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Title: Harry Watson's High School Days; Or, The Rivals of Rivertown
Author: Webster, Frank V.
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 "Harry Watson's High School Days; Or, The Rivals of Rivertown" ***

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THEIR STEPS. (Page 80)]

                             HARRY WATSON’S
                            HIGH SCHOOL DAYS

                        The Rivals of Rivertown


                            FRANK V. WEBSTER

                     BOYS OF BELLWOOD SCHOOL,” ETC.


                                NEW YORK
                         CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

                             BOOKS FOR BOYS
                          By FRANK V. WEBSTER
              12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume.

                            ONLY A FARM BOY
                         TOM, THE TELEPHONE BOY
                         THE BOY FROM THE RANCH
                       THE YOUNG TREASURE HUNTER
                           BOB, THE CASTAWAY
                          THE NEWSBOY PARTNERS
                       THE BOY PILOT OF THE LAKES
                        THE TWO BOY GOLD MINERS
                           JACK, THE RUNAWAY
                         COMRADES OF THE SADDLE
                      THE BOYS OF BELLWOOD SCHOOL
                         THE HIGH SCHOOL RIVALS
                           BOB CHESTER’S GRIT
                              AIRSHIP ANDY
                         DARRY, THE LIFE SAVER
                           DICK, THE BANK BOY
                       BEN HARDY’S FLYING MACHINE
                        THE BOYS OF THE WIRELESS

               _Cupples & Leon Co., Publishers, New York_

                          Copyright, 1912, by
                         CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

                    Harry Watson’s High School Days

                          Printed in U. S. A.


          CHAPTER                                            PAGE
               I. Harry Shows His Mettle                        1
              II. Jed Brown Finds a Protector                   8
             III. Socker’s Plot                                17
              IV. Harry Shows His Grit                         24
               V. The Race on Skates                           29
              VI. The Girls’ Race                              36
             VII. The Rivalry Between Harry and Elmer          41
            VIII. Paul’s Party                                 48
              IX. The False Charge                             54
               X. Harry is Exonerated                          59
              XI. “Old Grouch”                                 67
             XII. Pledged to the Pi Etas                       74
            XIII. A Serious Charge                             79
             XIV. The Boys Appoint a Committee                 85
              XV. Mr. Larmore Issues an Ultimatum              90
             XVI. Stumbling Across a Clue                      95
            XVII. The Trip to Lumberport                      102
           XVIII. Harry Arranges for a Settlement             107
             XIX. Upholding the Honor of Rivertown            114
              XX. Harry Receives Bad News                     127
             XXI. Elmer Baits His Rival                       137
            XXII. Dark Days                                   144
           XXIII. A Mile a Minute Spin                        151
            XXIV. Harry Pilots the Lightning                  170
             XXV. “All’s Well that Ends Well”                 189



“Hey, fellows, we’ve a new student at Rivertown High!”

“Who is he, Socker?” chorused a group of boys to whom their schoolmate
had come running with his tidings.

“Don’t know. Nettie told me that she and Viola had met him as he was
coming out of Principal Larmore’s office.”

“Yes, and you’d better watch out, Elmer. Nettie said Viola has been
talking about nothing else but that good-looking fellow since she saw
him!” bantered another of the group.

The boy, light and rather handsome, but with a weak face, to whom this
last remark had been addressed was about to reply, when a warning was

“Keep quiet! Here he comes now!” declared Socker.

Instantly all eyes were turned in the direction of the schoolhouse where
they saw a lad walking with a swinging stride. Apparently about fifteen
years of age, he was well built and rather tall. Dark hair, which curled
about his cap, and laughing eyes bespoke him as a jolly, handsome
fellow, and the ruddy glow brought to his cheeks by the crisp winter air
was evidence that he was possessed of health in abundance.

“Why, I know who he is!” asserted another of the group.


“He must be Harry Watson, nephew of the Widow Watson. I remember Mrs.
Watson told mother the other day that her nephew, Harry, was coming to

“Where’s he from?”

“Can’t say.”

“Well, let’s see if he’s any good!” exclaimed a big, hulking fellow, Pud
Snooks, who was the bully of the school. “Hey, you, Watson, come over
here!” he shouted.

Rivertown High School, a two-story brick building containing some
fifteen class rooms and a large assembly room, was situated on a bluff
overlooking the Conoque River: and the road leading from it to the
village, in addition to being steep, made a sharp turn at the foot of
the hill.

The spot was a favorite one with the scholars for coasting, and several
of the boys had been in the act of placing a double-runner bob in
position at the top of the hill, when they had been apprised of the fact
there was a new student in school.

The boys of Rivertown High had a fondness for trying out new students,
and Pud’s suggestion met with ready approval.

Accordingly, when the bully proposed putting Harry Watson to the test,
the other boys sat down on the double-runner, taking good care to leave
the steering seat vacant.

“When I shove off, everybody stand up!” whispered Pud. Then he exclaimed

“Hey, Watson! Can you steer a sled?”

Stopping as he heard his name, Harry looked toward the group of boys.

“Sure thing, if you’d like to have me,” he answered. “My name is Harry

“And mine’s Pud Snooks,” announced the bully. Then bowing in mock
seriousness, he continued:

“That fancy blonde behind me is Elmer Craven. He is the richest and most
famous personage we have at Rivertown High. Twice a week he goes across
the river to Lumberport, and he believes that Viola Darrow is never
happy when——”

“Oh, cut it out, Pud!” growled Elmer.

With a grin, the bully went on with his introductions.

“The next exhibit is Socker Gales, and the specimen with the ten-foot
reach is Longback, whom his family calls Sam Dalton. Now just take the
ropes and I’ll push off. We’re a precious load, as I hope I’ve made
clear to you, so don’t tip us over!”

While Harry had been acknowledging these bantering introductions, he had
also been looking at the icy roadway.

A glance at the sharp turn had told him it would require clever work to
make it, and so, when he took the steering ropes, instead of sitting
down on the sled, he gave them a quick jerk—to have one of them part
near the runner.

“Good thing that didn’t happen on the hill!” he exclaimed, quickly
cutting off the broken end and making a new knot, after which he again
tested the rope and found it sound.

Pud and his chums, however, though they pretended to, did not share this
opinion, and that there might not be more delay, as soon as Harry sat
down and placed his feet on the bracers, the bully started the sled.

“We’re off!” he shouted, as he gave the double-runner a terrific shove.

As though eager for the fun, the first sled shot over the crest of the
hill—and then all the boys put their feet down and let the sled pass
between their legs!

Instantly Harry realized that he was alone on the double-runner.

With no weight on the hind sled, he knew it would bump and slew as soon
as he got fairly started and especially when he struck the curve. But
Harry was game.

“I’ll show these Rivertown High chaps that they can’t stump me by any of
their tricks,” he said to himself, and braced his feet more firmly,
leaning back to throw as much weight as possible on the hind sled.

As the double-runner gained momentum, it fairly danced over the icy

Behind, Pud and his cronies were hurrying as fast as they could that
they might gain a spot whence they could see the spill they expected
when the sled struck the curve.

But as Harry approached the turn, he leaned far out.

“Oh, you Pud! You guessed wrong when you picked Watson for an easy
mark,” chuckled Longback. “That boy knows something about steering.”

The next instant, however, the disappointment of the boys at learning
that they were not to have the fun of seeing Harry dumped, was forgotten
in their alarm at hearing shouts of warning and fright beyond the curve!

Just as Harry’s sled dashed around the turn, he had caught sight of two
little children starting up the hill, dragging their sleds behind them.

A group of high school girls, among them Viola Darrow and her chum,
Nettie Masterson, were descending the hill, and it was they who, when
they heard the rattlety-bang of the double-runner, and saw the toddlers
ahead, had cried out in terror.

One side of the road was banked by the hill, while the other dropped
down toward the river; a fence with one rail some three feet from the
ground serving as a guard.

What was below the embankment Harry did not know, but he remembered to
have seen some bushes as he had walked up the hill.

In their effort to save the children, the girls had run out into the
roadway, practically blocking it.

So great was Harry’s speed, however, that they realized it would be
impossible for them to seize the toddlers and get them to one side in
time to let the double-runner pass—and in such a manner were they spread
across the road that Harry had no chance to guide his sled past them.

“Open out! Let him through!” shouted Longback and Socker; while Elmer
and Pud, terrified at the impending tragedy threatened by their trick,
simply stared at the scene in silence, their faces white, their mouths

But in the instant that had followed his discovery of the little girls
starting up the roadway, Harry had made up his mind what to do—and

With a sudden pull, he jerked the sled from its course, headed it
between two of the posts which supported the guard-rail—and the
double-runner leaped over the embankment at a spot less than six feet
from where the group of girls and the two children stood, panic-stricken
and crying.


Several of the other boys who were members of Rivertown High, among them
Paul Martin and Jerry Post, had reached the turn just in time to see the
sled as it took its mad leap over the embankment.

For a moment, they, as well as the girls, gazed in silence at the spot
where the double-runner with its lone passenger had disappeared. Then,
as with one accord, they broke into lusty cheers at the aversion of the
tragedy which had seemed inevitable.

But their joy was quickly checked.

“Don’t cheer! You don’t know what has happened to that nervy chap!”
shouted Paul Martin.

And as his words brought silence, he and Jerry rushed to the edge of the
embankment, while the others followed.

Fortunately Harry had landed in a pile of underbrush, and as the
white-faced boys and girls lined the rail he was picking his way out,
none the worse for his experience save a few rents in his clothes.

The sight of the boy, safe and sound, brought a reaction from the
terror, and wildly the scholars cheered, while Paul, Jerry and Longback
ducked under the guard-rail and slipped and slid down to meet the hero.

“Hurt?” asked Jerry, anxiously.

“Nowhere, except in my clothes,” returned Harry—and again prolonged
cheers greeted his ears.

Many were the willing hands that were extended to help draw him up into
the road, and when they had succeeded, he became immediately the centre
of an excited, admiring group.

“I think that was just perfectly splendid of him!” exclaimed Viola.
“Some of you boys introduce me to him, won’t you?”

As she spoke, the girl, whose beauty and wealth made her the favorite of
the school, looked straight at Elmer—but he gave no sign that he noticed

Their leader having thus given the stamp of approval to Harry, the other
girls quickly pressed forward, all talking and chatting at once.

But no one responded to Viola’s request and, flushing, she turned away
while the new student grew very red, as he looked from one to another of
the boys who had invited him to steer the double-runner.

The situation was awkward in the extreme and Harry, diffident and
sensitive as he was, felt it keenly. Yet he was the one to relieve it.

“Hey, you Snooks, you’d better go down and get your sled—or do you want
me to do that?” he called.

“So it was one of Pud’s tricks?” exclaimed Nettie. “We might have known
it, Viola. Pud, I think you’re perfectly horrid!” and with all the
dignity of her fifteen years, the girl turned her back on the bully and,
putting her arm through Viola’s, led her away down the hill. But as they
went, both girls smiled at Harry.

During the embarrassing scene, Longback had whispered to some of the
other boys who Harry was, and Jerry and Paul immediately took him in

“If you don’t mind, we’ll walk home with you, Watson,” exclaimed Jerry.
And glad of the chance to escape the attention of the other members of
Rivertown High, Harry started off, accompanied by the two boys who were
later to become his chums.

The story of Harry’s quick-wittedness and courage had proceeded him,
thanks to Viola and Nettie; and as he walked down the main street of the
town to the comfortable home of his aunt, many were the glances directed
toward him.

“Rather a bad start, I’m afraid,” he said to his companions, with a
feeble attempt at a smile.

“Bad? I should say it was a corking fine one!” returned Paul, sincerely.
“It isn’t many fellows who can become a hero and at the same time get
the best of Pud Snooks!”

The mention of the bully caused Harry to grow serious.

“I’m afraid it will make Snooks down on me,” he said. “He had no idea
that those little girls would be in the road.”

Well did Jerry and Paul know that the outcome of the bully’s trick,
sensational as it had been, would, indeed, arouse his anger against the
boy who had turned the tables on him; and though they tried to disabuse
Harry’s mind of the idea, it was with relief that they reached the gate
of the Widow Watson’s house.

Despite Harry’s cordial invitation, both boys declined to go in, and he
entered the house feeling strangely alone.

His aunt’s greeting and loving words of praise after she had heard of
his experience, however, did much to restore his good spirits.

“Who is Viola?” he asked, as they were seated at dinner.

“She is the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Rivertown,” replied
the widow, a shade of sorrow passing over her face. “What makes you

“Because she said my steering over the embankment was perfectly fine!”

Again the cloud passed over Mrs. Watson’s face and this time it did not

“She’s a very sweet and lovely girl, Harry,” she replied. “But she isn’t
the sort you should choose for a companion.”

At the words, the boy looked up quickly at his aunt and what he read in
her face made him flush.

“I mean, she is very rich and I think—that is, I have heard—her family
intend her to marry Elmer Craven.”

“He’s rich, too, isn’t he?”


Deeply did it grieve the good woman to speak the words she had, but she
believed it would be best for her nephew to realize the social
difference that existed between Viola and himself, that he might be
spared the humiliation and embarrassment in the future. Though they
allowed their daughter to attend the Rivertown High School, the Darrows
were proud and arrogant people and always did all in their power to
prevent the girl from mingling with her schoolmates.

But though Mrs. Watson strove to offset the sting of her statement, the
rest of the dinner was eaten in comparative silence, and Harry set out
for school with a heavy heart.

Not far had he proceeded up the main street, however, before he caught
sight of a form he recognized as that of the bully who had been the
ringleader in the trick which had so nearly ended in a tragedy.

“Hope he won’t come up and try to smooth things over,” said Harry to
himself. But the next moment, his anxiety on this score was allayed.

Pud was busy making snowballs and storing them under his arm.

“Wonder if he’s going to vent his disappointment on me,” mused Harry,
taking his hands from his pockets that he might be ready to return the
bombardment, should the bully open on him.

Yet when he saw the bully’s victim, Harry’s anger at the fellow was
greater than ever.

As the new student passed a cross street, he saw Pud jump behind a tree
and then, peering from one side, hurl one of the half dozen snowballs he
had under his arm.

Turning to see at whom they were aimed, Harry was amazed to behold a
bent and aged man, hobbling along the sidewalk with the aid of a cane.

The snowball knocked the cane from the man’s hand and as it fell, the
aged cripple tottered.

With an exclamation of disgust, Harry rushed up behind the bully and,
seizing his arm, jerked it so that the remaining snowballs fell to the

The thought that anyone had seen his cowardly act in snowballing the
aged man shamed the bully, but only for the moment.

“What do you mean by that?” he demanded, fiercely, whirling round to
face the interrupter of what he considered his sport. And as he beheld
the boy who had brought disgrace upon him in the morning, his face grew
white with anger. “Oh, it’s _you_, is it?” he went on. “Who do you think
you are, anyhow? Just because you couldn’t steer the sled and went over
the embankment is no reason why you should think you are so much!”

“You know I could steer that sled, and only went between the posts to
keep from running into the girls,” returned Harry. “But that has nothing
to do with the present matter. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, to
throw snowballs at an old man!”

“Oh, nobody cares about old Jed Brown!”

“Well, you can’t snowball him when I’m round!”

“Oh, is that so? Who’s going to stop me, I should like to know?”

“I am.”


“You?” And, after standing for several seconds, during which he looked
Harry over from the top of his head to his feet, the bully burst into
laughter. “So _you_, whom I could pick up and carry on one finger, are
going to stop my doing anything I want to, eh? That _is_ a good one.
Why, kiddo, there is enough of me to make three of you and then some.”

The tone in which Pud spoke sent the color flushing to Harry’s face.

“Where I come from, it isn’t so much the size that counts as it is the
heart!” he retorted. “And a fellow who will snowball an aged man can’t
have very much real heart!”

An instant the bully glowered at Harry, then made a rush toward him.

“You’re getting altogether too fresh, young feller!” he hissed. “Because
of you, I’m getting into all sorts of trouble—and I’m not going to stand
it! If I want to snowball or do anything else to old Jed Brown, I’m
going to, understand?” And as though to give more force to his words,
Pud stooped down to pick up one of the missiles the new student had
knocked from his arm.

Before he could reach it, however, Harry threw out his foot and crushed
the snowball, then with more quick movements demolished the others.

Never had anyone so thwarted the Rivertown bully before and, for the
moment, the big hulk of a boy stood gazing at his discomfiter in
amazement. But only for a moment.

With a snarl, he shook his fist under Harry’s nose.

“You seem to be looking for trouble—and now you’re going to get it!”

Though the bully was much larger than Harry, the latter did not cower
before him.

So engrossed had the boys been in their quarrel that they had failed to
notice the approach of Principal Larmore. But he made his presence known
just as Pud drew back his arm to strike.

“Snooks, go about your business!” he exclaimed. “I’m ashamed to think
you should seek to pick a quarrel with the very boy who prevented your
trick with the sled from having a very serious ending!”

As Harry had said, the bully was a coward at heart, and growling to
himself, he slunk away.


With an amused smile, Mr. Larmore watched Pud as he slouched off up the

“Rather a strenuous introduction to Rivertown, you’re having, Watson,”
he exclaimed, pleasantly. “Do you mind telling me what Snooks was saying
to you?”

“Yes, sir; I do. It was only a personal matter.”

Fate, however, decreed that the principal should learn the cause of the
quarrel he had interrupted.

First with surprise, then with thankfulness, Jed Brown had beheld
Harry’s intervention—for the aged man, veteran though he was, and
bearing the mark of his service for his country in a crippled leg, was
considered fair sport by many of the young people in the village, and he
was not accustomed to having anyone champion him.

Consequently, when he had seen the school bully threaten Harry, he had
hobbled toward the pair as fast as he could, only to arrive just as Mr.
Larmore had asked concerning the cause of the trouble.

“It was about me, Mr. Larmore, sir, the fuss was,” declared Jed. “Snooks
was throwing snowballs at me and this young man stopped him.” Then,
turning to Harry, he continued: “I’ll not forget your kindness, my boy.
My name is Jed Brown.” And he extended a trembling hand.

“I’m Harry Watson,” smiled the boy, as he shook hands.

“You ain’t any relation to Amos Watson, of Lawrenceburgh, are you?”
inquired the veteran, eagerly.

“He’s my father.”

“Well, well, well!” exclaimed Jed, excitedly, again shaking the boy’s
hand. “I’ve known Amos ever since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and
there ain’t a finer man in this state, Mr. Larmore. Harry, whenever your
skates need sharpening or you feel lonesome, just come around to see me;
I live in a little one-story house down at the end of this street. You
can’t miss it.”

“Thank you, I—” then, chancing to glance down the street, the boy caught
a glimpse of Pud as he poked his head cautiously from behind a
tree-trunk, evidently with the purpose of finding out where the veteran
was, and he changed his words, saying, “I guess I’ll walk along with you
now. I have a knife that needs sharpening badly and I can leave it with

The principal had also seen the bully’s action and he readily understood
that Harry had made his knife the excuse for walking home with the old
man, that he might protect him from any further attack by Snooks. Yet he
feared the bully might waylay the boy and, as the other two set out,
fell into step beside them, much to the embarrassment of both.

Arrived at Jed’s house which, though small, was spick and span in
appearance, Harry gave him his knife, and after promising to call for it
the next afternoon, continued on his way to the school with Mr. Larmore.

The detour which they had made to escort the veteran to his home caused
them to be a trifle late in reaching the schoolhouse, and Harry was very
glad that none of the scholars were outside to see him walking with the
principal, for he feared it might give them the impression that he was a
“teacher’s boy.”

But when he entered his classroom, he was the centre of all eyes.

“Grandstand play!” growled Elmer to Socket. “He’s got a swelled head,
already, because he steered the sled over the bank. Anybody with any
decency wouldn’t have waited until school was in session before he came

“Never mind, we’ll take him down a bit!” returned Elmer Craven’s chum.
“Just wait till after school!”

The eye of the instructor chancing to wander in their direction, the two
boys buried their heads in their books; and Elmer was forced to forego
asking his chum what scheme he was thinking out.

But when school was over for the day, he quickly learned.

“Play hockey, Watson?” asked Socker, joining a group of boys who had
gathered about Harry.


“Then come on down to the river and we’ll have a game.”

“It will depend upon whether my trunk has arrived or not. If it hasn’t
come since I was at aunt’s for dinner, I won’t be able to play because
my skates are in it.”

“I have an extra pair at the house you can take,” interposed Paul. “The
rest of you fellows go down to the river; and Harry and I’ll join you as
soon as we can.” And falling into step beside the boy who was soon to
become his crony, Paul Martin started down the hill which had been the
scene of the memorable incident in the morning.

To his delight, Harry found that his trunk had arrived, and it was but
the matter of a very few minutes for him to open it and take out his

At the river, they found a merry crowd of boys and girls, and quickly
Harry and Paul sat down to put on their skates.

“Now Sam, you go over and bring Mr. Watson back with you as soon as he’s
got his skates on,” commanded Viola, who, with Nettie, had been keeping
a lookout for the boy whom she had been unable to meet in the forenoon.

None too willingly, the fellow started, but before he could reach Harry,
the boy was on his feet, and hockey stick in hand, was skimming over the
ice to where those who were to play were lined up, some quarter of a
mile up the river.

“Isn’t that provoking!” pouted Viola, as she noted his action. “But I’m
going to meet Harry Watson—even if I have to introduce myself. Come on,
Nettie, let’s skate over and watch the game.”

With the arrival of Harry and Paul, Socker exclaimed:

“Watson, you’ll play on Jerry’s team. Let’s get the game started as soon
as we can. It’ll be dark before long.”

Quickly the boys took their positions, and Socker and Elmer noticed with
delight that the boy who had incited their enmity was playing “rover.”

After the puck was put in play, it was dribbled back and forth; then, as
Paul noticed Harry was keeping well out to one side, he shot the rubber
to him.

Nursing it carefully, he dashed in, that he might have a less difficult
angle from which to try for goal.

“Get him! Block him! Don’t let him score!” cried Socker to his
team-mates, and with a rush they skated down upon Harry with tremendous

For several moments, Jerry watched the strange play of his opponents—for
they had left their positions uncovered; then it dawned on him what
their purpose was and he charged down to Harry’s rescue, at the same
time shouting:

“Shoot it across, Watson! Shoot it across!”

With a deft twist of his wrist, Harry sent the rubber spinning over the
ice just in front of Socker and his players.

But instead of checking themselves and going after it, they continued
straight at the new student.

Surprised, but believing that their speed was such that they were unable
to turn quickly, Harry grinned at them, wheeled on his right skate with
a suddenness that would have done a professional proud, and sought to go
around them.

Clever as was his move, however, it came too late.

With terrific force, Socker, Elmer and another boy crashed into him—and
as they all went down, there was a resounding whack.

“Pretty raw work, Craven!” snapped Jerry, as he caught the richest boy
in Rivertown High School by the collar and jerked him off the pile.

“What do you mean?”

Jerry, however, was too engrossed in the task of getting the others off
Harry to reply.

But when he had succeeded, the new high school scholar lay on his back,


Abashed at the sight of the boy lying white and still on the ice, the
other hockey players gazed at one another.

“He’s shamming!” growled Elmer.

“You know better than that!” retorted Jerry.

“What do you mean?”

“That you and Socker deliberately ran into Watson—and you know it as
well as I do!”

“I saw Socker give him the knee!” interposed Paul.

Intense was the feeling between the two teams, and instinctively the
boys who had been playing lined up with their respective captains. But
before the argument became more bitter, Harry opened his eyes, gazed
about him in a dazed manner, and then sat up.

“Got a bit of a knock, didn’t I?” he smiled. “I say, did I score a

At the question, all the boys turned to look toward the net of Socker’s
team, having forgotten in their excitement to notice where the puck had

“Jove, but you did!” cried Paul. “Good boy, Harry!”

Instantly the other members of the team with which Harry was playing
took up the cry and Elmer and his companions skated away to hide their

“Here comes Longback; we can put him in, and you can get out of the
game!” exclaimed Paul, helping Harry to his feet.

“Not much—that is, if you are willing I should keep on playing,”
returned Harry. “I’m all right now; and I should like to show those
other fellows that I’m not a pillow!”

“But can you stand the handling?” asked Jerry, anxiously.

“Leave it to me—I’m no rag-doll,” retorted Harry. “If they are up to any
tricks, I know a thing or two!”

The gameness of the new student appealed to all the members of the team
on which he was playing, and without further comment they lined up for
the next play.

Surprised to see Harry still in the line-up, Socker skated over to Elmer
and held a brief consultation with him, but their whisperings were
interrupted by the puck being put into play.

As luck would have it, the rubber was sent straight toward Elmer and,
with a clever stop, he dribbled it along toward Harry, evidently
thinking that he would be able to pass him easily because of his
seemingly dazed condition.

But Harry realized his purpose and, with a burst of speed, he rushed in,
snatched the puck, steadied his stick—and then drove it spinning toward
the goal net, sending it past the tender.

“Good boy!” shouted his team-mates. And the cheer was immediately taken
up by the boys and girls who had gathered to watch the game.

Smarting more under the thought that the fellow they had sought to
humiliate had succeeded in turning the tables against them than in the
fact that their opponents had scored two goals, Socker called his men
about him.

“Play for Watson!” he cried through clenched teeth. “That fellow’s got
to have his big head taken off him!”

“Ready!” called the lad who was acting as umpire; and with set teeth,
Socker’s men took their positions.

Straight and true for the goal Paul sent the puck, but Snooks checked it
just in time to prevent another score, and cleverly Elmer took the
rubber through the opposing players until only Harry stood between him
and the man at the net.

Gritting his teeth, the new member of the Rivertown High School
determined to show that he was an offensive as well as a defensive
player. With a terrific rush, he bore down on Elmer Craven, and with a
sudden twist of his stick, tripped the fellow, grabbed the rubber,
dribbled it out of reach, then sent it spinning with a force that drove
it through the net!

Loud were the shouts from the onlookers—but Elmer lay still and quiet.

“You hit him in the head with your stick!” growled Socker, starting
toward Harry.

“Nonsense! _I_ play a clean game! Leave it to me—I’ll bring him round in
a jiffy!”

And while the others stood inactive, Harry scraped up some ice with his
skate and rubbed the shavings on Craven’s face.

“Who’s doing that?” demanded the boy, sitting up.

But his only answer was a general laugh.

“Everybody ready, puck’s going to be put in play!” shouted the umpire,
and without delay, the boys took their positions.

“You want to watch out, the whole team will be down on you this time!”
warned Jerry to Harry, but the lad only laughed.

“I reckon I can give them as good as they send,” he replied. “It just
took me a few minutes to get onto their game. I——”

But his words were interrupted by the play.

While Snooks caught the rubber and started back with it, all the other
members of the team bore down on Harry.

Not seeming to notice them, the boy hurried to the assistance of the
goal tender, his pursuers in full cry. Then, with a suddenness that
caused the scholars on the side lines to gasp, Harry turned, shoved his
stick between the skates of the fellow nearest him, and sent him
sprawling on the ice, causing the others to fall on top of him.

Loud was the laughter that rose from the boys and girls who were not in
the game, while Jerry and Paul patted Harry on the back.

But several of the instructors happened to be among the spectators and,
realizing that the game would soon be beyond the bounds of sport, they

“Vhy not ve all go and get kindling voods for a bonfire dis efening?”
shouted Prof. Schmidt, the genial German professor.

“Yes! Yes! Get wood for a bonfire!” cried the boys and girls on the side
lines; and forgetful of the hockey game, they skated across the ice,
effectually putting an end to the contest.


In thorough good humor on account of their winning the hockey game, Paul
and Jerry called Harry, and together they started up the river to where
a big pile of brush lay on the bank.

In full cry, a score or more of the other boys and girls, among whom
were Viola and Nettie, set after them, calling to them to wait. But the
three boys only checked their speed slightly.

“Come on. A race for the brush-pile,” shouted Longback. “I’ll wager hot
soda for the bunch of us that I’ll be the first one to reach it.”

“You’re on! You’re on!” shouted a dozen of the boys, among whom were
Harry and his recent team-mates.

And as the challenge was accepted, the boys dashed away.

No more than a few yards had he gone, than Elmer Craven shouted:

“Oh, you Paul and Jerry! You’ve got the start of the rest of us. Come
back and line up.”

“No. This is as fair for one of us as it is for another,” cried Pud,
whose inordinate love for soda caused him to exert himself to the
utmost, and during the checking of the speed as the result of Craven’s
suggestion, he had taken the lead.

“Sure you think it’s fair now, Pud,” laughed Jerry, “so long as you’re

“You’ll have to come back and line up as Elmer said or I won’t make good
my offer,” declared Longback.

At this ultimatum all the boys who had started ahead checked themselves
and then returned to where the offerer of the prize had scratched a mark
on the ice.

With great good nature, laughing and joking with one another, the boys
lined up, Harry and his two team-mates happening to be on the end where
Viola and Nettie were standing.

“Who’s going to give the word to start?” demanded Snooks in a none too
pleasant tone, for he was disappointed at having had to give up the lead
which he had obtained over the others.

“I will,” cried Viola.

“That means Elmer’ll win,” declared Nettie.

“Why not let Prof. Schmidt start it?” suggested some one.

Readily the genial professor consented; and taking his position at the
opposite end of the line from where the two girls stood, he cried:

“Eferybody get retty! You Schnooks, you get back onto the line. Don’t
try to shteal a yard.”

Grumbling to himself, the boy obeyed.

“Now, vonce again. Eferybody retty! Von, two, t’ree—_Go!_”

Eagerly the boys dashed forward and for a few minutes they were all
bunched together. Then Elmer, Snooks, Longback and Harry dashed ahead of
the others, and for a few moments raced neck and neck.

“Go it, Elmer!” “Go it Longback!” shouted their partisans, and as though
the good wishes of their friends gave them greater speed, the two boys
forged ahead.

“Oh, why doesn’t somebody shout for Harry Watson!” exclaimed Viola,
stamping her foot.

“Going back on Elmer so soon,” chided several of the girls who were with
her. She made them no reply, but instead, skating after the racers.

“Come on, we girls will have a race, and the one who wins we’ll crown
queen of the ice at the bonfire to-night!” cried Nettie.

“Fine! Dandy!” chorused a dozen or so of the girls, and one of them

“Let’s have a regular carnival, and we’ll make the boy who wins king.”

“Will you start it, Prof. Schmidt?” asked Viola, and again the genial
old German complied, sending the girls off in short order.

During the preliminaries Viola had kept her eyes on the boys ahead, and
it seemed to her as if Harry cut down the lead of Elmer and Longback.
Instantly the thought occurred to her that if no one would introduce her
to the new student, by winning the girl’s race, she would surely be able
to meet him at the mock coronation ceremony planned for the carnival.
And, gritting her teeth, she bent forward, skating with all the speed
she could summon.

After the start of the girls, the interest of the spectators had again
turned to the boys and, that they might the better see the finish,
everyone skated in the direction of the brush-pile.

When Snooks saw Harry taking the lead he grew furious.

“I’ll get him! If I can’t win, _he_ certainly shan’t,” he growled to
himself, and his anger at the boy who had so humiliated him on two
occasions giving him increased strength, he quickly cut down Watson’s
lead, although in doing so, he swerved his course from the extreme
opposite end of the line of racers close over to that of the boy for
whom he had conceived such hatred.

“What’s Pud up to?” exclaimed several of those who were following. But
not long was the bully’s purpose in doubt. Tiring from his burst of
speed when he was almost abreast of Harry, realizing that if he were to
carry out his mean scheme he must act immediately, he lunged viciously
towards the new student.

“Watch out, Watson! Snooks is trying to foul you!” shouted Jerry.

The warning was unnecessary, because Harry had heard the sharp strokes
of the skates close to him, and, although he did not check his speed by
looking around, he intuitively seemed to realize that the approach of
the skater boded him no good; and, just as the bully sought to throw him
off his balance, he turned his skate out and shot rapidly to one side,
putting himself a scant foot beyond Snook’s reach.

“Pretty work! Good boy!” shouted the spectators, as they realized the
bully’s attempt and our hero’s escape.

But his move had taken Harry several yards out of his course, and quick
were Elmer and Longback to improve the opportunity to wrest the lead
from him. Clenching his fists more tightly, Harry bent lower, and
exerted himself to the utmost to recover the lost ground. Less than one
hundred yards away was the brush-pile, and a stick held in front of the
racers would have touched each one, so even were they.

“Oh, you Elmer! Get a move on! They’re going to have a carnival and
crown the winner king. The girls are racing to be queen, and Viola’s
leading!” shouting one of the scholars.

Thus apprised for the first time of the additional plans which had been
made for the bonfire, the three boys bent themselves to still greater

To Elmer, the thought that Harry might win and thus share the honor of
participating in the mock ceremony with Viola was bitter indeed.

“If there was no one else but Longback, I wouldn’t care,” he told
himself. “But I can’t let that scrub play king when Viola is queen.”

Nearer and nearer to the finish the three boys sped, amid the yells and
cheers of advice and encouragement their partisans hurled at them.

But though each of the trio was skating with might and main, not one of
them seemed able to gain on the others—and the brush-pile was a scant
fifty yards away.

“Shake ’em, Elmer! Shake ’em, Watson!” cried the spectators, according
to their preference.

But another ten yards were cut from the distance to go, and Elmer and
Harry were still abreast, having gained slightly on Longback.

With a sudden burst of speed Elmer forged ahead, amid the cheers of his
supporters, but even as the air was rent by their shouts of “Elmer
wins!” their hopes were dashed.

With no warning, the rich boy gave a sudden lurch towards Watson,
struggled desperately to recover himself, then fell to the ice, sliding
with terrific force toward Harry.

At the sight, the boys and girls who were following cried out in
surprise and disappointment, while Jerry and Paul shouted warnings to
their new friend.

“That’ll finish Watson as well as Elmer,” declared one student.

But his prophecy was not to be fulfilled.

When he heard the shouts of warning, Harry had turned his head to learn
their cause just in time to see Craven’s body come sliding toward him
over the ice with amazing speed.

Realizing that, should it hit him, he, too, would be knocked down, and
the race go to the boy whom they had both outskated, Harry took a
desperate chance and jumped, clearing Elmer’s shoulder by a few inches.


Harry’s action was greeted with shouts of approval by all the scholars,
but just when it seemed that he was going to win without further mishap,
he fell and Longback flashed across the line a winner!

In landing after his jump, Harry had leaned too far forward, with the
result that, though he strove desperately to keep his balance, his
centre of equilibrium was too far forward, and he pitched onto his face.

Little time did the fellows have to discuss the eventful race, when
there sounded a cry: “Get out of the way! Give the girls a chance to

Quickly the crowd that had surrounded the fallen skaters, moved out of
the way, as the girls bore down upon the imaginary line that marked the
end of the race. Bent far down, her arms swinging like well regulated
pistons, Viola was in the lead, a good three yards separating her from
her nearest antagonist, Mildred Evans, while almost an equal distance
behind Mildred, the rest of the girls were bunched.

His disappointment over his fall forgotten in the thought that Longback
had snatched victory from the boy to whom he had taken such a dislike,
Elmer cried:

“Look out for that crack in the ice, Viola, or you’ll get tripped just
as I did.”

Although the girl heard the warning, she gave no evidence, either by
thanks or by action, and could the richest boy of Rivertown High School
have known what was passing in her mind, he would have worn anything but
the pleased smile that enveloped his face.

So long as Harry had been in the lead, Viola had exerted herself to the
utmost to leave the girls with whom she was racing as far behind as she
could. With a little gasp of dismay, she had seen Snooks’ desperate but
futile attempt to foul Harry, and when the boy had jumped over Elmer,
she had been one of those who had shouted their delight, and
corresponding was her disappointment when Harry himself fell, and
Longback won.

“I’ll not be queen to Longback’s king!” exclaimed the proud girl,
indignantly, yet, aware as she was of the lead she had over the others
in the race, she was puzzled to know how she could manage to lose it
without her purpose being too evident.

When she heard Elmer’s warning, however, she realized that there was a
crack in the ice which would throw her. Quickly she formed her plans,
and, with almost imperceptible slackening in her speed, she began to
search the ice for the crevice.

For several seconds she was unable to discern it; then of a sudden her
glance fell upon a zigzag depression, and she changed her course, though
ever so slightly, that she might be the more sure to strike it.

“Look out! Look out! Keep away from that edge of the bank!” shouted
Elmer and several of his companions. But as unheeding as before, the
girl kept on, appeared to stagger a moment as she struck the depression,
and then sank to the ice.

First, in blank dismay, and then in anger, the rich boy who had seemed
to be the favored one among Viola’s friends stared at her, and finally,
with a mumbled exclamation, skated toward her.

“You did that on purpose!” he snarled, as, stooping over, he took hold
of Viola’s arm to assist her to her feet.

At the words, the blood flushed hotly to the girl’s cheeks and
indignantly she wrenched her arm from Elmer’s grasp.

“How dare you say such a thing to me, Elmer Craven!” she exclaimed
angrily. “Even if I have sprained my ankle, I am quite capable of
getting up by myself,” and forthwith she proceeded so to do.

In the excitement caused by Viola’s fall, coming as it did after the two
leaders in the boys’ race had been put out of the running by similar
accidents, those who had been watching the girls’ race were too absorbed
in their efforts to urge on their favorites, now that all had
practically an even chance of winning, for, in her endeavor not to meet
a similar mishap to Viola, Mildred had skated so far to one side that
she had lost the lead, so that none of them had seen the trick save
Nettie and Harry.

Both of them, however, were too far away to hear what passed between the
boy and girl, but as Nettie saw her chum limp when she tried to skate
after picking herself up, she gave up the race and went to her

“What is it? Have you hurt yourself?” she asked, solicitously.

“It’s my ankle. I’m afraid I’ve sprained it.”


“Don’t be a goose.”

A moment the girl gazed at her chum and then the light of understanding
coming to her, she exclaimed, significantly:

“Oh!” And the better to give the semblance of truth to the supposed
injury, she put her arm around Viola to support her, and led her to the
bank, where she sat down on a tree stump.

In the meantime, the race had been won by Annabel Hutchins, who was
known among her classmates as the infant prodigy, because being
precociously bright, she had entered the freshman class when she was
only thirteen years old.

For a moment after the tall, awkward girl skated across the line in the
lead of the others, there was a silence. And then, as the humor of the
situation dawned upon the others, for Longback, a member of the senior
class, had the proper contempt for the under classmen, the boys and
girls yelled and cheered frantically.

“This will be some coronation!” cried Socker, with a grin. But some of
the girl’s, noting Annabel’s embarrassment, prevented any more such
remarks by surrounding her and skating her to the brush-pile. Then
quickly seizing some of the dried branches, they started down the river
with them toward the spot where the bonfire was to be built.

The boys, however, especially the freshmen, found it too great an
opportunity to tease the haughty senior, and they made his life so
miserable with their comment that in a rage he skated away by himself.


Their victim, having thus put himself beyond their torment, the other
boys turned to the brush-pile, and each taking as many branches as he
could carry skated down the river.

Viola and Nettie were still on the stump, and only Paul, Jerry and Harry
were left at the brush-pile.

“You don’t suppose Miss Darrow hurt herself so badly she can’t skate
back, do you?” asked Harry of his companions.

“Jove! I hadn’t thought of that,” returned Paul, and skating over to
where the two girls were, he asked concerning the extent of Viola’s

“She’s hurt her ankle,” explained Nettie.

“My! that’s bad. Can you skate on it at all?” inquired Paul.

“I can’t skate on it, but I may be able to step on it,” dissembled
Viola, and getting to her feet, started to walk, only to sink down with
a little cry of well-feigned pain.

“Jerry and Harry, come over here! Viola’s hurt her ankle, and we’ve got
to get her back down the river some way,” called Paul to his chums.

“Remember we haven’t met Mr. Watson!” exclaimed Nettie in a low voice,
as the two boys left the brush-pile and skated toward them.

“Why, I’m glad you reminded me. I’d forgotten,” murmured Paul, and when
the new student joined them, he was quickly introduced.

“We’ll have to go down the river and get a sled for you, Viola,”
announced Jerry. “You wait here with Nettie and Paul, and Harry and I’ll
go down.”

But after their manœuvring to meet Harry the two girls did not propose
to lose his companionship so quickly, and Viola hurriedly exclaimed:

“I think perhaps if you boys will help me, I shall be able to walk

“But that will only make your ankle worse, Miss Darrow,” declared Harry.
“I have it. We’ll take a big pile of the brush and you and Miss
Masterson can sit on it and we will pull you down the river.”

“The very thing!” cried the other boys, and without more ado, they
returned to the heap of dried branches, picked out several big ones,
which they placed on the ice, heaping smaller ones across them, until
they had made a rustic nest into which the girls climbed, while the
boys, with pieces of rope which they had found and with their skate
straps, bound the heavy limbs together and made a leash by which they
could pull the improvised sled.

But not without difficulty did the strange method of transportation
advance. First some of the heavy limbs spread, letting the twigs and
girls down onto the ice and frequently were they spilled from their
nest, but all enjoyed it and with much laughter and merry chatter they
approached the spot where the others were stacking the brush which was
to be set on fire in the evening.

“My eye! Look what’s coming!” shouted Misery Jones, as he espied Viola
and the others.

At his cry the rest of the boys and girls followed the direction of his
gaze, and when they beheld the moving brush-heap with its two
passengers, they shouted and laughed as they skated up to meet them.

“_Ach! die liebliche Schnee-fogeln!_” exclaimed Prof. Schmidt, laughing
as he caught sight of the two pretty girls on the brush-pile. “Too bad
it iss dat wir de coronation not now can have?”

As he heard the words, Longback took a hasty glance over the crowd
assembled near the brush-pile, and not seeing Annabel, exclaimed:

“That’s a good idea, Professor. It’s getting so dark that we can have
the bonfire now just as well as later.”

“Oh, no you don’t!” cried Misery. “You can’t get out of the formal
ceremony by one got up on the spur of the moment. The real queen who won
the race, you know, might object and cause you domestic unhappiness.
Even kings are allowed only one queen.”

The result of the boy’s protest was a lunge from Longback’s hockey
stick, from which he was able to dodge back in the very nick-of-time.

But the haughty senior was not allowed to get away with his caddish
suggestion with only Misery’s reproof.

“Now look here, Sam Dalton! No matter if Annabel Hutchins is a freshy
she won the race, and she’s going to be crowned queen when you’re
crowned king!” exclaimed several of the older girls, gathering about
Longback. “You wouldn’t have made any objection, you know, if it had
been Viola, or even Nettie, and they’re only freshmen, too; so if you
don’t want to regret it all the rest of the time you’re in Rivertown
High School, you’ll be just as nice to Annabel as you possibly can be.
The poor child went home crying because she thought we were all laughing
at her.”

“If it’s going to make so much trouble, what’s the use of having the
mock ceremony at all?” exclaimed Elmer, seeking to come to the aid of
his chum.

“That’s it! Be a spoil sport!” cried several of the boys and girls.

“Then I’ll resign my honor in favor of any of you who desire it,”
growled Longback.

“Let’s not have the bonfire at all,” exclaimed Viola, flashing a look of
contempt at the senior. “Instead let’s go on a hay ride to Cardell—I’m
sure I can have the horses.”

“Good! We’ll take along Nettie’s and Socker’s mothers and then we can
have a dance at the Lake House!” exclaimed Paul.

The suggestion met with instant approval.

“Let’s have a great big sleigh-ride,” Socker exclaimed. “I guess father
will let me take our horses, too, and we can fix up with hay, and it
will be a great lark.”

“You all can do as you please,” declared Viola, “but I want Jerry and
Paul and Nettie and Mildred and Sally and Elise and Dorothy and Mr.
Watson and Misery and Jack and Horace and Annabel to be members of my

Readily the boys and girls accepted, and their hostess requested them to
gather at her house at eight o’clock. The omission of Elmer, Longback
and Socker from her guests caused looks of amazement to be exchanged
between the other boys and girls, while the three fellows themselves

“I’ll take the rest of our gang!” Socker exclaimed. “We’ll go up to
Cardell, anyhow, and have a dance, and Viola, if you want to bring your
little friends, we should be very pleased to see both you and them.”

“Will everybody whom I’ve invited go?” asked the proud girl, ignoring
the remark.

One after another they accepted until it came to Harry, and he said,
mindful of what his aunt had told him:

“I thank you very much, Miss Darrow. I should like to go, but I’m afraid
it will be necessary for me to stay at home and study.”

“Wow! Wow! Listen to that!” moaned Misery. “On top of saving the kids
and beating Pud’s hockey team, he’s a grind!” and skating over to the
new student, he felt of his shoulders, murmuring “It’s just as I
thought. I can feel his wings sprouting. My, won’t Rivertown get a
reputation when people know we’ve got an angel among the freshies.”

“Well, if he stays in school until he’s a senior, there won’t be any
angel left about him,” laughed Jerry. “Come on, Harry, you can go just
as well as not. The only thing we have to-morrow, beside drawing and
rhetoric, is Latin, and Old Grouch Plummer always flunks everybody in
that, so it isn’t worthwhile to study the lesson. Besides, we want to
initiate you into the delights of the dancing floor at the Lake House,

“Perhaps he doesn’t dance,” sneered Elmer. “I’ve always heard that a lot
of people down at Lawrenceburgh were opposed to dancing, and maybe
Watson’s family is among them.”

This utterly uncalled-for slur made even the rich boy’s chums look at
him in amazement, but though Harry flushed hotly, the darkness concealed
his confusion, and he replied in a steady voice:

“I’m very fond of dancing, but really, Miss Darrow, I must decline your
invitation.” And quickly wishing his friends among the boys and girls
“good-night,” he skated over to the bank, took off the ice-runners, and
went home.


The real reason for Harry’s declination of the invitation to form one of
the merry party, was the fact that he knew there would be necessarily
some expense attached to the dance, and his circumstances were such that
he was obliged to watch his money carefully. Indeed, it had only been at
a distinct personal sacrifice that his father had been able to arrange
for the boy to go to Rivertown High School. Aware of this fact, he
realized that it would not be right for him to start out by associating
with those whose parents were in a position to give them liberal
allowances for spending money.

For a few moments after Harry’s abrupt departure there was a silence
among the boys and girls who were planning the sleighing party and

“There’s no use in allowing a new freshy to interfere with our fun,”
Socker exclaimed.

“Who’s going and who isn’t? I want to know, so that I can get the horses
and the sled and the hay ready.”

The others sided in with this view of the matter, and arrangements for
meeting were quickly made, after which the boys and girls separated,
going to their respective homes.

“Don’t you think that was queer in Harry Watson to decline your
invitation, Viola?” asked Nettie, as they walked along.

Before the girl could answer, however, a voice behind them exclaimed:

“He hasn’t got money enough to go, or to do anything the rest of us can.
Father says he knows Watson’s father and that he’s poorer than a church

Surprised to think their conversation had been overheard, the girls
turned quickly and beheld Pud Snooks.

“Well, if that’s the real reason Mr. Watson declined to go with us, it’s
nothing to be ashamed of. I’m sure it’s better not to go than to sponge
on some of the boys who have money,” sniffed Viola. At this taunt, which
was particularly stinging for the reason that, although the bully’s
father had plenty of money, he gave his son very little to spend, with
the result that he was always taking part in the pastimes of his
schoolmates, and forcing his companions to pay his share, Snooks growled
to himself and slunk away.

For several minutes the two girls walked along in silence.

“Well, if it is true that Harry Watson won’t be able to go to our dances
and things, I’m going to be all the nicer to him at school and on the
ice, because I like him. Honestly, I do, Nettie,” said Viola.

This frank avowal surprised her chum, but she discreetly kept the fact
to herself, and it was not long before the unpleasant incident on the
ice was forgotten.

But it had made a deep impression upon Harry and, when he arrived at the
comfortable home of his aunt he was very serious, returning her greeting
almost curtly.

Realizing that something was amiss with the boy, yet knowing well that
should she question him about it, she would but add to his reticence,
the aunt wisely held her peace, trusting that during the evening he
would let her know what the trouble was, of his own accord.

The boy, however, came to the conclusion that the problem which
confronted him was one that he alone could work out; and, during supper,
he forestalled any possible inquiries on the part of his aunt by
relating to her the incidents of the hockey game, and then the races to
the brush-pile.

No sooner was the meal finished, however, than he betook himself to his
room on the plea that he wished to unpack his trunk, and he was soon
busily engaged in so doing, at the same time revolving plans in his mind
by which he could either win the good will of the boys who had taken
such an evident dislike to him, or else manage in some way to get the
best of them so effectually that, for the future, they would not seek to
annoy him.

“I thought you were going to grind out your Latin,” cried a voice,

“Why, hello, Paul! I thought you were going on the sleigh-ride!”
returned Harry.

“None of our crowd are going, because Mrs. Masterson wasn’t able to
chaperone us to-night. Instead we are going to have a candy-pull over at
my house, and I came over to get you. So put your duds on and come

At first our hero thought of refusing, then he reconsidered his idea,
and accompanied the fellow who was later to be his most intimate chum to
his home, where he found all the boys and girls who were to have been
members of Viola’s sleighing party, even to Annabel; and pleasant,
indeed, was the evening which he passed.

As they bade Paul’s mother and the boy good night and went out on the
piazza, Mildred suddenly cried:

“Oh, look at that red spot in the sky!”

Instantly the others turned in the direction towards which the girl was

“It’s a fire!” exclaimed Misery. “It’s a bad night for one, too, with
the wind blowing, and it’s so cold it will be hard to get any water.”

“Where is it? Why doesn’t someone give the alarm?” exclaimed several of
the boys and girls.

“It’s over toward the bluff leading up to the school.”

“Perhaps it’s only a manifestation of the aurora borealis!” exclaimed

“That sounds fine, Annabel, but I guess I know a fire when I see one,”
returned Misery.

“But it’s just as likely to be the aurora as it is a fire,” protested

“No, it isn’t either,” retorted Misery. “It’s a bad night, and fires
always come on bad nights.”

The excited voices attracted the attention of Paul’s father, and as the
gentleman made his way to the front door, several of them turned to him.

“Is that a fire, Mr. Martin?” they asked.

Ere the old gentleman could reply, however, all doubt was put at rest by
the shout of “Fire!” followed almost immediately by the ringing of the
church bell.

Mr. Martin’s house was situated on the main street, and as the members
of the volunteer fire company rushed by to get the hand engine, Paul’s
father called out:

“Where is it, boys?”

“It’s Jed Brown’s house,” came the answer.


A fire in a small country village, always a dread catastrophe, is much
more serious in the winter, especially when any wind is stirring; and in
the realization of these facts, the street was soon alive with men and
women hurrying to the scene of the conflagration.

When they learned, however, that it was the home of the crippled
veteran, many of them turned back.

All Paul’s friends, together with his father, had started towards the
scene, as soon as they knew where the fire was; and as Mr. Martin met
several men whom he knew, returning, he asked:

“Where are you going? Is the fire out, or what?”

“Oh, it’s nothing but old Jed Brown’s shanty,” retorted one of them.

“That doesn’t make any difference. You ought to be willing to help Jed
as quickly as anyone else. Besides, there’s quite a wind, and if we
don’t check the blaze, it may spread. Now turn around and come back with

As Mr. Martin was a person of importance and influence in Rivertown, the
men whom he had stopped and ordered to go back quickly obeyed.

When they arrived at the head of the street whence they could see the
veteran’s little house, they all realized that it would be impossible to
save it, for, though it had been a short fifteen minutes since the alarm
had been sounded, the house was a seething mass of flames.

Frantically men were working with shovels, throwing the snow which they
scooped up onto the leaping tongues of fire, but without any result.

Rising high into the air, the sparks were borne in all directions, and
when an unusually strong gust of wind swirled down the bluff, the
burning brands were carried from the doomed house.

“Where are the boys with the hand engine?” demanded Mr. Martin, when no
sight or sound was there of the volunteer fire department. “Aren’t they

“They’re stuck. One of the runners on the front bob gave in,” informed a
man who had just joined the constantly-increasing fringe of men and
women whose figures stood out in prominent silhouette against the lurid

“Then we must get busy and form bucket brigades to wet down the roofs of
those two houses right alongside!” exclaimed Mr. Martin, pointing to two
large white residences, one of which was about one hundred feet from the
burning house, and the other almost directly across the not over-wide

“Come on, men! If those houses catch, the fire will sweep right through
the town! A quarter of an hour’s work now will save them; but if we wait
very long it will be too late.”

Aroused by the words of the town Nestor, the men and boys lost no time
in rushing to each of the residences; and while some of them went into
the kitchens and manned the pumps, others formed a line to pass the
pails, which were contributed by everybody; while others of the men who
had placed ladders against the eaves, mounted the roof, where they sat
astraddle of the ridgepole, dousing the embers which were falling on the
roofs with greater frequency.

Suddenly, the rumor spread among those still watching the fire that the
crippled veteran was in his house.

Hysterical women wrung their hands and begged the men to rush into the
flames and rescue the helpless man. Such an act, however, would have
been the height of folly, and none of them made the attempt, knowing
full well that were he inside he would have met his death long before.


The rumor, however, was dispelled almost as quickly as it had started.

“Ha! Old Jed ain’t in the house! I seen him sneaking off down the street
just as soon as the fire was going well,” exclaimed Pud.

“How long was that before the alarm was given?” demanded several of the
men, who had heard the statement of the butcher’s son.

“Oh, five or ten minutes, I should say. It seems funny to me that the
house should burn so quickly; and then I should have thought Jed would
have wanted to stay and watch it,” added Pud.

Had the boy known, however, the purpose for which the old veteran had
gone down the street, he would have been less active in trying to sow
the seeds of suspicion among those who were in earshot of him. But in
his ignorance he continued to make statements that would cast suspicion
upon the old man.

“When I first seen the fire, I thought I smelled kerosene.”

“So did I,” chorused several others.

This mention of the fact that they had noted the odor of the combustible
oil immediately started the tongues of the women gossips to wagging; and
gathering into little groups, they began to talk over with one another
the reasons the crippled veteran would have for burning up his home.

The bully, however, had not finished his sensational statements. No
sooner had he seen that his sowing of the seed of suspicion had found
ready soil, than he added to his previous effect by saying:

“After I seen Jed and smelled the kerosene, I went down around behind
the house and seen a fellow running. Seeing he was headed toward the
village I cut around back and followed him while he walked up Kenosha
street—and who do you think it was?”

The highly excitable minds of the women and the village gossips had been
worked to concert pitch by the bully, and as he paused dramatically
after his story, they cried:

“Who? Tell us, quick!”

Looking round from one to another of the score of people who had
gathered about him, the bully exclaimed:

“It was Harry Watson, the boy that’s come to live here!”


Unfortunately for Harry, he and his boy and girl friends who had been at
the Martins’ house during the evening were all scattered between the two
houses where the bucket brigades were working, and no one was there to
speak a good word for him in contradiction of Snooks’ most despicable
charge, for his manner as he spoke gave no room to doubt that he
believed the new student had fired the building.

The others quickly put this interpretation upon his statement, and with
the rapidity only to be found in villages, word spread about that Harry,
for some fancied spite, had burned up the home of the crippled veteran.

And as the story was repeated, it lost nothing in the telling.

“Why doesn’t someone go swear out a warrant for the boy’s arrest?”
demanded a particularly irascible old woman.

“You can’t do it, Mirandy, unless you got some reason for making the
charge, and you didn’t see the boy,” returned one of the men.

“But Pud Snooks seen him. He can swear out a warrant!” exclaimed the
spinster. “It ought to be done. There won’t be nobody safe in the
village with that boy liable to burn us all up at any time.”

The words caused alarm among several of the women, who gathered about
the old gossip, and they began to demand that action be taken; but when
some of the men finally started to look for the bully who had spread the
wicked report, he was nowhere to be seen.

The gossips, however, interpreted Snooks’ absence to their own ends.

“Some of the men have probably taken him up to Squire Baxter’s,” said
Miranda, and others who had heard her words instantly gave the
irresponsible old spinster’s remark the stamp of authority, declaring
that Harry’s arrest was but the question of a few minutes.

In the meanwhile, the fire having burnt itself out on Jed Brown’s house,
and the danger to the neighboring mansions being thereby over, the
members of the bucket brigade made their way once more to the scene of
the conflagration.

With Mr. Martin on one side, and his son Paul on the other, Harry
approached the ruin.

“There he comes! There he comes! Luther Martin has the little sneak! He
knows what to do with him!” snapped Miranda.

And in whispers, low but none the less audible, the word quickly ran
around the circle of gossips that the village Nestor was holding the
youthful fire-bug until the proper authorities could take him into
custody. So curious were the glances cast at them by the rest of the
people, that Mr. Martin could not help but notice them, and, wondering
at their cause, he turned to the man nearest him, calling him by name,
and asked:

“What is the matter, Zeke? Why is everybody whispering and looking at

“’Tain’t you they’re looking at,” returned the man, in a voice as solemn
as though he were chief mourner at a funeral.

“Then who is it?”

“Harry Watson.”

“What about him?”

“You know as well as I do.”

Too familiar with his neighbors not to know that something of unusual
seriousness was afoot, Mr. Martin laid his hand heavily upon Zeke’s

“I want you to tell me what people are saying about Harry Watson, and
what all this mysterious whispering means?” declared the patriarchal man
in stern tones.

Realizing that it would be folly to try to deceive the village Nestor,
Zeke looked uneasily about him, then cleared his throat, preparatory to

“Well, it’s this way, Luther,” he began in a whining voice. “They are
saying as how you’re holding Harry Watson until the constable can come
and arrest him.”

Both Paul and the boy against whom the breath of suspicion had been
directed could not help but hear what passed between Mr. Martin and the
man with whom he was talking, and as the latter explained the action of
the rest of the spectators, Harry staggered back as though he had been
struck a blow in the face.

“Arrest me!” he exclaimed. “What for?”

“You know,” declared Zeke in a mournful voice.

“Nonsense, Zeke. Nobody’s going to arrest Harry Watson any more than
they are me,” interrupted Mr. Martin. “And now if you’ll just get over
your desire to create a mystery and tell me what this is all about, I’ll
quickly settle it—and if you don’t, I’ll ask somebody who can tell me
the plain facts without any trimmings.”

Fond as he was of beating about the bush and giving vague hints and
meaning glances, rather than a plain statement of facts, Zeke, however,
did not wish to be deprived of exploding the bomb.

“Pud Snooks says he seen young Watson running away from the fire, and he
and a lot of us smelled kerosene just as the blaze started, and Mirandy
and the rest of us has been saying that there won’t be any house safe in
Rivertown until that boy is fast behind lock and key.”

His son having told him during supper the trick the bully had tried to
play on Harry which had come so near to resulting in the death of the
little children; also about the new student’s preventing Pud from
snowballing the crippled veteran, and his attempt to foul the boy during
the race on the river, Mr. Martin readily realized the story was but the
emanation of the bully’s brain.

Raising his voice so that it could be heard by all within a radius of
fifty feet, the village Nestor exclaimed:

“That’s utter nonsense, Zeke. Harry Watson is a good boy. He comes from
an honorable family, and there’s no more reason for accusing him of
setting Jed Brown’s place afire than there is of accusing me!” Then the
patriarchal man paused a few moments to allow the murmurs of surprise to
subside before he added in a still louder voice than at first, for the
greater effect:

“Besides, Harry Watson has been at my house all the evening, and came to
the fire together with my boy, Paul, several of his friends, and

“But Pud said he seen him!” declared several people, evidently unwilling
to accept Mr. Martin’s words.

“Where is Pud?” demanded the village Nestor. “I——”

“Yes, where is Pud Snooks? I want to talk to him!” exclaimed a shrill
voice, interrupting.

Turning at the sound, the men and women beheld the bent and bowed form
of old Jed Brown.

Instantly, there was a babel of talk and exclamations at this unexpected
turn in affairs.

“What do you want to see him for?” demanded one of the men.

“I want to see him to ask him what he was doing in my shed just before I
caught him coming out.”

At the words, several of the men and women crowded about the crippled
veteran, plying him with questions; but with a wave of his hand, Mr.
Martin silenced them.

“This is a very serious statement, Jed,” he exclaimed in a stern voice.
“I warn you that you must be careful what you say. Now tell me just what
happened, and how you discovered the fire.”

As they heard the words, those of the men and women who were still at
the scene, formed a circle about the village patriarch and the crippled
veteran, necks craned forward, ears cocked, that they might not lose a
syllable of anything that was said.

“I was just getting ready to go to bed when I heard a noise out in the
shed,” declared Jed. “For some time I’ve been missing tools, and so I
picked up a club I had by the kitchen stove, and started out to see what
the trouble was.

“I s’pose I made some noise, for just as I had stepped out of the
kitchen door, somebody ran out from the shed and tried to pass me.

“‘Who is it?’ I cried. But instead of answering me, the person swung at
me and caught me in the shoulder with a blow that would have knocked me
down had I not thrown my arms about him and hung on.”

As he made this statement, the crippled veteran paused. For several
moments his auditors waited, thinking he would continue, but when he did
not several of them asked:

“Did you see who it was?” “Could you get a look at his face?”


“Who was it?”

“Pud Snooks!”

At the pronouncement of the bully’s name, cries of astonishment arose
from the circle of men and women.

“Why didn’t you hold onto him?” demanded Mr. Martin.

“Because he shook me off.”

“Then what did you do?”

“I started after him—and I hadn’t gone more than half way up the street
before I saw flames burst from the shed.”

In silence all those in the circle heard these words.

“Do you want to have the boy taken up for this, Jed?” finally asked Mr.

“No. I don’t want to bring trouble to anyone, but I’m not going to have
the house burnt over my head without getting some return. I want to find
Pud Snooks and ask him some questions, and then I want to have a talk
with his father.”

“You’re a sensible man, Jed,” declared Mr. Martin. “Just come along with
me and we will go find Pud’s father. Come, Harry! Come, Paul.”

Without more words Mr. Martin turned on his heel, and led the way up the
street, several of the more curious among the crowd tagging at his


“I don’t believe it was Pud who set fire to Mr. Brown’s house,”
exclaimed Harry, as they walked along.

“Don’t you s’pose I know him when I see him? I have good reason to!”
retorted the crippled veteran.

“What makes you think it wasn’t he, Harry?” asked Mr. Martin.

“Because he was going on a sleigh ride with Socker Gales and some of the
other boys and girls,” returned Harry.

“But evidently he didn’t go, for he was at the fire after it was burning
fiercely,” asserted the venerable man. Nobody knew the cause for the
bully’s remaining at home.

Stung deeply by the words Nettie had uttered when he had come up behind
them when the two girls were walking home, Snooks had asked his father
for some money that he might join his friends in driving to the Lake
House at Cardell for the dance, only to be gruffly refused.

Angry at his father, his friends and himself, the bully had eaten his
supper in sullen hastiness, and then left the house by the back way for
the purpose of watching his friends depart on the sleigh ride. The route
he took, however, led him past the house of the crippled veteran whom he
hated so deeply, and the sight of it suggested to him that he might work
off his ill-humor by playing some trick on old Jed.

Entering the shed, he lighted a match and was looking about the shop,
when he had heard the crippled veteran opening the door of the kitchen,
and, thinking only that he must escape, the boy had thrown the match on
the floor and rushed to leave the shed. Instead of going out, the match
had fallen into a pile of shavings, quickly igniting them, and the
flames found ready food in the pieces of wood, oil-soaked leather and
other odds and ends with which the shop was littered, and in a few
moments had gained such headway that they were irresistible.

Such was the story which Mr. Martin and the bully’s father extorted from
the boy after they had questioned him closely in the presence of the
crippled veteran for a half hour.

Though the fire was purely an accident, it was so evident that Pud had
gone to his arch-enemy’s house bent on mischief, that the butcher and
Mr. Martin were at a loss how to proceed in the matter of meting out
punishment; and as they sat in silence, pondering over the confession,
it was Jed himself who solved the problem.

“Well, I’m glad you didn’t come to the house with the intention of
burning it, Pud,” he exclaimed. “You and I know I hadn’t occasion for
being fond of you, but I’d hate to think there was any boy, or man
either for that matter, in Rivertown who was so down on me that he would
want to burn the roof over my head.

“Now, I’ve carried a bit of insurance on the place and I’m not going to
live very much longer, so if——”

“Jed, I ain’t liked you no better than my boy,” interrupted the butcher,
“but you’ve been so decent, and not asked me to punish Pud or send him
away where they’ll take care of him, that if it’s agreeable to you I’ll
give you two hundred and fifty dollars. Pud, go get my check book.”

“No need to bother about that to-night, Snooks. You can give me the
money to-morrow,” declared Jed. And with this understanding Mr. Martin
and the crippled veteran took their departure.

Once they were outside, the village patriarch seized the hand of the
crippled veteran and shook it heartily.

“Jed, you certainly are a man!” he exclaimed, feelingly. “But where will
you go to live, now?”

Ere the old man could answer, Harry and Paul, who had been waiting
outside the house, joined them just in time to hear Mr. Martin ask this

“If you’d care to, I should like to have you come around to our house!”
exclaimed Harry. “I know Aunt Mary would like it, and then as you’re an
old friend of dad’s he’d want me to ask you.”

“That would be just the thing,” asserted Mr. Martin, “and I don’t doubt
but that you can make arrangements to live at her house with Mary as
long as you care to stay in Rivertown. I’ll go and explain things.”

Surprised at first, after the incidents of the evening had been made
clear to her, Mrs. Watson readily agreed to board the veteran as long as
he cared to remain; and after bidding them all a cordial good-night, Mr.
Martin and Paul went to their home.

Many were the glances that were cast at the bully and Harry when they
appeared at the high school the following day, but no one had the
temerity to speak to them about the incident of the fire, although there
were many whispered conversations held in which the sympathy was
entirely with the new student.

As Paul had said, the only lesson of importance the freshman class were
called upon to attend was the Latin, of which the crusty old Prof. Isaac
Plummer, often called “Grouch” by the students, was instructor.

As the boys and girls filed into the classroom, the professor, who was a
little squat man, with a scrubby beard, so thin that one of the girls
had said it was really an individual beard, glanced at them over the
tops of his spectacles.

“There’s no use asking any of you, I suppose, whether you have your
lesson or not,” he snapped, in a high-pitched, jerky voice. “The fire
last night would have been a sufficient excuse, I suppose, even if it
wasn’t for the fact that you never do have your lesson anyway.”

Then, his eyes resting on Harry, he exclaimed:

“What are you doing in here?”

“I came to recite, sir.”

“Listen, the rest of you. Here’s a boy who has come to recite. Do you,
by any chance, happen to be a member of the Rivertown High School, or
have you just dropped in like manna sent from Heaven to show the rest of
these young idiots that it is possible for a child to know its Latin
lesson? What’s your name?”

“Harry Watson,” stammered the boy, his face scarlet at the brusqueness
of the Latin instructor’s greeting.

“Where do you come from?”

“Lawrenceburgh, sir.”

“Do you like Latin?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then that explains it. I don’t wonder you left Lawrenceburgh. No man
who cared for Latin would ever live there, let alone learn it in any of
their schools. How far have you gone in Caesar?”

“Through the first two books.”

“Indeed! I didn’t suppose anyone ever got beyond the grammar in
Lawrenceburgh. Suppose you start in at the beginning of the second book,
which is our lesson to-day, and read as far as you can.”

During this tirade many were the nudges in which the boys and girls
indulged themselves; and Elmer and Pud had reveled in it, gleefully,
believing that they were about to witness the discomfiture of the boy
for whom they had conceived such a dislike.

But Harry was fond of Latin and was also well grounded in his
fundamentals. Opening his book at the part indicated, he began to
translate, and Prof. Plummer allowed him to finish two sections before
he began to ask him questions on construction. But though he tried his
best to confuse the boy, Harry did not get rattled, and acquitted
himself creditably.

“Watson, I want you to come up here,” the instructor exclaimed, when he
had finished. “Let me shake hands with you. I’m glad to know there is
one scholar in Rivertown High School who has even the faintest
conception of the Latin fundamentals.”

Blushing even more furiously than he had while he was being baited,
Harry stood in his place uncertain whether the professor meant what he
said or not, and hoping in his heart that he did not.

“Ah, you hesitate, I see,” grinned Prof. Plummer, sardonically. “After
you know me better you will know I never mean what I say. Never to my
knowledge have I willingly had one of the pupils of Rivertown High
School approach any nearer than you are now. Kindly remember that.”

And after calling upon one after another of the members of the class
only to have them answer “Not prepared,” old Grouch dismissed the class
in disgust.


Although the majority of the scholars in the Rivertown High School lived
in Rivertown, there were a goodly number who came from adjacent
villages, and for the benefit of these, as well as to give a greater
school life to those who lived at home, the trustees of the high school
had sanctioned the use of several halls as society rooms.

Thus the girls had two for their exclusive use, the Gamma Gammas and the
Lambda Nus; and the boys three, the Kappa Phis, the senior society, the
Psi Mus, to which only juniors were eligible, and the Pi Etas, nicknamed
the Pie Eaters by the upper classmen, composed chiefly of sophomores,
although such of the freshmen as were not too crude were admitted to

For several days after Harry’s encounter with the Latin professor, he
was discussed by the boys at the head of the Pi Etas, and, after
deciding that he was eligible, the members began to rush him, inviting
him around to the club room, to their homes, their skating and dancing

Elmer and Socker, as well as Paul and Jerry, belonged to the Greek
letter society, and the proposal to take Harry into the folds of the Pi
Eta met with a vigorous opposition from the former pair. Sufficient were
there of the sophs, however, who believed that, with a little rubbing
off of the rough edges, Harry would be a desirable member of their
crowd, to out-vote them, and in due course a committee was selected to
pledge him.

But when Harry was approached, he exhibited no great enthusiasm.
Fortunately, however, Paul and Jerry were members of the committee and,
after the full body had sounded him, they remained at his aunt’s house
with him.

“What’s wrong? Don’t you like the crowd?” asked Jerry.

“You bet I do! It isn’t that.” And then our hero paused, blushing,
finally continuing:

“I might as well tell you fellows, because it will save a lot of
unpleasantness for me. I can’t afford to do the things the rest of you
fellows can.”

At this frank announcement, Paul and Jerry looked at one another in
dismay, for neither of them knew exactly how to answer, and moreover, it
was confirmation of their belief that Harry’s refusal to go on the
sleigh ride was because of his lack of funds.

As the pause that ensued after the statement became embarrassing, Jerry
took the bit in his teeth.

“There’s practically no expense, Harry. No initiation fees, or anything
like that. All we have to do is to pay for the light and heat. The
school pays the rent, that is, they say they do, though none of the
rooms or halls of Rivertown societies have cost a penny, for they’re
given by people who own the property. My assessment, so far, this year
has been seventy-five cents. You know there are fifty Pi Etas and the
expenses for the rest of the year, with Spring coming before long, will
be still less, and we want you to be one of the bunch,—honestly, we do.
It means no end of fun next year, the Psi Mu surely for junior and the
Kappa Phi for senior year.”

A lot of other things Jerry and Paul told our hero, and by the time they
had finished talking to him, he had fully come to the conclusion that he
would get the money to pay his dues in some manner, and he signified his
delight at the prospect of joining the society.

“Good boy!” chorused his chums. “Just stay in your room to-night. As
your superiors in the Pi Eta we command you to.”

And hitting the boy such powerful whacks on his back that is seemed to
him his teeth would fall out, Paul and Jerry left him. Descending the
stairs, they bade Mrs. Watson a significantly courteous “good night” and
hurried back to the society room to carry the tidings of Harry’s
acceptance to their waiting fellows.

With an understanding of what the call of all the boys upon her nephew
meant that would have done credit to a father, Harry’s aunt went to her
desk, took out a sheet of paper, and wrote:

  “My Dear Boy:

  “I hope you find this of use, and it affords me more pleasure to be
  able to give it to you than it can you to receive it.

                                                 “Lovingly, Aunt Mary.

  “P. S.—If anything should ever happen that you should get into a
  little scrape, I want you to feel that you can come to me. Tell me all
  about it instead of going to an outsider. I shall be able to help

And enclosing a five dollar bill, she put it into an envelope and biding
her time until Harry came downstairs, slipped up to his room and placed
it on his study table where he would be sure to find it.

Wonder as to what his instructions to remain in the house meant filled
Harry with an alternating succession of vague misgiving and delight, and
appreciating his mood, his aunt humored him during supper, refraining
from pressing him with any awkward questions as to his unusual

When he finished supper, Harry stayed around downstairs till he heard
the sound of voices out in the street in front of the house. As they
drew nearer and nearer, it became evident that they were chanting.

“Mercy! What can that be? It sounds like a funeral dirge!” exclaimed
Mrs. Watson, simulating an ignorance of the familiar song by which the
Pi Etas announced their descent upon a prospective victim to their
initiation, though she had heard it numberless times before, when the
members of the society in years gone by had passed through the street in
quest of their victims.

The blood mounting to his face, Harry listened a moment, then ran up to
his room, grabbed up his Caesar, dropped into a chair and vainly strove
to concentrate his mind upon the text before him.

Once only in a life-time does the indescribable thrill grip the heart of
a boy who realizes that he has been found fit by the most critical jury
in the world, his fellow students, to become a member of one of their
secret societies—and in the ecstasy of his happiness Harry never noticed
that his book was upside down.


As the measured tread of the steps of the students marching in military
time rang out on the porch, Harry could not restrain his feelings, and
jumped to his feet, pacing excitedly up and down his room.

For moments that seemed eternal after the sound of the tramping came, he
listened for the peremptory knock.

At last it came, and as it rang out, with significance the boy could
never forget, his heart almost stopped beating—then he was dully aware
that his aunt had gone to the door and opened it. He heard the sound of
excited voices, then it seemed as though there were a mighty crash
against the door of his room, in rushed several of the boys whom he
knew, seized him, tossed him to their shoulders and started down the
stairs, not a word having been spoken. But as he gained the outside
door, the boys assembled in the yard broke into a chant of triumph, and
with the new student still borne aloft, they retraced their steps down
the street, the rhythm of their song growing in its delirium until they
reached their society room.

But once Harry was inside the sacred precincts, guarded by the four
plastered walls, he was no longer the good fellow sought by his
schoolmates, but the victim of initiation—and before he had performed
all the stunts which were put up to him, it was early in the morning.
And when he made his way to his aunt’s house, it was not the carefree
boy who had been borne forth on the shoulders of his friends, but a
youth, bedraggled, and with a more proper appreciation of his utter
insignificance in the scheme of life.

Proud to think that her nephew had been picked out for one of the
members of the secret society, Mrs. Watson sat up, with the purpose of
welcoming him when he returned home. But as hour after hour went by
without his appearing, after the manner of a woman, she began to fear
that some harm had befallen him. Accordingly, when at last she heard his
halting footsteps on the porch, she threw open the door, and greeted him

But Harry was so used up that he failed to appreciate the tenderness of
the caress, and, realizing the fact, his aunt sent him to bed with the
injunction to sleep as late in the morning as he pleased.

Sore, indeed, was Harry when he awoke the next morning, but as he noted
the glance cast at him by the other fellows passing on the way to
school, glances in which there was a certain amount of envy, he began to
forget the ache and pain, caused by the anything but gentle thumps he
had received during his initiation, and by the time he had reached the
schoolhouse, he was quite his natural self.

But though the boy was in exuberant spirits, it did not take him long to
realize that a depression had fallen upon his society mates, and he lost
no time in trying to learn the cause.

“What is it?” he asked Paul and Jerry, as they came toward him.

“It’s fierce, that’s what it is,” returned Jerry.

“But why don’t you tell me what it is?”

“Because nobody knows _exactly_,” asserted Paul.

“We’ll know, though, just as soon as chapel’s over,” announced Jerry, in
a voice so doleful, that the last vestige of Harry’s enthusiasm

Not far into the school grounds had Harry and his companions proceeded,
before the boy had found that the gloom shared by his society brothers
was reflected in all whom he met, and though he nodded to such of the
boys and girls as he knew, when there was any response at all, it was
merely perfunctory.

“Sort of a dismal morning to hand out to a new Pi Eta, what?” exclaimed

But Harry had become too imbued with the spirit of disaster to make any
reply, and as he took his seat in the chapel, he was as anxious-eyed as
any of the others.

The formal chapel service over, Mr. Larmore closed the Bible with
decided emphasis, and then, taking off his glasses and wiping them
nervously, he leaned over the little reading table and gazed at the
hushed students before him.

“I’m sorry, very sorry, to tell you all that there were depredations
committed last night in the physical laboratory belonging to the school.

“Several pieces of valuable experimental apparatus were destroyed.

“I believe that you all have too much understanding to make it necessary
for me to dwell upon the heinousness of such acts.

“The incident, bad as it is of itself, is particularly unfortunate in
view of the fact that there was, as I understand, an initiation in one
of the Greek letter societies last night!”

The significance of the principal’s words were so unmistakable that, as
they were uttered, a gasp of shocked surprise ran through the benches of
the students.

Not one among them was there who did not know that Harry had been the
boy who was initiated, and, as if drawn by an irresistible impulse, they
turned their gaze upon him.

Again clearing his throat, Mr. Larmore started to speak, when a boy rose
from the seats occupied by the seniors.

“My name is Thomas Dawson. You know me, Mr. Larmore. So do the other
people of Rivertown and the scholars of the high school.

“I had the honor to be elected a member of the Pi Eta during my freshman
year, and, in the memory of what the society stands for in scholarship
and in manliness, in high ideals of school life, I resent most
emphatically the imputations in your remarks cast upon the initiation
into the Pi Eta society last night!”

Never before had such a defiance to the principal of the school been
made, and as the boys and girls who pursued their studies within its
brick walls heard it, they were seized with an amazement even greater
than at the words of the principal.

But the cup of their surprise was not yet filled.

Pausing a moment after his statement, that the dramatic effect of his
utterance might be the greater, Dawson exclaimed:

“In the name of the members of the Pi Eta society of Rivertown High
School, I demand to know the authority for your statement that it was
any of our members who caused the breaking of the apparatus?”


Never before in the annals of Rivertown High had such a scene been
witnessed in the chapel, and as the scholars realized that one of their
number was openly defying the man who, for years had guided the
destinies of those studying under him, they were dumfounded.

Mr. Larmore, himself, evidently shared the general astonishment for, as
he heard Dawson’s demand, his eyes flashed, he opened his mouth as
though to speak, and then, evidently thinking better of it, closed it

The silence enveloping the chapel was so intense that the fall of a pin
would have sounded loud.

Realizing that such a situation could not be tolerated, the principal at
last exclaimed:

“Dawson, I am surprised that you should assume such an attitude in this

“For obvious reasons, I cannot enter into an argument with you as to the
source of my information. I will say, however, that I consider my
authority reliable.

“It grieves me more than I can express to think that any of my boys
should so far forget themselves in their sport as to do damage to the
school’s property.

“I shall go to my office directly after I have dismissed chapel, and I
shall expect those boys who took part in the breaking of the apparatus
to come to me and confess.

“Chapel is dismissed.”

Instantly there was a hum of excited voices as the boys and girls filed
from the assembly room where the chapel exercises were held.

Instead of going to their class rooms, however, the members of the Pi
Eta society filed out of the schoolhouse and gathered about their leader
who had challenged the principal.

“Did any Pi Eta smash the apparatus?” asked Dawson. “If he did, for the
good of the society he must go to Larmore and take his medicine. I want
to be sure of my facts before I take any further action.”

But not a boy spoke up.

“I put you on your Pi Eta oath,” announced Dawson.

But even this placing them on their most sacred honor had no additional
effect upon the society boys.

Several of the members of the other Greek letter societies gathered
about the Pi Etas—for they realized that a crisis had arisen that
affected all the social organizations of the school—and they wanted to
plan how to meet it.

When, therefore, they learned that none of the society members had been
implicated in the trouble, they cheered loudly.

“The thing to do now, is to find out who told ‘Princy’”—which was the
nickname the boys applied to the principal of the school—“that it was
the work of the Pi Etas,” said Dawson.

“It strikes me that the best thing to do is for some of us to go in and
have a talk with him,” declared Longback, when none of the boys offered
any suggestion as to who the bearer of the information might be.

“Why not let the Pi Etas settle it themselves?” proposed another boy.

“Because it concerns the rest of us just as much as it concerns them—as
a matter of fact I believe it concerns us more; because I’m sure that
not one of the Pi Etas had anything to do with it.”

“Yes, and if any of us should go into Princy’s office, he and everybody
else in the school, would think we had come to confess,” declared Paul.

This argument proved a clincher for the plan of sending a delegation to
call on Mr. Larmore in his office, and without delay the boys expressed
their preferences, the committee finally being composed of Dawson,
Longback, Jerry, Harry and Misery.

The new member of the society objected to serving on the ground that it
wouldn’t look well for a boy who had just had the honor of coming into
the Pi Eta to take such a prominent part in its affairs so soon.

“Well, you _must_ come with us,” returned Dawson, “and I’ll tell you
why. There’s no use in mincing matters. Princy and all the other profs
think that as part of your initiation, the rest of us either made you
break the apparatus, or that you did so in a spirit of bravado.”

The case having been put to him thus plainly, Harry offered no further
objection to serving on the committee, and without more ado the boys who
had been chosen as delegates mounted the steps preparatory to going to
the office of the principal.

“What is it? School for the rest of us?” called another boy, looking
about at his companions.

“No, let’s cut?” cried three or four, while one of them continued:

“It will show Princy and the other Profs that we don’t like the deal
he’s handing to us.”

Readily all the members of the Greek letter societies in the school
agreed to the plan, and without even so much as going into the school
house for their books, they hied themselves to their respective society


The excitement among the rest of the scholars as to what the members of
the accused society would do was intense, especially among the Greek
letter girls, and little, indeed, was the attention they paid either to
their books or recitations, their eyes being upon the gathering of boys.

In ignorance of what had been decided upon, when some of them beheld the
five who had been chosen to wait upon Mr. Larmore, they instantly
concluded that they must be the boys who had taken part in the smashing
of the instruments, and quickly they passed the word along to the other
students who were unable to look out of the window.

As some of the boys who had advised against sending the delegation had
argued, when the knock sounded on the door of the principal’s office and
the order to enter had been given, Mr. Larmore believed that the five
students who filed in, had come to confess.

Accordingly, assuming a stern but injured manner, he rose and bowed to
each of them.

“There is no need for me to say that I am shocked when I see who of my
students took part in the mischief, but I am glad that you are men
enough to come to me and tell——”

“Pardon me, Mr. Larmore, but you are mistaken,” interrupted Dawson. “We
have not come to confess anything.”

“Eh? What?” exclaimed the principal, looking over his glasses at the

“I said that we have not come to confess,” repeated Dawson.

“Then to what do I owe the honor of this call?” Mr. Larmore asked,
dropping back into his chair and assuming his most sarcastic tone and

“In the first place, we want to tell you that no member of the Pi Eta
society had a hand in the doings in the physical laboratory; and in the
second, we wish to know who it was that charged us with the work.”

As he heard the statement, the principal’s face grew even more stern,
and for several minutes he thrummed his desk without making any reply.

He had not asked the boys to sit down, and as they stood in front of
him, they began to get nervous, shifting uneasily in an embarrassed sort
of way from one foot to another as though unable to bear his gaze—and
realizing how uncomfortable he was making the boys, Mr. Larmore kept
silent longer than he otherwise would have.

Resenting such treatment, Dawson fidgeted with his collar, and then

“Will you——”

“Just a moment, please,” interrupted the principal, raising his hand to
stop the boy. “I should like to know on what grounds you make your
assertion that none of the Pi Etas took part in the outrage.”

“Because they have told me so, sir,” replied Dawson.

“Of course! How stupid of me. I should have known that did the great Tom
Dawson ask who broke the apparatus, the guilty boy would have run right
up to him. I made a mistake in not asking you to——”

During this ironical remark, the senior who had taken upon himself to
defend the members of the under class society, grew very red.

“That’s not fair, Mr. Larmore!” he exclaimed, interrupting the

“Very well. Why should you expect the boys to admit their guilt to you?”

“Because I asked them under Pi Eta oath.”

This reply was sufficiently illuminative to cause the principal to cast
a keen glance at the spokesman.

“Do you really mean to tell me any member of that society would confess
their guilt to you if you put them on their oath?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And may I ask what you would have done had any of them made such a

“Sent them to you, sir.”

Again did the principal look over the top of his glasses, and he
realized as he never had before, what a power the Greek letter societies
could be in the discipline of the school.

“But if no members of your club committed the outrage, who did?” asked
Mr. Larmore finally, evidently voicing the thought that was in his mind.

“That, sir, we cannot tell you at the moment—but we will be able to

“How, pray?”

“Because we shall make it a point to find out, sir. And as a first step
toward that end we should be obliged if you would tell us who gave you
the information.”

“I will do that—presently. First, however, I should like to ask you what
punishment you think should be meted out to the boys who are guilty?”

“I fancy they won’t be ready for punishment for some time after we find
out who they are,” exclaimed Longback.

Smiling at this answer to his question, Mr. Larmore exclaimed:

“I am obliged to you boys for coming to see me. I’m sorry to say,
however, that I cannot accept your statements as to the innocence of the
members of the Pi Eta society in regard to smashing the apparatus in the
physical laboratory.

“My authority—who is no other than Tony, the janitor,—is, I believe,
altogether too reliable.

“For that reason, I have decided that until I can learn who the
perpetrators of the act are, to punish them individually, I shall assess
the Pi Eta society the amount of the damages, which comes to seventy
dollars, and until payment is made, I shall insist that the society’s
room be closed.

“I shall be obliged if you will act as collector for me, Dawson. You can
also announce my decision to all the society members, though I shall do
it in school just before the noon recess.

“And now, young gentlemen, I bid you good morning.”


Mingled, indeed, were the feelings with which the boys heard this
ultimatum from Mr. Larmore.

After he had dropped his sarcasm, they believed that he would at least
be fair with them, and accordingly, when they heard his terms, they
could scarcely believe their ears.

But they managed to control their feelings and, bowing curtly, turned on
their heels and strode from the office.

Once out in the hallway they gave vent to their indignation.

“My word! Princy must have had something awful mean for breakfast to
have accumulated such a grouch!” exclaimed Misery.

“But we can’t blame him so much,” returned Longback. “What sticks in my
craw is that old Tony Farelli, who was janitor at Rivertown High when
most of our fathers and mothers were students, should have laid the
trouble to the Pi Etas.”

“He must have some good reason for thinking it was some of us,” returned
Dawson, “because Tony has always been square.”

“Seventy dollars is going some,” declared Jerry. “It looks to me as if
the Pi Eta chapter room will be closed for some time to come.”

“Shall you pay it? I suppose you’ll assess the members equally?” asked

“Pay it! Well, I should say not!” retorted Dawson, angrily. “Princy can
nail up the door of the chapter room first!”

“Now, don’t go to making any threats, Tom,” interposed Longback. “The
thing to do is to have a meeting of the Kappa Phis and Psi Mus to decide
what shall be done.”

“How about us?” demanded Jerry. “Being the victims, it seems to me we
should have a little say in the matter.”

“There you go again,” retorted Dawson. “You freshmen never can seem to
understand that it is part of your training to do as your betters tell
you. Inasmuch as just about all the Kappa Phis are old Pi Eta men, you
can be very sure that nothing will be decided upon that will lower the
dignity of any Pie Eater.”

While they were talking, the boys were standing upon the porch of the
school building.

In the meantime, the principal had started on his rounds of the various
rooms, immediately upon the departure of the student committee, and it
was only a short time before he had learned that all the Greek letter
men had cut their classes.

Angered at such action, Mr. Larmore was stalking back to his office,
when he chanced to espy the committee members through the glass in the

Hastening his steps, he pushed open the inner door, yanked the knob of
the outside one so that the door came open with a jerk, and faced the

“Why aren’t the Greek letter students at their classes, and what are you
doing out here?” he demanded.

“I can only speak for myself, sir,” returned Dawson. “I am out here
because I’m not going to school to-day.”

Only the tone in which he spoke saved the boy’s speech from being
grossly disrespectful, but the principal had sufficient understanding of
scholars to know that it would not be well for him to press the matter
farther, and without another word, he closed the door and returned to
his office.

“Wow, but Princy’s mad!” ejaculated Jerry. “Let’s get hold of the other
fellows and decide on our plan of action just as soon as we can.”

This suggestion met with the approval of the other members of the
committee, and forthwith they hied themselves down the hill.

As they reached the foot, they met a crowd of boys hurrying toward them.

“Princy’s closed the Pi Eta room,” cried several of them, as they
gathered about the members of their committee.

“We know it,” returned Dawson. “And what’s more it will stay closed
until the Pi Etas pay seventy dollars, which Mr. Larmore says is the
amount of the damage done in the physical laboratory—and that, I opine,
will be some time in the far distant future.”

At first the other boys refused to believe this announcement, but they
were quickly assured of its authoritativeness, and when its full
significance dawned upon them they stared at one another blankly.

“I can also tell you that Princy’s very sore because the Greek letter
men have cut their classes.”

“My word, but the prospect looks cheerful, doesn’t it?” commented
Socker. “Where will the Pi Eta bunch meet, now?”

“The graveyard seems the most appropriate place,” asserted Misery.

“You’ll have to do without your chapter room,” laughed Dawson. “In the
meantime, the Kappa Phis and the Psi Mus are going to have a meeting to
decide what you shall do.”

“That’s awfully sweet of you,” mocked one of the freshmen. “I do hope
you won’t decide on anything that it won’t be perfectly ladylike to do,”
and turning to his companions he exclaimed: “Come on, fellows, let’s go
down to the river and have a hockey game.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” countermanded Dawson, as a dozen or so
of the boys started off to get their skates. “It’s up to you boys to
find Tony, while the rest of us are holding our consultation.”

“But what’s old Tony got to do with it?” chorused several of the group.

“Everything, seeing that it is he who told Princy the Pi Etas were in
the laboratory,” returned Longback, dryly.

“But there isn’t one of us Tony wouldn’t recognize—except, of course,

“That’s it, exactly,” asserted Dawson.

“Can Watson prove an alibi?” demanded a voice from the outside of the
crowd which had been constantly increasing, as the word had passed
around that the delegates had concluded their interview with the
principal of the Rivertown High School.

“Who said that?” demanded Jerry, indignantly.

No one, however, made any response.

“I’ll wager the fellow who said that thing is the one who broke the
apparatus,” declared Paul.

“Of course, I——” began Harry.

“Keep quiet! Shut up! Don’t answer him! Forget it!” shouted several of
the boys, effectually drowning Harry’s words.

“You mustn’t forget you’re a Pi Eta, and that a Pi Eta is never
doubted,” said Jerry.

“Hear! Hear!” mocked several of the upper classmen.

“Seriously, though, you mustn’t waste any more time,” interposed
Longback. “You noble spirited Pi Etas go find Tony, and we’ll have our
confab; then you may meet us in the hall in front of the Psi Mu chapter

The freshmen, however, did not wait to hear the last of the taunt, and
breaking up into bands of two or three, they started out with the
purpose of locating the janitor.

“Why not look for him at the school,” suggested Harry.

“Because, this is his day to go to Lumberport,” returned Jerry. “He
always goes over there every Thursday to draw money for school

“Maybe he hasn’t gone yet. Let’s go round to his house,” suggested Paul.

Quickly, the boys who were natives of Rivertown set out to guide their
new chum to the house where the janitor lived; but when they arrived
they were disappointed to know that he had been gone some two hours.

“Are you the young gentlemen he was expecting to bring him money?” asked
Mrs. Farelli.

“Money for what?” asked Paul, surprised.

“I don’t know, sir. He just said some young men were to bring him some
money and I thought it might be you, so I was going to tell you he said
to take it over to Lumberport and leave it at Rector’s cigar store for
him, as he won’t be back for a couple of days.”

“Then he hasn’t gone on school business, to-day?” exclaimed Jerry, with
a rising inflection in his voice.

“No, sir.”


After thanking the janitor’s wife for her information, the boys left the

“Funny Tony should be going to stay away a couple of days,” remarked
Paul, as he walked along.

Both his companions agreed with him, but as Harry had lived in Rivertown
so short a time, he was little acquainted with the habits of Farelli,
and so he could offer no intelligent comment.

“It seems to me we ought to get over to Lumberport as quickly as we
can,” announced Jerry. “If we can locate Tony and pull the story out of
him before anyone else gets to him, it will be some feather in our

“It seems to me we ought to tell Dawson, and some of the other boys,”
declared Harry. “If there really is any crooked work they will be more
likely to make the janitor tell about it than we would, I should think,
considering the fact that they have been at the school four years.”

To this suggestion, our hero’s chums agreed, and quickly they betook
themselves to the hall in which the room of the Psi Mus was located.

“You’ve got a nerve to rap at our door. Didn’t we tell you to wait and
meet us in the hall?” demanded the boy who answered the summons.

“That’s all right. We’ve found out something you people ought to know,
so you needn’t close the door in our faces,” retorted Jerry.

The statement that they had important information to impart had been
heard by the leaders of the two societies who were holding the
consultation, and quickly they called to them to enter.

“Well, what is it that’s so important?” demanded Dawson.

“We went down to see if Tony was at home,” began Paul, when he was
interrupted by one of the others exclaiming:

“Of course he wasn’t. This is his day to go to Lumberport on school
business for Princy.”

“I know that,” retorted Paul, “but we thought perhaps he might not have
started yet. When we got there, Mrs. Farelli asked us if we’d come to
pay Tony some money, for if we had, he wanted us to leave it at
Rector’s, in Lumberport, because Tony won’t be home for a couple of

“That’s just Tony’s way of trying to collect his debts quickly,”
commented one of the boys.

“Then why shouldn’t he have told his wife to take it,” asked Harry.

“And that’s what he would do,” interposed Dawson. “I say it won’t do any
harm for some of us to go over to Rector’s and see what’s up. In the
meantime, you three boys keep your mouths closed about what Mrs. Farelli
told you.”

To their disappointment, none of the freshmen were invited to become
members of the party that went to Lumberport, but they trailed along,
nevertheless; and when they trooped into the tobacco store which the
janitor had appointed as a rendezvous, they were surprised to see Elmer
Craven and Pud Snooks talking with Tony.

Their amazement, however, was nothing compared to that of the two
students of Rivertown High when they discovered the presence of their

“Didn’t know you boys would dare come into a cigar store,” growled
Elmer, scowling.

“So that’s why you selected it for your meeting place with Tony?”
retorted Dawson, and then, ignoring the presence of the rich boy, the
leader of the Kappa Phis turned to the janitor.

“Tony, I want you tell me which of the Pi Etas it was who broke the
stuff last night?”

“It was this young man, here,” returned the Italian, nodding toward

“What do you mean?” demanded the accused boy, his face blanching. “I
wasn’t anywhere near the schoolhouse last night. Just as soon as the fun
was over at the chapter room, I went home—and to bed.”

“I can vouch for the going home part of it,” declared Jerry.

“And so can I,” added Paul.

“And my aunt can vouch for my being in the house,” continued Harry.

“You see, Tony, you must have made a mistake, don’t you?” pursued

The charge that he had been wrong in the identification of the marauder
angered the Italian and he did not hesitate to let the fact be known.

Dawson and Harry’s chums, however, refused to accept the janitor’s
statement, and began to ply him with a series of cross questions which
finally extracted the statement from him that there really was a
possibility he had made an error because he was fully thirty feet away
from the person he had seen in the building, and the only light he had
was a lantern.

As these facts were brought out, the boys who formed the investigating
committee exchanged significant glances.

But their surprise was to be still further increased.

With an unexpectedness that made them gasp, Dawson exclaimed:

“I want you to tell me, Tony, if it isn’t in connection with this
identification business that Pud and Elmer came over here to pay you
some money?”

Too amazed to speak, the janitor and the boys with whom he had been
talking when the others entered the tobacco shop, glanced at one

And their action was accepted by the other boys as a tacit admission
that the amazing charge made by Dawson was true.

“Well, why don’t you tell me?” repeated the leader of the Kappa Phis who
had been acting as spokesman.

“Because it is a matter that does not concern you,” retorted the

“But you can’t deny it was about this laboratory business, now, Tony,
can you?” pursued his interrogator.

“I haven’t been given any money by those boys,” protested the janitor.

“But your wife said you were expecting some from them,” declared Dawson,
stretching the truth, that he might make his point more effective.

“They haven’t given me a cent,” whined the Italian. “They backed out!”


Aware that they had been discovered in their underhand work, Pud and
Elmer worked their way toward the door while Dawson was quizzing the
janitor, and when they heard his statement that they had gone back on
their bargain, they made a bolt to get outside. But Jerry blocked them.

“No, you’ll have to stay here until this matter is settled once and for
all,” he exclaimed, his face growing white and his hands clenching.

Realizing that resistance was futile, the two boys slunk back from the
door and awaited the further action of Dawson and his companions.

“Why not let them go?” suggested Harry. “Mr. Farelli’s words and their
actions have vindicated the Pi Etas, and it seems to me very poor policy
to bring any scandal to Rivertown High.”

“But you forget that Princy has assessed a fine of seventy dollars on
the Pi Etas,” protested Dawson. “While I’m perfectly willing to let the
matter drop, I see no reason why the boys who are members should be
compelled to pay out money for something for which they were not
responsible in any way.”

Although Harry’s suggestion had met with murmurs of approval from the
other boys when it had been made, the senior’s statement had brought
back to their minds the cost of such procedure, and they were equally
enthusiastic for the latter plan.

The thought that he could get himself out of a situation which had
become decidedly embarrassing, since his schoolmates had discovered him
in conference with the janitor and the bully of Rivertown High made
Elmer come forward.

“Suppose I agree to pay the seventy dollars and let the matter rest? Is
that agreeable to you fellows?” he asked.

“We ought to know how the trick was planned,” declared Jerry.

“Especially as it is Harry against whom the insinuation is the most
serious,” added Paul.

“Oh, never mind about me,” exclaimed our hero. “The only thing to be
considered is what’s best for the Pi Etas and for Rivertown High.”

This stand of the new student appealed to the rest of the boys, and at a
sign from Dawson, they withdrew to a corner of the cigar store for a
conference, leaving Harry, the janitor, Snooks and Elmer leaning against
the glass showcase.

The entire proceeding had been distasteful to the janitor, who had
filled his position for so many years and, believing that it would be
best for him to propitiate the boy for whom the other students had taken
up the cudgels, he riveted his eyes upon the new member of the Pi Etas.

“Do you know, I think I was wrong, sir, when I told Mr. Larmore that you
were the boy I had seen in the building.”

“You most certainly were!” returned Harry.

“Oh, well, in a time of excitement, any man is apt to be mistaken,”
interposed Elmer, lightly, “and so long as no harm has been done, if I
am willing to pay the expense, I don’t see why the matter should go any

At this statement, Harry looked at the rich boy.

“So you don’t think it’s any harm to have such a charge made against you
when you are practically unknown to the school authorities, and to the
people of the town in which the school is located?” he asked.

At the question, Elmer flushed and before he could think of a reply that
was adequate, Dawson and the boys with whom he had been talking, moved
over towards them.

“We’ve decided that if Watson is willing to overlook the affront that
has been put upon him, for the good of the Pi Etas and Rivertown High,
we will allow you to pay the seventy dollars, Craven, and let the matter

“Very well, I will go to Mr. Larmore in the morning,” announced Elmer,
his relief at the solution of the difficulty evidenced by the look which
settled on his face.

“No, that won’t do,” returned Dawson. “Mr. Larmore appointed me as
collector of the assessment, and if the matter is to be arranged as you
suggested, you must give the money to me. I will pay him. In that way,
no one but ourselves need know of the real facts.”

“But I shall need time in which to raise the money,” protested Elmer.

“How long?” asked the boy who had been acting as spokesman.

“A month, I should say.”

“And we’re to stand for the Pi Eta society room being closed for that
length of time just to accommodate you,” demanded Jerry, stepping toward

As though fearing an assault from his schoolmate, the rich boy drew

“Well, I might be able to get the money in two weeks,” he announced.

“That won’t do, either,” said Dawson. “Knowing you as I do, it is my
opinion that you have the money right in your pocket this minute.”

“But think of the sum, seventy dollars,” protested Elmer.

“Which is nothing to you, if the stories that come from Lumberport and
Springtown are true,” returned the senior, “and besides, I can tell from
the way Snooks is acting that he has some money in his pocket.

“Now you two boys might just look the matter squarely in the face. You
have deeply wronged Harry Watson—for reasons best known to yourselves.
Watson is a member of the Pi Eta and a scholar in Rivertown High and is
willing to overlook your actions, provided you clear the society from
all odium.

“I don’t mind telling you frankly that it was only because I insisted
upon it that the rest of the boys who came over with me consented to
such an arrangement.

“But unless you pay the money at once and to me, I shall withdraw my
objections to the true state of affairs being told to Mr. Larmore—and
you all know what the result of such action would be.”

The tones in which the senior spoke were bitter and, fully as much as
the words, they made Craven understand that he could not count upon the
sympathy or support of the other Greek letter men.

And even Snooks, who had never been able to gratify his dearest ambition
of becoming a Pi Eta, felt their sting.

“I’ve got fifteen dollars,” the bully announced. “If you have the rest
let’s pay it, Elmer.”

This statement that the butcher’s son had any money in his pocket was a
distinct surprise not alone to Elmer but to the other boys, and deeming
that it would make the burden upon him just so much the lighter, Craven
put his hand in his pocket.

“Very well. I have fifty dollars. With Pud’s fifteen that will make
sixty-five. If the rest of you will raise the remaining five dollars
among yourselves, I will pay it in the morning.”

In his talk, Dawson had been more or less bluffing, for he had not
thought that even as rich as Elmer’s father was, he allowed him any such
amount of money; and when he had heard the boy announce that he had
fifty dollars in his pocket, he could scarcely restrain the exclamation
of surprise that rose to his lips. But he managed to dissemble his

“All right. You place your money on the showcase, Elmer, and you put
yours down, Pud.”

Quickly, the two boys obeyed and, after verifying the count, Dawson
turned to the others.

“It’s up to us to make up the other five dollars. Come on, shell out?”
he exclaimed.

“I have fifty cents,” and producing the coin, he laid it down on the
showcase beside the other money.

The rest of the boys, however, not being accustomed to carrying money
about with them, fidgeted nervously, then put their hands in their
pockets, and the sum total they produced did not amount to over fifty
cents more.

Enjoying their embarrassment, Elmer’s face suddenly lighted.

“You fellows have driven hard terms with me, and if you can’t make up
the other five dollars, then I withdraw my offer to stand the brunt of
the cost.”

In dismay, Dawson and his friends looked at one another, but just as
they were on the point of admitting they could not carry out their
agreement, Harry took out an envelope from his pocket.

“I have five dollars,” he announced. “And for the sake of the Pi Etas
and Rivertown, I should be glad to put it into the fund.”


Even Elmer and Snooks could not but appreciate the magnanimity of this
offer, aware as they were of the straightened circumstances of the new

“Good boy!” exclaimed the others. “We’ll make it up to you just as soon
as we get back to Rivertown.”

Such strong dislike, however, had he conceived for Harry, that Elmer
could not bear the thought of being under obligations to him to the
slightest extent, and with an angry movement he thrust his hand in his
pocket, pulling out a five dollar bill.

“Here! Take this,” he snarled at Dawson. “I was saving it out to get
home on, but it doesn’t amount to anything to me, and I suppose that
five dollars Watson has is his spending money for the year.”

The wanton brutality of the remark brought an angry flush to Harry’s
face, and clenching his hands, he started toward the rich youth. But
with no desire to have any trouble in the town across the river, Dawson,
Paul and Jerry quickly placed themselves between the two boys, while the
senior took the extra money from Elmer and wrapped it with that which he
had, giving back to Harry the bill which our hero’s aunt had presented
to him.

At first, the new member of the Pi Eta society was disposed to resent
the act.

“Don’t be foolish,” exclaimed Dawson. “Craven and Snooks were the ones
who smashed the apparatus—I don’t know exactly how—but you never would
find them willing to pay a cent unless they were guilty; and it is
perfectly right that Craven should pay all the money he can rake or
scrape together.”

At this stinging comment, Elmer opened his mouth as though he intended
making a retort; but second thought showed him the futility of so doing,
and buttoning up his coat, he nodded towards Snooks and left the store
with the bully.

As soon as they were gone, the senior turned upon the janitor.

“Tony, I never thought to find you in such a mess as this.”

With tears in his eyes, the Italian spoke to the boys:

“I didn’t want to, but my little girl, she is sick, and I need some
money; and so when Elmer and Pud come to me and tell me they would give
me fifty dollars if I will say Watson broke the stuff, I talked it over
with my woman, and she say take it.”

This confession of the janitor’s, substantiating the idea which the boys
had formed of the incident, together with the thought that his
temptation had come from the fact that his child was ill, caused them to
forego any further cross-questioning of the janitor, and they took their
departure from the cigar store.

The return to Rivertown was much in the nature of an ovation for Harry,
for not long was it after the committee appointed by the Greek letter
societies started out than word of their purpose spread among the

With the letting out of school for the noon recess, the girls who were
members of the Gamma Gammas and the Lambda Nus learned of the action of
the boys, and forthwith they decided to cut classes for the rest of the

Particularly caustic in their comments upon the action of the principal
were Viola and Nettie; but as the older girls counseled a waiting
policy, the two freshmen were prevented from doing anything that would
further complicate the unfortunate case.

The action of the girls depleted the ranks of the school still further.
It was with difficulty the instructors could maintain any sort of
discipline during the afternoon, and when the last session was over for
the day, the boys and girls hastened down to the river, put on their
skates and started across to the town of Lumberport.

Before they had reached the other side of the river, however, they met
Dawson and the other boys returning, and as they saw the happy
expression on their faces, their curiosity was aroused to a high pitch.

But though they plied them with questions, they were unable to extract
any more satisfactory explanation from them than that the matter had
been settled.

Loud were the protests at this terse announcement and the various
friends of the boys who had gone across the river had drawn them aside
and were striving their utmost to learn the real facts, when there was a
loud shout from up the river.

Turning, the members of the Rivertown High beheld the red and white
banners which were the colors of the high school at Springtown, and
almost simultaneously with the recognition of the identity of the
approaching crowd, they heard the artillery like rattle of the school

“What’s the matter with Springtown? What’s up now?” exclaimed several of
the boys.

“Give them the Rivertown cheer. All together now, everybody! Act as
though you were alive,” shouted Dawson, and swinging his arms in lieu of
a baton he led the cheer, whose volume rolled up the river, breaking
with defiance in the ears of the down-coming horde of skaters.

“The quickest way to find out what’s doing is to go up to meet them,”
announced Jerry.

And without more ado, he and a few of the other boys started off up the

Massed together as though they were defenders of a town repelling a
hostile attack, the other boys and girls assumed a compact mass,
watching the members of their own school as they sped toward the phalanx
of the neighboring town.

No sooner had they noted the movement of the leaders among the members
of Rivertown High, than the Springtownians checked their advance, and
after a few moment’s hesitation, they sent part of their number to meet
the delegation from Rivertown.

The parley between the two groups was short; then the Rivertown members
turned on their skates and started back to their schoolmates at top

“Springtown’s come down for a race,” one of the boys announced. “Shall
we give it to them?”

For years the schools in the neighboring towns were rivals in all
branches of athletics, and though the percentage of victories had been
with the scholars at the head of the river, there never was a time when
they could propose any game that the boys and girls of Rivertown were
not eager to take up the challenge.

Accordingly when the member of the high school on the bluff asked if his
mates wished to accept the challenge of the Springtownians there was a
mighty shout of “Yes.”

“But who’ll represent us?” exclaimed three or four of the seniors.

“Craven isn’t in the bunch, Longback has a grouch, and Snooks is missing
too,” exclaimed Misery. “Why not call the boys’ race off, and let
Annabel represent Rivertown?”

“Now don’t get funny,” admonished Dawson. “There are plenty of us here
who can uphold old Rivertown.”

“Who?” demanded several voices.

“Jerry and Paul—and Watson,” added another voice.

“How about it. You fellows want to make a try?”

“Who are we going up against?”

“The very best men in Springtown.”

“Do they race fair?” asked Harry.


“Can’t you get anyone else to go against them in my place?”

“It doesn’t seem so. You heard what Misery said.”

This parley was interrupted by the arrival of the advance guard of the
scholars who had come down to challenge their rivals at Rivertown.

“Are you going to let us win by default?” asked one of the boys from

“Not so you’d notice it. When it comes to count the winners, Springtown
won’t have a look in!” returned Dawson.

His words brought a cheer of encouragement from his schoolmates.

“Then let’s get busy and start the races right away,” announced the
spokesman for the Springtownians.

“All right. Bring the men out. We have only three. How long is the race
going to be?”

In response to this question various were the exclamations of opinion;
some clamored for two miles, others asserting that one was enough. When
they could come to no definite conclusion, several of the leaders from
each of the schools got together to try to settle the distance.

Their attempt, however, was as unsuccessful as had been those of the
scholars en masse; and finally Socker Gales exclaimed:

“Let’s toss a coin!”

The suggestion met with instant approval from both of the opposing

Quickly Dawson drew a coin from his pocket, balancing it on his thumb
and forefinger.

“I’ll toss. Springtown, you call!” he exclaimed.

High in the air he spun the coin, and as it whirled over and over, the
leader of the Springtownians, shouted: “Tails!”

With a sharp click the bit of money struck the ice, and then as though
driven by perverseness, it rolled some twenty feet, finally striking a
depression, into which it fell.

The instant the coin had struck the ice and started on it’s runaway
career, the boys who had been watching the tossing, set after it; but
fleet as they were, it managed to elude them and had settled in the ice
crevice before they had overtaken it.

“Which is it?” called the others, as two of the Rivertown boys reached
the spot.

“Heads,” they replied.

“That means you lose, Springtown!” chorused the rest of the Rivertown

But the challengers from up the river refused to accept the fall of the
coin as an omen.

“Which distance are you going to take?” demanded the leader of the

“Wait until I talk with the boys who are going to race,” announced

“We’ll make it two miles!” he finally exclaimed, after a brief

This announcement met with varied exclamations from the Rivertown

“Paul and Jerry never can stand that distance in the world,” shouted
several of their mates.

“Never mind, that’s Watson’s pet race, and all we want to do is win it,”
declared Misery. “This isn’t a meet where we have to have points to

But despite his confident announcement, there were many of the scholars
who scoffed at the thought that the boy who had so lately come to
Rivertown would be able to defeat the man who had twice won the race for

Realizing what was in their minds, several of the seniors skated about
among the Rivertown students.

“Don’t sulk!” they exclaimed. “Show some life! We chose the two miles,
and it’s up to you people to give some support to the boys who are going
to race! Don’t act as though you thought we were beaten already. Come on
now, rip out a cheer!”

Under the lash of the words, the boys and girls of Rivertown let out
cheer after cheer, winding up the various school cries with the names of
the boys who were to represent it’s honor.

Valiantly, Springtown came back, but not enough scholars had come down
the river to produce a volume as great as that of the home town, and
they finally abandoned their efforts to out-cheer their rivals.

The preliminaries having been arranged while the battle of voices was
being fought out, the student leaders had drawn a line on the ice from
one of the old landmarks which had been used on the river for the races
between the two schools for generations, while three or four others
started up the ice to stand the stakes at the finish line, which was
also indicated by long established posts.

As soon as the latter had taken their position, the contestants were
lined up.

Having lost the choice of distance, according to the traditions of the
races between the two schools, the task of starting the race fell to
Springtown, and Dick Wenzel, the captain of the baseball team, was
proclaimed the man to give the word.

Separating into groups which lined up, each about their representatives,
the scholars again gave vent to cheers, and when they finally subsided,
Wenzel warned the racers to be ready, then sent them away.

During the time that they were waiting, Paul and Jerry had posted Harry
as well as they could on the tricks of their opponents; and the three
boys had come to the conclusion that inasmuch as the race was to be for
two miles, it would be best to let the visitors set the pace.

The boys from the head of the river, however, quickly fell to the game
and slackened their speed.

“Wake up! Put some ginger into it. This isn’t a walking match!” shouted
the boys and girls who were following the contestants, irrespective of
the schools to which they belonged.

During the first few hundred yards, Harry had sized up his opponents
closely, noting from the short strokes they took, that while they could
maintain a high rate of speed for a short distance, they were more than
likely to exhaust themselves before they could go the two miles; and
when he heard the taunts of his schoolmates, he decided to take a chance
of being outskated by the rivals of Rivertown.

All six of the boys were skating along leisurely, when of a sudden Harry
put on a burst of speed, shooting to the front; and before the others
had realized what had happened he had opened a space of fifty feet
between him and his competitors.

“After him! After him! Don’t let him get too much of a lead on you,”
warned the Springtown students, dismayed to think anyone could make such
a gain on their representatives.

The glee of the Rivertown scholars was in proportion to the anxiety of
their rivals.

But though the representatives of Springtown responded to the demands of
their mates, Harry had a flying lead and, exert themselves as they
would, the boys from up the river could not gain on him.

His arms and feet swinging in perfect rhythm, Harry sped over the smooth
ice, the shouts of his schoolmates ringing in his ears.

“You’ve got a good lead, slow up!” shouted those of his mates who were
nearest to him, while others cautioned him to take it easy, in the fear
that he could not last the full distance. But the boy knew himself
better than they, and kept on at his top speed, unmindful of their

Hard behind him came a Springtown skater, but could not cut down his
lead appreciably.

Barely able to hold their own with the others, Paul and Jerry struggled
along, and as they saw that their chum had so great an advantage they
devoted their energies to coaching him.

“You’ve got them all puffing, and there’s only a quarter more to go!
There isn’t one of them who can spurt! Just take care of yourself and
don’t fall!” they shouted from time to time.

As the cries reached his ears, Harry raised his head, looked for the
finish line, and to his delight saw it even nearer than he supposed.

The sight made him feel so happy that he determined to give a still
greater exhibition of his speed; and striking out as though he were
perfectly fresh, instead of having skated more than a mile and
three-quarters, he raced over the ice, opening farther and farther the
distance that separated him from his Springtown rivals.

His spurt had been greeted with gasps of surprise from his schoolmates,
and many were the shouts hurled at him to be careful lest he exhaust
himself and get beaten out at the finish. When they saw he was skating
strong and steadily, however, the Rivertown boys and girls gave vent to
the wildest glee, and howled and cheered, breaking their schools yells
with rhythmic chants of:

“Watson! Watson! Watson!”

[Illustration: “WATSON! WATSON! WATSON!”]


As Harry dashed across the line, victor, pandemonium broke loose among
the scholars; and when they overtook him he was given an ovation that
entirely drove from his mind the unpleasant incidents of the morning and
early afternoon.

Foremost in congratulations was Viola, and after his friends had thanked
him for upholding the honor of Rivertown, and wresting the victory of
the annual race from their old time Springtown rivals, Harry and Viola
started down the river together.

They had covered about half the distance, when Elmer and Pud put in
their appearance. Disagreeable, indeed, were the comments which the rich
boy made when he saw the one member of the Rivertown High School he most
detested skating with the girl he liked the best.

In vain Viola pretended not to hear the remarks passed by the bully and
his companion, but they brought a flush of anger to her cheeks, and
noting it, Harry let go her hands.

“If you’re tired, Miss Darrow, suppose we wait till the others come up.
Then you can skate away with your friends,” suggested Harry.

A moment the girl looked at him: “I’m not in the least tired, Mr.
Watson!” she exclaimed; “and I don’t mind what those two boys are
saying, if you don’t.”

“But I do,” returned Harry, “on your account. For that reason I think
it’s best that you join your friends.”

“But you’re _my_ friend, aren’t you?”

“I hope so, that is, I should like to be.”

“Well, I certainly consider you so,” returned the girl, and again taking
hold of hands, they skated away, laughing and chatting merrily; and
continued to skate together till it was time for them to go to their
homes to supper.

Light of heart to think he had been cleared of the charges of
depredations in the physical laboratory, and successful in defeating the
skaters from Springtown, Harry was in a happy frame of mind as he
mounted the steps of his aunt’s house, and went in to supper. But one
sight of his aunt’s face drove all his joy away.

“What is it, Aunt Mary? Have you heard about the trouble at the school?
Don’t worry, because there’s nothing in it.”

The thought that her nephew had been concerned in some difficulty of
which she was ignorant struck still further grievance to the woman.

“No, I haven’t heard about it. What is it, tell me?”

“Oh, it doesn’t amount to much. Merely that some apparatus was broken in
the physical laboratory and they thought that I did it.”

So distressed was the woman that, unmindful of how the words would
sound, and the impression they would convey, she asked in a tone that
was harsher than she would have used if she had been entirely herself.

“You didn’t do it, did you?”

In surprise, Harry looked at her for several moments.

“No, indeed,” he finally replied.

“Thank goodness. We have trouble enough without that.”

Never before had the boy seen his aunt so upset, and her asperity was
all the more striking because of her usual kindly humor.

“What’s the trouble? Tell me, Aunt Mary, please?” he finally asked.

“It’s bad news, Harry.”

Instantly the boy became as solemn and serious as his aunt. His face
grew white and the lines about his mouth grew deep.

“You mean you’ve had bad news from father?”


“Poor dad! I guess I’d better give up school and go back to
Lawrenceburgh,” announced the boy. “If Elmer and Pud ever hear about it,
they’ll make my life unbearable; and besides, it isn’t right for me to
be such a drain on father.”

“You won’t be a drain on him. You mustn’t look at it that way!”
exclaimed his aunt. “You know you are just as dear to me as though you
were my own son, and I want you to stay with me _now_.”

“But somebody ought to go down to Lawrenceburgh. It can’t be true.
There’s something wrong somewhere.”

“Somebody _is_ going down to Lawrenceburgh!” announced a shrill voice.

And looking up, Mrs. Watson and her nephew beheld the kindly face of old
Jed Brown, whose usual happy smile had given way to an expression of

“What do you mean?” asked Mrs. Watson.

“That I’m going down to Lawrenceburgh for a few days. I’ve been wanting
to go for a long time. Just been looking for an excuse and now I’ve got
it. I’ve known Amos since he was a kid in knickerbockers, and I know
there isn’t a mean or crooked hair in his head. It’s all a mistake—and
and I’m going to set it right.”

“Oh, Mr. Brown! If you only could!” exclaimed the widow, as the old
veteran ceased speaking.

“And I can. Don’t worry,” he returned. “It may take some time, but I
shall find out who’s at the bottom of it, and even if Jed Brown is a
cripple and poor, he is honest, and he can fight just as in the days
when he followed the flag through the campaign in the Wilderness.”

So deeply moved were the aunt and nephew, they dared not speak in the
fear that they would be unable to control their voices, and they
expressed their appreciation of the old veteran’s words by shaking his
hand cordially.

Sad, indeed, was the little household during the rest of the day, and as
soon as Harry could find an excuse he went to his room and to bed,
where, after forming various plans for the undoing of his father’s
enemies, he finally dropped asleep.

“Now you must try to forget that things are not as they always were,”
whispered his aunt in the boy’s ear as he started for school the next
morning. “Just appear your usual self, and do not let any of your
friends know that you are not happy.”

“It isn’t my friends I’m afraid of; it’s the fellows who don’t like me,”
returned Harry.

“All the more reason why you should keep a stiff upper lip,” declared
Mrs. Watson. And, promising to do his best, the boy set out for the
bluff on which the Rivertown High School was, situated.

But it seemed as though Fate had conspired against Harry!

As he entered the main hallway, Elmer stepped up, having evidently been
on the lookout for him.

“See here, Watson, I saw you skating with Viola Darrow yesterday
afternoon!” he exclaimed.

“Well, what of it?”

“Just this much—don’t do it again!”

“Why not, pray?”

“Because I tell you not to, that’s all!”

“Well, you’ve got to give me some better reason than that, Elmer
Craven,” flashed the sorely troubled boy. “If Miss Darrow is willing
that I should skate with her, I don’t see that it is your business or
anyone else’s, as far as that is concerned.”

“You’ll find it is, though. I tell you, you’ve got to stop going with
her! You remember the laboratory business? Well, it will be just as easy
to put a stop to your going with Viola as it was to frame that up on
you. So just take my advice and leave her alone!”

So vicious did the rich boy’s face become as he uttered his threat that
Harry could scarcely believe he was talking with a fellow member of
Rivertown High. For the moment, he thought of resenting the boy’s words
with his fists; but the sound of footsteps and the voice of the
principal, from behind, caused him to abandon the idea.

“Well, are you going to take my advice?” demanded his enemy, sullenly.

“I’m going to do just as I please, Elmer Craven. Neither you nor anyone
else can stop me!” retorted Harry. And turning on his heel, he stalked
away to his classroom.

But though he had maintained a defiant manner, at heart he was sick.
Coming as it did on top of the news from his father, the thought that he
would now be obliged to guard himself against underhand attacks from his
rival, with whom he had held many angry words, made him deeply anxious,
and again the idea which had come to him on the previous night when his
aunt had made her announcement,—that he should leave school,—recurred to

A happy nod and smile from Viola, who chanced to be passing through the
hall on her way to one of her recitations, however, decided the day for

“I’ll not let Elmer Craven make me give up my friendship for Viola!” he
told himself. And with this resolve, he proceeded to his various duties.

Having no recitations after the noon recess, Paul suggested that Jerry,
Harry and he should take a sail on his new iceboat _Lightning_, which
had just been delivered to him.

Glad of any diversion that would take his mind from his troubles, Harry
readily accepted and the boys went to their several homes for dinner.

Angry that he had failed to scare his rival, Elmer had brooded all the
morning over some means of making good his threat, and at last, unable
to think of any scheme that would be both adequate and feasible, he
dropped into the village butcher shop to consult his friend, Pud.

To his amazement, he found the bully laughing and in high spirits, in
striking contrast to the surly gloom he had maintained since the
eventful day in Lumberport.

“What’s making you feel so gay?” demanded Elmer.

“The fact that I’ve got Harry Watson now just where I want him!”

His eyes big with incredulity, the richest boy in Rivertown stared at
the bully.

“What on earth do you mean?” he finally asked, when he found that Pud
made no move to explain his statement.

“Just this!” returned the bully. And he tapped a newspaper which was
spread out over one of the chopping blocks.

“But I don’t understand?” persisted Elmer.

“Then listen to this!” and Pud read the following:

  “‘Amos Watson’s appeal was denied by the court and he will now be
  compelled to serve five years in prison to which he was sentenced for

“Well?” exclaimed Elmer, still mystified.

“What’s the matter with you? Have you suddenly lost your senses?”
stormed the bully.

“But I don’t see what that has to do with that young cur.”

“You don’t, eh? Well, it has just this to do with it—Amos Watson is
Harry’s father!”

For several minutes the rich boy stood silent, as though endeavoring to
grasp the magnitude of the news which had come to him—and then, with a
sudden cry of delight, he struck Pud a resounding whack on the back.

“That’s great—provided it’s true!” he exclaimed.

“True? Of course it’s true. Isn’t it in the paper?”

“Yes, but where did you get the paper?” demanded Elmer, picking it up
and looking at the name and date line.

“Uncle Briscoe always sends it up from Lawrenceburgh to my mother. She
used to live down there, you know.”

“No, I didn’t, but the paper seems straight enough, so I suppose it’s
all right.”

“You bet it’s all right. And now come on, we’ll spread the news—and if
Harry Watson doesn’t wish before night he’d never been born, I’ll miss
my guess!”

And together the two boys who hated Harry so bitterly set out to scatter
the news of his father’s misfortune broadcast.


Good care did the two boys who were bent on the downfall of our hero
take to tell the story of Harry’s father being a forger only to those
who were not particularly friendly to the lad—with the result that it
found ready credence, and was soon being repeated with all manner of

“I don’t believe a word of it!” declared Viola, when the report reached
her. “Harry Watson is a splendid chap. I——”

“But this isn’t Harry, it’s his father whose appeal from a prison
sentence has been refused,” laughed a girl who had told the malicious

“It makes no difference, I don’t believe Harry’s father is a man who
would stoop to any such act!” retorted Viola, hotly. And, putting her
arm through Nettie’s, the richest girl in Rivertown High went off with
her chum—for the story had hurt her more than she cared to have her
schoolmates see.

Though in high spirits at the amazement their announcement caused among
their schoolmates, Elmer and Pud were disappointed that the boy whose
father they were traducing did not put in an appearance.

“Where do you suppose he is?” asked Socker, after they had discovered
Harry’s absence.

“Probably afraid to show his head,” commented Misery. “I don’t think I’d
care to exhibit myself to my school-fellows under such conditions.”

“But Jerry and Paul aren’t here, either,” asserted another boy.

“The three of them are off together somewhere, I suppose,” suggested

“Or else they’re waiting until school begins, to sneak in,” commented

But in ignorance of all the cruel things that were being said about him,
Harry was at the river with his chums, busily helping Paul rig up his

Being new, there was no end of fussing and readjusting to be done before
the _Lightning_ was ready for her initial spin; and the three lads were
in the act of making a final test of her ropes, when a crowd of the boys
and girls rushed down to the river for their daily frolic on the ice
after school—and among them were Elmer and Pud.

“Who’s iceboat is that?” demanded the bully, as he caught sight of the
rangy looking craft, some half mile up the river.

“Must belong to some one from Lumberport or Cardell,” returned Elmer.
“It’s a new one, that’s easy to see. Let’s skate out and look her over.
If she’s any good, I’ll rig up the _Glider_ and we’ll have some races.”

Readily the other boys agreed to the suggestion, and as soon as they had
adjusted their skates, they dashed out over the smooth, clear ice.

Not far had they gone, however, before Pud let out a whoop of glee.

“That’s Paul Martin; and he’s got Jerry and Watson with him!” he
shouted. “Come on, we’ll have some fun with the forger’s son!”

The evident viciousness of the bully did not meet with the approval of
some of the fellows, however, and they were not slow to let Snooks know
it. But the thought that he had a lever with which to make his enemy
unhappy made him impervious to any comments of his schoolmates.

Ere the boys had covered more than half the distance which separated
them from the iceboat they saw that unless something were done instantly
to delay the start, they would arrive too late, for Paul and his
companions were stretching themselves along the runners, preparatory to
getting under way.

“Hey there! Wait a minute!” yelled Elmer, putting his hands to his lips
that he might make a funnel that would carry the sound farther.

Surprised at the hail, the three boys rolled from the iceboat, looking
expectantly at the fellows hastening toward them.

“What’s wanted?” shouted Paul, as the others came within easy speaking

“I just wanted to tell you that the fellow you’re chumming with and
going to take on your boat is the son of a prison-bird!” exclaimed
Elmer. “I thought you ought to know it.”

As he heard the brutal statement, Harry’s face grew deathly pale, and he
clutched one of the guide ropes with his hand as though to keep himself
from falling, while Paul and Jerry looked from his accuser to him,

“Wha—what do you mean?” finally stammered Paul. “Who’s the son of a

“Harry Watson!” chorused Elmer and Pud.

“That’s not true!” cried Harry, in a quavering voice.

“It is! My mother received a paper from Lawrenceburgh this morning, and
it says that Amos Watson is going to prison for five years for forgery!”
announced the bully, gloatingly.

“And Amos Watson is your father, isn’t he?” demanded Elmer of Harry.

“Yes. But there has been some dirty work somewhere. My father is as
innocent of the charge as you are, Elmer Craven!”

“Evidently the judge didn’t think so—or he wouldn’t have refused his
appeal,” sneered the rich tormentor. “Before you get chummy with any
more fellows, I advise you to make sure who they are, Paul. And you
remember it was you who introduced this son of a prison-bird to Viola.”

At the mention of the girl’s name, Harry seemed suddenly to galvanize
into action.

“You leave Miss Darrow’s name out of this, Elmer Craven!” he cried,

“Oh, is that so? Well, I reckon it will take more than a forger’s son to
tell me what I shall do and what I shall not. Paul, you’ve either got to
apologize to Viola for introducing this chap to her—or——”

“Or what?” demanded Harry, fairly leaping on his skates toward the boy
who had been baiting him until he had goaded him beyond endurance.

Something there was in the tormented boy’s eyes that alarmed his rich
enemy, and the fellow gave ground, working himself toward the spot where
Pud Snooks was standing, as though seeking the protection of the bully.

Harry, however, was too quick for him and, with a sudden turn cut off
Elmer’s attempt, forcing the boy to face him.

“Or what?” he demanded a second time.

Finding escape impossible, the rich fellow glared into the white, tense
face before him.

“Or he’ll have to settle with me!” Elmer finished, but his voice was so
low that it carried none of its former bravado.

“You’re wrong there, Craven. He’ll be obliged to settle with me if he
does apologize. I may not be as rich as you, nor my father as yours, but
we’re just as honest!”

“That doesn’t seem to be what the judge thought!” repeated Elmer. “I——”

But the limit of insult that Harry could endure had been reached.

After the repetition of the remark about the opinion of the jurist who
had denied Mr. Watson’s appeal, the boy had drawn back his right arm—and
the next moment, his tormentor lay stretched on the ice!

“Coward! Why don’t you take a fellow of your size!” cried Pud, skating
toward Harry.

“Why don’t you?” demanded Paul and Jerry, throwing themselves between
the hulking bully who overtopped their chum by three or four inches.

“What are you doing in this? Get out of my way!” snarled Snooks.

But the two boys refused to budge and, realizing that he would not be a
match for the pair of them, the bully skated away, growling to himself.

In the meantime, Elmer had gotten to his feet.

“I’ll fix you for this, you see if I don’t!” he snarled with a look of
fierce hatred at the boy who had knocked him down.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you, Elmer. You only got what you deserved!”
returned Paul. “Come on, Harry, if we’re going to have our sail on the
_Lightning_, we’ve got to hurry.”

“Much obliged—but I don’t think I’ll go this afternoon,” exclaimed our
hero; and despite the protests of his chums, he skated to the shore and
then for home.


On his way to his aunt’s house, Harry met Jed Brown, hobbling along, a
valise in his hand.

One look at the boy’s white face told the veteran that some new trouble
had come to him, and he solicitously inquired its cause.

Harry, however, was not disposed to share his grief with anyone.

“Going away?” he asked, warding off the question.

“Yes, down to my sister’s at Lawrenceburgh. You know I told you and Mrs.
Watson the other night that I was going down—and this afternoon we were
talking it over and decided that if I was to do any good, I ought to
start without delay.”

For a moment Harry was silent as he strove to master himself
sufficiently to speak about his father’s dilemma.

“I—I hope you’ll be able to find out something, Jed,” he said, but his
voice quavered pitifully and as he heard it, a light of understanding
broke over the aged cripple.

“Have the boys found out about the business?” he asked.



“Pud Snooks saw the announcement of the court in a paper that is sent to
his mother from Lawrenceburgh.”

At the mention of the source of the information, the veteran’s brow

“That Snooks had better watch out!” he snapped. “I—” then he evidently
thought better of his intention to say anything further concerning the
bully; and taking Harry’s hand, he exclaimed: “Just keep good courage in
your heart, boy. Things will come out all right. Go about your study and
play exactly as though nothing had happened. I’ll let you hear from me
in a few days. And now I must go or I shall miss my train.”

And giving the boy’s hand another hearty shake, the crippled veteran
started again on his way to the railroad station.

Not more than a few steps had he taken, however, then he felt a hand on
his valise, and turning quickly, in the fear that it might be some of
the boys who delighted to play tricks on him, he had a snarl on his
lips, when he saw that it was Harry.

“I’ll go down to the station with you, Mr. Brown,” he announced. “Just
let me take your valise.”

Glad of the assistance, for he had found his bag heavier than he
thought, the veteran held the conversation to cheerful topics, and not
again was the unfortunate matter, so close to the hearts of both,
mentioned. And waiting until the train departed, Harry took his way

But he was not as bereft of friends as he had thought.

No sooner had he taken his departure from the river than the boys who
had gathered about the iceboat took up the discussion of the affair.

“Well, even if Mr. Watson does go to jail, that doesn’t mean we should
throw Harry down!” announced Paul, resolutely.

Quickly several of the other boys reiterated this opinion, but more of
them sided with Elmer and Pud.

“You can associate with him if you want to—but I don’t think your father
will let you,” sneered the rich lad.

“I know mine won’t,” declared the bully. But instead of his words making
the impression he had intended, they drew a burst of laughter from Paul
and Jerry.

“What do you find so funny about that?” demanded Pud, angrily.

“That your father should forbid your associating with anyone,” returned

“Say, do you think I ain’t as good as the Martins or the Posts or any
people in Rivertown?”

“I’m not saying anything about that. It merely struck me that a fellow
who was only saved from serious trouble by the kindheartedness of an old
man whom he had tormented in every way possible ought not to make too
many comments about other people,” exclaimed Paul, coolly, but uttering
each word with deliberation.

Instantly the boys realized that Paul had referred to the incident of
the fire which burned Jed Brown’s home, and they awaited the effect upon
the bully with eagerness. But it was not what they expected.

For a moment, Pud looked into the eyes of the boy who had taken up the
cudgels for his absent chum; then lowered his own, growled something
that none of his auditors could understand, and skated away.

“Now you go, too, Craven,” advised Jerry. “If I were you, I’d hire Pud
to go round with me—or else stop talking about Harry Watson.”

“What do you mean?” demanded the rich student.

“Didn’t I make myself plain enough? I said for you to stop talking about
Harry Watson.”

“Huh, I’d like to see anyone stop me.”

“Well, you will, if you don’t watch out.”

At the words, Craven skated away from Jerry, evidently mindful of the
blow he had received from Harry; and with one accord, the excited crowd
of boys broke into small groups whose sole topic of conversation was the
news from Lawrenceburgh.

Among the townsfolk as well as the scholars, the story spread, and in
due time Mr. Larmore and all the teachers heard of it.

“I don’t belief it!” announced Prof. Schmidt, emphatically, when it was
told him at supper. And when he had finished the meal, the kindly old
German put on his fur coat and cap and went round to call on Mrs.

The coming of the professor was distinctly embarrassing to both the good
woman and her nephew. But he soon put them at their ease by announcing
that he hoped Harry would not let the matter keep him from school.

“That’s just what we were talking about when you came, Professor,”
declared Mrs. Watson.

A ring at the door-bell interrupted her and when Harry answered it and
admitted the principal of the Rivertown High School, she became even
more confused.

Mr. Larmore, however, quickly made it evident that he had come for the
same purpose as had the genial old German; and after much talking, Mrs.
Watson finally agreed that her nephew should continue his studies.

But it was a quiet and sober Harry who entered his classroom the next

His friends strove to convey their sympathy and belief in him by cordial
nods. But their kindness was more than offset by the sneers and grunts
with which his enemies greeted him. So keenly did the boy feel them that
he made his laboratory work an excuse for not joining his companions
during the recesses.

What hurt him most, however, was Viola’s attitude. Though she had smiled
at him when he had entered the classroom, when he had tried to speak to
her she had skilfully prevented it by moving away when she saw him
approaching. And deeply did her action cut Harry, so that he vowed to
himself he would not give her another opportunity to cause him pain.

For some time things drifted along, and Harry continued to be the storm
center of the school world. Some of his fellows shunned him, and others
tried to establish themselves on even a more friendly footing with him
than at first. But Harry’s attitude was neutral, his only decided stand
being to refuse to appear in the Pi Eta society room, though his friends
endeavored in every way to persuade him.

During that time old Jed Brown did not return to Rivertown, nor did our
hero hear from the old veteran. Harry’s aunt heard from Mr. Watson, but
the news was not encouraging.

“They still consider your father guilty,” said the aunt to the youth.
“But we know he is innocent, and some day the world will know it, too.”

“Perhaps,” said Harry, sadly. “But, oh, Aunt Mary, to have him in
prison! It is awful! I can’t bear to think of it!”


“Good morning, Mrs. Watson; is Harry at home?”

Saturday had come, with clear skies, and a cold, crisp air that gave
promise of a fine day’s sport on the ice for Rivertown’s young people.
It was Paul Martin who had knocked at the door of the widow’s house, and
greeted her with his cheery smile when she admitted him.

“Good morning, Paul!” replied the good woman, the look of distress on
her face giving way for a moment to one of pleasure at seeing this loyal
friend of her nephew. “Yes, he is in his den, busy with something. The
poor boy seldom goes out these days; and I’m afraid the constant
grieving will tell on his health.”

“That is just why I’ve come around, ma’am, to try and influence Harry to
take a spin with me on my iceboat,” Paul continued, eagerly. “You see,
we were just going to have a run before, when Pud Snooks interrupted us
with that unpleasant bit of news; and Harry backed out. We lost all
interest in the sport soon afterward, and I’ve really had little heart
for it since.”

“It was good of you to think of your friend in this way, Paul,” the
widow said, laying a hand on the lad’s shoulder, and looking
affectionately into his manly face. “And depend on it, Harry is worthy
of all your regard. I know something about boys, even though I was never
blessed with one myself; and if ever there lived a clean, brave and
loyal fellow, Harry is one. And Paul, he must go off with you to get
some fresh air. This staying in, and thinking of all his troubles, is
not the best thing for even his strong nature.”

“Then please back me up,” said Paul, “in case he tries to beg off. I’m
going to insist; and I think I know how to reach Harry’s weak spot. I’ll
give him to understand that if he refuses, it’s going to spoil all my
Saturday morning sport. Harry will make sacrifices for a chum that he
would never think of doing for himself. And now I’ll push in on him, if
you don’t mind.”

As he opened the door of Harry’s little den, where the boy did his
studying, and kept such traps as boys usually accumulate, he found the
object of his solicitude bending over a table, and deep in some book.

“Hello! here, old book-worm, this is no morning to bury yourself here
indoors like a hermit!” cried Paul, as he burst in on his chum like a
breath of the crisp winter air.

Harry looked up, and his face was immediately wreathed in a smile. The
very presence of such a fine, healthy fellow like Paul was enough in
itself to chase away the blues. He sprang to his feet, and grasped the
hand that was thrust out toward him, wringing it with boyish ardor. For
deep down in his heart he knew full well that Paul was almost as much
concerned over the trouble that had of late befallen him, as he could be

“Glad to see you, Paul!” he exclaimed. “Yes, it does look like a great
day for a Saturday; and I guess lots of fellows will be glad. The ice
must be fine after that little thaw, and hard freeze. I haven’t been
down to the river you know, of late. I just seem to feel that I ought to
keep away from my friends, and save them from embarrassment.”

If there was a trace of bitterness in Harry’s voice, Paul did not notice
it. He did catch the tremor though, that told of a sore heart; and
impulsively he again squeezed the hand of his chum.

“That’s just what brought me here right now,” he observed, seriously.
“You must get out more, Harry. You know yourself that all this brooding
over your affairs isn’t going to do you a bit of good. Things are going
to come out all right yet; but it may take some time. Meanwhile it’s
foolish of you to shun your best friends, and keep indoors. I’ve come to
carry you off to the river with me, d’ye hear?”

Harry sighed, and cast a look of sincere affection on this staunch
friend. They had been utter strangers only a few months back; and yet so
strong had the ties become that bound them together, that he fancied he
cared as much for Paul as he could have done for a brother.

“Thank you, Paul,” he said, slowly. “I’d like to go first-rate; but I’ve
made up my mind to keep clear of all the high school young people until
this mystery is solved, and I can look them in the face without a blush.
Understand, I have the utmost faith in my father; and I _know_ he must
be innocent of the charge brought against him; but so far old Jed has
not sent any cheering word; and I must wait.”

“But I say again, that’s no reason for you to keep on hurting your
health,” Paul insisted. “Even your Aunt Mary is getting anxious about
you; and Harry, she’s been so good to you, don’t you think it is a
little cruel to add to her burden in any way?”

Harry sighed again, and looked undecided.

“Yes, Aunt Mary is as good as gold,” he observed. “And I certainly
wouldn’t want to cause her any unnecessary pain; but Paul, somehow I
haven’t the heart to do the things I used to. I feel a terrible weight
in here,”—putting his hand on his chest as he spoke—“that hurts. In my
present condition I’d only be a drawback to any crowd of merry boys and
girls; and so I stay away.”

Perhaps Paul could understand more than Harry gave him credit for.
Perhaps he guessed that it was partly the coolness of one particular
girl that helped give his chum this heavy feeling in the region of his
heart. For he knew how much Harry had come to care for Viola; and it was
difficult for him to understand just why she should take up again with
Elmer Craven, whom she had once cut dead.

“All right,” he said cheerily; “for once, then, you’ve just got to put
that idea out of your head, and come along with me, Harry. Your aunt
says you must, and insists that I carry you off to get a few hours of
bracing air. And yet, if you’d rather stay here in your den to being in
my company, why——”

“Oh! you know better than that, Paul!” cried the other lad eagerly, as
he looked into the face of his friend. “I’ve enjoyed many happy hours in
your company; and if it wasn’t for this unfortunate business——”

“That’s enough, Harry,” and Paul in turn broke in on what the forlorn
boy was trying to say in a trembling voice; “you’ve just got to come
along now, or else all my plans for the morning will be broken up. I’d
arranged for the two of us, no others, mind, to take my new iceboat,
_Lightning_, and have a great spin far up the river. The ice couldn’t be
beat; and I’m determined that it’s just got to be _you_ with me, or no
one. That’s flat. Now, what do you say?”

Harry smiled with pleasure. It was almost worth suffering all that he
had endured in these last few unhappy days, just to learn what a true
friend meant.

“Well, you put it up to me in a way that knocks out all my argument,” he

“Then you’ll come with me?” demanded Paul, eagerly.

“Sure I will, and mighty glad of the chance,” Harry replied, as he
started to look for his cap, and his warm sweater to go under his coat;
for he knew that a long ride on an iceboat, going a mile a minute more
than likely, meant chilled bodies, unless care was taken to supply warm

Once he had decided on his course, Harry seemed somewhat like his old
self. Mrs. Watson, as they passed through the outer room, smiled, and
nodded to Paul.

“I’m glad to see you managed to coax him to go, Paul,” she remarked; and
both lads waved her good-bye as they left the door, walking briskly down
the street of Rivertown.

Paul’s father had a boat-house on the bank of the river just outside the
town limits, where in Summer the boys often gathered in order to enjoy
the sports of the season. There was a new shed attached to this, in
which Paul kept the iceboat he had had built recently, but which had as
yet hardly been tried out.

In a short time the two lads were busily engaged getting the frail craft
out of its quarters, and down on the ice. The mast had to be stepped
every time Paul wished to make use of the flier; since the shed was too
low to admit of its being stored as it stood. But this proved a job of
small moment.

“I guess you know a heap about these kind of boats, Harry?” remarked the
owner of the _Lightning_, as he watched the deft manner in which his new
chum handled the various ropes connected with the up-to-date craft built
for ice use.

At that Harry laughed, the first little burst of merriment that had
escaped his lips for days; and which made his friend feel that he had
done well to coax the grieving lad outdoors, where he could get the
invigorating influence of the ozone to be found in the crisp wintry air.

“Oh! yes, I suppose I might say I have, without seeming to boast,” he
answered, as he bent down to make sure that everything was adjusted, and
the wire stay that held the mast in place as taut as the turnbuckle
could make it. “We used to have a boat down at Lawrenceburgh, and
somehow they got to making me the skipper; last winter we won every race
we entered for. But Paul, that boat wasn’t in the same class as this new
one you’ve got, I tell you that.”

“Then you think the _Lightning_ is apt to go some?” inquired the owner,

“Do I?” echoed Harry, quickly. “Unless I’m away off in my judgment,
she’s bound to beat everything along the river. I never saw such fine
lines; and best of all, I don’t think the builder has sacrificed
anything in the way of staunchness to speed. Mark my word, Paul, she’s
going to turn out a crackerjack!”

“I’m mighty glad to hear that, Harry!” declared Paul, “for a good many
reasons. A fellow likes to have a clipper boat, you know, one that isn’t
going to take dust from any other chap’s racer. And then, it would just
give me heaps of fun if I could leave the old _Glider_ far back in the

“That’s Elmer’s iceboat, isn’t it?” asked Harry.

“Sure. He hasn’t had it out this winter, I understand, because for two
years now it’s just run away from everything there was; and Elmer said
he was tired of making circles around the rest of us. But three times
now he’s asked me when I expected to get my new boat running; and as
much as told me he was waiting to add it to the has-beens he’s beaten.”

“Well, don’t you believe he’s going to have an easy job walking away
from this dandy thing on runners,” Harry observed. “I’m ready to say
that you’ve got the very last word in iceboats here in the _Lightning_.
And before another hour has passed you’ll feel that you made no mistake
when you gave her that name. Now, if you’re ready, let’s make a start.”

Harry was anxious to be off. He had noticed that several boys and girls
were heading toward them, having skated up from below. And in his
present state of mind he would rather avoid meeting any of his school
companions if it could be arranged.

“How about the wind?” asked Paul, as they started to take their places
on the thin but strong planks of the iceboat, which had been padded with
folded blankets, so as to make it more comfortable for those who had to
stretch out at full length while managing the running craft.

“It seems to be everything we could want this morning,” Harry replied.
“In fact, I don’t think there ever was a day here on the Conoque River
better fitted for a try-out of a new iceboat than this same Saturday
morning. And I’m glad now that I came with you, Paul.”

“Bully for you, Harry! That’s all I wanted to hear. And now, let’s cut
loose before all those fellows get in our way.”

Longback, Socker Gales, and Misery Jones were among those coming full
tilt for the spot where they had discovered the new boat on the river’s

They gave vent to various whoops and cries when they saw that Paul and
Harry were starting off without waiting for their arrival.

“Hi! aint you goin’ to let us have a look-in at the new boat, before you
smash her with that Jonah aboard?”

“Listen, Paul! Just you keep right on up the river, and my word for it
you’ll get yours before you come back!”

“Wow! look at her go, would you? Say, fellers, she’s all to the mustard,
you c’n tell me what you please about the _Glider_. Paul knew what he
was doing when he gave the order for that dandy contraption. Gee! don’t
I wish I was on her right now!”

These last words just barely reached the ears of the two who lay
flattened out on the delicate flooring of the ice yacht. Harry heard his
chum chuckling, as if somehow the last remark had given him a good

The skaters started after them, but were speedily left far behind, and
presently gave the chase up as useless. And now the whole river lay
before the two iceboat chums, with not a single person to interfere with
their sport; since it was as a rule farming country above Rivertown, on
both sides of the watercourse.

Few rivers offered better fields for this sport than the Conoque. While
not of any great depth, it was as a rule quite wide; and in places
presented a magnificent spread of smooth, clear ice, over which the
sharp runners glided like magic, as the favoring breeze filled their
sail, and urged them on at tremendous speed.

Then again, once in a while they would come to a neck where the going
was quite different, since the ice was rougher, and they had to look out
for airholes. In the Summer season, when the water was lower, these
places were called the “rips”; being in reality small rapids, where the
water rushed with noisy volume, and the fishing was considered prime.

“Well, what d’ye think of that?” called out Paul, after they had been
booming along in this manner for a little while, passing a couple of the
narrow places, where considerable care had to be exercised to avoid

“Splendid! Never went like this before! You’ve got a wonder here, Paul,
and don’t you forget it,” answered Harry, whose face was now rosy with
the action of the keen wind and the cold air; while his eyes sparkled
much as they had been wont to do before this trouble came upon him, to
crush his young spirits so completely.

“That pleases me a whole lot, Harry,” laughed the owner of the craft.
“And say, I’ve been watching the way you handle that tiller. Elmer
Craven boasts of being the best iceboat sailor on the river; but I’m
ready to put you up against him any old day. Why, you manage things so
that she seems to be next door to human. No matter what sort of wind
strikes us, you’ve got a way of setting her with it, that just suits
every time. If this boat’s a wonder, Harry, you’re the fellow that can
get every ounce of speed out of her.”

“Here, that will do for you, Paul,” answered Harry; though naturally the
words of genuine praise made him feel happy, as he had been up against
so many hard knocks lately, at the hands of those who bore him so much
ill will. “I’d just like to try her against some other boat of the same
class. That’s the only way to get a pointer on her speed and cleverness,
you know.”

“Perhaps we may, and this very morning,” remarked Paul, mysteriously,
but with a grin accompanying the words.

“What makes you say that?” demanded his companion, who had to keep his
eyes on the alert pretty much all the time, since a flaw of wind might
swoop down on them at any second, and if he failed to be quick with the
rudder, in order to ease up on the sudden strain, an upset was likely to

“Didn’t you hear what Misery Jones shouted after us?” Paul went on,
answering one question, Yankee fashion, by asking another.

“Was it Misery who called out for you to listen; and then said something
about you ‘getting yours’ if you kept on up the river?” Harry continued.

“Sure, that was Misery. He’s never so happy as when acting as a prophet,
and predicting all sorts of trouble ahead for other people. That’s why
the boys call him Misery; he sees all kinds of accidents looming up,
even if they hardly ever come along. But Harry, I don’t think the fellow
had any accident in store for us that time, when he said I would get
mine up here to-day.”

“Then what did he have in mind?” asked Harry, his curiosity aroused.

“I’ve been thinking it over,” Paul went on, “and decided that Misery
must know Elmer is out this morning with his _Glider_; and somewhere
up-river way. What he meant was that if we happened to run across his
hawser, I would find my new iceboat as badly left in the lurch as my old
one was last year.”

“Perhaps,” laughed the one who handled the tiller so dexterously; “all
things are possible, you know, Paul; but I wouldn’t worry over that, if
I were you. Just let Elmer show up, and we’ll see what the _Lightning_
was built for.”

“There’s a bunch of fellows coming down the river,” said Paul, a minute
later. “They live some miles up at a village called Rushville. Several
of our high school scholars come down from there every day on the train,
you know. I was going to say that if we could shut off some of our
tremendous speed, and draw in closer to them, I might find out whether
Elmer really did go up-river.”

“All right,” responded Harry, readily; “that’s easy enough done.”

He manipulated the tiller, and watched the way the wind spilled out of
the big sail as he ran partly across the ice field, heading so as to
intercept the skaters. These boys, seeing that those on the fine new
iceboat wished to speak with them, only too gladly came to a standstill,
and watched the clever way in which Harry managed to bring his craft up
in the teeth of the wind close beside them.

“Hello! Paul, that your new boat?” cried one of the up-river fellows, as
he advanced to get a closer look at the now still _Lightning_. “Well, I
must say she’s got lines to go some, and then not half try. Give you my
word I never saw such a trim and dandy iceboat; and I wish I had a
chance to take a spin on her with you.”

“Perhaps you may, some of these fine days, Hank,” remarked Paul with a
grin; for he had always been friendly with the Rushville student at
school. “Just now we’re out on the warpath, looking for scalps, you see,
and want to be on the fly.”

The three boys looked at each other as though hardly catching the true
meaning of what Paul said. But a moment later Hank laughed aloud as the
significance of the words appealed to him.

“Ho! I get it all right now, Paul!” he exclaimed, nodding his head while
speaking. “You want to find something to whack your new boat up against,
eh? Well, what’s the matter with the _Glider_? Elmer didn’t do a thing
to you last winter, if I remember right; and the spirit of revenge must
be rankling in your heart. Is that it?”

“Perhaps a little that way,” answered Paul, frankly. “You know he’s got
a nasty way of rubbing it in every time he does anything; that stings
worse than the defeat itself does. I’ve never heard the last of that
race, and how nicely he trimmed me. And to tell the honest truth, that
was why I went to all the trouble and expense of having this new craft
built to order. I want to turn the tables on him in the worst way.”

“Couldn’t have a better day for it!” nodded Hank.

“Oh! the weather is all to the good,” declared Paul, impatiently; “but
see here, you fellows have come down several miles—have you seen
anything of another iceboat between here and Rushville?”

“Have we, fellows?” asked Hank, turning to his two companions and
winking. “Was that a real iceboat that went whipping past us just after
we started out; or might it have been just a shadow when a cloud passed
over the sun? Yes, I rather guess it did look like the sassy thing Elmer
used to cut circles with around all the other boats on the river last
two years.”

“Which way were they going did you say?” asked Paul, giving his chum a
significant look, as if to say: “What did I tell you; didn’t I remark
that this was going to be a red letter day with me, since it would wipe
out the sting of that old defeat at the hands of Elmer Craven, which
I’ve never heard the last of?”

“Oh! up-river like a streak of light,” replied Hank. “No use talking,
that _Glider_ can go to beat the Dutch; and Elmer knows how to sail her
too, the best ever; but I like the looks of this new craft, Paul, and
from the way Harry handles the tiller I opine now that you’re just bound
to give Elmer the time of his life when you challenge him to a race.”

“That’s what we intend to do, Hank,” returned Paul. “Much obliged for
telling us about him. We can keep going now till we scrape his
acquaintance. He’s been begging me for some time to get out and let him
rub some of the rust from his runners. To-day suits me all right. And
Hank, mark my words, the thirteenth of the month, you notice, is going
to be a mighty unlucky day for Elmer Craven, if I don’t miss my guess.
It’s skidoo for him, as sure as you’re born. So-long, boys!”

Harry threw the sail around and immediately the _Lightning_ shot away
with a sudden bound. They opened a big gap between themselves and the
three boys standing there on the ice; but Paul, looking back could see
Hank and his comrades waving their caps and sending out cheers that came
but faintly to the ears of those who were speeding so rapidly up the

As a rule the Conoque ran due north and south, though there were places
where abrupt turns were the exception. And as the breeze was almost due
west this allowed of almost unlimited possibilities in sailing, with a
craft so sensitive to the slightest breath of air as an iceboat on a
smooth, mirror-like surface.

It took them but a short time to reach and pass the village of
Rushville, situated on the left bank of the Conoque River. Of course
quite a number of persons were enjoying the skating at this point; and
the moment the _Lightning_ came into view around the bend half a mile
below, loud shouts attested to the interest taken in her appearance.

Again did Harry slow up, as Paul wished to ask questions of these boys.
The news received was to the effect that some time before Elmer and Pud
Snooks had passed up, and incidentally come near running over a little
child, as they purposely swung in as if to show just how close they
could come to anyone without hitting them. The Rushville boys were quite
indignant, and talking about it when the second iceboat hove in sight.

“On again, Harry,” sang out Paul, after they had learned all they wanted
to know. “We’ll run across them somewhere above; and perhaps Elmer
Craven will be in for the surprise of his life. Somehow I just feel that
this is my day; and I want to make the most of it. Let her go, fellows;
and thank you for telling us.”

Harry had for the time being quite forgotten all about his troubles; and
this was just what his chum desired most of all. Indeed, perhaps it was
more to accomplish this than anything else that he sought a meeting with
Elmer; though, of course, boy-like, he did want to even the old score,
and pay up his debt.

“You’ve never been up this far before, I reckon?” he remarked, after
they had left Rushville several miles behind.

“That’s a fact, Paul,” came the reply. “And I never dreamed that the
Conoque was such a dandy stream for this sort of thing. Why, in places
it’s fully a quarter of a mile from bank to bank. Yes, I’m glad I’ve
come with you, Paul.”

“And perhaps you’ll be more than glad before the morning passes,” Paul
was saying to himself; for he knew just how matters stood between Harry
and Elmer; and that if they could manage to humiliate the proud,
boastful spirit of the rich man’s son, it must be more or less of a
satisfaction to Harry.

Two minutes later and Paul gave vent to a cry.

“Look yonder!” he exclaimed. “A mile ahead the Cranberry flows into the
Conoque; and unless my eyes deceive me there’s an iceboat coming
whooping down that smaller stream. Yep, that’s the _Glider_, as sure as
anything. I ought to know her build; and Harry, get ready now to show
them _a streak of greased lightning_!”


“So that’s Elmer’s boat, is it?” remarked Harry, as he managed to catch
a fleeting glimpse of the tall mast of a rapidly moving craft, that was
sweeping down the ice covered tributary of the Conoque, now partly
hidden behind a clump of trees, and again passing a fairly open spot.

“Head in so as to be ready to follow after him, whichever way he turns,”
advised Paul, his voice betraying signs of excitement; for he had been
looking forward to this same meeting for many weeks, and anticipating
the pleasures of turning the tables on his boasting rival of long

But Harry seemed as cool as though there were nothing at stake. He had
schooled himself to repress his feelings when a great emergency arose,
calling for calm judgment, as well as quick action.

“I think I’ve got the course we want,” he remarked, quietly, as the
_Lightning_ bore well in toward the shore, just below the junction of
the two rivers. “I don’t dare pass too far in, because you see that high
bank, and the bunch of trees, interfere with the wind, and we’d get
blanketed. There they come, Paul!”

Shooting out from the Cranberry like a thing of life, the rival iceboat
made a graceful sweep and continued up the river.

“They did that on purpose!” cried Paul, as though a bit disgusted at the
turn affairs had taken. “Let him say what he will, I believe Elmer is
afraid of this boat. He came and examined her the day I rigged her up;
and although he pretended to laugh, I could just see that he was chewing
the rag. Yes, look at Pud waving his hand at us; and he’s shouting
something too.”

“All right,” said Harry, without the least show of worry; “we’ve got our
work cut out for us, that’s all. You know something about the river
above; can we run any distance with the boats?”

“Sure!” answered the other member of the crew; “it’s the most obliging
old river you ever heard tell of. Miles and miles it stretches away,
sometimes narrow, and again broad; but if this wind only holds out, we
can spin along like fun for more’n an hour. Hit her up, Harry, let’s see
just what the bully contraption carries up her sleeve. After ’em with a
hot stick now!”

Really, Harry needed no urging. The spirit of sport had been fully
aroused in his breast. Forgotten for the time being, were all those grim
troubles that had of late been making life so miserable for the boy. He
only seemed to remember that once more his hand grasped the tiller of a
staunch ice flier; and that a derisive challenge had floated back from
the boat ahead.

And possibly, the fact that the two fellows who manned the _Glider_ were
his most bitter and unscrupulous enemies, had more or less to do with
Harry’s determination to beat the rival boat. He would not have been
human had he felt otherwise; and while Harry possessed many fine
attributes, he was after all, only a boy at heart.

The _Lightning_ had, of course, lost considerable of her headway when
the skipper ran in so close to the high bank; but she was gradually
veering further away now, with every second.

On the other hand, the opposing boat had come out of the Cranberry under
a full sail; and shifting her course, was running up the Conoque with a
speed that opened quite a gap between the rival craft.

Then in turn Harry and Paul saw that they were getting opposite the
mouth of the smaller stream, where the wind would be wholly
unobstructed. No sooner had this occurred than they jumped ahead as
though some unseen power had taken the boat in tow.

“How about it now?” asked the skipper, wishing to have Paul report
progress; as he had about all he could do in taking care of the skimming
ice craft, watching how the wind acted on the sail, keeping a cautious
eye out for any obstruction in the way of a branch of a tree frozen in
the ice, or possibly an air hole which, if not avoided, might spell
disaster to the pursuing boat.

“We are sure holding our own, Harry!” exclaimed Paul, delightedly.

That was an experience new to him; for up to now the _Glider_ had mocked
all efforts to equal her extraordinary speed. But Harry knew that, as
yet, he had not put the new boat to her “best licks,” as he termed it.
She was capable of better things.

This was just the time and opportunity for one who knew all about the
tricks which an iceboat is capable of developing, to coax her to show
her fine points; and that was what Harry was now starting to do.

Perhaps the boats were about equal in merit. Possibly, had the crews
been reversed, Harry and Paul could have overtaken the _Lightning_,
given time with the older craft. In other words, it was a case of
superior knowledge and ability on the part of the skipper of the
_Lightning_, rather than the possession of a better boat; for the
_Glider_ was certainly what she had always been called, a “marvel.”

“Wow! we’re gaining, I do believe, Harry!” announced Paul, a minute
later; and there was a touch of actual doubt in his voice, as though the
fact might be almost too good to be true.

“Are we?” answered his chum, just as though it were nothing more than he
had been expecting right along.

“Yes, as sure as anything we must be,” Paul went on excitedly. “I’m
trying to judge distances with my eye; and honest now, I believe we’re
not so far behind as when we first passed the mouth of the Cranberry!
Oh! it’s great! Keep her moving just as she is, Harry! Do you think you
can? That wasn’t only a spurt, I hope!”

“She can do even better than that, Paul. Watch me now, for I’m on to a
new little dodge. Keep an eye for blow-holes, and branches frozen in the
ice. And Paul, shift your weight just a trifle this way. I believe the
balance will be more even.”

Another short interval followed. Then Paul gave vent to his delight

“You did something then that just made her hump herself. Why, Harry,
we’re clawing up on the old _Glider_ hand over fist! Look at ’em moving
around, will you? They’re getting scared, that’s what! Elmer never yet
saw another boat creeping up after him when he was doing his level best
to fly. Bully! Bully! Oh, ain’t we just humming along, though!”

It was no easy matter to speak while they were cutting through space at
such a tremendous pace and Paul would have done better to have saved his
breath; but he had waited and hoped for this great day so long, that he
just could not bottle up his delight.

Not a sound could they hear around them save the whistle of the wind
through the ropes above, or the sharp humming music of the runners
spurning the smooth ice. Pud had long since ceased to shout derisive
cries back at the pursuers. His scorn and mocking gestures had changed
into nervous movements, as he tried to increase the speed of the
_Glider_ by altering his position from time to time.

When another five minutes had passed, though it seemed an hour to the
impatient Paul, they had gained so much upon the other boat that the two
were now within easy speaking distance. Yet strange to say, those on the
_Glider_ maintained a dead silence, that was quite unusual to their
buoyant natures. It makes considerable difference whether one is on a
winning or a losing craft.

Paul, however, could not keep still. This experience almost set him wild
with delight. And where could you find a boy who would decline to rub it
in a little, given the chance?

“Hey! you there!” he hallooed, using his hands as a megaphone; “get out
of the way, and give us room. We’re going to pass you, and let you take
our dust! Sheer off to one side, and let us have the middle of the
river! We’ve earned the right of way. Lively now, Elmer! You’re a back
number after this, with your out-of-date boat! To the scrap heap for

Perhaps it was hardly kind of Paul to add to the humiliation which Elmer
must naturally be feeling, as he thus saw that the _Glider_ was plainly
playing “second fiddle” to the new iceboat; but it must be remembered
that for years now, the son of the richest man in Rivertown had lost no
opportunity to sneer at Paul, and humiliate him when he had the chance.

Apparently the two who crouched there on the _Glider_ were at their
wits’ ends to discover some means for increasing their speed. They
seemed to be exchanging warm sentences, and Harry even thought he heard
Elmer’s rasping voice raised in anger, as though he might be trying to
lay the burden of the blame on the bully, whose extra weight might be
just the cause for the difference in speed of the two boats.

Pud could also be heard answering back, and it sounded as though he were
telling his comrade that the fault lay in his lack of skill in managing
the _Glider_, rather than the handicap of weight.

“Can we pass ’em, d’ye think?” gasped Paul, as they drew still closer to
the leading boat, on which a dead silence had now fallen.

“Easy enough, unless Elmer chooses to play some trick on us,” replied

“Oh! would he dare do that, when we’re spinning along at this mad clip?”
demanded the owner of the new boat.

“You know him better than I do, Paul,” replied Harry. “I don’t like the
look on his face. He keeps turning his head, then grinning in a nasty
way; after which he looks ahead, just as if he was sizing up some
desperate chance. I think he means to foul us up if he can; and anyhow
it’s going to be a hard thing to pass him up here, where nobody can see
any dirty play.”

Paul seemed to consider. No doubt discretion urged him to call the race
off; but on the other hand he disliked very much to quit just when he
had his rival where he had wanted to see him so long.

A fisherman never calls a trout his own until he has the prize in his
hands; even though he may humanely throw the speckled beauty back into
the water again. And in a race it does not really count, unless you
actually pass your adversary.

So Paul, with boyish recklessness, determined to take the chances for
trouble, and pass the _Glider_, come what might. He knew Elmer to be
somewhat reckless; but found it hard to believe that the other would
risk having his own bones broken, just to smash the successful boat of
his rival.

But Paul counted wrongly. Elmer, when he became enraged, was not the
same cool, calculating schemer that he had the name of being under
normal conditions. And, urged on by the sarcastic sneers of the ugly
Pud, as well as his own keen disappointment at seeing his pet iceboat
fairly beaten, he might even take chances which at another time would
have appalled him.

“That’s too bad!” Paul heard Harry exclaim.

“Oh, what’s happened?” Paul cried, in sudden alarm. “Are we going to
lose out, after all that magnificent gain? But Harry, see, we’re still
creeping up! Only twenty feet more, and we’ll be on even terms! What do
you mean?”

“Look far ahead!” answered Harry.

“I see that the river narrows again,” the other boy replied instantly.
“Is that what you mean?”

“Yes. We’re going to have to try and pass, while in that narrow
stretch!” Harry sent across to his reclining chum; for their heads were
only a few feet apart.

“But there’s plenty of room for both! I remember that cut well, Harry! I
had my canoe upset there once, shooting the rapids when the river was
low in Summer. Yes, it’s sure wide enough for even five boats abreast!”

“If they’re piloted by honest fellows, who mean to deal squarely with
each other,” said Harry, significantly.

Paul was conscious of the fact that his chum was putting the decision
squarely up to him. He felt a little uneasy. What if they should meet
with a serious accident in trying to pass the _Glider_ in such confined
quarters? Was it right for him to drag Harry into this peril?

“What ought we do, Harry?” he demanded, quickly; for they were rushing
toward the place where the banks of the Conoque drew closer together,
and fast overtaking the rival boat.

“Are you willing to take the risk?” came the immediate reply.

“Yes; but how about you?” asked Paul.

“I’m with you, Paul,” the pilot sent back, impetuously. “The chance is
too good to be lost. And perhaps I can find a way to outwit him, if he
tries any funny business. Be ready to do your part like lightning, if I
give the word.”

“I’m on! Go it, for all you’re worth, Harry!”

There was really no time for further words. They had now reached the
beginning of the narrows, and at the same time found themselves close up
with the tail end of the other iceboat.

Paul, sending one nervous glance that way, could see Pud Snooks glaring
at them as though he could eat either of the two alive. There was an
expression on his heavy face that bordered on desperation; and Paul
became more than ever convinced that Elmer and his crony must have made
up their minds to attempt some crooked play, in the hope of balking the
efforts of the _Lightning’s_ crew to pass them.

All this while Harry had been studying his chances. He had purposely
come up from behind, and had chosen the leeward side of the boat in
advance. This was done with a distinct purpose. If, as he expected,
Elmer altered the course of the _Glider_, and attempted to block their
way, Harry meant to suddenly shift his helm and shoot up on the windward

This movement he calculated to make so suddenly as to momentarily
confuse the opposing pilot. And when Elmer could collect his senses
enough to follow suit he would be just so many seconds too late; for by
that time possibly the _Lightning_ might be on even terms; and the big
sail would blanket the _Glider_, shutting off the wind that was so
essential to her forward progress.

Then perhaps, before she could recover from this staggering blow, the
_Lightning_, which would not have lost her headway for even a second,
might be out of reach, and rapidly leaving her outwitted rival in the

At such a time as this it requires an active brain to hatch up a scheme
that carries with it a chance of success. Fortunately Harry was built
that way. He saw his opportunity, and grasped it without hesitation.

Paul, as yet, had not the remotest idea just how his chum meant to work
the deal. He recognized the fact that those on the other boat would try
to get in the way, regardless of accidents, and block their passage.
Thus Elmer would always claim that he had never been passed by any other
iceboat, and if both craft were reduced to kindling wood by the
collision, little he cared in his present reckless frame of mind.

But Paul had the utmost confidence in his comrade. He had seen Harry in
action before now, and recognized the fact that he was gifted with a
bright mind, capable of grasping the situation, and turning even a
little thing to advantage.

And so he just lay there, holding on for dear life, ready to “take his
medicine,” as he termed it, should there be a spill; and also keeping
himself in readiness to do his little part should the skipper give a
quick order; for it was Paul’s duty to look after the sail, and handle
the sheet if they had to tack during their run, with the wind heading
them off.

Now they were nosing up, so that the fore part of the _Lightning_ seemed
but a yard or two behind the rudder of the opposing craft, once called
the “Queen of the Conoque,” but apparently destined to yield up that
proud title to the later model owned by Paul Martin.


It was Paul himself who gave utterance to this exclamation. Apparently
he had been holding his breath for half a minute past, in anticipation
of what was to come; and this signified that the startling event was
being put into play.

Elmer had shifted his tiller just enough to change the course of his
boat, and veer slightly to leeward. Of course this necessitated a change
in the running of the pursuing craft, otherwise the _Lightning_ must
immediately strike the stern of the leader.

Harry followed suit, and for a moment both boats continued on that
slant. But it could not last, of course. The shore was too close by; and
if they continued to veer to leeward both must go aground, to the utter
demoralization of the delicate craft.

Paul could see that leering face of Pud almost within reach of his hand.
It seemed as though the bully might be asking what he was going to do
about it; and giving him to understand that he might as well cut his
halyards, and let his sail drop, because he and Elmer were grimly
determined that no iceboat should ever sail past the _Glider_, come what

So Paul set his teeth hard, expecting a spill of some sort when the bow
of his boat struck the stern of the other, while going at this amazing
speed. Perhaps his face was white, which fact could hardly be wondered
at under the circumstances. But there was no sign of fear there. Paul
proved game when the test came, just as Harry had known would be the

A foot—why the distance between the two boats must be measured by inches
now, so rapidly had it been cut down by the rush of the pursuing craft.

Just as Paul gave a gasp, expecting to feel the shock of the collision,
and perhaps be tumbled headlong over the smooth ice, he felt Harry make
a sudden move.

The skipper of the _Lightning_ had waited until the very last second,
and then swung the tiller around!

Instantly obeying the rudder, the able boat changed her course. She no
longer headed to leeward, but swung in the other direction, aiming for
the windward bank of the river.

“Oh! bully! bully! bully!” cried Paul, as the plan of his chum flashed
across his mind; and at the same time he occupied himself in tugging at
the sheet in order to shape the bellying sail to the new course of the
rapidly-driven boat.

Apparently Elmer was taken quite by surprise by this movement on the
part of his rival. His mind was not quite equal to grasping the full
significance of it, and responding so rapidly that he might still have a
chance of bringing about a disastrous collision.

When he swung around, Pud was also slow to do his duty with the rope
governing the sail. He had been altogether wrapped up in setting himself
for the anticipated shock of an upset; so that it took him several
seconds to grasp the new conditions.

When they did succeed in changing their course, just before bringing up
on the lee shore, it seemed as though it might be too late, for the able
_Lightning_ had improved her opportunity in a glorious manner.

Elmer was seized with a fit of blind fury. He realized that he had been
beaten at his own game, and by the boy whom he had always felt that
sense of unjust hatred ever since the day Harry Watson first came to the
Rivertown High School, and carried off the honors of that bob-sled dash
down the hill.

The one thing he wanted to do now was to smash into the _Lightning_,
regardless of consequences. Elmer believed in the “rule or ruin” policy.
If his boat was no longer to be the fastest on the Conoque, he would at
least never allow another to carry off the honors.

And so the reckless boy deliberately headed for the rival craft, his aim
being to come down upon the port quarter of the frail _Lightning_ with
such an impetus that the other boat must be utterly demolished.

Paul saw what was impending. His quivering words of delight ceased to
flow; for again he feared that this implacable and unscrupulous foe was
in a position to carry out his quickly-conceived scheme of revenge.

But Harry knew better. His quick and experienced eye judged distances
better than that of his chum. True, he edged in a bit closer toward the
nearby shore; but that may have been for a double purpose. It gave him a
trifle longer to make the pull; and at the same time rendered the
possibility of Elmer and Pud coming to grief a _certainty_.

Five seconds is not a very long stretch of time; and yet there may be
times in the experiences of some people when it seems next door to an
eternity. And Paul was now feeling something that way.

He saw the oncoming _Glider_ rushing down at them—he could mark the
strained faces of the two desperate fellows who sprawled there on the
thin planking that served as a deck to the runners—and he caught his
breath with a queer little click as he wondered whether after all Harry
was going to carry his clever game through to a successful end; or if
the new boat was destined to be smashed then and there on its first
glorious cruise.

Then the crisis came.

In changing his course so much, in order to strike the _Lightning_
squarely in the port quarter, Elmer had failed to realize that he was
heading up in the teeth of the wind more than his rival. And in this way
he was handicapped so far as keeping up his pace was concerned.

So the _Glider_ swept to the rear of the new boat, just comfortably
missing her. The victory had been won, since the _Lightning_ had thus
forged ahead, and passed her rival!

Paul started to give a whoop of delight. Then he stopped, for there was
heard a sudden loud smash as the boat of the baffled plotters struck the

“She’s done for! Gone to flinders, Harry! Oh, what a race, and they’ve
got just what they deserve. But I hope neither of them has been badly
hurt!” exclaimed Paul, who, even in the excitement of victory could
think of the defeated foe.

“I feel the same way as you do about it, Paul,” replied the pilot at the
tiller of the now undisputed champion of the Conoque, as he headed
straight up the narrows toward the wide reach above; “but I don’t think
that cuts much figure in it, for I’m sure I saw Pud jump to his feet out
of the wreck; while Elmer was crawling out, and limping around as we
turned that bend just below.”

“Well, if ever a sly schemer got caught in his own trap that fellow
was,” remarked Paul, his indignation now getting the better of his
sympathy. “And he sure deserves all he’s got. We’ll go on a way further,
and then turn back. Perhaps we’ll overtake our two friends, the enemy,
limping along the ice on the way home; and they may even accept a lift

But after all, Paul’s good intentions were fated never to be put to the
test, for although they saw the wrecked _Glider_ piled up in a shattered
heap on the shore in the narrows, nothing of the two unlucky skippers
was discovered on the way down the river; and they concluded the boys
had made their way ashore, to hire some farmer to drive them all the way
back to Rivertown.

When the story of the eventful race was told to the boys of Rivertown
most of them declared that Elmer and Pud had been paid in their own
coin; and few sympathized with them when they appeared on the streets
with sundry strips of court plaster decorating their faces, and with
decided limps.

“At any rate,” said Paul, as he separated from his chum at the Watson
gate, “we _did_ have a great time of it; and I reckon it’s done you a
heap of good, Harry,” in which opinion the other certainly shared; and
declared that he was glad he had accepted the invitation to try the new


Keeping more and more to himself, Harry finally gave up the pleasure of
skating with his friends after school, preferring to go on long runs

As he was gliding over the ice on one of these occasions, he saw a girl
and a boy skating well out toward the middle of the river, so far from
him that he could not recognize them.

For two days before, there had been a decided thaw and the ice in the
middle of the river was not considered safe by the majority of the
skaters. Accordingly, when Harry beheld the two figures, he was amazed.

“Must be from Lumberport or Cardell,” he told himself. “None of our
people would be foolish enough to go out there. Guess I’ll see who it

And without delay, he started toward the couple.

“Good gracious! It’s Viola and Craven!” he gasped, when he was near
enough to get a good look at them. For a moment, the boy was uncertain
what to do. The girl had been keeping more and more aloof from him, and
correspondingly more and more in the company of the rich student; and
well he knew that Elmer would resent his advice in some insulting

To his relief, however, the couple seemed to be so engrossed in one
another that they did not see him, and after watching them for several
minutes he was on the point of turning away when he saw them both sink,
and then heard terrified screams for help.

The cries also reached some of the other boys and girls farther down the
river, and they set out to the assistance of the struggling skaters. But
none of them had the speed of Harry.

With a swiftness that was astounding, the boy rushed over the ice toward
the hole that was constantly growing larger.

Badly frightened, both Viola and Elmer clutched frantically at the edges
of the ice, only to have them break away, sometimes in small chunks,
again in large pieces.

“Let Viola hang onto the edge by herself. Go farther down, you Craven!”
shouted Harry as he dashed toward them.

But instead of obeying, having found a piece that would hold, the rich
boy clung to it, allowing Viola to be carried past him.

“Oh, if I were only in the water with him, I’d fix the coward!” cried
Harry. “I only wish the others were near enough to see what he did.”

Thanks to his speed, our hero was so close to the hole that he was
obliged to exercise caution lest he, too, break through.

“Here, give me a hand. That ice’ll hold you!” shouted Elmer, as his
rival approached.

But Harry seemed not to hear him.

“Hey, you fool, get me out of this; then we two can get Viola.”

His pleading, however, was without avail. Straight along the edge of the
hole Harry skated until he was abreast of the girl of whom he was so

“Just keep hold of that ice cake a few moments longer,” he called
encouragingly. “I’ll have you out in no time.”

“But I’m too far from the edge. You never can reach me!” sobbed Viola.
And as she saw the firm ice so close to her, she made a frantic effort
to swim out, with the result that she lost her hold on the floating ice

Harry had been hoping that the current would carry the girl in toward a
part of the river where it would not be so difficult for him to get to
her. But the instant he saw her hands slip from the cake, he sprang into
the water.

Being a good swimmer, it required only a few strokes for him to reach
the side of the girl, but as he did so his troubles began.

Handicapped by his clothes and his skates, when Viola seized him in the
despairing clutch of a drowning person, he was almost drawn under.

“No, no, you mustn’t grab me around the throat, Viola!” he gasped. “Put
your hands on my shoulders. If you don’t, you’ll drown us both. I won’t
let you sink—and if you’ll only do as I tell you, I’ll have you safe and
sound in a jiffy.”

Something there was in the tone in which the boy spoke that not only
soothed the frenzied girl, but gave her confidence, and though she did
not remove her hands from around Harry’s neck, she ceased her struggles,
permitting him, by means of the ice cakes, and treading water, to make
his way toward the firm ice.

The other boys and girls who were hastening to the assistance of their
schoolmates had watched the rescue eagerly, and when they saw the boy
half roll, half lift the girl out onto the solid ice, they cheered

But in saving Viola, Harry had overtaxed his strength. Indeed, it had
only been by putting every ounce of his power into the effort that he
had been able to raise the girl from the water; and the instant he saw
her safe, he sank back.

The realization that she was on sound ice, however, restored the girl to
her senses; and as she beheld the boy who had saved her from the icy
waters lose his hold, she spun about; and with a quick move, caught his
coat sleeve as his arm went up in the air.

To the task of pulling Harry from the water, however, Viola was not

“Hurry! Hurry! Help me!” she shouted to the leaders of the other
would-be rescue party. “I can’t hold him much longer!”

“Hey, you, come and get me first! I’ve been in the water longer!” yelled

But fortunately for Harry, it was Paul and Jerry who were in the van of
the skaters, and at Viola’s cries, they put on every ounce of speed they
had, relieving her of her hold just in the nick of time.

Harry, however, was more used up than the others had believed, and it
was several minutes before he opened his eyes.

“Is—is Viola safe?” he gasped.

“Indeed, I am, Harry!” returned the girl, bending over him. And there
was a light in her eyes that thrilled the boy who had rescued her.

When he tried to get up, Harry found he had no strength.

“Somebody go get a sled,” commanded Longback.

“And let him lie here cold and wet, while you’re going for it?” stormed
Viola. “Pick him up and carry him, some of you.”

Instantly Paul, Jerry, Dawson and another boy seized Harry, and half
supporting, half carrying him, they got him to the shore, while Nettie
and the other girls helped Viola, leaving Elmer to the tender mercies of
Pud and Socker, who had finally arrived in time to drag him from the

But even they wasted few words on him, ashamed as they were to think
that he should have sought to save himself at the sacrifice of Viola.

Straight to bed did Mrs. Watson put Harry when he was brought to the
house, giving him warming drinks; while his chums rubbed his benumbed
arms and legs. But he did not respond to their treatment as quickly as
he should, and in alarm, his aunt finally sent for a doctor.

Grave, indeed, did the man of medicine look after he had completed his
examination of the boy.

“If he’d been exposed for another half hour, I doubt if we could have
brought him around,” he announced. “As it is, it will be several days
before he will be up and about.”

But the physician was mistaken—his days were weeks.

His nervous system overtaxed because of his worry in regard to his
father, Harry’s physical condition had run down, and the chill he
received caused him to go off into pneumonia.

Harry’s illness, however, served one good purpose—it caused a reaction
in the feelings of his schoolmates. When it became noised around that he
had endangered his life to rescue the girl who was skating with his
implacable enemy, the boys and girls of Rivertown High realized that he
was made of good material. And their change in feelings was shown by
calls they made to ask about his condition, and the delicacies they sent
in. But only Paul, Jerry and finally Viola were allowed to see him,
though they were forbidden to talk to him.

Little, indeed, did he talk, and then only to ask if word had come from
Jed Brown. And as his aunt was forced, day after day, to declare that
she had heard nothing, the boy seemed to lose all interest in getting

But the crippled veteran, though silent, had not deserted the boy who
had rescued him from the bully.

Arrived in Lawrenceburgh, he had vainly pleaded with several influential
men to arrange for a stay in the execution of sentence upon Harry’s
father. But one and all, they turned a deaf ear to his pleadings, and
Mr. Watson was forced to go to prison.

But on the very day he entered upon his term of punishment, old Jed
stumbled upon a clue which was to prove his innocence.

Chancing to drop into a tobacco store which was kept by one of his war
comrades, he was amazed to find still another member of his old company
dressed in handsome clothes and wearing a diamond ring. As the man had
always been a ne’er-do-well, the change in his circumstances puzzled
Jed, and when the fellow had taken his departure, he asked the
shop-keeper what had caused it.

“That’s what I’d like to find out,” returned the tobacconist. “For the
last six months, Bill has been going around with his pockets full of
money. He’s living at the Ransom House, too.”

This being one of the chief hotels in Lawrenceburgh, the fact still
further emphasized the turn in the veteran’s fortunes.

“Ever give you any idea how he got the money?” asked Jed.

“Says he done it by writing. Bill always was a good writer, you know.
Don’t you remember how he used to forge pass orders for some of the boys
when they wanted to leave camp?”

The words sent an idea to Jed’s mind, and bidding the shop-keeper a
hasty good-bye, he hied himself to the Ransom House, where he made many
inquiries about the former soldier. At first he made little headway; but
just as he was giving up in despair, he saw another old comrade.

“Say, what’s the matter with you Rivertown folks?” asked this man. “Have
you come down to see Bill Hawkins, too? Ned Snooks visits him about once
a month.”

At the mention of the Rivertown butcher, the crippled veteran gasped.
Then he remembered that bad feeling had sprung up between the butcher
and Mr. Watson over a real estate deal in which the former maintained
that he had been swindled—and Jed immediately concluded that Ned Snooks
was at the bottom of the charges against Harry’s father.

But it was one thing to believe this, and quite another to prove it—yet
with that perseverance which had distinguished him as a soldier in the
ranks, Jed set about obtaining evidence; and finally succeeded in
extracting a confession from Hawkins, that, acting for the butcher, he
had forged the name of Snooks to some checks, and managed to lay the
blame on Amos Watson.

Elated, Jed again approached the influential men who had refused to
intercede for their fellow townsman, and after convincing them of the
truth of the confession, received their aid in obtaining Mr. Watson’s
release from prison, and subsequent exoneration from the charge of

Ignorant of the illness of Harry, the old veteran did not report on his
progress, and the first news the boy had of the change in his father’s
condition was when a telegram was brought to him.

With trembling fingers he opened it, then uttered a faint cry of joy, as
he read:

  “Harry Watson,

  Charges against me proven false. I want you to come to Lawrenceburgh
  to spend Sunday with me.


Better than any tonic or care was the news to Harry, and though he was
not able to go to his father, Mr. Watson came to him, bringing good old
Jed Brown with him, and happy, indeed, was the reunion.

Despite his villainy, Mr. Watson refused to prosecute Ned Snooks; but
public opinion was so aroused against the butcher that he sold his
property, and moved away from Rivertown, while the man he had so wronged
decided to live in the town, and in due course opened a real estate

“But didn’t Pud know about this forgery from the first?” asked Harry, of
his parent, one day.

“I think not, my son,” replied Mr. Watson. “Mr. Snooks was a man who
kept his affairs to himself. Had Pud known he would have taunted you
long before he did.”

“It was grand of old Jed Brown to act as he did,” murmured our hero. “We
owe him a great deal.”

“He is to live with me and your Aunt Mary after this,” said the father.
“He is going to help me in my real estate business. As he is getting
old, I shall let him take it as easy as he pleases.” And so it was

When Harry returned to Rivertown High he was given an ovation that made
him blush like a girl. The only person who remained in the background
was Elmer Craven. He had nothing to say; and when, during the following
Fall, the Craven family moved to Boston, Elmer was glad to go along, so
he would not have to return to a school where he was in such bad odor.

Harry continued at Rivertown High School for the full term of four
years; and when he graduated he did so at the top of his class. Then he
went into the real estate business with his father, and both made money
rapidly. His friendship for Viola ripened into a much more tender
feeling; and it is reported that some day the pair will be married. But
though Harry was successful as a land dealer he never became tired of
talking about his high-school days.

“We had some great times,” he said, one day, to Paul.

“We sure did!” replied his chum. “In my opinion there is no better
school in all the world than Rivertown High!”

“Right you are!” responded Harry. “And as matters have turned out I am
very glad that I came here.”

The Webster Series


Mr. Webster’s style is very much like that of the boys’ favorite author,
the late lamented Horatio Alger, Jr., but his tales are thoroughly

Cloth. 12mo. Over 200 pages each. Illustrated.

Stamped in various colors.

Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid.

Only A Farm Boy, _or Dan Hardy’s Rise in Life_
The Boy From The Ranch, _or Roy Bradner’s City Experiences_
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Tom The Telephone Boy, _or The Mystery of a Message_
Bob The Castaway, _or The Wreck of the Eagle_
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Darry The Life Saver, _or The Heroes of the Coast_
Dick The Bank Boy, _or A Missing Fortune_
Ben Hardy’s Flying Machine, _or Making a Record for Himself_
Harry Watson’s High School Days, _or The Rivals of Rivertown_
Comrades of the Saddle, _or The Young Rough Riders of the Plains_
Tom Taylor at West Point, _or The Old Army Officer’s Secret_
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_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors._

_Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid._

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such a style as to captivate the hearts of all boys._

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