERVIEW.


Texas' promised "fun" in the effort to see Mark did not, as it proved,
materialize; because, whereas Texas had expected to be refused
admittance and to raise a rumpus about it, he was allowed to enter and
was escorted to Mark's room with all politeness.

"Well!" thought Texas, "I reckon he must be gittin' better."

This eventually proved to be the case; and Texas shrewdly guessed the
reason for it as he approached the room and heard the sound of voices
through the open door.

"With her to talk to," he muttered, "anybody could get well."

Grace Fuller was sitting by the window, dressed in white, an angel of
loveliness, as she appeared to Powers. She was reading aloud to Mark,
but she stopped suddenly as Texas burst into the room. And a moment
later the newcomer had seized his chum by his one well arm and was
shaking it vigorously.

"Hello, ole man!" he cried. "I kain't tell you how glad I am to see
you."

"Take it easy," said Mark, smiling. "I've got better news still. They
found that my shoulder was only dislocated; and I'll be out to-day."

Texas uttered a whoop that brought the attendants in on a run. He
subsided after a threat of expulsion and sat down by the bedside and
stared at Mark. It was still the same old Mark, handsome and sturdy, but
just a little pale.

"Say," growled Texas, "you've got no idee how lonely things are 'thout
you. There's nobody to lick the cadets, or anything."

"What's all the fuss I hear?" inquired Mark.

Texas explained to him what was happening; and went into ecstasies when
he was told that Mark would be out to see that afternoon's drill. With
just the same startling impulsiveness as that which had led him to pay
his brief visit, Texas sprang up again and made for the door.

"Wow!" he cried. "I'm a-goin' out to tell the fellers 'bout this. Whoop!
See you later, Mark. I reckon you're in pretty good company."

Mark "reckoned" so too, and said so, as he laughed over his friend's
hot-headed manner.

Texas in the meantime was bounding down the hall and out of the door of
the building; he meant to turn up toward camp on a run, and he had even
started up the street. But something happened just then that made him
change his mind in a hurry. In the first place he heard some one call
his name:

"Mr. Powers! Oh, Mr. Powers!"

It was a sweet girlish voice, and "Mr. Powers" faced about with
alacrity, to find himself, to his infinite surprise, face to face with
Mary Adams, the girl he had not long ago been discussing.

"Hello!" thought he, "what on earth's up?"

His surprise was the greater because he did not know the girl; he had
never been introduced to her, and he wondered how she even knew his
name. She was indeed a beautiful girl, with a full round figure, deep
black hair and eyes, and a complexion that was warm and red. There was a
look of anxiety upon her face that the cadet did not fail to notice.

"Tell me!" she cried. "Mr. Powers, how is he?"

"Why--why----" stammered Texas, adding, "Bless my soul!" after the
fashion of his fat friend Indian. "He's all right. He'll be out this
afternoon."

"I thought he was nearly killed," said the girl. "I have been so
worried."

There was a brief silence after that, during which Texas shifted his
feet in embarrassment.

"Tell me," she exclaimed, suddenly. "Do you--do you think he would like
to see me?"

"Why, er!" stammered Texas. "To be sure. Why wouldn't he?"

The girl noticed his hesitating tone, and her dark eyes flashed as she
spoke again.

"Answer me," she cried. "Is she there?"

"If by 'she,'" answered the other, "you mean Miss Fuller?"

"Yes, yes, I mean her."

"Then she is," said Texas, defiantly.

He said that with a dogged, none-of-your-business sort of an air, though
rather sheepishly for all that. The girl stared at him for a moment, and
then to Texas' indescribable consternation and bewilderment, she buried
her head in her hands and burst into a passionate flood of tears.

"My Lord!" gasped the astounded plebe.

Poor Texas wasn't used to girls; the only things he knew of that cried
were babies, and a baby he would have taken in his arms and rocked until
it stopped. But he had an instinctive impression that that wouldn't do
in this case. Beyond that he was at a loss.

"Bless my soul, Miss Adams!" he cried--no exclamation seemed to do quite
so well as Indian's in that case. "Please don't do that! What on earth's
the matter?"

Texas had a vague idea that some one might come that way any moment; and
he wondered what that person would think to look at them. Texas just
then wished himself anywhere on earth but there.

In response to his embarrassed pleading, the girl finally looked through
her tears. And her eyes, red with weeping, gave her beautiful face a
look of anguish that touched the Texan's big heart.

"Lord bless me!" said he. "Miss Adams, is there anything I can do?"

She looked at him for a moment and then she answered "Yes," and turned
slowly down the street.

"Come," she said. "Mr. Powers, I want to talk to you."

If he had wanted to, Texas could not have disobeyed; the fact of the
matter was that Texas was too bewildered to have any wants. The true
state of affairs had not dawned upon his unromantic mind.

The two hurried down the road toward Highland Falls, the cadet following
meekly. They came almost to "cadet limits," to an old lonely road that
turned off to the right. Up that the girl turned, and when she was well
out of sight of the main road, turned and faced her companion.

"Now," she said, "I will tell you. Oh, why is it you do not see?"

The look upon her face made Texas fear she was going to burst into tears
again, and he shifted about uncomfortably.

And just then came the crash.

"Tell me, Mr. Powers," demanded the girl, with a suddenness that almost
took the other's breath away, "Tell me, Mr. Powers, do you think
he--he--likes me?"

Texas started; he stared at the girl's anxious face; a sudden light
breaking in upon him. And the girl gazed into his deep gray eyes and
saw--she knew not what.

"Why--why----" stammered Texas.

"I have thought so much of him," cried Mary Adams, pouring out her
feelings, in a passionate flood of words. "I have followed him about, I
have watched him all day! Ever since he befriended me so that night when
he saved my brother, I have thought of no one but him. He is so splendid
and brave and handsome! He--never even looks at me!"

The girl's last words were said in a tone of anguish and despair, and
she buried her head in her hands once more.

"It is all that other girl!" she continued, after a moment's pause. "He
thinks of no one but her! Oh, how I hate her! He is with her all the
time; he asked her to join that society----"

"How--how on earth did you know?" gasped Texas.

"Do you think I am blind?" cried the girl, fiercely. "Do you suppose I
cannot see what Mark Mallory is doing? It is all that Grace Fuller--all!
And, oh, what shall I do?"

In a perfect convulsion of sobbing the girl flung herself down upon the
bank at the side of the road. And Texas stood and gazed at her in
consternation and embarrassment, and vowing if the gods ever got him out
of that most incomprehensible fix, he'd never look at a girl again. A
dozen Comanches could not have inspired Texas with half the awe that
this one passionate and beautiful creature did.

"Miss Adams," he said, at last, "I--I really don't think Mark knows how
you regard him."

"I know it," sobbed the girl; "he doesn't! But I cannot tell him!"

A sudden and brilliant idea flashed across Texas' mind.

"I can!" he exclaimed. "I can, an' I will."

The girl sprang to her feet and stared at him.

"No! no!" she cried, in horror. "What would----"

But Texas had already turned and was striding off in excitement.

"Gosh!" he muttered. "That's jes' the thing! I'll tell Mark fo' her, ef
she kaint. An' anyhow, I couldn't keep a secret from Mark. Dog gone it,
I'd have to ask his advice. This yere's a 'portant matter."

Texas heard Mary Adams crying out to him to come back, imploring him to
listen to her. But Texas, once well out of that embarrassing fix and
beyond the spell of the beautiful girl had no idea of returning to his
uncomfortable position. And to his rough old heart there was no reason
on earth why he should not tell Mark. Who else ought to know it but
Mark?

"An'," muttered Texas, "ef she ain't got sense 'nough to tell him, I
will."

So, deaf to the girl's entreaties, he left her to bemoan her fate alone
and set out in hot haste for camp.



CHAPTER XXVII.

A PLOT TO BEAT "THE GENERAL."


Now the adventures of Texas were wild and exciting, to him, anyway. But
up at camp in the meantime another plebe was having adventures that
fairly put Texas into the shade. The plebe was "Indian," and you may
listen and judge for yourself of the adventures.

Indian had been rather less credulous of late, but the yearlings were
still anxiously watching for another chance to have some fun with him.
The chance came that day.

Nelson A. Miles is a hero of a hundred fights, and as major general he
commands the United States army. The more they considered the importance
of that mighty visitor, the more the yearlings began to think of that
plan. There were a dozen of them got together that morning and swore
they'd fool Indian or die in the effort.

Indian of course had seen the review and had been mightily impressed in
his innocent soul. From the distance he had admired the military figure
and imposing features of the great man. And then, filled with resolves
to fight loyally under him and perhaps some day to be like him, he had
turned away and strolled solemnly back to camp.

He entered his tent, still in that serious, that really heroic mood.
There was no one in the tent, and so Indian had it all alone for his
meditations philosophical.

"Oh, what a fine thing it must be to be a great hero like that!" he
mused. "To gaze upon the world from a large, ethereal standpoint"--an
ethereal standpoint would have made unsteady standing even for a hero;
but Indian did not think of that. "I can have no higher ambition in life
than to imitate that man. As the poet has said:

   'Lives of great men all remind us,
      We can make our lives sublime,
    And departing, leave behind us
      Footprints----'

"Bless my soul!"

Indian had stopped his meditations with startling suddenness; and this
was the reason thereof.

He had heard mysterious sounds in the Company B tent next door. It was a
yearling tent. Two cadets had crept into it silently; and Indian heard
one of them mutter a subdued "S-sh!"

Have you seen a pointer dog prick up his ears suddenly? That was the way
Indian did.

"A plot?" said one of the yearlings. "A plot did you say? What is it?
Tell me? I'll come in!"

"S-sh!" said the other. "Do you swear eternal secrecy, swear it by the
bones of the saints?"

"I swear!" growled the other in a low, sepulchral voice. "Out with it!"

"All the fellows know," continued the other. "They'll all help. But not
the plebes! Do you hear? Not a word to the plebes! If any plebe should
hear he'd surely tell on us, and that would ruin us. He might do it, you
know, for he'd get no end of reward. They might even promote him, make
him a yearling."

Indian's little fat heart was bounding with delight. A plot! And he knew
it! Ye gods! Bless my soul! He crept close to the wall of his tent,
straining eyes and ears to listen, not to lose the faintest sound of
this most important news.

"It must be something desperate," gasped the other.

"Yes, it is. S-sh! You'll nearly drop I know when I tell you. We're----"

Indian's eyes were like walnuts, half out of his head.

"We're going," continued the yearling, slowly, "we're going to beat the
general!"

"Beat the general!" echoed the other. "By George, I'll help! I'm glad of
it. I----"

Indian heard no more. Quietly he had arisen from the tent floor,
glancing about like a serpent rearing his glittering head from the
grass. He arose; he crept to the tent door; and a moment later he was
striding down the street as fast as his little legs could carry him.

So that was the plot! Those wicked and reckless cadets who had hazed him
so much were now going to beat the general! The general could, of
course, mean only one general, the great general. There was no general
at West Point but Major General Miles.

Indian never once stopped until he was well out of camp, out of the
enemies' hands. A man with so mighty a secret as that could afford to
take no risks; he must lurk in the shadows until he saw his chance to
reveal the whole daring conspiracy. Visions rose up before his delighted
mind, visions of himself a hero like Mark, congratulated by all, even
made a yearling as the cadets had hinted. Indian even imagined himself
already as hazing the rest of the plebes.

These thoughts in his mind, he was suddenly startled by seeing two
yearlings coming near. Were they after him? Indian trembled. Nearer and
nearer. No, they had passed him. And then, once more, he heard the
words:

"Yes, yes! We're going to beat the general!"

"What! Heavens, suppose some one should find it out."

That settled it. Indian sprang up boldly and strode away, determination
in his very waddle. He knew! And he would tell!

At that moment Indian saw Cadet Fischer crossing the parade ground.
Surely, thought Indian, so high and responsible an officer as this had
nothing to do with the plot! Why not tell him? And so at him Indian made
a dash.

"Mr. Fischer! Oh, Captain Fischer!"

The officer turned in surprise. Hailed by a common plebe.

"Mr. Fischer!" gasped Indian. "Bless my soul! I hear they're going to
beat the general!"

"Yes," said the other. "In half an hour. But why----"

Good heavens, he knew it too! And like a flash, the frightened plebe
wheeled and dashed away. There was only one resource left now. He would
tell the general himself.

Across the parade ground dashed Indian, panting, gasping. Down by the
headquarters building, he saw a group of horses standing. One charger he
recognized instantly. The general was inside the building, and a moment
later a group of officers appeared in the doorway. The handsome,
commanding figure in front. Indian's heart bounded for joy; and then
suddenly the amazed General Miles was greeted by a gasping, excited
cadet in plebe fatigue uniform.

"General, oh, general! Bless my soul!"

The officer stared at him.

"A plot!" panted Indian. "Oh, general, please don't go"--puff--"near the
camp--bless my soul! A plot!"

"A plot!" echoed the other. "A plot! What do you mean?"

"They're going to hurt you--bless my soul!"

"Hurt me! Who?"

"The cadets, sir! Bless my soul, I--puff--heard them say, they
were--puff--oh!--going to b-b-beat the general."

There was a moment of silence, then a perfect roar of laughter came from
the staff officers. The general laughed too, for a moment, but when he
saw the plebe's alarm and perplexity he stopped and gazed at him with a
kindly expression. "My boy," he said, "you've been letting the yearlings
fool you."

"Fool me!" echoed Indian in horror. "Bless my soul!--how?"

"Beating the general means," answered the officer, "beating the general
assembly, which is a drum call."

The officers shook with laughter again, and as for poor Indian, he was
thunderstruck. So he had been fooled again! So he had let those mean
cadets haze him once more! And--and----

Poor Indian's eyes began to fill with tears. And he choked down a great
big sob. The old officer saw his look of misery.

"Do they fool you often that way, my boy?" he asked, sympathetically.

"Ye--yes!" answered Indian, at the verge of a weeping spell. "Ye--yes,
th-they do. And I think it's real mean."

"So do I," said the general, smiling. "I tell you how we'll fix it.
Don't you let on they succeeded."

"I can't help it," moaned Indian. "They know! L-look!"

With trembling finger he pointed across the street to where in the
shadow of the sally port of the academy stood a group of hilarious
yearlings, fully half the class, wild with glee. The general shook his
head as he looked, and poor Indian got out his handkerchief as a
precaution.

"Too bad!" said the former. "Too bad, I declare! We'll have to turn that
joke on them somehow or other. Let me see. Let me see. How would you
like it for me to help you get square, as you boys say?"

Indian gazed up at the stalwart and kindly form confidingly; he was all
smiles in a moment.

"I'll tell you," said the general at last, "you and I'll take a walk.
And when they see you with me, they'll be sorry they sent you. Come on."

He took the arm of the delighted Indian, who was scarcely able to
realize the extent of his good fortune.

"You'll excuse me a short while, gentlemen," said General Miles to his
military staff. "I'll return shortly. And now," to Indian, "where shall
we go? I guess I'll let you show me about camp."

And sure enough, pinching himself to make sure if he really were awake,
Indian, on the arm of the mighty guest of West Point, commander of Uncle
Sam's whole army, marched away up the road past the parade ground and
all through Camp McPherson.

The general was enjoying the joke hugely, but he affected not to notice
it, and plied the plebe with questions.

Why did the yearlings haze him so much? Was he B. J.? Oh, it was because
he was a friend of Mark Mallory's, was it! General Miles had heard of
Mark Mallory. He was the plebe who had saved the life of the general's
friend, Judge Fuller's daughter. A beautiful girl that! And a splendid
act! Indian had seen it, had he? Colonel Harvey had described it to the
general. The general would like to meet Mark Mallory. No, he was not
joking; he really would. Mr. Mallory was in hospital, was he? Too bad!
Had been too B. J., had he? The general liked B. J. plebes. He hoped
Mark was not badly hurt. And----

Then suddenly the conversation was interrupted by a cry of joy from
Indian.

"There's Mark now! He's out of hospital!"

"That handsome lad down the street there?" inquired the general, "let us
go down by all means."

A moment later, Mark, to his great amazement, was confronted by the
curiously contrasted pair. Indian was beaming like a sunflower.

"Mr. Mallory," he said, with a flourish, "allow me to present my friend,
General Miles."

Mark bowed, and the general took the hand he held out.

"Mr. Mallory," he said, "I am proud to meet you. I have heard of what
you have done. The service needs such men as you."

And the whole corps heard him say so, too. The general had been very
careful to say those words in a loud and clear voice that made the camp
ring. Then he turned and spoke to an orderly who was passing.

"Tell my staff to ride up here for me," he said, and added, turning to
the two radiant plebes: "Now, my young friends, I must ask you to excuse
me. I am very pleased to have met you both. Good-morning, Mr. Smith, and
Mr. Mallory."

With which he turned and strode away up the street again, smiling at the
recollection of the incident. And Mark stood and stared at his grinning
friend Indian.

"Well," said he, "you blessed idiot, you certainly do beat the Dutch!"

And then he turned and went into the tent.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

"BULL" FINDS AN ALLY.


"For Heaven's sake, man, you don't mean this for a fact, do you?"

It was Mark who spoke; he sat alone in his tent with Texas late that
evening, and Texas was telling him the story of Mary Adams and what she
had done during the day.

"And did she tell you to tell me this?" Mark continued, in amazement.

"No," said Texas; "she didn't want me to a bit. I couldn't make her out
't all. She wanted you to know it, but she didn't want me to tell it."

"I'm afraid," laughed the other, "that you haven't a very delicate sense
of propriety. I'm afraid you're no ladies' man, Texas."

"That's all right," answered Texas. "I think I managed this yere affair
right well. Now, what I want to know is, what you're goin' to do 'bout
it?"

"That's just what I want to know," said his friend. "I'm as puzzled as
you. Why, I hadn't the least idea the poor girl felt that way about me."

"Don't you care for her?"

"Why, of course, man. I like her well enough, from what I know of her.
But I don't want any of that sickly, sentimental business in mine, and
especially about a girl like her. I'm afraid of her, and I don't know
what on earth to say to her. I wish to gracious, old man, you hadn't
said a word to me about it."

Texas gazed at Mark with a grieved expression. That was a nice thing to
say to a man who was just priding himself on having managed a delicate
affair so nicely. And Texas arose to his feet.

"Well," said he, "I'm sorry you don't like it. An' ef that's all I git,
I'll keep out of it."

With which he bounced out of the tent and strode away. Mark also left
the tent for a walk a moment later, still thinking.

The girl was sincere, that was certain. And he knew it all, and so did
she. The question was, what could Mark do without hurting her feelings.
She was wildly jealous of Grace. Now Mark had not the remotest idea of
dropping Grace Fuller, his "angel"; he did not like even to think of her
in connection with this girl. He knew in his heart it would be best to
let Mary Adams alone from this time on. But what would she think then?

Mark was weighing this question as he went. He was not noticing,
meanwhile, where he was going. It was within half an hour or so of
tattoo he knew, and a dark, cloudy night. He had taken the path down
through "Flirtation Walk," heeding no one; he had strolled to the other
end, and turned to retrace his steps when suddenly he halted in
surprise. A dark figure was hurrying past him, and as he gazed at it and
recognized it, he exclaimed aloud:

"Miss Adams!" he cried. "You here!"

The girl turned and faced him, pushing aside the shawl she wore and
disclosing her face in all its passionate beauty.

"Mr. Mallory!" she cried, in just as much surprise; and then gazed at
him trembling.

"Miss Adams," said Mark, quietly, after a moment's thought. "I want to
have a talk with you, if you please. May I?"

"Yes," she cried. "Yes, but not here. I want to see you alone."

She turned, and Mark followed her, almost having to run to keep up with
the girl's excited pace. They descended the hill at the end of the path,
and then on they went almost to the Hudson's shore. It was a dark,
deserted spot, and there the girl halted. Mark stopped too, and she
turned about and gazed at him.

"Now, then," said she.

Mark said nothing at first; he was watching her features, admiring them
and at the same time wondering at the emotion they showed. Her cheeks
became red as fire under his gaze.

"Mr. Powers has told you all?" she demanded at last. "He has; I can see
it!"

Mark started as he noticed the tone of her voice; he had never heard her
speak that way before. Usually her voice was soft and melodious, a voice
with a hidden, musical charm. Now it was cold and harsh, and Mark knew
at once what that meant.

The girl was angry already. She saw that he was about to cast her aside,
after all her passionate, humiliating confession. And she was putting a
bold, brazen front upon it.

"I can see!" she cried, suddenly. "I can see it all in your face. You do
not care for me!"

"Miss Adams," he began, quietly; the girl shook her head impatiently.

"Call me Mary or Moll!" she exclaimed. "Call me Mary and be done with
it. They all do."

Mark was puzzled. He did not wish to call her Mary, he did not wish to
indicate any familiarity. He saw on the other hand that to refuse would
be to cut her to the quick; but he chose the latter course.

"I shall call you Miss Adams," he said, decisively. "And I want to
explain to you----"

The girl stamped her foot upon the ground.

"There is no need for you to explain!" she cried. "I know! I know it
all! I have watched you, followed you, dreamed of you, and you have
flung me off."

As she spoke, the girl had been striding about the spot. As she finished
she bowed her head and broke into a passion of tears.

"But, Miss Adams," expostulated Mark, "you will not let me explain."

"'Explain!'" The girl raised her head and tossed her dark hair in anger,
while her eyes flashed. "I do not want you to explain! Your explanations
are simply honeyed words to hide the facts. I know the facts. You want
to tell me why. I know why! It is because of her, of her! I hate her,
the yellow-haired creature. And I hate you! Yes, I hate you! You have
treated me as if I were a puppet, as if I had no right to live. And I do
not want to live. I have no use for life. I wish I were dead!"

The girl had raised her hands to the sky, a weird figure; she gazed
about her despairingly as she finished.

"I wish I were dead!" she cried, again.

The wind whistled through the lonely trees as she spoke, and made a
strange accompaniment to her impassioned voice. A steamboat, plying the
river, was softly churning little waves that lapped against the shore
and made a low, gurgling sound upon the rocks. The girl gazed over the
steep, dark bank as she cried out in her wretchedness, and the next
instant she sprang forward.

The thought had flashed over Mark at the same moment. He saw the girl
move, and seized her. She turned upon him with the fury of a tiger, a
tiger she was, with all a tiger's passions. For a moment they struggled
and wrestled, the girl crying out all the time. And then she tore
herself loose with one mighty effort--Mark had only one free hand--and
lunged down, down into the darkness.

Mark heard a splash and a gurgle of the black invisible waters. And then
all was silent as the grave.

Mark Mallory hesitated, hesitated for the first time in his life. One
arm was bound tight in a sling and helpless. He was weak and faint yet
from his maltreatment. Still he could not see her die without trying to
save her. His hesitation gone, he took a step forward, but he was too
late.

There was a quick noise behind him; he heard the word "coward!" hissed
in his ear, and a white figure shot past him and dived out into the
darkness.

Mark gasped with relief; and quick to act, he turned, and helpless
though he was, clambered down around the side to reach the spot. He
heard sounds of a struggle out beyond him; he heard some whispered
words, and a moment later the figure of the rescuer arose out of the
water and confronted him, bearing the girl in his arms.

It was Bull Harris!

Mark started back instinctively; and Bull sneered as he saw it.

"Coward!" he repeated. "Coward! The corps shall know of this!"

Mark knew that expostulation and explanation were useless and
unnecessary. He said not a word, but saw the girl safely brought to
shore. And then, sad and heavy at heart, he turned and walked back
toward the camp.

Bull Harris stayed, to reap the fruit of his labors. He held the
half-fainting, half-hysterical girl in his arms and wiped her straying
hair from her face and sought to calm her. He seemed to like his task,
for when she was better he made no move to stop.

"Did he push you over?" inquired Bull, insinuatingly.

"No," cried the girl, with fierceness. "He did not. But I hate him!"

"You might say he did then!" the yearling whispered softly.

Mary Adams glanced at him with a sharp look.

"I might," she said, "if I chose. And I may. What's that to you?"

"To me!" cried Bull clinching the girl's hand in his until she cried
out. "To me! I hate him! I could kill him!"

"You were rude to me once," she muttered.

"Yes," exclaimed Bull. "I was. You liked him, and I hated you for it."

That was a lie, but the girl did not choose, for some reason, to say so.

"Come," she said, striving to arise. "Help me home."

"One moment!" cried Bull, holding her back. "Promise me one thing, one
thing before you go."

"What is it?"

"I know the whole story, Mary," he said. "I know how he has treated you,
how he has cast you off, made a puppet of you, and all for that Grace
Fuller! You say you hate him. So do I. Promise me, promise me to be
revenged if you have to die for it."

"I will!" cried she, furiously.

"Will you give me your hand on it?"

"I will."

Bull took her home that night, though he was in no hurry about it. He
came in after taps, for he thought it would do him good to hand in his
explanation that he had been saving a girl's life, and restoring her to
consciousness. A girl; perhaps a girl upon whom murder had been
attempted.

He evaded all details, however, and went to his tent chuckling
triumphantly at his evil work that night.

He had laid a foundation for trouble, but would success follow?

Only the future could tell.



CHAPTER XXIX.

STRANGE CONDUCT.


"Say, fellows, what do you think?"

"What's the matter?"

"Mallory's given in!"

"Given in! How do you mean?"

"He's going to let himself be hazed."

"What!"

Two more surprised cadets than the two who uttered this last exclamation
it would be hard to imagine. They had been sitting on a bench near
Trophy Point, and one of them had been carelessly tinkling a mandolin.
He had dropped the instrument and leaped to his feet. Now he was staring
with open mouth at the new arrival, who bore the extraordinary tidings.

"Mallory given up! Gus Murray, what on earth do you mean?"

The three were yearlings, all of them. The crowd which has usually been
designated in these stories as "Bull Harris' gang." There was Gus
Murray, the new arrival, a low, brutal-looking chap. There was the
sickly and disagreeable "Merry" Vance. And there was the little fellow
"Baby" Edwards, the meanest of them all.

"You surely can't mean," cried Vance, "that Mallory has consented to
allow the fellows to haze him?"

"Better than that even," chuckled Murray. "Better than that!"

"For Heaven's sake," gasped the other, "sit down and tell us what you do
mean. What is the use of talking riddles?"

Thus enjoined, Gus Murray explained; he was nothing loath to tell the
tale.

"I'll tell you how it was," he said. "I was never more astounded in my
life. I saw that plebe strolling down the street a while ago, holding
his head high as ever and looking as if he owned the place."

"Confound him!" muttered Vance.

"You know," the other continued, "he's never done any work like the rest
of the plebes. Usually we yearlings make them fix our tents and guns,
and carry water, and so on. Mallory never has, and of course nobody's
succeeded in making him. I thought I'd guy him a little just now and see
how he'd take it. So I stopped and said, 'See here, plebe. Let me show
you how to clean a gun.'"

"And what did he say?" cried Vance.

"Just as B. J. as ever," growled Murray. "'Thank you,' he said, 'I'll go
get mine and let you do it.' Of course he knew perfectly well that I
wanted to show him on mine and let him do the work. I said to him,
'I've a gun to show you on, if you please.' And by George----"

"You don't mean he cleaned your gun for you!" gasped Baby.

"That's just exactly what I do! You might have knocked me over with a
feather. He said, 'Certainly, sir.' Yes, by jiminy, he actually said
'sir.' And when I left him he was working away like a beaver. He had the
gun half cleaned. What do you think of that?"

Gus finished and gazed at his two companions triumphantly. He felt that
he had accomplished something that no other member of his class ever
had.

"I'll bet Mallory was afraid of you," chirruped Baby Edwards. "Don't you
suppose that's it, Merry?"

Vance picked up his mandolin and resumed his cynical smile.

"I'll tell you what I think," he said.

"What?" demanded Murray.

"That you're a fool."

"What do you mean?"

"Simply," said Vance, "that Mallory was playing some kind of a joke on
you."

"But he wasn't!" cried the other. "I went back after he was through and
the gun was perfect. The wood was polished till it shone like a mirror.
I actually did not like to touch it, it was so pretty."

"And how about the rest of the tent?" inquired Vance.

"He hadn't disturbed a thing. I looked particularly. I tell you, man,
that Mallory has given in."

"It's not much like him," said Merry, dubiously.

"You don't have to look very far for the cause," began Murray. "You
remember how the first class gave him a licking the other day?"

Vance admitted that might have something to do with it.

"It's got everything," chuckled Murray. "It's simply broken his spirit.
Why look, man! He was black and blue all over. Even now one of his arms
is in a sling. I tell you he's made up his mind that it isn't safe to
carry on as he's been, and so he's decided to get meek and mild for a
change."

"And, oh, say, if it's true!" cried Baby, excitedly. "If it's true! Gee
whiz, won't we have some fun!"

"Just won't we!" responded Murray, doubling up his fists and glaring as
if the hated plebe were really in front of him. "I just tell you I mean
to make him wish he'd never been born. I've been waiting for a chance to
get even with that confounded beast, and now I'll have him."

For the next half hour there was joy unbounded among those three young
gentlemen. Only those who are familiar with their dispositions can
comprehend the amount of satisfaction they felt; and only those who know
our friend Mark Mallory's character as they did can appreciate their
surprise at his "flunk."

"I wish Bull were here to hear about it," remarked Baby at last.

"Where is Bull anyhow?" inquired Murray, who was chief lieutenant in
Bull's gang and an invaluable assistant in all of Bull's schemes for
revenge upon Mark.

That question changed the topic of conversation for a few minutes. It
was Vance who answered it.

"There's something mysterious about Bull," he said. "I've been puzzling
my head to think what it means. You know Bull was absent from taps last
night."

"What!"

"Yes, he was. And you know that's a pretty serious offense. It may mean
court-martial, you know."

"Good gracious!" gasped Baby. "What would we do without Bull?"

"I guess we won't have to," laughed Vance. "You needn't begin to worry.
I was corporal of the guard last night when Bull came in to report. It
was way after eleven."

"Where on earth had he been?"

"He wouldn't tell me. He was very mysterious. It seems that he had been
in the water somehow and was soaking wet; all I could get out of him was
that the business had something to do with Mary Adams."

"Mary Adams!" cried Gus. "I thought she wouldn't speak to him."

"Well, I don't know," said Vance. "That was what Bull told me. Anyhow he
didn't seem a bit alarmed about his absence."

"The superintendent sent for him this afternoon," put in Murray. "I
suppose that was to give him a chance to explain the matter."

"Yes, and I saw Bull with Mary a while ago," added the other, shrewdly.
"I shouldn't wonder if Bull were getting up some scheme. He hasn't said
much about Mallory to-day. He's been very mysterious."

The mystery, whatever it was, was destined to remain unsolved, however,
for just then the rattle of a drum echoed across the field, and the
three sprang up hastily.

"It's dress parade," said Murray.

"Yes," responded Vance, dryly. "And now you'll have a chance to show off
that beautifully cleaned gun of yours. Come on."



CHAPTER XXX.

A SURPRISE FOR MURRAY.


Gus Murray went straight to his tent when the group broke up. He hastily
dusted off his clothes and looked at himself in the glass to make sure
that nothing was out of place. Then he took up his gun from the rack and
hurried out to "fall in."

A moment later the order was given, "'Tention company!" and after roll
call the battalion wheeled and marched out upon the parade ground.

The ceremony of dress parade has been described in these pages before.
The solemn cadet adjutant formed the parade and then turned it over to
his superior. The gayly-dressed band marched down the line and took its
station. A few moments later the battalion was in the midst of its
evolutions.

It was not very long before they halted again, down toward the southern
end of the plain, to go through the manual of arms. It was then that Gus
Murray received a shock.

The cadets had been marching with their guns at a "carry." Gus had held
his that way ever since he picked it up, and then suddenly the
lieutenant in command gave the order:

"Present--arms!"

In a "carry" the soldier holds his gun in the right hand, with thumb and
first finger around the trigger guard. In coming to "present" he swings
it up in front of him and seizes the stock in the left hand, at the same
time letting go with the right and reversing his grip.

The cadet lines work like a perfect machine in that drill. Every gun
swings up at the same instant, every hand moves in unison, so that the
sound of the many motions is but one. This time, however, there was a
break, and the cause of it was our dear friend Gus.

Gus got through the first part of the motion all right. On the second
part he got "stuck"--in more senses than one. When he went to let go
with his right hand--he couldn't!

At first he could hardly understand what was happening. He pulled and
tugged with all his might. But it did no good; his hand was fast. And in
an instant the horrible truth flashed over him--Mallory--he had polished
the gun with glue!

Every spectator on the grounds was staring at Gus. As for him, he was
still tugging and wrestling, blushing, and gasping with rage. Finally he
saw that his efforts were useless, and he gave it up in despair; he
stood silent and helpless, gazing into space.

Lieutenant Ross was the name of tac in command, and he was noted for
being a crank. He gave no more orders, of course, but stood and stared
at the offending cadet in horror and indignation, while the cadets, who
did not dare to look, but who knew that something was "up," waited and
wondered.

How long this suspense and torture would last no one could tell; the tac
broke in at last.

"Mr. Murray!" he demanded. "What is the matter?"

"My gun!" stammered Murray. "I--I--why--that is----"

"Mr. Murray, leave the ranks!"

Blushing scarlet, the yearling obeyed, conscious of the fact that
hundreds of eyes were upon him. He strode furiously down the line and
once clear, set out on a run for camp, almost ready to cry with
vexation. He reached his tent, rushed in, tore off his glove, and hurled
his musket into the corner. And then he stood in the middle of his tent
and clinched his fists until his nails cut the palms of his hands.

"By Heaven!" he cried, "I'll be revenged on that plebe if I have to kill
him to do it!"

He stayed in his tent, nursing his wrath and resentment, until the
battalion marched back to camp. And he refused to come out then; his
classmates who inquired as to what was the matter received angry replies
for their pains. And when the corps marched down to supper Murray still
sat where he was. He didn't want any supper.

He was in just the mood to welcome a visitor who came then. The visitor
was Murray's chum and crony, Bull Harris.

"Hello, old man," said he, pushing aside the tent flap. "What's up?"

"Go to blazes!" responded Murray, by way of answer.

"Come, come," said Bull, pleasantly. "You don't want to get mad with me,
Gus. Tell me what's wrong."

"It's that confounded plebe!" snapped Murray.

"I thought so," said Bull. "Well, that's what my news is about. I've got
a plot."

And the other's sullen glare gave place to a look of delight in an
instant. He leaped to his feet with an exclamation of joy.

"By George, I knew it!" he cried. "Quick! quick! Out with it! Nothing's
too desperate for me to-night."

"That's good," chuckled Bull. "Very good. Come, let us go and take a
walk. This is a long story; and no one must overhear it, either."

Such is the effect of bad motives upon men. Those two precious rascals
stooped instinctively as they hurried down the company street and
dodged out of camp. Bull led his company down through "Flirtation Walk"
and out to the far end of it. Here they scrambled down the hillside
until they were in a lonely, deserted glen almost at the river's edge.
It was already growing dark with the shadows of the evening. And here
Bull stopped and took a seat.

"I hope this is quiet enough for you," said Murray.

"I had an especial reason for bringing you here!" responded Bull. "All
I've got to tell you about happened here. Do you know, old man, I jumped
into the river off that high bank last night."

"What!" gasped the other. "For Heaven's sake, why?"

"That's in the story," answered Harris. "I'll begin at the beginning.
Listen. You remember how I told you a a while ago when that plebe
Mallory first came here, how Mary Adams and I had a quarrel and that
fool came along and knocked me down."

"You never told me what you were doing," said Murray.

"Never mind. I was a fool to try it, that way. Anyhow, she's hated me
ever since. And oh, how she has struggled to get that plebe. Murray, I'm
smarter than you think. I've been watching this business night and day,
waiting for my chance. And now it's come. I found that plebe and Mary
on this very spot just before taps last night."

"What doing?" gasped Murray.

Bull told the particulars.

"And, by George, I'll be hanged if she didn't end it by flinging herself
head first over that bank!" he concluded.

"What!" gasped Murray.

"Yes, sir. And then I saw my chance. Oh, it was a bonanza for me, Gus!
Mallory was lame, you know, and he hesitated. I rushed past him and
saved her life. Throwing in some heroic flourishes, so's to have the
right effect upon her. I carried her out, and upbraided him as a coward.
He was lame, I knew, and couldn't do anything if he wanted to. And it
made her hate him all the more."

"How did it turn out?"

"Splendidly. He went back to camp, and I took her all the way home. And
you can bet I fixed it all right with her on the way. I made up for what
she was mad about before; and I talked about Mallory and that other girl
until she was wild. And, Gus, we've got her!"

"Got her for what?"

"Mallory! She's our tool, man; we can do just what we please. She'll do
anything on earth for revenge. I almost think she'd kill him."

"You don't mean," gasped Gus, "that she's going to swear he pushed her
into the river?"

"She wanted to," said Bull. "Oh, Murray, you can't imagine how simply
desperate that girl was! She'd simply thrown herself at Mallory's feet,
and he'd kicked her away. At least that was the way it seemed to her,
and you can bet I didn't try to change her view. And she was crying with
rage all the way home. Her face was simply scarlet, and she was
trembling like a leaf. I was honestly afraid of her. She vowed she'd
swear to anything I said if she could only ruin him, and to get that
Grace Fuller away from him. She said she'd swear to it and stick to it
that he tried to murder her. She was even mad because I wouldn't let
her."

"Why didn't you?" cried the other.

"In the first place, I doubt if the superintendent would believe her.
There have been several plots like that tried, but he has too much faith
in that fool of a plebe. Then, too, I doubt if the girl's rage'll last
that long. We must use it while it does. All we want to do is to get
that plebe dismissed."

"That's all!" exclaimed Murray. "But in Heaven's name, how?"

"Didn't I tell you I had a plot?"

"Yes, but what? and when?"

"To-night!" cried Bull. "To-night! And I want you to help us."

Murray sprang up in excitement and joy. Bull hushed his exclamations,
and after glancing cautiously about him to make sure that no one was
near in that now black and shadowy glade, went on in a low, muttering
tone:

"It's very simple," he whispered. "It's because it's so simple it's sure
to work. It won't leave Mallory the ghost of a chance. I'm just as sure,
man, sure as I stand on this spot of ground, that Mallory will be
court-martialed in a week."

"What is it?" cried Murray.

"Listen. Mary's going to write him a letter to-night, send it to him
about midnight, asking him to come to her. Then----"

"But will he come?"

"Certainly. We can make it strong. She will. She can say she's dying,
anything to make sure. He'll go. She lives beyond cadet limits. Some of
us'll be there, catch him, tie him--anything, I don't care. And I know
the girl don't. I think she'd tear his eyes out. Anyhow, we'll fix him
there, beyond limits, and then back to camp we go, make some infernal
racket and have the tac out in no time. Then there'll be an inspection,
and Mallory'll be 'hived' absent after taps. They'll ask him next
morning where he's been, and he'll tell."

"He may lie."

"He won't. He couldn't. I know him too well. And he'll be
court-martialed, and there you are!"

And Gus Murray leaped up with a cry of joy. He seized his companion by
the hand.

"That's it!" he cried. "That's it! By Heaven, it'll do him. And if
there's any blame to bear that fool of a girl shall bear it."



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE PLOT SUCCEEDS.


That beautiful July evening, while those precious rascals sat whispering
and discussing the details of their plan, while first classmen and
yearlings were all down in the academy building at the "hop," a certain
plebe sat in a tent of Company A, all by himself. A candle flickered
beside him, and he held a writing pad in his hand. The plebe was Mark,
his clear-cut, handsome features shining in the yellow light.

      "Dear Mother," he was writing. "It is hard for one to
      get time to write a letter here. We plebes have so
      much to do. But I have promised you to write once a
      week, and so I have stolen off from my friends to drop
      you a line.

      "This is the fifth letter I have written now, the
      close of the fifth week. And I like West Point as much
      as I ever did. You know how much that is. You know how
      I have worked and striven for this chance I have. West
      Point has always been the goal of all my hopes, and I
      am still happy to have reached it. If I should forfeit
      my chance now, it would be by my own fault, I think; I
      know that it would break my heart.

      "We plebes have to work hard nowadays. They wake us up
      at five with a big gun, and after that it is drill all
      day. But I like it, for I am learning lots of things.
      If you could see me sweeping and dusting I know you
      would laugh. Texas says if 'the boys' saw him they'd
      lynch him 'sho'.

      "I told you a lot about Texas the last time I wrote.
      He is the most delightful character I have ever met in
      my life. He is just fresh from the plains, and his
      cowboy ways of looking at things keep me laughing all
      day. But he is just as true as steel, and as fine a
      friend as I ever knew.

      "I believe I told you all about the Banded Seven, the
      secret society we have gotten up to stop hazing. Well,
      we are having high jinks with 'the ole ya'rlin's,' as
      Texas calls them. We have outwitted them at every
      point, and I think they are about ready to give up in
      despair. We plebes even went to the hop the other
      night. I can hear the music of the hop now as it comes
      over the parade ground. It is very alluring, so you
      must appreciate this letter all the more.

      "I shan't tell you about the fight I had, for it would
      worry you. And I haven't time to tell you how I saved
      the life of a girl last week. I inclose a newspaper
      clipping about it, but you mustn't believe it was so
      absurdly heroic. The girl's father is a very rich man
      here, and, mother, she is very sweet and attractive.
      She has joined the Seven to help me fool the
      yearlings.

      "I guess I shall have to stop now. I hear some sounds
      that make me think it is time for tattoo, and besides,
      I am getting very homesick, writing to you way out in
      Colorado. You need not be fearing any rival to my
      affections, mother dear, even if I am fond of Grace
      Fuller. I wish I could see you just once to-night to
      tell you how much I miss you. And I am still

      "Your devoted son,

      "MARK."

Mark laid down his pencil with a sigh. He folded the letter and sealed
it, and then arose slowly to his feet. Outside of his tent he heard
quick steps and voices, and a moment later the rattle of a drum broke
forth.

"Tattoo," he observed. "I thought so."

He turned toward the door as the flap was pushed aside--and a tall,
slender lad entered, a lad with bronzed, sun-tanned features and merry
gray eyes.

"Hello, Texas!" said Mark.

"Hello," growled Texas. "Look a yere! What do you mean by runnin' off
an' hidin' all evenin'? I been a huntin' you everywhere."

"I've been right here," said Mark, "writing a letter home. Did you want
me to go to the hop?"

"No, I didn't. But I wanted you to tell me all 'bout that crazy Mary
Adams last night an' what you did. You ain't had time to tell me all
day."

Mark told him the story then. They were still discussing it when they
turned out and lined up for roll call; and that ceremony being over,
they scattered again, Texas still eagerly asking questions about the
strange affair.

Taps sounded half an hour later--ten o'clock--"lights out and all
quiet." They stopped then.

Sentry No. 3 that night was "Baby" Edwards. His beat lay along the
northern edge of the camp, skirting the tents of Company A. And Baby
Edwards let quite a number pass his beat that night.

For instance, he was on duty from midnight until two. It was bright
moonlight then, and Baby could have seen any one who crossed his post;
but he heard a signaling whistle and faced out in order not to see any
one. The person who entered was a boy clad in a blue uniform, an
"orderly," as they are called.

He ran silently and swiftly in and made straight for one tent. When he
got there he hesitated not a moment, but stepped in and crept up to one
of the sleepers.

It was Mark who awoke at his touch, and Mark sat up in alarm and stared
at him.

"Sh!" said the boy. "Sh! Don't wake any one."

"What do you want?" Mark demanded.

"I've a letter, sir, a letter from her again."

Mark stared at the boy and recognized him at once as a messenger who had
given him a note from Mary Adams about a month ago. And he sprang to his
feet in surprise.

"She writing again!" he whispered. "Quick, give it to me."

He broke the seal, stepped to the tent door, where, in the white
moonlight, he could read every letter plainly. And this was what he
saw:

      "DEAR MR. MALLORY: Oh, once more I have to write you
      to call upon you for aid. You cannot imagine the
      terrible distress I am in. And I have no one to call
      upon but you. If you respect me as a woman, come to my
      aid to-night and at once. And come alone, for I could
      not bear to have any one but you know of my terrible
      affliction. Oh, please do not fail me! You may imagine
      my state of mind when I write you like this. And let
      me call myself

      Your friend,

      "MARY ADAMS."

Mark finished the reading of that letter in amazement, even alarm.

"Did she give you this?" he demanded of the boy.

"Yes, sir, she did, not five minutes ago," replied the lad. "And she
told me to run. She seemed scared to death, sir, and I know she'd been
crying."

Mark stared into his earnest face a moment, and then he turned away in
thought.

"You may go," he said to the boy. "I know my way to her house alone."

The lad disappeared; and Mark, without a moment's hesitation, went over
and woke one of the cadets.

"Wake up, Texas," he whispered. "Wake up and read this."

Texas arose from his couch in surprise and sleepy alarm. He read the
letter, gasping; then he stared at Mark.

"Do you think she wrote it?" he inquired.

That problem was puzzling Mark, too. He had received two letters before
from the girl, under exactly similar circumstances. One had been a trick
of the cadets to lure him out. The other had been genuine, and had
resulted in Mark's saving the girl's brother from disgrace and ruin. But
which was this?

Mark made up his mind quickly.

"I think she wrote it, old man," he said. "The drum boy who gave me this
gave me the other she wrote, too, and he swears she wrote this. He said
she was frightened and crying. Texas, she lives way off there with her
old mother, who's blind and helpless. And there's no telling what may
have happened to her. Just see how urgent that note is. I must go, old
man. I'd be a coward if I didn't. She don't know a soul to call on but
me."

And Mark, generous and noble to a fault, had turned and begun to fling
on his clothing. Texas was doing likewise.

"I'm a-goin' too," he vowed.

"She says not," whispered Mark.

"I know," was the answer. "She ain't a-goin' to know it. I'm a-goin' in
case it's them ole yearlin's. Ef I see it's all right, and she wrote it,
I reckon I kin sneak home."

Nothing could deter the faithful and vigilant Texan from his resolution,
and when Mark stole out of his tent his friend was at his heels. They
passed the sentry, Baby Edwards, with the usual signal, Mark fooled for
once, was chuckling at his deception, thinking Baby thought them
yearlings. But Baby knew who it was, and laughed.

The two, once clear of camp, set out on a dead run. They dashed across
the Cavalry Plain and down the road to Highland Falls. It was nearly a
mile to where Mary Adams lived, but Mark never stopped once, not even
when he came to the dreaded cadet limits, to be found beyond which meant
court-martial and dismissal in disgrace. He took the risk grimly,
however, and ran on. When they finally reached the girl's house the
Texan was panting and exhausted.

"You stay there," whispered Mark, pointing to a clump of bushes nearby.

Texas crouched behind them, and doubled his fists in determination. Mark
just as promptly stepped up to the door and softly rapped.

There was a light in one of the rooms on the ground floor. The curtain
was carefully drawn, but Texas, watching closely, saw a shadow swiftly
flit across. And just after that the door was flung open, and the girl
stood before them.

"I knew you would come!" Texas heard her cry. "Oh, thank fortune!"

Then Mark stepped inside, and the door shut again.

Texas waited in suspense and curiosity. He did not know how long Mark
might be in there, but he was resolved to stick it out. Then suddenly,
to his surprise, the door was opened again, and Mark and the girl
stepped out.

She was leaning upon his arm, and hurrying him forward quickly. She was
evidently in great distress, and from what the hidden listener heard,
Mark was striving his best to comfort her. The two figures hurried
across the clearing and vanished in the woods. Texas arose from his
position.

"I reckon it's all right," he muttered. "It's blamed mysterious, but
there's nothin' mo' fo' me to do."

And suiting the action to the word the faithful Southerner turned and
set out rapidly for camp.

Mark, when he entered Mary Adams' house, found her standing before him,
a picture of misery and fright. He demanded to know what was wrong.

"Come, come!" the girl cried. "Quick. I cannot tell you. Oh! Come and
see."

She flung a shawl about her shoulders, seized Mark by the arm in a
convulsive grip, and together they hurried through the woods.

It was a little footpath they followed. Mark had no idea where they were
going in the deep black darkness. He abandoned himself entirely to the
girl's guidance, trusting that no slight matter could have taken her
there, and he was right.

The girl said not a word during the trip. She kept her face hidden in
the shawl, and only a sob told Mark the state of her feelings. He was
growing more mystified and curious every moment.

On, on they went. They must have been hurrying continually for at least
five minutes, the girl dragging the cadet faster and faster, when
suddenly she turned and left the path.

There was a dense thicket before them; she paused not a moment to
hesitate, but plunged into the midst of it. The briars tore her clothing
and hands, but she forced her way in. And when they were in the very
center, without a word, she stopped and faced about.

She pushed aside her veil and hair and stared wildly at Mark. He gazed
at her blood-red, burning cheeks and saw her black eyes glitter.

"What is the matter?" he cried.

She made not a sound, but suddenly to Mark's infinite horror flung
herself upon him and wrapped her arms about his neck.

"Why, Miss Adams," he gasped. "I----"

His words stuck in his throat. His surprise changed to the wildest
dismay and consternation. For he felt a pair of sinewy arms flung about
his ankles, binding his feet together as in a vise. He had only one
free arm, the other being bound to his chest with the bandages of the
surgeon; the free arm was seized by the wrist with a grip that almost
crushed it. And to his mouth another pair of hands were pressed, making
outcry impossible as it would have been futile anyway.

Mark was as motionless and helpless as if he had been turned to stone!

The swift emotions that surged through his excited brain defy
description. He saw the plot in an instant, apprehended it in all its
fiendish heartlessness; and he knew that he was ruined. He could not see
behind him; he could not identify his assailants; but he was sure they
were cadets, Bull and his crowd leagued with this wretched girl to play
upon his kind-heartedness.

And that girl! Oh, what a figure she was! She made no attempt to hide
herself, however much Bull Harris might. She stood before her helpless
victim's eyes a perfect figure of vengeance and triumph.

There is a famous painting by Sichel of the Grecian sorceress, Medea.
The woman is standing clad in white that contrasts with her jet black
hair. In one hand, half hidden, she clutches a shining dagger; her mouth
is set in a firm, determined way, and her eyes are dark and gleaming.
Imagine that figure in the moment of victory, every feature convulsed
with joy, with hatred gratified, and that is the girl Mary Adams. She
was dancing about Mark in fury, flinging her hands in his face, taunting
him, jeering at him, threatening him so as to frighten even the
desperate cadets.

They, meanwhile, were working quickly; they bound his legs together, his
arms to his side. They forced a gag into his mouth, and then lastly shut
off his view of the wildly shrieking girl by tying a handkerchief about
his eyes. And then they tumbled him to the ground and turned away and
left him.

Mary Adams stayed behind them a moment to vent her fury upon the
helpless prisoner.

"Satisfied!" she cried. "How do you like it? I told you I would have
revenge. I told you I hated you! And now, and now it is mine! You are
mine, too! Do you hear me? I can do what I please with you!"

Mark could not see her, but he felt a stinging pain in his cheek and he
felt the warm blood flow.

The girl's sharp heel had cut his flesh. And a moment later he heard a
low voice mutter:

"Come away, you fool! Come on."

They dragged her reluctantly with them. Mark heard the steps recede into
the distance, heard the silence settling down about the place. They had
left him alone, deserted and helpless, lost in the midst of the woods,
left him to die for all he knew, certainly to be missed, to be expelled,
to be ruined.

And the poor fellow groaned within him as he realized the triumph of his
enemies.



CHAPTER XXXII.

TRIUMPH--CONCLUSION.


Texas made his way back to camp in silence. Texas felt it was none of
his business, and yet he could not help trying to guess the errand upon
which those two had gone. It was certainly a mystery. Texas reached the
camp without succeeding in forming the least guess.

He raced past the same sentry in the same style as usual. He entered his
tent and found the other two sleeping soundly, having not the least
suspicion of the night's occurrences.

"I reckon," he mused, reflectively, "there ain't much use o' my sittin'
round. I'll go to bed."

With which resolution he undressed and lay down to sleep.

After such an exciting and lively half hour as the one Texas had just
spent, one does not usually drop off to sleep very easily. It was
fortunate that Texas did not; wide-awake as he was, he had a cooler and
steadier head to think when the hour of trial came. For the "hour of
trial" was coming very soon now.

Bull Harris and his cowardly allies first took the precaution to calm
the angry girl, and then set out on a run for camp. Their hearts were
beating high with hope and triumph. Their time had come at last; their
enemy was theirs, and theirs without any blame falling on them. It was a
great day for the vengeful Bull.

They passed their sentry ally in safety and vanished in their tents. In
a minute more they were all safely in bed, as Texas was, and then the
time had come.

Texas, lying in his silent tent, was just beginning to doze, when
suddenly came a wild yell that shook the air, that made the hills to
echo. It rang through the sleeping camp, and it was followed by a series
of shouts.

"Help! help! help!"

The place was in an uproar in an instant; and Texas was almost paralyzed
with horror. An alarm! The camp awake! Inspection! And Mark, his Mark,
his friend and hero, absent!

He sprang to his feet with a hoarse cry; at the same moment the other
two plebes sat up and stared about them wildly.

"What's that?" cried one.

"Mark's gone!" fairly shrieked Texas.

"Mark gone! How?"

"He's out of bounds! Great Heavens, he went to see Mary Adams! And he'll
be found out!"

The two crowded about him, their faces pale with fright, their eyes
staring.

Mark gone! Mark, their leader! What on earth would they do?

The Texan's wild exclamation had been heard in the Company B tent to the
rear, and its occupants had rushed in regardless of rules, of discovery,
of everything. An alarm! An inspection! And Mark beyond limits!

Things were happening with incredible swiftness outside. The shouts had
been echoed by excited inquiries from awakened cadets, by the cries of
sentries for the corporal of the guard, and by the quick, sharp commands
of officers.

Lieutenant Allen, the "tac" in command, had sprung up from his bed at
the very first cry. And in half a minute more, dressed and with lighted
lantern in hand, he was rushing down the company street.

"What's the matter?" he cried.

No one knew. He saw cadets gathered in almost every tent door, staring
out anxiously. Thus he did not notice the state of affairs in Mark's
tent, where six horrified, frightened plebes were huddled, gasping.

Night alarms had been getting too frequent at Camp McPherson that year,
and had excited the ire of the authorities. The lieutenant meant to find
out the authors of this one, if such a thing were within the realms of
possibility.

First he thought of sounding the "long roll," the fire or mutiny signal,
summoning the cadets out on the street for roll call. Then it occurred
to him that an inspection of the tents might do better. Another "tac,"
Lieutenant Ross, had joined him at this moment. And without a moment's
delay, the two set to work. And Lieutenant Allen started with Company A,
the very street in which Mark Mallory's tent stood!

A thousand wild plans had occurred to the six, to Texas in particular.
He might "hold up" the tac, prevent the inspection! Or dress up as Mark
and have himself reported! Great Heavens! he must do something!

The officer began at the head of the street. It was the work of but one
second to glance into each tent. It would take but five seconds more to
reach Mark's, to note the fact that there were but three in that tent,
and that Cadet Mallory was absent out of camp, out of limits!

Texas turned to his comrades as the officer drew near. There were tears
in Texas' eyes, and his voice was choked.

"You fellows," he said, to the three from the B tent, "you--you'd better
go back, or you'll get soaked, too."

Nearer still came the officer. One tent more! The three had turned to
go--and then suddenly Texas uttered a cry of joy and staggered back
against the tent wall! An instant later he leaped forward, seized
Dewey, one of the three, by the shoulders and fairly flung him to the
ground.

"Lie there! Lie there!" he gasped, hoarsely. "Durnation!"

Dewey, quick as a wink, saw the ruse. The other two, confused and
frightened, dashed across to their tent and hid, wondering what was up,
what Texas was trying to do. But Dewey slid into the blankets that made
Mark's "bed," drew the sheet over him, all but his head, and then lay
still, gasping and trembling like a leaf.

Texas and the other two sprang for their places and imitated him. And an
instant later the white light of the officer's lantern flashed into the
tent.

The four held their breath; their hearts fairly ceased to beat as the
tac glanced around. He saw a tent undisturbed; he saw Texas, and the
Parson and Sleepy; and he saw the brown curly hair of the fourth
occupant, lying upon his stomach, his face turned away from the light.

A second more and he passed on; and the four almost fainted with the
reaction of relief.

It was not over yet, though. "Allen" had two more tents to visit up that
row, and then he would turn to B Company. Texas peered out and watched
him reach the last tent, and then uttered a whispered "Now!"

Quick as a flash, Dewey slid under the wall at the rear, whisked across
the open space, and dived into his own tent--safe!

The camp settled down into quietness a few minutes after that. But the
six never slept another wink. Mark had escaped that danger, he was safe
for a moment. But another alarm might come any moment! And reveille was
sure to come in a few hours! And where was Mark?

Texas, ever sly, had become suspicious by that time; ever bold and
faithful, he lost not a moment in hesitation. He left camp again! He ran
straight to Mary Adams' house, and from it straight out the path he had
seen the two take. It was a forlorn hope, but it met with fulfillment.
Texas heard a low groan, the only signal Mark could make when he heard
the step of a possible rescuer.

And in half an hour more Mark Mallory was back in camp again, safe,
telling to his furious friends the tale of his betrayal and hearing from
them the tale of his "escape."

"We must get square, b'gee!" cried Dewey.

"Yes, we must get square, by Zeus!" came from the Parson.

"Give me time, boys, give me time," put in Mark. "I will think up a
plan."

"Gosh, but it was a night o' nights," was the comment from Texas. "But
we fooled them ole yearlin's nicely, didn't we?"

"Oh, they can't down us," chimed in Dewey. "We'll go 'em one better,
b'gee, every time, b'gee!"

And the Banded Seven agreed to a man.


THE END.



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deal with boys' adventures in India, China and Abyssinia. These books
are strongly recommended for boys' reading, as they contain a large
amount of historical information.

    Tiger Prince
    War Tiger
    White Elephant


EDWARD S. ELLIS.

These books are considered the best works this well-known writer ever
produced. No better reading for bright young Americans.

    Arthur Helmuth
    Check No. 2134
    From Tent to White House
    Perils of the Jungle
    On the Trail of Geronimo
    White Mustang


GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.

For the past fifty years Mr. Fenn has been writing books for boys and
popular fiction. His books are justly popular throughout the
English-speaking world. We publish the following select list of his
boys' books, which we consider the best he ever wrote.

    Commodore Junk
    Dingo Boys
    Weathercock
    Golden Magnet
    Grand Chaco


ENSIGN CLARKE FITCH, U. S. N.

A graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, and thoroughly
familiar with all naval matters. Mr. Fitch has devoted himself to
literature, and has written a series of books for boys that every young
American should read. His stories are full of very interesting
information about the navy, training ships, etc.

    Bound for Annapolis
    Clif, the Naval Cadet
    Cruise of the Training Ship
    From Port to Port
    Strange Cruise, A


WILLIAM MURRAY GRAYDON.

An author of world-wide popularity. Mr. Graydon is essentially a friend
of young people, and we offer herewith ten of his best works, wherein he
relates a great diversity of interesting adventures in various parts of
the world, combined with accurate historical data.

    Butcher of Cawnpore, The
    Camp in the Snow, The
    Campaigning with Braddock
    Cryptogram, The
    From Lake to Wilderness
    In Barracks and Wigwam
    In Fort and Prison
    Jungles and Traitors
    Rajah's Fortress, The
    White King of Africa, The


LIEUT. FREDERICK GARRISON, U. S. A.

Every American boy takes a keen interest in the affairs of West Point.
No more capable writer on this popular subject could be found than
Lieut. Garrison, who vividly describes the life, adventures and unique
incidents that have occurred in that great institution--in these famous
West Point stories.

    Off for West Point
    Cadet's Honor, A
    On Guard
    West Point Treasure, The
    West Point Rivals, The


HEADON HILL.

The hunt for gold has always been a popular subject for consideration,
and Mr. Hill has added a splendid story on the subject in this romance
of the Klondyke.

    Spectre Gold


HENRY HARRISON LEWIS.

Mr. Lewis is a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and has
written a great many books for boys. Among his best works are the
following titles--the subjects include a vast series of adventures in
all parts of the world. The historical data is correct, and they should
be read by all boys, for the excellent information they contain.

    Centreboard Jim
    King of the Island
    Midshipman Merrill
    Yankee Boys in Japan
    Ensign Merrill
    Sword and Pen
    Valley of Mystery, The


LIEUT. LIONEL LOUNSBERRY.

A series of books embracing many adventures under our famous naval
commanders, and with our army during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
Founded on sound history, these books are written for boys, with the
idea of combining pleasure with profit; to cultivate a fondness for
study--especially of what has been accomplished by our army and navy.

    Cadet Kit Carey
    Captain Carey
    Kit Carey's Protegé
    Lieut. Carey's Luck
    Out With Commodore Decatur
    Randy, the Pilot
    Tom Truxton's School Days
    Tom Truxton's Ocean Trip
    Treasure of the Golden Crater
    Won at West Point


BROOKS McCORMICK.

Four splendid books of adventure on sea and land, by this well-known
writer for boys.

    Giant Islanders, The
    How He Won
    Nature's Young Nobleman
    Rival Battalions


WALTER MORRIS.

This charming story contains thirty-two chapters of just the sort of
school life that charms the boy readers.

    Bob Porter at Lakeview Academy


STANLEY NORRIS.

Mr. Norris is without a rival as a writer of "Circus Stories" for boys.
These four books are full of thrilling adventures, but good, wholesome
reading for young Americans.

    Phil, the Showman
    Young Showman's Rivals, The
    Young Showman's Pluck, The
    Young Showman's Triumph


LIEUT. JAMES K. ORTON.

When a boy has read one of Lieut. Orton's books, it requires no urging
to induce him to read the others. Not a dull page in any of them.

    Beach Boy Joe
    Last Chance Mine
    Secret Chart, The
    Tom Havens with the White Squadron


JAMES OTIS.

Mr. Otis is known by nearly every American boy, and needs no
introduction here. The following copyrights are among his best:

    Chased Through Norway
    Inland Waterways
    Reuben Green's Adventures at Yale
    Unprovoked Mutiny
    Wheeling for Fortune


GILBERT PATTEN.

Mr. Patten has had the distinction of having his books adopted by the
U. S. Government for all naval libraries on board our war ships. While
aiming to avoid the extravagant and sensational, the stories contain
enough thrilling incidents to please the lad who loves action and
adventure. In the Rockspur stories the description of their Baseball and
Football Games and other contests with rival clubs and teams make very
exciting and absorbing reading; and few boys with warm blood in their
veins, having once begun the perusal of one of these books, will
willingly lay it down till it is finished.

    Boy Boomers
    Boy Cattle King
    Boy from the West
    Don Kirke's Mine
    Jud and Joe
    Rockspur Nine, The
    Rockspur Eleven, The
    Rockspur Rivals, The


ST. GEORGE RATHBORNE.

Mr. Rathborne's stories for boys have the peculiar charm of dealing with
localities and conditions with which he is thoroughly familiar. The
scenes of these excellent stories are along the Florida coast and on the
western prairies.

    Canoe and Camp Fire
    Paddling Under Palmettos
    Rival Canoe Boys
    Sunset Ranch
    Chums of the Prairie
    Young Range Riders
    Gulf Cruisers
    Shifting Winds


ARTHUR SEWELL.

An American story by an American author. It relates how a Yankee boy
overcame many obstacles in school and out. Thoroughly interesting from
start to finish.

    Gay Dashleigh's Academy Days


CAPT. DAVID SOUTHWICK.

An exceptionally good story of frontier life among the Indians in the
far West, during the early settlement period.

    Jack Wheeler


The Famous Frank Merriwell Stories.

BURT L. STANDISH.

No modern series of tales for boys and youths has met with anything like
the cordial reception and popularity accorded to the Frank Merriwell
Stories. There must be a reason for this and there is. Frank Merriwell,
as portrayed by the author, is a jolly whole-souled, honest, courageous
American lad, who appeals to the hearts of the boys. He has no bad
habits, and his manliness inculcates the idea that it is not necessary
for a boy to indulge in petty vices to be a hero. Frank Merriwell's
example is a shining light for every ambitious lad to follow. Six
volumes now ready:

    Frank Merriwell's School Days
    Frank Merriwell's Chums
    Frank Merriwell's Foes
    Frank Merriwell's Trip West
    Frank Merriwell Down South
    Frank Merriwell's Bravery
    Frank Merriwell's Hunting Tour
    Frank Merriwell's Races
    Frank Merriwell's Sports Afield
    Frank Merriwell at Yale


VICTOR ST. CLAIR.

These books are full of good, clean adventure, thrilling enough to
please the full-blooded wide-awake boy, yet containing nothing to which
there can be any objection from those who are careful as to the kind of
books they put into the hands of the young.

    Cast Away in the Jungle
    Comrades Under Castro
    For Home and Honor
    Zip, the Acrobat
    From Switch to Lever
    Little Snap, the Post Boy
    Zig-Zag, the Boy Conjurer


MATTHEW WHITE, JR.

Good, healthy, strong books for the American lad. No more interesting
books for the young appear on our lists.

    Adventures of a Young Athlete
    Eric Dane
    Guy Hammersley
    My Mysterious Fortune
    Tour of a Private Car
    Young Editor, The


ARTHUR M. WINFIELD.

One of the most popular authors of boys' books. Here are three of his
best.

    Mark Dale's Stage Venture
    Young Bank Clerk, The
    Young Bridge Tender, The


GAYLE WINTERTON.

This very interesting story relates the trials and triumphs of a Young
American Actor, including the solution of a very puzzling mystery.

    Young Actor, The


ERNEST A. YOUNG.

This book is not a treatise on sports, as the title would indicate, but
relates a series of thrilling adventures among boy campers in the woods
of Maine.

    Boats, Bats and Bicycles



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

The following typographical errors present in the original edition
have been corrected.

In Chapter II, "sword of the tryant" was changed to "sword of the
tyrant", and "meant to spent that half-holiday" was changed to "meant to
spend that half-holiday".

In Chapter III, "wondering about everythings" was changed to "wondering
about everything".

In Chapter V, a missing period was added after "from two minutes to
twenty", and "B. B. J!" was changed to "B. B. J.!".

In Chapter VII, "the B. J-est plebe" was changed to "the B. J.-est
plebe", "as those yearlings had even seen" was changed to "as those
yearlings had ever seen", and "'Will they try it' he thought?" was
changed to "'Will they try it?' he thought."

In Chapter X, "his face on a broad grin" was changed to "on his face a
broad grin".

In Chapter XI, a missing question mark was added after "Is he hurt".

In Chapter XIV, "a rougish look" was changed to "a roguish look", and a
quotation mark was removed before "It'll take lots of planning
beforehand".

In Chapter XX, "some little nervousness, to" was changed to "some little
nervousness, too".

In Chapter XXII, "the corner of the seige battery inclosure" was changed
to "the corner of the siege battery inclosure", "that reminds be of
another" was changed to "that reminds me of another", "his mist stately
tone" was changed to "his mist stately tone", and a period was changed
to a comma after "he added, more seriously".

In Chapter XXIII, "bound his supenders about him" was changed to "bound
his suspenders about him".

In Chapter XXIV, a period was changed to a comma after "as his friend
touched it".

In Chapter XXVII, a quotation mark was removed after "And--and----".

In Chapter XXVIII, "He knew in his hear it would be best" was changed to
"He knew in his heart it would be best".

In Chapter XXX, "Murray still sat where he was was" was changed to
"Murray still sat where he was".

In Chapter XXXI, "her mouth it set in a firm, determined way" was
changed to "her mouth is set in a firm, determined way".

In the advertisements, "to cutivate a fondness for study" was changed to
"to cultivate a fondness for study", and "good, wholsome reading" was
changed to "good, wholesome reading".





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